Dec. 30, 2006 news.infoshop.org
Friends and Supporters of Lawrence ABC,
In 2006, Lawrence ABC has sent over 3,000 pieces of free literature to prisoners across the country. Unfortunately, due to declining support, last spring we began to limit our distribution to male prisoners in Kansas, Missouri, Oregon, the Polunsky Unit in Texas, as well as to female prisoners in any state. Even with these cutbacks, we do not have the funds to send reading material to all of the prisoners who request it.
It has been many months since we have come to you asking for donations to run our lit distribution. In the time that we have not been actively soliciting donations, we have received only a few contributions. The number of people working to fill the requests is very small; one person does most of the work with sporadic help from a few others.
After much soul-searching, the main organizer of the lit distro has come to the conclusion that things must change if the distro is going to survive. If these changes do not happen, LABC will end the lit distro by the summer of 2007.
What does LABC need to keep the lit distro functioning?
Our greatest need is money. We either need individuals to commit to giving us a certain amount of money each month, or we need folks organizing fundraisers for us every couple of months. Of course, a combination of these two ways of raising money would also work. The members of LABC have not been able to both fill lit requests and raise the money that we need to pay for the expenses of sending the lit. We have also found it is not sustainable to try to pay for all of our expenses out of our own pockets. This project needs to be supported financially by the larger community if it is going to continue.
Less urgent but also helpful would be people who can commit to helping fill lit requests each week. We need to train one or two people who could agree to spend a couple of hours each week at a specified time on a specified day working to fill lit requests. A couple of dependable and reliable people helping fill requests could help ease the burden we now face.
Thanks to everyone who has helped with the LABC lit distro since we started it in 2002. We appreciate all the time and money that friends and supporters have put into this project. Even if the project ends, we will still consider it a success because it helped hundreds of prisoners learn and grow.
Checks and money orders made payable to Lawrence ABC and well-concealed cash can be sent to P. O. Box 1483 Lawrence, KS 66044
Donations via paypal can be sent using the email address email@example.com
Questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, December 31, 2006
Dec. 30, 2006 news.infoshop.org
Thursday, December 28, 2006
The ProLibertad Freedom Campaign
ProLibertad Hotline: 718-601-4751
Download the December Edition of our newsletter El Coqui Libre by going to:
http://www.prolibertadweb.com/page10.html and download thePDF version.
Oscar Lopez Rivera and Jose Perez Gonzalez both celebrate their
birthdays on January 6th and the 14th respectively.
The ProLibertad Freedom Campaign is calling on all our allies and
supporters to send both these brothers birthday cards.
Since they can’t celebrate with their families at home, let us send
them many greetings,
salutations and love over the mail.
Their addresses are listed below. If you want to send them money
review the BOP
regulations go to: http://www.prolibertadweb.com/page5.html
HAPPY BIRTHDAY OSCAR LOPEZ RIVERA AND JOSE PEREZ GONZALEZ!!
Oscar Lopez Rivera
P.O. Box 12015
Terre Haute, IN 47801
José Pérez González
PO Box 5888
Yazoo City, MS 39194
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
from Guerrilla News Network
Nadia Winstead was notified today, Friday, December 22, that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston’s contempt order. In mid November, Winstead’s attorney, Mark
Goldrosen filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court after Judge Illston found Winstead in contempt for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury. The reason for the reversal is currently unknown, and Winstead is awaiting further details.
This is a huge victory for Winstead, but the battle is not over, as the case will likely go back before Judge Illston with the Ninth Circuit’s decision in mind.
More information about the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision will be released as it becomes available.
Please stay tuned, as future demonstrations and court dates may be announced on short notice.
In late May ‘05 Winstead and at least 10 other Bay Area activists were subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury claiming to be investigating the 2004 disappearance of Daniel Andreas Sandiego.
In August ‘05 Winstead and several other of those subpoenaed to testify filed a motion to quash the subpoenas, arguing that the subpoenas were unconstitutional. The motion was denied by Judge Illston. Several weeks later Winstead and others filed a motion for disclosure of illegal electronic surveillance. The motion was deemed premature and too broad and thus denied as well by Illston.
Winstead originally appeared before the grand jury in January ‘06 and again in August ‘06, each time asserting her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
In September 2006, Winstead’s attorney, Mark Goldrosen, filed a second electronic surveillance motion in an attempt force the U.S. government to disclose any illegal electronic surveillance that may have influenced their decision to subpoena Winstead to the grand jury. The government argued that they did not have to reveal their reasons for subpoenaing Winstead, garnered illegally or not, and Judge Illston again denied the motion.
Three weeks later, Winstead was found in contempt by Judge Illston for asserting her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and ordered to jail. Winstead’s attorney then appealed the decision with the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals. The Ninth Circuit granted Winstead bail pending their decision.
This grand jury is one of many, targeting activists, convened around the country. It has been identified as one part of the U.S. government’s stepped-up efforts to silence dissent among eco and animal liberationists, now widely referred to as “The Green Scare”.
For more information on grand juries and the “Green Scare”, visit www.FBIwitchHunt.com
Saadat refused to participate in the proceedings and to recognise the legitimacy of the tribunal as part of the Zionist occupation. The next hearing was announced for Mid January 2007.
Observers of the hearings reported that Saadat was brought to the court at early morning and had to wait in a metal container for hours. One could see the signs of the shackles on his arms. In both hearings he was almost beaten by the soldiers who tried to prevent him from speaking with the press. In one of the hearings they dragged the Al Jazeera journalist out of the room. The Ofer camp is known for cruel treatment and torture.
