Saturday, September 10, 2011


What you are about to read is perhaps one of the first feel good human interest stories ever seen on SCISSION.  The two women in the article below, Sister Berta and Sister Corita, are two of the most amazing, wonderful people it has ever been my pleasure to meet.  I first met them when I did HIV education for staff, volunteers, and moms at Operation Breakthrough back in the 80s and 90s.  They blew me away then and they blow me away now.I can't do them justice talking about them.  I'll just say this, when they see something  standing in their way, they just roll on over it.  We could use more nuns like these two.  Now, I'll just shut my trap and let you read about them in this article from the Kansas City Star.

Operation Breakthrough celebrates 40 years, mostly of miracles

Chris Waxter, 23, (right) first attended Operation Breakthrough when he was 8, and now he’s a regular at the center at 3039 Troost Ave. Sister Berta Sailer (standing at left) and Sister Corita Bussanmas (seated center) and Waxter were photographed in a playroom for infants this week. The center will host an anniversary event today to celebrate 40 years.
Chris Waxter, 23, (right) first attended Operation Breakthrough when he was 8, and now he’s a regular at the center at 3039 Troost Ave. Sister Berta Sailer (standing at left) and Sister Corita Bussanmas (seated center) and Waxter were photographed in a playroom for infants this week. The center will host an anniversary event today to celebrate 40 years.

