is War Protest
Theologian says no pretext justifies 'bombing a people'
by Alexa Smith
LOUISVILLE - A prominent Latin America theologian is urging Christians to refuse to travel to the United States during the Bush presidency to protest the U.S. government's invasion of Iraq.
Elsa Tamez, a professor at the Biblical University in San Jose, Costa Rica, issued a letter on March 14 in which she urges Latin American Christians to follow her lead and boycott travel to church gatherings and other meetings in the United States.
She is also asking Latin Christians to work for the disarmament of Western governments, including those of the United States and Britain, and for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in the West.
She has cancelled speaking engagements at Harvard University and Notre Dame University and decided against serving as Bible-study leader for the assembly of the United Methodist Church in April.
Tamez is a frequent speaker at Presbyterian Church (USA) events and has published articles in denominational journals.
"From this small country of Costa Rica - a nation without an army and in which 90 percent of the population is against the war, I invite my colleagues, theologians, church leaders and all Christians of Latin America to abstain from travel to the United States in protest against the war," Tamez says in the English translation of her letter, which is circulating in the United States, "and to unite themselves in the ... struggle against the possession of chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction ... beginning with those countries of the West, which certainly are in the first place in this."
The letter argues that President Bush's pleas for prayer for the Iraqi people is religious hypocrisy.
"This for honest Christians is a complete inversion of all Christian values which we see in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, and in God, the fullness of love and mercy," she says. "How can one bomb a people with weapons of mass destruction and at the same time, pray for them?"
Citing Romans 1:18, she describes the drive to war as an "imprisonment of truth in injustice," and compares the United States to the Roman Empire.
"We theologians know that the only law of God is grace, mercy and love for the neighbor," she writes. "The only valid legality is that which puts itself at service of persons, because the law, impregnated with the Wisdom of God, was created to serve the human being and not the human being to serve the law."
Tamez says Christians who approve of the war are "deluded."
"In light of the facts, there is no pretext that validates bombing a people, neither the dictator Saddam Hussein, nor any possible resolution of the United States, nor of the United Nations in favor of war," she says.
Maria Arroyo, the PC(USA)'s liaison to Latin America, said many partner churches in her region are opposing the war and expressing anger at the U.S. government's intransigence.
"More than anything, Elsa is an educator," Arroyo said of Tamez. "And this is something she felt compelled to do. It is her form of protest."
The Presbyterian News Service spoke with Tamez by telephone on March 25 in Peru, where she is teaching. She said that country has been the site of many anti-war demonstrations, including one in front of the home of the U.S. ambassador.
Tamez made a personal pledge not to travel to the United States in the fall of 2002, when the U.S. government was trying to garner international support for military action. She said she only recently decided to encourage others to join her in the protest.
"I wanted to express myself as a sign of protest," she said. "I don't know what else to do."
Tamez is best-known in Presbyterian circles as the organizer of the successful "Million Women Campaign" to help build the Protestant seminary in San Jose, Costa Rica.
March 25, 2003
US firms fear stronger boycott
campaign if Iraq war erupts
By Lachlan Carmichael
CAIRO, Dec 31 (AFP) - Businesses selling American brandnames, products and services in the Middle East fear that a US-led war in Iraq would trigger an even stronger Arab boycott campaign against them.
Organizers of the 25-month campaign told AFP they were preparing to revive the boycott to protest not only against war in Iraq but also an escalation of Israeli military action against the Palestinians.
A mass boycott drive was launched after the Palestinian uprising erupted in September 2000, and was intensified when Israel reoccupied the West Bank at the end of March 2001 before it lost steam three months later, businessmen said.
A third wave could be even stronger, they fear.
"The coming wave is going to be a tsunami wave, a catastrophe," warned Mahmoud el-Kaissouni, an executive with an Egyptian industry association representing 22 fast food chains.
Sales at more than 550 fast food restaurants in Egypt dropped by around 20 percent in April and plunged by 65 percent at the end of June before returning to normal in October and November, said Kaissouni.
People like Kaissouni have fought back in the media, saying the boycott is mainly missing the intended target and hitting Arab businesses, as many US franchises are Arab-owned and many products are made regionally under licence.
He urged the Egyptian government to help wage a counter-campaign.
Though the boycott hit fast food franchises in Egypt and other Arab countries hardest, it also undercut sales of soft drinks, as well as a range of supermarket and pharmaceutical products in the region, industry sources said.
In Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, some private hospitals stopped buying products from Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), but most have since resumed purchases, said Mustafa Hassan, BMS vice president for sales and marketing in the Middle East.
Hassan, based in Cairo, said the pharmacists' syndicate in Egypt had agreed verbally with pharmaceutical firms not to boycott US brand names made under license in Egypt, which account for 91 percent of the Egyptian market.
However, he said a few Islamist pharmacists earlier this year refused to prescribe even Egyptian-made products and he expected them to lead a new boycott wave if there is a US-led war in Iraq.
"They will do it for sure if there's an attack on Iraq," Hassan said in a telephone interview. "It may start in the remote areas (outside Cairo and Alexandria), but spread to other areas as well."
A US official in the region said the boycott appears to have eased for now and he had no information to indicate that it had hurt anything other than non-durable US goods, though he admitted there were fears it could flare up again,
The bulk of US exports to the region come in the form of capital goods and equipment, such as planes and computers, as well as agricultural commodities like wheat.
US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said here in June that the boycott was "disturbing" as it created an "environment which makes it harder for US businesses to operate," but that it would hurt Egyptians more than Americans.
Lists continue to circulate in the region with hundreds of brand names to be boycotted, including McDonald's and Burger King outlets, Tide and Ariel detergents, Pampers, Coca Cola and Pepsi, Marlboro cigarettes, and Heinz ketchup.
The campaign also includes calls for a boycott of Israeli goods, and gives tips on how to identify Israeli products exported from third countries.
Kaissouni also fears that British brand names could also be targetted in a new campaign, a fear backed up by the boycott planners.
Boycott campaigner Abdel Aziz al-Husseiny said a conference was planned for late January in Damascus to devise a grassroots strategy for a boycott of US, Israeli and British products because of events in Iraq and the Palestinian territories.
It is being organized by a committee of grassroots organizations including professional associations and unions in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, said Husseiny, an Egyptian.
Tuesday, 31-Dec-2002 7:00AM PST
Copyright 2002 by Agence France-Presse
Uncle Sam needs you to boycott USA
The people of the world can save both Iraqi lives and the civil liberties of US citizens simply by keeping their hands in their pockets.
by Pattrice Jones
Open Letter from a US Citizen to the People of the World
I write to ask for your help in stopping the Bush regime's abuses at home and abroad. The citizens of the United States cannot be counted on to stop Bush. The countries of the United Nations cannot be counted on to stop Bush. But the citizens of the world do have the power to stop Bush simply by keeping their hands in their pockets.
I wonder if you can imagine what it is like in America right now. The people seem to be hypnotized or perhaps walking in their sleep. Propaganda, disinformation, and arousing advertisements combine to induce in the population a constant state of paranoia, smug superiority, and frustrated desire. This volatile emotional state leaves people vulnerable to the seductive rhetoric of a pseudopopulist leader who assures them that they have a right to feel both fearful and grandiose and to blame all of America's problems on foreigners, liberals, and hostile nations.
The atmosphere of these United States these days is ominous. Fascism lurks around every corner. Flags and other patriotic symbols are everywhere -- on the flagpoles, on the buildings, on the cars, and on the people themselves. School teachers are instructed to decorate their classrooms in red, white and blue, and schoolchildren are encouraged to dress in those colors. Every day, Bush or his proxies talk to the American people about our "evil" enemies and our endangered"homeland." We are told that liberty and justice are uniquely American values and that those values, rather than past and ongoing US aggression overseas, are the reasons that terrorists want to kill Americans.
The important thing to remember is that many, perhaps most, of the people really do believe the propaganda; really do fear attack; really do believe that we are going to "liberate" the people of Iraq; and really do believe that those who oppose the war are idiots, cowards, or sycophants of tyranny. They truly do not see that Bush is the more dangerous tyrant; truly do not yet realize that their own civil liberties have been sharply circumscribed by this tyrant; and truly do not comprehend that their own country has been the aggressor again and again and is about to become the aggressor yet again.
Our esteemed "free press" is of little use, being almost wholly controlled by the corporate interests Bush serves. The newspapers and news programs play along with the Bush regime, allowing reports of alleged terrorist threats to supersede news of domestic and international dissent. Thanks to the mediocrity of the public school system, which was designed to produce dutiful workers rather than skeptical thinkers, most Americans lack the analytic skills needed to decipher the daily deluge of propaganda to which they are subjected. Many can't distinguish between advertisements and news or between fact and opinion. Remember, these are the people who believed the newspaper editorialists when they said that the best way to preserve democracy would be to support "President" Bush whether or not he had legitimately gained control of the government.
