10.01.2011

"OCCUPY WALL STREET" HAS ITS OWN NEWSPAPER...


Occupy Wall Street is starting to look less like an extended camping trip (kind of): It now has a mailing address, an info line, and it will soon have its own newspaper. The Occupy Wall Street Journal has surpassed its $12,000 fundraising goal on Kickstarterand looks like it might actually be a reality. Now, the protesters will have basically everything they need apart from, like, houses. The project's description:
We want to be the people's media. Our first project is The Occupy Wall Street Journal, a four-page broadsheet newspaper with an ambitious print run of 50,000. It's aimed at the general public. The idea is to explain what the protest is about and profile different people who have joined and why they joined. We will explain the issues involved and how the general assembly process operates at Liberty Plaza. It will also offer resources and ways to join. The emphasis will be on quality content, design, photography and artwork that uses incisive humor to make it a lively read.
Most people are reporting that this is the work of the Yes Men, but a Yes Men rep told us that "we are not behind it, but we are 'backing' it on our Kickstarter channel."
Jed Brandt, a communist writer, is credited on the Kickstarter as head of the Journal. We haven't yet been able to reach him for comment.
Now that the project has raised over $18,000, it looks like at least the first two issues will run. That is, if Mayor Bloomberg allows the occupation to continue.
Go to Runnin' Scared for more Voice news coverage.

"OCCUPY WALL STREET" MOVEMENT SPREADS, BLOCKS BROOKLYN BRIDGE, NYPD ARRESTS HUNDREDS....


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...Hundreds of people protesting Wall Street abuses were penned in and arrested by police Saturday, two weeks into an ongoing demonstration that has become known on Twitter as #OccupyWallStreet.
Centered at Zuccotti Park since September 17, the gathering that began as a call to arms from anti-consumerist magazine AdBusters has shown no sign of a slowdown.
The movement aims to "express a feeling of mass injustice," according to the group’s declaration for the occupation of New York City released Friday. The injustices include the foreclosure crisis, work place discrimination and student loan debt, among a list of others.
As HuffPost reported recently, the movement is less about specific policy demands and more about an expression of opposition to ever yawning economic inequality driven by Wall Street and its allies in Washington.
Calling themselves an American revolution, the protesters say they plan to stay in the park indefinitely.
George Basta, an official with New York Communities for Change, said that the organizers were encouraged by police to march on the street area of the Brooklyn Bridge, instead of the walkway, then subsequently arrested them for marching in traffic. Two lead organizers, Jonathan Westin and Pete Nagy, were penned in by police. Westin managed to exit the police pen, but Nagy is missing and presumed detained by police, Basta told HuffPost(....)

MATT TAIBI: THE DOWNGRADING OF US BANKS AND THE 5 USD BOFA DEBIT CARD FEE...


....Big news in the financial world yesterday, as Moody’s downgraded three of America’s biggest commercial banks. The ratings agency hit Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citigroup, and the money-shot quote came from the Wall Street Journal
Moody's downgraded Bank of America's long-term senior debt two steps to Baa1, which is three steps above a junk credit rating. The outlook on the new rating remains negative. The firm specifically noted that the downgrades didn't reflect a weakening in Bank of America's intrinsic credit quality.
The spin that’s being circulated on this is that Moody’s isn’t dissing the banks per se. Rather, Moody’s has just suddenly decided to become concerned that in the post Dodd-Frank world, the U.S. government would not bail out all of these banks, should they need to be bailed out. The WSJ is selling this as nothing more than the ratings agency deciding finally to apply an equal touch to all the troubled members of the Too Big To Fail club:
Moody's said the probability that the government would allow a large bank to fail is greater now than it was during the financial crisis ...
The ratings for Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citi before Wednesday's downgrade reflected a greater level of government support than for five other systemically important financial companies--J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS), State Street Corp. (STT), and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BK) Now all eight companies are rated consistently with regard to possible government support.
But there’s no way this isn’t a serious blow to all these banks. You know you’re seriously fucked when even Moody’s, the most whorishly corrupt ratings company in modern history – one that “accidentally” gave billions in dicey derivatives AAA ratings a few years back (blaming the faux-bullish ratings on a computer error) – can’t find a way to avoid downgrading you.
And here’s my question today for folks keeping their money at Bank of America: How psyched are you today to have your bank downgraded to just above junk status even beforethe inevitable implosion of the Countrywide portfolio, that Yucca Mountain of deadly and still-severely-overmarked mortgages that BofA is toting along?
These three banks control, cumulatively, about a quarter of all America’s deposits. But it’s probably nothing to worry about, right? How about Ted Danson’s CSI debut?  Man, is he having a quirky and idiosyncratic second career, or what?

