Obama Moons Occupy
Anarchist Party officials have simultaneously put forth
intentions to collectively occupy the country’s all natural satellite in an
anti-authoritarian, uncolonial manner. “This is a moon for a movement, for a
movement without a moon. We are pursuing the goals set forth in the great
manifesto “The Dispossesed,” by the great theoretician Ursula K. LeGuin. The
anarchist wheel is the perfect shape for a moonbase.”
The administration is hopeful that the nation’s premature
anti-capitalists will go peacefully. The president’s spokesperson noted,
“After all, the Pre-Occupy movement is getting old.”
Hochberg, a long time lesbian activist, died from metastatic cancer on January
8. She was 63 years old. She was born on the lower east side of New York in 1949
in a working class Jewish Family.
Many of us in LAGAI have worked at times with Yvette since
the early 1980s, when she was going by the name Yohimbe. Yvette worked on a wide
variety of social issues -- civil rights, solidarity with international
liberation struggles, anti-war, anti-nukes, and most particularly, women’s and
LBGT struggles. Julie and Deeg worked with her on Palestine solidarity in Jews
Against the US/Israeli Invasion, and in Jewish Women for a Secular Middle East
in 1982-83. Kate worked with her for the past six years doing the KPFA women’s
magazine. She spent some of the time in between living in various African
countries, and other time working on a variety of causes and projects in the Bay
Area. As with many other activists,
we honor her commitment, her seemingly tireless activism, and her courage, and
we will miss her.
When Yvette’s cancer became known, Kate was part of the
group who organized her support. We have reprinted below part of Kate’s blog
written the day after Yvette’s death.
Yvette was a champion “networker” (my friend Chaya said
the first time she heard that word used was in connection with Yvette).
She didn’t work for money much, preferring to live off the grid.
She housesat – in fact she housesat for me the first couple times I
went to Palestine. She ate at the
events she went to, or at the food pantries where she volunteered; where she got
the little bits of money she spent on food from the Discount Grocer, laundry and
the occasional play or movie she couldn’t get comped to, I never knew.
She went to every political or cultural event she could cram into a week,
often volunteering in exchange for getting in free.
She volunteered at the Arab Film Festival, the South Asian Film Festival,
the Queer Women of Color Film Festival, the Queer Arts Festival, dozens of other
festivals I never heard of. She
cared especially about Palestine solidarity, Africa (she spent the nineties
traveling through much of Africa, living in ten different countries), and
disabled women’s issues. She went
to parties and lectures and discussion groups.
We used to joke that she was like Zelig, turning up everywhere you went.
She would always sit in the very front and as soon as the event was over,
if she liked it, she would be introducing herself to the speakers or performers,
getting their numbers, recruiting them for events she was working on.
It was a talent I both envied and found irritating.
A lot of my friends felt she never gave them the time of day because they
weren’t important enough. I felt
that way myself at times. Yet on a
deeper level, I think all that networking left her lonely.
Everyone called her friend – in the last five years, just about
everyone I ever told, “I work on Women’s Magazine on KPFA,” would answer
“Oh, I’m friends with Yvette.” She
had a steady stream of women – mostly women, the occasional man – visiting
her in the hospital and then the nursing home.
Yet when she checked herself into the hospital the first time, thinking
she was having a stroke, and got the dreadful news about her diagnosis, she was
all alone. It was we at Women’s
Magazine, who didn’t know where she’d grown up or how many siblings she had,
who rallied around to raise money for her treatment and living expenses, and set
up a website for people to help with rides and meals.
And when we said we wanted to do that, she was truly surprised. I think
she had no idea how much people cared for her.
The last time I saw Yvette, we were talking about a benefit
that was being organized to raise money for her treatments. She wasn’t even
sure if she was going to be able to make it but she was very worried that the
food wouldn’t be consistent with her all-organic, whole grain no salt or
processed sugar diet. She wanted me
to make sure there was plenty of food and that she’d be able to eat it.
I believe she loved every minute of her life. I never got the sense from Yvette that she ever got up thinking, “I wish I didn’t have so much to do today.” I might be wrong, but my impression is that until she got too sick to make it to the events she wanted to go to she looked forward to every day. And that, I think, was her true gift.
Almost immediately after their release from jail, Susan and
Diana went on a delegation to Nicaragua. She
later volunteered at a clinic in El Salvador, and then decided to make health
care her career. She became a
physician’s assistant and worked for nearly 15 years with homeless youth in
We were later connected through Steve Masover, a longtime
friend and comrade of LAGAI, who was her housemate for 14 years and part of her
chosen family for 30.
I didn’t know until her funeral that she came from a
military family and was the oldest of six kids.
Her siblings talked about her as their “little mom.”
Her sister said, “She was nearly perfect.”
Susan and her partner, Bob Kamin, were killed in late
January by their adopted son. Bob
worked as a psychologist at the San Francisco County Jail.
At the funeral, community activists mingled with sheriffs and cops (one
of her brothers is a cop). The
priest and Susan’s father made moving statements about wanting restorative
justice for Moses, Susan and Bob’s son, who confessed to the murders and is
being tried as an adult. Her father
commented that he obviously needs more love than he is likely to receive in our
Susan provided clinical services to the San Francisco
Homeless Youth Alliance and the Women’s Community Clinic.
The Susan Poff Memorial Fund for Homeless Youth has been created to honor
her legacy. To contribute, go to http://www.causes.com/causes/651034-homeless-youth-alliance-the-susan-poff-memorial-fund/actions?recruiter_id=17853560.
Our love goes out to Steve and all of Susan and Bob’s
myriad friends and family. I wish I
had had the chance to know her better, but feel privileged to have known her at
Against Equality (www.againstequality.org) is putting
together a new anthology of erotic fiction, so we need your help! We’re
looking for submissions of original, unpublished stories between 1500 - 2000
words that incorporate our political agenda of challenging mainstream gay and
lesbian politics (ie. marriage, military service, and hate crimes legislation)
into the storyline. We’re always trying to find new ways to animate our
politics; what more fun and sexy way to share our political project than with
naughty tales of queer debauchery and gender terrorism!?
We want to hear about your wildest fantasies of raucous
anti-war organizing, lesbian wolf packs fighting to end anti-queer violence
(Born in Flames tribute anyone?), trans prison librarians organizing erotic
poetry writing groups, seducing marriage equality interns to the dark side, and
lots more! These are just a few examples to get all your juices flowing.
And remember: political erotica (when is erotica not political?) doesn’t
have to be dull and didactic - let your imaginations run wild!
Submissions are due May 15th by email to email@example.com;
we hope to complete the editing process early in the summer. Each
contributor selected for publication will receive two copies of the book as
compensation. Submissions should be formatted as either .doc, .docx, .pdf,
or .txt files. Please include a short 50 - 100 word bio.
Submissions are due May 15th by email to firstname.lastname@example.org;
we hope to complete the editing process early in the summer. Each
contributor selected for publication will receive two copies of the book as
compensation. Submissions should be formatted as either .doc, .docx, .pdf,
or .txt files. Please include a short 50 - 100 word bio.
There is a new resource for California’s lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender elders with comprehensive information about the rights
and services that are available. The guide, “Navigating the System: A
Know-Your-Rights Guide for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders in
California,” is designed as a resource to empower and help protect
California’s LGBT elders who are often targets of discrimination due to their
sexual orientation or gender identity. The 61-page guide is published by the
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Lavender Seniors of the East Bay,
Transgender Law Center, Openhouse, and Planning for Elders in the Central City.
It offers a wide range of resources for the state’s LGBT elders.
A recent survey found that the majority of LGBT elders feared they would face discrimination if they were open about their identity in long-term care facilities, with more than half believing that staff or other residents would abuse or neglect them. LGBT individuals — and elders in particular — are also more likely to struggle financially than their straight peers, with same-sex elder male couples more likely to live in poverty, and same-sex elder female couples twice as likely. A San Francisco study found that almost 62 percent of gay men and lesbians aged 60 and older earned less than $39,000, including over 42 percent who earned less than $26,000. Transgender elders in particular, because of ongoing and systemic discrimination, experience poverty at extraordinary rates.
I applied for Social Security four months ago.
To date I have not heard one word from social security in spite of the
instructions to apply three months before the needed start date.
