UltraViolet Summer 2005

Lesbian Fruit Flies Swarm SF Bar
Andrea Dworkin
Boycott Badlands
Interview with Ammah On History of Racism in Queer Communities
Protests Remember Murdered Filipinas
Condition Critical in Haiti
No Woman is Safe When Prostitute Women Aren’t Safe!
We Shot Down the Sheriff (But We Did Not Shoot the Deputy)
Help Wanted (The Grand Jury, the DA, the Sheriff and other Snarks)
Queers from Coast to Coast Demand:  Move World Pride
The MOCHA Column
The Sweet Smell of Sexcess
Bush: The Women’s President


Lesbian Fruit Flies Swarm SF Bar
Quarantine Ordered

fruitfly.jpgThe California Department of Fish and Game has ordered a quarantine of the Badlands Bar in San Francisco’s Castro area due to an infestation of lesbian fruit flies. Dubbed the Heidi in American news media, the species was created by scientists in Sweden by activating the “fru” gene. Researcher Sven Svensen said the stray flies may have been drawn to the Castro bar when the fru gene doubled, mutating into the frou-frou.

Badlands owner Less Natali, wearing the newest Swiss watch, the Swish ™, said that he had tried to control the Heidi infestation by demanding three kinds of ID from each fly, but more aggressive measures soon became necessary. “I didn’t know they created a whole new generation every two weeks,” Natali said. “They were demanding Holly Near on the juke box and threatening to have a game night, whatever that is. It was a downer for all the guys in there, and we aren’t allowed to serve up Viagra.”

Natali told San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, “You have plenty of experience from last year’s swarms on city hall. Can’t you spray or something?” A spokesperson for And Castro For All, which has been organizing weekly pickets at the bar because of its history of discrimination against African American patrons, suggested that Newsom simply close the bar and eliminate two problems at once.

Activists Needed
to Go To Palestine This Summer
ISM Freedom Summer Campaign
July 1 to August 31
Bay Area Training June 10-12
Financial support is available
Join an affinity group now being formed
To register or apply for funding, contact
info@norcalism.org or 510-236-4250

Saturday, June 25
“Dykes Across Borders - We Won’t Be Divided”
Rally and Stage Show - Dolores Park 3:00 p.m.
March leaving Dolores Park 7:00 p.m.
A march for all dykes and all women.
Men are asked to stand and support us from the sidelines.

Trans March Kickoff Party
3 pm - 7 pm Speakers and Performers
7 pm – March Through the Streets!
Dolores Park, Dolores and 19th Street
Calling all Transfolks, Friends, Allies and Admirers.
* To increase our visibility and presence in the TLGBIQ community and the overall community at large!
* To encourage more trans and gender variant people to come out!
* To build connections among FTM, MTF, BAYOT, Crossdressers, Sadhin, Hijra, Transvestites, Bantut, Drag Queens, Drag Kings, Mahu, Transsexuals, Bakla, Travesti, Genderqueers, Kathoey, Two Spirit, Intersex
and those with other labels for themselves and no labels for themselves, those who see gender as having more than two options, and those who live between the existing options!
Dress up, Show up, Bring Signs, Speak Out, and Be What Happens!


Andrea Dworkin

dworkin.jpgAndrea Dworkin died April 9. The cause of her death was not disclosed. Dworkin was famous as a feminist activist and author, and was most notorious for her campaign to identify pornography as violence against women. Dworkin was born in 1946, and was arrested at a 1965 protest against the Vietnam War at the u.s. mission to the u.n. She was subjected to several brutal internal examinations at the Grenwich House of Detention, and her exposure of these abuses is credited as contributing to shutting the facility down. She moved to Amsterdam in 1968, and was married to a man who abused her. She then lived on the streets as a prostitute. In 1974 she met Ricki Abrams, and together they developed an idea for a book, “Woman Hating,” which Dworkin eventually wrote. She also started living with John Stoltenberg, who she was still living with at the time of her death. She identified as a lesbian and Stoltenberg identified as gay.

Dworkin was a strong supporter of Take Back the Night demonstrations, a movement that started in Canada, to demand that the streets be safe for women, as compared to law enforcement’s advice that women should stay off the streets. The first TBTN demonstration in the u.s was held in SF in 1978. These demonstrations often focused on violence directed at prostitutes and other sex workers.  Many feminists, particularly lesbians, opposed Dworkin’s stance on pornography, and it unfortunately came to define her in the community, particularly as she was accused of allying with right-wing campaigns on the issue.

Around 1990, she spoke at the SF Women’s Building, and many of us who were involved in the AIDS movement attended a meeting to confront her on this issue. She was vilified in Playboy and other magazines, and she sued Hustler when they published a cartoon of her that she viewed as sexually explicit and anti-semitic. She lost the suit. Although she opposed pornography as anti-woman, she also opposed obscenity laws. (Susie Bright (On Our Backs) blames her for providing the arguments that other feminists used to lobby for the Canadian Butler decision against pornography).

But Dworkin’s politics were much broader than pornography. Along with Phyllis Chesler, Susan Brownmiller, and others, she politicized the issue of violence against women and girls by analyzing them as crimes of patriarchy and the ownership of women. In 1990 she also wrote a strong piece about Palestinians, and the zionist myths she had grown up with as a Jewish child in New Jersey, but her writings on israel were not consistent.

As a feminist, she also challenged the social definitions of gender. In 1974, in Woman Hating, she said that gender is a social lie, and rejected the notion that “men” and “women” exist in nature.

In 1999 Dworkin reported being drugged and raped in a hotel room. Because details differed in two of her statements, some people did not believe that the attack occurred. Dworkin also suffered from osteoarthritis, and being a fat woman, eventually submitted to stomach surgery. In the past few years, Dworkin wrote intermittently for the (London) Guardian. In one column, she appeared to support the death sentence for scott petersen.

We do not agree with everything Andrea Dworkin said or fought for, but we acknowledge the great contribution she made to our lives and our movements. We will miss her creative voice and her unwavering commitment to women’s lives.

Remember; resist; do not comply

Andrea Dworkin, 1995

The political systems that we live in are based on this deep silence. They are based on what we have not said. In particular, they are built on what women - women in every racial group, in every class, including the most privileged - have not said. The assumptions underlying our political systems are also based on what women have not said. Our ideas of democracy and equality - ideas that men have had, ideas that express what men think democracy and equality are - evolved absent the voices, the experiences, the lives, the realities, of women.

The principles of freedom that we hear enunciated as truisms are principles that were arrived at despite this deep silence: without our participation. We are all supposed to share and take for granted the commonplace ideas of social and civic fairness; but these commonplace ideas are based on our silence. What passes as normal in life is based on this same silence. Gender itself - what men are, what women are - is based on the forced silence of women; and beliefs about community -what a community is, what a community should be - are based on this silence. Societies have been organized to maintain the silence of women - which suggests that we cannot break this deep silence without changing the ways in which societies are organized.

