Jessica in WI

Nov 202011
 

*Police Should Condemn, Not Defend, Excessive Use of Force at UC Davis

By E.D. Kain, Forbes

…In other words, one reason that police should hold themselves to a higher standard is to protect themselves from backlash. This is a problem I’ve written about in regards to the War on Drugs. When excessive force is used, or no-knock raids lead to drug busts at the wrong house, or family pets are killed, all of this leads to a deficit of public trust.

Several people have emailed me angrily to insist that I support lawlessness and don’t understand the constitution. I do not support lawlessness, but I especially do not support it if it is the police themselves who are acting in a lawless manner. I hold the police to a higher standard. I think we have to appreciate dissent for what it is, and we have to appreciate police for the difficult job they do. The balance at any protest between free speech and law and order is going to be tenuous. It is incumbent on the protesters and law enforcement to keep the peace.

In any case, there have been plenty of reports of bad behavior on the parts of Occupy protesters, but none of those reports make incidents like the actions of the police at UC Davis okay. Two wrongs, as the saying goes, do not make a right. Stopping criminal behavior is one thing. Spraying peaceful protesters, even if they won’t move, is quite another.

[Update]
UC Davis is forming a task force to investigate Friday’s events. The University Chancellor has issued a statement as well.

Video of UC Davis police spraying protesters. [At Link]

READ@ http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/11/19/police-should-criticize-not-defend-excessive-use-of-force-at-uc-davis/

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*New York Churches Shelter Occupy Protesters, Now Monitored by New York Police

By Tanya Somander, Think Progress

…According to church officials, two police officers (one later identified as belonging to the intelligence division) asked to use the bathroom but instead “entered the sanctuary, one remaining near the door while the other advanced down the aisle, apparently counting the demonstrators in the pews.” Then, one officer went downstairs to a homeless women’s shelter and “asked for information about who was sleeping there” without identifying himself or showing his badge. The church’s Rev. James Karpen called the police actions “invasive”:

“It is disconcerting that they would actually enter the sanctuary,” said the Rev. James Karpen, known as Reverend K, senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, on West 86th Street. “Here we had offered hospitality and safety, which is our business as a church; it just felt invasive.” [...]

“They are welcome to come in if they just say who they are,” Mr. Karpen said.“We have never had that kind of issue with the police before. Usually, they are very respectful of church-state issues.”

Church officials said two other police intelligence officers visited earlier in the day, claiming they were following up on “an anonymous report of vandalism,” which, according to the church, had not taken place. The officers warned associate Pastor Siobhan Sargent that they did not want anything to happen to the church and that that was a “risk” with the protesters sleeping there. Sargent replied, “that’s what the church is for.”

READ@ http://thinkprogress.org/special/2011/11/18/372320/new-york-churches-shelter-occupy-protesters-now-monitored-by-new-york-police/

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*The Roots of the UC-Davis Pepper Spraying

By Glenn Greenwald

…(1) Despite all the rights of free speech and assembly flamboyantly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the reality is that punishing the exercise of those rights with police force and state violence has been the reflexive response in America for quite some time. As Franke-Ruta put it, “America has a very long history of protests that meet with excessive or violent response, most vividly recorded in the second half of the 20th century.” Digby yesterday recounted a similar though even worse incident aimed at environmental protesters.

The intent and effect of such abuse is that it renders those guaranteed freedoms meaningless. If a population becomes bullied or intimidated out of exercising rights offered on paper, those rights effectively cease to exist. Every time the citizenry watches peaceful protesters getting pepper-sprayed — or hears that an Occupy protester suffered brain damage and almost died after being shot in the skull with a rubber bullet — many become increasingly fearful of participating in this citizen movement, and also become fearful in general of exercising their rights in a way that is bothersome or threatening to those in power. That’s a natural response, and it’s exactly what the climate of fear imposed by all abusive police state actions is intended to achieve: to coerce citizens to “decide” on their own to be passive and compliant — to refrain from exercising their rights — out of fear of what will happen if they don’t.

