Monday, March 19, 2012

Police State Blues: 'Our Rights Do Not End Where the Caprice of Authoritarian Bullies Begins'

By Phil Rockstroh

At mid-evening, on Saturday, March 17, upon the six-month anniversary of the occupation of Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, the NYPD—because the department suffered no ill consequences from their search and destroy mission launched, in the late fall of 2011, to scour Liberty Square of liberty—initiated another brutal operation to expel OWS activists from the premises, and to discourage, in general, those who might venture attempts to exercise their right to free assembly and free expression across the whole of the city of New York as winter proceeds into spring.

In a police state, unjust actions by authoritarian bullies, operating at the behest of privileged bullies in power, act by caprice and will escalate their level of brutality by the degree that the public at large reacts with support and indifference to the state’s assaults on civil liberties and common decency.

Bear in mind, police agencies, devoid of oversight, comprise a legal form of gang activity; therefore, when one is witness to their acts of brutality, and, as outraged protesters are apt to do, shower their ranks with taunts of “shame, shame, shame”—rather than experiencing feelings of remorse, brutish individual officers regard the scolding as a badge of honor.

Why? Because they view OWS as a rival gang—not a force of democratic passion and outrage.

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| Posted on 03/19.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Former Small-Town Mayor Slams 'Aggressive' Tactics of Big Shale Gas Producer

By Press Action

Among U.S. shale gas producers, Range Resources Corp. has been the most aggressive in going after residents and activists who complain about the industry’s actions, according to Calvin Tillman, the former mayor of DISH, Texas, and an outspoken critic of the natural gas industry.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. and other leading U.S. gas producers often rely on industry organizations, such as Energy In Depth, to keep tabs on activists. So far, these companies have avoided using the legal system to try to silence their critics, Tillman said. Range Resources, on the other hand, has filed lawsuits and requested subpoenas against its critics. “No one has been as out-front and aggressive as Range,” he told Press Action.

A couple years ago, while still mayor of DISH, Tillman was served with subpoenas from Range Resources. At the time, Tillman opted to stay quiet about the company’s tactics. But when Range Resources recently went after Sharon Wilson, a popular blogger who writes about natural gas issues and works as an organizer for Earthworks’ Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project, Tillman decided enough is enough. He is now actively challenging Range Resources’ actions against its critics and doing what he can to support Wilson.

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| Posted on 03/18.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Occupy St. Patrick's Day/M17 (#OWS @ 6 Months)

By Mickey Z.

"Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought ... Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction. Be heroes in an army of construction." -Helen Keller

My mother’s side of the family is Irish and I attended St. Patrick’s grammar school from grades 1-through-8. In other words, Mar. 17 has never been just another day on the calendar for me.

This year, however, Mar. 17 takes on a whole new meaning: the six-month anniversary of .

With that mind, I’d like to share a St. Pat’s-related tale that lives up to the OWS vibe…

#ReOccupy St.Patrick’s Day
During the buildup to the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), scores of immigrant Irishmen joined the army for the $7 a month. “The U.S. anti-immigrant press of the time caricatured the Irish with simian features, portraying then as unintelligent and drunk and charging that they were seditiously loyal to the pope,” Anne-Marie O’Connor wrote in the Los Angeles Times. “But cheap Irish labor was welcome. Irish maids became as familiar as Latin American nannies are today.”

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| Posted on 03/16.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Pentagon Goes on Solar Energy Expedition in Afghanistan

By Press Action

For more than a decade, Afghanistan has served as a testing ground for a wide array of U.S. military initiatives, some more lethal than others. The Department of Defense has tested many flashy new weapons such as long-range sniper rifles with suppressors and microwave-based active denial systems. Afghanistan also has been the proving ground for such battlefield tools as throwable robots and cargo carrying drones.

The testing of the latest model of weapons certainly generates a high level of shock and awe. But perhaps equally as important as weapons testing has been the military’s ability to conduct research on new energy technologies—more specifically, renewable energy systems. In fact, according to a new report released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, among all government agencies, DOD boasted the largest number of initiatives in 2010 that supported one particular type of renewable energy—solar. The military accounted for more than 20% of the solar initiatives in the entire government.

