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March 17, 2012: Harbinger of the American Spring?

11:38 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

NYC Cop Riot - March 17, 2012

I got back from a St. Patrick’s Day Party and started watching the live stream of the police riot in New York City, as they cracked down on the six-month anniversary celebration of Occupy Wall Street.  I was watching people walking, singing, dancing and generally being civil, if loud, when the cops started rioting.

I’ve been in NYC on St. Patrick’s Day.  I’ve watched the parade stream by from grassy knolls in southeast Central Park. I watched the parade proudly march by just a short time before September 11th, 2001.  Hundreds of the cops and firefighters in that parade died that September day.

I’ve also watched the partying crowds drift away from that parade.  Hundreds and hundreds of young drunks, yelling at people,  breaking windows and pissing into trash cans over-filled with liquor bottles.

When the cops intervened in those scenes, they didn’t fucking go breaking heads through bank windows.  They cajoled, elbowed or cuffed people, with an equal combination of firmness and professionalism.

That seems to largely be gone in the NYPD of 2012.  And the way they came down hard this evening indicates that they are preparing to try to stifle the re-emergence of OWS in the rapidly warming weather. Read the rest of this entry →

Why is This Guy Happy?

1:01 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

He’s happy because the people getting all this money are going to send him some of it for his election campaign, so they can get even more:

Real wages fell in 2011, despite record corporate profits. “There’s never been a postwar era in which unemployment has been this high for this long,” explained labor economist Gary Burtless. “Workers are in a very weak bargaining position.”

Between 2009 and 2011, 88 percent of national income growth went to corporate profits, while just 1 percent went to wages, a stat that is “historically unprecedented.”

So, we, the 99% got 1%, and the 1% got 88% of Obama’s economic boom.

Is there any indication this is going to change anytime soon?

Occupy Fisheries – A Positive Move Offshore

2:13 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

"Welding Fishheads in AK - Redo" 2003

I. The Occupy Movement is mostly an urban action so far.  That will change markedly come spring.  And the 1% are doing everything they can to pre-empt this.  One example is the growing move, pushed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to criminalize documentation of egregious practices at giant feedlot farms, slaughter houses, and – by extension – most kinds of 1%-owned agribusiness.  Ag Gag laws are being proposed around the country, most recently in Utah:

Utah is the latest state considering Ag Gag legislation that would make it illegal to take photos or videos on farms without the owners’ prior consent.

The bill, HB 187, would make “agricultural operation interference” a class A misdemeanor on the first offense and a third-degree felony on the second offense. The bill was introduced by Rep. John Mathis, who wants to do away with what he called “animal rights terrorists.”

“There are groups with the stated purpose to do away with animal agriculture, and that’s egregious ― that’s egregious to me,” Mathis told legislators this week. “The animal welfare movement has become an animal rights movement, and that’s wrong.

The same kinds of egregious legislation proposed or enacted related to corporate ranching and farming happens in the oceanic fishing industry.  Every day.  Somewhere.

Here in Alaska we’ve done a better job than most states or Canadian provinces at keeping the fisheries the state directly controls from being decimated.  Offshore, it has been an entirely different matter.  Increasingly, access to harvesting offshore bounties is being divided up between a smaller and smaller number of big players.

For instance, regarding a fishery the state controlled when I began commercially fishing here in 1973 – North Gulf and Copper River salmon – there are now more salmon coming into this area than there were 40 years ago.  Offshore, in 1973, there were North and South Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, Russian, East German and Polish trawlers prowling to within a few miles of the coast.  The U.S. based trawlers were far smaller than these very large factory ships, and the giants outnumbered us too.  Most large U.S. boats operating offshore were fishing halibut, King crab, shrimp or scallops.  The cod, pollack, ocean perch and other species were being scarfed up by foreigners.  Even then, the offshore biomass was decreasing.

With the advent of the 200-mile limit and creation of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-administered fishery councils, regulations, monitoring paradigms, tax codes and so-called “share” or “entry” programs were implemented that have one step at at time delivered this treasure over to the 1%  At the same time, of course, worldwide oceanic fish biomass has been reduced to shocking levels by practices even worse than those resulting from NOAA oversight.

I’ve been trying to follow a number of offshore fishery issues important to Alaska since I began my own blog, Progressive Alaska, in 2007.  I’ve failed to keep up, and that is irritating, as it is so important to us here, and things are going downhill for these fisheries so fast.

