Category Archives: politics

Rough Cut Resurrected: Watsonville Peace & Unity March

Watsonville Peace MarchIt took me three years to write the first draft of my novel, Fruit of the Devil. Writing was ecstasy—the story poured out of me as if it were being channeled. The characters came alive. Then I found out the horrible truth—that “writing is rewriting”—and I embarked upon what has now become  five years of revising, editing, and rewriting hell. Almost half of my original content has been trashed because, according to my various esteemed editors and critique groups, those scenes, characters, and chapters didn’t “move the plot.” “Keep it moving” is the mantra of genre fiction writers, and rightfully so—it would be nice to write a book that people will read. (Although I will guiltily admit to a secret proclivity toward writing literary fiction.)

Whatever. I’ve found that in any medium—whether it be clay, paint, or words on a page—there comes a critical moment in the creative process when one feels oneself futzing around, putting edited bits back into the work. That’s when the artist is at risk of overworking the piece and needs to stop; must surrender to the fact that works of art are works-in-progress, and are rarely perfect. I believe I’ve come to that moment with Fruit of the Devil.

Today, I sewed four pages, which I had previously savagely chopped off, back into the body of the manuscript. When I finished doing the horrible deed, I actually heard a voice in my head saying, “Thank you.” I think the manuscript is still breathing, and the resurrected piece is more relevant today that when I wrote it five years ago. The scene describes a community’s response to gun violence.

My main character, Aurora Bourne, is in love with a Catholic priest, Father Francis, who works in the community with at-risk youth. Aurora’s fourth grade student Paloma has two brothers—fifteen-year-old Johnny and eighteen-year-old Victor. Johnny has just jumped in with a Norteño cliqué and has been arrested after trying to rob a liquor store. He sustained major injuries from being jumped in and is now in the hospital under police custody. Victor and Father Francis visited him earlier in the day . . .

    *     *     *     *     *

Valle Verde Plaza

At high noon, the fifth annual Peace and Unity March wound through town toward the Plaza. Leading the march, the Azteca Mexica Ixtatutli—the beautiful White Hawk dancers, all in feathers—blessed the barrios and the pueblo in an indigenous, ceremonial way, with smoky copal incense and the haunting tones of a conch shell horn. The blessing felt like strong medicine. Victor, wearing a brown t-shirt and brown beret, was up at the front of the march with other similarly uniformed young men and women.

The community of Valle Verde had organized and come together today, on el Día de los Muertos to honor those who had died in violence, to listen to the family members of those who had been murdered, and to pray, bless, rally, sing, dance, and support El Pueblo de Valle Verde with peace.

Victor felt very uplifted and salved in his heart to be a part of this gathering. These people, his communidad, had Ganas—they had the will, the spirit, to affirm life and peace, in the face of so much personal tragedy. That’s what he needed today, just to keep it going, to keep on believing.

The marchers wound through the city and returned to the plaza. Victor watched all the familias setting up memorials to loved ones lost to violence, placing mementos, photos, flowers, and even favorite foods and personal effects of the departed on the altars. People were remembering their muertos for all the community to see.

The rally started. A woman up on the stage spoke through a microphone. She was a small woman but her voice sounded like it could shake down mountains.

“This violencia is going to stop,” she said. “I’m here today because I lost my son at the hands of gang members. Too many of you know about the pain I am feeling. We all need to work together to end the violence and bring peace to our community. The cops try, but they can’t do it by themselves. We need the families to get out and show support. The answer isn’t just more law enforcement. It’s about parental involvement and community building, education, and faith at a time when it’s clearly hard to come by. I pray that all this violence will stop. But prayer isn’t enough. This is our community. We need to take it back, for the sake of our children.”

The crowd cheered and applauded. Another speaker took the podium—one of the founders of the Valle Verde Brown Berets, a guy named Vallejo.

“We are proud to be here today. Proud that the Brown Berets could play a part in organizing this Peace and Justice rally. We’re tired of the injustices in our community, and tired of not having a voice or political representation in our own town . . . We’re young and brown, so they don’t want to listen to us. But we will be heard.”

Victor had a lot of respect for Vallejo and his message of courage and self-determination. He’d met Vallejo at Indian Canyon with Father Francis, and had heard him speak at the weekly Brown Beret meetings in the Bike Church downtown, across the alley from the Adult School. The guy was a natural born leader.

Victor ambled around the fountain in the center of the park-like plaza. Art, tradition, and culture surrounded him. The Folklorico dancers were swirling their colorful skirts in beautiful, traditional dances of Mexico. Women and children were giving out treats for free—candies, skulls made of sugar, and pan de muertos, bread of the dead.

