Some UO faculty fear changes to the Oregon Administrative Rules regarding student records — compliant with the USA PATRIOT Act — are a threat to student privacy. In a June 20 UO public hearing, 12 faculty and administrators discussed these changes to the rules. The changes in question regard the UO's obligation to surrender student records, without notifying the student, in the event of being subpoenaed. There are also changes regarding student directory information.
In a letter to the media, biology Prof. Frank Stahl writes, "In May, 2003 … the UO Senate expressed its interest in the nature of university compliance with the USA PATRIOTIC act. University General Consul Melinda Grier assured the Senate that no requests for information had been received by the university. Despite the … interest of the Senate in this matter, and … the passage of a Senate motion seeking a statement from the UO administration regarding plans for compliance, no mention was made by General Counsel Grier of the planned rules change."
Barbara Pope, professor emeritus in Women's and Gender Studies, and author/editor of the UO Resolution on the PATRIOT Act, also held the administration suspect, saying, "We wrote the resolution in the best faith of the administration to cooperate, gather information, and have a give and take …"
Faculty were also disturbed that the pre-hearing on the changes was set for June 3, during "dead week;" and the June 20 hearing was exactly one week after students had been released for summer break. Such scheduling, faculty say, could mean student privacy was being threatened without students knowing it. Louise Westling, professor of English, said, "I have protected student privacy as directed by administration … I am stunned that this change would happen, almost in secret."
Chereck responded, "I did not in any way see the relationship with the PATRIOT Act. This week when I did, I gasped for air." He said the changes were only edits to dense legal-ese. In fact, the rules — actually federal law according to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act — had been in place since the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994.
When faculty realized these rules were existing federal law, they and Chereck discussed specific wording concerns. They were worried about the UO surrendering information under subpoena by "the court or other issuing agency …" They also had questions about releasing student information based on "a reasonable need to know …" Chereck assured faculty that these concerns would be addressed.
Pope responded, "We're not here just to make trouble … we want to be heard." — Bobbie Willis
The Eugene Police Department, after being leafletted at an awards ceremony, has acknowledged a formal complaint from the Whiteaker Community Council (WCC) and denied any wrongdoing or policy violations in a drug raid in the Whiteaker neighborhood.
The complaint filed April 30 was in response to a fruitless paramilitary raid on a home Oct. 17, 2002. The complaint outlines the "well-founded concern that the police tactics and weapons used unnecessarily endangered everyone in the area: the residents in the properties being searched, the police involved in carrying out the operation, and the many innocent adults and children living in the vicinity." A lawsuit against the police by the families raided is also pending, citing excessive use of force in the incident.
The EPD had not acknowledged the complaint for six weeks even though the "Tell Us About It" form for commendations and complaints states: "Our policy is to complete the investigation within approximately 30 days from the date we receive the complaint. If that is not possible we will notify you of a delay ..."
The response finally came after members of the WCC quietly passed out fliers complaining about the lack of response at an EPD awards ceremony June 11, says Majeska Seese-Green of WCC.
The letter of response from Sgt. Kel Williams says "the matter has been closely examined," and that Chief Buchanan is "satisfied that, both legally and procedurally, EPD officers applied for and served the warrant in a manner consistent with best police professional standards, and with our policies."
Regarding the complaint that the paramilitary action endangered citizens in the area, the letter states, "Such a concern is understandable to the uninformed ..."
Seese-Green responds that the biggest problem is with the policies, or lack of policies, restraining the actions of EPD. — Ted Taylor
Two successful labor and tax organizers from Los Angeles will share their experiences and insights as keynote speakers for the annual meeting of Eugene-Springfield Solidarity Network (ESSN) and Jobs with Justice from 7 to 9 pm Tuesday, July 1. The meeting will be at the First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive St.
Last November, a coalition of labor and community organizations in Los Angeles County won a historic victory by passing the first property tax increase in California in 20 years. The tax hike was targeted at maintaining the county's crumbling public health system by providing funds for vital community clinics and regional hospitals responsible for providing care for the county's 2.7 million uninsured.
Like Oregon, California has been the battleground for a right-wing anti-tax agenda, and the state's public services are facing similar cuts as Oregon. The lessons of this victory in L.A. County will be shared by two organizers from the campaign, Ericka Smith from the Service Employees International Union Local 660, and Amy Hall from the Committee of Interns and Residents.
"Their campaign was built on a broad community-labor coalition, was based on one-on-one organizing, and used creative actions on the streets to increase the campaign's visibility and move its message in the public," says Sarah Jacobsen of ESSN.
The meeting kicks off ESSN's campaign for tax justice. The event is open to the public. For more information, call ESSN at 736-9041 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org — TJT
Two African-American men on bicycles were stopped by a Eugene police officer on Broadway near Almaden late in the evening of June 16 and one of the men was pepper-sprayed in the eyes.
Reports from bystanders conflict with police reports. "Sirens and the flash of several police cars drew my attention to two black men with bicycles surrounded by police," says Sherry Franzen, a member of CopWatch. "A man was sitting on the curb and called out to me saying he'd been pepper sprayed in the face for riding without a bike light. I was ordered to leave, to 'go home' or I'd be arrested. In my opinion, I was home."
