A recent column by Kirk Ross in the Chapel Hill News makes very clear how increasingly relevant the N.C. General Assembly’s shenanigans are to us here at the local level. In the past, many have debated the utility of municipal and county governments weighing in with symbolic resoluitions about state and national issues. Well pardon my French, but sh*t just gotreal in Raleigh this summer.
Kirk calls on candidates to make clear what they would do to deal with many draconian budget cuts that will be painfully trickling down to us in months and years to come. This also points to why we need local officials to stand up and lead by fighting back against Art Pope, ALEC, and the other forces that want to drag down our entire state. I may be biased, but my friends the five Orange County elected officals that got arrested at Moral Monday are a great example of this. If you didn’t see it, please watch this video (embedded below) of Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton clearly explaining his constutional rights while being arested by the Capitol Police.
Izzy and me at the N.C. legislature at Moral Monday. http://flic.kr/u/e1dhiFX/aHsjFXpFcz
Tagged with: moralmonday
Posted in politics
I don’t think I could sit through the canned B.S. that are American political debates without the deep insight and cutting snark of my friends on Twitter.
So I Storified my favorite bits: http://storify.com/rubyji/debate-fun
The Chancellor’s position has become untenable now because of athletic boosters and anti-intellectuals like Art Pope pounding the drums of “scandal.” These people are not concerned with the quality of education available to North Carolinians. Of course the Kupec/Hansbrough thing was a big mistake, but it doesn’t make Thorp unfit to do all the many things required of a good university chancellor. Let’s don’t blame Thorp for having to clean up the mess left by decades of athletic corruption and mismanagement.
A few weeks ago as many of us were patriotically wishing a happy birthday to the United States of America, a coalition of organizations including the ACLU and EFF launched a Declaration of Internet Freedom. I love how simple they kept it, while also encouraging engagement with the statement in a variety of online communities. The declaration is below, in text as well as the obligatory infographic format.
Local politics can be difficult to follow, given the minimal media coverage and (fortunate) lack of political party involvement. Friends often ask me for my advice about how to vote in sleepy local elections such as this year’s Orange County Commissioners race. I can’t in good conscience endorse any of the incumbents. The current board seems to have invented a new form of government in which the staff sets policies, and then elected officials occasionally have misinformed or irrelevant discussions about them after the manager has already implemented his decision.
I strongly endorse Mark Dorosin and Penny Rich in District 1. Both will bring good ideas and real leadership to the Board of Orange County Commissioners. In District 2, I support Renee Price who will be
a better advocate for progressive policies than the incumbent. If you live in Hillsborough or rural Orange County, you will also be selecting 3 school board members. I recommend giving a vote to Lawrence Sanders who will bring thoughtful enthusiasm to the job. And there can be no doubt that Valerie Foushee is the best choice for NC House in every way. I’m happy to say that The Independent Weekly agrees, and endorsed all of these candidates as well.
A blog post I wrote for work at http://hastac.org/blogs/ruby-sinreich/2012/01/17/stop-censorship-stop-pipasopa HASTAC is joining with others around the U.S. and globally on the Internet to protest the outrageous SOPA/PIPA bill that – yes – is still making its way through Congress right now. Major organizations such Wikipedia,Mozilla, and many…
I just sent the following letter to the Mayor and Town Council of Chapel Hill and cross-posted at orangepolitics.org/2011/11/guns-over-franklin
I was extremely disappointed to see the Town handle the anarchist break-in at the Yates Building so poorly after working so well with the activists at Occupy Chapel Hill/Carrboro for the past month. What happened last weekend played into every simplistic anarcho-fantasy about jack-booted thugs violently protecting the wealthy. That’s not the Chapel Hill we know, but there is a vocal group of residents that now may never believe otherwise.
I’m undecided about Jim Neal’s specific proposal for an independent commission to study the events of last weekend. Do we really have to empanel a committee to tell us what almost everyone knows (at least in retrospect), which is that the police action was unnecessarily forceful and overly broad? However, I very much want and need some clearer answers from the Town of Chapel Hill.
I understand that the police’s action was taken out of fear of violence, which was rationally based on the (limited) information they had at the time. But it was hardly the only tactic available to the Town. The range of options available could have included sending a plainclothes officer or civilian staffer to communicate with the group, possibly to negotiate or just to give them a deadline to leave. It’s not as if Riddle was being deprived of his non-use of the property, so there should have been time to consult the Mayor and maybe even other community leaders who would have provided valuable insight into the real risks involved (or not involved) before endangering the public by brandishing assault rifles on West Franklin Street and detaining people guilty of nothing but standing on a public sidewalk.
The people of Chapel Hill are owed an explanation and an obligation to try to avoid any further such actions. Below are my suggestions for how the Town can work to make amends and rebuild trust…
If you only get your news from mainstream broadcast and print media, you may not be aware that thousands of people have been participating in an occupation of Wall Street (yes, that Wall Street in Manhattan) for over a week. About 300 are there right now (Sunday morning). Many people have been arrested for things like “disorderly conduct” ie: annoying the police without breaking any real laws.
Here’s a live streaming video from the street, after the jump I’ll post some more links.
Just heard on the live stream from a protester named Lizzie, who just finished telling the story of her arrest: “You don’t need to be here (on Wall Street), light that fire in your own community.” A lot of my friends have been pointing out the difference between how this is (or isn’t) being covered compared to your average Tea Party protest. Can you imagine if a bunch of Republicans took an action this dramatic, or were treated this inhumanely? Not just FOX but CNN and even MBNBC would be en fuego.
I just read a great piece by author/activist Cory Doctorow on what he calls “Techno-Optimism” in Locus Magazine. He addresses a question that is often confronted by those of us who aspire to somehow use technology as a tool for social change: does the tool matter, or just the results? For example, if it’s easier to reach your target audience of young people who care about software freedom via Facebook, does the end justify the means? Or should we hold ourselves to a more idealistic standard and use an open source tool that lacks the critical mass of users?
In other words:
As a techno-optimist, I was heartened to see the role that networked technologies played in aiding activists in Iran, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and other middle-eastern autocracies to coordinate with one another. But as a techno-pessimist, I was horrified to see activists making use of unsecured unfit systems like Facebook, which make it trivial for authorities to snoop on and unpick the structure of activist organizations.
The trick for technology activists is to help activists who use technology to appreciate the hidden risks and help them find or make better tools. That is, to be pessimists and optimists: without expert collaboration, activists might put themselves at risk with poor technology choices; with collaboration, activists can use technology to outmaneuver autocrats, totalitarians, and thugs.
As I like to say: the path IS the destination. How you get there is every bit as important as where you go. I already use a lot of open source software such as Drupal (this site’s platform), Firefox and Thunderbird (which I couldn’t work without), and Ubuntu (on my personal computers at home). I’m going to redouble my efforts to support software and systems that themselves support my own (and HASTAC’s) values of freedom, democracy, and security.