On the stage where the woman had spoken earlier, Teatro Campesino was getting ready to put on a performance. Victor sat on the grass to watch and drink his champurrado, a thick and delicious Mexican hot chocolate. The Father of Teatro Campesino, The Farmworkers’ Theater, introduced the play. Luis Valdez was a distinguished looking man with a silver moustache. He related the story of how Teatro Campesino had gotten its start out in the fields on flatbed trucks, among the grape and lettuce pickers, back in Cesar Chavez’s day. It had been born on the strike lines of the Great Grape Strike of 1965—Chicano Comedia Popular, revolutionary guerilla street theater.

“When I produced my film Zoot Suit, I made enough money to purchase a teatro permanente down in San Juan Bautista. If you haven’t already, I hope you will come to see us there. But we don’t forget our roots. We will always show up for the people, right out in the open air, whenever we are needed, like today. We hope you enjoy the show.”

As usual, the actors wore wonderful, crazy costumes and talked in a mixture of Spanish and English, street slang, and even a little bit of barely intelligible Azteca and Mayan. The play was an exciting and surreal story full of regular people getting mixed up with strange, supernatural characters and happenings, surprises for both the living and the dead, and very funny lines with lots of double meanings and satire that made the audience split their sides laughing. Victor’s heart was hurting real bad with worry for his little brother. But still, it felt good to laugh.

After the play, children in skeleton costumes with black and white painted faces gathered in the center of the plaza, next to the fountain. Victor’s little sister, Paloma, was not among the children. He’d insisted that she stay home with Grandpa tonight. She was too upset about Johnny.

As evening’s shadow descended, people began lighting the candles they held in their hands.

Several compañeros from the Brown Berets stepped out of the dark and surrounded Victor. “We’re here for you, hermano. We heard about Johnny,” said Pato. “He’s gonna be alright.”

A large mariachi band assembled. Wearing cleric’s collars and black robes, a couple of priests from St. Patrick’s—the big red church in town—said a blessing. Acolytes passed through the throng with smoking incense censers. Pretty soon, everybody was moving, following the children on a procession to the community arts center a few blocks away. There, they would have a grand fiesta, with elaborate altares made by community groups, more food, music and dancing until midnight, when all of the souls went home to rest.

Victor moved along with the crowd, following the eerily lit skeleton kids and the priests with their thuribles of swirling, ghostly copal smoke. The procession wove along Main Street and up toward the Galleria del Arte. The mariachi band, with its full-blown brass cacophony, sent evil spirits flying off ahead of the revelers into the night.

In the bruised, dark purple twilight, Father Francis suddenly appeared at Victor’s side.

The priest, clothed in jeans and a light nylon jacket, put his arm around Victor’s shoulders and sang to the mariachi musica at the top of his voice.

Victor joined in, lifting his voice and his heart, his spirit, up into the night.

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March for Science ~ Washington D.C. Earth Day, 2017

Here’s a nice song to listen to if you don’t mind having a second window open while looking at the slides.

I am an American Citizen. A Patriot. My family has lived, worked (mostly as coal miners, farmers, and teachers), loved and died on American soil for over 400 years. I love my country. I’m also a well-educated researcher, trained in scientific method, the daughter of an electrical/chemical engineer and wedded to a physicist. I rely on Truth, not “alt-facts” to navigate reality. Therefore .   .   .

In April 2017, I  felt compelled to travel from California to Washington D.C. to take part in the March for Science and, a week later, the Peoples Climate March.

Early in the morning on Earth Day, we gathered at the downtown offices of the Union of Concerned Scientists, where we had coffee and donuts, got our tee shirts, talked, and made signs. Then we marched. In spite of bitter driving rain on Earth Day, at least 300,000 people marched in the nation’s capitol (and many more participated in cities around the country) to support scientists, scientific rigor, funding for scientific research, science-based governmental and non-governmental institutions, and respect for the  scientific process as a means of understanding reality and verifying facts.

The following weekend, more than 100,000 people turned out despite ironic record-breaking heat. We marched all the way from the Capitol Building to the White House to demand that our governmental representatives honor commitments we made, with the signing of the Paris Climate Accord, to reduce carbon emissions.

Lately I often feel like I’m standing on the sidewalk watching my house burn down. Paralyzed. Hypnotized. Slack jawed. In shock.

