America's War: a view from Europe

America divided; Bush in office because of nepotism; US teens on warships say the war is a crock of shit. War means certain chaos, soaring oposition around the globe. Intensified Muslim anti-western sentiment and retialiation. UN blackmailed, Afgani prisoners of war tortured.

From Europe, the setting for the evolving US attack on Iraq is clear. While the US pushes rhetoric of liberation, European English-language press consistently highlights the US imperialist, oil-driven agenda; the huge potential for a long, dirty, difficult war; and the lack of public support in the US, Europe, across the world.

It is widely acknowledged here in Europe that the US is acting on an imperialist agenda, driven primarily for the need for cheap, dependable oil supplies to fuel market growth, the US´s main imperialist tactic. The 8 European leaders who kowtowed to Bush in their letter of support for ´shared values of freedom´ are working furiously to erase the divide between Europe and the US, hoping to preserve their assumed status as the ´United States of Europe´ within US-lead capitalist world domination. As proof of US-EU power dynamics, the US has in fact offered EU membership to several new NATO states in the Balkans– without first checking with the EU! France and Germany are indeed representing the ´Old Europe´ of Rumsfeld´s pontifications, because they are unwilling to capitulate to their roles as US puppet markets and support the US war effort.

It´s hard here to forget that oil fuels the US market machine, and that Saudi Arabia, with 25% of the known oil reserves, is on the cusp of becoming an anti-US Muslim fundamentalist regime. Between Al-Queda´s Saudi roots, and the political turmoil in Venezuela, the US is forced to look elsewhere- towards Iraq, of course– to ensure continued market growth. In fact, some people are suggesting that France is hanging back from war support in order to secure better oil contracts for its companies in Iraq. Ultimately, though, it´s believed France not have the power (or desire) to block US desires within UN Security Council, because, although people wistfully talk about ´the rule of international law´, it is easy here to see the UN as just one more tool of the US. In this sense, people here perceive the US as both an imperialist and a rogue state, operating outside of and in disregards to international law.

But although US motives for war are clear, there is much fear here that the war will not be a clean, quick war for the US, like in Afganistan. There´s much discussion of the potential for a long, dirty war, complete with destruction of Iraq´s already decaying oil infrastructure (despite publicized US plans to immediately protect the oil fields upon attack). The press here is less willing to assume that America´s might will easily quash any opposition, and that a coup within Iraq will come easily at US prodding. The press here entertains Saddam´s many strategic options, including forcing the war into cities (maximizing civilian death), into the desert (minimizing press coverage opportunities), and using friendly foreign pressure to keep the war away from Bagdad. Importantly, Saddam has apparently installed around 10 media outlets underground, to prevent a repeat of US-dominated war images during the Gulf War. Although commentators entertain the possibility of a quick, clean war, necessary for further US imperialist aims, people lean more towards the sad prospect of a world completely destablized by a difficult war, expensive oil prices, and intensely inflamed Islamic anti-western actions.

Even within the European corporate world, concerns about the war run deep, in comparison to the ever-bouyant optimism of US multinationals (particularly that of US oil corporations, who just might drown in their saliva as their Bush admin. cohorts prepare Iraq´s oil fields to be carved up). While war fears have driven the the Dow Jones industrial down since Jan. 1, markets in western Europe have also taken severe falls, up iron. Is the war truly Bush´s ecomomic stimulas plan, people ask?

With the exception of Britain, it´s hard to find a public in Europe that supports the war. People are strongly against a war without UN support, and even with UN backing, public support is scattered. Moreover, people here know that there´s a strong anti-war movement within the US, and that even though US public support grew after Bush´s State of the Union address, it´s quite possible that, like during Vietnam, public support will quickly wane. But it´s also popular here to portray the US public as hopelessly addicted to cheap gas and MTV, happily oblivious as the US marches towards the mirage of cheap oil and the European public watches in horror.

Here in Barcelona, even people in the comfortable upper middle classes are vocally not only against the war but against the capitalist system. People can point directly to capitalism as the cause of world environmental distruction and hollow lives. But what is there to do about it, they say, besides be nice to people and live comfortable lives?

Thus, several things are clear: well-informed people across the world don´t go for US imperialist shit, but frequently national governments don´t give a damn. The downfalls of capitalism are blindingly obvious, and people are ready to work towards change. But they don´t know where to start!

