WHY WE WON’T MOURN FOR MARGARET THATCHER

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Among other things … She sponsored a wave of racism claiming Britain was being “swamped by immigrants” – and then unleashed a reign of racist terror by the police on black communities across the country, notably in places like Brixton and Toxteth. At the same time she propped up Apartheid racism in South Africa branding Nelson Mandela a terrorist to the very end. She used the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s as an excuse to attack lesbians and gay men, bringing the anti-gay law, Section 28. And in case students thought they were getting off lightly she laid the foundation stone of the long campaign to transform education from a right into a privilege for the rich by introducing student loans.
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Why we Won’t Mourn for Margaret Thatcher
Written by Liverpool Trades Union Council   

Margaret Thatcher died on 8 April 2013 and the vast majority of ordinary people greeted her passing with undisguised joy.

The right wing media have tried to portray this response as the disrespectful behaviour of a minority. It isn’t. It is a fitting response to the death of a Tory prime minister who spent the entire 1980s wilfully attacking the poor and the working class, in Britain and abroad.

During her reign countless people lost their lives directly as a result of her policies – miners killed on the picket lines, ten Irish prisoners driven to death on hunger strike by her refusal to recognise their human rights, sailors on the Belgrano torpedoed on her order as their ship sailed away from a war zone, people driven to suicide by her selfish economic policies that increased inequality massively in Britain.

And of course in this city 96 Liverpool supporters died at a football match. She was up to her armpits in a conspiracy to blame the victims and their families for a tragedy that her hateful policing policies caused. And we have only just got an official recognition of how this cover up increased the terrible suffering that the families and survivors of this terrible event have had to endure for 24 long years.

Did Thatcher mourn for her victims? No. And we don’t mourn for her.

In Britain she destroyed industry after industry to break the power of the trade unions – in steel, in the mines, in the print and on the docks. She passed the most undemocratic and draconian anti-union laws in the west. She deregulated the banks and directly caused the regime of financial piracy that led to the recent financial crash.

Thatcher openly targeted our city – a city with strong trade union and socialist values –imposing savage cuts and then ousting a democratically elected Labour council that fought her. She launched her attacks on Liverpool after the Toxteth Rising in 1981, determined to make us pay for having fought back and determined to carry out a policy of the “managed decline” (her words) of our city.

After she had waged her neo-colonial war against Argentina in the Falklands/Malvinas in 1982 – a war designed to shore up Britain’s military prowess on the world stage and protect the interests of Britain’s bosses who could smell oil reserves in the South Atlantic and saw the islands as a potential future basis of operations – she returned to war on people she called “the enemy within”, trade unionists, workers, poor people and above all the miners. After all, the excuse that Argentina was ruled by a dictator didn’t wash given her lifelong support for the murderous General Pinochet in neighbouring Chile. This was a dictator she was happy to lavish praise on and arm to the teeth. He killed at least 30,000 Chilean trade unionists after his coup in 1973.

Thatcher spent untold millions killing Argentinians and then in 1984/85 bludgeoning British miners into submission after a year-long strike, and all for the same aim – to ensure that the country would be a land of plenty for the rich elite both at home and abroad. Mining communities were wrecked by her pit closure programme and criminalised by a police occupation of their villages when they fought back.

And having won both battles she went on, in her third term of office – to impose an unjust local tax on everyone – the poll tax. She brazenly piloted it in Scotland first in act of vengeful spite against a people who had rejected Toryism outright. This was one battle she lost as we fought back with all our might. Make no mistake, it may have been the Tory men in suits who moved against her in parliament, but they were only able to do it because we had made Britain virtually ungovernable through the great Poll Tax Rebellion.

During her time in office and even before she became prime minister Thatcher – who famously said, “there is no such thing as society” –did her best to harm all of those who stood for justice and equality? She took free milk away from schoolchildren. She sold off council houses creating a terrible shortage of affordable homes; she privatised industries and utilities so her loud mouthed mega rich friends in the City of London could make killing after killing on the stock markets. She closed down industries and then allowed a heroin epidemic to flourish in the ghost towns her policies had created.

She sponsored a wave of racism claiming Britain was being “swamped by immigrants” – and then unleashed a reign of racist terror by the police on black communities across the country, notably in places like Brixton and Toxteth. At the same time she propped up Apartheid racism in South Africa branding Nelson Mandela a terrorist to the very end. She used the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s as an excuse to attack lesbians and gay men, bringing the anti-gay law, Section 28. And in case students thought they were getting off lightly she laid the foundation stone of the long campaign to transform education from a right into a privilege for the rich by introducing student loans.

There is not one thing that Thatcher did that was good. Her life was a blot on our landscape. We are well rid of her – and we are outraged that at a time of major cuts in welfare she is being given a multi-million pound send off. What hypocrisy, what an insult to the poor of this country who are having to cope with the bedroom tax and the benefit cuts as over £10million is spent burying a person the majority of people in this country despise.

Which brings us to the main point we should all remember as she is dispatched – Thatcher may be dead but her legacy of sacrificing the livelihoods, the rights and communities of the working class on the altar of profit lives on in her descendants. Cameron and his gang of Etonian toffs are trying to finish off the job Thatcher started. It is our job to stop them and hurl Thatcher’s legacy back in their face. Which is why on the day of her funeral Liverpool Trades Union Council renews its commitment to stopping the cuts, axing the bedroom tax, saving the NHS and supporting workers’ struggles here, across the country and across the world. 

Source

 

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WHO SAID PALESTINE HAS NO OIL?

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Palestine’s Golden Oil

BY SAM BAHOUR

Underneath much of the Middle East lies the world’s oil supply, which is pumped year-round to keep the global economy humming along. In one special place in the Middle East—better known as the Holy Land—a different type of oil reigns supreme: olive oil. In this strategic region in the Levant, Palestine has a large amount of land devoted to the olive tree; about 45% of agricultural land in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) is planted with twelve million olive trees, the vast majority of which are in the West Bank, and its valuable, healthy fruits take center stage in the political conflict between Palestinians and Israelis every harvesting season.

Land is at the core of this conflict. Israel’s military has confiscated land for illegal Israeli settlements, erected an illegal “Separation Barrier” that separates Palestinian farmers from their plantations, and has not spared Palestinian olive groves: it has uprooted olive trees as a way of punishing the population. The vast majority of Palestinian olive trees are in the West Bank, which has 739,500 dunams (184,875 acres), or 98.6% of the total, whereas, the Gaza Strip had only 11,200 dunams (2,800 acres) of olive trees, which is 1.4%. However, in the Gaza Strip, over 7,300 dunums (1,825 acres) of land along the perimeter fence with Israel, previously cultivated with olive trees, were leveled during Israeli incursions in recent years. An olive seedling can take several decades to fully mature and many of Palestine’s olive trees are hundreds of years old. The horrifying reality is that Israel has added olive trees to their campaign to ethnically cleanse Palestinians and the result is that Palestine’s golden oil is becoming scarcer and much more dangerous to harvest.

olives on branches, Palestine

Photo credit: Vivien Sansour

Cultivating olive trees and harvesting this murky, tangy, golden liquid is the livelihood for approximately 100,000 Palestinian families. Olive picking is more than a seasonal chore—it is a way of life. Families tend to their olive trees all year round to harvest them in October and November. Family members, young and old, gather in the fields from early morning to sunset to share in the hard work of hand picking the olives, collecting them in large nylon bags, then hauling them to the nearest olive press to extract the valuable yield of olive oil. For the thousands of families who have harvested olives for generations, the value of land means little if not cultivated, hence the olive tree, being a lifelong investment in the land, takes on special meaning. It is not uncommon to find inheritances that distribute olive trees among descendants, thus one can understand how the Israeli destruction of trees is viewed as a direct, deliberate, and violent provocation.

