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The Raid on Zuccotti Park


Above, “fair and balanced” Fox News graphic. Apparently even the art department there is staffed with braying assess.

Casey Neistat put together this “music video” of this week’s eviction of the Zuccotti Park protesters, cut to the music of guess which Frank Sinatra standard?

My office isn’t far from Zuccotti Park and when I heard it was being cleared I went down with my camera. I ended up filming for 18 hours until the Park was reopened at 6pm on November 15, 2011. The police presence was overwhelming, more than I’ve ever - more than during the blackout, more than the days after September 11th.

 

 
Via Glen E. Friedman

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Meet the pepper-sprayed face of the Occupy Wall Street movement


Dorli Rainey 84, after being pepper sprayed at Occupy Seattle protest: Photo by Joshua Trujillo, SeattlePI.com

An 84-year-old woman pepper-sprayed by cops during the evicition of Occupy Seattle has become the accidental poster girl for the movement in a photo that’s getting seen around the world this morning:

Via the Keep Your Boehner Out of My Uterus Tumblr blog:

I have only posted about OWS one other time. I just can’t let this go by. 

This is what can happen to you and your body if you just show up, place your body somewhere that freaks out the establishment, and actively protest the problems inherent and rampant in the system. This type of over-reaction by the authorities is something that people of color and minorities face ALL THE TIME simply for being, let’s remember. But seriously, Holy Fuck.

We owe it to this woman to look in her eyes, to see her face, to SEE her. We owe it to her to hold her gaze, to not move our eyes away because it is hard to look. We need to keep looking at her specifically BECAUSE it is hard to look. 

Meanwhile, Occupy Wall Street ain’t going anyplace... Here’s a nifty history lesson via Rachel Maddow. This is some damned good reporting.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Clash bassist Paul Simonon arrested as an ‘undercover’ Greenpeace activist


 
“When they kick at your front door, how you gonna go?”

God bless former Clash bassist Paul Simonon. I’ve always considered him to one of the coolest motherfuckers alive and this only elevates my opinion of him even further into the stratosphere: According to an article in today’s Guardian, Simonon recently spent time as an “undercover” activist on board the MV Esperanza, one of the ships of the Greenpeace fleet, working as a cook, and apparently quite a good one, too:

Simonon was one of 18 activists arrested in June, after the Esperanza launched speedboats at the Leiv Eriksson oil rig off the coast of Greenland. Greenpeace was protesting against the Arctic rig, whose owners had allegedly refused to disclose their oil-spill disaster plan. “It’s obvious why Cairn [Energy] won’t tell the world how it would clean up a BP-style oil spill here in the Arctic, and that’s because it can’t be done,” campaigner Ben Ayliffe explained at the time.

“We stormed the oil rig,” Simonon said. “They said if you don’t get off … we’re going to phone the authorities in Greenland and say you’ve hijacked the oil rig, and the police will come and arrest you. And that’s pretty much what happened.”

According to Greenpeace, Simonon joined the mission weeks before. He first approached the group’s UK action coordinator Frank Heweston, asking if he could “make a stand against Arctic oil drilling” by becoming part of a ship’s crew. Heweston agreed on the condition that Simonon go undercover. “Paul the assistant cook” was embraced by his peers, recalled third mate Martti Leinonen, as a “quiet, humble and funny guy”. “He worked really hard, cooking even on Sundays, which is usually the cook’s day off.”

After the Esperanza protesters were arrested, Simonon spent two weeks in a cell – still keeping his identity a secret. “The food was so bad, we finally got the guards to agree to let Paul cook,” Leinonen said. “He makes excellent vegetarian food.”

Although he is no longer a member of the Esperanza crew, Simonon paid tribute to his former associates at a gig earlier this week. Together with Damon Albarn and the rest of the Good, the Bad and the Queen, Simonon performed for Greenpeace supporters on the deck of the Rainbow Warrior II, moored in the Thames.

The man is a total bad-ass. I love this story!
 

 
After the jump, some live concert footage of The Good, The Bad & The Queen performing on the Rainbow Warrior II a few days ago…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Official statement from Occupy Wall Street regarding the eviction from Zuccotti Park


 
Here’s the press release sent out today by Occupy Wall Street in answer to last night’s eviction of Zuccotti Park:

New York, NY — A massive police force is presently evicting Liberty Square, home of Occupy Wall Street for the past two months and birthplace of the 99% movement that has spread across the country and around the world

The raid started just after 1:00am. Supporters and allies are mobilizing throughout the city, presently converging at Foley Square. Supporters are also planning public actions for the coming days, including occupation actions.

