Downtown Los Angeles Occupy LA / Wall Street March 12-03-11

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Zinnia Jones: Common objections to boycotting the Salvation Army

Rep. Barney Frank On The “Radical Homosexual Agenda”

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Should Fair Trade Certify Giants Like Nestle and Folgers?

From Mother Jones:

By Tom Philpott
Tue Nov. 29, 2011

Just before Thanksgiving, the New York Times‘ William Neuman published an interesting piece on an emerging rift within the US fair-trade community.

Fair Trade USA, the main US fair-trade certifying entity, has announced plans to essentially lower its standards in the new year, Neuman reports. The group announced it would sever ties with Fairtrade International, “which coordinates fair trade marketing activities in close to two dozen countries,” Neuman writes. And large coffee plantations will be eligible for certification—before, only small cooperatives could receive the seal—as will “products with as little as 10 percent fair trade ingredients, compared with a minimum of 20 percent required in other countries.”

The plans have enraged the people behind Massachusetts-based Equal Exchange, a stalwart purveyor of fair-trade products. “It’s a betrayal,” Equal Exchange president Rink Dickinson told Neuman. “They’ve lost their integrity.”

Fair Trade USA, of course, defended the changes. Here’s Neuman:

Paul Rice, chief executive of Fair Trade USA, said the fair trade movement was dominated by hard-liners who resisted needed changes. “We’re all debating what do we want fair trade to be as it grows up,” Mr. Rice said. “Do we want it to be small and pure or do we want it to be fair trade for all?”

He dismissed criticism that his group was seeking to increase revenue for its own sake. “The more we grow volume, the more we can increase the impact” of fair trade, he said.

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It’s about time for some trans issues wins

From Feministing:

By Jos
Published: December 1, 2011

I got kind of emotional reading Miriam’s story yesterday about ob-gyns being told to prepare to treat transgender patients. This is a huge win in the area of health care access, a major issue for trans folks. It’s a win on an issue that’s particularly close to my heart, the intersection of reproductive and sexual health and trans issues. I’ve focused on this intersection in my organizing, and it hasn’t always been easy to be a voice for trans issues in the reproductive justice movement. I thought about all my friends have done to raise awareness about this crucial problem – it’s incredibly inspiring to finally see recognition of our health needs after we’ve been standing here shouting for so long.

And then I noticed the reaction to ob-gyn news around the web: a lot of people were saying, “It’s about time.”

Oh, right, yes. To simply have trans health needs recognized? To have doctors be told they should treat us when we need treatment? Like any other human being? It is about fucking time.

That’s the reality of where we’re at on trans issues. We are so far behind on winning basic rights and protections, still overwhelmingly stigmatized and discriminated against by a culture that still knows almost nothing about us, still killed just for being ourselves.

I can cite the numbers from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey again, numbers that show we face discrimination at alarming rates in housing, health care, education, employment – basically everywhere. I can talk again about how the discrimination faced by trans women of color is staggering even next to what the rest of the trans community faces. But the numbers can feel too extreme to understand. How do you even make it fit in your mind, that a whole group of people can be treated so inhumanely just for living our genders honestly?

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After Fukushima: Enough Is Enough

From The New York Times:

Published: December 2, 2011

The nuclear power industry has been resurrected over the past decade by a lobbying campaign that has left many people believing it to be a clean, green, emission-free alternative to fossil fuels. These beliefs pose an extraordinary threat to global public health and encourage a major financial drain on national economies and taxpayers. The commitment to nuclear power as an environmentally safe energy source has also stifled the mass development of alternative technologies that are far cheaper, safer and almost emission free — the future for global energy.

When the Fukushima Daiichi reactors suffered meltdowns in March, literally in the backyard of an unsuspecting public, the stark reality that the risks of nuclear power far outweigh any benefits should have become clear to the world. As the old quip states, “Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water.”

Instead, the nuclear industry has used the disaster to increase its already extensive lobbying efforts. A few nations vowed to phase out nuclear energy after the disaster. But many others have remained steadfast in their commitment. That has left millions of innocent people unaware that they — all of us — may face a medical catastrophe beyond all proportions in the wake of Fukushima and through the continued widespread use of nuclear energy.

