Francisco—Palestinian and Israeli activists and their supporters played
Capture the Torch on Thursday in San Francisco, in preparation for the 2010
Winter Olympics to be held in the West Bank city of Hebron.
Mayor Gavin Newsom unveiled his plan to sequester the torch in the catacombs
beneath the Sutro Baths, Rabbi Abel Finger of the Jewish Community Relations
Council quickly convened a press conference to denounce the mayor as a
self-hating Jew. “Everyone knows
that the Romans started this whole mess by destroying the Temple in the time of
our ancestors,” Finger accused. “You
changed your name from Gabriel Newman to Gavin Newsom in order to get elected
mayor. But you won’t get away
mayor produced proof that he was baptized by the Reverend Jeremy Wright, but
hastened to state that he did not know at the time that Wright was an admirer of
Louis Farrakhan. “How could I
know, I was only eight days old,” the mayor whined.
The fact that his baptism occurred on the day when Jewish babies are
traditionally circumcised is sheer coincidence, the mayor’s press secretary
assured the public.
of the House Nancy Pelosi, who was elected to Congress on a promise to be
Israel’s best friend, said it had been her idea to house the torch in the
Sutro ruins. “I got the idea when
I saw Madonna do her concert in Rachel’s Tomb,” Pelosi said.
Rachel’s Tomb, at the entrance to Bethlehem, is holy to both Muslims
and Jews and is the site of one of Israel’s largest new settlement projects.
Dalai Lama, on a cellphone from an undisclosed location in the U.S., commented
that it might be hard for the Israel to host the winter Olympics, given its
typically mild winters. “God will
provide,” responded Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
Two members of Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism were arrested when they attempted to hang a banner from the shelf in Rainbow Grocery that holds Israeli bath salts.
Nurses from eight sutter
health care organizations returned to work after a scheduled ten-day strike that
ran from March 21 to March 31. The California Nurses Association, which
represents the nurses, said that the strike had been very effective, and that
most of the nurses had honored the picket lines. There is still no agreement.
The issues in the contract
dispute include patient care, nurse staffing, and demands by sutter for
give-backs on health care coverage and retirement. The strike effected San
Leandro Hospital, Alta Bates-Summit Medical Center (ABSMC) in Berkeley and
Oakland, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, Sutter Delta in Antioch, St.
Luke’s Hospital and California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco,
Mills-Peninsula Health Services in Burlingame and San Mateo and Sutter Solano in
Vallejo. ABSMC has informed employees of their intention to declare an impasse
and implement their “last, best and final offer.”
The CNA estimated that sutter
has already spent over $23 million during the contract dispute, which included
two shorter strikes. Of this, eighteen million dollars were spent on scabs (aka
“traveling nurses”). People who have experienced patient care problems at
sutter are encouraged to visit www.SutterExposed.org which has links to
various agencies that take complaints.
. Meanwhile, an agreement was
reached between CNA and the five UC hospitals in San Francisco, Los Angeles,
Davis, Irvine and San Diego, as well as at student health centers. The
agreement, which effects about 10,000 nurses, maintains benefits and includes
raises over the course of the three year contract.
is designated as the “Day of the Teacher,” but this year California has made
it clear to teachers that they are not honored or respected.
The public education system is once again under attack as Governor
Schwarzenegger proposes a 4.8 billion dollar cut to an already underfunded
California has the 6th
largest economy in the world, businesses that earn enormous profits and some of
the wealthiest people in the U.S, yet ranks 46th
in per pupil spending for education. The governor has also proposed the
suspension of the voter approved Proposition 98 which guarantees a minimum
funding to education. Further cuts
in the education budget will destroy the public education system and hurt the
students and families who depend on public education.
As of March 15, 14000
teachers have received layoff notices. In
San Francisco more than 500 layoff notices went out to teachers and
administrators. New teachers who
have worked hard to perfect their teaching in currently underfunded schools are
likely not to return to teaching. As
California schools face teacher shortages and larger class sizes the gains that
have been made will be lost.
California and Californians
need to commit to creating a quality education system that is fully funded.
Class sizes of 36 to 38 students are unacceptable for learning.
Classroom supplies purchased by teachers who spend hundreds to thousands
of dollars per year on their classrooms is, in effect, a tax on people who
choose to be teachers. In fact,
teachers are paying what the corporations and wealthiest Californians refuse to
pay when they insist on no new taxes.
What can the people of
California do? There have been
several protests sponsored by local school districts.
Support the demonstrations in your area. Go to or communicate with your school board and district
administration to insist that they become advocates for our students and
educators; urge them to go to the governor and demand full funding for our
Let’s truly honor educators, teachers, nurses, para-educators, speech therapists, counselors, this May 14th: send emails and call Governor Schwarzenegger and your legislators insisting that there be no cuts to education and no cuts that negatively impact the education of our students. Also visit the California Teachers Association website (www.cta.org) to find out more information about responses to the cuts.
The landlords are at it
again. The June primary ballot (wait, didn’t we already have a
primary?) will have a ballot measure, proposition 98, which would outlaw rent
Posing as a measure that
would limit the ability of governments to use eminent domain for private
development, the measure would actually ban new rent control measures and throw
out any rent control that was enacted after June 2007. It would phase out
existing rent control in a dozen California cities, including San Francisco,
Oakland, Berkeley, Santa Monica, Los Angeles and San Jose, by permanently
decontrolling any unit that became vacant. This is different from vacancy
decontrol which permits a landlord to raise rents when someone in a
rent-controlled unit moves out, but then leaves the unit subject to further
control during the new renters tenancy.
According to the legislative
analyst, prop 98 would get rid of laws in about 100 cities that limit the fee
increases that can be charged to people living in mobile home parks. It would
also invalidate laws requiring inclusion of low or moderate income housing units
in developments, and it would invalidate laws requiring compensation to victims
of condo conversions.
And, good news for PG&E,
it would also prevent local governments from using eminent domain to take over
private power plants or other utilities.
All-in-all, a very nice
capitalist measure which deserves a defensive “no” vote.
Meanwhile, Prop 99 also
addresses abuses of eminent domain by prohibiting the government from taking a
private residence and turning it over to another private entity. This is aimed
at curbing the use of eminent domain to gentrify low-income communities by
taking people’s homes and turning them into shopping centers.
