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National Lawyers Guild stands up again with clarity

We are all antifa
Wednesday Sep 6th, 2017 6:32 PM
Last month, thousands gathered in San Francisco and Berkeley to defeat the hatred of fascism and white supremacy. A united front of labor, clergy, students, socialists, anarchists and others successfully prevented the fascists from holding their rallies.
This is antifa — a broad movement of people who stand against the violence of white supremacists and fascists, violence emboldened by the ascendancy of Donald Trump to the presidency.

Despite our victory, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin called for antifa to be classified as a criminal gang. The lesson here is that we cannot depend on the government to meaningfully intervene and prevent the rise of fascism. That is up to us.

The National Lawyers Guild, an organization of thousands of lawyers, law students and legal workers across the country, has supported free speech and assembly for all progressive and radical movements for 80 years. But The Chronicle’s coverage of the Aug. 27 rally would have you believe that it is the “alt-right” that seeks to protect speech. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here are some examples of what the far right does when no one is filming:

• Our volunteer attorneys, legal workers and clients have received death threats and their personal information publicized to promote harassment, as a result of our defense of antifa activists;

• One attorney was stalked inside the courthouse by a man with a swastika tattoo and a shaved head wearing quasi-military-type attire. He then left, and shortly thereafter she received threatening messages and had to seek protection at a safe house;

• A group of men wearing military-like attire, and one with a swastika tattoo, was seen waiting outside Santa Rita Jail for arrestees to be released;

• National Lawyers Guild phone lines have been inundated with hate calls.

But we are prepared to defend ourselves, and are implementing security plans to ensure the safety of our members, allies and partners. This is hatred and violence, not speech.

As an antiracist organization, we refuse to support white supremacists. That does not mean that we oppose free speech.

We believe far-right extremists have successfully twisted the right to free speech to cast themselves as victims of exactly what they strive to promote — hate and violence.

The far right, however, is not the only problem. The government appears to be colluding with the far right to target antifa. Of six protesters held overnight in jail, only one has been charged with a crime — a woman with a service dog who was brutally pinned to the ground by police, allegedly for throwing an apple. Another was arrested for allegedly pulling their T-shirt over part of their face when photographed by fascists.

This campaign to recast antifa as a violent, leftist suppression of speech is a dangerous effort eerily reminiscent of the left-baiting that accompanied the Nazi rise to power.

The National Lawyers Guild won’t stand by as fascists and white supremacists seek to take power in the streets and halls of government. We stand in solidarity with all who fight hatred. We will continue to show up, to defend activists who challenge fascism, and we call on all people of conscience to do the same.

— Nina Farnia, Rachel Lederman and Meredith Wallis

Nina Farnia is the president of the National Lawyers Guild — San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. Rachel Lederman is chair of the Demonstrations Committee, National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. Meredith Wallis is a member of the Demonstrations Committee.

Paper Tiger Apes Big Bad Wolf by John Anderson via DIYmedia.net

By John Anderson

in FCC, Media Policy, NAB, Pirate Radio


September 06, 2017

The FCC’s taking a cue from the Three Little Pigs, huffing and puffing about the work it’s doing to combat the “problem” of pirate radio. Just in time for the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual Radio Show in Austin, the FCC’s gone on an enforcement spree of sorts over the last month or two.

With 158 enforcement actions on the books at the end of August, the agency is now on pace to meet or exceed the number of actions it took against unlicensed stations in 2016. For the eight years we’ve experienced of this decade so far, 2017’s enforcement-trajectory seems on target to rank as third or fourth-busiest.

States visited by the FCC hunting radio pirates, 2017Field agents have traveled far beyond the most popularly-recognized East Coast “hotspots” this summer. Arkansas gets on the board for the first time in the history of our Enforcement Action Database, while the closure of the Seattle FCC field office made it San Francisco and Los Angeles-based agents’ responsibility to visit Alaska in pursuit of a Baptist church – the first time since 2013 that the FCC’s made waves there. (Alaska is the 36th most active U.S. state/territory for pirate radio, just behind FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s home state of Kansas.)

