Category Archives: Summer 2002 (5/30/02)

Anarchist Trainset Project

In a further attempt to answer the question “what will the anarchist society look like”, a group of anarchist model railroad enthusiasts in Berkeley propose to construct a HO scale trainset that would model a potential future society. The Rail Against the Machine Collective is seeking suggestions from the anarchist community at large as to the composition of the model world. They’re also looking for folks in the East Bay area with modeling skills who are interested in working on the trainset in a Berkeley basement space. The set would be run on solar electricity, provided the anarchist modelers decide a future society would even need trains.

“We haven’t decided yet to model a primitivist future or a syndicalist one,” said collective member Casey Jones. “If the trainset is primitivist, there wouldn’t be trains, or even houses. We would just model hills and creeks with lots of trees and wildlife and perhaps a few scantily clad humans. If the trainset is syndicalist, all the railroads would be run by the One Big Union. Would they run on time? Who knows? We do know that the train stations would have to be extra large to accommodate a lot of meetings.

Dinah Wonchablo, another trainset-ista, imagined a trainset with minimal passenger service run by model solar panels. There would be no roads or cars, but tiny bike paths would connect co-housing settlements built in circles around shared backyard spaces. Each settlement would have a tool lending library, cooperative childcare, un-schools, herbal health clinics and farming plots. “And since we want to model the future Northern California region, each settlement would have a shared hottub, clothing optional!” exclaimed Dinah.

Send in your ideas for the anarchist trainset design bys ending a drawing, urban design plan, or short essay. The best entry will win 4 2003 Slingshot Organizers. Please send your ideas to:

Wacky Slingshot Contest – Trainset

3124 Shattuck Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94705

Cracking the Concrete

The following is a statement from a Long Island, NY animal rights activist – Andy Stepanian – writing from the jail cell that he has be unjustly imprisoned in!

I spent most of the morning curled over, sick to my stomach from my meal, (or lack there of) of pickled cabbage I ate last night. Here in jail you loose many of the things you take for granted in the outside world. Here happiness is as rare a commodity as natural light. To see the sky out the jails West window you must kneel down and look u past 5 stories of concrete before you can get a glimpse of blue. In here you cannot see any vegetation, no trees, no flowers, no grass, just concrete, steel, and 50 or so heartbroken men that inhabit this unit.

I write this as a prisoner to my convictions, my personal ideological convictions, not my criminal convictions. My alleged charge of Obstruction of Governmental Administration is almost always a charge that does not carry any jail sentence, and is an amorphous charge given to political protestors when other charges cannot fit the prosecutable jigsaw puzzle. Upon my sentencing I was told by the judge that I participate in a level of activism not welcomed in our society, and due to this participation, particularly in the SHAC campaign, I was given the maximum sentence.

It is very hard to write this statement to my sisters and brothers in the struggle for liberation, and not feel heartbroken. In writing this I have to rehash many moments I have tried hard to repress, particularly being beaten and hospitalized at the hands of detectives Rotherwill and Barrone of the Garden City Police. My stomach sours I think that it is I and not them who sits in jail. At times I feel myself question my optimism, question if in fact I can take any more of this, I question if my spirit and mind has the strength to keep pushing the envelope onward, and each day my questions have answers. Those answers are always yes! Todays answer came as I looked out that same West window at the grey and black macadam and blacktop. The gray has been interrupted with a spot of green. With a closer look I can see that a dandelion has pushed its way upward through some 6 inches of pavement to greet the surface.

Dandelions and weeds have been labeled the vermin of plant species, much like mice and rodents have been labeled in the animal species, perceived as pests humans take measures to eradicate these species from their urban settings, weed killers, rat poisons, etc. Yet how come the humans never win? Where does their resilience come from? As I look at this dandelion I am amazed that it had found this flaw in the pavement, pushed with all its life upward, through the crack and towards the surface. I am amazed that it can live in what it must perceive to be an ocean of pavement, cold and devoid of life, nothing but black and gray. With the dandelions growth the crack will grow bigger and the seeds it will sow will yield a bloom of more.

See that dandelion prosper in such harsh elements, makes me realize that my current situation is jail pales in comparison. While I look at the dandelion a family in Hondouras endures far worse conditions making clothing garments in a starvation wage sweatshop. This family, is just one of thousands, guilty of no wrong doing, who are prisoners forever endebted to their employer. They do not run for fear their children will starve, they do not organize for fear of being lynched by union busters. These families are prisoners, slave laborers to capitalism.

