Several stories in the news this week – and it’s only Tuesday – reveal the scope of the spying and surveillance activities of the NYPD and DA’s office, who are monitoring Occupy Wall Street.
Taken individually, these stories may not seem earth-shattering. Yes, the NYPD was monitoring Occupy, but the NYPD is sort of legendary for its overzealous spy and harassment programs (just ask any Muslim New Yorker or victim of the Stop and Frisk policy). But examined together, it becomes clear that the NYPD and District Attorney’s office are devoting enormous resources to spying, harassing, and intimidating what has thus far proven itself to be an overwhelmingly peaceful protest group…
(freakoutnation.com) Three members, Mike, Chris and Tara, of Occupy San Diego were arrested for felony conspiracy when they mic checked the Mayor. No, really.
A significant increase of officials morphing the laws to better suit the Powers that Be is running rampant throughout America. These three ‘felons’ committed the dastardly act of Free Speech, which is clearly a danger to the public at large. (Hide your children!)
Daily Kos reports:
What is felony conspiracy you ask?
PENAL CODESECTION 182-185182. (a) If two or more persons conspire:
(1) To commit any crime.
(2) Falsely and maliciously to indict another for any crime, or to
procure another to be charged or arrested for any crime.
(3) Falsely to move or maintain any suit, action, or proceeding.
(4) To cheat and defraud any person of any property, by any means
which are in themselves criminal, or to obtain money or property by
false pretenses or by false promises with fraudulent intent not to
perform those promises.
(5) To commit any act injurious to the public health, to public
morals, or to pervert or obstruct justice, or the due administration
of the laws.
(6) To commit any crime against the person of the President or
Vice President of the United States, the Governor of any state or
territory, any United States justice or judge, or the secretary of
any of the executive departments of the United States.
There is nothing of a felonious nature committed in the video.
183. No conspiracies, other than those enumerated in the preceding
section, are punishable criminally.
Encompassing our politics is a significant prevalence of money. Those pimping for politicians and corporations are obviously rattled and they should be. This isn’t over.
Smells like scare tactics to me.
Since I put my bumper sticker that says, “Jesus Is With The 99%,” my truck has been keyed and I witnessed a cop spit on the sticker (even though I was wearing my minister collar). Does this piss me off? No, I’m tickled as fuck - it means we’re getting to them!
The “with me or against me” interpretation of Jesus is a common misconception that many Christians have helped to create. As someone who is fluent in Classical and Koine Greek, Jesus is not talking about himself, (I don’t think Jesus saw himself as God, but as a prophet; and so do I), but talking about the way of life he was advocating (loving God and loving people). The gospel of John is the greatest offender in creating a Jesus-is-God and the for-us-or-against-us mentality, which is why it almost didn’t make it into the Bible. I personally don’t care what you call God - even if you don’t call God anything. What matters to me is if you have a passion for social justice, peace, and love of others and the planet. That is the most basic ethic of all the major faiths and should be the desire of all, regardless of the label you find yourself under.
- reddit user RevJarrod
We’re talking about how to save democracy from the plutocratic rule of elite financiers. It’s time to think big.
Capitalist Values Vanish from Wall Street
This week we are reminded again that the ideals of capitalism are a joke on Wall Street, as the heads of the largest Wall Street banks earn enormous incomes while the values of their banks plummet. “According to data from Rochdale Securities analyst Dick Bove, the heads of major banking groups including JPMorganChase (JPM), Goldman Sachs (GS) and Bank of America (BAC) are out-earning their employees and shareholders even as shares of bank stocks as a group lost about 26 percent [in 2011].” (Ron Haruni, “Big Bank CEOs Walk Away with Big Bucks in 2011”)
The big boys are raking it in again even while the economy suffers through the highest sustained level of unemployment since the Great Depression. More to the point, these very bank executives were complicit up to their eyeballs in helping to crash the economy in the first place! Chase CEO Jamie Dimon hauled in $41.9 million in 2011 while its bank stock lost roughly 23 percent of its value. Lloyd “I’m doing God’s work” Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, walked off with $22 million while his bank lost more than 46 percent of its value.
But, at this point, why should we be surprised? Before the crash, the heads of too-big-to-fail banks made billions in packaging, selling and then betting against toxic mortgage-backed securities that directly puffed up the housing bubble. When they couldn’t escape the crash they helped to foster, they went down on their knees begging for government help. At the same time they publicly claimed all was well, while privately taking in more than $7 trillion in secret government loans. And then after sucking up all these enormous bailouts, they used these nearly interest-free government loans to buy up other banks and lobby to prevent rules that might constrain their gambling activities. Meanwhile, they paid not a dime in personal restitution for killing 8 million jobs in a matter of months, most of which have not returned.
1. Banks should only be allowed to lend directly to borrowers and then service and keep those loans on their own balance sheets. There is no further public purpose served by selling loans or other financial assets to third parties, but there are substantial real costs to government regarding the regulation and supervision of those activities. Goodbye CDOs, synthetic CDOs and the slew of profitable but dangerous financial casino games banks so love.
