Sep 2012 24

by Lee Camp

You’ve heard it before from rappers – C.R.E.A.M. – Cash Rules Everything Around Me. Does it? Or is money just a simple measuring stick that we’ve allowed to run away with itself? Are people dying because of our simplistic inability to wrap our heads around these funny green pieces of paper? Or is it possible…Sorry! Gotta run! They’re announcing the Lottery numbers!


Sep 2012 21

An excerpt from Greg Palast’s new book, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, including a comic book by Ted Rall and an introduction by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

In 1996, Republicans were investigating President Clinton, that is, sniffing at his zipper and a wet cigar.

But I follow the money, not the semen. My target was an electric company, Entergy, one of Hillary Clinton’s law clients whom I’d been tracking since 1985.* The Entergy money trail took me from Little Rock, Arkansas, to China, and right into the Oval Office. This was a hell of a lot more serious than an intern under the desk.

When Bill Clinton became president, Hillary’s Little Rock client suddenly became a transglobal power-industry behemoth. Entergy bought the Indian Point nuclear plants in New York and the entire electricity system of London, England. Its big score was to team up with the Riady family of Indonesia, ethnic Chinese billionaires with big plans to run the power systems of China.

But the Riadys and Entergy needed Clinton and his Commerce Secretary Ron Brown to grease up the Chinese for them, beginning with Brown taking Entergy bosses on a deal-making trip to China.

Secretary Brown was not pleased. According to his long-time business partner and love interest, Nolanda Hill. Brown fumed, “I’m not Hillary’s motherfucking tour guide!”

The problem for the secretary was not the deed but the price. Brown, previously chairman of the Democratic Party, had enthusiastically endorsed a Hillary cash-for-access scheme: $10,000 for coffee with the president, $100,000 for a night in the Lincoln bedroom. But he resented the discount rate Hillary put on US executives joining Brown’s own lucrative trade missions. The commerce secretary pouted, “I’m worth more than $50,000 a pop!”

But Brown had nothing to fear regarding his price: the Clinton campaign chest got a lot more than fifty thousand for the “pop.”

Now follow this:

On June 22, 1994, the billionaire James Riady met with Webster Hubbell, former associate attorney general and Hillary Clinton’s former law partner.

On June 23, Riady met with Hubbell for breakfast, then went to the White House, then returned to meet again with Hubbell, then made two more treks to the White House.

On June 26, videotape shows the beginning of a meeting in the Oval Office between President Clinton and Riady before the tape goes blank.

On June 27, Riady retains Hubbell as a consultant to Entergy.

How much advising Hubbell could do from prison, it was not clear.

At the time of his meetings with Riady, when he got his check, Hubbell was under indictment for fraudulently inflating his legal bills, a felony. He pled guilty.

Now, I’ve conducted investigations of lawyer over-billing. How can one law partner fake detailed time logs without the complicity of another lawyer in the firm? Hillary’s logs were worth close inspection by authorities.

Funny thing about Hillary’s billing records: when requested for disclosure in an unrelated matter, they dis-appeared. First, her law firm’s computers went kablooey. Then the paper printouts vanished. But during the 1992 presidential campaign, just before the logs disappeared, her partner Web Hubbell secretly combed them over, line by line.

Hubbell knew his own logs were phony, and he understood the consequences of exposure: prison. Ultimately, the bloated hours on those records caused him to lose his law license, his Justice Department post, and his freedom—twenty-one months in the slammer.

What did Hubbell see and know about Hillary’s own billing logs? Hubbell won’t say, except for a cryptic remark, after seeing her bills, that “every lawyer” fabricates records. Does “every” include Hillary? Hubbell wouldn’t say.

If he ratted out Hillary, he might have bargained himself an easy plea bargain. But Hubbell was a champ: silent. Why would Hubbell choose to do time on the chain gang over testifying about Hillary? Could it be the $100,000 from the Riadys? (Altogether, Hubbell collected half a million dollars in the weeks up to his entering the slammer.)

Hillary’s billing records finally reappeared, two years later, just outside her office, right after Hubbell’s refusal to testify against her.

Maybe the Clintons knew nothing about the Riady money flowing to prison-bound Hubbell. Knowledge of the payments would suggest they were buying Hubbell’s silence. That would be a criminal offense. An impeachable offense.

In notes I’ve obtained of the FBI’s conversation with the president (who was under oath), Clinton first said he couldn’t remember if Riady mentioned the $100,000 payment. Then, Clinton slyly opened the door to the truth, telling the agents, “I wouldn’t be surprised if James told me.”

Neither would I.

In all, James, his father, and Riady reps met with Clinton some ninety-eight times.

