Thursday, April 29, 2004

Peace in the Streets

By Tom Hayden, AlterNet
April 28, 2004

12,000 young people, nearly all black, brown and male, have died in LA's gang wars since 1980. Across the nation, the numbers are hard to get, but it's safe to estimate a body count of 25,000.

full article:


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Friday, April 23, 2004

Diebold, the e-voting company and GOP supporters, may face criminal charges in California.



Greg Palast on "Fixing the Fixed Voting Machines"


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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

A Stank Ass No More!

"Patients with intestinal gas conditions . . .can go out to public places without fear of emitting embarrassing odors."
Dr. Rae Seitz M.D.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Don't be fooled - Bush is gutting overtime
via Moveon.org

Today, the Bush administration is formally introducing new rules that will make
millions of people ineligible for overtime protection when they work more than 40 hours per week.

This change has been in the works for months, and thousands of MoveOn members have called on Congress to oppose the new rules. Congress has responded -- bipartisan majorities in both houses have voted against rolling back overtime.

Bush is feeling the heat, but his corporate-CEO backers are determined to fatten their profits by shortchanging working people, so the White House is pushing ahead with the new rules, accompanied by an aggressive spin campaign. Already, stories in the AP [1] and the Washington Post [2] have suggested that Bush had a last-minute change of heart, and acted to extend overtime protections to more people, rather than gutting them.

Don't be fooled.

The rules introduced today would in fact take away overtime pay from workers earning as little as $23,660.- a year. This would be a huge pay cut for potentially millions of working Americans and their families.

It's urgent that we get the real story out.

The media have it wrong -- Bush is cutting overtime pay

The Bush Administration has said that only workers earning less than $23,660 a year would be guaranteed the right to overtime pay. Everybody earning more than that amount could be caught up in several other changes to eligibility rules that take away overtime pay. For nine months, the Administration has been fighting tooth and nail to kill legislation approved by both houses of Congress that would do nothing more than prohibit overtime cuts. The Senate and House already voted once last year to prohibit overtime cuts, but the White House strong-armed Congress to prevent that overtime protection from becoming law.

Low-income workers

The Bush Administration has been loudly exaggerating the benefits of a helpful but woefully inadequate change that would expand overtime coverage for some workers. This group is extremely small because most workers who might be helped don't need the help. They are already guaranteed overtime pay through other criteria, based on their job responsibilities.

Overtime cuts kill jobs

The Bush overtime cuts will hurt the economy. By taking away workers’ overtime rights, President Bush is discouraging job creation. He is encouraging businesses to overwork their existing staff (for no extra pay) rather than hire new workers. The overtime statute was originally intended to encourage job creation.

Overtime cuts are pay cuts

The new Bush overtime regulation is a pay cut for American workers. When workers are stripped of their overtime rights, their employers can now force them to work overtime for no extra pay. Overtime pay makes up one-fourth of the weekly earnings of workers who earn overtime, an average of $161 per week.

Bush has a credibility gap on overtime.

Over the past year, Administration officials have repeatedly misrepresented their proposal and its effects on workers. The Department of Labor (DOL) routinely claimed that only 644,000 people would lose overtime protection, when its own economic analysis concluded that an additional 1.5 to 2.7 million people would be affected. We also know that DOL inflated the number of low-income workers who would benefit, and in fact DOL admits it has no way of knowing how many would benefit, if any.



Here are two early articles that fall for the Bush administration's spin:

[1] Associated Press

[2] Washington Post

Can you help, by sending a letter to the editor of your newspaper today? Writing a letter takes only a few minutes, and we've made it easy with tips and talking points, below.

Please take a few minutes to send a letter to your editor today.

Thank you, for all you do.


- Peter Schurman
Tuesday, April 20, 2004


I. Tips on how to get your letter published:

- Your own words, written from the heart, are always best.

- Brevity is the soul of wit.

- The key to publication is to pounce on something specific you've
seen in the newspaper -- an article like the AP's, falling for the
Bush spin, is perfect.

- Be sure to include your name and address, and especially your phone
number when submitting your letter. Editors need to call you to
verify authorship before they can print your letter. They don't
print your phone number.

- Your newspaper's letters page should give you an email address or
fax number to use, or you can try this website:


- Please let us know when you've sent your letter by going to:


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Monday, April 19, 2004

Saudi Envoy Promised Bush a Drop in Oil Prices Ahead of Election

WASHINGTON - Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S. has promised President George W. Bush the Saudis will reduce oil prices before this November's election to help the U.S. economy, according to Bob Woodward, author of a new book about the Iraq war.

full story:
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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

UNC Sikh student called "Bin Laden," assaulted, but no hate crime charged as of yet?

