Archive for September, 2008|Monthly archive page

Fluctuating Values, Ancient Traditions

 

Today.  There was a lot of illusion in life today.  The illusion was about who we thought we were.

 

So begins the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  Today. 

 

It was Thomas Payne who said, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” 

 

Payne lived through revolutionary times.  These days so did I. 

 

Money helps create the illusions of grandeur in this life.  We fool ourselves. 

Unetaneh Tokef is a prayer that the Jews recite during the High Holy Days about the perils of the year to come.  The perils are all around us in America, as the banking system is on the brink, the value of all currency, of the things that help sustain illusion:   

 

How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,
Who shall live and who shall die…
Who shall be at peace and who shall be pursued,
Who shall be exalted and who shall be brought low…

 

 

Engaged with us in modern life and rooted in the ancient world which we have all inherited is this God.  He is always there with us through the suffering. 

 

Everything was going to be alright.  It was a good time to pray.  

 

Today. 

 

 

 

Followup: Economic Physics & the Big Bang Theory

Money and the laws of gravity. Calculating the speed of falls.  If quantum physicists didn’t know the relationship of matter to gravity, what could these Federal Reserve officials figure out about the gravity of things, where the economy would land. 

 

Speaking of Big Bangs, on the afternoon of September 10th, the world held its breath as the Large Hadron Collider machine sparked up.  And ever since Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was started on September 10th, the start-up glitches in the massive complex machines used by scientists to smash atoms have continued.  The Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment team of around 2,000 scientists is racing with another team that runs the Atlas detector, also at CERN, to find the Higgs particle, one that is responsible for mass in a 17 mile tunnel located something like 100 meters below ground.  Quantum physicists still don’t know the relationship of matter to gravity.  First a transformer failure shut down its cooling plant, then a new hardware malfunction stopped the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).  Technical setbacks have plagued the Large Hadron Collider which cost more than $8 billion.  Of course all of its hardware was new.  This time repairs will take more than two months.  And that presents a problem, as the LHC facility shuts down to save on energy costs during winter months.  According to James Gillies, the LHC’s Gala Inauguration party set for October 21st will still take place. 

First, hackers mounted an attack on the Large Hadron Collider, raising concerns about the security of the biggest experiment in the world as it passes an important new milestone. Hackers targeted the Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment, one of the four ‘eyes’ of the facility that will be analysing the fallout of the Big Bang. Then on Friday, “during a test, one of the bus bar connections linking cables between the magnets failed, melted, and caused approximately a ton of liquid helium to leak into one of the tunnel sections. With its -271°C operating temperature, all of this had to be confirmed.  The fire brigade was called to handle the situation. “It seems to be a badly made connection,” said Gillies, director of communications at CERN. The electrical link between two of the particle accelerator’s massive 30-ton superconducting magnets has failed, causing a magnet quench event. Due to having to warm up the section of the tunnel containing the magnet in order to conduct repairs, and then cool it back down to its-271°C operating temperature.

 

In other Big Bang disasters over the past few two weeks, if you missed the news about free markets and private enterprise, drawn from another blog is that the U.S. government has:

– nationalized the two engines of the U.S. mortgage industry, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and flooded the mortgage market with taxpayer funds to keep it going;

– crafted a deal to seize AIG, the nation’s largest insurer, fired its chief executive and moved to sell it off in pieces.

– extended government insurance beyond bank deposits to $3.4 trillion in money-market mutual funds for a year;

– banned, for 799 financial stocks, a practice at the heart of stock trading, the short-selling in which investors seek to profit from falling stock prices.

– allowed or encouraged the collapse or sale of two of the four remaining, free-standing investment banks, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch;

– asked Congress by next week to agree to stick taxpayers with hundreds of billions of dollars of illiquid assets from financial institutions so those institutions can raise capital and resume lending.

When no one knew the relationship of matter to gravity, it was going to be another rollercoaster ride this week.  The troubles of those 2,000 scientists seem to be shadowing those of Wall Street.

OF MICE & MEN

September.  October.  The bees and the flies were once again trying to take up residency in my home.  Maybe because I lived on the corner, high above the single family residences below, I was to war with the insects each September.  

 

I have one friend, a classmate from grade school, high school and college, who makes his life in war with insects and rodents.  And he is very politically active too.  He was always at war, 12 months a year, against rodents and insects and with one political party.   He saw the things that I never saw.

