Saturday, November 19, 2011

Police Brutality at UC Davis

If you haven't seen this yet or heard about this story, watch the video below.  It is beyond words.

One would imagine this was filmed in Egypt, or Tunisia, Syria, or even Libya.  No folks, this is right here in the good ol' United States of America.  What did these students do to deserve this brutality?  Exercise their right to free speech and right to free assembly, that's all.

The best part?  You think that anything is going to happen to these police who broke the law?

(g) Any person who uses tear gas or tear gas weapons except in self-defense is guilty of a public offense and is punishable byimprisonment in a state prison for 16 months, or two or three years or in a county jail not to exceed one year or by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment, except that, if the use is against a peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2, engaged in the performance of his or her official duties and the person committing the offense knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for 16 months or two or three years or by a fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment.
 I wonder when the Federal Government will step in and say enough is enough, that these protesters have the right to do what they want and that no police force has the right to treat them that way.  In my last post I mentioned what happens when the corporate interests are protected over the rights of the people.  Think fascism can't happen here?  Watch that video again and then try answering that question.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Corporations and the F word

Oh my, what could I be talking about?  Do I dare mention it?  Could it be happening in this country?  No, it only happened in Germany, Italy, Spain, and elsewhere.  It could never happen here.  Corporations could never exert so much power in this country.  But...


Ah yes, the dreaded F word.  Up until now, most of the talk has been in this country of an oligarchy or a plutocracy.  Here is a perfect example of what I'm talking about from Bill Moyers.

It would seem that wealthy corporate interests and democracy don't mix too well.  Democracy is a system of government that looks out for the needs of the majority of its people and the benefits of all.  It is also a system of government that is run by the people.  A plutocracy is where the corporate interests run the show, where the wealthy make the decisions that help only the wealthy, not the people.  So it would seem pretty easy to see where these two don't mix.

But Fascism?  The slow erosion of our rights have made me think of this.  It's the slow erosion of our rights all to protect the corporate interests.

As the Occupy protests continue around the United States, it has been the police who have been cracking down on the people's right to freedom of speech under the first amendment.  With arrests at the protests surpassing 4000, what have these people done other than exercise their freedom of speech?  As far as I'm concerned, the Constitution doesn't say that freedom of speech ends when the sun goes down.

What other right has been suppressed?  The right to the freedom of the press.  Mayor Bloomberg blocked reporters from covering the crackdown on Zucotti park and when reporters tried to cover it, they were arrested.  Reporters all across America have been arrested for covering these protests.

“Sometimes they are arrested and then set free almost immediately. Sometimes they are arrested and, before being released, are charged with unlawful assembly, disorderly conduct or lack of press credentials.

Journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street movement’s protests and marches are not only exposed to police brutality but also to a sort of judicial lottery when detained. The situation varies from state to state, according to local laws, but the freedom to report news and information is being violated almost everywhere, not only for professional journalists but also for bloggers and for activists who want to cover the protests themselves."
What is the role of the police?  To protect the rights of the people?  Or to protect the rights of the corporation? 

That's why I bring up the dreaded F word.  Fascism.  In a 2003 study of fascist regimes around the world and in history, fourteen defining characteristics of fascism were found.  The following is one of them.

"Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite."
Sound like something that might be happening here?  Even in NYC, Mayor Bloomberg is the 12 richest man in America with a net worth of 19.5 BILLION dollars.  It would seem that he has interests that need to be protected.

Or how about the fact that one of the largest multinational banking and investment firms in the world, also located on Wall St., gave a private donation of $4.6 million to the NYPD, the largest donation to a public police force ever?  Whose interests do you think they were looking out for?  The people?  Think they made this donation so that our first amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press could be protected?

I will close with the following words from a fellow blogger of mine TeacherKen:

"The use of sonic weapons, the use of massive police, the changing of the rules of access to the park after the fact in violation of the agreement by which the park was created, the refusal of the authorities to allow access to the press, the arresting of journalists, the continued incarceration of people including a city councilman without bringing them to the courts  -  all of these are indicators that basic rights apparently no longer matter to those in control of power.

How the people as a whole respond to what has happened, including the coordination across multiple cities and the inappropriate intervention of the Department of Homeland Security into this situation, may represent the last chance to prevent this nation from slipping into fascism -  corporate domination of the system without regard to the rights of persons ostensibly guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States and the several states."
Don't think this can't happen here.  Don't think that fascism and corporate interests can't dominate the interests of the people.  We can either keep ignoring what's happening here, or speak out against it and act out against the corporate interests.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Real" Journalism

I went down to Occupy Chicago and was interviewing people for my podcast (which fell through, that's another story / post) and had some really good conversations.  I wanted to know why people were there at the protest, why or if they supported it, and how they related, among other points of conversation.  There were very rich conversations and I gave the people plenty of time to speak their minds without interrupting or leading them.

During one of my recorded interviews with one of the protesters, a man from the Chicago Tribune interrupted us and the conversation went like this.

Tribune Man:  "Hi, I was wondering if I could ask you some questions."
Protester:  "Who are you with?"
TM:  "I'm with the Chicago Tribune.  I'm a real journalist."
P: "Uh, ok..."
TM: "What is your name?"
P:  Gives name

At this point the reporter just walked away.  Didn't ask any questions.  Didn't ask a SINGLE question.  And he had the balls to mock me in the process.

This has gotten me thinking, what makes somebody a "real" journalist?  Or a "real" reporter?  What makes somebody more legitimate than someone else when it comes to reporting and journalism?

Nowadays most of the journalists on TV are either right wing corporate shills, OR right wing corporate shills masquerading as "centrists", a.k.a. David Brooks.  (thanks to The Professional Left for opening my eyes to this).  And yet they are the so called experts, the so called journalists.  They get to spew falsehoods, misstatements, and opinions masquerading as facts.

They mock bloggers or smaller, independent media outlets.  And when they're not mocking them, they're simply ignoring them because the message or facts that they communicate don't match up with their message.

So apart from the obvious reasons non corporate media is ignored, what makes a journalist or reporter legitimate?  What makes an individual a reporter or journalist?  Do you have to be a part of an accredited organization?  Can an ordinary citizen do reporting / journalism?