General: July 2002 Archives

The wonders of the internet brings us still more from one of the people who might yet save the country, if not the world.

[Miss Scarlet must have been told that a lady does not sweat in the summer. She glows. How were us northern folk supposed to know that? It would'a made all the difference for a lot of us, surely.]

The NYTimes editors like to regularly wax poetical about our more natural seasonal pleasures, and pains, sometimes actually adding something worthy to what we normally enjoy or suffer privately. Today's notes are sort of a tribute to the fullness of summer in New York,

The thickness of the weather is most obvious just at dusk, when the heat tapers off a bit but the humidity comes into its own. Darkness seems to arrive from no place in particular. It condenses into a vapor that lies low over the hills north of the city and obscures the river edge of New Jersey. The damp air blunts every outline and blurs the distinction between colors until finally only darkness is left, but a darkness you can taste in your mouth and feel on your skin.
and yet they offer some sensible help in dealing with its discomforts.
Southerners know that the trick of living in damp heat is getting used to being sticky all the time. Northerners prefer to feel as though they'd just dried off after a long shower, their skin slick, except that in weather like this that effect quickly vanishes. For all the clarity of azure autumn days and the softness of the best weeks of spring, a few days of shirt-drenching weather in late July or early August are every bit as truly New York.
[I guess winter just doesn't count anymore. I think we did away with it a little while back.]

Our policy throughout the Middle East has succeeded in creating enemies and weakening real or potential friends, in building-up repressive, violent and aggressive regimes and destroying the hopes of reformers and democrats.

Perhaps nowhere else at the moment is this better illustrated than in the Palestinian community, where, for those who have eyes and ears, the human dimension of our stupidity plays out so intimately yet dramatically, and at such great cost to any hope for peace and stability.

Palestinian-Americans (and other well-educated and prosperous Palestinians) are possibly in the best position to put an end to the violence thoughout the region and build a viable and just state. Now however they are being encouraged to leave, in many cases after returning from abroad during the last decade, when it appeared that their homeland was on the verge of statehood.

The residents of Turmus Aya, most of whom are American citizens, are trapped most days behind concrete blocks that Israeli soldiers have placed across the road into town, which is not a hot spot in the conflict.


[Because of the Israeli military occupation] Universities are inaccessible, and beyond selling corn flakes at the Supermarket California or pizza at the local restaurant, there is little work to be had.

Palestinian-Americans are concentrated in the southern West Bank, in Ramallah and surrounding villages like this one, where there are plenty of basketball hoops and residents tend to greet strangers with, "How ya doin'?" Like Turmus Aya, Deir Dibwan, to the south, also feels like a ghost town, because so many residents have gone to America.


These days, some Palestinian-Americans are embarrassed to be leaving for the United States, and others even to admit their citizenship, but Mustafa Zatar, 55, who worked for many years in Puerto Rico, proudly wears a baseball cap bearing the American flag.

"Every Fourth of July I fly the flag on my roof," he said.

For four generations, as the West Bank passed from the Turks to the British to the Jordanians and then the Israelis, Palestinians have been leaving to seek their fortunes elsewhere. They gained citizenship in the United States, or Panama or France, and passed it on to their children.

The pattern has been for men like Ziad Igbara to leave after they finish high school to study or to work, but to raise their families here. Mr. Igbara said he did not know his own father until he was 14.

With his father and brothers, Mr. Igbara has been selling clothes in the Bronx for 22 years now. Unlike his brother Najeh, he is leaving his wife and six children here when he returns to the United States again this summer, because he is determined that they establish roots here. But he said he did not know how long he could hold out.

Two very, very good men are together about to make a very big difference in South Africa--and the world. South Africa's most visible HIV activist, Zackie Achmat, and its undisputed moral leader, Nelson Mandela, are joining together to create a future for people with AIDS and the world which needs them.

[At great risk to his declining health, Achmat] refuses to take anti-retroviral drugs until the government makes them available to the general population.

Holding hands with Mr Achmat, Mr Mandela said the Aids campaigner was "a role model and his action is based on a fundamental principle which we all admire".

After the meeting, Mr Mandela, whose attacks on the government's Aids policies are subtle but insistent, said he would meet President Mbeki to discuss Mr Achmat's condition, and by implication, those same government policies.