 

Ah, the visible!  There were associations fighting blindness, as well as paralysis.  Of the senses, I had to count the five to see how speech fit in.  The speech pathologists for the most part did not gather as much support in their battles.  It might be because speech was not one of the Big Five.  I was in need of speech therapy when I was in first grade.  I am forever grateful to the speech pathologist as I have not had difficulty espousing my thoughts once I reached the age of reason.  It was at that point in my life that I met the exterminator. 

 

I was only really conscious of politics in September and October, and of the threat of insects.  From talking to the exterminator, I have learned that the battle heats up at this time of year over the loss of light.  It was instinctual and not, as so many thought, on the surface about hunger.  In Minnesota, the time of the year was about survival.  It was all about the cold.  And the people here in September, a lot like the insects, began to instinctually worry each year about the loss of light among the political leaders. 

 

Yesterday I called to complain to a clearinghouse that they were sending me The National Review, instead of my beloved America magazine.  I pointed out that my check had been sent for America, a Jesuit publication.  Whereas I had appreciated the good writing of a William Buckley, I was not on the same page of the living inheritors of his thinking.  After chewing a lady out for the mix up, she told me that my renewal of America was received but that the wife of my friend, the exterminator, had sent a gift subscription, unbeknownst to me, for 6 months. 

 

I already was reading to much media about the state of the daily world, at the cost of the books waiting on the shelves.  Last night I was in a used bookstore.  I bought about 50% of the books that intrigued me.  One I left behind was Thomas Hartman’s Unequal Protection.  He discussed the history of the 14th amendment that originally was written to grant rights of “person,” to the freed slaves who were born in the United States.  It was not too long before personal rights, human rights, were granted to corporations by the United States Supreme Court under the 14th amendment.  Thomas Hartman quoted a speech given by William Jenning Bryan, railing against the decision.  Bryan pointed out the lack of feelings that corporations had had for real people.   One hundred years later we seemed poised to hear the same speeches again.  Corporate persons had not displayed much sympathy for real people over the mergers and acquisitions, of leveraged buy-outs, in last 20 years.   

 

 

The incredible part of my journey was that the three schools which exterminator and I  were in were in 3 cities.  And the would-be exterminator and I, with 120 grade school classmates, with 140 high school classmates, and maybe with 1,000 college classmates, never were in many of the same classes, though we had been placed on the same floor, on the same wing, of the same dorm.  The last class was a prerequisitie theology course with Thomas A. Hoffman, S.J.  The would-be exterminator was not surviving, the fourth semester, in his second year, in battle with his own demons.  In those days, the war he fought was within, with himself.  The university was 378 miles away, in another state.  In Nebraska. And soon he returned home.  In the years since he had changed from a classmate to a friend. 

 

The times of William Jenning Bryan in Nebraska were those when a way of life was being lost.  People lost their farms.  He is credited with inventing the national stumping tour in his bid for president in 1896 when he gave five hundred speeches in twenty seven states.  There was a harshness to those times.  In Nebraska, when Bryan settled.  And as a result, people got harsh.  Reflecting the division in the country, Bryan was famous for his Cross of Gold Speech.  I now wanted to read it. 

 

 In Minnesota, the time of the year was about survival.  It was all about suffering, and not just the cold.  The layoffs would soon be coming again.  And real people had real feelings, over the loss of light.  It was not just the mice.  

Vanishing Democracy

The political is vanishing from politics.  Campaigns now were just about commercials.

The presidential campaigns, senate campaigns, in the United States have ceased to be about ideas and has alternately been a series of pep rallies with limited access to the media.

One vice presidential candidate chooses what friendly TV journalist she will sit for an interview with.  And no one else in the 2 weeks after her nomination.  This campaign was all about limited access.  In the Twin Cities this week, the League of Women Voters was charged rent for holding a community meeting.  By a government body. 

People don’t know what the candidate should be debating?  The people are indifferent to what is passing for a campaign, as covered by reporters?  We get sound bytes about lipstick on pigs.  Is this just what the networks want the public distracted on?  There are news articles and sound bytes criticizing the opposition, so a candidate never has to address his/her ideas.  We hear nothing except who is winning in the latest poll.  We hear nothing about details and the cost of ideas.  Media receives much of the blame for what has become of politics and much of this is deserved. And no one discusses the issues of the day.  So far.

 

Too much of the public almost everywhere will say they are disgusted with politics and have stopped paying attention.  Of course I quit paying attention in my assets following September 2001 until the past 7 days.  Beware what can result and the real fear and panic.  The horrors of the 1930s can be relived again in the U S.  Only this time not with pocketbook issues, but issues of censorship, without newspapers to cover the story.  There will not be any newspapers left.  Governments can jam the internet.  All the pieces are falling into place in the United States of America for a new kind of fascism.  And it seemed to be sparked by the total lack of ideas. 

