Quantcast

This Week: Occupation Nation. PLUS: An Exclusive Investigation | The Nation

  •  
Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

This Week: Occupation Nation. PLUS: An Exclusive Investigation

OCCUPATION NATION. There was no shortage of Occupy Wall Street drama this week. Under the cover of Tuesday’s early morning darkness, Mayor Bloomberg surreptitiously dispatched an NYPD raid on Liberty Square, forcibly removing tents and protesters and instituting a press lockout. At least ten journalists were arrested and a few were “roughed up” in the process. This wasn’t just any raid, as John Nichols explains; it was a raid on the First Amendment and an outright assault on freedom of the press.

On Thursday, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets all over New York City as part of the already-planned International Day of Action to mark the two-month anniversary of the Occupation. Beginning at 7 am, demonstrators attempted to shut down Wall Street and occupy the subways by telling stories of people on the front lines of economic injustice. And thousands more, mostly students, gathered just a block away from The Nation offices in Union Square. Over the course of the day, demonstrations grew far larger and more resonant in large part as a response to Tuesday’s raid, a signal to Mayor Bloomberg and the powers that be “You Cannot Evict An Idea,” as our lead editorial argues this week. Nation web producer Francis Reynolds was in Liberty Square Thursday morning and captured stunning footage of the mass demonstrations and the arrests. And Nation OWS live-blogger Greg Mitchell has a roundup of all of Thursday’s dramatic developments, here.

Though New York City, the epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street movement, has dominated headlines, last month The Nation reported on nine cities in which the Occupy Wall Street movement had really taken hold. As the weeks have worn on, many cities have faced a crackdown from local police as well as dropping temperatures. Nevertheless, the occupations in these cities, from Los Angeles to Boston, are now only more entrenched and are coming up with ingenious solutions to remain a powerful force on the national political scene. Be sure to take a look at our updated slideshow, available here.

And catch Nation editor Richard Kim on Current TV’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, tonight at 8 pm ET for a comprehensive update on what happened on Thursday and where the Occupy movement goes from here.

BILL MOYERS ON HOW WALL STREET OCCUPIED AMERICA. “Let’s name this for what it is: hypocrisy made worse, the further perversion of democracy,” writes Bill Moyers of our current political climate, in a powerful essay adapted from a speech he gave in October that appeared in our November 21 issue. “Our politicians are little more than money launderers in the trafficking of power and policy,” he goes on. Moyers’ critique powerfully sketches the path by which Wall Street occupied America and in turn ignited “flesh-and-blood human beings fight to rekindle what Arlo Guthrie calls ‘The Patriot’s Dream.’ ” Forbes.com staff writer Robert Lenzer is right: “More Moyers Please!” Be sure to read Moyers’s powerful piece, available here.

PARAMILITARY POLICING OF OWS. The violent police response to the otherwise peaceful Occupy movement, on display in Occupy encampments in Oakland recently and Portland, Oregon, and in New York City on Thursday brings into focus the problems of how law enforcement has dealt with the protests. In last week’s issue, Norm Stamper offers up an inside look at the mistakes he made in handling the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle as chief of the Seattle Police Department. In “Paramilitary Policing from Seattle to Occupy Wall Street,” Stamper offers a cautionary tale that weaves his personal account with a strong critique of systemic problems of US law enforcement’s growing militarization. “We made huge mistakes back in 1999,” Stamper told Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman. “I’m afraid they’re being repeated today across the country.” In reaction to escalation of violence at Occupy encampments, Norm argues, police forces throughout the country have rapidly militarized—and sacrificed many of their community partnerships in the process. The tragic irony, however, is that police offers who are beating up protesters are inherently part of the Occupy movement. In an interview on WNYC’s The Takeaway, Stamper was asked whether the nation’s police officers are against the Occupy movement? “Yes, no and maybe,” Stamper replied. Drawing on his own struggle as a former police chief, Stamper adds: “I’m very discouraged by what I’m seeing today,” he said. “It suggests that they [national police forces] haven’t learned from our mistakes—and specifically from my mistakes.”

NATION CONVERSATION: INEQUALITY 101. The Occupy Wall Street and the 99 Percent movement have achieved the remarkable feat of making the issue of inequality the subject of national conversation. The Congressional Budget Office’s recently released study, years in the making, shed increased sunlight on the growing rift between rich and poor: it shows that the income for the top one percent has nearly tripled from 1979 to 2007. This week’s Nation Conversation with Roosevelt Institute fellow Mike Konczal and Nation web editor Emily Douglas dig into the numbers behind the largest class divide in thirty years, and what the government can do to fix it. And be sure to read Konczal’s explainer, available here.

VIDEO: SUPERCOMMITTEE, SUPER TROUBLE. In less than a week, the Congressional supercommittee will have to deliver a deficit reduction plan of $1.2 trillion. But what does this budget reduction mean? In Washington’s current political climate, it means cutting Social Security, healthcare, education, infrastructure and other public programs that are important to the recovery of the economy for the majority of Americans, of whom 14 million are unemployed. In this video produced by MoveOn.org, former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich explains how the supercommittee’s budget cuts will depress the economy even further. But there is another way: Reich proposes four ways the supercommittee could cut the budget: watch this video and find out how. Check back each Wednesday for new episodes from Reich and MoveOn.org.

NATION INVESTIGATION: HOW ONLINE LEARNING COMPANIES BOUGHT AMERICA’S SCHOOLS. This week, investigative reporter Lee Fang exposes how an unholy alliance has emerged in recent years in which for-profit education companies—from Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp to Bill Gate’s Microsoft—have partnered with privatization-minded school reform foundations and think tanks to push through new education laws that could mandate virtual education for K-12 students across the country. After stumbling for years, they have made 2011 the year that virtual education reform swept through through state legislatures like a storm: suddenly, thirteen states have expanded virtual school programs or mandated online education. As fiscal crises have forced states to cut spending on education, virtual school reform has been successfully sold by these “reformers” as a budget fix. Meanwhile, a gold rush of investors are clamoring to get a piece of the K-12 education market: one study estimated that revenues from the K-12 online learning industry will grow by 43 percent between 2010 and 2015, with revenues reaching a whopping $24.4 billion.

This frenzy to privatize America’s K-12 education system, despite the lack of proof that these virtual education schemes work, speaks to the stunning success of a public relations and lobbying campaign by industry, particularly tech companies, who have funneled millions of dollars into campaigns across the country. It raises the question of whether school privatization reform groups, whose funding relies heavily on donations from industry, are driven by a desire for reform—or a desire to maximize profit-making opportunities for their corporate donors. Read Fang’s investigative piece here.

PROGRAM NOTE: I’ll be on WNYC’s The Leonard Lopate Show on Monday, November 21, to discuss my new book, The Change I Believe In: Progress in the Age of Obama (Nation Books). And I’ll be at the the New York Society for Ethical Culture on Monday night at 7pm, joined by former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert and Nation DC correspondent John Nichols.

As always, thanks for reading. I’m on Twitter—@KatrinaNation. Please leave your comments below.

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.