If you’d like to view the We All Hate 98 music video, go to:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVwxGgLBpoU.
The Israeli consulate has set
up a new website, israelinthebay.org, in preparation for its 60th birthday party
(May marks 60 years since the 1948 expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their
homeland and establishment of the state of israel).
One of the “community partners” listed on the site is Frameline,
which organizes the LGBT Film Festival, so we gather that Frameline has not
decided to accede to our demand to discontinue its relationship with the
consulate until israel agrees to respect human rights and let the refugees
QUIT! has been getting post
cards signed in the Castro asking Frameline to stop supporting apartheid; all
are welcome to join us on Saturday, May 17 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
We are also organizing protest activities for this year’s film
festival, including nightly bannering, so we need a lot of people to help.
For info contact email@example.com.
The next time you’re
passing through the castro to get something to eat at Asqew or a slice from
Escape from New York Pizza, or maybe you want to mix up the menu at La
Mediterannee followed by a cocktail at The Bar (if you can make it up the
stairs) pose this question to the owners of these joints: Why are they funding
the lawsuit brought by the ggra (golden gate restaurant association) (not to be
confused with the ggra ( Georgia gay rodeo association) seeking to put an end to
san francisco’s Heatlth Care Security Ordinance?
This ordinance creates a
Health Access Program that will offer comprehensive healthcare services to
uninsured San Franciscans and their employers with subsidies for small and
medium-sized businesses and low and moderate-income individuals. The program
would assign individuals to a primary-care doctor, nurse or medical assistant at
one of the city’s public or nonprofit clinics, deliver acute care and
specialty services through a network, including sf General Hospital and the
city’s nonprofit hospitals, and would also cover prescription drugs and home
Ggra contends that certain
provisions of sf’s ordinance are preempted by the federal ERISA (Employee
Retirement Income Security Act). This act prohibits state and local governments
from regulating employee benefit plans. The ordinance doesn’t. A panel of the
circuit court of appeals reversed a federal district court judge who had
prohibited the city from collecting employer fees. This ruling was appealed to
supreme kkkourt justice Anthony kennedy, who denied a request to suspend
employer contributions while the case awaits a hearing on April 17th before another appeals panel.
Large businesses employing 100 or more workers would be
required to spend at least 75 percent of the cost of individual coverage for a
full-time worker, while medium-sized businesses employing 20 to 99 workers would
be required to spend at least 50 percent of this cost. The requirement would be
pro-rated for part-time workers, and small businesses with fewer than 20 workers
would be exempt.
Most of the estimated $200 million annual cost is to be
covered by state and local taxes and by payments from patients on a sliding
scale. Why is the trade association which represents some employers in part of
the largest industry in san francisco trying to get out of doing the very, most
miniscule, tiniest part of their fair share?
Ask that question the next time you’re not eating at the hip new South, co-owned by Anna Weinberg who complains that she just won’t have more that 18 employees. And mention that she could tack on a surcharge to the bill the way Zuni café is. And tell every member of this association that their dues are making people sick.
by Tory and Cynthia
The BayNJ4 Solidarity group
continues to work on strategies to help free the four incarcerated African
American Lesbians: Renata, Patreese,
Terrain, and Venice. Seven Lesbians
were physically and homophobically attacked by Dwayne Buckles near the piers in
the Village in new York. He
propositioned Patreese saying “I’ll fuck you straight sweetheart,” spat in
her face, grabbed one woman’s hair, and tried to strangle Renata.
These righteous brave lesbians defended themselves and fought back
(something any of us would have done and feel we have a right to do and must
do). Three of the women took plea
bargains; a racist homophobic judge, edward j. mclaughlin, gave the four who
went to trial sentences ranging from 3½-11 years for defending themselves.
Some of the women had known Sakia Gunn, the young lesbian murdered in new
Jersey by a homphobic attacker. dwayne
buckles has further assaulted them by issuing a civil suit against all seven.
Locally, Incite Women of
Color Against Violence, LAGAI-Queer Insurrection, Gay Shame and others have been
working on getting the word out and developing a strategy that would impact the
upcoming appeals. Appeals have been
submitted for all of the incarcerated lesbians and are expected to begin in
There have been a number of
fund-raisers for the NJ4, two at the Gangway in San Francisco, one at the
Parkside, and one at the Lucky Lounge on Grand Avenue in Oakland.
The Anarchist Café, which was organized by straight leftists, was
designated partially as a benefit for them.
The money has been split among the four commissary funds.
We handed out a ton of
leaflets at a memorial for Pat Parker and Audrey Lorde called Sister Comrade.
Angela Davis spoke about the four lesbians during that event.
Ralowe made a very creative public service announcement using Angela
Davis’s words which was posted on various websites and played on the women’s
show at KPFA.
LAGAI printed 7,000
additional copies of the centerfold of our last (February 2008) UltraViolet,
which was produced by the Committee to Free the NJ4, and these have been
distributed far and wide.
As part of the March 19th day
of protest against the fifth year of the Iraq war, we took a spectacular banner
to at&t (exploiter of prison labor) which read MORE BARS IN MORE PLACES;
FREE THE NJ4.
Ralowe from Gay Shame went to
an anarchist conference in DC to speak on a panel about the NJ4.
While there Ralowe visited both Renata and Patreese in prison in NY.
Ralowe also met several family members of the NJ4 including Renata’s
mother, Molly Brown, who is also a lesbian.
Ralowe was able to contact people from the Bluestocking Bookstore
collective in New York, who are also working to free the NJ4.
Our West Coast bunch called
for a series of conference calls to try to try to come up with a national
strategy to get the NJ4 out of prison. The
Midwest was represented by Natalie and Treva at the University of Illinois and
in New York Wade from Bluestocking participated, as did Terrain’s mother,
Kimma, Patreese’s sister Tanesha and Imani Henry.
While national telephone
calls might be one of the most difficult forms of queer left communications as a
national group we have accomplished some things.
1. The Midwest people have set up a blog website which will
be used as a central location for all collected information and links to people
doing work on the issue. They have
also agreed to answer inquiries through the website.
2. Wade is arranging a conference call with the lawyers so
that we can find out what they think would make a difference in the appeals
3. Some ideas are a letter writing campaign and getting
people to go to the hearings in New York.
