Wednesday, November 23, 2011

China Slave Labor Camps, US-Thailand Food Chain Slaves

China has the biggest penal colony in the world - a top secret network of more than 1,000 slave labour prisons and camps known collectively as "The Laogai". And the use of the inmates of these prisons - in what some experts call "state sponsored slavery" - has been credited with contributing to the country's economic boom.
In this episode, former inmates, many of whom were imprisoned for political or religious dissidence without trial, recount their daily struggles and suffering in the "dark and bitter" factories where sleep was a privilege. (Aljazeera)

The investigation begins in the poor villages of Thailand, where agents for the US slave masters trick desperate peasants with promises of well-paid jobs abroad.

But far from fulfilling their American dream, many end up in slave labour farms in Hawaii, California and Florida - unable to return home and working to pay off the debts they incurred in the pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families. (Aljazeera)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Week in Review OWS--Musing Over Highlights

So what's going on as we start another week? The Super Congress, another 2011 distraction against real problems and an inventive preparatory tool for cutting medicare and social security, can't agree, probably on the best tactic to cut these benefits with minimum fallout while the air of discontent in the country grows bolder. Was this simply another  non-democratic and undemocratic body of time wasters whose only goal was to keep the issue alive?  If true, how sinister would that be? So Main Street better think fast.   How can Main Street turn this event in favor of the people? How can Main Street come up with its own tool to not only secure these benefits but also to expand them and get them out of the adversity limelight once and for all? This might be a good time for anyone about to lose benefits to join OWS. It may be a good time all of Main Street to  start petitions for a single-healthcare system. It isn't enough just to keep the damage of monsters to a minimum, or to even to stop the monsters and let it hold everything at a standstill. People have to begin putting forth programs that transform their daily lives and help reshape social consciousness to benefit the greater humanity, Main Street. Main Street can no longer rely on many of their representatives to vote in its favor. I believe rising to this challenge, to create in the face of standstill, is the skill needed to meet the 21st Century in a new way.

Everyone's talking about UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi who took action  against students that led police to pepper spray students in the face. She certainly assumes a lot of ego.  Now she won't resign--even though many feet are kicking her name out the door.  She insists the university needs her. (Funny, but I always thought a university could run without a chancellor but not without the professors or students.)  Still trying to shape public and private perceptions (and hold onto her job!) as the call for her resignation grows louder. she has now apologized. I guess that solves it.  Now it's time to move on and heal, she says. How many people are in jail apologized and just wanted to move on and heal? To avoid a double-standard, it's probably a good idea to let those apologetic people out of jail, many of whom have probably caused less harm than the chancellor. A byproduct: Think of all the money California would save instead of storing prisoners in jails because the prisons are overcrowded.

The recall for Wisconsin's Governor Walker is growing very strong. Signatures by now reach or pass 100,000 on petitions, and rallies reaching 40,000 or more re-enforce the recall. Who's next? Recalling New York's Mayor Bloomberg for his role in unleashing as brutish if not illegal attacks on peaceful protesters would be a strong next step. Recalling Oakland's Mayor Quan and Portland's Mayor Sam Adams  at the same time would also be a strong message. What's the message their resignation could send to other officials quick at the spray and attack buttons? Brutish compulsions and a fear of democracy --demophobia--belong in therapy. Recalling all four would send a strong message to cities attacking demonstrators exercising their right of protest.  Recalling them all (and more) at the same time provides a rallying stage.

Over this past week, I watched Chris Markers A Grin Without a Cat.  He's a master of montage and a terrific filmmaker.  The montage from the world demonstrations during the 60s and the war footage could easily be spliced together with today's videos, and who would know the difference? That alone is something to think about. Why isn't there much of a difference in how those in power respond? And what can be done to create a difference with better outcomes for Main Street? There is a difference, however. In the 60s, most of the protesters were students. Today the protesters are made up from all segments of Main Street. Moreover, the protesters are more peaceful today.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Elizabeth Warren Surges Past Obama In?

Is Elizabeth Warren Standing on the Other Side of the Mirror Obama Can't Find?

