Monday, October 31, 2011

Boots Riley: Occupy Oakland Unrest in the streets-General Strike

Chris Hedges: A Master Class in Occupation

A Master Class in Occupation
by Chris Hedges

The park, like other Occupied sites across the country, is a point of integration, a place where middle-class men and women, many highly educated but unschooled in the techniques of resistance, are taught by those who have been carrying out acts of rebellion for the last few years. These revolutionists bridge the world of the streets with the world of the middle class.

“They’re like foreign countries almost, the street culture and the suburban culture,” Friesen says. “They don’t understand each other. They don’t share their experiences. They’re isolated from each other. It’s like Irvine and Orange County [home of the city of Irvine]; the hearsay is that they deport the homeless. They pick them up and move them out. There’s no trying to engage. And it speaks to the larger issue, I feel, of the isolation of the individual. The individual going after their individual pursuits, and this facade of individuality, of consumeristic materialism. This materialism is about an individuality that is surface-deep. It has no depth. That’s translated into communities throughout the country that don’t want anything to do with each other, that are so foreign to each other that there is hardly a drop of empathy between them.”

“This is a demand to be heard,” he says of the movement. “It’s a demand to have a voice. People feel voiceless. They want a voice and participation, a renewed sense of self-determination, but not self-determination in the individualistic need of just-for-me-self. But as in ‘I recognize that my actions have effects on the people around me.’ I acknowledge that, so let’s work together so that we can accommodate everyone.”

Friesen says that digital systems of communication helped inform new structures of communication and new systems of self-governance.

“Open source started out in the ’50s and ’60s over how software is used and what rights the user has over the programs and tools they use,” he says. “What freedoms do you have to use, modify and share software? That’s translated into things like Wikipedia. We’re moving even more visibly and more tangibly into a real, tangible, human organization. We modify techniques. We use them. We share them. We decentralize them. You see the decentralization of a movement like this.”

Revolutions need their theorists, but such upheavals are impossible without hardened revolutionists like Friesen who haul theory out of books and shove it into the face of reality. The anarchist Michael Bakunin by the end of the 19th century was as revered among radicals as Karl Marx. Bakunin, however, unlike Marx, was a revolutionist. He did not, like Marx, retreat into the British Library to write voluminous texts on preordained revolutions. Bakunin’s entire adult life was one of fierce physical struggle, from his role in the uprisings of 1848, where, with his massive physical bulk and iron determination, he manned barricades in Paris, Austria and Germany, to his years in the prisons of czarist Russia and his dramatic escape from exile in Siberia.

Bakunin had little time for Marx’s disdain for the peasantry and the lumpenproletariat of the urban slums. Marx, for all his insight into the self-destructive machine of unfettered capitalism, viewed the poor as counterrevolutionaries, those least capable of revolutionary action. Bakunin, however, saw in the “uncivilized, disinherited, and illiterate” a pool of revolutionists who would join the working class and turn on the elites who profited from their misery and enslavement. Bakunin proved to be the more prophetic. The successful revolutions that swept through the Slavic republics and later Russia, Spain and China, and finally those movements that battled colonialism in Africa and the Middle East as well as military regimes in Latin America, were largely spontaneous uprisings fueled by the rage of a disenfranchised rural and urban working class, and that of dispossessed intellectuals. Revolutionary activity, Bakunin correctly observed, was best entrusted to those who had no property, no regular employment and no stake in the status quo. Finally, Bakunin’s vision of revolution, which challenged Marx’s rigid bifurcation between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, carved out a vital role for these rootless intellectuals, the talented sons and daughters of the middle class who had been educated to serve within elitist institutions, or expected a place in the middle class, but who had been cast aside by society. The discarded intellectuals—unemployed journalists, social workers, teachers, artists, lawyers and students—were for Bakunin a valuable revolutionary force: “fervent, energetic youths, totally déclassé, with no career or way out.” These déclassé intellectuals, like the dispossessed working class, had no stake in the system and no possibility for advancement. The alliance of an estranged class of intellectuals with dispossessed masses creates the tinder, Bakunin argued, for successful revolt. This alliance allows a revolutionary movement to skillfully articulate grievances while exposing and exploiting, because of a familiarity with privilege and power, the weaknesses of autocratic, tyrannical rule.

To Read the Entire Essay

Meet the 0.01 Percent: War Profiteers

More on War Costs

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sam Anderson: The Fierce Imagination of Haruki Murakami

The Fierce Imagination of Haruki Murakami
By Sam Anderson
The New York Times


I asked Murakami if he intended to write such a big book. He said no: that if he’d known how long it would turn out to be, he might not have started at all. He tends to begin a piece of fiction with only a title or an opening image (in this case he had both) and then just sits at his desk, morning after morning, improvising until it’s done. “1Q84,” he said, held him prisoner for three years.

This giant book, however, grew from the tiniest of seeds. According to Murakami, “1Q84” is just an amplification of one of his most popular short stories, “On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning,” which (in its English version) is five pages long. “Basically, it’s the same,” he told me. “A boy meets a girl. They have separated and are looking for each other. It’s a simple story. I just made it long.”

“1Q84” is not, actually, a simple story. Its plot may not even be fully summarizable — at least not in the space of a magazine article, written in human language, on this astral plane. It begins at a dead stop: a young woman named Aomame (it means “green peas”) is stuck in a taxi, in a traffic jam, on one of the elevated highways that circle the outskirts of Tokyo. A song comes over the taxi’s radio: a classical piece called the “Sinfonietta,” by the Czechoslovakian composer Leos Janacek — “probably not the ideal music,” Murakami writes, “to hear in a taxi caught in traffic.” And yet it resonates with her on some mysterious level. As the “Sinfonietta” plays and the taxi idles, the driver finally suggests to Aomame an unusual escape route. The elevated highways, he tells her, are studded with emergency pullouts; in fact, there happens to be one just ahead. These pullouts, he says, have secret stairways to the street that most people aren’t aware of. If she is truly desperate she could probably manage to climb down one of these. As Aomame considers this, the driver suddenly issues a very Murakami warning. “Please remember,” he says, “things are not what they seem.” If she goes down, he warns, her world might suddenly change forever.

She does, and it does. The world Aomame descends into has a subtly different history, and there are also — less subtly — two moons. (The appointment she’s late for, by the way, turns out to be an assassination.) There is also a tribe of magical beings called the Little People who emerge, one evening, from the mouth of a dead, blind goat (long story), expand themselves from the size of a tadpole to the size of a prairie dog and then, while chanting “ho ho” in unison, start plucking white translucent threads out of the air in order to weave a big peanut-shaped orb called an “air chrysalis.” This is pretty much the baseline of craziness in “1Q84.” About halfway through, the book launches itself to such rarefied supernatural heights (a levitating clock, mystical sex-paralysis) that I found myself drawing exclamation points all over the margins.

For decades now, Murakami has been talking about working himself up to write what he calls a “comprehensive novel” — something on the scale of “The Brothers Karamazov,” one of his artistic touchstones. (He has read the book four times.) This seems to be what he has attempted with “1Q84”: a grand, third-person, all-encompassing meganovel. It is a book full of anger and violence and disaster and weird sex and strange new realities, a book that seems to want to hold all of Japan inside of it — a book that, even despite its occasional awkwardness (or maybe even because of that awkwardness), makes you marvel, reading it, at all the strange folds a single human brain can hold.

