Category Archives: Winter 1998 (11/19/98)

Lorax

Berkeley residents are organizing to oppose business interests who want to transform Berkeley’s public spaces into an antiseptic shopping mall by eliminating all of the mature trees from downtown Berkeley. The plan to cut the trees, developed by Berkeley city officials at the behest of merchants and the Downtown Berkeley Association, would “clear-cut” over 200 mature, healthy trees along Shattuck Ave. from University to Durant and along University from Oxford to Milvia.

The trees to be cut, which are a variety of species at “irregular” locations, are to be replaced with more “uniform” species in more “uniform” locations. The plan is designed to increase the visibility of commercial signs on buildings, eliminate tree-shaded places for “undesirable” people (youth, poor, homeless) to stand, and reorient the downtown towards a more commercial, uniform look. Smaller trees at regular intervals recall the more business friendly look of the thousands of shopping malls and suburban shopping districts which now dot the country.

The residents opposing the urban clearcut, organized under the name Berkeley Lorax, are supporting an alternative plan that would save the healthy mature trees plus add new trees to empty sidewalk tree wells and in the median strip between parking bays and the street. Berkeley Lorax wants any redesign to treat mature trees as individuals rather than furniture which can just be thrown out to “redecorate” the downtown. While BL is willing to see some sick or dying trees cut, and while they support pruning trees that need to be pruned, they reject the cutting of all mature trees to promote visibility of business signs or just to have “regularly” spaced and “uniform” appearing trees.

At a recent action, BL members symbolically chained themselves to the threatened trees. More actions to defend the trees could follow if the city does not adopt an alternative plan which would preserve the bulk of the healthy, mature trees in downtown Berkeley.

Concerned people are encouraged to contact the City Council and the Planning Commission to request the alternative plan. For more information or to get involved, call the Berkeley Lorax, 510-849-1902 or write to 3124 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705.

Earth First! Activist Killed In Headwaters Forest

I flash back to 1990. Isn’t this what we were fearful of when we exclaimed, “Jesus, they almost killed Judi Bari! That shows they’ll use lethal force”–they were whipping up a frenzy of animosity against Earth First!ers among the loggers with dishonest rhetoric about jobs, –”Someone could get killed!”, we said. Yeah. And someone did.

Just after noon on Thursday, September 17, Headwaters Forest defender David Nathan Chain, known to his friends as Gypsy, lost his life when a tree cut by a Pacific Lumber logger crushed him to death.

Gypsy and eight other Earth First!ers had ventured into an active timber harvest plan in the Grizzly Creek area of Headwaters Forest complex to protest reported violations of Forest Practice Rules, bring the violations to the attention of the logging crew, and to get the state forestry agency to come out and inspect the site. On the 17th and the previous day, a small group of people had been engaging the loggers on site in dialogue in an attempt to slow the logging down. PL had not amended their logging plan to reflect the road building they were conducting next to marbled murrelet habitat. The day following Gypsy’s death, the California Dept. of Forestry did inspect the site and subsequently issued a finding that a violation had occurred.

After the tree that crushed Gypsy was felled, the small group of people in his affinity group scrambled out of the brush where they had taken cover, yelling at the logger that he could have killed them when one of the group started frantically calling out for Gypsy, saying “Where’s Gypsy, he was right behind me, I can’t find him, Gypsy!” When the logger who felled the tree found Gypsy, he fell to his knees and prayed. Gypsy’s friends prayed and cried near where he lay while one of them ran to the state park phone about a mile and a half away.

The timber company immediately dove for cover, issuing a statement calling the death a “tragic accident”, claiming the loggers were not aware of protesters’ presence and citing what they called their “best in the industry” safety record. They also claimed Gypsy was hit by a “domino tree”, a second tree downed by the tree cut by the logger. These claims had nothing to do with the truth, but were issued before any details emerged.

The fact that the loggers were indeed aware of protesters’ presence was corroborated by a video tape recorded less than an hour before Gypsy was killed, containing threats and admonitions by the logger to ” Get the fuck out of here or there’s going to be a tree coming your way!”

Pacific Lumbers’ disingenuous claim that the loggers didn’t know they were endangering anyone was followed by comments to the media suggesting that it’s time to stop these protests, that organizers are putting young recruits in harm’s way, etc. These media feeds culminated in what looks to be the first volley in a “blame the victims” smear campaign: a press packet containing 2 pages of Earth First!’s Direct Action Manual describing “cat and mouse” woods actions. PL president John Campbell’s comment in the accompanying press release was “If you read the rules, … it’s just a game. Only the people who work in the forest and their families are supposed to be hurt”, seemingly suffering a memory lapse in terms of just who had lost their life.