People did not have time.  The high tech age was all about attention spans….instant gratification.  Ah, the instant in the information age, with high speed DSL.  It was reflected in the candidates.  We had instant everything.  Including instant ideas.  Without much depth.  We have all become like Valley girls, just here chewing gum like cheer leaders at p

ep rallies. 

 

In the Papal State

The end of the 19th Century was a turbulent time.  Monarchs were being challenged the world over, with ideas from the French and American Revolutions.  The first challenge came in 1848 all over Europe, which was known as Year of Revolution.  Those disturbences began with crop failures, new press popularity, and the technological change revolutionizing the working class.  The disturbances, not connected, were quelled and little changed for awhile.  The Communist Manifesto was published in 1848.  The Franco-Prussian War saw the unification of Germany.  Although proclaimed in 1861, various states of Italy were united into a nation by 1870.  Pope Pius IX then became a self-imposed prisoner inside the Vatican, with the loss of the Papal States.  

 

At the end of the 19th Century, woman wanted the right to vote in the United Kingdom.  By 1913, women were granted the right to vote in Norway and Denmark.  The rural traditons of nations were changing.   

 

It was about the time of the Russian Revolution that George Bernard Shaw wrote Pygmallion.  MY FAIR LADY recently came to Minneapolis.  This was the musical version of the 1913 play Pygmallion.  Professor Henry Higgins tells Colonel Pickering in Act I that he could turn the flower girl into a duchess.  The real theme of the show was the new paradigm that men were still learning, that women were still learning to deal with: the independence of women and how man tried to come to grips with the issue of equality of women, one hundred years ago.  Lovely ideas.  Lovely.   

 

It was also during this period of Pope Pius IX that the doctrine of papal infallibility was introduced in 1870.    

 

So how do men and women get along in the era when western women get their independence?  Equality always seemed to be a basic human right.  Independence was another matter.  George Bernard Shaw captured the New World fear of independence in 1900 that had evolved from the Old World fear of American Independence almost one hundred years before.   That search for a true soulmate has never been tougher.

 

In the last fifty years, there has been another challenge in the search for a soulmate in the Roman Catholic Church.  The Vatican was having a harder time each generation to recuit priests. The story to start this millennium is not that men failed in their dealing half the time with women, or that women failed half the time.  The real story was the missing priest to help in humankind’s struggle with their own independence.

 

This morning in church I heard the woman next to me substituting nouns for pronouns, refusing to use “He” in reference to God.  Yet I noticed that she did pray the “Our Father.”  Hers was a inner battle with the word of Jesus.  Yet I saw the same gender wars from her perspective.  Papa Ratzi was in France today.  Praying to Our Lady of Fatima, yet he never had been particularly good in engaging in discussion with living females on church issues of the day.  Guys with miters are not particularly any more inclusive in leadership decisions today than they were before woman had the right to vote.  I saw that Peter was married, with a cited mother-in-law, who was asked to lead this church.  If he was alive in 2008, he would automatically disqualified.  It would be difficult to ask a young man to work for this institutions with such apparent prejudices, however he felt called to serve His God. 

 

The last few popes showed little if any inkling of how to deal with the urban world and independence of women.  I had mentioned a discussion with my 69-year old aunt, a former nun, who had been educated after high school with a class of 46, and those former classmates had gathered.  Of her classmates, 6 had died.  I asked how many had remained nuns their entire life.  The answer was 6.  That was a pretty good barometer how women felt about the state of women suffrage within the church.  When challenged by the times, Pope Pius IX relied on a new doctrine of papal infallibility.  But infallibility can be met with by silence.  And with what is this relatively new doctrine of papal infallibity, the wounds of the church have never been more visible.  

 

The wonder is that women, half the Catholic world, still care about their church that preached that the Truth would set them free and taught the importance of freedom of religion for all people as a basic human right.

That search for the Everlasting soulmate was never tougher when your boss, no matter how gracious, was infallible and did not have to listen.  When authority was based on love, it was easy to accept.  When authority seemed to be based upon power rather than authentic love, the battle seemed more like what that woman next to me was fighting, much more personal.  Those demons in holy institutions did not particularly interest me.  Not based upon the text. 

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To Be Or Not To Be Well Endowed

Currently, tuition billed at Harvard is $47, 215, which includes room and board.  That means the real cost is $70,820.  ($11,000 of this billed cost is room and board.) 

