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Retribution Against the Financial Elite

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The 1% Own Everything, Including the Supreme Court

Posted 11 months ago on May 13, 2013, 6 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: capitalism, occupy houston, supreme court, hush money, enron, 1%

Former Enron CEO and current jailbird Jeffrey Skilling should be out of jail in just four years, skipping nearly a decade of his prison sentence for corporate fraud and graft.

As the world's richest people are prone to do, Skilling is getting out of jail early with a combination of cash payments and legal maneuvers.

In exchange for early release, Skilling is paying Enron's victims some $40 million in shut-up money and has generously agreed to stop suing everyone involved with his conviction and sentence in 2006.

Skilling's promised payments would equal 0.1% of the $40 billion Enron stole under Skilling's leadership. He was originally sentenced to 24 years behind bars, but his total sentence would be half of that if his lawyers get approval on this latest scheme.

Skilling's appeal went to the Supreme Court in 2010, and the justices agreed with his attorneys that the original conviction was "based in part on an invalid legal theory known as the 'theft of honest services.'”

The same judge who sentenced Skilling will rule at the next hearing, on June 21 in Houston.

Occupy Houston, game on.

Reprinted from Gawker with slight edits

6 Comments

Direct Action Idea #2: Laughing at the 1%

Posted 11 months ago on May 13, 2013, 6 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: philanthropy, capitalism, carlos slim, direct action

When people from two different countries hate you, that means you are a public enemy. Last week, the richest man in the entire world, Carlos Slim, attempted to use a philanthropic gift to cover up the fact that his monopolistic practices have impoverished all of Latin America, with headway being made to raid the coffers of the United States with over $451.7 million taken in from subsides from the government of the United States every year.

The 1% control access to and the rules around supporting badly needed social services, from education to healthcare. We live in an unsustainable system in which the very richest in society dictate with their dollars the world that they want to see, not live in, and certainly not engage with on a day to day basis.

We laugh at this preposterous system in which we live, and we will continue to bring you inspiration about how it can change.

8 Comments

Artists Demand Fair Labor Standards!

Posted 11 months ago on May 8, 2013, 2:34 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: labor, union, frieze art fair, ows arts and labor

To artists, gallerists, workers, and fairgoers attending Frieze Art Fair New York:

For the second year in a row, Frieze Art Fair and its subcontractor Production Glue have hired low-wage, non-unionized workers to construct their fair, bringing in people from as far away as Wisconsin. This breaks with the industry standard: the major New York City art fairs including the Armory and the ADAA, as well as many other cultural and business expositions, employ unionized workers to construct and run their shows.

Frieze is a for-profit private event that takes over a municipal public park for two months to serve a global clientele of wealthy art collectors. The fair pays less than $1 per square foot to lease the land from the city. With a ticket price of $42 per day, Frieze is inaccessible to many working New Yorkers. However, despite the cheap rent and high admission prices to an event that generates millions of dollars in art sales (and not to mention the event's main sponsor, Deutsche Bank), Frieze still claims it cannot afford to pay decent wages to local workers.

Labor organizations including Teamsters Joint Council 16, NYC Central Labor Council, IATSE Local 829, IATSE Local 1, NYC District Council of Carpenters, and District Council 9 have all called on Frieze to employ their union members and guarantee local workers a fair, living wage with benefits. This demand has been repeated by City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito (representing Randall’s Island), as well as City Councilmembers Jessica Lappin and Mark Weprin, and U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY12). As Weprin said recently, “Frieze NY Art Fair, or any private business that chooses to use public parks, should hire local New York workers and adhere to fair labor standards.”

If you are an artist or gallerist showing at the fair:

We ask you to refuse to serve as a fig leaf for exploitation. We ask you to decline to lend artistic cachet to an event that does not support New Yorkers, and that desperately needs the stamp of cultural seriousness to justify itself to the public.

Even if you cannot withdraw from the fair at this point, we ask you to consider speaking out publicly against Frieze’s unfair labor practices by making information about this issue available at your booth. We would be glad to provide you with a sign and/or flyers you can display.