I call the national number monthly, from the sound of it a huge call
center, no doubt under-paid, contracted-out employees not even getting federal
benefits or union representation. The
people are very polite but have no more information about my social security
than I get by going on-line. Once a
week I check the computer, only to be told no decision has been made on my
claim. What decision is there, I ask
myself. I worked all these years; I
am supposed to get it. I need it. What the Fuck, as I have learned to say at
I have become somewhat obsessed by the Occupy movement and
Occupy Oakland in particular. Trying to get Social Security, a benefit I have
contributed to all my working life, one that the big business representing
government is trying to get rid of or privatize, becomes a case in point.
Focusing on Taxing the Rich so that everyone else can have health care,
social security, schools, libraries etc. becomes a unifying principle. We all
yearn for a really huge movement that can end the ever corrupting capitalism.
There was a spark of hope and an excitement that more than our small affinity
groups were making demonstrations.
I began hanging around the tent city in the renamed Oscar
Grant Plaza in front of City Hall, amazed at the world that was being created,
the kitchen, the library, a school, a garden, the wooden pathways, finding tents
of familiar organizations, tents for particular caucuses. The breadth of
involvement was dramatic. At least for a short time the old leftists, the young
leftists/anarchists, and houseless people had found a way to work together. The
structure for decision making, at least on the face of it was the General
Assembly that adopted its own form of consensus and voting. Interestingly the
GAs soon became a funnel, sort of a focal point for many parts of the broader
left. For example journalist Barbara Becnel who had organized support for Stan
Tookie Williams and the anti death penalty /prison abolition people proposed a
national day in solidarity with prisoners and to occupy San Quentin Day for
February 20. The GA supported the
longshore workers struggle in Longview, Washington and were working on caravans
to go there to prevent union-busting EGT from using scabs to unload a ship.
Occupy Oakland passed a resolution to support striking Red Vine licorice workers
in Union City and rushed off to join the picket line. Most recently the GA
passed a proposal to support Palestine and the Boycott Divest and Sanction
movement. The occupy movement has had a focusing and galvanizing effect on the
left progressive movement.
On October 25, the Oakland police, at the behest of the
city and business power elites, raided and destroyed the community of tents and
viciously attacked protesting defenders. Occupy Oakland called for an immediate
general strike in response. On November 2nd, there was a huge 30,000 people
march which shut down of the port, one of the more truly spectacular marches I
have been on in long time. A huge sign strung between light posts in downtown
Oakland read a heartwarming DEATH TO CAPITALISM.
It was a radical festival of the left, united, excited, exuberant,
feeling the power of so many people. The unions participated and encouraged
members to go. The port became a sea of people framed against the sunset and the
giant stream of walkers. It was a moment of a spark of resistance, of rising up,
The occupy movement called for and succeeded in a West
Coast Port shut down on December 12, in part to support for the longshore
workers in Longview and in part to hit capitalism where it hurts.
This particular action succeeded in spite of a massive disinformation
campaign by the port, the city, business and even the longshore unions who,
unlike the Oakland Education Association, bailed under pressure. Ads were taken
out in papers to stop the action and still it happened and the ports were
disrupted and shut down all up and down the West Coast.
Remember, the port does not give one penny to the city of Oakland, not to
schools, libraries, or infrastructure, hospitals, NOTHING.
What money it pays goes only to the state.
The Black Panthers and Elaine Brown fought this battle in the sixties and
it has never changed. The Port of
Oakland is an excellent target for a militant campaign and people should march
on it constantly, much to the chagrin of the powers that protect the
multi-national corporations, because as the December 12th shutdown shows, it
really only takes a few thousand people to disrupt the Port. LAGAI-Queer
Insurrection was proud to turn out with the Feminist Queer Bloc at 5 a.m. for
I discovered that it is possible to follow what is
happening by looking at the twitter feed on the Occupy Oakland website and then
understood finally ( I am a late bloomer) the role of social media so often
talked about in relation to the Arab spring movements. As events unfolded in
downtown Oakland at the plaza, the GA police attacks, U-streamers, citizen
journalists would post to the twitter stream on the #OO website alerting people
to their coverage. I could then watch what unfolded from wherever I happened to
be with my computer. The U-streaming would have their own twitter feeds going
along with the filming, making a curious information feedback loop.
I began to learn some of the people, sort of #OO personalities. Bella
Eiko is a young African-American woman always at #OO who gave a fiery speech at
the city council one evening against the council’s proposal to give the police
full license to stop port actions, and who writes interesting blogs and also
U-streams. Another streamer is OakFoSho, a somewhat pompous man who quit his day
job to U-stream for the movement. His
best attribute is his tenacity and his better quality equipment.
He caught all of the police kettle on January 28 from beginning to end,
confirming that indeed the police did not give any dispersal orders and
completely trapped protesters who might have wanted to leave.
The #OO twitter feed acts like a news reporting service to
the movement sending good articles, pictures and alerts about demos.
Thanks to #OO, I saw the floating tents supported by helium balloons
launched by OccupyCal. I was able to
watch two of my favorite Occupy related actions #Aquapy and # Chalkupy. #Aquapy
has produced two homemade boats launched in Lake Merritt as an act of protest.
The last lake-going occupy was done on J29, a day after the OPD carnage
in downtown Oakland, with a lovely house boat called OO Hope Floats. It had a
front porch, a white picket fence floating on 65 gallon drums. On the back of
the little floating houseboat, a sign read "3.5 million homeless, 185
million vacant homes in America today, why won't you let us in?" It floated
on Lake Merritt until the following Wednesday when the police towed the then
empty house boat to shore flanked by the fire department because as the tweets
commented, “the police can’t swim.”
#Chalkupy Oakland was a civil disobedience action by
Dandelion and others who were doing lovely chalk art at Oscar Gant Plaza only to
be told they must move to allow for spray washing of the plaza.
The chalkers responded, sure clean the plaza, but not here; we are doing
art. It soon became clear that the
spray washing was only to get rid of the chalk art. A great youtube video was
made of this confrontation with the police and city workers over #chalkupy.
I still couldn’t figure out how to really be part of this
movement. It seemed very male dominated, a complete deja vu experience of the
sixties. The GA did not vote to pass the proposal to change the name of Occupy
Oakland to Decolonize Oakland at the request of People of Color and Indigenous
people out of respect to the horror the word occupy brings to so many
communities world wide. This was a mistake. At this point in a movement it is a
travesty that a basic beginning understanding of racism is so lacking and all
for the sake some notion about branding the word “occupy.”
The movement itself is smaller and has become increasingly
divided over the diversity of tactics issue, i.e. the (mostly figurative) use of
force against the police and the property destruction. Weekly Fuck the Police
marches which began in January following the vicious police response to Occupy
Oakland have been controversial. While
I support angry militant response to a rogue police force, clearly in my
decrepit state with knee problems I cannot keep up with fast running marches and
fighting with the police. That ship has sailed for me.
So I was excited when I saw a flier announcing an open
meeting for the Feminist Queer Bloc, a way for me to get involved!
The meeting was large and held in a big drafty hall in West
Oakland, run and called by a group of people who had been meeting in response to
the sexism, homophobia and transphobia of the #OO, with the idea of doing an
autonomous take-over action of an abandoned building for a space for Women,
Queer and Trans people. What was
immediately refreshing is that for the first time in my experience in many years
the word feminist was actually being used albeit somewhat tentatively and in the
context of Queer and Trans liberation. I was excited even hopeful.
I began attending meetings and found that there was a disagreement in the
group over the act of opening it to the wider women and queer community because
of issues of security involved in taking a building.
Knowing that the only way to get a feel for a group is by
regular attendance and longevity, I started going to the every Thursday night
meeting, which immediately began to shrink.
Word was that most of the original people who started the group were
pulling out. I tried hard to fit in. I learned the vernacular as best I could. I
began saying “meet-up” for meeting place, and “zine distro” for
literature table. I felt so old. At least once a meeting someone would ask me if
I was in Code Pink. No one ever
asked me what political work I had done, although I tried to speak up when it
was my turn so people would get to know me a little.
As a group we did a day long occupation at 19th and
Telegraph on January 8th, a day of workshops, music, food and a glitter salon.
It was attended by many people from #OO, holding various committee
meetings there to show support.
We decided to march as a bloc on Move-in Day J28.