Elizabeth Warren arrives on top of America's Good Ethics List so often that people are now seeing her perhaps as not only Obama's answer to himself, but the conscience of Obama, his better self, better half, manifest hope. Should we read between the lines? Will she, won't she run for president in the near future? Didn't Hillary start as Senator? Without the pincers on the neck of Hillary as a passenger in Bill's car and now Obama's car, Warren comes to the people in her own car, at least in the driver's seat, and she's turning heads:
Even though she’s running for the Senate and not for the presidency, the early devotion to Warren recalls the ardor once felt by many for Obama. On its face, this is odd: Warren is not a world-class orator, she is not young or shiny or new, she doesn’t fizz with the promise of American possibility that made the Obama campaign pop. Instead, she’s a mild-mannered Harvard bankruptcy-law professor and a grandmother of three, a member of the older-white-lady demographic (she’s 62) that was written off in 2008 as being the antimatter of hope and change.
And yet, on a deeper level, her popularity makes perfect sense. Embracing Warren as the next “one” is, in part, a way of getting over Obama; she provides an optimistic distraction from the fact that under our current president, too little has changed, for reasons having to do both with the limitations of the political system and the limitations of the man. She makes people forget that estimations of him were too overheated, trust in his powers too fervid. As the feminist philanthropist Barbara Lee told me of Warren, “This moment of disillusion is why people find her so compelling, because she brings forth the best in people and she brings back that excitement.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dismantle & Re-Occupy OWS

Updated video from Democracy Now!
The systematic disrespect for occupiers by mayors in cities should bring to light the need to Recall these mayors and replace them with mayors who are on the side of Main Street.  With all due respect to the present mayors, they now seem outside the shifting winds that are clearing the air for the 21st century, one in which we may finally elevate and prioritize our intelligence and imagination over  the accumulation of money and power, to construct a more humane and egalitarian everyday world.

The Dismantling of Occupy Wall Street

For research: The dismantling of Occupy Wall Street is underway across the country. Police across the country are taking down tents and confiscating material. Everyone has to draw their own conclusions.

Notice from Mayor Bloomberg: Occupants of Zuccotti should temporarily leave and remove tents and tarps. Protestors can return after the Park is cleared.  This link is a live stream as people are being removed.  

The dismantling of Occupy Santa Cruz.

The dismantling of Occupy Oakland

The dismantling of Occupy Portland

The dismantling of Occupy Denver

The dismantling by al jazeera

Update November 21: Laptops smashed and books burned?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Question of the Day--Women at Occupy Wall Street

What are the specific issues women should group together over in discussing, making demands or boycotting over as a group? 

Here's an initial list I constructed: 1. Women's Work (pay, benefits and workplace issues).  2. Childcare for all Mothers. 3. Housing for Single Women. 4. Women's Reproductive Rights. 5. Women's Safety. 6. Women and the Arts. 7. Health Care for Women. 8. Women and Social Conventions. 9. Women in the Professions. 10. Women and Education.

occupy wall street berkeley police and protesters

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sexual Assault at Occupy Wall Street

I've been having a discussion with a friend on the sexual assault at OWS. It's under Occupy Wall Street Arrests on this blog. But that discussion doesn't belong there. It belongs here under its own thread. I find it distracting to entangle the arrests of protesters with the rapes of protesters. These are two separate issues. I have moved some of my thoughts to this thread and shall move others as well. Taking my friend's advice, I have moved the solutions to the front of the musing.

 Rape is a violent act against another person. It's a violation of the body. 

Bringing the rapes to light is also important because it can lead us to the broader discussion of violence against women in this country.

But the real dispute appears to be how to bring the sexual assaults into the light not whether to bring into the light. And I find that discussion one worth having. It is through such a discussion that the social system regarding this issue has a chance of finding new ways to deal with the problem to help lessen it if not get rid of it. So far, we as a society are not doing too well in keeping the numbers down.

So should OWS be dismantled for attracting fringe or sick people?  Only if the city of New York should be dismantled for the same reason.  Have we ever heard a call or seen a petition to dismantle an entire town if a rape or murder occurs?   I haven't seen that yet.

SOLUTION #1 for OWS: Daily workshops on defining and raising awareness about the dangers of rape followed by self defense workshops for women at the tents. Here's where police officers could be helpful. Imagine, women police officers taking turns training women living in OWS tents to defend themselves.

SOLUTION #2: Since Mayor Bloomberg is outraged at the rapes and even more outraged at rapes not getting reported, how about if the mayor himself go into his bank account and purchase mace for all women. That would convince parents of vulnerable young women he is really concerned with the safety of women engaged in their right of assembly. One other thing Bloomberg can do is set up shelters for the homeless to keep them out of the tent areas. At the same time, how about if Bloomberg sets up daily training workshops for rapists and men out of control to learn how to keep their penises inside their pants. That could happen at police stations or at the Mayor's office, and it could be for men from all over the city, from inside and outside of the buildings, particularly on Wall Street. 

