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marmar

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Two Occupys, and the New Global Language of Protest


from Dissent magazine:


Two Occupys, and the New Global Language of Protest
Ross Perlin ▪ March 30, 2015


City workers clearing Hong Kong's Occupy encampment, December 11, 2014 (Pasu Au Yeung)


In the fall of 2011, after two years in China, I came home to New York. Occupy Wall Street was at its height. Zuccotti Park, less than an acre of concrete in the city’s Financial District, was a teeming little universe of dissent and potential, more radically open and charged with life than any public space I’d ever seen. It changed you, just milling around and deliberating with people who, by and large, were straining toward the better angels of their nature. A thousand flowers, a hundred schools of thought: this was actually it. After the People’s Republic of China—which is neither the people’s, nor a republic—I was suddenly mainlining freedom, democracy, and diversity in what felt like an actual people’s republic, however short-lived and anarchic.

Tiny Zuccotti inspired a global archipelago of Occupy offshoots (including a small but long-lived encampment in Hong Kong), but Turkey’s Occupy Gezi and Hong Kong’s more recent Occupy movement mark an inflection point. Sustained, fiercely local mass movements are tapping into and extending a new global language of protest. Both in Turkey and in China, fearmongers and propagandists blamed malicious foreign influences for the protests, but the reality is less sinister and more significant. Occupy is serving as an open-source template for dissent, a transparent and adaptable playbook for organizing global movements with diverse aims and values. By turns autonomous and hyperconnected, the template is an uncanny fit for our precarious, plugged-in life.

In Hong Kong, the Occupy template provided a name and an initial strategy. Disrupt and take over a major financial district. Build a mass movement through nonviolence, savvy self-organizing, and radical chutzpah. The parallels multiplied in practice. Both youth-driven movements centered themselves on liberated urban space and drew strength from the authorities’ mistakes, winning mainstream sympathy. In both Hong Kong and New York, mainstream support was just becoming a possibility when the occupations came to an end. The occupiers mastered forceful, inclusive messaging on the biggest issue of the day: the tyranny of the elites—what Eli Friedman described in The Nation (comparing the two Occupys) as “the inability of anyone except the super-wealthy to have a voice in politics.” Each movement charted a viral trajectory, lasting in its most potent, concentrated form for just under an autumn. Neither “won,” but both reimagined activism in the heartlands of global capital.

The differences were just as significant. Instead of an explicit struggle against inequality in the name of the 99%, Hong Kong’s Occupy was a classic democracy movement, bourgeois-friendly, with calls for local autonomy and economic justice kept on the sidelines. By embodying horizontalist ideals and going for the economic jugular of global capitalism, Zuccotti became a symbol and a platform, as much a meme as a movement. On the other hand, occupiers everywhere can learn from the scale and sophistication of Hong Kong’s movement: its mass participation (which dwarfed New York’s), its clear and trenchant demands, its willingness to allow accountable coalition-style leadership, and its peaceful deployment of cultural and linguistic difference (as well as shared global signifiers) to articulate and carry on the struggle for democracy. ......................(more)

http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/occupy-hong-kong-wall-street-new-global-language-of-protest




Religious act has Chicago mayor wooing Indiana businesses


http://www.ibj.com/articles/52498-religious-act-has-chicago-mayor-wooing-indiana-businesses


Mayor Rahm Emanuel has asked Indiana businesses to consider moving to Chicago after Indiana's governor signed legislation that's been criticized over concerns it could foster discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Emanuel's office said Monday that the mayor sent letters to about a dozen businesses in Indiana. The letter cites Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the measure last week and defended it during a television appearance Sunday. The act prohibits state laws that "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs.

In the letter, Emanuel says the act is wrong and urges Indiana business owners to "consider Chicago as a place to move and grow." Emanuel writes that businesses can't "succeed in the global economy if you discriminate against your residents."

Competition for economic development isn't unusual between Indiana and Illinois. In 2011, Indiana erected “Illinoyed by higher taxes?” billboards near the state border after Illinois passed a major increase in corporate taxes.




Two Occupys, and the New Global Language of Protest


from Dissent magazine:


Two Occupys, and the New Global Language of Protest
Ross Perlin ▪ March 30, 2015


City workers clearing Hong Kong's Occupy encampment, December 11, 2014 (Pasu Au Yeung)


In the fall of 2011, after two years in China, I came home to New York. Occupy Wall Street was at its height. Zuccotti Park, less than an acre of concrete in the city’s Financial District, was a teeming little universe of dissent and potential, more radically open and charged with life than any public space I’d ever seen. It changed you, just milling around and deliberating with people who, by and large, were straining toward the better angels of their nature. A thousand flowers, a hundred schools of thought: this was actually it. After the People’s Republic of China—which is neither the people’s, nor a republic—I was suddenly mainlining freedom, democracy, and diversity in what felt like an actual people’s republic, however short-lived and anarchic.

