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Author Topic: Occupy Wall Street and the sad state of American protesting
kmbboots
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How, exactly?
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Can you see why that would be frustrating? If someone is going to say something that's just plain wrong, they shouldn't be frustrated when it's pointed out. It's a discussion board.

I can tell you what the wrong response is, flat-out: to write it off as trolling and to psychoanalyze him as insincere.

Gee, and this thread was doing so well before!

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fugu13
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quote:
I can tell you what the wrong response is, flat-out: to write it off as trolling and to psychoanalyze him as insincere.
I tried to have a discussion with him and wrote pages and pages of answers to his points, including specific questions to attempt to narrow down his position. He didn't bother conversing honestly and settled into his typical trolling routine when it comes to taking outrageous positions on controversial topics. It isn't like this is unusual for him, and it isn't like I didn't try to talk reasonably about it. I've been responding thoroughly and forthrightly through the entire history of my participation in this thread, so I don't appreciate being told I'm the one having the wrong response.
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Juxtapose
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quote:
As I've stated numerous times here in thread, I'll state my specific argument here again: CEO pay in the US, given the size and profitability of the companies involved, is probably somewhat higher, but not excessively higher, than it should be
This is about how I see things, but it makes me wonder if the focus on CEO compensation (which I'm emotionally sympathetic to) doesn't sort of miss the point.

If increasingly large corporations require CEOs with increasingly large compensation packages, is it worth it to re-examine how we regulate mergers? And do some corporations merit being broken up? I'm thinking specifically of financial corporations here, and reducing CEO compensation wouldn't even be the primary benefit.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Second, he was saying a heck of a lot more than extreme, he was saying they should be left *destitute*, specifically and repeatedly.
I need to clarify, in case you haven't understood this point, that I was not advocating that they be left destitute. I was pointing out that because we would not leave them destitute (or force them to otherwise suffer 1000 times the actual responsibility of a line worker), the idea that we should give them 1000 times the reward based on that assumption that they bear a similarly large responsibility is one that, to my mind, does not pass muster.

The truth is that we pay them 1000 times more because their friends, who set their pay, would like to see them paid 1000 times more, and have been conditioned to believe that this is not only normal but somehow demanded of the market. And they will pull out all the facts and figures they like to justify this iniquity, on the grounds that the status quo must exist for a reason.

------------

quote:
If increasingly large corporations require CEOs with increasingly large compensation packages, is it worth it to re-examine how we regulate mergers? And do some corporations merit being broken up?
Oh, absolutely. CEO pay, IMO, is only an obvious symptom of a far deeper problem. There's actually a fairly interesting article making the rounds that examines which companies actually hold the bulk of the wealth in the world, and IIRC it turns out that roughly 50% of the total wealth is actually held by 25 corporations, 20 of which are financial institutions. On the boards of those corporations sit under 300 people, and 50 of those are on more than half of them. You could fit the men who own half the planet comfortably in my yard.

[ October 25, 2011, 09:27 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
Seeing large, nebulous social issues is not a reason to side with whichever side of a specific argument tends to use the right rhetoric. I hope that isn't what you're arguing, because it sure sounds like it.

As I've stated numerous times here in thread, I'll state my specific argument here again: CEO pay in the US, given the size and profitability of the companies involved, is probably somewhat higher, but not excessively higher, than it should be. That this is true by the yardsticks the US is commonly asserted to have a problem vs (such as CEO pay in Europe) is readily confirmed by data. The problem is small compared to other, much larger problems (such as the general plight of poor people and the decline of the middle class), and is almost certainly corrected by measures worth supporting anyways, namely raising taxes.

As I've stated in *other* threads repeatedly, I am for a good-sized increase in taxes that extends down to around $100k to $150k in household income, simplifying the tax code drastically, cutting federal expenditures (grant programs and homeland security especially) by a lot, restructuring FICA taxation so that it isn't regressive and is sustainable, creating a negative income tax on the lowest bracket so there's a guaranteed minimum income, and instituting national single payer health insurance.

