San Francisco-The first officially legal same-sex wedding in California was disrupted last week by members of a group calling itself Queers Against Having Good-times (QUAHOG), who entered the chapel wearing sackcloth and ashes and brandishing black thorny roses. The minister ignored the troublemakers and bravely intoned, “Whosoever knows of reason why these two should not be lawfully joined in marriage.” At that point, one of the QUAHOGs jumped up and yelled, “Fel is already married in Massachusetts.”
“It was like something out of Jane Eyre,” sobbed a distraught Dillis Marlon, one of the putative brides-to-be. “I’ve been with Fel for over 50 years,” Dillis continued. “If she’d taken another wife in any state, you’d think I would be the first to know.”
Mayor Gavin Newsom quickly allocated special anti-terrorism funds to produce a poster warning future altar-goers of the threat posed by QUAHOGs. CUAV and HRC have mobilized task forces armed with pink parasols and kazoos to be on the lookout for wedding crashers.
“This is the worst thing to hit our community since that group disrupted the opening night of the opera in the eighties,” said HRC Ben Dere. “They’re just jealous party poopers.”
The New Jersey Four are four
black lesbians from Newark NJ who were accosted outside a theater in New York
City in August 2006, and fought back. Last year they were sentenced to terms
ranging from two and a half to 11
years. The cases are being appealed. Kimma Walker, the mother of Terrain
Dandridge, one of the defendants, will be in the Bay Area this month..
who’s got yo’ back
a night of solidarity with the NJ4
Resisting Homophobia, Racism, Misogyny and the Prison Industrial Complex
Music by Ojala
Tuesday, June 24, 7 p.m.
The Women’s Building, 3543 18th St, SF
$5-$20 sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of funds
organized by bay nj4 solidarity, (510)400-8462 email@example.com http://freenj4.wordpress.com/
Shame SF, LAGAI -- Queer Insurrection, Old Lesbians Organizing for Change
(OLOC),, SF Women Against Rape (SF WAR), KPFA Women’s Magazine, Critical
Resistance, Radical Women, Queers
Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!)
Paula Gunn Allen,
award-winning American Indian scholar and poet, passed away at her home in Fort
Bragg, Calif., May 29 after a prolonged illness. She was 68 years old.
For the last 30 years, Allen
was a foremost voice in Native literature and the study of American literature.
She was also a founding mother of the contemporary women’s spirituality
movement. Her most recent work, ‘’Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy,
Entrepreneur, Diplomat,’’ received a Pulitzer Prize nomination. ‘’The
Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions,’’ a
collection of critical essays, is a cornerstone in the study of American Indian
culture and gender. Her edited anthology, ‘’Studies in American Indian
Literature: Critical Essays and Course Designs,’’ laid the foundation for
the study of Native American literature.
One of her most anthologized
essays — “Who Is Your Mother? Red Roots of White Feminism” — asserts
that early feminists in the United States owe a debt to women of the
female-centered Iroquois, who were their role models.
Though she once identified as
a lesbian, Allen said she later realized she was a “serial bisexual,”
interested in a certain type of person, unconcerned “if it’s male or a
female body,” she said in a 1994 issue of the journal The Circle.
Born Paula Marie Francis, in
1939, she grew up on the Cubero land grant in New Mexico, the daughter of former
New Mexico Lt. Gov. Elias Lee Francis and Ethel Francis. Both her father’s
Lebanese and her mother’s Laguna Pueblo-Metis-Scot heritages shaped her
critical and creative vision.
She promoted and popularized
the works of other Native writers through the anthologies ‘’Song of the
Turtle: American Indian Literature, 1974 - 1995'’; ‘’Voice of the Turtle:
American Indian Literature, 1900 - 1970'’; and ‘’Spider Woman’s
Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American
Women,’’ which received the American Book Award from the Before Columbus
Foundation. She also authored ‘’Off the Reservation: Reflections on
Boundary-Busting, Border-Crossing, Loose Canons’’; ‘’As Long as the
Rivers Flow: The Stories of Nine Native Americans’’; and ‘’Grandmothers
of the Light: A Medicine Woman’s Sourcebook.’’
Allen published six volumes
of poetry: ‘’Life Is a Fatal Disease: Collected Poems 1962 - 1995'’;
‘’Skins and Bones’’; ‘’Wyrds’’; ‘’Shadow Country’’;
‘’A Cannon Between My Knees’’; and ‘’Blind Lion.’’ Her latest
book of poetry, ‘’America the Beautiful,’’ is forthcoming from West End
Press. ‘’The Woman Who Owned the Shadows,’’ a novel, was published in
1983. She received many awards.
She is survived by a
daughter, Lauralee Brown (Roland Hannes); a son, Suleiman Allen (Millisa
Russell); two granddaughters; two sisters; and one brother. Two sons, Fuad Ali
Allen and Eugene John Brown, preceded her in death.
By Maggie Leigh and
live in Atchison Village, a Mutual Homes Corporation (like a co-op, where no one
owns the land) of 450 units built in 1943 and located about a mile south of the
Chevron refinery, at the west end of Richmond. Standard Oil built the plant in
1902. For many years low income, minority communities who live in its vicinity
have been affected with high rates of cancer, asthma and respiratory disease.
While Shell has reduced its
emissions 80%, Chevron’s emissions have increased by that percentage. The
company has not cleaned up after itself, causing unnecessary flaring, explosions
and other pollution. On top of that it also has not been paying its fair share
of business taxes to the city of Richmond. Last year it announced plans to
expand, and we even heard of its plan to build a hydrogen pipeline going from
Richmond all the way to Martinez (which would impact the East Bay Shoreline and
be dangerous, as hydrogen is highly explosive).
Chevron submitted an EIR
(Environmental Impact Report) to the California Energy Commission (CEC), in
which it stated that the expansion will not increase pollution, but will upgrade
existing, aging equipment. On that basis it even requested to be exempt from the
application process for a permit! The Attorney General called the EIR report
deficient, stated that in fact Chevron’s plan would contribute a significant
increase in global warming, and encouraged the Richmond Planning Commission,
which reviews applications, to propose a cap on the quality of oil that comes
into the plant.
