Saturday, September 21, 2013

Occupy Turns 2: "We're here, We're alive, and We're Out to Change the World"

The rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated...

Occupy Wall Street turned 2 on the anniversary of the US Day of Rage, 9/17/2013...
And with it, there were protests held around the country...And in Zuccotti Park.

In Colorado, the rain didn't hold Occupy down...activating and doing what Occupy does so well - On the ground mucking, sandbagging, gathering supplies and finding places for people and their friends.

....but for those who have declared Occupy dead and is a bit of a reminder

"Six Good Things Occupy Wall Street Made Possible (That You Probably Already Take for Granted):Now that the encampments are gone, what do we have to show for our movement? As it turns out, quite a bit.," from Yes Magazine :

1. You can refer to the "1%" and have everybody know what you are talking about.
Just a few years ago, merely talking about income inequality in the United States was almost forbidden, like a form of "class warfare." It didn't really matter if you were a plumber, a politician, or a pundit: if you said there was too much money concentrated at the top and that policy was to blame, you were not to be listened to.
But at least these days people on all sides of the political spectrum are aware that income inequality is a thing, and that the real concentration of wealth is in the hands of a tiny few. You can see the results through looking at Google's records on searches for the term "income inequality," which peaked strongly in late 2011 and never quite went back down. 
2. You can fight back in court if you are stopped and frisked in New York City.Stop and Frisk is a policy in New York City and some other places where the police stop people at random, ask them questions, and pat them down. When Occupy began in September of 2011, New York City police officers stopped and frisked New Yorkers more than 685,000 times, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. Nearly 90 percent of those stopped were black or Latino, and 86 percent were totally innocent. The police department had been slowly expanding the policy over a decade, and justified it by saying that the small number of arrests the program produced made it worth it.
The issue was already notorious among dedicated activists and engaged members of affected communities, while few others had ever heard about it. But Occupy made "Stop and Frisk" into a huge issue, repeatedly holding massive marches specifically about the policy. A lot of the momentum driving that came from neighborhood-based Occupies such as Take Back the Bronx and Occupy Harlem. The resulting coverage in the mainstream media significantly raised the profile of Stop and Frisk.
As word got out, Occupy stepped away and the New York Civil Liberties Union—which had already been organizing around this issue—began focused campaigns against it. This summer, it came to the New York District Court in the case of Floyd v. the City of New York, where judge Shira Sheindlin ruled the policy unconstitutional and called it "a form of racial profiling." The police union has appealed the decision.
Meanwhile, New York's City Council passed the Community Safety Act, which bans racial profiling in the NYPD and allows citizens to seek redress if it happens. Mayor Bloomberg attempted to veto the act, saying "There is no need for additional oversight of the NYPD," but the City Council overrode the veto. 
3. You can share things online without being immediately sued.
Just a few months after the heyday of Occupy Wall Street, Internet activists in the United States successfully fought off legislation that would have severely curtailed our ability to post and share online content. The legislation was called the "Stop Online Piracy Act," or SOPA, and it was defeated (so far) through a remarkable collaboration between Internet companies like Google and Yahoo, nonprofits like Wikipedia and Human Rights Watch, and legislators like Nancy Pelosi and Ron Paul.
But Occupy played a role as well, according to Peter Higgins at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, setting the cultural and technological stage for an uprising against the bill. Higgins says that Occupy taught a whole generation to use social media tools politically. Occupiers got used to using Twitter and Facebook to communicate about politics, he told me, and that ended up being a tool they used again when the SOPA came up (as well as a related bill known as CISPA).
The longstanding alliance between Occupy and Anonymous also helped bring issues related to online freedom to the masses that had previously been talked about mostly among hackers and geeks. 
4. Various new media projects.
Tidal is the media organization that came most directly out of Occupy Wall Street. The print and web magazine was originally the project of a working group called "Occupy Theory," and the magazine's URL remains occupytheory.orgTidalcontinues to publish a gorgeous print magazine that keeps the key issues of Occupy front and center: economic fairness, liberation and joy in everyday life, and the way that solidarity among us—or the lack of it—determines our political fate.
Writer and editor Travis Mushett noted the other day in Thought Catalog that his literary and comics magazine, Blunderbuss, also owes its existence to Occupy.
"The DIY spirit of OWS helped my co-founders and I to realize that maybe we don’t need to throw ourselves at the feet of editors to get our work out there," he wrote, "maybe we can do it without asking permission." 
5. Senator Elizabeth Warren.If you haven't seen the video posted below, in which Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts asks the officials responsible for regulating Wall Street when was the last time they actually prosecuted a bank, you are missing out. (They tell her they've never done it!)
While Warren's advocacy for economic fairness makes her a somewhat lonely voice in the Senate, it's good to know that she's there. And Occupy helped make that possible: Warren was a relative unknown running an anti-Wall Street platform in a crowded Massachusetts democratic primary. She became a darling of the movement for her fearless willingness to call out bankers' crimes, which raised her profile significantly. Republicans then sought to use her association with Occupy against her, but she never denied her solidarity with the movement, and ultimately she won.