Revolutionary thinkers need to articulate ways of radically changing the capitalist system, and lives within the system, actions that people across society and the world can grasp. The anti-war movement is strong within the US and Europe, and can be a tool for refocussing the anti-globalization movement into an anti-capitalist movement. This war is proposed for the sake of the US market, which, if you believe the Business section, has been primarily supported over recent months by that catchphrase, ´consumer confidence´. If growth is what the US government is after, we must stop growth in order to stop the war. To be more than a newspaper article and a global moral boost, anti-war movements must adopt tactics to force economic slowdowns while at the same time providing infrastructure that would be lost on days off work and out of stores. Consumer confidence, the willingness of people to purchase and consume, is a giant force. To stop the war, world environmental destruction, and US imperialism, we must replace consumer confidence, essentially the American way of life, with confidence in the power of people to provide for ourselves.

Bush's Oily Moral Playground

By the time you read this, it appears likely that the US government will be at war with Iraq. It’s is hard to believe this could happen — that the US could fight such a bald war of aggression.

We have been born here on the most beautiful planet filled with light and colors and creatures and wonder. Our bodies, our voices, our minds offer so many opportunities for joy, pleasure, creation and love.

But somehow, amid all the beauty of life, the most violent, most hateful men have risen to power. All our human intelligence and creativity over the centuries has given these hateful men terrible weapons. These men rule the world’s richest, most powerful land.

What went wrong that they are driven to kill, destroy and hate? What went wrong that they would use lies and fear to justify the unjustifiable? How can these men be so self-satisfied, so smug, and so comfortable in their business suits while they order murder?

You don’t need to be a moral scholar to be against this war. Its something you learn when you’re 5 years old on the playground: you don’t hit first. You don’t start a fight against another kid whose not trying to fight you. You don’t make up lies about what the other kids is doing to justify hitting first, and then hit first. You don’t go across the world to hit a kid first in his front yard when that kid can’t get to your neighborhood.

Yes, things seem more complex to Bush in Bush’s world — this kid has oil.

Is this merely a psychological defect in a small number of rich, white, powerful men? Were they denied breastfeeding? Were they punished for masturbating?

No. Life on this planet left to itself is full of beauty and love. But somehow, human society has become diseased. It promotes death, not life. It organizes suffering, not joy. Most individual people know this, but aren’t sure how to escape the structures we have built around ourselves like a prison. Like a grave.

Out of the killing in Iraq and beyond, let us hope enough people see what power and authority has done. Lest we all be destroyed.

Silence Is Not an Option

People in the US are now in a very uncomfortable position. The government of the territory we live in is preemptively attacking other countries. It has accumulated the largest military on earth. It appears bent on empire and total world domination. It is ruled by a group of men who are very skillful in their use of fear, nationalism and lies to sway the population. These men aren’t accountable to anyone — if they want to order war, they are free to do so and no one can stop them.

But those of us living in the US don’t have to cooperate with this madness.

Those of us living here, in the heart of the aggressor, are in an uncomfortable position because we have to choose — are we Americans, or are we human beings on the planet Earth? If we’re human beings, we need to stand with the rest of the World, against America. Against this aggressor nation. We need to refuse to cooperate. We need to actively prevent the empire from killing our people — the people of the world. We need to join the war, and fight on the side of the people of the world, and against the USA.

This is a profoundly uncomfortable position because if we stand with the people of the world, our lives are at risk. We may be shot, blown up, tortured — killed by the aggressor American empire. If we stand with America, then we are already dead, for we have lost our soul and our humanity to ally ourselves with a monster of murder and domination.

Our position is uncomfortable because you can’t avoid making this choice. To remain silent, to go about our business while the US empire slaughters our people — this is to choose to be an American — to support the empire. Your work, your participation, your money, your silence makes the murder possible.

Now is not the time to be a good American and cooperate, even passively, with military aggression and murder.

If you think you can just wait this war out because it’s against someone else far away, think again. While the US has been building up its troops in the Middle East, the government has been proceeding with plans for a vastly expanded domestic surveillance and security state. In the same way that the US regime seeks total world military domination, the regime must also seek total internal military domination.

The US may be able to attack and defeat Iraq. But history has never permanently rewarded those who use naked military aggression. America’s war is going to unite the entire world against the American empire. When those of us here fight America, we join the rest of the world. And we ultimately struggle for our own liberation, because in seeking total power, the US empire must first defeat and destroy its own people.

