Orange County--Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has unveiled her boldest plan yet for solving California’s fiscal crisis.
“We will do away with the public schools, the most wasteful institution in this most wasteful state,” vowed the former eBay CEO. “After all, when I’m done there will be no jobs in this state for people who do not have private educations. Not one. That’s what it takes to compete in the global economy. So why bother educating people for jobs that do not and will not exist?”
Instead of schools, Whitman will introduce a new program for children called Pennies for Pipsqueaks. “Kids as small as six years old can be used to replace those overpaid union workers,” she explained, beaming under her $400 page boy hairstyle. “And since the parents will not be spending their time in low-wage jobs, they won’t have to worry about who is going to watch the kids. Families will grow stronger by working together, picking up the trash and keeping the golf courses groomed.”
Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, who just returned from her foreign policy jaunt to Israel, lauded Whitman’s far-seeing approach. “I learned a lot from my Israeli hosts about the danger of coddling children,” Fiorina said. “Schools are breeding grounds for terrorists.” Fiorina added that as president of the technology giant Hewlett Packard, she tripled the amount of production work being performed by children in China.
Whitman welcomed Fiorina’s support, vowing that Republican women will soon turn the state from a cash sink into a cash cow. “We’ll show Governor Schwarzenegger and those other wusses who the girly men really are,” Whitman said.
Heard much about post-quake Haiti recently? What
about the voices of Haitian women?
A women’s delegation from SF WILPF and Haiti Action Committee recently visited Haiti. Their purpose was to hear directly from Haitian women about the impact of the Jan. 12 earthquake on their lives and to understand how they are responding. They met with hundreds of Haitian women and recorded their stories. Through slideshow and eyewitness reports, the delegation will report back on their findings.
The recent Prop 8 decision by Judge Vaughn Walker was greeted with great celebration in mainstream gay and lesbian circles. Defenders of gay marriage have been lovingly quoting entire sections of the decision and drawing some strange conclusions. For Jennifer Pizer, Lambda Legal’s “marriage project director” the decision proved that “Being gay is about forming an adult family relationship with a person of a same sex, so denying us equality within the family system is to deny respect for the essence of who we are as gay people.”
Those of us who have been gay or queer without marriage might wonder: Really? I mean, really? That’s the essence of who I am? Somewhere inside me is a married person just waiting to spring forth into my “essence?”
The fact that a major gay organization like Lambda Legal even has a “marriage project director” startles us because we thought that such organizations have always, in their totality, been a “marriage project.” The same is true, of course, for the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the myriad groups out there with “Equality” in their names. All of them have been so relentlessly focused on gay marriage as the ultimate mark of “full equality” that they have cast aside any concern for the numerous issues facing queers today: homelessness, especially among queer youth; a rise in HIV/AIDS rates; a lack of protection in the workplace as workers and as queers; a devastating lack of health care that has driven so many into bankruptcy… we could go on. Gay marriage has sucked away vital resources from these issues.
The problem is not simply that marriage is validated as a cultural norm but that it has, state, become the biggest guarantor of essential benefits. As the legal scholar Nancy Polikoff points out, the United States is unique in the industrialized world in this regard. We have lost count of the number of our friends who have been compelled to marry, despite their dislike of the institution, for the basic right to health care (and we know, of course, that not everyone these days even has such care guaranteed through employment).
In such ways, we see that gay marriage, by asserting marriage as both a formative social experience and a mandated way to live or die, is anything but a simple call to “full equality” (and we cannot help wondering what “half” equality might look like; is it like milk—is there, perhaps, such a thing as half or 2 per cent equality?) The fight for gay marriage ensures the expansion of a neoliberal state that puts the burden of life-ensuring benefits like health care onto the already weary shoulders of individuals.
For all these reasons, we are Against Equality.
So here we come, charging out onto the open road with our new anthology, Against Equality: Queer Critiques of Gay Marriage, to provide a much-needed antidote to the mainstream gay movement. While what feels like the entirety of the gay and lesbian movement is marching in unison towards some vague notion of equality, the Against Equality collective has been quietly assembling a digital archive to document the critical resistance to the politics of inclusion. This pocket-sized book of archival texts lays out some of the historical foundations of queer resistance to the gay marriage mainstream alongside more contemporary inter-subjective critiques that deal directly with issues of race, class, gender, citizenship, age, and ability.
The book includes fierce pieces from Kate Bornstein, Dean Spade, John D’Emilio, Kenyon Farrow, Yasmin Nair and many more. The book also comes with an Against Equality sticker and a set of postcards designed by the wonderful artists Chris Vargas, Beth Slutzky and Liz Kinnamon.
We will begin our tour in Portland, Maine on October 2 with a head-to-head community dialog between anthology editor Ryan Conrad and Connecticut Judge Jeffrey S. Busch (he sued CT for the right to get married and won). From there we work our way south to Washington DC doing book launches, panels and community dialogs using our work as a jumping off point. On October 9, we make our way to Chicago for an event with anthology editor Ryan Conrad and contributors Yasmin Nair and John D’Emilio. This event will begin the weeklong mid-west loop of our tour. This winter we also hope to reconvene our book tour shenanigans on the west coast for a few weeks. To keep up with all the events we have planned or to invite us to your city/town/university/bookstore/community space etc., find us online at www.againstequality.org.
Marilyn Buck died on August 3, just a few weeks after her long-awaited release from prison. She spent nearly half of her 62 years inside.
Marilyn was born in Midland, Texas in 1947. Her father was an Episcopalian minister and her mother a nurse. The family was active in the civil rights movement; when Dr. Buck desegregated his congregation crosses were burned on their lawn and he was removed as minister, although the congregation remained integrated. He became a veterinarian to support his family.
Marilyn attended the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Texas at Austin, where she became involved in organizing against the Vietnam War, as well as anti-racist activities. She joined Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and in 1967 moved to Chicago where she edited SDS’ New Left Notes and attended an SDS teacher-organizer school. With other SDS women she pushed to incorporate women’s liberation into the organization’s politics.
She then moved to San Francisco, where she worked with Third World Newsreel in outreach in support of Native American and Palestinian sovereignty, against U.S. intervention in Iran and Vietnam and in solidarity with the Black liberation movement. With colleague Karen Ross, she explained their practice: “We stop people on the street, and confront them with our films. Involve them as participants. It has come to them during a walk down the street, they’ve stumbled upon it. They have been confronted. The decision to watch, to register disgust or interest is now theirs. To those inquisitive, we explain more.”
