Press**Watch: Creating space for revolution

Headlines:

Havana, Aug 10 (RHC)- The Chilean government said that 396 people were arrested and 78 wounded during demonstrations on Tuesday, in which some 500 Chileans demanded a better education system.

Vice Minister of the Interior Rodriguez Ubilla said that the 78 wounded included 55 riot police officers and 23 civilians.

Meanwhile, the president of Chile’s University Student Federation Camila Vallejo said that the protestors will wait for a governmental response to their demands with a schedule of demonstrations and she announced the collection of signatures to call a referendum that defines the future of education in Chile.

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This reminds me of my own experience at a protest in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  This is from my blog here at KBOO.fm:

Black pressed suit, shiny shoes, a big expensive camera held in my face, a sneer. Click.  Sneer. It's good to know that the world's secret police keep their traditions alive.

I was entering the Plaza Mayo to join the protest after watching wave after wave of people pass, waving giant banners against police repression and identifying their respective groups--Students Against Repression, Workers United, Maoists of some stripe, various organizations of leftists and human rights activists from local and nearby communities--bigger than anything I've ever seen in Portland, almost as big as a national march on Washington DC, thousands, people pounding drums, with sound trucks, distributing newspapers, singing, dancing, and as they entered the square, setting off loud fireworks rockets that just about had me bleeep my pants. 

No one was running, though, so I stayed put for a bit.  Ani got some great photos of the whole affair. At some point we were both weeping with joy and sorrow, an overwhelming emotion, in response to observing the honest and fearless expression of solidarity and democracy, so unlike anything we have here.  So different.  The cops are not nearly as present as at a relatively tiny US or Portland protest, though they have made their presence known with their obnoxious water cannon truck and, of course, with Mister SneerCam.

What's more, the local television station is covering the protest live, even now as I return to my hotel room.  Apparently the cops in Jujuy province decided they would please the bankster class by shooting up a crowd of squatters, a few days ago, and I've been wondering how Argentines would respond.  Well, they have acquitted themselves well.  I thought of the damned police snipers that show up on top of the Nordstrom building now and then, when we have some harmless tiny protest against a cop shooting, and how they would have responded to that BOOM BOOM of the fireworks announcing the triumphant return to the Casa Rosada Square of the throngs of marching indignant Argentinos.  They would have shot a hundred dead, I'll bet. 

You should have seen the kids passing spray paint cans to each other has they decorated the march route.  You should have seen the determination and bravery on those thousands of faces. The street vendors who set up smoking and steaming tables of roasted meats and vegetables.  The next person who tries to tell me we have democracy in the United States is going to have to put up with some deafening screaming.

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from Third Age:

Workers at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant discovered a radioactive hot spot far more lethal than anything previously recorded at the facility, the plant's owner told CNN on Tuesday.

The highest level reported in the days following the disaster was 400 millisieverts. But the reading at the base of a ventilation tower between the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors Monday afternoon was 10,000 millisieverts per hour. According to Tokyo Electric Power Company, 10,000 millisieverts per hour is high enough that exposure to the radiation for 60 minutes could kill a man or woman within weeks, CNN reports.

A U.S. expert explained to CNN that radioactive particles most likely concentrated in that area in the first days of the disaster, as plant operators tried to vent the damaged reactors.

Gary Was, a nuclear engineering professor at the University of Michigan, told CNN that the location of the hot spot suggests that radioactive material was filtered from air and steam released to relieve pressure inside the reactors during the meltdowns.

"As they were venting, either intentionally or unintentionally, the building air was being sent through filters," Was said. Those filters may have been concentrating radioactive particles "into one spot," he said.

In response to the discovery, Tokyo Electric immediately cordoned off the area and is investigating the cause of the radiation and how it will affect the recovery work, company spokesman Naoki Tsunoda told CNN.

None of the workers who made the discovery have been injured, the company said.

According to CNN, Tokyo Electric says it expects to fully wind down the crisis at the plant sometime between October and January.

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At the start of the last stock market panic in '08, the Baltic Dry Index, which measures shipping volume throughout the world, stood at nearly 12,000.  It dropped precipitously after that.  Now that the second dip of the New Depression has arrived, the Baltic shows activity at around 1,200 --one tenth of the activity of three years ago.  Worldwide shipping is a tenth of 2008, the Treasury has been looted by the trillions for the Goldman banksters,  the workforce is already cut back to the point of twenty percent real unemployment, and once again the bridge is out.


Daniel Drezner, writing in Foreign Policy, says in this excerpt that this double dip reminds him of 1931:
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1)  U.S. government debt got downgraded by Standard & Poor;

2) Global equity markets are freaking out;

3) The eurozone appears to be unable to solve its sovereign debt problem

4) London Britain is burning;

5) The Chinese are pissed that they appear to be underwriting downgraded, debt-ridden train-wrecks... and this is on top of being pissed about their own train wrecks.