The genius of this approach is how insidious its effects are: because the rights continue to be offered on paper, the citizenry continues to believe it is free. They believe that they are free to do everything they choose to do, because they have been “persuaded” — through fear and intimidation — to passively accept the status quo. As Rosa Luxemburg so perfectly put it: “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” Someone who sits at home and never protests or effectively challenges power factions will not realize that their rights of speech and assembly have been effectively eroded because they never seek to exercise those rights; it’s only when we see steadfast, courageous resistance from the likes of these UC-Davis students is this erosion of rights manifest.

Pervasive police abuses and intimidation tactics applied to peaceful protesters — pepper-spray, assault rifles, tasers, tear gas and the rest — not only harm their victims but also the relationship of the citizenry to the government and the set of core political rights. Implanting fear of authorities in the heart of the citizenry is a far more effective means of tyranny than overtly denying rights. That’s exactly what incidents like this are intended to achieve. Overzealous prosecution of those who engage in peaceful political protest (which we’ve seen and more of over the last several years) as well as rampant secrecy and the sprawling Surveillance State are the close cousins of excessive police force in both intent and effect: they are all about deterring meaningful challenges to those in power through the exercise of basic rights. Rights are so much more effectively destroyed by bullying a citizenry out of wanting to exercise them than any other means.

READ@ http://www.salon.com/2011/11/20/the_roots_of_the_uc_davis_pepper_spraying/
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*Militarization of Campus Police

By Bob Ostertag, Huffington Post

…Just six years ago, tuition at the University of California was $5357. Tuition is currently $12,192. According to current proposals, it will be $22,068 by 2015-2016. We have discussed this in my classes, and about one third of my students report that their families would likely have to pull them out of school at the new tuition. It is not a happy moment when the students look around the room and see who it is that will disappear from campus. These are young people who, like college students everywhere and at all times, form some of the deepest friendships they will have in their lives.

This is what motivates students who have never taken part in any sort of social protest to “occupy” the campus quad. And indeed, there were students who were attacked with chemical agents by robocops who were engaging in their first civic protest.

Since the video of the assault has gone viral, I will assume that most of you have seen the shocking footage. Let’s take a look at the equally outrageous explanations and justifications that have come from UC Davis authorities.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi sent a letter to the university last night. Chancellor Katehi tells us that:

The group was informed in writing… that if they did not dismantle the encampment, it would have to be removed…  However a number of protestors refused our warning, offering us no option but to ask the police to assist in their removal.

No other options? The list of options is endless. To begin with, the chancellor could have thanked them for their sense of civic duty. The occupation could have been turned into a teach-in on the role of public education in this country. There could have been a call for professors to hold classes on the quad. The list of “other options” is endless.

Chancellor Katehi asserts that “the encampment raised serious health and safety concerns.” Really? Twenty tents on the quad “raised serious health and safety concerns?” Has the chancellor been to a frat party lately? Or a football game? Talk about “serious health and safety concerns.”

How about this for another option: three years ago there was a very similar occupation of the quad at Columbia University in New York City by students protesting the way the expansion of the university was displacing residents in the neighborhood. There was a core group of twenty or thirty students there around the clock. At the high points there were 200-300. The administration met with the students and held serious discussions about their concerns. And after a couple of weeks the protest had run its course and the students took the tents down. The most severe action that was even contemplated on the part of the university was to expel students who were hunger striking, under a rule that allows the school to expel students who are considered a threat to themselves. But no one was actually expelled.

Remember when universities used to expel students instead of spray them with chemical agents?

READ@ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-ostertag/uc-davis-protest_b_1103039.html?ref=politics

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*Revealed: The Secret $850,000 Plan by Lobbyists to Undermine Occupy Wall Street

By Daily Mail Reporter, Daily Mail

…The secret proposal has been revealed in a memo obtained by the MSNBC program ‘Up with Chris Hayes’.

The proposal was written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford (CLGC) and addressed to one of its clients, the American Bankers Association (ABA), reports MSNBC.

