Monday, October 31, 2011

Make A Stand (Occupy Wall St)

Ocuppy Denver - Police Spill Protesters Blood

State Concedes Defeat For Now in Occupy Nashville Battle; Judge Bans More Arrests

Posted by Jeff Woods
Mon, Oct 31, 2011

In a surprise victory for Occupy Nashville today, the state of Tennessee declined to defend the governor's crackdown on protesters at Legislative Plaza and accepted a court order banning more arrests—at least for now. Federal Judge Aleta Trauger said she'd already decided to issue her temporary restraining order anyway, even if the state opposed it.

"I can't think of any more quintessential public forum than the Legislative Plaza," she said, calling the governor's actions "clear prior restraint of free speech." She said she was "most gratified" and "not too surprised" that the state was conceding the first round in the lawsuit filed this morning by Occupy Nashville and the ACLU.

The two sides agreed to negotiate ways to accommodate the protesters while maintaining public safety at the Plaza. They were given until Nov. 21, at which point they'll go back to court. If there's no deal, then Trauger will decide whether to make her injunction permanent. Oh yes, the state also agreed to return the protesters' tents, soggy sleeping bags and other possessions that troopers confiscated on the first night of arrests and tossed into the back of a pickup truck in the Plaza garage.

The lawsuit catalogs all the many ways the protesters say the governor and the state of Tennessee have trampled on their rights. Free speech and free association have been denied at probably the most prominent public forum in the state of Tennessee, and it was done on the fly with flimsy legal authority and without notice, the lawsuit says.

Occupy Demands: Let's Radicalize Our Analysis Of Empire, Economics, Ecology

By Robert Jensen
31 October, 2011

There's one question that pundits and politicians keep posing to the Occupy gatherings around the country: What are your demands?

I have a suggestion for a response: We demand that you stop demanding a list of demands.

The demand for demands is an attempt to shoehorn the Occupy gatherings into conventional politics, to force the energy of these gatherings into a form that people in power recognize, so that they can roll out strategies to divert, co-opt, buy off, or -- if those tactics fail -- squash any challenge to business as usual.

Rather than listing demands, we critics of concentrated wealth and power in the United States can dig in and deepen our analysis of the systems that produce that unjust distribution of wealth and power. This is a time for action, but there also is a need for analysis. Rallying around a common concern about economic injustice is a beginning; understanding the structures and institutions of illegitimate authority is the next step. We need to recognize that the crises we face are not the result simply of greedy corporate executives or corrupt politicians, but rather of failed systems. The problem is not the specific people who control most of the wealth of the country, or those in government who serve them, but the systems that create those roles. If we could get rid of the current gang of thieves and thugs but left the systems in place, we will find that the new boss is going to be the same as the old boss.

My contribution to this process of sharpening analysis comes in lists of three, with lots of alliteration. Whether you find my analysis of the key questions compelling, at least it will be easy to remember: empire, economics, ecology.

Is Capitalism Losing the Debate?

Published on Monday, October 31, 2011 by

A remarkable shift in mass public opinion is occurring right before our eyes. It does not happen often. Normally, only when there is a severe breakdown in public confidence about the future.

Now is such a time.

Millions are demanding clear explanations for the economic turmoil surrounding their lives and rejecting en masse standard platitudes from an increasingly discredited political establishment.

Fox-News pundits, Heritage Foundation business scholars, glib right-wing loud mouths and two-faced politicians from both major parties have been exposed as stand-in ventriloquists for the wealthy – shockingly, all in a few short weeks.

It all began with only a few hundred protestors camped out on Wall Street challenging conceited notions of the one percent.

Through it all, the Occupy Movement is discovering what my generation learned during the civil rights, antiwar, feminist and gay rights struggles begun some 65 years ago – the ideas of the rich and powerful just don’t stand up.

They don’t hold water. That is, they do not accurately explain what is happening around us, the measure most rational people use to determine if something is true or false.

There was bitter political conflict with the status quo during the conformist “American Dream” decade of the 1950s.

Angela Davis "This Is The Beginning Of Something Really Wonderful! Really Vast! And Really Great!"

Can America survive without its backbone, the middle class?

As the gaps within the classes widen, American society is starting to fracture.

By Anne Applebaum
28 Oct 2011

My friend J grew up in Chicago, but spent his summers in a small town on a Michigan lake. His family, because they came from the city and because they were “summer” visitors, were slightly more privileged than those who lived in the town. Nevertheless, the town considered itself “middle class” and the children observed no social distinctions playing together. J told me recently that he had been back to that town and found it utterly changed: shops were boarded up, houses were being repossessed, cars were old. He no longer had much in common with people he had known as children, some of whom were now unemployed, all of whom had far lower incomes than he.

J isn’t a hedge-fund manager or a plutocrat, but he is a member of the American upper-middle class, a group which is now sociologically and economically very distinct from the lower-middle class, with different politics, different ambitions and different levels of optimism. Thirty years ago, this wasn’t the case. A worker in a Detroit car factory earned about the same as, say, a small-town dentist, and although they might have different taste in films or furniture, their purchasing power wasn’t radically different. Their children would have been able to play together without feeling as if they came from different planets.

