While this statement by Occupy Wall Street is a powerful list of grievances against capitalism, it fails to even once mention the word "war." This is a significant failing, and cannot have been an oversight. The activists in Liberty Park and in cities across the country, if they want to make this a mass movement to confront the corporate domination of American politics and society, must be willing to confront head on the reality that the corporate elite have made the U.S. into the world's greatest war-monger. It is not just "colonialism," an outmoded term, that is the problem. It is a vast web of imperialism, imposed by a war machine that is bigger and costlier than all the rest of the world's armies combined, and it is the single biggest reason that this country is descending into a state of social and economic decay and decline.
A dozen activists gathered outside of Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona at 7 a.m. Monday morning, October 3 to protest drone warfare and war profiteering. The group held signs reading "No to War Profiteering", "We Have Guided Missiles and Misguided Men - MLK", and "Drone Attacks Inspire Hatred of the U.S.", as employees drove into the factory.
Tucson Quaker and Catholic Worker John Heid holding a sign that said "Make Us Instruments of Peace", walked toward the Raytheon gatehouse to communicate with workers about weapons produced there (including Standard Missiles, Star Wars "kill vehicles", Mavericks, AMRAAMs, microwave crowd control beams, pilotless drones, cluster bombs and cruise missiles) and particularly about his concerns regarding drone warfare.
Heid was stopped while nearing the gatehouse, arrested and taken to jail.
Earlier he stated, "Today, October 3rd, sandwiched between Gandhi¹s
Lately, the phrase "public servants" has struck me as ironic, not because government officials fail to serve the public, but because much of the public serves them. The public is the servants. Activist groups and individuals devote themselves to bettering the fortunes of political parties or politicians, at the expense of pressuring government officials to represent public demands.
Nobody favors eliminating elections, and nobody favors eliminating activism. But there are those who cannot see how prioritizing money-marinated, gerrymandered, cable-news-controlled, unverifiable elections will reverse the train wreck in progress. And there are those who cannot see what it would mean to engage in activism that wasn't aimed at promoting electoral victories.
Remarks at Take Back the Dream conference, October 3, 2011.
Back around May or June a bunch of us announced plans for this coming Thursday, October 6th, to occupy Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., not for a march or a rally, and not for a day or a weekend, but to create a central space for an ongoing occupation from which we would engage in nonviolent resistance.
We were inspired by the Arab Spring and Wisconsin and working for a U.S. Autumn. Now of course we are also inspired by the Occupation of Wall Street. It's been wonderful to see more and more people and organizations compelled to join in that action, and to see militarism and plutocracy opposed together by a movement that refuses to be dumbed down into a sound bite.
Over 150 organizations are part of the planning for Freedom Plaza at October2011.org and all are encouraged to join. Wall Street's servants on K Street, in the Pentagon, and in our government may be feeling comfortably distant from Wall Street right about now. But I don't see any reason to support protests of the wealth that corrupts our government and not protests of the government corrupted by that wealth. Choosing to be corrupted is an active choice. Corruption is not something imposed on helpless victims.
We chose October 6th because the Afghanistan War was due to begin its second decade. Over 4,000 people have taken this pledge:
"I pledge that if any U.S. troops, contractors, or mercenaries remain in Afghanistan on Thursday, October 6, 2011, as that occupation goes into its 11th year, I will commit to being in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., with others on that day with the intention of making it our Tahrir Square, Cairo, our Madison, Wisconsin, where we will NONVIOLENTLY resist the corporate machine to demand that our resources are invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation. We can do this together. We will be the beginning ."
I hope you'll go and pledge the same at October2011.org
It has been three years now since a Russian ambassador to Afghanistan said the United States had repeated all of the Soviet Union's mistakes in Afghanistan and had moved on to new ones. Mistakes is a common euphemism for crimes and other words that we would be applying were ours the country violently occupied, were ours the bulk of the deaths and misery, were our doors being kicked in and our loved ones disappeared, were the missiles hitting our homes.
Every year, of course, as British Member of Parliament Rory Stewart recently pointed out, top western officials have claimed that whatever year it was would be the decisive one. And each year it has not been. This past week, the United Nations reported an increase in violence in Afghanistan of about 40 percent over last year. NATO deemed that story inappropriate and announced its own findings the very next day. It turns out that, if you believe violence isn't violence when it's committed by the United States and allies, then you can look at certain types of violence initiated purely by Afghans and identify a dramatic decrease of . . . wait for it . . . 2 percent.