Local environmental groups
with a long history of watching Chevron and representing the health interests of
the people who live in its vicinity, include the West County Toxics Coalition (WCTC),
headed by Dr. Henry Clark, a former Black Panther, and Communities for a Better Environment (CBE),
whose chief scientist Greg Karras called a press Conference in our Village a few
months ago. On that occasion he went public about his findings, to the effect
that Chevron was concealing the real intent behind the expansion: that of
refining cruder oil, including oil from tar sands, since the supply of the
easier-to-refine, lighter oil is dwindling worldwide (except in Iraq, where
Chevron has been instrumental in pushing for privatization and drafting the Iraq
Oil Law, which will undoubtedly benefit Chevron). The crude contains many more
toxic substances. The process of “cracking” this dirtier oil necessitates
dirtier procedures and could result in 10%-50% more pollution. Chevron’s
website contains a statement to its shareholders, confirming the company’s
intent to process cruder, dirtier oil in the expanded Richmond refinery.
There have been several
demonstrations of protest, starting in 2007 when we first heard of Chevron’s
plans, bringing together the West County Toxics Coalition, CBE, Atchison Village
Environmental Committee, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Richmond Alliance
for Environmental Justice, SEIU Local 1021, activists in the larger community
and concerned citizens. We have attended a plethora of meetings, have spoken
publicly before the CEC, the Richmond Planning Commission, and privately with
members of the Richmond City Council. We have gathered data and heard the
results of a study done locally to measure indoor and outdoor air quality in
CBE has united with
international organizations like Amazon Watch, and we have heard from activists
from the international community who report the same environmentally racist
attitude of Chevron in their countries, the same irresponsibility in refusing to
clean up the mess they have made, when they are not actively persecuting anyone
who dares to protest. These activists are from the Philippines, Burma, Nigeria,
Ecuador. Our struggle is a part of the protests, including lawsuits, around the
globe, that hopefully will reach the critical mass necessary for Chevron to
change its ways. For this we also need the support of people who are fortunate
enough to live far away from the areas directly impacted. Chevron makes
billion-dollar profits every quarter, and wages a media campaign to make us
believe that they care for the environment and our health. But that is false. We
who cannot easily move from the affected areas can attest to this.
As of this date, Chevron has
not yet been granted the permit to expand. At the last meeting of the Richmond
Planning Commission on June 5th, a majority of
the commissioners voted to put a cap on the crude oil entering the refinery.
This is a victory for us. However, the community is calling for a cap on:
- quality of crude oil after blending that goes into the refinery
- quality of gas oil after blending that goes into the refinery
- throughput volume of SDA unit
- throughput volume of five additional cracking units
We are also calling for ways
to closely monitor Chevron’s implementation of the caps.
The Richmond Planning
Commission is meeting again on June 19th ,to
continue the public hearing on the proposed permit.
What you can do:
1. Participate in
demonstrations that seek to make Chevron accountable for its environmental
impact, especially in communities of color and of low income.
2. Vote yes on the
Citizen’s Initiative requiring large manufacturers like Chevron to pay a fair
increase in their business license fee. The initiative will be on the November
3. Vote Green
4. Question Chevron’s ads
showing the company as caring about the environment, and demand that they walk
5. Read ”The Bush
Agenda”, and ”The Tyranny of Oil” by Antonia Juhasz to better understand
the politics of oil, the world’s most powerful industry, in order to make it
6. Attend the June 19th Richmond Planning Commission meeting, at 6:30 p.m., at Council Chambers, City Hall, 1401 Marina Way South, Richmond, CA.
We in LAGAI join the rest of
the Bay Area progressive community in expressing our sadness over the loss of
Bruce “Utah” Duncan Phillips, who died May 23.
He was a labor organizer, folk singer, storyteller, poet and popular
radio host on KPFA. He believed in
the power of direct action, self-identifying as an anarchist. He often promoted
the Industrial Workers of the World in his music, actions, and words.
On May 28, governor
shwarzenegger had another photo op with United Farm Workers president Arturo
Rodriquez, as they walked into the funeral for 17 year old Maria Isabel Vasquez
Jimenez, who died from heat illness on May 16.
“I can not emphasize this
strongly enough: companies that fail to protect worker safety will be prosecuted
to the fullest extent of the law..Every employer or labor contractor in every
corner of the state of California will face the same scrutiny – obey the law
or be shut down. Worker safety from heat illness must and will be protected in
California,” schwarzenegger said.
Maria, who was in her first
trimester of pregnancy, died on May 16 as a result of working nine and a half
hours in the sun in 95 degree heat in a field near Lodi. She
started trimming vines at 6:00 a.m. on May 14 on a field owned by West
Coast Grape Farming. She was working for Merced Farm Labor (MFL).
At 3:40 p.m. Maria collapsed. This was her third day working for MFL.
Earlier in the day she had complained of feeling dizzy, a symptom of heat
illness. According to news stories, the only water in the field was a 10 minute
walk from where people were working, and they were discouraged from taking time
to get water. The first break period was at 10:30, over four hours after the
start of the shift.
At 3:40, when Maria passed
out, the foreman told Florentino Bautista, her co-worker and boyfriend, to sit
with her in a hot van in the sun. About twenty minutes later, the foreman had
them driven to a store to get rubbing alcohol. When that failed to revive her,
they finally drove her to a community clinic, where they decided she needed to
be taken to a hospital. The foreman told Bautista to tell the hospital she
hadn’t been working, that she had been jogging. When she was finally seen at
Lodi Memorial Hospital, two hours after she collapsed, her temperature was 108.
First her 2 month old fetus died, and two days later, she died.
The United Farm Workers led a four-day march to protest the death of Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez from June 1 through June 4.
