Breast Cancer and Environmental Toxins

What Corporations Don\’t Want You to Know

In July 1997, I was doing my monthly breast self-exam and I found a suspicious lump. I was 28 years old when I finally had the lump, which turned out to be breast cancer, surgically removed in January 1998. In October 1999 I was diagnosed with a local reoccurance of the breast cancer and in August 2000 the cancer metastasized to my bones. It took a long time to have the lump removed because I was so young that I had a hard time convincing doctors to diagnose the cancer. I had no risk factors for premenstrual breast cancer in my family. In fact, only 5-10 % of cases of breast cancer are purely hereditary, which leaves environmental factor, including lifestyle — obesity, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and exposure to toxins, radiation and hormones — as the cause of 90-95% of breast cancer cases. In 2000, one woman was diagnosed with breast cancer every three minutes.

Along with hereditary genes and exposure to agricultural chemicals and organochlorides (chemicals containing chloride), breast cancer has been linked to everything from wearing bras with under wire to an affluent lifestyle with a high fat diet. However, it is no coincidence that the rate of breast cancer has increased by 1% per year since 1940 and during the same period the production of synthetic chemicals has increased 350 times from 1940 to 1982. California uses 25% of the nation\’s pesticides and between 1991 and 1998 the use of carcinogenic pesticides increased by 127%. It is difficult to prove the guilt or innocence of a single chemical when humans are a crazy stew of chemicals. But reducing our exposure to as many cancer-causing chemicals as possible must be our goal.

I\’m convinced that my cancer and the cancer of millions of other people are caused by a political and economic system which value profits over our health, our right to know and our lives.

Because I do not have any of the hereditary and lifestyle factors associated with cancer, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and asked \”why me?\” the only reason I came up with was my exposure to environmental toxins as a child and teenager. As a lifeguard of an indoor swimming pool when I was 16, I spent so much time exposed to chlorine I no longer was able to smell it. A fireman at the time told me that meant I was probably beginning to experience brain damage from exposure. Chlorine is considered highly toxic and organochlorides can function as estrogen-mimicers which also disrupt hormone function in humans and animals.

I grew up in Southern California, where malathion was sprayed in the suburbs as well as agricultural areas to prevent the spread of the Mediterranean fly. While residents were informed that malathion was being sprayed in their neighborhoods, they only knew when this would happen by the sound of the approaching helicopter. City ordinances prohibiting the spraying were ignored by the state primarily because the agriculture industry is the most powerful lobby in California. Malathion is also a \”suspected\” (as defined by Federal regulations) endocrine disrupter, similar to DDT and dioxin, which disrupts hormone function in humans and wildlife.

I had to be diagnosed with breast cancer before I felt the urgency to find out this information, but I don\’t believe we should wait before we take stronger action, including pushing governing bodies to enforce the \”precautionary principle\” with respect to every human activity which effects the environment. The precautionary principle is defined as follows: \”When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.\”

The precautionary principle is based on the first part of the Hippocratic Oath — \”do no harm.\” It is already applied to the drug approval process. For example, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) didn\’t approve Thalidomide for use in the United States for pregnant women because of the precautionary principle. Its approval in other countries caused over 10,000 birth defects, although the risks were only \”suspected\” when these other countries approved its use.

For the past 10 years there have been efforts to extend the precautionary principle from food and drug regulations to environmental regulations. Unfortunately, as can be seen by the WTO\’s successful overturn of Europe\’s ban on hormone-treated beef, we have a long haul ahead.

Opposition to extending the precautionary principle comes, not surprisingly, from the chemical industry, which does not want to be responsible for the \”burden of proof.\” Jack Mongoven of the public relations firm Mongoven, Biscoe and Duchin has advised the chemical industry to \”mobilize science against the precautionary principle,\” saying the precautionary principle \”threatens the entire chemical industry.\” Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, Director of the American Council on Science and Health — an organization \”defending the achievements and benefits of responsible technology within America\’s free-enterprise system\” — claims \”advocates have recommended discarding a useful form of technology, for example pesticides or pharmaceuticals, even if there is just a hint of a problem. For example, there are those who have recommended that a basic, health-enhancing chemical like chlorine be banned because of questionable adverse effects on wildlife.\”

In 1978 Israel banned three organochlorine pesticides detected in milk and other dairy products which caused 12 types of cancer in 10 different strains of rats and mice. After the ban, breast cancer rates which had increased every year for 25 years, dropped nearly 8% for all age groups and more than a third for women ages 25 to 34 by 1986. The American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization supposedly established to eliminate cancer, sided with the Chlorine Institute and issued a joint statement against a proposed 1992 international phase out of the roughly 15,000 chlorinated compounds in use. Members of the pharmaceutical and chemical industry have sat on the board of ACS, and since 1982, ACS has insisted on unequivocal proof that a substance causes cancer in humans before taking a position on the substance\’s public health hazards.

There is no conclusive research proving that specific chemicals in the environment directly cause specific cancers. It is difficult to prove a direct correlation between exposure to a chemical and a specific disease in humans because we are not controlled experiments, we move around too much and are continuously exposing ourselves, either knowingly or unknowingly, to hazardous chemicals. Corporations use the inconclusiveness of scientific research to avoid regulation, and government conservatives to take no action while their palms are being greased. While not every chemical is dangerous, the burden should be on chemical companies to prove their products are safe.

Often,, corporations control both the scientific research process and the regulatory process over their own products. They control the media which defines for us what \”healthy\” is. And they produce cancer drug treatments as well as carcinogenic pesticides. Both our political-economic structure and health care system are focused on profit instead of people. These structures focus on the treatment of disease, a huge industry, rather than prevention of disease, which might hurt business. They fail to keep dangerous toxins from entering our environment and bodies in the first place.

I find it more than ironic that I am being treated with drugs, manufactured by corporations which also make agricultural products that are suspected carcinogens and hormone disrupters. It is amazing that for my treatment, medical products made from PVC plastic are used, which when incinerated in
East Oakland will pollute the environment with dioxins – hormone disrupters that can cause cancer. It is insulting that I am then told every October for \”Breast Cancer Awareness Month,\” which is funded by the aforementioned drug and pesticide producing and incinerating companies, that \”early detection is the best protection.\” Breast Cancer Awareness Month encourages women to use techniques and treatments owned by the same corporations!

I want to give a few examples of what we are up against because I often feel completely overwhelmed by the incestuousness of the government and business interest which are both treating and poisoning me.

The EPA recently declared dioxin to be a \”known\” human carcinogen. Yet, as Robert K. Musil, Ph.D, Executive Director of Physician for Social Responsibility (PSR) states, \”industries flooding our environment with dioxin have denied its dangers while this report has been held up for nine years.\” Sure enough, as soon as news of the EPA\’s change to the listing was leaked, New York restaurant owners and a medical device maker filed suit in federal court to overturn the finding, arguing they would suffer economic harm from the announcement, because people would avoid dioxin containing products such as plastic bag and food containers made from PVC, medical products such as plastic tubing and IV bags which release dioxins when incinerated, and foods such as meat and dairy. Dioxin is found in some herbicides and pesticides, but Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), a collaborative campaign of over 250 organizations for environmentally responsible health care, states that health care practices, especially medical waste incineration, are a leading source of dioxin and mercury emissions. Patients, such as myself, have urged my hospital, Alta Bates in Berkeley, to work with HCWH, so far to no avail.

Astra-Zeneca is the world\’s third-largest drug concern, valued at $67 billion, and manufactures tamoxifin, a successful breast cancer treatment. They provide me with my monthly dose of tamoxifin for free, which would otherwise cost me over $150, because my health insurance does not cover prescriptions. When Astra-Zeneca created \”Breast Cancer Awareness Month\” (BCAM) for October 1985 they were owned by Imperial Chemical Industries, a multibillion-dollar producer of pesticides, paper and plastics, a company sued by federal and state agencies in 1990 for dumping DDT and PCBs into Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors, near beaches where I spent every summer swimming as a child. Astra-Zeneca also: manufactures fungicides and herbicides, including the carcinogen acetochlor; owns the third-largest source of cancer-causing pollution in the U.S., a chemical plant in Perry, Ohio which released 53,000 pounds of recognized carcinogens into the air in 1996; holds a controlling interest in Salick Health Care Cancer Centers; and recommends use of tamoxifin for \”risk reduction\” in healthy women at high risk of developing breast cancer. It is no wonder that during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October you will be hard pressed to hear messages about real prevention — eradicating environmental toxins — and will hear more about the magic bullet that makes Astra-Zeneca money.

