* OCCUPY LIVESTREAM OPERATORS WILL BE HOMELESS AFTER THEY GET OUT OF JAIL
By Adam Martin, The Atlantic Wire
Thursday update: A little after 10 p.m. on Wednesday, the six volunteers with the Occupy Wall Street live stream aggregator Globalrevolution.tv got out of jail in Brooklyn after they were arrested Tuesday for defying a city notice to vacate their building. A video of them immediately after their release showed them in good spirits, smoking cigarettes and eating cookies after about 30 or so hours in jail. After a lengthy tirade about corruption in law enforcement and a racially imbalanced jail population, Vlad Teichberg, one of the project’s key organizers, said, “it’s really good to be out.”
Original: Some of the six people arrested on Tuesday for violating a New York City order to vacate a building where the Global Revolution live stream is produced actually live there and won’t be able to return once they’re released from jail, which is expected sometime Wednesday afternoon.* One of the live stream’s key organizers, Vlad Teichberg, is a resident of 13 Thames St., the Bushwick, Brooklyn space that had recently served as the headquarters of Occupy Wall Street live feed aggregator Globalrevolution.tv. He and five other residents-cum-volunteers are still in police custody after they were hauled in for trespassing, obstructing governmental administration, and resisting arrest, Global Revolution organizer Nigel Parry told The Atlantic Wire on Wednesday.
The space at 13 Thames St., in Brooklyn is “kind of like a punk house, art space type thing,” Parry said. “Global Rev. has only just been moved there. But everyone who was arrested there has been there for quite a while … Vlad and some others had been living there for a year or two.” Tuesday’s raid wasn’t the first time the cops have visited the space. In April, 2010, police stopped by, reportedly entering without a warrant, as people at 13 Thames made plans for an anarchist film festival. The cops “accused the occupants of being illegal squatters and demanded identification.” Two who were at the space and showed their identifications turned out to have warrants and were arrested, The New York Times reported. In a November 2011 feature, the Greenpoint Gazette reported on the 40 or so creative types who work out of the space, recording albums, doing art, and practicing music. On Wednesday, Parry cited a rumor that the notice to vacate with which police served the space on Tuesday came from a year-old sprinkler violation. We’ve reached out to the New York Buildings Department to get the exact nature of the violation and will update this post when we hear back from them.
Meanwhile, Global Revolution and others on Twitter are taking issue with the charges reportedly filed against the six Global Revolution organizers that they resisted arrest. Global Revolution posted this video Tuesday night of the arrests going down. It does look fairly peaceful, for the most part: […]
UPDATE: OUT OF JAIL (VIDEO) @ http://yfrog.com/nlfe5z
* PROTECT RIGHT TO PROTEST WHILE KEEPING CITY SAFE
Source: Chicago Sun-Times Editorial
There’s this to keep in mind about protesters: They’re often right. Over the course of American history, people have taken to the streets in favor of women’s suffrage and civil rights and against the Vietnam War.
There’s also this to keep in mind: They’re often wrong. In cities worldwide, G-8 protesters have showered police with rocks and firebombs, set fires, smashed windows and torched cars. In Seattle, World Trade Organization protesters in 1999 caused more than $2 million in damage.
This May, tens of thousands of people are expected to converge on Chicago to protest overlapping meetings among members of NATO and the Group of Eight — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.
Chicago, still scarred by the memory of clashes outside the 1968 Democratic Convention, could see its largest demonstrations in years.
As we said on New Year’s Day, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s challenge is to balance the right to protest with the need to protect the city, and so we see the justification in a number of new rules he’s pushing, though not all. Unfortunately, we now learn, the mayor’s intent is that the proposed new rules would be imposed permanently, rather than expire when the summits are over.
Calling the upcoming summits a “unique event with a unique attention to the city,” Emanuel is proposing, among other measures, to close parks and beaches until 6 a.m. instead of 4 a.m..; impose sweeping parade restrictions and higher fees for those events; and empower Police Supt. Garry McCarthy to “deputize law enforcement personnel” and forge cooperative agreements with a host of state, federal and local law enforcement agencies.
