IT'S ALRIGHT, THE MONKEYS ARE IN CHARGE NOW.

31 AUGUST 2002: IT’S
ALRIGHT, THE MONKEYS ARE IN CHARGE NOW.

From an old
BBC news report
:

Monkeys invade Delhi government

Tuesday, 9 January, 2001,
14:38 GMT

Thousands of monkeys are
invading government buildings in Delhi, forcing employees to arm themselves
with sticks and stones in case they are attacked.


    At least
10,000 monkeys are creating havoc in the Indian capital by barging into
government offices, stealing food, threatening bureaucrats and even ripping
apart valuable documents.

    The increasingly
aggressive animals swing effortlessly between the offices of the defence,
finance and external affairs ministries and some have even been spotted
in the prime minister’s office.


    “They
are moving in very high security areas,” says Defence Ministry officer,
IK Jha.


    Officials
say there is little that can be done.


    Killing
the animals is not an option because monkeys are a sacred symbol in Hinduism,
India’s main religion.


    The authorities
used to capture the monkeys and ship them to neighbouring states, but this
is no longer possible because other areas are now being over populated
with monkeys.


    The government
held a high-level meeting two years ago to solve the problem permanently.

    Suggestions
ranged from setting up a separate park for captured monkeys to “monkey
contraception.”


    Nothing
has been done since then and employees still walk to work in fear of attack.


    
“I am sometimes faced with groups of monkeys, big huge looking fellows,”
says government employee Surekha Rao. “What I do is make some noise with
my shoes so the monkey moves away.”


    Animal
rights activists say the main problem is not the rising number of monkeys
but the growing population of humans.


    “We have
encroached on their homelands, we have taken away their fruits, we have
reduced their water sources and we are trapping them from their home range,
from their forests, so they are coming to urban areas,” says rights activist
Iqbal Malik.

"THIS MONKEY IS NO ORDINARY MONKEY."

30 AUGUST 2002: “THIS
MONKEY IS NO ORDINARY MONKEY.”


A monkey that is sitting
atop the statue of Lord Hanuman for the past twenty-two days is attracting
streams of people.

FROM LOCAL NEWS REPORT:

BANGALORE-AUG 23: This is
the story of a male adult monkey that has metamorphosised as God Hanuman.
No joke. A monkey sitting atop the statue of God Hanuman for the past twenty-two
days is attracting streams of people to this unbelievable happening . It
all happened at Thimmaganapalli. A monkey just came inside the Altar or
sanctum to the surprise of the priest and other on lookers. They bet the
monkey with the stick and many have even threw stones. In the melee the
monkey bore all this and came out with a new avatar as monkey God. The
effort of the villagers to chase the monkey did not yield any results.
The monkey doesn’t eat anything, not even a delicious banana.


       “This
is the reincarnation of God. This monkey is no ordinary monkey. It has
come here twenty two days back and sitting here day and night. I come in
the morning and perform pooja till late night. Thousands of people across
are coming to see this wonder. For the people of this village this is for
good. For the first five days we tried to chase this monkey away from the
temple but it did not budge and inch. Then the elders decided that it is
God and we are performing pooja,” said Krishnamurthy, priest of the Hanuman
temple.


       
The word spread across attracting thousands of people to see this ardent
devotee. “I have come from Hindupur to see this wonder. This is really
God coming in new avtar and reincarnation. For me this is God and for Good,
said Nirmala, a visitor.


     Even
now the monkey is sitting atop the statue like a rock. People are thronging
and performing pooja. (ANI)

=====

from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/2224025.stm

Court orders release for
‘monkey god’


By Omer Farooq

BBC reporter in Hyderabad

Aug 29: A court in the southern
Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has ordered the state authorities to help
free a monkey that has been confined inside a temple for the last month.


    
The monkey has been kept within the temple’s inner-most chambers in the
belief that it is the reincarnation of a much loved Hindu monkey god -
Hanuman.


    
The court issued the orders in response to a writ petition filed by an
animal rights group, Karuna, based in Anantapur.

