Over the weekend, we highlighted a video of a night court judge in Tennessee refusing to jail Occupy Nashville demonstrators after they'd been arrested, bussed downtown by state troopers, and detained for several hours in the wake of a seemingly arbitrary enforcement of a curfew in a public space where protesters had been camping out. As seen in that video, Judge Tom Nelson ordered the protesters released, telling the arresting officer, "You have no lawful basis to arrest or charge these people."
A similar scene played out after arrests on two nights in a row, where the judge refused to jail the protesters.
And now, late today, comes yet another, even larger victory for Occupy Nashville demonstrators, along with a stinging rebuke for the state's Republican Governor Bill Haslam. The turn of events is certainly great news for admirers of the U.S. Constitution and the Rule of Law and stuff, as the state has "declined to defend the governor's crackdown on protesters" in the wake of a lawsuit filed by demonstrators and the ACLU.
Additionally, the state will not challenge a federal judge's order banning further arrests of the demonstrators for the time being as the parties attempt to negotiate together. The state has even agreed to return confiscated tents, sleeping bags and other property taken from the protesters on the first night of arrests at Nashville's Legislative Plaza...
No wonder MSNBC buried Chris Hayes' new show in in the absurdly early hours of the weekend TV ghetto. He should be hosting, at a minimum, NBC's Meet the Press.
Had he been doing so for the last several years --- rather than the clueless elitists who have been, along with their weekly parade of meaningless softballs served up to similarly clueless elitist guests and panelists --- we likely wouldn't be in this mess.
Yesterday's compelling round-table discussion on UP with Chris Hayes, about so much that is actually at the heart of this nation's problems, follows below. I hope you will watch it...
[UPDATE: Thanks, guys! We've now sold out the few copies we had in this premium, but we hope to have another one soon! The support, as always, is greatly appreciated! - Brad]
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Our friend Greg Palast, investigative journalist, BBC documentary reporter and author of the best-selling books Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse has a new book out in November, and he's been kind enough to give us a limited number of advanced, signed hardcover copies as premiums in support of The BRAD BLOG.
We don't have a lot of copies, so it's first come first serve!
You can also contribute via snail mail to: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028 --- though I can't guarantee we'll have enough books by the time your contribution gets here. If it doesn't, we've got another premium book offer we'll be making available to readers later this month, and you'll be the first in line to have one of those instead! (You'll just have to wait to find out what it is, but hopefully you'll not be disappointed because, ya know, you're supporting the work we do here either way! And, believe me, it's very much needed!)
We hate fund raising, are not very good at it, and don't do it nearly often enough. So if you can help, please do! We've had a very busy summer and, so far, autumn, and really need all of the help you can offer as we continue to independently cover --- with neither corporate nor institutional help --- those things which we believe actually matter to all of us. This is especially true as we barrel toward another Presidential Election year!
Your support is largely the only thing that allows us to continue doing this work. So thank you very much in advance for whatever help you can offer! And you'll even get a helluva book out if it in the bargain if you act fast! --- Brad
P.S. If you happen to be in the L.A. area, I'll be emceeing Palast's appearance at a KPFK/Pacifica fund raiser on Nov. 16th. If you can make it buy, please do and be sure to say hey! More details here...
An October 9 Time Magazine poll revealed that 89% of Americans agree that Wall Street exerts too much influence on our political system; 79% feel the gap between rich and poor is too large; 71% feel the executives from the major financial institutions responsible for the 2008 economic meltdown should be prosecuted; and that only 6% of Americans identify themselves as "Tea Party" followers.
Previous MSM efforts to either ignore what amounts to a genuine democratic uprising or to disparage Occupy Wall Street by falsely claiming the movement has no goal have obviously fallen flat. Against that backdrop, the corporate-owned Los Angeles Times launched a desperate effort to deceptively depict the movement as a transient phenomenon which has had its say and should now fade away.
Despite such efforts, neither the dire underlying conditions which have been brought on by history's greatest wealth disparity and the tyranny of the corporate security state, nor the people's desire to realize America's still-unfilled egalitarian democracy is likely to dissipate any time soon. As the Mavis Staples song says, "We shall not be moved!"...
