Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fwd: [MCM] Released from prison after 7 months, UAE 5 vow to keep on pressing for reform

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Mark Crispin Miller" <markcrispinmiller@gmail.com>
Date: Nov 29, 2011 3:47 PM
Subject: [MCM] Released from prison after 7 months, UAE 5 vow to keep on pressing for reform
To: <newsfromunderground@googlegroups.com>

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/freed-uae-activists-vow-press-reform-campaign-15048667#.TtUkZTvOLQ8

Freed UAE Activists Vow to Press Reform Campaign

By BARBARA SURK Associated Press
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates November 29, 2011 (AP)



Seven months in prison for signing an internet petition is not stopping five United Arab Emirates activists from pressing for reforms. Just after they were convicted, pardoned and released, they vowed to campaign for more freedom in the tightly ruled Gulf union.

That the five were arrested at all for taking part in an internet campaign, as opposed to marching, protesting, sitting in at government buildings or more militant activities seen elsewhere in the Mideast, shows how rigid the system of controls is in the UAE, and how determined the country's rulers are to keep the Arab Spring uprisings out of the oil-rich federation.

The UAE5, as they're known, want reform, and that could be a recipe for future confrontations.

Political activity is severely restricted in the Emirates, an alliance of seven semiautonomous city-states, each ruled by a hereditary sheik. There are no official opposition groups in the country, and political parties are banned.

Along with at least 130 other Emiratis, the five men signed an online petition in March, calling for constitutional changes and free elections. That led to their arrest in early April.

On Sunday, after being held in prison for almost eight months, the five were convicted of insulting the UAE's leadership, endangering national security and inciting people to protest.

Newsmaker Names
AP
Ahmed Mansour, an Emirati blogger and a human... View Full Caption

Then a day later, they received a presidential pardon and were freed.

One of the five, Ahmed Mansour is a prominent blogger. Another, Nasser bin Gaith, is an economics professor who has lectured at Paris' Sorbonne university in Abu Dhabi.

The two told The Associated Press that they spent days in solitary confinement in Abu Dhabi's Al Wathba prison. The rest of the time they were held with convicted killers, terrorists, rapists, adulterous, drug dealers and pirates.

Abu Gaith said he was repeatedly harassed by other prisoners and frequently put in solitary confinement, once even after he had demanded to see a doctor. He spent weeks shackled and handcuffed in his cell day and at night.

"Whenever they asked me what my crime was, I told them my case is not criminal, it's political," Mansour told the AP. "I was calm in jail because I knew I did not do anything to deserve a single day in prison."

If the government's intention by arresting, convicting, sentencing and then releasing them was to intimidate the five, it appears to have failed.

"I have not committed any crime," bin Gaith said. "I only offered advice to make my country better. And that's what I will continue to do."

For years, bin Gaith was part of the ruling elite's inner circle. The 42-year-old U.S.-educated economist and lawyer is a decorated UAE air force pilot and served as a legal adviser to the country's armed forces until he was detained.

He has often criticized Gulf rulers for rejecting all but the most limited of political reforms and for failing to provide a legal framework for the fast-paced economic development of the past decade. Just days before his arrest, he questioned the cash-for-stability remedies by Gulf rulers to blunt Arab Spring-inspired demands.

"It's beyond me why they arrested me or the other four," bin Gaith told the AP in an interview. "And why was I treated in such a way? Because I said the wind of change is blowing, and we need to do something."

SNIP>

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Fwd: [MCM] Woah! GAO audits Federal Reserve, shows $16 TRILLION in secret bank bailouts worldwide!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Mark Crispin Miller" <markcrispinmiller@gmail.com>
Date: Nov 29, 2011 11:06 AM
Subject: [MCM] Woah! GAO audits Federal Reserve, shows $16 TRILLION in secret bank bailouts worldwide!
To: <newsfromunderground@googlegroups.com>

http://www.unelected.org/audit-of-the-federal-reserve-reveals-16-trillion-in-secret-bailouts