This year, agents also popped in on stations in Indiana, Nebraska, and North Carolina, among others. Based on the Database, the only state the FCC has yet to visit for anti-pirate purposes, at least in the last two decades, is Mississippi.

There have also been some mildly interesting tweaks to the enforcement protocol. Times between the initial station-visit and the sending of a Notice of Unlicensed Operation via certified mail varies by office, and ranges from as little as a week to several months – the latest batches of NOUOs from New York and Florida show a 1-2 month lag.

The language used in NOUOs is also being standardized. Before, field offices would generally provide some indication of how the pirate appeared on their radar, most often due to the receipt of a complaint or exposure in the news media. In some cases, FCC agents would even identify the complainant.

This has been replaced with more nebulous boilerplate, such as, “On [date], agents from the [location] field office investigated an unlicensed FM station operation on [frequency] in [location],” or “On [date], agents from the [location] field office confirmed by direction finding techniques that radio signals on frequency [x] were emanating from [location],” along with supplemental information. NOUOs now do often include whether or not the FCC actually spoke with someone when they visited, and a surprising number of those being warned do fess up when agents come knocking.

Both the FCC and radio industry are playing this up as “progress” in a ramped-up “war” on unlicensed broadcasting. This would be true were it not for some pesky details.

As our Database counts each visit and official correspondence (NOUO, NAL, forfeiture, raid, seizure) as a separate enforcement action, the sheer number of actions doesn’t necessarily correlate to more stations being pounced upon. It’s not uncommon for field agents to make two or more visits to a station over the course of a month or more before they actually drop a certified letter on it. In addition, agents will often send duplicate letters to any parties they suspect of being privy to the pirate broadcast; this often includes multiple potential operators, property owners/landlords, and businesses that may share space with a station.

Due to this duplication, the FCC may conduct as many as five or six enforcement actions against each station it’s made aware of. For example, if the FCC visits a station three times and identifies two operators and the property owner, it’ll generate two or three NOUOs as well. Multiply this number if field agents go through these motions more than once because the pirate moves locations or goes dormant for a spell. Interestingly, this practice seems most prevalent in the FCC’s busiest field offices (NYC and Miami), which further skews the enforcement-statistics to present an inflated picture of FCC activity on the ground.

Some of this inflation is obvious, such as the case of agents in Florida issuing separate NOUOs on the same pirate a day apart (not counted here as separate enforcement actions). In other cases, agents in the same office may only go partway, as happened in two instances last month in which the property owner was identified but the actual station operator was not.

Duplicative enforcement actions create the perception that the FCC is doing more than it is, but the true test of whether any of it is meaningful is expressed in its deterrent-value. If Chairman Pai et al. want to really ramp up the propaganda-value of this activity, they can “escalate” enforcement to the issuance of monetary penalties and attempt to collect $10-25,000 on each case. In Pai et al.’s policy-world, in which economics trumps all, this seems lke a no-brainer.

If only the limits of the FCC’s authority included being able to collect such debts! We get no better example of this than the case of Kacy Rankine. This New Jersey-based broadcaster first came to the FCC’s attention in 2005, when someone complained about his pirate FM station in Newark. After visits in November and December, Rankine got a Notice of Unlicensed Operation about his station on December 6 of that year.

The station stayed on. So the FCC visited again four times in January and February of 2006, then sent Rankine and another party more NOUOs on March 3. No effect.

Agents made three more visits in April, May, and July, before finally hitting Rankine with a $10,000 Notice of Apparent Liability on November 3, 2006 – one year minus two days from the FCC’s first visit to his station.

On January 26, 2007, the FCC formally fined Kacy Rankine $10,000 for his operations in Newark. This case involved a total of 14 enforcement actions (9 visits, 3 NOUOs, one NAL, and one forfeiture) over 14 months.

Did Rankine ever pay his fine? There’s no record of this, and considering that the agency historically only collects on less than a quarter of its pirate radio cases, the answer’s probably no.

Whatever transpired, it had little deterrent effect based on Rankine’s reappearance in the Enforcement Action Database this year. On July 19, NYC-based agents paid a visit to Paterson, New Jersey, just 15 miles up the Garden State Parkway from Newark. They found a station calling itself “Roadblock Radio” on Rankine’s old frequency (90.1) and identified him as its operator.