Of course, that doesn't hold true for everyone in the country. Some did protest the bloodless coup that brought the Bush regime to power and some have been demonstrating against Bush's attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. Unfortunately, these protests cannot and will not stop Bush. Remember, this is a man who seized power even though he was not elected. He has made it very clear that he doesn't care what the people think. He certainly isn't going to change his course in response to entirely symbolic expressions of dissent by a minority of the population.
If all was right with the world, the United Nations never would have recognized the Bush regime as the legitimate government of the United States. If all was right with the world, the United Nations would reign in any regime that attacks another country without provocation and in defiance of international law. If all was right with the world, the EU and other important trading partners of the United States would make it clear that their markets are closed to rogue nations that break treaties and wage wars of conquest.
Unfortunately, we cannot count on the United Nations or its constituent countries to do the right thing. Thus we must call on our last best hope for peace and freedom: the peace and freedom loving people of the world.
Uncle Sam needs you to save him from George W. Bush. The Industrial Workers of the World used to say that the workers can stop the world just by folding their arms. Similarly, the consumers of the world can interfere with market capitalism just by keeping their hands in their pockets. Bush listens to the language of dollars and cents. When the corporate sponsors who brought him to power begin to complain, then and only then will he change his ways.
If the people of the world are serious about their opposition to a US attack on Iraq, they must stop giving their money to the US military-industrial complex. Ideally, they will boycott all multinational corporations based in the United States, using letters and telephone calls to tell the companies why they are doing so. At minimum, they will reduce their reliance on US goods and services while also reducing their consumption of the fossil fuel that is at the heart of this conflict. As soon as the corporations feel the pinch, they will put the squeeze on Bush.
Please begin to boycott today. Do not worry about hurting the workers, because the budget cuts Bush will use to pay for war will hurt working people and the poor more than any boycott ever could. In addition, by supporting local and non-corporate goods and services, you will be helping to build a better global economy for everyone.
I hope you will choose to act in solidarity with the people of the United States and Iraq by helping to stop a war between those two countries. I promise that if you are ever in a similar situation within your country, I will act in solidarity with you.
March, 2003 Maryland, USA
(c) & @ 2003 Pattrice Jones. Permission to reprint is granted provided
that content is not altered without author's permission.
Boycotts Against War Gain Global Support
Boycott of US Corporations as Anti - Iraq War Strategy Advances Around the World
by Patrick Baggott
In response to the well-publicized resolve of the Bush administration to undertake the invasion of Iraq, activists around the world have in recent months have begun to articulate campaigns to boycott the U.S. corporations that underwrite the Bush policies of militarism and domination.
Most of these campaigns have shared the unusual feature of calling for a boycott of many or most U.S. corporations - a GENERAL BOYCOTT, akin to the successful anti-apartheid boycott of South Africa.
One of the most active of these campaigns currently is the one developed and promoted by IDEA - International group for Direct Economic Action against the war, an international coalition of anti-war activists. This boycott campaign shares another notable aspect with the boycott of South Africa, and with a recent call for a boycott of Israeli goods made by Israelis themselves: The campaign was initiated by citizens of the target country, the U.S., and like the South Africa and Israel boycotts, it is not anti-anybody. It is anti- violence, anti-war.
There will be a call for this boycott to begin if and when the full scale invasion of Iraq takes place. This will be done in concert with all of the international peace movement's other actions-rallies,strikes, and acts of civil disbedience .
The IDEA boycott campaign has two special features: First, it calls for a boycott of British corporations as well, because of the Blair government's determined support for the U.S. war agenda.
Secondly, it has been designed to be flexible, and adaptable to the perspectives and lives of the people who are being called upon to participate. IDEA recognizes that the positions of people in the consumer marketplace vary, that their level of commitment to, and time and energy for a boycott will vary, and that people have different notions as to how a boycott ought to be implemented.
IDEA's boycott asks people to choose between two "modes" of boycotting:
1) a general boycott, where people will boycott most U.S. and U.K. corporations, to the extend that it is feasible for them to do so. They will buy from non- U.S./U.K companies, and from co-ops, small businesses, etc.that have no stake in the war. And they will reduce their spending for goods they don't need.
