Archive for September, 2008

Martial Law Now In Place: First Active Army Unit Within the US Beginning October 1

September 24, 2008

Scroll down on Headlines at this link to see where Amy Goodman reports the following:

Beginning in October, the Army plans to station an active unit inside the United States for the first time to serve as an on-call federal response in times of emergency. The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent thirty-five of the last sixty months in Iraq, but now the unit is training for domestic operations. The unit will soon be under the day-to-day control of US Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command. The Army Times reports this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to Northern Command. The paper says the Army unit may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control. The soldiers are learning to use so-called nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals and crowds.

You can see the broadcast on youtube here as well.

Jack sent this link to a detailed story about this frightening development that you can read here. The author, Paul Joseph Watson, notes that the use of the military for domestic law enforcement violates the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act, which substantially limit the powers of the federal government to use armed force against US citizens.

Glenn Greenwald on Salon.com also gives details about this event and its congressional history.  Greenwald quotes and links online articles by James Bovard and Jeff Stein and says:

Bovard and Stein both noted that every Governor — including Republicans — joined in Leahy’s [Patrick Leahy, one congress member who strongly questioned this move] objections, as they perceived it as a threat from the Federal Government to what has long been the role of the National Guard. But those concerns were easily brushed aside by the bipartisan majorities in Congress, eager — as always — to grant the President this radical new power.  Read more here.

Historically, in compliance with US laws, domestic matters like natural disasters were handled by state National Guard units, which are under the authority of the states not the federal government; but the Bush regime used active duty military (as well as mercenaries) in New Orleans after Katrina. Also, Bush deployed National Guard units, designated for domestic service, to fight his illegal wars abroad. This is, however, the first time that an army unit is specifically designated for duty against US citizens at home.

Martial law, though not declared, is now in place.

There have been rumours for some time among veterans with ties to the armed services about a mustering of troops around Washington, DC.

Are we too distracted, cowed, or bludgeoned, too accustomed to seeing military personnel in our streets to object to this?

If you object, act now.

STARTLING PRESENCE OF POLICE WITH AUTOMATIC WEAPONS ON 42ND STREET ON SUNDAY

September 21, 2008

I emerged today at about 1:30 pm from Grand Central Terminal onto 42nd Street in the middle of that block between Lexington and Vanderbilt Avenues to discover a number of police in Nazi looking helmets holding huge automatic weapons.  I have only seen such arms in movies.  The images of the police in Denver and the twin cities during the DNC and RNC showed them similarly dressed but mostly armed with sticks, tasers, launchers of poison gas, etc. not huge automatic weapons.  These on 42nd Street did not stand in a long line, but alone and in twos along the sidewalk.

I write this because had I not been walking from the subway at Grand Central to 6th Avenue, I would never have known this police state manifestation was taking place.  The corporate media do not report on police abuse much less intimidation.  Only those of us who were there saw it.

I did not have a camera so I can only give a word picture of this event.  Patrice says I should have a camera with me at all times to record things like this.  I carried a lot of things in my hands and might not have used a camera even if I had one.  The fact that police arrest people who photograph them did not occur to me at the time, but it is a factor that we must all deal with today.  I frankly did not think about making photographs at all, but I wish I had, though I am not sure I want to be in jail today accused of being an enemy and deprived of all rights because of it.  The Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act give “legal” status to these police and to depriving citizens of rights.  We live in a police state.  It is not coming, it is here now.

The presence of armed national guard troops in Grand Central, especially after the events of September 11, 2001, was bad enough and has largely disappeared.  They were armed, but not with these kinds of weapons, nor were they helmeted.

This display of force is inappropriate in a city in any situation short of armed invasion by a foreign power, but even then not by police.

I saw evidence of the Mexican Day Parade which was scheduled in the morning from 41st Street south to 27th Street on Madison.  Families with lots of children waited for buses in front of the NY Public Library on 5th Avenue and walked west on 41st toward the subway stop on 6th Ave.

There was not so much as a fender bender traffic accident by way of civil disorder.

Clearly the display of force was intended for us, to intimidate and control us.

I wrote to Michael Bloomberg of this inappropriate use of police, demanding an apology to all of us in the city and a change from such tactics.  If these were members of some federal agency, like the police in Denver and the twin cities, I urged him to refuse to allow such intimidation in our city.

I may contact the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild for information about what we can do legally in these cases, if anything.  Ultimately, I suspect it is up to us, the people of this city and country, to demand redress of these grievances.  I am not sure how to do that now in this no longer democratic country.

Interview With Goodman About Arrests of Journalists

September 20, 2008

Jack sent this link to a strong interview of Amy Goodman by PBS.  The charges against her have been dropped, but the issue is still vital and the additional one of investigating police abuses and holding the police agencies accountable are crucial to change this police state in which we now live.

Click here to go to the interview.

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Amy Goodman, award winning journalist and advocate for first amendment rights of journalists.