"I think that I've got a case to take to the president of the country and to acquaint him with what his position is," said Mr Mandela.

President Mbeki's notorious, anti-scientific views on AIDS are hugely responsible for the country's disastrous response to the epidemic, and anything which might neutralize or reverse the impact on government policy of his current attitudes would be an enormous victory for sanity, and life, even beyond South Africa.

The Barcelona AIDS Conference can be seen as the latest, problematic worldwide attempt to come to terms with what is expected to be the worst epidemic in human history*. Unfortnately it can also be seen through the demented eyes of
those who have condemned themselves to the sickness of ignorance and hate.

Most people, even in the United States, are blissfully unaware of the extent of the pure hatred and viciousness which has always been thrown at queers and, in the last twenty years, at those who have been perceived as representing HIV disease (for these fools' purposes, the two groups are indistinguishable), but even after the death of tens of millions, this particular horror, produced by the hatred which arises from our lowest instincts, remains.

Distinct from the vituperation hurled at what is thought of as "The Other" is that cast by some gays and HIV positive people themselves at those whom they consider impolite or impolitic troublemakers.

Upon returning from Barcelona this month, one member of ACT UP found in the group's mailbox an avalanche of emails revealing a perverse literature produced by blind hatred. I have seen some of the messages themselves** and they are incredibly sick, and the "stack" includes messages from gays as well.

Here is another ACT UP correspondent's take on the phenomenon, written in response to an email distribution of the message texts:

So very, very sad. These poor ignoramuses have no idea what AIDS [activism] has done for patient empowerment, for public-private cooperative community-based interventions, for basic virology, for holding drug companies accountable and causing them to change their course, for getting research spread across several institutes of NIH integrated....

Of course, the unifying thread in all these letters is homophobia. I
don't think I have heard as many variations of stick it up your ass
since I went to a conference on anal-genital neoplasms. It's
interesting. These horrid, hateful people were always here, but they
seem to have dropped the "...and the poor babies" bit.

Based on what I infer of these authors' intelligence and compassion
after reading these letters, I would say pissing them off was a sign
you're doing the right thing.


[my apologies for the length of these two texts, but they were simply not available as links, and I thought it important to somehow include them here]

* an item from the Chicago Tribune


July 26, 2002

Viewed as a whole, the global AIDS epidemic is a calamity so immense it
likely will leave you feeling powerless. You're tempted to turn to other,
more manageable problems. It defies the imagination.

As of the end of last year, approximately 40 million people worldwide were
living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and 22 million more had
died of the disease. At the present rate of growth, the number of infected
people is likely to rise to 100 million by decade's end, according to the
latest batch of grim statistics released by the United Nations earlierthis
month. Add the collateral damage--children left without parents, economies
without workers, countries without futures--and the AIDS epidemic takes on
apocalyptic proportions.

But surrendering to AIDS by not mounting an effective global response
amounts to virtual suicide. The answer lies in breaking up the challenge
into more comprehensible pieces and acting accordingly, as participants at
the recent International AIDS Conference in Barcelona attempted to do.
essential elements:

- A strategy has to be both global and coherent. This is a challenge
custom-made for the UN if there ever was one, and Secretary General Kofi
Annan's initiative to develop a global fund to coordinate money-raising,
determine priorities and collect reliable information about the scope of
the disease is the right place to start.

- Money--in the tens of billions of dollars--will be needed. Annan has
set a
yearly target of $7 billion to $10 billion, also targeting malaria and
killers. Depending on who's doing the arithmetic, the U.S. has contributed
as much as $1 billion or as little as $200 million.

The real number is probably somewhere in between--and not enough. Annan
would like the U.S. to contribute $2.5 billion yearly. The size of the
American economy--and the economic and security implications of AIDS in
Africa and of the exploding number of cases in Russia, China and India--
Annan's number a good down payment on what the U.S. ought to contribute.

- The debate over prevention versus treatment in developing countries is
past. Both are needed: Treatment of those already infected is an integral
part of the process of preventing additional infections.

