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         a forum for anti-authoritarian political opinion, research 
                                  and humor
                        ELECTRONIC TEXT-ONLY VERSION
            October 8, 1996        published weekly           #5
           In this issue
             Nordstrom: A Floor Wax AND A Dessert Topping!
             Attacking the Most Recent Immigrants
             The Mexican Revolutions
             Eat The Infrastructure!
        Why They Call It A "Menu"
        Back text-only issues of Eat The State! are now available on
        a web site! Check us out at
        Nordstrom: A Floor Wax AND A Dessert Topping!
        The law is a flexible thing in downtown Seattle. If you're
        homeless, begging is illegal. If you're wealthy, begging is
        good business.
        While the city has spent the last three years criminalizing
        the homeless, it's been happily giving money away to the
        Nordstrom family. Seattle's efforts to bankroll their move
        into the old Frederick & Nelson building at 5th and Pine are
        now reaching such levels of absurdity that about the only
        perk left would be to finance a new retractable roof.
        Most Seattleites will remember the special election the city
        held, run by and for Nordstrom, to abolish the Pine Street
        Pedestrian Mall. At the same time, the City Council greased
        Nordy's wheels by declaring the F&N building "spot blight."
        By doing so, the city qualified for a low-interest loan from
        the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. The city
        then turned around and loaned the $24.2 million to developer
        Jeffrey Rhodes, manager of the F&N deal.
        The HUD loan program in question, intended to help the
        economically disadvantaged, instead was used by the city to
        funnel money to a company with $4 billion in annual retail
        sales. Subsequent investigation by community activists,
        including Friends of Westlake Park and the Washington Free
        Press, revealed that: the city presented phony police
        statistics to HUD to buttress its case that the area was
        newly blighted by F&N's closing; Norm Rice pledged to HUD
        that the building could not be sold without the loan, when
        two offers were already on table from other parties, one of
        them higher than Nordstrom's price; and that city officials
        coached City Council members before a key 1994 hearing to
        show as much unanimity and enthusiasm for Nordstrom as
        Thus, a full block of prime real estate, in the heart of
        downtown's glitzy new retail core, becomes "blight;"
        Nordstrom pockets $24 million in government money intended
        for the poor; and generous campaign contributions follow. 
        Now, just two years later, Nordstrom is asking the City
        Council to declare the very same "blighted" F&N building a
        "landmark." The City Landmarks Preservation Board has
        already granted preliminary approval to the designation, and
        will offer its final blessing at a public hearing scheduled
        for October 16th. If the City Council rubber-stamps the
        decision as expected, Nordstrom will, according to a report
        in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, save about $1 million a
        year in property taxes over the next ten years--while
        schools and social services scramble for tax money. The P-I,
        of course, did not bother to mention that the building has
        already been declared a blight. Nordstrom advertises.
        So is this mysterious building a blight, or a landmark? A
        great floor wax, or a delicious dessert topping? A fecal
        abomination to the eye, or a glorious, untouchable monument?
        The city's 1994 loan application to HUD spoke of a rickety
        structure with leaky plumbing, a fraying electrical system,
        cracking walls and sagging ceilings. Now, it's being praised
        for its glazed terra cotta, ornate cornices, black granite
        accents and Victorian-pink Tennessee marble. Either way,
        it's a government-financed cash cow for the wealthy.
        The fix is in, but folks should probably show up anyway at
        the October 16 hearing and voice their outrage at this tax-
        funded hypocrisy. Or call the city's Landmarks Preservation
        Board: 684-0228. Ask them! Floor wax? Dessert topping? Or
        suggest that, if the city insists on being inconsistent
        about downtown begging, we reverse the equation: make
        Nordstrom illegal, and give the F&N building to the
        Attacking the Most Recent Immigrants
        This week marks Year 505 of The Invasion. As any Native
        American can testify, the nation-state is a wholly European,
        and relatively recent, invention. One of this invention's
        less noticed pernicious effects is that borders, for no
        particular good reason, severely constrain the simple basic
        right of anyone to live and travel wherever she or he wants
        to and can go. Borders--whether they are to keep people out,
        or keep people in--are about control.
