"Peace Train" in the News

Jon Flanders Jon_Flanders at compuserve.com
Thu Feb 6 16:16:04 MST 2003

Area activists organize `peace train' to NYC

Gazette Reporter

ALBANY - As Secretary of State Colin L. Powell showed evidence Wednesday
to the United Nations that Iraq has hidden weapons, a group of local
antiwar activists called it propaganda and finalized their own plans for
a "Peace Train" to protest war against Iraq.

An Amtrak train will carry about 70 people from the Capital Region to a
planned antiwar rally in New York City on Feb. 15.

They hope to send a message to the Bush administration that U.S. war
against Iraq is wrong, said Jon Flanders, who organized the Peace Train
and got those who signed up by Wednesday a discount on the ticket price.

Flanders works as a mechanic in the CSX railyard in Selkirk and heard
about the large antiwar rally planned for Feb. 15 in New York City. He
began organizing the Peace Train so local people could take part.

"This war is fundamentally about oil and the control of oil," said
Flanders, 56, of Troy. "It's about the refusal of Bush and others to
fund non-wasteful forms of mass transit."

Flanders said the Bush administration is willing to spend billions for
oil, yet is denying funding for mass transit - specifically, Amtrak.

In 2003, Amtrak requested $1.2 billion; the U.S. Senate proposed $1.2
billion, the House $762 million.

Amtrak officials have said that anything less than $1.2 billion in 2003
will result in a systematic shutdown.

The Bush administration has budgeted $900 million for Amtrak in 2004.

Amtrak officials had no comment Wednesday about a possible war against

If there was more mass transit, the U.S. wouldn't be so reliant on
foreign oil and therefore would not be so interested in attacking Iraq,
which has huge oil reserves, said Flanders.

Passenger rail is one of the best forms of mass transit, he said.

Flanders said he is very skeptical about the material that the Bush
administration is presenting to the American public, including
references to evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

"The reason we would attack Iraq is oil, pure and simple," he said.

Meanwhile, many members of local unions have signed up for the Peace
Train, said Doug Bullock, vice president of the Albany Central
Federation of Labor.

The Albany Central Federation of Labor, Troy Area Labor Council,
Saratoga Central Labor Council and the Greater Glens Falls Labor Council
have each approved antiwar resolutions.

Bullock, who is in his 50s and opposed the Vietnam War, said the labor
unions represent 140,000 people in the Capital Region and include state
workers, construction workers, electricians and bricklayers as well as
SEIU members.

"I don't want war," said Bullock. "There's a peaceful solution. Don't
bomb them. This is a pre-emptive strike against a Third World country.
I'm against it for humanitarian reasons. We'll kill thousands of Iraqi
civilians, women and children."

The idea behind the Peace Train is to rally for a peaceful solution and
highlight the lack of federal funding for mass transit, said Bullock.

"There's no proof that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. It's not
valid. It's part of the propaganda to go to war. As far as Iraq is
concerned, it's surrounded by U.S. troops. It's absurd to go ahead and
conquer a Third World country. It's absurd."

Contact Jill Bryce at 432-4391 or bryce at dailygazette.com.
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