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After pepper-spraying incident, UC Davis redesigns website

Link. They might want to rethink that motto, however. (thanks, @justinq!)

Memo to American Bankers Association from lobbyists spells out $850,000 anti-OWS plan

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

MSNBC's "Up with Chris Hayes" broke the story today of a memo by Washington D.C. lobbyists to the American Bankers Association on how to go about discrediting the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is evidently perceived as a powerful threat to the interests of the financial industry.

The proposal was written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford and addressed to one of CLGC’s clients, the American Bankers Association. CLGC’s memo proposes that the ABA pay CLGC $850,000 to conduct “opposition research” on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct “negative narratives” about the protests and allied politicians. The memo also asserts that Democratic victories in 2012 would be detrimental for Wall Street and targets specific races in which it says Wall Street would benefit by electing Republicans instead.

According to the memo, if Democrats embrace OWS, “This would mean more than just short-term political discomfort for Wall Street. … It has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye.”

The memo also suggests that Democratic victories in 2012 should not be the ABA’s biggest concern. “… (T)he bigger concern,” the memo says, “should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies.”

Here's more, and here is the PDF of the actual memo.

Wanted: your books in Brooklyn, today, to rebuild a new "People's Library"

Image: Cory Doctorow. The OWS library on Nov. 14, one day before NYPD destroyed it.

Brooklynites, do you have books to contribute to a new "People's Library"? Maria Popova [you should follow her on Twitter] writes,

Hey Xeni, thanks to your BoingBoing piece on the #OWS library, my friend Liz Danzico (@bobulate) and I are doing an impromptu #OWS Bookmobile tour to help rebuild the library. We're starting with our own book from our piles of press copies and making several stops across Brooklyn starting at 1pm today to pick up other donations, then dropping all the books off at the #OWS library.

Here's more from Maria, and here is the map, with pickup times, today.

Take a stand against bibliocide, Brooklyn!

Iraq war veteran Kayvan Sabehgi beaten by police at Occupy Oakland, left with lacerated spleen

Video from The Guardian: "Protester and three-tour American veteran Kayvan Sabehgi was beaten by Oakland police during the Occupy protest's general strike on 2 November. Sabehgi, who was 'completely peaceful', according to witnesses, was left with a lacerated spleen."

Photos from the Occupy Wall Street National Day of Action

© C.S. Muncy/csmuncyphotography.com

At the Village Voice, photographer C.S. Muncy has a slideshow of images from the Occupy Wall Street: National Day of Action - New York.

Related: Muncy's eyewitness account of the pre-dawn police raid earlier this week.

© C.S. Muncy/csmuncyphotography.com

Interview with creator of Occupy Wall Street "bat-signal" projections during Brooklyn Bridge #N17 march

REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Earlier this evening, tens of thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters marched throughout New York City, many making their way on to the Brooklyn Bridge, carrying LED candles and chanting.

Read the rest

Occupy Cal: School-wide student strike at UC Berkeley

Turnstyle News photog Denise Tejada has a set of photos from today's mass protest at UC Berkeley, in California's Bay Area. At the time of this blog post, the crowd gathered is somewhere north of 1,500 people. (thanks, Alejandro de la Cruz)

The Grass Is Closed: an Occupy Cal protester, on police and power

Snip from a terrific long-read by Aaron Bady, aka zunguzungu, on his experience at the OWS-inspired "Occupy Cal" protests at UC Berkeley, after campus police violently attacked peaceful fellow student demonstrators (see video above).

At about 11:30 a.m. yesterday, a police officer told me and about eight other students that, and I quote, “the grass is closed.” We were going to sit under a tree and discuss things, and two police officers were watching us vigilantly to make sure we didn’t suddenly do something violent like try to put up tents. As we moved towards the tree, the first police officer stepped up and informed us that we could not walk from the broad concrete steps of Sproul Hall, where about a hundred people were sitting and talking, and sit on the grassy area just to the north of it. “The grass is closed,” she said.

If you meditate on these words until they become a mantra, you will learn some profound things about how police authority works. What could it possibly mean to declare that “the grass is closed”? Who could have the authority to say so? I had always considered that stretch of grass to be public; I’ve often been among the hundreds of students who eat their lunch there, every day, and 11:30 a.m. is a time of day when it is common to eat lunch. I have had conversations with other students sitting on that very grass, many times. Why was it that I could not do so now? Why had this stretch of grass suddenly become un-public and closed off? No signs said so, and no police tape marked it off. At the far end of that grassy area, in fact, several people were actually sitting on the grass. But those people were sitting there eating lunch. Because we were part of the group which was sitting on the steps of Sproul Hall, clearly, the grass had been declared off limits to us.

