ANOTHER HOMELESS PERSON DEAD ON OUR STREETS by JP Massar

First They Came for the Homeless (FTCftH) decries the loss of yet another life on the streets of Berkeley – ‘Body of homeless woman found near Berkeley High’, reported in Berkeleyside 1/15/17. People without shelter and without hope is the mark of a failed society, one that will likely fall even further over these next four years as tolerance and compassion continue to lose ground to bigotry and mean-spiritedness.

FTCftH will be holding a press conference, followed by a 24-hour vigil commencing at 5:00 PM, Tuesday, January 17th on the grounds of Berkeley’s New City Hall in memory of lives lost needlessly – in Berkeley, San Francisco, in Portland, OR, Denver, CO and all across the country.

Mike Zint, an organizer with FTCftH, said

“A tent is not a permanent solution. Housing is. But with no housing available, a tent in a sanctioned tent city would provide shelter, storage, security, privacy, and most importantly, stability. And stability is what will help the most. Give people time without harassment, hours, abuse, or rules that don’t fit in with life.”

FTCftH once again calls on the City of Berkeley to stop using police to terrorize homeless people, to stop confiscating the possessions they need to survive, and to stop dismantling the small, supportive communities they establish. Protecting and serving means all the people of Berkeley, not just the housed. In the absence of a place to call her own, would a tent and companions have saved this woman’s life? We don’t know. COULD a tent, companions and shared food saved this woman’s life? We think that’s a good possibility.

For more on our thoughts on homelessness please see http://tinyurl.com/jmqp4kj

Greg Palast: Cross Check- Motherlode of Vote Purge Scams

October 27, 2016

When Donald Trump says, “This election is rigged”—he should know. His buddies are rigging it.

Rolling Stone investigative reporter Greg Palast busted Jeb Bush for stealing the 2000 election by purging Black voters from Florida’s electoral rolls. Now Palast is back to take a deep dive into the Republicans’ dark operation, Crosscheck, designed to steal a million votes by November.

Crosscheck is controlled by a Trump henchman, Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State who claims his computer program has identified 7.2 million people in 29 states who may have voted twice in the same election–a felony crime. The catch? Most of these “suspects” are minorities—in other words, mainly Democratic voters. Yet the lists and the evidence remain “confidential.”

Palast and his investigative side-kick Badpenny do what it takes to get their hands on the data, analyze it and go find some of these 7.2 million Americans tagged “suspects” and “potential duplicate voters” whose votes are threatened this November.

They hunt down and confront Kobach with the evidence of his “lynching by laptop.” Then they are off to find the billionaires behind this voting scam.

In this interview, Greg talks about his new film, “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy”. Called “The most important investigative journalist of our time”, Palast has been working for the BBC for 20 years and writes for the Guardian and the Rolling Stone.

See also: GregPalast.com

“Politicians Don’t See the Light Until They Feel the Heat” by Jacob Wheeler

October 17, 2011 (theuptake.org)

“Sometimes politicians don’t see the light until they feel the heat,” Congressman and Chair of the Progressive Caucus Keith Ellison told The UpTake yesterday during an interview about the growing Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.

(Watch OWS protests from around the world here)

Ellison fully supports the spontaneous demonstrations, doesn’t believe they are leaderless, and doesn’t think politicians should get in their way or try to co-opt the movement.

IS HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF?

Haru is an 89 year old American woman of Japanese heritage who grew up in Riverside, California. She recalls how her family was put on a registry and incarcerated in an internment camp where they were forced to remain for four years. Then Haru stops talking and does something unexpected…

Executive Produced by Katy Perry

Made possible in part by
Visual Communications – www.vconline.org
Alterian, Inc. – http:/www.alterianinc.com
The Local Skill – @thelocalskill
Coyote Post – www.coyotepost.com

Photo Credits:
Haru as Young Girl – Haru Kuromiya

Evacuees of Japanese ancestry entraining for Manzanar, California – National Archives and Records Administration

Manzanar Internment Camp, California – National Archives and Records Administration

“SF’s Democrats keep up the internal warfare” by David Talbot (sfchronicle.com)

Photo: Gabrielle Lurie, Special To The Chronicle.  Former Supervisor David Campos, seen in this 2016 file photo, said: “We’re obviously not anti-immigrant or anti-Chinese. … But this is one of the worst displays of manipulating the process I’ve seen in years.”

January 9, 2017

‘On soggy, windy Sunday, I witnessed American democracy — in its raw and primal form — in action at a San Francisco labor hall. It was beautiful, and it was ugly.