    
The bench directed the Anantapur district superintendent of police to send
a team of veterinary doctors to examine the condition of the monkey and
treat it as necessary.


    
The court also asked the police to extend all necessary help in securing
the monkey’s freedom.


    
A spokesperson from the animal rights group, Gangi Reddy, said the monkey
was locked up after local people spotted it perched atop an idol of Hanuman
in a deserted temple on 1 August.


    Devotees
mistook the monkey to be a reincarnation of Hanuman and the animal has
been forcibly confined within the temple’s inner sanctum ever since.


  Local officials say
hundreds of devotees throng the temple every day to pay their respects
to the monkey.


  But the court has
directed local authorities to examine the entire episode and investigate
allegations that the monkey is being used to exploit religious sentiments
and make money.

   Meanwhile,
a veterinary doctor who examined the monkey says the animal is in good
health – and seems unwilling to leave the temple premises.

IT'S WATER FOR PROFIT.

27 AUGUST 2002: IT’S
WATER FOR PROFIT.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/26/international/americas/26WATE.html

As Multinationals Run the Taps, Anger
Rises Over Water for Profit


By JOHN TAGLIABUE

SAN ISIDRO DE LULES, Argentina
˜ When Jorge Abdala’s water bill jumped to 59 pesos a month from 24 a few
years ago, he went looking for someone to blame. He soon found his villain:
a French multinational company at the forefront of a global effort to privatize
government-run water systems.


    Mr. Abdala,
a soft-spoken 54-year-old, scarcely seems the revolutionary. Scrambling
for a living like most of his neighbors in this sprawling town tucked up
under the Andes, he runs a meager catering business out of his kitchen.


    But the
protests Mr. Abdala organized here forced the company, now known as Vivendi
Environnement, to abandon its long-term contract to overhaul and manage
the waterworks of the Tucumán Province, where Mr. Abdala and roughly
one million other Argentines live.


    “Our
main demand was, simply, `Go home!’ ” he said, shifting to the edge of
his seat in the living room of his simple one-story home. “We kept presenting
facts showing that they were not making any investments, just raising the
price of water. And any investments they made were with government money.”


    Vast
numbers of people have also demonstrated in Bolivia, in Ecuador, in Panama,
in South Africa and elsewhere in a vivid illustration of how highly charged
the economics of water have become. At issue is this question: should water,
a substance close to life itself, be a profit-making business?

    The backlash
in Tucumán continues today as the province struggles to find a new
company to operate its aging water system. The reaction is still being
felt by the big European concerns that dominate the world water business
and the Western aid institutions that support privatization.


    Already,
corporations own or operate water systems across the globe that bring in
about $200 billion a year. Yet they serve only about 7 percent of the world’s
population, leaving a potentially vast market untapped. Protesters are
determined to limit that market.


    The protests
have heartened the companies’ critics, mainly environmentalists who oppose
globalization, but also consumer groups and labor unions. They all object
to private enterprise making a profit on water.


    “Water
is a resource essential to life,” said Hannah Griffiths, of Friends of
the Earth, an environmentalist group based in Britain. “Decisions about
allocation and distribution should be democratic and based on everyone’s
fundamental right to a clean, healthy supply.”


    Not all
agree. Some argue that unless water is treated as an increasingly precious
commodity and priced to reflect its value ˜ particularly for heavy users
like farmers and factories ˜ much of it will be wasted.


    It also
often takes more money than some governments are willing or able to spend
to improve the systems that deliver fresh water to cities and towns around
the world, especially to the poor.

    But will
allowing private enterprise to manage or own many of the world’s water
systems help overcome those problems? And will it expose the poor to impossibly
high water bills?


    The widespread
inability of public utilities in the developing world to provide clean
water is one of the strongest arguments in favor of privatization.


    “As a
general rule, they’re heavily overstaffed, provide poor quality, are unwilling
or unable to invest, with not enough money to serve everybody,” said John
Briscoe, senior water adviser at the World Bank in Washington, referring
to public utilities.


    But private
enterprise appears to be no panacea. Here in Tucumán, Vivendi’s
critics say that the company recklessly pursued the contract in order to
break into the market and that most of the problems it encountered were
of its own making.


