Occupy Christmas

International Day of Action – December 25

The future of this site

Posted by troublemaker on December 4, 2014

When we started this site, our thought was to share news and opinion.  Today, we feel they are so many people out there doing the same that our efforts could be better spent on another slightly different effort.  For Christmas 2016, we intend to offer a listing service for folk independent arts and craft folk with the hopes of encouraging folk to boycott the huge retail buy sell folk in favor of independent artists and craft folk.

Peppers By Mail – Until then, here is a shameless plug for our own online sales efforts:  Grow kits, seeds, dried and fresh peppers of the most notorious varieties.  Including the Carolina Reaper pepper, Ghost pepper, and Jigsaw peppers.

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1% Rule. 99% Serve.

Posted by troublemaker on January 20, 2012

Recently someone presented the idea that the Occupy / 99% movement was somehow anti-military. Although the movement contains members with diverse views, the central concept of the Occupy / 99% movement supports the men and women of the military as they are part of the growing populous movement. This is on top of ridiculous rumors which insist that members of Congress and their families do not have to repay Student Loans that Congress can retire on full pay after just one term, and other unfounded accusations to heighten the differences between the ruling and serving class.

Make no mistake; there are clear differences between the ruling and serving classes. There really is a 99% and a 1%; however the exaggerated claims detract from the facts of the matter. To explain, we will compare and contrast factual information about serving in the U.S. Military and ruling in the U.S. Congress. As a result, they distract from the core message behind the Occupy Movement. In abstract, that core message is that a democracy should be beholding to the people it serves rather than the greed of a select few.

U.S. Congress

Entrance Salary – $174,000.00 (About 10 times U.S. Military)

Student Loans – Congressional staffers may have a significant portion of their student loans forgiven ($60,000 in the House and $40,000 in the Senate) in exchange for a term of service.

Pension – Can draw pension after five years if they are over the age of 62, after twenty years if they are between the ages of 50 and 62, at any age if they serve twenty five years. Pensions can be as high as 80%. (1)

U.S. Military

Entrance Salary – $17,892.00 (About 1/10th that of Congress) (2)

Student Loans – Depending on the branch, there is between $10,000.00 and $65,000.00) available in annual payments of $1,500.00, but only if this is arranged before joining the military, only with specific commitments, and only for specific training / educational requirements. In other words, if you choose the right education, the right branch, and the military is hurting for people with your education; the military will repay a $60,000.00 student loan over the course of 20 years.

Pension – 50% of base pay after 20 years, 2.5% increase per additional year, up to a total of 75%. (3) No matter how many years a person serves in the military, it is not possible to reach the 80% available to members of Congress.

U.S. Citizen (Per Census (4))

Per Capita income: $27,041.00 (average individual)

Average Household Income: $50,221


$174,000.00 might not seem like an outrageously high salary for a member of Congress. $17,892.00 might not seem like an outrageously low salary for an inexperienced teenager fresh out of highschool. But the issue of actual pay is not in question. What is in question is the difference in pay between those who claim to serve (Congress / 1%) and those who actually do serve (the military / 99%).

During their first year, a Congressman / woman earns almost 10 times what a soldier does in his or her first year. That amount is roughly 6 ½ times the average income of a U.S. Citizen or about 3 ½ times the average combined household incomes. Even without considering the fact that most of Congress was wealthy before being elected to their positions, one has to ask how it is that we can expect these men and women to represent the interests of the 99% when they so clearly are not part of the 99%.

If the United States is truly a country of the people, by the people, and for the people; Congress will agree to accept no more than the average individual income and agree to pay military members no less than that same amount. Congress should also agree to accept no better pension or other benefits than the average U.S. Citizen and offer no less to members of the military.



  1. http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/uscongress/a/congresspay.htm
  2. http://usmilitary.about.com/od/militarypaycharts/a/2012basepayenlisted.htm
  3. http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/generalpay/a/retirementpay.htm

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Banker Bonuses Down 30%

Posted by troublemaker on January 10, 2012

The average Wall Street bonus is predicted to be down by 30% this year. (1) Bankers threaten to sue or walk. When union employees are asked to take a pay cut to keep their employer afloat in these hard financial times, the unions have made concessions. Although loosing wages and benefits is not something a person looks forward to, sometimes it is necessary to keep a business running and jobs available. Although blue collar (and no collar) workers (99%) have been willing to make concessions, when it comes time for the white collars (1%) to do their part, they threaten to either sue or take their toys and leave. I think we can all agree the theme song here is Hit the Road Jack.