Four years after the Hubbell-Riady-Clinton meetings and payments, on December 31, 1998, Republican Senator Thompson’s Governmental Affairs Committee shut down. They hadn’t called the key witnesses against Clinton, and had issued no subpoenas for the key documents. Why? Why did the Republicans suddenly halt their inquiry into Clinton’s fundraising just as they were closing in on the damning evidence?

It was the same day Chairman Thompson shut down the investigation of the Koch Brothers.

I could put two and two together. But just to make sure, I called the committee to confirm that two plus two made four. Sure enough, my insider, requesting anonymity, confirmed it was a secret straight-up deal between Republican and Democratic senators.

“A truce: You don’t do Triad and we don’t do Clinton [on Riady cash].”

PS: How did some unknown governor from the Podunk state rise like a rocket from Little Rock to the White House, zoom out of nowhere to become, in 1992, the nominee of the Democratic Party? But Bill Clinton didn’t exactly come from nowhere: he came from the Democratic Leadership Council. DLC Chairman Bill Clinton presided over this new caucus of conservative Democrats, and his nomination as the Democrat’s presidential candidate ended half a century of control of the party by the tough-regulation philosophy of Franklin Roosevelt. Rather than FDR, the DLC’s antigovernment rhetoric, its complaining about bureaucrats, rules, and regulations, echoed the philosophy of the Koch-funded Cato Institute.

And that’s not surprising: the DLC was funded by $100,000 from the Koch Brothers.

Did the DLC investment pay off for the Kochs?

Once in the White House, Bill Clinton issued an Executive Order to force agencies to halt or roll back regulations based on costs to industry. Public health, welfare, and safety would no longer rule. The chief of Clinton’s National Partnership for Reinventing Government, Vice President Al Gore, directed the anti-regulatory attack with gusto, announcing he was “ending the era of big government.” Gore created “regulatory partnerships,” giving official review powers to executives of regulated industries. The Clinton-Gore administration radically slowed the movement to cap greenhouse gas emissions by heavily promoting a system of indulgences, “pollution credits,” that allowed polluters to simply purchase the right to pollute. C. Boyden Gray, then head of Citizens for a Sound Economy, the lobby group founded by the Kochs, devised this “cap-and-trade” system.

In later years, the Kochs’ Citizens for a Sound Economy became FreedomWorks, the precursor of the Tea Party. The Kochs’ chairman of FreedomWorks, that same Boyden Gray, is today leading the Tea Party crusade against “cap and trade,” the pollution credit system created by . . . Boyden Gray. If you think that’s a contradiction, you’re not paying attention. The strategy of well-timed, stepwise manipulation of national policy debate evidenced here is nothing if not brilliant. The Kochs play an elaborate game of chess and we can’t even see the board.

And did I say that the Kochs funded the rise of both presidential nominees, Clinton and his opponent, Bob Dole? Sure did. Billionaire Rule Number two: Don’t bet on a horse when you can buy the whole damn racetrack.

But there was still the little matter of criminality. Riady money from Indonesia, Koch money through “Children’s Future,” fake-o foundations and political hit squads posing as think tanks, all this funny juice running through political arteries was, of course, illegal.

Illegal, that is, until 2010, until Citizens United and SpeechNow. For $200 and a post office box provided by a sketchy lawyer, the Riadys, the Zetas Gang Inc., British Petroleum, Qaeda Corp, Charles Manson LLC, and Vladimir Putin Partners can all incorporate and dump cash into US campaigns till their dark hearts are content. And so too the Christian Coalition and the Chinese politburo, giving a whole new meaning to the term “Manchurian Candidate.”

One other thing: Just who are these “Citizens” that were “United” for Citizens United? How could this teeny group hire a supreme lawyer like Ted Olson to argue before the Supreme Court? Olson, former US solicitor general, doesn’t work for peanuts. How could Olson keep body and soul together during this time-consuming litigation? Apparently he was given leave from his duties as legal counsel at . . . Koch Industries.

Read the rest in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits. For more info visit:

* I was originally asked to investigate the company in 1981 by the attorney general of Arkansas, Bill Clinton. But I was a big-shot New York investigator with no interest in working for some small-time politician from Dawg Patch. Too bad: I could have put him on the straight path.


Sep 2012 21

[#S17 Popular Assembly in Zuccotti Park]

My goal was simple: to make it through the long Occupy Anniversary weekend with my person, camera, flash memory, and liberty intact. I managed to do this, but many of my fellow activists and journalists didn’t.

An organizer I’d chatted with while covering a protest outside Mitt Romney’s fundraising breakfast for billionaires on Friday, September 14, was essentially preemptively picked up two days later during a Sunday afternoon Occupy Anniversary concert at Foley Square. When we’d spoken, he’d voice concerns about the possibility of arrest since his name was on an #S17 Facebook event page. It therefore wasn’t a complete surprise when I heard he was indeed taken off the streets by authorities ahead of the big day.

