liberal ["liberalis" L - suitable for a freeman, generous; "eleutheros" Gk - free] (adj) generous, open-minded, not subjugated to authoritarian domination; (n) one who believes in liberty, universal suffrage and the free exchange of ideas. elite ["eslire" Fr -- to choose fr.L "eligere" -- choose] (n) the choice part; best of a class; the socially superior part of society.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

"Culture of [Petroleum-based] Life"

Culture of Life

Today, the Royal Society in London is launching a report backed by 1360 scientists from 95 countries. According to the Guardian,
The report, prepared in Washington under the supervision of a board chaired by Robert Watson, the British-born chief scientist at the World Bank and a former scientific adviser to the White House, will be launched today at the Royal Society in London. It warns that:

  • Because of human demand for food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel, more land has been claimed for agriculture in the last 60 years than in the 18th and 19th centuries combined.

  • An estimated 24% of the Earth's land surface is now cultivated.

  • Water withdrawals from lakes and rivers has doubled in the last 40 years. Humans now use between 40% and 50% of all available freshwater running off the land.

  • At least a quarter of all fish stocks are overharvested. In some areas, the catch is now less than a hundredth of that before industrial fishing.

  • Since 1980, about 35% of mangroves have been lost, 20% of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed and another 20% badly degraded.

  • Deforestation and other changes could increase the risks of malaria and cholera, and open the way for new and so far unknown disease to emerge.

New York City

Last Friday night, March 25, 2005, the New York City Police Department arrested 37 bicyclists. The bikers were exiting the Union Square area at the beginning of the monthly "Critical Mass" bicycle ride.

On March 22 the City had filed a Complaint seeking to enjoin 1) the Critical Mass from riding without a permit, 2) more than 20 people congregating before the rides in Union Square, and 3) Times-Up! from advertising or promoting the event.

The City claims that riding in a bicycle procession without a permit from the police is dangerous and unlawful.

According to NY1:
About 200 people turned out for the ride, which was set to kick off from Manhattan's Union Square.

Those arrested were charged with parading without a permit and then released.
According to New York Newsday, the police have arrested approximately 250 riders in connection with Critical Mass in the last 7 months.

The City had filed suit in Federal court to enjoin the rides last summer, but Judge William H. Pauley III ruled that the cyclists were not in violation of any Federal law and the City would have to seek its injunction in State court.

That is what the City is now doing with its current Complaint, dated March 14, 2005. The Complaint names Times-Up and four of its members. A Summons has been issued to the Defendants, who have to reply to Plaintiffs' attorneys by April 4th or April 14th, depending on whether the Summons was personally served. Failure to reply within the time period will result in a default judgment, according to the Summons.

The Complaint, is filed on behalf of Plaintiffs Raymond Kelly, Commissioner of Police, and Adrian Benepe, Commissioner of Parks and Recreation.

According to Matt Roth, quoted on Democracy Now, last Friday the police used similar tactics to what they used before the RNC.
This was the first time since the Republican National Convention, they brought out orange plastic netting to Union Square North, the meeting spot for Critical Mass and they surrounded the entire area with this orange plastic netting. As people tried to leave the starting area on their bikes or walking their bikes, some were ushered along 17th street and then basically closed in at the opposite end of the street on Sixth Avenue. They had blocked it off, and then they allowed people in, blocked it off much like I suppose cattle would be herded through blocks, and then they arrested 37 people. Some of the ride participants locked their bikes up to the scaffolding, to public street posts, and then the police went through and summarily cut every single lock of every bike that was on the street with power saws.

Norman Siegel, a prominent civil rights attorney, called the City’s lawsuit and the police’s actions, “very troubling.”

Siegel was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now in the same program with Matt Roth. Siegel says it is the first time he is aware of the City trying to enjoin protest activity. According to Siegel, the state courts should not enjoin people from publicizing a protest, even if the City views the protest as illegal.

He insists, too, that no body of competent jurisdiction has ruled that citizens need a permit to ride in the streets of New York or that citizens need a permit for twenty or more to gather in a park.

Mayor Bloomberg’s administration wants to enforce permit regulations on rides and park meet-ups. But the implications of this lawsuit go deeper than that. This echos the Bush administration’s missive to keep America’s public streets safe, as a “culture of [petroleum-based] life.”

Time’s-Up!, a non-profit, has a website and a legal defense fund.


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