Tiny Zuccotti inspired a global archipelago of Occupy offshoots (including a small but long-lived encampment in Hong Kong), but Turkey’s Occupy Gezi and Hong Kong’s more recent Occupy movement mark an inflection point. Sustained, fiercely local mass movements are tapping into and extending a new global language of protest. Both in Turkey and in China, fearmongers and propagandists blamed malicious foreign influences for the protests, but the reality is less sinister and more significant. Occupy is serving as an open-source template for dissent, a transparent and adaptable playbook for organizing global movements with diverse aims and values. By turns autonomous and hyperconnected, the template is an uncanny fit for our precarious, plugged-in life.

In Hong Kong, the Occupy template provided a name and an initial strategy. Disrupt and take over a major financial district. Build a mass movement through nonviolence, savvy self-organizing, and radical chutzpah. The parallels multiplied in practice. Both youth-driven movements centered themselves on liberated urban space and drew strength from the authorities’ mistakes, winning mainstream sympathy. In both Hong Kong and New York, mainstream support was just becoming a possibility when the occupations came to an end. The occupiers mastered forceful, inclusive messaging on the biggest issue of the day: the tyranny of the elites—what Eli Friedman described in The Nation (comparing the two Occupys) as “the inability of anyone except the super-wealthy to have a voice in politics.” Each movement charted a viral trajectory, lasting in its most potent, concentrated form for just under an autumn. Neither “won,” but both reimagined activism in the heartlands of global capital.

The differences were just as significant. Instead of an explicit struggle against inequality in the name of the 99%, Hong Kong’s Occupy was a classic democracy movement, bourgeois-friendly, with calls for local autonomy and economic justice kept on the sidelines. By embodying horizontalist ideals and going for the economic jugular of global capitalism, Zuccotti became a symbol and a platform, as much a meme as a movement. On the other hand, occupiers everywhere can learn from the scale and sophistication of Hong Kong’s movement: its mass participation (which dwarfed New York’s), its clear and trenchant demands, its willingness to allow accountable coalition-style leadership, and its peaceful deployment of cultural and linguistic difference (as well as shared global signifiers) to articulate and carry on the struggle for democracy. ......................(more)

http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/occupy-hong-kong-wall-street-new-global-language-of-protest




Is Rahm Emanuel Planning to Privatize Chicago’s Public Housing?


(In These Times) Chicago, long a pioneer of privatization, is poised to embark on a sweeping experiment with the city’s public-housing stock. The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) plans to court private investment in as much as half of its public-housing units through the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), a new federal program billed as a way to “revitalize” housing for the poor and address a $26 billion backlog in needed repairs.

But housing advocates around the country worry that RAD is just a prelude to privatization. RAD, approved by Congress in 2011, gives local housing authorities broad latitude to raise funds, including the ability to mortgage or sell public-housing buildings. Critics believes that if public housing is opened up to the vagaries of the mortgage market and the whims of private developers, large swaths of low-income housing could wind up in foreclosure, or become luxury condos once RAD’s affordability requirements expire.

Steven Knight, supervising attorney at the National Housing Law Project, says that the program’s “stated goals are very laudable” but “the devil is in the details–local housing authorities have to get these transactions right, and if they don’t, the consequences may be severe and long-lasting.”

So, will Chicago get it right? RAD arrives in the city as the CHA is already under fire for failing to spend millions of dollars earmarked for affordable housing while amassing at least $440 million in cash reserves, even as more than 280,000 people sit on its housing waitlist. These financial shenanigans were enabled in large part by the CHA’s deregulation in 2000 under now-Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s, who pushed to remove federal oversight of the housing authority’s budget as vice chairman of its board. ..................(more)

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17793/is-rahm-emanuel-planning-to-privatize-chicagos-public-housing




"Longing for 1984" with Chris Hedges (pts I & II)







Published on Nov 21, 2014

Zain Raza interviews Chris Hedges on a newly produced show called "Longing for 1984 " to discuss the interests that really dictate U.S policy both domestically and abroad, government surveillance globally and the role of activism.



