Now Playing: Understanding the Consensus process: Tom Hastings
Consensus organizing is really a way of acting andthinking that you can use no matter what career pathyou choose.
From Tom Hastings blog I copied the following on July 9 2012
Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Monday, 9 July 2012
Consensus Organizing - It works
Now Playing: Understanding the Consensus process: Tom Hastings
Wednesday, 4 July 2012
The Idea of a Police State in America - and What Happened
Now Playing: Police State in America - What Happened?
The Idea of America
[copied from an email from WhiskeyandGundpowder.com]
There are occasions in American life -- and they come too often these days -- when you want to scream: "what the heck has happened to this country?!" Everyone encounters events that strike a particular nerve, some egregious violations of the norms for a free country that cut very deeply and personally.
We wonder: do we even remember what it means to be free? If not -- and I think not -- The Idea of America: What It Was and How It Was Lost (hardcover and Kindle), a collection of bracing reminders from our past, as edited by William Bonner and Pierre Lemieux, is the essential book of our time.
I'll just mention two outrages that occur first to me. In the last six months, I came back to the country twice from international travel, once by plane and once by car. The car scene shocked me. The lines were ridiculously long and border control agents, clad in dark glasses and boots and wearing enough weaponry to fight an invading army, run up and down the lines with large dogs. Periodically, US border control would throw open doors of cars and vans and let the dogs run through, while the driver sits there poker faced and trying to stay calm and pretending not to object.
When I finally got to the customs window, I was questioned not like a citizen of the country but like a likely terrorist. The agent wanted to know everything about me: home, work, where I had been and why, and whether I will stay somewhere before getting to my destination, family composition, and other matters that just creeped me out. I realized immediately that there was no question he could ask me that I could refuse to answer, and I had to do this politely.
The second time I entered the country was by plane, and there were two full rescans of bags on the way in, in addition to the passport check, and a long round of questioning. There were no running dogs this time; the passengers were the dogs and we were all on the agents' leashes. Whatever they ordered us to do, we did, no matter how irrational. We moved here and there in locked step and total silence. One step out of line and you are guaranteed to be yelled at. At one point, an armed agent began to talk loudly and with a sense of ridicule about the clothes I was wearing, and went out of his way to make sure everyone else heard him. I could do nothing but smile as if I were being complimented by a friend.
Of course these cases are nothing like the reports you hear almost daily about the abuse and outrages from domestic travel, which now routinely requires everyone to submit to digital strip searches. We have come to expect this. We can hardly escape the presence of the police in our lives. I vaguely remember when I was young that I thought of the police as servants of the people. Now their presence strikes fear in the heart, and they are everywhere, always operating under the presumption that they have total power and you and I have absolutely none.
You hear slogans about the "land of the free" and we still sing patriotic songs at the ballpark and even at church on Sunday, and these songs are always about our blessed liberty, the battles of our ancestors against tyranny, the special love of liberty that animates our heritage and national self identity. The contrast with reality grows starker by the day.
And it isn't just about our personal liberty and our freedom to move about with a sense that we are exercising our rights. It hits us in the economic realm, where no goods or services change hands that aren't subject to the total control of the leviathan state. No business is really safe from being bludgeoned by legislatures, regulators, and the tax police, while objecting only makes you more of a target.
Few dare say it publicly: America has become a police state. All the signs are in place, among which is the world's largest prison population. If we are not a police state, one must ask, what are the indicators that will tell us that we've crossed the line? What are signs we haven't yet seen?
We can debate that all day about when, precisely, the descent began but there can be no doubt when the slide into the despotic abyss became precipitous. It was after the terrorists hit on 9/11 in 2001. The terrorists wanted to deliver a blow to freedom. Our national leaders swore the terrorists would never win, and then spent the following ten years delivering relentless and massive blows to liberty as we had known it.
The decline has been fast but not fast enough for people to be as shocked as they should be. Freedom is a state of being that is difficult to recall once it is gone. We adapt to the new reality, the way people adapt to degenerative diseases, grateful for slight respites from pain and completely despairing of ever feeling healthy and well again.
What's more, all the time we spend obeying, complying, and pretending to be malleable in order to stay out of trouble ends up socializing us and even changing our outlook on life. As in the Orwell novel, we have adjusted to government control as the new normal. The loudspeakers blared that all of this is in the interest of our security and well being. These people who are stripping us, robbing us, humiliating us, impoverishing us are doing it all for our own good. We never fully believe it but the message still affects our outlook.
The editors of The Idea of America are urging a serious national self assessment. They argue that freedom is the only theme that fully and truly animates the traditional American spirit. We are not united in religion, race, and creed, but we do have this wonderful history of rebellion against power in favor of human rights and freedom from tyranny. For this reason the book begins with the essential founding documents, which, if taken seriously, make a case for radical freedom not as something granted by government but as something that we possess as a matter of right.
The love of liberty is rooted in our Colonial past, and it is thrilling to see Murray Rothbard's excellent account of the pre-revolutionary past printed here, with followups to make the point by Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine. Lord Acton makes the next appearance with a clarifying essay about the whole point of the American Revolution, which was not independence as such but liberty. He forcefully argues that the right of secession, the right to annul laws, the right to say no to the tyrant, the right to leave the system, constitute great contribution of America to political history. As you read, you wonder where these voices are today, and what would happen to them if they spoke up in modern versions of the same thoughts. These revolutionaries are pushing ideas that the modern regime seeks to bury and even criminalize.
The voice of the new country and its voluntaristic themes is provided by Alexis de Tocqueville, along with the writings of James Madison. As Bonner and Lemieux argue in their own contributions, the idea of anarchism, that is, living without a state, has always been just beneath the surface of American ideology. Here they bring it to the surface with an essay by proto-anarchist J. Hector St. John Crevecoeur, who said of America: "we have no princes for whom we toil, starve, and bleed: we are the most perfect society now existing in the world."