We also urge you to tell Frieze organizers that you are an artist or represent artists in the exhibition and that you support organized labor.

If you are attending or work at the fair: Urge everyone you know to contact Frieze to demand they engage in fair labor practices, and consider not attending the fair until Frieze agrees.

It takes courage to speak the truth when many wish to deny it, but rest assured that should you decide to stand up and speak out, you will not be alone.

The arts are an economic engine for New York, bringing millions of people and billions of dollars to the city each year. Yet each year, more jobs become unpaid internships, artists are denied payment for their labor, real wages go down, and benefits are lost; meanwhile, the city becomes more expensive and the distribution of wealth more unequal. We believe in the importance of holding institutions such as Frieze accountable for their impact on New York and the people who live and work here. We want to see art bloom across our city, but we know there is a better, fairer way to foster this growth.

Sincerely, Arts & Labor

Arts and Labor

To contact Frieze:

Frieze New York Office 41 Union Square West, Suite 1623 New York, NY 10003 +1 212 463 7488 info@frieze.com

Production Glue www.productionglue.com Facebook

Directors Amanda Sharp Matthew Slotover

Assistant to Director Amanda Sharp Renee Browne +1 212 463 7488 renee.browne@frieze.com

Frieze London Office 1 Montclare Street London E2 7EU, UK +44 (0)20 3372 6111

Twitter [@FriezeNewYork](twitter.com/FriezeNewYork]

FNY13 #FriezeRatFair

For more information on this struggle, see:

Arts & Labor, “NYC Labor Leaders Demand that Frieze NY Art Fair Hire Local and Union”

Mostafa Heddaya, “Labor Issues in Spotlight as Frieze NY Prepares for May Art Fair”

Whitney Kimball, “Unions, City Council, Congresswoman Protest Frieze”

Rozalia Jovanovic, “New York Union Members Speak Out at City Hall Against Frieze's Labor Policies”

199 Comments

LIVE: Students Occupy Cooper Union President's Office

Posted 11 months ago on May 8, 2013, 2 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: student debt, cooper union, direct action, education


@FreeCooperUnion on Twitter

“This is a non-violent direct action, you are not being held in this room, you are free to exit when you please. We no longer recognize your presidency at Cooper as legitimate and in so doing we commit to re-claim this office in the interim until a suitable administrative alternative is secured."

Over 50 students have overtaken the office of Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha in response to the Administration and the Board of Trustees announcing the implementation of tuition for the incoming class of 2014- desecrating a 154 year old tradition of meritocracy and free education. "We stand together with the extended Cooper community in opposition to this decision; we reaffirm all of the previous and future actions of our fellow students and allies."

UPDATE: Cooper Union Students are calling for a Solidarity Rally Tonight at 6PM outside the Foundation Building at Cooper Square Park.

The students delivered a Statement of No Confidence from the School of Art, one of the three colleges that make up Cooper Union. Similar Statements of No Confidence are currently in the process of being drafted and voted upon by the School of Architecture and the School of Engineering.

On April 23, 2013, Cooper Union’s board of trustees announced that they will begin charging tuition, ending the university’s 144-year-old mission of providing free education to all those who merited entry. The decision was met with a united uproar of dissent from nearly all sectors of the university community, including students, faculty, and alumni. While it might seem counterintuitive to get behind a relatively small struggle at one of the most exclusive universities in the country—an old-fashioned meritocracy in a world in which a young person’s “potential” is directly proportionate to their family’s economic station—Cooper Union is by far the most diverse of all elite colleges: white students are a minority here and two-thirds of the student body attended public high schools.

Institutions funded by philanthropy and real estate earnings are clearly unsustainable as foundations for a quality education, but the school’s economic problems and its board’s regressive solutions mirror the situation currently taking place at countless other universities, both public and private. From CUNY tuition hikes to the torpedoing of Medgar Evers College to NYU’s unprecedented land grab, students across the city are fighting back. As student struggles continue across the globe, Cooper Union is a flashpoint for something much larger than itself.

