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Bush's Final F.U.


In early December, the administration finalized a rule that allows the industry to dump waste from mountaintop mining into neighboring streams and valleys, a practice opposed by the governors of both Tennessee and Kentucky. “This makes it legal to use the most harmful coal-mining technology available,” says Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.


Factory farms are getting two major Christmas presents from Bush this year. Circumventing the Clean Water Act, the administration has approved last-minute regulations that will allow animal waste from factory farms to seep, unmonitored, into America’s waterways. The regulation leaves it up to the farms themselves to decide whether their pollution is dangerous enough to require them to apply for a permit.
In October, two weeks after consulting with industry lobbyists, the White House exempted more than 100 major polluters from monitoring their emissions of lead, a deadly neurotoxin. Seemingly hellbent on a more toxic future, the administration will also allow industry to treat 3 billion pounds of hazardous waste as “recycling” each year, and to burn another 200 million pounds of hazardous waste reclassified as “fuel,” increasing cancer-causing air pollution. The rule change is a reward to unrepentant polluters: Nearly 90 percent of the factories that will be permitted to burn toxic waste have already been cited for violating existing environmental protections.


In another last-minute shift, the administration has rewritten rules to make it harder for workers to take time off for serious medical conditions under the Family and Medical Leave Act.In addition, the administration has upped the number of hours that long-haul truckers can be on the road. The new rule — nearly identical to one struck down by a federal appeals court last year — allows trucking companies to put their drivers behind the wheel for 11 hours a day, with only 34 hours of downtime between hauls. The move is virtually certain to kill more motorists: Large-truck crashes already kill 4,800 drivers and injure another 76,000 every year.


In a rule that went into effect on December 8th, the administration also limited vision and dental care for more than 50 million low-income Americans who rely on Medicaid. “This means the states are going to have to pick up the tab or cut the services at a time when a majority of states are in a deficit situation,” says Bass of OMB Watch. “It’s a horrible time to do this.” To make matters worse, the administration has also raised co-payments for Medicaid, forcing families on poverty wages to pay up to 10 percent of the cost for doctor visits and medicine. One study suggests that co-payments could cause Medicaid patients to skip nearly a fifth of all prescription-drug treatments.


Under midnight regulations, the administration is seeking to lock in the domestic spying it began even before 9/11. One rule under consideration would roll back Watergate-era prohibitions barring state and local law enforcement from spying on Americans and sharing that information with U.S. intelligence agencies.
MORE



And its going be fucking hard to overturn:

John Podesta, the transition chief for the Obama administration, has vowed that the new president will leverage his "executive authority" to fight Bush's last-minute rule changes. But according to experts who study midnight regulations, there's surprisingly little an incoming executive can do to overturn such rules. The Bush administration succeeded in repealing just three percent of the regulations finalized before Bill Clinton left office in 2001. "Midnight regulations under Bush are being executed early and with great intent," says Bass of OMB Watch. "And that intent is to lock the next administration into these regulations, making it very difficult for Obama to undo what Bush just did."

To protect the new rules against repeal, the Bush administration began amping up its last-gasp regulatory process back in May. The goal was to have all new regulations finalized by November 1st, providing enough time to accommodate the 60-day cooling-off period required before major rule changes — those that create an economic impact greater than $100 million — can be implemented.

Now, however, the administration has fallen behind schedule — so it's gaming the system to push through its rules. In several cases, the Office of Management and Budget has fudged the numbers to classify rules that could have billion-dollar consequences as "non-major" — allowing any changes made through mid-December to take effect in just 30 days, before Obama is inaugurated. The administration's determination of what constitutes a major change is not subject to review in court, and the White House knows it: Spokesman Tony Fratto crowed that the 60-day deadline is "irrelevant to our process."MORE



Thanks a LOT, Republicans. Thanks a LOT. The only consolation I have at the mo' is that a fucking lot of you are going to feel it, right along with us traitorous, ungodly, unAmerican libruls. You see, funny thing about Ayers and Wright. You all screamed about them left and right. How wicked they were. How they are terrorists. How they hate America. Etc. etc. And yet, your evangelical president. The one who came to power on "compassionate conservatism" . Has and IS fucking over millions of Americans. In ways that will be far-reaching and and damned hard to contain, much less eradicate. Unto your own children's children. Much, much, MUCH more damage than those guys would EVER have done. And yet. They are the enemy. And Obama, the black guy. Is teh one you are scared of. Fucking ignorant fools.
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Prop. 8 sponsors seek to nullify 18K gay marriages

The sponsors of Proposition 8 asked the California Supreme Court on Friday to nullify the marriages of the estimated 18,000 same-sex couples who exchanged vows before voters approved the ballot initiative that outlawed gay unions.

The Yes on 8 campaign filed a brief arguing that because the new law holds that only marriages between a man and a woman are recognized or valid in California, the state can no longer recognize the existing same-sex unions.

"Proposition 8's brevity is matched by its clarity. There are no conditional clauses, exceptions, exemptions or exclusions," reads the brief co-written by Pepperdine University law school dean Kenneth Starr, the former independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton.MORE




Well, like Rick Warren said, those marriages are hurting millions, got that, millions of heterosexuals who are married, after all. Oh what company you keep, Obama.

