Focusing on ways in which to more effectively battle the growing worldwide AIDS epidemic, thousands of doctors, researchers, activists and government officials gathered in Durban, South Africa for the 13th International AIDS conference July 9-14. Although most media attention was riveted on the dispute between South African President Thabo Mbeki and mainstream scientific opinion on the cause of AIDS, many other critical issues were discussed and debated at the AIDS summit.
Despite some disagreements, most of those in attendance found common ground on important issues such as reducing the cost of life-saving drugs and making them more accessible to the millions suffering with HIV and AIDS in the developing world. Delegates also addressed proposals to strengthen poor nations' health care systems to more effectively provide citizens with testing and preventive education..
Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Eric Sawyer, a cofounder of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power-New York who attended the Durban conference with many other activists from ACT-UP chapters around the world. He examines some of the critical treatment and prevention issues discussed at the six-day gathering.
Call ACT-UP New York at (212) 966-4873 or visit their Web site at: www.actupny.org
In addition to throngs of Republican party delegates and news reporters gathering in Philadelphia for the GOP National Nominating Convention July 31-Aug. 3, tens of thousands of demonstrators will also be converging on the "City of Brotherly Love." Participating in legal marches, rallies and non-violent civil disobedience, these progressive activists will be voicing their opposition to the agenda of both major political parties. A similar array of actions are also being planned to coincide with the Democratic National convention in Los Angeles later this summer.
Among many issues that will be the focus of activists in Philadelphia is the ongoing crisis in the U.S. health care system. The Ad Hoc Committee to Defend Health Care, a coalition of national and local groups, is organizing a July 29 demonstration in Philadelphia calling for universal access to quality medical care, as well as a barrier between the healing professions and the pursuit of corporate profit.
Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Dr. Joel Chinitz, an organizer with the Ad Hoc Committee and a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, who discusses why he and others in the medical profession are organizing the July 29 rally to defend health care.
On June 19, combined efforts of many Earth First! activists, the Canopy Network and concerned local residents began the Ramsey Gulch, Calif. tree-sit. Since then, the protest at the Carralitos watershed in southern Santa Cruz County has grown into a tree village that consists of seven redwoods connected by ropes and three tree-sitting activists. Thus far, the action has been effective in protecting the trees and drawing the public's attention to environmentally destructive harvesting.
Although a restraining order has recently been issued against all activists who enter the area, they were not deterred from delivering a fresh supply of food and water to the tree sitters July 2nd.
Ramsey Gulch has been heavily impacted by logging since 1850, but the pace of clearcutting has greatly increased in the last 10 years. "Blackbird" is an environmental activist and the first to occupy the Ramsey Gulch redwoods. He has stated that he will not come down until there's an agreement to protect the remaining trees in the area.
"Blackbird" spoke with Between The Lines by phone from his perch in a redwood tree.