Category Archives: Politics

“You have no rights”

Arrested

via http://oxthepunx.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/arrested/

Yesterday, I was beaten, arrested, and jailed for participating in an act of civil disobedience against the privatization of education and criminalization of dissent in California.

I’ve spent the last day trying to process what happened, and writing this is an attempt to get it out of my mind and on to paper (having spent last night on a cement floor, I could use some mental solace).  There’s nothing exceptional about my experience, and yet, even knowing that, I write this grappling with a feeling of voicelessness and powerlessness that I have never before experienced.  I know that, once you start talking about “police brutality” and “police states”, you enter into a group of wild-eyed conspiracy theorists that most Americans dismiss out of hand.  I can’t control that portrayal, but for whatever reason, I need to talk about what happened, even if I can’t figure out why it has affected me so much.

We set up “Occupy Cal” in an attempt to open up our university to groups that had been excluded from it, to create a safe space to debate and discuss the future of public education, and to exercise our first amendment right to free assembly. We all knew that what we were doing was in violation of university policy—which views encampments as, somehow, on par with graffiti and building occupations insofar as they disrupt classes and harm university property—and that in doing so we risked arrest.  But, having passed a resolution explicitly declaring our encampment peaceful and non-violent, we expected those arrests to follow the rules of engagement that have defined civil disobedience since the Civil Rights era.  Cal has had occupations before – protesting against apartheid, for example – and while the university didn’t like them, it ultimately tolerated them as a means of democratic dissent.

We were wrong to think the same would happen for us.  Our encampment was torn down at 4:00 p.m., but we set up again.  At 9:30 p.m., the police issued an order to disperse.  We stayed, linking arms and chanting “Peaceful protest!”  The police advanced up to the crowd and started stabbing and beating people with batons.  Most of them were riot cops from other jurisdictions; a professor who has been here thirty years assures me that this level of militarization of police (there were officers with shotguns and rubber-bullet guns) is unprecedented.  Although the labels “violent” and “non-violent” get bandied around to the extent that they have virtually lost any meaning in public discourse, I have never seen protesters remain so defiantly peaceful in the face of such brutality.  Reasonable people can disagree about whether privatizing Cal is a good thing; no one should disagree that what this video shows is unconscionable.  I trust you to make your own decisions about who here was “violent” and who was not.

I was in front, near the side of the encampment.  A female officer walked up to me and started stabbing me in the ribs with her baton as I screamed at her that I was peaceful and not resisting her in any way.  She ordered me to back up.  This was impossible since there were lines of people behind me, and, perceiving me as refusing to comply with her orders, she continued stabbing me.  I buckled over, letting go of the people around me, because at this point I realized that only by being arrested would the beating stop.  I threw my hands up into peace signs and shouted that I wanted to be arrested non-violently.  I was not afforded that option.  I was dragged through the officers despite my attempts to comply with the officers out of my own volition.  I put my hands behind my back, but they threw me to the ground anyway.  I turned to ask what the charges were and an officer punched me back to the ground.  (If you think I’m pulling this out of my ass, watch this video at 1:40)

They cuffed me and dragged me into Sproul Hall, where they were holding around thirty of us.  An officer came and asked me my name, and I told it to her.  She then started firing off questions, and I politely told her that before I did that, I wanted to know my rights at this point in the process and when I would be able to speak to a lawyer.  She responded, “You have no rights”, to which I responded “That’s impossible.”  In one of many disturbing moments of the night, she informed me that I was wrong – and wrote me down as a non-cooperative arrestee.   That simple request will earn me extra harsh treatment in the student disciplinary process, she assured me.  Throughout the night, we were referred to as “bodies” not “people.”  I was never Mirandized.

In a sense, at this point, the worst was over.  The thirty of us supported one another, comforted one another, and inspired one another.  We were driven to a county jail in Oakland, where they booked us—threatening that because our crimes were “violent” we could not be released until an Arraignment on Monday.  In a holding cell that reeked of urine, we swapped stories, sang songs ranging from Buffalo Springfield to the Backstreet Boys, and shared a sense of camaraderie that could never be imagined in another setting.  If we were afraid, we weren’t showing it: indeed, I would love to have had the defiant moral clarity of some of my eighteen-year-old comrades.

