Sunday, September 29, 2013

Shredding of the Social Contract

A Bill Moyers essay on Pope Francis' recent statements on poverty, unemployment, and the global economy, "a system," the pope says, "that has at its center an idol called 'money.'"  

Similarly, Mr. Moyers cites U.S. statistics, along with the failure of the American government to take action on poverty and unemployment in the United States - even taking deliberate steps that directly increase poverty - as with the House of Representatives recently cutting aide to families on the Food Program.  More than 21 million Americans need full time work, with 46 million people living at or below the poverty line, while the number of elderly women living in extreme poverty in the U.S. is soaring, the majority of Americans have no ability to save, and with the exception of Romania, no other developed nation has more children living in poverty than the United States.
"Listen," says Mr. Moyers, "That sound you hear is the shredding of the social contract."  


Mr. Moyer's remarks follow on the heels of another interview with Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, discussing the urgency of climate action. (Mr. Naido can also be listened to here, speaking about the current plight of 30 Greenpeace activists in Russian custody upon protesting oil drilling in the Arctic.)

Comparing observations made by the pope and in the course of the conversation with Mr. Naidoo, Bill Moyers says, "Capitalism is like fire, a good servant, but a bad master.  If we don't dethrone our present system of financial capitalism that rewards those at the top who then use it to rig the rules against even the most reasonable check on their excesses, it will consume us, and that fragile, thin line between democracy and a darker social order will be extinguished."

Friday, September 27, 2013

Psychopaths and Sociopaths

Interesting video on a recent empathy study and its implications for the oft-discussed socio/psycho pathology believed common amongst CEOs.  I think they need to run this study with some real CEOs.  Then, perhaps, we can get to the next important question:  why are we allowing psychopaths and sociopaths to run the country and determine its future?

Wild Guess

A video from the national day of actions against the Keystone XL pipeline.  In Houston, residents went directly to the home of Les Cherwenuk, Keystone XL Project Director, who stepped outside to snap some photos.  Just a wild guess, that unlike the homeowner with a few things to say to him, Mr. Cherwenuk isn't planning any pipelines running underneath his own front yard or street ..


Khary Jackson performs When I Move at a park in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Free the Arctic 30 

Unarmed, non-violent Greenpeace activists forceably taken by Russian authorities in the Arctic are currently in jail in Russia, the captain and most of the crew now sentenced to two months pending piracy investigations. 
Activists scaled a Gazprom oil platform in the Pechora Sea as part of the Greenpeace Save the Arctic campaign launched over a year ago to protest destructive oil drilling scheduled to soon start in this environmentally fragile region.  Drilling is via agreements between the Russian state oil company Gazprom and Shell.  

Discussion of the situation below with Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo.  A twitter photostream here.


The Save the Arctic campaign has the global support of well over 4 million people. As of September 24th, more than 450,000 have written to Russian embassies demanding the release of the activists.


Via Popular Resistance, video below shows an anti-TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) protest on September 23rd at the office of the US Trade Representative in Washington, D.C.  More here and here.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

It's Not Illegal To Walk In The Street

 NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

The Guardian reports hundreds of CUNY academics signing a petition demanding all charges dropped against six CUNY students arrested during a protest against David Petraeus, his military record, and his presence teaching on their campus.  The petition also calls for the retired general to resign from his position at CUNY. 

Students have been demonstrating regularly against the militarization of their school, the return of ROTC and military recruiters, the hiring of the retired general to teach, and the naming of a building after Colin Powell. 

The six students were violently arrested by NYPD demonstrating outside a fundraiser Petraeus was attending.  While the students were charged with multiple offenses (e.g. disorderly conduct, riot, resisting arrest, obstruction of governmental administration), youtube videos show otherwise, with the police, instead, grabbing and throwing down protesters simply exercising their First Amendment rights to march and chant, and in one case, repeatedly punching a non-resisting individual as he lay on the ground.

The following video focuses on the repeated punches, in addition to other police conduct;  

More extended footage of the march in the following video;  as one non-violent protester says, "It's not against the law to walk in the street!"  She appears to be one of the arrested protesters shown in the photo above, Angelica Hernandez (see photo description/credit below).

The statement:
Six students were arrested in a brutal, unprovoked police attack during a peaceful protest by the City University of New York's students and faculty against CUNY's appointment of former CIA chief ex-General David Petraeus.  Students were punched, slammed against vehicles and against the pavement by police captains and officers, after the NYPD forced them off the pavement and onto the street.
As graduate students and educators of CUNY, we express our outrage at the violent and unprovoked actions by the NYPD against CUNY students peacefully protesting the appointment of war criminal David Petraeus as a lecturer at the Macaulay Honors College.  We deplore the use of violence and brutal tactics against CUNY students and faculty who were protesting outside the college.  It is unacceptable for the university to allow the police to violently arrest students.
We emphatically support the efforts of these CUNY students to resist the attempts by the U.S. government and the CUNY administration to turn the university into an infamous "war college" with the appointment of Petraeus.  Petraeus is responsible for countless deaths and innumerable destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan as a war commander and chief of the CIA.  Although resigning from his position as CIA director in November, Petraeus has continued his involvement in U.S. foreign policy.  Most recently Petraeus has called on Congress to back a military strike on Syria, stating "failure of Congress to approve the president's request would have serious ramifications not just in the Mideast but around the world."  His current roles as "adjunct" lecturer at CUNY and professor at USC speak to the increasing U.S. military and state security involvement within higher education.
We call on CUNY to terminate Petraeus' appointment and to ask for the charges against these students to be dropped immediately.