The federally funded National Cancer Institute\’s focuses on \”prevention research\” such as magic bullets like tamoxifin. It is no coincidence that NCI\’s senior executives work for pharmaceutical and chemical industries. For example, in 1990 the chairman of its advisory panel was Armand Hammer, who was also chairman of Occidental Petroleum. Occidental was responsible for the infamous toxic dump in New York, Love Canal.

When I realize the extent of destruction of both the planet and my body, and how deep lies the corruption of the government and industry, I wonder whether or not my actions as an individual are futile. However, I also believe action is an antidote for despair and I therefore have some suggestions. I specifically want to move beyond \”the Race for the Cure\” and focus on preventing cancer in future generations, taking Rachel Carson\’s words, which she wrote in Silent Spring while dying of breast cancer: \”It is a disservice to humanity to hold out the hope that the solution will come suddenly, in a single master stroke.\”

Call things by their real names. Breast Cancer Action is urging other cities to follow the lead of San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley to declare October \”Stop Cancer Where It Starts Month,\” acknowledging the impact of toxins in the environment and working to reduce them, on the grounds that we are already \”aware\” and do not need the breast cancer industry\’s \”National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.\” Toxic Links has taken this a step further in attempting to declare October \”Cancer Industry Awareness Month.\” They had a \”Cancer Industry Tour\” of San Francisco, which included street theater.

Use alternative methods to educate the public. Web sites, such as — which ranks top Bay Area polluters, locates them on a map and was originally an interactive art installation — and and Art and Revolution are examples of creative, direct action efforts to educate. On March 26 PBS will air \”Trade Secrets,\” a Bill Moyers investigative report on how industries have put our health and safety at risk. A coalition of groups are launching Coming Clean, a project aimed at cleaning up the chemical industry, which will work with groups across the country to organize local \”Trade Secrets\” viewing events. Growers, farm workers and citizens have the right to know associated hazards in all ingredients and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) urges the EPA to require pesticide manufacturers to fully disclose any adverse health or environmental impacts on their product labels. We also need to access this information easily and PAN\’s database of chemicals, accessible for free through the web, is an example of this.

Move beyond a politics of individualism and build coalitions with diverse communities. Individuals recycling, using less pesticide heavy products, such as cotton, and eating organic is fine, but a small piece of the pie. We are all interconnected and so are our politics. The environmental racism movement is building coalitions between environmental activists and the neighborhoods who suffer the health effects of chemical toxicity. Locally, Greenaction, Asian and Pacific Islanders for Reproductive Health, the Center for Environmental Health and others are demanding that Integrated Environmental Systems replace their medical waste incinerators in East Oakland with safer non-incineration technologies to better protect the health of the workers and residents.

Pressure the government to make structural changes. Science, regulatory bodies and the education system should serve the interests of citizens, not industries. Extending the precautionary principle from food and drug regulations to the environment is one necessary change. PAN points to structural causes, such as economic factors and institutional support for present practices, including the lack of research into alternatives and agricultural extension outreach, as the reason for the increased use of pesticides. The costs associated with farmers transitioning away from pesticide use are major economic deterrents, especially since there is no incentive — pesticide users and producers do not have to pay for environmental and health damage caused by the use of pesticides. PAN recommends mandating the use of pesticide reduction and changing the economic equation, including internalizing the full costs of pesticides, providing for growers to transition, and increasing research funding for alternative approaches to pest management.


Batt, Sharon and Liza Gross. \”Cancer, Inc.\” Sierra. Sept / Oct 1999.

Kegley, Susan, Ph.D., Stephen Orme, and Lars Neumeister. \”Hooked on Poison: Pesticide Use in California 1991-1998.\” Pesticide Action Network. Report by Californians for Pesticide Reform.

Love, Su
san M., M.D. with Karen Lindsey. Dr. Susan Love\’s Breast Book, Second Edition Fully Revised. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company: Menlo Park, CA. 1995.

Breast Cancer Action =

Direct action sites =,,

Greenaction =

Health Care Without Harm =

Pesticide Action Network and the Pesticide List =,

Physicians For Social Responsibility =

Rachel\’s Environment and Health Weekly (back issues):

Toxic Link Coalition (East Bay) =

\”The more people fall ill, the more money corporations running the hospitals make.\”

\”Contamination…disproportionately impacts low-income people of color because of the incinerators location.\”

\”My cancer… was caused by a political and economic system which values profits over our health, our right to know, and our lives\”

\”I realize the extent of destruction of both the planet and my body…I also believe action is the antidote for despair.\”

\”I am being treated with drugs manufactured by corporations which also make agricultural products that are suspected carcinogens and endocrine disrupters.\”

\”The precautionary principle states that…the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.\”

\”The proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.\”

Shut the Incinerator!

East Oakland\’s Fight Against Environmental Racism

53 of California\’s 54 known toxic waste disposal sites are located in low income communities of color. Nationally, 3 of every 5 African American and Latino people live in neighborhoods that contain uncontrolled toxic waste sites. Toxic fires burn in San Francisco\’s Bayview/Hunter\’s Point, toxic explosions expose Richmond neighborhoods to noxious fumes, and industrial dumping in the South Bay has rendered the water a stagnant pool of chemical waste. The environmental degradation and health risks disproportionately fall on the shoulders of low-income people and people of color who inhabit these areas.

One particularly egregious and blatant local case of environmental racism is the medical waste incinerator in the Fruitvale area of East Oakland, operated by Integrated Environmental Services (IES), located at 499 High Street in Fruitvale. It is the only medical disposal facility left in California that uses the incineration process, continuously spewing noxious waste products into the air, soil, and water. One such waste product, the most carcinogenic chemical known to science, dioxin, is released into the surrounding low-income and predominantly Black and Latino community as a byproduct of its outdated incineration process. Experts say that just one ounce of dioxin, about the size of an M & M, would be enough to give a million people cancer.

The process is simple. Medical institutions, like Alta Bates Hospital for example, send their medical waste (diapers, IV bags, syringes) to IES for disposal. Materials made of PVC plastic (mainly syringes) contain chlorine, which, when incinerated, releases dioxin. The IES facility uses ovens that burn materials at temperatures approaching 10,000 degrees. At this temperature, the chlorine from the plastic reacts with carbon to create molecules of dioxin. The dioxin leaves the compound, carried by the smoke, and enters the surrounding community as particulate matter.

A few dioxin molecules may settle in a local garden where a family harvests vegetables. Still more dioxin may be carried high into the atmosphere, only to fall with rain into the Bay where fish consume them. (Indeed, the San Francisco Bay is heavily contaminated with dioxin, PCBs, mercury, and lead, and these chemicals have been measured in fish at dangerous levels.) As 90% of human exposure to dioxin occurs through diet, the EPA estimates that eating just a quarter pound of San Francisco Bay fish daily causes cancer risks to increase to a level of nearly one in 1,000. Many Bay Area immigrants and low-income individuals rely on fishing as a free protein supplement to their diet. As their access to fresh, high quality foods are already limited by income, this slow poisoning through what was a free nutrition supplement is just one aspect of the environmental racism of the incinerator.

When people eat contaminated vegetables and fish, they absorb the dioxin into their bodies. Dioxin bioaccumulates in fat cells which absorb the dioxin and transport it to their nuclei, where the chemical bonds to the cells\’ DNA and alters the expression of their genes. As the EPA and its 5,000 studies of dioxin have shown, people who absorb even minute amounts of dioxin tend to develop cancer. Other health problems associated with the dioxin exposure include birth defects, endometriosis, decreased testicle size, decreased sperm count, decreased brain size developmental delay in children, and learning disabilities. Once dioxin enters the ecosystem, even by falling on grass where cattle graze in the central valley, it magnifies up the food chain. Thus the very top of the food chain, the breast feeding baby, is getting the largest dose of dioxin possible.

The process described disproportionately impacts low-income, people of color because of the medical incinerator\’s location. In fact, according to scientists at Communities for a Better Environment, ninety percent of the census tracts that the incinerator smoke blows over are populated by lower income, people of color. Not coincidentally, breast cancer rates in the African American community in Oakland are significantly higher than those of white communities in the Bay Area. This environmental poisoning, coupled with insufficient access to health-care (in terms of both early screening/detection and treatment) has lead to a local increase in the mortality rate of African American women from breast cancer; while the local mortality rate for white woman has begun to decline. It is hard to construe this an anything other than blatant environmental racism.