I’d also witnessed multiple arrests while shooting a march to Zuccotti Park on the Saturday night, and over the weekend a pattern of a snatch and grab arrests targeting journalists had started to emerge* – likely in an effort to get their cameras off the street (the authorities apparently don’t like it when the whole world is watching their misdeeds). I therefore approached Monday, September 17 with a good deal of caution. Indeed, to an extent, it would be accurate to say law enforcement’s intimidation tactics were working on me.

A serious back injury means my running days are over – and being tackled to the ground might mean even my walking days are – so I was not exactly physically suited to covering the planned #S17 wildcat marches and swirl of mini-occupations in NYC’s financial district. Instead, I chose to cover a more chill gathering in Battery Park ahead of the big evening birthday Zuccotti Popular Assembly.

The park is supposed to be open to the public 24/7, however, shortly after the birthday cake was served, at 10 PM a mixed group of NYPD and private security employed by Brookfield (Zuccotti’s corporate owners) swept the high spirited but mostly well-behaved occupiers out. The park had been surrounded by barricades and a heavy police presence throughout the day, and with around 180 activists and journalists – not to mention a startled Wall St. trader (who was guilty of getting his iPhone out at the wrong time), an NLG legal observer, and a priest (I wish I was kidding) – already behind bars, most quit while they were ahead and called it a night, though a core group refused to be moved by the legally questionable display of force.

With Occupy gold in my camera I headed home to edit and upload my photos, however one of my colleagues who’d been covering the swirls of resistance I’d missed wasn’t so lucky. I’d been introduced to photojournalist Julie Reinhard via Occupied Stories, an OWS affinity group dedicated to publishing first person accounts from the movement. The group had asked to republish my series of posts from the Chicago NoNato protests in May of this year, and I’d since met up with them in person in New York. Julie is a very sweet, kind, and conscientious individual. She is certainly not the archetypical “trouble maker” you’d expect to see in the crosshairs of the NYPD. But then these are strange times, and our police forces nationwide seem to have a strange idea about who they’re there to protect and serve.

Below is Julie’s first person September 17 story. Suffice to say, it didn’t end quite they way she expected.

– Nicole Powers, SG Ed

UPDATE: 24 September, 2012
* Case in point, radio show host John Knefel, who just days before had interviewed SG contributor Greg Palast for his popular Radio Dispatch podcast. He’d fallen victim to NYPD’s snatch and grab tactics, and had written about it in a blog for Truthout. A video subsequently surfaced on Youtube which clearly shows three police officers pulling John off the sidewalk (where protesters were permitted to be) and into the street, where he was arrested in an exceedingly brutal manner.

[image courtesy of: @reclaimuc]

My #S17 Arrest by Occupy Photojournalist Julia Reinhart

There’s rarely a dull moment when they go marching in the land of Occupy, and the weekend of the one year anniversary ramped up to revive a lot of the energy seen swirling around Zuccotti Park last fall.

After a year of shaping their vision, forming their message, and battling with the police, the movement had a broad range of actions planned for Monday, September 17th, the day of the anniversary of the first tent pitched in Liberty Plaza [now know by its corporate “slave” name Zuccotti Park]. The overall plan showed that the past twelve months have forced Occupiers to evolve. No longer would the activity be focused on one massive march, but rather dispersed and mobile, adapting to responses by the police, but with the same goal they had from the beginning: To protest the machinery of Wall Street finance by shutting it down.

As I arrived near Zuccotti Park around 6AM, NYPD forces where already out and ready. Wall Street was barricaded from all sides, as was Zuccotti Park, the bull statue and parts of Broadway. The news media was out in force, with TV trucks clogging both sides of Broadway. Little brings out the news crews in New York City like the possibilities of a potential blood bath…Both the police and mass media seemed ready for that. But the occupiers had other ideas.

By 7AM, about 500 protesters had assembled in one of four assembly points, and led by Episcopalian bishop George Packard and other clerics, started marching down Broadway towards the intersection with Wall Street. The original plan was to block the intersection by sitting down in the street. However, barricades set up by NYPD forced protesters to stay on the sidewalk, and, rather than – as in the past – trying to battle their way through the barricades, the protesters decided to make their point by sitting down on the sidewalk instead. Still, the arrests quickly began, as now they were obstructing pedestrian traffic. The thought that maybe the barricades and lines of cops the NYPD had set up might do a better job of blocking passage than anyone sitting on a pavement ever could probably didn’t occur to the police commander in charge of the scene.

