BEWARE OF BUREAUCRATS BARRING GREEKS

It's a rare thing when journalists join with classicists. Perhaps that's why a standing-room-only crowd jammed into Columbia University's journalism school to see a panel on "Dissenting Journalism: Greece, the CIA, and the USA." The evening was jointly sponsored by the classics department and the journalism school's Delacorte Magazine Center, and the featured speaker was to be Christos Papoutsakis, editor of the Greek dissenting magazine Anti. We say "was to be" because at the last minute, the Bush State Department denied Papoutsakis a visa. Anti, founded in May 1972 as "a magazine of resistance" modeled itself on the American magazine Ramparts, and the panel included San Francisco Examiner managing editor Warren Hinckle, Ramparts's troublemaking editor, whom Papoutsakis looked forward to meeting. (Both magazines took repeated swipes at the CIA.) Other panelists included Victor Navasky and Christopher Hitchens of The Nation and Frances Stonor Saunders, author of The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters (see review in the June 12, 2000, Nation). The NYCLU and PEN, among others, sent letters protesting the State Department's exclusion of Papoutsakis. As NYCLU attorney Arthur Eisenberg wrote in protest to Secretary of State Colin Powell and the US Ambassador to Greece, the First Amendment's "strong presumption against government restricting the expressive opportunities of individuals…should also extend to circumstances where individuals seek to enter this country from abroad in order to participate in academic and communicative enterprises." Because the US Consul General in Athens failed to identify the grounds on which Papoutsakis, aged 70 and a respected journalist, had his visa denied, one wonders whether the State Department is reverting to the bad old days of McCarthy-McCarran-Walter. And equally troubling, why the barring of Papoutsakis, front-page news in Greece, is missing from the US media. Perhaps they were too busy celebrating George W. Bush's first week in office to notice.

 

PREJUDICE AND DR. PENDERGRAFT

Barely an hour into the second day of deliberations on February 1, jurors in Florida Federal District Court handed down a startling verdict in the case of abortion provider Dr. James Pendergraft: guilty on all counts of attempted extortion, conspiracy and mail fraud. He faces up to thirty years in prison and fines of up to $750,000. After suing the city of Ocala and others in 1998 for failing to protect his recently opened clinic, Pendergraft, a dedicated and outspoken doctor who owns four other clinics in the state, was countersued by the federal government on these flimsy charges (see Katha Pollitt, December 11, 2000). His attorney, Jacob Rose, has vowed to appeal the conviction, which he, along with many others in the pro-choice and civil rights communities, believes is politically motivated. That's not all: Assistant US Attorney Mark Devereaux, who called Pendergraft a "headcrusher" during the trial, also claimed the doctor, who is black, "shucked and jived" on the witness stand. The prosecutors and their witnesses–many of whom are openly anti-choice–insist that the charges have to do with extortion, not abortion. But Refuse & Resist spokesperson Traci Stein declares, "It is clear that if Dr. Pendergraft was a high-profile heart surgeon, there would never have been an indictment."

 

NORTH AND SOUTH OF THE BORDER

When Mexican President Fox and US President Bush meet on February 16, immigration will be at the top of their agenda. As Congressman Bob Filner writes in a Nation web exclusive (www.thenation.com), "to a significant extent, the current level of immigration to the US is the result of policies designed and promoted on this side–not the other side–of the Rio Grande."

 

NEWS OF THE WEAK IN REVIEW

When the Minneapolis Star Tribune asked Ralph Nader about reports that progressive Democrats have "vowed never to work with him again," he replied: "The door's been closed for years. They just put the sign out." News to us.