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Here's an update from Critical Art Ensemble Defense Fund:
"FBI Harassment of Artist and Scientist Continues: Dr. Steven Kurtz, Associate Professor of Art at the University of Buffalo, was arraigned and charged in Federal District Court in Buffalo today on four counts of mail and wire fraud (United States Criminal Code, Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341 and 1343), which each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison... [His co-defendant was charged later]
The defendants were charged not with bioterrorism, the investigative reason that was state on the original FBI subpoenas, but with a glorified version of 'petty larceny,' in the words of Kurtz attorney Paul Cambria. The laws under which the indictments were obtained are normally used against those defrauding others of money or property, as in telemarketing schemes. Historically, these laws have been used when the government could not prove other criminal charges. Under the arraignment conditions, Kurtz is subject to travel restrictions, random and scheduled visits from a probation officer, and periodic drug tests.
A great number of people are wondering why this seemingly absurd case is still being pursued... Preeminent science magazine Nature has called on scientists to support Kurtz. 'As with the prosecution of some scientists in recent years, it seems that government lawyers are singling Kurtz out as a warning to the broader artistic community.... Art and science are forms of human enquiry that can be illuminating and controversial, and the freedom of both must be preserved as part of a healthy democracy--as must a sense of proportion.'
Some believe that the entire case is merely a face-saving tactic by the FBI: 'Recently, federal agents arrested University at Buffalo art professor Steven Kurtz, implying he was a bioterrorist. Now, officials have downgraded that to a mail fraud charge.... The FBI always gets its man, even if it has to change its charge. Jaywalkers, beware' (Buffalo News)."
The Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie-a-thon will be held on July 9th, 2004 from noon to midnight, as a benefit fundraiser for Ladyfest Bay Area 2004. Organizers and others who dread our governor will get together for 12 hours to try and see how many movies 'o "Arny" they can stomach. Help us make The Governator Movie-a-thon a success:* Take part in the torture! Call up your friends, loved ones, co-workers and roommates to sponsor you. At The Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie-a-thon there'll be snacks, potluck, and hours of hyper-masculine movies starring the Governor himself. Such box office hits as The Terminator trilogy, Total Recall, Conan the Barbarian, Twins, and the ever classic Junior will be shown. We are however hoping to avoid any actual appearances by the blockbuster superstar himself. You can get involved by emailing email@example.com There you can let us know you want to be a party to the masochism and we can send you a form to solicit donations. We'll email you later to let you know where to come to appreciate this champion of state and screen.
* Sponsor one of our participants! Consider donating a dollar to ten an hour, or a lump sum of $20-200. Ladyfest is a registered non-profit so your donations are tax-deductible.
* Donate video, video rentals, or "Arny" paraphernalia! Do you own any of the Gov's movies? Got stacks of "Arny" masks waiting to be worn? Got any commentary on Arnold's recent deficiencies in office? Bring'em on down to liven the atmosphere and give participants something to work for.
More information on this event and the entire 2004 Ladyfest Bay Area (July 29-August 1 in San Francisco) at here!
Two of the subpoenaed artists--Beatriz da Costa and Steve Barnes--are members of the internationally-acclaimed Critical Art Ensemble (CAE), an artists' collective that produces artwork to educate the public about the politics of biotechnology. They were served the subpoenas by federal agents who tailed them to an art show at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art... The artists involved are at a loss to explain the increasingly bizarre case. "I have no idea why they're continuing (to investigate)," said Beatriz da Costa, one of those subpoenaed. "It was shocking that this investigation was ever launched. That it is continuing is positively frightening, and shows how vulnerable the PATRIOT Act has made freedom of speech in this country." Da Costa is an art professor at the University of California at Irvine.
According to the subpoenas, the FBI is seeking charges under Section 175 of the US Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, which has been expanded by the USA PATRIOT Act. As expanded, this law prohibits the possession of "any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system" without the justification of "prophylactic, protective, bona fide research, or other peaceful purpose." Even under the expanded powers of the USA PATRIOT Act, it is difficult to understand how anyone could view CAE's art as anything other than a "peaceful purpose." The equipment seized by the FBI consisted mainly of CAE's most recent project, a mobile DNA extraction laboratory to test store-bought food for possible contamination by genetically modified grains and organisms; such equipment can be found in any university's basic biology lab and even in many high schools (see Lab Tour for more details).
