‘The Wire’ Writers Call For Resistance To The Drug War

Via Tom @ Automatic Preference: If you don’t know about the Wire, I would find out if I were you, the writers here include the creators and include a former journalist, a former detective & teacher, all award winning writers who in  The Wire have crafted something that appears to be a TV drama but was something far more significant a depiction of the failing dysfunctional institutions of a city, the drugs war, the police, the schools, the working class, the media, politics and how capitalism is devaluing human beings day by day. Here they call for civil disobedience and becoming part of resistance to the failed policies rather than a collaborator-

The Wire’s War on the Drug War
By Ed Burns, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, Richard Price, David Simon

We write a television show. Measured against more thoughtful and meaningful occupations, this is not the best seat from which to argue public policy or social justice. Still, those viewers who followed The Wire — our HBO drama that tried to portray all sides of inner-city collapse, including the drug war, with as much detail and as little judgment as we could muster — tell us they’ve invested in the fates of our characters. They worry or grieve for Bubbles, Bodie or Wallace, certain that these characters are fictional yet knowing they are rooted in the reality of the other America, the one rarely acknowledged by anything so overt as a TV drama.

These viewers, admittedly a small shard of the TV universe, deluge us with one question: What can we do? If there are two Americas — separate and unequal — and if the drug war has helped produce a psychic chasm between them, how can well-meaning, well-intentioned people begin to bridge those worlds?

And for five seasons, we answered lamely, offering arguments about economic priorities or drug policy, debating theoreticals within our tangled little drama. We were storytellers, not advocates; we ducked the question as best we could.

Yet this war grinds on, flooding our prisons, devouring resources, turning city neighborhoods into free-fire zones. To what end? State and federal prisons are packed with victims of the drug conflict. A new report by the Pew Center shows that 1 of every 100 adults in the U.S. — and 1 in 15 black men over 18 — is currently incarcerated. That’s the world’s highest rate of imprisonment.

The drug war has ravaged law enforcement too. In cities where police agencies commit the most resources to arresting their way out of their drug problems, the arrest rates for violent crime — murder, rape, aggravated assault — have declined. In Baltimore, where we set The Wire, drug arrests have skyrocketed over the past three decades, yet in that same span, arrest rates for murder have gone from 80% and 90% to half that. Lost in an unwinnable drug war, a new generation of law officers is no longer capable of investigating crime properly, having learned only to make court pay by grabbing cheap, meaningless drug arrests off the nearest corner.

What the drugs themselves have not destroyed, the warfare against them has. And what once began, perhaps, as a battle against dangerous substances long ago transformed itself into a venal war on our underclass. Since declaring war on drugs nearly 40 years ago, we’ve been demonizing our most desperate citizens, isolating and incarcerating them and otherwise denying them a role in the American collective. All to no purpose. The prison population doubles and doubles again; the drugs remain.

Our leaders? There aren’t any politicians — Democrat or Republican — willing to speak truth on this. Instead, politicians compete to prove themselves more draconian than thou, to embrace America’s most profound and enduring policy failure.

“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right,” wrote Thomas Paine when he called for civil disobedience against monarchy — the flawed national policy of his day. In a similar spirit, we offer a small idea that is, perhaps, no small idea. It will not solve the drug problem, nor will it heal all civic wounds. It does not yet address questions of how the resources spent warring with our poor over drug use might be better spent on treatment or education or job training, or anything else that might begin to restore those places in America where the only economic engine remaining is the illegal drug economy. It doesn’t resolve the myriad complexities that a retreat from war to sanity will require. All it does is open a range of intricate, paradoxical issues. But this is what we can do — and what we will do.

If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will — to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun’s manifesto against the death penalty — no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.

Jury nullification is American dissent, as old and as heralded as the 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger, who was acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor of New York, and absent a government capable of repairing injustices, it is legitimate protest. If some few episodes of a television entertainment have caused others to reflect on the war zones we have created in our cities and the human beings stranded there, we ask that those people might also consider their conscience. And when the lawyers or the judge or your fellow jurors seek explanation, think for a moment on Bubbles or Bodie or Wallace. And remember that the lives being held in the balance aren’t fictional.

Mehdi Kazemi Safe For Now

The campaign worked-

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced the review of his case on Thursday.
“Following representations made on behalf of Mehdi Kazemi, and in the light of new circumstances since the original decision was made, I have decided that Mr. Kazemi’s case should be reconsidered on his return to the U.K. from the Netherlands.”

But it is not a granting of asylum just acknowledgement that the public furore over it means they don’t want a PR disaster, they may well hope when no one is looking to quickly deny him permanent asylum and fly him to Iran. Safe for now, but their general position remains the same and this is one case against an institution wide corruption & barbarity.

200 Strong!

Just got a message from GodlessLiberalHomo that the anti-war Iraq blogswarm is now 200 strong! Next week, next Wednesday from the mouths of shills, fools and war criminals shall come lies and excuses, already the mainstream media is pregnant with their whining putrescence. The punditocracy who have been 100% wrong still haunt the airwaves, the nexus of money, power, imperialism and elitism keeping them all merrily employed and malignant as ever. Shameful, corrupted, arrogant and confident the unearned deference shown to them will continue until they slither into their stinking grave.

