Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chile: Student Protests Spread Throughout Region, JEREMY SCAHILL at Cal-Tech, TONIGHT!

From: Karen Pomer []
Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 8:24 AM
Why nothing about Jeremy tonight?

The Caltech Y Social Activism Speaker Series present:


Independent Journalist and International Best-Selling Author Speaking on US Foreign Policy, The Military-Industrial Complex, and National Security

WHEN: Wednesday, November 30th, 7:30 PM

WHERE: Caltech Ramo Auditorium,
332 S. Michigan Ave., Pasadena, CA, 91125
Venue Website Ramo Auditorium is located in the south side of the BAXTER building. See Venue website for a Caltech Campus map.

no tickets required

** Reception with the speaker after the event **

MORE: Jeremy Scahill is recently back from Afghanistan and Somalia, which Scahill says, "are two of the frontlines in the global US targeted killing campaign." He represents the exceedingly rare US journalist who independently conducts investigations abroad without being embedded with the US military or foreign governments. He spent two weeks in Afghanistan in October of 2010 in order to report the facts about the ongoing US war in that region. He also spent ten days in Somalia at the beginning of July of this year uncovering a secret CIA site built in Mogadishu. Jeremy Scahill returns from his trips with important and fascinating stories derived from first-hand observations, interviews, and videos about the status of the war in Afghanistan, about the role of the US in secret prisons, renditions, and torture in Somalia, and about the blowback that will come from such detrimental actions in both regions of the world.

Jeremy Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, named by AlterNet as the best progressive book of the year. He is a frequent contributor to The Nation magazine, where he dispatches on wars, the military-industrial complex and national security, and is a correspondent for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now! He is currently a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute. Scahill has won numerous awards for his reporting, including the prestigious George Polk Award, which he won twice.

While a correspondent for Democracy Now!, Scahill reported extensively from Iraq through both the Clinton and Bush administrations. Traveling around the hurricane zone in the wake of Katrina, Jeremy Scahill exposed the presence of Blackwater forces in New Orleans and his reporting sparked a Congressional inquiry and an internal Department of Homeland Security investigation. He has appeared on ABC World News, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, CNN, MSNBC, The Daily Show, PBS's The News Hour, Bill Moyers Journal and is a frequent guest on other radio and TV programs nationwide. Scahill also served as an election correspondent for HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher.

For more information please visit

Sponsored by the Moore-Hufstedler Fund, GSC, and the Caltech Y
Jeremy-Scahill.jpg Jeremy-Scahill.jpg
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 * * *  
Student Protests Spread Throughout Region
By Pamela Sepúlveda*

SANTIAGO, Nov 25, 2011 (IPS) - In support of Chile's ongoing student protests, and voicing their own demands, thousands of people took to the streets in more than a dozen cities in Latin America Thursday demanding quality public education.

The Latin American March for Education was called by the Chilean students' confederation, and demonstrations were held in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Some 10,000 protesters - according to the organisers - marched through the streets of Santiago once again demanding reforms of the educational system. And again, there was a crackdown by the anti-riot police, who arrested some 60 people.

The demonstrations in other cities in the region were peaceful, with the exception of an incident in Bogotá, Colombia where the police fired tear gas.

"Today is a very special day because we are marching throughout Latin America," Esteban Miranda, president of the University of Chile law students centre, told IPS.

Solidarity Colombia-style

"Today we are mobilising for all of Latin America because we are suffering from governments that do not recognise education as a fundamental right," Gladys Ríos, a social science student at the University of Antioquia in northwest Colombia, told IPS.

Under a steady drizzle, tens of thousands of young people poured onto the streets in the main cities of Colombia in response to the region-wide call to march for quality public education for all.

It was a smaller but no less enthusiastic demonstration than the one held on Nov. 10, when around 200,000 students and teachers protested and managed to press the rightwing government of Juan Manuel Santos to withdraw its controversial bill to privatise education and to engage in a new round of talks with students and teachers.

Although the government's announcement was welcome, it was met with scepticism. "This is just pouring oil on troubled waters," said Ríos.

"Santos, like most of Latin America's political leaders, wants us to study to just become semi-skilled workers, while we are fighting for education that enables us to think critically and speak out about what affects us, to improve things," she said.

Chilean activist Isabel Carcomo took part in the protest in Bogotá. "We are demonstrating in favour of public, secular, non-sexist education," she commented to IPS.

"The participants in the 12th Latin American and Caribbean feminist conference are taking part in this demonstration because we want to contribute to this movement that is demanding equality, justice and access to education," said Carcomo, who was attending the women's meeting Nov. 23 to 26 in the Colombian capital.

"We will continue the struggle because the Piñera government is not willing to give in, and continues to insist that education must be governed by the market," said the Chilean activist. Ríos said "Santos is heading down the same path that Chile took.

"Now he hopes things will calm down, everyone will forget, and then he'll pull out his script again, just like he did with the free trade treaty with the United States," she said.

"We will win this by sticking together and staying alert, without letting our commitment wane," said Ríos, as the demonstrators marched towards Bolívar square, after overcoming scuffles with the police, who tried to disperse them with tear gas. Similar marches were held without incident in the rest of the country.

He said the region-wide mobilisation was a demonstration of the similarity of demands by students in the region, as well as of the support for the movement in Chile.

"They are hanging in there with us, because we still have a long road ahead," the student leader said.