Al Jazeera English's Bob Abeshouse and Yasmeen Qureishi have put together an investigative report on the out-sized influence of the Koch Brothers on American democracy. The documentary premiered on AJE this week, and both starts and ends with the "Secret Koch Tapes" we exclusively published last month in a series of articles at Mother Jones and here at The BRAD BLOG.
There are a number of noteworthy points in this investigative look at the Kochs, co-owners of Koch Industries, the nation's second largest private corporation (the giant oil conglomerate inherited from their father), and how they are spending just some of the extraordinary $18 billion increase in personal wealth they've enjoyed over just the last three years under the tyranny of the Obama administration.
But among the interesting points revealed here, is the fact that this detailed exposé, a behind-the-scenes examination of two of the most powerful puppeteers behind American democracy, comes not from the far larger and better funded corporate news networks here in the U.S., but from from Al Jazeera. Go figure...
But what we didn't realize at the time --- not apparent from the photo, but seen in the following, remarkable video --- he was also standing stone still as tear gas canisters were exploding all around him...
I can't help but look at the faces of the police in gas masks, presumably from the Oakland PD (though there were some 17 other agencies there that night) in that haunting video, as they look at the sailor, and wonder what they must be thinking to themselves as that hero stands facing them. We have previously written about the extraordinary violations of the First Amendment that have occurred across the country during these otherwise peaceful demonstrations. What thoughts are going through the minds of those men --- all of whom are undoubtedly also a part of the same "99%" for whom Occupy protesters are fighting --- during that moment?
[UPDATE: The sailor has now been identified as Joshua Shepherd. See his interview on DemocracyNow! here.]
And, as another photograph now reveals, look who happens to be standing right next to the sailor seen above, in the moments just prior to the Oakland PD's tear gas assault...
Despite failing to object for months prior, the nation's largest electronic voting system vendor, ES&S, is now attempting to stop a landmark independent examination of their e-voting systems in a Pennsylvania county dead in its tracks.
An October letter from the company, obtained by The BRAD BLOG, charges that Venango County, PA, is in violation of their contract agreements with the Omaha-based e-voting Goliath, even as two volunteer Carnegie Mellon computer scientists are in the midst of a forensic audit of the county's May 17 primary election. The county's investigation comes on the heels of apparent failures of the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting system during their recent primary and several other recent elections in Venango.
The 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic system has failed in a number of elections nationwide, but is still widely used across the country and slated for use once again in more than a dozen states in next year's Presidential election.
The Venango study, which we first reported on in early October as it began, came about after worries arose during a 2008 election when the ES&S system reported that some county candidates "had zero votes," as the county's Republican Board of Elections chair, Craig Adams, recently told us while we were guest hosting the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show.
Confidence in the system flagged once again, more recently, according to VotePA.us founder Marybeth Kuznik, after "numerous reports of vote-flipping, candidates missing from screens, write-ins missing, and high undervote rates" in the Republican-leaning county's May 17 primary.
The county Board of Elections, currently comprising two Republicans and one Democrat, begs to differ with the ES&S claim that the county is in violation of its contractual agreements. The claim is "disingenuous at best," according to a legal memorandum obtained by The BRAD BLOG, from the Board's counsel. We've also obtained and reviewed ES&S' letters to the county and the county's agreement with the two independent computer analysts. The documents appear to back up the Venango attorney's assessment...
But the fact is, the wholesale takeover of the American government by corporate "persons" --- and the (at least) 30 years of corruption and crapping on the middle class that has come with it --- has some 99% of us with a long, 30 year-list of complaints. They don't easily fit on one single bumper sticker. Ultimately, though, there seems just one thing that underscores all of those complaints: the end of any real accountability for every one of those corrupting influences and often criminal acts.
It has become almost unimaginable that flagrant lawlessness by the elite --- be they in government or corporatist America --- will ever be met with any sort of real accountability, any kind of accountability that might actually dissuade others from the same behavior in a way that might serve to reverse the ever increasing race to lower the bar below ground. That, I suspect, is the frustration at the heart of every Occupation and ever Occupier or those who support them in the country.
