Friday, September 26, 2008

Oct 1st Deadline is next Wed.

If you are still with AT&T as of next Wednesday Oct 1st, you too will be agreeing to their new contract:

AT&T's new contract with you

We are a country of laws.
Every person gets his or her day in court.

That may have once been the case, but if you have traditional phone service in Humboldt County, you are about to give up these most basic rights of an American citizen.

As of October 1st, all customers of AT&T will be obligated to the terms of their new 13 clause contract, which, among other things, prohibits you from any legal recourse in a court of law, including small claims court, and which prohibits you from participating in any class action lawsuits against AT&T. And this is retroactive, so it applies to claims for violations that may have occurred prior to this agreement.

There has been no coverage of this yet, by any local media, but there was a story done by a Bay Area television station, which includes comments from an attorney with TURN, the consumer watchdog group. There is also information available on UCAN's website, the Utility Consumer Action Network.

One other clause in the contract, which has not been brought up in even this limited coverage, is that you are agreeing to let "unauthorized third parties" (such as the Federal Government) monitor your communications (clause 10 d).

My take on this is that having been given criminal immunity by the Congress for their role in the illegal wiretapping by the Federal Government, AT&T is using this new contract to give themselves immunity from civil liability, which would have been the only recourse left to citizens whose constitutional rights were violated by these wire taps. This is in addition to avoiding any other legal actions from their day to day business practices.

It should be no surprise that a major corporation wants such protection. What is surprising is that the California Public Utilities Commission is allowing this. Apparently their justification is that there is competition in "most" local markets for local land line phone service. Of course that is not the case in Humboldt County, where our only other options are cell phones, if you happen to get service in your area, or voice over IP, if you happen to get high speed internet service, from someone other than AT&T, such as Suddenlink Cable or a wireless internet provider such as 101 Netlink (these services will not work during a power outage).

You can contact our State Senator and Assembly Member and you should file a complaint with the CPUC*, to ask for some relief, but unless you cancel your service with AT&T by October 1st, you will have agreed to these terms.

This is one more example of what deregulation has brought us.


Sign the petition to stop the AT&T service agreement

From: TURN The Utility Reform Network

Fight back against AT&T's new service agreement:
A Get Out of Jail Free Card for AT&T

AT&T's new 18-page residential service agreement is long and confusing, says TURN. Among the items buried in the fine print: No Class-Action Lawsuits Allowed, and Government Wiretapping's OK. The agreement would force customers to give up their legal rights to receive phone service from California's dominant provider.


* in addition to clicking on the CPUC link, you can file a complaint through snail mail, phone or fax. (you can also file a complaint with the FCC):

U.S. mail to:
California Public Utilities Commission
Consumer Affairs Branch
505 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102-3298

Call us toll-free, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at 1-800-649-7570

Fax us at 1-415-703-1158

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

urgent email

From: Henry
Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 5:32 PM
Subject: Money Transfer

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safegu

One more bad idea from the Bush administration

Now, according to the Bush administration, it turns out:
Who would have guessed it?


Not everyone agrees:

Allan Meltzer on the bailout

Allan H. Meltzer, Carnegie Mellon University professor of political economy and the author of several books on monetary policy and economic history, including his multi-volume A History of the Federal Reserve, was interviewed yesterday on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer and agian today on the News Hour along with Paul Krugman, who also has misgivings. In the interview Meltzer discusses the Fed's recent decision to bailout the failing insurance giant AIG, and "what the tumultuous week on Wall Street means for the country's financial health." Download the archived video at the News Hour website.

Mr. Meltzer says, at best, the government could make loans, which would have to be paid back with interest by these financial institutions, and that dividends and bonus can not be paid until the loans are paid back.

Mr. Meltzer be one of the few free market advocates who is not currently hiding under a rock.

No Bailout! Make One Call.

No Bailout! Make One Call.


Call the US Capitol. Ask to speak to your Congressman or Senator - and tell them...


Forward this email on to your friends.

George Bush is demanding a blank check.

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is demanding a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street.

And Democrats in Congress must deliver both by Friday, September 26, they say – or else.

To which Democrats should respond: No, no, no!

We gave Bush a blank check after September 11. We gave him another blank check for the war in Iraq. We’re not going to give him another one now, for Wall Street.

Let Democrats tell the President: No Blank Check and no Bailout. Unless….Unless there’s some real relief included for working Americans…And unless there are some tough new rules for Wall Street.

For starters:

* No CEO of a company we bail out should be able to make more than the President of the United States.

* No golden parachutes for executives of Lehman Brothers, Freddie, Fannie, Merrill-Lynch, or AIG.

* Homeowners about to lose their homes should get their mortgages bought down to a level they can afford.

* There must be new limits on how much interest banks can charge on credit cards.

* And a percentage of bail-out funds should go to states and cities for new construction projects and new jobs.

And that’s just for starters.

If Congress is going to bail anybody out, they must bail out all Americans – not just the crooks on Wall Street.

Forward this email to your friends!

