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David Crosby and Graham Nash at Occupy Wall Street


 
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Teach Your Children,” released 41 years ago, was one of those tunes that seemed hopelessly corny when I first heard it, preachy in the worst hippie fashion.

As an 18-year-old flower child, CSN&Y’s Deja Vu was supposed to resonate with me—it did for most of my generation ( the album’s tracks wafted from open windows throughout Berkeley). But I was a flower child about to go to seed and their musical macramé left rope burns on what was left of my hippie dippy sensibility. I understand deja vu as a kind of compression of space and time, but when things move swiftly, stopping in your tracks to observe frozen, insistent memories is the very antithesis of what made the youth movement so vital—we were moving forward not looking back and certainly not letting deja vu trip us up. Had we been here before? No. It just feels familiar because it feels so fucking right.

CSN&Y seemed like a bunch of rich hipsters whose biggest concerns revolved around whether to cut their hair and self-doubt about their parenting skills. My hair was still long, would remain so, and all I cared about was screwing the chicks hanging out in Ho Chi Min Park.

Looking back, I figure CSN&Y, along with the wave of Topanga Canyon and Malibu longhair country-rock bands that followed in their wake, factored into why I was driven in the direction of Iggy And The Stooges and the MC5. For me, CSN&Y marked the point when the Sixties became too hopelessly self-referential, choking on its own patchouli scented vomit.

But fuck the past, right now this song and these guys seem very real and soulful to me thanks to this video. David Crosby and Graham Nash are looking forward and deja vu is now the middle space between what was and what is going to be.

Brothers, I salute you.

Still waiting for the “Street Fighting Men” and Mr. “Born To Run” to make the scene. Where’s the rock and roll 1% when we need ‘em?

The fact that you can’t have electronic pubic public address systems in Zuccotti Park results in an amplification system that is flesh, bone, blood and communal.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Occupy Wall Street teach-in with Douglas Rushkoff


 
“They say the Occupy movement has no leaders. They are wrong. YOU are the leaders! The rest of us are your followers! What you do here shows us what we can do out there.”

A history lesson about a 500-year old operating program that’s cramping our style in the 21st century delivered at Zuccotti Park today in downtown Manhattan by media theorist Douglas Rushkoff.

“If you can sleep under tarps, the rest of us can tell your story to our children at bedtime…”

Beautiful. I love it. Please spread this message far and wide. Shot by Janine Saunders.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Occupy Fox News


 
This commercial ran three times during Wednesday night’s episode of The O’Reilly Factor. It’s also aired on Bloomberg, ESPN, the History Channel and elsewhere

If you’d like to chip in to buy more national media time for this Occupy Wall Street ad and others, you can do so via Loudsauce.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Ohio Gov John Kasich is an idiot


 

After seeing over two million voters deliver a whopping 61% to 39% rejection of his party’s strong-arm tactics to strip collective bargaining rights from public employees, Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich did one of those “open mouth and remove all doubt” things they tell fools not to do:

At a news conference Tuesday night, Mr. Kasich congratulated the winners and said he would assess the situation before proposing any new legislation. “It’s time to pause,” he said. “The people have spoken clearly.”

When asked about the people’s message, Mr. Kasich said, “They might have said it was too much too soon.”

“They might have said”? Might? Might nothing asshole, it was a 61% to 39% vote! Even reliably Republican counties voted against harming their friends and neighbors. No one except stupid people in the state ever believed GOP union-busting had anything to do with creating jobs. And to demonize teachers, fire fighters and police officers as lazy, coddled bums? I mean the whole thing was just so… predictable.

“Too much, too soon”? Jon Stewart, here comes an easy work day, courtesy of one of the most tone-deaf politicians in America.. More people turned up to vote against SB-5 than voted for Kasish himself in the last election, even. This man is a fucking plank.

Attention Republicans! Let me spell it out for you:

The majority of the general public—the ones who aren’t braying asses, at least—does not want to cut government programs for people like themselves.

The American people are starting to wise up in an unprecedented manner to the bleak future our corporate overlords and their craven vassals like Kasish have planned for us. And so the Reichwing is starting to get a better sense of how deep the backlash is. This is why the GOP is stepping up their efforts to discourage voter registration among younger, older and poorer voters who tend to vote for Democrats. If you can’t beat ‘em… uh… try to change the rules mid-game, I suppose?

There’s a big problem in their math, though, and it’s a fatal error indeed: There are more of us than there are of them…

99 to one? I’ll take those odds!