        Even accepting the logic of nation-states, however, the last
        two years' worth of political attacks on immigrants in the
        U.S. is hard to justify logically. Repeatedly, economic
        studies show immigration--legal or not--is a net benefit to
        the U.S. economy. Cultural diversity is as beneficial to the
        social body as biological diversity is to an ecosystem. And
        any definition of "legitimate" immigration boils down to a
        question of who was here first, and who was invited here. By
        those standards, anyone not full-blooded Native American is
        occupying stolen land.
        Since logic fails, we have instead the illogical reasons for
        scapegoating immigrants: fear and racism.
        Recent legislation targeting immigrants--starting most
        notoriously with California's Prop. 187 and culminating so
        far in the immigration reform bill passed as part of its
        Continuing Resolution budget bill last week--is astonishing
        for its nastiness and random cruelty. Since we are almost
        all immigrants, and since we are certainly all humans, it
        should alarm all of us.
        Between anti-terrorism, welfare reform and the spending
        bill, some of the new provisions Bill Clinton is signing
        into law include:
        * Non-citizens seeking asylum have to prove a "credible fear
        of persecution" during an initial meeting with an INS
        officer. Hearings will happen within seven days of arrival,
        with no appeal.
        * Non-citizens suspected of supporting or associating with
        terrorist causes can be deported without the government
        having to produce any evidence.
        * Notices of deportation will only be issued in English.
        * A number of types of INS abuse can no longer be challenged
        in court.
        * The government can terminate existing deportation cases
        and immediately refile them under the new, harsher laws.
        * States and schools must now share records with the INS.
        * The number of border patrol agents will be doubled in four
        * Persons not hired because of an employer's perception of
        their immigration status must now prove "intentional
        * Relatives, including spouses, may not immigrate unless
        their sponsor makes at least 125% of the poverty level,
        about $17,000 a year. In other words, otherwise qualified
        immigrants will be rejected if they are poor. This was
        changed last week; originally the bill specified a 200%
        requirement, or about $25,000 a year.
        * Immigrants will be cut off of all food stamp assistance by
        August 1997.
        * Most non-citizens, including legal immigrants, can no
        longer receive Social Security benefits, even if they have
        paid into the system.
        Ironically, some of the worst provisions--targeting legal
        U.S. residents who are not citizens, denying education to
        undocumented kids, mandating deportation for use of public
        benefits, encouraging states to ignore due process and equal
        protection--were dropped from the budget bill last week so
        as to avoid delaying passage. Legislators decided not to
        bash immigrants so they could go bash immigrants on the
        campaign trail and get re-elected. On such whims are
        thousands of family futures decided.
        Clintonian reassurances that bad parts of these bills will
        be fixed are bullshit. They are cosmetic changes to
        enormously destructive acts. More will come, unless the
        trend is stopped now.
        There will be rallies in Washington D.C. and across the U.S.
        on Columbus Day, October 12, to demand immigrant rights. In
        Seattle, folks are meeting at noon at Victor Steinbreuck
        Park (adjacent to Pike Place) and marching to Westlake Park.
        Come show your solidarity, and bring friends.
        After the march, there is a lot of work to be done. Word has
        to get out about what changes have, and have not, taken
        place; how peoples' lives will be affected; and how the
        process can be reversed. Non-citizens in particular need
        good information before making important decisions. For more
        information and counselling referrals on these laws, contact
        the Washington Alliance for Immigrant and Refugee Justice at
        The Mexican Revolutions
        "Austerity plans"--also known as "restructuring" or
        "development"--are the U.S. backed schemes, enforced by the
        International Monetary Fund, to require countries to slash
        social spending and gut government services and business
        regulations. The effect is to devastate the local economy
        and make the country more "competitive" (i.e., vulnerable to
        foreign profiteers). Government repression--to ensure cheap
        labor and quell the riots generated by economic devastation-
        -is almost always a key element.
        The U.S. now essentially insists on an austerity plan as a
        precondition for any country's access to international
        credit and participation in the global economy. 