The anarchist strain continues with marvelous writings by Thomas Jefferson, Henry David Thoreau, Volairine de Cleyre, plus some court decisions reinforcing gun rights. The book ends with another reminder that America is an open society that is welcoming to newcomers. The final choice of Rose Wilder Lane's "Give Me Liberty" is inspired.
The value of this book is dramatically heightened by the additional material from Bonner, whose clear prose and incisive intellect is on display here both in the foreword and the afterword, as well as Lemieux, whose introduction made my blood boil with all his examples of government gone mad in our time. Bonner in particular offers an intriguing possibility that the future of the true America has nothing to do with geography; it exists where the free minds and free hearts exist. The digitization of the world opens up new opportunities for just this.
The contrast is stark: what America was meant to be and what it has become. It is hard to take this kind of careful look. Truly honest appraisals of this sort are rare. Adapting, going along, pretending not to notice are all easier strategies to deal with the grim situation we face. But this is not the way America's founders dealt with their problems. This book might inspire us to think and act more like we should.
We should prepare.
In the words of Thomas Paine:
[Editor's Note: Idea of America is considered a must read here at Agora Financial. The ideas inside are more powerful than any options, stock or bond tip we could ever pass along.
At less than $25 per copy, the book is well worth the small fee. We're not the only ones who think that way...
"I hope everyone will read this to see why America became a great country -- so we can keep it a great country," says Jim Rogers, best-selling author of Adventure Capitalist.
Edward Crane, president of CATO Institute says, "The Idea of America is a gem!"
"This is a superb book," starts reviewer R. Hall, "and gives very good and varied ideas of America in its founding days. Should be recommended reading for all ages, especially in school."
"This book cannot be recommended too highly," says Amazon.com reviewer P. Anderson.
But to celebrate the holiday, we're not asking you to pay $25 for Idea of America. In fact, we've worked out a special way for you to claim a free e-book copy.
It's an offer we've never done before. And one we may never do again.
So go ahead... before you catch the fireworks this evening, take advantage of our generosity this holiday, right here.]
Sunday, 24 June 2012
Damn - drones in portland oregon 2012 WW article
Now Playing: OMG - DRONES in PDX - go back to sleep
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Spying the Friendly Skies
Drone aircraft used for recon in Afghanistan are now in Portland.
IMAGE: Federico Yankelevich
Military surveillance drones of the kind used to spy on Taliban targets for U.S. forces in Afghanistan are now based in Portland, but U.S. government officials are unclear how or when they might be used over the city or elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest.
The Air Force document shows “current and projected” U.S. Defense Department operations involving “remote-piloted aircraft” at two Oregon sites, Arlington and Portland.
It’s already well known that a Boeing subsidiary, Insitu, builds drones in Bingen, Wash., about 70 miles down the Columbia River from its test airfield in Arlington. It is news, however, that Portland is a home to drones, although the specific location where they are stored remains undisclosed by the military.
A spokesman for U.S. Special Operations Command listed as the drone operator told WW in an email that the Air Force map contained inaccurate information. “U.S. Special Operations Command does not have nor will it have [a drone] base in Portland,” wrote deputy public affairs officer Ken McGraw.
But U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) confirms the drones are already here.
“Portland is basically a storage area for a few small drones attached to a nearby military group, neither of which are proposed launching sites for drones,” Wyden said in a statement to WW. “However, in the event of a natural disaster or other legitimate need, they could be launched from there, but it is inappropriate to say that they are primarily launch sites.”
The rapidly expanding domestic presence of remote-controlled spy planes—often without public knowledge or debate—is already sparking controversy. “We have a right to be concerned that the military is bringing drones home,” says Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the speech, privacy and technology program of the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C.
This year’s Federal Aviation Administration budget bill requires the agency to speed up plans for civilian drone use in the U.S. The FAA estimates 30,000 civilian law enforcement drones might be flying by 2030.
Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy organization, says the FAA bill will make the rollout of drone use less deliberative.
“We have no information on the drones public entities are flying, how many they have and where they’re authorized to fly,” Lynch says. “I think that’s pretty concerning.”
Wyden pushed the FAA bill. In 2009, Wyden backed a $3.2 million earmark for Insitu. Its parent, Boeing, donated $10,000 to Wyden’s campaign fund in 2009 and 2010.
Wyden spokesman Tom Towslee says the senator’s support for domestic drone use is no sign he is weakening his opposition to warrantless wiretapping, cellphone tracking and other surveillance programs that raise civil liberties issues. He calls his boss a “privacy hawk.”
“We’re not going down this road with the idea that this is going to be used to spy on people,” Towslee says. “It’s an economic development issue. It’s a jobs issue.”
The Air Force document indicates Portland could become home to the Raven and the Wasp, two small, hand-launched surveillance drones made by Monrovia, Calif.-based AeroVironment. The Wasp—weighing just under 16 ounces with a 28-inch wingspan—comes loaded with optical and infrared cameras. The larger Raven—with a 54-inch wingspan—has a longer range. Both have been used for reconnaissance and spying in Afghanistan.
The Oregon Army National Guard’s 41st Special Troops Battalion has a drone operator in Pendleton. A spokesperson at the Oregon Military Department didn’t return WW’s call.
In Seattle, the police chief came under fire this year for testing a surveillance drone without approval from the City Council. Houston police also reportedly conducted secret drone tests, and state police in Texas used a Wasp drone during the execution of a search warrant.
The Portland Police Bureau isn’t using drones, but The Rap Sheet, the Portland Police Association’s newsletter, republished an article about building pressure on local police to deploy drones.
