LAGAI, long known for its support of the international capitalist system and imperialism, recently announced that it could no longer go along with a system that would “reach into the people’s bank accounts and steal their money.”
Karat R explained that the group had been shocked by the EU/IMF/ECP move to bail out the two largest banks in Cyprus by confiscating 6.7 percent of every single savings account.
“I thought capitalism was all about private ownership. How can they just take people’s stuff,” she asked, looking a bit dazed.
Karat explained that the group had hung in with capitalism through the Ten Plagues of aids drug profiteering, health care, housing, destruction of social programs and public education, pension theft, bankrupting of social security, invasions and genocide in Asia, Latin America and Africa, destruction of the environment, workplace deaths and diseases, slavery, the prison-industrial complex, and nuclear disasters.
“But,” she explained, “invading the sacrosanct private banking system is the very last straw.”
George, a government employee, said that he had been appalled to learn that state regulation could not protect private property under capitalism.
“I knew that regulations couldn’t keep the environment safe, couldn’t keep workers safe, couldn’t keep food safe, and hell, couldn’t even keep people from dying from hospital acquired infections, but I never thought they couldn’t keep money safe! This is the last straw.”
Victory B, another member of LAGAI, said that she is appalled that capitalism in 2013 has led to the greatest disparity between rich and poor in the United States in 40 years.
“I am a nurse,” B said. “Hand me my picket sign.”
To determine the next steps in its reorientation, LAGAI is negotiating with Bob Avakian, spiritual leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, to come give an intensive Communist boot camp for the group.
“Because Bob has been such a forward-thinking leader on queer issues for so long, we knew there was no one better to help us chart a correct path to liberation,” said Karat, noting that five years ago, the RCP abandoned its position defining homosexuality as bourgeois decadence.
Once its programme is finalized, LAGAI will start a new social movement to overthrow capitalism.
“We’re calling it, ‘Occupy Wall Street,’” B announced.
Totally Fabulous Happy Hour
On August 18, 2006, seven young Black lesbians traveled to
New York City from their homes in Neward for a regular night out. When walking
down the street, a man sexually propositioned one of the women. After refusing
to take no for an answer, he assaulted them. The women tried to defend
themselves, and a fight broke out. The women received between 3.5 and 11 years
in prison. Patreese Johnson, who received the longest sentence, is scheduled to
be released later this year.
Checks made out to Bay Solidarity can also be sent to Bay
Solidarity c/o LAGAI, 3543 18th St. Box 26, San Francisco CA 94110
Diane Fisher Amaral died March 7 after more than a year’s struggle with cancer. She was 67.
Diane was born in Columbus, Pennsylvania, the eldest of five children. In the 1970s and 1980s she lived on women’s land in the Missouri Ozarks. For much of the time she worked in St. Louis to help feed the chickens and goats, and went to the land on weekends. Before Roe vs. Wade, she drove women across state lines to states where abortion was available legally. By the time she moved to the Bay Area in the late eighties, she had great wild curly gray hair and always had a big smile.
She studied ceramics at Douglass College of Rutgers University and made her living from her beautiful pottery. In the Bay Area she exhibited at the KPFA and Women’s Holiday Crafts Fairs, WomenCrafts West when it was alive and LGBT Freedom Day and other street fairs. She was a member of a collective of women potters in West Berkeley. She also delivered newspapers for the Bay Guardian, and would sneak UltraViolet into her runs.
Diane was one of the warmest, friendliest people we ever worked with. She was enthusiastic and deeply committed. She cared passionately about women and lesbians, prisoners’ rights, Palestinian liberation and every social justice issue. She was a member of Out of Control Lesbian Committee to Support Women Political Prisoners. She made the best pie crust anywhere and always followed through on whatever she took on.
In 2007, her lover, Shey, a Canadian citizen who had lived in the u.s. for decades, was denied re-entry into the u.s. after a visit to Canada. Shey and Diane were forced to leave the home they had shared for years and move to coastal British Columbia, where they established Smith and Fisher Pottery and a close and loving community. They became respected members of the arts community there, displaying their work at the Sechelt Farmers Market and the local pottery show, Ceramics on the Edge. A newspaper report on the most recent show said,
“Shey Smith and Diane Fisher Amaral displayed their copper red and shino functional pieces.
‘I love a good mug,” [juror Mary] Fox said, prompting her to remind potters to ‘make things you enjoy making.’”
In their artists’ statement, Shey and Diane wrote, “We are influenced by nature’s cycle by firing clay in our kilns to make pots, and by adding mined copper, iron, cobalt, and soda, etc. to make our glazes. Here on the coast, Douglas firs have been emerging in our work alongside the abstract leaf vein designs….We think of clay and glazes as an age-old connection of the earth’s crust and our daily lives.”
Shey says, “She was a gal who loved color, and used it lavishly in her pottery, her clothing and everything else. She loved to dance and have fun.”
The loss of Diane to our community was sad, but we always thought we’d make a group pilgrimage to visit her in BC. It’s heartbreaking to know that we won’t see her again.
Donations in Diane’s name may be sent to the Grandmothers Campaign, which supports grassroots organizations in Africa, run by and for grandmothers. www.grandmotherscampaign.org.
On March 26, north dakota got three new anti-abortion laws. The first would ban abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is heard, which could be as early as six weeks. The second would ban abortions based on “genetic abnormality,” or for “sex-selection.” The third would require that any physician performing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility at which the abortion is performed. These bills will take effect August 1, unless a court holds them up. A fourth bill, not yet passed, would ban abortions after 20 weeks.