“Jeffries Group have threatened to walk away from the firm if bonuses aren’t on par with the Street.” – Business Insider (1)

While some might point to the financial down turn to explain the lower bonuses, many factors contributed to the decrease in what many feel are over the top bonuses. The New York Post believes one of those factors is the Occupy / 99% movement. Although they do not come out and identify the movement as a factor, they identify “public outrage” as one of three reasons bonuses are expected to be lower. Who has expressed more public outrage than the Occupy / 99% movement?

“The huge problem this year, however, is that the overall bonus pie is forecast to be about 30 percent smaller, shrunk by declining revenue, public outrage over outsize annual payouts and the demands of deferred bonuses promised during the financial crisis that are now coming due.” – New York Post (2)

Congratulations Occupy Wall Street, while they nay Sayers continue to claim the message is unclear it seems big banks are getting that message loud and clear.

  1. Business Insider – Now US Bankers Are Planning To Sue Or Walk If Bonuses Are Too Low
  2. New York Post – Bonus battles: Disgruntled bankers threaten to sue or walk

Posted in Corporate Greed | Leave a Comment »

Terrorists and the 1 Percent

Posted by troublemaker on January 2, 2012

The United States Department of State maintains a list of designated “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” (1). Advocating or otherwise promoting any organization on that list is illegal in the United States. This is why Jubair Ahmad was arrested for “providing material support” to Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) after uploading a video to YouTube. We cannot tell you what was in that video because it has been removed from Youtube. But we can tell you that the FBI’s sworn affidavit (2) seems to indicate the video was a collection of images which detail abuses at the U.S. detention camp Abu Ghraib, images of vehicles being attacked by road side bombs, and Muslim prayer segments. Jubair Ahmad, a legal immigrant to the United States, pled guilty (3).

Javed Iqbal, who has lived in New York for 26 years, was arrested for making the Al Manar TV channel available to customers of his satellite TV Company HDTV Ltd. The US Treasury declared Al Manar a terrorist organization claiming it participated it “supported Hezbollah’s fund-raising and recruitment activities.” (4) Both Al Manar and Hezbollah are on the list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (1), so although Javed Iqbal said he did not support Al Manal via personal ideology; offering that TV station in a package for his satellite TV Company amounted to material support. Iqbal pointed to the fact that his company also sold Christian and adult programming. He was sentenced to almost six years in prison.

Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) is another organization named on the designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations list just like Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), Al Manal, and Hezbollah. So you would imagine supporting MEK would bring criminal charges as well. Evidently not if you are part of the elite.

“Ed Rendell, Andrew Card and John Bolton are openly advocating for MEK and are in many cases receiving significant sums of money for doing so.” (4)

Ed Rendell (D) – Former governor of Pennsylvania who is married to Federal Judge Marjorie Rendell. (5)

Andrew Card (R) – Former CEO of the American Automobile Manufacturers Association. Former White House Chief of Staff under President George W. Bush. Also served during the George H Bush administration. (6)

John Bolton (R) – Former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations who has served under several administrations. He is currently a commentator for Fox News and contributor for the Wall Street Journal. (7)

I am a strong advocate for First Amendment rights. That said, I have no worthwhile education when it comes to the organizations on that list. I would like to believe the United States Department of State has a very good reason for each organization to appear on that list. I would like to believe the U.S. Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies has a very good reason to seemingly ignore the First Amendment with respect to people like Jubair Ahmad and Javed Iqbal. I say I would like because so long as powerful people like Ed Rendell, Andrew Card, and John Bolton are not prosecuted alongside people like Jubair Ahmad and Javed Iqbal I have to wonder what is really going on in the United States.

How is it the rich and powerful (1%) have First Amendment rights but those same rights are no longer applicable to those of less wealth and power (99%)?


