Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Banks' Secret $7.7 Trillion Bonanza- Descent into Plutocracy

Dave Johnson, Campaign for America's Future
It is pretty clear from these graphs that we are sliding rapidly (some would say- we are already there) into plutocracy- the antithesis of democracy- where the richest few rig the system to enrich themselves beyond imagining, while controlling and impoverishing the rest of us. It has been in the works for decades and has gone into high gear since the economic collapse of 2008. We all know about TARP- the $700 billion bail out that Bush pushed through Congress for the biggest banks- but that was the least of it.

 "The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the biggest bailout in US history a secret. Now the rest of the world can see what was missing," says Bloomberg News (of all sources) in an article- "Secret Fed Loans Helped Banks Net $13 Billion". The actual amount the Fed loaned to the banks, with virtually no strings attached, was $7.77 TRILLION   ($7.77 thousand billion)! Congress and even top Bush administration officials were kept in the dark about it which shows how out of control the Federal Reserve is. Senator Dorgan (D-ND) said recently that if they had had knowledge of the loans they would have pushed to reinstate Glass Steagall (the Act that kept banks relatively honest for over six decades). Well, Senator Dorgan and all the rest of you Democrats- what is stopping you now?

The banks have made more profit in the last 30 months than in the 8 years preceding the economic meltdown that they created. The secret nature of these massive loans helped Wall St to "preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger."

Thousands of billions have been showered on banks that bankrupted and looted our economy, while everyday Americans suffer on a massive scale. A recent report says that food insecurity is up 30% during this Great Recession. Almost 49 million people in our country lived in food insecure households last year- that is one in seven households. There have been millions of home foreclosures (many occurring because of mortgage fraud to people who have not missed one payment!). There are record numbers of families living in their cars, medical expenses bankrupting people who have worked their whole lives and one in four very young children now lives in poverty in our country.

We need to rise up to demand a reversal of this dangerous descent into plutocracy. If you live in the Hudson Valley come to the first Regional Assembly for Occupy Hudson Valley this Saturday, Dec 3 at 6:30PM at Hulme Park in Poughkeepsie (right after the bridge on the right). Occupy Poughkeepsie is reaching out to the broader community so that "greater resources can be focused on a commitment to direct actions that promote freedom, community and awareness" in the Hudson Valley. For more information go to  occupypoughkeepsie.org.

Police Surrounding Peaceful Occupiers in Phoenix

If you live outside the Hudson Valley go to occupytogether.org to find an occupation near you!

Our strength is in our numbers and our unity!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Police Are the 99%

Millions have been horrified watching the video of cops hosing peaceful students point blank with military grade pepper spray. You watch in disbelief. How could this be happening? What was their crime? They were sitting on the ground with arms linked protesting a recent incident of police brutality towards students. The police said they felt threatened by them. Really? They must agree with UC Berkely's Chancellor who declared "linking arms is not non-violent". (Watch a powerful demonstration against the Chancellor- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8775ZmNGFY8&feature=player_embedde)

How did those policemen come to dehumanize young students to the point where they were able to inflict serious pain so nonchalantly? How were they trained? Why are our police in full riot gear,  battle-ready against our own civilians? What does it take to get a violent cop fired?

We were in Foley last Thursday in solidarity with OWS which had been forced out of Zuccotti Park two days before. The energy was electric, (NYPD estimated 32,500) the chants impassioned, the creativity overflowing and spirits high. (video) The police were keeping a low profile, but when we began the march to the Brooklyn Bridge, there were suddenly many more, including a whole batallion of mounted police.

Mounted police seemed like overkill for people who have vowed to remain nonviolent.  During the anti-war protests pf the 60's, I was chased by police on horses and many of my friends were too. One woman, now in her late 80's, remembers a horse rearing up in front of her and she said she feared for her life. When you hear them galloping toward you, it makes quite an impression.

So as we walked in front of this display of force meant to intimidate, we began the chant, "The police are the 99%" Some of them smiled, some smirked and some looked grim, but I think on a deep level, they know they are the 99% and that like us, they are getting screwed too.