Palestinian olive oil is sold locally this year for 400 NIS ($114) for a 16-kilogram jug. A recent Oxfam briefing paper, “The Road To Olive Farming,” notes that “in a good year, the [Palestinian] olive oil sector contributes over $100 million of income annually to some of the poorest communities.” This figure amounts to one quarter of the gross agricultural income in the OPT.

Olive oil cultivation is a core sector in Palestine’s economic mix. The Oxfam paper notes that “in 2006, 21,000 tons of olive oil remained [for export] once the needs of the domestic market had been met.” The global olive production industry is valued at over $10 billion; the export potential for Palestinian olives and olive oil has not even begun to be tapped.

olives on branches, Palestine

Photo credit: Vivien Sansour

When the Israeli occupation is not making its presence felt, the season of the olive harvest is absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately, the Israeli occupation cannot be ignored. The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the OPT issued an “Olive Harvest Factsheet” in October 2011 lists the threats facing Palestine’s olive sector:

  • 44 out of 66 [Separation] Barrier gates are only open during the harvest season, impeding the regular maintenance of the groves and undermining their productivity.
  • Some 40% of applications for “visitor permits” to access [Palestinian] olive groves behind the Barrier, submitted by Palestinians on the eve of the 2010 harvest season, were rejected.
  • In the vicinity of 55 Israeli settlements, Palestinian access to olive groves is limited to certain times during the harvest season, when Israeli forces are deployed on the ground.
  • Between January and September 2011, more than 7,500 olive trees belonging to Palestinians were uprooted, set on fire or otherwise vandalized by Israeli settlers.
  • Of 97 complaints about settler attacks against Palestinian trees, followed up by the Israeli NGO Yesh Din, none (zero) has so far led to the indictment of a suspect.

These facts speak for themselves. It is not enough that Israel has confiscated and illegally annexed Palestinian lands by constructing the Separation Barrier; Israel is determined to make sure that even those Palestinian lands that remain will be inaccessible for Palestinians to earn a dignified livelihood. But Palestinians are not known to give up so easily. Rural communities everywhere feel a deep attachment to their land, trees, and crops, more so than those who live in urban societies. It is this attachment that accounts in part for the Palestinian determination to carry on, focused on our right to work our lands.

The international solidarity that has been expressed by volunteers coming from all corners of the world to join in planting saplings in February and harvesting the olives in October is a tremendous source of strength. Whether you actually participate along side Palestinian farmers, buy Palestinian olives, olive oil and olive soap from anywhere in the world, or you are helping to get the word out to hold Israel accountable for its actions, together we are standing on the side of humanity in a conflict that seems to have none.

Written FOR

ON LABOUR DAY, AND EVERY OTHER DAY, LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL

 
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Don’t Just Look for Union Label

On Labor Day, Time To Rethink Old Progressive Mantra

By Ari Paul*

Labor Day has arrived, and families across the country will be getting their backyards ready for barbecues. In progressive circles, a familiar message is making the rounds: Buy union. Make sure your grill is a Weber or Thermador, made by union hands. Eat Butterball and Hebrew National franks. A list of brands has been circulating on social media sites with the goal of urging pro-labor consumers to support members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and other food sector and manufacturing unions.


Trade unionists encourage each other to “buy union” not only to show solidarity, but also to prop up unionized businesses. After all, nonunion competitors can afford to mark down their products, so it is up to us to keep union jobs alive. And we can punish anti-union companies by not giving them our business. The idea of letting your social conscience guide your purchases — whether it be boycotting or gorging on Chick-fil-A — is a familiar and popular American concept.

But at a time when a movement like Occupy Wall Street is proposing a new economic approach that isn’t based simply on stimulating consumer spending, perhaps this is the wrong approach. At the very least, we should examine at it a bit more critically.

I should make it known that I avoid anti-union FedEx. I don’t set foot in a Walmart unless I’m stranded in the middle of a highway in America with no other option. On more than one occasion, I’ve defended my preference for plebeian Budweiser or Miller High Life over more sophisticated micro-brews by pointing to the union label.

But this assumes that the benefits union workers have at these companies are the result not of collective action, which forced the employer to comply with worker demands, but of consumers lining the pockets of the bosses. Through active consumerism, the “buy union” narrative shifts the power to driving change from worker struggle. Furthermore, there is something terribly Reagan-istic about assuming that making bosses at unionized firms even richer will allow the wealth to trickle down to Joe Sixpack.

In fact, it often doesn’t. Many of the major strikes and lockouts in this country over the past several years — at Verizon, Sotheby’s, Mott’s (which is on the Labor Day BBQ list) and Caterpillar — involved companies demanding draconian wage and benefit concessions from workers not because of increased competition or falling revenues, but despite whopping profits.

Think of it this way: If I send a package via UPS (where workers are represented by the Teamsters) and my patronage helps keep the parcel company in the black, how can I expect the surplus to be used? Will it be voluntarily invested in a new safety program for workers or through increased pension contributions? Or will it go to corporate lawyers and public relations hacks to help fight the union in the next round of contract talks?

Also, if you look at the list of Labor Day “union” items, you see a lot of odious actors. Though its workers are unionized, Smithfield has been condemned by both labor groups and by animal rights activists for its atrocious slaughterhouse conditions. The list urges people to buy Coca-Cola products even though many unionists are boycotting the company for its connection to violence against labor organizers in Colombia. Hormel Red Franks is also on the list; in the mid-80s the company fought against its meatpackers and were successful in the campaign, which, along with Ronald Reagan’s firing of air traffic controllers. marked the decline of the American labor movement.

Of course, when it is feasible and ethical to buy union, there’s not a problem with that. And there’s a sense that buying union proves to free-market advocates that it is possible for companies to invest more in employees and remain competitive. But the fact is, buying union is a kind of “least I can do” approach. It isn’t clear that shopping at Costco, which has union-represented locations and pays its employees above the industry standards according to labor groups, will change Walmart’s ways anytime soon. America can’t buy its way to labor reform; that will take massive legal changes and, most of all, grassroots organizing among workers, not patting employers on the back for not having broken the union at their place of business.

Things such as green products thrive because a lot of people demand them. Sadly, union membership is at less than 15% in the United States, and that’s not enough people to move markets — or company ethics.

*Ari Paul has written for The Nation, the Guardian, Z Magazine and Al Jazeera English. He is a dues-paying member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Written FOR

 The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

ASK MITT ANYTHING …..

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And here are some answers …..
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In his own words….
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A LONG AWAITED FOR STUDY OF HOW THE NYPD ABUSED BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS AT OWS

Study: NYPD Abused Basic Human Rights at Occupy Protests

US police show epidemic suppression of protests

– Common Dreams staff

The NYPD ‘consistently violated basic rights’ during the Occupy Wall Street protests and showed a ‘shocking level of impunity’, when dealing with protesters, according to a new study (pdf), published on Wednesday.

Protesters screamed in pain after police cornered them and sprayed them with pepper spray at an Occupy Wall Street Protest (Photo/Jefferson Siegel)

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The report, by the Global Justice Clinic at New York University’s School of Law and the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic at Fordham Law School, conducted over an eight month period,examined hours of video footage, documents, press reports, and conducted extensive interviews with protestors and witnesses from the Occupy protests and encampments. The findings paint a disturbing portrait: authorities across the US will now suppress protest at all cost, even if protests are lawful, peaceful, and of no threat to the general public.

The study details the increasingly common practices of “excessive police use of force against protesters, bystanders, journalists, and legal observers; constant obstructions of media freedoms, including arrests of journalists; unjustified and sometimes violent closure of public space, dispersal of peaceful assemblies, and corralling and trapping protesters en masse,” the report states.

“Pervasive surveillance of peaceful political activity, arbitrary and selective rule enforcement, and restrictions on independent protest monitoring also raise serious concerns. The government has also failed to make transparent critical policies concerning law enforcement activities.”

