Archive for the ‘California: Failed State’ Category

By Dan Whitcomb and Mary Slosson  1-5-12

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A German citizen was charged on Wednesday with setting dozens of fires across Los Angeles over the New Year’s weekend in a spree an arson investigator said was motivated by a “rage against Americans.”

Harry Burkhart, 24, who is also wanted in Germany on suspicion of burning down his home, was charged with 37 counts of arson stemming from the three-day wave of fires that caused an estimated $3 million in damage and left residents of Los Angeles and surrounding communities shaken.

Burkhart, who was guarded closely by three sheriffs deputies and at times appeared disoriented during a brief hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court, was ordered held on $2.85 million bail.

Prosecutors asked the judge to order Burkhart, who was born in Chechnya, held without bail, citing his German citizenship and saying he posed a danger to the community.

Police arson investigator Edward Nordskog said most of the more than 50 fires were set late at night, while the occupants of apartment buildings were sleeping.

“It is my opinion that the defendant’s criminal spree was motivated by his rage against Americans and that by setting these fires (the) defendant intended to harm and terrorize as many residents of the city and county of Los Angeles as possible,” Nordskog wrote in court papers.

Nordskog did not say what he believed touched off the anti-American rage in Burkhart, whose mother is facing possible extradition to Germany on fraud charges.

A law enforcement official said Burkhart has been held on suicide watch at the Los Angeles County jail since his arrest on Monday.

State prosecutors in Germany said Burkhart was suspected of starting a fire that burned down his family’s home in Neukirchen.

“He is accused of serious arson and suspected fraud. In the early hours of October 14, a timbered house went on fire in the Schwalm-Eder district and this person came under suspicion,” said German state prosecutor Annemarie Wied.


Burkhart’s 53-year-old mother, Dorothee Burkhart, was arrested last week in Los Angeles on a provisional warrant issued by German authorities and was facing extradition.

The elder Burkhart, who has been living in a Los Angeles apartment with her son, faces multiple charges of fraud and embezzlement in Germany, according to court documents.

She is accused of failing to pay a bill for breast augmentation, failing to return security deposits on rental properties she leased, and accepting money for apartment units she did not own, the court documents showed.

Dorothee Burkhart, also a German citizen, seemed unaware during a court appearance on Tuesday that her son had been arrested and asked a judge if the “German Nazis” were responsible for him disappearing.

There was conflicting information on how long Dorothee and Harry Burkhart have lived in the Los Angeles area.

A website for an erotic massage service based in Los Angeles is registered to a Dorothee Burkhart who shares the same address as Harry Burkhart. The site advertises topless but non-sexual sessions by appointment only.

Harry Burkhart was arrested after a tip from a member of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security field office who recognized him on surveillance videotape from an outburst during his mother’s initial court hearing, a state department spokeswoman said.

According to the declaration filed by Nordskog, Harry Burkhart was ejected from the courtroom during December 29 extradition proceedings for his mother after angrily shouting a profanity against Americans.

A man resembling Burkhart was captured on security cameras leaving the scene of several of the fires, which caused no fatalities. One firefighter was injured and another person suffered from smoke inhalation.

One of the fires damaged a house in the Hollywood Hills where late rocker Jim Morrison was inspired to write the 1968 song “Love Street” about his girlfriend.

(Additional reporting by Hillel Aron in Los Angeles and Sarah Marsh in Berlin; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)




 OWS Occupies Ports

By Menachem Kaiser 12-12-11



As planned, Occupy Wall Street protesters attempted to occupy West Coast ports on Monday.

They did pretty well, too, affecting operations at three major ports. In Oakland, 150 workers were sent home, which effectively shut down operations at two terminals. Two terminals in Portland were shut after authorities arrested two people carrying weapons (an OWS spokesman said they were not part of the demonstration). And in Longview, Washington, workers were sent home out of concerns for their “health and safety.” Some union workers, who enjoy being paid, protested the Occupation. The leadership of the International and Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) opposed the planned shutdown.

Even Canadians got into the act: Demonstrators in Vancouver briefly blocked two gates at the port. (But, being Canadian, they were exceedingly polite, even in political demonstration: The protests lasted less than one and a half hours.)

On Monday evening, the OWS movement released an open letter, co-signed by five port truck drivers, supporting and explaining Occupy the Ports. The letter outlines just how awful and dangerous their job is. Especially bad is the peeing situation.

There are no restrooms for drivers. We keep empty bottles in our cabs. Plastic bags too. We feel like dogs. An Oakland driver was recently banned from the terminal because he was spied relieving himself behind a container. Neither the port, nor the terminal operators or anyone in the industry thinks it is their responsibility to provide humane and hygienic facilities for us. It is absolutely horrible for drivers who are women, who risk infection when they try to hold it until they can find a place to go


Occupy Shuts Down West Coast Ports

—By Gavin Aronsen

Mon Dec. 12, 2011

The first phase of Monday’s Occupy Oakland-led West Coast port shutdown was, by protesters’ accounts, a success: Port terminals were shut down in Oakland and in Longview, Washington—the site of an ongoing contract fight with a subsidiary of agribusiness giant Bunge. In Long Beach, San Diego, and Vancouver, attempts to shut down the respective ports were less successful, with protesters blocking access to the three ports for about an hour before police forced them to disperse. Police arrested five demonstrators in San Diego and at least two in Long Beach.

In Oakland, protesters exchanged heated words with angry port workers who were anxious to be paid. Among these workers were members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), whose leadership had spoken out in opposition to the shutdown.

At one blockade, a trucker sparred verbally with a protester as the two recorded video of each other. The trucker called the protesters “hooligans” who were hurting the working class. Nearby, a union electrical worker laughed and called protesters “morons.”

Mark Hebert, a Utah trucker working as an independent contractor, was heckled by protesters as he complained to the media about the shutdown. Hebert said he typically dropped cargo off at the port once a week and risked losing $200 to $400 in pay.

But several truckers honked in support of Occupy Oakland, and some ILWU workers strongly supported the port’s second shutdown. (Oakland’s general strike on November 2 resulted in a port shutdown, costing the city a reported $4 million and putting more than 10,000 port workers temporarily out of work.) One, a business agent watching the blockade from a company van who said his name was L.T., told me that protesters “need to stay your ground. I’m not crossing the picket line.” Responding to ILWU president Robert McEllrath’s letter criticizing the shutdown, he said, “We don’t give a damn.”

Oakland protesters will reconvene later for an evening march to set up a blockade ahead of a 7 p.m. port shift change, and occupiers in other cities plan evening actions to keep their terminals out of service as well.

That didn’t sit well with Hebert, who cut our conversation short to return to his truck for a breather. On his way, he kicked over a sign reading “truckers have rights to union wages”—a good reminder that Occupy’s success today may depend upon winning the public-relations battle for working-class sympathy.