Audit of the Federal Reserve Reveals $16 Trillion in Secret Bailouts

Posted by AD on July 21st, 2011

The first ever GAO(Government Accountability Office) audit of the Federal Reserve was carried out in the past few months due to the Ron Paul, Alan Grayson Amendment to the Dodd-Frank bill, which passed last year. Jim DeMint, a Republican Senator, and Bernie Sanders, an independent Senator, led the charge for a Federal Reserve audit in the Senate, but watered down the original language of the house bill(HR1207), so that a complete audit would not be carried out. Ben Bernanke(pictured to the left), Alan Greenspan, and various other bankers vehemently opposed the audit and lied to Congress about the effects an audit would have on markets. Nevertheless, the results of the first audit in the Federal Reserve's nearly 100 year history were posted on Senator Sander's webpage earlier this morning:  http://sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=9e2a4ea8-6e73-4be2-a753-62060dcbb3c3

What was revealed in the audit was startling: $16,000,000,000,000.00 had been secretly given out to US banks and corporations and foreign banks everywhere from France to Scotland. From the period between December 2007 and June 2010, the Federal Reserve had secretly bailed out many of the world's banks, corporations, and governments. The Federal Reserve likes to refer to these secret bailouts as an all-inclusive loan program, but virtually none of the money has been returned and it was loaned out at 0% interest. Why the Federal Reserve had never been public about this or even informed the United States Congress about the $16 trillion dollar bailout is obvious — the American public would have been outraged to find out that the Federal Reserve bailed out foreign banks while Americans were struggling to find jobs.

To place $16 trillion into perspective, remember that GDP of the United States is only $14.12 trillion. The entire national debt of the United States government spanning its 200+ year history is "only" $14.5 trillion. The budget that is being debated so heavily in Congress and the Senate is "only" $3.5 trillion. Take all of the outrage and debate over the $1.5 trillion deficit into consideration, and swallow this Red pill: There was no debate about whether $16,000,000,000,000 would be given to failing banks and failing corporations around the world.

In late 2008, the TARP Bailout bill was passed and loans of $800 billion were given to failing banks and companies. That was a blatant lie considering the fact that Goldman Sachs alone received 814 billion dollars. As is turns out, the Federal Reserve donated $2.5 trillion to Citigroup, while Morgan Stanley received $2.04 trillion. The Royal Bank of Scotland and Deutsche Bank, a German bank, split about a trillion and numerous other banks received hefty chunks of the $16 trillion.

"This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you're-on-your-own individualism for everyone else." – Bernie Sanders(I-VT)

When you have conservative Republican stalwarts like Jim DeMint(R-SC) and Ron Paul(R-TX) as well as self identified Democratic socialists like Bernie Sanders all fighting against the Federal Reserve, you know that it is no longer an issue of Right versus Left. When you have every single member of the Republican Party in Congress and progressive Congressmen like Dennis Kucinich sponsoring a bill to audit the Federal Reserve, you realize that the Federal Reserve is an entity onto itself, which has no oversight and no accountability.

Americans should be swelled with anger and outrage at the abysmal state of affairs when an unelected group of bankers can create money out of thin air and give it out to megabanks and supercorporations like Halloween candy. If the Federal Reserve and the bankers who control it believe that they can continue to devalue the savings of Americans and continue to destroy the US economy, they will have to face the realization that their trillion dollar printing presses will eventually plunder the world economy.

The list of institutions that received the most money from the Federal Reserve can be found on page 131 of the GAO Audit and are as follows..

Citigroup: $2.5 trillion ($2,500,000,000,000)
Morgan Stanley: $2.04 trillion ($2,040,000,000,000)
Merrill Lynch: $1.949 trillion ($1,949,000,000,000)
Bank of America: $1.344 trillion ($1,344,000,000,000)
Barclays PLC (United Kingdom): $868 billion ($868,000,000,000)
Bear Sterns: $853 billion ($853,000,000,000)
Goldman Sachs: $814 billion ($814,000,000,000)
Royal Bank of Scotland (UK): $541 billion ($541,000,000,000)
JP Morgan Chase: $391 billion ($391,000,000,000)
Deutsche Bank (Germany): $354 billion ($354,000,000,000)
UBS (Switzerland): $287 billion ($287,000,000,000)
Credit Suisse (Switzerland): $262 billion ($262,000,000,000)
Lehman Brothers: $183 billion ($183,000,000,000)
Bank of Scotland (United Kingdom): $181 billion ($181,000,000,000)
BNP Paribas (France): $175 billion ($175,000,000,000)
and many many more including banks in Belgium of all places

View the 266-page GAO audit of the Federal Reserve(July 21st, 2011): http://www.scribd.com/doc/60553686/GAO-Fed-Investigation

Source: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-696
FULL PDF on GAO server: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11696.pdf
Senator Sander's Article: http://sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=9e2a4ea8-6e73-4be2-a753-62060dcbb3c3


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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fwd: [MCM] What would happen if 1 million students pledge to withhold their debt payments? Maybe something really good....