CLGC’s memo proposes that the ABA pay CLGC $850,000 to conduct ‘opposition research’ on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct ‘negative narratives’ about the protests and allied politicians.

The memo also states that Democratic victories in 2012 would be detrimental for Wall Street and names specific races in which it says Wall Street would benefit by electing Republicans instead, the report says.

According to the memo, if Democrats embrace OWS, ‘This would mean more than just short-term political discomfort for Wall Street. ‘It has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye.’

The memo also suggests that Democratic victories in 2012 should not be the ABA’s biggest concern. “… (T)he bigger concern,” the memo says,‘should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies.’

Two of the memo’s authors, partners Sam Geduldig and Jay Cranford, previously worked for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Geduldig joined CLGC before Boehner became speaker;  Cranford joined CLGC this year after serving as the speaker’s assistant for policy.

A third partner, Steve Clark, is reportedly close with Boehner, according to a story by Roll Call that CLGC features on its website. The memo indicates that CLGC would research who has contributed financial backing to OWS, noting that, ‘Media reports have speculated about associations with George Soros and others.’

‘It will be vital,’ the memo says, ‘to understand who is funding it and what their backgrounds and motives are. If we can show that they have the same cynical motivation as a political opponent it will undermine their credibility in a profound way.’

READ@ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2063843/Occupy-Wall-Street-The-secret-850k-plan-lobbyists-undermine-protests.html#ixzz1eGE2CWxi

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*Failure is Good

By Paul Krugman, New York Times

…Why was the supercommittee doomed to fail? Mainly because the gulf between our two major political parties is so wide. Republicans and Democrats don’t just have different priorities; they live in different intellectual and moral universes.

In Democrat-world, up is up and down is down. Raising taxes increases revenue, and cutting spending while the economy is still depressed reduces employment. But in Republican-world, down is up. The way to increase revenue is to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and slashing government spending is a job-creation strategy. Try getting a leading Republican to admit that the Bush tax cuts increased the deficit or that sharp cuts in government spending (except on the military) would hurt the economic recovery.

Moreover, the parties have sharply different views of what constitutes economic justice.

Democrats see social insurance programs, from Social Security to food stamps, as serving the moral imperative of providing basic security to our fellow citizens and helping those in need.

Republicans have a totally different view. They may soft-pedal that view in public — in last year’s elections, they even managed to pose as defenders of Medicare — but, in private, they view the welfare state as immoral, a matter of forcing citizens at gunpoint to hand their money over to other people. By creating Social Security, declared Rick Perry in his book “Fed Up!”, F.D.R. was “violently tossing aside any respect for our founding principles.” Does anyone doubt that he was speaking for many in his party?

So the supercommittee brought together legislators who disagree completely both about how the world works and about the proper role of government. Why did anyone think this would work?

Well, maybe the idea was that the parties would compromise out of fear that there would be a political price for seeming intransigent. But this could only happen if the news media were willing to point out who is really refusing to compromise. And they aren’t. If and when the supercommittee fails, virtually all news reports will be he-said, she-said, quoting Democrats who blame Republicans and vice versa without ever explaining the truth.

Oh, and let me give a special shout-out to “centrist” pundits who won’t admit that President Obama has already given them what they want. The dialogue seems to go like this. Pundit: “Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?” Mr. Obama: “I support a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes.” Pundit: “Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?”

You see, admitting that one side is willing to make concessions, while the other isn’t, would tarnish one’s centrist credentials. And the result is that the G.O.P. pays no price for refusing to give an inch.

So the supercommittee will fail — and that’s good.

For one thing, history tells us that the Republican Party would renege on its side of any deal as soon as it got the chance. Remember, the U.S. fiscal outlook was pretty good in 2000, but, as soon as Republicans gained control of the White House, they squandered the surplus on tax cuts and unfunded wars. So any deal reached now would, in practice, be nothing more than a deal to slash Social Security and Medicare, with no lasting improvement in the deficit.