IES does have other options in terms of medical waste disposal. There are two available technologies that do not send toxic chemicals into surrounding neighborhoods. One is called autoclaving, in which hazardous materials are sterilized essentially through pressure cooking. The other is microwave technology, which is also far cleaner than incineration. IES currently treats only 10% of its incoming waste with its microwave facility. For years community groups have been pushing for the expansion of IES\’ microwaving facility and the elimination of its incineration capacity altogether, but to no avail. Responding to community pressure, Stanford Hospital and Alta Bates Hospital no longer send their medical waste to IES.

Besides alternative disposal methods, the suppliers of the waste materials, hospitals, clinics, and research facilities must reduce the amount of waste they send to IES, particularly plastics. The adoption of reusable equipment, though more expensive due to higher quality materials and the added cost of sterilization and storage between use, would reduce waste immensely. Furthermore, the less PVC products are being used, the less potential there is for dioxin to be released into the environment. Unfortunately, as health insurance companies override the mission of providing health care for the bottom line of money, and hospitals increasingly are being privatized and run like a for-profit business, it is unlikely that they will adopt any changes unless these changes save them money. Ironically (or not) the healthcare industry, whose stated mission is to heal the sick, becomes an integral part of producing the poisons that make people sick. While a contradiction in purpose is evident, a conflict of interest certainly is not; the more people fall ill, the more money the corporations running the hospitals make. There is no way to reconcile this issue until there is free healthcare for all.

Thus far the board of IES has ignored the demands of the Oakland community groups mobilized to protect the health of local residents. Currently, the medical incinerator faces potential denial of a permit renewal from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The permit is required for operation and is issued if the facility is in compliance with the Title V Clean Air Act. The US EPA has recommended that instead of a permit denial, the Air District should impose an Order of Abatement which triggers a series of administrative meetings wherein IES explains to the Air District what steps they will take to bring the incinerators into Title V compliance. IES has been given enough second chances and the ongoing pollution violations have been systematically ignored by the state. Local groups like PUEBLO (People United for a Better Oakland), Center for Environmental Health, Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, Women\’s Cancer Resource Center, Students Organizing for Justice in the Americas, and many others have formed a coalition to expose this clearly racist operation and the state\’s complicity in supporting it. These groups are building pressure on IES, Oakland City Council, the Air Quality District, and clients of the incinerator to stop incineration and the poisoning of the plants, animals, and people of the Oakland community. At one recent protest of over a hundred people, police barricaded streets for blocks around the area while activists c
hained and locked the incinerator\’s front gates, chanting, \”If the government won\’t, the people will shut the incinerator!\”

For more information, contact the following groups: (center for environmental health) (pueblo – people united for a better oakland)

My Ecuador Experience

Massive protests against dollarization led to the resignation of the Ecuadorian president a year ago. Under pressure from the US, the Ecuadorian government has nonetheless continued with dollarization and IMF structural adjustment policies, casting vast segments of the population into dire poverty. In the face of drastic transportation and fuel price hikes and increasing Ecuadorian involvement in Plan Columbia, another massive uprising by the indigenous people this February caused the government to scale back the most recent round of structural adjustments. The following are some observations from a Slingshot associate in Ecuador.

Dollars, oil spills and an indigenous uprising. There\’s always something of interest here in Ecuador. In the month since I arrived, I have learned a lot about the power of protest and the power of the media to distort what is happening.

The media portrayed the indigenous uprising, that resulted in road blockades and the imposition of a state of emergency, as response to rising prices. While this is certainly a concern, people were really fighting against the IMF policies that are threatening their way of life. In addition, the US military is setting up in Ecuador what is to be its largest base in South America, for the purpose of waging war on Colombia. The creation of the base is almost certain to bring the war to Ecuador as well.

The \”drug\” war on Colombia at its root is a war for oil, some of which is on Ecuadorian soil. The extraction of oil in Ecuador for corporations such as Texaco has done tremendous environmental harm to traditional lands and has displaced many indigenous peoples. These multinational corporations extract what they want for outrageous profits and give nothing back, leaving a toxic wasteland behind.

Around 6,000 indigenous communities blocked highways for two weeks, not allowing any food to enter or leave Quito. The y burned tires as blockades and tore up roads. The indigenas occupied a university where they were repeatedly bombarded with tear gas when they tried to leave. In some instances police opened fire on protesters, injuring scores of people and killing four.

Finally points were agreed on between the protesters and the government, including the lowering of fuel prices and bus prices, compensation for the families of those who were killed and injured, the goal of not sacrificing the environment to pay off the debt, and a weak commitment to keep the war from coming to Ecuador. There is little assurance that these agreements will be kept. A similar situation took place here with the protests a year ago, but in the end, under US pressure, last year\’s agreements were not kept, as is typical of the treatment of indigenous people by the U.S. For now, at least, the indigenas have returned home.

Overall, the people of Ecuador have been supportive of the plight of the indigenas. However, there is rampant institutionalized racism and classism against them, which assist the IMF/WB and US military interests in dividing and conquering. It seems so clear that the same process of repression and exploitation is underway everywhere. This is what they mean by \”globalization.\”

It\’s also clear that automobiles and oil are very much at the heart of this. I was so sad when just recently the Galapagos Islands, a part of Ecuador so rich with unspoiled life and famous for Darwin\’s developing his theory of evolution, were hit by an oil spill. Walking around Quito, like in most \”third world countries\”, automobile traffic is essentially unregulated, and there is no respect for pedestrians and bicyclists. The pollution is terrible, I am trying to get a gas mask. While my fellow travelers worry about thieves and parasites, crossing the street is my biggest fear as I go to my English teaching job on foot. This is what we make war for? To secure oil and make war on our own neighborhoods? All at the expense of the balance and fabric of life that has existed for millennia and may be irreplaceable, from the indigenous cultures to the ecosystem itself. I was heartened to hear that there is one group in Ecuador, Accion Ecologia, a \”radical\” environmental group, which has reportedly organized critical mass rides in the past, though I haven\’t seen them. When I see a bicycle here it fills my heart with joy. And there is still much natural beauty here to protect.

Some resources:

Project Underground, Carwil James, Oil Campaign Coordinator


Accion Ecologia

CONAIE (one of the main indigenous groups)

Reclaim the Streets

Whips and Chains

Kinky Sex for the Revolution

What is the weirdest sexual thing you have ever done? Think of something more bizarre. That is kink – stretching the boundaries of sex, refining sexual experiences to fit your individual taste, the inner cravings of your soul.

Not only is sexual exploration fun, it is a revolutionary tool as well. The honesty, trust, and creativity involved in kinky play are the same qualities underlying effective affinity groups, general communication, and revolutionary society as a whole.

Kink means being open to potentially threatening concepts, changing your mind, challenging your programming. Being unashamedly aroused is inherently related to being passionately, unabashedly revolutionary. Kink means not compromising your desires because they are contrary to the status quo, and instead flaunting, celebrating, reveling in them.

Absolute morality about sex is counterproductive to everything the sexual revolution, wymmons movement, disability movement, etc has done to open humanity\’s views about the mind/body. Different bodies and minds reach sexual satisfaction through equally diverse activities. Rigid opinions about sex and desire silence kink and make potential perverts into introverts. Desires, no matter how bizarre-seeming, must be respected and explore, not feared.

Say, for example, that somebody gets off on being dragged down an alley, beaten up, and pissed on. This person should not be expected to relinquish their desires just because their fantasy does not appear to reflect the love and respect that would anchor a revolutionary society. Sick and twisted desires can be fulfilled in ways that are safe and consensual. Fulfilling somebody\’s innermost desire is an act of love and subverts the dominant paradigm.

Issues of trust surface when two people engage in a kinky act. Nobody besides yourself can know your desires and fantasies unless you share them. Kinky people must be direct and honest about their desires because experiencing the sensations of, for example, play piercing needles in the back may be exciting for one person but intrusive for another. Also, people must own their desires and not take it personally if the person they are with does not share similar fantasies.

Sexual exploitation can be a good way to explore all parts of our person. One must truly trust/know oneself to explore the world of kink, and kink is an excellent way to learn about yourself. Kink can help you overcome your shit. When self-trust exists, the most intense exploration should not be a threat; you trust yourself to sense and respect what us too much for you at that particular time.

Kink is also a good way to work on communication. Self-understanding and honest communication can assist in the choice of play partners as well, many times eliminating \”playing\” with someone unless they are compatible. Kink also has potential to get people relating on different, unexpected levels. (Ofcourse some of us know these levels are a bit tricky, but we\’ll never be on our death beds wishin\’ we\’d of taken more risks.)