Of course, my first reaction to hearing about the rapes was alarm. And then felt equal alarm hearing women were being silenced into not reporting them. I started looking around to read about what was going on. My third reaction was first disappointment and then mistrust. My friend had been at least partially duped. Many of the  reports (not of the rapes but of the framing of the rapes by news outlets) proved inaccurate. The fact--rapes occurred--was not wrong. But the framing of the rapes and the reaction to the rapes were contradictory.

First, the situation appears to be the following: rapes have occurred in New York, Dallas, and Portland, Cleveland, and Philadelphia.  Mostly I'm finding one rape at each of these sites.  One protester in New York, Channing Kehoe, knows of at least one rape having taken place but says several more women are complaining of groping going on by mostly "drunk guys." She said women are going to the police but the officers are refusing to intervene.

 Capitalizing on Rape

I began my research as most of us do using the Internet for research by Googling sexual assaults at OWS. The list wasn't too long. At the top of the list, the loudest voices we find Fox News and the political right blogs. Why is that? What do the loudest voices have in common? They share a focus on verbal assaults against OWS. These sources call for the dismantling of OWS, which aroused my suspicion. I wasn't doubtful rapes had occurred but I was suspicious over the framing of the rapes. Does anyone really believe these news outlets feel moral outrage at the rapes of these women? 

Andrew Breitbart of the Big Government blog says,
It’s time for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to pull the plug on the dangerous circus in crime zone Zuccotti Park. People have the right to protest, to assemble peaceably, to raise their voices and petition their government. They do not have the right to break the law. And Mayor Bloomberg has the duty to uphold the law.
He found his pretext. He's referring to rapes in particular. I think this non-sequitur (blaming the movement itself for the incidence of rape or other crimes, including those against the protesters themselves) is a good example of framing the crime to support a political agenda. Is Breitbart really suggesting the protest movement itself is the criminal acting out against itself? It seems so.

In criminalizing the OWS movement for crimes committed against, Breitbart and others like him frame the rapes in a sophisticated association game that circles the blame for the rapes onto the movement itself. He and others like him imply the Occupy Wall Street camps are responsible for the rapes and must thus be dismantled. No process of law here. Okay, all things being equal in terms of ethics or morals and even his law, let's continue using Breitbart's reasoning. Let's apply this reasoning about rape to the broader culture, New York City. In playing the same association game, we find rapes occurring there as well--and at quite a rate per day.  Since the rapists are among the residents of New York, then it seems appropriate to blame the city of New York for the rapes. Following Breitbart's line of reasoning, the solution is simple: we must dismantle New York City. We must get rid of it since some people have raped other people within its  boundaries. I hope Breibart's double-standard and irrational reasoning sparks a note.

As for Bloomberg, Mayor Bloomberg too is quick to want to close down the tent zones. He too jumped at the pretext. His complaint is that the rapes or other crimes are going unreported and this is dangerous for the rest of New York. But have we ever heard Bloomberg, since taking office, demand we shut down New York city and dismantle it because of unreported rapes or other crimes going on throughout the city? Has he ever claimed these unreported rapes or other crimes are dangerous for the rest of the city and the solution is to shut down the city? My guess is he's probably happy they go unreported. Every mayor likes less statistics in this area. It's good for re-election.

All things being equal.

That's the other  twist to the framing of these rape incidents. And it is this twist that drew me into this research: The alleged claim that rapes are going unreported. I say alleged because in doing my research I have found   conflicting framing on the "reporting" or "not reporting" of the rapes.

I haven't found any report on any rape incident not reported. And men are getting arrested. Not that such non-reports and non-existent.

According to one rather rude man, who appears to be using the rape incidents as a platform to vent his own his hatred of OWS and perhaps women, argues the women at OWS are not reporting rapes, and are morons. Well, I guess that's enough proof for some blogs.

But contrary to his assumptions, the OWS women are not hiding in shame or huddled in shock in the back of tents, bruised without a voice. Women are not taping their mouths shut to protect an abstraction. This guy's distortion of reality pisses me off.  He is in essence pitching a tent of male hysteria and fever koutside OWS's living quarters and yelling at the women inside to follow protocol, his, to get in line, his line.

