Protests in 480 cities worldwide…

Protests in 480 cities worldwide this weekend!

A few short days ago that number was 300. Now, according to ANSWER, it’s 480.

This is historic. Without a doubt this will be the biggest mass demonstrations in the history of the planet.

I’ll be working the front of the march in L.A. helping to gently move people off the street in advance of the main banner. I did the same in S.F. last month. It’s fun, plus there’s lots of photo ops. Expect photos here tonight!

Here’s why I’m going:

From an ANSWER newsletter (long and filled with good info)

“The administration is struggling to manufacture a sufficient pretext for war, and to force the U.N. security council members and the inspection team into obedience. Iraq seems to infuriate the Bush administration when it agrees to additional United Nations demands — including the most intrusive — and thereby momentarily invalidates Bush’s pretext for war.

In recent days Iraq has agreed to U.S.-piloted surveillance flights over its territory. Iraq scientists have been giving private interviews to weapons inspectors. And, as requested, Iraq is passing legislation outlawing the use of weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration promptly announced that it was refusing to take yes for an answer and went out of its way at a press conference to state that Iraq’s additional concessions did “nothing to change” its current drive towards war.

On Wednesday, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice flew to New York to meet privately with Hans Blix the chief weapons inspector to demand that he find Iraq in violation of the U.N. resolution. Why the bullying of Blix? Because, as of Tuesday February 11, Blix’s report did “not contain a declaration that Iraq is in clear violation of its obligations, which the United States has sought.” (Washington Post, February 12, 2003)

We have all learned important facts about the dramatic presentation of General Colin Powell before the U.N. Security Council on February 5. According to Powell, his speech was based on “an excellent” intelligence report provided by the British Government. Within days it was revealed that this “intelligence” was, in fact, a plagiarized copy of a student paper that had been circulating on the Internet for years. Powell’s report lifted sections of this paper wholesale, typographical errors and all.

With the words “Iraq: Failing to Disarm, Denial and Deception” appearing on a giant video screen behind him, General Powell worked to scare the American people by making a connection of “decades” of contact between Saddam Hussein and al-Qa’ida. Journalist Robert Fisk, writing for the Independent (UK) newspaper exposed the falseness of this presentation: “And when General Powell started blathering on about “decades” of contact between Saddam and al-Qa’ida, things went wrong for the Secretary of State. Al-Qa’ida only came into existence” in recent years and “Bin Laden ­ ‘decades’ ago ­ was working against the Russians for the CIA, whose present day director was sitting grave-faced behind General Powell.” (February 6, 2003)

As one pretext is exposed as a fraud, they move on to the next purported rationale for their planned aggression. Smarting from the expose of the plagiarized paper, Powell was quick to jump on the taped message reported to be from Bin Laden to tell Congress that the tape proved that Iraq and Bin Laden were working together. This was repeated ad nauseam on all the television news networks. But the administration’s own rendition of the tape indicates that the speaker actually denounces the Iraqi government as “infidels.”

When Powell testified before Congress about the supposed Iraq-al-Qa’ida connection, he did not know the tapes were being broadcast to the U.S. public, apparently believing that he could provide this deception unchecked. The real purpose, of course, is simply to scare the living daylights out of people. It is the height of cynicism on the part of the Bush administration to raise the specter of renewed terrorism as a method to win support for its war of aggression against Iraq. It is precisely the war itself, and even the threat of war, that will lead to an escalation in the cycle of violence further endangering people all over the world, including right here at home.

The Bush administration’s ongoing demands for war only prove that, as we’ve noted before, this war is not really about disarmament, or to thwart a purported grave and imminent danger posed by Iraq. Rather it is a war for Big Oil and for empire that benefits the corporate clients of the administration including the oil industry and arms manufacturers. It is a war that steals from the American public much needed funds for healthcare, education and jobs. It is a war that violates U.S. law and international law, and it is a war that will have catastrophic consequences for the people of the region and thousands of U.S. GIs.”