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Occupy Offshoot Aims to Erase People’s Debts – NYTimes.com

14 Nov

The group, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement called Strike Debt, is trying to buy some of the debts that people have accrued — which lenders often sell for pennies on the dollar to third parties who either try to collect on it or bundle it up for resale. Strike Debt, however, is not looking to collect on them; instead it plans to give some debtors the surprise of a lifetime.

“Basically what we’re going to do is exactly the same as what a regular debt buyer would do, with one big difference,” said Thomas Gokey, an artist and teacher. “Rather than collect the debt, we’re just going to abolish it.”

via Occupy Offshoot Aims to Erase People’s Debts – NYTimes.com.

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Bailout ‘Of the People, By the People’ Exposes Bankers’ Greed | Common Dreams

12 Nov

The Occupy offshoot, Strike Debt, will hold a telethon and variety show called “The People’s Bailout” in New York on Nov. 15 to raise money for the cause. For pennies on the dollar ($32 for every $1), individuals or companies can buy distressed debt—including student loans and outstanding medical bills—from lenders if the borrower is either behind their payments or in default. Whereas traditional debt collectors then hound the debtor to pay up, the Rolling Jubilee is bunking the system by erasing the debt and, therefore, liberating the debtor.

via Bailout ‘Of the People, By the People’ Exposes Bankers’ Greed | Common Dreams.

Where FEMA Fell Short, Occupy Sandy Was There – NYTimes.com

10 Nov

On Wednesday morning, as the winds picked up and FEMA closed its office “due to weather,” an enclave of Occupiers was huddled in a storefront amid the devastation, handing out supplies and trying to make sure that those bombarded by last month’s storm stayed safe and warm and dry this time.

“Candles?” asked a dull-eyed woman arriving at the door.

“I’m sorry, but we’re out,” said Sofia Gallisa, a field coordinator who had been there for a week. Ms. Gallisa escorted the woman in, and someone gave her batteries for her flashlight. As she walked away, word arrived that a firehouse nearby was closing for the night; the firefighters there were hurrying their rigs to higher ground.

“It’s crazy,” Ms. Gallisa later said of the official response. “For a long time, we were the only people out here doing relief work.”

After its encampment in Zuccotti Park, which changed the public discourse about economic inequality and introduced the nation to the trope of the 1 percent, the Occupy movement has wandered in a desert of more intellectual, less visible projects, like farming, fighting debt and theorizing on banking. While several nouns have been occupied — from summer camp to health care — it is only with Hurricane Sandy that the times have conspired to deliver an event that fully calls upon the movement’s talents and caters to its strengths.

via Where FEMA Fell Short, Occupy Sandy Was There – NYTimes.com.

Raccoons Chase, Attack Washington State Woman – NYTimes.com

11 Jul

LAKEWOOD, Wash. (AP) — A Washington state woman says she was attacked and bitten by raccoons after her dog chased several of the animals up a tree.

Send that raccoon to Washington, D.C. There’s some politicians there that need its most solicitous and gnawing attention. And check out Pom Poko, a great Studio Ghibli film in which raccoons–well, not raccoons, they’re tanuki, Japanese raccoon-like dogs)–rebel against the destruction of their land. They institute guerilla warfare against the humans.

It could happen here! 

Note: The tanuki are shape-shifters. Rumor has it that Occupy Wall Street was started by tanuki.

via Raccoons Chase, Attack Washington State Woman – NYTimes.com.

Occupy Our Homes Saves Another Family From Foreclosure | The Nation

13 Jun

Occupy Our Homes, a movement to protect families from foreclosures and evictions, has enjoyed a recent string of successes. In February, the group helped Helen Bailey, the 78-year-old former civil rights activist who was threatened with foreclosure by J.P. Morgan Chase while the company trumpeted its efforts to uphold Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, to stay in her home following a successful campaign by Occupy Nashville.

The group also aided a Detroit husband and wife who spent months worrying they could be evicted from their home of twenty-two years. The couple received news they would be permitted to stay after an aggressive campaign that was led by members of Moratorium Now, Occupy Detroit and Homes Before Banks and included the family’s supporters blocking the contractor from placing a dumpster.

