Fascism is the union of government with private business against the People.
"To The States, or any one of them, or to any city of The States: Resist much, Obey little; Once unquestioning obedience, at once fully enslaved; Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, ever afterward resumes its liberty." from "Caution" by Walt Whitman

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

2012-07-31 "Mitt Romney: Richer Means Superior"

by Cenk Uygur from "Young Turks"
Cenk Uygur is host of The Young Turks on Current TV as well as the host and co-founder of The Young Turks online which is the largest news show on the Internet. Uygur is the former host of MSNBC Live and has appeared numerous times on CNN, CNN Headline News, E! Entertainment Channel, Al Jazeera, ABC News, Voice of America and NPR.
Mitt Romney recently said in Israel that Palestinians don't have as high a GDP per capita as Israelis do because their culture is not as good as Jewish culture [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/30/mitt-romney-palestinians_n_1718496.html]. That is both deeply racist and deeply stupid.
According to that logic, Jewish culture must not be as good as Arab culture because the GDP per capita of Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait crush Israel's.
Mitt Romney also talked about divine hand of providence as a possible explanation of why Israelis are richer than Palestinians. Did God, or should I say Allah, change his mind and decide that he likes Arabs in the Gulf States more than even the Jews?
Here's another explanation for the Palestinians plight: They have been under occupation for over 60 years now. They don't even control their own borders or trade. There have been crushing embargoes on their territories. It's a little hard to get trade going when you're literally not allowed to trade.
Our military has aided and abetted this occupation and, in many ways, we have paid for it. Now we have a candidate for president of one of our major political parties go there and rub their face in it. It wasn't our military that did this to you; it was your own inferior culture. That's literally adding insult to injury.
Despite all of this, the most relevant part of this exchange might be the perspective it gives us into Mitt Romney's world view. Rich makes right. If Israel is richer, by definition, it must be superior. If Mitt Romney is richer than everyone else, he must be superior to everyone else. Elect me for president, I'm richer than the other guy.
What he leaves unsaid is what is obvious in his mind, "The richer guy is obviously the better guy."
The fact that Mitt might have had some advantages being the son of multi-millionaire governor and Israel might have had some advantages in getting $3 billion a year from the US and having a sovereign country is irrelevant to Romney. Richer equals better. Period. Who cares what the circumstances are? Mitt's always about the bottom line.
Romney's deeply offensive comments about the Palestinians probably won't hurt him in the election at all. There is no group in America you can insult with more impunity than Palestinians and Arabs. That doesn't hurt your electoral chances, it might even help. But what does hurt is the overwhelming sense you get from Romney that he is looking down his nose at you. This son of a bitch actually thinks he's better than the rest of us because he was born to a mega-rich dad, figured out how to cheat the system at Bain and hid away so much of his money abroad (tax avoidance was an enormous contributor to his fortune - do you have any idea how much more you save up if you pay 10% in taxes a year rather than 35%). Now, that doesn't sit so well.
Who wants to have a beer with a guy who thinks he'd rather be having a Chardonnay with one of his equals? To Mitt, we're all Palestinians.

2012-07-31 "Study: Design Flaws Contribute to Hundreds of Thousands of Lost Votes in Recent Elections; Report Details Major Ballot Design Problems, Proposes Non-Partisan Solutions"

from "Brennan Center for Justice"
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law is a non-partisan public policy and law institute that focuses on fundamental issues of democracy and justice. Our work ranges from voting rights to redistricting reform, from access to the courts to presidential power in the fight against terrorism.
WASHINGTON - July 31 - Design defects in ballots, voter instructions, and voting machines contributed to the loss of several hundred thousand votes in the most recent national elections, a new Brennan Center for Justice study found.
In addition, the report notes that in the 2008 and 2010 general elections combined, as many as 400,000 people had their absentee or provisional ballot rejected because they made technical mistakes completing forms or preparing and returning the envelope. Poor design increases the risk of lost or misrecorded votes among all voters, but the risk is even greater for particular groups, including low-income voters, and the elderly.
The comprehensive study outlines simple measures election officials can take before November to cure design defects and ensure every voter can cast a ballot that counts. View a slideshow of design flaws and solutions in recent national elections.
“In the age of smartphones and tablets, many have realized the importance of good design and usability, but American elections are still marred by major design problems,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Center’s Democracy Program and co-author of Better Design, Better Elections. “The rise of absentee and provisional voting since 2000 has made ballot design in our elections even more important. If a voter takes the responsibility to vote, election officials must do everything in their power to make sure that vote counts.”
The Brennan Center’s report details four design and usability problems in 2008 and 2010. Here are a few select examples:

Problem 1: Ballot Layouts that Invite Overvotes or Undervotes
In East St. Louis, IL in 2008, the ballot design led 1 in 10 voters to skip the U.S. Senate contest by mistake because of an inadequate header identifying the race. More than twice as many votes were lost in East St. Louis than the rest of the state. The Brennan Center’s revised ballot (page 17) could have saved many hundred votes.

Problem 2: Poor Voter Instructions
In the governor’s contest in Ohio in 2010, several counties reported unusually high numbers of voters selecting more than one candidate. The culprit appears to be the instructions, which state “select the set of joint candidates of your choice.” In Cuyahoga County alone, more than 2,000 voters did not have their vote for governor counted because they selected more than one gubernatorial candidate. The Brennan Center’s suggestion for revising the instruction appears on page 25.

Problem 3: Unclear Voting Machine Messages
Tens of thousands of votes were not counted in 13 Florida counties in 2008 and in New York State in 2010 because of ineffective overvote warnings. If a voter selected too many candidates in a race, a confusing error message appeared. If the voter pressed the green “Accept” button, marked with a check, the ballot would be cast with the overvote, and the vote would be lost. The Brennan Center’s suggested fixes appear on pages 27 and 28.

Problem 4: Difficult Absentee and Provisional Ballot Envelopes
In Minnesota in 2008, nearly 4,000 absentee ballots were not counted because the envelope was not signed. Recognizing the problem, the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office worked with design, usability, and plain language experts in 2009 and 2011 to improve the ballot envelope. The changes made to the envelope can be found on pages 31 and 33.
“The design flaws that this report documents are not difficult or unknown problems,” said Whitney Quesenbery, co-author of the report and a user experience researcher. “I hope that this stark evidence of lost votes inspires every election official to follow good design principles, and test their work to be sure that voters understand how to fill out forms and mark their ballots so their votes will be counted."

As election officials finalize ballots and other election forms in the next several weeks, the Brennan Center’s report recommends several simple measures that can be taken to ensure votes are counted accurately.
Election officials should:
* Review data on lost votes to determine what problems they may encounter in November.
* Create a checklist of design best practices to make ballots and other election materials better organized and easily comprehensible.
* Conduct usability testing to uncover potential problems that may arise.
* Make voters aware of potential problems if those issues cannot be addressed before the election.
The Center’s study provides four case studies that demonstrate the powerful impact usability testing, voter education, and other corrective action before an election can have in reducing voter error in elections (beginning on page 36).
For all the latest voting rights news, view the Brennan Center’s Election 2012 page [http://www.brennancenter.org/page/m/64f588a4/28890965/33a3da66/6d459b14/2147609057/VEsC/].
To set up an interview, please contact Erik Opsal at erik.opsal@nyu.edu or 646-292-8356.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

2012-08 "A Matter of Degrees"

