Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rockupy Everett: The Concert In Front of the Snohomish County Courthouse Plaza

Occupy Everett has been going on for almost a month now and on Saturday December 3rd the movement held a small gathering and concert opened to all who wanted to join in. There were multiple performers, including Peter Ali and Jim Page. The greatest part of the whole event was one Dorli Rainey, the 84 year old lady who was pepper sprayed in Seattle during the Occupy Seattle movement.

The Occupy Everett movement is indeed a small one, but none the less an important one. I spoke to a few members and got a little bit of history regarding the movement here Everett. I was told that the Occupy Everett movement was started in response to the Occupy Seattle fiasco that occurred (the one in which a pregnant woman and Dorli Rainey were pepper sprayed by police). The leadership is in constant contact with Snohomish County officials and regularly attends their meetings where they make deals and learn about new regulations that the county makes for the occupiers to follow while they camp out in front of the administration building.

The County made a deal with the Occupy Everett leadership, and they gave the occupiers a permit to camp out in front of the administration building, a permit which never expires so long as the occupiers follow certain regulations like keeping the area clean and free of hazardous materials and obstructions. For instance, one of the regulations is the prohibition of wooden structures on the camp because they are considered a fire hazard. This has upset most occupiers many because it rains here a lot, and the occupiers were using wooden pallets to set their sleeping arrangements on so they are raised off of the ground and won’t get wet. As these pallets are wooden structures they are banned.

The occupiers here in Everett have access to two porta-potties in the camp as well. One is paid for by the county and the other is paid for by the occupiers as per an agreement that was struck with the occupy leadership and the county. Although this had caused a twist in the panties of some Everett residents (I’m assuming their Republicans) who don’t believe that their tax dollars should be used to supply the occupiers with any amenities. The one porta-potty that is being paid for by the county has apparently been there since the beginning, but the funny thing is that it’s not being used by just the occupiers there on the scene. Comcast Arena is located not far away, and many occupiers have seen Comcast workers using the porta-potty as well and say they have always used said amenity.

Aside from “pottygate” the occupiers assured me that everything is well in their little encampment. They keep the area clean, they follow the regulations imposed on them by the county, the police and deputies have been friendly (to the extent that they just don’t make contact the occupiers) and no one has been heckled or treated poorly in anyway.

This concert event did have a police presence, but it was a small one as the event itself wasn’t relatively large (at least compared to it’s cousins like Occupy Seattle, Oakland, etc). I saw at most three sheriff’s deputies overlooking the event and looking rather bored with the orders they were given.

There was music at this event of course, and even coffee which was free for all people who were attending the event. There were also a few speeches and attendees were encouraged to come up on stage and speak their mind throughout the event. Performers were playing guitars, drums, and flutes and over all they were all very nice. But as I said, the main event was the anxiously awaited speech that was going to be given by Dorli Rainey herself.

For those who don’t remember or follow the news, Dorli is being called the “new face of the occupy movement” because of what happened to her when police tried to break up the Occupy Seattle movement back in mid November. When she stood up on the stage you could see just how small she is, and how much of an imposing and threatening person she is not. She spoke for a short time and talked about how she gets letters, emails, and phone calls from all across the United States and the world. In one letter she received came from Vienna, in which the writer called her a hero. She wanted to make it clear to everyone at the concert that she was not a hero, and went on to say that she was just “in the right spot at the right time”.

Dorli went on to say that the Occupy movement is the biggest movement she has ever been apart of. Bigger than the civil rights movements, the women’s rights movements, and the anti-Vietnam War movement. She assured the attendees that the Occupy movement was growing larger and larger and wasn’t going to go away anytime soon, and that she was going to continue to participate. One thing she did say which I had trouble agreeing with was “the police aren’t your friend”. I had to disagree, but I had to agree with other parts of her speech regarding the police. It’s obvious that the occupiers don’t like the police at all because of the dispersals, the beatings, the arrests, and of course the indiscriminate use of pepper spray. The thing I agreed with the most about her talk on the police was that since 9/11 the police forces across America have changed forever as they are being militarized and are used against the people in the name of freedom and safety.

All in all, the event was wonderful. It was fun, exciting, and most importantly it was safe. Dorli Rainey’s words are true in that the Occupy movement isn’t going anywhere, and that it is growing day by day.

They are the 99%, as well as you. The cops are the 99%. Other civil workers are the 99%. Even the Republican who lives down the street from you is part of the 99%. It’s time we all realized this, came together and fought against these bankers and corporations that are destroying America and turning our country into a police state. It’s time the workers, the welfare recipients, the civil servants, the unions, the police, and other stand up to these banks and corporations and tell them “we are the 99% and our voices will be heard. You will not buy us out!”


