Why No Responsible Democrat Should Want Newt Gingrich to Get the GOP Nomination

From Robert Reich:  http://robertreich.org/post/16529074860

By Robert Reich
Thursday, January 26, 2012

Republicans are worried sick about Newt Gingrich’s ascendance, while Democrats are tickled pink.

Yet no responsible Democrat should be pleased at the prospect that Gingrich could get the GOP nomination. The future of America is too important to accept even a small risk of a Gingrich presidency.

The Republican worry is understandable. “The possibility of Newt Gingrich being our nominee against Barack Obama I think is essentially handling the election over to Obama,” says former Minnesota Governor Tom Pawlenty, a leading GOP conservative. “I think that’s shared by a lot of folks in the Republican party.”

Pawlenty’s views are indeed widely shared in Republican circles. “He’s not a conservative – he’s an opportunist,” says pundit Joe Scarborough, a member of the Republican Class of 1994 who came to Washington under Gingrich’s banner. Gingrich doesn’t “have the temperament, intellectual discipline or ego control to be either a successful nominee or president,”says New York Republican representative Peter King, who hasn’t endorsed any candidate. “Basically, Newt can’t control himself.”

Gingrich is “an embarrassment to the party,” says New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, and “was run out of the speakership” on ethics violations. Republican strategist Mike Murphy says “Newt Cingrich could not carry a swing state in the general election if it was made of feathers.”

Continue reading at:  http://robertreich.org/post/16529074860

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Angels We Have Heard On High: Activist Priest, 83, In Solitary Confinement

This Priest is a Real Christian…  Unlike the Anti-Christian Right Wing Scum that call themselves “Born-Again”

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/further/2012/01/27-1

by Abby Zimet
01.27.12

Jesuit priest and peace activist Father Bill “Bix” Bichsel, 83, is in his second week of a hunger strike to protest solitary confinement at Washington’s SeaTac Federal Detention Center, where he’d been held for an earlier action against a proposed nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee. A member of Disarm Now Plowshares, Bichsel has been arrested several times for nonviolent civil disobedience at military bases, nuclear weapons manufacturers, and the School of the Americas. He is currently being punished – including having to wear shackles at his hearing – for an “unauthorized” visit by two Buddhist monks who drummed and prayed outside for him. Despite cold and health problems, Father Bichsel says he sings to himself in his cell. His resolve remains strong to fight against nuclear weapons and other US policies “that are without conscience.” He has alot of work ahead of him.

Addresses:

William J. Bichsel, S.J
 # 86275-020 SHU
P.O. Box 13900
Seattle, WA 98198 – 1090

Here is list of people to contact:

Charles E. Samuels, Jr.
Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First St., NW,
Washington, DC 20534
Office hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern time
Monday through Friday
For general information, call 202-307-3198.

Marion Feather, Warden
 Federal Detention Center SeaTac
P.O. Box 13901
Seattle, WA 98198
Phone: 206-870-5700
Fax: 206-870-5717
E-mail: mxfeather@bop.gov

Terry McGuire
The Catholic Northwest Progress
710 9th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
Terry.McGuire@seattlearch.org
Phone: 206-382-4560
Fax: 206-382-4840

The News Tribune
P.O. Box 11000, Tacoma, WA 98411
Phone: 253-597-8742
Matt Misterek
(253) 597-8472
matt.misterek@thenewstribune.com

The Seattle Times
PO Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111
Newsroom: (206) 464-2200
Newsroom fax: (206) 464-2261
Newsroom and Seattletimes.com staff
Main: (206) 464-2111
Accepts letters of up to 200 words at opinion@seattletimes.com

Contact your government representatives
http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

Patty Murraywww.murray.senate.gov/email/index.cfm
Tacoma Office
950 Pacific Avenue, Ste. 650
Tacoma, Washington 98402
Phone: (253) 572-3636
Fax: (253) 572-9488

Maria Cantwell www.cantwell.senate.gov/contact/

Gov. Christine Gregoire
www.governor.wa.gov/contact/

Norm Dicks
www.house.gov/dicks/email.shtml

Archbishop Sartain
Archdiocese of Seattle, 710 9th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-382-4560 | Fax: 206-382-4840

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Islamophobia Has No Place in the United States of America

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/warren-j-blumenfeld/islamophobia_b_1225226.html


Posted: 01/26/2012

Recently speaking at a town hall meeting at an American Legion Hall in Lady Lake, Florida, presidential hopeful Rick Santorum fielded a question, or rather, a comment from a woman in the audience who forcefully proclaimed: “I never refer to Obama as President Obama because legally he is not. He constantly says that our constitution is passé, and he ignores it as you know and does what he darn well pleases. He is an avowed Muslim, and my question is, why isn’t something being done to get him out of government? He has no legal right to be calling himself president!”

Though Santorum opposes President Obama on many of the issues, he had a magnificent opportunity to take an ethical stand when addressing this woman, but he chose instead to virtually play into her obvious Islamophobic statements by merely responding to issues she raised related to the Constitution.

“Well look, I’m doing my best to get him out of the government right now, and you’re right about how he uniformly ignores the constitution,” Santorum responded. “He did this with these appointments over the recess that was not a recess, and if I was in the United States Senate I would be drawing the line.”