Occupy protesters partially shut down West Coast ports

In Seattle, police used flashbang grenades to disperse protesters


Monday, December 12 2011, 7:45 PM


Protestors stand off with police after blocking the road leading to SSA Marine, a shipping company that is partially owned by investment bank Goldman Sachs at the Port of Long Beach on Monday in Long Beach, California.


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — More than 1,000 Occupy Wall Street protesters blocked cargo trucks at busy West Coast ports Monday, forcing some shipping terminals in Oakland, Calif., Portland, Ore., and Longview, Wash., to halt operations.

While the protests attracted far fewer people than the 10,000 who turned out Nov. 2 to shut down Oakland’s port, organizers declared victory and promised more demonstrations to come.

“The truckers are still here, but there’s nobody here to unload their stuff,” protest organizer Boots Riley said. “We shut down the Port of Oakland for the daytime shift and we’re coming back in the evening. Mission accomplished.”

Organizers hoped the “Shutdown Wall Street on the Waterfront” protests would cut into the profits of the corporations that run the docks and send a message that their Occupy movement isn’t finished.

The closures’ economic impact, however, wasn’t immediately clear.

The longshoremen’s union did not officially support the protests, but its membership cited a provision in its contract that allowed workers to ask to stay off the job if they felt the conditions were unsafe.

Some went home with several hours’ pay, while others left with nothing.

Oakland Longshoreman DeAndre Whitten was OK with it. “I hope they keep it up,” said Whitten, who lost about $500. “I have no problem with it. But my wife wasn’t happy about it.”

Others, such as the truck drivers who had to wait in long lines as protesters blocked gates, were angry, saying the demonstrators were harming the very people they were trying to help.

“This is joke. What are they protesting?” said Christian Vega, who sat in his truck carrying a load of recycled paper. He said the delay was costing him $600. “It only hurts me and the other drivers.

“We have jobs and families to support and feed,” he said. “Most of them don’t.”

From Long Beach, Calif., to as far away as Anchorage, Alaska, and Vancouver, British Columbia, protesters beat drums and carried signs as they marched outside port gates.

Rain dampened some protests. Several hundred showed up at the Port of Long Beach and left after several hours.

The movement, which sprang up this fall against what it sees as corporate greed and economic inequality, is focusing on the ports as the “economic engines for the elite.” It comes weeks after police raids cleared out most of their tent camps.



Port of Los Angeles Shutdown: The Holy Grail of West Coast OWS

 (see originally link below for pics and video describing attack strategy and Reconnaissance: )

Mon Dec 19, 2011 at 07:02 AM PST

by TroubadourFollow


The recent West Coast Port Shutdowns revealed several key points about the future of Occupy Wall Street in the West, and also gave a tantalizing glimpse of what may eventually be possible nationwide (even worldwide, if we dare to dream) given the attempted participation of Houston. What I am going to argue here is that peacefully shutting down the Port of Los Angeles is the natural strategic focus of all Occupy West of the Rockies, and further that it is one essential prong of an eventual three-pronged nationwide General Strike. I will not sugarcoat how tall an order this is – quite the contrary, I will be exhausting my talents exploring precisely that, but will nonetheless show that the objective is sine qua non.

I. Relevant Background Points re: OWS

At the heart of the movement is an epiphany – that the power corrupting our democracy and destroying our rights is concentrated ultimately on Wall Street, in the capital markets and other politically erosive, entropy-promoting stock exchanges. This is not a trivial leap of understanding: We have known for a long time that out-of-control business and concentrated wealth were poisoning our society, but concrete appreciation that All Roads Lead to Wall Street was lacking – the financial sector was seen as merely one head of the hydra, with Big Oil, retail, and other major villains getting equal time in our attention. But the 2008 financial collapse, bailouts, and subsequent criminal impunity of the banking sector was a wake-up call that these institutions were not merely one head of the hydra, but the trunk.

These markets are so highly-leveraged, specialized, and timed down to the second that even momentary interruptions can be enormously costly to ownership without likely impacting employees or consumers. As a result, the NY General Assembly attempted to directly march on Wall Street in an attempt to shut down the stock exchanges, and came very close without succeeding. Inasmuch as peacefully shutting down those exchanges is the pinnacle objective of Occupy East of the Mississippi, and indeed the keystone of the entire worldwide movement, the Port of Los Angeles has similar importance to the Western half of the continent.

In the globalized trade economy, the Port also has a vulnerability to interruptions in ways similar to the stock exchanges (albeit to a lesser extent), given how tightly-wound the system of cargo movement is. Delays in the throughput of trade goods from China can cost billions, so there is a profound opportunity to cost Big Business big money without compromising the interests of workers or consumers – not to mention scoring a colossal PR win for the 99%.

II. Overview of the Port of Los Angeles


First, I should say that when I refer to the Port of Los Angeles, I am actually referring to the entire complex seen in the satellite image above, which includes two contiguous facilities operating under separate jurisdiction: The Port of LA proper, on the left half of the image, and the Port of Long Beach on the right half. For all intents and purposes, they are the same port, so I will simply combine them as “the Port” when making general statements. The distinction is only important insofar as it hinders gathering information about the complex as a whole, as official facts about the Port of LA only concern the LA side of it.

The combined grounds of the Port cover approximately 43 km2, making it the size of a small city. As you can see from the satellite image, it is divided geographically into three main areas: The mainline channel coast on the left and top, corresponding to the San Pedro and Wilmington districts of the City of Los Angeles, as well as Southwestern Long Beach; Terminal Island, which dominates the center of the image above; and the peninsula on the right that belongs to the Port of Long Beach. Terminal Island is divided between the two jurisdictions, with the very large artificial bay in the center of the picture controlled by Long Beach.

According to the website, the Port of LA is currently the busiest in the United States by container volume, and the Wikipedia page claims that in 2010 it handled $236.4 billion in cargo – a figure we can set as $230 billion flat for subsequent calculations given the likelihood that shipping in 2011 has declined from the previous year. Meanwhile, the Long Beach side handled about $140 billion in 2010, for a combined Port throughput of roughly $370 billion per year. Although traffic does not occur at a constant rate year-round (and anyone is welcome to look deeper for a more precise finding), we can use an average figure and say that daily throughput is about $1 billion. Combined, the two sides of the Port represent the sixth-busiest port in the world.

Port facilities are divided into terminals for containerized cargo, dry bulk cargo (i.e., large quantities of a solid commoditized product like scrap metal), liquids (e.g., petroleum products), break bulk (individually-processed cargo not in a container), automobiles, and passengers (which we can ignore). Here are the terminal maps for the LA and Long Beach sides of the Port, respectively:



A closer look at Port facilities – feel free to skip it if the details don’t interest you:

Los Angeles:

1. Container:

China Shipping Container Terminal (Berths 100-102) and the Yang Ming Container Terminal (Berths 121-131) are operated by West Basin Container Terminal LLC.

TraPac Container Terminal (Berths 135-139) is operated by TraPac Inc..

