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My Favorite Upstarts

ImpeachPAC was formed last summer by former AFL-CIO staffer David Swanson to raise money for Congressional candidates who support impeaching Bush for his lies that took us into an unnecessary war. But now that Bush has admitted he ordered spying on American citizens without seeking court orders — a crime under federal law — and, as a result, with the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Representative John Conyers, having just introduced a resolution for an inquiry to prepare articles of impeachment, ImpeachPAC takes on new relevance as a spur to spineless Democrats. www.impeachpac.org After Downing Street was founded in May when a British government whistleblower leaked the so-called Downing Street Minutes — a secret British Foreign Office document that demonstrated Bush had planned to invade Iraq as early as 2002, and that intelligence on Iraq had been cooked up and falsified to justify the invasion. After Downing Street has effectively mobilized hundreds and hundreds of bloggers to disseminate official documents and testimony that exposes Bush administration lies, giving them wide publicity when the mass media Big Boys won’t. Most recently, when Representative Conyers had the Judiciary Committee staff assemble a report on administration lies and crimes that was ignored by the media, After Downing Street pumped out the report and got it a lot of attention. www.afterdowningstreet.org Free Press is the flagship organization of the burgeoning media reform movement. It opened a Washington office to support and initiate proposals for a more competitive and public-interest-oriented media system with a strong nonprofit and noncommercial sector. Founded by University of Illinois professor Robert McChesney (author of 11 books on the media) and with a board that includes producer Cindy Asner (Ed Asner’s wife), Linda Foley (head of The Newspaper Guild, the journalists’ union), and a rep from FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), Free Press deserves support from any news consumer dissatisfied with corporate-dominated media, increasingly controlled by a handful of huge companies. www.freepress.net Iraq Veterans Against the War has already won a significant victory: Two IVAW members — Jeff Engelhardt and Garrett Reppenhagen, who served in Fallujah during the U.S. attack — exposed the U.S. military’s illegal use there of white phosphorus when the two vets appeared in a documentary for Italy’s Rai 24 television, and their testimony caused outrage around the world. In November, the Pentagon was finally forced to admit the use in the Fallujah attack of white phosphorus — an incendiary chemical weapon that burns the skin irreparably and is banned by international treaty. IVAW guarantees confidentiality to the servicemembers in Iraq who it helps, and mobilizes support for conscientious objectors to the illegal Iraq war. www.ivaw.net Decade of Roma Inclusion (www.romadecade.org). Victims of the Nazi Holocaust along with Jews and homosexuals, the Roma people (referred to in popular slang as Gypsies) have historically been among the most discriminated-against minorities throughout Europe, particularly in Eastern Europe, as I witnessed first-hand during the decade I lived on the Continent. Initiated by George Soros’ Open Society Institute, the Decade, which runs from 2005-2015, is the first multinational effort to close the gap in welfare and living conditions between the Roma and the non-Roma and to break the cycle of poverty and exclusion that shackles the Roma in third-class citizenship in many countries. Campaign to End AIDSCommonly referred to as C2EA, it was founded last spring by a national conference of grassroots AIDS groups to fill the void left by the dreadful Bush collaborationists of AIDS Action, which claims to be the “national voice on AIDS” and has hitherto been the principal Inside the Beltway AIDS lobby — but which has been AWOL on most AIDS issues, and whose executive director joined in sponsoring a January inaugural celebration of the Republicans’ ’04 victory. Earlier this year, a Ford Foundation report on the effectiveness of D.C.-based AIDS groups included a scathing dissection of AIDS Action’s impotence and misdirection.A presidential theocracy has turned the fight against AIDS into a war on condoms, and used AIDS-fighting federal monies as political patronage disguised as “faith-based initiatives” that impose their moral strictures against science-based sex education on AIDS groups getting federal funds. Rising AIDS rates, especially among racial minorities, prove that GOP restrictions on sex ed and AIDS prevention are killing us — and a quarter of Americans with HIV don’t even know they’re positive. That’s why C2EA is an important development. C2EA is seeking to revive the “movement spirit” that characterized the AIDS fight in the ’80s — when it was led by the HIV-positive themselves. Today, people with HIV are shunted aside in too many AIDS orgs, kept off their boards, and denied a voice in policy making. A cohort of well-paid professional AIDS-crats — most of whom don’t have HIV — dominates the nongovernmental AIDS struggle, which is why many (like U.S. Representative Barney Frank) call it “AIDS Inc.” C2EA, by contrast, is reviving grassroots AIDS activism — symbolized by its weeklong Days of Action in Washington in November, which saw feeder bus caravans from all over the country (including L.A.) bring AIDS activists to D.C. for rallies, a march, civil disobedience actions and lobbying on Capitol Hill. C2EA is co-sponsored by nearly 200 local and national AIDS service and advocacy orgs, including 29 in California. Visit C2EA’s multimedia Web site, sign up for its newsletter, and help fight the Republicans’ theocratic perversion of the AIDS fight. (www.campaigntoendaids.org). Doug Ireland can be reached through his blog, DIRELAND, at http://direland.typepad.com/direland.


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