 by Thomas Frank from "Harper's Magazine"
Two hundred thousand protesters took to the streets of Montreal a few months ago, clashing with police and triggering the provincial legislature’s passage of Bill 78, which placed strict limitations on Canada’s traditional freedom of assembly.  What motivated this demonstration, among the biggest acts of civil disobedience in Canadian history? Financial malfeasance? Another war in Iraq? No and no. What brought the vast throng to the barricades was a proposed increase in Quebec’s college-tuition rate, from its current annual average of about $2,100 to $3,700. 
Americans can only observe this spectacle with bewilderment. For decades, we have sat by while the average price of college has grown to almost ten times what it is in Quebec. At some U.S. universities, students pay twenty times as much as does the average Quebecer. Then again, Americans know something about higher education that Canadians don’t: the purpose of college isn’t education per se. 
According to a report issued last year by the National Survey of Student Engagement, American undergrads spend less time at their studies nowadays than ever. They are taught by grad students or grotesquely underpaid adjuncts. Many major in ersatz vocational subjects, and at the most reputable schools they get great grades no matter how they perform. 
But we aren’t concerned about any of that. Americans have figured out that universities exist in order to man the gates of social class, and we pay our princely tuition rates in order to obtain just one thing: the degree,  the golden ticket, the capital-C Credential. Doubters might scoff that a college diploma is by the year turning into an emptier signifier. Nonetheless, that hollow Credential is what draws many of the young to campus, where they will contend for one of the coveted spots in that gilded, gated suburb in the sky.
Choosing the winners and losers is a task we have delegated to largely unregulated institutions housed in fake Gothic buildings, which have long since suppressed any qualms they once felt about tying a one-hundred thousand-dollar anvil around the neck of a trusting teenager.  The question that naturally follows is: Given the rigged, rotten nature of the higher-ed game, why would self-interested actors continue to play by the rules? The answer, to a surprising extent, is that they don’t.
It is a simple thing to pop a “von”  into your name and pass as faded  Austrian aristocracy. It doesn’t cost  much to get one of those Bluetooth  devices and walk around with it  clipped to your ear all day like important  people do. It is also easy to  fake a college degree—indeed, there  is an entire industry out there ready  to help you do it.  We know how easy it is because  people are caught doing it all the  time, usually after a long career in  which the forged Credential attracted  no notice. Earlier this year, the  CEO of Yahoo! quit when it was discovered  that his degree in computer  science was bogus. In 2006, the CEO  of RadioShack stepped down amid a  similar scandal—he had exaggerated  his accomplishments at a California  Bible college. And in 2002, the CEO  of Bausch + Lomb admitted that the  MBA attributed to him in a corporate  press release was nonexistent.  (The company’s share price plummeted  on the dreadful news.)  Then there are examples from  government, like the high-ranking  former official in the Department of  Homeland Security who loved to  make her underlings address her as  “Doctor,” in recognition of the advanced  degree she had acquired  from a prominent diploma mill. Her  exposure led to a 2004 study by the  General Accounting Office that  scoured federal agencies for the  alumni of just three diploma  mills—three out of the hundreds of  unaccredited Web-based enterprises  that will issue you a degree in recognition  of what they call “life experience.”  The GAO caught 463 offenders,  more than half of them in  the Defense Department.  One might assume that academia  is practiced at sniffing out counterfeit  degrees. But if anything, prestigious  universities seem even more  prone to dupery than other institutions.  In April, the vice dean of the  University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate  School of Education was forced  out after it was revealed that he had  never earned the Ph.D. listed on his  résumé. Last year, two top officials at  Bishop State Community College in  Alabama also turned out to have  dubious doctorates. In 2010, a senior  vice president at Texas A&M lost  his job for faking both a master’s  and a doctorate. (He also garnished  his CV with a fiction about having  been a Navy SEAL.) And in what  may be the most satisfying irony to  come our way in many years, the  Dean of Admissions at the Massachusetts  Institute of Technology—  the very person responsible for assessing  academic credentials and,  in fact, the author of a book of advice  for college-bound students—confessed  in 2007 that each of her  advanced degrees was strictly imaginary.
The world is awash with fake degrees,”  says Les Rosen of Employment  Screening Resources, a leading  background-check outfit. In several  of the examples cited above, the fakers  actually studied at the institutions  named on their résumés—they  just failed to graduate. Others conjured  their accomplishments out of  thin air. Still others simply purchased  their Credentials from unaccredited  institutions. All three approaches  are undoubtedly on the  rise. A consultancy in Wisconsin  has for many years maintained a tally  of educational whoppers told by  the various job applicants it is asked  to investigate; the resulting “Liars  Index” (a term the consultancy has  trademarked) reached its highest  level ever in the second half of 2011.  Just how widespread is the problem?  Rosen estimates that some 40  percent of job applicants misrepresent  in some way their educational  attainments. And he reminds me  that this figure includes only those  people “who are so brazen about it  that they’ve signed a release and authorization  for a background check.”  Among those who aren’t checked—  who work for companies that don’t  hire a professional background  screener, or who refuse to sign a release—  the fudging is sure to be even  more common.  In view of the potential rewards  to be gained, the prospective faker  is well advised to avoid outright  lies. The more rational choice may  be a diploma mill. A British firm  that tracks such rackets reports that  the number of mills rose 48 percent  in 2011 alone, and other sources  suggest that they may generate revenues  of as much as a billion dollars  per year.  The entrepreneurial view of higher  ed is a commonplace among these  spectral institutions. “Every additional  degree earned assures the  recipient a lifetime return on their  investment,” the website of something  called Amhurst University reminds  the aspiring applicant, who  will be offered an extraordinary  range of vocational degrees, from  “Acquisition Management” to  “Quality Assurance.” The graduates  of such schools, who congregate on  networking sites like LinkedIn,  sometimes comment on the soft stupidity  of traditional-college grads  and on the utility of their own degrees  as they climb the ladder of success.  Some graduates, of course, wax  bitter about the humiliation they felt  when they were told their degrees  were worthless. But these remorseful  buyers should take heart: the fakedegree  biz has set up numerous fake  accreditation agencies to attest to  its genuineness.  Meanwhile, a parallel industry  has sprung up to police the boundaries  of educational legitimacy, and  it, too, was growing explosively before  the recession began. Over the  past decade or so, it has developed  ever more efficient ways of checking  an applicant’s collegiate record electronically,  through what is called  the National Student Clearinghouse.  And as we might expect, the  industry has demonstrated its intellectual  seriousness by starting a  trade group, the National Association  of Professional Background  Screeners, to prevent just anyone  from claiming to be a background  checker. The NAPBS has lobbyists,  conferences, best practices, and  even seminars on, say, the Fair  Credit Reporting Act.  It takes only a few hours researching  diploma mills to make you wonder  about the swirling tides of fraud  that advance and retreat beneath  society’s placid, meritocratic surface.  And eventually you start wondering  about that surface, too, where everything  seems to be in its place  and everyone has the salary he or  she deserves.  The diploma mills hold up a mirror  to the self-satisfied world of  white-collar achievement, and what  you see there isn’t pretty. Think  about it this way: Who purchases  bogus degrees? Judging by how the  industry advertises itself, the customers  are desperate people whose  careers are going nowhere. They  know they need a diploma to succeed,  but they can hardly afford to  borrow fifty grand and waste four  years of their lives at Frisbee State;  they’ve got jobs, damn it, and families,  and car payments to make.  Someone offers them a college degree  in recognition of their actual  experience—and not only does it  sound attractive, it sounds fair.  Who is to say that they are less deserving  of life’s good things than  someone whose parents paid for  him to goof off at a glorified country  club two decades ago? And who,  really, is to say that they know less  than the graduate turned out last  month by some adjunct-run, beersoaked,  grade-inflated, but fully accredited  debt factory in  New England?
The United States is not the  only nation to police the Credential  with such zeal. Two years ago, Pakistan’s  government attempted to  revive a defunct 2002 law that required  members of Parliament to  certify that they were college graduates—  not a requirement for members  of the United States Congress,  by the way, even though we turn out  three times as many college graduates  per year. According to news reports,  even the bachelor’s degree of  Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari  was called into question.  Still, Americans do these sorts of  things with a special élan. Perhaps  the single most spectacular case of  résumé fraud to make headlines recently  was that of Adam Wheeler, a  young man who first cheated his  way into Harvard as a transfer student,  then cheated his way straight  to the top of its internal meritocracy,  winning honor after honor with  fake transcripts, fake grades, and  plagiarized essays.  Like the story of the diploma  mills, Wheeler’s tale has a peculiar,  funhouse-mirror relationship to the  conventional annals of American  achievement. What he produced  was a kind of parody of East Coast  striving. In his application to Harvard,  he claimed to have taken sixteen  Advanced Placement tests; to  have gone to Andover rather than  the middling public high school he  actually attended; to have briefly  attended MIT; to be public-minded  and community-conscious in every  imaginable way.  And that was only the start. Having  crashed the gates of the temple  in Cambridge, Wheeler later sent out  résumés asserting that he had coauthored  books with his professors,  that he spoke “Classical Armenian,”  and that he had written a scholarly  study on “maps of ideology”—  apparently as hot a subject today as it  was when I was in graduate school  two decades ago. Such preposterous  claims were closer to satire than to  fraud. Yet Wheeler was able to fool  one of the world’s most exalted citadels  of higher learning by feeding it  back mangled bits of its own jargon.  Of course Harvard didn’t catch on—  it just kept showering the con boy  with awards and scholarships.  We know as much as we do about  Wheeler thanks to Julie Zauzmer  and Xi Yu, who covered the story  for the Crimson, Harvard’s student  newspaper. Zauzmer’s fascinating  book-length treatment of the same  subject, Conning Harvard, will be  published this fall. Perhaps not surprisingly  for something penned by a  Harvard undergrad, her account is  suffused with reverence for the legitimate  meritocracy. Bowdoin College,  which the villain Wheeler attended  before Harvard, “routinely  picks up awards for the best college  food in the country.” MIT, which  Wheeler claimed to attend, “routinely  appears among Ivy League schools  at the top of the U.S. News & World  Report rankings of colleges.” And  the Harvard admissions office, the  ultimate custodian of merit, gets  the highest praise of all. This “finely  tuned, carefully guarded machine”  is “intensive, rigorous, and  deeply admirable in its thoroughness  and its thirst for excellence of  all stripes.” It is, in other words, a  thing to be celebrated and defended,  not tricked and trashed in the  Wheeler manner.  After Wheeler was exposed,  Harvard threw the book at him.  The brand had to be protected—  just think of the people who had  paid all that money for a Harvard  degree. And so Wheeler was prosecuted  for identity fraud and larceny,  ordered to repay the $45,806 in  scholarships and financial aid he  had won, and sentenced to two and  a half years in jail. His sentence  was initially suspended—but late  last year, Wheeler was behind bars  again, having violated his probation  by listing Harvard on his résumé.  That’s what you get, I suppose,  when you fool Harvard.  When Harvard fools you, a different  set of incentives applies. As Jim  Newell points out in an essay about  Wheeler in the latest issue of The  Baffler, the school’s legitimate graduates  and grandees—the very cream  of the meritocracy crop—count  among their number many of the  folks who engineered the subprime  disaster and the bank bailouts that  haunt our economy still. They  haven’t paid for those crimes of misrepresentation  and fraud, nor will  they ever.  Never has the nation’s system for  choosing its leaders seemed more  worthless. Our ruling class steers us  into disaster after disaster, cheering  for ruinous wars, getting bamboozled  by Enron and Madoff, missing equity  bubbles and real estate bubbles and  commodity bubbles. But accountability,  it seems, is something that  applies only to the people at the  bottom, the ones who took out the  bad mortgages or lied on their résumés.  The pillars that prop up the  system, meanwhile, are visibly corrupt:  the sacred Credential signifies  less and less each year but costs  more and more to obtain. Yet we act  as though it represents everything.  It’s a million-dollar coin made of pot  metal—of course it attracts counterfeiters.  And of course its value must  be defended by an ever-expanding  industry of résumé checkers and  diploma-mill hunters. The boundaries  are artificial, and that is precisely  why they must be regulated so intensely:  they are the only thing  keeping the bunglers and knaves  who rule us in their jobs.

Friday, July 27, 2012

2012-07-27 "Arizona's Immigrants and Unions Organize Against 'Show Me Your Papers' Law"

by Eduardo Soriano-Castillo from "Labor Notes"
While opponents of Arizona's harsh anti-immigrant law went back to court last week to try to stop the law from coming into force, some unions and community groups are organizing to mitigate its worst effects.
A coalition of civil rights leaders and religious leaders sought a court order July 17 to prevent police from enforcing the now-infamous Senate Bill 1070, which was partially upheld in June in a 5-3 Supreme Court ruling.
The high court ruled that three of the four core provisions of the law were unconstitutional, reaffirming that immigration enforcement falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government. But the justices didn't totally stop Arizona’s “get it done yourself” approach, and upheld the section of the law which requires state and local law enforcement to investigate the immigration status of anyone they stop, detain, or arrest who they suspect lacks documents.
Civil rights groups and immigrant rights activists are calling the ruling an immediate threat to the civil liberties of immigrants, noting the abuses, prolonged detentions, and the flat-out targeting of Latino communities already underway. A trial began last week alleging systematic racial profiling by Phoenix-area Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has testified that "dark skin…is the look of the Mexican illegal."
Arizona's law has spurred copycats in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, and Utah. As important as legal strategies have proven to defeat some provisions of the law, organizers and Latino communities are not waiting for the courts to come to the rescue as Arpaio’s storm troopers make their rounds.