So what is the “scrutiny”
that the governor affirms all employer’s will face? In 2006, Merced Farm Labor
was cited by Cal/OSHA for violations of the heat illness standard. They were
fined $2250. They never paid the fines, and apparently never changed their
practices. The mighty sword of the Cal/OSHA heat illness regulation requires
only that employers provide training on heat illness and emergency procedures to
employees and supervisors, provide an adequate supply of water, and provide
access to a shaded area for “a preventative recovery period” of a minimum of
five minutes, for employees who are suffering from heat illness or believe a
recovery period is needed.
During 2005-6, when the
regulation was being considered, labor and occupational health advocates urged a
much stronger regulation, one that would have required regularly scheduled break
periods in the shade or cooled areas and additional break periods during heat
waves and for workers new to working in the heat. Breaks are particularly
important because people who are working not only absorb heat from the
environment, but they generate internal heat due to the work being performed by
their muscles. The labor proposal
would also have applied to workers exposed to heat in indoor environments such
as glass factories, foundries and metal warehouse buildings with no air
conditioning. In addition, it would have required scheduling that avoided
working in the highest heat period of the day, and would have required that
workers be given time to adjust to working in the heat (called
“acclimatization”, a process that increases the efficiency of the body’s
The Division of Labor
Standards Enforcement, which licenses farm labor contractors, has revoked the
license of Merced Farm Labor. The county district attorney has announced he will
review the Cal/OSHA investigation to consider whether criminal charges should be
brought. It appears that MFL may also have violated child labor laws. So far no
action has been taken against West Coast Grape Farming, which by the way is
partially owned by Fred Franzia of California’s bronco wine co., the producer
of “Two Buck Chuck.”
This would be an appropriate
time to mention the chronic understaffing of Cal/OSHA and DLSE. Also a good time
to mention the governor’s appointment of pro-industry true-believers like Bob
Jones to a deputy secretary position in the labor and workforce development
agency, the umbrella agency that oversees Cal/OSHA and DLSE. A good time to
mention his reappointment of right-wing anti-regulation UPS lawyer candace
traeger to head the Cal/OSHA appeals board.
But leaving aside the failure
of the state regulatory apparatus to enforce even a minimalist heat illness
regulation or child labor laws, there are two bigger issues that leave farm
workers dying from the heat. The first is that the low wages farm workers are
paid are based on piecework, sometimes disguised as a quota system. This means
that breaks, perhaps the most important part of controlling heat stress, cannot
be meaningfully required, because workers who take breaks lose money they
can’t afford to give up.
More importantly, Maria, as
an undocumented worker, did not have an alternative to working for the MFLs of
california. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (ironically, ICE) sees to that.
During the weeks before Maria was worked to death, ICE was conducting major
sweeps all over the country – perhaps coincidentally timed to coincide with
the nationwide immigration actions scheduled for May 1. In Mid-April, they
raided Poultry Pride plants in five states, arresting over 300 workers. On May
2, ICE raided 11 Taqueria El Balazo restaurants in the Bay Area, arresting over
60 workers. Then on May 5-6 ICE vans appeared in the vicinity of schools in
Oakland and Berkeley. At the same time, a Latino family of four was arrested,
and there were rumors that ICE agents had attempted to enter schools.
Politicians and school board members went to some of the impacted schools to
prevent raids, and some teachers and other school employees provided rides home
to students so they wouldn’t have to pass ICE agents. On May 7, students at
Berkeley high school walked out to protest the ICE harassment. On May 12 ICE
assisted management in a labor dispute in the Agriprocessors meat-packing plant
in Postville Iowa by conducting a raid there.
When unsuspecting activists
from QUIT! and other groups dared to set up a checkpoint dramatization outside
the annual Israel in the Gardens celebration on Sunday, June 1, police typically
overreacted. The sergeant in charge
decided that our flat cardboard guns looked “too realistic,” and ordered
them confiscated. We suggested that
if anyone were confused by the cardboard guns, they would also be confident that
the police were in control of the situation, since there were twelve cops
surrounding seven demonstrators, but to no avail. Our poor paper guns were pried from our warm living hands and
hauled away in a police van, to be locked away in the police property room as
“evidence” of a crime that was not committed.
Police told us we were being cited, but couldn’t say for what.
In fact, we were not cited, but our guns were.
The investigator assigned to the case seemed quite bemused by it, when
one of our intrepid activists showed up to get the guns released.
After four hours over two days spent traipsing around the corridors of
850 Bryant (the so-called “hall of justice”), we were joyfully reunited with
our paper guns. The activist then
had the enviable task of walking through a building teeming with real guns with
what could from a distance be taken for a machine gun. Fortunately, she made it without further ado.
A spokesman for the National
Paper Rifle Association condemned this assault on our freedom, saying, “When
paper guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have paper guns.”
It’s unconfirmed, but it
appears that the israeli consulate is not a sponsor or presenter at this
year’s LGBT Film Festival, presented by Frameline.
This development follows a campaign begun initiated by QUIT! and joined
by members of the Bay Area SWANA community before last year’s festival to get
the israeli government out of our festival.
Last year at a meeting with members of the community, directors of the
film festival said that they had received much more support than criticism for
their decision to continue the relationship they have had with the consulate
over some years. However, the
directors seemed concerned when a Palestinian lesbian explained that the
inclusion of the consulate sponsorship made her feel excluded from the festival.
Over the last four months, QUIT and other community members got over 400
post cards signed and sent to the festival leadership, urging them to
discontinue the relationship. We
are investigating to see if the festival has indeed cut ties to the consulate,
and we do not expect that they will acknowledge that they have done so because
of community pressure. However, we
note that this year, all four israeli films (one of which appears to have
progressive politics) are co-presented by different nonprofit organizations. We will keep you posted.
It’s nearly three years
since New Orleans was nearly wiped out, and levees are bursting in the midwest.