I told Murakami that I was surprised to discover, after so many surprising books, that he managed to surprise me again. As usual, he took no credit, claiming to be just a boring old vessel for his imagination.

“The Little People came suddenly,” he said. “I don’t know who they are. I don’t know what it means. I was a prisoner of the story. I had no choice. They came, and I described it. That is my work.”

I asked Murakami, whose work is so often dreamlike, if he himself has vivid dreams. He said he could never remember them — he wakes up and there’s just nothing. The only dream he remembers from the last couple of years, he said, is a recurring nightmare that sounds a lot like a Haruki Murakami story. In the dream, a shadowy, unknown figure is cooking him what he calls “weird food”: snake-meat tempura, caterpillar pie and (an instant classic of Japanese dream-cuisine) rice with tiny pandas in it. He doesn’t want to eat it, but in the dream world he feels compelled to. He wakes up just before he takes a bite.

On our second day together, Murakami and I climbed into the backseat of his car and took a ride to his seaside home. One of his assistants, a stylish woman slightly younger than Aomame, drove us over Tokyo on the actual elevated highway from which Aomame makes her fateful descent in “1Q84.” The car stereo was playing Bruce Spring­steen’s version of “Old Dan Tucker,” a classic piece of darkly surrealist Americana. (“Old Dan Tucker was a fine old man/Washed his face in a frying pan/Combed his hair with a wagon wheel/And died with a toothache in his heel.”)

As we drove, Murakami pointed out the emergency pullouts he had in mind when he wrote that opening scene. (He was stuck here in traffic, he said, just like Aomame, when the idea struck him.) Then he undertook an existentially complicated task: he tried to pinpoint, very precisely, on the actual highway, the spot where the fictional Aomame would have climbed down into a new world. “She was going from Yoga to Shibuya,” he said, looking out the car window. “So it was probably right here.” Then he turned to me and added, as if to remind us both: “But it’s not real.” Still, he looked back through the window and continued as if he were describing something that had actually happened. “Yes,” he said, pointing. “This is where she went down.” We were passing a building called the Carrot Tower, not far from a skyscraper that looked as if it had giant screws sticking into it. Then Murakami turned back to me and added, as if the thought had just occurred to him again: “But it’s not real.”

To Read the Entire Article

Occupy Oakland: The People Come Out to Rally in Response to Police Brutality

Christina Buckner: Occupy Oakland last night, following the brutal, unnecessarily violent attacks by the police the previous day. the power of the people is stronger than tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash canisters. unfortunately, Scott Olsen, who was shot in the head by a rubber bullet is still in the ICU.


Occupy Oakland: General Strike Mass & Mass Day Action on November 2nd

Marines to Oakland Police: You Did This To My Brother

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Statement by Resist and Multiply in NYC: Beyond Wall Street

Statement by Resist and Multiply in NYC: Beyond Wall Street
Gathering Forces


What are people so upset about?

People wonder what the protesters at Wall Street stand for because everyone seems to have a different answer. However, the only reason the movement has been able to stay alive this long, and even grow, is because the protesters agree: The society we live in works to benefit a very small few at the expense of the majority. The problem is not based on greedy individuals in power, but rather the whole capitalist structure. Even if we agree that this is the problem, our solutions are different because the system is complex and affects all of us differently.

Capitalism is the reason we’re in debt, unemployed, and struggling to pay rent. But capitalism also affects the way we think about ourselves and the way we relate to each other. Most of us have been told over and over again that rich people are rich because they work hard; that we need to look out for “number 1” in order to succeed like them. But living this way makes us feel like shit. It destroys our sense of community and meaning in life, and we feel apart from our neighbors, co-workers, and classmates. We feel alienated.

The thing that unifies Wall Street protesters is the opportunity to overcome this alienation through experiences of shared social responsibility through collective decision making and based on achieving a better future. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.

To Read the Entire Statement

Monday, October 24, 2011

English 102 Students on What Are The Most Important Issues of the Day

(If there is not a number = 1 vote)

Agriculture 2
Animals/Wildlife 6
Arts/Culture 4
Asteroid Hitting Earth
Bullying 2
Capitalism (problems of)
Cars 2
Child Abuse
Children/Youth 4
Child Soldiers
Civil Rights/Human Rights 5
Class Issues 2
Corruption (politics) 3
Death Penalty
Democracy 4
Developing Countries
Diet/Dietary Supplements/Vitamins 2
Drug Cartels
Drugs 6
Eating Disorders
Economy 4
Education 14
Elections/Campaigns (reform) 3
Entertainment/Pop Culture 2
Environment 5
Evolution 2
Family 7
Food/Nutrition 8
Freedom 6
Gas/Oil 3
Global Issues 6
Global Warming/Climate Change 3
Government (reform) 5
Green Movement 3
Gun Control
Harry Potter
Health/Healthcare 11
Hunger 2
Illuminati/Free Masons
Internet/Computers 2
Israeli/Palestine Conflict
Jobs/Unemployment 6
Kidnapping Rings
Legal System (reform) 2
Libya 2
Marriage 2
Media 4
Media Violence
Military 4
Money 4
Morals/Values/Character/Ethics 4
Mountain Top Removal
Music 3
NASA (Funding)
National Security Agency (NSA)
Nature vs Nurture
Occupy Wall Street Movement 5
Party Politics
Patriot Act
Pharmaceutical Companies
Police (brutality/corruption) 3
Politics 3
Population (too much) 2
Poverty 4
Privacy 2
Prisons (Privatization)
Prisoners (mistreatment) 2
Racism 3
Recycling 3
Red Bracelet Fiasco
Religion 8
Reputation/Respect 3
Science 3
Self Harm Awareness
Selling Unborn Babies
Social Life
Social Security 2
Standardized Testing
Steve Jobs
Surveillance Society
Technology 2
Treatment of Prisoners
US Foreign Policy 3
Video Games
Violence 2
Wall Street
War 9
Water 3
Wealth Distribution
Women 3
Yellowstone Super Volcano

N + 1: Occupy! Gazette

Read Our New Gazette
N + 1

We’re pleased to announce that Occupy! An OWS-Inspired Gazette is now available for download.

With the help of Astra Taylor (Examined Life; Zizek!) and Sarah Leonard of Dissent, we’ve put together a history, both personal and documentary, and the beginning of an analysis of the first month of the occupation. Articles deal with the problem of the police; the history of the “horizontalist” management structure at OWS; how to keep a live-in going when what you’ve tried to shut down refuses to shut down (like Harvard, or Wall Street); on whether the Fed should be abolished; on where that Citibank arrest video came from; on occupations in Oakland, Philadelphia, Atlanta; on what happens next; and more.

It’s an attempt to begin to think through what is happening, written by people both on the ground and across the river. We hope you’ll read it and discuss it with us. There’s a lot more thinking and doing to do.

To Download the Occupy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thom Hartmann: Introduction to Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights

Unequal Protection: Introduction
Thom Hartmann

From the introduction to Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights.


It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe people are really good at heart.

