Tag Archives: occupy

A Hotel’s Right to Protect the Privacy of Its Guests

Imagine that you own a small hotel or motel. One weekend, a group booking arrives and checks in. While taking their IDs and license-plate information, you discover that they’re visiting town to attend a political conference the following day. If you’re a conservative, imagine that they’re Tea Partiers or NRA members. If you’re a liberal, think of them as Occupy Wall Street protesters or anti-war activists. Now imagine that an hour, or a day, or two weeks later, a police officer shows up demanding to see all the information you collected from those customers. He has neither a warrant nor any evidence that the guests committed a crime. As a hotel or motel owner, should you be compelled to turn over their information?

The Supreme Court will soon address that question. It agreed this week to hear the case of Patel vs. City of Los Angeles, which touches on two municipal laws. One of the laws “requires hotel and motel operators to collect and record detailed information about their guests in either paper or electronic form. The records must contain: the guest’s name and address; the number of people in the guest’s party; the make, model, and license plate number of the guest’s vehicle if the vehicle will be parked on hotel property; the guest’s date and time of arrival and scheduled date of departure; the room number assigned to the guest; the rate charged and the amount collected for the room; and the method of payment.”

That law is not being challenged, though perhaps it ought to be. Instead, hotel and motel owners are objecting to a related law, which requires them to share all that information with any LAPD officer who requests it. “The city stipulated that this provision authorizes police officers to inspect hotel guest records at any time without consent or a search warrant,” the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals noted in its opinion. “Failure to comply with an officer’s inspection demand is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1000 fine.”

Los Angeles and its police department are plainly violating the Fourth Amendment rights of hotel and motel owners, as the federal appeals court found. Perhaps the Supreme Court will uphold or even broaden the Ninth Circuit decision.

Meanwhile, it is worth stepping back to think through the alarming logic embraced by the City of Los Angeles, the LAPD, a district court, and a dissent in the Ninth Circuit. It begins with the notion that hotel and motel guests have no right to privacy in information that they voluntarily turn over to third parties, per Smith v. Maryland. That precedent is problematic on its own. But it is devastating to privacy when paired with laws that compel business owners to collect detailed information on customers and to turn it over without warrants.

The effect of this logic is that Americans cannot travel without waiving privacy rights to personal details as intimate as where we go, the times we arrive and leave, who stays with us in our room, and how many beds are inside that room. If the state is permitted to seize all that information without probable cause or a warrant, the Fourth Amendment is worthless, at least if the same logic is extended to other businesses. After all, most people can’t function in modern American society without revealing virtually every aspect of their lives to some “third party” or other.

The Supreme Court ought to rule against the City of Los Angeles. But regardless of the outcome, voters should start ousting from office the policymakers who keep expanding a coercive surveillance state, all to spare police officers some paperwork. Without probable cause, the government has no business snooping into these records. And with probable cause, a warrant is but a judge’s signature away.

Protesters Flood Wall Street To Advocate For Climate Reform

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In the wake of the unprecedentedly large People’s Climate March, which drew hundreds of thousands of activists together across the globe for the sake of climate reform, Monday’s Flood Wall Street protest brought the Financial District to a grinding halt over the course of a day-long sit-in. Over 100 people (and one man in a polar bear suit) were eventually arrested, while some were pepper sprayed, as the protestors pushed back against the police barricades blocking them from Wall Street proper.

Intent on upending business as usual, the Flood targeted “corporate polluters” and large financial institutions which they attest have directly contributed to the global climate crisis. “We are here representing the communities who are suffering directly from an exploitative, extractive economy that doesn’t respect people’s dignity, or human, labour, and civil rights,” said Abel Luna of Migrant Justice. “We are here to redefine a just transition, where all communities have equality, access to resources, and also an economy that is good for the people and the planet.”

Monday morning began boisterously as hundreds of blue-clad revelers clogged Battery Park to hear preliminary speeches from author-activists Naomi Klein and Chris Hedges, as well as instruction on how to practice non-violent direct action. The inevitability of incarceration, however brief, was in the air: a representative from the Occupy Wall Street Bail Fund implored protestors to go to their families for bail if they had the means, “so that folks without resources don’t rot in jail.”

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That many participants were so comfortable with mass arrest as a method of protest was a point of discontent for some. “I’m tactically neutral, but I think this is tactically stupid,” one attendee was overheard saying.

Among the throng was Lucy Parks, an aspiring political coordinator from Virginia who dropped out of NYU just weeks ago; this year she would have been a junior in Gallatin. Her requests for an increase in financial aid were not adequately met — she could no longer afford her education. Her impassioned email to President Sexton on the subject, posted online, has been read nearly 96,000 times. “I’m going to decide in the moment whether or not I need to get arrested,” she said. “[Flood Wall Street] is basically Occupy Wall Street trying to be Occupy again. It’ll be a cool show, but it won’t turn into a movement.”

