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This Land is Your Land...Or is It?: Occupy Oklahoma City Sues in Federal Court to Fight to Keep the Commons


Having spent the better part of two months as an embedded reporter with Occupy OKC's camp in Kerr Park (aka Poet's Park) I have often praised both the city and police department. Oklahoma City's occupation has so far managed to avoid the mass arrests and police brutality seen in other cities around the nation. In my opinion, this is largely due to the group's respect for the park and city ordinances, as well as the city's respect for the First Amendment. I frequently pointed to OKC as a model city, setting an example for how a local government and occupiers can peacefully coexist.

So imagine my surprise upon learning that the City of Oklahoma City recently refused to accept the group's $55/day permit fee. Assistant City Manager M.T. Berry told Occupy OKC that not only were they being evicted from Poet's Park, all city parks would be closed to them. Protesters were further informed that anyone remaining in Poet's Park after curfew would face citation or arrest, effective immediately.

The word was blasted out in urgent text messages, Facebook posts and Twitters: “EVICTION IMMINENT! Please come to Poet's Park NOW!”

Occupiers Jay Vehige (carrying flag) and Army veteran Jaymie Johnson rally to keep the park. Nov. 28, 2011.Occupiers Jay Vehige (carrying flag) and Army veteran Jaymie Johnson rally to keep the park. Nov. 28, 2011. (photo courtesy Garrett Fisbeck, "The Vista")

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Vying for Detention: Two liberal Democratic Senators Give Us a Police State for Christmas


Predator Odrona is about to sign a military authorization bill [Carl Levin's S-1867] that puts every one of us at risk of being detained by our own military. If the government decides that you are a terrorist threat, the military will be able to kidnap you and deny you the right to a trial or even the right to know why you're being held.

The arrogant and short-sighted leaders who “govern” us have granted the government the right to detain you anywhere in the world, including inside the U.S., and there is no limit to the amount of time that they can hold you once they've got you.

We shouldn't worry though, they claim, because this new law is only meant for the terrorists among us.

So just who represents a terrorist threat? Well, protesters for starts, according to a Pentagon training test, which defines protests as acts of low-level terrorism. Quaker peace meetings in Vermont and across the country have been registered as “suspicious incidents” by the Defense Department's secretive TALON snooping system. Once your name has been entered into one of these lovely surveillance systems, you can rest assured that it will never disappear.

The muslims in America certainly know that they are perceived as potential or likely terrorists by an alarming number of law enforcement agencies across the land. Reports have documented blatant anti-muslim profiling by “experts” presenting at law enforcement terrorism training events.

And let's not forget the right side of the spectrum. Radical back-to-the-landers who wave guns and evade taxes have long been a government favorite for keeping their kill squads sharp. Just ask Randy Weaver. Washington state recently requested an was granted the use of a military surveillance drone to lead SWAT teams, a bomb squad, the highway patrol and four counties’ worth deputy sheriffs to arrest three unarmed brothers over a six-cow dispute.

The new military authorization bill makes the US a "war zone" in the "war" on terror, and makes us all potential terrorists withThe new military authorization bill makes the US a "war zone" in the "war" on terror, and makes us all potential terrorists with no constitutional rights, while further blurring any distinction between cops and soldiers

Pakistan Needs to Declare Its Independence


Lahore -- Ever since 9/11 and the subsequent 2001 invasion of Afghanistan by the US, Pakistan’s world has been in turmoil.

Officially America’s ally in the so-called War on Terror, Pakstan has actually been one of its biggest victims. Just recently, Pakistan was punished as the US Congress passed a bill imposing more conditions on aid,  including specifically linking receipt of that aid to Islamabad’s cooperation in the War on Terror, and to efforts to curb terrorists, including the Haqqani network.

 Myra McDonald in her recent article states:

 “The society which is being shaped by the Afghan war in ways which neither Pakistan’s neighbors, nor western powers, would choose.  The airstrikes, coming soon after the forced resignation of Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani for allegedly seeking American help to curb the power of the military, have added fresh oxygen to a combustible mix of anti-Americanism and religious nationalism enveloping Pakistan."

So where should Pakistan go from here?

