Category Archives: Social Justice

The Pepper Spraying Cop gets Canned – finally

Remember this guy?

He was finally fired.
His name is John Pike, the the now former Lieutenant with the UC Davis police force. His 2010 salary was listed at just over $110k and he’s been on paid leave (aka vacation) since the incident – that’s ten months (see the article here). The police Chief Annette Spicuzza “retired in April after an independent panel issued an investigative report that severely criticized her leadership of the Police Department and found fault with much of the university leadership during the crisis.”

So a ten month paid vacation and a retirement – boy, those are some serious…ly pathetic consequences for hurting the people you were tasked to protect and serve. And, those are the only two that have been made known publicly – there is a lawsuit pending now around making the identities of the other officers public.

It is difficult to determine what was so difficult to determine in this investigation. The students did disobey a police order, but they were seated with linked arms and were completely non-violent. If you see the video, not a one of the seated protesters look like they even approach 200lb – I’m quite sure they had assumed they would be arrested and removed one by one by the officers in the tradition of peaceful civil disobedience.

So many of us have nothing but our bodies to use in our fight for our values. Many of us do not believe that violence solves problems and follow in the tradition of Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. When the ideas of the minority butt up against the ideas of the powers in charge, the playing field is obviously quite slanted in favor of those already in power.

It is cowardly for those in power to use violent chemical forces in response to ideas and words. It is cowardly to hurt someone when what they want is a seat at the table to take part in a real discussion. This interaction is a microcosm of what is happening to many unarmed simple citizens of the planet that will not be a doormat for the powers that be.

Why was UC Davis so afraid of the protests? Why did they not channel the energy into a forum where folks could be heard? Why the riot gear and extreme measures. What was the threat that the students presented? Who was being protected? How many police officers across this country empathize not with the students, but with the sprayer, John Pike.

Some of the pepper spray victims are suing Pike, the university and others. I think he should have to give the paid leave money back anyway.

CEOs get to ruin companies and parachute away with millions, politicians can shoot people and get away with no questions asked, the 1% can pay someone to arrange subsidies for themselves instead of paying taxes. Where does one get beknighted or step through this looking glass of privilege? Why do the rest of us have to follow the rules or face the consequences?

Good riddance John Pike. I hope you have a conscience and it does what our justice system has not yet done.

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Man Camps and Sacrifice Zones

There  is no limit to industry’s reach. The corporation – who some want to be regarded as “people”- has no moral guidance, no mission of ethics, no feelings. Corporatists often throw up their hands and say, “What can we do? We are legally beholden to the shareholders to make as much money as possible” the part about disregard for quality of life for anyone but upper management goes unspoken but is understood.” As Chris Hedges says, “These corporations know only one word, and that’s more”.

Oil industry Man Camps Offer No Stress Living – this article offers a local paper’s view on the fracking boom. Reducing options, free time, and family time relates to being stress free in a similar way that a prison cell mate relates to feeling secure.

Another description of the man camp in assumably favorable terms -you will find the link on their own company’s website here.

The camps are basically a series of mobile homes linked together, only each doublewide is flanked with double occupancy bedrooms. Dining is group, there are group exercise rooms,  Here is one excerpt from the Billings Gazette:

Crew camp compounds are typically are made up of small, bedroom-sized units that are interconnected. The facilities usually are leased by companies in the oil industry, and can be deconstructed in days.

“When the bust comes, and it will, these facilities will be farming fields again,” Lash said. “We’re not sticking around, and will move them to the next great opportunity.”

Most counties in western North Dakota are ill-equipped to handle the swarms of workers, many of whom have been forced to live in campers, cars and tents.

“We’re running out of water, out of sewer, out of electricity, and until those get taken care of, how do you add more man camps to the mix?” said Dan Kalil, a commissioner in Williams County, the hub of the oil bonanza.

In Dickinson, in the southwest corner of the oil patch, the planning and zoning commission on Wednesday approved what would be the state’s largest man camp, a 3,000-unit facility in an industrial area near the wastewater treatment plant.

It makes no sense. The workers can’t afford to live there, so they fly home every two weeks to see their family. If an industry can’t allow a human being to live a decent life with their family (not next to a wastewater treatment facility), they should have to offset the environmental costs to the rest of us for their wreckless encouragement of such a high carbon impact lifestyle. Government subsidies to these fossil fuel companies should cease immediately – fracking included.
The article later speaks of the boomtown/ghostown phenomenon in a small town; like a gold/oil/gas rush. Longtimers have high hopes for the revival of their town, industry stays focused on the bottom line, and everyone else scrambles for a living wage any way they know how, moving where the work takes them.

As if that wasn’t cheery enough, here’s a companion piece, aRawStory article featuring Christopher Hedges with Bill Moyers. I’ll leave you with this (and there is a video at the end of this article) to ponder. Perhaps tomorrow we can discuss some of the issue that arise. I would love to hear your input.

Journalist and activist Chris Hedges appeared Friday on Moyers & Company to talk about the conclusions of his latest book. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is dedicated to investigating the most exploited and impoverished places in America, places that he says are “virtually off the radar screen in terms of the commercial media.”

“It’s absolutely imperative that we begin to understand what unfettered, unregulated capitalism does,” Hedges emphasized. “These are sacrifice zones, areas that have been destroyed for quarterly profit. And we’re talking about environmentally destroyed, communities destroyed, human beings destroyed, families destroyed. And because there are no impediments left, these sacrifice zones are just going to spread outward.”

When Moyers asked Hedges what he meant by saying there are no impediments left, he explained, “The political system is bought off, the judicial system is bought off, the law enforcement system services the interests of power, they have been rendered powerless.” Even worse, Hedges believes these devastated communities represent the future for all of us.