  1. US Department of State: Foreign Terrorist Organizations
  2. http://www.scribd.com/doc/63816237/Jubair-Ahmad-Affidavit
  3. http://newsroom-magazine.com/2011/executive-branch/justice-department/jubair-ahmad-pleads-guilty-to-lashkar-e-tayyiba-support-charges/
  4. http://www.salon.com/2011/08/10/mek_2/singleton/
  5. Wikipedia on Ed Rendell
  6. Wikipedia on Andrew Card
  7. Wikipedia on John Bolton

Posted in Freedom Under Attack | Leave a Comment »

NDAA – Obama approves martial law short cut

Posted by troublemaker on January 2, 2012

If I told you that U.S. president Obama can and will arrest, detain, and even execute U.S. citizens without “indictment of a Grand Jury”, you would probably think I am a conspiracy theory nut case. If I told you that there is nothing the courts can do about it, you’d probably think I were speaking about some secret government plot. The scariest part of this tail is that I am not speaking about a secret government conspiracy at all. Despite the constitutional safeguards against such conduct, the executive branch of the U.S. government is not only doing these things right out in the open, it is passing laws which make such actions superficially legal.

Earlier, we warned our readers that martial law was about to be effectively imposed in the United States (See: Martial Law Declared in the United States). If the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) were passed, that U.S. citizens could be arrested anywhere in the world (including within the United States) and held indefinitely without a trial. We pointed out that if NDAA were made law, that the right of right to habeas corpus was suspended.

Habeas Corpus literally means “you may have the body” (1). In the United States, it is one of the most basic civil rights. At its essence, a writ of Habeas Corpus is a demand that the government demonstrate how it is that a person has been legally detained. Without that right, a person may be arrested and held indefinitely without ever having his case heard by a court or jury of his peers. Without the right to habeas corpus, several sections of the Constitution of the United States of America and its amendments become null and void.

In the United States, the act of suspending the right to habeas corpus is broader than an attack on the civil rights of U.S. citizens; it is an attack on the foundation of that country. Like many other free nations, the basic structure of government includes a system of checks and balances exist called the “Separation of Powers”. In the United States, three branches of government exist which each exert authority on the other. In the United States, those three branches are the Legislative (Congress), Executive (President), and the Judicial (Courts). Suspending habeas corpus, severely limits the Judicial branch’s ability to check and balance the executive branch. Should NDAA be signed into law, the president of the United States could order a US citizen to be arrested and held indefinitely. Without habeas corpus, the Judicial branch (the courts) cannot demand the Executive branch (the president) show that a detention was legal.

On December 31, 2011 CNN reported that U.S. President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law (3). Although the executive branch may now order the arrest and indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without the constitutional right to a grand jury, we have the current president’s promise that he will not use those new powers against U.S. citizens.

“I want to clarify that my administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens,” – US president Obama quoted by CNN (3)

U.S. President Obama’s promise might be believed if he had not previously made the unilateral decision to put U.S. citizens to death without so much as a grand jury entitlement. While many are aware of the drone attack which killed U.S. Citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki for suspected support of terrorists (4), few question how it was that the President of the United States can order the death of a U.S. citizen. Even less people are even aware that at least two other U.S. citizens were put to death after Al-Awlaki and that each of those deaths was ordered by President Obama without so much as a grand jury indictment.

“CIA and military strikes this fall killed three U.S. citizens, two of whom were suspected al-Qaida operatives.” – Arizona Daily Star (5)

Although one can argue that the executions of these U.S. citizens and even the “Capture or Kill List” that the United States now maintains is necessary for the security of a free nation, the decision on who it is that must die should not rest in the hands of one person or one branch of government. This is why the framers of the U.S. Constitution not only incorporated a system of checks and balances; they specifically forbad actions like these executions from being decided by the government itself.

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” – The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution (6)

It is a “Grand Jury” who has the right to order a person to stand trial for a “capital, or otherwise infamous crime” and it is a jury who decides guilty and punishment. While one might argue the cases arose “in the land or naval forces”, we are not speaking about a battlefield or even with military involvement. We are speaking about the CIA following the orders of the president to execute U.S. citizens. While it might well be that the world is better off without those who have been executed, it is the very core of a free nation to depend on the people (the 99%) for such decisions rather than one person (the 1%) or even one branch of government.

