Monday, December 27, 2004





This link brings you to a photo of
the KKK marching down Pennsylvania
Avenue in Washington, DC in 1928.
Evidently they were able to get a permit.

(With many thanks to Kwame Somburu
for supplying the link. This site has
a plethora of information about the KKK....
Bonnie Weinstein, Bay Area United Against War)

The U.S. government is not allowing antiwar
/anti-Bush protestors onto Pennsylvania Ave.
along the inauguration route Jan. 20th.

We have a constitutional right to protest the
inauguration. BAUAW encourages all to show
up in DC and come to Pennsylvania Avenue
with your signs and banners and express
your opposition to Bush and to the War.

We demand equal access along the rout for all.
We have a right to protest our government or
any of its official representatives. Nothing gives
the government the right to disallow legal and
peaceful protest.

If you can't go to DC, come out Jan. 20, 5pm,
Civic Center, SF. in solidarity with all protestors
in Washington and everywhere who oppose this war.

We are encouraging everyone to participate
somehow by wearing buttons and signs
at work, at school and on the bus; hold
banners at freeway entrances, and crowded
shopping areas etc. on Jan. 20. Students
should hold rallies and march to the Civic Center.

Come to our next meeting and pick a place
to flyer or table for Jan. 20 or hold a sign
during the day, on Jan. 20 if you can.




Let's Hit the Streets
To Defend Abortion Rights!
Saturday, January 22

Emboldened rightwing abortion foes have had the nerve to announce
a march in San Francisco on the anniversary of the historic
Roe v. Wade decision! Show them that San Francisco is
a reproductive rights town -- save the date and plan to
attend a counter demonstration!

What is needed in response is a multi-issue, militant, united
front of women, people of all colors, queers, immigrants, workers
and everyone targeted by the rightwing to show that the
anti-abortionists are not welcome in San Francisco!
Make your opinion heard!

Details of assembly time and place will be announced soon.


Virginion Pilot via AP - Photos - click here


a one-man show featuring Tommi Avicolli Mecca
directed by Francesca Prada
(The most important thing is for folks to make reservations ASAP.
Seating is limited. Please take a moment to call 554-0402
if you plan to come to the show.)
JANUARY 14-29 (Friday and Saturday nights only: 14, 15; 21, 22; 28, 29)
JON SIMS CENTER, 1519 Mission/between Van Ness and 11th
8pm, $5-10 sliding scale (no one turned away)
seating is limited, for reservations: 415-554-0402
to volunteer to help with the show, call 415-552-6031

Through monologue and spoken word, well-known San Francisco
queer activist and writer Tommi Avicolli Mecca tells his story of
growing up in South Philly's working-class Little Italy. At age 19,
fired up with new pride in being gay, he came out to the world--
and his traditional Roman Catholic southern Italian famiglia--on
a TV talk show. The rest is history, and the subject of this performance.


1) Living in Garbage
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** **
December 26, 2004

2) Dear Friends of the Cuban Five. René González has sent the following
greetings for the 2005 New Year on behalf of the Cuban Five to their
supporters around the world:

3) Newfield Wielded Mighty Pen
New York Daily News -
Thursday, December 23rd, 2004

4) The cost of Christmas
£30bn: The amount Britons will spend celebrating
Christmas this year
Compiled by Cahal Milmo
24 December 2004

5) Ten more years?
Senior MPs warn British troops will be in Iraq for a decade,
as Blair in Baghdad proclaims: 'We are not a nation of quitters'
By Donald Macintyre in Baghdad and Colin Brown
22 December 2004

6) A System of Injustice
America Locked Up
December 21, 2004

[Col. Writ. 12/5/04] Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
"The medium is the massage." -- Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980)

[Col. Writ. 11/25/04] Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal

[Col. Writ. 11/28/04) Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal

10) Martha Stewart's Christmas Message: Prison Reform Now!
Yoshie Furuhashi
Saturday, December 25, 2004

11) An Open Letter from Martha Stewart
This is a personal statement from Martha Stewart.
It is not issued by or on behalf of Martha Stewart Living
Omnimedia, Inc.

12) Big Farms Reap Two Harvests With Subsidies a Bumper Crop
December 26, 2004

13) Affirmative Action, Cuban Style
By Fitzhugh Mullan, M.D.
New England Journal of Medicine
Volume 351:2680-2682 December 23, 2004 Number 26

14) 4/28/05 Mass Protest Of Injured
and Disabled Workers Called In

15) A scientific inquiry into the existence of Santa Claus.
(This was sent to me by my thirteen-year-old grandson,


1) Living in Garbage
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** **
December 26, 2004

The dump is a dusty wasteland. Heaps of Baghdad's rotting wastes are
strewn about several square miles of the battered capital city. Engaged
in their futile battle to remove the endless amounts of garbage from
streets, blue garbage trucks
rumble through the stinky dump, adding their loads of filth.
32 year-old Hattim lives in this wasteland with his family

"We are living in a dump. We are living a bad life. We have children,
and no school. We have nothing. We are asking the new government to take
small care of us. Not big things, just small things. We are transporting
water with animals, with donkeys, and it's not clean water. It's not
clean water at all and we have a lot of diseases."

Hattim's family, along with 35 other people, live in houses they've
built out of old cans of cooking oil
Dried mud is packed between them to keep out the wind and dust

Inside their makeshift home flies cover everything. A 10 day old baby
nestled in dirty blankets as flies buzz over her tiny head.

Hattim continues, "We lived in the marshes and when Saddam dried the
marshes he took our farms and everything and made military camps there.
And now, we are living in a dump. The human, which is this holy
creature, you can't imagine living in a dump. Even God doesn't accept that."

Flies cover the walls, the ceiling
and buzz incessantly around the family of 6. Hattim's 40 year-old
sister-in-law, Rana, lives in another home made of cans and mud. She
enters Hattim's to ask for some bread.

She holds her hands up towards the flies and says, "The flies are always
with us. We have some animals and they live on things in the dump. We
have no electricity and no water. Nobody is helping us and we don't have
salaries. Our parents had a farm and they lived in the south. But when
they cut the water from the marshes, we started our problems."

Outside Hattim collects small wood scraps
and pieces of plastic from the refuse in order to make a small fire to
warm his home. Two little girls, his nieces with dirt caked on their
play with an old piece of tire, throwing it back and forth.

He looks up at them playing before lamenting over his situation.

"My brother has many kids. Some are five and six years old. I don't have
any documents for anything and don't even have a food ration card. I
have an Iraqi identification, which is of course worth nothing."

One of his relatives, despite the horrible living situation, is happy to
have his photo taken
while Hattim pauses his discussion.

Hattim says the interim government promised great assistance for his
family three months ago.

"They said wait three months and we'll send you to Mars," he says to
underscore the big promises made by the interim government to help the
poor in Baghdad, "No, we don't want to go to Mars, we just want a place
on this earth."

More writing, photos and commentary at
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ubject or the body of the email.

(c)2004 Dahr Jamail.
All images and text are protected by United States and international
copyright law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on
the web, you need to include this copyright notice and a prominent
link to the website. Any other use of images
and text including, but not limited to, reproduction, use on another
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Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via email.

Iraq_Dispatches mailing list


2) Dear Friends of the Cuban Five. René González has sent the following
greetings for the 2005 New Year on behalf of the Cuban Five to their
supporters around the world:

December 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Another year of struggle for our freedom has gone by; one in which the hopes
of winning justice didn't seem unfounded, judging by the oral hearing for
appeal just three months into the year.