José Barrera, a civil engineering student at the Catholic University, said that what is happening in Chile "is an example of what education is like when it's privatised, when it is no longer defended as a right of everyone."

An education law enacted by the 1973-1990 dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet set off a process of decentralisation and privatisation that gave private schools free rein to pursue profit and use entrance exams to select their students.

The Chilean system is not just divided into paid private education and tuition-free public education, but is split into three: municipal schools run by local governments, which are publicly funded and free, state-subsidised private schools, and private schools that charge tuition.

Within the sphere of state-subsidised private education, students get free tuition at some schools, while at others families pay monthly fees, an arrangement known as "shared financing."

The protest movement is calling for an end to the freedom of private schools receiving state subsidies to levy fees at will. Instead of the current system, under which administrators of these institutions rack up profits, the demonstrators want school fees to be invested in under-funded public schools.

They also want public primary and secondary schools to be directly managed by the Education Ministry, instead of by local governments, because the decentralisation accentuated the inequality in education quality between rich and poor districts.

"Countries that see the Chilean model as an example, and that are moving towards privatisation, have to realise how harmful this kind of system can be for education in general," he argued.

The march in downtown Santiago was supported by organisations of students from secondary schools, technical, vocational and arts institutes, as well as trade unions and teachers.

Luis Garrido, a representative of the Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de la Educación (SUTE) teachers union, said the protest was against the rightwing government of Sebastián Piñera's insistence on continuing to apply the logic of the market to the educational system.

"Capitalism is profits, business, buying and selling, and that is not what educators are about," said Garrido. He added that the movement in which teachers and students have come together is demanding a "social transformation."

The participants in Thursday's march say the student protests have become a broader social movement that will continue to fight for structural changes above and beyond the educational system, such as reforms to the free-market, neoliberal economic system inherited from the dictatorship.

"We want to tell the Chilean government that even though this has dragged on, we can continue, because we are still strong," Alfredo Vielma, spokesman for the Asamblea Coordinadora de Estudiantes Secundarios assembly of secondary school students, told IPS.

"We want to change the system, we want to change this life for a life that is much more fair, and return to free education," he said.

Bogged-down negotiations

After six months of conflict, including more than 40 marches in Santiago and other cities around Chile, there is no sign of an agreement with the Piñera administration. The government says the debate should be left to Congress, which is currently discussing the share of the national budget to be assigned to education next year.

Presidential spokesman Andrés Chadwick said the demonstrations were "absolutely unnecessary."

"If this really is about education, the march is completely gratuitous; it is only causing problems for people," said the minister, who blamed Congress for the failure to reach a solution.

But the students said the conflict is not limited to the debate on the education budget, which is merely discussing whether to offer fewer or more scholarships or student loans, without addressing the need for reforms.

"What they are doing in Congress is whitewashing the system by providing a lot of scholarships. But they aren't responding to our demands," said Miranda. "What we want is direct financing of the institutions; we want free quality public education for all."

The university student leader said the debate on the budget may make some progress, but the problems underlying the conflict cannot be solved by the same politicians who have protected the system for decades.

"We don't agree that this can be resolved in parliament; we want it to be resolved by consulting with the citizens, through a plebiscite or people's assemblies," he said.

"The problem is Chile's institutions, and education is a symptom of that larger problem," said Loreto Fernández, president of the social science student centre at the University of Chile.

She told IPS "we need a more democratic country, where the voices of society are really heard. It can't just be the same old political class reaching decisions between four walls."

* With additional reporting by Helda Martínez in Bogotá.


Dean Baker: Time to Retake Politics From the 1% in Both Political Parties, 3 News Briefs

Democracy Now covers the massive strike in England, extensively, and the LA and Philadelphia Occupation closures well.  Those interested in the LA ongoing strugle should tune-in to Margaret Prescod's show, now starting.  She has been at OLA often and covered it well, knows who to interview, etc.  -Ed 
News Updates from Citizens for Legitimate Government
30 Nov 2011
All links are here:
Breaking: Los Angeles police dismantle Occupy protesters' tents 30 Nov 2011 More than 100 Los Angeles police officers, including dozens in white protective suits, surrounded the Occupy L.A. camp on the City Hall lawn early Wednesday and began to dismantle tents and other shelters. Officers in riot gear and armed with night sticks closed off streets around City Hall. Police used bullhorns to threaten protesters with arrest. "This has been declared to be an unlawful assembly. You have seven minutes to gather your belongings and decide to leave," one officer said. Dozens of Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics and firefighters were also standing by on sealed off downtown streets. "This is what a police state looks like!" Occupy protesters chanted at the officers in riot gear.
Senate OKs Gov't to Keep US Citizens in Military Custody, Indefinitely and Without Trial 30 Nov 2011 Defying the Obama administration's threat of a veto [Yeah, right!], the Senate on Tuesday voted to increase the role of the military in imprisoning suspected members of 'Al Qaeda' and its allies -- including people arrested inside the United States. By a vote of 61 to 37, the Senate turned back an effort to strip a major military bill of a set of disputed provisions affecting the handling of terrorism cases. The most disputed provision would require the government to place into military custody any suspected member of Al Qaeda or one of its allies connected to a plot against the United States or its allies. A related provision would create a federal statute saying the government has the legal authority to keep people suspected of terrorism in military custody, indefinitely and without trial. It contains no exception for American citizens. [Arming the Left: Is the time now? By Charles Southwell 21 Oct 2003 As long as we pose no REAL threat to the powers-that-be, to what is shaping up into [is] a dictatorship, we will continue to be ignored. Right now, we are ignored because we present no organized power to fight this onslaught of anti-democratic, totalitarian government that we are up against...] 
Day of strikes as millions heed unions' call to fight pension cuts --Disruption across UK as many services come to virtual halt -- Airports, schools, rail services and hospitals affected 30 Nov 2011 The UK is experiencing the worst disruption to services in decades as more than 2 million public sector workers stage a nationwide strike, closing schools and bringing councils and hospitals to a virtual standstill. The strike by more than 30 unions over cuts to public sector pensions started at midnight, leading to the closure of most state schools; cancellation of refuse collections; rail service and tunnel closures; the postponement of thousands of non-emergency hospital operations; and possible delays at airports and ferry terminals. Hundreds of marches and rallies are due to take place in cities and towns across the country.
 * * * 
Published on Monday, November 28, 2011 by