Ahead of today’s 40-year reunion at Operation Breakthrough, Sister Berta, 74, and Sister Corita, 77, laugh like schoolgirls about the old days.
Starting a child care center without any money. Rain pouring through the roof. The day the IRS showed up with no smile and a fat bill. Sister Berta grinding gears trying to get a bus up a hill. Sister Corita running a jackhammer.
The great idea to keep the center going by running a gas station. A landlord pulling a gun and chasing Sister Corita. The “flower children” who worked for $20 a month and a cot in the St. Vincent’s convent.
The stories come as if from war veterans who talk about their buddies and fun times — without mentioning the fighting and the casualties.
Pushed, however, these two founders of Operation Breakthrough, Berta Sailer and Corita Bussanmas, tell of the children lost.
The toddler who never wanted to leave at the end of the day. His father beat him to death one night while his mother turned up the TV loud so she wouldn’t hear.
The two nuns sat at his funeral and listened to the Barney theme song, wondering what they could have done to save him.
And Chuck, 4. With Sailer’s car stopped at a light in front of a fire station, the little boy said from his car seat that if he grew up he wanted to be a fireman.
In telling the story, Sailer lets the qualifier sink in.
“If” he grows up.
He didn’t.
Hundreds of the thousands of children who attended Operation Breakthrough since 1971 are expected to return today for a reunion celebration. Adults now, some with children of their own at the center, many of them credit the two nuns and the place for saving them from mean streets, volatile homes, poverty — and themselves.
“No matter what problems we had or what we’d been through, when we walked in there, we knew we were safe,” Aaron Randle, now 22, said Friday.
“I basically grew up there. We went to museums and concerts — things most of us never would have gotten to do. That place is part of who I am and will be with me forever.”
Randle recently graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C.
After a shaky beginning 40 years ago, the center today stands on a busy midtown corner as a model of early childhood education, a bright and gleaming world of hope for 550 children who know this is the place to hang their coat.
From a leaky roof to a wall in a cluttered basement office covered with honors and awards. Senators, governors and high rollers have plopped down on classroom floors to read to children.
The nuns have been to Washington to talk about urban child care. They’ve met Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama.
“What those two have done on that corner is amazing,” said Jim Caccamo, director of early learning for the Mid-America Regional Council and longtime observer of child care in Kansas City. “No matter how hard it got, they never gave up.
“Most humans don’t have that kind of staying power.”
Sailer and Bussanmas also have taken 70 foster children into their home, and adopted four others, including a 17-year-old girl developmentally disabled from being born addicted to 12 drugs.
But they don’t want medals for what they’ve done for children.
They know they didn’t save them all.
“We’ve got a couple on death row,” Sailer said.
Rich Koch, who had come to Kansas City from New York City, couldn’t believe the kids at the school next door couldn’t play basketball.
African-American kids in an American inner city can’t make a layup? Really?
“I thought all black kids were good at basketball,” he said one cold day to a nun on the playground.
It was 1970, the school was St. Vincent’s at 31st Street and Flora Avenue, and the nun was Corita Bussanmas.
She eyed the long-haired young white man like he was prey.
“You want to coach?” she asked him.
Koch had just graduated from college and had come to Missouri with friends doing volunteer work. The draft loomed. Vietnam.
“I’m not a coach,” he told her. Didn’t know anything about coaching.
Next thing he knows, he’s driving a car crammed with boys to a game where they get pounded by 30. Koch figures it was about 30 because that was the average margin of defeat in losing every game that year.
Once they were down 48-0 in a game when a St. Vincent’s player nails a half-court shot at the buzzer.
Never mind it’s the wrong basket. The boy is mobbed by teammates, who celebrate like they had won the NBA championship.
“The other team is acting like — what the heck is going on?” Koch remembered last week.
Surely his coaching days were over, he figured.
He had no idea what was headed his way.
The school was in trouble. The diocese wanted to shut down St. Vincent’s school because of a lack of Catholic students.
But Sailer and Bussanmas — the two had met in Chicago in 1958 — were ready to fight for their kids.
They told the diocese they would run the school themselves.
“Have you got any money?” officials asked.
“Sure,” Sailer lied through her teeth.
Last week in telling the story, the nun said with a chuckle: “We might have had $50 and we were going to run a school.”
They needed teachers and asked Koch to stay on.