I had found myself stuck in the press penn that was handily provided on one corner of the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway, so I couldn’t see the actual arrests, but several arrestees were quickly led away. Looking for more freedom of movement and better angles for observation and photography, I decided to change venue and moved down Pine Street towards Nassau Avenue. As I reached the intersection of Nassau and Pine, the back side of Federal Hall, another popular flashpoint between OWS and NYPD, I encountered mayhem. Police had started to arrest protesters in this location and cops were grabbing at anything and anyone that couldn’t run fast enough – including a legal observer from the National Lawyers Guild, even though he was clearly marked by wearing a bright green hat marked “NLG Legal Observer.” I took some photos of arrests, but soon decided to move on further down towards Wall Street as I heard there were some activities going on there.

As I walked down Wall Street, protesters were marching on the sidewalk across the street from me, chanting and gearing up to block the intersection of Wall Street and Pearl. A massive contingent of police scooters along with cops in riot gear were standing at the ready. A police officer started to read out a dispersal order to the protesters assembled at the street corner, and anticipating a new sit-in and some arrest shots, I crossed the street to photograph the officer with his megaphone, as well as any upcoming interactions.

As I started photographing the scene – the cop with his megaphone and other officers standing around watching the protesters – I hear a voice over the megaphone saying: “If you don’t move, you will be arrested.” I took one more shot of the cops standing at the corner, when the white shirt officer in charge of the scene pointed at me and said: “That’s it. She’s done. Take her.” He promptly grabbed my hand.

I shouted out that I’m an independent photographer, and showed him my credentials from the National Press Photographers’ Association. The officer looked at my badge and said “they’re not ours, so I’m not interested.” (an independent account and a great photo can be found here) I was spun around and felt the zip ties tighten around my hands. This being my first arrest, I was surprised that I felt relatively calm and just let them do their thing, but I did notice that the cuffs were beginning to cut off the circulation in my hands.

[Photo of Julia Reinhart being arrested by Jessica Lehrman of Gothamist]

The white shirt officer handed me off to one of the cops standing next to him in riot helmets, and designated him to be the arresting officer, which meant he was now in charge of bringing me to the station for processing and staying with me until I was either released on a Desk Appearance Ticket or sent to court for arraignment. A couple of legal observers took my name and information, and several other observers asked for it too while I was being led away. At least I felt people would know where to look for me.

As I was being led to a van, my arresting officer was told that he couldn’t put me there as only contained males. So the officer turned around and called over the radio, “I have a body. I need a car.” While I was out of commission for the moment as a photographer, I still felt very much alive, and found that description of me rather disconcerting. Yet, the numbness in my hands continued to increase, so I decided that, rather than getting into argument with him over terminology, I’d plea my case for getting the cuffs loosened enough for the blood to be able to flow to my hands. The officer explained to me that the zip cuffs they were using could not be loosened without cutting them, and he couldn’t do that unless I was in a van. We walked back and forth searching for a van for me to be put into for another 10-15 minutes, until I was finally placed in front of a door, photographed with a polaroid camera, and placed into a bus – joining four others already in there with my backpack still on and my camera and press pass hanging down my front. When I asked again to get my cuffs loosened, the officer said he didn’t have a knife, so that would have to be done at the station.

Other arrested protesters joined us in the bus and a dialogue started soon amongst everyone: About the day’s protests, Occupy’s philosophy and other topics. One of the protesters started making his case for Occupy to two of the arresting officers sitting with us in the van, who seemed nice enough to engage in the conversation. Whether any hearts and minds were changed remains to be seen, but it seemed clear that once the confrontation of the actual protest was out the way a civilized conversation was possible to be had. Plus, the boss wasn’t listening, and some rank and file officers were not all that unsympathetic.

Blue shirted NYPD officers have been working without a contract for four years now, as their union and police leadership seem unable to come to an agreement over the officers’ compensation terms, pensions being a big bone of contention. The law however forbids providers of essential government services, such as the police department, to strike, so the officers have to keep working while negotiations drag on. Seems the plans being discussed for potential contract resolutions don’t sound attractive to those in the lower ranks.

Before the cops were ordered out of the van again to accommodate more arrestees, one of them finally cut my cuffs. Bt this time my hands were a darker shade of blue and deep imprints from the edges of the cuffs were visible on both my wrists. I was allowed to take off the backpack, put the camera into my bag, stretch out my fingers for a second, before I had to be re-cuffed, thankfully looser this time.

Overall the atmosphere in the van was quite festive. The other arrestees seemed to be at peace with their situation and were looking to make the most of it. One of the late arrivals managed to access his cell phone and started livestreaming from our van. Another one, sitting next to him started reciting some rap poems he had written about Occupy, manifesting some accute wordsmanship and creativity, while another protester accompanied him with a beat by banging against the backwall of the van.