Time to Retake Politics From the One Percent in Both Political Parties

The country is still celebrating the inability of the supercommittee to cut Social Security and Medicare, but it is important to move on from this victory to retake control of the political debate from the One Percent. As it stands, the One Percent are insisting that the country genuflect over the non-problem of the budget deficit, at a time when tens of millions of workers are unemployed or underemployed, millions of people are facing the loss of their homes and tens of millions of baby boomers are approaching retirement with little other than their Social Security to support them.

The deficit is the agenda of the One Percent. There is no reason that the rest of us should be concerned about budget deficits when the rest of the country is struggling with the economic disaster created by the greed and incompetence of the One Percent.

This is not a statement of morality; it is a statement based on economic reality. Budget deficits can be a problem when an economy is near full employment and the deficit can be pulling resources away from private investment, thereby slowing growth. However, it is not a problem with large numbers of unemployed workers and vast amounts of excess capacity.

This is what the financial markets are telling us every day as interest rates on long-term government bonds hover near 2.0 percent. If deficits were really crimping the economy, we would be seeing interest rates of 6 or 7 percent, or even higher. The deficit hawks do not have an economic case to support their argument, just money and influence.

In the longer term, the deficit hawks can point to projections of outsized deficits, which they invariably attribute to Social Security and Medicare. The first part of this story is completely untrue.

Under the law, Social Security is financed from its designated tax. It, therefore, cannot contribute to the deficit unless Congress changes the law. (The payroll tax credit in 2011, which was replaced with general revenue, is an exception to this rule.)

According to the most recent projections from the Congressional Budget Office, Social Security benefits will be fully funded through the year 2038. After that date, if Congress does nothing to increase revenue, then the program would pay a bit more than 80 percent of scheduled benefits. (This would still be about 10 percent more than current retirees receive since benefits are projected to rise by approximately 1 percent a year.)

The real story of the soaring long-term deficits is exploding Medicare costs, which are in turn driven by our broken health care system. We already pay more than twice as much per person for our health care as the average for other wealthy countries, with little to show in the way of outcomes. This gap is projected to continue to grow in the years ahead.

To anyone who looks at the facts, the obvious answer to our deficit problem is fixing the health care system. This is difficult to do given the enormous political power of the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry, highly paid medical specialists, and the other members of the One Percent who profit from the waste in the system as it exists now.

If we can't immediately change the system, then why not take advantage of the gains from trade? If we change rules to make it possible for Medicare beneficiaries to buy into the health care systems in other countries or make it easier for patients to have medical procedures done at far lower cost elsewhere, it should be an enormous win-win, offering gains that could be in the trillions of dollars. And what free-market fundamentalist can argue against the principle of giving people a choice?

In fact, conservatives and self-described free traders run screaming from the idea of opening medical care to trade. They want trade that will lower the wages of auto workers and textile workers by putting them in direct competition with low-paid workers in the developing world; they hate trade when it threatens to reduce the income of the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry, and others in the One Percent.

It's time to expose the lies for what they are. The One Percent have rigged the deck over the last three decades to accomplish the most massive upward redistribution in the history of the world. These are not people who care about budget deficits or free trade or free markets. They care about making themselves richer at the expense of everyone else.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Robert Fisk: Why the Middle East will never be the same again.

From: John Jones
Why the Middle East will never be the same again.
"never again can the United States and Israel snap their fingers and expect the Arabs to click their heels. The US has lost its purchase on the Middle Ease. It's over: the "peace process", the "road map", the "Oslo agreement"; the whold fandango is history."
"America's political power in the Middle East will this week be neutered on behalf of Israel"

Robert Fisk
Independent UK/, Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Palestinians won't get a state this week. But they will prove – if they get enough votes in the General Assembly and if Mahmoud Abbas does not succumb to his characteristic grovelling in the face of US-Israeli power – that they are worthy of statehood. And they will establish for the Arabs what Israel likes to call – when it is enlarging its colonies on stolen land – "facts on the ground": never again can the United States and Israel snap their fingers and expect the Arabs to click their heels. The US has lost its purchase on the Middle East. It's over: the "peace process", the "road map", the "Oslo agreement"; the whole fandango is history.

Personally, I think "Palestine" is a fantasy state, impossible to create now that the Israelis have stolen so much of the Arabs' land for their colonial projects. Go take a look at the West Bank, if you don't believe me. Israel's massive Jewish colonies, its pernicious building restrictions on Palestinian homes of more than one storey and its closure even of sewage systems as punishment, the "cordons sanitaires" beside the Jordanian frontier, the Israeli-only settlers' roads have turned the map of the West Bank into the smashed windscreen of a crashed car. Sometimes, I suspect that the only thing that prevents the existence of "Greater Israel" is the obstinacy of those pesky Palestinians.

