* MY OCCUPY L.A. ARREST
By Patrick Meighan
My name is Patrick Meighan. I’m a husband, a father, a writer on the Fox animated sitcom “Family Guy” and a member of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica.
I was arrested at about 1 a.m. Wednesday morning with 291 other people at Occupy LA. I was sitting in City Hall Park with a pillow, a blanket, and a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Being Peace” when 1,400 heavily-armed LAPD officers in paramilitary SWAT gear streamed in. I was in a group of about 50 peaceful protestors who sat Indian-style, arms interlocked, around a tent (the symbolic image of the Occupy movement). The LAPD officers encircled us, weapons drawn, while we chanted “We Are Peaceful” and “We Are Nonviolent” and “Join Us.”
As we sat there, encircled, a separate team of LAPD officers used knives to slice open every personal tent in the park. They forcibly removed anyone sleeping inside, and then yanked out and destroyed any personal property inside those tents, scattering the contents across the park. They then did the same with the communal property of the Occupy LA movement. For example, I watched as the LAPD destroyed a pop-up canopy tent that, until that moment, had been serving as Occupy LA’s First Aid and Wellness tent, in which volunteer health professionals gave free medical care to absolutely anyone who requested it. As it happens, my family had personally contributed that exact canopy tent to Occupy LA, at a cost of several hundred of my family’s dollars. As I watched, the LAPD sliced that canopy tent to shreds, broke the telescoping poles into pieces and scattered the detritus across the park. Note that these were the objects described in subsequent mainstream press reports as “30 tons of garbage” that was “abandoned” by Occupy LA: personal property forcibly stolen from us, destroyed in front of our eyes and then left for maintenance workers to dispose of while we were sent to prison.
When the LAPD finally began arresting those of us interlocked around the symbolic tent, we were all ordered by the LAPD to unlink from each other (in order to facilitate the arrests). Each seated, nonviolent protester beside me who refused to cooperate by unlinking his arms had the following done to him: an LAPD officer would forcibly extend the protestor’s legs, grab his left foot, twist it all the way around and then stomp his boot on the insole, pinning the protestor’s left foot to the pavement, twisted backwards. Then the LAPD officer would grab the protestor’s right foot and twist it all the way the other direction until the non-violent protestor, in incredible agony, would shriek in pain and unlink from his neighbor. […]
* INDEFINITE DETENTION OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: COMING SOON TO BATTLEFIELD U.S.A.
By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
[…] This effort to eat away at the rights of the accused was originally gradual, but to me it looks like that process is accelerating. It began in the Bush years with a nebulous description of terrorist sedition that may or may not have included links to Sunni extremist groups in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But words like “associated” and “substantial” and “betray” have crept into the discussion, and now it feels like the definition of a terrorist is anyone who crosses some sort of steadily-advancing invisible line in their opposition to the current government.
This confusion about the definition of terrorism comes at a time when the economy is terrible, the domestic government is more unpopular than ever, and there is quite a lot of radical and even revolutionary political agitation going on right here at home. There are people out there – I’ve met some of them, in both the Occupy and Tea Party movements – who think that the entire American political system needs to be overthrown, or at least reconfigured, in order for progress to be made.
It sounds paranoid and nuts to think that those people might be arrested and whisked away to indefinite, lawyerless detention by the military, but remember: This isn’t about what’s logical, it’s about what’s going on in the brains of people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain.
At what point do those luminaries start equating al-Qaeda supporters with, say, radical anti-capitalists in the Occupy movement? What exactly is the difference between such groups in the minds (excuse me, in what passes for the minds) of the people who run this country?
That difference seems to be getting smaller and smaller all the time, and such niceties as American citizenship and the legal tradition of due process seem to be less and less meaningful to the people who run things in America.
What does seem real to them is this “battlefield earth” vision of the world, in which they are behind one set of lines and an increasingly enormous group of other people is on the other side.
Here’s another way to ask the question: On which side of the societal fence do you think the McCains and Grahams would put, say, an unemployed American plumber who refused an eviction order from Bank of America and holed up with his family in his Florida house, refusing to move? Would Graham/McCain consider that person to have the same rights as Lloyd Blankfein, or is that plumber closer, in their eyes, to being like the young Muslim who throws a rock at a U.S. embassy in Yemen?
A few years ago, that would have sounded like a hysterical question. But it just doesn’t seem that crazy anymore. We’re turning into a kind of sci-fi society in which making it and being a success not only means getting rich, but also means winning the full rights of citizenship. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see this ending well.