Being a radical is about challenging stereotypes and traditional definitions. We must break down the oppressive social constructs surrounding gender, absolute morality, perversion, punishment, politeness, beauty, pleasure/pain, right/wrong, good/bad. We must counter these stereotypes actively in our homes and communities because kink/qenderqueer/pansexuality/perversion is still extremely marginalized, even within \’radical\’ communities. If we can\’t be who we are within a radical community, then where?

Contrary to what mainstream culture says, sex is fluid and chaotic, like life. Kink is an excellent way to explore natural spontaneity. We use more areas of our bodies and brains if we actively engage in rigid AND fluid activities. As we work together to build a society that meets each individual\’s needs, sexual exploration must happen simultaneously to do-it-yourself mechanical work, radio building or plumbing. Own your desires. Do not be afraid of them! Find ways to express them that you are okay with!

A few notes on Safety:

  • A safe word can be used when either person feels threatened or uninterested in continuing to \”play.\”
  • Safer se materials such as gloves can be fetishized. Practice safer sex; STDs suck!
  • Doing extreme sex acts when you\’re fucked up on drugs or alcohol can scathe you in negative ways, because you\’re less sensitive to pain thresholds.

Palestine: Legacies of Empire

In the closing weeks of the Clinton ad-ministration, as US officials worked frantically behind the scenes to secure a peace accord as part of Clinton\’s \”legacy\”, renewed violence broke out in the occupied territories of Pales-tine, spilling over in the state of Israel itself. For a few days, with the Clinton administra-tion unsure of how to respond to this crisis, and corporate news managers left temporary with-out clear ideological guidance, viewers of US propaganda channels such as CNN were treated to typically uninsightful but unusually neutral or even slightly favorable coverage of the Palestinian side. This of course soon changed, as the US administration made its position clear: we support Israel. The error was understandable: with the peace process and all its hand-shaking and smiling, it would at least be plausible to assume that the Pales-tinians could be okay, and now their children were being killed by Israeli soldiers, which does look like they are being, well, at least slightly mistreated.

But US strategic and economic interests demand otherwise. The modern politics of the Middle East are largely reducible to the re-gion\’s dubious fortune of having the world\’s largest known concentration of oil reserves. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire fol-lowing the First World War, the region came under the control the British Empire, which after being weakened in the Second World War, was replaced by the United States-the new imperial hegemon of the \”free\” (capitalist) world. The US largely followed the control strategies developed and deployed by its Brit-ish predecessor: contain the Arabs by lever-aging non-Arab states against them, control the Arabs internally by supporting corrupt, despotic rulers.

The non-Arab states thus employed in-cluded Turkey, Pakistan and Iran, the latter having been taken off the list of close allies and recategorized as a rogue terrorist state after the Shah, a despotic pro-US ruler, was overthrown in 1979.

A major new element was tossed into the politics of the region when in 1948, a group of European Jewish terrorists (that\’s what they were called back then) succeeded in establish-ing a colonial regime in what used to be British Palestine. They were more or less supported by Britain in their efforts, but weren\’t satisfied with \”more or less\”, and insisted on more (that\’s why some of them were branded ter-rorists). They proceeded to enlarge and rein-force their position with equal zeal, expelling the native inhabitants of the land in droves, destroying entire villages, fighting effectively against the surrounding Arab regimes who objected to this intrusion.

Their militant zeal was not unnoticed by the emerging imperial overlord of the region. US ruling circles appreciated the brutality and efficiency of Israeli methods, their straightfor-ward willingness and ability to \”get things done\” (one individual notable since the time of the state\’s founding for his ability to \”get things done\” is Ariel Sharon, recently elected Prime Minister of Israel). Quickly, Israel became a \”staunch ally\” in the region. They also appreci-ated that the uncompromising methods em-ployed by this new colonial re-gime would be unpopular: thus the support for Israel would likewise have to be uncompro-mising.

The US regime has been fortunate in that critics of its support for Israel have chosen to play the \”anti-Semitic\” card, explaining the support in terms of the influence of wealthy Jewish lobbyists and the like-thus allowing the imperialist geostrategic objectives of the US military-corporate complex in the region to go largely unchallenged.

The peace process so vigorously pursued by Clinton was but the latest scheme in this larger imperial design. Perhaps Clinton was enamored with this ill-conceived scheme out of concern for his all-important legacy (post-White House marketability), a concern shared for not too dissimilar reasons by former Israeli premiere Barak and Palestinian chief Yasser Arafat.

Barak\’s political career was on the line, and for now has ended with his announcement of resignation, submitted just a few days after his agreement to serve as Defense Minister under Sharon met with outrage from Barak\’s Labor party. Arafat\’s position, while suffi-ciently strong to allow him to survive the collapse of the \”peace process\”, has nonethe-less been somewhat weakened and has forced him to give ground to hard-line Palestinian factions such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which favor armed conflict with the \”Zionist entity\”.

Under the existing regime, Arafat and his cronies have enjoyed near total control of the Palestinian economy, including monopoly con-trol of all the key profitable commodity markets and exclusive deals for resale of Israeli corpo-rate products to the Palestinian population.

The fact that Arafat has been installed into his current sinecure as chief of the Palestinian Authority largely by decision and in the inter-ests of the Israeli military and business elite threatens Arafat\’s credibility with the Palestin-ian people, thus prompting him to at least rhet-orically adopt a somewhat \”militant\” posture in relation to his Israeli colonial back-ers. So far, with the major Arab powers, particularly the largest one-Egypt, refusing to back to Arafat in a military option, the Pales-tinian Authority remains militarily impotent. The Egyptian gov-ernment is of course the largest recipient of US foreign aid-with the notable exception of Is-rael-and would be loathe to lose that money by crossing its North American paymaster.

The peace process promoted by the United States would give the Palestinians exactly what the US and Israeli ruling classes wanted them to have. The maps of the proposed Pal-estinian entity present the classic picture of Bantustanization: a series of hundreds of dis-connected enclaves separated by Israeli ac-cess roads to which the Palestinians have no access. Key water resources would likewise remain under Israeli control. External borders would similarly be controlled by Israel.

Naturally, a hero of Palestinian resistance such as Arafat was needed in order to foist such a scheme upon the Palestinian people, to endow it with some fig leaf of authenticity. Implementation of the scheme was to be over-seen by the CIA, who had agents de-ployed throughout the Palestinian Authority to monitor the situation on the ground and ensure compli-ance. At the height of the peace process ne-gotiations, CIA director George Tenet took up residence in Israel.

The task set forth for Arafat was clear: the Palestinian people were to be repressed and subordinated to US-Israeli interests by what-ever means necessary. A report on the Middle East situation recently issued by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Wash-ing-ton think tank, recommended the use of \”ex-cessive force\” against Palestinian civilians, as well as \”interrogation methods bordering on psycho-logical and/or physical torture\” as a means of enforcing the peace process.

But the scheme failed to take root. The Pal-estinian people had simply suffered too many depredations and humiliations to accept what was laid out before them. Unfortunately, their leaders could not come up with any better solutions, beyond various bids to prop up their own power.

As Barak repeatedly emphasized in the wake of this most recent intifada uprising, \”they have never been offered so much\”. Barak was right-Israel did indeed make many compro-mises, at least compared to its usual policy of no-compromise, no-holds-barred aggression and repression.

A man who embodies that no-compromise approach is the newly elected prime minister, Ariel Sharon. A former commando and adher-ent of right-wing revisionist Zionism, Sharon is clear in his sentiments: the Arabs are the en-emy. Historically, Sharon has been deployed as a sort of \”rogue commander\”. His hawkish-ness and over-the-top zeal provided a cover of plausible deniability in cases where the Israeli govern
ment felt it needed to take drastic and internationally unpopular measures to enforce its power.

When Sharon led a raid in which Arab women and children were massacred in 1953, the \”liberal\” Eshkol regime censured him, but took no action. In the wake of the 1982 mas-sacre of Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatilla camps in Southern Lebanon, for which Sharon was found to be personally responsi-ble, he was dismissed from his post as De-fense Minister. Now, following an election with a historically low voter turnout, the rogue is in charge.

The Washington regime, ever on the alert, has censured Israel (and the Palestinians, just to be fair), perhaps as a way of saying to Sharon that now, with the plausible deniability gone, he better follow the standard operating procedure for repression.

Along with the whole Arab world, the Pales-tinian Authority has issued statements ex-pressing its displeasure: \”Barak was bad, but Sharon is worse\”. For Arafat, Sharon is indeed worse, for he threatens to upset the facade behind which Arafat and his cronies have pur-sued their personal enrichment while the vast majority of Palestinian people languish in pov-erty. Unfortunately, just turning up the rhetoric against Israel will probably suffice to bolster Arafat\’s credibility and keep him in power.