We have made beginnings at breaking the deep silence. We have named force as such when it is used against us, although it once was called something else. It used to be a legal right, for instance, that men had in marriage. They could force their wives to have intercouse and it was not called force or rape; it was called desire or love.

We have challenged the old ideology of sexual conquest as a natural game in which women are targets and men are conquering heroes; and we have said that the model itself is predatory and that those who act out its aggressive imperatives are predators, not lovers. We have said that. We have identified rape; we have identified incest; we have identified battery; we have identified prostitution; we have identified pornography - as crimes against women, as means of exploiting women, as ways of hurting women that are systematic and supported by the practices of the societies in which we live. We have identified sexual exploitation as abuse. We have identified objectification and turning women into commodities for sale as dehumanizing, deeply dehumanizing. We have identified objectification and sexual exploitation as mechanisms for creating inferiority, real inferiority: not an abstract concept but a life lived as an inferior person in a civil society. We have identified patterns of violence that take place in intimate relationships. We know now that most rape is not committed by the dangerous and predatory stranger but by the dangerous and predatory boyfriend, lover, friend, husband, neighbour, the man we are closest to, not the man who is farthest away. ...We have changed social and legal recognition of who the perpetrator is. We have done that. We have challenged what appears to be the permanence of male dominance by destabilizing it, by refusing to accept it as reality, our reality. We have said, No. No, it is not our reality.

And although we have provided services for rape victims, for battered women, we have never been able to provide enough. I suggest to you that if any society took seriously what it means to have half of its population raped, battered as often as women are in both the United States and Canada, we would be turning government buildings into shelters. We would be opening our churches to women and saying, “You own them. Live in them. Do what you want with them.” We would be turning over our universities. What remains to be done? To think about helping a rape victim is one thing; to think about ending rap, is another. We need to end rape. We need to end incest. We need to end battery. We need to end prostitution and we need to end Pornography. That means that we need to refuse to accept that these are natural phenomena that just happen because some guy is having a bad day.

In each country, male dominance is organized differently. In Some countries, women have to deal with genital mutilation. In some countries, abortion is forced so that female foetuses are systematically aborted. In China, forced abortion is state-mandated. In India, a free-market economy forces masses of women to abort female foetuses and, failing that, to commit infanticide on female infants. Think about what policies on abortion mean for living, adult women: the meaning to their status. Notice that the Western concept of choice - crucial to us - does not cover the situation of women in either China or India. Each time we look at the status of women in a given country, we have to look at the ways in which male dominance is organized. In the United States, for instance, we have the growth of a population of serial killers. They are a subculture in my country. They are no longer lonely deviants. Law enforcement sources, always conservative, estimate that each and every day nearly four hundred serial killers are active in the United States.

Read this speech and more by Andrea Dworkin at http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin


mocha.jpgMocha, one of the authors of UV’s world-renowned MOCHA column, died in May. She was 15.

Mocha was a golden retriever, loved pretty much everybody, and was beloved by many who knew her. She was a happy and friendly presence in the Stop AIDS Now Or Else years, as well as at many LAGAI meetings. She lived a full life with Chaya and Deni, and she will be sorely missed.

We often outlive the cats, dogs, frogs and other animals who fill out our lives, and we rarely get a chance to memorialize them in this newsletter. So in Mocha’s memory we pay tribute here to the lives we share with our non-human buddies.

To quote her most trenchant political commentary, “WOOFWOOFWOOFWOOFWOOF!”


Military Out of Our Schools!
Bay Area Regional Counter-Recruitment Conference
October 1-2, 2005
awe@objector.org (510) 465-1617x4

Benefit For Palestinian Political Prisoners
Saturday, June 18 - 4 to 7pm - EL RIO,
3158 Mission @ Cesar Chavez
$7-25 benefit for Addameer


Boycott Badlands

by Daniel

There is something disturbing about the image of people dancing on a sidewalk, urging potential patrons of a bar to cross a picket line organized to boycott a business which has been in violation of numerous civil rights ordinances.

The Castro area bar Badlands and its owner Les Natali have been in the news over the course of the last year or so because of complaints of discrimination against African Americans and others. The San Francisco Human Rights Commission has found that Natali: enforced a door policy illegally requiring multiple forms of I.D. from some African Americans; referred to African Americans as “non-Badlands customers” to be discouraged from patronage; denied entry to African Americans “through the use of a “No Bag” policy that was rarely enforced against white patrons”; selectively applied a dress code to African American patrons; his hiring practices...were discriminatory towards African Americans”; discriminated against an African American woman when she was ejected from the bar for pretextual and unjustified reasons.”

castroforall.jpgThe full text of the SF HRC’s report can be located on the website of the organization And Castro for All at andcastroforall.org.

And Castro for All came out of the IsBadlandsBad campaign which came together about a year ago to take action against the racism and misogyny on display at the Badlands bar. Over the past month And Castro for All has been sponsoring weekly pickets of the bar on Saturday night. Soon thereafter employees of the bar got together a group of people to mock the picketers. This display of open and vociferous support of racism is shocking until you realize the day and age in which we are living.

Natali is owner of a fair chunk of the most prominent queer neighborhood in the world. In addition to the Badlands bar he own the Detour bar, a video store, the former Patio restaurant and is trying to buy the Pendulum bar. This purchase was not finalized because the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is evaluating Natali’s licenses for the Badlands, the Detour and the Pendulum. He has, however, become president of Pendulum, Inc., the company that owns the Pendulum.

The kkkastro is off putting for what it often represents. But it is heartening that many good people are willing to struggle for what the Castro should represent. There is a history of struggle against blatant, overt racism in businesses in the Castro. The early 1990’s was the setting for pickets against stores selling cards with racist imagery and against the Midnight Sun for entry policies remarkably similar to Natali’s. Those businesses were forced to change their policies.

And Castro for All is calling for a boycott of the Badlands. Picket at Badlands every Saturday, 10:00 pm. If you want to learn how to be led on a picket line there is training at 9:00 pm at LYRIC, 127 Collingwood (18th St.).

Interview with Ammah on History of Racism in Queer Communities

by Tory

In an effort to give some historical perspective to the badlands struggle I interviewed Ammah who has first hand knowledge of the longstanding racism in the bars.

Tory - How do you describe yourself?

Ammah- I am an African American lesbian carpenter, mother, spiritual person and grandmother

Tory- You have heard about the badlands bar and les natali. Can you give some history?

Ammah- yes I can really identify. As the flyer says I was ejected a number of times for “pretextual and unjustified reasons”. I was thrown out of many bars back in the day, in the 1970’s

Tory- which bars?