In 1973 Marilyn was convicted on two counts of purchasing legal ammunition using false identification and sentenced to ten years in prison. In 1977 she was given a furlough from prison and went underground instead of returning.
In 1983, she was recaptured and convicted of aiding in the escape of Assata Shakur. She was later indicted, along with Susan Rosenberg, Tim Blunk, Linda Evans, Laura Whitehorn, Elizabeth Duke and Alan Berkman, in the Resistance Conspiracy case. They were accused of a series of bombings protesting United States foreign policy in the Middle East and Central America, and repression at home. The indictment described the goal of the conspiracy as being “to influence, change and protest policies and practices of the United States Government concerning various international and domestic matters through the use of violent and illegal means.” They were accused of bombing the U.S. Capitol, as well as the National War College at Fort McNair, the Washington Navy Yard Computer Center and Washington Navy Yard Officers Club, the Staten Island Federal Building, the Israeli Aircraft Industries Building, the South African consulate, and the offices of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. In 1990, Marilyn, Linda and Laura agreed to plead guilty in order to secure the release of Alan Berkman, who was battling Hodgkins disease.
In all, Marilyn was sentenced to over 80 years. After a few years in Marianna, Florida, she requested a transfer to Dublin, here in the Bay Area, where she had many friends. She finished her undergraduate degree and got a master’s in Poetics at New College of California, studying with Graciela Trevisan, a former member of LAGAI.
Some of her poetry was collected in a chapbook and released as the CD “Wild Poppies,” and in 2008, City Lights published State of Exile, her translation of the poems of exiled Uruguayan poet Cristina Peri Rossi. Marilyn’s introduction to the book was originally drafted for her master’s thesis.
Three years ago, Julie and Blue told me that Marilyn wanted me to visit her. I had known about her for years, of course. I knew that Blue and Julie regularly visited her in Dublin, I knew she was a poet and a life-long fierce antiracist activist. I knew that even other political prisoners and former prisoners talked about her with a type of reverence, which made me feel both honored and a little intimidated at the prospect of spending a few hours with her in the visiting room of a federal prison.
“Why does she want to meet me?” I asked.
“Because you do Palestine work,” Blue explained, “and she is very interested in that movement. And she likes that you started Act Against Torture.”
What I was unprepared for was how much fun she was. Since the moment we met, I felt a sisterly connection with her, although I think that part of that was simply her gift – to create an instant rapport with so many people. We talked about writing and politics, current events and her annoying roommates, the power struggles at KPFA, and Blue and Julie’s garden. Of course we also discussed the bizarre and delicate world of prison rules changes, cliques, and petty tyrannies. We gossiped about mutual friends and shared our admiration for her goddaughter, Gemma, a close friend of mine.
Gemma, who was with her at the time of her death, reflects, “Marilyn was really a feminist. I think she was always a feminist, but I also think that spending half her life in prison among women, seeing how they were treated and how many struggles they had, she became more of a feminist. She always told me that the most important thing for a woman was to be a feminist. But she wore so many hats, she was so many things to so many people, that her love for women and hatred of patriarchy are often overlooked.”
Marilyn was someone who took being an ally seriously. While she was in prison with Susan Rosenberg at Marianna, Florida, she was annoyed at some anti-Jewish comments made by some of the staff members, so she said she was Jewish. When she transferred to Dublin, that information was in her jacket, so she continued to celebrate Passover with the Jewish inmates. She was straight (though lots of men seemed to think she was a lesbian…), but was very outspoken in support of queer issues and stood with lesbian inmates against the homophobia of the prison system.
When she was finally given a parole date for August of this year, it seemed almost too good to be true. We all started eagerly planning and raising money for her release. She was excited about things like getting her first computer, learning to Google and use ATMs. She started thinking about what political work she wanted to do on the outside, and even about possible romances. Mirk and Gemma, with other friends, organized the huge Sparks Fly! fundraiser in March, which was attended by hundreds of people from all over the country and Puerto Rico. But at the same time, we got the terrible news that she had been diagnosed – after over a year of being undiagnosed and refused treatment – with a rare cancer called leiomyosarcoma. Though at first it seemed like the cancer was not too advanced, it later became clear that she was critically ill.
Her close friend and lawyer, Soffiyah Elijah, managed to get her released a few weeks early from the prison hospital in Carswell, Texas. Soffiyah and Barbara Zeller went to pick her up and take her home to New York. She was too ill to do many of the things she had looked forward to, but she did go to the Arboretum and enjoyed spending time with family and friends without having to be strip-searched.
Gemma says, “The prison system killed her. They misdiagnosed her, they refused her treatment, and when they did treat her, they shackled her. They only released her at the end so she wouldn’t die on their hands.”
I wish Marilyn had been able to enjoy many years of freedom. I was really looking forward to visiting her in New York and eating knishes instead of weird plastic-laced food products out of vending machines. I was so interested in seeing who she would become, what political work she would choose and how she would navigate the complex world of movement celebrity that she was destined to inhabit. I wanted to hear her perspective on the state of the movement and the world we are trying to change, so different from the one she left. I was interested to see if she could really settle into having relationships with men after so many years of not dealing with them in an intimate way. But most of all, I just miss her – her humor, her irreverent intelligence, her caring, the way she randomly sent articles from the New York Times that she thought I would like.
Blue says, “She was larger than life but she was so real. She was known all over the world. That had to affect her, but you could never tell. As soon as we met, it was like I’d known her my whole life. She could be serious and intellectual one minute, silly and funny the next. She was just a great-hearted person, and a privilege to have as a friend.”
Like the many others who loved her, I will always carry her in my heart.
I was a late bloomer. After more than a decade of anti-war activism, in 1980, I got arrested for the first time with two friends, our arms were handcuffed to the door of a recruiting station on market street. We had thrown red paint artistically across the door step and plastered the windows with flyers using evaporated milk (an old favorite that dries as hard as cement). We were protesting the beginning of the new draft registration policies and, just for good measure, all wars and violence. This was back when the peace movement was trying to stop wars. Now it seems so quaint—that we thought peace meant no war.