- Beating up on the big bad pharmaceutical companies is self-defeating-
are the ones coming up with new treatments. Instead, international
dual-pricing agreements ought to be established to maintain the financial
incentive for further research while making drugs affordable to poorer

- At this juncture, proven and blunt prevention methods--distribution of
clean hypodermic needles, condoms and sex education, among others--have
take precedence over moralizing. In Russia, the number of cases is nearly
doubling every year. Most of the victims are drug addicts who use dirty
needles. In the U.S., clean-needle distribution has repeatedly been
by some conservative groups despite its effectiveness. That is not an

- Local leadership is essential. While some underdeveloped nations have
ravaged by AIDS, Brazil has set an example of how head-on strategies of
treatment, prevention, education and other interventions can begin to
the rate of infection. Global efforts cannot bear fruit amid local apathy.

The UN fund to fight AIDS deserves both active American participation and
dollars. Doing otherwise flies on the face of fundamental human compassion
and our clear national interest.

Copyright (c) 2002, Chicago Tribune

** the hate mail to ACT UP

[interesting that the action which shouted-down Secretary Thompson was actually the work of GMHC, not heretofore known for in-your-face activism, and not that of ACT UP]


I don't think we serve society by hiding this ugliness:Do you now,or did you ever think that in the ongoing stupidity of the human
race,that instead of sreaming at politicians,homophobes,and everyone else
you think is involved in some way of not coming up with a solution,that
maybe,just maybe,the answer starts with the peaple spreading the disease?

Act-Up - have you ever heard of maybe, acting mature? Your arrogance knows
no bounds. Let me educate you a little since you seem to fail to realize the truth: most Americans don't give a fuck about aids and never will. In fact, the more you idiots "act-up" like a bunch of assholes, the more you alienate your cause.

To counter your irrational activism, I've recently started a grass-roots
action group to end tax dollars expenditures on aids research. We have a
petition signed by hundreds of citizens already and we are completely
commited and totally motivated towards ending this total waste of our money.

As far as I'm concerned, the more of you freaks that die from aids, the
better off this world will be.

Why should we give your organization any more money? You people who are
irresponsible take funds away from Breast Cancer research. You are saying
that Bush administration is killing people with aids. Why don't you homos
who practice butt sex be more responsible and wear your rubbers, better yet, the only safe sex is no sex. You are the ones killing yourselves. In the Bible it talks against homosexuality, you should read it and get saved.


My first impression was to tell your organization to go fuck itself. But
before you give me the racist homophobic bullshit blowoff, I'd just like to
let you in on an obvious fact.

You guys are your own worst enemy and you will ultimately bring yourselves

You guys are fascist idiots and only hurt our cause.

You know, I for one am sick and disgusted and tired of the homosexual
community, period. You participate in risky behaviors and then, when you
come down with AIDS you want the taxpayer to foot the bill for your illness.
Here's a unique concept: Stop Fucking

While it is absolutely your right to demonstrate, I have just got to tell
you that many of your organization's tactics "stink". Please don't classify
this as "hate" mail...because it isn't. As a former NYer, I have been
watching ACT UP act up in public for quite a while, and I often wonder what
the response would be to a conservative group -young, loud, and hip- who
used the same , some would say harrassment, methods to demonstrate

If you FAGS quit puttin' it up your INFECTED asses, aids would be under
control. More money??? HELL NO!!! You want to reduce aids in the US? drop a fuckin' h-bomb on SF...........for starters.... Homo-sexual activity IS the problem...I really dislike your kind and this organ-ization.

Does it really prove anything to act like a bunch of unevolved cave men,
when people are there and trying to help you?.What a bunch of moorons, in
the good old days they would have shot ass hole groups like you on the white house lawn. What if you all lived in Egypt, would the Government take care of you any better, if you feel it would, then get the hell out of this country....The Old addage holds true, God helps those who help them
selves....So quit blameing others for your downfalls, and quit expecting
true Americans to bail your asses out.....But being the typical liberal
lovers you are I doubt that will happen....give me give me give me.....when
u should think , more like how can I help my self.....

I listened to the news reports of your actions to silence Secretary Thompson at the AIDS confernece. Free speech is guaranteed in this country. Your should be ashamed of your behavior. Your malady is preventable, particularly in the developed world. It is a self induced problem. I will write my representatives to divert the US's 40% fundingto the war on terrorism. I believe under that definition, you may become a target yourself.

Freedom is earned, not granted. Free speech is a right not to be taken
away. Despots have learned that the hard way. Perhaps you did not listen
well in you history classes.