But we are now talking of much greater matters. This vote at the UN – General Assembly or Security Council, in one sense it hardly matters – is going to divide the West – Americans from Europeans and scores of other nations – and it is going to divide the Arabs from the Americans. It is going to crack open the divisions in the European Union; between eastern and western Europeans, between Germany and France (the former supporting Israel for all the usual historical reasons, the latter sickened by the suffering of the Palestinians) and, of course, between Israel and the EU.

A great anger has been created in the world by decades of Israeli power and military brutality and colonisation; millions of Europeans, while conscious of their own historical responsibility for the Jewish Holocaust and well aware of the violence of Muslim nations, are no longer cowed in their criticism for fear of being abused as anti-Semites. There is racism in the West – and always will be, I fear – against Muslims and Africans, as well as Jews. But what are the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, in which no Arab Muslim Palestinian can live, but an expression of racism?

Israel shares in this tragedy, of course. Its insane government has led its people on this road to perdition, adequately summed up by its sullen fear of democracy in Tunisia and Egypt – how typical that its principle ally in this nonsense should be the awful Saudi Arabia – and its cruel refusal to apologise for the killing of nine Turks in the Gaza flotilla last year and its equal refusal to apologise to Egypt for the killing of five of its policemen during a Palestinian incursion into Israel.

So goodbye to its only regional allies, Turkey and Egypt, in the space of scarcely 12 months. Israel's cabinet is composed both of intelligent, potentially balanced people such as Ehud Barak, and fools such as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the Ahmadinejad of Israeli politics. Sarcasm aside, Israelis deserve better than this.

The State of Israel may have been created unjustly – the Palestinian Diaspora is proof of this – but it was created legally. And its founders were perfectly capable of doing a deal with King Abdullah of Jordan after the 1948-49 war to divide Palestine between Jews and Arabs. But it had been the UN, which met to decide the fate of Palestine on 29 November 1947, which gave Israel its legitimacy, the Americans being the first to vote for its creation. Now – by a supreme irony of history – it is Israel which wishes to prevent the UN from giving Palestinian Arabs their legitimacy – and it is America which will be the first to veto such a legitimacy.

Does Israel have a right to exist? The question is a tired trap, regularly and stupidly trotted out by Israel's so-called supporters; to me, too, on regular though increasingly fewer occasions. States – not humans – give other states the right to exist. For individuals to do so, they have to see a map. For where exactly, geographically, is Israel? It is the only nation on earth which does not know and will not declare where its eastern frontier is. Is it the old UN armistice line, the 1967 border so beloved of Abbas and so hated by Netanyahu, or the Palestinian West Bank minus settlements, or the whole of the West Bank?

Show me a map of the United Kingdom which includes England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and it has the right to exist. But show me a map of the UK which claims to include the 26 counties of independent Ireland in the UK and shows Dublin to be a British rather than an Irish city, and I will say no, this nation does not have the right to exist within these expanded frontiers. Which is why, in the case of Israel, almost every Western embassy, including the US and British embassies, are in Tel Aviv, not in Jerusalem.

In the new Middle East, amid the Arab Awakening and the revolt of free peoples for dignity and freedom, this UN vote – passed in the General Assembly, vetoed by America if it goes to the Security Council – constitutes a kind of hinge; not just a page turning, but the failure of empire. So locked into Israel has US foreign policy become, so fearful of Israel have almost all its Congressmen and Congresswomen become – to the extent of loving Israel more than America – that America will this week stand out not as the nation that produced Woodrow Wilson and his 14 principles of self-determination, not as the country which fought Nazism and Fascism and Japanese militarism, not as the beacon of freedom which, we are told, its Founding Fathers represented – but as a curmudgeonly, selfish, frightened state whose President, after promising a new affection for the Muslim world, is forced to support an occupying power against a people who only ask for statehood.

Should we say "poor old Obama", as I have done in the past? I don't think so. Big on rhetoric, vain, handing out false love in Istanbul and Cairo within months of his election, he will this week prove that his re-election is more important than the future of the Middle East, that his personal ambition to stay in power must take first place over the sufferings of an occupied people. In this context alone, it is bizarre that a man of such supposed high principle should show himself so cowardly. In the new Middle East, in which Arabs are claiming the very same rights and freedoms that Israel and America say they champion, this is a profound tragedy.

US failures to stand up to Israel and to insist on a fair peace in "Palestine", abetted by the hero of the Iraq war, Blair, are responsible. Arabs too, for allowing their dictators to last so long and thus to clog the sand with false frontiers and old dogmas and oil (and let's not believe that a "new" "Palestine" would be a paradise for its own people). Israel, too, when it should be welcoming the Palestinian demand for statehood at the UN with all its obligations of security and peace and recognition of other UN members. But no. The game is lost. America's political power in the Middle East will this week be neutered on behalf of Israel. Quite a sacrifice in the name of liberty...

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Andy Kroll: Chalk One Up for the 99%, Jackie Goldberg: This Wednesday in Hollywood

Chalk One Up for the 99%

By Andy Kroll

Truthdig: November 26, 2011

This article was originally published by TomDispatch.