The report is the first section of a several part series covering police response to Occupy protests in cities around the US, revealing a national epidemic abusive of power.

Sarah Knuckey, at NYU School of Law, told the Guardian: “All the case studies we collected show the police are violating basic rights consistently, and the level of impunity is shocking”.

“Many interviewees cried while speaking about their interaction with the police – they still carried a sense of trauma.”

The report lists a total of 130 incidents of excessive or unwarranted force by New York police.

The authors of the report are using the research as a basis of written complaints made Thursday to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the NYPD, the state department of justice and the United Nations.

The report claims the NYPD has also violated international human rights law, stating:

“Full respect for assembly and expression rights is necessary for democratic participation, the exchange of ideas, and for securing positive social reform. The rights are guaranteed in
international law binding upon the United States. Yet U.S. authorities have engaged in persistent breaches of protest rights since the start of Occupy Wall Street.”

 

Written FOR

DIVESTMENT IS THE BEST INVESTMENT YOU CAN MAKE TO FREE PALESTINE

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Nearly two decades ago, I had a dream. I thought the historic tragedy that befell the Palestinian people was about to end. As such, I refused to be an observer to the historic events that were unfolding; instead, I chose to employ my U.S. education and work experience to contribute to building a new reality on the ground — to build an economy that could serve the new and emerging state of Palestine.

My dream has become a nightmare, one that is being sustained, and financially underwritten, by many people around the world who should know better.
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Palestine’s Investments Require Divestment

By Sam Bahour

Nearly two decades ago, I had a dream. I thought the historic tragedy that befell the Palestinian people was about to end. As such, I refused to be an observer to the historic events that were unfolding; instead, I chose to employ my U.S. education and work experience to contribute to building a new reality on the ground — to build an economy that could serve the new and emerging state of Palestine.

My dream has become a nightmare, one that is being sustained, and financially underwritten, by many people around the world who should know better.

Soon after the Palestinians and Israelis signed their first-ever agreement, the Oslo Accords, in 1993, I relocated with my family from the comfort zone of Youngstown, Ohio, my hometown, to the birthplace of my father in Al-Bireh, a Palestinian city 10 miles north of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank.

Before departing to the Holy Land, I read the Oslo Accords carefully, very carefully. I walked into the Middle East’s powder keg knowing very well that the five-year “interim” agreement that the parties had signed on the White House lawn did not end Israel’s prolonged military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. However, the agreement did open new opportunities, economic and otherwise. Yet even those still required Israeli unilateral decision making to make them real.

Over the years, not only has Israel prohibited the emergence of a new Palestinian economy — it structurally and systematically has made certain that even the buds of such a productive economy would never see the light of day. Anyone who scratches the surface of all the political spin can see for themselves what the World Bank reported and now continues to repeat: that Israel’s “apparatus of control” has “become more sophisticated and effective in its ability to interfere in and affect every aspect of Palestinian life, including job opportunities, work, and earnings…[turning] the West Bank into a fragmented set of social and economic islands or enclaves cut off from one another.” The International Monetary Fund and the European Union are speaking in the same vein. And embargoed Gaza is in far worse shape than the West Bank.

Given that so many respected international organizations and analysts see reality for what it is, the question is what is being done about it.

Earlier this month, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) held its 220th General Assembly in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The gathering received international news coverage due to one of the topics on the agenda: the recommendation that the church divest from three U.S. firms (Caterpillar, Inc., Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard). These firms were singled out because of their direct involvement and profiteering from Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestinians.

Although the Presbyterian commissioners narrowly decided not to divest, 333 to 331, with two abstentions, the church’s General Assembly did vote to encourage “positive investment” in the occupied Palestinian territory. Many who understand the dire state of affairs in Palestine may be disappointed that the divestment recommendation did not pass. I view the debate differently. The educational value of having this significant church engage on the issue was invaluable. I have no doubt that in the near future, a vote to divest from these three firms, and maybe others benefiting from this prolonged occupation, will be forthcoming.

What troubles me is that during the debate, the Israel lobby’s tactic of “positive investment” was heavily pushed. Through extreme pressure on the church’s General Assembly commissioners, a case was successfully made to “invest in Palestine” rather than to divest from American companies profiting from the violent Israeli military occupation of Palestinians. Those pushing “positive investment” and those voting for it seem unaware that for six years the Presbyterians have backed investment. The reality is that they have not been able to find safe investments since they’re jeopardized by heavy-handed Israeli enforcement of the occupation which severely threatens profit-making.

As a Palestinian-American businessman, I can confidently proclaim that any serious investment in Palestine will need a parallel effort to hold Israel accountable if “positive investment” is to have any chance of success.

I do not belittle “positive investment.” On the contrary, my staff and I work unstintingly to create and support businesses in Palestine. However, I’ve been here long enough to understand that Israel will not let us build a real economy, so every job we create is really a means to nonviolently resist this occupation and give hope to a Palestinian family in order for that family to remain in Palestine and not emigrate. A Palestinian with no other options will try to build something here, but an outside businessperson with other options is going to look at the risks and give very serious consideration to investing elsewhere.

Investment is threatened as the Israeli military, directed by the Israeli government, micro-manages every aspect of the Palestinian economy. That micro-management applies to the telecommunications sector as much as it applies to newly-created private equity funds. The extremely polished bluff of establishing “economic peace” is simply unrealistic for people living under military occupation. It’s also impossible.

Some argue that well-intentioned Presbyterians — and others — should invest in Palestine instead of divesting from Israel. Divestment, they claim, is too negative. Nothing could be further from the truth. Divestment is a highly mature, time-tested, non-violent method to resist injustice. There is no reason it cannot be paired with investment. That noted, the Israeli occupation is making sustainable investment in Palestine nearly impossible.

Last year the World Bank acknowledged that Palestinian economic “growth has been unsustainable, driven primarily by donor aid rather than a rebounding private sector, which remains stifled by Israeli restrictions on access to natural resources and markets.”

In a perfected Orwellian move, pro-Israeli lobbyists publicly promote investment in Palestine, but simultaneously turn a blind eye to the systematic Israeli polices strangling the Palestinian economy. Investment in Palestine — without divestment from the Israeli occupation — only continues to underwrite the status quo of military occupation. For investment to be successful, occupation must be dismantled and control passed to Palestinians.

Palestinian civil society and Palestinians — Christians and Muslims alike — have urged everyone interested in seeing peace with justice to divest from the occupation. We struggle to remain hopeful while a cement wall as high as 24 feet snakes through our homeland. After all, we don’t want a more beautiful prison to live in. We want the prison walls dividing Palestinians from Palestinians to come down, and that won’t happen unless economic pressure is placed on Israel to end the occupation.

 

 

Written FOR

COULD YOU BE SUFFERING FROM FASCISM?