At the end it hasn't happened yet, and at least for us these twelve months
have gone by like a whisper. I hope it hasn't been like that for you, and
you have been able to live each moment free from the speedy pace imposed
on us by the monotonous jail life.

Anyway, faster or slower, it's been another intense period, during which we
have been part of the prowess of our people in its irreducible fight for its
sovereignty, and its unceasing struggle to build out of ours the humane
society which inspired, first and foremost, the magnificent event that was
Cuban Revolution.

Our people, for its part, hasn't taken a step back in its fight for justice
for us;
nevertheless, this has been a journey that neither the Cuban people nor we
have made alone.

In these twelve months your support has been with us. Your letters and
messages of encouragement have reminded us every day that love knows
no borders, that it is worth being defended and that everywhere in the world
there are human beings who justify our sacrifice. In a universe upon which
ignorance, insensitivity, violence and egoism are imposed by atrociously
sophisticated means, people like you remind us that the gift of reason and
applying that reason to human betterment is not a wasted miracle.

That's why I haven't wanted to let the opportunity of the new year pass by
without writing to you this humble message of gratitude and appreciation,
gratitude and appreciation that will never be enough to express the high
esteem you deserve from me, but that come sincerely from my heart, to
endure forever.

I wish you a very happy 2005, full of joy, of happiness and personal as well
familial accomplishments but, above all, full of the unique satisfaction
which -
a privilege that generous souls enjoy - grows from the pleasure of doing
and of fighting, with courage and sensitivity, for a better and possible

A big hug and my best wishes,

René González Sehwerert
Gerardo Hernández Nordelo
Fernando González Llort
Ramón Labañino Salazar
Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez


3) Newfield Wielded Mighty Pen
New York Daily News -
Thursday, December 23rd, 2004

The woman's name was Brenda Scurry. She was poor and black and on
welfare, and she lived in a top-floor tenement apartment on Tiffany St.
in the South Bronx.

One day in 1969, a young reporter with thick black glasses knocked on
Scurry's door. He said his name was Jack Newfield from the Village
Voice, and he had come to ask about the death of her 23-month-
old daughter, Janet.

Scurry invited him inside. In the next issue of the Voice, Newfield
vividly described the crumbling plaster in Scurry's apartment and
gave the mother's chilling account of how her daughter had stopped
eating that April and "started trembling and couldn't breathe ...
and started to change color."

"A neighbor called a policeman and we took her to Morrisania
Hospital," Scurry told Newfield. "A doctor looked at her and told
me to go home, that she would be okay. They asked me if Janet
ever ate paint or plaster and I told them yes.

"I went home but her temperature kept going up and down. After
five days they gave her a blood test for lead poisoning. And then
she died the next day. The day after she died, the blood test
came back positive."

Newfield went on to produce a stream of articles that laid bare
the epidemic of lead poisoning in the slums of New York.

The series so shocked the public that Mayor John Lindsay launched
a massive lead paint removal program.

If Newfield, then 31, had crawled into a hole and done nothing else
for the rest of his life, those lead-paint articles alone - with the
countless children they saved - would be enough to enshrine him
in some journalism hall of fame.

But Newfield was no ordinary muckraker. He was a brawler from
Bed-Stuy who never stopped swinging the pen in defense of underdogs.

It was that way to the end, which came on Monday night, when
at the age of 66 he lost his last great bout, this time with cancer.

At the funeral service on Manhattan's West Side yesterday, Wayne
Barrett, his longtime colleague at the Voice, called Newfield a
"father to a generation of journalists."

Mario Cuomo, whom Newfield befriended when the future governor
was a little-known Brooklyn lawyer, called him "one of this era's
most courageous champions of justice."

In his pursuit of justice, Newfield violated many of the rules they
teach in journalism schools.

For one thing, he actually cared about the people and the issues
he wrote about. He deeply believed that journalists have a bigger
responsibility than merely to report facts or entertain the reader.
He believed they must also use their skills to make the world
a better place.

Fifteen years ago, Newfield and I were colleagues at this paper and
became friends. One night in late 1990, I called him at home.

The unions at the Daily News had been locked out and forced into
a strike by the former owner of the newspaper, the Tribune Co.

At the time, Newfield was part of News management and was still
working to put out the paper, while I was chairman of the Newspaper
Guild's strike committee and was walking the picket lines with the
other reporters, and pressmen and drivers.

Newfield was a longtime union supporter and I knew it was breaking
his heart to have to cross our picket lines each morning.

So I told him it would be a big shot in the arm to the strike if he
would resign and refuse to put out a scab paper.

Newfield had been at the paper only 18 months. After decades at
the gadfly Voice, the job at The News finally had put him in the
spotlight of mainstream journalism.

I was asking him to give it all up.

"Jack, you can always find another job," I told him in that call.

He asked for a night to think about it. The next day, he called
and told me he was ready to quit and to hold a press conference
condemning the Tribune Co. actions.

A few days later, at a strike rally, Newfield read his resignation
as thousands of union supporters cheered.

Within a week, he had found another job.

In some journalism circles, they say Newfield crossed a different
kind of line at times, getting too cozy with some politicians,
and no doubt he did.

But for 40 years he churned out investigative pieces, hard-hitting
columns, books, even television documentaries on the life of this
great city, and few reporters ever did it better or with more impact.


4) The cost of Christmas
£30bn: The amount Britons will spend celebrating
Christmas this year
Compiled by Cahal Milmo
24 December 2004

The cost of Christmas

Why they wish it could be Christmas every day

Matthew Norman: Let's all celebrate Festivus this year

Raj Persaud: Stress, suicide and spending time with the family

John Bell: At Christmas we can dream and imagine how the
future should be

Leading article: Festive cheer


£4.2bn: The amount Britons spent on cosmetics this Christmas

£4.14bn: Britain's aid budget for the developing world in 2004

£813: Average spending per adult on celebrating Christmas
(£55 less than last year)

£50: The per capita annual income in Ethiopia

£20m: Amount made by Mark Tilden, British robot expert
who invented Robosapien, this year's hit toy

£20m: Amount nations of sub-Saharan Africa are paying in
debt to developed world every 16 hours


7,000: Average calories consumed by Britons on Christmas Day

780: Minutes running needed to burn off 7,000 calories

7: Number of days a child refugee in Darfur could survive
on 7,000 calories

£12: Average cost per head in UK of Christmas lunch

£12: Cost of a month's supply of grain for a family in
drought-hit Malawi

30,525: Number of miles your Christmas dinner will have
travelled to reach your table - vegetables alone are likely to
have come 15,800 miles

4: Miles walked daily by families in developing world
in search of water


5m: Britons will suffer a stomach upset over festive season

2.1m: People in developing world killed this year by
diarrhoeal disease


244,000: Homes in Britain likely to be burgled over festive season

75,058: Britons spending Christmas in prison

4.2%: Rise in murder rate over Christmas


83 sq km: Amount of wrapping paper used (enough to
cover 33 Hyde Parks)

3,000,000: Tons of extra rubbish generated - enough to
fill 120m wheelie bins

(c) 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd


5) Ten more years?
Senior MPs warn British troops will be in Iraq for a decade,
as Blair in Baghdad proclaims: 'We are not a nation of quitters'
By Donald Macintyre in Baghdad and Colin Brown
22 December 2004

Ten more years?

Amid the screaming, soldiers use their lunch tables as stretchers

French journalists released after 124 days in captivity

Johann Hari: Why are we inflicting this discredited market
fundamentalism on Iraq?

Tony Blair flew into Iraq yesterday, promising democracy. But,
outside the ring of security that escorted him, another day of
gruesome violence was unfolding - including a rocket attack on
a US base in Mosul that claimed at least 24 lives.