No headlines announced it. No TV pundits called it. But on the evening of November 8th, Occupy Wall Street, the populist uprising built on economic justice and corruption-free politics that’s spread like a lit match hitting a trail of gasoline, notched its first major political victory, and in the unlikeliest of places: Ohio.

You might have missed OWS’s win amid the recent wave of Occupy crackdowns. Police raided Occupy Denver, Occupy Salt Lake City, Occupy Oakland, Occupy Portland, and Occupy Seattle in a five-day span. Hundreds were arrested. And then, in the early morning hours on Tuesday, New York City police descended on Occupy Wall Street itself, fists flying and riot shields at the ready, with orders from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to evict the protesters. Later that day, a judge ruled that they couldn’t rebuild their young community, dealing a blow to the Occupy protest that inspired them all.

Instead of simply condemning the eviction, many pundits and columnists praised it or highlighted what they considered its bright side. The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote that Bloomberg had done Occupy Wall Street a favor. After all, he argued, something dangerous or deadly was bound to happen at OWS sooner or later, especially with winter soon to arrive. Zuccotti Park, Klein added, “was cleared… in a way that will temporarily reinvigorate the protesters and give Occupy Wall Street the best possible chance to become whatever it will become next.”

The New York Times’ Paul Krugman wrote that OWS “should be grateful” for Bloomberg’s eviction decree: “By acting so badly, Bloomberg has made it easy to see who won’t be truthful and can’t handle open discourse. He’s also saved OWS from what was probably its greatest problem, the prospect that it would just fade away as time went on and the days grew colder.”

Mentions of the phrase “income inequality” in print publications, web stories, and broadcast transcripts spiked from 91 times a week in early September to nearly 500 in late October, according to the website Politico—an increase of nearly 450%. In the second week of October, according to ThinkProgress, the words most uttered on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News were “jobs” (2,738), “Wall Street” (2,387), and “Occupy” (1,278). (References to “debt” tumbled to 398.)

And here’s another sign of the way Occupy Wall Street has forced what it considers the most pressing economic issues for the country into the spotlight: conservatives have lately gone on the defensive by attacking the very existence of income inequality, even if to little effect. As AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka put it, “Give credit to the Occupy Wall Street movement (and historic inequality) for redefining the political narrative.”

Wall Street in Ohio

The way Occupy Wall Street, with next to no direct access to the mainstream media, commandeered the national political narrative represents something of a stunning triumph. It also laid the

Read between the lines and what Klein, Krugman, and others are really saying is: you had your occupation; now, get real. Start organizing, meaningfully connect your many Occupy protests, build a real movement. As these columnists see it, that movement—whether you call it OccupyUSA, We Are the 99%, or the New Progressive Movement—should now turn its attention to policy changes like a millionaire’s tax, a financial transaction fee, or a constitutional amendment to nullify the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that loosed a torrent of cash into American elections. It should think about supporting political candidates. It should start making a nuts-and-bolts difference in American politics.

But such assessments miss an important truth: Occupy Wall Street has already won its first victory its own way—in Ohio, when voters repealed Republican governor John Kasich’s law to slash bargaining rights for 350,000 public workers and gut what remained of organized labor’s political power.

Commandeering the Conversation

Don’t believe me? Then think back to this spring and summer, when Occupy Wall Street was just a glimmer in the imagination of a few activists, artists, and students. In Washington, the conversation, such as it was, concerned debt, deficit, and austerity. The discussion wasn’t about whether to slash spending, only about how much and how soon. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent called it the “Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop”—and boy was he right.

A National Journal analysis in May found that the number of news articles in major newspapers mentioning “deficit” was climbing, while mentions of “unemployment” had plummeted. In the last week of July, the liberal blog ThinkProgress tallied 7,583 mentions of the word “debt” on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News alone. “Unemployment”? A measly 427.

This all-deficit, all-the-time debate shaped the final debt-ceiling deal, in which House Speaker John Boehner and his “cut-and-grow”-loving GOP allies got just about everything they wanted. So lopsided was the debate in Washington that President Obama himself hailed the deal’s bone-deep cuts to health research, public education, environmental protection, childcare, and infrastructure.

These cuts, the president explained, would bring the country to “the lowest level of annual domestic spending since Dwight Eisenhower was president.” After studying the deal, Ethan Pollock of the Economic Policy Institute told me, “There’s no way to square this plan with the president’s ‘Winning the Future’ agenda. That agenda ends.” Yet Obama said this as if it were a good thing.

Six weeks after Obama’s speech, protesters heard the call of Adbusters, the Canadian anti-capitalist magazine, and followed the lead of a small crew of activists, writers, and students to “occupy Wall Street.” A few hundred of them set up camp in Zuccotti Park, a small patch of concrete next door to Ground Zero. No one knew how long the occupation would last, or what its impact would be.

What a game-changing few months it’s been. Occupy Wall Street has inspired 750 events around the world, and hundreds of (semi-)permanent encampments around the United States. In so doing, the protests have wrestled the national discussion on the economy away from austerity and toward gaping income inequality (the 99% versus 1% theme), outsized executive compensation, and the plain buying and selling of American politicians by lobbyists and campaign donors.

For more, go to the URL: 

Andy Kroll is a reporter in the Washington bureau of Mother Jones magazine and an associate editor at TomDispatch. He has appeared on MSNBC, Al-Jazeera English, Democracy Now!, and Current TV’s “Countdown” with Keith Olbermann. His email is akroll(at) To catch Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Kroll discusses Occupy Wall Street’s unlikely first political victory, click here, or download it to your iPod here.

