Oct 312011



By Digby

This column in the NY Daily News about the growing stratification of the society Occupy Wall Street is building is fascinating. It discusses the group’s stated goal of creating an antirely different democratic/social organization with a new form of decision making and allocation of resources (of which I admit to being fairly skeptical — but then I’m old.) The article discusses how difficult it is to do such a thing and examines the way the culture has broken into two camps — participants and everyone else.

However, fascination at the movement’s growing pains quickly turns to horror when you get to this part:

But while officers may be in a no-win situation, at the mercy of orders carried on shifting political winds and locked into conflict with a so-far almost entirely non-violent protest movement eager to frame the force as a symbol of the oppressive system they’re fighting, the NYPD seems to have crossed a line in recent days, as the park has taken on a darker tone with unsteady and unstable types suddenly seeming to emerge from the woodwork. Two different drunks I spoke with last week told me they’d been encouraged to “take it to Zuccotti” by officers who’d found them drinking in other parks, and members of the community affairs working group related several similar stories they’d heard while talking with intoxicated or aggressive new arrivals.

The NYPD’s press office declined to comment on the record about any such policy, but it seems like a logical tactic from a Bloomberg administration that has done its best to make things difficult for the occupation — a way of using its openness against it.

“He’s got a right to express himself, you’ve got a right to express yourself,” I heard three cops repeat in recent days, using nearly identical language, when asked to intervene with troublemakers inside the park, including a clearly disturbed man screaming and singing wildly at 3 a.m. for the second straight night.

“The first time I’ve heard cops mention our First Amendment rights,” cracked one occupier after hearing a lieutenant read off of that apparent script.

“A lot of you people smell,” a waggish cop shot back later after an occupier asked if he might be able to help find more appropriate accommodations for a particularly pungent and out-of-sorts homeless man.

“The police are saying ‘it’s a free for all at Zuccotti so you can go there,’” said Daniel Zetah, a member of several working groups including community affairs. “Which makes our job harder and harder because the ratio is worse and worse.” …

READ @ http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/cynical-police-action.html



By David Edwards

Virginia State Police brought in bulldozers at about 1 a.m. Monday morning to clear out an encampment of Occupy Richmond protesters.

At least 15 protesters who choose not to leave Kanawha Plaza after a 45 minute warning were arrested, according to Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Demonstrators had been occupying the plaza since Oct. 15. Democratic Mayor Dwight C. Jones visited the site Thursday to warn protesters they were breaking a city ordinance that forbids camping on public property.

“We applied for permits from city council but, you know, they didn’t accept or decline us getting a permit,” one activist explained to WTVR. “At least them declining it would give us an idea what was to come, but we didn’t get anything. So we started occupying with high hopes and unfortunately this is what it came down to.”

Protesters have vowed to continue their occupation of Richmond even if they can’t do it at Kanawha Plaza.

Watch this video from WTVR, broadcast Oct. 31, 2011. …

READ @ http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/10/31/police-use-bulldozers-to-break-up-occupy-richmond/



By jtraynor, Daily Kos Diarist

I am absolutely SICKENED by the images of police assaulting unarmed American civilians simply engaged in exercising their right to freedom of speech and assembly.  It makes me sad to the core of my being to see this kind of highly organized violence against non-violent people by police in the United States of America. …

READ @ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/31/1031686/-One-police-officers-reaction-to-Oakland-Denver



By Joe Conason

Lauded by the Washington press corps for his “courage” and “honesty” in confronting federal deficits and the national debt, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., wrote a budget that almost sank the Republican Party — and may still damage its prospects — because he proposed to dismantle Medicare. Yet his party still relies upon Ryan to speak on behalf of its most important constituency, now known in America and across the world as “the 1 percent.”

Addressing the right-wing Heritage Foundation on Wednesday, Ryan sought to discredit Elizabeth Warren — the Massachusetts Democratic senatorial candidate, Harvard faculty member, creator of the Consumer Finance Protection Agency and enemy No. 1 of Wall Street cheaters — for daring to utter an obvious truth. …

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/speaking-1-percent/1319807872



By Yves Smith

Note the comment at the end, that Sarkozy’s sales pitch to China on the levered up EFSF did not go so well. If the Chinese don’t relent, this greatly reduces of this scheme working, even in the short term. And further note that the flagging European growth is the result of the austerity hairshirt being imposed on highly indebted economies. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has a pointed article on the consequences of the beggar-thy-neighbor German stance.

By Delusional Economics, who is horrified at the state of economic commentary in Australia and is determined to cleanse the daily flow of vested interests propaganda to produce a balanced counterpoint. Cross posted from MacroBusiness

Angela Merkel has been warning for quite some time that Europe’s economic woes will take up to a decade to fix and that it is time for Europe to rethink its economic strategy after years of living “beyond its means”. It seems fairly obvious from those statements that the rest of the world is going to have to get use to Europe moving into a slow growth phase while it attempts to adjust away from what it considers to be unsustainable debt.

In an attempt support the transition while keeping Europe together the European leaders have put together 3 part package to save Greece, re-capitalise the banks and provide a stability mechanism for countries that run into trouble. The problem is that once you understand the technicalities behind what they have come up with you come to realise that real economic growth is the only thing that actually matters. The latest news out of Europe for many of the 17 member nations is not good at all in that regard. …

READ @ http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/10/europe’s-economy-is-falling-apart.html

Oct 302011


Chicago lawyer, lifelong activist and Occupy Chicago supporter, Jerry Boyle’s comment regarding the raid at Occupy Oakland:

It bears repeating: “It is *not* law enforcement, and these are *not* police. This is counter-insurgency, and these are troops. And these troops are attacking the American people.