And, against a backdrop of continuing carnage, The Independent
has learned a cross-party group of MPs has returned from Iraq
convinced British troops may have to be deployed there for at
least another 10 years.

Unlike the Prime Minister, the Commons Defence Select Committee
was unable to visit Baghdad because the security situation was
too dangerous.

One senior member of the committee said: "It will take 10 to
15 years at least [before troops can be fully withdrawn]. It is
another Cyprus. The Iraqis just cannot cope with the security
situation and won't be able to for years."

As Mr Blair was proclaiming Britain would stay the course,
a bloody illustration of the dangers encountered by US and
British troops was playing out in the northern city of Mosul.

At about noon yesterday, insurgents hit a dining hall tent at
a US base, killing at least two dozen US and Iraqi soldiers and
contractors and injuring 60. Amid the screaming and smoke
that followed, quick-thinking soldiers turned their lunch
tables upside down, placed the wounded on them and carried
them to the car park.

At a press conference with the Iraqi interim Prime Minister,
Iyad Allawi, Mr Blair declared that Britain was not a "nation
of quitters". He was speaking after becoming the first foreign
head of government to visit Iraq since the installation of the
interim government in June, and the first British premier to
go to Baghdad since Winston Churchill.

Mr Blair said that he would not be deterred by the recent and
lethal wave of suicide bombings. He declared: "What I feel is
that the danger people are facing is coming from the insurgents
who are trying to destroy the possibility of the country having
democracy. Where do we stand in that fight? On the side of

Asked how he felt about his entry under maximum security,
20 months after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Mr Blair acknowledged:
"Security is very heavy. You can feel the sense of danger,
people live in here.''

But he added: "What I feel more than anything else is coming
from the terrorists trying to stop this country becoming
a democracy.''

Congratulating Mr Allawi, United Nations personnel and other
international staff for working towards next month's elections,
Mr Blair added: "I just feel that people should understand how
precious what is being created here is.''

He added: "Whatever people feel about the conflict, we British
are not a nation of quitters. What is obvious to me is the Iraqi
people are not going to quit on the task either. They are going
to see it through.''

Officially, the Government has continued to raise hopes that
normality is returning to Iraq with the clear implication that
after the UN mandate runs out with more elections in December
next year, the foreign troops may start to be withdrawn.

But MPs who have visited Iraqsay such hopes are wildly optimistic.
Mike Gapes, a Labour MP on the committee, used a pre-Christmas
debate in the Commons yesterday to warn it could "take years"
before British troops could be withdrawn, in spite of the progress
he claimed he saw in Iraq.

Mr Gapes said: "My assessment is just as in Kosovo and Bosnia,
we are not talking about a commitment of one or two years, but
several years. We have to honestly say that we started this business
and we have to see it through."

A Tory member of the committee, Richard Ottaway, said: "There
will need to be a continuing commitment from foreign forces for
10 years at least." An anti-war Labour MP Alice Mahon said:
"I don't think there is any hiding place from this. The Prime
Minister is there today but there is bloody chaos in Iraq."

Later, on a visit to the Shaiba army base in Basra the Prime
Minister climbed on a table to tell about 1,000 assembled British
troops: "A big thank you to you all. I know you are going to be
away from your family and loved ones over Christmas. I am sorry
about that but, my God, it's a job worth doing.'' Mr Blair added
that all the troops could be "very proud of what you are doing''.

(c) 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd


6) A System of Injustice
America Locked Up
December 21, 2004

At the same time that the Black Communities have been scattered
throughout this land as gentrification of the cities proceeds.)

A System of Injustice
America Locked Up

While enjoying Christmas, good food and drink with family and friends
in the warmth and comfort of your home, take a moment to remember
the falsely imprisoned. Think about how your own family would handle
the grief, because wrongful imprisonment can happen to you.

In a just published book, "Thinking About Crime,
Michael Tonry, a distinguished American law professor and director
of Cambridge University's Institute of Criminology, reports that the
US has the highest percentage of its population in prison than any
country on earth. The US incarceration rate is as much as 12 times
higher than that of European countries.

Unless you believe that Americans are more criminally inclined than
other humans, what can explain the US incarceration rate being so
far outside the international mainstream? I can think of the
following reasons:

(1) In order to prove that they are "tough on crime," politicians
have criminalized behavior that is legal elsewhere.

(2) Many innocent Americans are in jail.

There is enormous evidence backing up both reasons.

Professor Tonry notes that during the past three decades the
number of Americans in prison has increased 700%. Imprisonment
has far outstripped the growth in the population. Subtracting
children and the elderly, one in eighty Americans of prison
eligible age is locked up.

America's privatized prisons have to be fed with inmates in order
to maintain their profitability. Prosecutors need high conviction
rates to justify their budgets and to build their careers. Taken
together these two facts create powerful incentives to put people
away regardless of crime, innocence or guilt.

Consider the case of Charles Thomas Sell as recently told by Carolyn
Tuft of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and by Phyllis Schlafly on
TownHall (Dec. 13). Mr. Sell, a dentist, has been locked up for
almost 8 years without a trial. Allegedly, Sell is guilty of Medicare
fraud, but with no evidence or witnesses against him, the virtuous,
just, democratic, moral US government tortured Mr. Sell in an
effort to make him confess. Now they can't bring him to trial where
he will talk. So Mr. Sell is kept locked up under the pretense that
his unwillingness to admit his guilt is evidence that he is mentally

Schlafly asks the correct question: "Is there no accountability for
this type of government misconduct?" The answer is NO. Mr. Sell
might as well be in Stalin's Gulag or in the hands of the Waffen SS
or US captors at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. No one will do anything
about the crime that the US government has committed
against Mr. Sell.

No one will do anything to help William R. Strong, Jr., another victim
of our heartless injustice system. Strong has been in a Virginia prison
for a decade on false charges of "wife rape." Mr. Strong has been
trying to get a DNA test, confident that the semen in the perk test
is not his but that of the lover of his unfaithful wife. But since Strong
was convicted prior to the advent of DNA testing, prosecutors argue
that he has no right to the evidence.

Another innocent victim of "Virginia justice" is Chris Gaynor, who
my investigations indicate was framed by a corrupt prosecutor
with the connivance of a corrupt judge, who intimidated Gaynor's
witnesses by jailing one of them. Only liars were permitted on the
witness stand. I brought the facts to light in the newspapers at
the time, but the Arlington, Virginia, criminal injustice system did
not let facts interfere with its show trial.

Government routinely breaks the laws. So says Judge Andrew P.
Napolitano in the current issue of Cato Policy Report and in his
book, "Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government
Breaks Its Own Laws." Judge Napolitano reports on cases of torture,
psychological abuse, and frame-ups of innocents that he discovered
as the presiding judge. Any American naive enough to trust the
police and prosecutors should read what Napolitano has to say.

Torture has become routine in American prisons. The goal of the
torturers is guilty pleas and false testimony against innocent
defendants. The torturers succeed. Napolitano reports that "fewer
than 3 percent of federal indictments were tried; virtually all the
rest of those charged pled guilty."

Does anyone seriously believe that the police are so efficient
that 97 out of 100 people indicted are guilty?!

The cherished code, "you are innocent until proven guilty," no
longer holds in America. You are guilty when charged. You will
be tortured or abused and threatened with more charges until
you agree to a plea bargain.

Diane Lori Kleiman is an attorney who has worked in a district
attorney's office and for the Treasury Department's Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. She says prosecutors have little
concern with real crimes, preferring to target high-profile individuals
in order to garner headlines and create a political career for

Martha Steward is a victim of prosecutorial ambition as was Michael
Milken, whose false imprisonment created a political career for
Rudy Giuliani.

