Tag Archives: Occupy Wall Street

What YOU Can Do on May Day

POSTED BY ORHAN

May Day is an international day of celebration to honor the labor movement. This year the Occupy movement has made a call for mass action—the May First General Strike (#M1GS): a day without the 99%. Over 115 US cities have organized in solidarity with this call to action.

A general strike is a way to build and demonstrate the power of the people. It’s a way to show this is a system that only exists because we allow it to. If we can withdraw from the system for one day we can use that day to build community and mutual aid. We can find inspiration and faith—not in any leaders or bosses but in each other and in ourselves.

If you are inspired by the day of action but don’t live near any organized events you can still take part. If you can’t strike, take the first step. We can work to shift the balance of power back into the hands of the people little by little in our everyday lives.

Here are some examples to get you thinking:

  1. Move Your Money: If you haven’t already, May Day is as good as any to move your money out of a national, corporate bank into a local bank or credit union. Support your local community and break up the “too big to fail” Wall Street banks that threaten our economic system. Learn more about moving your money here: www.moveyourmoneyproject.org
  2. Have a Potluck: Share a meal with others and and talk about subsidized agriculture and factory farming or make a meal with friends to serve to local homeless people a la Food Not Bombs.
  3. Start a Personal/Community Garden: On May Day, start or pledge to start a personal or community garden. Growing our own food means independence from corporate farms. This is one more way to take your self out of a system bent on keeping us complacent.
  4. Have a Free Store/FairGet together and share your unwanted items with others. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You could be helping someone who was about to go out and buy a (fill in your item here) anyway.
  5. Ride your bike to work/carpool with friends: Ride your bike or arrange a carpool to work. When you do this you are lessening our country’s dependency on outdated, unclean energies.
  6. Screen a Movie: Invite your friends or neighbors over to watch a documentary. After, have a discussion about how it relates to your values or the ideas of Occupy. You can watch political documentaries online at the following links for free:
    http://http://crimethinc.com/movies/

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/category/politics/

    http://www.documentarytube.com/category/political-documentaries
    http://freedocumentaries.org/
  7. Have a Skill Share: Give a free class to share your skills and knowledge. This could be as simple as giving a knitting demonstration or as complex as teaching someone a new language.

We have the power in our hands to change the course of our day to day realities if we are willing to participate and reach out to our neighbors and communities. In the words of Steven Biko, ”the greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” Big business should not be in control of us, we are the many and they are the few.

(Source)

Don’t forget to look for actions in your area here or here.

May Day 2012: a real Labor Day

POSTED BY ORHAN

ImageSpring is in the air, and you know what that means–that’s right, Occupy Wall Street is back, bigger and better than ever! Although actions have been ongoing for several weeks, the first major action will be the worldwide General Strike called for May 1st. From OccupyWallSt.org:

May 1st, also known as International Workers’ Day, is the annual commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, when Chicago police fired on workers during a General Strike for the eight-hour workday. In many countries, May 1st is observed as a holiday. But in the United States, despite the eventual success of the eight-hour-workday campaign, the holiday is not officially recognized.

Now, in response to call-outs from Occupy Los Angeles, Occupy Chicago, Occupy Oakland, and other General Assemblies and affinity groups, the Occupy Movement is preparing to mobilize a General Strike this May 1st in solidarity with struggles already underway to defend the rights of workers, immigrants, and other communities who are resisting oppression. Dozens of Occupations in cities and towns throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia have already endorsed May Day.

To quote the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, who recently called for a national General Strike in Spain on March 29th to protest labor reforms:

For the CNT, the strike on March 29 must be only the beginning of a growing and sustained process of mobilization, one which includes the entire working class and the sectors that are most disadvantaged and affected by the capitalist crisis. This mobilization must put the brakes on the dynamic of constant assaults on our rights, while laying the bases for the recovery and conquest of new social rights with the goal of a deep social transformation.

I’ll be at the NYC action; hope to see you there! I’ll post links and updates as they become available.

America, land of opportunity

POSTED BY ORHAN

Today under headline “As Occupy Wall Street Comes Out of Hibernation, Are Tasers, Mace or Weapon Detection Systems Good Investments?” smallcapnetwork.com spies gold in them thar hills:

As the weather warms up, Occupy Wall Street and various Occupy protesters should be coming out of hibernation to start protesting again but are stocks like TASER International (TASR), Mace Security International (MACE) and View Systems (VSYM) that make various protection devices or identification systems good bets for investors? … law enforcement authorities across the country are no doubt stocking up on tasers and mace in time for the spring and summer Occupy protest seasons. …are TASER, Mace and View Systems safe investments for those of us in the or who want to be in the 1% or should we give these stocks a pass?

