•Yesterday's New York Times reported that the number of people stopped and frisked this year by the NYPD is at a record level. That happen to have been the topic we discussed in-depth Friday on: NewsDissector Radio Hour On PRN.Fm. The NY Times profiled one of our guests, officer Polanco who was suspended after speaking up against the numbers obsession in the Department, and for criticizing its policies. See Michael Powell’s May 7th report: “No Room for Dissent in a Police Department Consumed by the Numbers.”
On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of Spaniards marched against austerity policies. This action was inspired and organized by the Indigados (The indignant activist movement) which, in turn was an inspiration for Occupy Wall Street. Last June, I visited their occupation in Madrid. I reported on it for AlJzeeera. The essay is in my new book Blogothon. (Cosimo Books)
IN SPAIN’S TAHRIR SQUARE: A REVOLUTION STRUGGLES TO BE BORN (2011)
MADRID, Spain, June 15 2011: Spain is justly proud of the paella, a distinctive dish that mixes diverse vegetables or seafood into a tasty fusion of delectability.
They have now created a political version in the form of Tahrir Square type encampment in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol where a diverse mix of activists—old, young, male-female, disabled, immigrant, activists from Western Sahara, have created a beachhead for what many say is the closest this country has come to a popular and distinctive revolutionary movement since the 1930’s.
Its been a month now since Real Democracy, a grass roots “platform,” as it called, began a march that initially only attracted a relative handful of activists but by the time it reached the shopping district at Puerta del Sol, it had swelled to over 25,000, surprising its organizers, participants and politicians from the two major parties.
Only this march turned into a movement when many of its supporters decided to stay in the Square, no doubt inspired by events in Egypt, In Cairo, the vast multitudes agreed on one demand—Mubarak Must Go—even its causes were later traced to a collapsing economy and mass joblessness among the young. Their story was driven by social media and echoed in live TV broadcasts. Protests were underway elsewhere in Spain,
The movement became known as “#spanishrevolution” after the Twitter hashtag used to spread news, pictures and footage of the revolt, began with the internet call for a May 15 protest to demand “Real Democracy Now!” The marchers were dubbed “indignados” (The Indignant.)
Activist Pablo Quiziel articulated the feeling, “Amidst local and regional election campaigns, with the banners of the different political parties plastered across the country’s streets, people are saying `enough!’ Disillusioned youth, unemployed, pensioners, students,
Immigrants and other disenfranchised groups have emulated their brothers in the Arab world and are now demanding a voice – demanding an opportunity to live with dignity.”
In Spain, the activists said they were expressing “indignation” with their country’s economy and the parasitic nature of its two main political parties—the Socialists (PSOE) and the Center Right People’s Party (PP)—which carried on business as usual in a predictable dance of mutual bashing and few new ideas while markets melted down,
They also denounced corruption demanding fair housing, jobs, and a more responsive government.
But they had moved beyond electoral politics creating a liberated village with tents and makeshift structures. They had no leaders and didn’t want any. They practiced a form of consensus backed small d democratic decision-making. It reminded me of what I read of utopian communities in which “the people” run the show. Soon, the spirit of what they are doing and asking for resonated in more than 160 cities and towns.
I got there a month after what is known as the May 15th movement was started, and almost by accident. On my way to South Africa, I flew the Spanish carrier Iberia only discover I would have a 12 hour layover. Since I was going through Madrid, my revolutionary tourism gene mandated me to hop on the marvelous Madrid Metro, and three changes later surface face to face with the revolution even if the weather seemed well over 90 degrees.
Yes, there was plenty of sol on hand. Some of the activists like Liam who hails from Ireland were slathered with suntan lotion because of the afternoon rays. “We are all fried,” he told me.
Although many in the media have already written this movement’s obituary, it seems to keep chugging along, almost amoeba-like, decentralizing, going deeper by organizing popular Assemblies in neighborhoods throughout the city. They have several committees working on a program for what they will fight for. Many are common sense ideas.
While Sol still functions as their public base they already deemphasized its importance by spreading out, almost block by block.
On the day I was there, a small contingent left the Soul to stop an eviction and they were successful after confronting a landlord and the local bank. They exercise an enormous amount of moral authority as they talk about issues in personal ways, free of political rhetoric and bombast. They politicize by example, not by throwing slogans around, acting in a post partisan manner.
