Archive | November, 2011

Van Jones can’t occupy us – Law enforcement –

24 Nov

Jones’ call for the movement to “mature” and move on to party politics would only make us a sterile part of the very problem we oppose. As I learned working on Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign and running for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, the electoral system is a mirage where only corporate-approved candidates are allowed to be considered seriously. At Occupy Washington, D.C., we recognize that putting our time, energy and resources into elections will not produce the change we want. What we need to do right now is build a dynamic movement supported by independent media that stands in stark contrast to both corporate-bought-and-paid-for parties.

Democratic operatives want to steal the energy of the Occupy movement because they do not have any of their own. These front groups operate within the confines of the two-corrupted-party system and their agenda is limited by what big business interests say is politically realistic.

via Van Jones can’t occupy us – Law enforcement –


Bob Schieffer, Ron Paul and journalistic “objectivity” – Glenn Greenwald –

24 Nov

When it comes to views not shared by the leadership of the two parties, as in the above excerpt from the Paul interview, everything changes. Views that reside outside of the dogma of the leadership of either party are inherently illegitimate. Such views are generally ignored, but in those rare instances where they find their way into the discourse — such as this Paul interview — it is the duty of “objective” reporters like Schieffer to mock, scorn and attack them. Indeed, many journalists — such as Tim Russert and David Ignatius — excused their failures in the run-up to the Iraq War by pointing to the fact that the leadership of both parties were generally in favor of the war: in other words, since war opposition was rarely found among the parties’ leadership, it did not exist and/or was inherently illegitimate. Relatedly, only members in good standing of the political establishment command deference; those who are situated outside that establishment — and only them — are to be treated with mockery and contempt (that is what explains the overt scorn by “objective journalists” toward, for instance, the Occupy movement).

via Bob Schieffer, Ron Paul and journalistic “objectivity” – Glenn Greenwald –

What’s in a Name? “Pepper Spray”

24 Nov

The police use of so-called pepper spray is much in the news and on the web these days, especially as a result of its use at University of California at Davis. According to The New York Times“Megyn Kelly on Fox News dismissed pepper spray as ‘a food product, essentially.” That same story also reports:

To the American Civil Liberties Union, its use as a crowd-control device, particularly when those crowds are nonthreatening, is an excessive and unconstitutional use of force and violates the right to peaceably assemble.

A food product? Excessive and unconstitutional? One and the same product. I understand the name’s derivation, that the active ingredient—technically, oleoresin capsicum—is the chemical that causes the ‘bite’ in peppers. The use of THAT name, of course, automatically associates the spray with food. Not only is food innocuous, it’s necessary for life. So the name tells us that this agent is, at most, an exaggeration or amplification of something that’s good for us: “Eat your spinach, it’s good for you.” We don’t think that such an agent could put someone in the hospital or induce possibly permanent nerve damage. How would these stories play out if the spray was known as ‘liquid pain’ or ‘torture spray’? How would the officers using the agent think of themselves and their actions if they thought of the agent as torture spray rather than as a food derivative?

NYPD Orders Officers Not to Interfere With Press –

23 Nov

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly has issued an internal message ordering officers not to unreasonably interfere with media access during news coverage and warning those who do will be subject to disciplinary action.

via NYPD Orders Officers Not to Interfere With Press –

Robocops vs. the occupiers – Law enforcement –

23 Nov

Many local police departments facing Occupy protests have also not seen dissent like this in their streets in recent decades, and don’t know any other approach, Vitale says.

“In places like Dallas and Denver, police are pulling out batons because they don’t know how to deal constructively with dissent,” he adds.

Vitale says that the use of rubber-coated bullets and tear gas often signals “handling dissent on the cheap.” Instead of bringing in enough officers to establish control, “a handful of guys are sent in with armor, rubber bullets and flashbang grenades.”