    To Gilda
Pedinoce de Valls, a former state’s attorney in Tucumán, Vivendi
failed to recognize how strongly people feel about tampering with the substance
essential to sustaining what has long been a dusty region noted for its
citrus fruit crop.

    Water,
she said, “is a gift from God.”


    Olivier
Barbaroux, the president of Vivendi’s water business, agreed ˜ but only
up to a point.


    “Yes,”
Mr. Barbaroux said, “but he forgot to lay the pipes.”

More Water, but No Sewers

When water filled the cellar
under Basilio Sajnik’s pizzeria in downtown Lomas de Zamora, a sprawling
suburb of Buenos Aires, he, too, looked for a culprit.


    Like
Mr. Abdala, he found a leading French multinational. That company, Suez,
along with Vivendi has led the push to privatize water management.


    In 1992,
Suez signed a 30-year contract to manage the water around Buenos Aires.
Lomas, a sprawling low-slung city of 600,000 on the capital’s southern
edge, is home to many of the 2 million people that Suez provided with water
for the first time.

    But the
company was slower to install sewers. Now the cellar under the three-family
building that houses Mr. Sajnik’s pizzeria is permanently flooded. A pump
runs seven days a week.


    “It’s
the third pump I’ve purchased, yet nobody pays me for the electricity”
Mr. Sajnik, 58, said recently as he waded in dirty water almost to the
top of his knee-high boots.


    The water
Suez brought to the neighborhood produced so much runoff that the water
table rose, causing streams of sewage to trickle along curbs and flood
cellars, even in the driest of seasons. In summer, the stench is overwhelming.
So far there have been no outbreaks of sickness, but the threat to public
health is constant.


    “I could
go to court, but it is too slow, and the powerful always win,” Mr. Sajnik
said. “They say it’s nature, and what can you do about nature?”


    Suez
executives blame Argentina’s financial crisis instead of nature. Jacques
Petry, chief executive of Ondeo, the water division of Suez, explained
in Paris that Suez’s original investment plan foresaw the installation
of sewers. But the collapse of the Argentine peso has frozen the work.
Suez, he said, supports a program to provide 1,500 pumps to the area.


    For the
time being, said Jean Bernard Lemire, the new chief executive of Suez’s
Argentine affiliate, spending has been reduced to the essentials: paying
wages, buying chemicals and energy, and basic maintenance.

    He acknowledges
that renegotiating the original contract, which has already been modified
dozens of times, mocks the original agreement.


    “Of course,
our competitors can say, `Under those conditions, we could have won the
contracts, too,”‘ he said. But he added, “We cannot forecast on a 30-year
basis; we have to be flexible.”


    Overall,
Suez says it is proud of its accomplishments in Buenos Aires. It modernized
treatment plants that were once on the verge of collapse, and efficiently
runs a fleet of more than 1,000 repair trucks. Billings are now computerized.
And except for the first eight months, when Suez lost $23 million, it has
been highly profitable.


    Daniel
Azpiazu, director of research at the Latin American School of Social Sciences
in Buenos Aires, accuses Argentina’s political leadership of cynically
permitting the public utilities to deteriorate so that voters would embrace
privatization.


    In a
1992 survey, he said, 82 percent of Argentines questioned had favored privatization.
In the haste to privatize, however, regulatory bodies and oversight authorities
were rarely installed.


    “In the
early phase, a regulatory agency was not in place,” said Abel Fatala, the
engineer in charge of public services in the municipal government of Buenos
Aires. “When it did start up, it was made in the image of the water company.
The concrete result was that there was no control at all.”

A Vast Market Gap to Fill

By 2025, as the world’s
population grows to eight billion, the United Nations expects the number
of people suffering from an inadequate supply of clean water to grow to
five billion from the current two billion.


    The vast
potential to make money by filling that gap has prompted several large
multinationals like Vivendi and Suez to target what they see as a lucrative
market for the future.


    The case
for privatization germinated decades ago after the World Bank unsuccessfully
tried to fix the public water supply system in Manila. Despite five repair
attempts over the years, water loss was as high as 64 percent.


