Today is Politicalgates first anniversary. That's right. This little baby is now one year old.
To mark the event we have a new and fun Politicalgates contest and we hope that entrants will be as creative as possible.
Describe what Politicalgates means to you. What are the good and bad things about the blog that you would like to see changed or emphasised or do you like things just as they are? Your suggestions can be either serious or funny and can be in any form that you like. For example you could submit a picture (remember our Blingee competition at Palingates), a poem or a short essay. The more creative and original the better.
The winner will receive a prize of $50.00 and will be published in a separate blog post.
Entry will close on Friday 3rd February and results published on Saturday 4th February.
Our anniversary is also a good opportunity to take a look at our stats, as they give another indication of what our community has achieved as a whole in the first year.
This screenshot of the internal blogger stats which was taken today shows what happened during the first twelve months of our existence. For most of the year, we had between 200,000 and 250,000 pageviews per months. After Sarah Palin finally announced that she is not running for president, we immediately had a significant drop in pageviews, a drop which other blogs experienced as well, and since then it has been very stable between 140,000 and 145,000 pageviews per month.
The internal blogger stats also gives us an overview about the stats of the most popular "all-time" posts:
I would have never thought at the beginning of the year that two "non-Palin related posts" would be at the top. I was particularly pleased about the fact that the important "Plutonomy" post got a lot of attention. I am equally happy about the fact that our fabulous friend and tireless contributor Nomad also made it into the top-ten with his post about the contributors to Mitt Romney's Super-Pac.
Therefore we can look forward to another exciting year. Blogging is a challenging business as it consumes a lot of time and energy, but there should be no shortage of topics in 2012, and we do hope that all our contributors will continue to write lots of excellent posts that will continue to drive Politicalgates forward!
But there are not only the regular contributors, there is also our close-knit community of readers who support Politicalgates on a daily basis with many more facts, stories and opinions. We view ourselves as an interactive blog without censorship and moderated comments. The internet is a great tool for citizens, and it should be used extensively, in the fight for freedom, democracy and truth.
A strong movement of citizens journalism, meaning journalism outside the commercial media, is desperately needed especially in the USA, as civil rights are now being attacked virtually on a daily basis. We have documented several times at Politicalgates how the "police and surveillance state" is on a seemingly unstoppable rise in the USA. The FBI is rolling out a multi-billion dollar "Next Generation Identification" program (see an enthusiastic review here), and protesters will be amongst the most important targets. The privacy of all Americans is under huge threat due to these new measures.
But there is also a change of perception, a change of words. It is apparently now "OK" to call OWS protesters "domestic terrorists", just because they are a big nuisance to the right-wingers - as happened yesterday in several tweets by Fox News host Todd Starnes:
We know what can happen to "terrorists" these days.
Scenes from yesterday at Occupy Oakland, with the police firing tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets:
This footage was taken by OakFoSho via live streaming.
So where are they, the "domestic terrorists?" More raw-footage from yesterday, showing the protesters from above, by AP:
"Terrorists" actually cause "terror." They don't just protest on streets, or burn a flag - an act which is, by the way, protected by the US constitution, according to the US Supreme Court. But it seems only a matter of time until more right-wingers pick up this new "meme" about the OWS-protesters.
More warning signs about the "new reality" in the USA, where you might quickly transform from a demonstrator to a terrorist, are visible. A few days ago, it was reported that according to "Reporters Without Borders", the largest press freedom organization in the world, the USA has dramatically dropped in the latest world press freedom ranking from place 20 to place 47.
The reason was also made public:
The United States (47th) also owed its fall of 27 places to the many arrests of journalist covering Occupy Wall Street protests.
The USA can now be found within a rather non-exceptional neighbourhood in the 2011/2012 ranking by "Reporters Without Borders." There is now more freedom of the press in Ghana and Botswana than in the USA:
People like Todd Starnes don't care. But we should, and it's time to fight for our freedoms, or they will just slip away.
Especially since the rhetoric of the right-wingers gets more and more aggressive by the day. Yesterday, at a Lincoln Day Dinner in New Jersey, the already notorious "Tea Party" Republican Rep Allen West had no hesitation to say that Obama, Reid and Pelosi should "get the hell out of the United States of America."