A financial overview of the companies follows. There’s only one sour note: the summary states “Investors should be concerned about the potential number of wrongful death lawsuits that TASER International as well as Mace Security International could face”. But really, what’s the risk of a few dead protesters when compared with the opportunity to become a One Percenter?

Republicans on OWS: a preview

POSTED BY ORHAN

This week Frank Luntz, Republican spinmeister extraordinaire, spoke to the Republican Governors Association about how to “frame” Occupy Wall Street to the public.

“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death,” said Luntz. “They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”

Luntz is a master of using language to trigger subtle emotional responses favorable to the speaker, and for years has been directing Republicans in how to effectively spin their message.

Since Republican politicians obediently follow Luntz’s dictates in lockstep, you’ll be hearing these memes from conservatives of all stripes as they spin OWS in the coming days and weeks. The rules are quite instructive, especially since almost all public speech by the political class is generally finessed in the same way. And Luntz is the very best; the Democrats don’t have anybody in his league. In fact, President Obama would do well to ponder rule 6 carefully.

1. Don’t say ‘capitalism.’
“I’m trying to get that word removed and we’re replacing it with either ‘economic freedom’ or ‘free market,’ ” Luntz said. “The public . . . still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we’re seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we’ve got a problem.”

2. Don’t say that the government ‘taxes the rich.’ Instead, tell them that the government ‘takes from the rich.’
“If you talk about raising taxes on the rich,” the public responds favorably, Luntz cautioned. But “if you talk about government taking the money from hardworking Americans, the public says no. Taxing, the public will say yes.”

3. Republicans should forget about winning the battle over the ‘middle class.’ Call them ‘hardworking taxpayers.’
“They cannot win if the fight is on hardworking taxpayers. We can say we defend the ‘middle class’ and the public will say, I’m not sure about that. But defending ‘hardworking taxpayers’ and Republicans have the advantage.” Continue reading

Lobbyist’s plan to undermine OWS

POSTED BY ORHAN

By Jonathan Larsen and Ken Olshansky, MSNBC TV

A well-known Washington lobbying firm with links to the financial industry has proposed an $850,000 plan to take on Occupy Wall Street and politicians who might express sympathy for the protests, according to a memo obtained by the MSNBC program “Up w/ Chris Hayes.”

The proposal was written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford and addressed to one of CLGC’s clients, the American Bankers Association.

CLGC’s memo proposes that the ABA pay CLGC $850,000 to conduct “opposition research” on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct “negative narratives” about the protests and allied politicians. The memo also asserts that Democratic victories in 2012 would be detrimental for Wall Street and targets specific races in which it says Wall Street would benefit by electing Republicans instead. Continue reading

Zuccotti Park raided

POSTED BY ORHAN

NYPD raided Zuccotti Park at 1 AM this morning and cleared it. They destroyed all property, including the library. There were 70+ arrests.

Bertrand Russell, 99 Percenter

POSTED BY ORHAN

Bertrand RussellJohn Reynolds opened a copy of the Selected Writings of Bertrand Russell to this passage from the introduction, written in the 1920s on the eve of the Great Depression:

“It is evident that, in a world where there was leisure and economic security for all, the happiness of all would be greater than that of ninety-nine per cent of the present inhabitants of the planet. Why, then, do the ninety-nine per cent not combine to overcome the resistance of the privileged one per cent?

Reynolds researched the quote, sure the 99 Percent movement was inspired by Russell, but found no connection–it appears the good philosopher, as usual, was just ahead of his time.

An old American tradition: Occupy Washington

In 1932,  unemployed and denied payment of the wartime bonuses they’d been promised, 43,000 WWI veterans from all over the country, calling themselves The Bonus Army, marched on Washington, DC. There, they built and occupied an encampment (from local rubbish) known as Hooverville. Many had their wives and children with them since they were otherwise homeless anyway.

While they were there, the  Senate voted down a bill to pay the bonuses, and the police were ordered in to break up Hooverville, which they did, killing two vets. But when the police raid failed to break up the camp, President Hoover ordered the army in.