Since the November inauguration, we’ve witnessed a violent assault against all the institutions that Make America Great: our national Environmental Protection Agency, our Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Protection Acts, our National Parks and National Monuments, our National Security System, our Courts, our Health Care, Social Security, and Medicare, old age pensions, labor unions, Food Safety, Women’s Rights, Civil Rights, our Middle Class, our Public Educational System, freedom from the threat of nuclear holocaust, national infrastructure providing good roads, hospitals, sustainable energy and healthy water systems and our respect for honesty, civility and truth. In fact every aspect of government that makes Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness possible for We the People is now under threat of being dismantled.

Every day on the news I hear new revelations about high Treason, Lies, Theft and Corruption. I, like you, try to stay balanced and positive, try to juggle day-to-day survival in an economy where it seems increasingly difficult to make ends meet. I try to eat healthy, exercise, maintain my home and garden, do creative work, read and write, meaningfully connect with family and friends, sustain a spiritual practice. I try to devote time to uniting with others in our life-or-death struggle to resuscitate the greatest democracy human civilization has yet known, to unite with others to keep those things we’ve worked so hard to protect from unraveling, to unite with the people of the world to peacefully usher in the Great Turning .   .   .

But often, the best I can do is lay on the couch twittering and facebooking the latest shockwave on my smart phone while the timber that scaffolds my earth household collapses and falls around me in flames.

In case you too have been feeling that we’ve lost our collective soul, I offer you these photos, which I took at the Climate and Science Marches. Look in the faces of these people, our fellow Americans. And know that at the marches I found that which Makes America Great: The best of America. Our Character and Values are alive and well in our People: Hope. Perseverance. Creativity. Intelligence. Humor. Ethics. Compassion. Strength. Care. Craftsmanship. Rigor. Fortitude. Innovation. Scholarship. Genius. Diversity. Union. Justice. Honesty. Respect. Faith. Courage. Love.

(climate march photos coming soon)

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On the March

After the Women’s March, Women are Still Marching On

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Some say the WOMEN’S MARCH, which took place world-wide the day after Trump’s inauguration, marked a global transition in the consciousness of women and in the men who love and respect women. The Spirit of Standing Rock woke many to this new consciousness, to the realization that  love, peace, and compassion are more powerful revolutionary forces than hatred, fear, and violence.

On the day of the march, women donned their pink pussy hats and owned those disparagingly sexist labels of “pussy” and “nasty woman” with pride. Our march was remarkable not only because of its historic numbers, but also because everyone that day, even the police, honored the Divine Feminine with beauty, grace, humor, peace and love.

But the Divine Feminine is not only a spirit of love, peace and beauty. She is Great Destroyer as well as Mother Creator. Sisters, now is the time to get in touch with all the power of our Divine Feminine. Wipe that pink juicy pussy couture off your face, slip on your warrior armor and rise. Treasonous Trump and his cronies must be stopped before they destroy all that is good, beautiful, innocent and sacred of Mother Earth and her children. Beyoncé said it, right?

Okay Ladies, now let’s get in Formation. Prove to me you got some coordination. Go hard. Go hard. . . I slay. We slay. Slay, Chick, or you get eliminated. ”

We cannot be emancipated by someone else. We must emancipate ourselves, to be truly free and equal. 

Are you WOKE yet? Can you hear me now? Connect the dots: The Women’s Movement, Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, Sustainability, Climate Change, Banking and Capitalism, Marketing, .  .  .   It’s all connected.

Have you seen that viral Pepsi ad? http://www.vanityfair.com/…/kendall-jenner-pepsi-ad Pepsi trying to co-opt the #BlackLivesMatter movement in order to sell soft drinks. That’s evil. But corporations using marketing to co-opt liberation and justice movements is nothing new.

I think women-hating misogyny in America runs even deeper, and is older, and more virulent than racism. Around a hundred years ago Edward Bernays, Father of Modern Marketing, figured out how to promote the TOBACCO industry by using the Suffragettes (Yes, R.J. Reynolds used those women who risked their very lives to win women’s right to vote, after they’d already helped to win the Black vote – big tobacco used those women’s equal rights campaign to sell cigarettes. )

These marketing corporations have been sticking it to us ever since Bernays figured out how to manipulate us through fear, lust and greed. But not a lot of people paid attention.

Check it out: Have you noticed the way the big department stores are currently selling torn blue jeans for over $100 a pair? Yes, you and your daughter can join the proletariat and sacrifice and struggle to make the world a better place, so poor you can’t afford new blue jeans, or you can pay a lot of $$$ to just look cool – like a radical protestor – in your ripped designer  jeans.

