Great news! I was honored by Young Americans for Liberty as their Best Blogger of the Year (2011-2012)!
If you are a liberty-loving student, please read our posts and find out more about our mission at www.yaliberty.org.
About Young Americans for Liberty
Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) is the largest, most active, and fastest-growing pro-liberty organization on America’s college campuses. With more than 300 chapters and 26,000 student activists nationwide, YAL seeks to recruit, train, educate, and mobilize students on the ideals of liberty and the Constitution.
This is not a new beginning but a continuation of a youth movement already brewing in this country. Our objective is to facilitate its success.
The Occupy Coachella Valley trial continues today. Here are some of the more interesting developments:
1. AOL/Huffington Post is still fighting to prevent one of their Patch editors from testifying on what she saw that night. We are not only up against the City of Palm Desert and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, but also a multi-billion dollar media company as well. How are we going to compete with high-priced corporate lawyers from Culver City?
2. There is now a “contempt of the court” hearing set because the Riverside County Sheriff’s department has refused the judge’s orders to release the operational information surrounding the police’s crackdown of Occupy Coachella Valley’s protests. Just so we are clear what is happening: the police thinks they are above even the court itself that they are OPENLY DEFYING the judge’s orders. This ought to worry reasonable people when the police they are trusting to uphold the law are openly flaunting it. If I was not aware of what has been going on the past ten years in America, I would be frightened. However, the police’s defiance of the law is frankly not that surprising.
3. In some way, the City of Palm Desert’s attempt to silence legitimate speech has succeeded, with the center of the protests now shifting away from city hall. However, they are wrong to think that they could bully me or anyone into silence for long. The trial, if it proceeds, will itself become a platform upon which we continue this struggle.
4. If I were to attend a school in San Francisco, the requirement to attend the trial will quickly become cost-prohibitive. If it is the city’s plan to ruin my education or bully me into poverty, I will not let them.
Four of the five Occupy Coachella Valley protesters accused of camping in a Palm Desert park without a permit as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement could face up to 180 days in jail, if convicted.
Mary Elizabeth Walker, 22, Stephen Finger, 58, Jayel Aheram, a 27-year-old who is known as Jack Lee Noftsger III, all of Palm Desert, Dustin David Powell, 29, and Ryan Cartwright, 21, both of Palm Springs, face a misdemeanor charge of unlawful assembly.
All but Aheram have pleaded not guilty, because his arraignment is not scheduled until Jan. 17.
Cartwright faces two additional counts of resisting a police officer, which means he could face up to a year in prison.
FILE PHOTO: Jayel Aheram, an organizer of the Occupy Coachella Valley group, protests in Palm Desert, Calif. on Oct. 24, 2011. Credit Jessica E. Davis.
I was also told that the sheriff’s department printed out copies of my Facebook statuses as part of their police report. Can we say creepy?
Since the passage of the horrific NDAA, even American citizens are at risk of being indefinitely detained (or “disappeared” or “black-bagged”) by the government. If past or recent history is of any guidance, those who speak out the most (political dissidents and vocal bloggers) are at especially higher risk of being targeted for indefinite detention.
This is important: if you write about politics or regularly post information or graphics that place your government in a negative light, you should consider creating a contingency plan for when you are detained by your government.
Encrypt sensitive files and consider hiding them on a separate drive
Consider using tools like Identity Sweeper (for Android users) to secure/erase your mobile data
Consider preparing a statement for release in case of arrest— This can be helpful for international news outlets and human rights organizations
Consider recording a short video identifying yourself (biographical info, scope of work) and the risks that you face and share with trusted contacts
Develop contacts with human rights and free expression organizations
Think about a strategy/contingency plan for what to do if you’re detained (see below)
If you are arrested or detained:
Is there a trusted person(s) that you would like to authorize to make major decisions on your behalf—such as whether to conduct a public campaign? If yes, please make sure to discuss your preferences with that person. The following are among the topics you could talk about:
What are your preferences for public campaigns? Is there a particular message that you feel strongly represents you and your views?
What are the organizations you feel closest to in terms of potentially leading campaigns for your release and/or better treatment?
Are there any particular attorney(s) who you know and would like to solicit for your case?
Do you have a preference about what to do about your accounts? (i.e. Change the passwords, turn them into campaign accounts or shut them down) Do you trust someone else to make crucial decisions about your accounts if your situation changes?
Is there any specific information about you or relevant to your case that you prefer not be made public?
Do you have acute or chronic illnesses which require medication or treatment? If yes, what are they? (Asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, etc.)
Are there family members that one can contact to sign off on important decisions or speak to the media? If yes, who? Are there family members who you absolutely do not want to speak on your behalf?
I do not know who you are or what you write about, but please know that I value every word that you have ever typed or mistyped, every propaganda art you uploaded, and every silly macro you reblogged. I might not ever meet you or read your words, but I want your voice to be always heard.
A fellow Tumblr blogger, Logically Positive, suggested that I write my recollection of Iraq. I suggested that I would begin by republishing some of my firsthand accounts while I was deployed there. Below is one of the emails I sent to my stepfather while stationed at Combat Outpost Rawah in the Al Anbar province in Iraq. And yes, I am aware it is filled with various typographical errors.
