UltraViolet February/March 2006

Badlands No Longer Bad?
Native Activists Walk For Justice
Dangerous Democracy: Hamas Goes Government
The MOCHA Column
With Pavulon, No One Can Hear You Scream
Medical Center in Critical Condition
Stupid Stupid Stupid: Study Makes No Scents
Ten Against Torture Wants You!
San Francisco Grand Jury Update

Peace Activists Waking Up!!!

Bush Defrosts COINTELPRO Agents!!!

SAN FRANCISCO--Peace Activists around the world are protesting the uses of Vietnam War era spies recently awakened from cryogenic suspended animation—code name: Rule of Thaw. This follows the news that the National Security Agency (NSA) is electronically spying on left wing political groups leaving left activists shaken not stirred.

President Bush initially denied the program saying, “when people think of intelligence, they don’t think of me.” Later he acknowledged “the best way to protect our freedom is to give up our civil liberties--and turn the Social Security Trust over to the Department of Defense.“ He then reminded the public that “THEY hate us for our freedom.”

The left has put out a call for diverse coalition to fight counter intelligence Free Our Rights In Cyberspace ASAP (FORMICA).

Madera Bizzimin, Code Name Pink, claimed to be “appalled that a long term member of our sorority was an agent for the FBI. We had no idea that the 6 foot 4 inch tall man in the pink three-piece suit was a fed, but it explains why he was always talking into his bunny ears.”

A splinter group calling itself MARBLE (Males Advancing Really Bossy Leadership Everyday) has retaliated against the government by melting its own men from the past. They are now popping up as ubiquitous spokesmen for almost every antiwar and left organization.

The Department of “Justice” claims that modern technologies such as cell phones, email and suspended animation are not covered by a 1978 law that requires government lawyers to go to a secret court for warrants to conduct domestic surveillance.

From the Panthers to the Zapatistas...
: The Resurgence of Funky Liberation within the Babylonian Imperial Brain.
hablando en / speaking in Oakland

*Thurs*, 9 Feb AK Press 7pm 674-A 23rd. St Oakland, CA. b/t MLK and San Pablo - near 19th St. BART and West Grand Exit of 80/980

For more info contact: AK Press at 510.208.1700, akpress@akpress.org or visit www.akpress.org $5-10 Sliding Scale donation

*Fri*, 10 Feb: Eastside Cultural Center 7:30pm 2587 International Blvd. Bus 82 http://www.eastsideartsalliance.com/ $5-10 Sliding Scale donation

This talk will focus on the impact of the Zapatista movement in Mexico on People of color self-determination movements above the so-called southern US border. Why does their small "r" indigenous revolution challenge us so deeply and give us reason to believe that our freedom dreams and sense of dignity are the guides to changing the world?

Check out Ashanti's website at http://anarchistpanther.net
sponsored by Chiapas Support Committee, http://www.chiapas-support.org/

Badlands No Longer Bad?

A few weeks before UV went to press, negotiators for the complainants against Badlands bar owner les natali announced that they had reached a settlement with natali. natali did not want the terms of the settlement to be publicized, and the complainants agreed to keep them secret, so no one outside the inner circle of the complainants, their lawyers and a few organizers gets to know what the campaign against natali’s racist and sexist practices accomplished.

Although unacknowledged by AC4A, LAGAI was one of the queer organizations that gave up many Saturday nights to walk a picket line. We’re glad that some resolution has been achieved. Despite the perception that queer community activists ended up as a bargaining chip, anti-racism as part of queer liberation continues to be fundamental to our work. It is heartening to know that queers are active in the struggle against racism, despite carrying around the baggage of straight people and organizations who glom onto our work, refusing to let queer people organize our own struggle.

The problem with winning

Activist and performer Tommi Avicolli-Mecca, one of the organizers of the weekly picket lines at Badlands, wrote the following editorial which was published in the Bay Guardian.

Sometimes winning is not all it's cracked up to be. Such is the case with the recent settlement in the almost two-year battle against alleged racial discrimination at the popular Castro nightspot Badlands.

For those who came in late: A year and a half ago, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission concluded that the bar discriminated against African Americans and others in carding policies and hiring practices. Pickets became regular occurrences outside the establishment last summer, as the queer antiracist group And Castro 4 All (AC4A), which I was part of, called for a boycott. Mayor Gavin Newsom eventually jumped into the fray, urging both sides to come to the table. He asked former mayor Willie Brown to act as mediator. That mediation eventually produced a settlement, the terms of which are confidential. AC4A attorney Julius Turman told the San Francisco Chronicle the agreement will produce "a campaign that expresses openness and awareness about different folks who live in and frequent the Castro."

As vocalist Peggy Lee used to sing, "Is that all there is?" Five months of weekly Saturday night picketing and all we got is a lousy PR campaign. Of course, we achieved much more. The organizing that happened after complainants came forward drew worldwide attention to a problem that has existed in the queer community since long before I came out.

The Badlands protests drew 75 to 100 demonstrators week after week. Those folks included civil rights leaders, local politicians, union members, tenants' rights advocates, and others. Nearly 30 of us testified before the Entertainment Commission in favor of a suspension of Les Natali's entertainment license. The commission ultimately took no action. It didn't matter. Nothing deterred our incredible energy and movement until Natali agreed to mediate and a decision was made to end the pickets. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

It was the same mistake queer-youth shelter advocates made a few years ago. In the dot-com boom of the late '90s, more and more queer youth were ending up on the streets because of soaring rents. A group of activists, myself included, fought for a homeless youth shelter in the Castro. A site was eventually secured. We knew it was merely a Band-Aid on the real problem, which was the lack of affordable housing, but we rejoiced at the fact that we had built a safety net for those among us who most desperately need it. When the shelter doors opened, all of us packed up and went away. The problem of homelessness and lack of affordable housing didn't.

Similarly, racism will not go away because Natali and complainants have signed a settlement. The fight must go on. But how? It seems to be a perennial problem with the left: We mobilize, score a victory of some sort, then go home, only to reinvent the wheel the next time around. Racism is too important an issue to drop the ball until the next Badlands. We need to reignite the struggle. The big question is, how do we do that now? The tone of the media coverage of the settlement is that everything is hunky-dory; the problem has been solved.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Dangerous Democracy: Hamas Goes Government

by Kate (who by the way knows nothing)

"I am so proud of my people," said my Arabic teacher, Adwan, on Thursday. "We really showed how democratic we are."

There's consensus on that. Regardless of how one feels about Hamas and its victory, observers agree that the January 25 election represented true democracy in action.