It has become increasingly obvious that the largely foreign-owned, Seattle-based offshore midwater trawl fleet is decimating halibut, King salmon and other stocks through out of control bycatch.  These vessels are poorly monitored overall, and probably waste far more than they report.  More than any other action, the bycatch waste is spinning off its effects to the commercial, sports and charter halibut fleets, and to Alaska Natives in villages along Western Alaska rivers.

The trawlers and their owners are so politically powerful that they are able to get bycatch monitoring or reduction tabled, ignored or even vilified every time the issue comes up, more dire than ever.  Alaska reporting on this by mainstream media has been spotty.  By far the most damning of bycatch crimes and negligence have been bloggers and small news outlets.  Blogger Wiglaf at the Tholepin wrote a week ago:

If you follow the proceedings of the faux judiciary-like process the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council uses in order to appear to be sufficiently respectful of its responsibilities to the fisheries it ‘manages,’ you can often see them telegraph their punches, and reassure their various supporters.  So it was this last meeting.  The movement to do nothing in regard to the criminal bycatch of high value species (among others) by the drag industry became clear when Chris Oliver made an (out of focus) YouTube video touting the Council’s concern over bycatch but weaseling about how much it was going to cost draggers.  Talking out of both sides of your mouth, Mr. Oliver, especially when it is put on video tape is never a good idea.  Crying about how cutting bycatch will cost the Kodiak draggers ten million dollars in lost revenues while not addressing the 4.4 million pounds of halibut waste at a current ex-vessel value of seven dollars a pound or 30 million dollars lost to the longliners, commercial charterers, sportsfishermen, and subsistence users is negligence, written large.  Little mention is made of the fact that some draggers are able to avoid much halibut bycatch and others are filthy fishers.   The Scientific and Statistical Committee finally spoke up chastising the Council process by admitting that making decisions affecting the health of the Gulf of Alaska based on, not just poor information as to observed catch, but purposefully gamed information, is a grave error.  Kudos to the SSC for having more courage than we expected them to have and by taking back some of the high ground to which the scientific community is supposed to adhere.

In his next article, Tholepin linked to this article on trawler bycatch at the Alaska Jounral of Commerce:

Less than a year after telling the public Gulf of Alaska halibut bycatch would be reduced in 2012, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council has bowed to a variety of pressures from bureaucratic to biological, and cuts won’t take effect until at least 2014.

There are stories about how the 1% are running the show in offshore fisheries all over the planet.  They’ve raped many, many places, destroying coastal fishing cultures that had survived for thousands of years.  It is why we have Somali pirates on the level they now exist.  Most used to be coastal fishermen.  The fish are gone, raked up mostly by large factory ships.

II. Maybe we need an Occupy Fisheries movement.  There already is an Occupy the Oceans movement.  One of the people involved is blogger Dan Bacher:

As the Occupy movement spreads throughout the nation and world, sustainable fishing communities, consumer groups and grassroots environmentalists have mobilized to stop the 1 percent from stealing ocean public trust resources from the 99 percent.

This week the U.S. Congress is expected to vote on a critical bill that would continue a recently instituted ban on a wasteful government program that gives large corporations control of the nation’s fishery resources, in effect privatizing the ocean’s public trust resources.

The Obama regime is promoting a “catch shares” program for fisheries that, like the Wall Street bailouts, will concentrate money and natural resources in fewer hands. Corporate environmental NGOs promoting the catch shares fiasco are heavily funded by the Walton Family Foundation (WalMart) and other foundations that represent the 1 percent (http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/08/19/wal-marting-the-oceans).

The ban has broad bi-partisan support. On November 3, nineteen Members of Congress from seven Eastern Seaboard states signed a letter urging Congress to not fund the Obama administration’s catch shares program.

My friend John Enge has proposed the term “Occupy Fisheries.”

Occupy Fisheries is catching on in Alaska it seems. Family fishermen are speaking up in a way I haven’t seen in years. For certain these folks have been disenfranchised for shedding light on the plunder of Alaska’s fish resources by ‘the few,’ with help from the stacked government deck, including their own neighbors on important citizen committees. Oh, but the good news is that they ‘got theirs.’

I liked it so much, I created my first facebook group today – Occupy Fisheries:

Please join if you want to help share articles, blog posts or whatever about people around the planet trying to keep the oceans from being killed by overfishing, pollution and other stupidities or greed. Especially, please post links here to information about people making a real difference in regaining control of oceanic resources by real people.