A vigil and blockade quickly evolved at the site, people locking down to a junked car blocking the access road the next morning. People locked to equipment at the ridgetop where Gypsy was killed, and an alter was set up in the middle of the road near the entrance. Had this blockade not been in place, PL crews arriving for work the morning of Sept. 18 would have hauled out the trees, rendering an investigation of the site impossible. It is not clear what PL’s policy is for workers encountering protesters in the woods but this is certainly not the first time loggers have acted menacingly towards protesters.

The blockade/vigil continued until early in the morning of Oct. 7 when 42 members of several law enforcement agencies descended on the Grizzly Creek site to break up the blockade. They forcibly removed those at the site, breaking up the barricade and moved up the hill to where several activists were attached to a loader. They proceeded to douse two young women who were locked to equipment with pepper spray, pouring the caustic substance directly into their eyes from their hands. These two women, once taken to jail, were denied medical attention for more than 24 hours. The following morning, a group of 30 people returned to the site and set up a road blockade consisting of 9 people linked together across the road. To intimidate those taking part in the blockade into unlocking, sheriff’s deputies singled out one woman and subjected her to three applications of pepper spray, using her pain as a warning to the others. Finally, at the end of October, PL hauled their yarder (the equipment used to remove downed trees) out of the area, indicating that they won’t be clearing the site soon.

While Gypsy’s death is not as overtly political an act as the bombing of Judi Bari was, as the attacks on the Black Panthers were, it was surrounded by, immersed in, fed by and caused by a political attack that has been going on for a number of years, peaking in 1988-1990 and in recent years escalating again.

What happened in 1990 when the bomb was planted in Judi Bari’s car, (a bomb that was meant to kill) was carried out as part of an on-going agenda that was calculated and deliberate. What happened to Gypsy happened rather spontaneously in that the logger didn’t wake up that morning and say, “Hey, I’m gonna go kill me a protester…” but the two incidents warrant comparison in that both were promulgated by the climate of violence, by the tolerance of violence against Earth First! that has been bred and fed by Pacific Lumber & the other corporations, and the law enforcement agencies. (That’s here in California…in Idaho it’s Shearer Lumber and Forest Service personnel in Florida it’s Procter and Gamble, in Maine it’s International Paper; in Nigeria it’s Shell and Chevron.)

Whether or not the logger had fully come to terms with the fact that he could be responsible for taking someone’s life, it is clear he had directly threatened to fall trees in the direction of protesters, and then followed through on that threat. On the video tape are his shouts, “Better wear a hard hat, because this one’s coming for you” Earlier he had screamed “Oh fuck! I wish I had my fucking pistol! I’m going to have to start packing my pistol” .

The Humboldt Sheriff’s Dept. also has a long record of non-enforcement and non-investigation of incidents of violence, harassment and threats of violence when the targets are people associated with Earth First! or Headwaters defense. The backdrop for Gypsy’s death is the tolerance and encouragement of animosity and violence towards Earth First!

Clearly, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Dept., the law enforcement agency currently under litigation for a previous incident of swabbing pepper spray into the eyes of Earth First! activists is not the fair and impartial agency to conduct an investigation.

Scores of organizations and individuals have rallied around a call for an independent investigation in the wake of this killing, including Action for Community and Ecology in the Rainforests of Central America, the Action Resource Center, the Sierra Club, many members of the clergy, and 100 signers on to a letter circulated by EPIC calling for an independent investigation of the incident and of Pacific Lumber’s and Humboldt county law enforcement’s policy of encouraging violence against environmentalists. Humboldt attorney Steve Schectman is preparing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family.

The list of incidents that have been unprosecuted and uninvestigated in course of forest campaigns here is long–they’ve brought snipers out, threatened to shoot people, driven a logging truck into a crowd, broken a nose with a full punch to the face, assaulted people, hog-tied c.d.ers, etc.

But it’s worth recognizing that with the exception of the bombing of Judi Bari and the killing of Gypsy, (BIG exceptions, granted) the level of violence against eco-preservationists has been much worse in places other than Northern California, like Idaho…and Nigeria!

When we decry this tragedy and say it must not happen again we have to grapple with why it happens. It’s not because loggers have the bad seed gene, or because there’s a ‘natural’ animosity between loggers and enviros. It is because the greed-driven profit motive seeks a reduction of the numbers of people defending the earth and holding the earth sacred.