Musings from the Desert
October 4, 2006
I am not really sure what the date is today. I think it is the 4th of October and Wednesday, but I could be wrong.
You might have questions what is it I am currently doing in Iraq. Well, my unit is in charge of this base’s security. We man the defensive positions around the base’s perimeter as well as go on frequent patrols to make sure that the enemy is not setting up positions amid the many sand dunes and hills that surround this miniscule base. Dangers to this base is limited, but of course not exclusive, to infrequent mortar and RPG attacks. Infrequent, because patrols done by previous units in charge of security have done a successful job of neutralizing enemy positions that do crop up around the base. It is now up to my unit to keep that up.
Now, for the area itself. The base is located a few miles south of a city of 30,000 people near the Euphrates river. This is a true desert if I ever seen one. I thought the Mojave Desert is a desert, but they are nothing compared to this. The Mojave Desert at least is teeming with life. Joshua trees, bushes, cactuses, and wildlife of all kinds. This desert seems to be a barren wasteland, devoid of life. Just sand and bare rock as far as the eyes can see…
But I was wrong. While it is not as blatantly obvious as it is in the Mojave Desert, life does survive in spite of the harshness of this clime. When we went on patrol yesterday, we were to familiarize ourselves to the terrain. That means I have to observe everything, to take in the details, to learn what is “normal” in this terrain. That is when I discovered that this desert was not in fact a barren wasteland that I thought and heard it was, but rather the opposite of that. Everywhere I looked where signs of life succeeding amid the shifting sands. The most inspiring of which was a bird with a plume of shocking red feathers. I will admit, it was a bit unnerving to see such a defiant display of color in the middle of this apparent wasteland. It was the opposite of what I was doing. Me, in my desert digital, my tactical tan gear. I was trying to be part of the desert, to blend, to disappear into the endless desert background. But here is a native to this land who, instead of going with its life quietly, invisibly, chose to shatter the eerie silence of the desert with its song; and with its bright red plume, defy the overwhelming conformity the desert seems to demand (and got from me).
I do not yet hate this place. The conditions we are living under, while not desperate (we do have three meals a day, a place to sleep under, a cot to sleep on, things to entertain us, showers, Internet, free laundry service, 80-dollar Army whore…), have made a great many to despise the desert and everything and everyone in it. I do not know if it is possible for me to hate a place where the stars are allowed to shine.
U.S. drones mistook civilians for rebels at the border between Turkey and Iraq. The subsequent attack, which may have taken place inside Iraqi territory left 35 Turkish Kurds dead and wounded 15 more who were apparently smuggling fuel. Meanwhile, at least five Iraqis were killed and 18 more were wounded.
In what is the largest civilian death count in Turkey’s history fighting Kurdish rebels, 35 civilians have been killed in an air strike at an Iraq border point. U.S. drones, which had been relocated from Iraq, had detected the group earlier and mistook them for rebels.
Although many of the victims may have been diesel smugglers, they were not working for the Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) rebels. Over a dozen of those killed were reportedly teenagers, and some were the sons of village guards. Most of the survivors were said to be wounded, but only one injury was officially reported. Witness put the number of injured at fifteen.
At least they are not Americans, right? Who cares about brown-skinned Muslims anyway? It is a fulfillment of a campaign promise, we were told.
A Yemeni youth held his gun as authorities removed a roadblock in San’a. Labor strikes spread through Yemen Wednesday as workers demanded reforms and dismissals over alleged corruption linked to the country’s outgoing president.
10 years ago today, U.S. and allied forces began airstrikes against the Taliban. Kabul fell just five weeks later, but the bloody struggle to subdue militants continues to this day. Here’s our timeline of America’s costly struggle in Afghanistan, plus the mixed results in the infographic above.
Sgt. Jared Dillon, a member of the Personal Security Detachment for 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, carries a duffel bag full of cookies, candy and personal hygiene products for the Soldiers of Forward Operating Base Pacemaker, Dec. 25.
So then we get to foreign policy. Obviously, if you agree with Paul’s non-interventionist views, it makes sense to back him. But if, like me, you find Paul’s ideas dangerous, then as bad as he is, Obama is preferable. Despite the many problems I have with Obama on foreign policy, he has continued many of President Bush’s counterterrorism policies and did prove willing to order the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the drone attack that killed Anwar al-Awlaki. At the end of the day, Obama wants to be politically popular and so there are some limits to how far off the reservation he’d veer on foreign policy.
The choice is clear: if you want 16 years of George W. Bush’s foreign policy, vote for Obama. If you dissent from the supreme crimes against humanity committed under our name, then Paul is your president.
The taxpayer cost for recent Occupy Coachella Valley protests in Palm Desert is about $89,000.
City officials say the costs added up because of overtime for police, code enforcement and public works employees.
City Manager John Wohlmuth says most of the expense was for police overtime in October and November when the protesters camped in Civic Center Park and marched down El Paseo.
Councilwoman Cindy Finerty says the cost of enforcing city laws was too much.
Occupy organizer Jayel Aheram agrees, telling the Palm Springs Desert Sun ( http://mydesert.co/sBk3UW) that the city could have given money to charities rather than harass protesters.
The police state is expensive. That the city elders authorized these expenditures to suppress legitimate dissent on a small, mostly unused parking lot is pure irresponsibility. Palm Desert could have used that money to help people instead.