How did this happen? Watch the amazing four-part documentary The Century of Self to understand how corporate capitalism is co-opting our authentic grass-roots movements and manipulating We the Consumers. Wait. We are NOT Consumers. WE are Citizens, and PEOPLE. We are Human. Not slaves born to lift the machine’s GDP. The Century of Self : https://youtu.be/eJ3RzGoQC4s

Here’s the Pepsi ad with hilarious commentary by Stephen Colbert. Be sure to scroll all the way down and watch Seth Meyers’ alternative ending to the ad (it’s sick). http://www.vanityfair.com/…/kendall-jenner-pepsi-ad-stephen…

Stephen Colbert Rips Kendall Jenner’s Ill-Conceived Pepsi Ad
“Luckily, Ms. Jenner, a wealthy young white woman, knows exactly how to handle police at a protest.   vanityfair.com

Until we are all free, none of us will be.

So who’s #45 GOT BY THE PUSSY now? Besides poor zombie Stepford Wife Melania, he’s got  Congressional Representatives Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming and Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina selling out to SERVE the Master. These token women were photo op’ed at the signing of a Trump executive order rolling back hard-fought victories for women in the workplace.

Trump’s order revokes the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces legislation that protected women from sexual harassment in the workplace and guaranteed fair payroll practices. http://www.nbcnews.com/…/trump-pulls-back-obama-era-protect…

How did #45 get Liz and Gini to go along with screwing the women of this country? Maybe we should grab him by the balls and ask him. Snip snip.

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And now, Arch-misogynist #periods-for-PENCE and the Republicans have forced the HobbyLobby anti-contraception  Supreme Court nominee Mr. Gorsuch through, with Mitch McConnell’s democracy-destroying “nuclear option” clearing the way for repeal of Roe v. Wade and a future for American women resembling the cultural/socio/political-economic landscape of The Handmaid’s Tale.

By the way, if you haven’t yet read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, now would be a good time, because we are no doubt in for some sci fi horror playing out in our real lives very soon. Read author Margaret Attwood’s recent illuminating and chilling INTERVIEW in the New York Times for more on this.

If you’re not in the mood to read, you may want to watch the new HULU original series based on the book, season premier April 26, 2017.

handmaid4RESIST!

Come on, Ladies. Let’s get in Formation. Time to March. We’re going to the Tax March. Going to the  People’s March for Science. Going to the Citizens Climate March.

We going to March for Liberty and Justice for All.

Join your local INDIVISIBLE group to find out about the next march, the next action, the next letter or phone call you need to make. DOWNLOAD THE INDIVISIBLE GUIDE. Subscribe to Andrew’s Actions.

Slay, Chick (Pussy), Slay. or you gonna get eliminated.

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”
George Orwell, 1984 

RESIST!  “Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
George Orwell, 1984

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Gaining Perspective: “From a Distance, You Look Like My Friend”

earthI’m Stepping back, to gain a little perspective.
Please l
isten with me to “From a Distance”. (audio file)
(Seriously, I mean really CLICK on the audio link above and listen to the song while you read)
Breathe.

Shortly after the election, gasping for air, feeling as if I were turning to stone like the woman at Standing Rock, I flew to the Yucatan. In the air, I wrote a blog post on my iPad, which I never posted. Events over the last two months have paralyzed my writing muscles. I’ve spent hours emailing and phoning senators, going to meetings to defend our tenuous anti-fracking victory from Chevron /Exxon, and meeting with newly-formed resistance groups like Indivisible; tweeting, facebooking, watching Democracy Now and Thom Hartmann, and staying up ’til 2 and 3 in the morning, sifting through fake news in search of the truth.

Last week, on that day that Betsy deVos’ nomination for Secretary of Education was confirmed despite massive protests, on the same day that the Army Corps of Engineers announced it was going ahead and building the pipeline under the river, in defiance of  orders to wait until a proper Environmental Assessment could be completed, on that day – I hit bottom. Something broke inside me. Hope still wakes me each morning, but it’s a dim light.

Here’s what I wrote in the air, raw, rambling, unedited. Forgive me. I’m still in shock  ~ clouds through airplane window

November 11, 2016. I’m in the air, flying to Mexico in the hope of gaining a fresh perspective. It’s been three days since the coup d’état in the USA. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won the popular vote for President of the United States, but Trump stole the election with gerrymandered electoral votes, rigged voting machines, suppression of voters, hate, fear, and lies.