 

Harvard University announced Friday that its endowment had reached $36.9 billion, the Associated Press reported.  Harvard University’s endowment has survived a transition in leadership as Mohamed El-Erian (Pacific Investment Management Company CEO) stepped down last December as president of Harvard Management Co., which oversees the endowment, and in the interim, Harvard Business School professor Robert Kaplan took over on until July 1, 2008 when Jane Mendillo became the new president of this quasi-independent agency.  Despite market turbulence in the recently completed fiscal year, the endowment had earned an 8.6 percent return during the fiscal year ending June 30.  The Associated Press reported that from the endowment, the university provided $321 million in student aid last year and funded about a third of its operating budget. 

 

The history of Harvard, according to the Harvard website, “Harvard College was established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony College.  Though never formally affiliated with a specific religious denomination, Harvard was named for its first benefactor, John Harvard of Charlestown, a young minister who upon his death in 1638 left his library and half his estate to the new institution. The 1708 election of John Leverett, the first president who was not also a clergyman, marked a turning of the College toward intellectual independence from Puritanism.” 

  

Separating itself from hits religious tradition, like many Americans had, Harvard became secular.  Money.  Philosophy.  So much money.  In lieu of the salaries paid to other Harvard Business School professors, how did Harvard have a system of remuneration to a professor like Robert Kaplan?  Retention of teachers was the core of what a university was about.  So Harvard was the New York Yankees of American universities?  

 

In a sense, Harvard could teach a lot to how the federal  and state governments managed tax revenues. 

 

Basic human needs were paid for by money. Money. Money.  Money.  Looking for comforts, to ease the suffering.  Looking for education.  The conflict of student aid last year versus operating budgets.  The percentages were “about” 33% in favor of the operating budget, which seemed to serve the entire student body, without a cited mention of the operating budget in the article.  However, even with imprecise math, the endowment grew by $2.85 billion with $321 million in student aid.   

 

Harvard seeks to spend about 5 percent of the endowment annually on University programs. Each school within the university uses a combination of income from investments, gifts from fundraising efforts, and tuition to cover the cost of educating students.  Faculties of Arts and Sciences and the Divinity School rely on 46 and 66 percent of their operating expenditures, respectively, from their endowments as of 2006. 

 

The endowment is not a single fund, but around 11,000 individual funds, many of them restricted to specific uses such as support of a research center or the creation of a professorship in a specific subject.  On a per-capita basis. Harvard’s $36.9 billion endowment trails Princeton’s $16 billion endowment.  

 

Separating itself from hits religious tradition, 360-plus years later secular Harvard was less like a lot of colleges and universities, hitting up donors, offering to re-name building long identified with deceased donors.   But at this point Harvard in its history, like most of us, seemed to be out strictly for itself.  Concerned about wealth and survival. 

 

Those Puritans however never really tried to ease all the suffering.  What exactly was salvation history?  The long haul of this?  To ease the comfort, God promised His Chosen People a Messiah one day.  To make this life a little easier, more comfort for more people.   But was to that year that marked a turning of the Harvard College toward intellectual independence from Puritanism.  What exactly was “intellectual independence” when it came to God?  And how did it change the basic philosophy of Harvard College?   

 

In a February 2009 story in the NewYork Times, it was reported that Harvard had sent in early December 2008 a letter to deans “saying that the university’s $36.9 billion endowment had lost 22 percent of its value in the previous four months and could decline as much as 30 percent by June 30, the end of its fiscal year.”

“Harvard University is facing endowment losses that could be the worst in 40 years. It has frozen salaries for faculty and nonunion staff members, and offered early retirement to 1,600 employees,” The New York Times reported.

How Harvard’s Investing Superstars Crashed

“In a glassed-walled conference room overlooking downtown Boston, traders at Harvard Management Co., the subsidiary that invests the school’s money, were fielding questions from their new boss, Jane Mendillo, about exotic financial instruments that were suddenly backfiring.

“Harvard had derivatives that gave it exposure to $7.2 billion in commodities and foreign stocks. With prices of both crashing, the university was getting margin calls–demands from counterparties (among them, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sach for more collateral. Another bunch of derivatives burdened Harvard with a multibillion-dollar bet on interest rates that went against it.

“It would have been nice to have cash on hand to meet margin calls, but Harvard had next to none. That was because these supremely self-confident money managers were more than fully invested. As of June 30, they had, thanks to the fancy derivatives, a 105% long position in risky assets. The effect is akin to putting every last dollar of your portfolio to work and then borrowing another 5% to buy more stocks.