BUSH REGIME WIDENS WAR IN DEFIANCE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW AND SENATE VOTES MORE MONEY FOR “DEFENSE”

September 19, 2008

The US Senate once again voted to fund the Bush regime’s illegal military operations, voting 88 to 8 in favor of $612 billion dollars for “defense” spending.  This move comes at the same time that the regime is broadening the war to include attacks on Pakistan, which have been reported by the Guardian, Bloomberg News, the Associated Press, and the New York Times here and here, McClatchy Newspapers, TomDispatch. and Reuters.

pakistan3.jpg  Pakistani lawyers burn Bush in effigy in protest of missile strikes on Pakistanis.

The Guardian also reports this:

The US is massing the largest armada of warships in the Gulf since 2003. Two aircraft carrier task forces are already there and a third was dispatched on August 22. French and British warships and carrier groups are also reportedly on their way. This has increased speculation that George Bush might authorise military attacks against Iran before the end of his term in office in January, or before the November elections to boost to the likelihood of a McCain presidency.   Read the full article here.

Implications of Events at the Conventions

September 12, 2008

I had been trying to sum up for myself the significance of the massive assaults on civil liberties at both of the party conventions. We saw denial to US citizens of rights guaranteed by the Constitution; people arrested for practicing journalism, assembling, and demanding redress of grievances. We saw violence against US citizens by police equipped to stave off a full scale invasion.

Chris Hedges ends an article in TruthDig titled Tyranny on Display at the Republican Convention with this paragraph:

“St. Paul was not ultimately about selecting a presidential candidate. It was about the power of the corporate state to carry out pre-emptive searches, seizures and arrests. It was about squads of police in high-tech riot gear, many with drawn semiautomatic weapons, bursting into houses. It was about seized computers, journals and political literature. It was about shutting down independent journalism, even at gunpoint. It was about charging protesters with “conspiracy to commit riot,” a rarely used statute that criminalizes legal dissent. It was about 500 people held in open-air detention centers. It was about the rising Orwellian state that has hollowed out the insides of America, cast away all that was good and vital, and donned its skin to shackle us all.”

This is an image that accompanies Hedges’ article of a woman offering a just visible yellow flower to the police, who responded to her with pepper spray.

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Click here to read the full article.

I don’t believe the police are incapable of telling the difference between a flower and a dangerous weapon. As Hedges does, I believe that the corporations that funded these conventions fund and own our government. They chose the candidates through their wholly owned media and they want to eradicate free independent media. They fund the police who attack citizens. The candidates are also wholly owned and will do what their owners want, as our elected officials have increasingly been doing.

What can we do about this? How can we take our country back? We can certainly support independent media like Democracy Now and act to have the charges against journalists dropped. We can refuse to be suppressed. We can refuse to give up our right to assemble. Like the valient students of the White Rose movement in Nazi Germany, we can refuse to be quiet. We can also refuse to be discouraged, regardless of how grim things look today. As historian and veteran of the Civil Rights Movement Howard Zinn said to graduates of Spelman College in May of 2005:

“But let me tell you why, in spite of [the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, poverty, homelessness, lack of access to health care and education, etc.], you must not be discouraged.

“I want to remind you that, fifty years ago, racial segregation here in the South was entrenched as tightly as was apartheid in South Africa. The national government, even with liberal presidents like Kennedy and Johnson in office, was looking the other way while Black people were beaten and killed and denied the opportunity to vote. So Black people in the South decided they had to do something by themselves. They boycotted and sat in and picketed and demonstrated, and were beaten and jailed, and some were killed, but their cries for freedom were soon heard all over the nation and around the world, and the President and Congress finally did what they had previously failed to do — enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Many people had said: The South will never change. But it did change. It changed because ordinary people organized and took risks and challenged the system and would not give up. That’s when democracy came alive.”

Click here to read the rest of his speech.

CELEBRATING 30,000 ACTS OF PATRIOTISM: NYC 9/11 Ballot Initiative Reaches Milestone

September 10, 2008

We owe this to Lucille.  All who want to see an independent investigation of what really happened on 9/11 will be interested.

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Hello everyone passionate about the 9-11 Ballot Initiative,

We all know the weight of this issue, but we now must celebrate the Great and Remarkable Goal of having gathered 30,000 signatures, and to honor our cause, & to meet others working towards this great goal, AND to look forward to working towards the next massive petition/public education goal for 2008-9 (Signatures gathered are valid, you know­and by next NYC election in Nov. 09, everyone in NYC will know to vote YES­ YES will be everywhere!) so…………

We will gather Saturday, Sept. 13th (11-9+2) in Union Square in the center grassy area, southern end for The Grand Photo Op!!!!!!

In case of rain, we’ll reschedule to Sunday, same time 1pm. If Sunday’s weather doesn’t cooperate, we’ll definitely do the following weekend.

All of us ­15-20-30-50—as many of you as can make this—will hold the big, big banner, grin broadly, take lots of beautiful pictures, and then……….

  • We will break brunch bagels together!  Bagels not bombs!!
  • We gather at 1:00, we do The Grand Photo Op.
  • We eat. We talk. We share….. Then
  • We scatter to the 4 corners of Union Sq and petition­well, those who can stay anyway…
  • It’s a hopping scene on greenmarket day.
  • We hope you can come from all over the city, and from NJ and from Mass, and from everywhere­if only for a few hours!!!!!