I am for all these things because I have researched the problems that pertain as well as I know how, trying to use data as much as possible to help me understand what actually helps and how much. I am not for these things because other people I share some opinions with are for these things. I am not for these things because they use sound bites that agree with my general sympathies. I am not for these things because they hurt people I like or help people I don't like. I am not for these things because they attempt to get rid of things I perceive as social wrongs unless I have reason to believe there wouldn't be worse social wrongs created in the attempt.

I like your ideas, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
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Blayne Bradley
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In related news Jon Stewart called Cantor a pussy for not speaking in front of the OWS crowd, I consider myself vindicated.
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Rakeesh
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Oh, of course-no source is more credible than the partisan (whose politics I often like) comic (whose humor I dig) who makes zingers for a living (that are often really good)...well.
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TomDavidson
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To be fair, I don't think credibility is necessarily important when you need to have what is ultimately a question of opinion validated. Were there some kind of obvious authority on which people are pussies or not -- Chuck Norris, maybe? Mr. T? -- then perhaps credibility would be a question. But here Blayne's saying, "A famous person I respect claims to share my opinion on the question of whether someone is a pussy, and I feel validated."

(For my part, I think it's a very exceptional politician who speaks before a hostile audience that expects to ask open questions, and certainly not one who is only speaking in order to deliver some canned sound-bytes. Cantor had nothing to gain by speaking to that crowd, and he's not enough of a statesman to consider that people might have had something to gain by speaking with him.)

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Rakeesh
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If that's what Blayne meant, then I was mistaken-my bad. I admit I consider it quite a bit more likely, though, that the expression was less nuanced.
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SenojRetep
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This CBO report on trends in income inequality seems quite timely. The major take away (at least for me) was that changes to tax code have had relatively minor impact on the change in income inequality. Much more significant is the concentration of labor income. Several theories are put forward about why the after tax incomes of the top 1% have been growing so quickly. To my layman's understanding, the explanations are 1) the high end jobs got harder as the companies got larger and the playing field got more complex, 2) corporate boards have been remiss in their obligations and 3) the nature of corporations has changed, such that profits are more likely to be extracted as income rather than reinvested in the corporation. I've copied some of the relevant quotes below.

One relevent excerpt, summarizing some academic findings:
quote:
The authors concluded that their findings are most consistent with the theories that technical changes have enhanced the value of certain skills and that the increasing scale of corporate and financial activity has raised the value of corporate executives and financial professionals, rather than that weak corporate governance has led to excessive compensation.
This is then disputed by another academic study, which suggest that "the highest-income households’ share of income is explained by the prices of assets in financial markets and possibly by the evolution of corporate governance and entrepreneurship, rather than by superstar theories or by technological change that complemented certain skills." A third competing theory is given (although the CBO authors dismiss it to some degree):
quote:
Others have argued that the observed growth in the conversion of C corporation income into S corporation income has contributed to the rapid growth in income for the highest-income households.
On a different note, I found this demographic tidbit interesting:
quote:
The study found that nonfinancial executives, managers, and supervisors made up the largest subgroup of the highest-income households, accounting for 31 percent of the top percentile. Medical professionals were the second largest occupational category, making up 16 percent, while financial professionals accounted for 14 percent and lawyers for 8 percent. No other single occupational group accounted for more than 5 percent of the top percentile.
For those who don't want to do the math, that leaves 31% unaccounted for. There is some suggestion in the report that a share of these are entertainers in various fields (sports, music, movies), and some are small business owners (although perhaps they're included in the nonfinancial managers, executives and supervisers category), but I'd be interested in knowing what that composition looks like.

<edit>I went and checked the original paper, written in 2007 using data up to 2005. The additional professions are:
Computer, math, engineering, technical (nonfinance) - 4.6; Not working or deceased - 4.3; Skilled sales (except finance or real estate) - 4.2; Blue collar or miscellaneous service - 3.8; Real estate - 3.2; Business operations (nonfinance) - 3.0; Entrepreneur not elsewhere classified - 2.3; Professors and scientists - 1.8; Arts, media, sports - 1.6; Unknown - 0.9; Government, teachers, social services - 0.8; Farmers & ranchers - 0.5; Pilots - 0.2.

