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News :: Health & Drugs

Detectives uproot marijuana plants

A 1996 state ballot measure allows patients with a doctor’s recommendation to use marijuana, a law supported by the city and county of Santa Cruz. The federal government, however, says federal drug laws supersede local ones.

Valerie Corral of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana said the "kind of unwritten law says you can produce as much medicine as you need in a given period of time."

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News :: Resistance & Tactics

Protesters push for Bush impeachment

"We want a resolution from the city to impeach Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Powell, Wolfowitz and Condoleeza Rice," said Sherry Conable, active in the impeachment movement. She and others also want the City Council to beef up a local resolution opposing the U.S. Patriot Act, by directing the city government not to cooperate with its provisions.

Protesters push for Bush impeachment
Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ — Angry peace protesters at City Hall displayed a realistic-looking, oversized layoff notice for President Bush on Tuesday, advising him to "vacate your office in 24 hours."

The 80 protesters, waving pink slips, are part of a local movement that wants the City Council to be first in America to pass a resolution not only seeking to impeach Bush, but to clean house at the White House.

"We want a resolution from the city to impeach Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Powell, Wolfowitz and Condoleeza Rice," said Sherry Conable, active in the impeachment movement. She and others also want the City Council to beef up a local resolution opposing the U.S. Patriot Act, by directing the city government not to cooperate with its provisions.

Robert Nahas, one of the organizers, said he’d gathered more than 200 pro-impeachment signatures on Saturday while downtown, and urged the council to "protect us from the crimes of the federal government."

One protester, Louis LaFortune, even stripped down to a "pink slip," as in a pink nightie, while addressing the City Council about impeachment.

Protesters will have to wait, however, because the City Council, deep in budget-slashing sessions, has yet to take action on the resolution and will soon break for its August recess.

Skeptics say a Republican-dominated Congress makes impeachment all but impossible.

Vic Marani, a former chairman of the local Republican Party Central Committee, scoffed at the idea of protesters asking a city council to support impeachment.

"They aren’t going to impeach Bush so fix the streets," he said. "That’s boring, but that’s what local government does. There’s no such thing as a Democratic or Republican sewer or pipe. They have no chance of any kind of follow through, so take that energy and try to keep the Civic (Auditorium) open."

He was referring to concerns that the city-owned 2,000-seat auditorium in downtown Santa Cruz might be scaled back or mothballed in light of budget cuts.

Peace activist Ruth Hunter agreed impeachment wasn’t likely but said that if there is enough of grassroots support, it could pressure Republicans into changing their minds.

Protesters also said they’re heartened by suggested articles of impeachment drawn up by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, by Bush opponents questioning his statements about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and a recent dust-up surrounding a section in Bush’s pre-war State of the Union address.

The controversial clause referred to Iraq seeking uranium from Niger, a piece of information subsequently criticized as "tainted." The White House later stated the accusation, attributed to Britain, was based on forged information and should have been excised.

The City Council, in September, was the first such body in the United States to pass a resolution opposing a U.S. war on Iraq, a measure that drew a brief but intense bout of national attention.

Among those calling for the latest measure are members of the Santa Cruz Action Network, Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Green Party of Santa Cruz County, the Peace and Freedom Party Central Committee, Santa Cruz Peacemakers and Code Pink of Santa Cruz.

Though U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, could not be reached to comment, his spokeswoman, Sarah Rosen, said Farr didn’t think the movement could achieve its goals.

"The congressman definitely supports any efforts that can be made to discuss the credibility of the president, but the possibly of impeachment going anywhere is not even remote," she said. "We’re talking infinitesimal."

She said energy being directed toward an impeachment movement would be better directed toward electing a Democrat president. "We have an excellent opportunity to get rid of this guy and that’s what elections are all about."

Contact Dan White at

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News :: Education & Youth

California Sharply Raises Public University Fees

California officials, facing a record budget shortfall, voted Wednesday to hike state university tuition fees by up to 30 percent, the latest in a series of tough choices facing the largest U.S. state.

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News :: Resistance & Tactics

'Operation: Hidden Agenda' cards

A high school teacher, fed up with the Bush administration's playing cards featuring Saddam Hussein, "Chemical Ali" and other most-wanted Iraqis, is now selling her own deck, "Operation: Hidden Agenda."

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Commentary :: Poverty & Urban Development

Is This "All American"?

