Pigs we get what pigs deserve.

November 27, 2011

I would not consider myself to be a communist or a capitalist.  To quote my earlier work from the winter of 2000 “Communism and Capitalism both meet the same ends.  Power and wealth is centralized in the hands of the few.”  Having said that I would like to quote Marx “The lower strata of the middle class — the small tradespeople, shopkeepers, and retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and peasants — all these sink gradually into the proletariat.”

What Marx is saying is this:  The middle class will eventually sink into poverty due to the nature of capitalism.  In other words the middle class is dwindling and will eventually be gone.  It won’t be long before the only class division left is the difference between the working poor and the independently wealthy.

Things are getting so bad out there that even bankers are finding themselves out in the cold this winter.  In the previous article Production Reduction I stated “UBS, Citigroup, ABN Amro, Barclays, Bank of New York Mellon, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Lloyds, State Street, Wells Fargo, and finally Bank of America are all talking about massive lay offs.  Bank of America may actually cut 10,000 jobs which would mean a 3.5% reduction of their work force.”

I wrote that article back on September 9th.  Now it looks like the proposed lay-offs are coming to fruition.  According to Bloomberg “A wave of firings has washed away more than 200,000 jobs in the global financial-services industry this year, eclipsing 174,000 in 2009.”  A recent Forbes article Rough Times for the Brokerage Industry puts it like this …

Bankers are being laid off.

Brokers are being laid off.

Traders are being laid off.

Support staff are being laid off.

Product people are being laid off.

Wealth management people are being laid off.

Analysts are being laid off.

John Lennon once said “Instant Karma’s gonna get you.  Gonna knock you right on the head.”   Not even the bankers themselves are immune to their own financial terrorism.  Like madmen with bombs strapped to their chests, they blew up the economy.  It was only a matter of time before they fell victim to their own greed and corruption.

I would like to tell all of the recently canned bankers to suck it up and get a McDonald’s application.  This is your comeuppance deal with it.


Who is Ferdinand Pecora?

November 22, 2011

Honest Pecora was a hard working immigrant from Sicily.  At the time of the Wall Street crash of 1929 he was an ADA in New york City.  He became famous as Chief counsel to the United States Senate Committee on Banking and Currency.

Pecora was the 4th chief counsel to the committee after the first two were fired for incompetence and the third quit.  He would go on to examine several of the nations influential bankers and stockbrokers.

On March 4, 1932 the senate committee began hearings to root out the underlying causes of The Great Depression.  The investigation was subsequently named The Pecora Commission.  Today the findings of the commission are more relevant than ever as the causes of The Great depression and the current financial crisis are the same.

According to Pecora “Bitterly hostile was Wall Street to the enactment of the regulatory legislation.  Had there been full disclosure of what was being done in furtherance of these schemes, they could not long have survived the fierce light of publicity and criticism. Legal chicanery and pitch darkness were the banker’s stoutest allies.”

On February 19th, 1933 the New York Times released an article called Pecora Denounces Stock Manipulations.  In the article Pecora Stated “men of might – not because of principle but because of economic power and wealth – have by the waving of a hand and adoption of a resolution taken millions and millions of the hard-earned pennies of the people and turned them into gold for themselves.”

Later that year Pecora addressed the Federal Bar Association.  He was adamant about enforcing financial regulations stating “Unless we adopt new rules and enforce them, we shall not have learned our lesson that the depression of the last years have taught us. When we return to prosperity –  and we have – unless we also have these rules and enforce them, prosperity will do no one any good.”

After the Pecora commission new rules were enacted and enforced for a time.  The commission led to the Glass–Steagall Banking Act of 1933, the the Securities Act of 1933, and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 which led to the formation of the Securities and Exchange Commission aka the SEC.

Unfortunately Wall Street has been dramatically deregulated over the last 30 years.  As a result the exact same conditions that caused The Depression exist today.  It would seem that we all forgot about The Great Depression and the lessons it taught us.

