Posts tagged ‘Occupy Wall Street’

‘Fiscal cliff’ deal: After rush of relief, debt ceiling clash already looms



'Fiscal cliff' deal: After rush of relief, debt ceiling clash already looms (via The Christian Science Monitor)

Just 10 hours before the New York stock exchange opened on Wednesday, the GOP-controlled House passed the Senate's "fiscal cliff" bill, 257-167, marking the first time that Republicans have, effectively, voted to raise income taxes in 20 years. Markets from Tokyo to Wall Street surged at the news that…

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Credit union flap may reveal Goldman Sachs is bullying community banks



Credit union flap may reveal Goldman Sachs is bullying community banks (via Raw Story )

When it was announced recently that Goldman Sachs had withdrawn its sponsorship of the small community bank at which Occupy Wall Street had set up an account for its donations, it appeared to be merely a petty act of vindictiveness. According to investigative reporter Greg Palast, however, the motivations…

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Taibbi: Secret and Lies of the Bailout



Taibbi: Secret and Lies of the Bailout (via Market Shadows)

  Source: Uploaded by user via Lisa on Pinterest   Taibbi: Secret and Lies of the Bailout Courtesy of Jesse's Cafe Americain This is a long piece from Matt Taibbi about the financial crisis and the bank bailout. It is under-reported, too often overlooked, and well worth understanding. I find it…

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Florida voters facing a long, long ballot in November – Tampa Bay Times


Florida voters facing a long, long ballot in November – Tampa Bay Times.

TALLAHASSEE — Brace yourselves, Florida voters: The election ballot you’ll see this fall is longer than ever.

It’s so long that voters will have to fill out multiple sheets with races on both sides, then feed those multiple pages through ballot scanners, one page at a time.

It’s a pocketbook issue, too: Some people who vote by mail will have to dig deeper and pay at least 65 cents postage and up to $1.50 to return their multipage ballots in heavier envelopes.

More than ever, county election supervisors say, people should vote early or request an absentee ballot to avoid predicted bottlenecks at the polls on Election Day.

“This is the longest ballot I can remember,” said Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark. “The voter who sees this ballot the first time may need smelling salts.”

The ballot will be chock full of choices, for president, U.S. Senate, Congress, the state Legislature, county offices and merit retention for judges, all the way down to city and county referendums.

But what may prompt some voters to rub their eyes in disbelief is the Legislature’s decision to place 11 proposed changes to the Constitution on the ballot, some of which appear in their entirety.

“They have really created a monster,” said Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Harry Sawyer Jr. in Key West.

Four amendments run on for hundreds of words, and are full of legalese such as this, on Amendment No. 5, dealing with the court system: “If the Legislature determines that a rule has been readopted and repeals the readopted rule, this proposed revision prohibits the court from further readopting the repealed rule without the Legislature’s prior approval.”

The Legislature has long criticized the Florida Supreme Court for rejecting some of its proposed amendments as misleading, which some Republican lawmakers view as an overreach by the judiciary.

In 2000, the court retroactively struck down a 1998 constitutional amendment on the death penalty, calling the ballot summary incomplete and misleading.

The court said legislators misled voters by replacing the term “cruel or unusual punishment” with “cruel and unusual punishment,” which it said was a “radical change” not explained to voters, 73 percent of whom approved the amendment.

As a result, the Legislature exempted itself from the 75-word limit that applies to citizen-sponsored ballot initiatives.

“It’s an effort by the Legislature, the body closest to the people, to ensure that voters have the right to vote on these amendments,” said Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity.

Corcoran said most voters will do their homework and know the amendments before they vote. But some election supervisors aren’t so sure.

“To understand these full-text amendments, you almost have to be a Harvard lawyer,” said Sharon Harrington, the Lee County elections supervisor in Fort Myers.

With all that verbiage, election supervisors predict a higher than usual rate of “drop-off,” as voters overlook state ballot questions altogether. If they do, they also may skip city or county ballot questions listed below the state questions.

“There is such a thing as voter fatigue,” Clark said. “You have that with any long ballot.”

Another factor making the ballot longer is a federal requirement that 13 counties must print ballots in English and Spanish because of their voting populations. The state’s two largest counties, Miami-Dade and Broward, must print ballots in English, Spanish and Creole.

