Hey Faggot!!

Reprinted from Chumps on Parade (November 1997)

I don’t know how many times I have walked down the halls and heard students saying something negative about homosexuals. Maybe I am missing something, but when did it become all right to insult someone based on their sexuality? It’s as bad as insulting people based on race or gender, which is considered socially unacceptable, yet the same people who complain about that do nothing about the problems with people who use homosexuality as an insult.

A perfect example of this is when a student asks another student, “What do you think of my new backpack?” To which the student ever so eloquently replies, “It’s gay.” Using a phrase such as “It’s black” to express your dislike of the backpack would have you labeled a bigot right away. Yet you can call it gay and nobody has a problem with it. Something is wrong with that situation. Just today I over heard some kid tell his friend, “My mom is gay, she made me pay for my own Tommy socks.” Using phrases like that makes you sound like an idiot, is it really that much harder to say, “my mom is dumb”?

A couple of days ago as I sat in the cafeteria I heard some kids arguing rather loudly about how one of the people in their social clique was “gay” because he wouldn’t share his pizza with them. While their word choice bothered me, I decided to mind my own business and stay out of their conversation. After carrying on their conversation for another minute, one of the students decided to come over to me and asked, “Doesn’t that kid look gay?”, pointing to his friend. So I decided to respond with, “Are you homophobic?” Once again he showed off his intelligence by replying, “Fuck you! Maybe you are his boyfriend.” While it is impossible to judge the school based on one student’s actions, I still couldn’t help but think to myself, “So this is tolerant City High?”

It amazes me how the students at City can be that intolerant, despite the fact that City is supposed to be a school for the gifted. Gifted people shouldn’t see homosexuality as such an evil that it’s only purpose is to provide a way to insult another student. When I applied to City I heard all about how tolerant the student body is, how it doesn’t have the discrimination problems based on race or sexuality that other schools do. How can anyone say this when people continue to talk about homosexuality this way? Do they even think about the fact that there are homosexual students at City? How do you think they feel when they hear people talk like this?

The students of City High should take it upon themselves to stop using homosexuality as a basis to insult people or show your disapproval of something. It doesn’t take that much effort to stop doing this or to tell your friends that it bothers you when they do it. The problem can be fixed easily and will go a long ways towards making City the tolerant school that everyone thinks it is.

City’s Horrible Image

Reprinted from Chumps on Parade (November 1997)

When Mr. Slade addressed all of the classes at the beginning of the year, a big issue was City High’s image. He felt that City High’s image had been tarnished. Some problems he pointed out were students sitting in the halls, wearing hats, and listening to a walkman in the hall. All of these activities supposedly make City look bad, so he made everyone be confined to Cafeteria C during their free hours, where they could sit on the floor or listen to their headsets without being seen. Reluctantly students obeyed his wishes and the whole image thing was forgotten.

At least that is what everyone thought. On the 11th of Nov., Mr. Slade announced that students need to do a better job picking up their messes in the cafeteria because, “once again, this reflects poorly on the school’s image.” This came as no surprise to most several students, most of the people around me predicted that Mr. Slade would say that a dirty cafeteria reflected poorly on our image before he even mentioned it.

However, this article isn’t about Mr. Slade or our dirty cafeteria, which incidentally, is a problem that should be handled by the janitorial staff. This article is about City’s image. City has always been a school with a very good image. Most people know in Grand Rapids know that City is a school for the “gifted”, a school where the students are hard working and motivated.

City is still seen in a positive light by people in Grand Rapids. Every time I tell someone I go to City they are impressed. To them City brings up images of hard working, responsible students. I have never had a person say anything negative about City High. It seems that if sitting on the floors, listening to headsets, or any of these other activities were truly hurting City’s image I would have heard about it by now, as these activities have been going on for years. Not once have I had a person tell me, “City students are lazy, they all sit on the floor or listen to Walkmans at school.”

Maybe some students do sit on the floor and listen to walkmans, but does it really matter? Back when the students had blue mohawks or dressed like bums nobody tried to make them change. Their appearence certainly didn’t do anything positive for the school’s image. Until our test scores start slipping we shouldn’t be concerned with our image. As long as we maintain our position as the “best” students from an academic standpoint, we should be allowed special privileges. Even if that just means being able to listen to a walkman or sit in the halls with our friends.

