Hong Kong Protest Group Faces Moment of Truth

HONG KONG—For a protest movement inclined to deliberate, the need to follow talk with action is sinking in.

The prompt for Occupy Central came on Aug. 31, when Beijing said candidates for Hong Kong chief executive will be nominated by a committee it controls.

The decree left little option for a group that has pushed for direct voter…

The DNA of Occupy

Occupy has entered our DNA. It is in our forms of relating, organizing and being. And, just as “during DNA replication, DNA unwinds so it can be copied,” so Occupy has retained its essence while it has multiplied and changed form.

Many people have discussed the importance that the “conversation changed,” and we as a society now discuss class, inequality and power  through the slogan of the 99% and concepts of corporate rule. But it is the meanings and actions behind these discussions that is what has made the most impactful change. People are the 99% and feel it, exclaim it. When we chant, “We are the 99%” it is said with a sense of power, with our heads held a little higher and backs straighter. People have a newfound dignity in being in the majority. And not only do we feel dignity, but we no longer feel shame. Over the past decades in the U.S. (and many other parts of the world) to be poor, to face eviction or foreclosure, to need help, was something one hid. People would get evicted and pretend to their neighbors and even to their friends that they were just moving in with family and friends for a while, as if it was a choice. No longer. Now many of these same people go to their neighbors and together form assemblies to defend against evictions and foreclosures. Instead of hiding the fact that one has debt it is becoming part of a movement—Strike Debt!—turning the issue on the banks and discussing refusal instead of guilt and powerlessness.

While in a discussion about new global movements in a friend’s house in Charlotte, North Carolina this week, at a certain moment we realized that there were people in the room from Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Ashville. Most all had been involved in Occupy in each of those locations, some had participated in encampments, others not. They all continue to be active, and in various struggles, from immigrant rights and the defense of minors to not be deported, to the fast food workers organizing and strikes, to anti-police brutality and Ferguson solidarity marches and organizing, to abortion and gay rights defense. In the past, this would mean that people were involved in separate groups and organizations, each led by a traditional union or NGO. Now, there is a mix, and each of the groups is infused with a horizontal spirit of organizing, using the tactics of direct action over demands, or together with demands, and all network with one another. It is not about vying for domination of a political conversation or funding, but collaborating. This is new in North Carolina. As Tony Ndege from Occupy Winston-Salem explained, “It is the first nationwide movement in decades to exist outside of the realm of the establishment of either major party and address class. Occupy forged new relationships between new waves of people in various stages of radicalization.”

I am on a two month book tour of the U.S., beginning in North Carolina. Everywhere I go the question arises, what has Occupy accomplished? And everywhere people in the groups discussing the new global movements respond similarly, and with similar enthusiasm. Occupy changed everything. The U.S. is not the same place—there was a before and after. But the word “accomplished” can make people pause. Occupy is not a social or protest movement. Social and protest movements organize around specific goals and generally are comprised of people with similar ideas or even ideologies. Protest movements look to institutions of power as their targets, and look for change to come from those institutions. Occupy, and the DNA infused Occupy related organizing is comprised of many people from multiple backgrounds, with many goals and without one demand. Occupy has organized, as Gopal from Occupy Farms in Albany, CA succinctly put it, with “goals without demands.”  Of course Occupy and its various current permutations organize around specific issues, and a multitude of them, from housing to defense of the environment, but we do so by first organizing together, forming assemblies and talking to one another, then deciding how to answer the question or issue, such as keeping someone housed or preventing the building of a pipeline, then we organize the actions to make that goal a reality—blocking trucks, marshals and oil companies. Then perhaps there are negotiations with those institutions, but first is the action and the assembly. A concept Uruguayan Raul Zibechi put forward: Societies in Movement, when discussing the autonomous and horizontal movements in Latin America seems much more apt. So the expectations that go with the idea of “accomplishments” does not work in the same way. We have accomplished keeping many hundreds if not thousands of people housed across the U.S., paid the medical debt of hundreds of others, stopped pipelines from being built, prevented water from being shut off to hundreds of families, organized the unorganized and on and on. Most of all however, we have accomplished new relationships, reclaiming our relationships to one another and creating new ways of doing things, new ways of being –  horizontally and with direct action.