“I’m not a teacher,” he told them.
They asked if he had a college degree.
He probably started to feel a little like Homer Smith in “Lilies of the Field.”
“Yes,” he answered.
“You’re a teacher,” they told him.
Sailer and Bussanmas decided on a Wednesday to open a nursery and preschool — the following Monday.
“A great example of our long-term planning,” Sailer said in the recent interview.
“We spent the weekend trying to get our hands on every high chair we could find,” Bussanmas added.
They named the place “Operation Breakthrough” — to break through poverty.
In 1971, for the most part, only poor people needed child care because most middle-class moms stayed home. This was long before child care block grants.
The center struggled financially from the start.
The youngsters arrived before dawn and stayed past dusk. There weren’t enough teachers or kitchen help. When the last child left at night, the nuns started cooking for the next day.
Women from the neighborhood helped in the nursery. The nuns filled holes with “flower children” and conscientious objectors to the war in Vietnam.
Everybody taught, everybody changed diapers.
Desperate to keep the place going, Sailer and Bussanmas bought a Standard gas station for sale at 31st Street and The Paseo. The nuns and older children manned the pumps, checked oil and washed windshields.
“Flower children” ran the night shift, with Koch in charge.
“Never mind that I grew up in New York, always rode the bus and knew absolutely nothing about cars,” Koch said.
But it turned out to be exciting work.
“Most of them got robbed and locked in the bathroom,” Sailer said.
The center sold the gas station after a couple of years.
One day, the IRS showed up and demanded $75,000 in overdue matching payroll taxes for the center’s employees.
“They said they were going to chain the doors,” Sailer said.
Three employees took second mortgages on their homes to come up with the money.
When the Dumpster flowed over, Sailer and Bussanmas snuck into neighborhoods at night, leaving bags in front of houses.
Regular staff worked 12-hour days, but got paid for eight. Even with that, the teachers were often asked to “hold off” on cashing checks for a few days.
“Sometimes we’d take the checks to cash, and they’d say, ‘Oh, we don’t take those checks,’ ” remembered Marilyn Driver, who is still there after 32 years.
Others stayed, too. Because most important were the children who showed up every morning to a warm smile and hot meal against the cold reality of poverty.
“I hate to think how many nights they stayed up trying to figure out how they were going to make it work,” said Terry Patterson, now a hospital administrator in Omaha.
“But by the time morning rolled around, they had their happy face on, and they made us feel like we were the most special kids in the world.”
Sailer knows some people think her families are where they are because of being lazy and making bad choices.
Not true, she says.
“Our parents try hard,” she said, “…life is stacked against them.”
Most were born into a segregated inner city, rife with poverty, unemployment, crime and troubled schools.
Today, at least a hundred of Operation Breakthrough’s children are homeless. The center’s bus picks up at shelters. One mother lived for two weeks with her kids in a bus stop. Some children live in cars.
Chris Waxter used to be one of those.
His family lived in a Ford Tempo before his mother got him and his five siblings into Operation Breakthrough.
“We didn’t have anywhere else to go,” Waxter, now 23, said last week. “I don’t know what would have happened to me without it.”
He lived with Sailer and Bussanmas when he was 10 or so.
“Waking up to Sister Corita’s French toast and bacon every morning — that was sweet,” he remembered.
“Those two mean the world to me and always will. I still go see them.”
So do the “flower children.”
As Claudia York put it, “Once you hook up with them, you never really leave.”
She arrived in 1969 after running away from home in Kentucky because her father didn’t think a girl should go to college.
She studied law and ended up in the fight to keep the school open when the diocese wanted to close it.
“I lived in the convent — we all did,” said York, who happily gave up law and is now a paramedic in Colorado. “We made next to nothing, but nobody cared because what those two were trying to do was so important.
“They tell people we showed up and saved them. But I know they rescued all of us.
“They are real, living saints on earth.”
Koch stayed several years. In 1981, when the center purchased its current location in an old JC Penney store at 3039 Troost Ave., his parents provided the $30,000 down payment.
In recent years, he’s brought his wife and kids to visit Sailer and Bussanmas.
“We are all better off for having them in our lives,” Koch said.
The sisters wave off the praise. It’s a miracle they kept the place open.
“We should have shut the doors 50 times over the years,” Sailer said. “We started with nothing and didn’t know what we were doing.”
Bussanmas nodded and smiled.
“But it happens. Every day it just happens.”