Make no mistake, although President Obama has promised he will not use the authority granted by the NDAA against U.S. citizens, he has already done just the opposite before he signed NDAA into law. If the actions of the U.S. government do not scare you, you should at a very minimum be afraid of whatever it is that has caused that government to believe these actions are required.

  1. Habeas Corpus explained at Wikipedia.
  2. Separation of Powers explained at Wikipedia.
  3. CNN: Obama signs defense bill ‘with reservations’
  4. Mediaite: US Citizen And Top Terrorist Suspect Anwar Al-Awlaki Killed In Drone Attack
  5. Arizona Daily Star: Under Obama, a huge rise in drone strikes
  6. The Fifth Amendment at Wikipedia

Posted in Freedom Under Attack | Leave a Comment »

New Year’s Revolution

Posted by troublemaker on January 1, 2012

Last night, the Constitution of the United States of America was figuratively shredded, tossed to the ground, and urinated on by the City of New York. While Americans were distracted by the festivities of New Year’s Eve, police did not bother with their previous façade of enforcing park rules and city code. When citizens of the United States of America assembled in a public park, police ordered them to leave with no explanation. When they used the sidewalk to leave, police demanded the sidewalk was also closed. When they left the area, they learned that to their group additional parts of the city were now closed. When credentialed agents of the press tried to document the event, the police shoved the press aside.

“One officer used two hands to repeatedly shove backwards a credentialed news photographer who was preparing to document an arrest.” – New York Times (1)

What makes last night’s police assault on Occupy Wall Street so very important is that police made no attempt to use the façade of enforcing park rules or city code. Nobody was camping. The park is open 24 hours a day and sidewalks are intended to be walked upon. So just what was the difference between protesters in Zuccotti Park and revelers in Time Square this New Year’s Eve? The message being spread by those who occupied Time Square was approved by city officials and the message being spread by those who occupied Zuccotti Park was not.

“It’s absurd to block people out of a public park.” – Jesse LaGreca quoted by New York Daily Times (3)

Yes Jesse, it is absurd that one of the richest men in the United States (1%) would celebrate New Year’s Eve midtown with Lady Gaga while police carried out his orders to clear a city park of those who seek to call attention to the struggles of the poor (99%). We imagine Mayor Bloomberg (1%) was bringing in the New Year when one of his many aids informed him that the 99% had entered the park. Did he respond by ordering “Operation Let them Eat Cake”?

With the Christmas season come and gone, our television commercials have moved from gift ideas to New Year’s Eve resolutions. Instead of the near constant drone telling us where we can save money, commercials switched to telling us how to make our belly smaller, our penis larger, and our social life more active. If not an advertisement for weight watchers, it was Smiling Bob or Match.com. As thousands watched the ball drop in Time Square, many wondered what Occupy Wall Street was up to. With so many people glued to their TV set to watch Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Time Square, surely protesters would want to take advantage of the free air time. Instead, they were back in Zuccotti Park. Where better to Occupy New Year’s Eve?

“Whose year? Our year!” – New York Times quotes protester (1)

Protesters raised the American flag (2) and set about celebrating New Year’s Eve in traditional Occupy style. Drums rather than party noise makers echoed through the park. Signs and banners flew. Dancers did their part to bring a sense of festivity to Occupy Wall Street’s New Year’s Eve celebration. Police and the City of New York had a different idea.

Although the Zuccotti Park is open 24 hours a day, around 1:30 in the morning on New Year’s Day, a police commander used a bull horn to announce that the park was closing until 9:00 AM. No explanation was given. Shortly thereafter, police announced the sidewalks are also closed and ordered protesters to cross Broadway.

With Zuccotti Park closed for an unknown reason and sidewalks around Zuccotti Park closed for the same unknown reason, the protesters marched north until they encountered a police blockade. Protesters claim they changed their route, doubling back, only to encounter another police blockade. This went on until the evening ended in arrests.