Realizing that the first reaction to the "show me your papers law" was fear and confusion, community organizers in Phoenix developed Comités Para la Defensa del Barrio, or Committees for Defense of the Neighborhood.
The committees have a steward-like structure where leaders, each representing 20-30 families from different neighborhoods, meet weekly to discuss police harassment and prolonged detentions, and receive basic know-your-rights trainings. The organization is sustained through dues of $10 per month per adult.
“We've been able to identify particular officers that have a record of harassing folks and racial profiling,” said Salvador Reza, an organizer with the committees. “We've launched direct action campaigns and have been successful in getting abusive officers re-assigned to other parts of the city and out of our communities.”
Rallies and marches, publicized via local radio stations and independent media, have been organized at several police stations. Organizers think abusive officers have been removed due to their actions and because police and community leaders don't want a pattern of profiling to emerge that could undermine the legislation.
The committees also hold a general assembly where hundreds of community members come to level legal questions at lawyers, receive trainings on how to interact with the police if they are stopped, and get educated on the economic and colonial roots of immigration.
“We really try to destroy the myth that any human being is illegal,” Reza said.
Unions like the Food and Commercial Workers Local 99 in Phoenix and Tucson have been spurred by the law to negotiate contract language that requires employers to notify the union at the same time as they notify the member of any immigration-related actions taken against them, giving them time to find legal counsel. In addition the union has also secured a 90-day window for the worker to make sure documents are up to date. (For more on what unions can do to defend members in similar situations, see Immigration Audits: Building A Strong Defense.) And UFCW has been mobilizing members to the neighborhood defense committees' actions.
“As unionists it’s our work to defend our members,” said Martin Hernandez, an organizer with Local 99, “and by extension that means defending their families and their communities.”
While the committees focus on everyday survival, other unions are looking to change the political landscape. The hotel and casino union UNITE HERE Local 631 is teaming up with the Campaign for Arizona’s Future to register voters and get them to the polls. They deployed a group of about 100 volunteers and hospitality workers in July to conduct a voter registration “raid” at five non-union luxury resorts in the upscale city of Scottsdale, in a tongue-in-cheek parody of Sheriff Arpaio’s raids. They aim to register and mobilize 40,000 new Latino voters by November's election.
“We have to attack this from all angles,” said Daria Ovide, an organizer with Campaign for Arizona’s Future. “We realize that not all Latinos are eligible to vote, but many come from mixed-status families and this is one of many ways to give those mixed status households a voice in the fight. Our goal is to keep families together.”
Painters Local 86 in Phoenix is taking a longer view. With a membership that is 42 percent white, 50 percent Latino, 5 percent native, and 3 percent Black, the union has focused on educating members, explaining the law and countering the arguments many have already digested.
“We reject this law not just because 50 percent of our members are Latino but also because these type of laws hurt the state’s image and its economy,” said Masavi Perea of Local 86. Hundreds of thousands have left the state’s workforce and pulled kids out of school, and one study estimated that Arizona businesses lost more than $600 million from boycotts and slowed economic activity.
The union puts immigration on the agenda at regular membership meetings, where the law's negative impact on members is made clear to all.
“It’s tough because the mainstream media is pummeling our members with misinformation," Perea said. "It’s our work to flip our members who actually believe that SB 1070 is a good thing."


I have noticed, during the last few weeks, that the police and other law enforcement/military members in the USA have been targeting streamers during protests. Dept of Homeland Security is being called in to join police, military with increasing frequency. One streamer was viciously attacked in NYC, sustaining a broken back, police destroyed his media equipment, blocking out the sound, so his cries of pain could not be heard. Another person, luckily, was able to capture his screams. All of his equipment was confiscated and destroyed and he was jailed.
 Also, in NYC, I witnessed a police officer literally run into a group of protestors after an officer behind him shouted "Arrest that guy for wearing an Anonymous mask!" The Anon, was grabbed by the police officer and dragged away. I subsequently was informed that there is a law still on the books from 1845 stating that it is illegal to wear masks in public!!
 In addition, at the very end of the Anaheim, CA, USA Protest, which was not organized by Occupy, but rather the community, police were seen firing randomly on citizens who were exiting the nearby grocery store. They also fired upon TimCast, a Ustream citizen journalist!! Both Tim and his fellow journalist, a woman whose name I cannot remember at this time (sorry), were forced to seek refuge behind trash dumpsters. Tim was audibly distressed and was heard saying nervously "omg! I felt that rubber bullet whiz right by my head!" On his Ustream, Tim showed several of these 'bullets', which are very, very large. This is a new and very disturbing, developing story in the US and appears to be occurring more frequently.
 All members of Occupy, including streamers, need to be aware of this nefarious trend and need to take extreme security measures at any and all upcoming events/protests!! Please also, surround our friends from Anonymous and keep them surrounded and protected, as well as everybody else participating. Numbers are paramount! Our safety is paramount!!
 One man at the Anaheim protest, not an Occupy member, was shot at point-blank range in the stomach with a "totally harmless, completely safe" rubber bullet! He was simply trying to get his bicycle in order to leave the area. Yes, right, tell Scott Olsen about the 'safety' of these rubber bullets! Scott is permanently paralyzed, after being shot in the head with a 'harmless' rubber bullet and he knows first hand just how 'safe' these rubber bullets are!!!
 I am writing this in order to make Occupy and Occupy streamers in the USA aware of this, in order to advise them of the extent to which police/military, etc are now willing to go to intimidate people into NOT participating in important protests/events.
 Peace, solidarity and love from Phoenix, Arizona, USA <3

2012-07-27 "How Will the 99% Deal With 70 Million Psychopaths?"

by Joe Brewer from "Cognitive Policy Works" [http://www.cognitivepolicyworks.com/blog/2012/07/24/how-will-the-99-deal-with-70-million-psychopaths/]:
Joe Brewer an innovation strategist who weaves together brilliant people and ideas to create high-impact projects and a change agent who synthesizes broad multidisciplinary knowledge into useful tools and insights for the empowerment of others.  His writings on social change can be found at Chaotic Ripple.
Did you know that roughly one person in a hundred is clinically a psychopath?  These individuals are either born with an emotional deficiency that keeps them from feeling bad about hurting others or they are traumatized early in life in a manner that causes them to become this way.  With more than 7 billion people on the planet that means there are as many as 70,000,000 psychopaths alive today.  These people are more likely to be risk takers, opportunists motivated by self-interest and greed, and inclined to dominate or subjugate those around them through manipulative means.

Last year, the Occupy Movement drew a distinction between the top 1% and the remaining 99% — as distinguished by measures of wealth and income.  Of course, this breakdown is misleading since there are many top income earners who sympathize with the plights of others and are not part of the problem.  Now the real defining metric reveals itself:  1% of the global population is comprised of people who exhibit psychopathic tendencies.

The global economy we have today is built on a deep history of top-down hierarchies that promote domination and control.  There have been plenty of feudal lords, warrior chieftains, and violent dictators throughout the last 6000 years of burgeoning civilization.  The modern era saw the ascension of “corporate personhood” as an amoral entity enshrined into law by an 1886 ruling of the US Supreme Court.  This provided a new mechanism for mobilizing capital by the moneyed elites to deploy their wealth into the realm of public policy and civil society — creating the dysfunctional economic system we must now contend with as we struggle to address global challenges.

We find ourselves in a situation where economic philosophies that celebrate selfishness can be implemented through a web of legal and financial tools that elevate and reward those individuals with psychological tendencies toward self-interest — the same people who also have a predisposition to game social contexts to their advantage regardless of impacts on others.  Thus the psychopathic corporation was forged as a Frankenstein monster that enabled the constant flow of psychopathic blood, continuously replenished by the 1% of the population born into psychopathy in each new generation, to rise into positions of power as stock traders, corporate executives, and corruptible politicians.

What can we do collectively to contain and manage this small minority of people who are driven by selfish motives with no concern for others?  How must we include them in our plans so that global civilization can transition to a configuration of peaceful cooperation and environmental balance?  This is the defining question for global financial stability and environmental sustainability.  It runs right to the core of our inability to garner collective action on such systemic challenges as climate change, global poverty, and corporate corruption.  It is the central issue of political power that has so far eluded our environmental and social justice movements.

We can start to sketch out the solution by drawing on cross-disciplinary research about human nature and our evolutionary past.  The key questions are:
What are the evolutionary advantages for having psychopaths in the gene pool?
How did our ancestors keep their anti-social tendencies in check?
What is the positive role for psychopaths that needs to be preserved in the new economic system?

Partial answers to these questions can be found in the pioneering work of anthropologist, Christopher Boehm, in his recent book Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame.  Professor Boehm has dedicated much of his career to the study of primates in an attempt to explain where pro-social behaviors originally came from.  Along the way he realized that a critical piece of the puzzle was how hunter-gatherer tribes dealt with would-be cheaters and dictators in order to maintain an egalitarian ethos in their social groups.  Every hunter-gatherer society has a long history of democratic governance that provided cohesion and stability to the small bands of humans who had to cooperate in order to survive long periods of climatic instability and changing landscapes.

These small bands had particular difficulty with their psychopaths when it came to hunting big game.  They depended heavily on the wealth of nutrients provided by large animals, yet were unable to successfully acquire meat without cooperation.  It was in this context that the cheaters and bullies had to be suppressed — through a consensus process amongst tribal members with the power to ostracize or, in extreme cases, execute these typically male would-be upstarts.  They did this to keep them from disrupting the social order that enabled the group to survive and thrive.

Things changed with the invention of agriculture and its associated patterns of human settlement and increasingly sophisticated economic structures.  The rise in population size, combined with a division of labor into social castes, enabled the would-be upstarts to sow division in the ranks and rise in power through physical and political domination.  The checks-and-balances of tribal society no longer held them in place.  And so it happened that the psychopaths in our midst were able to begin the process of consolidating power and manipulating the masses for personal gain.

But why were there psychopaths in the first place?  What possible advantage could they bring to the genetic mix that promotes human flourishing?  It is vital that we keep in mind that being psychopathic is NOT the same as being violent or criminal.  A psychopath is simply a person whose brain does not register stressful feelings when they observe harms inflicted on others.  Someone with this characteristic might be more likely to deceive and manipulate others for personal gain, but they quite often are aware of social sanctions (and the punishments that follow) and so constrain their behaviors accordingly.

On the positive side, a person who experiences less emotional angst about harm to self and others is well suited as a risk taker whose attempts to ‘rise in the ranks’ of material wealth bring pioneering innovations to the group.  They also handle the hardships of war and stressful negotiations with other tribes without the compounding harms of emotional trauma that would be inflicted on a more sensitive soul.  In today’s context, such a person would be a great fit for working as a field medic during times of war (or in the aftermath of a natural disaster) since they could operate on many people without accumulating post traumatic stress disorder.