It is three years since Occupy Wall Street shook the world—and the reverberations are felt everywhere. No longer seen with the occupation of parks, plazas and squares, Occupy has relocated, it is in us, it is in our ways of being, relating and coming together. People are changed—feel more dignity and organize for a different world because of it. Occupy was never about a place or a moment—it was and is about a way of being and doing. As all ways of relating, it changed and changes, and must do so as to thrive. We have created a new generation of organizers/activists who are not part of a movement to win one thing and then declare victory, but a movement that is about changing everything. And little by little this is happening. Slower than perhaps many of us would like, but in three years we have come a long way. As our Turkish sisters and brothers sang in Tencere Tava Havasi in Taksim Gezi Park, their “sound of pots and pans” reminiscent of the Argentine call to the street with the sound of banging pots and pans; we are going “slowly slowly, as the ground is still wet.”

Occupy’s DNA has taken hold.

Why Hong Kong’s ‘Occupy Central’ Movement Has Beijing Very, Very Scared

Occupy Central founders

Founders of Occupy Central—(left to right) Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, academic Benny Tai and academic Chan Kin-man—during a campaign to kick off the movement, August 31, 2014 (Reuters/Liau Chung-ren)

Three years after Occupy Wall Street burst on the scene in downtown Manhattan, the most vibrant Occupy-style movement is no longer in New York, Oakland, London or Madrid, but in Hong Kong. Now, a new phase of the movement, “Occupy Central,” is about to unleash a wave of occupations of public space to demand greater democracy in the city.

Since returning to Chinese rule in 1997, the official policy of “one country two systems” has allowed Hong Kong to continue to operate with its own political and legal institutions. Although the territory never enjoyed full democracy under British rule, the central government in Beijing promised Hong Kong universal suffrage as part of the handover.

But at the end of this August, the National People’s Congress did just what many democracy activists in Hong Kong have feared, ruling that there would be no civic nomination for Chief Executive elections in 2017. Rather, all candidates must first be approved by a nomination committee of political and economic elites, most of which are directly selected by Beijing.

In response, Occupy Central is now preparing to follow through on its long-standing threat to stage mass sit-ins in the city’s central business district to demand real democracy. Benny Tai, a key leader of the movement, has declared an “era of civil disobedience” in Hong Kong.

In many ways, Occupy Central seems hardly connected to its symbolic progenitor on the other side of the Pacific. Indeed, the movement is demanding an expansion of precisely the kind of electoral system that Occupy Wall Street condemned for being hopelessly corrupted by money and corporate influence. Students in Hong Kong are working closely with established political parties, and the movement even enjoys support from some individuals from the financial sector.

But underlying these important differences there is a common theme: anger over the inability of anyone except the super wealthy to have a voice in politics.

Long hailed by conservatives in the West as a bastion of free markets and free enterprise, Hong Kong in 2011 had a Gini coefficient of .537—making it perhaps the most unequal developed economy in the world. Hong Kong recently crushed the competition to come in first in The Economist’s “crony-capitalism index.”

Like their counterparts in the US or Europe, Hong Kong graduates face a daunting job market. If they are lucky enough to land a job, they can expect to work gruelingly long hours, all while trying to scrape together enough money to buy a tiny flat in the second most expensive real estate market in the world. A recent study found it costs middle class families an average of USD $700,000 to raise a child. And Hong Kong still has no universal public pension, creating major uncertainty for seniors.

Workers have not fared any better. Hong Kong had no minimum wage until 2010 when, after much resistance from employers, the standard was set at a paltry HKD $28 per hour (approximately USD $3.60). Owing to the continual efforts of powerful employers to derail proposed legislation, there are still no collective bargaining rights in the city. Foreign guest workers from places like the Philippines and Indonesia are frequently subject to brutal working conditions and unchecked physical and sexual assault from their employers. With such a lightly regulated labor market, 20 percent of the population in this economic powerhouse now lives below the poverty line.