Ammah-We had trouble at all the bars then. The big one was Maud’s Study. Ricky the owner and bar tender at the time would tell racist jokes and then couldn’t understand why I didn’t think they were funny. We were often unfairly carded at the door and if we argued about the treatment we got eighty-sixed. Being thrown out of the bars was a problem because they were one of the few places to meet lesbians.

We also went to Scott’s pit (emphasis here on pit). You know Gwen Avery. Well she was an ace pool player. Scott’s would have pool tournaments. Gwen won a tournament and then had to play Scott in a final game. Gwen won against Scott who then refused to pay Gwen her winnings.

There was A Little More, we called “a little less” because they harassed the women of color constantly singling us out to be carded, unfairly enforcing dress codes.

Don’t forget Kellys, owned by the same person who owned “a little less.” Kelly used to yell at us “ shut your hole bitch” and often eighty-sixed people.

Another way the bars discriminated was by the music selection. The White Horse did this. If the bar never plays music that people of color like to listen to, this also keeps us out of the bar.

Tory- What did you do about this situation?

Ammah- We started GENTE. Gente means folk or “family”. The womens’ bars had softball leagues. The tryouts for these bar teams were very competitive and there were all the problems with racism in the bars. We decided to start a team for women of color, with that as the only criteria for joining. There were no tryouts. We just wanted to have a good time. We did it because we needed a way to provide political support for lesbians of color and to have fun. We wanted to challenge the discrimination in the bars as well as the fierce competition of the bar leagues. It was an alternative to the bars.

We were the worst team. I think we only won one game ever. But we had a great time anyway.. As time went by we did other things, we gave performances. Linda Tillery was on the team and she sang. Some of it was dysfunctional though. There was a lot of drinking. There were a lot of group dynamics, some not positive. People tended to follow certain people just because they had charisma not necessarily because they were good leaders. Still we all became very close.

At first we had no money at all, but we got enough donations to get teeshirts only. They were brown with our logo. Then as time went on we got more support and we were able to get jackets and equipment. More and more people came to cheer us on. Friends came and people brought their children.

We also did philanthropic things. We helped a woman with kids get a refrigerator and pay her rent. We played bid whist.

Bonds were formed that are still strong to this day

Some of us are no longer here, the fallen sisters
Pat Parker
Joanne Garrett
Sandy Brown
Sandy Ajida

Protests Remember Murdered Filipinas

gabnet_vigil_in_los_angeles.jpgGABRIELA Network’s nationwide vigil on Friday, May 20th, 2005, was a solemn reminder of the on-going US intervention in the Philippines and its destructive nature for the Philippine nation and its people. It was also a firm condemnation of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s complicity. Held in six US cities—Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle,—the vigil, organized by GABRIELA Network (GABNet), a US-Philippine women’s solidarity mass organization, was the first nationally coordinated action in the US to protest the escalating political killings in the Philippines since George W. Bush and company declared the country as the second front in the global “war on terror.”

With over two-hundred participants and more than twenty endorsing organizations, the vigil called attention to the intensifying political repression in the Philippines: three-hundred plus political killings and abductions from 2001 to the present; one-hundred cases of human rights violations, affecting 23,252 victims in ninety-one communities from January to March 15, 2005; thirteen journalists killed last year, three in the first quarter of 2005, making the Philippines the most murderous country in the world for the media; murder of eleven women of GABRIELA, a national alliance of more than two-hundred women’s organizations in the Philippines, and of its electoral arm GABRIELA Women’s Party.

The actions in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco were held in front of Philippine Consular offices. Portland’s was held in the city’s Federal Plaza. Seattle’s was at the Westlake Center and Carlos Bulosan Exhibit Community Room. In Los Angeles, the women gagged themselves with black cloth to symbolize the curtailing of press freedom and the attacks on those who dissent. They approached a Philippine Consulate staff and handed placards that contained narratives about the women killed. Women in San Francisco wore purple veils that represented both the mourning for those who have died and the great trauma that is continuously being inflicted by the US military and the Macapagal Arroyo’s government on the people of the Philippines. The program in New York included a chorale reading of the martyred women’s names and how they were killed. GABNet members and supporters refused to be intimidated by several calls from local authorities and the presence of federal agents who took names and pictures of the protestors.

For more information and to get involved, see GABNet’s website, http://www.gabnet.org.


Condition Critical in Haiti

Over 10,000 people marched through the streets of Portau- Prince on May 18 to demand the return of exiled President Jean Bertrand Aristide and an end to the foreign military occupation of Haiti.

Held on the 202nd anniversary of the creation of the Haitian flag, Wednesday’s march was one of the largest in Haiti since U.S. Special Forces soldiers kidnapped Aristide on Feb. 29, 2004.

Called by the popular organizations affiliated to the Lavalas Family party and supported by the National Popular Party (PPN), the demonstration brought together thousands from Cité Soleil, Belair, Carrefour, La Saline, and other popular quarters where anti-coup sentiment runs deep.

As the march ended, a Haitian police came close to having a confrontation with demonstrators. About 20 masked SWAT cops carrying M-14s and M-16s were preparing to enter Belair when they encountered journalist Kevin Pina, a second cameraman and several Haitian radio journalists near the Cathedral. “The Haitian police demanded that Pina not videotape them and one commander asked him exactly what his work is in Haiti,” the Haiti Information Project reported. “Pina showed his press credentials and explained that people in the United States, especially members of the U.S. Congress, want to understand the role of the Haitian police. As Pina continued filming, the SWAT unit literally ran from his camera and left the scene.” Pina was also threatened by Brazilian U.N. occupation troops while filming that day.

The HIP also reported that Haitian police attacked demonstrators returning to Cite Soleil after the march. “According to witnesses, Sanel Joseph was shot and killed by the Haitian police for no apparent reason as he returned home from the demonstration,” the HIP said. “No U.N. security presence or U.N. police monitors were present as the police opened fire.”

On May 16, several thousand marched in Limbé to calls of “Down with the occupation, down with the Feb. 29 kidnapping, long live the return of President Aristide.” Demonstrators denounced repression in the town, where police shot to death a young man earlier this year in Limbé’s Nan Fouwo district. But the demonstration ended without incident in St. Pierre Place.

Ironically, the official Flag Day ceremony held on May 18 in the town of Arcahaie, where the flag was created, was boycotted by the population. De facto President Boniface Alexandre waxed on the flag’s meaning mainly to his entourage. “If our ancestors’ unity allowed us to achieve independence, unity today will give us our pride and dignity,” he said.

But few Haitians see any “pride or dignity” in the illegal, repressive government which acts as a front for a foreign occupation.

