Why America’s 99% have rebelled

Why America’s 99% have rebelled

The ‘53 per cent’ stories are testimonials to dogged determination. One man, a father of a five-month-old, expresses pride in working 70-hour weeks in an effort to pay $100,000 in student loans. ‘I will be responsible for my own success through character and hard work,’ he writes. Another story that has gained notoriety reads: ‘I am a former Marine. I work two jobs. I don’t have health insurance… I haven’t had four consecutive days off in over four years. But I don’t blame Wall Street. Suck it up, you whiners.’

These stories only reinforce the message of the occupations. For if you’re working nearly all of your waking hours, we think you deserve healthcare. We want you to be free of crippling debt. In fact, we want these things for those who work 40 hours per week. We believe a just society should allow you to spend time with your children.

In large part, the difference between the two blogs is not the description of our economic plight. It’s whether individuals have recognized their personal struggles as part of something larger.

Those who have joined the #Occupy movement are not whining. They are drawing strength from shared experience. They are laying bare the failure of a system. And they are doing something to change it.

Also, We Are the 99 Percent.


My 37 hours with the NYPD

My 37 hours with the NYPD
Why it is important for occupiers to see the inside of the prison-industrial complex.

One final thought after these illuminating 37 hours. The story of Occupy Wall Street is impossible to tell removed from the story of the prison industrial complex. What makes OWS necessary is a story of a failing educational system. It’s a story of privatized prisons. It’s a story of predatory lenders, lack of affordable housing, and a complete absence of jobs in the most marginalized communities, who are often black or brown. It’s a story of a so-called drug war meant to imprison black and brown youth as a means of generating profits for the 1 percent. The NYPD have shown they will arrest accredited and unaccredited journalists alike. Official credentials don’t work as a protection.

That said, journalists – like activists – shouldn’t be afraid of going to jail. If and when we do get arrested it is not an inconvenience, or something that we shouldn’t be subjected to. It’s a chance to refocus our outrage, a chance to tell the most important stories, a chance to bear witness to the horrors of our criminal justice system. I don’t think the NYPD will ever offer me official credentials, but I won’t be asking them for any. Our right to observe and document police misconduct is not contingent on the approval of the authorities. And if the police think that intimidation is going to stop this movement, they should know better by now.

‘Occupied’ State? Anti-ICE Rally Among Nearly 150 Protests In California

‘Occupied’ State? Anti-ICE Rally Among Nearly 150 Protests In California

“When you think about the fact that Occupy Wall Street states on their website that they began on Sept. 17, that’s pretty impressive that West Coast towns — some of them medium and small — picked up on it almost immediately,” Curran-Strange said…

Social media sites dedicated to the protests claim up to thousands of subscribers.

It remains awesome to see how instantaneous, widespread communication through smartphones, live streaming and other social media has enabled a movement like no other to take hold. Small groups that would be isolated are still able to be a part of the whole, which gives them more staying power than they would have otherwise; also, the fluidity of the way things form and reform online allows for shifting waves of new Occupy actions in response as the political climate changes. We saw it start in Tahrir Square, and it’s a powerful force if we can really harness it well.

They added that the recent interruption that occupiers caused during a protest at the Port of Oakland shows “this movement has broad support and is capable of powerful collective action.”

An Open Letter from America’s Port Truck Drivers on Occupy the Ports

An Open Letter from America’s Port Truck Drivers on Occupy the Ports

Why are companies like SSA Marine, the Seattle-based global terminal operator that runs one of the West Coast’s major trucking carriers, Shippers’ Transport Express, doing this? Why would mega-rich Maersk, a huge Danish shipping and trucking conglomerate that wants to drill for more oil with Exxon Mobil in the Gulf Coast conduct business this way too?

To cheat on taxes, drive down business costs, and deny us the right to belong to a union, that’s why.

The typical arrangement works like this: Everything comes out of our pockets or is deducted from our paychecks. The truck or lease, fuel, insurance, registration, you name it. Our employers do not have to pay the costs of meeting emissions-compliant regulations; that is our financial burden to bear. Clean trucks cost about four to five times more than what we take home in a year. A few of us haul our company’s trucks for a tiny fraction of what the shippers pay per load instead of an hourly wage. They still call us independent owner-operators and give us a 1099 rather than a W-2.

