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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Federal judge orders TN to stop arresting Occupy Nashville protesters

The Tennessean
Oct. 31, 2011
By Brandon Gee 

A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order today requiring the state to stop enforcing a hastily drawn up policy that set a curfew for gatherings at Legislative Plaza and resulted in about 50 arrests of Occupy Nashville protesters.

Local attorneys and the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee filed a lawsuit this morning against Gov. Bill Haslam and other state officials and requested a temporary restraining order to prevent any further arrests. U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger granted the request. The state did not object to the restraining order and agreed to work out its differences with protesters.


After tolerating the protest for three weeks, Haslam approved a crackdown on demonstrators last week, citing safety and sanitation concerns at the plaza. The state instituted a new use policy for Legislative Plaza that included a curfew and permit requirements.

Full Article Here – http://www.tennessean.com/article/20111031/NEWS03/111031013/Federal-judge-orders-TN-stop-arresting-Occupy-Nashville-protesters?odyssey=mod

Google refuses to remove police-brutality videos, it says

Bangor Daily News
Oct. 31, 2011

In its most recent Transparency Report, Google states that it has received multiple requests from law-enforcement officials to remove videos.

“We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality, which we did not remove. Separately, we received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this Report as defamation requests.”

The report covers January to June of this year, and catalogs removal requests from a variety of sources. The report states that Google complied with 63 percent of the 92 requests for content removal and a 93 percent of the 5,950 requests for user data. Writing in The Atlantic, Rebecca J. Rosen says that the lack of detail in the report “does more for making government transparent than it does more making Google itself transparent.”


The company says it releases this information to “help in ongoing discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests,” and referred elsewhere to the need to reform the  Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

Full Article Here – http://bangordailynews.com/2011/10/31/news/nation/google-refuses-to-remove-police-brutality-videos/

Police break up Occupy Richmond encampment

Richmond Times Dispatch
Oct. 31, 2011

Richmond and Virginia State Police today broke up an encampment of Occupy Richmond protesters who had been camping at Kanawha Plaza downtown since Oct. 15.

Police officials would not immediately comment on the operation, which occurred about 1 a.m. when officers went to the public park and gave the protesters a chance to leave. Many did; those who did not were taken into custody.

Authorities said trespassing charges were likely.


Police did not use force and there were no injuries, putting the shutdown of the Richmond operation in contrast to those in some other cities where people have gathered to protest what they view as inequities on Wall Street.

It appeared as many as 15 people were taken into custody during this morning’s operation.

After the park was cleared, Richmond Department of Public Works crews came in with bulldozers and began clearing the debris left behind and stringing yellow police tape around a perimeter marked by traffic barrels.

Full Article Here – http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2011/oct/31/police-break-occupy-richmond-encampment-ar-1423424/

U.S. had advance warning of abuse at Afghan prisons, officials say

Washington Post
Oct. 30, 2011
By and

KABUL — Across the street from U.S. military headquarters in Kabul, shrouded from view by concrete walls, the Afghan intelligence agency runs a detention facility for up to 40 terrorism suspects that is known as Department 124. So much torture took place inside, one detainee told the United Nations, that it has earned another name: “People call it Hell.”

But long before the world body publicly revealed “systematic torture” in Afghan intelligence agency detention centers, top officials from the State Department, CIA and U.S. military received multiple warnings about abuses at Department 124 and other Afghan facilities, according to Afghan and Western officials with knowledge of the situation.

Despite the warnings, the United States continued to transfer detainees to Afghan intelligence service custody, the officials said. Even as other countries stopped handing over detainees to problematic facilities, the U.S. government did not.

U.S. Special Operations troops delivered detainees to Department 124. CIA officials regularly visited the facility, which was rebuilt last year with American money, to interrogate high-level Taliban and al-Qaeda suspects, according to Afghan and Western officials familiar with the site. Afghan intelligence officials said Americans never participated in the torture but should have known about it.