In Light of todays development in Barcelona and your actions regarding
Secretary Thompson, what can you tell me, a straight, right wing, Republican who nevertheless has compassion for all suffering people, that will cause me to take up your cause, keeping in mind that you will need me and millions like me to lobby congress in order to help YOUR CAUSE ? No matter what you do or say you guys ( Gays , Queers , People that think your OK ) are a minority and you need the rest of the country in order to help your cause , so will you keep aleniating us to the point that we say fuck it let them rot; i dont want to do this but this is were all your attitude is leading me to, what can you say to convince me to be sympathetic to your cause ?

You should be ashamed of yourselves. Taking resources from the whole of
humankind for your pitiful disease which has a cure. Taking research money
from diseases like cancer for a bunch of fools who can't keep their clothes
on, is perhaps the most abhorant manifestation of selfishness known to the
world today.


Hello - I read today that your organization took part in the protesting
durring Tommy thompson's speach at the AIDS conference in Spain. The article said that Mark Milano from ACT-UP New York, and others,argued that "U.S. funding to fight AIDS remains inadequate."
I would like to know why your organization wants me and other tax payers
to pay for preventing and treating a disease that is 100% preventable through actions of those not infected. It doesn't cost anything to avoid AIDS through sexually transmitted avenues. The cost to better screen blood before blood transfusions would be minimal and I don't believe the tax payers should have to pay for it unless they use the services. I am very interested in your response and will share it with those I work with. Thanks for your time.

I've been trying to be empathetic with your organization and the search for
a cure for the AIDS virus. Your endorsement and/or condoning of the
silencing of Secretary Thompson after being invited by the Barcelona
Conference today has certainly gotten my attention. I will no longer ever
consider supporting an organization which does not believe in free're killing yourselves! I'll now write my congressmen and tell
them to take our 40% funding of the World's Aids fight and put it toward the War against Terrorism, which by the way, you may be added to that infamous list...

I read a UPI story today about the demonstrations at the 14th International
AIDS Conference and how Sec. Tommy Thompson was kept from making his speech. In particular I read with disgust the statement by Milano Mark organization: ³He was going to tell lies and we shut him down." How mature. We don¹t like what someone has to say so we are going to act like children having a temper tantrum and shout them down. Very productive. I think the technical term is CENSORSHIP.

As someone who is battling with HIV, I find your organization and its
members totally reprehensible. You are nothing more than a bunch of
ignorant anti-American radicals doing your best to destroy America. Do the
country a favor and go get a real job. Those of us with HIV don¹t need you
or ACT UP.

I pray and work daily for the destruction of your organization.

I just read an article about you crazy whackos and the way you treated our
Commissioner of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. Again you people
show what you are really all about, and that is causing mayhem and trouble.
What possible good can it do when you are complaning that the US should pay
$10 billion to treat the AIDS crisis worldwide to spit in the face of the
man who has a large role in getting the funds you are fighting for.
Wouldn't it make more sense to listen and try to work together. By the way
why is it the job of the US to pay for other countries problems? why is it
all out job to take care of everyone else? do you have a sensible answer for this? I know you don't so don't even try. Your organization is a joke and your members are crazy finatical lunitics who will never do any good for anyone engaging in the tactis you use. So why don't you all get a life and try to help someone in your own neighboorhood and forget about some guy in Africa who refuses to use a condem.
You are Pathetic,

Are you proud of the actions taken by your delegates
in Spain? I think it is a disgrace to speak over a
person, especially a person in a leadership position
at a meeting of this nature. There are ways to get
points across, but I really think you missed the boat
on this one.

[the names and email addresses of these items have been deleted, what, to protect the innocent? No, to make the problem, and our enemy, less personal]

[note: This post is not intended to suggest any obligation to contribute to or vote for Ralph Nader, the Green Party or any of the other alternatives to orthodoxy locked out of the commercial media; we have to remember this is for us. We have to know what's going on and we have to make the decisions.]

This is only meant as a field map, and a guide to the tools still available to us.

It's about democracy.

That is, move the location of square footage lost with the destruction of the World Trade Center.

One important re-imagining of a solution has West Street buried entirely from below Chambers Street through old Battery Park until it joins FDR Drive around the bottom of Manhattan. Above ground, on the footprint of the current intrusive West Street there would be more than enough room to restore all that was lost September 11 and much more, leaving the actual 16-acre site of the Trade Center for whatever grand purpose consensus the City may produce.

