Last week there was a small meeting at Mozilla to discuss SOPA, the Internet Censorship Bill. It was eerie. The DC groups were practically screaming, "this bill is the worst we've ever seen and we can't stop it" -- while everyone else had barely heard of it. The consensus? We needed to wake people up.Well, yesterday the Internet woke up. *You* woke the internet up.Check out these numbers and screenshots. To everyone who wrote their rep, made calls, posted to Twitter and Facebooks -- and especially to everyone who ran the modal and blacked out their logos, you are courageous and you made history yesterday. You just took the first step to combine the web's largest sites, its strongest communities, its staunchest defenders and billions of users into and unbeatable force for stopping censorship. The scary part? We still might lose. Though growing fast, our coalition still isn't strong enough. The bill is backed by an unholy alliance of Hollywood, its unions, drug companies, and the Chamber of Commerce. They are pouring money into it, and they've been working on this for years. Yesterday, big players like Tumblr, Mozilla, Reddit, BoingBoing, and even 4chan came out strong on our side. Now it's your turn. We've got to dig in and go viral. Can you add a "Stop Censorship" message to your blog, Tumblr, Facebook, or Youtube pages? Click here for the code.
Last week there was a small meeting at Mozilla to discuss SOPA, the Internet Censorship Bill.
It was eerie. The DC groups were practically screaming, "this bill is the worst we've ever seen and we can't stop it" -- while everyone else had barely heard of it. The consensus? We needed to wake people up.
Well, yesterday the Internet woke up. *You* woke the internet up.
To everyone who wrote their rep, made calls, posted to Twitter and Facebooks -- and especially to everyone who ran the modal and blacked out their logos, you are courageous and you made history yesterday. You just took the first step to combine the web's largest sites, its strongest communities, its staunchest defenders and billions of users into and unbeatable force for stopping censorship.
The scary part? We still might lose. Though growing fast, our coalition still isn't strong enough.
The bill is backed by an unholy alliance of Hollywood, its unions, drug companies, and the Chamber of Commerce. They are pouring money into it, and they've been working on this for years. Yesterday, big players like Tumblr, Mozilla, Reddit, BoingBoing, and even 4chan came out strong on our side. Now it's your turn. We've got to dig in and go viral.
If you ran "Stop Censorship" or the "Contact Congress" splash on your page yesterday, we humbly ask you to keep it running until this bill is dead, and to find more people who can. We understand if you can't, but the bill is just as bad as it was yesterday -- so we've got to ask.
Yesterday was amazing. There will be more, we promise.
Fight for the Future
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Speaking of censorship, here is a Salon article about saving some of the 5,000 books confiscated by the NYPD. (Was confiscating the books censorship? Discuss among yourselves.)
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Edited to highlight CarrieK's comment from below: "Those would be bills: S 968: Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 -A bill to prevent online threats to economic creativity and theft of intellectual property, and for other purposes and H.R. 3261: Stop Online Piracy Act."
You can send your support or opposition to S 968 to your senators and representatives here, and your support or opposition to HR 3261 to your US representative here.
Email from #1 Son at 4:16 this morning (emphasis mine):
From what I can gather from talking to people barricaded off a block from Zuccotti and what I've read since getting home, hundreds and hundreds of cops came and massed around 1 a.m. They moved into the park and physically cut it off from the outside world. They arrested people and then made them stand and watch while they destroyed the encampment and threw all the tents into dumpsters. They tear gassed the kitchen. They trashed the library and threw five thousand books in the garbage. They beat and arrested New York City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez. They attacked peaceful demonstrators with a sound cannon. The cops wore riot gear which would protect them from hypothetical assault, though the only violence and coercion in sight was their own. Afterwards they sawed down trees and brought bulldozers into the park. I've never seen so many cops. I asked one if any crime had been committed and got no answer. I told him that I'd seen no crime committed, that all I'd seen were Americans exercising their First Amendment rights, and he agreed and then kept following orders. They were so confident of the rightness of their cause that they attacked in the dead of night and confined reporters to a press pen.
Yes, Zuccotti Park was messy. Democracy can be messy.
Only a police state (or maybe Denmark or the Netherlands, neither of which is a police state) is completely tidy.