Such benefits to society may be small in comparison to the harms they inflict upon us all when their power goes unchecked.  But the stubborn fact remains that they comprise a persistent part of our progeny — regardless of their perceived worth to the whole — and must be included in our thinking about how to build robust political and economic systems in the future.

With this goal in mind, I’d like to offer some preliminary thoughts about how we can make use of insights like these to both accurately diagnose our root problems and engage in active redesign of global civilization to enable humanity to cooperate on the scales necessary for our long-term survival.  First, a few reflections on the nature of the problem:
 The primary issue of concern is one of design oversight that failed to include psychopathic tendencies as a parameter for political and economic systems.  We simply did not know how to handle them when civilization began 6000 years ago, and have yet to update contemporary global systems to mitigate the potential harms they might cause.
In recent centuries, a set of legal instruments were put in place that encourage and reinforce psychopathic tendencies through a system of incentive structures that reward selfish behaviors.  This enabled the misguided philosophies of neoclassical economics and neorealist politics to gain undue influence over our thinking about social policy and institutional design.
A profound gap now exists between what needs to be done to ensure a prosperous future for humanity and the current trajectory of civilization.  We must contain the innate psychopathic tendencies that comprise a small portion of the human gene pool if collective action is to be taken that harnesses real economic and political power to tackle global challenges like climate change, human insecurity, and corruption.

Taken together, these observations begin to paint a picture for what the solution looks like.  Not only must we stop celebrating greed (and enabling it to run rampant through our policy choices), we also have to provide supports for pro-social cooperative behaviors that embody the altruistic and compassionate aspects of human nature that are expressed through the remaining 99% of us.

A sketch of the solution might look like this:
Gather together the best knowledge we have about human nature – as it emerges from the cognitive and social sciences — to inform the design of institutional policy, legislation, incentive structures, and regulatory bodies.  Employ it to critique long-standing assumptions about economic behavior and political power.
Diagnose the current global economy to reveal pathways where psychopathic tendencies are expressed.  Target these areas for policy reform as a “damage control” measure while engaging in broader debate about how to build replacement structures.
Create policy-development frameworks that promote cooperative behavior amongst people and with the broader environments on which we depend for our survival.  This includes new metrics of success (e.g. replace Gross Domestic Product with more systematic measures like General Progress Indicators or Gross National Happiness), greater investments in societal infrastructure (e.g. public education, medical research, Earth monitoring systems, etc.) that enable us to integrate our increasingly sophisticated knowledge about global change into the management of social and economic systems.
Introduce incentive systems (with clearly defined and enforceable punitive measures) that enable our psychopaths to participate in society in a more beneficial and less disruptive manner.  We need to recognize that people with these behavioral tendencies will likely always be part of the societal mix.  Helping them find ways to participate as productive members of society will go a long way towards containing the harms they might produce and promoting social cohesion across our pluralistic societies where past harms remain to be fully healed.

I have intentionally set out these parameters at a broad conceptual level because this topic is too nuanced and complex for any one person to hold all the answers.  Hopefully what I’ve written here will encourage you to think more deeply about what is happening in the world — and what role(s) you might fill in helping to create a new economic system that serves us all.  It is safe to assume that I’ve made significant omissions and that much more needs to be brought into the conversation before we can begin to implement the solutions I recommend or any others which improve upon them.

For now, it is my hope that the ideas presented here create new insights for us as we struggle to articulate the path beyond the political impasse that has stalled action on financial reform and climate change in recent years.  Perhaps these thoughts will also inform our next steps as we ponder how to improve upon the Occupy Movement and Arab Spring of 2011 to elevate and meld together the social movements of the world into a coherent new economic and political system capable of delivering complex outcomes for our interconnected and rapidly changing world.

Can we contain the 70 million psychopaths in the world today?  Only if we come together and create effective sanctions on their destructive behaviors before it’s too late.  The future still resides in the strength of our communities as we struggle together to find solutions that match the severity of existing threats during these turbulent times.  As a recent political slogan decried, “Yes we can!”

And, ultimately, we must if we are to deliver our children into a livable world.

2012-07-27 "Oregon Man Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail — for Collecting Rainwater on His Property; Eco Terrorism OR self reliant living?"

(CNSNews.com) – A rural Oregon man was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail and over $1,500 in fines because he had three reservoirs on his property to collect and use rainwater.
Gary Harrington of Eagle Point, Ore., says he plans to appeal his conviction in Jackson County (Ore.) Circuit Court on nine misdemeanor charges under a 1925 law for having what state water managers called “three illegal reservoirs” on his property – and for filling the reservoirs with rainwater and snow runoff.
“The government is bullying,” Harrington told CNSNews.com in an interview Thursday.
“They’ve just gotten to be big bullies and if you just lay over and die and give up, that just makes them bigger bullies. So, we as Americans, we need to stand on our constitutional rights, on our rights as citizens and hang tough. This is a good country, we’ll prevail,” he said.
The court has given Harrington two weeks to report to the Jackson County Jail to begin serving his sentence.
Harrington said the case first began in 2002, when state water managers told him there were complaints about the three “reservoirs” – ponds – on his more than 170 acres of land.
According to Oregon water laws, all water is publicly owned. Therefore, anyone who wants to store any type of water on their property must first obtain a permit from state water managers.
Harrington said he applied for three permits to legally house reservoirs for storm and snow water runoff on his property. One of the “reservoirs” had been on his property for 37 years, he said.
Though the state Water Resources Department initially approved his permits in 2003, the state – and a state court — ultimately reversed the decision.
“They issued me my permits. I had my permits in hand and they retracted them just arbitrarily, basically. They took them back and said ‘No, you can’t have them,’ so I’ve been fighting it ever since,” Harrington told CNSNews.com.
The case, he said, is centered on a 1925 law which states that the city of Medford holds exclusive rights to “all core sources of water” in the Big Butte Creek watershed and its tributaries.
“Way back in 1925 the city of Medford got a unique withdrawal that withdrew all — supposedly all — the water out of a single basin and supposedly for the benefit of the city of Medford,” Harrington told CNSNews.com.
Harrington told CNSNews.com, however, that the 1925 law doesn’t mention anything about colleting rainwater or snow melt — and he believes that he has been falsely accused.
“The withdrawal said the stream and its tributaries. It didn’t mention anything about rainwater and it didn’t mention anything about snow melt and it didn’t mention anything about diffused water, but yet now, they’re trying to expand that to include that rain water and they’re using me as the goat to do it,” Harrington
But Tom Paul, administrator of the Oregon Water Resources Department, claims that Harrington has been violating the state’s water use law by diverting water from streams running into the Big Butte River.
“The law that he is actually violating is not the 1925 provision, but it’s Oregon law that says all of the water in the state of Oregon is public water and if you want to use that water, either to divert it or to store it, you have to acquire a water right from the state of Oregon before doing that activity,” Paul told CNSNews.com.
Yet Paul admitted the 1925 law does apply because, he said, Harrington constructed dams to block a tributary to the Big Butte, which Medford uses for its water supply.
“There are dams across channels, water channels where the water would normally flow if it were not for the dam and so those dams are stopping the water from flowing in the channel and storing it- holding it so it cannot flow downstream,” Paul told CNSNews.com.
Harrington, however, argued in court that that he is not diverting water from Big Butte Creek, but the dams capturing the rainwater and snow runoff – or “diffused water” – are on his own property and that therefore the runoff does not fall under the jurisdiction of the state water managers, nor does it not violate the 1925 act.
In 2007, a Jackson County Circuit Court judge denied Harrington’s permits and found that he had illegally “withdrawn the water at issue from appropriation other than for the City of Medford.”
According to Paul, Harrington entered a guilty plea at the time, received three years probation and was ordered to open up the water gates.
“A very short period of time following the expiration of his probation, he once again closed the gates and re-filled the reservoirs,” Paul told CNSNews.com. “So, this has been going on for some time and I think frankly the court felt that Mr. Harrington was not getting the message and decided that they’d already given him probation once and required him to open the gates and he refilled his reservoirs and it was business as usual for him, so I think the court wanted — it felt it needed — to give a stiffer penalty to get Mr. Harrington’s attention.”
In two weeks, if unsuccessful in his appeals, Harrington told CNSNews.com that he will report to the Jackson County Jail to serve his sentence.
“I follow the rules. If I’m mandated to report, I’m going to report. Of course, I’m going to do what it takes in the meantime to prevent that, but if I’m not successful, I’ll be there,” Harrington said.
But Harrington also said that he will never stop fighting the government on this issue.
“When something is wrong, you just, as an American citizen, you have to put your foot down and say, ‘This is wrong; you just can’t take away anymore of my rights and from here on in, I’m going to fight it.”

2012-07-27 "AFT convention: Teachers ask, “When did we become the enemy?”"

by John Rummel from "People Before Profit network"
DETROIT - "Some of you are thinking that the big opening today is not in Detroit but in London. But don't ever forget that behind every sprinter, marathoner, gymnast or swimmer is a teacher."
That is how American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten began her keynote address to 3,000 delegates as the AFT opened its 2012 national convention in Detroit's Cobo Center Friday morning. She drew a standing ovation.
The nation's teachers, the majority of them unionized and working in public schools, have been the bedrock for the success stories of people from all walks of life. With so much to be proud of, delegates here wondered, "When did we become the enemy?"
Weingarten said teachers have been targeted because they are in the front lines fighting to save public education.
She noted that the nature of teachers' work, tied to families and based in communities, puts them at the intersection of two important social movements - the movement for increased educational opportunity, and the movement for advancing economic dignity. Weingarten outlined the AFT's commitment to "solution-based unionism" - working to solve the challenges faced by schools and the communities they serve.
As an example she said the union has started community programs that make available to students and their families health, mental health, tutoring, counseling and other services.
Another initiative she cited is a web-based project called "Share My Lesson" that she said will be a "digital file cabinet" of the best teacher lesson plans and ideas freely available for all teachers.
Weingarten spoke of the AFT executive council's unanimous endorsement of President Obama. She said the candidates the union is endorsing in many cases aren't perfect but "they have felt the same winds of change that we have, and are attempting to deal with them in a way that honors and respects America's working families."
The two candidates for president couldn't be more different, she said, and the stakes are too high to sit this one out. She mentioned Romney's support of school vouchers and the Bush-era tax cuts for the very wealthy, his plan that would turn Medicare into a voucher system and his plan to double out-of-pocket costs for seniors, his opposition to the Obama's stimulus program that saved the jobs of 300,000 teachers and more.
"Mitt Romney says he would preserve the Department of Education only so he'd have a club to beat back unions. Should Mitt Romney be our next president?" asked Weingarten.
The delegates responding with a deafening "No."
At noon, hundreds of delegates went to rally in front of the offices of Detroit's emergency school manager, Roy Roberts. Weingarten said Roberts has used that power to gut school funding, pink-slip every teacher, and slash teacher pay. He has refused to negotiate with the teachers union to solve the deep challenges that Detroit schools face.
Weingarten told the delegates she had sent Roberts a letter Thursday, demanding that he meet with her and local AFT leaders, and within hours of receiving this letter, he agreed. This happened not just because of the letter, she said, but because the teachers made it known that they were prepared to turn out in force, she said.
The teachers rallying outside Roberts' office reinforced the message Weingarten delivered inside: "Only by working with educators, parents and the community will we be able to rebuild a strong Detroit for our children."
On a positive note, Weingarten said that despite a brutal economy and a right wing out to destroy the union, AFT membership is larger than two years ago.

