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Letters To SlingShot

EASY TO GET FAMILY PACT

Dear Slingshot,

In response to cara’s article about HPV in the last issue. A few comments:

As an insider in the health care system, I would like to verify that Family Pact does not do income verification. (FPACT is the state funding available to everyone, not just ovary bearers, to cover reproductive health services such as paps, birth control, STD tests/treatment, urinary tract infections, breast checks, and other issues ranging from lost condoms to green discharge). It’s a one page application you can fill out at any reproductive health clinic and is available to low income folks who don’t have any health insurance (but they don’t check up on that either). Also, they ask for your social security number, but you can still get the funding if you don’t have one or don’t want to give it out. One of the fucked up things about FPACT is that it is only supposed to be available for those who are “at risk of causing a pregnancy”, totally alienating people who’ve been sterilized, older folks, queers, and trannies, while blatantly ignoring the issue of STD’s/sexual health in these communities. I’ve never heard of anyone being asked about their sexual orientation when they apply for FPACT and every health care provider I know overlooks this discrepancy when discussing practices with their patients.

Another thing about FPACT is that it does not cover abortion or pre-natal care. Once you are pregnant, you are ineligible for any services until you are not pregnant any more. If you go to a Medi-Cal office with income and pregnancy verification, social security card (if you have one), and ID, they’ll sign you up for “Emergency Medi-Cal”. Then, you can get services for abortion or pre-natal care/birth for free. You are allowed to make more money ($1850/month I think) to qualify for this since the pregnant woman counts as two people. It’s pretty fucked up that they count a little sack of cells as a whole other person, but it allows more access to women so I guess I’ll pick my battles…

The HPV vaccine is still in research stages, but so far has shown to be effective both in preventing folks from picking up new strains, as well as protection from already existing strains that haven’t surfaced yet. However, right-wing activists are on a mission to slow the research and prevent the vaccine’s release, claiming that it will encourage pre-marital sex!

Laughable but true. These are the same fuckers who are chipping away at abortion and emergency contraception access, who would rather see women die than get the services/health care that they need and deserve. So.. lets not let them gain any more ground than they’ve already stolen.

-Syddartha

WE ARE NOT ALONE

Dear Slingshot,

Being depressed most of my life, getting HPV was just another notch in my belt for battlescar experience. Because in addition to that, I also have HSV (the other unmentionable STI). It just really drives the point home that life does, and will suck.

Anyway, I think it’s really important to let people know that infected people are out there, we are not alone. The thing that needs to be done is education and testing and acceptance. Men especially need to realize, that yes they can have the virus without symptoms! What is wrong with humans that they can’t believe they have something unless they are bleeding out the mouth!!

The guy who gave me HSV probably to this day has never been tested and will keep spreading around the virus because he can’t fess up to responsibility. It’s a shame.

With your article, the veil drops, the hidden become free. More people need to stop joking, turning the cheek and realize that there are individuals who live with STI everyday and go on. We are not criminals, diseased vagrants of society and for that matter, who’s judging?

I just wish more people are willing to write down their thoughts like you did. I can’t tell you how valuable it is.

Your article made me feel stronger and ready to take steps to face the world. I’m not like everyone else and why should I be? But at least I know…

-anonymous

OCTOGENARIAN ANARCHIST

Dear Gentlepersons,

As a former Cab driver (age 84) I’d be glad to pass out free copies of slingshot to Cab drivers as they get a lot of dead time to read and pass out your words of wisdom to their “Captive Audience”, their fares. The Bay Area distributors should use this in giveaways.

I lived in Berkeley and Albany and Oakland from 1946 to 1952 when first married to a 17 year old Cutie I met while a patient – She was so good looking I left the lights on when we went to bed.

Anyway, get some sample copies into the hands of Cab drivers. They will make great advertisers for you.

Send as many copies as you wish, if too big for my P.O. Box they put them in a locker – up to you. I wonder if Haliburton Oil has a nice big helicoptor on the roof of their office bldg. in Iraq… ala the escape from Saigon??

-W. Bain

THE LIGHT WENT ON

To Slingshot;

I’d like to stress that this being the first time reading your magazine, I’m very impressed by all the things I’m reading regarding issues that have always troubled me. I am 27 now and had never heard of an anarchist movement at work. I now understand where it is that I’m standing in life. Being a foreigner in this country, I’ve gone through what many people don’t: racism, socialism, poverty and moreover, a victim of my own ignorance. I’m presently serving six years of a ten year sentence due to my ignorance ( I’ll be released next year and then deported to Mexico).

I need to get all and any information that could be of any help for someone like me. A beginner. I’m also interested in contributing en Espanol to help open the eyes of my people. Because I know and I’m aware that there lies too much ignorance and misinformation toward the Hispanic community.

I’m closing this letter hoping I’ll hear from you soon. I wish the best to everyone working on the cause. Stay strong and recognize where you belong. Love for all.

Benjamin Gomez I -TDC#883261

Neal Unit – 9055 Spur 591

Amarillo TX 79107

PS anyone willing to write to me is welcome!

REACHIN OUT

Hey there all you beautiful slingshot kids

My name is Bar-B, you know like that ugly little Matel doll, & I’m in prison at V.S.P.W. in Chowchilla for sellin weed. It’s fuct, but hey, go figure. Look at everything this fuct up society does. But any-hoo my point to writing you is that I’m a grrrl who’s a big fan of your zine. I hate this prison bullshit because I’m out of the loop with issues that I’m passionate about & I have no one to talk to about activism in here. People think I’m so weird in here because I’m covered in tattoos, I don’t shave, I don’t eat meat, my ears are stretch huge, I’m re-dreading my hair because they made me cut them off when I got here. People try & say “what are you” & I just let their feeble minds call me a “punk rocker” because every time I’ve said I’m an activist, they look clueless & I’m sick of explaining. So I just got off track…. I would love it if you could send me your zine until I get out. I get out 3-14-06. I normally pick up stacks of your zine every time I go to the Bay Area & bring them back home to Chico & pass em out at Food Not Bombs, shows, record shops & hand em out to any traveling kids that come through. Green Anarchy hooked me up with your address, Earth First’s address too. I’m trying to get put on an A.B.C. list so if you know how maybe you could help me out & put my name & C.D.C # & address on it. Well I could write forever but I’m sure you guys have enough shit to do. I was just wantin some info & so on. I hope to hear back from you soon.