Logging is not a safe job. Mill work is not a safe job. That’s why they have safety standards. Protesting is not necessarily a safe job. That’s one of the reasons we have non-violence preps. We’re defenders in a WAR that is being waged against the earth and casualties can be of several species. I’m not suggesting it’s inevitable–I’m contending that’s why it happened. They’re at war.

Let’s neither make a martyr of Gypsy nor a villain of Arlington Ammons, the logger. Gypsy deserves to be a hero, who died fighting for what he believed in. And while blame needs to be laid at the feet of the logger, the bulk of blame needs to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the corporation: Maxxam/PL.

FRB Frustrates the FCC

Despite the FCC’s stepped up enforcement actions against micro-broadcasters nation-wide and despite the FCC’s injunction that shut down Free Radio Berkeley, East Bay covert broadcasts have continued regular broadcasts for more than two months every Sunday night on 104.1 FM. Each broadcast has happened from a different location for security reasons.

Free Radio activists have also kept the struggle for democratic communications alive with two recent well publicized acts of civil disobedience after the FCC tried and failed to capture two activists in the Berkeley hills last August (see “Microradio Activists Dodge FCC Raid” by Cecelia B. Sapremia, Slingshot Autumn 1998).

The first action since the would-be captors missed their mark took place with at least a hundred close supporters surrounding the impromptu station broadcasting from a secret location. The public at large was notified of the broadcast by large posters resembling announcements for a prize fight. “Free Radio vs. the FCC–will the hometown microradio activists defeat the government in the fight for the airwaves?” A press conference was held at the nearby train station, with camera crews notified only minutes before the broadcast of the location of the action. Masked activists escorted the news crews to the broadcast location. The FCC knew exactly where the broadcast was coming from, having thousands of dollars of fancy equipment at their disposal. But, as the poster for the next action proclaimed, they were nothing but chicken.

Since the FCC did not grace the broadcasters with the honor of their presence, the activists decided to risk a little more. In September the Berkeley City Council was to hear an appeal filed by the California Broadcasters’ Association of the Berkeley Zoning Boards’ decision to grant Free Radio Berkeley a use permit for their radio antenna (now a point only in principle since FRB got shut down and moved out of that location altogether). A second action was planned for this debacle. The activists broadcasted on the steps of Berkeley City Hall to a crowd of 80 that night, as well as at least 10 different print and television outlets. Broadcasters dressed up as Uncle Sam, the Statue of Liberty, and an FCC agent wearing a chicken mask. Community leaders, former FRB listeners, and other malcontents spoke on the air and to the crowd, including some former FRB programmers who deliberately violated the court injunction (see “No Freedom Without Communication,” by P.B. Floyd, Autumn 1998). As with the first rally, the FCC was nowhere to be seen.

It is interesting, but not so surprising, that the FCC is quite willing to storm into the hills with University of California police to capture two broadcasters, but will not face crowds of microradio supporters willing to risk arrest and commit civil disobedience. It seems that the FCC was not willing to uphold their pro-corporate, media monopoly “laws” in the face of curious newspaper reporters, television cameras, and scores of free radio supporters. It could be that the FCC realizes how wrong they are to keep communities from having a voice on the public airwaves, and a public enforcement in Berkeley would only rally more people to the side of freedom. Because the FCC seems unwilling to bust public actions, radio activists still have opportunities to seize the airwaves.

The broadcasters had prepared a “Notice of Actual Liability” document to serve the FCC in case they decided to show up. It was modeled after the “Notice of Apparent Liability” the FCC left under a rock at the site of the hill broadcast August 2nd. The broadcaster’s document charged the FCC with, among other things, having a vested interest in the broadcasting business (according to the Communications Act of 1934, the FCC cannot have any members who are also serving broadcasting interests–FCC Chairman William Kennard is a former National Association of Broadcasters lawyer).

Even more spectacular radio civil disobedience actions may be in progress by the time you read this article. Stay Tuned! For info or to get involved, call 510 587-3388.

Free Radio Santa Cruz lives

While Free Radio Berkeley and San Francisco Liberation Radio may have been forced off the air by last summer’s FCC (Federal Communications Commission) injunction, other micro-powered stations around the country, including Freak Radio Santa Cruz, have pumped up the programming!

FRSC has been liberating 96.3 FM 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in total defiance of FCC bullshit for almost 4 years, providing the only real alternative news and views available in its broadcast area. The station features local news and street level interviews on programs such as Bathrobes Broadsides, V Man & Rockin the Boat, Resist Locally, queercore with Sista Snatch and even Sunday morning services with “the Hour of Slack” Church of the Subgenius. (“Praise Bob!”)