"[N]obody who visited the West Bank in recent weeks could doubt for a moment that here a real democracy is growing - the first homegrown Arab democracy.... The competition was real, the parties were real, politicians competed for power and influence. Every flat surface in towns and villages was plastered with colorful posters. And, most importantly, the voters were faced with a real choice between alternative and clear agendas - something that is not at all certain in the Israeli elections. It must be said clearly: These elections are a huge achievement for the Palestinian society, a badge of honor for a people suffering under occupation, whose independent state is still a dream." said Israeli activist and politician Uri Avneri.

"You couldn't be in Palestine and not be doing some sort of "election observing" during these past couple weeks, when all anyone has been talking about has been politics. I realize that I come from an American context where civic engagement is among the lowest in the world, so it excites me to be somewhere where even with such difficulty living under occupation, at least 75% of eligible voters voted," wrote my friend Hannah, who observed the elections in Gaza.

Though the media focused only on the rivalry between Fatah and Hamas, and indeed, that has become a huge story, 414 candidates competed for the 16 electoral districts and there were 11 electoral lists with 314 candidates competing nationwide. (66 representatives are elected as representatives of their districts, and another 66 are elected from the national list.) In the competition between national lists, Hamas candidates, running as the Change and Reform Party, won 30 seats, Fatah 27, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) 3, and three smaller left lists, including Mustafa Barghouti's al Mubadara (Independent Palestine) and Hanan Ashrawi's Third Way won 2 seats each (the official Elections Commission release listed "Mustafa Barghouti and the Independents," making it sound like a rock band). In the district elections, Change and Reform swept Hebron and North Gaza, and won 4 of 5 seats in Jerusalem and Ramallah and 5 of 6 in Nablus. Ramallah and Jenin were split evenly. Somewhat surprisingly to me, Rafah, in southern Gaza, was one of only two areas where Fatah won (Qalqilya, in the northwest West Bank, was the other).

Ultimately, Change and Reform won 74 seats and Fatah 45. The left won 13 seats giving them 10%, which, as Deeg points out, is about 9.8% more than the left has here. There were a number of left-wing lists that ran candidates but did not win any seats. Women were guaranteed 12 of the 66 national seats, or 20%. According to what I read, it does not sound like there was a quota governing the district seats.

The Elections Commission accredited over 1500 international observers, and 800 local observers.

The result did not come as a huge surprise to people who had been watching the situation, though as usual, people who made the mistake of believing opinion polls were stunned. The Boston Globe reported that "The Bir Zeit pollster, Nader Said, said Friday he was still 'in shock' over having missed by such a wide margin [having predicted Fatah pulling out a narrow victory], even though he polled 8,000 voters, an unusually large sample. The pollster said the new electoral system -- half the candidates were chosen in districts, the other half from party slates -- contributed to the confusion. 'We don't have enough experience (in democracy) to capture such a thing. It was the first real election of this kind,' he said."

Students at Bir Zeit and An Najah Universities could have predicted the outcome. A December 22, 2005 article reported, "Fatah, the backbone of the Palestinian Authority (PA), suffered a significant setback in recent student elections in universities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in what some observers say reflects plummeting support among ordinary Palestinians for the policies of the PA led by President Yasser Arafat. In Bir Zeit University, the most secular-oriented Palestinian school of higher education in the occupied territories and a traditional stronghold of Palestinian nationalism, Hamas supporters won 23 of the 51 contested seats making up the students' general assembly."

In the four phases of local elections held between December 2004 and December 2005, Hamas increased its influence each time. In the most recent election, Hamas won the elections in Tulkarem, a traditional People's Party (the former Communist Party) stronghold, and Qalqilya, historically the wealthiest and most conservative area. Adwan, who comes from Jayyous, Qalqilya, says that people were not voting for Hamas candidates because they support the party necessarily, but because Hamas chose candidates "who were good, honest and independent people."

Though even Hamas itself was surprised by its landslide victory, everyone knew that there was a strong feeling in the "Palestinian street" for change. "When people supported Abu Mazen in the presidential elections we hoped for improvements in our lives - reducing the checkpoints, improving the economic situation, or fighting corruption. We got none of what we hoped for," wrote Noah Salameh, directer of the Palestinian Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation in Bethlehem.

Meddling: How to get what you say you don't want

The last-minute carrot-and-stick interference of the US, composed of threats to cut off aid if Hamas were included in the government, along with a $2 million pork barrel stunt worthy of Tammany Hall, probably put Hamas over the top. "The Palestinian vote for Hamas is a message to Israel and the international community. It is a vote against external efforts to set the rules for Palestinian democracy, a signal of protest against the massive interference in the election process by western governments and the European Union, who repeatedly threatened to withhold economic aid and political support should Hamas join the Palestinian Authority," says a report by the left-wing coalition BADIL (the Alternative) in Electronic Intifada.

On January 13, wire services reported that, "aid to the Palestinian Authority would be reviewed and possibly reduced if it gave Hamas a role in government after this month’s Palestinian election, u.s. diplomatic sources said on Friday.” (http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060113/wl_nm/mideast_hamas_dc). Wait a minute, I said at that point. Who's talking about "giving" them a role in government? The P.A. was doing everything it could to try to prevent Hamas from gaining power. Friends who were there even speculated that the Authority was behind the rash of armed attacks and kidnappings in Gaza, hoping that things would get so bad it would give them an excuse to cancel the elections. "The United States wants the January 25 parliamentary election to take place as scheduled to strengthen Palestinian democracy and has reluctantly accepted Hamas's participation in the poll," the article continued. "But Washington is wary that Hamas, making its first bid for parliamentary seats, could make a strong enough showing against Abbas's dominant Fatah movement to win cabinet seats. u.s. diplomatic sources warned that such an outcome would prompt a review of u.s. financial aid to the Palestinians because of existing u.s. prohibitions on providing any "material support" to groups on Washington's terrorism list.”

In its other very late bid to ward off the Hamas challenge, the u.s. consulate hired two firms to orchestrate $1.9 million worth of social spending, including tree planting ceremonies, a youth soccer tournament, food giveaways and computers for youth centers. Left-wing candidates accused Fatah of violating Palestinian elections law, which prohibits any party from taking campaign funding from foreign governments. The consulate spokeswoman denied that the money was to benefit Fatah, insisting it was "to help the democratic parties." But some of the money, which came from USAID, was spent on full-page ads in Palestinian newspapers, giving the PA credit for the programs.

Of course, if the u.s. really wanted to help the P.A. hold onto power, they might have given the $2 million a bit earlier, and used it for things that could make an actual difference, like job creation or infrastructure. They might have pressured Israel to lighten up on its restriction on Palestinian freedom of movement, as they did before the first phase of local elections a year ago (where Hamas also did better than expected).