The former secretary general of the PFLP, Abu Ali Mustafa, was murdered by Israel in 2001. Abu Ali Mustafa had been the highest ranking Palestinian official fallen victim to the Israeli “extra judicial killing” so far. (Only recently the Israeli high court ruled that such murders do not violate the law.) Shortly after the assassination a commando of the PFLP killed the Israeli tourism minister Rechawam Zeevi of the ultra-Zionist Moledet party in retaliation. The party is known to promote the “transfer” of the Palestinians that means their complete forced expulsion from Palestine.
In 2002 Arafat ordered the arrest of Abu Ali Mustafa’s successor, Ahmed Sadat, under Israeli pressure. While in custody in Arafat’s Moqata the Israeli army laid siege to the president’s building. As part of the agreement to end the siege Saadat was transferred to Jericho in a Palestinian prison under the surveillance of U.S. and British soldiers.
The Palestinian constitutional court, however, ruled that Saadat’s imprisonment was illegal.
On March 14, 2006, the Israeli army besieged and stormed the Jericho detention centre kidnapping Saadat.
Israel announced that they would try Saadat for the murder of Zeevi. Despite the notorious interrogation techniques of Shabak intelligence service the attorney general Menachem Mazuz had to admit after a while that there was no evidence for an indictment in front of a criminal court for the killing of Zeevi. So Saadat’s case was transferred to a military court where he is indicted for 19 offences all revolving around his membership in the PFLP: membership in a forbidden organization, holding a post in a forbidden organization, incitement for a speech delivered after the murder of the Abu Ali Mustafa and conspiracy to kill for having encouraged people to use Molotovcocktails.
We call upon all democratic people to mobilise for the liberation of Ahmed Saadat whose only crime is to struggle against the occupation, a right to which he is entitled also according to international law. The next occasion will be the next hearing in January 2007.
Free Ahmed Saadat!
Saturday, December 23, 2006
The Bankrupt-Your-Family Calling Plan
Studies of prison inmates clearly show that keeping them in contact with friends and family is vital to giving them a chance to create an honest life after jail instead of committing new crimes that land them right back behind bars. Yet the simple act of picking up the phone to call home can be bankrupting for inmates and their families.
The cruel and counterproductive system now in place around the country charges them as much as six times the going rate for collect calls placed from inside state prisons. The collect-call service providers keep a stranglehold on the business by paying the state prisons a legalized kickback called a “commission.”
These costs are borne by spouses, parents and other collect-call recipients who typically come from the country’s poorest families. Worse still, these families can be barred from receiving a prisoner’s collect call at all until they open costly accounts with the same companies that provide the prison phone service.
With bills that sometimes reach into the hundreds of dollars a month, families must often choose between talking to a jailed loved one and paying the rent. The lost contact is especially crushing for imprisoned parents, who make up more than half the national prison population and are often held in prisons hundreds of miles away from their children.
A bill that went nowhere in Congress this year would have mandated fair rates for interstate calls made from prison. The bill, introduced by Representative Bobby Rush, Democrat of , would also have required prisons to use both the collect-calling system and the less expensive debit-calling system. Used in federal prisons, debit calling lets inmates use computer-controlled accounts to pay for easily monitored calls to specified phone numbers.
The collect-call-only system is being challenged in court in a number of states, including , where a closely watched case is scheduled to be argued before the state’s highest court in early January. The suit rightly argues that the telephone markup is a hidden levy on families who already support the prison system through their taxes.
State prison officials say the money is used to pay for programs that benefit inmates. But it also gouges the poorest citizens — driving them deeper into poverty — to pay for prison services that the state is obligated to provide. It might be legal, but it is also counterproductive and morally indefensible.
Friday, December 22, 2006
FLAMES OF DISSENT:
The local spark that ignited an eco-sabotage boom — and bust
BY KERA ABRAHAM
Part V: The Ashes
More than a decade ago, a 21-year-old Lacey Phillabaum danced barefoot in a blue sundress on the downtown Federal Building lawn. A recent UO graduate, eco-radical writer and defender of the old-growth trees at Warner Creek, she jumped with other activists to the live lyrics of Casey Neil's "Dancing on the Ruins of Multinational Corporations."
Nine and a half years ago, an emboldened Phillabaum watched a truck roll within arm's length of a fellow activist during a forest defense protest on a highway near Detroit, Ore. Less than a month later, she and other Earth First! Journal editors defiantly perched in doomed downtown Eugene trees until police pepper-sprayed them down.
Seven years ago, after quitting the journal, Phillabaum joined the protests against the WTO in Seattle. As the host of Tim Lewis' documentary Breaking the Spell, she later defended the actions of the black-clad anarchists who looted and vandalized corporations they'd viewed as destroyers of the Earth.
Five and a half years ago, Phillabaum acted as the lookout during the arson of a University of Washington horticulture center — a crime she committed in concert with her new boyfriend, Stan Meyerhoff, and other activists. On the same night in Clatskanie, Ore., eco-radicals torched the offices and trucks of Jefferson Poplar Farm. The coordinated arsons, executed in the name of the Earth Liberation Front, were intended as a statement against genetic engineering.
But by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a combination of mounting paranoia and infighting had shattered Eugene's eco-radical scene like glass in storefront windows at the Battle of Seattle. Phillabaum and Meyerhoff moved first to Bend and later to Charlottesville, Va., where she wrote for an alternative newsweekly and he studied engineering. They appeared to be on a straight path, their criminal past left in ashes.
Until December of last year, when the FBI busted Meyerhoff for participating in nearly a dozen of 20 environmentally motivated sabotage acts across the West between 1996 and 2001. Phillabaum turned herself in soon after and began working as an unnamed cooperator with the feds. (The bust may explain why she called off a freelance assignment for EW on "sustainable" beef production last winter. "I am having some heavy family problems," she wrote in a Feb. 24 email, "and I thought they were clearing up but they are not." As recently as Autumn 2006, Phillabaum was listed as a copy editor for Eugene Magazine.)
