Archive for April, 2007

A Loud, Tuneless Warble

April 30, 2007

CNN writes about the graduation ceremony of a new class of Iraqi military recruits:

“With great pride, [the bugle player] delivers a loud, tuneless warble. It trails off in the whipping desert wind.”

Some high-ranking officials have come “to watch final training exercises for 1,500 Iraqi soldiers, who within days will be destroyed in Baghdad.”

Oh, that actually says “deployed”.

In other news from Iraq, the New York Times reports that a federal oversight agency that apparently is still doing its job found that, out of 8 Iraqi reconstruction projects examined, 7 were “no longer operating as designed because of plumbing and electrical failures, lack of proper maintenance, apparent looting and expensive equipment that lay idle”. I can’t figure out if the looting was done by the Iraqis or the American contractors who got all those no-bid contracts.

By the way. The “surge” in Iraq, which Bush and Petraeus keep reminding us has not even gotten started yet, resulted in over 100 dead American soldiers (and an unknown, much larger number of Iraqi civilians) in April.

[Update: It is becoming clearer and clearer that George Dubya will forestall any pullout from Iraq during the remainder of his term. Apparently his plan is to maintain the status quo (i.e. “stay the course”) until a Democrat can be blamed for failure in Iraq. I can see the media script for this revision of history being written now. Of course, the Democrats are equally to blame for getting us mired in this international crime called the War on Iraq, but never let it be forgotten that George W. Bush was at the wheel when America was driven off the cliff.]


Whose Streets?: Portland Police Violence at First Amendment Assemblies

April 29, 2007

On Tuesday May 1, the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center and the Portland chapter of the National Lawyers Guild will release a written report titled “Whose Streets? Recommend- ations to the Portland Police Bureau for Responding to First Amendment Assemblies”. The report is accompanied by a short video I produced for the Center that richly details how badly the Portland police continue to respond to First Amendment activities on the streets and sidewalks of the city. (Warning: This video is stark.)

This project is compiled from Center files and contains video shot from 2002 to 2006 by street video activists, legal observers, corporate media and the police themselves.

I am posting the video a couple of days early because I will be volunteering with the Portland Legal Defense Network to monitor and respond to arrests or police misconduct during the May Day march Tuesday afternoon.

Schumacher Furs Files Lawsuit Against City of Portland, In Defense of Animals, Animal Liberation Front and PETA

April 23, 2007

After 18 months of weekly (and sometimes daily) anti-fur demonstrations outside Schumacher Furs and Outerwear in downtown Portland, owners Gregg and Linda Schumacher filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Portland, In Defense of Animals, the Animal Liberation Front, PETA, and several named and unnamed individuals. The Schumachers seek damages for violation of their free speech and equal protection rights, as well as an injunction limiting the “time, place and manner” of demonstrations during the remaining weeks of their canceled lease.

Papers filed in the District Court of Oregon reveal that Portland police officers and elected officials have blamed Gregg and Linda Schumacher for escalating confrontations with the demonstrators. In a March 2006 email to Commissioner Randy Leonard attached as an exhibit to the lawsuit, Portland police Commander Dave Benson wrote that, while “a minority of the protestors have engaged in objectionable behavior”, the demonstrators are “well within First Amendment speech right[s]” and are “generally very nice people that have very strong beliefs about selling fur”. Benson noted that arrests had been made.

After meeting with the Schumachers and protest organizers, Commissioner Leonard concluded that the Schumachers “are an integral part of the problem”. Leonard also told the Oregonian newspaper that “they didn’t burn bridges — they blew them up”. Read more here.

See the Schumacher’s Complaint, Motion for a Preliminary Injunction and Brief in Support, and the declarations of Gregg Schumacher, Linda Schumacher, Scott Castleman (their private investigator) and Herbert Grey (their attorney).

[Update: Here is a link to the dispositive motions and supporting declarations filed by the animal rights defendants and the City of Portland.]

[Update: In a word, the Schumachers got spanked. Not only was their case against the demonstrators thrown out, the judge ordered the Schumachers to pay $97,000 to cover the defendants’ legal fees.]

Appeals Court Slams Bush’s “Sleight of Hand” on Pacific Northwest Salmon Recovery

April 11, 2007

On Monday, April 9, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals smacked down the Bush administration’s “sleight of hand” in claiming to aid in the recovery of Pacific Northwest salmon. Among other actions slammed by the court was the administration’s statistical counting of dead fish as living. The court rebuked Bush policy under which “a listed species could gradually be destroyed, so long as each step on the path to destruction is sufficiently modest”.

The ruling leaves open the possibility that four hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River may be breached to prevent Pacific Northwest salmon from becoming extinct.

Here are some mainstream media articles on the ruling: Court Finds Feds No Help to Fish and Appeals Court Rejects Bush Salmon Plan for Columbia Dams. Here is a copy of the court’s opinion.

High Technology

April 6, 2007

This morning a partner in the law firm I work for called his legal secretary into his office for some advice on using a new document management program the firm recently installed. He needed to learn how to pull up a document by the number that the program assigns to each document in the database.

His secretary brought him to the proper screen on his computer and instructed him to type in the appropriate document number. He typed in the number, but nothing happened.

“Why isn’t it working?”, he asked.

“Because you are pushing the numbers on your telephone,” she said.