    “Fundamentally
we realized that without a change in incentives ˜ some very logical, sensible
things ˜ this was not working,” said Mr. Briscoe, of the World Bank said.


    Critics
still say it is unrealistic to expect private companies, whose main responsibility
is to their shareholders, to assume the financial risk of supplying water
to portions of the world’s population that may not be able to afford it
in the first place.


    But investors
are betting that the business of water will boom in coming decades. “This
is a $200 billion market, growing at a 6 percent rate annually, in terms
of population,” said Hans Peter Portner, a fund manager at Banque Pictet
in Geneva who handles the bank’s Global Water Fund. He predicts that privatized
water systems will expand to serve about 17 percent of the world’s population
by 2015, up from 7 percent now.

    Compared
with the Europeans, the American company with the biggest international
business in the field, Bechtel, whose directors include former Secretary
of State George P. Shultz, is a novice. Another American company, Azurix,
a unit of Enron, collapsed before its parent did.


    That
leaves the field mostly to the French giants, Vivendi Environnement and
Suez. Last year, almost half of Vivendi Environnement’s $26 billion of
revenue came from water; roughly one quarter of Suez’s $38 billion in revenue
was generated by the water division, Ondeo.


    French
dominance is now challenged by a third global player, Thames Water P.L.C.
of Britain. Thames rose, after Margaret Thatcher privatized water services
in Britain in 1989, by swallowing up smaller British competitors. In 1999,
it agreed to a $9.8 billion takeover bid from the big German utility RWE
A.G.


    All three
European companies have spent lavishly expanding in the United States.
This year, Thames acquired American Water Works, the American market leader,
for $7.6 billion. It was playing catch-up to Suez, which spent $6 billion
in 1999 to buy United Water Resources and Nalco, a maker of chemicals for
water treatment. Earlier that year, Vivendi acquired the U.S. Filter Corporation
for almost $8 billion.


    Contracts
are pouring in. This year, both Suez and Vivendi signed long-term deals,
some for up to 50 years, to manage municipal water systems in China, which
faces huge water shortages. In Central Europe, cities like Warsaw and Budapest
are struggling to upgrade their water systems to meet the standards of
the European Union, which Poland and Hungary are expected to join within
the next few years.


    Industry
executives recognize the need for oversight. “It’s always a difficult decision
to ask a private water company to manage such an essential service,” said
Gérard Mestrallet, the chief executive of Suez, in his Paris office.
“It is your duty to demonstrate that the arrival of the private sector
brings something concrete.”

    But in
their hurry, the companies often underbid to get a foot in the door, with
prices that fail to take account of the full cost of upgrading old and
inefficient water systems. Contracts are therefore regularly renegotiated.


    Renegotiation
often means that parts of the contract, like obligations to provide sewers
to go with water distribution, are cut or scaled back, sometimes causing
environmental difficulties. The situation in Lomas de Zamora is a pungent
illustration of the point.


    Critics
charge that it is all part of corporate strategy. If the project doesn’t
make money, the critics say, the companies cry for renegotiation, threatening
to leave otherwise.


 
Moreover, there is an inherent contradiction
in many of the efforts to privatize water systems, particularly those in
developing countries.


   
Municipalities award those contracts in part to shift the investment risk
to the private sector. Often, however, the private contractors commit little
of their own capital, relying instead on the municipalities themselves,
private lenders like banks, and international development organizations
like the World Bank or regional development banks.


   
In South Africa, for example, 80 percent of the money for a recent water
development project came from the Development Bank of South Africa. In
Peru, 100 percent of the money for a similar project originated at the
Interamerican Development Bank.

   
Given those flaws, opponents, many representing nongovernmental organizations
that have becoming increasingly involved in development issues, contend
that the role of private companies in delivering water supplies should
be sharply limited, confined to simply building things like treatment plants
for public entities.


    “Water
has to be a public good,” said Mr. Azpiazu, of the School of Social Sciences.
“It cannot be a predator business, in which you stay for a few years, make
your money and leave.”


