WASHINGTON: Vets rally to restore benefits

Veterans rallied at Walter Reed Army Medical Center Nov. 11 in opposition to the Bush Iraq war and demand full funding to provide care for wounded soldiers.

According to the Pentagon’s conservative estimate, 15,477 soldiers have been wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Patrick McCann, 51, member of Veterans for Peace (VFP) and a Maryland teacher, charged that Bush is hiding wounded men and women to maintain public support for the war and justify budget cuts. “We are not going to let them be an invisible cost of the war,” he said.

On Nov. 7, Veterans for Peace members visited recovering soldiers, listening to their stories and bringing them books and homemade cookies.

Army veteran and VFP Vice President Ellen Barfield charged the White House with lying: “I think it’s just horrendous what our leaders have done to mislead the populace, especially the soldiers.”

WATERVILLE, Maine: VFW vandalizes war casualties’ tribute

Permit in hand, Bridges for Peace, a local peace coalition that includes many veterans, planted 2,000 white flags in Veterans Memorial Park on Oct. 30 to honor U.S. men and women killed during the Iraq war. They also set up signs protesting the war.

On the eve of Veterans Day, 10 members of Veterans of Foreign War Post 1285 and their friends decided to rip out the white flags. Bridges members were on hand to protect their commemoration and called police. Police arrested five pro-war activists, including the commander of Post 1285, Wayne Elkins.

“I’m saddened that it has come to this, but I have a responsibility to maintain public safety,” said Police Chief John Morris, a Vietnam veteran. “Veterans died to allow freedom to exist — whether they like the message or not.”

Bridges for Peace had contacted the VFW Post to see if they would co-sponsor the commemoration. They received no answer.

WASHINGTON: In hate crimes, racism is likeliest motive

Violent racist acts against African Americans account for more than half of the 7,649 hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2004, the agency reported Nov. 14.

While total hate crimes increased by 2 percent over 2003, crimes against Black men and women increased 5 percent, from 3,844 in 2003 to 4,042 in 2004.

The report said there was a slight decrease in crimes motivated by hatred based on sexual orientation. There were 1,201 offenses based on ethnicity or national origin, the majority of which (51 percent) were motivated by anti-Hispanic bias.

In 2001, following 9/11, Middle Eastern peoples and South Asian peoples suffered 481 attacks. That has declined and leveled off to a total of 150 over the past three years.

Jewish people remain the target of religious-based hate crimes, the report said. Of the 1,374 episodes of violence based on religion, 954 victims were Jewish.

WASHINGTON: Arctic drilling held at bay, for now

The door knocking, phone banking and lobbying by environmentalists targeting Republican House members is paying off. On Nov. 8, a letter signed by 25 GOP Representatives was delivered to the House leadership requesting the provision that gives oil corporations permission to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve be removed from the budget now before Congress.

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), House majority leader, admitted that the budget would fail if all the 25 voted against it. Democrats are united to halt the drilling. House Republican leaders are using home heating assistance as a hammer to nail the 25 back in line. If the budget crashes and burns in the House, it goes back into conference with the Senate, which passed the budget earlier this year.

MILWAUKEE: Vets for Peace banned from parade

In Pittsburgh and in cities across the country, the Veterans for Peace group have carried their banner and marched with units in the annual Veterans Day Parade — everywhere except Milwaukee this year.

Mary Ann D’Aquisto, president of the Veterans Day Parade of Milwaukee, Inc., told the VFP, “I will not allow anything political!”

John Zutz, a Vietnam veteran responded, “They are choosing which political statements are correct and which are incorrect.”

VFP “stood for peace” in Veterans Park, where the parade ended.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com).