Mr. Schwartz's plan, which builds on precedents going back to Westway in the 1970's and the Plan for Lower Manhattan before that, sets forth two integrated goals. The first is to reduce market pressure on the World Trade Center site. The second is to mend the cityscape now shattered by the stretch of West Street south of Chambers Street. With remarkable elegance, both objectives are accomplished with a single move: transferring the bulk of the required commercial space from the World Trade Center site and distributing it along West Street.

The aim of this concept, I hasten to add, is not to create a huge void in the middle of Lower Manhattan. Nothing in the plan precludes building on the 16-acre site. The goal is simply to reduce the economic and political pressures that have compelled the development corporation's planners to pack the 16-acre site with more bulk than it can handle.

For my part, whatever the comparative merits of this proposal, the mere fact that it suggests the effective elimination of the disruptive, dehumanizing and anti-urban assault of a broad highway in the midst of one of the most densely-occupied sections of the City makes it especially worthy of consideration. Battery Park City would become part of New York at last, as New York would become part of Battery Park City. Win win.

Do we have something in mind that we want to keep hidden from the world? We'll almost certainly never know now.

The United States lost a bid today to rewrite a United Nations plan intended to reinforce the 1989 convention against torture.


Diplomats say, and American officials do not dispute, that the United States is sensitive about this issue because of potential demands for access to the detention camp at the United States naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where more than 500 detainees suspected of being Al Qaeda members and others seized in Afghanistan are being held, as well as to others held in the United States as "enemy combatants."

This is only the speculation of many people who pay attention to these things (meaning not most Americans), but were I a gambling man myself, my money would be on August. Yes, that's just next month!

My own reasons for believing war is probably imminent include:

--There's the advantage of relative surprise (the official leaks and the majority outside opinion says it'll happen next year).

--With the Shrub on another vacation for a month, neither we and our allies nor the "evil ones" would expect a move in August, although getting him out of the way probably looks like a good thing to his advisors these days, and he certainly can't contribute anything intelligent to the planning or execution.

--Congress is in recess, and therefore also out of the way, for whatever small additional advantage that may add these days.

--Congress has already accepted the idea of war and even the Democratic leadership believes the Executive would not have to seek its approval for war on Irag.

--At this point most Democrats would be so relieved to have the country distracted from their own crimes and embarassments relating to campaign finance and corporate crime that they would be willing to forego Congressional victory in 2002 if a good war could get them off the hook.

--Above all an early war looks likely because it must appear to the White House as the perfect solution to the declining authority of the administration and the accelerating criticism of its competence. With this one big move the problems of Dubya's own growing financial scandals as well as the crimes of big business generally, the tanking of the stock market and the wipeout of Americans' life savings, the continuing, perhaps deepening recession, fading interest in the "War on Terrorism" and the growing attention being given to its failures and finally the potentially extraordinary relief real war could bring to the Republican Party, since at the moment it looks like it may be a big loser in the mid-term elections. Is the destruction of what's left of the environmental movement in there somewhere?

...for an administration that has deliberately made its alleged effectiveness and resolution in the war on international terror its central appeal, the desire to have good news from Iraq, or at least progress on any anti-terror front, by November is obvious.

You probably didn't hear it from me first, but you have heard it now. Are we bothered by the thought? Do we think anything can be done about it? Maybe not in time. Yet,
Perhaps, if the American people realize the crass political motivation for an Iraqi war started just before the fall elections, they will react very differently at the election booth, carefully examining their ballots to make sure the chads are not hanging, that they’ve selected the candidate they intended to vote for-- the democrat or green party candidates who will, when the republican majority in the congress is overthrown, restrain, or perhaps cage or even jail the rapacious Bush onslaught against America.

One final observation. I know I'll be attacked for even hinting at the analogy, but should this unprovoked war come about, in August or later, will we ever again be able to talk about our outrage over Pearl Harbor? Think about that one.

Sound like a pinko conspiracy? Well, Ralph Nader sees it as a pretty fair description of what we already have. "Safety net" hardly begins to describe the extent of the care our government takes for the welfare of big business, while "self-reliance" remains the best representation of what it offers to the individual. It's all part of the package Republicans and, increasingly, Democrats call the American way. The fact that Washington has been allowed to get away with such cynicism, and in fact to even boast of the basic "All-American" rightness of such theory and practice, should reveal just how low we have sunk as a people.