About 90 minutes after my arrest, we were finally delivered to Central Booking at 1 Police Plaza for further processing. There I noticed that we were referenced to as “perps” (short for perpetrator). While this term may seem a tad less dehumanizing than “body,” it still felt hardly appropriate for a group of people arrested for such “crimes” as sitting down in an intersection or photographing on the sidewalk.

As we here herded across the outer courtyard of Central Booking and had our names and addresses taken, any bags etc. were removed. At this point the treatment I received seemed reasonably courteous. I had requested that the Swiss consulate be notified of my arrest, which seemed to make an impression. While I wasn’t necessarily expecting the need of diplomatic interference, I felt it important to ensure access to it, should the need arise. Given how little control I had over my every move (“two steps over here, back against the wall, one step over there”) it also felt good to mark at least a little corner of my territory.

I was pulled aside with another arrestee still wearing his press credentials around his neck. He was a livestreamer and reporter for a website based in Portland, Oregon. We were asked where our work could be seen and what we were doing exactly, then the questioning officer went away. I’m not sure whether he was a regular plain-clothed officer, but he was dressed in civilian clothing. Finally, my press pass still hanging around my neck, I was led into the back door of Central Booking, where my identity was verified. I had to pose for another photo – this time with the arresting officer – and was placed into a holding cell for further processing. My arresting officer seemed pleased with the photo of the two of us and showed it to me. I jokingly asked him whether we should put it on Facebook, he laughed but said no and that he didn’t want to be tagged.

In the holding cell I met one of my colleagues from the Occupied Stories website, who is also trained as a legal observer. She was arrested for hoola-hooping while directing pedestrian traffic in an intersection, leading her arresting officer to complain, “Lady, I don’t even know what to charge you with”. But, on orders of his white shirt officer, he arrested her anyway.

After a while I was taken out of the holding cell and led past the holding den containing many of the male protesters that had been arrested that morning – by that time there were around 70 of them. They were having a party, cheering on every protester who was led by, chanting, drumming, and even dancing. One officer passing by along with me shook his head and exclaimed, “What a zoo!” Others seemed less amused, but unsure what to do about it, so for the time being they let the protesters be. The holding room had glass windows, not merely bars, so the noise level wasn’t quite as bad as it could have been, but they were clearly heard all the way down to the holding pen I was about to be placed into.

I was led to another intake officer who collected all the possessions from my pockets, my press pass, and also my shoe-laces. I was allowed to make my phone call and rang my godmother, whose number was the only one within New York City I was able to remember under the circumstances. Other arrestees behind me where not so lucky. Several out-of-town protesters who had come to New York for the OWS anniversary didn’t have a local number to call. So they were sent off to their cells without being able to notify someone outside as to what had happened.

I was led into a block of nine cells, each designed for one occupant but sanctioned to hold up to four, furnished with a wooden blank with some mats on top, a sink at the wall, and a toilet beside it which didn’t afford any privacy what so ever. The front wall of the cells consisted of metal bars, so everyone walking by could see right in. My colleague and I were placed into the same cell, along with a sleeping medic and two out of town girls. We could also hear and communicate with the occupants from the other cells, which by that point held around 30 other protesters (we maxed out at 37 in our block). The two female intake officers were in a very foul mood, so any chanting or singing between the cells was met with verbal abuse and threats of delaying our release. We knew they didn’t have the authority to make such decisions, but it clearly put a damper on the festive mood in our corner of the building. Still, we quickly built solidarity to resolve the privacy issue the toilet situation presented. Every time one of us had to use the bathroom, the others lined up in a wall around her, facing towards the hallway, to shield her from view. We called it our Pee-ples Wall.

As the day dragged on conversations swerved from philosophy to politics. Also, my colleague gave advice to us less familiar with legal proceedings surrounding arrests as to what to expect in terms of release, possible punishment for different charges, etc. While at that time I was not given access to a lawyer (I had asked my godmother to contact a good one we both know on my behalf), it did feel good to have somebody knowledgeable on the subject in the room. Still, time passed slowly in the prison cell, even with the best of conversations, and gradually we all started to chomp at the bit to be released.

Some entertainment was provided by our guards trying to assemble a proper count of all female inmates in our block. First the one officer passed by, counting each head, expecting four arrestees to each cell. As they passed by our cell their count got out of synch, since we had five people in ours. However it took a moment to sink in, so they passed us by, kept counting, and about 2 cells later started to realize that something was amiss. They came back and counted again, then sent a second counter to do the math. Finally a third realized we had five ladies in our cell. “But it’s not supposed to be that way,” one of them exclaimed, pointing at one of us. “You were supposed to be in number seven.” After a good deal of headscratching they gave up and left things as they were.