National syndicated programs such as CounterSpin, Making Contact, Alternative Radio, Bruderhoff Radio are also aired daily. The last time the FCC (Siskel & Ebert team of Van Stavern and Zears) came by was back in May while they were investigating a complaint by KZSC 88.1, which is the college radio station in the area. A prankster jammer claiming to be FRSC broke onto a simulcast frequency during a concert. After angry 88.1 listeners called making threats to FRSC, KZSC realized that the micro-powered, 40 watt station could not have been the culprit. Nonetheless, the FCC stuck their nose into the situation.

When the FCC arrived, a courageous 12 year old girl asserted her rights and refused entry to the FCC. The FCC was in the middle of trying to convince her that “we don’t need a warrant” when her mom came home and told the FCC to wait on the sidewalk while she called a lawyer. Instead, she proceeded to grab a video camera and record the entire event as she and a friend again refused entry to the FCC, who eventually left. All during this, DJ Venus was funking it up on the airwaves, sending shout outs to the FCC agents, etc. The same day the FCC successfully shut down Phantom 104.1 FM in San Jose after they failed to defy the FCC.

FRSC has more to worry about than the FCC: the real work is running a radio station 24/7. Between paying rent, worrying about equipment breakdown, dues, fundraising, making looptapes, talking to Indie record companies and even fighting the local police in court for the right to table downtown, FRSC activists are busy. The biggest problem is organizing 30 to 50 expressive programmers into a consensus, tacking issues like hate speech, free speech and different views on sexism, racism, etc. in a diverse group. FRSC is a lesson in anarchy learning personal responsibility as an independent cooperative, keeping each other in check and deal with hard issues no other radio station really deals with.

The station has built and is building community support in Santa Cruz, and has been recognized as a media institution. One programmer’s political program: “We need more micro stations on the air now! Free Radio Berkeley and San Francisco Liberation Radio need to get back on the air! When they bust us, weÕll just go back on the air. Fuck ‘em!”

The station needs money and tapes to play on the air. To contact FRSC, write PO Box 7507, Santa Cruz, CA 95061. Email: frsc@cruziio.com. Or call voicemail: 408-427-4523 or the studio line 408-423-5361.

The Profane Existence is Over

Rest in punk

Profane Existence, the Minneapolis collective that produced the excellent magazine of the same name and ran a mailorder distro and record label, announced October 11 that they had decided to cease operations. Pledging that the members would stay active politically and culturally, a statement to supporters cited declining collective membership, financial considerations and the “overwhelming work load and stress” associated with keeping the collective going as reasons for ending the collective. “By ending the collective now, we are hoping to do so on a high point, not wait until it totally collapses in on itself in a huge mess” , read the statement.

Coming on the heels of the end of Love and Rage, the demise of Profane Existence seemed to have more to do with the over-extension endemic to DIY (Do It Yourself) and alternative institutions than the factional fights that killed L&R. A part of the statement titled “we have no lives” rings true for many struggling radical projects: “Balancing commitments to PE has also meant making huge sacrifices in our personal lives. We have missed countless beautiful days outdoors because of our commitments to PE kept us working inside. We have missed an equal amount of good nights’ sleep due to overwhelming stress we bring home with us at night. We have missed weeks and months of our lives that could have been spent with friends and loved ones. While we harbor some (perhaps foolish) ideas of putting the revolution first, in reality it is our families, friends and loved ones whom we would rather give the bulk of our attention to. While we still want to be active, the level of commitment needed to maintain the PE collective pretty much has excluded having any time or energy for anything else at all.”

The only way alternative institutions can hope to survive in the long term is if new people continually join up to relieve the pressure on older members, and if people’s needs to live and grow are respected, and if tasks distributed are realistically. But sometimes, its just time for an established institution to die so new projects can fill the void.

The last issue of PE magazine is expected out in November and other operations are expected to wrap up by the end of the year.

Bulletin Board

ACTIVE RESISTANCE

If you liked Active Resistance 1998 (North American anarchist action and theory gathering) you’ll love Active Resistance 1999. All those interested in helping to organize the upcoming gathering, contract ar99@tao.ca. Location and dates for the gathering to be soon.


NEW INFOSHOP OPENS IN AUSTIN

That’s right a new lnfoshop is opening in Austin near downtown, located at 1306 E. 6th St., Austin, TX 78701. Email: 1306antithesisChotmail.com. Drop by if you’re wondering how to plug into the activist community: Free skool, Copwatch, Food Not Bombs, Anfi-Racist Action, etc. The Infoshop is looking for book donations, bands to play, volunteers, etc.