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Mark Crispin Miller" <markcrispinmiller@gmail.com>
Date: Nov 27, 2011 1:25 PM
Subject: [MCM] What would happen if 1 million students pledge to withhold their debt payments? Maybe something really good....
To: <newsfromunderground@googlegroups.com>



What this country needs—and what the Occupation has made possible—is a national 
campaign to cancel student debt. And we can make this happen, if a million students
pledge to withhold their debt payments from the banks. 

MCM  

From Bertell Ollman:

This original and potentially very important action that requires your immediate action.

It involves circulating a PLEDGE to those who already owe or will soon owe student debts NOT TO PAY THEM AS SOON AS ONE MILLION PEOPLE ALSO SIGN THE SAME PLEDGE.

Please note that no one is being asked to stop paying their debt now, so no one who simply makes 
the pledge is risking any punishment. What happens later... well, obviously that will all depend on many things starting with how many people sign it and how far they are willing to go in carrying it out, since individuals who sign can always opt out.

As the number of signers grow, the possible effects range from - at a minimum - making student 
debt a major public issue with banks as well as politicians (esp. in this election year) mixing their threats with offers of debt refrom, to - at a maximum - .... well, given the interrelatedness of all our social and economic problems, I won't deny you the pleasure of giving free rein to your imaginations 
on this one.

Bertell

The pledge—which you can sign if you're a student, whether debtor or non-debtor, or if you're
on a university or college faculty—is here:


OCCUPY STUDENT DEBT CAMPAIGN

Welcome

Welcome to the Occupy Student Debt Campaign. This campaign is a response to the student debt crisis and the dependency of U.S. higher education on debt-financing from the people it is supposed to serve. There is no justice in a system that openly invites profiteering on the part of lenders. Education is a right and a public good, and it should be properly funded as such.



__________________________
General Information :

Occupy Student Debt!
National Campaign Launch

On Monday, November 21, Occupy Student Debt is launching a national campaign of student debt refusal. This campaign is a response to the student debt crisis and the dependency of U.S. higher education on debt-financing from the people it is supposed to serve. There is no justice in a system that openly invites profiteering on the part of lenders. Education is a right and a public good, and it should be properly funded as such.

The campaign will consist of three pledges:

-A debtor's pledge to refuse loan payments.The pledge will take
effect after a million debtors have signed.

-A faculty pledge of support for the refusers

-A non-debtors' pledge of support for parents and other public sympathizers


The pledges come out of our commitment to four fundamental principles:

- Education is not a consumer good and therefore student
loans should not be treated like consumer loans. If they are to exist,
student loans should be interest-free.

- Tuition at all public colleges and universities should be federally funded.

- Private and for-profit colleges and universities should open their books.

- The current debt burden should be written off, ending the bondage of
two generations of student debtors.

The launch will take place 1:30 at Zuccotti Park, followed by
CUNY/Baruch at Madison Square Park at 3pm. Given the strength of
national sentiment around this issue, we expect campuses around the
country will join us in staging events to launch the campaign.


The campaign is the work of the student debt subcommittee of the
OWS Empowerment and Education working group.

******
The pledges are on this websiteƂ  www.occupystudentdebtcampaign.org
FB facebook.com/pages/OccupyStudentDebtCampaignorg/217129071692202?sk=wall#



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Fwd: [P2P-F] Fw: [endthefed] The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy - Naomi Wolf

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Natalie Golovin" <10natalie@cox.net>
Date: Nov 27, 2011 1:00 PM
Subject: [P2P-F] Fw: [endthefed] The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy - Naomi Wolf
To: "P2P Foundation mailing list" <p2p-foundation@lists.ourproject.org>

 
 
Sent: Saturday, November 26, 2011 7:44 PM
Subject: [endthefed] The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy - Naomi Wolf
 
Brilliant piece...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/nov/25/shocking-truth-about-crackdown-occupy

Why this massive mobilisation against these not-yet-fully-articulated, unarmed, inchoate people?... I was still deeply puzzled as to why OWS, this hapless, hopeful band, would call out a violent federal response.  That is, until I found out what it was that OWS actually wanted... [demand] No. 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors. When I saw this list -- and especially the last agenda item -- the scales fell from my eyes. Of course, these unarmed people would be having the shit kicked out of them.
...