On election night, my partner Joe went without me to a celebration of our Measure Z fracking ban victory in Monterey County – an initiative we worked hard to help win. I couldn’t bear the thought of being out with a crowd, so I stayed home alone to watch election returns on TV. When Hillary phoned Trump at about 2 am to concede, I couldn’t believe it. Numbness. Disbelief. Anger. Rage. Grief. Fear. Exhaustion. Depression. The impulse to run. To leave. To save myself, distance myself from the apocalypse that I fear Trump is going to bring on.

For the first two days after the Trump election announcement, I spent toxic hours on Facebook and Twitter, my mind running in circles like the little hamster on the treadmill in its cage.  I vented my growing outrage by writing inflammatory posts with bad words. I tweeted attacks on Trump’s stupider-than-a-slug, slutty nude girly mag illegal immigrant plagiarist wife, and on the dumber-than-red-bricks voters who chose an “it’s-okay-to-‘grab-my-pussy’-if-you-buy-me-lots-of-things” virtual illiterate as our national role model for girls and women, instead of the highly intelligent, professional, qualified and capable, gracious Hillary Clinton. I felt sick as I watched the announcement of Hillary’s concession on TV and then watched the mainstream news pundits and so-called leaders of the democratic party begin to spin the theft of my country with sugar coated assurances that it is “such a surprise” but “we’ll just have to make the best of it. Everything will be alright.” “No!” I shouted out loud, startling my sleeping dogs. “This is a mistake! Stop this!”

Since election night, scenes from the movie, The Pianist have been playing over and over in my mind. If you haven’t seen the film, I recommend that you watch it now. In the film, Hitler has just seized power, and nice middle class families try to sugarcoat it, to continue with business as usual, try to “make the best of things” because “it can’t get that bad”. But it does. It gets worse and worse, and nice people continue to make compromises with their ideals, make excuses and look the other way. Until it’s too late. Until what is left of the family is sitting on crates in front of the train ready to take them to the gas chambers. They could have saved themselves by getting out of the country when the first signals sounded. (Or by organizing and mounting a strong resistance?)

I’m thinking that things in the US may get that bad, that it may be time to leave my country, while borders are still open and American citizens are not yet in concentration camps. My family immigrated to what is now Maryland in the late 1500’s, before Maryland was designated a colony. My people have been here ever since. Over 400 years. I am a patriot. (and I am an Immigrant) The men in my family served America as soldiers in every war since the Revolution. I have Native American blood in my veins. THIS IS MY COUNTRY. But I keep thinking about how so many Jews didn’t try to save themselves when Hitler moved in. Trump is going to be worse than Hitler, I’m pretty sure. I love my country. What if I have to leave?

He has said he thinks it would be fine to use nuclear weapons against other countries. I remember the Cold War. Now nuclear holocaust has suddenly become a very real possibility, again. The Russians, recently our arch enemies, may have actually helped to get Trump elected.

He doesn’t think climate change is real so he plans to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement and go full steam ahead developing coal, oil, gas, fracking and pipelines. He has said he plans to close down the EPA and the National Parks and overturn the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. And he plans to encourage all manner of “pussy grabbing” while taking full control over women’s bodies. And he wants to start rounding up all his enemies, including Muslims, African and Mexican Americans, gays, immigrants (except for his law-breaking immigrant wife), and dissidents (teachers, scholars, artists, scientists). He intends to greatly increase funding for the military and use the military against American citizens, and he’s promised to authorize forms of torture worse than water boarding. “I can’t breathe.”

Inspired by their leader, Trump neo-fascist thugs around the country have already started perpetrating acts of violence against everyone they perceive as different.Heil Hitler.

Where can I go? Somewhere the people are still relatively civilized. Somewhere I may be able to survive financially after the US currency collapses. Someplace where the effects of a nuclear holocaust will be less. Someplace where it may still be possible to find potable water and grow food after the final climate apocalypse. Tasmania? Chile? Norway? Apparently I’m not the only one thinking these things.The Canadian government’s Immigration website crashed the night of the election and has crashed several times since. Sales of Orwell’s 1984 are soaring.

Today, day three since the death sentence of my country, the tone of the social media chatter has shifted. Courageous leaders are stepping into the light on social media. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, 350.org’s Bill McKibben, and the Sierra Club have openly defied Trump.Put him on notice that this will be a battle of epic magnitude, a struggle the likes of which has never been seen before – a war for the very survival of life on Earth. Progressive leaders are calling for people to take courage, resist, and mobilize. I feel heartened that there will be an active resistance. But I’m afraid, too. Afraid for the beautiful Native Americans trying to protect our nation’s water at Standing Rock and afraid for the crowds of citizens demonstrating in the streets against a Trump presidency. Afraid for all my beautiful fellow humans with different colors of skin, different ways of worshiping, different ways of speaking.