RECLAIM THE STREETS

Following on the heels of the wildly successful Global Street Party last May, London Reclaim the Streets has announced plans for another global Street Party action on June 18, 1999. The 1999 action is set for Friday so that street parties around the world can rupture the everyday and disrupt business as usual on a workday. Street Parties are planned for every major financial center around the world (plus the downtown bank district of many small towns and cities near year). Those who destroy the earth a press her people have names, adresses a titles: bank, stock traders, insurance conglomerates and the like. Come dance, play, redecorate and imagine a world where people are free and live in harmony with nature. Last year 30 cities participated: this year the sky is the limit! Contact RTS by searching Reclaim the Streets on the web. Or try the folks at the Critical Mass, Earth First! chapter, or, anti- neoliberalism organization near you. And remember to tell your boss you need the day off on June 18.


1 9 9 9
O R G A N I Z E R

Now Available

a pocket sized day planner featuring radical historical dates for every day of the year

plus expanded phone pages, radical group list, menstrual calendar, etc.

160 pages o Annual Benefit for Slingshot newspaper

Mail order copies from Slingshot $5 each (postpaid) Bulk rate: $3 each for 5 or more copies 3124 Shattuck Ave. o Berkeley o CA o 94705


Or at these stores:

San Francisco:

Bound Together Books
Epicenter Zone
Leather Tongue
Naked Eye
Modern Times
Rainbow Grocery
Bearded Lady


East Bay

Long Haul Infoshop
Lookout Records
Ecology Center
Comic Relief
Mama Bears Books
Dark Carnival Books


Nationally

Arise Bookstore – Minneapolis
Blackout Books – Lower East Side
Crescent Wrench Infoshop – New Orleans
Community Chest Records –
Firecracker Books – Worcester
Food for Thought Books – MA
General Strike – Georgia
Hungry Head Books – Eugene, OR
Internationalist Books – Chapel Hill
Laughing Horse Books – Portland, OR
Left Bank books – Seattle
Left Hand Collective – Boulder, CO
Lucy Parsons Center – Boston
Rainbow Books – Madison, WI
Reading Frenzy – Portland, OR
Red & Black Books – Seattle
Wooden Shoe Books – Philadelphia

U.S. Bombing of Sudan

On August 20, 1998 the United States (US) government bombed Sudan and Afghanistan in “retaliation” for the US Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya earlier this year. The U.S. government through the Headfixing Industry (corporate owned TV, radio, and their various news agencies) said that its use of cruise missiles to bomb Sudan was justified because the government of that country was using that facility to create nerve gas (VX). They also claimed that the location in Afghanistan that was bombed was a “terrorist training camp.”

Osama Bin Laden’s “Network”–

Made In The U.S.A.

While we don’t know who is responsible for the US Embassy bombings, we do know that the US government is responsible for helping to create the mujahedin (holy warriors) of Afghanistan. A few years ago this motley crew was hailed by the rulers of the US as so- called “freedom fighters” today they are hypocritically denounced as “terrorist” by the most powerful terrorists in the world, the US government and its military and intelligence agencies. Osama bin Laden’s “network”, for instance, was financed, trained, and armed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during Cold War II against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980′s. The “terrorist training camps” in Afghanistan were constructed by the US government. No wonder they knew exactly were to aim the missiles!

In one of the many demonstrations at which the spirit of protest and indignation erupted in Sudan, Pakistan, and the Near East a representative of Hamas (a Palestine based group) said: “America will reap the harvest of its aggression.” Crime Bill Clinton’s Cronies had the nerve to warn against an increase in indiscriminate terrorism against Americans. No shit Sherlock! The fact is, that by perpetrating a form of state terror qualitatively more murderous than any of its third world targets can generate, the US imperialists are inciting attacks against American

citizens abroad. The world is a lot less safe because of the US bombings. Vacation anyone?


U.S. Government Caught Lying…Again

On August 21, 1998 Crime Bill Clinton’s cronies claimed through every sector of the Headfixing Industry that they had “irrefutable evidence” that a “secret chemical weapons plant” that produced nerve gas had been bombed in Sudan. The government of Sudan claims that the facility made medicines and veterinary products.

Who should we believe? Let’s examine the facts. The US government claimed: * That the plant was a part of a highly secretive, tightly secured military-industrial complex in Sudan, and that the plant produced no commercial products.

One has to overcome a feeling of disgust to counter such base lies. FACT – The Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant located in Khartoum, Sudan was the pride of that country. Regular tours of international dignitaries where conducted showcasing this symbol of national progress. The plant produced such badly needed medicines as antibiotics, antimalarial and antidiarrheal drugs, intravenous fluids, and some anti-worm veterinary materials. The plant had a contract with the UN to supply these medicines to other countries.