While I stare at this dandelion the entire natural environment is being pillaged by capitalism. All life is being commodified, every resource, every plant, every animal, every humyn, the earth itself is an organism and global capital is consuming its very organs – eating the fragile biomes that pump life to larger ecosystems.

While I stare at this dandelion countless animals are help prisoner to capitalism, are tortured, enslaved, and murdered for profit.

Huntingdon Life Sciences is a prime example of capitalism’s wrath on the animal nations. As I write this 70,000 animals are listlessly confined to cages, wading in puddles of their own blood and vomit, no heat or enrichment, inadequate food and water, and no anesthetics to quelch their immense pain and suffering. All of these atrocities make up the reality for an animal imprisoned at HLS, a reality all in the name of toxicology and biotech testing.

When I see the suffering that capitalism inflicts on our world’s peoples, it’s enrichment and its animals I see that in comparison I am very lucky. My jailing will not serve t odeter my resistance to suffering, nor will it deter our movements resolve to abolish suffering.

When I visualize a beagle at HLS, the beautiful and docile creature she is, the immense pain and suffering in her expression or behind her eyes, or in the way she cries out to deaf ears when in pain, I realize that jail is a fucking joke. Jail is nothing more than a hurdle in our struggle for liberation, and I will exit here this summer with a resolve ten times as strong as before to battle HLS, that is if they are luck enough to remain open that long. That dandelion has taught me a valuable lesson. Never doubt the power one individual can have to conquer what appears to be unimaginable goals. I know that anyone who may read this is another person capable of bettering the world I they apply themselves.

Today’s current affairs of activist repression make us all feel like weeds beneath six inches of pavement, their repression is their attempt to suffocate our struggles for liberation. Our actions serve to break through the pavement they have laid down so we may breach surface. Once there, we may begin to sow the seeds of compassion and grow more corps through the broken preferations of pavement, much like the dandelion has. With time the lone weed can transform the black sea of pavement to a flowering garden.

Our actions breach the pavement and lead us towards liberation, but without action we will remain trapped under the pavement. Too often people are concerned about leaving their “comfort zone”, when taking actions for the Earth and its animals, but in order for their to be progress we must learn to feel uncomfortable with the things we do. A diversity of tactics will help our struggle advance and crumble this sea of pavement. I would encourage everyone to step up their involvement two times. If you only feel comfortable writing letters, then attend a protest or rally, fi you only feel comfortable attending demonstrations then take to the night and commit an act of non-violent economic sabotage or liberate an animal from torture.

To often I speak to friends an comrades who are enraged with my jailing and have prioritized my imprisonment as an issue they must take action against. Do not be enraged with my imprisonment, be enraged with the suffering in the world and take action against that suffering. I do not want to be viewed as a hero or a martyr to the movement, but rather as a regular kid who wants very much to accomplish his goals. Each night before I fall asleep I think of my heroes, the people who give me the strength to take on another day in jail. The Plowshares, the Black Panthers, Mumia Abu Jamal and the brothers and sisters of Move, Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela, the masked crusaders of the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front, the activists who penetrated HLS on April 1st 2001 and rescued 14 beagles, SHAC, the MTC, Anti-Capitalist Convergence, the ADL, my best friend, and my beloved girlfriend, and most of all the heroes who broke into Marshal Farms delivering thirty pups and ten ferrets to freedom; they are all my heroes, they by their very existence are acting to tear apart the vast dead sea of pavement to sow the seeds of compassion and cultivate the garden of a better tomorrow.

Love, Andy Stepanian.

You can write to Andy at: Andrew Stepanian B1A1, NCC 0200 1777, C/O Nassau County Corrections, 100 Carman Avenue, East Meadow, NY 11554-1160. Check out www.freeandy.org for more information!

Book Review

The Battle of Seattle: The New Challenge to Capitalist Globalization

Edited by Eddie Yuen, George Katiaficas and Daniel Burton Rose – Soft Skull Press

The Battle of Seattle is a collection of articles, written by a myriad of authors concerning the WTO protests in 1999. However, these pieces are not devoted exclusively to Seattle and the WTO. The articles cover the recent presidential conventions, thoughts about globalization and capitalism, police brutality against protesters, NGOs and their roles, protests in others places worldwide and much more. The majority of the articles are relatively short, meaning that one can read one or two in a sitting if they do not have the attention span nor time to plunge into large amounts of this book all at once.