An April 2012 Air Force policy directive says domestic drone flights may not target U.S. citizens, but information “incidentally” acquired will be provided to federal or local law enforcement agencies.
John Villasenor, a professor of electrical engineering at UCLA who has written papers on the policy implications of drone use for the Brookings Institution, says drones’ powerful and constant spying capabilities make current laws and precedents on aerial surveillance obsolete.
“Drones are part of this inexorable growth in technologies that are logging almost anything that we do,” Villasenor says. “It’s a sobering time for those of us who came of age in a world where we could move about without necessarily having someone perform surveillance on us.”
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Human Trafficking - Tips to watch out for
Now Playing: Help Stop Human Trafficking - tips and suggetstions
20 Ways You Can Help
Fight Human Trafficking
After first learning about human trafficking, many people want to help in some way but do not know how.
Here are just a few ideas for your consideration.
This page was copied and pasted here within the fair use laws from this URL link:
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
The Poor are the ones preyed upon by big corporations and Governemnt
Now Playing: Tax the poor, Steal from the poor, Jail the poor .... and more
Topic: FAILURE by the GOVERNMENT
Preying on Poverty: How Government and Corporations Use the Poor as Piggy Banks
Individually the poor are not too tempting to thieves, for obvious reasons. Mug a banker and you might score a wallet containing a month’s rent. Mug a janitor and you will be lucky to get away with bus fare to flee the crime scene. But as Business Week helpfully pointed out in 2007, the poor in aggregate provide a juicy target for anyone depraved enough to make a business of stealing from them
The trick is to rob them in ways that are systematic, impersonal, and almost impossible to trace to individual perpetrators. Employers, for example, can simply program their computers to shave a few dollars off each paycheck, or they can require workers to show up 30 minutes or more before the time clock starts ticking.Lenders, including major credit companies as well as payday lenders, have taken over the traditional role of the street-corner loan shark, charging the poor insanely high rates of interest.
When supplemented with late fees (themselves subject to interest), the resulting effective interest rate can be as high as 600% a year, which is perfectly legal in many states.It’s not just the private sector that’s preying on the poor. Local governments are discovering that they can partially make up for declining tax revenues through fines, fees, and other costs imposed on indigent defendants, often for crimes no more dastardly than driving with a suspended license.
And if that seems like an inefficient way to make money, given the high cost of locking people up, a growing number of jurisdictions have taken to charging defendants for their court costs and even the price of occupying a jail cell.The poster case for government persecution of the down-and-out would have to be Edwina Nowlin, a homeless Michigan woman who was jailed in 2009 for failing to pay $104 a month to cover the room-and-board charges for her 16-year-old son’s incarceration. When she received a back paycheck, she thought it would allow her to pay for her son’s jail stay.
Instead, it was confiscated and applied to the cost of her own incarceration.Government Joins the Looters of the PoorYou might think that policymakers would take a keen interest in the amounts that are stolen, coerced, or extorted from the poor, but there are no official efforts to track such figures. Instead, we have to turn to independent investigators, like Kim Bobo, author of Wage Theft in America, who estimates that wage theft nets employers at least $100 billion a year and possibly twice that.
As for the profits extracted by the lending industry, Gary Rivlin, who wrote Broke USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc. -- How the Working Poor Became Big Business, says the poor pay an effective surcharge of about $30 billion a year for the financial products they consume and more than twice that if you include subprime credit cards, subprime auto loans, and subprime mortgages.These are not, of course, trivial amounts. They are on the same order of magnitude as major public programs for the poor.
The government distributes about $55 billion a year, for example, through the largest single cash-transfer program for the poor, the Earned Income Tax Credit; at the same time, employers are siphoning off twice that amount, if not more, through wage theft.
And while government generally turns a blind eye to the tens of billions of dollars in exorbitant interest that businesses charge the poor, it is notably chary with public benefits for the poor. Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, for example, our sole remaining nationwide welfare program, gets only $26 billion a year in state and federal funds. The impression is left of a public sector that’s gone totally schizoid: on the one hand, offering safety-net programs for the poor; on the other, enabling large-scale private sector theft from the very people it is supposedly trying to help.
At the local level though, government is increasingly opting to join in the looting. In 2009, a year into the Great Recession,
I first started hearing complaints from community organizers about ever more aggressive levels of law enforcement in low-income areas. Flick a cigarette butt and get arrested for littering; empty your pockets for an officer conducting a stop-and-frisk operation and get cuffed for a few flakes of marijuana. Each of these offenses can result, at a minimum, in a three-figure fine.
And the number of possible criminal offenses leading to jail and/or fines has been multiplying recklessly. All across the country -- from California and Texas to Pennsylvania -- counties and municipalities have been toughening laws against truancy and ratcheting up enforcement, sometimes going so far as to handcuff children found on the streets during school hours. In New York City, it’s now a crime to put your feet up on a subway seat, even if the rest of the car is empty, and a South Carolina woman spent six days in jail when she was unable to pay a $480 fine for the crime of having a “messy yard.” Some cities -- most recently, Houston and Philadelphia -- have made it a crime to share food with indigent people in public places.Being poor itself is not yet a crime, but in at least a third of the states, being in debt can now land you in jail. If a creditor like a landlord or credit card company has a court summons issued for you and you fail to show up on your appointed court date, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
And it is easy enough to miss a court summons, which may have been delivered to the wrong address or, in the case of some bottom-feeding bill collectors, simply tossed in the garbage -- a practice so common that the industry even has a term for it: “sewer service.” In a sequence that National Public Radio reports is “increasingly common,” a person is stopped for some minor traffic offense -- having a noisy muffler, say, or broken brake light -- at which point the officer discovers the warrant and the unwitting offender is whisked off to jail.