Our “peace” president is pursuing two wars with live soldiers and killer drones overseas and nearer to home along the Mexican border. Hearing Nixon’s 40 year-old ruse of “non-combat troops” dragged out and dusted off again in Iraq is nauseating. When US soldiers in uniform with guns are in another country and there is a war going on, please DON’T try to pretend that they are “advisors”. And the warmongers are still hoping to buy off the Queers by promising an end to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But Buffy Sainte-Marie singing Universal Soldier is running through my head– they can’t run a war without the soldiers.
Let’s get the queers OUT of Uniform, don’t let the “liberal” warmongers try to pink-wash the military.
1980 was also the year of the first plowshares action when on September 9, a group of radical Christian peace activists snuck into a missile assembly plant run by General Electric in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, hammered on warheads, and threw blood on the machinery. (1983 there was a pretty decent movie made about the trial —In the King of Prussia)
In 2009, Anne Montgomery, one of same activists from 30 years ago, now 83, and 5 others snuck into the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Tacoma Washington. They left a trail of blood, hammered on the roadway and fences around Strategic Weapons Facility – Pacific (SWFPAC), and scattered sunflower seeds throughout the base. The indictments were handed down this week – they are being charged with a litany of offenses from trespass and conspiracy to destruction of property and the US Attorney is seeking 10 year sentences. You can’t really blame the feds for being upset by the sunflower seeds and all—Oh yeah, and after 30 years of ploughshares actions it is even more embarrassing for the military to have to admit someone can sneak onto a military base--- OK not just someone, a bunch of old lefty Christian peace activists— ranging in age from 83 to 61. I’m really not being ageist, I’m just saying, maybe the navy’s security system on those nuclear warheads needs some re-thinking? Or, even better, let’s disarm those dangerous nuclear weapons NOW!
November 19-21, 2010 will be the 20th year of protests at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning Georgia. The school where generations of thugs and paramilitary from central and south america have been trained by the US military to terrorize their own people. The military changed the name but not the purpose of the “School of the Americas” in 2001, now it’s the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.” I guess they thought the silly peace activists wouldn’t be able to tell what it was if they changed the name?
Like the first saboteurs—throwing their wooden clogs into machinery of the industrial age— we all keep trying to do our part to jam the gears, to bend the gun barrels, to beat swords into ploughshares, to get queers out of uniform. Sometimes we get arrested, sometimes we sit in the streets, sometimes we sign petitions, sometimes we have benefits, sometimes we teach, sometimes we learn, sometimes we laugh while we make up new chants, sometimes we make dinner and listen to the news on the radio just trying not to cry or to throw things across the room in rage.
If I am lucky, I hope I will have decades more ahead for
creative nonviolent action— but what are the alternatives? World peace
(unlikely), apocalypse (possible), death and taxes (inevitable).
Queer people are central to religions across the globe. The antiqueer violence at the fundamentally inappropriate “world” “pride” several years back was an example of the ecumenical hatred of queer people. We shouldn’t feel a need to defend religion. The recently brewed biblical brouhahas coming out of central florida and new york, new york (this time) show how, even in this tough economy, there is a lot of (unpaid) work to be done. (if you’re interested in applying, send your resume to email@example.com.).
Terry jones isn’t the first Christian to advocate burning the Koran. It happens everyday in this country. He just happens to be the one nbc thought it appropriate to showcase on the today show. The Christians have a history with fire and brimstone. They’ve been burning things, and people, for a long time. Music, books, gays, jews, women. Hell, a lot of the white ones even burn crosses. Pray for the rapture, if only to get this particular brand of religious the heaven out of here.
A few months ago human rights activists demonstrating at the port of Oakland were able to prevent an Israeli owned ship from unloading its cargo in solidarity with the boycott of Israeli goods. That was an historic event that should have made headlines across the country with morning shows on all the major networks devoting entire episodes to coverage. Why does the press in this country devote resources to the actions of one racist, misogynist, homophobic, Christian-supremacist preacherman in a racist, misogynist, homophobic, Christian-supremacist country? Does it make sarah palin seem reasonable when she implies that this particular burning might be a little over the top?
Does it gloss over the creeping militarization in this country when david petraeus, wearing a general’s uniform, criticizes a civilian’s free speech? Mind, he did not say burning Korans is morally wrong, but that jones’ announcement was wrong because it could put u.s. troops in danger. (So far the only people to die in resulting protests have been Afghan civilians.) Is the purpose of the jones brouhaha to make it appropriate for the leader of a foreign power, Benjamin Netanyahu, to interfere in the internal affairs of the u.s. by criticizing the actions of a u.s. citizen in the u.s.? (yet another reason to stop sending money to Israel.)
This entire series of events seems manufactured and makes more normal the societal and institutional hatreds upon which this country is based. Why would anybody object to the construction of a community center? It’s not even getting government money (though john mccain and sarah palin did). The proposed Islamic community center in Manhattan has been so widely, and so negatively portrayed that most people in the country have an opinion on it (most a negative opinion). The follow-up question should have read, “can you locate New York City on a map?” Followed up for pollees in nyc, “Why did you vote for rudy Giuliani?
This all distracts from a federal budget that spends more on the military that the rest of the world combined. It distracts from a health care system that is killing us. It distracts from a series of governments that have been dismantling every sign of social progress made over the last 150 years. It distracts from that fact that I might actually have to vote for jerry brown for the first time in my life.
in 2000, Domestic Workers United [DWU] is an organization of Caribbean, Latina
and African nannies, housekeepers, and elderly caregivers in New York,
organizing for power, respect and
labor. Their organizing and the help of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA)
was responsible for the passage of the new Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights.
workers in New York are now guaranteed more rights than anywhere in the nation.
Governor David Paterson signed the Domestic Workers' Rights bill into law on
Sept. 1, 2010. It guarantees
overtime pay, a minimum of one day off every seven days, three days of paid
leave per year, and protections against sexual harassment and racial
discrimination. The bill also
mandates that a feasibility study be done to see if there is a possibility of
these workers unionizing.
The law covers
the estimated 270,000 domestic workers and is being hailed as a civil rights
victory since the majority of the workers are not only women, but also women of
applies to everyone regardless of their immigration status. Workers also do not
need to be "on the books" to be protected by the legislation. Domestic
workers will now also be able to take their employers to court and the state
Department of Labor and the attorney general will able to sue on their behalf,
as well. Members of DWU say they hope the new law is a first step toward larger
gains, like paid sick days, health benefits and severance pay.
