Occupying the Rust Belt: In Three Deindustrialized Cities,
Protesters Find Friendly Cops, Determination and Despair
Americans here are beaten down. But in occupations around the country they have found a space where they can speak of their struggles, burdens and aspirations.
Photo: Youngstown occupier
By Arun Gupta
Beaver County Blue via Alternet.org
Oct 25, 2011 – The surefire method to find occupations in small cities is to head for the center of town. After leaving Philadelphia on our Occupy America tour, we drive an hour north to Allentown. Pennsylvania’s third-largest city at 118,000 residents, Allentown has been weathered by years of deindustrialization in the steel, cement and textile industries that once made it an economic powerhouse.
Along MacArthur Boulevard, one of Allentown’s main drags, tidy but weary brick row homes line outlying neighborhoods. Close to Center Square, site of the requisite Civil War monument, the neighborhoods are heavily Latino and buildings exhibit signs of disrepair.
Occupy Allentown has taken up residence in Center Square, inhabiting one of the four red-brick plazas on each corner. There are a handful of tents, a well-supplied kitchen pavilion and an information desk. A large blue and gray nylon tent, which 12 people crammed into the first night of the occupation, has laundry hanging off a clothesline in back and a cardboard sign on the front that reads “Zuccotti Arms,” in reference to the original Wall Street occupation.
We’ve come in search of Adam Santo, said to be the local leader of a leaderless movement. A handsome, boxy-glassed youth a few years out of college, Santo says he knew about the planning for Occupy Wall Street prior to Sept. 17.
“I wanted to go to New York, but I’ve been unemployed and finances were tight, so I thought wouldn’t it be cool to have an occupation in the Lehigh Valley,” where Allentown is nestled. Eight months earlier he and three co-workers were laid off from their jobs at a local bank because of a “lack of work.”
The GOP’s New Job Scam: The 99% Seek
A Just Economy, Not Just An Economy
By Leo Gerard
Beaver County Blue via Alternet.org
Republicans jammed together a mess of old, failed and vague schemes and called it a jobs bill. Sen. John McCain conceded the reason for the rehash: “Part of it is in response to the president saying we don’t have a proposal.”
They still don’t. This despite the fact that they promised voters during their campaign to take control of the U.S. House one year ago that they’d create jobs. That they’d focus on jobs. That nothing was more important to them than jobs.
Now, what they’ve offered instead of actual jobs is a polyglot of GOP talking points. It’s certainly no vision to move the country forward. It’s a plot to set the country back – to repeal the health care law that will soon help provide coverage for the nearly 50 million Americans without insurance, to rescind the Wall Street reform law designed to prevent another financial sector-caused meltdown, and to thwart regulations, like those that stopped distribution of listeria-infected cantaloupe that killed 25.
GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio called the Republican polyglot a “pro-growth proposal to create the environment for jobs.” It is, in fact, a pro-business proposal to permit corporations to destroy the environment for humans.
It is another GOP ploy to appease, accommodate and absolve corporations. It is another GOP ruse to firmly establish in America an economy designed for, dedicated to and directed by corporations rather than a just economy controlled by and beneficial to the 99 percent.
Iraq: After Nearly Nine Years of War and
Occupation, America to Withdraw All Troops
By Tom Hayden
Beaver County Peace Links via The Nation
Oct 19, 2011 – In a stunning and largely unexpected victory for the American peace movement and Iraqi opponents of the US occupation, virtually all US troops will withdraw from Iraq as scheduled by this December 31.
First reported by the Associated Press on October 16, the US pullout will allow President Obama to keep an important promise, and the Iraqi government to defend its sovereign power.
Remaining behind in Baghdad, however, will be the world’s largest US Embassy, the size of eighty football fields, with some 5,000 staff, including private contractors. There may be some 160 active-duty US soldiers attached to the embassy, according to the AP story. Thousands more US troops will likely be redeployed over the border to Kuwait.
According to the AP account, the Iraqis rejected intense Pentagon lobbying to retain a “residual” force of thousands of US troops. Earlier this year, the Pentagon was insisting on 10,000–15,000 troops at a minimum, a number that was slashed to a slender 3,000–4,000 troop proposal by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta a few weeks ago.
