October 27th, 2011
Archive for October, 2011
October 27th, 2011
Occupy spreads to the suburbs:
Protest finding backers in burbs
Activists strategize to support Occupy
By Jose Martinez
The sign by the front door of Artie Crocker’s Needham home bore a plain message: “I am the 99 percent.’’
At 52, the graphic designer and engineer still lives in the town where he was born and raised. He has two grown daughters, an aging cat, and a growing sense that somehow the America around him is just not right anymore.
Like others in support of Occupy protests on Wall Street and elsewhere around the globe, Crocker feels that America’s richest 1 percent have benefited fabulously in recent years while the other 99 percent have seen their wages and living standards stagnate.
“I saw what was going on on Wall Street and then I heard it was going on in Boston and I said, ‘I just can’t sit here and do nothing. I just can’t do it,’ ’’ Crocker said during a lull in the action at his home Sunday night.
There, crammed on green floral-patterned couches and folding chairs in the small living room were about 30 like-minded men and women from Boston’s suburbs who wanted to help keep the message of the Occupy protest in Boston and all around the nation alive – without having to actually camp out downtown.
The gathering was a pilot meeting, Crocker explained, for an expansion of the downtown-centered protests against big-money influence in politics to the suburbs.
Needham isn’t the only suburb where frustration with economic inequality has taken root.
A newly formed Occupy Salem organization rallied Tuesday afternoon at Riley Plaza in downtown Salem to support Occupy Boston, protest the role that banks played in the 2008 financial crisis, and ensure that regulations are in place to prevent a repeat of the problems.
“We just want to get started and hope people notice,’’ said Sue Kirby, 61, a member of the group. “In Salem we’re not talking about setting up tents yet, but we want to start the dialogue about what banks are doing and what needs to happen to straighten out the situation.’’
Kirby said the group is hoping to work with a similar organization that has been created at Salem State University.
In Needham, Crocker and local community activist Harmony Wu had sent out e-mail invitations and expected only a dozen people to show up.
Instead, they wound up with a standing-room-only event that drew people from Arlington, Belmont, Dedham, Newton, Norwood, Waltham, Weston, Westwood, and elsewhere to a tiny house on a cul-de-sac near Needham High School.
With a marker in each hand and her iPhone on a lanyard around her neck, Wu took questions and jotted suggestions on a note board.
“Who thinks we should meet again?’’ Hands flew up.
“Who wants to take part in one of these visibility actions?’’ More hands.
“Maybe we can put together a LISTSERV to keep us all updated,’’ one man suggested.
“How about a Facebook page?’’ a woman proposed.
“Make sure to sign the e-mail list!’’ Wu urged.
The 40-year-old mother of 8-year-old twins urged the sometimes boisterous crowd to organize letter-writing campaigns, make trips to the tent city in Boston’s Financial District and even pitch tents in their own yards. But most importantly, she said, they had to talk to friends and neighbors who may have written off the mass campouts as showy but unfocused demonstrations.
“The message is not vague. It is actually very precise: The economy is broken and our political system is broken and they are demanding we do something to change it,’’ Wu said. “We are the normals. We are the soccer moms. We are the PTA. Whatever. We’re not weirdos because we live in Needham with the good schools and we pay our taxes. If we are buying in and we can articulate why we are buying into the message, that becomes a powerful movement.’’
Wu and other organizers wondered what will happen when interest in the tent cities wanes not only in the media but among participants with the approach of winter.
“My interest as an organizer in the suburbs is how do we make this last? It’s no longer sexy and seductive to talk about people living in tents because, ‘Omigod, they are getting boring now,’ and, yeah, they’ve been there and they’ve become visual noise, but we still have the problems,’’ Wu said.
“We need to make sure we seize the opportunity,’’ she continued. “There is this huge risk we are just going to just say, ‘Oh, wow, remember that Occupy Movement? That was great. I held a sign.’ And go back to the way things were, right? Let us not squander the opportunity. Just because you are not sleeping outside in a sleeping bag in the cold – and I am not going to do that – that does not mean we don’t have a really, really important role to play.’’