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Demonstrators are determined for Flood Wall Street’s message to continue to resonate through today’s UN climate change summit and beyond. One person definitely on board? None other than Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who announced yesterday that his company will no longer fund the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) because of its stance on climate change.

Kendall Mackey, a DC native and an associate of Energy Action, was eager to show her support on Monday. “I’m here because we’re all pushing for systemic change,” she said. “[Sunday] was a really great day for us to have our voices heard… [Sunday] was the day we spoke out and today is the day we take action. I’ll be in the streets to support all those who are going to be risking arrest, and trying to amplify the message for Wall Street that we need to end capitalism.”

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Photos by the author. 

Edward Snowden Says Occupy Wall Street Was ‘Last Time Civil Disobedience …

Screen shot of published interview on The Nation’s website

The Nation Magazine published an interview with National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, and one of the parts that is most remarkable is his commentary on civil disobedience and the movement that was ignited in 2011 by Occupy Wall Street.

First off, there have been numerous interviews published with Snowden at this point. He appeared in a major television interview with Brian Williams for NBC Nightly News. He was interviewed by journalist and NSA historian James Bamford for a feature story that appeared in Wired Magazine. A documentary directed by Laura Poitras called Citizenfour has opened in select cities and will be opening in a few more cities next weekend. It apparently is so powerful that it has the capacity to change one’s view that Snowden is a traitor.

But this interview conducted by Nation editor-in-chief Katrina vanden Heuvel and Stephen Cohen is different than those interviews in that it seeks to explore his views on politics, government and the role of citizens in society in a manner which complements what many already know about what he did.

“We are a representative democracy. But how did we get there? We got there through direct action. And that’s enshrined in our Constitution and in our values,” Snowden declares.

“We have the right of revolution. Revolution does not always have to be weapons and warfare; it’s also about revolutionary ideas. It’s about the principles that we hold to be representative of the kind of world we want to live in. A given order may at any given time fail to represent those values, even work against those values. I think that’s the dynamic we’re seeing today.”

Snowden adds, “We have these traditional political parties that are less and less responsive to the needs of ordinary people, so people are in search of their own values. If the government or the parties won’t address our needs, we will. It’s about direct action, even civil disobedience.”

Yet, Snowden argues the state can then come in and determine what is “legitimate civil disobedience” and require citizens to follow certain rules.

They put us in “free-speech zones”; they say you can only do it at this time, and in this way, and you can’t interrupt the functioning of the government. They limit the impact that civil disobedience can achieve. We have to remember that civil disobedience must be disobedience if it’s to be effective. If we simply follow the rules that a state imposes upon us when that state is acting contrary to the public interest, we’re not actually improving anything. We’re not changing anything. [emphasis added]

Either vanden Heuvel or Cohen asks him, “When was the last time civil disobedience brought about change?” He answers, “Occupy Wall Street.

Snowden’s answer is met with skepticism (perhaps, surprisingly, given that it is an interview for a left-leaning publication). “Arguably, Occupy was a very important initiative, but it was soon vaporized.”

He replies:

I believe strongly that Occupy Wall Street had such limits because the local authorities were able to enforce, basically in our imaginations, an image of what proper civil disobedience is—one that is simply ineffective. All those people who went out missed work, didn’t get paid. Those were individuals who were already feeling the effects of inequality, so they didn’t have a lot to lose. And then the individuals who were louder, more disruptive and, in many ways, more effective at drawing attention to their concerns were immediately castigated by authorities. They were cordoned off, pepper-sprayed, thrown in jail.

Snowden is asked again whether he thinks Occupy really had an impact. He maintains that it impacted the people’s “consciousness.”

“It was not effective in realizing change,” Snowden argues. “But too often we forget that social and political movements don’t happen overnight. They don’t bring change immediately—you have to build a critical mass of understanding of the issues. But getting inequality out there into the consciousness was important. All these political pundits now talking about the 2014 and 2016 elections are talking about inequality.”

This part is captivating primarily because one of the ways establishment liberals or left-leaning commentators have sought to delegitimize Snowden is by arguing he did not truly engage in an act of civil disobedience because he fled the country.

For example, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry once said, “Heres my beef with Ed Snowden – once you’ve decided to be a defender of those ideals, you have to be prepared to face the consequences. That is the whole point of civil disobedience, to show that you are willing to risk your own freedom, your own body, in order to bring attention to something that needs to be known.”
It misses the reality that Snowden sacrificed quite a bit by disobeying the law and leaving the United States. He had his passport revoked and was trapped in a Moscow airport. It seriously disrupted his life and forced him to begin a new one away from his home country.

