Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Government Prepares for Bloody Sagebrush Rebellion

In August of last year, I wrote an article  -- DHS Prepares for Confrontation Against Pennsylvania Militia -- in which I relayed worrying information I had received concerning plans by the federal government to use military force against elements it deemed to be "right-wing militias in defiance of federal law." Though the information I received last summer concerned a defiant police chief in Pennsylvania, it was evident that the Obama administration was afraid that one wild confrontation against a single militia could create a cascade effect that would plunge the United States into chaos, and possibly civil war.

At the time it seemed ludicrous that our mighty federal government and our all powerful drone executioner could possibly be afraid of the consequences that would unravel from confronting a small, yet defiant right-wing militia; but considering how the Bureau of Land Management just yesterday retreated when confronted with the possibility of their ongoing Nevada operation escalating  into a full kinetic conflict, their fear cannot be denied. The situation in Nevada is tense; the government is not facing only an armed family of ranchers refusing to pay grazing fees, it is facing various militia groups which have traveled from other states to defend the Bundy ranching clan.

BLM confronts Nevada ranchers.
In their capitulation letter, the Bureau of Land Management claimed that it wanted to prevent violence, and that it would be seeking to: "to resolve the matter administratively and judicially." As a result of their surrender, the federal government has created an environment in which one of the following two possibilities are likely to manifest: either the feds return in full force, shedding blood with a brutality not seen in the US since Waco; or the militias are emboldened, setting a precedent that could lead to future escalation by militias when confronted with unpopular federal actions.

The federal government owns 84% of the land in Nevada, and it is increasingly seizing land that now is managed by conservative elements -- as rural areas generally tend to be more conservative and Republican. The massive take-over of land by the federal government will continue, and it looks like a battle is brewing between traditional ranchers and a liberal elite increasingly empowering the federal government with more environmental powers, environmental powers which allow it to seize territory largely at-will, and with little recourse for anyone too politically unconnected or incapable of hiring an army of lawyers.

As fears over global warming, deforestation, and the extinction of species increase, more people will find their traditional lifestyles rendered irrelevant in the face of increasing government powers. When the Bureau of Land Management retreated, they in reality merely postponed the inevitable. Their retreat was merely the federal government deciding that it wants to fight on its own terms and under its own timetable. But make no mistake about it, the fight is coming!

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Fall of Liberal Spain

Despite the majority of the Spanish population opposing George W. Bush's military involvement in Iraq, the conservative government of José María Aznar decided to cooperate with his crusade, sending Spanish troops to shed blood. Resentment against Spain grew in the Muslim world, and when in 2004 Madrid's trains were bombed, Aznar's government found itself unwilling to admit that the attacks were carried out by Al-Qaeda influenced individuals. 

The attacks came a few days before the general elections, and if they were seen to have been carried out by Basque separatists, it would have led to a surge in nationalist, conservative sentiment that promised to secure a PP victory. The people saw through the PP's lies, and instead handed an electoral victory to the liberal PSOE. Spaniards, having seen firsthand how their government was willing to lie to them about a terrorist attack and aware that W. Bush had lied about Iraq, began to suspect that they could have also been lied to concerning who truly carried out the attacks of September the 11th, the very attacks which led to a war which we are still fighting nearly 13 years later.

After the PSOE victory, the newly-elected José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero set Spain on a course of peace, immediately withdrawing troops from Iraq, and, two years later, signing a ceasefire with the Basque separatist group ETA. On the domestic front, LGBTQ rights improved, women's rights gained strength, and the War on Drugs was kicked down a notch.

The economic crisis battered Spain worse than it battered many other countries, thanks largely in part to deregulation of the global economy, and worsened by policies inherited from the PP. Spain was making social progress, but it came as no surprise when the PP won the Spanish elections in 2011, electing the very man who had been the face of deceit in the 2004 elections.

It is now 2014, and the PP has only made things worse for the average Spaniard. The economy has not improved in the past two years, and the laws are regressing to a strictness not seen since the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. 

The PP has introduced legislation which makes abortion illegal in most cases, and it also seeks to ramp up the War on Drugs back to a more tyrannical level. Emboldened by attempts to pass laws that would make protesting an extremely risky proposition, the government has strengthened the power of the police forces. "Insulting a police officer" could now carry a fine of up to 30,000 euros, taking away the poor's voice.  