January 18, 2003

500,000 Demand an End to the War

By the time all of you read this, the March on Washington against war in Iraq in late January will have started to recede into distant memory. Right now, we can still hope for peace, but perhaps the United States will have started to bomb Iraq (hey, maybe even North Korea!) by the time this issue of Slingshot hits the stands. Journalism lags behind history, and some might say that the January march will be irrelevant if there’s a war. The reality, though, is just the opposite. Whatever course of action the Bush administration takes, the January 18, 2003, March on Washington will remain a crucial day for the antiwar movement and for radical politics in the United States. For many who were there, it will be remembered as the day that American politics underwent a quantum shift.

The January march — held on one of the most frigid days of a bitter East Coast winter, as though to test people’s reserve —showed once and for all that ordinary American people are not unified around war and empire. Perhaps the most amazing thing about it was simply its size, especially given the news blackout that our media often gives to protests and to demonstrations. The rally filled up about two-thirds of the Washington Mall (the space between the Washington Monument and the Capitol, where Martin Luther King, JR’s, “I Have a Dream” speech was given). At about 1:00, people started marching the two-mile route to the Washington Navy Yard, a neighborhood where a lot of military people live. Three hours later, they were still marching strong, literally packed shoulder-to-shoulder across the wide Washington streets. Organizers estimated that 500,000 people were there; of course “official” estimates were lower. When we reached the top of Capitol Hill, I looked down and it was an amazing sight — the whole massive road full of people marching and carrying signs, and they just kept on coming with no sign that they would ever stop.

People came to Washington from all over the country: New York, Texas, North Carolina, Maine, Vermont, Chicago, Kansas, Washington, Connecticut, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa were just some of the signs that I saw. There were about 25 buses from New York City’s Local 1199/SEIU, the health and hospital workers’ union. People of all ages were at the march, from tons of high school students to the Grey Panthers from Detroit. While liberals have been shrieking about how the marches have been organized by Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.), a group affiliated with the Workers’ World Party, it didn’t really seem to make any difference in terms of who came to the march or what it felt like — a sign that some of the people who wish there was a different anti-war movement should just get out there and do some organizing instead of carping and making it harder for the people who are doing the work.

Even more astounding than the size of the crowd was how radical it was. The march was a cross-section of the American population, but it had a sharp class politics. There were lots of signs about the economics and class politics of war: “How Did Our Oil Get Under Their Sand?” “Bush, Iraq is Not Your Ranch.” “I Won’t Kill for Big Oil.” “Draft Jenna and Barbara.” “New Yorkers Against War” (with a big picture of the Twin Towers). “Remember the Maine…was a Lie.” The veterans’ organizations were fired up and noisy. Even the religious groups, of whom there were plenty, carried hard-edged signs: “Who Would Jesus Bomb?” Some people carried “Peace is Patriotic” signs, even some reading “Middle Class Homeowners for Peace” and “Soccer Moms for Peace.” Given the hysteria about A.N.S.W.E.R., such signs were quietly polemical. But they were also in the minority.

The anti-globalization movement and the revitalization of the labor movement helped bring a radical economics politics to the anti-war demonstration. But it also suggested that people aren’t going to experience this new era of war as protecting in their interests. Many people today know perfectly well that a war in Iraq — or Afghanistan, or Pakistan, or anywhere else — isn’t really about them. It isn’t going to make ordinary people in this country any safer or happier. It isn’t going to help them organize unions or get health insurance or find a job or make a living wage. It isn’t even going to protect them against terrorism. It’s just going to ask them to give their lives. The boom is over, the fantasies of the 1990s have gone up in smoke, and most people don’t see how bombing a country on the other side of the globe — let alone sending their kids to kill and die there, or going themselves — is going to make them one iota better off.