Kleiman says that prosecutors look for high-profile targets.
"It isn't necessarily an issue of right and wrong. It's an issue
of taking the case to trial and getting the publicity. That makes
your career."

The Martha Stewart case, Kleiman says, "is the first time in history
where they charged an individual with false statements, without
her signing the statement or without a tape recording that she
even made the statement. And not under oath." Kleiman is referring
to US history, not Soviet or Nazi history, histories that our criminal
injustice system now mimics.

The US criminal justice system is bereft of justice and accountability.
It only serves the ambitions of prosecutors. In America, criminal
"justice" operates like a Stalin-era street sweep in which hapless
citizens instantly became "enemies of the people" simply by
being arrested.

Paul Craig Roberts is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions
, a
book which documents the destruction of the legal principles that
protect the innocent.


[Col. Writ. 12/5/04] Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
"The medium is the massage." -- Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980)

Everyday, when we watch the day's news, listen to the hourly
update, or read the nearest scandal sheet, we are being managed
by the nation's powerful media machines.

Some of us, who believe we are well-informed, will doubtless
dispute that claim, and point, perhaps, to the number of papers
we read, or the number of news shows we watch, as proof that
we consume a wide range of news, and therefore are able to
escape the claws of the news managers.

Perhaps they are right. Let us see. I'll bet that it is rare
for most of us to see, or hear, or read of the continuing Iraq
War, as an "occupation." We also rarely hear about Iraqi
fighters against this occupation as anything but "terrorists",
or perhaps, "insurgents."

Indeed, the very words, "Iraq War" are rarely used, at
least in the present tense, for, according to the bought-and-sold
voices in the corporate press, the war *is* over, for hasn't
the Grand Lord Emperor, George W., so decreed it? And, lo
and behold, like the meanest serf in feudal Saxony, like
scribes to ancient princes, -- voila! -- so be it. It is fact.
It matters little that, if deaths, of either Iraqis or even
Americans count, the war, a guerrilla war, rages in a dozen
cities in Iraq.

The media manages us with words; like 'coalition forces',
like 'terrorist', and finally, and perhaps most fatally, like

Not since the Vietnam War have we seen such myth-
making by the media, for did they not then try to spin the
web of 'democracy' over the eyes and minds of millions?
Did they not then proffer assorted imported toadies to act
as presidents and prime ministers, that the Vietnamese
people regarded as strangers and, worse, traitors?

Only in the rare, underground and radical press could
those truths be spoken, for the major dailies, the three big
networks (back then, there were only three), and corporate
radio told the government's side of the story. And that
story was a lie.

Americans weren't told that it was a People's War; that
everyone from children in the villages, to prostitutes in the
hootches, to guerrillas in the jungles, to intellectuals in the
cities, was waging a war against the Yankee foreigners,
as they had waged against the French colonialists a
generation before, and the imperial Chinese centuries
before. They were people who fought for their own
country against the U.S., and those the U.S. imposed.
They were fighting for the right to decide for
themselves what kind of government would rule.

The Big Secret today is that, increasingly, the same
thing is happening in Iraq. It's not exactly the same.
It never is.

They know that the 'freedom' promised by the
Americans and the British isn't their freedom. And
they know, all too well, that Americans don't give a
hot damn about them; they have seen the pictures
from Abu Ghraib (and perhaps, hundreds more that the
U.S. government and American press hasn't allowed
you to see!). They know, in their guts, that the Anglo-
American objective is the black crude that courses
below their dry earth.

They know that the [Ahmed] Chalabis, and the
[Ghazi] Al-Yawers, have sold themselves, to the CIA or
M16, and are there to sell the wealth of the nation.
But most Americans don't know, and don't want to

'Americans are fighting for freedom.' Uh-huh...

It is their corporate, sell-out media that is
responsible for these public illusions. They have
betrayed their craft as journalists, and signed on, to
the highest bidder, like slaves, who sell their faces
and their words, to power.

Luckily, as in the '60s, there exists a growing
alternative media, that *is* performing its function,
and driving the big TV and cable networks, into
irrelevancy. May it only grow.

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal


[Col. Writ. 11/25/04] Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal

This is an apology, and a book review (or perhaps, an
apologetic book review). The apology, first off, because it
comes now, when it can have little real impact on the
world in which we live and struggle for life, for love, and
for our communal well-being.

The review is of the brief, yet excellently heartfelt
book by journalism professor Robert Jensen, entitled
*Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim our
Humanity* (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2004).

Jensen writes, with passion and clarity, as if the world
is on fire, and admits to a deep, pervasive feeling that
men rarely admit to: fear.

His is not the voice of the academic, stiff, stilted,
and removed from one's audience. He writes as if it
is his duty to awaken others to the unleashing of 'the
dogs of war' from the neocons in the White House:

...[B]ut I fear they have unleashed something
far worse than any war we have ever seen ...

But this feels different. This feels far worse.
This doesn't feel like a war. Let us name what
has happened: Not just a war, but a new insanity
has been unleashed upon the world. An unlimited
war that our leaders counsel could go on
indefinitely. A war against enemies in the
"shadowy networks", which means we will never
know when the shadowy enemy is vanquished.
This is quite possibly the policymakers' shot at the
final, and permanent, militarization of U.S. society.
Add to that the possibility of more terrorist attacks
from the fringe of the Arab and Muslim population
even more convinced of the depravity of Americans,
and the possibility of entire countries destabilized.
Are you scared? How can you not be? [p.xxi]

Jensen skillfully confronts many of the easy, facile lies
which are used to stifle public debate, and enforce conformity
on millions of Americans to accept, unquestionably, the
State's assertions about this eternal war. He warns of the
many traps that lie ahead of people who wanted to oppose
the war, but didn't want to seem, well -- unpatriotic:

I am against nationalism, and I am against patriotism.
They are both the dark side. It is time not simply to
redefine a kinder-and-gentler patriotism, but to sweep
away the notion and acknowledge it as morally,
politically, and intellectually bankrupt. It is time to
scrap patriotism.

More specifically, it is crucial to scrap patriotism in
today's empire, the United States, where patriotism
is not only a bad idea but literally a threat to the
survival of the planet. We should abandon patriotism
and strive to become more fully developed human
beings not with shallow allegiances to a nation but
rich and deep ties to humanity. [p. 39]

This is hard stuff. I apologize for not sharing it with you earlier.
Jensen's is a rare, and often unsung voice in what passes for
public discourse in America. He cites a rare quote from the
great labor leader and Socialist presidential candidate (while in
prison for opposing World War I), Eugene Debs for a kind of
internationalism that he clearly shares. Debs, in 1915, proclaimed:
"I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am
a citizen of the world." [p. 51] Jensen criticizes the loss of
democracy and the failure of the nation's universities to serve
as places where important social questions (like war and peace)
could truly be argued. He is also critical of the state's use of
the media machine, which issues, in his words, a form of
'corporate propaganda.'

He is both critical and surprisingly hopeful, for the mass
demonstrations of February and March, 2003, revealed a broad
base of anti-war spirit in the nation. Yet he is almost stunned
by the reported response of President Bush, who belittled the
demonstrations of millions of people as a mere "focus group."

Jensen, in his preface, replies:

A focus group? Perhaps the leader of the free world
was not aware that a focus group is a small number of
people who are brought together (and typically paid)
to evaluate a concept or a product. Focus groups
are primarily a tool of businesses, which uses them to
figure out how to sell things more effectively.
Politicians also occasionally use them, for the same
purpose. That's a bit different from a coordinated
gathering of millions of people who took to the streets
because they felt passionately about an issue of life
and death. As is so often the case, Bush's comment
demonstrated his ignorance and condescension, the
narrowness of his intellect and his lack of respect
for the people he allegedly serves. [p. xxi]

From the book: *Citizens of the Empire*, by Robert Jensen.

