Against the Current, No. 83, November/December 1999

— The Editors

THE RESULT OF the 2000 presidential election is perfectly predictable: The greatest amount of money will be expended to bring about the lowest voter turnout in the country's history.  Is there a chance for independent forces on the left to forge a decent alternative?

— César Ayala

PRACTICALLY EVERY ARICLE concerning the Puerto Rican political prisoners repeats one item of information: They were members of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), a pro-independence group blamed for 130 bombings in the United States that killed six people and wounded dozens of others from 1974 to 1983.

— Steve Bloom

EVENTS ARE MOVING quickly in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.  At the beginning of October, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down his petition for a writ of certiori, a legal request that the court take up several constitutional issues in the case directly, without waiting for rulings by a lower federal court.  The denial of this request was expected, since ninety-five percent of all such petitions are turned down. It simply means that the same legal issues will now become part of Mumia's regular appeal to the Federal District Court.

— interview with Chani Beeman
CHANI BEEMAN IS co-chair of the Riverside Coalition for Police Accountability, whose principles and mission statement can be found at their website (www.ucr. edu/ethnomus/rcpa/rcpa.html). A complete file of articles on the shooting of Tyisha Miller and subsequent coverup can be found on the website of the Riverside Press-Enterprise (www.inlandempire Dianne Feeley and David Finkel of the ATC editorial board interviewed Chani on September 28.
— Kim Moody
THE 1999 CONTRACT talks between the United Auto Workers and the Big Three auto makers, plus General Motors' Delphi spin-off, offer one more demonstration of what the mainstream media like to call improved relations between the union and the company. Whatever the media mainliners think of this overused phrase, in practice it means greater consensus between top union leaders and company officials.
— Malik Miah and Emily Citkowski

AS WE GO to press at the end of October, the 700-member Peoples Consultative Assembly (MPR, the national parliament) meeting in Jakarta reached some historic decisions.

In a seventy-two-hour period (October 19-21), the assembly rejected an "accountability" speech by President Habibie (who immediately withdrew his name for president); formally endorsed the August 30 referendum in East Timor, thus relinquishing its national claim to the territory; elected Muslim leader and supporter of reform Abdurrahman Wahid (popularly known as "Gus Dur") as the country's new president; and elected popular leader of the poor and students Megawati Sukarnoputri as the new vice-president.

— Gerard Greenfield
WHY ARE WE still talking about the Asian crisis? In recent months we have heard government policy-makers, economists, business journalists, financial analysts, IMF technocrats, big business and even some unions announce that “the Asian financial crisis is over.”
— an interview with Ali Javadi
AGAINST THE CURRENT interviewed Ali Javadi, a member of the Worker-communist Party of Iran (WPI), on the July protests and ongoing repression in the Islamic Republic of Iran. For information on WPI visit

The lives of all those arrested in recent protests and all political prisoners in Iran are in great danger.  (See below.)

— Catherine Sameh
IN MID-OCTOBER, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan made a visit to the maternity ward of the University Clinical Center in Sarajevo. There, he greeted the symbolic six billionth human in the world, an eight-pound boy born to 29-year-old Fatima Nevic.
— R.F. Kampfer

MOST OF US are glad to see a spouse commit a misdemeanor, e.g. violating a diet or a budget. It gives us license to go and do likewise.

— Eli Naduris-Weissman

UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES SHOWED an impressive mobilization around labor issues last year, from United Farm Worker (UFW) strawberry campaigns to living wage movements to the anti-sweatshop sit-ins.

— Peter Romer-Friedman

KATHIE LEE GIFFORD cried for the first time in 1996, bawling with teary eyes and pledging that young girls would no longer produce her WalMart apparel line. She promised to clean up the factories, and even initiated the Apparel Industry Partnership (AIP), a code of conduct meant to silence activists and cover up her sweatshop abuses.

— Maria Cordero and Genevieve Gonzáles
IN THE CURRENT age of rising attacks on communities of color, victories for left communities of color are few and far between. This spring, one small struggle on a campus with a rich history of resistance gave us one such victory.
— Jared Sexton and Frank B. Wilderson III
THE MAY 7 “victory” for Ethnic Studies needs to be recognized not as another radical milestone at UC Berkeley, but as a series of political events in which it became a disturbing priority to suppress dissent, concentrate decision-making power, and enforce law-and-order within the twLF movement itself.
— Mark Hudson

THESE ARE DIFFICULT times for teachers in U.S. public schools. The increasing size of schools, chronic underfunding of schools serving working-class students (especially students of color), work overload, school violence, professional isolation and the deskilling and devaluing of teachers' work have led to rising rates of teacher burnout in recent decades. The average career trajectory of a teacher in the United States is about five years.1

— Alan Wald

THE SAD AND premature death of our beloved friend and comrade Michael Sprinker leaves a haunting vacuum in U.S. left-wing intellectual life. Anyone involved in Marxist literary circles during the 1980s and 1990s would have encountered this indefatigable powerhouse of crisp, incisive thinking and unshakable commitment to the advancement of socialist culture.

In my own case, I was fortunate enough to develop a relationship with Michael around political and publishing projects in 1986, which was unbroken through the last time I saw him, at the Marxist Literary Group Institute in Chicago in June of 1999....

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