To make things more interesting, it immediately transpired that the other police officer had, in fact, already given them permission to sit on the grass. And in an instant, the arbitrariness of the rule was made evident and undeniable.

Read the rest: “The Grass Is Closed”: What I Have Learned About Power from the Police, Chancellor Birgeneau, and Occupy Cal (zunguzungu).

Police choke non-violent protester at Occupy San Diego (video)

[Video Link]

From the description for this video by photographer and military veteran Adam Plantz:

Bob O'Grady being arrested in the San Diego Civic Center Plaza for laying inside of his sleeping bag to stay warm while a group of non-violent occupiers from San Diego, Los Angeles, Irvine, Encinitas, and other transplants from various locations across the US pow-wow under an erected U.S. flag in the heart of the plaza; in celebration of Veteran's Day. SDPD uses excessive force to apprehend Bob, a SDPD officer uses a choking technique I never knew was legal in the continuum of force ladder. That must come after using a closed fist to assault the suspect in the face.

The San Diego Reader reports that O'Grady is 28 years old, and that he was choked and arrested at around 2:35 AM Saturday morning in San Diego's Civic Center Plaza after police ordered him to "exit his sleeping bag and sit up." The video above shows that he appeared to pose no threat to the armed officers surrounding him. Read eyewitness reports here.

Mexico's "War on Drugs" leads to catastrophic rise of murder, torture, "disappearance"

Human Rights Watch reports that instead of reducing violence, the ‘war on drugs’ in Mexico has resulted in a dramatic increase in killings, torture, and "disapparances." Read the report. [Video Link]

Why is Portland Police Dept. posting mugshots of Occupy Portland arrestees to Facebook?

UPDATE: I spoke with a sergeant from the Portland Police department today. I will post a longer update on the story soon, with notes from our conversation. The short version: yes, they do have a long history of posting mugshots in cases of high public and media interest, online. They're not only doing this with Occupy arrests. And Occupy arrests are of high media and public interest. The PD's news releases (some of which are lists of arrests, with photos) are all auto-posted to Twitter and Facebook now and not just to the PD's website. Apart from that, I do think it's fair to say that the prevailing character of their response to the local Occupy has been respectful and mellow compared to other cities (Oakland, yes, I'm looking at you). I told the sergeant that some BB readers had written in from Portland to say they are proud of the lack of tear gas or rubber bullets. "So are we," he replied.
—XJ


As inadvisable police tactics around Occupy Wall Street go, this feels like it's right up there with tear gassing people in wheelchairs: The Portland, Oregon police department is posting mugshots to Facebook of people arrested at Occupy Portland.

@newyorkist has been dogging them about it on Twitter, and the Portland Police replied publicly via Twitter and Facebook that they do this with any "arrests in cases of a significant public or media interest," as part of the department's "efforts to be continually transparent."

Is that a violation of the arrestees' civil rights? Some of the demonstrators arrested were minors (and I am not sure if their photos were among the ones published). How does the fact that they are not adults change this story? Remember, these people aren't convicted pedophiles, they're just participants in a peaceful protest who were arrested, and haven't yet seen their day in court.

There is some precedent to police departments posting mugshots on a police department website, but the fact that it's Facebook just feels weird. As BB reader Bryan Coffelt tweeted, "I feel like the next step would be for the PDX PD to start 'poking' the arrestees or inviting them to play FarmVille."

Below, a response to the practice by Joey B'Shalom of Portland, identified as a US Air Force veteran "Airman of the Year" whose son Benji and daughter Hannah were arrested there.

Read the rest

Occupy Oakland: photos before and after violent police raid

About the photos above and below, Mike Godwin says,

The "Before" photo, with Occupy Oakland tents in place, was taken October 21. Photographer Donna Enright, an Oakland resident, says she took the photo because she heard from her employer that Occupy Oakland had been served with a notice that the demonstrators were to be evicted.

"I thought this was the last chance I might have to take a picture of [the tents], she says.

The "After" photo was taken later in the day after the pre-sunrise October 25 police intervention at Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Photographs reproduced by BoingBoing with permission. Copyright 2011, Donna Enright. All rights reserved.

Occupy Oakland protesters claim presence of police infiltrators and provocateurs

Video Link: "Copwatch@Occupy Oakland: Beware of Police Infiltrators and Provocateurs."