In fact, some police officers  are wonderfully supportive of the Occupy movement- like Ray Kelly, the former police chief of Philadelphia. He joined OWS to warn about the corporate control of our country and the exploitation of the 99%. The other side of this sign read "Watch Inside Job and join us.
photo via Lauren Thorp
He was arrested and this picture of him speaks volumes. His courage, truth telling and principles are a galaxy away from the Anthony Bolognas and John Pikes of this world. And there are more like him than you might think.

I absolutely love the scene in the video below in which a young man speaks earnestly about injustice to a row of cops in riot gear. God bless him! I hope many of them were listening (and don't know about you, but I'm putting Inside Job on the top of my to see list).

"Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man." Ghandi

Keep Faith!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

OWS Day of Mass Action- The Fight Continues!

It was great being in Foley Square Thursday night. The energy was more intense than ever. Read about the historic day of mass action here.  As OWS has said "You can't evict an idea whose time has come!" 

Bloomberg, who ordered the forcible eviction of OWS two days before the mass action, is on the wrong side of history, but what can you expect from the 12th richest person in the country? 

It is nice to see though that some of the wealthiest in our country are begging Congress to raise their taxes! The Patriotic Millionaires are joining with more than 2/3 of Americans who favor increasing taxes  on those making $250,000+ a year. Warren Buffet, who pointed out that he pays less taxes than his secretary, is only one Patriotic Billionaire I can think of. For most obscenely rich people, like the Koch brothers, greed knows no bounds- even if it means destroying the earth and our country in the process.

Because of people like that and the politicians they own, the Occupy movement will only grow over time. People are fed up with the gross inequalities, crony capitalism, and rampant corruption. OWS is a true populist movement, that is not about left and right, but top and bottom. It has the staying power to create massive structural change that restores democracy and fairness to the American people.

OWS is already influencing legislators. From the Seattle Times-

"Florida state Rep. Dwight Bullard, a Miami Democrat who has met with organizers in Florida, said he and other lawmakers are listening to the protesters and taking up their cause on such issues as debit card fees.

"I would definitely say that Occupy has encouraged or helped ignite, I guess, a more aggressive fervor in the bellies of my colleagues," Bullard said. "Sometimes you don't want to jump out of the plane without a parachute," and it is nice to know "there are people not only around the state but around the country and around the globe that are tired of being beat down and taken advantage of by corporate interests."

And some Occupy Working Groups are coming up with very specific proposals to bring back fairness and equality to our nation. This one is a little long and wonky- but they have the numbers right! Read about Occupy Washington's 99% Deficit Proposal and sign their petition

Lastly, some good news about Scott Olsen, the Iraq War veteran who was seriously injured by the police at Occupy Oakland.

"I'm feeling a lot better, [but there's] a long road in front of me. After my freedom of speech was quite literally taken from me, my speech is slowly coming back, but I've got a lot of work to do with rehab. Thank you for all your support, it has meant the world to me. You'll be hearing more from me in the near future and soon enough we'll see you in the streets." - Scott Olsen

Keep Faith!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Join an Action Tomorrow in Solidarity with OWS!

The 84 year old woman who was pepper sprayed at the Occupy Seattle. 

I feel like we are reaching a turning point with the Occupy movement- Bloomberg's cowardly, violent raid on the peaceful, sleeping occupiers in Zuccotti Park has already infused the movement with fresh passion and energy. Tomorrow, in 500 cities and towns across our country, people will be taking to the streets to show their solidarity with OWS! Go here to find an action near you- http://civic.moveon.org/event/events/index.html?rc=homepage&action_id=260
Many of us are also heading for NYC for a day of mass action that will culminate in Foley Square at 5PM. As the American Dream movement says "November 17th will be unstoppable".

"On November 15th, Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD made a cowardly attempt to stomp out the spirited movement that sparked in Zuccotti Park two months ago, only to find the flame has spread too far and wide to be stifled. Hundreds have been arrested in New York City defending the birthplace of the Occupy movement, but what Bloomberg fails to understand is that the movement extends beyond the perimeters of Zuccotti Park. As the Occupy alert from last night reads, “You can’t evict an idea whose time has come.” "


The country has woken up – we will no longer tolerate a political system ruled by the interests of the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.
Posted by Allan Goldhammer on FB- reprinted with permission. I invite others to share their experiences of the Occupy movement!