If you consider just the top 0.1% you get the following distribution: Executives, managers, supervisors (non-finance) - 40.8; Financial professions, including management - 18.4; Not working or deceased - 6.3; Lawyers - 6.2; Real estate - 4.7; Medical - 4.4; Entrepreneur not elsewhere classified - 3.6; Arts, media, sports - 3.1; Computer, math, engineering, technical (nonfinance) - 3.0; Other - 2.6; Business operations (nonfinance) - 2.2; Skilled sales (except finance or real estate) - 1.9; Professors and scientists - 1.1; Farmers & ranchers - 1.0; Unknown - 0.7.
</edit>

[ October 25, 2011, 11:15 PM: Message edited by: SenojRetep ]

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
... For my part, I think it's a very exceptional politician who speaks before a hostile audience that expects to ask open questions, and certainly not one who is only speaking in order to deliver some canned sound-bytes.

That's question period in Parliament.
(The first part anyways)

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odouls268
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Wow.
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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
... For my part, I think it's a very exceptional politician who speaks before a hostile audience that expects to ask open questions, and certainly not one who is only speaking in order to deliver some canned sound-bytes.

That's question period in Parliament.
(The first part anyways)

My feelings exactly, parliament is awesome to watch once they get into the swing of things.
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Lyrhawn
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Maybe to refocus this discussion a little bit (though feel free to carry on, I guess):

Police assault Occupy Oakland encampment with flash bangs and pepper spray canisters

The report is that they swept into the camp at night with flashbangs, pepper spray canisters and bean bag guns. Scores were arrested. Supposedly the reason was that the camp was unsanitary, but the protesters are disputing the veracity of that claim.

There have been a few encounters between police and protesters in Oakland, but the protesters have been overwhelmingly peaceful. Not going to be hard to connect this to the police actions in New York, I think.

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Lyrhawn
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Interview with a couple protesters

You get an idea of what the camp was like here. It seems somewhat organized, and like many of these camps, like they cleaned and took care of it fairly well.

In response to the camp bring broken up, 1,000 march

Several in the march were also arrested.

More on the march.

Looks like the police had them at every turn.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
There have been a few encounters between police and protesters in Oakland, but the protesters have been overwhelmingly peaceful.

Yep. Overwhelmingly.
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Dan_Frank
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Even your own links mention that there were reports of a sexual assault and a severe beating, Lyr. By what metric is that "overwhelmingly peaceful?"
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Shanna
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Reports of assault is absolutely something that merits investigation. I imagine more could have been accomplished if the police has peacefully worked with the protestors. There are occupied cities where the protests and police have a working relationship.

I'm not sure storming a camp in the middle of the night dressed in riot gear and then firing tear gas into a crowd which contains children, the elderly, and disabled, was the appropriate and useful course of action.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
There have been a few encounters between police and protesters in Oakland, but the protesters have been overwhelmingly peaceful.

Yep. Overwhelmingly.
I can't get the link to load. What is it?

My comments was more about their protest activities. They aren't rioting, they aren't attacking police officers (I think there might be a few exceptions to that). And the problems in the park were reports, but I'm not sure how much I believe them without some independent confirmation. I don't doubt the possibility given where the camp is, it used to basically be an open air homeless camp, and the fact that anything is possible. But I also don't particularly trust the media or the government on this one. Show me the investigation and the report that proves it. Until then, it's random unsubstantiated report that even the news reports is unsubstantiated since they claim to be unable to reach the scene.

Even if true, overwhelmingly means mostly, not entirely, and thus allows for small exceptions.

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Lyrhawn
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Live Chopper cam feed of Oakland protesters in the streets.

Looks like they were just milling around with a line of police nearby.

Now I can see clouds of tear gas.

And now it looks like the feed has been cut as soon as the tear gas was fired and cops moved in. Convenient.

Now it's back up, though the viewpoints are a little less clear. It appears to be taking place over a couple of blocks, with police covering the area.

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Lyrhawn
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Occupy Atlanta camp cleared up by police earlier tonight

Looks like is was a fairly peaceful clearing. Police came in, calmly arrested the protesters, and off to jail they went. Looks like they came in force, perhaps expecting something serious, but it went down calmly.

Some interesting bits in the story. Apparently one of the reasons for shutting it down was that a man was walking around with a loaded AK-47 (which he is legally allowed to do). The mayor, who had previously said people would be allowed to stay in the park until Nov. 7, cited a "hip-hop concert" as proof of the escalating nature of the danger in the park.