The good news is that no state has ever defeated a domestic insurgency. But if the insurgents believe their adversary is the police enforcing the law, they have already lost. Free your mind, and your ass will follow. Buy their bullshit, and your ass is grass.

Oct 292011



By Robert Johnson and Linette Lopez

… Regardless of any political position on the Occupy protests, these are some Interesting insights:

Before gas goes into a crowd shield bearers have to be making no progress moving a crowd or crowd must be assaulting the line. Not with sticks and stones but a no bullshit assault. 3 warnings must be given to the crowd in a manner they can hear that force is about to be used. Shield bearers take a knee and CS gas is released in grenade form first to fog out your lines because you have gas masks. You then kick the canisters along in front of your lines. Projectile gas is not used except for longer ranged engagement or trying to steer the crowd ( by steering a crowd I mean firing gas to block a street off ). You also have shotguns with beanbags and various less than lethal rounds for your launchers. These are the rules for a WARZONE!!

How did a cop who is supposed to have training on his weapon system accidentally SHOOT someone in the head with a 40mm gas canister? Simple. He was aiming at him.

I’ll be the first to admit a 40mm round is tricky to aim if you are inexperienced but anyone can tell the difference between aiming at head level and going for range.

The person that pulled that trigger has no business being a cop. He sent that round out with the intention of doing some serious damage to the protestors. I don’t care what the protestors were doing. I never broke my rules of engagement in Iraq or Afghanistan. So I can’t imagine what a protester in the states did to deserve a headshot with a 40mm. He’s damn lucky to be alive and that cop knows he was using lethal force against a protester he is supposed to be protecting. …

 READ @ http://www.businessinsider.com/marine-with-crowd-control-training-points-out-oakland-used-methods-prohibited-in-war-zones-2011-10



By Phil Rockstroh

Until recent events proved otherwise, the hyper-commercialized surface of the corporate state gave the appearance of being too diffuse–too devoid of a center to pose a threat of totalitarian excess. Accordingly, as of late, due to the violent response to OWS protesters by local police departments in Oakland, Atlanta, Chicago, and in other U.S. cities, the repressive nature of the faux republic is beginning to be revealed.

Behind the bland face of the political establishment (purchased by the bloated profits of the plundering class) are riot cops, outfitted and armed with the accoutrements of oppression, who are ready and willing to enforce the dictates of the elitist beneficiaries of the degraded status quo. In deed and action, as of late, the police state embedded within neo-liberal economic oligarchy is showing its hyper-authoritarian proclivities to the world.

In general, existence within the present societal structure inflicts on the individual a sense of atomization and its concomitant feelings of alienation, vague unease, free floating anxiety and anomie. The coercion is implicit and internalized.

Because of its mundane, ubiquitous nature, the system is reliant on an individual’s sense of isolation (even ignorance of the existence of the structure itself) to remain in place. In short, the exploitive system continues to exist because its denizens are bereft of other models of comparison.

The public commons inherent in the OWS movement provides a model of comparison. …

READ @ https://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/10/27-2



By Matt Taibbi

… Perry’s campaign is still struggling to recover from the kind of spectacular, submarine-at-crush-depth collapse seldom seen before in the history of presidential politics. The governor went from presumptive front-runner to stammering talk-show punch line seemingly in the speed of a single tweet, rightly blasted for being too incompetent even to hold his own in televised debates with a half-bright pizza salesman like Herman Cain and a goggle-eyed megachurch Joan of Arc like Michele Bachmann. But such superficial criticisms of his weirdly erratic campaign demeanor don’t even begin to get at the root of why we should all be terrified of Perry and what he represents. After all, you have to go pretty far to stand out as a whore and a sellout when you come from a state that has produced such luminaries in the history of political corruption as LBJ, Karl Rove and George W. Bush. But Rick Perry has managed to set a scary new low in the annals of opportunism, turning Texas into a swamp of political incest and backroom dealing on a scale not often seen this side of the Congo or Sierra Leone.

In an era when there’s exponentially more money in politics than we’ve ever seen before, Perry is the candidate who is exponentially more willing than we’ve ever seen before to whore himself out for that money. On the human level he is a nonpersonality, an almost perfect cipher – a man whose only discernible passion is his extreme willingness to be whatever someone will pay him to be, or vote for him to be. Even scarier, the religious community around which he has chosen to pull his human chameleon act features some of the most extreme end-is-nigh nutcases in America, the last people you want influencing the man with the nuclear football. Perry is a human price tag – Being There meets Left Behind. And sometimes there’s nothing more dangerous than nothing at all.

READ @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/rick-perry-the-best-little-whore-in-texas-20111026?print=true



By Panayota Gounari, Truthout

Little did the Greek people know when “socialist” prime minister George Papandreou, back in June 2010, in one of his notorious speeches proclaimed the “revolution of the self-evident,”[1] that he was creating a new semantic field both for what is considered “revolutionary” and for “self-evidence.”

Fifteen months later, Greek society and the entire world witness a tour de force in the theater of the political absurd, where the only “self-evidence” is that Greece plays the leading role in an unprecedented financial and political experiment. But there’s a spoiler: the lead role hero dies at the end of the play. In the Greek prime minister’s dictionary, “revolution of the self-evident” means impunity for politicians, former ministers and other high-power public figures who have been involved in economic scandals and public money squandering, ongoing political corruption, increasing militarization of the country, total repression of dissent and criminalization of public space, welfare and protection for the rich, despair and “sacrifice” – as it is euphemistically called – for Greek working people, privatization of public services, the selling off of natural resources, and the “revolutionary” list goes on.