* ANOTHER FRONT PAGE WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL AGAINST THE WELFARE STATE
By Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research
|The boys and girls at Fox on 15th Street are really getting excited over their hopes that the European welfare state might be dismantled. The third of paragraph of the lead front page articletold readers:”If adopted by other nations in the union, the deal would mean drastic cuts in European budgets. It would also spell the end of three decades of overspending that helped finance a cozy social protection system envied by much of the world.”Of course the most generous welfare states who have the most “cozy” social protection systems are not facing fiscal crises. These are countries like Sweden and Denmark and even Germany, all of whom have relatively solid finances. Paul Krugman put up a nice graph on his blog yesterday showing the non-relationship between the share of government spending in GDP and the current interest rates paid by government.
Also, as people familiar with current events know, this crisis did not stem from “three decades of overspending,” it came about because of a collapse of housing bubbles in the United States and across Europe. This is the opposite of a problem of an excessive welfare state. It was a problem of a private financial sector gone wild making the reckless loans that fueled the bubble. Apparently the Post has not heard about this.
* HILLARY CLINTON AND INTERNET FREEDOM
By Glenn Greenwald, Salon
Hypocrisy from the U.S. Government — having U.S. officials self-righteously impose standards on other countries which they routinely violate — is so common and continuous that the vast majority of examples do not even merit notice. But sometimes, it is so egregious and shameless — and sufficiently consequential — that it should not go unobserved. Such is the case with the speech delivered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday at a Conference on Internet Freedom held at the Hague, a conference devoted to making “a stand for freedom of expression on the internet, especially on behalf of cyber dissidents and bloggers.” Clinton has been flamboyantly parading around for awhile now as the planet’s leading protector of Internet freedom; yesterday she condemned multiple countries for assaulting this freedom and along the way actually managed to keep a straight face as she said things like this:
[T]he right to express one’s views, practice one’s faith, peacefully assemble with others to pursue political or social change – these are all rights to which all human beings are entitled, whether they choose to exercise them in a city square or an internet chat room. . . . This is an urgent task. It is most urgent, of course, for those around the world whose words are now censored, who are imprisoned because of what they or others have written online, who are blocked from accessing entire categories of internet content, or who are being tracked by governments seeking to keep them from connecting with one another. . . .
[T]he more people that are online and contributing ideas, the more valuable the entire network becomes to all the other users. In this way, all users, through the billions of individual choices we make about what information to seek or share, fuel innovation, enliven public debates, quench a thirst for knowledge, and connect people in ways that distance and cost made impossible just a generation ago.
But when ideas are blocked, information deleted, conversations stifled, and people constrained in their choices, the internet is diminished for all of us. What we do today to preserve fundamental freedoms online will have a profound effect on the next generation of users. .
The United States wants the internet to remain a space where economic, political, and social exchanges flourish. To do that, we need to protect people who exercise their rights online, and we also need to protect the internet itself from plans that would undermine its fundamental characteristics.
She astutely observed that “those who push these plans often do so in the name of security.” She added that “the first challenge is for the private sector to embrace its role in protecting internet freedom,” which — she lamented — has not always happened: “A few years ago, the headlines were about companies turning over sensitive information about political dissidents. Earlier this year, they were about a company shutting down the social networking accounts of activists in the midst of a political debate.” She concluded with a real flourish: “Our government will continue to work very hard to get around every barrier that repressive governments put up” even though such governments will try to maintain those barriers “by resorting to greater oppression.”
What Hillary Clinton is condemning here is exactly that which not only the administration in which she serves, but also she herself, has done in one of the most important Internet freedom cases of the last decade: WikiLeaks. And beyond that case, both Clinton specifically and the Obama administration generally have waged a multi-front war on Internet freedom. […]
* HEALTH REFORM DEVOLVED INTO ‘UNAFFORDABLE UNDER-INSURANCE’
By Roger Bybee, In These Times
Healthcare reform in the shape of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) was supposed to relieve working Americans of the burdens of rising healthcare costs as they struggle to survive the jobless recovery.
Instead, working Americans are being confronted with the emergence of a new stage in America’s downward slide on healthcare. “‘Unaffordable under-insurance’ is rapidly becoming the new standard in the United States,” Dr. Don McCanne, senior health policy fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), told In These Times.
One of the most telling symptoms of the “new normal”: Visits to physicians’ office have dropped a stunning 17 percent from the second quarter of 2009 to the second quarter of 2011, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report.
This drop illustrates how the ever-growing burden of healthcare costs—in the form of out-of-pocket deductibles and co-pays—is making Americans reluctant to seek care despite having the supposed protection of health insurance. […]
* KOCH BROTHERS, ALEC AND THE SAVAGE ASSAULT ON DEMOCRACY
By John Nichols, The Nation
Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch finally got their way in 2011. After decades of funding the American Legislative Exchange Council, the collaboration between multinational corporations and conservative state legislators, the project began finally to yield the intended result.
