Sunday, September 16, 2012

One year later, what ever happened to Occupy Wall Street?

John Makely / NBC News
Occupy Wall Street protesters leave Washington Square Park at the start of their Saturday march to Zuccotti Park, the first planned march as part of three days of events to mark the one-year anniversary of the movement.
Occupy Wall Street took center stage last fall, galvanizing thousands of people across the country to protest against the abuses of what they called the “one percent.”
But one year after the movement began, it has been reduced to a shadow of its former self: Occupy’s makeshift camps have been shuttered, its membership has dwindled amid internal squabbling and what critics called a lack of direction and goals, and its hopes for social change so far have been unrealized.
Amid this backdrop, Occupy protesters have organized a sit-down protest around the New York Stock Exchange in Wall Street on Monday, their one-year anniversary, hoping to regain some momentum.
“Why are we going back to Wall Street? Because the one percent wants it all and they’re not giving anything up without a struggle. Economic conditions are roughly as bad as they were a year ago and for many, many people they’re precarious,” said Bill Dobbs, of the Occupy Wall Street public relations team.
As Occupy struggled to find its footing after being booted out of its camps, the New York flagship, in particular, wrangled with internal conflicts over financial transparency, leadership and tactics.
Jon Reiner, a laid-off New York marketing executive who traveled to many Occupy camps last fall, is disheartened the movement didn't engage in electoral politics.
“I think there’s an opportunity that it has missed,” said the 50-year-old husband and father of two. “I’m still meeting people my own age who are still being laid off. … so the issue has the same prominence in terms of its, you know, impact on people’s lives, and I think that the movement shouldn’t be quiet about any of this, and one way not to be quiet in an election cycle is to get yourself in the face of the … candidates."
“I still identify myself with the movement,” he added, “but I don’t feel like I have necessarily an outlet for my activism.”
Another point of contention was whether the movement should embrace violent tactics. 
“These big arguments took up a lot of time and energy for months over whether the tactics should remain strictly nonviolent,” said Todd Gitlin, a professor of journalism at Columbia University who wrote a book on Occupy. “ … the turning inward of energy was not constructive.”  
New York couple Betty and Dennis Carbone, former anti-war and anti-nuclear activists, still come once or twice a week to Zuccotti Park to maintain a presence at the birthplace of the movement. They are disappointed others haven't done the same.
“We were down here for the winter,” said Dennis Carbone, 69, as some protesters chanted, blew whistles and held up the familiar yellow-and-black banner reading, “Occupy Wall Street.” The barricade-lined park protesters once called home had security officers at entry points on Friday many months after the encampment came down.

John Makely / NBC News
Dennis and Elizabeth Carbone still come to Zuccotti Park a couple times a week.
“Everybody was all pumped up: ‘Wait till spring, wait till, wait till spring.’ Guess what? We’re in fall. No spring, no summer. What did we Occupy?” Carbone said. “That was probably the most disappointing … . And now, here we are what, one year, and what’s happened?”
Disillusion over the perception that things weren’t getting done led some protesters to create spinoff groups, such as OccuEvolve, which is focused on bringing more people into the movement and collaborating with the seven Occupy branches in New York city.
“I think a lot of people kind of naively thought … that things would automatically change and it takes work, it takes organization,” Sobukwe said.Unlike other Occupy demonstrators who plan to join the sit-down protest on Monday, those with OccuEvolve will be in the subways, hoping to attract newcomers.“I saw the stagnancy in the movement,” said Sumumba Sobukwe, 44, who started the group in February. Though he had previously been working with others on Occupy outreach and movement building, “even then, I didn’t see enough outreach into the community that represents the 99 percent." 
Other social movements have taken years to achieve results, such as the Civil Rights struggle, so Occupy should not be counted out, said Dorian Warren, an assistant professor of political science at Columbia University.
“The underlying social conditions that created the movement are far from over,” he said, citing money in politics, poverty and income disparity. “ … which means the potential for the movement to still exist is there.”
Sue VanDerzee, a 66-year-old retired newspaper editor from Durham, Conn., participated in Occupy Wall Street a few times and in a few Connecticut chapters, but she has turned her efforts to groups focusing more on local issues. She last visited an Occupy camp in March.
“I think that there’s other groups which sort of seek to reach people where they are and not so much out of a sense of anger but out of a sense of possibility,” she said.
When asked if she thought Occupy could carry on, she said: “As a movement, I’m not sure. As an idea, definitely. It’s embedded in our culture.”