 If so, don’t just sit there, IT’S CURABLE!
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NYC Full Schedule of Permitted and Unpermitted May Day 2012 Actions

international workers day

All taken FROM

NYC MAY DAY 2012 ACTIONS

99 Picket Lines
Midtown Manhattan
Community groups, unions, affinity groups and OWS
more info
8am – Chase Building (NYCC) – 270 Park Ave (@48th St)
8am – New York Times Building (UAW) – 620 8th Ave (@41st St)
8am – Sotheby’s (Teamsters) – 1334 York Ave (@72nd St)
8am-10am – US Post Office (Community-Labor Alliance) – 421 8th Ave (@W31st St)
8:30am-9am – NYU Bobst Library (NYU for OWS) – 70 Washington Square South (@University Pl)
9am – Paulson & Co (Strong Economy for All) – 1251 6th Ave (@50th St)
10am – Chase Branch (NYCC) – 401 Madison Ave (@48th St)
11am – ABC Studios (NABET-CWA) – 66th Street (@Columbus)
12pm-1:30pm – Investment Banker Stephen Berger (CSEA AFSCME) – 46th St @ Park Ave
12pm-2pm – Immigration Court (NMASS) – 26 Federal Plaza (Worth & Lafeyette)
1:30pm – Capital Grille (ROC-NY) – 155 E 42nd St (@3rd Ave)
2pm – Chase and Citibank (Occupy Sunset Park) – 5th Ave & 54th St (BROOKLYN)
3pm – Strand Bookstore (Strand workers) – 828 Broadway (@12th St)
3pm – Beth Israel Hospital (Workers United) – 10 Union Square East (14th St & Park Ave)
8pm – Washington Square Park Arch (Musicians 802) – Washington Square North @ 5th Ave

Pop-up Occupation with Mutual Aid (unpermitted)
8am–2pm, Bryant Park, Manhattan
Occupy Wall Street
more info
Bryant Park will be the site of a fun and friendly “Pop-up Occupation” featuring free food, a free market, free services, skill-shares, workshops, teach-ins, speak-outs, meditation, public art, performances, discussions, and trainings.

May Day Morning Commute from Brooklyn
8:00am, Maria Hernandez Park, Brooklyn
Free Coffee + Breakfast! MARCH from Knickerbocker to Flushing to Broadway to Continental Army Plaza
Occupy Williamsburg, Occupy Bushwick
more info

Sitting Meditation
8–11am, Bryant Park (southwest corner), Manhattan
OWS Meditation working group

Bike Bloc
9am, Union Square, Manhattan
Strike Everywhere
more info

The Free University: Lectures, Workshops, Skill-Shares and Discussions
10am–3pm, Madison Square Park, Manhattan
more info

Occupy Brooklyn March over the Williamsburg Bridge and into Wall Street
10:30am, Continental Army Plaza, Brooklyn
Occupy Williamsburg, Occupy Bushwick
more info

Building Community Alternatives to Capitalism Day
11am–10pm, LaunchPad, 721 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn
Brooklyn Skillshare
more info

Teach-in: How to Keep Your Cool and Occupy…Understanding Aggression
11am, Bryant Park (southwest corner), Manhattan
OWS Meditation working group

High School Student Walkout Convergence
12pm, Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn
more info

Guitarmy: Guitar Workshop and Rehearsal with Tom Morello
Permitted Gathering Space for May Day Festivities

12pm, Bryant Park, Gertrude Stein Statue (east side), Manhattan
OWS Music working group
more info

Call2Create
art events all day throughout NYC
more info

Wildcat March (unpermitted)
1pm, Sara D. Roosevelt Park (East Houston St. & 2nd Ave.), Manhattan
Strike Everywhere
more info

OWS Mutual Aid cluster
1pm-4pm, Union Square
OWS Mutual Aid cluster is hosting a free store, skill shares and workshops on a variety of subjects related to life outside the dominant capitalist paradigm.

Meditation Flash Mob followed by Kirtan
1pm, Bryant Park (southwest corner), Manhattan
OWS Meditation working group

Day Without Workers/Día sin los Trabajadores: May Day March and Speakout
2pm, 5th Ave. at 54th St. in Brooklyn, marching to 36th St & 4th Ave. to take subway at 3:30pm to Union Square rally in Manhattan
Occupy/Ocupemos Sunset Park
more info

MayDay on D-Block!!
2pm, Houston & Ave D, Manhattan
LES public housing residents & tenants take their struggle to the street! All invited!
Occupy Avenue D

Occupy Wall Street & Guitarmy March (unpermitted)
2pm, Bryant Park to Union Square, Manhattan

OWS Teach-in at Trinity Church
2-5:15pm, Trinity Church on Wall St
more info

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Contingent!
3pm at Regal Movie Theatre, 50 Broadway (at 13th St.) – joining rally at Union Square after
Audre Lorde Project, FIERCE, Queers for Economic Justice, Streetwise and Safe and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project
more info

Solidarity Rally with Tom Morello, Dan Deacon, Immortal Technique, Das Racist, Bobby Sanabria and special guests (permitted)
4–5:30pm, Union Square, Manhattan
May First Coalition, Labor Unions and OWS
more info

Impromptu General Assembly
5pm, Union Square by the Andy Warhol Statue (17th and Broadway)

May Day Choir Convergence
5:15pm, Madison Square Park (in front of the fountain), Manhattan
more info

Occupy the Rent Guidelines Board: A Tenants’ General Assembly
5:30pm, 7 East 7th St. (outside Cooper Union), Manhattan
Real Rent Reform Campaign

Solidarity March (permitted)
5:30pm, Union Square to Wall Street, Manhattan
May First Coalition, Labor Unions and OWS
more info

JD Samson & MEN Perform
7pm, 2 Broadway
After the march concludes, more performances and speakers will start the after-party!

Occupy Wall Street Afterparty (unpermitted)
8pm, Wall Street area
People’s Assembly and Haymarket Martyrs Memorial Resistance Rager
Details to be announced. Check the #MayDay and #M1GS hashtags on Twitter up-to-the-moment info.

The May Day 2012 Solidarity Rally and March is being organized by an historic coalition, including:

  • Alliance for Labor Rights, Immigrant Rights, Jobs for All
  • May 1st Coalition for Immigrant & Worker Rights
  • Immigrant & Community Organizations
  • Occupy Wall Street

See below for our growing list of NYC endorsements:

Read More…

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From the folks at Riverside Church …

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TAX DAY PROTESTS IN NEW YORK CITY

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Led by a marching band we paraded through the theatre district on 42nd St. as well as other mid town streets, from 44th to the General Post Office on 33rd. The GPO was the destination of those mailing their tax returns at the last minute.
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War Resisters League leaflets were distributed along the way to large numbers of people enjoying the sights and sounds of Times Square in summer temperatures in mid April.

At the GPO itself, the Grannies Peace Brigade entertained with their sarcastic songs of using the taxes of the 99% to wage war while cutting necessary social services …. followed by street dancing when the band began to play a polka.

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There was another large protest group a block away from the GPO, led by the Tax Dodgers…

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There were other protest groups in different parts of the city. 

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Commentary by and Photos © by Bud Korotzer

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SPRING AWAKENING AT #OCCUPY WALL STREET

It’s not only the trees and flowers that are waking up in the American Spring …. so is the Occupation!

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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Old and young united…
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Even a new Dodger ‘Team’
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Upside down flag = SOS
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All out for May Day!
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PHOTO ESSAY ~~ WALL STREET REOCCUPIED THEN ZAPPED BY COPS

Be sure to read the report from the NYT at the end of this post….

To celebrate the 6 month anniversary of the  #Occupy Wall Street Movement, representatives of the 99% reoccupied Liberty Plaza / Zuccotti Park yesterday

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD LEGAL OBSERVER INFORMING OWS OF THEIR RIGHTS IF  BEING THREATENED  WITH ARREST.

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Then it happenned….
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Eyewitness acccount….
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THIS WAS THE 1ST ARREST

A CAREFUL LOOK  AT THE FOTO SHOWS THE PERSON BEING ARRESTED.

ON THE A FOTO U CAN SEE THE POLICE WORKING THEIR WAY THRU TO MAKE THE ARREST.

FRM WHAT I WAS TOLD THE CHAP WAS SETTING UP A TENT. AN UNDER-COVER COP STARTED TO ARREST HIM. THE PROTESTERS PROTESTED WHICH BROUGHT IN THE OTHER POLICE.

THE GUY WAS THEN “DE-ARRESTED”. I ASKED , IF THE GUY WAS ARRESTED, THEN DE-ARRESTED WHY IS HE BEING ARRESTED NOW. IT WAS EXPLAINED TO ME THAT “DE-ARREST” MEANS THE GUY WAS PULLED AWAY BY HIS COMRADES, HE THEN  BEGAN TO RUN AWAY. AS HE RAN, ALL THE SPECTATORS WERE YELLING “RUN”  “RUN”  “RUN”.