Now they couldn’t. Despite all the loud talk of the “1 per cent” of Americans who, according to a recent study, receive about 17 per cent of the income, a percentage which has more than doubled since 1979, the existence of a very small group of very rich people has never bothered Americans. But the fact that some 20 per cent of Americans now receive some 53 per cent of the income is devastating.

I would argue that the growing divisions within the American middle class are far more important than the gap between the very richest and everybody else. They are important because to be “middle class”, in America, has such positive connotations, and because most Americans think they belong in it. The middle class is the “heartland”, the middle class is the “backbone of the country”. In 1970, Time magazine described middle America as people who “sing the national anthem at football games – and mean it”.

Complete article at:

Hartmann: 1% - It's not about your bank account but your patriotism

Occupy movement can win with nonviolence

by: Juan Lopez
October 31 2011
Wisconsin state police earlier this year escorted protestors into the state capitol so they could sit-in and sleep-in, in an act of non-violent civil disobedience. Police could just as easily have blocked demonstrators from entering, by any means necessary.

Why this course of action by state police in Wisconsin? After all, it could easily be argued that police and firefighters, whom Republican Governor Scott Walker had exempted from his attack on public employees, had no immediate incentive to cooperate with demonstrators. But they did.

They understood that in broad unity lay the secret to victory for all: "An injury to one is an injury to all." They understood they would be next on the chopping block.

Now, obviously no such gesture can be expected from the Oakland Police Department, which has an ugly history of use of excessive force in African American, Latino, Asian American and Native American communities in Oakland.

The latest tragedy inflicted on Iraq veteran Scott Olsen, a peaceful man, by Oakland cops is becoming a galvanizing moment to root out right-wing and racist elements long embedded in the city's police department.

We can expect no less from public officials and even from forces within the police department itself who recognize they are part of the "99 percent," as filmmaker Michael Moore so aptly pointed out recently at Occupy Oakland.

Police In Richmond Virginia use Bulldozers to Break up Occupy Richmond

Christian Groups Make Plans To Protect #OccupyLSX Protesters At St. Paul's Cathedral

By Susie Madrak
October 30, 2011

I've seen lots of online Christian bloggers express their support for the Occupy Wall Street movement. I wonder if they're ever going to get involved like these British Christian groups? It would be a great thing:

Christian groups have drawn up plans to protect protesters by forming a ring of prayer around the camp outside St Paul's Cathedral, should an attempt be made to forcibly remove them.

As the storm of controversy over the handling of the Occupy London Stock Exchange demonstration deepened on Saturday, Christian activists said it was their duty to stand up for peaceful protest in the absence of support from St Paul's. One Christian protester, Tanya Paton, said: "We represent peace, unity and love. A ring of prayer is a wonderful symbol."

With senior officials at St Paul's apparently intent on seeking an injunction to break up the protest, the director of the influential religious thinktank Ekklesia, Jonathan Bartley, said the cathedral's handling of the protest had been a "car crash" and predicted more high-profile resignations from the Church of England.

Occupy LA as a leadership school

October 29 2011

Walking through the Occupy LA encampment the other day, I stopped to listen to a small meeting being held on the north side of city hall. A dozen or more occupiers were discussing how and when to serve food.

A couple of people wanted to post serving hours for the free food. There was intense discussion of varieties of food. One person was a vegan, another, wanting protein, was not. And, naturally, there was the question of who would cook or serve, and whether their assignments should be posted.

“Interesting, isn’t it?” said my friend Art Goldberg, a lawyer who has been protesting since his Berkeley Free Speech Movement days and probably even when he was in elementary school. Goldberg had just finished talking to the group on the best and most humane way to treat the mentally ill in the encampment. He said he stops by Occupy LA every day during breaks in a trial in the nearby courthouse.

“If you’re interested in food service,” I replied, rather sarcastically, indicating that the group’s discussion hadn’t grabbed my attention. He said he thought if I had concentrated more, I would have seen the dialogue wasn’t just about serving food .If I had listened carefully, I would have heard the dynamics of Occupy LA played out on a few levels.

I saw what he meant a few minutes later when a young woman came over to us to thank Goldberg for his remarks on the mentally ill. She had been one of those discussing food. Goldberg talked to her about the need to post schedules and to work out differences that had been evident in the discussion.

Occupy Denver protesters, law enforcement officers clash; 20 arrested

October 30, 2011

In the most violent Saturday in more than a month of Occupy Denver demonstrations and marches, Denver police fired pepper spray and pepper balls at a crowd of protesters in Civic Center and arrested 20 people.

Two of the protesters were held for felony charges after police said an officer was knocked off his motorcycle and other officers were kicked, as they moved into the park to tear down illegal tents.

The first midafternoon confrontation had police and state troopers shoulder-to-shoulder pushing a group of marchers off the state Capitol steps, which is out-of-bounds to protesters without a permit. Some of the Occupy Denver sympathizers then raced to set up tents in Civic Center, where city officials have allowed ongoing food tables and sleeping bags but not sleeping structures.

Protesters there surged around about eight police officers. Other officers responding to calls for help fired the pepper bullets, which resemble paint balls. One protester filming the scene — one of hundreds of cameras documenting police activity — was knocked out of a tree in the melee.

Five people were arrested in the first conflict, before 3 p.m. Hundreds of officers and SWAT members converged on the park, and Broadway was shut down for hours as police and protesters reached a tense stalemate.

