Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sedley Alley's Execution: One Year Later

Sadly, today marks the one year anniversay of Tennessee's execution of Sedley Alley, making Alley the second man to be executed in Tennessee since the state's resumption of the death penalty. Today, we remember not only Sedley Alley, but all those who lives have been taken by homicide, particularly Suzanne Marie Collins, Philip Workman, and Lieutenant Ronald Oliver.

This day we also remember those left behind: the families of murder victims and those who have been executed who continue to live with deep pain and loss. We pray that they may experience God's peace, even in the midst of their grief, and that healing would come with each new day.

I received an email from April McIntyre, Sedley Alley's daughter, who wanted me to share a few words with all of you. She writes, "I want to thank everyone who supported my dad last year. If it wasn't for the love and support we received, I don't think I could have made it through."

Keep up with TCASK organizing on the TCASK Blog - tcask: on the road to abolition - a typically good entry can be found at: and starts out: So it turns out Fred Thompson actually is a lawyer (he doesn't just play one on TV), but apparently that doesn't mean that he has any real understanding of the machinations of the nation's capital punishment system .... Check it out today!

Stacy Rector

Executive Director
Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing
PO Box 120552
Nashville, TN 37212

"The death penalty is a public policy that fails
victims, the accused and our core constitutional
value of fairness. The best solution is to use
alternatives and simply abolish the death penalty."

Nader Speaks at National Meeting

Ralph Nader to Speak at Green Party National Meeting

Reading, PA will be turning Green from the 12-15th of July when the Green Party National Meeting comes to town. With a huge number of workshops and speakers as well as a Music Fest to keep everyone entertained in the evenings it should be a great weekend. It will be a wonderful opportunity to learn the skills required to build effective campaigns, network with Greens from across the country and worldwide; and, most of all, to have fun.

Ralph Nader is scheduled to speak on the Saturday and will be addressing the issue of Ballot access, an ever prevalent topic which resonates particularly clearly in Pennsylvania, a state with some of the most antidemocratic ballot access rules for third party candidates in the US. Ralph will be sharing the stage with 2006 PA Senate Candidate Carl Romanelli and renowned progressive hip-hop artist Head-Roc.

The national meeting will also include presentations from former federal assistant secretary of housing Catherine Austin Fitts, President of Solari, Inc, Juan Behrend, Co-Secretary General of the European Green Party and Janet Eaton from the Green Party of Canada talking about the NAFTA Super Corridor.

Workshops are sure to be another highlight of the weekend with topics ranging from "media relations" and "running for office" to a 3 day special workshop on "dismantling racism". As well as all of this there will be an early opportunity to hear from those seeking the Green Party nomination in the 2008 Presidential Race. Several candidates have already announced their intention to run so it's sure to be an interesting forum.

The Music Fest is shaping up to have an impressive line up with noted Hip-Hop artist and Green Party member Head Roc and his DJ's Eurock and Noyeek headlining on the Saturday evening. Other performers include Juggling Suns, Green Onions, Hexbelt, Uncle Skip, and many others. Thursday night is looking to be an international night and there will also be a silent auction, vendors and exhibitors throughout the weekend.

All in all it is sure to be a weekend full of interesting events and refreshing perspectives on the issues that matter. The Green Party will be certain to make Reading an "oasis of democracy". A comprehensive overview on everything you need to know about the meeting including how to sign up can be found at

Take advantage of the pre-meeting discount of $100 and register on-line: here. On-line registration ends on July 6th. On-site registration will be available for $115. Meal tickets and event tickets will be available for online purchase until July 6th. Event tickets will be available for purchase on-site, meal tickets will not.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Ruling Class

We often hear people talk about our Founding Fathers. Many say things like, "If our Founding Fathers could see the way things are today, they'd roll over in their graves." Gore Vidal wrote in his book Inventing A Nation, that at the time of the revolutionary war with England that George Washington's "wartime temper was an awesome volcanic affair in serial eruption when dealing with a crooked Congress that was allowing food and supplies to be sold to the British army while embezzling for themselves money appropriated for the 'naked and distressed soldiers,' as Washington referred to his troops."

After the Revolutionary war was over New England merchants were eager to reestablish trade with Great Britain. By importing large amounts of goods into postwar New England, merchants glutted the market. Export markets had yet to be fully developed thus a trade imbalance existed that led to a nationwide debt crisis and a chain of debt collections. [Sounds just a bit like the U.S. today with our enormous trade/debt problems.]

David Szatmary writes in Shay's Rebellion: The Making of an Agrarian Insurrection, that "To satisfy British creditors, New England wholesalers tried to collect their outstanding loans" from their customers who tended to be inland shop keepers and small farmers. "Having difficulty with debt collections, merchants increasingly chose legal action that contributed to a great increase in debt suits," Szatmary concludes.

Soon the local shopkeepers and farmers faced creditors who took their land and state governments helped in the confiscation process as the local working class could not afford to pay their property taxes. Many found themselves in prison because of their debts. Szatmary writes that, "Yeomen, husbandmen, day laborers, and rural craftsmen comprised 91% of these debtors while no prominent retailer were behind bars [in one Worcester County, MA. jail]."

It soon came down to the coastal traders, in the big cities like Boston, were of one class and the inland workers another. A rebellion, ultimately to be called Shays' Rebellion, ensued as those who were oppressed went to their town meetings and county conventions seeking legal remedy to their plight. The working class began to elect their own representatives who tried to reform the harsh laws through nonviolent means. According to one leader of the revolt they "advocated reforms that would ease the payment of debts, reduce taxes, publicize the expenditure of state funds, and pare down the powers of the court of common pleas."

During this time poor economic conditions even forced revolutionary war veterans to sell their Continental and state certificates. Large speculators, many of them coastal merchants, bought this paper for a fraction of its stated value. Szatmary quotes one farmer, "A very few men in each state have monopolized these obligations to such an immense amount, and originally on so easy terms, that there are now some fortunes among us which would tolerably well support the expenses of an Earldom."

The divide between rich and poor was established early on in the new America. Remember too, that under the new Constitution only white men who held land could vote. Thus legions of small farmers and land owners who lost all they had no longer were able to participate in the new "revolutionary" government. Their attempts to use existing government reform measures to hang onto what little they had largely failed.

In 1786 New England small farmers gave up on peaceful protest and took up arms. A rebellion leader urged others to join the fight against "all the machinations of those who are aiming to enslave and oppress us" and to strike down "that aristocratical principle too generally prevalent among the wealthy men of the state." Szatmary reports that "By the end of the year, an uprising that involved almost 9,000 militants or about one-quarter of the 'fighting men' in rural areas had surfaced in every New England state except Rhode Island."

Rich merchants and the "professional class" feared the insurgency, if successful, would spread and redistribute property throughout the nation. Thus the new Colonial government turned to George Washington to form the first national army to suppress the rebellion. But first they made sure that the new Constitution gave the federal government the powers to control the "internal insurrection."

According to one man of property, "the new Constitution is received with great joy by all the commercial part of the community. The people of Boston are in raptures with it as it is...and all men of considerable property, the clergy, the lawyers, including the judges of the court, and all the officers of the late army advocated the most vigorous government."

The reaction of the "insurgents" naturally was quite different to the news that a national army was being created to put down the unrest. One farmer argued that "With national military power lawyers and men of learning, and monied men expected to get all the power and all the money into their own hands, and then they will swallow up all us little folks, like the great Leviathan" turning independent farmers into tenants or wage laborers.

In his book The Creation of America: Through Revolution to Empire author Francis Jennings states, "The farmers of Shay's rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion were not so much intent on tearing down as simply bettering their own conditions. Resentment against the perceived ruling class deflected into aggression against Indians. Instead of conflict with the ruling class, seizure of Indian lands could be effected with its complicity. Thus perpetual conquest diverted rebellious sentiment into the satisfaction of demands for personal advancement at the expense of Indians instead of the wealthy. "

Empire was born. And today it remains as we see those in Washington continually making decisions that perpetuate the privilege of wealth and power. Words like freedom, patriotism and liberty have become the tools of the elite to control the rest of us and to spread empire.

Frances Fox Piven writes in Time for Progressives to Grow Up that "We've lived so long under the spell of hierarchy..... that only recently have we awakened to see not only that 'regular' citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crisis cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high."

Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502 (our blog)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Protest Bush in Alabama

Protest George Bush's visit to North Alabama!
Thursday, June 21 @ 11:00 AM -- 12:00 noon
Location: Intersection of Whitesburg Drive
and Airport Road in Huntsville
Info: Lynn Leach, 256-776-4015 or
256-527-5090 cell,

North Alabama residents are encouraged to join in a protest against president George Bush and his failed foreign and domestic policies when he visits the area on Thursday, June 21. The protest will be held at the intersection of Whitesburg Drive and Airport Road in Huntsville from 11:00 AM to 12:00 noon.

Many American's are angry about Bush's disastrous failures of starting the Iraq war based on lies, bungling of the Katrina disaster, illegal wire-tapping, condoning torture, and establishing an inept and corrupt administration that is falling apart at the seams -- department by department. Lynn Leach, the event organizer, said, "Come out and protest the failed policies of the president and his administration."

Everyone is invited. Please bring protest signs with your messages for Bush, or just join the protest crowd.