Here's the names of the political prisoners, who have been released but are still under threat of conviction for exercising their rights of free speech and assembly:John Doe G-1082, John Doe G-0110, John Doe G-1098, John Doe G-0177, John Doe G-0147, John Doe G-0002, John Doe G-0176, John Doe G-0181, John Doe G-0197, and Jane Doe G-0112.
Updated information available at Atlanta Indy Media.
Number one:"66 (Unflattering) Things About Ronald Reagan" By David Corn, The Nation
Editor's Note: This list of "66 Things to Think about When Flying in to Reagan National Airport" appeared in the Nation on March 2, 1998 after the renaming of Washington National Airport after Ronald Reagan. As Corn says, "the piece remains relevant today, particularly as a cheat sheet for those who dare to point out the Reagan presidency was not all that glorious and was more nightmare in America than morning in America."
The firing of the air traffic controllers, winnable nuclear war, recallable nuclear missiles, trees that cause pollution, Elliott Abrams lying to Congress, ketchup as a vegetable, colluding with Guatemalan thugs, pardons for F.B.I. lawbreakers, voodoo economics, budget deficits, toasts to Ferdinand Marcos, public housing cutbacks, redbaiting the nuclear freeze movement, James Watt.
Getting cozy with Argentine fascist generals, tax credits for segregated schools, disinformation campaigns, "homeless by choice," Manuel Noriega, falling wages, the HUD scandal, air raids on Libya, "constructive engagement" with apartheid South Africa, United States Information Agency blacklists of liberal speakers, attacks on OSHA and workplace safety, the invasion of Grenada, assassination manuals, Nancy's astrologer.
Drug tests, lie detector tests, Fawn Hall, female appointees (8 percent), mining harbors, the S&L scandal, 239 dead U.S. troops in Beirut, Al Haig "in control," silence on AIDS, food-stamp reductions, Debategate, White House shredding, Jonas Savimbi, tax cuts for the rich, "mistakes were made."
Michael Deaver's conviction for influence peddling, Lyn Nofziger's conviction for influence peddling, Caspar Weinberger's five-count indictment, Ed Meese ("You don't have many suspects who are innocent of a crime"), Donald Regan (women don't "understand throw-weights"), education cuts, massacres in El Salvador.
"The bombing begins in five minutes," $640 Pentagon toilet seats, African-American judicial appointees (1.9 percent), Reader's Digest, C.I.A.-sponsored car-bombing in Lebanon (more than eighty civilians killed), 200 officials accused of wrongdoing, William Casey, Iran/contra. "Facts are stupid things," three-by-five cards, the MX missile, Bitburg, S.D.I., Robert Bork, naps, Teflon.
Number two:"Planet Reagan"
By William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t
Buffalo Bill'sdefunct who used to ride a watersmooth-silver stallion and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat Jesus he was a handsome man and what i want to know is how do you like your blueeyed boy Mister Death - e.e. cummings, "Buffalo Bill's Defunct"
Ronald Reagan is dead now, and everyone is being nice to him. In every aspect, this is appropriate. He was a husband and a father, a beloved member of a family, and he will be missed by those he was close to. His death was long, slow and agonizing because of the Alzheimer's Disease which ruined him, one drop of lucidity at a time. My grandmother died ten years ago almost to the day because of this disease, and this disease took ten years to do its dirty, filthy, wretched work on her.
The dignity and candor of Reagan's farewell letter to the American people was as magnificent a departure from public life as any that has been seen in our history, but the ugly truth of his illness was that he lived on, and on, and on. His family and friends watched as he faded from the world of the real, as the simple dignity afforded to all life collapsed like loose sand behind his ever more vacant eyes. Only those who have seen Alzheimer's Disease invade a mind can know the truth of this. It is a cursed way to die.