As the old truism goes, “If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.” By not standing up to this woman’s obvious Islamophobia, Santorum was complicit in the demonization, marginalization,, and victimization of Muslims and those perceived as Muslim.

Islamophobia can be defined as prejudice and discrimination toward the religion of Islam and Muslims who follow its teachings and practices. Like racism, sexism, and heterosexism, for example, Islamophobia is much more than a fear, for it is a taught and often learned attitude and behavior, and, therefore, falls under the category of oppression.

Continue reading at:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/warren-j-blumenfeld/islamophobia_b_1225226.html

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Remember Rousseau: Property Rights and Human Rights Are Still At War

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/01/29

by Danny Schechter
Published on Sunday, January 29, 2012 by Common Dreams

The conflict between property rights and human rights has entered a new chapter. It is a debate that goes back to the challenge by landowners and merchants behind the American Revolution’s war on British control over the colonial economy.

Only today, as those speaking in the name of the 99% challenge the super wealthy of the 1% (actually the .001 %) there is a new battleground in what’s known as the housing market with as many as 14 million Americans in or facing foreclosure.

The defense of property rights is the holy of the holies for the propertied classes with a whole industry set up to enforce their claims of ownership.

We have seen how this plays out with the courts, run by often bought off and complicit judges rubber-stamping claims by banks and realty interests even when laws are disregarded amidst fraudulent filings, biased contracts, and phony robot signings. They control the marshals who seize your property, and constantly denigrate the real victims as “irresponsible.”

It’s not surprising any more to read about banks foreclosing on properties they don’t even own.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau who postulated the “social contract” that gives property rights a moral claim would be turning in his grave if he knew of the many abuses that homeowners in the US face daily.

According to one scholarly presentation I read, “In order to clearly present Rousseau’s views on property in the Social Contract, we must first define what he means by property. Property according to Rousseau is that which is obtained legally thereby purporting legitimate claim to ones holdings. Now we must consider what gives an individual the right to openly claim ownership.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/01/29

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GOP race-baiting masks class warfare

From Salon: http://www.salon.com/2012/01/27/gop_race_baiting_masks_class_warfare/singleton/

By demonizing some, the Republicans seek to discredit the safety net for the 99 percent

By Daniel Denvir 
Friday, Jan 27, 2012

It’s commonplace to note that Newt Gingrich’s dog-whistle appellation that Barack Obama is the “food stamp president” is both racist and politically cynical. But the stereotyping of black government dependency also serves the strategic end of discrediting the entire social safety net, which most Americans of all races depend on. Black people are subtly demonized, but whites and blacks alike will suffer.

Gingrich persists because it’s a dependable applause line, and because his political fortunes keep rising. Compare that to September, when Mitt Romney attacked then-candidate Rick Perry for calling Social Security a “Ponzi scheme.” Perry backtracked, insisting that he only wanted to bolster the program and ensure its solvency. But in his 2010 book “Fed Up,” Perry made his opposition to Social Security clear, calling it “a crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal.” Scrapping entitlements is a core tenet of contemporary fiscal conservatism, but most of the time politicians only get away with attacking the most vulnerable ones: Medicaid, food stamps and welfare cash assistance, which are means-tested and thus associated with the black (read: undeserving) poor, although whites make up a far greater share of food stamp recipients. Government welfare programs with Teflon political defenses — Medicare and Social Security — are nearly universal entitlements and thus associated with “regular” (read: white) Americans.

“Ending welfare as we know it,” as Bill Clinton and congressional Republicans did in 1996, is one thing. “Ending Medicare,” Republicans were last year reminded, is something else altogether. “Keep your government hands off my Medicare,” declared a 2009 Tea Party town hall attendee who today might very well be an ardent supporter of Gingrich’s assault on food stamps. It is a political lesson that free-market fundamentalists have to relearn with some frequency. It was only 2005,  after all, when President George W. Bush launched his ill-fated proposal to privatize Social Security — a setback he later called his greatest failure.

Yet as more government programs of any sort are framed as pernicious, laissez-faire ideologues are again emboldened to get rid of everything.

As recently as November 2009, the New York Times reported that stigma around food stamps had faded; the program received strong bipartisan support as millions of newly impoverished Americans reached out for food assistance. But temporarily cautious politicians had only stashed the old playbook on the top shelf, and the revival of welfare queen demagoguery made for quick political results. Nationwide, state legislatures are moving to impose drug testing of welfare, and even unemployment insurance, recipients.

“If you go apply for a job today, you are generally going to be drug-tested,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in October 2010. “The people that are working are paying the taxes for people on welfare. Shouldn’t the welfare people be held to the same standard?”

Continue reading at:   http://www.salon.com/2012/01/27/gop_race_baiting_masks_class_warfare/singleton/

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Yes Some People Can Choose To Be Straight or Gay. They are Called Bisexuals

A few days ago Cynthia Nixon created a controversy when she said that for her lesbianism is a choice.  It is for me too.  You see like Cynthia I’ve loved both men and women over the course of my lifetime.  Bisexuality doesn’t mean someone can’t make up their mind as to be either straight or lesbian/gay.  It certainly doesn’t mean we are unfaithful to the person we love or over the course of a life time the people we love.

