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Former judge calls America a police state

Marc
© YouTube Screen Capture
Marc Victor at the Casey Research Conference.
Constitutional and civil rights lawyer Marc Victor answered the question "Is America a police state?" at the recent Casey Research conference in San Antonio.

Frequently in the news while defending clients against police corruption and government abuse, Victor cut right to the chase. "Let's get this straight," he said. "We're a police state. There is just no question that we're a police state."

Victor made the case that the written constitution has been easily bypassed and ignored in a number of ways, something he knows first hand after being kicked off the bench as a judge in Arizona for publicly announcing that he believes that the War on Drugs is unconstitutional.

"The only thing that matters, if you're interested in a free society," is the question, "Do you have a significant percentage of the people with whom you live that have in their hearts and minds a desire for freedom?" according to Victor.

"Today, unfortunately, we have a huge, significant amount of people who are just simply for a cradle-to-grave welfare state. That's what they like. They're for big government. They don't call it tyranny, but I would call it tyranny."

Arrow Down

Egyptian student arrested for carrying George Orwell's novel 1984

1984
© Egypt Independent
Reader holding a copy of George Orwell’s 1984, 9 June 2013.
Security services arrested a student in front of the main gate of Cairo University for carrying George Orwell's novel 1984, which tackles corruption and dictatorial military regimes.

According to investigations supervised by Major General Mahmoud Farouk, head of Giza investigators, student Mohamed T., 21, who resides in the neighborhood of Warraq, was arrested Sunday while in possession of two cell phones without batteries, two USB drives, a hard disk and a copy of the novel 1984 that speaks about a dictatorial ruling party that criminalizes political rebellion.

The security says they found also notes on the student referring to the Islamic caliphate and how it should be applied in a country, according to investigations.

"They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal...We know what no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship," Orwell says in his novel.

Yoda

How to stop the psychopathic oil, gas companies - the Way of the Warrior

The Unist'ot'en Camp Resistance
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© Unistotencamp.com
With a newly elected Congress gearing up to pass Keystone, the inspiring story of the Unist'ot'en Camp, an indigenous resistance community established in northwest Canada to protect sovereign Wet'suwet'en territory and blockade up to 10 additional proposed pipelines aimed at expanding Alberta Tar Sands operations. The Uni'stot'en Clan, which has families living in cabins and traditional structures in the direct pathway of the Northern Gateway and Pacific Trails fracking lines, argues that "since time immemorial" they have governed Wet'suwet'en lands, which thus remain unceded and not subject to Canadian law "or other impositions of colonial occupation" - an argument that has been sustained in court cases, and bolstered by the camp's recent peaceable ejection of a drilling crew..
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© Unistotencamp.com
Uni’stot’en Clan traditional living structure
Camp leaders note that delays caused by their and other grassroots blockades are said to be costing Kinder Morgan and other companies up to $88 million a month. Though the companies have filed multi-million suits against camp leaders, they argue that Wet'suwet'en law still applies to all unceded territories - where, in fact, indigenous people probably outnumber settler people" - thus requiring the consent of the traditional governments. "Our Chiefs have said no to these projects, and no means no," says Freda Huson, Unist'ot'en Clan member and camp spokesperson. "You can't continue to bulldoze over our people. Our lands. Our final say."

Comment: Give 'em hell!


Smoking

First tobacco ban in U.S. proposed in Westminster, MA

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© AP/Elise Amendola
Brian Vincent poses in front of a large display of tobacco products at Vincent's Country Store in Westminster, Mass., Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014. Local officials are contemplating what could be a first: a blanket ban on all forms of tobacco and e-cigarettes, leaving some shop owners fuming.
The cartons of Marlboros, cans of Skoal and packs of Swisher Sweets are hard to miss stacked near the entrance of Vincent's Country Store, but maybe not for much longer: All tobacco products could become contraband if local health officials get their way.

This sleepy central Massachusetts town of 7,700 has become an improbable battleground in America's tobacco wars. On Wednesday, the Board of Health will hear public comment on a proposed regulation that could make Westminster the first municipality in the United States to ban sales of all tobacco products within town lines.

"To my knowledge, it would be the first in the nation to enact a total ban," said Thomas Carr, director of national policy at the American Lung Association. "We commend the town for doing it."