4. On the west coast we hope to get Mollie Brown to come
speak at the Dyke March, with a Free the NJ4 as a lead banner for the march.
We also plan to make T-shirts, as there are several good graphics.
5. Most importantly we want to do really creative direct
action which makes links to the prison industrial complex and right to self
For information on this case
go to http://freenj4.wordpress.com/
FREE THE NJ4
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
On Workers Memorial Day we
remember the casualties of Americas longest undeclared war: tens of thousands
dead and millions wounded - every year. The war isnt just overseas; its here at
home and the battleground is the workplace. Nationwide in 2006, more than 1.2
million workers were injured and 5,703 workers killed. Another 50,000 died due
to occupational diseases from sources such as toxic chemicals. Each year in
California, 23,000 workers are diagnosed with a chronic, deadly disease caused
by workplace chemical exposure, and approximately 6,500 California workers die
due to associated chronic diseases.
APRIL 26, 2008
ALFRED ZAMPA BRIDGE
formerly Carquinez Bridge - Hwy 80 - if traveling north, take last exit (#27) to Crockett/Port Costa - go .5 miles turning under fwy, then rt on San Pablo and park near the Dead Fish Restaurant which is located at 20050 San Pablo in Crockett)
Sponsored by: California
Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, State Building & Const Trades Council of CA,
Contra Costa Central Labor Council, Contra Costa Building Trades Council, and
For more info go to www.worksafe.org/
who was not comatose last week is well aware of what happened when the Olympic
torch came through our fair city last week – thousands came out to protest
about Tibet, Burma and Darfur, activists from Students for a Free Tibet hung a
banner off the Golden Gate Bridge and are now charged with felony conspiracy,
Archbishop Tutu and Richard Gere spoke at a candlelight vigil, and the torch and
its bearers ended up meandering around the outer reaches of downtown looking for
a photo op. Torchbearer Majora
Carter, tried to display a Tibetan flag while running with the torch on Van Ness
Avenue but the SFPD quickly took the torch from her and pushed her onto the
An Australian newspaper
reported it this way: “The San
Francisco torch relay descended into a fiasco after city officials and the
Chinese Government decided that masses of pro- and anti-Chinese protesters
represented too great a security threat and concocted a convoluted plan to keep
the symbol of the Games away from those who’d turned out to see it, whether
friend or foe.…The relay was cut in half to 4.8km, the route completely
changed and the flame hidden for a period in a waterfront warehouse, then
spirited away in a bus, police boat and amphibious vehicle.”
All in all it was a huge
victory for the protesters, as the thousands of people who came out to see the
torch only saw them, with their signs and banners. They managed to completely derail the event and most faced no
consequences worse than a sunburn, though apparently a few people were beaten up
by police in the initial confrontation before the torch even arrived at McCovey
The u.s. media seemed torn
between their knee-jerk disdain for protesters, leading them to gloat over the
way the government outwitted the demonstrators, and their dislike for China,
which gave these particular protesters a legitimacy that the rest of us don’t
get. You have to wonder whether the
banner hangers would have made the front page of the New York Times if
their message had been “Free Tibet, Free Iraq.” Then again, you have to wonder why it wasn’t, especially
since at least one of them has a connection to Direct Action to Stop the War.
Tibet got the lion’s share
of the focus, though there was some coverage of the Peace for Burma walk across
the Golden Gate Bridge. There was
scarce mention of Darfur on the day, but there had been coverage of them earlier
in the week. The issue of
sweatshops and child labor received not a peep during this spectacle.
In general, it seems like the left missed a colossal opportunity to make
Of course, some parts of the
left were out there – defending China and asserting that the Chinese
occupation has actually been good for Tibet.
A letter circulated by ANSWER and signed by a wide range of progressive
people associated with them reads in part, “Regarding Tibet, for many
centuries a region of China, the hand of Washington in the latest events is
obvious for anyone who wants to see. For more than 50 years, the CIA and other
U.S. government agencies have trained, funded, coordinated and supported the old
feudal and repressive regime in Tibet represented by the Dalai Lama. The CIA
front group the National Endowment for Democracy funds the International
Campaign for Tibet, the Tibetan Youth Congress, the Tibetan People’s Uprising
Movement and the Dalai Lama himself. The U.S. maintains close ties with the
Tibetan ‘government-in-exile’ in India, whose real aim is to break away a
region making up a quarter of China’s territory. These U.S. actions constitute
an effort to de-stabilize and dismember the Peoples Republic of China. The
progress in education, women’s rights, employment and health care would be
immediately eviscerated if the old serf-owning ruling elite, represented by the
Dalai Lama, was brought back to power.”
A recent issue of Revolution,
the magazine of the Revolutionary Communist Party, reprinted a 1975 article
which takes a similar tack:
“The Cultural Revolution
brought profound changes to Tibet. Agricultural communes were organized,
irrigation projects were undertaken, and food production was expanded.
“Barefoot doctors”—medical workers trained from among the masses—brought
regular health care to many rural areas for the first time. Half the barefoot
doctors were women, previously forbidden under Buddhist doctrine to practice
medicine. Literacy and basic scientific knowledge were spread among the people,
and ideological struggle was waged against feudal customs and values.”
In a postscript to the
article, at least, Revolution acknowledges that China is no longer
communist, but rather capitalism’s sweatshop.
That being the case, however, it’s unclear whether we’re supposed to
support the colonization of Tibet because it’s the last vestige of Maoism, or
if it’s okay to support self-determination now that the people denying it do
not call themselves Communists.
Students for a Free Tibet
counters the argument that China modernized Tibet by pointing out that this has
often been used to justify imperialism. “Yes
China has developed Tibet, but urban Tibetans only benefit marginally and rural
Tibetans barely benefit at all. Tibetans without Chinese language skills and
connections are left to fend for themselves as second-class citizens in their
own country. China’s own statistics show Tibet’s per capita income falls
below that of all Chinese provinces, and vast areas of rural Tibet lack basic
healthcare and education. Beijing’s overarching priority is tying Tibet to
China by moving in Chinese colonists to the urban areas and creating a Tibetan
economy dependent on resource-exploitation and state subsidies. It is spending
huge amounts of money on infrastructure to solidify its control, such as a
railroad to Lhasa on which Beijing will spend more than what it has put towards
healthcare and education in the entire 50+ years it has occupied Tibet. …Tibet
today is a vast resource-extraction colony and its urban areas are filled with
Chinese settlers. According to the UNDP in 2000, real GDP per capita in Tibet is
$169, as opposed to $680 for China as a whole and $4,000 in Shanghai.