The occasion was the Assembly District 17 delegates election, a generally obscure exercise in democracy that took place throughout the state this weekend. The 14 delegates selected at the District 17 level, which covers the eastern half of San Francisco, get to attend the California Democratic Party convention in May, where they will swill beverages and rub elbows with minor and major political personalities, as well as vote on resolutions that might or might not influence policy. Normally, these district elections excite interest among only party hacks and political wonks. But in case you hadn’t noticed, things are anything but normal these days.

On Sunday morning, while the rest of the city was still enjoying its coffee, a shockingly long line of San Francisco Democrats braved the rain and wind to cast their votes in the District 17 delegate race at the Laborers International Union hall in the Mission. The line snaked out of the building on 18th Street, rounded the corner on Shotwell, and turned right on 19th, where it finally ended in the wet and gloomy distance. Many people waited for as long as two hours under the leaky skies to vote.

The Trump effect has clearly hit San Francisco. No fewer than 1,500 Democrats turned out for this vote, according to artist Debra Walker, convener for the District 17 election — far more than for the last election, in 2015, when about 900 showed up, she said.

So that’s the good news for all those still in shock after November.

“The message today is that we’re alive and well, and we’re fighting back,” said Brian Salkin, one of the dozens of San Franciscans who threw his hat into the delegates race.

But any hope that the Democratic Party in San Francisco would blissfully unite against Trump was dashed by bitter divisions on full display Sunday morning. The friction that tore apart the national party during the primary season, and has pitted local progressives against centrists, grew red hot as the Democrats’ warring factions converged on the labor building.

“This is Bernie versus Hillary all over again,” said one young voter standing in line, who preferred not to give his name. He supported the so-called Rebuild slate, whose campaign was spearheaded by Assemblyman David Chiu, a pillar of the centrist coalition. The opposing Reform slate included a progressive chorus line of Sanders supporters, tenant organizers, LGBTQ activists and police-reform advocates.

As I entered the building, Reform slate members were fuming about what they alleged was “election-rigging” by their centrist opponents. A line of Bauer rental buses parked in front — observers counted at least five vehicles — was disgorging a steady stream of Chinese-speaking men and women. No one stopped them as they went directly inside the building, cutting in front of the long line of people who were patiently standing in the rain.

I spotted one middle-aged Chinese American woman, who declined to give her name, filling out multiple ballots. When challenged by an independent election observer, she became upset and said she was voting on behalf of relatives who could not read English. Meanwhile, at the table where the woman was filling out ballots, Rebuild slate organizers handed out doughnuts, tangerines, granola bars and bottled beverages to those who had just performed their civic duty.

“This is just more of the same corrupt stuff we saw in the Democratic primaries,” said Reform candidate Ben Becker, as he tried to physically block people from crashing the voter line. The young, ponytailed Becker and his wife, Claire Lau, had co-founded San Francisco Berniecrats, an organization that grew out of the Sanders campaign and became the main engine behind the Reform slate. “Hundreds of people are being bused in from Chinatown today — they don’t know who they’re voting for,” said Becker. “They’re just being told how to vote by David Chiu and his people.”

“We’re obviously not anti-immigrant or anti-Chinese,” said former Supervisor David Campos, a Reform slate organizer. “But this is one of the worst displays of manipulating the process I’ve seen in years.”

I found Chiu in front of the building, directing people as they exited the rental buses. He agreed the delegate election was “a chaotic process,” but he strongly denied that his centrist faction was “stacking the vote,” as Campos charged. “There are multiple slates, and everyone is asking people to vote for their candidates,” Chiu said. “I see this as a positive thing — our entire city and state is engaged in the process.”

“We paid for bus rental costs out of my campaign account,” Chiu acknowledged, adding that these expenditures will be reflected in his treasurer’s next report. As for some Chinese-only speakers having their ballots filled out by others, he said: “There were no bilingual ballots, so people needed help.”

But Walker, the election convener, disputed this. “There’s no language problem with the voting,” she said. “The ballot is just a list of names. And if they can’t read the names in English, there are Chinese-language translations.”

Like Chiu, newly elected state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, who also backed the Rebuild slate, put the best possible spin on the tension-filled morning. “This is the ultimate expression of democracy, whatever side you’re on. At the end of the day, we’re all on the same side. We’re all going to unite against the existential threat to our democracy.”

But that unity seemed a distant mirage as I left the building, where I bumped into Kimberly Alvarenga, who lost a hard-fought battle for District 11 supervisor in November by only a few hundred votes. A soaked Alvarenga had been working the line outside the building for three hours on behalf of the Reform slate.

“There were elders, differently abled people, mothers with young kids, all standing in the rain, waiting their turn to vote,” she said. “And then all those people came pouring off the buses and cut in front of them, so they had to wait longer. That’s disingenuous; that’s disrespectful. Democracy needs to be a fair process.”