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Not surprisingly, big business is just fine with the status quo, and they have lined up behind Beijing. Yiu Kai Pang, chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the recent decision from Beijing, saying that occupying Central “will not only affect Hong Kong’s social order and economic prosperity, but also undermine our position as an international business and financial hub.” HSBC also warned that Occupy could hurt the economy as it downgraded the outlook for the city’s stock market—a warning the company almost immediately retracted after public outrage.

The Communist Party is counting on such enthusiastic support from corporate interests. In a moment of surprising honesty, Wang Zhenmin, Dean of Tsinghua University Law School and a top advisor on Hong Kong to the central government, said that too much democracy would threaten the interests of economic elites as well as the capitalist system of Hong Kong—and suggested that this was to be avoided at all costs.

Occupy Central is not the first movement in Hong Kong to challenge the powerful alliance between big business and the state. Last year, a strike by dockworkers who had not received a raise in fifteen years shut down one of the busiest ports in the world for weeks. The workers drew a wide swath of support from Hong Kong society, and public anger was only heightened by the fact that the wealthiest man in Asia, Li Ka-shing, owns their employing company.

Earlier this year, protestors stormed the legislative council in an attempt to block funding for a proposed development plan for the northeastern New Territories. Villagers likely to be displaced by the project banded together with students to protest what many see as yet another instance of developers getting unparalleled access to government decision makers.

Occupy Central has in part grown out of this restive political milieu. As was the case for Occupy Wall Street, activists in Hong Kong understand that they will need more political democracy in order to get more economic democracy. Democratic elections may not be sufficient to address every problem in Hong Kong, but it will certainly be necessary.

Unfortunately, it appears as if the Communist Party is completely unwilling to compromise on the question of politics. Beijing’s vision for Hong Kong is to follow in the path of other hyper-capitalist authoritarian states such as Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Since many of the problems in Hong Kong—gaping inequality, crony capitalism, astronomical housing prices and an exclusionary political system—are also rampant just across the border in Mainland China, it is not difficult to guess the source of Beijing’s deep anxiety. If Occupy Central presents a major nuisance, the mere intimation of an Occupy Tian’anmen is a horror that must be crushed at all costs.

Let the era of civil disobedience commence.

 

Read Next: What Occupy Central can learn from history

​Prisons, poverty & socialism: An interview with Cecily McMillan



Caleb Maupin is a political analyst from New York City and is an activist with the International Action Center and Workers World Party. He has worked against police brutality and mass incarceration.

Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan (Still from a video uploaded on justiceforcecily.com)

Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan was convicted of assault on a police officer, a felony, in Manhattan Criminal Court in May. She claims the ‘assault’ was merely a startled reaction to a violent sexual assault by Officer Grantley Bovell.

Following the trial,
nine of the 12 jurors who convicted her, urged the judge not to
send McMillan to prison. Huge demonstrations supporting her took
place in New York City and across the country.

On May 19, McMillan was sentenced to three months in prison,
becoming Occupy Wall Street’s most prominent political prisoners.
Accounts of her various court appearances and other exploits have
filled the pages of the New York Times, New York Daily News, New
York Post and the Guardian.

After sitting in the courtroom and observing her trial from the
press section, I had intended to interview McMillan from within
Riker’s Island Correctional Facility, where she served her
sentence. The NYC Department of Corrections was uncooperative,
and despite a date being tentatively scheduled, an interview from
within the prison’s walls did not take place.

It was on a sunny afternoon in August that I was finally able met
up with Cecily McMillan, who is out of jail, though she has
another case pending and could soon return. We sat down on the
back patio of a coffee shop in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood,
where she sat across from me with a nervous smile. She told me of
her journey from graduate school, to a tent in Zuccotti Park, to
one of the most infamous prisons in the United States.