Home Invasion
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Via:Pams House Blend

* This will be the most open, accessible, and inclusive Inauguration in American history. * In keeping with the spirit of unity and common purpose this Inauguration will reflect, the President-elect and Vice President-elect have chosen some of the world's most gifted artists and people with broad appeal to participate in the inaugural ceremonies.
* Pastor Rick Warren has a long history of activism on behalf of the disadvantaged and the downtrodden. He's devoted his life to performing good works for the poor and leads the evangelical movement in addressing the global HIV/AIDS crisis. In fact, the President-elect recently addressed Rick Warren's Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health to salute Warren's leadership in the struggle against HIV/AIDS and pledge his support to the effort in the years ahead.
* The President-elect disagrees with Pastor Warren on issues that affect the LGBT community. They disagree on other issues as well. But what's important is that they agree on many issues vital to the pursuit of social justice, including poverty relief and moving toward a sustainable planet; and they share a commitment to renewing America's promise by expanding opportunity at home and restoring our moral leadership abroad.
* As he's said again and again, the President-elect is committed to bringing together all sides of the faith discussion in search of common ground. That's the only way we'll be able to unite this country with the resolve and common purpose necessary to solve the challenges we face.
* The Inauguration will also involve Reverend Joseph Lowery, who will be delivering the official benediction at the Inauguration. Reverend Lowery is a giant of the civil rights movement who boasts a proudly progressive record on LGBT issues. He has been a leader in the struggle for civil rights for all Americans, gay or straight.
* And for the very first time, there will be a group representing the interests of LGBT Americans participating in the Inaugural Parade.


1. Apparently gay rights and women's reproductive rights do not come under social justice.

2. And a marching band is supposed to make up for this?

3. What kind of common ground can LGBT Americans and women find with people who are hellbent on destroying and controlling them, exactly?

4. What, is HIV/AIDS a gay disease or something? Where did that come from in the debate?

5. Good on you for Rev. Lowery. Still doesn't excuse Rev "abortion is equal to the Holocaust", "samesex marrigae is equal to childrape" Warren.

6. Funny how Republicans can manage to push their anti-everyone but rich Christian fundamentalist agenda's through when they are in power, and fuck the liberals and everyone else, but somehow Dems. feel that they need to fuck liberals as well when they get into power in order to be Pres. of all people.

7. Separate but equal is not equal.

8. Softly spoken bigotry is still fucking bigotry.

9. We are NOT FUCKING ISSUES, asshole. We are PEOPLE. There is a difference.
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Go thou to change.gov, scroll to the bottom and under Agenda, you can click on all the stuff that you want to know about what Mr. Pres proposes to do in improve our great nation. Here are some of my favorites:

The Women's Agenda

Caring for Women Vets, Trying to reduce poverty among women, Improving about of Women in Math and Science, Uphold Roe vs Wade,Create Work Pensions, Work to prevent Violence against women, working to prevent unintended pregnancy, reducing health risks due to mercury pollution, work to end pay discrimination (why not just work to pass the Equal Rights Amendment?) Etc. etc. Go read its full of good stuff.

Teh Civil Rights Agenda (scroll down for teh gay part.)
Now then. Re: civil rights for POC : There is end employment discrimination, and :

# Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: Obama and Biden will strengthen federal hate crimes legislation, expand hate crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act, and reinvigorate enforcement at the Department of Justice's Criminal Section.
# End Deceptive Voting Practices: Obama will sign into law his legislation that establishes harsh penalties for those who have engaged in voter fraud and provides voters who have been misinformed with accurate and full information so they can vote.
# End Racial Profiling: Obama and Biden will ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal incentives to state and local police departments to prohibit the practice.
Also reduce crime recidivisms and use the drug courts more to do more drug rehab than straight prison for first time non-violent offenders.

Re LGBT issues: Repeal Dont Ask dont Tell, Expand hate crimes statutes, Fight Workplace Discrimination, Full Civil Union and Fed Rights equal to married couples ( which would work out well for straight ppl who don't want to get married as well, but seriously. Get over whatever the heck is bothering you and support gay marriage already for gods sake!)Expand adoption rights HELLO FLORIDA AND ARKANSAS , oppose constitution bullshitting about marriage =1 man, 1 woman, promote HIV/AIDS prevention with special emphasis on women.

In the first year of his presidency, Barack Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. Obama will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. Obama also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS. He will continue to speak out on this issue as president.

Re: homophobia, may we hope to see him avoid homophobic gospel purveyors as well? Anyway...



More on Immigration, Defense, Rural and Urban Policy when we come back! )
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Where do human rights begin? Many would say they begin right here at home. Closing Guantanamo is a start but the fight for Human Rights goes much deeper. Catherine Powell, the author of Human Rights at Home: A Domestic Policy Blueprint for the New Administration and an associate professor of Law at Fordham Law School says that human rights should include access to health care, equal opportunity for education, a living wage, and the elimination of racial and ethnic discrimination in U.S. prisons. And Barack Obama can initiate a process of human rights reform through his appointments to domestic agencies, the Justice Department and by reestablishing the Interagency Working Group on Human Rights created under Clinton and abolished by George W. Bush. There are opportunities. Laura Whitehorn a political prisoner for fourteen years and the editor of POZ magazine says that the United States can no longer use the war on terror and the threat of terrorism to justify the abdication of human rights law. In essence, preventive detention has been legalized under the Bush administration.
But improving the U.S. human rights record will not necessarily come from the top down. Ajamu Baraka a leading human rights activist and the Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network says that it’s up to activists and the American public to push for more sweeping reform. And he thinks the public is up to it. Contrary to the U.S. record abroad and at home over the last eight years, the American public is very much in support of global human rights.
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Via: Orion at Pams House Blend