“It’s very clear that cities across the country have not learned from our mistakes,” said Norm Stamper, the former police chief of Seattle who resigned after the debacle of 1999 and has since publicly expressed regret for his handling of the situation, especially the use of tear gas.

via Robocops vs. the occupiers – Law enforcement –

Thinking Outside the Bus –

23 Nov

This week Fixes looks at this and two other small but intriguing transit initiatives. They operate on wildly different models: The Brunswick Explorer is public; it is paid for by riders, who pay a nominal fare, and a combination of federal and local sources, including the town of Brunswick. Another involves private entrepreneurs providing van service; and the third is a non-profit that has radically re-thought the terms of mobility. Together these three programs suggest that we could get a lot more out of our transit dollars — and more important, get a lot more people from place to place — if we approached potential transit riders as customers, and gave them exactly what they need.

via Thinking Outside the Bus –

How dangerous is pepper spray? | World news |

22 Nov

…If the Dutch findings are right, police officers wading into a peaceful protest and spraying people are more likely to cause violence than to stop it; use of pepper spray in these kinds of situations isn’t just excessive and unfair, but also stupid.

And while the benefits of sprays in the right situations were clear, controlling officers once they had these weapons proved to be difficult. Across the forces studied, some 6% to 15% of uses of pepper spray were against suspects that posed no threat to either officers or civilians. Often suspects were sprayed from too close a distance or for too long.

Worryingly, an “unknown number” of officers took to carrying their sprays while off duty. Research into pepper sprays has tended to focus on their health effects, but perhaps it should also look at its impact on the psychology of the officers carrying them.

via How dangerous is pepper spray? | World news |

Are U.S. corporations good citizens? –

22 Nov

The time is ripe for a reevaluation of the role of the corporation in American society. The passion motivating Occupy Wall Street protesters tells us this, as does the spectacle of a political and economic system that is so clearly broken.

Therefore, in the spirit of contributing to enhancing consumer enlightenment as to how our corporations rank as responsible citizens, Salon is launching a new series: The Corporate Citizen Challenge — an attempt to rate the good citizenship performance of America’s biggest companies.

Look for the first installment the week after Thanksgiving. We’ll start with the big financial institutions that benefited the most from government bailouts. We’ll evaluate them according to a series of metrics: job creation, dollars spent lobbying, total taxes paid, executive compensation, impact on the environment, and others.

via Are U.S. corporations good citizens? –

Life after occupation – Occupy Wall Street –

21 Nov

The occupation space itself becomes a spectacle that attracts newcomers who behave in unpredictable ways and who broaden the movement by bringing in perspectives that challenge the ideas of experienced organizers. This creates disruptive moments, such as Marine Corps vet Shamar Thomas’ shaming of 30 cops in Times Square. Watching his performance, which has been viewed nearly 3 million times, gives me chills and makes me wince seeing him in combat fatigues, dressing down dumbfounded cops.

“How do you sleep at night doing this to people?” he shouted. “You’re here to protect us … If you want to go kill and hurt people, go to Iraq. Why are you hurting U.S. citizens?”

The notion of suggesting that someone should go to Iraq, a country tormented by the United States for decades, to hurt people is beyond the pale. But Thomas’ outburst shows how Occupy Wall Street has touched people deeply and allowed them to see the movement as their own, rather than having to sit through weeks of anti-oppression workshops or spend years studying economic, political and cultural theory that few have the interest in or patience for.

via Life after occupation – Occupy Wall Street –

Why I Got Arrested at Occupy Wall Street | The Nation

21 Nov

Civil disobedience is a tactic, but it is also a statement, like singing “We Shall Overcome” with a bunch of strangers a block from the New York Stock Exchange. Protests and marches bring attention to our movement, but also define what our movement is fighting for: an economic order built on equality, not profits; a political order built on popular justice, not private self-interest; a fuller and freer democracy, not only in the political process itself but over the economic resources that we all depend upon to live. The law-and-order regimes that encircle our protests and cordon off our marches are saying, in effect, that these are not possible; we say they are. When we get arrested, we are saying, in effect, that the law is not sacred. And as our movement grows, in the face of ever intensifying efforts to contain us, the opportunities to define and to demonstrate again and again what it is we are resisting will only increase. We do not have to knock down barricades to overflow them.

via Why I Got Arrested at Occupy Wall Street | The Nation.