Port of Los Angeles Container Terminal (Berths 206-209) is operated by the Real Estate Division of the Port of Los Angeles – a fact whose implications are unclear to me.

Yusen Container Terminal is operated by Yusen Terminals Inc..

Evergreen Container Terminal (Berths 226-236) is operated by Seaside Transportation Services LLC.

APL Terminal / Global Gateway South (Berths 302-305) is operated by Eagle Marine Services.

APM Terminals / Pier 400 (Berths 401-406) is operated by APM Terminals.

California United Terminals (Berths 405-406) is operated by the company of the same name.

2. Non-Container:

Berths 195-199 are dedicated to automotive processing, and is managed by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics.

The Port’s Breakbulk terminals are at Berths 49-53 – operated by the Real Estate Division of the Port; Berths 54-55, operated by Stevedoring Services of America; and at Berths 174-181, operated by Pasha Properties Inc..

Dry bulk cargo is handled at Berths 165-166, operated by U.S. Borax Inc.; and Berths 210-211, by SA Recycling.

Liquid bulk cargo is processed through Berths 118-120, operated by Kinder Morgan; Berths 148-151, operated by ConocoPhillips; Berth 163, operated by NuStar Energy; Berth 164, operated by Valero; Berths 167-169, operated by Shell; Berths 187-191, operated by Vopak; and Berths 238-240C, operated by Exxon-Mobil.

Long Beach:

1. Container:

Pier A (Berths A88-A96), Pier C (Berths C60-C62), and Pier J (Berths J243-J247, J266-J270) are all managed by SSA Marine.

Pier F (Berths F6-F10) is managed by Long Beach Container Terminal Inc.

Pier G (Berths G226-G236) are managed by International Transportation Service (no website given).

Part of Pier T (Berths T132-T140) is operated by Hanjin / Total Terminals International LLC.

Parts of Piers C, D, E, and S are designated for containerized cargo.

2. Non-Container:

Breakbulk terminals include Berths B82 and B83 of Pier B, operated by Toyoto Logistics Services; Berths D50-D54 of Pier D, operated by Forest Terminals / Crescent Warehouse Company; Berth T122 of Pier T, operated by Weyerhaeuser Company; Berths F206 and F207 of Pier F, operated by SSA Marine; two unstated Berth ranges of Pier T (links broken) operated by Pacific Coast Recycling and Freemont Forest Products; and one link-broken Pier F terminal operated by Cooper / T. Smith Stevedoring.

Liquid terminals include parts of Pier G operated by Chemoil, parts of Piers B, C, and T operated by BP, two parts of Pier B (Berths B82 and B83 serving Shell and Petro-Diamond.

Dry bulk terminals include Pier G Berths G212-G215 operated by Metro Ports; Pier F Berth F210 operated by Morton Salt; Berth F211 operated by Koch Carbon (yes, that Koch – and FYI, I hadn’t known the name was pronounced “coke,” I thought it was like former NY Mayor Ed Koch “cawtch”); a link-broken area of Pier F is operated by Mitsubishi Cement; Pier D Berth D32 is operated by Cemex USA (Pacific Coast Cement); Pier D Berth D46 is operated by G-P Gypsum; and unlinked portions of Pier B are designated for Dry Bulk, as you can see from the map above.

These details will be important in prioritizing areas of the Port to shut down, although the precise determination is beyond the scope of this analysis: I leave it to others in the Occupy movement to research these terminal companies and the businesses they serve, the monetary volume of cargo they each handle, and how they should be prioritized. However, it is reasonable to recommend that incoming cargo reflecting trade based on low-wage/outsourced labor would be a higher priority for interruption than exported goods. The goal is still to shut down the entire Port, but priorities are necessary in the event of only partial success.

III. Strategic Assessment

The word “strategic” is often misused as a synonym for tactical, but it is actually a very different concept having more to do with logistics than clever maneuvering. For example, a tactician would approach a chess game by narrowly focusing on the board, while a strategist would become an expert in the nature of his opponent. In other words, cultivating an awareness of the context and environment in which the game occurs – an appreciation for the unboundedness of cause and effect. Strategy identifies the objective through an understanding of process, and tactics select the method of achieving it via maneuver and control.

1. Why the Port?

Although it lacks the notoriety of Wall Street, the Port of Los Angeles is the economic nexus of the Western Pacific, and thus the natural focus of OWS in the region. Nothing else even comes close: Entertainment, finance, oil, mining, agriculture, etc. are all either trivial in comparison, or else are too widely-distributed for large-scale confrontation to be practical. The Port is both massive in absolute economic terms and profoundly dense, cramming an economy the size of Argentina into a geographic area the size of Berkeley, CA – another quality it shares with Wall St., which crams even more money into an even smaller area via abstract financial instruments.

Now, the vast majority of that economy is transitory – i.e., it occurs as value moving through the Port rather than emerging from it or being invested in it. But that is a large part of what makes it such a potent subject for OWS – from top to bottom, the revenues of every villainous corporation and subsidiary thereof West of the Rockies either directly pass through the Port or are deeply affected by resources that do. Wal-Mart needs its constant fix of slave-labor retail goods from China; for Exxon, Shell, BP, et al The Spice Must Flow; and every other business on this side of the country that fired well-paid American workers in order to relocate its factories overseas depends to some extent on the Port to be rewarded for their betrayal. Even companies that use other West Coast ports depend on this one to keep traffic manageable and fees affordable. US ports just barely keep up with trade as it is.

Furthermore, it represents a tangible infrastructure that in part or in total belongs to the people of the United States – it is our coastline, our border, and a facility that can legitimately exist only to serve our needs. It cannot be allowed to exist only for the needs of a handful of extremely wealthy people who use profits derived from the Port to fire American workers, make those who keep their jobs impoverished and unsafe, destroy the environment we all depend on, and undermine democracy at home and abroad through corporate interference in politics. Interruptions in the flow of cargo through the Port of Los Angeles, much like breaks in the flow of money on Wall Street, cascade throughout the world.

In addition to the role it plays globally and nationally, the Port is the only real source of economic gravity in the region – otherwise West Coast resources are all spread across huge swaths of territory: Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Downtown LA, Century City, California’s Central Valley farmlands, and various smaller archipelagos of entertainment, finance, tech business, energy, and agriculture throughout CA, OR, and WA. Other than small-scale protests against the scattered headquarters of individual companies and camping on foreclosed properties, there is not much for Occupy to work with around here – no Dark Fortress to besiege as in New York; no obvious unifying focus. There is only the Port, and if Occupiers on the West Coast come to appreciate its significance, it can serve as just such a unifier both within the notoriously diffusive Occupy LA, and between West Coast occupations. Achieving that would also nail down one of the three key pivots in an eventual General Strike, which I discuss more fully at the bottom of this diary.