Two months ago a few hundred New Yorkers set up an encampment at the doorstep of Wall Street. Since then, Occupy Wall Street has become a national and even international symbol — with similarly styled occupations popping up in cities and towns across America and around the world. A growing popular movement has significantly altered the national narrative about our economy, our democracy, and our future.

Americans are talking about the consolidation of wealth and power in our society, and the stranglehold that the top 1% have over our political system. More and more Americans are seeing the crises of our economy and our democracy as systemic problems, that require collective action to remedy. More and more Americans are identifying as part of the 99%, and saying “enough!”

This burgeoning movement is more than a protest, more than an occupation, and more than any tactic. The “us” in the movement is far broader than those who are able to participate in physical occupation. The movement is everyone who sends supplies, everyone who talks to their friends and families about the underlying issues, everyone who takes some form of action to get involved in this civic process.

This moment is nothing short of America rediscovering the strength we hold when we come together as citizens to take action to address crises that impact us all.

Such a movement cannot be evicted. Some politicians may physically remove us from public spaces — our spaces — and, physically, they may succeed. But we are engaged in a battle over ideas. Our idea is that our political structures should serve us, the people — all of us, not just those who have amassed great wealth and power. We believe that is a highly popular idea, and that is why so many people have come so quickly to identify with Occupy Wall Street and the 99% movement.

You cannot evict an idea whose time has come.

Below, footage from last night’s eviction of protesters from the park by heavy-handed NYPD tactics (tear gas, billy clubs and A BULLDOZER?)
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Capitalism is like cigarettes


 
Capitalism is like cigarettes by diomedes77, blogging at Daily Kos. Since this is so short and there’s no way to elegantly excerpt it, I’m posting the whole thing here with apologies to diomedes77. Something tells me that diomedes77 probably won’t mind seeing this message spread here, too:

And neither liberals, progressives or conservatives understand what that means.

The right wants their ciggies without filters. Liberals and progressives, OTOH, want to smoke, too, but they want filters in place. Even smart liberals and progressives, who seem to get that smoking is bad for you and why, don’t want to get rid of cigarettes. They just want to “contain” the damage they do. They can’t make the logical leap to ridding the planet of those ciggies entirely. They can’t seem to draw the logical inference that even filtered cigarettes cause cancer.

Conservatives and right-wing libertarians (propertarians) want their capitalism straight up, no mixer, no ice. Progressives and liberals want to add soda, pour it on the rocks, and drink a lot of water afterwards. But they still get drunk, just like righties, and their livers are still rotten.

No matter what we do to capitalism, no matter how we filter it or mix it with soda or pour it on the rocks, it’s never going to be anything more than an infernal machine to create economic apartheid and destroy the planet. Its very nature is to extract wealth and resources from the earth, workers and consumers and hoover it all up to the very top, thus forever creating massive inequality. Baked right into the system is theft—theft from workers, consumers and Nature itself. It’s very nature is irredeemably in conflict with the interests of the vast majority of humans and the planet itself.

It can not be “managed” or “filtered” or sustained. It must always expand, and its expansion means greater and greater instability, inequality and the destruction of our environment. It is nothing but a cancer, and its own “success” means the destruction of its host.

If the OWS movement is not “anti-capitalist” at its very core, then it is nothing but a movement to filter and manage and contain some of the damage fomented automatically by our economic system. If it is not in favor of an entirely new, structurally egalitarian economic system, then it might as well just call itself “The Third Way” or “No Labels” and be done with it.

Want to reverse the tide of inequality that has swept the world? Want to reverse the damage wrought on our environment, our seas, our land? Want to create a livable future for everyone? Then we must stop deluding ourselves that capitalism can be “fixed”. It is beyond redemption.

 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Egyptian women’s group calls on men to try out the veil

Men_Veil1
 
Aliaa El Mahdy, an Egyptian university student, is changing the way men view women by setting up a Facebook page, where Egyptian men can post photographs of themselves wearing veils. The page called Resounding Cries, was launched on November 1st and has had dozens of men sending in their snaps - though not everyone is happy with what El Mahdy is doing, as she explained to France 24:

For me, the veil is not a personal choice in Egypt, but the result of social and religious pressure. The girls I know who wear the veil do so because of their families or to avoid being hassled in the street. I don’t see why we should always dictate what women must wear and never what men must wear. Asking guys to put on the veil, if only for the time it takes to take the photo, is a way of saying to them ‘See how this feels!”