Photo: American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten addresses the AFT convention in Detroit, July 27. Courtesy of Nathan Goldbaum, communications coordinator, Chicago Teachers Union.

2012-07-27 "A Police State as American as Mom’s Apple Pie"

by Jeff Opdyke, Editor of "The Sovereign Individual" newsletter:
“Yeah, but there’s no place like America,” said my 91-year-old grandmother, who stopped by my office earlier this week to visit. She was commenting on my recent Asia trip and how much time I spend away from home.
 “I can understand why you’d say that at your age; you still remember when America was a great place,” I replied. “But I don’t think I agree with you, now. This place isn’t what it was even when I was a kid. When you’re away, and you come back, you really see how the country’s changing for the worse.”
 “What do you mean?”
 Let me tell you what I told my grandmother… I told her that George Orwell was right. He was just 30 years premature.
 Some of you are probably rolling your eyes at this point. You might feel compelled to close out of this email and go on to something else. But don’t… not yet. Give me a couple of minutes to make my case that America is moving toward Orwell’s vision faster than you can imagine. That’s bad news for the liberties we once thought were sacred. And it means you need to give some thought to your next move if life in the U.S. degrades beyond your comfort zone.
On the Path Toward a Seemingly Benevolent Police State
This is not a story about America becoming a totalitarian state, at least not in the dystopian sense that Orwell portrays in 1984. This is the story of Big Brother and government’s increasing disregard of our personal liberties.
 Congress and various presidents over the last few decades have tossed our liberties onto the bonfire of history, sacrificing what we know as “The American Way” in order to usurp ever-more power for the state – often with very little effort involved.
 Many still – and rightfully – rail against the wildly misnamed Patriot Act that sprung like a Trojan Horse from the 9/11 attacks, and that now makes you walk shoeless through airport screeners that digitally molest you.
 But, a decade later, we’ve moved way past TSA screeners. We are, quite literally, on the path to a unique version of an American police state. It won’t be the outwardly malevolent state Orwell envisioned. It will instead act like, and appear to be, the same benevolent democracy – only more secure – that we’ve always associated with “America.”
 But looks, as always, are deceiving.
 Consider just three recent news items that I collected in the past week or so:

#1. The Drug-Sniffing Laser
And you thought the beagle sniffing out your illegally imported Spanish ham at the airport was annoying. Well, now comes a laser system that can detect drugs or gunpowder from more than 160 feet away. It can also detect your adrenaline level.
 And here’s the best part… it can detect whatever it seeks at microscopic levels, but more on that in a moment.
 The Department of Homeland Security is looking to deploy these scanners at airports to increase protection. The glass-half-full analysis is that we could reach a point where there’s no longer a need for security lines at airports. A bank of lasers scanning every inch of the interior, as well as the outside entrances, would detect problematic substances in real time.
 But there is a darker flipside to consider… behavior control across every strata of society.
 Government could blanket the landscape with lasers. The lasers could easily be engineered into street lamps, traffic lights, electronic billboards, surveillance cameras – anywhere, really. Uncle Sam would know instantly what substances you’ve been around. If anything illegal or harmful were detected, police would be alerted immediately to your location… and would be given a photo of what you look like.
 Think about this, though: What if it’s not you that left trace amounts of cocaine on the dollar bill you pull from your wallet? What if it’s not you that left the shotgun-shell residue on the handrail you grabbed while climbing the stairs? How do you prove your innocence if the government finds these particles on your body?
 Think it’s preposterous? Share that with Keith Brown, a Briton who was traveling through Dubai when laser scanners detected marijuana… weighing less than a grain of sugar… stuck to the bottom of his shoe. Google it. Mr. Brown was sentenced to four years in prison, though he was later released early.
 Never assume that can’t happen in America.

# 2. Dusting for Footprints
Turns out your footprint – and the way you walk – is as unique as your fingerprint. And a new technology known as “biometric insoles” will keep track of where you’re going.
 The insoles are reportedly 99% accurate. They’ll make their debut in a few government and corporate facilities that require security clearance, since the insoles are less time-consuming than retina scans. Within three steps they can determine that you are, indeed, you – even if your stride or footfalls change because you’re tired or moving quicker than normal.
 But play out the logical conclusion and you end up in a world where the technology could be applied to the surfaces we walk on. Government, at some point, could mandate a walking test to obtain a driver’s license or Social Security card. It would have on file, and programmed into every biometric surface, the digital pattern of every American.
 Go to the bank and then the gold store, and the government knows what time you were at each location. While the technology would do wonders in helping mitigate criminal activity and solve the crimes that do happen… it would also mean Big Brother knows, literally, every step you take.

#3. Smile! You’re on Drone Camera
Already, the FAA has issued certificates for more than 60 local, state and federal organizations to fly drones across America. Some are for research, like those deployed by universities in Texas, Alaska and elsewhere.
 Others are flying under the banner of various policing organizations from the Department of Homeland Security to the FBI to police and sheriff’s departments in Miami, Houston and Seattle, among others. And you can bet those departments aren’t using their drones for benevolent flyovers at local parades. Indeed, some police departments have proposed arming their drones with tear gas and rubber bullets.
 These are not big, bulky drones like you see on the nightly news guiding missiles into the barracks of terrorists hiding in Afghanistan. We’re talking drones the size of a model airplane, weighing just a few pounds and outfitted with tiny, high-resolution cameras… used for surveillance... of Americans.
 Government predicts that by the end of the decade, 30,000 drones will be patrolling American skies like a swarm of nettlesome gnats – one drone for every 126 square miles, an area about four times the size of Manhattan, easily surveyed in a day by a single drone.
 So much for “probable cause” and our Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure.
 Police will have a video record of what happens on the ground. Your privacy will be sacrificed for, in theory, the greater good of society and the need to control crime and domestic terrorism.

“You Might Have a Point”
There’s not a week that goes by that stories like these don’t hit the news. Whether it’s Obama signing an order earlier this month giving government sweeping control over the Internet during a loosely defined “emergency” (think: no access to online banking if government wants to limit cash access)… or whether it’s the expansion of facial-recognition software (just as destructive to liberty as biometric insoles and drug-sniffing lasers)… the stories are piling high that indicate the Orwellian future is upon us.
 But don’t fear… you have options. That’s why so much of my money is in local bank and brokerage accounts overseas. Non-dollar currency exposure has been one of my big motivations for years, and I sleep well knowing a meaningful portion of my cash is outside the U.S. financial network.
 When a government is moving in the direction America’s is, sadly, moving, you can’t have all your money exposed to one economy and one monetary system. That’s a liability and a risk to your lifestyle and your personal sovereignty.
 Even a benevolent police state can impose restrictions on your U.S.-based money one day that impact your ability to live free.
 “You might have a point,” my grandmother told me.
 Until next time, stay Sovereign…

P.S. From drones to drug-sniffing lasers, the threats to our liberties keep growing. Recently, I’ve been tracking another trend being quietly pushed through our government: the secret destruction of paper currency. These changes could put all financial transactions under the watch of government monitors and could change the way you pay your bills, shop for groceries and even tip your waitress. To take a look at my special report on the “Death of Cash,” click here [http://www.sovereignsociety.com/pages/svs/digital_currency_video1.php?pub=DIGICURR&code=ESVSN706].

Thursday, July 26, 2012

FBI launches a war against dissent in Oregon and Washington!