I hope the group catches on.  Time is running out.

Occupy Oakland Endorses Global BDS by 135 to 1 Vote on the Eve of UPenn BDS Conference

7:28 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I. Friday evening, a conference opened at the University of Pennsylvania, devoted to speakers, clinics, workshops and teach-ins on the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, initiated on July 9th, 2005, by 171 Palestinian non-governmental organizations, in protest to continuing Israeli incursions upon Palestinian rights, particularly in the occupied West Bank. As one might expect, Zionist organizations have been either trying to stop the conference or demonize it since word got out it would happen.  Even though people were strongly discouraged from attending, the event is unrolling without incident so far, with “a waiting list of 250.”

In the run-up week to the conference, notable luminaries and usual suspects showed up, to take one side or another.  Here’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s endorsement:

Here’s a set of notes on part of Alan Dershowitz’ speech Thursday to the Philadelphia Jewish Federation:

–Professors at the University of Pennsylvania who support BDS are complicit with evil.

–Protecting Israel is one of the great human rights issues of the 21st century.

–(During the audience Q and A): Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein hate America. They hate liberalism. They hate Western values. Make it clear that people who love liberty love Israel.

–Attacking Iran would not be preemptive, it would be reactive. Iran is already engaging in war with Israel. It has armed Hezbollah, Hamas….Israel has a right to attack.

–2 state solution would require a military presence in Jordan Valley in case there’s an incursion from Iraq. Iraq is becoming Iran. They take their orders from Iran.

Best-selling writer, videographer and journalist, Max Blumenthal, a U Penn alumni, wrote in the Daily Pennsyvanian on the same day, countering Dershowitz, and questioning the prominent neocon attorney’s credibility:

To counter the Penn BDS event, local pro-Israel groups including Hillel and the Philadelphia Jewish Federation have summoned the famed trial lawyer and Harvard University professor of law Alan Dershowitz to campus to keynote a Feb. 2 event: “Why Israel Matters to You, Me, and Penn: A conversation with Alan Dershowitz.” Penn’s Political Science department – which has pointedly refused to co-sponsor the BDS conference — will co-host Dershowitz’s lecture, where the professor has vowed to explain why he considers BDS to be one of the most “immoral, illegal and despicable concepts around academia today.”

The support Dershowitz received from the university and from pro-Israel groups that claim to abhor violence is ironic in light of Dershowitz’s record. Indeed, Dershowitz is an open advocate of torture who has urged Israel to destroy entire Palestinian villages, attack civilians and bulldoze their homes. Despite Dershowitz’s professed concern for political dissidents living under autocratic regimes, he has called for personal retaliation against Israeli academics who speak out in favor of BDS. Meanwhile, Dershowitz routinely smears high-profile critics of Israel’s 45-year-long occupation as evil anti-Semites — and worse.

In March 2002, during the height of the Second Intifada, Dershowitz published an article in The Jerusalem Post proposing a “new response to Palestinian terrorism.” According to Dershowitz, even the ironfisted tactics of then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon were not harsh enough. He urged Israel to adopt an explicit policy of collective punishment — a practice banned by international law. Dershowitz advised Israeli forces to arrange for “the destruction of a small village which has been used as a base for terrorist operations. The residents would be given 24 hours to leave, and then troops will come in and bulldoze all of the buildings.”

No less disturbing is Dershowitz’s recommendation that the United States adopt an official policy allowing federal law enforcement officials to torture criminal suspects. As long as an FBI agent received a “torture warrant,” according to Dershowitz’s rules, he was free to do as he pleased to the body of anyone in his custody. Dershowitz even offered torturers proposals for inflicting maximum pain. Among the methods he advised was “the sterilized needle being shoved under the fingernails,” an idea the journalist and former US intelligence analyst James Bamford described as “chillingly Nazi-like.”

For a list of some of the more important articles leading up to this watershed event, Mondoweiss has made one as part of their article on the first full day, including tweets coming out.

II. On Wednesday, at a meeting of Occupy Oakland, here is what happened:

Last Wednesday at the amphitheatre in front of Oakland’s city hall, occupiers endorsed Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel in a 135-to-one vote. Oakland’s occupiers have recently experienced chemical dispersants, and a mass arrest, which took place over the weekend. Among those arrested was Noura Khouri, the Palestinian organizer who initiated the BDS proposal.