Additionally, Occupy Atlanta prevented the eviction of a family when two dozen protesters encamped on the family’s lawn, and Occupy Our Homes delayed another foreclosure in Rochester, as did Occupy Cleveland in November.

And more.

via Occupy Our Homes Saves Another Family From Foreclosure | The Nation.

Occupy the PGA

23 May

Do you have any idea how important golf is in the upper reaches of the corporate world?

Tomorrow, Wednesday the 23rd, is the first day of Occupy the PGA in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

If you need camping or hotel accomodations, do not hesitate to call Rev. Pinkney at 269-925-0001.

Occupy The PGA – Finalized Plans

Death March everyday: May 23-27 (big day: Sat. May 26)

We encourage protesters to wear all black if possible, everyday.

Arrive between 10 – 10:30am, Benton Harbor City Hall, 200 E. Wall St.

Sat. & Sun: Bring kites if possible.

Demonstrate in protest of land stolen by Whirlpool Corporation.

http://OccupyThePGA.wordpress.com Twitter HashTag #OccupyThePGA

An outline to fully understand the gravity of the Benton Harbor situation:

Outline of a Travesty

via Occupy the PGA.

10,000 March at Frankfurt Occupy Protest Rally – NYTimes.com

19 May

Occupy is alive and well in Frankfurt, Germany:

German police say some 10,000 activists are participating in a major rally of the local Occupy movement in Frankfurt.

Police spokesman Ruediger Regis said Saturday more protesters are still flowing into the city center of continental Europe’s biggest financial hub.

Organizers have said they expect some 20,000 protesters.

The protest group calling itself Blockupy denounces the power of the banks and what they perceive to be untamed capitalism. It has called for barring access to the European Central Bank, which is located in Frankfurt’s downtown business district.

via 10,000 March at Frankfurt Occupy Protest Rally – NYTimes.com.

The Third Party Fantasy – NYTimes.com

16 May

TnT’s not a Douthat fan, but he has some interesting remarks about the failure of Americans Elect to gain traction:

Successful third parties need dynamic, high profile leaders, and ideally deep-pocketed ones as well. But instead of a Bloomberg, the Americans Elect ballot had ex-Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer; instead of a Bayh or a Snowe, they had Laurence Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University. Kotlikoff has impressive policy proposals and Roemer has an entertaining Twitter feed, but neither is exactly the potential general election spoiler who could keep David Axelrod awake at night.

But the fault also lay with the project’s essential theory of what kind of third party contender disillusioned voters are pining to elect. From the (inarguable) premise that the public is wearied by the failures of the political and economic establishment, it leaped to the (preposterous) conclusion that the country is crying out for a presidential candidate who mostly represents the interests and values of exactly that same establishment.

Like the afore mentioned New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, a wealthy  centrist technocrat. To the contrary

 the most successful third party surges, from the William Jennings Bryan-era Populists down to Ross Perot’s 19 percent, usually arise from precisely the opposite impulse – a “plague on both your houses” populism that highlights issues and anxieties that the leaders of the two major parties have decided to ignore.

Such a populism has flowered over the last two years, but it’s mostly appeared on the right and left-wing fringes of the two parties rather than in the space between them — in the Tea Party’s backlash against bailouts and spending and in the Occupy Wall Street revolt against Wall Street’s political influence.

It’s possible to imagine a gifted political figure emerging to fuse elements from the Tea Party and O.W.S. critiques into a plausible third party challenge to politics as usual. But such a candidate would look nothing like Michael Bloomberg or any other high-minded Davos/Brookings type of technocrat. Instead, he or she would be more disreputable, more eccentric, and probably more demagogic as well. Such a candidacy (Pat Buchanan meets Ralph Nader) wouldn’t have to actually govern the country; instead, its purpose would be to jolt the two parties out of their usual habits and arguments and to persuade one or both of them to adopt some of its ideas.

via The Third Party Fantasy – NYTimes.com.