Instead, in the last year the u.s., its European allies, and its number-one client state, Israel, have done everything in their power to undermine the ability of the Palestinian Authority to accomplish anything that might make Palestinians slightly less miserable.

Recently the World Bank, backed by the European Commission, withheld $60 million in promised “aid” (the “” are because all World Bank aid is really debt, which ends up enriching the rich countries and destroying the poor ones) – half the allocation for the year – because the PA failed to institute structural adjustment programs that would increase unemployment and poverty. Specifically, the West is upset that the PA is spending too much on salaries – “almost its entire yearly revenue of some $1 billion.” “They have to cut salaries or cut staff,” said Nigel Roberts, the World Bank honcho in the OPT, in a January 8, 2006 interview with the New York Times. (http://www.jfjfp.org/123nyt.htm)

Yet Roberts admits that the fiscal crisis is not of the Palestinians’ making. “The checkpoints and the barrier cost the Palestinian economy about 5 percent real growth every year, Mr. Roberts said. That is a major toll, given that 10 percent real growth would be needed to solve the unemployment problem. In 1999, before this intifada and the Israeli response, the Palestinian Authority had a balanced budget and needed no outside support. Now, even though revenues have recovered to where they were in 1999, the deficit has ballooned.” The article cites a further Catch-22: The severe unemployment among youth, especially in Gaza, is causing more of them to be recruited into the militant groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but the strength of the militant groups is deterring the foreign investment which is cited as the only thing “that can offer enough jobs for the growing population of young men.”

In another shocking development, in August a Rhode Island judge ordered all the PA’s “U.S.-based assets” frozen because of its failure to pay a $116 million judgment won by the family of Yaron and Efrat Ungar in a lawsuit against the PA and PLO. The Ungars, dual US-Israeli citizens, were killed in a Hamas bombing in 1996. Originally there was a $116 million judgment issued against Hamas (good luck collecting that one), but then the Ungar heirs sued the PLO and PA, arguing that they “provided a safe haven” for the bombers, and won. (Interestingly, the Ungar case is one of the precedents which is being used by Palestinian survivors of Israeli terror attacks to sue two former heads of Israeli military intelligence, Avi Dichter and Moshe Yaalon. (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3185131,00.html))

I wondered how many u.s.-based assets the PA and/or the PLO actually have. Quite a lot, it turns out. According to the Boston Globe, “The frozen assets include US holdings in a $1.3 billion Palestinian investment fund meant to finance economic development as well as bank accounts used to pay Palestinian representatives in Washington, according to lawyers and court documents filed in Rhode Island, Washington, D.C., and New York. Also frozen are about $30 million in assets from the Palestinian Monetary Authority, the Palestinian equivalent of the US Federal Reserve.”

Either the people crafting the u.s. strategy vis-a-vis the Palestinians are the stupidest people on earth, or they wanted Hamas to win, so that Israel would have an excuse to withdraw from the so-called peace process, and proceed with its unilateral plan to crush the Palestinians once and for all.

"If Ariel Sharon had not been in a deep coma, he would have jumped out of his bed for joy. The Hamas victory fulfils his most ardent hopes," writes Avnery. "For a whole year now, he did everything possible to undermine Mahmoud Abbas. His logic was quite obvious: The Americans wanted him to negotiate with Abbas. Such negotiations would inevitably have lead to a situation that would have compelled him to give up almost all of the West Bank. Sharon had no intention of doing so. He wanted to annex about half of the territory. So he had to get rid of Abbas and his moderate image."

So what now?

Hamas may quickly come to regret its entry into the political process. "Palestinians say now that the vote is over, they expect Hamas to perform as promised and warn that they are anxious to see quick results," writes Leila Haddad of Aljazeera. "'There must be real changes, even if they are only economic and social changes and not political,' said storekeeper Usama Nabulsi."

"Hamas cannot conduct itself any longer as an opposition party, governing an entire people will involve running everyday matters that are crucial to Palestinians, such electricity; transportation, healthcare, finance, security and development," says an article on the Palestinian information website, MIFTAH.

The Sandinistas learned how difficult it is to go from being a resistance movement to a government, especially when the United States government is bent on destroying you. And the Sandinistas were not a government under occupation.

It is going to be as difficult for the new government to meet the economic demands as it was for the old one, because Israel and the West still hold most of its purse strings. Israel has threatened to withhold the monthly tax assessment that it holds for the P.A., which represents a huge part of the revenue that the government is supposed to be able to use to provide services.

The u.s. is threatening to withhold all money pledged to the P.A., and the World Bank, as mentioned, has already frozen its promised aid and is unlikely to release it now.

Israel also has the ability to prevent legislators from physically being able to do their jobs. "Israel will prevent Hamas lawmakers, elected in this week's Palestinian election, from travelling freely between the Gaza Strip and West Bank, a senior defence official has said. Since the Legislative Council meets in Ramallah, Gaza representatives may never make it. The top vote-getter in Nablus, Ahmad Al Haj Ali, is currently imprisoned in the Negev. He was scheduled to be released soon, but Israel just renewed the administrative detention order against him, meaning he will be held at least another six months.

For its part, Hamas is trying to be serious, diplomatic and responsible. Khaled Meshal, the political leader in exile in Damascus has called for a unity government and asked the armed factions to join to form a Palestinian army. This could be a great move. As a pacifist, I don't accept the chairman mao quote, "Without a people's army, the people have nothing," but the existence of a Palestinian army puts the demand that Hamas and the other armed factions lay down their weapons, while israel continues to buy and manufacture and use tanks, helicopter gunships, nukes and and and, on a different footing. In this unfortunately real world, if you are a government, you get to be armed. The fact that the Palestinian Authority has, for 12 years, been expected to take the responsibilities of a government for feeding and housing people, for building the economy, and for negotiating peace, without being allowed to defend itself, is an affront.

If israel and the west follow through on their threats to isolate the new government, it will be more or less forced look for support from Iran, which has oil resources to share and has welcomed the Hamas victory as a turn toward political Islam. This will not be good for those who want to see a democratic secular Palestine. It won't be good for queers (who haven't exactly been embraced by the old leadership) or for women.

"The most common joke I've heard made in the past couple days, if it can be called a joke, is that I'll have to start covering myself fully," Hannah writes. "I was in Dheisheh refugee camp [in Bethlehem] yesterday where the kids were discussing the election, and the teenage girls unanimously decided they would never wear hijab, even if Hamas legislated it."