At a recent forum Dick Becker, a representative of the International Action Center who visited Sudan right after the bombing, said that the plant was such a “secret” that there were signs in the streets directing people to its location!

The Sudanese government came to the UN to request an independent investigation of the bombed site of the plant in Khartoum, to prove that the factory’s only function was making medicine and veterinary supplies. The US blocked the request, and the Security Council shelved the discussion.

Ex-President Jimmy Carter, hardly an opponent of imperialist aggression, has called for a UN inquiry into the US raid on Sudan. He said,”If the Sudanese are guilty, they should be condemned both for lying and for contributing to terrorist activities,..Otherwise, we should admit our error and make amends to those who suffered loss or injury.”(NYT, 9/18/98) * That Osama bin Laden had heavily invested in the plant, making him a part owner.

FACT – Salih Idris is the sole owner of the plant. US intelligence officials then tried to say he is a front man for bin Laden. “But his lawyer says Idris, an adviser to Saudi Arabia’s largest bank, has never met bin Laden.”(NYT, 9/21/98). Even the Wall Street Journal on August 24, 1998 ran a story headlined “Sudan Plant’s Apparent Owner Has No Extremist Ties”.

* That they bombed a facility that produced a key ingredient for a deadly nerve gas, called VX. The U.S. government insisted that the chemical, ethyl methylphosphonothionate or EMPTA , found in a soil sampling outside the plant could only mean that the plant was making the nerve gas agent VX. And that there were no known commercial uses for EMPTA.

FACT – Real-world chemical experts provided a counterpoised explanation.”Several chemical-weapons experts outside the government say the single soil sample, if it was not carefully preserved and quickly tested, could have misidentified the key ingredient. They said EMPTA is chemically similar to several commercially available pesticides and herbicides, including the well-known commercially available weedkiller called Round-Up.”(NYT, 8/29/98) Raid is a popular pesticide, Round-Up a common herbicide. Raid! Round-Up! Looks like we better get rid of the Roach sprays and weedkillers before the local Swat Teams pay us a visit. As the days went on, every claim made by Crime Bill Clinton’s crew collapsed under the scrutiny of the physical evidence. It seems that if they were talking, they were lying.

“Senior administration officials concede that they made inaccurate statements about the plant on Aug. 20 and did a poor job of publicly stating their case against the factory.

“`We were not accurate’, a senior administration official said. `That was a mistake’”(NYT, 9/21/98) Mistake indeed. This bombing was a calculated display of terror in the service of imperialist domination. Nor was it the first time that lies and deception were used to cover-up their barbarity. From the Phoenix mass assassination program during the Vietnam War to the murderous campaigns carried out by the CIA’s Nicaraguan Contra’s and Cuban gusanos the US ruling class has always tried to use professional liars and charlatans to cover their tracks and conceal their crimes against humanity.

Remember the bombing of what was called by the US military a “biological weapons facility” in Baghdad–which turned out to be a baby formula factory–during the US-led onslaught against Iraq in 1991? Military force cannot transform lies into truth anymore than it can transform manure into gold.

But the US capitalists cannot rule by force alone. It is imperative that false consciousness be constantly nurtured and reinforced. This is the primary function of the Headfixing Industry.

U.S. Imperialism –The World’s Biggest Terrorist

We must reject Crime Bill Clinton’s “War Against International Terrorism” because, not least of all, this “war” is in part a diversion to undercut the development of the class struggle. In fact, the main “front” of this “war” is right here in the US. In takes the form of attacks on civil liberties (been to an airport lately?) and the rights of immigrants. The US rulers’ “anti- terrorist” hysteria is a particular threat Arab-Americans and Muslims in general, who have been the victims of arson attacks, death threats and FBI harassment especially since the war with Iraq.

What ever happens next in Afghanistan or anywhere else this “war” at home will last for years to come. It is a “war” we can’t afford to lose.

Bikes On the Move!

As the Bay becomes more like LA and our regional transportation decision-making body, the “MTC” (More Trucks and Cars Commission/Metropolitan Transportation Commission) continues to be developer-controlled, creating sprawling suburbs and locking in automobile dependency, a strong and creative bike and pedestrian movement is blossoming and continues to become more effective. Bay Area bicycle and pedestrian direct actions have been on a steady increase. Real change is mighty slow in coming, but we are having some successes. Action and organization has happened all around the Bay and on all kinds of fronts.