New York is the first state in the U.S. to enact such sweeping protection for domestic workers. The NDWA is also planning a California campaign. Juana Flores, a former domestic worker who is now Director of a Bay Area immigrant women’s center Mujeres Unidas y Activas which runs the Caring Hands Workers Association said that the legislation sets a new standard for protecting vulnerable workers. A resolution recognizing the contributions of domestic workers (ACR 163) just passed the California legislature last week.
Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, co-author of the resolution in California expressed support for the Bill in New York and hopes California will be next. “This resolution is the first step in California towards improving the rights of the people who provide so much to our society and yet get so little reward.”
By Chaya and Deni with waggles from Sparky
Chaya: I really liked this sci-fi/caper/thriller about messing with someone’s mind through dream invasion. It’s original and clever, with fun visual effects. Hard to believe it’s Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to The Dark Knight, since it’s a million times more interesting and complex. Leonardo Dicaprio has grown a lot as an actor over the years. There were 2 good roles for women, done well by Ellen Page and Marion Cotillard, and a great supporting cast. Given how many bad movies there are, it was unexpectedly good. Don’t think about it too much, but see it.
Deni: I agree that it was visually entertaining but found it fairly shallow despite its grandiose attempts at complexity. It left me emotionally disconnected and slightly annoyed. I could barely remember it later - not a good sign. See it if you want, but don’t expect much depth.
Chaya: We eagerly went to see this film from writer-director
Debra Granik about a fearless teenage girl in the Ozark Mountains trying
to find her missing father. The poverty in the community is affected by the
social and economic dynamics of local meth labs. This family owns just one
thing, their ramshackle house, which dad put up for a bail bond. When he misses
his court hearing, the daughter starts looking for him so they don’t lose the
house. She discovers many highly disturbing secrets. Jennifer Lawrence gives a
stunning performance as the daughter, and we look forward to seeing her in more
movies. Described in reviews as a bleak, gritty drama, it draws you in
immediately and keeps you riveted through unexpected plot and character
developments. One thing that bothered me (Chaya): it’s a bit heavy handed on
the stereotype that all men are very violent toward women (did I really just
write that?). Deni didn’t feel that way about it at all. We both think it’s
an unusual and absorbing movie. See it.
Chaya: The kids may be all right, but the movie wasn’t. Got a
stereotype about lesbians? You can be sure it’s in this movie (controlling
butch, flakey femme, lesbians are alcoholics, femmes will sleep with a man at
the drop of a hat, lesbians are loving but idiotic at parenting, we’re all
just the same as heteros, etc etc). Even worse, these 2 lesbians are barely
shown having sex, but the minute the femme goes to bed with the guy the movie
turns into a graphic, nudie sexfest.
Being the good Hollywood liberal that she is, Annette Bening thinks the movie is a daring examination of gay marriage. But the acting chops of Annette, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo become pawns for today’s updated version of an old chant, “2-4-6-8, gay marriage is just as good as straight.” When I blinked, did I miss the revolution? Gay reviewer Fernando F. Croce put it succinctly: it’s a “faux-subversive movie that pretends to challenge traditional notions of gender and matrimony while in reality unquestioningly upholding the same bourgeois values.”
Deni thought a blog
post by Neisha made some sharp points about the film:
“Sorry, but she
[Julianne Moore] loved having straight sex and was thrilled when she saw the
p----. A fact that she may like women more (but based on what was showed in that
film, it completely doesn't look so, at least in sexual way) doesn't make her
lesbian, just bisexual with preference for women. You know, most bisexual I know
have preference for one sex.
is not just a label, but also a term with strict definition. When you're out of
that definition, using that term is simply a lie.
BTW, your "more modern type of identity" was used in movies for years and now not many people (especially men) treat self declared lesbians seriously (complete opposite about gay men's sexuality). And no wonder, as many self declared lesbians don't threat that term seriously.”
Back to us again. Does writer-director Lisa Cholodenko (a lesbian, who
gave birth to a son by using an anonymous sperm donor) really believe lesbians
are like this? Could she possibly believe that her depiction of lesbian family
life with children challenges social norms, or did she just sell out to
Hollywood? And who cares? Yuch. Cholodenko and her partner have 2
dogs, Rocket and Magnus. Too bad she didn’t stick with “The Dogs Are All
Right,” though Sparky fears that may have turned out just as badly, even with
While public schools go unfunded, teachers get blamed for the mess
public education is in, and testing standards and consequences get raised, here
are some items you’ll be tested on later.
Speak Softly and Carry a Laptop: We recently heard that at SF
City College, there is a Public Speaking class requirement, not a bad thing when
you consider that fear of public speaking often ranks at the top of many
people’s major life fears. However, this Public Speaking class is given ON
LINE. No practicing with real people or developing your speaking skills in small
and gradually larger groups. You do the course work online and only speak in
front of real live people on the 5 days you have to give your speeches. That’s
sure to alleviate those fears!
But Don’t Let
the Evidence Fool You: In June, the
Chicago Tribune reported that Chicago Public Schools' efforts to link teacher
compensation to student achievement has done little to improve test scores or
retain teachers. The study by the research group Mathematica shows that schools
selected for the Chicago Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) "are performing
no differently than schools that did not implement the program." One of the
participating schools has even "been closed for poor performance."
Probably not the one Chicagoan Arnie Duncan sent his kids to… But let’s keep
that merit pay coming.
A Decade Late and A Dollar Short: In a stunning show of respect and deep understanding of the educational budget crisis in San Francisco, the SF Chamber of Commerce and local businesses and banks are placing collection boxes in Walgreens for your pennies, nickels, and dimes. But don’t delay in contributing – it’s called The Coin Rush and is for three weeks only! The boxes will also be placed in schools in SF and South SF, giving the underserved and underfunded schoolchildren themselves a chance to pay for their books and pencils. "If you do the math," said Chamber of Commerce CEO Steve Falk, citing a U.S. Mint estimate that $80 million worth of pennies alone are circulating or unaccounted for in the Bay Area, "we can see that collecting pennies, nickels and dimes can add up to a significant amount for our schools." To show how Steve developed his commitment to respect and equity, a little background is in order: “My first job was dressing up as an Amish boy at the age of nine so that tourists from New York City could take a picture of me,” said Falk, a native of Lancaster, PA. “I wasn’t Amish, but I was able to save up a few dollars. Hey, it was a good experience, and I couldn’t knock the pay.” Perhaps this time, Steve can dress as a PIGgy bank and stand in Walgreens himself!