As I am fond of reminding myself, demographics are a bitch for the Republican party... Even with the 1%‘s special interest money behind them, they’re still gonna lose and keeping losing until they’re just a minority party of cranky racist stingy “olds.” That’s pretty much what they are now, but when the Baby Boomers start dying off en masse (and it won’t be long before that happens) the Republican Party is toast.

Think of Republicans as newspaper subscribers. That’s how I think of them. Comforting thought isn’t it?

Meanwhile over in Wisconsin, Scott Walker must be absolutely pissing himself as he contemplates how brief his tenure in the governor’s office will have been and what his next career move will be since elected politics will probably not be much of an option for him moving forward…

The Walker recall efforts in WI got a big shot in the arm from labor’s HUGE win in Ohio. If you’d like to contribute to boot that Koch whore from office, you can donate at ActBlue.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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London Police prepared to use Rubber Bullets against Student Demonstrators

image
 
I recall years ago, during the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, an article in a Socialist Republican magazine that stated if rubber bullets were to be used in the 6 counties, then one day, they would be openly used by the police on mainland Britain.

That day has arrived, as Scotland Yard announced yesterday that baton rounds, or rubber bullets, have been authorized for a student demonstration in London tomorrow.

What the fuck? A student demonstration merits rubber bullets?

According to the Daily Mail:

Baton gun rounds have never been used on the British mainland, but they have been linked to deaths in Northern Ireland.

Commander Simon Pountain, who is in charge of the police operation, said armoured vehicles, known as Jankels, would also be on standby if the protests saw a repeat of this summer riots or the chaos last year during the student fees demonstrations.

Baton rounds were pre-authorised during August’s riots but were not used. This is the first time they have been pre-authorised for a planned protest march on the mainland.

The march, organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, is due to go from Bloomsbury in Central London to the City. It is being kept away from the St Paul’s anti-capitalism protest but activists from the cathedral camp are expected to join in.

Last year, the then Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson was criticised for only sending out 225 officers who were overwhelmed by hordes of rampaging student protesters smashing into the Conservative Party headquarters on November 10.

And on December 9, during another student protest, Prince Charles’s limousine was besieged in the worst royal security breach in a decade.

The Duchess of Cornwall’s face was a mask of terror as rioters swarmed around their Rolls-Royce Phantom VI, kicking, hitting and rocking the car. One managed to poke her with a stick through a window.

I wonder if the Duchess’s face will be a “mask of terror” should any students be shot with rubber bullets tomorrow?

Baton Rounds are made of aluminium and plastic, and are fired from a Heckler & Koch L104A1 Launcher.

6 inches in length, and weighing 5 ounce, they can travel up to 135mph and accurate to 70 yards.

Unlike rubber bullets which are fired into the ground, baton rounds are fired directly at a human target.

The blog on the Adam Smith Institute has described the police plans as:

...a worrying step towards a dangerous “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to riot control, and should be reversed.

Despite widespread public perception of them as relatively harmless method of crowd control, rubber bullets are extremely dangerous. In a study of 90 patients suffering from injuries from their use in Northern Ireland, one person died and 17 were permanently disabled or disfigured. Over 35 years of their use in Northern Ireland, they have killed 17 people. Rubber bullets can be lethal to those they are fired upon.

Perhaps such force was needed at times in Northern Ireland. But it’s obvious that student protesters won’t present the same level of danger to civilians and police officers as riots at the height of the Troubles. Previous student protests have turned ugly, but not on a wide scale. The types of clashes that took place would not have been avoided by rubber bullets.

While the Daily Telegraph notes:

The talk of baton rounds ahead of what is intended to be a peaceful protest caused some consternation.

One member of the Metropolitan Police Authority compared the tactic to one used by a “murderous dictatorship”.

Jenny Jones, the MPA Green Party members, said: “Any officer that shoots a student with a baton round will have to answer to the whole of London.

“The police have a duty to facilitate peaceful demonstrations, which is why all this talk of baton rounds is very unhelpful as it will stop ordinary people from exercising their right to protest.

“The prospect of the police shooting at unarmed demonstrators with any kind of bullet is frankly appalling, un-British and reminiscent of scenes currently being used by murderous dictatorships in the Middle East.”

10,000 students are expected to march tomorrow against Fees and Cuts, and its not just the threat of rubber bullets the police have been using to bully the students.

The Guardian reports that some demonstrators have been sent a warning letter by the police.

The single page letter, which arrived through letter boxes on Tuesday, reads: “It is in the public and your own interest that you do not involve yourself in any type of criminal or antisocial behaviour. We have a responsibility to deliver a safe protest which protects residents, tourists, commuters, protesters and the wider community. Should you do so we will at the earliest opportunity arrest and place you before the court.”

