I don't think Senator John Kerry's expert diplomacy skills were ever in question, but if anyone did have any doubts, they were certainly laid to rest after his response to a protester during his confirmation hearing earlier Thursday.
As the former Democratic presidential candidate was finishing his prepared statements, a young woman began to scream. “You’re killing thousands of people in the Middle East who are not a threat to us! When is it going to be enough? I’m tired of my friends in the Middle East dying!” She was immediately escorted out of the room by security.
Kerry responded by recalling how he came to D.C. as a Vietnam War veteran and anti-war activist to testify before Congress in 1971.
“Well, you know, I’ll tell you, Mr. Chairman,” he said. “When I first came to Washington and testified, I obviously was testifying as part of the group of people who came here to have their voices heard. And that is above all what this place is about.”
Kerry continued: “So I respect, I think, the woman who was voicing her concerns about that part of the world, and maybe one of you have traveled there. Some of you were there recently. Senator McCain, you were just there, you were in a refugee camp, and I know you heard this kind of thing. People measure what we do. And in a way that’s a good exclamation point to my testimony.”
Kerry, President Obama’s nominee for secretary of state spoke in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he has chaired for the past four years, to praise by both Republicans and Democrats. He urged Congress to focus on the country’s fiscal state. “Foreign policy is economic policy,” he said. Kerry is expected to be voted in by the committee as soon as Monday or Tuesday. “I look at you, in being nominated for this, as someone who has almost led their entire life, if you will, for this moment, being able to serve in this capacity,” said the panel's top Republican, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee.
As Mitt Romney spoke at a campaign rally in Virginia on Thursday, a protester began shouting, “What about climate? That's what caused this monster storm!” The protester, holding a sign that said “END CLIMATE SILENCE,” was escorted out, as the crowd booed and broke out into chants of 'USA, USA.' Romney looked on with an odd, half-smirk on his face.
Undeterred by the interruption, Mitt Romney urged the crowd in Doswell, Virginia to back his bid for the White House, saying he was the candidate offering to take the country in a new direction.
"I don't believe status quo is the right course for America, I believe that America finally needs real change. It was promised and we are going to give it to the American people," he said.
"We are going to give it to the American people," yeah, that's what we're afraid of, Mitt.
Livestream of Occupy Wall Street's protestors sleeping on the sidewalks around the nearby New York Stock Exchange on Thursday night. They say they are back in full force to draw attention to income equality.
"Tonight we are engaging in the fourth night of sleep on Wall Street," a protester said Thursday. "The wording is that we are allowed to sleep on the sidewalk as long as it is a political protest and I think everyone on the planet knows Occupy Wall Street is a political protest."
Although police are able to remove protesters from public parks, lawyers say there is a legal precedent that allows Occupy Wall Street members to sleep on the sidewalk without fear of arrest.
Somehow... *cough*... the barricades around the Wall Street bull came down last night during the Million Hoodie March in New York City. The bull was quickly Occupied. It was a fleeting moment, however, as the NYPD wasn't far behind. The occupier was arrested, however the crowd of protesters was so large that getting the cuffs on him certainly wasn't easy.
I was shocked at first to hear CNN's Erick Erickson say on the air "Watching a hippie protester get tased just makes my day." He was speaking of a member of Occupy DC who was tased recently by Park police. After I recalled exactly who Erickson is, and how he referred to former Supreme Court Justice David Souter as a "goat f-cking child molester," not so shocked anymore.
Eternally disappointed in CNN, yes, but not shocked.
These are the videos that show the Occupy DC protester, Lash, being tased by the Park police. The video on the bottom of the post is the one that shows Lash suffering what appears to be a seizure as he lays face down on the pavement.
I don't think I care to know anything else about Erickson, ever.
Although protesters across the globe stand up and speak out often for very different reasons, today are united in recognition as Time Magazine's "Person of the Year."
Ladies and gentlemen, young and old, take a bow:
"My son set himself on fire for dignity," Mannoubia Bouazizi told me when I visited her.
"In Tunisia," added her 16-year-old daughter Basma, "dignity is more important than bread."