‘No Day is Normal’ on Riker’s Island

I began our conversation by asking what a typical day in prison
at Riker’s Island is like.

“No day is normal.” She said. Then she described how
within the prison there are no real rules or procedures, making
every day a mess of confusion, especially after first arriving.
“You don’t really have any orientation. You have an inmate
handbook that hasn’t been updated since 2007, so nothing is
right.

“It was really psychotic in there. Most people just try to
suspend their belief in an outside world. I decided to actively
hold on to it.”

She described the difficulty she had accessing medication, and
how like all prisoners, each of her days was spent confusedly
waiting for some service or other, not knowing what to expect.

“The biggest off-putting factor is instability, the waiting…
up to eight weeks to see an optometrist, another eight weeks to
get the glasses if you happen to be legally blind. Why won’t they
let your prescription glasses in? It says to in the inmate
handbook.”

McMillan described how seemingly meaningless things suddenly
became very important in the lives of prisoners, as they struggle
to maintain some level of dignity.

“Most people get really obsessed with food. Everyone has
their processes of attempting to remain human. Most people’s
process is food. Food is your only choice in jail.”
She
said. “For me food was sustenance, my choice was exercise.
Running throughout the day. Exercising to release my anxiety.
Most people gain weight, I lost weight.”

Cecily Injustice Streaks (Image from flickr.com / Light Brigading)

McMillan described how prisoners barter with each other for
essential things: “The sugar packets are the first form of
money. You try to save them up in whatever capacity, and you more
or less can buy favors or buy information, trade your sugar
packets for beans, coffee or whatever.”

She described how the women in the Rose M. Singer Center where
she was held within the Riker’s Facility looked after each other.

“The women in there provide humanity to the inhumanity that
is every day.”
She spoke of playing cards late into the
night with her cellmates, who guided her navigating what she
calls “the controlled chaos.”

In addition to the confusion, McMillan described the very harsh
treatment the prisoners are subjected to. She confirmed that
people are routinely sprayed in the face with mace.

“I witnessed the pulling out of pepper spray weekly. I saw
people being pepper sprayed… If you are any part maladjusted, you
get pepper sprayed, thrown in the bing [solitary confinement]…
and that is protocol.”
She reported that being pepper
sprayed in the face and sent to solitary confinement is a routine
punishment for seemingly trivial offenses, such as “raising
your voice, refusing to stop raising your voice.”

She described the degrading strip searches she wrote about in the
New York Times, claiming that since her release this particular
form of degrading treatment has become worse.

“There are up to five searches in two weeks. All these
exposés are not helping.”
She also spoke of how in every
aspect of prisoners’ lives they are humiliated and made to feel
subhuman. She described being frequently cursed at, in one
instance called a “smug a– white b—-“ by a
Corrections Officer.

“I got remmed [sic] my first week or two there for standing
with my hands on my hips, as a sign of disrespect. It’s a power
sign.”
She said her social background made prison life
especially difficult for her. “I did not know how to be
subservient. Who I was came off as backhanded disrespect. I got
rushed and slammed against the wall by a CO [corrections officer]
for being polite.”

She said that many of the inmates assumed she was wealthy because
she was white: “People don’t seem to know that poor white
people exist, but that’s where I grew up.”
McMillan spent
much of her childhood living in a trailer park in Texas with her
mother. Her brother, who struggled with substance abuse, has also
been locked up.

“Riker’s is a third world. It is a state within a state. The
people inside are stateless people.”
McMillan went on to
describe how the prisons, with over 2.5 million people currently
inside, are absorbing the growing number of people who seem to no
longer have any other place in US society. “If you don’t have
money to buy things, you lose your value as a citizen, you get
put in prison.”

The future of the 99%

McMillan said that while she was locked up, she thought a lot
about the Occupy Wall Street movement, and what is next.

“One the big problems with Occupy Wall Street was that it was
primarily white, upper-middle class, educated people. I was
always talking about how we are not the 99 percent….really only
10 percent, maybe 13 percent.”