Bill Press

The Bill Press Show airs live weekday mornings, from 6-9 AM ET. Visit us online at

Monday, September 22, 2008

No Blank Check for Wall St. ~ Sign the petition

Is this what Bush meant my an"ownership society"?
Who would have thought that it would be the Republicans who brought socialism to America? Of course they are only offering to "socialize" the risk, the profits will still be privatized. What rock have all of the libertarians and free market advocates crawled under?
These are the freest, of free market institutions, which now asking for a government handout. I don't ever want to hear about "trusting the market"again, and don't even think about putting my social security in these folks hands.


No blank check for Wall Street.

Congress is on the brink of making a one-sided deal to give George W. Bush a blank check to bail
out his pals - offering nearly (or perhaps more than) a trillion taxpayer dollars to Wall Street to cover its bad debts. That works out to somewhere between $2000 and $5000 from every American family. So what do the taxpayers get in return?

Nothing. No new regulation or oversight to help avoid this kind of crisis in the future. No public interest givebacks to help people whose homes are in the hands of the banks. Perhaps most shockingly of all, the taxpayers get absolutely no share in the profits if and when these finance giants bounce back, even though we are now assuming a great deal of the risk.

This is worse than a bad deal - this isn't a deal at all. This is a blank check to some of the richest companies in the world.

I just signed a petition calling on key members of Congress to impose a few sensible conditions to this bailout in order to protect the American people -- I hope you will too.

Click here to take action.


Richard Salzman


What Wall Street Should Do To Get Its Blank Check

By Robert Reich - September 21, 2008, 1:48PM

The frame has been set, the die cast. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, presumably representing the Bush administration but indirectly representing Wall Street, and Fed Chief Ben Bernanke, want a blank check from Congress for $700 billion or possibly a trillion dollars or more to take bad debt off Wall Street's balance sheets. Never before in the history of American capitalism has so much been asked of so many for (at least in the first instance) so few.

Put yourself in the shoes of a member of Congress, including our two presidential candidates. The Treasury Secretary and Fed Chair have told you this is necessary to save the economy. If you don't agree, you risk a meltdown of the entire global financial system. Your own constituents' savings could go down with it. An election is six weeks away. Besides, in the last two days of trading, since rumors spread that the Treasury and the Fed were planning something of this sort, stock prices revived.

Now - quick -- what do you do? You have no choice but to say yes.

But you might also set some conditions on Wall Street.

The public doesn't like a blank check. They think this whole bailout idea is nuts. They see fat cats on Wall Street who have raked in zillions for years, now extorting in effect $2,000 to $5,000 from every American family to make up for their own nonfeasance, malfeasance, greed, and just plain stupidity. Wall Street's request for a blank check comes at the same time most of the public is worried about their jobs and declining wages, and having enough money to pay for gas and food and health insurance, meet their car payments and mortgage payments, and save for their retirement and childrens' college education. And so the public is asking: Why should Wall Street get bailed out by me when I'm getting screwed?

So if you are a member of Congress, you just might be in a position to demand from Wall Street certain conditions in return for the blank check.

My five nominees:

1. The government (i.e. taxpayers) gets an equity stake in every Wall Street financial company proportional to the amount of bad debt that company shoves onto the public. So when and if Wall Street shares rise, taxpayers are rewarded for accepting so much risk.

2. Wall Street executives and directors of Wall Street firms relinquish their current stock options and this year's other forms of compensation, and agree to future compensation linked to a rolling five-year average of firm profitability. Why should taxpayers feather their already amply-feathered nests?

3. All Wall Street executives immediately cease making campaign contributions to any candidate for public office in this election cycle or next, all Wall Street PACs be closed, and Wall Street lobbyists curtail their activities unless specifically asked for information by policymakers. Why should taxpayers finance Wall Street's outsized political power - especially when that power is being exercised to get favorable terms from taxpayers?

4. Wall Street firms agree to comply with new regulations over disclosure, capital requirements, conflicts of interest, and market manipulation. The regulations will emerge in ninety days from a bi-partisan working group, to be convened immediately. After all, inadequate regulation and lack of oversight got us into this mess.

5. Wall Street agrees to give bankruptcy judges the authority to modify the terms of primary mortgages, so homeowners have a fighting chance to keep their homes. Why should distressed homeowners lose their homes when Wall Streeters receive taxpayer money that helps them keep their fancy ones?

Wall Streeters may not like these conditions. Well, you should tell them that the public doesn't like the idea of bailing out Wall Street. So if Wall Street doesn't accept these conditions, it doesn't get the blank check.

Charges dropped in St. Paul

Charges dropped, but the damage was done and the freedom of the press was stifled.