In signing the bills, governor dalrymble admitted that the bills might not be constitutional, but said that the courts had not yet ruled on these specific restrictions. He said that these bills are a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to “discover the boundaries of Roe v Wade.” Since no one is suggesting that the fetus is viable at 6 weeks (the basis of the Roe v Wade decision), it’s hard to know what he legitimately thinks is being tested. Next to come are restrictions on abortions requiring physicians to stand on their heads while performing the procedures, since that has not yet been tested either.
Currently, the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo has been the lone abortion provider in the state since 2001. According to ABC news, the clinic performs only 18 percent of its abortions before the fetus reaches seven weeks. Therefore about 80 percent of abortions would be banned, and likely the clinic would close. That would leave be an 800 mile stretch without any abortion provider, and women would have to travel either to Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, south dakota, or Billings, montana.
On March 6, the arkansas legislature overrode governor beebe’s veto of a bill that requires an abdominal ultrasound prior to performing abortion to detect a fetal heartbeat, and prohibits abortion beyond 12 weeks if a heartbeat is detected. The legislature had previously overridden his veto of a bill prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks. In vetoing the bills, Beebe had said that they were obviously unconstitutional.
Unlike the arkansas legislation, the north dakota bill does not specify what test is required to determine heartbeat. In some situations, a heartbeat can be detected through transvaginal ultrasound as early as six weeks.
Meanwhile, congress is once again considering a bill that would allow women
in the u.s. military to obtain abortions through the military health system.
Currently, military insurance coverage is only available for abortion care if
the servicewoman’s life is in medical danger as a result of the pregnancy. The
proposed bill would permit women to pay for abortions themselves at military
facilities. An amendment would specifically extend military funding for abortion
in the case of rape. Attempts to repeal the ban on military abortions failed in
2000, 2004, and 2011. This year’s MARCH Act (Military Access to Reproductive
Care and Health for Military Women) is supported by the department of defense.
Many of the 400,000 women currently serving in the military are in countries
where abortion is not available (unlike, say, north dakota), so it is
particularly a problem if they can’t get abortions in military hospitals.
The second north dakota bill reflects the latest tactic of the anti-abortion
forces to rebrand themselves as advocates for disabled people, courageously
fighting against genocide through abortion. The bill defines genetic abnormality
to mean “any defect, disease, or disorder that is inherited genetically. The
term includes any physical disfigurement, scoliosis, dwarfism, Down syndrome,
albinism, amelia, or any other type of physical or mental disability,
abnormality, or disease.” This measure, if upheld, would force a woman to
carry a fetus to term that is incapable of surviving even for a short period of
time, often at significant risk to her own health. Since the basis for the ban
would be the physician’s belief that the abortion is because there is a
genetic problem, it would discourage women from getting genetic screening or
counseling. The inability to abort a fetus who inherits a fatal or other serious
genetic condition would limit reproductive options for people whose families
carry serious genetic diseases, such as Tay Sachs, which is almost always fatal
within four years.
Although the anti-abortion forces may portray themselves as advocates for disabled people, they are notably silent on providing medical, physical, and economic support for disabled individuals and their families. (Another example of life beginning at conception, or 6 weeks thereafter, and ending at birth). There is a wider discussion needed regarding what the options provided by genetic screening and counseling mean, including a discussion of how this society should be supporting people with disabilities. But the result of these discussions cannot be, under any circumstances, to force a woman to maintain a pregnancy that she does not want. Women’s right to control their/our own bodies must be absolute.
On March 29, about 60 people rallied at the SF hall of justice to support 19
anti-colonial, anti-capitalist (ACAC) activists who were arrested at columbus
day demonstrations on October 6, 2012.
The October demonstrations were organized in solidarity with indigenous
struggles in the bay area and elsewhere and to mark the eleven-year anniversary
of the Afghanistan war and occupation. The police attacked the demonstration and
then charged several of the demonstrators with felonies, resulting in very high
bails. Although the felony charges were ultimately not filed, the police and
district attorney have vilified the demonstrators in the press, and also have
used their cell phones and twitter accounts to try to build a network of
The ACAC 19 now face a number of misdemeanor charges ranging from unlawful
assembly to battery on a uniformed officer. Their trial date has not yet been
set. The ACAC 19 are asking people to call the district attorney’s office
(415) 553-1751 and demand the charges be dropped. For updates, check
City College of San Francisco (CCSF)
is widely acknowledged to be one of the best
community colleges in the country. The current
crisis is largely the joint creation of two groups:
the Accreditation Commission (ACCJC), which has ties to for-profit
colleges and the student loan industry; and interim administrators who have no
long-term commitment to the school. Both
are abusing the accreditation process to impose an agenda to downsize the
college, funneling students into private and online schools that will cost more
than tuition. This is an attack on tens of thousands of Bay Area residents,
particularly from low-income, people of color, and immigrant communities.
The state government and
governor brown are working to divert money from public schools into private
schools and online classes run by for-profit organizations.
CCSF is a test case. If the
state can do it here in SF, it will be done state-wide.
The move to strip CCSF of its accreditation is part of a larger effort to
get rid of schools that are deemed “too progressive” with too many choices
for students; included is a move to
consolidate Asian, Black and Latino Studies, for instance, into one big
‘Ethnic Studies’ department, thus weakening all of them.
Articles in the SF Chronicle
and elsewhere blame faculty salaries and the number of teachers employed.
This is totally false reasoning. In
fact, full-time teachers at CCSF start and end their careers at a lower salary
than Foothill College in Cupertino to name just one example.
In 2011, the CCSF faculty agreed to alary reductions that are still in
2007 CCSF was chosen by the NY Times as one of the country’s top 11
community colleges. Even the ACCJC admits that the school’s quality of
education is “excellent.” Indeed,
CCSF has never received any prior sanctions. But the ACCJC has been taken over
by groups that want to privatize education.