I visited Zuccotti Park in October and have helped Occupy Poughkeepsie, NY and just came back from visiting Occupy Philadelphia when the OWS contingent walking to DC was there. The experience of visiting an Occupation provided me with experiences that educated me and inspired me well beyond what is available in online discourse or on other venues. In my visits, I spoke with people I would never get a chance to meet in other ways. We shared views, saw people of similar intent and had my own heart raised in hope in ways that have not happened in way too long.

I was interviewed five times on my OWS visit, speaking to people making documentaries and Youtube videos. I spoke to a CNN reporter, watched a cop throw away signs and then people picking them up and placing them back in use. I picked up a support "Medicare, not Billionaires" sign, and asked people who in their family has been helped by Medicare. I saw people of all ages and walks of life. I helped make "Support the Wall St. Occupation - economic justice" buttons with a man who had made 1500 of them in three days. He was giving them away for free, as long as you promised to wear them everywhere. People promised and still stuffed the box in front of him with money. There was beautiful art being made, and theater, and people being very, very alive.

In Philly I spoke with homeless people, who are legitimate members of the disenfranchised and belong in the Occupy movement. Some were articulate, some less so, some just had a place to camp where the cops weren't harassing them. We all brought our human weaknesses, but Occupy is in some ways a place apart, where our common interests let us speak across social gulfs. A homeless woman with health issues and a college professor were running the free book tent. I stood close to a press conference with major news venues, listening to the OP legal team describe in detail the City's lack of communication regarding their possibly imminent eviction. The construction project necessitating this move was not due to begin until February. This appeared to be a poor excuse. 
The General Assembly I joined in was led by a smart energetic young woman who made sure the process was followed and had good words for people who managed to violate the process accidentally. She has been here since the beginning, she told me. She would be living there herself, but she is wheelchair bound and needs her home. I participated in my first labor action, marching with union members to the Aramark Tower one of the Forbes 500 companies who is being tightfisted in their contract negotiations.

In Poughkeepsie, as in Philadelphia, I spoke with young people, some who had found purpose and kinship in ways they have not before. I saw a support group form who brings them food every day, and a visit from an OWS person bringing a pizza. The support group was organized by a new friend who has much organizing history, and who is at least as enthused as I am by the process.

There are huge differences between watching from afar and putting your body there, and participating in some way. Support Occupation, go there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

OWS- Will Be Stronger than Ever

OWS reaction from being forcibly evicted from Zucotti Park last night

New York, NY — We are a global movement that is reclaiming our humanity and our future. We have stepped into a revitalizing civic process, realizing that we cannot fix our crises isolated from one another. We need collective action, and we need civic space. We are creating that civic space. To occupy is to embody the spirit of liberation that we wish to manifest in our society. It is to exercise our freedom to assemble. We are creating space for community, values, ideas, and a level of meaningful dialogue that is absent in the present discourse.

Liberated space is breaking free of isolation, breaking down the walls that literally and figuratively separate us from one another. It is a new focus on community, trust, love and hope. We occupy to create a vision of equality, liberty and social justice onto the blank paving stones of public parks, in the silent hallways of abandoned schools, banks, and beyond. Public space plays a crucial role in this civic process and encourages open, transparent organizing in our movement. As we have seen in Liberty Square, outdoor space invites people to listen, speak, share, learn, and act. Last night, billionaire Michael Bloomberg sent a massive police force to evict members of the public from Liberty Square—home of Occupy Wall Street for the past two months. People who were part of a dynamic civic process were beaten and pepper-sprayed, their personal property destroyed.Supporters of this rapidly growing movement were mobilized in the middle of the night, making phone calls, taking the streets en masse, and planning next steps.

Americans and people around the world are appalled at Bloomberg's treatment of people who peacefully assemble. We are appalled, but not deterred. Liberty Square was dispersed, but its spirit not defeated. Today we are stronger than we were yesterday. Tomorrow we will be stronger still. We are breaking free of the fear that constricts and confines us. We occupy to liberate.We move forward in the grand tradition of the transformative social movements that have defined American history. We stand on the shoulders of those who have struggled before us, and we pick up where others have left off. We are creating a better society for us all.Occupy Wall Street has renewed a sense of hope. It has revived a belief in community and awakened a revolutionary spirit too long silenced.