For more information, contact Lynn Leach at 256-776-4015 or 256-527-5090 cell, or

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Free Paul House Press Conference

Free Paul House Press Conference Thursday!

At 9AM Thursday June 21, 2007 in Room 30 in the Legislative Plaza at the Tennessee State Capitol, Representative Mike Turner will be holding a press conference to ask Governor Bredesen to grant a full pardon to Paul House. At the press conference Rep. Turner will present a bipartisan letter signed by more than 25 members of the legislature calling on Gov. Bredesen to free House.

For the past 22 years the state of Tennessee has incarcerated an innocent man—furthermore House has a progressive form of Multiple Sclerosis and is receiving minimal medical treatment. This press conference is a fantastic opportunity for our Nashville TCASK activists to show your support to our fair minded legislatures, Joyce House (Paul’s mother), and of course TCASK! At the press conference, we will be selling our amazing “Free Paul House” t-shirts for $10 as we want to give the media there a fantastic image to take home with them—that residents of Nashville are activated and passionate to give Paul House the freedom he so desperately deserves. So we encourage all of you to come out, bring a friend, bring whomever, and show Governor Bredesen that he must take action and grant full pardon to Paul Gregory House.

Email us if you have any questions about the press conference. Also, if you haven't already, please call your state legislatures and urge them to attend Thursday's press conference. See you on Thursday in Room 30 at the Legislative Plaza at 9:00 AM. For a list of the letter signers click HERE, and a view of the letter itself can be found HERE.

Keep up with TCASK organizing on the TCASK Blog - tcask: on the road to abolition - a typically good entry can be found at: and includes: Petersen spent 17 years in prison for a rape and murder that he did not commit. Finally DNA evidence proved him not guilty, but now he's still fighting to get the state to acknowledge that he is innocent, despite New Jersey's admission that he is no longer guilty of the crime...Check it out today!

Stacy Rector

Executive Director
Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing
PO Box 120552
Nashville, TN 37212

NPJC Movie Night June 23rd

Join us at NPJC this Saturday, June 23, 7 p.m., for our next documentary film, A Crude Awakening, about the global oil crisis. "The idea that the world’s oil supplies have peaked, or will soon, is gaining mainstream currency." This film provides an excellent introduction to the issues of peak oil. Bring your friends and family! A lively discussion will follow the film. Free and open to the public; donations encouraged. See you Saturday night!

A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash
Produced & Directed by award-winning European Filmmakers Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack
Saturday night, June 23, at NPJC
Showtime: 7 p.m.
Discussion following the film

A Crude Awakening tells the story of how our civilization’s addiction to oil puts it on a collision course with geology. Compelling, intelligent, and highly entertaining, the film visits with the world’s top experts and comes to a startling, but logical conclusion: our industrial society, built on cheap and readily available oil, must be completely re-imagined and overhauled. The film spells out
in detail the challenge we all face, and underscores our desperate need for alternative energy. (Running time: 90 minutes)

Iraqi War Deaths: Week of June 10th-16th

Those who died in Iraq from Jun 10 to 16:

Sgt Brian Long 32 Not reported
Spc Adam Herold 23 Omaha NE
Cpl Meresebang Ngiraked 21 Koror Palau
Cpl Llythaniele Fender 21 Medical Lake WA
Pvt Cameron Payne 22 Corona CA
Col Glade Felix 52 Lake Park GA
Pvt William Johnson 22 Oxford NC
Cpl Johnny Strong 21 Waco TX
Spc Damon Legrand 27 Lakeside CA
Pvt Casey Carriker 20 Hoquiam WA
Spc Josiah Hollopeter 27 San Diego CA

Cpl Val John Borm 21 Sidney NE
Sgt Michael Bechert 24 New Castle IN
Spc Dustin Brisky 26 Round Rock TX
Maj Kevin Sonnenberg 42 McClure OH
Pvt Michael Pittman 34 Davenport IA
Cpl James Cartwright 21 London UK
Spc Zachary Grass 22 Beach City OH
Sgt Danny Soto 24 Houston TX
Ltn Frank Walkup IV 23 Woodbury TN

In the last two weeks
45 were seriously wounded and maimed.
75 were returned to kill fields.

293 Iraqi sisters and brothers were killed.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

THCC Annual Meeting June 23rd

Annual Meeting on June 23 Draws National Speaker Rachel Degolia, National Speaker on State Health Care Reform, from Cleveland, OH and Robin Hemphill, MD, Health Care Solutions, Vanderbilt University. Don't miss this opportunity. Come learn, participate, enjoy and get motivated.

Tennessee Health Care Campaign's Annual Meeting
Saturday, June 23, 2007, 10 AM to 3:30 PM
At Edgehill United Methodist Church,
1502 Edgehill Ave., Nashville, TN
Call 615-227-7500 to Register

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mayoral Candidates Experience Homelessness

Nashville, TN: Urban Plunge‑‑When economically‑privileged people dress down, empty their wallets, and spend time on the streets as "poor" people, that experience is called a plunge. The Mayoral Urban Plunge in Nashville is the first of it’s kinds according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. 6 Candidates for Nashville Mayor have committed to spending 10 hours (10pm – 8am) out on the streets of Nashville (more below)

After a night out on the street, all candidates will converge at a location to be determined and respond to questions from the homeless community and the media on Wednesday morning at 7:30am, June 20th.

Due to the sensitivity of the event and goal to provide the Candidates with most realistic homeless experience possible, the Nashville Homeless Power Project is only providing the time and location of the Post-Plunge Press Conference. We would like to emphasize that the event will be more true to life with the fewest number of cameras around as possible. It is important for the public to know about the Plunge, the commitment of the candidates and to see coverage of the event and we hope that this will still be possible.

On Wednesday, May 30th, 2007, 6 Mayoral Candidates: Briley, Clement, Dean, Dozier, Eaton and Gentry, participated in the Homelessness and Housing Mayoral Candidate Forum organized by the Nashville Homeless Power Project. During the forum all 6 agreed to spend the night on the streets before August 2nd.

Candidates Briley, Dozier and Gentry have all committed to do the Urban Plunge on the evening / morning of June 20th/June 21st. Candidates Clement, Dean, and Eaton have also committed but have not yet identified a date for doing the plunge as of the afternoon of June 12, 2007.

The purpose of the plunge is to provide the candidates with first hand and direct experience of being homeless so they can fully understand the impact of public policy decision will have on those who are on the streets.

The Power Project has set forth goals for the candidate during their time. Some of those goals are:

To find a legal place to sleep outdoors
Sleep on a bench for 20 minutes or so.
Enter a restaurant and ask if you can sweep the sidewalk or do other work for a sandwich.
Find a place to eat breakfast
Ask for Money/panhandle in a place where you are least likely to be recognized.

According to the Michael Stoops, Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, “Economically-privilidged people across the country have done urban plunges as a way to better understand homelessness. It is the most effective way we have learned for people to understand this reality. 10 hours is not nearly enough and the suggested minimum PLUNGE is 48 hours but we are thankful that they are willing to do this night on the street. Having said that, as far as I know, the National Coalition for the Homeless has never heard of any other city in this country in which political candidates have agreed to do the Urban Plunge. While this should be part of every candidates campaign unfortunately this is a rarity and is truly historic.”

Nashville Homeless Power Project
Homeless Organizing the Homeless & Working for Solutions
42 The Arcade, Nashville, Tennessee 37219
Office: (615) 733-0633 Cell: (615) 569-4740

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Greens Oppose Holsinger Nomination

WASHINGTON, DC -- Leaders of the Lavender Green Caucus
and the Green Party of the United States urged
Congress not to confirm Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr. as
Surgeon General, calling his views on homosexuality
discriminatory, unprofessional, and potentially
damaging to the health care needs of millions of

"Congress must take into account Dr. Holsinger's
biased and hostile attitude towards gay people, which
will affect his ability to make fair decisions about
AIDS, sex education and disease prevention as well as
other health concerns of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and
transgender Americans," said Alison Duncan, the New
York State Green Party's 2006 candidate for Lt.
Governor. Ms. Duncan was the first openly gay
candidate for a gubernatorial position in the state's
history. "Dr. Holsinger has spread gross
misinformation about homosexuality, using his status
as a doctor to promote a bigoted political ideology.
His views are well outside of the mainstream medical
community. His nomination is as offensive to the
health care community as it is to the LGBT community."

Greens cited Dr. Holsinger's article "The
Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality," written in
January 1991 for a United Methodist Church study on
homosexuality, calling the article an expression of
profound and willful ignorance, not just on gay men,
but on human sexuality in general.

"President Bush's choice of Dr. Holsinger for Surgeon
General is consistent with his administration's policy
of misrepresenting scientific research and
subordinating public health to the demands of
ideology," said Lavender Green Caucus member Rev. Dan
Rodriguez Schlorff, who serves Broadway United
Methodist Church (Chicago, Illinois) as Candidate for
Authorized Ministry. "Dr. Holsinger will do to
medical policy, especially policies affecting AIDS and
sexuality, what the White House has done to federally
funded research on global warming -- censoring and
distorting science that doesn't fit the Bush agenda."