The ACCJC has recently received grants of $450 thousand and $1.5 million
from the Lumina foundation, a private body created in 2000 by the student loan
industry. State funding has been cut by $50 million dollars over the past five
years, but CCSF has prioritized keeping classes open and preventing major
layoffs. Now the ACCJC says that in order to receive accreditation CCSF must cut
classes, programs, and wages, narrow the Mission Statement, end democratic
decision-making (i.e. “shared governance”), lay off department chairs, hire
more administrators, and put more money into the reserve. If accepted, these
proposals would drastically undercut the quality and accessibility of our
accreditation is being abused to downsize public education. Some groups are
advocating that the ACCJC’s dictates have to be accepted.
But in 2006, Berkeley City College faced similar impositions by the ACCJC.
Unlike at CCSF, the Berkeley Chancellor defended the school and threatened to
sue the accreditation commission. In response, the ACCJC dropped its threats.
Such a victory can be repeated in San Francisco if our elected representatives
protests can force those in power to save CCSF and make education more equitable
and accessible for all. Students,
faculty, and staff who want to save CCSF have formed a group to save the College
as an affordable and accessible institution for the Bay Area’s low-income,
people of color, and immigrant communities. Save CCSF: We are City College wants to reverse the enrollment
drop — from 100,000 to 85,000 — caused by recent cuts and accreditation
threats. They have a three point plan to make this happen.
Hall must ensure that Prop A funds are used for education Voters approved
[by 72.9%] Prop A which brings in about $16 million yearly — specifically to
prevent devastating cuts to City College. Yet CCSF administrators and the Board
of Trustees are refusing to use Prop A funds for education.
Hall must fill any extra budget gap by advancing funds to CCSF:
City College, like all public schools, has come under severe financial
strain in recent years. The only equitable solution is more revenue, not more
cuts. It is the responsibility of Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors to
advance funds to CCSF, while pushing for Sacramento to immediately reverse its
budget priorities. California is 1st in spending for prisons, but 49th for
City Hall must call on the Department of Education to stop the ACCJC’s
unjustified “show cause” sanction against CCSF.
is a great school but forces of privatization want to change its mission. This
fight is not about a dysfunctional school; it is about an austerity-driven plan
to destroy public education and replace it with for-profit schools.
is one the largest community colleges in the country, with a proud record of
successfully helping students complete their GEDs, preparing students to
transfer to 4-year colleges, and graduating students in the fields of food
preparation, nursing, radiology, firefighting, and many more.
Many thousands of immigrants learn English, older adults benefit from the
courses designed for them and unemployed workers learn new skills.
people rallied at City Hall on March 14th to save CCSF. This is just
the beginning. City Hall has a 1 month ultimatum to implement the 3 point plan
to Save CCSF To get involved in the movement or for more info, please send a
note to email@example.com.
Dignity and Resistance, the coalition started in 2012 to organize a radical regional immigrant rights worker May Day march, has continued to organize over the last year. The coalition, which included Decolonize Oakland, Occupy Oakland Labor Solidarity, pacific steel workers, people from various unions, The Left Party, Workers World and LAGAI - Queer Insurrection, among others, focused mainly on supporting workers at the mi pueblo grocery chain trying to organize a union with the help of UFCW Local 5 (United Food and Commercial Workers). mi pueblo, a chain of Latino grocery stores owned by the very bad formerly undocumented multi-millionaire juvenal chavez, has threatened workers with harassment of in retaliation for merely thinking about having a union. Up to 80% of mi pueblo workers are undocumented, making them especially vulnerable to workplace repression. The Oakland mi pueblo created a special room to specifically interrogate and intimidate workers from union organizing. The severe pressure on the workers has made it hard for the organizing to move forward and gain momentum.
On Valentine’s day, however in spite of this extreme repression in the stores there was a spirited women’s rally/action at the Oakland mi pueblo store. The demonstration was led by Laura Robledo, a woman who was fired from the San Jose mi pueblo after she filed a complaint alleging sexual harassment. Following a press conference about the sexual harassment as well as the difficulties experienced by the Mi Pueblo workers, the rowdy demonstration tried to march into the store to confront management.
This was a true women’s liberation action. This demonstration was led by Latinas, all the speakers were women, and the militancy was unique to women. Laura Robledo attempted to deliver a letter to juvenal chavez. The women’s march, a wave of solidarity in pink clothes except for Laura Robledo who was dressed in black lace, advanced on the store entrance which was immediately blocked by hostile security and managers barring any attempt at entering the store, to deliver the letter. Pushing and yelling ensued and angry women’s voices were raised. The letter was left at the entrance a long with a huge pile of carnations and roses making for a good Valentines tableau. It was inspirational to be part of a wild furious women action!
Over the last year Dignidad y Resistencia Latina, a separate but connected group, has grown out of the Spanish-speaking caucus of Dignity and Resistance. They have recently been approached by workers from the do bake corporation, who have received letters on do bake letter head telling at least 25 people they have been fired in response to I-9 (immigration) audits. More firings are expected. The do bake corporation is located in East Oakland on International and 81st avenue and provides baked goods to the Oakland public schools. The do bake workers are in The Bakery and Confectioniery Union Local 125 , but feel that their union is not supporting them. The group of workers who reached out to DNRL are organized militant and ready to do actions.
