By Patti Thorn
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And with that conciliatory gesture, an unpermitted march for peace was allowed to proceed Wednesday afternoon through downtown
See videos of the march here
At least 3,000
After about an hourlong standoff with police at the end of the march, contact was made with an Obama aide.
Co-sponsored by the anti-war group Tent State University and the Iraq Veterans Against the War, the march began around 3:15 p.m. outside the coliseum after 9,800 people attended a free concert featuring the heavy metal/rap band Rage Against the Machine and three other acts.
During the four-hour show, audience members were urged to join the demonstration. Band members and others stressed the need for the march to remain peaceful.
At one point, rapper Jonny 5 of Denver's Flobots referred to conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, who has been widely quoted as saying it would be his "dream" for riots to break out in
While some feared police would attempt to stop the march, officers surprised the group by escorting the protesters through city streets, redirecting traffic and pedestrians along the way.
"Under the totality of all the circumstances, it was handled in a manner that best addressed the public safety at the time," said Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the
The group of mostly young people walked behind a banner that said: "Support GI Resistance."
Wearing T-shirts and stickers with slogans such as "Arrest Bush" and "Make Out Not War," they sang rolling chants, Marine- style. "Tell Me What We're Marching For," sang one group. "Stop the torture, stop the war," answered another.
People lined the streets to watch, most approvingly.
As the marchers wound their way through the neighborhoods west of the coliseum, they found solidarity with a group of Latinos holding up an anti-war sign and cheering them on. "Si, se puede!" shouted some young marchers. "Yes, we can!"
But not all were supportive. From the balcony of an apartment complex, a man yelled at the throngs to move on. "Don't come back here," he said.
As the march wore on under a hot sun, some dropped out. Others found ways to take shortcuts. Two teens on the
One foot clad in a black shoe, the other barefoot, James Koller, 17, explained: "Someone clocked me in the face and took my shoe in the mosh pit. This is a quicker route to the
Koller's friend, Joey Minicucci, 18, of
Anne Hill, of Montrose, had other reasons. "I'm marching because it seems to be the last vestiges of our free speech and because people have demands and our government's not listening," she said.
The march came to a standstill at the perimeter of the
"We are your brothers and sisters in arms," said one. "We don't want to hurt you. We don't want you to hurt us."
With that, the standoff melted away and soon an appropriate aide was contacted.
"I figured as long as we kept things peaceful, they would hear us, and they did," said Army veteran Jeffrey Wood.
Staff writers Allison Bruce, Daniel J. Chacon, Abigail Curtis, Jeff Kass, Dan Kelley, Sue Lindsay, Steve Myers and Judi Villa contributed to this report.
Exclusive by IAN BRUCE, Defence Correspondent
One in six American soldiers in Afghanistan and one in eight in Iraq are taking daily doses of prescription antidepressants, sleeping pills or painkillers to help them cope with the stresses of combat, according to figures contained in a US Army mental health advisory team report seen by The Herald.
The findings mean that at least 20,000 troops are on medication such as Prozac or diamorphine while serving in the front line or on equally dangerous convoy escort or driving duties in conflicts where insurgents regularly target the supply chain.
While the vast majority would have been barred automatically from combat roles in earlier wars on medical and safety grounds, the pressure to provide up to 200,000 soldiers at any given time for the two major deployments has led to a relaxation of the rules.
Most of those affected are on their second or third tour of duty and 10% are predicted to be at high risk of developing "stress illnesses" including post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Pentagon admitted that medication was tolerated because those sent to
It also said it had no way of knowing exactly how many troops were taking medicinal drugs because an unknown number brought the pills with them from home rather than having them issued by a military doctor.
Official military surveys claim that while all soldiers deployed to an active war zone will feel stressed, roughly 70% will recover completely soon after a tour ends.
Another 20% will suffer "temporary stress injuries" which can bring on symptoms such as insomnia, panic attacks and growing feelings of depression, but which should also pass relatively quickly.
By contrast, the British military has a "zero tolerance" policy on drug use - either recreational or medicinal - which precludes service in frontline units.
Random drug tests where
The need for the US to maintain garrisons of 147,000 men and women in Iraq and 33,000 more in Afghanistan, plus units running the logistics chain in neighbouring countries, means that the US Army, National Guard and Marine Corps are overstretched by rolling, year-long deployments which have intensified over the past five years.
The US Army's annual mental health surveys have been running since 2003 and show that almost 30% of troops on their third deployment suffer from psychological problems as a result of seeing friends and colleagues killed or maimed.
Colonel Charles Hoge, one of the leading US military psychologists, told the Pentagon and a Congressional inquiry last year that the current 12-month gap between tours is insufficient to allow soldiers to "reset themselves" before facing the horrors of roadside bombs and ambushes again.
Meanwhile, 18 sailors on a Royal Navy warship have tested positive for a class A drug, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday. The crewmen were caught during routine testing on board HMS Liverpool, which is deployed in the
A spokeswoman said the drug involved was cocaine and internal disciplinary action was being taken. The test had been carried out after the crew had a "run ashore" on a break in
By Peter Eisler,
WASHINGTON — The United States is spending more money than ever on private security contractors in Iraq as thousands of troops return home amid steady declines in insurgent attacks, federal records show.
This year, spending on contractors, who protect diplomats, civilian facilities and supply convoys, is projected to exceed $1.2 billion, according to federal contract and budget data obtained by
Rising private security costs come as the Pentagon removes the last of the 30,000 extra troops sent to
Congress is raising concerns about the costs of relying on contractors for that work and the challenges of ensuring that they are supervised properly.
"While security is obviously necessary for American officials in
Lowey calls the security costs "exorbitant." She has pushed legislation to boost contracting oversight by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
State's contractor spending has climbed because the focus in
More diplomats are leaving secure areas to work in the field, where they need security, he says. At the same time,
Contractors "will increasingly take over these former military roles and missions, increasing (the) numbers of private security," Fleming says, noting that the new oversight policies will "hold contractors accountable."
In recent months, State and the Pentagon have developed policies governing the conduct of security contractors, who are immune from Iraqi law. State can impose administrative penalties for misconduct in
The Pentagon and the State Department have committed to work with Congress to enact legislation to increase legal accountability for all
Some security costs may be undocumented because they're buried inside contracts for other services, the report said.
That's an unacceptable lack of clarity, says Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who chairs the House subcommittee that controls defense spending. He has proposed to cut $4.5 billion from contracting accounts in next year's defense budget and add $943 million to other Pentagon accounts so more of the work can be shifted to civilian government employees.