Occupy Wall Street movement spreads to cities across U.S., Canada and Europe

The Guardian reports:

It began as the brainchild of activists across the border in Canada when an anti-consumerism magazine put out a call in July for supporters to occupy Wall Street.

Now, three weeks after a few hundred people heeded that initial call and rolled out their sleeping bags in a park in New York’s financial district, they are being joined by supporters in cities across the US and beyond.

Armed with Twitter, Facebook and shared Googledocs, protesters against corporate greed, unemployment and the political corruption that they say Wall Street represents have taken to the streets in Boston, Los Angeles, St Louis and Kansas City.

The core group, Occupy Wall Street (OWS), claims people will take part in demonstrations in as many as 147 US cities this month, while the website occupytogether.org lists 47 US states as being involved. Around the world, protests in Canada, the UK, Germany and Sweden are also planned, they say.

The speed of the leaderless movement’s growth has taken many by surprise. Occupytogether.org, one of several sites associated with the protest, has had to be rebuilt to accommodate the traffic.

OWS media spokesman Patrick Bruner said: “We have on our board right now 147 US cities. I don’t know whether they are occupied or they are planning on being occupied. My guess would be over 30 cities are occupied.”

The original call by the Canadian magazine Adbusters to occupy Wall Street drew hundreds of protesters on 17 September and 2,000 attended a march the following Saturday. But the movement, which organisers say has its roots in the Arab spring and in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol protests, has been galvanised by recent media attention.

Scott Stringer, the Manhattan Borough President, writes:

As the Occupy Wall Street protests stretch into their third week, New Yorkers may still be confused about who the protestors are and what exactly they want. But there should be no mistaking the fears and concerns that motivate them — and continue to bring more into the streets. It would be a mistake to dismiss them as a noisy, disaffected fringe movement, because the grievances that drive them touch a deepening chord with millions of other Americans.

Simply put, many of the protestors are angered by the feeling that government hasn’t done enough to stem the tide of economic fall-out caused by the last recession. They are outraged that millions of Americans from all walks of life are unable to find or keep jobs. They are vocal about the widening chasm between rich and poor in our country. And they believe the government has turned a deaf ear to the fact that today’s middle class must struggle harder every year to keep its head above water.

The empirical basis for the protesters’ angry slogans is not hard to find. For generations, worker wages rose in lockstep with productivity. From 1947-1979, productivity increased 119% while hourly compensation increased 100%. But since 1980, compensation has stagnated, growing only 8%, while productivity has raced along at 80%.

We don’t need to look beyond the Hudson for evidence of this widening inequality. As the Census Bureau recently revealed, my own borough of Manhattan has the largest income gap of any county in the United States, with top 20% of earners making close to 38 times as much as the bottom 20%. For the first time since 2000, more than one in five New Yorkers is living below the federal poverty line ($22,350 for a family of four). The percentage of children suffering in poverty is even worse — a staggering 30%. At the same time, the top 1% of Americans own 35% of the nation’s wealth. As the protesters’ signs say, “We are the other 99%.”

The Guardian reports:

As some of America’s biggest corporations push for a tax holiday on more than $1tn of overseas profits, a new survey has revealed that the last time such a measure was tried it ended in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The study could be a setback to the aggressive push by a coalition of American businesses, called Win America, which includes big-name firms like Apple, Google and Pfizer. The group has employed more than 160 lobbyists to push its agenda, claiming that the companies will use the tax break to bring back money overseas and invest it in building new facilities and creating jobs.

But a report carried out by the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies has examined the last time such a move was carried out. That was in 2004, when a similar scheme allowed 843 firms to cut their tax rate on repatriating overseas profits from 35% to 5%.

The firms then brought home $312bn and avoided paying $92bn in government taxes in return for a promise to create jobs. The measure was called the American Job Creation Act.

However, the IPS study measured the actions of some of the largest firms who took advantage of the tax holiday, and found that 58 of them had then slashed 591,000 jobs. The companies accounted for a massive 70% of the repatriated funds, and saved around $64bn they would have otherwise paid out in taxes. The firms included Ford, Pfizer, Eastman Kodak, General Electric and Verizon.

Adam Martin writes:

YouTube videos for an operation called Invade Wall Street first appeared on Monday, calling for online activists to download specific software necessary to carry out a denial of service attack against the New York Stock Exchange on October 10. One video, titled "A Message to the Media," said the group had chosen "to declare war against the New York Stock Exchange," adding, "on October 10th, NYSE shall be erased from the Internet." The video carries the Anonymous logo and comes from a YouTube user called The Anonymous Message. The same user has uploaded 13 other videos since joining YouTube in July, including a threat last week to carry out a cyber-attack of the New York Police Department which doesn't seem like it happened.

But on Twitter, where the #InvadeWallStreet hashtag first gained traction on Monday via Anonymous-related accounts, a backlash now warns would-be participants that the attack is a set-up aimed at reaping bad press for Anonymous and the Occupy Wall Street protest. A widely circulated statement warns that "many of our brothers and sisters have gone down in the fight for using such tactics, like the WikiLeaks defendants who took down Visa, Paypal, and Mastercard which led to mass arrests." Another points out that the video "proposes you use depreciated tools that have known flaws," such as a low-orbit ion cannon, a denial of service tool Anonymous members have been busted for using.

A Twitter account called AnonyOps, which has approximated an official Anonymous mouthpiece in the past, broadcast this message on Tuesday: "#invadewallstreet #IWS possibly a psyop? … Don't get roped in by those who want 2 see #occupywallstreet fail.

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