Our Right To Write

Reprinted from Chumps on Parade (November 1997)

Underground newspapers are a perfectly legal way for students to express themselves, no matter what administrators might try to tell them. They serve the purpose of giving the students a voice where they can speak on any topic without the fear of being censored by a school official or giving out their identity. The First Amendment, or the right to freedom of speech, is the principal that protects student publications.

A supreme court case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, stated that students do not lose the right to freedom of expression under the first amendment when they enter school. This decision has been applied to various cases regarding the distribution of literature at schools, upholding the rights of the students to distribute their literature. The only way schools can control the distribution is the time and place where it can be distributed, but they cannot ban it completely or censor content. The students must be allowed to distribute their literature at school.

Some principals will cite the clause in the Tinker decision, which states that literature can be barred from school if it’s distribution martially and substantially interferes with school activities. According to Sullivan v. Houston Independent School District, minor disruptions must be tolerated in order to accommodate the rights of students to express their views. The court stated that it is “their misconduct in the manner in which they distributed the paper, not the idea of a newspaper that should be stopped.” The American Civil Liberties Union also agrees that some disruptions in distributing the literature does not justify banning the literature. The school can make a rule that regulates the time, place, and manner of distribution. However, a rule that regulated the distribution so that the majority of students couldn’t get access to the newspaper would be unconstitutional.

Despite the fact that the school cannot censor a student newspaper, the newspaper is still required to follow the rules of any other newspaper. Rules regarding libel, copyright infringement, and invasion of privacy still apply. As with any publication, it is up to the student editors to decide what is appropriate and inappropriate.

Some people will ask why students don’t use the school newspaper to express their views, and there is a simple answer to that question. Newspapers paid for by the school or created using school supplies can be censored, to some extent. However, the school cannot censor publications made by the students with their own funds and supplies, since they are independently produced. It is much easier for a student to write a “controversial” article or an article criticizing the school if they don’t have to worry about their article being censored.

Underground newspapers are an important part of students’ First Amendment rights. It has been established in several different court cases over the past 28 years that students have the right to publish newspapers and distribute them at school. Students cannot be stopped because they present an unpopular viewpoint or criticism of the school; they are protected by the First Amendment.

Local Think Tank Invites Media Pundit

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (September 1997)

On October 20, for $7 you could have heard ABC’s 20/20 personality John Stossel speak on “Greed and Freedom.” Sponsored by the Acton Institute, Stossel was to speak about the evils of regulation and the “unnecessary level of fear that exists for the American consumer.”

Of course Stossel would say this, he works for ABC, which is owned by Disney, a company that makes its money off of the slave labor of mostly women in poor countries around the world. Stossel, who used to be a consumer advocate and activist-reporter has now become one of corporate America’s favorite pundits. According to Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon in their most recent book, Wizards of Media Oz, Stossel has been producing bogus shows on 20/20 like “Much Ado About Nothing?” where he questioned the bans on unsafe chemicals or “The Town That Loves Garbage” where he hailed landfills and belittled environmentalists who worked for conservation.

Stossel was such a hit with big business and ABC that he eventually began hosting hour-long specials. One entitled “Are We Scaring Ourselves to Death?” was a critique of the federal regulations aimed at the chemical industry. “Unknown to viewers, two of the three producers hired to work on Stossel’s special had resigned–because their research, including data that showed product safety regulation to be cost-effective, did not conform to Stossel’s preconceived beliefs (Wizards, pg. 20).”

Also according to Cohen and Solomon, Stossel gave a speech in 1994g to the “American Industrial Health Council” – a group that includes Du Pont, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer, and Squibb – telling the firms what they wanted to hear. Stossel claimed that the EPA and the FDA should be abolished. The Council paid Stossel $11,000 for the speech.

Increasingly there is less and less distinction between the “news” companies and those they are doing stories about. Stossel himself is quoted as saying “I have come to believe that markets are magical and are the best protectors of the consumer. It is my job to explain the beauties of the free market.”

The Sweetened Version of a Modern Day Crusader

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (September 1997)

On Saturday, October 18, the Grand Rapids Press ran a front page of the “Religion” section article on Campus Crusade for Christ co-founder Vonette Bright’s recent talk in town. Press writer Joane Sher tells us that Bright was hosted at Calvary Chruch, the mega-church located just off the East Beltline with a seating capacity greater than DeVos Hall.