All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression." - Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801



The NAACP gets it
Kip put it better than I did by simply placing two significant quotes next to each other.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
--Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
Who's going to tell us what a civil right is and what's not? Well, the people will.
--Massachusetts Governor, Harvard Law School graduate (and Christian), Mitt Romney, June 28, 2006
Who? The people?
Like maybe Gladys? Or any of the rest of these folks?
Think about it for a second. If they had a shot at it, which civil rights court rulings would these people like to see overturned? And not just the people in the video, but the far more politically savvy people who get them "angried-up" and out at the polls? The people whose founders, favored politicians, and spokespersons have a peculiar habit of defending America's peculiar institution? The people who could conceivably mount a campaign to repeal civil rights rulings that they are "not against" but that are "no longer necessary"? (I'm just guessing how they might spin it.
Which would you like to see up for a vote:
  • Brown v. Board of Education (school desegregation, major blow against "separate but equal")
  • Roe v. Wade (reproductive freedom)
  • Shelley v. Kramer (racially restrictive "covenants" in real estate - This one's definitely on Glady's list)
  • Bailey v. Patterson (segregation in intrastate and interstate transportation)
  • Batson v. Kentucky (basically says you can't put, say, a Black person on trial and exclude Black people from the jury)
  • Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson (defined "hostile work environment" as sexual harassment under the Civil Rights Act of 1964)
  • Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Serv. Inc. (same-sex harassment can be the basis for a sexual harassment claim)
  • Romer v. Evans (overturned Colorado amendment prohibiting protection of LGBT rights)
  • Lawrence v. Texas (decriminalized sodomy, overturned sodomy laws)
  • Grisswold v. Connecticut (overturned law banning contraception, right to "marital privacy")
  • And of course the major civil rights acts of
    • 1957 (established the Civil Rights Commission)
    • 1960 (federal inspection of voter registration polls)
    • 1964 (prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, sex, and national origin)
    • 1968 (Fair Housing Act)
You could almost line them up chronologically and figure out how far people would like to turn back the clock if they could. In a very real sense, even if you're not gay, you could be "next" on their list. MORE
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In October, it was reported that a damning documentary was to air on PBS, but, funnily enough, it was set to air after the Bush Administration had left office. Did PBS Bury an Expose on Torture? Then a week later, this explanation was offered, and the documentary finally aired. But it seems to have been buried under the election hoopla. Thanks to Glenn Greenwald's expose on John Brennan who is Obama's transition adviser re: intelligence policy, I found it again. It is now online. May I suggest...watch it.



Torturing Democracy



EDIT:And this is why I have trouble finishing the Shock Doctrine.

EDIT2: John Yoo, the Addington guy? Hague. NOW. Cheney and Rumsfeld? Right behind them. Pres. Bush? Straight Prison. Obama? DON'T YOU DARE LET THESE PPL GET AWAY WITH THIS.

EDIT3: The Spanish Inquisition? The SOVIET UNION? THAT is what the American models were? Backing out of the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war. Oh god. Oh god. And we want god to bless America?

A start. What will this mean in practice?
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Why is a U.S. Army brigade being assigned to the "Homeland"?
They'll learn new skills, use some of the ones they acquired in the war zone and more than likely will not be shot at while doing any of it. They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack. . . .
The 1st BCT's soldiers also will learn how to use "the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded," 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them. MORE



Unleashing the army on protesters. Our freedoms indeed. WHERE THE FUCK IS THE MEDIA ON THIS?

Well fuck me. Why did I ask?


In non-financial crisis news, the long predicted alliance of telecoms and entertainment titans have joined up to fight for infinite copyright, unlimited spying powers on your computer by private companies AND against net neutrality. This time, the coalition is called Arts+Labs (though I am going to call it the Hot Soup coalition for reasons that will become clear), and it includes members AT&T, Cisco, Viacom, NBC Universal and the Songwriters Guild of America (SGA), and Microsoft. The coalition is run by two savvy insiders, one from each party, so that it will be officially bipartisan and serious. Behind door number one is Bush campaign media advisor Mark McKinnon, who now works at a firm called Maverick Media and formerly launched the high profile success story HotSoup (edited by McCain advisor/AP political editor Ron Fourner). And behind door number two is our favorite former Clinton White House press secretary, Mike McCurry, who apparently doesn't mind his reputation turning to complete shit. MORE



sigh.
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Warning for College Student voters

Last week, Virginia’s Montgomery County, home to Virginia Tech, issued a press release regarding proper protocol for college students registering to vote. In interviews with Inside Higher Ed Tuesday, it was described by turns as “unsubstantiated,” “chilling,” and (more generously) as not “incredibly encouraging or friendly.”

It reads, in part: “The Code of Virginia states that a student must declare a legal residence in order to register. A legal residence can be either a student’s permanent address from home or their current college residence. By making Montgomery County your permanent residence, you have declared your independence from your parents and can no longer be claimed as a dependent on their income tax filings — check with your tax professional. If you have a scholarship attached to your former residence, you could lose this funding. And, if you change your registration to Montgomery County, Virginia Code requires you to change your driver’s license and car registration to your present address within 30 days.”