For some bisexual people there is a gravitation to one or the other either straight or gay.  For me that direction has been towards lesbianism.  This is encouraged by the greater equality one can find in a same sex marriage/partnership.

Cynthia Nixon’s Comments Prove We Still Don’t Know How To Talk About Sexual Identity

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2012/01/27/412318/cynthia-nixons-comments-prove-we-still-dont-know-how-to-talk-about-sexual-identity/

By Zack Ford
on Jan 27, 2012

The LGBT blogosphere has been wrestling with comments made by actress Cynthia Nixon (immortally Sex in the City‘s ”Miranda”) to the New York Times that she chose to be a lesbian:

I gave a speech recently, an empowerment speech to a gay audience, and it included the line ‘I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay, and gay is better.’ And they tried to get me to change it, because they said it implies that homosexuality can be a choice. And for me, it is a choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me. A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it’s a choice, then we could opt out. I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not.

She doubled down in an interview with the Daily Beast, but in a way that helped clarify where she’s really coming:

I don’t pull out the “bisexual” word because nobody likes the bisexuals. Everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals… but I do completely feel that when I was in relationships with men, I was in love and in lust with those men. And then I met Christine and I fell in love and lust with her. I am completely the same person and I was not walking around in some kind of fog. I just responded to the people in front of me the way I truly felt.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2012/01/27/412318/cynthia-nixons-comments-prove-we-still-dont-know-how-to-talk-about-sexual-identity/

Is It a Choice to Be Gay? It Depends on the Meaning of ‘It’

From Huffington Post:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathaniel-frank/is-it-a-choice-to-be-gay_b_1231126.html


Posted: 01/25/2012

When Cynthia Nixon, who became famous for her role on Sex and the City, recently told The New York Times that being a lesbian was, for her, “a choice,” her words lit up the LGBT listservs, angering many who believe that Nixon is giving comfort to the enemy. Those who believe sexual orientation is a choice are far more likely to oppose our equality, while folks who think we are “born that way” are more likely to support us. If we can’t help it, goes the thinking, we shouldn’t be punished for it; and the corollary to that: if you can’t choose to be gay, there’s no need to stigmatize it as a way to discourage people from making the wrong choice.

Those angered with Nixon’s comments felt they were both unhelpful and incorrect. They say that research, along with so many of our own experiences, make clear that being gay or lesbian is not a choice. And what Nixon was really describing, although she refused to apply the term, was the fact of being bisexual, since she had previously been partnered with a man (Nixon later said, “I don’t pull out the ‘bisexual’ word because nobody likes the bisexuals”).

But many have also defended her words, particularly lesbian and bisexual women. They say she was only speaking of her own experiences and that if she feels it was a choice for her, it’s not for anyone else to say otherwise.

The problem is that this is not just about what Cynthia Nixon “feels.” It requires more rigorous thinking about what identity and choice really entail. Nixon’s comments further muddy a matter that sometimes seems to stem from a vast but rather simple confusion in American thinking. To paraphrase President Clinton, the question depends on what the meaning of “it” is. When I hear “it’s a choice” (or “it’s not a choice”), I can only make sense of the statement if I know if we’re discussing same-sex attraction or same-sex action. I can’t say it better than the blogger John Aravosis: “It’s only a choice among flavors I already like.” That is, I don’t choose to like chocolate ice cream, but I choose whether, when, and how much to eat it. The idea that one can choose to be attracted to one type of person over another is nonsensical, just as no one is accused of choosing to prefer chocolate over strawberry. The question is what someone will choose to do with those feelings (eat chocolate or strawberry, partner with this person or that), and whether any particular choice is morally good, bad, or neutral.

Continue reading at:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathaniel-frank/is-it-a-choice-to-be-gay_b_1231126.html

Genetic or Not, Gay Won’t Go Away

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/opinion/sunday/bruni-gay-wont-go-away-genetic-or-not.html?_r=2

By
Published: January 28, 2012

That has long been one of the rallying cries of a movement, and sometimes the gist of its argument. Across decades of widespread ostracism, followed by years of patchwork acceptance and, most recently, moments of heady triumph, gay people invoked that phrase to explain why homophobia was unwarranted and discrimination senseless.

Lady Gaga even spun an anthem from it.

But is it the right mantra to cling to? The best tack to take?

Not for the actress Cynthia Nixon, 45, whose comments in The New York Times Magazine last Sunday raised those very questions.

For 15 years, until 2003, she was in a relationship with a man. They had two children together. She then formed a new family with a woman, to whom she’s engaged. And she told The Times’s Alex Witchel that homosexuality for her “is a choice.”

“For many people it’s not,” she conceded, but added that they “don’t get to define my gayness for me.”

They do get to fume, though. Last week some did. They complained that she represented a minority of those in same-sex relationships and that she had furthermore handed a cudgel to our opponents, who might now cite her professed malleability as they make their case that incentives to change, not equal rights, are what we need.