“Desperate for cash, Harvard Management went to outside money managers begging for a return of money it had expected to keep parked away for a long time. It tried to sell off illiquid stakes in private equity partnerships but couldn’t get a decent price. It unloaded two-thirds of a $2.9 billion stock portfolio into a falling.”

http://news.alibaba.com/article/detail/markets/100056757-1-how-harvard%2527s-investing-superstars-crashed.html

http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/market-movers/2009/02/23/the-sorry-tale-of-the-harvard-endowment

It seemed true that whenever a new manager came in, new ideas took hold. It was a costly change that was made, when the successor did not seem to appreciate all the plates which were spinning.

Economic Physics & the Big Bang Theory

What could these Federal Reserve officials figure out about the gravity of things, where the economy would land, if quantum physicists didn’t know the relationship of matter to gravity?

News stories.   Money and the laws of gravity.  Calculating the speed of falls.  While dealing with wealth and money, it is of note that quantum physicists don’t know the relationship of matter to gravity.

 

Matter.  And what matters?  “A lot of the debates people have about money are code for how we want to live our lives,” said Betsey Stevenson.  People and their money:  either they feel that they did not deserve the money in the first place, or they feel entitled to their wealth and are angry when it is gone, Dr. Dennis Pearne said.

 

These days, the larger the amount of money collected, the New York Times reports, the more millionaires have to worry about losing, and these losses prey on their deepest fears about money.

 

Hedge fund managers are having more a more difficult September than Willie Randolph had with the New York Mets last September.  Self-made men and women looking for shelter, people whose sense of comfort was all based upon self.  It was hurricane season and a time of economic downturn.

 

In other news, on Wednesday afternoon, as the world held its breath as the Large Hadron Collider machine sparked up, quantum physicists still don’t know the relationship of matter to gravity.   “Hackers have mounted an attack on the Large Hadron Collider, raising concerns about the security of the biggest experiment in the world as it passes an important new milestone. Hackers targeted the Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment, or CMS, one of the four ‘eyes’ of the facility that will be analysing the fallout of the Big Bang.  The CMS team of around 2,000 scientists is racing with another team that runs the Atlas detector, also at Cern, to find the Higgs particle, one that is responsible for mass.”

 

At 6 p.m. Friday evening, the president of the New York Federal Reserve summoned the heads of major Wall Street firms to a meeting in Lower Manhattan to review their financial exposures to a collapse of the investment bank, Lehman Brothers, and develop plans to work out contingency plans over the possibility that on Monday (September 15th) the government would need to orchestrate an orderly liquidation of Lehman Brothers, and stabilize the financial markets, according to the New York Times.  The Fed’s call for Wall Street institutions to support one of their own and find a way to rescue Lehman comes at a time when many of them are also short on capital.  Adding urgency to the discussions was government intervention into private enterprise during the last year that have not been enough to halt the unraveling of the financial system.  The meetings involving the top executives from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J P Morgan Chase, Citigroup and other financial companies continued on Saturday.

 

The spreading troubles were the latest sign of growing concern of big financial institutions, with Vikas Baijaj of the The New York Times reporting American International Group and Merrill Lynch might face a similar crisis, in need of billions of dollars in capital to strengthen their businesses.  These days, Wall Street’s losses, in the billions, prey on the deepest fears about money.

 

If quantum physicists didn’t know the relationship of matter to gravity, what could these Federal Reserve officials figure out about the gravity of things, where the economy would land?  There was fear all around over the Big Bang Theory.  Only rather than creating goodness, too often people had only self-interest.

 

Were we all in search of passwords, to ease the suffering.  “A few years ago, Stanford University in California announced that a number of high-performance academic computer centres had been attacked by hackers lured by the phenomenal power of the grid – pools of computing power linked by dedicated high-speed networks. Beyond shutting down the machines or stealing or deleting data, one likely malicious use of such power is to crack passwords.  In 2003, hackers broke into ScotGrid, a network of 150 machines based at the University of Glasgow. They intercepted the password of a remote user based in Geneva and used it to gain access to ScotGrid. They ran scripts that tried to reconfigure the machine to steal more passwords.”

 

I wasn’t well-read enough to know the history of Lehman Brothers over the last 20 years, but I had once read a story that made me think this downfall was influenced by people a lot like those highjacking hackers, looking for passwords to the world, for comfort.  People who did not know the relationship of matter to gravity.

 

FOOTNOTES: 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/earth/2008/09/12/scicern212.xml  

During the Great Depression, the unemployment rate was 25 percent and more than half the homes in the country were foreclosed.  Yale economist Robert Shiller has said what is coming will perhaps be worse than the Great Depression.