2) a list of companies specifically targeted by the campaign, chosen because they are military contractors as well as producers of consumer goods, because of their huge funding of the politicians that support the war, because they are a direct economic beneficiary of the "oil economy", or other good reasons. This list is divided into a "Top Two" (Phillip Morris and General Electric), the "Next 10" and the "Next 20", since some boycotters want a very simple - others a more comrehensive list.
There are other important iraq war boycott campaigns as well. In the Arab countries, some have called for the well-known partial boycotts of Israeli and U.S. goods, directed toward the Palestinian issue, to be expanded in scope to address the war. In Europe, a major boycott of Esso (Exxon-Mobil) is underway, supported by Greenpeace and other anti-war activists. Activists in Thailand are also boycotting the U.S.
In the U.S. there is http://www.stopshopping.org/index.htm which asks people to support a growing consumer movement against the war by pledging to reduce their spending by a specific dollar amount.
For Mother Earth, a prominent Belgian disamament, ecology, and human rights organization , has just recently launched a boycott of U.S. products. http://www.motherearth.org/USboycott/ Like IDEA's boycott, Mother Earth's lists specific comanies, and also includes the choice to "boycott all US products". Other international boycott campaigns directed to the Iraq war are detailed at their web sites: http://www.boycotttheusa.com/ and http://www.boycottusa.org/ (both United Kingdom), Peace Action http://peace-action.inbyron.com/ (Australia), and Spend For Peace http://www.spendforpeace.co.nz/ (New Zealand) .
The British organization Ethical Consumer is promoting their "Boycott Bush" campaign - also a general boycott of U.S. corporations - in response to the negative U.S. position on the Kyoto global warming accords. http://www.boycottbush.net/ The scope of this campaign has not as yet been extended to the Iraq war crisis.
At this time, these campaigns are functioning rather independently, but IDEA's activists are exploring the commonalities among them with the goal of bringing them together into a unified boycott campaign to stop the war against Iraq.
March 8, 2003
Source: IDEA - International group for Direct Economic Action against the war http://www.boycottwar.net
ExxonMobil Admits Boycott Hurts
Last December, the ExxonMobil Corp., known as Esso in Europe, indicated that an activist boycott is hurting its U.K. sales at the pump. Green groups, led by Greenpeace, People and Planet, and Friends of the Earth, staged over 300 demonstrations in the U.K. on December 1, at which time Esso's fuel retailing manager Stuart Kelly reported a drop in sales, though the impact was "low," he said. ExxonMobil, the largest publicly traded oil company, has been accused of opposing the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions and refusing to invest in renewable fuels. Exxon senior vice president Rene Dahan countered these statements by saying that the company does aim to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, but, "without giving up economic prosperity" Boycott organizers continue to ask drivers not to buy ExxonMobil or Esso gasoline.
Contact: www.stopesso.com; www.stopmobil.net.
The Muslim Cola Wars
"By choosing to boycott major brands, consumers are sending a powerful signal: that the exploitation of Muslims cannot continue unchecked."
(AP) The cola wars are taking on a new dimension in Europe, where Muslims are being asked to pledge allegiance to one of two new brands.
"Liberate Your Taste" says the slogan for Qibla Cola; its rival Mecca-Cola tells its buyers: "Don't drink stupid, drink committed."
By offering a dose of activism along with the usual sugar, preservatives and carbonated water, the entrepreneurs behind both new drinks are trying to cash in on anti-American sentiment within Britain's 2.5 million Muslim community.
"The Qibla brand offers a real alternative for people concerned about the practices of some major Western multinationals who support causes that oppress Muslims," said company founder Zahida Parveen.
"By choosing to boycott major brands, consumers are sending a powerful signal: that the exploitation of Muslims cannot continue unchecked."
Qibla was launched in the British market this week following the success of French-Tunisian businessman Tawfiq Mathlouthi's Mecca brand in France.
Mecca, launched in November, was originally targeted at France's Muslim community. But it quickly caught on to a broader market and the bottles - each one described by Mathlouthi as "a little gesture against U.S. imperialism and foreign policy" - are also being distributed in Britain. Both companies have plans to expand to other European countries.