Occupy Baltimore hunkered down through Nor’easter

"I'm more worried about the winter than I am the mayor."

October 30, 2011

In the relentless Saturday rain, we visited Occupy Baltimore to see how they were doing after a morning of “wintry mix” (i.e., wet snow) and a night of intermittently pounding rain and temperatures in the high 30s.

Most were apparently huddled in the tents, though a few were out at the food tent, eating donated pizza and talking to passersby.

“It was pretty horrible out here last night,” said William Kutschbach, a Vietnam vet who has been sleeping in the back fountain area at McKeldin Square. Kutschbach said he didn’t get too wet and stays warm with a quilt and a moving blanket.

Kutschbach bummed a light from Vince Rogalski, a research coordinator at Johns Hopkins who has been supporting Occupy, though not sleeping there.

We asked Rogalski if he worries about the city pushing the “occupiers” out, and he gestured toward the windy, rainy scene around him.

“I’m more worried about the winter than I am the mayor,” he said. “We win if we’re here in the spring.”

After Violence in Occupy Oakland, Remembering FDR’s Engagement with Another Occupation

Friday, 10/28/2011

DR engaged with the Bonus Army instead of cracking down. Today’s mayors should take note.

The violence that broke out in Oakland earlier this week and the wounding of Scott Olsen, a Marine veteran, recalls a similar “occupy movement” involving veterans that took place in Washington at the onset of the Great Depression.

In 1932, thousands of unemployed World War I veterans, desperate from lack of work, converged on Washington, mostly by riding the rails, in support of a bill that would have allowed them to receive immediate cash payment of the war service “bonus” they were due in 1945. The veterans called themselves the “Bonus Army” or “Bonus Expeditionary Force.” By the end of May of that year, more than 20,000 had occupied a series of abandoned buildings near the Washington Mall and a sprawling shantytown they built on the Anacostia Flats not far from the Capitol. On June 15, 1932, the House of Representatives passed a bill in favor of the veteran payments, but as both President Hoover and a majority in the Senate opposed it, the “Bonus bill” went down to defeat two days later.

In the wake of this defeat, roughly 15,000 members of the Bonus Army decided that they would continue their occupation as a protest against the government’s decision. By late July, President Hoover decided it was time to clear the city of the protesters, using four troops of cavalry under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. Late in the afternoon of July 28, General MacArthur’s troops — with sabers drawn — cleared the buildings near the Mall. They then fired tear gas among the men, women, and children encamped in Anacostia (many veterans were accompanied by their families); stormed the area on horseback, driving them out; and intentionally burned the shantytown to the ground in the process. More than 1,000 people were injured in the incident and two veterans and one child died.

In attacking the shantytown, MacArthur had exceeded his orders, which were simply to clear the buildings and surround the camp so as to contain it. But this meant little to the public, who were outraged at the treatment the veterans had received at the hands of the government and furious at Hoover for ordering the operation. Hoover, nevertheless, remained publically unrepentant and refused to apologize to the veterans — moves that contributed greatly to his massive loss to Franklin Roosevelt a few months later.

It’s Always Been a Class War

By: Glenn W. Smith
Sunday October 30, 2011

Whenever conservatives get caught with their hands in the till they shout, “Class Warfare!” at those of us who would like to stop their looting. Thinking this a negative, they forget, I guess, that the American democratic experiment was and is just that: a class war.

It has always been about equality vs. aristocracy. It was in the beginning, is now, and will always be. No one has described the class war and the American spirit of equality as well as Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon S. Wood. He recognized equality as America’s home-grown radical philosophy.

Wood wrote:

As early as the 1780s the principal antagonists in the society were no longer patriots vs. courtiers but had become democrats v. aristocrats.

Today’s political and cultural antagonists – progressives vs. conservatives, OWS versus Wall Street – are engaged in the very same battle. It’s muddied up a bit by the agitations of a populist Right, people charmed by hierarchy and the aristocracy’s slight-of-hand into believing their real enemies were those beside them and not the Machiavels above them. But propaganda’s tissue-thin; the reality it presumes to wrap is always visible beneath it – for those who look.

By any measure – political power, income distribution, educational opportunity, access to health care – it’s frighteningly clear that aristocratic anti-egalitarians have been winning. As the suffering caused by their anti-democratic movement becomes more widespread and widely seen, however, they grow ever more nervous. It’s not Wall Street we occupy so much as the fevered nightmares of an embattled elite. They wave their wands still, but the magic deserts them.

7 Billion Is Many Too Many: Time To Humanely Limit Population Growth Is Now

By Steven Earl Salmony
30 October, 2011

Much more intellectual honesty, moral courage and humanistic action is needed. Tomorrow we will become a species of 7 billion overconsumers, overproducers and overpopulaters on a finite and frangible planet where resources are dissipating and environs degrading rapidly. As we observe absolute global human population numbers continue to soar exponentially, despite reduced fertiliy rates in many places, we also recognize that never in the course of human events have so few taken so much from so many and determined to leave so little for others.

