In today's On the News segment: Occupy Los Angeles protesters and supporters challenge eviction efforts, Black Friday again marked by violence, CIA network uncovered in Lebanon, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. There are reports of arrests this morning out of Los Angeles – where Occupy L.A. patriots defied a midnight curfew to leave a park near City Hall that they’ve been camped in since October 1st. So far – at least three people have been arrested outside the park for allegedly blocking traffic. But according to police – plans to evict the entire occupation have been put on hold. That’s because – as the midnight deadline approached – thousands of supporters rallied to the Occupy LA encampment to make it impossible for police to move in. So for now – Occupy LA is safe, but as one police commander on the scene reportedly said, “that could change in the near future.” Also defying the orders of their Mayor to leave was Occupy Philadelphia. Several patriots remain camped out in Dilworth Plaza after Mayor Michael Nutter’s 48-hour deadlines to leave came and went. When asked this morning why police have yet to move in on the camp, The Philadelphia Deputy Police Chief said they were, “giving people an opportunity to leave on their own.” Or as one patriot with Occupy Philly told reporters, "I don't think the city wants to do anything to forcibly evict us. They don't want to start any trouble with the rest of the city, so they won't do it." So it appears that strength in numbers and non-violence is keeping the police crackdowns at bay – at least in LA and Philadelphia. Maybe after two months of police brutality and suppression of first amendment rights – police are finally catching on to the fact they cannot evict an idea.
Our culture is screwed. Fueled by Black Friday – total spending over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend hit a record of $52.4 billion. But the real question is – at what cost to our society? This year’s Black Friday featured its usual flare of violence, desperation, and death. At a Wal Mart in Little Rock, Arkansas dozens of shoppers rioted over $2 waffle makers. At a Wal Mart in Arizona – trampling injuries were reported as hundreds rushed the door when it opened. At the same Wal Mart – a man was pepper sprayed by police for shoplifting – giving nearby customers a dose of the chemical weapon as well. Keeping up with the times – a woman in a Los Angeles Wal Mart resorted to pepper spraying fellow shoppers to clear the way toward X-Boxes that were on sale. There were gunshots outside a North Carolina Wal Mart – a bomb scare at a Phoenix Wal Mart – and a brawl at a Pittsburgh Victoria’s Secret over women’s underwear. Bust most disturbing was what happened in a West Virginia Target – where a man collapsed on the ground and was ignored by shoppers who simply walked over his body to grab bargains rather than helping him. By the time someone did help 61-year-old Walter Vance – it was too late – he died at the hospital. Economic stimulus aside – is this really the nation we want to be??
In the best of the rest of the news…
A new report out of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development drastically cut its expectations for economic growth in Europe and the United States over the next year. According to the OECD – Europe is stuck in a mild recession and the United States will soon follow. But the Brits are actually going a step further. A Senior Minister within the U.K. government admitted to the Telegraph over the weekend that planning is already underway to deal with the aftermath of a Eurozone collapse and subsequent civil unrest. According to the article, U.K. government officials now believe a collapse of the euro is “just a matter of time,” and consulates around Europe are being prepped to deal with rioting in other nations and how to help British citizens abroad who may soon be unable to access bank accounts and withdraw cash. Meanwhile here in the United States – just keep shopping – and everything will be ok, right?
Already tense ties between Pakistan and the United States are nearing a breaking point after a misguided NATO airstrike killed 24 Pakistani troops. Following the attack – the Pakistani Foreign Minister told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that his nation has a “deep sense of rage” toward the United States. The Pakistani government then immediately cut off military supply routes to U.S. troops in Afghanistan – with state television showing convoys of American supply trucks stopped on Pakistani roads near crucial border crossings. Pakistan is also ordering U.S. officials to immediately vacate an airbase in Southwest Pakistan that serves as a launching pad for several drone strikes. Don’t forget – Pakistan has nukes – so stay tuned.
Elsewhere in our military misadventures, the CIA suffered a major blow to its spying operations in Lebanon and Iran. According to the AP – the entire spy network in Lebanon was uncovered and several informants were captured by Hezbollah. A dozen spies were also outed in Iran. Based on reporting – the CIA assets were unusually sloppy – often talking on traceable cell phones and using the code word “PIZZA” to arrange meet-ups at a nearby Pizza Hut. Former CIA officials have come forward recently to say that our nation’s once unmatchable spy craft was eroded when, during the Bush era, the CIA shifted from training spies in information gathering to simply hunt down terrorists, got get quick numbers on the newscasts. It's time to end the so-called War on Terror.
The effort to put Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on a recall ballot is more than half complete. According to groups leading the way – United Wisconsin and the Recall Walker Committee – more than 270,000 signatures have already been collected in the Badger state, meaning organizers are halfway to collecting the 540,000 signatures necessary to trigger a recall election. Several polls in Wisconsin show growing majorities supporting the recall effort – including a poll from Wisconsin Public Radio showing those in favor of recalling Walker up nine points since the spring to 58%. Of course – collecting enough signatures to get Walker’s name on a ballot is the easy part – the hard part will be overcoming the tens of millions in secret corporate cash blanketing the airwaves with phony front groups once the recall election begins.
And that’s the way it is today – Monday, November 28th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.