Around 1PM “lunch” was served, which consisted of two sorry excuses for peanut butter & jelly or cheese sandwiches and a small carton of milk. I didn’t mind the PBJ in principle, but these consisted basically of two pieces of cardboard that had been dragged past a jar of peanut butter and a gotten drop of sugary something plopped on top. I was grateful for some food, and I do understand the impact of budget cuts, but this was ridiculous.

As the afternoon dragged on, one of the out-of-town girls got increasingly agitated as she became worried about what would happen to her and her friend. As she got more and more upset, and started screaming at the cops about not getting her phone call, her friend tried to calm her down, but to no avail. Irrespective of the tone in which she asked to make the call, it was indeed disturbing that she was denied what is ultimately one of her fundamental rights.

Around 5PM I was finally released with what is called a Desk Appearance Ticket and a charge of “Disorderly Conduct” – which photography in public apparently now qualifies as in the City of New York. This DAT gives me a court date for later arraignment, so I wouldn’t have to sit in jail until a judge finally had time to see me. Before I was let out, we had to retake those two Polaroid photos I had posed for during my arrest. Apparently, they had gotten “lost” in the shuffle, but I couldn’t help but notice that this time my press credentials were not hanging around my neck. The entire upper body is visible in these photos, so any press pass hanging around my neck would have been clearly visible.

While I found the experience of this arrest very insightful into a part of America I have never personally encountered before, it also angered me that I lost an entire day’s worth of photographic work over a bullshit arrest. I don’t blame the poor beat cop who got stuck with posing as my arresting officer. This issue begins with his superior who decided to arrest me for whatever reasons he had or was given. I can understand how the prison system can break people, given just how little humanity is showed to those it oversees. Obviously, through the view from my holding cell I’ve only scratched the surface of what prison life in America can be like, but the stories I’ve heard are beginning to make a whole lot more sense. My spirit is fine but my wrists still hurt, and parts of my hands still have no feeling, which sucks when you’re trying to hold a camera.

Also, if intimidation was the goal of me being snatched off the street, the plan has backfired. I have no intention of interfering with events as they unfold, but I believe that the emergence of a movement like Occupy is one of the largest news stories of our time, and as such it needs to be properly documented. That includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. So, I will keep taking my pictures, like it or not. But obviously, I need to do a better job of staying one step ahead of the body snatchers.

Prologue: September 20, 2012

When I first wrote this account, I was still rather shell shocked from the experience. Obviously, I missed a few surrounding pieces, and the story also had a side aspect I only learned of afterwards.

My arrest on Monday was not my first conflict with the NYPD this weekend. On Saturday evening, after a rather intense march from Washington Square Park down Broadway to Trinity Church, two photojournalists had been arrested within seconds of each other. Cory Clark, an independent writer and photographer from Philadelphia was taken down rather harshly by Deputy Inspector Edward Winski after being warned earlier that he was being targeted for arrest. New York-based photographer Charles Meacham moved into position to photograph Clark’s arrest, and was promptly himself arrested by Officer Winski.

As I set up to photograph that arrest, Winski turned to me, pointed and said, “You’re next!” I walked away without saying anything and continued to go about my work for the rest of Saturday night and all day Sunday without further incident. I didn’t make the connection originally, but upon further reflection I am now wondering whether my arrest on Monday was not indeed a direct consequence of this Saturday encounter.

As I learned after my release, by arresting me, the NYPD even created a minor international incident. As I was being led away from from the scene of my arrest I walked by a fellow photographer and asked her to contact the Swiss consulate. She took down my information and handed it to the NLG, who quickly called the consular legal department. Apparently they were extremely concerned and promptly contacted the State Department. While in Central Booking, I did notice that NYPD tried rather strenuously to make sure they followed procedure with my intake and holding, a courtesy not extended to all of my fellow arrestees.

When I spoke to the consular lawyer after my release I learned that they were clearly not amused about my treatment. I was also informed that NYPD should have called the consulate immediately after I had requested they contact them. Instead, as I was just about to be released, one cop walked up to me and said, “You had a call from the consulate. Do you want us to inform them about your arrest?” And after I said yes, he continued, “This got a bit delayed, as we first had to clear this with the Mayor’s office. But since you’re now being released, why don’t you just call them yourself?” According to the Swiss consular lawyer that was a violation of protocol, and also complete nonsense, as NYPD is well briefed on what to do in such cases.

Last but not least, I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry about this hack job by the Breitbart crew. I find myself accused of being an activist, rather than a journalist, because I posted a call to join an anti-Syria protest outside their consulate in Midtown on an Occupy forum, at a time when the slaughter of unarmed protesters in Syria was raging at a breath-taking pace but nobody was paying attention to it. How exactly does that disqualify me as a photojournalist? I suppose, I’ve hit a nerve somewhere.

More than 72 hours after my release my hands are still partially numb.