“We were trying to go to Tompkins Square Park,” Isham Christie quoted by New York Times (1)

It seems obvious that Mayor Bloomberg’s New Year’s resolution is not to let the Constitution and Bill of Rights much up his Plutonomy. We the people should make an even firmer resolution not to allow the Plutonomy to much up our democracy.



  1. New York Times: Surging Back Into Zuccotti Park, Protesters Are Cleared by Police
  2. Huffington Post: Before Midnight, Occupy Wall Street Activists Retake Zuccotti Park
  3. New York Daily Times: Protesters Occupy New Year in Zuccotti Park

Posted in Action / Protest Updates | Leave a Comment »

Freedom of Speech is Potentially Offensive

Posted by troublemaker on December 28, 2011

I am a citizen of the United States of America. On my mother’s side of the family, each man that we can count served his country in the military. Her brother served. Her father served. Her grandfather served. My father was the first in his line that was eligible for US military service. As the child of a German immigrant, serving took a bit of creative genealogy as at the time the U.S. was at war with Germany. My father even lied about his age to be eligible to defend the country of his birth. My service was not during war time, but I too served. None in my family were drafted. None in my family were career military. Each served because he loved the country of his birth. That family tradition will end with my children. Although I served my country, I cannot in good conscious ask my children to do the same because doing so requires first swearing an oath to God which amounts to a flat lie.

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” – From the US Army (1)

When I joined the military, I understood I would be setting aside certain rights in order to insure that those rights would continue for civilians. In the military, things such as freedom of speech must often be set aside to create a cohesive fighting force. If given a lawful order, questioning that lawful order can be counterproductive to unit moral. As the president of the United States is both a political figure and the literal commander in chief of the military, it is a very good idea for active members of the military to participate in politics only silently. This is why we tend to see military uniforms worn by Occupy protesters only when they are retired or otherwise no longer on active duty.

Today, we must ask what is it exactly that our military fights for if not the way of life described and guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States of America. While I will continue to teach my children the reverence and respect that our fighting men and women are entitled, I refuse to encourage my children to swear an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America to secure a position in which their job is to defend the very people who threaten that constitution. While other nations and rogue terrorists are certainly a threat to our way of life, the greater threat has shown itself to be our own government.

Tennessee Code Title 39, Chapter 17, Part 3 section 308 on Harassment (2)

It is illegal to: “(4)    Communicates with another person by any method described in subdivision (a) (1), without legitimate purpose:””(ii) In a manner the defendant knows, or reasonably should know, would frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress to a similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities; and

“(B) As the result of the communication, the person is frightened, intimidated or emotionally distressed.”

Although part (i) requires “malicious intent” there is no such provision in part (ii). As the definition of the methods includes “telephone, in writing or by electronic communication, including, but not limited to, text messaging, facsimile transmissions, electronic mail or Internet services”, it is entirely possible I am breaking Tennessee law by sharing the painting of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and his lovely wife here in this article.

Governor Bill Haslam and His Wife Crissy

Governor Bill Haslam and His Wife Crissy

We first became aware of the relatively new Tennessee law via Brandt Hardin, the artist who created the satirical painting at left. However, the law in Tennessee is just the latest successful attack against the Constitution of the United States. Although the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and the interpreted right to freedom of expression, it has long been held that such a freedom is not all inclusive. It has long been held that you may not yell “fire” in a crowded movie house. Such a restriction on freedom of speech does seem logical, however today it is illegal to do so even if that movie house is on fire. Why? Because it might interfere with sales at the concession stand.


“A jury in Minneapolis held blogger John (Johnny North side) Hoff liable for $60,000 in damages for a truthful post charging that the plaintiff was involved in a high-profile mortgage fraud case. The jury agreed with the plaintiff’s claim that the blogger had committed “tortious interference” by meddling with Moore’s employment.” – (4)

Former community leader Jerry Moore was fired from Jordan Area Community Council in January 2009. Moore was later employed by a university to study mortgage foreclosures. When community blogger John Hoff learned of Moore’s new position, Hoff published an article accusing Moore of being previously involved in a “high-profile fraudulent mortgage” (5). Moore was fired the day after the article was made public.
According to The Star Tribune, there was some connection with the Larry Maxwell who was sentenced to a 16 year prison stay. While we can speculate as to why Moore was not himself charged, the important issue in this case is that the statements made by John Hoff were presented in court as being truthful. If those statements had not been truthful, Moore could have sued for libel.