St. Paul dropping all misdemeanor charges for journalists arrested during RNC
Charges will be dropped against journalists who were arrested and charged with misdemeanors for unlawful assembly during the Republican National Convention, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said today.
Many reporters, photographers and bloggers were among the 818 people arrested during the Sept. 1-4 convention. Many were trapped on a bridge with protesters on the Thursday night, just before Sen. John McCain made his acceptance speech. Police had warned the large group to dissipate, then closed in from both sides of the bridge and made mass arrests.
The mayor's ruling applies only to journalists getting misdemeanors, but he said that, with the proliferation of alternatative media covering the convention, the definition of journalist will be broadly applied as they try to ascertain identities and credentials. City officials said they're not sure how many people this will affect. - Joe Kimball
Here's the mayor's announcemen

Mayor Coleman Announces Policy Not to Pursue Certain Misdemeanor Charges Against Journalists
SAINT PAUL - Mayor Chris Coleman announced today that the city will decline to prosecute misdemeanor charges for presence at an unlawful assembly for journalists arrested during the Republican National Convention. He made the announcement after consultation with the city attorney’s office, which recommended the city not pursue misdemeanor prosecution of these individuals.
“This decision reflects the values we have in Saint Paul to protect and promote our First Amendment rights to freedom of the press,” Mayor Coleman said. “A journalist plays a special role in our democracy and that role is just too important to ignore. At the scene, the police did their duty in protecting public safety. In this decision, we are serving the public’s interest to maintain the integrity of our democracy, system of justice and freedom of the press.”
The decision will only affect people identified as journalists who face the misdemeanor charge. Recognizing the growing media profession in print, broadcast and the Internet, the city attorney’s office will use a broad definition and verification to identify journalists who were caught up in mass arrests during the convention. It is not known how many cases this decision will affect.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Help to free the press

From: "Josh Silver," ;

Dear Richard,

We've delivered your message and St. Paul has heard us loud and clear. Keep the momentum going.

Tell Your Friends

On Friday, we delivered your letter to St. Paul authorities, telling them that we won't stand for the intimidation and harassment of journalists.

With many of the arrested journalists at our side we delivered more than 60,000 letters (collected in less than 48 hours) demanding that St. Paul authorities drop charges against all journalists arrested during last week’s Republican National Convention.

The charges have not been dropped yet, but we are going to keep the pressure on until they are. If you have not already, please send this email to your friends and ask them to help join our call.

In the meantime, here are videos of the event filmed by the citizen journalists at

Watch the press conference at City Hall:

Watch the delivery of your letter to City Attorney John Choi:

Watch Local TV Coverage of Our Event:

"From the pre-convention raids to the ongoing harassment and arrests of journalists, these have been dark days for press freedom in the United States," said Nancy Doyle Brown of the Twin Cities Media Alliance, before she helped to deliver the Free Press letters.

"Tragically, there are stories that the world needed to hear this week that will never be told," Brown said. "They won't be told because reporters working on them were sitting in the back of squad cars, were stripped of their cameras, or were face down on the pavement with their hands cuffed behind their backs."

Many journalists still face charges. Free Press will not rest until these charges are dropped. You can help by sending more letters to St. Paul:

Tell a Friend to Take Action:

Friday's rally sent a powerful message in support of journalists and free speech and against press intimidation. You played a vital role in making this happen.

Thank you,

Josh Silver
Executive Director
Free Press

P.S. A generous Free Press supporter has offered a $300,000 matching grant. Help us meet this ambitious goal! Your gift today will help Free Press continue to do our work.

Take action on this important campaign at:

Tell your friends about this campaign at:

Note: Free Press is a national nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Free Press does not endorse or oppose any candidate for public office.


Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Learn more at

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Freedom of the press no longer

This weeks episode of NOW on PBS (KEET ch 13) has a poignant interview with Amy Goodman, about St Paul Police's denying freedom of the press by arresting credentialed journalist and committing "preemptive arrests" against would be protesters.

This was the most striking 10 minutes of television of the entire week, if not my entire life.

The weeks schedule is at the bottom of this email.


Amy Goodman on her Convention Arrest

David Brancaccio talks to award-winning radio and television host Amy Goodman. Goodman was arrested while questioning police about the detention of two of her show's producers during their coverage of street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman has called the police presence "overly aggressive." Her arrest was caught on tape and circulated around the Internet.

Goodman shares her experience with NOW and talks about freedom of the press, the role of the police, and what happens when the two intersect.

These Related Links:

I-Witness Video: Protests in St. Paul:

Los Angeles Times: Amy Goodman's Arrest:

YouTube: Footage of Goodman's Arrest:

Democracy NOW:

Now's schedule for this week's show on KEET in Humboldt is below.

Find the schedule for your area here:

Now on PBS
A report on the Republican National Convention

Saturday, September 6, 9:00 PM

Sunday, September 7, 2:00 AM

Sunday, September 7, 4:30 AM

Sunday, September 7, 4:30 AM

Sunday, September 7, 3:30 PM

Sunday, September 7, 3:30 PM

Sunday, September 7, 5:00 PM

Sunday, September 7, 9:00 PM

Monday, September 8, 1:00 AM


Friday, September 5, 2008

More arrests at RNC

"The tactic of blocking people on the bridge could very well have prevented a lot of activity later tonight. Clearly there were a number of people with no intention of being law-abiding tonight."
-- Sheriff in St. Paul


Police Arrest 200 in March on GOP Convention, Including Journalists
Friday 05 September 2008
by: Ryan J. Foley and Martiga Lohn, The Associated Press

Over 600 people were arrested over the past week in St. Paul during protests at the Republican Convention, including at least two dozen reporters. (Photo: Carlos Gonzalez / Star Tribune)
St. Paul, Minnesota - Police surrounded and arrested about 200 protesters Thursday night after a lengthy series of marches and sit-ins timed to coincide with Sen. John McCain's acceptance of the Republican Party's nomination for president.