Local Governments as Predators
Each of these crimes, neo-crimes, and pseudo-crimes carries financial penalties as well as the threat of jail time, but the amount of money thus extracted from the poor is fiendishly hard to pin down. No central agency tracks law enforcement at the local level, and local records can be almost willfully sketchy.According to one of the few recent nationwide estimates, from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 10.5 million misdemeanors were committed in 2006. No one would risk estimating the average financial penalty for a misdemeanor, although the experts I interviewed all affirmed that the amount is typically in the “hundreds of dollars.”
If we take an extremely lowball $200 per misdemeanor, and bear in mind that 80%-90% of criminal offenses are committed by people who are officially indigent, then local governments are using law enforcement to extract, or attempt to extract, at least $2 billion a year from the poor.
And that is only a small fraction of what governments would like to collect from the poor. Katherine Beckett, a sociologist at the University of Washington, estimates that “deadbeat dads” (and moms) owe $105 billion in back child-support payments, about half of which is owed to state governments as reimbursement for prior welfare payments made to the children. Yes, parents have a moral obligation to their children, but the great majority of child-support debtors are indigent.
Attempts to collect from the already-poor can be vicious and often, one would think, self-defeating. Most states confiscate the drivers’ licenses of people owing child support, virtually guaranteeing that they will not be able to work. Michigan just started suspending the drivers’ licenses of people who owe money for parking tickets. Las Cruces, New Mexico, just passed a law that punishes people who owe overdue traffic fines by cutting off their water, gas, and sewage.
Once a person falls into the clutches of the criminal justice system, we encounter the kind of slapstick sadism familiar to viewers of Wipeout. Many courts impose fees without any determination of whether the offender is able to pay, and the privilege of having a payment plan will itself cost money.In a study of 15 states, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University found 14 of them contained jurisdictions that charge a lump-sum “poverty penalty” of up to $300 for those who cannot pay their fees and fines, plus late fees and “collection fees” for those who need to pay over time.
If any jail time is imposed, that too may cost money, as the hapless Edwina Nowlin discovered, and the costs of parole and probation are increasingly being passed along to the offender.The predatory activities of local governments give new meaning to that tired phrase “the cycle of poverty.” Poor people are more far more likely than the affluent to get into trouble with the law, either by failing to pay parking fines or by incurring the wrath of a private-sector creditor like a landlord or a hospital.
Once you have been deemed a criminal, you can pretty much kiss your remaining assets goodbye. Not only will you face the aforementioned court costs, but you’ll have a hard time ever finding a job again once you’ve acquired a criminal record. And then of course, the poorer you become, the more likely you are to get in fresh trouble with the law, making this less like a “cycle” and more like the waterslide to hell.
The further you descend, the faster you fall -- until you eventually end up on the streets and get busted for an offense like urinating in public or sleeping on a sidewalk.I could propose all kinds of policies to curb the ongoing predation on the poor. Limits on usury should be reinstated. Theft should be taken seriously even when it’s committed by millionaire employers. No one should be incarcerated for debt or squeezed for money they have no chance of getting their hands on.
These are no-brainers, and should take precedence over any long term talk about generating jobs or strengthening the safety net. Before we can “do something” for the poor, there are some things we need to stop doing to them.
© 2012 Barbara Ehrenreich
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Newly Discovered Homeland Security Files Show Feds Central to Occupy Crackdown
Now Playing: Feds at Occupy around the US cordinated attacks on freedom
Newly Discovered Homeland Security Files Show Feds Central to Occupy Crackdown
White House directed crack down on Occupy, worked to hide DHS involvement with false statements, include "background statements"
A new trove of heavily redacted documents provided by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) on behalf of filmmaker Michael Moore and the National Lawyers Guild makes it increasingly evident that there was and is a nationally coordinated campaign to disrupt and crush the Occupy Movement.
The new documents, which PCJF National Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard insists “are likely only a subset of responsive materials,” in the possession of federal law enforcement agencies, only “scratch the surface of a mass intelligence network including Fusion Centers, saturated with 'anti-terrorism' funding, that mobilizes thousands of local and federal officers and agents to investigate and monitor the social justice movement.”
Nonetheless, blacked-out and limited though they are, she says they offer clues to the extent of the government’s concern about and focus on the wave of occupations that spread across the country beginning with last September’s Occupy Wall Street action in New York City.
The latest documents reveal “intense involvement” by the DHS’s so-called National Operations Center (NOC). In its own literature, the DHS describes the NOC as “the primary national-level hub for domestic situational awareness, common operational picture, information fusion, information sharing, communications, and coordination pertaining to the prevention of terrorist attacks and domestic incident management.”
The DHS says that the NOC is “the primary conduit for the White House Situation Room” and that it also “facilitates information sharing and operational coordination with other federal, state, local, tribal, non-governmental operation centers and the private sector.”
A better description for a fascist police state network could not be written.
Portland Homeland Security:
Behind the Crackdown on Occupy, documents show
Among the documents obtained by the PCJF in this second batch of responses to its FOIA filing is one Nov. 5, 2011 from the NOC Fusion Center Desk, which collects at the federal level and then distributes the names and contact information of a group of Occupy protesters who were arrested during a demonstration in Dallas, TX against Bank of America, one of the nation’s biggest predatory lenders. Although none of the seven arrested were charged with any serious crime (six were charged with “using the sidewalk!”), their names and contact information were widely disseminated by the DHS.
Fusion Centers, a post-9-11 creation, are a federally-funded joint project of the DHS and the US Justice Department which are designed to share intelligence information among such federal agencies as the DHS, the FBI, the CIA and the US Military, as well as state and local police agencies. By their nature they are designed to circumvent legal constraints on various agencies, for example the ban on CIA domestic spying, or the Posse Comitatus Act, which bars active military activity within the borders of the US. There are currently 72 Fusion Centers around the US.