When the United Nations brought allegations of widespread detainee abuse on Aug. 30 to Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. military commander here, he took swift action ahead of the public release of the findings. Coalition troops stopped transferring detainees to Department 124 and 15 other police and intelligence agency prisons. They also hastily began a program to monitor those facilities and conduct human rights classes for interrogators.

But the prospect that U.S. officials failed to act on prior warnings raises questions about their compliance with a law, known as the Leahy Amendment, that prohibits the United States from funding units of foreign security forces when there is credible evidence they have committed human rights abuses. The State Department is now investigating whether the law applies and what funding might be affected, according to U.S. officials.

Full Article Here – http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/us-had-advance-warning-of-abuse-at-afghan-prisons-officials-say/2011/10/21/gIQA7Dg2VM_story.html 

Occupy Wall Street turns to pedal power

Raw Story
Oct. 30, 2011
By Muriel Kane

The Occupy Wall Street protesters who were left without power after their gas-fueled generators were confiscated by New York City authorities on Friday may have found the idea solution in the form of a stationary bicycle hooked up to charge batteries.

Stephan Keegan of the non-profit environmental group Time’s Up showed off one of the bikes to The Daily News, explaining that OWS’s General Assembly has already authorized payment for additional bikes and that “soon we’ll have ten of these set up and we’ll be powering the whole park with batteries.”


Protester Lauren Minis told CBS New York, “We’ve got five bike-powered generator systems that are coming from Boston and we’ve got five more plus other ones that are going to supplement as well so we’re completely, completely off the grid.”

According to CBS, “Insiders at Occupy Wall Street say they expect to have their media center and the food service area fully powered and illuminated by Monday.”

“We need some exercise,” Keegan explained enthusiastically, “and we’ve got a lot of volunteers, so we should be able to power these, no problem. … We did an energy survey of the whole park, found out how much energy we were using. …. Ten will give us twice as much power.”

Full Article Here – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/10/30/occupy-wall-street-turns-to-pedal-power/

In Tenn. and NY, locals thwart protesters’ removal

Associated Press
Oct. 30, 2011
By TRAVIS LOLLER

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s governor and his administration have twice sent state troopers to handcuff and haul away Occupy Nashville protesters camped out just steps away from the Capitol. And twice, a relatively obscure local official refused to throw them in jail.
In New York, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo reportedly asked Albany‘s mayor last weekend to begin enforcing the 11 p.m. curfew at a park where the protesters have set up camp. Mayor Jerry Jennings declined.

Demonstrators are camping out in public parks in cities across the country, protesting against what they see as corporate greed and inequities in the American economy. Cities are dealing with the differently, some trying to work with protesters to leave peacefully, while others have sent in police to arrest them.
Under Tennessee state law, a judicial commissioner determines if there is probable cause that a crime has been committed. That official in this case has set the demonstrators free, despite Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s efforts.
The magistrate, Tom Nelson, says state officials have no authority to set a curfew requiring the protesters to clear out or face arrest.
“The magistrate’s position is sort of a safety valve to prevent overzealous officers from putting people in jail for no reason,” Nashville attorney Jim Todd said. He said it’s extraordinarily rare when a magistrate refuses to sign off on an arrest warrant. But he supported Nelson’s decision, saying he believes the safety valve worked.
In Albany, Occupy protesters have pitched tents in a city park across the street from the state Capitol. Cuomo has been targeted by the demonstrators for opposing an extension of a temporary tax on people earning more than $200,000 per year. And he wants them out.

Jennings said removing the group would be more trouble than it was worth.

“Some of the governor’s people were pretty firm about our not doing this, letting them stay in the park, but basically, we had allowed this before,” Jennings told the New York Post. “My counsel said we’d be opening ourselves up to civil liability if we forced them out.”
He added that he believed Albany’s left-leaning District Attorney, David Soares, sympathized with the protesters.
“My understanding is he spoke to the Albany police and told them he wouldn’t prosecute,” Jennings told the newspaper.