Caught up in the clash were several reporters assigned to cover the event, including Amy Forliti and Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press. Officers ordered them to sit on the pavement on a bridge over Interstate 94 and to keep their hands over their heads as they were led away two at a time.

The arrests came three days after AP photographer Matt Rourke, also on assignment covering the protests, was arrested. He was released without being charged Monday after being held for several hours. Forliti and Krawczynski, who were among at least 19 members of the media detained, were issued citations for unlawful assembly and released.

Also see below:
"If You Are on This Bridge You Are Under Arrest" •

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said the St. Paul police department and its police chief decided that members of the media would be issued citations and released.

Fletcher said he expected most of the charges would be for unlawful assembly.

"Whoever got arrested was whoever didn't disperse and was still on the bridge," Fletcher said. "The tactic of blocking people on the bridge could very well have prevented a lot of activity later tonight. Clearly there were a number of people with no intention of being law-abiding tonight."

The confrontation resulted in at least 200 arrests, Fletcher said. Protesters had gone ahead with a planned march near the state Capitol even though their permit had expired.

The protest began at 4 p.m. with a rally on the Capitol Mall. When marchers tried an hour later to march from the Capitol to the Xcel Energy Center, where McCain accepted his party's nomination for president, they were stopped by lines of police in gas masks and riot gear.

Police told them their permit to march expired at 5 p.m.

Marchers tried to cross two different bridges leading from the Capitol to the Republican National Convention site but were blocked by the officers backed by snow plows and other vehicles.

A cat-and-mouse game followed as protesters moved around the Capitol area, splintered, and then organized into a marching force again. The size of the crowd varied from a high of about 1,000 down to a hundred and back to around 500.

About three hours into the standoff, about 300 protesters sat down on a major thoroughfare and police closed the four-lane boulevard. Officers then set off smoke bombs and fired seven percussion grenades, causing protesters to scatter.

Some of the scattering protesters entered a residential area north of the Capitol. Later, at least three smoke bombs were discharged in the area of apartments and houses.

About two hours into the standoff, police began arresting people and police were still processing people more than three hours later.

"The important thing is even though we didn't have a permit to march, people have decided they want to keep protesting despite all these riot police," said Meredith Aby, a member of the Anti-War Committee.

Even as protesters were being arrested, the mood was much more relaxed than earlier in the week. It even turned festive at times.

More than 600 people have been arrested in the past week, most on Monday, when violence broke out at the end of another anti-war march.


Associated Press writers Amy Forliti and Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report.


"If You Are on This Bridge You Are Under Arrest"
Friday 05 September 2008


by: Paul Demko, The Minnesota Independent

I was going to call it a night. After nearly three hours of observing the cat-and-mouse game between protesters and police the scene was starting to get tiresome. (Best protester chant of the night: "You're hot, you're cute, now take off you're riot suit.")

I planned to meet a friend for a drink at the Great Waters Brewing Company in downtown St. Paul. But this notion was foiled by the fact that dozens of cops in riot gear were blocking the bridge at Rice Street and John Ireland Boulevard. "There's an explosive device that the bomb squad is investigating," we were told. Other routes into downtown were also being blocked by police officers. There seemed to be no route out of the chaos.

So I headed north towards University Avenue, where the protesters appeared to be gravitating. A cloud of smoke could be scene near the Greyhound bus station. I broke into a jog through the Sears parking lot with a crowd of folks to see what was happening. Cops on bicycles were swarming all around. Soon the smoke was accompanied by percussive grenades.

As I approached the west end of the Sears building, deafening blasts began echoing all around me. A cop on a megaphone barked an order: "This is the police department. Your main method of leaving is southbound."

I retreated in a crowd towards the Marion Street bridge over I-94. Police officers in riot gear, wielding cans of mace, followed closely behind. "You're gonna get sprayed if you don't move," they stated repeatedly through their gas masks. Then more percussive grenades and smoke bombs, this time in the direction we were being directed by the cops to travel. So I turned and headed east, only to be confronted by more deafening blasts.

Eventually I ended up at the edge of the Marion Street bridge. The person directly in front of me approached an officer, explaining that he was trying to get to work. The cop's response: "Move your feet. You should have left a long time ago."

As we walked across the bridge, an officer addressed the crowd through a megaphone. "Sit down and put your hands on your head," he said. "If you are on this bridge, you are under arrest." Each end of the span was now surrounded by dozens of cops in riot gear. There were roughly (and this a highly arbitrary estimate) 400 people on the bridge.

After about fifteen minutes, the officers began searching and handcuffing everyone on the bridge. "Hands on your head," they repeatedly barked, cans of mace at the ready. A gentleman a few feet away from me - who I believe was a journalist - informed the officers that he was carrying a gun as they began to arrest him. They pulled him away from the crowd and a team of cops searched him and presumably removed the weapon.

Not long afterwards I was restrained in plasticuffs, thoroughly searched and seated on a sidewalk with other people who were being detained. My status as a journalist meant that I did not spend much time in cuffs. They segregated reporters and legal observers from the rest of the detainees. Our handcuffs were removed and we were seated on a grass median. Metro Transit buses were waiting to transport the not-so-fortunate others, presumably to the Ramsey County Jail.