6. A more deeply networked activist world.
If you spent enough time embroiled in Occupy activities, you almost certainly came away with new friends and acquaintances. And they weren't just any friends; they were people who you had camped next to on rainy nights, people you'd locked arms with when the police suddenly ordered a march to disperse for no reason, people you'd debated tactics with until you each gave a little and finally reached consensus.
Of all the not-insignificant practical gains listed here, this is probably the most important and the toughest to quantify. There are the brick-and-mortar institutions that came out of friendships forged at Occupy, like Seattle's Black Coffee, a cooperatively owned cafĂ©. But beyond that, there are just a whole lot of people who are more likely to know their fellow progressives—both across the street and across the country—than the way it was before.
That creates a better environment for the social change projects we need so badly at this moment, and adds an element of warmth and fun to the often-exhausting project of changing the world for the better.

(side note:  Occupy Denver - one of the longest park occupations, lasting from late September, 2011, and well into January 2012. Snowstorms, Pneumonia, beat downs and attacks - the people of Occupy stayed and stayed and stayed).




Tuesday, September 17, 2013

2013 Flood in Colorado and New Mexico:The Untold Stories

Greeley resident Tommy Meyer leads one of his horses to safety as flood waters from the South Platte River swamped his farm at 22378 Highway 34 east of Greeley on Sept, 13, 2013. Photo by Doug Conarroe, North Forty News
Greeley resident Tommy Meyer leads one of his horses to safety
as flood waters from the South Platte River swamped his farm at 22378 Highway 34 east of Greeley on Sept, 13, 2013.
Photo by Doug Conarroe, North Forty News

We have been reporting the news of the floods here in Colorado - water still rising and overflowing banks and it is traveling east and south. As I stated in my first report, water flows downhill and it is only downhill from here on the Eastern high desert - Mile high and above.

As drier air comes in and the fogs lift along the Front Range, it is time to take stock of the new world in which we are to find.  Much of that local world is gone or misplaced.  For many, they will be returning to a place that is no longer there; Or a place no longer standing.  Lives changed, some irreparably, as they return to find nothing left - lost homes, and reminders of years gone by; for many, lost family and friends.

The "Great Flood" of 2013 - the "1000 year" flood; the "biblical" flood; the "unprecedented" flood - is far from over.  Waters are spreading east and south to already swollen creeks and rivers -  The eastern plains; the northern plains; and New Mexico have felt the wrath of nature as well - the reminder...a HARD reminder that we are wreaking havoc on the planet (14 years of drought, a few years of devastating firestorm,  then unprecedented rainfall...).

Colorado - the toxic gift the oil and gas companies keep on giving:

County Line Road, north of Erie (Courtesy of Cliff Willmeng)
County Line Road, north of Erie (Courtesy of Cliff Willmeng)

The stories untold of gas and oil tanks washing out and dumping their black toxins into the water to spread across the soils; broken oil pipelines;  the fracking chemicals (approximately 40,000 gallons of toxic chemicals are used for each fracturing) leeching into the flood waters to poison everything it touches - Benzene, Radium, Mercury, Formaldehyde, Lead, Uranium, Hydrochloric Acid...up to 600 different heavy metals and toxic chemicals are shoved into pristine land and into the bedrock to release the natural gas, with the added  side benefit, the release Methane (25 times more toxic as a greenhouse gas than CO2).........

Fracking Colorado - More information at "Save Colorado From Fracking"
Fracking Colorado -
More information at "Save Colorado From Fracking"

.........All traveling through the scarred fire burn, off the rocks, into the canyons, the highways and roads;  across the water filled lands, rushing into the streams, down the culverts and sewers - into reservoirs and water treatment facilities; along the golf courses and manicured lawns of  suburbia; out to the rich fields that grow the peaches, the squash, the cherries, the cantaloupe, the spinach, the corn, the wheat, and the rest of the food crops for Colorado and beyond the flower and garden nurseries that grow the plants for your homes.

