October 2002

Back to Newsletters

Back to Gray Panthers Home Page


Tues., Oct. 1 1:00­3:00 p.m.

Board meeting at the office. More ballot discussion. We need your input!

Sun., Oct. 6 2:00 p.m.

Not In Our Name will hold a mass convergence in Union Square to protest the proposed war on Iraq.

Tues., Oct. 8 Ralph Nader

Speaks on Health Care at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Info. 415/695-7891.

Thurs., Oct. 10 Noon

SAN Annual Luncheon. St. Mary's Cathedral.Reservations required.

Tues., Oct. 15 12:30­3:00 p.m.

General Meeting: Examine, expose, expound on the ballot measures we will vote on in November. These are important domestic issues that affect our lives here and now!

Sun., Oct. 20 3:00 p.m.

Winning Long Term Care. Report on the state of California's health care options study. Speaker: Charlene Harrington, Ph.D., at 626 Pacheco. (Home of Drs. Krista Farey & Vishu Lingappa). Info 415/695-7891.

Sat., Oct. 26 International A.N.S.W.E.R.

National anti-war marches in San Francisco and Washington, DC

Sat. Oct 26 10:30 a.m.­12:15 p.m.

OWL. Program and business meeting. All welcome. Info, 415/989-4422

Ballot Double-Talk Exposed

We have a choice! On November 5 we will vote on measures crafted in the most ambiguous words that politicians and their professional flacks can devise.

Your Board of Directors has endorsed or turned thumbs down on the few that are straightforward as follows:

Statewide Bond Measures:

Prop 47. Kindergarten­University Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2002Yes.

Prop 51. Transportation. Distribution of Existing Motor Vehicle Sales and Use TaxesNo.

Local Measures; Charter Amendments:

D. Energy Self SufficiencyYes.

I. Paid Parental LeaveYes.


L. Real Property Transfer Tax OrdinanceYes.

N. Care Not CashNo.

R. HOPE; ordinanceNo.


S. Explore a program of City growing and distributing medical cannabis to patientsYes.

Explore the other 19 with us on October 15!

Homeless "Fixes" Won't Work

The ballot propositions for "fixing" our homeless problem just won't work according to Steve Bingham, staff attorney at S F Legal Aid, and Jennifer Friedenbach of Coalition on Homelessness. They both decried the cutting off of funds when no guaranteed livable housing or adequate health services are available.

They enumerated the many inconsistencies of both Props N and O and pushed for implementation of the "Continuum of Care" still to be signed by the Mayor. The Continuum recommends single adult homes, family shelters, health and mental health services, addiction counseling and more.

Echoing their pleas for humane and effective programs, Sister Bernie dropped into our September meeting urging NO on Props N and O.

No More War!

Under the banner "Our Grief Is Not a Cry for War," 1500 people gathered at Justin Hermann Plaza on the evening of September 11 to honor victims of the 2001 terrorist attack and to call for a world free of war and violence. A wide range of speakers and entertainers culminated the day-long program, beginning with a Buddhis prayer service and featuring art exhibits and booths by Global Exchange, Art and Revolution, Food not Bombs, International A.N.S.W.E.R., and many others. In one especially powerful exhibit, dozens of photographs of war victims from Hiroshima/Nagasaki to the killing fields of Cambodia asked: "Who won this war?"Other banners demanded: PeaceNot More Blood Spilled; 1 Billion Make Less that $1/Day; Free the Children.

The evening concluded with a mass pledge of resistance led by members of the Not In Our Name project: "Not in our name will you wage endless war/there can be no more deaths, no more transfusions of blood for oil. We pledge resistance/We pledge alliance with those who have come under attack for voicing opposition to the war or for their religion or ethnicity/We pledge to make common cause with the people of the world to bring about justice, freedom, and peace. " by Susan Lyon

Health Care Stalemate

One of our Gray Panthers has a Time photo spread of National Gray Pantheers Demonstratin g for Universal Health Care in 1988! Now, 14 years later, politicians are waking upto the fact that health care is in crisis.