What the Costumes Reveal

New York Times
Published Oct. 28, 2011
By

On Friday, the law firm of Steven J. Baum threw a Halloween party. The firm, which is located near Buffalo, is what is commonly referred to as a “foreclosure mill” firm, meaning it represents banks and mortgage servicers as they attempt to foreclose on homeowners and evict them from their homes. Steven J. Baum is, in fact, the largest such firm in New York; it represents virtually all the giant mortgage lenders, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

The party is the firm’s big annual bash. Employees wear Halloween costumes to the office, where they party until around noon, and then return to work, still in costume. I can’t tell you how people dressed for this year’s party, but I can tell you about last year’s.


That’s because a former employee of Steven J. Baum recently sent me snapshots of last year’s party. In an e-mail, she said that she wanted me to see them because they showed an appalling lack of compassion toward the homeowners — invariably poor and down on their luck — that the Baum firm had brought foreclosure proceedings against.

When we spoke later, she added that the snapshots are an accurate representation of the firm’s mind-set. “There is this really cavalier attitude,” she said. “It doesn’t matter that people are going to lose their homes.” Nor does the firm try to help people get mortgage modifications; the pressure, always, is to foreclose. I told her I wanted to post the photos on The Times’s Web site so that readers could see them. She agreed, but asked to remain anonymous because she said she fears retaliation.

Let me describe a few of the photos. In one, two Baum employees are dressed like homeless people. One is holding a bottle of liquor. The other has a sign around her neck that reads: “3rd party squatter. I lost my home and I was never served.” My source said that “I was never served” is meant to mock “the typical excuse” of the homeowner trying to evade a foreclosure proceeding.

A second picture shows a coffin with a picture of a woman whose eyes have been cut out. A sign on the coffin reads: “Rest in Peace. Crazy Susie.” The reference is to Susan Chana Lask, a lawyer who had filed a class-action suit against Steven J. Baum — and had posted a YouTube video denouncing the firm’s foreclosure practices. “She was a thorn in their side,” said my source.

A third photograph shows a corner of Baum’s office decorated to look like a row of foreclosed homes. Another shows a sign that reads, “Baum Estates” — needless to say, it’s also full of foreclosed houses. Most of the other pictures show either mock homeless camps or mock foreclosure signs — or both. My source told me that not every Baum department used the party to make fun of the troubled homeowners they made their living suing. But some clearly did. The adjective she’d used when she sent them to me — “appalling” — struck me as exactly right.

These pictures are hardly the first piece of evidence that the Baum firm treats homeowners shabbily — or that it uses dubious legal practices to do so. It is under investigation by the New York attorney general, Eric Schneiderman. It recently agreed to pay $2 million to resolve an investigation by the Department of Justice into whether the firm had “filed misleading pleadings, affidavits, and mortgage assignments in the state and federal courts in New York.” (In the press release announcing the settlement, Baum acknowledged only that “it occasionally made inadvertent errors.”)

Full Article Here – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/29/opinion/what-the-costumes-reveal.html?_r=4 

Nearly 40 Protestors Arrested Overnight at Occupy Austin

Austin American-Statesman
Oct. 30, 2011
By Andrea Ball

UPDATE at 3:28 p.m.: Watch a live stream of Occupy Austin at Travis County jail here, where demonstrators will be released from jail and protesters are marching to from city hall today.

UPDATE at 1:36 p.m.: City officials are asking Occupy Austin protesters to appoint leaders to work with city officials on developing a consensus on new rules for the group’s occupation of city hall, police Chief Art Acevedo told reporters today.

The loosely organized group could discuss the measure in their afternoon general assembly meeting.

Police arrested 38 protesters early this morning, the most in a single incident since protesters came to City Hall since Oct. 6.

The arrests came a little more than a day and a half after the city posted new rules for the protesters, including a ban on setting up the food distribution table overnight, Acevedo said at a press conference this afternoon during which he and Assistant City Manager Michael McDonald outlined the city’s plans going forward.


“I can tell you that a lot of the changes were made at the request of people I consider to be Occupy Austin,” Acevedo said, declining to name names.

