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In the Antelope Valley, on April 15th of 2010, there were two tea parties.  They were at different locations and had different organizers.

It is hard to say if either of them were successful.

The first was a demonstration in a parking lot at a busy intersection.  People held signs and waved banners.  Observers honked their horns in encouragement as they went by.  Due to all the good cheer it was considered a resounding success.

The second was a table at the post office that had after-hours service.  A patron could go into the post office and buy a dated stamp that, since it had the date, guaranteed your income tax forms were mailed before midnight even though there were no postal employees there.

At the table, a very small group of people handed out reading material to the people in the very long line.  This material included the Libertarian Party’s Cut Taxes brochure, stuffed with political quizzes and with the Obama 1040 for entertainment value.

We had over 200 pamphlets, and we handed out all of them.  People read them in line, and took them home as well.  We actually got information into peoples’ hands.

The protest ran from about 7 pm to 10 pm when we ran out of materials.

We were also very helpful to those who didn’t know what was going on.  We explained about the date-stamps, why people were waiting in line, about how if you simply dropped your mail in the box then it would be post-marked the next day.  People were really appreciative of our help.  It is somewhat ironic that we were helping people file their taxes on time, but it made a big difference to the people involved.

While nobody honked their horns at us, it was from our point of view a success, perhaps more of one than the larger rally that accomplished nothing.  Lesson learned?  If you want a Tea Party to mean something, and you know that the announced parties are Astroturf, go ahead and do your own Tea Party.

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At least The Flagstaff police seem to have been pretty laid back about it.

At 3 p.m. on March 28, 40 people dressed in black and red arrived with a shopping cart blaring music in tow at Flagstaff’s Heritage Square and began swinging cushions at each other. The feathers and fluff flew, but the mass of people also collided with the cops.

Part protest, part pillow fight, the event aimed to raise awareness of and protest the arrest of the “Republican National Convention Eight” (the RNC8).

The RNC8 protested the criminalization of dissent in Minneapolis and St. Paul during the 2008 Republican National Convention.

They were charged under the Minnesota PATRIOT act in response to their political organizing. They all face up to seven-and-a-half years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge, which allows for a possible 50 percent increase in the maximum penalty. The legal expenses for those involved with the RNC8 are estimated to be $250,000.

The last time such charges were brought under Minnesota law was in 1918, when Matt Moilen and others organized labor unions for the International Workers of the World, also known as “the Wobblies.”
[. . .]
Aaron Levy, a second-year English graduate student at NAU donning a cat-ear cap, stood atop one of the Square’s benches and gave a speech through a megaphone.

“When we come to the pillow fight today, we want to show the world there is a better way to do things,” Levy shouted into his bullhorn. “You don’t need guns, you don’t need Tasers, you don’t need handcuffs, you don’t need politicians and we don’t need anybody but ourselves to operate in a world of peace and justice.”

The crowd cheered, and the cops crossed their arms.
[. . .]
The cops took Levy aside and began to question him about the complaints they received.

“You just gonna leave that out there?” Officer Condon pointed to the chalk.

“It will just kinda take care of itself,” Levy said.

“Nobody wrote anything vulgar or anything?” Condon asked.

“No sir. It’s just peace, love,” Levy said.

The cops let Levy go, and the group began to clean up the mess with borrowed brooms and bare hands.

Troy Farah and Matt Roberto, “Protestors ‘resist state terrorism’ with pillows“, JackCentral (NAU online news), April 2, 2009

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You’ve probably seen it already, but it’s worthy of note just the same:

Blowing It Out Of Lenin’s Ass

It seems there hope in this world yet. Is there an award for the best use of a shaped charge? Somebody deserves to receive it for this.

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I’ve returned from the great adventure I call “LP-SPAN” and here are my thoughts on the technical side of the issue. It is my hope that we can take this and build on it to make the next round of LNC insanity even better in terms of the broadcast quality. All suggestions are definitely appreciated. This is most definitely a work in progress.

The equipment:

I was using a Microsoft LifeCam either attached to a clip on the top of my laptop or on its independent pole. The camera allows pan and zoom IF you use the Microsoft software. However, the Justin.tv feed doesn’t allow that. No idea if Ustream does. I also had trouble with lighting issues in the room, especially the projector screen glare.

For future, I’d recommend a real videocam on a tripod, which should be able to create a better view and video quality. Personal experience suggests a bird-watching scope tripod over a camera tripod for lightness and ease of use. Plus mine has super-high elevation so it could pan over the crowd. Background lighting

The laptop was sitting on a tray table I had brought along since the room didn’t have any tables except for catering or the meeting table. It caused shaking of the cam at times when I tweeted, and the hunchover caused havoc on my back over time. I was hurting badly until Rachel gave me a much-needed back rub. “Bitchin’!” J

I’d recommend not having the camera attached to the laptop or at least set up in a way that it doesn’t shake. That and having a good setup so the laptop is the proper height to the user.