Today, Phillabaum is facing three to five years in jail — or 25, if federal prosecutors can nail her as a terrorist — because she'd slipped, even briefly, from the Earth Day of above-ground activism into the Earth Night of underground sabotage.
Phillabaum is one of 12 defendants who have pleaded guilty to a flare of environmentally motivated arsons in the federal sting known as Operation Backfire. One targeted activist has pleaded not guilty, another committed suicide in jail, and four are fugitives. One more, the government's first informant, lives in Eugene and has not been indicted. The cooperators face recommended sentences of three to about 16 years (for Phillabaum and Meyerhoff, respectively), but federal prosecutors have said they will try to tack 20-year "terrorism enhancements" onto each sentence.
The 10 defendants before the Oregon courts are scheduled for sentencing in April. Washington defendant Briana Waters will face trial in May, and Phillabaum and Jennifer Kolar — whose plea deals may hinge on their testimonies against Waters — are to be sentenced in July.
The domino effect of the arrests and cooperation agreements have been surreal for local eco-radicals who knew the defendants. Generally speaking, second only to the community's disdain for the authorities is its disappointment with the cooperators. Most loathed is Jake Ferguson, the apparent ringleader of the eco-saboteurs and the feds' primary informant, who still walks free; U.S. Attorney Karin Immergut has said that prosecutors haven't yet decided "what to do with him."
Nearly as resented is Meyerhoff, apparently the feds' secondary informant, followed by Phillabaum and Kolar, who likely began working with authorities around spring 2006. Many local eco-radicals are likewise upset with Chelsea Gerlach, Kevin Tubbs, Kendall Tanksersley, Darren Thurston and Suzanne Savoie, who had begun cooperating by July.
Most of the community insiders who spoke with EW maintain their support for Daniel McGowan, Jonathan Paul, Nathan Block and Joyanna Zacher, who struck an unusual deal with prosecutors allowing them to confess to their own crimes without incriminating others, and Olympia resident Briana Waters, who maintains her innocence.
"What's upsetting is how quickly people are folding and how namby-pamby and weak Earth First! looks when you compare it to the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement, where people have held out for decades without talking," said former Earth First! Journal co-editor Jim Flynn. "It just makes our movement look weak and soft and middle-class. For people like me, who have spent years in the movement, it's embarrassing. How will we recruit new people?"
But another movement veteran, former Earth First!er James Johnston, attacks not the cooperators but the people who criticize them. "It's a bunch of dimwits who talk a big talk about arson and anarchism and a bunch of other crap," he wrote by email. "Now they don't seem to have anything better to do than make up bunch of lies about the people who actually did the arsons and ARE taking responsibility for it."
Johnston, an ex-boyfriend of Phillabaum's, sat next to her at the Dec. 11 sentencing hearing in Eugene. Other activists in the courtroom avoided them both.
Eugene's eco-radical era was a fire that blazed through town for half a decade, bringing together Earth First!ers, anarchists, artists, feminists and animal advocates who rejected authority and envisioned a freer, greener world. Their flame manifested in art projects, housing cooperatives, forest defense campaigns, anti-globalization rallies, independent media and, notoriously, the flare of environmentally motivated arsons.
By mid-2001 that eco-radical fire had consumed itself, sputtering out as activists split over dogmatic differences and personality clashes. In subsequent years federal surveillance pressed down like a fog, nearly extinguishing the remnant embers.
How did this fire, and Operation Backfire, change the local activist landscape? What grew from the ashes?
It may no longer be so radical, but Eugene's environmentalist community continues to nurture seeds sown at the peak of the movement in the late '90s. Volunteers with the Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team (NEST), a group formed out of the Fall Creek forest defense campaign, still scout for red tree vole nests in an effort to battle timber sales on public lands. Cascadia Wildlands Project, a forest advocacy group founded in 1997 by James Johnston, regularly brings legal challenges to federal logging projects; Jim Flynn is CWP board president, and another former EF!J co-editor, Josh Laughlin, is director.
The eco-anarchist TV show Cascadia Alive! ended in 2004, but Tim Lewis is currently working to archive the shows for the UO library, and his documentaries of the Warner Creek blockade and the WTO riots are now available on DVD. Green Anarchy magazine, launched around 2001 by Robin Terranova and other local radicals, still publishes out of Eugene, while Earth First! Journal, which was headquartered locally from 1993 to 2001, has moved to Tuscon, Ariz. The journal struggles to stay afloat, with about one-third the subscribers it had in 1997.
In the Whiteaker neighborhood, eco-anarchist hangout Icky's Teahouse is gone, but Tiny Tavern carries on. The Ant Farm, an activist crash-pad, has folded, but the Shamrock House remains, with its "Free Wall" covered in anarchist art. The Jawbreaker gallery, founded by Warner Creek activist Stella Lee Anderson, still hosts alternative art shows, and the daffodil bulbs Kari Johnson planted in the shape of an anarchy symbol on a 4th Avenue lawn more than a decade ago still appear every spring. Food Not Lawns, the urban gardening movement founded by local activists Heather Coburn and Tobias Policha in 1999, has now gone national; Coburn recently published a book about it under the name H.C. Flores.
And though the arsonists who set fire to Willamette National Forest in 1991 have yet to be caught, the trees of Warner Creek still stand. Tim Ingalsbee, the "godfather" of the mid-1990s campaign against salvage logging, perseveres in his effort to get the site permanently protected as a research area.