Nader's well-argued overview of the current state of American capitalism and how it got there, while uncharacteristically brief, is amazingly satisfying. It is also a critque by a defender of capitalism and ignoring such sanity would be folly for its practitioners and acolytes.

The relentless expansion of corporate control over our political economy has proven nearly immune to daily reporting by the mainstream media. Corporate crime, fraud and abuse have become like the weather; everyone is talking about the storm but no one seems able to do anything about it. This is largely because expected accountability mechanisms -- including boards of directors, outside accounting and law firms, bankers and brokers, state and federal regulatory agencies and legislatures -- are inert or complicit.

When, year after year, the established corporate watchdogs receive their profits or compensation directly or indirectly from the companies they are supposed to be watching, independent judgment fails, corruption increases and conflicts of interest grow among major CEOs and their cliques. Over time, these institutions, unwilling to reform themselves, strive to transfer the costs of their misdeeds and recklessness onto the larger citizenry. In so doing, big business is in the process of destroying the very capitalism that has provided it with a formidable ideological cover.

[Here he posits five "assumptions of a capitalistic system"]

"Corporate socialism" -- the privatization of profit and the socialization of risks and misconduct -- is displacing capitalist canons. This condition prevents an adaptable capitalism, served by equal justice under law, from delivering higher standards of living and enlarging its absorptive capacity for broader community and environmental values. Civic and political movements must call for a decent separation of corporation and state.

For those who have been following the scuttlebut about the Barcelona AIDS Conference, this partial account from James Wentzy, ACT UP New York veteran, of one of its few dramatic moments may be enlightening. [Note from Dean Lance's 1990 letter how almost nothing has changed in Washington in 12 years, while during those years the plague has run totally amuck.]

Although the Shouting Down of HHS Sec.Tommy Thompson at last week's moribund Barcelona AIDS Conference certainly LOOKED like an ACT UP action, the community outreach and whistles were initiated by GMHC. [ I DO love to give creditwhere deserved...but admittedly, some people should never be given whistles.]

The last time AIDS activists shouted down a "high level" political
bureaucrat at an International Conference WAS done by ACT UP at the 1990 San Francisco International AIDS Conference where HHS Sec.Louis Sullivan was also shouted down. [Conservatives are so touchy...once every 12 years shouldn't be too big a cross for them to bare.]

The following was Dean Lance's response to news writer Mark Schoofs'
"opinion." in his Village Voice article about ACT UP's 10th anniversary,
which called the Shouting down of HHS Secretary Louis Sullivan at the 1990 San Francisco International AIDS Conference a "tactical error".

Dear Mark Schoofs,

RE: The Sixth International Conference on AIDS, San Francisco 1990

I beg to differ. I was there when Louis Sullivan spoke, shooting video for
DIVA TV. I had spoken with researchers, delegates, PWAs, et al throughout the week and had my finger on the pulse (as an activist and media person) as per the sentiments of those attending.

You seem to have forgotten the boycott of that conference over the Helms legislation denying HIV+ people entry into the country. People who were delegates were detained at customs by INS and thrown into detention when AZT was found in their luggage.

Many of the delegates including the organizers of the conference wore red armbands protesting the Bush Administration's refusal to veto the
legislation. Waivers were granted, but many organizations (not to mention FRANCE!) refused to participate because of this.

At the plenary session (where it is customary for the head of state to make the opening address), George Bush couldn't be there. He chose instead to keep his "previous commitment", a fundraiser in North Carolina for Senator Helms, sending a member of his cabinet in his absence to represent the President (and to take the expected heat.)

Everyone knew well beforehand that Secretary Sullivan, in his capacity as the shill (and sacrificial lamb) for the administration, was not going to
have his speech heard. In fact, most of the delegates - by their own
admissions - were looking forward to the anticipated obfuscation of his
speech at the closing session. ACT UP placed a fact sheet on each of the
12,000 seats at the Moscone Center before the session commenced explaining why Louis Sullivan's speech was being drowned out.