READ@ http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/18/opinion/krugman-failure-is-good.html?scp=4&sq=super%20committee&st=cse

Nov 182011
 

 

*Former Police Captain and Current OWS Protester Ray Lewis Arrested

By Drew Grant, New York Observer

…From an email we received from OWS, titled “Thousands Occupy Wall Street; All Entry Points to NYSE Blockaded” (Emphasis their’s):

At least 200 people have been arrested so far for peaceful assembly and nonviolent civil disobedience, including retired Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis. “All the cops are just workers for the one percent, and they don’t even realize they’re being exploited,” Mr. Lewis said. “As soon as I’m let out of jail, I’ll be right back here and they’ll have to arrest me again.”

A NYPD spokesperson was unable  to confirm individual arrests, they did comment that “multiple arrests have been made in relation to the protests” and the charges were still pending.

Fox29 in Chicago was able to confirm the arrest, which happened earlier in the morning. A photo emerged on Twitter, via user @AdamGabbatt, showing Mr. Lewis in dress uniform, arguing with an officer.

READ@ http://www.observer.com/2011/11/former-police-captain-and-current-ows-protester-ray-lewis-arrested/

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*Wall St Protesters Clash With Police; 250 Are Arrested

By Cara Buckley, New York Times

…In Lower Manhattan, protesters tossed aside metal barricades to converge again on Zuccotti Park after failing in an attempt to shut down the New York Stock Exchange. In Los Angeles, more than 20 protesters were arrested after ignoring orders to vacate downtown streets. In Denver, 100 protesters marched by government buildings and intersections, bringing traffic to a standstill.

Organized weeks ago, the so-called day of action came two days after the police cleared the Occupy Wall Street encampment from Zuccotti Park in Manhattan in an early morning raid. Ousted from the park that had become their de facto headquarters, protesters looked to Thursday to gauge the support and mettle that the movement had retained.

“We failed to close the stock exchange, but we took back our park,” said Adam Farooqui, 25, of Queens. “That was a real victory.”

Throughout Manhattan on Thursday, about 250 people had been arrested by the evening, many after rough confrontations with the police. The police said that 5 protesters were charged with felony assault, and that 7 officers and 10 protesters were injured.

In more than a dozen cities, the demonstrations included marches across bridges, which protesters said were emblematic of a deteriorating public infrastructure. The largest of these marches was to take place across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Shortly before 6 p.m., about 80 protesters, including a New York City councilman, Jumaane D. Williams, were arrested for blocking a roadway that leads to the Manhattan side of the bridge. Protesters, many carrying candles, later filed across the bridge’s pedestrian walkway and crossed the East River.

READ@ http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/18/nyregion/protesters-clash-with-police-in-lower-manhattan.html?_r=1&hpw

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*OWS-Inspired Activism

By Glenn Greenwald

…The reason the U.S. has para-militarized its police forces is precisely to control this type of domestic unrest, and it’s simply impossible to imagine its not being deployed in full against a growing protest movement aimed at grossly and corruptly unequal resource distribution. As Madeleine Albright said when arguing for U.S. military intervention in the Balkans: “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” That’s obviously how governors, big-city Mayors and Police Chiefs feel about the stockpiles of assault rifles, SWAT gear, hi-tech helicopters, and the coming-soon drone technology lavished on them in the wake of the post/9-11 Security State explosion, to say nothing of the enormous federal law enforcement apparatus that, more than anything else, resembles a standing army which is increasingly directed inward.

Most of this militarization has been justified by invoking Scary Foreign Threats — primarily the Terrorist — but its prime purpose is domestic. As civil libertarians endlessly point out, the primary reason to oppose new expansions of government power is because it always — always — vastly expands beyond its original realm. I remember quite vividly the war-zone-like police force deployed against protesters at the 2008 GOP Convention in Minneapolis, as well as the invocation of Terrorism statutes to arrest and punish them, with the active involvement of federal law enforcement. Along those lines, Alternet‘s Lynn Parramore asks all the key questions about the obviously coordinated law enforcement assault on peaceful protesters over the last week.