Interesting how armed protesters at Tea Party rallies are a-ok, but at an Occupy rally, they're dangerous. I don't think it was anything close to the main justification for ending things, but that being singled out as significant is interesting to me.

Some more video of the man power brought to clear out the park.

They also noted in both Oakland and Atlanta that the camp material left behind would be confiscated and not returned. I don't know how it works in Atlanta or Oakland, but here in Lincoln, people are mostly getting by on donated materials, between food, personal hygiene supplies, tents, and even heaters for the tents. Occupy Wall Street has used some of their donated funds to purchase similar items.

I wonder how much these evictions pushes are merely smokescreens to force the protesters to exhaust their limited resources to even carry on. Setting up another camp could prove tricky if they have to start all over. I doubt it's the main reason, but it could be a reason.

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Lyrhawn
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130 arrested Monday in Chicago for staying in Grant Park after hours protesting
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
There have been a few encounters between police and protesters in Oakland, but the protesters have been overwhelmingly peaceful.

Yep. Overwhelmingly.
I can't get the link to load. What is it?

My comments was more about their protest activities. They aren't rioting, they aren't attacking police officers (I think there might be a few exceptions to that). And the problems in the park were reports, but I'm not sure how much I believe them without some independent confirmation. I don't doubt the possibility given where the camp is, it used to basically be an open air homeless camp, and the fact that anything is possible. But I also don't particularly trust the media or the government on this one. Show me the investigation and the report that proves it. Until then, it's random unsubstantiated report that even the news reports is unsubstantiated since they claim to be unable to reach the scene.

Even if true, overwhelmingly means mostly, not entirely, and thus allows for small exceptions.

It's reprinted from the Oakland Trib. Here is another site hosting an excerpt... does that one work?

Basically, there was some infighting. Woman was threatened, guy was assaulted (punched, choked), then a mob formed to kick the guy doing the assaulting out, he was threatened with a knife, and someone (article is confusing, not sure if it was the knife guy or the assaulting guy) was hit in the head with a piece of wood.

I think you are splitting hairs re: "overwhelmingly," though I agree you are technically correct. Still, just as a thought experiment, try to imagine your reaction if there had been a sexual assault at a tea party, and how you'd take it if I tried to write it off and claimed the event was still "overwhelmingly" safe. I think you might find you are letting your bias effect how seriously you're taking it. What do you think?

It's Oakland, man. You grew up in the Midwest, I think, so maybe you don't know, but... Oakland is not a safe place, by any stretch. The city looks for reasons to riot. This isn't terribly surprising, and frankly I don't even think it's fair for conservative blogs to try to use Occupy Oakland against the Occupy crowd in general. But I do think that trying to defend Occupy Oakland does not make the rest of OWS look terribly good.

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Mucus
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BTW, that was your 1137th post
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Dan_Frank
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So it was! Is that... is that a special number?

I don't really get leetspeak... I guess that's llet, which doesn't look like anything. What am I missing?

Dang, though, I have been posting a lot here lately. Didn't notice when I crossed 1,000.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
There have been a few encounters between police and protesters in Oakland, but the protesters have been overwhelmingly peaceful.

Yep. Overwhelmingly.
I can't get the link to load. What is it?

My comments was more about their protest activities. They aren't rioting, they aren't attacking police officers (I think there might be a few exceptions to that). And the problems in the park were reports, but I'm not sure how much I believe them without some independent confirmation. I don't doubt the possibility given where the camp is, it used to basically be an open air homeless camp, and the fact that anything is possible. But I also don't particularly trust the media or the government on this one. Show me the investigation and the report that proves it. Until then, it's random unsubstantiated report that even the news reports is unsubstantiated since they claim to be unable to reach the scene.

Even if true, overwhelmingly means mostly, not entirely, and thus allows for small exceptions.

It's reprinted from the Oakland Trib. Here is another site hosting an excerpt... does that one work?

Basically, there was some infighting. Woman was threatened, guy was assaulted (punched, choked), then a mob formed to kick the guy doing the assaulting out, he was threatened with a knife, and someone (article is confusing, not sure if it was the knife guy or the assaulting guy) was hit in the head with a piece of wood.

