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H.R. 347 could make the First Amendment illegal. No one is really covering this bill and the major media call it non-controversial. The innocent sounding bill titled The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 was passed Tuesday with only three dissenting votes, and passed unanimously in the Senate. This bill dubbed the Anti-Occupy law was passed without one single Democrat speaking up for the first Amenndment.
Once this Bill is signed into law some believe it will make it a felony to excercise your first Amendment rights of Free Speech. Several of those commenting opined that the nearly unanimous vote proves that despite all the posturing both parties stand shoulder to shoulder in their defense of the greed and entitlement of the 1% from the rest of us. When you couple this with the indefinite detention of Americans in the National Defense Authorization Act it is clear that Obama is part of a ruling corporate oligarchy and is surely no Progessive.
by Daniel Willis and Thomas Peele - originally found via Occupy Santa Cruz
Journalists constantly struggle to go beyond the official spin and report on a deeper level about government actions.
It’s a daily fight, one in which we need to be ever diligent against getting snowed by officials and falling into the role of stenographers rather than independent reporters. All of us, me included, can find ourselves regretful when we learn that the bureaucratic rhetoric we reported turns out to be far from reality.
That’s why the best reporting tracks government action by document rather than lip service. It’s why obtaining government communications is a vital and why I have dedicated my 2012 columns to the obtaining public officials’ e-mails and texts.
Today, rather than write this column, I am going to let the bureaucrats write it. What follows are city of Oakland e-mails obtained under the Public Records Act in which top officials discuss Occupy Oakland and the tent city that sprang up last year outside City Hall. City officials’ attempts to oust the protesters and the violent response that followed helped turn Oakland into an epicenter of the national Occupy movement. The emails’ writers include public relations people, lawyers, and top police officials, including a deputy police chief, Jeffrey Israel, who has since been demoted to captain. Read the rest of this entry →
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), owner of the largest private prison system in the United States, recently sent a letter to 48 states offering up to $250 million to manage government-owned detention centers. The letterlists the criteria of eligible purchases, which include an assurance that state corrections agencies “have sufficient inmate population to maintain a minimum 90 percent occupancy over the term of the contract.”
This guarantee isn’t difficult to rationalize when considering it from CCA’s point of view. They are paid by the government for each prisoner they house, so they want to house as many prisoners as possible in order to maximize their revenue.
But what if there aren’t enough prisoners to fill CCA’s quota? Private prisons have faced this dilemma before, and they’ve responded by buying prisoners through legislation, government infiltration and old-fashioned bribery. And in the not too distant future, these conditions may mean that the mass arrests of Occupy protesters could become a windfall for investors. Read the rest of this entry →
A new Senate Bill in Georgia is leading the charge in punishing peaceful protest. Senate Bill 469 amends laws relating to labor organizations and relations to “provide that certain provisions prohibiting mass picketing shall apply to certain private residences…provide for an action to enjoin unlawful mass picketing…and provide for both criminal trespass and criminal conspiracy” with punishment and fines (h/t Sarah Jaffe at Alternet).
The bill makes it unlawful for persons to engage in picketing where “a labor dispute exists” in numbers that would block any kind of transportation or entrances to buildings or interrupt “quiet enjoyment.” In addition, planning such a direct action or protest would also become a crime – “conspiracy to commit criminal trespass.” In other words, a protest action such as a march or occupation of a building or protest around a private residence will be an arrestable offense, as well as planning such an action. The possible punishment includes a fine of up to $10,000 and a year in jail.
Eric Robertson, Political Director for Georgia Teamsters Local 728 told Alternet “This bill is obviously an attack on working people and anyone who believes in organizing for justice. It undermines civil liberties, and clearly is designed to cripple working peoples’ ability to organize and build organizations to improve their working conditions.” Read the rest of this entry →
Seventeen UC Davis students and two alumni filed the lawsuit against university officials and police on Wednesday concerning the shocking pepper-spraying incident in November 2011 that sparked international condemnation.
