Archive | October, 2011

Occupy Calgary & Muslim Heritage Day – October 29th 2011

31 Oct

At Occupy Calgary’s GA Saturday night, a few of the organizers offered their full support for the Occupy Movement. They thanked us for being fully cooperative of their Muslim Heritage Day event, and said were quite surprised to see all our tents moved away when they began setting up at 6:30 am, they assumed they would have to help! 

The organizers know that what we are trying to express is the same thing that their faith of Islam has been saying for centuries, that love and unity and peace are the ONLY way forward for our humanity. Their holy text, the Koran even states that usury (interest on debt) is a thing to be avoided if peace is to be achieved. 

The organizers graciously offered a couple of trays of some delicious rice as a token of their support. They also asked for anyone in their community that had time to visit Occupy Calgary to do so, or to even camp out with us. After a big group hug, we as Occupy Calgary knew we just made some great new partners going forward. We were reinforced in our conviction that a new world IS possible. We need only connect and share as brothers and sisters. 

Islam has produced some wonderful art for the world to enjoy, the poem bellow by the Persian poet Hafez, called All the Hemispheres:

Leave the familiar for a while.
Let your senses and bodies stretch out

Like a welcomed season
Onto the meadow and shores and hills.

Open up to the Roof.
Make a new watermark on your excitement
And love.

Like a blooming night flower,
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
And giving
Upon our intimate assembly.

Change rooms in your mind for a day.

All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator
In your heart.

Greet Yourself
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel
Back home.

All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire
Chatting

While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of
You.

Challenging the Charter: A Calgary Alderman toys with a dangerous proposition – Mandi Schrader

31 Oct


Calgary Alderman Diane Colley-Urquhart was quoted recently in the Calgary Sun as saying, “The precedent this is setting equally disturbs me because it’s really going to change the nature of any future protests or rallies when people like this can hide behind the Charter.”

People like who, Diane? Do you mean Canadians?

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states the freedom of peaceful assembly as a fundamental freedom.

Fundamental adjective

Definition: forming the base, from which everything else develops; more important than anything else.

So here we are, waving our signs and attempting to shine a light on disparity in wealth, which naturally means disparity in power. A Canadian politician, annoyed by the inconvenience of our insistent presence, has the temerity to suggest that the freedoms each Canadian citizen is fundamentally entitled to, truly the last flag of equality we can trust and cling to, ought to be waived in favor of a bylaw.

And they call us confused.

Fundamental: forming the base – the foundation upon which Canada is built. How is it possible to hide behind that which upholds you?

Speaking of setting disturbing precedents, I wonder if anyone, even those who disagree 100% with the Occupy movement, has the foresight to consider what would happen if we allowed this to pass without comment.

It goes well beyond considerations of dead grass, irritated taxpayers and media hype. If we allow a fundamental freedom to be pushed aside for any reason, we set the stage for the eventual breakdown of the Charter itself. Do we really, any of us, want to go down that road? Is it acceptable for a political representative of Canadian citizens to even suggest that Canadians sacrifice our Charter rights for the sake of appeasing Joe Public?

Hey, Joe Public, what if they try to take away freedom of conscience and religion next?

What I find really inspirational about this movement is how the longer it goes on the ugly side of humanity is taking the bait to reveal its true nature. The power structure, even at the fairly insignificant municipal level can’t help but take notice and is beginning to make our case for us. Is this the Canada we want to live in? Think carefully before committing to your answer.

Disagree with our ideas all you like. Don’t destroy the founding values of our country in the process. If you do so, you destroy them for ALL of us, including yourself.


Confused About Why We Are Mad? Occupy Movement Explained in One Minute

30 Oct

Are you confused why we are mad and wondering “What Is All This Rabble About?”

Are you angry we are in public spaces or “in your way” during your daily routine?

Are you a member of the media reporting on the story, and really don’t know for sure what it is we’re fighting for?

Listen to Alan Grayson, former Democrat representative of Florida explain the anger in just over one minute.

If you weren’t mad before and are infuriated now, let’s hear your comments!