Miami-Dade, which also has local elections in 14 cities, may publish a 10-page ballot — five pages, front and back — and an ad campaign will remind voters they can vote early or by mail. Voters can print a sample ballot online and check wait times at early voting sites.

“We want to educate voters because of the inevitability of long wait times,” said Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley.

All those ballot pages mean voters will need more time to vote.

“I’m beyond concerned,” said Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley. “The unknown variable is how long the voter is in the privacy booth. They can be there as long as they want to.”

Corley is adding brightly colored “voter alert” notices on business cards, utility bills and voter information cards issued by his office, urging people to request absentee ballots for the Nov. 6 election.

“Avoid lines and vote from the convenience of your home,” the notices tell Pasco voters.

So many ballot pages means more work for those box-shaped optical scan machines that “read” the results. That has elections officials bracing for another problem.

The boxes below those scanners can only hold so many pages, and they will have to be replaced a lot more frequently than usual.

“We’re going to have to stop periodically throughout the day and empty those bins and seal them,” said Harrington of Lee County. “It may hold up some people at the polls for a little while.”

Lee County voters have in the past been given a two-page ballot because of the county’s multitude of elections for single-purpose boards such as fire districts. This year’s ballot is four pages with choices on both sides.

Like most counties, Lee will send every registered voter a sample ballot. Harrington says people who want to vote on Election Day should fill out the sample ballot at home and bring it with them when they vote.

The cost for a Lee County voter to return an absentee ballot is 65 cents, the same as in Pasco and Pinellas counties.

Pinellas offers 14 ballot return sites throughout the county so that voters can return their mail ballots without buying stamps.

Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said the postage needed to return a mail ballot there is $1.50.

Elections officials don’t like to say it publicly, but they have agreements with the U.S. Postal Service to pay for postage due on ballot envelopes.

For the first time, Hillsborough is prepaying the postage for all of its six-page mail ballots, as a convenience to voters. The cost is about $105,000.

Deirdre Macnab of Winter Park, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, said the length of the ballot may make legislators regret their decision to reduce the number of early voting days from 14 to eight. The group challenged the decision in court.

Oakland Politics: The Green Party Rises In Post-Occupy Oakland


Occupy Oakland has given rise to a party that, for a long time, seemed almost dead in Oakland: The Green Party.

Oakland Politics – or to be clear, politics in Oakland, California – has always been marked by wild, turbulent events and eras that left the city vastly different than it was before.  Arguably, this first started with the Civil Rights Movement and the emergence of the Black Panthers, which gave birth to a non-profit community watchdog tradition.  A habit reflected in the actions of organizations like OCCUR, for “Oakland Citizen’s Committee For Urban Renewal.”  Oakland now has a long history of politics as political dissent.  A history continued with the Occupy Movement.

Occupy Wall Street gave birth to it’s more militant brother, Occupy Oakland.  Occupy Oakland is a movement such that its proponents claim it’s not political, but one political group has flurished because of it: The Oakland Green Party, which had its campaign kick-off today in front of Oakland City Hall.

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For the first time in some years, The Oakland Green Party presents more than one or two people running for office in Oakland. The Greens have four candidates: Theresa Anderson will run for the Oakland City Council At-Large Seat currently held by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan; Donald McCleay, who ran for Mayor of Oakland in 2010, is running for the Oakland City Council District One Seat; Randy Menjivar is taking on Oakland City Council President Larry Reid in District Seven; Vicente Cruz II is running for the Oakland School Board District Three Seat.

The Oakland Green Party circa 2012 is supportive of the basic idea of the Occupy Oakland Movement, and wants to channel its more constructive message of helping those who need assistance into a more supportive urban policy.  That’s certainly clear in the message of Ms. Anderson, who says her reason for running is her concern for Oakland’s youth and her assertion that not enough is being done to make Oakland a healthy place for them.   That’s a platform that could work for the long-shot candidate, who’s going up against a person, Kaplan, who has made running for office an art form, and ran for Mayor of Oakland in 2010, coming up third place in a close race defined by Rank Choice Voting.