"Congress members should have learned a lesson from
the confirmations of Justices John Roberts and Samuel
Alito, which lead to a major ruling restricting the
reproductive rights of women that was based on a
principle that women have no rights to make decisions
about their own lives. Justices Roberts and Alito
were confirmed with a significant number of Democratic
yeas," Rev. Rodriguez Schlorff added.

The Lavender Green Caucus
represents gay,
lesbian, bisexual, intersex, and queer members of the
Green Party. The party's national platform embraces
full rights and equality regardless of sexual
orientation, including same-sex marriage rights and
support for legislation ending discrimination in
employment, housing, civil marriage, medical benefits,
and child custody


Green Party of the United States
1700 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 404
Washington, DC 20009.
202-319-7191, 866-41GREEN
Fax 202-319-7193
Green Party News Center
Green Party Speakers Bureau

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

UNIFEM's Efforts in Darfur

The tragedy in Darfur continues with seemingly little hope for the victims of rape and murder, and the fragile peace accord reached some months ago appears dormant. However, on September 20, 2006 at the United Nations, the Government of Sudan agreed to allow the troops from the African Union to remain until the end of this year. Sudan's president had previously ordered them to leave his country by the end of September, and at the same time, refused to permit United Nations peacekeepers into Darfur. Such a situation would have left the refugees at the complete mercy of those who are oppressing them. Now some time has been provided for further negotiations to end this disaster. Although the African Union troops are limited in number and supplies at this time and not truly effective in protecting from violence the men and women driven from their homes, a plan for them to receive material help from other countries is a possibility.

In the meantime, women suffer obscene violations in spite of African Union troops being there to protect them. The world now knows that it is the women and young girls who must leave the camps to get water and are usually raped in the process. If men were to go, they would be murdered; so the women make the decision that it is better to be raped than murdered. If ever there was a reason for women to be at the peacetable, this guarantees it.

UNIFEM’s efforts in Darfur

June 2006- UNIFEM and its partners have been working for women's participation and the inclusion of their rights within the process of the African Union's (AU) mediation of the Darfur conflict. This has resulted in the appointment of a senior gender adviser on Sudan for the AU, and the secondment of gender experts to strengthen the capacity of the AU's mediation process in terms of gender concerns, and to document the process of the peace negotiations in Abuja.

In addition, UNIFEM also supported the participation of a 20 member all-women Gender Experts Support Team (GEST) to the negotiations to provide inputs and recommendations on gender issues as well as on other issues generally. The contents of a document produced by the GEST — "Women's Priority Concerns for Reconstruction in Darfur" — have been successfully negotiated into the Darfur Peace Agreement. Furthermore, a broad policy framework on gender equality within the peace process has been adopted by the AU Mediation Commission, and draft texts on ceasefire and wealth-sharing contain substantive commitments to women and gender equality.

May 2006 - UNIFEM is partnering with the African Union to support Darfurian women's participation at the Abuja Peace Talks, and facilitate implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325 and the AU Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality. Protection of women's rights in Darfur and the traumatic experiences of violence and displacement have been recurring themes demanding immediate action by all parties. UNIFEM is urging all parties to the peace talks to expedite its conclusion and restore security and dignity to the war-affected women and children of Darfur.

December 2005 - A team of 15 women from three regions of Darfur arrived yesterday in Abuja to attend the seventh round of the African Union–led peace talks on the conflict in Sudan. The women, who make up a Gender Experts Support Team that will inform the peace process, come from diverse backgrounds such as economists, teachers, internally displaced persons, sociologists, lawyers, media professionals, researchers and women's rights advocates.

UNIFEM's partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to facilitate women's participation in the negotiations is part of a larger effort to ensure that women are included in all peace-making and peace-building processes in the Sudan. UNIFEM has been working with the African Union (AU) to develop a "gender strategy" to inform its mediation efforts, focusing on strengthening the structures of the peace process with gender expertise, increasing the numbers of women in delegations and other functional committees, and integrating women's concerns into the content of the peace negotiations. Supporting the 15-member team and urging for their inclusion in the peace talks came in direct response to a recent gender needs assessment conducted by the AU and Canada, which recommended the attachment of gender experts to the AU mediation office, and gender advisory capacity to be provided to the talks' parties.

At the close of the sixth round of peace talks, the AU had called for stronger actions and commitments by partners and parties to the talks to include more women directly in the negotiations, and better reflect gender issues in its content. The AU has now appointed a Senior Gender Advisor to the Peace Talks, Dr Mary Maboreke, and the number of women in delegations has increased in the current round to reach a total of eight women (two from government and six from the Movement, a bloc representing the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Movement).

The inclusion of women in the peace negotiations acknowledges that the women of Darfur are not only victims and survivors of violence, but also fundamental contributors to peace efforts. The "technical" status accorded to the team in the negotiations means that they are officially recognized by all parties, partners and the mediation team as a main resource to draw from on gender issues.

The successful facilitation of the team's participation has led to the Sudanese government requesting for four more women from Sudan to join the team, especially women from government ministries with specific mandates for gender issues.

Besides the Government of Sweden, the Government of Norway has also committed to providing financial support through UNIFEM for women's participation in the peace process.

Iraqi War Deaths: June 3rd-9th

Those who died in Iraq from Jun 3 to 9:

Sgt Dariek Dehn 32 Spangle WA
Pvt Joshua Brown 26 Tampa FL
Sgt Kimel Watt 21 Brooklyn NY
Sgt Robert Surber 24 Inverness FL
Sgt Tyler Kritz 21 Eagle River WI
Sgt James Akin 23 Albuquerque NM
Sgt Greg Gagarin 38 Los Angeles CA
Sgt Caleb Christopher 25 Chandler AZ
Pvt Justin Verdeja 20 LaPuente CA
Sgt Andrew Higgins 28 Hayward CA
Sgt Ryan Balmer 33 Mishawaka IN

Sgt Matthew Kuglics 25 No Canton OH
Sgt Timothy Cole Jr 28 Missouri City TX
Sgt Matthew Soper 25
Pvt Shawn Gajdos 25 Grand Rapids MI
Sgt Greg Sutton 38 Spring Lake NC
Cpl Rodney Wilson 30 England
Air William Newman 23 Kingston Springs TN
Sgt Cory Endlich 23 Massillon OH
Pvt Scott Miller 20 Casper WY
Air Eric Barnes 20 Lorain OH

Over 600 were wounded each of the last 3 months.

463 Iraqis were killed in the last week.


Monday, June 11, 2007

New Cold War Underway

The news in recent days has been full of the controversy about U.S. plans to deploy "missile defense" interceptors and radar facilities in Eastern Europe. Russia has responded by expressing fears that the U.S. military and NATO are attempting to surround and control her. Russia has made counter suggestions saying that if the U.S. really wanted to protect itself and Europe from future Iranian missiles, then placing such facilities would be more practical in Azerbaijan. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice quickly ruled that out as an option saying, "One does not choose sites for missile defense out of the blue."

Russian President Vladimir Putin makes the case that since 9-11 the U.S. has established military bases in Central America, Romania, and Bulgaria, and has been expanding NATO into Eastern Europe with bases in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and is now attempting to create more bases in the Ukraine and Georgia. Russia is starting to feel surrounded. This is something that could never have happened during the Cold War - in fact if the U.S. had tried it would have likely caused a nuclear exchange. When the former Soviet Union attempted to put nuclear missiles into Cuba in 1962 - the U.S.'s sphere of influence - nuclear war was barely averted.

Participants at the May 5 International Conference against the Militarization of Europe in Prague issued a declaration opposing U.S. missile defense deployments saying, "We voice our protest against the plans of the Bush administration to install a 'national missile defense system' for the U.S. on the territory of the Czech Republic and Poland. Most people in the Czech Republic and Poland, as well as in the rest of Europe, reject plans to host this system. We reject the official reasons given for the NMD project as mere pretexts. The realisation of the U.S. plan will not lead to enhanced security. On the contrary - it will lead to new dangers and insecurities. Although it is described as 'defensive', in reality it will allow the United States to attack other countries without fear of retaliation. It will also put 'host' countries on the front line in future U.S. wars."

One of the first things the Bush administration did upon taking office was withdraw the U.S. from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia. This treaty banned the testing and deployment of so-called "missile defense" systems. Since that U.S. withdrawal, Bush has aggressively moved to fund and deploy the technologies that will give the U.S. first-strike capability of any other nuclear power. As we witnessed with the 2003 U.S. preemptive attack on Iraq, first-strike is now the official military doctrine of the U.S.

Putin recognizes this new twist when he recently said, "Once the missile defense system is put in place it will work automatically with the entire nuclear capability of the U.S. It will be an integral part of the U.S. nuclear capability....An arms race is unfolding. Was it we who withdrew from the ABM Treaty? We already told [Bush] two years ago, don't do this, you don't need to do this. What are you doing? You are destroying the system of international security....Of course, we have to respond to it."

Putin is obviously referring to current Bush plans to deploy "missile defense" interceptors in Poland and a high-tech Star Wars radar facility in the Czech Republic. The Bush team says these facilities are intended to protect against Iranian missiles but all one has to do is look at a map of the region and see that the real target is Russia.

Following the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the economy of Russia fell apart and the standard of living dropped substantially. But in recent years, due in large part to oil exploration inside Russia which now surpasses the daily oil output of Saudi Arabia, Russia's economy is growing again and the standard of living improving. Russia has become the world's largest producer of natural gas.