But don't book that Afghan vacation just yet.
Migratory birds have been avoiding Afghanistan for some years now. Afghans with higher educations have been leaving for decades. War profiteers, and occupation profiteers, and so-called reconstruction profiteers seem to know their way out. But imperial rulers, whether British or Soviet or U.S., Nobel Peace Prize winners or otherwise, seem utterly incapable of withdrawing other people's kids from Afghan wars until no other option remains.
And why this inability to leave? Why stay? It's not to track down Osama bin Laden on the off chance he wasn't really given that proper Muslim sea burial. It's not to find the number 8 regional leader in al Qaeda, and certainly not to oppose the Taliban which feeds off the occupation. It may be for politics, but U.S. opinion polls could hardly scream "Get out!" more clearly. It is almost certainly for profits and pipelines and permanent bases. A U.S. executive, er excuse me "job creator," told NPR this summer that if the occupation of Afghanistan were scaled back he really hoped there could be a big occupation of Libya.
But there's apparently another reason why armed U.S. citizens and their foreign workers are still in Afghanistan, and it's not to keep us safe. The 2006 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, among other studies, made clear that these wars make us less safe, not more. Almost four years ago, at a conference in Washington, D.C., on al Qaeda, former State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin listed ways to reduce the threat of terrorism. Afterwards, journalist Gareth Porter asked him whether ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should have been on his list. “You’re right,” he answered. And then he added, “But we can’t do that.” “Why not,” Porter asked. “Because,” he said, “we would have to tell the families of the soldiers who have died in those wars that their loved ones died in vain.”
Since then, of course, a lot more people have died in vain.
This is what it comes to, and why nonviolent occupations of our own back in Der "Homeland" are required. Our government has gone insane. It is killing people purely because it has already killed people.
War was banned by the nations of the world in 1928 and an 85-1 vote in the U.S. Senate in 1929 following a decade of work by a peace movement that refused to give up. And now we accept war as the air we breathe. In 2008 we may not have voted in "four more years," but we did get four more wars: Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, added to Iraq and Afghanistan, with routine murders of particular human beings and those standing too close to them now openly inclusive of U.S. citizens.
To a growing extent, we see through this just as we see through austerity, environmental destruction, corporate welfare, and political corruption. But merely waiting for another money-soaked, gerrymandered, cable-tv-controlled election on unverifiable voting machines is not going to be sufficient. We're not against elections. This is not either-or. We're not against elections: we're demanding reforms that would allow us to have meaningful elections. But redirecting OccupyWallStreet energy into elections, as was done to Wisconsin, would be an act of betrayal.
Super Congress Member John Kerry's home state is fifth in the nation in military spending, employing lots of registered voters building machines of death for Raytheon, the former head of which company was brought in by the Obama administration as Deputy Secretary of Defense and who told the Washington Times in June, "The wars of the future will be longer, deadlier and waged against a more diverse variety of enemies than ever before."
Super Congress Co-Chair Patty Murray, Democrat from Boeing, since 2007 has taken $276,000 from war industries, Max Baucus $139,000, Dave Camp $130,000, John Kerry $73,000, and so on. The President who must sign or veto whatever comes out of the Super Congress and the Less Than Super Congress took over $1 million from war industries just in the 2008 election, not to mention $39 million from finance, insurance, and real estate. Targeting our social safety net is a goal that Wall Street and the military industrial complex have shared for many years. And of course the general corporate exploitation of foreign resources and workers depends on the threat of military force. Military spending has increased at the President's request each year since 2008 as well as since 2001.
Thanks to Occupy Wall Street, a conversation has been launched about the damage the wealthiest one percent is doing to the rest of us. California just pulled out of a mortgage fraud settlement deal that is expected to let the crooks off easy. Who's to say Occupy Wall Street didn't influence that decision.
The Super Congressional crusade to slash spending can only be carried through without causing massive misery and death in one of two ways, neither of which the U.S. Congress or President wants to touch, but both of which are central demands of the Occupation movement. The first is to significantly raise taxes on the super wealthy. The second is to significantly cut spending on the military. A progressive demand right now is not "Jobs Not Cuts" but "Jobs Not Wars."