The general assembly (GA) was electric; Wednesday was the first time those arrested were present for an occupy meeting. Despite the several distractions, including barking dogs and a New York Times reporter snapping photographs, occupiers listened attentively as Khouri and two others discussed the “intimate relationship,” between local law enforcement and the Israeli military. “We are seeing the militarization of our local police forces,” Khouri said, continuing “they are using the same tactics, weapons and laws.”

Khouri, along with co-presenters Basima Sisemore and Deppen Webber, also touched on the use of chemical dispersants by the Oakland Police Department (OPD) and the Israeli military. “The same tear gas that is being used on the streets here against you all is being used in Palestine,” said Sisemore. And, in fact, a portion of the occupiers at GA had experienced tear gas during the weekend’s “move-in day” actions, a failed attempt to occupy a vacant building. Throughout the march the OPD fired tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, flash-booms, and smoke grenades, on protesters, including children and elderly. One producer of these “non-lethal” weapons is Defense Technology, which is also used by the Israeli military.

The presenters then read the proposal text, and a letter of solidarity with the occupy movement from the BDS Nation Committee (BNC):

Our aspirations overlap; our struggles converge. Our oppressors, whether greedy corporations or military occupations, are united in profiting from wars, pillage, environmental destruction, repression and impoverishment. We must unite in our common quest for freedoms, equal rihts, social and economic justice, environmental sanity, and world peace.

However, occupiers did not need much convincing on why BDS should be endorsed.

This was an important event.  Here’s a link to the video of the endorsement and the discussion that led up to it (about 25 minutes of open presentations), from Alison Deger’s excellent article on this.

From the beginning of the OWS movement, some have sought to characterize elements of its organization or participation as being “anti-Semitic.” As the movement has grown remarkably over the winter and gears up for Spring, some will attack this vote as the same. Look for articles coupling the burning of an American Flag at Oakland City Hall and this resolution within the same paragraph.

But as law enforcement forces at dozens of Occupy encampments and actions have shown over the course of this winter, and as the initiators of the Oakland proposal mentioned in their explanation of their move, our police are increasingly showing influence of what Max Blumenthal has described as the “Iraelification” of American law enforcement:

The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed. The phenomenon has been documented in bits and pieces, through occasional news reports that typically highlight Israel’s national security prowess without examining the problematic nature of working with a country accused of grave human rights abuses. But it has never been the subject of a national discussion. And collaboration between American and Israeli cops is just the tip of the iceberg.

Having been schooled in Israeli tactics perfected during a 63 year experience of controlling, dispossessing, and occupying an indigenous population, local police forces have adapted them to monitor Muslim and immigrant neighborhoods in US cities. Meanwhile, former Israeli military officers have been hired to spearhead security operations at American airports and suburban shopping malls, leading to a wave of disturbing incidents of racial profiling, intimidation, and FBI interrogations of innocent, unsuspecting people. The New York Police Department’s disclosure that it deployed “counter-terror” measures against Occupy protesters encamped in downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park is just the latest example of the so-called War on Terror creeping into every day life. Revelations like these have raised serious questions about the extent to which Israeli-inspired tactics are being used to suppress the Occupy movement.

III. I hope to follow up on ramifications of the Occupy Oakland BDS resolution, and on the results of UPenn’s BDS Conference, as they are making postable videos of most speakers there.  Meanwhile, here is the address Omar Barghouti, one of the founders of Global BDS, had taped for the conference:

 

No Credit to Wikileaks or Manning in TIME Magazine’s Person-of-the-Year Tribute to Protesters

3:17 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The Protester - Bradley Manning

No credit to Wikileaks.

No mention of or tribute to Julian Assange, who was kept out of the spotlight at TIME last year, even though he was readers’ choice for Person of the Year.

No mention of Bradley Manning, whose detainment for uncovering important aspects of why people are so outraged, begins a new stage tomorrow.

No mention of the thousands of peaceful Palestinian protesters, who have been protesting Occupation for generations now.

As good as TIME‘s long article on worldwide protest is – and the article is excellent in what it does cover – it skims over Bahreini protests, prefers to have a sidebar story on an Athenian “protest dog,” rather than show any of the mutilated or dead Palestinian protesters, and certainly does not show the hundreds of people outside of Quantico last spring, or the hundreds being arrested outside the White House in the 350.org protests.