The Occupy Calgary story you’re not seeing elsewhere – by Mercedes Allen

29 Oct

- re-posted with permission from the author, Mercedes Allen. Source: http://dentedbluemercedes.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/the-occupy-calgary-story-youre-not-seeing-elsewhere/

 

“Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here.”

Until the last couple days, that had been the mood in Calgary, as the Occupy Wall Street (#ows) movement seemed far from many peoples’ minds.  Sure, by now, everyone’s seen the graphs coming out about American inequality that show 1% of that population controlling an exponentially widening wealth gap that — no matter how one graphs it — makes a pretty clear case that a miniature black hole has sucked the lion’s share of money right out of the U.S. economy altogether.  All this, while the so-called “job creators” continue to lay off rising numbers and are rewarded with record bonuses for record profits.  It’s clearly not sustainable.  But that’s there, right?  The Federal Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, reassures us that Canada is far better off, having a “very progressive tax system.”

“Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here.”  So why are people tenting in downtown Calgary and refusing to leave?

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell

City residents’ first impulse was to write the Occupy Calgary participants off as “lazy,” “loony” or “looking for a free ride…” because in a relatively productive and flourishing Alberta, the worries seem far away.  Well, except that they don’t really seem THAT far away, given that extended health insurance has jumped, mortgages and rents have skyroketed, quality jobs are harder to find, and the wages (which haven’t changed much) don’t go as far as they used to.  News reports are talking about grain prices driving the cost of food up yet again, and there’s talk that gas could go over $2 per litre in six months.  But it’s not that bad.  Not that bad….

“Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here.”

They must be all students, the reasoning goes — tuition keeps skyrocketing, after all.  And homeless people.  And activists. And the unemployed.  And disabled people.  And Aboriginal people.  The photos and footage sure seems to bear that out.

The first general assembly, Olympic Plaza, October 15th, 2011

Which would make sense, because students, the homeless, the unemployed, the disabled and activists who assist disenfranchised people regularly have felt the economic disparity for longer, and with more intensity than many.  And for the First Nations, the disparity has been felt the longest by far, being a nation that is still literally colonized by another nation in ways that the public has grown so used to that it’s become blind to it.  Of course, they’d be the first.  But inequality hasn’t stopped there… and so the collection of people gathering at Occupy Calgary hasn’t stopped there, either.

The Raging Grannies sing at the original rally

Challenges

The temperatures have been dropping.  It’s a matter of weeks (or, if we’re unlucky even days) before we plunge into the -30 degree C temperatures that will inevitably have to send everyone for shelter and warmth.  Yet as the temperatures have been dropping, the number of tents has been rising.  After the October 15th rally, just under 20 tents were set up in Olympic Plaza.  Today, it’s closer to 50.  Which seems small until you realize that because of an early planning and communication problem, there are two camps.

A park in St. Patrick’s Island is home to the second encampment.  It had been set up before the General Assembly had come to any kind of consensus, and the city is trying to present it as the “real” encampment.  Still, much of the attention and organizing and activity happens at Olympic Plaza, from participants who find the St. Pats camp too distant from downtown, too invisible, and too easily cut off from the city or arbitrarily shut down with little recourse.  Which is not to say either camp is more “right,” but it’s divided the energy.  But in the end, the point may be moot.  The temperatures have been dropping.

During the day, the plaza is quiet.  During the day, the numbers are fewer, some of the campers still having to work.  From those who are gathered there, there’s a sense of optimism: a sense that whatever else may happen, the Occupy movement is destined to change things for the better.  And folks appear to be doing their best to keep the park clean, respect the surroundings — contrary to the reports of “$40,000 damage” (more on that in a moment) — and occupy peacefully.

But you have to look past “Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here” mantra in order to realize that if there’s this sense of determination among folks, in the face of media ridicule and dropping temperatures, then there must be something to see, after all.

The camp grows, despite the growing cold.

Calgarians Still Hold Hope of Being the 1%

Perhaps weirdly, the Calgary Sun’s Rick Bell had a point that part of the challenge that Occupy Calgary faces is that many of the corporate 1% have offices here, that Calgary has the highest income per capita in Canada, and that for the remaining 99%, there is still a strong temptation for middle-class people to think that they, too, could someday be better off than they are.  Or that there is “Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here.”  The elusive myth.