Unless women are lying and the guy in the video has the corner market on what's really going on, women are not covering up crimes against them at these tent sites. According to
 Brendan Burke, 41, who helps run the security team in Zuccotti Park, says, "We always encourage victims to go through the proper channels and contact police,"  But he admits,  "there have been times when members of the community have taken it upon themselves to chase off men who exposed themselves in the park." If there is a consensus that someone is bothering another person, the community will take care of it," he said. "Still, we always notify victims to contact police."
A few scary stories circulating are about the police encouraging homeless men to "take it" into the camps. Is this an indirect way of putting young women at jeopardy? It seems so to me. Is there a lawsuit against the police department here? I would bring it to light. Meanwhile, since the police seem reluctant to help out here, women are taking matters into their own hands.
On Friday, Occupy Wall Street created a 16-square-foot “safe house,” designed to shelter up to 30 women.  This is a start.  However, how about setting up “safe spaces” AND placing the onus on men to stop sexual violence?  According to feminist activist, Deanna Zandt, “getting the men not to rape [the women]” is a better starting point.  I concur. Columnist, Katha Pollitt, put all of this in perspective when she recently asked, “Can you imagine hetero MEN having to set up a safe space to protect them from women and LGBT?” No.  Most of us can’t.  Too many of us have been wired to see men as predators and women as princesses needing protection, the latter of which doesn’t always have a happy-ending.  Something’s got to give. Women need safe spaces because we live in a rape culture that makes sexual occupancy permissible anywhere. (from Occupy Rape Culture)
How often do rapes occur in the United States?
According to The National Women's Study, 683,000 forcible rapes occur every year; which equals 56,916 per month; 1,871 per day; 78 per hour; and 1.3 per minute {National Crime Victimization Survey. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, 2000.}
 We can thus conclude that rape is a problem of the broader culture that has infected OWS. And it's important to not lose sight of these incidents as carried into the tent arenas as infiltrators of unresolved social and psychological illnesses.

We all know the stories of women who get raped and, ashamed, believe it is their fault. We all know the unsavory stories of women who report rape and find themselves treated as criminals. We all know the stories of infiltrators who rape women in order to help dismantle a movement of dissent. We all know the stories of victims of gang rapes being further humiliated by law enforcement agencies and courts.

We all know the problems that erupt from welcoming everyone into a movement.  You get a small percentage of predators looking to satisfy their perversions or to  act out their neurosis or even psychosis. When you're living outside in tents, you also get homeless people, some who can help but others who can harm because they are mentally unstable. You get the dazed and  confused. You get people otherwise living of the streets.  Protesters have to educate themselves on these facts and develop tools to spot the predators or attackers among them. This appears to be happening.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Arrests

Democracy Now! continuously updates itself.

 UPDATE: NOV 20, Portland arrests and attacks

 UPDATE NOVEMBER 17--OWS 2-month anniversary--Day of Action

Overview on Day of Action in The Guardian includes video on New, York Los Angeles, Portland.  Day of Action Overview Common Dreams

Los Angeles arrests at least 73 arrested  

Portland, Oregon at least 20 arrested

New York: scores (at least 245) arrested  CNN ,   Brooklyn Bridge   Atlantic Wire,     Sit-in in lower Manhatten CNN,

Dangerous 84-year old woman pepper sprayed.

Occupy San Francisco/Berkeley good photos and video -- at least 100 arrested

ARREST OF JOURNALISTS: While a media blackout occurred during the raid at Zuccotti Park on Tuesday early morning, journalists are being arrested. I'm reminded of the Iraq war. Not that occupy is a war zone. But efforts as I have never seen were used to keep the press away.

Here's one person doing research on keeping the press at a distance by arresting its members.  Here's a another  site on journalists with broader information.  Here's a Tweets tracking journalists arrested at Occupy sites.  I  don't know it's reliability of this last site (based on its ad). Must do more research.

On November 14:  234 people At Occupy Wall Street (NY--Zuccotti Park)  arrested and go to court.

UPDATE: NOVEMBER 12: Occupy Portland gets confronted and attacked by police. I guess the word from the city is "okay you made your point and had your fun. Now go home and obey conditions on Main Street."
Around 4 a.m., dozens of police formed a line across from demonstrators who had poured into the street. Protesters facing them appeared to be in festive spirits with some banging on drums and plastic pails, another clanging a cowbell while others danced in the streets as a man juggled nearby.
On Sunday at an impromptu news conference, the mayor defended his order to clear the park, saying it is his job to enforce the law and keep the peace. "This is not a game," Adams said.
How many arrests have been made during Occupy protests? Should any arrests have been made? I'm conflicted. I think arrest, in general, is a knee-jerk reaction. It's an easy fix. A muscle response in problem solving.  Where is it written that a man can't wear two pair of pants, said my father-in-law during a seizure of alzheimers? And yet, there he was in two pair of pants. No one at the retirement home liked it or what it suggested about aging. The protester was hurried off to his room to get out of one of his pairs, so he could return presentable, get in line, follow the rules of pants wearing. In short, his removal constituted a kind of arrest.