At 4:45 p.m., commanded by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, two regiments, supported by six battle tanks commanded by Maj. George S. Patton, formed in Pennsylvania Avenue while thousands of civil service employees left work to line the street and watch. The Bonus Marchers, believing the troops were marching in their honor, cheered the troops until Patton ordered the cavalry to charge them—an action which prompted the spectators to yell, “Shame! Shame!”

Shacks that members of the Bonus Army erected on the Anacostia Flats were left burning after the confrontation with the military.

After the cavalry charged, the infantry, with fixed bayonets and gas . . entered the camps, evicting veterans, families, and camp followers. The veterans fled across the Anacostia River to their largest camp and President Hoover ordered the assault stopped.

However Gen. MacArthur, feeling the Bonus March was a Communist attempt to overthrow the U.S. government, ignored the President and ordered a new attack. Fifty-five veterans were injured and 135 arrested.[9] A veteran’s wife miscarried. When 12-week-old Bernard Myers died in the hospital after being caught in the tear gas attack . . .

During the military operation, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower, later President of the United States, served as one of MacArthur’s junior aides.[14] Believing it wrong for the Army’s highest-ranking officer to lead an action against fellow American war veterans, he strongly advised MacArthur against taking any public role: “I told that dumb son-of-a-bitch not to go down there,” he said later.

This was not the first time MacArthur, a figure of adulation – especially on the right, ignored his Commander in Chief. He did ther same to Truman in the Philippines after WWII. Truman, being Truman, just fired him. If America had ever fallen to a fascist military dictatorship, MacArthur would probably have been the guy at the top.

 

Why Occupy Wall Street? Here’s why.

The surprise $5.00 debit card fee banks recently imposed on their customers is going away.  Bank of American, Sun Trust, JP Morgan Chase and others are now trying to tiptoe off the front pages.

We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee,” David Darnell, the bank’s co-chief operating officer, said in a statement.

JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co last week decided to cancel test programs, while SunTrust Banks Inc and Regions Financial Corp said on Monday they would end monthly charges and reimburse customers.

For most Americans, the fee was a step too far from those ‘job creators’ who earlier wallowed in ugly, amoral behaviors screwing not just us but each other, and sent us into a four year trailspin of a recession that could take as long as a decade to repair.

This time, I think those ‘bankers’ peeked out their windows and were a bit frightened by what they saw.  So I’ll call this a victory for Occupy Wall Streeters around the nation and around the world.

Thomas Friedman (forever the inspiration for the wartime Friedman Unit, or the F.U. for short), reminds us this week about one Citigroup transgression for which they’ve just been fined $285million (chump change these days), a transgression emblematic of the duplicitous and amoral behavior that hurt us all so badly.

. . .  with one hand, Citibank sold a package of toxic mortgage-backed securities to unsuspecting customers — securities that it knew were likely to go bust — and, with the other hand, shorted the same securities — that is, bet millions of dollars that they would go bust.     

According to the SEC complaint:

. . . Citigroup exercised “significant influence” over choosing which $500 million of the $1 billion worth of assets in the deal, and the global bank deliberately chose collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.’s, built from mortgage loans almost sure to fail. According to The Wall Street Journal, the S.E.C. complaint quoted one unnamed C.D.O. trader outside Citigroup as describing the portfolio as resembling something your dog leaves on your neighbor’s lawn. “The deal became largely worthless within months of its creation,” The Journal added. “As a result, about 15 hedge funds, investment managers and other firms that invested in the deal lost hundreds of millions of dollars, while Citigroup made $160 million in fees and trading profits.”

For decades we’ve let them indulge in the worst form of crony capitalism without the rule of law that should govern such institutions. Unbridled greed took hold. And it’s been destroying capitalism. It is anti-capitalist.

Friedman goes on:

. . . .what happened to us? Our financial industry has grown so large and rich it has corrupted our real institutions through political donations. As Senator Richard Durbin. . .  bluntly said in a 2009 radio interview, despite having caused this crisis, these same financial firms “are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they, frankly, own the place.”       

Our Congress today is a forum for legalized bribery. One consumer group using information from Opensecrets.org calculates that the financial services industry spent $2.3 billion on federal campaign contributions from 1990 to 2010, which was more than the health care, energy, defense, agriculture and transportation industries combined.

We can’t afford this any longer.

Indeed we cannot. We now stand witness to the destruction of what it took us 250 years to build.

I don’t see anyone with power stepping up, leaving it up to the people.  And, no matter the tired 1960′s stereotypes the right is so enthralled with, that is why we have Occupy Wall Street.