Anyone who has ever been part of Operation Breakthrough is invited to today’s 40th anniversary “Family Reunion” street festival, noon to 5 p.m. at 3039 Troost Ave.

Read more:


You just can't escape global Capital no matter how hard you try.  It'll come knocking on your door.  We're all part of the Empire now whether we live in the frozen north or the deserts of the south, whether we live in big cities or small towns, it just doesn't matter.  This doesn't mean, however, we have to take the crap the Empire dishes out without a squaw.  We could follow the example of the Blood Nation women, for example.

Read this from Narcosphere.

Blood Nation women arrested during blockade of fracking

Maija Tailfeathers: "Just got arrested. In the back of the cop car with Lois Frank. Texting with handcuffs. 3 Blood Tribe women."

Article by Brenda Norrell
Photo by Arnell Tailfeathers
Updated Saturday noon
Three Blood Nation women were arrested, Friday night, Sept. 9, while blockading oil and gas fracking on Blood Nation land in southern Alberta, near the Montana border.
Maija Tailfeathers said in a text message, "Just got arrested. In the back of the cop car with Lois Frank. Texting with handcuffs. 3 Blood Tribe women."
Blood Nation women stood in front of an oil tanker and brought it to a halt, then spent the night in jail.
The three Blood Nation women who spent the night in jail were Lois Frank, Jill Crop Earred Wolf, and Elle-Maija Tailfeathers.
Before their arrests, the women released a statement.
“Early tonight, numerous women from the Blood Nation have courageously parked in front of Murphy Oil's fracking development site vowing not to move until plans of fracking for oil and gas are stopped,” the women said.
“The women are part of the Kainai Earth Watch and have been active advocates to stop the fracking due to the major threat to human health, wildlife and livestock and the irreversible damage to the land and water on the Blood Reserve and surrounding areas. They feel this is the only choice left to them to stop the operations as plans for construction begin tomorrow.”
In late 2010, Kainaiwa Resources Inc. (KRI) quietly signed off on a deal with the Calgary-based junior mining company Bowood Energy and the U.S. company Murphy Oil. In exchange for the $50 Million, Bowood Energy and Murphy Oil gained a five-year lease to roughly 129, 280 acres, almost half of the Blood's reserve, for oil and gas exploration.
“Since that time local residents of the Blood Nation and surrounding communities have come together to oppose the projects. Members of the Kainai Earth Watch have partnered with numerous community groups, including the Lethbridge Council of Canadians, to host numerous educational workshops, organize petitions, and meet with government officials. Despite their efforts, nothing has been effective in actually preventing the fracking from going ahead,” Kainai Earth Watch said.
Plans of construction on four new fracking sites begin on Saturday. The women have vowed not to leave until they are confident the fracking won't go ahead.
A Utah corporation formed by non-Indians who exploited oil and gas reserves of the Southern Ute in Colorado, and Uintah and Ouray Ute Indian in Utah, is pushing the fracking on the Blood Reserve. The company is investing large sums of money to destroy the land and environment in Canada. 
Kainai Energy was formed in partnership with Native American Resource Partners LLC (NARP), a Utah-based investment firm owned by non-Indians who use the name "Native American," because they focus on exploiting Native American lands. NARP has satellite offices in Calgary and Saskatoon. NARP provided Kainai Energy with $100-million capital for oil and gas fracking and to destroy the land and environment.
The action of the Blood Nation women follows two weeks of sit-ins and 1,252 arrests at the White House in Washington D.C., to stop the tarsands mining, also located in Alberta, and the planned Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas.
Meanwhile, on the website Protect Blood Land Canada the health dangers of fracking are listed, as well as the fact that Blood Nation members were not consulted about the fracking deal.
“The first issue is the toxic nature of the drilling and its capacity to do irreversible damage to the land and water on the Blood Reserve and surrounding areas. Furthermore, fracking poses a major threat to human health, wildlife and livestock.
“The second issue at hand is the nature of the deal between KRI, Murphy Oil, and Bowood Energy. We believe this to be highly problematic for a number of reasons: Blood Tribe members were NOT consulted during the negotiations of this deal even though the drilling will occur on Blood Tribe land.
“KRI and the Blood Tribe Chief and Council neglected to maintain any degree of transparency during and after the negotiations. Ultimately, leaving a large population of tribal  members completely unaware of the situation until after the deal was made.
“Above all else, the health and well-being of Blood Tribe members and all future generations will be compromised due to the rash and reckless decision by KRI and Blood Tribe Chief and Council to sign this deal with Murphy Oil and Bowood Energy.”
Contact: For more information:
Louis Frank 403-795-7945 Mike Brucehead 403-737-2194
Watch video of arrests:

Friday, September 09, 2011


An uprising that crossed racial boundaries
It is hard for me to believe that it has been forty years since Attica.  Less than two months after the federal and state governments had indicted and issued warrants for my arrest charging me and three of my brothers with being a part of a bombing conspiracy, the news broke from New York.  For days, prison inmates banded together in what could just as well have been called the Attica Commune although I remember no one referring to it that way.  They took care of each other and their hostages.  They negotiated in peace and with honor.  They evolved into what we should all strive to become.  However, just as the Paris Commune struck terror into the hearts of the  bourgoise while striking a blow in the historical struggle for freedom, justice and liberty, so did the Attica Commune a century later.  It simply couldn't be allowed to live...and it wasn't.  