For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, "we are going after these scruffy hippies". Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command: first, to New York Representative Peter King, head of the House homeland security subcommittee, who naturally is influenced by his fellow congressmen and women's wishes and interests. And the DHS answers directly, above King, to the president (who was conveniently in Australia at the time).

In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.

But wait: why on earth would Congress advise violent militarised reactions against its own peaceful constituents? The answer is straightforward: in recent years, members of Congress have started entering the system as members of the middle class (or upper middle class) – but they are leaving DC privy to vast personal wealth, as we see from the "scandal" of presidential contender Newt Gingrich's having been paid $1.8m for a few hours' "consulting" to special interests. The inflated fees to lawmakers who turn lobbyists are common knowledge, but the notion that congressmen and women are legislating their own companies' profits is less widely known – and if the books were to be opened, they would surely reveal corruption on a Wall Street spectrum.

...

Since Occupy is heavily surveilled and infiltrated, it is likely that the DHS and police informers are aware, before Occupy itself is, what its emerging agenda is going to look like.






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Fwd: [P2P-F] Article : "Why on earth would Congress advise violent militarised reactions against its own peaceful constituents? "

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Dante-Gabryell Monson" <dante.monson@gmail.com>
Date: Nov 27, 2011 6:31 AM
Subject: [P2P-F] Article : "Why on earth would Congress advise violent militarised reactions against its own peaceful constituents? "
To: <econowmix@googlegroups.com>, "p2p-foundation" <p2p-foundation@lists.ourproject.org>

The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy

The violent police assaults across the US are no coincidence. Occupy has touched the third rail of our political class's venality

"Journalist Chris Hayes reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000 contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible without a full-court press at the top. This was clearly not simply a case of a freaked-out mayors', city-by-city municipal overreaction against mess in the parks and cranky campers. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels."

"The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, "we are going after these scruffy hippies". Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command"

"for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens."

"The mainstream media was declaring continually "OWS has no message". Frustrated, I simply asked them. I began soliciting online "What is it you want?" answers from Occupy. In the first 15 minutes, I received 100 answers. These were truly eye-opening.

The No 1 agenda item: get the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process. No 2: reform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.

No 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors."

"why on earth would Congress advise violent militarised reactions against its own peaceful constituents? The answer is straightforward: in recent years, members of Congress have started entering the system as members of the middle class (or upper middle class) – but they are leaving DC privy to vast personal wealth, as we see from the "scandal" of presidential contender Newt Gingrich's having been paid $1.8m for a few hours' "consulting" to special interests. The inflated fees to lawmakers who turn lobbyists are common knowledge, but the notion that congressmen and women are legislating their own companies' profitsis less widely known – and if the books were to be opened, they would surely reveal corruption on a Wall Street spectrum. Indeed, we do already know that congresspeople are massively profiting from trading on non-public information they have on companies about which they are legislating "

"Since Occupy is heavily surveilled and infiltrated, it is likely that the DHS and police informers are aware, before Occupy itself is, what its emerging agenda is going to look like. If legislating away lobbyists' privileges to earn boundless fees once they are close to the legislative process, reforming the banks so they can't suck money out of fake derivatives products, and, most critically, opening the books on a system that allowed members of Congress to profit personally – and immensely – from their own legislation, are two beats away from the grasp of an electorally organised Occupy movement … well, you will call out the troops on stopping that advance.

So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organised suppression against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not."