* * *

Dear Friends, Neighbors, and Relatives:

This Wednesday, November 30th, I am hosting a fundraiser for Torie Osborn candidate for State Assembly district 50 which includes Hollywood, West Hollywood and areas west to Santa Monica and Malibu. This is an open seat with a strong Democratic base so the primary election decides the winner. I am supporting Torie because she is the kind of leader that will make a difference for Hollywood - and all of Los Angeles. Torie is endorsed by Eric Garcetti, Tom LaBonge and Mayor Villaraigosa and me, all of whom know she is the kind of leader that will make a positive difference for Hollywood. Please make a generous donation to her campaign and please COME to Torie's Autumn Reception in Hollywood this Wednesday. November 30, Music Box Theater from 6:30 to 8:30 PM.

Love to all,
Jackie and Sharon
(please see flyer below)
The maximum contribution is $3,900

Donations can be made on line at

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Julian Assange: Internet Has Become 'Surveillance Machine', Arctic Sea Ice Shrinking at 'Unprecedented' Levels

Today marks exactly one year since Wikileaks began massive releasing of data, for which he has just been honored by
the Australian equivel e nt of the Pulitzer Prize (per DN, this morning).  It also marks the end game of the Arctic Sea.   -Ed

The Internet itself had become 'the most significant surveillance machine that we have ever seen,' Assange said in reference to the amount of information people give about themselves online. (photo: Andrew Winning/Reuters)
The Internet itself had become 'the most significant surveillance machine that we have ever seen,' Assange said in reference to the amount of information people give about themselves online. (photo: Andrew Winning/Reuters)

Internet Has Become 'Surveillance Machine'

Julian Assange

Agence France-Presse: 28 November 11

ikiLeaks founder Julian Assange blasted the mainstream media, Washington, banks and the Internet itself as he addressed journalists in Hong Kong on Monday via videolink from house arrest in England.

Fresh from accepting a top award for journalism from the prestigious Walkley Foundation in his native Australia on Sunday, Assange spoke to the News World Summit in Hong Kong before keeping a regular appointment with the police.

He defended his right to call himself a journalist and said WikiLeaks' next "battle" would be to ensure that the Internet does not turn into a vast surveillance tool for governments and corporations.

"Of course I'm a goddamn journalist," he responded with affected frustration when a moderator of the conference asked if he was a member of the profession.

He said his written record spoke for itself and argued that the only reason people kept asking him if he was a journalist was because the United States' government wanted to silence him.

"The United States government does not want legal protection for us," he said, referring to a US Justice Department investigation into his whistle-blower website for releasing secret diplomatic and military documents.

The former hacker criticised journalists and the mainstream media for becoming too cosy with the powerful and secretive organisations they were supposed to be holding to account.

In a 40-minute address, he also accused credit card companies such as Visa and Mastercard of illegally cutting WikiLeaks off from funding under a secret deal with the White House.

"Issues that should be decided in open court are being decided in back rooms in Washington," he said.

The Internet itself had become "the most significant surveillance machine that we have ever seen," Assange said in reference to the amount of information people give about themselves online.

"It's not an age of transparency at all ... the amount of secret information is more than ever before," he said, adding that information flows in but is not flowing out of governments and other powerful organisations.

"I see that really is our big battle. The technology gives and the technology takes away," he added.

The anti-secrecy activist then help up a handwritten sign from an aide telling him to "stop" talking or he would be late for a mandatory appointment with police.

Assange, 40, is under house arrest in England pending the outcome of a Swedish extradition request over claims of rape and sexual assault made by two women. He says he is the victim of a smear campaign.

* * *

Published on Thursday, November 24, 2011 by CBC News

Arctic Sea Ice Shrinking at 'Unprecedented' Levels

by Emily Chung

The recent loss of sea ice in the Arctic is greater than any natural variation in the past 1½ millennia, a Canadian study shows.

According to the leading science journal Nature, Arctic sea ice is disappearing on a pace and magnitude unlike anything the Earth has experienced in the past 1,450 years. (Photograph by: HO, Reuters) "The recent sea ice decline … appears to be unprecedented," said Christian Zdanowicz, a glaciologist at Natural Resources Canada, who co-led the study and is a co-author of the paper published Wednesday online in Nature.

"We kind of have to conclude that there's a strong chance that there's a human influence embedded in that signal."

In September, Germany's University of Bremen reported that sea ice had hit a record low, based on data from a Japanese sensor on NASA's Aqua satellite. The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, using a different satellite data set, reported that the sea ice coverage in 2011 was the second-lowest on record, after the record set in 2007.

What makes recent sea ice declines unique is that they have been driven by multiple factors that never all coincided in historical periods of major sea ice loss, said Christophe Kinnard, lead author of the new report.

"Everything is trending up – surface temperature, the atmosphere is warming, and it seems also that the ocean is warming and there is more warm and saline water that makes it into the Arctic," Kinnard said, "and so the sea ice is eroded from below and melting from the top."

In the past, he said, sea ice loss was driven mostly by an influx of warm, salty water from the North Atlantic into the Arctic due to a change in ocean currents, and wasn't necessarily linked to periods of warmer air temperatures.

In contrast, Zdanowicz said, temperature has come to dominate control of the sea ice.

Most of the current data about the recent, rapid sea ice loss comes from satellite measurements that began in the 1970s.