    In North
America, most water remains publicly managed. Yet many municipal systems
are old and inefficient, and competition to take them over is intense.
Indianapolis, Atlanta and Milwaukee are among the city water services licensed
for management and operation to the European giants. In March, Suez landed
a 10 year, $4 billion contract to mange the water system of Puerto Rico.


    Company
executives muse about the billions of dollars modernization of the old
and dilapidated water works of great metropolises like New York might one
day bring.

Uniting Against Vivendi

After Suez landed its lucrative
30-year contract to manage the water system in Buenos Aires, Vivendi decided
to jump in. It bid aggressively for the similar contract in Tucumán
Province, even after four other bidders dropped out.

    After
rates continued to rise, Mr. Abdala joined other consumer leaders from
all over the province in calling for a payment strike. Vivendi’s collection
rate in Tucumán, which rose to 70 percent after it reorganized bill
collecting, plummeted to 10 percent.


    When
Vivendi employees sought to shut off a nonpaying customer’s water, Mr.
Abdala and other protest organizers sent demonstrators who stood on manhole
covers and blocked access to the water mains.


    “We
lived in a permanent state of mobilization,” Mr. Abdala recalled.


    In early
1996, after manganese deposits, always present in the local water, became
so great that tap water ran the color of cola, popular anger translated
into large-scale demonstrations against Vivendi. Local officials blamed
the ineptitude of Vivendi’s French engineers; Vivendi suspected sabotage.


    By the
summer of 1998, Vivendi was losing almost $3 million a month in the province,
and it unilaterally canceled the contract. One month later, Tucumán
Province pulled out of the deal as well. Vivendi then sued Tucumán
before a World Bank tribunal, but lost.

    Now the
province is starting from scratch. Water engineers sent from a neighboring
province to run the system have cut jobs at the water utility, to 500 from
850. A regulatory agency is being established to prepare for a new contract
later this year.


    “We don’t
know what company will invest here,” said José Cuneo Verges, a former
government official who is working on the project. “Yet we want to show
that Tucumán is ready.”


    That
is why Mr. Abdala is still on the case.


    “Whoever
takes it over must have good ties to us,” he said. “We want the participation
of consumers.”

COMPLICIT, GUILTY, RESISTING.

26 AUGUST 2002: COMPLICIT,
GUILTY, RESISTING.

godspeed
you! black emperor


yanqui
u.x.o.


(cst024 )

2xLP/CD

release dates:

europe nov 04, 2002

n. america nov 11, 2002

u.x.o. is unexploded ordnance
is landmines is cluster bombs. yanqui is post-colonial imperialism is international
police state is multinational corporate oligarchy.  godspeed you!
black emperor is complicit is guilty is resisting.  the new album
is just music.


recorded by steve albini
at electrical audio in chicago.  mixed by howard bilerman and godspeed
you! black emperor at the hotel2tango in montreal.  available on single
compact disc and double phonograph record.

stubborn tiny lights vs.
clustering darkness forever ok?


 

===========

CONSTELLATION
MANIFESTO:

Independence is a much-invoked
term in the music world, and its co-optation by the industry all too often
corrupts and invalidates whatever real meaning the word possesses. Independence
is an empty pose to the extent it does not relate critically and stand
in opposition to the homogenising force of corporatism and culture commodification.
The capitalist system of exchange is at a certain level inescapable – it
takes money to make records and money to buy them – but the worst traits
and tendencies of this system must be resisted, not just in spirit, but
in practice. We understand our position as an independent record label
to be an ongoing attempt to define and enact such a practice.


Corporatism divides and
conquers and falsifies social participation in its pre-formed, group-tested,
hermetically-sealed cycle of marketed product, setting up a closed circle
of blind consumption. The corporation is inhuman, managerial, driven solely
by profit and “the sell”. It is incapable of actually caring about and
preserving the supposedly cultural objects it shills, for it can ascribe
no real content to them. The very concept of quality is anathema to it
- capitalism in its grossest form is a total reduction to quantity, to
moving units. Exceptions only prove the rule – if you’ve heard something
on a major label that you dig, this is purely accidental. To the degree
you have made this positive valuation in relative aesthetic freedom, you
are already approaching the corporate product in terms that are foreign
and threatening to it. The corporation would much prefer your docility
to your activity, and in fact does everything in its power to engender
that docility by creating the illusion of activity.