Where the Oakland Greens go in 2012 will be marked by how well Theresa Anderson does.  If she can stir the kind of grass roots excitement the Occupy Oakland Movement seems to have created, and is now looking for a candidate to back, she and the Greens could alter Oakland’s political course for some time.


Left to right; Vicente Cruz II, Thresa Anderson, Donald Macleay, Randy Menjivar..

Credits:

Beverly Rvas – Zennie62.com

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Staring At Empty Pages


Thursday 26 January 2012

by: William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed


Occupy Wall Street protesters in Zuccotti Park in October 2011. The movement was not directly mentioned in President Obama’s State of the Union address, but many themes were. (Photo: Ed Yourdan / flickr)

Staring at empty pages,
Centered ’round the same old plot,
Staring at empty pages,
Flowing along the ages…

– Traffic

The Occupy Wall Street movement should spend today doing a nice little victory lap, because it seemed for all the world like its members were ghost-writers on President Obama’s State of the Union speechwriting staff. Though he never directly mentioned the movement itself, Mr. Obama spent a great deal of time on Tuesday night underscoring many of Occupy’s most central themes: income inequality, tax fairness, and the need to rein in the illegal and immoral behavior of the nation’s largest financial institutions.

Talk is cheap, of course; despite all of Mr. Obama’s high-flown rhetoric, his administration is reportedly prepared to cut a disgracefully easy deal with the five banks most directly responsible for the financial meltdown, giving his so-pretty words a hollow ring:

Five banks – Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Financial (formerly GMAC)  -would pay the federal government $25 billion. About $17 billion would be used to reduce the principal that some struggling homeowners owe, $5 billion more would be used for future federal and state programs and $3 billion would be used to help homeowners refinance at 5.25 percent. Civil immunity would be granted to the banks for any role in foreclosure fraud, and there would be no investigations.

There are several reasons why this is could be a terrible deal. For one, the dollar amount is inadequate in relation to both the tremendous loss of wealth via mortgage fraud and the hefty balance sheets of these massive companies. Furthermore, the banks might be allowed to use investor money instead of their own funds – this makes the penalty even lower. Beyond all that: it’s extremely hard to justify the absence of investigations and punishment for mortgage fraud that was so widespread and so damaging to people’s lives.

There are also many other, more serious problems besides a lack of punitive action. The small amount of money – and the federal government’s recent inability to truly help underwater mortgage holders, of which there are currently 11 million – means that the victims of mortgage fraud might not see enough relief. And perhaps most importantly, with no real punishment for widespread damaging fraud, what are the incentives on Wall Street not to engage in similarly destructive practices once again?

As the world rises up against economic injustice, Truthout brings you the latest news and analysis, free of corporate influence. Help support this work with a tax-deductible donation today.

Yeah, kind of makes Mr. Obama’s proposed Financial Crimes Unit seem like drovers sent out to catch the horses three years after the barn door was left open, doesn’t it? The hope of getting justice for the crimes that brought down the economy has been feeling more remote with each passing day – if there ever was any real hope to begin with – and the soft plea about to be copped by the worst offenders appears to sound the death knell for any such action. Funny how that part didn’t find its way into the speech. “We’ll get ’em from now on,” seems to be the theme.

Sure you will.

Still, I suppose fluffy rhetoric has its place in any speech, especially a straight-up campaign speech like this one. It certainly did Mitt Romney no favors. His campaign has all the timing skills of a bad comic on open-mike night; by releasing his tax returns on the doorstep of the State of the Union, thus revealing his extravagant income, off-shore financial havens and amazingly low tax rate, Romney became the poster-child for everything the president was talking about on Tuesday night. This will serve the president’s re-election campaign well in the general election, but Mr. Romney still has a Gingrich problem to solve before he gets there. The Florida GOP primary is five days away, Romney’s once-epic lead there has dwindled to practically nil…and if he loses that one, the stench of panic emanating from RNC headquarters will be palpable.

So, sure, words have their place, especially in politics.

Not everyone out there is talking without doing, however.