Meanwhile workers at castlewood country club have won a three year contract, after being locked out for two years and seven months. The victorious three-year struggle highlighted the effectiveness of a strong labor community solidarity and support. The combination of UNITE HERE Local 2850 and a grassroots community support with repeated and sometimes inimitable direct actions showed the power of resistance and cooperation and got the mostly immigrant workers back to work! The contract won worker raises, strong seniority rights and protections against subcontracting that castlewood had proposed eliminating during the lockout. castlewood will also pay for about $15,000 in unpaid medical bills accumulated by the locked-out workers. The agreement does require a payment for health care coverage of $225 per month per family or $50 per month for individuals. This is also a victory because this is what UNITE HERE Local 2850 had offered before the lockout as a compromise to the $739 per month pushed by the aristocratic evil castlewood club. The castlewood workers were locked out from 2009 until October 16th 2012 when the national labor relations board ruled that castlewood had maintained an unlawful lockout had bargained in bad faith.
UNITE HERE is also involved in another struggle at the Oakland Airport. Companies providing concessions and food that leased directly with the airport signed a card check neutrality agreement with UNITE HERE. In Oakland between 2008 and 2011, 240 workers from three companies won union contracts that provided living wages, healthcare for themselves and their dependents, retirement benefits and other important rights on the job. The problem comes with HMS Host a food contractor which has eight non union sub contractors. Workers employed by these sub contractors are treated unfairly, none provide affordable health care or retirement. Workers are subject to last minute schedule changes and no breaks. The sub contractors have violated the port’s living wage law. When the workers began to organize with the intent of unionizing they were immediately subject to anti union harassment. There have been a number of rallies with community support at the airport, again highlighting the need for labor community alliances.
The Dignity and Resistance coalition is at somewhat of a crossroads. From the above stories it is clear that radical community support is necessary for worker struggles. In addition D&R combines immigrant rights and worker struggles with a radical left politics. Coalitions have strength in their diversity of politics but also often don’t have the trust found in smaller collective groups to work out differences. One focus that has come up for continued work is to make a left worker immigrant rights contingent for May Day. The idea would be to link the mi pueblo struggle with walmart workers and perhaps the bakery workers, possibly making an East Oakland radical worker feeder march to the larger May Day march. Indeed the coalition has attracted immigrant workers looking for community support at the same time providing a different, more radical political framework from the usual democratic liberal politics. Whether or not Dignity and Resistance continues, the importance of linking struggles to make a more radical movement has been well demonstrated during this last year of organizing.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
In prison the gay boys fight
Over territory ties
Whose got some cock
And who’s telling lies.
Never really knowing why
Lest one gay boy’s punch
Makes another gay boy cry.
Doesn’t humanity bleed?
Mustn’t someone please
Tell the gay boys and plead:
“Bruises may heal but scarred memories never leave.”
Leave a gay boy fetal on the floor
Feet pointed and
Yet still the others
Cheer for more:
“Jeer for fear!”
“Jeer for fear!”
Punching and kicking
Till death looms near.
And all the while we are peering into
Our very own reflections.
To live. Positively. Means annulling the decrees
Of “street wisdom” in favor of taking some time
Away, thereby shaking away the lamented chains
Of what we cannot be: perpetual prisoners of our own past.
So remember, Sisters & Brothers:
We are still America’s Daughters & Sons, in truth
Of the crime or offense that we have succumbed.
Because when all is said and done, it will always
Be the future, and not the past!, that will
Determine who we are and what we will become.
Anthony R., California State Prison
Lonely has been defined by many intelligent minds,
But what does lonely mean to a prisoner serving times?
It’s obviously not the same as a civilized brain,
But is it’s depths deeper than our minds can obtain.
It’s no longer being alone or in a place all by yourself,
For prisons are capacitated beyond what’s good for health,
Separation and emptiness are two of its closest friends,
Yet, being full around many doesn’t put it to an end.
In a building filled with thousands
Yet still it will exist,
The mind, the soul, or the flesh
Which one applies to this.
Piercing hearts and crushing spirits
It truly is destructive, Bitterness if formed by this which
Truly is disruptive,
Uncomfortable, unlovable, unbearable,
Yet still living,
Companionship or fellowship this
Never will be giving.
Carelessly plus effortlessly
It consumes our every thought,
A controlling force with our being
That never seems to stop.
Like invisible rope around your throat
It suffocates your hope.
Like being in a burning building
Where all you see is smoke.
There has to be a reason why we
Feel this thing inside.
All alone among so many
Hiding in the closet swallowing my pride.
James Carroll F67996
P.O. Box 5246
Corcoran, CA 93212
I will like to start off by introducing myself. My birth name is William I was born in Delaware in 1986 to Miss Brenda and William Growing up in a single parent household with three siblings without a father and just a mother struggling to take care of her kids without help from the kids father is hard I lost my father to the system before I was born for something he didn’t do and back the n the state of Delaware wouldn’t let my father have his witnesses which was my mother and her Doctor . Then my Grandfather help out but when he got Sick with cancer that’s when my life went upside down I was sexually abuse d by my camp counselor in the summer ’95 when I was 81/2 going on nine. I never told because I was scared of losing my mother to the system. Now my mother’s strength and pride is what’s getting me through this prison bid. Being a Homosexual in the DOC is hard. You got to stand strong and have pride to make it through.
I’m lost in a world of hate and hurt with no way out.
I’m lost in my own world of stress and sadness with no one to help me out. All the counselors and psych only want to give you medication thinking you’re crazy.
I’m lost in a world of disappointment with nothing to bring me out because I made people mad because of who I am.
I’m lost surrounded by people that think they’re better than you or that you’re a nobody because you’re different or they want to be like you and scared about what their friends are going to think about you and them.
I’m lost behind these gates with nobody to run to for help because they’re afraid for theirself or because they’re ashamed to come near me because of my sexuality and think they would be disrespected because they’re talking to me and they don’t want their friends to get mad.
I’m lost in a world with so much jealousy because people talk just like girls about your business because they’re afraid to be just like you because they want to fit in with everybody else instead of just living their life.
