Steve G.

Posts Tagged ‘Protest’

Kooky pro-government conspiracy theories

In Activism, Big Brother, Censorship, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, First Amendment, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, Local Politics, Police State, Politics, Protest, Republican, Terrorism, US Government on September 30, 2008 at 2:02 pm

A Letter from the RNC 8

Dear Friends, Family, and Comrades:

We are the RNC 8: individuals targeted because of our political beliefs and work organizing for protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention, in what appears to be the first use of Minnesota’s version of the US Patriot Act. The 8 of us are currently charged with Conspiracy to Commit Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism, a 2nd degree felony that carries the possibility of several years in prison. We are writing to let you know about our situation, to ask for support, and to offer words of hope.

A little background: the RNC Welcoming Committee was a group formed in late 2006 upon hearing that the 2008 Republican National Convention would be descending on Minneapolis-St. Paul where we live, work, and build community. The Welcoming Committee’s purpose was to serve as an anarchist/anti-authoritarian organizing body, creating an informational and logistical framework for radical resistance to the RNC. We spent more than a year and a half doing outreach, facilitating meetings throughout the country, and networking folks of all political persuasions who shared a common interest in voicing dissent in the streets of St. Paul while the GOP’s machine chugged away inside the convention.

In mid-August the Welcoming Committee opened a “Convergence Center,” a space for protesters to gather, eat, share resources, and build networks of solidarity. On Friday, August 29th, 2008, as folks were finishing dinner and sitting down to a movie the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department stormed in, guns drawn, ordering everyone to the ground. This evening raid resulted in seized property (mostly literature), and after being cuffed, searched, and IDed, the 60+ individual inside were released.

The next morning, on Saturday, August 30th, the Sheriff’s department executed search warrants on three houses, seizing personal and common household items and arresting the first 5 of us- Monica Bicking, Garrett Fitzgerald, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, and Eryn Trimmer. Later that day Luce Guillen-Givins was arrested leaving a public meeting at a park. Rob Czernik and Max Specktor were arrested on Monday, September 1, bringing the number to its present 8. All were held on probable cause and released on $10,000 bail on Thursday, September 4, the last day of the RNC.

These arrests were preemptive, targeting known organizers in an attempt to derail anti-RNC protests before the convention had even begun. Conspiracy charges expand upon the traditional notion of crime. Instead of condemning action, the very concept of conspiracy criminalizes thought and camaraderie, the development of relationships, the willingness to hope that our world might change and the realization that we can be agents of that change.

Conspiracy charges serve a very particular purpose- to criminalize dissent. They create a convenient method for incapacitating activists, with the potential for diverting limited resources towards protracted legal battles and terrorizing entire communities into silence and inaction. Though not the first conspiracy case against organizers- not even the first in recent memory- our case may be precedent-setting. Minnesota’s terrorism statutes have never been enacted in this way before, and if they win their case against us, they will only be strengthened as they continue their crusade on ever more widespread fronts. We view our case as an opportunity to demonstrate community solidarity in the face of repression, to establish a precedent of successful resistance to the government’s attempts to destroy our movements.

Right now we are in the very early stages of a legal battle that will require large sums of money and enormous personal resources. We have already been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support locally and throughout the country, and are grateful for everything that people have done for us. We now have a Twin Cities-based support committee and are developing a national support network that we feel confident will help us through the coming months. For more information on the case and how to support us, or to donate, go to http://RNC8.org

We have been humbled by such an immense initial show of solidarity and are inspired to turn our attention back to the very issues that motivated us to organize against the RNC in the first place. What’s happening to us is part of a much broader and very serious problem. The fact is that we live in a police state- some people first realized this in the streets of St. Paul during the convention, but many others live with that reality their whole lives. People of color, poor and working class people, immigrants, are targeted and criminalized on a daily basis, and we understand what that context suggests about the repression the 8 of us face now. Because we are political organizers who have built solid relationships through our work, because we have various forms of privilege- some of us through our skin, some through our class, some through our education- and because we have the resources to invoke a national network of support, we are lucky, even as we are being targeted.

And so, while we ask for support in whatever form you are able to offer it, and while we need that support to stay free, we also ask that you think of our case as a late indicator of the oppressive climate in which we live. The best solidarity is to keep the struggle going, and we hope that supporting us can be a small part of broader movements for social change.

For better times and with love,

the RNC 8: Luce Guillen-Givins, Max Spector, Nathanael Secor, Eryn Timmer, Monica Bicking, Erik Oseland, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald

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Technically legal signs for libraries

In Activism, Big Brother, Censorship, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, First Amendment, Human Rights Abuses, Law Enforcement, Police State, Protest, Terrorism on July 27, 2008 at 1:57 am

From librarian.net

A note to all those dedicated paid LP petitioners

In Activism, First Amendment, Fraud, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Protest on June 29, 2008 at 8:23 pm

To Andy, Paulie, Mark, Gary and all those libertarian activist/paid petitioners:

You are getting screwed by LPHQ! They do not appreciate the hard work you have done for the party as a paid petitioner/activist. They marginalize your abilities to produce signatures. They pay mercenary/renegade petitioners more money and don’t give a fuck about the Libertarian Party and just do it for the quick dollar.

We just finished up a petition drive here in Illinois to put our presidential and US Senate candidates on the ballot and depended on many of you to help us our candidates on the ballot. I did validity rates on many petitioners, paid and volunteer. We had a crew from Chicago that “round-tabled” petitions to make that quick buck. Luckily, I (not National) caught their devious shenanigans after the second signature pickup and were promptly fired. Unfortunately, we spent about 10K for those signatures and most were not used in the final turn-in last Monday. We are very fortunate that we were able to stop that debacle and collect better signature to ensure we will not have to endure a challenge but it came at a cost. I appreciate you and had I run our petition drives across the country it would have been done differently.

Our top gunners should get paid more than these mercenaries only because the party has a history with them and knows what quality signatures you’re able to produce. Obviously, LPHQ is not very efficient with petition drives.

Here’s a few suggestions I would like to make for those paid/activist, Libertarian petitioners currently working in various states.

-If you are currently collecting signatures, do not stop until the drive is done. If the LPHQ ever gets its head out of their asses and start doing things better, they will need you in the future.

-After that drive is done, don’t work on LP ballot access drives in other states. Look to work for other parties and/or pro-freedom initiatives in other states. If LPHQ hires these mercenary petitioners and produce lower validity rates that cause the National ticket to be on less state ballots than their goal, LPHQ will realize that they should have never screwed you guys over.

-Continue to work on LP ballot access drives across the country but realize that you may or may not get paid. Angela Keaton has warned us that the LP will go broke by the end of the election. The LP has opportunists within the party who do fundraising and collect a 40 percent commission, which is ludicrous; the party gets what the party deserves but it may take months before you get paid for your services. Besides do you want to work for a party who devalues your time, effort and pride by paying YOU less for producing better results? The choice is yours; I’m merely making suggestions.

Update on “LFV denied convention press credentials”

In Fraud, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, Politics, Protest on May 18, 2008 at 2:13 am

Today, only one day after LFV was denied press credentials for the Libertarian Convention, I discovered that Last Free Voice is the “Featured Blog” on WordPress for the Libertarian Convention and that it appears multiple times in the Google Top Ten search results for the Libertarian Convention.

In fact, we are the only blog on all of WordPress being featured for covering the Libertarian Convention, and we are featured repeatedly.  We are also the WordPress Featured Blog, as well as being featured repeatedly, for covering the Libertarian Party.