The good news is that on Thursday I heard a Hamas spokesman pledge to create "a society with equality between men and women." The bad news is that Khomeini said that at first too.

On the other hand, Hamas has suggested that in order to allay international fears, they may form a "government of technocrats" with no connection to the radical Islamic movement. "We want a government that is for the Palestinian people, and if we can't do that then there are many options, one of which is a government of technocrats." spokesman Ghazi Hamad was quoted as saying. But that, of course, is not what the people who voted for them were looking for. They were looking for a party to lead them into liberation.

Lessons From the University of Wisconsin Israeli Bonds Divestment Campaign Video and Forum
February 11, 2006
7:30 PM New College Theater
777 Valencia St/19th St. San Francisco
$5.00 Donation Requested

Public Workers Breakfast With Nasser Abufarha
February 11, 2006 , 10:00 AM
Blue Muse Restaurant 409 Gough St./Hayes
The breakfast cost is $13.00. This includes coffee and one entree.
Please make reservations by calling Labor Video Project (415)282-1908
sponsored by Labor For Palestine, Labor Committee For Peace and Justice, UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Labor Action Coalition (LAC) and other organizations
For more information call (415)867-0628 or email laboractionnow@yahoo.com


by Chaya and Deni


What company’s representative said, “Now we’re a travel company, but what I really think we are is a lifestyle company. We see ourselves becoming the gay AARP.” Was it: (a) American Express, (b) Orbitz.com/gaytravel, or (c) Olivia Companies? See answer at end of column.


Rent (reviewed by Deni)

I liked the movie when I saw it (with Jesse L. Martin from the 16,000 Law and Order reruns I’ve seen – am I the last to know he sings too?) - it was entertaining and even had lesbians. But now, after reading a million reviews to remember what I saw, I have to agree that it was Hollywood slick, dated and jarring in presentation. Spike Lee had been trying to do this film – he might’ve even filmed it on real NY streets. One of those movies that wasn’t really that good but I liked it anyway.

Paradise Now (reviewed by Deni)

An excellent movie that (shockingly) has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Shot in Nablus by filmmaker and co-writer Hany Abu-Assad, this film is taut, compelling, and politically astute. It portrays the political, personal and spiritual/religious forces affecting choices, hopes and fears in Palestine and particularly in the lives of two young men, good friends preparing for a suicide bombing. Well-acted with excellent pacing throughout, the story involves you in these characters’ lives under occupation. Somehow it manages to deftly communicate the grizzly reality with little graphic violence. An important movie. See it.

Pride and Prejudice (reviewed by Chaya and Deni)

Why remake a movie that already has many good versions? It was pleasant, the acting was good and the scenery lovely, but it was a grand waste of money to make this film, yet another Jane Austen story of a middle-class family trying to marry off their daughters to suitors with more money. Not to mention the portrayal of girls as mostly giggling shriekers and the misogynist presentation of the mother. It’s always good to see class issues in a movie and Austen is known for her social satire, but there are dozens of stories more deserving to be made into movies. Bah humbug.

Syriana (reviewed by Chaya and Deni)

A suspenseful drama written and directed by Stephen Gaghan about the political power brokers of middle-east oil, starring George Clooney and Matt Damon. Good acting including a stellar supporting cast (Chris Cooper, Christopher Plummer, William Hurt and Jeffrey Wright). The scenes of oil facilities at a big Mediterranean port were an eye-opener. It’s challenging for a movie to be this confusingly detailed, yet shallow. Just about all the players were “evil” -- the CIA, the oil company, its lawyers, and the Arab princes. George (the “good” CIA agent) and Matt (an oil analyst) were supposed to be a notch above. There was the bad Arab prince, the good Arab prince with good American values (well, except for who he wanted to sell his oil to…) and Matt Damon’s arrogant character who harshly gives the Persian Gulf princes a piece of his mind, telling them how rotten they are. Here’s an American lecturing others about greed and injustice (!!) and giving American audiences (mostly non-Middle-Easterners) a chance to vicariously stick it to those “bad Arabs.” Then representing the masses of Arab people: the terrorist. His life was difficult on his path to terrorism so why show any more complexity than that? Or show any other non-elite Arab people, for that matter. In the end, the message is “it’s all preordained” and there’s nothing you can do about it. Boo.

The Gay Cowboy Movie (reviewed by Chaya and Deni)

The studio, the mainstream LGBT community and straight liberals hype it as a “universal love story” and a symbol of gay acceptance. This view is fueled by the outrage of the Christian right. But how progressive is the move’s theme and phenomenon? Is the movie worth the hype? The theme of gay angst is getting a lot of support -- “Oh yes, we loved that movie about those poor gay married men who could never be really happy because one of them just couldn’t be strong enough to break free.” A Hollywood happy ending might not have made this movie better, but there are too many straight people heaving sighs of relief that they could like this movie and not have to revel in requited, joyous queer love and passion. The tv commercials show Ennis and Jack with their wives and there’s no intimation of (eeek) sex between them. So the movie studio gets to cash in on the “big gay film” without having to show national tv audiences anything gay. Big Hollywood stories are only available to white characters. Some gay African American men have noted if the main characters had been black they would have been pathologized more as being on the down low instead of being so heartbreaking. As for the film’s production values, we may be the only ones to find fault with Ang Lee’s direction, but the cinematography was too often studied and occasionally trite (the full moon across the sky after their first sexual encounter – oh, hope we didn’t reveal any plot surprises…) In spite of the great scenery, acting and soundtrack, we’re annoyed (and we didn’t cry at the end). What do you think? Email your comments to themochacolumn@yahoo.com. The first queer person to email us gets their 2cents in the next Mocha Column. Or a Jaguar. We haven’t decided yet.


Road trip movies are usually fun, and this interesting trans-themed one is, with shades of Thelma & Louise and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. It has great acting with the justifiably-lauded performance of Felicity Huffman and a fabulous supporting cast including Graham Greene, Elizabeth Pena, Fionnula Flanagan and Amanda Addams. Excellent writing and direction by Duncan Tucker -- it’s very funny with many good lines (“I’m a level 4 vegan and I don’t eat anything that casts a shadow”) and the drama isn’t too heavy-handed. See it.

History of Violence (reviewed by Deni)

This was a disturbing movie and one I came to like less and less. The acting was mediocre except for son Ashton Holmes, who was quite good. The daughter had the affect of a Bad Seed clone. Viggo Mortensen (whom I hold a personal grudge against for his Lord of the Rings involvement) plays a nice guy who’s secretly got a mean and rotten past. Imagine. The message of this movie seemed to be that there is much violence lurking beneath almost everyone’s surface. But there needed to be a far more compelling and original reason than that to make a film this gory and violent. The film almost seemed to revel in the violence it purportedly deplored, and the “passion on the stairs” scene felt uncomfortably like rape morphed into good sex (you know the women really like it rough…) Skip it.