2. Who needs to be on board?

Broad-based support for the specific action (and not just OWS) in the general public, the local community, and especially among the workers who depend on the Port is strategically critical – without it, there is no point to shutting down the Port, and it might actually be counterproductive if it causes people to begin thinking the movement has lost touch with them. This includes, but is not limited to:


Truckers who haul to and from the Port.

Other workers directly dependent on the Port.

Support staff.

Communities adjacent to the Port.

The public at large who would otherwise only learn of the shutdown through biased media.

Unanimity or even majority support is not required, as long as a strong proportion are at least convinced of the action’s sincerity, understand the reasoning behind it, and are made to feel like their concerns and views are taken more seriously by the movement than by the authorities. Truckers in particular need to be accommodated in some way, since many of them are paid upon delivery of loads and may face direct adverse consequences from a shutdown. While directly compensating all of them may prove impractical (or maybe not – it’s worth looking into), they need to be convinced that we care, that we are listening to them, that shutting down the Port is meant to help them too in the bigger picture, and that we would do what we can to help them with any immediate problems it causes them. Getting truckers on board opens up important capabilities, which I explore further in the Tactical Assessment below.

A substantial part of the average population must be convinced that shutting down the Port is justified well in advance – it is not sufficient to just do it and hope they sympathize based on their situation and the rhetoric surrounding the action. Failure to make the effort would simply alienate people and make them see the movement as something increasingly distant from the problems they face in daily life. Pamphlets, flyers, and internet organizing are not sufficient – not even close. Face-to-face conversations, town halls in as many venues as possible (you may want to offer free refreshments or something similar as enticements), and the careful cultivation of a mainstream aura around the action is essential. The action must transcend the narcissism of some of the core OWS organizing constituencies who feel like the movement is their property – in other words, get over the impulse to value radical zeitgeist over practical success.

In publicity terms, the shutdown should be promoted as a matter of The People asserting prerogative over a facility that belongs to us, not the petulant action of an angry minority seeking to punish society for failing to live up to our standards. Attempts by conservatives and their media properties to portray it in the latter sense must fall flat and contradict average people’s personal experiences in seeing how the movement engages them, portrays itself, and approaches its actions. In other words, there is to be no hostility to the Port itself as an institution, to global trade in general (albeit objections may be raised to specific policies), or to the people who operate it, but rather to corporate institutions that have come to regard it – and indeed this entire country – as their private property. In other words – and this is potentially a very potent spin – the shutdown is an attempt to “restore law and order” to the Port. If this framing can be carried off, it should be – it would turn the dominating narratives on their heads.

The shutdown cannot proceed without having so thoroughly covered the action in mainstream appeal that it barely seems out of the ordinary – the objective is to cost Big Business and get the masses on board with holding them accountable, not to incite further zeal in the faithful. Now, I realize this goes against the instincts of many in the core organizing constituencies, but it is utterly essential. Focusing inward and structuring the hype around the action in ways that only speak to the radical or issue-oriented activist rather than the apolitical citizen is far more likely to create rifts than to inspire The People.

As much as some in the movement enjoy wallowing in radical zeitgeist, they have to see beyond that to graduate into the real Big Leagues of strategic victories – shutting down the Port of Los Angeles can only practically happen, and if it does happen can only yield broad-based solidarity rather than division, if it is seen as the act of ordinary people with no more complicated agenda than standing up for their families and rights. So the necessity of it has to be argued long in advance, and achieve real social penetration long before the day.

To be perfectly clear, subsidiary agendas that seek to selfishly feed off the energy of the 99% should be discouraged from doing so overtly unless they are clear that the overall purpose supersedes their parochial issues. Protesters should wrap themselves so thoroughly in mainstream appeal that they sicken themselves: American flags should be everywhere, and not in ironic or contemptuous ways – not upside-down, or the mockeries with corporate symbols in the star fields. Real flags, wielded respectfully and preferably tastefully. It is unfortunate that some activists find the American flag offensive or disingenuous, but success demands solidarity well beyond the bounds of narrowly-focused ideological or issue niches: The symbols of patriotism are not optional for people demanding drastic change. Reclaiming the flag is a first, symbolic step to reclaiming the country, and it should be a prominent part of every major action – especially something as massive as this. I would recommend “planting the flag” as a symbolic act of reclamation at every protest assembly point.

In terms of Occupiers themselves, there is a distinct and problematic division of talents among the various local movements: Occupy LA appears to accurately represent the diffusive nature of Southland politics in microcosm, and its ability to play a central leadership role in a Port shutdown is thus doubtful – I get the impression from accounts posted here and elsewhere that there is a critical lack of social unity and common purpose in its ranks, making it less effective than NY and Oakland. However, it does have plenty of people – no one will ever accuse LA of not having enough of that – and it is within range of the Port, although not directly adjacent to it (LA only controls its half of the Port through a narrow strip of land created expressly for the purpose of contiguous jurisdiction).

Occupy Long Beach seems to be more cohesive, although I have less information about them. My guess, based on very limited information, is that they would have a stronger ability to organize the local strategic elements of the shutdown than OLA, or at least would be the more effective partner in a collaboration. This is purely an observation, however, so it is non-essential: If OLA and OLB know differently and choose an arrangement that relies more heavily on the former, then they are in a better position to know.

Moreover, Occupy Oakland, which by far has the most experience with successfully shutting down ports, is hundreds of miles away from the Port of Los Angeles, and only so much can be communicated over the internet. They have now twice proven their ability to shut down the Port of Oakland, but that is a relatively modest facility compared to the Port of LA complex, so it seems their talents and uncommon energy would be better applied to going after bigger fish. Occupy Oakland should be directly involved in this.

In light of these facts, I would recommend every Occupy on the West Coast (including the Canadian GAs) take up a proposal to convene a West Coast General Assembly at a location and date TBD, bringing together members from San Diego, LA, SF, Oakland, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, and whatever other coastal Occupies wish to participate. Whether they wish to do this by delegation or just by letting people decide for themselves is up to the individual GAs. At this event, they could settle on some of the broader details – such as whether to support the shutdown at all, of course – and have working groups focus more closely on how to achieve the objective. Still, while a West Coast GA is desirable, it isn’t necessary: They could coordinate just fine by acting independently while communicating with each other.

Ultimately, all Occupies on the West Coast – and possibly even all in the Western half of the continent, including Nevada, Utah, Colorado, etc. – would have to participate to some extent for it to succeed. The number of people needed to shut down the Port would be quite large, and the amount of money and planning involved would be challenging though I doubt prohibitive. But it is clear that OLA and OLB, even together, do not have the resources or the numbers to do it alone. So for the purposes of the Port shutdown, the Western Occupies would have to de-emphasize localism and be willing to deploy significant distances from their home grounds in order to achieve a massive victory for the overall movement. If that does not occur, then there is no shutdown.