The article quotes Bright frequently on the importance of women being witnesses, sort of a compliment to the growing men’s movement known as the Promise Keepers. The article also gives us quote a bit of background on both Vonette and her husband Bill, how they met and co-founded the Campus Crusade for Christ movement in the early 1950g’s. Interestingly, nothing much is said about what Campus Crusade has done, nor what its mission is.

Founded on the campus of UCLA in 1951g, Bill Bright’s goal was always to promote an ultra-conservative Christian worldview. To counter the anti-war movements on campuses in the 1960g’s, bright organized the Christian World Liberation Front. The group eventually split off to become what was known as the “Jesus Movement.”

In the 1970g’s, Bright went worldwide with a huge crusade in South Korea called “Explo 74.” The crusade was endorsed by South Korean leader Park Chung Kee who was notorious for being repressive. The site of Bright’s headquarters for the South Korean campaign was located on a spot that was donated by the government, which was the scene of a bloody battle between Park’s military and squatters in 1968g.

In 1973g, Bright co-founded Third Century Publishers, a conservative evangelical publishing house to promote a right-wing economic agenda and a neo-theocracy approach to government. Amway co-founder Rich DeVos was also involved with the project. In 1987g, Bright was personally invited by President Reagan to be a part of a dinner meeting with Salvadoran President Duarte and his military brass. Bright attended and there was no mention of his challenging Duarte for his bloody campaign against the Salvadoran people, nor Reagan’s military and financial support of the bloodbath.

These are only a few omissions from the Press article on an ultra-conservative movement leader while in town. This should not surprise us in a religious political atmosphere that praises the Promise Keepers and demonizes women who question their agenda. (Some of the info in this article comes from Sara Diamond’s book Spiritual Warfare)

Debt, Deceit, and Death: How Vern Ehlers Misleads Citizens

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (May 1996)

At recent “town meetings” with 3rd Congressional District Rep Vern Ehlers, attendees received various information about the federal budget. That information (which continues to be passed out despite having become dated) includes a budget breakdown which is shown in a pie chart and a line graph that is supposed to indicate the “path to a balanced budget”.

The pie chart that constitutes graph 1 includes Social Security and other “trust funds” that are supposed to be collected and administered separately from general funds. By lumping those funds together, trust funds are made more vulnerable, and military spending is made to seem like a smaller portion of the overall budget. The government has lumped these funds together in this way since 1968, when Lyndon Johnson wanted to make spending for the USA war against Indochina appear to be less of a drain on funds than it really was.

In addition, interest on the debt seems to be understated. That interest is now over $300 billion annually. According to the War Resisters League, 80% of it, conservatively estimated, is the result of past military spending. When those facts are taken into account and separate trust funds are removed, the military proportion of spending jumps to about half

Vern Ehlers indicated that balancing the federal budget is very similar to balancing a family budget. When there is less Inoireyav3llable, then “tough choices” have to be made.

Getting to specifics, co noted that reductions in Social Security payments have been consistently opposed, though suggested that such things as raising the retirement age (which amounts to a reduction in payments) “may have to be considered”. As for military spending, which Vern’s chart labels “defense”, co said it has already been reduced by 20% and we can hardly reduce it more while expecting to be able to meet the Pentagon’s criteria of being able to wage two simultaneous wars at any given time.

Vern cited the present military activity in Bosnia as one example of why a continued high military budget is needed. It is as good an example as any. With consistent media reporting on how USA troops have reluctantly entered a violent situation in order to mediate peace, it is relatively easy to get away with such statements.

The real situation in Bosnia and elsewhere in former Yugoslavia, however, is that Western powers, led by the USA, worked for years to destabilize the economy there, and especially to crush worker-managed enterprises and social programs. Their success was primarily responsible for bringing existing social and ethnic conflicts to the point of war. USA-dominated international economic. institutions, as they have done in so many other parts of the world, ended up devastating the economy.

That restructuring continues to take’ place, as the sovereignty of former Yugoslavian states bas been stripped in order to allow international banks and other corporations a free band in plundering the area One writer calls such restructuring a “mirror” for what is increasingly taking place now in the USA and other industrialized countries (Michel Chossudovsky, in CAQ, Spring, 1996).