Breakfast on Pluto (reviewed by Chaya and Deni)

Chaya: This second trans-themed movie (!) with direction and screenplay by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) is a coming-of-age story set in Ireland and London in the 1960s. It too has excellent acting including Cillian Murphy as Kitten/Patrick, Liam Neeson as a priest, and Stephen Rea as a sleazy magician; and elements of both comedy and drama. “The Troubles” weave in and out of the story as do many characters and situations. Through it all, the adventures of Kitten/Patrick are always interesting, although at times the character’s lack of identity got too annoying. Great use of a pop song soundtrack.

Deni: This character was so quirky and chirpy and quippy, with so little believability that in the end (actually, in the first 3rd) I didn’t care much about her and just wanted the film to end. Which it did most melodramatically. I am also particularly angered by movies in which a woman who’s going to have an abortion changes her mind at the last minute (oh those flighty women). Curiosity about those cutesy robins featured at the beginning and the end led me to “badboybirding.com,” and how could that not be a queer website!

Munich (reviewed by Deeg)

I have been off work for several weeks because of carpal tunnel surgery, and I’ve seen a lot of movies. Which is my excuse for going to see Munich with my neighbor Yip. The zionists have condemned producer Steven Spielberg as an anti-semite for doing this film, a fall from his Schindler’s List state of grace. In the movie, Mossad agent Avner, played by Eric Bana, is recruited by Golda Meir to assassinate 11 Palestinian leaders in revenge for the murder of 11 Israeli athletes who were participating in the Munich Olympics in 1972. Avner is a sympathetic character, and a gourmet cook, who eventually becomes suspicious that the Palestinians he is killing may not have had any direct involvement with Munich. His handlers dismiss his concerns with the comment that without these leaders, Munich couldn’t have happened. The film is bloody and violent, and told from an Israeli viewpoint, yet the zionists feel betrayed because the film acknowledges the existence of Palestinians and of Israeli terrorist violence. In case you were wondering, Yip was disappointed because it didn’t have a unique Spielberg feel. To him, it seemed like a thriller movie that could have been made by anyone. See Breakfast On Pluto instead.


Back to DEFCON 1, It Was Just A Rusty Old Flashlight: We can’t say it any better than the SF Chronicle: “San Francisco authorities struggled to explain Thursday how they concluded that an object left in a Starbucks bathroom was a bomb, when tests revealed it was nothing more than a flashlight with corroded batteries.” This is the same SFPD that blew up a backpack found in a newspaper box on Market Street last summer. Hey, in a post-9/11 world you can’t be too careful. Especially when it comes to Starbucks - could’ve been a queer takeover again… (See www.quitpalestine.org and go to “actions.”)

Members of Sleeper Terrorist Cells Need Not Apply: You read it here last issue--register now with Homeland Security to get in the Trusted Traveler program. Now in full swing, the U.S. government is looking for private companies to run these airport programs. Just turn over a tiny little bit of highly personal/biometric data and you may never have to remove your shoes again in an airport. For a slight fee, of course.

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee But Don’t Drink Any: Due to its close scrutiny of the November ‘05 Mocha column, the Transportation Security Administration has taken ice picks back OFF the list of items you can take with you on an airplane. (The Trotsky connection frightened them, we guess…) You can, however, bring several other tools now, even a small screwdriver that could help you pry open the bathroom door. But only three days after giving us this joyful news, it was announced that “there is no law requiring U.S. airlines to provide functioning restrooms.” Okay then.

Philanthropic Crusaders of Justice Department, or “this is what passes for victory these days” (thanks, Vern): Ford Motor Company reaffirmed its commitment to its “progressive workplace policies” (sic) when it said it would once again place corporate advertising in LGBT publications on behalf of all its brands, including Jaguar and Land Rover (it had previously pulled them due to pressure of an anti-gay boycott of Ford.) Damn, that was close. How can we buy that Jaguar if we don’t see it in our local gay rag? The ink was barely dry on this stunning victory for Queer Liberation when Ford announced a large “restructuring” that will involve cutting 35,000 jobs. Now that’s a progressive workplace policy!

Answer to Mocha Column Quiz: If you said (c) Olivia Companies, you’re right! Who is Olivia in bed with these days? Recently known for its charter cruises and resort vacations for lesbians, Olivia is planning a lesbian and gay resort-retirement community in Palm Springs with 350 townhouses and timeshares. We know this because Olivia CEO Amy Errett told a gathering of the Association for Corporate Growth (that’s so reflective of Olivia’s lesbian-feminist roots) of Olivia’s plans. Our spies are everywhere – watch your back! Or get on it!


With Pavulon, no one can see you scream.

by Deeg

The u.s. supreme kourt issued a stay of execution for Clarence Hill in florida, just minutes before a lethal injection was scheduled to be administered. The kourt is considering whether condemned prisoners in florida can raise appeals based on civil rights issues involved in lethal injections. Hill is challenging this method of execution based on the 8th amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

Caryl Chessman was executed in california’s gas chamber in 1960. He told people he would nod his head if it was painful. It is said that he nodded his head as vigorously as he could, given the restraints, several times. After the supreme kourt permitted the resumption of executions in 1977, eleven people were executed by cyanide gas, including two in california – Robert Alton Harris and David Mason. Witnesses described evidence of horror, pain, strangling, spasms, seizures and eyes popping. In 1994, federal district judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled that the gas chamber violates the 8th amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, and outlawed it in california. In 1996, the 9th u.s. circuit court of appeals upheld that ruling, and now all executions in california are carried out by lethal injection.

Lethal injection, which beloved dead ex-president and ex-governor ronald reagan likened to “putting animals to sleep” involves three drugs – sodium thiopental (an anesthetic), pavulon (pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes the muscle system and stops breathing), and potassium chloride (which stops the heart). Pavulon prevents the person from communicating whether they are feeling pain as they are first asphyxiated, and then given a massive heart attack. In the April 2005 issue of the Lancet (a British medical journal), Leonidas Koniaris (University of Miami) and other researchers reported on their analysis of 49 executions carried out in Texas and Virginia. The autopsy record showed that 43 of 49 people executed had anesthetic levels lower than that required for surgery. Twenty-one had concentrations of anesthetic consistent with awareness. With Pavulon, you can’t scream at all.