Many of us are watching with interest to see how the disaster plays in
Iowa, whose relative whiteness was recently touted when it helped Barack Obama
establish his credibility as a presidential candidate.
According to an AP story
about the levee breaking in Des Moines, “Authorities knew the aging levee near
Birdland, a working-class, racially diverse neighborhood, was the weakest link
among the city’s levees. A 2003 Corps report called for nearly $10 million in
improvements across Des Moines, but there wasn’t enough federal money to do
all the work.
‘This was the first to
fail, and we felt it was the one likely to fail,’ said Bill Stowe, the
city’s public works director.
Some residents were upset
that other areas of city have received more flood-control improvements than
Birdland since massive floods hit the area in 1993.”
The immediate crisis is
water; today’s news says Cedar Rapids will run out of potable water in four or
five days. Will the federal
response be one of malign neglect, as it was three years ago, or will they be
airlifting supplies like they should be?
And speaking of airlifts, the
floods in the Midwest, along with the fires in California (not to mention the
untimely death of Tim Russert) have completely obliterated any news in this
country about the ongoing crisis in Myanmar.
As of this week, the official death toll attributable to the team of
Cyclone Nargis and the military government is about 78,000 people; 56,000 are
still missing and over 19,000 injured.
After two weeks of
stonewalling international agencies , the government allowed some 900 aid
workers to enter the affected area, about half of whom are still there.
“Nearly one month after one of Asia’s biggest cyclone disasters, the
United Nations says fewer than half of the 2.4 million people affected by the
cyclone have received help from the government, or international or local aid
groups,” reports the British news agency Reuters.
The u.s. government has been
among the most vocal critics of the regime’s handling of the disaster, despite
obvious and eerie parallels with its own actions in the aftermath of Katrina.
White house press secretary dana perino and defense secretary robert
gates criticized the Myanmar government last week for refusing to let u.s.
troops in to help deliver aid. u.s.
warships have been off the coast of Myanmar for the last month.
Without excusing the junta’s lack of regard for its people, one can
hardly wonder why a government backed by china would think that opening its arms
to u.s. soldiers might not be such a good idea. The fears which led u.s. homeland security to reject offers
of help from Cuban doctors three years ago do not seem as well founded.
As Katrina granted the wish
of developers who had been rubbing magic lamps for years, trying to rid New
Orleans of its pesky poor Black majority, Nargis was a boon to the military
government of Myanmar. The
devastated Iriwaddy delta is the home of dissident Aung San Suu Kyi, founder and
head of the National League for Democracy, which won 392 out of 492 seats in the
Parliament in 1990 but was blocked by the junta from establishing a government.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been in detention for 12 of the last 18 years,
including the last six years under house arrest.
Agence France Presse reported
on May 27, “Despite the junta’s apparent easing over the relief effort, the
regime kept a tight lid on the country’s political situation, extending the
house arrest of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi by another year.”
They also arrested 20 of her supporters who tried to march to her house.
If you are like me, you’ve
heard of Suu Kyi (who can also be called Aung San, which is the same name as her
father, General Aung San), but don’t really understand much about who she is.
Her father founded the Burmese military and negotiated Burma’s
independence from the United Kingdom in 1947.
He was assassinated by his rivals in the same year. Aung San Suu Kyi was
born in 1945, grew up with her mother, Khin Kyi, and two brothers, was educated
in English private Catholic schools in Burma, attended college in London and
married a British scholar of Tibet. Her
two sons were both born in England.
According to Wikipedia, “By
coincidence, in that year, the long-time leader of the socialist ruling party,
General Ne Win, stepped down, leading to mass demonstrations for democratization
on August 8, 1988 (8-8-88, a day seen as auspicious), which were violently
suppressed. A new military junta took power.
“Influenced by both Mahatma
Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence and by more specifically Buddhist
concepts, Aung San Suu Kyi entered politics to work for democratization, helped
found the National League for Democracy on 27 September 1988, and was put under
house arrest on 20 July 1989. She was offered freedom if she left the country,
but she refused.
“The NLD is distinct from
the NLD-LA (National League for Democracy-Liberated Areas), which operates in
the Thai-Burma border areas and abroad. However, the NLD-LA advocates the
position of the NLD in calling for a tripartite dialogue between the SPDC, the
NLD, and representatives of the ethnic minority groups of Burma.”
The military rulers changed
the name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989. Opposition
groups continue to use the name “Burma”, since they do not recognize the
legitimacy of the ruling military government.
Various ethnic groups choose not to recognize the name because the term
Myanmah has historically been used as a label for the majority ethnic group
rather than for the country.
Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded
a Congressional Medal of Freedom by the u.s. last year and the Nobel Peace Prize
The government held the
ratification vote on the new constitution, aimed at solidifying its power, on
May 10, just one week after the cyclone devastated the Irawaddy delta region.
“The [NLD] denounce[d] the
regime’s claim that more than 92 percent of voters had endorsed a new
constitution in the wake of the cyclone, calling the vote a ‘sham’ that was
not free and fair.” AFP reported.
In a further echo of Katrina,
relief workers have charged the Myanmar government with evicting people from
shelters and relief camps, giving them just six dollars and two small portions
of rice to return to their ruined villages.
Other storm victims were forced out of schools so that classes could
resume last week, Amnesty said.
Last fall, as activists
commemorated the second anniversary of the disaster in Louisiana, FEMA was
quietly stepping up its closure of the mobile home parks where some survivors
had been housed, leaving the residents with nowhere to go.
In contrast to the situation in Myanmar, however, half of the poor,
elderly and disabled residents of New Orleans who were displaced by the storm
have been unable to return as of March 2008.
150 people protested outside
u.c. berkeley law school (Boalt Hall) graduation on May 17, demanding that the
university fire professor john yoo, author of several justice department memos
legitimizing the use of torture by u.s. interrogators.
yoo, a tenured professor at boalt since 1999, took a leave of absence
from teaching to work in the office of legal counsel to the justice department
from 2001 to 2003. Many graduates and their families supported the protest by
wearing orange ribbons inside the Greek Theater.