Occupy Everett Group Has Permit to Camp

Keith Olbermann: Dorli Rainey Interview

Occupy Everett Facebook Page

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Penn State Scandal: Why Joe Paterno Should Be Punished

It’s been a crazy few months for the United States. The Republican Presidential hopefuls are all debating for their party’s nomination, the Occupy Wall Street (and other Occupy movement itself) is in full swing and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and the Penn State scandal is all over our TV screens as Penn State students are protesting against the firing of Joe Paterno. The latter is what I will be writing about tonight.

Back in 2002 a man walked into the Penn State showers only to find one Jerry Sandusky raping a 10 year old boy. Instead of calling the police and/or stopping the rape himself he reported the incident to Joe Paterno, the Penn State head football coach. After hearing the news of this incident you would think he would have called the police or at least confronted Sandusky and fired him and/or forced him to retire. But no, apparently Paterno thought that the best punishment would be to revoke his locker room and shower privileges and never speak of the incident again.

Well at the beginning of the month Jerry Sandusky was finally arrested for sexually abusing multiple young boys from his charity “The Second Mile”. News got out to the public that not only has Sandusky been abusing children for almost a decade but that Joe Paterno and others on the Penn State football staff knew of the abuse and didn’t do anything about it. As a result the Penn State Board of Trustees fired Paterno for trying to cover up this horrible crime. The Penn State students did not like this idea.

After Paterno was fired many students took to the streets and protested (or rioted, rather) the firing of Paterno. They turned over a news van and even threw objects at police officers. The students said that they believe that the firing of Joe Paterno over this situation is horrible because he has done so much for Penn State’s football program and thus he should be allowed to keep his job.

The students are not the only ones who believe this, as just recently football hall of famer and Penn State great Franco Harris is releasing statements saying that he stands beside his former coach Joe Paterno and believes that his firing was unjust.

From the article:

"I feel that the board made a bad decision in letting Joe Paterno go," said Harris, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "I'm very disappointed in their decision. I thought they showed no courage, not to back someone who really needed it at the time. They were saying the football program under Joe was at fault.

"They really wouldn't give a reason. They're linking the football program to the scandal and, possibly, the cover up. That's very disturbing to me. ... I think there should be no connection to the football program, only in the case that it happened at the football building with an ex-coach.”

For one, the football program isn’t being linked to the scandal. It wasn’t the football program who raped and then tried to cover up the abuse of several young boys. But people that are a part of the football program (Sandusky, Paterno) are linked to the scandal because one of them raped young boys and the other one didn’t report it to the proper authorities.

Jon Stewart made the best point I think I have ever heard.

From the clip:

“I guess it’s pretty hard for you to believe that this guy you think is infallible and this program you think is sacred could hide such heinous activities, but there is some president for that (the catholic church). And just like with the Catholic Church no one is trying to take away your religion, in this case football, they’re just trying to bring some accountability to a pope and some of his cardinals who fucked up. So don’t worry, on Saturday you’ll still get to go to services against Nebraska, no one’s going to take that away because obviously you’re young, and that would be a traumatic experience. And we wouldn’t want that memory to scar you for life.”

The case for firing Paterno is simple. He technically did something illegal and he should be held accountable for it legally. He covered up a crime. He knew Sandusky was raping young boys (in the locker room showers of Penn State) and the only thing he did was try to stop it from happening on his turf by revoking Sandusky’s locker room and shower privileges. What he should have done was fired Sandusky, or forced him to retire, or (hey this is an interesting concept) reported Sandusky to the police for raping young boys.

The reason for this cathartic outcry for Paterno from Penn State students is simple. Penn State’s football program brings in millions of dollars for the school. As one student said on the news, “he’s done so much for this school.” But I’m sorry, just because you have done so much for the school and the football team should not exonerate you from covering up such a crime. Thank about it this way, if you knew that someone that worked under you was raping little boys would you just sweep it under the rug? And if you would, where the hell are your morals and ethics? If I caught someone I worked with raping young boys I would report them to the police immediately.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Drug Testing Those on Welfare: A Wasteful and Stigmatizing Tactic.

During the summer, the state of Florida made it law that anyone applying for welfare benefits had to take a drug test before receiving said benefits. If you were applying for welfare you are required to pay for the drug test first. If you pass you are reimbursed for the test and you can receive the benefits. If you do not pass you are denied the benefits for a year, then you can retake the test and get your benefits if you come up negative.