I think you are splitting hairs re: "overwhelmingly," though I agree you are technically correct. Still, just as a thought experiment, try to imagine your reaction if there had been a sexual assault at a tea party, and how you'd take it if I tried to write it off and claimed the event was still "overwhelmingly" safe. I think you might find you are letting your bias effect how seriously you're taking it. What do you think?

It's Oakland, man. You grew up in the Midwest, I think, so maybe you don't know, but... Oakland is not a safe place, by any stretch. The city looks for reasons to riot. This isn't terribly surprising, and frankly I don't even think it's fair for conservative blogs to try to use Occupy Oakland against the Occupy crowd in general. But I do think that trying to defend Occupy Oakland does not make the rest of OWS look terribly good.

I do love the Midwest. On the other hand, give me a little credit, I grew up within walking distance of Detroit. I'm not exactly out in the cornfields. Well, actually now I AM in the corn fields, but I didn't grow up there! [Smile]

I see your point. I hadn't read that much detail on the incident, so thanks for finding a story for me. That IS troubling. While I think my point still more or less stands about the protest itself being peaceful from the point of view of the interactions between the protesters and the police, that looks like a rather poor mark for their own general behavior. I know some of the Occupy camps have dedicated security teams to stop stuff like that from breaking out.

As for how I would view a Tea Party rally, it's an interesting question. There's really no way of knowing, but if an isolated incident was reported at a single event, I'd like to think I'd give them the benefit of the doubt. I think of myself as a pretty fair judge of some events, but "fair" absolutely doesn't mean impartial. Obviously I have a bias. Still, I can think of plenty of times on here where I've given someone I either don't like or don't agree with the benefit of the doubt because the specific complaint against him or her simply wasn't good enough.

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Dan_Frank
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That's cool. I definitely feel the same way about impartial/bias etc: I can sense my bias bleeding through, and I think back to how I would be willing to write off a single racist sign at a tea party rally as not indicative of the overall rally (especially when other tea partiers would walk up to the racist and tell them how their sign was offensive and lame). That's why I mentioned above that I don't agree with people acting like bad behavior in Oakland = bad behavior from all OWS people. Oakland may not be Detroit, but it's nevertheless done a lot to earn its reputation.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
So it was! Is that... is that a special number?

I don't really get leetspeak...

Well, it's literally leet.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leet

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Shanna
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Former US Marine in hospital after being hit by police projectiles at Oakland raid

Along with the report on his injuries, the page also includes a video showing Olsen on the ground, bloody, after being hit. As a group of protestors rushes to his aid and moment later, another tear gas canister is launched by nearby police officers into the crowd.

[ October 26, 2011, 09:23 PM: Message edited by: Shanna ]

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TomDavidson
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And when Shanna says "nearby," she means "just out of arm's length." This wasn't a case of a cop firing randomly at a knot of people he couldn't quite make out; this was a case of a cop who watched a bloodied man collapse to the ground in pain ten to twelve feet away, watched members of a fleeing crowd turn back to cluster around him to check on his condition, and then tossed a grenade directly into the center of that crowd from three yards away.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
So it was! Is that... is that a special number?

I don't really get leetspeak...

Well, it's literally leet.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leet

Wouldn't that be post 1337? And I had post 1137? Or am I missing something?
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
And when Shanna says "nearby," she means "just out of arm's length." This wasn't a case of a cop firing randomly at a knot of people he couldn't quite make out; this was a case of a cop who watched a bloodied man collapse to the ground in pain ten to twelve feet away, watched members of a fleeing crowd turn back to cluster around him to check on his condition, and then tossed a grenade directly into the center of that crowd from three yards away.

I've seen the video, and something definitely went wrong here. I'm adamantly opposed to cops who abuse their power, and I don't want be an apologizer for them.

However, I do think it's wrong to attribute to malice what can just as easily be characterized as incompetence. I wonder if, given the high tension of the situation and the fact that it was night, the cop was deliberately trying to keep people away from the injured man, or if he simply saw a crowd of people rushing towards the barricade, panicked, and threw a flashbang.