Eventually I was placed in a van with eight others. We were driven across the Sears parking lot, given a citation for unlawful assembly and released. I got to keep my pair of plasticuffs as a souvenir. But the cops still have two of my pens.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

" the Constitution of the United States?"

Some of you may remember when Bobby Kennedy famously told the sheriff in Fresno that in America, you can't arrest someone just because you believe they may violate the law:

Robert Kennedy's first trip to see Chavez in Delano, California, began with a public hearing on the standoff between striking grape pickers and law enforcement, and it got his blood up. During the questioning of a sheriff who admitted to arresting strikers who looked "ready to violate the law," Kennedy shot back, "May I suggest that during the luncheon period of time that the sheriff and the district attorney read the Constitution of the United States?"

Apparently that is no longer the case:

"Any rational person planning to protest the GOP Convention would, in light of this Government spying and these police raids, think twice -- at least -- about whether to do so. That is the point of the raids -- to announce to citizens that they best stay in their homes and be good, quiet, meek, compliant people unless they want their homes to be invaded, their property seized, and have rifles pointed at them, too. The fact that this behavior is producing so little outcry only ensures, for obvious reasons, that it will continue in the future. We love our Surveillance State for keeping us safe and maintaining nice, quiet order."
From Glen Greenwald, attorney

To voice your disapproval: call the Ramsey County Sheriff's office at 651.487.5149 and the St. Paul Mayor's office at 651.266.8510.

Star Tribune columnist on arrests

Indiscriminate arrests leave behind a bad odor

By NICK COLEMAN, Star Tribune
September 3, 2008

Benjamin Franklin said, "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days."

Well, today is Day Four of the GOP Convention. And for some Minnesotans, there is an unpleasant odor in the air - especially in the view of those swept up in Monday's arrests in St. Paul through no fault of their own.

"I didn't think it was possible in the USA that police would just 'round up the usual suspects' and pick out the guilty ones later," said Steve Wells, a Minneapolis attorney. "I'm outraged."

Wells' 17-year-old-son Daniel was arrested Monday while trying to get to the Labor Day concert on Harriet Island. He was released from jail about 4 a.m., and made it to the first day of school at Southwest High. Another 17-year-old from Eden Prairie, also arrested while trying to get to the concert, had his photo flashed around the world, identifying him as one of the anarchists attempting to disrupt the convention. But in the picture, he is wearing all white with a red cap; the actual anarchists are in black.

A Minnesota Nice myth has popped up that none of the 300 arrested are from here. Message: Don't worry about them. They're outsiders who deserved it.

Many did. They wanted to provoke police to show the strong-arm tactics they believe rule the nation. The cops behaved professionally, and with restraint, for most of the day. But in some cases, journalists, onlookers and everyone else was fair game. Even one Republican got arrested.

Sam Welna, 22, is a faithful Republican who has a degree in political science from the U of M and has worked for Republican state Sen. David Hann. He was arrested Monday on a bike path along Shepard Road while watching the protests and attempting, unsuccessfully, to obey what he said were contradictory police orders. He was still in jail at 8 p.m. last night, waiting to be released after pleading not guilty to unlawful assembly.

"We support the efforts of police to prevent personal injury and property damage," his parents, Mark and Cathy, wrote to me. "We are however appalled at the actions that have resulted in our son's loss of freedom for three days."

Welna "was caught up in what we call a 'sweep,' " says attorney Phil Villaume, who helped train protest observers how to avoid arrest. "He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But the police should use more discretion before they make these wholesale kinds of arrests. They seem to have been trying to be intimidating."

The Welnas think the cops may have thought Sam was from out of town because he was wearing a University of Kansas T-shirt. Then again, they point out, "most attending the Republican convention this week are from out of town."

Watch out, Republican delegates.

Meanwhile, in the strangely surreal city that resembles St. Paul but has lost much of that town's fabled charm, the GOP's pistol-packin' mama, Sarah Palin, rocked the house last night at the Xcel Energy Center. Tonight, it is John McCain's turn. Then, our ripening guests will leave -- delegates, protesters, out-of-town cops, media.

Maybe that will clear the air. • 612-673-4400


St. Paul Star Tribune on police response

Officials defend response as "measured"; critics say police were "spoiling for a fight."

By RANDY FURST and ANTHONY LONETREE, Star Tribune staff writers
Last update: September 3, 2008 - 11:29 PM

As the city of St. Paul heads into one last day of convention hoopla -- and one final day of protests -- state civil liberties leaders have accused St. Paul police of making many improper arrests and in some cases, provoking more problems.

"I think some of the police on the street have been very aggressive physically," said Charles Samuelson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota. "The phrase is 'spoiling for a fight.'"

But Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner did not think police were overzealous. "I see a pattern of trying to respond in a measured way," she said.

The dispute over how police handled the protests will likely be played out in Ramsey County District Court over many months. Of 71 felony cases brought by the police this week to the county attorney's office, 27 cases, or 38 percent, have been dismissed outright.

With about 300 local arrests so far, St. Paul has already doubled the 154 arrests in Denver during the Democratic National Convention.