The book looks at the protests in Seattle and other protests worldwide under the auspices of leftist ideals. However, even with the leftist viewpoint, within it there are a wide array of opinions towards capitalism and globalization and how best to approach and confront it. This diversity of opinions on the subject makes the book interesting and keeps your attention, good thing because this book is over three hundred pages and anything too one-sided could leave the reader frustrated and uninterested. The Battle of Seattle is only one of the numerous books on the Seattle protests recently making it to the shelves, but like many of these books, it will surely help generate new followers to the anti-capitalist movement and with that, hopefully some new ideas as well.

Activist Jon Batchelor freed from prison

Seattle animal rights activist Jon Batchelor is free after 94 days in the Fairfax Co, VA jail! His felony charges from actions at an animal rights demonstration, carrying a possible sentence of 10 years, were dropped. He was found guilty on a misdemeanor charge of assault and fined $2,700, bringing his total expenses to $14,000. He still needs our support paying off the bullshit.

During the demo, he ‘unarrested’ a woman from a suspected undercover cop. The cops apparently got his name from undercovers at the demonstration, and he was arrested on the warrant months later in Seattle, WA. His trial was fraught with state repression: a metal detector was set up, somebody reported seeing a sniper on an adjacent building, and a van of supporters was harassed by police.

Send contributions to: Jon Batchelor, 5208 Heather Dr, Anacortes, WA 98221. JONfromNOWon@yahoo.com

Please Destroy Cell Phones Vefore Entering

When I tell people I hate cell phones, they generally respond with wide eyes, asking me why. With passion, they describe the ways cell phones have made their lives so much better. “They are so convenient.” “I’m never at home, this way people can reach me.” “I have it in case of an emergency.” I have heard them all. My first response is maybe you should spend some more time at home, or appreciate the time when you can’t be reached as your time uninterrupted. Or if it’s only for emergencies, why are you always on it? I personally cherish the times I cannot be reached as time just for me. I think about the supposed convenience, which is payed for by giving up some of the best things humans have going for us, not to mention the exploitation of resources, poor folks and animals.

Col-tan (columbite tantalite) is a mineral essential for the manufacture of cell phones. Companies in the US pay from $100 – $200,000 a ton for it, depending on the market. Col-tan is plentiful in the Congo in Africa, where it is a major source of potential income for the local population. Different factions involved in a long-running war in the Congo fight to control mines so they can use col-tan profits to buy weapons. Thus, the U.S. demand for col-tan fans the flames of a conflict that has been plaguing the Congo. Impoverished and hungry Congolese miners, removed from their homes and usual food sources to work in the mines, have been slaughtering and eating elephants and gorillas who happen to live around the mines. It’s the same story of the US exploiting a poor country that has the natural resources we want, to make us faster, bigger, stronger and more hungry for natural resources. The above summary is a very simplified version of the complexities of the Congo, but the truth is that people and animals are dying and land is being destroyed in order for people in the United States to have convenience. It is about speed and accessibility and profit, and to hell with the rest.

But cell phones aren’t just problematic socially and environmentally — they’re degrading our very nature, our culture and our communities. Cell phones don’t always work. People become dependent on a believed sense of security. Many people seem to believe that nothing bad can really happen if they have this little device, but it ain’t so. Cell phones do likely get people out of a jam here and there, but we have to remember that babies were born and people found the house they were trying to visit, or got help when the car broke down, before this invention. Somehow we made it through without them. Cell phones may get some people out of a difficult spot, but so have good sense or the kindness of another person.

Who will be better off if we lose those things in ourselves? Cell phones only serve to separate us (humans) more. How small would your world be if you never met any strangers? What if you didn’t have to ask for directions on the street or at a corner market. Who might have you missed out on meeting? If we lose our ability to be creative solution finders, what happens when the cell phone goes kerplooey. What happens to our sense of security and autonomy if it’s all based on a piece of technology, and the hope that it will work? And what happens if the damn thing breaks and there aren’t any pay phones left?

Having to figure out “how am I going to hook up with this person,” actually stretches the mind. You used to have to think about it, invent a plan that would make your paths cross if you weren’t at home. Now people don’t prepare as much, and assume more. There is an expectation of immediacy, as if we have the right to reach any person whenever we want.