I’m lost in a world of bitterness because friends stab you in the back in a heartbeat just to get attention or will lie to get attention to be somebody they’re not or would mess around with your lover behind your back.
Over 400 people joined the Chowchilla Freedom Day march to the central california women’s facility (ccwf) to demand an end to the extreme overcrowding, deteriorating health care, and lockdowns in california’s women’s prisons. The demonstration was initiated by the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), and was supported by dozens of organizations across the state.
When california was ordered by federal courts to reduce the prison population, the department of corrections and rehabilitation (cdcr) and the california legislature had a number of choices. They could have ended three strikes and life without parole, built community release programs, released or paroled elders, and provided release for medical reasons. Instead, they have shifted populations to local jails that have no programs, little access to health care, and, most importantly, no oversight by the courts. They also decided to convert valley state prison for women (vspw) to a men’s prison, and transfer the women to ccwf and the california institution for women (ciw) in Chino. This has resulted in extreme over-crowding in ccwf, with almost 4000 women in an institution whose capacity is 2000.
There were dozens of identified queers among the organizers and demonstrators, including Linda Evans from All of Us or None, Gay Shame and ACT UP carrying a large banner reading Queer Liberation Not Prison Nation, and LAGAI and QUIT! The Chowchilla Freedom Rally Coalition included members from California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Californians United for a Responsible Budget, Justice NOW, All Of Us Or None, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children, Fired Up!, Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project, Critical Resistance, Youth Justice Coalition, Global Women’s Strike, Occupy 4 Prisoners, Asian Pacific Islander Support Committee and the California Prison Moratorium Project.
For more information, go to the CCWP website: womenprisoners.org.
By Chaya and Deni
Argo: One of
the worst things about Argo (Ben Affleck starred and directed) is that it’s a
very well-made movie. It starts with a voice overlay narrating a progressive
analysis about the history of the
likes Tina Fey, Chaya likes her ok (but can’t stand when her characters go
into their wimpy female routine), so we saw this movie. Tina was good as a
No (guest review by Deeg and Tory with plot synopsis by
This Chilean film is about the 1988 plebiscite, when the Chilean public got to vote on whether the US installed dictator General Augusto Pinochet should stay in power or whether there should be an open presidential election a year later. The story centers on Gael Garcia Bernal as the advertising campaign expert who is determined to use a positive ad strategy and win the plebiscite for the people. Deeg and Tory say, “Go see it, it’s an interesting presentation of political issues with an advertising slant. It’s ultimately upbeat while describing a horrible political situation, and the people win at the end!”
No Time Like the Present (guest review by Cole): ANC member and AIDS activist Nadine Gordimer is a long-time chronicler of apartheid’s impact. Her most recent novel addresses the personal choices and political disappointments that confront anti-apartheid activists fifteen years after the ANC’s victory.
The protagonists are an interracial couple who met while members of Spear of the Nation, the ANC’s armed wing. The couple maintains friendships with other veterans who have led the move to the suburbs and bond with their new gay neighbors. Acknowledging their privilege - she’s an attorney; he’s a chemistry professor who manufactured bombs back in the day - they send their children to private schools.
Gordimer describes the couple’s responses to political
events in a curiously detached manner. Although the reader somehow knows the
pain caused by a corrupt arms purchase deal, presidential candidate Jacob
Zuma’s acquittal in a rape case and the decision whether to vote for the ANC
splinter group, the depths of the protagonists’ feelings are never fully
conveyed. Left unanswered is why our protagonists have not actively participated
in either the ANC or the South African Communist Party – have they simply
become weary of vitriolic arguments? Instead, they limit their post-apartheid
activity to their individual endeavors of legal advocacy for the disenfranchised
and assisting black students whose substandard education has left them
ill-prepared for the rigors of the university. The couple’s disillusionment
slowly leads them to a decision to immigrate to
Despite my dissatisfaction with the book, I still found it an absorbing read. It’s a reminder that the difficulty of achieving state power pales when compared to the challenges posed by the task of building a revolutionary society.
BOOS AND HISSES Guam
was occupied by the Japanese during WWII, “liberated” by US Marines, and
controlled by the US ever since, as a “non-governing US territory” (its 180,000
residents have US citizenship but can’t vote in US presidential elections).
MOUSES UNITE A
Russian military intelligence plan was recently revealed to use mice instead of
dogs as a special ops platoon for sniffing out explosives, ammunition, and
people carrying contraband. We’re wondering how the mice will be used to
enforce the impending anti-queer legislation in
And what about the Zionist background to this story (trust
the Mocha Column to sniff this part out!) Turns out that it was an Israeli
company that developed this secret-agent mouse technology. The
system was shown in late 2012 at the Israel Homeland Security exhibition in Tel
Aviv. (Now there’s an event to avoid!) The mouse technology stemmed from
Israel Army experiments in 2000 to use small animals to detect and foil
so-called Palestinian “terrorists.” Here’s how the system works: the
portable system directs a blast of air toward somebody suspected of carrying
contraband. The air that strikes the person is directed into a chamber of eight
mice, who sniff and move into another compartment if they detect contraband.
Rumors have been circulating that any mice caught organizing against this
program will be executed and forced to work posthumously in the
FINSPY – BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID
It turns out that a British-German company (the Gamma Group) sells FinSpy,
a “monitoring” software, to government security officials for monitoring
criminal and terrorist activity. FinSpy can be covertly installed on suspects’
computers by exploiting security lapses in the update procedures of common
software programs. It can take images off computer screens (including encrypted
data), record Skype chats, turn cameras and microphones on, and record
keystrokes. And you can see a demo of it worldwide at your friendly neighborhood
intelligence support system trade show! Sound scary?
It’s being used in 25 countries without oversight. What are some of the
countries that use FinSpy?