Trump is a pathological abuser. Abusers don’t stop; they always escalate. ABUSERS ALWAYS ESCALATE. Thinking, hoping, praying that it will get better never makes it better when an abuser is in control of your life. The only thing that will stop an abuser from hurting you is when someone more powerful than him makes him stop.

I still think I might run away, before the borders close and it’s too late. But hopefully someone with the power to stop Trump from ending the world will stay and fight. I’ll do all I can to help, from a distance.

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General Strike Called Nationwide for January 20th Inauguration Day

 
Boxes of sugar cubes bearing the image of US President-elect Donald Trump on sale at a supermarket in Tula, Russia. (Photo by Sergei StarikovTASS via Getty Images)

Boxes of sugar cubes bearing the image of US President-elect Donald Trump on sale at a supermarket in Tula, Russia. (Photo by Sergei StarikovTASS via Getty Image

“On the Day of Trump’s Election, spontaneous protests broke out across the United States. People saw the danger represented in Trump’s politics and refused to comply with business as usual. Out of those protests, a nationwide call has gone out for a General Strike on the day of the Presidential Inauguration, January 20th.” the following article was posted by the Santa Cruz General Strike Organizing Committee.

What is a General Strike? Why a General Strike?

A General Strike is a political action in which the general population refuses to engage in work, they close the doors to their workplaces and their schools. Born out of early 20th century labor movements, we can thank General Strikes for the 8 hour workday, minimum wage, and the weekend, among other accomplishments.
 
The General Strike is one of the strongest political tools that the people have at our disposal. General Strikes have the power to force governments to their knees. Just in these past few months: a General Strike forced the South Korean President to resign, a General Strike forced the Polish government to roll back restrictive anti-choice legislation.
 
Our political system only offers limited input for ordinary people in the form of voting and lobbying our “elected representatives.” When it fails the people, we have little recourse to act within the system. A General Strike has the power to bring the system to a halt, to force those in power to hear the people.
 
In addition to the disruptive power of the General Strike, it is also a demonstration of solidarity. Trump won an election based on hate and fear. We seek to overcome that hate and fear with mutual respect and love. With Solidarity. By joining together in the General Strike we show that we are able to overcome a politics based on individualistic difference. We will stand together and defend each other in the face of misogynistic and racist attacks, cuts to social services, environmental catastrophe, and impoverishment.
 
Instead of being forced to rely on a broken system that only offers false choices between hatred and corruption, by striking we show that we are ready and able to build a new order. One that is not based on hate, fear, and profit, one that is built on solidarity, mutual-aid, and respect. When we do not work, when we do not go to school, when we do not allow business as usual, we show that we will not allow politics as usual to rule us. We will not allow a racist, misogynistic billionaire to rule us.
 
It is important to not normalize Donald Trump’s governance. A first step to building a meaningful opposition to his rule is to make sure the day is not a normal work day. We have no illusions that not going to work on January 20th is going to bring down the Trump administration and systems of oppression in a single day. But striking together is the first step towards building the meaningful solidarities and organization that will allow us to actually oppose and survive his administration.
The election of Trump was a Coup D’Etat by the Russians. Sufficient evidence is available to the public to support this. Why? The Russians have far greater oil reserves than any other country, and they can’t sell it because of US sanctions. The Russian Trump puppet  will lift those sanctions and set a course for massive exploitation, production  and profit-taking by the billionaires’ multinational fossil fuel industry.
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CITIZEN RESEARCHER

Is Your Child Being Exposed to Dangerous Pesticides?

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U.S. EPA Chief Pruitt just gave the okay to Chlorpyrifos, a brain harming pesticide the agency knows to be extremely dangerous to children. Want to know what else is your child is being exposed to? HERE’S HOW TO Become a CITIZEN RESEARCHER.

“Kids today are sicker than they were a generation ago, and a growing body of scientific evidence points to pesticides as a reason why. From childhood cancers to learning disabilities and asthma, a wide range of childhood diseases and disorders are on the rise.”
A Generation in Jeopardy,
How pesticides are undermining our children’s health & intelligence[1]

What’s the Problem?