Another group of documents shows that on November 9, two days after a demonstration by 1000 Occupy activists in Chicago protesting social service cuts in that city, the NOC Fusion Desk relayed a request from Chicago Police asking other local police agencies what kind of tactics they were using against Occupy activists. They specifically requested that information be sought from police departments in New York, Oakland, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. Denver, Boston, Portland OR, and Seattle -- all the scene of major Occupation actions and of violent police repression. Realizing that it would look bad if it assisted in such coordination overtly, higher officials in the DHS ordered the recall of the request but then simply rerouted it through “law enforcement channels,” where presumably it would be harder for anyone to spot a federal role in the coordination of local police responses. In response to that order, the documents show that the duty director of the NOC wrote that he would “reach out” to "LEO LNOs (liaison officer) on the floor" to assist. Verheyden-Hilliard explains that LEO is FBI's nationally integrated law enforcement, intelligence and military network.
On December 12, when Occupy planned anti-war protests at various US ports, Verheyden-Hilliard says the new documents show that the NOC “went into high gear” seeking information from local field offices of the Department of Homeland Security about what actions police in Houston, Portland, Oakland, Seattle, San Diego, and Los Angeles planned to deal with Occupy movement actions.
Another document shows that earlier, in advance of a planned Occupy action at the Oakland, CA port facility on Nov. 2, DHS “went so far as to keep the Pentagon’s Northcom (Northern Command) in the intelligence loop.”
Given the subterfuge revealed in these documents that went into trying to create the illusion that the DHS was and is not coordinating a national campaign of spying, disruption and repression against Occupy activists, it is almost comical to find documents that show the DHS was in “direct communication with the White House” to obtain advance approval of public statements by DHS officials denying any DHS involvement in anti-Occupy actions.
These documents show that both DHS and one of that department’s police arms, the Federal Protective Service (FPS) were in direct contact with Portland, Oregon’s police chief and mayor, discussing how to deal with protesters who were in part on federal property. The coordination between the feds and the local police and political authorities were intense. Yet the approved statement sent to DHS from the White House read:
Any decisions on how to handle specifics (sic) situations are dealt with by local authorities in that location. If a protest area is located on Federal property and has been deemed unsanitary or unsafe by the General Services Administration (GSA) or city officials, and they make a decision to evacuate participants -- the Federal Protective Service (FPS) will work with those officials to develop a plan to ensure the security and safety of everyone involved.
There was, comically, also a White House-approved DHS “background” statement, too! (Typically background statements by federal officials are supposed to be used when they want to tell a journalist the true situation but don’t want to have that statement attributed to them or their department. Having it pre-approved by the White House defeats that purpose and is simply a manipulation of the media.)
The faux “background” information included the following--a flat-out lie:
DHS is not actively coordinating with local law enforcement agencies and/or city governments concerning the evictions of Occupy encampments writ large.
Tellingly, the documents also include a Dec. 5 copy of the “Weekly Informant, ” an intelligence report published by the DHS’s Office for State and Local Law Enforcement. The issue includes an update from the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) concerning the activities of the Occupy Movement. PERF, Verheyden-Hilliard notes, is the group that the federal government claims organized a series of multi-city law enforcement calls to coordinate the police response to Occupy, which led immediately to the wave of violent crackdowns. It was at those meetings that police were advised among other things to act at night, to use aggressive tactics and weapons like tasers and pepper spray, and to take steps to remove journalists and cameras from the scene of crackdowns.
The overall sense from these latest documents is that Washington and the DHS, along with the FBI, was the nexus of the crackdown, orchestrating it, encouraging it, and attempting to cover its tracks.
The documents among other things expose the massive hypocrisy of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party, which this election year have tried to co-opt and claim as their own the anti-fat-cat theme of the “We are the 99%”-chanting Occupiers, while actually acting in the interest of Bank of America and its fellow financial sector mega-firms in trying to crush the movement itself.
To see all the new FOIA documents, go to the PJIF website.
Dave Lindorff is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He lives in Philadelphia.
Sunday, 22 April 2012
PDX - Liberation event on May Day 2012 _ Portland Oregon
Now Playing: Empty Buildings and putting houseless folks in em
Topic: OCCUPY PORTLAND
Original Article is located here:
Liberation event on May Day
The Portland Liberation Organizing Council (PLOC) would like to invite all members of the community join us on May 1st, 2012 in the Liberate.MayDay project where a neighborhood will leading a liberatory event.
Liberate.MayDay intends to demonstrate and begin to address the vast contradictions that we face each day – that buildings sit empty while our neighborhoods lack free, accessible indoor spaces, that banks continue tearing people out of their homes while 1 in 7 houses in the country sit vacant, that basic healthcare is unaffordable for many while corporations reap incredible profits from the industry.
We have seen that the systems creating these problems are not capable of providing real solutions. We are done waiting! Solutions come from our minds, our hands, our relationships, and our irrepressible creative capacity to build a community (and a society) that works for us. On May Day PLOC will enact one solution – to reclaim property and put it to use with the community.
Portland needs a space where communities can grow together and nurture a healthy political system — where gardens grow food and sow the seeds of resistance; where classrooms are based on popular education; where there is free space to celebrate and organize. We will no longer stand for developers holding land and buildings hostage for maximum profit. Community control and self-determination are more important than profit and endless growth.
We are inspired by those that took over a church-owned abandoned building in San Francisco in March, by foreclosure defenders in Minneapolis, by the Landless Peasant Movement in Brazil [MST], by the Space Liberated community in Madrid, and many more. We stand on the shoulders of those that take direct action to elevate the rights of people above the right to keep property vacant. These social movements show us that liberation of land and our homes is not only possible, it is happening!