Signed by Simon Pountain, the Met commander leading Wednesday’s operations, the letter goes on to warn of detrimental effects of conviction on their chances of employment and says that if people find themselves near disorder they should move away at the earliest opportunity.

Let’s be clear - these actions by the police are ill-conceived and dumb. By sending out what can only be described as threatening letters and by announcing they intend to use baton rounds, if required, the police are showing they are more interested in bullying the public with the threat of violence, rather than protecting them.

For details of the tomorrow’s student demonstration by National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts check here.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Next for the Occupy movement: Debt strikes?


 

“If you owe the bank $1000, you’re at the mercy of the bank, if you owe the bank $1,000,000,000 the bank is at your mercy.”

A few weeks back, I attended an extraordinary event in New York organized by my longtime friend Douglas Rushkoff called “Contact.” It was a fascinating symposium about fighting corporate influence online and how to affect societal change using social media tools (more or less). The object of the day was to tease out four projects from the participants (a mix of 300 activists, tech entrepreneurs, intellectuals and media types) which could be practically realized, not just “pie in the sky” stuff. Four finalists got $10,000 awards from Pepsi to assist in concretizing these ideas.

At first, the conference, which took place at a stunning former synagogue on the Lower East Side known as The Angel Orensanz Center, got off to a bumpy start. Whenever someone would raise their hand and say something too fuzzy like “I’d like to start an online forum for people to discuss social issues” this got back a politely, yet dismissive “Uh, what, specifically, do you mean by that?” response from Rushkoff, who led the sessions. His firm conceptual herding caused a rapid focusing of the group mind into projects that had not just viability—and utility, of course—but that could actually be manifested within days or weeks.

There were a lot of worthy, even brilliant, ideas kicked around that day, but the first one that really caused me to take notice was when one of the participants stood up and said he’d like to create an online tool to facilitate and organize a mass debt strike against the banks and the government. There was an immediate “x factor” that this notion tapped into (my guess is that Occupy Wall Street was supported by 100% of the room) and “Kick-Stopper,” as the project was dubbed, became one of the four finalists.

When the conference broke down into smaller discussion groups—I was one of the judges of who would get the Pepsi cash—I silently observed the debt strike enthusiasts’ conversation with interest. I was somewhat less enamored of the concept when Thomas Gokey, an adjunct professor at Syracuse University who proposed the idea, said that maybe the money owed to the banks could be held in escrow accounts, eventually getting paid to the banks, but only after they’d agreed to certain demands and reforms. To some of the people seated on pillows in the venue’s balcony, this seemed like a reasonable approach, but at least half the group groaned and expressed the more punk rock sentiment of “fuck the banks, they’ll get NONE of it” which seemed like a much better position to take, to my mind.

Stiffing the fuckers is something they’ll understand…

I’m not sure where they got with it in the end with the escrow vs. the fuck the banks question, but Kick-Stopper, as I mentioned, was one of the four finalists and you can follow the progress they are making here. Sarah Jaffe, who was at the Contact event, wrote about the debt strike concept at length at AlterNet:

“I wanted to do this project because I kept having the same basic conversation with everyone at Zuccotti and everywhere else,” Gokey told me. “When I talk to people about what we could do that would really compel Congress and Wall Street to meet our demands or really alter the current system, we inevitably start discussing what non-cooperation with our own oppression would look like. What does it mean to stop cooperating with the banks? What we inevitably end up describing is some variation of a debt strike, simply ending our own participation in a system that exploits us.”

—snip—

“The problem is that a debt-strike will take a lot of coordination to make it work,” Thomas Gokey points out, “It can’t just be one person who is willing to risk their financial life, it only works when there are millions of people who are willing to take that risk together, and they are only going to take that risk if they can feel confident that everyone else has got their back.”

That in part is what Gokey hoped to solve by bringing the debt strike idea to ContactCon, but it’s not the only one. Lerner points out that the debt strike also needs targets, demands and an answer to the question, “Who pays?”

“There should be debt forgiveness, but these guys—the student loan profiteers—should eat it, not the government and taxpayers,” he points out. “The banks should pay because they destroyed the economy, they sucked 18-year-olds into predatory loans they are stuck with for life.”

Hear, hear! Imagine the indignity of graduating from college with $100,000 of student loan debt nipping at your heels and today’s nearly non-existent job prospects. It’s absurd.