In the same vein, I've seen some people (such as the narrator of the video I saw) imply or outright state that the police shot Olsen in the face with a tear gas canister intentionally. That seems, again, like attributing much more malice than the facts really lend themselves to. Canister launching isn't normally done with extremely high levels of precision, it's more of a point-and-shoot sort of deal. If you point and shoot into a crowd, there's a chance someone's going to get hit.

Either way, the Oakland PD doesn't have the best history, any more than crowds in Oakland do. If it turns out the cops in question did everything as intentionally and maliciously as Tom implies, I won't exactly be shocked.

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Mucus
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Dan_Frank: You're right.
I must be seriously tired. Have been seriously tired. etc.

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Dan_Frank
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No problem! Just glad I wasn't confused. Plus I still have post 1337 to look forward to.

PS: You can just call me Dan if you want. Really, I won't mind.

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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
I wonder if, given the high tension of the situation and the fact that it was night, the cop was deliberately trying to keep people away from the injured man, or if he simply saw a crowd of people rushing towards the barricade, panicked, and threw a flashbang.
Sorry, based on the body language of the thrower, I can't see either of these possibilities.


Just to provide some balance.

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Shanna
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I didn't get that implication from the narrated video. Rather, he seems to point out the deliberate nature of the SECOND canister which is launched from only feet away directly into the crowd of protestors as they attempt to assist an injured man.

Again, the amount of force used by police just seems so unnecessary. Tear gas canisters are meant as non-lethal force. So are bean bag projectiles. But they still are incredibly dangerous and even if no one is severely and directly harmed by the canister itself, its amazing no one was trampled as people fled the gas. If anything, it seems to rile up the protestors and make them more prone to physically acting out against the officers.

I just wonder when we stopped expecting more from our police force. They should be the highest models of the community. Here in New Orleans where cops are put on trial for murder, the local police force has been incredibly cooperative with the local Occupy movement, even escorting multiple marches! There's no excuse for this kind of senseless force just because its a rough city. All the more reason for them to be BETTER!

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Shanna
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EDIT: Nevermind, didn't realize Glenn had already linked to the story about Albany Police refusing to arrest protestos
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Arnold:
quote:
I wonder if, given the high tension of the situation and the fact that it was night, the cop was deliberately trying to keep people away from the injured man, or if he simply saw a crowd of people rushing towards the barricade, panicked, and threw a flashbang.
Sorry, based on the body language of the thrower, I can't see either of these possibilities.


Just to provide some balance.

That's fair. As I said, I'm not holding any of these theories very tightly, I'm just wondering if it's a possibility.

Re: the article you linked... it's cool that things went so well there, and that the cops were so reasonable.

Tangentially, though, I wonder... why do we have laws if we don't enforce them? If it's illegal to camp on city or state land, then arrest the people that do it. If you don't think we should because they weren't doing anything wrong... then why did we make it a crime to camp on the land in the first place? I feel the same way about speed limits. If you aren't going to strictly enforce them, then why are they at the number they're at?

Having hundreds or thousands of laws that are frequently not enforced and that nobody takes seriously just creates an attitude of general disregard for the rule of law. And then people are shocked when they get arrested (not thinking of Oakland here, but of the various other occupy arrests where some people expressed such disbelief that their civil disobedience could get them arrested)

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Shanna:

Again, the amount of force used by police just seems so unnecessary. Tear gas canisters are meant as non-lethal force. So are bean bag projectiles. But they still are incredibly dangerous and even if no one is severely and directly harmed by the canister itself, its amazing no one was trampled as people fled the gas. If anything, it seems to rile up the protestors and make them more prone to physically acting out against the officers.

Seriously, more than one major protest in Oakland in the last couple of years have turned into riots. If the police decided to arrest everyone at the event, prepping with the assumption that a riot would break out once they started making arrests was a perfectly reasonable to do.

Again, this doesn't excuse the specifics of the Olsen situation. The flashbang was unnecessary, without question. It's just to say that protests turn into riots very easily in Oakland, and it's not unreasonable for the cops to assume this would be the same sort of situation.