This all sounds very 2008, except that it's actually worse for several reasons. First, the governments that bailed out the financial sector are now themselves the object of financial panic and political resentment. Second, the tools used to try and rescue the global economy in 2008 are partially to blame for what's happening right now. Despite all the gnashing of teeth about the Fed twiddling its thumbs, it's far from clear that a QE3 would actually stimulate anything besides a rise in commodity prices.

With both Europe and the United States unable to stimulate their economies, and China seemingly paralyzed into indecision, it's worth asking if we are about to experience a Creditanstalt moment.

The start of the Great Depression is commonly assumed to be the October 1929 stock market crash in the United States. It didn't really become the Great Depression, however, unti 1931, when Austria's Creditanstalt bank desperately needed injections of capital. Essentially, neither France nor England were willing to help unless Germany honored its reparations payments, and the United States refused to help unless France and the UK repaid its World War I debts. Neither of these demands was terribly reasonable, and the result was a wave of bank failures that spread across Europe and the United States.

The particulars of the current sovereign debt crisis are somewhat different from Creditanstalt, and yet it's fascinating how smart people keep referring back to that ignoble moment. The big commonality is that while governments might recognize the virtues of a coordinated response to big crises, they are sufficiently constrained by domestic discontent to not do all that much.

So... is this 1931 all over again?

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Consider this, from David DeGraw  writing in global research:

The Census Bureau poverty rate is a horribly flawed measurement that uses outdated methodology. The Census measures poverty based on costs of living metrics established in 1955 – 56 years ago. They ignore many key factors, such as the increased costs of medical care, child care, education, transportation, and many other basic costs. They also don’t factor geographically-based costs of living. The National Academy of Science measure, which gets little if any corporate media coverage, gives a much more accurate account of poverty, as they factor in these vital cost of living variables.

The most current Census data revealed that 43.6 million Americans, 14.3% of the population, lived in poverty in 2009. While that is a staggering number, that represents the highest number of American people to ever live in poverty, and a dramatic increase of four million people since 2008, it significantly under-counted the total. Last year, ...], extrapolating data from 2008 National Academy of Science findings,... the number of Americans living in poverty in 2009 was at least 52 million [20]. Recently, the National Academy of Science released their latest findings, ...revealing that 52,765,000 [21] Americans, 17.3% of the population, lived in poverty in 2009.

The poverty rate for children is even worse. According to Census data, a total of 15.5 million [22] American children lived in poverty in 2009, which is 20% of all children. The number of children in poverty increased 28% since 2000, and jumped 10% from 2008 to 2009. Extrapolating data from the 2009 National Academy of Science poverty rate, in relation to the Census childhood poverty data, the number of American children living in poverty in 2009 is more accurately 18.8 million, which is 24%, or nearly one in four.

Other than this rapidly increasing number children who are in families that have recently fallen into poverty, “every day in America 2,573 babies [22] are born into poverty.”

As the chart to the right shows, even with the lower Census numbers, nine major American cities have a poverty rate over 25%.

It is important to note, based on many key indicators, ... the overall poverty totals have increased since 2009. Also consider that the recent deficit reduction plan is going to cut “anti-poverty” programs that currently assist tens of millions of Americans. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research estimates that “the poverty rate would double [23] without these programs.” It is predicted that the new deficit deal will cut the funding for these programs in half ........

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For another revealing statistic, which has been quickly increasing, we can look at the number of Americans currently surviving off of food stamps. In 2005, 25.7 million [25] Americans needed food stamps, currently 45.8 million people [26] rely on them. As the chart to the right shows, the number of people in need of food stamps has been rapidly increasing year-over-year.

Meanwhile, Congress is cutting the funding [27] for the food stamp program at a time when the Department of Agriculture estimates that an additional 22.5 million [28] people will need them, bringing the total number of Americans in need of food assistance to a stunning 68.3 million people.

III :: Record Breaking Unemployment

While the “official” unemployment rate hovers around 9%, 14 million people, the government’s numbers are deceptively low once again. The only reason unemployment has stayed below 10% for the past few months is because millions of long-term unemployed, and part-time workers who are looking for full-time work, are not included in the baseline government unemployment rate. John Williams, from ShadowStats.com [29], has a consistently proven method of tracking unemployment that provides a much more accurate view of the overall situation. As shocking as it may sound, when you apply his SGS method, counting the total number people in need of employment, you get a current unemployment rate of 22.5%, which is an all-time record total of 34 million people currently in need of work. Here is how the SGS rate is calculated:

“The seasonally-adjusted SGS Alternate Unemployment Rate reflects current unemployment reporting methodology adjusted for SGS-estimated long-term discouraged workers, who were defined out of official existence in 1994. That estimate is added to the BLS estimate of U-6 unemployment, which includes short-term discouraged workers.