Another subject that needs to be addressed is potential blowback with respect to the 2012 elections. A massive, economically disruptive act of civil disobedience may force Democratic candidates to further disassociate themselves from the cause at a time when the plight of the 99% is the Party’s most potent electoral weapon, causing ill will on the left and dividing the vote. Mainstreaming the action as described above would mitigate this potential problem, but I’d recommend timing the event to coincide with the primary season so that any divisions that do occur may be turned to positive results by nominating more progressive candidates. Doing it after the primaries have concluded would be sub-optimal since it would not lead to better Democrats, but still cause divisions that might impact the general election.

Furthermore, I want to be clear about something: The President of the United States, no matter how much he supports the 99%, cannot and will not support the shutdown of America’s busiest ports, and in fact may condemn it. GET OVER IT, or else we will have to resign ourselves to a permanent conservative majority on the Supreme Court that will forever strike down every attempt to make this country safe for democracy while upholding every right-wing authoritarian violation.

3. Shutting down the Port

The three high-level tasks needed to shut down the entire Port complex are these:

1. Bring enough people to do the job.
2. Converge on the respective destinations before they can be intercepted.
3. Passively defeat attempts at dispersal or removal for an indefinite time.

Task 1 can be accomplished by having as many Occupies involved as possible, as well as cultivating active participation by members of nearby communities. We can arrive at a ballpark figure for the number of people needed by adopting the cautious standard that 100 people using a variety of tactics can hold one lane of traffic. Examining the satellite map of the Port, I’ve identified 13 primary assembly points along the perimeter that would choke off nearly all access if held by protesters, accounting for about 90 combined lanes of traffic (including on/offramps and rail lines). A map of primary assembly points:


Primary Assembly Points

(Links lead to close-up aerial photography)

1. Seaside Freeway before Vincent Thomas Bridge.

2. Confluence of trucking entrance to China Shipping Terminal, Knoll Dr., rail crossing, North Pacific Ave., and Harbor Freeway on/offramps.

3. Intersection of W. Harry Bridges Blvd. and Figueroa St.

4. T-junction of W. Harry Bridges Blvd. and S. Neptune Ave.

5. Intersection of W. Harry Bridges Blvd. and N. Fries Ave.

6. Intersection of W./E. Harry Bridges Blvd. and N. Avalon Blvd.

7. Intersection of E. Anaheim St. and N. Henry Ford Ave.

8. Terminal Island Freeway entrance to Commodore Schuyler F. Helm Bridge & entrance to rail bridge (separate levels).

9. T-junction of Anaheim Way and Pier B St.

10. Confluence of Pier B. St/Pico Ave., Seaside Fwy clover ramps, and rail crossings.

11. Seaside Freeway at the narrow point of the peninsula.

12. Long Beach side of W. Ocean Blvd. bridge.

13. Long Beach side of Queens Way Bridge.

Based on our 100/lane standard (counting only one street’s lanes in an intersection), this gives us a figure of 9,000 people for the direct protest, which would have to be augmented by at least half as many reserves capable of joining later or assembling at secondary points to shore up the primary ones, as well as dedicated camera people arrayed diffusely around each assembly point. We can thus say 20,000 people is the ballpark bare minimum head count for even a slim chance at a successful, enduring shutdown. If I had to guess, I would say that 50,000 would be optimum target, provided the added numbers are no less focused and disciplined, but 20,000 would be the cutoff beneath which the event simply isn’t worth attempting. These are not especially large numbers for a traditional protest, but are gargantuan for civil disobedience.

The key obstacle to achieving Task 1 is time – it would obviously take longer than the timeframe of the Oakland shutdowns to get 50,000+ people on board with taking direct action, consulting with the various groups identified above, and organizing the logistics involved. Since it is a truly massive undertaking, and one with few precedents to judge by, I would recommend an ample stretch of time: 3-4 months. Some activists might be tempted to set May 1st as the target date due to its significance to labor, but I would suggest moving sooner due to the electoral issues already mentioned – March or April, or even earlier if it’s found that the numbers are not as hard to generate as I assumed. But given that this is late December, we can say with reasonable confidence that late February is the absolute earliest ETA, and probably inadvisable given the amount of preparation involved.

Task 2 is more complicated, since protesters can be intercepted at any point in the process of their travel from home to the assembly point. They may be preemptively arrested days before the event if authorities know why they’re in the area – a tactic we have seen repeatedly over the years prior to big protests.

Strategies for avoiding interception

If coming from outside LA County, arrive in the region at least a week before the event.

Stay somewhere reasonably far from the Port, such as in one of the many pleasant cities of the broader County.

Do not house together in groups or congregate prior to the protest except in small, innocuous meetings, such as having lunch.

Do not blog about where you are or what you’re doing until the very moment the protest begins.

Do not look like a protester stereotype.

Do not drive cars with out-of-state license plates in the area.

Plan for the most absurdly heavy-handed and paranoid police attempts to stop you from even getting to the Port, and prepare accordingly. But common sense will do in most cases – don’t go out of your way to announce why you’re there.

If you consider yourself an especially notorious protester likely to be tracked via cellphones or laptops, buy all new equipment when you get into the region and don’t use it (other than to check that it works) prior to the protest.

Stay in areas that a racial-profiling cop would not find suspicious. Young white people suddenly flooding the streets of a Latino neighborhood in the days before a ballyhooed protest of epic proportions would obviously attract attention, and attention could very easily mean preemptive arrest and confiscation of critical resources.

Arrive at your designated assembly point simultaneously with everyone else, and do so by converging from all possible directions. If road blocks prevent access, proceed on foot from a random direction (i.e., RUN). As can be seen in the linked maps above, most assembly points are wide-open, and would be very difficult for authorities to completely block without causing the very shutdown they’d be trying to prevent.

Participants should arrive in the area as close to the start time as possible, but arrive at the actual assembly points simultaneously – this would cause police intelligence to badly underestimate the numbers of protesters planning to participate, and have difficulty coping with the underestimate. Such estimates tend to be based on how many protesters are already on scene or known to be in the area, but if people flood in unexpectedly from everywhere around the region, the state, and the country, it could not be adequately predicted. Arrivals should occur via as a wide a variety of conveyances as possible, including just walking, but timing is crucial – it is not good for people to trickle in slowly for police to sweep up at their leisure, or for large groups to assemble outside their assembly points and then try to march to them: Police would simply block their movement and turn it into a by-the-numbers standoff and crackdown.

Furthermore, a decision would have to be made about whether to occupy key rail crossings or focus exclusively on roads. There would be special risks involved in trying to shut down the rail lines into the Port – namely, that someone wouldn’t get the message that there are people on the rails, and that they’re not in a position to move if a runaway train came barreling toward them. That could pose dangers not only to protesters, but to the personnel on the trains. In my amateur opinion, it could still be done safely by ensuring constant communication with the rail managers, but there are downsides either way. It certainly wouldn’t be anywhere near as risky as standing in front of a tank in Tienanmen Square, or being a freedom fighter in Libya or Syria, so it’s important to put risk in context.

