People We Love

Lt. Ehren Watada refused to fight in an "illegal war."

"THE WAR IN IRAQ is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law," says Ehren Watada, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

Watada refused to board an Iraq-bound plane with the 3rd Stryker Brigade of Fort Lewis, Washington, in June arguing that it is illegal to obey an illegal order. On July 5, the military formally charged Watada with missing movement, two counts of contempt, and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. If convicted of all the charges, Watada faces more than seven years in military prison.

Watada's actions have inspired many to speak out against the Iraq War, including other military officers. More than a thousand people in over 30 cities rallied in support of the June 27 National Day of Action to Stand Up with Lt. Watada. His supporters plan more demonstrations in the future.

In memoriam. Jane Jacobs, champion of cities

jane jacobsIN THE 1960s when city planners were promoting skyscrapers and suburbs, Jane Jacobs pioneered a humanscale vision of cities.

Busy sidewalks, street-level small businesses, mixed-use neighborhoods—these, she said, make a city come alive. Freeways and sterile suburbs don't.

Her 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, was called “one of 20th-century architecture's most traumatic events.”

Today, Jacobs' ideas about what make cities thrive, or die, are widely accepted.

Though known for her books and ideas, Jacobs was no armchair activist. She was once arrested for second-degree rioting when she disrupted a meeting about an expressway. She led the fight to stop a freeway that would have carved up her beloved lower Manhattan. And when her boys reached draft age, the entire family relocated to Toronto, where she led a battle against another freeway. We will miss her.

Conchita Picciotto has been a neighbor to presidents since 1981

Conchita Picciotto

FOR 25 YEARS Concepcion “Conchita” Picciotto has lived on the street in front of the White House, protesting nuclear arms. Hers may be the longest continuous vigil in history.

In 1981, when Picciotto took up residence in Lafayette Square, Jimmy Carter was president. She counts off the others on her fingers: “Ronald Reagan, two terms, then President Bush's father, then President Clinton, two terms too, and now the son of the father.”

But in all that time, she's never talked to any of her presidential neighbors.

Asked what one message she would give President Bush if she could, Picciotto says, “My goodness! The first thing, to come to his senses and stop killing.”

Conchita is regarded as a permanent fixture in D.C. She's been listed twice in the Berlitz guide to the city, and she appeared in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911.


High school teacher Rob Cornell asked the hard quesions.

Rob Cornell"IF AMERICA ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” That observation by Alexis de Tocqueville was the basis of Rob Cornell's graduation speech at Corvallis High School in Corvallis, Oregon.

Chosen by the students to deliver the address, the veteran math teacher dared to ask the obvious follow-up question: “Has America ceased to be great?” “Would a good America have a policy of pre-emptive war?” he asked. “Would a good America ... ignore ... international laws such as the Geneva Conventions?”

Scattered “Boos” erupted from the audience. A Marine recruiter walked out, along with a few others. But Cornell continued, calling for a search for complex truths and civil disobedience if necessary. When he finished, students jumped to their feet in a standing ovation.

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