This approach seems to make sense to many who see their society in crisis with politicians blaming each other. In contrast, The May 15th movement encourages citizens to voice their grievances and act on their own behalf.
They tend to think like anarchists and talk in terms of self-management as a principle of political economy.
They are very clear about not wanting to replace one conventional hierarchal party with another. They are nervous about grooming or projecting leaders even as one activist told me that rule by consensus can be excruciatingly slow and subject to obstructionist tactic by a few who can hold the majority hostage.
“We have had people praise us for standing up, “ Liam told me, “ We tell them not to put their faith in us either but to get involved in the process of change. We can’t do it for them~”
The movement all over the local press that seems ready to pronounce it a failure even as it documents the free fall of the local economy. There is now a newspaper called Diagonal reporting on their every activity while activists use social media and post blogs on local websites.
A local newspaper sampled public opinion. They found many voters estranged from their party and disillusioned and many, across the spectrum, sympathetic to the idealism and energy behind their actions. The very presence seems to be politicizing people if just by discussing the alternative to tradition that they represent
Many were open to the new movement’s style and interactive discourse, Bernarda told them “ democracy is really bad here. There are two parties but no one really likes either one.
Says Juan, “I think it’s very interesting that people from different social classes and different groups are joining together.”
Cesar agrees, “Everyone’s hoping this will not be disappear because it is the spark of change.”
Adds Juan, “I am really proud of all of us.”
My language skills limited my access to Spanish speakers but I did talk with David Marty, a lawyer by training, a teacher by necessity and a writer by choice. He sees the movement spreading all across Europe.
“We need a new approach, he says, singing the praises of May 15th bottom up, participatory approach.
What I found significant is that he was not a man of the left. Both his father and grandfather were policemen. His dad won his spurs as a member of the French CRS unity fighting protesters during May June 1968 when Paris was a battleground, Now, his son writes for Z Magazine and contributes ideas for what changes the movement should ask for.
Like many in M15, he is a staunch critic of neo-liberalism, policies that both major parties embrace
As we sat in the Square as its distinctive clock tower, struck six, I Iistened to more speculation laced with hope. No one can predict this movement’s future with any certainty, but its active core seems to agree that it has already done more than they ever imagined.
Writes Quziel, “Spain is finally re-embracing its radical past, its popular movements, its anarcho-syndicalist traditions and its republican dreams. Crushed by Generalissimo Francisco Franco seventy years ago, it seemed that Spanish popular culture would never recover from the void left by a rightwing dictatorship, which exterminated anyone with a dissenting voice; but the 15th of May 2011, is the reminder to those in
power that Spanish direct democracy is still alive and has finally awaken.”
That is the hope at least, that I saw in the Plaza of the Sun.
The JP Morgan Chase Scandal
•News Republic: JPMorgan chief admits bank’s ‘credibility’ at stake
•WSJ: Pressure Builds on Dimon
•FT: JPMorgan probe into London role in loss
JPMorgan Chase is investigating whether London-based traders hid the extent of losses on credit derivatives positions, according to people familiar with an internal probe following last week’s revelation of $2bn losses.
The investigation comes as Jamie Dimon, chief executive, took to US television to say he was “dead wrong” to have dismissed questions over the risk-taking of his chief investment office.
The futures of the trading unit – a subset of the CIO that incurred the losses – and people who work there are under question, with departures possible in the next 24 hours, people familiar with the matter said.
Among the questions being asked internally is whether it was right to base the unit in London, at a distance from the bank’s New York headquarters.
•SEC serves Morgan with Wells Notice, Warning of Investigation
•NYT: Blame The Underlings
The $2 billion trading loss at JPMorgan Chase will claim its first casualty among top officials at the bank as early as Monday, with chief executive Jamie Dimon set to accept the resignation of the executive who oversaw the trade, Ina R. Drew. Ms. Drew, a 55-year-old banker who has worked at the company for three decades and serves as chief investment officer, had repeatedly offered to resign since the scale of the loss became apparent in late April, but Mr. Dimon had held off until now on accepting it, several JPMorgan Chase executives said.