Such a viewpoint also distorts and narrows what is civil disobedience in a manner that serves the powerful. The government would have had no problem with Snowden turning himself in to face a trial where he could defend his actions as documents were disclosed and published. However, the trial would have become the story instead of the disclosures. The government would have been able to silence him and prevent him from doing the numerous interviews he has done. And it would have been much easier for the government to stymie the shift in consciousness that has been taking place.

Additionally, there are establishment liberals like Sean Wilentz, who have sought to engage in a kind of McCarthyist investigation where they seek to expose Snowden as a “paranoid libertarian,” who should not be celebrated by people on the left because he seeks to “wound the liberal state.”

That he finds any value in what Occupy Wall Street did should put all this nonsense to rest. In fact, Snowden’s view on the impact of Occupy Wall Street is in the spirit of the great people’s historian, Howard Zinn, who recognized the power of small acts of civil disobedience in changing the world.

Finally, toward the end of the interview Snowden addressed this issue of being cast as this “archlibertarian:”

…As for my personal politics, some people seem to think I’m some kind of archlibertarian, a hyper-conservative. But when it comes to social policies, I believe women have the right to make their own choices, and inequality is a really important issue. As a technologist, I see the trends, and I see that automation inevitably is going to mean fewer and fewer jobs. And if we do not find a way to provide a basic income for people who have no work, or no meaningful work, we’re going to have social unrest that could get people killed. When we have increasing production—year after year after year—some of that needs to be reinvested in society. It doesn’t need to be consistently concentrated in these venture-capital funds and things like that. I’m not a communist, a socialist or a radical. But these issues have to be 
addressed.

It probably will not pacify the shrill brigade of progressive critics, who think their dear leader, President Barack Obama, did not deserve to be the victim of some political stunt to turn people against his presidency. But it shows that, like any person, Snowden is complex individual who understands the value of dissent.

Those who criticize him for his action because he did not reveal information the way they think he should have done it are enabling powerful interests, which seek to suppress movements that challenge the global security state and aim to enrich democratic society.

Acute Economic Inequality Underlies "Occupy Central" Protests in Hong Kong – Truth

TRANSCRIPT:

SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

AP reported that riot police in Hong Kong arrested scores of demonstrators protesting the National People’s Congress 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 that is mostly selected by Beijing.

For the last month, there has been ongoing protest in Hong Kong under the banner Occupy Central. Let’s have a look.

~~~

BENNY TAI, COFOUNDER, OCCUPY CENTRAL HK: Disproportionate force is used to—the violence used to—as against our own people, who are just demonstrating in wanting democratic rights for themselves.

The second demand is that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress should withdraw the decision on the electoral reform, which has blocked the road to genuine universal suffrage.

I am very proud of Hong Kong people that have that strong determination in wanting democracy, even to that extent that they do not fear tear gas and still able to adhere to the nonviolent principle.

~~~

PERIES: Now joining us from Providence, Rhode Island, to discuss the developments in Hong Kong is Eli Friedman. Eli Friedman is assistant professor of international and comparative labor at Cornell University.

Thank you for joining us, Eli.

Eli, what’s the character of Occupy Central, particularly the class nature of the protesters?

ELI FRIEDMAN, ASST. PROF. INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE LABOR, CORNELL UNIV.: At this point it’s very diverse. I think it tends to be associated with more middle-class people, with students. And this has certainly been an important section of the protesters. But what we’ve seen over the past couple of days is that there’s been a diversity of occupations that have emerged around the city. So Occupy Central was originally named because they were going to occupy the Central Business District. But in fact there’s occupations which have taken place both, in Central, in Causeway Bay, which is a major shopping area, but also in the more working-class area called Mong Kok, which is in Kowloon, across the harbor from Hong Kong Island. And that particular occupation, of course, is drawing people from around the neighborhood. So in addition to the students, which have received a lot of coverage in the media, there are more working-class people joining. And there’s also been some involvement of unions, which I think is a very interesting development.

PERIES: And what kind of numbers are showing up to these protests?

FRIEDMAN: You know, it’s very difficult to say, because you see widely varying estimates. On July 1, which has been a day, a typical day of protest in Hong Kong for many years (July 1 marks the day that Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule), there were many tens of thousands [incompr.] probably more than 100,000 protesters. In subsequent occupations it’s varied a lot, but certainly many tens of thousands are protesting at any given time around the city.

PERIES: And so, Eli, Beijing must have known about the potential for this kind of reaction by way of protest of their decision. How are they reacting now?

FRIEDMAN: Yeah. In fact, Occupy Central has been making this threat for a long time now that if Beijing’s ruling on the elections did not meet their standards for what they deem to be real elections, that they were going to engage in mass civil disobedience in the central business district. So this is not at all a surprise to Beijing.