- Anne Frank, from her diary, July 15, 1944

This book is about the difference between humans and the corporations we humans have created. The story goes back to the birth of the United States, even the birth of the Revolution. It continues through the writing of the Constitution and Bill of Rights in the 1780s, and reaches its first climactic moment 100 years later, after the Civil War. The changes that ensued from that moment continue into the 21st century, where the results continue to unfold. And very few citizens of the world are unaffected.

In another sense, this book is about values and beliefs: how our values are reflected in the society we create, and how a society itself can work, or not work, to reflect those values.

Intentions and culture

A culture is a collection of shared beliefs about how things are. These beliefs are associated with myths and histories that form a self-reinforcing loop, and the collection of these beliefs and histories form the stories that define a culture. Usually unnoticed, like the air we breathe, these stories are rarely questioned. Yet their impact can be enormous.

For example, for six to seven thousand years, since the earliest founding of what we call modern culture, there were the stories that “it’s okay to own slaves, particularly if they are of a different race or tribe,” and “women should be the property of, and subservient to, men.”

But as time goes on, circumstances and cultures change: beliefs are questioned and aren’t useful begin to fall away. This book will raise questions about some of our shared beliefs, asking, as many cultures have asked throughout history: “Do we want to keep this belief, or change to something that works better for us?”

The story of corporate personhood

Here we find the nub of this book, continuing a theme in my earlier writings. In The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, I identified those stories (among others), and suggested that true cultural change comes about when we first wake up to our own self-defeating beliefs…and then go about changing them. I also pointed out that the story that “we are separate and different from the natural world” is a toxic one, brought to us by Gilgamesh, then Aristotle, then Descartes, and it no longer serves us well.

In The Prophet’s Way, I detailed how the story that “we are separate from divinity or consciousness” can perpetuate a helplessness and a form of spiritual slavery that’s not useful for many individual humans or the planet as a whole. Mystics tell us a different story through the ages - the possibility of being personally connected to divinity. I suggested that, for many people, the mystic’s story could be far more empowering and personally useful.

And in my books on Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD), I suggested that neurologically different children are actually a useful asset to our culture (using Edison, Franklin, and Churchill as classic examples), and that we do ourselves a disservice - and we wound our children in the process - by telling them they have a “brain disorder” and tossing them into the educational equivalent of the trash basket. (And the most recent studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Mental Health are explicitly backing up my position.[i])

In Unequal Protections I’m visiting with you the stories of democracy and corporate personhood - ones whose histories I only learned in detail while researching this book. (It’s amazing what we don’t learn in school!) Corporate personhood is the story that a group of people can get together and organize a legal fiction (that’s the actual legal term for it) called a corporation - and that agreement could then have the rights and powers given living, breathing humans by modern democratic governments. Democracy is the story of government of, by, and for the people; something, it turns out, that is very difficult to have function well in the same realm as corporate personhood.

A new but highly contagious story

Unlike the cultural stories I’ve written about earlier, this last story is more recent. Corporate personhood tracks back in small form to Roman times when groups of people authorized by the Caesars’ organized to engage in trade. It took a leap around the year 1500 with the development of the first Dutch and then other European trading corporations, and then underwent a series of transformations in the United States of America in the 19th Century whose implications were every bit as world-changing as the institutionalization of slavery and the oppression of women in the holy books had been thousands of years earlier.

And, in a similar fashion to the Biblical endorsement of slavery and oppression of women, this story of corporate personhood - which only came fully alive in the 1800s - was highly contagious: it has spread across most of the world in just the past half-century. It has - literally - caused some sovereign nations to rewrite their constitutions, and led others to sign treaties overriding previous constitution protections of their human citizens.

To Read the Rest of the Introduction

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Listening Post: Egyptian media: In its new rulers' grip?

Egyptian media: In its new rulers' grip?
Listening Post (Al Jazeera)

Clashes in Cairo and once again the media's reporting becomes an issue. Also, the media narrative in post-war Sri Lanka.

On October 9, violence broke out on the streets of Cairo again. This time it was not between pro-democracy reformists and supporters of Hosni Mubarak, the country's former president, but between Coptic Christians and the armed forces.

After the overthrow of the Mubarak regime eight months ago, Egyptians hoped for changes in the country's news outlets - especially the state broadcaster. But coverage of the violence on al-Masriya, the state-funded channel, was less journalistic than it was propagandistic. Even before the clashes, Egyptian journalists were saying that government control of the media is worse now, under military rule, than it was under Hosni Mubarak.

Our News Divide this week looks at whether the only thing that has changed on the Egyptian airwaves is where the media owes its allegiances.

In our News Bytes this week: To mark the 15th anniversary of Fox News the network’s owner and president appear on Fox & Friends. But at a less festive event - the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations – a Fox News reporter gets a frosty reception; CNN’s Business Correspondent gets criticised for her twitter postings about the Wall Street protests; One of the most popular TV shows in China has been taken off the air in a move that observers say is political and an online tirade shows, not only the stresses of being a freelance journalist but the perils of twitter as well.

One of the consequences of war is that even after the fighting stops media freedom remains precarious.That is what it is like in Sri Lanka more than two years after its Sinhalese-led government declared victory in its 26-year-long civil war with the separatist forces of the Tamil Tigers.

During the war – especially towards the end – the government denied the media access to the war zone. Government rhetoric at the time was, “you are either with us, or against us”. Now, after the war that sentiment has continued and has been directed particularly at the media.

Journalists investigating what happened during last days of the war, or even looking into more mundane stories alleging government corruption or wrongdoing still find themselves working in dangerous territory. The Listening Post’s Meenakshi Ravi looks at the media environment in post-war Sri Lanka and the ongoing struggle in which journalists find themselves, in reporting on the government.

One of the first YouTube videos to go truly viral was from an American comedian and motivational speaker. It was called the Evolution of Dance and charted 50 years of popular dance routines in six minutes, racking up more than 182 million hits online. Now the Viral Factory, a UK-based promotions company, has updated that formula and charted 100 years of dance, music and fashion in 100 seconds.

To Watch the Episode

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Standard Operating Procedure (USA: Errol Morris, 2008)

This is an archive for students -- suggestions of other sources are always appreciated.

Standard Operating Procedure (USA: Errol Morris, 2008: 116 mins)

Andrews, David. "Reframing Standard Operating Procedure: Errol Morris and the creative treatment of Abu Ghraib." Jump Cut #52 (Summer 2010)

Aradillas, Aaron and Matt Zoller Seitz. "5 on 24: A Five Part Video Essay on the Real Time Action Series. Moving Image Source (May 18, 2010)

Burris, Gregory A. "Shocked and Awed?: Hostel and the Spectacle of Self-Mutilation." Cine-Action #80 (2010)

Butler, Judith. "Torture and the Ethics of Photography." Environment and Planning D: Society and Space #25 (2007): 951 - 966.

Cockrell, Eddie. "Directors of the Year: Errol Morris." International Film Guide: 2005. ed. Daniel Rosenthal. Los Angeles: Silman James Press, 2005: 24-31.