The main sticking point was the US demand for immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts for American troops. The Iraqi Parliament rejected immunity, citing memories of torture at Abu Ghraib and reckless shootings of civilians by American contractors during the conflict.
Global Jobs Crisis Takes Biggest
Toll On Struggling Youth Everywhere
By Lila Shapiro
Beaver County Blue via HuffPost
Oct 20, 2011 – Of all those that have suffered from global joblessness, it could be the young job seekers in developed economies that have paid the highest price. And the collective frustration is beginning to add up.
At the end of last year, there were an estimated 75.1 million young people around the world struggling to find jobs — a group nearly the size of the population of Iran. The group of job hunters, ages 15 to 24, has expanded by 4.6 million since the Great Recession began, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations.
The burden is heaviest for the young in Europe, the U.S., and other advanced economies, where the youth unemployment rate saw the biggest overall jump between 2008-2010. Adding to the concern: While other regions of the world saw youth unemployment rates peak in 2009, these countries were among the few, globally, that continued to see the unemployment rate creep up.
This course does not appear to be changing, at least not any time soon.
Occupy The Rust Belt:
Notes From The Pittsburgh Protest
Occupy Pittsburgh crowd massed at Freedom Square in the Hill District. (Photo © Karen Lillis)
By Karen Lillis
On October 15, I marched with Occupy Pittsburgh, the city’s first action in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. I watched excitedly as the crowd grew throughout the day, building from a modest gathering when my partner and I arrived at Freedom Corner at 10:00 a.m., to a rally in the low thousands by the time the march reached Market Square at 1:00 p.m.
In sharp contrast to national anti-Occupy jeers against the “dirty hippies” and stereotypes of black-clad anarchists, a broad spectrum of the population showed up to march. College students and parents with small children. Union members and nine-to-fivers. Retirees and laid-off workers. Voters and tax-payers. The underclass and the working class and the middle class and self-identified members of the 1%. At one point I found myself between an old man in a motorized wheelchair and a young girl being pulled in a wagon.
I also noticed who didn’t show up to the march. My friends and many acquaintances in Pittsburgh are artists and writers, musicians and freelancers, actors and librarians, small business owners and academics. Most are progressives and free-thinkers who exist well left of the current Democratic party. But I saw less than 20 people I knew in the four hours I spent with the demonstrators. The first two folks I recognized were a barista and a waiter who have both served me food and drink.
“Hurray for service workers!,” I thought, having spent almost two decades of my working years in restaurants or retail.
Occupy Pittsburgh Protesters
Assail All Manner of Enemies
By Sadie Gurman and Jonathan D. Silver
Oct 16, 2011 – A disparate group of Occupy Pittsburgh protesters in tents and sleeping bags settled into Mellon Green on Saturday night after a day in which about 2,000 protesters peacefully crisscrossed Downtown and far fewer readied to stay put for as long as they could.
The events were one of several regional offshoots of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which began in New York City and has inspired protests in Philadelphia, Denver, Seattle and other cities. Those involved decry what they describe as a number of social, political and economic ills spawned by corporate greed and governmental corruption.
"When you spend four years in the military and you come back and you see the way things are being run, you get pretty angry about it," said Joshua Heidecker, 28, of Erie, a U.S. Marine who said the majority of veterans he knows are fed up with corporate influences in government. He was with several other young veterans in partial uniform.
In the afternoon, the demonstrators set up camp on Mellon Green, a stretch of grass at Grant Street and Sixth Avenue that’s owned by BNY Mellon. The Green turned to mud within a few minutes of their arrival just after 4 p.m. They gathered around a loudspeaker, where a man faced the towering BNY Mellon building and announced, "We are not below you, as we are today. We are above you. We are the 99 percent!"
He looked back at the cheering crowd.
"Thank you for occupying Pittsburgh! Do not give up the fight!"
Some of the protests in other cities have ended in mass arrests, but in Pittsburgh, police reported no major incidents, property damage or arrests by day’s end.