THE POLICE CAUGHT HIM ACROSS THE STREET AND CON’T THE ARREST. THIS BROUGHT THE MASS OF OWS’ERS ACROSS THE STREET YELLING AT THE POLICE. THE SOFTEST WORDS USED WAS “SHAME” , “SHAME” .

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From the New York Times

Scores Arrested as Zuccotti Park Is Cleared

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THE NEXT PINK SLIP MIGHT BE YOURS….

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THE OBJECT OF THE EVENT WAS TO DEMAND JOBS & ALERT PEOPLE THE NEXT PINK SLIP COULD BE FOR YOU.
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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THE PEOPLE SAY ‘CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE’!

Giving the term ‘People Person’ a whole new meaning …
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Why and Where the Demos …… Click HERE
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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At Foley Square, NY
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March Down Broadway
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Destination Liberty Park
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THE OCCUPATION FOR JOBS CONTINUES

Yesterday at Union Square, NYC…
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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The 1% Responds as best they know how….
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WOULD JESUS BE IN THE 99%?

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Occupy Christmas

By Richard (RJ) Eskow

It doesn’t matter whether or not you believe in God or which faith you follow if you do. Here’s a question worth asking this holiday season: Would Jesus be an Occupy demonstrator?

The Bible suggests that He would.

Radio Free Heaven

A few years ago I was driving through the back roads of Alabama listening to Christian radio and I heard a preacher say that “Satan’s name in the world today is ‘God As I Understand Him.’

” Oh, yes, people,” the preacher said, “You hear his name on a lot of people’s lips: ‘God As I Understand Him’ loves everybody. ‘God As I Understand Him’ hates prejudice. ‘God As I Understand Him’ will let you into Heaven if you’re a good person.”

“But know this, my friends,” said the preacher. “When you hear the phrase ‘God As I Understand Him’ you’re hearing someone invoke the name of Satan.”

As the white Southern Baptist railed against liberalism I came to a little town where poor African American women were carrying heavy parcels in the blistering August heat. I saw men lined up outside an unemployment office and people waiting for buses in the blistering sun. I saw run-down shacks, closed storefronts, and vacant lots.

The preacher was saying that God can only be found through institutionalized churches, the kind that tell their followers how to vote. As he droned on I saw hunger, deprivation, and poverty all around me.

God – as I understand him – wouldn’t like that. As William Blake once wrote, “That Vision of Christ which thou dos’t see/is my Vision’s greatest Enemy.”

The Power and the Glory

Look, I’m just as sick as other people are of seeing the word “Occupy” appropriated for everything from partisan politics to self-promotion. But it’s hard to describe Jesus’ action against the moneychangers in today’s terms without calling it “Occupy the Temple.”

By riding into Jerusalem on a donkey accompanied only by his ragged followers, Jesus was proclaiming a spiritual insurrection of the poor and common people – the 99%, if you prefer – against the wealthy and privileged. When he came to the Temple he overturned the moneychangers’ tables and drove them from sacred ground with a “whip of cords.”

A“whip of cords.” And all that today’s protestors are doing is making themselves visible. There’s no violence against anyone. And yet the howls of outrage can be heard from the oak-lined boardrooms of Wall Street to the hypocritical pulpits of right-wing preachers.

Jesus was trying to reclaim his Jewish faith, the faith of his nation, from a clique of clergymen who had colluded with the unjust government of their day for their own purposes. The Romans and the clergy formed a cynical alliance designed to increase their own power and influence by serving the few at the expense of the many.

Sound familiar?

The Last Drum Circle

Today’s financial elite isn’t satisfied just to make billions at the expense of others. They want to be immune from criticism, too. Goldman Sachs’ CEO says it’s “doing God’s work.” An investment banker desecrates the memory of the Holocaust’s victims by saying that asking him to pay the same tax rates as a cop or firefighter would be like Hitler invading Poland.

They wouldn’t like the messages in the Old or New Testaments or the Talmud. These holy books are all pretty clear in their assessment of unproductive wealth. The prophet Ezekiel put usury on his list of “abominable things.” Jesus drove the moneylenders away with that whip.

Sarah Palin says that “US law should be based on the God of the Bible.” As they say, Be careful what you wish for. That’s why I asked my friend Sudeep Johnson1 to create this picture, which she so artfully did by improvising on a painting of The Last Supper:

Some people may find it sacrilegious to depict Jesus and His disciples in a drum circle protesting the 1% of their time. But if you read the New Testament with an open mind, it’s not hard to conclude that the real sacrilege is to use the name of Jesus to support wealth, power, and privilege. God as they understand him bears no relationship to the one we find in Scripture.

Eye of the Needle

Like any good Jewish mother, Mary liked to brag about her son’s talents and his lineage. In Luke 1 she says of God the Father,

51 … he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
53He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

That’s the Mother of God talking, people! And yes, Bill O’Reilly, I mean you! You’re a Catholic like my mother’s mother. How can you disregard the Mother of God?

And you can almost hear the conservative Christian preachers gasping: Does she mean the job creators? She certainly means the people they call “job creators.” Her son said “it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven.” (And as an aside: If they’re “job creators,” where are the jobs?)

The Faith Stealers

The Jesus who turned water into wine was undercutting the official clergy, telling his followers that every individual could have a personal experience with the transcendent. In other words, he was urging them to discover divinity directly by experiencing “God as they understand him.” Would Jesus recognize those who speak in his name? Or would he say “Depart, I never knew you”?

Most scholars agree that there was a historical Jesus, whose life and death was noted by the Roman historian Josephus in the year 75 CE. Moderate Christians see him as the Son of God who clothed the homeless, healed the sick, and fed the hungry.Many Jews accept him as a great Jewish teacher. Muslims revere him as a prophet. Hindus see him as an avatar of God.

There are also many atheists and agnostics who accept him as a great moral leader. “I wouldn’t want to live in a world where the Sermon on the Mount didn’t exist,” said prominent atheist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Jackson Browne sang of himself as “a pagan who stands with the Rebel Jesus.”

This is the time of year when those of us who revere him in these different ways are told we must submit to an endless barrage of messages about their authoritarian, right-wing Jesus. If we don’t, we’re told that we’re part of a “War On Christmas.”

The Christmas War

If they’re looking for a war on their Christmas, we say Bring it on! Whenever they spout their distorted, politicized sermons, why not hit ’em with the Christmas Love Gun? Here’s how to use it:

When they complain about extending unemployment or helping the poor, tell them to reread Matthew 25:31-46, then ponder the fiery fate of those who refuse to feed or clothe the hungry and heal prisoners when they’re sick.

When they talk about protecting bankers, remind them about Ezekiel and those moneylenders in the Temple.

When they bitch about taxes of the size of government, quote that line about “Rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.”

When they push their Islamophobia, remind them that the Good Samaritan was also from a hated religion, but after Jesus explained his goodness the “Samaritan” label became synonymous with good deeds.

When they push their outmoded drug laws, remind them that Jesus said “It’s not what goes into a man’s mouth that defileth him but what comes out of it.”

  • When they push war, send them to Mathew 5:9. Then offer them your cheek. If they strike it, offer them the other one also.And if they ask you what you think you’re doing by quoting the scriptures they consider “theirs,” tell them you’re Occupying the spirit of Christmas. Or rather, that you’re letting the spirit of Christmas occupy you. It won’t change their minds, but it might make you feel a lot better.Time of the SeasonThere’s something beautiful about a time of year set aside for reflection on greater things, and for kind words and deeds to others. If it’s gentler on you to hear the words “Happy Holidays,” then may your holidays be happy.But if you don’t mind re-occupying the language of the spirit and reinfusing it with its original meaning, here’s our heartfelt greeting for the season:

    May your Christmas be joyful, and your New Year filled with good tidings of insurrection.

