in Search of a History
We Have Been Naught
What’s a Nice Leftist Like You Doing on a Gay Marriage March to Sacramento?
Dhaka Diary – history in the making
Cold Times for NJ4
Injustice inside: “No matter what”
The Empire Strikes Back
The MOCHA Column
Supreme kourt rejects mumia’s appeal
National Radical Queer Convergence
Queer Cultural Boycott Takes Off
Solidarity with Tristan and Palestine
Oakland Loses a Women’s Clinic
see young (and old) gays all around me obsessing over gay marriage as if it’s
going to cure AIDS, stop anti-queer violence, provide all of us uninsured queers
with health care, and reform racist immigration policies. When
in reality it will simply consolidate power, money and property amongst already
privileged gays, not to mention champion coupling over more dynamic ways of
being in relationships. I can’t
help but think that if us younger queers had access to the radical histories we
have all come from, we could see other more brilliant queer futures than those
promised by my neoliberal models of inclusivity.
The same models that push those of us at the furthest margins, queers of
color, crip queers, HIV+ queers, trans folks, sex workers, homeless queers,
working class queers, etc., even further away…
Perhaps if we put these radical memories into
action we could see the struggle for mainstream hetero-normalcy as inherently
violent and destructive to our queer cultural heritage.
If these memories were put into action, perhaps queer teenagers would
resist the gay marriage boot camps being rammed down their throats by the
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign and demand
safer schools, safer housing and direct access to culturally competent sex
education and safer sex supplies instead. If
these memories were in action, maybe we could be looking to dismantle the
military industrial complex, not joining it. If these memories were in action, maybe we would be making
queer families in infinite combinations of lovers and friends.
If these memories were put into action, perhaps we could adequately
challenge Obama’s new HIV/AIDS prevention campaign that is nearly devoid of
queer content even though queer men (particularly of color) account for roughly
75% of new HIV infections in the united states.
Can our radical queer histories really provide the necessary ground from
which to make our most radical dreams and desires a reality?
I don’t know… But this
is a place for me to work from and hopefully others too.
Out of the closets and into the libraries!
My friend William McDuffie died February 18, 2009 in Wilmington North Carolina. Members of PUSH ( People United to Save Health care) gathered for a dinner this week to remember Mr, Mac, or Mac, as he was usually called.. We all talked at once, shouted, and laughed, slipping back into our easy political companionship. Raquel brought a scrapbook of pictures of our Measure E campaign thirteen years ago. I brought a tiny beautiful camera video of Mr. Mac in his Wilmington apartment filled with his collection of African American art, the clip immortalizing his wonderful smile.
Julie wrote a tribute song with many verses:
“Great McDuffie had a broom. He had a voice: It said
“Great McDuffie had a heart. He pushed for health: he made a start.
“Great McDuffie won again. Led the charge in Wilmington
Dave floated his newest conspiracy theory about Alameda County and the medical center (always involving the evil dave kears)
Ann brought news of the frightful goings on of management and SEIU at Highland Hospital.
We all missed Mac and realized how important PUSH had been as a focus for our grassroots organizing about keeping a full service medical center for the people of Alameda County.
PUSH gave us support for navigating the difficulties of our respective SEIU unions
One of the very few things we all agreed on was that Mr Mac was the spark the pizzaz, the inspiration in PUSH.
Mac was a spectacular activist to his very soul. Organizing was what he did. He lived and breathed it. He spent all his waking hours plotting new projects. He mobilized crowds. Most of all he made the revolution fun.
William McDuffie’s political commitment began in High School in the early Civil Rights Movement. He was elected president of the youth group of the NAACP in 1960 while he was still in high school. He was part of and provided leadership to the early sit-ins at kress five and dime store in Wilmington NC. He organized the NAACP bus to the March on Washington. Mac’s eyes glowed with pride when he spoke of those times.
He always had the knack for bringing cohesion to unruly grassroots groups. He liked identifying outfits and costume. He felt this increased spirit and enthusiasm. He once told me about getting uniforms for the Youth group of the NAACP. To that end in PUSH he was instrumental in getting us to make and wear bright pink Save Our County Hospital T-shirts to promote our message and enhance solidarity.
The Wilmington Times, a local Black newspaper, in an article about the NAACP and Mac had this to say:
“A courageous teenager ran for and was elected NAACP Youth President in 1960. His name was William McDuffie. “Mac” as he was called by some of his old friends proved to be an intelligent dedicated and effective leader. Under his leadership we integrated the public facilities and many white businesses.
I first met Mac in 1996 when I worked at John George Psychiatric Pavilion (the county psych hospital) and he worked in housekeeping. We became friends and political comrades together with Raquel, during the campaign to pass Measure E. The SEIU unions representing employees at the medical center tried to pass this measure which would have let the residents of Alameda County vote on the kind of governance structure they wanted for the county hospital. The measure lost by a few hundred votes in spite of all our efforts. This opened a path for the disastrous formation of the hospital authority which separated the county hospital, making it its own entity and pulling employees out of the protection of civil service.