Seventy members of Congress have pointed out that ending the two biggest current wars in fiscal year 2012 would save $1.8 trillion over the following decade, above planned savings from promised reductions in troops. But war spending is pocket change in comparison with the overall military and security budget. Economists have studied the impact on job creation of various types of government spending. It turns out that we could have full employment in the United States purely by redirecting a fraction of the Pentagon's budget. We could create 29 million jobs above and beyond reemployment for workers displaced in a conversion, just by moving funds from the Pentagon into education, healthcare, clean energy, and tax cuts. This calculation, if not my ideal plan, would leave military spending in several departments including Homeland Security untouched and leave the Department of So Called Defense more money than it had 10 years ago.
Leon Panetta, who holds the position that we used to more usefully call "Secretary of War," considers $350 billion over 10 years, or $35 billion per year, to be serious cuts to the national security budget. But he's discussing cuts to dreamed of future budgets. The current budget would still increase under those so-called cuts. But imagine really taking $35 billion from a budget of well over a trillion. (According to Chris Hellman of National Priorities Project, the security budget is $1.2 trillion, including the spy agencies and various other departments.) That would be a cut of less than 3.5 percent.
China spends about $114 billion per year on its military. Let's generously assume there are enough hidden costs in China's budget to double it to $228 billion. And let's assume that we must spend twice as much as they do, because . . . well, just because. Now we're at $456 billion. How do we get from there to Panetta describing a U.S. security budget of $965 billion as the lowest we can safely go, and a budget of $950 billion as "doomsday"? Is the danger here to us or to the profits of the weapons makers who are also demanding that any cuts made be made to troops' benefits rather than to weaponry?
“Every gun that's made," said Dwight David Eisenhower, "every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed." It also signifies death and injury to those on the receiving end, almost all of whom are non-Americans. But we cannot have a movement in this country demanding funding for anything decent or humane without having a movement to restrain the machine that is sucking down over 63 percent of discretionary spending (including care of veterans but not including Homeland Security or interest payments on war debt), serving as our biggest polluter of the natural environment, and providing the leading justification for eroding our civil liberties.
These are the demands we will bring to Freedom Plaza beginning Thursday: • Tax the rich and corporations • End the wars, bring the troops home, cut military spending • Protect the social safety net, strengthen Social Security and improved Medicare for all • End corporate welfare for oil companies and other big business interests • Transition to a clean energy economy, reverse environmental degradation • Protect worker rights including collective bargaining, create jobs and raise wages • Get money out of politics
There's a widespread belief that such a list of demands must be reduced to one bumper sticker. But is what I just read really too many words for people who pass 10,000-word laws meant to govern us? There are 100s of times as many words as in this list of demands in the instruction booklet for a blueray player, something your average American seems able to handle. Nobody insisted that Thomas Jefferson reduce the Declaration of Independence to an eight-second sound bite. We aren't going to win this by getting pithier, and let me let you in on a little secret: Corporate television doesn't dislike resistance to corporate power because its advocates are unskilled at framing and messaging. We aren't going to win this by kicking ourselves. We aren't going to win this by dividing ourselves: we need to be willing to stand in uncomfortably large coalitions, side by side with people who like different parties or candidates or who hold what we think are bizarre views of the world. In Freedom Plaza there will be no promotion of any party or any candidate. We will be speaking as we the people to them our government.
And we will have a lot more fun than can be had sitting home and griping or even engaging in all variety of other useful activities, from phone calling to emailing to tweeting to sitting in conferences listening to me. I mean way more fun, the kind of fun in solidarity with others that medical science says is good for our health, the kind of fun that can take young people buried in student debt and joblessness away from enormous signing bonuses offered by the war machine. Young people will be reached in Freedom Plaza through seminars, libraries, outdoor films, and the experience of democratic decision making and risk taking. And the price is right. Compared with $259 per night here in the Hilton, the accommodations in Freedom Plaza will be priceless.
"Power concedes nothing without a demand," said Frederick Douglass. "It never did and it never will."
Videos by Lionel Heredia freedommediafilm at gmail dot com
I took the subway down to Zuccotti Park on Saturday morning to go on the Slut Walk. Since it was on the official schedule of Occupy Wall Street, and since I had heard it promoted by various members of the Ad Hoc Caucus of Non-Male Identified Individuals, I figured that the Slut Walk was an official Occupy Wall Street event. I envisioned a few dozen Non-Male Identified Individuals raising a ruckus and making a spectacle and wreaking havoc in and around Zuccotti Park.
Instead I found the park to be stuffed with an unusually large proportion of Male Bodied Individuals of unknown identification who were preoccupied with revolutionary pursuits other than the Slut Walk, which was nowhere in evidence. I asked several Male Bodied Individuals where I might find the Slut Walk, and none of them knew.