The Feminist Queer Bloc, also called the Glitter Bloc, was to lead off
the march, which was going to an undisclosed location to take a building to make
a community center for #OO. We all
marched off as a bloc trying to lead the march, with Kate, Carla, Deeg and me
representing LAGAI-Queer Insurrection. At
regular intervals men with shields would runs in front of us, apparently not
knowing the pre-arranged plan. One of them waving his shield and shouted
“It’s the revolution”, wishful thinking I guess and I have been there
myself. In all fairness there was nothing particularly defining about us except
for glitter, as the banner “Feminist Queers Against Capitalism “has gone
missing (a familiar LAGAI problem). I
marched along and finally the march met police lines and so was diverted through
Laney College, quite a sight with people carrying furniture and sleeping bags up
and down stairs. By that point it was clear that the target for Move-in Day was
the old empty kaiser convention center, also clearly no secret from the police
who ringed the entire block. At this
point I knew my knee couldn’t hold out, either going up any more stairs or
running from the police, so I decided to get a car to move closer to the march.
By the time we got BART to car and came back to the march the police were
running amok, gassing, shooting and beating protestors.
There has been much talk, debate, writing and u-streaming
of the events of that night, police brutality, and subsequent reports of
tortuous treatment in santa rita jail. The
police are the enforcers of capitalism. All critique needs to come down to a
matter of strategy. I desperately want a revolution and end to this evil system!
I want Occupy Oakland to really think how to do that. A strategy that results in
a smaller and smaller number of predominately young white men focused on
fighting the police may not be it. As a movement we must strive to include. That
means challenging oppression in all its forms. #OO must revisit the issue of its
name . The word occupy is not an inclusive description, with its evil
connotation. #OO must change its name to Decolonize if the GA’s decision to
support BDS and Palestine is to have any meaning. Real support for woman and
queers means changing behavior on the part of men. The planning of
demonstrations needs to be mindful of peoples’s varying mobility.
To really overthrow capitalism we will need a mass movement
the likes of which we have never yet seen with everybody involved in whatever
way they can be. Those of us who can no longer fight in the streets with the
police must make our own demonstrations while making alliances with others
toward the common goal of economic justice. While #OO rages in the street, Old
Lesbians Organizing for Change (OLOC) was shutting down the bank of america with
So revolution better happen soon.
I really need my social security!
DEATH TO CAPITALISM
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Bank of America on Mission street locks their door,
hires guard to stand watch! Two police cars with their armed "peace
keepers" observe as a mass of wild old women, aka WOW,
non-violently occupy the sidewalk in front of the bank, voicing their
free speech rights with signs and words.
The instigator of this action is Tita Caldwell. Tita was
born in Sweden eighty years ago and was raised in Guatamala. She was
13 when the Guatamalan revolution started in 1944. She proudly took on the
responsibility of directing traffic in her neighborhood. This was the
beginning of her lifelong activism for peace and social justice: Nica, Viet,
AIDS, Iraq, civil rights for all people.
In the last 6 years she has been actively involved with
OLOC, Old Lesbians Organizing for Change. She understands through the
lens of ageism, that global corporatism, greed and violence against
the planet and humanity is the product of endless war and hatred. In mid
December, inspired by OWS and OO, she was compelled to organize her neighbors at
Coleridge Park to occupy the nearby the bank. Actions have been on-going most
weeks since then.
These days she is out there on the streets again inspiring other old women like myself and our allies to speak our minds and to be a visible force to be respected. WOW, sisterhood is powerful.
On January 20, 2012 (J20), thousands of people from every
sector of the Bay Area braved cold and rain to stage dozens of direct actions
and events in San Francisco’s Financial District, in front of the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals, and disrupting the City Hall auction of
bank-foreclosed homes. The Occupy Wall Street West action involved dozens of
affinity groups (people self-organized into groups to participate in the
occupation) and over 55 labor, environmental, student, tenant, homeowner, arts,
LGBT, peace, and community organizations targeting specific banks and
Though the media called the action a failure because people
got to work, and the police helped minimize the coverage by declining to make
arrests, the 1% definitely felt the impact of the day of occupation and the
weeks of actions that led up to it. Thousands
One group kicked off the day of action dressed as giant squids at Goldman Sachs,
which Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi refers to as “a great vampire squid
wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into
anything that smells like money”.
Protestors shut down wells fargo corporate headquarters on
Montgomery Street by chaining themselves to the doors. Police arrested at least
eleven protestors who demanded an end to predatory bank evictions and
foreclosures. Around the corner, dozens blockaded bank of america’s main
branch, while at citicorp’s 1 Sansome office, protestors staged a mock
foreclosure, piling furniture and moving boxes into the revolving door at the
main entrance. At other sites around downtown, there were flash mobs and brass
bands, guerrilla theater, marches, demonstrations at the ninth circuit kkkourt
of appeals, and food distribution.
Labor activists put foam in a fountain at the Grand Hyatt
at Union Square to protest the anti-labor practices of the hotel chain, calling
for a boycott in support of workers who are fighting for fair contracts at all
three San Francisco Hyatts. Protestors led by the Filipino Community Center,
with participation from the Chinese Progressive Association of San Francisco,
occupied the Citi Apartments office to fight for workers’ stolen wages.
Meanwhile, at Occupy the Auction, Occupy Bernal protestors
and supporters got the news that their planned protest at the weekly foreclosure
auctions led Wells Fargo to postpone a foreclosure auction of the property
rented by Bernal neighbors Maria and Washington Davila. Maria Davila and other
foreclosure fighters thanked the crowd of about two hundred protestors for this
first important step toward stopping banks from their predatory evictions and
foreclosures throughout San Francisco.
A march ended at Van Ness Avenue at Geary where hundreds of
protestors had a rainy standoff with the SFPD, who used pepper spray. More than
a hundred occupiers gained entrance to the Cathedral Hill Hotel at 1001 Van Ness
Ave. where they held a housewarming party and occupied the hotel until the early
hours of the following morning. A site of labor disputes, the hotel sits vacant
while 10,000 homeless people are living on the streets of San Francisco.
We read today the United States Supreme Court came down on
the side of the Luthoran
Church-Metropolis Synod (LC-MS) in its recent unanimous decision. The court
agreed with the Church’s assertion that people without superpowers are sinful
and are going to spend eternity in the Phantom Zone.
The case involved a former teacher at a LC-MS Parochial School for Small
Minds`in its Smallville District.
Unlike the more modern minded E-vangelical Luthoran Church
of America (E-LCA), LC-MS does not ordain women or the gays.
It disagrees with the heretical earth two interpretation of the Smalkaldc
Articles and its position on the Syncretistic Controversy.
The teacher had been diagnosed with TNSD (Temporary
Non-Superpower Disorder) and was seeking to get her job back after a leave of
absence. Because LC-MS does not ordain women (or the gays),
the church said that as a teacher she was ordained. The court agreed with
the church against the anti-God EEOC that they could fire her.
After it was revealed that an Arch-Villainess had
infiltrated the Komen Board. Using her powers derived from the Anti-Choice
serum, she got Planned Parenthood
defunded. The Internet League of
Justice was able to defeat the Arch-Villainess
California now has 33 prisons, with a total capacity of
about 80,000 people. In 2006, when a lawsuit brought over medical treatment in
the prisons resulted in establishment of a federal receiver, the population was
156,000, almost twice the capacity. Then governor schwarzenegger declared prison
over-crowding to be a “state of emergency” and sent almost 10,000 inmates to
prisons in other states. Over 5000 other state prisoners are housed in state
“fire camps” and private prisons in California.
In May 2011, with the prison population at approximately
143,000, the u.s. supreme kkkourt agreed that current conditions in the prisons
violated the 8th amendment constitutional protection against cruel and unusual
punishment, and ordered that by mid 2013, the prison population be reduced to
110,000, a mere 137 percent of capacity.
In January 2012 it was announced that California had met
the first goal in reducing the state’s prison population to 133,000. Brown has
vowed not to meet the 110,000 goal through either early release or transfer of
current state inmates to local jails. Rather, people who are newly convicted of
non-violent, non-serious, non-sexual offences will serve their sentences in
county jails. County jails are already being filled to capacity with new
“state prisoners”, i.e. people convicted of felonies that don’t require
placement in a state prison under the new rules. In the three months since
implementation of the policy, the LA County jail received 900 new state
prisoners, 300 above the expected number of 600 under the plan. Los Angeles
operates the largest county jail system in the state, with over 20,000 adult
The California state prison system is racist and
incompetent at best, and you can add corruption and cruelty as its normal
practice. If you had any questions about that, they should have been resolved by
the CDCR’s response to the recent prison hunger strikes. So we can all be
forgiven for thinking that anything that moves people out of this system, and
substitutes community-based supervision for incarceration, and moves people
closer to their friends and families would be a good thing. But several problems
have already emerged:
There seems to be little commitment to anything but
incarceration. For example, brown’s ballot measure to increase taxes to fund
things like education will also include funding to build new jail facilities in
25 counties. This measure does not include any funding for alternatives to
incarceration. Community based alternatives to incarceration have better
outcomes, and cost less than 50 percent of the cost of incarceration.