Much like the Warner Creek salvage controversy, Operation Backfire illuminated two very different ways of viewing a burnt landscape: as a disaster to be cleaned up and salvaged, or as a natural cleansing, providing nutrients and light for rebirth. The bust seems to have dampened local eco-radicalism, stalled ELF actions, weakened Earth First!, and possibly even chilled progressive activism of all kinds. But Eugene remains a hub of eco-activity, and as sure as wildfires will continue to blaze through forests, stoking controversies in their wake, environmentalists will keep battling the forces of planetary destruction, their tactics evolving with the shifting political landscape.
Is eco-sabotage terrorism?
On April 10, federal prosecutors will try to convince Judge Ann Aiken that it's appropriate for them to try to tack 20-year "terrorism enhancements" onto the sentences of the 10 Operation Backfire defendants who have pleaded guilty before the federal court in Oregon. Prosecutors have indicated that, if Aiken gives them the green light, they'll try to pin each of the defendants as a terrorist during their individual sentencing hearings. They'll likely do the same before the court in western Washington, where two more have pleaded guilty and a third awaits trial.
If prosecutors succeed, Lacey Phillabaum's recommended sentence of three to five years, the shortest proposed jail term for an Operation Backfire defendant, could become 25 years. Her boyfriend Stan Meyerhoff's sentence of almost 16 years, the longest proposed term, could become 36.
James Jarboe, chief of the domestic terrorism section of the FBI, told a House subcommittee in 2002 that "The FBI defines eco-terrorism as the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against innocent victims or property by an environmentally-oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature."
The key word in that definition is "violence." The 20 acts of eco-sabotage in the Operation Backfire case did not physically harm anyone, and evidence suggests that the saboteurs took extreme precautions to that end. "Not hurting people is such a part of every one of those people's philosophies," said Eugene activist Stella Lee Anderson, a former girlfriend of defendant Kevin Tubbs.
Yet few within the movement are willing to assert that local eco-anarchists in the mid-'90s were nonviolent by principle. "There's a lot of ways to define the words violence and nonviolence, and people couldn't get on the same page for what that meant to them," said Eugene eco-activist Cecilia Story. "Some people thought filling up a soaker gun with urine and spraying it at cops was really violent. Other people didn't. We would talk about things like that for weeks."
Prosecutor Stephen Peifer, however, suggests that the question of violence is moot in this case. Under a federal law titled "Acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries," anyone who "creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to any other person" by damaging property within the U.S. may be subject to the terrorism sentencing enhancement. "That's what we're working with," Peifer said. "The word violence doesn't come into play."
Still, many people — including Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon — are reluctant to call the eco-saboteurs terrorists. "As we know terrorism today, mass murder on the scale of the trade towers and the Pentagon, perhaps it would deserve a more specific label," DeFazio said, adding that the eco-arsons were "a destructive, stupid, criminal thing to do." — Kera Abraham
Thoughts from the trenches
Eugene eco-radicals weigh in on Operation Backfire.
Did the sabotage actions have their intended effect of waking up the public to environmental issues?
Jim Flynn sees some actions, like the arson of the Cavel West horsemeat plant (which was never rebuilt) and the BLM wild horse releases, as valid. "I think sabotage is a perfectly good way to grab people's attention," he said. "Ethical monkeywrenching, if done thoughtfully, can be an effective tactic." But, he added, the general public might not make the link between eco-sabotage and its political motives. "I think sabotage has lost its meaning in this country and people see it as terrorism," he said. "This country has a big problem with arson for any reason. I don't know why that is."
Chris Calef agrees that some actions may have been somewhat effective, but he cites others as ill-conceived, such as the arsons of the Oakridge Ranger Station, which incinerated years of Tim Ingalsbee's research, and the University of Washington horticulture center. "They destroyed some endangered seeds next door," he said of the UW arson. "Nice going."
In the case of the 1998 arson of the Vail ski resort, Stella Lee Anderson said, "They public's looking at it and thinking, 'Oh my gosh, that poor ski resort.' They don't see the forest that was destroyed for the ski run. They public's just stupid and lazy and ignorant and for the most part, they just don't care."
But forest defender Shannon Wilson hangs onto the hope that the actions weren't in vain. "Maybe when people read the stories and articles about these indicted folks some of them might stop and think about why these highly educated and idealistic young people risked their freedoms and life for such things as wild lynx, wild horses, ancient forests, wilderness, and our life giving biosphere," he wrote by email. "Perhaps they will think long enough to question their 'American dream' of building a 4,000 square foot McMansion with the 600 square foot redwood deck with two SUVs in the garage parked next to their 50 foot motor-home along side their 20 feet speedboat and their two all terrain vehicles on the edge of a once wild river. I believe that this is why these folks risked everything. They attempted to wake the people out of their 'American dream' nightmare that is destroying all life on this planet."
But Jeff Hogg, who spent nearly six months in jail for refusing to testify to the federal grand jury, doubts that the eco-sabotage actions woke anyone up. "They drew the attention of people who were already paying attention, and the people who aren't think they're a bunch of crazy criminals," he said. "I think [Operation Backfire] is gonna have a pretty chilling effect on a lot of activism."
How do you feel about the primary informant, Jacob Ferguson?
Tim Ream suspects that Ferguson may have been a federal provacateur all along. "I just don't know how else you can burn millions of dollars of property and not get indicted," he said. "Especially when you're the one link that brings everything together … I just can't understand why the guy who looks to me like the ringleader smack addict is driving around in an SUV and living free."
Tim Lewis, who lived across the creek from Ferguson in Saginaw, saw him as extremely self-determined: "If he needed heroin, he could get it. If he needed a woman to live with him and pay rent, he could get it." In Lewis' view, Ferguson didn't crack out of weakness or spite, but for his kid. "That's the only thing I ever saw Jake give a shit about, was his son," he said.