"Nobody was charged with felony riot," said Sonny Jackson, a Denver police spokesman. Demonstration crowds were also considerably smaller in Denver.

Many arrests involved individuals or small groups, but there also were two instances Monday where groups of 40 to 80 people were arrested. It was likely during those incidents that bystanders may have gotten caught in the middle. Some of those were journalists and students.

'Look at the footage'

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman defended police officers in a Wednesday interview.

"We have for a year watched people who made very clear that they were coming to the city of St. Paul to commit criminal activity," Coleman said.

"What I have said from the beginning is that if you come to pick up a sign to exercise your constitutional rights, you'd be welcome, and we saw that. We had 10,000 people who successfully and peacefully marched on Monday."

Coleman said he watched police "in the face of taunts and swearing and spitting, stood there, very, very reserved ... They didn't react to that."

Said St. Paul police commander Doug Holtz: "We're telling the citizens of St. Paul: 'You look at the footage, you look at the actions of these criminals, and you tell me as a citizen that these actions were lawful and that the police didn't act appropriately.'"

Asked about concerns that people might take away the wrong image of St. Paul, St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington acknowledged that numerous residents have told him "this is a different side of St. Paul than they would have liked to have seen."

Five St. Paul City Council members issued a statement Wednesday: "We urge everyone to keep in mind that most of us have only heard fragments of stories about the events of the past few days. Sometimes these fragments, taken out of their context, make it seem that law enforcement has overstepped or overreacted. We regret that some peaceful demonstrators got caught in the middle of criminal actions and law enforcement trying to stop this activity."

Lawsuit possible

Shamako Noble, president of the Hip Hop Congress in San Jose and a member of the group that organized the peaceful Poor People's March on Tuesday that included about 2,000 people, noted that hundreds of officers in riot gear lined the streets as they marched.

He said their demeanor, with tear-gas guns at the ready, seemed to escalate the situation rather than calm it. He noted that marshals from his own group successfully policed their march, getting protesters who shouted at police to keep moving.

While not approving lawlessness, Teresa Nelson, ACLU's counsel, said there was a "good possibility" her group will file a civil rights lawsuit for wrongful arrests "similar to what happened in New York" in 2004, where people were swept up and arrested without proper cause. New York has paid out $2 million in damages. She decried the arrest of what she said were at least eight journalists "swept up" by police while they covered street confrontations.

Another test?

The reaction of police may be tested again today when the Anti-War Committee, a local group, will march to the Xcel Energy Center where U.S. Sen. John McCain will speak tonight, accepting the Republican nomination. The committee, which has a history of civil disobedience, may be planning more of the same.

By far the most dramatic arrests involve eight people connected with the anarchist RNC Welcoming Committee, seven of whom were arrested in raids before the convention began and are now charged with conspiracy to riot.

A litany of accusations from undercover police and informants is detailed in an 18-page search warrant. The group allegedly planned to build bleach and gasoline bombs, disable vehicles, lob feces and urine at police, and blockade streets, bridges and freeways to keep delegates from the convention, among other things.

Bruce Nestor of the National Lawyers Guild, one of the attorneys representing the eight in the initial phase, called it, "overcharging what at most was an expressed intention to block traffic. My concern is they are going to convict people for their political beliefs."

Randy Furst • 612-673-7382 Anthony Lonetree • 651-298-1545

More on RNC arrest of journalists

Why We Were Falsely Arrested
Wednesday 03 September 2008

by: Amy Goodman, Truthdig

St. Paul, Minnesota - Government crackdowns on journalists are a true threat to democracy. As the Republican National Convention meets in St. Paul, Minn., this week, police are systematically targeting journalists. I was arrested with my two colleagues, "Democracy Now!" producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, while reporting on the first day of the RNC. I have been wrongly charged with a misdemeanor. My co-workers, who were simply reporting, may be charged with felony riot.

The Democratic and Republican national conventions have become very expensive and protracted acts of political theater, essentially four-day-long advertisements for the major presidential candidates. Outside the fences, they have become major gatherings for grass-roots movements-for people to come, amidst the banners, bunting, flags and confetti, to express the rights enumerated in the Constitution's First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Behind all the patriotic hyperbole that accompanies the conventions, and the thousands of journalists and media workers who arrive to cover the staged events, there are serious violations of the basic right of freedom of the press. Here on the streets of St. Paul, the press is free to report on the official proceedings of the RNC, but not to report on the police violence and mass arrests directed at those who have come to petition their government, to protest.

It was Labor Day, and there was an anti-war march, with a huge turnout, with local families, students, veterans and people from around the country gathered to oppose the war. The protesters greatly outnumbered the Republican delegates.

There was a positive, festive feeling, coupled with a growing anxiety about the course that Hurricane Gustav was taking, and whether New Orleans would be devastated anew. Later in the day, there was a splinter march. The police-clad in full body armor, with helmets, face shields, batons and canisters of pepper spray-charged. They forced marchers, onlookers and working journalists into a nearby parking lot, then surrounded the people and began handcuffing them.