The tool for this new “revolution” is the politics of submission: Greece’s submission to international markets, speculators and money sharks, Greeks’ submission to new austerity measures in the name of progress, media submission to the official government line, the prime minister’s cabinet’s submission to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB), people’s minds’ submission to the “self-evident.”

Re-appropriating and distorting the word “revolution,” the government set the stage for the most neoliberal, antisocial and authoritarian policies the country has ever witnessed in its history (and Greece was under a colonels’ dictatorship between 1967 and 1974). There is something to be said when the word “revolution” is used to signify the overthrow of democracy and the abolition of the constitution and of any justice principle.

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/revolution-self-evident-and-self-evidence-revolution/1319652018



By Marta Steele

… On July 20, 2011, Fitrakis and his fellow prosecutors filed a new brief that decisively proves that the Ohio election was stolen. Included are a diagram of the election production system–the “man-in-the-middle” structure and the deposition of the late Michael Connell, the staunch Republican IT guru for the Bush family and Karl Rove since 2000 and creator of the system.

Enough information was extracted from Connell to shift Rove’s prognostications, which contradicted poll predictions, to a victory for Obama instead of McCain at the eleventh hour before Election Day–Monday evening, November 3, 2008.

Rover had been that sure, until that eleventh hour, that Connell’s elaborate system would effectively hand victory to yet another Republican president.

The shift was as sudden and accomplished as the vote jumps at 11:15 p.m. in Ohio on Election Day in 2004 that subtracted 400,000 from Kerry’s total–poof!

The Ohio attorneys’ filing also includes the contract signed between Blackwell and Connell’s company, GovTech Solutions, and a graphic architectural map of the secretary of state’s election-night server layout system.

In late October, in response to the filing, according to Fitrakis in a recent email, “we are waiting for the court to rule on the state’s motion to dismiss parts of the case and proceed immediately to trial.

“As for Rove–initially we’re just trying to depose him to see what he knows. Ultimately our goal is to discover enough evidence to name him as the architect of the ongoing criminal conspiracy that election theft represents in Ohio and the nation.”

Fitrakis is skeptical that the trial will lead to a settlement, because every state office in Ohio is controlled by Republicans; Rove will do his best to avoid testifying under oath, he said.

“He’s hired high price law firms to get out of taking a deposition just as he did with Conyers in the U.S. Congress [avoiding two subpoenas by the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee]. Rove will use all levers of influence from criminal investigation by his friends in the FBI to any other means to avoid being held accountable for what he did in Ohio in 2004.”

Magisterial IT expert Stephen Spoonamore, who joined the Fitrakis team as key witness in September 2008, studied the system and supplied the suspected conclusions on how exactly the heist was accomplished, translating them into language we all can comprehend, backing up his conclusions with the diagrams supplied in the latest filing.

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/populum/print_friendly.php?p=Ohio-Heroes-On-Path-To-Dep-by-Marta-Steele-111028-585.html&c=a

Oct 282011


This is a collective wiki for all occupy movements, but city-specific sub-categories are encouraged:

There are 3 primary concerns for winter:

People – keeping us warm (clothing, etc.)
Shelter – needs to be warm and sturdy (resist snow load, wind, etc.)
Safety – fire and carbon monoxide, snow removal, preventing slipping on ice, etc.

Please help the wiki by adding links, or even better, the useful information from your source. Keeping this organized is important.

Ways to help:

  • When it gets cold go home to your parents or college dorm.
  • Donate warm clothing to your local Occupy, or contact any group for a mailing address if you can’t do a drop off. Scarves, hats, gloves, socks, etc., are especially welcome.
  • Pass this on. Especially if there are people in your local Occupy who moved from a warmer climate! They may not know how to deal with winter.
  • Ideas for ensuring safe walking conditions in camps are needed!


READ THIS: Cold weather tips for protesters. Also, in the comments are very useful suggestions having to do with protesting outside, especially if you are standing or walking on concrete for a long time.

General strategy for outdoor winter survival

  • Stay Dry- That includes your sleeping bags, clothing, and skin. Sleeping bags especially can get saturated with condensed body moisture overnight which freezes during the day, and will lose their insulation over time if not dried out regularly. Cotton and goose down are fine when dry, but do not insulate when wet. Synthetic insulation and wool will keep you warm even when wet (but not as warm as they do when dry).
  • Stay Fed- You burn a lot of calories in cold weather, even if not active. Producing all that extra body heat requires high energy food!
  • Stay active- excercise will keep you warm, but be careful not to get all sweaty (stay dry, remember?)
  • Stay off the cold ground- a sleeping bag alone will not keep you warm, the insulation underneath gets flattened. You need an insulating pad of some kind.

Keep your stuff from getting ruined by cold

  • water expands when it freezes – it will explode containers if there is no air space in it, beverage and food cans/bottles can explode and make a mess.
  • Electronics don’t like cold – if you bring a cold gadget indoors, water will condense inside and fry circuits. let it warm up a bit before turning on.