The UAW has released a similar statement including signatures from scores of colleagues and academics at other universities. 

Photo credit/via NY Daily News, photographer: Jefferson Siegel, "Four of the six students arrested Rafael Pena (from left), Angelica Hernandez, Denise Ford and Jose Disla and their lawyer, Lamis Deek, in Manhattan Criminal Court Wednesday."

Line In The Sand

Activists across the United States "drew a line in the sand" Saturday in 215 actions in 47 states calling upon President Obama to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.

A conversation about the event with environmentalist Bill McGibbon of


Just a few of the many tweets at #DrawTheLine:


Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner shares Tell Them. 



In violation of international law, and following the arrest of two Greenpeace activists scaling a Gazprom oil platform in the Arctic, Greenpeace reports (what is believed to be) the Russian security service SFB aggressively storming the Arctic Sunrise via helicopter and ropes, and after 11 warning shots were fired over the ship on Wednesday. Brandishing guns and knives, the group of men rounded up the 28 Greenpeace crew members on board, ordering them into the mess while holding the captain at gunpoint in the bridge.     

From ABC in Australia:
London-based Greenpeace campaigner Ben Ayliffe told Radio National that 30 people were arrested on board the ship.
"They had people marched out and laid on the deck at gunpoint," he said.
"They kicked their way into the bridge of the ship, they kicked their way into the radio room, so it was pretty hairy stuff.
"We've had 30 people on board have been arrested, we've just heard, and the captain has just been charged with some pretty serious offences: terrorism, breaching a security zone, attempting to take over an oil platform and undertaking illegal scientific activity."
At present, the two activists previously arrested are also now on board the Arctic Sunrise, bringing the total to 30, the boat now in tow to a Russian port.  

Greenpeace reports that the Arctic Sunrise was boarded in international waters outside Russian jurisdiction while the Russian authorities claim otherwise.

Safety Pod Used As Pretext For Aggression On Activists

Greenpeace reports using a big foam tube called "a safety pod" to shield activists from water cannons during environmental protest actions.  The pod interior measures 3 meters long by 2.2 meters wide (about the size of a Mini), is painted on the outside in bright colours, and was made following a public competition.  A pod tour in the following video:

Via Russian reports, the state oil company Gazprom - presently working with Shell to soon begin environmentally devastating oil drilling in fragile Arctic habitats - have described the safety pods as "resembling bombs," with this ludicrous description presumably a pretext for violently storming the peaceful ship of an organization known globally for 40 years as committed to non-violence.

You can send an email here to the Russian ambassador in London demanding that the Russian coast guard release the peaceful protesters immediately.  Or here to the Russian ambassador to the U.S.  At the time of this posting, 250,000 people have emailed the Russian embassy.
Some brief yet dramatic footage of the action:

Coverage via EuroNews:


From Video Media:

From South African news:


Some photos of global protest actions shared via twitter:


Photo credit/top, via Greenpeace, photo of the Arctic Sunrise. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I Won't Cry, I Won't Fear

Riots and protests are reported in over 26 cities in Greece in the wake of the murder of 34 year old anti-fascist rapper and metal worker Pavlos Fyssas, a.k.a. Killah P., by Golden Dawn neo-nazis on Tuesday evening.  More here.

nazis throwing stones - CopyAt least 70 arrests were reported in Athens; demonstrators hurled Molotov cocktails at the Golden Dawn offices in Patras and attacked Golden Dawn offices in Chania. In Amfiali, a suburb of Athens, nazis threw stones at the demonstrators without police intervention (photo left, via darker net).

Further coverage here from BBCHere from Huffpost.

One of Killah P's songs is I Won't Cry, I Won't Fear, in the youtube below.  A translation here via Darker Net.



Multiple actions were planned for s17, or the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street.

The Gothamist has a photo stream here, including pictures of a demonstration for a Robin Hood Tax with about 1,000 protesters in attendance. You may remember Robin and his merry men from Sherwood here in 2011 and mentioned here in Chicago in 2012.  More than 200 organizations were represented in that rally, calling on President Obama and Congress to support the Inclusive Prosperity Act, H.R. 1579, sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)  The AFL-CIO reports that the bill would "add a tax of a fraction of a percent on transactions done by Wall Street firms and stock traders. Along with raising significant revenue to fund vital domestic needs, a financial transaction tax would also reduce harmful financial market speculation, discourage high-volume, high-speed trading and slow down the proliferation of ever more complex derivatives."  