During my lifetime, when human numbers explode from less than 2.3+ bn to 7+ bn worldwide, many experts may not have known enough about what they were talking about when they spoke of human population dynamics and all causes of the human overpopulation of Earth. Their research appears not to be scientific, but rather issues from ideological or totalitarian thinking, or from a specious group-think consensus. Their all-too-attractive thinking, as viewed by greedmongers, is willfully derived from what is politically convenient, economically expedient, socially agreeable, religiously tolerable and culturally prescribed. Widely broadcast and long-accepted thinking from an astonishingly large number of so-called experts in the field of population dynamics appears to have an unscientific foundation, and is likely wrong. Their preternatural theorizing about the population dynamics of the human species appears to be both incomplete and misleading. Most disturbing of all, a widely shared and consensually validated theory about a benign “demographic transition” leading to automatic population stabilization a mere four decades from now is directly contradicted by unchallenged scientific research. As a consequence, and it is a pernicious consequence, a woefully inadequate and fundamentally flawed theory has been broadcast during my lifetime and continues to be broadcast everywhere by the mainstream media as if it is not only science but the best available scientific evidence. The implications of this unfortunately dishonest behavior, inasmuch as it appears to be based upon contrived, ideologically-induced logic as well as an undeniable misperception of what could somehow be real regarding the human population, appear profound. This failure of nerve by 'the brightest and the best' has slowed the momentum needed to confront a formidable, human-forced global predicament, one that looms ominously before the human family in our time.

In their elective mutism regarding an incredible error of thought and perception during my life cycle, are first class professional researchers with expertise in population dynamics behaving badly by allowing the “ninety-nine percenters” to be misguided and led down a primrose path by the “one percenters”? The power of silence on the part of knowledgeable human beings with feet of clay is dangerous because research is being denied that appears to shed light upon a dark, non-recursive biological problem, the understanding of which appears vital to future human well being and environmental health. Too many experts appear to be ignoring science regarding the human population. By way of their willful mutism they effectively consent to the leviathan scale and unbridled expansion of global overproduction, overconsumption and overpopulation activities that are being actively pursued as well as silently condoned by greedmongering masters of the universe, the tiny minority among us who are primarily responsible for ravaging the Earth, ruining its environs and reducing its fitness for habitation by the children. If this assessment of human behavior is indeed a fair representation of what is happening on our watch, then the desire to preserve the status quo, mainly the selfish interests of ‘the powers that be’, could be at least one basis for so much intellectually dishonest and morally bereft behavior. Could it be that the outrageous per capita overconsumption, large-scale corporate overproduction and unrestricted overpopulation activities of the human species worldwide cannot continue much longer on a planet with the size, composition and ecology of a finite and frangible planet like Earth?

Portland police arrest 25 Occupy Portland demonstrators overnight

Published: Sunday, October 30, 2011

Twenty-five Occupy Portland demonstrators were arrested early this morning after refusing to leave Jamison Square.

The arrests capped an intense hours-long standoff between police and dozens of protesters who refused to leave the Pearl District park after it was declared closed at midnight. Officers, some in riot gear and others on horses, faced off with protesters who remained in the square, despite being ordered to leave.

Mayor Sam Adams early this morning spoke to reporters at Central Precinct about the arrests, saying while he's been supportive of the movement so far, he disapproved of the protesters' action overnight.

"I look forward to the occupy movement's next phase, next iteration, of really finding a way to act on its mission," Adams said. "This, though, was, I think, an unnecessary confrontation that we tried to minimize."

After the park's closure at midnight, a group of demonstrators remained, facing off with police. Officers used night sticks and horses, shoving people to the south end of the park. A circle of protesters remained seated in the center of the square wearing bandannas over their mouths and making peace signs with their hands. The crowd on the edges of the park, meanwhile, grew increasingly agitated, yelling at police: "Whose park? Our park," and "You guys are bullies!"

The Great Depression Right Outside Our Doors

Posted on Oct 28, 2011

While Occupy Wall Street and similar movements around the country take aim at financial institutions and their political cronies for taking the country into recession, let’s not forget those at the very bottom who were victims of economic depression long before the current collapse.

Connie Rice, a Los Angeles civil rights attorney, writes about their plight in a powerful new book, “Power Concedes Nothing: One Woman’s Quest for Social Justice in America, From the Courtroom to the Kill Zones.” She tells the story of how she and her colleagues have worked to free poor neighborhoods of the evils of gang killings, police brutality, poorly run schools and bad health. They are doing it in a civil rights organization with a hands-on approach called the Advancement Project.

“Our experts fret over a Great Recession but ignore the permanent Great Depression beneath their penthouses,” Rice writes.

Recalling Dr. Martin Luther King’s call for a radical restructuring of our society, Rice says his dream “barely survives 40 years of Southern Strategy race baiting, wrecking-ball destruction of safety nets, failure of public institutions, unhinged greed from our banking and financial sectors, a caste of American untouchables abandoned to prisons and an underground economy increasingly dominated by gangs that grow in power and reach.”

“It was the mission [of the Advancement Project] to make sure our poorest kids also reached the mountaintop that Martin Luther King Jr. glimpsed right before he died—and to sound the alarm that the final cost of their chronic destitution would be our own destruction,” she writes.