During the campaign McDuffie, Raquel, and I lobbied the union to get the word out about the hospital, how the evil dave kears was trying to scale it back and privatize it. We wanted SEIU (which had the money) to build a real community grass roots movement. We wanted buy some billboards telling people to vote for Measure E, because it would have given the community real control over the running of the hospital. Finally after numerous annoying fights with the union organizer of the measure E campaign, McDuffie found a place that rented loudspeakers which could be mounted on the top of a car. We attached the speaker to my old red Corolla station wagon along with balloons and a wooden placard which read SAVE HIGHLAND HOSPITAL on one side and SAVE THE COUNTY HOSPITAL on the other. Mac and Raquel and I began to drive through the neighbor hoods of Oakland with Mac announcing loudly in a stentorious voice “EMERGENCY EMERGENCY SAVE THE COUNTY HOSPITAL VOTE FOR MEASURE E.” Then we would stop and burst out of the car with our flyers. The union became so ashamed of their lagging behavior that they started including the “E-mobile,” as it became known, in their regular activities. Mac got the East Bay Dragons, a motorcycle club, and the local drug rehab treatment program Victory Outreach to help. We got the Bella Vista Neighborhood Association to work with us. We wheatpasted Measure E posters in the dead of night. We went all over Oakland with big Measure E signs. We descended on the Alameda County board of stupes and did theatrical actions. One of the best actions was the time that Mac lavishly and dramatically washed his hands in a big basin of sudsy water at he board of stupes open mic during public speaking time, to symbolize that the board was washing their hands of medical center.
Mr Mac really really wanted to plan a direct action in which we got a hot air balloon in the shape of the medical center and the some how blew it up in an intersection in a fireworks display to represent the devastation which was occurring in county health care. We never could figure out how exactly to make that demo happen.
After the campaign PUSH continued as a grassroots group of union workers at the medical center. We lobbied our unions, wrote them letters pressuring them to be more militant, bothered them about union democracy, gave each other support to deal with the shifting sands of the labor movement. We fought for a five-story new building at the medical center rather than the scaled back three-story ER-only hospital plan that the evil dave kears was pushing. We had a magnificent demo at Highland to protest the downsizing of labor and delivery, in which Raquel played an excellent street theater role as an uninsured pregnant woman giving birth in the parking lot because she couldn’t access services. We won both struggles.
Mr. Mac, Raquel and I were particularly close. We all had particular bonds: Mac and Raquel as people of color, Raquel and I as women and Mr. Mac and I as gay people. Every year when LAGAI or QUIT were doing some outrageous thing at the pride parade, there would be Mac and Raquel bouncing up and down, waving, shouting, supporting me and cheering me on. One year when we were doing some “It’s a movement not a market” thing, he marched with us. Mr. Mac was fond of saying with a broad twinkle in his eye ‘ Now don’t I have pretty legs?”. At x-mas you could always catch him dressed to the nines in red tights and Santa hat, selling his elaborate fanciful plastic flower arrangements (a side line of his that earned him the name Bill the Flower Man) at 14th Avenue and International Boulevard.
In about 2002 he became very ill, spending months in Kaiser having his vascular system rerouted, surviving against all odds. I visited him nearly every day and had the wonderful chance to hear stories of his life. When he recovered enough, he went back to live in Wilmington NC with his sister, Karen. Eventually he was able to move into his own place. I was able to visit him several times in Wilmington. His family welcomed me and I learned of his life there. True to form, he was always making things happen. One time I visited, he had created a whole community event which involved an elaborate talent show with a local radio station. Mac was the MC in a beautiful red suit.. Of course we went out into the neighborhoods with leaflets to get people to come. Mr Mac always believed that if he handed out 500 leaflets, that meant 500 people would come to the event. Another time he was campaigning for a local progressive politician and don’t you know he dragged me along with him making me knock on doors, even though I didn’t know the first thing about Wilmington politics.
He lived in a housing complex with small one story apartments with front porches and a strong community feel. One table in his apartment was always a riot of the art supplies he used to make his flower arrangements The community, which was called Hillcrest, elected him president of their board. And until the day he died he was busy creating more community building events. He had various concerts scheduled and events for the kids. On the telephone he was always excited about the ways he was going to pull this community together.
I talked to his sister Karen last week and she reminded me of some of the other wonderful things he had done and was doing in Wilmington. Every year he worked on the Martin Luther King Day parade. He wanted more and better floats and he was pleased because this last year many people turned out and there were more floats than ever. McDuffie loved pomp and theater.
Karen remembered the fun they had when she and Mac created the Heavy Duty Beauty Show, a traveling fashion show for large women. Karen also liked the time Mac made a “Fallback to the Sixties” party and also the “ Legs of the 80's Fashion Show” ( short skirts show).
McDuffie was an extraordinary civil rights and health care activist. Everything he did was with flair and creativity. His smile alone brought al those he knew along with him. He was unfailingly loyal to the many communities he was part of. He believed with every fiber of his being in the combined strength of people making things better and winning struggles. He was a revolutionary and a community builder.
I loved him with all my heart and will miss him always
HEALTH CARE IS A HUMAN RIGHT!
Two issues ago we reported on the strife between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the California Nurses Association (CNA), which resulted in union decertifications, and disruptions of organizing campaigns for both groups. Last issue, we reported on the SEIU take over of the California-based United Healthcare West, leading to the resignation of president sal roselli and the firing of many UHW shop stewards and staff. roselli and others announced the formation of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, which has filed petitions to decertify the SEIU and certify NUHW at 360 facilities, including Kaiser, Sutter, and Catholic Healthcare West.
So you probably thought that somehow CNA and NUHW would end up working together. After all, hadn’t Roseanne DeMoro, president of the CNA/NNOC decried the SEIU takeover of the UHW, saying “we see SEIU as a management surveillance team. They will do anything. There is no bar that is too low for them to go to get dues.” De Moro also called the SEIU “the new poster child for bad union behavior,” comparing them unfavorably to the teamsters of the 1960s.
Furthermore, in March 2007, the CNA joined the AFL-CIO on the promise that the coalition of unions would work for single payer health care. (For the past decade at least, the CNA has been the largest and most consistent voice for a single payer system.)