And whatever happened to talking to the person you are with? I can’t even count the times I’ve observed one person sitting next to their companion, as their companion talks on the phone completely ignoring them. People don’t talk to the person they stand in line with, instead they exhibit potentially schizophrenic tendencies, looking like they are talking to themselves until you see the petroleum/col-tan appendage stuck to their heads. I even witnessed an outrageously obnoxious man telling his phone companion how awful and stupid the service was right in front of the poor clerk making minimum wage ringing him up. My friend who just returned from a lovely hot springs visit told me about the person who sat in the hot spring in the wilderness talking on the blasted thing. Arrogant! Obnoxious! Is consideration out the door with creativity and adventure and good sense? We are in trouble!

The phone companies are in on the scam too. Has anyone noticed pay phones disappearing, or the price now at 50 cents. (You notice if you don’t have a cell phone!) I know that people of all classes have cell phones, but there are those who can’t afford them (besides those of us who just choose not to). What do we do? I’ve heard tale of walking block after block in search of a pay phone, to no avail

This appears to be another front in the war against the poor. The best reason I can think of to have a cell phone is if you do not have a home. Cell phones could be a great boon to the grueling homeless life of travel from line to line, trying to reach people when you can’t be reached, trying to find a job . . . But if you are homeless or poor and you don’t have a cell phone (maybe your credit wasn’t good enough) then how do you take care of business at 50 cents a pop? At least there are still some drop in centers with phones to help.

Clearly demand for pay phones has dropped. There are 600,000 fewer pay phones now than there were in 1998, and the US government believes there are over five and a half million households that have no regular telephone at all. Ouch, I see both of these figures getting worse.

You may notice that I haven’t listed car accidents and brain cancer in my tirade. The research I did showed that neither risk is proven, although one study did say that mice couldn’t find their way out of a tank of water onto a ladder when they were surrounded by cell phone frequencies. I don’t need those reasons to hate cell phones, but they could make it on someone’s list.

Let me recap here what we are potentially giving up for this so called convenience: good sense, kindness, adventure, problem solving skills, connection, Congolese, gorillas, elephants, the ability to have solitude, real security as opposed to imagined.

And this may be the clincher: I read an article that says there has been a drastic decrease in ghost sightings over the last 15 years, where there had been a fairly constant number for the last several hundred years. This decrease is associated with the increase in electromagnetic activity of our technological utopia. So after all of this, are we going to give up our connection to the dead as well? I don’t see how any of it is worth the convenience.

Sometimes I go too far with this cell phone thing. I’ve thrown people out of my house and my room for using them. As a high school teacher, I threaten to destroy them on a daily basis when I see them in my classroom. But I am serious when I say that cell phones are leading us down a path from which we may not recover. It’s the same path that so many other “scientific breakthroughs” have put us on — in a really personal and daily way, cell phones are undermining community. We’re engaging in selective breeding — several generations in the future, people will be less spontaneous, have a harder time making decisions, and have less common sense. Or maybe we’ll just get cell phones implanted into our heads along with the computer chips that contain all our medical information.

General Assembly of FunTime Enthusiasts!

Late July, 2002

Adventure * mystery * excitement * chaos * the death of boredom * total vacation * no one would ever expect it at all. 50,000 kids in one place – but what are we supposed to do? really, now? play games? shake our booties to today’s funkiest dance grooves? build robots? fight monsters? work voodoo on our enemies? race shopping carts? dig through the garbage for treasure? dig in the sand for china? dress up like silly lunatics and have normal folk stare at us? walk up to them, hellbent on making them be lunatics with us, or at least making them feel like boring assholes? make obstacle courses, mazes and funhouses? cut out stencils to beautify the city’s walls and sidewalks? go trick-or-treating? fly kites? ride bikes? rock and roll? beat the innards out of pinatas? climb trees? slip and slide on wet, soapy sheets of plastic? juggle? explore the obscure corners of our environment? cook food? eat food? poop? pound, pluck and probe musical instruments, even constructing rhythm and harmony if you’re lucky enough? strap on armor and beat your friends with padded swords? pretend you’re brad pitt and kick the shit out of your friends sans wimpy armor? roll around in the hay with a love interest? hang your pretty drawrings on walls for people to look at? build catapults and other such weapons of mass destruction… i mean, innocent, fun toys? parade? watch movies made by crazy punk rockers and wierdos? fall in love? learn something useful or amusing or both or neither? generally live life like it mattered? oh yeah? that’s nuts! yes! Yes!! YES!!! fucking seattle, late july 2002. be there or die of boredom, for surely. THE KIDS are going to do something. they’re gonna have fun. but what is fun? it’s what we’re not supposed to have, it’s treating the city like it was ours, our own world of dance parties and war games, art shows on public walls and theater in the streets, rap videos come to life and mythical beasts rampaging through a city that should not be there. all it takes is some creativity, some energy, some not givin a fuck, and a shove to get the ball rolling. tell everyone you know. tell the kids you know who like fucking with people, tell the kids who aren’t afraid of anything, tell the kids who wouldn’t in a million years so much as dream of being boring, tell kids in bands, kids who make stencils, kids who’re always telling you about a crazy idea they have, kids who will dance all night long and then walk all the way home telling you stories, kids with the fucking spirit of pippi longstocking & abbie hoffman. and send this shit around. haha! love you. chef jeffrey moominmonster footclan@ziplip.com nihil@bikerider.com