Sparky Wants to Apply: In August, the Associated Press reported on programs
that use dogs to help children improve their reading skills. Carol Kellerman,
coordinator of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society's Reading to
Rover program (we honestly didn’t make this up), said that a dog's presence
helps create a "relaxed, nonjudgmental atmosphere" in which a child
can feel comfortable reading. The AP added that "canine mentors have been
proven to lower children's anxiety, which helps boost literacy skills."
Dogs chosen for Reading to Rover program "must first pass good citizenship
training through the American Kennel Club, and are screened through the shelter
to work with children." The program allows students 20 minutes of reading
time with the dogs each week. Finally, a program we can get behind. Sparky wants
you to know that under no circumstances will any Rovers administer standardized
A Small Leap for Hollywood: In late August, a new cultural hall in the West Bank settlement of Ariel drew international attention when a group of Israeli actors, directors and playwrights refused to perform in the facility in protest of their country's policies toward Palestinians. Just when we were feeling pissed off at Julianne Moore, we found out that she is one of a handful of Hollywood personalities who are supporting this action by signing onto a statement by Jewish Voice for Peace. Others include Vanessa Redgrave, Cynthia Nixon, Ed Asner, Wallace Shawn, Mandy Patinkin and Focus Features chief executive James Schamus. Additional signers of the statement are some prominent U.S. theater artists including Tony Kushner, Harold Prince, Eve Ensler and more. We guess Susan Sarandon wasn’t home when they called.
FBI Chief Not Sure How Many Agents Cheated on Test: FBI Chief Robert Mueller testified to Congress recently that he has no idea how many agents cheated on an important exam about the Bureau’s policies. The Justice Dept is investigating whether hundreds of agents cheated on the test. Some agents took the open-book test together, in violation of the rule that it be taken alone. Other cheating methods are being examined. The point of the test is to ensure that FBI agents understand new rules allowing them to conduct surveillance and open files on Americans without evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Chief Mueller assured Congress that despite the investigation into cheating, the FBI understands the rules and is following them. How do we satirize this? Gee, sometimes these bits and pieces just write themselves!
WOOF WOOF RUFF RUFF SPARKY SPARKY SPARKY RUFF RUFF WOOF WOOF
It was a busy summer for queer anti-Zionists.
Locally, about 150 queers and allies protested the opening night of the San Francisco LGBTQ Film Festival presented by Frameline. This year, for the first time since 2007, the israeli consulate was a sponsor of the festival. Apparently Frameline, which after being besieged by post cards organized by QUIT! had tried to sidestep the issue, was pressured to accept israeli consulate sponsorship as part of its Brand Israel campaign (see last UV). The Brass Liberation Orchestra was on hand to liven up the protest, which filled the sidewalk in front of the Castro Theater as the gay glitterati lined up for the festivities. Most people haughtily ignored us, some took fliers, and a few actually asked what was going on. We got a snarky mention from Leah Garchik in the SF Chronicle (though I’m of the no-such-thing-as-bad-press school), as well as some good media including a great article in the SF Bay Times.
Our Neighbors to the North got a much more tempestuous response when Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in Toronto signed up for their annual contingent in the Pride parade. Suffice to say, the City Council got involved with a resolution threatening to cut off funding for the parade if QAIA was allowed to march (just one more reason why queer institutions shouldn’t be funded by the government). Pride kicked out QAIA, dignitaries and honorees started boycotting Pride, QAIA organized a flash mob protest and lo and behold, Pride backed down and QAIA had to – sorry, that’s got to – march after all.
In solidarity, and because we were already planning a Queers Out of Uniform/Ban the Military contingent, we decided to march as well, carrying No Pride in Israeli Apartheid signs. Of course we got the usual smattering of raised middle fingers but we also got a lot of applause and clenched fists. Not surprising, given that israel had just killed nine internationals and wounded dozens more in the raid on the Freedom Flotilla.
Meanwhile, the Zionist thugs called Stand With Us fanned the flames by announcing plans to conduct a workshop at the u.s. Social Forum on “LGBTQI Liberation in the Middle East.” Arab queers around the world, led by members of Al Qaws and ASWAT in Palestine and Helem in Lebanon, organized to stop this cynical appropriation of their struggles. They quickly convened a broad international e-list and drafted a statement to be read and distributed at the USSF, including during the Stand With Us workshop, if it was allowed to take place.
The statement says in part: “Stand with Us has no connection with the LGBT movement in the Middle East apart from ties to Zionist Israeli LGBT organizations, yet it claims to speak for and about our movements. It has no credibility in our region, and as organizations working in and from the Middle East, we condemn its attempt to use us, our struggles, our lives, and our experiences as a platform for pro-Israeli propaganda.
“We refuse to be instrumentalized by anyone, be it our own oppressive governments or the Zionist lobby hijacking our struggle to legitimize the state of Israel and its policies, thus providing even more fodder for our own governments to use against us. If you want to learn about our movements and struggles, engage with us, rather than with those who will use us as pawns in Israel’s campaign to pinkwash its crimes.
“The inclusion of Stand With Us at the USSF is an egregious oversight on the part of the forum … given that it violates its own principles of anti-racism, uniting oppressed communities, prioritizing marginalized voices, and opposing US foreign policy. The USSF should be held accountable to its own standards.”
International and u.s. queers mobilized to demand that the Social Forum not allow its space to be used to promote land theft and denial of human rights. The USSF, with surprising support from some anti-zionist activists, contended that it would be more disruptive to exclude Stand With Us, because it would expose them to charges of censorship. However, after serious organizing by u.s. and Palestinian queers, on the first day of the USSF, the forum leadership voted unanimously to cancel the workshop.
All of this brought the issue of “pinkwashing” – using israel’s allegedly pro-queer policies to justify its attacks on Palestinian rights – to the attention of some mainstream left media. While our friends at Democracy Now! predictably ignored the issue, there was a good column in the UK Guardian online (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jul/01/israels-gay-propaganda-war), which mentioned QUIT!’s Frameline campaign, and even a photo in a recent special section of Tikkun dedicated to queer politics. This no doubt helped to persuade author/cultural worker Sarah Schulman to become the most prominent queer artist to join the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement. Schulman is organizing a tour for two members of Aswat and Al Qaws in February. The activists want to speak to mainstream queer communities and demand that north american queers say NO to pinkwashing.