Cecilia Story is still creeped out by thoughts of Ferguson during the years he was secretly recording conversations for the FBI. "Wearing a fuckin' wire into my community? That is so not OK," she said.
But Heather Coburn is willing to cut Ferguson a little slack. "He's as much a victim of the system as we all are," she said. "I still have dreams about Jake where he redeems himself. He comes back the way he used to look — he was into Aikido, he was a vegan, he was really kind and funny. What a heartbreaker." But now, local activists shun him. "When he goes walking down the street, he's like a ghoul," she said. "Jake is volatile sometimes; he's a Cancer. But he's not a violent person … I've never, ever been afraid that Jake was gonna hurt me. A lot of people try to paint him as sinister. He isn't; just maybe stupid."
Is it fair to blame the other Operation Backfire cooperators, given that they risked their freedom in an attempt to further their cause?
Shelley Cater feels upset and betrayed by the cooperators, even as she has some compassion for them. "If you can't stand by your convictions, then you shouldn't have been there in the first place," she said.
Although he's "pissed off" at some of the cooperators, Tim Lewis has a problem calling them snitches; they were the activists most willing to walk their radical talk. "I can look back at [the saboteurs] and what they did and say, 'Fuckin' A, man. They were kickin' ass.' These cats were out there in the middle of the night doing what they did … I think it's noble. I think it's very noble. I have a lot of respect for them."
James Johnston is not willing to condemn anyone, short of Ferguson, for cooperating. "I'm withholding judgement because I don't know anything about it," he said. He also worries that so-called "snitches" could face violence in jail. "Inmates don't have anything better to do than learn all they can about the people they live with," he wrote by email. "And they do routinely kill and maim other inmates justly or unjustly labeled as 'rats' and 'snitches.'"
How did the bust affect Eugene's eco-radical community?
Fire ecologist and activist Tim Ingalsbee has mixed emotions. "At this point I am dangerously ignorant of all this ELF stuff," he said. "I am aggrieved that good people are going down … I am genuinely saddened, and in deep denial." But he also feels that the saboteurs did real damage to the eco-radical movement. "This is kind of a pattern: These opportunists who think their heart is in the right place, but their brains certainly aren't," he said. "That is the danger with libertarian anarchy. It's completely unaccountable … While we [above-ground activists] are trying to educate the larger community, you [underground saboteurs] undermine the action, and you make all of the community activists targets."
Shelley Cater said the shared sense of persecution may have laid to rest old beefs that now seem petty by comparison. "Operation Backfire has gelled people in this town in a way I haven't seen them gel in a long time," she said. "The evil's so huge now that people are compelled into action … We are a battered community. Everybody's suffering some kind of grief. But it's made the strong stronger. The people who are dedicated are still in the fray… Our survival nature is coming to the fore."
Kari Johnson has drawn lessons from the peak and crash of Eugene's eco-radical scene. "I have learned to not accept other people's strategies if they aren't working," she wrote by email. "I won't let an individual jockey for a power position … I've also learned that rallies and marches and such aren't so effective at changing the minds of the rulers as they are at changing the minds of the participants." She complains that media have taken the eco-sabotage angle and made a "cowboys and [I]ndians story out of real life," leaving out the less sensational characters — the old, the young, "the weirdos and the moms," — and the positive, quirky things the local eco-radical community did, like forging art alliances and forming a Red Rover line against the riot cops. "It comes down to young white black-clad folks who destroyed property worth money," she wrote by email. "How can anyone who wasn't here make any sense of it?"
How did the bust affect the larger environmental movement?
"There is renewed activism and involvement, not only in EF!, but also in the National Lawyers Guild, grand jury education projects, prisoner support networks, indymedia, etc.," Jim Flynn wrote by email. "The movement cannot be killed simply because of the fact that the planet is being killed. Time and time again people will rise up when they realize their life support is being cut off … At the end of the last decade many enviros became involved in the anti-globalization movement which continues to this day. With the election of Bush, many enviros are also now civil rights activists, even more so after the busts."
Humboldt State sociologist Tony Silvaggio, who lived in Eugene for years and knows several of the defendants, sees the bust in the context of a larger neo-conservative attack on progressive activism. "It's destroying the institutions and communities in Eugene. The government's guilt-by-association and divide-and-conquer approach has really succeeded," he said. "They're out to crush dissent, period. They've targeted this movement because it's an easy target; Al Qaeda is fuckin' hard. They need to show results. They need to show the American people that 'There are terrorists out there, and we caught them.' … Where is the mainstream environmental movement in any of this? Where is the labor movement? If we let this go, 10, 20 years down the road, any traditional protest activity is gonna be labeled as terrorism."
"It's not hard to imagine environmental radicals coming out of this about as popular as Al-Qaeda in the mainstream press," wrote Chris Calef by email. "However, just as the factors that led up to anti-American sentiment abroad are rooted in world history and American foreign policy, so is the background to this case quite complicated and justified on both sides. The public has a right to be concerned about people who burn buildings, there's no doubt about that. But conscientious middle-class kids, like most of these were, do not just up and decide for no apparent reason to risk their freedom by engaging in clandestine political sabotage. The environmental issues that motivated these acts are very real, and as yet unresolved. If there were tens of thousands of mainstream liberals out in the streets every day demanding resolution on global warming, oil dependency, nuclear proliferation, and so on, then we probably wouldn't see these kids feeling the need to take desperate steps like the ones that got them in so much trouble. It's easy to blame the immediate culprits, but until the problems get solved, I think it's fair to expect that more and more young people might make similar choices. Calling them 'terrorists' and locking them away isn't going to solve anything."
