Thursday, June 29, 2006

SFBG on 1959 Sedition Trial

A historical tale of wrongful prosecution for sedition is told in this week's San Francisco Bay Guardian. The reporter, Robert Speer, is the nephew of John W. Powell, the man charged.

Powell's trial took place in 1959 at the federal courthouse on Seventh street, where Marie Equi also faced sedition charges in 1918. Powell's case ended in mistrial. With documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Powell vindicated himself by writing articles published in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that showed his reporting to be accurate.

Courthouse Photo by Seth Gaines from Flickr.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Herb Mills of ILWU at Modern Times

Modern Times bookstore (888 Valencia Street, San Francisco) has announced this program, part of LaborFest 2006, for Saturday, July 8, at 2 pm. Here is the announcement from Modern Times:

"Hear writer and ILWU Local 10 retired Secretary Treasurer Herb Mills discuss the history of internationalism and solidarity in the ILWU. Mills has been instrumental in international solidarity movements, helping to build direct labor support for El Salvdoran workers and working with longshoremen to help prevent the execution of Korean dissident Kim Dae Jung. This event is part of Laborfest 2006, which Modern Times proudly hosts. For a complete schedule of Laborfest events, look online at"

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Pride Post: John Fryer Award

It's Pride Weekend in San Francisco! Thousands of women are in the streets for the Dyke March even as I write this. To connect today's struggle for LGBT equality to the vastly different circumstances of past eras, I want to share comments from Dan Karasic, a local psychiatrist serving as President of the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists.

Dr. Karasic writes,
This past year, AGLP successfully raised the money to endow the [American Psychiatric Association's] newest honor, the John Fryer Award. The John Fryer Award was named after “Dr. Anonymous,” the first psychiatrist to speak at an APA panel on being a gay psychiatrist. At that time, just 34 years ago, one could lose one’s job and even one’s medical license for being gay, so Dr. Fryer appeared in a Nixon mask and fright wig, and had his voice electronically altered. Dr. Fryer was recruited for this appearance by two pioneering activists, Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, who had been working to convince the APA to remove homosexuality from the DSM. The work of Fryer, Kameny, and Gittings, among others, was critical to raising the issue of removing homosexuality for the DSM.

At the APA’s Institute for Psychiatric Services this October, Gittings and Kameny will be the recipients of the APA’s first annual John Fryer Award, for their contributions to LGBT mental health...
It's difficult to compare John Fryer's predicament 34 years ago with what Marie Equi would have faced graduating from medical school in Portland OR over 100 years ago. Just for starters, speaking up at that time meant speaking in extremely coded language. And she would have also put her medical license at risk, just as doctors were at risk in the Seventies. Dr. Equi kept her license even through all of her arrests and imprisonment.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Googleplex goes upriver to The Dalles

The Columbia River town of The Dalles, OR - where Marie Equi lived with Bessie Holcombe on a homestead in the 1890s - has a new 30-acre development to house Google's servers. Although confidentiality agreements prevent local officials from saying much, the New York Times today gave an overview of the complex, located near cheap and reliable hydroelectric power sources.

The growth of these server farms serves the growing worldwide demand for Web services, like...blogs! Apparently, more servers, closer to users, increases our speed, leading to more satisfied customers and thereby, market domination. Microsoft is also in the race and by some forecasts will increase its servers from 200,000 to 800,000 over the next five years. So look for a server farm to pop up in a town near you.

The town of the Dalles still has just 12,000 people, more than over 150 years after its first non-native settlement. Here are a few pictures Michael took during his visit there. Can you picture Bessie and Marie walking these streets in the 1890s, greeting the parents of the students that Bessie taught at the town's private school, buying provisions to cart back to their homestead on the bluff at the outskirts of town?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Is there a "Green Scare" today?

This is the International Weekend of Resistance Against the Green Scare. On their website at, organizers state that:
"Right now there are more than a dozen people sitting in American jails (or on strict bail release) accused of Earth/Animal Liberation Front actions. Six people were originally arrested. These arrests were based almost entirely on the testimony of one police informant, Jacob Ferguson. Bill Rodgers - accused of multiple arsons - took his own life in a jail cell. Unfortunately, several of those arrested are now cooperating with the state."
The weekend's activities began today in Amsterdam: here is a photo of the action reported by IndyMedia. The sheet bears the name of Jeffrey "Free" Luers, who has served 6 years for allegedly burning S.U.V.'s at a car dealership in Eugene. It's intriguing that Luers is in Oregon, which, during Marie Equi's time, had political unrest and outspoken citizens (like Marie) who embraced protest (in the broadest definition of the word) and were unafraid of arrest.

Disclaimer: I know little of the facts of the cases. I include this information here to explore perspectives on the Red Scare because Marie Equi was a victim of a Red Scare in 1918. (Some might argue about when "the Red Scare" happened; it seems to me that they have existed in the US at different times and in different forms. Speaking of which - WOW - check out RED SCARE, an image database about the period in US history following World War I).

A history and definition of the term Green Scare is provided at
The term Green Scare, "alluding to the Red Scare of the 1940s-50s...seems to have been coined in a 2002 edition of...Spirit of Freedom. The publication defined the Green Scare as 'the tactics that the US government and all their tentacles (FBI, IRS, BATF, Joint Terrorism Task Forces, local police, the court system) are using to attack the ELF/ALF (Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front) and specifically those who publicly support them.' "

Socialist female physician visits White House

Michelle Bachelet, the President of Chile, visited the White House yesterday. President Bachelet is the first woman President of Chile. She is the second socialist physician to be president of Chile - the first being Salvador Allende, who was elected in 1970 and ousted by a coup in 1973.

President Bachelet is of interest here because Marie Equi was also a socialist physician. It is somewhat complicated to call Equi a "socialist" but Marie herself said in 1914,
"I am a member of the International Collegiate Socialist society of New York...I think I might term myself a radical socialist, although I did not become a convert till the summer of 1913. Previous to that time I was a Progressive..."
Preparing this post led to finding a very stiff 2-minute exchange of the US President meeting on June 9 with President Bachelet, available via webcast and by transcript. Coverage of the Bachelet visit has been scant, though the Chicago Tribune reported on a dinner - at the Ritz-Carlton, not at the White House - to promote the work of The White House Project to promote women in political leadership (Geena Davis was there). AAH - here's something more interesting: Roger Burbach in The Guardian wrote that "The Chilean president was impressive in defying US pressure to oppose Venezuela's security council bid." That's more like it!

Bachelet has left Washington for her next stop, meeting in Jamaica with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, Jamaica's first elected woman head of state and a member of the People's National Party.

Quoted in the New York Times, Bachelet offered a vision for socialism in the 21st Century:
"We believe strongly in a democracy that has a strong social tint, with social justice and solidarity. The state is important, but I also aspire to a warmer, more human society in which people help each other and struggle against all forms of inequality."

Monday, June 05, 2006

Bush is losing again

Moderate Republicans are expected to join Democrats in rejecting the "Marriage Protection Amendment" this week, sending the measure down the tube again, just like in 2004.

White House Press secretary Tony Snow (see the transcript of today's briefing) said the president was not calling senators to persuade them to pass the amendment. "I'm not sure this is a big driver among voters," he said.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

"Walk of the Heroines" to include Equi

Barbara Fealy, Matsu Ito, and Emma Fofanah are some of the women in a Portland project called "Walk of the Heroines" that will create "a special place to honor the women who have illuminated our lives." We've learned the project will also include Marie Equi!

Current project status is described in a recent article in the Oregonian. Public support is needed: consider making a gift.