Nicole was videotaping. Her tape of her own violent arrest is chilling. Police in riot gear charged her, yelling, "Get down on your face." You hear her voice, clearly and repeatedly announcing "Press! Press! Where are we supposed to go?" She was trapped between parked cars. The camera drops to the pavement amidst Nicole's screams of pain. Her face was smashed into the pavement, and she was bleeding from the nose, with the heavy officer with a boot or knee on her back. Another officer was pulling on her leg. Sharif was thrown up against the wall and kicked in the chest, and he was bleeding from his arm.

I was at the Xcel Center on the convention floor, interviewing delegates. I had just made it to the Minnesota delegation when I got a call on my cell phone with news that Sharif and Nicole were being bloody arrested, in every sense. Filmmaker Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films and I raced on foot to the scene. Out of breath, we arrived at the parking lot. I went up to the line of riot police and asked to speak to a commanding officer, saying that they had arrested accredited journalists.

Within seconds, they grabbed me, pulled me behind the police line and forcibly twisted my arms behind my back and handcuffed me, the rigid plastic cuffs digging into my wrists. I saw Sharif, his arm bloody, his credentials hanging from his neck. I repeated we were accredited journalists, whereupon a Secret Service agent came over and ripped my convention credential from my neck. I was taken to the St. Paul police garage where cages were set up for protesters. I was charged with obstruction of a peace officer. Nicole and Sharif were taken to jail, facing riot charges.

The attack on and arrest of me and the "Democracy Now!" producers was not an isolated event. A video group called I-Witness Video was raided two days earlier. Another video documentary group, the Glass Bead Collective, was detained, with its computers and video cameras confiscated. On Wednesday, I-Witness Video was again raided, forced out of its office location. When I asked St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington how reporters are to operate in this atmosphere, he suggested, "By embedding reporters in our mobile field force."

On Monday night, hours after we were arrested, after much public outcry, Nicole, Sharif and I were released. That was our Labor Day. It's all in a day's work.


Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Arrests at RNC (3 reports)

"Conducting mass arrests and raiding meeting places of innocent Americans exercising their constitutional right to express political dissent are antithetical to the fundamental values of our democracy,"

"This is sending the wrong message. Regardless of how you feel about these people...they had a right to be there."


Three UK journalists arrested at RNC for alleged rioting

By James R. Carroll and Lesley Stedman Weidenbener • The Courier-Journal • September 3, 2008

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Three people connected with the University of Kentucky’s student newspaper were arrested Monday on charges of rioting outside the Republican National Convention.

Those arrested were UK senior Edward Matthews and sophomore Britney McIntosh, both journalism students and photographers for the Kentucky Kernel, and James Winn, a photo advisor for the newspaper.

The three spent Monday night and all day yesterday in the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center in St. Paul, according to a spokeswoman for the Ramsey County, Minn., Sheriff’s Department. She was a volunteer and asked that her name not be used.

Matthews and McIntosh were awaiting formal charges of felony rioting, while Winn was awaiting formal charges for rioting, the spokeswoman said. If formal charges are not filed by noon today, the three would be released, she said.

Kernel Editor-in-chief Brad Luttrell said the photographers were not on assignment for the newspaper. However, he said they intended to go to St. Paul to document the protests.

“I’m very sure none of the three crossed any lines,” he said. “They’re some of the most ethical people we have.”

Luttrell said that’s why he was surprised to get a call about the arrests today.

“We knew the police would be out in force,” he said. “We talked about how to be careful. We know photographers can get arrested.”

The photographers had press passes visible and emergency numbers written on their arms in case they were arrested, Luttrell said.

Winn, the photo advisor, is a former photographer for The Courier-Journal.

Carla Winn said she and her husband were attempting to shoot pictures of a clash between police in riot gear and protesters who were disrupting traffic and breaking windows.

“We came around the corner and there was a rush of people,” she said.

Winn said her husband and the students got rounded up in a group of protesters and journalists that were being arrested by police.

“They didn’t really care if you were media or not,” she said. “He was shooting pictures the whole time. It was obvious he wasn’t a protester.”

She said the last time she had spoken with her husband he had not been told what the charges against him were.

Carla Winn said her husband and the students were being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

A call late last night to the ACLU’s office in St. Paul was not immediately returned.

Reporter James R. Carroll can be reached at (202) 906-8141. Reporter Lesley Stedman Weidenbener can be reached at (317) 444-2780.


ACLU condemns mass arrests of RNC demonstrators

Nick Langewis

September 2, 2008

The American Civil Liberties Union is calling for investigation into charges of mass arrests and police brutality as the Republican National Convention goes on.

"Conducting mass arrests and raiding meeting places of innocent Americans exercising their constitutional right to express political dissent are antithetical to the fundamental values of our democracy," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero.

In the run-up to the convention, the ACLU of Minnesota filed five lawsuits aiming to protect free speech and due process rights for convention attendees and demonstrators this week. Pre-convention home raids conducted in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area over the weekend included the headquarters of anarchist organization RNC Welcoming Committee and a "hippie house" inhabited by members of Food Not Bombs. Dozens were detained and six arrested.

Reports of mass arrests continue. On Tuesday, at least three people were arrested during a march of nearly a thousand organized by the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign. This follows numerous Monday occurrences, which include the arrest of an Associated Press photographer and Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, along with 139 felony charges issued among nearly 300 demonstrators, whose arrests were made with such chemical aids as pepper spray and tear gas.