Adult Literacy is 38% as opposed to 81% in China. Maternal mortality is
50 per 10,000 as opposed to 9 per 10,000 in China.
“Beijing would never argue
that just because Hong Kong under British rule grew to become one of the
world’s major economic centers and enjoyed one of the highest living standards
in Asia, this somehow justified British imperialism. It seems hypocritical for
it to use exactly this line of reasoning for Tibet, whether factually valid or
It is true that when I hear
people in the Free Tibet movement demanding that China negotiate with “His
Holiness The Dalai Lama,” I can’t help thinking that if they were saying,
“His Holiness The Pope,” I would not feel very sympathetic.
On the other hand, to argue that because theocracy is regressive,
colonialism is justified is suspiciously akin to the argument that Israeli
occupation is somehow justified by the fact that Hamas, a religious movement, is
anti-gay and Shari’a law is anti-woman. If
the Palestinians have a right to choose a government I don’t like (and they
certainly do), so, it seems to me, do the Tibetans.
As for the claims that Chinese development has modernized a backward
feudal country, it seems like we’ve heard that before too.
Something about making the desert bloom?
I have not heard any of the Tibetan nationalists here say, “We want to
return Tibet to its traditional slave-holding economy.”
A number of groups with
broader progressive politics have become active around Chinese human rights
violations as the Olympics loom.
The Paris-based organization
Reporters Without Borders(RWB) is advocating a boycott of the Olympics, citing a
wide range of human rights issues. RWB
journalists interrupted the speech of the China organizing committee chief
during the Olympic torch lighting ceremony in Greece March 24. “Around 30
journalists and 50 Internet users are currently detained in China, some of them
since the 1980s. The government blocks access to thousands for news websites. It
jams the Chinese, Tibetan and Uyghur-language programmes of 10 international
radio stations,” reads their press release.
“Every year, several thousand Chinese are executed in public, often in
stadiums, by means of a bullet in the back of the neck or lethal injection.”
On September 28, 2007,
Archbishop Tutu said that if China continues to support the military rulers in
Myanmar (Burma), he would “join a campaign to boycott the Beijing Olympics.”
When he spoke in San Francisco, he called on bush and other world leaders
to boycott the opening ceremonies.
There’s no question that
China bashing in this country always has a racist component to it.
But protesting the Olympics is as time-honored as is using them for the
political purposes of the host government.
(The torch run, it turns out, was initiated by Hitler in 1936, when the
route of the relay covered the territory he intended to (and subsequently did)
annex.) From Mexico City to Nagano
to Los Angeles, people have fought and died for their right to protest as this
supposed celebration of world harmony has led to homes being razed, poor people
being shipped out of town and undesirables put in prison.
This year’s events are
right on schedule: The Chinese government is moving troops into Tibet to secure
it for the torch’s run up Mt. Everest; the government of Nepal has detained
1,500 Tibetans in the aftermath of a protest march to the Chinese embassy in
Kathmandu; and the day before the torch arrived in San Francisco, Chinese AIDS
and human rights activist Hu Jia was sentenced to three and a half years in
prison for “inciting subversion of state power.” Hu had testified to the European Parliament and published a
letter urging a focus on human rights as the Summer Olympics approach.
Historically, people who become active over an identity issue become more organizable over other social issues. That was certainly true in the AIDS movement, which was a point of entry for a lot of white gay men who went on to participate in the movements against intervention in Central America and against the first Gulf War. The preparation for the torch run galvanized a huge movement that did not suddenly spring into existence last week. For the last month, Team Tibet, a coalition of five Bay Area groups, held daily demonstrations which drew several hundred people, mostly from the Tibetan community. At least some of those people are going to be looking for something else to do now, and we in the antiwar movement, or the save rent control movement, or the Free Palestine movement, should be thinking about how to get them to join us.
A few months ago, the entire Montgomery BART station plastered with billboards saying things like, “Are you invested in GENOCIDE?” and “Are your investments making a killing?” It was hard not to get pissed off, that divestment from Darfur is a growing tide, with Working Assets providing technical support, and divestment from Israel is still the movement that dare not speak its name, or at least can’t afford to. In fact, it’s hard for me not to assume that any group that can afford billboards must be someone I disagree with. But in fact, it’s a good thing to have people being reminded, in a way that feels safe to them, that divestment is an effective and legal means to pressure a foreign government. Today Darfur, Tomorrow Palestine.
By Chaya and Deni with waggles from Sparky
The Other Boleyn Girl
(reviewed by Chaya)
Divorced, beheaded, died,
divorced, beheaded, widowed... Why are Henry VIII and his 6 wives so fascinating
(at least to moviemakers, historians and me)? It’s such a timeless story about
how far the king could pursue his male power and patriarchal interests. Anne
Boleyn, knowing that her status without marriage would be tenuous, withheld her
affections from the already-married Henry until he found a way to wed her (good
on self-worth; bad on sisterhood). This latest film version is not the best –
that honor definitely goes to Anne of the Thousand Days (1969, Genevieve Bujold,
Richard Burton and Irene Pappas). Also interesting and fun is Showtime’s soap
opera series The Tudors (season 2 just started).
The Other Boleyn Girl has
sumptuous costumes and castles, and ok acting (Scarlett Johansson, Natalie
Portman, Eric Bana and Kristin Scott Thomas with the best lines on the status of
women), but the script falls apart midway. If you didn’t already know about
the reformation, and Henry’s break with Rome to create the church of England
(the popester wouldn’t give him a divorce from Catherine of Aragon so he could
marry Anne and have a male heir), you wouldn’t know it from this movie. TOBG
barely mentions these huge historical events, neglects to note that Henry killed
and tortured a lot of clergy and burned abbeys and villages, but portrays Henry
as a sensitive guy (if you don’t count the sexual assaults, life and death
power over everyone, etc). Mainly, you see that a woman had no power over her
life, even the women of the nobility. But they sure wore great clothes!