Written FOR

LATEST OCCUPATION UPDATES … FEW AND FAR BETWEEN

The corporate media seems to have adopted a policy of ‘ignore the Occupation and it will go away’…. IT AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN! Fewer reports are appearing but the struggles continue. Below are some of the latest releases…
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Click on the links to get reports;
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Occupy Oakland Rallies Amid Anger over Pepper-Spraying of Students

Some 1,500 people marched for the 99 percent in Oakland Nov. 20. (Photo: Judith Scherr/IPS)
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Bloomberg’s Concerned About our Health? Really?

Subway lines were shut down  (Photo: Socialist Worker)
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UC Davis chancellor apologizes for pepper-spray incident

UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi is escorted from a small stage on the campus quad after she apologized to more than 1,000 students and faculty members for the pepper-spraying of seated nonviolent protesters by campus police. (Paul Sakuma, AP / November 21, 2011)
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For continual updates from the ‘frontlines’ click on the following…
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The revolution continues worldwide!
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Whom Do You Serve?

You are either WITH us or against us!

UC Davis Pepper Spray Incident

This incident took place at UC Davis. See below for video of this incident, as well as more examples of state repression against the 99% movement across the U.S.

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GAME OVER AT OCCUPY WALL STREET? ~~ (PHOTO ESSAY BELOW)

I DON’T THINK SO!!
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Updates follow lead report …..
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Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has struggled with how to respond. He repeatedly made clear that he does not support the demonstrators’ arguments or their tactics, but he has also defended their right to protest and in recent days and weeks has sounded increasingly exasperated, especially in the wake of growing complaints from neighbors about how the protest has disrupted the neighborhood and hurt local businesses.

The mayor met daily with several deputies and commissioners, as more business owners complaining and editorials lampooning him as gutless, the mayor’s patience wore thin.

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I can predict, without doubt, that he (the mayor) hasn’t seen anything yet 😉

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Police Begin Clearing Zuccotti Park of Protesters

By COLIN MOYNIHAN and COREY KILGANNON
Hundreds of New York City police officers began clearing Zuccotti Park of the Occupy Wall Street protesters early Tuesday, telling the people there that the nearly two-month-old camp would be “cleared and restored” before the morning and that any demonstrator who did not leave would be arrested.

The protesters, about 200 of whom have been staying in the park overnight, resisted with chants of “Whose park? Our park!” as officers began moving in and tearing down tents. The protesters rallied around an area known as “the kitchen” near the middle of the park and began building barricades with tables and pieces of scrap wood.

The officers, who had gathered between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and then rode in vans along Broadway, moved into the one-square-block park shortly after 1 a.m.

As they did, dozens of protesters linked arms and shouted “No retreat, no surrender,” “This is our home” and “Barricade!” There were no immediate reports of arrests.

The police move came as organizers put out word on their Web site that they planned to “shut down Wall Street” with a demonstration on Thursday to commemorate the completion of two months of the beginning of the encampment, which has spurred similar demonstrations across the country.

The move also came hours after a small demonstration at City Hall on Monday by opponents of the protest, including local residents and merchants, some of whom urged the mayor to clear out the park.

Police and mayoral officials did not immediately return calls requesting comments. The mayor’s office sent out a message on Twitter at 1:34 a.m. saying: “Occupants of Zuccotti should temporarily leave and remove tents and tarps. Protestors can return after the park is cleared.”

Before the police moved in, they set up a battery of klieg lights and aimed them into the park. A police captain, wearing a helmet, walked down Liberty Street and announced: “The city has determined that the continued occupation Zuccotti Park poses an increasing health and fire safety hazard.”

The captain ordered the protesters to “to immediately remove all private property” and said that if they interfered with the police operation, they would be arrested. Property that was not removed would be sent to a dump, the police said.

Some of the protesters grabbed their possessions. “They’re not getting our tents down,” one man shouted. People milled around, and some headed to the edges of the park.

The action came as other cities’ police forces have begun evacuating similar protest camps.

A handful of protestors first unrolled sleeping bags and blankets in Zuccotti Park on the night of Sept. 17, but in the weeks that followed, the park became densely packed with tents and small tarp villages.

The protest spawned others and attracted celebrities and well-known performers. It became a tourist attraction, inspired more than $500,000 in donations and gained the support of labor unions and elected officials while creating division within City Hall and the Police Department

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has struggled with how to respond. He repeatedly made clear that he does not support the demonstrators’ arguments or their tactics, but he has also defended their right to protest and in recent days and weeks has sounded increasingly exasperated, especially in the wake of growing complaints from neighbors about how the protest has disrupted the neighborhood and hurt local businesses.

The mayor met daily with several deputies and commissioners, as more business owners complaining and editorials lampooning him as gutless, the mayor’s patience wore thin.

Source 

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UPDATES (click on links)
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Meanwhile, in preparation for the long winter ahead, free flu shots were given to the participants of the encampment by volunteer doctors and health care workers….

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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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And Jewish Groups stand up for Free Speech at Wall Street… (Bloomberg does not speak for them!)
click on images to enlarge
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RELIVING THE GLORIOUS PAST AT WALL STREET

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For those of us that have been around for what seems forever, the Occupation at Wall Street Movement is like a transfusion of hope for a bright future.
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My cousin Bud, our roving photographer, is too young to remember these guys… Crosby and Nash, but they are part of the group that’s been around forever with the likes of Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and so many others that were and still are a part of the People’s Movements then and now.
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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Here they are remembering the past and connecting it to the present…
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And finally ….
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Here are 10 Ways the Occupy Movement Changes Everything
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By David Korten, Sarah van Gelder and Steve Piersanti

Before the Occupy Wall Street movement, there was little discussion of the outsized power of Wall Street and the diminishing fortunes of the middle class.

The media blackout was especially remarkable given that issues like jobs and corporate influence on elections topped the list of concerns for most Americans.

Occupy Wall Street changed that. In fact, it may represent the best hope in years that “we the people” will step up to take on the critical challenges of our time. Here’s how the Occupy movement is already changing everything:

1. It names the source of the crisis.
The problems of the 99% are 
caused by Wall Street greed, corrupt banks, and a corporate take-over of the political system.

2. It provides a clear vision of the world we want.
We can create a world that works for everyone
, not just the wealthiest 1%.

3. It sets a new standard for public debate.
Those advocating policies and proposals must now demonstrate that their ideas will benefit the 99%. Serving only the 1% is no longer sufficient.

4. It presents a new narrative.
The solution is no longer to starve government, but to free society and government from corporate dominance.

5. It creates a big tent.
We, the 99%, are made up of people of all ages, races, occupations, and political beliefs, and we are learning to work together with respect.

6. It offers everyone a chance to create change.
No one is in charge. Anyone can get involved and make things happen.

7. It is a movement, not a list of demands.
The 
call for transformative structural change, not temporary fixes and single-issue reforms, is the movement’s sustaining power.

8. It combines the local and the global.
People are setting their own local agendas, tactics, and aims. But we also share solidarity, communication, and vision at the global level.

9. It offers an ethic and practice of deep democracy and community.
Patient decision-making translates into wisdom and common com-mitment when every voice is heard. Occupy sites are communities where anyone can discuss grievances, hopes, and dreams in an atmosphere of mutual support.

10. We have reclaimed our power.
Instead of looking to politicians and leaders to bring about change, we can see now that 
the power rests with us. Instead of being victims of the forces upending our lives, we are claiming our sovereign right to remake the world.

Like all human endeavors, Occupy Wall Street and its thousands of variations and spin-offs will be imperfect. There have already been setbacks and divisions, hardships and injury. But as our world faces extraordinary challenges—from climate change to soaring inequality—our best hope is the ordinary people, gathered in imperfect democracies, who are finding ways to fix a broken world.