The other reason I launched this page is because society still considers women as sex objects. [83% of Egyptian women claim to have been victims of sexual harassment. Some women feel that the veil is a necessary form of protection against assault] . Many people, even on television, denounce the harassment of women in Egypt, but in my opinion this is not enough.

Obviously, I have been attacked and insulted because of this Facebook page. Some Internet users have responded to me by citing verses of the Koran. I realise that this is shocking for a conservative society like ours, but I am not going to change my ideas because of that.

Though there has been some controversy over Aliaa El Mahdy’s idea, there has been some support for holding a peaceful demonstration in Tahrir Square, in Cairo, which would be a very positive thing to see happen.
 
Veil_Men2
 
2 more pics, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Eric Cantor gets ‘mic-checked’ by Occupy Houston


 
A look at lick-spittle lackey of the 1%, Republican House Majority leader Eric Cantor, getting “mic-checked” by Occupy Houston and some Rice University grad students.

There is no schadenfreude quite as satisfying for me as Republican schadenfreude, but when something uncomfortable happens to Eric Cantor in particular, hey, it gets even better!

On a related note, read The Republican Party’s time has come— and gone by Laurence Lewis over at Daily Kos:

The Republican Party needs to be put out of its misery. A functioning Republic needs at least one opposition party, but the current and likely final iteration of the Republican Party is not it. The current iteration of the Democratic Party could be it, should it continue to fail to live up to its greatest history and increasingly mythological ideals, but that would depend on the creation of a legitimately viable progressive party, and for now at least that is not going to happen. But for the Democratic Party to recapture the magic of its greatest history, or failing that for a legitimately viable liberal party to emerge from the wreckage that is our current political system, the Republican Party must be put out of its misery. Whether you are a loyal Democrat, a wavering frustrated Democrat, a progressive Independent, or whether you are dreaming of the emergence of a legitimately viable liberal alternative, the Republican Party must be put out of its misery. All liberals and progressives should be able to unite behind that idea. Because if the Republican Party is put out of its misery, the Democrats no longer will be able to use the Republicans as excuse or foil and will once and for all finally be forced to prove what they are or aren’t really about.

The embarrassment of embarrasments that is the Republican presidential field ought to be the final proof that the Republican Party has ceased to serve any valuable role in our political system. The lunatics have taken over. The Republican rejection of science and rationality once served various tactical purposes, but in previous generations it always was a feint to the theocrats whose primary political purpose for the Republicans was to enable the kleptocrats and the neo-Royalists. But while the Republican financial base continues to be those extremely wealthy who lack all conscience, its voting base now is the ignorant and the reality challenged. Most of the current Republican presidential field is not merely playing to this base, it is of it. No serious person can look at Herman Cain or Rick Perry or Ron Paul or Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum and see a future president. In a less surreal world these would be but cartoon characters. And yet one of them or someone equally absurd still may become the Republican presidential nominee. The base of the party desperately hopes so.

Continue reading The Republican Party’s time has come— and gone (Daily Kos)
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The New Progressive Movement: #OWS signals the end of the Reagan era


 
In an inspiring Op Ed piece in today’s New York Times, Columbia University’s Jeffrey D. Sachs takes but a few paragraphs to thoroughly demolish the dominant ur-myths of the past three decades of Republican politics, and to illustrate how the New Progressive Era is already upon us.

Both clueless Democrats and ignorant, rightwing assholes like Frank Miller should read this short essay very carefully:

Occupy Wall Street and its allied movements around the country are more than a walk in the park. They are most likely the start of a new era in America. Historians have noted that American politics moves in long swings. We are at the end of the 30-year Reagan era, a period that has culminated in soaring income for the top 1 percent and crushing unemployment or income stagnation for much of the rest. The overarching challenge of the coming years is to restore prosperity and power for the 99 percent.

Thirty years ago, a newly elected Ronald Reagan made a fateful judgment: “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” Taxes for the rich were slashed, as were outlays on public services and investments as a share of national income. Only the military and a few big transfer programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits were exempted from the squeeze.

Reagan’s was a fateful misdiagnosis. He completely overlooked the real issue — the rise of global competition in the information age — and fought a bogeyman, the government. Decades on, America pays the price of that misdiagnosis, with a nation singularly unprepared to face the global economic, energy and environmental challenges of our time.