This idea is becoming very popular among Americans who believe that drug testing welfare recipients will cut back on waste and stop the poor from spending their welfare money on illegal drugs. The reasoning behind this is that those who are currently on welfare will have to be drug tested, and if they are positive then the benefits are taken away, thus the ex-recipient will no longer receive money to spend on illegal drugs and the money saved can go to someone who is more deserving.

“Why should my tax dollars go to someone who is just going to buy drugs with it?”

This idea is expanding as well. Some states are considering mandatory drug testing for unemployed individuals who are applying for unemployment benefits, as well as drug testing for people who are participating in state job-training programs. These ideas are appealing to people and seem to be overwhelmingly supported.

But the truth is that mandatory drug testing for people applying for or already on welfare doesn’t do what supporters think it does. It is in actually wasteful, and more importantly can be unconstitutional.

Supporters highly believe that large numbers of people who use drugs go on to welfare to pay for their drug habit. When the law was enacted in Florida 38 out of 40 people who were first drug tested came up negative. That means only 2 came up positive for drug use, and 1 of those 2 individuals is appealing the results.

Why is this law so bad? Well for one it stigmatizes the poor. The idea that the majority of people on welfare are drug users that use their welfare money to buy illegal drugs only supports the stereotype that anyone who doesn’t make a lot of money is automatically a drug abuser. Also, it’s not very cost effective for the state either. Drug testing is thought of as a great way to save tax dollars, but that’s not factual. Think about it. In Florida if each drug test costs (lets assume in lowest terms) $50 and the state has to pay $50 back to the 38 people who passed their drug test then that means the state has just lost $1,900. That means the state only made $100 dollars from the two individuals who did not pass their drug test.

Now think of it on a much larger scale. If 100,000 people apply for welfare and are drug tested, and only 5% do not pass that means 95,000 people have to be reimbursed $50. That’s $4,750,000 that the state now has to repay to those who passed the test just to prevent 5,000 people from receiving welfare benefits. The state has only made $250,000 off of those who did not pass which means the state has actually paid back $4,500,000. But it’s worth it for so little revenue...right?


A study conducted back in 1996 by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism showed that there is no significant difference in the rate of illegal drug use by those on welfare and those who are not on welfare. Another study showed that 70% of people between the ages of 18 and 49 use illegal drugs and are employed full time.

But let’s also take something else into consideration; the amount of time and money that is going to be wasted in court fighting this new law. The Fourth Amendment puts strict limits on what kind of searches the state can legally conduct, and drug tests are considered a type of search. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said that drug testing was an unreasonable search and that the state can only conduct drug tests in exceptional cases when the safety of the public is an issue. Bus and train operators should be drug tested because their job requires them to safely transport the public. And there is no real safety reason for drug testing welfare applicants, thus the law is unfair, wasteful, and more importantly unconstitutional.

The truth is that this law is aimed at stigmatizing the poor during times of economic hardships. Think about it, if the state of Florida was seriously concerned about drug use they would implement stricter laws regarding illegal drugs that are aimed at the entire population, and not just a certain class of people.

The idea that this laws saves tax dollars and curbs illegal drug use is bunk. You’re concerned that your tax money will be going to a small percentage of people who may or may not use the money on drugs. And now you’re paying for drug tests for the higher percentage of individuals who pass.


I understand fully that no one wants their tax money going to pay for someone's drug habit, I mean who would? Aside from the fact that we don't want to be enabling someone's drug habits, we also feel that welfare recipients should be doing something useful with the money we give to them like buying food and clothing and putting a roof over their head. Don't get me wrong, I'm not for people using drugs on welfare money. I just think that if you want to curb drug use or stop this kind of thing you should make stronger laws against illegal drugs that apply to everyone. Instead of doing that the state of Florida has gone into an all out class war.

Here's some more food for thought for you. It only takes 30-40 days of not smoking marijuana for a marijuana user to pass a drug test. It only takes a few days to a week for crack and meth users to pass a drug test, and people who abuse prescription drugs only have to stop for a few days for their systems to be clean as well. So how does this law work when all a drug user needs to do is discontinue using drugs for a short time so they can pass a test (a test that your state will have to reimburse the money on) and then start using again once they receive their welfare money (money that YOU will technically be giving them)?

This law makes no sense.