New York Times writers Robin Toner and Sheryl Gay Stolberg report that though the cost of health care stabilized in the mid­ 1990s, it is climbing rapidly again, putting new strains on employers, workers and government health programs. Many employers say they can no longer simply absorb these higher costs and must pass more of them on to employees.

The troubled economy is expected to cause an increase in the number of Americans without insurance which stood at 39 million even at the end of the booming 1990s. Families USA, a consumer advocacy group, has estimated that more than 2 million Americans lost their insurance last year because of layoffs.

Politicians in both parties are beginning to respond, but they are divided on the issuesresulting in the Senate's inability to pass a prescription drug benefit for Medicare. The issue is expected to be raised again in the fall elections.

Soaring costs are driven in part by the biomedical revolution of the last decade, which produced an array of expensive new treatments for an aging population, from drugs to fight osteoporosis to high-tech heart pumps. The result is a health care system filled with great promiseand great inequity symbolized by wonder drugs that many of the elderly can't afford.

The strains on the health care system are being felt by everyone. Spending on health care has risen as have the cost of prescription drugs, hospital care and health insurance premiums. States are struggling with soaring costs in their Medicaid programs which cover low-income populations. Even though health care costs are rising astronomically, no one has an answer on how to contain these costs. Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services, saysthe cost squeeze has left the health care system "stressed," and that a crisis in health care is predictable. Compiled by Rebecca Hirshleifer

Genetic Modification Viewpoints

In August the governments of Zambia and Zimbabwe rejected shipments of donated genetically modified (GM) grain, despite their contries' serious food shortages. Other African countries like Malawi and Mozambique have strong reservations against allow GM grain into their countries. In Europe many protests have erupted against GM foods. What is this all about?

GM scientifically removes genes from one organism and implants them in another. The purpose is to transfer desirable traits from one organism to another. To date, corn and soybeans have been the most widely used GM food products. Vegetables and fruits like potatoes and tomatoes are being developed, as are GM salmon (modified to grow faster and bigger than wild fish). So far, transgenic meat is a way off.

GM corn, soybeans and cotton have already reduced the use of pesticides by incorporating resistance to specfic pests. Proponents of GM list future possible pluses like ripe fruit that doesn't get mushy, rice that will increase the Vitamin A supply, virus resistant potatoes and sweet potatoes, drought- and salt-resistant crops, plants that can produce vaccines, the new, closely-related field of biopharmacy that hopes to produce medicines in plants.

So why is there such widespread opposition to the use of GM crops? There are questions about toxicity, allergenicity, possible gene pollution and the economic imperialism of seed patenting by agribusiness. Opponents claim there has not been nearly enough testing by impartial scientists of potential toxic results; environmental effects; the introduction of allergens that GM corn; approved for animal feed, has spread; that regulation at all levels is fragmented, inadequate and neither safe nor proven.

Economists and environmentalists have seen that when GM patent holders such as Monsanto will sue farmers whose crops have been polluted by such seed for patent infringement, agribusiness will gain control over the world's food supply; the narrowed gene pool leads to new diseases and pests, and that new genes can spread and create "superweeds."

Bills have been introduced in Congress by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) to address some of these issues. HR 4812 offers some protection against biotech companies and restores farmers' right to save seed. HR 4813 improves the FDA's testing of transgenic foods. HR 4814 requires labeling of foods containing transgenic ingredients. HR4816 adresses liability and other legal issues associated with GM foods and crops. In 2000 Sen. Boxer authored S 2080 which would have required labeling of all GM foods. And on this year's Oregon ballot is a proposal to require labels on all GM food and food additives sold in stores and restaurants in the state. Compiled by Mitzi Raas

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. Production, Michael Flandi. Printed by Graffik Natwicks; Webpage design: Barry Simpkins

Back to Newsletters

Back to Gray Panthers Home Page