Democratic National Convention Host Charlotte Proposes Law Aimed At Banning Occupy Encampments

From The Huffington Post:

12/ 9/11

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When the Democratic National Committee picked Charlotte to host its September 2012 convention, city leaders saw it as a boost to the local service economy. Hotels would be filled, restaurants would be booked, and party spaces would be rented. Up until a few months ago, officials only had to worry about the would-be traffic congestion on Trade Street as lobbyists shuffled to the next cocktail party. But now, they have to be concerned about feistier visitors known as Occupy Wall Street.

If Charlotte officials fear having another Chicago ’68 on their hands, they’re hoping to take one essential weapon out of the hands of activists: their tents. On Oct. 27, the Charlotte city manager released a draft ordinance that makes camping on public property a “public nuisance” and would prohibit “noxious substances,” padlocks and other camping equipment that city officials fear could impede traffic and create public safety issues.

The Charlotte City Council has not yet voted on the ordinance, and some argue its language is vague and may violate First Amendment rights. “If the ordinance is passed, it is possible that its constitutionality will be challenged,” wrote Isaac Sturgill, director of the Charlotte School of Law chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, in an editorial that will run in the Charlotte alternative weekly Creative Loafing on Dec. 13. “There is also the potential for increased confrontation between protesters and police.”

Occupy Charlotte formed on Oct. 1 with a march on Bank of America’s headquarters, though the encampment at the Old City Hall on Trade Street downtown didn’t begin until Oct. 8. Two months in, the occupation has established a sprawling campus that contained roughly 50 tents at its height. Despite its location directly across the street from Charlotte police headquarters, relations between cops and protesters have been respectful. Police have arrested twelve activists — the majority stemming from a Rainforest Action Network protest on Nov. 15 after demonstrators hung an anti-coal banner from Bank of America’s flagpoles and blocked an entrance.

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World ‘heading for 3.5 C warming’: study

From Raw Story:

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Current pledges for curbing carbon emissions will doom the world to global warming of 3.5 C, massively overshooting the UN target of 2 C, researchers reported at the climate talks here on Tuesday.

Output of heat-trapping carbon gases is rising so fast that governments have only four years left to avert a massive extra bill for meeting the two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) target, they said.

“The current pledges are heading towards a global emissionspathway that will take warming to 3.5 C goal (6.3 F),” according to an estimate issued by a consortium of German researchers.

The world is on a “high-warming, high-cost, high-risk pathway,” they said.

The report, compiled by Climate Analytics and Ecofys, which are German firms that specialise in carbon data, was issued on the sidelines of the 194-nation UN talks in Durban. The 12-day conference runs until Friday.

The 2 C (3.6 F) goal, initiated at the stormy Copenhagen Summit of 2009, was enshrined at last year’s conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) along with a less feasible target of 1.5 C (2.7 F).

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U.K. Announces Plan to Advance Trans Rights

From The Advocate:

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone says the U.K. government will mandate longer sentences for anti-trans murders and address school, workplace, and health care issues.

By Trudy Ring
December 8, 2011

Transgender rights got a boost in the United Kingdom today, with Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone announcing a plan to address hate crimes, workplace discrimination, and harassment in schools.

“Too many transgender people still face prejudice at every stage of their lives, from playground bullying to being overlooked for jobs or targeted for crime,” Featherstone said, according to Pink News. “I am proud to announce the first government strategy to tackle the specific barriers facing transgender people.”

The plan commits the government to raising the minimum sentence from 15 to 30 years for murders motivated by the victim’s transgender status. It also includes in-school support for transgender students, transgender-inclusive recruitment advice for businesses, and the publication of guidelines for health care professionals treating trans people.

“Today is an important step, but I recognize that government can only go so far,” Featherstone said. “So we will be working with schools, businesses and communities so that together, we can drive change and help consign transphobia to the past.”

Complete article at:

Government launches first-ever action plan to advance transgender equality

From Pink News UK:

8 December 2011

For the first time, the UK government has launched an action plan to tackle the inequalities facing transgender people in society.

Entitled “Advancing transgender equality: a plan for action” and released by the Home Office today, it promises tougher sentences for hate crimes, support for trans pupils in schools, and tailored recruitment advice for businesses.

Statistics show that 70 per cent of children who are uncertain about their gender suffer bullying, and 88 per cent of transgender employees experience discrimination or harassment in their workplace.