John Makely / NBC News
Veteran James Hegler, center, was arrested Friday by NYPD officers at Zuccotti Park for trespassing after he refused to move his backpack for the private security firm that overseas the park on Friday Sept. 14.

Esam Omran Al-Fetori / Reuters
Demonstrators hold a message during a rally to condemn the killers of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and the attack on the U.S. consulate, in Benghazi on Wednesday.
Libyan authorities have made four arrests in the investigation into the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in which the U.S. ambassador and three embassy staff were killed, the deputy interior minister said on Thursday.
"Four men are in custody and we are interrogating them because they are suspected of helping instigate the events at the U.S. Consulate," Wanis Sharif told Reuters.
He gave no more details.
The United States and Libya has agreed to cooperate to find out who was responsible for the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in which the ambassador to the North African state and three other Americans died.
President Barack Obama and Libyan President Mohamed Magarief spoke on Wednesday evening and decided "to work closely over the course of this investigation," the White House said in a statement.

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TODAY's Matt Lauer speaks with security analyst Michael Leiter about the likelihood that the attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya was a pre-meditated act by a group of al-Qaida sympathizers rather than a spontaneous uprising over an anti-Muslim Internet video.
"The President made it clear that we must work together to do whatever is necessary to identify the perpetrators of this attack and bring them to justice," it added.Magarief "expressed appreciation for the cooperation we have received from the Libyan government and people in responding to this outrageous attack, and said that the Libyan government must continue to work with us to assure the security of our personnel going forward," the White House statement said.

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In Yemen, protesters breach the of the U.S. Embassy compound in the capital, Sanaa, as a wave of anti-American demonstrations sweeps across several Middle East nations. NBC's Richard Engel reports from Cairo.
U.S. and Libyan officials, independent analysts and postings on Islamist websites from known militant activists suggested that the attack — which officials had previously suggested was retaliation for release of a movie critical of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad — may have been a pre-planned, orchestrated assault.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith — a Foreign Service information management officer — and two other Americans, who have not yet been formally identified, were killed.

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A deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was staged by militants who set the building on fire. NBC's Richard Engel reports.
Destroyers sent to Libya coast
A U.S. official told Reuters that the U.S. military was moving two destroyers toward the Libyan coast, giving the Obama administration flexibility for any future action against Libyan targets.
The military is also dispatching a Marine Corps anti-terrorist security team to boost security in Libya, and Washington has ordered the evacuation of all U.S. personnel from Benghazi to Tripoli.
An unnamed senior U.S. official told the AFP news agency that U.S. officials suspected the attack on the consulate was a well-planned assault by militants rather than a rampaging mob.

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NBC's Richard Engel and Ambassador Marc Ginsberg discuss the latest in Libya and Egypt as protest continue outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
"That's the working hypothesis at the moment," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"This was a complex attack," he added. "They seemed to have used this (protest) as an opportunity."
Among the assailants, Libyans identified units of a heavily armed local Islamist group, Ansar al-Sharia, which sympathizes with al-Qaida and derides Libya's U.S.-backed bid for democracy.
Reuters cited U.S. officials as saying that there were reports from the region suggesting that members of al-Qaida's north Africa-based affiliate, known as Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, may have been involved.
On Wednesday, Obama vowed to catch those responsible for the attack and said he had ordered an increase in security at U.S. diplomatic posts around the globe following the assault.
"The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack," Obama said, while insisting it would not threaten relations with Libya's new government. ... And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people."

Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters
The U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed after protesters angry over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad stormed the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, as protests spread across the region.
Doctor tried to save ambassador's life
Ziad Abu Zaid, the duty doctor in the emergency room at Benghazi Medical Center on Tuesday, said Stevens was alive when he arrived at the hospital.
Stevens' body was later returned to U.S. custody at Benghazi airport, a senior U.S. official said. Images of Stevens, purportedly taken after he died, circulated on the Internet. One showed him being carried, with a white shirt pulled up and a cut on his forehead."He came in a state of cardiac arrest. I performed CPR for 45 minutes, but he died of asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation,” he said.
Smith died inside the consulate building and the two other Americans died when a squad of U.S. troops sent by helicopter from Tripoli to rescue the diplomats came under mortar attack, said Captain Fathi al-Obeidi, commander of a Libyan special operations unit ordered to meet the Americans.
"The protesters were running around the compound just looking for Americans, they just wanted to find an American so they could catch one," he told Reuters. "We started shooting at them, and then some other people also threw hand-made bombs over the fences and started the fires in the buildings."Witnesses said the mob at the consulate included tribesmen, militia and other gunmen. Hamam, a 17-year-old who took part in the attack, said Ansar al-Sharia cars arrived at the start of the protest but left once fighting started.
"There was some Libyan security for the embassy outside but when the hand-made bombs went off they ran off and left," he added.
Hamam said he saw an American die in front of him in the mayhem that ensued. He said the body was covered in ash. 
Reuters contributed to this report.

Fiscal cliff spending cuts: How Americans could be hit

@CNNMoney August 23, 2012: 11:04 AM ET

Cuts to Head Start could mean 96,000 fewer kids get help from programs that provide early childhood services to low-income families.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Layoffs and furloughs. Less help in school for disadvantaged kids. A reduction in immunizations and fewer meals for seniors in need.
Those are just a few examples of the damaging fallout that could occur if Congress does nothing to ward off the indiscriminate spending cuts scheduled for next year.
That's according to a recent report from Democrats on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, as well as the Social Security Administration.
The mostly across-the-board funding reductions for hundreds of federal programs is being triggered because Congress has yet to agree on amore thoughtful and gradual debt-reduction plan.
Among the conclusions in the subcommittee report: tens of thousands of workers could lose their jobs or see federal funding for their salaries reduced. Plus, millions of Americans could see various government services or assistance curtailed.
Details have yet to be finalized on the exact cuts that would occur, but the subcommittee estimates, for instance, that cuts to Head Start - which help organizations provide early childhood services to low-income families -- could result in a loss of more than 20,000 jobs and would serve 96,000 fewer kids.
More than 5 million fewer families could no longer benefit from the federal child care and development block grant, which helps low-income working families pay for child care and helps states improve their child care programs.
Cuts to Title 1, which helps finance schools and education agencies to prepare low-income kids to meet state academic standards -- could result in the loss of more than 15,000 jobs and serve 1.8 million fewer children.
Spending cuts could also result in a six-week furlough for 65,000 employees at the Social Security Administration and 15,000 employees at the State Disability Determination Services. Temporary hires could also be let go and the processing of disability claims could take an additional 70 days or so.
Federally funded HIV prevention could take a hit, with 659,000 fewer people tested for the virus. Nearly 212,000 kids might not get general immunization vaccines. And 17 million fewer meals would be served to seniors in need.
If cuts are made at the National Institutes of Health, the federal government would need to issue about 700 fewer grants to medical researchers than it awarded this year.
Over 1.2 million job seekers may no longer have access to federal employment assistance, because of cuts to a labor exchange system. That system helps disadvantaged people find jobs, and also serves middle- and high-skill workers who are unemployed for the first time and need assistance in understanding their local job market.
Jobless veterans could also feel the effects. The subcommittee estimates that reduced funding for a program that helps increase veterans' employment opportunities would result in 51,419 fewer vets being helped.
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August 15

Weekly Address: Carrying on the Work of Our Fallen Heroes

September 15, 2012 | 3:33 | Public Domain
President Obama speaks about the tragic loss of four of our fellow Americans who were serving in our diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. These Americans represented the best of our country; without people like them, we could not sustain our freedoms or security, or provide the leadership that the entire world depends on. During this time of turmoil in many different countries, the President makes it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths, but as Commander in Chief, he will never tolerate efforts to harm our fellow Americans and will ensure that those who attack our people find no escape from justice.