 County Line Road, north of Erie (Courtesy of Cliff Willmeng) via the Boulder Daily Camera, "Boulder County activists concerned about flooded oil, gas wells"
County Line Road, north of Erie (Courtesy of Cliff Willmeng)
via the 
Boulder Daily Camera, "Boulder County activists
concerned about flooded oil, gas wells"

As a side note, activists in Boulder are letting out a healthy scream...Thank you Occupy, activists from Clean Water Action and environmentalists...
In a statement, Gary Wockner, of Clean Water Action, said "Fracking and operating oil and gas facilities in floodplains is extremely risky. Flood waters can topple facilities and spread oil, gas, and cancer-causing fracking chemicals across vast landscapes making contamination and clean-up efforts exponentially worse and more complicated."

The Navajo Nation - Flooding on the "Rez":

Flooding September 13 and 14, 2013 in the Navajo Nation
Flooding September 13 and 14, 2013 in the Navajo Nation

Flooding September 13, 2013, Navajo Nation
Flooding September 13 and 14, 2013 in the Navajo Nation

Flooding Navajo Nation September 23, 2013
Flooding September 13 - Navajo Nation

The flooding hit there 4 days ago, as reported by the Navajo Nation Times and Indian Country Today Media Network.

The first Americans, the Indigenous peoples, the true natives of the land, now living on the Rez ...for many in the cities and states around this nation, it might as well be another planet.

The two were swept away by raging floodwaters on Wednesday September 11 as they tried to make it home along with two other friends, who survived. Just a week earlier the pair had vacationed with Quinlan’s mother, Glenda Aretxuloeta, to celebrate her birthday and meet her Native family members, the Denver Post reported.

"He was very, very connected to my Native American heritage," Aretxuloeta told the newspaper, which did not give a tribal name.

The Navajo Nation has been hit hard with flooding from the storms.

Mother Earth continues raging as she withheld the waters from the sky, scorched the earth with fire, now washes it all away with the floods.

The effects will be felt for weeks, months, even years after the clouds part.   Even after the rains that fall in record-breaking amounts, the flow from upstream will continue the flooding, bringing with it the "Civilized" world of oil and toxins, garbage and refuse, crashing onto the reservations.

The two worlds - the two universes have collided,  once again....

And another reminder of the continued annihilation our exceptionalist hubris brings...

.....To the first Americans, the Indigenous peoples, the true natives of the land, now living on the Rez

Contact to assist flood victims -  the Navajo Nation:

Volunteers can contact the Navajo Nation Department of Emergency Management Emergency Operation Center at 505-371-8415, 505-371- 8416, 505-371-8417.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated-On the Ground: Occupy Boulder Flood Relief

The latest news in Colorado:
  • 17 counties effected by flooding (an area the size of the state of Connecticut);
  • 1000 still isolated and in need of rescue;
  • National Guard of Colorado has been involved in the  largest helicopter rescue operation since Hurricane Katrina (some reports that the numbers now exceed Katrina). Helicopters remain grounded as storms run through but continue airlift as the storms break.  On Saturday, 85 5th graders and  14 adults were airlifted from Jamestown, CO, area, and taken into Boulder.
  • Over 1750 have been rescued to date - 1200 human species and over 500 of various other species.
  • Ft. Collins National Guard as well as other units throughout the state have been activated on a regular basis for nearly 2 years now.  Since May, 2013, they have been deployed to fight forest fires, brush fires and to fight the firestorms and now are actively working this flooding t0 saving lives, setting sandbags and bringing supplies.
  • Big Thompson River, St Vrain River, Boulder Creek, Platte River, Cache la Poudre River are still breaching their banks - St Vrain swelled a second time this morning in Longmont; Salida, CO, is the latest town to be hit by flooding 0 yesterday evening, the town of Firestone was evacuated and traffic diverted through Pine Cone and No Name (just love the names of towns in Colorado... Ted's Place on the Cache la Poudre was hit early in this flooding)
  • More rain predicted this afternoon with smaller cells moving out of the western slope and into mountains and eastern foothills then over the plains - some predicted to bring rains of up to an inch every half hour
  • Death toll is at 7 but expected to rise once crews can reach the 17,000-19,000 homes destroyed as well as the isolated bridges, dams, buildings and towns that have collapsed and or washed downstream