Independence is to our minds
the affirmation of real community, real conversation, and the real exchange
of artistic work. The urgent task is to build up and promote real dependency
through a network of dissemination and valuation of culture that strives
to address the truth of our human situation – a dependency based on freedom,
critique, and dialogue. Obviously putting out rock music, however experimental
and boundary-pushing, is only obliquely a political and social activity,
but we nevertheless hope to contribute in a tiny way to a meaningful model
of communication which takes its lead from art. We deal with bands face-to-face,
without formal contracts, on the basis of ongoing discussion and mutual
decision-making. A shared understanding of principles is crucial to the
process, the aim being to collectively define and set the terms of engagement.
Our foremost concern is to minimise the corrupting effect of bringing a
work to market, allowing it to preserve its own terrain, to speak for itself.
We are learning as we go, attempting to remain as critical as possible
about our methods of self-definition.

In most other respects, the
enemy lies without and is much easier to identify. We have no interest
in and make no effort towards the placing of our recordings in corporate
retail outlets. However, we do work with distributors we feel we can trust,
and relinquish control of certain commercial aspects to them. In a sense
there is more than a mundane convenience here, as it not only saves us
from much of the distasteful work involved in negotiating and penetrating
the marketplace, but allows us to deflect responsibility for the ultimate
placement of our records in shops. Guilty as charged – if we could afford
to work personally and directly with every Mom & Pop record store on
the planet, we would. At the very least, we are committed to a model of
expansion that seeks to minimise the role of corporate chains. The expectation
is that as our catalogue of releases and our understanding of distribution
networks increase, so too will our ability to expand and strengthen the
lines connecting points of independent exchange. Insofar as this possibility
exists and can be actualised, we have hope. The role of chain stores in
the pre-determination and warehousing of culture is to be resisted. Do
not shop at these temples of payola and product placement – they are zones
of domination. Seek out your local independent record shop, and if you
are amongst the unlucky many whose community has already been ravaged and
gutted by Wal-mart or HMV, please mail-order directly from us. This is
your least expensive option in any case.

Duplication is a cornerstone
of corporate capital – you too can be hand-fed your own identity as you
suckle the same fucking hamburger in the same fucking prefab environment
in the four corners of the world – but it can proceed by way of non-corporate
techniques. Avoidance of pre-formulated package design sets up the parameters
for localised multi-step reproduction. Our practice of record-making involves
local artisans, craftspeople and small businesses. You can read all about
this in the section on packaging. Sometimes we find ourselves with no choice
but to dirty our hands and do business with a behemoth. Paper producers
and suppliers are the foremost example, as they are almost without exception
directly tied to corporate harvesters of trees. We’re not about to forgo
the use of paper, so the best we can do is seek out those producers who
aren’t vertically-integrated from top to bottom, who don’t exist directly
as an arm of an odious multi-national. Reproduction of music on vinyl and
CD is also potentially dangerous terrain, though the former has mostly
become an independently-owned process by now. Our commitment to vinyl certainly
stems in part from its inherent resistance to the advent of compact discs
as the vehicle of mass duplication. We are neither absolute purists nor
luddites in this regard – while we do prefer vinyl both for sonics and
for its ability to create a larger canvas for art direction, we also recognise
the decentralising potential of digital duplication and transmission. It’s
clear that digital technology is increasingly empowering localised and
independent production, which for us mostly means the ability to press
our discs with small-scale companies. We are still wholly unconvinced of
the worth, aesthetic or otherwise, of displacing the tangible record-as-object
to the ephemeral realm of the internet. There may be limited applications
that we haven’t yet grasped, but until the technology is made both accessible
and refined enough to permit the exchange of music without compromising
either its inherent sonics or its contextualisation in a package, this
appears to us peripheral.