The CNA had left the American Nurses Association (ANA) in 1995 charging that the ANA was not supportive of collective bargaining, and generally was not representing nurses against management. In 1999, seeking to stem the loss of other state organizations, the ANA established the UAN, including a California chapter that never really was a threat to the CNA. In 2001, the Massachusetts Nurses Association also left the ANA. The UAN affiliated with the AFL-CIO in 2001, and gained additional autonomy through an affiliation agreement they signed in 2003 with the ANA. In late 2007, the UAN and the ANA announced that they were going to end their affiliation. At the same time, four state nurses associations, including the New York State Nurses Association, which has contracts representing about 25,000 RNs, announced that they were leaving the UAN, in part because the UAN leaders were engaged in negotiations with the SEIU. These state organizations were declared unions-non-grata by AFL-CIO president John Sweeney.
In February 2009, the CNA and its national organizing group the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) announced that it had joined with United American Nurses and the Massachusetts Nurses Association to form a new national union, within the AFL-CIO, called, you guessed it, the United American Nurses-National Nurses Organizing Committee, UAN-NNOC (AFL-CIO). The groups will represent about000 RN’s nationwide.
Of course, the SEIU had left the AFL-CIO in 2005 to form the “Change to Win” Coalition. So it was a bit of a surprise when the March 19 issue of the New York Times informed us that the SEIU and the CNA had made an agreement to unionize hospital workers and push for “universal health coverage,” which is a significant backward step away from single payer health care. The two groups plan to coordinate organizing efforts at major national hospital chains, with the CNA/NNOC organizing the RNs, and the SEIU organizing everyone else. Except in Florida, where the SEIU and CNA will create a joint union of RNs. Said Roseanne DeMoro, “we have a moment to seize...We have to show hospitals that health care reform is the right thing to do.” So apparently the “hatchet” she announced she had buried, can actually be found in the back of the single-payer movement.
And in case you weren’t confused enough already, at the
same time that the UAN/NNOC merger was announced, eight state nurses
associations, including the four that had already left the UAN announced that they were forming a new national union for RNs
called the National Federation of Nurses (all the permutations of United,
American, Association, and Nurses having already been taken).
The membership of those unions learned of the formation of the NFN
through the press releases, and rank and file activists complain that the
leadership of the NFN will not even face election for three years. By the way,
the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees United Nurses of
America, also a member of the AFL-CIO, represents about 40,000 nurses.
The National Labor Relations Board, which has a new
chairperson appointed by Obama, as well as one Bush appointee and three vacant
seats, dismissed petitions to allow elections at Kaiser and Catholic Healthcare
West facilities. Decertification petitions can only be filed during a window
period that is based around the end of a contract. Although no new formal
contract had been signed at the Kaiser facilities, the Board’s hearing officer
found that there was a tentative agreement in place at the time of the filing,
and that made the petition “untimely.” The SEIU hailed this as a victory for
the workers, saying, “The government's decision just validates that we have a
strong, secure union at Kaiser with SEIU.”
Members of SEIU local 1021, which represents workers at the
Alameda County Medical Center, have filed a decertification petition with the
California Public Employees Relations Board (PERB). These members complain of a
lack of representation and other services by SEIU staff. You can read more about
this at www.dailydirt.blogspot.com.
Meanwhile, the merger between UNITE, which represents garment workers, and Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) is crumbling. In 2004 UNITE and HERE merged, and the combined union joined the SEIU in the Change to Win Coalition. In January, Unite president Bruce Raynor sued his fellow union officers in u.s. district court in new york. Also in January, SEIU president Andy Stern wrote to the presidents of UNITE and HERE, suggesting that either UNITE HERE or either of its halves merge into the SEIU. He has publicly sided with Raynor.
Also in March, the AFL-CIO and the SEIU announced that they had formed a “Gaming Workers Council”, to organize employees in Nevada casinos. Many gaming workers are currently represented by UNITE HERE, which was not included in the forming of the new council. UNITE HERE’s Culinary Union represents approximately 60,000 workers in Las Vegas. Other existing recognized unions in the industry, the Teamsters and the Operating Engineers were also not included in the forming of the council. The immediate goal of the new council, which includes the United Auto Workers and the Transport Workers Union, is to win contracts at Caesars Palace and Wynn Las Vegas, as well as at Caesars, Bally’s Trump Plaza and the Tropicana in Atlantic City.
These hard economic times, and the efforts of business and their government to further diminish workers’ wages, working conditions, pensions, health care and other benefits, have made a lot of people interested in joining unions. The employee free choice act would permit unions to represent people based on a card check (rather than waiting for an NLRB run election). At this moment, it is a few Senate votes from passage. But unless workers actually get a say in our/their unions, all EFCA will be is another way for workers to be disempowered by both their bosses and their unions. The games played by Stern, DeMoro, Sweeney, Roselli and others become easy propaganda for anti-union media attacks. Workers are not just a source of income for union treasuries, we are the unions. And we must find ways to take them back.
Like a lot of leftists, I was pretty unmotivated about the campaign to defeat Prop. 8. When it passed, I was surprised how pissed off I was. What I recognized was that while we in LAGAI have a longstanding critique of the institution of marriage and are annoyed that our fellow queers aren’t holding out for something better, we know that the people who voted against it weren’t rejecting heteropatriarchy. So I joined my fellow queers in the streets in the weeks following the election, only to be horrified by the racism, self-absorption and general cluelessness of many of them.