The broad anger against the banks that the Occupy movement has revealed demonstrates a profound willingness among ordinary people to act for our collective well-being regardless of the formalities of the law. The whirlwind of movement in the past year has renewed our belief that when we act together – we are powerful.
This liberatory event will be rooted in a collaborative community effort, building relationships and partnerships that we hope live far beyond May 1st. Supporters are encouraged to come join the reclamation effort with a mind toward the collective rather than the autonomous individual. Alerts will be blasted out over email and social media on the morning of May 1st with a meetup location.
Gather round! Liberate.MayDay!
PLOC is a collaboration of radical organizations who believe that the current economic system and its systems of oppression are fundamental problems that create the disparity of wealth and resources that we see in our neighborhoods today. We work to organize and mobilize to dismantle these exploitative systems while creating alternatives with our communities. Capitalism is not broken, it is built for someone else.
Sunday, 15 April 2012
Copwatching - Tips and Rules for Filming
Now Playing: Filming the Police seven tips in 2012 you should know
7 Rules for Recording Police
Last week the City of Boston agreed to pay Simon Glik $170,000 in damages and legal fees to settle a civil rights lawsuit stemming from his 2007 felony arrest for videotaping police roughing up a suspect. Prior to the settlement, the First Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that Glik had a "constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public." The Boston Police Department now explicitly instructs its officers not to arrest citizens openly recording them in public.
Slowly but surely the courts are recognizing that recording on-duty police is a protected First Amendment activity. But in the meantime, police around the country continue to intimidate and arrest citizens for doing just that. So if you're an aspiring cop watcher you must be uniquely prepared to deal with hostile cops.
If you choose to record the police you can reduce the risk of terrible legal consequences and video loss by understanding your state's laws and carefully adhering to the following rules.
Rule #1: Know the Law (Wherever You Are)
Conceived at a time when pocket-sized recording devices were available only to James Bond types, most eavesdropping laws were originally intended to protect people against snoops, spies, and peeping Toms. Now with this technology in the hands of average citizens, police and prosecutors are abusing these outdated laws to punish citizens merely attempting to document on-duty police.
The law in 38 states plainly allows citizens to record police, as long as you don't physically interfere with their work. Police might still unfairly harass you, detain you, or confiscate your camera. They might even arrest you for some catchall misdemeanor such as obstruction of justice or disorderly conduct. But you will not be charged for illegally recording police.
Twelve states-California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington-require the consent of all parties for you to record a conversation.
However, all but 2 of these states-Massachusetts and Illinois-have an "expectation of privacy provision" to their all-party laws that courts have ruled does not apply to on-duty police (or anyone in public). In other words, it's technically legal in those 48 states to openly record on-duty police.
Rule #2 Don't Secretly Record Police
In most states it's almost always illegal to record a conversation in which you're not a party and don't have consent to record. Massachusetts is the only state to uphold a conviction for recording on-duty police, but that conviction was for a secret recording where the defendant failed to inform police he was recording. (As in the Glik case, Massachusetts courts have ruled that openly recording police is legal, but secretly recording them isn't.)
Fortunately, judges and juries are soundly rejecting these laws. Illinois, the state with the most notorious anti-recording laws in the land, expressly forbids you from recording on-duty police. Early last month an Illinois judge declared that law unconstitutional, ruling in favor of Chris Drew, a Chicago artist charged with felony eavesdropping for secretly recording his own arrest. Last August a jury acquitted Tiawanda Moore of secretly recording two Chicago Police Internal Affairs investigators who encouraged her to drop a sexual harassment complaint against another officer. (A juror described the case to a reporter as "a waste of time.") In September, an Illinois state judge dropped felony charges against Michael Allison. After running afoul of local zoning ordinances, he faced up to 75 years in prison for secretly recording police and attempting to tape his own trial.
The lesson for you is this: If you want to limit your legal exposure and present a strong legal case, record police openly if possible. But if you videotape on-duty police from a distance, such an announcement might not be possible or appropriate unless police approach you.
Rule #3: Respond to "Shit Cops Say"
When it comes to police encounters, you don't get to choose whom you're dealing with. You might get Officer Friendly, or you might get Officer Psycho. You'll likely get officers between these extremes. But when you "watch the watchmen," you must be ready to think on your feet.
In most circumstances, officers will not immediately bull rush you for filming them. But if they aren't properly trained, they might feel like their authority is being challenged. And all too often police are simply ignorant of the law. Part of your task will be to convince them that you're not a threat while also standing your ground.
"What are you doing?"
Instead, say something like "Officer, I'm not interfering. I'm asserting my First Amendment rights. You're being documented and recorded offsite."
Saying this while remaining calm and cool will likely put police on their best behavior. They might follow up by asking, "Who do you work for?" You may, for example, tell them you're an independent filmmaker or a citizen journalist with a popular website/blog/YouTube show. Whatever you say, don't lie-but don't let police trick you into thinking that the First Amendment only applies to mainstream media journalists. It doesn't.
"Let me see your ID."
But how can you tell if an officer asking for ID has reasonable suspicion? Police need reasonable suspicion to detain you, so one way to tell if they have reasonable suspicion is to determine if you're free to go. You can do this by saying "Officer, are you detaining me, or am I free to go?"
If the officer says you're free to go or you're not being detained, it's your choice whether to stay or go. But if you're detained, you might say something like, "I'm not required to show you ID, but my name is [your full name]." It's up to you if you want to provide your address and date of birth if asked for it, but I'd stop short of giving them your Social Security number.
"Please stop recording me. It's against the law."
For example, if an insecure cop tries to tell you that you're violating his civil liberties, you might respond by saying "Officer, with all due respect, state law only requires permission from one party in a conversation. I don't need your permission to record so long as I'm not interfering with your work."