Other reports of sea ice variability come from sources such as ship logs and only go back around 130 years, said Kinnard, a research scientist at the Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas in La Serena, Chile, who conducted most of the research while doing his PhD and working at the Geological Survey of Canada under Zdanowicz and fellow glaciologist David Fisher.

Zdanowicz said he and his colleagues had some questions in light of the recent dramatic decline of Arctic sea ice: "Is this exceptional? Is this unique? Is this part of a longer cycle?"

The researchers compiled data from more than 60 sources, including ice core records, tree rings and lake and ocean sediments, which all provide information about climatic and sea ice changes over hundreds or thousands of years. About 80 per cent of the data came from ice cores from polar glaciers, and about a third of those were Canadian.

Using those historical data records and statistics derived from modern data correlating sea ice to other factors, the researchers managed to reconstruct sea ice changes over the past 1,450 years — since about 600 A.D.

The model showed that when the sea ice extent was at its lowest historically, at the beginning of that period, at least 8.5 million square kilometers of sea ice covered the Arctic in late summer, the time of year when sea ice is usually at its lowest extent.

"Today, we're lower than eight," Kinnard said.

Data will improve predictions

Kinnard said the information about the causes of past sea ice losses might be useful to scientists who make predictions about sea ice loss and have so far been largely underestimating the rate of its decline: "Which probably indicates that the models are missing something."

Zdanowicz added that climate models are tested by seeing how well they are able to reproduce the past – and the new reconstruction allows for that.

Sea ice also has a strong effect on the overall climate, the scientists noted. For example, it is bright and so it reflects sunlight, reducing warming, while ocean water is dark, absorbing sunlight and increasing warming, said Anne de Vernal, a researcher at the University of Quebec in Montreal who also co-authored the report.

Fisher added that it also affects water and atmospheric chemistry. That in turn could produce feedback that somehow speeds up further sea ice loss.

That means information about sea ice could be useful in predicting other aspects of the future climate.

On the other hand, de Vernal said, the unique nature of the current sea ice loss makes it harder to guess how other systems will respond.

"What we are experiencing at the moment seems to be very exceptional…. This means that we are entering into the world which has no equivalent in the past."

FW: Lila Garrett and John Johnson with Occupier updates, Emergency Communique Establishing our Right to Occupy


From: Ed Pearl []
Sent: Monday, November 28, 2011 7:22 AM
To: Ed Pearl
Subject: Lila Garrett and John Johnson with Occupier updates, Emergency Communique Establishing our Right to Occupy

Hi.  At the writing, the OLA encampment is still intact, but likely with a short life. Consider this  'color' 
for ensuing events, but also pay attention to the proposed coming from at least some of
the occupiers and expressing many of the thoughts I've heard at my several visits there.  Stay tuned.
From: John Johnson
Sent: Monday, November 28, 2011 2:12 AM
Subject: [LAAMN] [change-links] [occupyla] Latest word

Occupiers have almost encircle City Hall with a human chain
The LAPD said they won't make arrest tonight if everyone stays off the street
But will make arrest in the next few days, at the will I guess.

John Johnson
Change-Links Progressive Newspaper
Subscribe to our list server. Email
(818) 782-1412
Cell (818) 681-7448.

 * * *
 Lila's show is on, this morning, at 7.  I'm pretty sure she'll have phone reports from Occupy LA. 
unless eviction is going on.  I was down there earlier and KPFK was broadcasting non-stop,  as of  2 am.  

Sent: Sun, November 27, 2011 4:30:28 PM
Subject: Occupier update

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Friends:  In response to your many Emails and calls, City Councilman Bill Rosendahl went down to City Hall and spoke to the Occupiers this morning at 11 o’clock.  He and the new President of the City Council, Herb Wesson have pledged to form a City Council Committee specifically to address the goals of the Occupy movement.   When those goals are not within the City’s province, Rosendahl pledged to take them further…to the State and the Federal Government with the intention of following through.  He reaffirmed his support of the movement and his determination to help fulfill its agenda.  Specific items mentioned were: getting corporate money out of elections, ending the wars (that one got the greatest applause), developing affordable housing, fixing the infrastructure,   and JOBS.  (I was there without a laptop or notebook unfortunately  so I’m working from memory here.)  There were other items. …all good.  But he didn’t cover everything and it behooves all of us to add our list to his.  In the letter Marcy Winograd and I send to Rosendahl and Garcetti  we emphasized the following:


Freezing foreclosures in Los Angeles.

Divesting from toxic banks and instead investing in a city-run credit union. 

Suing the banks that illegally foreclosed on people's homes.


I discussed the foreclosure freeze with him later, reminding him of the Springfield Massachusetts ordinance passed in Sept which does put in place the mechanics for freezing foreclosures, so the model is there.   He was very receptive.   We, and hopefully all of you, will not drop the subject.


The Occupiers, whose intelligence, courtesy and strength brought tears to my eyes, expressed the hope that as many people as possible join them tonight at Kid Park (which is right there on the lawn of City Hall) at about 10:30 when their resistance to being moved out will begin.  High profile people are particularly helpful in a situation like this, but numbers matter.   I hesitate to ask you to do this since I won’t be there myself, but frankly, my knees took as much as they could this morning…and now I’m busy icing them.   Also there is no guarantee that there won’t be some arrests, so be realistic when you consider this request.

We thank Councilman Bill Rosendahl for continuing to be a person of principle and we thank the Occupiers for standing up for the rest of us. You are the true champions of our democracy. 