The Jury was right that the actions of Johnny Hoff met the definition of “tortious interference”, but wrong to have sided with the law and against the First Amendment. However, the right of Jury Nullification is not explained to jurors. Juries are commonly informed that they must rule based on the law rather than their sense of the law. As a result, the people are unable to express their true will. If legislators have removed a civil right, a jury is not allowed to restore that right. That situation begs the question what happened to having a jury of ones piers.

“Jane Kirtley, a U of M professor of media law and ethics, called the lawsuit an example of “trash torts,” in which someone unable to sue for libel, which by definition involves falsity, reaches for another legal claim. She predicted the verdict will be overturned.” (5)


Although some claim that cases like these are easily overthrown, we know of at least one man who was given what amounts to a death sentence for similarly truthful statements. In that case, after essentially being fired for becoming disabled, the defendant created an online protest against the Ohio incorporation he felt did not respect the Americans with Dissabuilities Act.

The plaintiff argued that the truth of the defendants statements were immaterial, that Ohio law makes “tortious interference” illegal without respect to the truth of statements made against an Ohio business. The defendant lost at summary judgment without so much as a jury of his peers because he foolishly argued that his detailing of the plaintiff’s illegal actions were true, proven by photographs and investigations conducted by that state’s Attorney General and Environmental Protection Agency. The decision, which included $250,000.00 in punitive damages (the largest amount legally awarded in the State of Ohio) amounts to a death sentence because those punitive damages cannot be dismissed by bankruptcy. The defendant, who is dependent on expensive medications to sustain his life, is permanently disabled. Judgement in hand, the plaintiff has seized the small business property which the defendant used to sustain his life giving medication. As we see in the Ohio case, if one cannot afford a defense attorney one does not in fact have a right to even a trial by jury. The last time I spoke with the Ohio man, his kidneys were failing due to lack of medication.

The Ohio case referenced dealt with internet postings on a server in Florida which were made from a lap top in Kentucky.  I conclude that the Ohio law makes truthful statements and critical commentary illegal across the globe if that critical commentary adversely effects a business within the state of Ohio.

Across the United States

Make no mistake. The attacks on the First Amendment are not limited to Tennessee, Minnesota, or Ohio. These laws are sweeping the nation. These laws are clear in their intention to protect business and politicians (the 1%) from the truthful speech, critical commentary, and even the right to inform the public of illegal activity. Their application is to shield the 1% from the growing power that the Internet has returned to the 99%. They are why my children will be raised to fight for the Constitution of the United States of America but not for the people who truly run it. Not with their service and not with their patronage.

Occupy Christmas during all seasons. Depend on small, local economy and keep your money from supporting further attacks on liberty.

Demand new laws which protect truthful speech and commentary because obviously the First Amendment simply is not enough where it is prohibited by law.


  1. http://www.history.army.mil/html/faq/oaths.html
  2. http://law.justia.com/codes/tennessee/2010/title-39/chapter-17/part-3/39-17-308/
  3. http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/07/potentially-offensive-portrait-governor.html
  4. http://www.jdsupra.com/post/documentViewer.aspx?fid=eba7d8dc-9bec-40c0-af42-dc7a5809a9f6
  5. http://www.startribune.com/local/117805398.html

Posted in Freedom Under Attack | Leave a Comment »

Sears and Kmart closing stores

Posted by troublemaker on December 28, 2011

Just two days after Christmas, Sears Holdings Corporation has announced that it will be closing between 100 and 120 stores, liquidating inventory, and restructuring. Instead of an increase in sales this holiday season, Sears Holdings Corporation has reported that the final quarter has shown a decrease in sales. Kmart is down 4.4% and Sears is down by 6% during the final quarter. (1) With that announcement, Sears Holding Corporation’s stock fell almost 30% today and that price continued to head downward as the market closed. Speaking on the announcement by Sears Holding Corporation, Newsday calls the holiday season “disastrous” (2) Best Buy offers a similar explanation to their decreased profit margin. Earlier in December, shares in Best Buy dropped 15% after the results of Black Friday sales became public knowledge. The explanation is that they drastically lowered prices to attract consumers. So while sales volume increased, the profit margin decreased.(3) Although Wal-Mart, Maces, and a few others seem to have come out of this holiday season with the approval of Wall Street (4) it is still too early to know if strategies to increase sales volume cut into profits at those retailers as well.