How important Julian Assange, Wikileaks, and probable information provided to them through Bradley Manning is to this ongoing, perhaps rapidly growing, global protest and action network are is difficult to assess accurately.  But to deny its importance is to not tell the full story of this important year.

Glenn Greenwald, in an op-ed that will appear in tomorrow’s UK Guardian, assesses some of the important domestic fallout from Manning’s and Wikileaks’ uncovering of the truth:

When WikiLeaks was awarded Australia’s most prestigious journalism award last month, the awarding foundation described how these disclosures created “more scoops in a year than most journalists could imagine in a lifetime”.

By exposing some of the worst atrocities committed by US forces in Iraq, the documents prevented the Iraqi government from agreeing to ongoing legal immunity for US forces, and thus helped bring about the end of the war. Even Bill Keller, the former New York Times executive editor and a harsh WikiLeaks critic, credits the release of the cables with shedding light on the corruption of Tunisia’s ruling family and thus helping spark the Arab spring.

In sum, the documentsManning is alleged to have released revealed overwhelming deceit, corruption and illegality by the world’s most powerful political actors. And this is why he has been so harshly treated and punished.

Despite pledging to usher in “the most transparent administration in history”, President Obama has been obsessed with prosecuting whistleblowers; his justice department has prosecuted more of them for “espionage” than all prior administrations combined.

The oppressive treatment of Manning is designed to create a climate of fear, to send a signal to those who in the future discover serious wrongdoing committed in secret by the US: if you’re thinking about exposing what you’ve learned, look at what we did to Manning and think twice. The real crimes exposed by this episode are those committed by the prosecuting parties, not the accused. For what he is alleged to have given the world, Manning deserves gratitude and a medal, not a life in prison.

Manning is THE PROTESTER.

Like many in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Bahrein, Yemen, Palestine and Syria, he is paying a steep price in his genuine commitment to justice:

[T]he leaks Manning allegedly engineered have generated enormous benefits: precisely the benefits Manning, if the allegations against him are true, sought to achieve. According to chat logs purportedly between Manning and the informant who turned him in, the private decided to leak these documents after he became disillusioned with the Iraq war. He described how reading classified documents made him, for the first time, aware of the breadth of the corruption and violence committed by his country and allies.

He explained that he wanted the world to know what he had learned: “I want people to see the truth … regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” When asked by the informant why he did not sell the documents to a foreign government for profit, Manning replied that he wanted the information to be publicly known in order to trigger “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms”.

Unlike most at TIME Magazine, many of us here at firedoglake can be very proud of our open and meaningful support of Manning,  and of thousands of others here and around the world, who, as Bradley put it, “want people to see the truth … regardless of who they are … because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”

image – The Protester Collage, by Philip Munger

Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed Speak at Occupy Lincoln Center

6:15 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The human microphone resonated loudly outside of Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera House last Thursday night.  31 years after its premiere in Rotterdam, one of the finest American operas, Philip Glass’ epic Satyagraha, finally had its Metropolitan Opera debut last month.  Thursday night was its final performance.  Composer Glass had been asked by Occupy Lincoln Center and Occupy Opera to address hundreds of demonstrators outside the house.  He agreed.

Between the final curtain of the opera and Glass’ speech, NYPD barricades were erected between opera goers and demonstrators.  People upstairs at the Met could see the hundreds of demonstrators and police outside through the building’s windows.

Writing at The Awl, Seth Colter Walls, who was there, described the scene, comparing the police scenes in the opera itself to those outside:

At one juncture, the shadows of acrobats who are miming, in slow motion, the violence of police against Civil Rights protestors are visible through windows scrimmed with newspapers. Meantime, projections of documentary videos showing similar truth-forces play around the borders of those same windows. When the shock troops break the historical fourth wall, slicing the newspapers into ribbons as they move from the deep American south into the forward-stage world of Gandhi’s compatriots, the viewer’s response may be to object on the basis of some temporal-spacial order. Police can’t just do that, can they? They can’t magically cross continents and decades in order to tamp down any social movement they choose, right?

The constricts that power itself is obliged to observe are actually amorphous, at least from the outside; it’s hard to know exactly where they really lie, or when, or to what degree, they may ever be changing. This accounts not just for what we may now commonly describe as Kafkaesque machinations of legal systems, but also citizens’ wariness regarding nascent social movements. (Are they “really” doing something important? Are they “good” at whatever it is? Are they “likely” to succeed regarding issues “coherently” expressed?) Read the rest of this entry →

The UC-Cal State System May Be About to Implode

2:24 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

It has been a long time coming.