Town health agent Elizabeth Swedberg said a ban seemed like a sensible solution to a vexing problem.

"The tobacco companies are really promoting products to hook young people," she said, pointing to 69-cent bubblegum-flavored cigars, electronic cigarettes and a new form of dissolvable smokeless tobacco that resembles Tic Tac candies. "The board was getting frustrated trying to keep up with this."

Citing a report from the U.S. surgeon general, Swedberg said that if tobacco use continues unabated, 5.6 million American children who are younger than 18 today will die prematurely because of smoking. Change, she said, "has to start somewhere."

Brian Vincent would rather it not start with his family-owned grocery on Main Street. Tobacco products, he said, make up more than 5 percent of sales.

A quarter of his customers purchase tobacco, Vincent said, and while they're there, they often pick up a gallon of milk or one of the fresh-baked maple-candied bacon chocolate chip cookies that are displayed by the check-out aisle.

Comment: Contrary to what the Board of Health and the American Lung Association sez, science does not support that tobacco is bad for you! See:

Let's All Light Up!

Let's all light up! What you don't know about tobacco


Stock Down

Enjoy this period of false stability. We're on the brink of an economic collapse

confused person
The idea that the United States is on the brink of a horrifying economic crash is absolutely inconceivable to most Americans. After all, the economy has been relatively stable for quite a few years and the stock market continues to surge to new heights. On Friday, the Dow and the S&P 500 both closed at brand new all-time record highs. For the year, the S&P 500 is now up 9 percent and the Nasdaq is now up close to 11 percent. And American consumers are getting ready to spend more than 600 billion dollars this Christmas season. That is an amount of money that is larger than the entire economy of Sweden. So how in the world can anyone be talking about economic collapse? Yes, many will concede, we had a few bumps in the road back in 2008 but things have pretty much gotten back to normal since then. Why be concerned about economic collapse when there is so much stability all around us?

Brick Wall

Palestinians mark Berlin Wall anniversary by breaking through West Bank barrier

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© AFP
Palestinian youths, one holding a national flag, appear through a hole they dug in the controversial Israeli separation wall in the West Bank village of Bir Nabala -between Jerusalem and Ramallah- on November 8, 2014 as celebrations today mark 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
A group of Palestinian activists dug a hole through the Israeli separation barrier in the West Bank on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

A small group of activists associated with resistance movements in villages around northwest Jerusalem hacked away at the barrier, known by Palestinians as the "Apartheid Wall," on Saturday as a symbolic gesture to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall and to draw attention to their plight.

"No matter how high walls are built, they will fall. Just as the Berlin Wall fell, the wall in Palestine will fall, along with the occupation," the activists' said in a statement Saturday.

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© AFP
Israel began constructing the expansive barrier, which divides the West Bank village of Bir Nabala, situated between Jerusalem and Ramallah, in 2002. Israelis argue that the wall serves a crucial defensive purpose, indicating a drop in attacks since its construction as proof of its efficacy.

The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B'Teselem) decries the wall as a source of suffering for the Palestinian people. "[The wall] cut social ties and isolated villages from their farmland and citizens from their livelihoods," the organization said.

Comment: Although this was symbolic for the Palestinians, it will do little to slow down or stop Israel's wall building efforts for "defensive purposes".


People

Facing up to the capitalist within

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As with the social changes that were necessary to end the African slave trade, a transformation of modern capitalism requires that we step outside of ourselves and examine our own roles within the system objectively.
John Newton (1725-1807) is best known for penning the hymn "Amazing Grace" in the later years of his life as a minister in the Church of England. In 1788 he published a pamphlet entitled "Thoughts Upon the African Slave Trade", in which he spoke out strongly against what he called "a disgraceful branch of commerce." But for much of his life Newton worked on slave ships, including four years as captain of his own vessel taking stolen African men and women to the American colonies.

Newton's transition from slaver to minister and activist was inspired by one particular event. On a return journey to Liverpool in 1748, a great storm had threatened to sink his ship, and the fear he was forced to face affected him profoundly, changing his views about the people who were imprisoned beneath his feet. He referred to this event as his "great deliverance," and afterwards gave up the slave trade to campaign against it from his new position in the church.

