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Ralph Nader and Patti Smith Promote Civic Activism

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Consumer activist Ralph Nader and singer Patti Smith promote civic activism and grassroots organizing during a joint appearance at Canisius College Friday night.

Critical issues such as the environment, education and health care will be discussed. But it's likely those issues will take a back seat to the war in Iraq. Ralph Nader said he fears the war, and its aftermath, will serve as a drain on the US economy.

"To see our national government completely obsessed with a weakened dictator in Iraq, plus the loss of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians, we're going to pay a real price for that," Nader said. "It's going to put an increased drain on tax dollars at a time of rising deficits and a weakening economy."

Buffalo is the 14th stop of Nader's nationwide tour of American cities that began in Portland, Oregon in 2001. The event is sponsored by Nader's newest organization, Democracy Rising, which he says seeks to unify people.

"The whole focus of these rallies is to get people more engaged in participating and building a stronger democracy," Nader said.

Nader said his goal is to connect Friday night's audience with local campaigns pushing progressive social change.

Patti Smith's appearance marks her first one here in 25 years.

The program begins at 7:00 at the Koessler Center at Canisius College.