More recently we have had the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which was appointed to investigate the current financial crisis.  They found that the current crisis was avoidable.  Phil Angelides the chairman of the commission went on to say “The crisis was the result of human action and inaction.  It could happen again if we do not learn from history.  In many respects, our financial system is unchanged from the eve of this crisis.  We believe that much more needs to be done.”

Give me convenience or give me death.

November 15, 2011

On several different occasions I have praised the Norfolk Police for protecting the people’s right to protest.  Like a scorned lover I thought they were different.

Last week on November 10th, the NPD arrested 6 people on obstruction of justice charges.  Their crime was exercising their First Amendment rights.  If you ask me anyone arresting peaceful protesters are guilty of obstructing justice.  Just following orders is not an excuse to make an unlawful arrest.

According to Occupy Norfolk organizers city officials had been renewing the protester’s permit to camp out at the Norfolk Commerce Center on a weekly basis.  The camp had been open for over a month and one morning the permit was rescinded without warning.

According to local protesters and the local media, police raided the camp at dawn in full riot gear.  The city deemed it necessary to send a squad of shock troopers to quell a peaceful protest consisting of a handful of campers.

Our fair city has decided that it is no longer convenient to have protesters in the heart of downtown.  Once again bankesters and other looters of our economy are free to eat their expensive lunches in the people’s park.

City officials had sighted sanitation as a prime concern for the eviction.  This writer has spent some time at the encampment and I can assure you that it was clean.

The city had also raised concerns that the citizens of Norfolk were unable to enjoy the Commercial Plaza.  Every time I was down there I could hear random passersby making comments commiserate with the Occupation Movement.

The truth of the matter is that our city is resorting to tyrannical oppression and police intimidation.  The people of Hampton Roads know something is amiss with our economy and our government.  The people want this protest.

I fear that recent events in Oakland and other Occupy Movements across the country have emboldened local officials.  They view the protesters as the flotsam and jetsam of society when in fact the protesters are the 99%, and the bulk of society.

The Cupboard is Empty we Really Need Food

November 5, 2011

physiological needs are the most important aspect of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Chief among these is the requirement for food.

Without fresh food and water everything else seems to be of little importance.  Sadly many people across the globe go to bed hungry every night.  Countless others die of starvation.

Things are even more dire after the 2007 – 2008 food crisis.  Increased shipping costs, fuel requirements of industrial farming, and bio-fuel policies all conspire to spike food prices.

Many of my peers are malnourished.  Even with food stamps a healthy diet is out of reach.  It would appear that a good diet is reserved for the wealthy as the poor and working class are priced out of the quality food market.

All is not lost however.  There are many organizations who seek to feed the needy and to nourish their communities.

One such group is Food not Bombs.  On Friday, November 4th I had the pleasure of interviewing Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry.  McHenry stopped by Occupy Norfolk for last night’s general assembly.  Later that evening he spoke to protesters at The Path on W 35th St in Norfolk.

He warned the crowd to be wary of provocateurs and undercover infiltrators.  He detailed several occasions where activists have been set up and framed by federal informants.  He has been incarcerated and imprisoned on several occasions for his involvement with Food not Bombs.  In spite of this he continues to bring food and hope to those who have none.

Blue Scholar Blog:  With so many people going hungry in America do you think that the U.S. has  it’s priories skewed?

Keith McHenry:  Oh yeah for sure.  There are millions of Americans without food.  It’s ridiculous.

Blue Scholar Blog:  If someone want’s to help Food not Bombs what can they do?

Keith McHenry:  The best thing to do is to go to foodnotbombs.net and look up your local chapter.  You can go to where a meal is being served and get in contact.  If there is not a chapter in your area the site has information on how to start a chapter.

Blue Scholar Blog:  What is Food not Bombs involvement with Occupy Wall Street?