The amount of money being provided to the counties is not
sufficient to cope with the increased population. CDCR’s cost per inmate was
$47, 000 in 2008, but CDCR is not providing that level of support to county
jails who will house “state prisoners.”
For example, LA county is receiving resources to support an additional
1800 beds but is expected to get an additional 8000 inmates.
In addition, CDCR’s plans are increasing over-crowding at
the state’s women’s prisons. Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) is planned
to be converted to a men’s facility, with most of the women shifted into the
Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF), and the California Institute for
Women (CIIW). This has already exacerbated overcrowding.
A Joint Statement from women at VSPW and CCWF states:
“This summer, the State announced it would release 3,000 women under the new
“Alternative Custody Program,” allowing women with short sentences to return
home to their families and children to complete their sentences. Less than 20
people have been approved for release under this program; and far fewer have
actually been released. The rest of the 3000, who it was projected would meet
the criteria for release, are being disqualified often for minor reasons that
have nothing to do with public safety. One of us authoring this piece was denied
due to a typo in her prison file and an error in her medical file. There is no
due process or right to appeal. There is no timeline for rereview or a process
to prevent further errors from blocking release. We hear that anyone with even
the smallest medical need is being denied consideration. Some women are refusing
all medications and treatments for the chance to be home with their children, to
their grave detriment.”
The statement continues, “We implore communities to take
Realignment seriously and to adopt community-based, non-custodial alternatives
to imprisonment in State or county lock-ups. We also care about the conditions
in men’s prisons—imprisoned within them are our brothers, sons, husbands,
and fathers. All we ask is that, until Realignment efforts actually deliver the
promised numbers of released people, do not further overcrowd women. Do not
abuse us just because you can.
“Promises and projections to release thousands of women
disguise the ever increasing overcrowding in women’s prisons. The truth is
most women are not going home. The California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation plans to move women out of Valley State Prison for Women and fill
the institution with men as soon as possible. This conversion requires the
further crowding of two remaining women’s prisons: Central California
Women’s Facility and California Institution for Women. The majority of us will
go to, or remain in, the world’s largest prison for women, Central California
Women’s Facility. We will not go home to our communities.
“Currently, all the women’s prisons are operating far
above design capacity. Even as Valley State Prison for Women prepares to empty
its cells, those of us housed there recently received a busload of women from
Live Oak. In truth, even if Valley State Prison for Women’s whole population
were released tomorrow (which it will not be), we would still live in
overcrowded conditions in the remaining women’s prisons.” The full statement
can be found at: http://jnow.org/downloads/VSPW_statement.pdf.
It is well past time to reverse the culture of
incarceration in California. While we support anything that improves conditions
in prisons, our goal must remain abolition. No more cages.
Students protest hearings of the House Unamerican Activities Committee at
San Francisco City Hall: Only 50
people were allowed into the hearings. As
students lined up, demanding to be allowed into the hearings to see what was
going on, police attacked them with fire hoses, literally washing them down the
steps of City Hall. Participant
Michael Rossman recounts: “The
demonstration surged forward, not to seize the hose or the attackers, but to
defy them. The singing rose over the sound of the spray and we pressed together.
The police were prepared for this and charged us, their clubs swinging. I turned
and saw a youth lying face-down on the upper step. He was moving slightly and
several students tried to reach him. They were knocked back by clubs. The police
were holding him down. He somehow managed to stand -- blood had already covered
a third of his face. About sixty persons huddled together in the face of two
heavy streams of water and about twenty policemen. We sang the National Anthem.
… A girl was lying unconscious on the hall floor, a policeman dragging her
limp form onward. A man rushed out to the officer and hassled for a moment. He
stopped, and the man opened the girl's eyelids. ‘She’s alive,’ he said. At
my side a man laughed.” http://www.mrossman.org/www/huac.html
April 6, 1968,
Bobby Hutton (“Little Bobby”) was killed by Oakland police, who ambushed a
carload of Black Panther Party members. Hutton
was one of the original BPP members, joining up two years earlier at age 16. He
was shot more than twelve times after he had already surrendered and stripped
down to his underwear to prove he was not armed. His funeral was attended by
over 2000 people, including Marlon Brando and James Baldwin.
In 1969, 348 Panthers were arrested nationwide, most charged with
felonies, as part of the government’s war on the Party, which had formed
initially to combat the systematic brutalization of the African American
community by police in Oakland. In
an early form of Copwatching, Panthers followed patrol cars armed with shotguns
and law books. The BPP was the
target of probably the most brutal COINTELPRO in history, in the course of which
dozens of Panther leaders were assassinated.
1969: On April 20, 1969 a group
of about 100 people took over a vacant lot owned by the University of California
and began planting, clearing debris and setting up play equipment for kids.
They named it People’s Park. On
May 15, Gov. Ronald Reagan sent 300 California Highway Patrol and Berkeley
police officers into the park. They
cleared an 8-block area around the park while a large section of what had been
planted was destroyed and an 8-foot tall perimeter chain-link fence erected.
Meanwhile, about 3,000 people appeared in Sproul
Plaza at nearby U.C. Berkeley for a rally, the original purpose of
which was to discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict. ASUC Student Body
President Dan Siegel (who was advisor to Mayor Jean Quan
until he resigned over the raids on Occupy Oakland) led
the crowd to defend the park. According
to Wikipedia, “Arriving in the early afternoon, the protesters were met by the
remaining 159 Berkeley and university police officers assigned to guard the
fenced-off park site. The protesters opened a fire hydrant, the officers fired tear
gas canisters, some protesters attempted to tear down the fence, and
bottles, rocks, and bricks
were thrown…. officers in full riot gear (helmets, shields and gas masks)
obscured their badges to avoid being identified and headed into the crowds with nightsticks swinging.
Alameda County Sheriff's deputies used shotguns to fire "00" buckshot at people sitting on the roof at the Telegraph
Repertory Cinema, fatally wounding student James Rector and permanently blinding
carpenter Alan Blanchard. At least
128 Berkeley residents were admitted to local hospitals for head trauma, shotgun
wounds, and other serious injuries inflicted by police….Sheriff Frank Madigan
admitted that some of his deputies (many of whom were Vietnam
War veterans) had been overly aggressive in their pursuit of the
protesters, acting "as though they were Viet Cong….Reagan declared a state of
emergency in Berkeley and sent in 2,700 National Guard troops. For two weeks the
streets of Berkeley were patrolled by National Guardsmen who broke up even small
demonstrations with teargas.”
Tax Day 1984:
San Francisco police attacked a noon demonstration outside the Hilton
Hotel, where war criminal and Nobel laureate Henry Kissinger was speaking.
As protesters attempted to march around the hotel, cops rode into the
crowd on horses and chased people with batons.
At least ten people went to the hospital, and over 100 were arrested.
One person was tried for a felony for allegedly assaulting a police
horse, which had to be put out to pasture.
Moral Majority and
Democratic Convention protests, 1984: Leading
up to the Democratic Convention at San Francisco’s brand new Moscone Center,
SFPD had been getting more violent toward protests.
A few days before the convention began, about 1000 people gathered at
Union Square to protest the “Family Forum” being held at a nearby hotel by
Jerry Falwell’ Moral Majority. Police
in riot gear attacked the demonstration with horses and clubs, sending numerous
people to the hospital. A few days
later, on the first day of the convention, police surrounded a march of about
100 punks and anarchists and arrested them all on “felony conspiracy to block
the sidewalk”. Their hope was to
keep all the “troublemakers” in jail for the duration of the convention, but
lawyers from the Lawyers’ Guild foiled them by finding a judge to release
people on their own recognizance. Three
days later, on the final day of the convention, police again surrounded a
peaceful march, penned us in (what’s now called “kettling”) and took us
all to jail to wait out the rest of the convention.
When this was announced at a Rock Against Racism concert being held
nearby, about 500 people marched to the Hall of Justice, where they were met by
hundreds of heavily armed riot police and sheriffs.