“The future was a casino.  Everyone was gambling.  And everyone expected to win.” – Salman Rushdie   

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Spiritual Physics

 

The equation of the speed of gravity, I think, applied to the speed of spiritual matter.  Picking up speed, not with weight but with an equivalent of years.  Sloth: for the last few years I did not recognize the sloth that had developed in my life. 

Under the Theory fo Spiritual Relativity, we all eventually have problems coming to grips with the speed of life and our own vulnerabilites.    

Rage Against the Machine

In a September 3, 2004 story, “despite assurances from New York City police that arrests of journalists would be minimized, numerous credentialed and uncredentialed journalists were detained during the Republican National Convention – some for extended periods of time.

 

In anticipation of such detentions, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press established a hotline to provide cost-free legal assistance to journalists covering the convention, as it has at every national political convention since 1976.”  

 

St. Paul, MNDemocracy Now! host Amy Goodman was arrested in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota on September 1, 2008 at approximately 5 p.m.  AP photographer Matt Rourke also was arrested Monday but his arrest did not provoke the same on-line rage.  

Dawn Zuppelli is a journalist with Rochester IndyMedia, the group that has a definite left-leaning point of view based upon its Twitter feeds.  On September 1, 2008, Zuppelli provided details to the Daily Planet on the arrest of Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. 

 

Following the conclusion of a legally permitted afternoon march, Dawn Zuppelli reported that she started following 80 participants through the streets of St. Paul, often along Wabasha Avenue, as police moved the young people, said Zuppelli, “from place to place.”  The 80 participants were finally surrounded and ordered to disperse by police and National Guard. 

 

No one has asked why, with a police force numbered at 3000 for the RNC, the National Guard was called in.  By all accounts, the 3000 strong force well outnumbered the “anarchists.”  

 

Zuppelli said she was standing on the sidewalk when police ordered journalists to move back.  She said there was no place to go, as police used pepper spray, “pepper balls,” tear gas, and canisters making loud noise and smoke.  Consequentially protesters, Zuppelli, and other journalists were pepper-sprayed.  Wearing a press badge, she did not resist police orders to move but continued filming.  Protesters and journalists were taken to a parking lot on Jackson, and then two Democracy Now! producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, were arrested while covering the street demonstration.

 

According to the Denver Post, Goodman said she heard of the arrests when she was on the convention floor.  When Goodman attempted to get them released, protesting that the arrest of journalists in the process of reporting is an unconstitutional violation of free press rights, she was arrested.  From having read Ms. Goodman’s account of all this, she seems to have majored in drama, with only a minor in journalism.

 

Ramsey County Sherrif Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were being arrested on suspicion of rioting. They were held at the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul until their release.  Amy Goodman, described as a lefty media star by long-time Minneapolis print journalist David Brauer, was arrested for obstructing legal process, a misdemeanor.  According to MinnPost, Goodman’s Democracy Now! producers did not contact Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which had worked with authorities weeks in advance to establish procedures to free credentialed journalists, according to Executive Director Lucy Dalglish, and they still faces felony riot charges.

 

FROM THE WEBSITE, Reclaim The Media    

Strib Forgets About Free Speech

 “In a bizarre editorial on Tuesday, the Minneapolis St. Paul Star Tribune owned by out-of-towners from Avista Capital Partner, a New York City private equity firm specializing in energy, healthcare and media investments, hailed the police crackdown as “appropriate,” blaming unrest on outsiders from beyond the Twin Cities.”

 

“Many of those arrested in St. Paul weren’t carrying IDs or wouldn’t give their names. Those who were identified came from Lexington, Ky.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Portland, Ore., and dozens of other U.S. cities,” they wrote. “These weren’t the sons and daughters of Highland Park and south Minneapolis.”

“Other than a brief story about Amy Goodman’s arrest, the paper has failed to report on the apparent targeting of independent reporters, even though groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists have sounded the alarm.”   (http://reclaimthemedia.org/journalistic_practice/goodman%3D6151)

September 2, 2008 ]

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.” 

Ramsey County is in St. Paul.  Ramsey County Sherrif is Bob Fletcher.  Hennepin County is in Minneapolis where they have there own elected sheriff.  Each city also has its own police chief.  Democracy Now! people must not have gotten briefed what city they were in.  Why would the Minneapolis Police charge Kouddous and Salazar?  The facts are not being accurately conveyed by these “journalists.”  Dawn Zuppelli at least was able to figure out in her story all of this occurred in St. Paul.  Was the day coming when journalists had to pass a test to be licensed?)