Thus a major reduction in military spending, contrary to the deceitful information that Vern Ehlers is propagating, is not just reasonable, but necessary if the world is to retain any real hope for peace. But that is not the only way the budget can be substantially reduced.

Another way is to raise sufficient revenue to cover the bills. Vern says that the “American” people oppose any further increase in taxes. That, again, is nonsense. There has long been considerable support, despite over a century of media propaganda, for a much more progressive tax structure.

Graph 4 incorporates military spending reductions with changes in the federal tax structure to make it considerably more progressive. It assumes, first, that taxes on individuals in the USA are structured so that no person earns more than 10 times what any full-time working person earns. .It follows recommendations along those lines made by labor writer Sam Pizzigati in cos 1992 book The Maximum Wage: A Common-Sense Prescription for Revitalizing America—by Taxing the Very Rich. Pizzigati’s plan would substantially raise taxes on the top one percent of incomes while reducing taxes for the other 99%. This would reverse the trend of the last two decades, in which the richest 1 % have more than doubled (perhaps tripled) their income, while the majority, despite a continually growing economy have seen their income reduced. At the same time it would add an additional $200 million or more (in current dollars) to federal revenues.

Pizzigati’s plan is incorporated not because it is the only way, or necessarily the best way, to reduce the deficit by making taxes more progressive, but because it is clearly spelled out and seems very reasonable, at least as a starting point. Some other progressive tax schemes on individual income would actually reduce the deficit even faster. For instance, changing the income tax rates to what they were at their highest point – at the end of World War II – would probably raise more money than Pizzigati’s plan. The highest tax bracket at that time was taxed at a rate of 94%, just 6% less than Pizzigati now suggests, while upper income brackets just below the highest bracket were taxed at considerably higher rates than in Pizzigati’s plan.

In addition, various corporate tax breaks can be removed. Yearly totals include S&L bailout costs ($25 billion), corporate deductions for mergers and takeovers ($20 billion), arid numerous other deductions for such things as expanding overseas (thus eliminating USA jobs) that collectively add another $50 billion or more.

Only current military spending is assumed to be reduced, to 10% of its present level. This would save over $250 billion yearly.

Given that military spending is so highly destructive, one may wonder why even 10% is retained. That is because some have argued credibly that, given the present state of the world, such an amount may be needed to actually protect the USA from attack. While some of us reject those arguments, it seems reasonable to bring military spending to that level first, then, as the rest of the world bas opportunity to stabilize, work at eliminating the rest.

At any rate, the combined total of the above savings -amounts to about $550 billion yearly.

Another major problem with Vern Ehlers’ presentation was the total failure to acknowledge the USA’s social/ economic debt to people in various exploited areas of the world. That this failure is common even among progressive-minded people in no way excuses it. Any talk of relieving the debt burden should not fail to include that debt.

As this debt is directly due to USA robbery of assets in those areas, it seems reasonable to tax a portion of that stolen wealth as a means of starting to repay the debt. A reasonable way to do this is to tax wealth concentrations over $1 million in two ways: first, a 2% yearly tax on that wealth, which would raise roughly $30 billion yearly, and second, a 100% lifetime gift tax on such estates, which would raise roughly $40 billion yearly:

The latter tax would have the added benefit of breaking up estates of wealthy families and eliminating the present gross unfairness of a relative few getting millions of dollars simply for being born into the right family while most people’s inheritance amounts to little or nothing.

Numerous people, from radical to ultra-conservative politically, have made suggestions along this line. Liberal/radical thinkers cite. the gross unfairness of the existing tax structure. Ultra-conservative thinkers cite the need to protect inequality. An example of the latter is Paul Fisher, who claims cos suggested wealth tax would be enough to eliminate th~ federal deficit all by itself, and who writes: “Such a tax on wealth is a reasonable charge for the service which the government should supply. No one can hold on to great wealth without the protection provided by the government through its laws, its courts; its police, its diplomats and military defense, and the other few necessary services which government should supply.” Unfortunately (but probably necessarily), such public honesty is rare on the “conservative” side of the political spectrum.