Lila Garrett (Host of CONNECT THE DOTS)

KPFK 90.7 FM in LA;  98.7 Santa Barbara

Airs Mondays from 7AM to 8AM.

To pod cast or download the broadcast just use this link:

Each show is on line for three months.

* * * 

 From: Jan Goodman []
Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2011 1:33 PM

This is an excellent statement. Keep your ears open -- maybe tuned to KPFK 90.7 fm to hear what is going on w Occupy LA & consider going down there tonight &/or tomorrow to protest the dismantling of OLA.
Jan Goodman

On Sun, Nov 27, 2011 at 6:25 AM, <> wrote:
I am not sure if this as adopted officially but I think it is a good statement. I will be down at OLA at 11AM. I hope to see many of you there. Today is a stunningly gorgeous day up here on Saddle Peak but I will not be here. I will be at City Hall.

Dorothy Reik

Subject: Re: [occupyla] Emergency Communique Establishing our Right to Occupy, Proposal
This is stunning, guys. With your permission, I'd like to send it out as an unofficial statement along with a call I'm blasting tonight to get people down here tomorrow. If that's OK, let me know, and let me know how you want to be credited.


From: ron lipshultz <>
Date: Sat, 26 Nov 2011 16:59:33 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: [occupyla] Emergency Communique Establishing our Right to Occupy, Proposal

Jessica and Alex,
Well written...powerful and thorough...
You want this blasted out widely to the press tomorrow for Monday publication...
Assuming the raid happens tomorrow night, there will be numerous articles appearing on Monday and Tuesday, and some of the content of the public statement will surly be included.

--- On Sat, 11/26/11, Jessica Rey <> wrote
If we can at least announce this tonight, or maybe try to pass it because tomorrow will be hectic. Any thoughts? I know we have a 24 hour window so I will stand by that but would at least like to initiate discussion. Please bring any friendly amendments, language changes tonight and we can discuss after GA. Written by Alex and Jessica.


A public statement, call and communique by OccupyLA for activists, everyday individuals, occupiers, and all those across the world engaged in the struggle for social justice, to stand for the right of the people to assemble and exercise
free speech.

How (Statement):

We recognize, and urge city officials to recognize, the entrenched interests pressuring for the evacuation of Solidarity Park on behalf of “local” but most certainly multinational corporations, just as they have collectively lobbied as the Central City Association, pushing for an anti-encampment ordinance. We assert, in light of our action on Nov. 17th in which a private citizen on behalf of BofA placed 46 protesters under private persons arrest with the help of hundreds of the LAPD as well as a militarized 4-block radius, that the city is not being transparent in their reasoning for eviction and is in fact moving at the behest of the 1%.

OLA rejects municipal health, safety or aesthetic concerns as invalid reasoning to displace our encampment, a political space for unhindered peaceful assembly and the expression of free speech.

We remind you that as taxpayers, for decades we have paid into paving these streets and funding the operations of governmental buildings without asking for anything other than representation of our interests. This social contract has been broken, and rather than wait for utter economic collapse, the people have taken encampment upon themselves as a tool of sustaining and amplifying free speech. Our presence as OccupyLA, in its current form, actively asserts our right to free assembly through the chosen method of occupation.

We do not occupy to sleep here, we sleep here because we occupy. We do not *have* to occupy, we elect to occupy to symbolize that as a people, our presence and vigilance is absolutely required to engage a political process that leaves no room for the organic and legitimate voice of the people.

We remind you that though you speak of the sustainability of our encampment, we are here to address the sustainability of corruption and greed in our social, economic and governmental processes. The issues affecting our encampment and exploited in the media, in terms of non-participation via drug or alcohol use, or the appearance of increased petty crime in and around
the immediate encampment area, are a result of the same lack of resources/poverty that disproportionately effects many of our communities on a consistent and predatory basis. We reject the criminalization of these behaviors and instead demand their prompt consideration as symptoms of a diseased public policy process insufficient in addressing the needs of the people.

We do not consider the grass, unsustainable in this climate, to be a suitable reason to displace an encampment of people intent on exercising their right to free speech. Instead we urge the city to look to Long Beach, which has initiated a rebate process to encourage residents to pull up their lawns and replace them with more native landscaping. The Occupation of Los Angeles, in assembling peacefully at Solidarity Park, has created a microcosm of the society we live in and unabashedly thrusts it from the periphery right onto the doorstep of City Hall. We stand behind our de-gentrification of the downtown space as a direct response to the relationship between government and private corporations and the assault on public space.

When faced with the unjust relationship of government officials with the private sphere and the corrupting influence of money in the political process, it is important to measure the reaction of law enforcement against the message put out by the people in the streets. It is important to point out the comparatively harsh and organized violence that has characterized the police response to OWS in cities across the US and how our message about economic inequality has something to do with that. It is important to highlight the concerted efforts of 19 cities, under the umbrella of the Dept. of Homeland Security, to suppress the occupation movement in one fell swoop.

Going further, we call upon all sisters and brothers of the occupy movement, sympathizers, supporters and critics to join us as we defend and reestablish our individual and collective rights to free speech and assembly (date and time of determined meeting point at that time). And we call upon all individuals to speak out against the use of intimidation, force, politics and power to break up peaceful occupations and repress or criminalize the exercise of our first amendment rights.


So we have a statement to release at the time of the raid to the press, the world, and other occupations. So we make clear their misuse of power to repress our movement.

PDSMM mailing list


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