Occupy New Zealand Camps Raided By Authorities After Court Ruling

23 01 2012

from The Huffington Post

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Authorities have effectively shut down the Occupy movement in New Zealand’s largest city after more than 100 days of protest.

Auckland Council officers and police Monday confiscated cars, tents and camping gear from more than 50 protesters at four sites in Auckland. The raid came after a local court ruled authorities could remove property from people who were illegally camping.

Police arrested three people in Aotea Square during the raids.

Occupy encampments remain in other New Zealand cities. Protesters in this country joined the movement that began last September in New York as a protest against social and financial inequality.

Auckland Council spokesman Glyn Walters said protesters can return to the sites but are no longer allowed to camp there.





Some US legislators abandon anti-piracy bills

19 01 2012

from Al Jazeera

At least six members of Congress switch sides as protests against the legislation blanketed the internet.

At least six members of the US Congress have switched sides to oppose anti-piracy legislation as protests blanketed the internet, turning Wikipedia dark and putting black slashes on Google and other sites as if they had been censored.

The legislators, including Senators Marco Rubio, Roy Blunt and John Boozman, said they were withdrawing their support, and blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for not heeding criticisms of the Senate version of the bills.

Friends of the bills, meanwhile, stepped up their efforts on Wednesday.

Creative America, a studio- and union-supported group that fights piracy, launched a television advertising campaign that it said would air in the districts of key legislators. In Times Square, it turned on a digital pro-SOPA and PIPA billboard for the day, in space provided by News Corp, which owns Fox Studios.

The group also said it is sending a team of 20 organisers to big events around the country, including the upcoming Sundance Film Festival, to try to get voters to see the situation their way.

Some volunteer editors of Wikipedia said the protest of anti-piracy legislation could threaten the credibility of their work.

“My main concern is that it puts the organisation in the role of advocacy, and that’s a slippery slope,” said Robert Lawton, a computer consultant and site editor who would prefer that the encyclopaedia stick to being a neutral repository of knowledge.

“Before we know it, we’re blacked out because we want to save the whales.”

During the 24-hour blackout, Wikipedia visitors can only see a black-and-white page which says, “Imagine a world without free knowledge”, with a link to information about the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

The site urges Wikipedia readers in the US to contact their local congressman to vote against the bills. “This is a quite clumsily drafted legislation which is dangerous for an open internet,” Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, said.

Google and others used the black censorship bars to draw attention to what had until recently been an obscure and technical legislative proposal to curb access to overseas websites that traffic in stolen content or counterfeit goods.

‘Don’t censor the web’

Ben Huh, the founder of the popular Cheezburger humour network, said on his Twitter feed that his 58 sites would also observe a blackout on Wednesday.

Search engine Google added a link to a petition against the bills on its site, reading, “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the web!”.

Social media-sharing Reddit launched a 12-hour blackout, starting at 13:00 GMT.

But Dick Costollo, the chief executive of Twitter, said that while he opposed the SOPA legislation, shutting down the service was out of the question.

“Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish,” Costollo tweeted.

The bills pit technology companies such as Google and Facebook against the bill’s supporters, including Hollywood studios and music labels, which say the legislation is needed to protect intellectual property and jobs.

The proposed SOPA legislation aims to crack down on online sales of pirated US movies, music or other goods by forcing internet companies to block access to foreign sites offering material that violates US copyright laws.

US advertising networks could also be required to stop online ads, and search engines would be barred from directly linking to websites found to be distributing pirated goods.

However, supporters argue the bill is unlikely to have an impact on US-based websites.

Google has repeatedly said the bill goes too far and could hurt investment.

Along with other internet companies, it has run advertisements in major newspapers urging Washington legislators to rethink its approach.

The founders of Google, Twitter, Wikipedia, Yahoo! and other internet giants said in an open letter last month the legislation would give the US government “power to censor the web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran”.

“We oppose these bills because there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking American companies to censor the internet,” a Google spokesman said on Tuesday.





Occupy Wall Street West: New Movement Rises In San Francisco

19 01 2012

from The Huffington Post

by Robin Wilkey

For those who assumed the Occupy movement had fizzled out in San Francisco, think again.

This Friday, Occupy Wall Street West — a continuation of Occupy San Francisco — plans to march through San Francisco’s Financial District. According to a the group, more than 55 organizations, including the San Francisco Labor Council, Code Pink, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Rainforest Action Network, will support Friday’s march and attendance is expected to reach into the thousands.

Last Fall, Occupy San Francisco and Occupy Oakland gained national attention when police clashed violently with protesters, raising questions about police brutality. Public support for the movement has wavered in recent months, but activists hope Friday’s event will invigorate its spirit.

“Friday’s march is expected to be the largest Occupy Wall Street march that San Francisco has seen yet,” said Occupy Wall Street West group member Stardust. According to Stardust, the movement has not gone away but has been gathering momentum.

