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Occupy Wall Street: Zuccotti Park Reoccupied for Semi-Anniversary; Dozens Arrested (Video)

4:30 am in Uncategorized by Gregg Levine

Occupy Wall Street OWS M17

Zuccotti Park, NYC, 3/17/12. (photo: G. Levine)

Hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protestors filled Zuccotti Park on Saturday to celebrate the first six months of the movement. The action began midday, and included marches by groups of protestors around nearby streets in the Financial District. By 10 PM the crowd in Zuccotti–also known as Liberty Park–had swelled to over 700 (some reports go as high as 1,000).

The mood in the park was light and celebratory when the sounds of bagpipes were heard, approaching from the west. Hundreds in the park moved toward the noise, only to witness NYPD officers preventing the pipers from entering the park, arresting at least one. Some on the scene said that the pipers were not affiliated with OWS; they had come to NYC from Brittany to participate in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and later decided to play for occupiers.

While the pipers had drawn much of the crowd to the southwestern part of the park, uniformed NYPD officers moved in to remove a makeshift tent (a plastic tarp thrown over a rope strung between two trees). As police were doing this, loud shouts of “get out” were heard. That order came from a blue-shirted community affairs officer, though, and was not directed at protestors but at the uniformed cops that had just moved in to remove the tarp. Those officers complied and filed quickly toward the east side of the park.

Shortly after that, however, dozens more uniformed NYPD moved into position around the park, and at around 11:30 PM entered the park en masse. Though no announcement was audible on the east side of Zuccotti, reports say police told protestors the park was being closed for “cleaning.” While many occupiers moved out of the park, a large number remained, some linking arms, others behind orange netting recognizable as the material police have used to “kettle” protestors in the past.

At that point, police began grabbing protestors and placing them in plastic cuffs. Some were escorted out of the park to waiting wagons on Broadway. Other occupiers lay down or went limp and had to be carried out of the park.

But other protestors encountered a more violent response. Accounts include reports of a broken thumb, possible broken jaw, and police using their boots to hold protestors’ faces on the ground. Others said they were pushed forcefully down the street; one visitor to the park reported being hit from behind with a nightstick. Read the rest of this entry →

Energy Innovation: Obama’s State of the Union a Frothy Mix of Promise and Prattle

6:30 am in Uncategorized by Gregg Levine

It’s an election year, another presidential campaign is upon us, and since it is going to be so very much upon us every day from now until November, it would be nice to find something about which to get excited.

There is nothing to get excited about on the Republican side of the aisle. The knock-down, drag-out contest between the stupid, the rude, and the just plain offensive may provide the Democrats with the best gift since, oh, you know, the last Republican president, but for the American people, none of the GOP contenders is a prize. It will be truly hellish to have to listen to any one of them for the duration of the campaign.

So, when I turned on the TV last night, I wanted to stand up and cheer. While watching President Obama’s State of the Union address, I felt much like I did when I watched his 2008 acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium in Denver. OK, that’s not true–not hardly. Reality has not been kind to Obama’s rhetoric, after all. But when Obama got to the energy section of the speech, I found much to applaud, not unlike in 2008. . . with some obvious caveats for his praise of dirty, dangerous, failed or flat-out fictional forms of energy production.

During the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama always made a point of touting “clean coal” in his energy policy stump speech. As president, he included this nonsense phrase in both his 2010 and 2011 State of the Union speeches. This year, however, though Obama extolled an “All of the above” energy mix, and then went into some detail about what that “all” should include, there was no reference to coal, “clean” or otherwise (AKA “dirty,” AKA “the way coal actually is”).

The ’08 campaign contained frequent references to nuclear power, too. Obama also would clean those up, often by calling for “safe nuclear.” It was, to my ear, just as imaginary–and just as dishonest–as “clean coal,” and it made me wary of a candidate that I already knew was heavily dependent on nuclear industry contributions to fund his campaign. But last night, “nuclear” only came up three times–twice while talking about Iran, and once more when discussing nuclear proliferation, in general. There was no reference to nuclear power.

Funny that. I guess with 44 domestic coal mine fatalities since Obama took office, and with approximately 20 percent of US coal-fired power plants failing to meet clean air standards, maybe coal doesn’t sound so much like “winning the future.” Read the rest of this entry →

The Party Line – November 18 (uh, 19), 2011: Show a Gun, Gotta Use It

6:00 am in Uncategorized by Gregg Levine

When I heard Jean Quan offhandedly drop that she was on a multi-mayor conference call during a BBC interview, I knew I had heard something of note. The rapid succession of similar crackdowns on Occupy encampments in several US cities seemed like more than a coincidence, and so it was kind of a smoking gun. . . .

Well, not really a smoking gun–there wasn’t quite enough there and it, quite frankly, wasn’t all that surprising. In fact, it was kind of “duh”–not that it wasn’t good to have suspicions confirmed, but the OMG for OWS would probably be to find out that no one was colluding or coordinating to take it out.

But that shouldn’t be the way I feel. I want to be more shocked that a variety of government agencies are working to undermine a needed, peaceful and long-overdue broad-based national movement, but after 9/11, the ramp up of the national security state as good as mandates this level of government intrusion.

I am still looking for more on this (as are many others)–how many calls were there? who was on them? what was said? to what extent were federal agencies involved? did they advise or drive the conversation?–so this was more like a loose thread than a smoking gun. And the more we all pull that thread, I wonder, will it be more of a confirmation or a revelation–and most importantly, what will I mean to the Occupy movement?

Occupy Wall Street for Dummies – Lesson 1

6:00 am in Uncategorized by Gregg Levine

(photo credits: The People’s Mic – Gregg Levine; NOT the People’s Mikeaboutmattlaw)

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan Admits Cities Coordinated Crackdown on Occupy Movement

6:45 am in Uncategorized by Gregg Levine

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan (photo: Ella Baker Center)

Embattled Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, speaking in an interview with the BBC (excerpted on The Takeaway radio program–audio of Quan starts at the 5:30 mark), casually mentioned that she was on a conference call with leaders of 18 US cities shortly before a wave of raids broke up Occupy Wall Street encampments across the country. “I was recently on a conference call with 18 cities across the country who had the same situation. . . .”

Mayor Quan then rambles about how she “spoke with protestors in my city” who professed an interest in “separating from anarchists,” implying that her police action was helping this somehow.

Interestingly, Quan then essentially advocates that occupiers move to private spaces, and specifically cites Zuccotti Park as an example:

In New York City, it’s interesting that the Wall Street movement is actually on a private park, so they’re not, again, in the public domain, and they’re not infringing on the public’s right to use a public park.

Many witnesses to the wave of government crackdowns on numerous #occupy encampments have been wondering aloud if the rapid succession was more than a coincidence; Jean Quan’s casual remark seems to imply clearly that it was.

Might it also be more than a coincidence that this succession of police raids started after President Obama left the US for an extended tour of the Pacific Rim?