politics

With a Small Letter 'a'

I just read a really great article about anarchism, mostly about the present-day form of "small-letter a" anarchism that is driving the global "movement of movements," and comparing it to historical Anarchism and to Marxism.

Reminds me that I still want to obtain and read Change the World Without Taking Power by John Holloway.

Iraq Facts

I just heard on NPR that the Shia represent only 10 to 15% of the population of Iraq, a clear minority, though they had been ruling Iraq for a long long time before the U.S. invasion. But the reporter mentioned that most Shiites that you talk to there believe they're not a minority and don't act like they're a minority.

Kind of like Americans.

The Irish Lesson

Paul Theroux writes in the New York Times a great critical op-ed piece about Bono, Africa, and Ireland.

And because the NYT is going to time out free access to this piece i'm going to just paste it here: Read more>>>

Earth First! Activists found guilty of all counts

It's a sad day. The trial I've been covering for the past week for Arizona Indymedia has ended in a verdict of guilty on all counts for both defendants, Rod Coronado and Matt Crozier. That link is to a story I co-authored this evening, which is pretty "objective" and "standard journalism." Here's where I go off and get personal.

I was somewhat surprised at the verdict - I really gave some of the jury more credit, thinking that some of them would be smart enough to see past the crude emotional manipulation enacted by the prosecutors, especially since I was there for a lot of the jury selection so I kind of knew what sort of people many of them were - and some were psychologists, software engineers, professors - not your average numbskull middle-americans.

It's just sad, too, knowing Rod and thinking that he could get 6 years or more in prison, and he's about my age, and has a 4-year old child. They wanted to lock him up right away because the prosecution thinks he's a flight risk, but Rod's lawyer convinced the judge that that wasn't necessary.

Now he has till March to be sentenced.

Tommorrow, I have to go back to that same courthouse, to cover a hearing to dismiss charges in yet another trial, this one being the No More Deaths case, in which 2 volunteers last summer trying to help 3 undocumented migrants dying in the desert were arrested and are being charged with felonies. I'm helping another videographer from Pan Left to try to get interviews on camera with the defense lawyers as they come out of the building after the hearing.

It's just courtroom overload lately...

The Feds

There is so much to write about, I barely know where to begin, but it strikes me that most of what's interesting happening around here has to do with representatives of the federal law enforcement or justice system.

First of all, I spent another afternoon at the federal courthouse, listening to the beginning of U.S. vs. Coronado and Crozier. The prosecution spent a long time talking about how the trial was not about activism or environmentalism or animal rights or wildlife management or politics, and then spent the rest of the afternoon making it be all about that. They wasted tons of time establishing that, yes, there are mountain lions in the Sabino Canyon area. duh. oh, and that Matt Crozier once had a job in Tucson. This is something tax money is paying for, folks.

Second, the judge in the No More Deaths case, U.S. versus Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss, has decided to push back the trial from December 20 to January 10, because he wants 3 weeks of vacation. So one of the defendents, plus witnessess, family, friends, and other supporters who had been planning to come and had plane tickets purchased so they could be here December 20 are now fucked. Thanx, judge. Of course, we're all hoping the case is dismissed anyway, or that the prosecutor drops the charges, anyway.

Third, it has come to the attention of activists here that the Catalyst Infoshop in Prescott, Arizona has been raided this afternoon by over 15 FBI agents and JTTF officers and at 8pm they were still there, going over everything, confiscating anything to do with the ALF, ELF, eco-terrorism, and the like. Bill, one of the founders of the infoshop who lives there, has been arrested and will be arraigned tommorrow at 10 am in Flagstaff. Prescott people are still trying to figure out what to do, find Bill a lawyer, etc. At our weekly meeting the Dry River Colletive discussed for a while what to do. We mainly want to be there to help as soon as Bill and the Prescott folks know how we can help them. Apparently there was some police raid of a school today in Flagstaff that may be related too, with officers ripping down posters that had to do with the SnoBowl issue - something I'm not even really that aware of, but I think it has to do with a Flagstaff-area ski place that is doing things will desecrate some mountains that are holy to an native american tribe.

(oh and parenthetically, a fellow videographer here in town launched into a mini-rant at me today about how an air force helicopter was surveilling his house and some people he knew were getting similar attention and that we had to do something soon or the world was going down the tubes, basically.)

So, basically, the federal government is really messing with Arizona activists today.