For those who cared what he had to say (and they were few and far between as most of the delegates realized it was going to be mere lip service - face-saving rhetorical apologist bullshit), copies of the speech were given out in advance. So his performance was all that was blocked, not the "empowerment of information" he had to disseminate for which you accused ACT UP of being censorious.

Two nights before, when Aldyn McKean debated Dr. Sullivan on "Nightline", the Secretary of Health and Human Services stipulated that they must be in separate rooms so he would not have to confront Mr. McKean head on, face-to-face. When the speech was given that Sunday morning, delegates could have heard it through headphones, though the majority of them turned their backs to the stage as he was making his address in an expression of their outrage over the Bush administration's discriminatory policies.

It was actually a joyous celebration. Not only for those who concurred with ACT UP, but a small victory for those who have toiled on any level for the benefit of people with AIDS .

If you doubt accuracy of my account, any number of the people you'd quoted in your article who were also there will back it up anecdotally, as does the unedited video footage from the event that is now part of the Testing the Limits archives. Mine included (some of which made it into "Voices from the Front.") [..and permanently ARCHIVED in the AIDS Activist Video Preservation Project at the New York Public Library --JW]

Thought you'd want to know.

Sincerely, Dean Lance DIVA TV

Looks like we won't see change until a president contracts HIV disease, and then it will be called holy stigmata.

Finally, our very own ZNN (sic)! Don't forget to come up for air.

ZNN provides a contrast to CNN. ZNN is maintained as a sideline project of Tim Allen of ZNet, with a little help from a volunteer now and then. CNN is maintained by a full-scale capitalist enterprise with thousands of employees. You judge which provides more useful and insightful information -- and then, for a fuller look at our alternative content, try ZNet full.

Clinton, the master of missed opportunities and political cowardice [ok, there have been and will be worse, but few from whom we could have expected as much], said friday in Barcelona that he did not know how anyone could explain how the world had let a preventable disease infect 40 million people and threaten to infect nearly 100 million in a few more years.

We know William Jefferson Clinton is perfectly capable of explaining it all by himself. He had every opportunity to make a difference while he was the most powerful man on the planet.

It's not as if he wasn't warned, by myself personally in 1992 before he was even nominated, and thereafter by others more articulate and with far better credentials, by ACT UP of course and eventually by the entire AIDS establishment, continuously and sometimes loudly, thoughout his administration. He neglected AIDS issues in the U.S. and abroad as much as he could possibly could without incurring the condemnation of the commercial media he performed to. Nothing more was done than was absolutely necesssary for appearances, which is to say in that very complacent environment that almost nothing was done. Even talk, while certainly cheap enough, was regarded as too dear for Clinton's cynical team.

Mr. Clinton said in an interview on Thursday that he regretted not having done more about AIDS as president. Today, he said he is making AIDS his main interest as he seeks to raise money for the International AIDS Trust, of which he is cochairman with Mr. Mandela.

Mr. Clinton told the audience to "hold me accountable."

But Shaun Mellors of South Africa, a representative of people infected with H.I.V. and the vice president of the conference, said he was not sure how, now that Mr. Clinton is a private citizen, "we will hold him accountable."

Precisely. Pandora's box. While he's not the one who opened it, he could certainly have tried slamming it shut before now. Note to posterity: Don't let him off the hook.

Now that's a sound bite! Can we package this guy? Dr. Joep Lange reduced the problem to its essentials with an analogy he made in addressing the Barcelona AIDS Conference just ended:

He said that expanding treatment for infected people in third world countries required a country-by-country inventory and plan. "We need to go about it like a military operation," he said.

"If we can get cold Coca-Cola and beer to every remote corner of Africa, it should not be impossible to do the same with drugs," Dr. Lange said.

"Of all the ills that kill the poor, none is as lethal as bad government," he said. "Bad government and lack of leadership has actually killed more people with H.I.V. than anything else."

Yes, I think so!

Not since the last almost-presidential election have I been so hopeful about the ability of our polity to turn itself around, or correct (at least part of) itself, as I am tonight!

Except that I've been feeling this good thing all day long, I would look for its origin in the wonderful meal and good cheer Barry and I shared this evening. [No, Jim, must remember to be less self-referential.]

So many people seem to be absolutely fed up, and so many are speaking out when they would have shut up, or been shut up, especially in the past ten months. These are people at every level and in almost every part of our society. They are not a party; they are not a faction; they are the people. I think.