TEDDY BEARS ALSO SUPPORT HUMAN RIGHTS
A Swedish public relations agency (Studio Total) chartered a plane that
illegally entered the heavily guarded airspace of
NO HOPE FOR POPE What a great guy that new pope is: living in a relatively small apartment (instead of the lavish papal quarters), not wearing red Prada shoes, and liking public transportation. Nonetheless, let this put him on notice that the Mocha Column does not see him as being “of the people” but rather as the valiant leader of all the horrendous Catholic church policies and behavior. We will continue to scrutinize and criticize him and his ilk. He’s not getting into heaven and he’s not getting a pass from us. Last time we looked he’s still the pope, and he also has a lot to answer for in his role in cooperating with the Argentinean junta.
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An appeals court in Bahrain has reversed the convictions of 21 medics arrested in connection to anti-government protests in 2011. Along with dozens of others, some of whom are still jailed, they helped treat the wounded in the mass unrest.
The physicians, nurses and other hospital workers were convicted last November on misdemeanor charges over their treatment of injured protesters, and for participating in “illegal assemblies.” Some of the accused said their convictions were based on false confessions extracted under torture.
They are now cleared from having to spend three months in prison or paying 200 dinars ($530).
The international medic community hailed the decision as a victory, but said the fight for justice is not yet over.
“The kingdom must now demonstrate a renewed commitment to civil and human rights by compensating the health professionals who were wrongly arrested, mistreated, and convicted; restoring all of those wrongly dismissed to their jobs; freeing others still serving prison sentences on similarly spurious convictions; and fairly prosecuting the officials responsible for these outrageous rights violations,” Dr. Deborah D. Ascheim, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) board chair said.
For information see www.physiciansforhumanrights.org.
I got home the other night just in time to hear Rachel Maddow doing her wrap-up of the day’s Supreme Court hearings on the gay marriage. Now dedicated readers of UV know that gay marriage is not any of our favorite topic, so I thought about turning it off, seeing what reruns of “Cold Case” or “Project Runway” might be available instead. But before I could, I was stunned to hear that everything I thought I knew about the gay marriage issue is wrong.
See it turns out that gay marriage is not about suburban couples wanting to be able to leave each other their white picket-fenced split levels (which as far as I know, nothing is stopping them from doing) or old women being able to visit each other in the hospital, or our queer friends’ right to live here with their lovers who happen to hold other passports. All those are side benefits.
Gay marriage is a means to greater military efficiency.
This apparently was the thrust of the argument by the solicitor general of the u.s. in court that day, and it was reiterated by Maddow’s guest, Nicole Wallace, a former advisor to the mccain/palin campaign.
“I mean, this is shocking, if heaven forbid your spouse is injured, are you not flown? I mean, this to me seems like one of the most urgent examples of how this affects people's lives…. Think about the soldier on the battlefield worried about their families. The whole reason we have this promise to the families is because your soldiers are doing what they have to do to protect all of us. So this to me provides such an urgent need to be addressed in a way that really, I hope, can bring some progress.”
And Rachel responded:
“The military as an institution is saying, it is greatly disruptive to us as a hierarchical institution, people need to follow orders, if our orders and privileges are delivered unequally.”
And here I thought gay marriage was something I could just be lukewarm about.
While all eyes were fastened on the supreme kourt and every NPR show was playing “going to the chapel” for its music breaks, here’s what we weren’t hearing so much about.
“Dozens of protesters marched on government buildings in Detroit on Thursday to oppose the appointment of emergency managers across the state. The rally came one day after a coalition of civil rights and religious groups filed a lawsuit challenging emergency managers in Detroit and five other Michigan cities. The managers are granted broad powers, including overruling elected officials, in a bid to turn around struggling finances. The new lawsuit accuses Michigan’s controversial emergency manager law of imposing "a new form of government" in the state. The emergency manager law has disproportionately affected African Americans, with over half of African Americans in Michigan now living under unelected leadership.” (from Democracy Now headlines for March 29)
In September, Rachel Maddow (who does a good job of covering civil rights violations as long as republikkkans are behind them), tweeted in September an article from the website electablog:
“As majority African American communities in Michigan are forced to live under the rule of unelected dictators, formerly called Emergency Managers and, now, once again called Emergency Financial Managers, efforts by two Republicans in the heart of Republican Livingston County are hoping to avoid the same fate for their own, mostly white, communities. Fiscal troubles that can be laid largely at the door of state legislators Cindy Denby and Bill Rogers would be conveniently remedied by a new law that Rogers and Denby co-sponsored. Even though these communities are in trouble due to fiscal mismanagement on the part of their government leaders, they, unlike Benton Harbor, Flint, Pontiac and other Michigan communities, would receive a state bailout, not a takeover of their town by a state-appointed dictator.”
The independent newspaper Voice of Detroit reported last year, “’Detroit is the largest majority Black city in the world, outside of Africa,’ Detroit attorney George Washington noted significantly at a Dec. 1 forum on PA 4….[Governor Rick] Snyder’s main excuse for the review [leading to the appointment of the emergency manager] … is the city’s current alleged $150 million deficit. The deficit results largely from the fact that the city has paid $529 million on its debt to the banks in 2011 alone, half of that in interest, according to a recent financial report by Ernst & Young. While Snyder and other government officials have demanded that workers sacrifice, they have made no demand for the banks to come to the table.”
Six Michigan cities have been placed under emergency management. Five of those have African American majorities. African Americans make up 14% of the total population of the state.
Closer to home, Gertrude Wilks, former mayor of East Palo Alto, wrote in the San Jose Mercury News: “All five San Mateo County supervisors are white despite Caucasians making up only 42 percent of the county's population. The leadership problem is compounded because a vast majority of other top elected and appointed officials are also Caucasian. The county manager, the assistant county manager, the county legal counsel, the sheriff, the district attorney, the tax assessor and the controller are all white.”