3 teens held in Sikh assault

Apr 2, 2004 : 8:00 pm ET

CHAPEL HILL -- A Sikh student at UNC claims he and his friend were beaten by a trio of teenagers on Franklin Street after one of them called him Osama bin Laden.

Chapel Hill police charged each of the teens with assault inflicting serious injury and simple assault after the student identified them shortly after the assault Sunday morning. Although police categorized the assault as a hate crime, they did not charge the teens with ethnic intimidation -- the state statute that covers hate crimes.

Chapel Hill Police Chief Gregg Jarvies said the charge of ethnic intimidation was not filed because it was not clear whether the assault occurred because of the victim's race, clothing or religion.

The charge of ethnic intimidation would have to be provable, Jarvies said. "You may believe one thing, but we can't prove it," he said.

Gagandeep Bindra, who has a short beard, brown skin and wears a Patka, a scarf wrapped around his hair, said that it is not uncommon for people to call him and others with brown skin Osama bin Laden or a terrorist.

"This is like a normal occurrence after 9/11," Bindra said Friday. "Every night when I go out to Franklin Street, someone shouts out bin Laden."

Bindra's parents emigrated from India, and Bindra attended middle school and high school in Raleigh. He is a senior economics major at UNC.

People who have brown skin get harassed all the time, he said. "They don't know I'm from India and I'm a Sikh. They think anybody brown is Middle Eastern. Anybody brown is a terrorist."

The way people treated him after 9/11 changed, he said, but he expected he would be safe in a college community.

"[The assault was] just shocking at a university campus," Bindra said. "Franklin Street is supposedly the heart of Chapel Hill, and you basically get beaten. That's literally what happened, we were beaten by these guys."

The incident began shortly after midnight Sunday as Bindra, 24, and a couple of friends were walking from East Franklin Street to a restaurant on West Franklin Street, the student recounted.

As the group of friends walked along West Franklin Street near the intersection of Church Street, they crossed paths with three young men, he said. "Basically, they shouted bin Laden to me," he said. "I wasn't too happy."

Bindra said he replied, "Your mother."

One of the young men began asking him, "What did you say? What did you say?" Bindra said, but he and his friends kept walking west on Franklin Street. At the intersection of Mallette Street on the north side of Franklin Street, the teens caught up to them and one of them, who was about six feet tall, pushed his face one inch from his face, Bindra said.

"He was trying to look at me to see if there was some sort of fear," he said. "I didn't really care that he was so close to my face, so he just threw a punch."

The blow landed on Bindra's jaw, he said.

One of Bindra's friends, Sean Michnowicz, told the other two teens not to join the fight, and they began to hit him, Bindra said. "They started beating him, and they all started beating me. It was gang mentality at that point.

"After they got done with me, I saw Sean. He was down, and there was blood pouring from his face," Bindra said. "He has hemophilia, and blood was gushing out from a laceration."

The attack was unprovoked, Bindra said. "I didn't hit them. Sean didn't hit them," he said.

After the trio of teens left, heading east on Franklin Street, a female friend called 911 on her cellphone asking for an ambulance, and the dispatcher asked for a description of the men who assaulted them, Bindra said. She gave it to the dispatcher.

One officer came to help Bindra and Michnowicz, while other officers went looking for the suspects. They found them not far away, and Bindra identified them.

Michnowicz was transported to UNC Hospitals, where he received four stitches for the cut. Under doctor's advice, he stayed the night at the hospital for observation because of the hemophilia and because he has a history of seizures, Bindra said.

Police charged Kenneth Antwaine Perry, 19, of 2534 Gemena Road, A, Chapel Hill, with misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury, simple assault and also served a warrant taken out earlier in the week for second-degree trespassing. A magistrate released him on a written promise to appear in court.

Police also charged Perry's younger brother, Frederick Perry, 17, of the same address, with misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury and simple assault. A magistrate released him on a written promise to appear in court.

Police charged Antonio Burnette, 18, of 311 Lindsay St., A, Chapel Hill, with misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury and simple assault. After searching him and allegedly discovering drugs in his pants, police also charged him with possession of marijuana for having 2.5 grams of marijuana and possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine for having 12 dosage units of crack cocaine, a police report said.

The magistrate set his bond at $5,000, and he was transported to the Orange County Jail.