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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fwd: [MCM] Malaysian tribunal finds Bush, Blair guilty of war crimes for plotting the invasion of Iraq

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Mark Crispin Miller" <markcrispinmiller@gmail.com>
Date: Nov 23, 2011 9:04 PM
Subject: [MCM] Malaysian tribunal finds Bush, Blair guilty of war crimes for plotting the invasion of Iraq
To: <newsfromunderground@googlegroups.com>


 
 


Malaysian tribunal finds
Bush and Blair guilty of war crimes

   

Dear Mark,


We in the IndictBushNow movement wanted to wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday. We also wanted to thank you for your continued support for this critical cause.

The global movement for accountability is growing.

People are in the streets throughout the world.

In Cairo, Mubarak awaits trial as hundreds of thousands of protesters fill the streets demanding economic, social and political justice.

Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are also wanted for their criminal acts that took so many innocent lives in Iraq.

"Former U.S. president George W. Bush and British ex-prime minister Tony Blair were Tuesday found guilty" by an independent tribunal in Malaysia for committing "crimes against peace" during the Iraq war, according to Agence France-Presse.

Global Movement: Grassroots Democracy in Action

Our movement, which demands accountability, is part of an international effort led by human rights activists, legal scholars, elected officials and progressive organizations.

People around the world are responsible for a dramatic shift in the political climate. This is grassroots democracy in action. No power is greater.

The Malaysian War Crimes Tribunal, which had the active support of former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad, found the former leaders guilty after a four-day hearing.

"The Tribunal deliberated over the case and decided unanimously that the first accused George Bush and second accused Blair have been found guilty of crimes against peace," the tribunal said in a statement.

"Unlawful use of force threatens the world to return to a state of lawlessness. The acts of the accused were unlawful."

The AFP reports, "A seven-member panel chaired by former Malaysian Federal Court judge Abdul Kadir Sulaiman presided over the trial, which began last Saturday, and both Bush and Blair were tried in absentia."

"The evidence showed that the drums of wars were being beaten long before the invasion. The accused in their own memoirs have admitted their own intention to invade Iraq regardless of international law," it said.

All of us want to express our gratitude to the hard work of the people of Malaysia who are doing their part in the global effort to hold war criminals accountable for their actions.

Please take a moment to tell your friends, relatives and co-workers about IndictBushNow and invite them to join this mass grassroots movement for justice and accountability using the buttons below.

-- From all of us at IndictBushNow




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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fwd: [P2P-F] Fwd: My Declaration of Independence

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Michel Bauwens" <michel@p2pfoundation.net>
Date: Nov 23, 2011 12:21 PM
Subject: [P2P-F] Fwd: My Declaration of Independence
To: "p2p-foundation" <p2p-foundation@lists.ourproject.org>



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jeffrey Sterling <teleboiski@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 9:17 PM
Subject: My Declaration of Independence
To:

Any feedback, publicity or contribution is greatly appreciated. Nice to meet you all!

-Jeff Sterling

+1 425 299 1969


My Declaration of Independence

 

 

A Collective Consciousness wormhole is opening and is showing us the Way to a Sustainable Future.

People are ready for Change. We are ready to Change from a world of Scarcity to a world of Abundance. We are ready to Change from a world of Domination to a world of Cooperation. The Great Awakening is upon us.

Humanity is broken and Nature is suffering. It is time to save our Living Ecosystem. Corporations are NOT part of a Living Ecosystem. Governments are NOT part of a Living Ecosystem. Corporations and Governments have devolved into a parasitic force that is sucking the life out of the People and Nature.

Indigenous People have been destroyed by an amalgam of Imperialism, Colonialism, and Corporatism over the past 500 years and now this Corporatist juggernaut is pillaging its own societies in the name of unsustainable growth. The Economic Rapture has occurred and 99.9% of Humanity has been left behind.

 

ENOUGH!

 

This is our Last Chance to save Civilization. We have been rehearsing for this moment our entire lives. These Occupied Sites are our sandbox to Play and Learn how to be Human Beings again and not some mechanistic part of Corporatist Culture.

These are Intentional Communities. They are by the People and for the People. We must renew our sense of Community by sharing and caring and collaborating and creating Indigenous Living Economies.

We are creating a new Social Contract that includes ONLY People and Nature. The Intellectual Commons is our birthright and cannot subjugated by the Corporatist Culture.

Corporations are NOT People! Governments are NOT People! And People are a Sovereign part of Nature.