The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that this region, Palestine, is a center of several intolerant religions, and it is all too easy for the region\’s rulers or would-be rulers to play the religious hatred card for all it\’s worth.

The Palestinians want their own state, or so we are told. Perhaps it is because they have been told that\’s all they can get, all they can hope for as a means of relieving their real suffering. But in this violent region especially, states have a way of only fanning the flames of war, of bringing suffering and repression to their people.

In the state system, the biggest and most violent state rules. Today, that state is the United States of America, whose imperialist policies have defined the political landscape of the Middle East to be one of violent repression, for that is the only way it knew to ensure that its corporations would have access to the oil resources whose frantic exploitation is choking the planet. To have access and thereby deny others access: that is the golden rule of the state system of power. Or the corporate sys-tem of power, for that matter-they are but two sides of the same coin.

Zionism was in its inception a socialist movement. The Jewish state was to be founded upon the Zionist maxim of \”a land without a people for a people without a land\”. Failing to find a land which met such condi-tions, elements of the Zionist movement sought to create them. In the process, a differ-ent version of Zionism became dominant. \”The Arabs only really came to Palestine after the Jewish settlement started, in order to spite the Jews and get in their way. All those refu-gees weren\’t exiled, they left just to make Israel look bad, or because the other Arab states told them to.\” Such is the talk of these revisionist Zionists. For them, there is no \”Palestinian people\”-it\’s all a hoax to thwart the Jews. \”And plus, we were here first\”.

According to the Bible, the god Yahweh granted the land of Palestine to his people. Then too, the land was not empty. The god Yahweh was clear in his commandments: his people were to either exterminate or enslave the earlier inhabitants, according to their tribe. A kingdom was erected, stood not long, and fell. Now his people are back, and again doing what at least some of them believe to be their god\’s bidding. Some Talmudic scholars have been offering the more religious soldiers moral support: it is okay to kill Arab women and chil-dren, so long as it\’s done in such as way that it doesn\’t make Jews look bad. The less relig-ious ones need no special encouragement to kill-their secular hatred suffices. Such are the fruits of empire.

In the Middle East, in this region of oil and violence, the legacy and actuality of imperial-ism make themselves felt all too clearly. But we must also see beyond the horizon of impe-rial domination. In today\’s world of governing by remote control, the independent nation-state is precisely the orga-nizational subunit into which people must be divided before they are absorbed into a world empire. Those divi-sions must be torn asunder.

Kinder, Gentler Private Property

I attended the Friday after Thanksgiving Buy Nothing Day event in San Francisco, and while I\’m quite sympathetic to the general aim of Buy Nothing Day, I think there are a few things that could be greatly improved about your leaflet, \”The ABC\’s of Buying Nothing.\”

1. You suggest, \”Barter instead of buying. Participate in exchange without contributing to this economic system.\”

Whenever you have human beings mediating their relationships to one another through exchange you have the material basis for inequality and exploitation; the market is making the decisions, not the people involved. Barter and money are both forms of market exchange, and as such are inherently alienating. Both are based on private property. That\’s the opposite of a situation where private property has been abolished. If you call for people to barter you are calling for what you hope will be a kinder, gentler form of private property.

All the authentically revolutionary Marxist and anarchist tendencies in modern history have aspired to go beyond using money, not regress to pre-capitalist forms of the market economy. For all their mistakes and limitations, in places like rural Spain in 1936, and under the Soviet regime in Hungary in 1919, 20th century revolutionary movements that attempted to create post-capitalist societies were often clear on the need to not just abolish money, but to abolish the underlying commodity exchange relations that money is the most visible symbol of. That\’s what the slogan, \”From each according to their ability, to each according to their need\” refers to; a situation where all wealth is produced and allocated freely and according to need, without trade or exchange of any kind, not a private property system like what exists with barter. If you attempted to apply a system as awkward and inefficient as barter to the level of a large scale society, its inherent clumsiness and inefficiency would probably lead most people back to using money.

An article in the Situationist International Anthology about the Watts riots of 1965, \”The Decline and Fall of the Spectacle Commodity Economy,\” and Reading Capital Politically by Harry Cleaver both show how the tendency to go beyond exchange altogether asserts itself again and again in many contemporary working class rebellions. These moments of revolt usually have contradictory elements, but this tendency to assert real human needs against the market is exactly the thing that should be encouraged by anyone opposed to today\’s global social order. The abolition of all acts of buying and selling isn\’t just a good idea for the distant future; it\’s a living tendency that emerges in the most advanced social struggles. Market relations are the basis of what\’s wrong with life on earth. Whether it\’s money, barter, trade or exchange, the market economy has to be abolished. There isn\’t any opting out of it on a personal level.

2. Also, there\’s nothing particularly virtuous about limiting your shopping to \”indy\” capitalist enterprises. This comes off like the crusty-punk version of the shop-your-way-to-a-better-world bullshit that you find in a more upscale form from The Body Shop, Smith and Hawken and Mother Jones magazine.

3. Finally, I come to the letter Q: \”Quit your job. Find one you like. Work part-time or not at all.\”

This suggestion reeks of upper middle class privilege and naiveté. I can only begin to imagine how ridiculous this must sound to a working class single mother, who can\’t go back to live with her mom and dad in an upscale suburb when she gets tired of dumpster-diving. If your suggestions don\’t connect with the real lives of the vast majority of people outside the drop-out/career protester/slumming-offspring-of-the-upper-middle-class ghetto then what you suggest will be self-indulgent, irrelevant, or worse.

Most people in the real world don\’t work because they believe in it or don\’t have anything better to do with their lives, but because they are coerced into it — they have no choice. On an individual level we are powerless and at the mercy of the commodity system. People work to avoid complete and total impoverishment, and often nowadays even working all the time doesn\’t save a lot of people from being poor. And for most people who can\’t work, homelessness awaits, and capital has a vast and ever growing police and incarceration apparatus to accommodate their needs. The only people who consider poverty to be a virtue are people who grew up far from it — or a few religious nuts.

\”Finding a job you like\” isn\’t an real option either, except for a tiny fraction of a single percentage point of everybody who works for wages. Most forms of wage labor are inherently demeaning, stupid, socially unnecessary, ecologically destructive, or all of these things. In any case, the way you put \”finding a job you like\” forward as if it was a radical political response to the conditions of contemporary life leads to the assumption that if a atomized individual can find a job they like, they will no longer have any reason to be dissatisfied with life under capitalism!

If you have to work for wages you are being exploited. If you get others to work for you then you are an exploiter. And the era when large numbers of people could opt out of society and go live by themselves far away from others faded away more than a hundred years ago. The point isn\’t to run away from the problem, or seek an individual way of opting out of the global capitalist order — there isn\’t one. The point is to get together with other people who are in a similar situation of exploitation and dispossession and fight together against bosses, landlords, corporations and the rich — for less work, for more pay, for more free time, and ultimately for our own power outside of and against the market and the state.

Today capitalism has created a massive profit-motivated housing crisis in the Bay Area. This means many people are paying up to 50% or more of their income to keep a roof over their heads. In this context, a glib suggestion to \”work part-time or not at all\” has the smell of the trust-fund check recipient about it.

In your ABC\’s of Buying Nothing There is a tension between the desire to have an impact on the larger social reality around you, and a need to provide a political rational for your own individual lifestyle choices. As long as you aren\’t exploiting or victimizing others in your daily life your individual lifestyle options are your concern, and probably aren\’t of much interest to anybody other than you. (That doesn\’t mean anybody should be expected to be a perfect angel in their personal life; we are mere mortals, after all.)

Life under capitalism is getting worse and worse for the vast majority of people in the US, the richest and most wasteful country on earth. This presents people who consider themselves to be against the current way society is organized with enormous possibilities. Liberalism, Leninism and social democracy are dead. For the first time in seven or eight decades we can make our politics relevant to the vast majority of the wage-slave class, the only section of society who are really in a position to attack and sink the bosses\’ economy, and who have everything to gain in a fight for a sane, ecologically sustainable world. But the capitalist class won\’t be threatened and might even be quite pleased if large numbers of working people were to voluntarily relinquish what few material gains they have and self-manage a massive reduction of their living standards. In any case that probably won\’t happen. Almost no one will ever fight to have less than what they have. Most working people experience enough privation in their lives, and you aren\’t going to get anywhere by suggesting they should embrace total impoverishment as an individual moral response to the horrors of capitalism.