Two back-to-back interviews on Tuesday night's Rachel Maddow Show seemed to make these points as plain as could be, and one even offered some hope in the bargain. The first was with NY state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who actually suggests he gets it, and is actually pursuing real accountability, with real investigations into criminality by the banks and the banksters before, during and after the explosion of the mortgage crisis. We'll see if he means it (or if he gets "caught" with a hooker first.) The second interview was with Constitutional attorney, Salon blogger and author of the new book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, Glenn Greenwald.
Key points on accountability from both interviews are excerpted below, and the full videos of each are embed below that. Both are worth reading and/or watching in full if you haven't. It's about the accountability, stupid...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: It's no trick! BP gets a treat, as the Obama Admin approves their application for deep-water drilling in the Gulf; More record flooding overwhelms Bangkok; World population to hit 7 billion by Halloween; PLUS: The War on Halloween vs. Greening up yours! ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Climate change making U.S. water problems worse; Asia, Africa 'megacities' most at risk from climate change; China aims to dominate U.S. in smart grid investments just as it has with renewables; Fukushima: Fallout forensics hike radiation toll; U.S. to study cancer risks near nuclear sites... PLUS: much, MUCH more! ...
The words, "hypocrisy has its own elegant symmetry," appear in this short, but powerful documentary posted on October 10, long prior to last night's shocking scenes from Occupy Oakland.
The video contrasts the positions of our political elites in response to democratic uprisings in other countries against our government's response to the genuine democratic uprising we are now beginning to finally see in the U.S.A...
Once again, late last night, as is becoming a too-regular nightly ritual, after the 11p news was over, police moved in again to violate the Constitutional First Amendment right "of the people peaceably to assemble." And, for the second night in a row, late last night in Oakland, CA, it resembled a war zone as police in riot gear unleashed a punishing onslaught of "non-lethal" flash-bang grenades, rubber (and or bean-bag) bullets and tear gas --- hour after hour, round after round --- injuring demonstrators, including women, the disabled, and even Iraq War veterans...
The results were horrific, according to video, photos, and eye-witness reports as it all happened and was reported on Twitter, including this scene appearing to show a member of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War knocked out by either a concussive grenade or a tear gas canister or another projectile, and being carried away...
[Update]: The veteran seen above was shot in the head and the UK Guardian is now confirming his name is Scott Olsen and that he is in "critical condition" with a "skull fracture and swelling of the brain" at Highland hospital.
"It's terrible to go over to Iraq twice and come back injured, and then get injured by the police that are supposed to be protecting us," his roommate, Keith Shannon, also 24, who served alongside Olsen as a Marine in Iraq, told the Guardian in a late follow-up today.
Other scenes were similarly gruesome and, yes, shameful...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The most anti-environment House of Representatives in U.S. history; PLUS: GNR Special Edition: We thank the Koch Brothers --- yes, the billionaire, dirty oil Koch Brothers --- for proving global warming! No, really!!! ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): NE lawmakers could challenge Keystone XL Pipeline route; Greenland ice cheet “could undergo self-amplifying cycle of melting, warming"; Fisker: debunking another GOP fake scandal; MD Court Strikes Down Landlord Protection in Lead Paint Law; Former Keystone Pipeline Lobbyist Hired by Obama; Personal Eco-Concierges Ease Transition to Green; 5-20 million tons of debris from Japan's tsunami moving toward Hawaii; CA's Coachella Workers Live in Grim Conditions; Nigerians seek $1 billion from Shell over oil spills; Appeals court upholds roadless rule protecting vast forest wilderness; California Becomes First State To Adopt Cap-And-Trade Program; Countries catch way more bluefin tuna than they are supposed to; Girls exposed in womb to BPA have risk of behavior problems; Austim diagnoses growing by 10-17% annually; Global ban on exports of toxic waste advances; 40k Dallas-Ft.Worth children under 6 have lead in blood; Meet the Tar Sands PR wizard; Alaska Borough Voters Reject Controversial Pebble Mine ...PLUS: Genetic engineering fails to increase crop yields, but succeeds at increasing 'superweeds' and human pesticide exposure ...
Occupy Albany protesters in New York’s capital city received an unexpected ally over the week: The state and local authorities.