The evening began with a round of introductions over hot cider and chocolate chip cookies and a burst of applause when 24-year-old Philip Anderson spoke.
“I’m Philip Anderson, originally from Westwood but currently residing in a tent in Dewey Square,’’ he said.
Anderson and fellow Occupy Boston organizer Jason Potteiger, 25, of Cambridge, want to see more Occupy-themed meetings in living rooms like Crocker’s. They plan to launch a website soon to help organize the sessions.
“Our point is to decentralize – to get people to stop saying they support Occupy and to start saying they are part of Occupy,’’ Anderson said. “We want them to occupy their own space in an e-format . . . then we can broadcast it so people feel their views are being represented on a global level.’’
Some at the meeting already were helping out the campers, including retired judge Margaret Zaleski, who has spent the last several Fridays cooking in her Newton home then hauling the food downtown to the Occupy camp.
“Last week I cooked pasta with pinto beans and broccoli and four loaves of pumpkin bread,’’ said Zaleski, who served “19 years, three months’’ as a district court judge before her retirement last year.
“I support what they are doing and this [meeting] was great. It affects our democracy. Until we can stop corporations from buying all our congressmen, we will not have a democracy worth having.’’
Betsy Boggia, 46, drove to Needham from nearby Natick with a stack of outreach kits downloaded from the Occupy Boston website. She has a son about to graduate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he has been active in the Occupy campaign there.
“I’m sick of hearing people say this is a vague and unfocused movement. If you look at the websites, you will see the discussion is intellectually rich,’’ Boggia said. “As far as I am concerned, those kids have succeeded already – everyone is talking about it. We are here tonight talking about how to get involved.
“This movement will fail on our backs – not on the backs of the kids down there in the tents.’’
Globe Correspondent Justin A. Rice contributed to this story.
October 27th, 2011
October 27th, 2011
October 24th, 2011
October 23rd, 2011
Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) has issued the following statement in solidarity with the Occupy Movements.
Psychologists for Social Responsibility Supports the Occupy Movements
Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) – an international organization of psychologists and allies promoting social justice, human rights, peace, and environmental sustainability – expresses its strong support for the Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy movements that have spread to hundreds of cities and towns throughout the United States and the world. From a psychological perspective, this broad and growing movement can serve as a source of inspiration, hope, and unity for millions of citizens both angry and despairing about their own personal circumstances and the country’s social and economic future. These occupations have thus far not coalesced around specific demands. That is neither problematic nor cause for concern. They have already succeeded in highlighting the deep problems facing our society and illuminating possible ways to address them.
The protesters stand for the revival and renewed appreciation of genuine democracy. They remind us that democracy is about the active and daily involvement of all in decision-making, not solely voting every four years for leaders who promise to carry out “the people’s will.” They remind us that democracy is about everyone playing a meaningful role in shaping society’s future. They remind us that democracy is about the voices of people without wealth being as strong as those of the most wealthy. And they remind us that genuine democracy is not about corporations and powerbrokers operating unfettered to benefit the few at the expense of the many, as articulated in a recent PsySR statement against “corporate personhood” (seewww.psysr.org/corporate-personhood).
As psychologists, we know that having an active role in shaping one’s life is an essential component of well-being. A major psychological contribution of the Occupy movement is its ability to galvanize the collective energy, creativity, skills, and perspectives of people across the social spectrum, tapping into the powerful renewable resource of genuine communities of collaboration and of resistance. The elements of self-organization that have rapidly emerged empower both individuals and groups and open a way out of social passivity and its psychological consequences, including fear, loneliness, greed, entitlement, psychic numbing, and violence.
The Occupiers have refused to accept the growing inequality that threatens the democracy and social fabric of our country. A newly released Executive Compensation Survey shows that company executives’ pay increased 20% from the prior year and the national ratio for CEO to worker pay was 325 to 1 – despite massive layoffs and scant hiring since the recession officially ended two years ago. Meanwhile, economic inequality in the United States is now at its highest level since at least the 1920s, and possibly ever. Research shows that extreme inequality in society is associated with a more problematic life for all – not just those living in poverty. More unequal societies have higher rates of severe emotional problems, infant mortality, and substance abuse. They also experience higher rates of violent crime, child abuse, and obesity. Relatedly, poverty increases the risk that children will struggle in school and adults will struggle with work, among other problems. These problems are not the fault of people living in poverty but are symptoms of a social structure that prevents citizens from truly altering that reality for tens of millions of Americans and billions around the world.
