Ten Good Things About a (Not So) Bad Year

by Medea Benjamin

I had the privilege of starting out last year witnessing, firsthand, the unfolding of the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir Square. I saw people who had been muzzled their entire lives, especially women, suddenly discovering their collective voice. Singing, chanting, demanding, creating. And that became the hallmark of entire year–people the world over becoming empowered and emboldened simply by watching each other. Courage, we learned in 2011, is contagious!

1. The Arab Spring protests were so astounding that even Time magazine recognized “The Protester” as Person of the Year. Sparked by Tunisian vendor Mohamed Bouazizi‘sself-immolation to cry out against police corruption in December 2010, the protests swept across the Middle East and North Africa—including Egypt,Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq, and Jordan. So far, uprisings have toppled Tunesian President Ben Ali, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Libyan leader  Muammar Gaddafi–with more shake-ups sure to come. And women have been on the front lines of these protests, highlighted recently by the incredibly brave, unprecedented demo of 10,000 Egyptian women protesting military abuse.

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Why I “Assaulted” Defense Chief Leon Panetta

by 
Alli McCracken 

Alli McCracken being arrested by the police for protesting at the Congressional hearing

“Assault? Who — or what — did I assault?” I asked the police officer incredulously as I sat in his office at the police station, handcuffed to the wall. “Well, looks like it was Leon Panetta himself,” the officer responded as he flipped through a pile of paperwork.

Me? A 22-year-old mild-mannered peace activist, assaulted the Secretary of Defense? I had simply tried to tell him how I felt about the wars. 

On the morning of October 13th about 25 activists who are occupying Washington DC, as part of the nationwide occupations, went on a field trip to Congress. We wanted to attend the House Armed Services Committee hearing where Leon Panetta, the Secretary of Defense, and Martin Dempsy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were testifying about “lessons learned by the Department of Defense over the preceding decade” and “how those lessons might be applied in the future in light of anticipated reductions in defense spending.” After all, these hearings are open to the public. And shouldn’t we have a say in where our money is being spent?

As a peace activist with the group CODEPINK for the past 10 months, I have done my fair share of sending letters and emails and delivering petitions to our government representatives, asking them to stop pouring trillions of our taxpayer dollars into the endless cycle of death, destruction and reconstruction halfway across the world. There are so many critical things that we could spend that money on here in America, such as education, healthcare, helping the homeless, the elderly, the disabled, the veterans.

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‘We don’t need no occupation … Hey, AIPAC, leave Palestine alone!’

Great marshalling of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ by a CodePink flashmob yesterday.

On Monday, December 13, when the American Israel Public Affairs Committee held its annual dinner in Oakland, a group of activists performed a flashmob inside the Marriott hotel to the tune of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ addressing Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. Six activists and one writer were arrested. The flashmob was coordinated by activists representing CODEPINK Women for Peace, American Friends Service Committee, US Boat to Gaza, Students for Justice in Palestine, Queers Undoing Israeli Terror and Don’t Buy Into Apartheid.