An animated gif consisting of before and after false-color satellite images of the Denver-Boulder area. Water is black or dark blue; sediment-laden water or muddy ground is pale blue; vegetation is green; and bare earth is tan. (Images: NASA. Animated gif: Tom Yulsman)
An animated gif consisting of before and after false-color satellite images of the 
Denver-Boulder area. Water is black or dark blue; sediment-laden water or muddy ground
 is pale blue; vegetation is green; and bare earth is tan. 
(Images: NASA. Animated gif: Tom Yulsman)

And in Boulder, CO, Occupy is doing what Occupy does - early on the scene and working with the people to save the people for this is what Democracy looks like...

#BoulderFloodRelief was born from the flooding waters of the Boulder Creek and the needs of the people.


Occupy is not dead - far from it.  Gone are the tents from the 16 months long "Occupation" of parks around the US, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, and even in Asia - that was merely an introduction. The protests still occur and are, often, echoed throughout the planet, but are rarely televised or reported; The people are still actively educating and "activating."

Occupy was on the ground after Hurricane Sandy, helping victims in hard hit areas of Staten Island, Rockaways, Sheepshead Bay and along the New Jersey coast (and are still actively involved in rebuilding those areas)


Occupy was on the ground in Oklahoma after the tornadoes destroyed towns throughout the state (#OPOK)

#OPOK 2013
#OPOK 2013

Now it is Occupy in Colorado.


For those who want to help


Follow on Twitter at:

#BoulderFlood Relief


Monday, September 9, 2013

All Murdoch's horses and all of his men couldn't keep the Smokescreen in play again..Not even with help from War Criminal Karl Rove: "BENGHAZI!!!"

From my friend, David Edwards, at Raw Story:

Juan Williams shuts down Benghazi hype at Fox News: ‘It’s gone, baby. It’s all in your head’ (via Raw Story )
Fox News political analyst Juan Williams on Sunday told conservative colleagues Karl Rove and Brit Hume that their obsession about a so-called scandal over last year’s terrorist attack in Benghazi was “all in your head, baby.” During a Fox News…

Friday, September 6, 2013

Deer Trail, CO: Where men are "men" and drones are scared - not

As reported here by our intrepid reporter, Anomaly, “Colorado town considers granting residents hunting licenses to shoot down drones for bounty money,” July 18, 2013, Deer Trail, CO, (a town of 550, that lies southeast of Denver, in Arapahoe County) was to “debate an ordinance that would allow residents to purchase a $25 hunting license to shoot down ‘unmanned aerial vehicles.’”

Well debate they did – the town board presented a proposal to license drone hunters and added a $100 bounty for each drone caught…

I have to wonder if those drones hide in the brush and can get flushed like a pheasant with a good ol’ hunting dog or do they light on the water as easy target from a drone blind…but I digress.

The town board failed to approve the new ordinance last month. According to the Denver Post, the vote was deadlocked at 3-3 so they will be holding a special election, Oct 8, so the town’s citizens can vote on the measure…..

But that didn't stop Phil Steel, the resident and on-line entrepreneur that proposed the original idea to the town board.  Mr. Steel jumped the gun, so to speak, and started selling a novelty version of the proposed license on-line.  On Tuesday, he said he had sold 100 fake “licenses” and pulled in $2500 (at $25.00 a real steal for Steel – especially since they aren't worth the paper on which they are printed).  He “donated” a portion of the income to the town in a magnanimous gesture at the monthly board meeting, according to the Town Clerk, Kim Oldfield.

Now one might think that’s all there is to this story, but no, there is more.

According to Ms. Oldfield, that isn’t the only money coming in to the town right now.  Apparently, the town, and specifically, Ms. Oldfield, has received more than 983 requests for the new license issued by the town (well as of last Tuesday, when she stopped counting them) and more than $19,000 in checks from all over the US.

The proposed ordinance will  provide a license that entitles the licensee to shoot down drones flying less than 1000 ft above private property (no public property, that wouldn't be sporting.)  The fees collected would be used to fund a local community center (No drones allowed).

Ms. Oldfield is not happy.  All the funds that have come in thus far have to be returned if the ordinance does not pass and she does not think it will pass…currently 38  people out of the 550 population have already signed a petition opposing the measure – 8 of those “drone-lovers” came to the board meeting last Tuesday to oppose the special election….