Agents issued a boilerplate NOUO to Rankine on August 28, which admonishes you to stop broadcasting “IMMEDIATELY” or else face “severe penalties, including, but not limited to, substantial monetary fines, in rem arrest action against the offending radio equipment, and criminal sanctions, including imprisonment.” Already bereft of tools beyond threats, the FCC also apparently lacks an institutional enforcement memory. Kacy knows the score: will a second most likely uncollectable fine turn the tide in this case?

If Rankine wanted to, he could shadowbox the FCC by adopting techniques long-practiced by his UK cousins: separating transmitter from studio, lining up alternate broadcast locations in the event things get blown, and generally making field agents waste more time, energy and resources than the enforcement payoff is worth.

I’ve learned over the years that policymaking is the art of speaking in symbols that have real-world implications, and the policymaking process often breaks down when the translation between symbol and reality fails. This was the case with the U.S. digital radio transition, in which the FCC was sold a vision for radio’s future that has not yet been meaningfully implemented nearly two decades on.

The same breakdown has occurred with the agency’s handling of the pirate “problem” over the same time-frame, and this won’t be fixed by huffing and puffing at trade shows or generating more files in the short term.

Also keep in mind that the FCC’s enforcement resources are finite and already stretched thin, so this “war” on pirate radio forces the Enforcement Bureau to de-prioritize other elements of its mission to preserve spectrum integrity. As captured regulators will do, this particular FCC campaign is driven by the dominant political winds, but in the Trump era you can’t really predict just how far it’ll go to do its masters’ bidding.

As Pai has proposed net cuts to the FCC’s budget which neglected adequate enforcement funding, and the government itself may be shut down soon over even higher-stakes political theater, it’ll be interesting to see how the agency explains why the pirate-house is still standing despite its roar. The mutual industry/agency fellation this week in Austin won’t change this. Perhaps the parties involved should have read the fairy tale all the way through before aping it.


What is speech if no one may hear?