NarcoDollars and the Drug War

The New and Improved Bush Drug War Now that George W. Bush and the Crypto Nazi Right have their non-congressionally declared “War on Terrorism) in high gear, it is time to reflect thoughtfully on yet another of these republican presidents’ declared wars: the war on drugs, declared 30 years ago by Tricky Dick Nixon. The fact that according to the trashed US Constitution, Article I, Section 8, only Congress can declare war, has been usurped and rendered meaningless, the US constitution destroyed in order to safe it, as the Republican mantra goes. When do these republican presidents’ declared wars end?

Since George W. Bush is also leading the Nixon-called War on Drugs, after the on-going 30 years of war, it is time to take account of the real purpose of the real purpose of these republican presidents’ undeclared wars-excluding bush’s much alleged drug use in his younger years. The illegal drug business lies at the heart of a great paradox. The narcotics cartels are by far the most successful enterprises in the international market.

Mexico’s cartels alone yield an estimated $30 billion to $50 billion a year in hard currency from the U.S., dwarfing earnings from the export of oil and automotive assembly parts. This is one of the few major businesses whose ownership and management is almost completely Hispanic, and CIA blessed, and the cartels owe their home-grown success to the United States and Republican Presidents. In the first place, because the US provides and enormous and inexhaustible market for their pharmaceutical products. The sub rosa purpose of republican presidents’ declared “drug wars” is to protect criminal cartels.

Were narcotics legalized, tobacco and liquor companies, the legal purveyors of addictive chemicals, would rush in with lower prices and world-wide marketing and distribution, and the cartels would be out of business almost overnight. George W. Bush is the best friend illegal drug cartels have.

The sober truth is that the economics and economies of Mexico and Columbia would go into convulsions without the infusion of narcodollars, which are as important to them as petrodollars are to the Arabs. Both countries – and others too – are addicted to narcodollars. The unpleasant truth is that the addiction is reciprocal. Just as Mexico and Columbia are hooked on narcodollars, the US is hooked on narcotics. Both are signs of the failure of community and republican presidents’ protection racket, a free service to drug cartels, aided and abetted by the CIA.

Surreptitiously protected by Bush and the CIS, under the false flag of a war on drugs, Mexico and Columbia have long been engaging in a form of internal market consolidation. Occasionally the two governments – and America- nab a kingpin, portraying the move as a great coup on the war on drugs, while clearing the way for better connected traffickers to take over their markets.

Freed from excessive competition, the cartels become more profitable. That boosts the economy as a whole, as narcodollars reap multiplier effects in banking and tourism, priming the economic pump.

All of which brings greater tax revenue to the government. First, because laundered drug profits make their way into the formal economy, where they are taxed like any other income. Second, because the cartels that win the bidding war pay a substantial hidden tax to the government in bribes and payoffs that supplement the salaries of officials, including the police and the military.

Countries that want no part of this flim-flam sham drug war game – such as Cuba and Venezuela – knowing it is a protection racket for drug cartels, not so mysteriously find themselves the subject of destabilizing acts from the US/CIA/pimps/proxies/puppets, and at the top of the bush administrations doo-doo list.

Sometimes you must turn a product upside down to read the label. If you turn the war on drugs upside down, you can readily see what’s going on, and the exact same is true of other republican presidents’ declared wars: such as the war on terrorism, war on crime, ad nauseum. It’s a pattern. A modus operandi. Based on part of Abe Lincoln’s dictum: you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time. Robert J. Zani No. 328938 Michael Unit PO Box 4500 Tennessee Colony, TX 75886