Except for closing the beaches longer at night, as we’ve said, these look to us like reasonable enough temporary measures. But where’s the great need to regulate public protests — considerably more than is done already — once the two big shows leave town?
While we’re at it, we should point out that Emanuel has yet to address one of the most fundamental rights of free speech during the upcoming summits — the right to shout where the shouting will actually be heard. At political conventions across the country in recent years, officials have so strictly limited where and when protestors can wave their signs and shout and chant — sometimes blocks away from the conventions — as to all but silence them.
Emanuel’s job, still as yet undone and overdone, is to draw up a clear set of rules that provide for public safety without squelching lawful dissent.
* NY CITY COUNCIL PASSES RESOLUTION DECLARING THAT CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE
Source: Progressive Caucus of The New York City Council
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 4, 2012
CONTACT: Mary Tek, Coordinator
212-341-9509 / firstname.lastname@example.org
City Council Passes Resolution Declaring that Corporations Are Not People
NEW YORK, NY — The Progressive Caucus of the City Council commends today’s passage of a resolution opposing the United States Supreme Court Citizens United decision, which gave corporations the same First Amendment rights as people. Progressive Caucus Members Brad Lander, Melissa Mark-Viverito and Steve Levin sponsored this resolution, with the entirety of the Progressive Caucus as co-sponsors. We thank Speaker Christine Quinn for her leadership on this important issue.
As our support of this resolution demonstrates, restoring confidence in government and strengthening democratic participation is a core principle of the Progressive Caucus. We believe that corporations should not share the same rights as people, that unlimited and unreported corporate donations meant to sway the electoral process should not be considered freedom of speech, and that the government should regulate the raising and spending of money by corporations intended to influence elections. We cannot allow corporate money to manipulate our democracy.
As Justice John Paul Stevens recognized in his dissent in the Citizens United decision, “corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help facilitate and structure the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their ‘personhood’ often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of ‘We the People’ by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.”
The Progressive Caucus supports this sentiment and urges Congress to take action to protect our democracy against corporate control and return the election process to the people.
* DAHLIA WASFI EPIC SPEECH (VIDEO)
WARNING: VERY GRAPHIC IMAGES
This video is mandatory viewing to all supporters of the war(s).
Narration used in the video is DAHLIA WASFI. Her website is http://www.liberatethis.com/
* WAVE OF BOMBINGS LEAVES SCORES DEAD IN IRAQ
|A suicide bomber targeting Shia pilgrims has killed at least 46 people and wounded at least 80 others in southern Iraq, Qusay al-Abadi, head of the provincial council in Nassiriya, told Reuters news agency.Local security sources said on Thursday the attack occurred at a police checkpoint in al-Badha area west of Nassiriya, 300km southeast of Baghdad, as pilgrims were walking to the shrine city of Karbala for Arbaeen commemorations.
This came hours after explosions in several mainly Shia Muslim neighbourhoods of eastern Baghdad killed at least 24 people and wounded a further 66, according to Iraqi officials.
Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, Baghdad military spokesman, said the aim of the attacks is “to create sedition among the Iraqi people”. He said it was too early to say who was behind the bombings.
Thursday’s attacks were the worst since a series of explosions across the Iraqi capital on December 22 killed 60 people.
Three bombs, one planted on a parked motorcycle and another two, also roadside devices, killed at least nine people and wounded 35 others in the impoverished Sadr City district in northeastern Baghdad, sources said.
“There was a group of day labourers gathered, waiting to be hired for work. Someone brought his small motorcycle and parked it nearby. A few minutes later it blew up, killed some people, wounded others and burned some cars,” a police officer at the scene, declining to be named, said.
“Political leaders fight each other for power, and we pay the price,” Ahmed Khalaf, a labourer near the site of attacks, said, alluding to the political tension between Sunni and Shia leaders.