Russia has announced that four of its largest oil fields will not be open to foreign development and its national treasury has begun to convert Russia's dollar reserves into gold and rubles. None of these steps has been well received in the banking centers of Washington or London.

As fossil fuels become scarce worldwide, the U.S. and British banking and oil corporation elites have developed an international strategy to take control of remaining supplies. This is manifest in the present U.S. and UK occupation of Iraq and U.S. permanent bases in Central Asia - a key region for pipelines to move Caspian Sea resources south for shipment in the Asian-Pacific region.

But Russia and China do not accept the notion of the U.S. becoming the "master" of the planet. Already the U.S. Space Command has declared that it will be the master of space and will develop the offensive space weapons technologies to "deny" other countries access to space. Pentagon operatives have said that international treaties will restrict the U.S. ability to take unilateral and preemptive military action globally.

The U.S. secret military budget, the "black budget", is now estimated to be about $60 billion per year and is mostly funding high-tech space weapons. Even Congress is not provided information on how the Pentagon is spending these funds. A reporter at the weapons industry publication, Jane's Defense Weekly, did a research project on the secret budget architecture and suggests it came to the U.S. by Nazi scientists brought to the U.S. after World War II under the classified "Operation Paperclip."

On May 31 U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the U.S. favors a protracted troop presence in Iraq similar to the one in South Korea. Gates told reporters that he is thinking of "a mutual agreement" with Iraq in which "some force of Americans . . . is present for a protracted period of time, but in ways that are protective of the sovereignty of the host government." Gates said such a long-term U.S. presence would assure allies in the Middle East that the U.S. will not withdraw from Iraq as it did from Vietnam, "lock, stock and barrel."

Highly respected former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was quoted in April as saying that deployment of U.S. missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech Republic is an attempt by the U.S. to control Europe. "It is all about influence and domination in Europe," Gorbachev said. Asked how Russia could respond to these plans, he only said: "Time will show."

One Russian political analyst puts it more directly. ''Hitler was striving for global domination, and the United States is striving for global domination now,'' Sergei Markov, head of the Moscow-based Institute for Political Research recently told The Associated Press.

''Hitler thought he was above the League of Nations, and the United States thinks it is above the United Nations. Their action is similar... only the United States now is claiming global exclusiveness,'' Markov said.

Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502 (our blog)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

TTPC Speaks Out on Kroger

TTPC Joins Community Action on Kroger Anti-GLBT Acts

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition joins Out and About Newspaper and other groups in asking you to save all your grocery receipts from any store except Kroger and Harris Teeter from now until Sunday, June 17 and send them to us so that we can add them up and show how important our business is in a tough grocery market.

The "save your receipt(s)" campaign is in response to the two stores banning the GLBT community newspaper "Out & About Newspaper" from its free distribution racks after the newspaper entered into a contract with the DistribuTech company for placement in 34 Middle Tennessee Kroger stores and three Harris Teeter stores. The May issue was the only issue distributed before it was pulled from the stores by DistribuTech on May 31.

"Out and About Newspaper is an vital community resource and Kroger's rationale for removing it is nonsensical and suggests homophobic and transphobic attitudes," said Dr. Marisa Richmond, President of TTPC.

Here's how you can get your receipts to us. Drop them off at one of these locations:

First Unitarian Universalist, 1808 Woodmont Blvd in Nashville. Call (615) 383-5760 for office hours

Lucky's Garage, 207 14th Avenue North, during regular business hours.

OutLoud!, 1703 Church Street, Sun-Thu from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Fri-Sat 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Tribe, 1517 Church Street, during regular business hours

You may also tape them to a piece of paper and fax them to (615) 262-3167, or scan them and turn them into a PDF and send them to
Finally, please mail your receipts early next week to: TTPC, P.O. Box 92335, Nashville, TN 37209.

For background, go to on the paper's struggle with Kroger. If you would like to contact Kroger about this issue, please use the form at this link:

In the meantime, you have lots of options for buying groceries in the Nashville area.

Marisa Richmond

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) is an organization designed to educate and advocate on behalf of transgender related legislation at the Federal, State and local levels. TTPC is dedicated to raising public awareness and building alliances with other organizations concerned with equal rights legislation.

For more information, or to make a donation, contact:

Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC)
P.O. Box 92335
Nashville, TN 37209
(615)353-1834 fax

Friday, June 8, 2007

Democracy For East Tennessee Pushes Back Special Interests and Elects Progressive to Council

Democracy For East Tennessee this week beat back the special interests trying to spend public dollars on the wealthy and helped elect a new Progressive voice to the City Council.

Ellen Smith is the newest member of the Oak Ridge City Council and she ran for office saying, "Oak Ridge can thrive if we maintain and enhance (our) assets. I believe that many Oak Ridgers share this perspective, and I think we deserve more of a voice in city affairs. I want to help provide that voice on City Council.”

It's a message that resonated with Oak Ridge residents who gave Ellen the second highest vote count out of seven candidates.

Ellen's voice, with grass-roots support from DFET, battled a proposed shopping development that would have been supported with tax dollars.

Said Ellen, "This is the wrong proposal for Oak Ridge. We need more retail and more tax revenue, but I think Oak Ridge can and should do better than this proposal. The finances of this deal are not in the public’s interest (the city would spend $800 per household in the hope of increasing sales tax by an amount equal to the revenue from raising property tax by $20 on a $100,000 home). By relocating the center of retail activity to the Pine Ridge site, Crestpointe would doom our efforts to revitalize the city center while harming existing retail businesses."

The win for Ellen and against special interests took a lot of work and know-how from DFET members.

"We did some serious manipulating of Excel databases to get our calling and canvasing done smartly," said Joan Nelson, a DFET member. "Also, grassroots defeated big money and we defeated the bond issue. There is a behind the scenes power structure in Oak Ridge and I think we may be putting a crack in their fortress."

The DFET team has demonstrated once again the power of people-powered politics. Kudos to them for their hard work!

Jim Grinstead
Chair, Democracy for Tennessee

Report Back from the G8 Protests

G8 Warm-Up Tour: Whose World Is This?

by David Rovics

The riots in Rostock, Germany began around 3 pm last Saturday. In European riots outside of G8 meetings and such, generally all sides refrain from using lethal weapons. (If anybody breaks with this tradition – such as Genoa in 2000 or Gothenberg in 2001 – it is always the police.) The riots on Saturday were part of a long series of such confrontations around Germany, around Europe, around the world.

On one side were many thousands of police brought in from all over Germany, dressed in space-age green or black riot gear. On the other were thousands of mostly young men and women, mostly German but including participants from all over Europe and a smattering of other places, many wearing balaclavas or bandanas over their faces, most dressed in black.

These events are strangely beautiful, partly like a brilliantly choreographed modern dance performance with the city as it’s stage, partly like a medieval battle. Many of those who don’t wish to be involved leave the scene in a hurry, many others find some high ground and watch the melee unfold, and quite a few more try to keep on with whatever they were doing before the riot started and hope it ends soon.

For months before the event tension had been building, as is standard before these big convergences. As if following a script, the German authorities raided leftwing social centers throughout the country looking for people they described ominously as “terrorists.” (What a useful word for anybody you don’t like.) These raids were reported throughout the European press, of course. The idea is to scare people off from coming to the protests. As usual, it worked, and the crowds were probably less than half what they would be if so many people had not been afraid to go.

Police were stopping people driving suspicious-looking vehicles, looking for gas masks, fireworks, or other things they didn’t want at the G8 protests. Of course, anybody coming in a day early driving a normal-looking rental car like me had no problems and could have brought anything into Rostock, but if you were trying to bring some banned item in with a home-made “pull-me-over” car, or a big bus full of anarchists, you had problems.

But all the efforts of the police were in vain, since one of the most effective weapons people use in these confrontations are readily available in unlimited quantities in every European city – cobblestones. The streets of Rostock were littered with broken cobblestones that young people had been smashing on the street and breaking into fist-sized pieces to throw at the cops.

The most impressive part are the modern equivalent of the archers, those firing flares, lighting up the sky, arcing far over the heads of the crowd and landing in the packed lines of riot police. Many times the police retreated, many times they charged, and many times they tripped over each other in the narrow streets, where their numbers simply couldn’t be accommodated. By the end of the day there were hundreds injured, dozens with broken bones, including quite a few police.

The day began with my friend Lisa dropping me off at the main train station, where one of the two opening rallies was to take place. She forgot her cell phone in the hotel room and it took her hours to drive back to it. For the whole day it seems the police had shut down most of the roads leading into the city. Sometimes roads leading out were also closed, but mostly it was easy to get out but hard to get in.

For days leading up to June 2nd, mostly youthful alternative-looking sorts of folks were streaming out of the main train station, coming from all over, then heading purposefully from the train station to the main Convergence Center or one of the three camps within twenty kilometers of Rostock, surrounding the small resort town of Helingendam, where the G8 meetings are taking place as I write. On Saturday morning the crowd kept doubling in size every ten minutes or so until by 11 am there were tens of thousands of people, and the same thing was taking place at another site in town for the other opening rally.