Parveen and Mathlouthi deny a direct attack on Coca-Cola, though the red-and-white swoosh labeling on both products bears a strong resemblance to the U.S. brand. But, they say, the soft drink giant represents American capitalism.
Amirah Ali, a spokeswoman for the London-based Islamic Human Rights Association, said the war on terrorism has made all American brands a focus for resentment, and buying alternative brands makes the Muslim community "feel better."
"It makes us feel like we can do something," Ali said. "Coca-Cola has become a big symbol of America. It's a tangible symbol at a time when there is increasing unhappiness about U.S. foreign policy."
In London's Brick Lane, where there is a large Muslim community, opinions on the success of a boycott are mixed.
"I don't think it does anything. How does that help people who are suffering in Palestine?" said Abdul Mahmood, who was buying Coca-Cola from a local store.
But Ahmed Hussein said he would purchase alternatives if they were readily available. "Economic power is important and anything we can do to break that is a good thing."
Martin Norris, communications director for Coca-Cola U.K., said the company did not engage in religious or political arguments and dismissed the newcomers.
"I think consumers are able to make a very clear distinction between the soft drink they want to drink and whatever the policies of the American government are," Norris said.
Qibla and Mecca have pledged to commit 10 percent of their profits to Islamic charities.
Norris responded that Coca-Cola provided investment where it operated, including in the Palestinian administrative headquarters in the West Bank, where it opened a plant in 1998.
"We have a plant in Ramallah which has 200 employees and is supporting the local economy. We think that's a better way of serving the community," he said.
Coca-Cola has said that an unofficial boycott of U.S. products in the Arab Middle East in retaliation for Washington's support of Israel has hurt its bottom line in the region.
Zam Zam Cola, the Iranian drink introduced after that country's 1979 Islamic revolution, had huge sales growth a few years ago when a prominent Muslim cleric ruled that Coke and Pepsi were "un-Islamic."
Zam Zam is now exporting to Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries, shipping more than 10 million bottles in the last four months of 2002.
Qibla - named for the direction the faithful face when praying toward Mecca - has plans to expand into the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and the Far East.
Abdul Hamid Ebrahim, a spokesman for the company, said Muslim countries like Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh are being targeted. Qibla hopes to increase production to a million bottles a month in March.
Mecca says it has sold more than 2 million bottles in France since November and has orders in Britain for 2 million bottles a month. It said it also has orders from Belgium, Germany, Australia and Canada.
Still, that's a long way from Coca-Cola, which sells more than 40 million 8-ounce servings every hour around the world.
LONDON, Feb. 7, 2003
The Associated Press.
McDonald's Supports Bush - But Who Pays the Cost?
Lobbyists Line up for George W. Bush
"The Associated Press (5/12/00) reported that lobbyists for some of America's biggest corporations -- including General Motors, McDonald's and AT&T -- have signed up to host a Washington fund-raiser for George W. Bush on May 22.
The 90-member host committee for the $1,000-per-person event also includes lobbyists for Microsoft, which is embroiled in an antitrust suit with the federal government, and Time Warner, which is awaiting government approval for a merger with America Online. "
Privately Financed Election Campaigns
Cost Taxpayers Money
"The actual cost of privately-financed campaigns may not come from tax monies, but the consequences of such campaigns are costing taxpayers billions of dollars. These consequences include the myriad tax breaks, subsidies, bail-outs, regulatory exemptions, and other "favors" that elected officials routinely perform for their financial backers.
Corporate tax breaks are high on the agenda of corporate campaign contributors. During the 1980's, U.S. corporations paid $67.5 billion in federal taxes, while receiving tax breaks (or loopholes) of $92.2 billion. During the 1950's, corporations' overall share of all federal taxes combined was 39 percent; during the 1980's, it dropped to 17 percent. For 1994, it was 20 percent.
Separate studies in early 1995 by the Progressive Policy Institute and the Cato Institute identified $265 billion and $425 billion, respectively, in pork-barrel federal programs and subsidies (including tax breaks) for corporations and industry groups that ought to be eliminated. The recommended "cuts" included:
$100 million a year for boosting overseas sales of products produced
by U.S. companies (from fighter planes to candy bars). In 1991, McDonald's
received $465,000 to plug Chicken McNuggets, while Gallo Wines received
$5.1 million to promote wine. McDonald's Corp. PAC gave $559,000 in political
contributions to congressional candidates during 1991-1994, and Gallo gave
$463,000 during 1991-1994."