Dunn, Timothy. "Torture, Terrorism, and 24: What Would Jack Bauer Do?." Homer Simpson Goes to Washington: American Politics Through Popular Culture." ed. Joseph Foy. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 2008: 171-184. [Available in BCTC Library JK 31 H85 2008]

Fletcher, Phoebe. “Fucking Americans”: Postmodern Nationalisms in the Contemporary Splatter Film #18 (December 2009)

Hersch, Seymour M. "Torture at Abu Ghraib: American soldiers brutalized Iraqis. How far up does the responsibility go?" The New Yorker (May 10, 2004)

Hilden, Julie. "Free Speech and the Concept of "Torture Porn": Why are Critics So Hostile to Hostel II?" Find Law (July 16, 2007)

Kleinhans, Chuck. "Imagining Torture." Jump Cut #51 (Spring 2009)

Kleinhans, Chuck, John Hess and Julia Lesage. "The Last Word: Torture and the National Imagination." #50 (Summer 2008)

Lesage, Julie. "Torture Documentaries." Jump Cut #51 (Spring 2009)

Murray, Gabrielle. "Images of Torture, Images of Terror: Post 9/11 and the Escalation of Screen Violence." Monash University Film and TV Studies (Podcast of a Lecture: March 20, 2008)

Nichols, Bill. "Feelings of revulsion and the limits of academic discourse." Jump Cut #52 (Summer 2010)

Rosler, Martha. "A Simple Case for Torture." Jump Cut #51 (Spring 2009)

Torture (Archive on Dialogic: The culture and politics of "torture.")

Williams, Linda. "“Cluster Fuck”: The Forcible Frame in Errol Morris’s Standard Operating Procedure." Jump Cut #52 (Summer 2010)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bluegrass Community and Technical College: October 21, John Henry Gonzalez Duque co-founder of Movimiento Campesino de Cajibio

(Extra credit opportunity for all of my students: attend, listen, engage, write a response of at least 500 words and post on your blog)

Witness for Peace presents
co-founder of Movimiento Campesino de Cajibio
with translator Carlos Cruz

After studying for the priesthood with Franciscan Friars, in 1990 John Henry helped found MCC (Movimiento Campesino de Cajibio, or Small-Scale Farmers Movement of Cajibio). MCC addresses issues such as human rights violations, armed conflict, coca production, the need for agrarian reform, and the effects of free trade on small farmers. John Henry has represented MCC in numerous human rights initiatives and participated in a variety of direct action campaigns, including a debate with the President of Colombia followed by a march of 50,000 people to the capital. In one initiative, MCC analyzed the effects of large-scale monocultural crop production by multinational corporations which threatened water quality, food security, and land ownership. This work resulted in death threats to MCC personnel, including John Henry. In another initiative, MCC accompanied small-scale farmers to a meeting with the national government to voice community proposals for voluntary coca eradication and alternative development projects. Currently, MCC is working to limit the harm of Colombia’s prolonged internal conflict on innocent civilians, and MCC recently led an action that included representatives from the United Nations.

Friday, October 21, 2011:
12:30-1:30 pm: Oswald Auditorium (230 OB) BCTC—Cooper Campus. Parking enforcement is off.
Presentation is free and open to the public.

Films We Would Like To See #11: The Kingdom of Survival (Germany/USA: Mark A. Littler, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Michael at Occupy Amsterdam (Day 2)

(and he name checks Occupy Lexington!)

Chris Hedges in Times Square, October 15, 2011: Global Day of Occupation

Democracy Now: Global Days of Rage: Hundreds of Thousands March Against Inequity, Big Banks, as Occupy Movement Grows; Danny Glover, Cornel West Speak Out at Occupy Protests as MLK Memorial is Dedicated in D.C.; Times Square Taken Over as Occupy Wall Street Enters Second Month, Hundreds Arrested Across Country

Democracy Now

Global Day of Rage: Hundreds of Thousands March Against Inequity, Big Banks, as Occupy Movement Grows

From Buenos Aires to Toronto, Kuala Lumpur to London, hundreds of thousands of people rallied on Saturday in a global day of action against corporate greed and budget cutbacks, demanding better living conditions and a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources. Protests reportedly took place in 1,500 cities, including 100 cities in the United States—all in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement that launched one month ago in New York City. We go to Athens for a report from a protest at Syntagma Square against austerity measures and corporate greed, speak to an activist in Rome where 200,000 rallied, and go to Japan for a report on the Occupy Tokyo demonstration. We also air excerpts of a speech by Julian Assange of WikiLeaks at Occupy London Stock Exchange.

Danny Glover, Cornel West Speak Out at Occupy Protests as MLK Memorial is Dedicated in D.C.

In the United States, police arrested hundreds of people over the weekend at demonstrations and occupations inspired by Occupy Wall Street. Arrest totals include: 175 in Chicago; 100 in Arizona; 92 in New York City; 19 in Raleigh, North Carolina; 19 in Denver; and 19 in Washington, D.C., including Princeton University Professor Cornel West, on the steps of the Supreme Court. West was arrested shortly after attending the dedication ceremony for the new Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. At the dedication, President Obama said, "It is right for us to celebrate Dr. King’s marvelous oratory, but it is worth remembering that progress did not come from words alone. Progress was hard. Progress was purchased through enduring the smack of billy clubs and the blast of fire hoses. It was bought with days in jail cells and nights of bomb threats." We also go to California, where actor and activist Danny Glover addressed Occupy Oakland.

Times Square Taken Over as Occupy Wall Street Enters Second Month, Hundreds Arrested Across Country

It was a month ago today that Occupy Wall Street began in Manhattan’s Financial District. The protest encampment based at Zuccotti Park remains and continues to grow despite last week’s threatened eviction by the City of New York. On Saturday, thousands of protesters marched from Zuccotti Park to Times Square, the heart of New York’s media, tourism and entertainment district. Earlier in the day, about two dozen people were arrested at a Citibank in Lower Manhattan while they attempted to take their money out of the bank. We speak to Ryan Devereaux, a Democracy Now! reporter who has been closely following the Occupy Wall Street movement. We also speak with Julie Gonzales, director of organizing for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, about the Occupy Denver protests.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Michael Dean Benton: A nation starts to mobilize -- Something’s happening here

A nation starts to mobilize: Something’s happening here
By Michael Dean Benton
North of Center

The question that must be asked is whether we are witnessing the birth of a new social movement in America. As I am writing this article Occupy Wall Street is starting Day 25 and it is spreading on a national and global scale. There are now Occupations and Meetups in 1359 cities operating in solidarity with the protesters in New York City. (You can find lists of current Occupations across the globe at Occupy Together). Occupy Lexington was the third city to organize an Occupation when a few protesters gathered on September 29 at noon in front of the Downtown JP Morgan Chase Bank plaza.

I first heard about the plans for the occupation of Wall Street from Adbusters’ editor and writer Micah White in July of 2011. Soon afterward, I saw the ads of a ballerina doing a pirouette on top of the iconic Wall Street bull statue appearing in the magazine’s September 2011 “Post-Anarchism” issue and in various announcements from activist groups.

Slowly people started discussing the possibilities of the occupation through emails, in person, and on forums.

Global roots: Looking east, south and west

Where, then, did the inspiration for the Occupy Wall St. and the solidarity protests arise from? Perhaps the most electrifying moment was the Arab Spring of 2011 which seemed to happen spontaneously across the Middle East and North Africa, with predominantly young people taking the forefront of these movements to challenge authoritarian dictatorships. Their embrace of social media, which had been viewed with suspicion by many cultural critics in the West, demonstrates that effective social movement organizing is possible through social media technologies. The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as the courageous challenges of young protesters in the face of draconian measures in all of the regional protests, inspired people around the world.