Occupy the Nor-easter: NYC OWS protesters braved a snowstorm this weekend

Boing Boing reader Peter Brauer says,

I went down to OWS to see how folks were fairing during the nor-easter. The weather was bleak, but spirits were high. I don't think these folks are going any where any time soon. Support your local #occupation this winter.

via Video Link: YouTube.

Occupy Liberty (new Lalo Alcaraz Occupy Wall Street poster)

Lalo Alcaraz, the artist and Uppity Mexican-American commentator who created the totally dope new "Occupy"/"Anonymous" poster above, is at laloalcaraz.com and pocho.com. I asked Lalo for info on how those interested can obtain prints, and he tells Boing Boing:

They should check in at laloalcaraz.com to see which signed prints are currently available, and especially should look for my 2012 Lalo Alcaraz Cartoon Calendar coming very soon (after all the Muerto Madness) and follow my silly ass at @laloalcaraz.

Scott Olsen, Iraq veteran injured in police raid of Occupy Oakland: how you can help

Update, Oct. 27, 5pm Pacific: Olsen will undergo brain surgery "within the next one or two days."


In the photo above, Veterans For Peace member Scott Olsen, who is identified as a former U.S. Marine and Iraq war veteran, lies on the street after being struck in the head by a police projectile in Oakland, California, during eviction of the Occupy Oakland encampment.

The police attack occurred Tuesday night, and was captured in video blogged in previous Boing Boing posts.

How to help: Iraq Veterans Against The War has a link here and Veterans for Peace has a link here where you can donate to help cover Olsen's medical expenses.

At the time of this blog post, Olsen remains in a hospital in Oakland, CA, in "fair" condition, upgraded from "critical." He received skull fractures. Yesterday he was in a medically-induced coma, and he has undergone surgery. His roommate Keith Shannon reported to Current TV's Keith Olbermann today that Olsen can now breathe on his own, but will likely need more surgery.

UPDATE: The Guardian reports:

Scott Olsen requires surgery to relive the pressure on his brain, according to his roommate Keith Shannon. "Neurosurgeons have decided he needs surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain and it will happen in a day or two," Shannon said. He added that Olsen's parents should be arriving at the hospital to be with their son shortly.

Read the rest

Police raid on Occupy Oakland: the morning after

Photo: Oakland North. Navy veteran Joshua Sheperd holding Veterans for Peace flag, Occupy Oakland, Tue. night.

Last night, hundreds of police in riot gear from divisions throughout Northern California descended on the Occupy Oakland encampment, armed with tear gas, an LRAD sonic weapon (the "sound cannon"), and various projectiles -- by some sources, rubber bullets and bean bags.

According to various reports, more than a hundred arrests were made. Two police officers were injured, and an untold number of protesters.

My post from last night is here, with links to video.

And as I noted last night, President Obama's recent remarks on a series of demonstrations elsewhere may prove instructive.

Oakland North was one of a number of small, independent publications on the scene last night live-tweeting photos and a blow-by-blow of the crackdown. One of their photos is above.

One YouTube video is here, capturing the moment when the police launched the first round of multiple rounds of tear-gas "bombs." From photos tweeted last night, and this Reuters photo from last night (by photographer Stephen Lam), this appears to be one of the brands of CS gas used on the protesters.

Photo: Reuters.

Our own Dean Putney took the train over from San Francisco a little later on in the wee hours. He has posted photos here, mostly after things had quieted down somewhat. One of those is below.

Photo: Dean Putney.

This video shows "Veterans for Peace member Scott Olsen wounded by a less-lethal round fired by either San Francisco Sheriffs deputies or Palo Alto Police on October 25, 2011 at 14th Street and Broadway in Downtown Oakland." He appears to have been shot in the face.

Read the rest

Scored: pulse-pounding/thought-provoking YA novel about surveillance

Scored is Lauren McLaughlin's latest YA science fiction novel, a remarkable book about surveillance, class, and culture. It's McLaughlin's third novel, and her best so far (though the previous two were very good).

Read the rest

The FBI and the War On Us: Racial profiling on an "industrial scale"

Justin Elliott in Salon: "New documents obtained by the ACLU show that the FBI has for years been using Census data to “map” ethnic and religious groups suspected of being likely to commit certain types of crimes."

Rome Burns

Photo: La Repubblica, Italy

That is the graffiti in one of the destroyed streets in this Saturday's "indignati" demonstration. It ended in violence against the police, city security, and last but not least the pacifist organizers of the manifestation, in tune with the world wide movements OCCUPY.

Read the rest

Occupy Wall Street takes over Times Square (updated)

Watch live streaming video from occupynyc at livestream.com

445pm ET: Happening as I post this. Watch live video here.

