19 October 2009

Austin : Billionaires for Wealthcare!

Healthcare Not Warfare demonstration in Austin. Above: "Billionaires for Wealthcare." Below, demonstrators stage a "die-in" for peace. Photos by Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog.

Austin rally calls for healthcare reform,
An end to the Afghanistan War

By Alice Embree / The Rag Blog / October 19, 2009
More photos, Below.
A rally for "Healthcare Not Warfare" drew more than 200 people to Austin City Hall on Saturday. An Austin coalition that included Texans for Peace and CodePink called the rally to coincide with the 8th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. They put out the call to coincide with the anniversary of the beginning of U.S. military action in Afghanistan in 2001. At a time when the Obama administration is talking of expanding the war, the speakers addressed the need to end the Afghan occupation.

Faith leaders Rev. James Rigby and Rev. Roscoe Overton addressed the crowd. Castro's Beard and Will T. Massey provided music. Cynthia Good and Joe Carr shared poetry. Members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War flanked Bobby Whittenberg, an Iraq veteran, as he spoke. Brian Hannah, also an Iraq veteran, addressed the crowd.

Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of CodePink, spoke about her recent trip to Afghanistan. Her delegation met with Afghan women there. They returned with a petition from those women demanding that peace talks begin and that Afghan women be participants in those talks. At the recent San Francisco fundraiser which Obama attended, Jodie Evans of CodePink was able to hand the petition directly to the President.

On a lighter note, the rally was visited by "Billionaires for Wealthcare." Dressed elegantly in black dresses and one tuxedo, sporting champagne glasses and one cigar, they urged the crowd to look at the world from their perspective with posters that read: "Do No Harm To My Bottom Line," and "Cigna and Palin in 2012."

Demonstrators also staged a "die-in" to honor the war dead.

On Sunday at Cafe Caffeine in Austin, Medea Benjamin spoke at length about the Afghanistan war and the need to advocate for withdrawal of U.S. troops and the initiation of peace talks. United Nations Resolution 1325 calls for women to participate in peace talks and Benjamin said that Obama should earn his Nobel peace prize through a peace process that includes women in accordance with Resolution 1325.

Benjamin talked about the large presence of contractors from KPR, Z (formerly Blackwater) and the Armor Group (whose members were recently photographed in a lewd Embassy hazing party). She spoke of the poverty and dire need for economic development, the rising civilian casualties.

A young Texan for peace. Photo by Alan Pogue/ The Rag Blog.

Charlie Jackson of Texas for Peace. Photo by Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog.

Vet Brian Hannah, flanked by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Photo by Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog.

Rev. Jim Rigby of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Austin calls for a reexamination of our values. Photo by Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog.

CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin addresses the crowd. Photo by Alice Embree / The Rag Blog.

Members of Texas CodePink at Cafe Caffeine in Austin. Front row, second from left, is Medea Benjamin. At top right, flashing peace sign, is The Rag Blog's Alice Embree. Photo by Allan Campbell / The Rag Blog.

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