The incident saw campus police pepper-spraying a group of students, who were sitting down in a peaceful protest as part of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. The OWS emerged after a group of demonstrators gathered in New York’s financial district of Wall Street on September 17, 2011 to protest against the excessive influence of big corporations on the US policies and the high-level corruption in the country. Read the rest of this entry →
An absorbing article by Andrew Cohen on the Atlantic’s website has reminded me that today marks a very special 10th anniversary. Ten years ago policies were established that led to Abu Ghraib, the secret C.I.A. prisons, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and torture; that led, in other words, to a period that ranks among the worst in American history for the abuse of executive power, the shredding of civil liberties and the undermining of the judicial system. At the time, we didn’t know it was happening, because it was done in secret.
Mr. Cohen’s article concerns an executive memorandum with the ironic title “Humane Treatment of Taliban and al Qaeda Detainees.” It was written by several Bush administration officials, including John Yoo (who went on to author the infamous torture memos), and was approved by Alberto Gonzales, Mr. Bush’s mob lawyer – I mean White House counsel.
This memo advanced the notion that the President could honor the Geneva Conventions only when he felt like doing so, and that in any case, they did not apply to prisoners associated with al Qaeda or the Taliban.
The Black Bloc anarchists, who have been active on the streets in Oakland and other cities, are the cancer of the Occupy movement. The presence of Black Bloc anarchists—so named because they dress in black, obscure their faces, move as a unified mass, seek physical confrontations with police and destroy property—is a gift from heaven to the security and surveillance state. The Occupy encampments in various cities were shut down precisely because they were nonviolent. They were shut down because the state realized the potential of their broad appeal even to those within the systems of power. They were shut down because they articulated a truth about our economic and political system that cut across political and cultural lines. And they were shut down because they were places mothers and fathers with strollers felt safe.
Black Bloc adherents detest those of us on the organized left and seek, quite consciously, to take away our tools of empowerment. They confuse acts of petty vandalism and a repellent cynicism with revolution. The real enemies, they argue, are not the corporate capitalists, but their collaborators among the unions, workers’ movements, radical intellectuals, environmental activists and populist movements such as the Zapatistas. Any group that seeks to rebuild social structures, especially through nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, rather than physically destroy, becomes, in the eyes of Black Bloc anarchists, the enemy. Black Bloc anarchists spend most of their fury not on the architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or globalism, but on those, such as the Zapatistas, who respond to the problem. It is a grotesque inversion of value systems.
In three months, thousands of reporters from around the globe will descend on Chicago for the G-8 summit. Part of what they will chronicle is the protests and police crackdowns that have made each annual meeting so newsworthy. Sadly for all these reporters, and for all the American journalists with plans to film the protestors and cops, any effort to audiotape police activity on public streets or in parks is a crime in Illinois—a crime punishable by 15 years in prison.
Illinois, like Massachusetts and Oregon, is famous for having one of the most draconian eavesdropping laws in the country. The New York Times recently profiled two Illinois citizens who ran afoul of the law that makes it a Class 1 felony to audio record a law-enforcement officer, state’s attorney, assistant state’s attorney, attorney general, assistant attorney general or judge in the performance of his or her duties. It is a crime to use any device “for the purpose of hearing or recording all or any part of any conversation … unless [done] with the consent of all of the parties to such conversation or electronic communication. …”
By Vargus Pike & Adam Rothstein - Taken from http://www.portlandoccupier.org/2012/01/29/from-oakland-to-all-of-occupy/
January 28th was a day blackened by the dark armor of riot police clear across the North American continent. In Oakland, the efforts of Occupy protesters to build a community center in a long abandoned convention hall were blocked by brutal repression at the hands of law enforcement. Over three hundred people were reported arrested by the Oakland Police Department, after they were rounded up from their peaceful protest without warning, kettled into a square, tear gased, shot with rubber bullets and bean bags, beaten with batons, and then systematically imprisioned one by one. Among them were several members of the Occupy Portland Media Committee, who had traveled to the city in order to help with media coverage for their re-occupation. This photo below, shows the aftermath once the police had come in and done their work. American citizens sit, bound on their knees, which guarded by by a black-clad, invading army.