Dance to a Different Drummer: Groovology and Politics

14 May

Groovology, about the groove, the human groove, the dancing and music-making at the heart of human community and togetherness. A line of thinkers going back through Darwin and Rousseau argued that it’s music that made clever apes into human beings – and, wouldn’t you know? that connects to the apes, the rabbits, fish, bees, flowers and the earth as well. Because we sing and dance we are human. Groovology is lightness and joy, but also sorrow and healing. It binds us together in common action and feeling, in community.

What has that to do with politics?

Politics too is about community, about negotiating among that various needs and desires of people living in a group. When the group is small, the negotiations are face-to-face, as is grooving. When the group is small, groovology and politics are commensurate, their connection is obvious.

It is when the group gets large, very large, that the connection is obscured. The USofA is very large, our political leaders distant from the local places where we politic and negotiate. And yet there are obvious connections, still.

Politics is not all backrooms and stolen votes. Politics is also ceremony, and ceremony has music: Hail to the Chief, The Star Spangled Banner, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Washington Post March, Taps, and much else. Continue reading

Democracy Is for Amateurs: Why We Need More Citizen Citizens – Eric Liu – Politics – The Atlantic

12 May

Though not written as such, this excellent article is a brief for Transitioning and Politicking, for the connection between the local and the global.

The work of democratic life — solving shared problems, shaping plans, pushing for change, making grievances heard — has become ever more professionalized over the last generation. Money has gained outsize and self-compounding power in elections. A welter of lobbyists, regulators, consultants, bankrollers, wonks-for-hire, and “smart-ALECs” has crowded amateurs out of the daily work of self-government at every level. Bodies like the library board are the exception.

What we need today are more citizen citizens. Both the left and the right are coming to see this. It is the thread that connects the anti-elite 99 percent movement with the anti-elite Tea Party. It also animates an emerging web of civic-minded techies who want to “hack” citizenship and government.

Why is government in America so hack-worthy now? There is a giant literature on how interest groups have captured our politics, with touchstones texts by Mancur Olson, Jonathan Rauch, and Francis Fukuyama. The message of these studies is depressingly simple: democratic institutions tend toward what Rauch calls “demosclerosis” — encrustation by a million little constituencies who clog the arteries of government and make it impossible for the state to move or adapt.

This tendency operates in an accelerating feedback loop. When self-government is dominated by professionals representing various interests, a vicious cycle of citizen detachment ensues. Regular people come to treat civic problems as something outside themselves, something done to them, rather than something they have a hand in making and could have a hand in unmaking. They anticipate that engagement is futile, and their prediction fulfills itself.

And just HOW do we become citizen citizens?

The work of democratic life — solving shared problems, shaping plans, pushing for change, making grievances heard — has become ever more professionalized over the last generation. Money has gained outsize and self-compounding power in elections. A welter of lobbyists, regulators, consultants, bankrollers, wonks-for-hire, and “smart-ALECs” has crowded amateurs out of the daily work of self-government at every level. Bodies like the library board are the exception.

What we need today are more citizen citizens. Both the left and the right are coming to see this. It is the thread that connects the anti-elite 99 percent movement with the anti-elite Tea Party. It also animates an emerging web of civic-minded techies who want to “hack” citizenship and government.

Why is government in America so hack-worthy now? There is a giant literature on how interest groups have captured our politics, with touchstones texts by Mancur Olson, Jonathan Rauch, and Francis Fukuyama. The message of these studies is depressingly simple: democratic institutions tend toward what Rauch calls “demosclerosis” — encrustation by a million little constituencies who clog the arteries of government and make it impossible for the state to move or adapt.

This tendency operates in an accelerating feedback loop. When self-government is dominated by professionals representing various interests, a vicious cycle of citizen detachment ensues. Regular people come to treat civic problems as something outside themselves, something done to them, rather than something they have a hand in making and could have a hand in unmaking. They anticipate that engagement is futile, and their prediction fulfills itself.

Second, we need to radically refocus on the local. When…

Third, think in terms of challenges rather than orders….

Fourth, create platforms where citizen citizens can actively serve….

via Democracy Is for Amateurs: Why We Need More Citizen Citizens – Eric Liu – Politics – The Atlantic.