But the same factors that rendered this police crackdown inevitable will also ensure that this protest movement endures: the roots of the anger are real, profound and impassioned. Just as American bombs ostensibly aimed at reducing Terrorism have the exact opposite effect — by fueling the anti-American sentiments that cause Terrorism in the first place — so, too, will excessive police force further fuel the Occupy movement. Nothing highlights the validity of the movement’s core grievances more than watching a piggish billionaire Wall Street Mayor — who bought and clung to his political power using his personal fortune — deploy force against marginalized citizens peacefully and lawfully protesting joblessness, foreclosures and economic suffering. If Michael Bloomberg didn’t exist, the Occupy protesters would have to invent him.

READ@ http://www.salon.com/2011/11/17/ows_inspired_activism/singleton/

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*Idaho Man Charged With Trying to Assassinate Obama

By Jessie L. Bonner and Jessica Gresko, Associated Press

…In Idaho Falls, where Ortega is from, a computer consultant told The Associated Press that the two met July 8 after Ortega asked for help editing a 30-minute infomercial. Monte McCall said that during the meeting at Ortega’s family’s Mexican restaurant, Ortega pulled out worn sheets of yellow paper with handwritten notes and started to talk about his predictions that the world would end in 2012.

“He said, `Well, you know the president is getting ready to make an announcement that they’re going to put GPS chips in all the children, so they’re safe,’” McCall said. “… And then he said, `That’s just what the Antichrist is going to do to mark everybody.’”

Kimberly Allen, the mother of Ortega’s former fiancee, said he had been well-mannered and kind in the four years she had known him. But he recently began making statements to her daughter that were out of character, including that he believed he was Jesus. Allen said the family was worried when he went to Utah recently, where he said he had business, and didn’t come back. Ortega’s family reported him missing Oct. 31.

Allen said they were flabbergasted to hear he was wanted in Washington.

“I believe that the boy needs help,” said Allen, of Shelley, Idaho.

Her daughter, Jessica Galbraith, was engaged to Ortega and is the mother of their 2-year-old son. She declined to comment Thursday except to say: “I love him, and I’m here for him.”

It was unclear why or when they split.

Reached by the AP on Thursday, Ortega’s mother said she didn’t have anything to say. She earlier told the Post Register in Idaho Falls her son has no history of mental illness.

“He has different ideas than other people, just like everyone, but he was perfectly fine the last time I saw him,” Maria Hernandez told the newspaper. “He might be saying weird stuff that sounds crazy, but that doesn’t mean (he) is crazy. He might be confused and scared.”

At his first appearance in court in Pennsylvania, Ortega sat quietly, his hands free but his feet shackled. He said only, “Yes, ma’am” when he was asked if he understood that he would be going back to Washington to face the charge.

According to a court document released after the hearing, authorities recovered nine spent shell casings from Ortega’s car, which was found abandoned near the White House shortly after the shooting. An assault rifle with a scope was found inside.

A person who knows him subsequently told investigators that he had become increasingly agitated with the federal government and was convinced it was conspiring against him, the document said. Others told investigators that Ortega had reportedly said Obama was the Antichrist and the “devil.” Ortega also apparently said he “needed to kill” the president.

Authorities said Ortega was clad in black when he pulled his car within view of the White House on Friday night, fired shots and then sped away. The White House has not said whether the Obamas’ daughters, Sasha and Malia, were there at the time or commented on the shooting.

Ortega was questioned by police on Friday morning, before the shootings, just across the Potomac River from Washington in Arlington, Va. Police said they stopped him after a report of suspicious behavior, but let him go after photographing him because they had no reason to make an arrest.