The crowd was a multigenerational collection of people with very diverse views, but united in the idea that this world could be a very different place. There were representatives of the massive German anti-nuclear movement, there were those calling for the G8 nations to end their wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or to do something about global warming. There were quite a few Turkish communists, there were Danish union members, Dutch squatters, and many, many others with no particular political affiliation or ideology. Just people who know that things are not as they should be, this world is not quite the world we want, and these G8 leaders need to be held to account for the world they have, in so many ways, created for us.

They are essentially asking the question that is as old as what we dare call “civilization.” Whose world is this? Is it for the corporate elite and their pseudo-democratic governments to rule in the interest of profit, or is the world’s wealth for us all to share more equally? Is our world a place where we can allow any nation’s army to bomb cities in another nation? And when all this death and destruction is all about oil and control, what then? What is the appropriate response when our air is being poisoned by coal-burning power plants, our food and soil poisoned by pesticides, our water poisoned by nuclear waste, and we’re all dying of cancer? Is this how things should be? If not, how can we change the situation?

One of the speakers was from the MST, the landless peasants movement in Brazil. They have answered the question of whose world is this by seizing the land that the rich call their property and they are forming collective farms. They have chosen to eat and fight rather than to starve and die. The questions are immediate, the stakes high, and in Brazil, as with many other countries, much blood has been spilled over these questions.

In modern Europe there have been historic compromises between the haves and the have-nots, and most people live in relative comfort. The struggles rarely result in people getting killed these days. But as in the rest of the world, all over Europe the historic struggle goes on, continually trying to answer the question in one form or another, is the world here for the private gain of the few or for the public good of the many?

One of the things that’s always so striking about these mass convergences such as this week of action going on right now in and around Rostock is how few of the people I know in various activist networks around Europe are actually there. There were tens of thousands of people present at the big rally last Saturday, but they clearly represent a small fraction of the European left. Throughout my tour of Europe leading up to the G8 protests I asked people if they were planning to go. There were always one or two, sometimes a few, who were. But most said no, they couldn’t get off work, or they had to take care of their kids, or they were concerned about getting arrested, or they were on probation from the last arrest, or they were too broke to afford the train ticket.

Yet here we were on June 2nd, with the big public space in front of the train station thronged with tens of thousands of people. Behind the stage for everyone to see were two large banners, proclaiming in German and in English, “another world is possible.” I sang, a German hiphop artist performed, and then there were several speakers from around the world, including the woman from MST.

It was a long and peaceful march to the site of what was supposed to be the main rally, which turned into a smaller rally than the opening ones, as many people left, others stayed and fought, and a few tried to pay attention to what was happening on the stage, which kept on starting and then stopping again depending on what was happening around it.

June 2nd was the main rally against the G8, but the actual G8 meetings are happening now, with smaller groups (many thousands) based at their various camps engaging in road blockades and many other different types of actions to try and prevent the meetings from happening, or at least to disrupt them.

Already the G8 meeting organizers have cut their meetings down from three days to 1-1/2 days. They presumably have their reasons why they’re doing this, but everyone knows the real reason – fear of us, fear of humiliation, fear that the world will see them naked, humbled by a few thousand citizens determined to let them know that their elitist, corporate version of “democracy” is not ours.

My “G8 Warm-Up Tour” began with a flight to Copenhagen at the end of April. As soon as I dropped off my stuff in Norrebro I took a walk to the place that’s now being called “Ground 69.” 69 Jagtvej was the address of what was Copenhagen’s oldest leftwing social center. Built by the union movement in 1897 and called Folkets Hus – the People’s House – it eventually fell into disrepair and was squatted by leftwing youth in 1982 and called Ungdomshuset – the Youth House. Since then and until last March it was a thriving center that included a bar, an infoshop, several performance spaces including a ballroom with a stage and a great sound system, a kitchen where thousands of meals were cooked, practice rooms for local bands, and rooms for all kinds of other industrious and creative activities.

A whole generation of youth had grown up in and around Ungdomshuset. Many of them had kids who also grew up with the Youth House being a center of their daily lives, as their parents from the 1980’s generation mostly moved on to other things. In March the anti-terror police landed with helicopters on the roof of Ungdomshuset, filled the building with tear gas, arrested it’s defenders, and destroyed the building within a week. They had to use masked construction workers imported from Poland to destroy the building, since none of the Danish unions would work under police protection, out of principle.

In the taxi on the way from the airport, and walking down the main street in Norrebro to 69 Jagtvej, the evidence of the battle for Ungdomshuset -- for the right of the youth to have their house, and more broadly, the rights of people other than yuppies to exist in the quickly-gentrifying Norrebro neighborhood – was everywhere. There were thousands of posters carpeting the city advertising upcoming demonstrations. Ubiquitous graffiti saying things like, “I still feel like rioting.”

Official-looking signs saying “Jagtvej” had replaced many street signs that used to indicate that you were on another street. But now, evocative of the end of the film, Spartacus, we are all Jagtvej now. The two numbers that everyone in Denmark knows as synonymous with Ungomshuset, “69,” had replaced many addresses. My taxi driver was complaining about how much harder it is now to find the addresses of his customers since last March.

He was also complaining about the riots. Like many Danes, he was sympathetic with the struggle of the Youth House up until the several nights of rioting that followed the police occupation of the building.

But many others were either involved with, supportive of, or at least not particularly bothered by the riots, which were seen by many as a sensible or at least understandable reaction to the events that led up to them. This was also evident as soon as I got into the city. Many varieties of Ungdomshuset t-shirts and hoodies were everywhere, worn by many really young kids who had probably never seen Ungdomshuset when it existed. Many youth had made home-made patches saying just “69” or “Ungdomshuset Blir” – Ungdomshuset Stays – also the title of a song that became a national hit last fall. The scenes on TV of the riots – and they were well-publicized on national television – had caught the imagination of many young people, who identified viscerally with the young men and women battling with the police.

For several days, several neighborhoods in Copenhagen were characterized by burning barricades made largely of bicycle tires -- as with anywhere, you burn what’s available, and in
Copenhagen you can’t walk down the sidewalk without tripping over hundreds of old bicycles on each block. Broken glass, broken cobblestones, tear gas and sirens were the order of the day. To a very large extent, the youth of Denmark were on the side of those throwing the stones, not the ones firing the tear gas, whether or not they were entirely clear on the origins of the conflict.

It was a shock to see how narrow the new dirt lot was, where Ungdomshuset had stood. The building was a lot taller than it was wide, I realized upon visiting Ground 69. But what really brought back the memories of that place where I have played shows to so many great audiences was when we were outside the prison where fifteen of Ungdomshuset’s defenders were being held, close to three months after the destruction of the building.

It was there that I came into contact once again with the microphone that had been used for all of my shows there, and for many other shows as well. The mike smelled like someone who had not brushed his teeth in years, it was the worst-smelling microphone I’ve ever encountered. I suddenly could see the clouds of smoke, behind which sat or stood a hundred black-clad youth, listening attentively, or singing or shouting along with me, facial piercings reflecting the lights.

Every Thursday since the beginning of March, different groups were taking turns organizing protests and marches with sound trucks through the city. Many people from the early days of Ungdomshuset have come out of the woodwork, along with many young kids who had never seen the place other than in a photograph.

I was in town for several rallies.

On my first real day of gigs, May Day, I sang in the morning in the nearby town of Roskilde for members of the red-green coalition, Enhedslisten, who have a number of people in the parliament and are the extraparliamentary left’s biggest ally in parliament. In the afternoon I sang at the communist-sponsored May Day stage in a big park near Norrebro. In the evening I was hanging out by a park with anarchist youth and others there to party for May Day, who had put lots of burning rubbish in the street, something which has recently once again become a Copenhagen tradition, particularly since March. Police stayed a hundred feet away. This time nobody threw anything at them, and they didn’t try to clear the street.

One rally and march was on the 69th day since the raid of Ungdomshuset. Many hundreds of us were marching behind a very loud sound truck, and for the first time I was able to appreciate techno. It reminded me at the time of hearing the call to prayer coming from the mosques inside Israel. A very different social milieu, to be sure, but in both cases there was a kind of loud statement of existence, this affirming cry of “we’re here.” People from Christiania had come and added to this, bringing with them dozens of little home-made instruments consisting of tin cans and latex formed in such a way that when you blew into them lightly they would screech with twice the volume of a good bugle.

The more conservative end of the establishment is often characterizing the growing Danish youth movement as a bunch of self-centered brats, and with that in mind, one scene on this particular march was noteable. There was a police “escort,” as always, on both ends of the march. At one point they were suddenly agitated. Not speaking Danish, I didn’t know what they were yelling about, but it was suddenly clear as an ambulance was making it’s way down Norrebrogade. But as soon as the march saw the ambulance coming, with no need for any prompting, the street suddenly cleared of people and the ambulance sped through unimpeded.

It was a few days later that I got my first taste of Danish tear gas.

The conservative government in power in Denmark has decided to “normalize” Christiania. For decades there was a sort of détente between the Danish government and this 900-person commune in the middle of the city, two blocks from the Christianshavn metro stop. But since Anders Fogh Rasmussen came to power this is all changing. He has sent Danish troops to assist the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan (though they are now leaving Iraq). He and his rightwing political allies in the racist “Danish People’s Party” have turned Denmark into one of the least friendly nations in Europe for immigrants and refugees. And, among his other crimes against the people, he has embarked on a project to “normalize” Christiania.