Enter One Struggle One Fight, a direct action group whose mission statement says, “We believe that our struggle for LGBT equality and civil rights is part of a larger struggle for peace and for social justice. That's why we've reached out to other movements - Labor, Anti-War, Racial Justice, Youth Empowerment, Violence Prevention, and Anti-Poverty, to name a few. This is a Movement of Movements, because we have incredible power when we stand up for and with each other.” I ran into OSOF founders Kip Williams and Flik Huang at a meeting of And Marriage For All, a spin-off of And Castro 4 All (which organized the Badlands protests a few years ago). I was there to try to figure out some way of being involved in the upsurge of queer activism that didn’t make me physically ill. Flik and Kip were there to talk about the march to Sacramento that OSOF had decided to do at the end of March. The purpose of the march was to connect the struggle for same-sex marriage to other communities struggling for social justice, share stories and build alliances.
I was captivated by the audacity of a march from San Francisco to Sacramento, and intrigued by the energy that they seemed to have, so I decided to check out a meeting. Honestly, I didn’t intend to do much work on the march, thought maybe I could figure out some small way of supporting them. But the meeting was organized in a very smart way, from a hooking-people-in perspective: after a ten minute introduction, we broke into working groups. So I was either going to leave after ten minutes, or go to a working group. I looked around and decided that “media,” which really ended up meaning every kind of publicity from fliers to press to buttons, was the best place for my skills.
On February 28, I was fairly pessimistic about the possibility of pulling off the march. They didn’t have places to stay in any of the towns where they were planning to spend the night, were still trying to figure out fiscal sponsorship so they could start soliciting donations on the web, had nearly no money and no idea how they were going to feed and transport 40 people for five days. I’m still a little amazed that we pulled it off, but it basically comes down to, if you have a wild idea and a determined bunch of people, you can do nearly anything.
On March 25, after a very well-attended kickoff press conference in San Francisco the day before, the march set out from Berkeley. Deeg, Tory and I only made it about half-way through the Berkeley campus, but for that short while, it was a beautiful thing to be part of. There was a diverse group of supporters assembled to see us off, including someone from the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, a young woman from Children of Lesbians And Gays Everywhere (COLAGE) and a member of the Berkeley City Council. People spoke about racial and economic justice as well as marriage. Some students from Berkeley High GSA ditched school to march for the day, and we heard one of their parents cautioning them, “Don’t go to Sacramento because I can’t pick you up there.”
On Saturday I joined up with the marchers in the tiny Delta town of Isleton, and walked with them ten miles to Locke. Locke was the first Chinese American town, founded in 1915. The first Chinese workers came to central California to build the levees, but by the time Locke was founded, most were farm laborers. At its height, Locke had 1500 people; now its entire population is about 90, of whom only ten are Chinese. They have a strong historical society, though, which they kept open late so we could get a tour from Connie King, the oldest remaining Chinese resident. One young marcher, Christina Liang, said that it meant a lot to her to hear this history because she didn’t know that the Chinese in California had been farm workers.
Three high school students went on the entire march, including one who came up from Los Angeles for the week. The day that I was there, there were a number of other people who had also come for the day, including a gay man whose son and granddaughter had come to support him. One woman had joined on Friday night, after seeing it Thursday on the news in Menlo Park. From the fancy inn in Ryde, California (population 75) to the ice cream shop on the edge of Locke, everyone we met said, “Oh, you’re the people who are marching to Sacramento.” The spirit of camaraderie both among the marchers and with people in the towns we passed through was inspiring. Even the motorcyclists who had fortuitously descended on Locke that day as well gave friendly honks and waves as they left us in their dust.
The group did not just march through towns. Organizers decided to cut off a bunch of the route which led through barely populated swamp so they could spent Friday doing community service in the working-class community of Isleton. One marcher described that day as the high point. They planted trees along the road, he said, but it wasn’t even the work which was meaningful as much as the opportunity to talk to people. In such a small town, he said, “by the time we had been there an hour, everyone in town had come out to meet us.” He wants to organize groups of queers to go to communities around the state on Saturdays for days of work and sharing.
You can read some of the stories and see some inspiring video testimonies from the march at www.onestruggleonefight.com. You can also get info there about the day of direct action OSOF is organizing in the event the state supreme court upholds Prop. 8.
The beginning of this year saw the installation of an elected government in Bangladesh after two years of military control. Under the shadows of new democracy another event took place, one which was somewhat historical in its significance but which was not reported in any news media. A couple of months ago Bangladesh had its first ever workshop organized solely on the issues of the LGBT community. Under the banner of “Workshop on sexual diversity and coalition building” about 30 activists held a two-day workshop to brainstorm on strategies to organize for LGBT rights.
The participants included gay men, lesbians, hijras (a socially and culturally separate community which includes trans folks, gay men, intersexed people and others who are sexually discriminated from the mainstream) and those who identify as MSM (men who have sex with men). The workshop focused on issues ranging from strategies to challenge national anti-homosexual laws, to same-sex relationship issues, to building coalitions among the separate LGBT communities. Follow up meetings have since been held to continue the momentum from the workshop
Interestingly, the entire weekend workshop, held at a coastal resort in Bangladesh, was funded by a Norwegian gay group, which in turn received funds from the Norwegian government. In fact, the First Secretary of the Norwegian embassy gave the keynote speech at the workshop where he re-asserted their government’s official position of providing support for LGBT people worldwide as part of their human rights campaign. Obama, take note!
My foray into the Bangladesh gay subculture has been more intense since I started living there more than 5 years ago. Like most Muslim countries our stress on brotherly love extends boundaries that western societies would be uncomfortable with but that would be the envy of most gay men. We don’t believe in boundaries when it comes to “bonding” with the same gender. Particularly well-known for such intimate relationships are the religious schools, or madrasahs. While many worry that these schools are breeding grounds for Islamic fundamentalists, there is less worry that non-breeders are exploring their homosexual fantasies there with very little concern. After all it’s much safer than consorting with the opposite sex.