        According to mainstream U.S. media, Official Mouthpiece Of
        The State, austerity plans are always successful. Even in
        France, where the approach led to two million enraged
        government workers shutting down the country in a general
        strike last December. Even in Russia, where capitalist
        "reform" has brought a(nother) genocidal tyrant, endemic
        organized crime and the possibility of mass famine. Even in
        Nicaragua, whose economy, after being saved from the
        Sandanistas and popular will, has so utterly disintegrated
        that it is now the second poorest nation in the Western
        Hemisphere--after Haiti, where riots ensued last month after
        the U.S. forced the Preval government to agree to fire half
        its workers.
        Now, Mexico has been declared a "success." Recent articles
        in both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have
        concluded what Goldman Sachs and the Clinton Administration
        have claimed all along: that last year's $52 billion U.S.
        loan to Mexico, which came with conditions that essentially
        gave Wall Street complete control of the Mexican economy,
        was a stunning policy triumph. Mexico is paying back its
        loan; investment banks are making lots of money; "our
        friends" (Mexico's one-party business state) are still in
        power; and everything's just ducky.
        One other detail: Mexico's austerity plan, and the U.S.
        bailout, have led to a complete collapse of the Mexican
        economy. After a 20% devaluation of the peso, two million
        Mexicans--the entire adult population of King, Pierce and
        Snohomish Counties--were thrown out of work in 1995.
        Unemployment has gotten still worse this year. Interest
        rates and inflation rates have at times exceeded 100%.
        Credit is simply no longer available, turning homeowners
        out of homes and small businesses out of existence. The
        invasion of foreign agribusiness and its reliance on
        exported cash crops like coffee have contributed to food
        shortages. Official corruption, political repression and
        government-backed drug dealing have escalated. And a lot of
        people in our neighbor to the south are talking, quite
        soberly, about the need for a revolution.
        Two groups are now the centers of international concerns
        over possible civil war; they offer a sharp contrast in how
        to approach the task of dismantling a corrupt state.
        After their spectacular January 1994 attacks in Chiapas,
        timed with the implementation date of NAFTA, it quickly
        became apparent that Subcomandante Marcos's Zapatista Army
        was not a military match for Mexico. Instead, the
        Zapatistas, while noisily conducting and breaking off
        negotiations with Mexico City, have quietly gone about
        building a foundation for nonviolent revolution: holding
        grass roots constitutional assemblies, creating a racially
        and geographically diverse nationwide "Frente" (the FZLN),
        courting international allies, and becoming a force in
        mainstream Mexican politics.
        This past summer, a new armed guerilla group, the EPR,
        launched simultaneous attacks in six Mexican states. The EPR
        promises a much more traditional Latin American approach to
        revolution: terrorist attacks, armed struggle, no
        compromise. EPR releases have mocked Marcos' "revolution
        through poetry;" the FZLN has stated that it shares the
        EPR's anger but has distanced itself from the strategy.
        Meanwhile, marches involving tens of thousands have been
        occurring in Mexico City on an almost daily basis. In every
        state, campesino organizing, strikes, indigenous rights
        battles and land reform struggles pressure the government
        from below. None of this, remarkably, has trickled across
        the free and open border into mainstream U.S. media. 
        Why should this matter to us in Seattle? Quite simply: with
        free trade, Mexico's economy is our economy. The corporate
        agenda for Mexico is the corporate agenda for Middle
        Policies pursued in Mexico, and the upheaval, displacement
        and suffering they've created, are on the way in the U.S.
        and Canada. It's not just that "our" government is imposing
        this misery on Mexicans, and others around the globe, and
        that we should help them; or that, with a long, porous
        border, if Mexican cities start burning Los Angeles and
        Houston will follow; or even that millions of people on the
        "margins" of U.S. society are already being declared
        dispensible. It's also that we, the vast majority of hard-
        working, law-abiding, constitution-loving U.S. citizens,
        also have our asses on the line. Like (other) immigrants,
        like Mexicans, like the rest of the bloody world. The
        Contract With America, the pain Bill Clinton creates and
        feels, is our first taste of austerity. We're next.
        Let's all of us--poor, better off, white, black, brown,
        yellow, red, queer, straight, citizen, non-citizen, worker,
        student, parent, unemployed, housed, homeless, young, old,
        healthy, ill, male, female, both, neither--get busy, get
        organized and assert our right to share in this world's
        riches. Hanging separately sucks.