Act Against Torture and other
groups will be continuing the campaign to oust yoo when school resumes in the
fall. Meanwhile, AAT is planning
its annual fourth of july guerrilla theater in san francisco on – you got it
– july 4.
For more info see www.ActAgainstTorture.org.
Epic in length but intimate
in scope — and certainly the most daring and sexually explicit portrait of
homosexual life in Egypt yet put on screen — Maher Sabry’s film evocatively
details the tribulations of 26-year-old Rami, an accountant and dance student
living in Cairo. Rami’s boyfriend, Waleed, has just ended their relationship
in order to get married. His best girlfriend Dalia is leaving Egypt for San
Francisco. And his doctor pal Kareem is pestering him to be more involved in the
city’s quasi-underground gay community.
As Rami pursues his own
romantic path of one-night stands with closet cases and fetishizing tourists,
Kareem is arrested in a police raid on a floating discotheque called the Queen
Boat (based on an actual incident in 2001, which catalyzed gay Egyptians and a
variety of international human rights organizations into action)
In his ambitious profile of
the multifaceted world of his main character, Sabry’s wide-reaching story also
includes a devout man living upstairs from Rami, who is trying to quell his
longing for women, and an unhappily closeted kid named Mina, who lives across
the way. All of these characters are portrayed with palpable compassion — and
often in various states of undress — with a variety of dramatic denouements.
A fascinating, if dispiriting, portrait of the current situation for gay Egyptians, All My Life represents a bold cinematic step forward and sets the benchmark for future explorations. — ROD ARMSTRONG
co-presented by Arab Film Festival, Queer Jihad
and South West Asian and North African Bay Area Queers
The SF school board is
holding a special meeting June 17 at which they are expected to vote to stop
giving physical education (PE) credit for JROTC classes. This will be a
significant victory, although only partial, for the counter-reecruitment
movement. Many students take JROTC to avoid taking PE, so JROTC enrollment will
The board is making this
change both in response to our campaign, and as a result of changes in state law
tightening PE requirements. JROTC instructors, all retired military officers, do
not have certification to teach PE
WE EXPECT THE PRO-JROTC
FORCES WILL MOBILIZE FOR THIS MEETING TO CHALLENGE THE BOARD’S DECISION TO
ABIDE BY STATE LAW. THE COUNTER-RECRUITMENT MOVEMENT MUST BE PRESENT AS WELL.
Of course, we would much
prefer that the school board end JROTC completely, now.
JROTC would be gone today if
the board held to its original December 2006 resolution.
We know that the military
will do everything in its power to keep JROTC and military recruiters in our
schools. Right now the pro-JROTC forces are circulating an initiative petition
for the November ballot, asking voters to declare themselves in favor of keeping
JROTC and the military in our schools, despite the ongoing illegal and immoral
war in Iraq.
JROTC must go!
EAST BAY COMMUNITY TOWN
HALL TO STOP THE SPRAY
Monday, June 23, 2008
7:00 pm -9:00 pm
Location: Lakeside Park Garden Center at Lake Merritt
666 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland,
Sponsored by Stop the Spray- East Bay and Pesticide Watch
February 1936, a left wing “Popular Front” government was elected in Spain,
establishing a new Republic. Five months later, general Francisco Franco and the
military forces of Spain rebelled against this government.
With the financial and material support of fascist dictators like Hitler,
Mussolini and Salazar (from Portugal), Franco’s troops marched across Spain.
Together with bomb attacks from the air, they devastated the countryside,
killing thousands of people. By November, Madrid was under siege.
Anti-fascists around the
world, including in the u.s. urged support of the legally elected
‘Loyalists’, while their governments urged neutrality, hoping that if the
fascists won in Spain, there wouldn’t be another world war.
Britain, France, Germany and Italy formed a ‘Non Intervention
Committee’ to prevent military supplies from reaching either side.
The end result of this Committee was that Hitler and Mussolini still sent
arms and troops to help Franco and the rest of the countries didn’t send
anything to anyone. The u.s. had
more than one reason not to support the government in Spain. The Popular Front
coalition of Republicans, Socialists and Communists was seen as synonymous with
Russia, a threat to american investments and trade.
The USSR was the only country
to send military aid to the new Republic. The International Brigades (IB) were
part of a plan by the Russian government to send a volunteer foreign army to
strengthen Spanish forces and defend Madrid. In Nov. 1936, the first IB fighters
arrived in Spain.
Anti-fascists in the u.s.
quickly organized public support for Spain. Communists, Socialists, Labor
leaders and many unaligned people raised thousands of dollars to send overseas
in direct defiance of the “moral embargo” imposed by Roosevelt’s
The American Communist Party
(CPUSA) started recruiting for volunteers to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
(ALB), part of the IB. People
joined the ALB for many different reasons, both political and personal, but they
were all anti-fascists – resisting the institutionalized violence against the
socially, culturally and sexually different; hoping to stop the spread of the
purification policies of Nazism.
In some ways, the IBs came to
symbolize future possibilities. The ALB was racially mixed, the 1st
time in u.s. history that Black and white people would fight together as equals.
On the other hand, women, both Black and white, were only recruited as nurses or
for support services, reflecting to the socially conservative gender norms of
the day. The view of gay people was also similar to the views of the time, made
more repressive by the policies of the CPUSA.
The official line was that homosexuality was a “bourgeois deviation
that derails from the main task – political change”. In the IB’s,
‘don’t tell, don’t act’ was the rule.
There were, of course, many gay volunteers in the ALB but they had to be
To me, it is an
incomprehensible contradiction. The Lincolns were known to have a huge sense of
loyalty and responsibility to each other as comrades, during the war and for
years after, and to their anti-fascist cause. Yet the prejudice and mistrust
against their gay comrades took an awful toll, especially when added to the
prejudice of society as a whole. There
is very little written specifically about gay people in the ALB.
