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Activists had slated October 13 as an international day of actions against the Star Wars missile defense program. But with bombs raining down on Afghanistan, this Saturday’s protests have morphed into a broader rallying cry against escalating war in Central Asia and beyond. (www.space4peace.org). Demonstrations will take place in 109 cities, from Seoul to Sydney, including a large protest at California’s Vandenberg Airforce Base, where the next generation of “kill vehicles” (missiles that shoot down missiles) are to be tested.
Here in New York, thousands are expected to gather in Washington Square Park at 1 p.m. to both mourn the victims of the September 11 attacks and rally for peace. Speakers include Rev. Al Sharpton, Father Daniel Berrigan, exiled WBAI producer Amy Goodman, and physics professors Zia Mian and Michio Kaku, with performances by Toshi Reagan and the Bread and Puppet Theater. (Berrigan will also lead an 11 a.m. peace mass at Most Holy Redemeemer Church, 173 East 3rd Street.) Organizers hope the participation of Sharpton, who signed on after the September 11 attacks, will help broaden the anti-war movement’s reach. (Former model Christie Brinkley was also scheduled to appear at the rally, but canceled her appearance, reportedly because she felt it was more important to show unity with the U.S. government at this time.)
The militarization of space has only accelerated in the wake of the terrorist attacks, which prompted Congress to fully fund the Bush Administration’s $8.3 billion Star Wars budget for next year. “The real question here is what is going to make us more secure?” says Kevin Hessel of the Quaker-based American Friends Service Committee, one of the 266 groups sponsoring the demonstrations worldwide. “As a New Yorker, I don’t think going to war with Afghanistan will make us any safer, and spending billions on missile defense isn’t going to prevent more terrorist attacks, either. In light of this country’s looming recession, it’s only going to take money out of the hands of people who need it.”
For info on the New York demo, go to www.afsc.org/nomore/nyc.html, or call 212-598-0961. Information on this and upcoming peace actions nationwide is also available from the War Resisters League, 212-228-0450.