Keep Up the Pressure To Free So Anne and Yvon Neptune

Annette Auguste, known as So Anne, a 63 year old grandmother, popular Haitian singer, community organizer and prodemocracy activist, has been imprisoned since Mother’s Day 2004. US Marines stormed her house in Port-au-Prince to arrest her. They came in the middle of the night in direct violation of the Haitian constitution and arrested So Anne without a warrant. During the arrest they killed her two dogs and

cuffed and hooded all members of her family, including four minors under the age of 15.

The Marine’s initially claimed that they had received information that she was stockpiling weapons in her home and collaborating with a local mosque in a plan to attack US interests in Haiti. Since that time the authorities managed to produce a back dated warrant based on bigoted allegations of witchcraft, and unsubstantiated accusations that she participated in violence at a demonstration on December 5, though many witnesses can attest that she was in the recording studio at the time.

Although no weapons were found on the premises and despite the fact that she has never been formally charged due to a lack of evidence against her, she continues to be held at the Petionville Penitentiary. Last November Kofi Annan specifically called for justice in the case of So Anne insisting that she either be charged and tried or released. To date his words have not been heeded by the US installed government, nor has Annan backed up his demands with concrete action.

On May 16, demonstrations and vigils were held around the world to save the life of Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, who had been held in prison for nearly a year without being charged or brought before a judge. Then in the 26th day of a hunger strike to protest his unjust imprisonment, Neptune was said to be close to death.

haiti.jpgCongresswoman Maxine Waters and 14 other members of congress wrote to president bush to urge him to act for Neptune’s release.

In response to the international pressure, Neptune was taken to court on May 25 and charged with “masterminding the killings of political opponents.” He was taken on a stretcher to the hearing, which only lasted a few minutes. The Interim Haitian Government (IGH) is hoping that last Tuesday’s hearing will make us forget about Yvon Neptune. The IGH has tried to sweep the issue under the bed by barring Haitian and international reporters from seeing him in prison. We need to show the IGH, and its international sponsors, that we will not forget about Yvon Neptune or Haiti’s other political prisoners. Please email, call or fax the embassies of the U.S., France and Canada, to let them know that you are still concerned about Yvon Neptune’s life.

During the past year Haiti’s prisons have been filled to overflowing. Human rights groups estimate that in the National Penitentiary alone there are 1054 prisoners and only 9 have been tried and convicted. Haiti’s justice system has been hijacked by an interim government intent on silencing dissent and there is no semblance of due process for those identified as Aristide supporters.

For more information on the cases of So Anne, Yvon Neptune and the ongoing human rights crisis in Haiti please visit the websites for the Haiti Action Committee (www.haitiaction.net) and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (www.ijdh.org).


No Woman is Safe When Prostitute Women Aren’t Safe!

by Rachel West

The In Defense of Prostitute Women’s Safety Project will be holding a community dialog on the Criminalization of Survival: Poverty, Violence and Prostitution on Thursday, June 9 at 7pm,St. Boniface Church, 133 Golden Gate Ave., in San Francisco.

Following from the San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution Report, the SF Board of Supervisors (BOS) passed a resolution that those accused of rape and other violent crimes against sex workers should be arrested and vigorously prosecuted, and that the $7.6 million spent on enforcing anti-prostitution laws be redirected into resources and services. And resulting from a campaign for the rights of homeless people, the DA agreed to an Amnesty which withdraws all pending warrants against homeless people for so-called nuisance “crimes”, the same laws used against sex workers on the street.

The Community Dialogue will give an update on efforts for prevention of violence against prostitute women caused by criminalization, including implementation of the BOS resolution and extending the Amnesty to sex workers. The Community Dialogue aims to bring together: sex workers; church workers; community residents; the legal community; organized labor; ex-cons; youth; LGBT; communities of color and immigrants; homeless people; anti-war, anti-poverty and anti-racist activists; prisoner rights groups and others working for justice and to protect the rights of anyone criminalized by poverty to discuss these vital issues.

For more information on this project call: 415-626-4114 email: sf@crossroadswomen.net


20,000 public workers, teachers, firefighters, nurses, police, and people from our communities who desperately need our services went to Sacramento May 25 to protest Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s $70 million special election and his cruel budget cuts. Go back to Sacramento June 30. http://www.seiu1000.org/.



 We Shot Down the Sheriff
(But We Did Not Shoot the Deputy)

by Tory

In a sneaky attempt at an end run, the Alameda county board of stupervisors tried to appoint “chainsaw” charlie plummer kingpin sheriff to the Alameda County Medical Center board of trustees. His appointment was buried, number thirty nine on the consent calender at the board of stupes meeting May 17. This attempted coup by the b.o.s using chainsaw charlie (called that because of his public display with a chainsaw underscoring his opposition to any budget cuts to the sheriff’s department) was an effort to union bust and to make a grab for the Measure A money.

This is the first year there is no budget deficit at the medical center and progress and improvement might actually happen in the coming years. However the county stupes are insisting on immediate repayment of $192 million dollar so called “loan” to the medical center. This county demand for payback is based on an absurd notion, that the Alameda County Medical Center is a separate entity, simply because the b.o.s. created a new governance structure, the hospital authority. The county is mandated to provide medical care for people without insurance. The b.o.s. is pretending that Highland, John George and Fairmont are not county hospitals and therefore are obligated to repay this enormous debt.

There is no debt. The county was supplying the necessary money to keep their county hospital going until Measure A was passed, providing dedicated funds to the medical center. The unions and health care activists got wind of these insidious machine politics and began pummeling the board of stupes with every form of communication opposing the proposed plummer appointment. People barraged them with questions. How could they put someone who hates the medical center on the board? What about his clear conflict of interest as those who contract with the medical center are prohibited by the bylaws from being on the board?

What about the money earmarked for indigent care taken from the hospitals in past years and given to the sheriff’s department? Is anybody asking for payback of that “loan”?  Stupe Gail Steele could be heard weeping all over town under the pressure.

This pernicious anti-medical center play comes on the heels of a negative grand-jury report which came out the same week as the attempted appointment of chainsaw charlie, blaming all the medical center problems on the unions. Thanks to sleuthing by Brad from local 616 it came out that the foreman of the grand jury is an employee of plummer. It is no accident that the grand-jury relayed almost word for word various plummer complaints about the medical center.

This take-over attempt also coincides with the end of the contract with the con-artist cambio consultants who were paid large sums of money and have not kept any promises to the medical center. A search is being conducted for a new, real, CEO for the medical center. Chainsaw plummer loves the cambio consultants because their one solution to fix the medical center was an attempt to layoff three hundred frontline workers at the medical center. The board of stupes and charlie are pissed at the unions and the community for successfully preventing such devastating layoffs.