Bill Aalto and David McKelvey White, 2 gay men in the ALB, were both in
leadership in Spain and when they came home.
Both committed suicide in the 1950’s and only a few close friends even
By the end of 1938, the
fascists had won and the International Brigades were withdrawn. Franco remained
in power until he died in the 1970’s. There were 2800 american volunteers
including 80 women. Nearly one third were killed and almost everyone who
survived had been wounded at least once. Many of the veterans remained activists
all their lives, fighting against support for Franco, challenging the McCarthy
witch hunts of the 1950’s and later being involved in the Civil Rights
Movements, raising money for the Sandinistas and marching against the wars in
Vietnam and Iraq. They “lost the war…but not their ideology”
(Milton Wolfe, last commander of the ALB) (Another popular saying was
“They won the war but we had better songs.”)
This article doesn’t begin
to cover all the aspects – political and otherwise - of the war in Spain or of
the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. For many more details, see Odyssey of the
Abraham Lincoln Brigade by Peter N. Carroll or Spanish Civil War. A very
Short Introduction by Helen Graham.
“It is better to die on
your feet than live on your knees” La Pasionaria AKA Delores Ibarruri, a
member of the Spanish Communist Party
One of the most critical
moments in history of thought and/or cultures were those moments when some
segments of “humanity” (or whatever we want to call this species) began to
believe that they could divorce themselves from the rest of the living world and
not only use the bountiful resources of this living planet but go much further
to exploit and dominate all other species. Of course some cultures never went
through this split and continued to see the reality that we are but one part of
the web of life on this planet. Unfortunately,
at this point in human history the split is well entrenched and the dominant
paradigm worldwide. This worldview allows some humans to trash the world
believing our trash and greenhouse gases won’t come back to bite us in the ass
(or choke us or drown us) later.
Dedicated ultraviolet readers
will remember a recent reference to the “plastic garbage island in the middle
of the Pacific Ocean” in this column. It has come to my attention that many
well-meaning radical activists are not taking this and other threats from our
everyday pollution and trash seriously enough. Therefore, I am dedicating this
edition to a more detailed look at plastic garbage, including balloons, and
their impact on the environment.
Plastic, including balloons
released into the air eventually kill birds and other marine life including
turtles and whales: from swallowing to entanglement. These facts have been known
For the latest information on
balloons and impacts to wildlife, check out the UK Marine Conservation Society
that just launched a new campaign regarding balloon releases (“Don’t let
go”) and has assembled a lot of the data and some very disturbing photos.
http://www.mcsuk.org/mcsaction/pollution/balloons . They
also explode the industry-sponsored myth that latex balloons are
“biodegradable” and therefore not a problem.
While the balloons may degrade into smaller pieces eventually but they
degrade more slowly in seawater and persist once in the gut of a bird, turtle,
whale or dolphin. Moreover, even a small piece of a balloon can block the
digestive track of a small animal. In
addition, the balloons transport the long balloon strings (many of them are tied
with plastic ribbons as well which don’t degrade and are difficult to cut
through with a beak) far and wide where they can tangle up and kill wildlife.
It turns out that the release
of balloons (black or in the colors of the Palestinian flag) were chosen by
Palestinians as a tool to express their outrage on the 60-year anniversary of
Israel and that the impacts to wildlife were raised by many people (including an
email writing campaign to the Palestinian consulate) these concerns were ignored
by those in Palestine as well as some of the local groups here in the bay area.
While LAGAI completely support the rights of the Palestinian to protest
and many of us also participated in the protests at the 60-year anniversary, the
use of balloons in this way ignoring the impacts to wildlife made us sick and
As the LA times reported a
few years ago in an article about plastics and wildlife, particularly migratory
birds and other marine life:
“This is pretty typical,”
said Klavitter, who is stationed at the atoll for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service. “We often find cigarette lighters, bucket handles, toothbrushes,
syringes, toy soldiers — anything made out of plastic.”
Check out the complete
article and the accompanying photo http://www.mindfully.org/Water/2006/Sea-Plague-Plastic2aug06.htm
If you have a strong stomach you might also want to check out these sites
for more information and links to many articles on the plastics and the marine
None of us are perfect at this and our society is currently set up to encourage maximum waste and maximum trash. So what is a good political activist to do? Reduce reuse recycle. Carry a refillable water bottle and your own cup with you wherever you go, refuse plastic bags, and reduce the number of plastic tubs and bottles that you purchase, finally, responsibly dispose of any plastic you do use, and don’t let go of balloons or other plastic trash wherever you are!
by Chaya and Deni with
waggles from Sparky
MOCHA COLUMN QUIZ: Match
the slogan with the organization
Forward into the past
2. Supportive, involved, committed, diverse, joyful, proud (with the rainbow flag as background)
3. Fruit forward makeover
4. United by pride, bound for equality
a. 2008 LGBT Parade slogan
d. Strawberry Shortcake doll (see Bits & Pieces below)
Skip to next paragraph
My Brother is an Only
Child (reviewed by Chaya and Deni)
A bunch of us went to see
this movie about a leftist working class family in Italy, set in the politically
turbulent time of the1960s and 70s. From the writers of “The Best of Youth”
(a big hit a few years back), the story is about 2 brothers. Manrico takes a job
with his left-leaning father at the local factory and becomes an activist, while
his younger brother Accio is kicked out of the seminary and falls in with a gang
of fascists. Numerous conflicts ensue. The film focused on the characters and
events in their lives, but didn’t show the nature of the government or why the
social unrest of the times spurred the formation of the Red Brigades. Kate
didn’t like that it took an ex-fascist to save the day. The pop songs in
Italian were fun, and one particularly entertaining scene features a performance
of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy in which the music students revised the words to
better suit their leftist politics. An interesting film.