The following is a statement expressing solidarity with the current targets of FBI repression:
On Wednesday July 25th, the FBI conducted a series of coordinated raids against activists in Portland, Olympia, and Seattle. They subpoenaed  several people to a special federal grand jury, and seized computers, black clothing and anarchist literature. This comes after similar raids in  Seattle in July and earlier raids of squats in Portland.
Though the FBI has said that the raids are part of a violent crime investigation, the truth is that the federal authorities are conducting a political witch-hunt against anarchists and others working toward a more just, free, and equal society. The warrants served specifically listed anarchist literature as evidence to be seized pointing to the fact that the FBI and police are targeting this group of people because of their political ideas. Pure and simple, these raids and the grand jury hearings are being used to intimidate people whose politics oppose the state's agenda. During a time of growing economic and ecological crises that are broadly affecting people across the world, it is an attempt to push back any movement towards creating a world that is humane, one that meets every person's needs rather than serving only the interests of the rich.
This attack does not occur in a vacuum. Around the country and around the  world, people have been rising up and resisting an economic system that  puts the endless pursuit of profit ahead of the basic needs of humanity  and the Earth. From the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement to now Anaheim,  people are taking to the streets. In each of these cases, the state has  responded with brutal political repression. This is not a coincidence. It  is a long-term strategy by state agencies to stop legitimate political  challenges to a status quo that exploits most of the world's people.
We, the undersigned, condemn this and all other political repression. While we may have differences in ideology or chose to use different tactics, we understand that we are in a shared struggle to create a just, free, and liberated world, and that we can only do this if we stand together. We will not let scare tactics or smear campaigns divide us, intimidate us, or stop us from organizing and working for a better world.
No more witch-hunts! An injury to one is an injury to all. 
To add your group's name to the solidarity statement, please email: aw83499@gmail.com 
Committee Against Political Repression
 Freedom Archives
 Sacramento Prisoner Support
 Committee to Stop FBI Repression
 Critical Resistance
 Stop the Injunctions Coalition
 National Jericho Movement for Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War
 Civil Liberties Defense Center
 We Are Oregon
 Portland Jobs with Justice
 Rose City Cop Watch
 Bayan-USA Pacific Northwest Region
 Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC)
 Red Spark (Kasama)
 Earth First! Journal collective
 Repeal Coalition
 1st of May Anarchist Alliance
 Black Unity Movement
 The Institute for Anarchist Studies
 Connect the Dots
 Oregon Jericho
 Parasol Climate Collective
 Portland Anarchist Black Cross
 Right to Survive
 Right to Dream 2
 Rosehips Medic Collective
 Communities United Against Police Brutality
 The Radical Anti-Capitalist Caucus, of Occupy Portland
 Students on Strike Organizing Committee
 Autonomous Workers’ Group
 Occupy Oakland Anti Repression Committee
 Oakland Occupy Patriarchy
 Oakland Occupy Legal
 East Bay Solidarity Network
 Portland Animal Defense League
 Cascadians Against War
 PDX Bike Swarm
 Northbay Movement for a Democratic Society
 Solano Peace and Justice Coalition
 Solano Peace and Freedom Party
 Northbay Uprising Radio Collective
 MN Anti-War Committee
 Peoples’ Action for Rights and Community
 Redwood Curtain CopWatch
 Occupy Eureka
 Arizona Prison Watch
 All Power to the Positive podcast
 Justice for Palestinians, San Jose, CA
 Culture of Resistance
 Family & Friends of Daniel McGowan
 Blazing Arrow Organization
 Portland International Socialist Organization
 Anti-Racist Action-LA/People Against Racist Terror
 The Portland World Citizens’ United Front
 The Wild Poppies Collective
 Everglades Earth First!
 The Center For A Stateless Society
 Black Orchid Collective
 Hella503 Collective
 Portland Rising Tide
 Laughing Horse Book and Film Collective
 Occupy 4 Prisoners, Oakland
 Night Heron Grassroots Activist Center
 Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition
 New York Taskforce for Political Prisoners
 The North American Anarchist Studies Network
 Cleveland 4 Support Group
 Freedom Socialist Party
 Socialist Action
 Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County
 Justice for Randy L. Dixon Rivera & Family
 Peace Resource Center
 Occupy Washington DC
 Occupy Peace House DC
 BDS LA for Justice in Palestine
 The American Iranian Friendship Committee
 NYC Jericho Movement
 Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee, NYC Chapter
 New Direction Fest
 Socialist Viewpoint Magazine
 Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
 Al-Nakba Awareness Project
 Social Democrats
 USA-Socialist Party, USA
 The Young Social Democrats-Young Peoples’ Socialist League
 Alliance for Global Justice
 Nicaragua Network
 Campaign for Labor Rights
 New York City Labor Against the War
 Labor for Palestine
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 Community Futures Collective
 The International Coalition to Free the Angola 3
 Workers World Party
 International Action Center
 East Bay Saturday Dialogues
 Soa Watch South Florida
 Socialist Viewpoint
 Occupy Kalamazoo
 Good Morning Revolution
 Wandering Llama Press
 Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee
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 Citizens Against Corruption
 Mutant Legal Collective NYC
 The Northampton (MA) Committee to Stop the Wars
 South Chicago ABC Zine Distro
 Defending Dissent Foundation
 Occupy Seattle Street Medics
 Vashon Women In Black
 Veterans For Peace, Linus Pauling Chapter 132
 Organic Consumers Association
 World Can’t Wait
 Internationalist Prison Books Collective
 Collective A-GoGo
 Alliance of the Libertarian Left of New England
 Earth First! Prisoner Support Project
 The Mineapolis Autonomous Radical Space (MARS) Collective
 Wensday Media Distro
 The Alice Committee
 Liberty Tree Foundation
 Grand Jury Resistance Project
 Alliance for Peace and Justice of Western Massachusetts
 Welfare Rights Committee (Mpls/St. Paul, MN)
 Socialist Organizer
 Occupy LCC (Lane Community College)
 Phoenix Class War Council
 The Wingnut Anarchist Collective
 Richmond Copwatch
 the ART lab
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 San Jose Peace & Justice Center
 Citizens for Legitimate Government
 New York Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition
 Unite Left Review
 Anarchy-1 radio
 Wisconsin Bail Out The People Movement
 Queers Without Borders
 Olympia Coalition for a Fair Budget
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 Blue Heron Infoshop
 Portland Books to Prisoners
 Moveon Desert Council
 Progressive Democrats Of America Desert Chapter
 Occupy Colorado Springs
 Support Vegans in the Prison System
 Denver Anarchist Black Cross
 Twin Cities IWW General Defense Committee Local 14
 Decolonize PDX
 Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
 Animal Defense League of Salt Lake City
 Seattle Communist Study Group
 Our World In Depth
 Grupo El Heraldo
 The Portland Solidarity Network
 Portland IWW
 Workers Solidarity Alliance
 Occupy New Haven
 NYC Anarchist Black Cross
 Pilipino Association of Workers and Immigrants
 CODEPINK LI, Women for Peace
People's Community Medics

"FBI agents raid Occupy associated Portland houses"
2012-07-25 by Will Potter from "Green is the new Red", reposted at "IndyBay.org" newswire [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/07/25/18718309.php]:
Intro from "IndyBay.org" post: Repost from 'Green is the New Red' about raids on three Portland houses during the morning of Weds. July 25th. One house had been vacant for years, one had been a well known activist house, and one may have had anarchist squatters. The crime being investigated is unknown. Apparently grand jury notices have been distributed to a few people in Olympia, Seattle, and Portland.
As I’ve been reporting on Twitter, there have been multiple homes raided and grand jury subpoenas issued in Portland, Olympia, and Seattle.
 Three homes were raided in Portland, by approximately 60-80 police including FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force. Individuals at the homes say police used flash grenades during the raid.
 Grand jury subpoenas have been served to individuals in all three cities: 2 in Olympia, 1 in Seattle, and 2 in Portland. The grand jury is scheduled to convene on August 2nd at the federal courthouse in Seattle.
 No arrests have been made. Electronics were confiscated along with additional personal items.
 All legal documents related to the searches and grand jury are sealed, and the FBI will only say it is related to an “ongoing violent crime” investigation. But based on interviews with residents, and what police told them at the scene, this is clearly related to the ongoing demonization of anarchists and the Occupy movement.
 I’ll continue updating as this develops; please follow me on Twitter (@will_potter) for the latest.
 UPDATE: Reports of FBI and police lingering around after the raids, trying to get people to voluntarily talk. Know your rights, never talk to police without an attorney.
2012-07-25 photograph showing FBI agents raid homes in Portland, Ore., by Greenisnewred:

2012-07-25 photograph showing FBI raiding Portland house, by Greenisnewred:

2012-07-25 photograph showing investigation of unknown crime, by Greenisnewred:

"Interview clarifying purpose of raid" 2012-07-27 from "Portland Mercury" (Index Newspapers, LLC)[http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2012/07/27/breaking-interview-and-documents-from-fbi-raid-show-feds-are-targeting-anarchists]:
 The first interview with any of the Portlanders who were served grand jury subpoenas as FBI agents searched their homes on Wednesday, July 25, shines some light on what authorities may be hoping to achieve with the raids [http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2012/07/25/fbi-raids-homes-across-northwestlooks-like-targeting-anarchists].
 Dennison Williams was in bed at his house on NE 8th Avenue on Wednesday morning when he heard a bang and someone shout, "FBI!" Then came a loud crash, which turned out to be agents breaking down his front door, and Williams heard a bang and a saw a flash of light—the agents throwing flash grenades. Williams started yelling from his bed that he was upstairs and unarmed.
 "I was scared," he said. "The police in this town have a history of shooting people, I was worried they would accidentally shoot me."
 According to Williams, FBI officers entered his room with assault rifles and kept them aimed at him while they handcuffed him. They put him in a chair for about 30 minutes while they searched his house. Williams says there were about 15 FBI officers in the house, plus one Portland police officer on the street outside. According to the property receipt Williams received from the officers, the feds seized several items, including his computer, phone, hard-drive, two thumb drives, and various clothes (including black jeans, black t-shirt, and a black bandana). They then served him a subpoena to appear at a grand jury in Seattle next Thursday, August 2nd.
 Williams is not sure exactly what the grand jury is meeting about, but that likely they want to ask him about other people. The FBI has said only that the raids are part of an ongoing "violent crime" investigation.
 "It's related to political opposition, it's related to political dissent," says Williams. "They're trying to create a wedge within people who are resistors... They're specifically pursuing anarchists."
 The FBI search warrant states that they are looking to seize items which may be evidence regarding the crimes of conspiracy to destroy government property, interstate travel with intent to riot, and conspiracy to travel interstate with intent to riot. Those items include: Clothing and related items work during commission of offenses; paint; sticks and flags similar to those used or carried during the commission of the offenses, and material for making flags; anti-government or anarchist literature, documentation or communications related to the offenses, flares, computers or electronic storage media of any kind.
 On July 10th, Seattle police officers staged a similar raid on the house of some Occupy Mayday protesters in Seattle [http://mynorthwest.com/11/704637/Police-conduct-raid-in-May-Day-investigation]. On the day Williams' house and two other houses in Portland were searched, the FBI served grand jury subpoenas to people in Olympia and Seattle, as well. Williams was not sure how many people were served subpoenas, but thinks it is somewhere around seven people, and says he "will not cooperate" with the grand jury. Anyone who refuses to testify when subpoenaed can potentially face jail time.
 Political supporters calling themselves the "Committee Against Political Repression" have already set up a website to post information about the case and take donations to the legal fund: NoPoliticalRepression.wordpress.com. There, they've posted a "solidarity statement" from numerous activist groups condemning the "series of coordinated raids."
Comment: A warrant for sign making materials? Also flags, literature, computers? No bombs? No Molotov cocktails? This sounds like the criminalization of protest. Perhaps we should all go down to the nearest federal building with flags, paint brushes, & books to protest this & we'll see if they're dumb enough to arrest us. I've got my Gadsden flag ready!
So hopefully people are finally starting to SEE now just what's really going on here, and i hope the rest of you are posting this on your facebooks and letting as many folks as you can know about this shit! All these raids that have taken place since last year - not ONE SINGLE arrest. Not a single charge filed. Not ONE actual weapon found. No bomb-making materials. No drugs. Nothing! These pigs stole from our home art, scrap books, photo albums, and burnt music cd-r's!
Posted by DamosA on 07/28/2012 at 11:44 AM
Serious question for Sarah Mirk: where are the actual documents? To my knowledge the search warrants are sealed, but in paragraph seven you state as fact a bunch of stuff apparently in the warrant, but you don't cite a source. Is the arrested dude your source? Did you get a copy of the warrant before it was sealed?
Posted by sgtgrumbles on 07/28/2012 at 12:26 PM
@sgtgrumbles - Williams shared a redacted copy of the documents he received from the FBI with me, including a receipt for property, the warrant, and his subpoena.
Posted by s.mirk on 07/28/2012 at 9:09 PM via mobile

