Enlisting Michelle Obama—and the American Public—to Stop War on Iran

Medea Benjamin & Rae Abileah

Alice Walker. (Pls. sign the petition)

On Friday, March 30, First Lady Michelle Obama received an unusual request at her San Francisco fundraiser. Instead of “Can I have a picture with you?,” one major donor asked, “Will you use your leadership to prevent an attack on Iran?” Kristin Hull hand delivered to Ms. Obama a petition against war on Iran that was signed by prominent women including Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker, and Eve Ensler, and over 20,000 American women and allies.Hull implored the First Lady to think of the military families and veterans who have paid the price of war. Ms. Obama has championed veterans’ issues while in office and for this reason, in addition to her obvious proximity to the President, women’s groups have made her a focus of their peace efforts.

Ms. Obama thanked Hull for her advocacy and said, “Keep up the great work.” As Hull was walking away after her photo with the First Lady, Michelle Obama grabbed her hand, squeezed it and said, “We really need you.”

The petition implores three powerful American female politicians—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Ambassador Susan Rice and First Lady Michelle Obama—to use their influence to push for diplomacy, not bombing, in US relations with Iran. The next step will be to hand-deliver the petition to Clinton. CODEPINK launched this petition online on March 20th, the 9th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq (coincidentally also on the Iranian New Year, Norooz), with a call from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker. “Nine years ago, I joined CODEPINK in front of the White House in an act of civil disobedience to try to stop our government from bombing Iraq,” said Alice Walker. “None of us could live with ourselves if we sat by idly while a country filled with children was blown to bits using money we needed in the United States to build hospitals, housing and schools. We must not let another tragic war begin.”

Busted for Busting Out at Bank of America

Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin being busted. (AIG demo)

Stripping Protestors In Pink Bras Crashed Bank Of America CEO Brian Moynihan's Speech,” declared Business Insider on March 8, showing Moynihan’s stern photo with a pink bra playfully dangling in the air beside him.

It’s true, things did get a bit wild at Citi's Financial Services conference at New York’s Waldorf Astoria when Brian Moynihan got on stage and began flipping through his tedious powerpoint.

While the hotel security was busy watching anti-bank protesters rallying outside, CODEPINK cofounder Jodie Evans, dressed in a hot pink bustier, burst into the conference room. “Bust up Bank of America before it busts up America”, she shouted, before being hauled out by security guards. “As I was saying,” continued a deadpan Moynihan to the laughter of the crowd, returning to the dreary slides that tried to put a rosy spin on this dinosaur of a company whose share price has plummeted while it continues to foreclose on families’ homes and faces tens of billions of dollars in damages from lawsuits over mortgage investments.

Little did Moynihan know that the excitement at what is normally a bankers’ snoozefest had just begun.

Why I Broke Up with Bank of America

Rae Abileah

“Someday the workers will take possession of your city hall, and when we do, no child will be sacrificed on the altar of profit!” ~ Mary Harris “Mother” Jones

Last November, 2011, I finally made the move to ditch the corporate bank account I’ve had since I was eight years old and opened an account at a local, sustainable bank. So did thousands of Americans during Bank Transfer Day, resulting in over $4 billion dollarsmoved out of big banks and into credit unions.

Do you know where your money spends the night? Wall Street banks are trashing our economy and our environment in the name of their own profits—do you buy into their corruption and greed? 
 It’s time to Pink Slip Big Banks and invest in a more peaceful and just future by moving your money! How? I used the Move your Money tool to find a listing of local banks and credit unions in my area. I selected New Resources Bank in San Francisco, the same bank that Rainforest Action Network and CODEPINK use. After opening my new account, I used the 7 Simple Steps To Move Your Checking Account checklist to really move my money, and finally, I proudly visited a B of A branch and presented them with a Pink Slip – they were friendly enough about losing my business (I admit I’m no millionaire so it wasn’t a big loss, though it was the principle of the thing).

This year on International Women’s Day, March 8th, I plan to join the women of the 99% at Break Up Bank of America actions. The Women Occupy Call to Action is an inspiring statement of solidarity with the Occupy Movement and with the thousands of homeowners across the country who have been affected by home foreclosure. Women Occupy is supporting the women-led campaigns of Public Citizen and Rainforest Action Network, to hold Bank of America accountable for the predatory economic policies that are destroying our families and communities. On March 8th activists in dozens of cities from NYC to LA are planning to occupy Bank of America branches by staging Super(s)hero Showdowns against Bandit of America, holding Really REALLY free markets to show what a feminist gift economy can look like, creating Walk in Our Shoes displays with pairs of shoes to illustrate the real people impacted by home foreclosure, job loss, and environmental destruction, and other creative tactics. Plus Women Occupy is asking people to cancel their big bank accounts on March 8th and move their money to local banks or credit unions. Not that another reason is needed to move your money, but why not do it on a big day of action and in solidarity with the 51% of the 99%: women?!

Occupy Oakland – General Strike!

Rae Abileah

Mike check. Mike check. Now announcing hourly marches. Yes we are taking over the intersections and the streets. Booming hip hop from atop a flatbed. Interfaith prayers and meditation amidst highrises. Free ice cream cones. Little Dia de los Muertos altars marking the end of the rule of capitalism and the rise of the human spirit. Friends I haven’t seen at a protest ever. Bicycle parking. Picket signs in every color and with all kinds of quips and puns and causes, united under the banner of systemic change and opposing corporate greed and war profiteers. Student convergences. Spontaneous teach-ins. Sunshine raining down like a kiss from the divine saying yes, yes, this is right and good. People milling about all over the place like it is the most normal thing in the world to have a tent city in the middle of downtown Oakland. Wall to wall pop ups and tents. Straw strewn ground makes the landing pad for the other world that is possible, breathing, emerging. Dozens of dancers converging in the intersection to raise up hands and turn old ’70s beats into new mantras for the movement.

Yesterday I spent a whirlwind day at Occupy Oakland (#OO). I just returned to the US after two weeks of being out of the country to speak about CODEPINK’s work for peace and justice at a tech conference, so this was my first day at #OO. When I walked up I was immediately pulled into flashmob practice and then turned around to begin a practice that would continue all day – turning to greet a friend with a big hug and a smile and an “isn’t this amazing?!” Hour after hour I saw friends and activists from all different movements, issues, causes, and no cause at all, just the common interest in being part of opposing a system that is clearly broken, and taking a stand for an alternative America.

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