Keith McHenry:  Food not bombs is organizing kitchens  at Occupy events across the world.  Food not Bombs also delegates in the same way that the Occupation does.  We use consensus to make decisions. We are also committed to non violence.

Blue Scholar Blog:  What advice do you have for people engaging in civil disobedience?

Keith McHenry:  You definitely want to be non violent.  If you know you are going to be arrested ahead of time you should let someone know.

If you are in the Hampton Roads area the Norfolk chapter of food not bombs could use your support.

They need foil, sugar, cooking oil, utensils, paper cups, paper plates, and food suitable for preparing vegan meals.

They are going to meet tomorrow November 6th at 3pm at Park Place Baptist church on the corner of Colonial Ave and 31st Street.

If you want to help out I urge you to show up tomorrow and lend a hand.  I have also posted their contact information below.

PO Box 6038 Norfolk VA 23508
Phone: 757-777-4688 or 757-620-1764
foodnotbombsnorfolk@ hotmail.com

Occupy Virginia Beach

November 2, 2011

After more than a month it is clear that the Occupation Movement isn’t going anywhere.  Here in Hampton Roads the grass roots movement is spreading like wildfire.

It all started with Occupy Norfolk.  Recently it has come to my attention that Occupy Virginia Beach is being organized as well.  Appropriately they plan to occupy the Town Center at the fountain.

Earlier today I had the opportunity to interview Rafael Gil an organizer for Occupy Virginia Beach.

Blue Scholar Blog: Why did you start Occupy Virginia Beach?

Rafael Gil: Since Occupy Norfolk has started there are a lot of people that can’t make it to Norfolk. The more cities involved the more people that can participate. We are all in this together. We are in solidarity with Occupy Wall St and other Occupy movements around the world. This is a leaderless movement but we do have organizers within each Occupy movement.

Blue Scholar Blog: Do you plan on visiting Occupy Norfolk?

Rafael Gil: Yes, me personally I try to go out there at least once a week.

Blue Scholar Blog: The Occupation Movement has been going on for over a month and shows no signs of stopping? Do you anticipate continued growth for Occupy Virginia Beach?

Rafael Gil: Yes we anticipate more growth. The first occupation in Hampton Roads was Occupy Norfolk. We are trying to plan events that do not conflict with Occupy Norfolk. We are trying to have our voices heard and are handing out fliers. We are being misrepresented in the media. They think all we want to do is hang out and that we don’t have jobs. We are here to have a peaceful protest under our first amendment rights.

Blue Scholar Blog: What would you say the occupation movement is all about?

Rafael Gil: It’s about having our voices heard. This includes people from all walks of life. We want corporations out of politics. The supreme court has ruled that corporations are people. This is not right. It’s we the people not we the corporations.

Blue Scholar Blog: Do you feel that there is too much money involved in the electoral process?

Rafael Gil: Yes, we the citizens have a right to vote. Since corporations are involved they can spend so much money that the politicians are looking out for the corporations interests and not for the citizens interests anymore.

Blue Scholar Blog: How are relations with the city and the police?

Rafael Gil: So far the city is working with us. We are trying to get permits for the occupation and for amplified sound. We had a meeting with officials last week to ensure the safety of the occupiers. The city is happy that Occupy Virginia Beach is doing it by the book.

Blue Scholar Blog: How has the community responded to occupy Virginia Beach?

Rafael Gil: There are a lot of people who are not with us because they do not know what we are about. We are all in this together, those people who are working and those who are unemployed, the police and the college student. We are the 99%.

Blue Scholar Blog: If someone wants to help Occupy Virginia Beach what can they do?

Rafael Gil: We are looking for more people to help. For more information they can visit www.facebook.com/groups/occupyvb/   http://www.meetup.com/Occupy-Virginia-Beach/ and occupyvb.com

Blue Scholar Blog: When is the next big demonstration?