Mechanical reproduction,
whether digital or analogue with regard to the music itself, whether at
the local die-cutter or silkscreener with regard to packaging and printing,
is accessible technology and allows for the duplication and dissemination
of cultural work at the micro-level, even if the macroscopic potentials
of the technology machine, with respect to art no less than labour practice
or weaponry, are terrifying. It’s all about maintaining a human scale.
Fin-de-siecle capitalism both facilitates and threatens independent production,
and the key for us is to utilise those technologies that captialism itself
has marginalised and dispersed in order to create cultural objects that
are inherently critical of the system. To the extent this condemns us to
pursuing quality at the expense of quantity, it is a fate to which we willingly
submit.


 

ONE MORE REASON TO DESPISE THE RICH.

25 AUGUST 2002: ONE MORE
REASON TO DESPISE THE RICH.

FROM THE
NEW YORK TIMES
:

Owners of Malibu Mansions Cry, ‘This
Sand Is My Sand’


By TIMOTHY EGAN

MALIBU, Calif., Aug. 23 ˜
It started as another golden California day, the shoreline aglow in the
haloed light of midmorning. Rob LeMond was teaching children in his surfing
camp, passing on nearly a half-century of knowledge about riding the waves
of the Pacific.


    Then
a nearby homeowner complained that Mr. LeMond’s surfing students had crossed
the line onto his beach property. The sheriff was called. A long argument
followed over which strip of sand belonged to the public and which was
private.

    “Finally,
this homeowner turned to me and said something I thought I’d never hear
on a California beach,” said Mr. LeMond, 54, of Malibu. “He
said he did not like to look out his window and see people swimming, because
it blocked his view.”


    Skirmishes
over surf and sand have become particularly intense up and down the Southern
California coast this summer.


    To some
people, the fight is about a California birthright: public access to every
inch of the state’s 1,160-mile shoreline. By law, there is no such thing
as private beach in California. In a state where 80 percent of the 34 million
people live within an hour of the coast, it is no small fight.


    Others
see a gold coast of hypocrisy. Some of Hollywood’s and the Democratic Party’s
biggest contributors to liberal causes, like David Geffen, have turned
into conservative property-rights advocates because the battle is taking
place in their sandy backyards.


    “The
real issue here is money,” said Steve Hoye, the leader of a nonprofit group,
Access for All, and an active Democrat.


    “These
people who live on the beach here think that the public cannot be trusted
to walk or swim in front of these million-dollar houses,” Mr. Hoye said.

    A court
fight, initiated by Mr. Geffen, the entertainment mogul, could take the
question of beach access well beyond the shores of Malibu. Last month,
he filed suit seeking to block public access to a narrow walkway that goes
by his Malibu compound.
He promised access 19
years ago, but the path has never been opened, and Mr. Geffen now says
it would be unsafe, dirty and impractical to allow people to walk by his
home to the beach.


    Mr. Geffen
contends in the lawsuit that the access way amounts to a “taking of property
without compensation,” an argument that conservatives have used in environmental
fights for years. If the suit is successful, it could make it much harder
for state and federal agencies to open paths to public beaches throughout
the United States, or even to acquire open space for wildlife or recreation,
some experts say.


    “This
could keep the public away from a lot of beaches,” said Robert Ritchie,
director of research at the Huntington Library in San Marino, who is writing
a book on beach culture. “And because a very significant percentage of
the United States population now lives in counties facing the ocean, the
pressure for public access has become enormous. At the same time, you have
these homeowners fighting to keep the hordes back.”


    The stand
taken by beachfront owners here in Malibu, long a Democratic Party stronghold,
has infuriated another sector of party supporters ˜ environmentalists.


    “Here
you have the superrich wanting to have a private beach in a state that
decided long ago it would not allow any private beaches,” said Carl Pope,
executive director of the Sierra Club. “It’s a huge land grab. By blocking
access, they want to lock up the coast.”


    Further
complicating the issue, a prominent environmental philanthropist, Wendy
McCaw, has vowed to take her lawsuit against beach access to the United
States Supreme Court, making many of the same arguments as Mr. Geffen.

    Ms. McCaw,
the billionaire owner of The Santa Barbara News-Press, is trying to block
access to a 500-foot strip of beach below her 25-acre estate on a bluff
in Santa Barbara County. The easement was granted by a previous owner,
and Ms. McCaw says it does not apply to her. She has already paid $460,000
in fines in her fight to prevent access. She says if the state is going
to require an access path from her private property, then she should be
compensated.


    “There
needs to be more effort toward protecting the embattled wildlife calling
our beaches home, rather than focusing on how to pack more humans with
their destructive ways into those sensitive habitats,” Ms. McCaw said.


    In most
states, beaches that are covered by water at high tide but are relatively
dry at low tide are public. The entire West Coast falls under this mean
high tide doctrine. But some states, notably New York, Massachusetts and
Maine, are more restrictive, allowing fences in the water and private ownership
of tidelands.


    California
voters, in a populist campaign 30 years ago, took the additional step of
guaranteeing “access” to beaches, and empowered the California Coastal
Commission to fight on the public’s behalf.


    Since
then, the state has reached more than 1,300 access deals with private property
owners, but many of those have a time limit and are set to expire within
a few years.


    “Development
shall not interfere with the public right of access to the sea,” reads
a section of the California Coastal Act.

    Beachfront
owners in Malibu have surveyed the tide lines and posted signs warning
people that it is trespassing to walk within a zone they have claimed from
their houses to the ocean. The coastal commission says these private surveys
are meaningless because the definition of what a public beach is changes
daily, with the tides.


    Still,
homeowners
in parts of Malibu have hired private security forces to roam the beach
on three-wheeled vehicles, herding people away from areas they consider
private property.


    A 1987
Supreme Court ruling, Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, limited
the commission’s authority to insist on public access, saying it had power
only over new developments. Mr. Geffen and Ms. McCaw are trying to expand
the Nollan ruling.


    Mr. Geffen’s
spokesman, Andy Spahn, said the Nollan ruling should be applied retroactively
to Mr. Geffen. Mr. Spahn said the public access promise Mr. Geffen made
in 1983 was “extorted” from him as a condition to expand his beach property
with maid quarters and other improvements.


    Mr. Spahn
also said he wanted to start a debate about the “beachgoing experience”
of the public.


    “We think
this is the wrong place for access,” Mr. Spahn said, referring to the path
next to Mr. Geffen’s house. “People are looking for safety, for bathrooms,
for lifeguards. They’re not going to want to cross four lanes of highway,
carrying beach furniture.”

    But the
coastal commission says that it has granted hundreds of access points that
are no more than footpaths next to mansions, and that they operate without
lifeguards or bathrooms and have few problems.


   
The path by Mr. Geffen’s estate is blocked by a locked gate. In front of
the house is a 275-foot stretch of beach, which is open to the public at
low tide, but requires a 20-minute hike to reach now.


    “What
David Geffen is doing is simply breaking his promise,” said Sara Wan, chairwoman
of the coastal commission. “He has a very nice stretch of beach in front
of his house, and it belongs to the public.”


    The city
of Malibu, a 27-mile strip of beach castles and hillside homes along each
side of the Pacific Coast Highway with a population of 13,000, has joined
Mr. Geffen in his lawsuit.


    Jeff
Jennings, the mayor of Malibu, said the city was concerned about safety
and garbage pickup if the access point at Mr. Geffen’s house was not properly
maintained by Access for All, the group that has been granted the right
to manage the pathway should it ever be opened.


    “I have
no interest in keeping the public off public land,” Mr. Jennings said.
“But most people who come to the beaches are not experts in water safety.
It can be a highly dangerous situation.”

    Veteran
surfers, who rely on the narrow public paths to get to some of the best
waves of the Pacific, say they do not need lifeguards or bathrooms. But
they would like to bring back an earlier era.


    “In the
old days, it was live and let live,” said Kurt Lampson, a surfing instructor
who grew up on Malibu’s beaches. “Now you got these guards going around
saying sit here, don’t walk there. It’s depressing.”