Earth Firsters Trial This Week in Tucson

Today I spent a big chunk of the afternoon at the Federal Courthouse here in Tucson, because Rod Coronado and Matt Crozier are on trial for interfering with a mountain lion hunt.

Today was the preliminary pre-trial hearing and jury selection. I was there for the jury selection and it was extremely interesting. only 6 of the 31 potential jurors had NOT heard about the incident in the media. This surprised the lawyers and the judge, and they ended up clearing all the jurors out of the room, and bringing one at a time back in and asking them where they had heard about it, what they remember hearing, what opinion if any did they form from the news, and whether they thought they could put that opinion aside and be objective in the trial. About 7 or 8 were excused, I think.

I've been called for jury duty a couple times but never for a criminal case, much less one this controversial. Still, all jury pools are amazing cross-sections of humanity, and this was no exception. Of course they tend to be skewed toward people that have been at the same address, and are registered to vote, I think. (isn't that the database they use? I'm not sure but I think so.)

The judge is kind of funny. Sort of a gentle, self-deprecating old fart who kept joking about how he was getting old and losing his hearing.

The whole thing was actually pretty entertaining, and I kept thinking it's no wonder so many court/lawyer based TV shows are and have been so popular. The legal and judicial system are how things get done in our society, and they're actually really interesting social systems, too. The whole thing is steeped in ritual, or one might say bureacracy, but think about it: the court system works because people are confident in its consistency and reliability. Though ruled mostly by old rich white men, it's general pretty uncorrupt compared to some nations, and people trust it and live (or sometimes die) by its results. Part of the confidence comes from things being utterly aboveboard and having the appearance of trustworthyness, impartiality, etc. So that's where those rituals come in. Like the whole ploddingly slow jury selection process, bringing in 70 people, giving them numbers, calling out the first 31 numbers, slowly, having them sit in order, etc etc. this is all unneccesary from a strict efficiency perspective, but it inspires confidence, because it's so rock-solid and consistent. or at least it appears so.

Tommorrow are opening arguments, which I will probably be at, too. more as it happens.

CPT hostages in Iraq to be killed Thursday

The kidnappers who took the 4 Christian Peacemaker Teams members are threatening to kill all of them by Thursday, December 8 unless all prisoners in Iraqi and American prisons in Iraq are freed. There's an online petition, in Arabic and English, with over 15 thousand signatures.

Whatever your view of the Iraq situation or religion-based NGOs, it's so horrible and horribly ironic and sad that they would be singled out by the terrorists.

Responsibility

Anti-War Vigil - 9My friend José, one of the smartest and most careful-thinking people I know, has written something in his blog with a very good point about the war in Iraq, and the ethical responsibility of our nation. I realize it will not be extremely popular amongst a lot of activists I know, but I confess I have said and thought similiar things in the past. I remember the night of the September 25 anti-war vigil in Portland, on the Morrison bridge with my candle, a reporter from KBOO with a microphone and a minidisc recorder was interviewing people and she asked me what I thought should happen in Iraq with the troops. I expect that most of the folks she asked on that bridge that night said "bring em all home now," but I said, basically, that things aren't ever black or white, they're always grey, and it's complicated. it would probably be really disasterous to pull all of our forces out immediately, and yet obviously we're screwing stuff up there, so there has to be a middle path, where we start extricating ourselves, but in a responsbile way.

It's a really hard problem; all the important problems usually are.

Border Issue Getting Big for GOP

The LA Weekly brings us an interesting, though unsurprising, story on how the border thing is becoming a big deal to Republicans.

on Minutemen co-founder and California Congressional Candidate Jim Glichrist: "While campaigning last week with Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.)

"Just Keep the President Home"

An editiorial in the Kansas City paper about Bush's visit to Argentina is one of the most asinine, insulting, condescending pieces of dreck that I've ever read about Latin America. excerpt:

he [Bush] recently learned that he is unpopular among some Latin Americans.

Violent protests greeted him this month at a meeting of Western Hemisphere presidents in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

But neither he, nor we, should lose any sleep over this. It was the product of the unholy triumvirate of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Argentine President Nestor Kirchner and over-the-hill soccer star Diego Maradona.

The three of them are the personification of the most common failing of Latin American nations: perpetual adolescence.

I'll be condescending back, Shirley, and say, I should have expected this kind of think from Kansas.

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