Under the right circumstances, most people will fight for more wealth and mor
e power in their lives, and that should be encouraged. There is a lot of excellent potential in having an anti-commodity-fetishism day in major shopping areas on the biggest commodity fetishism day of the year. Consumer society is empty and bogus, and many of those shopper in Union Square may on some level be aware of this. But in the future you should address the issue of wage labor from the inside; talk about how wage labor is the basis of what\’s wrong with life on earth today in a way that will be intelligible to contemporary working people. That means a perspective for mass collective action by wage workers against market relations, against the state, against advertising and the media, against the entire totalitarian reality of contemporary capitalist society. Many working people may on some subliminal level already be aware of these issues, and can probably be reached this way.

Wage labor is based on an artificial poverty created by capitalism; we work because we have no choice. Capitalism has created the material basis for a global society where all human beings could have adequate food, clothing, housing, health care, education and an equal say in how society is run, but the market stands in the way of this, it separates us from all the wealth we create, and the private sector elite uses lies and terror to keep things this way. Getting rid of capitalism will require a large-scale, conscious, organized revolutionary movement; millions of people taking action. But there are also real tendencies at work now in the daily lives of working and poor people that tend in this direction, even during a reactionary period like the present, where working and poor people assert their needs against the profit requirements of the market. Your suggestions about stealing and occupation of social space are excellent and tap into this.

There is a profound and spreading dissatisfaction around us with what passes for life under capitalism at the beginning of the 20th century. The opportunities in coming decades may be tremendous. But an individualistic, moralistic drop-out trip isn\’t going to go anywhere. It may make some people feel good, but isn\’t going to communicate anything subversive to the vast majority of people who can make things happen, and it isn\’t going to create a better world.

Anti-capitalist greetings,

\”Nestor Makhno\”

Mission Yuppie Eradication Project

phone (415) 430-2165 x 1030 Kevin Keating – email (415) 430-2165 x1030 – voicemail/fax

Robert King Wilkerson Free

After 29 Years in Isolation

Robert King Wilkerson, one of the prisoners known as \”the Angola 3,\” was released from Louisiana State Penitentiary today after spending twenty-nine years in solitary confinement for a murder he did not commit.

Wilkerson, 57, was convicted of the 1973 murder of a fellow Angola prisoner despite the fact that another man confessed and was convicted of the murder. After two prisoners who testified against Wilkerson – the only evidence ever presented against him – retracted their testimony and revealed that it had been coerced by prison officials, the United States Court of Appeals in December issued a ruling that almost certainly would have led to his release.

In response, in what his supporters characterized as a face-saving move, the state offered Wilkerson a plea bargain, which he accepted. Six hours later, to the cheers of a throng of family and supporters, Wilkerson walked out of Angola a free man.

He has pledged to dedicate his life to winning freedom for Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace, the other two members of the Angola 3, and for all of the other innocent men with whom he was incarcerated for the past three decades.

\”I may be free of Angola, but Angola will never be free of me,\” Wilkerson said.

Woodfox and Wallace have also been held in solitary confinement for 29 years. They were convicted of the 1972 murder of an Angola prison guard – a murder that they have unwaveringly claimed they did not commit. In recent years, new evidence of their innocence has surfaced. Even though the new evidence was suppressed at the time of their trials, they have thus far been unable to win justice from the courts.

Wilkerson, Woodfox, and Wallace have always believed that they were framed by prison officials because they organized the Angola chapter of the Black Panther Party. Prior to being placed in solitary confinement, the men led campaigns to end prisoner rape, improve race relations, and ameliorate conditions at the slave plantation-turned-prison.

All three men entered prison on unrelated robbery charges and quickly joined the prisoners\’ rights movement that was sweeping the country in the late 1960s. In the ensuing years, the men continued their activism from within solitary confinement by organizing hunger strikes, educating other prisoners, and by becoming highly-skilled jailhouse lawyers.

The American Civil Liberties Union is currently pursing a federal lawsuit alleging that the men\’s 29-year stay in solitary confinement amounts to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.

Now that he is free, Wilkerson plans to travel and speak out against the imprisonment of Woodfox and Wallace and the continuing growth of the American prison-industrial complex.

For more information contact Marina Drummer, National Coalition to Free the Angola 3, (510) 655-8770.

Anarchist Prisoner Needs Support

Chris Plummer is an anti-racist anarchist activist imprisoned in Texas. After being involved with the squatting movement on New York\’s Lower East Side in the late 80\’s and early 90\’s he took to travelling the country connecting with various libertarian counter-culture groups. During this time, he and some friends formed the United Anarchist Front, a group designed to carry out actions against agents of fascist terror, particularly the cops and organized white supremacists. He was convicted in 1993 for his part in an action carried out on a Nazi-skinhead house in Houston, Texas. Police found Chris\’ fingerprints at the scene and he was arrested later that year. The action was intended to halt the American Front, an openly fascist group proud of its record of racist violence, from spreading propaganda in local neighborhoods and schools. No one was hurt during the action, only the Nazis hate literature was destroyed. Chris faced several charges including attempted murder. This ridiculous charge was dropped when it became clear that Chris would not be terrorized into turning in his friends. He was, however, convicted of Burglary of Habitation with Intent to Commit Theft, and sentenced to 15 years.

Chris did not stop his organizing efforts after being imprisoned. The Texas prison system has a well justified reputation for being a maelstrom of hate, terror and exploitation. One of the ways that control is maintained by the prison administration is by encouraging conflict between the different prisoner nationalities/castes, or \’races\’. In spite of this environment Chris was able to set up a prisoner organization called Cell One at Huntsville also home of Texas\’ notorious Death Row. One of Cell One\’s main projects was the Texas Prisoners\’ Anarchist Lending Library. With materials made available from outside supporters, the Library made available books, pamphlets and magazines relevant to the struggles of the oppressed for liberation: Black/New Afrikan, Chicano, Native and class struggle histories, anarchist and other revolutionary theory, anti-sexist, anti-racist critiques, etc. In March of 1997, guards confiscated and then \”lost\” all of the books as well as many of Chris\’ personal possessions under the pretext of a \”gang-activity\” investigation. Around this time, intimidation attacks from a Nazi prisoner gang escalated in a murderous assault where Chris had his jaw and cheekbone broken and barely escaped death.

In May, 1997 Chris was transferred to the Hughes Unit in Gatesville, Texas where Chris reported that racial tension and general violence was rampant. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice chose this unit knowing that a paid hit was out on Chris\’ life by Nazi prison gangs. Shortly after the transfer he was put in Administrative Segregation on lock-down (isolation) for arbitrary and unclear reasons.

On August 26, 1997, Chris was again attacked by prison staff. This time in retaliation for Chris speaking out in support of another prisoner, Tony Collins, who had just been convicted of possessing a gun. The prison guards had been threatening Mr Collins\’ life, not an idle threat in the Texas prisons. After Chris had contacted outside groups and threatened legal action to expose this, guards siezed and destroyed all of his property including important legal material. Along with various threats to his well-being, he was told he was now being charged with conspiracy to smuggle guns into the prison — a blatant lie and frame-up.

The guards further actions can and should be defined as torture. For days afterwards Chris had to endure repeated strip searches and cell searches. In his own words \”I have been pulled out of my cell an average of 13 times per 8 hour shift. I have not had a solid hours sleep in 3 days. They refuse to allow me to even have stamps or writing materials. And I have no doubt they will carry out some of their threats.\”

Since that time the situation has grown only more severe. While the prison authorities have relented somewhat in their daily harrassment, both Chris\’ incoming and outgoing mail is being heavily censored. Letters from some of his support groups have been seized as \”gang-related\”, as were his letters to those groups. Neither Chris nor the support groups were informed of this by prison staff. Still worse, Chris was paid visits from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) in late October 1997 and was told they will be pressing charges for gun-smuggling. A conviction on these charges would result in 30 to 40 more years of prison.

How long can anyone endure these conditions? We must defend Chris and halt this drawn-out torturous injustice. Not just because Chris\’ life is on the line but because he is one of those who continues to fight in our common struggle for liberation and against injustice. If we ignore his plight our own struggles will be that much weaker.


Please write and call the following prison authorities: Warden Moya Rt. 2 Box 4400 Gatesville, TX 76597 (254) 865-6663; Wayne Scott, Director Texas Dept. of Corrections P.O. Box 99 Huntsville, TX 77342 (409) 295-6371. Demand that the charges against Chris Plummer (#677345) be dropped, threats and harassment stopped, and the stolen property be returned.