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Lyrhawn
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Dan -

I think it might be one of those "spirit of the law" things. My guess would be that the anti-camping law was meant to deter homeless people from sleeping there. This is a peaceful protest. While they might not like it, I think it's a case where bending the rule is justified. Laws aren't always a suicide pact, otherwise why would we even bother with judges?

And as far as the "we're just trying to stop a riot from forming" defense, that seems counterintuitive. Flashbanging a group of people trying to help an injured man is MORE likely to cause a riot. People look for a specific instance of police brutality to rally around in a situation where a riot is more likely. Why give them the bait?

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Dan_Frank
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That's a good point, Lyr, but I still generally think that people who engage in civil disobedience should be prepared to be arrested. And if they are disorderly, they shouldn't expect the arrest to be gentle. Again, a "not gentle" arrest is a far cry from being shot in the face with a tear gas canister, so don't assume I'm saying something I'm not. [Smile]

Hey, Lyr, I have a couple links to more footage of Occupy Oakland, both a couple days before the disruption, and during. These sources are unabashedly conservatives, but they have some pictures and video I hadn't seen, and perhaps you haven't either. Provides another perspective on the situation. Both are done by the anonymous Zombie, who's a small l libertarian conservative who lives in the Bay Area and does photo blogs of most major protests around here.

The situation on the 22nd, after the eviction notice had been given but while it was still being ignored.

And a convenient hub of videos of the events surrounding the eviction.

One of the very last videos in the second link includes the footage of the injured guy and the flashbang. Zombie expresses some doubt that the guy was really injured, which, if the guy in that video is Olsen, is obviously wrong by now. Although it briefly made me wonder whether or not we've gotten explicit confirmation that it is Olsen in that video, as the previous version I'd seen cuts different footage together. Eh, for the time being I'm assuming it's Olsen, and thus the guy is legitimately injured and the flashbang is overkill.

Anyway, I'm actually a pretty big fan of Zombie, as he's been covering protests in the Bay Area for years. Anti-Bush protests, anti-war protests, Tea Parties, Anti-Tea Parties, and nonpolitical stuff like the Folsom Street Fair and Slutwalk. I know he provides a lot of conservative commentary in both of those links, but he also provides a lot of interesting footage and pictures, so I hope you don't just write all of it off. [Smile]

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Lyrhawn
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If not for the footage, I likely would have written him off. The first link has some interesting photos, but not a whole lot I really find highly objectionable, except for his smattering of racist and other comments. It's pretty clear he has an agenda from his comments on those photos.

The videos are interesting. If the video of two things being thrown at the cops is indicative of the "rocks and bottles" then it looks pretty overblown to me, though the paintball bomb was totally uncool. I saw two things that looked like water bottles flying through the air. However, that crowd could easily be interpreted as menacing. It would have been nicer to see a full video to see why those cops were arresting those two particular people, though I highly doubt it justifies the crowd acting like that.

I've seen longer cuts of the video on YouTube, it's the same guy, even if it ISN'T the same guy, that doesn't make what the police did okay. The fact that the videotaper assumed he was faking it betrays a lot of bias. He's clearly trying to portray the protesters in a negative light, which is silly since half the stuff he's showing isn't bad, and the stuff that IS bad doesn't require him to tell us it is, it's self-evident.

I wish there was some more complete reporting on what happened. This complicates the stories I've been seeing, but it doesn't really give a complete picture.

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Dan_Frank
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He's absolutely biased, and doesn't pretend otherwise, but I appreciate that you didn't let the existence of that bias blind you to some of the behavior he showcased. I didn't think you would.

(As an aside, I'm a little perplexed how you found him to be racist, but that's a derail so only answer if you feel like it... also I do think his photoblog successfully highlights the fact that some of the reasons the cops wanted to shut the place down seem justified... sanitation issues, drug use, and graffiti, specifically)

To me it's less proof that the police were justified in their aggressive tactics than it is proof that the crowds were, well, not terribly peaceful. But I guess I summed up my position before: It's Oakland. Most protests in Oakland have flavors of riot in them at some point, and the police there are on edge and overreact to perceived threats. Everybody involved acted badly, and neither side's behavior justifies the other side.

Edit: Hey, this article does a fairly good job excoriating both sides of the situation. I approve.