Murray Dobbin points out that although Canadians see bank bailouts as an American phenomenon, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation bought out uncertain mortgages to the tune of $70 billion — a tenth of the bailout amount in the U.S., but we also have a tenth of the population.

“Secondly, the Harper government established a fund of $200 billion to backstop the banks — money they could borrow if they needed it. The government had to borrow billions — mostly from the banks! — to do it. It’s euphemistically called the Emergency Financing Framework…”

From the centre of the October 15th rally. A similar number of people were behind us when we took this photo. Newspapers say only 400 people attended.

Why They Won’t Be.

Occupy participants have also not overlooked the fact that among the Harper Conservatives’ top priorities have been corporate tax cuts, market deregulations similar to those that triggered the American crisis, targeting of union funding and spending in the name of transparency (even though unions are not government institutions, and the Harper Conservatives certainly haven’t had the best record on that, themselves), and eliminating a per-vote subsidy that supported political parties based on their percentage of popular vote, rather than leaving parties dependent on mostly corporate funding.  This reflects Harper’s history as president of the National Citizens Coalition, when he took a challenge to the Supreme Court of Canada in an effort to strike down spending limits for corporations in Canadian elections.  He lost Stephen Harper v. Canada in 2004, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled differently in 2009′s Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission –a ruling which in a few short years has transformed that political landscape into one almost entirely favouring corporate welfare.  If unbridled corporate influence, paired with reducing the electorate’s influence, is the agenda of the man who shapes our laws, then there is certainly a need for Canadians to speak up now — before the unnerving struggle felt now becomes “the good old days.”

Sanctuary in the shadow of the towers.

I don’t know how you fix the amount of economic disparity that exists in America.  But in Canada, we can start by averting our path.  Immediately.

In a speech to the Council for National Policy, the future Prime Minister said, “Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it,” which was seen as a challenge to Canada’s social and economic equalization programs.  And indeed, everything that has facilitated economic disparity — from Ronald Reagan to today — is being echoed in the current government’s positions and policies.

Linda McQuaig at the Toronto Star points out that:

Adding a new marginal tax rate of 60 per cent to those earning over $500,000 a year, and a 70 per cent rate to those earning over $2.5 million a year — rates that would simply restore the progressivity that existed during Canada’s booming postwar decades — would raise almost $8 billion a year, according to Osgoode Hall tax professor Neil Brooks.

Yet this $8 billion interests Flaherty so little that he can’t be bothered to collect it.

“Nothing to see here. Nothing to see here.”  Except that the value of our dollar and our influence over the government that is supposed to represent us are dropping.  The Occupy Wall Street movement is as much an opposition to oligarchy — even if not in name — as it is to economic disparity.

The banner of the Occupy Calgary rally, first day of occupation.

Not An Easy Pill To Swallow

Some of the Calgary establishment hasn’t been too happy to hear this, either.  The periodic pilgrimages of black limousines past Olympic Plaza on the way to Teatro Ristorante, the nervous glances from the affluent passengers who climb out… there is definitely an unease in the air and a contingent that wishes Occupy Calgary would just go away. Supporters along Macleod Trail seem almost clandestine, afraid, with tiny, careful taps of the horn as they pass by.  Patrons at the Centre for the Performing Arts have an unnerving view of the camp.  If an Occupy action is necessary, then perhaps it is especially so in Calgary.

City officials have been mixed and at times supportive.  For all the experiences of police brutality elsewhere, it’s apparent here that at least some of the Calgary Police Service have noted the cuts being forced on public and emergency personnel in the U.S.  And Occupy participants, conversely, have been as agreeable as possible on every point except for surrendering Olympic Plaza, even moving aside for a previously scheduled ICNA Muslim Heritage Day event — and ICNA, in respect for that the campers stand for, offered Occupy Calgary a table in return.  The City and its diverse inhabitants have never been the “enemy,” and both sides (at this point) seem happy to keep it that way.

The infamous Obama-mask guy. “Rothschilds” is a reference to lore about an alleged Jewish banker conspiracy, although most attendees were unfamiliar with the reference and oppose the implicit and possibly unintended racism.