The world was warned of the dangers of nuclear accidents 25 years ago, when Chernobyl exploded and lofted radioactive poisons into the atmosphere. Those poisons “rained out,” creating hot spots over the Northern Hemisphere. Research by scientists in Eastern Europe, collected and published by the New York Academy of Sciences, estimates that 40 percent of the European land mass is now contaminated with cesium 137 and other radioactive poisons that will concentrate in food for hundreds to thousands of years. Wide areas of Asia — from Turkey to China — the United Arab Emirates, North Africa and North America are also contaminated. Nearly 200 million people remain exposed.

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New Occupation: 20,000 march for economic justice in NYC

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Occupy UC Davis protesters adopt resolution calling for break with Democratic Party

From World Socialist Web Site:

By David Brown
1 December 2011

On Tuesday evening, the general assembly of Occupy UC Davis passed a resolution denouncing the attack on Davis students, calling for a break with the Democratic Party and the construction of an independent social and political movement of the entire working class.

The resolution, the first of its kind adopted at an Occupy protest, lays out a clear political perspective to counter the growing attacks on protests against inequality in the United States. It comes a week and a half after the brutal pepper spraying of unarmed students protesting against rising tuition and inequality.

The attack on UC Davis students is part of a nationwide crackdown on Occupy demonstrators, organized by both Democrats and Republicans and overseen by the Obama administration. On Wednesday morning, police in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, both controlled by Democratic Party mayors, cleared out encampments. (See “Police attack Occupy camps in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, arresting 350”)

The resolution at Davis was adopted unanimously by about 70 students participating in the general assembly. It was presented by Eric Lee, a supporter of the International Students for Social Equality, and a member of a newly-formed committee established to mobilize broader support in the working class.

In addition to calling for a break with the Democratic Party and a turn to the working class, the resolution stresses the international character of the attack on workers and youth, and condemns the hypocritical posturing of American imperialism as a defender of democratic rights.

The resolution reads in full:

We, the students of UC Davis, condemn the brutal police assault and pepper spraying of fellow students, who were peacefully protesting on November 18.

This attack is part of a nationwide—in fact global—crackdown on demonstrations against social inequality and the domination of politics by the rich. While the American government invokes “democratic rights” to justify wars abroad, it responds to social protests at home with riot police, tear gas and rubber bullets.

While Chancellor Linda Katehi is directly responsible for the police raid, she was enforcing a nationwide campaign orchestrated by the entire political establishment. Throughout the country, Democratic and Republican politicians—including the Brown and Obama administrations—are dismantling public education, cutting social services, and undermining all our basic social and democratic rights. Some of the most brutal attacks on Occupy demonstrations have been carried out by Democratic Party mayors.

The way forward is clear: No support should be given to either of the two parties! The dictates of the banks and corporations can be countered only through the independent social and political struggle of the entire working class.

We call upon students and working people all over the world to support our struggle against budget cuts. Our fight is your fight! Right now, students and workers in Greece, England and Egypt are engaged in a common struggle.

The global protests that began in 2011 must be expanded to a mass movement of students and workers to defend our rights and finally put an end to the domination by the corporations and super-rich over political and economic life.

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make history… not arrests….”US cops defect to Occupy Wall Street”

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The crackdown on Occupy controversy: a rebuttal

From The Guardian UK:

Critics have accused me of concocting a fact-free ‘conspiracy theory’ about the policing of Occupy. I stand by my contentions
, Friday 2 December 2011

What a firestorm my Comment is free blog post in the Guardian, “The Shocking News Behind the Crackdown on Occupy”, has unleashed: some have praised, while others have attacked. Joshua Holland’s criticisms of my piece, in a blog post, “Naomi Wolf’s Shocking Truth about Occupy is Anything But”, was picked up the most widely of the critics’ attacks. But the criticisms Holland poses are poorly grounded.