BLR contends that free speech is the subject of contention.
Access to media is inseparable from civil rights
While it seems inevitable that access will be monetized,
it cannot be curtailed
We would submit that our government making no law to abridge implies
access is in existence
To cut the funding for public access media indeed abridges our civil rights
Once the government stops providing the access, how does the usurpation skip all the way to putting up prohibitions to access to the media surmountable only with corporate interest?
our government prohibits the abridgment of the right to free speech
What is speech if no one may hear?
The FCC is playing with words here
Civil rights cannot be purchased as a license
A number of inquiries received at the Commission are from persons or groups who believe that there is a First Amendment, constitutionally protected right to broadcast. However, the Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly ruled on this subject and concluded that no right to broadcast exists.
In National Broadcasting Co. v. United States, 319 U.S. 190 (1943), the Supreme Court stated, in pertinent part, as follows (footnotes omitted):
We come, finally, to an appeal to the First Amendment. The Regulations, even if valid in all other respects, must fall because they abridge, say the appellants, their right of free speech. If that be so, it would follow that every person whose application for a license to operate a station is denied by the Commission is thereby denied his constitutional right of free speech. Freedom of utterance is abridged to many who wish to use the limited facilities of radio.
Unlike other modes of expression, radio inherently is not available to all. That is its unique characteristic, and that is why, unlike other modes of expression, it is subject to government regulation. Because it cannot be used by all, some who wish to use it must be denied. . . . The right of free speech does not include, however, the right to use the facilities of radio without license.
The licensing system established by Congress in the Communications Act was a proper exercise of its power over commerce.*nbsp; The standard it provided for licensing of stations was the 'public interest, convenience, and necessity.' Denial of a station license on that ground, if valid under the Act, is not a denial of free speech.
In addition, in Red Lion Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. FCC/United States, 395 U.S. 367, 89 S.CT. 1794 (1969), the Supreme Court of the United States stated, in pertinent part, as follows (footnotes omitted):
When two people converse face to face, both should not speak at once if either is to be clearly understood.
But the range of the human voice is so limited that there could be meaningful communications if half the people in the United States were talking and the other half listening. Just as clearly, half the people might publish and the other half read. But the reach of radio signals is incomparably greater than the range of the human voice and the problem of interference is a massive reality. The lack of know-how and equipment may keep many from the air, but only a tiny fraction of those with resources and intelligence can hope to communicate by radio at the same time if intelligible communication is to be had, even if the entire radio spectrum is used in the present state of commercially acceptable technology.
It was this fact, and the chaos which resulted from permitting anyone to use any frequency at whatever power level he wished, which made necessary the enactment of the Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934. National Broadcasting Co. v. United States, 319 U.S. 190, 210 - 214 (1943). It was this reality which at the very least necessitated first the division of the radio spectrum into portions reserved respectively for public broadcasting and for other important radio uses such as amateur operation, aircraft, police, defense, and navigation; and then the subdivision of each portion, and assignment of specific frequencies to individual users or groups of users. Beyond this, however, because the frequencies reserved for public broadcasting were limited in number, it was essential for the Government to tell some applicants that they could not broadcast at all because there was room for only a few.
Where there are substantially more individuals who want to broadcast than there are frequencies to allocate, it is idle to posit an unbridgeable First Amendment right to broadcast comparable to the right of every individual to speak, write, or publish. If 100 persons want to broadcast but there are only 10 frequencies to allocate, all of them may have the same 'right' to be a licensee; but if there is to be any effective communication by radio, only a few can be licensed and the rest must be barred from the airwaves. It would be strange if the First Amendment, aimed at protecting and furthering communications, prevented the Government from making radio communication possible by requiring licensees to broadcast and by limiting the number of licensees so as not to overcrowd the spectrum.
This has been the consistent view of the Court. Congress unquestionably has the power to grant and deny licenses and to eliminate existing stations. [citation omitted here]. No one has a first amendment right to a license or to monopolize a radio frequency; to deny a station license because 'the public interest' requires it 'is not a denial of free speech.' National Broadcasting Co. v. United States, 319 U.S. 190, 227 (1943).
"Quiet Spots" on the Dial
The fact that there are locations on a radio tuning dial which do not receive a broadcast station, does not necessarily indicate that a station can be added on that frequency. A station's signal on the same frequency or an adjacent frequency that is too distant or weak to be picked up by a radio receiver can still cause interference to other broadcast stations. For this reason, the Commission's rules require that stations located very close in frequency be located in different communities separated by some physical distance, so as to limit any potential interference.
Before it can be determined whether any "quiet spot" could support a broadcast station, the interested individual or group would need to have an engineering study performed to determine whether the frequency can actually be used. The Commission does not have the resources to perform such searches for potential applicants. Interested parties may want to retain a broadcast consulting engineer to determine what options exist, incorporating factors not under the Commission's jurisdiction (such as environmental and land use limitations, property availability, zoning, and airspace considerations).
Low Power FM - Low Power FM - Radio guide
Updated:  Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New Micro-power Station Hits Berkeley (news blurb Fall 1999)

The following is the somewhat optimistic status announcement of the founding of Berkeley Liberation Radio. The only details I updated were the stream, web and phone (to avoid confusion). From what I understand from credible sources, cash money was put out to stream content early on, but did not come to fruition. The website also was paid for but did not publish BLR content.

So many cool details from history right? Look! We used to have broadcast hours, awwww so sweet

Free speech supporters in Berkeley are proud to announce the birth of a new radio station

Berkeley Liberation Radio.

Operating at 104.1 FM with a 38 watt home made transmitter, BLR is proving that micro-power radio (less than 100 watts) is a good way for people to communicate with their neighbors. With the closure of Free Radio Berkeley in June 1998, a vital link to the east bay community was cut. Berkeley has a tradition of free speech activism going back to the 1960’s. After waiting over a year for the Federal Communications Commission to legalize low power FM broadcasting, BLR decided it was time to act. Right now the station is offering highly diverse grass roots radio between 8:00AM and midnight every day. BLR is looking for more volunteer programmers. BLR can be heard on the world wide web with an mp3 audio feed https://radio.indybay.org/blr.mp3 . The web address is https://berkeleyliberationradio.info and the studio phone number is (510) 495-1666.