I’m not an expert in this sort of thing, but apparently you can’t charge off student loans in bankruptcy, they’ll just attach your wages, so a collective action to withhold student loan payments (and credit card debt) at a time when half the country is skint could gather critical mass rather quickly, I’d imagine. Everyone else got a bail-out, why shouldn’t you?

My prediction: You’re going to be hearing the term “debt strike” used a lot in the coming months.

(For the record, I have not a single cent of student loan debt. I didn’t go to college and I have no skin in this game. Education should be free for anyone who wants to learn and better themselves.)

Debtor’s Revolution: Are Debt Strikes Another Possible Tactic in the Fight Against the Big Banks? (AlterNet)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The Story of Broke: Rebuild the American Dream, better


 
A must see. Simple, clear, to the point:

The United States isn’t broke; we’re the richest country on the planet and a country in which the richest among us are doing exceptionally well. But the truth is, our economy is broken, producing more pollution, greenhouse gasses and garbage than any other country. In these and so many other ways, it just isn’t working. But rather than invest in something better, we continue to keep this ‘dinosaur economy’ on life support with hundreds of billions of dollars of our tax money. The Story of Broke calls for a shift in government spending toward investments in clean, green solutions—renewable energy, safer chemicals and materials, zero waste and more—that can deliver jobs AND a healthier environment. It’s time to rebuild the American Dream; but this time, let’s build it better.

 

 
Thank you Glen E. Friedman of New York City!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Joe Rogan: Police & Occupy Wall Street


 
Comedian Joe Rogan rants with some serious observations on what’s going down.

“Is this fuckin’ Chicago in the sixties? What the fuck is this?

Audio excerpt from The Joe Rogan Experience podcast put to some appropriate visuals.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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We are Legion: Watch the trailer for upcoming Anonymous documentary
11.07.2011
02:34 pm

Topics:
Activism
Class War
Movies
Politics
Punk

Tags:
Anonymous


 
Revolutionary chic is back in a big way these days and it just warms my heart..We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists is an upcoming documentary from Luminant Media that will tell the story of today’s online cyber activists “Anonymous” by tracing the origins of the movement from the earliest days of the incipient hacker scene to the present day. “We Are Legion is promised in 2012 so… expect it.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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How to cripple Wall Street with a simple three-Item agenda


 
A guest editorial from our super smart pal, Charles Hugh Smith, cross-posted from his essential Of Two Minds blog.

There are really only three ways to cripple Wall Street’s democracy-killing concentration of wealth and power: take our money out of Wall Street and the TBTF banks, eliminate private money from elections and abolish Wall Street’s dealer, the Federal Reserve.

There are only three things—and only these three—that will cripple Wall Street’s democracy-killing concentration of wealth and power:

1. Transfer the 99%‘s money out of Wall Street and the Too Big To Fail Banks

2. Remove campaign contributions from our democracy in a way that the corporate legalist lackeys in the Supreme Court cannot overturn, i.e. entirely publicly financed elections

3. Abolish Wall Street’s dealer, pusher and protector, the Federal Reserve.

My reasoning is very simple:

Everything else people want to see happen cannot happen if:

1) Wall Street and the SDI (systemically dangerous institutions) a.k.a. too big to fail banks, control most Americans’ financial assets and debts

2) The Federal Reserve exists to enable and protect the SDI’s wealth and power via Primary Dealers, the discount window and other pusher/dealer mechanisms

3) Wall Street and the other SDIs can use the billions of dollars they skim from our accounts, IRAs, 401Ks and pensions to buy political influence and protection from regulation and competition.

Therefore these are the necessary foundations of any real change.

As long as Wall Street and the other SDIs control much of the nation’s financial markets, assets and debts, and the Federal Reserve exists to protect and enable their predation and parasitic skimming, they will have the means to reap billions in profits which can then be funneled into our cash-corrupted political system of for-sale toadies and apparatchiks.

The only real leverage we have is our money and our compliance. Leaving our money in Wall Street and the Too Big to fail banks enables their dominance. Leaving our money in checking accounts, money market funds, savings accounts and brokerage accounts, and then using credit and debit cards issued by the SDIs, is to remain deeply complicit in their dominance.

This concept is now entering the cultural dialog, for example this recent entry on Zero Hedge: Want To Defeat The Banks? Stop Participating In The System!

Frequent Of Two Minds contributor Harun I. summed the argument up even more forcefully:

I applaud this movement only if people are coming to the recognition that, collectively, we as a nation have been wrong and now need to move in a different direction. We must now engage in discussing how best to do so.
However, I remain skeptical. Why are the TBTF banks still operating? From fraud to extortion to money laundering for drug cartels, the list of crimes against humanity is quite clear and long. Exactly what does it take before people will stop doing business with demonstrably corrupt entities?