And they wonder what we do here in the Mile High City for fun…well that and legal marijuana….

{Hey, don’t Bogart that joint…pass it over to me}

What happens to those wrongfully convicted once they are freed? Sometimes one gets a little justice

Robert Dewey speaks to the media moments after being released
from the Colorado Department of corrections in Grand Junction, Colo.,
after serving a life sentence for murder.
Dewey was released April 30, 2012, after spending nearly 18 years in prison.
Photo by William Woody, Special to the Denver Post.

Last August, I wrote a story for this site entitled "What happens to those wrongfully convicted once they are freed? 27 states offer restitution – the rest just say “oops…sorry” -  the story of Robert Dewey, a 31 year old man when he was arrested and convicted of the rape and murder of 19 year old, Jacie Taylor, in Palisade, CO, in 1994 .  He received a sentence of “life” in prison in 1996.

Dewey’s post-conviction attorney, Danyel Joffe, and The Innocence Project worked to secure an exoneration from all charges questioning the evidence used against him – evidence destroyed , mishandled and test results dubiously reported by “experts”.  On April 30, 2012, Robert Dewey was exonerated.  Robert Dewey was freed, finally, from the prison cell, in which he lived for over 6,000 days.

The Denver Post ran the story of Mr. Dewey's exoneration and subsequent release adding the following quotes from the judge and Mr. Dewey's attorney:

“It’s really a pretty humbling day for a lot of people involved in the criminal-justice system,” District Judge Brian Flynn was quoted as saying in the Denver Post

“Mr. Dewey’s case seemed to be one where someone was convicted because a jury wanted to blame someone,” His attorney, Danyel Jaffe was quoted as saying.   “How do you set a price on 17 years of someone’s life? It’s something we’re going to look at down the road”

Robert Dewey, center, embraces his mother Donna, left, and father Jim,
moments after being released from the Colorado Department of corrections in Grand Junction, Colo.,
after serving a life sentence for murder. Dewey was released  April 30, 2012,
after spending nearly 18 years in prison.
Photo by William Woody, Special to the Denver Post.

And down the road they went....

In April, 2012, Mr. Dewey, newly released, was now 51; never received a “rehabilitation” plan in prison provided for prisoners with lesser sentences since, even though he was innocent, had been given a "Life" sentence - no job training or “Skills” training in prison; had no option for a civil case against the court because there was no prosecutorial misconduct (though there are questions of incompetence and manipulation of evidence by the police and the those charged with forensics testing); was not eligible for unemployment because his earning years were spent behind bars; left prison with a back injury that prevented him from doing many jobs and needed surgery to remove metal rods and plates that a prison surgeon put in his spine; had no income or job and limited skills [he went in when computers were barely out of DOS and pagers were the tether to the planet. Today it is cell phones (and texting) that are the ties that bind – along with Windows 8, IPods, Notebooks]; had to search for a job while carrying a prison record that stays on his reports; had to depend on food stamps and donations from individuals who learned of his plight [A civil engineer in CO heard that Dewey had been a motorcyclist and donated a motorcycle]; had a place to live - with his new girlfriend whom he met through a pen-pal program about a year ago, began writing every day.

Robert was looking at a struggle. In Colorado there was no compensation program in place for those wrongfully convicted men and women who are later released. There is no re-integration program into society. Colorado, like 23 other states basically said, “Sorry” and called it a wash.

Since his release, Robert Dewey has been living in poverty since his release.

Today, Mr. Dewey is looking at $1.2 million in a settlement as a result of a new law now in place, that was inspired, in part, by his ordeal. Lawmakers in Colorado, made aware of the case through publicity and the work of The Innocence Project as well as testimony by Mr. Dewey, wrote and passed a law giving compensation to wrongly convicted citizen.

Mr. Dewey is the first ever to receive compensation under the new law just signed by Governor Hick (Hickenlooper) this year...

The new law includes a formula that allows for compensation of $70,000 to $100,000 (cap) for each year served in prison. Mr. Dewey got the full $100,000 for every year. A little justice after 17 years of injustice ... being kept in prison, with little hope, for what looked like a lifetime, convicted of crimes he didn't commit.

It won't make up for 17 + years lost but it might just make his life easier, his future more secure. Something Mr. Dewey sorely needed.

More information on the Innocence Project here.