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Happy anniversary, Occupy!

Today is the one-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, and you know how they’re celebrating? By crowd- sourcing the purchase of sheet cakes from a Queens bakery. (I’m sure they’re being swamped, but if you want to join the celebration, you can contribute $10 (plus tax) or more toward several full-size sheet cakes (feeds 100+, costs $190): 718-417-5700, Catania’s Bakery. Santina is ready to take your orders.)

Since I’ve yet to meet a person in real life who disapproves of OWS, this poll doesn’t surprise me. But I’ll bet it infuriates a lot of politicians!

By a 67 – 23 percent margin, New York City voters agree with the views of the Wall Street protesters and say 87 – 10 percent that it is “okay that they are protesting,” according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Agreeing with the protesters views are Democrats 81 – 11 percent and independent voters 58 – 30 percent, while Republicans disagree 58 – 35 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Even Republicans, however, agree 73 – 23 percent with the protesters right to be there.

New York City voters say 72 – 24 percent, including 52 – 41 percent among Republicans, that if the protesters obey the law, they can stay as long as they wish.

A total of 72 percent of voters say they understand the protesters’ views “very well” or “fairly well,” with 17 percent who say “not too well” and 10 percent who say “not well at all.”

Voters split 46 – 45 percent in their approval of the way police are handling the Wall Street protest, but approve 61 – 33 percent of how the police are doing their job overall.

“It’s a free country. Let them keep on protesting as long as they obey the law, New Yorkers say overwhelmingly,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Critics complain that no one can figure out what the protesters are protesting. But seven out of 10 New Yorkers say they understand and most agree with the anti-Wall Street views of the protesters.

“For a while, the critics focused on the cops’ use of pepper spray at the protests. Voters are divided on how police are handling the protesters, but they say almost 2-to-1 that police are doing a good job overall.”

Asked who is to blame for the current state of the nation’s economy;
37 percent of New York City voters blame the administration of former President George W. Bush;
21 percent blame Wall Street and financial institutions;
18 percent blame Congress;
11 percent blame President Barack Obama.
New York City voters support 61 – 28 percent an extension of the state’s so-called ‘Millionaire’s Tax.’ Even Republicans support the extension 55 – 38 percent.

Voters also support 73 – 19 percent, including 48 – 40 percent among Republicans, tougher government regulation of banks and Wall Street firms.

“New Yorkers, even Republicans, back the Wall Street protesters on at least two things they’re talking about, a get-tough attitude toward banks and Wall Street and continuation of the state’s ‘Millionaire’s Tax,'” Carroll said.


New org devoted to getting corporate money out of politics. Check it out!

‘There is no honor in this’

I’d read about this veteran confronting the NYPD cops, but I didn’t know there was a video:

License to kill in Killadelphia

We have people shot and killed here in Philadelphia so often, residents refer to the city as “Killadelphia.” But every time city officials try to make it even a little bit harder for anti-social types to carry a gun, conservative legislators slap it down. In this case, it’s not just Pennsylvania legislators — it’s the state of Florida, who will give a license to carry to just about anyone with a pulse. The backward-thinking wingnuts of our state house figured it would be a good way to curry favor with the cash-strewing NRA if we simply signed a reciprocal agreement with Florida, thus sandbagging the intent of Philadelphia legislators to control gun crime. Freedom!

Florida permits are attractive because the chances of being approved there are far higher than in Philadelphia.

Last year, for example, 15 percent of Philadelphia’s permit applications were denied. (Nearly 4,400 permits were approved in the city during the same period.)

Florida denied 1 percent.

Philadelphia police said that when they cannot quickly verify an out-of-state license, their commanders have told them to take the permits and guns from the suspects.

That has spurred lawsuits, some of which have been settled for cash awards, and problems of community relations.

Montrell Bolden said he was suing. He said he got his Florida permit after being acquitted of drug charges in 2007.

He says police subsequently detained him in 2009 and confiscated his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson, which he said was worth $800, and never returned it. He said the Florida permit was valid at the time.

Bolden currently is facing new drug-dealing charges but said that should have had no bearing on his suit.

The person who got the biggest settlement is also in part responsible for Philadelphia’s dramatic increase in Florida permits.

Richard Oliver, who runs the Parapet Group security firm, received a $20,000 arbitration award after his 2009 arrest on charges that he was carrying a concealed firearm without a license – a felony. The case was quickly dismissed, but the record of the arrest still has not been expunged.

A memo on the arbitration award, written by the city attorney, said police refused Oliver’s “request for medical treatment and for physician-prescribed medication which he takes for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and edema.”

Oliver said in an interview that he showed police not just his Florida gun permit but also valid permits from New Hampshire and Utah. Police also rejected them, he said.

He had the permits because part of his business has been training people to get out-of-state permits.

Oliver estimated that he had helped 100 to 200 people get Florida licenses during the last five years.