The Brennan Center for Justice reported in late 2012, that since the beginning of 2011, 41 states introduced 180 laws to restrict voting rights. 25 laws and 2 executive actions passed since the beginning of 2011 in 19 states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin).
On the up side, “in the past two years, vetoes, referendums, court decisions, or the Department of Justice have blocked or blunted restrictive measures in 14 states (Arizona, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin). Note: this list does not include successful legislative victories such as those in Nebraska and other states.”
Nearly all of these laws are aimed at disenfranchising people of color, and the efforts have been massively stepped up since the 2012 elections, when republikkkans discovered to their shock that the country’s white majority is shrinking and no longer enough to carry them to victory. While they have been grappling with the significance of that revelation, progressives have been – or should have been -- grappling with another one: Apartheid isn’t a character flaw specific to Afrikaaners and Israelis.
I use the term “apartheid” because it’s familiar and people who know anything about international law know that it’s prohibited by the United Nations. The UN Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid defines apartheid as “practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa, … inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” Palestine solidarity activists, myself included, have spent a lot of time over the last few years establishing how well that definition fits the system of segregation and discrimination applied by Israel against the Palestinians, but much less time talking about how well it fits the system applied in this country. I’ve always felt it’s convenient that the U.N. chose to suppress and punish the specific forms of “racial segregation and discrimination” applied in Southern Africa, rather than in North America. But actually, it’s not convenient at all – it’s the reward for being a permanent member of the Security Council.
The southern united states used to have slavery, and when they couldn’t have it any more, they instituted apartheid, which was nicknamed Jim Crow. In the destination cities of the Great Migration, the Jim Crow North and West were born. (A former neighbor, who grew up in West Oakland, remembered segregated schools and having to sit in the back balcony at the movie theater.) But the country as a whole didn’t need those formal mechanisms of segregation and discrimination, because whites could dominate and call it “majority rule.” Now the u.s. is in the same situation as israel, and like israel’s leaders and south africa’s before them, ours are trying to create separate countries for the people it doesn’t want to share resources with. One of those countries is called “prison” – what Beth Ritchie calls the “prison nation” and Michelle Alexander calls “The New Jim Crow.” Another is called “normalization of status” meaning that immigrants might be able to stay here but never have the right to vote, and even “path to citizenship” is kind of a “skim milk” version of apartheid (to borrow Elena Kagan’s phrase), offering a vague 13-year process to full rights, fraught with potential pitfalls into which immigrants can fall.
In this context, gay marriage seems a lot like israel’s “pinkwashing” campaign, using its liberal policies toward Jewish queers to win the “Gay International” over to its colonization project. It can’t be any accident that Rob Portman and Bill O’Reilly are suddenly coming over to the side of gay civil rights, at the same time that they’re trying to solve the puzzle of how to preserve white minority rule for the benefit of the super-rich. Yes, some of them have gay kids but they’ve had them for a long time and they seem to have been okay with denying equality even to their own flesh and blood.
First they came for the Irish, then they came for the Jews … they even came for the unionists. Now they’re up to the gays.
In the past, gay marriage seemed like a useful wedge issue to keep poorer white people from noticing that the policies those republicrats were promoting don’t actually benefit ordinary white folks. Now, no doubt they are eyeing the gay money that poured into the Obama campaign, allegedly making up for the defection of the Wall Street tycoons, and thinking they can grin and bear some gay weddings to trigger racial solidarity among white gay people.
I’d like to think they’re wrong.
by Carmen Simon
The ‘David and Goliath’ metaphor is, perhaps, so often used that it borders on cliche. And yet, there is something about a group of fledgling activists going up against a large pharmaceutical company that is appropriately reminiscent of going into battle with a fabled giant, armed with only a slingshot. Stemming from the larger direct action advocacy group AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power San Francisco (ACT UP/SF), the Gilead workgroup runs its own planning meetings and aims to draw critical attention to the business practices of Gilead Sciences. The specifics of the campaign, including its strategy and set of demands, are continually unfolding. During the early stages of the campaign’s development, the group chose to hone in on the pricing of a medication with the quirky name of Stribild, whose release in August of 2012 at the price of $28,000 annually per a consumer has caused quite a stir in the AIDS activist community. The high pricing of Stribild is, in many ways, emblematic of an industry whose marketing trends are shrouded in complexities. Through a process of having to contextualize our objection to this sliver of industry practice, the Gilead workgroup has found itself looking at how to define our philosophical differences with for profit healthcare in a language that translates into successful organizing.
In order to give some background to the ACT UP’s Gilead campaign, it is necessary to understand Gilead Sciences and their role in the production of HIV medications. Founded in 1987 with headquarters in Foster City, California, Gilead Sciences is a biotechnology company that researches and develops, and then commercializes therapeutics. Since its beginnings, Gilead has specialized in the development of anti-viral drugs, included many of the medications used to treat HIV. Gilead has also researched drugs used to treat various strains of hepatitis. As patent holders of popular HIV medications Truvada and Atripla, and now Stribild, Gilead is considered a market leader. And, as AIDS activists here in the United States and internationally scramble to cope with the funding cuts stemming from budget sequestration, Gilead continues to profit. In addition to pricing Stribild at 35% above the wholesale aquisition price (WAC) of their own bestseller Atripla, Gilead raised the WAC prices of Atripla and three of their other AIDS medications by an average of 6% in January of 2013.
HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) activists are calling Gilead's pricing exorbitant, even within an industry known for its enormous profits. In August of 2012, for example, the Fair Pricing Coalition put out a letter calling for the community of HIV activists to take a stand against Gilead ,“Because the Fair Pricing Coalition (FPC) has been unable to convince Gilead to take no more than one annual price increase in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI)..” The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has described Gilead as perpetuating “predatory pricing.” Like ACT UP, both the Fair Pricing Coalition and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation have made demands of Gilead to lower their pricing of Stribild.
As a direct action group, ACT UP has been faced with the task of calling negative attention to a more powerful organization through the forces of conviction and our own research. For those unfamiliar with ACT UP, one of the movement’s most known traits has been the creation of the ‘citizen expert.’ Past generations of ACT UP activists, most of whom had little more than a high school or college degree, conducted their own research using medical journals in order to interface with the establishment in a language that was mutually understood. In the case of the Gilead workgroup, our core research focus has been making the connections between Gilead’s pricing and gaps in treatment access. Given that public healthcare systems are strained, and then coupling that with Gilead’s high prices, this has still not been as simple a task as one might assume.
At the end of February 2013, five members of the Gilead work group met with representatives of the Gilead at their headquarters. One of those representing Gilead was Executive Vice President Gregg Alton. While Alton acknowledged Gilead’s high returns, he was adamant that Gilead was not the source of untreated people living with AIDS, citing dealings between Gilead and federal AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPS) as well as Gilead’s own Patient Assistance Program (PAP) as examples of Gilead’s commitment to assuring access to medications. The meeting ended with many unanswered questions. The next stages of the work group will be determined at future meetings. What is certain is that our understanding of constellation of AIDS funding is enough that we are looking at more than just ADAPS. We continue to maintain that Gilead overprices their drugs, and that has been the bottom line driving the campaign since it began.
The campaign to get Frameline, the San Francisco LGBT film festival and largest queer cultural event in the world, to stop partnering with the israeli government continues to build. The letter below, signed by prominent queer artists, academics and filmmakers including Angela Y. Davis and Alice Walker, was sent to Frameline in early March. We hope that they will make this the year when they stop promoting pinkwashing and apartheid.
Please sign onto this letter. You can also drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or even better call them at 415-703-8650.
Dear Board of Directors of Frameline:
As queers working for justice, we are asking Frameline to discontinue its financial relationship with the state of Israel. After years of conversation behind the scenes, we feel it is time for Frameline to stop taking money from the Israeli government and to join a growing international movement of artists, academics, filmmakers and writers who support the decades long Palestinian struggle for self-determination and a viable political and economic state.
LGBTQI Palestinians have asked international queers to respect the cultural and academic boycott of Israel called by Palestinian civil society in 2005. Please read their statement. The call of Palestinian civil society makes it clear that any institution sponsored by or partnering with any agency of the Israeli government is a target of boycott by people who support a just peace in the region. Boycott, divestment and sanctions are time-honored nonviolent strategies for political and social change. Queer Palestinian groups and other queer organizations have urged Frameline to take a stand against the injustices suffered by the Palestinians under occupation by Israel.
The Israeli government is specifically targeting the LGBTQI community in a campaign to “rebrand” Israel as a progressive, queer-friendly democracy. We call this a “pinkwashing” of the brutal realities that Palestinians face under an illegal military occupation. In fact, the “pinkwashing” also covers up the fact that LGBTQI Palestinians suffer from injustices of occupation. Despite Israeli marketing tactics, support for the boycott is growing rapidly in the LGBTQI community, especially in San Francisco. Frameline’s continued willingness to use Israeli government money is divisive and counter to the values of freedom that Frameline claims to hold.
We recognize that the struggle for LGBTQI liberation must occur in the context of the liberation of all people, including Palestinians. Working against Israeli apartheid means refusing money or other sponsorship from the Israeli Consulate.
The time has come to move forward, and we would be happy to co-sponsor a public forum/conversation on the issue to help you do so.
Alice Walker, author
Angela Y. Davis, author, professor
Barbara Hammer, filmmaker
Blue Murov, activist
Carla Schick, poet, activist
Dalit Baum, activist
Dunya Alwan, artist, activist
Elana Dykewomon, author, educator
Elle Flanders, filmmaker
Eric Stanley, writer, filmmaker, educator, activist
Erica Marcus, filmmaker
Happy/L.A. Hyder, visual artist, writer
Jane Segal, activist
John Greyson, filmmaker
Judy Graboyes, musician/activist
Julie Starobin, activist
Kim Anno, artist, filmmaker
Kim Klausner, filmmaker and archivist
L.A./Happy Hyder, visual artist
lacey johnson, artist, activist
Louise Rafkin, author
Maher Sabry, filmmaker
Matthilda Bernstein Sycamore, writer, filmmaker
Nancy Stoller, professor
Roya Rastegar, filmmaker
Sarah Schulman, author, filmmaker
Sonia DeVries, filmmaker
Susan Stryker, filmmaker, professor
Tommi Avicolli Mecca, author, musician
March 13, as part of the Feast to the Global Resistance, about 100 demonstrators
marched from Oscar Grant Plaza to the Veolia bus company offices on Broadway.
The march was led by International Solidarity Movement activist Tristan
Anderson, who was shot in the head with a tear gas canister by israeli troops in
2009, and Scott Olsen, the Iraq war veteran who was shot by police at an Occupy
Oakland demonstration in October 2011.
is an international target of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS)
movement for Palestinian liberation. Veolia, a French bus company, runs the
segregated settler buses in the west bank, and is involved in the creation and
maintenance of settler culture in the occupied territories. Super Shuttle is a
subsidiary of Veolia which also runs paratransit buses in San Francisco and the
wastewater treatment in Richmond CA. For more info see: http://wedivest.org/2013/01/why-target-veolia/