According to the Albany Times Union, New York state troopers and Albany police did not adhere to a curfew crackdown on protesters urged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Albany mayor Gerald Jennings.
Mass arrests seemed to be in the cards once Jennings directed officers to enforce the curfew on roughly 700 protesters occupying the city owned park.
With protesters acting peacefully, local and state police agreed that low level arrests could cause a riot, so they decided instead to defy Cuomo and Jennings.
What part of the Constitutional First Amendment "right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances," do so many of the other cops across the nation not yet understand?
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By the way, with Cuomo's attempted crackdown and Obama's former Chief of Staff, now Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel's approval of the arrests of 175 peaceful Occupiers in Chicago over the weekend, can we stop with the "Occupiers are just fronts for Democrats!" bullshit yet?
As registered nurses --- a number of whom were held in jail for some 23 hours after being arrested Saturday night, early Sunday morning while offering medical services to demonstrators in Grant Park --- protested the arrests outside Emanuel's office this morning, he was quoted by the Chicago Trib as saying: "I have to enforce the law as well as respect peoples’ 1st Amendment rights."
And when those two things come in to conflict, which one do you suppose Emanuel decided took precedence over the other?
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Also...not from Albany, though somewhat related to the above. From from New York City, via ThinkProgress, a couple of weeks ago...
Apparently, disgraced former HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr just can't help himself.
The guy who lost his job and was publicly humiliated after promising to reveal the identities of the supposed leadership of hacktivist group Anonymous and getting caught devising a plan to illegally discredit, defraud and spy on perceived opponents of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America is now palling around with a self-appointed NYPD/FBI "snitch" at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations and beyond, according to --- ironically enough --- emails accidentally released on the Internet by the "snitch" himself, Thomas Ryan.
These two are the government corporate welfare queens and "cyber security" clowns that can't shoot straight, it seems. But at least they have each other --- and your tax-payer dollars --- as they both work for highly remunerated, government contracted security firms. And while they each claim to represent different sides of the partisan aisle, strangely enough, as an investigation by The BRAD BLOG reveals, they've found common ground in representing government and corporations in their fight against We, the People.
Barr had been CEO of the U.S. government contracted firm HBGary Federal until earlier this year, after the firm was embarrassed when their hard drives were scrubbed, their websites hacked, Barr's Twitter account defaced, his iPad remotely wiped and some 70,000 of the "cyber security" company's emails were stolen and posted on the Internet by Anonymous in retaliation against Barr who, the hacktivist group claimed, was poised to release inaccurate information about the group's supposed "leadership".
Found among the treasure trove of Barr's HBGary emails was a $12 million plot being hatched on behalf of the criminal thugs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest and most powerful Rightwing lobbying outfit. The scheme was being secretly devised, according to the emails, by the Chamber's high-powered D.C. law firm Hunton & Williams along with HBGary and two other U.S. cyber security contractors, Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies. Their plans were to smear, defraud, plant fake documents and spy --- even hack --- perceived political opponents of the Chamber.
The plot was accidentally discovered via Anonymous' hack of HBGary just days before it was to be put into action. The scheme was to take tools developed by the three companies with public money for use in the "War on Terror" and turn them against U.S. Citizens like myself and my family who were discovered to have been named as targets in the emails, along with photos and personal details about us. A number of progressive advocates and organizations, including other journalistic outlets, were also to have been targets of the Chamber's plot.
Also discovered among the emails was a parallel scheme being coordinated by the same D.C. law firm and the same three U.S. government-funded cyber security firms --- who had banded together to call themselves "Team Themis" --- to target perceived proponents of WikiLeaks, including Salon journalist Glenn Greenwald, on behalf of the corporate giant Bank of America. In both plots, HBGary's Aaron Barr was seen as the lead developer of the various extra-legal schemes.
Barr, who has claimed on a number of occasions to be a Democrat, became a public laughing stock and was forced to resign in shame last February on the heels of the revelations. But his proclivity for scheming against law-abiding U.S. citizens and his vendetta against members of Anonymous has yet to be assuaged, as evidenced by both his recent bizarre, blue-haired appearance at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in Manhattan, and his various collaborative appearances in recently released emails and several Twitter exchanges with the Rightwing Ryan...