Several hundred were violently arrested, including rock star Michelle
Shocked, whose arrest photo graces the cover of her second album Short Sharp
September 1, 1987:
Brian Willson, a Vietnam veteran, was run over by a train at Concord
Naval Weapons Station, where he and a group of religious pacifists had been
blocking shipments of weapons bound for Central America.
A few days later, thousands of activists tore up the tracks at the
weapons base, which also houses and transports nuclear weapons.
Billy Nessin was arrested and charged with felony conspiracy for having
allegedly organized the action; no co-conspirator was ever named.
The trial dragged on for two years before Billy was allowed to plead
guilty to a misdemeanor and sentenced to community service.
Food Not Bombs: On
August 15, 1988, San Francisco police showed up to the corner at Haight and
Stanyan where Food Not Bombs had been serving food for several years and
arrested the servers because they were "making a political statement and
that's not allowed." The city
claimed the group needed a permit from the Parks Department.
Then they changed their tune and said they needed a permit from the
Health Department. Even though
California state law clearly stated that no one was required to have this permit
unless they were selling or making money from distributing the food, the police
made over 1,000 arrests over two years. Several
people were charged with felony food distribution and many did six months in SF
San Francisco Police penned in demonstration against president george h.w.
bush at the St. Francis Hotel, and beat them with batons.
Iconic United Farm Workers leader Dolores Huerta was hit in the spleen
and critically injured. A grand jury
was convened allegedly to investigate the violation of Huerta’s civil rights;
activists who were subpoenaed were asked questions like “What’s an affinity
group?” and “Who organized the protest?”
Lesbian activist Monique Doryland, who had the misfortune to be standing
next to Huerta, refused to testify to the grand jury and was threatened with
being jailed for contempt.
October 6, 1989:
San Francisco police attacked a routine demonstration by the AIDS
Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). By
the time the march had made it from the Federal Building to the Castro, five
people had been arrested and many had been hit with batons for crossing against
the light or being too slow to move onto the sidewalk.
Police, under command of Chief Frank Jordan and Mayor Art Agnos, declared
“martial law” in the Castro, forcing hundreds of Friday night party-ers to
flee into the Castro Theater or Orphan Andy’s diner to avoid being arrested.
Several hundred were arrested, and at least six hospitalized.
As ACT UP San Francisco prepared to host activists from all over the
country to protest the Sixth International AIDS Conference at Moscone Center,
which international people with AIDS were barred from attending due to U.S.
immigration policy, San Francisco police started a rumor that we planned to
attack them with HIV-positive blood. Gary
Delagnes, president of the Police Officers Association, said on television,
“I’m not going to say I’d take out my gun and shoot them, but I’m not
gonna say I wouldn’t.” Several
hundred protesters were arrested during the course of the four-day conference
(There Would Not Be Blood).
San Francisco police surrounded and arrested several hundred people
(including most of LAGAI) marching in solidarity with the people of Los Angeles
after four white police officers were acquitted of brutally beating African
American motorist Rodney King. The
next night, Police Chief Dick Hongisto, a former progressive Sheriff and member
of the Board of Supervisors, declared the planned demonstration at 24th &
Mission an unlawful assembly before people even arrived.
When people began to gather, waves upon waves were arrested; several
hundred were sent across the Bay to Alameda County Jail in Santa Rita for the
weekend. This led to the first
successful use of small claims court to win some reparations for capricious
arrests of protesters. The next
issue of the San Francisco Bay Times featured a cartoon picture of Hongisto
posing suggestively with a night stick and the headline, “Dick’s Cool New
Tool: Martial Law.” Delagnes,
ostensibly acting on his own, went around confiscating thousands of copies of
the free paper. Six weeks later, the
Police Commission fired Hongisto – not for declaring martial law, but because
they believed he ordered the censorship of the Bay Times.
May 5, 2002:
Richmond police brutalize long-time nonviolent community organizer Andres
Soto and his family members, when he questioned their actions at a Cinco de Mayo
celebration. Soto reported, “While
they were pepper spraying me, some of the remaining officers shoved Alejandro
(my son) to the ground on top of Gina and her 5 year old daughter Alexis.
Alejandro picked up the little girl and returned her to her mother and then was
hit in the face with pepper spray. They threw him down on the pavement causing
numerous abrasions and cuffed him. Che was pummeled, cuffed, pepper sprayed at
point blank and had his face rubbed into the ground.”
March 20-23, 2003:
Over 1,500 people were arrested, most merely for marching down the
street, after an estimated 20,000 shut down the financial district on the first
day of the second Iraq War. At
times, marchers were ordered onto the sidewalk and then surrounded and arrested
when we complied.
April 7, 2003:
Oakland police, under orders from Mayor Jerry Brown, attacked a
nonviolent picket at the SSA terminal at the Port of Oakland, where weapons are
loaded to be shipped to Iraq. Police
fired wooden dowels and rubber-coated steel bullets at the picketers, and
numerous people were wounded.
July 7, 2010:
After a week of media hype about the threat of “outside agitators”
creating a “violent” response to BART cop Johannes Mehserle’s conviction
for involuntary manslaughter in the killing of unarmed passenger Oscar Grant,
Oakland police preemptively arrested 78 people on a nonviolent march.
In preparation for the protests, Tory and her coworkers at the VA clinic
in downtown Oakland were told they would be evacuated to underground bunkers to
wait out the protest. Fortunately,
Tory was able to escape and go to the demonstration.
Police closed all the downtown BART stations, which seemed like a
particularly bad way to get people to leave the area.
BART police and San Francisco police repeatedly shut down all stations in
San Francisco for hours at a time to prevent demonstrations protesting their
killing of Charles Hill, a drunk houseless passenger they said had attacked them
with a knife that was found in his pocket after he was dead.
There was more outcry over their decision to interrupt cellphone service
during one protest than over either the murder of Hill, the disruption of
transit or the mass arrest of protesters holding signs in public areas of BART
By Chaya and Deni
After seeing the ads for Tinker Tailor (see below) which stars seven –
count ‘em – seven men, and barely includes women, this French movie made us
wonder if patriarchy was experiencing a tiny little downturn in France. A movie
that centers on a pre-adolescent girl and her younger sister! Really? Hooray for
writer-director Celine Sciamma and her engaging movie. We first meet 10 year old
Laure and her 6 year old sister Jeanne as they are moving to a new town over the
summer. Laure is a tomboy, good at sports, and with her short haircut and
androgynous summer clothes she is mistaken for a boy by the kids in her new
neighborhood. She decides not to correct them and introduces herself as Michael.
She hangs out with another girl (Lisa), and they have a little kiss, but she
seems more attracted to her new role, and what life is like passing as a boy,
than to Lisa. Her life works for a while, but between family, society and school
starting, how long can it go on this way? Many call this film a lesbian coming
of age story, but it seems more like a story about gender exploration and
limitations. The acting, writing and cinematography were all excellent. It’s
probably not playing in theaters anymore, but definitely worth getting. See it!
My Week With
Marilyn (review by Deni): I love
Marilyn Monroe. I’ve loved her since I saw her in The Misfits in the 60s. She
got into my heart with her acting, her persona, her story, and of course her
physical/sexual self. (You should see The Misfits if you haven’t, but be
prepared for a film with much heartbreak and despair.) I liked the film “My
Week With Marilyn.” Michelle Williams gave a luminous performance, with strong
supporting roles by Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench. The script was a little
uneven and sometimes the pacing seemed off, but to me it didn’t matter. I
wanted to be inside the movie with Marilyn, I wanted to be the assistant (Colin
Clarke) that got to take her out to the countryside. (The film was based on his
book about that episode.)
In 2000, I entered Marilyn’s world another way, through
Joyce Carol Oates’ historical novel Blonde (based on Marilyn’s life.) At
times grim, often brutal, it really takes you inside Marilyn’s life and
emotions (though Oates has never called it a biography.) Blonde does address the
issue of Marilyn’s involvement with the Kennedys, and her possible
assassination by them. A movie of Blonde by filmmaker Andrew Dominik has been
“in the works” since 2010 with Naomi Watts as Marilyn. It will be
interesting to see if this project goes forward after My Week With Marilyn. You
might like My Week even if you’re not a Marilyn fan – it got some excellent
reviews. For me, it was another way to step closer to her again.
