Resisting War and Wiretaps
Opponents of the U.S. occupation of Iraq last week took petitions to the offices of U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Milford) and U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood). Hundreds of local MoveOn.org members added their names to an online petition that was taken to representatives across the nation. The petition drive, part of MoveOn's national "Out in '06" campaign, stated, "Congress must insist that America have an exit strategy from Iraq. We need a timeline that starts now and gets us out of Iraq in 2006."
Heather Sayre of Westwood says she's participated in several anti-war rallies and thinks every bit of the effort counts. "Hopefully this will get (Chabot) thinking, since we have votes coming up in Congress," she says.
"I'm hoping to lobby Chabot to come up with a realistic withdrawal program, hastening the end of the war," says Glen Miller of Price Hill. "I thought going in was flawed. It scares me that the president thought he had good intelligence."
Schmidt says she received 18 petitions with 784 names attached.
"Everyone is entitled to their own view, and it is not my job to judge someone's view," she says. "I think I can say safely that their position on this issue is nowhere near a majority view in my district."
Clifton resident Peter Rose says that he attended the petition drop because he believes it's important to show a physical presence.
"My hope is that Congress recognizes that, for every person willing to come out in the cold, there are hundreds of others with similar views," he says.
The MoveOn petitioners delivered their signatures and statements without making an appointment. Schmidt's office says she could have met with them if they'd called first.
One needn't go back to the Nixon administration for reminders of what happens when police agencies engage in illegal wiretapping. Cincinnati was the focus of a wiretap scandal involving a pair of Cincinnati Bell installers and at least seven Cincinnati Police officers in 1989.
Just as President Bush insists that he allows wiretapping without warrants in order to combat terrorism, the Cincinnati wiretappers claimed they started snooping for a good cause. With wiretaps on bookies and drug dealers, the cops, like Bush, said they were acting to protect society.
But the Cincinnati Bell installers said the operation mushroomed, with illegal wiretaps against both dissidents — a Nation of Islam mosque in College Hill, Students for a Democratic Society in Clifton — and public officials, including members of city council, local representatives in Congress and even federal judges in Cincinnati.
In 1989 Mayor Charlie Luken accused the city administration of helping to cover up the wiretap operation. After retired Police Chief Myron Leistler and others signed confessions — for which they were never prosecuted — city council hired a special investigator. Yet council never released his report to the public. Despite widespread national media coverage and a brief expression of interest by Congress (www.fas.org/irp/congress/1989_cr/ s890418-bug.htm), the full extent of the scandal was never revealed.
Days of Plenty Leave Poor Out in the Cold
Despite favorable national economic reports, people at the bottom of the economic ladder still suffer. In the first eight days of December the Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank had a 48 percent increase in the number of people seeking emergency food aid, with 1,505 visiting its distribution center in Over-the-Rhine — 455 more than the same period last year.
At the same time the Freestore received $153,000 in donations — a drop of 21 percent from the first eight days of December in 2004.
The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless holds a vigil at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Washington Park to remember homeless people who have died in the past year. Sometimes their deaths are tragic commentaries on the way Americans treat the poor; two weeks ago a homeless man froze to death in Covington.
Don't look for major increases next year, but Mayor Mark Mallory is voicing concerns that funding for human services, which are held at 2005 levels, might not be adequate in 2006. Prior to a Dec. 19 hearing by city council's Finance Committee, Mallory listed some of his concerns about the biennial budget negotiated last year before he took office.
"While this budget maintains the human services allocation at 2005 levels, I am concerned that this level may not be fully adequate," he said. "It is my goal to increase the human services allocation as resources become available."
It was the moral — rather than the economic — cost of food that had Santa´s Sexy Helper standing at Fifth and Vine streets in the nipply weather Dec. 20. Wearing a skimpy outfit and a jaunty red hat, a volunteer with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) distributed free samples of Tofurky — a soy-based roast that has no animal products in it. Food animals such as turkeys, pigs and cattle often suffer cruel treatment before their slaughter, according to PETA.
"With so many delicious alternatives such as Tofurky now available, it's easier than ever to celebrate the true peaceful spirit of the holidays without causing animal suffering," says Bruce Friedrich, PETA's director of vegan outreach.
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