Watch (for a longer clip of this inflammatory speech, click here):
But these remarks are not even the most frightening thing. What is even more worrisome is the fact that the audience seemed to be ecstatic about these remarks and cheered wildly! So they apparently think that Allen West, who clearly is a rabble-rouser and a right-wing extremist, is a great guy.
Obama-bashing is all the rage now in 2012. The more vicious, the better.
Politicalgates will continue to take a close look at all these developments. In the recent interview on Fox News with Jeanine Pirro, Sarah Palin said: "Annoy a liberal, vote for Newt Gingrich!"
Short excerpt (long version here, in which Jeanine Pirro challenges Palin, much to her displeasure):
Following Sarah Palin's suggestion, I guess it should be one of our goals here at Politicalgates in 2012 to continue to annoy those people who want to change the USA into an authoritarian state in which dissent is "terrorism."
The blog "Boogie Man Journal" has a detailed and extremely interesting first hand report about the Occupy Oakland protest yesterday where about 300 protesters were arrested - excerpts:
Because of the incident earlier in the day, I realized they were effectively treating the peaceful march as a riot. There was not rioting, or intentions to riot, just dancing, optimism, hope, and walking. But clearly the police thought differently, and I knew they would try to trap us again without warning. From the moment I saw riot police running towards are march from both directions, I knew the constitution would not apply in Oakland tonight. The police made that very clear. My friends thought differently, thinking that they would not be arrested for marching. They are currently in jail.
The second, and successful, kettle occurred as the protest was headed back up Broadway, at Broadway and 24th. Again, the police appeared quickly in front of the crowd, as well as a line behind the crowd. This time there was no side street. A few people attempted to escape into the YMCA; some mis-infonformed news reports claim that the YMCA got 'occupied'. Around 300 people were trapped, mostly young people. At this point I had fallen behind the line of riot police in back of the crowd, and when the kettle was sprung I was on the other side of the police line. I have a policy of avoiding arrest, but I feel like I've been striped of some dignity. I've seen some shit go down in oaktown, but I've always avoided arrest because it was easy. Most mass arrests occur when people choose to break the law (like occupying Bank of America in downtown SF and pitching a tent to send a statement to UC Regent Monica Lozano on BofA's board - respect). At 'unlawfully assemblies', people are usually extracted by a quick attack of 5+ cops, and their often 'targets' (previously-identified and profiled protesters). If the crowd is too large, they use tear-gas.
Tonight was different. When I fell behind the group, I knew they were going to arrest a very large number of peaceful protesters without declaring an unlawful assembly at the location. And then they did. I thought this shit was reserved for G20's and WTO meetings. I felt shame for being intimidated away from my rights. 'Unlawful assemblies' feel like a boot stomp on the first amendment, but this was like them wiping their ass with the constitution and force feeding it to me. 300+ were arrested, corralled below the YMCA @ 23rd and Broadway. The only announcement that was made was one I've never heard before: "You are under arrest. Submit to your arrest." The 300 protesters were then arrested, one by one. They were ziptied and sat in rows while they waited to be processed. OPD set up an entire processing station behind police lines, where they searched and identified every protester. They were slowly loaded onto buses, including local public AC transit buses. This took about 4 or 5 hours.
A note about police militarization: I saw some big guns and scary gear tonight. Alameda County Sheriff seems to have an endless budget for that shit. But tonight I saw something much scarier, that I've never seen before. First, I saw that the police have a printed profile books of protesters. I saw a cop flipping through pictures with descriptions, talking about who on their list they've seen today. When resting in Oscar Grant Plaza, a cop was filming the plaza from a rooftop in an adjacent building. They're always filming, some have cameras on their bodies now, but this was clear spying and sophisticated intelligence gathering and analysis. Second, a very large tank on wheels, with a water cannon on top, rolled on scene. Someone said it was called a "grizzly", but I can't find a photo anywhere. help? It was massive, and I stood right next to it before they brought it behind police lines. It was a hardcore, modern urban tank. The police are funded and prepared to use a water cannon on protesters, if need be. Know that.