A progressive state that once boasted the best low cost university education system in the planet’s history has become, decades later, a hollow, shriveled husk of such worthy expectations.  The downward spiral accelerated in 2009 with the first of huge tuition hikes and layoffs of quality adjunct faculty statewide.  This happened at the same time some high-profile California football coaches were getting gigantic pay raises and the system’s property rentals and leases were showing growing profitability in a challenging economy.  Like so many other 1%-oriented large systems around the USA, California’s college galaxy was becoming completely untethered from what it was supposed to be – something to benefit the common good.

Friday’s police riot at UC Davis may be a tipping point.  The student actions there were not outrageous by any rational standard, and fell well within what should be regarded as traditional student activities at California colleges.

How UC Davis responds to this matters less than how the governor and system administrators respond.  A complete shakeup of the Davis administration and cop shop will not be enough, and might not happen.

With Thanksgiving weekend coming up, most colleges will only have classes on Monday and Tuesday this week, with a plurality of kids leaving campuses for home or short respites.  Will Gov. Brown jump on the police brutality issue Sunday?   Probably not.  More tuition hikes have been announced, part of the reason for the demonstrations at UC Davis that led to the police riot.

My son has been attending college at Humboldt State.  Our daughter attended and graduated from Western Washington University.  We hoped he would get the quality education at Humboldt State she experienced in Bellingham.  In fall 2009, he and many other out-of-state students had their class registrations deleted to make way for California kids who were being pressured to move from one school to another.  Nobody told these out-of-state kids they had been manipulated unless they picked up on it and asked.  When he got back to school in August, he had to re-register for classes that were now being taught by replacements for instructors who had been laid off.  Most weren’t the classes he’d registered for in May and had been deleted from.

The whole affair sucked.  His girlfriend, who is an (out-of-state) honors student, is finding it hard to finish her degree in five years, let alone four.  They are moving to Oregon at the end of the year to complete their studies.

There are thousands of examples like these, many worse, I’m sure.  State college systems across the country are under enormous pressure in a hostile political, cultural, religious and economic environment.  But what is now happening in California may be a tipping point.  How the college, university system and state government respond to Friday’s police riot at UC Davis will be pivotal.  In regard to the inter-connected civil disobedience actions across the country over the past 70 days, UC Davis breathed new life into an important set of actions looking for focus.

We’ll see by Wednesday whether or not the ossified UC-Cal State system’s implosion is significant.

Twitter Controversies at OWS When Gaza Flotilla Boats Intercepted Thursday Raise Interesting Questions

1:03 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Late Thursday night and early Friday morning, the vessels MV Tahrir and MV Saoirse tried to break the Gaza blockade.  As most knew would happen, they were intercepted and boarded by Israeli military forces scores of miles inside international waters, and towed to Ashdod, where the 27 crew members and activists on board will be confined, then released.

That’s the drill.  As the organizers of the latest of the continuing flotillas stated, they hoped to break the blockade, but knew their efforts, even if unsuccessful, would continue to bring attention to the human rights aspects of the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza.

When the two boats were about 80 miles off the Gaza shore, someone using an OWS affiliated twitter account tweeted support, causing the following:

In the midst of this calm [as the two vessels saw morning coming], the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement posted a surprising and exhilarating tweet:

“We support and would like to express #solidarity to #FreedomWaves #Palestine #ows”.

Moments later, the Twitter representative of the Canada Boat to Gaza posted an appreciative response, “We are thrilled to receive the support of #OccupyWallStreet  Looks like only the 1% support the Israeli blockade of Gaza.” The Twitter-sphere flared up with expressions of praise and affirmation, proving that the 99% naturally link the struggle for the Occupation of Wall Street with the struggle against the Occupation of Palestine as two facets of a single universal liberation struggle.

