December 1998

Back to Newsletters

Back to Gray Panthers Home Page



Wed., Dec. 2 1:00­3:00 p.m.

Board Meeting at the office. All welcome.

Sat., Dec. 5 Noon

Join Season of Conscience Actions at Union Square for a kick-off

action asking shoppers to demand justice for garment workers in

El Salvador. Info, 415/648-8222.

Tues., Dec. 8 1:00­2:00 p.m.

Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program of San Mateo

County will share info re proposed Medicare changes. Info, 650/991-6677.

Fri.­Sat., Dec. 11-12 All Day

Statewide conference on how to protect drinking water, public

health and the environment. Headlands Institute in Marin.

Info or registration, 415/362-3040.

Sat., Dec. 12 12:30­3:00 p.m.

Holiday Potluck Party at the office. Bring your favorite finger food,

your entertainment talents and your friends.

Sun., Dec. 13 2:00­3:15 p.m.

Covenant of Compassion Rally in front of the War Memorial

Building, 401 Van Ness at McAllister.

Mon., Dec. 14 Chanukah

Sat., Dec. 19 10:30 a.m.­12:30 p.m.

OWL Annual Holiday Potluck Party. Theme: Memorable Winter

Holidays of the 20th Century. All invited. Info, 415/989-4422.

Fri., Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Singing Is Good For Your Health

Singing For Health Is Even Better

Sung to the chorus of Yankee Doodle Dandy:

Start the drumbeat, keep it up,

For universal health care.

Call the White House comment line

And ask for single payer.

The White House comment line is 1-202/456-1111. Gray Panthers call every Tuesday morning before 8:00 a.m. (it will cost you 32 cents) and tell the President we want universal health care, expand Medicare, cover everyone. This is the Neighbor-2-Neighbor/Gray Panthers drumbeat campaign, as explained in last month's Newsletter.

Remember, when 20 people call the White Hhouse comment line on the same day about the same issue, the President receives a written report of it on his desk. Call Now!

Our Own Elections

At the December meeting we will elect mem-
bers of the San Francisco Gray Panthers
Network Board of Directors. Our by-laws specify that up to 26 members be elected for a two-year term and may serve for two consecutive terms, a total of four years, before going off the Board for at least one year.

Current members of the Board who are completing two terms and are therefore not eligible for nomination are Deetje, Clarissa, Mary Frances and Eleanor. Thank you all for your hard work as Board members.

Completing two years and therefore eligible for nomination for a second term are Aroza, Bernice and Sonja.

Ongoing members are Fanny, Karen and Rhoda1999 will be their fourth year on the Board; and 1999 will be Augusta, Mitzi, Inger and Franklin's second year.

Help the Hurricane Victims of Central America!

"Hurricane Mitch was the worst natural disaster in this hemisphere on record," Hillary Clinton Stated during her visit to Honduras. More than 10,000 people were killed with hundreds of thousands left homeless from the storm's rampage through Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

This unprecedented tempest roared through countries whose people were already among the poorest in the world. Poverty in recent years has been increasing in the wake of the "storm" of economic globalization, liberalization and "free-trade." Poverty compounded the death toll because the poor are forced to live in areas unsuitable for habitation such as precarious hillsides which have been stripped of vegetation and are prone to mudslides. The suffering of multitudes is now greatly intensified by this natural catastrophe.

The hurricane was clearly related to global warming which the United Nations and hundreds of scientists have been warning about. Industrial emissions of gases which generate a "greenhouse" effect contribute in a major way to global warming. The U.S. has been the biggest culprit regarding these emissions. Yet, the U.S. giant corporations continue to be the most vociferous opponents of the treaty on global climate change arrived at in Kyoto, Japan. They are fighting against the ratification of the Kyoto Treaty by the Senate.

Moreover, the transnational fruit companiesmost based in the U.S. such as Dole and Chiquitahave established huge plantations in the flood plains and in other ways have damaged the ecology of these countries. This ecological destruction made the loss of life in the floods that accompanied the storm, much more devastating than it otherwise might have been.

In the wake of the wreckage caused to the plantations by the hurricane, these same companies promptly fired the overwhelming majority of their workers.

Thanks to public pressure, the United States announced that it is increasing its aid to around $250 million. It also said it will cancel two years of debt payments owed by Honduras and Nicaragua amounting to $54 million. Yet, by contrast, Cuba, suffering from over 40 years of blockade by the U.S., was the first country to completely cancel the debts owed it by these countries. French President Jacques Chirac said that France will forgive the debts of Guatemala, El Salvadore, Nicaragua and Honduras totaling $134 million"

Furthermore, Cuba has sent tons of supplies and over 2,000 doctors into the remotest areas hit by Hurricane Mitch where they are functioning virtually without medications and adequate facilities.

There are also problems regarding the dispersal of aid by the right-wing governments. Press reports have revealed, for instance, that the Nicaraguan government had refused to distribute aid to villages where Sandinistas are the officials.