A good start would be for Pakistan to work at becoming less dependent upon the US. For while the interests of Pakistan and the US may converge on many points, including in Afghanistan, on many deeper, more vital points, they do not.

Pakistan needs to recognize that US aid is a trap. The country is better off without it says the authorPakistan needs to recognize that US aid is a trap. The country is better off without it says the author

Was the Attack on Pakistani Outposts Deliberate?: How Far Will the US Go to Target Pakistan's Military?


Islamabad -- This past June I posted an article by Anatol Lieven on Facebook. For those who are not familiar with his name, Anatol is from the UK and numbers among the few journalists whom I always enjoy reading. I have met Anatol a few times and he is the kind of person who likes to get acquainted with the psycho-social environment of the people he writes about. Written in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s execution, Anatol’s article was critical of the US approach to the region, particularly Pakistan.

Among those responding to this post was an American whom I would rather not embarrass by naming; so let’s just call him X. Admitting that he hadn’t read through Anatol’s article and was judging its contents by earlier articles of the author, he went on to add, “let me put this as simply as possible, for you to understand. The US has concluded that the Pakistan army is part of the problem, not the solution; and that the interests of the Pakistan army are not identical with those of Pakistan. Consequently, the US has decided that the Pakistan army has to be cut to size and, if in the process of doing so, the Pakistan army is destroyed, so be it. And, I agree”.

The first thing that hit me was the arrogance of his statement. The “US has decided (on behalf of, and for, the people of Pakistan) that its army’s interests and theirs are not identical”, and will, on behalf of, and for Pakistan, cut its army to size! Typical arrogance expected of the American establishment. The only issue was that this American had hitherto seemed pretty level-headed and very far from arrogant. Nor was he a Mansoor Ijaz or even an expatriate American. I commented on the arrogance of his words, to which he chose not to respond. However, I did not take the contents of his comment very seriously; not at that time.

The “Memo-gate” Scandal

Most readers will be familiar with this scandal, so I will cover just the bare outline of the incident from my perspective. On October 10th, Mansoor Ijaz, a multi millionaire American of Pakistani origin, wrote an op-ed for the Financial Times which, as it was expected to do, set Pakistan’s political landscape on fire.

His op-ed titled, “Time to take on Pakistan’s Jihadist spies”, as the title indicates, ostensibly seemed to target the ISI and the Pakistan military for maintaining ties with Jihadists. However, it mentioned the fact that in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s execution, he was contacted by a “senior diplomat”, who was known to be close to Pakistani President, Zardari. Apparently, Zardari feared the possibility of a military coup. Everybody knew that the senior Pakistani diplomat referred to Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US.

Smoldering ruin of border outpost inside Pakistan attacked by US helicopters. 24 Pakistani soldiers died here and at a secondSmoldering ruin of a border outpost inside Pakistan attacked by US helicopter gunships. 24 Pakistani soldiers were slaughtered here and at a second mountaintop outpost in an unprovoked and clearly coordinated US massacre

Thoughts on Mark Twain's 'The War Prayer'


At the beginning of the twentieth century the United States was engaged in a long and brutal war of aggression against the Philippines, which led to between 200,000 and 1.5 million civilian deaths. It was a colonial war against independence fought by the US with patriotic zeal and of course, the claim that God was on our side.  To be against the war in that jingoistic era was considered tantamount to treason.  Hence it was a brazen act of effrontery for author Mark Twain to have made a statement denouncing the acts of brutality that accompanied this war.  In his short story, The War Prayer, he portrayed a priest who, with  fervor, called upon God to bring victory to a supposedly just cause,  irrespective of the horror inflicted on the "enemy," a poor and downtrodden people trying only to assert their freedom after centuries of colonial oppression.

