NATIONAL CLIPS: November 17

LONG BEACH, Calif.: Antiwar vets barred from parade

Even though they marched in this city’s 2006 Veterans Day Parade, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), Veterans for Peace (VFP) and Military Families Speak Out, all antiwar organizations, were denied their rights to join over 100 contingents in the 11th annual celebration honoring veterans of all wars.

“Just because we don’t agree with the war doesn’t mean we served our country any less,” said IVAW member Joe Wheeler, who stood on a traffic island with members from the other groups holding peace placards. Wheeler served in Iraq in 2003.

VFP member Ret. Col. Ann Wright resigned from the Army after 29 years of duty following President Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. “It’s pretty sad when you have a private group excluding some veterans based on their political beliefs,” she said.

The Veterans Day Parade Committee is a private, nonprofit group. According to parade coordinator Martha Thuente, the group’s board voted unanimously to reject the application of all three antiwar groups, even though their memberships are either veterans or family members of veterans.

After three tours of duty in Iraq, Marine Jason Lemieux felt belittled. “I wanted to march like the rest of the Iraq veterans,” he said. “I’m a veteran of a foreign war. I think I deserve that respect.”



OLYMPIA, Wash.: Peace activists arrested for blocking military gear

Peace activists, calling the Iraq war illegal, have been demonstrating at the port here since the war started four years ago. This Nov. 9 they stopped two trucks hauling military equipment from going through the gates. At demonstrations the next day, over a dozen activists were arrested when they again tried to halt trucks carrying military gear, possibly Stryker armored combat vehicles.

Police in full riot uniform used pepper gas and wielded batons to clear protesters from the street. Andrew Yankey claimed police pepper-sprayed him and other demonstrators directly in the face.

Protester Sam Green told an NBC News reporter, “This is a movement that is affecting every single person in the country, and in other countries, and this is a movement that people all around the world need to start joining in to end it, because it will be the end of us if we don’t end it.”

The activists, who were later released, face a variety of charges, including “pedestrian interference.”



PALO ALTO, Calif.: Stanford students say no to Rumsfeld

When Stanford University’s Hoover Institute announced it had appointed former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to a visiting fellow’s seat at the institute in September, a faculty member launched a petition to halt the appointment. By November, over 4,000 of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students had signed the petition.

On Nov. 8, about 200 students demonstrated against the appointment.

“The concern with Secretary Rumsfeld is that he might be ‘distinguished’ for the wrong reasons,” said psychiatry professor David Spiegel.

Philosophy professor Debra Satz said, “If you consider his entire career, you could make an argument for the title ‘distinguished.’ But really, we’re talking about the last six or seven years, and I think across the board, he has been an incompetent secretary of defense.”

Just about two weeks before, on Oct. 26, Rumsfeld hurriedly fled France after four human rights groups filed criminal charges against him for his role in authorizing torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Since leaving his position as a government official, Rumsfeld has lost his immunity to prosecution.



LEWISTON, Maine: Somali American runner charges foul play

Police are investigating charges that Mohamed Noor, a Lewiston High School runner of African descent, had sand thrown into his eyes by a white spectator during the 73rd New England Cross Country Championship in nearby Cumberland, Nov. 10.

Noor said he went from second place in the race to finishing 124th because someone threw something in his eyes.

“I’m livid,” Noor’s coach, Ray Putnam, told a reporter from the Bangor Daily News. “He was shivering and he was vomiting. His eyes were bloodshot; there was no white in his eyes at all.

“He kept saying, ‘Somebody threw something in my eye. Somebody threw something in my eye.’”

Noor, a local hero in the sizeable Somali community here, was regarded as a possible winner of the race.

Putnam said, “It’s the most infuriating thing I’ve seen in my life.”

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696 @aol.com). W.T. Whitney contributed..