So the people called, emailed, and spoke out at the board of stupes meeting in record numbers. The four who voted for chainsaw Haggarty, Steele, Carson and Lai Bitker realized that they had made a big mistake and decided against the appointment, proving once again that the if the will of the people is strong enough politicians will have to pay attention


Help Wanted
(Part II of Our Continuing Report on the Grand Jury, the DA, the Sheriff and other Snarks)

Ann Nomura PUSH (People United To Save Health care) member, writes an extraordinary blog about the medical center: http://www.dailydirt.blogspot.com

“The medical center is not an employment agency for SEIU (healthcare unions).”-Sheriff Charles Chainsaw Plummer

The Sheriff did most of the thinking for the Grand Jury report that slams the medical center. Chainsaw Charlie and Deputy DA Stark, use union bashing as sort of a literary theme to hold the report together. The report concludes that the medical center should fire hundreds of lazy union workers, give millions back to the county and thus “save healthcare.”

Chainsaw Charlie and DA Tom Orloff want that Measure “ A” money; they feel they’ve earned it. Chainsaw endorsed Measure “A” and Orloff was the Treasurer. That much cash doesn’t come to the county without Tom and Chuck taking a piece. They’ve already cut a deal with the Supes; any cash they squeeze out of other county agencies goes right to them, for “public safety.” This has made libraries schools and hospitals feel decidedly “unsafe.”

Besides union bashing, the Grand Jury’s report is remarkable for its uncritical praise for Cambio Healthcare Solutions; in fact the Grand Jury and the Sheriff are the only people in Alameda County who haven’t declared the Cambio consulting deal a complete and expensive failure. Suppose the hospital implemented the huge service cuts recommended by the Grand Jury, who stands to benefit from the cuts and closures at the medical center: Cambio Healthcare Solutions, the Sheriff and the District Attorney. What’s the common denominator here, clout: they all have so much political clout; they don’t have to worry about facts or public opinion.

The Sheriff has 1,500 employees most of them armed; an ex-sheriff is the Chief of Police for Oakland and the Foreman of the Grand Jury. Retired Deputy Boyer, Grand Jury Foreman is a friend of Deputy DA Stark’s daddy congressman “Pete” Stark.

What about the consultants, well, Cambio’s the ENRON of Tennessee. Cambio’s Susan Crutchfield CEO for a second of the medical center sure looks like she’s related to Tennessee’s Senator Crutchfield (he’s getting a lot of attention from the FBI lately).

District Attorney Orloff’s real job is preserving his job; he’s a professional career preservationist. The DA hired Congressman Stark’s son and daughter-in-law, Attorney General Lockyer’s daughter, Congressman Leon Panetta’s kin and many of the sons and daughters of judges in his courts. He’s got so much political capital he’ll be dead and buried and still holding that office.

This is politics after all, its not what you know; its who you know or more precisely, who you hire. The Sheriff is right if the medical center continues to hire people based on their qualifications rather than their “relations” they’re sunk. That’s why the medical center has to begin an aggressive recruitment effort to hire close friends and relatives of important politicians. They need a Senator’s kid or better. If the medical center can bag a Rockefeller or a Kennedy, money might actually flow out of the prisons and into healthcare

Queers from Coast to Coast Demand:  Move World Pride

On May 15, Jerusalem Open House, the queer community center behind World Pride-Jerusalem, suddenly noticed that they were in a war zone. The occasion for this epiphany was the planned israeli pullout from settlements in Gaza, which if on schedule will begin on August 15. World Pride was supposed to begin on August 18. The postponement came immediately after QUIT! published an op-ed in the Bay Area Reporter and issued a press release and video urging queers to boycott the planned celebration in occupied territory. QUIT! does not claim full credit for the postponement, which also came less than a week after the San Francisco board of stupervisors passed a resolution supporting World Pride.  Stupervisors Bevan Dufty and Sophie Maxwell went on a junket to israel a few months ago, funded by the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Under the banner “Love without Borders=Love without Checkpoints,” a press conference this afternoon kicked off the New York element of an international queer demand to relocate World LGBTQ Pride out of Jerusalem. Groups urged that Pride be held in a location where all queers – including Palestinian, Arab and Muslim queers – are safe from state violence. The event was attended by reps from No Pride In Occupation, Queer People of Color Action, Irish Queers, Jews Against the Occupation, Int’l Solidarity Movement (NYC), SUSTAIN-NYC and Students for Justice in Palestine, in conjunction with Aswat – Palestinian Lesbian Organization (Israel/ Palestine.)

No Pride in Occupation (NPIO), a New York-based collective of queer people working in solidarity with the struggle for Palestinian freedom, are outraged by the cynical attempt to distract international attention from Israel’s ongoing racist policies and violent practices against Palestinian people. Queer and straight Palestinians alike are being strangled by a network of checkpoints, roadblocks, curfews, home demolitions,

Jewish-only settlements (illegal under international law), and the “separation barrier” that surrounds Palestinian communities in Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank. To promote an international queer party in the presence of such blatant injustice flies in the face of everything that queer liberation purports to stand for.

“I refuse to dance on the ruins of Palestinian society!” says Steve Quester, a Jewish NPIO member and participant in the Palestinian non-violent resistance in the West Bank. “During World Pride, the violent occupation will be intensified to seal off Jerusalem. The people of the West Bank – gay and straight – will be under military lockdown, unable to buy food, go to school or work, or exercise the basic rights that are regularly curtailed by the Israeli occupation.

A World Pride festival in Jerusalem will happen at the expense of Palestinian freedom, whether it happens this year or the next,” said JF Mulligan of the group Irish Queers, which is supporting the demand to move World Pride. “It’s amazing that the parade has been ‘postponed’ — we will keep working for it to be cancelled,” said Luni, an organizer with Aswat Palestinian Lesbian Organization.

QUIT! joined the call to move World Pride to a more appropriate venue. For information contact No Pride In Occupation (NY) at (917) 517-3627 or QUIT! at (510) 434-1304, quitpalestine@yahoo.com or see www.boycottworldpride.org.


These new road signs magically appeared on the settler road near the largest settlement in the northern West Bank on the morning of a demonstration in Marda village. The army removed them after 10 hours.

Stop the War in Iraq!
September 24, 2005; Gather 11 a.m. Dolores Park
End Occupation from Iraq to Palestine to Haiti
Sponsored by ANSWER 415-821-6545,


The Mocha Column

by Chaya and Deni

Our beloved dog Mocha died in her sleep on May 22 after a long struggle with a serious illness. At 15 she was still (slowly) chasing balls and her strong spirit held onto the love and fun she had in this world far longer than expected. Now she is running free on Sirius, the Dog Star, barking down on all of us for extra biscuits, and always in our hearts.

No mention of Mocha would be complete without reference to her illustrious film career. It began in a seldom seen video entitled “Mocha Puppy,” filmed on location in Golden Gate Park. The video was never released commercially but shows some of her finest work playing a willful and spoiled yet adorably lovable pup. Soon after this, she appeared in “Twin Freaks.” Shown on Electric City, it was a queer spoof of the then-popular TV series “Twin Peaks.” She may be hard to recognize under the blonde wig, but her thrilling performance with the murder weapon was memorable.