Two traders who worked for Ms. Drew also planned to resign, JPMorgan Chase officials said. Her exit would mark a stunning fall from grace for one of the most powerful women on Wall Street, as well as a trusted lieutenant of Mr. Dimon.
•HP: Joseph Palermo: JP Morgan’s Loss Could Be America’s Gain
Crisis in Europa
Atlantic: Greece Could Sink Obama Campaign
•FT: Fear grows of Greece leaving euro
Eurozone central bankers have talked publicly for the first time of managing a possible Greek exit from Europe’s monetary union as stalemate in Athens talks on a coalition government raises the prospect
*Comment on Bloomberg Views: PETER BOONE and SIMON JOHNSON: Can the euro be saved? Not likely. As austerity measures fail, the European Central Bank will come under pressure to take actions that create inflation, which will weaken the euro. European leaders should prepare for an “orderly dismantling of the euro before the damage spreads and further undermines European unity.”
•AlJazeera: Q&A: What happens if Greece leaves the euro? – Opinion
*Reuters: Senator Says Kill Qaeda Bombmaker
William Deresiewica: Capitalists and Other Psychopaths
THERE is an ongoing debate in this country about the rich: who they are,
what their social role may be, whether they are good or bad. Well, consider
the following. A recent study
psychopaths,” exhibiting a lack of interest in and empathy for others and an
“unparalleled capacity for lying, fabrication, and manipulation.” (The
proportion at large is 1 percent.) Another study
that the rich are more likely to lie, cheat and break the law.
The only thing that puzzles me about these claims is that anyone would find
them surprising. Wall Street is capitalism in its purest form, and
capitalism is predicated on bad behavior. This should hardly be news. The
English writer Bernard Mandeville asserted nearly as much three centuries
ago in a satirical-poem-cum-philosophical-treatise called “The Fable of the
“Private Vices, Publick Benefits” read the book’s subtitle. A Machiavelli of
the economic realm – a man who showed us as we are, not as we like to think
we are – Mandeville argued that commercial society creates prosperity by
harnessing our natural impulses: fraud, luxury and pride. By “pride”
Mandeville meant vanity; by “luxury” he meant the desire for sensuous
indulgence. These create demand, as every ad man knows. On the supply side,
as we’d say, was fraud: “All Trades and Places knew some Cheat, / No Calling
was without Deceit.”
• Us Resumes Military Aid to Bahrain
WASHINGTON — The United States said May 11 it is partially resuming sales of military supplies to key Gulf Arab ally Bahrain but maintaining a freeze on certain wire-guided missiles and vehicles.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said “the items that we are releasing are not used for crowd control,” urging Bahrain to tackle “serious unresolved human rights issues” amid a crackdown on pro-democracy activists.
Tear gas and stun grenades were excluded from the sales, according to U.S. officials. A senior U.S. administration official told reporters on condition of anonymity that a frigate and harbor security boats as well as upgraded F-16 engines would be transferred to Bahrain.
•Mashable:The iPhone 5 Might Look Like This
•Photos of the Day: Stunning Landscape Photos Dramatically Heightened with Digital Art (21 Pictures)
•Famous News Photo: LIFE cover on “Red China” 1959
•China Daily: Alien species a growing menace: experts
Increasing trade blamed as pests destroy crops
Alien species of plants and animals will become an increasing menace over the next decade due to the rapid development of the world economy and a lack of awareness of proper prevention measures, experts have warned.
* Fluent: ‘The GOP values of…Burning Man?’
EJC: Bolivian President Evo Morales approves bill giving journalists life insurance
Although Bolivian President Evo Morales accused the press of distorting information on the same day the country celebrated Journalists’ Day, on Thursday, May 10, the president said that freedom of the press in the country is “guaranteed” and approved a bill giving journalists life insurance, reported the news agency EFE, the newspaper La Razon, and the radio station FM Bolivia. According to the newspaper Opinion, the life insurance will be paid for through one percent of the advertising revenue from private news outlets, and the resources will be accessible to press employees that can prove their accreditation to local federations of press workers. Bolivian press workers had requested the bill’s approval back in March, after the killing of two journalists on February 25 in the city of El Alto. That killing of sibling journalists led to the creation of a decree that guarantees transportation for journalists working at night. In 2011, 46 attacks against journalists were recorded. Morales said the attacks were simply reactions against lies.(Knight Center)
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