If you live in one of the 12 all party record states, you might say something like "Officer, I'm familiar with the law, but the courts have ruled that it doesn't apply to recording on-duty police."
If protective service officers harass you while filming on federal property, you may remind them of a recently issued directive informing them that there's no prohibition against public photography at federal buildings.
If you feel you're already standing at a reasonable distance, you may say something like, "Officer, I have a right to be here. I'm filming for documentation purposes and not interfering with your work." It's then up to you to decide how far back you're willing to stand to avoid arrest.
Rule #4: Don't Share Your Video with Police
If you capture video of police misconduct or brutality, but otherwise avoid being identified yourself, you can anonymously upload it to YouTube. This seems to be the safest legal option. For example, a Massachusetts woman who videotaped a cop beating a motorist with a flashlight posted the video to the Internet. Afterwards, one of the cops caught at the scene filed criminal wiretapping charges against her. (As usual, the charges against her were later dropped.)
On the other hand, an anonymous videographer uploaded footage of an NYPD officer body-slamming a man on a bicycle to YouTube. Although the videographer was never revealed, the video went viral. Consequently, the manufactured assault charges against the bicyclist were dropped, the officer was fired, and the bicyclist eventually sued the city and won a $65,000 settlement.
Rule #5: Prepare to be Arrested
Keene, New Hampshire resident Dave Ridley is the avatar of the new breed of journalist/activist/filmmaker testing the limits of the First Amendment right to record police. Over the past few years he's uploaded the most impressive collection of first-person police encounter videos I've ever seen.
Ridley's calm demeanor and knowledge of the law paid off last August after he was arrested for trespassing at an event featuring Vice President Joe Biden. The arresting officers at his trial claimed he refused to leave when ordered to do so. But the judge acquitted him when his confiscated video proved otherwise.
With respect to the law Ridley declares, "If you're rolling the camera, be very open and upfront about it. And look at it as a potential act of civil disobedience for which you could go to jail." It's indeed disturbing that citizens who are not breaking the law should prepare to be arrested, but in the current legal fog this is sage advice.
"Shut it off, or I'll arrest you."
If you keep recording, brace yourself for arrest. Try your best not to drop your camera, but do not physically resist. As with any arrest, you have the right to remain silent until you speak with a lawyer. Use it.
Remember that the camera might still be recording. So keep calm and act like you're being judged by a jury of millions of your YouTube peers, because one day you might be.
Rule #6: Master Your Technology
Smartphone owners now outnumber users of more basic phones. At any moment there are more than 100 million Americans in reach of a device that can capture police misconduct and share it with the world in seconds.
Always Passcode Protect Your Smartphone
Keep in mind that Qik and Bambuser's offsite upload feature might be slow or nonexistent in places without Wi-Fi or a strong 3G/4G signal. Regardless, your captured video will be saved locally on your device until you've got a good enough signal to upload offsite.
Set Videos to "Private"
With a little bit of practice you should be able to pull your smartphone from your pocket or purse, turn it on, enter your passcode, open the app, and hit record within 10 seconds. Keep your preferred app easily accessible on your home screen to save precious seconds. But don't try to shave milliseconds off your time by disabling your passcode.
Both apps share an important feature that allows your video to be saved if your phone is turned off-even if you're still recording. So if you anticipate that a cop is about to grab your phone, quickly turn it off. Without your passcode, police won't be able to delete your videos or personal information even if they confiscate or destroy your phone.
With the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy Android devices I tested, when the phone is turned off the Qik app immediately stops recording and uploads the video offsite. But if the phone is turned off while Bambuser records, the recording continues after the screen goes black.
This Bambuser "black out" feature is a double-edged sword. While it could easily trick cops into thinking you're not recording them, using it could push you into more dangerous legal territory. As previously mentioned, courts have shown a willingness to convict citizens for secretly recording police. So if you're somehow caught using this feature it might be easier for a prosecutor to convince a judge or jury that you've broken the law. It's up to you to decide if the increased legal risk is worth the potential to capture incriminating police footage.
Other Recording Options
Carlos Miller is a Miami-based photojournalism activist and writer of the popular Photography is Not a Crime blog. While he carries a professional-end Canon XA10 in the field, he says "I never leave home without a Flip camera on a belt pouch. It's a very decent camera that's easier to carry around."
The top-of-the-line Flip UltraHD starts at $178, but earlier models are available for $60 on Amazon. All flip models have one-button recording, which allows you to pull it out of your pocket and shoot within seconds. The built-in USB then lets you upload video to YouTube or other sharing sites through your PC.
Small businessman and "radical technology" educator Justin Holmes recommends the Canon S-series line of cameras. In 2008, his camera captured a police encounter he had while rollerblading in Port Dickenson, New York. His footage provides an outstanding real-life example of how a calm camera-toting citizen can intelligently flex their rights.
"I typically carry a Canon S5-IS," Holmes says. "But if I was going to buy one new, I'd go for the SX40-HS. If I were on a budget and buying one used, I'd go for S2-IS or S3-IS." The features he regards as essential include one-touch video, high-quality stereo condenser microphones, fast zoom during video, and 180x270 variable angle LCD. But the last feature he regards as "absolutely essential." With it the user can glance at the viewfinder while the camera is below or above eye level.
Rule #7: Don't Point Your Camera Like a Gun
"When filming police you always want to avoid an aggressive posture," insists Holmes. To do this he keeps his strap-supported camera close to his body at waist level. This way he can hold a conversation while maintaining eye contact with police, quickly glancing at the viewfinder to make sure he's getting a good shot.
Obviously, those recording with a smartphone lack this angled viewfinder. But you can get a satisfactory shot while holding your device at waist level, tilting it upward a few degrees. This posture might feel awkward at first, but it's noticeably less confrontational than holding the camera between you and the officer's face.