In the urban areas, those who are deprived from the madrasah culture are now meeting each other through the internet. The community is growing and even organizing dinner and dance parties at public locations. These are predominantly male gatherings, demographically confined to the young middle class and well-to-do married men. While young gay men in Bangladesh have a relatively much easier time exploring their sexuality with men of similar age the situation changes dramatically when they reach marriageable age. I have seen ardent activist friends of mine, who have been out to their families, finally succumb to some need to join the mainstream and marry an unsuspecting woman. It seems that everybody is conspiring to live a lie because of a greater need of manage a semblance of a heterosexual family. Some collateral damage, particularly the wife in question, is brushed off as simple necessities.
I have been living with my boyfriend and my elderly parents under the same roof, with relatives and family friends fully aware of my sexual orientation. No, this is not the homosexual haven we can dream of; it is simply that the social and cultural conscriptions are different. Their belief that I went back to take care of my parents has elevated me to the status of a gentleman. Filial piety trumped over sexual mores and my relatives have long decided to turn a blind eye to my sexual predilection. The game is the same both in the East and the West, the scoring system is different. Some social values have higher points such as the notion that a husband is supposed to provide for the family; as long as he does that, sleeping with younger boys is a sin that can be ignored. Fulfillment of social obligation overrules personal travesties.
… to be continued.
On March 2, activists from the Bay Area and New York demonstrated at the offices of Manhattan district attorney, robert morgenthau, demanding that they stop further persecution of Renata Hill and Patreese Johnson. Despite the worst snow storm in five years, about 30 activists picketed outside the building. An almost equal number of NYC cops appeared shortly after the chant, “racist, sexist anti-gay, Morgenthau go away,” and cited some obscure law requiring that the demonstration, which had a permit, move across the street. Where, by the way, the snow was still falling, and it was not any warmer or less windy.
The d.a.’s LGBT liason refused to meet with representatives of the group.
The NJ4 case arose out of a confrontation in August 2006, in which Dwayne Buckle accosted a group of young Black lesbians from Newark New Jersey in New York City’s west village. They fought back, and seven women were initially arrested. Three accepted plea deals and probation. Renata Hill, Patreese Johnson, Terrain Dandridge, and Venice Brown were tried and convicted in 2007 amidst a racist, anti-lesbian media campaign in which they were labeled a “lesbian wolf-pack.” Their sentences were considered extraordinarily harsh, ranging from 3 to 11 years.
In 2008, Terrain’s convictions were all overturned and dismissed. The serious convictions of Venice and Renata were overturned. Patreese’s convictions were not overturned, but her sentence was somewhat reduced, to a total of 8 years. In February, Venice took a plea deal that exchanged a guilty plea for time served. Renata was not offered a deal for time served, and at the end of March ended up pleading guilty in exchange for an additional 10 months to be served in state prison.
Buckle has also filed a multi-million dollar civil suit. This suit may result in a monetary judgement against them that can follow them for many years, such as by taking money out of any wages they may earn.
Bay NJ 4 solidarity, the local organizing group, has been calling attention to the relationship of this case to the rape of “Richmond Jane Doe” at the end of 2008, and the Oscar Grant police shooting. We have committed to providing commissary money to Patreese and Renata while they are in prison, and will try to continue to raise money to support their eventual transition, and to defend the civil suit. We are also trying to figure out what else we can do. Please contact email@example.com if you want to help. Your can find more information at: http://freenj4.wordpress.com/
People, I’m writing you all on behalf of all the Gay/Transgender prisoners in california who go through the same treatment that goes on, nation wide! We may be mistreated or harassed and discriminated, but there’s one thing they can’t take away from us and that’s who we are and we have each other! Lesbians, Dykes, Gays, Transgenders, it’s all the same thing, we stand for the same thing, “we are the same, no matter what!” We can share and talk to one another about what’s going on, where you’re housed at and where we are at! All news is good news when we benefit on what the new is about. Write me at: James Mereen #J-95269, C-SAT-F S/P, D4-201L, PO Box 5242, Corcoran CA 93212
Bearing in mind that no government anywhere is proqueer and most governments everywhere are antiqueer, sometimes news isn’t all bad.
From the time countries in South and Central America freed themselves of direct European colonial control, the u.s. treated the region as its own sphere of influence. This situation was accepted, by and large, by other imperial, European powers. In exchange they got most of Asia, Africa, and Australia. A conference in Berlin sliced up Africa, with king Leopold of Belgium getting the Congo. Russia and England divided Iran through the middle. This was not a good thing. Oppressive regimes were installed and supported serving the interests of u.s. capital.
Now, despite the u.s. spending more on its military than the rest of the world combined, times are changing. The empire, it seems, is striking back. Regional organizations are forming to counter imperial efforts and control. Colonized countries are talking to each other via channels that don’t travel through Washington, d.c, or London, or paris.
ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America), now seven years old, is a, growing grouping of South and Central American and Caribbean states to, in part, counter NAFTA. Iran has been invited to participate as an observer member. [bet you didn’t know Iran was in Latin America.—kate]
Elections throughout the hemisphere, most recently El Salvador, have brought in governments that are not clients of the u.s. The u.s. dominated Organization of American States (OAS) is increasingly irrelevant.
A bankrupt u.s. government is being challenged throughout the world, and it might be losing. The ALBA countries are forming a monetary region, S.U.C.R.E (Unified Regional Compensation System). Raul Castro, president of Cuba, says, “Our countries do not have the capacity on their own to transform the international world order, but we do have the power to lay down new bases and construct our own economic relations.” Sucres would bypass the u.s. dollar as a basis for trade between ALBA countries.