But the media hasn’t been so kind.  I wrote recently about how media can spin things to be unflattering toward Occupy movements, when I’d compared Ezra Levant’s “17 clips” of Occupy Toronto and claims of “cult mentality” to other footage of his visit and an understanding of the human microphone.  Occupy Calgary has been facing some of the strongest media opposition, from both major papers and some stations.  After EMS did an inspection of first aid kits and missing items were put on a wants list, the request for condoms was trumpeted to mean that the camp had become some kind of public orgy.  Claims were made about public obscenities on signs, and a mention of “Rothschilds” (which most probably didn’t understand the meaning of) on a sign brandished by someone in an Obama mask at the initial rally on October 15th was used to claim that participants were anti-semites.  Early Friday morning, the Calgary Fire Department converged on Olympic Plaza after someone reported seeing candles (open flame is prohibited in the park).

The Nebulous $40,000 “and Rising”

And then, there is the $40,000 damage being reported nationwide.  Except that everybody who has been going to the square has been completely confused as to where the damage is.  Photos of City crews draining the pool and hosing down the concrete for routine pre-winter preparation have been juxtaposed with the articles to create the impression that some major reconstruction is underway.  City crewmen, meanwhile, have been among those scratching their heads over talk about damage to the washrooms, which is also barely visible and some attribute to non-camping passers-by.

Photos of routine maintenance juxtaposed with allegations of damage

So far, the “damage” that has been publicly trumpeted is with regard to the sod.  It’s said that the sod wasn’t made for camping, and that tent coverage is killing it.  Which might be true if the ground were frozen.  But in current weather conditions, the warmth and retention of moisture and electrolytes are actually a benefit — which is why golf courses tarp their greens.  There is in fact one section of sod that isn’t faring as well, on strips too narrow for tents and largely not used by Occupy people — a section that was also not faring well back when we visited the Plaza in preparation for Calgary Pride, in early September.  It’s a heavy-traffic downtown square with regular events, after all.  Some of the photos here were taken when the rally began, and some after the reports of “damage” became national headlines.  You decide.

The mystery of the “$40,000 damage”

Maybe reporters should be asking deeper questions, rather than looking for participants’ flaws while taking tent-counts with “only 30 minutes on the meter.”  On Friday, Calgary social workers came out to rally and show their support.  Whether or not the media notes (or even sees) it, the movement is growing.

Calgary Sun columnist Rick Bell counts the tents, looks for new signs, and misses a solidarity rally by a little over an hour.


“First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you.” — Nicholas Klein, 1918 (a similar quote, attributed to Gandhi, is apparently disputed)

No one is looking for monuments, only reasonable balance.  People are starting to ask questions.  Should there be a maximum wage?  Should a nation’s largest corporation really be able to get away without paying any tax at all?  Even if their jobs are complex, are CEOs really worth 343 times as much as the median average of all a company’s employees?  Or reap bonuses that are many times over what the average employee makes in a year?

Until now, such questions have been dismissed as fringe poor peoples’ sense of “entitlement” — even as the same corporate and banking entities have taken handouts and are looking to strip union bargaining power.  In America, Republicans are using anti-abortion and anti-contraception legislation as a preoccupation to keep jobs bills from passing, while demanding that Medicare and Social Security be sacrificed to pay the deficits generated by a legacy of corporate and top-level tax cuts.

In Canada, the national average salary as of 2010 was $42,000 per year.  Canada’s top CEO earned that amount in four days.  Canada has the fourth largest level of inequality among its peers already, and that has been rising faster than it has in the U.S.  That gap is largest in Alberta.

Irrationally exuberant… because the world is starting to listen.

Is this the Canada we want?  Is this the Calgary we want?  Or are you simply prepared to accept that New Normal?

Are you among the 99%?

Now is the time to change it.  And now is the opportunity to speak and be heard.

(Some of these photos are mine, but most were taken by talented partner, for which I am grateful.  Crossposted to rabble.ca)

A Simple Explanation

29 Oct

Calgary Herald And Sun Accused Of Malicious Defamation – Mandi Schrader

29 Oct

Wow! That headline sure got your attention, didn’t it? Sounds like a story of impending lawsuits and high profile dirt, doesn’t it? It isn’t untrue, but if I didn’t tell you that the accusation was unofficial and took place on a Facebook wall you might find your perception of those two publications already seriously coloured by that statement.