A few nights ago, Jacob Burris, the campaign manager for Arkansas Democratic Congressional candidate Ken Aden, came home to find the family cat dead in front of his house, its skull crushed, its eyes hanging out of their sockets, with the word “LIBERAL” scrawled on its body. Mr. Burris’ four children were with him when he made the grisly discovery.

Kermit Womack, a talk show host for radio station KURM in Arkansas, has been releasing the addresses of political opponents he doesn’t like over the air. While no firm, direct link has been established, it can be assumed that someone decided to take violent action after the location of Mr. Burris’ home went out over the air. It was a cat, this time…but given the gruesome nature of the act, Mr. Burris must correctly be wondering if it could have been one of his children.

Not everyone out there is talking without doing, you see. The best lack all integrity, the poet said, while the worst are filled with passionate intensity. It will take more than empty pages to counteract the hatred, violence and extremism that is sweeping across this nation.

Take note, Mr. President. Note it well.



This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.




William Rivers Pitt

William Rivers Pitt is a Truthout editor and columnist.  He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: “War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know,” “The Greatest Sedition Is Silence” and “House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America’s Ravaged Reputation.” He lives and works in Boston.

Occup Wall Street Drops Eviction Lawsuit


‘Occupy Wall Street’ drops eviction lawsuit


“Occupy Wall Street” protesters dropped on Tuesday their two month lawsuit against New York City over the group’s eviction from Zuccotti Park. The National Lawyers Guild, representing the protesters, said the decision stemmed from private security removing the barricades surrounding the park two weeks ago. The park’s owner, Brookfield Properties,…

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Police drag Occupy activists from Santorum event


Police on Monday physically dragged several Occupy Tampa protesters from an event with Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum and cited them for trespassing. One of the men had thrown glitter at the candidate as he was he was giving his closing remarks. WESH cameras caught a man in a suit…

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Occupy DC faces no-camping clampdown ‘very soon’


WASHINGTON — The National Park Service (NPS) said Tuesday it will “very soon” clamp down on a Washington offshoot of Occupy Wall Street that pitched camp near the White House nearly four months ago. Testifying on Capitol Hill, NPS director Jonathan Jarvis defended his federal agency’s decision to tolerate open-ended…

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Director of National Park Services defends right of ‘Occupy DC’ protesters


Jonathan Jarvis, Director of National Park Services, explained to Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) on Tuesday why the “Occupy DC” protesters had a constitutional right to camp out 24 hours a day. His comments came during a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee hearing regarding the the “Occupy” protesters in Washington,…

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TARP pay czar caved on executive pay limits, bonuses


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Pressure from financial institutions and Treasury officials undermined an effort to limit executive pay at seven companies rescued with taxpayer money, a new government audit showed on Tuesday. The official overseeing executive pay for bailout firms limited cash compensation and made some reductions in pay, but still…

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Romney to protesters: ‘Take a hike’


At a campaign event in Florida Sunday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tried to get tough with a group of Occupy Wall Street protesters, telling them to “take a hike.” While speaking in Ormond Beach, the candidate found himself being “mic checked,” a phrase Occupy Wall Street protesters often use…

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‘Occupy London’ vacates building after brief stay


Anti-capitalist protesters of the ‘Occupy London’ movement have vacated a building in the city’s financial district less than a day after entering it, they said on Sunday. ‘Occupy London’ activists entered the abandoned nine-storey Roman House building — formerly used by finance companies — in the Barbican arts and conference…

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‘Occupy London’ protesters take over new building


Anti-capitalist protesters said Saturday they have taken over a large building in the City of London financial district. ‘Occupy London’ activists entered the nine-storey Roman House building in the Barbican earlier this morning, the group announced. “Occupy London this morning publicly repossessed Roman House, an abandoned nine-storey office building in…

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Portland, ME calls for end to corporate personhood


The city of Portland, Maine joined other cities across the nation in supporting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing corporate personhood. The Portland City Council voted 6 to 2 in support of a nonbinding resolution calling on Maine’s congressional delegation to support such an amendment, according to the Portland…

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Romney scolds protester for asking about the 99 percent


Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took a page out of the Chris Christie playbook on Thursday and berated an Occupy Wall Street activist for asking him how he would support less-wealthy Americans. Romney was signing autographs outside his campaign headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina when a man asked, “What will…

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