They’re putting Beijing in a very difficult spot. If they crack down too hard, then this is likely to engender, I think, more sympathy from the general public, and certainly more sympathy overseas. And so they don’t want that to happen. On the other hand, if they don’t control the protests, then Hong Kong will continue to be sort of ungovernable. And so this is obviously a major problem for Beijing.

The central government has indicated that they’re not going to back down, that they’re not going to change the decision on the elections in Hong Kong. So it’s unclear what going to happen at this point. But in the meantime, things are certainly deadlocked.

PERIES: So I have seen several reports in AP and in Wall Street Journal interviewing some of the Occupy Central organizers. And they’re certainly making a demand that Beijing reverse their decision. Do you think that’s unlikely?

FRIEDMAN: I mean, they’ve been pretty explicit in Beijing that they’re not going to change their minds. But it’s impossible to tell. I think as these protests persist, as they begin to exact real economic damages in the city, and as they clearly are already having major political consequences for the city, that they may change. And there’s a precedent for this. In 2003, Beijing tried to push through an anti-subversion law in Hong Kong. Once again on July 1 there was massive protest. Hundreds of thousands of people came out. And because of this public mobilization, Beijing actually backed down and they shelved this anti-subversion law. So a lot of people, I think, are pessimistic, and they say well, the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t back down. Well, in fact, if you look at the historical precedent, they have. And so nobody knows how these protests are going to turn out, but it’s certainly a possibility.

PERIES: What’s the nature of the comparison, let’s say, between the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Central? What are some of the economic issues that they’re organizing around?

FRIEDMAN: Well, the obvious similarity, of course, is the tactic, which is occupying public space. I think, in terms of the tactical differences, one thing that’s interesting is Occupy Central—or at this point I think it should be called Occupy Hong Kong, ’cause there’s occupations in so many parts of the city—they’re actually occupying major thoroughfares; they’re causing much more disruption to the functioning of this city than Occupy Wall Street or any of the other Occupy [snip] in the U.S. ever managed. So that’s an important difference.

Another difference, I think, is their attitude towards electoral democracy. And what we saw in Occupy Wall Street is cynicism about the system of electoral democracy here in the U.S., this belief that both political parties are controlled by corporate interests, that most people don’t have any meaningful voice politics, and therefore the system of elections is not really going to be able to resolve that. In Hong Kong it’s actually quite different because they are using a sort of similar tactic, but what they’re trying to do is to win the right to have the kinds of elections that people in Occupy Wall Street are already—don’t really believe in anymore. So that is a major difference.

But a similarity underlying both of these is that, I think, both in the United States and in Hong Kong, and in many other countries around the world, most notably in mainland China, there’s this development where it seems like only very wealthy people can have a voice in politics. And so I think that as inequality has grown more stark in Hong Kong, people feel that more and more acutely. And given that they have economic pressures and they can’t address those because the political system is so tightly controlled by economic elites, I think that’s leading to a real sense of frustration.

PERIES: Right. Let’s get specific here in terms of the economic inequalities. We’re talking about a large number of young people that are unemployed. What are some of the other issues?

FRIEDMAN: Well, first, just in terms of wealth inequality, Hong Kong is perhaps the most unequal developed economy anywhere in the world, and certainly it’s even more unequal than is the case in the United States. So this is a major problem. And, yeah, for young people, they face many problems that people in the West are familiar with, which is a bleak job market. Unemployment is not as severe as it is in some places, say, in Southern Europe, but it is a concern. Even if you are lucky enough to get a job, people in Hong Kong work insane hours, some of the longest hours anywhere in the world. And the cost of living is astronomical. Hong Kong has some of the most expensive real estate, in terms of cost per square foot, anywhere in the world. I saw a recent report which said the only place that was more expensive is Monaco. So Hong Kong is significantly more expensive. Real estate is significantly more expensive there than it would be in, say, New York. So the idea of being able to buy a house, or even to pay rent on decent accommodations, is increasingly difficult. Costs for education and all these things have really gone up quite a lot. And part of the reason that the government hasn’t been able to do anything to address this is that some of the wealthiest and therefore most politically connected people in the city are real estate developers. And, of course, the situation is working out just fine for them, but it’s not for most people.

PERIES: And I understand that some of the business community is also participating in organizing and supporting the demonstrators.

FRIEDMAN: Yeah. You know, it’s been an interesting dynamic. Initially, before things got really dramatic over the past few days, you had a number of business organizations, including the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, come out in opposition to it, very explicitly in opposition to Occupy Central. Some other major accounting firms and banks were sort of threatening and saying, you know, this is going to hurt Hong Kong’s economy and cause disorder, and basically people should just deal with less democracy.