  • Dress in layers: Polypropylene or wool layers under regular clothing, and a rain shell in wet weather. Look for items with a NSN number (military issue). Look for wool and thermals underwear
  • Waterproof shoes/boots. Wear boots LARGER than your normal size – more room for extra socks, extra space = insulation, ability to move toes and improve circulation.
  • Mittens and gloves; mitts for standing around, gloves for working. Insulated gloves for warmth, but waterproof and ‘contact’ gloves are also useful for specific tasks in cold weather.
  • Space blankets, hooded and regular all weather blankets like NASA TECH wind H2O reflect 90% of body heat, But be aware that they are not breathable, and you may get sweaty (stay dry!). 5×7 hooded: Examples here; also emergency blankets and bags

Keeping warm while sitting or lying down:

  • Layers of corrugated cardboard, or even newspapers. Wrap in plastic to keep it from getting wet and then frozen.
  • Foil bubble home insulation. Regular bubblewrap, even. Home Depot/Lowes have double reflective layers of mylar with bubble wrap in between. http://www.lowes.com/pd_13358-56291-BP48025_0__?productId=3011906&Ntt=reflective+insulation&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl__0__s%3FNtt%3Dreflective%2Binsulation&facetInfo=
  • Foam sheets or blocks (styrofoam).
  • sleep with a warm bottle of water, this keeps you warm, and keeps your water from freezing at night.
  • campmor.com has the lowest prices on sleeping bags. Buy synthetic instead of down. When down gets wet it is useless and takes forever to dry.
  • There are many sellers on eBay with cheapie space blankets for around $1 each when you buy in lots of 25, 50, 100 etc. Don’t know if the ones slightly higher cost are more durable. I’d consider using them as *part* of the tent insulation on the sides but remember you need to have space for moisture from breathing to escape and condense outside the tent.
  • Space brand “All-weather” blankets, also sold as Coghlan’s Thermal Blankets, are 5×7 tarps with a space blanket on one side. http://Overstock.com has them very cheaply in packs of 12 for $96. ($8 each) Sam’s club has similar prices if you buy them special order. Other places are typically $15-$25. If I do extensive searching, I can find $10-12 each but with companies/sellers that are not well known.

Additional solutions:

  • Hot beverages available
  • Hot food
  • Warming stations .. possibly use hot manhole covers for a “sauna” room.
  • We can also use solar heat gain for daytime comfort. Clear plastic roofs with windbreaking sides make for good comfort on sunny days.
  • Thick, warm wool socks are great at bedtime. So are hats.
  • If you can have an open flame outside, boil a pot of water. Have Steel water bottles filled with either water or sand. Put the water bottles in the pot until they are warm. Take them out of the pot with tongs and let them drip dry a few minutes. Then put the water bottles inside socks so they are easier to handle. Stick that in a sleeping bag for extra warmth.
  • Exercise before bedtime also helps. The only time I have gone on an overnight backpacking trip was in a 25 degree bag. I used the exercise, wool socks, and hot water bottle tips to sleep comfortably in weather below 0 Fahrenheit. Well below my bag temperature, and the temperature ratings are usually overoptimistic anyways.



  • Will it hold up in strong winds? Heavy Snow?
  • Will it keep water out, both on top/sides and floor?
  • How do we hold tents down – can’t drive stakes very deeply in the ground here; can’t drive stakes through the paved areas at all.
  • City may not allow tents larger than 10×10 without a permit
  • FIRE RISKS: open flame is dangerous; many heat sources also emit carbon monoxide


  • Floors made with a layer of hay with plywood or tarps over it. This will allow water to flow under the floor. PROBLEM: HAY IS A FIRE RISK.
  • Floors made with pallets with plywood over top.
  • If you use tarps as roofs, make sure all sides are tied or duct taped down so that they can’t flap and catch the air.
  • Large military issue tents – can be used for kitchen, other working groups, group sleeping (need to provide separate sleeping areas based on gender). Could put small tents inside larger tents. Look for NSN number for good, 4-season tents
  • eBay sells military tents. Check the description carefully to make sure they include the stakes, and don’t have holes and broken zipper. Search for “(arctic, military, surplus, expedition, army) tent -heater -pup” and select prices over $200. Also be careful about where the tent is, if it is pickup only, and if it ships freight, get an estimate before buying.
  • Cots – get people off the ground while sleeping. Opinion: this may not work because air circulation will pull heat away from the body faster than the ground.
  • Inflatable mattresses provide insulation between sleeping bag and ground. Inflate with a pump to prevent icing inside.
  • What about hammocks? (hammocks can be very cold in winter, and provide little insulation underneath, due to flattening of sleeping bag fill. they require insulation that hangs underneath so body weight doesn’t flatten it)
  • Shelters can be weighted down with sandbags, buckets filled with concrete, containers filled with
  • Kitchen tent needs to be fully enclosed – not just warmth but to help keep rodents out. Comment: If it is a tent, you won’t be able to keep rodents out. They can squeeze through tiny spaces. Best thing to do is keep everything sealed in airtight containers, and move all food trash outside the kitchen regularly. Then make sure the food trash gets taken outside of camp as well.
  • Little well insulated sleeping pods .. with wheels .. tiny house on wheels .. not a “structure” but a sleeping-barrow (wheel barrow turned into tiny “house”).
  • Inflatable structures… custom made or purchased .. dead air space can provide insulation .. flexible, not rigid structures, may avoid troubles with authorities, can be combined with other ideas, such as wheeled platforms.
  • Tie Down stakes for dogs are also used for heavy duty stakes. Could use those without having as much ground damage. http://www.lowes.com/pd_319249-16603-91495_0__?productId=3367024&Ntt=stakes&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl__0__s%3FNtt%3Dstakes&facetInfo=
  • On paved surfaces where you can’t drive stakes, use heavy cinder blocks tied to ropes in place of stakes. 5 gallon plastic buckets may also work if you have very heavy stuff inside.


Snow removal; ice

  • If removing snow from paths, need a plan for where to put it
  • Removing snow from gravel or dirt paths could be special challenge; not so easy to shovel.
  • Paths made of pallets and plywood will be slippery. wire mesh or chicken wire held in place with staple guns can help create traction, must be galvanized, or salt will rust it. What can we use instead? => spread sand or crushed rock on slippery surfaces to provide traction


  • If tents meet Fire Dept tests, open flame would be safer, but “Not recommended” (Boston)
  • Heat: “catalytic propane heaters” do NOT have open flames and provide heat. Well catalytic may be our answer.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors are cheap and will protect against CO poisoning. This will satisfy the fire department, and will prevent any of us from dying, both of which are good. Remember, carbon monoxide is odorless, and sinks to the bottom of tents. vent the bottom of the tent as well as the top.
  • Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning: drowsiness, nausea, unconsciousness, bright red skin, death.