While Uruguay, the United States, and even Morocco currently debate the legalization of cannabis, the Spanish government is seeking to make any cultivation of the plant an offense punishable by up to a 30,000 euro fine. As the pro-cannabis legalization newspaper Soft Secrets recently highlighted, there's a feeling of "insecurity" among the citizens of Spain.

In Galicia, a couple was found to be harvesting one cannabis plant -- for personal consumption -- and were fined 9600 euros. Unable to pay the fine, the family was evicted from their home and cast into the streets while the banksters who plundered Caixa Galicia receive bonuses in the millions of euros.

Less than a decade ago, it seemed as if a liberal, progressive future awaited Spain, but it appears as if the only thing certain at this moment is that the people will continue suffering while the government in Madrid answers the calls of its banking elite, neglecting the wishes of the 99%.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Dominican Republic and the Shadow of American Tyranny

The Dominican Republic -- a Caribbean nation that in the 20th century was twice liberated from itself by American kinetic action and which was the recipient of over three decades of American-backed dictatorship -- has just taken another step back towards tyranny; the Dominican House of Representatives has just passed a bill which reforms the penal code, taking away large parts of its French character, and bringing it more in line with America's penal code.

After the attacks of September the 11th, the United States feared that hordes of Islamic extremists influenced by Al-Qaeda would try to infiltrate the Homeland through friendly, neighboring countries. To prevent Al-Qaeda from exploiting Haiti's status as a failed state to infiltrate the Dominican Republic and later the US, Washington helped create CESFRONT, militarizing the Dominican border in a manner described by Todd Miller as an "overlooked manifestation of U.S. imperial policy in the post-9/11 era." CESFRONT has such a close relationship with the US Border Patrol, that it maintains an office in the US embassy.

America's newest export: the police-industrial complex.
The US Border Patrol is a large proponent of drones, massive surveillance, and warrantless searches of vehicles and private belongings in areas spanning up to 100 miles from the border. In 2012, the US Department of Homeland Security began deploying drones over Dominican skies, with DHS secretary Janet Napolitano paying a personal visit to sign a cooperation agreement with Dominican authorities.

While US federal agencies help militarize the border of the Caribbean island, the New York Police Department maintains an office in Santo Domingo. NY Magazine went as far as claiming that the NYPD had created its own FBI and CIA and was waging the city's version of an international War on Terror. Cooperation between Santo Domingo authorities and the NYPD has kicked the Dominican Republic's police tactics into military overdrive. The police during the Rafael Trujillo's dictatorship (1930-1961) saw a police force which employed fewer military tactics, relying more on intelligence and infiltration, as opposed to raw force.

The Dominican Republic has fully welcomed America's 21st century model of policing. Police in combat helmets, military-grade armor, and carrying machine guns inside of their armored-vehicles is the peacetime force in the streets of America and her satellite states. One can only use the power of nightmares to imagine what these police forces would morph into if peace in the streets became a thing of the past.

Beyond embracing American police tactics, the Dominican House of Representatives is also busy modifying the Dominican penal code to be even more draconian. If passed by the Dominican Senate, the DR could soon: make pre-trial detention the norm rather the exception; do  away with the statute of limitations for many crimes; hinder a judge's power to suspend minor sentences; legalize double jeopardy; and increase the maximum cumulative prison sentence to 60 years -- with a maximum of 40 for murdering a woman, despite that just two weeks ago Reuters reported that the DR's murder rate was at its lowest level in more than a decade, a rate far lower than: the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and many other parts of the US.

As Reuters recently reported: "The administration of Dominican President Danilo Medina tightened security last year by calling in the military to patrol alongside the National Police. When the troops were first sent into the streets, Medina was criticized for militarizing policing. Residents complained about the unsettling presence of machine gun-wielding soldiers walking streets and building makeshift camps in city parks. But after witnessing a marked drop in crime, the government last month extended the order to keep soldiers in the street."

The crime rate has indeed decreased, but the economy has also stabilized. A standing army can and often does bring a temporary peace, but as history shows, it's only a matter of time until that peace is violently burned to ashes by tyranny. Though presidents of the Dominican Republic are barred from seeking re-election, it's possible that Medina's successor could use his 4 years in power to plunge the Dominican Republic into a deeper despotism than the one to which it is currently acclimating.