“DOD’s initiatives supported solar energy in various ways and included a number of efforts to incorporate renewable energy at its installations, as well as to develop technologies that allow it to use solar energy in operational environments, such as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, to help reduce its reliance on conventional fuel,” the GAO said in the report, “Renewable Energy: Federal Agencies Implement Hundreds of Initiatives.”

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| Posted on 03/15.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Reclaiming the Commons: Taking Human Lessons in the Era of H.R. 347, Corporatism and Perpetual War

By Phil Rockstroh

With increasing velocity, since the advent of the post-Second World War national security state, then gaining speed with the incessant search and destroy mission waged on the U.S. Constitution known as the War on Drugs, and kicking into a runaway trajectory in the post Sept. 11, 2001 era, the increase in totalitarian impulses, among both the general population and corporate and governmental elite of the nation, has proceeded at an alarming rate. Yet, baffling as the fact remains to those possessing a modicum of political awareness, large numbers of U.S. citizens persist in believing they dwell in a representative republic, governed by the principles of individual rights and civil liberties.

While Republicans desire to set clocks back to the Bronze Age, Democrats now run on Republican Standard Time, as collectively, the nation’s citizenry continues to roll over and hit the snooze button.

On an individual basis, if a sizable number of the nation’s citizenry’s concept of freedom of expression translates into little more than the act of casting a vote by iPhone involving a choice between a gaggle of cloying, longing-to-be-commodified crooners on American Idol, it follows that the egregious assault on civil liberties posed by H.R. 347 (the so-call Anti Occupy Wall Street Bill that has now made many acts of free speech and freedom of assembly a federal crime) will mean little within such a dim cosmology of diminished perception and even more dismal musical sensibility.

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| Posted on 03/14.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Never Trust a Cop: #OccupyYerRights

By Mickey Z.

13 Magic Words: “I am going to remain silent. I would like to see a lawyer.”

It was at an on March 10 that I was handed a copy of The Dissident’s Survival Guide: A field manual to encounters with law enforcement, corporate security, and other hazards, and ended up in a long and important conversation with someone from the Anti-Repression Committee of OWS Activist Legal Working Group.

I knew immediately that I had to write an article that—at the very least—scratched the surface of the ubiquitous threat of police tyranny and trickery. We must learn from the past (e.g. ) and stand united and disciplined as law enforcement types ramp up their aggressive, oppressive, and repressive techniques.

We must learn how to answer this question: What do you do when the gang wears blue?

The pamphlet I mentioned above offers valuable—crucial—information on a wide range of legal issues and serves as a persuasive reminder of what we are up against. Never forget, law enforcement agents are trained to deceive you. They are schooled in tactics like good cop/bad cop, telling you your comrades sold you out, threatening you, “be-friending” you, and tricking you into not remaining silent.

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| Posted on 03/13.

Monday, March 12, 2012

U.S. Nuclear Industry Operates as if Fukushima Never Happened

By Press Action

"They shouldn’t build things they can’t control,” -Japanese farmer Muneo Kano, whose farm 28 miles from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant has been deemed too contaminated for farming

Both Democrats and Republicans have had a long love affair with commercial nuclear power, and the relationship is showing no signs of losing steam. Since the 1950s, members of both parties have enthusiastically lavished electric utility companies with expensive gifts, ranging from subsidies to protection from liability for disasters to loan guarantees, all underwritten by U.S. taxpayers.

The political calculus is simple: nuclear power enjoys unanimous support in Washington. Try to name one member of the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives who favors shutting down the nation’s 104 commercial nuclear reactors. Federal agencies, from the Atomic Energy Commission to the Department of Energy to the Nuclear Regulatory, have worked diligently through the years to promote nuclear power. At the state level, support for nuclear power also is extremely strong, although there are some politicians—albeit a tiny number—who have publicly called for the closure of certain nuclear plants.

On the one-year anniversary of the start of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan, one would assume a voice in official Washington would have emerged calling for an end to the nation’s experiment with nuclear power. In Germany, government officials made the decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022 in response to Fukushima. There’s no such sentiment among the ruling elite in the United States. Locating a member of Congress opposed to the continued operation of nuclear power plants is as hard as finding a lawmaker who favors breaking ties with Israel over its mistreatment of Palestinians for the last 60 years. In fact, it’s more than hard, it’s impossible.