David Lindorff, Sr. was a Marine staff sergeant in World War IIDavid Lindorff, Sr. was a Marine staff sergeant in World War II

No Healing: Ann Kristin Neuhaus Faces Her Past Every Day as Kansas Chases the Ghost of George Tiller


This article originally appeared in The Pitch, a Kansas City alternative newspaper. ThisCantBeHappening! normally does not reprint other publications' material, but this story about Kristi Neuhaus, a heroic doctor who has fought for women's right to abortion in one of the most cynically benighted regions of the country for decades, together with her journalist/private investigator husband Mike Cadell, a lifelong prairie radical who puts the truth in front of Kansans in his newspaper, the Fightin' Cock Flyer, and on his radio program Radio Free Kansas, has to be told to as wide an audience as possible. We're proud to run it here:

There isn't an address on the paint-chipped farmhouse in Nortonville, about 30 miles north of Lawrence. Across from it on this country road, the mailbox hangs limp. A muddy driveway leads past a beat-up pickup truck to a garage. An approaching car sends cats scattering.

It's the only place that Ann Kristin Neuhaus and Mike Caddell have ever owned. She describes the place as something out of Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic novel The Road. Caddell calls it "a money pit."

"Do we look rich?" Neuhaus asks. "We're very broke all of the time. Our house is falling down."

She turns on the water each time she wants to flush the toilet, but this is home for Neuhaus and Caddell. They've been married 26 years, and they have a 14-year-old son, Tristan. Six chickens, five cats, four dogs, three horses, two roosters and a goat roam the family's 10 acres.

Neuhaus and Caddell bought the place 15 years ago, when she was making a little money. Now they're struggling to survive. About a year ago, the house nearly faced foreclosure. During an interview with The Pitch in September, Neuhaus was on her way to apply for a payday loan. Then in October, the utilities were almost shut off.

"It's just literally month by month that we're holding onto the place," says Caddell, host of the Radio Free Kansas online radio show. "We've been living on $30,000 a year for about two and a half years now." That money came from a research stipend that has since expired. Neuhaus is now working as a research instructor at the University of Kansas Medical Center's Department of Family Medicine.

Out here, they say, the neighbors are protective. One, fearing for Neuhaus' safety, offered to loan her an AK-47. That's life on the front line of Kansas' abortion war.

Neuhaus is one of the last links to Wichita abortion provider George Tiller, who was murdered in May 2009 while attending a Sunday church service. From 1999 to 2006, Neuhaus provided second-opinion mental-health exams to determine whether the late-term abortions that some women sought at Tiller's clinic were medically necessary. That step was required by Kansas law.

Three Kansas attorneys general tried to prosecute Tiller for his arrangement with Neuhaus. Tiller eventually was charged with having an improper financial relationship with Neuhaus. He was acquitted of the misdemeanor in March 2009. The doctor was assassinated two months later by Scott Roeder, who had attended Tiller's trial and was seen sitting next to Operation Rescue president Troy Newman.
Ann Kristin Neuhaus, under attack for years by cynical right-wing politicians, and standing her ground in Kansas (photo by AngelAnn Kristin Neuhaus, under attack for years by cynical right-wing politicians, and standing her ground in Kansas (photos by Angela C. Bond)

13 Hours in the Hole: Occupying an Oklahoma Jail Cell


This is Part II of a series of reports from our traveling correspondent in the American heartland. Part I covered the arrest of 10 Occupy OKC protesters as they “mic checked” a local Walmart on Black Friday. Part II takes them through 13 hours in an Oklahoma jail. Part III will culminate in the occupiers' final standoff against police as they face a forceful eviction from Poet's Park.

All Chris Thomas remembers of his arrest was that “Several officers ran past me and tackled Jay first. I was grabbed from behind. I informed the officer that I had a compound fracture and had five surgeries on my elbow. I asked the officer to be careful because my arm does not extend fully. He said, `we will fix that!' – as he forced my arm behind me and cuffed me.

“They left me in the cuffs for over an hour,” said Thomas. “I meditated while I was in cuffs and tried to ignore the pain. The officer that finally un-cuffed me commented that my had was twisted into a weird position. My hands were numb. My arm was forced into a position that my arm can not normally go in.”
(When I interviewed Thomas nearly 36 hours after the incident, he was still in a great deal of physical pain.)

Del City police deny that excessive force was used in handling the occupy protesters. Police Lt. Steve Robinson said that only one of the protesters – Jay Vehige – was “combative.” Vehige and his fellow demonstrators say even this allegation is untrue. Video of Vehige's arrest shows that he was complying with all of the officer's orders. He is lying face-down on the floor and does not appear to be physically resisting. Regardless, Vehige was also charged with resisting arrest.