Abercrombie and Fitch, whose 600 stores and 22,000 employees nationwide uphold the "casual classic American" look, was sued last week under claims that Abercrombie retailers discriminate against minorities who simply do not match the blonde haired, blue-eyed, and more specifically white "A&F look."

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News :: Civil & Human Rights


The trial comes three months after the city and county of Santa Cruz sued the federal government over the raid, demanding that agents stay away from a farm that grows marijuana on a quiet coastal road about 15 miles north of the city. In September, agents uprooted about 165 plants and arrested the owners of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana.

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News :: Globalization & Capitalism

Poland seeks Iraqi oil stake

This BBC article's (Thursday, 3 July, 2003, 21:47 GMT 22:47 UK) byline:

'Poland, which has sent troops to support the US-led forces in Iraq, has acknowledged its "ultimate objective" is to acquire supplies of Iraqi oil.'

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Commentary :: Peace & War

The first casualty of (John) Pilger...

The first casualty of Pilger...
John Sweeney says that John Pilger blames the Americans alone for birth defects in Iraq, and
overlooks evidence that implicates Saddam Hussein The Americans are making a hash of rebuilding
Iraq, but one of the not so bad things they have done is to give Iraqis the freedom to scribble. On
the wall outside the Baathist ministry of health the other day, a graffiti artist had scrawled in
perfect English, We need a health ministry free of corruption.
For years John Pilgerone of the worlds most renowned investigative journalists, it
says on the back of his latest book has been insisting that the West, not Saddam, is to blame for
the crisis in Iraqs public health; that 5,200 Iraqi children were dying every month; that Western
depleted-uranium weapons were to blame for an epidemic of cancers; that sanctions crippled Iraq's
doctors. Funnily enough, Pilger's journalism echoed what the Baathist regime wanted people to hear.
But very recently in Baghdad what some might call the Pilger's Baathist line was put to a very public
test by yet another American blunder. They handpicked a new acting health minister, Dr Ali Shenan al-
Janabi, who was number three at the health ministry under Saddam. According to virtually every Iraqi
doctor I spoke to, he was an unacceptable choice. The Iraqi doctors were not keen to say so to the
BBC on camera. To criticise the Baath party on the record is, even now, something that no Iraqi will
do lightly. Then two surgeons at Al Kindi teaching hospital in Baghdad, Dr Rahim Ismael and Dlair
Omar, mulled it over and said, OK, we'll do it. They damned the health ministry under Saddam
as a corrupt and brutal instrument of state oppression. They said that many medicines had been held
back in warehouses. The ministry was trying to make healthcare worse in Iraq, the goal being to
blacken the name of UN sanctions, which Saddam detested as a brake on his power. The fewer drugs, the
worse the equipment and the more dead babies, the better it was for the regime. Any Iraqi doctors who
didn't toe the line were punished.
At a press conference to launch the new acting health minister, Dr Ali Shenan replied that what his
critics were really complaining about were Western-led United Nations sanctions against Iraq. As the
words came out of his mouth, I thought to myself, He's talking John Pilger. But Dr Ali
Shenan was sacked, thanks to the doctors, while John Pilger is still in business.
In Victorian London the biggest killer was not the absence of medicines. It was unclean water,
untreated sewage and uncollected rubbish. In Saddam's Iraq dirty water, untreated sewage and
uncollected rubbish from the Shia slums of Baghdad and Basra were state policy for a regime that
earned $12 billion in oil revenue every year. Yet Pilger makes no mention of Saddam's neglect of
public health. Why?
And then there's the ‘Hiroshima effect of depleted uranium. Pilger wrote in the Daily Mirror
just before the war,˜Depleted uranium [is] a sinister component of tank shells and airborne
missiles. In truth, it is a form of nuclear warfare, and all the evidence suggests that its use in
the Gulf war in 1991 has caused an epidemic in southern Iraq: what the doctors there call the
Hiroshima effect, especially among children. That the cancer rates from 1991 onwards are the
fault of the West's depleted-uranium weapons alone was one of Saddam's central messages.
In his television documentary film, Paying the Price, broadcast three years ago, Pilger did the
rounds of a Basra hospital. He spoke to a paediatrician, Dr Ginan Ghalib Hassen. He wrote it all up
in his book The New Rulers of the World: ˜In the next bed, a child lay in his shrouded mothers
arms. One side of his head was severely swollen.This is neuroplastoma, said Dr Hassen. It
is a very unusual tumour. Before 1991, we saw only one case of this tumour in two years. Now we have