READ@ http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_SHOTS_FIRED_WHITE_HOUSE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

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*One Person’s View From His 1% Perch

By AZ Desert Rat, Daily Kos

SYMPTOMS:

1. Loss of income mobility (the Income gap per se is not the problem – the social contact works, and its ok to be rich, as long as everyone else has had a fair chance as well) – trickle down is not working in America – giving money to “job creators” has only created low paying service jobs in America, real jobs abroad and more money in top management’s pocket. Only 6% of those born into poverty reach the top level of earners compared to 39% of the children born to that level.    Said differently, if you are born rich you have seven times the chance of attaining that level yourself compared to someone born poor.  That is not the meritocracy this country is supposed to be.

2.  A separate issue is the attack by Republicans against the progressive income tax and inheritance tax , – In addition to raising revenues, they were imposed for the specific purpose of lessening the impact of raw capitalism by keeping the very highest earners from becoming effectively a ruling class.  Guess they want those royal purple robes.

3. Poor education – our education system rates just above Kenya’s on one scale, and generally mediocre compared to most advanced countries.  I’m not kidding.  This isn’t a racist point, with me having a fair amount of African blood in me.  But Kenya? Really? Poor education = poor job prospects = limited upward mobility.  My inner city education in the 1970’s was superior to public suburban schools today. WTF?

4. Poor health – The US is the only advanced country without a comprehensive public health system. Our mixed public/private system is twice as expensive as the next most costly country.  Our life expectancy is only 36th in the world.  Enuf said.

5. Economic stagnation, high deficits, high unemployment, high debt –the hard truth that everyone is in denial about is that economic growth in this country over the past 30 years has been more mirage than reality for all but the economic elite.

Inflation-adjusted income for the lower 95% of earners has shown almost no growth in 30 years.  No economic growth = no income growth = limited upward mobility.  While incomes were flat, consumption increases could only come from increased consumer debt – which, of course is exactly what happened.  And, not surprisingly, consumer demand fell off a cliff when the reality of the debt load hit home.  Demand will stay suppressed as consumers pay down their debt loads.  Debt driven demand is also the cause of large boom and bust cycles – cycles that have put homeowners under water on their mortgage and workers unable to retire on their 401k.

6. Wars of aggression under the oxymoronic term “preemptive war ”. How can you stop war by starting a war?  Yes, we were attacked and were justified and tracking down and killing (what everyone really means when they say “bring to justice”, lets be honest with ourselves) those responsible.  That half-justifies one of the wars (we could have stuck with a war-by-proxy) but the second was pure folly at best, at worst an extreme example of everything that is wrong with today’s society.

SOLUTIONS

If our problem is the search for short-term gratification and willingness to be led around by others promising such, then the solution is to take charge of our lives, and plan from here to death and beyond accordingly.  As a country we can debate the size and role of government in those plans, but we will surely continue to fall short of our expectations if we continue to make decisions based on what we get out of it now.

Given we are in a hole that took 3 decades to dig, it is unrealistic to assume that the problems we face can be solved in less than a generation.  Yes, as a country we’ve lost a generation to progress we could have otherwise have had.  Accept it and start planning based on the reality of our current situation.  To wit:

1. We really do have too much debt, although we’re in pretty good shape compared to the rest of the world.  Reducing that debt to manageable levels is important so that we have government funds available for health, education and infrastructure.  Fortunately, we can solve much of our debt problem by getting back on a normal growth curve for the country without devastating our social safety nets.

2. Drive the major party behavior with coalitions with right leaning groups around common issues.  If we on the left were to just stop and take a breath, we’d realize that some of the most strident voices on the right are saying very similar things to #OWS.  Opposition to wall street and big Pharma might be just the ticket to open eyes to other progressive issues.  We need to reach out and make new friends.

3. We must fix education or all other efforts will fail.  To succeed we’re probably going to need to kill sacred cows on both the right and the left.  Teachers need to be trained more, paid more and fired more, and in that order.  Parents need to be involved more.  The community needs to be involved.  If we on the left were to offer up our sacred cows on education, I really think there’s a deal here.