Workers around the world have been joining the call to blockade Israeli ships from being unloaded, in essence creating their own blockade to protest the blockade of food and humanitarian supplies Israel has placed on Palestinians in the Gaza strip. Calls for boycotts against Israel intensified in the wake of the flotilla raid.
In June, the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), the General Union of Palestinian Workers (GUPW), the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (IFU), and several other organizations produced a call for dockworkers to refuse to unload Israeli ships. This appeal was significant because it gave the basis for dockers to respond, knowing that the call came from fellow workers. The joint union appeal called specifically for transport and dock workers and unions around the globe to refuse to load/off-load Israeli ships and airplanes.
On June 20,
more than 800 labor and community activists including QUIT! and LAGAI, staged
an early morning rally at the port of Oakland as an Israeli ship was scheduled
to arrive at the port. They chanted “Free, free Palestine! Don"t cross
the picket line!” Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union
Local 10, agreed not to cross the picket line and off-load the ship for 24
Over a dozen unions or state branches of unions in Australia have adopted resolutions condemning Israel’s attacks on the Palestinians and their supporters. These include the national bodies of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, which have also endorsed aspects of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. The first union body to adopt the BDS campaign was the Western Australian branch of the Maritime Union (MUA) in January 2009, directly inspiring South African unionists in turning away an israeli Zim line cargo ship around in Port Durban.
On the 29th of June 2010, the Swedish Dockworkers’ Union
ended the week-long blockade against goods to and from israel. .The
Dockworkers’ locals around the country had identified and blocked containers
with a total weight of approximately 500 tons.
The practical implementation of the blockade has gathered widespread international attention, which has contributed to refocusing media and public attention on the suffering of the Palestinian people subject to the israeli blockade of Gaza.
The Swedish Dockworkers’ Union has also informed the Swedish Ship to Gaza-organization and others, that if aid ships to Gaza wish to depart from Swedish ports in the future, the union will organize teams of workers to handle the loading on voluntary basis. The Dockworkers’ Union will also work towards making the employers provide cranes, space and other necessary resources for such loading free of charge.
Dockworkers at the major Indian port of Cochin are refusing to unload Israeli cargo in protest of Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip. The port of Cochin, in the state of Kerala, is one of the biggest ports in India. Leaders of at least five port unions and the Water Transport Workers Federation of India expressed the unity of Cochin Port workers with the growing world-wide boycott.
The Olympia Food Co-op has set a historic precedent by becoming the first US grocery store to publicly join the global grassroots campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it ends its human rights violations and oppression of the Palestinian people. Coming a few short weeks after Israel’s lethal attack on the Freedom Flotilla and in light of its ongoing illegal siege on Gaza, the Co-op’s decision to boycott all Israeli products reflects the growing sentiment in international civil society, including in the US, that ending Israel’s impunity and pressuring it to comply with its obligations under international law have become of undeniable urgency.
Last year, the popular Swedish clothing manufacturer H&M decided to open seven stores in Israel. In response, a network called “Isolate Israel” has carried out a “coup” (their word) on the clothing price tags.
A Swedish newspaper reported: “Several price tags on different articles of clothing in H&M’s store in Helsingborg have today been exposed to vandalism and a call to boycott the entire brand. A new sticker has been glued on the regular price tag with the message to boycott the store as they plan to open seven stores in Israel.”
The new price tag says: “Israel is today criticised more harshly than ever for the occupation of Palestine. At the same time, H&M chooses to open seven stores in that country and thereby fund and profit from the occupation. We are many who demand that H&M should abort their establishment in Israel. If you also support solidarity with Palestine, you should choose to shop somewhere else. Solidarity is free. Boycott H&M”
H&M has retaliated by reporting the coup to the police. “One way to get Israel out of Palestine is to boycott Israeli goods,” said a member of Isolate Israel. Our actions perhaps do not make so much of a difference that we can see the change with our own eyes. But we want to raise an opinion for a change in the future.”
Aug 23rd 2010 - The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) has divested from two Israeli companies, Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus, over their involvement in construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank . A government statement quoted the Norwegian Minister of Finance Sigbjørn Johnsen as saying “these companies are contributing to or are themselves responsible for grossly unethical activity.” This decision follows the Norwegian Ministry of Finance’s move one year ago to exclude Israeli military contractor Elbit Systems Ltd. from the Governmental Pension Fund due to the company’s integral involvement in Israel’s construction of the illegal Wall on occupied territory . That move provoked a domino effect among financial institutions.
On July 29, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) delivered a petition to Dunnes Stores signed by 6,000 shoppers across Ireland. The petition demands that Dunnes Stores stop stocking Israeli products, until Israel respects Palestinian rights and international law. Present at the handing-in were Brendan Archbold, the trade union official at the centre of the 1980s Dunnes strike when workers refused to handle South African goods, Freda Hughes IPSC National Chairperson, Aengus O'Snodaigh of Sinn Fein along with supporters of the campaign and members of both the Palestinian and South African communities in Ireland.
The petition has been signed by over 6,000 shoppers in a two-week blitz that has seen Palestine solidarity activists enlist the support of Dunnes’ customers across the country. Signatures have flooded in from Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Derry, Limerick, Galway, Kilkenny, Newry, Wexford, Waterford, Bantry, Gorey, Enniscorthy, and Sligo. In many locations around the country, solidarity activists presented their local Dunnes' managers with copies of the petitions they have collected.
Hewlett Packard Company, which is based in Palo Alto, makes the Basel biometric scanning technology used by the israeli military at checkpoints in the West Bank and Gaza. Basel is also used by Homeland Security and Immigration & Customs Enforcement in this country. HP is one of the largest u.s. military contractors and also sells computers to the israeli government.
Local BDS groups have agreed to develop a campaign targeting HP for boycott and sanctions. While the strategy is still being crafted, we decided to kick things off with a little Back to School action at Office Depot and Best Buy on Labor Day.
With the BLO providing great sound, about 40 activists invaded the busy Emeryville stores during their holiday sales, singing a version of Aretha’s “Think” with a dance reminiscent of the Electric Slide. Shoppers and staff members were mostly captivated, taking photos and video with their iPhones. Even the cops were pretty supportive.
Watch the entertaining video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcczW696NNE (and take time to rate it high! because you know the zionists are going to load it up with negatives).