The Visitor (reviewed
This movie, by director Tom
McCarthy (of “Station Agent” which we liked) is worth seeing despite its
[major] flaws. The cinematography of NYC makes you want to hop on the next
plane, carbon footprint and cost be damned. Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins) as a
depressed and disillusioned white Connecticut college professor, Tarek (Haaz
Sleiman) as a Syrian musician, Zainab (Danai Gurira) as his Senegalese artist
girlfriend, and Mouna (Hiam Abbass) as Tarek’s distraught mother all do an
excellent job of acting. The story, however, whose subtext is unfortunately yet
another version of how the “vibrancy” of people of color can turn life
around for a despairing white guy, is varyingly moving, enraging, and annoying.
As the plot develops to focus on Tarek’s unwarranted arrest and subsequent ICE
lock-up in an immigration center, it achieves more urgency and some room for
Tarek and Zainab to more deeply develop as characters, and for viewers to see
the pain and destruction the ICE policies can cause. But when Mouna comes and
becomes a romantic interest for Walter, things go downhill again. Walter
reclaims his soul at the movie’s end, drumming in the subway, yet the lives of
all three immigrants have been dismantled and destroyed. I wanted at least a
scene of an immigration rally, some way of portraying that along with this
fascist movement of deportations, there is resistance. As the Black Panthers
used to say, “Revolution has come, time to pick up the …” drum? But the
movie runs to personal transformation, not activist change. Which leaves people,
who may have had their eyes opened by the film to these terrible immigration
injustices, to do what exactly?
The Life Before Her
Eyes (reviewed by Deni)
This movie, starring Uma
Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood as older and younger versions of the same person,
is based on a Columbine killing prototype. The drama is supposed to lie in the
experience of two best friends who witnessed it and the aftermath for one of
them. Not that you were considering seeing it, but just in case – don’t. It
was really awful, varying between emotionally vapid, overwrought, shallow,
contrived and manipulative, with a constant replaying of gratuitously violent
scenes. The most interesting part was when Claire leaned over to tell me that
the other best friend, played by Eva Amurri, was Susan Sarandon’s daughter. I
am usually a strict no-talker in the movies, but this was a welcome relief from
the screen. But hey, it had been such a tough week that I wasn’t even sorry I
went. Still, if you have a tough week, find something else.
Roman de Gare (reviewed
Longtime French director
Claude Lelouch’s comedy-drama takes its time as it introduces characters,
throws them into various situations and cleverly manipulates them and the
audience. Who is the escaped serial killer? Who is the missing husband? Is the
young woman Huguette in trouble as she tries to deceive her family? Is the
stranger she picks up good or bad? And what about the Danielle Steel-type
novelist (played by Fanny Ardant) and her enigmatic ghostwriter? Written,
produced and directed by Lelouch, he allows the twists and turns of the story to
unravel in a suspenseful and at times provocative way. The media made a big deal
about how sexy and seductive Ardant is for a woman of her age (she was 58 when
the movie was made), and how an American movie would never have done that. Are
the French less ageist? Well filmed with excellent acting by Ardant, Dominique
Pinon as the mysterious stranger and Audrey Dana as Huguette, and nice touches
throughout such as the pop songs by Gilbert Bécaud. It’s not super deep, but
it’s definitely fun and well done.
The Ballast (reviewed
The one movie I saw at the SF
Film Festival was an excellent one. Written and directed by Lance Hammer, it was
beautifully filmed in the Mississippi Delta (magnificent opening shot with
birds) with excellent acting throughout. A compelling and moving story about the
lives of a small group of family and friends/enemies, it’s well worth seeing
if you can.
Further Thoughts on
There Will Be Blood (guest reviewed by Cole in the February issue)
We received Ultraviolet
reader Barney Jones’ comments on our guest review by Cole too late to include
in the last issue of UltraViolet. (Hey thanks, Barney, we love getting mail,
infrequent as it is!) Barney was puzzled by our review, saying that oil man
Plainview and preacher Sunday are really 2 sides of the same evil coin:
Plainview represents the dangers of capitalism and Sunday represents the dangers
of religion. “Given the nature of the film, I would have thought that
UltraViolet would have praised the film rather than dismiss it as simply
‘boring and violent.’” Reviewer Cole replies: “Thanks for sharing but I
still want my $10 back.” Any other readers want to comment?
Was in That Focus Group?: So
you’re American Greetings Properties and you want to update your Strawberry
Shortcake doll and cartoon character without making the horrendous mistake
Mattel made in 1993 when it introduced “Earring Magic Ken.” You remember him
— he had a pierced ear, blond highlights, a leather vest and a purple mesh
t-shirt, but oddly enough Mattel wanted him to stay in the closet. Seems like
Strawberry Shortcake is also having an identity crisis, she no longer connects
with today’s girls (she’s old-fashioned, she eats too much candy, she wears
bloomers for heaven’s sake!) even though she still brings in the big bucks
($2.5 billion in revenue since 2003). American Greetings has given her what it
calls a “fruit-forward makeover.” (We’re confused, wasn’t that Earring
Magic Ken?) She now prefers fresh fruit to gumdrops, and talks on her cellphone
instead of brushing her calico cat, Custard. Or is Custard going to be renamed
Vatican Says It’s OK to
Believe in Aliens: (This item is
dedicated to Deeg) The Vatican’s chief astronomer says that believing in
aliens does not contradict faith in god. The Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, director
of the Vatican Observatory and a scientific adviser to the pope, said that the
vastness of the universe means it is possible there could be other forms of life
beyond earth, even intelligent ones. In an interview headlined “The
extraterrestrial is my brother,” published last month by the Vatican
newspaper, Funes said that ruling out the existence of aliens would be like
“putting limits” on god’s creative freedom. “Aliens would still be
god’s creatures.” Our comment: Has there been a close encounter recently in
Rome? Sounds like they know something they’re not saying ...