In September, the police reported a 14% rise in transphobic hate crime across the UK from 2009 to 2010.

The Home Office said the document is intended to create a framework for communities to work with the government to challenge and overcome persisting inequalities.

The government’s online surveys this year received 2,172 responses from the trans community, the largest form of engagement with the group ever conducted in the UK.

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said: “Too many transgender people still face prejudice at every stage of their lives, from playground bullying, to being overlooked for jobs or targeted for crime.

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How the US Is Undermining Critical Climate Talks and Putting the World in Jeopardy

From Alternet:

The only thing the U.S. brought to the table was a wrecking ball. This isn’t just a delay, it’s a death sentence.

By Jamie Henn
December 8, 2011

The U.N. climate talks desperately need a crisis. For the last 10 days, negotiations here in Durban, South Africa, have made little progress on the fundamental challenge these talks were set up to confront: how the world can come together to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Instead, the pace of negotiations has been set by the one country the rest of the world should be turning their back on: the United States.

The U.S. never signed the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding international agreement designed to reduce emissions, but it is allowed to take part in the negotiations in a separate track dedicated to securing a long-term climate agreement. After President Obama’s election, the international community had high hopes the new administration would bring a new sense of ambition and commitment to talks.

Instead, the only thing the U.S. brought to the table was a wrecking ball. Rather than standing out of the way and letting the rest of the world get on with setting up an international architecture to facilitate cutting emissions, stopping deforestation, and investing in renewable energy, the U.S. has spent the years since Copenhagen attempting to systemically dismantle the U.N. process.

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Seattle WTO Shutdown ’99 to Occupy: Organizing to Win 12 Years Later

From The Indypendent:

By David Solnit
December 5, 2011

It’s 3 a.m. on Nov. 30 in San Francisco. Riot cops just raided Occupy Philly and Occupy Los Angeles tonight and the live streams are running on my laptop. We are preparing for a possible raid of Occupy San Francisco tonight or tomorrow. I’m talking back and forth with other occupiers and labor, community and faith allies, deciding whether to call for a mass mobilization tonight and to prepare for mass civil disobedience.

On the same date twelve years earlier thousands of us got up before dawn to blockade and shut down the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. As dusk fell the city declared a “state of emergency” in the downtown section of the city and drove people out with volleys of teargas and charges of riot cops. The next day, Dec. 1, thousands of us defied their martial law and took to the streets and hundreds were arrested and attacked. People stayed in the streets all week until Dec. 3, when the WTO talks collapsed as representatives from poor countries, bolstered by public rebellion in the streets and pressure from movements in their home countries, refused to buckle under. It feels like a similar moment now with political space and possibility breaking wide open — a time of public and global uprising — only bigger.

On Monday I was at University of California Davis as students and workers defiantly took over the University of California Regents Meeting at Davis (and simultaneously at other campuses) with a “People’s Regents Meeting” facilitated as a directly democratic general assembly which the two Student Regent representatives participated in — while outside the meeting other students occupied the Hahn administration building overnight.

In England millions of public sector workers are striking. In Egypt port workers refuse to unload shipment of tear gas from the United States.

On Sunday we met to develop a plan for mass action in San Francisco’s financial district in January. This Saturday an Occupy Housing mass march and actions will mark a deepening of the occupy movement in our city, as well as the powerful involvement of tenant and homeowner groups from four neighborhoods — Bayview, Castro, Mission and Tenderloin — will take action with their neighbors facing foreclosure or eviction against the neighborhood branch of the big banks that profit from evictions and foreclosures. Then all four groups will converge on Occupy San Francisco in the financial district (nicknamed for many decades, “Wall St. West”) for a mass march and action.

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Occupy plans to shut down US west coast ports

From The Guardian UK:

Action relates to union battle over Longview terminal – though union itself has disowned the planned shutdown
, Friday 9 December 2011

The Occupy movement will attempt to shut down all the major ports on the west coast of the US in support of a union battle in Longview, Washington, despite the union opposing the action.

Thousands of protesters from various west coast occupations are expected to take part on Monday 12 December. The action is intended to support a long-running International Longshore Workers’ Union (ILWU) fight to prevent a terminal operator using workers from a different union.

However, a row has broken out in advance of the shutdown, with the ILWU asking Occupy protesters to call off the action.