In a soon-to-be published book entitled Gandhi and the Unspeakable: His Final Experiments with Truth, Jim Douglass contrasts the deadly machinations of Gandhi's probable killers with Gandhi’s own incredible bravery and that of his followers, whose mantra during campaigns for independence expressed their absolute commitment to resist injustice openly, lovingly and fearlessly: with their whole lives. Their mantra was “Do or die.”
It's no accident that the New York Police have been so assiduous in their protection of the big banking establishments that are housed on Wall Street and environs.
The banks don't like paying taxes, but they know how to buy the protection they need, as <a href="http://www.jpmorganchase.com/corporate/Home/article/ny-13.htm?TB_iframe=true&height=580&width=850">this page from JPMorgan Chase's website</a> makes clear.
It boasts that the company has bought the police a bunch of toys for their squad cars, and that is has financed spying software (they call it "security monitoring software") for the NYPD's main data center.
Probably the biggest accomplishment of the Occupy Wall Street movement to date has not been the light these courageous and indomitable young activists have shined on the gangsters of Wall Street, as important as that has been. Rather it has been how they have exposed the police of the nation’s financial capital as the centurions of the ruling class, and not the gauzy “people’s heroes” that they have been posing as since some of their number, along with many more firefighters, nobly gave their lives trying to rescue people in the World Trade Center towers on 9-11.
The crackdown on the Wall Street protesters this weekend seems to have backfired. The campsite-cum-experiment in radical democracy is still there, holding general assemblies just shouting distance from Goldman Sachs and the Wall Street bull. It even appears to be growing.
Last week, a girl in the Bronx pulled out a can of pepper spray and used it in a fight with two other girls in her high school, an event that resulted in her arrest, her mother’s arrest and a report on WNBC.
The mother got locked up because she bought the stuff and gave it to her daughter, and the law in New York is strict about who can carry it — no teenagers, no felons — and how it is used. There was a long legislative fight over whether people should be allowed to carry it, and in 1996, New York became the last state to make it legal, over the objections of Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who felt the rules were lax.
The law requires the following label to appear on the cans:
“The use of this substance or device for any purpose other than self-defense is a criminal offense under the law.”
Pepper spray is regulated with other dangerous weapons. For anyone interested in the effect it has on people hit with it, there are plenty of videos available online. You can hear agonizing screams, especially when it hits the mucous membranes and soft tissue like the eyes.
1) I had brunch on Sunday in Chinatown with a friend who works in local television news. He complained that the Occupy Wall Street people had sent over video that they said showed demonstrators getting maced. It didn’t show any such thing, my friend insisted. After brunch I walked over to occupied Zuccotti Park (two blocks north of Wall Street) and told somebody at the Media table that they had to be careful about claiming more for their video than it actually showed. Then I went home and looked at the video, and it clearly showed several young women, who presented no physical threat, getting wrapped up by police in a plastic net and pepper sprayed in the face.
In a recent debate Congressman Ron Paul claimed the United States military had troops in 130 countries. The St. Petersburg Times looked into whether such an outrage could actually be true and was obliged to report that the number was actually 148 countries. However, if you watch NFL football games, you hear the announcers thank members of the U.S. military for watching from 177 countries. The proud public claim is worse than the scandalous claim or the "investigative" report. What gives?
A former managing editor for the online newspaper, OpEdNews, has sued the city of Philadelphia and eight of its police officers for violating her Constitutional rights.
Cheryl Biren-Wright, Pennsauken, N.J., charges the defendants with violating her 1st, 4th, and 14th amendment rights. The civil action, filed in the U.S. District Court, Philadelphia, is based upon her arrest during a peaceful protest Sept. 12, 2009, at the Army Experience Center (AEC) in the Franklin Mills Mall.
The sun rose this morning—behind clouds—on a tent city in occupied Liberty Plaza/Zuccotti Park in New York’s Financial District, where protesters entered their fourth day of encampment. A farmer’s market was setting up alongside the usual food trucks. Although police had already intervened in taking down a tent on the occupation’s first night, the prospect of early morning rain today made many decide around midnight to set up tarps over media and food supplies, as well as to erect several of the tents that had been donated by the rapper Lupe Fiasco to sleep in themselves. This made for some of the protesters’ most trying confrontations yet with those sworn to serve and protect them.