If you can provide any legal help or provide funds to cover the many legal costs, please contact: Christopher Lee Plummer #677345 Hughes Unit Rt. 2 Box 4400 Gatesville, TX 76597

Free and Critter: Trying Developments

\”There seems to be a conscious program underway to isolate and undermine Eugene\’s anarchist community. If history is any guide, this should be understood as the first step in an attack on activism overall. If Free and Critter are not defended, in the political arena as well as in court, we can only expect more trouble for progressive activists of all stripes.\” — Free and Critter\’s Legal Defense Committee

It has been a trying and emotional time here in Eugene, Oregon. As many of you know, our friends and fellow activists Jeffrey Luers, Free, and Craig Marshall, Critter, have been incarcerated since June 16, 2000. Both men plead \”not guilty\” to nine felony charges, including arson, and one misdemeanor. After a delay, both men\’s pre-trial arguments started November 8th. Once the jury was selected, two days of the trial ensued only to have everything thrown into disarray with terrible news. The Free and Critter Legal Defense learned that Monday morning, November 20th, Free\’s defense attorney, Ken Morrows, suffered a fatal heart attack! The confusion following this unprecedented turn of events has led to motions of severance, mistrial and new plea bargains from the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case, Caren Tracy. Free\’s parents, here in Eugene for the trial, scrambled to the courthouse with members of the Legal Defense Committee to learn what may be in store for the trial, which was a long way from its close. No one seemed to know quite what to do. There has never been a case of a lawyer dying during their trial in Oregon. Mark Spence, a court-appointed attorney, was assigned temporarily to help Free through the transition. He moved for a mistrial. Brian Barnes, Critter\’s lawyer, moved to sever the cases allowing Critter\’s case to continue with the same jury. The judge decided to hear oral arguments Tuesday the 21st at 9:30am.

How was the trial going? The news has been bewildering and devastating to Free\’s family and support group. Despite early setbacks, many have felt that that momentum was building for the defense. The defense attorneys made several motions to suppress evidence from the searches of a warehouse and the car driven by Critter and Free the night that they were arrested. Objections were raised about a questionably obtained search warrant and items seized but not named on the warrant. Several cops testified. All the motions to suppress evidence were denied by the judge. Tuesday, November 14, jury selection started and took all day. It was a scary process that included the prosecutor arguing to keep people who admitted prejudice against anarchists and protests in general. Throughout the selection, Tracy kept emphasizing the need for people to be able to convict on circumstantial evidence and not just hard facts like eyewitnesses. Oregon State law gives both forms of evidence the same weight. Wednesday, November 15, jury selection continued. Twelve jurors were selected and two alternates, using 49 out of 50 in the jury pool. The jury consists of 9 men and 3 women, all of whom are white. After a lunch break, the jury took a bus trip to the warehouse where Free was staying and where the cops raided. They also went to the two sites in question; Tyree Oil Co. (where devices were found but no fires occurred) and the Joe Romania truck dealership (where a truck was burned and approx. $40,000 dollars of damage occurred). Thursday, November 16 began with opening statements. Tracy gave a very long, detailed argument laying out the prosecution\’s basic story. Morrow emphasized the difference between arson and criminal mischief. Barnes casually yet matter-of-factly mentioned the speculative nature of the prosecutor\’s case and the lack of one piece of hard evidence. The state then started calling witnesses including a manager at Tyree Oil, the site of one of the alleged arsons, a Eugene cop on the bomb squad, as well as one other cop and a detective who were involved in tailing Free and Critter\’s car. The prosecution tried to weave its circumstantial evidence together and scare the jury with stories of fires and explosions. The defense did a good job during cross-examination of pointing out holes in the prosecution\’s argument as well as questioning the integrity of the cops by exposing poor evidence gathering and tampering, misleading reports, dishonesty and bad memories. Friday, November 17 one juror said she felt intimidated by the defendants and was scared they may have seen her address. She was dismissed and replaced with a female alternate. Most distressingly she spoke about this to \”five or six\” of the other jurors. A juror was seen talking with a witness for the prosecution during a break trying to talk up a job, and reports are that one male juror keeps going on about the politics involved locally and in the case. All of this is very scary. The day continued with state witnesses, including more cops and an ATF agent involved in the raid and seizure of evidence. Also, a video of the warehouse was shown. Court was to resume Tuesday, November 21.

What\’s the latest? During the confusion the DA\’s office offered Free and Critter new plea bargains. Free was offered 156 months in prison and years of probation. In the deal Free would have to plead guilty to \”Arson 1\” and \”Conspiracy to commit arson\”. Free decided against the offer and because of publicity of the trial due to his lawyer\’s death, decided that a mistrial would be in his best interest.

After considering advice from his lawyer and friends and talking with Free, Critter decided to accept the deal offered to him. Critter did not agree to admit guilt but acknowledged that it was possible for the prosecutor to convict on the evidence. Critter was sentenced Wednesday, November 22 to 66 months in prison with three years probation for \”Conspiracy to commit arson\” charge as well as 6 months and two years probation for the \’Possession of a destructive device\” charge. They are to run concurrently. It also appears that Critter will be eligible for a \”boot camp\” after 11 months. After completing this 6-month boot camp Critter would be eligible for early release. His attorney noted that Measure 11 forces people to make decisions they don\’t want to make.

On January 31st, Free\’s defenders won a battle with Asst.DA Caren Tracy when Lane County Circuit Court Judge Lyle Velure ruled to allow Atty. Brian Barnes to continue to represent Free at trial. Trial date was set for April 3rd. After ordering both Free and Critter to consult with \’independent\’ counsel, Velure deemed that both men were sufficiently informed to waive their right to appeal on grounds of \’conflict of interest\’. Tracy contended that because Barnes had represented Critter in the original trial, that a potential for conflict of interest may arise in the future. Velure referred to Free and Critter as \’well-informed and intelligent young men\’ and vowed to see the trial occur in \’a timely manner\’. He did rule, however, that Free must have separate counsel to advise him on issues of conflict of interest during trial. Barnes agreed to pay for this extra attorney.

A message from the Free and Critter Legal Defense Committee

The friends and family of Free and Critter want to thank all of you sincerely for your interest in their case and for your many supportive actions. We are a community in the midst of a battle many of you have fought before. Many of you understand the loneliness of prison and the uncertainty of political trials. Some of you have experienced the stress, intense emotion and depletion of resources that occurs when activists become targets of repression from the state. Below are addresses where you may write Free and Critter and give them the support they really need right now. Also, if you have the ability to help friends and family offset very expensive legal costs, please send money. If you can\’t send letters or money, please consider working on a campaign for political prisoners near you. In solidarity, Free and Critter Legal Defense Committee


On Jun
e 23, 2000, Jeffrey \”Free\” Luers and Craig \”Critter\” Marshall were indicted on nine felony counts and one misdemeanor. The charges were placed on the \”defendants acting together with others as yet unnamed,\” opening the door to a continuous investigation against activists in Eugene. There are serious suspicions about the motives of the state, the lack of evidence, and the accompanying media campaign to convict them in advance. On June 16 at 1:30 AM, Luers and Marshall were stopped by Springfield police for a \”routine traffic violation.\” (The car they were driving had a headlight out.) When Springfield police called in their licenses, the Eugene Police Department ordered them held. They were then turned over to the Eugene police and booked at Lane County Jail on charges of Criminal Mischief and Arson. The next day, the Eugene police told the media that Luers and Marshall were being held on suspicion of an arson at a Eugene car dealership, resulting in $40,000 in damage. They claimed the arson occurred at the time of the arrest and, contradicting the Springfield police, stated that Eugene police followed the suspects from the scene. On June 17, Eugene police obtained a warrant to search Luers\’ residence for specific items, including empty plastic containers, sponges, incense sticks, matches, rubber bands, paint, gasoline, and correspondence to the both of them. Another resident was detained and questioned for two hours. BATF was identified at the scene. Since that time, activists have reported continued surveillance of their homes and offices, by both the Eugene police and the FBI.

THE CHARGES Count 1: Class A Felony — Arson in the First Degree, for damage to Joe Romania\’s Truck Dealership. Count 2: Class A Felony — Arson in the First Degree, for reckless endangerment of damage to vehicles across the street from the dealership. Count 3: Class C Felony –Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, for damage to a motor vehicle. Count 4: Class C Felony — Unlawful Manufacture of a Destructive Device, for knowingly assembling a bomb with an incendiary device. Count 5: Class C Felony — Unlawful Possession of a Destructive Device Count 6: Class B Felony — Attempting to start a fire at Tyree Oil Company, putting life in danger. Count 7: Class B Felony — Same as Count 6, but names truck. Count 8: Class A Misdemeanor — Criminal Mischief. Count 9: Class C Felony — Manufacture of a Bomb. Count 10: Class C Felony — Possession of a Destructive Device Counts 1-5 relate to a fire on June 16th, at the Joe Romania Car Dealership in Eugene. Counts 1 and 2 fall under Oregon\’s Measure 11 Mandatory Sentencing Guidelines. They carry 70 months each. Counts 6-10 relate to an attempted arson on May 27th, at the Tyree Oil Company in Eugene.