View Julia Reinhart’s Occupy Anniversary photo gallery here.


Sep 2012 20

by Lee Camp

We’re in the midst of an all-out information battle royale. Propaganda and mistruths are thrown around like hamburger helper at a food fight or lube at an orgy. The only way to fight the steady stream of bullshit and semi-automatic fluff pieces is to know the truth, to have the facts, to grasp the reality. But where do you go to do that?


Sep 2012 19

by Moby

Ok, I think I figured it out.

Mitt Romney is disdainful of anyone receiving government assistance because:

1. He comes from a rich and privileged background, so he’s never needed or received government assistance.


2. He comes from a rich and privileged background, so he’s never known anyone who’s needed or received government assistance.

Almost everyone I know has received some sort of government assistance, whether it’s student loans or small business loans or Medicare or Medicaid, and almost everyone I know now pays taxes and contributes to society.

I’ll use myself as an example.

I was the only child of a single working mom. We struggled a lot economically, and there were times when we lived off of food stamps and social security and government assistance. And then when I went to the University of Connecticut and SUNY Purchase I received Pell Grants and student loans.

So, according to Mitt Romney, I was part of the 47% “who are dependent upon government…who pay no income tax.” [As heard in a video obtained by Mother Jones] Mitt Romney then went on to say: “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

In the last 20 years I have either personally or professionally paid millions of dollars in income taxes to the state, local, and federal government. I have employed hundreds of people, who have in turn paid income taxes and in many cases have gone on to start their own businesses.

So I think it’s safe to say that the government assistance my mother and I received was money well spent. I was able to go to decent schools and get a decent education, all thanks to ‘government assistance.’ My mother and I were able to eat, all thanks to ‘government assistance.’ I was able to see doctors, all thanks to ‘government assistance.’ We were able to pay our rent at times thanks to ‘government assistance.’

Not to mention the roads, clean water, streetlights, police departments, fire departments, clean air, libraries, public transit, electricity, etc., that all came from the government and enabled my mother and I to stay alive and live good, educated, safe, and healthy lives.

Mitt Romney comes from extreme wealth. He has never once needed financial assistance from the government, as his family had millions and millions of dollars. But there are millions and millions and millions of Americans like me who didn’t come from extreme wealth and who needed help with education and food and healthcare and shelter, but who have gone on to start businesses and pay taxes.

We are not an ‘entitled’ class, we are not ‘dependent upon the federal government’ and we do not consider ourselves ‘victims.’ We are the hundreds of millions of Americans who had the misfortune of not being born to millionaire parents.

So I understand why Mitt Romney is disdainful of government assistance, as his parents paid for everything and he never needed help being fed or educated or looked after by doctors. I understand that in Mitt Romney’s entire life he’s never known anyone who’s needed student loans. He’s never known anyone who needed food stamps to keep their family fed. He’s never known anyone who’s had to spend hours in a health clinic just to get basic medical care. He’s never known anyone who couldn’t pay the rent.

I understand that Mitt Romney grew up with phenomenal wealth and privilege
but I don’t understand why that leads him to contemptuously dismiss anyone (like my mother and I) who have, at times, needed government help with food and education and shelter and health care.

Mitt Romney is a product of wealth and privilege. That does not give him the right to loathe and dismiss the rest of us who are not the product of wealth and privilege.

Oh, for some reason I was thinking of ‘Common People’ by Pulp when I heard Romney’s quotes.

– Moby, September 19, 2012

“But still you’ll never get it right,
Cos when you’re laid in bed at night,
Watching roaches climb the wall,
If you call your Dad he could stop it all.

You’ll never live like common people,
You’ll never do what common people do,
You’ll never fail like common people,
You’ll never watch your life slide out of view.”

– “Common People” by Pulp

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Sep 2012 19

by Steven Whitney

When traveling throughout the world, one learns a lot about the Dream of America by talking with whomever one meets along the way – taxi drivers, shopkeepers, writers and artists, students, and ordinary men and women with or without agendas of their own…almost anyone except the country’s elite and politicians.

Berlin, 1996

In the mid-80s, Berlin was a shadowed city within a divided nation, split into East and West by a concrete barricade that cut off all unauthorized passage between the two sectors. Actually two barriers about 50 yards apart, with manned guard towers overlooking what became known as “the death strip” in-between, the Berlin Wall put a punishing halt to the mass defections from the Eastern Bloc and became a global symbol of entrapment and oppression.

Standing at Checkpoint Charlie, looking from the American zone to the Soviet sector, drab residential buildings and factories filled the bleak landscape. Soviet tanks and the Stasi – arguably the most intrusive and repressive secret police of its time – prowled the streets under dark clouds spewed forth by gigantic industrial smokestacks, adding to an almost palpable sense of imprisonment.