The county registrar of elections said Tuesday that the memo was intended to counteract the absence of cautionary information given to students signed up through the ubiquitous get-out-the-vote registration drives. Generally speaking, however, those interviewed for this article said the warnings are, at worst, farfetched and misleading, or, at best, overstated and not typically supported in reality.

And, in a year in which historic youth voter turnout is anticipated, and the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has been propelled by college students’ support, this case in the battleground state of Virginia is “not an isolated incident,” said Sujatha Jahagirdar, program director for the Student Public Interest Research Group’s nonpartisan New Voters Project.

“For a county registrar to issue what really are in our experience unsubstantiated warnings for a particular demographic is alarming,” said Jahagirdar. “It’s upsetting that this is coming up in Virginia. But it’s even more upsetting that the ability of young people to vote is questioned in many other states too.”

She added: “In 25 years of registering young voters around the country, none of the staff has ever heard of a single incident where a student has lost their tax status or their scholarship because of where they’ve registered to vote.”

Meanwhile, Obama’s campaign, which has been registering voters on Virginia Tech’s campus, has called the information propagated by the county “erroneous.” The campaign’s Virginia spokesman, Kevin Griffis, cited an exemption in the U.S. tax code allowing dependents to live away from home while attending school.

And he said that while students should check with their individual health insurers, in the campaign’s calls to 10 top health insurance companies, none indicated that registering to vote at a college address would be grounds for dismissing students from coverage, “and in fact some of them laughed at us.” (In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Lynne High, a spokeswoman for the mammoth United Healthcare, echoed that students covered on their parents’ health insurance plans aren’t affected if they register to vote in another state.)

“We should be trying to engage as many people as possible in the political process, and have them take part in the civic life of their communities. In the case of students at Virginia Tech, their community is Blacksburg. That’s where they live; that’s where they call home. They should be able to vote there,” Griffis said. (The campaign of the Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, did not return a call to its Virginia state office Tuesday.)
MORE

he's 17

Sep. 4th, 2008 01:15 pm
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Boot print on his back: Photographs, video of 17-year-old RNC protester after run-in with police

Melissa Smith-Tourville says her 17-year-old son Keith is a pacifist and “he’d never hurt anyone.” But yesterday he was the target of violence by police, she says: Trying to leave Monday’s march on the Republican National Convention, Keith was wrestled to the ground by five officers, according to his mother, who were “repeatedly kicking, beating, dragging and hitting him.” [Read Smith-Tourville's account of what happened.] Bloody, he was taken into custody by police for two hours and, his mom says, his release by St. Paul police was in violation of Minnesota law.
Smith-Tourville is seeking legal advice from Coldsnap Legal Collective. They told her that as a minor, state law says that Keith should’ve been put in contact with his parents. “Keith repeatedly asked to call his parents,” she says. “He said he can’t even count how many times he said, ‘Can I call my parents?’”



MORE pics and stories



Concert goers peacful, 102 arrested for "blocking traffic"



Hundreds of police (and dozens of media personnel) greeted concert-goers as they left the Rage Against the Machine concert at the Target Center in Minneapolis. No violence or property damage was observed, but 102 people were arrested for “blocking traffic.”
Police blocked vehicle traffic on 1st Avenue in front of the Target Center and many Rage fans simply sat on the curb waiting for something, anything, to happen. It would be half an hour before police ordered people to disperse or be arrested, and police on horseback had assembled a line on 6th Street.

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Via: The Campaign Silo at Firedoglake

ColdSnapLegal: reports the following was just on the Police scanner "Police are blocking 10th, 11th and St Peter and saying they are "going in for the kill because we are sick of this shit."


What, sick of allowing people their Constitutional rights? Really?



Along with the actions on the street, there are also a number of reports of mistreatment of those being held in the jail – a protester who is anemic and has passed out and was refused medical care, 15 others went on hunger strike to demand medical care for those who need it and there’s a report that one protestor being held has been pepper sprayed “all over her body” and is not being allowed to wash it off and now has 1st degree burns. We'll be getting contact information so folks can call and demand medical care for any in need.
Thanks to Doc Murphy, the contact numbers to use are:

St. Paul Mayor, Chris Coleman: 651.266.8510
Ramsey County Sherriff, Bob Fletcher: 651.266.8500

Complaint Number for the jail: 651-266-8989
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10,000 march, and then idiot anarchists start a riot. 250 arrested.


They had come in their thousands – grandmothers, veterans, young families and even disgruntled Republicans bearing banners and peace flags, to demand an end to the five-year conflict. And for the most part, the demonstrations passed off peacefully.

But once the main antiwar march had finished, splinter groups embarked on a violent rampage, smashing windows, slashing car tyres, throwing bottles and even attacking Republican delegates attending the nearby Xcel Centre.

Many of those involved identified themselves to reporters as anarchists. These protesters, some clad in black, wreaked havoc by damaging property and starting at least one fire.

...


The anti-war march was organised by a group called the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, whose leaders said they hoped for a peaceful, family friendly event. But police were on high alert after months of preparations by a self-described anarchist group called the RNC Welcoming Committee, which was not among the organisers of the march.