Occupy Berlin, London, Raleigh, Minneapolis, Knoxville, Orlando, Melbourne, Dame Steet (Dublin), Montreal, Vancouver, Beursplein (Netherlands). Iowa City, Des Moines, Seattle, Los Angeles, Riverside (CA), Cedar Falls (IA), Santa Fe, La Crosse (WI), Las Vegas, Occupay Together (San Diego), Fort Lauderdale, Occupy Plaza Mayor (Madrid), Detroit, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, St. Louis. (I got that list of cities at CNN.)
Gee, do you think there might be a groundswell here?
Of course the police moved in and cleared out the protesters in so many cities. Leaving them there was a constant reminder of the failure of Wall Street and Washington and the regulators who were supposed to protect us.
New York (CNN) -- A New York judge issued an order Tuesday morning allowing Occupy Wall Street protesters to return to Zuccotti Park, just hours after scores of police in riot gear ordered them out and tore down their tents...
The order from New York Supreme Court Judge Lucy Billings allows protesters to bring tents and other equipment back into the privately-owned park where the now-global Occupy movement began...
City officials had intended to allow protests to resume at the park, but said they would not allow demonstrators to set up tents or camp. The park will remain closed until officials sort out the legal situation, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said...
The operation to clear the park began around 1 a.m., according to Bloomberg...
Police in riot gear then moved into the park, evicting hundreds of protesters...
Continuing concerns about public health and safety and the impact of the protests on nearby businesses, as well as the rights of others to use the park, prompted city officials to dismantle the camp...
The air was thick with smoke, which some protesters said was from tear gas that officers lobbed. thers said officers took thousands of books from the camp's makeshift library and tossed them in Dumpsters...
CNN could not confirm those accounts, as police kept journalists a block and a half away from the park during the raid. However, CNN was able to obtain footage of piles of clothing, tents and tarps made by police as they cleaned out the park.
Jeremy Baratta, a 32-year-old Army veteran, called the health concerns that authorities cited a pretext.
"It was fairly clean," he said of the park. "No urine or fecal matter. There weren't things strewn about."
Many of the protestors reassembled at Foley Park near City Hall.
It is deja vu back to the 60s all over again. Did the protests of the 60s end the Vietnam war? Did they even cause it to end sooner than it might have? Who knows?
But did those protests change our country? Yes, indeed they did.
Will that happen again? Who knows?
I for one am looking forward to seeing what happens next...
(I am a little disjointed this morning -- can you tell? Between worrying about #1 Son and attempting to write a speech for the county board meeting tonight, all while attending the annual 2-day tax conference, my brain is spread thin...)
E-mail from #1 Son received Sunday night. I think he sent it to a LOT of people.
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To be published in the next issue of my hometown paper in northwest Wisconsin, the ###. Needless to say, any of you would be welcome to join in, especially if you haven't already.
Welcome to the Occupation
Here We Stand, and Here We Fight
I don’t know what took us so long, but we’re finally fighting back.
Average real weekly wages in this country increased every decade from 1830 to 1970, but they have been basically flat for the last two generations. The richest 400 Americans now hold more wealth than the entire poorer half of the population.
President Clinton repealed the Glass-Steagall Act to let Wall Street speculators gamble with taxpayer-insured deposits, and, when their house of cards and derivatives predictably collapsed three years ago and caused a recession, President Bush bailed the banksters out with no justice, no accountability and no strings attached.
None of the banksters went to the guillotine. Shockingly, none of them even went to jail. They answered that undeserved mercy not with gratitude, nor even with a modicum of pretended humility, but rather with arrogance, solipsism and redoubled avarice.
In 2009, when the median household income was $51,000, Goldman Sachs, the investment bank whose staff gave more money to President Obama’s campaign than did those of any other company, and whose alumni were rewarded with key jobs in his administration, paid its employees an average of $595,000. Why do they deserve that much money?
“I’m doing God’s work,” CEO Lloyd Blankfein explained.
Occupy Wall Street grew out of the vast reservoir of popular anger at the slump the banksters brought us. Today, 62% of Americans believe the gap between rich and poor in this country is too large, and 68% believe that Wall Street and its lobbyists have too much power. Righteous rage at the selfish financiers who wrecked our economy for their own profit has become as American as the Superbowl, and the movement born of that fury has given me some beautiful memories over the last month.