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| Posted on 03/12.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Environmental Defense Fund Stays Loyal to Natural Gas Industry

By Press Action

Soon after taking over as leader of the Sierra Club, Michael Brune recognized the environmental organization was facing a credibility crisis. Former Executive Director Carl Pope had developed cozy relationships with Corporate America, including Chesapeake Energy Corp., a major U.S. natural gas producer.

“While Pope partnered with gas companies, a grassroots revolt against fracking began from the Marcellus Shale in the Northeastern United States to the Barnett Shale in Texas to the mountain states,” Red Emma wrote in a February article titled “Big Greenwashing 101 (Or How Sierra Club Learned To Stop Worrying About The 99% And Love Wall Street)” “Organizers are fighting it in the permitting hearings and legislatures, municipalities are banning it from their city limits and civil disobedience at corporate offices and drilling sites are growing in frequency.”

The Sierra Club, under Pope’s leadership, believed embracing natural gas as a fuel for power generation was a winning formula. The organization would look good in the eyes of its members who would applaud its anti-coal campaigns. And Corporate America, including oil and gas companies, would view the Sierra Club as a reasonable partner based on the group’s decision to accept natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to a point in the future when renewable energy resources could meet a much larger portion of the nation’s electricity demand.

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| Posted on 03/11.

Friday, March 09, 2012

United State of Emergency: Outlawing Dissent

By Zakk Flash

During the 1967 Six Day War, a series of strict emergency laws were enacted across the Arab World, most notably in Egypt and Syria. Police powers became absolute while constitutional rights were suspended; any non-governmental political activity such as street demonstrations, rallies, protests, and organization of dissident political groups was quickly crushed by the iron fist of dictators. The laws were called temporary defensive measures, emergency acts that would be lifted once the nation was safe again.

The laws were simply left in place. The rulers of Egypt and Syria, content with their power, decided to concede nothing to their citizens. Tens of thousands of people found themselves imprisoned for extended periods of time, simply for demanding the principles of democracy already encoded in their constitutions or being critical of the government. The emergency laws provided these autocratic regimes with the authority to force their will onto to their people without opposition.

Under a president deemed worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize, the will of the authoritarian tyrant caste is being written permanently into American law.

H.R. 347/S1794, otherwise known as the “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011,” passed unanimously in the House and receiving only three negative votes in the Senate, makes it a felony—a crime defined by the federal government as punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year—to “enter or remain in” an area designated as “restricted.” The law makes no exception for demonstrators who unknowingly gather outside of federally-designated free-speech zones; you may not have willfully or knowingly done anything other than exercise your free speech and free assembly rights, but if you “in fact” “[impede] or [disrupt] the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions,” you’re going to prison. And since Obama’s ink dried on the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 and America was declared a battleground, you could be held indefinitely.

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| Posted on 03/09.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Heritage Foundation Touts Nukes as Vital to American Way of Life

By Press Action

The one-year anniversary of the start of the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan has spurred the U.S. nuclear power industry to engage in an all-out media blitz to promote the technology as a safe and reliable source of energy. Anti-nuclear activists also are using Fukushima’s one-year anniversary, on March 11, to urge policymakers and the public to re-think their embrace of nuclear power.

In one of the industry’s pro-nuclear efforts, the right-wing Heritage Foundation has released a new documentary, “,” that touts nuclear power as a viable energy source for the 21st century.

In a slick trailer for the documentary film, one of the people interviewed says the public should not fear nuclear power. “Radiation simply is energy in motion. That’s from cosmic rays. That’s from radon that comes out of the ground. That’s from the food you eat,” he says. “The issue is not to be afraid of radiation. The issue is to understand it and to respect it just like any other energy source.”

The talking head correctly notes that almost all rocks in the ground contain natural radioactive compounds. These compounds emit alpha and beta radiation. But the talking head fails to note that most of this radiation gets absorbed by the rocks themselves and never makes it into the air.

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| Posted on 03/08.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Shale Gas Watchdog: Sharon Wilson Fills Void Left by Industry Lapdogs

By Press Action

“When oil and gas producers confined themselves to fracking in the wide-open spaces of Texas and Oklahoma, nobody much gave a damn.” -Jeff Goodell, “The Big Fracking Bubble: The Scam Behind the Gas Boom

Not everyone in Texas kowtows to the natural gas industry. Texas may have the reputation of being a state where the industry always gets what it wants, especially at the legislative and regulatory levels. But at the grassroots, where activist Sharon Wilson is fighting to raise awareness about the dangers of natural gas drilling, more and more Texans are getting to know the ugly truth about the industry.