The execution method of lethal injection was developed in oklahoma in 1977, and has been adopted by most of the 38 states that have the death penalty. Prior to Koniaris’ study, it had never been scientifically evaluated. It is a little ironic that the kourts are willing to consider whether a method of execution is inhumane, but are unwilling to consider that killing someone is the most inhumane act of all.

Michael Morales, a 46 year old Latino man, is scheduled to be killed by lethal injection at san quentin at 12:01 a.m. on February 21. Morales was convicted for the 1981 murder of 17-year-old Terri Winchell in Lodi. According to the court record, Morales’ cousin, Ricky Ortega, was involved with a high school football player who was also involved with Terri Winchell. Ortega allegedly decided to murder Winchell out of jealousy, and recruited Morales, who was drunk and high at the time, to help. Ortega, whose defense lawyer spent $80,000 during the penalty phase, was sentenced to life without parole. Morales’ lawyer spent about $3,000, and Morales was sentenced to death. Morales was tried in Ventura county where there is evidence that Latinos were systematically excluded from jury service.

The “special circumstance,” which “qualified” him for the death sentence, rests totally on the testimony of a jailhouse informant, Bruce Samuelson, about boasts he claimed Morales made while in jail awaiting trial. Samuelson was proven to have lied at the trial, including denying that the district attorney had offered to drop four out of six felony counts he was facing in exchange for information to convict Morales. These incentives were offered prior to the alleged date of Morales’ statements to Samuelson. The denial of the incentives was made at trial, and the district attorney said nothing about this perjury. It also turned out that Morales was never housed in the same cell as Samuelson, and no one else on the cell block heard this “confession.” When challenged about it after the trial, Samuelson said that Morales had confessed in Spanish. However, Morales does not speak Spanish.

The misconduct of the district attorney’s office in relying on this false testimony, has led clinton- prosecutor kenneth starr to request that governor schwarzenegger grant clemency. The trial judge in the case, Charles R. McGrath, a reagan appointee, has also asked for clemency, stating that the informant’s false testimony had convinced both himself and the jury of the egregiousness of the murder, and undermined Morales’ statements of remorse. McGrath said that to carry out the death sentence would be “a grievous and freakish injustice.” It is the first time since the resumption of the death penalty in the u.s. in 1977 that a judge has asked for clemency in a case in which he imposed the sentence.

Morales’ lawyers currently have appeals filed both on the prosecutorial misconduct issues, and on the 8th amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Legal experts think it is unlikely that the current supreme kourt stay affecting florida will apply to his case, since the 9th circuit kourt of appeals already allows death penalty appeals on civil rights issues. The supreme kourt is not considering the constitutionality of lethal injection in the Hill case. To date, no judge has ruled that the lethal injection protocol is unconstitutional.

Morales is the third person, and the third person of color, to face execution in california in the past three months. If executed, he will be the 14th person, and the first Latino, killed by california, since the resumption of the death penalty. Morales’ lawyers cited six other egregious murders committed in the same time period in San Joaquin county, including the beating death of a Black teenager by a white man, in which the district attorney did not seek the death penalty.

In the meantime, AB 1121 which would have established a state moratorium on executions was approved by the assembly’s public safety committee in early January, but then died in the appropriations committee. It will not come to the floor this year. A senate version of the bill may be introduced, but cynical people think that the heroic demokratic party doesn’t want to risk the moratorium becoming an issue in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

A press conference, rally and die-in is being organized during the week of February 13 at the San Francisco state building at Van Ness and McAllister. For details, call LAGAI at (510)434-1304 after February 1. If Morales’ execution is not stopped, there will be, as usual, a rally/vigil at the gates of San Quentin, starting at 8:00 p.m. on February 20.

Native People Walk for Justice

by Amanda

European settlers murdered millions of indigenous people, expropriated their land, and attempted to destroy their languages and traditions. For many Indian activists today, the preservation of sacred sites, which are being destroyed all over the country, is essential to sovereignty and cultural survival. The federal and state governments and the courts support economic interests as more of a priority than the religious freedom, beliefs, and sovereignty of Native peoples. Increasingly, tribal governments (who have historically failed to protest) are joining the traditional Indians to oppose this desecration. (eg see www.savethepeaks.org) NonIndians have a hard time understanding how prayer, traditional beliefs, and sacred sites are so involved with sovereignty and culture/survival; I am also trying to understand and learn.

In November 2005 local Indian activists Johnella Sanchez and Corrina Gould of Indian People Organizing for Change (IPOC) organized the first annual Sacred Site/Shellmound walk. The goals of the walk were to educate people about local sacred sites, to let people know that Indian people still exist and live here in the Bay Area, and to build community and organize Indian people while encouraging support from other people. Walkers came from all over including Indian country and other parts of the US, Japan, Australia, and Sweden. I was asked to participate months in advance; my fears about making the 16-19 daily miles were ignored, “there will be a vehicle to pick you up when you get tired.” I could only join about one third of the 270 miles around the San Francisco Bay. We visited important sites to Indian people as well as being hosted by other communities and learning of their struggles.

We visited many shellmound sites. Shellmounds are gravesites with mounds of shells heaped on top. They were often huge, 100’s of feet long and 60 or more feet high. Hundreds of shellmounds exist around the Bay Area although only a few sites are still visible; most have been bulldozed and paved over. The walk started in Vallejo where there is a fight to preserve a shellmound; we went to Mt. San Bruno where activists won a battle to preserve the shellmound and visited shellmounds buried under skyscrapers in downtown San Francisco, at Candlestick Park, Crissy Field, and in Berkeley under Spanger’s parking lot to mention a few. At each site prayers were offered to the ancestors. The Huchuin shellmound in Emeryville had been so large that the shells could be seen shining all over the Bay Area. The mound was visible rising above the surrounding buildings in photos from the late 1800’s. Now there is the Emery Bay Mall built on top of the site. Indian activists have called for a boycott of the mall and organize a demonstration the Friday after Thanksgiving every year. Soon there will be a monthly demonstration. (Contact IPOC for details.)

The walk next year plans a larger education piece coordinated with local schools. The goal is to create a mandatory curriculum to substitute for the California 4th grade curriculum, which focuses on the mission system and fails to discuss the genocide of the original inhabitants. Another goal is to create laws that give Indian people the right to say what happens to their ancestor’s remains and to block development of sacred sites. The third goal is to develop a national network of people trying to protect sacred sites and gravesites. Consider joining the next walk for an hour or a day: good people, good food, very educational.