For the first time in decades, the United States saw a steady dismantling of the laws, regulations, programs and practices put in place to make real the promise of American democracy.
That is why, on Saturday, civil rights groups and their allies will rally outside the New York headquarters of the Koch brothers to begin a march for the renewal of voting rights in America.
For the Koch brothers and their kind, less democracy is better. They fund campaigns, with millions of dollars in checks that have helped elect the likes of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich. And ALEC has made it clear, through its ambitious “Public Safety and Elections Task Force,” that while it wants to dismantle any barriers corporate cash and billionaire bucks influencing elections, it wants very much to erect barriers to the primary tool that Americans who are not CEOs have to influence the politics and the government of the nation: voting.
That crude calculus, usually cloaked in bureaucracy and back-room dealmaking, came into full view in 2011.
Across the country, and to a greater extent than at any time since the last days of southern resistance to desegregation, voting rights were being systematically diminished rather than expanded.
ALEC has been organizing and promoting the assault, encouraging its legislative minions to enact rigid Voter ID laws and related attacks on voting rights in more than three dozen in states.
With their requirements that the millions of Americans who lack drivers licenses and other forms of official paperwork go out and purchase identification cards in order to cast ballots, the Voter ID push put in place new variations on an old evil: the poll tax.
“We are in the midst of the greatest coordinated legislative attack on voting rights since the dawn of Jim Crow,” says NAACP President Benjamin Jealous. “Voter ID laws are nothing but reincarnated poll taxes and literacy tests, and ex-felon voting bans serve the same purpose today as when they were created in the wake of the Fifteenth Amendment guaranteeing ex-slaves the vote—suppressing voting numbers among people of color.” […]
* EUROPE DIVIDES, ELITE REELS?
By Staff Reporter, The Daily Bell
In Europe’s great divorce … We journalists are probably too bleary-eyed after a sleepless night to understand the full significance of what has just happened in Brussels. What is clear is that after a long, hard and rancorous negotiation, at about 5 am this morning the European Union split in a fundamental way. In an effort to stabilise the euro zone, France, Germany and 21 other countries have decided to draft their own treaty to impose more central control over national budgets. Britain and three others have decided to stay out. In the coming weeks, Britain may find itself even more isolated. Sweden, the Czech Republic and Hungary want time to consult their parliaments and political parties before deciding on whether to join the new union- within-the-union. – The Economist
Dominant Social Theme: It’s terrible, this split, but maybe it will get better. Or maybe it is for the best.
Free-Market Analysis: Here is a strong statement: The further fracturing of the EU is a setback for what we call the Anglosphere power elite, those powerful families that control central banking around the world and are trying as hard as they can to create global government.
Here’s another statement: This setback is part of a string of setbacks. The Anglosphere, as we have long predicted, is not having a great time of it in the 21st century. We have never predicted its demise, but have long suggested that “it” – those involved, in aggregate – shall eventually take a step back. Their earth-spanning plans may have to be moderated at least for a little while.
We look to the elite British media for confirmation of our perspective. On this day, its editorial mavens seem confused as to how to best present the current Eurozone breakup (see other article this issue). Is this evidence that our hypothesis is correct?
Let us pause for just a minute (or at least a paragraph) to examine how elite dominant social themes are doing in this era of the Internet. Then, in the rest of this article, we will try to put the Eurozone split (if that is what it is) in context. It is perhaps a momentous thing …
Start at the beginning. We have presented the point of view (almost every day) that this Internet era – the “Internet Reformation” – is changing the fabric of elite control of the Western world and is making it at least a bit harder for the Anglosphere power elite to achieve its goal of world government.
This is not always a popular view! People who understand what is going on in the world (including some who visit here) often take a skeptical view of the idea that the Internet is having a strong impact on power elite globalism. But take a step back for a moment …
Global warming – climate change – whatever you want to call it was supposed to be the fundamental building block of a new world order. Instead, thanks mainly to the Internet, it is in shambles and may not ever be entirely resurrected.
The meme of government itself as the expert mechanism that is supposed to rescue people from the elites’ phony fear-based promotions is itself held in increasing disrepute. In America, recently, Congressional approval sank to the single digits. And thanks to the Internet, everything from Barack Obama‘s background to his father’s identity and his relationship to the CIA has come into question.
Obama’s ability to portray himself as the second coming of FDR has surely been damaged by the Internet and the astonishing vitriol that has poured out about him. Presidents Clinton and Bush came in for similar attacks but the attacks on Obama seem to have been even more powerful. People in America (and Europe) are simply sick of business as usual.