Join us as we liberate space and build a movement. 9 a.m. Tuesday morning at Sixth Avenue and Canal we continue.

Read more about the eviction - http://www.alternet.org/rss/1/730802/crackdown_on_ows%3A_zuccotti_park_raided_under_media_blackout%2C_pepper_spray_and_batons_used%2C_tents_cleared_out?akid=7852.131652.sRie04&rd=1&t=2

MSNBC said the eviction was peaceful "with protesters and police behaving themselves" Really?
The beatings, pulling people by their hair from tents and pepper spray were not mentioned.


The aftermath of 1,000 police in riot gear shutting down the right of the people to peaceably assemble.
What a contrast to my post yesterday. Things are moving so fast- but I have faith- in the occupiers, in the justness of their cause and in the American people who are collectively waking up!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Occupy Poughkeepsie Rally and March Videos and Pictures!

What a great day! Almost 300 folks showed up to show their solidarity with the occupiers of Poughkeepsie on Saturday! We had amazing performers and speakers and a beautifully diverse audience; all colors, all ages, from all walks of life! The energy was high and the feeling of oneness strong.

Thanks to Jodiah Jacobs for these photos!

It is getting colder and the mostly, young occupiers need all of our ongoing support. Join them on facebook, join Occupy Poughkeepsie Moms and Dads (who provide a hot meal every night) and go down and visit. General Assemblies are everyday at noon and 7PM. Go to their website OccupyPoughkeepsie.org to see what supplies they need.

And here is a great video of New Paltz Mayor Jason West talking about what the occupiers have in common with the Sermon on the Mount! As I said in my last hard copy of Clear Stream,

"I believe the spirit of the New Earth we are creating can best be seen in the Occupy movement. Occupiers model equality, inclusiveness, peace and compassion- the values needed to create a saner, more just and loving world."

We are the 99% and we have just begun.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Occupy Poughkeepsie Rally and March- Sat, Nov 12!

For Our Veterans, for Our People, for Our Future

In Solidarity with
Occupy Wall St and Occupy Together 

Rally and March
Saturday, Nov 12th
-12 noon-

-Hulme Park-
(Corner of  Church (rt 55) and Market, right near the bridge)

Come to discuss, Come to listen, Come to support
Stand in defiance

facebook: Occupy Poughkeepsie
twitter: occupypk 

All out November 12 to show community support for the young people who are occupying a site in Poughkeepsie 24/7! When they began Oct 15, police made them leave the park at curfew. They set up their sleeping bags across the street on the sidewalk and slept there for two nights. On the third it was raining- they didn't want to break up camp once again and move to the street- so they decided to stay and the police have left them alone since (even some nights yelling out to stay warm)!

Their dedication, organization and good energy are impressive, but it can't be easy being in the cold, never knowing what the next day will bring. Can we show them that we have their backs? That we appreciate their passion and respect them and all making these courageous stands all over our country?

Please come Saturday Nov 12. The rally beginning at 12 will be great with speakers: members of Occupy Pok, Veteran's for Peace, Alliance for Quality Education, African Roots Library, New Paltz Women in Black and others. Performers will include:Tom Pacheco, Reggie Harris, the Redwing Blackbird Puppet Theater, "Billionaires for Boehner", the Women's Drum Circle and Bill Vanaver.

Following the rally, there will be a march through the city. Signs will be provided and there will be material there to make your own. After the march, people are invited to take part in the group's General Assembly to join in the discussion about how to change the system so that it works for the 99% of us. 

The event is open to the public. let's have a large turnout to show support for the Pok occupiers and for the Occupy Movement spreading across this nation and around the world!

Please visit them on their FB page and website and see what they need to keep going!
The 99% Visit Gov Walker from occupywallst.org. This is great!

Second Veteran Injured by Oakland Cops- In Intensive Care with a Lacerated Spleen after Being Beaten with Baton by Oakland Cops
Sign the letter the ACLU is sending to Mayors across the country saying there should not be police crackdowns on peaceful potesters exercising their First Amendment rights!
Occupy the Future "I've never seen anything quite like the Occupy movement in scale and character, here and worldwide. The Occupy outposts are trying to create cooperative communities that just might be the basis for the kinds of lasting organizations necessary to overcome the barriers ahead and the backlash that's already coming." Noam Chomsky