Another primary inspiration was the Spanish acampadas (camping, or temporary encampment) that began out of disgust for electoral politics as usual in Spain and continued to spread and grow as the politics of occupying urban spaces interweaved with networking through social media. Beginning with several hundred people on May 15, the Spanish occupations increased into the thousands by the time of the May 25 elections and continues still today. These acampadas provided a model for the Occupy Wall Street protests with their emphasis on occupying urban spaces through festive gatherings. Their emphasis on peaceful protesting, consensus decision-making, leaderless movements (or better yet an emphasis on autonomy, whereby all have the capabilities/responsibility to lead) and a push for Democracia Real Ya can be seen in the current Occupy protests.

Although not as often cited as direct influences, but no doubt significant, were the various Latin American campesino land movements and the dramatic, successful, 2000 Cochabamba resistance of citizens against foreign companies attempting to privatize and control all water resources in Bolivia.

To Read the Rest of the Essay

Thursday, October 13, 2011

EMERGENCY CALL TO ACTION: Keep Bloomberg and Kelly From Evicting Occupy Wall Street

EMERGENCY CALL TO ACTION: Keep Bloomberg and Kelly From Evicting #OWS
Occupy Wall Street

Prevent the forcible closure of Occupy Wall Street

Tell Bloomberg: Don't Foreclose the Occupation.


This is an emergency situation. Please take a minute to read this, and please take action and spread the word far and wide.

Occupy Wall Street is gaining momentum, with occupation actions now happening in cities across the world.

But last night Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD notified Occupy Wall Street participants about plans to “clean the park”—the site of the Wall Street protests—tomorrow starting at 7am. "Cleaning" was used as a pretext to shut down “Bloombergville” a few months back, and to shut down peaceful occupations elsewhere.

Bloomberg says that the park will be open for public usage following the cleaning, but with a notable caveat: Occupy Wall Street participants must follow the “rules”.

NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has said that they will move in to clear us and we will not be allowed to take sleeping bags, tarps, personal items or gear back into the park.

This is it—this is their attempt to shut down #OWS for good.

To Read the Rest of the Statement and To Read About Ways to Take Direct Action

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Michael Dean Benton: If a Tree Falls -- Enforcing the Green Scare

If a Tree Falls: Enforcing the Green Scare
By Michael Dean Benton
North of Center

Curry Marshall, with a degree in Comparative Religion from Swarthmore College and experience as a senior producer at a New York multimedia design firm, got his start in filmmaking by shooting, directing and editing the 2005 documentary Street Fight. The documentary followed the grassroots, underdog candidate Cory Booker’s attempt to unseat Sharpe James, the longtime mayor of Newark, NJ. Marshall impressed audiences and critics with his dogged determination to cover the campaign despite James’ attempt to control all media coverage of his public appearances. The film, which ran as part of a series on PBS and was later recognized with both an Oscar and Emmy nomination, remains an essential document of an actual grassroots campaign running against entrenched party machine politics.

Marshall’s newest documentary, made with cinematographer and co-director Sam Cullman, If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (2011) tells the complex story of environmental Earth Liberation Front activist Daniel McGowan, who faced life in prison for his participation in the burning of two timber facilities. The film has received Best Documentary awards at multiple film festivals, and a Best Documentary Editing Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

Just as Street Fight is essential viewing for grassroots campaigners seeking to intervene in entrenched local power structures, If a Tree Falls is a vital film for committed environmental activists. Not only does the documentary capture embattled environmental activists in the age of the Green Scare opening up to the filmmakers, but most impressive was the filmmakers’ ability to convince law enforcement officials and government lawyers to talk on-record about their perspectives. With that in mind, this is also a film that should spur all American citizens to consider the impact of our current heightened post-9/11 law enforcement policies.

The Green Scare

First introduced into the lexicon in 2003, the Green Scare is a term used by environmental activists to describe the orchestrated campaign to paint their movement as a form of domestic terrorism. With a self-conscious nod to the political repressions of the last century’s numerous “Red Scares” that swept the nation, the Green Scare describes the U.S. government’s use of legal and police tactics to suppress the radical environmental movement. The term seeks to explain why so many environmental activists appear on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, why the jail sentences of environmental activists seem disproportionately long, and how some activists end up in maximum security prisons.

Though If a Tree Falls does not mention the term Green Scare by name, the film dramatically documents the process in action. A key tactic involves using corporate media to influence public perception of environmental and animal rights activist groups as “domestic terrorists.” This designation may seem like a stretch of the imagination. After all, in the past two decades, the United States has experienced multiple assaults on the twin towers in NYC, the horrific bombing of government offices in Oklahoma by Timothy McVeigh, and an incredible increase in violent armed militias and hate groups as Barack Obama became president–none of which have been perpetrated by environmental activists. Nevertheless, starting in the 1990s both local and national news stations amazingly started to apply the loaded term “terrorists” to environmental activists who never harmed or killed a human being in their actions.

When it comes to groups advocating direct environmental actions, law enforcement tactics have likewise focused directly (and often violently) upon environmental activists, intimidating those activists peacefully protesting in the streets while discouraging any citizen attempts to confront the corporations that are destroying the environment. If a Tree Falls provides vivid, difficult-to-watch scenes of police assaulting peaceful, albeit resistant, environmental protesters with strong-arm tactics and chemical weapons. Most memorable is the scene where police officers hold the heads of young female activists who sit with their arms linked together, while other officers apply liquid pepper spray directly to their eyes with Q-Tips. Another scene captures a law enforcement officer who reports that when activists do something that he doesn’t like, it becomes personal for him. Later we hear another officer relate that, with the institution of Post-9/11 Homeland Security policies, the easiest way for law enforcement officers to rise up through the ranks and increase their pay scale is through terrorism enhancement cases. (Jules Boykoff, in Beyond Bullets: The Suppression of Dissent in the United States (AK Press, 2007), details how this intimidation of activists extended to police infiltration of groups that never committed a crime, and the unleashing of paid informants who acted as agent provocateurs–facilitating and encouraging the acceleration of activist actions while reporting back to their home agencies.)

To Read the Rest of the Essay

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Daryl Cagle: Wall St Protests

The Cagle Post

John Hanrahan: Local police forces are now little armies. Why?

Local police forces are now little armies. Why?
By John Hanrahan
Reader Supported News

Last March, when some 500 activists arrived at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in northern Virginia to protest the abusive treatment that Pfc. Bradley Manning, the accused leaker of secret government documents to the Wikileaks website, was being subjected to while incarcerated there, they were confronted by a heavily-armed, riot-geared phalanx of dozens of state and local police, many of them on horseback for added measure.

I was there and wondered what in the world was going on.

These police in their black Darth Vader-like gear weren’t exactly facing a gun-wielding horde, or guerrillas with grenade launchers or a mob threatening to storm the base. Instead, they were confronting unarmed, nonviolent protesters who included older military veterans, recent Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, government workers, the ever-active antiwar women (and men) of Code Pink, members of various anti-war and anti-torture groups, lawyer observers and a smattering of reporters mainly from alternative media. Did the police think this assembly was going to charge into a heavily-fortified military base, overpower well-armed and well-trained Marines, and spring Manning from solitary confinement?