Rafael Gil: We are planning to have events twice a week. This Thursday, November 3rd we are going to be waving signs from 5 – 6 pm at the Virginia Beach Boulevard and Independence Boulevard intersection. At 6pm we will have a general assembly. On Sunday, November 6th we will have our first march after the general assembly at noon.

Blue Scholar Blog: Do you have anything else to add?

Rafael Gil: The US Treasury gave millions to the banks. The US is helping banks meanwhile they are laying people off. Bank of America plans to lay off 30,000 people. The CEOs are getting bonuses and the banks are foreclosing on people’s homes. A lot of people go to school and play by the book. If you would fast forward their lives 20 or 30 years down the road, many are facing massive debt and homelessness today.

In solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Norfolk, and Occupy Virginia Beach the Blue Scholar Blog is committed to taking a stand against Wall Street and government corruption.

There is a growing feeling in the streets that we can change things.  If we all hang in there and do our part we can defeat those who would exploit us.

I urge anyone in the area to visit Occupy Virginia Beach and Occupy Norfolk.  If you want to help out now is your chance.

The Oakland Raiders

November 1, 2011

Just when things seemed to be tenable between the Occupation Movement and the police things get nasty in Oakland.

I am not always critical of the police.  In the article Occupy Norfolk Day 5 I wrote “The Norfolk Police Department has been amicable.  Unlike the NYPD they recognize the people’s right to protest.”

In light of the praise I have given the Norfolk Police Department I feel that it is my duty to admonish the recent police misconduct and brutality that took place in Oakland.

As many of you know the Oakland Police razed the Occupy Oakland camp in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, October 25th.  In the process they fired tear gas, flash bang grenades, and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.  Over 70 people were arrested and their camp in the Frank Ogawa Plaza was completely destroyed.

The entire melee can be seen in the footage below.

These flash bang grenades are considered to be less than lethal weapons.  In many cases they are merely less lethal.  They still kill and critically wound the public they are meant to defend.

One of the protesters, Marine veteran Scott Olsen was struck in the head by a police projectile.  It is still unclear exactly what struck Olsen however, I’m assuming it was either a rubber bullet or a gas canister.

After Olsen hit the ground a group of protesters came to his aid.  At that point the police continued to fire gas and flash-bangs one of which went off in the middle of the protesters who had rushed to help their fallen comrade.

The entire debacle can be seen in the video below.

As of the writing of this article I am happy to report that Scott Olsen is alive.  He has suffered a skull fracture, however he should recover from his wounds.

There is a lot of denial surrounding this event.  The police are claiming that they did not use any Anti Riot Weapon ENfields or ARWENs.  According Eileen Hirst a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department “37 deputies who were in Oakland did not carry tear gas, concussive grenades or any other type of explosive canisters.”

In light of the videos posted in this article I am coming out and calling Hurst a boldfaced liar.  It’s not like the projectiles were thrown by police.  Explosions are clearly audible in the footage.

Just so you can see the weapons being used against peacefuller protesters please take a look at an Arwen.

This thing looks like it can stop a herd of elephants let alone peaceful protesters.  Using such a device against unarmed citizens is disgusting.  No wonder someone got seriously injured.

After much bad press Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has allowed Occupy Oakland back into Frank Ogawa Plaza which the protesters have dubbed Oscar Grant plaza.  This name change is in honor of a police shooting victim and Oakland resident who was shot in the back after he had already been detained.

I covered the Oscar Grant story in the article Rampant Police Misconduct  Posted below is a short excerpt from that article.

Officer Johannes Mehserle shoot an unarmed Oscar Grant in the back.  This case did go to trial and On July 8, 2010, the jury returned its verdict: Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

The Occupation has only just begun and it’s not going away.  Like our parents in the 60s we will no longer stand idly by while our world falls apart.  They can set the dogs on us and we will not abate.  They can gas us and we will not give in.  They can literally crack our skulls but we will and we must fight on.

Tonight my heart goes out to Scott Olsen and the rest of the Occupy Oakland movement.  Your honor and courage inspires us all.