For most of American history, our country has had a very strong isolationist, even pacifist, political streak (though it’s also had a strong militarist and expansionist one). As a democracy — however partial — the United States has never been able to throw its people into war without protest. There was a brief window during which this was different: the Golden Age of the post-war boom, when the Korean and then Vietnam Wars were entered without much noise. Today, however, after twenty years of laissez-faire cruelty, it is pretty clear to everyone that the interests of the American empire and of ordinary working class Americans have nothing to do with each other any more. War, throughout history, has been a catalyst to broad, even revolutionary, social changes. The Civil War freed the American slaves. The First World War toppled the Tsar. The movement against the Vietnam War brought Richard Nixon down and helped spark the feminist and gay rights movements. Today, our quick wars seem easier to fight, and each one that we fight makes the next one seem easier. But in the end, there are always consequences. No one, not even the American elite, is immune to history. The March on Washington showed just how fragmented the supposed “consensus” of our country really is, and it suggested, for the first time in recent history, that if there is a war, more in American society may change than any of our leaders anticipate.

Coming back to New York City from the march, the city’s politics seemed fundamentally different. The whole city seems to be becoming politicized. A new demonstration is announced every day. Unions are taking resolutions against war. Calls for volunteers to help build the march on February 15th are going up on dozens of e-mail lists. There are antiwar stickers on phone booths and subway platforms. Restaurants offer “Antiwar Specials” (they seemed to be Mexican foods). Strangers with peace buttons are on the train and in the streets. One weekend, tens of thousands of “Win Without War” leaflets appeared all over the city, tucked into newspaper boxes and pasted to lampposts. People are calling up to peace groups, asking for posters and signing their names to petitions. Connections seem clearer, too: Every homeless person, every person begging for food, every child failing in school, every New Yorker without insurance — the money that could house and feed and heal them is going instead to war.

In the days after September 11th, there were vigils and demonstrations in Union Square downtown, dozens of chains of people holding hands and singing and crying for peace. I’ve thought about them these past few weeks, since the March on Washington. In some ways, living in a city that has been bombed helps us to see how fragile and precious the city is, how easily it is destroyed in an instant. If the March on Washington is any indication, there may be more and more Americans who are committed to making sure that it does not happen in our name ever again. And if enough people take this idea seriously enough, the whole course of our history seems more open than it has for some time.

Step It Up Punk!

I moved out to the San Francisco Bay Area about a year and a half ago with two years of organizing under my belt and high hopes of utopian radicalism I was sure would transform me. What I found was swarms of liberals, separate group of judgmental disillusioned activists, and dozens of the most boring marches and rallies I have ever attended.

As a disillusioned black bloc stylist and an initiator of radicalism in the East I was deeply disappointed and unsure of how to approach organizing in an environment that felt so foreign and stagnant.

After hearing about the protest on January 18 I was delighted to spot a blac block flier for a breakaway march (laughing at the “wear comfortable black clothing”) I felt optimistic. I decided to break out my old bandanna, bring along my camera, wipe the dust from my action first aid kit, and lend my voice and body to the anarchist tradition I’d been missin’.

My first impression of the masses that filled San Francisco was positive. Although numbers were not as impressive as those in Washington, DC. The streets were swarming with a general mood that held more determination and militancy than I had expected. Organizers estimated 200,000 were in attendance.

When the breakaway march began we were a mixed group of blac block, pink block, punks, radicals without stylistic statements, and confused liberals who were unaware of their fate. We were 1000 strong in the beginning and ended with approximately 200 after a militant tour of San Francisco that visited the financial center, smashing windows and graffitting symbols of US. oppression and capitalist filth, such as, the SF Chronicle, CitiCorp, Victoria’s Secret (has anyone figured out what it is yet???), the INS building, and the anarchist delight-Starbucks. Two were arrested and no injuries were reported.

I left the escapade excited, my head whirring with thoughts and questions. The militancy, size, and organization of the march was impressive and reassured me that the anti-capitalist community is indeed growing. Clearly, January 18, 2003 was an important turning point. Still, I was left with the same questions that I always have after smashing up a city…what next? What else?

How many newspaper boxes must we knock over before war is ended? How many windows must we smash before we effectively smash the state?

While the march was successful and inspiring I also worry that the most radical and militant of us are not using our energies to “push the envelope” as the saying goes. That there is a lack of discipline and focus.

The police reaction to the breakaway march left an uneasy impression on me. Their presence was minimal and I was completely awed at how we were left to do our bidding with minimal annoyance from law enforcement.

It made me think about how change is never comes without sacrifice and struggle. We are on the verge of a shift in consciousness and with the inspiration of mass demonstrations and militant anti-capitalist marches, it is time for us to step forward and carry our message forth in new and creative ways.