Approximately four hours later, however, Occupy Wall Street’s tweet mysteriously disappeared from its home page on Twitter. The Twitter-sphere was instantly taken aback- “didn’t realize #OWS is non-political!!” remarked one tweeter, while another insisted that “If #OWS can not support #FreedomWaves and #Gaza then they should not compare themselves to #ArabSpring or #Tahrir.” The Canada Boat to Gaza, who earlier had nodded in satisfaction, now, shook its head in disappointment, offering, in the face of Occupy Wall Street’s fear of involving itself in the Israel-Palestine conflict, a few words by Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Many tweeps asked “Why did @OccupyWallSt delete a tweet showing solidarity with #FreedomWaves?” or “@OccupyWallSt Did you seriously delete the tweet supporting #FreedomWaves WHY?” The closest official answer came from Daniel Sieradski, a new media activist who has been central to the OccupyJudaism activities. Sieradski explained, the “#FreedomWaves tweet was unauthorized, did not have reflect #OWS community consensus and was subsequently deleted.” He added, “#OWS does not have a position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” and “#OWS is a consensus based movement. The GA has never discussed the I/P issue & even if it did, it would never reach consensus.” Sieradski acknowledged he was not speaking as a spokesperson from Occupy Wall Street but he had “heard what happened from people close to it.” I was not able to receive an official explanation from the Occupy Wall Street movement about why tweet being deleted.

I found out about this when Max Blumenthal tweeted the following:

@Max on OWS Freedom Waves tweet deletion

Friday morning, there were a number of reaction’s to the tweet’s deletion.  Ben Lorber’s article at Mondoweiss, linked to above, is a good place to find links to other coverage of the fallout.

Further blog discussion about this is at:

What interested me most, while reading through the hundreds of comments to these articles Friday, is the discussion that seems to be going on at the organizational levels of the OWS movement on the relationship between OWS concerns about domestic economic and systemic issues and global ones.  Some commenters at each of the three articles linked to above seem to feel that showing support for Palestinian rights, or our governmental and political relationships with Israel, will erode support for OWS and lead to further complaints in the media of anti-Semitism.  Commenters have been countering that by arguing that military and foreign aid expenditures, and tax policies that allow 1%ers to invest in West Bank settlements and get tax  write-offs, for instance, are domestic issues, not foreign.

My view is that OWS is durable enough to withstand showing public support for the human rights aspects of the situation in the occupied or besieged territories Israel oversees while it openly and illegally scoops up more of those lands almost daily.  At the same time, as the movement eventually has to deal more with the global interconnectivity of so many processes of the economic injustices we want to see diminished, they should support the cause of civil and women’s rights to the point of including anything like Hamas in any critique of injustice.

There’s a compelling  argument that  being deflected from other timely and important issues, and into the Israel-Palestine arena, and the contentiousness participation in that so fully invites, can be crippling. However, if OWS is truly real, and has legs, this might be a good time for people to put on their thinking caps, and provide new creative ideas if I/P comes up.

Something that makes sense, rather than the absurd farce of supporting the “negotiation process” or ignoring it all.

A Lesson for Obama: Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez Re-Elected in Landslide for Reducing Income Gap Between the 1% and 99%

4:27 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Argentina’s incumbent president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, won re-election Sunday, in a landslide.  She is the first woman to be re-elected head of state in the history of Latin America, or the Americas, for that matter.  Unlike the first American woman head of state to be directly elected, Nicaraguan President (1990-1997) Violeta Chamorro, Fernandez has steered a populist course that has increased public wealth, sharply reduced disparities in income between the top 1% and the 99% of the rest of Argentines, strengthened social welfare programs, and has overseen an economy whose growth has barely slowed in a global financial climate that has throttled ours.

The contrast to Chamorro’s policies in Nicaragua to those of Fernandez couldn’t be more stark: Read the rest of this entry →

Lupe Fiasco Makes Powerful Musical Statement for OWS and Palestinian Rights at BET TV Hip-Hop Awards

8:32 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Black Entertainment Television’s 6th Annual Hip-Hop Awards were presented from Atlanta yesterday.  I missed it, rehearsing Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade in Anchorage, instead.

Although I’m known as a “classical” composer and musician, I’ve had a longstanding interest in hip-hop, particularly female artists and their music-poetry. Hip-hop was a “social network” long before my space, facebook and twitter. Many texting and sexting terms have been stolen from rappers, and the interchange is now a broad four-lane, two-way street.

Yesterday’s rapperfest was an opportunity for this most immediate genre of popular music to pave a new lane to Occupy Wall Street.  A lot of bands missed the bus.  Lupe Fiasco all but made up for it, though.  Here’s his September speech on the Palestinian UN bid:

Read the rest of this entry →