Links to specific Occupy groups’ winter work


READ @ http://occupytogether.wikispot.org/Winter

Oct 282011



By Washingtons Blog

… Karl Denninger argues that the police intended to hit Olsen in the head:

One ex-Marine — a combat veteran — took a rubber round in the head. He is in critical condition and may die. That was not a mistake; that was aimed fire and an intentional assassination. Sorry folks, that’s facts – from 50 you don’t “miss” and hit someone in the head with these things if you’re shooting for the legs or other non-vital parts. He was shot in the head by someone who aimed for the head. Those projectiles are not “non-lethal” and the bomb thrown by a cop at the people trying to come to his assistance after he fell wasn’t tossed accidentally either.

A marine says that Oakland used crowd control methods that are prohibited in war zones, and that the shot must have been intentional:

Before gas goes into a crowd shield bearers have to be making no progress moving a crowd or crowd must be assaulting the line. Not with sticks and stones but a no bullshit assault. 3 warnings must be given to the crowd in a manner they can hear that force is about to be used. Shield bearers take a knee and CS gas is released in grenade form first to fog out your lines because you have gas masks. You then kick the canisters along in front of your lines. Projectile gas is not used except for longer ranged engagement or trying to steer the crowd ( by steering a crowd I mean firing gas to block a street off ). You also have shotguns with beanbags and various less than lethal rounds for your launchers. These are the rules for a WARZONE!!

How did a cop who is supposed to have training on his weapon system accidentally SHOOT someone in the head with a 40mm gas canister? Simple. He was aiming at him.

I’ll be the first to admit a 40mm round is tricky to aim if you are inexperienced but anyone can tell the difference between aiming at head level and going for range.

The person that pulled that trigger has no business being a cop. He sent that round out with the intention of doing some serious damage to the protestors. I don’t care what the protestors were doing. I never broke my rules of engagement in Iraq or Afghanistan. So I can’t imagine what a protester in the states did to deserve a headshot with a 40mm. He’s damn lucky to be alive and that cop knows he was using lethal force against a protester he is supposed to be protecting. …

READ @ http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/10/marine-veteran-whose-skull-was-fractured-in-oakland-protests-was-peacefully-standing-when-attacked-by-police.html



By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout

The national standoff between authorities and protesters in the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement has reached a new and dangerous level of tension and violence.

At first glance, it looked like something out of Pink Floyd’s film ‘The Wall’: menacing images of creatures in gas masks swarming toward the camera under a dark and forbidding sky. This was no dystopian fantasy, however; these were members of the Oakland police department charging into a group of protesters behind a wall of tear gas, flash-bang bombs, rubber bullets and bean-bag projectiles. The police bull-rushed these unarmed protesters with the intention to do violence, and violence is exactly what they did.

As of this writing, one woman is known to have been seriously injured when a flash-bang grenade went off right by her head. She was seen being carried away unconscious from the scene of the police riot by other protesters. Anther known injured protester has a name, and a face, and a record of service to his country. Scott Olsen, a Marine veteran of two Iraq tours, was participating in the Occupy Oakland protest when he was shot in the head by a ‘less-than-lethal’ police projectile, suffered a fractured skull, and was taken to the hospital in critical condition. His condition has since been upgraded to fair.

Welcome home, Marine. Thank you for your service to your country, but since you dared to exercise your First Amendment right to peaceable assembly, here’s a cracked head for your trouble. And you thought Iraq was dangerous.

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/then-they-fight-you/1319744739



By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

… The major federal agency on the Wall Street beat is the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC watches for violations like insider trading, and also deals with so-called “disclosure violations” — i.e., making sure that all the financial information that publicly traded companies are required to make public actually jibes with reality. But the SEC doesn’t have prosecutorial power either, so in practice, when it looks like someone needs to go to jail, they refer the case to the Justice Department. And since the vast majority of crimes in the financial services industry take place in Lower Manhattan, cases referred by the SEC often end up in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Thus, the two top cops on Wall Street are generally considered to be that U.S. attorney — a job that has been held by thunderous prosecutorial personae like Robert Morgenthau and Rudy Giuliani — and the SEC’s director of enforcement.

The relationship between the SEC and the DOJ is necessarily close, even symbiotic. Since financial crime-fighting requires a high degree of financial expertise — and since the typical drug-and-terrorism-obsessed FBI agent can’t balance his own checkbook, let alone tell a synthetic CDO from a credit default swap — the Justice Department ends up leaning heavily on the SEC’s army of 1,100 number-crunching investigators to make their cases. In theory, it’s a well-oiled, tag-team affair: Billionaire Wall Street Asshole commits fraud, the NYSE catches on and tips off the SEC, the SEC works the case and delivers it to Justice, and Justice perp-walks the Asshole out of Nobu, into a Crown Victoria and off to 36 months of push-ups, license-plate making and Salisbury steak.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work. But a veritable mountain of evidence indicates that when it comes to Wall Street, the justice system not only sucks at punishing financial criminals, it has actually evolved into a highly effective mechanism for protecting financial criminals. This institutional reality has absolutely nothing to do with politics or ideology — it takes place no matter who’s in office or which party’s in power. To understand how the machinery functions, you have to start back at least a decade ago, as case after case of financial malfeasance was pursued too slowly or not at all, fumbled by a government bureaucracy that too often is on a first-name basis with its targets. Indeed, the shocking pattern of nonenforcement with regard to Wall Street is so deeply ingrained in Washington that it raises a profound and difficult question about the very nature of our society: whether we have created a class of people whose misdeeds are no longer perceived as crimes, almost no matter what those misdeeds are. The SEC and the Justice Department have evolved into a bizarre species of social surgeon serving this nonjailable class, expert not at administering punishment and justice, but at finding and removing criminal responsibility from the bodies of the accused.