But while her critics have good reason to worry about how her words will be construed and used, they have no right to demand the kind of silence and conformity from Nixon that gay people have justly rebelled against. She’s entitled to her own truth and manner of expressing it.

Continue reading at:   http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/opinion/sunday/bruni-gay-wont-go-away-genetic-or-not.html?_r=2

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Occupy Oakland: Police Teargas Protesters, Use Flash Grenades

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/28/occupy-oakland-police-tea_n_1239232.html?ref=san-francisco

01/28/12

OAKLAND, Calif. — Police were in the process of arresting about 100 Occupy protesters for failing to disperse Saturday night, hours after officers used tear gas on a rowdy group of demonstrators who threw rocks and flares at them and tore down fences.

Police Sgt. Christopher Bolton said the arrests came after protesters marched through downtown Oakland a little before 8 p.m. Saturday, with some of them entering a YMCA building.

Meanwhile, about 100 police officers surrounded City Hall while others were swept the inside of the building to see if any protesters broke in.

More help from other police agencies was also on the way, with busloads of Alameda County sheriff’s deputies arriving in the downtown area late Saturday.

The nighttime arrests came after 19 people were taken into custody in Occupy Oakland protests hours earlier.

Police used tear gas and “flash” grenades on the group Saturday afternoon after some demonstrators threw rocks and other objects at them. Police said three officers were hurt, but they released no details.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/28/occupy-oakland-police-tea_n_1239232.html?ref=san-francisco

Journalists—Myself Included—Swept Up in Mass Arrest at Occupy Oakland

From Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/01/journalists-arrested-occupy-oakland

By Gavin Aronsen
Sun Jan. 29, 2012

On Saturday, Occupy Oakland re-entered the national spotlight during a day-long effort to take over an empty building and transform it into a social center. Oakland police thwarted the efforts, arresting more than 400 people in the process, primarily during a mass nighttime arrest outside a downtown YMCA. That number included at least six journalists, myself included, in direct violation of OPD media relations policy that states “media shall never be targeted for dispersal or enforcement action because of their status.”

After an unsuccessful afternoon effort to occupy a former convention center, the more than 1,000 protesters elected to return to the site of their former encampment outside city hall. On the way, they clashed with officers, advancing down a street with makeshift shields of corrogated metal and throwing objects at a police line. Officers responded with smoke grenades, tear gas, and bean bag projectiles. After protesters regrouped, they marched through downtown as police pursued and eventually contained a few hundred of them in an enclosed space outside a YMCA. Some entered the gym and were arrested inside.

As soon as it became clear that I would be kettled with the protesters, I displayed my press credentials to a line of officers and asked where to stand to avoid arrest. In past protests, the technique always proved successful. But this time, no officer said a word. One pointed back in the direction of the protesters, refusing to let me leave. Another issued a notice that everyone in the area was under arrest.

I wound up in a back corner of the space between the YMCA and a neighboring building, where I met Vivian Ho of the San Francisco Chronicle and Kristin Hanes of KGO Radio. After it became clear that we would probably have to wait for hours there as police arrested hundreds of people packed tightly in front of us, we maneuvered our way to the front of the kettle to display our press credentials once more.

Continue reading at:  http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/01/journalists-arrested-occupy-oakland

What really happened at Occupy Oakland on Saturday January 28 – Read my firsthand account, not the news. Please Spread.

From Boogie Man Journal:  http://nameigoob.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-really-happened-at-occupy-oakland.html