In the end, the progressive slate prevailed, by a slight margin, taking eight of the 14 seats. Becker was among the winning candidates. Despite winning a majority, progressives were still fuming. “If not for the questionable tactics by the other side, it would have been a progressive sweep,” said Campos. “It’s sad and embarrassing that there was such a horrible process.”

Sunday’s top vote-generator was a member of the centrist slate, Theo Ellington, a 27-year-old public affairs executive for the Warriors. In the midst of Sunday’s mad political circus, the politically ambitious Ellington, whom my family has called “Mr. Mayor” ever since he went to high school with my son, told me, “My job is to bring people together.”

He will have his hands full.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist David Talbot appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Email: dtalbot@sfchronicle.com

Chalmers Johnson on American Hegemony

Volume 4 of 5 in the ‘speaking freely’ series. (52 minutes)

Chalmers argues that the age of the “American Empire” is nearing its end.

Author of Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, Chalmers Johnson has literally written the book on the concept of American hegemony. A former naval officer and consultant to the C.I.A., he now serves as professor emeritus of UC San Diego. As co-founder and president of the Japan Policy Research Institute, Mr. Johnson also continues to promote public education about Asia’s role in the international community. In this exclusive interview, you will find out why the practice of empire building is, by no means, a thing of the past. As the United States continues to expand its military force around the globe, the consequences are being suffered by each and every one of us. (Written by Richard Castro.)

Chalmers Johnson † November 20, 2010.

Produced: 2008, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1245364/

For a better quality copy please visit Cinemalibre @ http://www.cinemalibrestudio.com

Berkeleyside Op-ed: Shooters, stabbers, carjackers and tent occupants – one of these things is not like the others

Berkeley police should be spending their time chasing murderers and carjackers, not evicting people from the tents they use for shelter.

By JP Massar

JP Massar is a Berkeley activist working on issues around homelessness, privacy and unjust debt.

What’s wrong with this picture?

From headlines in local papers recently:

“Young woman stabbed; police search for suspect.”

Police hunt for armed and dangerous Berkeley suspect after homicide, stabbing.”

Berkeley police release video of armed bank robbery.

Men, girl arrested after carjacking attempt and robbery.”

Child hurt by shattered glass after Berkeley shooting.”

From eyewitness accounts Friday morning, 1/6/17:

“5 AM Jan 6 – Berkeley Police raiding First They Came for the Homeless camp now at Spruce and Rose. 34 BPD officers, 8 City workers, 13 City squad cars, 1 paddy wagon, and 4 Public Works trucks – all to evict 8 disabled, unsheltered tent occupiers.”

And from the East Bay Times 1/7/17:

City spokesman Matthai Chakko said Friday that “it takes a tremendous amount of resources” to disperse a camp.

There are things police should be doing. Arresting carjackers, searching for armed and dangerous suspected murderers and dealing with armed robbery suspects are three of them. Figuring out how to prevent or minimize such incidents is another. What the City of Berkeley’s police should not be doing is evicting homeless people – especially at 5:00 AM using large-scale operations that take ‘a tremendous amount of’ resources.

The Berkeley City Manager has lost all sense of proportion here. An autocrat who is not subject to accountability by the people or their elected representatives, she has seen fit to launch 15 raids against a single group of politically active homeless people. On the day before meteorologists predicted one of the worst rainstorms in memory she decided it was a good idea to evict and harass this same group, along with at least one other set of homeless individuals, confiscating possessions. All while on our streets we end up with victims of stabbings and children threatened by gunshots.

The end result of all this expenditure of time and effort? There are still as many homeless residents in Berkeley as there were before the raids, if not more. There is still no housing for them. The City is now potentially liable for civil lawsuit damages arising from these raids, just as happened with the Black Lives Matter protest two years ago. Berkeley is now the proud owner of yet another set of actions intended to squash dissent and political speech; actions that have operated in total disproportion to any conceivable threat.  And who knows how many crimes that could have been prevented with a sensible deployment of resources.

When 900 people sleep in doorways and bushes around town, mostly out of sight and out of mind, no one cares to care. But let a group be “in your face” about the situation of the unhoused – suddenly outrage is the order of the day and the engines of oppression rev into overdrive. Just days ago 34Berkeley Police were marshaled (more than half of an entire shift!) to demonstrate once again that the City will brook no opposition. Similar “shock and awe” displays have taken place previously. The City sends the only message it wishes to send – go to a shelter and hope that there is space, be grateful if we don’t arrest you (and if we do we’ll charge you with “lynching”), otherwise sit down and shut (tf) up.

Berkeley could do it differently. Berkeley’s homeless are not nails and Berkeley has other tools than hammers. First They Came for the Homeless has ideas on that here: http://tinyurl.com/jmqp4kj. Please check them out.