While few were yet awake, a motorcycle police officer could be heard saying on his cell phone, “That’s my plan. To have them down as soon as possible.” On the north side of the plaza, where the morning before there had been three TV news trucks, there was now an NYPD Communications Division Command Post truck. In it was at least one officer with “COUNTERTERRORISM” on the back of his uniform.
At 6:58, an officer wearing a suit and tie began walking through the plaza, peering through the mesh into tents where protesters were sleeping, demanding that “tents have to come down.” This caused a stir among the hundred or so who had spent the night. They woke up and sprung into various sorts of action. Some immediately began complying by pulling out tent poles—“for the good of the movement”—while others insisted that they should stop. Still more volunteered to hold up the tents and tarps by hand, rather than with poles. An ad hoc meeting started in the center of the plaza to discuss the matter, but in the course of it nearly all the tents and tarps were taken down.
The purpose of the hearing was to sentence Steve Baggarly for his July 2010 trespass at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex, but when the Judge turned to ask Steve if he had anything to say, Steve delivered a message that was part indictment of the bomb plant and part map of the path to hope.
We will be nonviolently shutting down buildings and offices and hallways and streets. – David Swanson
Oct. 6 marks the end of the first decade of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and the beginning of a nonviolent action that may make D.C.’s Freedom Plaza feel a bit like Egypt’s Tahrir Square. “Thousands and thousands of people have pledged to be there, and not for one day,” said author and activist David Swanson, who is helping organize the event as part of October 2011.
As he stood outside the White House on Sept. 3, the final day of the two-week mass civil disobedience against the Keystone XL pipeline, Swanson discussed the upcoming action, which will see protesters camping out day and night at Freedom Plaza.
We’ll make the same persuasive arguments that we always make about the agenda that everybody has: taxing the wealthy, ending the wars, cutting the military, saving the environment, creating jobs. But we’ll do so with actions that take inspiration from the Arab Spring and countries around the world where people try to interfere with what their government is doing, not just speak to it. We will be nonviolently shutting down buildings and offices and hallways and streets.
While the action has been organized by individuals, there are more than 100 organizations supporting it. October 2011 lists “Fifteen Core Issues the Country Must Face,” including: corporatism; wars and militarism; worker rights and jobs; criminal justice and prisons; healthcare; education and housing.
Swanson noted a paradox plaguing the U.S. political process: Americans are quick to criticize their government, but reluctant to take constructive steps to make it better.
[There are] millions of Americans who are able to say: “The system is broken.” “The government is not working for us.” “The government is completely corrupted.” But [then they also say], “How dare you shut it down?” Somehow, too many Americans think that’s an approach you take toward evil, non-American governments, [but not] the American government [which] is sacred, even though it’s “completely broken” and “corrupt” and “working for Wall Street” and “screwing us all.”
Somehow, if we can get over that hump of loyalty to the government, of loyalty to a party, and have people say, “We are the sovereigns of this nation [and] it’s We The People in whose name the Constitution was written,” then we’ll have a movement. It won’t accomplish everything this year, but it will be started.
It is difficult to watch this video without both crying and being inspired. Ashley Joppa-Hagemann recounts her husband's struggles before he killed himself to avoid an eighth or ninth tour in the Iraq-Afghanistan Wars. Ashley confronted Donald Rumsfeld last week over the lies that led her husband to enlist. This led to her appearing on Democracy Now on Tuesday and being featured in Amy Goodman's column:
"One person convinced by Rumsfeld’s rhetoric was Jared August Hagemann.
I was in Seoul, South Korea this month at the invitation of the wonderful EBS TV Documentary Festival, and was truly, happily surprised to see a resurgence of activism among ordinary Koreans. Don't get me wrong. Since its founding, Korea has had a tradition of fierce, die-hard activism (which Koreans themselves may attribute to a diet high in garlic and red pepper, as well as their commitment to social justice), but this ferocity seemed to have gone dormant in the mid-nineties. I was overjoyed to find that this was no longer the case.
A coalition of community organizers, peace activists, left, liberal, progressive groupsand supporting organizations are calling on volunteers to join them October 6, 2011, for an "occupation" of Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C.
U.S.author, blogger, and activist David Swanson says the event is being organized to take over Freedom Plaza to "nonviolently resist what our government is doing."
Swanson told Press TV's U.S. Desk on Monday that "we are going to occupy Freedom Plaza in the middle of Washington D.C., the name of which is very similar of course to Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, and from there we are going to expand to shut down offices, buildings, streets, hallways, to nonviolently, strictly nonviolently resist what our government is doing."
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