Read the rest

Interactive map of Occupy Wall Street protests

Mother Jones is maintaining an interactive map of "Occupy" protests around the US, and beyond. That little lonely red dot in the Pacific is a demonstration in Hilo, Hawaii! If you know of others, tell them: "Send a link to a news article or blog posts to traja [at] motherjones [dot] com or @tasneemraja."

You can find more information about demonstration gatherings at the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Together websites, the "official" sites for this movement. The latter shows more than 300 Occupy meetups in cities around the world.

(thanks, Michael Mechanic)

Senator Franken shames homophobic imbecile


Think Progress: "During this morning’s Senate DOMA hearings, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) destroyed Focus on the Family’s Tom Minnery’s argument that children are better off with opposite-sex parents by demonstrating how Minnery misrepresented an HHS study. The study — which Minnery cited to oppose marriage equality — actually found that children do best in two-parent households, regardless of the parents’ gender."

Senator Franken shames homophobic imbecile

Balancing safety with a child's need for risk-taking

A new study suggests that playgrounds that focus too much on protecting kids' safety, can inadvertently stunt their emotional and psychological development. It certainly hits some buttons for this nostalgic merry-go-round enthusiast. Of course, as the article at The New York Times points out, there's a line that must be walked between too safe and not safe enough. For example: Jungle gyms are one thing, going back to having concrete pads under the jungle gyms is entirely another.

Soda bottles become electricity-less "light bulbs" for the poor

In many of the world's poor neighborhoods, homes are built out of whatever materials people can get their hands on, often without windows or electricity. That means the buildings are awfully dark during the day, reducing quality of life, safety, and productivity.

But the situation can be improved with only a used soda bottle, some water, and some bleach. Check out this clever solution, developed by MIT and distributed by the Liter of Light project.

Via Grist

Video Link

Ethan Nadelmann responds to DEA claim that marijuana has no accepted medical use


[Video Link] Tony Papa of the Drug Policy Alliance says: "Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, responds to the recent decree by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) that marijuana has no accepted medical use. The decision by the DEA comes almost nine years after medical marijuana supporters asked the government to reclassify cannabis to take into account a growing body of research that shows its effectiveness in treating certain diseases. For more on this subject please go the July 14 LA Times piece titled 'Medical marijuana: A science-free zone at the White House' by DPA's Bill Piper and Stephen Gutwillig.

LA Times: Medical marijuana: A science-free zone at the White House

TED2012 Fellowship Applications

201107161302

"The search is on for the next class of TED Fellows. The Fellows program is looking for 20 outstanding multidisciplinary innovators from around the world – techies, entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, bloggers, filmmakers, musicians, activists,  and more. "

I've met a lot of TED fellows from around the world, and they are always doing incredibly interesting work.

Apply for the TED Fellows Program through July 25, 2011

The Majesty of the Great Sword

[Video link]

Thanks Brian!

AP: US nuclear power plant safety isn't being tightly regulated

powerplantstack.jpg

As you may have noticed, I'm not against nuclear power. I'm not aggressively pro-nuclear power, either. It's just that I recognize that energy is complicated and I think that the very real risks of nuclear power have to be considered in tandem with the risks of other energy sources, and the risks of not having enough energy. From that perspective, we can't just immediately shut down all the nuclear power we currently have, and nuclear power still does some things that no other energy source can currently do—namely, provide a reliable, low-carbon, high-capacity factor source of electricity that can be located anywhere and doesn't vary its output with the seasons, the time of day, or the weather. That doesn't mean we must use nuclear. And it definitely doesn't mean we should go all nuclear. But it does mean that we have to make our choices about nuclear as part of a bigger picture.

Of course, all of this comes with a big caveat. From my perspective, the benefits of nuclear power can outweigh the risks, as long as there's competent safety regulation in place that's being monitored by somebody independent of the people who are being regulated. There's two things you should have learned from the ongoing flood watch at Nebraska's Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant. First, regulation protects us. If the Nuclear Regulatory Commission hadn't done its job here, the Fort Calhoun plant would not have been prepared for floods of the level that it has experienced this summer. Second, the nuclear industry can't be relied upon to make the necessary safety upgrades on its own, without outside prodding. It's not that they're evil. Nobody sits around cackling about the prospect of a radiation leak. It's just that businesses, like people, don't always behave in a logical way. Sure, logic says that it's worth it to upgrade your flood protection system because, if it fails, the outcome would be a lot worse for you and cost you a lot more money. But there are other pressures the owners of Fort Calhoun were dealing with, and they chose not to make those upgrades until the NRC essentially forced them to do it.