Franzen says neighbors on the scene told her, "When the other man asked why they were arresting his brother, a cop held a gun to his head."
According to an EPD report, Ronald Rebers, 23, and Ruben Charles Vaughan, 25, were riding bicycles down a dark street without lights and were stopped by officer Scott Dillon at 10:45 that evening. Rebers complied with Dillon's orders to get off the bicycle and sit on the sidewalk, but Vaughan was angry, combative and "wouldn't get off his bike."
In the ensuing verbal exchange and "escalating hostility," the officer says he threatened Vaughan with OC gas (pepper spray) and when he was "concerned for my immediate safety" shot a "one-second burst of OC spray to the eyes." Finally, after backup arrived and after threatening Vaughan with a baton, the suspect "complied" and was hauled off to jail. Following a subsequent search, Vaughan was found to be carrying a six-inch knife and "metal knuckles" and was charged with interfering with police and carrying a concealed weapon, according to police. Vaughan could not be reached for comment.
Rebers was cited for a bicycle equipment violation and released. — TJT
In a recent listserve discussion on the Coalition for Health Options in Central Eugene-Springfield (CHOICES) website, Springfield Mayor Sid Leiken revealed more than a little irritation with the Board of County Commissioners' involvement on the PeaceHealth appeal before the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA).
CHOICES posted a May 23 e-mail from Leiken responding to a phone call made by Commissioner Tom Lininger regarding the LUBA appeal. Leiken writes, "You have me more confused than anything else concerning … why the commissioners would even have an interest in appealing or being involved in an appeal concerning a Springfield development … [w]hen rural residents start paying city taxes, and pay for services, then I will be more than happy to listen. I guess I will look at decisions made in Oakridge, Creswell, Cottage Grove and other communities, and if I don't like the outcome, then I will demand to be involved in the decision making."
Leiken concludes by writing, "I would hope you could spend more time focusing on opening the courts back to five days a week, making sure the sheriff has enough money … and making sure the most vulnerable and needy within Lane County will have benefits available — not focusing on a Springfield development."
In a June 6 posting, Lininger responds to Leiken: "The County's letter to Springfield earlier this year set forth a number of concerns that we believe are worth reasserting before LUBA. The decision to join in the appeal was not any easy one for me, and that's why I called you to share my preliminary thoughts and ask for your input …" — BW
In the June 12 news article "Union Support for Mother Kali's," last year's situation with former bookstore staff was described as a "refusal" to work during the height of the textbook rush. We've since been told that it was not a refusal. Rather, former employees simply chose not to work from the store — opting instead to work from home — for one day because of mounting frustration over unaddressed labor grievances.
Whoever is organizing guerilla attacks against Americans in Iraq, recruits may be easier to find as anger grows. Iraqis say, "They can take our oil but at least they should let us have electricity and water" (Independent). "We will rise up and fight the Americans. We have moved from one dictatorship to another" (Reuters). Paul Bremer, U.S. head of the occupation authority, insists Baghdad has 20 hours of electricity a day, while many Iraqis sweat in 113-degree heat without refrigeration, air-conditioning, or lights at night to help protect them from looters (Independent).
In "a cycle of action, reaction, and counter-action," U.S. military sweeps arrest suspected resistance fighters, and one U.S. soldier on average dies every day (Edinburgh Sunday Herald). Iraqis civilians are shot while protesting, taking care of sheep, or trying to extinguish fires lit by American flares in their wheat fields (Guardian). U.S. soldiers kick in doors and drag men from their houses while families scream. Octogenarian Khalaf Shabib weeps, "They treated me like an animal. We are not their enemies but they are turning us into enemies" (Taipei Times).
Many U.S. soldiers just want to go home. They expected to go when the war ended. Spread thin as peacekeepers at banks, police stations, and electrical installations, they are vulnerable targets for Iraqi rocks and guns. "Saddam isn't in power any more. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?" (Washington Post). Exhausted soldiers of the 315th Infantry Division relive battle experiences: "You can't distinguish between who's trying to kill you and who's not ... [You] concentrate on getting through it by killing as many people as you can. Killing them first and getting home." "At night time you think about all the people you killed ... There's no chance to forget it, we're still here, we've been here so long." "I don't care about Iraq one way or the other ... Saddam could still be in power and to me, it wasn't worth leaving my family for." One soldier has a photo of the World Trade Center hanging above his bed. "Every time I feel sorry for these people I look at that. I think, 'They hit us at home and now, it's our turn ...'" (London Evening Standard).
Bremer has issued a proclamation that forbids any "gatherings, pronouncements, or publications" calling for the return of the Baath party, or opposition to the American occupation (Guardian). A further edict prohibits media from broadcasting or publishing material that encourages civil disorder or incites violence against any individual or group or against coalition forces. Ni'ma Abdulrazzaq, editor of Baghdad's As-Saah, says the restrictions resemble those under Saddam Hussein (Christian Science Monitor).