We have never recovered from losing our basic rights as employees in America. Every year it literally goes from bad to worse to the unimaginable. We were ground zero for the government’s first major experiment into letting big business call the shots. Since it worked so well for the CEOs in transportation, why not the mortgage and banking industry too?

Also: How Goldman Sachs and Other Companies Exploit Port Truck Drivers

Astute consumers may know that the rock bottom we see advertised on endless TV and internet commercials are often the result of companies manufacturing their goods overseas, using sweatshop labor where poorly paid workers often toil in dangerous and unhealthy conditions so that we can enjoy the latest electronics, the coolest pair of jeans.

But what many people may not know is that these sweatshop conditions don’t end when those goods hit American soil. Between the dock where the cargo is unloaded and the shelf from which you pluck your treasure, there are several critical lynchpins. One of them is port truck drivers. These drivers (around 110,000 of them in the United States) are responsible for moving approximately 20 million containers a year from the ports to railway yards and warehouses. Drivers operating large trucks are expected to safely haul loads up to 80,000 pounds. It’s a job for professionals, only these professionals are earning poverty wages, sometimes even less than you’d make flipping burgers at a fast food restaurant. Once a middle-class profession, the port trucking (or drayage) industry has now been dubbed “sweatshops on wheels.”

Ex-Seattle chief: ‘Occupy’ police use ‘failed’ tactics

Ex-Seattle chief: ‘Occupy’ police use ‘failed’ tactics

In the years following 9/11, the federal government provided military equipment to police forces across the country and instilled in them a military mindset, all in the name of homeland security, the former police chief says.

“The intentions are easily understood but it was a hopelessly misguided policy,” he says. “What we see now is even the tiniest rural police department dressed out in battle fatigues and Swat uniforms, sometimes driving armoured personal vehicles and making every marijuana bust a military operation.”

Occupy London’s School of Hard Knocks

Occupy London’s School of Hard Knocks

This is cool! London rocks.

Today, for instance, celebrated Spanish sociologist and Berkeley professor Manuel Castells stopped by at the square to talk about how networking and organization shape society. (Castells gave a lecture series at the University of Cambridge the past week.) “What we have at the moment is democracy, but a restrained form of democracy – and the political class has an interest in maintaining the rules of the game,” Castells told the crowd, according to Occupy London’s Twitter feed.

Sociologists from the University of London and the University of Roehampton and representatives from several nongovernmental organizations on climate change are booked later this month.

The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy

The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy

Oh hell.

The National Union of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a Freedom of Information Act request to investigate possible federal involvement with law enforcement practices that appeared to target journalists. The New York Times reported that “New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers” covering protests. Reporters were asked by NYPD to raise their hands to prove they had credentials: when many dutifully did so, they were taken, upon threat of arrest, away from the story they were covering, and penned far from the site in which the news was unfolding. Other reporters wearing press passes were arrested and roughed up by cops, after being – falsely – informed by police that “It is illegal to take pictures on the sidewalk.”

I guess this means they’re scared? The guys in charge, I mean, not just the people getting their rights quite literally stomped upon?

In New York, a state supreme court justice and a New York City council member were beaten up; in Berkeley, California, one of our greatest national poets, Robert Hass, was beaten with batons. The picture darkened still further when Wonkette and Washingtonsblog.com reported that the Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on “how to suppress” Occupy protests.

At least, finally, it’s getting out that Occupy does in fact have a message… a fairly clear message, despite what the media would have you believe. It’s there. They just don’t want to admit it.

The mainstream media was declaring continually “OWS has no message”. Frustrated, I simply asked them. I began soliciting online “What is it you want?” answers from Occupy. In the first 15 minutes, I received 100 answers. These were truly eye-opening.

The No 1 agenda item: get the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process. No 2: reform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.

No 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.

When I saw this list – and especially the last agenda item – the scales fell from my eyes. Of course, these unarmed people would be having the shit kicked out of them.

Yes, of course. You can protest the issues and form grassroots movements and picket abortion clinics, no problem. You can tilt at windmills ’til the cows come home and nobody gives a damn, because they know you aren’t even pointed in the right direction, so why would anyone be concerned? But when you take aim at the real problem, at the little man behind the Wizard of Oz screen, then all of a sudden we get to see exactly what all that money can buy. Us, I guess, and all the rights and liberties we thought were worth more than mere cash could cover.