Today, January 27 is a day of protest to save Medicine Lake in northern California. Medicine Lake is sacred to the Pit River, Klamath, Wintu, Karuk, Modoc, and many other people as the origin of creation and possesses many healing properties. Indian people continue to go there to pray and have ceremonies as they have for 1000s of years. The Medicine Lake Highlands comprises the largest shield volcano on this continent and is home to many rare birds and animals that live in the old-growth forests. The spring waters in this area are some of the cleanest in the country. Calpine has federal energy development leases that cover eight square miles and wants to drill 9,000 feet to tap the geothermal reserves and clear-cut the area to build a nine-story high power plant complex that would be always lit up. It would produce toxic ponds, tons of toxic hydrogen sulfide gas and other heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury threatening the underlying aquifer, which is California’s largest spring system. Ironically, the geothermal energy extracted from the area would be bought and sold as “green energy!” Native peoples, homeowners, environmentalists and others have been opposing this project since it was first proposed.

We are so narrow-sighted here in the US. We believe killing is normal with so many murders in our own streets, state murders on death rows across the country, and state killings in Iraq, Afganistan, and all over the world. We forget how abnormal this is. Shellmounds and sacred sites exist around the world. In many places they are left intact and respected; they are not paved over, skied over, or built on. I pray some day we will develop a reverence for peace and justice, for all our relations, the earth, sacred sites, and our ancestors. Until then, let’s fight like hell for a better world

For more information contact IPOC at shellmoundwalk@yahoo.com or www.vallejo-intertribalcouncil.org

NativeOUT (www.NativeOut.com) is a Native American Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) organization currently working to incorporate as a nonprofit 501(c)3. Our organization was founded, in the summer of 2004, to help connect the Phoenix area Native American and GLBT communities. We proudly identify as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, or Two-Spirit. We strive for acceptance and affirmation in our communities. To achieve this, we have united to educate society about Native American GLBT traditions, advocate for relevant issues, and promote visibility within our communities. Two Spirit is a modern English-language term used by many GLBT Native Americans to depict the dynamic balance of masculine and feminine energies within.

Medical Center In Critical Condition

by Tory (as if you didn't know)

Our much maligned, overwhelmed and underfunded county hospital, Alameda County Medical Center (ACMC) is in the news again. On December 29 John George psychiatric pavilion was cited by the state Department of Health Services for deficiencies in patients’ rights and nursing services. These violations, the second set in less than two years, are so severe that they are prompting the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to stop it’s contract funding of the medical center. If this happens, it will force the closure of the entire public hospital, the health care of last resort for uninsured county residents.

This citation is the result of a recent patient suicide at John George. Two years ago a doctor was killed at John George while doing a history and physical on a patient. The doctor was alone in an exam room with the patient, unaccompanied by another staff person. CalOSHA had cited the hospital for this very inadequate safety practice just months before the doctor’s death At least over the last 10 years, staff have argued cajoled, been to CalOSHA, fought with management to improve staffing and safety at the locked facility. In spite of countless inspections, patient and staff injuries and deaths supporting these demands, nothing ever changed. Now once again, someone has died because of bad management, inadequate staffing levels, and too many inexperienced registry nurses (travelers)

Having enough staffing would go a long way to increasing safety for both patients and staff. This most recent inspection found that the psychiatric hospital was not in compliance with the new state-mandated staffing ratios for RNs to patients. As a result of these newest citations, now the entire medical center, encompassing Highland Hospital, the out patient clinics, Fairmont Hospital and John George, has been given 90 days to correct the problems. Then the complete medical center will be reinspected and must pass to keep its CMS funding and stay open. Workers at the hospital report that, while management is minimally working on a correction plan at John George, nothing is being done about readying the rest of the medical center for an in-depth inspection.

What a mess!!!!! While county officials keep shaking their collective heads over the odious burden of the public hospital, the reasons for this disaster are really quite clear and could be corrected. For years the board of supervisors (b.o.s.) has underfunded the hospital in favor of padding the sheriff’s department budget. Charlie Plummer, the sheriff, makes a big media fuss, complete with carrying around a chain saw, every year at county budget time and the b.o.s. start cringing and talking law and order . About six years ago b.o.s. separated the medical center from the county bureaucracy, setting up a hospital authority governance structure. The fantasy was that the medical center would be a distinct financial entity and somehow break even. As the number of very sick people without medical insurance grew and the amount of state and federal reimbursement fell, the medical center became more and more financially strung out. The evil dave kears, ceo of the alameda health care agency, pushed his schemes for privatizing and downsizing the medical center.

Over a year ago the voters of Alameda county mandated a full service functioning county hospital by approving Measure A, a ½ cent sales tax which would go directly to funding the county hospital. The county betrayed this trust by immediately wasting millions on a bunch of corporate consultants dressed in pumps and suits and flying in from states with T names like Tennessee and Texas on Tuesdays and leaving again on Thursdays. Their big plan to save the medical center was to lay-off workers and to cut services. Cambio (the consultant group) recommended downsizing HIV, substance abuse, sexual assault, breast cancer screening and dental clinics The union managed to successfully oppose the lay-offs of over three hundred employees. Cambio couldn’t even accomplish their own recommendations. The use of registry and traveler nurses doubled during their tenure. They were unable to correct the longstanding problems with billing, which would bring more revenue into the medical center. About all they did was to institute a time clock to annoy employees by making them punch in and out. It is the increase in registry staff and travelers and the lack of emphasis on keeping and rewarding full-time employees that has contributed to such unsafe conditions for patients and staff at John George.

The board of stupervisors need to make a real commitment to the county hospital and health care for uninsured county residents. They are demanding payment by the medical center of a so-called loan, actually money used to keep the medical center going before Measure A money was approved. ACMC is the county hospital regardless of its separate governance structure. It should not be forced to pay Alameda County money used to provide the legally mandated county health care. This is just a sneaky back door way for dave kears and the county stupes to get their hands on the Measure A money earmarked specifically for the medical center.

The board of stupes must do the following things;

1. Change their attitude to the medical center from considering it a burden to prioritizing health care in this county

2. Immediately stop calling in the so-called loan. The medical center does not owe anybody money!!!

3. Set up long term strategic planning committees with union, line worker and community participation to make a functioning hospital

4. End the absurd separate hospital authority form of governance. Make a health commission as they have in San Francisco county which would hold the board of stupes accountable and bring the medical center back into the county.

5. The board of stupervisors should work actively to pass Sheila Kuehl’s single payer bill, SB840. It is the only long term solution to the problems at the medical center

Single payer universal Health care is the only answer to the myriad health care problems facing Alameda county and California. The decision has been made to introduce a finance bill in February which would describe the financial structure for the bill without the actual numbers. If money is involved the finance bill would have to be passed by two thirds. There is some hope that the policy part of the bill is going to start moving again after the resounding defeat of arnold in the special election. Also the California Nurses Association, after a year of dragging its feet on supporting the bill, has decided to take it on and is now the main sponsor of the bill. Meanwhile Health Care for All - California is rising above this slight (having been the sponsor for years) and is working hard to raise money for a statewide grassroots campaign about single payer universal health care and to get this specific bill passed. While working on legislative bills seem futile and long winded, it is hopeful that people are considering a big grassroots campaign.