What had happened to Newton to cause such a change? Did he suddenly develop a new sense of empathy with others, or was it always there, suppressed by the social norms of the time - the collective stories that were told to justify the enslavement of a different race?

We live our lives through stories that reinforce certain values and beliefs. What's true or false, acceptable or not, are constructs that are held aloft like a scaffold in the collective psyche. But when a critical mass of individuals lets go of these stories, a tipping point is reached, and the scaffold collapses. So it was when the slave trade was abolished.

A cascade of individuals like Newton let go of the story that slavery was acceptable, and change rapidly accelerated. As the historian Adam Hochschild has written, "If you had proposed, in the London of early 1787, to change all of this, nine out of ten people would have laughed you off as a crackpot. Yet by 1807 the British Parliament had banned the slave trade."

Quenelle

Remembrance day farce: Wear a black poppy instead

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© Unknown
There were over 16,000 conscientious objectors in the First World War, many of whom, like these, were imprisoned.
On 6 November 2014, counter-militarism activists pasted 16,000 black poppies around the city of Glasgow to appeal to the public to consider what Remembrance Sunday means.

Each poppy represents one of the conscientious objectors, making up 16,000 war resistors who took a stand against their enlistment during the First World War.

The black poppies, which can currently be seen in clusters along streets, appeared in anticipation for the WW1 centenary Remembrance Day commemoration that will take place this Sunday to provide an alternative message to the remembrance industry which is choked on red glorifying poppies, nationalism and militarism.

The black poppy is a symbol which commemorates all those who have died, and are still dying, due to imperialist war and its legacy. It remembers dead soldiers, dead civilians, dead conscientious objectors. It remembers those who have fallen victim to invasion, occupation, gender-based violence, starvation and poverty. It remembers the maimed, the wounded, those made homeless or afflicted with physical and mental illnesses due to war.

Comment: Remembrance day is like a sick joke played on us by the bloodthirsty elite who are ultimately behind all wars.


Question

To vote or not to vote? It depends

uncle sam
© Dees Illustration
On November 5th, upon waking to discover the results of the 2014 elections, Conservatives and Republicans gloated in rapturous revelry, Democrats and Liberals pined and lost their cool on social media, and the vast majority of Americans didn't really care one way or the other. In fact, one would hazard a guess that many Americans had absolutely no clue as to what actually happened on November 4th.

Despite the reactions of American voters - either elated or dejected after the election results came in - the truth is that the results don't actually matter in terms of how the country will be run. My proof for this claim? Democrats and Republicans were elected. That should be proof enough.

Every election cycle, parties change positions and immediately begin to enact the very same policies they were elected to stop. Democrats support war, GMOs, Wall Street and the police state and Republicans pretend to oppose it (sort of). Elect Republicans and Republicans then support war, GMOs, Wall Street and the police state while Democrats pretend to oppose it (sort of). The American people, baffled by television programs, mainstream news, entertainment, and sports, scarcely recognize the fact that the entire political paradigm that they have bought into, as well as their own ideals, did an about face right before their eyes.

Megaphone

Human decency prohibited: Police arrest 90 year-old homeless advocate for feeding the homeless

Being hungry and without a place to live shouldn't be a criminal offense.

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My dad, managing to look awesome even in a hairnet.
When my dad retired a couple years ago, I was terrified.

My dad is a keeping-busy kind of guy, rarely content to sit around the house, not a tremendous fan of television that's not basketball or football (excepting the occasional "I just discovered 'Game of Thrones'!" binge-watch), and he gets prickly with nothing to do. We're alike in that way. So when he stopped working, I worried: would he be bored? Would he be unhappy? What on earth is he going to do all day?

In the absence of an office and desk, however, he rapidly adopted two new activities: golf, which he had barely played in his life but which follows in the great tradition of recent retirees, I suspect in part because it is a slow game that takes forever; and working at a local soup kitchen.

My father volunteers at the Jubilee Center of South Broward, a rare five-days-a-week operation that feeds between 120 to 160 homeless people a day. It's located in an older part of Hollywood, Florida, a city that lies just between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, originally founded in 1925 and named after Hollywood, California by a man who dreamed of creating a similar movie-making hub on the east coast. It is also where I was born.