Christiania is a magical place, and is one of Denmark’s biggest tourist attractions. In 1970 it was an old military barracks, no longer being used as such, and the counter-culture decided to take it over and create a community on these several hundred acres of land. They cleaned up the land and the water beside it, fixed up the buildings that were there, and built many more funky, artistic dwellings. They decorated the land with artwork, built cafes, restaurants, music clubs, and a very successful bicycle-making workshop, among other things. They provided office space for activist groups and a large building was given over to be used exclusively by people from Greenland. (Still a colony of Denmark, much of Greenland’s population has suffered at the hands of their Danish colonizers and suffer from alcoholism and other problems.)

The continuing existence of Christiania has been an inspiration for people around Europe and much of the rest of the world. It is essentially a small town with no cars, no police, no landlords, no rent, generally bustling with tourists and residents. Until Fogh’s police went in several years ago and busted the open hashish and marijuana market, it was the only place in Europe outside of the Netherlands where hash and pot could be bought openly on the street, in a safe environment. With no police force, hard drugs were kept out of Christiania by mutual agreement between the residents and the people running their stalls on what is still known as Pusher Street.

The people of Christiania resoundingly answered the question of to whom the city belonged by taking land that was not being used and declaring that it belonged to the people. The buildings had long ago been built and paid for, why should anyone “own” them? Why pay rent or mortgages for them? Who needs police or other such services? They pay directly to the utility companies for their electricity and water. Rather than being a burden in any way to Danish society or taxpayers, they are a top tourist destination.

But the government apparently can no longer stand this kind of example being set. They say they want to create a park and “low-income housing.” What the residents of Christiania already have is a beautiful park for any visitors who care to come, and free housing – but so close to the center of the city, on property that could presumably be sold for hundreds of millions of dollars, and Copenhagen’s real estate developers are salivating in the back rooms behind the Prime Minister.

So on the morning of May 14th, after claiming that “normalization” negotiations with the commune had broken down (they hadn’t), police arrived unannounced with a bulldozer and proceeded to destroy one of 52 houses which the government wants to destroy, for one reason or another. They’re not up to code, they’re built in the wrong place, or whatever.

As the house was being destroyed, supporters of Christiania – including many also involved with the struggle for Ungdomshuset – started sending text messages to each other, and within a couple hours there were hundreds of people there. By afternoon there were hundreds more, and still more by evening. I got there by around 4 pm, about seven hours after the house had been destroyed.

I was walking from the metro station towards Christiania and I saw a couple of women from Ungdomshuset that I recognized. I had heard that the main road that runs alongside Christiania was completely blocked off by the police, and it had occurred to many of us that looking “normal” could be a good strategy for getting through the police lines. These women, however, had multicolored dreadlocks and facial piercings. I asked them about that. “We’re under cover!” They said. “We’re not wearing black!” And it was true. I hadn’t noticed.

The police were still blocking off the road, but there was one smaller road that went into a residential neighborhood, and they were letting people in there. From that road you could get into Christiania. As soon as I stepped foot into Christiania I found myself running with a crowd of people away from a cloud of tear gas. Groups of mostly young people had made barricades to keep the police out, and set them alight if the police were trying to come in that way. The crowds would then stand back and throw rocks and bottles at the police, who would fire tear gas back. It went on like that all night. On the roofs of the buildings many people were watching the show, and trying to be helpful, making noises when police were coming from around the corner.

This was not the preferred response of many in the Christiania community, who are coming from a more nonviolent, hippie orientation. The spokeswoman of Christiania duly distanced herself from the rock-throwing. In response many youth that I talked to complained that the hippies just weren’t responding. But if they had waited a few more hours they would have seen how people at Christiania were responding.

Overnight several dozen people built a new, very artistic house on the site where the house had just been demolished.

A few days later there was what you could call an anarchist-hippie unity march. I stood on the sound truck, which was a more improvised version of the ones used by the Ungdomshuset supporters, a more colorful Christiania version, pulled by a tractor, one of the few motorized vehicles driving on the narrow dirt roads of Christiania. It was raining, but not too hard. Behind the crowd of several hundred people was one of the main entrances to Christiania. On top of an arch that you pass through to get in or out it said, in English, “You are now entering the EU.”

Despite the fact that the house had been destroyed, Christiania felt more like Christiania than it had in years. Since the hash market was busted by the police, gangs of cops had been roaming around Christiania nightly, randomly searching the bags of anybody they wanted to. This kind of behavior is very unusual for police in Denmark anywhere outside of Christiania, but ironically, it had become one of the least safe places to smoke weed anywhere in Europe. That week was different. Thanks to the burning barricades it had once again become a liberated zone, and people were taking the occasion to roll and smoke lots of big spliffs. The sound man and I were feeling good by the time we got to the government building downtown.

There we were met by the other half of the march, the weekly Ungdomshuset march that the Christiania march was timed to coincide with. The rainbow flags and the black flags intermingled, punk rock, hiphop and acoustic music once again on the same stage, completely surrounded by hundreds of riot cops, who stood around looking mean but didn’t do anything.

The new movement for Ungdomshuset was well in evidence, with many very young kids there along with the more typical teenagers and folks in their 20’s. As with marches every Thursday, there were older folks with vests that said (in Danish), Parents Against Police Brutality. They were keeping an eye on the cops at these marches, but not trying to play the unpopular role of “peacekeepers,” just watching out for the cops, and everybody liked them.

One of the people who performed was a woman named Nia, a great singer, sister of a great singer named Billie, daughter of a pair of legendary Danish rock stars, Annisette and Thomas Koppel of the band Savage Rose, generally identified by the 1960’s, but still going strong today. Thomas died unexpectedly of a heart attack not long ago, at the age of 60, and he is sorely missed by many. Only days before he died he finished a CD of instrumental music, which rose to #1 in the Danish charts posthumously. He also wrote something called Message From The Grassroots, a sort of “where do we go from here” piece, around which many older and younger Danish activists formed a group of the same name, and their banners and sweatshirts were well-represented at the rally. (Annisette was also at the rally, but didn’t sing that day.)

The weekend before the house demolition in Christiania I was in Sweden. I had played at a three-week-long film and music festival in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle in Malmo, just over the bridge from Copenhagen, and my next stop in Sweden was further north, in Gothenberg. I was singing at a rally against NATO. It was the second anti-NATO rally I had sung at in Sweden, which seems particularly odd since Sweden is not a member of NATO.

But there in the harbor of the lovely, canal-filled city of Gothenberg were dozens of warships from the US, Britain, Spain and elsewhere. Sweden, like most places, is a land of contradictions. It is by far the most welcoming place in Europe for Iraqi refugees, while at the same time it sells large amounts of high-tech weaponry to the US to bomb Iraq with. In fact, I understand that per capita, Sweden is the biggest arms exporter in the world. Officially “neutral,” whatever that means, it is a member of the European Union and has hosted many NATO events.

The anti-NATO rally was the biggest in Gothenberg in a long time, with thousands of people there by the harbor across from the warships. After the European summit in 2001 during which a protester was shot in the stomach by the police with live ammunition, the police were trying to be friendly, but of course they were there to protect the warships from us, posted every few feet along the harbor.

Here we had another very privileged European country with a large chunk of the population concerned and asking basic questions. Why are we hosting a meeting of an organization that is busily making war with half the Muslim world? Why are we exporting so many arms to nations at war when we claim ourselves to be “neutral”?

Unlike some other countries in Europe, Swedes these days don’t do a whole lot of rioting. The same can be said of Norway, which was the next stop on my G8 Warm-Up Tour.

I had gigs in Oslo and in Trondheim. Trondheim is a city of 150,000 or so, seven hours on the train due north of Oslo, but not even halfway to the northern tip of Norway, which is well into the Arctic Circle.

Around both cities could be found posters and graffiti in solidarity with the struggle at Ungdomshuset. Along with them can often be seen “Blitz Blir” – Blitz Stays. Blitz is Oslo’s answer to Ungdomshuset, another leftwing punk rock social center that has been in downtown Oslo since the 80’s.

You’ll also find posters saying (in Norwegian), “Norway out of NATO, NATO out of the world.” Not long before I got to Oslo, NATO had a meeting there, and it was met by a small but festive protest which the authorities and the media were referring to as “violent.” It certainly was no riot by Rostock standards, but there was a bit of fence-shaking and a lot of tear gas.

Because of this, my friend Stein was once again in the news. Since the heyday of the Norwegian squatters movement in the 1980’s, if anything exciting happens in Oslo, Stein gets the blame for it. He doesn’t seek the publicity, but if there’s a protest and he’s saying something into the bullhorn along with many others, more often than not it’s his picture that’s in the paper and his words on the television news broadcasts. Walking with him from the train station to his house and back, about a 20-minute walk altogether, he was greeted by at least a dozen people, some of whom he knew, and harassed by one cop who he didn’t know.

It was about a year before the NATO meeting when Stein and many other people were playing support roles for 23 young men from Afghanistan who were doing a very public hunger strike while camping on the grounds of a large church in the center of Oslo. The Afghans were asking the people of Norway a simple question. Is Norway a country where people like them shall be deported back to war zones from which they had fled for their lives, or a country that shall give them safe haven?