The systematic lack of regulation has left even the country’s top regulators frustrated. Lynn Turner, a former chief accountant for the SEC, laughs darkly at the idea that the criminal justice system is broken when it comes to Wall Street. “I think you’ve got a wrong assumption — that we even have a law-enforcement agency when it comes to Wall Street,” he says. …

READ @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-isnt-wall-street-in-jail-20110216?print=true



By Felix Salmon

1) Why should the Court impose a judgment in a case in which the S.E.C. alleges a serious securities fraud but the defendant neither admits nor denies wrongdoing?

2) Given the S.E.C.’s statutory mandate to ensure transparency in the financial marketplace, is there an overriding public interest in determining whether the S.E.C.’s charges are true? Is the interest even stronger when there is no parallel criminal case?

3) What was the total loss to the victims as a result of Citigroup’s actions? How was this determined? lf, as the S.E.C.’s submission states, the loss was “at least” $160 million, what was it at most?

4) How was the amount of the proposed judgment determined? In particular, what calculations went into the determination of the $95 million penalty? Why, for example, is the penalty in this case less than one-fifth of the $535 million penalty assessed in SEC v. Goldman Sachs? What reason is there to believe this proposed penalty will have a meaningful deterrent effect?

5) The S.E.C.’s submission states that the S.E.C. has “identified… nine factors relevant to the assessment of whether to impose penalties against a corporation and, if so, in what amount.” But the submission fails to particularize how the factors were applied in this case. Did the S.E.C. employ these factors in this case? If so, how should this case be analyzed under each of those nine factors?

6) The proposed judgment imposes injunctive relief against future violations. What does the S.E.C. do to maintain compliance? How many contempt proceedings against large financial entitities has the S.E.C. brought in the past decade as a result of violations of prior consent judgments?

7) Why is the penalty in this case to be paid in large part by Citigroup and its shareholders rather than by the “culpable individual offenders acting for the corporation?” If the S.E.C. was for the most part unable to identify such alleged offenders, why was this?

8) What specific “control weaknesses” led to the acts alleged in the Complaint? How will the proposed “remedial undertakings” ensure that those acts do not occur again?

9) How can a securities fraud of this nature and magnitude be the result simply of negligence?

The parties should be prepared to answer these questions in detail at the November 9 hearing. In addition, the parties are permitted, but not required, to file with the Court written answers to these questions in advance of the hearing, provided such submissions are filed no later than noon on November 7, 2011.


READ @ http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/10/28/jed-rakoff-puts-the-sec-on-notice/



By William Greider

The rebellious citizens occupying Wall Street shock some people and inspire others with their denunciations of bankers, but everyone seems to know what they are talking about: it is the barbaric and suffocating behavior of the nation’s largest banks (yes, the same ones the government rescued with public money). Right now, these trillion-dollar institutions are methodically harvesting the last possible pound of flesh from millions of homeowners before kicking these failing debtors out of their homes (the story known as the “foreclosure crisis”). This is a tragedy, of course, for the people who are dispossessed. For the country, it is a generational calamity.

“We are in the reverse New Deal,” Christopher Whalen, a savvy banking expert at Institutional Risk Analytics, told me. He meant that events are dismantling the ingenious engine that helped generate America’s broad middle class. Homeownership was the main driver in accomplishing that great social change. For three generations, people of modest means could buy a house knowing it would secure their place in the middle class and allow them to accumulate significant savings. If the family held the standard thirty-year, fixed-rate mortgage, they were painlessly saving for the future every time they made a payment, acquiring greater equity in the home as they did so. With moderate inflation, the house would steadily increase in value even as their monthly mortgage payments stayed the same. So the cost of housing actually declined for the family, as a percentage of its income. Meanwhile, the accumulating equity became a nest egg for retirement or something to pass on to the kids.

READ @ http://www.thenation.com/article/164216/its-time-debt-forgiveness-american-style



By Paul Krugman

Financial markets are cheering the deal that emerged from Brussels early Thursday morning. Indeed, relative to what could have happened — an acrimonious failure to agree on anything — the fact that European leaders agreed on something, however vague the details and however inadequate it may prove, is a positive development.

But it’s worth stepping back to look at the larger picture, namely the abject failure of an economic doctrine — a doctrine that has inflicted huge damage both in Europe and in the United States.

The doctrine in question amounts to the assertion that, in the aftermath of a financial crisis, banks must be bailed out but the general public must pay the price. So a crisis brought on by deregulation becomes a reason to move even further to the right; a time of mass unemployment, instead of spurring public efforts to create jobs, becomes an era of austerity, in which government spending and social programs are slashed.

This doctrine was sold both with claims that there was no alternative — that both bailouts and spending cuts were necessary to satisfy financial markets — and with claims that fiscal austerity would actually create jobs. The idea was that spending cuts would make consumers and businesses more confident. And this confidence would supposedly stimulate private spending, more than offsetting the depressing effects of government cutbacks.

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/28/opinion/krugman-the-path-not-taken.html?_r=1&src=tp&smid=fb-share

Oct 272011



By Adbusters

Communiqué in Solidarity with the Occupy Movement from Cairo.

To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice.