The homeless are thrown out with the trash

Occupy protesters are facing homelessness issues as more stringent laws have undermined basic human dignity.
28 Oct 2011

Some of the Occupy Wall Street encampments now spreading across the US have access to "porta-potties" (eg: Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC) or, better yet, restrooms with sinks and running water (as in Fort Wayne, Indiana). Others require their residents to forage for toilet facilities on their own. At Zuccotti Park, just blocks from Wall Street, this means long waits for the restroom at a nearby Burger King - or somewhat shorter queues at a Starbucks a block away. At McPherson Square in DC, a twenty-something occupier showed me the pizza parlour where she can use the facilities during the hours the restaurant is open, as well as the alley she uses late at night. Anyone with restroom-related issues - arising from age, pregnancy, prostate problems or irritable bowel syndrome - should prepare to join the revolution in diapers.

Of course, political protesters do not face the challenges of urban camping alone. Homeless people confront the same issues every day: how to scrape together meals, keep warm at night by covering themselves with cardboard or tarp, and relieve themselves without committing a crime. Public restrooms are sparse in US cities - "as if the need to go to the bathroom does not exist", travel expert Arthur Frommer once observed. And yet to yield to bladder pressure is to risk arrest. A report entitled "Criminalising Crisis", to be released later this month by the National Law Centre on Homelessness and Poverty, recounts the following story from Wenatchee, Washington:

What the Occupy Wall Streeters are beginning to discover, and homeless people have known all along, is that most ordinary, biologically necessary activities are illegal when performed in American streets - not just urinating, but sitting, lying down and sleeping. While laws vary from city to city, one of the harshest is in Sarasota, Florida, which passed an ordinance in 2005 that makes it illegal to "engage in digging or earth-breaking activities" - that is, to build a latrine - cook, make a fire, or be asleep and "when awakened, state that he or she has no other place to live".

It is illegal, in other words, to be homeless or live outdoors for any other reason. It should be noted, though, that there are no laws requiring cities to provide food, shelter or restrooms for their indigent citizens.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Beware of the Secret Police, Under Cover Agents, Red Squads, Narcs and Agent Provocateurs

The various Occupy sites are under attack by the American version of Stasi and the NKVD (secret police aimed a quashing dissent movements).

These vermin pretend to be part of the movement all the while they are engaged in destroying the movement. They lure people into committing felonies like the rat from Austin did with those people during 2008 Republican National Convention.

Just like police agents committed the acts that led to the Hay Market Massacre and the Ludlow Massacre.

They act like narcs, winning your trust only to set you up for crimes you never would have gotten involved in were it not for their seducing you into these crimes.

If you are involved in a demonstration you should be very careful as to what you have in your possession. No drugs or drug paraphernalia. No weapons. You will be charged with a felony and it will be used as an excuse to harm people.

Conservative blogger gives out free bongs to embarrass protesters

By David Edwards
Wednesday, October 26, 2011

James O’Keefe would be proud.

A conservative blogger has been accused of trying to give out marijuana bongs and Che Guevara rolling papers in Zuccotti Park in order to make Occupy Wall Street protesters look criminal.

New York City resident Joey Boots captured video of Evan Coyne Maloney being confronted by protesters after he allegedly tried to pass out the paraphernalia. At one point, Maloney is seen trying to hand a protester a pack of rolling papers with the image of Che Guevara.
One protester who got a peek at Maloney’s prepared questions noted that they were all “anti-liberal.”
“Is Bill Clinton the bad guy?” the protester observed. “Is Barack Obama? Democrats are the bad guy? He’s doing this because he’s going to sell it.”

“I wish I could sell it,” Maloney replied.

“You’re a Fox News guy trying to make us all look bad with your anti-liberal — He just gave out — He’s trying to give people bongs to make us look bad!” the protester shouted. “Over there they gave out bongs. He’s like, ‘You answer, here’s a bong.’ Trying to get that one shot… All [Maloney's assistant] had was bongs, peace signs with marijuana and Che Guevara rolling papers. Three things when Fox News gets it, they’ll just clip that then it’s just like protesters accept it.”

Occupy LA ripped apart by argument over pot-smoking

By Muriel Kane
Friday, October 28, 2011

As the Occupy Los Angeles protesters begin to encounter pressure from a formerly welcoming city administration to think about ending their occupation, the group also appears in danger of being ripped apart from within over the issue of pot-smoking.

The Los Angeles Times commented in a Friday editorial, “Four weeks after protesters converged on the Civic Center, they are wearing out their welcome. Even some of the city’s most liberal politicians, who initially embraced them, are trying to figure out a graceful way of getting them to go home. … But it’s hard to negotiate with a headless group united only by its resentment toward bankers, corporations, Congress, the media and others in positions of power — including the police.”

“It would be best for everybody, including the demonstrators, if the impasse could be resolved without resorting to police in riot gear,” the paper urged. “Another location for the protest should be found, and if the participants are organized enough to put out a joint statement, they’re organized enough to negotiate a peaceful departure.”

An internal mutiny over the issue of pot-smoking, however, has raised doubts as to just how unified the protesters really are, and whether any person or group among them is in a position to negotiate on behalf of the entire occupation.

As described by journalist Natasha Vargas-Cooper, “Around 8 p.m. on Wednesday night, the 300 people who have been occupying the lawn of Los Angeles City Hall for the past three weeks split themselves into two hostile camps.”

She explains that “drug use has been a key conservative talking point used to undermine the various Occupy camps around the country,” but that in Los Angeles, “smoking weed has become a wedge issue dividing the camp into increasingly entrenched groups.”

Occupy Wall Street turns to pedal power

By Muriel Kane
Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street protesters who were left without power after their gas-fueled generators were confiscated by New York City authorities on Friday may have found the idea solution in the form of a stationary bicycle hooked up to charge batteries.