To arrive at and effectively take possession of an assembly point would require that police aren’t already holding it – something that is likely to be the case in several instances, given how much lead time would be needed to organize the shutdown. As a result, every intersection and access point into the Port around the perimeter should be assigned a backup priority as an assembly point for groups from surrounding points.

In other words, they would know that if they arrive to find the primary objective occupied by authorities, they either attempt to create de facto control of an intersection by taking over the two streets that comprise it – an option that would force them to divide their strength – or else move on to their secondary point. If the secondary point is already taken, or some other group has moved into it due to their own exigencies, they move on to tertiary point, and so on. The same convergence strategy should be used in this case as for the original assembly – moving in simultaneously from random directions to avoid being kettled or swept up. Bicycles, skateboards, or rollerblades might be useful for allowing mobilized protesters to move quickly, given the wide-open nature of the terrain in most assembly points.

Task 3 is by far the biggest practical challenge, demonstrated by how quickly police dispersed and rounded up the recent half-assed (sorry, it had to be said) attempts to shutdown the Ports of LA, San Diego, and Houston. Clearly there are two aspects to achieving the task: One is preventing removal from the chosen location, and the other is ensuring that the protesters’ health isn’t compromised by it. I address the former in the Tactical Assessment immediately below, but the latter is both more straightforward and more difficult: In the midst of likely brutal police activity and arrest-first-ask-questions-later behavior, getting water to protesters who are locked into position for hours or (if successful) days would be a serious problem.

It’s entirely possible police would deliberately use that as a siege tactic if they failed to break the assembly points, knowing that dehydration would cause protesters’ health to rapidly deteriorate. So if the occupiers succeeded at drawing out the shutdown for any length of time, we would have to be highly innovative at getting relief to them through police cordons and roving patrol vehicles sweeping up strays, scouts, and camera people. Unfortunately, for those who choose to be locked into place so they cannot be removed, such niceties as bathroom breaks would probably be a necessary sacrifice, and there aren’t many non-icky solutions to that.

IV. Tactical Assessment

There are three areas of tactical planning I would like to cover:

1. Getting there.
2. Staying there.
3. Communications.

1. Getting there.

This is an area where maximum flexibility is key, and must be a large part of the robustness of any final plan. In other words, the ability to arrive at the assembly point shouldn’t be dependent on anything – there should be a vast network of available contingencies that would accomplish the task equally well. If you don’t have access to a car, then hire a taxi; take a bus; ride a bike; jog; walk; whatever – just as long as it’s planned far enough in advance so that the timing still works out, and nothing tips off police to stop you on the way.

However, there is one concept that I’ve found a lot of fun to think about, and that may be worth considering as one more option among many: Given some level of active support from truckers, it may be possible to introduce large numbers of protesters into the Port grounds via transportation inside Trojan horse cargo haulers. They could be let out right at the assembly points with authorities being taken by surprise, or else (given large enough numbers) enable seizure of interior secondary points to impede law enforcement movement between primary points. This might carry some risk for the drivers – e.g., possible confiscation of their rig and/or loss of trucking license – but there may nonetheless be willing truck drivers. As long as the paperwork accurately states the weight of the “cargo,” I wouldn’t foresee much chance of police being able to practically intercept such a “shipment” unless they stopped and searched all incoming trucks – something that would effectively shut down the Port itself.

2. Staying there

The tactical arrangement of an assembly point would be as follows: An inner core lock boxed into a secure circle or square of several dozen (at least) immobile protesters whom authorities would be unable to move expeditiously even if they were alone; an outer core of free-moving or merely arm-in-arm protesters cordoning off the inner core, and functioning as scouts and supply gofers; and a diffuse third ring comprised of dedicated camera/communications people recording the events, blogging, and maintaining signal access to the protesters against electronic jamming, local bandwidth throttling, or interference with nearby cell towers. A diagram of the arrangement:


As the link above explains, a “lock box” in the context of a protest is a strong device that attaches the limb of one protester to that of another (or else to a fixed installation) in order to prevent authorities from easily dispersing or arresting them. Usually this occurs as PVC pipes being used to connect the arm of one protester to another, but stronger materials may be used, legs connected rather than arms, or different apparatus may be chosen as connectors (e.g., solid-bar handcuffs, or heavy blocks of something).

Since shutting down the Port would be a massive undertaking with (in all likelihood) a Wagnerian police response, the inner-core lockbox area of every assembly point should probably involve the strongest practical connector materials, connect the protesters into the strongest tactical configurations, maximize weight to minimize the ability of authorities to move the entire group by force, and not exclusively rely on arm-to-arm connections so that inner core people still have at least one free arm to operate cameras. One possible configuration would be arm-arm-leg-leg, so that each protester has one arm and one leg connector. Another possibility is that – since they would be sitting on the ground anyway – that only legs be connected, freeing up both arms for managing cameras, text messaging, etc.

Bicycle, motorcycle, football, and other sports helmets, pads, and equipment should be worn to ward off baton blows, at least among the outer cordon who would be interposing themselves between authorities and the lockbox. There is no law against armoring yourself up like a hockey goalie in order to safely protest – at least not yet. But for the moment there are no laws demanding that people make themselves vulnerable to being bludgeoned, so the outer cordon should look like the wall of a sporting goods store.

The camera people, meanwhile, are critical to making the tactical success of a shutdown into a strategic success, because without their coverage and the accountability it brings, the police would pretty much get away with murder – probably literally. They must be dispersed in a wide field around each assembly point in order to make arresting them more difficult and time-consuming for authorities, and they should seek out vantage points ideal both for recording and for escaping arrest. It is absolutely essential that every moment of every assembly point be captured from as many angles as possible for the safety of the protesters and to safeguard the possibility of justice against likely abuses.

If the movement has done its job in selling the shutdown to the public, and if the protesters conduct themselves with grace and dignity, any abuses by will only further enhance the credibility of the movement while damaging the political capital of authorities. Camera people would also be responsible for bringing wireless routers, transmitters, satellite dishes, and other portable signal infrastructure to get around any dirty tricks such as jamming signals, throttling bandwidth, or messing with the local cell towers. They may also serve as relief reserves for outer cordon protesters, if they and the people they’re relieving can evade police.

Camera fields should extend indefinitely in all directions, and overlap with those of other assembly points via people with long-distance equipment; mobile photographers zipping around perimeter roads in cars or motorbikes; people on rooftops and small boats in the nearby marinas; perhaps even some of those remote-controlled “OccuCameras” that Horace Boothroyd III has brought to our attention:

All protesters of any group should become experts in the road layout, topography, and photographic sight lines of their designated areas well in advance of the event. Scouts could provide some of the information, but it should be augmented by personal research to avoid allowing any one person’s mistakes or oversights to have broad consequences for the success of the shutdown. Their decisions on where to be, and planning for contingencies, cannot occur on an ad hoc basis the way it has in the past – real strategic thinking and foresight is needed to make something like this work. They have to defeat every imaginable police tactic short of a general massacre before it ever occurs, and know exactly what to do when it does.