4. Start an aggressive campaign to break up the real Axis of Evil consisting of Big Pharma, Big Defense and Big Banks.  We need as aggressive a trust busting approach as was taken early in the 20th century to break up these bastions of a failed status quo.  All three of these industries extract multi hundred-billion dollar monopoly rents while driving political decisions that fly in the face of consumer (voter) interests:

• Big Military is the worst of a bad bunch.  Our non-war defense spending has doubled since 9/11, so that now the US represents over half the world’s military spending and six times the spending of the next largest country.  We could cut this 33% and still be the preeminent world military power.

• Big Pharma bankrupts us with its prices, kills us with its side effects and stifles us by limiting competition from alternative solutions.

• Big banks have been, well, big banks.  We really don’t need them in their current structure and are foolish if we don’t force restructuring to reduce the systemic risk large diversified banks pose to the whole financial system.

READ@ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/11/17/1037345/-One-Person%E2%80%99s-View-From-His-1-Perch?via=spotlight

Nov 172011
 

 

* Occupiers Occupied: The Hijacking of the First Amendment

by Robert Reich, Huffington Post

…First things first. The Supreme Court’s rulings that money is speech and corporations are people have now opened the floodgates to unlimited (and often secret) political contributions from millionaires and billionaires. Consider the Koch brothers (worth $25 billion each), who are bankrolling the Tea Party and already running millions of dollars worth of ads against Democrats.

Such millionaires and billionaires aren’t contributing their money out of sheer love of country. They have a more self-interested motive. Their political spending is analogous to their other investments. Mostly they want low tax rates and friendly regulations.

Wall Street is punishing Democrats for enacting the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation (weak as it is) by shifting its money to Republicans. The Koch brothers’ petrochemical empire has financed, among many other things, candidates who will vote against environmental protection.

This tsunami of big money into politics is the real public nuisance. It’s making it almost impossible for the voices of average Americans to be heard because most of us don’t have the dough to break through. By granting First Amendment rights to money and corporations, the First Amendment rights of the rest of us are being trampled on.

This is where the Occupiers come in. If there’s a core message to the Occupier movement it’s that the increasing concentration of income and wealth poses a grave danger to our democracy.

READ@ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-reich/supreme-court-occupy-wall-street_b_1097489.html
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* What Do Democracy, Civil Disobedience and Police Brutality Look Like? A Photo Essay.

by jpmassar on DailyKos

…See if you can determine, from each set, which picture falls into which category.

READ and Photo Essay @ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/11/16/1037156/-What-Do-Democracy,-Civil-Disobedience-and-Police-Brutality-Look-Like-A-Photo-Essay
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* Robert Reichest: “The days of apathy are over”

by Peter Finocchiaro

… I urge you to to be patient with yourselves, because — with regard to every major social movement of the last half-century or more — it started with a sense of moral outrage. Things were wrong. And the actual coalescence of that moral outrage into specific demands, or specific changes, came later. The moral outrage was the beginning. The days of apathy are over, folks! Once this has begun, it cannot be stopped, and will not be stopped.

READ@ http://www.salon.com/2011/11/16/robert_reich_the_days_of_apathy_are_over/singleton/
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* Judge Temporarily Bars Eviction of Boston Protesters

by Jess Bidgood, New York Times

… Judge Frances A. McIntyre, citing the protesters’ right to free speech in her decision, said the city would need a court order in order to evict protesters, unless there are emergent circumstances like a fire, medical emergency or outbreak of violence.

“What the plaintiffs can point to is that abridgment of First Amendment rights is irreparable harm,” Judge McIntyre said.

While police officers have raided protest sites in cities like New York, Oakland, Calif., and Portland, Ore., law enforcement in Boston has been relatively tolerant of the original encampment, although an attempt last month to expand the camp there was met with more than 140 arrests. City officials say that, although they are monitoring the demonstration daily, they have no plans to move in on the camp in Dewey Square, which is a public park.

But after hearing of the New York Police Department’s raid on Occupy Wall Street on Tuesday morning, Howard Cooper, a lawyer working in cooperation with local chapters of the National Lawyers Guild and the American Civil Liberties Union, filed for a temporary restraining order and a more permanent injunction that could prevent a similar surprise raid.