McDonald said they plan to meet with Occupy Austin representatives Monday morning.

The 30 men and eight women who were arrested early Sunday on criminal trespass charges will be released this afternoon, Acevedo said.

Earlier: Thirty-eight Occupy Austin protesters were arrested at City Hall Sunday in a dispute that started over food tables on the plaza.

The incident was the largest group arrest since protesters began a 24/7 occupation at City Hall on Oct. 6. Four people were arrested on Oct. 13 for refusing to leave the plaza while a cleaning crew power-washed the plaza, but since then, occupiers and police have maintained a generally cooperative relationship.

Most of the protesters arrested Sunday were charged with criminal trespass, said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. No injuries were reported.

Full Article Here – http://www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/blotter/entries/2011/10/30/nearly_40_protestors_arrested.html

Germany’s ‘Occupy’ protesters return to voice anger

Deutsche Welle
Oct. 30, 2011

Thousands of people in Germany have rallied again to protest over the gap between rich and poor. Activists camping outside the European Central Bank in Frankfurt have vowed to remain for the next two weeks.

Thousands gathered across Germany on Saturday to protest over wealth inequalities and a perceived lack of transparency in the financial services industry.

According to police figures, about 2,500 people rallied in Frankfurt to march on a route that took them past the headquarters of both the German national bank and the European Central Bank (ECB).


The activist group Attac, which organized the event, said at least 5,000 had attended.

Members of the Occupy Frankfurt group, which has been camped outside the ECB for the past two weeks, have said they plan to remain at the site for two more weeks.

In Berlin, some 1,000 protesters gathered outside the main city hall carrying plaques bearing the message “Occupy Berlin.”

Other slogans included “Capitalism is crisis” and “We are the 99 percent,” the later referring to figures that show one percent of the world’s population holds almost 40 percent of the world’s wealth.

Satirical swipe

Among the more satirical of the protests was a group of young people dressed in ball gowns and suits, chanting “We are the one percent, we are rich and you are not,” as their slogan.

Full Article Here – http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15498212,00.html

Spanish Indignados a Force in Global Movement

Common Dreams
Oct. 29, 2011
By Aaron Lamm

Occupy Wall Street and its U.S. offshoots pale in size compared to their Spanish cousin, which may be taking a leading role in an increasingly globalized and coordinated movement.
 
In Spain, the Occupy protests are known by the nickname 15M, for the date the started, May 15 and as the “Indignados” for those that populate it.

On Oct. 15, these indignant Spaniards spurred a coordinated global protest that spanned 90 countries and 1,000 cities. In Spain, several hundred thousand people participated, supporting the view that the
Indignados have become an inspiration and coordinating force for actions beyond Spain’s borders.


Spanish public broadcaster RTVE estimated that between 6.5 million and 8 million Spaniards have participated in protests during 2011, and according to polls, 80 percent of the Spaniards support the Indignados’ cause, EU Observer reported.

Recently, a group of Spanish Indignados arrived in Brussels, the EU capital, after they walked there from Spain in a trek that took 80 days. They hoped to bring their case to top EU officials. In a YouTube clip, one of the marchers said, “I speak five languages and I’m a physicist, and I’m
unemployed.”

The labor market in Spain looks grim—according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Spain had an overall unemployment rate of 21.2 percent in August 2011, and during the year various sources have put youth unemployment at about twice that figure. Meanwhile, the Spanish government, like most European governments, has had to introduce various austerity measures to deal with its economic problems.

The Spanish grass-roots citizen organization Democracia Real Ya (DRY), which means “real democracy now” has played an especially important role, focusing on demanding an end to austerity measures and a new approach to democracy. Among other things, they have suggested a whole new European Constitution, created in a way similar to how the new Icelandic Constitution is being written, with the help of crowd-sourcing, bringing in suggestions from the people via social media.
The Epoch Times conducted an email interview with Miguel, a Spanish DRY spokesperson who preferred not to give his last name.

Full Article Here – https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2011/10/29-5