The media portrayal of the Olympic Plaza campers is a very good illustration of the way we are spoon fed the information someone wants us to have and how that information can be skewed to support a particular bias. We tend to think that if it were newsworthy if would be in the news, right?

We all understand that many things must be happening right under our noses. We have all had someone in our lives lie or hide the truth but we don’t imagine that our public sources of information could do so.  Why do we imagine that the people controlling our economy are immune to the enormous tendency toward crime and predatory behaviour  in the human soul? Why is it easier to imagine a bad guy holding up a bank than a bad guy running it? Yet we tend to place our trust in institutions that we really know very little about. I have found http://www.albertafraud.com/ very interesting.

We know that corporate crime does happen frequently, but we don’t consider how often and who the victims might be. We never think the victim might be ourselves. We don’t consider how often our system of law allows loopholes for criminals to slip through if they are wealthy.

We know that the hand is quicker than the eye, yet we trust media sources without question to present accurate, complete information. How often do you think they do? How much important information do you think might not be presented?

In the case of the occupiers, what I have witnessed is people picking up litter they didn’t leave there and caring for the park better than the city does. I don’t mean to take a shot at the city in saying so. They can’t have people standing around to pick up every cigarette butt that gets tossed on the ground. Right now at Olympic Plaza however, they do. I can’t imagine one of those people deliberately damaging the facilities they were provided by the city. That is because despite all the disagreement, lack of knowledge and tremendous amount of information to sift through to even begin to untangle one issue from another (impossible, incidentally) there is, I think, a very specific goal.

The entire point of what these people are doing is to show that you MUST respect the place you live and the people you live with. I think that is truly at the heart of the very diverse range of issues being discussed not only in Calgary, but globally. Respect doesn’t mean caving to the demands of people who want something but won’t stand up for it themselves. It means recognition of common humanity. Treating persons as persons. Sometimes the greatest respect is shown through active disagreement.

Are we capable of dealing with humans on a human level? We are afraid of each other. That is the truth. Our fear of each other can manifest as hatred and the need to shut others out, tear down, control or destroy. It can also mean appeasing, forgetting, ignoring or spinning information to eliminate responsibility. It depends whether or not we feel we can take control of what we fear. One way to take control is to turn public opinion against the thing feared. This is very often the beginning of a justification for violent acts. One could say that manufactured public opinion is sometimes the seed of violent acts, thusly an act of violence in itself.

So do we have a group of peaceful, respectful protesters who have worked with the city to share the park, cleaning up after themselves and other users, moving the tents aside to allow sprinkler maintenance and meeting with the leader of the Muslim non profit organization who has booked the Plaza for Oct 29 to ensure the needs of both are met? Or do we have a gang of lazy anarchist squatters holding the Plaza hostage, destroying the facilities they depend on and terrorizing the public so they don’t dare enter the park?

Never mind the fact that Olympic Plaza has always been a well known area of crime and drug use and it is probably safer to be there now than it has been since the ’88 Olympics thanks to the presence of the occupiers. The organizers of the Muslim Day of Peace who have offered Occupy Calgary an info table at their event don’t seem particularly terrorized. Never mind that the majority of occupiers camping there are working full time jobs or going to school while sleeping in the cold and subjecting themselves to general public ridicule just to try to raise awareness of the fact that something in our society is very wrong and this wrong affects all of us. If Licia Corbella or Rick Bell pull some clever sleight of hand with the facts we can dismiss this protest and it’s message utterly. We will feel smugly justified in ignoring this call for awareness and go back to watching “reality” tv, secure in the knowledge that since those hippies are annoying us and some of them are confused about the issues, it must automatically follow that nothing is wrong with our economy and we should just keep unquestioningly accruing debt and destroying the environment.

That is some classic media logic there isn’t it? They can actually use the movement against itself to reinforce the existing order. People believe that the little bites in the news really do accurately represent the whole truth. And all we can do is stand in a park with a sign that points to a side of the truth people never see (even when they are looking it right in the face) and hope someone will listen.

