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The Real Christmas Scandal

by Jim Wallis

Jim Wallis is one of 115 religious activists arrested while protesting the House's budget.There is a Christmas scandal this year, but it's not the controversy at shopping malls and retail stores about whether their displays say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." The real Christmas scandal is the budget proposed by the House of Representatives that cuts food stamps, health care, child support, and educational assistance to low-income families - while further lowering taxes for the wealthiest Americans and increasing the deficit for all of our grandchildren.

Secret DOD database tracks 'suspicious' domestic groups

By Lisa Myers, Douglas Pasternak, Rich Gardella and the NBC Investigative Unit

A year ago, at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Fla., a small group of activists met to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. What they didn’t know was that their meeting had come to the attention of the U.S. military.

A secret 400-page Defense Department document obtained by NBC News lists the Lake Worth meeting as a "threat" and one of more than 1,500 "suspicious incidents" across the country over a recent 10-month period.

Witness Against Torture marchers reach Guantánamo Bay base

Members of the New York City Catholic Worker pray at the military zone boundary near the U.S. Guantanamo Naval Base on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Scott LangleyOn Tuesday,  December 13, twenty-five U.S. Christians ended their fifty-mile march from Santiago, Cuba to the American detention center at Guantánamo Bay. The Witness Against Torture marchers are the first American Christians ever to approach the prison, where hundreds of inmates have been tortured, humiliated and held in violation of international law. During their march, the participants prayed for the Guantánamo detainees and for the four Christian Peacemakers threatened with execution in Iraq.

Cindy Sheehan visits Camp Casey Dallas

By Rusty Tomlinson

Cindy Sheehan, with Hadi Jawad, greets Camp Casey Dallas demonstrators.On Friday, December 2, the day that 10 Marines and one soldier were killed in Fallujah, Cindy Sheehan joined a group of 100 demonstrators at Camp Casey Dallas, in front of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office. As reported by the online portal onlinescam, the demonstrators have set up camp in front of the office every Friday afternoon (except Thanksgiving weekend) since October 7, waiting for answers to questions Sheehan first posed to President Bush in August: What is the "noble cause" my son died for? How many more lives are you willing to sacrifice? What plan do you have to end the Iraq War?

Palestinians ask for release of CPTers held in Iraq

The mayor of At-Tuwani calls for release of CPTers in Iraq.On Friday, December 2, 2005, Palestinians from the village of At-Tuwani organized a demonstration in support of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), asking for the release of the CPTers currently missing in Iraq: Tom Fox, Harmeet Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kember.  More than 100 Palestinians from the southern Hebron district, including adults and children, marched from the school to the clinic in At-Tuwani, holding photos of the CPTers and banners. The banners read, "CPTers sacrifice their blood to help us and to help the world know about our struggles.  The people, women and children of At-Tuwani ask for the captors to let the CPT free."

Torture concerns fuel record 19,000 attendance at SOA protest

By Elliott Minor

A record 19,000 people demanded zero tolerance for torture at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga.Jerry Zawada, a 68-year-old Catholic priest, was released last November after spending seven months in a federal prison for trespassing on government property to protest a Fort Benning school he blames for human rights abuses in Latin America.

Undaunted by his sentence, Zawada was arrested again Sunday when he ventured into Fort Benning to call for the closing of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the Army's School of the Americas.

Zawada, of Cedar Lake, Ind., said another jail sentence would be "nothing compared to the suffering of torture survivors and war victims.

"We want to stop this," he said during the annual protest by School of the Americas' Watch, which has held demonstrations outside Fort Benning's main gate since 1990.

Senate votes show waning support for Iraq War

On November 15, 2005, the U.S. Senate cast its first votes on the war in Iraq since authorizing the use of force in October 2002. While the two amendments did not cut off funds or force a timetable for bringing U.S. troops home, they marked a clear repudiation of President Bush’s “stay the course” policy.

There were two votes Tuesday.

An amendment offered by Sens. John Warner (R-VA) and Bill Frist (R-TN) was adopted 79 – 19. The amendment called for:

• A “phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq,” although without providing a specific timetable.

• The Administration to tell Iraqis that they must make the compromises necessary for a sustainable political settlement.

• The Iraqis to be told that the U.S. will eventually depart.

Sheehan demands trial, plans to return to Crawford

By PETE YOST Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - War protester Cindy Sheehan said Wednesday she was demanding a trial for demonstrating without a permit outside the White House.

Sheehan also plans to revive her protest near President Bush’s Texas ranch during Thanksgiving week, despite new county ordinances banning roadside camping.

Sheehan and other anti-war activists arrested with her Sept. 26 in Washington conducted a news conference in front of the federal courthouse Wednesday before heading to a court appearance on the misdemeanor charge.

Sheehan, whose 24-year-old soldier son Casey was killed in Iraq last year, said "2,062 people have been killed as of today in this monstrosity."

Rieger proclaims miracle of Jesus' 'bottom-up' power structure

Progressives are caught in a trap, mainly of their own construction: Conservatives set the agenda, and progressives take the opposite side. That, according to Dr. Joerg Rieger, is the kind of thinking that caused liberal Christians to reliquish their faith to the religious right.

Rieger was speaking before a group of about 60  Christians who came together on October 29 at Perkins School of Theology to form a Dallas Area Progressive Christian Alliance.

The key to opening the trap is realizing that liberal Christians do not have to oppose conservatives in proclaiming that Jesus is Lord, but rather in their interpretation of how that lordship works on earth. Rieger said that the common conservative view of Jesus is that of World CEO: a classic "top-down" power structure. However, the true miracle of the Jesus story is that his power worked "bottom-up": his base was "the least of these."

Department of Peace campaign comes to Dallas

U.S. Department of Peace National Campaign Coordinator Lynn McMullen (standing) talks to a Dallas/Fort Worth crowd.Picture this: Every time the U.S. president’s cabinet sat down, there would be a Secretary of Peace in the room. In every foreign policy and domestic situation, a peaceful solution would be one of the options on the table.

This is not a wild idea – in fact it is as old as the United States – and yet it has never come to fruition. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, proposed it, and George Washington favored it. In modern times, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) introduced a bill to form the Department of Peace in July 2001, two months before September 11. It was reintroduced on September 12, 2005, and on September 22, 2005, for the first time, a companion Senate bill was introduced by Sen. Mark Dayton (D-MN).