In the end, the entire process was a sham.  I called my parents collect at 3 a.m. ($4.85 a minute—just to screw the poor a little bit more) telling them they needed to put together $20,000 in bail.  And then, right afterward, a kind officer told me that they were sure that our charges of “resisting arrest” and “participating in a riot” had no chance in court, and so they were going to cite and release us.  They took their sweet time in getting us out, but when we were again free, some of our union brothers and sisters were waiting for us with food, hugs, and their own first arrest stories.  It’s strange to have experienced such wild oscillation between human decency and human cruelty, to interact both with officers who were thoughtful and considerate and those who were mindlessly violent.

On the grand spectrum of police encounters, I’ve gotten off easy.  My injuries are confined to a cracked rib and bruised psyche.  I am an enormously privileged person in that I can get arrested and know that it will not ruin my life or manifestly affect my academic career.  I have received solidarity and comfort from friends all over the country and professors in the department I barely know.  I have not for one moment doubted that my actions were in the right, and that I have nothing to be ashamed of; this is a source of strength that holds me together.  And yet I have spent all day on the verge of crying.

I feel profoundly disempowered by what happened yesterday, in a way that has only become apparent once I left the solidarity of my fellow arrestees.  I feel violated because I no longer am safe in my own body, knowing that I can be stabbed and manhandled and the individuals responsible will face no consequences.  I feel humiliated because some of the people I have talked to seem to think that what happened last night demands no response, which suggests the worthlessness of my suffering and my cause.  I feel small because I see myself arrayed against the implacable forces of an administration bent on spinning my actions into the framework of violent, radicals seeking to disrupt life for good, law-abiding students.  I feel stupid because many of the illusions I grew up with about the rules of engagement in our political system are crumbling before me, leaving me no avenue through which to channel my anger about what has happened to me.

– – – – –

I’d rather end on a practical note.  I hope anyone reading this will consider writing Chancellor Birgeneau, who ordered the attacks, to tell him that you—as a citizen of Berkeley / California / Earth—do not approve.  We always chant “The whole world is watching” when police start attacking us.  It’d be nice to know that it’s true.

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Marine Veteran Injured by Non-Lethal Rounds at Occupy Oakland

Protestors are being targeted by the police:

 

 

That injured protestor is a Marine:

 

 

From Veterans Today – http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/10/26/marine-veteran-injured-by-non-lethal-rounds-at-occupy-oakland/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=marine-veteran-injured-by-non-lethal-rounds-at-occupy-oakland

By David Edwards

A Marine veteran at Occupy Oakland was injured Monday night after being shot at point-blank range with bean bags or rubber bullets by police.

Scott Olsen was at 14th Street and Broadway when he was shot by either San Francisco Sheriffs deputies or Palo Alto Police, according to RT.

“We need medic!” one protester is heard screaming. “Medic! Medic!”

“What happened?” another asked.

“He got shot!”

As Olsen is carried away, he appears unconscious and bloody, unable to even respond when asked his name.

Olsen is associated with Veterans for Peace.

 