I remember that feeling of communal joy and liberation and power two weekends ago when thousands of us took over all three outbound lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge, and I remember the man stuck behind us in his car for hours, sitting back and contentedly reading our newspaper, the Occupied Wall Street Journal.
I remember working the Liberty Park medical table last weekend where it seemed that, for every actual patient who came to us seeking medical attention, at least one supporter showed up with a donation of aspirin or money or bacitracin or Band-Aids or socks for out-of-town marchers sleeping in their boots.
I remember the cheer from the crowd of protesters under the Times Square news ticker yesterday when it ran the up-to-the-minute headline “Occupy Wall Street protesters take Times Square.” I remember the man who climbed a construction scaffolding at that crossroads of the world and lit a sparkler to lead a moving, thousand-throated chorus of “This Little Light of Mine.”
I remember running with a rowdier crowd, streaming the wrong way down the middle of Sixth Avenue and blocking traffic at midnight as cabbies and other drivers smiled, honked and shouted their support. I remember when the police caught up to us, and we sprinted away en masse to try to join up with another outlaw march happening simultaneously in Alphabet City.
I remember hearing something last night whose like I have never heard in a decade of activism in a previously complacent nation: while it wound its way downtown on a Saturday night, that illegal and unpermitted march grew steadily as its members stepped into the restaurants and the nightclubs that they passed to call on people to leave their drinks and their dinners behind and join the movement against the Wall Street crooks. And they did.
There’s something happening here. Waves of political awakening and struggle swept across this country in the 1890s, the 1930s and the 1960s. We are overdue for a popular rebellion against the corporations that have stolen our politics and wrecked our economy, and we are finally bringing the ruckus that should have been brought long ago.
The movement that exploded from Tahrir Square to Times Square and through dozens of cities across this country has yet to unite around any specific demand. I believe that many of those who pretend not to know what we stand for only ask the question of goals because they suspect they won’t like the answer, but to give some idea where we’re going I’ll end with a selection of signs and slogans I’ve seen:
Why are so many out of work when there is so much work to be done? I no longer feel alone in my disappearing faith in the American dream. I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one. We are the 99%. Banks got bailed out; we got sold out. Lost my job, found an occupation. Enough. Tax the rich. End the Fed. Bail out student loans. This is what democracy looks like. Let us build a society based on human needs, not hedge fund profits. The 99% includes cops. I’m 84 and mad as hell. Protect Medicare, not billionaires. Medicare for all. Wall Street has the real weapons of mass destruction. God hates banks. Fox News: misinterpret this. I can’t afford my own politician, so I made this sign. Two parties, one greed. Protesting the fact that I have to protest. Second time I’ve fought for my country, first time I’ve known my enemy. Turn off the TV and join us.
A graduate of Unity High School and New York University, [#1 Son] is in his final year at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and is currently applying to masters degree programs in public health. Appearances to the contrary, he does not intend to go to school forever, and he promises to finally get a real job, as a family doctor, before anyone from his high school graduating class has even one grandchild.
SOURCES, which I compile for my editor's benefit but they're easy to copy and paste for you too:
Weekly wages rose by decade 1830-1970, but not thereafter:
Blankfein's "God's work" quotation was originally the headline of a profile of him by the Times of London that's now behind a Murdoch paywall, but it's referenced all over the web, including at the Wall Street Journal:
Poll results on Americans thinking there's too big a gap between rich and poor and Wall Street has too much power come from Time magazine. They put the numbers at 79% and 86%, but that's only of the 79% subset of those polled who said they were familiar with the protests, so I calculated the real, smaller percentages.
The rest was general knowledge, personal experience and my own opinions.
Oops, I forgot to source the claim that the richest 400 have more than the poorer half of the population. I heard it when Michael Moore said it in a speech in Madison, but the Journal Sentinel fact checked the claim in the sources Moore used and with other experts, and they found that actually, in 2009, the year from which Moore drew his data, the richest 400 have more money than the poorest 60% of the population, worse than he'd claimed, and furthermore that this remained true last year: