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News and reports

November 30, 2007 | Pages 10 and 11

Seattle students' antiwar walkout
Support war resisters
Healthcare-Now! conference

Seattle students' antiwar walkout
By Jason Farbman

SEATTLE--More than 500 students at high schools and colleges throughout Seattle walked out of class November 16, in protest of the occupation of Iraq. The event was organized by Youth Against War and Racism.

At Seattle Central Community College (SCCC), 50 people marched through halls, banging on walls and chanting "Walk out! Stop the war!"

There was a brief speak-out, where campus organizers from the Antiwar Collective and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), among others, addressed the crowd. IVAW member Mateo Rabecchi took the Democrats to task for failing to honor the clear antiwar mandate they were elected on a year ago. To applause, he said, "When I was in the military, if we were given a job, and didn't do it, there were consequences."

The SCCC students marched downtown, where they were met by hundreds of other students. After a rally, students and their supporters marched to a recruiting station in the Central District, a working-class neighborhood. As the recruiting station was surrounded by protesters, it was barricaded off by police, in effect shutting operations down for the day.

Originally, police had refused to issue a permit for any march leading past the recruiting station. Eventually they backed down, as organizers insisted on exercising their rights.

Students from other cities in Washington walked out as well that day, including as many as 400 in Olympia and 100 in Bellingham. The day before, nearly 100 students walked out in Tacoma.

Teachers sympathetic to the walkout were punished at one school, in Tukwila, where 200 students walked out. One teacher was put on administrative leave, and five others received memos indicating they were under investigation for "misconduct relating to you in connection with the student walk-out."

While school administrators' efforts may be trying to intimidate some students now, it is clear that many are standing firm in their resolve to see a new student antiwar movement emerge.

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Support war resisters
By Alan Maass

ANTIWAR ACTIVISTS in Canada and the U.S. are protesting a Canadian Supreme Court decision not to hear the appeals of two U.S. soldiers who sought refuge in Canada rather than fight the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

The court denied the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, who "were among the first Iraq War resisters to arrive in Canada in 2004," wrote Jeff Paterson, a resister during the first Gulf War and leading member of the group Courage to Resist.

"Their case for political refugee status rested on the fact that the U.S. invasion and occupation is illegal under both U.S. and international law. Based on the United Nations convention on refugees, they should not be prosecuted for refusing to fight in an illegal conflict. Canada's Immigration Review Board and the Canadian courts, however, denied a hearing on these facts."

Courage to Resist is calling on activists to put their names to an appeal to Canadian officials on behalf of the resisters.

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Healthcare-Now! conference
By Helen Redmond

CHICAGO--One hundred people representing 30 states attended a national strategy conference held here over the weekend of November 10-11, sponsored by the group Healthcare-Now!

Leading members of the National Nurses Organizing Committee, California Nurses Association (CNA), Physicians for a National Health Plan, the United Steel Workers, United Electrical Workers, United Auto Workers and dozens of other grassroots organizations participated, with the aim of building the movement for a single-payer health care system.

The conference was inspiring for the sense of optimism and rock-solid commitment to single-payer that pervaded.

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) opened the meeting by discussing HR 676, legislation for a national single-payer health care system that he is sponsoring. So far, 86 members of Congress have cosponsored the bill.

Speakers talked about health care as a social justice issue, how building a grassroots movement is crucial, and how many politicians will have to be forced to support single-payer because they accept money from health insurance corporations.

Activists gave examples of actions across the country they are using to build the fight, including "truth hearings" (meetings where people tell health care horror stories); organizing a picket in front of a Blue Cross building; and launching the Sicko-Cure Road Show, which will visit 11 states in 22 congressional districts. There also were breakout sessions that focused on organizing among the labor, faith, and other communities.

Plans for the upcoming year include a national day of action against the insurance companies. The fight for single-payer is on!

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