For national crime reporting purposes, Chapel Hill police classified the incident as an "anti-multiracial group hate crime," said Jane Cousins of the Chapel Hill Police.

A charge called ethnic intimidation, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor, allows police to charge a a person, who because of race, color, religion, nationality or country of origin assaults another or damages or defaces their property, according to "North Carolina Crimes, A Guidebook on the Elements of Crime," by UNC professor Robert L. Farb.

Gregg Jarvies said it was not clear whether the assault occurred because of Bindra's race, clothing or religion or because he had made the comment, "Your mother," to the teenagers.

"It leaves a question why did the guy throw a punch," Jarvies said. "Did he throw the punch because he was a Sikh or did he throw it because he insulted his mother?"

Since Jan. 1, 2003, Chapel Hill police have classified 11 incidents as hate crimes for national crime reporting statistics, Cousins said. "They've ranged from insults to aggravated assaults. We've had fights and vandalism, and the targets have been white, black, Hispanic, multi-racial groups and Jewish," she said. "None this year have been for sexual orientation."

The last time the department charged someone with ethnic intimidation was in October 2003, when police charged a man for yelling racial slurs as he assaulted another man, Cousins said.

In February 2002, police charged ethnic intimidation after a man used a racial slur against a woman during an argument in which he assaulted her, Cousins said.

http://www.herald-sun.com/orange/10-466062.html target=_blank

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Monday, April 12, 2004

Radiohead article/interview via Australian Paper:


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Monday, April 05, 2004

AIDS Fears Grow for Black Women via NY Times


HOUSTON — Once a week, the five friends, all members of the Abundant Life Cathedral here, get together to eat sushi, sip wine and talk. But one recent afternoon, the women chose a different activity: They went to see "Not a Day Goes By," a musical about black men on the "down low" who, while not calling themselves gay or bisexual, have sex with other men, often behind the backs of their wives and girlfriends.

To these women, it was a subject of increasing urgency.

"Once I found out how prevalent the down low was in our community, I was very afraid," said one of the women, Tracy Scott, a 37-year-old government relations consultant.

Her friend Misha King, 35, said she needed to get as much information as she could, as quickly as she could.

"I've been on field trips to the gay bars and have seen guys that look like men you would date," Ms. King said. "I treat every man as a bisexual because I don't want to end up as the sister with H.I.V."

In the past, concern about black women and AIDS was mainly focused on those who had used drugs or had had sex with users. But increasingly, women like Ms. Scott and her friends have begun to worry, too.

In government studies of 29 states, a black woman was 23 times more likely to be infected with AIDS than was a white woman, and black women accounted for 71.8 percent of new H.I.V. cases in women from 1999 to 2002. Though new cases of H.I.V. among black women have been stable in the past few years, the number of those who have been infected through heterosexual sex has risen.

In 2001, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit group focusing on health issues, an estimated 67 percent of black women with AIDS contracted the virus through heterosexual sex, compared with 58 percent four years earlier. Black women accounted for half of all H.I.V. infections acquired through heterosexual sex, in men or women, from 1999 to 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Though heterosexual transmission has risen for all women, researchers say a black woman has a greater chance of coming into contact with the virus when she has sex with another black person because, compared with the general population, there is a higher rate of H.I.V. among black Americans.

Recent studies suggest that 30 percent of all black bisexual men may be infected with H.I.V., and up to 90 percent of those men do not know they are infected. Researchers for the Centers for Disease Control have referred to these men as a "bridge" to infection from gay men to heterosexual women.

In February, health officials identified a fast-spreading outbreak of infections among 84 men, primarily black students at 37 colleges in North Carolina. The majority were infected through sex with other men, but a third reported that they had had sex with men and women.

"What we learned from the research we did with college men here is the potential for H.I.V. to enter the mainstream population of the black community," said Dr. Peter Leone, medical director of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services H.I.V. prevention unit and a co-author of a study of the 84 men.

"This is a big change and may be a defining moment," Dr. Leone added. "I don't mean to sound like Chicken Little, but if we don't react to this very quickly and aggressively, it'll be like the 80's all over again. Instead of gay white men, though, we'll be dealing with large numbers of young black men and their female partners."

The fear of H.I.V. among blacks is not new, and the down low has been part of the black lexicon at least since the mid-1990's, when E. Lynn Harris's novels about bisexual black men who lead double lives first appeared on best-seller lists.