I know this blog is late in being posted as the law was enacted during the summer. I had to write it now because I see this poll being passed around Facebook asking people if they believe drug testing welfare recipients is a good idea. The results are an overwhelming “yes” vote. I believe this is because the majority of people believe the stereotype that most people on welfare are drug users who can’t get their life together, or believe that drug testing is an effective way to make sure deserving people get welfare money rather than undeserving and that this will save money for the state.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The 2012 Conspiracy and Why It's Bunk

For the past few years I have heard all sorts of things about the 2012 myth that is gaining momentum as the date, 12/21/2012, draws near. I first heard about the myth when I was attending college from an old friend whom I went to high school with. At the time I thought that maybe this was just some Nostradamus fad and that it would die after some time had passed. Sadly, it didn't. (And sadly Nostradamus' "predictions" are also being hyped up, but that's another blog for anther time.)

More recently another friend of mine has been going all out with the 2012 myth nonsense, as if he were on war time mobilization and needed to spread the word as if he were Paul Revere and 2012 was the British Red Coat army coming to arrest the founding fathers. I remember back in 2008 we used to have all kinds of discussions and debates about the apparent doom that was approaching earth. In fact I remember making a bet with him that if the world didn't come to some cataclysmic end on 12/21/12 he would owe me $50. And if it did come to an end...I would owe him $50...

But back then he could provide no proof or any kind of evidence or any viable research that could prove this unstoppable doom of course. Just things that he heard from others, or maybe got off of the internet or from a book. I don't know where he got the idea to begin with and unfortunately the idea hasn't faded from his mind at all in the past 3 years. And what's even more unfortunate is that this 2012 myth has him scared.

No, I'm being 100% serious. He's actually afraid that he is right, and that something terrible is going to happen on or after 12/21/12. And nothing seems to be able to convince him otherwise. He has claimed to have done all sorts of "research" that he cannot present to prove his stance. The only things he can present are conspiracy videos from youtube with Jesse "The Body" Ventura, and David "HOLY SHIT REPTILIAN ALIENS ARE CONTROLLING THE PLANET!" Icke featured in them.

First off, Jesse Ventura is an ex-pro wrestler from the WWE (formally the WWF), who somehow got elected as Governor of Minnesota. He has no background in science and (in my own words) is a "fly by the seat of your pants" politician.

Secondly, David Icke is a British journalist with no formal college or university education, no background in science, and he seriously believes that the world is under the influence of reptilian aliens that have taking the form of humans. One day he had a strange sensation that he was being pulled to a new age healing book as if he were a piece of metal being magnetically pulled in. He sought out the author, who was a psychic healer named Betty Shine, and was apparently told by her that she had a message for him and that he was sent to heal the earth.

In the early 90's Icke went to Peru where according to him he felt attracted to an earthen mound that was surrounded by waist high stones. He says that he was pulled there, again as if he were magnetically drawn to that place. Now he writes new aged books about vibrations, psychic energies and...oh yeah that's right, reptilian alien shape shifters that control the planet.

Are these credible sources of scientific information? Are these the people you really want to get important information from regarding the end of the world or a hostile shift in American Government policies?

There is more than just one 2012 myth though, and I trust each of them about as far as I can throw Dick Cheney. Of course there is the once wildly believed (and terribly NOT entertaining movie) scenario of the world simply crumbling apart. There are also the scenarios of the massive solar flare, the asteroid, and (Dun, dun DUUUN!!!) the so-called return of "Planet X" (which is considered by most to be a brown dwarf star).

More recent scenarios seem a little more plausible, but as always no one has any evidence to prove the claim. This scenario is a rather vague and unspecified threat of hostile Government action against the people of the United States and the entire world. The scenario begins with, of course, the date of 12/21/2012. According to conspiracy theorists on the day that the Mayan calender ends the "New World Order" will begin with the US Government handing over all sovereignty to the United Nations. That means the Navy, Marines, Air Force, Army, and Coast Guard will be under the full control of the UN. We will be at the mercy and the whim of the UN.

Other theorists believe that...well...they don't know what will happen. But they are pretty damn sure something is going to happened on the day the Mayan calender ends. Whether it's a solar flare, an asteroid or comet colliding with the earth, the planet simply tearing itself apart, hostile Government actions, "Planet X", or even planetary alignments. They aren't sure what it could be, but it will be something, and it's certainly going to happen and it's a real fear that they have.

I wonder if I could coin a new word for someone who is afraid of the date 12/21/2012, and the unknown that it will bring? Mayanaphobe? Twentytwelveaphobe? Eh, I'm leaning toward Mayanaphobe.