by baked420

For the internet, here’s a first-hand account of Occupy Oakland on 1/28/2012, because the news never tells the full story. I’ll tell you about the street battle, the 300+ arrests, the vandalism, the flag burning, all in the context of my experience today. This is deeper than the headlines. No major news source can do that for you.
The stated goal for the day was to “move-in” to a large, abandoned, building to turn it into a social and political center. It is a long vacant convention center – the only people ever near there are the homeless who use the space outside the building as a bed. The building occupation also draws attention to the large number of abandoned and unused buildings in Oakland. The day started with a rally and a march to the proposed building. The police knew which building was the target, surrounded it, and used highly mobile units to try and divert the protest. After avoiding police lines, the group made it to one side of the building. Now, this is a very large building, and we were on a road with construction fences on both sides, and a large ditch separating us from the cops. The police fired smoke grenades into the crowd as the group neared a small path around the ditch, towards the building. They declared an unlawful assembly, and this is when the crowd broke down the construction fence. A few people broke fences to escape the situation, others because they were pissed. A couple more fences were taken down then necessary, but no valuable equipment was destroyed. They only things broken were fences.
The crowd decided to continue moving, and walked up the block to a more regular street. We decided to turn left up the street, and a police line formed to stop the march. They again declared an unlawful assembly. The protesters challenged the line, marching towards the police with our own shields in front. The shields, some small and black and a few large metal sheets. The police fired tear-gas as the group approached, and shot less-than-lethal rounds at the crowd. The protesters returned one volley of firecrackers, small projectiles, and funny things like balloons. A very weak attack, 3 officers may have been hit by something but none of them got injured. Tear gas forced many people back. The protesters quickly regrouped, and pressed the line again. This time the police opened fire with flash-grenades, tear gas, paint-filled beanbag shotguns, and rubber bullets.
After the police fired heavily on the protesters, they pushed their line forward and made a few arrests. The protesters regrouped down the block and began to march the other way (followed by police), back to Oscar Grant Plaza.
All of this occurred during the day, but it was that street battle that set the tone for the police response later in the evening. After taking a break in Oscar Grant Plaza, feeding everyone and resting, the group headed out for their evening march. Around 5pm, the group took to the street at 14th and Broadway and began a First-amendment sanctioned march around the city. The police response was very aggressive.
About 15 minutes into the march, the police attempted to kettle the protesters. This march was entirely non-violent; nobody threw shit at the cops and an unlawful assembly was never declared. . This is a very important detail. The march was 1000+ strong, conservatively. The police were very mobile, using 25+ rented 10seater vans to bring the ‘troops’ to the march.
For their first attempt at a kettle, the cops charged the group with police lines from the front and back. They ran towards us aggressively. Us being 1000+ peaceful marching protesters. The group was forced to move up a side street. The police moved quickly to surround the entire area; they formed a line on every street that the side street connected to. Police state status: very efficient. They kettled almost the entire protest in the park near the Fox theater. AFTERWARDS, as in after they surrounded everyone, they declared it to be an unlawful assembly BUT OFFERED NO EXIT ROUTE. Gas was used, could of been tear or smoke gas.
The crowd then broke down a fence that was on one side of the kettle, and 1000 people ran across a field escaping a police kettle and embarrassing the entire police force. It was literally a massive jailbreak from a kettle. The group re-took Telegraph ave. and left the police way behind.
At this point, I was on edge because I knew the police were not fucking around tonight. Because of the incident earlier in the day, I realized they were effectively treating the peaceful march as a riot. There was not rioting, or intentions to riot, just dancing, optimism, hope, and walking. But clearly the police thought differently, and I knew they would try to trap us again without warning. From the moment I saw riot police running towards are march from both directions, I knew the constitution would not apply in Oakland tonight. The police made that very clear. My friends thought differently, thinking that they would not be arrested for marching. They are currently in jail.
The second, and successful, kettle occurred as the protest was headed back up Broadway, at Broadway and 24th. Again, the police appeared quickly in front of the crowd, as well as a line behind the crowd. This time there was no side street. A few people attempted to escape into the YMCA; some mis-infonformed news reports claim that the YMCA got ‘occupied’. Around 300 people were trapped, mostly young people. At this point I had fallen behind the line of riot police in back of the crowd, and when the kettle was sprung I was on the other side of the police line. I have a policy of avoiding arrest, but I feel like I’ve been striped of some dignity. I’ve seen some shit go down in oaktown, but I’ve always avoided arrest because it was easy. Most mass arrests occur when people choose to break the law (like occupying Bank of America in downtown SF and pitching a tent to send a statement to UC Regent Monica Lozano on BofA’s board – respect). At ‘unlawfully assemblies’, people are usually extracted by a quick attack of 5+ cops, and their often ‘targets’ (previously-identified and profiled protesters). If the crowd is too large, they use tear-gas.
Tonight was different. When I fell behind the group, I knew they were going to arrest a very large number of peaceful protesters without declaring an unlawful assembly at the location. And then they did. I thought this shit was reserved for G20’s and WTO meetings. I felt shame for being intimidated away from my rights. ‘Unlawful assemblies’ feel like a boot stomp on the first amendment, but this was like them wiping their ass with the constitution and force feeding it to me.
300+ were arrested, corralled below the YMCA @ 23rd and Broadway. The only announcement that was made was one I’ve never heard before:
“You are under arrest. Submit to your arrest.”
The 300 protesters were then arrested, one by one. They were ziptied and sat in rows while they waited to be processed. OPD set up an entire processing station behind police lines, where they searched and identified every protester. They were slowly loaded onto buses, including local public AC transit buses. This took about 4 or 5 hours.
Outside the police lines, things were still happening. A group that escaped the trap decided to head back to Oscar Grant Plaza. I do not know how, but they opened the front door to city hall and occupied the building. Opened, as in no window smashing. The move was not meant to be an occupation but more of a show of solidarity to the 300 arrested protesters down the street. When all the people being arrested heard the news, they let out a big cheer…
..At this point I ran to Oscar Grant Plaza. When I arrived there were only 8 riot cops guarding the open front door, but more arrived very quickly. No one was inside the building anymore, but many had gathered in the Plaza. Someone burned an American Flag in front of city hall. I’ve seen the same guy do it before; frankly he’s weird and it’s kind of his thing.
One thing to note is the police arrested to wrong part of the protest. Most people arrested were young peaceful types. Aggressive protesters, and anyone with a record, are usually very good at avoiding arrest. Point being, back at the plaza opportunists began their work. I saw some young ‘jugalos’ spray-painting a wall with “jugalos for life” shit and then take photos next to it. They were just young and stupid kids; some good protesters cleaned it up later in the night. Some CBS and FOX news crews forced to leave the scene, with people spanking their van. They had already gotten the footage of someone burning an American Flag in front of city hall, so their work was done. The crowd was angry about what happened, and milling around the plaza and downtown area. At one point, the first of the 9 busloads of protesters drove past 14th and Broadway. People cheered for the ones inside, and chased it down, slamming on the sides of the bus. None of the other buses came past the plaza. There is about 30 police in the immediate area, 20 in front of city hall and 10 near 14th and broadway. Clearly they were stretched thin, and did not expect the city hall incident. Mutual aid been called it; I saw cops from Oakland, Alameda County Sheriff, Pleasanton, and Berkeley.
I walked back down to the 300 arrests in progress to try and get some information or spot my friends, but all I could do was wait and watch from behind the police line. My phone died. Not much happened, a lot of waiting and talking with people who also had friends on the other side. People included one French women who talked about how in France this would never be tolerated, and a teacher of one of Oakland’s 10 schools being closed who was out on his birthday ‘for the kids’. Eventually, I decided I needed to charge my phone, get on the internet, and figure out where and when my friends will be released. Siting down on BART was great after a long day of walking.
I got home and viewed OakfoSho and PunkboyinSf on Ustream to stay posted. OakFoSho filmed the entire arrest from above, I was able to look for my friends from his stream. All props to that guy. I saw that with the new development at Oscar Grant Plaza, they had to call in mutual aid from San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo. They declared the 14th and Broadway an unlawful assembly and slowly dispersed the dwindling crowd. No tear gas this time!
Now that this incident is on-record, I’m gonna get a little sleep, then go pick up my friends from jail.
If you only remember one detail be it this: Tonight’s mass arrest occurred without a dispersal order. No law was broken. The only order given was: “You are under arrest. Submit to your arrest.” 300 peaceful protesters walking down a street were trapped and arrested unlawfully.
A note about police militarization: I saw some big guns and scary gear tonight. Alameda County Sheriff seems to have an endless budget for that shit. But tonight I saw something much scarier, that I’ve never seen before. First, I saw that the police have a printed profile books of protesters. I saw a cop flipping through pictures with descriptions, talking about who on their list they’ve seen today. When resting in Oscar Grant Plaza, a cop was filming the plaza from a rooftop in an adjacent building. They’re always filming, some have cameras on their bodies now, but this was clear spying and sophisticated intelligence gathering and analysis. Second, a very large tank on wheels, with a water cannon on top, rolled on scene. Someone said it was called a “grizzly”, but I can’t find a photo anywhere. help? It was massive, and I stood right next to it before they brought it behind police lines. It was a hardcore, modern urban tank. The police are funded and prepared to use a water cannon on protesters, if need be. Know that.
The thing about Occupy, and especially Occupy Oakland, is it refuses to exclude. We are the 99%, and we mean it. The homeless and disenfranchised were welcome in the camp from day 1. The crime rate in Downtown Oakland went down, and some people finally had a safe place to sleep. Idealistic youth, google techies, students, teachers, parents, children, poor, homeless, workers, all coming together. It rekindled hope for a lot of people. Occupy changed the conversation. The idea is more important than any one protest. An idea cannot be stopped. It is no longer about occupations; instead, it’s about bringing people together. The 99%, all with their own problems and concerns, have brought their collective attention to the root of the forces preventing them from making a better world.
A lot of the people arrested today were my peers…a lot of young people and students. For us, the occupy movement can’t be diminished or co-opted…it’s bigger than occupy. I will seek the changes I marched for tonight until I win or die. It is the task of my generation, worldwide, to return power to the people. Governments around the world are quickly realizing that our generation will not back down. This is bigger than ‘occupy’, this is bigger than one country, one problem, or one protest. The people want their world back. We are fighting for our future, and we are winning.
Edit: Forgot to add this context – The Oakland PD will soon be taken over by the Feds because of their poor conduct and inability to change: http://www.baycitizen.org/policing/story/judge-strips-power-oakland-police/