Two Iraqi trailers suspected as mobile biological weapons labs may have manufactured hydrogen for weather balloons, according to an intelligence official involved in the investigation. The trailers lack both traces of pathogens and equipment needed to sterilize lab materials (L.A. Times). Bush has now explained that weapons of mass destruction are missing because Iraqi arms sites were looted and burned (Reuters).
On NBC's "Meet the Press," former General Wesley Clark said people in the White House had telephoned him on Sept. 11, 2001 and urged him to link Saddam Hussein to the terrorist attacks. Clark said he couldn't because there was no evidence (FAIR). In the "Selective Intelligence" newsletter, Seymour Hersh writes that Rumsfeld believed Iraq had numerous WMDs and close ties to Al Qaeda and ignored conflicting evidence (The New Yorker).
In the international report "Afghanistan: Are We Losing the Peace?" foreign policy experts urge immediate U.S. action before Afghanistan "reverts to warlord-dominated anarchy." Experts recommend greatly expanding the peacekeeping force, rapidly training the Afghan army, and getting agreement from Afghanistan's neighbors to stay out of the country's internal affairs (Asia Times). Thanks to war and lawlessness, Afghanistan has reclaimed its role as the world's largest opium producer (AP). Regional warlords who helped the U.S. win the war were rewarded with money and large territories. They have their own armies and collect their own taxes, which they do not send to Karzai's central government. Karzai controls only Kabul. (Globe & Mail, Canada). One-third of Afghanistan is inaccessible to U.N. agencies because of security problems (Reuters). Taliban forces have rebounded, attacking U.S. special forces, foreign travelers, aid workers, and especially, Afghan soldiers who work with Americans. Dozens of Afghan soldiers are killed each month. Handwritten letters left in villages at night threaten to torture and kill anyone who supports Karzai's government. As a warning, bodies of two kidnapped Afghan border guards were returned with noses and ears chopped off and bones crushed (Christian Science Monitor). Pakistani and U.S. intelligence officers recently met with Taliban leaders to discuss conditions for reconciliation, which might lead to a Taliban role in the Afghan government (Asia Times).
'Round the Web
Eugene's Espresso Roma was simmering with political activity June 4. Packed into the brightly painted campus coffeehouse was a group of locals, most of whom had only met previously online. What brought this group together in the stuffy back room was a website called www.meetup.com and a common interest in politics.
Richard Soderberg, an LCC student, has never before been involved in a political campaign. Now, he is regular Meetup attendee. "I came into Meetup through the blog community," he said, and his circumstances are not uncommon.
Meetup.com is a for-profit site whose stock in trade is connecting people. Everyone from bottle cap collectors to Harry Potter addicts to political activists can sign up for a Meetup group made up of other people in their area. Once the group is established, they use the website to communicate and arrange events. Meetup makes its money by charging $3 for individual "premium memberships" (benefits include getting to vote on venues) and charging fees to venues listed on their site.
One Meetup group in particular has been garnering loads of media attention for the role it has taking in American politics. This group is devoted to supporting former Gov. Howard Dean, one of the Democratic candidates for the presidential nomination. Dean has been campaigning heavily in preparation for the upcoming Democratic primary. One thing that makes his campaign noteworthy, however, is its significant presence on the Internet.
"[Dean] is very clever to use a pre-existing technology," says local Meetup member Ted Ellis. Ellis has been involved in Meetup for almost three months and says Dean is the first candidate in a decade that he is excited enough about to get involved in the campaign. What makes Meetup such a useful tool, Ellis says, is "the ease with which you can contact other people locally."
A crowd of 3,200 turned out in Austin, Tex., on June 9 to cheer Dean as he stepped off the airplane. Dean's vast grassroots base, including Meetup, was considered responsible for that rallying power.
Much like TV revolutionized politics in Kennedy's time, the Internet has proved an invaluable resource for Dean's campaign.
Three months ago, Sharon Wetterling went online to scope out the candidates. "It didn't take me long," she said, and she was soon "captivated." Wetterling signed up for the Meetup list and read it for a while before throwing herself into the fray. "It's very energizing," she said on her way home to type up the notes from that evening's Meetup to share.
Now, still months before the primary, Dean has more than 35,000 captivated supporters signed on with Meetup.com. Once a month, in bars and coffee shops all over the world, those supporters meet to discuss Dean over a pint of beer or a mug of coffee. Word of mouth and e-mail exchanges have expanded the groups beyond Meetup memberships.
Of the 100 Dean supporters signed up in Eugene, 37 appeared at Espresso Roma in early June. Dragging in chairs from the patio outside, they sipped lattes and set to work answering this question: What can we do to help get Dean elected?
Suggestions included letter writing campaigns, public relations events, a student organization, participation in the Eugene Celebration Parade, and outreach efforts to retirement homes.
Students, older couples and families turned out for a variety of reasons, whether it was Dean's relatively conservative stand on gun control or his progressive track record with health insurance (every person under 18 in his home state of Vermont now has health insurance, as do more than 92 percent of the adults).