“In Philadelphia, you can’t get a permit to carry if you owe parking tickets,” he said. “You owe the city, you cannot get a permit to carry.”

Ronald Robinson agrees. He also was arrested by Philadelphia police for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, a case that was subsequently dismissed.

“It’s protection. It’s a right,” Robinson said of his license to carry. “I didn’t go though loopholes.”

He said Philadelphia police denied his application for a concealed-weapons permit because of his past conviction for resisting arrest.

Robinson had pleaded guilty to the charge in 1999 in Delaware County and was put on probation for two years.

Police had contended that he was “the type of person who would hurt someone” when they denied his permit, he said.

So, Robinson said, he simply sent an application to Florida, and had no trouble getting his permit there.

Another Florida permit-holder in Philadelphia, Shykeem Leslie, was viewed by police as a midlevel drug dealer, constantly hustling dope and involved in violent crimes.

Before Leslie got his Florida license in January 2009, he had been arrested in three separate felony cases, involving charges of robbery, drug dealing, and aggravated assault. All those cases were dismissed.

In December 2009, Leslie was arrested twice on drug charges in North Philadelphia.

During one of the arrests, police discovered a secret compartment in the console of his car, between the front seats. Hidden there was $3,650 in cash and 100 packets of drugs.

Police also seized his Florida gun permit, for the second time.

Leslie, 24, never had to go to trial.

In the predawn hours of Aug. 18, 2010, he was felled by a hail of gunfire, shot in the chest, shoulder, and arm in the 3200 block of North 27th Street.

He was pronounced dead at Temple University Hospital.

This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters’ mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence, and extremism, the fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.

A national convention?


Isn’t it romantic

Bill Evans Trio:

Scared and angry: Tales of the 99%

At the Occupy St. Pete protest held yesterday in one of Florida’s more liberal cities, almost 400 people turned out to the first Occupy event. They had their stories about why they were there, and what they hoped to accomplish.

Ogini Montaya, a tall skinny guy with a painted face, shook his head. “Yeah, I should have read the fine print,” the 30-year-old electrician said. But when the work dried up along with the housing boom, it seemed like a good idea to go back to school.

Unfortunately for the husband and father of two, he chose a trade school whose counselor a/k/a sales rep assured him any credits earned at the school would transfer to a local college. “I even got it in writing,” he told me, rueful. “They lied to me, dead to my face.

“I got a 3.5 GPA, spent $40,000 in two years. It’s worthless.” He said his wife was now supporting the family, “working 12 hours a day to keep us afloat. I called (Sen.) Bill Nelson’s office and he said, “What do you want me to do about it?”

Austin Mann, 60, has lived in St. Pete for 22 years. “These people who make money getting bailed out by the government when they ran it into the ground – in my business career, if I messed up, I got fired and I certainly didn’t get a bonus,” he said.

He says he used to own a large nursery in Tampa, but the opening of a Home Depot hurt his business. “After Lowe’s opened, too, it was a death knell,” he said.

I spotted Christine Langlois, 59, a nurse in scrubs and carrying a sign proclaiming “Corporate Greed – A sure cure for happiness.” The Bradenton resident said she turned out to show her support for everyone “feeling the pinch of the economy and corporate greed.”

She said she was making the same amount of money she made in 1998 “and I can’t save.”

Langlois left nursing for a more lucrative career in business, but returned to nursing after the economy crashed. “I’d kept up my license. At least I could get a job,” she said. She’s supposed to be a full-time hospital employee, but says last week they called her and told her not to come in for her usual 12-hour shift. “How am I supposed to pay my bills when I don’t know from one week to the next how many hours I’ll work?” she said. “The people at the top are getting all the money, and the 99% aren’t seeing it.”

Another healthcare worker, Jennifer Romanelli, was there because she was “tired of being lied to by the people who are supposed to represent us.” The 28-year-old said she was for the “solidarity” and hoped the Occupy movement could make things mutually beneficial “for everyone, not just those people who are controlling the pursestrings.”

Ricki Bloom, a 29-year-old social worker, was skeptical. “I want to see if we can get some goals,” she said. “I’m wondering if we’re just protesting, or if people will get something done.” Her friend Cat Smith, 28, had more immediate concerns. “I work in a health food store, serving the bourgeoisie,” she said. “I don’t have health care, and I can’t make ends meet. I’m here to support any solutions.”

Another friend, Courtney Rowles, 24, works in a halfway house. “I’m here to check out the scene, see what actions and long-term goals they come up with,” she said.

“It’s a shame it had to wait until the privileged classes had to feel the consequences of what capitalism and Wall Street has always been doing to everyone else.”

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.


Filling in on Virtually Speaking for Dave Dayen, who had to cancel. I’m talking to Culture of Truth, who writes the famous Bobblespeak Translations. You can listen here at 9pm EST. Call in: 646-200-3440.

A win

for a guy who deserves it.

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