The total of those wealth taxes would be about $70 million, or approximately 1% of the USA’s GNP. Considering the incredible extent and depth of damage done to exploited peoples, this is clearly totally inadequate as a matter of justice. And, of course, no amount of money can makeup for most of the social damage already done.

But $70 billion is no small change, and could serve as a starting point for making such reparations as are possible. And making a commitment to begin those· reparations, even if insufficient at first, would bring the issues involved to the forefront rather than allow them to continue to be buried.

These suggestions are reflected in graph 4 which reflects not just the current year’s federal deficit, as does Vern’s graph, but the total federal debt (as defined by the federal government itself).

The solid line starting at the lower left, indicates the increase in the federal debt from 1980 to 1995. Note that, while it had been increasing up to 1980, after that year it increased at a sharply higher rate. In the 12 years during which Republicans held the Presidency, it increased from under $1 trillion to over $4 trillion.

The intention all along was not to balance the budget, as Reagan and Bush both claimed, but to undermine the social economic safety net that supports so many US Americans, just as has been done for decades in Third World countries with the aid of military coups, death squads, IMP restructuring, etc. David Stockman, Reagan’s budget director, admitted this long after co left that position: “the deficit was a deliberate creation of conservatives to cripple the public sector, making either redistribution or improvements in domestic programs almost impossible.

Now Vern Ehlers, another Republican, is suggesting we ba1ance the budget, as before, in large part on the backs of those in the USA who can least afford it Vern’s painful and unfair means of doing so (short line segments extending from 1995) would result in a leveling, but not a reduction, of the total federal debt by 2002. Obviously, that is better than allowing the present situation to continue (long line segments extending from 1995 and quickly reaching the top of the graph), which simply could not be maintained for too much longer.

For all Vern’s comparison of the federal budget to a family budget, the graph makes it clear 1bat co is not even sensibly using cos own analogy. In a family budget, if one incurs substantial debt, a reasonable person devises a plan not just to keep the debt from increasing, but to eventually eliminate it.

The solid line from 1997 to 2015 incorporates the above-mentioned strategies that Vern has failed to even consider in order to do just that. It should be noted that once progress is made in reducing the total debt, further progress becomes easier, because interest charges (which are now a substantial part of the deficit) are reduced. Though that interest goes mostly to those who are already wealthy, and therefore is hard to justify, i have assumed that it will, in fact, be paid off. It would be quite reasonable to restructure that debt, as bas been done for numerous Third World nations, cutting payments by, say, 50%, and thereby allowing reduction of the debt to zero even faster.

The short solid line at the upper right represents a reasonable guess that, if the USA/corporate debt to exploited peoples elsewhere in the world is attacked head-on as suggested, by the year 2050 we may actually be able to see our collective way to settling that debt. At present, and certainly for a long time to come even with such an effort, that debt will remain out of sight.

While it may be argued that such a rapid turnaround in federal indebtedness is politically unrealistic (i.e., the wealthy are too powerful to make it feasible), it is even more likely to be politically unrealistic as long as our elected representative to Congress fails to even raise· the relevant issues. And as long as the extreme inequality which fuels that debt is allowed to continue, it is also politically unrealistic for us to expect to retain any semblance of real democracy.

Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said: “We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” Empirical surveys by researcher Edward Mulier strongly bear this out,· indicating recently that democracy has always broken down in countries with the most extreme income inequality, while that has never happened in those countries with the most egalitarian income distribution.

The evidence cannot get much stronger than that, and the message cannot be much clearer.

Stand For Children: Making a Commitment For Their Future

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (May 1996)

Every day in America 15 children are killed by firearms, 2,660 babies are born into poverty, 2,833 students drop out of school, and 8,493 children are reported abused or neglected. For a country that claims to love its own or embrace “family values”, the US ranks 18th in the world in infant mortality. The Children’s Defense Fund, an organization that for years has been defending the rights of children, has called for a national day of commitment to children.