She reflected on the growing economic crisis in the United
States, and how it is linked growing rate of imprisonment:
“All of our jobs have been outsourced. There’s not really a
middle class anymore.

“Who is being put in prison? It’s the poor people who are not
citizens anymore because they cannot consume.” S
he said.
“What does that say about all the kids with student debt, who
can’t find jobs, and are fighting over Starbucks managerial
positions? Does that mean that we are going to go to prison
sometime soon?”

New York Police Department officers push back people as demonstrators with 'Occupy Wall Street' mark the two month anniversary of the protest November 17, 2011 in New York. (AFP Photo / Stan Honda)

McMillan says the hypocrisy of the United States regarding issues
like protest and free speech should be apparent to everyone:
“The United States can be like ‘We love Pussy Riot,’ but then
squash Occupy.”

She’s a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, an
organization formed in the 1980s that includes prominent
left-wing academics like Cornel West and Gloria Steinem. Though
she no longer holds an official position within the organization,
McMillan maintains an essentially Marxist outlook. She described
a long-term perspective for the growing protest movement in the
United States.

“I think we need to begin building toward a social movement
that is as inclusive of as many different classes and cultures,
races, and genders, at the outset, to address the problems we
have now.”

While she foresees some kind of eventual revolutionary change,
she emphasized that she believes a massive armed revolt or civil
war is highly unlikely to occur: “I just don’t see violent
revolution or guerrilla warfare.

“We at least have to get to the same level as the rest of the
West from a conversational standpoint. I think we need universal
healthcare. I think we need to address our medieval prison
industrial complex. From there I would like to see Communism,
Socialism… a collapse of any sort of established centralized
body, less want and need. Anarcho-Syndicalism.”

McMillan says her hero is civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, and
she shares his admiration for Western European social-democracy,
pacifism, and gradual transformation of society.

“If we don’t even get to a process of democratic socialism,
then there is no hope for changing this country. If we as a
society cannot reach that ideal, it’s a lost cause.”

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

New play recalls the Occupy Movement in Redlands



REDLANDS When the Occupy Movement made its way to Redlands in fall 2011, Phill Courtney took notice.

And in a new play, “Our Town’s Occupy,” that is set to debut at Redlands United Church of Christ Friday night, Courtney talks about the movement’s origins and its future.

“It is basically a docudrama that blends news clippings, YouTube videos and my experiences in one,” Courtney said Friday about the production that will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday at the church at 168 Bellevue Ave. “There’s humor — quite a bit of humor — but some serious and heavy stuff as well. It’s educational, too, and fills in some gaps about what Occupy was all about and why people stood around in the park on cold winter nights.”

“Our Town’s Occupy” is set in a fictional town based on Redlands and features a cast of actors from the area. Some of the actors featured were part of the movement, while others are not, Courtney said.

Courtney was one of the many who met weekly at the park to discuss whether the government leadership was being purchased, and was part of a protest that happened in downtown in October 2011 that saw close to 100 join in to let the “1 percent” know they weren’t going to take it anymore.

The march was part of the Global Day of Action rally, which coincided with the Occupy Wall Street movement that began Sept. 17 in New York City.

In New York, protestors had been manning the streets for weeks to express their displeasure with how much political influence they said the top 1 percent of the country’s wealthy had. The 99 percent, which is what Occupiers called themselves, were not experiencing “good times,” as they were having to deal with job loss, high student loan debt and limited job opportunities.

The local protest saw the lively crowd walking through a pre-mapped route starting from Fifth Street in downtown Redlands past several banks before moving out to the Redlands Boulevard and Orange Street intersection to have their voices heard by motorists driving by — “Banks got bailed out; we got sold out.”

Two previews of Courtney’s play were held in August at Katz Alley in downtown and received praise from those who saw it, he said.

He is hoping to hear a similar reaction this weekend.

“I am looking to have the question that a lot of people ask answered, and that is ‘Where do we go from here?’” Courtney said. “I want to give people hope that there is a possibility for change and growth in a time of great cynicism of politics.”