Furthermore, we appear not once, but twice, in the Top Ten Google search results for “libertarian convention”.  The WordPress “Featured Blog” page is also in the top ten for the same search term, effectively placing us in the top ten Google search results not once, not twice, but three times, out of a total of 316,000 search results.  With regard to the search term “last free voice”, which is not at all an uncommon phrase, we are the number one search result out of a total of 16,200,000 hits.

Clearly, we are far more influential than Andrew Davis and the LP would like to believe.  When people google “Libertarian Convention”, they are going to find Last Free Voice immediately and repeatedly; and not the blogs which the LP, in its infinite wisdom, deemed important enough to actually get those credentials.  Our potential audience for what we write about the convention is therefore untold millions, since Google users won’t even know the other blogs exist unless they decide to go through multiple pages of search results (which, as we all know, most people will not do).

At this point it is becoming more and more clear that Andrew Davis just made up his excuse for denying our credentials, since a simple Google search would have revealed all of the above.

LP refuses LFV press credentials for convention

In Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Politics, Protest on May 17, 2008 at 12:40 am

Yesterday, I contacted the Libertarian Party in order to get press credentials for one of our contributors. That contributor will be attending the convention, at no cost to the LP, and reporting on it for Last Free Voice. Today, when I had not yet received a response, I called the LP. I explained why I was calling, and was told that they would look for the email and respond.

I received an email response from Andrew Davis, asking me for the contributor’s name, email address, and telephone number, which I immediately provided. Shortly thereafter, I received a second response from Andrew, which stated

I’m very sorry, but after review, we cannot approve your request.

How very strange that one minute all he needs is the contributor’s information, and the next minute, credentials are being denied.

I responded by email, asking Andrew why the request had been denied and pointing out that at least one other blog had already received press credentials. He (not surprisingly) did not respond.

Eventually I called the LP again, at which time I was told by Andrew that, in his opinion, LFV does not get sufficient traffic to be granted press credentials. However, he admitted that they have granted credentials to other blogs (which is something I already knew). In fact, he was kind of rude about it, which only confirmed in my mind that there is far more to that decision than he would have me believe.

Coincidentally, LFV happens to be one of the very few blogs which regularly does real journalism on libertarian issues. Of course, part of that real journalism included exposing Bob Barr’s support of many pro-war, pro-torture Republican candidates while sitting on the LNC; as well as the fact that his PAC spends almost all its money on “expenses”, with only a very small percentage being donated to candidates.

Did the LP deny credentials because we don’t get enough traffic, as Andrew claimed; or did they deny credentials in an attempt to control and/or punish us after we exposed Bob Barr?

I know what I believe. You can come to your own conclusions.

UPDATE:  I have done my own research, and in only minutes discovered that Last Free Voice is hands-down the most popular site on the internet for covering the Libertarian Convention, appearing multiple times in the top ten Google search results for “Libertarian Convention”, as well as being featured repeatedly on WordPress for covering both the Libertarian Convention, as well as the Libertarian Party.  That being the case, our potential audience is in the millions on any given day.

You’ll have to come up with a better excuse, Andrew, since the one you gave does not even begin to hold water.

The Lonely Libertarian on the Gravel Factor

In Activism, Barack Obama, Democrats, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, People in the news, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Protest, Republican, Terrorism, War on April 25, 2008 at 7:34 pm

From The Lonely Libertarian:

Mike GravelOne more X-factor in the general election- the possibility that the Libertarian party could actually be a factor. Particularly interesting is the candidacy of former Democrat Senator Mike Gravel, who, along with former Republican Congressman Bob Barr, is contending for the Libertarian nomination. In an election where even the Democrats seem basically unwilling to talk about the war, I think the libertarians could siphon off anti-war votes from both the left and the right and I think John McCain’s candidacy could open the door for Republican voters who care more about limited government than the war on terror.

Antiwar songs: “Rooster” by Alice In Chains

In Celebrities, Communism, Entertainment, History, Military, Music, Obituaries, Protest, US Government, Veterans, War on April 22, 2008 at 9:27 pm

Alice In ChainsThis video is especially interesting because it includes snippets of an interview with guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s father, who served two tours in Vietnam. In the father’s interview, he states that he hopes no one else will ever have to go through what he went through.

Jerry Cantrell never even met his father, Jerry Sr. (nicknamed “Rooster”), until he was three years old. Up until then, his father had been a soldier. About his father, Jerry once said:

My dad was trained to be a fucking killer. After that, you can’t just come back home and say, “OK, everything’s cool. I’m going to work 9 to 5 now.” That shit scars you forever.

“Rooster” is Jerry’s tribute to his father’s suffering. I will warn you, though, that the video contains explicit images of war.

For those of you who would prefer to not view images of that nature, this second video is the unplugged version of the same song, which shows nothing but the band performing:

Here are the lyrics, in case any of you can’t make them all out:

Ain’t found no way to kill me yet
Eyes burn with stinging sweat
Seems every path leads me to nowhere

Wife and kids, household pet
Army green was no safe bet
The bullets scream to me from somewhere

Here they come to snuff the Rooster
Yeah here come the Rooster, yeah
You know he ain’t gonna die
No, no, no, ya know he ain’t gonna die

Walkin’ tall machine gun man
They spit on me in my homeland
Gloria sent me pictures of my boy

Got my pills ‘gainst mosquito death
My buddy’s breathin his dyin’ breath
Oh God please, won’t you help me make it through

Here they come to snuff the Rooster
Yeah here come the Rooster, yeah
You know he ain’t gonna die
No, no, no ya know he ain’t gonna die

Alice In Chains is Layne Staley, lead singer/songwriter; Jerry Cantrell, guitarist/vocals/songwriter; Mike Inez, bassist; and Sean Kinney, drummer. AiC was one of the most popular and successful heavy metal bands to come out of the early 90s Seattle music scene, along with Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.

AiC was nominated for a Grammy for “Best Heavy Metal Group”, and nominated for an American Music Award for “Favorite Heavy Metal Artist”.  AiC reached platinum album status with both “Dirt” (which contained “Rooster”) and “Facelift”, and was awarded an MTV Music Award for best video from a film, with “Would” (from the film “Singles”).

Singer Layne Staley, ranked #27 in Hit Parader’s “Heavy Metal’s All Time Top 100 Vocalists” and widely considered one of the most influential singers in rock, struggled with a severe heroin addiction for over a decade, and finally succumbed to the ravages of that addiction in 2002.

RIP, Layne.

Latest from Jeff Bouffard, LP candidate for Congress

In Activism, Communism, Congress, Human Rights Abuses, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Politics, Protest, US Government on April 14, 2008 at 5:01 pm

Jeff BouffardI’m writing to let you know that on Monday, 14 April 2008, I’ll have an opinion piece in the Florida Today regarding the Olympics.  The piece is set to appear in the print and online editions of the newspaper.  Also, there are a few new things on the web site – I hope you’ll take a few minutes to see some of them.  And please spread the good word.

Finally, I’d really like to meet each of you in person.  Anyone who would care to invite his or her friends and family to meet me by hosting a coffee at his home, a local restaurant or social club would be greatly appreciated.  I am available nearly every evening for the next three weeks.  Please email me so that we can arrange it.

In Liberty,
Jeff Bouffard
Libertarian Candidate for Congress
www.electbouf.com

Here is his op-ed in Florida Today; normally I would just post an excerpt and link the rest, but that particular paper has a screwy website, so I’m not sure everyone would be able to easily access it.