On June 1, in Washington DC, there will be a day long event to call attention to the plight of children and to get communities organized arid energized to work in their communities on behalf of children. Stand For Children expects over 1,000,000 people to converge on the Lincoln Memorial to challenge the harsh policies of the current administration. Their brochure states that “if you are struggling to raise a child but know you could do better, come stand with us. If you are a young or middle-income family working hard to make ends meet, come stand with us. If you are troubled by the pollution of our airwaves, air, food, water, earth, and our children’s values, come stand with us. If you are worrying about whether your children’s schools are preparing them for the twenty-first century, come stand with us. If you are anxious that your children will get sick and not get decent medical care because you lack health insurance, come stand with us. If you are lying awake nights concerned about your children’s safety, come stand with us. If you have had enough of political leaders talking about family values while not supporting what families need to raise healthy, safe, moral, and educated children, come stand with us. ”

Locally a group has formed to coordinate travel plans. Two buses are already reserved and hope to be filled. We are also planning a send off rally for die people who will be making the trek to DC. If you want more information on the trip or what else the local group is organizing you can call the 4C’s office at 451-8281. The group here is intent on using the June!, event as a rallying point for efforts here in Grand Rapids for the long haul. Even if you can not attend the DC gathering or the local rally talk about this issue in your family, school, neighborhood, work place, and place of worship. For the present and the future, LETS STAND FOR CHILDREN!

The Press Commits Another Sin of Omission: When Rape is Passe

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (May 1996)

On April 13, in the Religion section, the Grand Rapids Press ran an article from Newhouse News Service writer Julia Lieblich about a US nun who is engaged in a protest/ fast across the street from the White House. Actually, the article spends more time talking about the “concern” that National Security Advisor Anthony Lake and his associates are having in this case.

The headline reads “Administration officials make late-night visits to see protesting nun.” The title alone is enough to lead you to believe that they are on some humanitarian mission. According to the article, Lake has paid three visits to Sister Diana Ortiz who has been camped out since April 2. In fact, the article gives more print space to the supposed empathy of government officials than that of the reasons for Ortiz’s actions.

The Press article simply states that Sister Ortiz “was raped and tortured in Guatemala.” No other specifics are mentioned. We are given no date or any testimony from Sister Diana herself about what happened. It is almost as if rape and torture were incidental in this case. The article mentions former US Ambassador to Guatemala Thomas Strook’s challenge of Ortiz’s story, but no one who supports her case is cited. For as much as the article reflects the agony of the government officials on this case you might expect the writer to give equal time to the agony of Sister Ortiz. Not so. The specifics of her abduction, rape, and torture are quite available, however. You can find full testimony in publications such as Report on Guatemala, the Bulletin of the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission/USA, as well as a taped interview on Alternative Radio. Any competent journalist could easily find these sources.

Some of the specifics of her case are as follows. She was abducted on November 2, 1989. Her abductors took her to a warehouse-like building, where Sister Diana recounts that she heard “the despairing screams of people being tortured and I watched helplessly as an innocent person was tortured.” She was then questioned and every time she responded men burned her with cigarettes. In all she has 111 burns on her back from the interrogation. She then says, “I was raped numerous times. After pouring wine over my body they used and abused my body in horrible ways that are too humiliating to describe in detail. Then they lowered me into an open pit packed with human bodies – bodies of children, women, and some men, some decapitated, some lying face up and caked with blood, some dead, some alive – and all swarming with rats.” Had any aspect of this testimony from Sister Ortiz been included in the Grand Rapids Press article would it have changed your impression of this case? I think it probably would have.

None of these serious omissions by the corporate media should surprise us though. If we look at the date of the crimes committed against Sister Diana, Nov. 2, 1989, we can make other conclusions about the self-censorship that the corporate media engages in regularly.

According to Noam Chomsky in Terrorizing the Neighborhood, when this story appeared on the AP wire service on Nov. 6, 1989, none of the major media picked the story up, nor were there Congressional calls for an investigation. Just over a month later and right before the illegal US invasion of Panama, George Bush waxed indignantly about what happened to a US woman in Panama. “If they threaten and brutalize the wife of an American citizen, sexually threatening the lieutenant’s wife while kicking him in the groin over and over again – then….please understand, this president is going to do something about it.” (see Stephen Shalom’s Imperial Alibis, pg. 178-79) So, if a US woman is terrorized in a country that the US military is about to invade it is an outrage, but if a woman is terrorized in a country that systematically murder’s its own people (with US government support) it is not worthy of mention? You decide.