Washington still channels Reaganomics. The federal budget for nonsecurity discretionary outlays — categories like highways and rail, education, job training, research and development, the judiciary, NASA, environmental protection, energy, the I.R.S. and more — was cut from more than 5 percent of gross domestic product at the end of the 1970s to around half of that today. With the budget caps enacted in the August agreement, domestic discretionary spending would decline to less than 2 percent of G.D.P. by the end of the decade, according to the White House. Government would die by fiscal asphyxiation.

Both parties have joined in crippling the government in response to the demands of their wealthy campaign contributors, who above all else insist on keeping low tax rates on capital gains, top incomes, estates and corporate profits. Corporate taxes as a share of national income are at the lowest levels in recent history. Rich households take home the greatest share of income since the Great Depression. Twice before in American history, powerful corporate interests dominated Washington and brought America to a state of unacceptable inequality, instability and corruption. Both times a social and political movement arose to restore democracy and shared prosperity.

Sachs goes on to state what already seems self-evident to many of us:

This is just the beginning.

The young people in Zuccotti Park and more than 1,000 cities have started America on a path to renewal. The movement, still in its first days,  will have to expand in several strategic ways. Activists are needed among shareholders, consumers and students to hold corporations and politicians to account. Shareholders, for example, should pressure companies to get out of politics. Consumers should take their money and purchasing power away from companies that confuse business and political power. The whole range of other actions — shareholder and consumer activism, policy formulation, and running of candidates — will not happen in the park.

The New Progressive Movement (The New York Times)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Inside Occupy Wall Street


 
“The anti-globalization movement was the first step on the road. Back then, our model was to attack the system like a pack of wolves. There was an alpha male, a wolf who led the pack, and those who followed behind. Now the model has evolved. Today we are one big swarm of people.” —Raimundo Viejo

The “story” of Occupy Wall Street has been in small chunks via thousands of articles, news reports, viral videos and blog posts—my personal account of what I saw is here—but this in-depth report from Jeff Sharlet at Rolling Stone is a particularly insightful look at the movement from the earliest days (ahem, STILL less than two months ago!). Sharlet actually slept in Zuccotti Park himself, one of the first journalists I’ve read who has done so. I didn’t find anything in this article that didn’t jibe with my own direct experiences of what I saw at OWS myself. This is some good journalism:

On August 2nd, the New York City General Assembly convened for the first time in Lower Manhattan, right by the market’s bronze icon, “Charging Bull,” snorting in perpetuity. It wasn’t the usual protest crowd. “The traditional left – the unions, the progressive academics, the community organizations – wanted nothing to do with this in the beginning,” says Marisa Holmes, a 25-year-old filmmaker from Columbus, Ohio, who was working on a BBC documentary called Creating Freedom, about why people rebel. “I think it’s telling that, of the early participants, so many were artists and media makers.”

Even the instigators and architects present at the creation marvel at how things just happened. “It was a magic moment,” says Kalle Lasn, Adbusters’ 69-year-old co-founder. “After that, things took on a life of their own, and then it was out of our hands.”

Adbusters’ call to arms had been timid by the standards of the movement quickly taking form. The magazine had proposed a “worldwide shift in revolutionary tactics,” but their big ideas went no further than pressuring Obama to appoint a presidential commission on the role of money in politics. In Lasn’s imagination, though, that would be just the start. “We knew, of course, that Egypt had a hard regime change where a torturous dictator was removed,” he says, “but many of us felt that in America, a soft regime change was possible.”

Possible, but not likely. They were still thinking in inches. “To be perfectly honest, we thought it might be a steppingstone, not the establishment of a whole thing,” says David Graeber, a 50-year-old anthropologist and anarchist whose teaching gig at Yale was not renewed, some suspect, because he took part in radical actions. It was Graeber who gave the movement its theme: “We are the 99 percent.” He also helped rescue it from the usual sorry fate of the left in America, the schisms and infighting over who’s in charge. He had shown up at the August 2nd meeting thinking it was an Adbusters thing; he was surprised to find a rally dominated by the antiquated ideas of the Cold War left. “This is bullshit,” Graeber thought. He recognized a Greek anarchist organizer, Georgia Sagri, and with her help identified kindred spirits. “We looked around. I didn’t recognize faces, everybody was so young. I went by T-shirts – Zapatistas, Food Not Bombs.” Anarchists in name or inclination. He calls them the “horizontal crowd” because they loathe hierarchy. “It was really just tapping on shoulders. And a lot of people said, ‘Shit, yeah.’”

Inside Occupy Wall Street: How a bunch of anarchists and radicals with nothing but sleeping bags launched a nationwide movement (Rolling Stone)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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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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