Occupy Oakland, which organised a “general strike” and shut down Oakland’s port in early November, has partnered with occupations including Portland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Tacoma and Seattle in a bid to stop all port activity on America’s west coast.

Protesters will march to port terminals and create picket lines in the same way Occupy Oakland did last month, aware that local ILWU arbitrators are then likely to rule that longshore workers should not cross the lines for safety reasons.

“The West Coast ports will be blockaded on December 12th in solidarity with longshoremen and port truckers struggles against EGT and Goldman Sachs,” the west coast port shutdown website says.

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Can You Tell The Difference Between A Men’s Magazine And A Rapist?

From Jezebel:

By Anna North
December 9, 2011

Well, this is upsetting. According to a new study, people can’t tell the difference between quotes from British “lad mags” and interviews with convicted rapists. And given the choice, men are actually more likely to agree with the rapists.

The University of Surrey reports on the study, to be published in the British Journal of Psychology. Researchers gave a group of men and women quotes from the British lad mags FHM, Loaded, Nuts and Zoo, as well as excerpts from interviews with actual convicted rapists originally published in the book The Rapist Files. The participants couldn’t reliably identify which statements came from magazines and which from rapists — what’s more, they rated the magazine quotes as slightly more derogatory than the statements made by men serving time for raping women. The researchers also showed both sets of quotes to a separate group of men — the men were more likely to identify with the rapists’ statements than the lad mag excerpts. The only slightly bright spot in the study: when researchers randomly (and sometimes incorrectly) labelled the quotes as coming from either rapists or magazines, the men were more likely to identify with the ones allegedly drawn from mags. At least they didn’t want to agree with rapists.

Still, the results as a whole are pretty disturbing. Says lead study author Dr. Miranda Horvath, “We were surprised that participants identified more with the rapists’ quotes, and we are concerned that the legitimisation strategies that rapists deploy when they talk about women are more familiar to these young men than we had anticipated.” Her co-author Dr. Peter Hegarty adds:

There is a fundamental concern that the content of such magazines normalises the treatment of women as sexual objects. We are not killjoys or prudes who think that there should be no sexual information and media for young people. But are teenage boys and young men best prepared for fulfilling love and sex when they normalise views about women that are disturbingly close to those mirrored in the language of sexual offenders?

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Slow Learners

From The New York Times:

Paul Krugman
December 9, 2011

The WSJ has an article today pointing out that the euro crisis isn’t really about fiscal irresponsibility:

So if public debt is your yardstick, then the Spaniards were paragons of virtue. They borrowed lightly despite the fact that their euro-zone membership gave them an all-you-can-eat buffet of financing at bargain-basement rates.

As Europe scrambles to find a solution to a debt crisis that’s threatening the world economy, it’s crucial to understand what actually happened in countries like Spain. Otherwise, policymakers will end up prescribing the wrong medicine, with disastrous results.

That’s all true, and I’m glad to see it in the WSJ. But it’s presented as a startling insight, one that runs contrary to what everyone thinks. And that’s amazing and depressing.

I mean, this was obvious from the very beginning. Here’s what I wrote in February 2010:

The biggest trouble spot isn’t Greece, it’s Spain — which was running budget surpluses just a few years ago. True, Spain is running big deficits now — but that’s because of its economic collapse. And underlying that collapse is the real problem with the euro: one-size-fits-all monetary policy, which offers no relief to countries that suffer adverse shocks.

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Bernie Sanders’ New Bid to Overturn Citizens United Ruling

From In These Times:

By Daniel Hertz
Friday Dec 9, 2011

Bernie Sanders, Vermont’s independent senator and the only avowed socialist in the U.S. Senate, announced Thursday afternoon that he has officially proposed a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision from 2010. (Sanders is also an occasional contributor to In These Times.)

That ruling gutted a portion of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, passed in 2002, which forbid electoral advertising by corporations, nonprofits and unions. Reactions to the decision mostly split along partisan lines, with Republicans calling it a blow for the First Amendment and Democrats predicting it would allow corporate influence to undermine the democratic process.

Sanders’ amendment is identical to one introduced by Representative Ted Deutsch (D-Fla.) in the House of Representatives earlier this year. It is not, however, the only amendment aimed at reversing Citizens United. No fewer than five such amendments have been proposed, most recently in November, when half a dozen Democratic senators—including Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate Dems’ second-in-command—filed their own version.