Is this not Goodman’s second arrest in St. Paul?  Was she reported to have been arrested on the 900 block of Ingelhart in St. Paul on Saturday?  Why does not the arrest of AP photographer Matt Rourke provoke the same outrage?  The Minneapolis Star Trib however is not telling the public about Democracy Now! and whether this is all a publicity stunt?  Maybe because the reading public has shown so little empathy for the financial crisis in the print media here and throughout the nation.  That financial crisis was the real threat to democracy.  Now!    

 

According to MinnPost, police are preparing for trouble at tonight’s concert at the Target Center in Minneapolis by Rage Against the Machine.  This political rap metal band played a free concert in Los Angeles in 2000 near the Democratic National Convention, when a riot erupted.   

 

On the fourth day, all these guests in town are starting to smell like fish.   And tomorow night will not arrive too soon.  

 

Journalists, Protesters, Anarchists on the Streets of St. Paul

Freedom wrestles with authority. 

 

In journalism, in religion, there was a tension between the known and the unknown.  As a student I was taught the need to measure to know if something is real.  I measured the news.  I measured the reporter. 

 

KARE11’s Rick Kupchella in his on-air report tonight called demonstrators Tuesday “anarchists.”  He never explained the rationale as to why.  He clearly was not an impartial observer and overnight, according to his blog, he had not gained insight that he had crossed the divide, based on fear, to become partial in his reporting. 

 

“I ran into some people who were unhappy we were showing some degree of bias by helping the Michigan senator-elect and four delegates out of the protest.”  It was not his offering assistance but the use of language.  And it was not the offering of assistance but a guy running from an ongoing story, where he choose to offer help to a delegate rather than report on the demonstration.  Was this a guy who one day might help his career?  And the identified senator was not a “senator-elect” which he claims in his blog, but only the nominated candidate for the United States Senate from Michigan, Jack Hoogendyk.  It shows how little Kupchella knows about the Senate where Carl Levin is in his fifth term.  For his bias, the guy should be fired.        

 

By Thursday, suddenly protesters no longer were “anarchists.”  Kupchella wrote, “The crowd consists of people from across the metro area who are against the war and upset they cannot get closer to the Xcel Arena.  They want to be heard, they want John McCain to hear them.”    

 

 The media every day designates the people in Iraq fighting the U.S. Armed Forces as insurgents.  The Rick Kupchellas of the world on radio, on television, never go about explaining where the insurgents get their funding or training to carry on the civil war, or why they are actually “insurgents” if this was their own country and not ours.  Especially when there would be no United States in the first place without “insurgents.” 

 

 

 

In the the wake and aftermath of the Republican National Convention, a court case last week should have some judicial affect on Sheriff Bob Fletcher and the pending cases. 

 

On August 30th, “the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department and St. Paul police—working under the direction of federal agencies, including the FBI—began raiding homes of protesters throughout the metro. Before the weekend was through, authorities had arrested six people and detain dozens more in a preemptive strike against would-be RNC rabble-rousers,”  according to City Pages

 

Last week Timothy Conrad Rehak, and Mark Paul Naylon, who had been indicted after they failed an FBI “integrity test” in November 2004, were each convicted on one charge.

 

The Background:  According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, “the FBI stuck $13,500 in a bag in a St. Paul hotel room and then had Shawn Phillip Arvin Sr., call Rehak and tell him a drug dealer named ‘Vinnie’ from Chicago had left drugs and money in the room and was looking for someone to retrieve it. Arvin Sr., was facing a long prison stretch in 36 days after being charged with trafficking more than 10 pounds of methamphetamine. Hoping to reduce his time, he told FBI agents he could provide information on a longtime St. Paul street cop.  Rehak, temporarily assigned to the sheriff’s elite Special Investigations Unit, asked Naylon to accompany him on the search.  After the hotel desk clerk refused to let them in the room without a warrant, Naylon asked sheriff’s Sgt. Rolland Martinez, supervisor of the investigations unit, to ask a judge for a search warrant for the room.

 

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported,  “Sgt. Rolland Martinez, supervisor of the investigations unit, said a confidential reliable informant had told him drugs and money could be in the room. Martinez asked a judge for a search warrant for the room. In his affidavit, Martinez testified at trial that Naylon was the informant he was referring to, and there is no indication that Martinez knew meth dealer named Arvin Sr., was the original source of the information or that he even knew Arvin. The affidavit was written as though Martinez had spoken directly to the original source.  Ramsey County District Judge J. Thomas Mott swore in Martinez, read the affidavit, agreed it amounted to probable cause, and signed the warrant.” 