For 26 days they ate nothing, wasting away in front of the eyes of the masses of passing shoppers, commuters and tourists. I was in Oslo for a week or so during that time, spending a good bit of it hanging around the churchyard. Every day at 5 pm there would be a cultural event for the Afghans, their supporters, and the passersby. While I was around there were performances by musicians from all over Asia, Norway and, at least in my case, the US. I first met the Afghans by playing for them, and realized in the process to my delight that most of them were quite fluent in English.

It was an eventful week while I was there. The most memorable occasion was when the police came at dawn one morning to destroy the tents and arrest the hunger-strikers. I was there with several dozen other supporters, including many from Blitz, surrounding the Afghans and trying to prevent them from being removed. As usual, the television crews spent much of their time following Stein with their cameras to see what he might do or say next. If they tried to talk to him he’d tell them that the Afghans have a spokesperson and he’d point to Zahir, a tall, thin, intelligent man of all of 23 who was working day and night in the position his comrades had chosen for him.

When the hunger-strikers ultimately were taken away by the police and then released, they all came back and stayed in the churchyard with no tents.

It was a heartwarming moment when soon thereafter the Norwegian Red Cross came and erected their own tents for the Afghans, and also hooked them up with running water. The Norwegian parliament then finally said they’d reconsider each case. After 26 days of not eating this was the best offer that had been made, and the Afghans decided to end their hunger strike. Since then, however, Norway has deported many more people to the war zone that is Afghanistan today, occupied by Norwegian troops along with many other NATO soldiers.

After riding in the train through the snow-capped mountains and small villages dotting the landscape here and there from Oslo to Trondheim, I was met at the train station by activists from the UFFA anarchist social center and taken to a protest downtown.

Not only was it roughly the anniversary of the hunger strike in downtown Oslo, but it was also the one-year anniversary of the killing of a young immigrant from Nigeria by a Trondheim cop. It was a classic story, repeated ad nauseum in the US. It was almost identical to a story I had heard just weeks before in Sonoma County, California. The young man from Nigeria had low blood pressure and had gone too long without eating. In front of the social welfare office he was feeling delusional and apparently acting out. If he were a white Norwegian, of course, the cop probably would have recognized the situation for what it was and sought medical help for him. Being black, however, he instead strangled him to death.

Over a thousand people there in downtown Trondheim, and over a thousand at the same time in Oslo, wanted to let the authorities know that this kind of racism is not OK in Norway.

There also at the rally were many of the Afghans I had met in Oslo a year earlier. They had chosen that day to embark on a long march from Trondheim to Oslo to highlight their plight and that of other asylum-seekers who are daily being deported back to war zones like Afghanistan. I sang for them as they began their walk. As I write this, they are about three-fourths of the way to Oslo. Many people were concerned about how they’d do in the very sparsely-populated, snow-covered mountainous regions that they had to walk through to get to Oslo, but they assured everyone that they had had lots of experience walking through snowy mountain ranges escaping their homeland and getting to Europe. They all made it through those mountains just fine.

That night after the rally in Trondheim I was to play at UFFA’s annual three-day music festival. Before the festival I was talking with one of the organizers, Bjorn-Hugo, about the differences between the activist scene in Norway as opposed to other European countries. “It’s hard to be very militant when they keep giving you what you ask for,” he explained. For example, when the old UFFA center burned down by accident, the anarchists demanded that the government give them another building. The government did. It’s a bit further from the center of town, but it has a bigger backyard than the last one, and everybody’s happy with it.

But the folks at UFFA still have a lot to be mad about. Although the society is prosperous and nobody’s going hungry, Norway is an oil-rich nation that encourages fossil fuel dependency and global warming. It’s a big arms exporter. It’s troops are occupying Afghanistan. And a member of the Trondheim police force strangled an African immigrant to death last year, to name a few concerns.

It’s summer, and in Scandinavia in general, and northern Norway in particular, the sun never really sets. It always feels eerily like it’s about 5 pm. Long shadows, a dusky light, but never dark. For maybe a half hour at about 2 am it almost got dark, but then it started getting lighter again. When the festival was over, at 4 am, several dozen fairly intoxicated anarchists – they had been drinking a northern Norwegian specialty called Kolshk, a mix of moonshine and coffee – marched towards the social welfare office where the Nigerian was killed. It was only a few blocks from UFFA.

Along with the march, in a shopping cart, they brought with them a toy wooden police wagon, about a meter tall and a meter wide, big enough for a child to sit in and pretend to drive. “It’s Trondheim. We don’t burn real police cars here,” someone explained. They wheeled the toy police wagon up to the social office, doused it with moonshine and set it on fire.

In the early dawn light, beneath the cloudy sky, the bright red fire and black smoke was beautiful, and far more dramatic than I had imagined burning a toy police car might be. A couple of real police cars circled us but didn’t do anything provocative like get out of their cars or anything… The fire department responded with impressive speed, looking like they had just gotten out of bed and thrown their gear on, and were not happy to be awoken so early for no good reason. They dutifully put out the fire, turning the black smoke white, leaving a smouldering toy police wagon still sitting in the shopping cart.

Without missing a beat, folks bid the social office adieu and wheeled the cart back to UFFA. Some of them climbed onto the roof and planted the partly-burned, still-smouldering toy police wagon on top of the chimney for all passersby to see. I suspect the partly-blackened police car atop UFFA will be staying there for quite some time.

“From dreaming comes knowledge.” Armand was quoting an ancient Arab writer. I was in the Netherlands, starting the Holland leg of my tour. Armand and I were backstage at the ACU club in downtown Utrecht, smoking big spliffs.

“What kind of weed do you recommend I get at the coffeeshop down the street?” I asked. He looked at me skeptically. “I don’t touch the stuff from the coffeeshops. I only smoke outdoor organic.”

The Netherlands is now the only country in Europe where you can buy pot and hash over the counter in coffeeshops (since the Danish police put an end to Pusher Street in Christiania). It hasn’t always been that way in Holland, though, and Armand remembers those days well. When he was a young man in the late 1950’s he first smoked cannabis with some folks from the Carribean he met at the harbor in Belgium, and he’s been a proponent ever since.

In the 60’s Armand became a household name in Holland and Belgium (the Dutch-speaking world, you could say). As in Denmark, the US, and much of the world, it was a time when leftwing hippies like Armand could become rock stars, and he did. He had many hits, and was known as the Dutch Bob Dylan. Stylistically there is certainly a resemblance, though his lyrics, from what I’m told (they’re almost all in Dutch), focus largely on cannabis, with peace and love and other nice ideas thrown in for good measure.

At age 61, with a full mane of long, bright red, dyed hair, and very multicolored clothing, he can enthrall an audience for hours. He used to pack stadiums. Now he packs smaller venues, though with significantly larger audiences than I’d normally get most places, so doing several gigs in Holland with him was a pleasure for various reasons.

Armand and I were first playing at a G8 informational event, encouraging folks to go to the protests, talking about what was going to be happening there, before the music started. The fear tactics of the German authorities seemed to be crossing borders, since just the week before a hundred bicyclists were mass-arrested for having an unpermitted Critical Mass bike ride there in Utrecht. The general consensus was that the Dutch authorities were looking for names of people who might be going to the G8 protests in nearby Germany, to pass their information on to the German authorities, since mass-arrests of bicyclists is not the norm in this otherwise very bicycle-friendly nation.

That night I slept in a large squatted building only a couple hundred meters from City Hall, in the center of downtown Utrecht. There had been a big fire in the building fifteen years ago and the building was abandoned. Taking advantage of Dutch laws which say that buildings left abandoned for a certain amount of time can legally be squatted, it was squatted and fixed up at least to the point where people could safely live in it.

As in cities throughout Europe, real estate prices have gone through the roof, and abandoned buildings these days are rare, so there are always palpable tensions between the scruffy squatters and their yuppie neighbors who otherwise populate the downtown areas. Is living in the city you grew up in a right or a privilege? You’ll find very different answers depending on who you ask.

The same tensions can be found between those favoring more industrial development and highways and those favoring more forests, farms, bicycles and villages.

Sometimes these tensions exist poetically within the same family. My friend Antwan has been campaigning for many years on behalf of the forests, farms and villages. Campaigns he’s been involved with have gotten quite a bit of media attention, and he has at times been a bit of a celebrity, in some sense Holland’s answer to England’s Swampy or Julia Butterfly in the US.

Antwan’s brother, on the other hand, is known for a different reason. He started a multi-million-dollar business, running a factory in China that makes plastic trees and sells them to corporations around the world who like that sort of thing. You just can’t make this shit up.

One of the gigs I did with Armand was on the outskirts of Amsterdam, in what is essentially a small village called Ruigoord.

Ruigoord used to be a small village to the west of Amsterdam, right on the harbor. Below sea level, like most of Holland, separated from the water by a dike. There were a hundred or so nice old houses and a big old church in the village, with farmland and forest surrounding it on three sides.

In the early 1970’s the Dutch government decided they wanted to expand the industrial harbor, make way for more industry, make more money, dump some more toxins into the air, clearcut the forest and pave over the farmland. With these lofty goals in mind, they forced the people of Ruigoord to sell their houses to them, with the intention of destroying this lovely village.