Two bomb attacks in Kadhimiyah, another predominantly Shia district in Baghdad’s north, killed another 15 people and wounded 31, an interior ministry official said. […]
* Y2012 – THE YEAR OF THE COWARD
By Mark Sashine, OpEdNews
Obama is afraid of the people of the US. It is inconceivable that he was once a community organizer. He is so afraid of the people that this fear fills the void around him.
Y2012 is the year of the Dragon. That’s for the whole world except for the US. In the US it is the designated the Year of a Coward. President Obama signed the Defense Bill with ” reservations’ (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57350607/obama-signs-defense-bill-with-reservations/ ).
The final moving part in the mechanism of dismantling of the USA’s already dysfunctional democracy has been installed. Now it is simply the matter of tuning and testing.
Obama was still our President before signing the Bill but after that he is nothing but a puppet.
The saddest part of it is that he seems to have begun liking it. This is very typical for cowards in power. Being afraid of everything, they prefer others to do the dirty job for them and at the final moment, “reluctantly and with reservations, to give the final approval.
I would guess Obama will go pray and then consider that his conscience is clean. He could not do otherwise; he had no choice. That’s what he will say in his prayer. To us he will not say anything. He is not responsible to the people anymore. From now on desperation is his path.
This desperation is so obvious that even our TV- operators seem to feel it and show him in full swing very reluctantly, trying not to show his eyes. The more rancid, cowardly nonsense he delivers (obviously, following the instructions), the sadder his eyes become and even his natural cool demeanor is there no more. Nobody can deceive thyself and Obama knows what he had become. Now he learns to like his new transformed self.
Jean- Paul Sartre said, “A traitor betrays because he was a traitor all along.” Same with cowardice. I am not saying that Obama was a born coward. But cowardice was offered to him as a path early in life and he took it most likely because he was inclined to do so. […]
* DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIORITIES
By Glenn Greenwald, Salon
Much of the reaction to the article I wrote last Saturday regarding progressives, the Obama presidency and Ron Paul (as well as reaction to this essay by Matt Stoller and even this tweet from Katrina vanden Heuvel) relied on exactly the sort of blatant distortions that I began that article by anticipating and renouncing: that I was endorsing Paul as the best presidential candidate, that I was urging progressives to sacrifice reproductive rights in order to vote for him over Obama, that I “pretend[ed] that the differences between Obama and Paul on economics [and other domestic issues] are marginal”; that Paul’s bad positions negate the argument I made; that Ron Paul is my “hero,” etc. etc. So self-evidently petty and slimy are those kinds of distortions that (other than to note their falsehoods for the record) they warrant no discussion; indeed, as I wrote: “So potent is this poison that no inoculation against it exists” and would thus “proceed to make a couple of important points about both candidacies even knowing in advance how wildly they will be distorted.”
That said, it’s hard to believe that these distortions are anything but deliberate — deterrence-driven punishment for the ultimate Election Year crime of partisan heresy: i.e., suggesting that someone is uniquely advocating important ideas even though they lack a “D” after their name – given that (a) I expressly renounced in advance the beliefs now being attributed to me and, more important (b) the point I was actually making was clear and not all that complex. Here’s Political Science Professor Corey Robin explaining it:
Our problem—and again by “our” I mean a left that’s social democratic (or welfare state liberal or economically progressive or whatever the hell you want to call it) and anti-imperial—is that we don’t really have a vigorous national spokesperson for the issues of war and peace, an end to empire, a challenge to Israel, and so forth, that Paul has in fact been articulating. . . . But he is talking about these issues, often in surprisingly blunt and challenging terms. Would that we had someone on our side who could make the case against an American empire, or American supremacy, in such a pungent way.
This, it’s clear, is why people like Glenn Greenwald say that Paul’s voice needs to be heard. Not, Greenwald makes clear, because he supports Paul, but because it is a terrible comment—a shanda for the left—that we don’t have anyone on our side of comparable visibility launching an attack on American imperialism and warfare. (Recalling what I said in the context of the death of Christopher Hitchens, I suspect this has something to do with our normalization and acceptance of war as a way of life.) . . . [Paul] reveals what’s not being said, or not being said enough, on our side.
