Occupy Wall Street: Light From Above From the People Below
We began the month of May marking the Occupy Wall Street movement, now into its eighth month, whose connections to previous public outcries — perhaps a little of the 1932 “Bonus Army” or the “Resurrection City” encampment of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign — have similar DNA, and yet may be something else entirely. But what is Occupy Wall Street about? What ideology informs it and how are we to place OWS in the landscape of the turbulent activity of these times?
Might I be so bold as to suggest that the Occupy Wall Street movement is an answer to our prayer? Let me explain.
After the destruction of Sept. 11, through the long process of search, recovery and removal of rubble, all across the country, at school assemblies, Broadway plays, in churches, synagogues and mosques, we banded together and sang Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” with a new sense of urgency. Written nearly 100 years ago, not everyone knew the introduction Berlin wrote for it ends with, As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. But after 9/11, we sang this old song as a prayer, even those who didn’t claim a religion — practically all of us were praying. More…
Occupy Kensington is Born
It’s official: Despite very little advertising and competition from a beautiful rain-free evening, a dozen people gathered at a small park Saturday to launch a new chapter of the Occupy movement.
The event was organized by Eleanor Rodgers, a mom of two and doctor’s office receptionist, who wanted to find a vehicle to bring together longtime Kensington activists with new area residents with similar concerns, a merger that had already begun with the local movement to get the owners of Golden Farm to hand over unpaid backwages allegedly owed to workers of Golden Farm.
“I thought, if only we could create a forum to bring these people together. And at the Golden Farm protests I realized: here is the opportunity,” she said.
The twelve people who came to yesterday evening’s meeting in a tiny park at the corner of Vanderbilt and E. 5th streets, were exactly the mix she was hoping for.
“There were four older people who have lived in the neighborhood for 15 to 20 years—community-type people—and six people who were 30-and-under with no kids, who had done stuff with Occupy Wall Street,” she said. More…
June 6 Wisconsin: ‘Keep it in the streets’
Poor and working people across Wisconsin are mobilizing statewide for a historic June 5 gubernatorial recall election. Gov. Scott Walker is being challenged by Democratic candidate Tom Barrett, while Lieutenant Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is being challenged by Mahlon Mitchell, the African-American president of the Wisconsin Firefighters Association.
At the same time, people’s fighters from Occupy Wall Street, unions and independent organizations are organizing “Keep It in the Streets” actions to take place in cities statewide on June 6. (occupywi.org) For example, Occupy Milwaukee is sponsoring a rally at Pier Marquette Park in Milwaukee at 5 p.m., followed by a march to the banking district.
The June 6 call reads: “After voting on June 5 we have to make our voices heard in order to hold our governor accountable. Occupy Milwaukee, community allies and labor unions will march on June 6 to make the following demands of our governor: Repeal union-busting Act 10 — hands off unions and collective bargaining; no cuts to education or Badger Care [Wisconsin’s low-income health care program]; restore the Equal Pay Act — end workplace discrimination; tax the 1% — hold the banksters and the 1% accountable for their economic crisis; and stop the cuts to working and oppressed people.” More…
Hands Across Riverdale: The Human Costs of Fracking
Last February, residents of the Riverdale Mobile Homes Park, a neighborhood on the outskirts of a small city in rural Lycoming County, Pennsylvania with the unlikely name of Jersey Shore, noticed an article in Williamsport Sun-Gazette. Richard A. “Skip” Leonard, who owned the land on which the 32 unit trailer park was located, had agreed to sell his property. A few days later the residents got letters from Donna P. Alston, director of communication for Aqua America Corporation, informing them that their leases had been terminated “immediately.”
A few months before the property had been re-zoned as industrial. Aqua PVR LLC, owned by Nicholas DeBenedictis, who served as the head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources under Governor Dick Thornburgh in the 1980s, needed the small patch of land to build a pump station. The Susquehanna River Basin Commission had given Aqua America permission to withdraw up to 3 million gallons of water per day from the Susquehanna River to their fracking operations in the north, and the residents of Riverdale had been given a “generous” offer. Anybody who moved out by April 1 would be given a $2,500 incentive. Anybody who moved out by May 1 would be given $1,500. Since it would cost at least $5,000 to relocate each trailer, and since rents in nearby Williamsport had skyrocketed due to the recent influx of gas workers, it was the worst possible news. Some of the residents of Riverdale, who had lived there for decades, were elderly people in their 70s and 80s, and had little chance of finding work or new living accommodations. It was, quite literally, the end of their world. More…
Turkish women protest plans to curb abortion
ANKARA, Turkey — Thousands of demonstrators on Sunday staged the largest protest yet against plans by Turkey’s Islamic-rooted government to curb abortion, which critics say will amount to a virtual ban.
Around 3,000 women – their ages ranging from 20 to 60 years old – gathered at a square in Istanbul’s Kadikoy district. Some carried banners that read “my body, my choice” and shouted anti-government slogans.
Many of the women were accompanied by husbands and boyfriends. One young protester – her left fist clenched aloft – carried a placard that read “State, take your hands off my body,” while a man waved a slogan reading “My darling’s body, my darling’s choice.” More…
Hatikva protests may lead to civil rights movement
The decision by a group of Israeli Palestinian graduates at Hebrew University not to sing Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem, could be the beginning of an Israeli civil rights movement.
To Israel’s growing far right movement, not respecting Hatikva is an example of Arabs “denying Israel’s Jewish character.” For Israel’s Arabs, it’s a matter of principle and a rejection of Israeli policies where being non-Jewish makes them second class citizens.
The most recent protest took place at a graduation ceremony a few weeks ago at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a city at the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. At the end of the ceremonies, when Hatikva was being played, about a dozen Palestinian Israeli graduates and their families remained seated and refused to sing.
Israeli Jews expressed “shock,” but the incident reminds me of the movement that began in the United States by African Americans to protest the rampant discrimination that existed against black people. More…
Syria’s Turning Point – was this the week that the ‘protest’ changed?
The final week of May is the last week the Syrian conflict could be considered as something of an offspring of the Arab Spring. What started out as a protest in Derra is now, come the Houla massacre, a whole different warring ballgame, and something the international community, not least the Arab neighbors can no longer stomach without intervention. Was this the week that a protest game became something altogether uglier?
Not dissimilarly to Libya’s tyranny, and escalation, the nature of the Syria protest beast spilled into something far more sinister when the country’s leader staged an all-out war against his people, spawning civil divisions. In Syria, while the conflict looks to have consolidated along sectarian lines and could be termed civil war, some still see it as the war of a leader versus his own people rather than sectarian strife in and of its own inertia. And while a nation’s domestic politics including civil uprising can be dismissed as that nation’s own affair, a civil war or leader’s brutality cannot. More…