[This just might be the beginning of the end.]

Look at the stories we are seeing hourly even in the commercial press (they do want to sell their stuff, after all, and they can't do it with only a continuing campaign of sycophancy)! I can't even begin to link here all the evidence of the shift I believe I am seeing. Am I just kidding myself, or does it not really look like they (you know who I mean) aren't going to be able to hold on?

I mean, they look very very bad, like total fuck offs! [I never used to use this language, but then I never had such provocation.]

Even their little minds can't be unaware of what's happening, and this means were still in real danger. They may still deploy the ultimate weapon, a *real* war improvised to save their skins, but at the expense of ours, and of the future of the entire planet.

Don't let it happen [or it really will be the end].

Alright, how's this take on what passes for our pretended chief executive? I know, it's wasted upon you, dear reader (preaching to the converted is stangely both immediately satisfying and ultimately unrewarding), but I gotta ask it anyway, and this is my only forum. What does it say about what our betters in the Republican and Democratic establishment think of the American yoeman that they would even think of foisting upon us the idiot puppet who they represent as our President?

I believe it may be the worst crime they have visited upon this former republic, precisely because it mocks everything it should represent, and in so doing it engineers its demise.

Our only remaining hope may lie in the very good possibiity that the puppeteers are as incompetent as the dummy itself (and there is now plenty of evidence to support that argument), even if it means we find ourselves almost rooting for bad news. But in a small world and a nuclear age, is it better to have idiots at the helm, or wizards? And finally, can we assume no additional timely terrorist events or cynically-improvised war will once again send the population running for cover and the imagined safely of flag-ism?

Great headline, but still, it's a serious subject for anyone but the diminutive.

As far as I'm concerned, I'd now rather be drugged unconscious, slipped into a tube and shipped off to my ultimate destination than fly any skies no matter how friendly.

P.S. Re "Ryan Dilley,"---he of the byline---are reporters really allowed to look like that in the U.K.?

Before I walked into my local U.S. Post Office (or whatever official semi-autonomous profit-center designation it may go by these days) to update my stash of obsolescent 34-cent stamps this afternoon, I was prepared for at least the possibility of a federal confrontation over my current discomfort with representations of the stars and stripes.

I needn't have worried as it turned out, since my studly, shaved-head clerk had two armfuls of gorgeous colorful tattoos falling out of his short sleeves, and he replied sadly, when I said I needed ten three-centers, and after he had sighted my slash-war button, that unfortunately there was only one kind available.

Displaying the stamp's image of a stylized star in the national colors, he smiled but suggested, "It's not too bad." Still, he was not the least surprised when I told him I'd prefer to see what he had in one-cent stamps. I took thirty of one of the non-flag designs available (a familiar and not very exciting image of the "American Kestrel"), and I also selected and bought a number of microscoptically-reduced images of John James Audubon birds as currently the least jingoistic of the new 37-cent issues.

Mr. tattoo and the birds had saved me, and I was temporarily quite pleased with the world.

He's worked for decades, with his heart and with his mind, as an effective advocate for racial justice, but he admits that even today he often feels like an outsider.

"I live basically in a white world, day in and day out. I'm surrounded by white people. That's the reality, and very often I'm aware that I'm looking at them, to some extent, almost like I am black. I am waiting for them to express views that I find so appalling. What little purpose I have in life is to try and help white people understand the reality of racism and how it adversely affects all of us, how destructive it is to our society, our community, our ideals." fill their piggy banks even further.

The Administration's plans to cut funding for the cleanup of 33 toxic waste sites in 18 states are only the latest in a tragic run of disastrous attacks on the environment which belongs to us all, but these environmental terrorists don't quite see it that way.

We've been trashing, soiling, even destroying the wonders of nature for countless ages. Why stop now? Who is Mr. Bush to step in and curb this venerable orgy of pollution, this grand tradition of fouling our own nest?
Oh, the skies may once have been clear and the waters sparkling and clean. But you can't have that and progress, too. Can you?


The Superfund decision is the kind of environmental move we've come to expect from the Bush administration. Mother Nature has been known to tremble at the sound of the president's approaching footsteps. He's an environmental disaster zone [my italics].

This page is an archive of entries in the General category from July 2002.

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