 

~~~


Why Iceland Should Be in the News, But Is Not

By Deena Stryker

via http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/728.1?frommailing=1#here

An Italian radio program’s story about Iceland’s on-going revolution is a stunning example of how little our media tells us about the rest of the world. Americans may remember that at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Iceland literally went bankrupt.  The reasons were mentioned only in passing, and since then, this little-known member of the European Union fell back into oblivion.

As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example. Here’s why:

Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatized, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many English and Dutch small investors.  But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt.  In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 times its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent.  The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalized, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro.  At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy.

Contrary to what could be expected, the crisis resulted in Icelanders recovering their sovereign rights, through a process of direct participatory democracy that eventually led to a new Constitution.  But only after much pain.

Geir Haarde, the Prime Minister of a Social Democratic coalition government, negotiated a two million one hundred thousand dollar loan, to which the Nordic countries added another two and a half million. But the foreign financial community pressured Iceland to impose drastic measures.  The FMI and the European Union wanted to take over its debt, claiming this was the only way for the country to pay back Holland and Great Britain, who had promised to reimburse their citizens.

Protests and riots continued, eventually forcing the government to resign. Elections were brought forward to April 2009, resulting in a left-wing coalition which condemned the neoliberal economic system, but immediately gave in to its demands that Iceland pay off a total of three and a half million Euros.  This required each Icelandic citizen to pay 100 Euros a month (or about $130) for fifteen years, at 5.5% interest, to pay off a debt incurred by private parties vis a vis other private parties. It was the straw that broke the reindeer’s back.

What happened next was extraordinary. The belief that citizens had to pay for the mistakes of a financial monopoly, that an entire nation must be taxed to pay off private debts was shattered, transforming the relationship between citizens and their political institutions and eventually driving Iceland’s leaders to the side of their constituents. The Head of State, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, refused to ratify the law that would have made Iceland’s citizens responsible for its bankers’ debts, and accepted calls for a referendum.

Of course the international community only increased the pressure on Iceland. Great Britain and Holland threatened dire reprisals that would isolate the country.  As Icelanders went to vote, foreign bankers threatened to block any aid from the IMF.  The British government threatened to freeze Icelander savings and checking accounts. As Grimsson said: “We were told that if we refused the international community’s conditions, we would become the Cuba of the North.  But if we had accepted, we would have become the Haiti of the North.” (How many times have I written that when Cubans see the dire state of their neighbor, Haiti, they count themselves lucky.)

In the March 2010 referendum, 93% voted against repayment of the debt.  The IMF immediately froze its loan.  But the revolution (though not televised in the United States), would not be intimidated. With the support of a furious citizenry, the government launched civil and penal investigations into those responsible for the financial crisis.  Interpol put out an international arrest warrant for the ex-president of Kaupthing, Sigurdur Einarsson, as the other bankers implicated in the crash fled the country.

But Icelanders didn’t stop there: they decided to draft a new constitution that would free the country from the exaggerated power of international finance and virtual money.  (The one in use had been written when Iceland gained its independence from Denmark, in 1918, the only difference with the Danish constitution being that the word ‘president’ replaced the word ‘king’.)

To write the new constitution, the people of Iceland elected twenty-five citizens from among 522 adults not belonging to any political party but recommended by at least thirty citizens. This document was not the work of a handful of politicians, but was written on the internet. The constituent’s meetings are streamed on-line, and citizens can send their comments and suggestions, witnessing the document as it takes shape. The constitution that eventually emerges from this participatory democratic process will be submitted to parliament for approval after the next elections.

Some readers will remember that Iceland’s ninth century agrarian collapse was featured in Jared Diamond’s book by the same name. Today, that country is recovering from its financial collapse in ways just the opposite of those generally considered unavoidable, as confirmed yesterday by the new head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde to Fareed Zakaria. The people of Greece have been told that the privatization of their public sector is the only solution.  And those of Italy, Spain and Portugal are facing the same threat.

They should look to Iceland. Refusing to bow to foreign interests, that small country stated loud and clear that the people are sovereign.

That’s why it is not in the news anymore.

Stryker is an American writer that has lived in six different countries, is fluent in four languages and a published writer in three. She looks at the big picture from a systems and spiritual point of view.

 

Politik Kills

Possibility Alliance