She also had a featured role as “the dog” in the Bratty Dyke Show, a part in which she took great care not to over act. In later years, her work before the camera was limited to photo shoots. (Contrary to internet speculation, that was NOT her in “Air Bud.”) As with many of our favorite film stars, Mocha had strong political beliefs and went on many demonstrations for justice, including several for dog rights at Fort Funston and in city parks.


The Interpreter (reviewed by Chaya and Deni)

Sean Penn is a great actor (have we said that enough?) and Nicole Kidman was okay in this chiller from Sidney Pollack. A racist premise (white African woman tries to save less civilized black Africans from themselves) was used as a device to anchor the plot. The film was highly successful at keeping us out of our sad and empty house, but was less successful otherwise.

ENRON, The Smartest Guys in the Room (reviewed by Mindy)

The title tells you a lot about this film’s perspective. This is the ENRON story told through the eyes of several insiders who believed the hype from the beginning. For those of us who didn’t, there’s not much new, enlightening or entertaining in this pedestrian documentary about Kenny-Boy’s really big toy. Are we surprised that they were greedy? Surprised that they lied with impunity? Surprised that it was so easy to cook the books? Surprised at how low they would go? I don’t think so.

The Best of Youth (La Meglio Gioventu) (reviewed by Deni and Chaya)

This movie got such universally stellar reviews we managed to make time to see Part I before its run at the Balboa ended. It was good, it was interesting, but it wasn’t great. Made as a mini-series for Italian television, it had a very superficial treatment of Italian leftist politics, and an unexpected focus on mental illness. The scenery was great and the acting was pretty good. It’s available on video. I guess we’ll have to rent Part II to find out how the story lines end.

Star Wars Episode III (reviewed by Chaya)

Loved the original Star Wars movies, did I (sexist but fun they were). Episode III was far better than the 2 prequels that preceded it, but that’s not saying much. Why does George Lucas insist on writing this terrible dialogue? And why can’t he hire actors who can act? I guess Natalie Portman has the qualifications for the only female role in the film -- pretty and wimpy with that little girl voice. Hayden Christensen is just as pretty and has a fantastic monotone. Jimmy Smits and Samuel L. Jackson were ok in the 3 lines they each had. For the gazillions of dollars they spent making this movie, it could have been a lot better (or provided health care for half the planet for a year). Couldn’t Lucas have invented a woman Jedi master? I don’t like the direction Hollywood’s special effects have gone in – endless fighting scenes and a lot of noise. On the other hand, Deeg and Tory thought it was a good Star Wars movie. It did wrap things up nicely and Deeg felt the muppet came into his own.

Crash (reviewed by Deni and Chaya)

Some movies get worse the more you think about them but Deni thought this one was pretty bad even as we watched it. Ostensibly a movie about racism, it was racist and episodic (but with a good cast, Don Cheadle particularly). The flawed premise lacked a political framework, so the message is that everyone is just plain racist. It’s hard to improve on the Miami Herald’s critique: “contrived, obvious, and overstated, Crash is basically just one white man’s righteous attempt to make other white people feel as if they’ve confronted the problem of racism head-on.”

Kingdom of Heaven (comment by Chaya)

Well we haven’t actually seen it but based on the ads, we wondered if this Hollywood treatment of the crusades was going to be anti-Arab. Director Ridley Scott supposedly consulted Muslim scholars for the storyline, and American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee spokeswoman Laila Al-Qatami said “It’s one of the better representations of Muslims we’ve seen out of Hollywood… At the end of the day, we’re happy.” Have you seen it? Let us know what you think (ok guys, besides the Orlando Bloom eye candy).


That Fabulous Catholic Church: Congratulations to San Francisco’s own Cardinal Levada, the new suppressor of “all heretical perversity.” Perhaps he can get them to change the name of the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” back to its original name, “the Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition” (apparently Pope Paul IV was jealous of the Spanish Inquisition and wanted Rome to rival it). Hey Levada, you want perverts? We got perverts.

And speaking of perverts…the Roman Catholic Church recently refused to allow parishioners who are gluten-intolerant to replace the wheat wafers with rice-based wafers for communion. San Francisco’s Episcopalians bake their own rice wafers and are allowed to bring them to the priest for blessing before communion. What exactly is the RCC afraid of? Betty Crocker, are you listening?

Hot Off the Press: As a final tribute to Mocha, a federal judge just ruled that the National Park Service’s ban on offleash dog walking at Crissy Field and some other areas of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is invalid because it was imposed without public input. Victory!


Yoda is now working on a solo album but really wants to direct.


The Sweet Smell of Sexcess

by Deeg

On June 3 scientists announced success in their program to create lesbian fruit flies.

“When the genetically altered fruit fly was released into the observation chamber, it did what these breeders par excellence tend to do.” the New York Times reported. “ It pursued awaiting virgin female. It gently tapped the girl with its leg, played her a song (using wings as instruments) and, only then, dared to lick her – al part of standard fruit fly seduction.

“The observing scientist looked with disbelief at the show, for the suitor in this case was not a male, but a female that researchers had artificially endowed with a single male-type gene.”

Little did we know that the scientific world had been laboring to create lesbians of any species. It’s been a big month for the gay gene/biology is destiny camp. The May 17 issue of the proceedings of the National Academy of Science carried an article claiming that gay men responded to “putative pheromones,” in a way similar to straight women, and different from straight men. And the same news articles that reported this Swedish study carried results of a yet-unpublished Pennsylvania study of the effects of sexual orientation on perceptions of body odor.

Of course, fruit flies are easy pickings in the genetics biz. Starting with Mendel, they’ve been the chosen species for observation, and later genetic manipulation, because a new generation can be produced every two weeks. So with the standard 18 week semester, you can make it through several generations, and still have plenty of time for set up and report writing. Add to this the fact that few humans really care about fruit flies, and in fact, focus considerable effort on their eliminations. It is the dreaded fruit fly that provides the justification for seizing your peaches when you enter California, and in an attempt to eradicate the Mediterranean variety, they sprayed malathion in residential urban neighborhoods in the late 1970’s.

Now, the fruit fly is not a person, unless you’re thinking like Will and Grace, and we know you don’t do that. It only has 8 chromosomes, for starters, and apparently has a single gene that determines certain sexual behaviors. In 1995, scientists at the National Institutes of Health reported that they could create male-to-male “sexual” activity (they called it a conga line) by transplanting a single gene in such a way that it was activated in every cell. This activation of this gene (which is called the “white” gene because a mutation of it results in a fly having white rather than red eyes) apparently depletes the fly of tryptophan, and somehow this related to a change in male fly behavior.