Also try to be in control of your camera before an officer approaches. You want to avoid suddenly grasping for it. If a cop thinks you're reaching for a gun, you could get shot.
Becoming a Hero
If your case is strong, the ACLU might offer to take you on as a litigant. If you accept, your brave stand could forever change the way police treat citizens asserting their First Amendment right to record police. This path is not for fools, and it might disrupt your life. But next time you see police in action, don't forget that a powerful tool for truth and justice might literally be in your hands.
Tuesday, 10 April 2012
VIDEO: Ralph Nader at Powells Books - Portland Oregon 4.9.12
Now Playing: Mobile T gives a report back with video from Ralph Nader speaking in PDX
Ralph Nader in PDX 4\9\12 Reportback:
Its been two years since Ralph Nader came to Portland, but he made it worth the wait when he held an open to the public book signing at Powell's City of Books yesterday (4/9). Naders new book, Getting Steamed to Overcome Capitalism, mesmorized the audience in the brightly lit Pearl room on the third floor of Powell's. Attendance was enormous with people crowding even the aisles of books to get a glimpse of and hear the man the commonwealth and corporations are secretly afraid of. As I made my way to the media corner, I heard a thunderous deep voice gradually rising as Mr. Nader once again became enraged within himself and moved the book release into lecture mode.
Nader Delivers Powerful Speech @ Book Signing Event In PDX
This new book seems to reach into the psyche of the average person who is interested in learning about the shady practices that large Pac-Man corporations are using to exploit the people and hoard so called "capital". Nader emphasised the "fire in your gut" or boiling point analogy after using cold hard facts to astonish his audience and talked numbers in the sense of our government spending excess money on foreign wars not neccessary or worth fighting.
He also spoke about the statistics of those without healthcare and compared the US to other successful coutries which utilize a broad universal healthcare system. Another representative of Occupy Portland (Cameron Whittman) was there and questioned Nader and he responded with positive motivation for the Occupy movement, stressing that Occupy does need some leadership and that we the people can make a difference.
Mr. Nader also held a Q&A about his book and many good questions and comments were offered up. A question by Mobile T, to Nader was on his view of ALEC, and he responded with a firestorm shaming them on everything from corporate manipulation to enactment of bad legislature.
Though the word "Occupy" was never included in the title or context of the book, it's almost as if it was written with the intention of motivating those who are now joining forces as a social movement. Hence Occupy.
LEWIS & CLARK: <video 1hr 49 min> http://youtu.be/e9fF2sg10cY
Friday, 30 March 2012
Bradley Manning - 2 years in prison and still no trial 3.30.12
Mood: on fire
Now Playing: Bradley Manning Still Months from Trial -- Two Years After Arrest
Still Months from Trial
Two Years After Arrest
Greg Mitchell Posted: 03/30/2012
This week marks a kind of double anniversary.
Two years ago on this date, Julian Assange was in Iceland readying the release of the shocking material that would catapult his group, WikiLeaks (and himself) to worldwide fame: the "Collateral Murder" video, an aerial view of U.S. Apache helicopters firing on Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists in 2007, plus celebratory dialogue from the gunners. It would be the first of four major WikiLeaks releases that year, as it was followed by the Afghanistan and Iraq "war logs" and "Cablegate."
One man has been accused of leaking all of that (and more), and we mark a separate anniversary related to PFC Bradley Manning.
A year ago this month, protests were held here and abroad, calling for Manning's release from semi-solitary confinement, under inhumane conditions, at the Quantico base in Virginia. He had been on a "perosnal injury" watch for months (despite his protests), rarely let out of his cell, forced to sleep without a standard pillow and blanket, and even at times stripped naked at night. Protesters were arrested at the White House -- and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's chief spokesman, P.J. Crowley, had been forced out when he protested these conditions.
All of this would help provoke Manning's transfer to Leavenworth prison in Kansas in April 2011, where he would enjoy more freedom and privacy. But one factor remains: nearly two years after his arrest, in May 2010, he still has not faced his court-martial trial on the 22 charges brought against him -- including "aiding the enemy," which could bring the death sentence (though likely lead to life in prison instead).
This week, a book about this two year period that I've written with Kevin Gosztola has been published: Truth and Consequences: The U.S. vs. Bradley Manning. As we point out near the close of our story: "His court martial was expected to begin this August, even though Manning's defense had been saying the government could hold the trial in May. This means that when Manning goes on trial he will have been in confinement for eight hundred days. "
The book brings this home by tracing Manning's saga from his arrest and brutal incarceration to the present day, with a day-by-day account of the hearings, including testimony by Adrian Lamo. Gosztola, who assisted me on my two previous books on this subject and now writes daily for Firedoglake.com, was one of the very few journalists who attended both of the key court martial hearings for Manning: last December and then just two weeks ago. So the book, in both print and as an e-book, is amazingly up to date.
The book concludes with Gosztola raising questions after the latest hearing in mid-March: "Goal? Aggravate and bother media to the point that they wonder if it is even worth it to cover the proceedings? Lose them somewhere along the way to the actual start of Manning's trial? That way when the date finally comes for the trial the press won't really know the scale of the games played by the government to interfere with the ability of Manning's lawyers to defend him.
"Or, more insidious, prolong the pre-trial. Make the defense choose between a speedy trial or fighting for the right to evidence and potential witnesses to mount a proper defense. It's up to Manning, but at this rate, he could be in pre-trial confinement for almost a thousand days before he finally gets to the first day of his trial."
The new Manning book is just out in both print and e-book. Mitchell's other current book is "Journeys With Beethoven." He has written a dozen previous books and blogs daily at The Nation.
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