AIDS prevention efforts have generally focused on drug users and men who have sex with men. But the North Carolina findings made it clear that H.I.V. had the potential to spread to a wider circle of blacks. In particular, the new research has alarmed black women. Now in online chat rooms, at book clubs, on radio call-in shows and in whispered conversations with friends, many are trying to piece together information to figure out if men, whether one-night stands or their husbands, may have secret lives putting them at risk.

"H.I.V./AIDS is a disease of opportunity, not socioeconomics," said Phill Wilson, executive director of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles. "The research out of North Carolina reveals that among black folks, no matter who you are or who you think you are, you are not safe from H.I.V."

Dr. Robert S. Janssen, director of the Centers for Disease Control's divisions of H.I.V./AIDS prevention, warned that evidence was lacking about what was driving infection in black women.

"Yes, the risk of contracting H.I.V. is highest in the African-American community and there's no question black women are at higher risk compared to other women, but there's still a lot we don't understand," Dr. Janssen said.

"However, we are concerned enough to tell women of all socioeconomic groups to ask their partners about their sero status and if they are having sex with men," he said, referring to H.I.V. status.

A tangle of factors heightens the risk for black women.

No one knows for sure how much the spread of the AIDS virus among blacks can be attributed to the behavior of bisexual men. Some reports have suggested that black men are more likely to keep their bisexuality a secret for a variety of reasons, but that, too, is hard to quantify.

Still, researchers say it comes down to a numbers game: blacks make up roughly 12 percent of the nation's population but in 2002 accounted for 42 percent of people living with AIDS and more than half of all new infections. Blacks tend to have sexual relations with other blacks, experts say, which works to confine the virus within the African-American "sexual network."

"A high prevalence of infection in the pool of potential partners can spread sexually transmitted infections rapidly within the ethnic group and keep it there," said Dr. Adaora A. Adimora, an infectious disease physician and associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.

She and others cite several other factors. Perhaps the most vexing may be the shortage of black men as potential partners. This gender gap, experts say, may lead black women to make unsafe sexual decisions and raise their risk of infection.

"Large numbers of black men are in prison, or unemployed, or dead, so there is simply a smaller pool of available partners to choose from," said Dr. Gail E. Wyatt, a psychiatry professor and an associate director of the University of California, Los Angeles, AIDS Institute. "So while women are quite concerned about being infected with H.I.V., the threat of death is not enough to persuade black women to protect themselves if it means being alone, childless and with less income."

Though women outnumber men in the general population, the gap is wider among blacks. According to 2002 census data, there are 12.6 million black women 21 or older, compared with 9.9 million black men. On college campuses, the numbers are particularly lopsided: in 2000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than one million black women were enrolled in degree-granting institutions, compared with 635,000 black men.

"Many of the women on campus are panic-stricken because of the feeling of scarcity," said Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall, professor of women's studies and English at Spelman College in Atlanta. "This shortage of desirable partners creates a sense of desperation. I see a lot of problematic sexual decision-making among black women across class and age lines."

The shortage of available black men can contribute to the spread of H.I.V. in other ways.

"Because of the lack of marriageable black men, marriage rates have dropped among African-Americans," said Dr. Edward O. Laumann, a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago and an editor of the new book "The Sexual Organization of the City." In 2002, according to the census, 37.7 percent of black men 15 or older were married and living with their spouses, compared with 58.5 percent of white men. Among women 15 or older, 29.2 percent of blacks were married and living with their spouses, compared with 54.3 percent of whites.

"When marriage rates are low, there is a higher likelihood of concurrence — the pattern of having more than one partner at the same time," Dr. Laumann said. "The less educated and the higher educated are more likely to be in these kinds of fragile relationships, which can facilitate the spread of sexually transmitted diseases."

Dr. Adimora said the research did not suggest greater promiscuity among blacks. "No one is saying that black people don't care about long-term, stable relationships," she said. "But the lower number of economically viable black men destabilizes marriage and long-term partnering. One pattern is the man who has sex with one girlfriend, goes back to a previous girlfriend and then returns to the new one. This kind of pattern can increase H.I.V. spread."

Vanessa Johnson said she wished she had been more careful a decade ago. She did not learn that her boyfriend and the father of her son was bisexual until he contracted an AIDS-related illness. She learned she had H.I.V. in 1990, right after she graduated from law school.

"I understood that there was a possibility he was seeing other people, but I was willing to overlook it," said Ms. Johnson, now 46, who is deputy director of the Capital District African American Coalition on AIDS in Albany.

Ms. Johnson said that she forgave her boyfriend, who died in 1994.

"His infection most likely came from having sex with another man," she said, "but he was afraid to say that."

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