Holland’s main premise is that I am part of a “flurry of speculation” that is without basis in fact, and that there was no federal involvement in the crackdown. I cited evidence that DHS was on the 18-member conference call of mayors, which Oakland Mayor Jean Quan alluded to in an interview with the BBC on 15 November, and my source was Wonkette on 15 November. Holland argues that his assertion to contrary has been qualified, and I am happy to adjust the citation accordingly.

But Holland is seriously mistaken in reaching his premature conclusion that there is no evidence of DHS or federal participation in the crackdown, and for attacking me for having asserted the connection: “Mayors in a handful of cities,” he concludes, “responding to local political pressures, decided to break up their local occupations – decisions that were announced to the press well in advance – and were advised as to how best to do so.”

He is wrong on many counts. My evidence for federal coordination with local police exceeds the Wonkette citation, which was not, in fact, the basis of my confidence in writing about this coordination in the crackdown. I relied, rather, on many other sources of evidence. Among them, I was relying on what NYPD told me itself. I am certain that NYPD coordinates with federal authorities in OWS-related arrests because an NYPD official informed me that they did so through the bars of my cell, as part of his formal warning to me before my release, apparently to deter me from activities that might result in my rearrest. As I reported in the Guardian on 19 October 2011, part of the seventh precinct sergeant’s caution to me about what could happen to me if I was arrested again, if I “rejoined [my] friends the protesters”, was a threat based on his assertion of federal coordination with the arrests. He told me that in a second arrest, I would be photographed and fingerprinted, and the data fed into a federal database, to follow me forever. My partner, Avram Ludwig, confirmed that he was given the same warning about his data being fed into a federal database in the event of a future arrest.

Holland is more dangerously wrong in insisting on his conclusion of merely local police response – without reporting on what DHS is doing right now in response to the FOIA requests by many organisations about its possible involvement in the OWS crackdown. Holland should be aware that DHS, as of this writing, is not denying all involvement in response to the FOIA requests. Rather, the agency is on record as taking a legal position that appears to reflect some possible participation, at least at staff levels below the senior one: as Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the DC Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, wrote to me yesterday:

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Washington and Wall Street running secret government?

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Arsenic—it’s in animal feed too

From The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy:

by Ben Lilliston
Posted December 2, 2011

The media has been splashed with recent findings of elevated levels of arsenic in apple juice. Much less attention has been given to concerns about the presence of arsenic in meat. Last week, IATP and the Center for Food Safety filed a series of petitions with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling for the agency to vastly reduce the legally permissible levels of arsenic in meat. Pharmaceutical companies produce and sell four arsenic compounds that are added to animal feed for turkey, chicken and swine production to increase weight and improve pigmentation of the meat.

“Arsenic’s a poison that causes cancer, among other harm,” IATP’s David Wallinga, M.D. said in a press release on the petitions. “The FDA can’t seriously uphold its public health mission while allowing residues of arsenic in the meat our children and families eat. That’s why we’ve submitted this petition.”

In 2006, IATP’s report Playing Chicken: Avoiding Arsenic in Your Meat estimated that more than 70 percent of all U.S. chickens raised for meat are fed arsenic. That report found detectable levels of arsenic in many name brand poultry products from supermarkets and fast food restaurants.

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Occupy Y’all Street: Occupy Atlanta Fights Foreclosure, Fannie Mae Demands Protesters’ Emails

From Huffington Post:   http//

First Posted: 12/ 2/11

This is the second in a series of stories and short films on under-publicized Occupy sites. The first is here. Stay tuned in the coming days for more from our road trip through the South.

SNELLVILLE, Ga. — The day after Fannie Mae evicted a police officer and his family from their suburban Atlanta home, the government-owned mortgage giant demanded the family turn over all its correspondence with members of Occupy Atlanta, according to court documents.

In early November, Christopher Rorey, an officer with the DeKalb County Police Department, had invited the activists affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement to his quiet neighborhood in Gwinnett County, about 25 miles outside of Atlanta. The Rorey family had spent 13 months fending off foreclosure. They were on their second lawyer and second civil suit. After losing a last ditch court hearing, attended by Occupy protesters, an eviction was imminent. The Roreys were down to last options.