We have to use the momentum and vigor to inspire those in fear to step forward and defy. The reward is worth the sacrifice. A lock down on a bridge, a hunger strike in a school hallway, strategic blockades…creative and daring declarations of conviction in different places every day, everywhere-each one inspiring and giving courage to those too afraid to stand up; this is what it will take to move forward. It is the daring action of one person that has often inspired mass movements.

Block up February 16 but take it a step forward and stand up as individuals or in groups and disrupt, speak up, and push for a new world with creativity and militancy the next day as well.

A Tree Named Jerry?

Tree Sits

Dragon fly, wren, fireweed, lupine, sequoia, butterfly…

Are these names of forest-dependant species? Yes, in a manner of speaking…They are the arboreal dwellers of the Homo sapien variety who are standing-and sitting-strong to defend the remaining old growth trees. And then there are the names they have given their host trees: Luna, Mariah, Moment, Marvelous, Mesmerize, Jezebel, Jerry… A tree named Jerry?! Its not for me to second-guess the inter-species relationships that develop. Those bonds are deep and give strength to those riding out 50-mph winds and torrential rains under flimsy tarps on a 4-ft. by 6-ft. platform.

The tactic of tree-sitting has blossomed in recent months on California’s north coast. Most tree-sits rotate people through, and while Pacific Lumber Company (PL) employed climbers have dismantled some, a few have been up for extended periods of time. Remedy celebrated her 28th birthday in the tree Jerry on Jan. 3, about 2 weeks prior to her 10-month anniversary. Wren, a young woman from New Jersey, climbed into her perch within shouting distance of Remedy last May, and Mystique, who climbed a tree in September still remains aloft.

Those three women are in the Freshwater watershed, home to the majority of the tree-sits. There are also sits in the Mattole, on Gypsy Mountain (where activist David Gypsy Chain was killed by an angry logger in 1998) and in nearby Grizzly Creek where PL is logging in occupied marbled murrelet habitat.

PL climbers recently dismantled a tree-sit in the company’s “Demonstration Forest” where old growth trees are being logged nearly across the road from the Avenue of the Giants. Tree-dwellers are holding strong there since early November, riding through assaults from PL employees, confiscation of gear, and on Nov. 16, the physical extraction of two young forest defenders from high in trees. PL’s climber Eric strapped harnesses on the two while they were naked, used pain compliance holds and lowered them down to the waiting cameras of other PL workers. After spending three weeks in jail with an outrageous $100,000 bail, 19-year-old “Abstract” Jane Marsh, along with her colleague Jaime who likewise spent 3 weeks incarcerated, filed a complaint against the climbers and Pacific Lumber. Prominent political attorney Tony Serra has taken their case.

The art of arboreal living has deep roots, as it were, both in the eco-direct action movement and otherwise. The aboriginal tree people of New Guinea called Mava live in tree houses 75 feet up and developed a sophisticated yodeling-like language to call from tree to tree. The Efe, an African pygmy tribe climb trees to gather fruit, and often gather in the canopy in numbers approaching two dozen, using vines to bridge their way between trees. Malaysia’s Dayak people are expert tree climbers and similarly employ direct action to defend their forests against destructive development.

Earth First! pioneered the tactic in the ancient Douglas fir forest of central Oregon’s Millennium Grove in 1985, when a rock climber, arriving on the scene to see what he could do to help, adapted the gear and techniques of his sport to tree climbing.

Tree-sits are rarely about one tree, and bring a powerful symbolism to any forest campaign, as well as mainstream support, fascination, magic and heart. There is no more powerful way to exhibit a commitment to the forest than to embrace it as it holds you in its branches while its family falls around it. The level of risk and personal sacrifice is a statement of the urgency of an issue that needs no verbal articulation. There are also great rewards. Life in the canopy brings one close to a world most of us never have the privilege of observing. There are species, like tree voles, that rarely venture to the ground-a whole community of flora and fauna that is endemic to the forest canopy.

But what the sitters also bear witness to, all too often, is huge trees crashing to the forest floor, shaking their own tree, and low-flying helicopters creating wind storms high in the branches as they haul trees out on long cables. Tree-sitting is a tactic that is not an end unto itself, but an awesome act of commitment and courage that brings us all closer to our goals. Support your local tree-sitter!

