Friday Night Fun and Culture: Carolyn Hester

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Occupy Santa Cruz Raises The Stakes

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U.N. Envoy: U.S. Isn’t Protecting Occupy Protesters’ Rights

From Huffington Post:

First Posted: 12/ 2/11

WASHINGTON — The United Nations envoy for freedom of expression is drafting an official communication to the U.S. government demanding to know why federal officials are not protecting the rights of Occupy demonstrators whose protests are being disbanded — sometimes violently — by local authorities.

Frank La Rue, who serves as the U.N. “special rapporteur” for the protection of free expression, told HuffPost in an interview that the crackdowns against Occupy protesters appear to be violating their human and constitutional rights.

“I believe in city ordinances and I believe in maintaining urban order,” he said Thursday. “But on the other hand I also believe that the state — in this case the federal state — has an obligation to protect and promote human rights.”

“If I were going to pit a city ordinance against human rights, I would always take human rights,” he continued.

La Rue, a longtime Guatemalan human rights activist who has held his U.N. post for three years, said it’s clear to him that the protesters have a right to occupy public spaces “as long as that doesn’t severely affect the rights of others.”

In moments of crisis, governments often default to a forceful response instead of a dialogue, he said — but that’s a mistake.

“Citizens have the right to dissent with the authorities, and there’s no need to use public force to silence that dissension,” he said.

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US war vet gets arrested at Occupy LA

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December 1: Hartmann: Massive strike shuts down UK – Winter of Discontent?

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Fox News Suggests Second Amendment Remedies Be Used Against OWS

From PoliticusUSA:

December 1, 2011

The violent response to the Occupy movement from law enforcement in cities across America is shameful and calls into question the adherence of the 1st Amendment’s guarantee that government cannot interfere with the people’s “right to peaceably assemble or prohibit the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.”  It is becoming obvious that mayors in larger cities have little regard for the constitutional rights of the protestors who have been clubbed, pepper sprayed, and sustained major injuries from tear-gas canisters fired by riot-clad police officers for peaceably assembling. Thus far, none of the protestors have been gunned down by the police but that does not mean there are not Americans panting to use firearms to stop the Occupy movement.On Tuesday’s edition of Fox News’ The Five, one of the members of the panel suggested the occupiers should beware of gun-slinging Americans who oppose the Occupy movement. It is nothing new for Fox to encourage their listeners to consider 2nd Amendment remedies for any number of perceived grievances, but suggesting that Americans shoot peaceful protestors has crossed the line.

The Fox panel was discussing families in Arizona who posed for Christmas card photos with Santa Claus while the parents and children held a variety of firearms. Now, it is unclear what the relationship Christmas, Santa Claus, families, and machine guns is about, but perhaps in Arizona it is a custom to associate the birth of Jesus Christ with bazookas and AK-47s. One of the panel members, Greg Gutfeld, was commenting on how awesome it is that Americans have a love-affair with guns and how he likes that it “scares the hell out of visiting Europeans who already think we’re crazy people and they think my god, we’re never invading this country.” Gutfeld is correct; Europeans do think Americans are violent nut-jobs for the wild-west mentality that guns solve all problems, but he could not help but throw out a not-so-veiled threat at the Occupy movement. He continued that, “plus, it’s a reminder to all you Occupy Wall Streeters that if there is a revolution, the other side is better armed.” One of the women panelists added that, “we have better weapons.” Wait, what? Who said the Occupy movement was armed or considering a violent revolution?

Gutfeld misses the point of the Occupy movement and their peaceful protests to call attention to the crippling income inequality in this country. There have been no calls or hints of violent revolution from the occupiers and the bigger point Gutfeld, and indeed all of Fox News, misses is that the Occupy movement represents 99% of America. Gutfeld is certainly not a member of the one percent so his comment that the “other side” is better armed must refer to uber-wealthy Americans controlling the policies that are responsible for the income disparity between the 1% and the rest of America. However, there are ignorant Americans (Fox News viewers) who somehow perceive the occupy movement as a threat to conservative ideology and would begin shooting peaceful protestors if given permission from a fanatical conservative. Enter Ann Coulter.

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You Can Arrest an Idea

From Truth Dig:

By Robert Scheer
Posted on Dec 1, 2011

The bankers slept well. Their homes in Beverly Hills were not spotlighted by a noisy swarm of police helicopters, searchlights burning through the sanctity of the night, harassing the forlorn City Hall encampment of those who dared protest the banks’ seizure of our government. I live within sight of the iconic Los Angeles City Hall, and at first I thought it was being used once again as a movie location, given the massive police presence, as if an alien invasion was being thwarted.

Not eager to test the resilience of my new heart valve, I hesitated until the first crack of dawn to visit the place where former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and I had spoken weeks before at a teach-in on the origins of the economic crisis. I described the scene back then as a Jeffersonian moment, exactly the kind of peaceful assembly to redress grievances that the Founders of our nation enshrined in the Bill of Rights. But at 5 a.m. Wednesday there was only a graveyard of democratic hope. The protesters were gone, 200 arrested for exercising their constitutional rights, and only the television crews stayed to pick over the carcass of tents, books and posters, including one I pulled from the debris that read “99% you can’t arrest an idea.” Actually, you can, and the bankers have, as a result, been able to reoccupy Los Angeles’ City Hall and every other contested outpost of power throughout the nation.

The liberal Democratic mayor, a past president of the Southern California ACLU, was pleased with the efficiency of the “community policing” approach of his police department. “I said that here in L.A. we’d chart a different path, and we did,” Antonio Villaraigosa boasted. However, the result was the same as elsewhere; the bankers were protected from the scorn they so richly deserve and there will no longer be a visible monument to the pain that they have caused. To ensure a pristine, amoral town square, huge concrete-anchored fences were quickly installed to prevent further access to the public space surrounding City Hall.

Of course the traditional cardboard encampments of the homeless three blocks away, a sprawling and constant feature of life in downtown Los Angeles, remained undisturbed. Sanitation and safety issues are of no concern as long as such manifestations of deep societal inequality are so far from the corridors of power as to be, in effect, invisible.

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