That's why I think you absolutely need to read the 4-part Associated Press series on nuclear industry regulation, written by AP reporter Jeff Donn. It will make you angry. It made me angry. Donn presents an effective case showing that the NRC does not always act as independently as it needs to, and that it has frequently made choices that favor the needs of industry over the needs of the public. That's bad. So far, nothing that's happened has been particularly dangerous for the public. But the more you let small problems slide, the faster you find yourself facing a larger problem.

At the heart of Donn's series is a serious set of issues that every American needs to consider: Our electric demand is too high to simply shut off nuclear power plants and not replace them. Public opinion won't allow for old nuclear plants to be replaced by new, safer ones. Other replacement options (namely, coal, our other widely available source of base load electricity) aren't particularly popular, either, for good reasons. And so social and economic pressures have given the nuclear industry an incentive to keep aging power plants online decades longer than their original licenses envisioned. There is not an easy ultimate answer to this problem. At least, not one that can be implemented quickly. But while we work to add more renewables and (most importantly) more storage to the electric grid, we need to know that regulators are watching our backs. From what Donn has written, that doesn't seem to be the case.

I can't excerpt anything from Donn's stories here, because the Associated Press is notoriously ridiculous about preventing people from sharing the fine work it does do. (Even finding a full set of links to all the parts of Donn's feature was frustratingly complicated. AP: When you publish a series as important as this, it needs to be easily accessible on your website.) Frankly, if your local newspaper didn't run this series (or didn't run it in its entirety) or if you don't read the paper, there's a good chance you missed this entire report when it first came out around the end of June and first week of July. But you do need to read this report. And you can, at the links below:

Part 1—AP IMPACT: US Nuke Regulators Weaken Safety Rules

Part 2—AP IMPACT: Tritium Leaks Found at Many Nuke Sites

Part 3—AP IMPACT: Populations Around US Nuke Plants Soar

Part 4—AP IMPACT: NRC and Industry Rewrite Nuke History

CIA used a fake vaccination campaign in hunt for Bin Laden

In the course of trying to prove that it was actually Osama Bin Laden living in that compound outside Abbottabad, the CIA apparently set up a fake Hepatitis B vaccination campaign, which was actually aimed at collecting DNA samples from Bin Laden's children. Working with a Pakistani doctor, they started giving out the first dose of the three-dose vaccine in poor neighborhoods, as a cover, and then, instead of going back to administer the necessary follow-up doses (without which, children are still susceptible to the disease) they moved on to the area where Bin Laden lived and tried to get the doctor inside his compound.

This is bad. Very bad, from a public health perspective. The New York Times story linked above doesn't really get into the implications the CIA's (failed) venture will have for real vaccination campaigns, but Maryn McKenna does a great job of explaining the issues at her Wired blog:

It plays, so precisely that it might have been scripted, into the most paranoid conspiracy theories about vaccines: that they are pointless, poisonous, covert shields for nefarious government agendas meant to do children harm.

That is not speculation. The polio campaign has already seen this happen, based on just those kind of suspicions -- not in a single poor slum in New Delhi, but across much of sub-Saharan Africa.

In the fall of 2003, a group of imams in the northern Nigerian state of Kano -- the area that happened to have the highest rate of ongoing polio transmission -- began preaching against polio vaccination, contending that what purported to be a protective act was actually a covert campaign by Western powers to sterilize and kill Muslim children. The president of Nigeria's Supreme Council for Sharia Law said to the BBC: "There were strong reasons to believe that the polio immunisation vaccine was contaminated with anti-fertility drugs, contaminated with certain virus that cause HIV/AIDS, contaminated with Simian virus that are likely to cause cancers."

The rumors caught like wildfire, and they were spread further by political operatives who saw an opportunity to disrupt a recent post-election power-sharing agreement between the Muslim north and the Christian south. Three majority Muslim states -- Kano, Kaduna and Zamfara -- suspended polio vaccination entirely. Vaccination acceptance in the rest of the country fell off so sharply that the national government was forced to act. It ordered tests of the vaccine by Nigeria's health ministry and empaneled a special commission to visit the Indonesian labs where the vaccine administered in Nigeria was made. The WHO convened emergency meetings.

And polio began to spread. At the end of 2003, when the boycott began, there had been only 784 known polio cases in the entire world. By the end of 2004, there had been 793 new cases just in Nigeria. Polio leaking across Nigeria's borders reinfected Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Sudan and Togo. Nigerian strains appeared in Yemen, site of the largest port on the Red Sea, and in Saudi Arabia, imperiling the millions of pilgrims coming to the country on hajj.