Meanwhile, Washington continues to tell us that the bailout worked, the economy is back on its feet, and it is just a matter of time before we see prosperity again. With unemployment at almost 10%, college educated people being counted as employed even though they are flipping burgers, and foreclosures forcing more and more people to become homeless; we are forced to wonder whose prosperity Washington is talking about.

As the holidays season comes to an end, it is time to not only Occupy Christmas, but to protect ourselves and our family with the ideas behind Occupy Christmas. It’s time to shift from purchasing gifts from local businesses to purchasing groceries locally. It is time we shield ourselves from the crumbling of a huge global economy by developing smaller more local economies.


  1. The Toronto Star: Sears Announces Disappointing Quarter-To-Date Results, Store Closing Plan; Shares Under Review
  2. News Day: At least 100 Kmart, Sears stores closing
  3. http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20111213-714957.html
  4. Reuters: From Macy’s to Sears, tales of holiday highs, lows

Posted in Action / Protest Updates | Leave a Comment »

Maintaining the Plutonomy

Posted by troublemaker on December 27, 2011

Chances are you have heard or read that the Occupy and 99% movement believes there is an international inequity in wealth. What most people do not seem to understand is that the core principle of the Occupy / 99% movement does not consider the inequality in wealth itself to be wrong. The inequality that is wrong is the political power. Instead of being firmly seated with the people (the 99%), it is wielded mostly by the wealthy (the 1%). The main grievance the Occupy / 99% movement is not about wealth, it is about power. While inequity in wealth might seem to be the core complaint of the movement, the protest is really about returning democracy to what has become a plutocracy.

“Plutocracy is rule by the wealthy or power provided by wealth.” (1)

The easiest and most general way to explain the demand of the Occupy / 99% movement is to say that we want a level playing field. This is why most decisions in the Occupy / 99% movement are made by direct democracy. Within the movement, a homeless person who lives under a bridge has one vote. Within the movement, a real estate broker who lives in a half million dollar home has one vote. Unfortunately, direct democracy is not very quick to make decisions. This is why many large democracies exist as representative democracies. Instead of requiring that all decision be made by a vote of the people, the people elect representatives who can more efficiently reach decisions.

What happens when those representatives begin listening to the wealthy 1% of the people more than they listen to the rest of the people (99%)? Although it can be argued that a pure plutonomy has not existed since antiquity, when representatives pay more attention to the wealthy 1% than the rest of the people (the 99%) we have the beginning of a plutonomy and the ending of a democracy. If you believe that notion is part of a strange conspiracy theory, consider the fact that the plan has been observed not only by the 99% but by the 1% as well.

In a Citigroup “Industry Note”, dated October 16, 2005; Citigroup advised its wealthiest clients that in the United States the top 1% of households account for more wealth than the bottom 99%. That and other observations in the memo might seem purely statistical if not for the tone of the memo. At the top of the memo, we see that what we are reading is an endorsement of the growing “Plutonomy”. In the October 16 document, Citigroup explains that the United States, United Kingdom and Canada are already “key Plutonomies”.

“The World is divided into two blocks – The plutonomy and the rest. The U.S., UK, and Canada are the key Plutonomies, economies powered by the wealthy.” – Citigroup Industry Note dated October 16, 2005 (2)

The very existence of Citigroup seems to indicate their observation that the wealthy run the United States is correct. It was not until Robert E. Rubin became the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury that businesses like Citigroup were legal in the United States. After leaving his position as the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Rubin became the Chairman at Citigroup. Shortly thereafter, he resigned from that position after being compensated an estimated $126 million dollars in cash and stock. Prior to his position as the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Rubin spent 26 years with Goldman Sax. See Robert E. Rubin for more information. Citigroup is right to use the word because what word other than “Plutonomies” would describe an economy where the rich take positions within the government so they can overturn laws which prevent them from making even more money?