In this mourning space, however, there must be room made for the truth. Writer Edward Abbey once said, "The sneakiest form of literary subtlety, in a corrupt society, is to speak the plain truth. The critics will not understand you; the public will not believe you; your fellow writers will shake their heads." The truth is straightforward: Virtually every significant problem facing the American people today can be traced back to the policies and people that came from the Reagan administration. It is a laundry list of ills, woes and disasters that has all of us, once again, staring apocalypse in the eye. How can this be? The television says Ronald Reagan was one of the most beloved Presidents of the 20th century. He won two national elections, the second by a margin so overwhelming that all future landslides will be judged by the high-water mark he achieved against Walter Mondale. How can a man so universally respected have played a hand in the evils which corrupt our days?
The answer lies in the reality of the corrupt society Abbey spoke of. Our corruption is the absolute triumph of image over reality, of flash over substance, of the pervasive need within most Americans to believe in a happy-face version of the nation they call home, and to spurn the reality of our estate as unpatriotic. Ronald Reagan was, and will always be, the undisputed heavyweight champion of salesmen in this regard. Reagan was able, by virtue of his towering talents in this arena, to sell to the American people a flood of poisonous policies. He made Americans feel good about acting against their own best interests. He sold the American people a lemon, and they drive it to this day as if it was a Cadillac. It isn't the lies that kill us, but the myths, and Ronald Reagan was the greatest myth-maker we are ever likely to see. Mainstream media journalism today is a shameful joke because of Reagan's deregulation policies. Once upon a time, the Fairness Doctrine ensured that the information we receive - information vital to the ability of the people to govern in the manner intended - came from a wide variety of sources and perspectives. Reagan's policies annihilated the Fairness Doctrine, opening the door for a few mega-corporations to gather journalism unto themselves. Today, Reagan's old bosses at General Electric own three of the most-watched news channels. This company profits from every war we fight, but somehow is trusted to tell the truths of war. Thus, the myths are sold to us.
The deregulation policies of Ronald Reagan did not just deliver journalism to these massive corporations, but handed virtually every facet of our lives into the hands of this privileged few. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat are all tainted because Reagan battered down every environmental regulation he came across so corporations could improve their bottom line. Our leaders are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the corporations that were made all-powerful by Reagan's deregulation craze. The Savings and Loan scandal of Reagan's time, which cost the American people hundreds of billions of dollars, is but one example of Reagan's decision that the foxes would be fine guards in the henhouse.
Ronald Reagan believed in small government, despite the fact that he grew government massively during his time. Social programs which protected the weakest of our citizens were gutted by Reagan's policies, delivering millions into despair. Reagan was able to do this by caricaturing the "welfare queen," who punched out babies by the barnload, who drove the flashy car bought with your tax dollars, who refused to work because she didn't have to. This was a vicious, racist lie, one result of which was the decimation of a generation by crack cocaine. The urban poor were left to rot because Ronald Reagan believed in 'self-sufficiency.'
Because Ronald Reagan could not be bothered to fund research into 'gay cancer,' the AIDS virus was allowed to carve out a comfortable home in America. The aftershocks from this callous disregard for people whose homosexuality was deemed evil by religious conservatives cannot be overstated. Beyond the graves of those who died from a disease which was allowed to burn unchecked, there are generations of Americans today living with the subconscious idea that sex equals death.
The veneer of honor and respect painted across the legacy of Ronald Reagan is itself a myth of biblical proportions. The coverage proffered today of the Reagan legacy seldom mentions impropriety until the Iran/Contra scandal appears on the administration timeline. This sin of omission is vast. By the end of his term in office, some 138 Reagan administration officials had been convicted, indicted or investigated for misconduct and/or criminal activities.