READ @ http://www.adbusters.org/blogs/adbusters-blog/keep-going-and-do-not-stop.html#.Tqd5v6D8hlQ.facebook



By Lauren Kelley, Alternet

Quan\’s statement, via the San Francisco Chronicle:

We support the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement: we have high levels of unemployment and we have high levels of foreclosure that makes Oakland part of the 99% too. We are a progressive city and tolerant of many opinions. We may not always agree, but we all have a right to be heard.

I want to thank everyone for the peaceful demonstration at Frank Ogawa Park tonight, and thank the city employees who worked hard to clean up the plaza so that all activities can continue including Occupy Wall Street. We have decided to have a minimal police presence at the plaza for the short term and build a community effort to improve communications and dialogue with the demonstrators.

99% of our officers stayed professional during difficult and dangerous circumstances as did some of the demonstrators who dissuaded other protestors from vandalizing downtown and for helping to keep the demonstrations peaceful. For the most part, demonstrations over the past two weeks have been peaceful. We hope they continue to be so.

I want to express our deepest concern for all of those who were injured last night, and we are committed to ensuring this does not happen again. Investigations of certain incidents are underway and I will personally monitor them.

We understand and recognize the impact this event has had on the community and acknowledge what has happened. We cannot change the past, but we are committed to doing better.

Most of us are part of the 99%, and understand the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. We are committed to honoring their free speech right.

Finally, we understand the demonstrators want to meet with me and Chief Jordan. We welcome open dialogue with representatives of Occupy Wall Street members, and we are willing to meet with them as soon as possible.

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/newsandviews/686295



By Charlie Grapski, Daily Kos Diarist


We as fellow occupiers of Oscar Grant Plaza propose that on Wednesday November 2, 2011, we liberate Oakland and shut down the 1%.

We propose a city wide general strike and we propose we invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city.

All banks and corporations should close down for the day or we will march on them.

While we are calling for a general strike, we are also calling for much more. People who organize out of their neighborhoods, schools, community organizations, affinity groups, workplaces and families are encouraged to self organize in a way that allows them to participate in shutting down the city in whatever manner they are comfortable with and capable of.

The whole world is watching Oakland. Let’s show them what is possible.

READ @ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/27/1030480/-Occupy-Oakland-Calls-for-General-Strike-on-Wednesday-Nov-2nd?via=blog_790084



By BobboSphere, Daily Kos Diarist

I’m involved in OccupyChicago. I  stand on the corner with a sign for a couple of hours every few days, plus I go to the larger demonstrations. I was arrested over the weekend for a sit-in to defend the medical aid station set up by National Nurses United.

Being in jail for 18 hours was unpleasant, but really, not that big a deal. When I was finally released, there were about 50 OccupyChicago people in front of the cop station throwing a party for us. Most people don’t get cheers and a welcoming committee when they get out of a South Side Chicago jail cell.

As I was being processed out, I saw a few young black guys staring out of their cells. They may have been hard guys on the street, but away from their pals, they just looked like scared kids to me. Whether they had actually even committed crimes was irrelevant. We punish the innocent and the guilty alike.

READ @ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/26/1029938/-Thinking-about-jail,-race-the-OWS-Movement?via=spotlight



By Jesse Eisinger

… After years of lengthy investigations into collateralized debt obligations, the mortgage securities at the heart of the financial crisis, the S.E.C. has brought civil actions against only two small-time bankers. But compared with the Justice Department, the S.E.C. is the second coming of Eliot Ness. No major investment banker has been brought up on criminal charges stemming from the financial crisis.

To understand why that is so pathetic and — worse — corrupting, we need to briefly review what went on in C.D.O.’s in the years before the crisis. By 2006, legions of Wall Street bankers had turned C.D.O.’s into vehicles for their own personal enrichment, at the expense of their customers.

These bankers brought in savvy (and cynical) investors to buy pieces of the deals that they could not sell. These investors bet against the deals. Worse, they skewed the deals by exercising influence over what securities went into the C.D.O.’s, and they pushed for the worst possible stuff to be included.

The investment banks did not disclose any of this to the investors on the other side of the deals, or if they did, they slipped a vague, legalistic disclosure sentence into the middle of hundreds of pages of dense documentation. In the case brought last week, Citigroup was selling the deal, called Class V Funding III, while its own traders were filling it up with garbage and betting against it.

By the S.E.C.’s own investigations of and settlements with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, and by reporting like my ProPublica work with Jake Bernstein and early stories by The Wall Street Journal, we know that these breaches were anything but isolated. This was the Wall Street business model. (Goldman, JPMorgan and Citigroup were all able to settle without admitting or denying anything, which, of course, is part of the problem.)

Neither the Citigroup settlement nor any of the others come close to matching the profits and bonuses that these banks generated in making these deals. And low-level bankers did not, and could not, act alone. They were not rogues, hiding things from their bosses.

Last week’s S.E.C. complaint makes clear that the low-level Citigroup banker that it sued, Brian H. Stoker, had multiple conversations with his superiors about the details of Class V. At one point, Mr. Stoker’s boss pressed him to make sure that their group got “credit” for the profits on the short that was made by another group at the bank.

Pause, and think about that. The boss was looking for credit, but as far as the S.E.C. was concerned, he got no blame.

READ @ http://www.propublica.org/thetrade/item/why-the-sec-wont-hunt-big-dogs



By Braden Goyette, ProPublica

Widespread demonstrations in support of Occupy Wall Street have put the financial crisis back into the national spotlight lately.

So here’s a quick refresher on what’s happened to some of the main players, whose behavior, whether merely reckless or downright deliberate, helped cause or worsen the meltdown. This list isn’t exhaustive — feel welcome to add to it.