Although the news articles of the time called this a “gay” fly, it was really a bisexual fly, since if a female is there, the male will fertilize it. According to the NY Times, male and female fruit flies have the same genetic material, and the same neural circuits. However the different mating behavior is determined by how these genes are activated.

Scientists did acknowledge that sexual behavior in (at least some) people is more complicated than in fruit flies, and that although people appear to have a similar gene, it has not been identified as being involved in sexual behavior.

The Swedish study looked at brain activity in response to exposure to two chemicals that are being proposed as human pheromones. A pheromone, in animals, is a substance that may stimulate sexual behavior by sending messages through the vomeronasal organ to the hypothalamus. The existence of human pheromone response is disputed because in humans there is no neuronal connection between the vomeronasal organ and the brain.

Recently, however, scientists have used PET scans to establish that an androgenic compound (related to testosterone) called AND, and to a lesser extent a compound related to estrogen called EST, may stimulate some brain activity. AND is primarily found in male sweat, and EST has been detected in the urine of pregnant women. This research team previously announced that men and women showed different responses on PET scans to exposures to AND and EST, that were in different regions of the brain than the basic odor responses.

In this study, 36 people, 12 each of gay men, straight men, and straight women, were exposed to these chemicals. The results were analyzed for each group. The researchers concluded that homosexual men and straight women processed AND signals in an additional brain area, as compared to straight men. The article does not report variability within each group. And because the hypothalamus is a small region, and the PET scan can not localize signals to such a small area, it may be that gay men and straight women are not processing the signals in the same portion of the brain.

The article itself states that a difference in response between gay and straight men (assuming they had actually proved that) might reflect an innate difference in brain structure. However, the difference could also reflect that gay men, (and straight women) have sex with men, and therefore associate AND with sex. That would be a learned, not an innate, response. The study to be published in September by the Pennsylvania Monell Chemical Senses Center, looked at the response of 82 heterosexual and homosexual women and men to the odors from underarm sweat collected from 24 donors of different genders and sexual orientations. We look forward to analyzing this fascinating piece of research in the September issue of UV.

Bush: The Women’s President

by Kate

You might be surprised to hear that the Bush administration puts achieving women’s near-equality at the top of their agenda. As a part of its feminist agenda, the administration favors a quota system, reserving 25% of seats in the national legislature for women. This would nearly double the number of seats held by women, who now comprise just 15% of the u.s. Congress.

Well, if that motivates you to think that maybe this is your chance to benefit from some affirmative action, don’t file your candidacy papers yet.  The administration only favors these highly progressive policies in Iraq.

Liberation of women is a big part of the Bush administration’s “freedom agenda,” according to Charlotte Ponticelli, State Department coordinator for international women’s issues. “Iraqi women were once among the best educated and most professionally accomplished in the region,” said Ponticelli. “That is why it was shocking to hear from U.N. experts that, by the end of Saddam’s rule, more than two-thirds of all Iraqi women were actually illiterate…” Ponticelli claims the u.s. effort is already paying off, as women’s educational level and participation in civil society has skyrocketed in the two years since the u.s. toppled Saddam’s statue.

An article on the u.s. state department website, “Iraq, Elections and the Role of Women,” brags that “Six women were among the 25 Iraqi Fulbright students and scholars when the program was renewed after being suspended for 14 years. ‘You are the future for an open, democratic, prosperous Iraq. The hopes of your countrymen and women are with you,’ then Secretary Powell told them when they arrived in the U.S. in February 2004.”

Doesn’t quite make sense to you? Don’t believe that thousands of adult women got a four-year college education in two years, after a lifetime of illiteracy? Well, then you’re smarter than the bush people think we are.

The truth of course, is more interesting.

Saddam: The Women’s President?

According to a two comprehensive surveys of the laws and practices concerning the role of women in Iraq, published before the latest war against Iraq began,

“In the 1920s and 1930’s, women in Iraq began working and accepting positions in the job market. In 1970, the Iraqi constitution, under Saddam Hussein, declared all women and men equal before the law. The 1970s and early 1980s were years of economic growth in Iraq and state-induced policies were formed to eradicate illiteracy, educate women and incorporate them into the labor force.

“Labor at that time was scarce and the Iraqi government chose to tap into its own human resources and hire women. Women in Iraq became among the most educated and professional in the entire region, and working outside the home became the norm. Women could find and retain jobs, obtain higher education, and receive extensive medical coverage. A working Iraqi mother received five years of maternity leave. In 1980 women could vote and run for election.” (http://womensissues.about.com/cs/iraq/a/ iraqi_women.htm)

“The primary legal underpinning of women’s equality is contained in the Iraqi Provisional Constitution, which was drafted by [Saddam Hussein’s] Ba’ath party in 1970. Article 19 declares all citizens equal before the law regardless of sex, blood, language, social origin, or religion. In January 1971, Iraq also ratified the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which provide equal protection under international law to all.

“The Iraqi Bureau of Statistics reported that in 1976, women constituted approximately 38 percent of those in the education profession, 31 percent of the medical profession, 25 percent of lab technicians, 15 percent of accountants and 15 percent of civil servants. During the Iran-Iraq war (1980- 88), women assumed greater roles in the workforce in general and the civil service in particular, reflecting the shortage of working age men. Until the 1990s, the number of women working outside the home continued to grow. “In order to further its program of economic development, the government passed a compulsory education law mandating that both sexes attend school through the primary level. Although middle and upper class Iraqi women had been attending university since the 1920s, rural women and girls were largely uneducated until this time. In December 1979, the government passed further legislation requiring the eradication of illiteracy. All illiterate persons between ages fifteen and forty-five were required to attend classes at local “literacy centers” [and] … the literacy gap between males and females narrowed.” (http://www.hrw.org/ backgrounder/wrd/iraq-women.htm)

“After the 1991 Gulf War and economic embargos were applied, living conditions for women in Iraq began to deteriorate. The declining economy caused many women to lose their jobs and abandon their education. Girls and women today are now facing a major learning gap and there has been a sharp decline in adult female literacy. Many women in Iraq now focus all their efforts in search of food and clean water to ensure their family’s survival. Some women have even resorted to prostitution to provide for their children and families. “(http://womensissues.about.com/cs/iraq/a/ iraqi_women.htm)

In 1998, 28 years after the Ba’ath came to power, Saddam made an alliance with the Islamic forces and instituted laws prohibiting women’s employment in government and institutionalizing practices like honor killings. This was a desperate response to the weakening of his regime by the severe economic impact of war and sanctions.

In other words, it was actually u.s. and to a lesser extent u.n. policy which caused women’s role and freedom to be curtailed.