Some of the names on this disgraceful roll-call: Oliver North, John Poindexter, Richard Secord, Casper Weinberger, Elliott Abrams, Robert C. McFarlane, Michael Deaver, E. Bob Wallach, James Watt, Alan D. Fiers, Clair George, Duane R. Clarridge, Anne Gorscuh Burford, Rita Lavelle, Richard Allen, Richard Beggs, Guy Flake, Louis Glutfrida, Edwin Gray, Max Hugel, Carlos Campbell, John Fedders, Arthur Hayes, J. Lynn Helms, Marjory Mecklenburg, Robert Nimmo, J. William Petro, Thomas C. Reed, Emanuel Savas, Charles Wick. Many of these names are lost to history, but more than a few of them are still with us today, 'rehabilitated' by the administration of George W. Bush.
Ronald Reagan actively supported the regimes of the worst people ever to walk the earth. Names like Marcos, Duarte, Rios Mont and Duvalier reek of blood and corruption, yet were embraced by the Reagan administration with passionate intensity. The ground of many nations is salted with the bones of those murdered by brutal rulers who called Reagan a friend. Who can forget his support of those in South Africa who believed apartheid was the proper way to run a civilized society?
One dictator in particular looms large across our landscape. Saddam Hussein was a creation of Ronald Reagan. The Reagan administration supported the Hussein regime despite his incredible record of atrocity. The Reagan administration gave Hussein intelligence information which helped the Iraqi military use their chemical weapons on the battlefield against Iran to great effect. The deadly bacterial agents sent to Iraq during the Reagan administration are a laundry list of horrors.
The Reagan administration sent an emissary named Donald Rumsfeld to Iraq to shake Saddam Hussein's hand and assure him that, despite public American condemnation of the use of those chemical weapons, the Reagan administration still considered him a welcome friend and ally. This happened while the Reagan administration was selling weapons to Iran, a nation notorious for its support of international terrorism, in secret and in violation of scores of laws.
Another name on Ronald Reagan's roll call is that of Osama bin Laden. The Reagan administration believed it a bully idea to organize an army of Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union. bin Laden became the spiritual leader of this action. Throughout the entirety of Reagan's term, bin Laden and his people were armed, funded and trained by the United States. Reagan helped teach Osama bin Laden the lesson he lives by today, that it is possible to bring a superpower to its knees. bin Laden believes this because he has done it once before, thanks to the dedicated help of Ronald Reagan.
In 1998, two American embassies in Africa were blasted into rubble by Osama bin Laden, who used the Semtex sent to Afghanistan by the Reagan administration to do the job. In 2001, Osama bin Laden thrust a dagger into the heart of the United States, using men who became skilled at the art of terrorism with the help of Ronald Reagan. Today, there are 827 American soldiers and over 10,000 civilians who have died in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a war that came to be because Reagan helped manufacture both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
How much of this can be truthfully laid at the feet of Ronald Reagan? It depends on who you ask. Those who worship Reagan see him as the man in charge, the man who defeated Soviet communism, the man whose vision and charisma made Americans feel good about themselves after Vietnam and the malaise of the 1970s. Those who despise Reagan see him as nothing more than a pitch-man for corporate raiders, the man who allowed greed to become a virtue, the man who smiled vapidly while allowing his officials to run the government for him.
In the final analysis, however, the legacy of Ronald Reagan - whether he had an active hand in its formulation, or was merely along for the ride - is beyond dispute. His famous question, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" is easy to answer. We are not better off than we were four years ago, or eight years ago, or twelve, or twenty. We are a badly damaged state, ruled today by a man who subsists off Reagan's most corrosive final gift to us all: It is the image that matters, and be damned to the truth.
Number three:"Killer, Coward, Con-Man, Good Riddance,Gipper... More Proof Only the Good Die Young"
By Greg Palast
You're not going to like this. You shouldn't speak ill of the dead. But in this case, someone's got to. Ronald Reagan was a conman. Reagan was a coward. Reagan was a killer.
In 1987, I found myself stuck in a crappy little town in Nicaragua named Chaguitillo. The people were kind enough, though hungry, except for one surly young man. His wife had just died of tuberculosis. People don't die of TB if they get some antibiotics. But Ronald Reagan, big hearted guy that he was, had put a lock-down embargo on medicine to Nicaragua because he didn't like the government that the people there had elected. Ronnie grinned and cracked jokes while the young woman's lungs filled up and she stopped breathing. Reagan flashed that B-movie grin while they buried the mother of three.