Stephan Keegan of the non-profit environmental group Time’s Up showed off one of the bikes to The Daily News, explaining that OWS’s General Assembly has already authorized payment for additional bikes and that “soon we’ll have ten of these set up and we’ll be powering the whole park with batteries.”

Protester Lauren Minis told CBS New York, “We’ve got five bike-powered generator systems that are coming from Boston and we’ve got five more plus other ones that are going to supplement as well so we’re completely, completely off the grid.”

According to CBS, “Insiders at Occupy Wall Street say they expect to have their media center and the food service area fully powered and illuminated by Monday.”
“We need some exercise,” Keegan explained enthusiastically, “and we’ve got a lot of volunteers, so we should be able to power these, no problem. … We did an energy survey of the whole park, found out how much energy we were using. …. Ten will give us twice as much power.”

Copwatch@Occupy Oakland: Beware of Police Infiltrators and Provocateurs

The Class War Has Begun

As much as I admire Frank Rich he labors under the delusions of the privileged> The class war has been waged against the working people and the poor ever since the founding of this nation.

The United States has never been a class free nation but has always been divided between the class that owns the business/factory/company/bank/corporation and those who work for those people.

America has always been divided between the bosses and the workers. The owners and those who work for the owners.

It doesn't take Karl Marx to show us that. All it takes is for us to open our eyes and turn off the corporate media propaganda machines.

And the very classlessness of our society makes the conflict more volatile, not less.

Published Oct 23, 2011

During the death throes of Herbert Hoover’s presidency in June 1932, desperate bands of men traveled to Washington and set up camp within view of the Capitol. The first contingent journeyed all the way from Portland, Oregon, but others soon converged from all over—alone, in groups, with families—until their main Hooverville on the Anacostia River’s fetid mudflats swelled to a population as high as 20,000. The men, World War I veterans who could not find jobs, became known as the Bonus Army—for the modest government bonus they were owed for their service. Under a law passed in 1924, they had been awarded roughly $1,000 each, to be collected in 1945 or at death, whichever came first. But they didn’t want to wait any longer for their pre–New Deal entitlement—especially given that Congress had bailed out big business with the creation of a Reconstruction Finance Corporation earlier in its session. Father Charles Coughlin, the populist “Radio Priest” who became a phenomenon for railing against “greedy bankers and financiers,” framed Washington’s double standard this way: “If the government can pay $2 billion to the bankers and the railroads, why cannot it pay the $2 billion to the soldiers?”

The echoes of our own Great Recession do not end there. Both parties were alarmed by this motley assemblage and its political rallies; the Secret Service infiltrated its ranks to root out radicals. But a good Communist was hard to find. The men were mostly middle-class, patriotic Americans. They kept their improvised hovels clean and maintained small gardens. Even so, good behavior by the Bonus Army did not prevent the U.S. Army’s hotheaded chief of staff, General Douglas MacArthur, from summoning an overwhelming force to evict it from Pennsylvania Avenue late that July. After assaulting the veterans and thousands of onlookers with tear gas, ­MacArthur’s troops crossed the bridge and burned down the encampment. The general had acted against Hoover’s wishes, but the president expressed satisfaction afterward that the government had dispatched “a mob”—albeit at the cost of killing two of the demonstrators. The public had another take. When graphic newsreels of the riotous mêlée fanned out to the nation’s movie theaters, audiences booed MacArthur and his troops, not the men down on their luck. Even the mining heiress Evalyn Walsh McLean, the owner of the Hope diamond and wife of the proprietor of the Washington Post, professed solidarity with the “mob” that had occupied the nation’s capital.

The Great Depression was then nearly three years old, with FDR still in the wings and some of the worst deprivation and unrest yet to come. Three years after our own crash, we do not have the benefit of historical omniscience to know where 2011 is on the time line of America’s deepest bout of economic distress since that era. (The White House, you may recall, rolled out “recovery summer” sixteen months ago.) We don’t know if our current president will end up being viewed more like Hoover or FDR. We don’t know whether Occupy Wall Street and its proliferating satellites will spiral into larger and more violent confrontations, disperse in cold weather, prove a footnote to our narrative, or be the seeds of something big.

"We Were Peaceful" Occupy Denver Protesters Explain What Happened On Oct 29, 2011

Occupy Columbia: Day 15 South Carolina

I want to thank my friend Daisy Deadhead for posting this on her blog.

The most amazing thing about the Occupy Movement is how organic it is, how it has sprung up every where simultaneously. Even in places the comfortable liberals of the North East and the West Coast have written off.

As I said yesterday, I was very impressed with the Occupy Columbia encampment, which made me sad we have no ongoing Occupation-campsite in Greenville. And as I was grumbling about this state of affairs (NOTE: I really need to learn to stop being so LOUD), I was interviewed by WLXT-TV in Columbia. I shared the fact that working folks can easily come and go when there is a "base camp"--and someone is always on the scene. As noted previously, they had food, water, information, and signs at the ready--as well as places to sit and rest. I was impressed. The racial diversity of the group is a testament to how a long-term encampment can successfully attract a varied group; I also loved the fact that there were young and old people represented, along with dogs, babies, children and curious onlookers.