But that’s at the organizational level. And I think if you go out and you sort of look at who’s in the crowd, in addition to students and workers there are a lot of people from sectors that you might not suspect, including from the financial sector. And I recently saw a group that was just started of people who work in finance, who are in support of greater democracy for Hong Kong. So, again, thinking about this comparison to Occupy Wall Street, one of the things that they’ve been able to do in Hong Kong really effectively is to build a broader sort of cross-class alliance to push for expanded democracy.

PERIES: Eli, thanks so much for joining us today.

FRIEDMAN: Thanks very much for having me.

PERIES: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

Sustainability, Organization and Anti-Capitalism: Talkin’ Occupy around the US

I have just finished a six-week book tour, traveling throughout the United States discussing the new global movements and in particular the effect and affect of Occupy Wall Street on the political and organizing culture in the country. I am happy to share that while exhausting, as we were traveling with a one year old, it was also incredibly inspiring. Every location, from North Carolina to Vermont; Massachusetts to Chicago and many points along the way, had exciting stories to share about the local organizing taking place, and how the Occupy movement, either directly or indirectly, informed local forms of organization as well as tactics being used.

My co-author and I began the tour in Charlotte, North Carolina, and during our first discussion in a local living room, we found ourselves with people from many towns and cities in the region, all of whom had been involved in Occupy assemblies in their regions and who were now involved in resisting the Right as well as making more space for alternative forms of politics. For example, a number of young women had taken over their local NOW (National Organization for Women) chapter, and while still using it to defend women’s rights, they also have been organizing for gay marriage and defending immigrant children from deportation. They do this using the assembly form of organization, and direct action when necessary. As one participant described, “Two nights ago, we held a meeting of the local chapter of NOW — hardly an organization that’s been associated (in at least 40 years) with diverse, energetic, creative, radical politics. But because, like other Democratic Party-associated groups, it had basically ceased to exist this meeting was like no NOW meeting I could have imagined. It brought together young Latina immigrant-rights activists; gay-rights activists; feminists of a new, maybe 3rd or 4th wave of feminism; and people whose principal issues are related to race and racism. And it was all perfectly natural (non-competitive; everyone genuinely being not only interested in, but becoming involved in other issues) – Maybe not everyone was aware of it, but it seemed clear to me that this sort of gathering would not have occurred without Occupy and similar new trends of the last 5-6 years.”[1]

In Chapel Hill we met at the university as well as had an assembly discussion in the same location where Occupy had assemblies, and, well, occupied, in front of the local post office. One of the most interesting things to emerge from the conversation there was how the different organizing that has been taking place around Moral Mondays is now connected and coordinated due to the links that were forged during Occupy. People know one another and network together rather than each organizing in their separate spheres or trying to each separately get more attention or “credit” for the organizing. As an Occupy Winston Salem participant stated, “Occupy forged new relationships between new waves of people in various stages of radicalization.  Especially for mid-sized and smaller cities/towns – Occupy – whether through social media or social circles is still THE hub for broadcasting political actions and/or organizing.”[2] In Greensboro and Winston Salem the discussion moved into the direction of how the forms of organizing and decision making were different now, and in each place grounded in the attempts at creating horizontal spaces. Tony from Occupy Winston Salem again reflected, “Regardless of one’s level of endorsement of less hierarchical political movements, the absence of a strict top-down hierarchy/bureaucracy is what allowed for an unleashing of the imagination of everyday people and activists that was sorely lacking in most political organizations, unions, NGOs. While many of these organizations such as unions may not openly admit it- they were highly influenced by many of the prominent tactics in Occupy and use them effectively today.”

People in almost every town and city where there had been an Occupy group spoke of the challenges they found in creating a truly participatory democracy using a forms of consensus that required all but one or two people to come to an agreement before moving forward. Most people were not clear why they had come to use that form of decision making and found it not only unwieldy, as it took so long, but that it alienated people who felt if they could not stay for the entire assembly. In the end, most people described having learned a lot about process and in their various organizing sometimes use modified forms of consensus or experiment with other forms altogether. In each place the focus remained on each person having the space and time to speak and each to hear one another as well as making sure no one had power over another. This seems like a huge step forward in the construction of alternative forms of participatory and direct democracy – that the group itself decides what forms make the most sense for them in their local contexts, rather than taking from an already existing group.

From the South we traveled North, meeting with organizers, students and people who were curious about how to engage in political organizing. Our conversations were both places to reflect on the movements as well as share in current organizing and help people meet one another so as to connect for future projects. One of the reoccurring themes in the North, particularly in Burlington Vermont and Toronto Ontario in Canada was the defense of the land and organizing against the Tar Sands Pipeline. There are many dozens of groups in towns, cities and villages throughout the US using forms of direct action to block the Pipeline, as well as places, such as Toronto, where thousands have pledged to use whatever means necessary to block the current Pipelines future usage. One challenge that emerged here was that in each place, very few, if any, of the local organizers had direct contact or relationships with organizers in other towns. This was an issue to come up repeatedly, as will be discussed. 