Posted by Boogie Man at 10:10 AM

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Shale-shocked: Fracking gets its own Occupy movement

From Al Jazeera:  http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/01/20121239716551183.html

Strong opposition to “fracking” in New York State has resulted in a “little revolution”.

Ellen Cantarow
27 Jan 2012

Boston, MA – This is a story about water, the land surrounding it, and the lives it sustains. Clean water should be a right: There is no life without it. New York is what you might call a “water state”. Its rivers and their tributaries only start with the St Lawrence, the Hudson, the Delaware, and the Susquehanna. The best known of its lakes are Great Lakes Erie and Ontario, Lake George, and the Finger Lakes. Its brooks, creeks, and trout streams are fishermen’s lore.

Far below this rippling wealth there’s a vast, rocky netherworld named the Marcellus Shale. Stretching through southern New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, the shale contains bubbles of methane, the remains of life that died 400 million years ago. Gas corporations have lusted for the methane in the Marcellus since at least 1967, when one of them plotted with the Atomic Energy Agency to explode a nuclear bomb to unleash it. That idea died, but it’s been reborn in the form of a technology exploited by energy giants such as Halliburton Corporation: High-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing – “fracking” for short.

Fracking uses prodigious amounts of water laced with sand and a startling menu of poisonous chemicals to blast the methane out of the shale. At hyperbaric bomb-like pressures, this technology propels five to seven million gallons of sand-and-chemical-laced water a mile or so down a well bore into the shale.

