Volume , Number 0
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Laurence h. Shoup
Shut It Down
School Segregation Redux
E. Wayne Ross
Science & Technology
Gay & Lesbian Community Notes
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I n China, the government recently closed 3,300 Internet cafes under the rubric of “safety” issues. Apparently, a July fire in one of the underground cafes killed 25, injured 12, and resulted in officials launching inspections of nearly 45,000 Internet cafes. In addition to the closures, operations at nearly 12,000 other cyber cafes have “been suspended pending improvements,” Reuters reported.
Over the past few years, China has been struggling with the yin and yang of widespread Internet access. While officials encourage the use of the Internet for business and education, an Associated Press report pointed out that it has also driven many unlicensed cyber cafés underground and suppressed access to the web by creating “special filters [that] block web surfers from seeing sites abroad run by Chinese dissidents, human-rights groups and news organizations.”
I n the U.S., the Bush administration wouldn’t dare shut down websites. Instead, it prefers to cleanse them of information it finds displeasing. Post 9/11, an intense info-scrubbing was undertaken by a number of agencies responding to a March 2002 memo by President Bush’s Chief of Staff Andrew Card. The memo, titled “Guidance on Homeland Security Information Issued,” was sent to the heads of all federal departments and agencies. Card reminded them of their “obligation to safeguard Government records regarding weapons of mass destruction.” They were told to review “government information…regarding weapons of mass destruction, as well as other information that could be misused to harm the security of our nation and the safety of our people.” According to OMB Watch, a Washington, DC-based government watchdog group, an attached “guidance” suggested that agencies review “its classified, reclassified and declassified information,” and be aware of a new type of information called “sensitive but unclassified.” The guidance stated, “the need to protect such sensitive information from inappropriate disclosure should be carefully considered, on a case-by-case basis,” and that Freedom of Information Act requests should also be considered under these guidelines.
As a result, OMB Watch claims that a substantial amount of information has been removed from the websites of a number of agencies including: the Agency for Toxics and Disease Registry, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Internal Revenue Service, National Archives and Records Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Imagery and Mapping Agency, Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Geological Survey. (For examples of what was cleansed, see the OMB’s “Access to Government Information Post September 11th,” www.ombwatch.org/article/article- view/ 213/1/104/#agency.)
I n early November, William Matthews reported in Federal Computer Week that the Department of Health and Human Services had removed “valuable scientific information” regarding condoms, HIV, and abortion “from some of their websites.” In a late December follow-up piece, the New York Times ’ Adam Clymer reported on two specific changes: The website at the National Cancer Institute, which “used to say…that the best studies showed ‘no association between abortion and breast cancer,’ now says the evidence is inconclusive.” At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a fact sheet on its website “used to say studies showed that education about condom use did not lead to earlier or increased sexual activity. That statement, which contradicts the view of ‘abstinence only’ advocates, is omitted from a revised version of the page.”
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and 13 other Democrats sent a letter to Health and Human Services secretary Tommy Thompson charging, these changes “appear to be part of an Orewellian trend at HHS. Simply put,” the letter went on, “information that used to be based on science is being systematically removed from the public when it conflicts with the administration’s political agenda.”
Then there’s the case of biography revisionism. According to Russ Kick, the creator of the Memory Hole site (www.thememory- hole.org/index.htm), in May 2001, when Thomas White was named Secretary of the Army, “his official biography contained two paragraphs…detailing his experience as a high-level executive at Enron. Sometime after the energy giant collapsed while upper-level management became even more filthy-rich,” Kirk writes, “White’s biography quietly changed. His 11 years as a big shot at Enron suddenly were worth only a sentence at the very end of his bio, as if an afterthought” (see wwwthemem- oryhole.org/white-bio.htm).
There are also incidents in which important data supplied by the government will no longer be made available. On December 24, buried in the middle of a Christmas Eve press release about November’s mass layoffs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that it will no longer be issuing its Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) press releases. MLS releases charting layoffs by companies with more than 50 employees have been regular staple from the Department of Labor since 1995. Due to what it called a financial crunch, the DoL announced it was ending the program at the end of 2002.
Education Website Overhaul
N one of these examples compare with an information- cleansing plan proposed for, but currently stalled, at the Department of Education. In mid-September 2002, an Education Week story by Michelle R. Davis titled “No URL Left Behind?-Web Scrub Raises Concerns,” outlined the department’s plan to “overhaul” its web- site in order “to make it easier to use and to remove outdated data —and ensure that material on the site meshes with the Bush administration’s political philosophy.”
According to Davis, the redesign would “strip…thousands of files, many of them old and inaccessible from the site’s home page.”
In late May 2001, senior staff members and the website office received a directive titled “Criteria and Process for Removing Old Content from www.ed.gov,” which laid out how the changes would occur. “Some of the problems with the site, according to the memo,” Davis wrote, “include difficulties with navigation, mediocre graphics, and information that is either outdated or ‘does not reflect the priorities, philosophies, or goals of the present administration’.” According to Davis, the Department, which established its website (www.ed.gov/index.jsp) in March 1994, has grown to include more than 50,000 files and receives an average 84,000 visits a day.” A special site devoted to President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative has also recently been established (www.nclb.gov/index.html).
“This is somewhat new and uncharted territory,” John P. Bailey, the director of education technology and a Bush appointee who is overseeing the project, told Davis. “Our goal is to make as much information as possible current and relevant, while keeping that historical data and perspective.”
The Department’s memo caused a coalition of 14 national organizations, including the American Library Association, the National Education Association, the National Knowledge Industry Association, the Social Work Association of America, the American Sociological Association and others, to send the department a letter in late October expressing concern that vital information would be stripped from the site.
The letter read in part: “One of our primary concerns centers on the fate of information scheduled to be removed from your publicly accessible web site…we would like to know what steps the Department is taking to preserve information and provide the easiest possible permanent public access to any materials that are removed?”
Two months later, Secretary of Education Rod Paige responded to the letter saying that he too was concerned that citizens have “easy access to the most relevant, current & useful information concerning current educational programs & initiatives while also being sensitive to maintaining easily accessible historical archives.”
Managing Information in the 21st Century
M anaging information on government websites is a relatively new and challenging enterprise. The Clinton administration was the first to extensively use the web and now the Bush administration is the first with the opportunity to revise and re-design government sites. According to Education Week’s Michelle Davis, “There are few laws governing government websites and what they must archive. The National Archives and Records Administration issued a [draft] guidance on managing web records in April , saying agency web pages ‘meet the definition of a federal record and therefore must be managed as such’.”
When a record is scheduled for removal from a website, the government should maintain “permanent public access” to them says Patrice McDermott, the Assistant Director of the Office of Government Relations at the American Library Association. “Information needs to be available and accessible to the public, and those records that are removed from websites need to be stored in a manner that they can be found and be used,” she said.
For now, McDermott says, the Education Department’s website scrubbing project appears to be on hold. In a December e-mail exchange with the Memory Hole’s Russ Kick, he wrote that he had not “heard any more about the scrubbing of the site” and while he hadn’t fully compared his “archived version of the site to the current one, at this point I can’t see anything obviously missing.”
Administrations prior to President Clinton’s were faced with the task of warehousing file-filled banker boxes. Rapidly-evolving information technologies have forced the Bush administration to deal with new realities and Team Bush’s penchant for secrecy makes it imperative that right-to-know advocates monitor the Administration’s Internet activities. As Sandi Wurtz, a Government Relations Associate at the American Educational Research Association, a member organization representing 20,000 educational researchers, pointed out, “This is an issue that we feel requires continual monitoring to assure that all documents are retained.”
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.