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May 20, 2005 | Page 4

Defend the right to choose
The disgust with Labour
Cleaning up in Illinois?

Police brutality at UCSC

THE NIGHTMARISH footage of police brutality at the University of California-Santa Cruz's (UCSC) "Tent State" deserves both our indignation and analysis. The technique used on students is known as a "rear carotid sleeper hold."

The carotid arteries are located on either side of the neck and are the primary blood vessels leading to the brain. Sealing off this flow is, in effect, inducing a temporary stroke. Those suffering from arteriosclerosis face a serious risk of developing a permanent stroke from this procedure. Further, because the carotid sinuses play a critical role in regulating heart rate and pressure, all are in danger of heart attacks when their mechanisms are disturbed. Falling somewhere between no injury and death, there is brain damage.

We should not delude ourselves for one moment that thugs representing a capitalist state have the health of our circulatory system, intellectual machinery or lives at heart. Iron fist-in-glove repression spurs on resistance, though. We must castigate the sadism and insanity of the UCSC police force.

Max Clark, From the Internet

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Defend the right to choose

RIGHT-WING forces in California are pushing an initiative that would require doctors to notify the parents of minors seeking abortions.

This violates a woman's right over her own reproductive system, as well as doctor-patient confidentiality. The very women directly affected by this do not even have the right to vote on it. Furthermore, if passed, the law would require a 48-hour "reflection period" after a minor's parents are notified before an abortion can be performed.

This law ignores the reality of dysfunctional and abusive families, where news of a minor's abortion can raise tensions.

The likelihood of this initiative making the next statewide ballot, which could take place as early as this November, is high, with hundreds of thousands of signatures already turned in. With supposedly pro-choice Democrats like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton backing the initiative, you'd be hard pressed to find any opposition to this attack on abortion rights.

Passing this initiative in California would be yet another victory for the right in the absence of an organized left defense of a woman's right to choose. The right is on the offensive, and we need to build a grassroots movement dedicated to fighting for women's rights.
Tonya Douraghy and Jenny Olson, Davis, Calif.

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The disgust with Labour

ONE CORRECTION to your editorial on the British election ("Setback for Bush's junior partner," May 13): Labour did not lose 100 seats in the election, but 45. This, together with a few seats eliminated due to redistricting, resulted in a reduction of Labour's majority by 100.

An even bigger indicator of the disgust with Labour's support for Bush's war in Iraq, however, is the fact that it only received 35.3 percent of the vote--the smallest proportion ever for a new government, and a lower percentage than Labour received in the elections it lost in 1979, 1987 and 1992. Just as in the U.S., there is a huge political vacuum in Britain, which presents the British left with both enormous opportunities and equally large challenges.
Phil Gasper, San Leandro, Calif.

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Cleaning up in Illinois?

AS A 30-year resident living in a "brownfield" community of a working-class and poor neighborhood, I have watched many factories close, home foreclosures, neighborhoods decline due to crime, and high school dropouts turn to drugs. This has devastated hard-working families.

I have watched illnesses too similar to be a coincidence kill my neighbors block by block.

My hope is that there are some other communities that will be willing to join with me to make a difference. In these times, jobs are precious to us all, but environmental injustice is a price too high to pay for the illusion of economic development. There must be something missing.

For more than nine years, Illinois has had a "brownfield conference" that addresses the development of abandoned and idle property in low-income and underserved communities in both the city and rural areas. These properties are often contaminated. Whether it's an old factory building, a closed service station with underground storage tanks, or just dilapidated lead-painted housing in your community, it's a "brownfield" site.

Today's gold rush is to develop them. However, many residents of these neighborhoods are unsure what this development is, or how it will effect their taxes if they are homeowners. Many incentives are given to the developer to develop these sites, with the illusion that they will create jobs. The real question is how many long-term jobs do these developments create? And who gets them?

On June 14-15 in Peoria, Ill., at the Peoria Civic Center, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will co-host another conference without a community voice. You can attend this conference if you have $100, plus transportation and lodging for two days--but if you are a community activist like myself, without funding, this poses a problem.

But the information that will be communicated--between developers, bankers, private founders and government agencies--will be priceless to the revitalization of our communities. This is the super bowl of brownfield awareness.

If you are interested in the real revitalization of your community's future--where development should create real jobs that last and you can raise a family on, or the creation of affordable housing--call your elected officials and ask why no scholarships were offered to nonprofit community groups serving low-income and underserved communities.

If Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) are going to be cut, then our communities should get their fair share of the last of this funding. But how can we, if we don't have a voice? Please join with me to make a difference.
Sarah N. Shipp-Parran, Chicago

Register protests at the Web site of the Illinois Brownfield Conference at:

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