They lied us into a long plotted war of choice that has killed over a million people and made 5 million people into refugees.

The poison of state approved torture has metastasised, so that raping, burning, beating, electrocuting and drowning a person is called ‘coercion’ or ‘interrogation’. Habeas corpus has been rescinded and illegal mass surveillance is routine, the idea of a politician saying “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself” seems alien to these demagogic liars, they prefer colour coded threat warnings. So even a child can be told to be afraid. And they Will. Not. Stop.

So fuck that. Letting the worst amongst us run things seems a bit stupid. Bring the noise. Join the 200, join the resistance.

Join the March 19 Blogswarm Against the Iraq War

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Fuck Your Militarist Propaganda

Only a short time ago the government was making noises of a review of whether to encourage the military to wear uniforms while out in public, well it seems that review is ongoing but the government has already concluded to encourage uniforms. And just in time for stories of personnel getting some aggro for wearing uniforms off base of RAF Wittering. What is the source of these reports? The MOD, are they spinning some weekend drunken shouting into patrio-porn enabling militarism? Vietnam vets being spat on redux? No police record of abuse just reports via the government and the CO (officers!) that claim verbal abuse. ‘Churnalism‘ in service of the establishment. Up pops Gordon and before you know it we have the ‘Queen & country’ spiel, combined with the recent well staged Prince Harry media campaign. This is clearly a coordinated push to use the respect and sympathy we have for troops who have been used to support America’s imperialism (and keep memories alive of ours) to quash dissent towards these wars (and mention of the lies perpetrated) as the 5th anniversary approaches. But the worship of empty uniforms does not extend to Ben Griffin, he is still gagged, one report today said the gag had been extended but the link to that story comes up error ridden.

Gag bid against ex-SAS man
TeleText – Scotland,UK
At an earlier hearing an interim order granted to the MoD in relation to Ben Griffin was continued by consent pending further argument in the case. …

Link (not working as far as I can see, the above text is from the email alert I got)
So the fascistic fetishising of the military is about forcing us to identify with the agenda of the ruling class by means of our feelings for those in the military. When a soldier speaks truths that conflict with establishment narratives he has the entire legal might of the government’s apparatus gag him under threat of prison. Where is their respect for the service of that soldier? This country was manipulated to show solidarity with a Royal Prince who revelled in his role in killing people while an exceptional soldier (both in his professional abilities and in his character and personal morality) from a more humble background is attacked and silenced, hidden from view lest people start to…God, Queen & Country forbid…identify with something other than the elite’s simulacrum.

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Tasers: Children Stunned By Encroaching Police State

Via RawStory

Police have been given the go-ahead to use Taser stun guns against children. The relaxing of restrictions on the use of the weapons comes despite warnings that they could trigger a heart attack in youngsters…they can now be used against all potentially violent offenders even if they are unarmed.

It is the decision not to ban their use against minors that is likely to raise serious concerns. Home Office Police Minister Tony McNulty said medical assessments had confirmed the risk of death or serious injury from Tasers was “low”.

But he failed to mention Government advisers had also warned of a potential risk to children. The Defence Scientific Advisory Council medical committee told the Home Office that not enough was known about the health risks of using the weapons against children. The committee, which is made up of independent scientists and doctors, said that limited research suggested there was a risk children could suffer “a serious cardiac event”.

It recommended that officers should be “particularly vigilant” for any Taser-induced adverse response and said guidance should be amended to “identify children and adults of small stature” as being at potentially greater risk from the cardiac effects of Tasers. The Government scientists were also asked to test whether the weapons could cause a miscarriage if used on a pregnant woman.

While not saying whether police would be allowed to Taser an expectant mother, the Home Office said the DSAC committee had “specifically asked” for computer simulations to be carried out to analyse the effect on “a pregnant female”.

Now call me a troublemaker, but tell the anti-abortion mob about the expectant mother issue, hell any ally in pushing back this assault by authoritarians. Oh and to call the Defence Scientific Advisory Council ‘independent’ is some new hitherto unknown definition of ‘independent’ that someone should call the OED about (cross reference with the IPCC).

Minijust Buggery

Apparently the media prefer Gitmo show trials and Archbishop bashing to y’know Big Brother ‘n’ shit, well the real Big Brother not the sadistic ‘reality’ teevee gameshow. Did you know Scottish lawyers treat this as routine?

LEADING Scottish criminal lawyers believe their conversations are routinely bugged by the security services and some have resorted to interviewing clients in streets and parks to avoid eavesdroppers, it emerged last night. Lawyers admit they have no hard evidence for their claims but simply assume MI5 is listening in to their conversations with terror suspects and other major criminals. Such is their level of cynicism about state surveillance, lawyers have told Scotland on Sunday there is no point complaining because the security services will simply find another way to spy on them.