As we create Intentional Communities, we can turn homeless camps into Eco-villages, we can build Resilient Communities where we can follow our passions to build a distributed and decentralized network of Indigenous Living Economies that are in balance with Nature.
 
We need Occupied Teach-ins, we need Occupied Universities, we need to spread the Word of Liberation and Empowerment. Let's Change the World in the name of the People and Nature!

 

 

Jeff Sterling

captjack@techpraxis.com

 



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Monday, November 21, 2011

Fwd: [MCM] The lesson of the UC-Davis pepper-spraying: We Americans can have our free speech rights, as long as we don't try to exercise them

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Mark Crispin Miller" <markcrispinmiller@gmail.com>
Date: Nov 21, 2011 9:37 AM
Subject: [MCM] The lesson of the UC-Davis pepper-spraying: We Americans can have our free speech rights, as long as we don&apos;t try to exercise them
To: <newsfromunderground@googlegroups.com>


 

-  Glenn Greenwald  SUNDAY, NOV 20, 2011 7:09 AM EST

The roots of the UC-Davis pepper-spraying

VIDEO
police5

(updated below)

The now-viral video of police officers in their Robocop costumes sadistically pepper-spraying peaceful, sitting protesters at UC-Davis (details here) shows a police state in its pure form. It's easy to be outraged by this incident as though it's some sort of shocking aberration, but that is exactly what it is not. The Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta adeptly demonstrates with an assemblage of video how common such excessive police force has been in response to the Occupy protests. Along those lines, there are several points to note about this incident and what it reflects:

(1) Despite all the rights of free speech and assembly flamboyantly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the reality is that punishing the exercise of those rights with police force and state violence has been the reflexive response in America for quite some time. As Franke-Ruta put it, "America has a very long history of protests that meet with excessive or violent response, most vividly recorded in the second half of the 20th century." Digby yesterday recounted a similar though even worse incident aimed at environmental protesters.

The intent and effect of such abuse is that it renders those guaranteed freedoms meaningless. If a population becomes bullied or intimidated out of exercising rights offered on paper, those rights effectively cease to exist. Every time the citizenry watches peaceful protesters getting pepper-sprayed — or hears that an Occupy protester suffered brain damage and almost died after being shot in the skull with a rubber bullet — many become increasingly fearful of participating in this citizen movement, and also become fearful in general of exercising their rights in a way that is bothersome or threatening to those in power. That's a natural response, and it's exactly what the climate of fear imposed by all abusive police state actions is intended to achieve: to coerce citizens to "decide" on their own to be passive and compliant — to refrain from exercising their rights — out of fear of what will happen if they don't.

The genius of this approach is how insidious its effects are: because the rights continue to be offered on paper, the citizenry continues to believe it is free. They believe that they are free to do everything they choose to do, because they have been "persuaded" — through fear and intimidation — to passively accept the status quo. As Rosa Luxemburg so perfectly put it: "Those who do not move, do not notice their chains." Someone who sits at home and never protests or effectively challenges power factions will not realize that their rights of speech and assembly have been effectively eroded because they never seek to exercise those rights; it's only when we see steadfast, courageous resistance from the likes of these UC-Davis students is this erosion of rights manifest.

Pervasive police abuses and intimidation tactics applied to peaceful protesters — pepper-spray, assault rifles, tasers, tear gas and the rest — not only harm their victims but also the relationship of the citizenry to the government and the set of core political rights. Implanting fear of authorities in the heart of the citizenry is a far more effective means of tyranny than overtly denying rights. That's exactly what incidents like this are intended to achieve. Overzealous prosecution of those who engage in peaceful political protest (which we've seen more and more of over the last several years) as well as rampant secrecy and the sprawling Surveillance State are the close cousins of excessive police force in both intent and effect: they are all about deterring meaningful challenges to those in power through the exercise of basic rights. Rights are so much more effectively destroyed by bullying a citizenry out of wanting to exercise them than any other means. These two short video clips — regarding the openly abusive treatment of Bradley Manning and the extra-judicial attempt to destroy WikiLeaks — are how I've been trying to make this point over the past month in the various speeches I've given around the country:


 

(2) Although excessive police force has long been a reflexive response to American political protests, two developments in the post-9/11 world have exacerbated this. The first is that the U.S. Government — in the name of Terrorism — has aggressively para-militarized the nation's domestic police forces by lavishing them with countless military-style weapons and other war-like technologies, training them in war-zone military tactics, and generally imposing a war mentality on them. Arming domestic police forces with para-military weaponry will ensure their systematic use even in the absence of a Terrorist attack on U.S. soil; they will simply find other, increasingly permissive uses for those weapons. Responding to peaceful protests and other expressions of growing citizenry unrest with brute force is a direct by-product of what we've allowed to be done to America's domestic police forces in the name of the War on Terror (and, before that, in the name of the War on Drugs).