“Looking around and seeing what’s going on around the country, we just worry that something might happen here in Boston,” Urszula Masny-Latos, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, said on Tuesday.

A lawyer for the city, William F. Sinnott, argued that it needed to be able to evict protesters without warning because officials did not want to give protesters a chance to mobilize.

READ@ http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/17/us/Tents-Go-Up-at-Berkeley-Amid-Arrests-Across-Bay.html?_r=1&hpw
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* Exclusive Video: Inside Police Lines at the Occupy Wall Street Eviction

by Josh Harkinson, Mother Jones

… A few yards away, the last occupiers took turns waving a large American flag. Huddled inside the park’s makeshift kitchen, they seemed as diverse as Occupy Wall Street: There was a shaggy punk in a spiky leather jacket. A young girl in a red sweatshirt that read “Unity.” Clean-shaven guys wearing glasses. A shirtless occupier named Ted Hall, who has led an effort to hone the movement’s “visions and goals.” All of them surrounded a smaller group of occupiers who’d chained their necks to a pole.

A white-shirted officer moved in with a bullhorn. “If you don’t leave the park you are subject to arrest. Now is your opportunity to leave the park.”

Nobody budged. As a lone drum pounded, I climbed up on the wall to get a better view.

“Can I help you?” an burly officer asked me, his helpfulness belied by his scowl.

“I’m a reporter,” I told him.

“This is a frozen zone, all right?” he said, using a term I’d never heard before. “Just like them, you have to leave the area. If you do not, you will be subject to arrest.”

By then, riot police were moving in, indiscriminately dousing the peaceful protesters with what looked like pepper spray or some sort of gas. As people yelled and screamed and cried, I tried to stay calm.

“I promise to leave once the arrests are done,” I replied.

“No, you are going to leave now.”

He grabbed my arm and began dragging me off. My shoes skidded across the park’s slimy granite floor. All around me, zip-cuffed occupiers writhed on the ground beneath a fog of chemicals.

“I just want to witness what is going on here,” I yelped.

“You can witness it with the rest of the press,” he said. Which, of course, meant not witnessing it.

“Why are you excluding the press from observing this?” I asked.

“Because this is a frozen zone. It’s a police action going on. You could be injured.”

His meaning was clear. I let myself be hustled across the street to the press pen.

“What’s your name?”

His reply came as fast as he could turn away: “Watch your back.

READ @ http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/11/occupy-wall-street-police-raid-eviction
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* Surprise, Homeland Security Coordinates #OWS Crackdowns

by Wonkette Jr., Wonkette

… Rick Ellis of the Minneapolis edition of Examiner.com has this, based on a “background conversation” he had with a Justice Department official on Monday night:

Over the past ten days, more than a dozen cities have moved to evict “Occupy” protesters from city parks and other public spaces. As was the case in last night’s move in New York City, each of the police actions shares a number of characteristics. And according to one Justice official, each of those actions was coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies.

[...]

According to this official, in several recent conference calls and briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew rules. Agencies were also advised to demonstrate a massive show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear. In particular, the FBI reportedly advised on press relations, with one presentation suggesting that any moves to evict protesters be coordinated for a time when the press was the least likely to be present.

Well gosh, that’s exactly what happened. Good to know the FBI and DHS are “always there to help a brother out.” (This is their motto, in Latin.)

(And for those who are understandably doubtful about Examiner.com as a news source, here’s an AP story from a couple hours ago that verifies everything except the specific mention of DHS coordination.)

Meanwhile, according to the steady stream of insanity on the Twitter, the Seattle riot cops just “maced a pregnant woman, a kid, a priest, and a blind woman w/ a fucking cane!” We know a version of this with a rabbi and Batman and Jesus and a grasshopper ordering a Grasshopper at a bar, we think? But nothing about riot cops spraying a pregnant woman with mace.

READ @ http://wonkette.com/456282/surprise-homeland-security-coordinates-ows-crackdowns-nationwide