“If you have a centrally organized structure that is pounded, it takes a while to recover,” he told The Huffington Post. “Police and politicians targeted the tent camps. But if they were trying to shut down Occupy Wall Street, they severely miscalculated. Now the movement has moved from out of the camps and into society.”

Since the dismantling of its various tent camps, Occupy Wall Street West has focused on community outreach with food drives, neighborhood meetings, bank shutdowns and a committee to help those in need find affordable housing. “We’ve been working with community groups, neighborhoods and universities,” he said. “The core group has remained but now we’re reaching more and more of the 99 percent.”

Friday’s events are timed to begin with the opening of the stock market and will include a demonstration at the Ninth District of Appeals in San Francisco, a march on the banks, speakers, a flash mob and a street party at Justin Herman Plaza.





‘Occupy Congress’ Protesters Swarm Capitol Hill To Represent The 99 Percent

19 01 2012

from The Huffington Post

by Michael McAuliff

A diverse crowd of hundreds from around the country descended on Capitol Hill Tuesday as the Occupy movement tried to get its point across to a Congress returning from a long recess.

“We came to add to the numbers, to be heard,” said Rosetta Star, a social entrepreneur from Asheville, N.C. “We came to inspire others; we came to inspire our children. We came because we can’t sit still and pretend like nothing is going wrong, when we feel like the collective bus of the country is getting driven off a cliff.”

Star, who with her husband, Jack, runs the restaurant Rosetta’s Kitchen and a compostable packaging firm, Jack’s Boxes, as well as a third business, said she wanted Congress to stop paying the majority of its attention to the most fortunate.

“Our systems are flawed by a for-profit mentality, and therefore the needs of the masses are being ignored for the profits of the few,” said Star, who is managing to make a go of her own entrepreneurial ventures while balancing activism.

“We make a living between hustling for those three different small businesses,” said Star, who traveled to Washington with her four children and one of their friends, as well as her father. “We even make a living enough that we got a hotel when we came to Occupy.”

“Grandpa and the boys camped” though, she added.

Ryan Blackwell, 18, of Columbia, Mo., said he joined up with Occupy D.C. a week before Thanksgiving, much to his parents’ displeasure. “Let’s just say I had to defriend them on Facebook,” he said.

For all his difficulty with his family, Blackwell saw in Tuesday’s gathering a chance for his voice to be heard. “It’s gorgeous,” he said, referring to a crowd that started small, but was well into the hundreds by early afternoon. “We want our rights back.”

Like Star, the teenager pointed to a growing economic disparity in America, but also named as infringements things such as the recent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which codifies indefinite military detention of American terrorism suspects. “It’s evil,” he said.

Roland Fellot, 52, a health inspector from Silver Spring, Md., volunteered to carry a sign calling for the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act, the measure repealed during the Clinton administration that allowed banks and investment houses to unite their businesses. Many blame the measure for allowing banks to get infected with the toxic mortgage assets that sparked the 2008 meltdown.

“The connection to Occupy is that when the backers of removing this actually got their way and they did away with it, that was just a typical example of the top 1 percent, the wealthy, influencing enough politicians here on Capitol Hill to get what they want,” Fellot said.

But he said the message demonstrators want to convey is larger than a bill or two.

“The Occupy movement and the issue about 1 percent is so much beyond just one or two acts. It’s about the whole system,” Fellot said. “The super wealthy have always been heard, and they’ve usually gotten what they wanted. What’s happened of late is they’re the only ones who get heard.”

“Congress has been screwing us for far too long, and I’m not okay with that, and neither are a lot of people,” said Deejay Paredi, 20, of Charlotte, N.C., also singling out the NDAA, which President Obama signed on New Year’s Eve.

“It’s really taking our rights away, and most Americans do not even realize what’s going on,” Paredi said. “So I feel like it’s up to those of us who are aware to make ourselves heard. Most of this I feel is being done on the down-low. Unless you actually care and are actually interested in what’s happening in the government — most people aren’t and don’t care — you don’t know that this is happening.”

The crowd was largely calm, although a handful of people were arrested for apparently testing the limits of the boundaries set by Capitol Police. One man, William Griffin, was charged with assault on a police officer, a police spokeswoman said. Members of the protest tweeted at the time that police instigated the altercation. Nathaniel Schrier, Clinton Boyd and Heron Boyce were charged with crossing a police line, said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider.

Prostesters also walked the halls of Congress without apparent incident, visiting members’ offices, although many lawmakers still had not yet returned to work. By Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of protesters spread out through the halls.

Overall, the protest had much the feel of 2009’s Tea Party rallies, minus the tri-corner hats. There were even a handful of the “Don’t Tread On Me” flags that have become iconic for the conservative movement.

Rosetta Star said the atmosphere did not surprise her. “I believe that the Occupy movement and the Tea Party movement have a huge amount in common,” she said, noting that she has reached out to more traditionally conservative groups in her community on the belief that they share similar problems.

“If we could figure out what we all have in common, then we could truly be the 99 percent,” she said. “The 99 percent right now is a slogan that’s been taken but hasn’t actually been represented. People are trying to, and it’s true that the negative situations are being experienced by the 99 percent.”