The Girl With the
Dragon Tattoo (review by Chaya):
I liked the book (the first novel of Swedish writer and journalist Stieg
Larsson’s international best selling Millennium Trilogy) and I liked the
movie. Larsson died suddenly of a heart attack in 2004 before the trilogy was
published. I missed seeing the well-regarded Swedish movies that were made
several years ago, and I didn’t think it was necessary for Hollywood to chime
in with its own version. As I read the book, I wondered what motivated Stieg
Larsson to create the lead character of Lisbeth Salander, who experienced
horrendous abuse in her past and can’t totally get away from it in her present
life. According to Wikipedia, Larsson witnessed the gang rape of a young girl
when he was 14. He never forgave himself for failing to help the girl, whose
name was Lisbeth. The book’s original Swedish title is “Men Who Hate
Larsson’s thriller also involves crimes of sexual
torture/murder of many women, and I know that some women stayed away from the
movies because of Larsson’s sexual violence themes. I guess I’m not a fan of
director David Fincher, since I never saw any of his movies (Zodiac, Seven,
Fight Club) but I think he did a pretty good job of capturing the often-creepy
tone of the novel. Following the leisurely development of the book’s
storyline, it takes a while for our damaged bisexual punk investigator/hacker
heroine (Lisbeth) to team up with our disgraced investigative journalist hero (Mikael
Blomkvist) to solve an old murder. The film features strong acting by Rooney
Mara, Daniel Craig and Christopher Plummer, the screenplay was sharp, and the
location cinematography was visually beautiful. Of course they had to take some
liberties with the novel, changing some things I would not have changed. Most
offensive was the movie’s characterization of Lisbeth’s second legal
guardian as fat. The book describes him as a trim tennis player. It wasn’t bad
enough that he was a vicious rapist. He had to be further vilified by being
portrayed as fat. For those of you who missed the Fat Liberation Movement of the
1970s – 1990s, being fat is not a character flaw and fat people are not
disgusting. To see the Fat Liberation Manifesto from 1973, go to http://www.eskimo.com/~largesse/Archives/FU/manifesto.html.
As for the movie, see it.
Soldier Spy (review by Deni)
I never read the book by John Le Carre, who also wrote the
script. I heard the plot was quite complex so I read a summary before seeing the
movie to give myself a fighting chance at understanding the twists and turns. I
thought the film might be interesting and provocative – Soviet Union intrigue,
Cold War and all. But alas, no. The
movie was boring and convoluted, with an unending supply of male characters that
I didn’t care much about at all. And it was SO long – it could’ve easily
been edited by half an hour, which wouldn’t have helped much except to shorten
This is one of the most remarkable movies we’ve seen in a long time and
possibly the hardest to do justice to in our short Mocha Column blurbs. It’s
about a young African-American Brooklyn lesbian poet named Alike (ah-lee-kay)
who is dealing with her sexuality and coming out within the context of family,
friends, high school, and the world at large. Which almost makes it sound boring
and like something you’ve seen many times before. In fact, it’s quite the
opposite: Pariah presents a riveting and unique voice. The film was written and
directed by Dee Rees. Rees’ own experiences - from her closeted life growing
up in Tennessee to the open queer culture she saw when she moved to and came out
in NYC - provided impetus and material for the film. Her beautifully written
script is spot-on in its honesty and realism, and is supported by the sterling
acting of lead Adepero Oduye and strong performances by supporting actors
Pernell Walker (Alike’s best friend and out-lesbian Laura), Kim Wayans (mom),
Charles Parnell (dad), and Sahra Mellesse (younger sister). Though it
received a cinematography award from Sundance, Chaya found the camera work
jarring (a lot of fast cutting from close-up to close-up) which kicked in her
motion sickness. Pariah is a wrenching yet hopeful film, and as one reviewer
said, “One of the most remarkable facts about Pariah is how it manages almost
completely to avoid stereotypes.” Well, almost, except for some of the
ways her mom was characterized as the “bad” parent. Finally, ok, we all know
how stupid the Oscars are, but for this film to have been totally ignored is
shameful. If you have seen Pariah already, treat yourself and see it again.
For some beautiful video interviews, see the links below:
(Interviews with Adepero Oduye and Kim Wayans about the movie and their roles in it.)
(Interview with Pernell Walker about the film and her role as Laura)
And of course, for a more in-depth review, there’s the always-insightful racialicious
Young Adult (review
by Cole): Mavis (Charlize Theron), the
former prom queen of a small town, has an unfulfilling life in the Twin
Cities combined with a drinking problem. She receives a baby shower
invitation from her high school boyfriend Buddy (Patrick Wilson - total hottie)
and decides the key to her happiness would be to reclaim Buddy. I could
sympathize with the misguided attempt to attain emotional well-being
by reaching into the past; unfortunately, I couldn't sympathize with Mavis. The
protagonist is shallow and self-absorbed; she is oblivious to the problems of
others and, worse yet, an irresponsible guardian of her dog. The portrayal
lacked enough drama to allow all of us to enjoy the sick
satisfaction of watching the crash and burn of the prototypical person
who made our high school years miserable. Rather, she's like a bad instance of
motion sickness -- you just want her to go away. A late in the game effort
by the filmmaker to engage the viewer's empathy fails and Buddy, demonstrating
not only principles but common sense, emphatically rejects Mavis's advances. One
might wonder if the film is yet another misogynist example of the damnation of a
wicked woman, but Mavis's character doesn't achieve wickedness -- she's just
annoying. At least I remembered to get the senior discount.
A Separation (review
by Chaya): Iranian film
writer-director Asghar Farhadi begins “A Separation” with a powerfully
dramatic scene: wife Simin and husband Nader are shown appearing in court before
a judge, whose voice is heard but who does not appear on camera. Simin (Leila
Hatami) wants a divorce because Nader (Peyman Moadi) will not leave Iran with
her. It wasn’t very clear why Simin wants to leave, there’s a possible
inference about her educational opportunities and being a woman in Iran. But
Nader’s aging father has dementia, and if they leave the country there is no
one to care for him. The judge denies Simin’s petition for divorce, but she
moves out of their apartment anyway, leaving their 11-year-old daughter Termeh (Sarina
Farhadi) with Nader. He hires a woman to care for his father while he himself is
at work. A dramatic incident occurs between Nader and the caregiver that results
in more legal and interpersonal complications between the caregiver and her
husband, and between Simin and Nader.
Several Iranian filmmakers have been jailed and banned from
filmmaking for “propaganda against the system,” but filmmaker Farhadi says
he likes to tell stories, he doesn’t make political films. He is interested in
what he describes as the friction between Iran’s new middle class (more modern
and urban) and the lower middle class (more traditional and religious). Focusing
on the two couples, their families, and the legal system in “A Separation”
is his vehicle. It’s a look at present-day Iran that most Americans would
never see. We noted that women are strongly present in his film: Simin, her
daughter Termeh (who played a very interesting role), and the woman who is hired
as the caregiver are all major characters. The acting was excellent. The story
and writing were engaging. But it needed to be edited for length (it needed to
lose about 30 minutes of its two hour running time). After an hour and a half,
it began to wear me down and my interest wavered a bit. The characters got
somewhat less sympathetic as the movie went on. While we were still interested
in the outcome, it got harder to care about the characters. Farhadi is now
living in Paris, and his next film will be in France. He’s definitely a
filmmaker to watch. See it.
BITS AND PIECES
“Watch Your Rights
Go Down the Tubes” Geography Quiz: In what state(s) did the following
events take place? See bottom of Mocha Column for answers. And no cheating! We
Who Needs the Leash?:
A man was tased by a federal park ranger over an incident with his 11-pound
off-leash dog in a federal park.
Through Pepper Spray: An incident in which a group of Tongan people,
including a 4-year-old, were pepper-sprayed by police last October was just a
cultural misunderstanding and no one will be charged, prosecutors say. It was
reportedly the first time police had seen a haka (traditional Maori dance) after
fans at a high school football game performed it last year. "Witnesses and
participants of the event each experienced the events having come from a
different background or experiences,'' said the County Attorney.