In Chicago one of the main points of concrete organizing as related to the form and tactics of Occupy was the defense of housing. A few people who were involved in the housing defense movement shared how they are not only preventing families from being evicted, using assemblies and social gatherings such as BBQs as a way to have discussions, and then direct action to protect the house, but also how they are moving homeless families into empty homes. Out of this discussion reflections on the centrality of race to the issue of housing and who is under attack right now was key.

In almost every space we met people, from assemblies in parks, living rooms, kitchens, and universities the conversations began in a similar way. First, someone would ask what Occupy accomplished, asking the question generally in terms of “success” as understood and measured by the mainstream media or social sciences. In other words, what concretely was “won”. The conversation would then go into what concretely Occupy and related groups had been up to for the past years, from immigrant defense to fast food and retail organizing to climate defense. There would be a sort of quiet and the group would seem to consense that yes, lots was “accomplished”. Then, we would often interject how important the question of dignity is, and that the “changed conversation” is not only about words but how people feel. People around the US often no longer feel it is their fault that they are loosing their homes or jobs – and instead feel a new sense of power – feeling they are the 99%. This is a huge “accomplishment” that once presented people also would readily agree with. From there, and this is what I have found particularly exciting, conversations would move in the direction of what next. Not just how to coordinate locally, but people wanted to talk about organization and structure. How to scale the many movements over – horizontally (as opposed to scaling up). As people and groups realized how much is being done, they wanted to connect to each other more and create more coordinated power from below. And not only was the question of organization and structure central to most all of these conversations, but making the argument that we must be against capitalism was a sort of default logic. While in the past, having organized with Occupy, I felt that there was an implicit anti-capitalism in places and groups, for the most part it was not explicit. Now, people continuing to organize are arguing that the movement must be anti-capitalist and we must coordinate and create structures so as to build the movement even stronger, better, and very fast. This sense of urgency is exciting and bodes well for our collective next steps.

 

[1]John Cox, active in progressive/left/labor causes in NC for much of the last 30 years.

[2] Tony Ndege, Occupy Winston Salem participant and organizer.

Gamergate Roundup: IGN & Occupy Wall Street Comment On GG, Internet …

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Every morning I wake up and forget, just for an instant, that Gamergate is even a thing. It’s consistently been the best part of my day for a week now. Alas, the “movement” is still trucking, so here’s (some of, since it’s churning out faster than we can write it up) what you missed if you’re not on Twitter all day and don’t have to subject yourself to this news on a constant basis.

First off, some weird news: The Occupy Wall Street Twitter has officially come out as a Gamergater, citing the admittedly harsh and terribly-thought out tweets by Gawker’s Sam Biddle as “anti-geek hate speech.” No, really:

It’s worth noting, of course, that the Twitter account no longer belongs to the same people it did when it was first launched in 2011 (which is a problem Occupy Wall Street’s been having for a while with other Twitter accounts linked to the movement—that’s what you get for not picking a leader, I guess) . The person who now occupies @OccupyWallSt, so to speak, is Justine Tunney, a Google employee who claims to have founded the movement herself and who subscribes to the same kind of neoreactionary politics that we’ve been seeing a lot from Gamergate supporters. Que sera sera, I suppose.

In other news, IGN finally released a statement about the controversy, and it’s…well, it’s quite possibly the most milquetoast thing you could write about the controversy. Basically it amounts to “hey, harassment is bad, but also we didn’t want to tell you harassment was bad in case doing so made the harassers think that we noticed them.” Which is where a lot of harassers derive much of their power, by the way—in not being publicly noticed. But I digress. Here’s an excerpt:

In the hopes that we can elevate the way we all talk about games and gamers, we want both to reiterate our commitment to our community guidelines and to strongly advocate for their extension into all our interactions with each other:

  • Don’t assume a motivation behind another person’s actions.
  • Don’t attack a person’s character just because they disagree with you.
  • Don’t intimidate a person just because their ideas are challenging.
  • Don’t threaten anyone with violence.
  • And finally, don’t use one person’s violation of any of these rules to justify your own.

The good news is, if you are breaking these rules, you can stop and find that games will still be just as amazing as ever.

Those guidelines are all solid and commendable, but see that last part? Where it more or less says, “If you are threatening someone with violence, at least you still get to play video games!”  That… might not be what anyone on either side wants to hear out of you, IGN.

Certainly former NFL player Chris Kluwe didn’t go that route in his ridiculously caustic op-ed from the other day—and he’s not backing down, either. In his Reddit AMA yesterday, he spoke out once again about what he sees as the the “irredeemable” toxicity of the Gamergate hashtag. To that end, he has some advice for how Gamergaters who do genuinely want to see positive changes made to games journalism and the industry as a whole should go about doing it:

I think that the majority of you probably want legitimate change, but you’re unwilling to take the steps to make that change because it’s hard work. If you want real change, you need a real movement, with members and leaders that are accountable, and you absolutely cannot continue associating yourselves with a brand that is as toxic as Gamergate has become.