Polls: Obama holds the edge in Florida, Ohio and Virginia

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As chaos in the Middle East continues, President Obama and GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney are each trying to project strength on national security. NBCs Peter Alexander reports.
After two political conventions and heading into the post-Labor Day sprint, President Barack Obama leads Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the key battlegrounds of Florida, Ohio and Virginia, according to new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls of each of these three states. 
Click for poll results: Virginia | Ohio Florida (pdfs)
In Ohio, the president’s lead is seven points, 50 percent to 43 percent.In both Florida and Virginia, Obama is ahead of Romney by five points among likely voters (including those leaning toward a particular candidate), 49 percent to 44 percent.

Ed Andrieski / AP
President Barack Obama waves after speaking at a campaign rally in Golden, Colo., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012.
Among a larger pool of registered voters, Obama’s advantage over Romney slightly increases to 7 points in Virginia, 8 in Florida and 9 in Ohio.
“You’d rather be in Obama’s shoes than Romney’s in these three critical states,” Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, says of the poll results.
But he adds that Obama’s leads are not “insurmountable,” especially as the two candidates prepare for their first presidential debate on Oct. 3 in Colorado.

Charles Dharapak / AP
Mitt Romney embraces women wearing traditional Vietnamese "ao dai" dresses as he campaigns at Van Dyck Park in Fairfax, Va., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012.
These states – all of which Obama carried in 2008 but which George W. Bush won in 2004 – represent three of the most crucial battlegrounds in the 2012 presidential election. And according to NBC’s electoral map, Romney likely needs to capture at least two of these states, if not all three, to secure the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the presidency.
By comparison, Obama can reach 270 by winning just one or two of these battlegrounds  – on top of the other states already considered to be in his column.
(Obama also has an additional path to victory without any of these three states if he wins the toss-up contests of Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin.)
What’s particularly striking about these polls, Miringoff observes, is how most voters in these battleground states have already made up their minds, with just 5 to 6 percent saying they’re undecided, and with more than 80 percent signaling that they strongly support their candidate.
“Those who are thinking of voting have pretty much picked sides,” he says.

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The Romney campaign is on defense, facing criticism from within the Republican Party, and from President Barack Obama that the GOP presidential nominee politicized a foreign policy crisis. Romney campaign adviser Vin Weber discuses.
Economy vs. foreign policyIn Florida and Virginia, Obama and Romney are essentially tied among likely voters on the question of which candidate would do a better job handling the economy, although Obama has a four-point advantage on this question in Ohio.
But when it comes to handling foreign policy, the incumbent Democratic president enjoys a double-digit lead over his Republican challenger.
Also in the polls, Obama’s job-approval ratings – 50 percent in Ohio and 49 percent in Florida and Virginia – exactly match his ballot position against Romney in these states.
And in each of these three battlegrounds, a majority of likely voters say the country is on the wrong track, while more than 40 percent believe that it’s headed in the right direction.

Jason Reed / Reuters
First lady Michelle Obama visits with young children in after-school care at the Rappahannock Area YMCA in Spotsylvania, Va., on Sept. 13, 2012.
Looking at the Senate racesThe polls also measure the key U.S. Senate contests in these three states, all of which could determine the balance of power in that chamber.
In Florida, incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson leads Republican challenger Connie Mack among likely voters by double digits, 51 percent to 37 percent.
In Ohio, incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is ahead of GOP challenger Josh Mandel by seven points, 49 percent to 42 percent.
And in Virginia, Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen are tied at 46 percent each.
The NBC/WSJ/Marist polls of Florida, Ohio and Virginia were conducted from Sept. 9-11 of nearly 1,000 likely voters in each state (about 30 percent by cell phone), and they have a margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.

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The former Republican Florida governor explains his support for President Barack Obama but says he's not ready to declare himself a Democrat just yet.
A likely voter is determined based on interest in the upcoming election, the chance of voting, and prior participation in past elections.
More than 1,300 registered voters were surveyed in each of the three states, and the margin of error for those voters is plus-minus 2.7 percentage points.

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