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
Romanian writer-director Cristian Mungiu’s film about a woman trying to
support her friend through an illegal abortion in Bucharest during Ceaucescu’s
reign is extremely well done and worthwhile, though not easy to sit through. The
movie’s unpretentious acting (especially by the 2 women), script, and
cinemagraphic technique all contribute to the distinctive, engrossing style that
kept me on the edge of my seat.
This cautionary tale, common to many other times and places, is also an
interesting glimpse of the Ceaucescu regime from the perspective of students
from different backgrounds, and relatively privileged professionals.
It showed the rampant corruption. And the movie was scary and tense.
It exposed many layers of power. A good movie for people who never knew about
illegal abortion in the U.S.
Paranoid Park (reviewed by
A haunting and evocative
movie by openly gay director Gus Van Sant with stunning cinematography, great
music, and fine acting by newcomers Gabe Nevins (Alex) and Lauren McKinney
(Macy). The film’s remarkable skateboard scenes mirror and amplify the
fluidity and non-linear path of the storyline as it weaves past with present.
While Alex, a skateboarder, moves through high school, relationships, and his
parents divorce, a detective is also investigating a mysterious death which
loops and circles through Alex’s life. The film captures the complications of
the teenage world with characters and situations that feel very real. Yes,
it’s the heterosexual boy skateboard world, but female friend Macy has some
defining moments. It’s a good movie whose mood lingers – see it.
reviewed by Cole)
The film was directed by
Kimberly Peirce, the director of Boys Don’t Cry, but Stop-Loss sure made
theses boys cry (really). I think the film was a powerful statement on the
horrific impact of this endless war on American soldiers. Although the film
sadly doesn’t mention this, one cringes at how the cut in veterans’ services
amplifies the impact. After the first fifteen minutes, the film doesn’t dwell
overly on the war’s impact on Iraqis, but it seems fair to say that’s
The film also provides little
comment on the cause of the war and the limited efforts in that regard
unfortunately seem a little affected. I wish that had been explored further,
although I appreciate that a capsulized progressive critique can be equally
frustrating and deteriorate into sloganeering. On a plus side, the
filmmaker didn’t feel obligated to descend into involving the protagonist and
lead female character in an unnecessary romantic relationship. Despite some
shortcomings, I think the film should be saluted for its success in creating sympathy
for the devastation engendered by engaging in combat on behalf of our
intransigent government. See it.
The Savages (reviewed by
One day many of us wake up
and realize time has passed, our parents have aged, and maybe they can’t take
care of themselves anymore. Having recently gone through this myself with my
mother, this story resonated big-time with me. Laura Linney and Philip Seymour
Hoffman did their usual fabulous acting job of portraying the Savage siblings
Wendy and Jon, who must totally disrupt their lives to take care of their father
from whom they’re estranged. Philip Bosco (a favorite of ours since he played
Mr. Trask in Working Girl) did an admirable job as the declining parent. I
appreciate that these actors wanted to make this small, independent movie. At
times wry, hilarious or searing, writer-director Tamara Jenkins’s film was
always insightful. It’s gone from theatres, but definitely worth renting.
The Bank Robbery (guest
reviewed by Claire – winner of this issue’s Most Succinct Review Award)
Predictable and not
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a
Day (guest reviewed by Claire)
A fun movie with great
costumes but typical Hollywood ending. The moral of the story is that you have
to be yourself, and going after money won’t make you happy. The main character
learns that lesson from Miss Pettigrew. Amy Adams irritated me to no end;
Frances McDormand was entertaining.
Blue Vinyl (guest reviewed
In case you were otherwise
occupied in 2004, when Blue Vinyl was first released in the u.s., this
documentary by Judith Helfand and Daniel Gold is worth finding in reruns or on
DVD. Helfand’s hook is her father’s decision to deal with the rotting wood
in her family’s home by installing vinyl siding. A DES daughter, she traces
vinyl from the factories where workers are getting sick, despite a relatively
low OSHA exposure limit, to Italy where vinyl chloride manufacturers were tried
for manslaughter, to the communities surrounding vinyl plants, to the vinyl
industry association’s sponsorship of Homes for Humanity. It is impossible to
do justice to this good-humored, unbelievably thorough investigation of
vinyl’s birth, life, death, and disposal. And they do a great job of
exploring/exposing alternatives. It almost made us give up our lovely light and
sturdy PVC banner poles. But what would we use, old-growth redwood?
BITS AND PIECES
Inconvenient But True:
News flash! Those of you not walking at Fort Funston at 6 a.m. may not be
aware of the local climate change: on the very first day it starts to warm up in
the Bay Area, there is now a layer of brown haze on the western horizon along
the ocean. In years past, this always happened quickly over the East Bay, but it
took at least 5 days of heat to show up over the ocean. Now it’s on day one.
Have a nice day…
Confidential to Sean Penn:
With all the kudos we’ve given you in the past, we’re still waiting for your
apology for the “Sean Hannity, the butt boy of Rupert Murdoch” comment at
the wrap of the “MILK” filming. Homophobic slurs do not a progressive make.
Maybe Robin can help you out, now that you’re back together…
Loved this sf chronicle item of March 24: Jordan L’Moore, who was in one of
the protest marches filmed for “MILK,” says that when the drag queens were
asked to chant “Civil rights or civil war, gay rights now,” they instead
chanted: “Cybill Shepherd’s silverware, hayrides now.” (Boring does not a
movement make…). Say it out loud to really appreciate it!
Abortion, U.S. Style: A
bell must have rung at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID),
part of the State Dept, when 2 items were found in the large “Popline”
public health database of population, family planning and related issues. [Popline
is funded by USAID but maintained by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.] The
2 evil entries were related to abortion advocacy and according to USAID “did
not meet the criteria for inclusion” (federal policy now bars USAID from
awarding funds to organizations in foreign countries that perform or promote
abortions as a form of family planning). So in February, AID had the database
programmed to ignore “abortion” as a search term.
Librarians came to the rescue! On March 31, Gloria Won,
a librarian at the University of California-San Francisco, e-mailed Popline
administrator Debra Dickson after she noticed that an abortion-related search
returned fewer citations than it had previously. Dickson responded that Popline
administrators “made all abortion terms stop words,” (which means the search
term “abortion” is ignored) adding, “as a federally funded project, we
decided this was best for now.” Talk about stop loss! Librarians, women’s
health and public health advocates raised a hue and cry
in blogs, listservs and e-mails to Hopkins officials. Fast, happy ending!