BayPeds is a new group which champions the rights of pedestrians and the Bicycle Civil Liberties Union is another new group which seeks equitable treatment for non-motorized travelers. Noting that bikes and peds make up at least 11% of all trips in the Bay Area, yet suffer 25% of the traffic fatalities, these two groups came together to protest the adoption of the 20-year, 88-billion dollar Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) which committed only 1/200th of the funding to bikes and peds. The protest involved outfitting bicycles to be *as big as cars* (with PVC pipes suspended on rope in a rectangle around each bike) circling the building where the commissioners were making their horrible decisions.

The solidarity link between bicyclists and mass transit was emphasized by a direct action ride across the Bay Bridge on September 10th. A large group of bikes showed just how easy it would be to permit bikes to ride across the bridge by Just Doing It, pedaling all the way from Oakland to the transbay terminal in San Francisco during rush hour traffic. Five of the cyclists supported a 62-foot sculpture of a train on a suspension bridge to protest the lack of rail capacity in the new Bay Bridge design. The bikes often went faster than the stalled traffic, although police attempted to sabotage the message by deciding to arrest the cyclists on the off ramp from the bridge, rather than on city streets which would have minimized inconvenience to commuters.

Expect more protests and lawsuits if there is no change in the Bay Bridge design, particularly as to the bike/ped path which the authorities finally voted to build as part of the Bay Bridge retrofit (which was a major victory in itself). Caltrans wants to place the bicycle path directly adjacent to harsh freeway traffic, exposing cyclists to unnecessary fumes and danger, rather than sunken below or above the traffic lanes. (This will also permit Caltrans to easily convert the bike path to another traffic lane causing even more car traffic later.)

Meanwhile, in the world of policy change, the Berkeley Bike Plan is finally, after SEVEN YEARS, coming up for adoption. It’s critical that we show public support to help push this through. A web site has been constructed to allow sending a letter with a click of a button: http://users.lmi.net/~jmeggs/bikeplanyes.htmYou can send a letter to Mayor Dean and City Council, 2180 Milvia St., Berkeley, CA 94704, FAX: (510) 644-8801 and send a copy to the Transportation Commission, 2118 Milvia St, Suite 300, Berkeley, CA 94704, FAX: (510) 883-6565. The Berkeley Transportation Commission is to consider the Plan as Slingshot goes to press and the plan may go to the City Council as early as December 15. For more information, contact the Bicycle-Friendly Berkeley Coalition: 510 549-RIDE, bfbc@ lmi.net.

Critical Mass bike rides continue to occur throughout the Bay Area, giving cyclists one day a month to ride safe and proud, and demonstrating what the streets would look like if everyone rode their bikes. Recent police abuses have hurt the ride in Santa Cruz, although Berkeley (2nd Friday of the Month, 5:30 Berkeley BART) is still hanging in strong and San Francisco (last working Friday, 5:30 Justin Herman Plaza) is making a heady recovery after police crackdowns last year. Other rides (Silicon Valley, Santa Rosa, Marin) have been trooping right along although Walnut Creek has recently fallen defunct.

A new group, “GRIP” — “Great Routes Inspire Pedalers” — is a direct action/protest group in San Francisco which has held numerous protests in recent months, storming City Hall with bicycles (inside the lobby!) while a giant “Willie-Head”, an effigy of the mayor, remained calm and smiling even as the real mayor ran terrified for his limousine.

While Free Radio Berkeley has sadly been off the air, the alternative media is still strong on the internet and through video productions such as July 25th: The Secret is Out! about the orchestrated and corrupt police crackdown on the SF Critical Mass (conveniently masking major transportation scandals at the time). To get involved in some of the essential activism around these issues, contact BayPeds at 510 540-6509; Bike the Bridge! Coalition at 510 273-9288; Bicycle Civil Liberties Union at http://xinet.com/bike/bclu/; and the Transportation and Land Use Coalition at 510 843-3878

Living Wage Movement

A movement to significantly raise the minimum wage to a “living wage” is catching on across the country, raising the standard of living for hundreds of thousands of workers. At least 18 cities, including Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Boston, have already enacted living wage legislation, and campaigns in over a dozen more are being waged by coalitions of organized labor and community groups.

Living wage laws usually state that the wage earned must be enough to sustain a family of 3-4 above the federal poverty line ($16,400 for a family of four.) Currently, workers who earn the current federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour make an average of only $10,700 a year. Most ordinances apply to all employers who contract with or receive substantial tax incentives or subsidies from the city government. The rates vary from city to city.