Rend Rahim Francke, an Iraq-born u.s. citizen, was executive Director of the Iraq Foundation, “an organization that promotes democratization in Iraq,” before she was tapped to become the ambassador of the u.s.-backed Iraqi government to Washington. (Conveniently, that meant she didn’t have to leave her adopted hometown.) Francke’s own analysis supports the position that women’s status and freedom in Iraq has historically been fairly high even by western standards. “‘I would say that for the past 50 years, Iraqi women have been a very big component of the professional life of Iraq,” said Francke. “They have been lawyers, doctors, professors, pharmacologists and so on and so forth. So they have contributed professionally, and there was a great deal of freedom for women to choose a profession, and acceptance of women in the professions of Iraq.’

‘What we don’t want to do is to turn around and see that the status of women is far worse under a new non- Ba’ath, non-Saddam Iraq than it was in previous eras,’” said Francke (quoted by Hilary Maynard, in “Women in Iraq: A Political Struggle”, May 2003).

Over Here, Over There

What could possibly make Francke imagine that a u.s.- backed government wouldn’t automatically mean great strides for women’s freedom? Well, possibly she is on the mailing lists of the National Abortion Rights Action League, which would tell her that “Between 1995 and 2004, states enacted 409 anti-choice legislative measures — including 29 in 2004 alone.” and that white house press secretary scott mcclellan recently refused to “dignify with a response” the question of whether bush is opposed to contraception (which for those of you who try not to think about these heterosexual things, is a more medical sounding word for birth control). Or maybe she saw the recent report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, disclosing that u.s. women currently make 76 cents to a man’s dollar, which falls to 66 cents if you are Black and 55 if you are Latina (what’s with those multiples of 11?).

Or maybe she has acquaintances in Afghanistan, where according to everyone from Amnesty International to the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan, the situation of women has worsened since the overthrow of the ultra-misogynist Taliban. “‘They have failed, misguided and betrayed Afghan women by giving them false hope,’ said T. Kumar, an Amnesty International advocacy director for Asia and the Pacific, at a news conference addressing Afghan women’s issues. … Kumar said he believed the Bush administration ‘used the Afghan women’ when it said liberating them was a major reason to remove the Taliban from power. He contends that Afghan women’s rights were never a concern of the Bush administration until after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks,” reports Sara Franke in the Chicago Sun Times, Sept. 23, 2004. The article goes on to say that of $2.5 billion in reconstruction aid given to Afghanistan by the u.s., only $72 million, or 2.8% (actually the article called it less than 1%, but as Tom points out, most journalists were not math majors in school), was allocated for women’s services. “‘Afghan women are not doing as well as many want to believe,’ said Ritu Sharma, executive director for Washington-based advocacy group Women’s Edge Coalition.

‘The administration is not putting its money where its message is.’” In case you were wondering, the cost of destroying Afghanistan and Iraq has so far come to over $300 billion.

RAWA says that the political destabilization resulting from the war has created a worse security situation for women and that the Karzai government has given power to “warlords” who “shamelessly ‘arrest’ young women in the streets to be ‘examined’ whether they are a virgin or not. Such a horrible insult to women has no precedent in all the world.” “Upon the Taliban’s dissolution, the U.S. and her allies transferred political power to the murderous “Northern Alliance” criminals who are far more misogynist and anti-human rights themselves.” (www.rawa.org)

Pal-Women-Poster.JPGPalestinian women actually discovered the quota system without the help of direct u.s. intervention, though the state department now claims it as a victory for its agenda. The 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, created at the Beijing World Conference on Women where a number of Palestinian women’s organizations were represented, states that women should have 30 percent of the decision-making positions in all countries. Thanks to heavy activism from a large coalition of women’s organizations (and as far as I know, none from the u.s. government), in December 2004  the Palestinian Legislative Council passed an amendment to the Local Elections Law requiring that “Wherever there are women candidates, women must be represented in at least two seats within any of the local authority councils.” In the months leading up to the municipal elections held in March and May 2005, the Palestinian Center for Peace and Democracy (PCPD), a Palestinian organization founded in 1993, held workshops for women in villages and refugee camps through the West Bank. These workshops focused on all aspects of the electoral process, from how to run a campaign to how to ask good questions of candidates. My friend Intisar, who conducts workshops for PCPD, explained that a major emphasis of the workshops was to break down the belief that Islamic women should not participate in politics. At first, Intisar said, they would go to villages and talk to the mayors (who were all men), and most of them did not want to have workshops in the village, and they said that no one would come. But eventually they were able to convince them, and then when the women saw that the leaders of the village were encouraging them to participate, they did so enthusiastically.

In the two rounds of municipal elections, women won 163 seats, 103 without the quota and 60 with, giving them about 18% of the total seats. A recent report in the israeli newspaper Haaretz revealed that israeli women hold just 12% of seats on municipal councils; u.s. women make up 23% of city and county councils. The u.s. state department website claims credit for this victory, saying that 8 of the successful candidates attended workshops funded by USAID. However, all the women I know, including some who were successful candidates, attended the workshops conducted by PCPD, which on principle does not accept any money from USAID.

In case anyone is still confused, I should also point out that in the same elections, the Islamic fundamentalist party Hamas was the most successful. The Islamic fundamentalist Hamas won all 15 seats on the council in Qalqilya, and in Tulkarem which has always been dominated by the Communist Party (now Palestinian People’s Party), a majority were elected as independents but Hamas won more than any other party. The same was true in Bethlehem, where the large Christian population might not be expected to prefer an Islamic party. In fact, Hamas was so strong in these elections, that Fatah (the party of President Mahmoud Abbas and the late Yassir Arafat), which controls the Palestinian Legislative Council, is trying to postpone the PLC elections. So whatever it was or wasn’t, the elections can’t really be seen as an endorsement of the u.s.-israeli agenda. Not surprisingly, most women (like most men) said that the primary issues of concern to them are how to counter the economic hardship caused by the israeli occupation, corruption within the Palestinian Authority, and the occupation itself.

I was, of course, glad to read on the state department website that “The establishment of women’s centers throughout Iraq is another source of their empowerment. The U.S. has supported the creation of nine women’s centers in Baghdad and 11 regional centers throughout Iraq. The centers offer computer, financial, and literacy classes, along with access to information on health care, legal services, and women’s rights.” I think it would be great if the Iraq model could be exported to the u.s. because I know that Oakland would really benefit from the establishment of nine women’s centers, and I imagine that Detroit, Dallas and Des Moines would too.

In lieu of empty promises and grandstanding, Women’s Edge is calling on the administration to support reaffirmation of the Beijing Platform for Action, which the u.s. signed at the time of its adoption. Last year, however, in several UN regional meetings, the government refused to support reaffirmation of the Platform. Find out how you can demand real support for women all over the world from “our” government. http://www.genderhealth.org/Beijing+10ltr.php