Most of the trouble was in pockets of a neighbourhood near downtown, several blocks from where the convention was taking place. Police fired tear gas canisters and used pepper spray on protesters who tried to block key streets.

Up to 200 people from various groups marched in a noisy “Funk the War" march. Clad in black, protesters smashed windows of cars and stores, tipped over rubbish bins, pulled down street signs and bent the rear-view mirrors on a bus. Some wore gas masks and bandanas to protect themselves from smoke bombs and other chemical irritants. MORE


[livejournal.com profile] janradder sums it up:


So a small group of idiots managed to make sure that the message of 10,000 played second fiddle to theirs. Now, if you're going to tell me that's the fault of the media, stop. You (the anarchists) know just as well as I do that that's what the media does. Of course people breaking stuff and trying to start a riot is going to get more ink and more air time than people marching peaceably in the streets, holding signs and chanting. You know that and I know that and to pretend otherwise is just making excuses for yourself. Sure, it's fun to run wild in the street, but tell me, how is what you did any different from the college kids who riot after their team wins a national title? Because I really don't see a difference. You may have a point to all this, but what is it? And how are your methods getting it across? How does slamming a dumpster into the side of an occupied squad car show you want the war to end? How does smashing the windows of a Macy's tell people you want a change in government? How does assaulting Republican delegates (including an 80 year old man who had to be treated for injuries) help convince people that what the Republicans are doing is wrong? How does throwing a brick through a bus window and injuring the blue collar driver let people know you care about unions and living wages? How does throwing bent nails, newspaper kiosks and garbage cans in the street show that you care about the environment? Because to me, your actions make you no better than the people you're "protesting" against. As many have said, the ends don't justify the means, but what exactly are your ends? To prevent the Republican delegates from attending their convention and thus suppressing their right to free speech because your rights are more important or valid than theirs? Maybe you do have a valid point to all this but I certainly don't see it. All I see is a bunch of self-righteous thugs using political action as an excuse to break the law.



What interests me, though, is the many incidents of pepperspray and teargas aimed directly, not at protestors, but at press people and observing lawyers and in one case, Donna Brazile

The Uptake and I-Witness Blog have more.
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The History of Breaking Up Protests Before They Can Happen, How Cops Have Spent Years Squashing the Right to Assembly and Free Speech


Today Jane and Lindsay -- together with Glenn Greenwald, Twin Cities Indymedia, and Pacifica -- gave us compelling reports from the Twin Cities: frontline du jour in corporatist America's seemingly endless War On The Commons. Congress - with eager support from Senator Amy Klobuchar - put out a trough of 50 million dollars to pull local "law" enforcement into the RNC feeding frenzy. As Amy K helpfully pointed out, Congress also set out 50 million troughs for local cops before the nominating convention in Denver last week and those in Boston and New York in 2004. That's on top of the tens (hundreds?) of millions for the Federal "Fusion Centers" and the FBI, Fatherland Homeland Security, Secret Service, and our very own Pentagon's Northcom -- the domestic strong arm of General Smedley Butler's enforcement racket—to criminalize public assembly and speech during yet another major party coronation. Why do America's corporatist controlled organs of "State Security" need to pay hundreds of millions every four years to keep paper maché puppets off the streets and out of the parks?

Today in the Twin Cities and last week in Denver—just as in New York and Boston in 2004 and LA and Philly in 2000—the nominating conventions pageants' "law" enforcement sit below the Department of the Treasury's Secret Service in the power pyramid. That's why every time local citizens and demo organizers go to Federal court to beg for some shard of the First Amendment to cover a "permitted" march route near the convention sites, their attorneys end up hearing the Secret Service has the final say in "security" decisions affecting the conventions. No surprise, then, that when local Twin Cities "law" enforcement went on a round-up rampage today, FBI and Fatherland Homeland Security were right there with the locals for (yet another) warrantless search.MORE



RNC Stasi Sweeps: A Bob Fletcher Special?


What the hell were Ramsey County sheriff's department people doing invading houses in Hennepin-fricking-County? That last question, as it turns out, helps to answer some of the others.
Bob Fletcher is the sheriff of Ramsey County. Bob Fletcher is a Republican from the formerly lily-white St. Paul suburb of Maplewood, which has for decades had an uneasy relationship with its southern neighbor. Bob Fletcher is also on the verge of losing his job, as a long-standing FBI corruption probe that has already taken out two of his buddies is drawing its net around him; he may well feel that he has nothing to lose and everything to gain by using extralegal methods to please his RNC pals.
Sheriff Fletcher justified his tactics by amping up the alleged threat posed by the media groups and protesters whose lodgings were invaded:
In a statement Saturday morning, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said the St. Paul raid targeted the RNC Welcoming Committee, a group he described as "a criminal enterprise made up of 35 self-described anarchists...intent on committing criminal acts before and during the Republican National Convention."
"These acts include tactics to blockade and disable delegate buses, breaching venue security and injuring police officers," Fletcher said. Deputies seized a variety of items that they believed were tools of civil disobedience: a gas mask, bolt cutters, axes, slingshots, homemade "caltrops" for disabling buses, even buckets of urine.
Some folks begged to differ:
But the raids drew immediate condemnation from activists and St. Paul City Councilman Dave Thune, whose district includes the former theater at 627 Smith Avenue South, which was rented by activists as a gathering space.
"This is not the way to start things off," Thune said Saturday morning. "This is sending the wrong message. Regardless of how you feel about these people...they had a right to be there."
[...]
Thune was especially critical of Fletcher for taking action within St. Paul city limits.
"I'm really ticked off...the city is perfectly capable of taking care of things," Thune said. "If they had found anything that could have been used to commit a crime they would have arrested somebody."
Said Thune: "Unless they come up with anthrax or weapons of mass destruction, I think they came up short."
MORE