John Lennon wrote the song Attica State whose lyrics read:

What a waste of human power
What a waste of human lives
Shoot the prisoners in the towers
Forty-three poor widowed wives

Attica State, Attica State, we're all mates with Attica State

Media blames it on the prisoners
But the prisoners did not kill
"Rockefeller pulled the trigger"
That is what the people feel

Attica State, Attica State, we're all mates with Attica State

Free the prisoners, jail the judges
Free all prisoners everywhere
All they want is truth and justice
All they need is love and care

Attica State, Attica State, we're all mates with Attica State

They all live in suffocation
Let's not watch them die in sorrow
Now's the time for revolution
Give them all a chance to grow

Attica State, Attica State, we're all mates with Attica State

Come together join the movement
Take a stand for human rights
Fear and hatred clouds our judgement
Free us all from endless night

Attica State, Attica State, we're all mates with Attica State

Attica State, Attica State, we all live in Attica State

Attica State, Attica State, Attica, Attica, Attica State 

Indeed, free us all from endless night.

The following comes from the San Francisco Bay View.

Attica is all of us
Posted By NatashaR On September 8, 2011 @ 12:56 am In Prison Stories | No Comments
by Jalil A. Muntaqim

Attica prison 40 years ago this month – Photo: AP

On Feb. 10, 2011, I arrived at Attica for the third time during my 40 year incarceration. As soon as I entered the reception room, I heard a correctional officer announce to all the other prisoners: “What you heard about Attica is true. We don’t care what you do to each other, but if any of you touch one of us, we will put you in the hospital or worse … Welcome to Attica!” Since being here, I am aware of seven prisoners who suffered a beatdown by guards, and the superintendent here knows what is going on yet fails to curtail the level of violence against prisoners.
In essence, Attica today is pre-Sept. 9-11, 1971, where prisoners are controlled by fear and terror. The only Black captain, apparently sent here for the purpose of overseeing the madness of Attica, is only capable of intervening when on site. As soon as he is gone, the guards return to their racist deadly antics. This is not to blanket all white guards at Attica as racist, but when there is an institutional culture of racism, fear and terror, it is difficult for a humane guard to not jeopardize his own safety; this includes the few Black officers in this prison.

Why? One of the reasons is because these correctional officers, beyond the innate racism, fear another insurrection that will cause “state sanctioned killing,” as when former New York state Gov. Nelson Rockefeller ordered State Troopers and guards to open fire, massacring 41 prisoners and guards. Therefore, fear, terror and brutality are the measure of their false safety and security, none of which is a secret to the authorities in Albany.

In September 1971, there was a vibrant progressive and revolutionary movement in this country. The prison movement reflected the fightback determination of young people believing they could create a better world. On the streets there was a movement, and in prison there was a movement. No such animal exists today, at least nowhere near the level of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

Then there were “Free Political Prisoner” campaigns going on – the Free Huey, Free Angela, Free the Panther 21, Free the Soledad Brothers, Free the San Quentin Six campaigns that forged a national consciousness of fightback. No such broad political consciousness or campaign exists today.

Jalil Muntaqim in 2009

Hence, today’s prisoners reflect the drug and gang culture, much of which includes functional illiterates. Therefore, correctional personnel are not worried about these prisoners fighting back physically or legally. Some of the largest gains of civil rights for prisoners were in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when prisoners filed a multitude of lawsuits and had the assistance of progressive legal organizations. Today, the Supreme Court has severely restricted prisoners’ ability to file lawsuits and win.
The absent dynamic of a vibrant prison movement negatively impacts the capacity of prisoners to fight. Absent both community and legal support, in a confined repressive environment, prisoners can only be expected to survive and try and make it home alive. Attica, Comstock, Clinton and other New York state maximum security prisons suffer the same reality, all of which tells all of us of our collective failure.

It is my sincere hope, on this 40th year commemoration of Attica, that New York City’s activists recognize what for many inside prison seems to be abandonment. That they will decide to recognize the work that needs to be done to help restore the capacity for all of us to fight back for freedom!

Jalil Muntaqim is deeply embedded in the hearts of supporters of the San Francisco 8 for his extraordinary courage and self-sacrifice on behalf of his brothers. We especially should heed his words. Send our brother some love and light: Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), 77A-4283, Attica Correctional Facility, 639 Exchange St., Attica NY 14011.