If this is sounding like a military operation, that’s because it essentially is – the objective is strategic rather than symbolic, and logistics rather than tactics are the critical factor both in choosing the objective and accomplishing it. So a shift in mentality is needed to carry it off: We will never, ever, ever shut down either the Port of Los Angeles or the Wall Street stock exchanges by organizing attempts as if they were just ambitious political protests. They have to be approached as peaceful, nonviolent versions of military assaults where protesters’ own bodies are used to passively interfere with the logistics of the other side. We have plenty of real war veterans among us, so there are undoubtedly some with a functional understanding of this fact. Their knowledge and experience should be solicited.

Now, this is only a preliminary, superficial analysis that should not be relied upon exclusively as the basis of an actual plan. Unfortunately, it’s my impression that this is already way beyond the level of strategic thinking Occupy usually does, so it is crucial that the movement use this as a starting point for deeper fact-finding and planning. But I think I’ve reasonably argued that (a)shutting down the Port of Los Angeles is the logical target for West Coast Occupy, and (b)it can be done.

V. Toward a Three-Pronged Nationwide General Strike

But if it is done, there is no reason to do it in a vacuum: Coordinating a Port of LA shutdown with an equally ambitious port project on the Gulf Coast (be it Houston or Louisiana) and a serious, strategically-planned shutdown of the Wall Street stock exchanges would amount to the core of a nationwide General Strike. Until now, Occupy has been pretty ad hoc – just scatter leaflets around, chatter on the internet, and then see who shows up – but if it proves that it can organize self-disciplined, deeply-thought, targeted civil disobedience on a mass scale and succeed, then it will have stepped up into an entirely new league of influence: One in which the statement that this is OUR country begins to resemble a fact, not just an aggrieved expression.

By LEE FERRAN | ABC News21-1-11

Federal agents in California have uncovered the “most sophisticated” drug tunnel in years, the latest discovery in what an official said had become a “major phenomenon” in the war on drugs.

A spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to give details on the tunnel which ran from Tijuana to San Diego but said, “When we talk about a sophisticated tunnel, we’re talking about tunnels that have some type of reinforcement in them and a lot of work has been put into them to help them smuggle the drugs in an easier way.

“In the past we have found tunnels that have railways and lighting and ventilation and all kinds of different scenarios and this is one of the most sophisticated that we have discovered perhaps ever, but definitely at least in the last five years,” ICE spokesperson Lauren Mack said.

PHOTOS: Secret Drug Tunnels

The tunnel was discovered by San Diego’s Tunnel Task Force in cooperation with Mexican authorities, Mack said. The task force, whose sole job is to uncover drug smuggling tunnels, is made up of agents from ICE, Customs and Border Protection and the Drug Enforcement Administration.


More than 70 tunnels have been discovered by federal authorities since October 2008, according to a report by The Associated Press, which first reported the new find.


Earlier this month, U.S. authorities nabbed 14 tons of marijuana from warehouses connected by a drug tunnel from Mexico to south San Diego. That tunnel was built with structural support and had the electric lighting and ventilation. Just a few days ago a pair of similar tunnels were uncovered in the Arizona border town of Nogales.

Mack said such tunnels had become a “major phenomenon ongoing increasingly in the last decade or so” for cartels in Mexico trying to get their product into the hands of U.S. customers.

Marijuana was also discovered in the new tunnel and Mack said federal agents were up late Monday night weighing it. The amount, along with other details about the tunnel, are expected to be revealed at a press conference in San Diego at 5 p.m. ET.




by Hugh Holub on Jun. 03, 2011

The other night at a town briefing on the Murphy fire west of Tubac, the first question asked by the audience was “who started the fire?”

The answer was perfect government evasion…human caused and under investigation.

The audience laughed.

It is pretty much a given this time of year that any fire that starts around the borderlands is human caused. There is no lightning.

And since the fires seem to almost always start on known human and drug smuggling trails…it is not like hunters or hikers started the fires. This is not hunting season and it is too hot for American hikers.

The folks over in the Chiricahuas where the Horseshoe 2 fire is raging are convinced drug smugglers started that fire.

And the 6 or so fires we’ve had around Nogales are probably 99% certain to have been caused by illegal aliens or drug smugglers.

So why doesn’t the Forest Service admit that illegal aliens and drug smugglers are busy burning down the National Forest lands?

Is it because President Obama’s claims everything is just wonderful on the border would look false if drug smugglers were starting fires so their drug mules could sneak thousands of pounds of marijuana into the country?

Is it because Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano would look bad if the truth were that illegal aliens that got across the border where there is no border security were burning the country down as they passed through?

 For Immediate Release – January 11, 2011 Contact: Matthew Hess, President •

Intactivists Push for State, Federal Bans on Infant Circumcision


Proposed legislation from would protect boys from genital cutting the same way that girls are protected.


SAN DIEGO, California – Intactivists from across the country are once again calling on state and federal lawmakers to prohibit circumcision of boys. Regional directors from the children’s rights group submitted proposed bills to more than 2,800 legislators yesterday, urging them to extend the existing ban on forced female genital cutting to include males.


Matthew Hess, the group’s president, said circumcision is medically unnecessary and robs men of their right to an intact body. “Boys are born with a foreskin for a reason,” said Hess. “The foreskin functions like an eyelid, providing protection and keeping the penis moist and sensitive. It also contains thousands of nerve endings and acts as a natural lubricant during sexual activity. Boys deserve to be legally protected from forced circumcision the same way that girls are protected.”


Ron Low, director of’s Illinois state office, has invented several devices to help circumcised men deal with their loss while also pushing for legal action to protect infant boys.


“The damage caused by circumcision is very real,” said Low, who owns and operates, a foreskin restoration device manufacturer. “Fortunately, men can reverse some of that damage by stretching their remaining shaft skin to create a substitute foreskin. But the specialized nerve endings removed from circumcision do not grow back, and it’s a crime that so many men must go their entire lives without ever experiencing sex the way nature intended.”’s Washington state office director believes that circumcision is a choice for each man to make on his own.


“I left my two sons intact because I felt it was the right thing to do,” said Jennifer Coulter, who lives near the westernmost part of the Puget Sound. “But deciding whether to circumcise a boy is a choice that no parent should ever have to make, because male and female children deserve the same right to genital integrity. We need to amend current laws that protect girls from genital cutting so that boys are protected, too. It’s only fair.”


Male circumcision has been under intense legal scrutiny over the past year. In March, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Judiciary debated’s genital integrity bill for that state. The bill was defeated, but it marked the first time in U.S. history that a legislative body held a public hearing on a bill that would specifically outlaw forced circumcision of males. Later that same month, the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Canada sentenced a father to a year in prison for circumcising his four-year-old son at home for religious reasons.In May, the Royal Dutch Medical Association issued a statement declaring that male circumcision “conflicts with the child’s right to autonomy and physical integrity”, adding that there are “good reasons for a legal prohibition of non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors, as exists for female genital mutilation”.