David went to Occupy Edinburgh

He strolled around and took some pix to give us the flavor of it and now St. Andrews’ Square is where I want to be strolling!  A very civilized gathering, nearly genteel – see how tidy the tents are?

Ahhh, remember the Masters of the Universe?

Such good times, eh Mitt?

Sunday funnies, except not so funny

?? This.

THIS, THIS, THIS. (from Dependable Renegade)

A thousand times, this. From The Reformed Broker, a reality-based One Percenter:

In 2008, the American people were told that if they didn’t bail out the banks, their way of life would never be the same. In no uncertain terms, our leaders told us anything short of saving these insolvent banks would result in a depression to the American public. We had to do it!

At our darkest hour we gave these banks every single thing they asked for. We allowed investment banks to borrow money at zero percent interest rate, directly from the Fed. We gave them taxpayer cash right onto their balance sheets. We allowed them to suspend account rules and pretend that the toxic sludge they were carrying was worth 100 cents on the dollar. Anything to stave off insolvency. We left thousands of executives in place at these firms. Nobody went to jail, not a single perp walk. I can’t even think of a single example of someone being fired. People resigned with full benefits and pensions, as though it were a job well done.

The American taxpayer kicked in over a trillion dollars to help make all of this happen. But the banks didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. The banks didn’t seize this opportunity, this second chance to re-enter society as a constructive agent of commerce. Instead, they went back to business as usual. With $20 billion in bonuses paid during 2009. Another $20 billion in bonuses paid in 2010. And they did this with the profits they earned from zero percent interest rates that actually acted as a tax on the rest of the economy.

Instead of coming back and working with this economy to get back on its feet, they hired lobbyists by the dozen to fight tooth and nail against any efforts whatsoever to bring common sense regulation to the financial industry. Instead of coming back and working with the people, they hired an army of robosigners to process millions of foreclosures. In many cases, without even having the proper paperwork to evict the homeowners.

. . .  but millions of Americans are in a living hell. This is why they’re enraged, this is why they’re assembling, this is why they hate you. Why for the first time in 50 years, the people are coming out in the streets and saying, “Enough.”

Lech Walesa: one of my heroes

Leading his 'mob'

The union organizer who led the movement that overthrew Soviet communism in his native Poland 30 years ago, whose actions signaled the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union, is coming to New York to support Occupy Wall Street.

. . . to show his support for the  Occupy Wall Street protesters.

“How could I not respond,” Walesa told a  Polish newspaper Wednesday. “The thousands of people gathered near Wall Street  are worried about the fate of their future, the fate of their country. This is  something I understand.”

. . . Walesa said “capitalism is in  crisis” and not just in America.

“This is a worldwide problem,” he told  the Lublin-based Dziennik Wschodni newspaper. “The Wall Street protesters have  focused a magnifying glass on the problem.”

. . . A staunch anti-communist and former Polish president who helped steer his  country to a free market economy, Walesa . . .  has warned of a “worldwide  revolt against capitalism” if the Wall St. protests are ignored.

They are  protesting the “unfairness” of an economy that enriches a few and “throws the  people to the curb,” he said in a recent interview.

Wonder if this will make the air?

FOX News poll here

#OccupyWallStreet – Alan Grayson schools P.J. O’Rourke

POSTED BY ORHAN
Grayson superbly summarizes the #OWS grievances. And O’Rourke summarizes what has become the mainstream criticism, from both Left and Right:

Not hippies. Not anarchists. People.

While most media focuses on the dirty f*cking hippies, here’s the emerging face of Occupy Wall Street as it spreads around the country. This is from Thursday, here in SW Florida (another is scheduled for Monday, the 10th).

London is gearing up for the 15th. That one is expected to pretty big. Some promotional posters (h/t David):

Dear MoveOn

POSTED BY ORHAN

Via Reddit

We Are the 1 Percent

POSTED BY ORHAN

Tens of thousands marched through the streets of lower Manhattan Wednesday in support of Occupy Wall Street and to protest the actions of the financial elite that has devastated the lives of so many. The current issue of Orion magazine includes an article by Christopher Ketcham that  draws the connection between the demonstrators and the city they marched in:

Of the twenty-five largest cities, New York is the most unequal city in the United States for income distribution. If it were a nation, it would come in as the fifteenth worst among 134 countries ranked by extremes of wealth and poverty—a banana republic without the death squads.

It is the showcase for the top 1 percent of households, which in New York have an average annual income of $3.7 million. The One Percenters took for themselves close to 44 percent of all income in New York during 2007 (the last year for which data is available).