Unfortunately, I find it rather difficult to make heads or tails of the WLXT website, but I don't think the interviews (and there were several, not just mine) were posted last night. Which is just as well, since I went off on one of my anti-Governor-Haley rants. When informed by my well-mannered interviewer that some people find the Occupation of the State House lawn "alarming"--I went off on a tear, reminding possible phantom-viewers that we paid for it, and therefore, it's ours. Further, if Nikki Haley can invite her mega-rich 1%-friends to stay at the cozy, expensive, taxpayer-funded Governor's mansion on our dime, while they are running for president (and presumably have their own campaign contributions set aside for food and lodging), a few people sleeping outside is NOTHING in comparison.

Let's see the Cost/Benefit Analysis for both, okay?

And maybe that was why I didn't end up on Columbia's CBS affiliate ;) Oh well.

Keep up the good work, Columbia! You are beautiful! I said "I love you!" as I left, and a buncha people chorused, We love you too! right back, as if they were accustomed to hearing it.

They are, and they should be.

Photos of the South Carolina Statehouse encampment and picket below. Yes, that's me (last photo) with the Octopi!

Has America Become an Oligarchy?

The Second Gilded Age

The Occupy Wall Street movement is just one example of the sudden outbreak of tension between America's super-rich and the "other 99 percent." Experts now say the US has entered a second Gilded Age, but one in which hedge fund managers have replaced oil barons -- and are killing the American dream.

By Thomas Schulz

At first, the outraged members of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York were mainly met with ridicule. They didn't seem to stand a chance and were judged incapable of going up against their adversaries, Wall Street's bankers and financial managers, either intellectually or in terms of economic knowledge.

"We are the 99 percent," is the continuing chant of the protestors, who are now in their seventh week of marching through the streets of Manhattan. And, surprisingly, they have hit upon the crux of America's problems with precisely this sentence. Indeed, they have given shape to a development in the country that has been growing more acute for decades, one that numerous academics and experts have tried to analyze elsewhere in lengthy books and essays. It's a development so profound and revolutionary that it has shaken the world's most powerful nation to its core.

Inequality in America is greater than it has been in almost a century. Those fortunate enough to belong to the 1 percent, made up of the super-rich, stand on one side of the divide; the remaining 99 percent on the other. Even for a country that has always accepted opposite extremes as part of its identity, the chasm has simply grown too vast.

Those who succeed in the US are congratulated rather than berated. Resenting other people's wealth is viewed as supporting class struggle, which is something very frowned upon.

Still, statistics indicate that the growing disparity is genuinely overwhelming. In fact, the 400 wealthiest Americans now own more than the "lower" 150 million Americans put together.

Occupy the Nor-easter - Wall Street October 29, 2011

Matthis Chiroux: 'The Status Quo does not reflect Freedom and Liberty anymore'

Street Harassment is Everywhere; What do We Tell Our Daughters?

Posted: 10/29/11

The first time it happened to me, I was nine and an older boy told me he could "do what he wanted" to me in an empty schoolyard. At 12, I was walking on a busy street the first time a man grabbed my arm so he could "take a good look at me." I was 15 the first time a group of guys followed me in their car, in a busy urban area, while they barked and hooted. I was 17 the first time a man flashed me while masturbating in a public place. I'm 45 and it's still going on. And, I'm not alone; 98% of all women report that they experience street harassment.

When my confident, curious, adventurous 12-year-old daughter asked if she could go get ice cream by herself (we live in a city) the first thing that I thought of was how to prepare her to hear:

"Where's my smile, baby?"
"Wanna go for a ride?"

What if she is surprised? Looks down? Doesn't give the guy speaking to her the positive response that he seems to think he's entitled to? What hurtful, explicit things will he then say to put her in her place?

From now on, she'll have to be on alert. How many times will she have to go out of her way, take longer routes, not go certain places, alter her clothes? Not forget to hold her keys poking through her fingers? Not take certain buses, and pay for a cab instead of taking a metro? Take her lighthearted moods and tuck them away behind earphones and fake phone conversations?

How will it make my daughter feel? Powerless? Angry? Sad? Scared? It's stressful and depressing to have to acknowledge the underlying threat of violence, especially in a culture that is dedicated to equality for all, a concept predicated on equal and safe access to public space and free speech. Her loss of innocence will have as much to do with the betrayal of this myth of equality and equal access as with understanding her physical vulnerability.

Oliver Stone on Occupy Wall Street: ‘Grab the Power’

Posted on Oct 28, 2011

The multimedia collaboration between director Oliver Stone and one-man political think tank Tariq Ali began not three years ago, but their creative mind-meld has already produced three projects spanning multiple continents and eras.

Stone gave a talk at Book Soup in Los Angeles last weekend to introduce their latest joint venture, the book “On History: Tariq Ali and Oliver Stone in Conversation,” a deceptively slim volume that delivers a hefty dose of historical analysis and commentary. “On History” is the print-based byproduct of hours of interviews Stone conducted with Ali—covering everything from the Russian Revolution to World War II, the Soviet Union and post-9/11 America—for two documentaries. The first, “South of the Border,” came out in 2009, and the second, a 13-part series with a title that promises more of the sort of provocative stuff Stone is known for, “The Untold History of the United States,” is slated for a 2012 release on Showtime.