Boycott the Beijing Games

Don’t reward China for human rights abuses.

When I was invited to write an op-ed piece for FLORIDA TODAY, many issues flew through my head.

From war to immigration to my tax plan as a Libertarian candidate to replace U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon in Congress, dozens of topics could have been a focus.

But after 15 Congressmen and women made the not even half-hearted effort of asking President Bush to skip the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics this summer, I knew I needed to explain my moral position concerning the games.

All U.S. athletes should boycott the Beijing Olympics this summer. I know this decision will be difficult for any athletes to make because they have trained for years. But when you consider whether many former Olympians proudly displayed their medals from the 1936 games in Nazi Germany, I doubt it.

There are myriad reasons to boycott:

  • TibetAfter years of oppression, Chinese authorities arrested hundreds of Buddhist monks and other protesting Tibetans over the last month.
  • XinjiangA mostly Muslim province north of Tibet, the people of this sparsely populated region also do not consider themselves Chinese but forced integration into Chinese society and arrests are the norm there as well.
  • Sudan/Darfur.Film director Stephen Spielberg resigned as a consultant for the game’s opening ceremonies because of Chinese support for the government of Sudan. China is Sudan’s largest trading partner and many activists are upset the Chinese government does nothing to pressure the Sudanese to end the genocide in Darfur.
  • Taiwan.Chinese hostility toward Taiwan constitutes the single greatest danger to world peace. China insists the re-unification of Taiwan is an “internal affair.” The Taiwanese do not agree.
  • The Chinese Gulag.China’s prison system is the largest in the world. Dozens of human rights activists have been jailed for speaking out against the “Harmonious Society.”

    Ironically, the same day the Olympic Torch was lit a Chinese court sentenced Yang Chunlin to five years in prison. His crime: Collecting 10,000 signatures on a petition that began “We want human rights, not the Olympics.”

    British Foreign Secretary David Miliband doesn’t think a boycott would help human rights issues in China. He also said “engagement, not isolation” of the Chinese is the correct road.

    But more than a few people in Britain compare him to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who thought the best way to deal with Adolf Hitler was to let him have Czechoslovakia in 1939.

    President Bush and Congress have no moral clarity on this vital issue. They have broken moral thermometers themselves by allowing Abu Ghraib and the torturing of prisoners held by the U.S. military.

    The rest of us know torture, oppression of free speech and the denial of legal representation are wrong.

    That’s why U.S. athletes should boycott the Beijing Games. Anything less will glorify and justify the deeply corrupt communist government of China.

  • Bouffard is a Libertarian candidate for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, which includes the southern half of Brevard County. A former Army lieutenant, he lives in Satellite Beach.

    Bush sings “Sunday Bloody Sunday”

    In Activism, Big Brother, Courts and Justice System, Crime, George Bush, Law, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Protest, War on April 5, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    From the comments section …

    In Activism, Immigration, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Music, Politics, Protest on March 31, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    I have no earthly idea why anyone would think this is a song that libertarians would enjoy – and perhaps the person who posted it doesn’t realize how libertarians view immigration, and just looked for blogs where “immigration” was a tag – but we received a comment on the “A Conversation With Mike Gravel” article, asking us to post this video.

    Senator Gravel is for completely open borders, of course, so either this gentleman read the entry and disagreed with that stance, or didn’t read the entry and made the assumption that Senator Gravel is against immigration. It’s really unclear at this point why he posted it here; perhaps he will stop back by and fill us in on his motivations.

    That being said, I am a big proponent of the arts, and like to support struggling musicians and songwriters whenever I can. So I thought I’d be a nice gal and post it as he requested; and perhaps in exchange, some of our readers may wish to educate this gentleman on libertarian views of immigration.

    Here is the comment, as received:

    Hi,

    Can you please place a link on your website / or blog; to this Take Back Our Country Song it’s a patriotic song that is very inspiring, and truthful. I wrote this song after being fed up with what I see happening in my neighborhood and to our country daily on the news.

    I am just an ordinary citizen that went away to serve at age 19. And I am sick and tired of the lies and chaos our ELECTED SELLOUT OFFICIALS has put this country into. So I wanted to do my part, as a soldier of the USANG, I wrote this song and put it on this video.

    My state Louisiana was hit hard by hurricane Katrina and hundreds of illegal aliens moved into our community took away jobs that we Americans were ready to do, and now crime has gone thru the roof. I am sick and tired of these people in my neighborhood and hanging out on our street corners. WE MUST DO SOMETHING TO PUT A STOP TO THIS!

    Please check out my video Take Back Our Country Song on YouTube.com here’s the link. And FORWARD it to everyone on your email list. This is my way of fighting back and giving back to my country.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yl6Ol64aGMY

    Please, I served my country in the US Army National Guards, and I hate what’s happening to our country. We must do all we can to Take Her Back!

    Thank you,
    Richie Collins
    http://FalseArguments.net

    Take Back Our Country

    The YouTube description of the song is as follows:

    Get your copy of the Take Back Our Country song burn it to a CD and get ready to PLAY IT LOUD on May 2008 this is the next planned march of the SPAM (Spanish People Advocacy Movement)! WANTED: Established Male Artist, Establish Male Bands wanted to sing this song! Let’s negotiate you putting this song on your next album release! I am not a singer; I need someone to sing this song for me with a band….etc…. Send me your videos at, mrcfunds@bellsouth.net but you got to get the song first.

    This is my way of doing my part to fight this illegal invasion of our country. This video is a National Boycott against illegal immigration and everything it stands for. All Legal People of this land know there is a right way and a wrong way to do things. And “The American Axis of Evil” know they have done this wrong! (The American Axis of Evil 1. The President 2. The Congress 3. Anyone who thinks illegal immigration is ok, this is done all for GREED. You don’t sell out the country that I served in proudly USANG FOR MONEY! HOW MANY BILLIONS DO DICK CHENEY need? This is harming this nation. Most of our United States Representatives have allowed these illegal aliens to linger in our country. WE THE LEGAL PEOPLE of the United States demand that you DEPORT everyone that has entered illegally! They must come in this country the right way! Please join me at my Blog and to get your copy of Take Back Our Country go to http://www.falsearguments.net

    Thoughts? Comments? Criticisms?

    Dave Grohl’s “Red, White, and Barbeque” Presidential Campaign

    In Activism, Celebrities, Entertainment, George Bush, Humor, Immigration, Music, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Protest, Shine on you crazy diamond, War on March 24, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Dave Grohl on HARP MagazineDave Grohl, formerly of grunge rock groundbreakers Nirvana and founder of the Foo Fighters, has decided we should return to rock’n’roll values in this country, and to that end he has announced he is running as an Independent Presidential Candidate. He recently spoke with HARP Magazine, and here are some excerpts:

    On why he’s the right candidate for the job: “There’s this redneck image of America that’s been cultivated over the last eight years by our redneck president. America has blue states, red states and all kinds of divisions, but we need someone to bring them all together—and that person is me. Every night when I’m on tour, I bring my message to thousands and thousands of people. There’s 10 thousand people that woke up this morning and felt like America is the right place to be because at our show last night they were spilling beer all over themselves and tongue kissing for two hours. What other candidate can do that?”

    On what’s wrong with America: “To keep cool in the summertime as a kid I turned on the hose and I drank from it. I want America to come back to that place where we’re all drinking from the hose. I think that’s a perfect metaphor for what’s gone wrong in this country. Water is now more expensive than gasoline. How is that possible? It’s because in this country, corporate domination dictates our daily lives.”