One can agree or disagree with it, of course, but there’s simply no way to fail to understand that point (or, worse, to distort it into something it isn’t) absent a desire not to understand it. The probability that Ron Paul will win the GOP nomination or ever be President is, in my view, non-existent. Whether one should support his candidacy for President or whether he would make a good President is completely irrelevant to the argument I (and Stoller) made; the point is exactly what Robin describes there. And that’s just obvious (for an excellent examination of Paul’s debate-enhancing benefits, see this video clip of a discussion about Paul from Glenn Loury and John McWhorter).
The one addition I would make to Robin’s summary of my position is that the problem isn’t merely that there is nobody else with a national platform besides Paul making these arguments on issues that are vital, not secondary. The problem is worse than that: it’s that the national standard-bearer of progressives, of Democrats — Barack Obama — is largely on the opposite side of these questions. More important, his actions are the antithesis of them. Given that the presidential campaign will dominate political discourse for the next year and shape how Americans understand politics generally, it’s impossible for these views to be aired by confining oneself to cheerleading for the Obama 2012 campaign because the President is an opponent of those views. Thus, the only way these views will get an airing is by finding some other tactic, some other means, for having them heard.
The chances that any of these issues will be debated in an Obama/Romney presidential contest are exactly zero. On all of these issues — Endless War, empire, steadfast devotion to the Israeli government, due-process-free assassinations, multiple-nation drone assaults, escalating confrontation with Iran, the secretive, unchecked Surveillance and National Security States, the sadistic and racist Drug War, the full-scale capture of the political process by bankers and oligarchs — Romney is fully supportive of President Obama’s actions (except to the extent he argues they don’t go far enough: and those critiques will almost certainly be modulated once the primary is over, resulting in ever greater convergence between the two). As National Journal‘s Michael Hirsh put it yesterday: “In truth, Obama and Romney are far closer in mindset and philosophy than anyone is willing to acknowledge just now.” He adds:
Obama, despite his image, has sought to placate business and left Wall Street largely intact, and he is taking a far tougher line on foreign policy–one that reflects a traditional GOP “realpolitik” view and a dramatic ratcheting up of covert war– than is generally acknowledged, even when it comes to China.
Romney, increasingly desperate to win over his base against the onslaught of “Not-Romneys,” has allowed his rhetoric to grow more inflamed on the trail, including commitments to a balanced-budget amendment and partially voucherizing Medicare as well as eliminating Obamacare. But based on his history, if he gets the nomination he is unlikely to follow through fully on these overheated pre-primary pledges and do many things dramatically differently, either on the economy or foreign policy. The problems of slow growth, chronic deficits and an overextended military will inevitably lend themselves to similar solutions from either an Obama or a Romney administration.
Matt Taibbi put it even more bluntly:
The 2012 presidential race officially begins today with the caucuses in Iowa, and we all know what that means . . .
Nothing. . . .
The reason 2012 feels so empty now is that voters on both sides of the aisle are not just tired of this state of affairs, they are disgusted by it. They want a chance to choose their own leaders and they want full control over policy, not just a partial say. There are a few challenges to this state of affairs within the electoral process – as much as I disagree with Paul about many things, I do think his campaign is a real outlet for these complaints – but everyone knows that in the end, once the primaries are finished, we’re going to be left with one 1%-approved stooge taking on another.
Most likely, it’ll be Mitt Romney versus Barack Obama, meaning the voters’ choices in the midst of a massive global economic crisis brought on in large part by corruption in the financial services industry will be a private equity parasite who has been a lifelong champion of the Gordon Gekko Greed-is-Good ethos (Romney), versus a paper progressive who in 2008 took, by himself, more money from Wall Street than any two previous presidential candidates, and in the four years since has showered Wall Street with bailouts while failing to push even one successful corruption prosecution (Obama).