 

“While he doesn’t recall signing the warrant — as a judge, he’s signed scores, if not hundreds, of warrants since then — Judge Thomas Mott said that he is concerned about trial testimony indicating that the Bob Fletcher’s Sheriff’s Department sometimes used one of its civilian employees as an informant for search warrant applications.  ‘I think I will share that with some of my colleagues,’” he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter.

 

Whether anyone’s civil rights to protest government policy, with preemptive raids by authorities this week, have been violated has yet to be proven.  But participants today on the Poor People’s March feel that their organization has been “riddled with undercover cops,” if not provocateurs.     

 

City Pages today had a piece, referring to their own article in mid-May of “the FBI’s effort to recruit moles to infiltrate and report back on peace activists throughout the Twin Cities,” leading up to the RNC.  According to City Pages, “The idea of the federal government keeping tabs on “vegan potlucks” seemed at the time almost too absurd to be true but any doubts were eliminated Friday night when officers stormed through the Smith Avenue RNC Welcoming Committee St. Paul headquarters, an anarchist/anti-authoritarian group.  ‘We’re 99 percent sure he [the singing captive] was the infiltrator who told the police when to show up,’ says Brian Hokanson, 21. ‘Because right when he started singing, the officers let him up and led him outside. That was the cue. It didn’t feel like an arrest. The police didn’t say anything.’” 

 

The real concern for every resident of St. Paul is a semblance of order this week.  This most recent trial has shown Bob Fletcher’s department encroaching on issues of credibility to secure search warrants that ended up shooting the best man at his most recent wedding in the foot.   The accounts below by youthful participants tonight conger up images of life in the Eastern Bloc, of books by Ivan Klima, by Vaclav Havel. 

TwinCities IndyMedia reports tonight on their website, http://tc.indymedia.org/, the following.  Readers also have no way of questioning the veracity of these report.  The media was starting to sound a lot like the people attending these conventions.  Convention-goers.  Anarchists.  Polarized.  Journalists were supposed to explain what current events happened, bringing the news and explaining a story.  Journalists as we have known them are all threatened by this current bipolar disorder we call politics, yet without questioning why the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department was so involved in enforcement this week instead of the Saint Paul Police, in this very Democratic-leaning city.

Freedom wrestles with authority. 

 

In a twelve-month prelude to the 2004 Republican National Convention, undercover New York police officers attended meetings of political groups in Albuquerque to Montreal, San Francisco to Miami, while posing as sympathizers or fellow activists, records show. The local sheriff on this side of the river was just following the infiltration techniques used elsewhere. In the tension that developed between the known and the unknown.

Tue, 09/02/2008 – 21:14

Poor Peoples’ March Riddled with Agente Provocateurs, Undercover Cops

cred_rating: Five

Tue, 09/02/2008 – 21:14

Poor Peoples’ March Riddled with Agente , Undercover Cops

cred_rating: Five

Tue, 09/02/2008 – 20:59

tincan: 300 riot cops on capitol lawn

cred_rating: Four

Tue, 09/02/2008 – 20:44

Cops charging into crowd at Saint Peter and Exchange

cred_rating: Four

Tue, 09/02/2008 – 20:36

Vans full of riot cops on St. Peter@12th St.

cred_rating: Five

Protesters trying to leave on St. Peter. 70 cops walking down 12th to cut them off. Traffic stopped.

Tue, 09/02/2008 – 20:27

Tear Gas used on crowd of 100 cut off from Poor Peoples March

cred_rating: Three

Tue, 09/02/2008 – 20:22

Cops flanking protesters on St. Peter N of Exchange. 25 Cops Marching up St. Peter, blocking protesters exit.

UPDATE:  The news this morning would suggest that this was organized chaos and not just pure protest: 

 

Minneapolis Star Tribune 

 

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

“Almost a year to the day before the Republican National Convention began, members of a self-described anarchist group gathered to talk about ways to disrupt it, including kidnapping delegates, sabotaging air vents at the Xcel Energy Center, blocking bridges and “capturing federal buildings” in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

“Unbeknownst to the group, the RNC Welcoming Committee, two police informants and an undercover investigator had infiltrated their ranks, according to an affidavit and search warrant application filed Tuesday. The informants and investigator accessed group e-mails, attended meetings, talked strategies with members and participated in camps and workshops.

“The 17-page document, signed by Ramsey County District Judge Joanne Smith, laid out the evidence that led the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department to raid a St. Paul business and three Minneapolis homes Friday night and Saturday morning.

“The affidavit paints a picture of a group that recruited participants from 67 cities and was intent on creating havoc.”                      – By Pat Pheifer

 

Soon we will find out if the intent to commit a crime is protected by the constitution. 

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