Maybe I’m wrong, but the Occupy movement seems to highlight a serious conflict between our right to assemble and petition, and contemporary laws and notions regarding public space. All too often, it seems, these rights can be trumped by the power of landlords and city officials. More here.
What Wall Street thinks about the protesters:
Publicly, bankers say they understand the anger at Wall Street — but believe they are misunderstood by the protesters camped on their doorstep.
But when they speak privately, it is often a different story.
“Most people view it as a ragtag group looking for sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,” said one top hedge fund manager.
“It’s not a middle-class uprising,” adds another veteran bank executive. “It’s fringe groups. It’s people who have the time to do this.”
As the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations have grown and spread to other cities, an open question is: Do the bankers get it? Their different worldview speaks volumes about the wide chasms that have opened over who is to blame for the continuing economic malaise and what is best for the country.
Some on Wall Street viewed the protesters with disdain, and a degree of caution, as hundreds marched through the financial district on Friday. Others say they feel their pain, but are befuddled about what they are supposed to do to ease it. A few even feel personally attacked, and say the Occupy Wall Street protesters who have been in Zuccotti Park for weeks are just bitter about their own economic fate and looking for an easy target. If anything, they say, people should show some gratitude.
“Who do you think pays the taxes?” said one longtime money manager. “Financial services are one of the last things we do in this country and do it well. Let’s embrace it. If you want to keep having jobs outsourced, keep attacking financial services. This is just disgruntled people.”
He added that he was disappointed that members of Congress from New York, especially Senator Charles E. Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, had not come out swinging for an industry that donates heavily to their campaigns. “They need to understand who their constituency is,” he said.
Generally, bankers dismiss the protesters as gullible and unsophisticated. Not many are willing to say this out loud, for fear of drawing public ire — or the masses to their doorsteps. “Anybody who dismisses them publicly is putting a bull’s-eye on their back,” the hedge fund manager said.
In one of the most flagrant recent instances of scientific censorship, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) refused to publish a report chapter unless all mention of climate change and its impact on sea level rise were eliminated. The author — Rice University oceanographer John Anderson, a leading expert on sea level rise with more than 200 publications — refused. As a result, TCEQ killed his chapter in The State of the Bay, a regular publication of the Galveston Bay Estuary Program.
Climate Progress interviewed Anderson along with other Texas scientists who revealed that this is not the first time officials removed references to climate change in a state report. Dr. Wendy Gordon, a scientist who spent 8 years working for the TCEQ and its predecessor agencies, told me she was not surprised by this censorship at all. She related the story of one of her colleagues whose attempt to incorporate climate change into a state water planning report was “eviscerated by the higher-ups.”
Governor Rick “4 Pinocchios” Perry is a proud denier of climate science, as is his appointed head of TCEQ, Bryan Shaw, so it’s no surprise his entire administration walks in lock step. No doubt this is what the country should expect from a Perry presidency. After all, we saw similar climate science censorship the last time an anti-science Texan was in the White House.
What makes this especially tragic is that Texas is one of the states most at risk from unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions — because of its vast low-lying shoreline, its vulnerability to hurricanes, and, of course, its vulnerability to devastating drought and heat wave.blockquote>
These conservatives love playing at being spies and soldiers, don’t they?
The Occupy Wall Street protests have been going on for a month. And it seems the FBI and NYPD have had help tracking protesters’ moves thanks to a conservative computer security expert who gained access to one of the group’s internal mailing lists, and then handed over information on the group’s plans to the authorities as well as corporations targeted by protesters.
Since the Occupy Wall Street protest began on September 17, New York security consultant Thomas Ryan has been waging a campaign to infiltrate and discredit the movement. Ryan says he’s done contract work for the U.S. Army and he brags on his blog that he leads “a team called Black Cell, a team of the most-highly trained and capable physical, threat and cyber security professionals in the world.” But over the past few weeks, he and his computer security buddies have been spending time covertly attending Occupy Wall Street meetings, monitoring organizers’ social media accounts, and hanging out with protesters in Lower Manhattan.
As part of their intelligence-gathering operation, the group gained access to a listserv used by Occupy Wall Street organizers called September17discuss. On September17discuss, organizers hash out tactics and plan events, conduct post-mortems of media appearances, and trade the latest protest gossip. On Friday, Ryan leaked thousands of September17discuss emails to conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who is now using them to try to smear Occupy Wall Street as an anarchist conspiracy to disrupt global markets. What may much more alarming to Occupy Wall Street organizers is that while Ryan was monitoring September17discuss, he was forwarding interesting email threads to contacts at the NYPD and FBI, including special agent Jordan T. Loyd, a member of the FBI’s New York-based cyber security team.
“Follow the puppet!”
The oversize papier-mache likeness of right-wing Sen. Pat Toomey stood tall among hundreds of Occupy Philly sympathizers marching from City Hall to the nearby highrise that houses Toomey’s Philly office. Coordinators shouted again when some marchers veered to the north, away from the destination.
“Follow the puppet!”
This sounded to me like what many working people do when they vote for people like Toomey, who is one of the Congresspeople on the so-called Super Committee that will decide how to cut the federal budget. Toomey used to work for Club For Growth, the job-killing pro-corporate advocacy group.
I shared my thought about the puppet chant with Jacob Russell, 70, a South Philly poet and Occupy Philly volunteer, who replied, “The irony is not lost on me.”