Stone sat down to catch up with Truthdig about the book, working with Ali and the many places his own political and professional instincts have taken him. The full interview will air on next week’s edition of Truthdig Radio (that would be Wednesday at 2 p.m. Pacific time on KPFK). We’ll post that broadcast on our site as a podcast too. But in the meantime, here’s a transcript of what Stone had to say about the Occupy Wall Street movement at that particular moment.

Kasia Anderson: I wonder if you have a reaction or any statement about Occupy Wall Street and the movements going on on both the domestic and international levels, feeding into the conversations you and Tariq Ali had for this book.

People & Power - The Koch Brothers

Push for ‘Personhood’ Amendment Represents New Tack in Abortion Fight

Published: October 25, 2011

A constitutional amendment facing voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8, and similar initiatives brewing in half a dozen other states including Florida and Ohio, would declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, effectively branding abortion and some forms of birth control as murder.

With this far-reaching anti-abortion strategy, the proponents of what they call personhood amendments hope to reshape the national debate.

“I view it as transformative,” said Brad Prewitt, a lawyer and executive director of the Yes on 26 campaign, which is named for the Mississippi proposition. “Personhood is bigger than just shutting abortion clinics; it’s an opportunity for people to say that we’re made in the image of God.”

Many doctors and women’s health advocates say the proposals would cause a dangerous intrusion of criminal law into medical care, jeopardizing women’s rights and even their lives.

The amendment in Mississippi would ban virtually all abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest. It would bar some birth control methods, including IUDs and “morning-after pills,” which prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. It would also outlaw the destruction of embryos created in laboratories.

The amendment has been endorsed by candidates for governor from both major parties, and it appears likely to pass, said W. Martin Wiseman, director of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University. Legal challenges would surely follow, but even if the amendment is ultimately declared unconstitutional, it could disrupt vital care, critics say, and force years of costly court battles.

“This is the most extreme in a field of extreme anti-abortion measures that have been before the states this year,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal advocacy group.

How the 99 Percent Really Lost Out - in Far Greater Ways Than the Occupy Protesters Imagine

by: Gar Alperovitz
October 29, 2011

"Property is theft," French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon famously declared in 1840 - a judgment clearly shared by many of those involved in the occupations in the name of the 99 percent around the country, and especially when applied to Wall Street bankers and traders. Elizabeth Warren also angrily points out that there "is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody." Meaning: if the rich don't pay their fair share of the taxes which educate their workers and provide roads, security and many other things, they are essentially stealing from everyone else.

But this is the least of it: Proudhon may have exaggerated when, for instance, we think of a small farmer working his own land with his own hands. But we now know that he was far closer to the truth than even he might have imagined when it comes to how the top 1 percent really got so rich, and why the 99 percent lost out. The biggest "theft" by the 1 percent has been of the primary source of wealth - knowledge - for its own benefit.

Knowledge? Yes, of course, and increasingly so. The fact is, most of what we call wealth is now known to be overwhelmingly the product of technical, scientific and other knowledge - and most of this innovation derives from socially inherited knowledge, at that. Which means that, except for trivial amounts, it was simply not created by the 1 percent who enjoy the lion's share of its benefits. Most of it was created, historically, by society - which is to say, minimally, the other 99 percent.

Take a simple example: In our own time, over many decades, the development of the steel plow and the tractor increased one man's capacity to farm, from a small plot (with a mule and wooden plow) to many hundred acres. What changed over the years to make this possible was a great deal of engineering, steelmaking, chemistry and other knowledge developed by society as a whole.

Mississippi, personhood and the future of the anti-abortion movement

Posted by
October 29, 2011

Earlier this week, Salon’s Irin Carmon generated a lot of conversation with her piece on the “personhood movement”: a burgeoning effort among anti-abortion advocates to amend state constitutions to define life as beginning at conception. Such an amendment could outlaw abortion and may hinder access to birth control or in vitro fertilization.

So far though, no personhood amendment has gotten very close to becoming law. Many don’t get enough signatures to land a ballot initiative, and those that do have failed by double-digit margins. But Carmon thinks that may change when Mississippi votes on a new personhood amendment, Initiative 26, next week. “In the most conservative state in the country, with an energized, church-mobilized grass roots, Mississippi could well be the first state to pass one,” she writes.

One key thing Carmon picked up on in her piece is the relatively fringe role the idea of personhood has played within the anti-abortion movement. I covered the personhood movement for Newsweek in 2008, when Colorado was the first-ever state to vote on such an amendment. The whole campaign was organized by an energetic 21-year-old named Kristi Burton. The anti-abortion establishment, however, was none too thrilled with it. Here’s what I wrote back then:
Burton has not received much support for Amendment 48 from her most natural allies—the country's major pro-life groups. Heavyweights like National Right to Life and Americans United for Life are not backing it. "There are other ways to protect human life that we focus on because we believe they are the most effective," says Clark Forsythe, president of Americans United for Life. Although pro-life leaders generally agree with Burton that life begins at fertilization, they fear a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade would ultimately be slapped down by the Supreme Court—still at least one vote shy of an anti-Roe majority—setting back the movement. "The established pro-life movement feels … we should stop trying to overturn Roe because the time isn't right," says Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative public-interest firm that has advised Amendment 48. "Then there is this huge grassroots movement saying it's immoral not to try and save innocent lives."