And when Hezbollah terrorists struck and murdered hundreds of American marines in their sleep in Lebanon, the TV warrior ran away like a whipped dog … then turned around and invaded Grenada. That little Club Med war was a murderous PR stunt so Ronnie could hold parades for gunning down Cubans building an airport.
I remember Nancy, a skull and crossbones prancing around in designer dresses, some of the "gifts" that flowed to the Reagans -- from hats to million-dollar homes -- from cronies well compensated with government loot. It used to be called bribery. And all the while, Grandpa grinned, the grandfather who bleated on about "family values" but didn't bother to see his own grandchildren.
The New York Times today, in its canned obit, wrote that Reagan projected, "faith in small town America" and "old-time values." "Values" my ass. It was union busting and a declaration of war on the poor and anyone who couldn't buy designer dresses. It was the New Meanness, bringing starvation back to America so that every millionaire could get another million. "Small town" values? From the movie star of the Pacific Palisades, the Malibu mogul? I want to throw up.
And all the while, in the White House basement, as his brain boiled away, his last conscious act was to condone a coup d'etat against our elected Congress. Reagan's Defense Secretary Casper the Ghost Weinberger with the crazed Colonel, Ollie North, plotted to give guns to the Monster of the Mideast, Ayatolla Khomeini.
Reagan's boys called Jimmy Carter a weanie and a wuss although Carter wouldn't give an inch to the Ayatolla. Reagan, with that film-fantasy tough-guy con in front of cameras, went begging like a coward cockroach to Khomeini pleading on bended knee for the release of our hostages. Ollie North flew into Iran with a birthday cake for the maniac mullah -- no kidding --in the shape of a key. The key to Ronnie's heart. Then the Reagan roaches mixed their cowardice with crime: taking cash from the hostage-takers to buy guns for the "contras" - the drug-runners of Nicaragua posing as freedom fighters.
I remember as a student in Berkeley the words screeching out of the bullhorn, "The Governor of the State of California, Ronald Reagan, hereby orders this demonstration to disperse" … and then came the teargas and the truncheons. And all the while, that fang-hiding grin from the Gipper.
In Chaguitillo, all night long, the farmers stayed awake to guard their kids from attack from Reagan's Contra terrorists. The farmers weren't even Sandinistas, those 'Commies' that our cracked-brained President told us were 'only a 48-hour drive from Texas.' What the hell would they want with Texas, anyway? Nevertheless, the farmers, and their families, were Ronnie's targets. In the deserted darkness of Chaguitillo, a TV blared. Weirdly, it was that third-rate gangster movie, "Brother Rat." Starring Ronald Reagan.
Well, my friends, you can rest easier tonight: the Rat is dead. Killer, coward, conman. Ronald Reagan, good-bye and good riddance.
More at Greg's site.
In other news, Eugene Ruggles, a poet and post-Beat North Beach activist died yesterday at the age of 68. Gene was known for his "deep image" verse and for organizing San Francisco poetry readings and benefits.
Born in Pontiac, Michigan, he came to San Francisco in the early 1960s and became a regular in North Beach bars and cafes. His work appeared in numerous literary journals, and his book (Lifeguard in the Snow) published in 1977 by the University of Pittsburg Press, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
The 35-year-old, who plays bass in a Clash tribute group called London Calling, had intended to text the lyrics - from the Clash song Tommy Gun - to singer Reg Shaw. Instead, he sent the message to the wrong number.... [Devine] said the officer had then produced a printout of the text message, which read: "How about this for Tommy Gun? OK - so let's agree about the price and make it one jet airliner for 10 prisoners."
He said he had then been asked to explain what the message meant, and described how the detective had looked "puzzled" when told the words were by the Clash. The officer seemed "a little embarrassed" when he left, Mr Devine added.
From The Guardian. This is either funny or distressing, depending on your outlook on life...