Surely there are other ways to solve problems than arresting people or pepper spraying them. I mean, for us to live up to our humanity. How much do such arrests stem from internalized confusion and hard-to-kick barbarism? How much from a misconception of entitlement? These arrests are at the very least manifestations of our quick fix culture and our over-use of muscle. These kinds of arrests make manifest the theme, cruelty in the guise of tradition, a theme frequently explored in modern stories. To really advance, shouldn't we start by making modifications in the way we handle dissent?

On November 7, Chris Hedges writes in "Finding Freedom in Handcuffs,"
Faces appeared to me moments before the New York City police arrested us Thursday in front of Goldman Sachs. They were not the faces of the smug Goldman Sachs employees, who peered at us through the revolving glass doors and lobby windows, a pathetic collection of middle-aged fraternity and sorority members. They were not the faces of the blue-uniformed police with their dangling cords of white and black plastic handcuffs, or the thuggish Goldman Sachs security personnel, whose buzz cuts and dead eyes reminded me of the East German secret police, the Stasi.
According to Politicons, arrests topped 3,000 by November 2

Beginning Research on Arrests

New York:  Nov. 6 (20 arrested):  Nov. 5 (scores arrested);  Oct. 16 (74 arrested);

Oakland:    Nov. 3 (103 arrested);  Nov. 3 (30 arrested at port);  Oct. 26 (100 arrested);  Oct. 25 (75 arrested); 
Atlanta:   Nov. 7 (5 arrested);  Nov. 6: (20 arrested); Oct. 26 (53 arrested)

Denver: Oct. 30 (dozens of arrests)

Los Angeles: Oct 3 (100s arrested);

San Francisco:  Oct 11 (11 arrested); 

Oregon: Oct 30 (dozens arrested):

Texas: Oct 30 (dozens arrested);

Alaska: Nov. 6 (2 arrested);

Chicago: Oct. 23 (130 arrested);

Iowa: Oct. 10  (32 arrested);

San Jose: Oct. 23 (9 arrested);


March to Union Square one woman's arrest: Sept 24
One man's arrest: Sept. 24 
Oakland's Mayhem: Oct. 27
San Francisco's Sleepover, Sept. 30
Two protesters threatened with arrest for trying to close BofA accounts in Santa Cruz Oct. 15

Compiled Statistics, Overviews & Patterns

According to Weasel Zippers, 2,200 arrests have been made as of October 23, 2011.
According to Politicons, arrests top 3,000 by  November 2

Article on pattern of arrests as of October 14, Village Voice

Short Roundup on CNN: Atlanta, Honolulu, Oregon,  Riverside, CA as of November 7

Extensive Roundup by RSN, Atlanta, Honolulu, Oakland, New York, San Francisco, and more as of November 6

Move Your Money Roundup from across the country, November 6

Roundup on Bay Area protests, Nov. 3, San Francisco Bay Guardian

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Question of the Day--on Feminism in the Age of Austerity

 If one focuses on the issues of women within the borders of today's Age of Austerity in America, what are the specific issues and how does feminism itself fit into framing these issues?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Occupy Oakland Nov 2 2011

Well, Main Street has arrived at a general strike.  Peaceful demonstrators want change and they are willing to shut down the city of Oakland to prove just how serious this need for change is. 
I found this powerful poster on numerous sites, including this one called neontommy.

A little overview in which Main Street holds firm.

Who's participating in the strike? Thousands of workers, students and vets from Main Street. 5% of public employees did not show up for work.

While the focus is on a system turned viral against Main Street, a steady focus is on boycotting  banks as this site shows.

  As the numbers of protesters grow, the chances of co-optation or corporate derailment, demonizing or reshaping of this strike decreases. With police nearly absent or peripheral, at least nearly invisible,  no violence has erupted. Hopefully, individual officers will join in one day.

But where to next? Perhaps Occupy Everywhere can strengthen itself with a rotating system of general strikes daily, so that every day someplace in America Main Street closes down a city for the day--and continues this process of the rotating general strike until the necessary changes are  reached.

Some of the informative links I found worth viewing: 

Democracy Now! 

Guardian coverage

History in video and pictures of Occupy Oakland.

The Nation

USA even gets in the picture with video.  People of all ages participate. "The system just doesn't hurts our working families."

Noam Chomsky speaks on Movement in Nation of Change