It is important to send funds to groups that will really get help to those who need it most. One could send funds to organizations like the American Friends Service Committee, or Pastors for Peace (which is sending aid to Chiapas).

In Honduras, a group trying to help the poor with health care and other aid is the Honduras Health Exchange Project. Its leader, Dr. Juan
Almandares, an internationally know physician and human rights activist, has been providing free medical care to peasants and the poor for years. He is widely known and loved in his country. In this current crisis, they are overwhelmed trying to provide medical and other assistance to people who desperately need that help. They are working in 24 communities near Tegucigalpa and have sent medical brigades to the South and other rural areas. They need funds and medicines, particularly oral anti-biotics and vitamins including for children. Please help us raise funds for this Honduras Health Exchange Project.

· Please send checks made out to San Francisco Gray Panthers, indicating at the bottom "for Honduras Health Exchange." Mail them to: Gray Panthers, 1182 Market St. Room 203, San Francisco, CA 94102.

· Contact us for a list of medicines needed and where they should be sent. 415/552-8800.

· Call the President, Senators and Representatives urging aid be increased and that the U.S. forgive all the debts, as Cuba and France have, and ask the World Bank and IMF to cancel the debts of these countries. (Remember, the U.S. canceled Egypt's debt in exchange for its support of the Gulf Warso it can be done.)

Regional Meeting a Hit!

Study or Boondoggle?

San Francisco Supervisors moved in November

to consider whether the City should be required
to pay their workers a "living wage," with proponents of the notion accusing them of trying to study the idea to death.
The three-member Finance Committee voted unanimously to establish a task force to look at how a living-wage law would affect the city's economy, businesses, nonprofit organizations and residents. The task force would consider the idea for six months.

Living-wage laws have been enacted in 20 cities, including Oakland, Los Angeles, Pasadena and West Hollywood.

The laws require contractors who provide services to a city to pay their workers above the minimum wage.

"San Francisco has a high cost of living," said Karen Talbot of the Gray Panthers, who favors the living-wage idea. "Many people will (soon) have to move out of the city and commute back into the city to work."

Excerpted from the San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday, November 10, 1998.

We'll keep you posted.

The Gray Panthers Northern California Regional

meeting, November 14, focused on develop
ing stronger regional action on issues of mutual concern, eventually reaching out to include Southern California.
The first topic of discussions was maintaining the status quo of Social Security and eschewing privatization. The networks decided to have forums in March, preferably on the same day, but for sure in the same week, to speak to a younger audience who question whether Social Security will be there when they need it. The S.F. Gray Panthers will work with the Social Security Coalition and SAN at these forums.

The next topic was the expansion and preservation of Medicare. The networks voted to sign the petition to be sent to the White House and Congress for this purpose and to protest the privatization of Medicare which would be a disaster. We will encourage all networks to endorse the petition.

National has a new office in Washington D.C. and will soon announce its new web page. Each network will be receiving quarterly membership lists.

Networks within the Region are encouraged to write position papers to present our views on topics of concern and to unify our goals. Position papers on intergenerational housing, transportion, education, etc., would be integrated with papers on health care, jobs and Social Security. We already have a paper on Medicare. These papers would be distributed to the other networks in the Region to inform them about the

Requests for Donations

We receive a great number of requests for

endorsements and donations each month.

The Board tries to evaluate each and donates within our budget and GPs stated goals.
We believe, however, that we should pass on to the membership the names and addresses of those correspondents to which individuals might wish to make their own contributions. Some of them follow:
Holiday cards are offered by the Coalition on Homelessness. Info 415/346-3740, 468 Turk Street.

U.S. Cuban Medical Caravan needs donations. Mail to U.S.­Cuban Medical Caravan, 408­13th Street, Box 206, Oakland, CA 94612.

Volunteers are needed by the S.F. Food Bank to collect, distribute and serve food to the needy during this holiday season. Call S.F. Food Bank Volunteer Coordinator Frank Burtnett at 415/282-1907.

work we are doing.

In the international arena, it was suggested we share information about where to send money to help the people of Central America devastated by the hurricane and flooding. Government organizations cannot be trusted to distribute aid where it is needed.

Volunteer to Entertain Your Friends

Display your talents, let your artistic nature out,

perform for your GP­family! In addition to your creativity in the kitchen, we'd like this Holiday Party to display your musical and dramatic talents.

Call the office and tell us how you can contribute to the festivities. We'll try to put you in touch with others with like interests.
Above all, join with other GPs from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 12 at our office, 1182Market Street in Room 203. Happy Holidays!

The Newsletter of the San Francisco Gray Panthers is published each month, and distributed free of charge to members and friends of this nonprofit organization.

Editorial Board: Rebecca Hirshleifer, Mitzi Raas; Publisher, Astrid M. Spector; Art Director, Fannie Biderman; Proof, Lurilla Harris; Circulation: Harold Greenblatt and Mary Francis Smith. Printed by Graffik Natwicks; Webpage design: Barry Simpkins

Back to Newsletters

Back to Gray Panthers Home Page