Since then I found out police often dress like Darth Vader at protest rallies. It’s a tactic to discourage dissent, with battlefield equipment supplied by the Pentagon and other equipment paid for in part with Homeland Security funds.

Increasingly around the country, noted civil liberties attorney Bill Quigley told Nieman Watchdog this summer, "What we have had is a militarization of the police response to nonviolent demonstrations. You attend one of those rallies and you could get the impression that it's unpatriotic to protest, that you're doing something wrong, that you're some sort of security threat."

Compared to the Vietnam war era, Quigley said, police around the country use more intimidating tactics these days, which likely discourages or scares off some people who might otherwise want to participate in protests. During the Vietnam war, he said, there was "pushback" – often violent – by police at demonstrations, but the police then were not decked out in full-blown military regalia and carrying the often heavy weaponry that can be the case today.

The militarization of the nation’s police forces is one of the most under-reported stories in the mainstream U.S. press. The issue sometimes surfaces in connection with SWAT teams conducting drug raids, particularly when police or Drug Enforcement Administration agents bust down the wrong door and frighten innocent occupants half to death and even injure them and destroy property. But rarely are there news stories questioning the propriety of these police forces becoming, in effect, little domestic armies. And the increase in anti-terrorism fear-mongering to justify the use of heavily-armed, riot-geared police at political demonstrations has the added dimension of providing a chilling effect on people’s exercise of their First Amendment rights to peaceably assemble and to petition their government.

It’s time reporters on all news organizations begin going to their local and state police departments and asking: How much of this crap do you have, and why do you need it?

Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans and director of the law clinic and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University New Orleans, has served as counsel to a number of public interest organizations on civil liberties, constitutional rights and civil disobedience issues. In that capacity and until recently as the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, he frequently monitors demonstrations. Quigley said that around the country, protests, both small and large, are often overseen by a "heavy-duty police presence," replete with "those Ninja-Turtle-type outfits, special batons, shields, kneepads, surveillance cameras," etc. Police are sometimes on horseback (as they were at Quantico), astride "animals that are specially trained for crowd control" and that can be especially daunting to older and disabled people who aren't so nimble on their feet. Police also often try to orchestrate the protests, imposing new rules as they go along (as was the case at Quantico) – and, in some cases, using sound trucks to issue orders to control marchers.

While monitoring protests in various communities, Quigley said he has often asked state and local police why they turn out in their military gear for protests involving several hundred people engaging in a peaceful march or rally. Speaking as if from the same playbook, the answer they always give, Quigley said, is that it's not the peaceful demonstrators they are worried about but the fear that militants bent on violence will infiltrate and turn a peaceable demonstration into street fighting and property destruction.

To Quigley and others who have attended protests, this is pure bunkum.

To Read the Rest of the Article

Monday, October 10, 2011

Right Here All Over: Occupy Wall Street Protests (Alex Mallis and Lily Henderson, 2011)

Great short documentary:

Right Here All Over (Occupy Wall St.) from Alex Mallis on Vimeo.

Democracy Now: Occupy Wall Street Emerges as “First Populist Movement” on the Left Since the 1930s

Occupy Wall Street Emerges as “First Populist Movement” on the Left Since the 1930s
Democracy Now

As the “Occupy” movement expand from the “Occupy Wall Street” protest in New York City throughout the United States, we look its historical significance. “This is an incredibly significant moment in U.S. history,” says Dorian Warren of Columbia University. “It might be a turning point because this is the first time we have seen an emergence of populist movement on the left since the 1930s.” We also speak to FireDogLake blogger Kevin Gosztola who has been reporting from the occupations in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

Kevin Gosztola, independent journalist who writes for a blog called, "The Dissenter," at the FireDogLake website. He has covered the Occupy Philly, DC & Chicago movements and has been blogging about Occupy Wall Street since it began.

Dorian Warren, Assistant Professor of Political Science & Public Affairs at Columbia University and a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute.

The Alyona Show: Chris Hedges on the Occupy Wall Street Protests

Excellent summary of the meaning of these protests:

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Democracy Now: As Unions, Students Join Occupy Wall Street, Are We Witnessing Growth of a New Movement?

The Revolution Presents: MARX IN SOHO ~ A play by Howard Zinn (October 8th)

(Extra credit for any students that write a response to this play)

Saturday, October 8 · 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Occupy Lexington@ JP Morgan Chase
201 E Main St
Created By
April Browning, Karen Occupywallstreet Sterling, Greg Capillo, Steve Blair
More Info
Marx In Soho - Howard Zinn

'Marx In Soho' by Howard Zinn will be performed on Saturday Oct 8th @ 6pm for Occupy Lexington outside JP Morgan Chase. Preformed By Ed Desiato.

Howard Zinn is a captivating writer and it shows in the plot of the play. The premise is a lot of fun. Marx has petitioned some afterlife council to return to the realm of the living in the interest of having his say. He wishes to be sent to Soho London. Du...e to some sort of bureaucratic mix-up, Marx ends up in Soho, New York. Zinn’s script is said to be a really good introduction to Marx for those unfamiliar with him and more than a bit insightful for those who are already students of his work.

This piece is pertinent, engaging and charismatic. Whether or not you agree with Marxist theory is irrelevant. Zinn critiques the death penalty, mega-mergers, mass media and more. This play has been said to be the perfect thing for the times in which we live. Marx's insight into the social condition has been nothing short of prophetic, an enduring "social critique of culture."

Please come and join us. There is no admission cost.

Thank you Natasha Williams and Ed Desiato for lending us your talent!

Occupy Together Has a New Website: Explanation and Link Below

IMPORTANT: Update Regarding Actions & Events.
by Occupy Together on Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 8:15am

If you’ve started seeing Occupy Together in your daily email box as we have, you probably know the word is spreading like a wildfire. The site has recently been linked on, Adbusters, tweeted by Michael Moore and sent out in a newsletter. WHEW! Talk about growing exponentially!

You have to remember, when we started this we were merely two designers who couldn’t get to NYC to support in person. We saw these solidarity actions forming in other areas and though “you know, it would be great to gather this information and make it readily available and easily accessible for everyone!” Little did we know we’d go from listing 4-5 locations in one night to receiving hundreds of emails in a day. We were slowing the flow of information because us volunteers weren’t able to keep up. This was a huge issue for us to solve because if we’re not making this information as accessible as possible then we’re not helping the movement.

This is where the internet gets awesome. Through this process we’ve been in touch with some very incredible and talented people with much more technical knowhow than we will ever have. The beauty of it all is that this just started as an idea by two and has grown into a collaboration by many. We are all in this together, it only takes one (or in our case two) to take the jump and you’ll find others to support and join you along the way.

We were contacted by the good people at, who got in touch because they heard we were in need of some technical assistance and advice. They listened to our pressing issues at hand: adequate server space for site performance, SEO & RSS issues, and what seemed to be most daunting of all, our inability to keep up with all of the information we’ve been sent. They talked us through all of these issues, but most helpfully, showed us how we could use as a tool to provide real-time event listings and updates. Who would have known there was a site out there that was made SPECIFICALLY for this kind of DIY, grassroots activity :)

All of the volunteers talked it over… we work in the spirit of the movement. No one is leading, everyone has a chance to voice concerns and we all make important decisions together. We all decided the best way to foster the growth of this movement and provide access to information around the world was to use as the method of finding, listing, and updating events. The GREAT thing about all of this, is that it’s completely in line with the whole idea of this decentralized movement. Any single person can start an action in their area, and where one stands up there will likely be another to join you! Plus, you don’t have to belong to the site to view the information and is very concerned with user privacy. So, if you’re not a Facebook or social media user, no fear! You can still get real time information and updates in your area too!