[livejournal.com profile] permibus reports:


POLICE SEIZE PERMIBUS

Please Post Far and Wide including any Media Contacts You May Have

At approximately 6:25 pm on August 30, 2008 Minneapolis Police, Minnesota State Troopers, Ramsey County Sheriffs, Saint Paul Police, and University of Minnesota Police pulled over the Earth Activist Training Permaculture Demonstration Bus (Permibus) by exit 237 on Interstate 94. Initially the police told the people on the bus to exit. When the people on the bus asked if they were being detained they were told that they were but police were unable to provide justification. When asked why they pulled the bus over they refused to answer. After repeated requests to explain why the bus had been stopped Officer Honican of the Minneapolis Police explained that this was just a routine traffic stop though he did not explain the reason for the traffic stop. The police then told Stan Wilson, the driver and registered owner of the Permibus, that they were going to impound the bus in case they wanted to execute a search warrant later. After more than an hour of being questioned by Stan and Delyla Wilson as to the legalities of their detainment and the impoundment of the Permibus, the police then informed Stan that the bus, which is legally registered as a passenger vehicle in the state of Montana, was being impounded for a commercial vehicle inspection. Shortly afterward Sergeant Paul Davis, a commercial vehicle inspector arrived on scene. Despite the polices insistence that the reason for impoundment was for a commercial vehicle inspection the Permibus crew were not allowed to remove anything from the bus including computers, toiletries, and 17-year-old Megan Wilson's shoes. The police finally allowed the animals to be removed from the Permibus before it was towed, leaving the Permibus family standing beside their chickens and dogs, homeless on the highway.


The Permibus was relocating from the Bedlam Theatre in Minneapolis, where they had spent the day teaching Urban Permaculture, to a friend's house in Saint Paul for a well deserved break. The Permibus has been in the Minneapolis area since August 2nd when the crew appeared at the Midtown Farmers Market for a morning of Permaculture education including Permaculture 101, chicken care, seed ball making for kids, and the Permi-puppet show. During the past month the Permibus has parked at several local businesses and, as a neighborly gesture of respect for local police, Mr. Wilson contacted the appropriate precincts just to let them know the Permibus was in the area and had permission from the business owners to be parked on their lot. Through this, as well as other casual discussions with Minneapolis and Saint Paul police officers, the Permibus crew found the local police to be interested and respectful. However on August 30th all that changed when, for no apparent valid reason the police pulled over and seized the Permibus. After the incident Stan Wilson said, "If the combined law enforcement of Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Ramsey County, and the State of Minnesota can pull over and impound a vehicle and home used to teach organic gardening and sustainability, one has to wonder what it is our government really fears. After all, we seek to teach people that the real meaning of homeland security is local food, fuel and energy production. For that we have had our lives stolen by government men with guns."


As of now, after repeated requests to be present at any vehicle inspection, with an list of what they are inspecting for, as well as requests to be served any warrants for searches of the vehicles prior to a search and to be present during the search the Permi-family has been unable to ascertain the current status of the Permibus. On site Mr. Wilson was told that Officer Palmerranky was the inspector in charge of the case and would determine if the Permi-family's rights protecting them from unreasonable search and seizure would be respected. Neither Officer Palmerranky nor his supervisor has yet to return Mr. Wilson's calls.MORE



Pics of teh seizure here



Goodman now released:

September 01, 2008
Update: Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar Released After Illegal Arrest at RNC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 1, 2008

Contact: Mike Burke

UPDATE

Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar Released After Illegal Arrest at RNC

Goodman Charged with Obstruction; Felony Riot Charges Pending Against Kouddous and Salazar

ST. PAUL--Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar have all been released from police custody in St. Paul following their illegal arrest by Minneapolis Police on Monday afternoon.

All three were violently manhandled by law enforcement officers. Abdel Kouddous was slammed against a wall and the ground, leaving his arms scraped and bloodied. He sustained other injuries to his chest and back. Salazar's violent arrest by baton-wielding officers, during which she was slammed to the ground while yelling, "I'm Press! Press!," resulted in her nose bleeding, as well as causing facial pain. Goodman's arm was violently yanked by police as she was arrested.

On Tuesday, Democracy Now! will broadcast video of these arrests, as well as the broader police action. These will also be available on: www.democracynow.org
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Democracy Now reporter Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar were arrested by the Minneapolis Police Department. Charged with conspiracy to riot. Footage from Rick Rowley and Brandon Jourdan.