The Occupiers’ slogan “We are the 99%” indicates their desire and commitment to speak for and appeal to the vast majority who suffer from a political and economic system that is failing to serve the interests of that majority while showering fabulous wealth upon the most affluent 1%. The Occupy movement challenges the prevailing discourse driving economic and political decision-making, a discourse that has insisted on a scarcity of financial resources for those without work, adequate education, access to health care, and safe environmental conditions. It calls for the more equitable distribution of the world’s resources. The Occupy movement also provides an inspiring model of nonviolent action that highlights the problems in our society and provides a model for social change. Occupiers and their supporters have maintained their nonviolent commitment even in the face of provocation from sometimes brutal police officers, recognizing the humanity and commonality of interests shared with the police.
PsySR thus welcomes and supports the Occupy movements. We encourage our members, our professional colleagues, and all citizens to support occupations in all of our communities aimed at challenging a business-as-usual status quo that harms far too many of the nation’s citizens while only a few truly benefit.
For more information and inquiries, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 20, 2011
October 23rd, 2011
In this week of Omar Qaddafi’s final fall as dictator and subsequent murder, Matthew Rothschild, editor of the Progressive, well expresses my complex sentiments:
Qaddafi’s Death: Barbarism and Hypocrisy
By Matthew Rothschild
I never mourn the death of a dictator.
Good riddance to Muammar Qaddafi, who terrorized his people for 42 years.
But neither do I cheer summary executions of anyone, no matter how brutal.
Just as the United States was wrong to rub out an unarmed Osama bin Laden, so, too, the Libyan rebels were wrong to murder the captured Qaddafi.
You can see the rebels parading Qaddafi around still alive.
The answer to barbarism is not more barbarism.
Amnesty International is right to ask for an investigation into Qaddafi’s death.
Nor do I applaud President Obama’s triumphalism.
“Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives,” he said. This may yet prove to be a precedent for future U.S. bombing wars, where a subsequent President will illegally attack another country with impunity, and will get away with it because he hasn’t put ground troops in harm’s way. During this Libya War , the Obama Administration used the lack of a threat to our service members as a justification for not invoking the War Powers Act.
President Obama crowed that the Libya War demonstrates “the strength of American leadership across the world.” Rather, it shows that might makes right.
And the hypocrisy of the U.S. position could hardly be greater. In 2003, the Bush Administration rehabilitated Qaddafi, who became an ally of the United States in the “war on terror.” In fact, the CIA used Qaddafi’s intelligence service to torture detainees that the U.S. sent over to Libya.
The CIA “rendered” eight or nine detainees to Qaddafi’s intelligence service, and sent questions along with for the torturers to ask, according to Human Rights Watch, in an interview with Democracy Now.
The CIA may even have had agents present during some of the questioning.
In 2008, Condoleezza Rice visited Qaddafi in Libya.
The next year, Obama shook his hand, and John McCain offered him arms.
When it was convenient for Washington to support Qaddafi, it did so.
When it was convenient to attack him, it did so.
But the Obama administration didn’t attack Bahrain when it cracked down on people fighting for democracy against that kingdom. No, Washington even let Saudi Arabia, another kingdom, invade Bahrain to help put down the nonviolent uprising.
For the people of Libya, long oppressed by Qaddafi, this is a day of liberation.
But it is no vindication of U.S. policy.Copyright 2011, The Progressive Magazine
October 22nd, 2011
Corporations are people when they get the right to buy elections. But they are not eligible to be sued for murder, rape, or torture, a Federal Appeals Court has ruled. The Roberts Supreme Court agrees to take this up.
October 20th, 2011
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New Lyrics by Lincoln Bergman. Vocals by Anna Bergman.
October 18th, 2011