Long story short, we’re going to integrate meetup tools into For the most part there won’t be a huge difference. You will look on the map for your location and once you find it you’ll click on a link that will take you to a page with all of the information of solidarity actions being organized in your area!

We hope you all understand and share our sentiment on this decision. We’ve done our best to add all existing locations that were on our website, and we will continue to add the events that were emailed to us through tomorrow. However, now you are all individually empowered to add new and update old information at any time!

Lastly, we want to mention that we’re very aware of the server problems we’ve been encountering. We will have a new home on our very own dedicated server here within the next 24-48 hours. You have all been great in being patient with us and supporting us. We hope we won’t wear your patience out as we wait to move to our new home!

Occupy Together

The Website is here

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Occupy Lexington Day 3

(In a half hour it will day 7 -- solidarity)

Occupy Louisville: Day 1

Welcome Louisville! Solidarity!

Occupy Louisville

Frank Bajak: Colombia anti-union violence undeterred

Study: Colombia anti-union violence undeterred
By Frank Bajak
Boston Globe

A new study challenges claims from the administration of President Barack Obama that Colombia is making important strides in bringing to justice killers of labor activists and so deserves U.S. congressional approval of a long-stalled free trade pact.

The Human Rights Watch study found "virtually no progress" in getting convictions for killings that have occurred in the past 4 1/2 years.

It counted just six convictions obtained by a special prosecutions unit from 195 slayings between January 2007 and May 2011, with nearly nine in 10 of the unit's cases from that period in preliminary stages with no suspect formally identified.

Democrats in the U.S. Congress have long resisted bringing the Colombia trade pact to a vote, citing what they said is insufficient success in halting such killings.

The White House disagrees, and says Colombia has made significant progress in addressing anti-unionist violence.

It is pushing for congressional approval as early as this week of the Colombia agreement along with pacts with South Korea and Panama, something the Republicans endorse and that they say will increase U.S. exports by $13 billion a year and support tens of thousands of jobs.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk recently said the trade agreements are "an integral part of the President's plan to create jobs here at home."

But in Colombia, the world's most lethal country for labor organizing, the killings haven't stopped. At least 38 trade unionists have been slain since President Juan Manuel Santos took office in August 2010, says Colombia's National Labor School.

To Read the Rest

Occupy Lexington Day 2

(Courtesy of the filmmaker Ramona Waldeman. Occupy Lexington has now been going on for 6 days -- solidarity with all of Occupations around the world!)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Martin Bashir: Russell Simmons on the Occupy Wall St Protests

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Conor Friedersdorf: Rick Perry Wants to Send the Military into Mexico to Fight Drugs

Rick Perry Wants to Send the Military into Mexico to Fight Drugs
by Conor Friedersdorf
The Atlantic

Before this weekend, the strongest argument against putting Gov. Rick Perry in the White House came from Radley Balko. "A state government has no more awesome, complete, or solemn power than the power to execute its own citizens. If you're going to claim to loathe big government, this is one area where you ought to be more skeptical of government than any other," he wrote. But confronted with the possibility that Texas had executed an innocent man, "Perry used his own power to keep himself and his constituents ignorant, lest they begin to question whether government should have such power." And his success meant that the state's citizens were prevented from a full investigation of "a possibly historical government error."

Put another way, Perry behaved like a man who shouldn't be trusted with extreme power. As objectionable as his actions remain, however, he reminded voters and pundits of an even bigger reason to doubt his judgment in the weekend speech he gave in New Hampshire, where he mused on a step he might take if made Commander in Chief. "Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Saturday that he would consider sending U.S. troops into Mexico to combat drug-related violence and stop it from spilling into the southern United States," The Washington Post reported. "The way that we were able to stop the drug cartels in Colombia was with a coordinated effort," Perry said. "It may require our military in Mexico working in concert with them to kill these drug cartels and to keep them off of our border and to destroy their networks."

For starters, it's worth describing in detail the Colombia policy that Perry regards as a success and wants to emulate. Here's the big picture: we've been helping that country to fight the drug war (along with its leftist rebels) for almost 40 years, and still haven't won (though Colombia had recent, notable success against the rebels). Since the last year of the Clinton Administration, we've given billions of dollars in aid each year and provided a combination of U.S. military personnel and DEA agents to give on the ground advice. How's it all going? Summarizing a 2010 study conducted by academics from Harvard and the Center for Global Development, Ray Fisman wrote that "a recent evaluation of military and anti-narcotics aid to Colombia argues that neither American nor Colombian interests were well served by U.S.-supplied training and arms. The authors find that rather than bringing stability, increases in military aid caused spikes in violence from Colombia's infamous paramilitary organizations and had no impact whatsoever on coca production. Plan Colombia, it seems, may have served as little more than a conduit for channeling weapons to the destabilizing influences that it was meant to suppress."

Here's how Amnesty International characterizes American policy in the country: "The US has continued a policy of throwing 'fuel on the fire' of already widespread human rights violations, collusion with illegal paramilitary groups and near total impunity. Furthermore, after 10 years and over $8 billion dollars of US assistance to Colombia, US policy has failed to reduce availability or use of cocaine in the US, and Colombia's human rights record remains deeply troubling. Despite this, the State Department continues to certify military aid to Colombia, even after reviewing the country's human rights record." It concludes that "Plan Colombia is a failure in every respect and human rights in Colombia will not improve until there is a fundamental shift in US foreign policy."

To Read the Rest of the Article

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City 9/30/11

What follows is the first official statement released by Occupy Wall Street. It was voted on and approved on Thursday night:

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Don Mitchell: You Who are the Bureaucrats of Empire, Remember Who We Are

[Geographer Don Mitchell giving an address at The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University]

"You Who are the Bureaucrats of Empire, Remember Who We Are"
by Don Mitchell
History is a Weapon

A couple of months ago I was asked to participate in this forum. I was asked to spend a few minutes giving practical advice to you NSS students on issues related to U.S. involvement in "post-conflict societies." I am a professor of geography. My main areas of research focus on the ways that capital, labor and the state fight it out in the golden landscapes of California; by extension I am deeply interested in the geography of capitalism globally: that is, the geography of exploitation and oppression that, as much as freedom and a certain kind of liberty, is not incidental, but essential to capitalism. Another area of research is into contemporary cultural theory, working especially in the western Marxist tradition. A third area of research focuses on urban public space, particularly in the US but to some extent in Europe. In this third area I do research on homelessness, on protest in public space, and particularly on how the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights, one of the most amazing documents ever to be written out of the ashes of a "post-conflict society," are practiced and policed on the streets of American cities.