Other Occupy OKC members arrested that night were Thomas, Agnew, Destiny Smith, 22, David “Cody” Grandstaff, 21, Sean Lovell, 25, Mark Faulk, 55, and siblings Helen Lavictoire, 27, Cassandra Lavictorie, 27, and Griffin Lavictorie, 19. All were charged with disorderly conduct.

“It's a pretty vague charge,” according to Brittany Novotny, an attorney representing the Occupy OKC protesters. She told KOCO-TV, "I don’t think these folks are guilty of disorderly conduct. They were asked to leave by store personnel. They tried to do so and, at that point, a couple of them were tackled and arrested."

“We weren't being hostile at all,” Agnew insists. “We just wanted to raise awareness.”

Bronwyn Agnew and Sean Lovell (photo courtesy Bronwyn Agnew facebook)Bronwyn Agnew and Sean Lovell (photo courtesy Bronwyn Agnew facebook)

Arrested for Supporting Local Business: Occupying Black Friday at the Big Boxes in Oklahoma City


Oklahoma City – In the early morning hours of Black Friday, 10 members of Occupy OKC  discovered that chanting “Buy local!” in a crowded Walmart is an arrestable offense in the United States of America. 

Walmart stores were the target of occupations in Oklahoma City last FridayWalmart stores were the target of occupations in Oklahoma City last Friday

It all started with a group of about 20-25 Occupy OKC demonstrators doing “mic checks” at several mega retailers around the Oklahoma City area open on Thanksgiving night. “We hit Best Buy, Toys `R' Us, a Target store, and two other Walmarts between 10pm and midnight,” said Nick Saltzman, 19, one of the local occupiers who managed to avoid arrest. “It was going so well.”

That is, until the group left Oklahoma City limits and ventured into nearby Del City (recently voted “OKC's Worst Suburb” by 41% of Lost Ogle readers.) Unlike the Oklahoma City police department, the off-duty officers working security at the Del City Walmart on Tinker Diagonal were not in a tolerant mood. Maybe they were already unhappy about having to work an extra shift on a holiday when they could have been home with their families. They probably needed the extra dough, and were willing to be on the payroll of the 1%. 

“We have taken a lot of steps in our stores to maintain a safe shopping environment,” a Walmart spokesman told the Daily Oklahoman. “As part of these plans, our store worked with police to have officers at the store during the (Black Friday) event.”

All of the earlier protests within Oklahoma City limits had gone off without a hitch.  A group had walked in, mic checked the assembled shoppers and employees, spoke their piece, and walked out unmolested. But they did notice something interesting as the night went along: With each new store they visited, there was an increased police presence.

Occupy Hyatt: Harassed Hotel Workers (the 99%) Fight Back against Management (the1%)


The mainstream media likes to claim that Occupy Movement is comprised of aimless activists without concrete goals. They should go ask Martha and Lorena Reyes, two recently fired Hyatt housekeepers who know exactly why the 1% who run everything need to be occupied and what the 99% is demanding.
Until recently, the two sisters worked for the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, CA. On October 14th, after 30 years of combined service, they were abruptly fired.

According to the Hyatt, they were terminated for “stealing company time.” The hotel alleges that they took ten minutes too long on their lunch breaks. The Reyes sisters explain that housekeepers are assigned so much work that they frequently do not have time to take their legally-mandated, 10-minute break in the morning. It is routine and long-accepted by management for them and their coworkers to take an extra ten minutes during lunch to replace their missed break.

The Reyes sisters believe that they were actually fired for a different reason.

Their story begins in September during “Housekeeping Appreciation Week.” On arrival to work, Martha was greeted with a collage of her and her coworkers’ faces digitally altered onto the bodies of women in bikinis. She was horrified and took down the picture of herself and her sister, Lorena.

Though it’s commonplace to see images of scantily clad women in the media, Lorena explains, “In my culture I was raised to be conservative with my body. I don’t like bikinis… I felt very uncomfortable knowing my male coworkers were looking at that.”

Shortly afterwards, both women were fired.
 Marta (l) and Lorena (r) ReyesStanding up to the boss: Marta (l) and Lorena (r) Reyes

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Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

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