Tree sits always need material support (gear, food, batteries), money for cell phone bills and ground support. For information, call North Coast Earth First! at 707-825-6598 or visit

Tired of the Name Butterfly?

You know all those groovy forest names all the Earth Firsters! are always using? Well, somehow they just don’t seem appropriate for us urban activists. I mean, calling yourself Butterfly or Lichen or Moss or Mushroom when you hardly ever venture beyond the streets that connect your apartment to the subway to work to the cafe to the laundry-mat — where’s the Lichen?

But there are good reasons to use something like forest names. In this time of increased domestic repression of activists — when almost any expression of protest can get you labeled as a terrorist or even an enemy combatant — it might be a good idea to be a bit vague about who you really are. I mean, if you’re planning on going to a million person anti-war march where people may storm the Bay Bridge or the local army base or oil refinery, best not to bring your drivers license ID. And because the government has undercover cops spread out in every crowd, because there are fancy listening devices installed around the city and the video cameras can read your lips, don’t let your friends holler your real name in the heat of the riot.

Here are some good urban names that we thought of that more correctly express the reality of modern urban activism. These are the wonderful things our urban industrial world brings us, just like the forest activists name themselves after the wonderful things provided by the natural world. Feel free to send us your own ideas: Asphalt, Barcode, BART, Biohazard, Boxcutter, Cinder Block, Concrete, Cubicle, Drain, Exhaust, Gas pump, Girder, Gridlock, Gutter, Jackhammer, Latté, Loft, Lugnut, Methle Bromide, Overpass, Parking Lot, Pesticide, Roadkill, Sawzall, Sewerpipe, Shingle, Shopping Mall, Skid, Sludge, Smog, Squalor, Tire, Trashcan, 2X4, Turnstile, Urine, Workstation, ECT.

Tongass Forest Under Seige

The Tongass National Forest, located in southeast Alaska, covers 16.7 million acres and is one the last virgin coastal rain forests still relatively untouched by industry. That’s over twice the size of, say, Connecticut. These forests are currently under siege by the timber industry, and an influx of direct action activists is needed to save them.

Thirty percent of the intact coastal temperate rainforest in the WORLD is right here in Southeast Alaska in the Tongass National Forest. Much of the Tongass is rock, ice and muskeg; the ”productive” forest — sitka spruce, western hemlock and yellow cedar — is only one third of that 16.7 million acres. Over half of the high volume old-growth has already been removed; by contrast only 10% of the low volume timber has been removed.

This year marks the centennial anniversary of the Tongass. The National Forest Service’s “celebration” consist of special publications, talks, presentations, and other forms of congratulatory fanfare. But while the confetti settles, the timber industry is just getting started.

In 1980, Congress passed the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act. This protected 5.4 million acres of the Tongass, most of it conveniently rock and ice. Right now the rest of the Tongass is under a Resource and Land Management Plan (TLMP) which was originally released in 1997. This plan utterly fails to protect 44 wild and scenic watersheds, which are believed to contain half of the salmon-producing streams in the Tongass. It also leaves open to development 18 high value community use areas. Forty percent of the families in the area get a quarter of their yearly food supply off the land in these community use zones and most are outraged by their potential destruction. The plan also fails to protect marbled murrelets, Alexander wolves and Queen Charlotte goshawks, among other species.

In 1997 the TLMP release was immediately met with thirty-three separate appeals from various environmental organizations, commercial fishers, and individuals living in the Tongass area who depend on it for their inspiration and livelihoods. The appeals resulted in a new TLMP released in 1999. This revised TLMP comprehensively protected those 44 wild scenic watersheds as well as the 18 high value community use areas. So comprehensively in fact, that the tinder companies were forced to challenge the 1999 TLMP and succeeded in reinstituting the original 1997 version in January of 2003.

Currently, the Allowable Sale Quantity stands at 267 million board feet yearly. In 2002, the Forest Service managed to sell only 180 million board sq. feet of Tongass wood. This is despite having prepared for the sales of the full 267 million. It seems that the Feds are desperately pushing Tongass timber on a world market which does not even want or need it.

Southeast Alaska is a land where the mountains jut right out of the ocean and where grizzly bears wander around downtown. The Tongass is home to the largest convention of bald eagles in the world. Surprising to some, the average winter temperature is just above freezing and driving your gas-powered automobile from town to town isn’t even an option. The main public transportation is the ferry.