Scenes from St. Paul -- Democracy Now's Amy Goodman arrested


Following up on this weekend's extreme raids on various homes, at least 50 people were arrested here today in St. Paul, Minnesota. Beginning last night, St. Paul was the most militarized I have ever seen an American city be, even more so than Manhattan in the week of 9/11 -- with troops of federal, state and local law enforcement agents marching around with riot gear, machine guns, and tear gas cannisters, shouting military chants and marching in military formations. Humvees and law enforcement officers with rifles were posted on various buildings and balconies. Numerous protesters and observers were tear gassed and injured. I'll have video of the day's events posted shortly.

...

UPDATE IV: The Washington Post has a few more details on the arrest of Goodman and the two Democracy Now producers. In addition to them, a photographer for Associated Press was also arrested today while covering the protests (h/t Edward Champion). An AP spokesman said of the arrest: "covering news is constitutionally protected, and photographers should not be detained for covering breaking news." Democratic strategist and CNN commentator Donna Brazile was hit by pepper spray on her way into the Xcel Center. Just as was true for the despicable home raids this weekend, there will be no shortage of people defending all of this (browse through the comment section here to see many such people). The fact that there were some criminals engaged in some destructive acts (who, needless to say, should have been arrested), apparently means that whatever the Police do both before and afterwards is justifiable (just as the existence of some Terrorists justifies whatever the Government does in many people's minds).">MORE


Federal government involved in raids on protesters
As the police attacks on protesters in Minnesota continue -- see this video of the police swarming a bus transporting members of Earth Justice, seizing the bus and leaving the group members stranded on the side of the highway -- it appears increasingly clear that it is the Federal Government that is directing this intimidation campaign. Minnesota Public Radio reported yesterday that "the searches were led by the Ramsey County Sheriff's office. Deputies coordinated searches with the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

Today's Star Tribune added that the raids were specifically "aided by informants planted in protest groups." Back in May, Marcy Wheeler presciently noted that the Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force -- an inter-agency group of federal, state and local law enforcement led by the FBI -- was actively recruiting Minneapolis residents to serve as plants, to infiltrate "vegan groups" and other left-wing activist groups and report back to the Task Force about what they were doing. There seems to be little doubt that it was this domestic spying by the Federal Government that led to the excessive and truly despicable home assaults by the police yesterday.

...


After all, if you don't want the FBI spying on you, or the Police surrounding and then invading your home with rifles and seizing your computers, there's a very simple solution: don't protest the Government. Just sit quietly in your house and mind your own business. That way, the Government will have no reason to monitor what you say and feel the need to intimidate you by invading your home. Anyone who decides to protest -- especially with something as unruly and disrespectful as an unauthorized street march -- gets what they deserve.

Isn't it that mentality which very clearly is the cause of virtually everyone turning away as these police raids escalate against citizens -- including lawyers, journalists and activists -- who have broken no laws and whose only crime is that they intend vocally to protest what the Government is doing? Add to that the fact that many good establishment liberals are embarrassed by leftist protesters of this sort and wish that they would remain invisible, and there arises a widespread consensus that these Government attacks are perfectly tolerable if not desirable.
During the Olympics just weeks ago, there was endless hand-wringing over the efforts by the Chinese Government to squelch dissent and incarcerate protesters. On August 21, The Washington Post fretted:
Six Americans detained by police this week could be held for 10 days, according to Chinese authorities, who appear to be intensifying their efforts to shut down any public demonstrations during the final days of the Olympic Games. . . . Chinese Olympic officials announced last month that Beijing would set up zones where people could protest during the Games, as long as they had received permission. None of the 77 applications submitted was approved, however, and several other would-be protesters were stopped from even applying.
On August 2, The Post gravely warned:
Behind the gray walls and barbed wire of the prison here, eight Chinese farmers with a grievance against the government have been consigned to Olympic limbo. Their indefinite detainment, relatives and neighbors said, is the price they are paying for stirring up trouble as China prepares to host the Beijing Games. Trouble, the Communist Party has made clear, will not be permitted.
Would The Washington Post ever use such dark and accusatory tones to describe what the U.S. Government does? Of course it wouldn't. Yet how is our own Government's behavior in Minnesota any different than what the Chinese did to its protesters during the Olympics (other than the fact that we actually have a Constitution that prohibits such behavior)?


MORE
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Via:Firedoglake


First they came for the Muslims, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Muslim. Then they came to detain immigrants indefinitely solely upon the certification of the Attorney General, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't an immigrant.
Then they came to eavesdrop on suspects consulting with their attorneys, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a suspect.
Then they came to prosecute non-citizens before secret military commissions, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a non-citizen.
Then they came to enter homes and offices for unannounced "sneak and peek" searches, and I didn't speak up because I had nothing to hide.
Then they came to reinstate Cointelpro and resume the infiltration and surveillance of domestic religious and political groups, and I didn't speak up because I had stopped participating in any groups.
Then they came for anyone who objected to government policy because it aided the terrorists and gave ammunition to America's enemies, and I didn't speak up because...... I didn't speak up.
Then they came for me....... and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Stephen Rohde, a constitutional lawyer and President of the ACLU of Southern California, is indebted to the inspiration of Rev. Martin Niemoller (1937).