many cases. I am a doctor; I am not supposed to cry, but I cry every day, because this is
torture. Pilger asked her, ˜What do you say to those in the West who deny the connection
between depleted uranium and the deformities of these children?˜That is not true. How much
proof do they want? There is every relation between congenital malformation and depleted uranium.
Before 1991, we saw nothing like this at all.
Felicity Arbuthnot, Pilger's senior researcher for the film, wrote in a magazine article published
in September 1999, ˜By early 1992, doctors in Iraq were bewildered by the rise in birth deformities
some so grotesque and unusual that they expected to see them only in textbooks and perhaps once
or twice in a lifetime. They compared them to those recorded in the Pacific Islands after the nuclear
testing in the 1950s. Cancers, too, were rising, especially among the young, the most susceptible to
Hang on a minute. Cancers don't happen overnight. They develop after a latency period of at least
four years. The Iraqis reported a rash of cancers in the south from 1992 onwards. The cancers that
happened in 1992 cannot, scientifically, have been caused in 1992 or 1991 when the depleted
uranium was used but at least four years before that. ˜To say any different is ridiculous; it
would deny the evidence from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Dr Nick Plowman, the head of oncology at
Barts, told me.
In the mid-1980s Iranian human-wave offensives almost took Basra, but they were stopped by
Saddam's chemical weapons. The UN found incontrovertible evidence that Saddam used mustard gas
against the Iranians every year between 1984 and 1988. When the Iranians came close to Basra, the
Iraqis dropped gas on their own people, too. Nearly all of the war was fought in Iraq, not Iran, so
that's where Saddam dropped his chemical weapons.
Mustard gas sulphur mustard is carcinogenic and mutagenic. That is, sulphur mustard causes
cancers, leukaemias and birth defects. The children of Iranian soldiers who were gassed by
Saddam's men have developed terrible cancers and birth defects. No depleted-uranium weapons were
used on them. The children of Halabja, the Kurdish town gassed by Saddam, have developed cancers and
birth defects. Again, no depleted uranium was used on them.
Pilger knows all about chemical weapons. He wrote in the Mirror in January, I often came upon
terribly deformed Vietnamese children in villages where American aircraft had sprayed a herbicide
called Agent Orange. This terrible chemical weapon was dumped on almost half of South Vietnam. Today,
as the poison continues to move through water and soil and food, children continue to be born without
palates and chins and scrotums or are stillborn. Many have leukaemia. If chemical weapons cause
cancers in Vietnam, why don't they do the same in Iraq? The answer seems a simple one: chemical
weapons cause cancer so long as they are dropped by the Americans.
Shortly after Pilger's programme was broadcast in 2000, Arbuthnot phoned Gwynne Roberts, the only
journalist brave enough to go to Iraq in 1988 and dig up soil contaminated by Saddam's chemical
weapons. Portland Down found mustard gas in Roberts soil samples. Arbuthnot was puzzled: how
could the cancers in Iraq have started in 1992? Roberts view, like mine, is that without
letting the West off the hook on the question of depleted uranium the contribution that
Saddam's chemical weapons may have made to the Hiroshima Effect should be seriously investigated.
I emailed John Pilger, asking him, "You know about Saddam's use of chemical weapons, so why
didn't you raise the possibility of that being the cause of the cancers and birth defects?" He
replied, ˜You apparently think my film was made in 1991. It wasn't. It was made in 1999, eight
years after the 1991 Gulf war, or twice the time it takes for deformities to develop, according to
you. In the film I clearly put to one of the doctors the doubts that depleted uranium is the cause of
the deformities. Her answer was a good one. Another specialist himself raises the doubts and
addresses them. At no point in the film do I say that DU is, on its own, responsible for the
extraordinary rise in cancers over, I repeat, a period of eight years up to when the film was
This is artful. If Pilger and Arbuthnot accept that DU cannot have caused cancers observed in 1992,
why haven't they made this clear? None of the cancers and birth defects that Pilger's researcher
dates back to 1992 can be the fault of depleted uranium. To omit the possibility that some of the
cancers were caused by Saddam's chemical weapons is to misrepresent the facts. To imply by that
omission that depleted uranium is solely responsible for the cancers and birth defects in Iraq as he
does in his book, his film and in the Daily Mirror is a disgrace to journalism.
I accuse John Pilger of cheating the public and favouring a dictator.
John Sweeney is special correspondent for the BBC.

-- Michael Pugliese
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