There are obvious, even significant differences between Obama and someone like Mitt Romney, particularly on social issues, but no matter how Obama markets himself this time around, a choice between these two will not in any way represent a choice between “change” and the status quo. This is a choice between two different versions of the status quo, and everyone knows it.
For those who are extremely dissatisfied with the status quo in American political life and are seeking ways to change it, supporting one of the two major-party candidates in the 2012 presidential campaign as the principal form of activism offers no solution. That’s not an endorsement for resignation, apathy, non-voting, voting for a third party, or anything else. It’s just a simple statement of fact: on many issues that progressives themselves have long claimed are of critical, overarching importance (not all, but many), there will be virtually no debate in the election because there are virtually no differences between the two candidates and the two parties on those questions. In the face of that fact, there are two choices: (1) simply accept it (and thus bolster it) on the basis that the only political priority that matters is keeping the Democratic Party and Barack Obama empowered; or (2) searching for ways to change the terms of the debate so that critical views that are now excluded by bipartisan consensus instead end up being heard. […]
* EGYPTS SALAFI SURGE
These guys make the Muslim Brotherhood look like latte liberals.
By Sarah A. Topol, Foreign Policy
MANSOURA, Egypt — It’s the morning of the third and final round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections and Ammar Fayed, an activist for the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, is nervous as hell.
The 28-year-old marketing manager, who sits on the executive board of the youth branch of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in the governorate of Dakahlia, sports a tiny FJP pin on the lapel of his gray blazer and a thumb stained blue from voting. He explains the situation: Thirty-six seats are up for grabs in this province in the fertile Nile Delta. The conservative region is in the Brotherhood’s heartland — it should have been a cakewalk.
There’s just one problem, Fayed admits: “We made a fundamental miscalculation.”
The Brotherhood has found itself outflanked on the right by the Salafi al-Nour Party, which has challenged the movement’s religious credentials and gained a surprising degree of traction in the process. The Salafis appear poised to claim between 25 and 30 percent of the vote, though the Brotherhood could still win an outright majority and will certainly become the largest party in the new parliament.
Who could have predicted that the Salafis — adherents to a fundamentalist version of Islam that until Egypt’s revolution eschewed politics as un-Islamic — would morph into an electoral powerhouse? Even the Brotherhood, whose vote-counting abilities would impress the likes of Karl Rove, never saw it coming, and the Salafis’ success threatens to upend the movement’s carefully laid plans for dominating Egypt’s post-revolutionary political scene.
After decades of trying to convince Egypt’s liberals, leftists, and other activists of their seriousness in solving the country’s titanic economic problems, the Brothers suddenly find themselves forced to talk about how and when they will implement Islamic law. Not only do their efforts to bolster the movement’s religious credentials promise to cause tensions with the other parliamentary blocs, but conflicts with the al-Nour Party will also provide useful fodder for Egypt’s calculating military rulers, who could exploit the rivalry to keep themselves in power and above scrutiny.
The Brotherhood can’t afford to ignore the Salafis’ rise. Nour is “directly attacking our core,” Fayed complains, “saying the Brotherhood is a party like any other, that it is playing politics instead of being a guardian of Islam.”
The two Islamist factions are already trading barbs over the most divisive issue: legislating Islamic law. To get the Salafis’ perspective, I met Ibrahim AbdulRahman, the bushy-bearded Nour spokesman in Dakahlia governorate. He names the place: an upscale coffee shop in the center of the city of Mansoura.
It was a difficult interview: The Salafis don’t seem particularly keen on explaining themselves to foreign reporters. AbdulRahman slumped in his chair and spent most of his time averting any attempt at a genuine conversation, at first denying Nour was a religious party and feigning confusion as to why Christians weren’t running on its ticket, despite public statements by its leaders that their party would never support a Christian president.
After about 20 minutes of useless chatter, AbdulRahman finally stuck the knife into his competitors. “I would say that Salafis and the Nour Party are more aware of the religious sciences and know religion more than the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said.