Hopkins Dean Michael Klag had “abortion” restored as a search term early in
April and plans to launch an inquiry to determine why database administrators
restricted the term.
Horton Hears A Who:
When the movie opened recently, one line in it created quite a controversy: “A
person’s a person, no matter how small.” Earlier this year, when I (Deni)
read the book to my 2nd
and 3rd graders, our
discussion about that line focused on the issue of respect regardless of size,
with implications for respect across various other physical differences as well.
then I found out,
To my shock and dismay,
That it wasn’t about that,
Respect? Oh, no way!
Turns out that this message,
These 8 simple words,
(Did you say that’s absurd?!)
The right wing - they claimed it!
Seuss heirs said “Oh no!
Dr. Seuss political?
That just isn’t so!”
But re-read Butter Battle,
The Lorax, and Yertle.
Lots of liberal ideas,
(Dethrone Bush King Turtle?)
My message is simple,
It’s plain as can be,
Fuck the right wing,
Say Things 1, 2, and 3!
WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF SPARKY WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF
Eric McDavid was arrested as
part of the government’s ongoing Green Scare campaign in January 2006.
He was arrested with two others and all three were charged with
“conspiracy to destroy property by means of fire or explosives.” The
government’s case was based on the word of an FBI informant, a young woman who
was paid over $65,000 to fabricate a crime and implicate the trio.
Both of Eric’s co-defendants caved under the threat of 20 years in
prison and plead guilty to a lesser charge.
In doing so, they also agreed to testify against Eric and cooperate in
every way, including talking to the feds about unrelated people/cases and
testifying in front of secret grand jury proceedings. Since his arrest, Eric has been held in Total Separation,
only leaving his cell a few hours a week and receiving minimal contact with the
outside world. He has endured two
hunger strikes to gain access to vegan food while in jail.
On September 27, 2007, a jury
convicted Eric, after a trial fraught with deception, lies, and clear errors on
the part of the court. In
interviews with the jury after trial, it was discovered that members of the jury
were moving towards acquittal, as it was obvious that Eric was entrapped by the
government. Unfortunately, due to
faulty jury instructions given by the judge, they felt they had to convict.
Eric now faces 20 years in prison for a crime that was never committed.
His sentencing is currently set for Thursday, April 17.
But the struggle is far from over. The next phase is just beginning, as Eric moves into the appeals process. This will be a long and difficult battle - one which Eric will be fighting from inside prison walls - and we need everyone’s support along the way. Please do not forget about Eric once he is sentenced! He will be sent to a federal prison - which could relocate him hundreds of miles from his family and loved ones. Please continue writing Eric - send him your words, beautiful pictures, poems or anything that might inspire him or make his days a little brighter. Eric will also need money donated to his commissary account to help him pay for vegan food in prison, for letter writing materials, and other basic needs. You can also send Eric books. For more information on Eric, his case, and how you can help, please visit www.supporteric.org.
Another March 19 has come and
gone, leaving those of us who organized protests of five years of war to muse
about what we accomplished.
The actions here in San
Francisco were pretty successful. We
had more people participating than we have had in the last four years, though
unsurprisingly, not close to the numbers who came out in 2003 when the war first
began. There were 165 arrests, most
of people who chose to be arrested, and that was a lot more than any single
action in the last four years as well. Which
in itself is interesting, because in the 1980s, when the U.S. was involved in
covert wars in Central America that hardly anyone knew about, we used to
occasionally have actions where 500 people got arrested.
It’s not that getting
arrested is the be all and end all of activism, it’s just that it’s one
indication of how much personal risk people are willing to take to express their
opposition to a government policy. I
always assumed that the more egregious the government’s actions were, the more
people would be willing to engage in resistance that carried some risk to
themselves. But in fact, the
opposite has proved true, and I think there are a lot of reasons for that.
First, it’s been several
generations now since there was a major example in this country of mass
nonviolent action actually being effective in changing policy.
In the eighties, the civil rights struggles of the fifties and sixties,
and the antiwar actions of the sixties and seventies, were still fresh in a lot
of our memories. There were even people who had been involved in the labor
movements of the thirties who were participating in those actions.
But people who are 35 and under today don’t even know about most of the
movements of the eighties which used direct action: the anti-nuclear movement,
the movement against the contras in Nicaragua and the death squads in El
Salvador, the sanctuary movement, even the anti-apartheid movement in its
grassroots community aspect.
The AIDS movement, which is a
rare counterexample of a grassroots direct action movement which did succeed in
changing policy, isn’t even considered by the left a part of their history,
though they continue to chant, “Iraqi People Under Attack, What Do We Do?
Stand Up, Fight Back” (the original one was “ACT UP, Fight Back,” but like
all good things, straight people have made it their own.).
It seemed a couple years ago
that the immigrant rights movement would provide a modern example, which like
the Black civil rights movement, might have rippled to create an activist
awakening among other communities. But,
for reasons that not being a part of that community, I can only speculate about,
that massive uprising quickly dwindled to a movement of the hard core.
Second, a friend pointed out,
with cable TV, there are so many more options for what to watch, and that’s
compounded by the nearly limitless resources of the internet, while in the
sixties, seventies and eighties, everyone was watching the same news.
The opportunities to opt out of news altogether mean that even the rare
glimpses of the Iraq war on the mainstream television news go unseen by a
At the same time, the
overwhelming barrage of disturbing images and stories from all corners of the
world causes people to shut down. A
few weeks ago, I was listening to the Winter Soldier hearings at work, and when
people would come into the center where I work, I would tell them what it was.
“What’s a war crime?” asked one man, a 30-something African
American who is a supervisor in the records department.
I explained briefly and he was momentarily shocked: “We’re doing
that?” But then he said, “I
like to maintain a positive outlook, so I can’t think about things like
that.” My coworker who came in at
3:00 p.m., a 60-something working class Jew and life-long leftist, said
something very similar: the news is too upsetting, and she is done thinking she
can do anything about it, so she tunes it out.