    On what will bring America together: “I think that what the country needs now is a good, smoky barbecue—family style, at least once a week, winter months included. It’s important that people bring it back to cooking over the fire as a family unit. You know what I do when I sit around a grill with my family? I talk. We talk. It’s something about that hickory smoke that brings my family together—and friends. And that’s where I really get to share and learn with my family and fellow Americans. It’s around that grill. It’s two beers, it’s three beers, it’s four beers, it’s 10 beers. This is what America needs—beer, and barbecue. It’s the red, white and barbecue.”

    On George W. Bush’s 8-year reign: “I can’t think of one president that’s been more detrimental to this country than George Bush. He’s not only set us back 50 years, I think he set us back 10,000 years. Morally this country has become prehistoric. I want us to be morally futuristic. I want to be so forward focused that we redefine American morals: family, music, barbecues.”

    On the immigration issue: “Let me make a musical analogy: I look at America as if it were Wembley stadium—it’s only so big but you can fit a lot of people in it. As president of the United States of America, I promise to rock the fucking house—and everyone’s invited.”

    On the war in Iraq: “I’m going to make war illegal. I’m going to make war against the law. No war. None. Anywhere.”

    On “change”: “I want to present a different kind of change. I want to change change. If you continue to change change then it truly becomes change whether it’s technology, society, the economy, or the spreading of democracy. I want to be the president that takes change and changes it over and over again.”

    Source: HARP Magazine

    Of course, this gives me an excellent excuse to post a Foo Fighters video, so here is “The Pretender”. 😉

    American death toll in Iraq reaches 4000

    In Activism, Children, Congress, Corruption, George Bush, History, Human Rights Abuses, Iraq War, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Middle East, Military, Music, Obituaries, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Protest, Republican, US Government, War on March 24, 2008 at 6:17 am

    Today, the official death toll for American soldiers in Iraq hit 4000. The actual number is undoubtedly higher.

    4000+ Americans are dead, because Bush lied about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction.

    4000+ Americans are dead, because Bush claimed that Osama bin Laden was hiding in Iraq.

    4000+ Americans are dead, because Congress blindly accepted Bush’s lies.

    4000+ American are dead, because Americans reelected Bush for a second term

    4000+ Americans are dead, because the American people elected a Democratic Congress to put an end to the killing, and they failed us miserably.

    There are far more Iraqis dead, though. Just today, soldiers killed a 10-year-old Iraqi girl. They claim they didn’t do it on purpose, but who knows the truth of that situation. When you put soldiers in a country where their lives are constantly at risk, and you arm them with automatic weapons, it is inevitable that many innocents will be killed. Some will be killed accidentally. Some will be killed due to mistaken identity. And some will be killed because the armed soldiers snap under the pressure, and just start killing people.

    Unlike many in the antiwar movement, I don’t blame the soldiers. After all, they are doing what they were trained to do, under circumstances that no human was ever intended to experience; and the vast majority of soldiers became soldiers to protect us, and not to kill innocent civilians. So no, I don’t blame our soldiers when the inevitable happens. I blame Bush and Congress for putting our soldiers in that situation.

    Of course, our tax dollars will be spent for the foreseeable future treating the injuries, physical and mental, those soldiers received while fighting in the war that should never have been fought. Some of them will recover from their wounds, but many won’t. I don’t complain about spending our tax dollars on the soldiers in need of medical and psychiatric care; we owe them that. I do complain that they should never have been sent to Iraq and injured in the first place.

    Let us all look forward to the day when the killing stops, and our soldiers are brought home from the Middle East once and for all. When will that happen? It’s up to the American voters. If Americans put another warmonger in the White House, the blood will be on their hands. It is already on the hands of those who voted Bush for a second term, knowing full well he was a warmonger.

    When considering candidates for the Libertarian presidential nomination, especially given that there are so many candidates brand-new to libertarianism, ask them whether they voted for Bush. If they did, they have blood on their hands, and therefore can never truly represent the Libertarian Party.

    My hands, I’m happy to say, are clean in this situation (though I am not running for any political office). I didn’t vote for Bush the first time, and I actively worked against his candidacy the second time. Many may think my efforts were for naught, but I disagree. The message of true freedom is spread one person at a time.

    I’ve asked this before, and I’ll ask it again. Where is Osama bin Laden? We can see a dime on the sidewalk from outer space, but we can’t seem to find a strange-looking human giant hiding in the desert. I find that extremely hard to believe. I also won’t be the least bit surprised if we suddenly “find” him just in time for the presidential election. Younger readers may not be cynical enough to believe our country would play us for fools like that. To them I would simply say, history has been my lesson; let it be yours as well.

    To that end, I offer the song “End of the Innocence”, which was a hit song when many of our readers were but infants. It applies more today than ever.

    Ninth Circuit finds pre-employment drug testing unconstitutional

    In Activism, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Drug War, Law, Libertarian, Protest on March 22, 2008 at 3:39 am

    ConstitutionPre-employment drug testing has become commonplace. As a result, many job seekers are forced to undergo pre-employment drug testing for even the most mundane and poorly paid positions, such as service positions in grocery stores, convenience store, and the like. Yet, there can be no valid concern that an inebriated store clerk or bag boy poses a real danger to the public safety

    However, increasingly, the appellate courts are determining that drug testing as a condition of employment violates the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, except under certain circumstances. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution states:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probably cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    The most recent case involves a job seeker who was offered a job as a library page, but refused to submit to the pre-employment drug test and as a result of that refusal, the offer was withdrawn. The court in that case, Lanier v Woodburn (9th Circuit) found that the requirement violated the job seeker’s Fourth Amendment rights, since it cannot reasonably be argued that the position is safety sensitive, and noted:

    Jobs are considered safety-sensitive if they involve work that may pose a great danger to the public, such as the operation of railway cars, Ry. Labor, 489 U.S. at 628-29; the armed interdiction of illegal drugs, Nat’l Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab, 489 U.S. 656, 677-78 (1989); work in a nuclear power facility, IBEW, Local 1245 v. United States NRC, 966 F.2d 521, 525-26 (9th Cir. 1992); work involving matters of national security, AFGE Local 1533 v. Cheney, 944 F.2d 503, 506 (9th Cir. 1991); work involving the operation of natural gas and liquified natural gas pipelines, IBEW, Local 1245 v. Skinner, 913 F.2d 1454, 1461-63 (9th Cir. 1990); work in the aviation industry, Bluestein v. Skinner, 908 F.2d 451, 456 (9th Cir.1990); and work involving the operation of dangerous instrumentalities, such as trucks that weigh more than 26,000 pounds, that are used to transport hazardous materials, or that carry more than fourteen passengers at a time, Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters, 932 F.2d at 1295.

    Other positions for which the court cited drug testing as reasonable included teachers, and similar positions wherein the employee would work with children in a capacity which would require they act in loco parentis. In general, the courts have determined that suspicionless drug testing can only be done in light of a special need, and not simply by virtue of drug abuse being a general societal problem, which is the reason given by most employers.

    The tide of the court decisions regarding pre-employment drug testing appears to be turning toward protecting the applicant from an invasive search, except when the employer can show a special need for such testing.

    While it is not yet generally accepted that pre-employment drug testing is, in and of itself, a violation of the right against unreasonable search and seizure, the courts are increasingly determining much of the pre-employment drug testing we see today to be unconstitutional. Unfortunately, as with most challenges of a constitutional nature, the change will not take place overnight, but rather one case at a time, until either laws are passed against the practice, or until employers realize that a challenge to that practice would prove far too costly to render unnecessary drug testing practicable in the long run.