The centralizing wars of NATO and the Anglosphere are not going especially well either in Afghanistan, Pakistan or even desolate spots like Somalia. Central banking itself has come under attack as it has not for about 75 years. Overpopulation, peak oil and other scarcity memes seem to us to be a good deal less persuasive at the moment than they once were.
The United Nations is not a popular entity with many in America and perhaps in Europe, too. The International Monetary Fund is disliked throughout the world and the World Bank seems to operate behind the scenes and is not much of a factor in the popular imagination.
And now the EU is stumbling as well. Dress it up any way you want, it is still Not a Good Thing for those who seek one-world government. The Economist, a promotional entity of the Anglosphere elite, is already positioning the “fault lines” between Europe and Britain as a negative for the Albion Isles. This tells us much of what we need to know. Here’s some more from the Economist article excerpted above:
So two decades to the day after the Maastricht Treaty was concluded, launching the process towards the single European currency, the EU’s tectonic plates have slipped momentously along same the fault line that has always divided it—the English Channel. Confronted by the financial crisis, the euro zone is having to integrate more deeply, with a consequent loss of national sovereignty to the EU (or some other central co-ordinating body); Britain, which had secured a formal opt-out from the euro, has decided to let them go their way.
Whether the agreement does anything to stabilise the euro is moot. The agreement is heavily tilted towards budget discipline and austerity. It does little to generate money in the short term to arrest the run on sovereigns, nor does it provide a longer-term perspective of jointly-issued bonds. Much will depend on how the European Central Bank responds in the coming days and weeks. Some doubt remains over whether and how the “euro-plus” zone will have access to EU institutions—such as the European Commission, which conducts economic assessments and recommends action, and the European Court of Justice, which Germany hopes will ensure countries adopt proper balanced-budget rules—over Britain’s objections.
But especially for France, on the brink of losing its AAA credit rating and now the junior partner to Germany, this is a famous political victory. President Nicolas Sarkozy had long favoured the creation of a smaller, “core” euro zone, without the awkward British, Scandinavians and eastern Europeans that generally pursue more liberal, market-oriented policies. And he has wanted the core run on an inter-governmental basis, ie by leaders rather than by supranational European institutions. This would allow France, and Mr Sarkozy in particular, to maximise its impact.
Mr Sarkozy made substantial progress on both fronts. The president tried not to gloat when he emerged at 5am to explain that an agreement endorsed by all 27 members of the EU had proved impossible because of British obstruction. “You cannot have an opt-out and then ask to participate in all the discussion about the euro that you did not want to have, and which you also criticised,” declared the French president.
It is clear where the Economist stands, or at least this editorialist. The EU experiment may have received a setback, but Britain has the proverbial bad end of the stick. Sarkozy is so giddy he’s almost giggling. Score one (again) for the French.
Mr. Cameron, meanwhile, stated he was “relaxed” about staying out of the euro and out of the passport-free Schengen Area. At the same time he apparently claimed that the EU single market “will continue as normal.”
The Economist wants us to consider a graver potential. The 23 members of the “new pact” will gang up to disadvantage Britain over time, we are warned. Regulations and other kinds of business deals will go against Britain. Britain’s refusal to OK what happened in Brussels looks like a way of avoiding further centralization but eventually, British citizens will WANT to be part of that centralization.
Is this not a form of spin? What REALLY just happened? A confluence of events, including most importantly the building resentment in Britain against the EU, forced David Cameron‘s hand. He couldn’t return to Britain with an acquiescence and so he did not.
There are many other ways of looking at what just happened and the elitist lapdogs of the British press will doubtless examine all of them in the coming days. The Internet alternative media as well shall examine the ins and outs of what just occurred. The conclusion may be that the powers-that-be WANT the EU to split up. They want the chaos because the worse things are the more order, eventually, can be imposed.
But we don’t quite buy that. We agree that it may be a “fallback” but is not the PRIMARY position. The Anglosphere power elite invested half a century in building up the EU, and if they could have managed it we think Britain would even now reside in the middle of it alongside of Germany and France.
Sometimes a rose is a rose and a separation is a separation. These “unions” are not necessarily healthy. The North American Union, for instance, has yet to get off the ground and now the EU is slipping backwards rather than forward. We think we recognize a setback when we see it.
The repositioning of the Financial Times and the Economist has already begun. That they are in proverbial damage control mode only makes us more certain that this is not a welcome event for a power elite that wishes to move quickly and efficiently from an all inclusive regionality to global governance as fast as possible.
Conclusion: It cannot be a happy day for the City of London. What will the Queen say?