I’d also recommend a good omnidirectional microphone set up where everything can be caught well. The mic built into the webcam also caught my comments and occasional whispers, and a lot of extra noise. At SD the board table was in a cube with an open center, and the mic in there would have been best. I didn’t have that and it would have been a big help.

The testing:

I made sure that I understood how it all tied together and I did some test runs at home to make sure. That made a big difference come show time. However, the differences between my den and the meeting room were vast. I’d recommend testing in the meeting room if at all possible, because of the acoustics and lighting.

I tried the Justin.tv feed with the laptop’s webcam, then the external one recording, then with outside people and trying to embed.

Embedding the live feed was also a challenge. I had Todd Barnett on the phone helping to troubleshoot on his end. It helps to have someone on the receiving end to evaluate the reception. Ditto during the meeting. The justin.tv feed had a chat room built into each feed window, and that made getting the feedback easy, which came in handy when the connection got bad. Justin.tv does NOT work with WordPress well, unless Todd and I just missed something, which is certainly possible. I got it to embed at blogger/blogspot just fine. Other embedding notes are appreciated.

We also encountered a horrible screeching when we were testing, until we figured out that it was caused by the laptop speakers output being picked up by the webcam mic and creating a nasty feedback loop. The solution was to mute the speakers. Wear headphones when adjusting the microphone volume.

The Feed:

First, I was on the hotel’s wireless connection, which at times was very slow. The more people that were logged into the network, the slower it got. If you can, use a wired connection to ensure the connection rate stays consistent.

Second, it is extremely important to have someone on the other end provide feedback on the reception. On my end, the display on the popout window was far different than the one in the main window. Here the chat box was invaluable, and I was lucky to have multiple people giving me feedback.

Third, Justin.tv gave me the option to record as we broadcast. Do it. It saves off the pieces online for later download. I’d suggest stopping and restarting the recording at various spots to break it up into manageable segments instead of one long one. I always made sure to check the bandwidth between recordings because of the wireless, but I don’t think that may be necessary on a wired connection.

The twitter:

It’s a great tool to do this live. Yes, the 140 character limit can be an issue at times. I’d recommend two tweets, both in the gallery rather than on the board, who should focus on what is going on anyway. Plus, it removes any issue about “decorum” or “executive session”, but the tweets should be as neutral as possible. The advantage of two is that one can pick up what the other missed, which is an area I had trouble with at times. I’d also suggest that if you can’t get on a wired connection, then see if the tweet can be done on a Blackberry. The wireless connection problems that plagued the feed connection also slowed down the tweets. It may be advisable to have whomever is tweeting be different from the camera operations.

All in all, my rig was a little crude, but it was something. I don’t see this as too difficult, just taking a little getting used to. If you test beforehand and practice, it goes better.

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From Liv Films, an editorial about gay marriage, fat marriage, eating lobsters, and more. Mona of Liv Films was the “Ron Paul Girl,” but most of their recent work has been non-political. LMFAO (laughing my fat ass off)….

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Something stinks in the Sooner State.

Oklahoma voters were the only voters with no choices for president on their ballot except Bush Skull and Kerry Bones in 2004, and Oklahoma is one of 5 states that doesn’t permit write-ins, so Oklahoma voters who wanted to vote for someone other than Bush or Kerry in 2004 completely lost their right to vote (Source: Ballot Access News). In order to be on the ballot, an independent candidate or alternative party has to get signatures equal to 5% of the last vote cast, which is the hardest standard in the country, and they have to get 10% of the vote to keep their place on the ballot, second behind only Alabama with 20%. Half of the state legislative races go completely unopposed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court refused a challenge to this edict, and the feds have no jurisdiction.

Currently, there is an
effort
underway to change this crazy scheme by initiative, but Oklahoma makes it hard to get issues on the ballot by initiative. Statute initiatives must get the signatures of 8% of the voters, which is among the highest percentages among states which allow citizen initiative, and constitutional amendments need 15%, tied with Arizona for the highest percentage required by any state that allows constitutional amendments by citizen petition according to a chart by
National Voter Outreach. The signatures have to all be gathered within 90 days, and then the State Supreme Court can hold up approval for the vote to take place by over a year.

After you gather the signatures, you have to print the names of everyone who signed on the back of the page. Imagine having to do that several hundred times after you get back from a hard day of asking people to sign and getting run out (or attempted) of every location imaginable, public and private, or having to flip the page over and ask busy people to print their name a second time for every single signature – especially when working on more than one issue. Yep, it sucks, and is one of the most asinine rules I have encountered in petitioning in 27 states plus DC over the past ten years. And there are some very asinine rules out there, such as New England states requiring signatures from every city to be on a separate page, and Massachusetts ruling that any tiny tear, food stain, stray pen mark or writing outside the box disqualifies a whole page of signatures.