Up comes the methane – along with about a million gallons of wastewater containing the original fracking chemicals and other substances that were also in the shale, among them radioactive elements and carcinogens. There are 400,000 such wells in the United States. Surrounded by rumbling machinery, serviced by tens of thousands of diesel trucks, this nightmare technology for energy release has turned rural areas in 34 US states into toxic industrial zones.

Shale gas isn’t the conventional kind that lit your grandmother’s stove. It’s one of those “extreme energy” forms so difficult to produce that merely accessing them poses unprecedented dangers to the planet. In every fracking state but New York, where a moratorium against the process has been in effect since 2010, the gas industry has contaminated ground water, sickened people, poisoned livestock, and killed wildlife.

Fears that ‘fracking’ causes Ohio earthquakes

At a time when the International Energy Agency reports that we have five more years of fossil-fuel use at current levels before the planet goes into irreversible climate change, fracking has a greenhouse gas footprint larger than that of coal. And with the greatest water crisis in human history underway, fracking injects mind-numbing quantities of purposely poisoned fresh water into the Earth. As for the trillions (repeat: trillions) of gallons of wastewater generated by the industry, getting rid of it is its own story. Fracking has also been linked to earthquakes: Eleven in Ohio alone (normally not an earthquake zone) over the past year.

Continue reading at:  http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/01/20121239716551183.html

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The Siren Call of Austerity

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/01/28-8

by David Cay Johnston
Published on Saturday, January 28, 2012 by Reuters

The World Economic Forum opened in Davos amid choruses of central bankers and economists calling for governments to cut spending.

This message of austerity is like the call of the ancient Sirens, whose music lured sailors to shipwreck.

We should take a lesson from Odysseus, who poured wax into the ears of his crew and had himself lashed to the mast of his ship to resist the Siren call.

Austerity supporters are selling the idea that governments, like families, must cut back when income shrinks. But economically, governments are not like families.

Firing teachers, cops and government clerks will, for sure, reduce public spending. But budgets, like the song of the Sirens, are only part of the story. Listen only to the alluring lyrics and, like the many voyagers before Odysseus, we will suffer disastrous consequences – in our case falling incomes and worsening economies.

The full economic story begins with this principle taught to every economics student: spending equals income and income equals spending. Cut spending and incomes must fall; cut incomes and spending must fall.

Those who disagree with this say that only private spending can create wealth and that government spending is inefficient. I think the first argument is wrong, but the second is often true, which is why citizens need to pay close attention to their government.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/01/28-8

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Dept. of Eating: I, Vegan

From Boston.com: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/health_stew/2011/12/dept_of_eating_i_vegan.html?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed7

Posted by John McDonough
December 26, 2011

Those of you who have been trying to figure out if I’m a kook — here is your answer.

This coming Sunday, January 1, will be the third anniversary since my wife and I switched to fairly strict “whole grain/plant based” diet, also known as “vegan.”  I am as surprised as anyone.

On the one hand, so what? It’s just what we eat. Nobody’s business but our own. And yet, as I have gotten more knowledgeable about this nutritional choice, the meaning and implications keep growing. In my first post here at boston.com, I disclosed my interest in the intersection of nutrition, food policy, and health policy. During this coming week or so, I will put up a few posts laying out my thinking in various ways. This first one presents a bit of my personal story.

Until age 55, my life involved the standard American diet of sugar, fat and salt adorned with flavors and spices.  By 2008, I needed a change.  My weight had climbed to about 195 and my body mass index showed that I was officially overweight.  My health provider, Harvard Vanguard, sent me a note warning that my cholesterol was climbing to 200 and I should do something – diet, exercise, something.

“Vegan” appeared on my radar screen in several ways.  My step-daughter, Jax, had gone vegan six years before.  She was good about it, not preachy or judgmental – sometimes called “vegan-gelical.”  In 2007, I learned from another blog, “Life as a Health Care CIO,” that Beth Israel Deaconess Chief Information Officer John Halamka had been vegan for nearly 10 years with dramatically positive results.  I read a few books on the topic, notably “The Face on Your Plate” by Jeffrey Masson.  I also discovered that the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine had started a program called their 21-day vegan “Kickstart” which provides online help to try a vegan diet for just three weeks (next one starts on January 2nd).

Continue reading at:  http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/health_stew/2011/12/dept_of_eating_i_vegan.html?p1=Well_MostPop_Emailed7

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A Few Bad Apples from Apple Computer

I’ve never been all that enthralled with Apple’s product line.  I was a line tech and service tech in the 1980s and though their approach to building a PC was pretty lame.  I also thought pointing at pictures and having to push a variety of keys instead of just typing a command after the command prompt was over rated.

BTW I just checked and even with Windows 7 I can pull up that command prompt.  I can also build a custom PC from off the shelf parts and you can’t do that with a Mac.

But mostly Apple has always had a scummy corporate attitude.  When it comes to abuses of off-shore techno slaves their treatment of workers is worse than Nike.

Their attitudes towards American workers is contemptible.