This is at a time when the rest of the world is realizing that the trillions of dollars held in reserve by its central banks are guaranteed by a u.s. economy that has been in decline for twenty years and more. Venezuela and Iran have formed a bank outside of the u.s. dominated IMF. Foreign policies are being formulated that are not dictated by the u.s. ALBA supports a Palestinian state.
The bipolar world of the cold war ended with the rise of a single superpower. This super power is now being confronted by a multipolar world.
By Chaya and Deni with waggles from Sparky
Waltz With Bashir (review by Deni and Chaya)
This animated film by Israeli Ari Folman, about Israel’s war against Lebanon in 1982, is beautifully made but infuriating. It passes itself off as anti-war without actually taking responsibility for the war atrocities and crimes Israel committed. It did not go into the politics of why Israel invaded Lebanon. We felt this was a major problem with the film. In its focus on the angst of an individual soldier, the film is more of a psychological study than the damning critique of Israeli actions that it should have been.
On January 11, 2009 while most of the world watched in horror and protested Israeli carnage in Gaza, filmmaker Ari Folman received the Golden Globe Best Foreign Film award for Waltz With Bashir but did not mention the situation in Gaza. In fact, in his acceptance speech, Folman said that “he hoped that when the children [born to production crew members while the movie was made] grew up they would view the film as an ancient video game that has nothing to do with their life whatsoever.” Once again, this was said as Israel’s bombardment and siege of Gaza was in full operation. Folman thus sidestepped any direct response to the current atrocity. So what’s the message here: wait 20 years and deal with your internal guilt but don’t act in the present?
If you must see this movie, first read the stunningly insightful review by Gideon Levy of Haaretz: “…the film is infuriating, disturbing, outrageous and deceptive. It deserves an Oscar for the illustrations and animation - but a badge of shame for its message.” http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1065552.html
During times like these, while the atrocities continue, creating a visually stunning and cinematically cutting edge movie is simply way too little to merit praise.
The main animator for Waltz With Bashir took a better path than Folman by creating an excellent short video called “Closed Zone” to illustrate the Israeli siege against Gaza. Watch it at http://jvoices.com/2009/03/05/waltz-with-bashir-animator-takes-on-the-siege-of-gaza/ This website also has a powerful January 9 statement by a former Israeli air force captain naming Israel’s actions in Gaza as war crimes.
Two Lovers (review
by Chaya and Deni)
We knew this movie was a hetero love story, but it starred Joaquin Phoenix (a very good actor), got many good reviews and there wasn’t much else of interest to see. But our merry little band of queers was quite disappointed. It was trite, predictable and unrealistic. Gwyneth Paltrow was annoying, and the ending was awfully improbable. Fortunately, it was nice to see New York City. We suggest getting a postcard or looking at NYC pictures online and saving yourself a lot of aggravation.
Nombre (review by Deni)
I feel I should start by saying that this movie got many very excellent reviews (does that set you up for my “but I…?”). Parts of this movie by Cary Joji Fukunaga about gang violence in El Salvador and the journey of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. were affecting, and the movie was cinematically striking in its graphic portrayal of poverty and violence and in its beautiful shots of countryside and people. However, I was ultimately left wondering what exactly the movie’s point was. Just showing the brutality of gangs and their devastating impact on people’s lives was not enough; some deeper analysis was needed to develop a more critical understanding of the reasons and roots of the situation. Without that, the violence and brutality begin to feel like they are their own point. The difficulties faced by the Mexican immigrants were shown to be tense and terrifying, but again this lacked enough of a political context to add anything new to the immigration story.
Another problem with the film was its portrayal of women. The first girlfriend somehow seemed clueless about the dangers faced in her gangster boyfriend’s world. The second young woman appeared willing to sacrifice her and her family’s struggle to reach the US when her unrealistic emotions caused her to make choices that were at best annoying and immature, and at worst, somewhat ridiculous. I wouldn’t say don’t see this film; I think it’s trying to do something worthwhile but is too limited in scope and vision to be very meaningful or memorable.
BITS AND PIECES
Big Brother Is Definitely Watching: Since the evil empires of the internet (search engines like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, AOL) are stockpiling data about your online searches, why not give them something memorable or perplexing to put in your personal profile. For example, we are going to start googling cat sites and sports statistics. Maybe all the googling we do of the Vatican website is giving the Catholic Church hope (perhaps this is what their expanded demographics are based on? lesbian atheist Jews?). See how eclectic you can make your own searches – we’re offering a prize of an on-line subscription to Fox News for best list.
Now Playing On YouTube: In March, a Seattle judge ordered a video be released to the media that showed the beating of a 15-year-old girl by a deputy sheriff while in custody near Seattle. The assault, which happened last November, was captured on the jail’s video surveillance system and released despite objections by the deputy sheriff’s attorney. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, deputy sheriff Paul Schene has a history of previous incidents including killing a mentally ill man. The King County prosecutor charged Schene with using excessive force. “We believe this case is beyond just police misconduct, it’s criminal misconduct,” the prosecutor said. If things get too rough for Deputy Schene in Seattle he can always get a job as a BART cop.
What Makes Less Noise Than A Shrimp? According to French Defense Minister Hervé Morin, hi-tech nuclear submarines “make less noise than a shrimp." So when two nuclear subs collide, is it as noisy as two shrimps? To find out, you might want to contact Morin or the British Ministry of Defence, since it was their two subs that collided deep in the North Atlantic recently. The movements of nuclear ballistic submarines are designed to be undetectable so they can launch a surprise nuclear attack in the event of war, and subs like to turn the sonar off so they can “hide on patrol.” Is there going to be an inquiry into the cause of the crash? You betcha. "Just saying it was pure bad luck is not good enough," said a NATO official. Well, hey, why not?!! We’ll be using that excuse ourselves in the future.