Some fantastic news just in..... the eco-anarchist backpackers who
were arrested in the Phillipines earlier this year accused of being
mebers of an armed left-wing revolutionary group (as apposed to a
bunch of lentil eating vegetarians pacifist tree-huggers) have been
released from prison!!!
For all the background info on this case check out www.brightonabc.org.uk
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: [a-manila] Sagada backpackers released!
> Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006
> Just an important announcement:
> THE 9 REMAINING BACKPACKER DETAINEES HAVE BEEN RELEASED! FREED BY
> THEIR TORMENTORS! More info in a couple of hours...
> a-manila.org is down.
> that will be until for the rest of the year,
> unless anyone out there would help out!
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
I'm writing to tell you about an important and exciting project – Certain Days: The 2007 Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar. You can order Certain Days online at
Please help support this project by ordering Certain Days and forwarding this message to your friends.
* * *
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CERTAIN DAYS: THE 2007 FREEDOM FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS CALENDAR
This year's Certain Days looks amazing - 12 full color images and pages of writing created by and about former and current political prisoners and prisoners of war. This calendar is the sixth of its kind to be produced annually by a collective of organizers living in Montreal, in collaboration with three long-term political prisoners being held in New York for their actions as part of anti-imperialist and anti-racist struggles: Herman Bell, Robert Seth Hayes and David Gilbert.
The website (www.certaindays.org) has all the info you need to order Certain Days, and also has info about the history of Certain Days, the political prisoners who started it, and the organizations your donation will go to.
Besides looking great in your home or office, the calendars make a great gift -- a gift of political education to your friends and family, and a financial gift of support for social justice struggles.
Please do visit the Certain Days website, and pass this email on to spread the word about this great piece of political education.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
a modified version of this article appears in the December 2006 issue of Z Magazine
By Dan Berger
One of the biggest post-9/11 criminal cases involves the prosecution of fourteen radical environmentalists on a slew of charges for property destruction, mainly arson, and conspiracy. The actions for which they are accused occurred date back as far as 1996 and include the multi-million dollar destruction of a ski lodge expansion in 1998. No one was hurt in any of the actions, which were claimed by the Earth Liberation Front, the Animal Liberation Front, or jointly by the equally shadowy and decentralized groups.
The FBI swooped up the defendants in December 2005 in multi-state raids the government dubbed “Operation Backfire.” This massive operation targeting the awkwardly named phenomenon of “eco-terrorism”--but which environmentalists and civil libertarians are dubbing “the Green Scare”--is at the centerpiece of the Bush administration’s assault on domestic dissent under the auspices of fighting terrorism. The “terrorism” these defendants are accused of, like other eco-militants arrested in recent years, has targeted the property of large corporations to the tune of more than $100 million--done intentionally without harming anyone.
Yet because the T-word is attached to the case, people are facing more severe punishments than they might otherwise face for property destruction--including the possibility of life in prison. Indeed, six of the fourteen pled guilty shortly after their arrest in exchange for reduced--but still lengthy--sentences. Part of their plea agreement, however, mandates that the half-dozen eco-militants cooperate with the state in ongoing investigations against radical environmentalists for the rest of their lives.
The case has been built on informants: the government’s star witness who helped build the initial case is, by his own admission in a gossipy article in the August Rolling Stone, a longtime drug addict who says he took part in several of the arsons yet who faces no charges himself. After the FBI starting applying significant pressure in the through grand juries and home visits, other activists also began cooperating as the government expanded the number of people indicted to 18. Some remained defiant; Jeff Hogg spent six months in jail for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury.
Of the remaining eight defendants from the initial arrest, one person, Bill Rodgers, committed suicide in his cell shortly after being arrested in December. Three people remain at large, and four people--Nathan Block, Daniel McGowan, Jonathan Paul, and Joyanna Zacher--changed their pleas to guilty in November, after months of negotiation. As a condition of their plea, however, these four defendants remain non-cooperative with the state. As a result, prosecutors will seek a “terrorism enhancement” charge in their case, attempting to add up to 20 years to the reduced plea sentence.
Many progressives haven’t paid much, if any, attention to the trial of these eco-militants--feeling distanced, perhaps, from a movement that has not only utilized illegal tactics but has generally done too little to incorporate itself into a broader social justice initiatives and whose militant sectors have earned the wrath of the FBI as the “number-one domestic terrorist threat,” according to FBI deputy assistant director John Lewis last year.
But the ramifications of this case are too large to ignore, and not just because it is likely that such militant actions will increase in number as the earth’s destruction becomes more severe.
One of the defendants is Daniel McGowan, an activist who has devoted significant attention to exactly the kind of bridge building that the environmental movement is in desperate need of. As with radical attorney Lynne Stewart and incendiary professor Ward Churchill, the government has gone after seemingly extreme radicals in the hope of cleaving off any significant support from the left for people whose tactics or politics prove controversial, even among progressive circles. Unlike Stewart and Churchill, however, many of these eco-activists face up to life in prison as a result of illegal activities and an investigation bolstered by informants and surveillance.
It is a strategy that has been used before, with some degree of success: go after the apparent margins of the left as a way to limit the parameters of dissent more generally. The targeting of clandestine anti-imperialist militants and jailhouse activists of the 1980s with experimental control unit prisons led to the more widespread use of such draconian institutions. This includes the “supermax” prisons in , and , as well as the other entire control unit prisons, and the “special housing units” within most prisons, which function as exceptionally austere prisons within existing prisons. In both cases, according to groups like Human Rights Watch, prisoners are separated from any human contact except the guards and confined to tiny cells for 23 hours a day. Numerous psychologists have criticized such institutions for the mental illnesses they engender in those incarcerated.