The painting, titled "The Abuse" by East Bay artist Guy Colwell, shows Pfc. Lynndie England and another soldier smiling gleefully as they look upon a trio of naked, hooded Iraqi prisoners who are hooked up to electrical wires. In the background, a third American soldier is escorting a Muslim woman in a dress into the torture chamber. The painting is black and white, except for American flag patches on the soldiers' uniforms, which appear to be splattered with blood.
A week ago, Haigh realized the nerve the painting had struck when she arrived at work to find the place egged and heaps of trash dumped at the gallery entrance. On her computer and voice mail were stinging messages calling her anti-American for showing the artwork. Even after she took the painting out of the front window, she received six threats against her life. The last straw was when a man spat at her.
"He came walking in with a fisherman's cap and a fatigue jacket on and slowly made his way along the wall, looking at the pictures," she said. "Then he put his fists on my desk, put his face close to mine and spat. It was a real big loogie spit -- it was not a tiny spit." As Haigh ran to the back of the gallery for some napkins, the man fled. Haigh has filed a police report on the incident.
All upcoming exhibitions, including a Winston Smith exhibit, have been cancelled, and unless there's significant community support this Saturday, Haigh will close her gallery permanently.
On Saturday May 29th, artist Colwell will bring a U-haul to the gallery to retrieve his artwork, and a number of the artist's supporters are expected to turn out. Please show up at 10AM to show support for dissident art and freedom of expression. Capobianco Gallery is at 1841 Powell in the heart of North Beach, San Francisco.
Portions of this AT news item are from the S.F. Examiner.
Journalist Mumia Abu Jamal was connected with MOVE in 1981 when he was arrested by the Philadelphia Police. One decent book to check out on this issue is "Attention MOVE! This is America!", by Margot Harry. Unfortunately, it is out of print, but is available on ABE.COM
From the petition language:"While we realize that the government has an obligation to protect our children, surely there needs to be a limit to what is regulated. Adults and parents are capable of making decisions about what to watch, read or listen to and are certainly capable of turning off or putting down anything that may offend them or their children."
05/05/04: Disney buckles to the Bushes over Michael Moore!
From Michael Moore:"Yesterday I was told that Disney, the studio that owns Miramax, has officially decided to prohibit our producer, Miramax, from distributing my new film, "Fahrenheit 911." The reason? According to today's (May 5) New York Times, it might "endanger" millions of dollars of tax breaks Disney receives from the state of Florida because the film will "anger" the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush."
Catch "Farenheit 911" at the Cannes Film Festival this summer or at your local art house soon. You can let Disney know what you think about this via Working Assets. They have this page where you can send an e-mail to Disney.
The $2 million settlement from the FBI is one of the largest ever. According to the San Francisco Chronicle article, "In 1995, the FBI paid $3.1 million to the family of Vicki Weaver, who was killed three years earlier at Ruby Ridge, Idaho. The family of Black Panther Fred Hampton, killed during a FBI raid in 1969, received $1.85 million..."
"The settlement stems from a civil suit Bari and Cherney filed over their arrest after a pipe bomb exploded in Bari's Subaru station wagon on Park Boulevard in Oakland on May 24, 1990. Bari, who was driving, suffered a crushed pelvis, and Cherney received cuts from the blast. The two, who were headed to a rally to mark the beginning of a campaign of protests called Redwood Summer, were arrested within hours, and their homes and vehicles were searched. Authorities then said they believed that Bari and Cherney had been carrying the bomb in her car and that it had detonated accidentally. Prosecutors later declined to file charges against the pair, citing insufficient evidence, and no other arrests have ever been made. Cherney and Bari later sued the FBI and Oakland police investigators, alleging false arrest, illegal search, slanderous statements and conspiracy. The suit said investigators focused on Bari and Cherney only as suspects and refused to consider the possibility they were victims chosen for their confrontational environmental activism. "
Congratulations, we only wish Judi was alive to enjoy the settlement. Perhaps the FBI can now try to find out who actually bombed the pair of Earth First activists instead of trying to blame the victims...