San Jose’s tentatively passed living wage ordinance is the nation’s highest minimum passed so far at $12.50 an hour with benefits, and $15 without. Oakland by contrast passed a similar ordinance in April that guarantees city contract workers $8 an hour with benefits and $9.25 without. L.A. and Pasadena are requiring $7.25 w/benefits, $8.50 w/out. Other cities weigh in at: Boston $8.2; Portland $7; Baltimore $7.10; Milwaukee $6.05; Jersey City, NJ $7.50; Des Moines $9; and Santa Clara County, CA at $10 w/health benefits. Some ordinances concern only wages, others just benefits, while still others set minimum standards for both. Most include a package of both.

In San Francisco, a living wage resolution is pending before the Board of Supervisors, having been sent to the Finance Committee for approval by a newly created living wage task force. The Association of Bay Area Governments has said that a Bay Area single parent with one child must earn $14.50 an hour to stay above the poverty line. Living wage advocates in San Francisco say a law there would need to set wages near $10 an hour, almost twice the current minimum wage. If the task forces derails the movement, advocates say they will put an initiative on the ballot. The Board is expected to vote on a study proposal at its November 23 meeting.

The ordinances normally apply only to businesses which contract for or receive in assistance a minimum $25-100,000 from the city and have more than say 25 employees. Oakland’s ordinance, while not the highest in pay, is one of the most comprehensive in other ways. Employees of qualifying firms, agencies and non-profit organizations are ensured of at least 12 days of compensated days off per year for sick, personal, or vacation leave and 10 days of uncompensated time off per year for other reasons. And in Boston, covered employers must use community-based hiring halls and cannot displace employees covered by collective bargaining agreement.

While efforts to create a living wage have received substantial support from unions around the country, needless to say business interests haven’t been so supportive. Steve Tedesco, president of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, said that San Jose’s living wage ordinance would cause a domino effect in the city, with unions demanding more money from companies that otherwise would not be affected by it.

“There is going to be a ripple effect on labor contracts,” he said. None of the living wage ordinances applies explicitly to workfare workers. This has presented problems in Baltimore, where the city is undermining the intent of the ordinance by hiring workfare workers instead of contract employees. It is also important for ordinances to consider annual rises in the cost of living without the necessity of obtaining legislative revisions.

This September, the U.S. Senate rejected a $1 election-year increase in the federal hourly minimum wage pushed by Sen. Edward Kennedy. By a 55-44 vote, senators killed the proposal, which would have raised the minimum wage earned by some 12 million Americans to $6.15 on Jan. 1, 2000. The first 50-cent increase would have taken effect next New Years.

Weekly wages for average American workers are about 14% below 1973 levels, adjusting for inflation. In the last few decades the United States has been redistributing wealth away from workers. The average CEO made 326 times the pay of factory workers last year, up from 1980, when CEOs made 42 times as much. The net worth of the bottom 40 percent of households in 1995 was 80 percent less than in 1983.

Labor, in a market system, is just another commodity; the wage a woman or man commands has nothing to do with how much she or he needs to support a family or to feel part of the broader society. The living wage movement is simply a way to raise the minimum wage through local action.

“It smacks of socialism to me,” said City Councilman Robbie who recently opposed Greensboro, North Carolina’s living wage drive.

There are other strategies to consider. Berkeley’s recent measure to shorten the work week with no loss in pay would in effect raise the minimum wage, with the added bonus of spreading work around to more people, thereby reducing competition for jobs and unemployment. Another strategy would be state-wide and national calls for a guaranteed job at a living wage for all people who want one. Or how about sweeping aside the wage system all together in favor of an economy based on voluntary association.

To get involved in the living wage movement locally, contact: Temp Workers Union, 1095 Market Street, Suite 616, San Francisco, CA 94103. For local contacts of ongoing campaigns elsewhere, contact ACORN at 202-547-2500.

Shut Corcoran Down!

A caravan of about 200 people from the Bay Area drove out to protest conditions at two of California’s state prisons in the central Valley on October 17. The caravan met up first in front of the women’s prison in Chowchilla where a roadside rally was held to draw attention to the substandard condition women face inside the facility. Much of the Caravan then continued on to the next demonstration a few hours later all the way down to the mid- state high security men’s facility in Corcoran. Corcoran has received extensive media attention in recent years for its notorious brutality. Guards have been exposed for engaging in numerous atrocities including, but not limited to, numerous murders of prisoners, setting up fights between prisoners as sport, and placing dissident prisoners in the same cell as a known prison rapist as punishment.

The Corcoran demo was also attended by about 200 activists who drove up from the Los Angeles region. People chanted “shut Corcoran down” and listened to speakers some of whom have relatives inside, including the father of Preston Tate who was murdered by Corcoran guards. The prison’s warden and other prison officials were present to observe the demonstration. Fresno Food Not Bombs served lunch.