Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"Deja Vu all over again" - Hollywood backs Cindy Sheehan hunger strike

Bush asked us to stick with him
Then we find out the war was a manufactured one
OSAMA who blew up WTC 1 + 2 is still sending death to USA today, Independence Day
and we have this bit of PR fluff out on the eve of 4th of July, 2006, the 330th Anniversary of our Country's birth
Methinks we need Dan Rather back-- you righties ruined him. SHAME on you!

AFP: US stars align in anti-Iraq war hunger strike
Jul 03 6:34 PM US/Eastern

Star Hollywood actor-activists including Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon and anti-war campaigners led by bereaved mother Cindy Sheehan plan to launch a hunger strike, demanding the immediate return of US troops from Iraq.

As Americans get set to fire up barbeques in patriotic celebration of US Independence Day on July 4, anti-war protestors planned to savour a last meal outside the White House, before embarking on a 'Troops Home Fast' at midnight.

"We've marched, held vigils, lobbied Congress, camped out at Bush's ranch, we've even gone to jail, now it's time to do more," said Sheehan, who emerged as an anti-war icon after losing her 24-year-old son Casey in Iraq.

The hunger strike was the latest bid by the US anti-war movement to grab hold of American public opinion, after numerous marches, vigils and political campaigns.

Despite polls which show the Iraq war is unpopular and many Americans are skeptical of President George W. Bush's wartime leadership, peace protests have not hit the opinion-swaying critical mass seen during Vietnam War.

"We have been continually sheltered from the actual cost of war from the beginning," said Meredith Dearborn, of human rights group Global Exchange, explaining how anti-Iraq war protests have stuttered.

While 2,526 US soldiers have died since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to an AFP tally based on Pentagon figures, the impact of the deaths has rarely dominated headlines.

While it is not unusual to see an Iraq-war veteran or amputee in an airport for instance, or newspaper features on horrific injuries inflicted by roadside bombs in Iraq, the United States hardly feels like a nation at war.

Some protestors and experts in public opinion put that down to the absence of the Vietnam War style conscription draft, which means only professional soldiers or reservists can be sent off to war.

"We have done everything we could think of to end this war, we have protested, held marches, vigils ... lobbied, written letters to Congress," said Dearborn.

"Now it is time to bring the pain and suffering of war home. We are putting our bodies on the line for peace."

Perhaps the only time the anti-Iraq war movement captured lasting coverage was in August 2005, when Sheehan and supporters pitched camp outside Bush's Texas ranch, where the president habitually stays in high summer.

Even then, the fiercely partisan debate unleashed may have harmed Sheehan, who faced fierce fire from conservative groups and radio talk show hosts, as much as it hurt the Bush administration's image over Iraq.

The hunger strike will see at least four activists, Sheehan, veteran comedian and peace campaigner Dick Gregory, former army colonel Ann Wright and environmental campaigner Diane Wilson launch serious, long-term fasts.

"I don't know how long I can fast, but I am making this open-ended," said Wilson.

Other supporters, including Penn, Sarandon, novelist Alice Walker and actor Danny Glover will join a 'rolling" fast, a relay in which 2,700 activists pledge to refuse food for at least 24 hours, and then hand over to a comrade.

Though the anti-war movement is trying hard to puncture public perceptions, some experts believe such protests have little impact on how Americans view foreign wars.

Ohio State University professor John Mueller for example, argued in the Foreign Affairs journal in December, that only rising US casualties could be proven to erode public support for a conflict.

Anti-war movements during the Korean and Iraq wars have been comparitively invisible, but public support had eroded in a similar way to the Vietnam conflict, in which the peace movement played a dominant role, he wrote.

Recent polls reveal public scepticism over Iraq, and damage to Bush's personal ratings.

In a poll in Time magazine published Friday, only 33 percent of respondents approved of Bush's leadership on Iraq while 64 percent said they disapproved his handling of the campaign.

A Pew Research Center poll released on June 20, found that only 35 percent of Americans approved of Bush's handling of the Iraqi conflict -- though that was up five percent from a similar poll in February.

Copyright AFP


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