In This Issue

Obama Moons Occupy
Occupy Education
Occupy 4 Prisoners
Yvette Hochberg
Susan Poff
Legal Rights and Issues for LGBT Elders in California
Preoccupied with Oakland
WOW occupies, closes down B of A in SF
San Francisco Financial District Occupied!
What Would Superman Do?
California Prisons: Crowding Women
A brief and very incomplete history of suppression of dissent in the Bay Area
The MOCHA Column
Super natural advertising


Occupy Oakland Calls for National Occupy

Leonard Peltier Walk For Human Rights–From The Rock To D.C.

Mumia Abu-Jamal Transferred to General Population

Partial Victory for Cook County Pregnant Inmates

 Obama Moons Occupy

The Obama administration has formulated its strategy for dealing with the nation’s Occupy movement. In the spirit of conciliation and bipartisanship, with a nod to republican candidate Newt Gingrich, plans are being drawn up to settle left leaning elements of the Occupy movement on the moon.

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.”  


Occupy Education

March 1 Everywhere
March 5 Sacramento

Join the 99 Mile March for Education and Social Justice, March 1-5

The northern California Occupy Education coalition is planning a multi-day march in defense of education. The march will start off at UC Berkeley as part of the March 1st national day of action and will culminate in Sacramento on March 5th, when thousands of students, workers, and teachers from around the state will converge on the capitol and demand universal, free public education in California. On the 5th, people who choose to do so will begin occupying the capitol building.

Find out what’s happening in your community or join the March to Sacramento;

Occupy 4 Prisoners


Monday February 20th, 12 Noon

San Quentin Prison


Facebook: occupy4prisoners


Haiti Action Committee presents:


March 3, 2012



3105 Shattuck Avenue

Berkeley, CA
For info

Yvette Hochberg

Yvette 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.

Susan Poff

by Kate

I met Susan Poff in the summer of 1983 when she and I, along with about 500 other women, were imprisoned for two weeks in a makeshift tent city at Santa Rita Jail after protesting development of nuclear weapons at U.C.’s Livermore Labs.  Susan and her friend Diana, both students at UC Berkeley, were in an affinity group called Soviet Agents, and my affinity group, Eye of the Storm, was part of the same cluster.  Diana and Susan were charming and fun-loving and great at thinking of amusing ways for us to pass the time.

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 San Francisco.

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. (Steve reminds me that he drove her car in  the Golden Gate Bridge blockade.)

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 justice system.

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

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 all.

Fuck Equality: Erotic Short Stories for Rowdy Queers

Against Equality ( 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; 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.


Legal Rights and Issues for LGBT Elders in California

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.

Preoccupied with Oakland

by Tory

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 Occupy Oakland.

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, and liberation..

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 that action.

Tory Discovers Social Media

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 their walkers.

So revolution better happen soon.  I really need my social security!


WOW occupies, closes down B of A in SF

by Pacifica


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.   

San Francisco Financial District Occupied!

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 corporations.

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.

What Would Superman Do?

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.

Komen Back

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 Prisons: Crowding Women

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 inmates.

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:

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.  

A brief and very incomplete history of suppression of dissent in the Bay Area

by Kate

July 1960:  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.”

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.

People’s Park, 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[16] 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 Shocked.

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 County Jail.

September 1988:  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.

June 1990:  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).

May 1992:  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.

August 2011:  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 stations.

The MOCHA Column

By Chaya and Deni


Tomboy:  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 Women.”

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 As for the movie, see it. 

Tinker Tailor 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 the tedium.

Pariah:  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.


“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 will know.

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.

Cultural Awareness 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 anti-worker measure.

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 [Bank].

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???)

Hilary Clinton 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 dots!)

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 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 Sun City
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 item.)

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


Super natural advertising

By Lisa

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, it does.

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 in truth. 

And back to my analogy with the LGBTQQI community; acceptance is still the exception not the rule in the dis-united states and worldwide.

And speaking of ads, check out the climate change ad from 2008 with Newt and Nancy. 

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

Occupy Oakland Calls for National Occupy

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 Bradley Manning!

Bay Area

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: n  

Leonard Peltier Walk For Human Rights–From The Rock To D.C.

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 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 You can also call the White House comment line at 202-456-1212 and express freedom now for Leonard!

Mumia Abu-Jamal Transferred to General Population

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,,

Write to Mumia:

Mumia Abu-Jamal, #AM833, SCI Mahanoy, 301 Morea Road, Frackville, PA 1793

Partial Victory for Cook County Pregnant Inmates


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 the legislation.

“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, 1/15/12,

Photos: Rebecca Project for Human Rights, National Women’s Law Center