I’ve been a teacher in agricultural communities in Central California for over twenty-five years. I’ve seen first-hand the abnormally high incidence of child cancers, and the rising rate of autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, respiratory and autoimmune diseases.

In October, 2015, two schools in the Pajaro Valley School District were exposed to pesticide drift when a pesticide application was made to strawberry fields during school hours. In an exchange between the teachers and the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner, we learned that the carcinogens telone (1,3-dichloropropene) and chloropicrin – both banned in the European Union – were applied within one mile of the school while classes were in session.

Teachers, staff and children experienced watering eyes, wheezing and difficulty breathing, dizziness, blurred vision, headache, and nausea. According to the Cornell University Cooperative Extension Management Pesticide Education Program[2], the symptoms that teachers and students experienced the day of the pesticide application are typical signs of poisoning by organophosphate pesticides – a class of poisons commonly used near the school. Nevertheless, the agricultural commissioner’s response to community concern was that, “the applications were made consistent with pertinent laws, regulations and permit conditions.”

When we ask school, corporate, and government officials to tell us what dangers our children are being exposed to through the food they eat and the schools they attend, the answer is usually, “Everything is perfectly safe. Don’t worry about a thing. There is no problem here, whatsoever.” But what if your instincts tell you everything is not “perfectly safe”?

How can you find out for yourself what’s really going on? In California, you have the legal right to access pesticide use records.

After the exposure at the two schools in my district last Fall, I contacted the county Agricultural Commissioner’s Office and requested pesticide use reports.

Citizens at pesticide hearingWhat I Found Out

In addition to the two carcinogens that the Agricultural Commissioner admitted were used next to the schools, I found that many other EPA Category 1 restricted use acutely toxic pesticides are being regularly applied in close proximity to both schools. Following are some of the worst of those toxins:

Santa Cruz County Pesticide Use Permits 2016

Pesticide

Use

Toxicity

alumminum phosphide: gophers (may also kill hawks and other birds) EPA Acute Toxicity Class I Restricted Use Chemical; heart, lungs, central nervous system; gastrointestinal tract; liver; kidneys[3]
cabaryl (“Sevin”)

       (Bayer)

a wide-spectrum carbamate insecticide (highly toxic to honeybees, crustaceans, fish, aquatic insects) carcinogen; affects nervous and respiratory systems; reduces sex hormones; reproductive toxin; affects the lungs, kidneys and liver; behavioral and neurological damage; mutagen; suspected a viral enhancer; immune suppressant; has been detected in muddy banks and groundwater
 

chloropicrin (“tear gas”)

 

a highly toxic and reactive soil fumigant (gas) with a tendency to drift far from intended target Class 1 Acute Toxicity; carcinogen; suspected reproductive & developmental toxin; inflames airways and respiratory system
 

chlorpyrifos (“Lorsban” “Dursban”)

 

 

  (Dow Chemical)

 

In June 2000 EPA and Dow AgroSciences agreed to stop sale of many uses of chlorpyrifos due to its health risk. March 2017 US EPA Chief Pruitt gave ok for resumption of widespread agricultural use

 

 

acutely toxic to bees, birds, mammals, aquatic life

 

“A 1996 study of children exposed to chlorpyrifos in utero found that extensive and unusual patterns of birth defects, including brain, nervous system, eyes, ears, palate, teeth, heart, feet, nipples, and genitalia.” [4]

 

may affect the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and respiratory system; skin and eye irritant. Symptoms of exposure can include numbness, tingling sensation, incoordination, dizziness, vomiting, sweating, nausea, stomach cramps, headache, vision disturbances, muscle twitching, drowsiness, anxiety, slurred speech, depression, confusion. Has been linked to Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).

 

glyphosate (“Roundup”)

   (Monsanto)

 

MIT researchers released a study in Winter, 2014 linking use of glyphosate with rising rate of autism

 

 

methomyl

 

(You do the research.)
 

methyl bromide
http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/haloxyfop-methylparathion/methyl-bromide-ext.html   [5]

 

banned by the Montreal Protocal on Ozone Depleting Substances and scheduled for phase-out by the year 2000 but still widely used on strawberries; a Class 1 Ozone depleting chemical; significant greenhouse gas

 

prone to drift; a gas fumigant against insects, termites, rodents, weeds, nematodes, and soil-borne diseases; used to fumigate agricultural commodities, grain elevators, mills, ships, clothes, furniture and greenhouses