    Hopefully there will soon be a more complete understanding that, minus the ability to demonstrate a legitimate need, pre-employment drug testing is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, and thus unconstitutional in most cases.

    A libertarian, unless they are in a position where public safety is a concern, should always refuse to undergo pre-employment drug testing, even when they are not drug users and thus sure to pass. It is only when employers begin to realize that the most valuable potential employees are refusing to undergo such testing upon constitutional grounds, will they begin to rethink whether it is profitable to their bottom line to continue this ludicrous practice.

    Disturbing medical marijuana case involving an AIDS patient

    In Activism, Big Brother, Children, Civil Liberties, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Drug War, Health, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical Marijuana, Nanny State, Police State, Protest, Science on March 17, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Tom FaltynowiczTom Faltynowicz, a 43-year-old gay rancher in Meade County, South Dakota, was diagnosed with Aquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in 1990, and is currently facing criminal charges for possessing and growing marijuana for medicinal usage.

    For those of you unaware of the specifics of that disease, a patient infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) may or may not develop AIDS. Once infected with HIV, the disease damages the CD4 cells (T-Cells), and in fact uses those cells to replicate within the body; CD4 cells can be replaced through normal process in the early stages of the disease, but eventually the counts start to fall as the cells are overcome by the virus. A CD4 count between 700 and 1000 is considered normal in a non-HIV infected person; while a CD4 count of about 500 is considered normal when the virus is present. A CD4 count below 200 is indicative of AIDS, since it is at that point that the body loses its ability to fight off opportunistic infection.

    Opportunistic infection is any infection which, under normal circumstances, the body could easily fight off. However, due to the lack of CD4 immune cells, AIDS patients are at very high risk of contracting diseases which they would never contract were it not for the virus destroying their immune system. Some diseases are so common in AIDS patients, and so uncommon in non-AIDS patients, that they are considered to be AIDS-defining diseases. Examples of AIDS-defining diseases include Pneumocystis Pneumonia (a fungal infection of the lungs) and Kaposi’s Sarcoma (once believed to be a rare form of cancer, now believed to be caused by Herpes Virus HHV8); these diseases are normally not seen in patients with a normal immune system. While there is viable treatment for many opportunistic diseases, they must be treated swiftly in an AIDS patient due to the patient’s body being unable to fight infection on its own.

    Another important way of measuring HIV is by measuring the viral load. The viral load is the amount of HIV in the body. So while a CD4 count measures the amount of damage HIV has done, a viral load count will measure how much of the virus is actually in the body. In this way, doctors are able to measure whether drugs are working to halt the spread of the virus.

    AIDS is a pandemic first identified in 1981 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), due to Pneumocystis Pneumonia being identified in five homosexual men in Los Angeles. The disease did not take over worldwide as quickly as it is generally believed, though. AIDS has been identified in tissue samples of patients who died of unknown causes as early as 1959; one postmortem case identified the virus in a tissue sample from a 15-year-old boy who died in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1969, though it is still unknown how the boy may have contracted the virus. Some scientists suggest the virus could have first infected humans sometime during the end of the 19th Century, while other scientists suggest it first infected humans during the early 20th century, between 1915 and 1930. Regardless of whether it started during the late 19th Century or early 20th Century, it took many decades for it to even become prevalent enough to be noticed. Since the virus is slow to overtake its host, the window for inadvertent infection of others is years, rather than days or weeks as with most viruses.

    It is unclear exactly how the virus started, but it seems clear that it crossed species from primates (which can carry a disease known as the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) into humans, likely when humans came into contact with the bodily fluids of monkeys, possibly during consumption, hunting or butchering the animals (monkey meat is a delicacy in some areas of the world, and is regularly eaten in some areas of Africa). The virus spread due to a number of factors, including vaccines given with unclean needles in developing countries. While AIDS is now generally viewed as a disease of gay men and intravenous drug users, the truth is far more chilling, since the virus is not contained only within a particular population. Many women and children are infected with the virus, and in some areas of the world, particularly Africa where infected patients do not have access to proper health care, the number of deaths has become catastrophic.

    At this time, there is no cure for HIV, or for AIDS, nor is there a vaccine to prevent transmission. However, scientists have designed a number of drugs inhibit the virus’s replication. To understand how these drugs work, a short primer on the virus is necessary.

    HIV takes over CD4 cells, changing their molecular structure by inserting its own ribonucleic acid (RNA). The virus itself, which is too small to be seen except with an electron microscope, consists of an outer envelope containing the virus and the proteins and enzymes necessary for replication; the envelope has about 72 spikes on its surface. When the virus bumps into a cell coated by the CD4 protein, the spikes stick into the cell and fuse, at which time the inner contents of the HIV envelope is released into the CD4 cell.

    Once inside the cell, the HIV enzyme called reverse transciptase converts the viral RNA into DNA, which is compatible with human genetic material. This DNA is transported to the cell’s nucleus, where it is spliced into the human DNA by the HIV enzyme called integrase. Once it is spliced into the human DNA, the HIV DNA is known as provirus. The provirus may lie dormant within a cell for quite some time. However, when the cell becomes activated, it treats HIV genes in almost the same way as human genes. First it uses human enzymes to convert HIV genes into messenger RNA. The messenger RNA is transported outside the cell nucleus, and is used as a blueprint for producing new HIV proteins and enzymes, much in the same way as the human body normally produce replacement cells.

    Complete copies of HIV genetic material is contained among the strands of messenger RNA produced by the cell. These copies combine with newly made HIV proteins and enzymes to form new viral particles, which are then released from the cell. The enzyme protease plays a vital role of the HIV life cycle, as it chops up long strands of protein into smaller pieces, which are then used to construct mature viral cores. At that point the newly matured HIV particles are ready to infect another cell, and begin the replication process all over again. In this way the virus quickly spreads through the human body, and causes its host to become infectious. HIV is passed to others through bodily fluids; some fluids contain more of the virus than others.

    Contrary to popular belief, people do not die of HIV, or of AIDS. They die of the opportunistic infections which accompany the complete loss of their immune system. Patients therefore must take a strong cocktail of medications to stop the virus from replicating and destroying their immune system. Some common drugs prescribed for AIDS patients, to stop the virus from replicating, include reverse transcriptase inhibitors, which prevent the viral RNA from being converted into human DNA; protease inhibitors, which prevent the virus from creating new mature viral cores; and integrase inhibitors, which prevent the viral DNA from being spliced into the human DNA within the cells.

    Unfortunately, with those life-saving treatments for the virus come life-threatening side effects, from lethal liver damage to an overwhelming nausea which results in starvation and dehydration; when this occurs, it only worsens those same symptoms which can be caused by the virus itself. Over the years many drugs have been discovered to combat the side effects (those same side effects are found in many other medical conditions as well), and to increase the quality of life for those who are infected with the virus; some of those drugs and treatments are pharmaceutical in nature, and some are natural.

    One of the non-pharmaceutical drugs, which has proven very helpful in battling the anxiety, overwhelming nausea and physical wasting which comes with the virus and its treatment, is marijuana. So effective is marijuana that scientists have even made a pharmaceutical version of the drug, used in chemotherapy patients as well as AIDS patients, which contains synthetic THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). However, many patients believe that the natural THC in marijuana works better than the synthetic version in Marinol, and science supports this belief. In studies of marijuana usage for medicinal usage, it was found that other chemicals found in marijuana have additional medicinal effects which complement the effects of THC. Furthermore Marinol is extremely expensive (Tom’s Marinol costs about $2200 per month, so severe is his nausea and gastrointestinal symptoms), and thus the drug is far beyond the financial reach of most patients; and for that reason they cultivate and smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes. While the black market cost of marijuana can be high, the plant can be cultivated at home from seeds, at very little cost to the patient.