Better late than never.

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal


[Col. Writ. 11/28/04) Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal

We Americans claim to be a peace-loving people. We hate
bloodshed; we are opposed to violence. Yet we go into
spasms of joy over the possibility of projecting dynamite
bombs from flying machines upon helpless citizens ...
Yet our hearts swell with pride at the thought that America
is becoming the most powerful nation on earth, and that
it will eventually plant her iron foot on the necks of all
other nations. -- Emma Goldman, Radical Emigrant & Activist
"Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty" (1908) (Fr. Howard
Zinn & Anthony Arnove, *Voices of a People's History of
the United States* (N.Y.: Seven Stories Press, 2004), p. 271]

In light of the recent election, these coming four years promise to
be ones of continuing war. Nor will it end, no matter who is elected
in 2008. That's because the major allegedly opposition party, given
its deep corporate funding, will not dare to truly oppose the
Administration. They fear being targeted as 'unpatriotic,' or, even
worse, 'soft on terrorism.'

That's because, they know, at some level, that millions of Americans
rally to the martial strains of war. Even a 'bad war.' Even one based
upon false pretenses. Even one based upon that most ulterior of
motives -- greed.

Some thinkers believe that Americans were perhaps too stupid
to see past the Administration's smokescreen for the War on Iraq.
I am not so convinced. I think many people simply didn't care.

Where, as here, the 'enemy' were nonwhite Arabs, and mostly,
folks of an alien faith, it was easy to project them as fair game --
even if Iraq actually hadn't a thing to do with 9/11.

There's simply something about the allure of war, that writer
and social critic, Randolph Bourne, put quite nicely, in his 1918
essay, "The State":

War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in
motion throughout society those irresistible forces for
uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government
in coercing into obedience the minority groups and
individuals which lack the larger herd sense. The
machinery of government sets and enforces the drastic
penalties; the minorities are either intimidated into
silence, or brought slowly around by a subtle process
of persuasion which may seem really to be converting
them. [From Zinn & Arnove, *Voices of a People's
History ...*, p. 299.]

War, Bourne explains, creates such wrenching social divisions,
that fellow citizens often turn on fellow citizens, with one side,
usually the pro-war side, demeaning the other, antiwar side, as
traitors to the nation -- as if the nation is the political

While Bourne was describing the events around World War
I, his insights reflect our present, under the power of this
"wartime... uniformity of feeling" [p. 299].

Bourne tells us:

Not for any religious impulse could the American nation have
been expected to show such devotion en masse, such
sacrifice and labor. Certainly not for any secular good,
such as universal education or the subjugation of nature,
would it have poured forth its treasure and its life, or
would it have permitted such stern coercive measures to be
taken against it, such as conscripting its money and its men.
But for the sake of a war of offensive self-defense,
undertaken to support a difficult cause to the slogan of
"democracy," it would reach the highest level ever known
of collective effort .... [p. 300].

We are conditioned to, for the most part, quietly accept it;
to not rock the boat; to go with the flow.

Yet it's also true that Americans, by their millions, all across
the country, came out to oppose the war -- before a shot was

Perhaps it reflects a deep-seated distrust of political promises
and claims to justify wars. Certainly, American presidents
throughout the 20th century, have given people enough reason
to be skeptical. Perhaps they came from families where men
returned, in shattered bodies, or fractured minds, from glorious
wars past. Perhaps people simply knew that *this* war had
nothing to do with *that* war.

It is a good start, and would've been far better if people really
continued to protest, in great numbers, throughout the election
year. But, of course, this didn't happen. But people learn,
especially if the lesson is a painful one. Perhaps, in the future,
they will not stop, until they force the politicians to hear them.

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal


10) Martha Stewart's Christmas Message: Prison Reform Now!
Yoshie Furuhashi
Saturday, December 25, 2004

Martha Stewart, whose trial brought the problem of 18 USC 1001
to our attention, calls for prison reform in her Christmas message :
So many of the [1,200] women here in Alderson will never have the
joy and wellbeing that you and I experience. Many of them have been
here for years -- devoid of care, devoid of love, devoid of family.

"I beseech you all to think about these women -- to encourage the
American people to ask for reforms, both in sentencing guidelines,
in length of incarceration for nonviolent first-time offenders , and
for those involved in drug-taking . They would be much better
served in a true rehabilitation center than in prison where there is
no real help, no real programs to rehabilitate, no programs to educate,
no way to be prepared for life "out there" where each person will
ultimately find herself, many with no skills and no preparation for

Stewart's opinion is shared by many. A poll conducted by Peter D.
Hart Research Associates, Inc. shows that public attitudes toward
criminal justice have changed dramatically: "In 1994, . . . 48% favored
addressing the causes of crime and 42% preferred the punitive
approach. . . . The public now favors dealing with the roots of crime
over strict sentencing by a two to one margin, 65% to 32% "
(emphasis added, Changing Public Attitudes toward the Criminal
Justice System ,February 2002 ). What is most heartening is that
rehabilitation and reentry programs have surprisingly broad-based

Americans strongly favor rehabilitation and reentry programs over
incapacitation as the best method of ensuring public safety. Nearly
two-thirds of all Americans (66%) agree that the best way to reduce
crime is to rehabilitate prisoners by requiring education and job
training so they have the tools to turn away from a life of crime,
while just one in three (28%) believe that keeping criminals off the
streets through long prison sentences would be the more effective

This idea has broad-based support, with solid majorities of whites
(63% / 31%), fundamentalist Protestants (55% / 36%), and Republicans
(55% / 38%) supporting rehabilitation over incapacitation as the best
way to reduce crime. Interestingly, the 23% of Americans who report
that they or a close family member have been the victim of a violent
crime endorse rehabilitation even more strongly than the general
public, by a decisive 73% to 21% margin . (emphasis added,
February 2002 )
Perhaps, Stewart's call for prison reform won the hearts and minds
of many incarcerated women and their families, and she found
herself in their prayers:

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., among the biggest U.S.
targets of "short selling" last month, rallied amid optimism that
the company can rebound from its namesake's jail term and return
to profitability.

Shares of the media and housewares company rose 43 percent
during the past six weeks in New York Stock Exchange composite
trading and reached $30.05, a four-year high, on Dec. 15.

Thirty-one percent of the New York-based company's shares
available for trading were sold short, or borrowed and sold to
profit from lower prices, as of Nov. 9. The figure was in the top
5 percent for U.S.-listed companies. (Laure Edwards, "Martha
Stewart Living's Shares Gain, Thwarting 'Short Sellers,'", December 21, 2004)

Let's make sure that no prisoner will be sold short and that all
prisoners -- especially incarcerated women, more than 70 percent
of whom are nonviolent offenders and almost all of whom are
classified as "low risk" (Vincent Schiraldi and Judith Greene,
"Cutting Prison Costs is Tempting in Times of Fiscal Crisis,"
San Diego Union-Tribune,February 27, 2002 ) -- will be able
to rebound more strongly than Stewart's company did.
#posted by Yoshie : 11:10 AM


11) An Open Letter from Martha Stewart
This is a personal statement from Martha Stewart.
It is not issued by or on behalf of Martha Stewart Living
Omnimedia, Inc.