Press and Politicians Silent in the Face of the RNC Police Harrasment and Snatch Squads Speaks Louder Than Words

It's notable that as of this writing, at midnight, I see nothing on the NY Times front page or on their US page about the RNC harassment, arrests and snatch squads. I see nothing on the Washington Post's front page, or its Politics page. As best I am aware no major Democratic politician has made a statement that warrants should be required before busting down doors, or that protesters have a right to protest, or that people even have a right to see a warrant.
Why is that? Is it that there's a bipartisan consensus that civil liberties are just for talk, but when the handcuffs get slapped on people who have done nothing, when people are punished for crimes they haven't commited, that it's no big deal as long as they aren't anyone important? Is it that Democrats stirring words about civil liberties were as sincere as many of their promises to vote against warrantless wiretapping?MORE



Breaking: As Police Mass Downtown and 9 More People Are Arrested, Legal Groups File Emergency Motion to Stop Cell and Camera Seizures During RNC

Update: ColdSnap is reporting 9 arrests downtown near the Excel center and police massing all over the downtown core.

The National Lawyers Guild and Communities United Against Police Brutality have filed an emergency motion to stop the seizure of cell phones and cameras during the RNC.

The groups will hold a joint press conference at Hennepin County Government Plaza to discuss their application for an emergency injunction, according to a tweet issued by the ColdSnap Legal Collective.



Habeas Corpus in Ramsey County, MN

he 6 activists arrested during police raids in advance of the Republican National Convention are being held without charge by the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, the Minnesota Independent reports.

The arrestees are being held on probable cause holds. These holds give the authorities 36 hours to charge them or let them go. Holds are typically used to give investigators more time to gather evidence before filing formal charges.

Holds allow police to charge first and ask questions later. Sometimes that's a good thing. Arrest opportunities are unpredictable. A suspect could slip away in the time it takes to turn a solid suspicion into sufficient evidence to file charges. A probable cause hold buys the police some time to dot the i's and cross the t's.

However, it doesn't take a genius to see how the power to detain people without charge can be abused. For example, unethical police officers have been known to use frivolous holds as quickie jail terms. Piss off the police, spend 3 days in jail—no trial required. MORE
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Lovely


Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.
...
In the house that had just been raided, those inside described how a team of roughly 25 officers had barged into their homes with masks and black swat gear, holding large semi-automatic rifles, and ordered them to lie on the floor, where they were handcuffed and ordered not to move. The officers refused to state why they were there and, until the very end, refused to show whether they had a search warrant. They were forced to remain on the floor for 45 minutes while the officers took away the laptops, computers, individual journals, and political materials kept in the house. One of the individuals renting the house, an 18-year-old woman, was extremely shaken as she and others described how the officers were deliberately making intimidating statements such as "Do you have Terminator ready?" as they lay on the floor in handcuffs. The 10 or so individuals in the house all said that though they found the experience very jarring, they still intended to protest against the GOP Convention, and several said that being subjected to raids of that sort made them more emboldened than ever to do so.
Several of those who were arrested are being represented by Bruce Nestor, the President of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers' Guild. Nestor said that last night's raid involved a meeting of a group calling itself the "RNC Welcoming Committee", and that this morning's raids appeared to target members of "Food Not Bombs," which he described as an anti-war, anti-authoritarian protest group. There was not a single act of violence or illegality that has taken place, Nestor said. Instead, the raids were purely anticipatory in nature, and clearly designed to frighten people contemplating taking part in any unauthorized protests.See videos and more reports here


Now, [livejournal.com profile] haddyr has come up with a possible pretext for the raids, the fact that an organization calling itself the RNC Welcoming Committee was planning to disrupt the convention. However, other organizations such as Food, Not Bombs, to say nothing of members of I-Witness, a group that has the bad habit of filming the police doing rather illegal things (like arresting people without cause and lying about the circumstances) were also targeted and held in place until the raids were finished.

[livejournal.com profile] fengi adds even more context to the story:
Now, there are some people I consider confrontational idiots among the protesters. I don't like dealing with them in Chicago either. It should be pointed out their plans to disrupt traffic was just one part, one page of the anti-RNC organizing site. They were not, in fact, the organizers of all protests. Nor is a public discussion of such tactics necessarily count as a criminal conspiracy. In fact, that's why it's public. The police used their plans as an easy excuse for their behavior, but that makes it no less of an excuse and no more legal.

Meanwhile, this flimsy pretext has been stretched to justify a general crackdown on activists. Including surrounding a house where a video activists which specialize in monitoring police behavior, this raid without a subpoena may have had FBI involvement and ended without any arrests.

Earlier this week, Minneapolis police officers detained three filmmakers from the New York based Glass Bead Collective and confiscated their cameras:
According to a statement from the collective, the officers refused to file an official incident report or fill out a receipt inventorying seized property, claiming that they were allowed to conduct the search and seizure under the jurisdiction of Homeland Security due to security risks leading up to the Republican National Convention.

Afterwards, the three journalists/artists were released without receiving any charges or tickets. (Police kept their belongings.) Teichberg said he recently learned that the Minneapolis Police Department is claiming they are being investigated for trespassing on train tracks. “We were targeted. They knew who we were. This was an attempt not to let us document what is happening at the convention… They’re taking away the media’s ability to protest,” he said.
The Glass Bead Collective was one of the groups involved in lawsuits against cops who assaulted Critical Mass riders.

There were incidents and rumors of police intimidation of reporters and protersters leading to the Society of Professional Journalists to issue a statement of concern.And that breathless police report?


Not to worry, the Republicans continue to be WAY out in front in the race to flush our Constitution down the toilet.

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