    In some states, it is legal for patients with a valid medical prescription to possess certain amounts of dried and cultivated marijuana for personal medicinal use. However, even in those states, the US Government – which has declared that marijuana is an illicit and therefore illegal drug – refuses to permit patients to use the cultivated form of THC. Patients are regularly arrested for merely possessing the substance which allows them to live a more normal life, and which in cases of extreme wasting seen in AIDS, is actually life-saving. This occurs nationwide, including in the states where marijuana is legal for medicinal use.

    I do not advocate the casual use of marijuana (or any other drug, prescription or otherwise) to get “high”. I do strongly advocate the right of physicians and patients to determine the best course of treatment, and I believe the government has no right to interfere in the doctor/patient relationship when the patient is not being placed in untoward danger.

    Enter Tom Faltynowicz. When Tom was diagnosed with AIDS in 1990, he was given “maybe a few years” to live. Eighteen years later, he is in a fight for his life, but it’s a fight of a very different kind.

    In September 2007, law enforcement officials in his native Meade County received an anonymous call, stating that Tom had between 75 and 100 marijuana plants growing behind a metal building on his property. It is believed that the anonymous call came from Tom’s daughter, who was angry with him because he had recently stated his disapproval of her relationship with a particular man.

    When Meade County Investigator Michael Walker and South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation Agent John Griswold arrived at Tom’s home the next day, there were not 75 to 100 plants on the property, or even anywhere near that many; in fact, there were no plants out in the open at all. However, when asked by those officers about the accusation, Tom immediately admitted to growing marijuana to treat his medical condition. He even invited the officers into his home, so they can see where he was growing it, and he was completely cooperative at all times, even according to the police report regarding the incident. All told, the officers found five plants, and about four ounces of dried marijuana. There was never an allegation that the marijuana was being used for anything but his medical condition, and never an allegation that he was selling the marijuana. It remains undisputed that Tom was using the marijuana to treat AIDS, and the side effects of the many potent medications he takes to fight the virus.

    Tom takes a total of four antiretroviral drugs to combat the HIV infection: Combivir (a combination of Retrovir and Epivir), Sustiva, and Viread. Each of these drugs, by themselves, come with potentially fatal side effects. All of these drugs can cause severe nausea, and can result in extreme anxiety as an additional side effect. In addition, Tom has been prescribed Marinol, the synthetic THC drug to combat nausea and vomiting, so there is no question that he suffers the side effects which are treated by marijuana, and there is no question that his side effects are severe based upon his dosage. However, Tom says that the marijuana is far more effective than the Marinol, since Marinol makes him so tired that he cannot function; and his physician is aware of and supports his use of marijuana to treat his symptoms.

    Tom, though he has no prior criminal record with the exception of two prior misdemeanor convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana – both of which occurred after he was diagnosed with AIDS – pled guilty to felony possession of marijuana. He faces a maximum of two years in prison, and a maximum fine of $4000; he could also be given probation. His sentencing date has been set for April 21st, before the Honorable Jerome Eckrich, Circuit Judge. Tom’s Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Traub, will speak at the sentencing hearing. The State Attorney has already said that he will not object to anything Dr. Traub might say. It appears that no one is interested in punishing Tom Faltynowicz; at the same time, under the law, his possession of marijuana – regardless of the reason why he possessed it – is a felony in the state of South Dakota.

    Tom, however, is an exception to the reason that law was written. It was written to stop people from abusing the drug to get high, and to stop them from selling or otherwise providing it to others for the same illicit purpose. It is extremely doubtful the legislature was aware of the medicinal effects of marijuana when that law was passed, and it’s extremely doubtful the legislature ever intended to punish patients with a deadly disease. It’s even possible that the medicinal effects of marijuana were unknown to them when that law was passed, since it is hardly a new law. Nevertheless, since the law exists, it will be enforced, even against people like Tom who are using marijuana strictly for medicinal purposes.

    This raises a number of questions. Even if Tom is merely placed on probation, and even if he stopped smoking marijuana altogether, using Marinol to control his symptoms would result in violation of probation, since he would test positive for THC during required drug tests. If he fails a drug test while on probation, he will be incarcerated.

    If he is incarcerated, he will not only not have access to the drug which he needs to survive without excessive suffering due to overwhelming nausea, vomiting, physical wasting, and extreme fatigue; but the South Dakota Department of Corrections will be forced to pay for the extremely expensive antiretroviral drugs which fight the virus as well as the Marinol, at a cost of thousands of dollars per month to the taxpayers, in addition to the increased cost of incarceration for a man with an infectious deadly disease. As you should understand after my explanation of how those drugs work, and how the virus works, missing even one dose of his antiretroviral drugs could be catastrophic for his health, since it would allow the virus to replicate until the drug was again built up to a therapeutic dosage. Yet in a prison environment there is no guarantee that he will receive his life-sustaining medications at all, much less receive them on the schedule those drugs demand.

    Tom has said that he will not stop using marijuana, because it allows him to live a relatively normal life. Without it, his body is wracked with pain, nausea, and vomiting; he is unable to eat or drink, and thus his body becomes even more weakened, even more unable to fight the virus, and even more prone to the many opportunistic illnesses, any one of which could easily end his life. This is especially true if he is confined in a jail or prison facility, given that there are large numbers of inmates living in close approximation.

    To incarcerate Tom Faltynowicz would therefore place his life at severe risk, and as such would clearly constitute cruel and unusual punishment, as prohibited by the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution. Furthermore, it would serve no purpose to incarcerate him, since his crime is merely possession of a drug which allows him to live with his disease and to continue take the cruel medications which literally keep him alive. He poses no threat to anyone and he is not selling or otherwise distributing the marijuana, nor has it even been suggested that he is selling or distributing the marijuana. Rehabilitation is also not a valid cause for his incarceration, since he merely uses the drug for medicinal purposes, and thus he is not in need of rehabilitation.

    Society would not be served by incarcerating Tom Faltynowicz. The interests of justice would not be served by incarcerating Tom Faltynowicz.

    As such, justice demands that the court show mercy by giving Tom Faltynowicz a suspended sentence, no probation, and whatever fine the court sees fit, as long as it is within Tom’s ability to pay said fine.  The courts should also order the return of Tom’s property; police seized property such as lights, and not just marijuana and implements for its use.  Those lights  should be returned.

    “Girls Gone Wild” founder victimized by “Judge Gone Wild”

    In Celebrities, Censorship, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crazy Claims, Crime, Entertainment, First Amendment, Fraud, Law, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, People in the news, Police State, Politics, Protest, Shine on you crazy diamond, Taxation on March 16, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Joe Francis / Girls Gone WildI am not a fan of “Girls Gone Wild”. In fact, I almost vomit every night when I’m trying to watch South Park and Reno 911, since that’s when most of those commercials seem to air.

    The latest is “The Wildest Bar In America”, and the commercial shows young women engaged in sex acts with one another, in public. If you purchase that one with a credit card (so they can automatically send you more in the future), you get “Finally 18” for free. The voiceover for the latter video says, “These girls have been waiting for their chance to go wild!”

    I’m sorry, but after seeing that commercial – which shows young women masturbating on camera – I’d guess they went wild long before their 18th birthday.