Carlos Alberto Torres was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1952 and grew up in Chicago. Carlos was one of the founders of the Rafael Cancel Miranda Puerto Rican High School now known as the Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School and participated in the Committee to Free the 5 Nationalists (including Lolita Lebron).
In 1976, Torres was forced to go underground and was on the FBI's 10 most wanted list. He was captured along with other comrades and sentenced to 88 years on charges of seditious conspiracy, among other charges. Carlos Alberto is a regular writer for Libertad and his short stories have been published in Cuentos Sara la Libertad.
paroled July 26th from a federal prison in Illinois on charges of
seditious conspiracy and carrying a firearm. He was not charged with any
bombings, but was convicted for being part of the group. In pushing for parole,
his supporters labeled him a "political prisoner" who had served an
worked as a community organizer on Chicago's Northwest Side during his youth,
said he understood why some would still harbor ill feelings toward the FALN
activists. "That is the past, and the past cannot change. We can only
impact the moment of the present and the future.”
Human Rights Network said supporters are hoping to raise at least $15,000.
Torres has few possessions beyond painting and ceramic supplies
accumulated in prison.
now pushing for the release of the lone remaining FALN activist in prison, Oscar
Lopez Rivera, brother of Jose Lopez, the well-known executive director of the
Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Humboldt Park.
supporters greeted Mr. Torres in San Juan Puerto Rico, as he returned from
nearly 30 years in prison. The crowds of people waved Puerto Rican flags and
promised to keep struggling for Puerto Rican independence.
In July, AIDS researchers announced the results of a trial of a vaginal gel microbicide containing tenofovir. The Phase II clinical trial conducted in South Africa found a reduced risk of HIV infection in women. After over a decade of research, this is the first time there has been even a moderately successful trial of an anti-HIV microbicide.
In the late 1980s some AIDS advocates began pushing for methods of infection prevention that could be used by women if necessary without detection by their sexual partner. Although condoms are a very successful means of preventing infection, men often refuse to put them on their penis. Their partners, including women, men and trans people often do not have the power to insist on condom use. In other cases, condoms are not available.
The 1990 U.S. National Conference on Women and HIV Infection recommended the "develop[ment] of better barrier/contraceptive methods and virucides which are effective, safe and acceptable to women", adding that “methods which are woman-controlled and may be used without detection by their sexual partners" are “especially needed”. The term microbicides is used to mean gels, foams and similar products that are applied directly to the vagina or rectum to prevent infection. Another term, “pre-exposure prophylaxis” or PrEP is used to refer to people taking oral antiretroviral (ARV) drugs before engaging in unsafe sex or other risky behavior.
In the 1980's there had been some hope that the spemicide nonoxynol 9 (N-9) which had been used in condoms and lubes, would help to prevent HIV transmission. But studies found that it was toxic to rectal tissues. A UN sponsored study in Africa from 1996 to 2000 of 1000 sex workers found that those who used N-9 had an increased risk of HIV infection. Community pressure has forced the removal of N-9 from most condoms and lubes.
Throughout the 1990's women’s health advocates continued to pressure the CDC and World Health Organization to develop microbicides, and in 1998 the Global Campaign for Microbicides was formed. The first products, which were similar to detergents failed to prevent HIV transmission. Six of the current trials are using ARV drugs in a gel or similar product.
The study that was announced at the 2010 International Conference on AIDS in Vienna screened 2160 women at one urban and one rural clinic in KwaZulu-Natal South Africa between May 2007 and January 2009. 536 of them were already HIV positive and were excluded from the study, along with another over 500 women excluded for various reason. 1085 women were randomized to receive either the gel containing tenofovir or a placebo. All participants were provided with HIV prevention services, including HIV testing and counseling, condoms, treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and reproductive health services.
The results from the 889 women who completed the study were reported in terms of new HIV infections/outcomes per woman-years in the study. Overall, the women on tenofovir had 39 percent lower incidence rate, although the incidence rate for the tenofovir group was still 5.6 per 100 woman-years. Over a five year period, that incidence rate means that a woman using the gel would have an almost 25 percent chance of contracting HIV. This is better than the 38 percent chance of women using the placebo, but it isn’t great odds. It is also interesting to note that the placebo group had declining HIV incidence rates throughout the study, possibly due to the HIV prevention services such as condoms and education.
There are several concerns about ARV microbicides. The first is that studies may exaggerate the effectiveness of the microbicide by failing to detect new infections if the ARV suppresses HIV reproduction until the woman stops using the microbicide. Another concern is that use of the ARV microbicide may create drug-resistance to that class of drugs, particularly if the microbicide is used after infection develops. Drug trials try to prevent resistance by testing participants every month, and stopping use of the microbicide immediately upon detection of infection. But it is unlikely that people using microbicides if they are approved for general use will be tested that frequently. Therefore the studies are probably not predictive of the ability of ARV microbicides to cause resistance.
It is odd to think that a product that still leaves users with a 5.6 percent chance of contracting HIV each year is a great step forward. In South Africa women are most at risk of HIV infection, and heterosexual sex is the predominant route of transmission. In the u.s. men who have sex with men still outnumber other groups for new HIV infections, but women, particularly African American women and other women of color, and poor women, are an increasing percentage. It is hard to understand why men just can’t use a goddamn condom. And if the given in the situation is that (insertive partner) men’s behavior, power, and privilege won’t change, what else can the women and men who have receptive sex with them hope to do but try to protect themselves the best they can.
Most of the current trials are for vaginal microbicides. However, a study announced at the May Microbicides 2010 conference in Pittsburgh found that commonly used lube products damaged rectal cells, possibly making users more vulnerable to HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections. Six of the most commonly used lube products were evaluated for toxicity. Four water-based lubes were found to strip away cells on rectal tissue – Astroglide, Elbow Grease, ID Glide and KY Jelly. Water-based PRe and silicon-based Wet Platinum scored well in that study. It is believed that the four toxic products had more dissolved salts than the body’s tissues (hyperosmolar), and therefore drew water out of the cells.