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Lyrhawn
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On his racist interpretations:

1. The two black security people were only chosen because they were the toughest or meanest looking guys around. What the hell is that based on? It seems to imply that he personally was scared of them, which makes me think he's playing on the stereotype of black guys in the inner city being inherently dangerous or scary.

2. The assumption that the black guy with some money, and you can't really tell it's a money roll of any kind, must be a drug dealer. Would he have assumed that if the guy was white, or might he have been the group's financial representative or something?

As for the justifications, the signs and pictures of outhouses suggest that these were problems that were addressed and probably solved, just as the protesters claimed. Reports say that the park was already a breeding ground for rats. The group claims they cleaned regularly, and I don't see anything to contradict that claim (or to support it really). I think you need more than a bucket of soiled hay to prove that. I'm not sure if a little plastic bag is indicative of widespread crack use. I'm not at all surprised by the widespread smoking of weed, but then, while I recognize the illegality, I'm also not particularly bugged by it since I'm in favor of legalization. Also, last I checked weed was decriminalized in California. As of last year, smoking weed is punishable by a simple ticket, it's not a jailable offense. So he's not making an argument based on legal justification, he's saying these are unwashed hippies that we should boot out. I can't argue with some of the hippie anarchist stuff going on there. But that's not a legal justification, it's an ideological one.

quote:
Everybody involved acted badly, and neither side's behavior justifies the other side.
I think this is closest to the mark. Still, I think the police overreacted to their poor behavior in a manner that wasn't just unjustifiable, it was outright stupid. As you say, it's Oakland. That's the kind of behavior that sparks MORE riots, it doesn't quell them.
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Dan_Frank
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So, what makes you think he only chose the two black guys because they were the scariest guys he could find? This really reads like you're projecting on this issue, to me.

Re: the drug dealer... I don't think that was racially motivated either. It's definitely a roll of cash, which, whether you're white or black, looks kinda suspicious.

Basically, I think 90% of the people he showed were not shown in a favorable light, but you're focusing on the black people he showed as if those decisions were racially motivated. I think that is off base, and you need to read between the lines a lot to get there.

Re: the justifications... I'll trust you on the rats, as I haven't seen that report. But on the human waste issue it seemed like they were still having some problems. There was also vandalism and, frankly, having been to protests in Oakland in the past, I find it really unlikely that there wasn't widespread drug use, beyond just smoking weed. But I will grant you that a single crack baggie is not proof positive of this, it's just confirming my bias.

And yes, I will absolutely grant you that the OPD has never figured out how to behave in a way that doesn't let people flagrantly break the law but also doesn't engender massive bad will and spark more rioting and outrage down the road. They pretty much always err on the side of "play the role of jackbooted thug," even when they would otherwise have a lot more of my sympathies.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
So, what makes you think he only chose the two black guys because they were the scariest guys he could find? This really reads like you're projecting on this issue, to me.
He has a picture of two black security guards (I assume these are the actual security guards) with a caption that says something like 'apparently their security plan is to find the two scariest looking guys around and put them in charge of security.'
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kmbboots
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New Social Justice Index Places U.S. Near Bottom

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/social-justice_n_1035363.html?ir=Politics&ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

http://www.sgi-network.org/pdf/SGI11_Social_Justice_OECD.pdf

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Dan_Frank
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Actually, he says (in the midst of an entire paragraph talking about their security) "Basically, the scariest looking guys, and/or those guys with with strongest authoritarian urge, have assumed the role of internal policemen."

Again, I think you're reading what you expect to be there. I didn't get the impression that he was trying to do that at all, and in all of his photo essays I haven't seen any penchant for racism, so I still maintain you're off base with this accusation.

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Rakeesh
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You see a white guy (general 'you', not you specifically, Dan) with a roll of bills, you think, "Gambler maybe. Could be going to a strip club or something. Maybe a bookie, or a dealer." You see a black guy of the same build with that same roll of bills, you think, "Drug dealer. Maybe a bookie. Could be going to a strip club.

As for the security guard bit...well, to some people, unknown black men are scarier than unknown white men. Pretty straightforward. It doesn't make the guy a frothing-at-the-mouth David Duke activist or something, but, "Scary black guys!" is a pretty strong ping on the racist radar and doesn't require much projection.

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