Amazon Requires Badly-Paid Warehouse Temps to Sign 18-Month Non-Competes


from Naked Capitalism:


Amazon Requires Badly-Paid Warehouse Temps to Sign 18-Month Non-Competes
Posted on March 30, 2015 by Yves Smith


The Verge has broken an important story on how far Amazon has gone in its relentless efforts to crush workers. Despite its glitzy Internet image, Amazon’s operations depend heavily on manual labor to assemble, pack, and ship orders. Its warehouses are sweatshops, with workers monitored constantly and pressed to meet physically daunting productivity goals. Indeed, many of its warehouses were literally sweatshops, reaching as much as 100 degrees in the summer until bad press embarrassed the giant retailer into installing air conditioners. In Germany, a documentary exposed that Amazon hired neo-Nazi security guards to intimidate foreign, often illegal, hires it had recruited and was housing in crowded company-organized housing. Amazon also fought and won a Supreme Court case to escape compensating its poorly-paid warehouse workers for time they spend in line at the end of shift, waiting for security checks.

Amazon’s latest “keep workers down” practice is to make temps sign non-competes. Yes, if you are so desperate and foolish as to take a short-term gig with Amazon, you will be barred from working for virtually anyone else for the next eighteen months. Look at how incredibly broad the language is in the non-compete agreement obtained by The Verge (hat tip MF):

During employment and for 18 months after the Separation Date, Employee will not, directly or indirectly, whether on Employee’s own behalf or on behalf of any other entity (for example, as an employee, agent, partner, or consultant), engage in or support the development, manufacture, marketing, or sale of any product or service that competes or is intended to compete with any product or service sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon (or intended to be sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon in the future) that Employee worked on or supported, or about which Employee obtained or received Confidential Information.


Pray tell, what possible employers are not included, given how sweeping these terms are? A cleaning service? Nah, Amazon sells Roombas and vacuum cleaners, so you’d be competing indirectly with them. A receptionist in a dentist’s office? Nope, Amazon sells tooth whitening products. A massage therapist? No, Amazon sells electronic massage devices. Working as a gym? No, Amazon sells home exercise equipment. And note that this includes “intended to be old, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon in the future.” Amazon temps are precluded from competing with Amazon vaporware too. ..............(more)

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/03/amazon-requires-badly-paid-warehouse-temps-sign-18-month-non-competes.html




Anti-Wall Street Public Stands Behind a Resolute Elizabeth Warren


Elizabeth Warren is reminding the Democrats to show some backbone and not give in to Wall Street's threats to withhold funding to the Democratic National Committee and some national candidates. Why are the big banks trying to intimidate the Democratic Party? Because the most outspoken senator - Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) - is proposing that the big banks should be broken up.

Her reasoning is simple: The few banks that control most of the nation's money are not, as Obama officials often assert, "too big to fail." Warren argues that actually, they are too big not to fail.

A March 27 article from the Guardian provides the context to the threat:

Big Wall Street banks are so upset with Elizabeth Warren’s call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest, sources familiar with the discussions said.

Representatives from Citigroup, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have met to discuss ways to urge Democrats, including Warren and Ohio senator Sherrod Brown, to soften their party’s tone toward Wall Street, sources familiar with the discussions said this week.

Bank officials said the idea of withholding donations was not discussed at a meeting of the four banks in Washington but it has been raised in one-on-one conversations between representatives of some of them. However, there was no agreement on coordinating any action, and each bank is making its own decision, they said.


Will the withdrawal of Wall Street political contributions to the Democratic Party seriously impact elections? The answer is probably not. As The Guardian points out, "The amount of money at stake, a maximum of $15,000 per bank, means the gesture is symbolic rather than material."

Furthermore, the Wall Street bullying to make Democratic bigwigs tremble would not likely result in severe financial campaign contribution losses to the Dems. That is because a lot of Democrats in Congress are subservient to the interests of the big banks and financial institutions. Therefore, individual mega-rich bankers, millionaires and billionaires will give to individual Democrats who vote as Wall Street dictates in any case. ..............(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/elizabeth-warren-tells-wall-street-to-make-her-day-by-withholding-contributions-to-dems




Co-ops Enable Low-Income Women to Work as Owners and Decision Makers


Co-ops Enable Low-Income Women to Work as Owners and Decision Makers

Monday, 30 March 2015 00:00
By Eleanor J. Bader, Truthout | Report


Co-ops not only give low-income and immigrant women a way to enter an often unwelcoming - and in some cases, hostile - economy, but also give them a way to exert some control over their work lives and simultaneously support themselves and their families. They have consequently been some of the early adopters in the not-yet-critical-mass movement of worker-owned cooperative businesses that has begun to catch fire in towns and cities throughout the United States.

