Monday, September 01, 2008

Amy Goodman arrested

Amy Goodman, the host of Pacifica's "Democracy Now!" radio program, has been arrested in St. Paul while trying to free two of her producers. All manner of mayhem has broken out in the Twin Cities, with water hoses and tear gas being used in answer to a handful of some 50 or so ruffians who went on a window-breaking spree after breaking away from a 10,000-strong peace march. Yesterday, police raided at least one peace group's headquarters -- a private home -- with guns drawn.

Here's the press release from "Democracy Now!":

Amy Goodman and Two Democracy Now! Producers Unlawfully Arrested At the RNC


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
www.democracynow.org

September 1, 2008

Contact:
Denis Moynihan 917-549-5000
Mike Burke 646-552-5107, mike@democracynow.org

ST. PAUL, MN—-Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was unlawfully arrested in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota at approximately 5 p.m. local time. Police violently manhandled Goodman, yanking her arm, as they arrested her. Video of her arrest can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYjyvkR0bGQ

Goodman was arrested while attempting to free two Democracy Now! producers who were being unlawfully detained. They are Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. Kouddous and Salazar were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman's crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were being arrested on suspicion of rioting. They are currently being held at the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul.

Democracy Now! is calling on all journalists and concerned citizens to call the office of Mayor Chris Coleman and the Ramsey County Jail and demand the immediate release of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar. These calls can be directed to: Chris Rider from Mayor Coleman's office at 651-266-8535 and the Ramsey County Jail at 651-266-9350 (press extension 0).

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

During the demonstration in which they were arrested law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force. Several dozen others were also arrested during this action.

Amy Goodman is one of the most well-known and well-respected journalists in the United States. She has received journalism's top honors for her reporting and has a distinguished reputation of bravery and courage. The arrest of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar is a transparent attempt to intimidate journalists from the nation's leading independent news outlet.

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

Video of Amy Goodman's Arrest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYjyvkR0bGQ

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FEMA getting it done

It appears that FEMA is doing a good job in Louisiana. Of course, the real test is yet to come, since FEMA's real job is to deal with the post-disaster issues of housing and general survival of storm survivors and evacuees. Your blogstress hopes the administration truly learned its lessons and has heeded the advice of what career civil service employees remain in its ranks. What happened during FEMA was not some sort of general incompetence on the part of FEMA's rank and file; it was the result of the politicization of the agency by the Bush administration. Indeed, well ahead of Katrina, FEMA workers tried to turn the attention of Congress to the lack of readiness created by political decisions made by the administration, but found no takers for the suggestion of an investigation.

Here's Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal's Storm Tracker blog:

After overseeing one of the largest evacuations in U.S. history, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will now shift its focus to taking care of evacuees immediate needs and then rebuilding communities lashed by Hurricane Gustav.

"We did a very good collective job in term of response, and we’ll do an equally effective job with recovery,” said Deputy FEMA Administrator Harvey Johnson, a retired Coast Guard admiral said Monday. "Act Two is about to unfold."

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Gustavian politics

In light of fears that the GOP will exploit the suffering of Gulf-Coast people to its own favor, Michael Tomasky says, not so fast:

Now consider a flood, especially in the aftermath of Katrina, and especially a flood hitting an urban area, a situation that finds many African American people being interviewed on television, as is the case today. Your average American is not going to bring information to this picture that will make her conclude that the Republicans are the party to handle this. She will think, without even really knowing that she's thinking it, that this is a matter for the Democrats to take care of – that the Democrats will handle this situation with more empathy and, post-Katrina, more competence.


CLICK HERE TO READ TOMASKY'S 'GUSTAV AND THE HARD-WIRED MIND'

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Tear gas, water cannons on RNC protesters


http://digg.com/world_news/Police_gasssing_protestors_in_St_Paul_h2o_hoses_horses

UPDATE: Joe Johns of CNN said the police were responding to a small group that broke away from the main protest in order to break windows and "generally make a nuisance of themselves."

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Gustav hits Baton Rouge

This is a problem for everyone in Lousiana, since Baton Rouge is the staging area for first response elsewhere in the state. Accoring to CNN, the FEMA command center lost power temporarily, and may now be running on emergency generators.

Your blogstress was in Baton Rouge less than two weeks after Hurricane Katrina, and it's hard to overstate the role of the Red Stick in managing such a crisis.

UPDATE: Turns out, according to CNN, that a transformer was blown, and the power company was able to reroute power to the command center.

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