"Activists accuse FBI of targeting anarchists"
2012-06-25 by Jim Redden from "Portland Tribune" newspaper [http://portlandtribune.com/pt-rss/9-news/112815-activists-accuse-fbi-of-targeting-anarchists]:
More than 40 left-wing political organizations are accusing the FBI of targeting activists because of their political beliefs in a coordinated raid on three homes in Portland on July 25.
The FBI says it raided three houses in North and Northeast Portland as part of an ongoing violent crime investigation. But a press release issued Friday by the Committee Against Political Repression accuses the FBI of “conducting a political witch-hunt against anarchists and others working toward a more just, free, and equal society.”
No one was arrested during the raids.
According to the press release, the search warrants specified “computers, black clothing and anarchist literature” as evidence to be seized. The FBI declined to comment on that claim, saying the search warrants are sealed.
The press release also says that several people in Portland, Olympia and Seattle have also been subpoenaed before a special federal grand jury.
“Pure and simple, these raids and the grand jury hearings are being used to intimidate people whose politics oppose the state's agenda,” the press release says.
The press release lists dozens of organizations as signers, including many that are active in Portland’s radical political scene. They include Portland Jobs With Justice, Rose City Copwatch, the Portland Central American Solidarity Committee, Portland Anarchist Black Cross, the Radical Anti-Capitalist Caucus of Occupy Portland, the Portland Animal Defense League, PDX Bike Swarm and the Portland International Socialist Organization.
Also included is the Right to Dream 2 homeless camp.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Profile of Minimum Wage Workers Isn’t What You Think"


Jeremy Wells of the California Peace & Freedom Party writes: "Would an increase in the minimum wage law cover part-time workers? Increasing the minimum wage, usually not enough to keep up with inflation, does little to fight back the impoverishment of tens of millions of workers. The glorified capitalist "free market" system is permanently incapable of supplying the "living wage" jobs needed by tens of millions of working people."

2012-07-21 "Part-time USA" by Kate Randall
Jobless claims jumped 34,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 386,000, according to the US Labor Department. The official US unemployment rate remained steady in June, at 8.2 percent, the 41st consecutive month it has hovered above 8 percent.
All signs point to a continued slowdown in the US economy, as long-term unemployment persists. Only 80,000 jobs were added to payrolls last month, fewer than economists had forecast and the third straight month of sub-100,000 job growth.
Even these bleak figures, however, paint a rosier picture than the reality. More than 8 million Americans are working part-time—not by choice, but because they cannot find full-time employment. The number of involuntary part-time workers has risen by more than half a million since March alone. These “underemployed” are nevertheless counted as working.
While 2 million more workers are employed in the US than in June 2002, there are 4 million more part-time workers today than there were a decade ago. And even with these 4 million part-timers counted, there are 4 million more people unemployed now than there were 10 years ago.
This means that there are 2 million fewer full-time workers today than in 2002—an unprecedented change. Over the course of the last decade there has been what can only be described as a seismic shift in the composition of the American workforce, as employers make a calculated move to bring on more workers on a part-time basis instead of hiring them full-time.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in June 2012, 8,210,000 people were working only 1 to 34 hours a week due to “economic reasons”—which include “slack work or unfavorable business conditions, inability to find full-time work, or seasonal declines in demand.” Government, private sector, and agricultural workers are all included in this count.
In the three years since authorities trumpeted the end of the recession, part-time workers have become one of the mainstays of the tepid job growth in the so-called recovery, taking their places beside temporary and contract workers, auto and other workers whose wages have been halved, and workers toiling for longer hours for less pay.
In the wake of the economic crisis that erupted in 2008, corporations are sitting on a giant cash hoard worth trillions of dollars and are refusing to make any substantial investments in job creation. The Obama administration’s minimal stimulus package has long-since dried up, and state and local governments are shedding workers by the hundreds of thousands. When companies do hire, they are increasingly turning to part-time, temporary or contract workers.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (“It’s Good Work if You Can Get It—and Especially if You Can Keep It”) points to the perks for employers hiring part-time workers. “For companies, hiring part-timers and contractors carries multiple benefits. Part-timers generally don’t receive health care or other benefits, making them less expensive, and they are usually easier to fire if business takes a turn for the worse.”
The Journal quotes Brett Good, senior district president with the staffing firm Robert Half International, who notes that hiring workers on a part-time or project-specific basis “gives companies more flexibility.” He adds, “It’s a ‘try before you buy,’ mentality.”
For the growing ranks of part-time workers, however, reduced working hours, lack of benefits and job insecurity are driving greater numbers into debt, foreclosure and social misery.
The youngest generation has been the hardest hit by the shift to part-time working. According to a recent report from the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, among those who graduated from high school in 2009-2011 and did not go on to college, only 16 percent were employed full-time. Another 22 percent were working part-time, largely because they could not find full-time work.
While part-time workers tend to be younger than those working full-time, and are concentrated in industries such as retail, social services and food services, workers across all sectors of the economy and among all age groups are represented, according to the BLS. A disproportionate and growing number of the part-time employed are older workers, at or near retirement, who have lost their jobs and can only find part-time work.
Part-time workers are often forced to work two or more jobs. In July 2011, some 6.8 million people held multiple jobs—shuttling from one part-time, low-wage job to the next, with little time for their families or other obligations. Despite working multiple jobs, the majority of these workers still do not have medical or other benefits.
While the part-time workforce swells, companies are squeezing more production out of full-time workers—all while cutting costs. With the support of the unions and the backing of the White House, poverty wages are being imposed on wider layers of the American workforce. As a direct result of the 2009 auto bailout, for example, Chrysler was able to reduce its labor costs by 35 percent between 2006 and 2010.
According to figures released in June by the Federal Reserve, the real median wage of US workers fell by 7.7 percent between 2007 and 2010. The Obama administration’s vision of “insourcing” spells a further deterioration of the wages and working conditions of US workers as companies seek to impose auto industry-style wage slashing on wider sections of the working population.
The expansion of part-time work is a key component of the drive by big business and the government to impose these conditions. Part-time workers—many holding down two or more jobs, without benefits—are pitted against full-time workers who are working harder for less pay, and who also face the constant threat of unemployment.
The inability of the capitalist system and its political representatives in the two big-business parties to provide full-time, decent-paying jobs is an indictment of the profit system. The right to a job—one of the most basic social rights—can only be fought for by rejecting the pro-capitalist program of both the Democrats and Republicans and building an independent political movement of the working class based on a socialist program.
The Socialist Equality Party and our candidates Jerry White and Phyllis Scherrer are intervening in the 2012 presidential election to present the case for such a socialist program to the widest possible audience. We urge all working people, students and youth to support our campaign and get involved. For more information, visit http://www.socialequality.com/.

2012-07-25 "The Rise of the Police State and the Absence of Mass Opposition"

by James Petras and Robin Eastman-Abaya from "Dissident Voice"
Professor Petras' latest books include The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press 2006) and Rulers and Rules (Clarity Press 2007). He can be reached at: jpetras@binghamton.edu. Robin Eastman-Abaya is a physician and has been a human rights activist in the Philippines for the past 29 years. Read other articles by James Petras and, or visit James Petras and's website.
One of the most significant political developments in recent US history has been the virtually unchallenged rise of the police state. Despite the vast expansion of the police powers of the Executive Branch of government, the extraordinary growth of an entire panoply of repressive agencies, with hundreds of thousands of personnel, and enormous public and secret budgets and the vast scope of police state surveillance, including the acknowledged monitoring of over 40 million US citizens and residents, no mass pro-democracy movement has emerged to confront the powers and prerogatives or even protest the investigations of the police state.
In the early fifties, when the McCarthyite purges were accompanied by restrictions on free speech, compulsory loyalty oaths and congressional ‘witch hunt’ investigations of public officials, cultural figures, intellectuals, academics and trade unionists, such police state measures provoked widespread public debate and protests and even institutional resistance. By the end of the 1950’s, mass demonstrations were held at the sites of the public hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in San Francisco (1960) and elsewhere, and major civil rights movements arose to challenge the racially segregated South, the compliant Federal government, and the terrorist racist death squads of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The Free Speech Movement in Berkeley (1964) ignited nationwide mass demonstrations against the authoritarian-style university governance.
The police state incubated during the first years of the Cold War was challenged by mass movements pledged to retain or regain democratic freedoms and civil rights.
Key to understanding the rise of mass movements for democratic freedoms was their fusion with broader social and cultural movements: democratic freedoms were linked to the struggle for racial equality; free speech was necessary in order to organize a mass movement against the imperialist US Indo-China wars and widespread racial segregation; the shutting down of Congressional ‘witch hunts’ and purges opened up the cultural sphere to new and critical voices and revitalized the trade unions and professional associations. All were seen as critical to protecting hard-won workers’ rights and social advances.
In the face of mass opposition, many of the overt police state tactics of the 1950’s went ‘underground’ and were replaced by covert operations; selective state violence against individuals replaced mass purges. The popular pro-democracy movements strengthened civil society and public hearings exposed and weakened the police state apparatus, but it did not go away. However, from the early 1980’s to the present, especially over the past 20 years, the police state has expanded dramatically, penetrating all aspects of civil society while arousing no sustained or even sporadic mass opposition.
The question is why has the police state grown and even exceeded the boundaries of previous periods of repression and yet not provoked any sustained mass opposition? This is in contrast to the broad-based pro-democracy movements of the mid to late 20th century. That a massive and growing police state apparatus exists is beyond doubt: one simply has to look up the published records of personnel (both public agents and private contractors), the huge budgets and scores of agencies involved in internal spying on tens of millions of American citizens and residents. The scope and depth of arbitrary police state measures taken include arbitrary detention and interrogations, entrapment, and the blacklisting of hundreds of thousands of US citizens. Presidential fiats have established the framework for the assassination of US citizens and residents, military tribunals, detention camps, and the seizure of private property.
Yet as these gross violations of the constitutional order have taken place and as each police state agency has further eroded our democratic freedoms, there have been no massive “anti-Homeland Security” movements, no campus Free Speech movements. There are only the isolated and courageous voices of specialized ‘civil liberties’ and constitutional freedoms activists and organizations, which speak out and raise legal challenges to the abuse, but have virtually no mass base and no objective coverage in the mass media.
To address this issue of mass inactivity before the rise of the police state, we will approach the topic from two angles.
We will describe how the organizers and operatives have structured the police state and how that has neutralized mass responses.
We will then discuss the ‘meaning’ of non-activity, setting out several hypotheses about the underlying motives and behavior of the ‘passive mass’ of citizens.