This article is adapted from the book, This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement edited by Sarah van Gelder and the staff of YES! Magazine and published November 2011 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Sarah van Gelder and David Korten are co-founders of YES! Magazine; Steve Piersanti is publisher of Berrett-Koehler Publishers. This article is available under a Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivs (CC BY-ND) license, which allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to the original publication of this book (photos not included). More on the book and other resources can be found at www.yesmagazine.org/owsbook.

 

Taken FROM

IS THE WALL STREET OCCUPATION JUST ANOTHER TEA PARTY?

Definitely not!
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A Left-Wing Tea Party?
By Arun Gupta

(Illustration by GB Martin)
(Illustration by GB Martin)
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One month into the Occupy Wall Street protest, many are asking if this new movement is just a “left-wing Tea Party.”

Definitely not. This is not a party, like the Tea Party, that seeks to directly affect policy and the electoral process. Because it is explicitly leaderless, it is difficult to imagine a Michelle Bachmann or Eric Cantor emerging as a standard-bearer of the OWS movement. Given their reliance on Wall Street money, as well as radical demands from many protesters, the Democrats will find it almost impossible to channel “the 99 percent” into an electoral tidal wave next year the way the Republicans rode the Tea Party to victory in 2010.

But that does not mean comparisons to the Tea Party should be dismissed. There are striking parallels between the two movements when viewed through political, social and historical lenses.

Some similarities are obvious. The Tea Party and OWS alike oppose the bailouts of the banks orchestrated by both parties in Washington. The two movements are thick with people who feel they have little say in the political process. And supporters on each side think the middle-class “American Dream” is nearly extinct.

When the two movements are viewed as a social force, the resemblance deepens. I have interviewed Tea Party members and protesters at Liberty Park who discuss their involvement in comparable terms. They speak of a personal “awakening,” of finding inspiration in a gathering of kindred spirits, and of not having been political before.

In fact, both thrive on bringing new people into politics. As such, they can be considered populist movements and share another commonality – each creates a new notion of “the people.”

The Tea Party’s rallying cries include “we the people” and “take America back.” Its vision of the people is one of self-reliant, industrious and frugal Americans who through moral example and political force would return this country to the greatness pioneered by the Founding Fathers. The Occupy movement is inchoate, but already “the 99 percent” is its version of the people: those whose dreams and aspirations have been squashed by the greedy and power hungry, but who can revive fairness and justice as national ideals.

For both movements, the legitimate people is complemented by the illegitimate other. For the Tea Party, this takes the form of liberals, unions, immigrants, Muslims, welfare recipients and Obama. It is anyone portrayed as unscrupulously profiting, in power or money, off the American system. For the Occupy movement, it is the 1 percent, the catch-all for bankers, corporate executives, the super-rich and their political allies who have an iron grip on the economy and politics.

Another similarity is that the success of the Tea Party and OWS is owed to their vagueness, at least initially. Each has united disparate coalitions under its banner.

For example, the Tea Party’s historic references appeal to people who feel that social and political changes in the last few decades have made their country unrecognizable. It unites those who oppose unions and immigration, favor small government (apart from the sprawling military-security apparatus) and want a return to the gold standard, cuts in social spending, unlimited gun rights and less regulation of business and markets. The common theme is that parasitical and selfish groups have sapped America’s power.

Likewise, the Occupy movement has been criticized for a lack of demands, but when you speak to individuals there is no lack of ideas: better-paying jobs, government-funded jobs, single-payer healthcare, student-debt forgiveness, a moratorium on home foreclosures, cutting military spending, saving Social Security and Medicare, ending the attacks on unions. One secret of its success, analogous to the Tea Party’s obsession with the undeserving, is that it allows many groups and individuals to see their demands as equivalent to everyone else’s because the opponent is the same: Wall Street.

Most Tea Party and Occupy partisans feel something has gone fundamentally wrong in America, and they are united in envisioning a different type of society. It’s a mistake to reduce either movement to politics or policy; each is motivated by values and idealized ways of relating to one another. But this is where the differences become stark.

The Tea Party embraces heroic, rugged individualism where freedom and liberty are best secured through the free market. In reality, the Tea Party ideology is really about a suburban-based nostalgia for white supremacy. Its disdain for government subsidies does not extend to the interest deduction for homeowners and other supports for a suburban lifestyle.

On the other hand, OWS believes in a collective economy and decision-making, as seen in the General Assembly decision-making and free exchange of goods in Liberty Park. Activists think increasing access to public goods, starting with the public squares themselves, is the way to achieve social harmony.

These radically divergent worldviews are matched by distinct demographics. The average member of the Tea Party is in his or her 50s, whereas the typical Wall Street occupier looks to be a recent college graduate. This probably explains why the two also have different relations to history. The Tea Party romanticizes the American Revolution, while OWS is inspired by uprisings and occupations from the Arab Spring to Europe in which youth say they are trying to reclaim the future.

It would be tempting to define the divide as one between those who support an unfettered free market because government has too much power and those who want a robust social welfare state, or even socialism, because corporations have too much power. That is just part of it. The fact that genuinely popular movements could blossom so quickly at both political poles indicates how hollow the center has become.

The OWS and the Tea Party movements may have diametrically opposed visions of society and power relations, but they both appeal to growing ranks of people who believe the system no longer works for them. Whatever their differences, they both present challenges that will not disappear because of some policy reforms or reshuffling of the cast in Washington.

 

Written FOR

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ DAY OF ACTION AT WALL STREET IN SOLIDARITY WITH OAKLAND’S GENERAL STRIKE

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Even the New York Times couldn’t ignore this…. (click on link for full report)
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Oakland’s Port Shuts Down as Protesters March on Waterfront

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Thousands of Occupy Oakland protesters expanded their anti-Wall Street demonstrations on Wednesday, marching through downtown, picketing banks and swarming the port. By early evening, port authorities said maritime operations there were effectively shut down.
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Also see THIS report.
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Photos © by Bud Korotzer
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Other activities of the day…

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JACK LONDON PREDICTED THE OAKLAND POGROM IN 1908

Jack London didn’t just write tales of the Klondike Gold Rush and canine adventure stories. Sometimes he foretold the future.
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Occupy Oakland & Mercenaries of the Oligarchy:
The 99% vs. The Iron Heel


Nima Shirazi *

“We are in power. Nobody will deny it. By virtue of that power we shall remain in power…We have no words to waste on you. When you reach out your vaunted strong hands for our palaces and purpled ease, we will show you what strength is. In roar of shell and shrapnel and in whine of machine-guns will our answer be couched. We will grind you revolutionists down under our heel, and we shall walk upon your faces. The world is ours, we are its lords, and ours it shall remain. As for the host of labor, it has been in the dirt since history began, and I read history aright. And in the dirt it shall remain so long as I and mine and those that come after us have the power. There is the word. It is the king of words–Power. Not God, not Mammon, but Power. Pour it over your tongue till it tingles with it. Power.”

– Mr. Wickson, The Iron Heel by Jack London (1908), chapter 4

Jack London didn’t just write tales of the Klondike Gold Rush and canine adventure stories. Sometimes he foretold the future. The above quote, written over a century ago and spoken by an aristocratic one-percenter in response to the rising tide of anti-plutocratic sentiment among the working class, is taken from London’s dystopic novelThe Iron Heel.

The novel depicts a society of unregulated and unrestrained capitalism; a society of the impoverished and disenfranchised, the unemployed and the unrepresented, at the mercy of a tiny but ruthlessly aggressive corporate elite that controls the government. London describes the perception of “the great mass of the people [who] still persisted in the belief that they ruled the country by virtue of their ballots,” when “[i]n reality, the country was ruled by what were called political machines. At first the machine bosses charged the master capitalists extortionate tolls for legislation; but in a short time the master capitalists found it cheaper to own the political machines themselves and to hire the machine bosses.”