A separate study analyzed a group of 229 men who had engaged in receptive anal intercourse (RAI) within the previous month, and 192 women who had engaged in RAI during the previous year. It asked about sexual behavior and tested them for chlamydia and gonorrhea. It found that 76 percent used water based, 28 percent used silicon-based and 17 percent used oil-based lubricants, often in combination. Men and women who had used lube at the last recorded RAI were about twice as likely to have chlamydia and gonorrhea as those who did not use lube. However, “dry” sex is more damaging to tissues, so reading these two studies together suggest that it is important to choose a lube that is isotonic or silicon based, and is compatible with condom use.
of Control—Lesbian Committee to Support Women Political Prisoners September
Tribute to Marilyn Buck (1947–2010)
I survived, carried on, glad to be like a weed, a wild red poppy rooted in
August 3rd, 2010, longtime political prisoner and acclaimed poet and translator
Marilyn Buck, 62, passed peacefully at her home in Brooklyn, NY. A few short
weeks earlier, on July 15th, Marilyn had been released from the federal Bureau
of Prisons medical facility in Carswell, Texas and paroled to New York City.
Thanks to the efforts of her long-time friend and lawyer Jill Soffiyah Elijah,
her release came several weeks before the date originally set for her release on
parole, August 8th.
Marilyn served a total
of 33 years of an 80-year prison sentence for politically motivated actions
undertaken in support of self-determination and national liberation and in and
in opposition to racial injustice and U.S. imperialism. Throughout her years in
prison, Marilyn remained a steadfast supporter of fellow political prisoners and
an advocate for the women with whom she was imprisoned.
Marilyn earned several educational degrees, including a Bachelor of Arts in
psychology and Master of Arts degrees in poetics. She published several books of
poems including Rescue the Word (Friends of Marilyn Buck, 2001), Wild Poppies,
original poetry by and for Marilyn Buck (audio CD, Freedom Archives, 2004), and
the highly acclaimed State of Exile, by Cristina Peri Rossi and Marilyn Buck
(City Lights, 2008). Her poetry and essays have been printed in a wide variety
of journals and books. In recent years she was preparing a new collection of
poetry, to be published early next year under the title Inside Shadows.
involved in the civil rights and anti-war movements and joined the Students for
a Democratic Society (SDS) during her college years at the University of Texas
at Austin and the University of California, Berkeley. In the following years she
became an active supporter of the Puerto Rican, Native American and Black
liberation struggles in this country. She was a consistent and outspoken
advocate of liberation and equality for women.
Near the end of 2009,
Marilyn was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Despite surgery and
chemotherapy, treatment came too late to save her life. Marilyn is survived by
three brothers, three sisters-in-law; several cousins, nieces and nephews;
Soffiyah Elijah, and other loving friends worldwide, including prisoners,
political prisoners, prisoners of conscience and political exiles. Her parents,
Dr. and Mrs. Louis Buck, both pre-deceased her.
To learn more, please
visit marilynbuck. com and marilynbuckpresente.org. Memorial gatherings include:
Oakland, November 7, at the First Unitarian Church on 14th Street from
4:00–7:00 pm; and New York City, November 13, 4:30–7:00 pm, at the Malcolm X
and Betty Shabazz Center, 3940 Broadway, Manhattan. A commemorative ad booklet
is being developed in Marilyn’s honor, publicizing the memorial gatherings and
raising funds to benefit six political prisoners incarcerated in New York State.
For information on how to submit an ad or questions: mbtributebook@ gmail.com.
from her poem “Wild Poppies.”
I saw your photo in the newspaper
between sinister sun-glassed security agents,
two women in double breasted suits
cruelty pressed upon their lips.
were labeled the terrorist.
I’ve seen many photos like that
shot from below
looking up the nose
snapped when the lower jaw is dropped
and the teeth are bared.
would look fiendish
shot from below.
may be contrivances
one one-hundred-and-twenty-fifth second
of the subject’s existence
to depict reality.
Yes, photography is an art
an inception and or deception.
can not be captured
by a single click of the shutter.
in Syracuse Peace Letter
Linda and her love
bloom on lips
which have already spoken
stolen clandestine kisses
a prisoner kisses
she is defiant
she breaks the rules
she traffics in contraband womens kisses
a crime wave of kisses
bitter sweet sensuality
flouting women-hating satraps
in their prison fiefdoms
can not be arrested
you planted a tree
to fill in the deep well
of my absence
that tree would be
thirteen springs high
high enough to relieve
the relentless sun of incarceration
strong enough to bear
the weight of children
who might have been born
had I not been seized
from your life and plunged
into this acid-washed crypt
of perpetual loss
and high-wired vigilance
but there is no tree
that stands in my place
to harbor birds and changing winds
perhaps someone will plant
a willow a eucalyptus
or even a redwood
any tree that will
in thirteen years more
bear fruit and provide shelter
Rican national heroine, Lolita Lebron, who was jailed a quarter century in
Alderson Federal Prison for leading a commando attack on the Congress, died
August 1 in San Juan. She was 89. In 1954, Lolita and three other nationalists
entered the U.S. Capitol with automatic pistols and opened fire from an upstairs
spectators’ gallery. They unfurled a Puerto Rican flag and Lolita shouted, “¡Viva
Puerto Rico libre!” Their action sought “to denounce to the world the farce
of the Commonwealth,” a system of government that had been imposed in 1952 to
remove Puerto Rico from the list of U.S. colonies. Lolita and her comrades
remained imprisoned for 25 years before being pardoned in 1979 by Pres. Jimmy
Carter following an international campaign.
her release, Lolita continued her involvement in pro-independence activities,
including the Navy–Vieques protests, until her last breath. Relatives stated
that only the deterioration of her health prevented her from being present at
the welcoming home of former Puerto Rican political prisoner Carlos Alberto
Torres, August 26. According to Maria de Lourdes Santiago, a member of the
Puerto Rican Independence Party, “Lolita was the mother of the independence
movement. This is an insurmountable loss.”
15 years in Peruvian prisons, New York native Lori Berenson was granted
conditional parole in May, 2010. She was convicted for alleged involvement in
activities linked to the Tupac Amaru, a Peruvian revolutionary organization.
in August 2010, just three months after her release- prosecutors and a
three-judge panel agreed that there were errors in the parole ruling. They took
away her parole and sent Berenson back to prison.
During a subsequent interview with CNN , President Alan Garcia said that while he understands many Peruvians feel Berenson should complete her 20-year term, there are other factors that must be weighed, including relations with Washington and U.S. public opinion. Garcia, indicated that he may commute Lori’s current sentence. “Berenson is not a threat to Peru,” Garcia stated. “That’s over. It’s part of the past. How much can Peru really fear a woman who spent 15 years in prison? She has a little boy, and that moves me a lot.” He would not, however, indicate when he will make a decision about granting clemency.