This extraordinary community has been on the map since 2007, and we had the pleasure of staying here for just a few days, and a return trip is definitely in order, probably for their free permaculture training. During our first visit we experienced a guided tour of the entire farm, we slept in the barn loft with other volunteers (during huge thunderstorms!), helped out with various permaculture projects and interviewed most of the community members about their experiences living electricity-free in rural America Other similar projects are starting up in Kansas City MO, England and beyond.

WRITE-UP

COMMUNITY COHESIVENESS:  This Gandhian-based community consists of six adults and three children, as well as two three-time apprentices during the growing season and many more regular volunteers, visitors and potential members. The community practices Quaker-style consensus decision making and mindfulness meditation as well as yoga and other “inner” work. This makes for a very tight-knit community with many radical ideas that are successfully being practiced. They have check-in meetings every morning over breakfast which are a lot of fun and provide intimate connection.  There are five main pillars of the community:

  1. BulletRadical Simplicity
  2. BulletService
  3. BulletPolitical/Social Activism
  4. BulletInner Work
  5. BulletGratitude & Celebration

Each of these are carried out in a wide variety of ways as there is not a dogma or “one way”.

SUSTAINABILITY EFFORTS:  Electricity-free, car-free and mostly petroleum-free (other than a few bike light batteries and the occasional ride from a friend). They generally feel as though most, if not all, “green” technologies are not actually green and when looked closely at are really taking a toll on the earth. For example they shared with us that solar panels are made of silicon that is scraped off the bottom of the ocean and causing damage to the ocean ecosystems. They live right in the middle of Amish country, and have chosen to adopt some similar practices, such as the use of simple technologies and an emphasis on community interdependence, as well as homesteading techniques, including horse-powered farm equipment, honey bees, chickens for eggs, a pond, a barn with hayloft and goats and more.  In addition to the ecological sustainability practiced here, they are definitely practicing many economic, spiritual and social sustainability methods as well.

Read more

 

 

a lament for linux (ubuntu in particular)

 I really like linux. I really super like ubuntu because I am more of a user and not a programmer. Ubuntu is an easy, idiot proof version of linux. Great!

I like that on the ubuntu website it says,

Compatible with all your devices  Ubuntu works brilliantly with a range of devices. No installation CDs. No fuss. And it’s compatible with Windows too! So you can open, edit and share Microsoft Office documents easily.http://www.ubuntu.com/

This is so important as I have a range of devices, and I need to open, edit and share Microsoft Office documents easily.

The lament comes in where these things just aren’t true. They are not true and I want them to be true because I strongly support the open software ethic. I want to participate in the community and to share it with others. I think this model applies to much more than just software.

I can show a concrete example of how ubuntu is not compatible with all my devices: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1771972&highlight=epson+printer+workforce
and
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1774191&highlight=epson+printer+workforce

All the info is there. I have also opened, edited and shared Microsoft Office documents easily using LibreOffice, and to my dismay the formatting was totally destroyed. Luckily I did a few experimental openings, editings and shareings of Microsoft Office documents easily. It just doesn’t work. How embarrasing it would be had I believed the above statement by ubuntu and this one by libreoffice:

  • You get a simple-to-use yet powerful interface that is easy to personalize – Microsoft Office users will find the switch easy and painless, with a familiar look and feel.
  • Compatible with all major competitors’ file formats. You can easily import files from Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint and many other formats, and can easily save to Microsoft Office and other formats when needed. http://www.libreoffice.org/features/
This simply is not true. Cross-platform use reveals incompatible formatting, even while working in  Microsoft Office formats, and while the interface might be similar to Microsoft Office 2003, it is not at all like the two newer versions. Who has Microsoft Office 2003 at work or at school anymore?

I am told that it isn’t ubuntu’s or libreoffice’s fault. It is the other companies’ fault for not opening their code. I can understand that. The thing is that it doesn’t change the problems I am having. Which leads to my biggest lament: I still have to use windows for the most basic functions for which I use a computer. Ubuntu is barely useful to me at this point. I just wish they would stop saying that it is.

If You Love Peace, Become a “Blue Republican” (Just for a Year)

Interesting idea: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robin-koerner/blue-republican_b_886650.html?page=2

I am aware that the main objection to Ron Paul from the left concerns his belief that private charities and individuals are more effective in maintaining social welfare than the government. To this I ask one question. Do you believe so much in the effectiveness of our current centralized delivery of social welfare that it is worth the war making and the abrogation of civil rights supported by both Bush and Obama’s administrations? Moreover, while Ron Paul would look to transition out of the huge federally run welfare programs in the long-run, that’s not where he wants to start: his immediate fight would be to bring our forces back to the USA and to re-implement the Bill of Rights.

Koerner hit it right on here. This is one of my main concerns with Ron Paul. Another huge and far reaching concern is that he would deregulate like there is no tomorrow, which will end in an ugly corporate rule. I don’t see how he is all that different in the end. I see the same results as any other candidate, just a different road to get there.

Or am I mistaken?

~~~

 Related Links

 http://peoplesworld.org/why-progressives-should-not-support-ron-paul/?commentStart=40

http://fitnessfortheoccasion.wordpress.com/2007/06/26/why-ron-paul-is-a-corporate-candidate/