The Concentric Circles of the Police State -
 While the potential reach of the police state agencies covers the entire US population, in fact, it operates on the basis of ‘concentric circles’. The police state is perceived and experienced by the US population according to the degree of their involvement in critical opposition to state policies. While the police state theoretically affects ‘everyone’, in practice it operates through a series of concentric circles. The ‘inner core’, of approximately several million citizens, is the sector of the population experiencing the brunt of the police state persecution. They include the most critical, active citizens, especially those identified by the police state as sharing religious and ethnic identities with declared foreign enemies, critics or alleged ‘terrorists’. These include immigrants and citizens of Arab, Persian, Pakistani, Afghan and Somali descent, as well as American converts to Islam.
Ethnic and religious “profiling” is rife in all transport centers (airports, bus and train stations, and on the highways). Mosques, Islamic charities and foundations are under constant surveillance and subject to raids, entrapment, arrests, and even Israeli-style ‘targeted’ assassinations.
The second core group, targeted by the police state, includes African Americans, Hispanics, and immigration rights activists (numbering in the millions). They are subject to massive arbitrary sweeps, round-ups and unlimited detention without trial as well as mass indiscriminate deportations.
After the ‘core groups’ is the ‘inner circle’ which includes millions of US citizens and residents, who have written or spoken critically of US and Israeli policy in the Middle East, expressed solidarity with the suffering of the Palestinian people, opposed US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, or have visited countries or regions opposed to US empire building (Venezuela, Iran, South Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza, etc.). Hundreds of thousands of these citizens have their telephone, e-mail, and internet communications under surveillance; they have been targeted in airports, denied passports, subject to ‘visits’ and to covert and overt blacklisting at their schools and workplaces.
Activists engaged in civil liberties groups, lawyers, and professionals, leftists engaged in anti-imperialist, pro-democracy and anti-police state activities and their publications are on ‘file’ in the massive police state labyrinth of data collecting on ‘political terrorists’. Environmental movements and their activists have been treated as potential terrorists – with their own family members subjected to police harassment and ominous ‘visits’.
The ‘outer circle’ includes, community, civic, religious, and trade union leaders and activists who in the course of their activity interact with or even express support for core and inner circle critics and victims of police state violations of due process. The ‘outer circle’ numbering a few million citizens are ‘on file’ as ‘persons of interest’, which may involve monitoring their e-mail and periodic ‘checks’ on their petition signing and defense appeals.
These ‘three circles’ are the central targets of the police state, numbering upward of 40 million US citizens and immigrants who have not committed any crime. For having exercised their constitutional rights, they have been subjected to various degrees of police state repression and harassment.
The police state, however, has ‘fluid boundaries’ about whom to spy on, whom to arrest and when — depending on whatever arouses the apparatchiks ‘suspicion’ or desire to exercise power or please their superiors at any given moment.
The key to the police state operations of the US in the 21st century is to repress pro-democracy citizens and pre-empt any mass movement without undermining the electoral system, which provides political theater and legitimacy. A police state ‘boundary’ is constructed to ensure that citizens will have little option but to vote for the two pro-police state parties, legislatures and executives without reference to the conduct, conditions and demands of the core, inner and outer circle of victims, critics and activists. Frequent raids, harsh public ‘exemplary’ punishment and mass media stigmatization transmit a message to the passive mass of voters and non-voters that the victims of repression ‘must have been doing something wrong’ or else they would not be under police state repression.
The key to the police state strategy is to not allow its critics to gain a mass base, popular legitimacy, or public acceptance. The state and the media constantly drum the message that the activists’ ‘causes’ are not our (American, patriotic) ‘causes’; that ‘their’ pro-democracy activities impede ‘our’ electoral activities; their lives, wisdom and experiences do not touch our workplaces, neighborhoods, sports, religious and civic associations. To the degree that the police-state has ‘fenced in’ the inner circles of the pro-democracy activists, they have attained a free hand and uncontested reach in deepening and extending the boundaries of the authoritarian state. To the degree that the police state rationale or presence has penetrated the consciousness of the mass of the US population, it has created a mighty barrier to the linking of private discontent with public action.

Hypothesis on Mass Complicity and Acquiescence with the Police State -
 If the police-state is now the dominant reality of US political life, why isn’t it at the center of citizen concern? Why are there no pro-democracy popular movements? How has the police state been so successful in ‘fencing off’ the activists from the vast majority of US citizens? After all, other countries at other times have faced even more repressive regimes and yet the citizens rebelled. In the past, despite the so-called ‘Soviet threat’, pro-democracy movements emerged in the US and even rolled back a burgeoning police state. Why does the evocation of an outside ‘Islamic terrorist threat’ seem to incapacitate our citizens today? Or does it?
There is no simple, single explanation for the passivity of the US citizens faced with a rising omnipotent police state. Their motives are complex and changing and it is best to examine them in some detail.
One explanation for passivity is that precisely the power and pervasiveness of the police state has created deep fear, especially among people with family obligations, vulnerable employment and with moderate commitments to democratic freedoms. This group of citizens is aware of cases where police powers have affected other citizens who were involved in critical activities, causing job loss and broad suffering and are not willing to sacrifice their security and the welfare of their families for what they believe is a ‘losing cause’ – a movement lacking a strong popular base and with little institutional support. Only when the protest against the Wall Street bailout and the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movements against the ‘1%’ gained momentum, did this sector express transitory support. But as the Office of the President consummated the bailout and the police-state crushed the ‘Occupy’ encampments, fear and caution led many sympathizers to withdraw timidly back into passivity.
The second motive for ‘acquiescence’ among a substantial public is because they tend to support the police state, based on their acceptance of the anti-terror ideology and its virulent anti-Muslim-anti-Arab racism, driven in large part by influential sectors of pro-Israel opinion makers. The fear and loathing of Muslims, cultivated by the police state and mass media, was central to the post-9/11 build-up of Homeland Security and the serial wars against Israel’s adversaries, including Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, and now Syria with plans for Iran. Active support for the police state peaked during the first 5 years post-9/11 and subsequently ebbed as the Wall Street-induced economic crisis, loss of employment, and the failures of government policy propelled concerns about the economy far ahead of support for the police state. Nevertheless, at least one-third of the electorate still supports the police state, ‘right or wrong’. They firmly believe that the police state protects their ‘security’; that suspects, arrestees, and others under watch ‘must have been doing something illegal’. The most ardent backers of the police state are found among the rabid anti-immigrant groups who support arbitrary round-ups, mass deportations, and the expansion of police powers at the expense of constitutional guarantees.
The third possible motive for acquiescence in the police state is ignorance: those millions of US citizens who are not aware of the size, scope, and activities of the police state. Their practical behavior speaks to the notion that ‘since I am not directly affected it must not exist’. Embedded in everyday life, making a living, enjoying leisure time, entertainment, sports, family, neighborhoods and concerned only about household budgets … This mass is so embedded in their personal ‘micro-world’ that it considers the macro-economic and political issues raised by the police state as ‘distant’, outside of their experience or interest: ‘I don’t have time’, ‘I don’t know enough’, ‘It’s all ‘politics’ … The widespread apoliticism of the US public plays into its ignoring the monster that has grown in its midst.
Paradoxically as some peoples’ concerns and passive discontent over the economy has grown, it has lessened support for the police state as well as having lessened opposition to it. In other words the police state flourishes while public discontent is focused more on the economic institutions of the state and society. Few, if any, contemporary political leaders educate their constituency by connecting the rise of the police state, imperial wars and Wall Street to the everyday economic issues concerning most US citizens. The fragmentation of issues, the separation of the economic from the political and the divorce of political concerns from individual ones, allow the police state to stand ‘above and outside’ of the popular consciousness , concerns and activities.
State-sponsored fear mongering on behalf of the police state is amplified and popularized by the mass media on a daily basis via propagandistic-‘news’, ‘anti-terrorist’ detective programs, Hollywood’s decades of crass anti-Arab, Islamophobic films. The mass media portrayal of the police state’s naked violations of democratic rights as normal and necessary in a milieu infiltrated by ‘Muslim terrorists’, where feckless ‘liberals’(defenders of due process and the Bill of Rights) threaten national security, has been effective.
Ideologically, the police state depends on identifying the expansion of police powers with ‘national security’ of the passive ‘silent’ majority, even as it creates profound insecurity for an active, critical minority. The self-serving identification of the ‘nation’ and the ‘flag’ with the police state apparatus is especially prominent during ‘mass spectacles’ where ‘rock’, schlock and ‘sports’ infuse mass entertainment with solemn Pledges of Allegiance to uphold and respect the police state and busty be-wigged young women wail nasally versions of the national anthem to thunderous applause. Wounded ‘warriors’ are trotted out and soldiers rigid in their dress uniforms salute enormous flags, while the message transmitted is that police state at home works hand in hand with our ‘men and women in uniform’ abroad. The police state is presented as a patriotic extension of the wars abroad and as such both impose ‘necessary’ constraints on citizen opposition, public criticism, and any real forthright defense of freedom.

Conclusion: What is to be done?
 The ascendancy of the police state has benefited enormously from the phony bi-partisan de-politicization of repressive legislation, and the fragmentation of socio-economic struggles from democratic dissent. The mass anti-war movements of the early 1990’s and 2001-2003 were undermined (sold-out) by the defection of its leaders to the Democratic Party machine and its electoral agenda. The massive popular immigration movement was taken over by Mexican-American political opportunists from the Democratic Party and decimated while the same Democratic Party, under President Barack Obama, has escalated police state repression against immigrants, expelling millions of Latino immigrant workers and their families.
Historical experience teaches us that a successful struggle against an emerging police state depends on the linking of the socio-economic struggles that engage the attention of the masses of citizens with the pro-democracy, pro-civil liberty, ‘free speech’ movements of the middle classes. The deepening economic crisis, the savage cuts in living standards and working conditions and the fight to save ‘sacred’ social programs (like Social Security and Medicare) have to be tied in with the expansion of the police state. A mass social justice movement, which brings together thousands of anti-Wall Streeters, millions of pro-Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid recipients with hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers will inevitably clash with the bloated police-state apparatus. Freedom is essential to the struggle for social justice and the mass struggle for social justice is the only basis for rolling back the police state. The hope is that mass economic pain will ignite mass activity, which, in turn, will make people aware of the dangerous growth of the police state. A mass understanding of this link will be essential to any advance in the movement for democracy and people’s welfare at home and peace abroad.