    The thought which always occurs to me when I see those commercials is, I’m glad it’s not my daughter. I’m glad I don’t even have a daughter, because then I don’t have to worry about her getting sauced on Spring Break then going wild on camera. I cannot even imagine the horror of parents across this country when they realize their daughter has appeared in “Girls Gone Wild”, and especially the parents of those girls who actually appear in the commercials.

    However, as much as I hate “Girls Gone Wild”, I feel that I must speak out against what happened to the man behind the videos.

    Joe Francis, the founder of “Girls Gone Wild”, has been in jail for the last year, and could not even post bail to get out. It all started when some parents accused him of filming their underage daughters. Francis claimed they had identification, so he had no way of knowing they were underage and thus he had done nothing wrong. I believe him. After all, he has filmed literally thousands of young women, has made untold millions from doing so, and I find it very hard to believe that he doesn’t check identification. In fact, Francis apparently takes a lawyer with him, to make sure he doesn’t do anything to get himself into trouble. The attorney checks IDs, and has the girls agree to participate both on video and in writing. The video statement is made so that no one can claim they were too drunk or otherwise unable to give consent. Joe Francis is much smarter than people expect him to be.

    At any rate, Francis refused to negotiate in a civil suit brought by the parents of those girls, and he was thrown in jail for it.

    When I first heard this I thought, surely that’s not the real reason he’s in jail. After all, it was a civil suit, not criminal charges. However, sure enough, that’s exactly why he was in jail.

    Then while he was in jail for not negotiating with parents trying to shake him down for a civil suit (let’s be honest, once again, in saying that the “Girls Gone Wild” had actually gone wild long before they ever met Joe Francis) the IRS came a-knockin’. It appears that they claim Joe owes millions in unpaid taxes.

    I’d hate to be Joe Francis, with all those problems.

    This past week, he was finally released from jail after serving 11 months with no bail on the civil contempt charge (though the tax evasion charges are still pending, and he will go to trial on those charges at a later date) and faced a judge in Florida on criminal charges of child abuse and prostitution, related to filming the underage girls (for criminal charges, all that matters is that they were factually under 18). He struck a misdemeanor no contest plea, the judge gave him time served, no probation, no fine, he’s free to go. The only condition was that “Girls Gone Wild” not film there again for three years. That shouldn’t be a problem, given that girls are going wild all over this great nation of ours.

    The problem I see with this, putting aside my personal feelings about his line of business, is that the man should never have been in jail over a civil suit in the first place. Here’s the basic scenario: he got sued by angry parents whose daughters used fake IDS to claim they were of legal age, the judge told the parties to work out a settlement, he didn’t want to work out a settlement because he thought he’d done nothing wrong since he was actually the one defrauded, so the judge threw him in jail for civil contempt. Personally, I think the judge showed his personal bias in the case, by throwing a man in jail simply because he preferred for a jury decide if he had done anything wrong. I think Francis is right, and I seriously doubt a civil jury would find against him, given all the safeguards he had taken against filming underage girls.

    The problem with this is that, at the time he was originally incarcerated, no jury had ever determined that he had done anything wrong, civilly or criminally, and the criminal charges against him were not even close to being capital crimes, so he was entitled to bail. Frankly, I get the impression that they just didn’t want him in their area, documenting the fact that their little girls are going wild.. Maybe one of the girls who went wild is the niece of a friend of a friend of the judge, who knows.

    Overall, while I am definitely not a fan of “Girls Gone Wild”, I am a fan of the Constitution, and under the Constitution, what happened to Joe Francis should never happen to anyone.

    The RIAA has finally lost what little bit of mind it started out with…

    In Celebrities, Courts and Justice System, Crazy Claims, Entertainment, Law, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, Music, Protest on January 4, 2008 at 12:38 am

    RIAA posterThe RIAA, the recording industry mouthpiece responsible for suing everyone from pre-teens to grannies for downloading music online, has now suggested that it is against the law even for consumers to copy a CD onto their own computer, for their own personal use, or to loan a CD to someone else for them to listen to it.

    When I read that, I threw up into my mouth a little bit. Do you have any idea how many albums I loaned out and/or borrowed when I was a teenager? Yeah, I know, I’m dating myself by referencing albums. Yet, I’m sure teens today do the same thing with CDs, and you know what? I don’t see a damn thing wrong with doing that. They bought it, it’s theirs, and they can do with it as they please.

    According to The Washington Post:

    The industry’s lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are “unauthorized copies” of copyrighted recordings.

    “I couldn’t believe it when I read that,” says Ray Beckerman, a New York lawyer who represents six clients who have been sued by the RIAA. “The basic principle in the law is that you have to distribute actual physical copies to be guilty of violating copyright. But recently, the industry has been going around saying that even a personal copy on your computer is a violation.”

    RIAA’s hard-line position seems clear. Its Web site says: “If you make unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings, you’re stealing. You’re breaking the law and you could be held legally liable for thousands of dollars in damages.”

    Whether customers may copy their CDs onto their computers—an act at the very heart of the digital revolution—has a murky legal foundation, the RIAA argues. The industry’s own Web site says that making a personal copy of a CD that you bought legitimately may not be a legal right, but it “won’t usually raise concerns,” as long as you don’t give away the music or lend it to anyone.

    The Howell case was not the first time the industry has argued that making a personal copy from a legally purchased CD is illegal. At the Thomas trial in Minnesota, Sony BMG’s chief of litigation, Jennifer Pariser, testified that “when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song.” Copying a song you bought is “a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy,’ “ she said.

    The industry “will continue to bring lawsuits” against those who “ignore years of warnings,” RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy said in a statement. “It’s not our first choice, but it’s a necessary part of the equation. There are consequences for breaking the law.” And, perhaps, for firing up your computer.

    They’ve GOT to be kidding.

    If I buy a book and loan it to someone else to read, am I violating the author’s copyright? Of course not, especially since libraries are made to do exactly that. Yet it takes a LOT longer to write a book, than it does to record a CD, and arguably requires far more intelligence and (in many cases) more talent. Why is it that writers aren’t screaming about this, while musicians are? I’d guess it’s because writers are smarter than musicians, but we already knew that.

    Libraries now loan out CDs, they’ve been doing that for quite a while. Is the RIAA going to sue libraries for loaning out CDs, or will they pick and choose who they are going to sue? Outrageous.

    Now, I’m not into downloading music, never have been. However, I’m getting so annoyed with these RIAA holier-than-thou assholes that I’m tempted to start downloading the hell out of music I already own, just to prove a point.

    If I buy a CD, the music is mine forever. I can copy the music files onto my computer in case the CD ever gets scratched, I can post a song on my website, I can loan the CD to a friend so they can listen to it. That’s all called “Fair Use”. If the CD really sucks, I can use the CD itself as a frisbee to play with my dogs (I don’t suggest that, because dogs can get hurt on it) or I can use it as a coaster. What I do with it is nobody’s business but mine, because I own it. I feel confident that, when and if the RIAA’s newest ludicrous claims are ever litigated, the courts will agree with me.

    What the RIAA folks don’t seem to understand (or maybe they’re starting to figure it out, time will tell) is that music consumers are rebelling, big time. CD sales were down 20% from last year. People are paying for downloads instead, so they get only the songs they want (as opposed to buying a CD, where you are paying even for songs you don’t want). The industry is changing, and if the RIAA and the artists don’t change with it, they’re in for a world of hurt.

