Tuesday, September 20, 2011

DADT Finally DOA + OccupyWall Street Protests

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the failed "compromise" policy restricting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service people to serve openly, which President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1993 after the Republican-controlled Congress passed it, is now officially no longer on the books.  As of today, LGBTQ people, who have been members of the US military since its establishment, can now serve without fear of prosecution simply because of their sexual or gender orientation, whether they announce it publicly or not. The policy also should end the costly witchhunts to root out queer servicepeople, and automatically halts all investigations currently underway.

( Matthew Cavanaugh / European Pressphoto Agency )
Retired Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, who lost a leg in Iraq, testified to Congress in 2008 that he told his fellow troops he was gay and that it didn't erode "unit cohesion" -- an argument used by opponents of gays serving openly in the military

The change occurred not because of the military's or politicians' benevolence, but because of intensive and sustained efforts, including militancy, to shift public attitudes on LGBTQ people, and to repeal an overtly discriminatory policy that never should have been enacted in the first place. A strong congratulations goes to all the LGBTQ and straight people, especially those in the service and veterans, who fought to end the policy, and a hearty thanks to all who have supported repealing the policy, especially the members of Congress who voted to end it; President Barack Obama, who, after some dillydallying, finally signed it into law; and the military leaders and officers who have taken steps to implement it.  All branches of the military are now taking applications for anyone who qualifies, and this includes LGBTQ people.

Now, if only we could end all the wars the US currently is engaged in and bring the majority of our troops, whatever their sexual orientation, home!


As I type this entry, thousands of people of all ages are participating in a public protest, Occupy Wall Street, down at Liberty Plaza in Lower Manhattan, against the past, current and likely future economic crises caused by Wall Street other other American and global financial firms. From 2007-2009, the United States and numerous other countries suffered the worst economic catastrophe since the Global Economic Crisis, also known as the Great Depression, which stretched from 1929 through the 1940s. The most recent crisis resulted from a number of factors, among the bursting housing bubble, the effects of deregulatory policies that loosened longstanding financial controls, overleveraging among consumers and banks, poor to non-existent government oversight, and a sense that our public tax dollars and private savings existed to be played as in a casino. We know the aftermath; we also know that Wall Street and foreign banks have received billions of dollars of taxpayer support, and continue to. In addition to the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), banks have benefitted from trillions of dollars in Federal Reserve-backed swaps, loans, and monetary policies. They contine to benefit, and yet despite destroying the lives of millions of Americans and people across the globe, there have been almost no prosecutions, let alone serious, sustained investigations, of the people involved.  Wall Street bankers continue to influence and shape policies in Washington, DC and in other government capitals, while also strongly shaping non-governmental, global banking policies.

This then is part of the background to the protests, which Adbusters and the online group Anonymous organized. Related are the ongoing trials of organized labor; public labor unions have suffered repeated legislative assaults to match the longstanding rhetorical ones in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Florida, Michigan, Maine, and Ohio, and private ones are battling corporations like Verizon, Boeing, and Albertsons, to name just three. (The strikers and Albertsons have settled their issues for now, while the communication workers unions ended the Verizon strike without an agreement, and the legal issues involving Boeing's attempted job shift to South Carolina also continue.) The protests began on Saturday, and will continue for the foreseeable future.  The Occupy Wall Street site features live forums, chat rooms, phone conferencing bridges, photos, live streaming, and user maps for participants.  A number of protesters have been arrested (I can't verify the numbers so I don't want to post incorrect ones), some based on an obscure law preventing masks during protests. Others have been brutally roughed up (as the photos below show), including one who allegedly had police pile onto him as he was having an asthma attack. I've also posted below a video of the Verizon workers who on strike to keep their tenuous hold on the middle class.

A photo photos from @Hatofhornigold (with permission; thank you! If you Twitter, do follow this real-life mariner!)
http://twitgoo.com/4jawpe @OccupyWallStreet
http://twitgoo.com/4jm83t. @occupywallstreetnyc
http://twitgoo.com/4jaype @OccupyWallStreet
http://twitgoo.com/4jmgwp Crowd raises hands to show they approve civil rights lawyer Sam Cohen's offer to represent us #OccupyWallStreet

#OccupyWallStreet - Bowling Green 9/17/11

Brutal police arrests this morning 20th sep 2011 (2) OCCUPY WALL STREET

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