We will then send out a press release with this photo, post on a zillion sites, do a YouTube thing to send to friends and relatives, all of whom will want to get involved when they see our smiling faces (let alone learn about our work).

The Plan: to bring easy-to-carry food for yourself and to share, no big baskets and tubs, we can also get all kinds of drinks and extra food in the park and its surrounds.  Some of us can bring towels, sheets, blankets. But make it easy. Bags can then be safely stored under our petitioning table to free hands for petitioning.

Not a bad idea to RSVP so e-mail campaign@nyc911initiative.org with RSVP Picnic in the subject line

AXIS OF FRIENDSHIP WITH IRAN

September 10, 2008

This Friday, September 12, an Axis of Friendship will arch around the world, from San Francisco to Memphis to Northampton MA, to Las Vegas, to Australia, Canada, Japan- and Iran. People from many faiths, political persuasions, and walks of life will join together in lighting candles in our windows, sending message of peace to and for Iran, echoing their September 12, 2001 candle lighting, in sympathy and support for our 9/11 grief.

The Bush administration, and the McCain campaign, continue to whip up public fear about Iran, while pushing through HR 362 (sanctions and possible Naval Blockade) and covert CIA funding to destabilize and provoke Iran from within.  We, the people, can send a different message to each other, our congressional leaders, and the Iranian people- we don’t want another invasion, attack, and the horrors of war. We don’t want our soldiers stretched to the breaking point, and dying for no good cause, and we don’t want innocent people caught in the cross fire.

You can be part of this Axis of Friendship in a few simple ways. Take a moment dear friends. Let’s stop this war before it starts!

.Sign the petition called “Axis of Friendship: Peace Between Iran and the U.S.” ,    It will be delivered to House Speaker Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid on Friday September
12, along with pictures and letters from children around the country.

.Light a candle for the Axis of Friendship in your window on Sept. 12 all night.  Attached is a beautiful flyer you can display in your window with your candle;  you can also download  it from http://www.axisoffriendship.org
.Tell everyone you know around the world to light a candle too.

.Call your congressperson and urge them to withdraw their support for H-Con 362, and work for removal of the Naval Blockade language. (Free congressional main number: 866-340-9281). Register your strong opposition to any attack on Iran, and urge diplomacy.

Paula

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COMPELLING AND INFORMATIVE PLAY

September 10, 2008

This from Gwen:

TDF is offering tickets to see “In Conflict” (which is in previews) for $13. If you’re a member. If not, you can see it directly.

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This is the synopsis:

In Conflict is a compelling portrait of Iraq War veterans in one of the most controversial conflicts in modern American history. Based on Yvonne Lattys acclaimed 2006 book of the same name, In Conflict captures the unheard voices and unpredictable experiences of 17 Iraq War veterans whose lives have been changed forever. Featuring men and women from all branches and ranks, Republican and Democrat, straight and gay, immigrants and natives, hailing from all parts of the country, these remarkable veterans represent America and its complexity.

Following Culture Projects critically acclaimed World Premiere of George Packers Betrayed, In Conflict explores the Iraq War from the American perspective and asks a different set of questions. What is the nature of patriotism and service in todays America?

The cast of 11, all young actors who have been with the show for its entire journey from Temple University to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland to its Off-Broadway Premiere, are the same age as the majority of todays troops and causalities a generation that is paying the highest price for this war.

Protest Inside the RNC

September 5, 2008

This is a link to a video of protesters inside the RNC.  Thanks to Gwen for this link and this dramatic story.

Goodman Says Attacks on Journalists Are A Threat To Democracy

September 5, 2008

This link is to an article in TruthDig in which Amy Goodman discusses her experiences of being arrested with her colleagues at the RNC.  She thinks that the police targeted journalists.

“The attack on and arrest of me and the “Democracy Now!” producers was not an isolated event. A video group called I-Witness Video was raided two days earlier. Another video documentary group, the Glass Bead Collective, was detained, with its computers and video cameras confiscated. On Wednesday, I-Witness Video was again raided, forced out of its office location. When I asked St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington how reporters are to operate in this atmosphere, he suggested, ‘By embedding reporters in our mobile field force.’”  Read the rest here.

The corporate media established a dreadful precedent by allowing reporters to be embedded with the military during the invasion of Iraq and since.  The image of Ted Koppell in fatigues and helmet lives in my mind.  How can a reporter do his job when he looks like a soldier?  The only viewpoint he or she can have is the one the Bush regime wanted US citizens to have.  Those who rely on traditional media here still don’t know what the situation is there.

police_gasmask.jpg  Do journalists and protestors require suppressing with poison gasses?

RNC_police.jpg Is it really credible that all those plastic handcuffs are intended for anyone other than US citizens engaged in either protest or reporting on protest?  Do we Americans really believe that a serious enemy of the United States would present itself in a way that would require these forces? Would they parachute in?  Drive up in armed trucks?  Is it not obvious that these armed police were there to initmidate and if possible stop protest and reporting?

I cannot escape the thought that the police repression at the RNC is about more attack on American liberties.

What can we do about this?