Star said she thought moments like Tuesday’s protest would help raise that awareness.

“I believe that we are going to hit a tipping point, and it’s kind of un-ignorable and unavoidable,” she said, with her 3-year-old clambering around on her back. “The tipping point for me would be when 99 percent of the people become politically active, they participate on some level with what’s happening around them in the world that they’re living in, other than just their own families immediate needs.”

One big difference between the Tea Party and the Occupy movement is that the Tea Party was organized in part as a deliberate electoral effort that helped the Republican Party take over the House of Representatives in 2010. It is not clear what impact Occupy will have in the fall’s campaign season, although Democrats have been trying to harness at least some of the energy and feelings expressed by the movement.

Still, Star said that she will keep at it whether others do or not.

“I will always fight the good fight regardless of the expected outcome so that I can always feel clear looking at myself in the mirror, and looking back and reflecting on my own life and my own choices,” she said. “Apathy is the worst poison in my mind.”

Michael McAuliff covers politics and Congress for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.





Activists Gather Over 1 Million Signatures in Walker Recall Effort

17 01 2012

from The National Journal

by Sean Sullivan

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker is virtually certain to face a recall election following an announcement from the state Democratic Party that over a million signatures will be filed on Tuesday afternoon to put the first term governor on the ballot this year.

“The collection of more than one million signatures represents a crystal clear indication of how strong the appetite is to stop the damage and turmoil that Scott Walker has caused Wisconsin,” said Ryan Lawler, board member for United Wisconsin, the group spearheading the signature gathering process.

ust over 540,000 valid signatures are required to trigger a recall election. Activists had 60 days to collect the signatures, during which time they brought in nearly double the requisite amount.

Democrats were quick to tout magnitude of their accomplishment, noting that they collected 3,000 pounds worth of signatures, which fill 300,000 pages at 14″ each.

The signatures are now subject to review by the state Government Accountability Board, which has 60 days to examine the validity of the signatures, though the head of the board has said the process will take longer. Some will no doubt be disqualified, but given the amount collected, Walker — who has already been preparing for a recall campaign by raising money, staffing up and running television ads in the state — will almost certainly face another election, less than two years into his first term.

Several Democratic names have been floated as potential Walker challengers, including Walker’s 2010 opponent, Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee. Other names include former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, state Sen. Jon Erpenbach and retiring Sen. Herb Kohl, among others. A recall election would be ordered within six weeks of the date the petition signatures are validated, but a contested Democratic primary could further push that day back by four weeks.

For his own part, Walker was nowhere near Madison on Tuesday, opting instead to attend a fundraisier in New York.

United Wisconsin collected over 845,000 signatures for the recall Rebecca Kleefisch, the lieutenant governor of Wisconsin.





1/21/12 Occupy Oregon General Assembly

14 01 2012

from Occupy Eugene Media

by vnelson

On Saturday, January 21, 2012, from 5:00 pm to 10 pm, Occupiers from all over Oregon will gather in Salem to rally with representatives from Astoria, Bend, Eugene, Salem, Portland, Seaside, and all other Oregon Cities to prepare for Occupy the Legislature on February 1st.

We will have an agenda discussion, which will include political involvement tactics, non-violent civil disobedience, and logistics.

We will be discussing housing options for people coming from outside of the Salem regions, so we can make sure thousands of Oregonians can be present on the first in a timely fashion.

Inspired by Occupy Wall Street, affinity groups from Unified Oregon Occupations are holding a General Assembly, following the nationwide Occupy the Courts Solidarity demonstration, on the steps of the Capitol Building in Salem.

If we show Solidarity, we can have an action similar to the protests in Madison, Wisconsin.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Wisconsin_protests

Corporations are NOT people. Money is NOT Speech. ALEC and profit driven lobbyists will no longer control our government. The time has come to make these truths evident to the Capital.

Exercise your freedom and challenge systemic oppression. Occupy Multiply!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Occupy-the-Legislature-Oregon/269113373145794?ref=ts&sk=wall





JPMorgan Profit Drops 23 Percent

14 01 2012

from Crooks & Liars

by Diane Sweet

Image by RoguePlanet, Flickr

If you’ve been hammered by our economy, perhaps this can put just a little grin on your face today…

JPMorgan on Friday reported a 23 percent decrease in profits for the last three months of 2011 as a result of big losses in its investment-banking and trading divisions. JPMorgan, the nation’s largest bank by assets, said it earned $3.7 billion, down from $4.8 billion in the same period in the previous year—a decrease of 23 percent. Net income from the bank dropped 52 percent to $726 million, which includes a $567 million drop that occurred from a debit-valuation adjustment. JPMorgan claimed that without those adjustments, there would be $1.1 billion earnings in its banking division. Net income from the bank dropped 40 percent to $302 million in the fourth quarter. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said in a statement that the bank is seeing signs of improvement in loan demand and credit quality.