Hedges was particularly eloquent in describing the coal-mining areas of West Virginia, which “in terms of national resources is one of the richest areas of the United States [but] harbor the poorest pockets of community, the poorest communities in the United States. Because those resources are extracted, and that money is not funneled back into the communities.”

“Not only that,” he continued, “but they’re extracted in such a way that the communities themselves are destroyed. … They no longer want to dig down for the coal, and so they’re blowing the top 400 feet off of mountains poisoning the air, poisoning the soil, poisoning the water. … You are rendering the area moonscape. It becomes uninhabitable. … It’s all destroyed and it’s not coming back.”

Hedges went on to talk about Camden, New Jersey, which since the disappearance of manufacturing has become the poorest city in the United States and one of the most dangerous. “It’s a dead city,” he said. “There’s nothing left. There is no employment. Whole blocks are abandoned. The only thing functioning are open-air drug markets, of which there are about a hundred. And you’re talking third or fourth generation of people trapped in these internal colonies. They can’t get out.”

He spoke also about the Pine Ridge Reservation and migrant workers in Florida, saying, ” It’s greed over human life. … We, in that biblical term, we forgot our neighbor. And because we forgot our neighbor in Pine Ridge, because we forgot our neighbor in Camden, in Southern West Virginia, in the produce fields, these forces have now turned on us. They went first, and we’re next.”

“These corporations know only one word, and that’s more,” Hedges went on. “And because the mechanisms of governance can no longer control them, there is nothing now within the formal mechanisms of power to stop them from the creating, essentially, a corporate oligarchic state.”

“We have become complicit,” he noted sadly, “because we’ve accepted this as a kind of natural law. And the acceptance of this kind of behavior, and even the celebration of it is going to ultimately trigger our demise.”

 

 

 

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LIBOR: The Market is a Fairytale

CivilTongue is on hiatus for one week. Check back next week for more civilized discussions of current issues impacting us today.

Should you care about LIBOR? Not unless you’ve used credit – for home loans, business loans, credit cards, student loans, anything with an interest rate.

Here’s the short of what the LIBOR scandal means for us that have used credit: we’ve been used as a spring of wealth. We the People of the United States and the entire globe, with our earned money have been covering for huckster book cookers. The implications are that most or all major, multinational banks are conspiring and colluding to fix the market at its very basic building block level. The government in London is implicated, possibly most major governments are also guilty.

It looks to be an extremely extensive web of deceit. The market fixing done cannot be done alone – Barclay’s has already admitted to fixing – in order for the level of corruption that has unfolded to be true, the likelihood is that all major banks are involved in this type of fixing and scandal.

So not only do banks need bailing out but they need bailing out even though the game was rigged in the first place. This is despite the fact that they have unlimited legal, financial, marketing, lobbying, security, and public relations resources. Still, they produce no actual product and rely on those of us who actually provide goods and services to the globe to keep the spigot of money flowing their way. The greed and corruption also seems unlimited.

This scandal exposes, not just a corrupt bank, but the very mechanisms by which we are told “the Market” works. Those mechanisms have been found to be figments of the imagination, not even rusty or broken, but a fairytale that bankers have been telling each other – and the rest of us have been betting the farm on them.

Matt Taibbi and Dennis Kelleher explain in more detail:

Once again, it is up to the People to demand that these stories get reported in the media (go ahead and make a request), and that we keep the pressure on by asking candidates about it, asking our representatives about it, and making it an issue while Barclay’s is spilling the beans. These organizations have been left to police themselves, instead they have reinvented pillaging our villages – and been unbelievably successful.

This is not just another scandal, it is about real dollars that used to be yours and now they are not. And those are the same dollars that are buying government influence, and the same dollars that pay to keep labor conditions racing to the bottom while sky’s-the-limit for elite profits and living conditions.

It is easy to write this off as another boring example of how we get screwed over by “the system”. It’s common to hear, “they’re all crooks!” as a general reference to anyone in business or government, but that is the white flag of apathy. It is music to “their” ears to hear a meme that encourages shrugging it off as business as usual.

Yes, it has been, “business as usual”, but the fat financial dragon has exposed its underbelly. Are we going to yawn our way through the opportunity to demand more accountability, transparency, and responsibility? Once again it’s up to us. Learn more here and here and here.

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Don’t Spank Your Mother

You don’t spank your mother do you?“, the friendly man asked. I looked up and saw him grinning. He was commenting on my technique – I was learning to build a cob house. What I was doing is putting “loaves” of cob – which is just clay, sand and straw mixed up – in a course to make a wall. After you do a few, you need to step back and “massage” the wall into proper plumb and form. I had been smacking my wall trying to get it to move a little inward. The friendly voice suggested that I stop slapping at it and put more slow moving muscle into it. It’s a bit of natural building humor, but the message sticks, “Don’t spank your mother.” It reminds me a little of the Mother Nature margarine commercials of the 70s – “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”

Mom Nature sees through the rug we’ve been sweeping our garbage under. Continue reading

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NC Fracking – Legal by Mistake

If fracking is harmless to water, perhaps we should make coffee with the chemical concoction that is injected into the earth and serve it at the RNC, they shouldn’t object – according to them the chemicals are harmless.

Another case of “gotcha” politics has played out in the North Carolina legislature. In a late night vote that “took her by surprise”, a veteran Democratic lawmaker, Becky Carney of Charlotte, accidentally gave Republicans the vote they needed to override the Governor’s veto of fracking legislation. Even though seconds after Congresswoman Carney pushed the incorrect button, she attempted frantically to change her vote to the one of her true intention, House Speaker Thom Tillis would not recognize the legislator’s requests for recognition and a switch of the vote – something typically granted by leadership when a request is made. Tillis says he is “comfortable” with the process, according to the N&O article on the late night vote.

Continue reading

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