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june 5, 2000

Who won what for whom? Robert Reno, writing in Newsday of May 25, ponders the recent passage of the administration’s China trade bill. On the one hand, he observes, the vote represents a victory for "a coalition of naked corporate power such as had rarely been exercised or better financed in our lifetimes." On the other hand, the opportunity that the victory "offers for making China into a more housebroken nation… exceeds anything we can accomplish by pointing missiles at them or sending the U.S. 7th Fleet to menace their shores." Like the goddess Kuan Yin, the issue raises still another hand in the form of an AFL-CIO comment: "Union leaders and other supporters of working families decried the vote as a blank check for China to continue its oppression of Chinese citizens, which opens the door to corporate exploitation and lowered living and working standards for workers everywhere." Could be they’re all right on the mark.

Pitching for calliopes. How could the builders ignore the sound component when polishing the little gem known as PacBell Park? Tacky canned pop music doesn’t cut the mustard. In this musical town where pipe organs fill the spaces of such disparate venues as Grace Cathedral and the Castro Theatre, someone must have an extra instrument hidden away in a back room. If we can put an old organ at the foot of Market Street, surely we can bestow the same favor on China Beach. Couldn’t we persuade the Giants to perch one on the sweet spot of The Glove and take us out to the ball game in proper San Francisco style?

June tunes. On June 1, 1868 a former San Francisco banker named William Tecumseh Sherman signed a treaty allowing Navajo representatives to "relinquish all right to occupy any territory outside their reservation… but retain the right to hunt on any unoccupied lands contiguous to their reservation, so long as the large game may range thereon in such numbers as to justify the chase; and they, the said Indians, further expressly agree: That they will make no opposition to the construction of railroads now being built or hereafter to be built across the continent." No big deal, opined Sherman. The golden spike that was about to link the North American continent by rail would, he predicted, bring an end to both the Indians and the buffaloes they were entitled to hunt. <> Polish up your old picket signs. For the AFL-CIO, Labor Day comes early this year. Beginning June 10, labor councils across the country will spend Seven Days in June celebrating the right of American workers to organize. According to the California Labor Federation, San Franciscans will pay particular attention to conditions at the airport, as well as the Marriott and Catholic Healthcare West. <> When Thabo Mbeki was in town last month, the press strummed hard on the local angle, the South African president’s unorthodox views on the AIDS crisis. But his country’s economic crisis continues, as virulent a threat as the disease whose cause he denies. Top labor leaders staged a sit-in last week when the Department of Labour responded to their cries for help with a mere middle-level functionary. Retorted Willie Madisha, president of the 2-million-member Congress of South African Trade Unions, "Our country faces a job loss bloodbath of unprecedented proportions. Almost 4 out of every 10 South Africans does not have a decent, full-time job. We can no longer tolerate the failure of government to treat this issue as a national priority." <> If you visit New York, urges the Professional and Staff Association of the Museum of Modern Art, "Please honor our picket line. Do not visit MoMA or its stores until a fair settlement is reached." PASTA workers walked out after seven months of fruitless negotiations over wages, healthcare, layoffs, and charges of unfair labor practices. Their union, UAW Local 2110, offers a list of "alternative destinations" for the artistically inclined.