And now there is a General Strike scheduled. I am all for it. But understand that our government will borrow the shortfall and nothing meaningful other than an increase in public debt will occur.

However, if you want to see an instantaneous and dramatic effect, every person close every account they have with all the TBTF banks and their subsidiaries on the same day.

Immediately or almost immediately they would have to be taken into receivership, their assets marked to market and sold off. The End.

Why destroy the TBTF banks? Most of them are Primary Dealers. The Fed then comes under pressure as it becomes the only lender of resort.

Then, once we have gotten their attention we tackle monetary reform, lobbying, and term limit in Congress and the Supreme Court.

It is time for government to “fear the people”. Rest assured that if government does not fear the people, nothing will change.

As for the Supreme Court’s legalist worship of the Corporate State: I believe this court will be remembered by history as the court which veered close enough to Corporate-State fascism to give it a big wet kiss. Corporate “rights” of personhood? No problem, you got it! The “right” to fund unlimited campaign contributions? No problem, you got it!

“Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” Benito Mussolini

We might profitably ask how the Founding Fathers would have responded to calls that the U.S. Constitution should contain a clause granting the East India Company the same rights of personhood as U.S. citizens, and then further granting it the unlimited right to buy political favors as a function of “free speech.”

One wonders how any of the Revolutionary War veterans among the Founding Fathers might have responded to such toadying claptrap. Yet this is precisely what the corporate toadies in the flowing black robes claim is “defended” by the U.S. Constitution.

A close reading of the Constitution reveals no amendments or clauses granting private corporations personhood, or granting them the right to inject unlimited sums of money to sway elections. If we turn to the Federalist Papers, we find fear of a “tyranny of the minority”—and what is a private corporation but an extreme minority bent on purchasing a limited but oppressive, exploitative and parasitical tyranny?

The legalist lackeys on the Supreme Court have hidden far too long behind the reputation of the Court—a reputation punctured by history, we might note—as a forum of disinterested legal debate. Rather, the court is nothing but another collection of imperfect human beings who are easily swayed by the tenor of the times and the ideological agendas of the wealthy and powerful. (“These are not the campaign reforms you’re looking for. Move along.”)

Given that we have a court that worships Corporate-State fascism slicked over with a thin veneer of democracy for public relations purposes—every single attempt to limit corporate campaign contributions has been struck down by the court—then our only choice as a people is to ban all private money contributions and institute a system of 100% publicly financed elections. Yes, it’s imperfect, and yes, it’s messy and costly, but nowhere near as corrupting and costly to liberty as the Corporate-State fascism we now endure.

Libertarians may be aghast at this option, but we have been reduced by the legalist lackeys in the Supreme Court to this choice: either we continue to be ruled by the corrupting corporate-State nexis of unlimited corporate/private Elites funding of elections, or we go with public financing. Thanks to the Supreme Court, there is no other choice.

As a lagniappe thought: one of the primary concerns of many “OWS/we are the 99” supporters is rising income disparity. That is a legitimate concern in any nation claiming to be a democracy with a free-market economy. Yet a close examination of the roots of income disparity and rising poverty leads straight to the Federal Reserve.

Winners And Losers: The New Economy (Zero Hedge)

What Mr. Gross and Mr. Frank and many others don’t see is that it is the creation of fiat money that destroys wealth and misdirects the investment of capital into less productive assets. That is, monetary inflation destroys capital (wealth). The reason why the production of goods and services do not bear higher yields than financial assets is that the production of goods and services suffers from a lack of real capital. Remember that real capital comes only from the saved profits of production and from the savings of workers from wages earned in production.

You obviously cannot print wealth, but if you try that fiat money distorts the entire economy by directing investment to things which appear to appreciate but what is really happening is that the dollar is depreciating. As a result, fiat money and real capital are invested in financial assets because they appear to have greater yields than returns from the production of goods. Prices rise (price inflation) and it creates the inevitable boom which always busts. The fall out is that we are stuck with things people don’t want (in the present re/depression it is housing). And we fall for it every time.

Allow me to simplify the argument:

1. The Federal Reserve has financialized the economy as an intrinsic expression of its reason for being.

2. Financialization necessarily creates systemically rising income disparity.

I think that’s all we need to understand to grasp the utmost importance of abolishing the Federal Reserve, a private banking monopoly created and protected by our Congress. Limiting Wall Street and the TBTF banks is structurally impossible as long as the Federal Reserve exists.

Written by Charles Hugh Smith, cross-posted from Of Two Minds.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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