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/cheat-sheet-whats-happened-big-players-financial-crisis/1319725731



By Dahr Jamail

The aftermath of a tar sands oil spill in Michigan has left a community with sickness, anger, and loss of livelihood.

Deb Miller lives less than 30 metres from the Kalamazoo River in central Michigan, site of one of the largest inland tar sands oil disasters in US history.

In July 2010, nearly four million litres of toxic tar sands crude oil gushed into the river following the rupture of the Lakehead Pipeline 6B belonging to Enbridge Energy Partners, a Canadian oil and gas transportation company.

Meeting with other area residents at the office she owns with her husband on the banks of the Kalamazoo, Miller describes the adverse health effects she has suffered in the wake of the spill, including migraine headaches, burning eyes, a persistent sore throat, and a “cloudy brain” condition that she half-jokingly refers to as “Oil Alzheimer’s”.

The Lakehead Pipeline 6B that burst was built in 1969 to transport regular oil, not tar sands crude – which is as thick as peanut butter and must be injected with chemicals in order to enable transportation.

The Michigan spill is Enbridge Energy’s largest to date in the United States.

Outside the office window, oil cleanup workers wearing white Tyvek suits arrive in a boat, apparently to collect samples from the silvery sheen of the river’s surface.

The river has been closed for over a year.

READ @ http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/10/2011101151776808.html

Oct 262011



By clencher, Daily Kos diarist

The Occupy Wall Street movement, now in its second month, is a protest force of nature. Unions, progressive organizations, community organizers, even big ‘D’ Democrats are coming out in support. If your nonprofit or political organization hasn’t come out with a public position on the #occupy movement, maybe you should check for a pulse.

But never mind our organizational homes. As individuals we can jump right in without further ado. And what better way than with our skill sets as digital strategists, online organizers, social media gurus, and branding experts? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Joining the movement can be a challenge. Existing systems are designed with full time occupiers in mind, not volunteers with an hour, a day, or a specific task in mind.

So here’s a guide, by a digital strategist, for digital strategists. If I’ve missed some useful tips, add them below.

READ @ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/25/1029856/-Finding-Your-Place-With-Occupy-Wall-Street:-A-Guide-for-Digital-Strategists-Online-Organizers?via=siderecent



By Noel Brinkerhoff

Established by Congress to investigate and expose government waste, the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan has decided to not reveal its volumes of materials to the public for another two decades.

After three years of work, the commission officially shut down last week, having concluded that the U.S. misspent between $31 billion and $60 billion in contracting for services in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But it won’t allow its records to be opened for public review at the National Archives until 2031, because some of the documents contain “sensitive information,” according to one official.

Steven Aftergood, an expert on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, told The Wall Street Journal that the 20-year term “seems like a long period of time, particularly for a commission whose whole purpose is to improve accountability and expose waste.”

READ @ http://www.allgov.com/Controversies/ViewNews/Wartime_Contracting_Panel_Seals_Records_for_Next_20_Years_111025



By Patrick Cockburn

… “The problem is that nobody trusts the government or the opposition because people blame them for starting the crisis in the first place,” he said.

The sense that those who caused the crisis are getting away with it is damaging the government. One banner carried at the march yesterday said: “When injustice prevails, then resistance is a duty.” Vasilis Zorbas, a doctor who is Mayor of the Agia Paraskevi district of Athens, said: “The Greeks are unhappy because of the impunity of those who made money at their expense.” He said he had two unemployed children, whose only option may be to emigrate.

A former minister from the ruling Pasok party, who requested anonymity, said: “It is this feeling of a lack of justice that is making people very angry. Everybody knows the names of ministers who helped themselves [to money] and took bribes but nobody touches them.” It is repeatedly alleged that ministers and MPs have not cut their own salaries significantly, though the system of bonuses and allowances is so complex that this is difficult to confirm.

READ @ http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/10/24/fury-mounts-among-greek-people/



By Matt Taibbi

… Cain said he believed that the protesters are driven by envy of the rich.

“I find the one thing [the protesters] have in common revolves around the human emotions of envy and entitlement,” he said. “What you have is more than what I have, and I’m not happy with my situation.”

Cain seems like a nice enough guy, but I nearly blew my stack when I heard this. When you take into consideration all the theft and fraud and market manipulation and other evil shit Wall Street bankers have been guilty of in the last ten-fifteen years, you have to have balls like church bells to trot out a propaganda line that says the protesters are just jealous of their hard-earned money.

Think about it: there have always been rich and poor people in America, so if this is about jealousy, why the protests now? The idea that masses of people suddenly discovered a deep-seated animus/envy toward the rich – after keeping it strategically hidden for decades – is crazy.

READ @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/owss-beef-wall-street-isnt-winning-its-cheating-20111025



Income inequality and the death of culture in New York City

By Christopher Ketcham

Published in the November/December issue of Orion magazine

… New York, the FPI informs us, is now at the forefront of the maldistribution of wealth into the hands of the few that has been ongoing in America since 1980, which marked the beginning of a new Gilded Age. Out of the twenty-five largest cities, it 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. These top wealth recipients—let’s call them 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). That’s a high bar for wealth concentration; it’s 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. During the vaunted 2002–07 economic expansion—the housing-boom bubble that ended in our current calamity, this Great Recession—average income for the One Percenters in New York went up 119 percent. Meanwhile, the number of homeless in the city rose to an all-time high last year—higher even than during the Great Depression—with a record 113,000 men, women, and children, many of them comprising whole families, retreating night after night to municipal shelters.

But here’s the most astonishing fact: the One Percenters consist of just 34,000 households, about 90,000 people. Relative to the great mass of New Yorkers—9 million of us—they’re nobody. We could snow them under in a New York minute.

 READ @ http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6470/