Dear Friends,

When one is incarcerated with 1,200 other inmates, it is hard to be
selfish at Christmas -- hard to think of Christmases past and
Christmases future -- that I know will be as they always were for
me -- beautiful! So many of the women here in Alderson will never
have the joy and wellbeing that you and I experience. Many of them
have been here for years -- devoid of care, devoid of love, devoid
of family.

I beseech you all to think about these women -- to encourage the
American people to ask for reforms, both in sentencing guidelines,
in length of incarceration for nonviolent first-time offenders, and for
those involved in drug-taking. They would be much better served in
a true rehabilitation center than in prison where there is no real help,
no real programs to rehabilitate, no programs to educate, no way to
be prepared for life "out there" where each person will ultimately find
herself, many with no skills and no preparation for living.

I am fine, really. I look forward to being home, to getting back to my
valuable work, to creating, cooking, and making television. I have had
time to think, time to write, time to exercise, time to not eat the bad
food, and time to walk and contemplate the future. I've had my work
here too. Cleaning has been my job - washing, scrubbing, sweeping,
vacuuming, raking leaves, and much more. But like everyone else
here, I would rather be doing all of this in my own home, and not
here -- away from family and friends.

I want to thank you again, and again, for your support and
encouragement. You have been so terrific to me and to everyone
who stood by me. I appreciate everything you have done, your
emails, your letters, and your kind, kind words.
Happy holidays,

Martha Stewart

P.S. I thought you might be interested in the brief my lawyers
filed with the Court this afternoon. (The brief can be found at
the link


12) Big Farms Reap Two Harvests With Subsidies a Bumper Crop
December 26, 2004

GURLEY, Neb. - The roadside sign welcoming people into this state
reads: "Nebraska, the Good Life." And for farmers closing out their
books at the end of a year when they earned more money than at
any time in the history of American agriculture, it certainly looks
like happy days.

But at a time when big harvests and record farm income should
mean that Champagne corks are popping across the prairie, the
prosperity has brought with it the kind of nervousness seen in
headlines like the one that ran in The Omaha World-Herald in
early December: "Income boom has farmers on edge."

For despite the fact that farm income has doubled in two years,
federal subsidies have also gone up nearly 40 percent over the
same period - projected at $15.7 billion this year, and $130 billion
over the last nine years. And that bounty is drawing fire from
people who say that at this moment of farm prosperity, the
nation's subsidy system has never made less sense.

Even those deeply steeped in the system acknowledge it seems
counterintuitive. "I struggle with the same question: how the hell
can you have such high government payments if farmers had such
a great year?" said Keith Collins, the chief economist for the
Agriculture Department.

The answer lies in the quirks of the federal farm subsidy system
as well as in the way savvy farmers sell their crops. Mr. Collins
said farmers use the peculiar world of agriculture market timing
to get both high commodity prices and high subsidies.

"The biggest reason is with record crops, prices have fallen," he
said. "And farmers are taking advantage of that."

A farmer can sell his crop early at a high price, say, in a futures
contract, and still collect a subsidy check after the harvest from
the government if prices are down over all. The money is not tied
to what the farmer actually received for his crop. The farmer does
not even have to sell the crop to get the check, only prove that
the market has dropped below a certain set rate.

"For those who can milk the system, it's been a great year," said
Kent Miller, whose German great-grandparents were pioneers near
this tiny town. Mr. Miller is a small operator who says he barely
made a profit this year on his 3,000 acres of wheat and millet.

Still, while Mr. Miller is a critic of the system, he is not forgoing
aid. Here in Cheyenne County, in the wind-raked western edge
of Nebraska, the fields are slumbering for the winter. Most of the
harvest is in. Mr. Miller was one of the farmers going into the
federal agricultural office to register for fresh checks from recent
swings in the market.

"I just signed up for new government payments today," Mr. Miller
said, standing inside the federal agriculture office for this county.
He described the subsidies as little help for ailing family farmers.
"It's a Band-Aid on a large wound."

Farm groups say the subsidies provide for a stable food supply,
and ensure that major sectors of American agriculture will be
competitive on the global market.

"When people ask me what the justification for this is, I point
out that in nearly every country in the world you find government
involved in the food supply," said Bob Young, an economist at the
American Farm Bureau Federation, the powerful trade group for
major agricultural producers.

But because nearly 70 percent of the subsidies go to the top
10 percent of agricultural producers, the recent prosperity is
not seen or felt among many small to medium-size growers
who keep the struggling counties of the Great Plains alive.

Though some retailers in places like Iowa and Kansas say that
the boost in farm income promises a good Christmas season,
merchants here say they are not feeling any uptick. All around
western Nebraska, in places like Chappell or Lorenzo, storefronts
are boarded and the merchants who remain complain of the
difficulties of surviving.

Even though Cheyenne County is one of the few bright spots
in the economic desert of the rural Plains, its recent job boom
has nothing to do with agriculture. A major outdoor goods
company, Cabela's, has its world headquarters in Sidney, and
its giant retail store is a draw off of Interstate 80.

"It's been real slow, and usually December is a good month for
us," said Brian Thacker, who sells new trucks and cars in Sidney,
the biggest town in the county. But he said farmers complain
about not having enough money even in good years.

"If it's raining, they complain; if the wind is blowing too much,
they complain," Mr. Thacker said. "It just seems like they're
never happy."

Ed Miller, who owns a family feed and seed store in Sidney that
caters to small farmers, said his business was not up despite
the increase in farm income because most of the big corporate
farms that are doing particularly well do not buy from the local
seed dealers.

So it is not surprising that the current subsidy system is drawing
home-grown criticism from people like Senator Chuck Hagel,
Republican of Nebraska, who says it is only widening the gap
between large and smaller farmers, while not helping rural

The subsidies have also drawn criticism from farmers who grow
fruits, vegetables and nuts - nearly half of American agriculture
- but have nothing like the elaborate safety net in place for corn,
cattle, wheat and hog producers.

"We don't get payments, and we don't want them," said Tom
Nassif, president of the Western Growers Association, which
represents farmers in the nation's biggest agricultural state,
California. "We believe the marketplace should decide who
stays and who goes. And we certainly shouldn't be paying
people not to grow."

Farm production has doubled over the last 50 years, while the
number of farms has fallen by two-thirds. Economists say
about 150,000 of America's 2.1 million farms produce
70 percent of the major food crops. But only certain crops -
wheat, corn, cotton, soybeans and sunflowers among them -
qualify for subsidies.

Every subsidy payment in the country can be found on a Web
site put together by the Environmental Working Group, which
advocates an overhaul of the farm payment system. The site
has become a must-read for farmers, and receives about
a million hits a day, the group says.

According to those records, which are supplied by the
Agriculture Department, Mr. Miller, the small wheat and
millet farmer, received $18,449 in subsidies last year,
and a total of $189,254 over the last nine years.

His neighbor down the road, a wheat farmer named Ronald
Jessen, was paid $424,387 over the last nine years, according
to the database. Mr. Jessen's father, Raymond, got $485,096
in government money, and his brother, Michael Jessen, got
$356,769. They are among the 10 biggest recipients of wheat
subsidies here in Cheyenne County, which is the state's top
wheat county.

Over all, Nebraska got $7.5 billion in government farm payments
over the last nine years.

The Jessen family wheat farm, despite getting more than
$1 million in subsidies in that time, is not a gold mine, Ronald
Jessen said in an interview. "You've got to look at all the expenses,"
he said. "A new combine can cost $200,000. When I do my taxes,
the crop breaks even. My profit is what I get from the government."

Still, Mr. Jessen said he was not proud to be harvesting so much
from taxpayers.

"Most farmers will tell you they would rather get paid for what's
in the elevator rather than from the government," he said.