Perhaps it is time to consider letting Apple lose the American Market.

I don’t need a fucking iPod, iPhone, or iPad to make my life complete and besides I don’t think owning them makes you cool.  It just sort of makes you a stupid slave to fashion  like those people who stand in line to buy the latest Air Jordans.

Apple’s Foreign Suppliers Demonstrate Widespread Scamming and Horrific Abuse of Employees

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/story/153824/apple%27s_foreign_suppliers_demonstrate_widespread_scamming_and_horrific_abuse_of_employees?akid=8162.304909.4RcCZs&rd=1&t=8

Apple’s bombshell report on its suppliers shows anti-employee practices as common as iPods. White collar criminologist William K. Black investigates.

By William K. Black
January 20, 2012

Apple has released a report on working conditions in its suppliers’ factories, highlighting a form of control fraud (fraud in which the head of a company subverts it for personal gain) that criminology has identified but rarely discussed.  I write overwhelmingly about accounting control fraud because it drives our recurrent, intensifying financial crises.  The primary intended victims of accounting control frauds are the shareholders and the creditors.  Other private sector control frauds target customers (e.g., George Akerlof’s 1970 article on “lemons”), and the public (e.g., the unlawful disposal of toxic waste, illegal logging, and tax fraud).

Anti-employee control frauds most commonly fall into four broad, but not mutually exclusive, categories – illegal work conditions due to violation of safety rules, violation of child labor laws, failure to pay employees’ wages and benefits, and frauds based on goods and loans provided by the employer to the employee that lock the employee into quasi-slavery.  Apple has just released a report on its suppliers that shows that anti-employee control fraud is the norm.  Remember, fraud is hidden and is often not discovered and Apple did not have an incentive to make an exhaustive investigation.  Apple calls its inquiries “audits” and it is apparent that most of its information comes from reviewing written and electronic records at its suppliers.  That is exceptionally revealing.  The suppliers know that they can defraud their employees with such impunity that they don’t even bother to get rid of records that prove their frauds.  Apple has resisted making public its suppliers and the report refused to identify which suppliers committed which violations – often for years despite repeated, false promises to end their anti-employee control frauds.  Two other facts are evident (but not reported).  First, Apple rarely terminates suppliers for defrauding their employees – even when the frauds endanger the lives and health of the workers and the community – and even where Apple knows that the supplier repeatedly lies to Apple about these fraudulent and lethal practices.  Second, it appears unlikely in the extreme that Apple makes criminal referrals on its suppliers even when they commit anti-employee control frauds as a routine practice, even when the frauds endanger the worker’s and the public’s health, and even when the supplier repeatedly lies to Apple about the frauds.  Apple’s report, therefore, understates substantially the actual incidence of fraud by the 156 suppliers (accounting for 97% of its payments to suppliers). From the New York Times:

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/story/153824/apple%27s_foreign_suppliers_demonstrate_widespread_scamming_and_horrific_abuse_of_employees?akid=8162.304909.4RcCZs&rd=1&t=8

How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work

From The New York Times:   http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/business/apple-america-and-a-squeezed-middle-class.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

By and
Published: January 21, 2012

When Barack Obama joined Silicon Valley’s top luminaries for dinner in Californialast February, each guest was asked to come with a question for the president.

But as Steven P. Jobs of Apple spoke, President Obama interrupted with an inquiry of his own: what would it take to make iPhones in the United States?

Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.

Why can’t that work come home? Mr. Obama asked.

Mr. Jobs’s reply was unambiguous. “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” he said, according to another dinner guest.

The president’s question touched upon a central conviction at Apple. It isn’t just that workers are cheaper abroad. Rather, Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/business/apple-america-and-a-squeezed-middle-class.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

Apple’s mind-bogglingly greedy and evil license agreement

From Ziff Davis Net:  http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/apples-mind-bogglingly-greedy-and-evil-license-agreement/4360?tag=nl.e539

By
January 19, 2012

Summary: Over the years, I have read hundreds of license agreements, looking for little gotchas and clear descriptions of rights. But I have never, ever seen a legal document like the one Apple has attached to its new iBooks Author program.

Follow-up: How Apple is sabotaging an open standard for digital books

I read EULAs so you don’t have to. I’ve spent years reading end user license agreements, EULAs, looking for little gotchas or just trying to figure out what the agreement allows and doesn’t allow.

I have never seen a EULA as mind-bogglingly greedy and evil as Apple’s EULA for its new ebook authoring program.

Dan Wineman calls it “unprecedented audacity” on Apple’s part. For people like me, who write and sell books, access to multiple markets is essential. But that’s prohibited:

Apple, in this EULA, is claiming a right not just to its software, but to its software’s output. It’s akin to Microsoft trying to restrict what people can do with Word documents, or Adobe declaring that if you use Photoshop to export a JPEG, you can’t freely sell it to Getty. As far as I know, in the consumer software industry, this practice is unprecedented.

Exactly: Imagine if Microsoft said you had to pay them 30% of your speaking fees if you used a PowerPoint deck in a speech.

Continue reading at:  http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/apples-mind-bogglingly-greedy-and-evil-license-agreement/4360?tag=nl.e539

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