But the competing proposals are far from redundant. Most of the would-be amendments up to this point have simply given the federal government explicit power to regulate election-related spending by candidates, unaffiliated individuals and corporations; the Sanders-Deutsch measure goes much further, declaring that the Constitution only protects the rights of “natural persons,” and not “private entities established for business purposes.”

That kind of language is likely to be supported by many liberals and the Occupy movement, whose general assemblies often feature signs calling for an end to “corporate personhood.” Yet because Sanders’ proposal could be interpreted to deny all organizations—including not-for-profit advocacy groups, religious establishments and unions—any protection under the First Amendment, or the rest of the Constitution, even in nonelectoral circumstances, it will also probably raise vigorous objections from civil libertarians on the right and the left. The ACLU, for example, officially supported the Citizens United decision because it opposed the original (and much less restrictive) limits on speech in the McCain-Feingold law.

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The Underminey Backlash Against Newt, Starring Peggy Noonan

From The Nation:

Ari Melber
December 9, 2011

I love it when Peggy Noonan writes columns like today’s sweet and vicious contemplation of Newt Gingrich. We learn that Gingrich is detested most by those who worked with him—a powerful list of Republicans who are now “burning up the phone lines in Washington” to protest his recent surgelet—and that while there are two ways to view Gingrich, he is, in the end, his own greatest foe: “a human hand grenade who walks around with his hand on the pin, saying, ‘Watch this!’”

Noonan is an influential conservative, of course, a former Reagan scribe who is the closest thing the Wall Street Journal has to Maureen Dowd—a zeitgeist-chasing free-associater who gets some big things right, even if annoyance is the cost of admission. So it’s striking to watch Noonan tick off Gingrich’s accomplishments in the voice of a long-lost underminey friend:

One way to view [Gingrich] is that he is so rich and varied as a character, as geniuses often are, that he contains worlds, multitudes… Another way to look at it: In a long career, one will shift views, adapt to circumstances, tack this way and that. Another way: He’s philosophically unanchored, an unstable element. There are too many storms within him, and he seeks out external storms in order to equalize his own atmosphere. He’s a trouble magnet, a starter of fights that need not be fought. He is the first modern potential president about whom there is too much information.

So many ways to look at it! And bonus points for the TMI reference! But still, what comes through here, and in the growing chorus of influential Newt critics, is that Gingrich’s personal qualities make him not only hard to be near but impossible to rely on. (As one former chief of staff in a Republican White House recently said, “Listen to just about anyone who worked alongside Gingrich and you will hear that he’s inconsistent, erratic, untrustworthy and unprincipled.”) Noonan’s armchair analysis of what drives Gingrich’s unstable tics is interesting. although who knows if it’s true. New Yorkers used to say that Rudy Giuliani was strong during crises, but if there were none for him to tackle, he’d just create his own. Whatever the motivation, does Newt’s instability hold him back?

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Occupy Fort Worth Protester assaulted by police officer

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Jerry Sandusky’s wife posts $250,000 bail following new round of charges

From The Guardian UK:

Sandusky released after spending one night in jail for 12 new counts of sex-abuse charges brought forward by new victims

Associated Press
, Thursday 8 December 2011

Former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky posted bail Thursday after spending a night in jail following a new round of sex-abuse charges filed against him.

Sandusky secured his release using $200,000 in real estate holdings and a $50,000 certified check provided by his wife, Dorothy, according to online court records. Sandusky remained at the facility as of late morning and the warden said he was quiet and cooperative during his overnight stay.

Sandusky was arrested Wednesday and charged with 12 new sex abuse counts involving two new alleged victims. He has maintained his innocence. In all, he faces more than 50 charges.

The latest accusers are the ninth and 10th alleged victims described in grand jury reports that claim Sandusky befriended and then molested boys he met through his Second Mile charity for troubled youth. A grand jury document released Wednesday echoed an earlier report, saying Sandusky gave the boys gifts while also making sexual advances toward them.

One of the new accusers said Sandusky kept him in a basement bedroom during overnight visits to Sandusky’s home, forced him to perform sex acts and assaulted him.

“The victim testified that on at least one occasion he screamed for help, knowing that Sandusky’s wife was upstairs, but no one ever came to help him,” the grand jury report said.

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