New York’s wealth concentration is almost twice the record-high levels among the top 1 percent nationwide, who claimed 23.5 percent of all national income in 2007, a number not seen since the eve of the Great Depression.

The number of homeless in the city rose to an all-time high last year with a record 113,000 men, women, and children, many of them comprising whole families, retreating night after night to municipal shelters.

Average workers have been the consistent losers since 1990. The real hourly median wage in New York between 1990 and 2007 fell by almost 9 percent. Young men and women aged twenty-five to thirty-four with a bachelor’s degree and a year-round job in New York saw their earnings drop 6 percent. Middle-income New Yorkers—defined broadly by the FPI as those drawing incomes between approximately $29,000 and $167,000—experienced a 19 percent decrease in earnings.

Almost 11 percent of the population, about 900,000 people, live in what the federal government describes as “deep poverty,” which for a four-person family means an income of $10,500 (the average One Percenter household in New York makes about that same amount every day).

About 50 percent of the households in the city have incomes below $30,000; their incomes have also been steadily declining since 1990. During the boom of 2002–07, the trend was unaltered: the average income in the bottom 95 percent of New York City households declined.

The wealth of the One Percenters derives almost entirely from the operations of the sector known as “financial services,” whose preoccupation is “financial innovation.” The One Percenters draw the top salaries at commercial and investment banks, hedge funds, credit card companies, insurance companies, stock brokerages.

The largest twenty financial institutions in the U.S., almost all of them headquartered in New York, now control upward of 70 percent of the country’s financial assets, roughly double what they controlled in the 1990s.

According to the article, financial innovation is a “socially useless activity”, with “little or no long-term value”, whose purpose is to “merely shift money around” without designing, building, or selling “a single tangible thing.” Financial services once allocated capital for socially useful projects that also created jobs. The goal now is to maximize short-term profit by generating and bursting asset bubbles, hedging carefully to come out ahead no matter the cost to society. Having created a wave of gentrification that devastated manufacturing and made the city unaffordable for most workers, including writers, artists, and musicians, the One Percenter sits atop a cuturally sterile world that “that offers nothing but mass consumption as a prospect for our youth,” that trumpets “contempt for the least powerful in society,” that offers only “outrageous competition of all against all.”

“Outside the constraints of history . . . “

There is some interesting commentary on protest movements from Rich Yeselson at Ezra Klein’s WonkBlog . Yeselson, noting that whatever the movement, it must first conform to our national character, had this which seems a particularly accurate portrait.

Americans–infatuated with the next new thing, and proud to believe they are outside the constraints and burdens of history–love neophytes, gifted amateurs. We’re action-oriented and suspicious of elitist expertise, and we thrill to the idea that anybody with moxie can jump in and deliver a baby or land a 737. Right now, it appears that anti-hierarchical, relatively inexperienced people are “running” the Wall Street protest. And they are doing big demonstrations really well. So far, so good. Anger can beget action. And action itself can be a battering ram that knocks down the doors of history.

We make our own signs

(I say ‘we’, of course, in a solidarity kind of way.)

An observation:

Occupy Together and We Are The 99 make their own signs.

Real Americans

POSTED BY ORHAN

There are now over 130 #Occupying groups nationally. There’s a site to find one nearby or start your own.

I went to Zuccotti Park yesterday afternoon. The energy was different than a demonstration–the people were, well, occupying, not marching. The group was predominantly young, but people of all ages were participating. The area was mobbed with tourists, media (but not MSM), people who work in the area, some jeering, others curious or obviously sympathetic. My sense is that the energy changes from hour to hour.

There were lots of small groups, people working out tactics and strategy; if there’s anything like an organizational focus, the General Assembly is it; the emphasis is on leaderlessness, non-hierarchy, non-violence, consensus-building, giving everyone a voice.

There was a fairly heavy police presence, but the cops appeared laid back; they’re also learning–nothing energizes people like seeing college kids penned and pepper-sprayed.

Right now the people need sleeping bags, blankets, boots, food.

Gimme that old time religion, er, I mean protestin’!

This is what Occupy Wall Street is about. And now that major news outlets have deigned to take notice, it’s growing into a movement.  Invitations to local demonstrations are popping up all over Facebook (I’ve had two invitations just this morning) and this has generated an organizing site here. It gets personal at We Are the 99 Percent.  From there:

UPDATE: Here’s the official site for Occupy Wall Street. And I just found another picture I rather fancy.