Thanx,

Bar-B

BorderHack 2005

Responding to the right-wing Minutemen’s threat to begin vigilante immigration enforcement along the California / Mexico border as soon as July, activists in Southern California are mobilizing a week of action August 3-7 on the border entitled BorderHack 2005. Earlier this spring, the Minutemen sent hundreds of armed volunteers to patrol the Arizona-Mexican border and report undocumented immigrants to border patrol cops. While the Minuteman Project claims to be unaffiliated with racist groups, it is difficult to take this claim seriously given xenophobic statements posted on their website warning that the US is being “devoured and plundered by the menace of tens of millions of invading illegal aliens” and that “future generations will inherit a tangle of rancorous, unassimilated, squabbling cultures.” Their solution, apparently, is to send racist thugs with weapons to harass Latino immigrants entering the US.

Conflict between Minutemen and their supporters and Latinos in Southern California are already heating up. On May 25, four protesters at a speech by gun toting Mexican-hunter Jim Gilchrist were hit by a car driven by a white Minuteman type — two were hospitalized. Instead of quickly arresting the driver, police protected the vigilantes and attacked the crowd with batons and threats of pepper spray, arresting 8 people on trumped up felony charges. In response to the arrests and the possible arrival of Minutemen, activists in San Diego are mobilizing.

BorderHack 2005 is still in the planning stage — they hope to issue a Call to Action soon. Currently under discussion are a week of speakers, workshops, forums, marches/rallies, camps, media labs and agitation on and around the border. “This summer will be explosive and we must drown out the racists with our struggles for justice in border communities, and an honest conversation about globalization and migration” notes one organizer.

To get involved, contact deletetheborder.org orborderhack.org for updates

ABCDEF…..REE SKOOLZ!

Berkeley’s Barrington Collective just started a free skool for Summer 2005 here in Berkeley and it got us thinking about free skools over the ages and around the planet. If you know of a free skool in your town or one that was going in 1974 or whatever, let us know about it!

According to the Berkeley Barrington Collective, “Free Skools attempt to dissolve the traditional roles of student and teacher in learning. The classes are free, the curriculum is defined by the needs and desires of the community; people learn and teach what they want.” There are currently active free skools in (at least!) Santa Cruz, Calif., Olympia, Washington, Denver, Colorado, Missoula, Montana, and folks are talking about setting one up again in Portland, Oregon. A Slingshot alumni is even teaching a free skool permaculture class in Argentina right now! Many cities had free skools at some point in the past even if they don’t have them now — in Berkeley there was a big free skool in the mid-90s.

The Berkeley free skool features classes like: Monsters, Robots and Beasts, a fiction writing class for teens; Steps to buying your first home; Criminal Records (I and II); Tenant/Landlord Legal Issues; Liberation and Reality; Community Mental Health discussion; Beer Brewing; Welding; Creating a Non-profit; DIY Meditation; Grant Writing; Insects for Kids; Speculative and Practical Folklore; Intro to Palo Mayombe; Intro to Capoeira; Philosophy and Politics; Radical Mental Health; Alternative and Non-coercive Education; Firearms: Use, Safety and Laws; (ESL) Clases de Ingles; S&M 101; Conflict Skills; and the Stone Soup/Integrated Free Skool weekly discussions/meetings.

Contact these free skools for specific info:

Berkeley – barringtoncollective.org/FreeSkool

Santa Cruz – santacruz.freeskool.org; summer quarter starts at the beginning of July and runs until the end of September.

Olympia – www.olympiafreeschool. org

Denver – denverfreeskool.org

USDA Set to Destroy Organic

In late summer or fall, the USDA will issue its long-delayed federal regulations on organic food. Despite precise recommendations from the National Organics Standards Board (NOSB) to maintain strict organic standards — policies basically in harmony with those advocated by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), and the European Parliament — USDA officials have delayed as long as possible in announcing federal regulations on organics.

The main reason for the delay was agribusiness’ desire to be included in the potential profits (sales of organics have increased 20% a year since 1990). Hand in glove with the agribusiness industry, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the USDA have promoted genetically engineered foods and high-chemical-input agriculture. Now the USDA finds itself in a quandary.

To define the word organic is to admit that a host of agribusiness practices such as pesticide use, intensive confinement of livestock, hormone injection, and genetic engineering are somehow less healthy. Yet, the USDA, FDA, and EPA have strenuously argued for years that these practices are perfectly safe. According to several inside sources in Washington who have seen the proposed rules, the USDA not only intends to disregard the NOSB’s explicit ban on genetically engineered food and intensive confinement of farm animals, but will actually make it illegal for regional or non-governmental organic certification bodies to uphold organic standards stricter than U.S. government standards.

If the USDA gets away with this in the United States, their eventual strategy will be to use the legal hammer of the GATT World Trade Organization to force European and other nations to lower their organic standards as well. This could cause serious repercussions internationally, where there is increasing opposition to genetically engineered food. It would have a huge impact and be viewed with utter dismay by the rest of the world, says Ken Cummins, of the International Accreditation Services, part of the International Federation of Organic Movements.