On March 5, 2006 Citigroup issued a follow up Industry Note (3). That note assures the 1% that they are not only in good shape, but that the economic inequity continues to grow to fuel the lifestyles of the kings of plutonomy. Citigroup created the Industry Note of March 5, 2006 to further bang the drum of plutonomy.

“We thought this was a good time to bang the drum on plutonomy.” – From Citigroup Industry Note dated March 5, 2006

While one might think the beat of that drum would change when Citigroup had serious financial problems in 2008, they did what the wealthy do in a plutonomy. They simply demanded more of the 99%. In the case of Cigitgroup they demanded a bail out and received $45 billion dollars from U.S. tax payers via the U.S. government. Why? Because Citigroup is right, we live in a Plutocracy. We live in a culture where the rich rule.

“Citigroup stayed afloat with three bailouts totaling [SIC] $45 billion in federal funds.” – New York Times (4)

Although the press reported that Citigroup CEO Prandit was receiving a token salary of only $1.00 per year, in May of 2011, Citigroup CEO was rewarded with a $23.2 million dollar “retention package” (4).

As our elected officials are not willing to do it themselves, it is time for a direct democracy to overtake the plutonomy which pretends to be a representative democracy. To rob the power from Citigroup and other big banks, simply withhold your money. Move your savings, checking, and mortgages to smaller, local savings and loans. If you have money with which to invest, do so in your own community. Drive these money changers from the temple by not bringing your money to that temple.

Every time you spend a dollar you cast a vote. Vote these people OUT.


  1. Plutocracy as defined at Wikipedia
  2. Citigroup Industry Note dated October 16, 2005
  3. Citigroup Industry Note dated March 5, 2006
  4. New York Times: Citigroup Inc. 2011 Earnings Third Quarter

Posted in Corporate Greed | Leave a Comment »

Nashville’s Reoccupation

Posted by troublemaker on December 26, 2011

The eviction of Occupy Berkeley, California left many people wondering who exactly runs the city of Berkeley. There, city council members had no idea the eviction was planned nor could those council members reach anyone in city government for an explanation. Even representatives from the district in which Occupy Berkley established its encampment were in the dark concerning the eviction. (See Occupy Berkeley Eviction). Earlier in the year we saw an even more dramatic example of how we do not know who runs our cities.

Who is in charge of the city of Nashville? Our first thought is that the mayor of Nashville is. Why then did State Troopers, who we assume report to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, raid Occupy Nashville back in October? If the mayor and city of Nashville were behind the raid, why are they not named in the ACLU lawsuit (2)? If the county were involved, why did the county refuse to ratify the State Trooper’s decision to arrest the protesters? The county decision effectively made it impossible for State Troopers to put protesters in the county jail. After that court decision, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam ordered all charges dropped against the protesters. Later, a Federal Court would decide that the limitations placed on protesters were unconstitutional.

“Since state troopers raided the encampment in late October and made 55 arrests, the state has had to back down. Gov. Bill Haslam ordered the charges dropped when Nashville courts refused to jail the protesters, and the state isn’t fighting a federal court order that found the raids had violated the First Amendment rights of the protesters.” – WSMV TV Nashville (1)

After the eviction, a lawsuit was filed by the ACLU (2). Named defendants included Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and two other state level administrators. (2) That lawsuit does not name city or county officials.

We imagine your head is spinning as wildly as ours, but there it is: “…the state has had to back down.” (1) Why on earth would the state take actions against protesters within the city of Nashville? Isn’t the city controlled by the mayor and city council elected to represent the citizens of Nashville? Do we not live in a representative democracy?


  1. WSMV TV Nashville – Protesters occupy Legislative Plaza on Christmas Day
  2. Lawsuit filed by the ACLU

Posted in Action / Protest Updates | 2 Comments »