Oh You Can’t Scare
Me I’m Sticking to the Union: This state joins 22 others (and is the first
state in the Midwest manufacturing belt) to enact a right to work law. Under
right-to-work laws, companies can no longer negotiate a contract with a union
that requires non-members to pay fees for representation, thereby weakening
Union strength and representation. There is no empirical evidence that “right
to work” creates one job. The National Right to Work Committee was formed by a
group of southern businessmen with the express purpose of fighting unions. State
voters have made clear that they want a public referendum on the controversial
Remember the 1968
National Democratic Convention?: The mayor of this major city in this state
proposed a set of ordinances to prepare for protests during the G-8/NATO summit
meetings in May. Though he initially stated that these ordinances would apply
only during the summit, he later acknowledged that they would be permanent. The
new laws include the following provisions: authorization for the mayor to
purchase and deploy surveillance cameras throughout the city, without any type
of oversight; restrictions on public activity, including amplified sound and
morning gatherings; restrictions on parades, including the requirement to
purchase an insurance policy worth $1 million and to register every sign or
banner that will be held by more than one person; the power to deputize many
different types of law enforcement personnel other than the local police
department. There will be designated protest areas, for which the locations are
not yet determined, and they can be changed without explanation by the Secret
Service. The business group chosen to oversee the summits is accelerating
planning and fundraising for the meetings but will continue to do much of its
work out of public view. Michael Shields (President, Fraternal Order of Police)
said, “This pre-summit police training is a waste. There's no doubt we need
training. We need to know how to deal with these anarchists. But we don't need
to learn how to use our baton.”
Does It Come With
Fries?: Deputies say they used a stun gun on a woman who blocked a
McDonald’s drive-thru for 20 minutes after employees refused to serve her
because she broke in line.
No Child’s Behind
Left Unpaddled: Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-NY, reintroduced her bill to ban
schools from paddling students, a measure that stirred a national debate last
year but died in a congressional committee. The bill would withhold federal
funds from public and private schools that allow corporal punishment of
students. African American students are disproportionately represented among the
200,000 students paddled each year. Can you name some of the 19 states that
allow “paddling” in schools?
But I've grown older
and wiser, And that's why I'm turning you in, So love me, love me, love me,
I'm a liberal (Phil Ochs): Indefinite detention will now be codified into law,
with no time or geographic limitation, and can be used to militarily detain
people captured far from any battlefield, and not limited to people captured in
the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war.
Here’s What Your
Billions Are Paying For: Approved a law that will penalize those who
organize or publicly endorse political boycotts against the country, including
campaigns directed at universities, settlements and businesses in the West
What Time Is It?
It’s Girl Scout Cookie Time!: When a transgendered Colorado girl was
denied enrollment in a local Girl Scout troop, the national Girl Scouts stepped
in to enforce their policy of acceptance: “Girl Scouts is an inclusive
organization and we accept all girls in Kindergarten through 12th grade as
members,” the statement says. “If a child identifies as a girl and the
child's family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a
Girl Scout.” So the girl was in! But then, a right-wing, 14 year old girl,
representing herself and the right-wing, anti-LGBT, anti-woman group named
“Honest Girl Scouts,” called for a boycott of Girl Scout Cookies to protest
transgender inclusion. Ah-ha! Many of us thought that meant we’d have to stock
up on Girl Scout Cookies to fight the boycott (sacrifices, sacrifices). But then
some folks decided they wanted to donate directly to the troop of the
transgendered girl, which of course thrust us into further contradictions, as
you will see. From the TransYouth Family Allies website: “Any donations made
online will go toward cookies that will be distributed to their (the
transgendered girl’s troop) hometown charity, Mount Saint Vincent Home, which
has assisted over 18,000 abused and neglected Colorado children since 1883. (Ok
with us so far.) Proceeds will also go to Boots on the Ground, which distributes
Girl Scout Cookies to active-duty military service members.” (Oh dear, will we
be sending Girl Scout Cookies to U.S. troops bombing civilians in Afghanistan?
That doesn’t really seem like a great solution.) Too complex for us; perhaps
we will skip the online cookie support, and just buy locally and hope for the
best. That’s the way the cookie crumbles… (You didn’t really expect us not
to slip that in somewhere, did you???)
Appoints George Clooney Undersecretary of State: You may find this concept
of George Clooney and international politics a tad far-fetched, but keep in mind
the players and remember the complexity of the 2005 film Syriana (oil politics
involving the U.S. and Middle East) with Clooney as its star. Ok, here’s the
current Mocha Column theory: In early fall 2011, many BDS (Boycott, Divestment,
Sanctions) supporters implored Clooney not to go to the September Haifa Film
Festival, which was opening with Clooney’s film “Ides of March” (reviewed
by the Mocha Column as a “skip it”). Did liberal George respect the cultural
boycott of Israel and honor the Palestinian struggle? Well, no, off he went.
Now, pay close attention to this ensuing plot twist. Just a few months later in
November, Israel was threatening Iran with bombing attacks. Robert Baer, the
actual CIA operative played by Clooney in “Syriana,” was predicting Israel
would follow through on its threats. Baer based his beliefs on several unnamed
high-ranking Israeli sources, as well as a former Mossad chief. The Mocha Column
strongly suspects that during Clooney’s September visit to Israel, he
transmitted critical intelligence info leading the Israeli government to believe
that it could carry out attacks on Iran and be fully supported (as usual) by the
U.S. However, when the Mocha Column gave Clooney’s movie “Ides of March”
such a resounding thumbs down, the Israeli government reconsidered the veracity
of Clooney as a source, and pulled back on its bombing threats. Until now. But
with Clooney’s current Oscar nominations, the Israeli government now believes
George to be credible again and has once again (at press time) upped their level
of threatening to bomb Iran. If George actually wins an Oscar for The
Descendants, Israel may interpret this as a clear U.S. go-ahead to bomb. And
since the Mocha Column didn’t see or review this movie, Israel is forced to
rely on the Oscars for their final decision. If only George had honored the
boycott of Israel… (Hey, we don’t make this stuff up, we just connect the
And Speaking of
Israel, No Tunes in June!: There is some indication that Bruce Springsteen
and the E Street Band will play a concert in Israel in June (Little Steven: you
can’t!). Contact Bruce on facebook www.facebook.com/Bruce.Springsteen.Justice.not.apartheid?sk=wall
and remind him of the lyrics to “I Ain’t Gonna Play Sun City” which his
bandmember Steven Van Zandt wrote and Bruce (among others) recorded to protest
South African apartheid. Urge Bruce to honor the cultural boycott of Israel.
Perhaps he could do a benefit concert for the Colorado Girl Scouts instead.
We're rockers and
rappers united and strong
We're here to talk about South Africa we don't like what's going on
It's time for some justice it's time for the truth
We've realized there's only one thing we can do
I ain't gonna play
It's time to accept our responsibility
Freedom is a privilege nobody rides for free
Look around the world baby it can't be denied
Why are we always on the wrong side
And here’s a confidential note to Lady Gaga (who is also
going to play in Tel Aviv): being queer positive means honoring queer
Palestinians. Honor the boycott!
Some Pigs Are More
Equal Than Others: After the Fox network attacked Ms. Piggy’s role in her
new movie as being anti-oil company, Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog responded at
a press conference. “It’s a funny thing, they were concerned about us having
some prejudice against oil companies, and I can tell you that’s categorically
not true,” Kermit explained. “And besides, if we have problems with oil
companies, why would we have spent the entire film driving around a gas-guzzling
Rolls-Royce?” Miss Piggy added: “It’s almost as laughable as accusing Fox
News of being, uh, you know, being news.”
(Thanks to our Chicago stringer, Billie, for this late-breaking news
Answers to Geography
Quiz (ARE YOU PEEKING?)
1) California, 2) Utah, 3) Indiana, 4) Chicago, Illinois,
5) North Carolina, 6) 19 states, go look them up yourself, 7) every single state
in the great U.S. of A., 8) Israel, the 51st state
WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF
To me the funny thing about the controversy over the use of
“mischievous suit-and-tie wearing chimpanzees playing tricks on their human
co-worker” in one of the ads for the big football game today is that the ads
really do show wall street for what it is—a bunch of guys in ties playing
games. I love the other ad that
shows the ass-kissing chimp too.
OK is it fair to the chimps used in the ads?
Absolutely not; these are chimps who have been living in captivity and
there is nothing “fair” about their lives at this point at all as far as I
am concerned. But the zoos and other
conservation interests are worried that the ads give people a false impression
that chimps are cute and fun and they don’t need to be conserved in the wild.
Also that people around the world watching the ad might want them as
pets. These seem like
legitimate concerns and it makes me think about how LGBTQQI people “in the
wild” are treated as well. Really,
I worry that those cute, easy-going, funny lesbians and gay
men on TV give people a false impression that there is no oppression anymore. So
that when they meet a real live lesbian who is angry and disgruntled with the
society they are “shocked”. And
what about those LGBTQQI who don’t act “just like” straight people? Like
radical fairies wearing dresses with beards?
What about those of us who don’t even want kids?