OCCUPY WALL STREET: US CITIZENS PROTEST WALL STREET GREED AND UNPROVOKED NYPD BRUTALITY....


There Will Be a Protest to Protest the Treatment of Occupy Wall Street Protesters


Occupy Wall Street is now in its 12th day. This morning brought another march on Wall Street. In other cities, similar efforts are springing up. And, there are now efforts to protest the treatment the protesters have gotten from the NYPD -- most dramatically and media-attention-getting, the pepper-spraying of several women who were being corralled by netting. We spoke to Alex Vitale, a CUNY professor who, with Penny Lewis, has organized a demonstration "against police attacks targeting Occupy Wall Street." The event is scheduled for Friday at 5:30 p.m., at One Police Plaza.





In a press release Vitale issued today, he says that more than 1,000 people, including "dozens of trade union leaders, academics, writers, students, and other New Yorkers" are expected on Friday, to communicate their disagreement with how protests are handled in New York City and, ultimately, to attempt to get "the mayor put together a commission to look at the right way to handle protests." (Currently, there are 275 who have said they will attend on the event's Facebook page.)
Vitate writes, 
On September 24th, members of Occupy Wall Street marched to Union Square, and were subsequently met with extreme police violence, including violent arrests of non-violent protesters and pepper-spraying people in police custody.
We are outraged by these police attacks. At the worst protestors were guilty of a minor traffic disruption, which in no way warranted the excessive use of force witnessed on numerous videos. This use of force serves to criminalize dissent and intimidate potential participants.
We call on the NYPD to stop treating dissent as a criminal activity and to acknowledge the legitimacy of non-violent protest--even when it is disruptive. We call on them to end their unreasonably restrictive practices that undermine the very nature of free assembly, such as the use of protest pens, deployment of excessive numbers of officers directly surrounding demonstrations, subdividing of crowds, bag searches, and denials of permits.
As for the rather meta-nature of protesting the treatment of protesters, Vitale told us, "There are people who are maybe supportive in very general terms of the encampment but didn't feel so directly connected or inspired by that style of protest. So they weren't likely to wander down to Zuccotti Park (.....)


Lewis and Vitale both serve on the Executive Council PSC-CUNY, and decided to organize their protest after hearing from people that they wanted to "do something." Along with the event's Facebook page, they have a blog, Solidarity With OWS.

MATT TAIBI: ROGUE WALL STREET, NOT ROGUE UBS TRADER!


(....) In fact, investment bankers by nature have huge appetites for risk, and most of them take pride in being able to sleep at night even when their bets are going the wrong way. If you’re not a person who can doze through a two-hour foot massage while your client (which might be your own bank) is losing ten thousand dollars a minute on some exotic trade you’ve cooked up, then you won’t make it on today’s Wall Street.
Nonetheless, thanks to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act passed in 1998 with the help of Bob Rubin, Larry Summers, Bill Clinton, Alan Greenspan, Phil Gramm and a host of other short-sighted politicians, we now have a situation where trillions in federally-insured commercial bank deposits have been wedded at the end of a shotgun to exactly such career investment bankers from places like Salomon Brothers (now part of Citi), Merrill Lynch (Bank of America), Bear Stearns (Chase), and so on.
These marriages have been a disaster. The influx of i-banking types into the once-boring worlds of commercial bank accounts, home mortgages, and consumer credit has helped turn every part of the financial universe into a casino. That’s why I can’t stand the term "rogue trader," which is always tossed out there when some investment-banker asshole loses a billion dollars betting with someone else’s money.
They’re not "rogue" for the simple reason that making insanely irresponsible decisions with other peoples’ money is exactly the job description of a lot of people on Wall Street. Hell, they don’t call these guys "rogue traders" when they make a billion dollars gambling.
The only thing that differentiates a "rogue" trader like Barings villain Nick Leeson from a Lloyd Blankfein, Dick Fuld, John Thain, or someone like AIG’s Joe Cassano, is that those other guys are more senior and their lunatic, catastrophic decisions were authorized (and yes, I know that Cassano wasn’t an investment banker, technically – but he was in financial services).
In the financial press you're called a "rogue trader" if you're some overperspired 28 year-old newbie who bypasses internal audits and quality control to make a disastrous trade that could sink the company. But if you're a well-groomed 60 year-old CEO who uses his authority to ignore quality control and internal audits in order to make disastrous trades that could sink the company, you get a bailout, a bonus, and heroic treatment in an Andrew Ross Sorkin book.
In other words, "rogue traders" are treated like bad accidents and condemned everywhere from the front pages to Ewan McGregor films. But rogue companies are protected at every level of the regulatory structure and continually empowered by dergulatory legislation giving them access to our bank accounts.
There is a movement in the UK for a thing called “ringfencing” that would separate investment bankers from commercial bankers....