Thursday, January 29, 2009

01-29-09 Activist Calendar

INTERIM ACTIVIST CALENDAR, January 29, 2009, Issue #143
Of the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter

Information and updates about the following events became available after publication of the Jan. 22 Hudson Valley Activist Calendar and will take place before the next full edition. Previous newsletters and calendars may be located at Send event announcements to Subscribe at the same address.

Editor's Note: There are just a few new events to update our Jan. 22 Calendar, and they follow our "Appeal to Antiwar Readers," which we wanted to send right away instead of waiting for the next Newsletter.

From the Editor:


A few of the dozens of weekly peace vigils in the Hudson Valley and in northern New York State have been canceled since the election of President Barack Obama. More terminations may follow.

The latest one has been the Saturday vigil in Potsdam, close to the Canadian border, which was ended last week after six years of protesting war. One member of the vigil told NPR: "Why stand out here holding a peace vigil when our chief executive is promoting the very values we have been standing for?"

As a lifelong peace activist, I find this disturbing, particularly coming as it does after an election year that witnessed greatly diminished antiwar activities.

The United States is in the midst of two wars and it has a military budget greater than all the other nations of the world combined. A huge U.S. troop contingent is occupying Iraq at this moment, and there is absolutely no guarantee that all U.S. troops are going to be pulled out. In addition, 30,000 more American soldiers will be heading to Afghanistan this year to join 70,000 American and allied soldiers already in that war zone.

The New York Times today wrote the following about Gen. Ray Odierno — the Pentagon's top commander in Iraq and a warrior to whom President Obama listens very carefully: "Eventually, [Odierno] said, only about one-third of the current 140,000 troops now in Iraq will be needed, but when that will happen has yet to be decided." That's nearly 50,000 troops remaining in Iraq at least until 2011, when the Washington-Baghdad Status of Forces agreement calls for complete U.S. withdrawal "unless they are requested to stay by Baghdad." And that request, in our view, may well be made, meaning a great number of American troops will remain in Iraq for many years to come.

This is not the time for ending vigils or cutting back on antiwar activism. That time will only come when the U.S. government has withdrawn all its combat and occupation troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. These were Bush's wars until Inauguration Day; now they are Obama's. It is a time for exerting greater pressure for peace on the new Obama Administration and the Democratic Senate and House, particularly as the White House is escalating the war in Afghanistan and seemingly extending it to portions of Pakistan.

The best way to achieve a real peace is to hold the line on the weekly vigils, increase local peace meetings and actions, and join the big antiwar event scheduled for Washington Saturday, March 21, on the sixth anniversary of the war against Iraq and the more than seven-year war against Afghanistan.

We have chartered several buses to bring Mid-Hudson residents to the Washington protest, which will feature a march to the Pentagon for a peace rally. The buses will leave from Kingston, New Paltz and probably Poughkeepsie. The round trip price is $55, and there will be subsidies for students and low income people if we receive sufficient donations from our readers to do so.

To reserve a seat, send an email request to with your name, town, phone number and email address. If you are ordering for other people as well, we need the same information for them. Make out your check for $55 for each person to the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter and mail it to P.O. Box 662, New Paltz, NY 12561. Your reservation(s) will be secured when we receive your check. If you wish to make a donation, mark "donation" on your check and we will add it to our subsidy fund. For questions or to reserve by phone, call (845) 255-5779.

-- Jack A. Smith


Saturday, Jan. 31, KINGSTON: There's a cease fire, but Israel's war against Gaza can start up at any moment. Skirmishes already have taken place. Obama Administration special envoy George Mitchell is in the region seeking a permanent truce, but the White House has not authorized him to speak to Hamas, the organization elected to lead Gaza. A fourth vigil-picket line to protest the war will be held 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in front of the Barnes and Noble bookstore at 1177 Ulster Ave. (Rt. 9W) across from the shopping plaza. It is sponsored by Middle East Crisis Response and endorsed by the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter. Information, (845) 876-7906,

Sunday, Feb. 1, NEW PALTZ: Colombia is Washington's main outpost in South America — all the more important at a time when the political trend in most of the nations of the region is to increase their distance from historic U.S. hegemony. An analysis of the political situation in Colombia is the topic of a public meeting at New Paltz Village Hall. The speaker will be Sam Holguin a young worker and progressive activist. The event begins with a potluck at 5 p.m. for those who wish to share a meal, followed promptly at 6 p.m. by the meeting (which ends by 8 p.m.). Village Hall is at 25 Plattekill Ave., one block south of Main St. (Rt. 299). This free public event is sponsored by the Caribbean and Latin America Support Project. Information,

Monday, Feb. 2, NEW PALTZ (SUNY campus) — The Annual SUNY New Paltz Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday takes place at 7 p.m. at Lecture Center room 102, including speakers, singers and cake. It's free and public. The theme is "The Legacy of King: The Hope of Obama." Speakers include Pam Africa, a leader in the long campaign to free African American political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, and SUNY Professor Kaba Kamene, among others. Performances will be by Voices of Unity and SUNY Student Spoken Word Poets The event is sponsored by the Black Studies Department, and endorsed by the Black Student Union, Community Roots, Fahari-Libertad, Men of all Nations United, Omega Psi Phi Inc., Student Association for People of Color, and Voices of Unity. Campus map: Information, Karanja Keita Carroll, (845) 257-2721,, and Rachel Lagodka, (845) 430-094,

Thursday, Feb. 5, DELMAR: The documentary "Encounter Point," about efforts by Israelis and Palestinians to resolve differences, will be shown at 6:45 p.m. at the Bethlehem Public Library, 451 Delaware Ave. It's public and free, sponsored by Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace. We're informed this feature documentary film "follows a former Israeli settler, a Palestinian ex-prisoner, a bereaved Israeli mother and a wounded Palestinian bereaved brother who risk their lives and public standing to promote a nonviolent end to the conflict. The film explores what drives them and thousands of other like-minded civilians to overcome anger and grief to work for grassroots solutions." About the film: Information, (518) 466-1192,