Have a stated goal, a roadmap for achieving that goal, and members and leaders that can be held accountable. Otherwise, you’re doomed.

[The journalistic ethics part of the message] has some [merit], but it needs to be its own thing with clearly stated goals, how to achieve those goals, and a way to hold members and leaders accountable. Otherwise, you’re just another amorphous Internet thing that’ll dissipate in a couple months.

Hey, you know what? That’s really not a bad idea, Gamergate, because right now the people who are clamoring out of the woodwork to speak on your behalf aren’t really that much to write home about. After all, Occupy Wall Street didn’t have a leader, and look how they turned out. How long ago was the last time you’d even thought about OWS before we brought it up four paragraphs ago? Exactly.

Finally, if you need a good laugh after slogging through all of this online turmoil, “actually it’s about ethics in games journalism” has quite literally become its own meme. And best of all, it’s not actually at any one Gamergater’s expense: like #NotAllMen, it pokes fun of the rhetorical device, not necessarily the person who believes in it. With any luck, it should serve to show some of those who’ve used the device in the past how truly ridiculous they sound at times. This one’s my personal favorite, but here’s some other delightful submissions:

Here’s to hoping that one day soon, all of this chaos will be just a blip on a Know Your Meme article that has nothing to do with anything.

(via The Daily Beast,  Salon, image via actuallyethics.tumblr.com)

Previously in Gamergate

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Halloween as class warfare: Dear Prudence column sets rich against poor trick … – The Oregonian

Slate’s Dear Prudence advice column, with its discussion of straightforward, everyday problems, isn’t known for kicking up social-media firestorms. Until now, that is, after a wealthy advice seeker writing to Prudie has shown us that the divide between the one percent and everyone else is even greater than we thought.

The writer, who claims to live in “one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country,” dreads Halloween. Here’s why: “Kids arrive in overflowing cars from less fortunate areas. I feel this is inappropriate. Halloween isn’t a social service or a charity in which I have to buy candy for less fortunate children.”

The question for Prudence: “Should Halloween be a neighborhood activity, or is it legitimately a free-for-all in which people hunt down the best candy grounds for their kids?”

The response on social media has been dramatic and visceral. “Seriously, what’s wrong with people??” one person wrote on Facebook. Another called the advice seeker a “horrible disgrace of a woman.”

Could this person writing to Prudie be for real? Are there actually people like this in the world? It’s so out there that it feels like an election stunt.

For her part, Slate’s Prudie — actually, she’s Emily Yoffee — responds with force. “Your whine makes me kind of wish that people from the actual poor side of town come this year not with scary costumes but with real pitchforks,” she writes. “Stop being callous and miserly and go to Costco, you cheapskate, and get enough candy to fill the bags of the kids who come one day a year to marvel at how the 1 percent live.”

Prudie has certainly hit upon a hot-button issue, one that first burst into the public consciousness with the Occupy Wall Street movement. For many readers of the advice column, this one wealthy Halloween miser represents rising income inequality in this country, which is at its highest level since the Great Depression. The Occupy movement has settled down over the past year or so, but its issue hasn’t gone away. The Atlantic has just asked, “Does inequality cause crime?” The answer is yes, the magazine writes, and more so than ever because the wealthy are “flaunting their riches” more than ever.

Forbes gets even starker, insisting that Ebola is “inequality’s new gift.” This argument, believe it or not, actually relates to the Prudence column. Forbes’ Erik Sherman argues that the Ebola crisis got out of control in Africa as a result of the West’s indifference: “Because one of the underlying causes of income inequality is a lack of empathy.”

So Prudence, with a column that hits us right in the gut, has kicked the debate about income inequality into the spotlight. It might be too late in the game for inequality to be a key issue in next month’s midterm election, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if all of the potential 2016 presidential candidates suddenly decide to become regular readers of Dear Prudence.

– Douglas Perry

Wall Street Lawyer Arrested For Talking To Occupy Wall Street Protesters Sues …

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(Stephen Kass/Newsweek)

A 74-year-old environmental lawyer filed a federal lawsuit against the city for his wrongful arrest while conversing with Occupy Wall Street protesters last year.

The suit alleges that Stephen Kass, a partner at Carter Ledyard Milburn LLP, paused on his way to the subway to talk with protesters assembling behind a police barricade for the second anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests last September. His interaction with the protesters was brief—he stopped only to ask about a sign that read “Tax the Rich,” and described the conversation as “pleasant and non-confrontational.”