On the Vatican Beat: Can you do the limbo? Turns out the Catholic Church did not have any formal doctrine on babies who die without being baptized. Everyone knows children are born with original sin which disqualifies them from heaven. Damn! Call me (Chaya) a silly pagan, but who knew that “limbo,” the state these little sinners reside in, is actually an eternal state of perfect natural happiness? That doesn’t sound so bad! But apparently they can’t be in touch with god. Damn again! Now comes the Popester to the rescue. He has taken the bold move of revising traditional Catholic teaching by approving the findings of the International Theological Commission (a front group for the Catholic Church) that says there is reason to hope that babies who die without baptism can go to heaven. Hey Pope, can’t you do more than just hope?
Those Nasty Rumors Keep Surfacing: Using AARP magazine as her forum, Dolly Parton recently said no no no it ain’t me babe, I’m just REAL close friends with long-time BFF Judy Ogle but “we've never been like that." Although long-time husband Carl Dean and Dolly are never seen together in public, our Tennessee Mocha Column stringer thinks he saw Dean in the local gay bar. Dean was unavailable for comment.
Employee Free Choice Act Mini Quiz: What three national retailers recently formed an unholy alliance to oppose EFCA? If you said Whole Foods, Starbucks and Costco, you’re right! Now that Whole Foods has firmly insinuated itself in our midst, this is a good time to review its history. Let’s see, anti-union, anti-farmworker, pro-corporate farming while pretending to be pro-small farmer, squasher of competitors, etc. etc. The trio’s “Committee for a Level Playing Field for Union Elections” (a dead giveaway, no?) doesn’t like EFCA’s card-check and mandatory arbitration provisions, and came up with lesser alternatives. Representative George Miller (D-California) called the proposal “unacceptable” and noted that it was “written by CEOs, for CEOs.”
Obama Report Card: Getting out of Iraq: fail. Escalating in Afghanistan: fail. Using military contractors: fail. Appointing the foxes to fix the domestic economy henhouse: fail (no disrespect to foxes intended). Putting the banks and financial institutions on a short leash: fail. Palestine-Israel: fail. Single payer or national health system: fail. Supporting meaningful education reform (not merit pay and charter schools, Arne!): fail. Prosecuting Bush Administration CIA torturers: fail. Mixed-breed puppy from a shelter for the White House: fail. There may be a few passing marks, but overall we’re not thrilled (not that we expected to be…).
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On April 6, the u.s. supreme kourt announced that it had rejected death-row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal’s appeal for a new trial. Abu-Jamal’s appeal was based primarily on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1986 Batson v. Kentucky ruling which stated that a defendant deserves a new trial if it can be shown that the prosecutor used peremptory strikes to remove otherwise qualified jurors simply because of their race. At Mumia’s 1982 trial, prosecutor Joseph McGill used at least 10 of his 15 strikes to remove otherwise acceptable Black jurors.
The U.S. Supreme Court has not yet decided whether it will further consider the Philadelphia DA’s appeal of the 2001 and 2008 rulings of two lower courts, which held that Abu-Jamal deserves a new sentencing hearing if the death penalty is to be re-instated. Therefore, if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of the DA, Abu-Jamal can then be executed WITHOUT a new sentencing hearing!
Mumia’s lead counsel, Robert Bryan, is filing a request for rehearing by the supreme kourt, but such appeals are very rarely granted.
People are urged to contact the White House to protest this unjust ruling. Call (202) 456-1111 or visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT/.
For more information see www.prisonradio.org.
Anarcha-Queers! Trannies! Fairies! Perverts! Sex-Workers! Sex-Radicals! Allies!
Bash Back! is ecstatic to announce a national radical queer convergence to take place in Chicago, May 28th through May 31st of 2009!
We’re pleased to invite all radical queers to join us for a weekend of debauchery and mischief. The last weekend of May will prove to be four solid days of workshops, discussions, performances, games, dancing and street action!
We’ll handle the food and the housing. Ya’ll bring the orgy, riot, and decadence!
We’re looking for folks to facilitate discussions, put on workshops, organize caucuses, share games, tell stories, get heavy in some theory, or bottom-line a dance party. We are also looking for copious amounts of glitter, safer sex products, zines, home-made sex toys, balaclavas, pink and black flags, sequins, bondage gear, rad porn, flowers, strap-ons, and assorted dumpstered goodies. You down?
To RSVP, volunteer for a workshop, get more information, or send us dirty pictures: firstname.lastname@example.org and check out - BashBackNews.WordPress.Com
The campaign for boycott of israel in the queer film world is growing by leaps and bounds. Two prominent international filmmakers have declined offers to participate in this year's Tel Aviv International LGBT film festival.
John Greyson, a prominent Canadian filmmaker and a member of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, wrote to festival organizers,
“My decision isn’t in opposition to your festival, which has done much to promote the voices of global queers, or to you, who have done much to get queer films made and shown in your city. Instead, I feel I must join the many Jews and non-Jews, Israelis and Palestinians, queers and otherwise, who are part of the growing global BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israeli apartheid. I’ve come to the conclusion that, in this moment, to not take this stand is unthinkable, impossible…. The Israeli apartheid forum this week, and particularly Naomi Klein’s speech, helped clarify my thoughts. Her words took me back to the BDS movement of the eighties, against South African apartheid, and the first 16mm film I ever made, which was in support of that struggle, clips of which are included in Fig Trees. The cultural boycott worked in South Africa’s case, and lead directly to the sweeping changes and activism that Fig Trees celebrates in song. Therefore, in the spirit of the film, and those activists, I don’t feel there’s a choice any longer.”