The U-3 unemployment rate is the monthly headline number. The U-6 unemployment rate is the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) broadest unemployment measure, including short-term discouraged and other marginally-attached workers as well as those forced to work part-time because they cannot find full-time employment.”

 

On top of these shocking figures, the labor force participation rate, which measures the percentage of the total population currently working, has fallen to a 27-year low of 63.9%.

 

Currently, an all-time record 6.3 million [30] people have been unemployed for over six months. As the chart to the right shows, the average time it takes for a person to find a job has also just hit an all-time high of 40.4 weeks [31].

As companies continue to downsize and shift jobs overseas, unemployment is once again accelerating. Private-sector job cuts in July surged 60% to a 16-month high [32]. When accounting for population growth within the total labor force, from December 2007 to present, we have lost 10.6 million [33] jobs.

With the implementation of state and federal budget cuts, public-sector unemployment is accelerating as well. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, since August 2008, state and local governments have cut 577,000 [34] jobs. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that cuts in the new deficit deal will lead to an additional 1.8 million [24] job losses.

Of the new jobs that have been added in 2010, 60% [35] of them are in low-wage fields. Since December 2007, the official unemployment rate has masked the fact that 2.8 million [35] of the news jobs created have been part-time jobs.

Breaking down the data, over the last 12 months [36], the National Employment Law Project found that well-paying jobs are rapidly decreasing, while low-paying jobs are helping to mask an increasingly dire employment crisis:

· Lower-wage industries constituted 23% of job loss, but fully 49% of recent growth
· Mid-wage industries constituted 36% of job loss, and 37% of recent growth
· Higher-wage industries constituted 40% of job loss, but only 14% of recent growth

While the cost of living from 1990 – 2010 increased by 67%, worker income has declined. According to the most recent available IRS data, covering the year of 2009, average income fell 6.1%, a loss of $3,516 per worker, that year alone. Average income has declined 13.7% from 2007 – 2009, representing a $8,588 [37] loss per worker.

 

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Meanwhile, take official  statistics with a grain of salt.  This is from Project Censored:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced in March that the economy produced 192,00 new jobs, so the unemployment rate dropped to 8.9%. This was reported everywhere by corporate media claiming that this is a turning point in the U.S. economy and a sign that our economy is becoming self-sustaining. According to Shadowstats.com, there is no sign of an increase in employment rates and the opposite is actually occurring. John Williams from Shadowstats.com, states that the government overestimates job growth by 230,000 jobs a month, so the unemployment statistics are very misleading. One reason for the misleading unemployment statistics is due to the Birth Death Model, which has to do with the birth and death of companies. The Birth Death model overestimates the number of jobs created when a new company is started, but doesn’t subtract the number of employees that lose their jobs when a company goes out of business. There have been multiple stories in independent news media that have reported on the increase of job loss and higher unemployment rates. Shadowstats.com states that the true unemployment rate is 22.1% if the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated unemployment rates the same as they did in 1994.

Title: Unemployment Rate: Flying Blind
Author: Greg Hunter
Source: USA Watchdog, March 9, 2011

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So, given those statistics, the question is, when will the London riots arrive here?

 

Laurie Penny, writing in Alternet, says:

Most of the people who will be writing, speaking and pontificating about the disorder this weekend have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a community where there are no jobs, no space to live or move, and the police are on the streets stopping-and-searching you as you come home from school. The people who do will be waking up this week in the sure and certain knowledge that after decades of being ignored and marginalised and harassed by the police, after months of seeing any conceivable hope of a better future confiscated, they are finally on the news. In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:

"Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"

"Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."

Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere ‘’’

There are communities all over the country that nobody paid attention to unless there had recently been a riot or a murdered child. Well, they’re paying attention now.

Social order and the rule of law have broken down entirely. The city has been brought to a standstill; it is not safe to go out onto the streets. The looting and arson attacks have spread to at least fifty different areas across the UK, including dozens in London, and communities are now turning on each other, with the Guardian reporting on rival gangs forming battle lines. It has become clear to the disenfranchised young people of Britain, who feel that they have no stake in society and nothing to lose, that they can do what they like, and the police are utterly unable to stop them. That is what riots are all about.