This case is also one where the worst of PATRIOT ACT surveillance and its related snitch culture are being tested. The six who plead guilty in the spring and summer are required to cooperate with prosecutors in testifying against other defendants, numerous people have been hauled before grand juries to testify about environmental activism in the northwest (resulting in the incarceration of several people for refusing to comply with the invasive and undemocratic subpoenas), and it appears that the initial arrests were made on the basis of
voluminous surveillance data. Besides informants, the case is evidently built off the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program.
According to a September story in the Eugene Weekly, the government has handed over “some 28,000 pages of documents, 71 CDs (likely recordings made by snitches with wires), four DVDs and three videotapes. But they hedged the request [from the defense] for information obtained by NSA surveillance.” Since a federal judge in Detroit ruled domestic NSA surveillance illegal for violating the Fourth Amendment, revelation of warrantless wiretapping used in building a case against these radical environmentalists could have rendered the government’s case null and void. The judge presiding over the case ordered the prosecution to “find out whether warrantless wiretapping was used to build a case against the
defendants,” the Weekly reported.
Ultimately, however, the defense agreed to drop this motion when the four defendants opted to plead guilty (presumably in exchange for lower sentences). Still, these proceedings and the case overall mark an important turning point in the existence of radical opposition within the : can resistance movements develop and maintain consciousness about non-cooperation with the repressive aims of the state? And will the rights of people to oppose the government and corporate agenda beat back the current Orwellian strategies of control?
Check out http://www.greenscare.org or http://www.supportdaniel.org for updates.
Dan Berger is a writer, activist and graduate student in . He is the co-editor of Letters From Young Activists: Today’s Rebels Speak Out (Nation Books, 2005) and author of
Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity (AK Press, 2006).
Saturday, December 16, 2006
By RON WORD, Associated Press Writer Dec 15, 2006
OCALA, Fla. - Gov. Jeb Bush suspended all executions in Florida after
a medical examiner said Friday that prison officials botched the
insertion of the needles when a convicted killer was put to death
earlier this week.
Separately, a federal judge in California extended a moratorium on
executions in the nation's most populous state, declaring that the
state's method of lethal injection violates the constitutional ban on
cruel and unusual punishment.
U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel ruled in San Jose that California's
"implementation of lethal injection is broken, but it can be fixed."
In Florida, medical examiner Dr. William Hamilton said Wednesday's
execution of Angel Nieves Diaz took 34 minutes — twice as long as
usual — and required a rare second dose of lethal chemicals because
the needles were inserted clear through his veins and into the flesh
in his arms. The chemicals are supposed to go into the veins.
Hamilton, who performed the autopsy, refused to say whether he
thought Diaz died a painful death.
"I am going to defer answers about pain and suffering until the
autopsy is complete," he said. He said the results were preliminary
and other tests may take several weeks.
Missing a vein when administering the injections would cause "both
psychological and physical discomfort — probably pretty severe," said
Dr. J. Kent Garman, an emeritus professor of anesthesia at the
Stanford School of Medicine in California.
"All the drugs would be much slower to affect the body because
they're not going into a blood vessel. They're going under the skin.
They take a long time to be absorbed by the body," said Garman, who
said he was ethically opposed to lethal injection.
An inmate would remain conscious for a longer period of time and
would likely be aware of increased difficulty breathing and pain
caused by angina, the interruption of blood flow to the heart, he
Jonathan Groner, associate professor of surgery at Ohio State
University, said the injection would cause excruciating pain "like
your arms are on fire."
Bush created a commission to examine the state's lethal injection
process in light of Diaz's case, and he halted the signing of any
more death warrants until the panel completes its final report by
The governor said he wants to ensure the process does not constitute
cruel and unusual punishment, as some death penalty foes argued
bitterly after Diaz's execution. Florida has 374 people on death row;
it has carried out four executions this year.
Governor elect-Charlie Crist planned to continue the moratorium when
he takes office in January, spokeswoman Vivian Myrtetus said.
Fogel said the California case raised the question of whether the
three execution drugs administered by the San Quentin State Prison
are so painful that they "offend" the ban on cruel and unusual
punishment. Fogel said he was compelled "to answer that question in
California has been under a capital punishment moratorium since
February, when Fogel called off the execution of rapist and murderer
Michael Morales amid concerns that condemned inmates might suffer
Fogel found substantial evidence that the last six men executed at
San Quentin might have been conscious and still breathing when lethal
drugs were administered.
Lethal injection is the preferred execution method in 37 states. Last
month, a federal judge declared unconstitutional Missouri's injection
method, which is similar to California's.
U.S. Supreme Court has upheld executions — by lethal injection,
hanging, firing squad, electric chair and gas chamber — despite the
pain they might cause, but has left unsettled the issue of whether
the pain is unconstitutionally excessive.
Diaz, 55, was put to death for murdering the manager of a Miami
topless bar during a holdup in 1979.
The medical examiner's findings contradicted the explanation given by
prison officials, who said Diaz needed the second dose because liver
disease caused him to metabolize the lethal drugs more slowly.
Hamilton said that although there were records that Diaz had
hepatitis, his liver appeared normal.
Executions in Florida normally take no more than about 15 minutes,
with the inmate rendered unconscious and motionless within three to
five minutes. But Diaz appeared to be moving 24 minutes after the
first injection, grimacing, blinking, licking his lips, blowing and
appearing to mouth words.
As a result of the chemicals going into Diaz's arms around the elbow,
he had an 12-inch chemical burn on his right arm and an 11-inch
chemical burn on his left arm, Hamilton said.