Lesbians Say It’s Not OK
to Be Lesbians: Several citizens of
Lesbos have sued a gay group, hoping to prevent the gay women from calling
themselves lesbians in an effort to reclaim the word lesbian’s geographical
meaning of women from Lesbos (hail, Sappho). The Guardian reports: “We are
very upset that, worldwide, women who like women have appropriated the name of
our island,” said Dimitris Lambrou, a magazine publisher who is one of those
bringing the complaint with other islanders. “Until 1924, according to the
Oxford English dictionary, a Lesbian was a native of our isle,” he said. (Hey!
He’s not even a woman!) “Now, because of its new connotations, our womenfolk
are unable to call themselves such and that is wrong.” The court hearing
coincides with a highly charged national debate in Greece over gay rights. Last
week, police intervened when members of the far-right Golden Dawn group attacked
gay pride marchers in the biggest ever gay pride parade in Athens. Thousands of
supporters marched through the capital chanting “it is our right,” but were
pelted with eggs, flour and yogurt by the group. Yikes!
Utah Students Undergo Mock
Military Deployment: The AP reported
recently that a group of elementary school students at Hill Air Force Base in
Utah got to step into the boots of soldiers and experience a mock deployment.
The students, mostly from Hill Field Elementary and with at least one active
military parent, went through a mock deployment complete with mobility bags, dog
tags and gas masks. Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Lyon explained that “exposing the kids
to the process eases their fears about what happens to their parents.” Great,
let’s indoctrinate them as early as we can.
When Mr. Sulu (George Takei) marries longtime love Brad Altman in September,
several Star Trek castmates will participate in the ceremony: Walter Koenig (Chekov)
will be the best man and Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) will be the matron of
honor. Leonard Nimoy (Spock) will be among the 200 guests. But where will
Captain Kirk be? Not invited. Apparently William Shatner did not treat Takei and
most of the cast very well. We of course were invited (as close
friends and major media film critics), but declined to attend lest our
star-gazing be interpreted as pro-marriage.
WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF SPARKY SPARKY SPARKY WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF
What did Susan Sarandon
say to Tim Robbins on the way to the wedding chapel? Nothing. They’re not
do LAGAI-Queer Insurrection and the right wing have in common? Nothing. Which is
why we’re going to have to spend
time and energy fighting an anti-gay ballot initiative seeking to outlaw gay on
gay marriage in california. The struggle for queer liberation is pushed to the
wayside in the rush to the altar. In the meantime, maybe all these state
weddings aren’t such a bad thing. Schwarzeneggar can start taxing the rice
thrown at all these ceremonies. It’s not being used as a food item. That way
we can help secure the prison budget.
Many of us have dedicated ourselves to getting the state out
of, and keeping the state out of, our lives. Part of what queer liberation is
recognizes humans as humans and not units in a state ordered nuclear family.
However people arrange themselves romantically or sexually or economically or
whateverually should not require approval from a justice of the peace.
And what about the people, the human beings, who don’t get to be part
of a nuclear family? By its nature a nuclear family is exclusive. It’s the
fundamental building block of this very horrible society in which we try to
live. It’s used to dole out privilege and if you don’t have a membership
card, you’re fucked..
And we can’t even get a
quid pro quo. It would be less galling if neo-straights were required to include
in the recitation of their boy scout vows certain other provisions. “I promise
to honor and obey, to have and to blah, blah, blah...and I promise healthcare
for all, I promise the abolition of racism, I will not support the death
penalty, I will end sexism, I will seek economic justice, I will not give in to
heterosexism (and I get the irony), I will not go on my honeymoon in an SUV, I
Queer liberation is a
struggle for human rights. We are not alone on this planet, we are a part of it.
Queer liberation stands for freedom for Palestinians. It is the struggle
to end racism. We struggle against (or through) capitalism. And now the Wedding
Party is crashing our movement. They are taking our beautiful liberation and
forcing us to register at city hall. They will force us to buy wedding tribute
at the HRC registry (certified fair trade free). They are taking everything and
they tell us it’s for the better.
By the time you read this June 16 weddings will have begun. Four lesbians in New York will still be fighting for their freedom. Being poor will still be a criminal offense. War and planetary destruction will still be national policy. Married gay people will be taking children away from the children’s cultures for adoption. After all this, congratulations.
Our Liz TaylorTM line of pre-nuptial agreements have withstood challenge after challenge. We know your employees have worked hard for your money. You want to share your life, not your wallet.
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The Liz Taylor Marriage Separation Kit
Painless Adoption Now?
Ever since the ca supreme court approved gay marriage I’ve been
besieged by straight coworkers and distant relatives who’ve “been thinking
about” me. Crabby, how do I
tactfully explain that, just because I’m a lesbian, it doesn’t mean I’m
rushing down to city hall to tie the knot (which assumes that I’m in a couple,
which I’m not, which makes their “thinking of” of me all the weirder).
Will I be insulting these people if I tell them that, to me, gay marriage
is to straight marriage as chanukah is to christmas: like being invited to a
party I don’t really want to go to and hanging out with people who feel better
about celebrating because I’ve been included in their celebration.
Would they think me ungrateful if I suggested that state sanctioned
recognition of my right to couple isn’t enough, that I’m holding out for the
“and justice for all” part?
Help me out Crabby,
Bent Out of Shape
I’m with you; I hate it
when people are just happy to get their piece of the pie. It’s none of the state’s business who, if anyone, I
couple with and access to healthcare, immigration status and any of the other
many privileges state sanctioned marriage bestows should be accorded to people
regardless of marital status. (As
to your unhealthy obsession with being tactful, inoffensive and seemingly
grateful, Crabby says, “fuck it”.)
I sent my coworker
“Emily” an invitation to my wedding. (My partner Pat and I have been
together 13 years and feel that we’re still not complete). Emily still
hasn’t responded to our invitation. She knows how important this is to me. I
bring it up every time I see her. How can I let her know that her deliberate
indifference is ruining the most important day of my life?
Crushed in Crockett
With friends like Pat, who