        "I don't fuck with the past, but I fuck plenty with the
        future." - Patti Smith
        Eat The Infrastructure!
        Along with mutating, chemical-resistent insects and
        drug-resistent bacteria and viruses, here's another case of
        nature out-evolving humankind.
        A breed of termites in China has apparently given up on wood
        and begun feeding instead on concrete and cement. Iron,
        copper, and aluminum are also reported to be compatible with
        the insects' new diets. The critters are now reported to be
        infesting many of China's larger cities and causing enormous
        damage to office buildings, roadways, and the like. Can a
        creature that nibbles silicon be far behind? 
        Indigenous peoples' edition
        Oct. 8. 1793. Council at Buffalo Creek. Iroquois meet with
        representatives of U.S. to appeal for an end to murder and
        thievery by whites after Peace of 1784.
        Oct. 9. 1776. San Francisco de Assisi mission started at
        present site of San Francisco. We oppose them.
        Oct. 10. 1946. ARROW (American Restitution and Righting of
        Old Wrongs) formed in Washington DC, with Will Rogers, Jr.
        at its head.
        Oct. 12. 1492. Columbus sights land in the Bahamas. Disaster
        ensues. 1873. Makah reservation established on Olympic
        Peninsula, eighteen years after signing treaty. 1992:
        Millions across Western Hemisphere rally for indigenous
        rights. 1992: 150 occupy site of Univ. of Arizona/Vatican
        telescope project being erected on sacred land. Mt. Graham,
        Oct. 13. 1805. Palouse tribe meets Lewis & Clark where the
        Palouse River now meets the Snake. 1965: Nisqually hold
        "fish-in" on Nisqually River; Janet McCloud (Tulalip) is
        arrested and jailed until trial. 1972. Burns (Ore.) Paiute
        reservation established, after land allotment in 1897. 1976:
        Mesquakie tribe awarded $6.6 million for lands taken in KS,
        IA, MO & IL between 1804 and 1867.
        Oct. 14. 1981: Amnesty International accuses U.S. of holding
        American Indian Movement activist Richard Marshall as a
        political prisoner.
        Thu. Oct. 10. Day of National Concern on Gun Violence. 323-
        Thu. Oct. 10. 7:00 PM, CAMP (722 18th Ave.). Community
        Meeting on Police Dogs. Moderated by Larry Gossett. Info:
        ACLU, 624-2184.
        Fri. Oct. 11. National Coming Out Day.
        Sat. Oct. 12. Noon, Victor Steinbreuck Park. Rally and
        march. Immigrant Rights are Human Rights! Info: Wash.
        Alliance for Immigrant and Refugee Justice, 587-4009.
        Sat. Oct. 12. "You Can't Beat A Woman - March Across the
        Nation" national community actions on domestic violence.
        Info: Washington NOW, 360-253-7147.
        Sun. Oct. 13. Noon, Gasworks Park. "Columbus Got Lost" Peace
        Concert. Free, bring non-perishable food bank donations.
        Mon. Oct. 14. Day of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples and
        in support of Leonard Peltier. Poetry, music, speakers. 4-6
        PM, Federal Bldg., 2nd & Madison. 325-2952.
        Wed. Oct. 16. Hearing on landmark status for Nordstrom (see
        article this issue). Landmarks Preservation Board: 684-0228.
        For an excellent and much, much longer compilation of
        upcoming and ongoing progressive events in Seattle, check
        out Jean Buskin's Peace Calendar: or e-mail her at
             The tiny print: EAT THE STATE! is a shamelessly biased
        political journal. We want an end to poverty, exploitation,
        imperialism, militarism, racism, sexism, heterosexism,
        environmental destruction, television, and large ugly
        buildings, and we want it fucking now. We are not affiliated
        with any political group or party. We publish EAT THE STATE!
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        hopefully inspiring ACTION in our community. Please help!
             EAT THE STATE! is published and distributed each
        Tuesday in Western Washington. We welcome articles,
        letters, comments, tips, and feedback. Write us at EAT THE
        STATE!, P.O. Box 85541, Seattle WA  98145; or email
             EAT THE STATE! is edited by Geov Parrish; layout and
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        Group, Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia, and
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