Ten years later, with both the Wall and the USSR antiquities of a vanquished era, the united Berlin was a bustling metropolis determined to become one of the greatest and most sophisticated cities in the world. No expense was spared, no architectural or cultural plan was too extravagant. Giant cranes dotted the landscape like oil rigs on the west Texas plain. Berlin had become a modern “boom town.”

Yet several hundred miles south, the Bosnian conflict had become a sordid battleground of “ethnic cleansing.” Refugees from both sides fled north, and the Germans – a people imprisoned within their own walls for decades – took them in.

I was in Berlin to write a television film involving the journey of two families – one Christian, one Muslim – from the corpse-littered streets of Sarajevo to the German border. These were people who had left everything behind, families that had lost brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, and even children to the hatred of racial and religious persecution. They arrived in Germany without money, water, and food, possessing only the clothes they wore.

For research, I spent two days at one of the largest camps. Fenced in on multiple acres of flat, dry farmland, the refugees lived in tents erected by the government and guarded by UN forces. They were provided with basic medical care, immigration assistance, language classes, and small daily rations of food, water, and wine. And each day, more and more refugees arrived – hungry, sick, and weak from their desperate flights – until the camp resembled an overcrowded ghetto.

By the time I visited, literally tens of thousands or people were cramped into this makeshift Tent City. Yet I heard few complaints. Even fewer fights broke out. Bitterness and recrimination had for the most part evaporated in this netherworld of safe harbor. They were no longer Muslims and Christians torn apart by separate and warring ideologies, but survivors entwined by the brutal migration north.

I went from tent to tent, accompanied by translators. At each, I was invited inside and offered food and drink so I could more comfortably listen to the stories they wanted the world to hear. Their last portion of meat or wine, whatever they had left, was tendered. A few families had been in residence long enough to make Bosnian moonshine…and that was offered as well.

It struck me that in the aftermath of unimaginable horror, these people offered me everything they had left in the world. I was their guest and all their hardships would not deter them from being gracious hosts. Never before nor since has anyone ever offered me everything he or she had. It speaks to the overwhelming generosity of the impoverished and their inherent goodness.

We talked about their journeys, their hopes, and their imagined futures. When I asked each of them the key to their ongoing survival in the face of such devastating loss, they all replied with the same sentiment: “You must let go of hatred and forgive your enemies.”

They had many different questions about my own homeland, but the one thing they all wanted to know was this: did we truly practice religious freedom here?

I recited to them our First Amendment and it perfectly fulfilled their dream of America – a land where people of all religions are free to practice their beliefs without fear of bloodshed and discrimination…a nation where they could worship whatever they held sacred both in peace and in harmony with others.

I did not tell them that many people wanted to officially sanction the United States as a Christian Nation, just like the warlords in Bosnia sought to make that country either a Christian or Muslim nation. Some things are better left unsaid for dreams to soar undisturbed.

South Africa, 2001

I was reminded of the Bosnian camp when I flew to a country that for most of my life had been held in the strangling grip of apartheid, a rogue nation in which the majority was brutally held under the cruel thumb of a racist minority.

When the changeover finally occurred, most people throughout the world expected rivers of blood to flow in the streets – payback for a pitiless regime of torture, murder, and almost unimaginable repression. But for the country to succeed, national and racial unity was mandatory, so outside of a few isolated incidents, calmer heads prevailed and violence never went viral.

In the new South Africa, Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu led their people – black and white – to a peaceful aftermath of a startling and long overdue revolution by putting into play the transformative power of forgiveness. They even convened “Forgiveness Trials” under the newly created Truth and Reconciliation Commission in which victims and perpetrators alike bore witness to gross violations of human rights and amnesty was granted in cases of true repentance.

Was justice done?

Justice is always somewhat immeasurable. But a just country was born and sustained that otherwise would have faltered – old resentments and hatreds were put to the side and the awful cloak of “victimization” was avoided. Once again, harmony was achieved through simple and multiple acts of forgiveness.

And, too, wherever I went – from Johannesburg to Cape Town – both white and black South Africans talked openly about the benefits accrued by the national policy of forgiveness.

In times like ours, when senseless and widespread violence can be sparked at a moment’s notice over what seems to many the most trivial of slights, as happened last week, it’s important for those of all religions, cultures, and nationalities to appreciate the potential of forgiveness in bridging an oft times considerable communication gap to saner and more human understanding.

Sometimes, it is true – what is invisible to the eye is essential to the heart…and to a better life for the global community.

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Sep 2012 19

by Lee Camp

Conventional thinking is getting us nowhere. Right now we’ve got a lot of shit to deal with in this little world of ours, and the standard solutions are part of the problem. But who can we get to help us think outside the box? I know just the guy…