I can haz feezburger?

28 Oct

They're not ALL fat cats.

Why support the occupy movements? – Because we want to better all of humanity! – Chelsea Ranger

28 Oct

A message to the general population of Calgary :

There has been a lot of media surrounding the occupy Calgary movement, most of it has been negative press regarding the “bums” camping out in the park “freeloading” on the tax payers. I would like to take a moment to present the issues as one of the voices of this collective movement.

It is understandable, to me, that the people of Calgary may take issue to a group of people seen to be breaking bylaws, and costing the tax payers money. This movement encompasses such a huge scale of social issues that it is easy to see how people become lost as to what we’re protesting.  First and foremost though, I must insist that the constitutional rights of the occupiers come before all bylaws, and it is wrong of media outlets to incite violent tactics against the occupants, whether in the form of spaying them with fire hoses, tear gas, beating with batons, or other commonly used police tactics used against rioters. If the common public of Calgary feels strong enough against this movement, the onus is upon them to go to the camp as a collective and voice their concerns to the occupants, hiding behind an armed force and making demands that they be removed is against their own constitution. They have the right to voice their concerns in a peaceful fashion, you do not have the right to demand violence be done against them, and to do so is morally wrong.

Why I support this global movement for social change :

Occupy together has acted as a staging ground for the voices of the people of the nations of the world to be heard. We in north America live in a highly corrupted social and capitalistic system that is driven by the ideals of greed, and the acquiring of monetary based assets. As a person who has strong moral and ethical beliefs I feel that my rights as a free human being on the planet are being violated by being forced into a materialistic and capitalistic society that is destroying the very thing that gives us life. I do not, as it stands, possess true freedom, and the infringement upon that basic right by the current government and monetary system is against my, and every person who agrees, constitutional right to life, liberty (The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life.) and security of the person.

I have no freedom, even my freedom isn’t free. Every time I say to someone I am not free to do as I choose they reply with the idea that I am free I just have to work to obtain the level of freedom I desire. I understand and appreciate that all must contribute to society if we wish to live within it, but I resent and hate that it is a system that forces you to play the capitalistic game in order to survive. There is, of course, always the option of being homeless, but how can I be any value to society if I cannot get a job because no one will employ someone who does not have access to a shower or washing machine? Such limited options, do not by the very definition of the word, constitute freedom. They constitute a system which forces fear upon its populace : work or have nothing, contribute in the following ways or having nothing, do not do these things and you are not of value to anyone or anything.

Our society assigns monetary values to lives of people, and the indoctrination of the whole of humanity – via globalization – to believe they’re of value if they own things of value. The capitalistic model serves the purpose of encouraging the masses to input productive time into societal needs, but it also strips many of their dignity and respect simply because they were not afforded the opportunities of those who are better off. Many people are trapped in sub-par jobs that pay low wages because they cannot obtain the money to better themselves via education, and so they are forever stuck washing toilets, performing back-breaking manual labour, or any of the low-end jobs that many people turn their noses up to. Why is the life of the woman who performs the need of empting my garbage at work nightly worth less than my life? Why is Bill Gates’ life worth so incredibly much more than that of everyone else’s? Yes, he did something good for humanity by giving the lame man access to the PC’s we now use, but why is he, as a human being and life on this planet, worth more than me?

If given the opportunity, I too could achieve something of value for humanity, but because I don’t have access to affordable education  I am currently of little to no value to my society even though I have a good degree of potential. As it stands I have already been stripped of the freedom to be of any value to anything other than gaining more capital to pay the bills that sustain my life, and will be stuck in that perpetual cycle until I can shake off the shackles of debt in the second half of my life, enjoy the latter half of my life if I am in good health, and die. There is something fundamentally wrong with the owning of peoples’ lives via debt.

It’s about leaving people without food, water and shelter, just because they do not have the capital to purchase them. There is enough of each of those things for each human being, but no one has enough money, or enough heart to purchase these things for the masses of less fortunate in third world countries. Every day we throw food in the garbage, both on a personal level and on a commercial level. We, in first world countries, live in a land of excess. We value nothing more than money, so we seek an excess of money we can then purchase things to assign worth to our own lives by the assigned value of the items we purchase. Why? Why do we so desperately seek bigger, better, and more to the detriment of the rest of our fellow peoples of earth, and the planet that is required to sustain our lives.