But the question still remains. Why? Why are people afraid of this one specific date? What started it all?

This is all caused by the ancient Mayan people (Damn those handsome devils!) and the fact that one of their calenders abruptly ends at a certain date. The truth is that the Mayan were in fact very sophisticated mathematicians. They were comfortable with calculating things right down to a certain day, or even hour. They were also very good astronomers and could predict solar and lunar eclipses. They were able to grasp math in ways that no other culture was able to do. They were also known for sacrificing virgins to appease their gods. But in all seriousness, in Mayan records there is no mention of the world coming to an end.

OK, I have done my research. Most of this stuff I'm getting from Professor Mark Van Stone. He's a Mayan expert. That's right, a Mayan EXPERT. He has a PhD. Yeah, that's right! An actually honest to God PhD! That means he goes by DOCTOR MARK VAN STONE! He has his PhD in Latin American studies with an emphases in archeology. You would want to listen to this man when getting your research, not Jesse Ventura or David Icke.

So why did everyone start to believe the world was going to end on 2012? The story starts with (Dun, dun, DUUN!) "Planet X". Actually, it's called Nibiru. And it was supposedly discovered by the Sumerians which was believed to be heading for earth. The occurrence of Nibiru colliding with earth was originally planned for May of 2003. But as usual when nothing happened on the supposed day of destruction the date was moved back to December 2012. Much like the California priest who predicted the rapture would occur in May of this year, when it did not happen he eventually moved the date back. These two stories (the one about Nibiru being discovered and the other about Nibiru colliding with earth) were soon combined with the end of ONE of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calender, which according to the Gregorian calender is on the Winter Solstice December 21st 2012.

Just as any calender you have in your house does not cease to exist on December 31st, the Mayan calender does not cease to exist on December 12th 2012. The date on the Mayan calender marks the end of a long-count period and just like the calender you have at home begins again on January 1st another long-count period begins again for the Mayan calender.

As far as planetary alignment goes, there are no scheduled planetary alignments for the next few decades, and the earth is not going to cross the galactic plane. And even if it did the earth would be fine. Each December the earth and the sun align with the center of the Milky Way Galaxy and nothing happens.

As for the "Planet X" (Nibiru) theory, there is nothing to fear. There is absolutely no proof what-so-ever that a brown dwarf star is heading toward the earth. And if it was we would know about it, and we would know about it hundreds of years in advance.

The threat of an asteroid or meteor hitting the earth is always a real threat. And the truth is that the earth is hit by stuff from outer space all of the time. If there is a collision that is going to happen then show the proof. Come on folks, we would know if something like that was coming for us. There is no evidence to suggest that on the exact date of 12/21/2012 something will collide with earth causing wide spread destruction/extinction.

Solar flares are something that happen to us all the time. Just recently we were hit by some solar flares. In fact in 2003 the earth was hit with some very large solar flares, some of the largest ever recorded. Nothing bad occurred aside from some communication disruption. Some of the conspiracy theorists say that there will be a huge solar flare that hits the earth and that scientists agree with this notion. But the truth is that solar maximums happen approximately every 11 years. And it is true the that next solar maximum will occur in the 2012-2014 time frame, but it is predicted to be an average solar cycle, just as the cycles we have had through out history.

As for some of those theorists who say that something is going to happen on 2012 they just don't know what, I have this to say: You don't need to set an exact date for something to happen, especially if it is something that you have an irrational fear of. Be it an earth quake, an asteroid, a solar flare, a "Planet X", a hostile Government action, or the unknown. There is no need to be afraid of these things and set a date for when they are going to happen to satisfy your anxiety. Of course something bad can happen on 12/21/2012, and of course something bad can happen afterwards too. Something bad somewhere on earth is going to happen today. Some time, on or shortly after 6/16/2011 there is going to be an earth quake, a fire, a hostile regime abusing it's people. There are always bad things happening but we shouldn't fear them. This is how life is, and it's not just a waste of energy to be afraid of something you can't control it's also neurotic.

So to all of those who are seriously worried that something bad is going to happen today, tomorrow, a week from now, or on 12/21/2012 I say to you relax. Enjoy life for what it has to offer instead of being afraid of the parts you can't control. It's a waste of good mental energy that could be put to better use rather than being afraid and paranoid and spreading that irrational fear and paranoia to others so that they can be afraid with you.


Penn & Teller BS: 2012 Part 1
Penn & Teller BS: 2012 Part 2
About Mark Van Stone
Mark Stone Lecture Trailer