This article from the Times suggests a conflict, the courts consider legally privileged discussion off limits, the government and the police think otherwise-

This weekend there were further claims that hundreds of lawyers had been bugged during visits to see their clients in British prisons. If it could be proved legally privileged conversations had been taped, then defence lawyers might move for cases to be retried.

While the extent of the surveillance might be surprising, it was not illegal. Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, senior police officers can authorise such bugging without a warrant from a government minister.

It also says this-

THE public are led to believe that surveillance and bugging are strictly controlled in Britain. Warrants must be obtained, permission given by ministers and safeguards met. A number of important-sounding watchdogs, such as the surveillance commissioner, report annually that the rules are being properly met and all is well.

The truth is that the law and standards for different types of surveillance vary enormously.

To bug your home telephone or e-mail in the UK, spies need a warrant authorised by a secretary of state, usually at the Home Office. About 1,800 such warrants are issued each year.

Many other methods of spying are permitted with far lower safeguards. Your car can be bugged on the authorisation of a senior officer in the security services or the police. Covert surveillance in a public place can be conducted just on the say-so of a senior officer. Informants can also be recruited on the authorisation of a senior officer.

There is more, it finishes with a roundup of UK surveillance where it says “the many forms of surveillance that make Britain ‘similar to Russia” (trust a Murdoch rag to get in a dig at the Soviets, decades out of date though it is!). I think maybe we are more like…well it looks like we might be world leaders in this. No one is like this, the technology makes this evolving authoritarian culture unique. Is this the British net curtain twitching tendency writ large into a totalitarian surveillance state? And there’s no denying Nulabour’s clear enthusiasm for this Panopticonism. Paddles, lack thereof, canoe, shit creek. Hello! George Orwell, he was British, we should be up on this shit. And what the fuck else is going on we don’t know about? They can shove their ID card up their fucking arse, this has to be stopped. Bring it Paddy my boy-

19th March, 5th Anniversary Of The Iraq Invasion- Blogswarm

This March 19th will be 5 years of the Iraq war. Consequently the prescient GodlessLiberalHomo has come up with a blogswarm and inveigled me into helping getting it going. Neither he nor I own this, we’re just getting it going, this is everyone’s who wants to participate. So you may have questions, what is a blogswarm?

This blogswarm will promote blog postings opposing the war in Iraq and calling for a full withdrawal of foreign occupying forces in Iraq. Five years of an illegal and catastrophic war is five years too many. On the March 19 anniversary of the conquest of Iraq by the Bush Administration, there needs to be a loud volume of voices countering the pro-war propaganda from far too many politicians and corporate media outlets.

Q. How do I become involved?

Go to the swarm homeblog march19-blogswarm.blogspot.com and- Post a comment with your blog’s title and URL. If you join up by the fifth anniversary of mass actions against the war, February 15, 2008, you will be included in the listing of “Charter Blogs” displayed on the home blogs menu.

Q. Hey, how about some badges? I’m glad you asked-

blogswarm.jpg

blgswrm2.jpg

blgswrm3.jpg

You can just save them to your computer and post onto your blog linking to

http://march19-blogswarm.blogspot.com/

…if you wish. Making up your own badges/promotions is heartily encouraged, which leads to…

Q. How do I help promote the blogswarm to make it an enormous chorus of disapproval for the Iraq war ? Well for now the basic approach is the well worn spreading the word by commenting on blogs you frequent/know of, leaving information about the blogswarm and including a link to the homeblog http://march19-blogswarm.blogspot.com/ and emailing your friends/contacts.

Q. What is the point? Wars are bad, we should be doing less of them. It isn’t rocket science. The blogswarm is not a replacement for other actions it is as well as anything else you might be doing. Around the 5th anniversary you can be sure the same people who lied us into this war will be unapologetically continuing their propaganda and unless we counter that there will be more conflict and more death. Specifically for Iraq it could mean a long term occupation that would most likely not end until the last drop of oil is sucked out of the ground, that would mean an unending insurgency and counter insurgency which is the dirtiest most brutal kind of warfare there is. Quite apart from the fact that the invasion was an illegal war of aggression and it continues killing people on all sides and causing generational damage in all those involved, from homeless veterans to traumatised children.

Q. And on the day? Write something or several somethings relevant to the the Iraq war, raise a chorus of voices. Let’s not be having to do this for the 10th anniversary. In fact this is an election year in the US, let’s not let year 6 go by without withdrawals.

Q. This question and answer format is a bit overused, unoriginal and tedious isn’t it? Quite possibly, just so long as you participate in countering the pro-war narrative, you really need to do nothing more than post about the Iraq war on/around the 19th March and notify http://march19-blogswarm.blogspot.com/ of it, so more people see your work and thoughts, ideas and passions are exchanged and shared. There are forces in the world who want war, people who rarely pay the price but often reap a profit, we can do better than let them run the Earth.

“Freedom of the press only applies to people who own printing presses. And now everyone with net access owns a printing press.”

Blogswarm!

Spread the Word.