The hippies of Amsterdam, upon hearing about the fate of Ruigoord, thought rather that the village should stay. They moved in to the now-vacant buildings and started a thriving community there in 1973, and they – and now a whole new generation in addition to the original squatters -- have been there ever since.

Until very recently, Ruigoord was a village under constant threat. The harbor company kept on expanding, taking more and more farmland and forest. Facing the loss of the last bits of farmland only a few dozen meters from the edge of the village, in the late 1990’s members of the Ruigoord community and supporters from around Holland acted decisively.

They set up camps on the threatened land. They lived in treehouses and tunnels beneath the roads, to prevent bulldozers from taking down the trees or using the roads. Antwan lived in a tunnel day and night for a month, and was nearly buried alive there when the harbor company ignored the fact that he was living under the road and tried to drive on it anyway.

“For ten years, every year was the last year for Ruigoord,” Armand explained. But after the campaigns, all the media, and some sympathetic politicians, recently a Ruigoord was officially allowed to stay. The forests and the farmland around it are gone, but the village remains. Next door, the first company to move in to one of the industrial buildings by the new expanses of harbor was Starbucks. When the wind is blowing the right way, the acrid smell of roasting coffee beans hangs in the air. Capitalism stinks, literally.

The occasion for our concert was the annual Ruigoord poetry festival. The poetry was all really boring (it was all in Dutch). But there were some fantastic bands in the big church, and Armand and I on another stage outside. Hundreds of big, sturdy, but lightweight rectangular buoys were all over the field outside the church. Normally these multicolored box-shaped things are used to keep ships from scratching up against docks, but somehow lots of them migrated to the village… They make great seats, as well as fabulous toys for kids, like giant leggos you can climb.

Reminiscent of the Merry Pranksters, there were two buses on the field, beautiful buses with windmills on top. One was from the older generation, and on the back, in big lettering of the sort that was used to advertise Grateful Dead shows at the Fillmore, were the words Amsterdam Balloon Company. The other bus was the creation of the younger generation of Ruigoord, and on the front of it were the words, Dutch Acid Family.

Now that Ruigoord has finally been more or less legalized, many from the community are planning on boarding the ABC bus to go support Christiania later in the summer. Others were planning to head to Germany. That was my next stop.

My first stop in Germany was the Rostock Convergence Center, then an anti-war protest about 120 kilometers south of Rostock, then back to Rostock for the G8 protests.

The first G8 rally was still almost a week away, but the Rostock Convergence Center was already buzzing with activity. Every hour small groups of people were arriving from all over Germany, Russia, Spain, the US, all over. The Convergence Center was a big old disused school building, but what it had become was unmistakable. Political art and graffiti was everywhere. A large banner hung from the top floor proclaimed “kein mensch ist illegal” – no one is illegal.

Inside the building were posters, announcements and proclamations from all kinds of different groups, each playing their part in making these protests a historic event. Without any central leadership, the place had the familiar atmosphere of a beehive. There were those organizing the massive undertaking of feeding organic vegan food to thousands of people each day. There were those organizing anti-racist actions against eastern Germany’s sizeable Nazi skinhead population. There was the Clown Army planning their own unique disruptions to business as usual. There were the techies setting up computers with high-speed internet access. There was the legal team, the people organizing shuttles to drive everyone to various locations in the area, and of course many groups making plans for a multitude of direct actions.

I played an acoustic show there at midnight. The next day I went to visit the camp in the small town of Reddelich. Reddelich is a farming community of 150 people or so fairly close to the resort town where the G8 meetings were to take place. When I first visited the camp there were maybe a hundred people there setting up tents, digging latrines, rigging up electricity, preparing the kitchen for thousands of people who would be coming, and so on. I talked to the cultural working group who happily scheduled me in to do a show on June 1st at the bar, then I headed out to Hamburg.

Hamburg is a beautiful city where I have spent a lot of time over the years. I visited friends there, and caravaned with some of them to a small town 120 miles south of Rostock, where local people have been in a legal battle with the German government over the fate of a large chunk of land which used to be a military practice area for the Soviet military.

Since the wall fell this area of land which was once covered with dust and Soviet tanks has now turned back into a lovely forest, and the people in the area want to keep it that way. The German government, after some talk of turning the land into a park, have in more recent years been talking about once again using it as a practice bombing range.

Once again the familiar theme, the familiar question which can be found everywhere you look – whose world is this? As is so often the case, the people and the government are at odds.

The military typically uses pyramid-shaped targets for their bombing practice, and the people there had small and large pyramids they had made, with the slogan on them and on signs all over the place, “every target is a home.”

After spending the night at a pristine campground by a lake near the prospective bombing range, I spent the morning talking to folks who are veterans of the anti-nuclear movement. Hearing about villages in the Wendtland region where there is a nuclear fuel processing plant, villages where the farmers have become very politicized, not just about the dangers of nuclear power in their backyard, but about the bigger realities of who shall control our planet’s destiny.

I remember visiting the Wendtland region just before the G8 protests in Italy seven years ago. In small farming villages I passed signs wishing people luck at the protests in Genoa. I heard stories of the unusual creatures of the area, the giant moles that mysteriously dug huge holes beneath the railroad tracks to prevent the nuclear transport trains from moving, or at least to delay them massively. For many years it has gotten to the point that tens of thousands of police are necessary to allow the train to make their way across the country.

When tens of thousands of police arrive in the area, people know a transport is coming, and soon there are far larger numbers of farmers as well as activists from across Germany there to lay down on the tracks, dig holes beneath them, flood them with water, cut them with saws, block the roads with tractors to make police movements very difficult, and so on.

The nuclear transport is a ritual that goes on every year, but this year it’s not happening, apparently because the police throughout Germany are too busy keeping the G8 meetings from being shut down instead.

After a festive rally outside of what is known as the Bombodrom -- the land where the government wants to do their target practice – people headed in to camp on the land illegally and be arrested. The arrests never came, however, perhaps because the German police had other things to worry about further north.

After the rally ended and folks were headed into the forest to set up camp, others of us headed up to Rostock. Most of the rest were planning to head there the next morning. I sped down the highway with a car full of anarchists from England, Belgium and the US that I had picked up, and made for the Convergence Center.

As I had anticipated, it was jammed with people and full of activity and anticipation. Everything was in high gear. Information was flying around about who was being stopped on the highway, which borders were being closed, who was being turned away from Denmark or Holland, were the police in one of the camps or not, which roads were open in the city, how many people were still being held from a protest the day before in Hamburg, how many arrests had their been at an anti-Nazi protest nearby, and so on.

With another car full of people I headed out to Reddelich Camp. It was June 1st. The camp looked nothing like what I had seen only a few days before. What had been tents had turned into buildings made of pallettes and other pieces of found wood or downed trees dragged out of the forest. Near the bustling tent-turned-building where I did my concert, people had built a huge children’s play area, including a merry-go-round type thing which was fit for an amusement park. Eight people (kids or adults) could fit on the eight seats that surrounded a large pole with ropes connected to each seat. Once other people pushed it clockwise so the ropes were wound up around the pole, it could spin fantastically for five minutes or so on it’s own.

Nearby was a very impressive jungle jim kind of thing. The kitchen was in full swing, feeding thousands of people. There was a welcome center to help people orient and figure out how to plug in to what was happening. There was a building with computers with broadband internet access, and many, many more structures that I didn’t have a chance to investigate.

Hundreds of people were milling about at the bar by the time the sound system and the improvised mike stand was constructed, at 11 pm. One friend of mine there from the US was skeptical about whether this crowd of mostly anarchist youth was going to be interested in some guy with an acoustic guitar, when it might be assumed that many of them were more into punk rock.

As soon as I started strumming, though, the milling crowd turned instantly into an attentive audience, and suddenly I recognized people I knew from all over Europe and North America. There they were, people I had just recently seen in Utrecht, Gothenberg, Copenhagen, and other folks I hadn’t seen in months or years from England, Belgium, Berlin… And, as always at these mass convergences, mostly just lots of good people I had never met before.

I headed back to town in the wee hours of the morning to get some sleep before heading to the train station for the big rally. I thought about the jaded leftists I’ve known who say these mass convergences are pointless, and how completely wrong they are for saying this.

Whatever did or didn’t happen in Heilingendam this week, thousands of people from all over the world have worked together, marched together, sat in together, made new friends, and they’ll be bringing these connections and these experiences home with them. Whether the G8 meetings were seriously disrupted or just inconvenienced, the authorities and the world at large has once again had to take notice.

All is not well in paradise, and just who calls the shots, and in whose interests, is not at all set in stone. Whether refugees shall be welcomed or shunned, whether countries shall export arms or build windmills, whether forests shall be forests or bombing ranges, whether villages shall be villages or industrial harbors, whether recreational drug users shall be productive members of society or shall be thrown away in prison, these are all matters of life or death, and these matters are by no means decided.

Democracy is in the streets, in the big cities, the small towns, the forests – but not in the seaside resorts. Sometimes – often – governments are compelled, forced to listen to their people, especially when the people shout loud enough, long enough, sit down in the streets and refuse to move.

And sometimes when so-called democracies feel they must defend themselves with armies of riot police, the cobblestones get broken. They can be replaced.

Whose World Is This is also the title track of a great Jim Page CD. You can read more of my essays by going to or Hope to see you on the road and in the streets.