"Free speech has to be safeguarded during the Republican National Convention, as the workings of our democracy in the streets are as important as those in convention halls," Romero added. "Allegations of police misconduct must be investigated thoroughly and free speech must be safeguarded for the remainder of the convention."


Police raid RNC protest sites in Twin Cities

By Abby Simons, Heron Marquez Estrada and Bill McAuliffe, Star Tribune
August 30, 2008 - 6:26 PM

Ramsey County authorities conducted raids across Minneapolis and St. Paul Friday and Saturday as a pre-emptive strike against disruptive protests of the Republican National Convention.

Five people were arrested and more than 100 were handcuffed, questioned and released by scores of deputies and police officers, according to police and elected officials familiar with the raids.

In a statement Saturday morning, Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said the St. Paul raid targeted the RNC Welcoming Committee, a group he described as "a criminal enterprise made up of 35 self-described anarchists...intent on committing criminal acts before and during the Republican National Convention."

"These acts include tactics to blockade and disable delegate buses, breaching venue security and injuring police officers," Fletcher said. Deputies seized a variety of items that they believed were tools of civil disobedience: a gas mask, bolt cutters, axes, slingshots, homemade "caltrops" for disabling buses, even buckets of urine.

But the raids drew immediate condemnation from activists and St. Paul City Councilman Dave Thune, whose district includes the former theater at 627 Smith Avenue South, which was rented by activists as a gathering space.

"This is not the way to start things off," Thune said Saturday morning. "This is sending the wrong message. Regardless of how you feel about these people...they had a right to be there."

On Saturday afternoon, law agents surrounded 951 Iglehart Av. in St. Paul where members of I-Witness Video, a New York-based group that monitors police conduct during protests, were staying. They were detained and handcuffed but eventually freed without charges.

At a news conference Saturday, Cheri Honkala of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, one of the protest groups, described the Friday raid and an earlier one Thursday that evicted a demonstrators' camp on Harriet Island as "terrorism" intended to divert attention from issues the protest groups are raising and cast the news as police versus protestors.

Thune was especially critical of Fletcher for taking action within St. Paul city limits.

"I'm really ticked off...the city is perfectly capable of taking care of things," Thune said. "If they had found anything that could have been used to commit a crime they would have arrested somebody."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

St. Paul police arrest member of the media at RNC

email Keith Olbermann at Countdown on MSNBC and ask if he will cover this story:

cosign a public letter demanding that press intimidation cease immediately, and that all charges be dropped. It will be delivered immediately to St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, the RNC Host Committee and the local prosecuting attorneys.


(view video of Goodman's arrest)

"Democracy Now's" Amy Goodman Arrested in St. Paul
Monday 01 September 2008
by: Democracy Now!

Editor's Note: "Democracy Now!" host Amy Goodman was arrested Monday afternoon in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she was covering the Republican National Convention. Police seized Goodman as she attempted to defend two "Democracy Now!" producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, who had just been arrested on "probable cause for riot." Goodman and her colleagues were held at the Ramsey County Jail, then released Monday night.

Earlier this month, before the Democratic and Republican conventions began, Goodman wrote an op-ed warning of an impending police crackdown in Denver and St. Paul. "Dissent is essential to the functioning of a democratic society," Goodman wrote. "There is no more important time than now." -ms/TO

St. Paul - Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar have all been released from police custody in St. Paul following their illegal arrest by Minneapolis Police on Monday afternoon.

All three were violently manhandled by law enforcement officers. Abdel Kouddous was slammed against a wall and the ground, leaving his arms scraped and bloodied. He sustained other injuries to his chest and back. Salazar's violent arrest by baton-wielding officers, during which she was slammed to the ground while yelling, "I'm Press! Press!," resulted in her nose bleeding, as well as causing facial pain. Goodman's arm was violently yanked by police as she was arrested.

On Tuesday, Democracy Now! will broadcast video of these arrests, as well as the broader police action. These will also be available on:

Goodman was arrested while questioning police about the unlawful detention of Kouddous and Salazar who were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman's crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were arrested on suspicion of rioting, a felony. While the three have been released, they all still face charges stemming from their unlawful arrest. Kouddous and Salazar face pending charges of suspicion of felony riot, while Goodman has been officially charged with obstruction of a legal process and interference with a "peace officer."

Democracy Now! forcefully rejects all of these charges as false and an attempt at intimidation of these journalists. We demand that the charges be immediately and completely dropped.

Democracy Now! stands by Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar and condemns this action by Twin Cities' law enforcement as a clear violation of the freedom of the press and the First Amendment rights of these journalists.

During the demonstration in which the Democracy Now! team was arrested, law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force against protesters and journalists. Several dozen demonstrators were also arrested during this action, including a photographer for the Associated Press.

Amy Goodman is one of the most well-known and well-respected journalists in the United States. She has received journalism's top honors for her reporting and has a distinguished reputation of bravery and courage. The arrest of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar and the subsequent criminal charges and threat of charges are a transparent attempt to intimidate journalists.


Democracy Now! is a nationally-syndicated public TV and radio program that airs on over 700 radio and TV stations across the US and the globe.