San Francisco-based Egyptian director Maher Sabry, whose groundbreaking “All My Life” premiered at the LGBT film festival last year, also decided not to screen his movie at TLVFest. His letter to festival directors read in part, “It would be hypocrisy of me to call for boycotting the Egyptian government for mistreating gay men and not to call for boycotting Israel for the mass punishment of innocent Palestinian civilians for assault by few militants.…One day, I dream to screen Toul Omry in the Holy lands, when it becomes a place of peace. When Jews, Christians, Moslems, and others can live as equal with same rights. When there are no refugee camps, no religious or ethnic discrimination, no land-confiscation, tree-burning or house-demolition, no bloodshed and mass punishment, no injustice, no militants and no military aggression.”
The Bay Area group QUIT! and other queer activists launched a letter-writing campaign to encourage Shamim Sarif, director of the new film, “I Can’t Think Straight,” to pull her movie out of the Tel Aviv Festival. Sarif’s parents are Indian South Africans. She responded very cordially to everyone who wrote, but as of now, the Facebook page for the film says that they are still planning to screen it in Tel Aviv. People are urged to add their voices asking her to withdraw her film from the festival. For address and sample letters, see http://www.quitpalestine.org/actions/shamim sarif letters.htm.
Last year for the first time in a number of years, the israeli consulate was not a sponsor or copresenter at the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival. While the official reason for this decision was unrelated to the boycott, we believe that the campaign of pressure, and specifically the post cards and letters collected by QUIT and sent to the directors of Frameline, which presents the festival, were instrumental in getting the Israeli government out of the largest queer cultural event in the world. This year, once again, the consulate will not be a copresenter or sponsor, although they remain listed on the website as a “partner” because of their historical relationship with Frameline.
Please write, call or email Executive Director KC Price and Festival Director Jennifer Morris and let them know you want them to discontinue any official relationship with the Israeli government. Frameline, 145 Ninth Street, #300, San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-703-8650, email email@example.com.
Tristan Anderson, a Bay Area anti-war and anarchist activist, was critically wounded after a demonstration against the Apartheid Wall in the Palestinian village of Ni’ilin on March 13. Tristan was shot in the head with an extended range tear gas canister, which is fired with great force. He has undergone four surgeries on his brain and lost part of his right frontal lobe. He remains in a hospital in tel aviv, surrounded by his family and girlfriend as well as friends from the israeli group Anarchists Against the Wall. After over a month during which he often seemed on the brink of death, he now seems likely to recover, but the extent of his impairment remains to be seen.
There were demonstrations all over the world in solidarity with Tristan, appropriate for someone who has participated in activism all over the world. Tristan has spent time in Oaxaca, Iraq and El Salvador, was at the G8 protests in Genoa and was arrested during the tree sit in Berkeley last year. After being slow to make a statement, congresswoman Barbara Lee (“speaks for me”) spoke about Tristan on the floor of the House and asked the state department for a public report on the incident. This response was accomplished by an intense campaign of pressure by friends of Tristan and Bay Area Palestine activists.
In San Francisco, the Monday after Tristan was shot, several hundred people gathered at the israeli consulate and marched to Powell & Market Streets. After the main march broke up, a group of 75 or so marched back to the consulate. While the police were very laid back during the “official” march, they attacked the breakaway march ferociously, beating a number of people and arresting eight. The eight are still facing charges.
Because of the international attention to this incident, the army briefly discontinued its use of the High Velocity Tear Gas. According to Anarchists Against the Wall, this is “a controversial new weapon which has come into use by Israeli armed forces in the West Bank only since the Gaza invasion.”
Last week, however, with press interest in Tristan dying down, the army began using the high velocity tear gas again, with devastating results. At the weekly demonstration in Ni'ilin on April 12, two more demonstrators were seriously injured after High Velocity Tear Gas canisters were fired directly at their bodies from close range. One man was hit in the back and another in the jaw. Additionally, another demonstrator in Ni'ilin was injured after being shot in the leg with a live bullet. Then on April 17, in the nearby village of Bi’ilin ‑ which has held nonviolent demonstrations against the Wall every week for four years! – a protester was killed when he was hit in the chest by these same tear gas canisters. While hundreds gathered in the streets of Ramallah to protest the killing of 31-year-old Basem Ibrahim abu-Rakhma, and Anarchists Against the Wall put out a call for international actions protesting both attacks, so far there has not been much international outcry over the killing of Basem. Basem is the 18th person killed by the israeli army during nonviolent resistance to the Apartheid Wall.
Tear gas is supposed to be a “non-lethal” crowd control weapon. Clearly anything responsible for killing one person and nearly killing another within the space of one month does not meet the criteria for “non-lethal.”
Donations are being collected for Tristan’s future medical care. To find out how to contribute, future solidarity actions and benefits, updates on the court cases and the campaign to ban the use of high velocity tear gas, see www.justicefortristan.org or www.norcalism.org.
by Tory with ghost writer Barbara Hoke
WOMEN'S CHOICE Clinic, the first legal abortion clinic and the longest continually functioning reproductive health care facility in Northern California, is closing. It is a sad day for all feminists.
In 1973, when abortion became legal, feminists created thoughtful protocols that assured the best medical practices and protected a woman's right to make an informed decision about her pregnancy in a safe and supportive environment.
These protocols are the models by which all clinics across the country are conducted today.
From the beginning, these community-based, free-standing clinics came under intense governmental scrutiny and right-wing attack. It is a societal failure that these essential services are not adequately funded and that Women's Choice Clinic has not survived.
I am grateful and humbled by the years of service and fearless leadership of Linci Comi and the hundreds of dedicated health workers who have worked for the women of Oakland and the entire East Bay for all these years.