On March 19, I was part of a
group of about 30 people who walked around in orange jumpsuits and hoods (and a
few of us in masks of prominent politicians) doing theater in areas heavy with
shoppers and tourists. Many people
came up to us and said, “Thank you for being out here,” which at first was
gratifying but quickly became deeply disturbing. “I’m not out here for you,” my friend Gemma
I used to think that seeing
actions would motivate people to think about what they were willing to do.
I feel like 20 years ago, that was more true, but the consumer mentality
that capitalism has worked so hard to promote over the last twenty years has
destroyed that possibility. Whether
it’s a vigil, a blockade or a die-in, people see it as the same as a
billboard, a street band or religious fanatics ranting at them – part of
the ambience, something maybe to react to but not something to act on.
It is, of course, hard to
convince people to participate in activism when you can’t point to any
specific action and say, “Look at the effect it had.”
When I told an older friend about the March 19 actions, she pissed me off
by saying, “That doesn’t do anything. If
everyone stopped paying taxes, that would do something.”
It pissed me off because one, there is no chance that everyone is
going to stop paying taxes, or even that a lot of people are going to do it.
It is extremely difficult to actually stop paying taxes; you can’t have
an over-the-table job, you can’t have a bank account, and you can’t own any
property. So only a few people are
going to do it; a few people already do, and it’s a noble act of conscience
but not something that hurts the government as much as the government can hurt
them. And second, it puts the cart
way before the horse. If
“everyone” was about to stop paying taxes, we certainly would have been able
to get the 68% of everyone who opposes the war to come out to a peaceful
demonstration, and we can’t even do that.
The point is not the specific act, but that we have to figure out
something we can get everyone who opposes the war to do, and that in itself is a
monumental task which we are nowhere near being able to accomplish.
The warmakers have made it
clear that they don’t care what people think.
Cheney said it flat out in the runup to March 19: “We don’t make
policy based on opinion polls.” They
do care, though, what people do, at least if what those people are doing makes
it hard for them to continue governing. So
the $64,000 question is, what is there that masses of people would actually do
that the government would care about? It
would not necessarily be one thing, but some set of things which would signify
actual resistance, not resignation.
We can’t just sit around
waiting for everyone to stop paying their taxes, but we do need to reframe the
concept of resistance. One thing we
need to stop doing is equating resistance with demonstrations.
I think demonstrations are important, but they are only one kind of
resistance. There are people who
are never going to go to a demonstration, because, as my friend Jean says, they
are just convinced that’s not something people like them do.
So we need to open up discussions which will elicit “culturally
appropriate” (credit to Jean again) forms of resistance for different
communities. But that’s not going
to happen by itself, and it’s not as easy as it sounds because anything that
is effective is going to come in for repression.
If enough people start hanging “Stop the War” signs in their windows
that the government feels that’s a threat they can’t ignore, they’re going
to outlaw hanging signs in windows.
Rachel Corrie, Cindy
Sheehan and the Rest of Us
Last week was the book launch
of Let Me Stand Alone, the Journals of Rachel Corrie. I haven’t read the book, and I know enough about Rachel to
know that this is probably a misperception, but the title of the book rubs me
the wrong way. It gives the
impression, especially to those who will hear about the book but never read it,
that Rachel’s life has meaning because she did something alone, when in fact,
what she is known for is something she did as part of a movement, something she
could not have done on her own. More
generally, it feeds into the American idea that it’s extraordinary individuals
who make a difference, rather than groups, what might be called Dr. King
Syndrome. It’s the same reaction
that I had to Cindy Sheehan when she issued her (short-lived, as it turned out)
farewell as the “face of the peace movement”.
Everything, our media, our
literature, our history, is reduced to the actions of individuals.
This may be nice for the few who become those icons of personal
achievement (though it’s certainly not nice for Rachel Corrie, because she’s
dead, and it wasn’t nice for Cindy Sheehan, because it led to a nervous
breakdown and a life-threatening illness), but it makes the masses of people
feel both that they cannot make a difference, and that they do not need to make
There’s a fallacy which
goes along with the culture of stardom, I think, that says that there’s one
right way to accomplish our goals and we all need to do the same thing.
Lately, everyone in the antiwar movement is talking about “what is
effective?” and I sometimes get the feeling that they think there’s one
right answer that is hiding just around the corner.
We don’t always remember to ask, what is the effect we want to have?
Some people claim that
leafleting is more effective than direct action, because it reaches people
directly. But how do we know what
effect our leaflets have on people? We
don’t follow them around so we have pretty much no idea how many of the people
who take a leaflet even read it, and how many of those learn one thing from it,
and how many (or how few) of those are motivated to do anything.
Occasionally, you give someone information and they come back and ask for
more, but that’s very rare.
On the other side of the
spectrum are the people who only want to do actions that really impede the
making of war in some way. Those
people are usually putting a lot of energy into figuring out how to outwit the
authorities, and they are easily stymied by the fact that the authorities have
more resources than we do. At a
meeting evaluating the March 19 actions, someone observed that the San Francisco
police have gotten very fast at dismantling the lockboxes that activists use to
prolong blockades, and so he said we need to come up with better lockboxes.
A better message to take is that we’re not going to win a war of
equipment, that we need to stop relying on equipment to make up for the fact
that our actions don’t involve enough people.
The fact is that it’s easy to get rid of ten people, no matter what
kind of lock boxes they have, while 500 people can keep a building closed a long
time with nothing but their bodies.
There are people whose main
goal in any action is to get positive media coverage, but that’s a big crap
shoot because we have pretty much no control over what the media do and don’t
cover. On March 19 we got mostly
very good coverage, but that wasn’t due to us and how great our action was, it
was because March 19 is the one day a year when the media looks for stories
about the war and the antiwar movement. It’s
like being veterans on Veterans’ Day. We
could do the same action next week and get no coverage at all.
After the Students for a Free Tibet did their spectacular banner hang off
the GG Bridge, people started saying, “This is the kind of thing we need to do
to stop the war,” as if nothing had ever been done on the Golden Gate Bridge
before. But not only do we remember
some very spectacular moments in that locale (the 20th anniversary of January 29, 1989
is right around the corner), in fact, Code Pink dropped a huge banner over the
side on March 19 and it went unreported by everyone.
The struggle against
apartheid in South Africa is considered the epitome of a successful movement
that used direct action, and when people think of that struggle, they are always
thinking of the huge protests at places like Berkeley and Michigan.