Florida Corrections Secretary James McDonough said the execution team
did not see any swelling of the arms, which would have been an
indication that the chemicals were going into tissues and not veins.
Diaz's attorney, Suzanne Myers Keffler, reacted angrily to the findings.
"This is complete negligence on the part of the state," she said.
"When he was still moving after the first shot of chemicals, they
should have known there was a problem and they shouldn't have
continued. This shows a complete disregard for Mr. Diaz. This is
Earlier, in a court hearing in Ocala, she had won an assurance from
the attorney general's office that she could have access to all
findings and evidence from the autopsy. She withdrew a request for an
David Elliot, spokesman for the National Coalition to Abolish the
Death Penalty, said experts his group had contacted suspected that
liver disease was not the explanation for the problem.
"Florida has certainly deservedly earned a reputation for being a
state that conducts botched executions, whether its electrocution or
lethal injection," Elliot said. "We just think the Florida death
penalty system is broken from start to finish."
Florida got rid of the electric chair after two inmates' heads caught
fire during executions in the 1990s and another suffered a severe
nosebleed in 2000. Lethal injection was portrayed as a more humane
and more reliable process.
Twenty people have been executed by lethal injection in Florida since
the state switched from the electric chair in 2000.
Associated Press writers David Kravets and Marcus Wohlsen contributed
to this report from San Francisco.
LIVE FROM A HOOD NEAR YOU: THE 'ORGANIZE DA HOOD TOUR' JUST ANNOUNCED
-- (December 11, 2006) - Announced today, the 'Organize Da Hood Tour', featuring performances and lectures by a number of hip hop's socially conscious heavy hitters, will be kicking off in early 2007.
Sponsored by the FTP Movement (www.ftpmovement.tk), Guerilla Nation, O.U.T.R.A.G.E. and Contraband PR, the 'Organize Da Hood Tour' is set to stop in 7 cities and several locations yet to be announced, early next year.
Hosted by the hip hop group A-Alikes (RBG Family), Kalonji Jama Changa (FTP Movement), Rough (Abandoned Nation), Wise Intelligent (Poor Righteous Teachers) and other special guests, the tour will tackle issues such as Police Brutality/Terrorism, Poverty/Homelessness, Political Prisoners, Street Codes and more.
A mix of political activism with a heavy streetz flavor, tour organizers are calling it a form of "edu"tainment necessary in times like these, when one need only turn on the news to find examples of the growing disparity between "the haves and the have nots". The attempt will be to appeal to the hood, (where much of this disparity is experienced), local universities and everywhere in between, in an effort to open up the dialogue to a greater social problem.
In addition to a number of hip hop artists, numerous grassroots and community organizations are also expected to be in attendance. Due to the fact that each stop of the tour will feature daily lectures and panel discussions, as well as nightly hip hop performances, it is expected that the tour will attract a wide array of attendees, both loyal to the hip hop community and to the hip hop political movement itself.
For more information please contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Friday, December 15, 2006
The Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Free the Cuban 5 Hotline: 718-601-4751
Sign the petition to demand that the NYTimes publiosh an arti le on
the Cuban 5!! FORWARD THIS EMAIL AND PETITION LINK!! WE WANT TO
PRESENT A PETITION TO THE NYTIMES WITH A THOUSAND SIGNATURES!!
WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 20TH, 2006 AT 5PM PICKET THE NEW YORK TIMES!!
The New York Times 229 West 43rd St.
(btwn. Broadway and 8th Ave.)
For more info. contact The Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5:
718-601-4751 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The New York Times still has not published an article on the Cuban 5!! WE
HAVE TO GO BACK AND DEMAND THAT THE ARTICLE BE WRITTEN!!
For over a month, the New York Times ignored our letter writing campaign
demanding that they publish an article on the Cuban 5; after no response, we
picketed at the their door and they continued to ignore us!!
President Ricardo Alarcon, of the Cuban Parliament, has called for December
12th-27th to be another period of time to raise awareness for the Cuban 5.
We have to go back!! We CANNOT allow them to ignore the Cuban 5. If the
Washington Post, USA Today, The LA Times and the Daily News can cover the
Cuban 5, then so can the New York Times!!
BRING YOUR FLAGS, PLACARD AND NOISEMAKERS!!
CELEBRATING FREEDOM AND JUSTICE: Three Kings Party for the Cuban 5
Saturday January 13th, 2007 at 7pm
Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center
310 W 43rd St. (btwn. 8-9th Aves)
Join us for a night of MUSIC,POETRY, and DANCING!! Dedicated to our brothers
the Cuban 5; five U.S. held Political Prisoners incarcerated for fighting
against terrorism in Cuba!!
Speaker from the Cuban Mission to the United Nations
Solidarity Statements from the Cuban 5 and their families
Two Short films; Ivette, a 9 minute film on Rene Gonzalez’s Daughter, and
the new 12 minute film entitled, “The Cuban 5”
The evening will include food, literature tables, drinks, displays/exhibits.
Holiday silk-screen cards will be available for participants to sign to be
sent to the Cuban 5. Donations at the door and for dinner are welcome!!
January 13th Organizing Committee: The Popular Education Project to Free the
Cuban 5, Venceremos Brigade, International Action Center,Workers World
Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Socialist Workers Party,
ProLibertad, Casa de las Américas, Frente Socialista de Puerto Rico – Comité
de Nueva York, New York CityJericho, Fuerzas de la Revolución Dominicana,
San Romero de las Americas-UCC/Cuba SolidarityMinistry, the National
Committee to Free the Cuban 5, Latin@s for Mumia, ANSWER, Cuba Solidarity
New York, IFCO/Pastors for Peace, New York Committee to Free the Cuban Five–
List In Formation