Who don’t want rich white men to run the world whether they are
straight or gay?
I also find the polar bear soda ad offensive (but somehow
that is not the focus of any controversy). Cuddly polar bears in scarves
watching the game on TV in an ice cave drinking soda? Ugh?
This year there are polar bears starving due to the reduction in sea ice,
particularly in the Hudson Bay area, which keeps them from their traditional
hunting of seals using the sea ice as platforms. Skinny polar bears with skin
hanging off their frames are depressing but that is what they should be showing
And back to my analogy with the LGBTQQI community;
acceptance is still the exception not the rule in the dis-united states and
And speaking of ads, check out the climate change ad from
2008 with Newt and Nancy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi6n_-wB154
If nothing else torpedoes his conservative credentials,
this should (who picked that couch? Not a gay person, clearly!).
And in the spirit of equal time I’d recommend this
snippet on Romney trying to explain flip-flopping on choice and gay rights.
And Ron Paul explaining that marriage should not be a
federal issue but left to the states and the church etc.
Unfortunately, the problem with states’ rights is it supports all kinds
of discrimination like the oppression of immigrants in Arizona and voting rights
limitations that are cropping up all over along with denying LGBTQQI rights.
I think it will be a long strange year on the campaign trail.
Issue 101 Out of Control—Lesbian Committee to Support
Women Political Prisoners February 2012
Day in Support of Prisoners on Feb 20
A National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners is long
overdue. The Occupy movement across the county should call attention to the
racism and repression of poor and working people perpetuated by the prison
system and mass incarceration as “the New Jim Crow.” The brutality of this
system, including the mistreatment of those in the Secured Housing Unit (SHUs)
and in solitary confinement for decades, must be exposed. The money that is
going to fund the largest Prison Industrial Complex in the world should be going
to fund education, housing, health care and other human services. We call on
Occupies across the country to end unjust sentences such as the Death Penalty
and Life Without the Possibility of Parole, to stand in solidarity with
movements initiated by prisoners, including the Georgia Prison Strike and the
Pelican Bay/California Prisoners Hunger Strike, and to free all unjustly
imprisoned political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier and
The Bay Area action will be a demonstration in front of San
Quentin State Prison—where male death row prisoners are housed, where Stanley
Tookie Williams was unjustly executed by the State of California in 2005 and
where Kevin Cooper, an innocent man on death row, is currently imprisoned. The
demonstration will bring the voices of the men and women inside across the walls
by featuring prisoners’ writings and other artistic and political expressions.
The organizers will reach out and include a broad range of community groups,
faith communities, campuses and reach out to prisoners, former prisoners and
their family members.
We will reach out to Occupys across the country to have
similar demonstrations—or other actions as deemed appropriate by their
group—outside of prisons throughout the nation on Monday, February 20th (which
is Presidents Day—chosen as a non-weekend day to avoid conflict with
prisoners’ visitation at San Quentin).
For more information, please go to:
One good man or one good woman can change the world, can
push back the evil, and their work can be a beacon for millions, for billions.
Are you that man or woman? If so, may the Great Spirit bless you. If not, why
not? We must each of us be that person. That will transform the world overnight.
That would be a miracle, yes, but a miracle within our power, our healing power.
~ Leonard Peltier
Following a Sunday morning spiritual ceremony at Alcatraz,
the Leonard Peltier Walk for Human Rights departed from Alcatraz Island on
December 18, 2011. According to Dennis Banks, a founding member of the American
Indian Movement, the six month, cross country march is an effort to save the
life of political prisoner Leonard Peltier, imprisoned for over 35 years. The
march seeks to raise humanitarian attention to Peltier’s critical health
situation, and to encourage President Obama to provide an Executive Clemency.
Peltier’s health is deteriorating.
He is a diabetic, and has been denied proper medical
treatment. He is an artist and going blind.
As we go to press, the march is crossing the Arizona border
to New Mexico. The march plans to continue through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina,
Virginia. The march is scheduled to arrive in Washington, DC, on or around May
18, 2012. This event is sponsored and coordinated by Wind Chases the Sun, Inc.,
N5679 Skylark Drive, DePere, WI 54115. For more information contact Dorothy
Ninham at 920-713-8114 or Gina Buenrostro at 920-713-2205 or visit
www.leonardpeltierwalkforhumanrights.com Financial support and volunteers are
still needed for the Walk. Checks and money orders should be made payable to
Wind Chases the Sun, Inc. and sent to N5679 Skylark Drive, DePere, WI 54115. Or
donate securely online at www.leonardpeltierwalkforhumanrights.com. You can also
call the White House comment line at 202-456-1212 and express freedom now for
As of 1/27/12, Mumia Abu-Jamal has been transferred to
General Prison Population in SCI Mahanoy, Frackville, PA This is the first time
Mumia has been in General Population since his arrest in 1981. In December,
after Philadelphia prosecutor Seth William announced he would no longer pursue
the death penalty in Mumia’s case. Mumia’s sentence went from death to life
in prison making him el igi b l e for general population. He was immediately
transferred off Death Row at SCI Green to SCI Mahanony. However, Mahanony
Superintendent John Kerestes refused to place Mumia in General Population.
Instead, Kerestes cast Mumia into the hole, revoking his phone privileges and
demanding that he cut his dredlocks and submit to blood samples before he could
be admitted to General Population. The victory of Mumia’s transfer to General
Population came within hours of the of delivery of over 5,500 signed petitions
to Department of Corrections headquarters in Camp Hill, PA and a complaint filed
with United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez In a phone call
to his wife, Mumia sent a message to his supporters:
My dear friends, brothers and sisters—I want to thank you
for your real hard work and support. I am no longer on death row, no longer in
the hole, I’m in population. This is only part one and I thank you all for the
work you’ve done.
But the struggle is for freedom!
From Mumia and Wadiya, Ona Move.
Long Live John Africa!
Please note that while Mumia’s transfer out of the
infamous Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) is a victory, this is far from enough. We
call for the closure of ALL RHU’s! And we continue to call for the immediate
release of Mumia Abu- Jamal.
For more info, please contact Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Coalition, NYC P.O. Box 16, College Station, NY, NY 10030 212-330-8029, www.FreeMumia.com, info@FreeMumia.com
Write to Mumia:
Mumia Abu-Jamal, #AM833, SCI Mahanoy, 301 Morea Road, Frackville, PA 1793
Under a new state law, Cook County, Illinois jailers will
not be allowed to shackle pregnant prisoners and those in postpartum recovery
unless they are deemed to pose security or flight risks. The legislation, which
takes effect June 1, was signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in January.
In 1999, Illinois became the first state to ban the
practice of shackling women who were in labor. That law banned restraints of any
kind, including handcuffs and leg irons, used on women who were either in labor
or being taken to the hospital to give birth. But in recent years, women have
come forward to say that shackles were not removed until the moment before they
delivered their children, or were never removed at all. Roughly 80 women have
joined a class-action suit against the Cook County sheriff’s office, saying
they were restrained during labor, according to Thomas G. Morrissey, an attorney
who, along with Kenneth N. Flaxman, is representing the women. Flaxman called
the new law a “step forward and a step back.” He praised the new language
that extended the ban on shackling so it applies to all pregnant women,
regardless of whether they are in labor, but worried about how law enforcement
would decide which prisoners are flight or security risks.
The effectiveness of the new law will depend, he said,
“on how it is interpreted.” “We’re very proud the governor expanded the
rights of women who are pregnant and in correction facilities. However, we had a
law on the books for 12 years that was very specific,” Morrissey said. That
previous law, he said, “wasn’t enforced and it wasn’t followed.”
Frank Bilecki, a spokesman for Sheriff Tom Dart, said:
“Sheriff Dart continues to have one of the most progressive policies when it
comes to women detainees, and this includes those that are pregnant. The
legislation that was signed today is a result of the sheriff’s actions and
codified what is already the policy of the sheriff’s office.”
The new law will require the sheriff’s office to track
every instance where restraints of pregnant prisoners are used because of
security reasons, and to supply those numbers to the General Assembly and the
governor’s office. That provision is critical, said Gail Smith, senior policy
director of Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers, who helped craft
“We will know how often they invoke the exception,” she
said. “I can guarantee you that we’ll be closely monitoring the annual
report and assessing whether women’s safety is being protected.”
Excerpted from report by Colleen Mastony, Chicago Tribune,
Photos: Rebecca Project for Human Rights, National
Women’s Law Center