Admission to “Our Town’s Occupy” is free and features music and songs performed by Third Stream Crossing. The production includes a cast of nine, including Courtney and actors Alex Bueermann, Charletta Campfield, Ande Spencer and Dick Morris.

Reservations are encouraged as space is limited.

To learn more or to make reservations, visit 909-798-1451.

Billy Bragg still talking politics on the eve of two-night stand at City Winery

British folkie Billy Bragg -- as you're likely to see him Wednesday and Thursday at City Winery. The singer often spends a lot of time talking to his audience about social issues in between the songs. /Theo Michael
British folkie Billy Bragg — as you’re likely to see him Wednesday and Thursday at City Winery. The singer often spends a lot of time talking to his audience about social issues in between the songs.
British folkie Billy Bragg -- as you're likely to see him Wednesday and Thursday at City Winery. The singer often spends a lot of time talking to his audience about social issues in between the songs. /Theo Michael
British folkie Billy Bragg — as you’re likely to see him Wednesday and Thursday at City Winery. The singer often spends a lot of time talking to his audience about social issues in between the songs.
  • British folkie Billy Bragg -- as you're likely to see him Wednesday and Thursday at City Winery. The singer often spends a lot of time talking to his audience about social issues in between the songs.
  • British folkie Billy Bragg -- as you're likely to see him Wednesday and Thursday at City Winery. The singer often spends a lot of time talking to his audience about social issues in between the songs.

Enlarge

He’s still mixing pop and politics.

Nearly 30 years after he put out three perfect pop-folk-protest albums in a row, Billy Bragg remains the leading voice for social justice — one backed up with a great hook, bridge and chorus.

“The key to a good protest song,” says the British folkie who has written plenty, “is to have enough protest and enough song. You have to have the message, sure, but you also have to keep (the people) humming.”

Bragg promises to do just that during a two-night stand next week at City Winery, where he’ll mix songs from his classic albums — “Talking with the Taxman About Poetry” (1986), “Back to Basics” (1987) and “Workers Playtime” (1988) — with tracks from his most recent album, “Tooth and Nail.”

And, of course, there will be plenty of Woody Guthrie — the archetypal folkie with the machine that kills fascists. Bragg, backed by Wilco, spent must of the last 15 years serving as Guthrie’s personal Alan Lomax, teasing out three full LPs out of old unpublished lyrics handed to him by the late singer’s daughter.

Bragg’s recording schedule has slowed of late, but not his itinerary. There’s Billy Bragg singing at an Occupy rally. There’s Bragg singing for Scottish independence. And, last week, there was Bragg at an impromptu food drive/concert to benefit struggling families in Ferguson, Mo.

“Songs don’t change the world — I wish it worked like that, but it doesn’t,” he says. “But songs can bring people together around an issue, like Ferguson or Occupy Wall Street. When you go to a gig and everyone around you is singing along to ‘There’s Power in a Union,’ you think, ‘Wow, other people care about this, not just me.’”

Cynics would say that group singalongs and protest songs went out with the 1960s — but Bragg has a different take: cynicism — not capitalism or conservatives — is the enemy no matter which side you’re on, boys.

“The only real antidote to cynicism is activism,” he says. “Think about the Occupy Wall Street movement. It was so easily dismissed, but it reinforced people’s sense of community. We did it with song. The other side does it by owning a news channel. Fox News has its own singers letting people on that side of the issue say, ‘Yeah, that’s how I feel.’

“Besides, the point of Occupy Wall Street was to call out the bankers for creating the problem. And it worked. At least now, people ask questions when someone proposes loosening financial regulations. Besides, if Occupy Wall Street didn’t do anything, why is Bill de Blasio mayor of New York? Obviously the movement stirred up enough mud to make it possible to elect someone left of center.”

Bragg will do acoustic and electric numbers.Pete Dunwell Bragg will do acoustic and electric numbers.