Riots are about power, and they are about catharsis. They are not about poor parenting, or youth services being cut, or any of the other snap explanations that media pundits have been trotting out: structural inequalities, as a friend of mine remarked today, are not solved by a few pool tables. People riot because it makes them feel powerful, even if only for a night. People riot because they have spent their whole lives being told that they are good for nothing, and they realise that together they can do anything – literally, anything at all. People to whom respect has never been shown riot because they feel they have little reason to show respect themselves, and it spreads like fire on a warm summer night. And now people have lost their homes, and the country is tearing itself apart.

No one expected this. The so-called leaders who have taken three solid days to return from their foreign holidays to a country in flames did not anticipate this. The people running Britain had absolutely no clue how desperate things had become. They thought that after thirty years of soaring inequality, in the middle of a recession, they could take away the last little things that gave people hope, the benefits, the jobs, the possibility of higher education, the support structures, and nothing would happen. They were wrong. And now my city is burning, and it will continue to burn until we stop the blanket condemnations and blind conjecture and try to understand just what has brought viral civil unrest to Britain. Let me give you a hint: it ain’t Twitter.

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Riots aren't the only answer, and furthermore, riots are a handy excuse for increased repression by the government of, by, and for the billionaire class.  But there is an alternative:


On July 13, 2011, "Culture Jammers HQ" at Adbusters issued a call to action: Occupy Wall Street! The goal stated is to gather 20,000 people to Wall Street, in New York, NY on September 17, 2011, beginning a popular occupation of that space for two months and more.  Inspired by the popular assemblies of Egypt, Spain, Oaxaca and worldwide, those gathered will work to find a common voice in one clear, unified demand.

This is why we've created OccupyWallSt.org.  Technology has made it easier than ever before for the people to stay in close contact and assist one another in acheiving a collective goal.  Our aim is to make these tools available so our users–the true organizers of this event–can make an occuptation of Wall St. successful.  We may not be able to teach a person to fish, or do it on their behalf, but we can build a damn good fishing pole.

But it isn't enough to simply make these tools freely available, they must also belong to the people.  So we've taken the time to release our work as an open source project.  This way others may use and build upon our work freely without any dependence on our leadership.

The sovereign people of any nation have the power, the right, and the duty, of guiding the destiny of their nation. Most just do not realize this. An organizer brings the process of realization.

Why occupy Wall Street? Because it belongs to us! Because we can!

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more:


On July 13th Adbusters’ Culture Jammers HQ at Adbusters issued a call to action which they are calling “Occupy Wall Street.” The gathering will be inspired by the Tahrir Square protests, as well as the popular assemblies that have been taking place in Spain, Greece, Oaxaca and elsewhere.

The July press release stated, “A worldwide shift in revolutionary tactics is underway right now that bodes well for the future,” then went on to quote Raimundo Viejo from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain:

The beauty of this new formula, and what makes this novel tactic exciting, is its pragmatic simplicity: we talk to each other in various physical gatherings and virtual people’s assemblies … we zero in on what our one demand will be, a demand that awakens the imagination and, if achieved, would propel us toward the radical democracy of the future … and then we go out and seize a square of singular symbolic significance and put our asses on the line to make it happen.

Occupy Wall Street considers Wall Street, ”the financial Gomorrah of America,” to be the best place to start this dance.

Culture Jammers HQ is hoping to inspire 20,000 Americans to congregate on Wall Street and shine a spotlight on the corporate corruption of America politics.

As OccupyWallSt.org states, “The sovereign people of any nation have the power, the right, and the duty, of guiding the destiny of their nation. Most just do not realize this. An organizer brings the process of realization. Why occupy Wall Street? Because it belongs to us! Because we can!”

[W]e want to see 20,000 people to flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand for radical and immediate change in a plurality of voices, following the example set by our Egyptian brothers and sisters in Tahrir Square.

The time has come to deploy this emerging stratagem against the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America. It’s time for DEMOCRACY NOT CORPORATOCRACY!

Quite rightly, this protest is aimed at highlighting the reality that American democracy no longer exists—it is, essentially, a gigantic stock market or gambling hall, in which influence is bought and sold by politicians, corporate executives and lobbyists.

Adbusters is also correct in their declaration that “cleaning up corruption in Washington is something all Americans, right and left, yearn for and can stand behind.”

Indeed, the viral sickness at the heart of American democracy is identifiable to people from many political ideological bases—liberal, conservative, anarchist, socialist, libertarian, etc. The only subset of people who are quite content with the current state of affairs is the annihilating force of corporatism.

Occupy Wall Street’s organizers believe that it could signal “the beginning of a whole new social dynamic in America.”

The demand? “A presidential commission to separate money from politics.” Would entrusting that to the president—especially one as transparently fake and traitorous as Barack Obama—accomplish anything at all? Probably not.

However, the start of a Tahrir Square-like or M-15 Indignado movement (which has formed popular assemblies) here in America, to show that we are not complacent cattle, is much desired by many.

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