Furthermore, London delves into the deluded arrogance of the wealthy, stock-holding plutocrats, explaining, “They believed absolutely that their conduct was right. There was no question about it, no discussion. They were convinced that they were the saviours of society, and that it was they who made happiness for the many. And they drew pathetic pictures of what would be the sufferings of the working class were it not for the employment that they, and they alone, by their wisdom, provided for it.” Journalists are excoriated for their willingness, for fear of losing their jobs, “to twist truth at the command of [their] employers, who, in turn, obey the behests of the corporations.”

The revolutionary hero of the book, Ernest Everhard, at one point addresses an exclusive gathering of the local aristocracy known as The Philomath Club, consisting of “the wealthiest in the community, and the strongest-minded of the wealthy, with, of course, a sprinkling of scholars to give it intellectual tone.” Everhard tells the crowd,

“No other conclusion is possible than that the capitalist class has mismanaged, that you have mismanaged, my masters, that you have criminally and selfishly mismanaged…You have failed in your management. You have made a shambles of civilization. You have been blind and greedy.”

The Iron Heel preceded Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here by about two and a half decades and George Orwell’s 1984 by over 40 years. It anticipated the rise of totalitarianism in Europe over a decade before Mussolini’s Blackshirts marched on Rome. In his Introduction to the 1980 edition of the book, Rutgers professor H. Bruce Franklin explains that London essentially defined Fascism before it even officially existed as “the form that the capitalist state assumes when the oligarchy feels that its economic and political power is seriously threatened by working class revolution.”

Franklin proceeds to catalogue the brutal and authoritarian actions and abuses of The Iron Heel‘s ruling elite as envisioned by its prophetic author:

London foresees: the creation of attractive suburbs for the relatively privileged strata of the working class while the central cities are turned into what he calls “ghettoes” for the masses of unemployed and menial laborers, shoved into the darkest depths of human misery; the deliberate economic subversion of public education in order to spread illiteracy and ignorance; adequate food, health care, and housing priced above the reach of more and more people; the ubiquitous secret police infiltrating all organizations opposing the government; the establishment of a permanent mercenary army; the government conspiring in real and phony bomb plots, in the suppression of books and the destruction of printing presses, in witch hunts aimed at dissident labor leaders, professors, and authors, in destroying the reputations of some of its opponents, imprisoning many others and murdering the few it finds too formidable; spontaneous mass rebellions of the downtrodden people of the central cities; urban guerrillas battling the government’s army of mercenaries and police in the canyons of the cities.

Clearly, from historic income inequality and over 15% of Americans living in poverty (that’s 46.2 million people) to massive budget cuts for public education to FBI infiltration of peace groups to the ever-expanding surveillance state to the stifling of free speech to spooky terrorist plots allegedly thwarted by the very agencies that planned and funded them in the first place, Jack London was on to something. To say the least. The Occupy Wall Street movement around the globe is a testament to our new reality, as presaged by one of our renowned writers.

The Iron Heel is set primarily in California’s Bay Area, London’s home turf. Yesterday morning, Tuesday October 25, 2012, the non-violent, anti-corporatist protesters occupying two parks in Oakland met their own city’s iron heel, jackboots in full riot-gear.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, “Under cover of darkness early Tuesday, hundreds of police swept into Oakland’s Occupy Wall Street protest, firing tear gas and beanbag rounds before clearing out an encampment that demonstrators had hoped would stir a revolution,” continuing, “Officers and sheriff’s deputies from across the San Francisco Bay area surrounded the plaza in front of City Hall at around 5 a.m. and closed in. Eighty-five people were arrested, mostly on suspicion of misdemeanor unlawful assembly and illegal camping, police said.” Reflecting on the raid and arrests which were carried out at the behest Oakland mayor Jean Quan, interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said, “I’m very pleased with the way things went.”

In responsethousands of protesters gathered later that same day and faced down a phalanx of Oakland’s Finest Fascist, who responded by repeatedly attacking the crowd with more tear gas, batons, rubber bulletsbeanbags, concussion grenades, flashbombs, and sound cannons. At one point, Oakland authorities, claiming the protest was “an unlawful assembly,” issued this threat: “If you refuse to move now, you will be arrested. If you refuse to move now, chemical agents will be used” (see here) and later warned those peacefully standing their ground, “If you have respiratory problems now is the time to leave.” They weren’t kidding.

Despite protester’s solidarity appeals advancing riot police that “You are the 99%,” Oakland forces carried out the bidding of the government on behalf of its Wall Street donors. Just as the NYPD, which last year accepted a massive $4.6 million donation from J.P. Morgan Chase via the New York City Police Foundation, the OPD has demonstrated its willingness to become the private army of the wealthy, abrogating free speech, freedom of assembly, and civil rights in order to crack down on peaceful protests against an unfair system. As London wrote, “hired fighting men of the capitalists…ultimately developed into the Mercenaries of the Oligarchy.”

Meanwhile, as gas clouds wafted through the Oakland air, just across the bay in San Francisco, President Barack Obama was at a reelection fundraiser at the W Hotel for which guests shelled out at least $5,000 to attend. It was the latest stop on one of the president’s “busiest donor outreach trips of the season.” Last week, the Washington Post reported that “despite frosty relations with the titans of Wall Street, President Obama has still managed to raise far more money this year from the financial and banking sector than Mitt Romney or any other Republican presidential candidate.”

It remains to be seen whether Obama addresses the police brutality and stifling of dissent that occurred just a few miles from where he dined with his donors, especially in light of what he had to say about the post-election protests and police response in Iran in mid-2009: “We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people.” Earlier this year, Obama recalled the “peaceful protests…in the streets of Tehran, where the government brutalized women and men, and threw innocent people into jail.”

In the speech he delivered upon accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Obama noted his apparent belief that “peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely” or “assemble without fear.” He affirmed his support of “the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran,” continuing, “It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation. And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear to these movements that hope and history are on their side.”

Just last month, in front of the United Nations General Assembly, the president stated, “The Syrian people have shown dignity and courage in their pursuit of justice — protesting peacefully, standing silently in the streets, dying for the same values that this institution is supposed to stand for. And the question for us is clear: Will we stand with the Syrian people, or with their oppressors?”

One can only wonder if Obama will heed the words he spoke at the UN in September 2009, when he told world leaders, “The test of our leadership will not be the degree to which we feed the fears and old hatreds of our people. True leadership will not be measured by the ability to muzzle dissent, or to intimidate and harass political opponents at home. The people of the world want change. They will not long tolerate those who are on the wrong side of history.”

Will the president remember what he said at the same podium a year later? “The arc of human progress has been shaped by individuals with the freedom to assemble and by organizations outside of government that insisted upon democratic change and by free media that held the powerful accountable,” he declared.

Replying to Mr. Wickson’s threats of violence and repression in order to maintain the Oligarchy’s stranglehold on society, Ernest Everhard, noble protagonist of The Iron Heel, declares:

“We know, and well we know by bitter experience, that no appeal for the right, for justice, for humanity, can ever touch you. Your hearts are hard as your heels with which you tread upon the faces of the poor. So we have preached power. By the power of our ballots on election day will we take your government away from you.”

With the Occupy movement growing stronger, more determined, fearless and united with every tear gas canister launched and each protester beaten, pepper sprayed, and arrested, it is surely a movement that can no longer be silenced or suppressed.

As Ernest’s wife, fellow revolutionary, and narrator of The Iron Heel, Avis Cunningham Everhard asserts:

“The solidarity of labor is assured, and for the first time will there be an international revolution wide as the world is wide.”

*Nima Shirazi is a political commentator from New York City.

Visit his website at: www.wideasleepinamerica.com
Follow him on Twitter @WideAsleepNima

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