Why do we feel so entitled to leave our children with the debt of their parents generations both environmentally, and financially? Why do we war against one another in the name of religion, politics, and resources, when all we have to do is learn to share and have compassion for all. Why does our society allow for such practices that have the potential to lead to the extinction of all life on earth in the name of our pursuit of profits, and power?

Our society is sick; I do not wish to partake in it, but I do not have the freedom to choose, so I will instead take part in my right to speak out against it until the day it is revolutionized for the betterment of mankind, or the date of my death. This is why I support occupy together and all of the occupations across the globe.

$40,000 – And they call US ridiculous – Jason Devine

28 Oct

The attacks on the Occupy Calgary movement, specifically the Olympic Plaza camp component, have reached a fevered pitch. Not content with making criticisms of the camp based on ideological differences, the opponents of the camp in City Hall and the media have resorted to increased slander and exaggerations, coupled with downright falsehoods.

The claim has been made that campers have been physically fighting and needed police to pull them apart. That is not true. There have been fights and problems with substance abuse, not on the part of the campers, but on the part of our fellow human being who are suffering from homelessness. A basic reason why the camp was set up was precisely to bring attention to these social ills in the first place. And the campers have been striving to help their sisters and brothers get the help and resources they are so clearly lacking in this city.

There is a basic assumption that the camp attracts these problems. The fact is that camp or no camp, these social ills will continue. They are not an indictment of the camp, but of this city’s and province’s inability to solve them. As to the claim that the camp has cost the city $40,000 in damages, we ask in the name of transparency what the exact costs are and the proof they were caused by members of Occupy Calgary camp.

In our opinion, the city and media are really angry at the attention we have drawn to this city’s growing problem of homelessness. For, if we are removed, will they still raise a hue and cry? Do they really care for their fellow human who will still suffer in the cold, or who will temporarily escape the pain if their conditions through substance abuse?

We said before and we say again: That the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; our social institutions must be organized around the needs of people and the limits of the planet and not be organized around a profit motive. Upon corruption of that system, it is up to us to protect our communities. True democracies derive their power from the people and yet we are living in a time when corporations have alarming influence on our governments, resulting in the valuing of profit over people, self-interest over justice, and resulting in oppression over equality. We are being denied a voice in the democratic process of resource allocation, while corporations extract wealth from the people and the planet without our consent. Our peaceful assembly seeks to spark a discussion of these conditions with the hope of reclaiming power over our communities.

Occupy participant and Iraq war vet hospitalized; violence in Oakland

27 Oct

*Warning* The following item contains graphic images which may not be suitable for some audience members. Viewer discretion is advised!!

On October 25th, 2011, the Occupy Oakland movement unfortunately turned violent. Earlier in the day, police used force to evict the Occupy Oakland camp, citing concerns over public safety and public health.

Later in the evening, as participants continued to express their frustrations and anger, the situation escalated with police using tear gas, flash bang (or “concussion”) grenades and rubber bullets. Tragically, one participant, USMC Scott Olsen was severely injured with a fractured skull.

USMC Scott Olsen, critically injured on Oct 25th in Oakland, California

To MSNBC’s credit, a video up on youtube has some of the raw footage from the events of October 25th. Please be aware: the content is graphic and may be disturbing to some audience members.

Regardless of personal views, opposition to the movement’s message, or other personal criticisms… this is one time and hopefully the last where all people from all walks of life need to unite. Scott served two tours, fighting for the freedoms we are now using, fighting to defend us from those who would seek to harm us…and has come home. I pray for his recovery and for his family, for his friends.

If you wish to send Scott letters of support, the net is abuzz with an address. I cannot verify its accuracy but here it is:

USMC Scott Olsen
Highland Hospital
1411 East 31st Street
Oakland, CA 94602

Best wishes Scott, an a deep thank you for your service.

Lest we forget.

-by mike_yyc

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