Peter Cooper, the school’s founder, railed against the scourge of student debt a century and a half before the streets of Montreal exploded with resistance, before New York universities faced a string of militant occupations, before students in California put their bodies on the line against tuition hikes and the commodification of higher education. The ongoing fight at Cooper Union is but one part of the broader struggle against austerity, debt, and all other symptoms of capitalism.

On May 1, a 36-page mini-zine that serves as a postscript to last year’s Why is Cooper Union Being Occupied? was produced and distributed around the city. Collecting recent articles, editorials, and primary source documents, this basic update outlines the current situation at Cooper Union, at once a eulogy and a call for new resistance.

Download the PDF here, read online here, or come down to Cooper Union and pick up a hard copy.

For Live Updates, follow Free Cooper Union on UStream and Twitter

14 Comments

Congress: Still Corporate. Still Criminal. Still Captured.

Posted 11 months ago on May 7, 2013, 7:46 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: congress, Wall Street, occupy the sec, HR 992

Congress: Still Corporate. Still Criminal. Still Captured.

One of the points Occupy Wall Street made, by choosing to occupy space in Manhattan and not in DC, was that it's really Wall Street who runs things, not the government.

The votes in the House Financial Services Committee today underscore that point with stark clarity.

Today the Committee considered a slew of bills that tear down many of the Wall Street reforms passed in 2010. These reforms were already imperfect, as Wall Street sent the full force of its lobbying to the Hill in 2010 to compromise these reforms as much as possible.

Wall Street, having succeeded in 2010 in watering down the reforms meant to regulate them two years after they ruined the economy, did not rest. They have been lobbying nonstop since then to do everything they could to gut these reforms even more.

Today, nine deregulatory bills were considered, and nine were passed. The most egregious, HR 992, which we wrote about on Monday, passed 53-6. This bill is named "Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act", but it should be called, "If Banks Get Bailed Out, We'll Get Sold Out. Again." This is the bill that makes the cost of doing business for Wall Street lower by exploiting the implicit backing of the Federal Government. It allows banks to hold risky derivatives in the insured depository--that part of the bank that is insured by the FDIC. As we wrote yesterday, this is dangerous because derivatives are senior in bankruptcy--derivatives counterparties get paid out first.

Only six members of Congress, out of sixty-one total committee members, decided that this risk was too much. That Wall Street has won enough fights. Six out of sixty-one. The only six who dared to not roll over for Wall Street are: Rep Maxine Waters (@MaxineWaters) (D-CA), Rep Keith Ellison (@keithellison) (D-MN), Rep Steven Lynch (@RepStephenLynch) (D-MA), Rep Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) (D-NY), Rep Mike Capuano (@mikecapuano) (D-MA), and Rep Al Green (@RepAlGreen) (D-TX).

Those six were decidedly in the minority. Fifty-three members of Congress decided that, no, we really ought to make life even easier for the megabanks. The megabanks have it so hard, after all, right?

The banks have laundered money for drug cartels. They have deliberately lied to regulators. They have lied to Congress. They have illegally foreclosed on homes and then had their captured regulator give wronged parties a slap-in-the-face settlement of $300. They have manipulated global interest rates. They have sold predatory loans disproportionately to people of color . They have been bailed out. And they will not lay low.

Fifty-three members of the Financial Services Committee today decided that all this malfeasance, corruption and criminal activity is not only fine, but it should be rewarded. We should make life even easier for them. We should lower their cost of doing business on the backs of the US taxpayer. Only six decided that no, enough is enough.

It is the same old song in Congress. Wall Street owns them, and no amount of disgrace, shame, corruption and crime will deter the fifty-three members of this Committee from pledging allegiance to Wall Street.

Here is the complete list of the Financial Services Committee members. The official twitter for the Republicans on the Committee is @FinancialCmte, and the twitter for the Democrats is @FSCDems. Wall Street still runs things, but it is worth letting our captured Congressmembers know that we are fully aware that Wall Street also owns them.

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