Footage of yet more protesting here:


Some news coverage at Liberty Square:


Looking back and forward with Democracy Now!, 


Several arrests including  New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, while expressing support for the Robin Hood tax,


as well as this lawyer while simply standing on the sidewalk by the square,


From twitter:

Photo credits/top, Gothamist, photographer: Scott Lynch, Robin Hood Tax demonstrators on s17 in New York City/bottom, via Gothamist Senator Brad Hoylman arrested while demonstrating for the Robin Hood tax.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pechora Sea

Two Greenpeace activists scaled a Gazprom oil platform in the Russian Arctic in an attempt to stop the first world oil drilling in the Arctic and Pechora Sea.  

Greenpeace Argentina reports that, at 4:30 A.M. Moscow time, September 18, 2013, five of the environmental group's famed rubber boats departed from the Greenpeace flagship, Arctic Sunrise, heading for the oil platform Prirazlomnaya.  One boat was stopped by the Russian coast guard, at which point, two activists were arrested.  The coast guard sent more personnel who then demanded to board the Arctic Sunrise "for an inspection."

Meanwhile, other boats managed to make it to the rig, at which point, two other activists began their climb, intending to board and stay there as long as possible.

At the time of this posting, and the last report via Greenpeace Argentina on twitter, the activists appeared to have completely scaled the rig and the Arctic Sunrise was still in the area as a support ship, with the coast guard still demanding to board "for an inspection."

Sini Saarela, a Greenpeace activist who scaled the same platform a year ago, emphasized the imminent danger posed by oil drilling in the Arctic, and in a highly fragile and unique ecosystem that is home for polar bears and many other species.  

"[...] I went into action," she said, "to draw a line in the ice and just tell the oil companies."

 Greenpeace Campaign to make the arctic a global sanctuary

The Russian state oil company Gazprom plans to operate the Prirazlomnaya platform during the first quarter of 2014, dramatically increasing the risk of oil spills in an area containing three nature reserves protected by Russian law .

The company recently signed an agreement with Shell to drill oil in the Russian Arctic. Mauro Fernandez, a member of the Greenpeace Arctic campaign, said that Shell is now considered one of the most negligent companies in the industry, already having made grave errors working in the region and taking advantage of weak Russian regulations.  

"The oil companies are running out of options," he said, "and desperate to squeeze every last drop of oil on the planet, regardless of the consequences.  We cannot allow this to happen." 

On Shell:


Greenpeace launched the Save the Arctic campaign over a year ago, and already has the support of 4 million people globally in demanding that the uninhabited area around the North Pole is declared a protected region by the United Nations, banning oil drilling and industries destructive to that location.

On twitter, Greenpeace Argentina said, "They can arrest us, but they cannot stop us.  Save the Arctic.  There are 4 million of us."  The campaign is passing this petition, asking for more signatures to declare a global sanctuary in the Arctic.

Photo credit/bottom, The Guardian, photographer:  Denis Sinyakov/Reuters, Greenpeace activist in a polar bear suit during a Red Square protest in Moscow, as part of the Save the Arctic campaign launch.

Editor's Update, 9/18/2013:  Greenpeace reports the activists who climbed the rig arrested on the platform and now held on the coast guard vessel.  More in the tweets below:

More here from Greenpeace International, the organization confirming that 11 shots were fired across the vessel Arctic Sunrise.  Ben Ayliffe, head of Greenpeace International’s Arctic oil campaign says,

“Employing this level of force against a peaceful protest ship is completely disproportionate and should stop immediately. It’s clear that oil companies receive special protection from the Russian authorities, who seem more interested in silencing peaceful activists than protecting the Arctic from reckless companies like Gazprom. 
“Let’s be absolutely clear about this: the real threat to the Arctic comes not from Greenpeace International but from oil companies like Gazprom that are determined to ignore both science and good sense to drill in remote, frozen seas.”

Editor's update, 9.19.2013:

Greenpeace activist Camila Speziale is now released and has posted an account of incidents here.  A slideshow of the Greenpeace Gazprom action here where you can see one individual brandishing a knife at the activists, and another holding them at gunpoint.

At this time, according to information shared on twitter, two other activists are still in Russian custody, with the Arctic Sunrise around the same location.  Authorities have stopped demanding boarding "for an inspection."

Greenpeace Argentina has released the following video on the Gazprom action.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Million Mask March

Anonymous announces a November 5th 2013 Million Mask March in Washington D.C. and major cities throughout the United States and the rest of the world.  More here on CNN. 

There's a Million Mask March blog here, Facebook page here, and website here with a map of locations here.

As for video announcements, searching youtube, I found tens of thousands already posted.  Here are a random few (one and two and three), with the National Mall reportedly the gathering place for those heading to the U.S. capitol.

Photo credit/top, Wikipedia, photographer: Jonathan Mauer , Guy Fawkes mask at Occupy Protest in Buenos Aires Argentina October 15, 2011.