Wilson, organizer for Earthworks’ Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project, believes the best opportunities for making a difference are found at the local level. She gives talks to community groups, big and small, in gas producing regions up and down the state.

Getting local groups to speak in one voice against gas drilling is sometimes easier said than done. Recently, in Fort Worth, a group was fighting to keep salt water injection disposal wells out of the city limits. “That is kind of just kicking the can out into another community that is less fortunate,” Wilson said in a recent conversation with Press Action. “What works best most of the time is to have small community groups that band together.”

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| Posted on 03/06.

Monday, March 05, 2012

No Moore, No Moore: #DeOccupyThePhonyLeft

By Mickey Z.

"A liberal is the guy who leaves the room when a fight starts.” -Big Bill Haywood

“An occupant is the person who starts the fight.” -

Mar. 3, 2012—This just in: At the 2012 “Left” Forum, attendees will have the opportunity to experience pearls of wit and wisdom rained down upon them during a special address from none other than—wait for itMichael Moore.

When I learned of this seemingly inevitable decision, I just had to reach back into some previous writing of mine to help make certain that authentic radicals fully understand why Moore is less. 

Mic Check: Michael Moore is not a leftist… but he does play one on TV.

Michael Moore makes movies, writes books, produces TV shows, and has built-in pacifist radar (hey, he endorsed “anti-war” candidate Wes Clark in 2004, didn’t he?). But that’s not the extent of his varied skills.

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| Posted on 03/05.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Chomsky: Occupy Movement vs. Atomized, Disintegrated Society

By Press Action

The Occupy Wall Street movement represents the first major public response to more than 30 years of class war—orchestrated by the ruling elite—that has led to social, economic and political arrangements in which the democratic system has been shredded, according to MIT professor Noam Chomsky.

“Concentration of wealth leads almost reflexively to concentration of political power, which in turn translates into legislation naturally in the interests of those implementing it. That accelerates what has been a vicious cycle, leading to … bitterness, anger, frustration—a very atomized society,” Chomsky said in . “That’s why the linkages being created in the Occupy movement are so important. This is really the first sustained response to this.”

One of the striking features of the Occupy Wall Street movement has been the creation of cooperative communities, “something very much lacking in an atomized, disintegrated society,” Chomsky told Radzivilovskiy. “That includes general assemblies, which carry out extensive discussion, kitchens, libraries, support systems and so on. All of that is a work in progress leading to community structures, which if they can spread out into the broader community and retain their vitality could be very important,” he said.

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| Posted on 03/04.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Opposing LNG Exports for All the Wrong Reasons

By Press Action

"Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” -Edward Abbey

image Nowhere in a new report on liquefied natural gas exports, released March 1 by U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., do the authors mention how exporting domestically produced natural gas will lead to even greater levels of forest clear-cuts, ecosystem damage and industrialization of rural America.

Instead, in the report, Markey’s staff focuses only on how exporting domestically produced natural gas, in the form of LNG, could raise domestic natural gas prices by 24 to 54%, “which would substantially increase energy bills for American consumers and could potentially have catastrophic impacts on U.S. manufacturing.”

“Industrial and manufacturing facilities are the largest consumers of natural gas in the United States … and would be especially hard hit,” the report says.

But even harder hit will be the natural world, which has already taken enough sucker punches and abuse from humans.

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| Posted on 03/03.

Friday, March 02, 2012

DeOccupy GMOs: #CreateFoodDemocracy

By Mickey Z.

"We must occupy the food system to create food democracy.” -Vandana Shiva

Mic Check: The health risks of genetically modified foods are well documented for anyone willing to learn and #occupy the awful truth.

In a corporate-dominated society, of course, profit typically trumps truth… until now. Thanks to the ever-growing Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, the realities about genetically engineered foodstuffs—and the humans responsible for them—are becoming more widely known and challenged.

“Occupy Wall Street is about more than, well, occupying Wall Street,” writes Beth Buczynski. “Banks and politicians aren’t the only ones responsible for declining health, freedom, and equality in this country. Today, the Occupy movement has challenged us to go deeper, to acknowledge a corrupt system that can do more to destroy our way of life than any other arm of the 1%: the agricultural business.”

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| Posted on 03/02.

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