Other farmers and some critics say that corporations, extended
families and partnerships are taking advantage of a system that
has little relationship to the ebbs and flows of food supply, and
rewards them most in times like now, when farmers should
seemingly be able to get by without government help.

"It's shocking the extent to which taxpayers subsidize this select
group of people whether they're having a good year or bad," said
Ken Cook, director of the Environmental Working Group. "I call
them the red ink states."

Any farm entity - often a corporation - can collect up to $360,000
per year. Some of the biggest checks are direct payments to
farmers who can show a "historic pattern" of having grown one
of the big commodity crops. In a system that supporters say is
intended to ensure economic stability from year to year, farmers
do not actually have to grow the crop to get the money. For other
payments, a farmer is required to show involvement helping to
run or manage the operation.

Mr. Miller, who is struggling to run his family farm on his own,
says that big farms will line their subsidy payroll with family
members who have minimal involvement.

"Typically, you get 10 relatives who all get the payments, but
maybe for 6 of them, the only time they come out to the farm
is for Christmas," Mr. Miller said.

While the big farms are having record years, much of rural
America is continuing to decline.

Senator Hagel voted against the 2002 farm bill that is the
framework for the current subsidy system. At the time, he
said, "these lopsided payments encourage and subsidize
overproduction" and would "only widen the disparity gaps
between large and small farmers."

In a hearing last August, Mr. Hagel said the Great Plains was
in a continued downward spiral, even with record farm income.

"Half the rural counties in America lost population in the 2000
census," Senator Hagel said in the hearing. "And three out of four
rural counties experienced below-average economic growth,
despite the record level of farm subsidies."

The highest single year for subsidies was 2000, when farmers
got $22 billion in payments. But their income was only
$47 billion that year. This year, with farm income at $73 billion,
is the first year when farmers set a record for earnings, while
subsidies were still among the highest in recent years.

This record year raises the question of what would happen to
American agriculture if government stopped making such large
payments. Mr. Collins, the chief economist at the Agriculture
Department, said it was possible that farmers would produce
the same amount of food in a pure free market.

Some farmers say they could go cold turkey, and make it on
their own. Others say they would go under. But the thing many
agree on is that working the land, even in good times, is not
something they would recommend to their children.

"Out here, the joke is that anyone who tries to get their kid
to go into farming is encouraging a form of child abuse,"
Mr. Miller said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times


13) Affirmative Action, Cuban Style
By Fitzhugh Mullan, M.D.
New England Journal of Medicine
Volume 351:2680-2682 December 23, 2004 Number 26

(Sent by David McReynolds
What an irony that poor Cuba is training doctors for rich America,
engaging in affirmative action on our behalf, and - while blockaded
by U.S. ships and sanctions - spending its meager treasure to improve
the health of U.S. citizens.)

Affirmative Action, Cuban Style

by Fitzhugh Mullan, M.D.

"I feel as if I'm standing on the backs of all my ancestors. This is a
huge opportunity for me," Teresa Glover, a 27-year-old medical student,
told me during a recent visit to her medical school. "Nobody in my family
has ever had the chance to be a doctor." Glover's mother is a teacher, and
her father a dispatcher for the New York subway system. Her background is a
mix of African American, Barbadian, and Cherokee. She graduated from the
State University of New York at Plattsburgh. "I wanted to be a doctor, but
I wasn't sure how to get into medicine. I had decent grades, but I didn't
have any money, and even applying to medical school cost a lot."

This young woman from the Bronx may be helping to rectify the
long-standing problem of insufficient diversity in the medical profession
in the United States. Twenty-five percent of the U.S. population is black,
Hispanic, or Native American, whereas only 6.1 percent of the nation's
physicians come from these backgrounds.1 Students from these minority
groups simply don't get into medical school as often as their majority
peers, which results in a scarcity of minority physicians. This inequity
translates into suffering and death, as documented by the Institute of
Medicine.2 Poorer health outcomes in minority populations have been linked
to lack of access to care, lower rates of therapeutic procedures, and
language barriers. Since physicians from minority groups practice
disproportionately in minority communities, they are an important part of
the solution to the health-disparities quandary.

In her third year, Glover is negotiating the classic passage from the
laboratory to the clinic. But her school isn't in the United States. She is
enrolled at the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM, which is its
Spanish acronym) in Havana - a school sponsored by the Cuban government and
dedicated to training doctors to treat the poor of the Western hemisphere
and Africa. Twenty-seven countries and 60 ethnic groups are represented
among ELAM's 8000 students.

Glover's mother heard about ELAM from her congressman, Representative
José Serrano (D-N.Y.). "Mom calls me. 'I have news. There's a chance for
you to go to medical school.' She waits for it to sink in. 'You'd get a
full scholarship.' She waits again. 'But it's in Cuba.' That didn't faze me
a bit. What an opportunity!"

The genesis of Glover's opportunity dates to June 2000, when a group from
the Congressional Black Caucus visited Cuban president Fidel Castro.
Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) described huge areas in his
district where there were no doctors, and Castro responded with an offer of
full scholarships for U.S. citizens to study at ELAM. Later that year,
Castro spoke at the Riverside Church in New York, reiterating the offer and
committing 500 slots to U.S. students who would pledge to practice in poor
U.S. communities.

That day, 26-year-old Eduardo Medina was at his parents' house in New
York, listening to Castro's speech on the radio. "Castro announces that
Cuba has started a new medical school and has invited students from all
over Latin America to come, train, and return to treat the poor in their
countries. Then he starts quoting figures about poor communities in the
U.S. 'We'll be more than happy to educate American medical students,' he
says, 'if they'll commit to going home to take care of the poor.' The place
went nuts. I'm standing in my basement saying, 'Yes! Yes! Yes!'"

Medina was raised in Brooklyn and Queens, the child of a Colombian father
and a mother of Puerto Rican, Jewish, and Irish descent - both
public-school teachers who pushed their children to work hard in school.
"When I was little, they sent me to a summer enrichment program in
Manhattan," recalls Medina. "I would travel on the subway every day with
this huge book bag. I was young and it was hot. But I was excited." The
work paid off, and Medina won partial scholarships to a boarding school and
to Wesleyan University. "There weren't many students of color at either
private school, particularly in the sciences," he says. "Culturally,
economically, ideologically, it was a real culture clash for me, but the
education was good."

Medina was found to have diabetes when he was 12 years old and spent a
week in the hospital. "When I saw what the doctors could do for me, I knew
I wanted to be a doctor. In college, I spent a year in Ecuador, and I knew
I wanted to practice community medicine." But medicine wasn't going to come
easily. Medina had a mediocre grade or two in science courses, a middling
score on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and $45,000 in student
debts. He worked as a research assistant to buy himself time to retake the
MCAT and organize his medical-school campaign. After hearing Castro, Medina
applied to ELAM and happily grabbed the chance to attend. "I didn't know if
I'd get into U.S. schools, and if I did, I had no idea how I was going to

There are 88 U.S. students at ELAM, 85 percent of them members of
minority groups and 73 percent of them women. Recruitment and screening are
handled by the Interreligous Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO),
a New York-based interfaith organization. Applicants are required to have a
high-school diploma and at least two years of premedical courses, to be
from poor communities, and to make a commitment to return to those
communities. Students who don't speak Spanish start early with intensive
language instruction. Glover and Medina get home about once a year. They
report that living conditions are spare and English textbooks hard to come
by, but they are well taken care of and the education is rigorous.