2. Banks should not be allowed to have subsidiaries of any kind. No public purpose is served by allowing bank to hold any assets “off balance sheet.” A bank should be a bank and not a hodgepodge of hidden accounts designed to fool investors, build up leverage and gamble away with impunity.
3. Banks should not be allowed to accept financial assets as collateral for loans. No public purpose is served by financial leverage. This should put an end to highly leveraged, Ponzi-like financing schemes that have become commonplace within the banking community
4. Banks should not be allowed to lend off shore. No public purpose is served by allowing any banks to lend for foreign purposes. The Cayman Islands should be a resort for people, not bank slush funds.
5. Banks should not be allowed to buy (or sell) credit default insurance. Credit default swaps are financial insurance on bonds that might go bust – think Greece. Auerback wants to eliminate banks from this highly profitable game. Banks that rely on government insurance to protect depositors have no business playing in the markets that buy and sell risk.
6. Banks should not be allowed to engage in proprietary trading or any profit-making ventures beyond basic lending. Unfortunately, the big banks are addicted to proprietary trading. That’s because the big money comes from trading for their own accounts – which is the plushest of all their casinos. MF Global, under Jon Corzine’s reckless leadership, was so addicted to proprietary trading that it seems to have used its clients’ money as a piggy bank to cover its losses. More regulation will never end these games. But what would work is Auerback’s call for simply banning any and all proprietary trading by banks.
(Hot off the wire: Reuters reports that in the last days before MF Global went under, it sold hundreds of millions in assets to Goldman Sachs, the investment bank that Corzine once headed. But apparently, MF Global did not receive payment from Goldman Sachs, when the transaction was cleared through JPMorgan Chase. We don’t know as yet which bank pocketed that money. But this transaction might help explain what happened to the missing client money.)
7. Abandon “too-big-to-fail” and “systemically important” doctrine in favor of a “too-big-to-save” and “systemically dangerous” approach. They should be broken up, so that they are not “too big to fail.” Guarantee the deposits and punish the shareholders. Break the power of finance once and for all. Amen!
Even if you don’t agree with every point, you’ve got to admit that Auerback pushes us to think really big, and rightfully so. After all we’re talking about how to save democracy from the plutocratic rule of elite financiers.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is at a crossroads.
Since the protesters in Zuccotti Park who made headlines around the world were ousted from their New York City encampment in November, and other demonstrators were sent packing in cities across the country, observers have been left wondering whether the movement is on its deathbed or will transform and grow in the coming year.
With that in mind, POLITICO asked cultural critics, advertising and messaging gurus, activists and others for their ideas about how Occupy can stay relevant.
By Miranda Leitsinger | msnbc.com
Seven Occupy protesters were indicted on felony charges by a grand jury in Houston on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office says, in connection with their demonstration at the local port as part of a national day of action by the movement.
The decision comes nearly a week after a judge initially dismissed the charges, saying the protesters could not be charged with possessing or using a “criminal instrument” – a felony in Texas – for their use of PVC pipe.
The protesters — three from Austin, four from Houston — put their arms through the pipe and used latches on it to connect together, making their arrest more difficult but not preventing it, said one of their attorneys, Daphne Silverman, of the National Lawyer’s Guild in Houston. Donna Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office, confirmed the indictment.
“They are feeling, ‘wow,’ is the word. … They’re in a lot of shock. They were very happy with the justice’s decision last week, they believed in her, they believed in the justice system,” Silverman said. “These people … are not criminals. These folks are out there attempting to make the country better for all of us.”
Silverman, who noted that she believed the law had been wrongly applied by the prosecutor, said it’s likely the protesters will be back in court in January to talk about the next step, such as negotiations or to go to trial. If convicted, they face up to two years in jail.
Protester Dustin Phipps — who is not one of the seven charged — said it was a “strategic move” by local police to discourage others from participating in civil disobedience.
“We definitely plan on fighting it,” said Phipps, 28, a pre-medical student at the University of Houston. “We’re going to move forward … with faith and determination because we understand we have the rights and the upper hand, and we’re going to make sure justice is served.”
The protesters had joined with other Occupy outfits across the country that were conducting port shutdowns on Dec. 12 to economically disrupt what they called ”Wall Street on the waterfront.”
The Houston Police Department has used the “criminal instrument” against protesters on previous occasions, according to Attorney Randall Kallinen, who is representing one of the seven protesters. The charge usually does not hold up in court in such cases, but because it is a felony charge it has a chilling effect on would-be activists, he said.
“We’ve been seeing more of them (felony arrests), especially beginning of November,” said Gideon Oliver of the lawyers guild in New York. The police and the district attorney’s office have discretion in determining the charges, “and so there are two sort of steps in the process where … the police or the DA, if they conducted a reasonable investigation, I think, in a lot of these cases would realize that they’re overcharging.”
This is blatantly twisting laws around in order to scare people into not protesting.
They want to ruin these people’s lives to send a message, and I bet there are plenty of people out there reading this saying “Welp, that’s what happens if you break the law.”