“We have to get the ILWU,” someone said the other night, forgetting
that years before the ILWU refused to unload ships from South Africa, there was
daily civil disobedience at the South African embassy in Washington for an
entire year. Some of those actions
had movie stars getting arrested, and some of them had dozens of people, but
some of them had five priests or twelve students.
At U.C. Berkeley; a different group did direct action every day during
one quarter – one day the teachers, one day the disabled activists, one day
the queers …. People in many
countries protested when South African athletes participated in international
sports events, and boycotted South African cultural events.
Not one of those actions would have made much difference by itself, but
all together, they won the day.
It’s not what one person does alone, or what one group does alone, that should be honored. Let us all stand together.
The california department of food and agriculture (cdfa) has declared war without end on the light brown apple moth (LBAM), a foreign moth, based in Australia, that infiltrated our shores either from Hawaii or New Zealand, both of which are on the international list of states or countries that harbor insects. The cdfa has declared an emergency in all bay area counties, as well as Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, which permits it to do pretty much whatever the fuck it wants.
The LBAM, which even the u.s. department of agriculture (usda) admits has done little crop damage, is capable of living on hundreds of plant species. The cdfa and usda have established a goal of “eradictation” for this insect, rather than “control.” This permits them to continue to pursue pesticide application for two or more generation periods beyond the last detection of a moth. And to resume pesticide application upon finding even a single moth.
The cdfa, after reviewing all potential pesticide products produced by people who contributed $100,000 or more to the governor’s most recent campaign, chose aerial spraying of the pesticide “checkmate” for this purpose. The “active ingredients” of checkmate are two pheromones. The idea is that these pheromones distract the male moths, causing them to be less effective in reproducing. Other similar products, that are dispersed by placement of local devices such as “twist-ties”, were not produced by people or companies who contributed a lot of money to the governor, and therefore were not included in this campaign.
So last fall, the cdfa sprayed checkmate over Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. Over 600 residents filed reports of illness or adverse effects. Some are still sick. It should be a relief to them that a concensus statement from the office of environmental health hazard assessment (oehha) and the department of pesticide regulations (dpr) determined that there was little likelihood of human illness because so little was sprayed per acre. In unrelated news, the Monterey county agriculture commissioner fined dynamic aviation, the pesticide sprayers, $690 for failure to follow the spray plan.
“Weapons of Moth Destruction”
The spraying is projected to cost $97 million this year, of which $75 million is coming from the usda. Most of this money will go to suterra, the oregon-based company owned by schwarzennegger backer stewart resnick. Not only did resnick officially donate $144,000 to schwarzennegger’s reelection, but last year he contributed between $1,000 and $3,000 to each member of the assembly agriculture committee. Resnick, and his wife, lynda rae, also own paramount farming, which claims to be the world’s largest producer of pistachio nuts, and paramount citrus. He also owns teleflora (you can wire flowers, with or without moths or pheromones), the del ray juice company, Fiji water and the franklin mint, which you see on late night tv marketing special collector sets of u.s. dollars, postage stamps, figurines and the like. In case you were looking for another easy boycott.
There have been no studies of the health effects of aerial application of pheromones in microcapsules. Some pheromones are respiratory irritants. In addition, the plastic microcapsules, which are designed to degrade in ultraviolet light, may release any number of toxic materials. The company has not disclosed the exact composition of the plastic that forms the microcapsule. The environmental profit agency has issued an emergency license for the aerial spraying of checkmate without a toxicity review.
Due to the building public outcry against aerial spraying, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and several Bay Area local governments are collaborating on lawsuits to stop the cdfa, Various bills have been introduced into the legislature, including a 4-bill package by john laird, loni hancock, mark leno and jared huffman. Oakland assembly member sandre swanson had introduced a bill to require voter approval of any aerial spraying campaign and carole migden had introduced a bill calling for a moratorium on spraying for the LBAM.
Initially the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) had supported the aerial spraying. the spokesperson had said that CCOF wasn’t responsible for evaluating human health effects, and was responsible only to its members. However, on March 10, the CCOF issued a statement that said,
“CCOF is concerned about the impact of all pests on agriculture. In addition, we are concerned about the impacts of pest control actions on human health and the environment. As we have learned more about the ecology, chemistry, policies and politics surrounding the eradication program for the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM), we question whether an eradication program can be successful, and we acknowledge that the repeated spraying of an untested material and its inert ingredients on a large populated area is not desirable. We also believe that the health impacts on people, pets and wildlife, as well as the ecological impacts on our ecosystems and watersheds, need further evaluation.“CCOF supports the use of pheromones in ground applications and other ecologically sound organic integrated pest management (IPM) approaches as far preferable to the use of dangerous organophosphates. However, CCOF does not endorse further aerial applications of pheromones in LBAM eradication efforts due to potential human health and environmental concerns...”As of April 12, this leaves the sierra club as the only so-called environmental organization to support the spraying.
However, the cdfa maintains that it has all the authority it needs, in conjunction with the usda if necessary to continue the spraying. It plans to resume in June in monterey and santa cruz, and in August in the Bay Area, including in counties in which no LBAM have been found.
Suspiciously, the discovery of the enemy moth is attributed to a retired entemologist who reported that he found an LBAM in some traps he sets as a sort of hobby. Although cdfa claims that the usda would force the spraying if they didn’t, in fact it was the cdfa who escalated this issue to the usda, and who sought the grant for spraying. Other scientists claim that the moth has been present in California for over 10 years, and has not caused any significant problem. Until it was detected by the entemologist, that is.
The usda placed certain limited quarantines on the movement of some plants that may contain moth larvae. In Hawaii, a similar quarantine means that shippers of these plants must pay extra for an inspection to show they are not infected. If the cdfa accomplishes eradication, then these inspections would not be required.
Some people have speculated that the whole LBAM affair is really an attempt by the u.s. government to test aerial spraying techniques on civilian populations, that would not be otherwise accessible through warfare, drug eradication, and other foreign aid programs. The spraying allows them to test microcapsule delivery systems in urban areas, including conducting studies of how the concentration of pheromones (or any other chemical) would rise and fall over time.For lots of good info on the LBAM situation, check out: www.lbamspray.com.