The Bush administration's restrictions on travel to Cuba have been a
thorn in the side of the program from the beginning. Since the Cuban
government pays the students' room, board, tuition, and a stipend, the ban
was not initially applied to them. But the administration's further
attempts this summer to curtail Cuban travel threatened the students and
sent their families scrambling for political help. Representatives Barbara
Lee (D-Calif.) and Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) led a campaign of protest, and
27 members of Congress signed a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell
asking that the ELAM students be exempted from the ban. In August, the
administration relented and granted the students permission to remain in

The Cuban health care system in which these students are working is
exceptional for a poor country and represents an important political
accomplishment of the Castro government. Since 1959, Cuba has invested
heavily in health care and now has twice as many physicians per capita as
the United States and health indicators on a par with those in the most
developed nations - despite the U.S. embargo that severely reduces the
availability of medications and medical technology.3,4 This success clearly
plays well at home and has enabled Cuba to send physicians abroad to Cold
War hot spots such as Nicaragua and Angola. Yet Cuba has also sent
thousands of physicians to work in some of the world's poorest countries.
Since 1998, 7150 Cuban doctors have worked in 27 countries - on a
proportional basis this is the equivalent of the United States sending
175,000 physicians abroad.5 In the same spirit, ELAM trains young people
from these countries and sends them home to practice medicine. Although
these programs make political points for Cuba, they also represent an
extraordinary humanitarian contribution to the world's poor populations.

The U.S. students face a hurdle that their classmates in Cuba do not. To
obtain residency positions in the United States and uphold their side of
the deal with Castro, U.S. students will have to pass two steps of the
United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) and the new Clinical Skills
Assessment test. The first large group of ELAM students will take Step 1
later this year, and the results will be critical to the future of the

The ELAM invitation is not limited to minority students, although the
emphasis on coming from and returning to poor communities has naturally
selected students of color. Physicians from minority groups accounted for
only 3 percent of U.S. doctors during the middle years of the 20th century.
After the civil-rights movement, the number of minority medical students
increased steadily, rising to 11.6 percent of medical school graduates in
1998. Schools used scholarship money, academic enrichment programs, and
special admissions criteria to increase minority enrollment. In recent
years, such initiatives have flagged - victims of court decisions opposing
affirmative action, continued escalation of medical-school tuition, and a
supply of minority students that, in the judgment of some medical
educators, is tapped out. Today, roughly 11 percent of graduating medical
students are members of minority groups.1

Glover, Medina, and their schoolmates have gotten into and mastered
strong academic programs despite their disadvantaged backgrounds. However,
half of all applicants to U.S. medical schools are rejected. By the
unforgiving standards of the application process, a C in a science class or
a so-so MCAT score dooms an applicant. Castro has removed the financial
barriers and bet on motivation to overcome any educational liabilities that
students bring with them to ELAM.

Which brings us back to Castro's gambit. Why is he reaching out to U.S.
students? What an irony that poor Cuba is training doctors for rich
America, engaging in affirmative action on our behalf, and - while
blockaded by U.S. ships and sanctions - spending its meager treasure to
improve the health of U.S. citizens. Whether one considers this a cunning
move by one of history's great chess players or an extraordinary gesture of
civic generosity - or a bit of both - it should encourage us to reexamine
our stalled efforts to achieve greater racial and ethnic parity in American
medicine. If Castro can find diamonds in our rough, we can too.

Marxism mailing list


14) 4/28/05 Mass Protest Of Injured
and Disabled Workers Called In

Resolution of the San Francisco Labor Council for a State Wide Protest
of Injured and Disabled Workers On Workers Memorial Day April 28, 2005.

Whereas, injured and disabled workers are under growing attack in their
efforts to receive healthcare for their injuries and their disabilities

Whereas, some workers injured on the job have committed suicide as a
result of not receiving medication for their injuries and,

Whereas, the right to a healthy and safe environment and the enforcement
of CAL-OSHA regulations is also threatened by the proposed
"restructuring" proposals of the State Administration and,

Whereas, the right to have healthcare for injured workers and disabled
workers in California is a basic human right of all working people and,

Whereas, the state administration is seeking to undermine the protection
of injured and disabled workers by the complete deregulation of workers'
compensation and total subservience to the insurance industry and,

Whereas, the corporate media has ignored and censored the stories of
injured and disabled workers who face the loss of their healthcare and
the destruction of their lives and the lives of their families and,

Whereas, the need to unite all injured and disabled workers in
California is critical in order to meet the challenge that they face and,

Whereas, the issue of healthcare is a right for all working people union
and non-union in California and,

Whereas, the collapse of the privately run healthcare system and the
escalating costs of healthcare insurance premiums threatens the rights
of healthcare to all working people,

Therefore be it resolved this body support the call by the California
Injured Workers Coalition, UAPD/AFSCME, The Chelsie Group and other
injured workers organizations and health and safety groups as well as
the San Francisco Labor Council to support the statewide protest on
Workers Memorial Day April 28, 2005 at the capital in Sacramento for the
defense of all injured and disabled workers and,

This body will support the demand healthcare for all working people by
the implementation of Single Payer and,

Finally, this union or council will circulate this resolution to all
California Labor Councils and Building and Trades Councils and all other
affiliated bodies for concurrence and will seek to reach and support all
injured and disabled workers so they can join this historic action to
protect their rights.

This resolution is endorsed and supported by the following groups and

California Injured Workers Coalition, Inc.
San Francisco Labor Council
The Chelsie Group
Labor Action Coalition
Million Worker March
Labor Video Project
FACE Intel.
Dr. June Fisher
Dr. Larry Rose

The next meeting of the N. California organizing
committee is Saturday
January 8, 2005 at 9:30 AM at the Blue Muse
Restaurant at 409 Gough near
Hayes St. in San Francisco.

For further information call:
California Injured Workers Coalition (415)928-9343
Labor Video Project (415)282-1908
Northbay Area Contact (415)332-9675
Sacramento Area Contact
Action for World Liberation Everyday!
Tel: (213)403-0131


Please Donate to ActionLA!
Send check pay to:
1013 Mission St. #6
South Pasadena CA 91030
(All donations are tax deductible)

Please join our ActionLA Listserv
go to:
or send e-mail to:

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


15) A scientific inquiry into the existence of Santa Claus.
(This was sent to me by my thirteen-year-old grandson,

No known species of reindeer can fly. But there are 300,000 species
of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are
insects and germs, this does not completely rule out flying reindeer
which only Santa has ever seen.

There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world.
But since Santa doesn't (appear to) handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish
and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total -
378 million according to Population Reference Bureau.

At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8
million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.

Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different
time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east
to west (which seems logical).
This works out to 822.6 visits per second.

This is to say that for each Christian household with good children,
Santa has 1/1000th of a second to:
hop out of the sleigh,
jump down the chimney,
fill the stockings,
distribute the remaining presents under the tree,
eat whatever snacks have been left,
get back up the chimney,
get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly
distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be
false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we
are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of
75-1/2 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us
must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.

This means that Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second,
3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the
fastest man- made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves
at a poky 27.4 miles per second. A conventional reindeer can run,
tops, 15 miles per hour.

The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element.
Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized
lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not
counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight.

On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds.
Even granting that "flying reindeer" could pull ten times the normal
amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine.

We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even
counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Again, for
comparison - this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.

353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous
air resistance - this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion
as a spacecraft reentering the earth's atmosphere.

The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of
energy. Per second. Each. In short, they will burst into flame
almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them,
and create deafening sonic booms in their wake.

The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths
of a second.

Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.09
times greater than gravity.

A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be
pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

In conclusion - If Santa ever did deliver presents on Christmas
Eve, he's dead now.


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