The only way we are going to win this is by a huge outpouring of people into the streets demanding true single payer universal health care and an end to HMOs, insurance companies and profit driven health care.


Thursday, February 9th
Shout Out to Center For Medicare Services

12:30pm Buses leave from St. Mary s Cathedral 1111 Gough for CMS
1:00pm Arrive at CMS - 75 Hawthorne St, SF

Monday, February 13
Organizing Meeting, 10:00 a.m.
S. Berkeley Senior Center, Ellis and Ashby, Berkeley

Call Jim Forsyth @ 510-581-5169.

Tuesday, February 14
Valentine's Day Action with Congressman Richard Pombo in Stockton
Vans leaving from Alameda County and other locations.

For further information or to sign up to be a part of any or all of these Medicare Part D Defense activities or in general to help fight for a real prescription drug benefit, contact the California Alliance of Retired Americans (CARA) at 415-550-0828.

Stupid, stupid, stupid: Study Makes No Scents

"In many mammals, pheromones modulate, and sometimes determine, reproductive behaviors. For example, odors of the opposite sex are highly attractive, especially for males when females are in heat." So begins a study by the Monell Chemical Senses Center, published in the journal of the American Psychological Society, which concludes that "differences in body odor are detected and responded to on the basis of, in part, an individual's gender and sexual orientation."

To arrive at these findings, 24 "odor donors" "underwent a 9-day wash-out, during which they used odorless soaps and shampoo, did not shave their armpits, and eliminated items such as garlic, cumin, and curry from their diets. After this phase, donors wore cleaned, cotton gause pads in the armpits throughout the day for 3 days, changing to a new pad each day." They put the pads in their freezers until they returned them to the lab, where they were cut into six pieces and put into test bottles containing two pieces from each of three donors within a group -- gay men, straight men, straight women, and lesbians, who were further divided into lesbians over 25, and lesbians 18-25.

Each donor got $75, which doesn't necessarily seem like a lot for such a weird process, not to mention having to replace all the ancient frozen food you may no longer feel like eating.

82 donor evaluators were then paid $15 an hour to make "forced-choice preference judgments for odors from each of the following pairings: (a) heterosexual male versus gay male, (b) heterosexual male versus heterosexual female, (c) heterosexual female versus lesbiand, and (d) gay male versus lesbian." They then rated the "intensity" and the "pleasantness" of each odor.

Not surprisingly, none of the evaluators found any of the body odors very pleasant. On a scale of +2 to -6, only heterosexual females cracked the 0 mark in responses from two groups: gay men and lesbians, but the gay men found it more pleasant than the lesbians did. All the others were in negative numbers, with gay men the least preferred by every group except - duh duh duh duh - gay men! "Gay males preferred the odors of gay males and heterosexual females in each of the forced-choice preference tests in which these odors were present. In contrast, for heterosexual males, heterosexual females, and lesbians, odors from gay males were the most nonpreferred odor presented. Of further interest is the equivalence in the pattern of responses for heterosexual females and lesbians. Both groups preferred odors from heterosexuals of either gender over odors from gay males and lesbians, but when forced to choose between the latter, they preferred odors from lesbians over those of gay males."

So the moral of this study, which was supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Fellowship, is that gyms catering to gay men will continue to be a good investment, and we know why lesbians love to take showers together.

Ten Against Torture Wants You!

It's not enough to be against torture --
Not if you're congress and not if you're a regular person trying to get through your life

Our government holds 17,000 prisoners in Iraq, 500 in Guantanamo, hundreds of immigrants in this country, and countless more in secret prisons in Afghanistan and Eastern Europe. They are held indefinitely, without trial, many without lawyers, without basic rights or decent conditions, far from family, unable to be visited by anyone.

"Extraordinary rendition", otherwise known as kidnapping and torture, is still an allowed practice by the so-called security agencies

It's Up to Us To Stop It

4-prisoner.jpgTen Against Torture is a grassroots movement of Bay Area activists. If everyone in the Bay Area who's against the incredible abuse of human rights that our government is committing every day, gets ten of their friends to do something, we can make a difference. And even if we don't stop it, we will make our voices heard and let the world know that we don't accept this.

We have done a variety of propaganda actions, including postering, stickering and clandestine distribution of "torture cards" (pictured below).

Our first public action was at the Bay Area appearance of would-be-presidential-candidate hillary clinton, where the splash we made with our shrouds, chains and orange jumpsuits was not outdone by Code Pink's giant mouse ears. Read about it.

We're planning a mass street theater on President's Day shopping weekend. Join us!
www.tenagainsttorture.org; email tenagainsttorture@bigfoot.com

San Francisco Grand Jury Update 1/29/06

In the latest chapter of the government’s attempts to silence dissent, four people appeared before a federal grand jury in San Francisco on Wednesday, January 25. The grand jury, which is apparently investigating animal rights and environmental activists, began its work in the late spring, 2005.

Two of the subpoenaed activists, Nadia Winstead and Ariana Huemer, asserted their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Federal prosecutors quickly stripped them of this right by forcing immunity upon them—thereby compelling them to testify or face contempt charges. Each responded by choosing to “respectfully decline” to answer further questions.

Nonetheless, the U.S. attorney continued to fire a barrage of questions at them. Throughout, Nadia and Ariana remained strong and refused to answer any questions, until they were eventually excused for the day.

Two others subpoenaed for that day, Rick Bogle and Stacie Nievaard, entered the Grand Jury room and answered most of the questions posed by the U.S. Attorney. Although to our knowledge they did not directly implicate anyone in criminal activity, we can only hope their answers will not result in more subpoenas and further government harassment of activists.

All four of the activists are done for now, but they may be called before the grand jury again or face further charges, including contempt of court, at any time.

Three remaining activists subpoenaed last June-- Joshua Trenter, Andrea Lindsay and David Hayden-- are still awaiting their appearance dates. Outside of the Federal Building, about 50 activists and local media attended a demonstration in support of those resisting the grand jury. Of some note was the brief appearance of FBI agent “Jenny,” who attempted to hand out “Wanted” posters in front of the Federal Building before being booed away by activists.

Stay tuned to FBIwichHunt.com for updates and announcements about future appearance dates and protests.