Yes, Billy Bragg talks a lot about politics. But so is everyone these days, thanks to social media, blogging, or even making movies, which used to be prohibitively expensive.

“Yeah, music is no longer the only social medium for young people,” Bragg says, recalling his earliest days of busking in the 1980s before he landed his own record deal. “I only had music. If you were someone with something to say, you formed a band and gigged.”

And he still is. Bragg says his solo two-night stand will be familiar to fans, but there will be plenty of twists. A few nights before coming to New York, he’ll be at Chicago’s Riot Festival, which favors metal.

“I may still be playing loud because of Riot Fest,” he says. “I do a good one-man Clash.”

And the second night coincides with the referendum on Scottish independence, which Bragg supports.

“I may be dashing off the stage every few minutes to check the returns,” he says.

On either night, Bragg may be coaxed out to perform the entirety of his first EP, “Life’s a Riot with Spy vs. Spy.”

“It’s only 17 minutes, so if I get the wind in my sails, I’ll do it,” he says. “I listen to the audience. If they’re rowdy, I’ll do more electric.”

Billy Bragg at City Winery, 155 Varick St. at Vandam St., (212) 608-0555, Sept. 17-18, 8 p.m.

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Updated: Republican govs group seeks to link Mary Burke, Occupy Wall Street



Madison — A new attack ad seeks to link Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke with the liberal Occupy Wall Street protesters.

The ad by the Republican Governors Association points to votes Burke took on the Madison School Board to raise property taxes.

“Liberal Mary Burke said she supports the values of Occupy Wall Street protesters, like higher taxes,” a woman says in the ad. “Maybe that’s why Mary Burke voted to raise property taxes on Madison families.

In support of the ad, the RGA points to a February 2012 article in the Wisconsin State Journal in which Burke says she supports Occupy Wall Street values such as having lower income tax rates for the poor than for the rich and reducing the influence of corporations on government.

Burke’s campaign said the RGA just wanted to distract voters from Walker’s record.

“Under Governor Walker, Wisconsin is dead last in the Midwest in private sector job creation, has a ballooning $1.8 billion budget shortfall, and has an economy that is lagging. Out of state special interests will try to distract Wisconsin voters from Governor Walker’s record but the polls show they aren’t buying it,” Burke spokeswoman Stephanie Wilson said. 

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Women seen leading governor’s races in Massachusetts, Rhode Island

By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) – Voters in five Eastern U.S. states faced primary election choices on Tuesday, with Democrats in Massachusetts and Rhode Island picking among candidates who could include each state’s first elected woman governor while New Hampshire and Delaware decided on Republicans to challenge Democratic incumbents in the U.S. Senate.

Polls prior to the start of voting showed Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Rhode Island state Treasurer Gina Raimondo leading competitive fields to win the Democratic nomination to run as governor.

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Amy Perlack, 28, who works in the healthcare field, said she had just voted for Coakley.

“I like that she is a female candidate so there is some allegiance there,” Perlack said.

Coakley’s top primary rival is state Treasurer Steve Grossman, with Republican businessman Charlie Baker seen leading his party’s field.

In Rhode Island, Raimondo has a narrower lead in polls over Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, with the top Republican candidates being Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and software executive Ken Block.

Some Massachusetts Democrats are wary about Coakley’s chances in the general election, following her stunning 2010 loss to Scott Brown in an off-cycle race to fill the U.S. Senate seat made available by the death of Edward M. Kennedy, but Perlack said she was confidence Coakley had learned from that experience.

“She may have taken it for granted that in a heavily Democratic state, people would just come out,” Perlack said. “This time she is campaigning full force.”

Coakley would be the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts but the second to hold the office. Republican Jane Swift became acting governor in 2001 when Paul Cellucci resigned to take a post as U.S. ambassador to Canada.

Brown also is on the ballot on Tuesday but in neighboring New Hampshire, where he is in a three-way primary to win the Republican nomination to run for U.S. Senate, seeking to unseat Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen.