Melissa Hoover, executive director of the Democracy at Work Institute, estimates that there are presently between 300 and 400 worker-owned businesses operating domestically. The fledgling cooperative movement is diverse. There are co-op bakeries, catering companies, tortilla-makers and cafes; bike repair shops; taxi companies; dog-walking and cat-sitting services; and upholsterers. There are also worker-owned farms, elder- and child-care agencies, tutoring programs, and factory and construction businesses.

What's more, they run the gamut in terms of size. Some have just three to five members while the largest, Cooperative Home Care Associates in the Bronx, has 2,100. And while most involve both men and women, a growing number of all-women co-ops have been established as a way for low-income and immigrant females to earn a living.

According to Amy Johnson, co-executive director of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, the majority of established women's co-ops came together at the behest of an agency that then serves as mentor and facilitator. "Women frequently come to a social service organization needing jobs and child care and learn about co-ops from someone there," she said. "Sometimes they've seen another co-op in town, but that's unusual. People rarely know much about the co-op model." ................(more)

http://truth-out.org/news/item/29872-co-ops-enable-women-entrepreneurs-to-work-as-owners-and-decision-makers




Juan Cole: Israel’s Netanyahu jumps Shark with “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen” axis barb



By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, no longer allowed to sit at the adult table because of his past food fights, has been reduced, as Haaretz observed, to whining from the sidelines. Now he is complaining about an “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen” axis.

The negotiations between Iran and the P5 + 1 (the five permenent members of teh UN Security Council plus Germany) have come down to the wire. Diplomats want a final deal by close of business Tuesdays. Last minute complications have predictably arisen, but from all accounts a deal is plausible, though not yet a sure thing.

Any deal would limit Iran’s break-out capacity or ability to go for broke and produce a nuclear warhead (something its Supreme clerical leader, Ali Khamenei, says he doesn’t want, since weapons of mass destruction are illegal in Islamic law, which forbids killing non-combatants and innocents.) In return, Iran wants a removal of international economic sanctions.

Netanyahu opposes this deal because it would leave Iran with the right to enrich uranium and a distant break-out capacity. He wants Iran to be forced to mothball its uranium enrichment program entirely, a demand that is completely unrealistic short of a US invasion and occupation of that country (which is 2.5 times as populous as Iraq and much bigger geographically). ....................(more)

http://www.juancole.com/2015/03/israels-netanyahu-lausanne.html




Central Banks Warn: Liquidity May Evaporate When Investors Finally Remove Blindfolds


Central Banks Warn: Liquidity May Evaporate When Investors Finally Remove Blindfolds
by Wolf Richter • March 27, 2015


Companies are selling bonds like madmen. This year through Tuesday, investment-grade and junk-rated companies have sold $438 billion in new bonds, up 14% from the prior record for this time of the year, set in 2013, according to Dealogic. This quarter is already in second place, nudging up against the all-time quarterly record of $455 billion of Q2 2014.

About $87 billion of these bonds funded takeovers, a record for this time of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported. The four biggest bond sales in that batch were for healthcare takeovers, including the Actavis deal whose $21 billion bond sale was the second largest in history, behind Verizon’s $49 billion bond sale in 2013.

Actavis had received orders for more than four times the bonds available, according to CFO Tessa Hilado. “You don’t really know what the demand is until people start placing their orders,” she said. “I would say we were pleasantly surprised.”

Brandon Swensen, co-head of U.S. fixed income at RBC Global Asset Management, couldn’t “see anything on the radar that’s going to slow things down materially,” he told the Wall Street Journal. His firm expects rates to “remain low.”

All of the investors chasing after these bonds expect rates to remain low. Or else they wouldn’t chase after these bonds. If rates rise, as the Fed is promising in its convoluted cacophonous manner, these bonds that asset managers are devouring at super-high prices and minuscule yields are going to be bad deals. And their bond funds are going to take a bath.

But companies are selling bonds as if there were no tomorrow. They’re thinking that rates will not remain low. They’re trying to get these things out the door cheaply while they still can. They’re on a feverish mission to take advantage of these ludicrously low rates while they’re still available. And they use this cheap money to buy each other and to repurchase their own shares to pump up share prices and max out executive compensation packages, rather than investing it in productive activities. ................(more)

http://wolfstreet.com/2015/03/27/bond-market-liquidity-risk-central-bank-warnings/




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