    Truthfully, I won’t feel sorry for them if they end up going broke. I bust my ass to write for a living, when I’m writing I’m working 18 hours a day, sometimes for months on end. I’ve got a few stories I’ve been chasing for years, at great cost to me in both time and money. Yet you don’t see me bellyaching because the local library loaned my work to multiple people without paying me for it each time they loan it out.

    By the way, I blame this entire mess on Metallica. They were upset because people were downloading their music on Napster, and raised hell and started this entire mess. The problem is, Metallica really isn’t all that talented, and their music isn’t all that unique. It’s not as if they created the musical equivalent of War and Peace, after all.

    The RIAA needs to understand that it is going too far, and their ownership myopia is going to start backfiring on them with juries. Just hide and watch, you’ll see that I’m right. Jury nullification is alive and well in this country, and jurors are not going to find anybody liable for thousands of dollars in damages merely for copying a CD onto their own computer for personal use, or for loaning a CD to their friend.

    Originally posted by ElfNinosMom on Adventures in Frickintardistan

    Reno Gonzalez to accompany Cindy Sheehan to Iraq

    In Iraq War, Military, Politics, Protest, War on July 20, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    Reno GonzalezFrom Reno Gonzalez’s myspace blog…..

    Understand this please…
    Current mood: peacefulfor those that do not yet understand; I am not at Elaine or Ed’s home any longer.

    There are three stories, what I was told by Ed and what Ed tells others, then the real reason. You can go ask ed why, I am tired of the lies flying around. Just another distraction from the stand I have taken on and it needs support.

    Understand this…

    I am working at holding our very own government accountable for the wrongs in the past and in the here and now.

    I am not holding a protest march, not asking for permission to stand on a corner to tell others the truth… I am not giving into the non laws that control us.

    I was sad to leave the home, but they made the choice to ask me to leave. But that does not mean much to me really. Sitting on my ass waiting for what? Security, I gave my two cents… And got nothing.

    Waiting? For what? Ask to leave? Yes I was, but being on the move is where I am more at ease. Waiting for what!?!

    If not me then who? If not now then when?

    I have not gone home. I have been helping others setup their own orgs to networks and reach out to others…

    I am not going home. Not while I still have the means… And the means I have. Thanks to your very own support and from the donations to the cause that moves this movement forward.

    I will not ask for permission to continue, I have the personal responsibility to push myself forward. I determine my own level of involvement.

    I sit on my ass only when I have to drive and eat. Sometimes both of those at the same time.

    I cannot just sit and wait for others to wake up. So I am pushing myself to find others that are ready to cut the bullshit off. Too god damn many are hurt everyday just waiting… fuck that!

    I have some interesting news for you all…

    For those of you that did not know, Cindy Sheehan is going to Jordan, Syria and then to Iraq as part of her peace efforts.

    A good friend of mine called and updated me about the Camp Casey’s change of command and then went on to explain the peace efforts that he will be joining Cindy Sheehan on. After a long pause, I offered my services to the group going.

    He and I talked at length about what would be expected and I assured him I was ready. This is not my first time to Iraq and this is not my first time at a war zone. Nor is it my first time placing myself in harms way.

    It has occurred to many that I have been allowed to travel freely about after my time with the Elaine and Ed Brown.

    And I myself wonder; along with others if I will be grabbed at the airport or will they wait to allow me to leave and have someone else do their dirty work… Either way… This is new for me…

    A chance to work with people that are known and actively working to end what I first saw as a must be stopped war.

    I mean I have done the anti war marches and the peace marches, but none of them I felt really did anything. And the coverage was just suck.

    Cindy on the other hand, moves around and gets in people’s faces and demands answers. And demands them then and there. My kinda activist.

    I remember hearing about Cindy going to Cuba, and I so fucking wanted to go meet that group there… But instead I set my focus on something that could be tracked and explained to bring our government back to the people’s will and control; and hold those that lied accountable for their actions.

    On Easter weekend of this year I met Cindy in person. It was part of my trip on my way to offer my services to Elaine and Ed Brown. Funny how some things work out.

    Once I have things all set I will update my status on my work here at home. Perhaps I could blog about my account of what happens over seas…

    IF, I am not able to go with them on their “Peace Efforts”… Then I will carry on here. California and Arizona have been asking for a meeting there and I want to go talk to them.

    Plus I understand that Bree Walker would like to speak with me… I would love to visit Camp Casey again…

    Reno

    I am glad to hear that someone with experience in a war zone will be accompanying Ms. Sheehan, and I send their entire peace party the very best wishes for a safe and fruitful journey.

    Happy Bastille Day. We need a new one.

    In Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, George Bush, Guantanamo, History, Human Rights Abuses, Personal Responsibility, Police State, Politics, Protest, Second Amendment, Terrorism, War on July 15, 2007 at 6:40 am

    Originally posted yesterday on my blog for Bastille day. Forgot to transfer it over til today. Oh well, better late than never…

    According to wikipedia,

    On 5 May 1789, Louis XVI convened the Estates-General to hear their grievances. The deputies of the Third Estate representing the common people (the two others were clergy and nobility) decided to break away and form a National Assembly. On 20 June the deputies of the Third Estate took the Tennis Court Oath, swearing not to separate until a Constitution had been established. They were gradually joined by delegates of the other estates; Louis started to recognize their validity on 27 June. The Assembly re-named itself the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July, and began to function as a legislature and to draft a constitution.

    The blue-blooded Chimperror, Cesar Potus George Dubai-ya Bushitler II, has brung back the clergy and the nobility back to a level of undue influence in civic life. Perhaps we need a new storming of the Bastille?

    In the wake of the 11 July dismissal of the royal finance minister Jacques Necker, the people of Paris, fearful that they and their representatives would be attacked by the royal military, and seeking to gain arms for the general populace, stormed the Bastille, a prison which had often held people arbitrarily jailed on the basis of lettre de cachet. Besides holding a large cache of arms, the Bastille had long been known for holding political prisoners whose writings had displeased the royal government, and was thus a symbol of the absolutism of the monarchy.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. The general populace being increasingly outgunned by regime agents? Check. People jailed arbitrarily? Check. Political prisoners? Check. Absolutist, hereditary rulers? Check.

    The storming of the Bastille was more important as a rallying point and symbolic act of rebellion than a practical act of defiance.

    Shortly after the storming of the Bastille, on 4 August feudalism was abolished and on 26 August, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was proclaimed.

    Ending feudalism and having citizens rights? Yeah, we kinda need that again. Check!

    UCLA student handcuffed and repeatedly tasered for refusing to show ID

    In Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Communism, Constitutional Rights, Cops Gone Wild, Human Rights Abuses, Iran, Law Enforcement, Middle East, Police Brutality, Police State, Protest, Terrorism on June 28, 2007 at 3:54 am

    Per YouTube description:

    Nov 14th, 2006, around 11:30 pm, Powell Library CLICC computer lab, UCLA: student shot with a Taser multiple times by UCPD officers, even after he was cuffed and motionless.According to eye witnesses, it started when student Mostafa Tabatabainejad did not show a Community Service Officer his student ID. Eye witnesses said the student was on his way leaving the lab when a UCPD officer approached and grabbed him by the exit of the lab. He objected to the physical contact by loudly repeating “don’t touch me”, and this is the point where the video starts.

    According to wikipedia, Mostafa Tabatabainejad is a fourth-year student of philosophy and Middle Eastern and North African studies at UCLA. He is an American citizen of Iranian descent. He was 23 years old at the time of the incident and is Baha”i’ by religion.