In Egypt the incitements were a preposterously fraudulent 2010 national election and, as in Tunisia, a not uncommon act of unforgivable brutality by security agents. In the U.S., three acute and overlapping money crises — tanked economy, systemic financial recklessness, gigantic public debt — along with ongoing revelations of double dealing by banks, new state laws making certain public-employee-union demands illegal and the refusal of Congress to consider even slightly higher taxes on the very highest incomes mobilized Occupy Wall Street and its millions of supporters. In Russia it was the realization that another six (or 12) years of Vladimir Putin might not lead to greater prosperity and democratic normality.
In Sidi Bouzid and Tunis, in Alexandria and Cairo; in Arab cities and towns across the 6,000 miles from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean; in Madrid and Athens and London and Tel Aviv; in Mexico and India and Chile, where citizens mobilized against crime and corruption; in New York and Moscow and dozens of other U.S. and Russian cities, the loathing and anger at governments and their cronies became uncontainable and fed on itself.
The stakes are very different in different places. In North America and most of Europe, there are no dictators, and dissidents don't get tortured. Any day that Tunisians, Egyptians or Syrians occupy streets and squares, they know that some of them might be beaten or shot, not just pepper-sprayed or flex-cuffed. The protesters in the Middle East and North Africa are literally dying to get political systems that roughly resemble the ones that seem intolerably undemocratic to protesters in Madrid, Athens, London and New York City. "I think other parts of the world," says Frank Castro, 53, a Teamster who drives a cement mixer for a living and helped occupy Oakland, Calif., "have more balls than we do."
There's now verification on Occupy Portland protester Justin James Bridges, who was hospitalized after the police raided the encampment there. A reporter with the Portland Mercuryinterviewed Bridges by telephone today:
"Bridges, 28, runs an internet radio station an has been living at the Occupy camp for nearly five weeks, volunteering as a sign language interpreter during the protest's general assemblies. He was interpreting for the deaf during yesterday's assembly in Chapman Park during the eviction when the police began pushing hold-outs out of the park. "The cops came in and started pushing people and destroying things," says Bridges. "I turned around and told everyone that was standing by watching to get their video tapes out because they were violating our rights and we have to protect our rights. When I turned back around, I got caught in the crowd and my back got pushed up against a concrete trash can and I fell on to the ground." Another photo of the interaction is here."
"The police grabbed me by my legs and pulled me through the mud," says Bridges. "They started saying I was resisting arrest and started beating me. They tried to pick me up and I couldn't feel my legs, they were screaming at me because I couldn't walk." When officers grabbed ahold of his bandana, Bridges continues, he began to choke and told officers he couldn't breathe. "One of the cops laughed and said, 'You can still breathe because you can talk.'" Bridges says he passed out and was not arrested, but instead taken to the hospital. "I was beat, they took away my first amendment right to peacefully assemble. They didn't even charge me or arrest me. "
"While his arm is hurt, Bridges hopes to be released from the hospital today because he's a medical marijuana patient, but is not allowed to have marijuana in Legacy Emanuel."
The extent of Bridges injuries isn't mentioned in the interview.
End of update.
This information started coming in through Twitter in the early hours this morning, it is not verified, but coming from multiple Twitter sources:
ALERT! A man named Justin James Bridges, musician & ASL translator for Occupy Portland General Assembly, was assaulted by @PortlandPolice today during camp clean out.
He was beaten repeatedly in the back and has now lost use of his right arm. Though Justin was lying on the ground in compliance, Portland Police continuously beat him in the back with clubs until his eyes rolled back in his head. Fellow protesters thought he was dead. He is now in critical care.
IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION, ESPECIALLY PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE, DO NOT HESITATE TO COME FORWARD.
National Lawyers' Guild # 503-902-5340. Protect rights, protect the truth.
Various reports on Youtube along with the above video, again, this is unconfirmed:
"THIS IS THE TRUE STORY OF HOW OCCUPY PORTLAND WAS CLEARED FROM THEIR ENCAMPMENT! YOU WON'T BE SEEING THIS ON THE MSM!"
"Possible ID of Justin James Bridges 36 seconds into this brutal video of @PortlandPolice assaulting unarmed citizens.
One Associated Press report mentions that "One man was taken away on a stretcher; he was alert and talking to paramedics, and raised a peace sign to fellow protesters, who responded with cheers." Although with no other information given, I am unable to confirm at this time if this is Justin James Bridges, or anyone else who was injured by police batons.