The second exacerbating development is more subtle but more important: the authoritarian mentality that has been nourished in the name of Terrorism. It's a very small step to go from supporting the abuse of defenseless detainees (including one's fellow citizens) to supporting the pepper-spraying and tasering of non-violent political protesters. It's an even smaller step to go from supporting the power of the President to imprison or kill anyone he wants(including one's fellow citizens and even their teenaged children) with no transparency, checks or due process to supporting the power of the police and the authorities who command them to punish with force anyone who commits the "crime" of non-compliance. At the root of all of those views is the classic authoritarian mindset: reflexive support for authority, contempt for those who challenge them, and a blind faith in their unilateral, unchecked decisions regarding who is Bad and deserves state-issued punishment.

It's anything but surprising that a country that has cheered as its Presidents seize the most limitless powers against allegedly Bad People — all as part of the ultimate instrument of citizen degradation: Endless War — cheer just as loudly when that same mindset is applied at home to domestic trouble-makers. The supreme threat has never been from foreign Terrorists, but rather from what was done by our own public- and private-sector authorities (and the mentality they successfully implanted) in their name.

 

(3) Beyond the light it is shedding on how power is really exercised in the U.S., this UC-Davis episode underscores why I continue to view the Occupy movement as one of the most exciting, inspiring and important political developments in many years. What's most striking about that UC-Davis video isn't the depraved casualness of the officer's dousing the protesters' faces with a chemical agent; it's how most of the protesters resolutely sat in place and refused to move even when that happened, while the crowd chanted support (this video, taken from a slightly different vantage point, vividly shows this, beginning at 4:15). We've repeatedly seen acts of similar courage spawned by the Occupy movement.

It was the NYPD's abusive pepper-spraying, followed by Mayor Bloomberg's lawless destruction of the Zuccotti Park encampment, that prompted far more people than ever to participate in the next march across the Brooklyn Bridge. Atear gas attack on Occupy Oakland was followed by a general strike of 20,000 people. And this truly extraordinary, blunt and piercing open letter demanding the resignation of the heinous UC-Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi was written by a young, untenured Assistant Professor — Nathan Brown — who obviously decided that his principled beliefs outweigh his careerist ambitions.

This is the most important effect of the Occupy movement: acts of defiance, courage and conscience are contagious. Just as the Arab Spring clearly played some significant role in spawning, sustaining and growing the American Occupy movement, so too have the Occupy protesters emboldened one another and their fellow citizens. The protest movement is driving the proliferation of new forms of activism, citizen passion and courage, and — most important of all — a sense of possibility. For the first time in a long time, the use of force and other forms of state intimidation are not achieving their intended outcome of deterring meaningful (i.e., unsanctioned and unwanted) citizen activism, but are, instead, spurring it even more. The state reactions to these protests are both highlighting pervasive abuses of power and generating the antidote: citizen resolve to no longer accept and tolerate it. This is why I hope to see the Occupy movement — even if it adopts specific demands — remain an outsider force rather than reduce itself into garden-variety partisan electioneering: in its current form, it is demanding and re-establishing the indispensable right of dissent, defiance of unjust authority, and sustained protest.

 

UPDATE: Regarding the last point — the uniquely effective, inspiring activism this movement is spawning — here is video of Chancellor Katehi walking to her car while being forced to confront a wall of silent condemnation and shaming. It's not the accountability she should face (firing), but one can see from this video that it's quite potent nonetheless; moreover, it really reveals who the actual threats are to public safety — not the protesters but rather those using force against them:

Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.More Glenn Greenwald

http://www.salon.com/2011/11/20/the_roots_of_the_uc_davis_pepper_spraying/singleton

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