The parties’ disagreement over how quickly to implement sharia law, AbdulRahman explained, is at the center of their conflict. “For the Nour Party, one of the primary major goals is to implement sharia at the nearest possible opportunity,” he said. […]
* ITALY’S POLITICIANS REVEALED BY P.M. AS HIGHEST PAID IN EUROPE
Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Monti, has made public the details of the jaw-dropping salaries and perks enjoyed by the country’s lawmakers—as Italians suffer cuts.
By Barbie Latza Nadeau, Daily Beast
Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Monti, has one of the least enviable jobs in the entire European Union, and it’s about to get even worse. After Silvio Berlusconi’s sensational resignation last November, the former European Union commissioner was tasked with wrangling control of Italy’s economic debacle and solving the country’s $2.6 trillion debt crisis that threatens to bring down the euro zone and its single currency. Now he’s facing an angry Parliament whose members resent the fact that he just outed their best-kept secret: that they earn far more money in salaries and benefits than any other elected lawmakers in the European Union—even as ordinary Italians are bearing the brunt of the austerity measures now on the table.
Including perks and expenses, the average Italian lawmaker’s gross pay tops $20,700 each month—with the highest earners exceeding $26,000 a month—more than some Italians make in an entire year, according to a survey commissioned by Monti’s new government. Italian legislators earn $2,600 more than French lawmakers, Europe’s second-highest earners, and nearly $5,200 more than their German counterparts earn each month. Their pay is nearly quadruple the government salaries of the Spanish parliamentarians, who earn just $6,000 a month and considerably higher than their British counterparts, who gross $8,400 each month, including perks. Many Italian lawmakers also legally collect income from other sources, including private businesses, consultancies, and legal and medical practices—salaries that are often tax free because of the lawmakers’ parliamentary status. The confirmation of Italy’s excessive government expenditures comes as everyday Italians take multiple hits, from a new property tax on primary residences to a hefty augmentation of fuel prices at the pumps (gas now tops $8 a gallon). Further cuts and the impending liberalization of many of Italy’s job sectors have caused unease among private citizens whose employment can now be easily terminated and whose futures seem increasingly uncertain.
Now it’s up to Monti, who has waived his own salary for the two jobs he currently holds—prime minister and economy minister—to let the air out of Italy’s bloated public sector, which has played such an obvious role in keeping the country dormant and debt-ridden for decades. Lawmakers’ benefit packages are an obvious place to start. It’s an issue that has been hotly debated in Italy for months, starting with the popular Facebook page called “Spider Truman” that reveals secrets from inside Italy’s Parliament. A recent provocative posting summed up the situation: “Anna, 74-year-old retiree, $550 a month; Domenico Scilipoti, 54-year-old parliamentarian, $18,920 a month—This is Italy.”
Monti’s report, a survey he commissioned soon after he became prime minister, confirms that Italian lawmakers travel free by air, rail, road, and sea within Italy, yet they can still file for up to $1,700 in receipt-free travel expenses as part of their monthly earnings. They are each given a tax-free housing allowance to live in Rome—even if they already own private houses in the capital. They are given $5,000 every month in secretarial and research support costs on top of their salaries, even if they use the parliamentary staff or choose not to employ their own staff. They enjoy subsidized dining in a gourmet cafeteria where they eat T-bone steaks and grilled swordfish for just a few dollars per plate, not to mention enjoying the services of hairdressers, barbers, and manicurists. There is even an expensive private restroom and other services in Parliament for Vladimir Luxuria, Italy’s transgender lawmaker who is not welcome in either the men’s or ladies’ bathrooms in the Parliament building. Police escorts are provided for parliamentarians’ families, even when they are on personal business. Parliamentarians need only serve one term to enjoy the benefit of a full state pension, while ordinary Italians have to work for years to earn their meager private-sector pensions. There are also parliamentary discounts offered by many of Rome’s designer boutiques, and there is a subsidized phone service on offer from Italy’s cellphone providers. The list is virtually endless, from free access to tony beaches and free movie and opera tickets on request. […]