An officer asked him to move along, but Kass responded that he had a right to pause to chat with the protester, and was not blocking the sidewalk or obstructing police activities in any way. Nevertheless, two cops cuffed Kass, searched him, and brought him to a precinct station house, where he was given a summons for disorderly conduct. His case was dismissed on January 8th after the arresting officers neglected to show up at court.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a police department official said Kass was “issued a summons in lieu of arrest” after he was asked to move “at which time he became irate and stated, ‘No, I am not moving.’” Andrew Celli, whose firm is representing Kass, called that assertion “absurd.”

“He was handcuffed, detained for over 90 minutes, transported to the precinct, and required to appear in court several times. It was an arrest and a prosecution. If their lawyers argued in court that it wasn’t, they would be sanctioned,” he said. “Seriously.”

Regarding his arrest, Kass told Newsweek that he didn’t find his actions “the slightest bit unusual.”

“I thought I was being a reasonable, responsible citizen,” he said. “I was actually trying to find out what it was they were advocating.”

Celli said one of the goals of the lawsuit is to educate officers about protesters’ rights, in addition to the rights of those who might choose to interact with them.

“Unfortunately, cases like this arise with depressing regularity,” he told Newsweek. “It seems that in New York, sometimes police don’t understand that sidewalks and public spaces are for more than transportation, but are places where people engage. When they don’t understand that, people get arrested, and that’s what happened to Stephen Kass.”’

Occupy Wall Street/Ferguson Thug Arrested for Beating Jewish Man at Anti …

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Not too surprising. No Hate Crime here. Just Leftist Anti-Semitism. And we’re never supposed to talk about that.

Leonard Petlakh, the 42-year-old executive director of the Kings Bay Y, was attacked by a pro-Palestinian protester as he left a Nets basketball game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on October 7.

Several pro-Palestinian groups picketed the game against Israeli champions Maccabi Tel Aviv because it was a fundraiser for the Israel Defense Forces.

Petlakh said that as he left the arena with his sons, aged 10 and 14, his way was blocked by protesters yelling “Free Palestine” and “Your people are murderers.”

At that point, one of the protesters — allegedly Shawn Shraeder  — punched him, resulting in a broken nose and a cut above the eye, requiring eight stitches.

Shawn Schraeder, 25, was taken into custody in St. Louis, Missouri on Thursday. He was brought back to Brooklyn, where he is now awaiting arraignment. He is not being charged with a hate crime as police do not believe bias was a motive, ABC reported.

Shawn Schrader is an activist with Occupy Wall Street who goes by a number of different names including Shawn Carrié. Shawn had cashed in during the OWS heday by claiming to have been the victim of police brutality.

The city will pay out an $82,500 settlement to an Occupy Wall Street activist who claims police beat him up and arrested him three times – the last instance booking him on a years-old public urination warrant for someone else, the Daily News has learned.

Shawn Schrader, 24, said the beatdowns left him with a bleeding ear, a hurt thumb and nightmares about cops.

“I settled my lawsuit because the police lawyers made it clear they would fight me tooth and nail on every claim,” Schrader told The News. All charges against Schrader stemming from the three arrests were dropped.

Poor baby. His Twitter account shows that Schader/Carrie had recently headed to Ferguson to participate in the ugliness there. In an attempt to make money off OWS, he tried to describe Tweeting about OWS as his “full-time job”. (He raised zero dollars.)

His Facebook account is filled with deranged rants about America and Israel.

Carrie/Schader is a fairly typical activist parasite with a New School background. There are lots of rants about “white people” and poses next to graffiti while wearing a Keffiyah. Typical portrait of a bourgeois as revolutionary stuff.

The disturbing thing is how such fake revolutionary poses can mask the privilege of leftist activists and serve as a license for racism.

Shawn Schraeder/Shawn Carrie serves as another reminder that privileged leftist activists like him are allowed to act out their hatred and are then shielded from its consequences.

Carrie/Schader chose to attack Jews as part of a group yelling about “You people” and he will get off with a slap on the wrist and without being charged with a hate crime. After milking the system on “police brutality” charges, he went on to engage in a vicious assault on a Jewish man. And the same left that fundraised for him before will do it again.

That’s the reality of things in De Blasio Time.

 

Russell Brand occupies Wall Street: ‘I’m dedicated and devoted to change’ – video

Actor and comedian Russell Brand meets Occupy Wall Street protesters on Tuesday at Zuccotti Park, in New York City’s financial district, where the movement began three years ago. Brand is in the city promoting his new book
Revolution. Led by the celebrity, activists and curious people marched to Wall Street. An admitted ‘show off’, Brand said the profit from his book is going to be spent ‘creating social enterprises that are not for profit and represent people’


John Lydon on Russell Brand: ‘idiotic’ – video