Not a fucking felony for protesting, they weren’t using the pipe as a weapon, they were using it to assist in nonviolent resistance.
This is total bullshit.
An Oakland police officer who shot an Occupy protester with a beanbag last month as the demonstrator took video of officers in riot gear has been removed from street duty along with his supervisor, pending an investigation, said sources familiar with the matter.
Police officials have released few details about the Nov. 3 incident in which Scott Campbell, 30, was hit in the leg with a nonlethal beanbag. The Oakland resident uploaded his video to YouTube, did national television appearances and sued the Police Department in federal court.
The sources said the incident was the subject of an internal affairs investigation of the officer who fired the beanbag as well as his supervisor, Capt. Ersie Joyner III. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe is a confidential personnel matter.[FULL STORY]
By EDUARDO PORTER | The New York Times
The Republican right is pushing back hard against the 99 percent movement and its focus on the widening chasm between the fortunes of the few at the summit of the income scale and everybody else. Newt Gingrich, who led the field of Republican presidential candidates last week, argued that the concept of the 99 percent versus the 1 percent is “un-American.” His rival Rick Perry, who led the Republican pack in September, answered a question about taxes and inequality by saying “I don’t care about that.”
This indifference is grounded in a proposition that has for decades dominated American debate over redistributive policies like steeper taxes for the rich: that inequality is an expected outcome of economic growth, and that efforts to tamp down inequality would slow growth down. As President Obama said in his speech in Kansas last week, this strain of thought goes back to at least the turn of the last century when “there were people who thought massive inequality and exploitation of people was just the price you pay for progress.”
Why, conservatives ask, would people exert themselves, study more and work harder if they could not reap extra rewards from the effort? Trying to fix inequities would only blunt incentives to work and invest. As Mr. Gingrich put it, “You are not going to get job creation when you engage in class warfare because you have to attack the very people you hope will create jobs.”
This argument is — at best — incomplete. Some inequality may be necessary to encourage investment for growth. But as recent research shows, intense inequality actually stunts growth, making it more difficult for countries to sustain the sort of long economic expansions that have characterized the more prosperous nations of the world.
The first chart, based on research by Andrew Berg and Jonathan Ostry, economists at the International Monetary Fund, reveals the link between inequality and the sustainability of economic growth. Igniting growth is easier than maintaining it. They found that in high-inequality nations spurts of growth ended more quickly, and often in painful contractions.
The chart reports inequality with the so-called Gini index, which is 0 when all households have the same income and 100 when all the income goes to only one household. It shows that regions with high inequality, like sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, have recorded shorter periods of sustained economic growth since 1950 than regions with lower inequality like East Asia. The average stretch of robust growth among relatively equitable industrial countries lasted more than 24 years. In Africa the average was less than 14 years.
The economists found that income distribution contributes more to the sustainability of economic growth than does the quality of a country’s political institutions, its foreign debt and openness to trade, the level of foreign investment in the economy and whether its exchange rate is competitive.
It’s not too hard to see why. Extreme inequality blocks opportunity for the poor. It can breed resentment and political instability — discouraging investment — and lead to political polarization and gridlock, splitting the political system into haves and have-nots. And it can make it harder for governments to address economic imbalances and brewing crises.
Republicans might be tempted to dismiss such analysis as irrelevant to the United States, which is already highly developed. But as the second chart shows, inequality in Americahas soared over the last 30 years, approaching and even surpassing that in many poor countries. Today, America is an outlier among industrial nations. Its distribution of income looks closer to that of Argentina than, say, Germany.
So it is perhaps unsurprising that our recent economic crisis had some characteristics of boom-and-busts in less developed nations. It was triggered, in part, by 1 percenters on Wall Street persuading regulators to remove restrictions on their casino. It led workers to pile on debt to supplement falling incomes. It ended with a vast deployment of tax dollars to bail out fallen plutocrats. And our political system seems unable to deal with the aftermath.
Just after 1 a.m. on Wednesday, San Francisco police stormed a downtown Occupy Wall Street encampment, using tactics that have begun to sound commonplace after New York police used them on occupiers in Zuccotti Park.
The early morning raid came as a surprise and happened fast, the Associated Press reports, via the San Francisco Chronicle: ”Officer Albie Esparza says more than 100 officers swept into the encampment at Justin Herman Plaza shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday, gave campers a few minutes warning to pack up and leave, then swept in.” They arrested 70 people in all, according to a laterChronicle staff report, including 30 who refused to leave Justin Herman Plaza and another 40 who blocked Market Street in protest.
In the end, police cleared out the camp and were pressure-washing Justin Herman Plaza before dawn. But most of the reports come second hand, as the San Jose Mercury News noted another similarity to New York’s operation: “Access for reporters and photographers to the camp itself has been blocked.” The Mercury News reported later that “Police Chief Greg Suhr said the decision to move in this morning was made after a breakdown in talks over the camp moving to another location the city had chosen and after confrontations last week between police and protesters.”