The largest protected wilderness complex in the world (27 million acres, the Glacier Bay, Wrangell-St.Elias, Kluane UNESCO World Heritage area) is in my back yard. There is no place as wild as this in the lower 48. You may think that the difference between 1 million acres and 27 million acres of wilderness is negligible, but you would just be advertising the fact that you have never breathed deeply of the air coming off of a glacier which extends into wild land further than you can really comprehend.

The Tongass is threatened. While there are many mainstream enviros working hard for “safer legislation,” there is no EARTH FIRST! movement to get in the way. No crusty ferals lurking in the woods with fire in their eyes, scheming to save these trees and forests, watersheds and wild wolves, brown bears and goshawks. Where are the critters that have devoted their lives to ending the age where Homo Sapiens rape and plunder the natural world in the name of “progress?”

We need you to be here. You need to be here. What are you waiting for?

FCC Raids Berkeley Liberation Radio

Agents of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), accompanied by about a dozen armed U.S. marshals in full SWAT team regalia, raided Berkeley Liberation Radio (BLR — 104.1-FM) December 11. This was to serve a *sealed* arrest warrant on our equipment (not on our programmers — so far). They carted off our transmitter and associated gear, antenna, CD players, tape machines, turntables, computer, etc., all of which took years to accumulate. The FCC stated we were in violation of the law, as we had no license to broadcast at that frequency.

At the time that BLR began broadcasting, there was no license class available for BLR’s low power transmission. BLR broadcasts 40 watts of power that nicely fit within a small opening in the FM dial and reaches a few miles from the transmitter to serve the local community. Obtaining an FCC license would have required a higher powered transmitter that would have served a different purpose/community (and also required additional thousands of dollars in fees and testing data — beyond the means of a truly community based radio station.)

The new LPFM (low powered FM) licensing class that is now offered by the FCC (in response to the pressure from activists and unlicensed broadcasters such as BLR) was gutted by the National Public Radio and National Association Of Broadcasters lobbied Congress before any new stations hit the airwaves. Congress amended the new LPFM law so that stations could be licensed only if there was an unused gap in the FM dial roughly the size of a Cadillac, or in other words only in a situation that will arise in your average deep south rural town.

Despite the raid, as of press time, BLR is Back On The Air with a different transmitter. BLR has voted to begin broadcasts over the internet. Should the FCC return to seize the new transmitter, internet broadcasts would likely continue, which could begin a cat and mouse game with the FCC, as numerous people not associated with BLR picked up the internet feed and rebroadcast it with their own transmitters from shifting locations.

BLR, which took over 104.1 FM from Free Radio Berkeley which was shut down by an FCC injunction in 1998, has broadcast news and commentary as well as music and spoken word for three years. The station gives youth and others not usually represented in corporate media a chance to learn radio broadcasting skills, to exercise their rights to free speech and discuss issues of community interest.

At the time of the raid, BLR’s lawyers were in communication with the FCC about the pending licensing matter. Thus the sudden raid appears to be part of the new climate of repression of civil liberties that is accompanying the recent rush to war. In such times, it is more vital than ever to preserve every citizen’s right to free speech and inquiry and to keep all channels of communication open.

For more information, contact BLR at PO Box 5044, Berkeley, CA 94705,

Pepper Spray In the Eyes of the Court

Forest activists suing the government whose eyes were swabbed with pepper spray by police during protests in 1997 are finally scheduled for trial on May 12 in the Federal Court of Judge Von Walker. This is the same judge that threw the case out of court saying that no reasonable juror would think that the swabbing of pepper spray with Q-tips directly into the eyes of non-violent protesters would constitute unreasonable force. He has since been overruled strongly by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals claiming “It would be clear to a reasonable officer that using pepper spray against the protesters was excessive under the circumstances.”

Judge Vo Walker has moved the trial from the Federal Building in San Francisco to Eureka, California.

The activist plaintiffs have offered to settle this case by mediating an agreement with law enforcement to desist using chemical agents on non-violent protesters,

The legal team that helped win the Judi Bari case against the FBI and Oakland Police has agreed to work on the trial. Stay tuned for details about court dates and support needed. Your tax deductable donations are also greatly appreciated and can be sent to the Pepper Spray Fund c/o Trees Foundation, PO Box 2202, Redway, CA 95560.