A large storage bin now occupied their driveway. Slowly, next-door neighbors had started to help fill it. Belongings ringed the darkened living room in neat stacks. In the front room, more was piled on the couch; the big-screen TV had been moved out of the way. The finished basement had been stripped clean except for a lone black leather office chair. In the kitchen, the cabinets had been emptied, and the stove had been put in the bin on the driveway.

The demonstrators set up large orange-and-blue tents on the Rorey front lawn, unrolled bedding in their basement, and hung signs from their porch that read: “THIS HOME IS OCCUPIED” in rainbow colors.

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General strike brings Greece to a surprisingly calm halt

From The Guardian UK:

Widespread action to mark second anniversary of eurozone crisis passes off with little violence or unrest

in Athens
, Thursday 1 December 2011

A crippling general strike and street protests by hundreds of thousands of Greeks marked the second anniversary of the eurozone debt crisis on Thursday.

For the prime minister, Lucas Papademos, who is facing his first test since his interim administration assumed power less than a month ago, the mass demonstrations were unusually peaceful and, therefore, a huge success: in a nation used to street violence, not a single shot was fired as riot police refrained from lobbing tear gas into the crowds and stone-throwing anarchists stayed away.

But beneath the apparent calm the anger was still palpable. Trade unionists representing civil servants and private-sector workers said that Papademos, a former vice-president of the European Central Bank (ECB), should expect “sustained battle” against cutbacks that are widely seen as unfair. Hit by a barrage of tax increases and salary cuts, poorer Greeks have seen their purchasing power slashed by up to 70% since the crisis erupted.

“The government may have changed but the policies it is intent on pursuing are totally unjust and do nothing to relieve recession, create development or improve the economy,” said Yiannis Panagopoulos, who heads the Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), as he attended a rally. “For this reason, alone, the government should expect sustained battle. We will resist. We will not desist.”

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Killing the Euro

From The New York Times:

Published: December 1, 2011

Can the euro be saved? Not long ago we were told that the worst possible outcome was a Greek default. Now a much wider disaster seems all too likely.

True, market pressure lifted a bit on Wednesday after central banks made a splashy announcement about expanded credit lines (which will, in fact, make hardly any real difference). But even optimists now see Europe as headed for recession, while pessimists warn that the euro may become the epicenter of another global financial crisis.

How did things go so wrong? The answer you hear all the time is that the euro crisis was caused by fiscal irresponsibility. Turn on your TV and you’re very likely to find some pundit declaring that if America doesn’t slash spending we’ll end up like Greece. Greeeeeece!

But the truth is nearly the opposite. Although Europe’s leaders continue to insist that the problem is too much spending in debtor nations, the real problem is too little spending in Europe as a whole. And their efforts to fix matters by demanding ever harsher austerity have played a major role in making the situation worse.

The story so far: In the years leading up to the 2008 crisis, Europe, like America, had a runaway banking system and a rapid buildup of debt. In Europe’s case, however, much of the lending was across borders, as funds from Germany flowed into southern Europe. This lending was perceived as low risk. Hey, the recipients were all on the euro, so what could go wrong?

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Texas Trans man wins first round in divorce battle

From The Dallas Voice:

Judge declines to void marriage between Robertson, Scott in case that could set precedent, but wife’s lawyer downplays significance

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Political Writer
December 1, 2011

When Rebecca Louise Robertson and James Allan Scott married in Dallas in 1998, Robertson was well aware and fully supportive of Scott’s status as a transgender man, court records indicate.

But when the couple split up after 12 years in 2010, Robertson sought to have their marriage declared void — based on the fact that Scott was born a biological female, and Texas law prohibits same-sex marriage.

Last week, a Dallas County district judge rejected Robertson’s motion for a summary judgment in the case, declining to void the marriage and allowing the matter to proceed as a divorce.

Attorney Eric Gormly, who represents Scott, said if the judge had declared the marriage void, it would have prevented his client, who’s physically disabled, from obtaining a fair division of the couple’s property.

Gormly, who specializes in LGBT law, called the ruling from Judge Lori Chrisman Hockett a significant victory for transgender equality in Texas.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time any Texas court has ruled that a transsexual man who marries a biological woman is in a legitimate marriage,” Gormly said.

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