Finally the Press article does make mention that Sister Diana is pushing the Clinton Administration to release all classified documents related to her case. They also cite a catholic priest who believes that Anthony Lake’s interest is more posturing than genuine concern. However, the article does not seriously look at the present efforts by the Guatemalan solidarity community in this country to push the Clinton Administration to release all declassified documents related to Guatemala since the CIA-led coup of 1954. In the most recent issue of Report on Guatemala, Jennifer Harbury states that after receiving some declassified documents it is clear that Anthony Lake and other US government officials were either withholding information from her or deliberately deceiving her in regards to the status of her husband Efrain Bamanca Velasquez, who is now believed to have been killed at the hands of CIA paid military officers in Guatemala. No wonder the corporate media is “missing” the real story, it would not only indict the role of numerous US administrations in grave human rights abuses in Guatemala, it would also be self-indicting since the bulk of the information on cases like Sister Ortiz has been available for decades and has not been reported on.

Lawbreaking Lawmaker Passes On Legacy of Killing

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (May 1996)

In the Jan/Feb FUN we reported how west Michigan State Rep. Leon Stille bragged about violating speed laws, and urged others to violate speed laws, despite knowing that increased injury and death was the inevitable result. Stille also advocated modifying those laws, knowing that doing so would sanction increased death and injury.

Now we learn that Leon Stille’s daughter, Kristina Lee Stille, rammed cos car into another car with the result that the driver of the other car was killed. Stille had apparently been drinking prior to the crash.

Moreover, Kristina Stille apparently bad been in two previous crashes (“accidents”, according to Grand Rapids Press terminology). One of those bad injured two people.

Leon Stille commented, ”We’re just absolutely devastated for their family and for ours.” But there was no indication that their “devastation” resulted in any rethinking of cos support for higher speeds for the lethal vehicles that this family uses regularly and apparently takes for granted. One more person dead- too bad; on with business as usual.

We bet that Kristina Lee Stille will not get a long prison sentence for this murder. In fact, we bet co will get no jail or prison time whatsoever. The family is White, prominent, and is making “appropriate” noises of remorse for this “tragedy”.

Employment in Inner City Grand Rapids: Not Just an Issue of Black and White

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (May 1996)

A few people had told me that employment in Grand Rapids’ inner city, particularly among Black males, was shockingly low – much more so than for Whites. Others dismissed the figures as certainly exaggerated. So i decided to investigate, using 1990 Census data.

The data available did not allow me to break down employment according to male and female in most cases, though i was able to do so for young adults. But here is what i was able to come up with:

In the entire city, the White employment rate for ages 16 to 65 is 95%; the Black rate is 81 %. Put another way, official Black unemployment in Grand Rapids is almost four times higher than official White unemployment.

In the central city – which. defined as all those neighborhoods any part of which is within one mile of the Downtown or Heartside neighborhoods – official White unemployment, at 8%, is less than a third the rate.of official Black unemployment, which stands at 26%.”‘

Those official figures do not take into account those not in the labor force, whether because they are unpaid “homemakers”, or have given up looking for paid work, or for other reasons. Taking that into account, the citywide White employment rate is 78% while the Black rate is 57%. In the central city those respective rates are 74% and 44%. In other words, in the central city slightly over I in 44 White people of employable age are not employed, while that figure for Black people is more than 1 in 2.

Among 16- to 19-year-olds who are not in school, 39% of Whites are either unemployed or not in the labor force. For Blacks the figure is 72%. In the central city those figures are 47% for Whites and 76% for Blacks. To put those last figures another way, slightly over half of young White people in the central city who are not in school have a job; the comparable figure for young Black people is slightly less than one out of four.

Due to lack of further information, these figures should be treated with some caution. In particular, there is no way to know how many of those considered “not in the labor force” are being monetarily supported by other family members.

In addition, it does not make sense to compare apples to oranges; the data are only meaningful when similar categories are compared to each other. For instance, comparing the extremes of the rate of official unemployment among White adults throughout the city (or the county) to the rate of those “not in the labor force” who are Black, young adults, and not in school, Is not very meaningful- there are too many variables to enable one to draw meaningful conclusions from such comparisons.

Nevertheless, the discrepancies that these figures make clear are striking enough to be of very serious concern. And according to recent data developed by GRETS, population is up in Grand Rapids while employment is down. Thus, the situation is probably worse now than it was in 1990g.