To make matters worse, in a decision in the case of Yes on Term Limits v. Savage, U.S. District Court Judge Tim Leonard upheld a challenged Oklahoma state law (in effect since 1969) banning out of state residents from being ballot petition circulators and signature-collectors there. Who, exactly, is a state resident? People move all the time. Some more frequently than others. Some people don’t predictably live in one place long enough to get a mortgage or apartment lease, so we prefer to live in motels or stay with friends (I resemble this remark). Some people don’t even have a place to live at all. Does that mean we should lose our right to petition the government for redress of grievances?

Shortly after this ruling, as Brian Doherty reports at Reason Magazine,

longtime libertarian political activist Paul Jacob was indicted on felony charges in Oklahoma for conspiracy to defraud the state, along with Susan Johnson of National Voter Outreach and Rick Carpenter of Oklahomans in Action.

It isn’t Jacob’s first time with the guns of the state aimed at him. He served five months in jail in 1984, after a year on the run, for refusal to register for the draft.

In his interview about the arrest with Brian Doherty, Paul Jacob explains:

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Reno GonzalezFrom Reno Gonzalez’s myspace blog…..

Understand this please…
Current mood: peacefulfor those that do not yet understand; I am not at Elaine or Ed’s home any longer.

There are three stories, what I was told by Ed and what Ed tells others, then the real reason. You can go ask ed why, I am tired of the lies flying around. Just another distraction from the stand I have taken on and it needs support.

Understand this…

I am working at holding our very own government accountable for the wrongs in the past and in the here and now.

I am not holding a protest march, not asking for permission to stand on a corner to tell others the truth… I am not giving into the non laws that control us.

I was sad to leave the home, but they made the choice to ask me to leave. But that does not mean much to me really. Sitting on my ass waiting for what? Security, I gave my two cents… And got nothing.

Waiting? For what? Ask to leave? Yes I was, but being on the move is where I am more at ease. Waiting for what!?!

If not me then who? If not now then when?

I have not gone home. I have been helping others setup their own orgs to networks and reach out to others…

I am not going home. Not while I still have the means… And the means I have. Thanks to your very own support and from the donations to the cause that moves this movement forward.

I will not ask for permission to continue, I have the personal responsibility to push myself forward. I determine my own level of involvement.

I sit on my ass only when I have to drive and eat. Sometimes both of those at the same time.

I cannot just sit and wait for others to wake up. So I am pushing myself to find others that are ready to cut the bullshit off. Too god damn many are hurt everyday just waiting… fuck that!

I have some interesting news for you all…

For those of you that did not know, Cindy Sheehan is going to Jordan, Syria and then to Iraq as part of her peace efforts.

A good friend of mine called and updated me about the Camp Casey’s change of command and then went on to explain the peace efforts that he will be joining Cindy Sheehan on. After a long pause, I offered my services to the group going.

He and I talked at length about what would be expected and I assured him I was ready. This is not my first time to Iraq and this is not my first time at a war zone. Nor is it my first time placing myself in harms way.

It has occurred to many that I have been allowed to travel freely about after my time with the Elaine and Ed Brown.

And I myself wonder; along with others if I will be grabbed at the airport or will they wait to allow me to leave and have someone else do their dirty work… Either way… This is new for me…

A chance to work with people that are known and actively working to end what I first saw as a must be stopped war.

I mean I have done the anti war marches and the peace marches, but none of them I felt really did anything. And the coverage was just suck.

Cindy on the other hand, moves around and gets in people’s faces and demands answers. And demands them then and there. My kinda activist.

I remember hearing about Cindy going to Cuba, and I so fucking wanted to go meet that group there… But instead I set my focus on something that could be tracked and explained to bring our government back to the people’s will and control; and hold those that lied accountable for their actions.

On Easter weekend of this year I met Cindy in person. It was part of my trip on my way to offer my services to Elaine and Ed Brown. Funny how some things work out.

Once I have things all set I will update my status on my work here at home. Perhaps I could blog about my account of what happens over seas…

IF, I am not able to go with them on their “Peace Efforts”… Then I will carry on here. California and Arizona have been asking for a meeting there and I want to go talk to them.

Plus I understand that Bree Walker would like to speak with me… I would love to visit Camp Casey again…

Reno

I am glad to hear that someone with experience in a war zone will be accompanying Ms. Sheehan, and I send their entire peace party the very best wishes for a safe and fruitful journey.

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Per YouTube description:

Nov 14th, 2006, around 11:30 pm, Powell Library CLICC computer lab, UCLA: student shot with a Taser multiple times by UCPD officers, even after he was cuffed and motionless.According to eye witnesses, it started when student Mostafa Tabatabainejad did not show a Community Service Officer his student ID. Eye witnesses said the student was on his way leaving the lab when a UCPD officer approached and grabbed him by the exit of the lab. He objected to the physical contact by loudly repeating “don’t touch me”, and this is the point where the video starts.

According to wikipedia, Mostafa Tabatabainejad is a fourth-year student of philosophy and Middle Eastern and North African studies at UCLA. He is an American citizen of Iranian descent. He was 23 years old at the time of the incident and is Baha”i’ by religion.

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