 

toxic to aquatic organisms

Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP) because of its high acute toxicity to applicators. Readily absorbed through the lungs. Effects range from skin and eye irritation to death.   Cumulative poison. Symptoms may include headache, dizziness, nausea, chest and abdominal pain, and a dry throat, slurred speech, blurred vision, temporary blindness, mental confusion, and sweating, lung swelling; irritates eyes and skin; rashes, itching and blisters; congestion; hemorrhaging of the brain, heart, and spleen; severe kidney damage; and numbness; fluid accumulation in the lungs, paralysis, and kidney, liver, and nervous system damage; vision and hearing disturbances, depression, confusion, hallucinations, euphoria, personality changes, and irritability. Depression of the central nervous system. Can affect muscle control and behavior. Other targets of the fumigant are the heart, nasal cavities, adrenal gland, and the testis. Evidence indicates that methyl bromide is a mutagen & carcinogen.
 

oxydemetonmethyl

 

(see what you can find)
 

paraquat
(agent of chemical warfare)

 

(Google it – be sure you fact check.)
 

pyrethrins

 

toxic to bees (You can research more.)
 

telone (1,3-dichloropropene)

 

carcinogen

Many of these pesticides were developed for chemical warfare. Why are we waging chemical warfare on our school children?

Exposing a child or pregnant mother to just one of these poisons is unconscionable. What about serving up a multi-poison potion for our children to breathe while they are trying to get an education? Methyl Bromide, Chloropicrin, and Telone are well-known by the agricultural industry to be synergistic when used together to kill soil-borne organisms, which is why they are usually combined to fumigate the strawberry fields. Wouldn’t exposure to the combined chemicals also magnify toxicity to humans? “No problem. Don’t worry. Everything is perfectly safe.” Really?

A new report released by researchers at UCLA, “Exposure and Interaction: Potential Health Impacts of Using Multiple Pesticides,”[6] documents the synergistic effects of pesticides used in combination. Current pesticide assessment and regulation has not addressed the potential synergistic risk of multiple pesticide exposure even though “the California Environmental Quality Act (1970) mandates that Department of Pesticide Regulation identify and evaluate significant cumulative impacts of the use of a pesticide.”[7] The long-overdue UCLA case study focuses on the toxicological responses to mixtures of three chemicals commonly used in our area: Telone (1,3-dichloropropene), chloropicrin, and metam sodium. The rigourous scientific study finds “greater than additive enhancement” of cancer risk and neurological damage and recommends further study and enactment of regulation based on new information about the impacts of multiple chemical exposures.

We have been told for decades by regulatory agencies that there is not sufficient data to support the assertion that pesticides cause significant harm to people and environment. Yet a large body of peer-reviewed studies going back to Rachel Carson’s work would argue otherwise. Will this newly-published UCLA research be glossed over and forgotten by our regulatory agencies as many other studies have been? Perhaps. It’s up to us.

Citizens for Pesticide ReformIt’s Up To Us

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation is currently drafting long-delayed new policy regarding pesticide applications near schools. The DPR will most likely ignore the new UCLA research findings . . . unless they hear from us. Ultimately, most of us would like to see a complete transition to socially just, environmentally sustainable organic and agro-ecological practices. But for now, we are asking for increased buffer zones around schools, drift monitoring, and notification prior to pesticide applications.

We need more Citizen Researchers to find out what’s really happening near our schools, behind the smoke screen that “everything is perfectly safe.” And we need to get involved in shaping new policies – “pertinent laws, regulations and permit conditions” – that reflect current scientific research and findings about pesticide exposure and other forms of chemical trespass.

Do you want to know the truth about chemical exposure in your community? Become a Citizen Researcher, share your discoveries and demand that public policy reflects current scientific findings. We have a right to know, and to raise our children in healthy communities.

Footnotes

[1] Schafer K, Marquez E, et al. 2013. A Generation in Jeopardy: How Pesticides are Undermining our Children’s Health & Intelligence. Pesticide Action Network North America. http://scruzclimact.pbworks.com/

 

[2] http://psep.cce.cornell.edu/Tutorials/core-tutorial/module09/index.aspx

 

[3] http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/24d-captan/aluminum-phosphide-ext.html
[4]https://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/pesticides/factsheets/Chlorpyrifos.pdf

 

[5] http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/haloxyfop-methylparathion/methyl-bromide-ext.html

 

[6] Zaunbrecher V, Hattis D, Melnick R, Malloy T, et al. 2015. Exposure and Interaction: The Potential Health impacts of Using Multiple Pesticides. University of California Los Angeles School of Law and the Fielding School of Public Health Sustainable Technology & Policy Program.

 

 

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