New Hampshire voters also face a choice between Republican businessman Walt Havenstein and Tea Party activist Andrew Hemingway to take on Governor Maggie Hassan.

In Delaware, businessmen Carl Smink and Kevin Wade are competing for the Republican nomination to take on Democratic U.S. Senator Chris Coons in November.

In New York, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo faces a long-shot primary challenge in left-leaning political neophyte Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor and former Occupy Wall Street activist.

Cuomo has done his best to ignore his primary rival.

“Experience matters,” he said in a campaign appearance on Monday.

Polls are due to close at 7 p.m. ET (2300 GMT) in New Hampshire, at 7:30 p.m. ET (2330 GMT) in Delaware, at 8 p.m. (2400 GMT) in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and at 9 p.m. (0100 GMT) in New York.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Grant McCool and Bill Trott)

Hong Kong’s Occupy Central Plans Protest in October

Pro-democracy protesters held up their mobile phones to kick off the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement on Aug. 31.
Reuters

HONG KONG—The Hong Kong protest movement Occupy Central plans to launch a civil-disobedience campaign in early October to protest Beijing’s decision to effectively control who can run for the city’s top post, said a person close to the group.

The group last week had indicated a loss of momentum following the announcement of the Chinese decision on Aug. 31.

The person close to Occupy Central said holding the protest a full month after Beijing’s decision was aimed at giving supporters ample time to “decide for themselves” whether to join the cause in a “coolheaded” fashion. The person said detailed protest plans were still being made.

The person denied that the timing was chosen to coincide with the weeklong holiday around China’s National Day on Oct. 1. That is traditionally one of the biggest shopping weeks of the year in Hong Kong, when a lot of mainlanders visit the city.

The person said the group has purchased 40 mobile toilets and some tents in preparation for the protests.

Student activists said they would also begin boycotting classes starting Sept. 22.

The group said over the weekend that some pro-democracy activists, including Occupy Central organizers, would shave their heads on Tuesday, a move billed as a pledge to nonviolent resistance.

Related Video

Hong Kong residents braved the rain to protest Beijing’s decision to prescreen all future chief executive candidates. “Today may be the darkest day of Hong Kong’s democratic movement,” says Occupy Central’s Benny Tai. WSJ’s Ramy Inocencio reports.

Pro-democracy leaders in Hong Kong suffered a setback in their battle for universal suffrage. The WSJ’s Deborah Kan explains Beijing’s reluctance to give Hong Kong full democracy.

China said in its decision that candidates vying for Hong Kong’s top leadership post in the 2017 elections must be vetted by a nominating committee, whose members have been loyal to Beijing.

Last week,

Chan Kin-man,

a co-founder of Occupy Central, said some of the group’s support was waning and that its goal of securing a representative voting system in the city was “close to failure.”

The comments signaled Beijing’s decision had been a reality check for a movement that has tried to rally a city focused on stability and the bottom line for its businesses.

They followed a heady few months, with marches that on two occasions drew crowds in the hundreds of thousands. But in mid-August, a pro-Beijing countermovement filled the streets with its own march to denounce Occupy Central’s campaign.

However, Mr. Chan said on Monday that support for Occupy Central has grown among some groups, such as those who used to favor a more moderate approach.

“Many people, including professors who were previously against Occupy Central, are now in support of the movement, whether through direct participation or donations,” said Mr. Chan.

Write to Jenny W. Hsu at jenny.hsu@wsj.com and Chester Yung at chester.yung@wsj.com

Republican govs group seeks to link Mary Burke, Occupy Wall Street



Madison — A new attack ad seeks to link Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke with the liberal Occupy Wall Street protesters.

The ad by the Republican Governors Association doesn’t reference any statements of Burke about the Occupy movement, only votes she took on the Madison School Board to raise property taxes.

“Liberal Mary Burke said she supports the values of Occupy Wall Street protesters, like higher taxes,” a woman says in the ad. “Maybe that’s why Mary Burke voted to raise property taxes on Madison families.

Burke’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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