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You’re the woman! Hillary Clinton gets encouragement from New York’s top dogs.

PHOTO: Martin Benjamin

An Uneasy Truce

Hillary Clinton gets the backing of New York’s top politicians—and a visit from the peace movement

 

‘If the president does not end the war in Iraq, I will as soon as I take office,” Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) told the thousands gathered around the base of the Capitol steps, the mothers cradling their children on the less crowded Capitol lawn, and the men in suits who stuck their heads out of surrounding buildings, on Monday. Her strong antiwar message was in stark contrast to the middle-of-the-road positioning she clung to before she entered the presidential race. And the strong message garnered a fervent response from the crowd.

Clinton had come to the Capitol to accept the endorsement of New York’s top political figure, Gov. Eliot Spitzer. In addition, she received the support of other top Democratic politicians, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Before she left, Clinton made an unconventional request of the crowd—she asked them to text message her. She unveiled a new program that would allow campaign supporters to keep in touch with her campaign via text messaging. And yet, just across the park on the other side of the Capitol, a group of peace demonstrators tried to send Clinton a message that she likely didn’t get.

While the politicians down the street praised Clinton, speakers in West Capitol Park spoke of what Clinton hadn’t done to stop the war in Iraq or the policies of the Bush administration. No one gathered had heard Clinton’s message on the war, but all who were told about it agreed that it was too little, too late.

“Do you remember Johnson?” asked Elliot Adams of Veterans for Peace. “Need I say any more?” (In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson ran a campaign pledging not to send troops to Vietnam. However, when he took office, the Vietnam War escalated, and Johnson did end up sending troops.)

Led by Adams, the group strolled downtown toward the Leo O’Brien Federal Building with the warm sun on their backs. They assembled again in front of the Palace Theatre, literature on nonviolent resistance was distributed, and the demonstrators were reminded about a choice they’d soon have to make: Leave when the security detail in the building asks you to leave and you’ll be fine, or stay after they ask you to go, and you will likely be processed and ticketed.

Around 2:30 PM, with Adams leading the way, the group marched into the lobby of the federal building, where Clinton keeps her local office. They formed a circle in the lobby with their backs to the windows, and promptly lifted lists in front of their faces and began chanting the names of soldiers and civilians whose lives were taken in the Iraq War. They chanted the names and ages of the departed and stated, “We remember you,” and then sounded a gong. Two hours into their stay, Adams began speaking to representatives of the police, while passersby in suits and military fatigues gave awkward stares and sometimes broad smiles.

Bob Alft, a demonstrator who brought his two sons along for the experience, stood outside the building, lending support to those inside. Alft noted that the last time he had been part of a sit-in at the building, the guards there had been nothing but supportive, telling the group they were doing the right thing. By 5 PM the group no longer stood tall—they sat slouched, still methodically reading names while waiting for the 5:30 PM deadline they thought was approaching. As 5:30 PM turned to 6:30 PM, Alft said it had become clear no one was going to be arrested.

“There was a changing of the guard,” said Alft. “We were allowed to stay in the lobby and Neil Ford, the upstate commander of the United States Department of Homeland Security, came out and said this was his area after closing and we were welcome to stay as long as we want because he didn’t want to arrest anyone.”

“I think we accomplished what we wanted to do,” said Adams. “An official report was written up and will be delivered to Clinton’s office telling her 25 demonstrators were in her lobby protesting her actions.”

—David King

dking@metroland.net


What a Week

You Can Look, But You Can’t Film

On Tuesday, a new ban on photographers and camera operators received its first test after a double bombing in Baghdad. The decision, which was issued by the Iraqi government last weekend, prohibits photographers and camera persons from capturing the scenes that result from deadly bombings. Citing the need to protect forensic evidence, police fired shots in the air after Tuesday’s bombings to enforce the ban. Media organizations, however, question whether the new rule is designed to prevent images of the aftermath from being broadcast around the world.

Water Woes Worsen

Australia’s water crisis may be worse than originally projected, a contractor studying whether to relocate the country’s agricultural production reported to government officials Wednesday. Drought and water shortages are nothing new for the island country, but many are calling the last few years one of the driest periods in recent history. The crisis is blamed on several factors, including severe drought and careless water consumption, coupled with a growth in the country’s economy and population. To extend water availability, some localities have been imposing water-use restrictions on residents for years.

Jailing the Good Guys

On Thursday (May 10), two British men were sentenced to jail for their parts in the leaking of an embarrassing government document. David Keogh and Leo O’Connor, employees of the British government, are the men responsible for providing to the press the classified memo from President George Bush to British Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United States’ plan to bomb the headquarters of Al Jazeera, the Arabic television network. The two men were tried and convicted in a highly secretive trial and were sentenced, respectively, to six months and three months in prison.

Maybe Next Time

A bill sponsored by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) that would have cut off funding to the war in Iraq was defeated Wednesday (May 16) by a vote of 29-67. Nineteen Democrats voted against the bill as well as Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.). A measure put forward by Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) designed to challenge Bush's war policy was also defeated by a vote of 52-44 as it failed to receive the necessary 60 votes.





Loose Ends

-no loose ends this week-



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