So I am not sure why I was asked to talk to you - or what practical advice I can give you. Unless it is precisely this: I can be an example to you, something - or someone - you will confront in your efforts to occupy the world and make it do your bidding. I have no doubt you are a kind and loving person. Like me, you no doubt love your families. Like me, you might have any number of perfectly normal problems, perfectly normal interests, perfectly normal phobias, and perfectly normal perversions. Like me, you might care deeply about making the communities that you live in better, your lives more secure, your pursuit of happiness itself a deep well of happiness. Music might transport you, like me, to new worlds of understanding that exist somewhere beyond language, somewhere beyond ordinary emotion. Like me, in other words, you are human.

But I am probably also different than you. I find the construction of the American Empire to be utterly reprehensible. I find our diplomatic and military hypocrisy not only on the world stage but at home too to be abhorrent. I find our - that is my and your state's - role in the world, a role defined by the raw exercise of power, a startling ignorance of what other peoples are like and what they want, to be a sheer exercise not only in arrogance, but in violent bloody-mindedness. I find our reliance on force, on arms, on the technology of death, coupled with our disregard for others' lives - the thousands of Afghani civilians directly killed by our bombs as they missed Mohammed Omar and Osama bin Laden; the at least ten thousands Iraqis so far killed; the fifty to hundred thousand killed in Dresden; the more than a hundred thousand incinerated or condemned to a cancerous death in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the two million Vietnamese - I find this disregard for other peoples' lives to be appallingly anti-human, appallingly anti- you-and-me. Bin Laden's tactics are the tactics of Hell. How, tell me how, ours are any different. He bombs cathedrals of commerce; we bomb Mosques, pharmaceutical factories, weddings, embassies, and whole villages that must be destroyed in order to be saved. But we profess to be the beacon and lovers of "freedom" - so on top of it all we are hypocrites

So I am probably different from you, because I doubt you see the world in these terms, for you are the bureaucrats of Empire: it is you, who, in whatever way large or small, are essential in creating a world I despise. I have no doubt that your motives are good. I have no doubt that your beliefs are true. You undoubtedly see security and patriotism and freedom and duty, where I see death and arrogance and the near-constant illegitimate use of power. So maybe I am different from you. But I am not different from the rest of the world. In fact, I am likely right in line with the majority. And that is my practical message to you: there are a lot of us out there.

To Read the Rest

Occupy Together: Global Support and Solidarity for the Occupy Wall St. Protests

There are so many protests around the nation that it is very helpful to have a central site to find them all -- check out the links on the right. I'm also noticing solidarity protests popping up around the world and there is an international list of links below. It is Day 4 of the Occupy Lexington Protest.

Occupy Together

Media Framing: It Only Takes 20 Minutes to Shift the Blame; Video: Shame, Shame, Shame -- NYC Police Tactics

[Snapshots of The New York Times website -- notice the second article that shifts the blame from the police to the protestors has a new second author]

[NYC police seemed to be purposely trying to give them access, even leading them onto the bridge, then trapping the marchers and arresting them in an attempt to incite a riot. The protestors remain calm, even while being arrested, exhibiting a great sense of purpose and peace. As they chanted "shame, shame, shame."]

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Occupy Lexington Film from Day 1: September 29, 2011

(Film by Ramona Waldman)

Glenn Greenwald: What's Behind the Scorn for the Wall Street Protests?

What's Behind the Scorn for the Wall Street Protests?
by Glenn Greenwald
Common Dreams

It's unsurprising that establishment media outlets have been condescending, dismissive and scornful of the ongoing protests on Wall Street. Any entity that declares itself an adversary of prevailing institutional power is going to be viewed with hostility by establishment-serving institutions and their loyalists. That's just the nature of protests that take place outside approved channels, an inevitable by-product of disruptive dissent: those who are most vested in safeguarding and legitimizing establishment prerogatives (which, by definition, includes establishment media outlets) are going to be hostile to those challenges. As the virtually universal disdain in these same circles for WikiLeaks (and, before that, for the Iraq War protests) demonstrated: the more effectively adversarial it is, the more establishment hostility it's going to provoke. (

Nor is it surprising that much of the most vocal criticisms of the Wall Street protests has come from some self-identified progressives, who one might think would be instinctively sympathetic to the substantive message of the protesters. In an excellent analysis entitled "Why Establishment Media & the Power Elite Loathe Occupy Wall Street," Kevin Gosztola chronicles how much of the most scornful criticisms have come from Democratic partisans who -- like the politicians to whom they devote their fealty -- feign populist opposition to Wall Street for political gain.

Some of this anti-protest posturing is just the all-too-familiar New-Republic-ish eagerness to prove one's own Seriousness by castigating anyone to the left of, say, Dianne Feinstein or John Kerry; for such individuals, multi-term, pro-Iraq-War Democratic Senator-plutocrats define the outermost left-wing limit of respectability. Also at play is the jingoistic notion that street protests are valid in Those Bad Contries but not in free, democratic America.

A siginificant aspect of this progressive disdain is grounded in the belief that the only valid form of political activism is support for Democratic Party candidates, and a corresponding desire to undermine anything that distracts from that goal. Indeed, the loyalists of both parties have an interest in marginalizing anything that might serve as a vehicle for activism outside of fealty to one of the two parties (Fox News' firing of Glenn Beck was almost certainly motivated by his frequent deviation from the GOP party-line orthodoxy which Fox exists to foster).

The very idea that the one can effectively battle Wall Street's corruption and control by working for the Democratic Party is absurd on its face: Wall Street's favorite candidate in 2008 was Barack Obama, whose administration -- led by a Wall Street White House Chief of Staff and Wall-Street-subservient Treasury Secretary and filled to the brim with Goldman Sachs officials -- is now working hard to protect bankers from meaningful accountability (and though he's behind Wall Street's own Mitt Romney in the Wall Street cash sweepstakes this year, Obama is still doing well); one of Wall Street's most faithful servants is Chuck Schumer, the money man of the Democratic Party; and the second-ranking Senate Democrat acknowledged -- when Democrats controlled the Congress -- that the owners of Congress are bankers. There are individuals who impressively rail against the crony capitalism and corporatism that sustains Wall Street's power, but they're no match for the party apparatus that remains fully owned and controlled by it.

But much of this progressive criticism consists of relatively (ostensibly) well-intentioned tactical and organizational critiques of the protests: there wasn't a clear unified message; it lacked a coherent media strategy; the neo-hippie participants were too off-putting to Middle America; the resulting police brutality overwhelmed the message, etc. etc. That's the high-minded form which most progressive scorn for the protests took: it's just not professionally organized or effective.

Some of these critiques are ludicrous. Does anyone really not know what the basic message is of this protest: that Wall Street is oozing corruption and criminality and its unrestrained political power -- in the form of crony capitalism and ownership of political institutions -- is destroying financial security for everyone else? Beyond that, criticizing protesters for the prominence of police brutality stories is pure victim-blaming (and, independently, having police brutality highlighted is its own benefit).

Most importantly, very few protest movements enjoy perfect clarity about tactics or command widespread support when they begin; they're designed to spark conversation, raise awareness, attract others to the cause, and build those structural planks as they grow and develop. Dismissing these incipient protests because they lack fully developed, sophisticated professionalization is akin to pronouncing a three-year-old child worthless because he can't read Schopenhauer: those who are actually interested in helping it develop will work toward improving those deficiencies, not harp on them in order to belittle its worth.

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