Jeffrey Luers (Free) #1206729 101 W. 5th Street Eugene, Oregon 97401 or Craig Marshall (Critter) c/o FCLDC, PO Box 50263, Eugene, Oregon 97405.

2. Organize a benefit and/or donate money for their legal defense, their jail fund for stamps and collect calls to jail support, so they can receive moral support from friends. If you are doing outreach in your area or publication, please let us know about it! The Free and Critter Legal Defense Committee can be reached directly at: c/o Eugene Peaceworks 454 Willamette Eugene, OR 97401 (we also have excellent t-shirts with pictures of Free and Critter and a quote from Free at this address. All proceeds go to the Legal Defense Fund. (Thanks to the Coalition Against Civilization for printing and donating the shirts!) Suggested donation $15 payable to the FCLDC. Note size, S M L XL)

3. PLEASE SEND MONEY TO: O.U.R. Credit Union C/o Free and Critter Legal Defense Fund P.O. Box 11922 Eugene, OR 97440.

4. Contact the defense fund at

Derrick Jensen Speaks at Benefit for Free and Critter

On February 22, author Derrick Jensen spoke about his new work at the University of Oregon in Eugene. \’A Language Older Than Words\’, published by Context Books (publishers of Daniel Quinn\’s works, as well) is a groundbreaking look into the connection between our abuse of each other and our abuse of the planet, while also offering insight into how we can relearn the language of wild nature. The event was a fundraiser for the Northwest Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network and jailed political prisoners Craig \’Critter\’ Marshall and Jeffrey \’Free\’ Luers. Both men are outspoken forest defenders being framed for two incidents of arson in Eugene.

In the book, Jensen says, \”There is a language older by far and deeper than words. It is the language of bodies, of body on body, wind on snow, rain on trees, wave on stone. It is the language of dream, gesture, symbol, memory. We have forgotten this language. We do not even remember that it exists.\”

Francis Moore Lappe, author of \’Diet for a Small Planet\’, says, \”Stunningly original, grippingly personal, this book will shock you to your core while at the same time quickening your deepest yearnings for reconnection with the Earth.\”

Context Books can be contacted for ordering information at We encourage you to read this excellent book, and support Derrick who so generously offered his time (as well as proceeds from sales of his book at the event) to support of political prisoners.

The Global Warming Crisis

It is becoming increasingly certain both that human activity is causing global warming and that this warming will have grave effects on all life on the planet. The lack of any meaningful response to the crisis is staggering, although not totally unexpected: The current industrial/corporate order requires precisely the ever increasing resource consumption that causes global warming. Around the world, almost all human actions use fossil fuel energy, spewing carbon dioxide, the main green house gas, into the atmosphere.

Unlike many other \”problems\” caused by the current industrial/corporate economic system-sweatshops, hunger, human displacement-global warming, once it permanently changes the climate, is harder to reverse should people finally overthrow the current economic system. Conversely, overthrowing this order, which requires constant economic growth and exists without regard to human happiness or even survival-much less environmental sustainability-is required to attack green house warming in any meaningful way.

No longer a question

The science behind global warming due to human emissions of green house gases is becoming increasingly certain (see sidebar). Almost every day, a new study or report is released pointing to the grave environmental consequences associated with the daily unintentional intervention in the planet\’s climate and its atmosphere. Coral reefs may have 20 years left if current trends continue. Polar bears are likely to face extinction in our lifetimes. All of the marine species currently living off the coast of Monterey, CA may go extinct because the water temperature is anticipated to change too fast for them to adapt. Wildlife is precisely adapted to its particular habitat, where ever that may be, based of thousands of years of evolution. Seemingly subtle climate changes can upset the balance, and wildlife can\’t adapt or move fast enough to compensate.

And while human animals have many cleaver ways of adapting to rapid climate change, it is likely that famine, disease, displacement and hardship will grip societies around the world in the coming decades, primarily harming those who are poorest and least able to survive now, much less cope with climate change.

Corporate hot air

International efforts to limit further emissions of green house gases, organized as the Kyoto Protocol, broke down this winter, largely because of US insistence on provisions that would protect powerful corporate interests who don\’t want any limitations on their fossil fuel profits. Don\’t look for any improvement during the oil-funded Bush years. Even if international limits had been imposed, the Kyoto plan only sought to limit emissions to 1990 levels-global carbon dioxide levels were increasing almost 1 percent a year based on those levels.

One of the Bush Administration\’s first policy initiatives looks like it will be Congressional approval of an alleged \”Energy Policy\” which purports to be the first major \”overhaul\” of US energy policy in over a decade. The plan is focused on reducing US dependence on foreign oil and ignores global warming and the need to stop fossil fuel consumption entirely.

Currently, 56 percent of US oil is imported. Under a bill proposed by senator Murkowski of Alaska, that rate would drop 6 whole percent, to 50 percent. This would be accomplished by drilling for oil in a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and by giving tax breaks to rich oil companies to subsidize economically marginal drilling elsewhere. Although the environmentalists\’ focus is on how oil drilling will destroy the Alaska wilderness, the more serious danger is that the drilling and consumption of the cheap fuel in the lower 48 will permit more carbon to be poured into the atmosphere, changing the climate of both the protected and the destroyed Alaska wilderness alike.

The current \”energy crisis\” in California is likewise being used as an excuse for more fossil fuel consumption-as if the green house effect did not exist-rather than as a wake up call for the need for fundamental change. The dramatic rise in prices of energy in California are hurting the poor (and everyone else) and it is a scandal that energy companies have manufactured a deregulation crisis so they can justify super-profits.

But the answer to the California \”energy crisis\” isn\’t to build more gas fired power plants, which is the Bush Administration\’s favorite solution, as well as governor Davis\’. It isn\’t even to start publicly owned utilities to build gas fired power plants. You can\’t \”fix\” a system when it isn\’t broken-when it is functioning exactly as it was designed-to enrich a tiny minority and consume the planet.

Who is responsible?

The US currently emits more greenhouse gasses per capita than any other nation on earth. In 1997, the United States, with scarcely 4 percent of the world\’s population, emitted about one-fifth of total global greenhouse gases and a quarter of human carbon dioxide emissions. An average person in the United States is responsible for emitting 20 times as much carbon dioxide associated with fossil fuel combustion as a person in either India or Indonesia according to a 1998 International Energy Agency study.

Even compared to other \”developed\” (i.e. heavily industrialized and fossil fuel dependent) nations, US green house gas emissions are extremely high. Per person fuel combustion emissions for a person in the US are exactly double that of a person in England or Russia, almost three times the emissions of a person in France or Italy, and 5 times the emissions of a Mexican.

Every modern activity in the United States contributes to these carbon emissions. 31 percent of the total is related to transportation, 33 to industry, 20 percent to residential uses, and 16 percent to commercial uses. All sectors of fossil fuel use are increasing. For example, the number of miles driven per person from 1987 to 1997 increased 33 percent, with the number of gallons of fuel burned for each mile also increasing as cars have gotten larger. Fuel economy of passenger vehicles decreased by 6.6 percent between 1987 and 1997.

It is easy to point all blame at corporate action- \”How can what I do in my house in any way compare to that smog-belching factory?!\” But residential activity accounts for a full 20 percent of US carbon emissions. A full 62% of the carbon emitted by transportation is not from industrial transportation but private cars and light trucks (SUVs!). To the degree that our lives fit the pattern of consumption created and sustained by the dominant corporate paradigm, we are complicit in global ecosystem destruction. Do you live in the suburbs and drive to the city for work? Or do you live in the city and drive to suburban outlet malls to buy bulk hamburger, soda, and discount movies? Do you feel like you have a choice?

This consumptive American lifestyle is shaped by numerous forces, none of which give a shit about our true best interests. Although we are not fully responsible, we must take responsibility because the profit-addicted corporate Hydra will not. The people who care have a humongous task: to change both personal consumption habits AND to stop the corporate/industrial production system.

The capitalist forces fueling climate change are not all-powerful. Evolution will continue. The hundred-year scale of current climate change and energy use predictions is barely a drop in the bucket of geologic time. Humans, even \”influential\” Americans, cannot defeat the forces of nature. The question is: are we clever enough to act in the immediate self-interest of our species (and other life on the planet-our biological brethren), to prevent massive suffering of our collective progeny?