2010 also saw the publication of’s new Foreskin Man comic book series, which follows the adventures of a fictional intactivist superhero. And in November, a group of intactivists garnered national attention when they began collecting signatures to put the San Francisco MGM Bill on the November 2011 ballot. The measure would prohibit circumcision of boys throughout the City and County of San Francisco.


In the meantime, male circumcision rates appear to be dropping fast as more parents and doctors learn about the damaging effects. In August, a study of more than 6.5 million boys conducted by a Centers for Disease Control researcher found that the U.S. infant circumcision rate had plummeted to 33% percent in 2009 – down from 56% in 2006.


In addition to every member of Congress, state legislators in Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington all received the MGM Bill proposal yesterday.

Text of U.S. Senate Bill:

Terrorist Group Setting Up Operations Near Border

Hezbollah Considered To Be More Advanced Than Al-Qaida

 SAN DIEGO — A terrorist organization whose home base is in the Middle East has established another home base across the border in Mexico.

“They are recognized by many experts as the ‘A’ team of Muslim terrorist organizations,” a former U.S. intelligence agent told 10News.

The former agent, referring to Shi’a Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah, added, “They certainly have had successes in big-ticket bombings.”

Some of the group’s bombings include the U.S. embassy in Beirut and Israeli embassy in Argentina.

However, the group is now active much closer to San Diego.

“We are looking at 15 or 20 years that Hezbollah has been setting up shop in Mexico,” the agent told 10News.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. policy has focused on al-Qaida and its offshoots.

“They are more shooters than thinkers … it’s a lot of muscles, courage, desire but not a lot of training,” the agent said, referring to al-Qaida.

Hezbollah, he said, is far more advanced.

“Their operators are far more skilled … they are the equals of Russians, Chinese or Cubans,” he said. “I consider Hezbollah much more dangerous in that sense because of strategic thinking; they think more long-term.”

Hezbolah has operated in South America for decades and then Central America, along with their sometime rival, sometime ally Hamas.

Now, the group is blending into Shi’a Muslim communities in Mexico, including Tijuana. Other pockets along the U.S.-Mexico border region remain largely unidentified as U.S. intelligence agencies are focused on the drug trade.

“They have had clandestine training in how to live in foreign hostile territories,” the agent said.

The agent, who has spent years deep undercover in Mexico, said Hezbollah is partnering with drug organizations, but which ones is not clear at this time.

He told 10News the group receives cartel cash and protection in exchange for Hezbollah expertise.

“From money laundering to firearms training and explosives training,” the agent said.

For example, he tracked, along with Mexican intelligence, two Hezbollah operatives in safe houses in Tijuana and Durango

“I confirmed the participation of cartel members as well as other Hezbollah individuals living and operating out of there,” he said.

Tunnels the cartels have built that cross from Mexico into the U.S. have grown increasingly sophisticated. It is a learned skill, the agent said points to Hezbollah’s involvement.

“Where are the knowledgeable tunnel builders? Certainly in the Middle East,” he said.

Why have Americans not heard more about Hezbollah’s activities happening so close to the border?

“If they really wanted to start blowing stuff up, they could do it,” the agent said.

According to the agent, the organization sees the U.S. as their “cash cow,” with illegal drug and immigration operations. Many senior Hezbollah leaders are wealthy businessmen, the agent said.

“The money they are sending back to Lebanon is too important right now to jeopardize those operations,” he said.

The agent said the real concern is the group’s long-term goal of radicalizing Muslim communities.

“They’re focusing on developing … infiltrating communities within North America,” the agent told 10News.

May 13, 2010|By Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

With the blessings of ceremonial dancers, a group of UC Berkeley students ended a 10-day hunger strike Wednesday while negotiators met with the chancellor over the status of illegal immigrants and student demonstrators. Soon afterward, students and Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced some modest agreements on undocumented university employees and student discipline. About 20 hunger strikers, mostly students, had camped out in front of the school’s administration building since May 3. Their initial protest target was Arizona’s new immigration law, which requires police to stop and question anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. Birgeneau quickly complied with the protesters’ first demand – to denounce the law. But he balked at their proposals to declare the campus a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, rehire laid-off janitors and drop disciplinary charges against students who occupied or vandalized buildings last fall to protest rising fees.


The suspect in Wednesday’s shootout at the Chandler Fashion Center escaped from the mall before police surrounded it and ran to a nearby restaurant where he fired shots at officers and held two women hostage, according to court records.

The records report that the suspect, Adam Armando Hernandez, taunted officers as they pursued him from the mall to the Baja Fresh restaurant across Chandler Boulevard, shaking his hand at them, showing them his middle finger, pulling a handgun from his waistband and shooting at them after he entered the restaurant.

Hernandez, 27, is being held in Maricopa County Jail on $1 million bond. He has been charged with attempted first degree murder of an officer and theft. He had been released from state prison in 2009, where he served time for aggravated assault.

A police report filed with the San Marcos Justice Court in Chandler said Hernandez told arresting officers he was on the run for a probation violation and knew he was being followed by officers Wednesday in the mall’s parking lot. Detectives from the U.S Marshal Fugitive Task Force and other agencies were at the mall looking for a suspect in a string of recent armed robberies and other crimes.

Police initially mistook him for fugitive Daniel Perez, wanted for shooting at Department of Public Safety officers in Casa Grande on Dec. 10.

After detectives approached Hernandez in the mall parking lot, he left his vehicle and headed for the mall, the report says. As detectives attempted to contact him, he ran into a store, through the mall and then back into the parking lot.

As he continued to run with officers running after him, another detective drove toward him to try to take him into custody. He turned and fired several shots toward the police vehicle, the report says. Bullets went through the side window and side mirror, as well as the roof just above the windshield.

“The officer returned fire through the windshield of his vehicle. Another detective was on foot at the time of the initial shots and Hernandez then fire rounds at the officer on foot,” the document says.

Hernandez returned to the mall through a store, dropping a magazine from his firearm and then left the store and ran into the interior of the mall, dropping his sweatshirt along the way. He was about to call a taxi to get away when he saw people who he believed to be detectives looking at him. He ran north from the mall and crossed Chandler Boulevard. Detectives saw Hernandez attempt to flag down vehicles as he ran.

“Detectives indicated Hernandez looked directly at them and shook his hand in a motion indicating, “no,” the report says. “Hernandez then flipped the officers the middle finger and removed a handgun from his waistband.”

He then entered the Baja Fresh.

While in the restaurant he located a key to the safe and removed a large amount of money, according to the records. One of four employees in the store and all the customers escaped. He held two cashiers hostage as a third employee hid inside the store, the report says.

After talking with negotiators, Hernandez turned himself over to police.

Officers said that during the incident, Hernandez had yelled that he would “shoot them in the head.”

During the negotiations at the Baja Fresh, he admitted his involvement in the initial shootout at the mall, the documents report.

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