Category Archives: Occupy Wall Street
The Federal Reserve Plans To Monitor Facebook, Twitter, Google News
BY NEAL UNGERLEIDERTue Oct 11, 2011
As Occupy Wall Street gains stream, the New York Federal Reserve Bank wants to know–for better or worse–how they are perceived. And they’re going to monitor social media to figure it out.
A vendor proposal request (or RFP) from the Fed, which describes a “Sentiment Analysis and Social Media Monitoring Solution,” surfaced on Scribd on September 25, and was quickly featured on gonzo finance blog Zero Hedge.
According to the document, the Fed is now evaluating bids for a social media analysis system that will mine data from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and web forums–beginning in December. In order to “handle crisis situations” and “track reach and spread of […] messages and press releases,” the project will also identify a number of what they call “key bloggers and influencers” to target with their outreach, and presumably monitoring, efforts.
A Federal Reserve Bank of New York spokesperson, Jack Gutt, told Fast Company:
“This is a new effort for the New York Fed that is under consideration at this time and I am therefore not able to provide any details. The reason for contemplating such an effort is to get a better sense of the relevant concerns and discussions that are taking place in the public domain in order to improve our communications and engagement with the public.”
Unfortunately for the Federal Reserve, they are facing a hostile climate in terms of public relations right now. Sluggish economic recovery efforts have increased public resentment of both the government and major investment houses. Big banks such as Bank of America drew ire for a decision to raise debit card fees, broadly. Meanwhile, the Occupy Wall Street movement–a kind of left-wing counterpoint to the Tea Party–is gaining large numbers of sympathizers with vociferous, if sometimes incoherent, anti-big business messages.
The Fed’s social media monitoring project appears to be large-scale. It shows the institution’s interest in much more than just the thoughts of a few financial bloggers and economists. In their RFP, they have requested that vendors offer a monitoring system that can handle international traffic and social media content in multiple languages–in other words, the Fed wants to monitor social media worldwide.
Apart from social media sources, the Federal Reserve also specifically named the Associated Press, CNN, Wall Street Journal, and Google News’ stable of aggregated content for in-depth content analysis. The Fed appears, judging from the bid proposal, to be especially interested in finding out if “there is an ongoing trend of negative sentiment in the financial industry” and in tracking public sentiment for specific keywords and companies or organizations.
While Zero Hedge writers justified Orwellian concerns about a quasi-governmental institution monitoring social media to gauge and influence citizen perception of the economy, similar projects have been going on for a long time.
High-level web and social media analytics are a staggering growth industry; private companies such as Google, Apple, and Procter & Gamble have monitoring schemes that would make any government agency green with jealousy. Fast Company recently reported on predictive analysis companies–who offer their high-level clients the ability to predict what customers want to see on company homepages–and on creepy/cool real-time analysis of customers’ habits at firms like eBay and Adobe. The Fed’s decision to monitor social media sentiment is, however you want to look at it, a natural extension of what’s happening in the private sector.
As the Fed goes, so does government in general. Social media monitoring has become a hot topic for government agencies and political candidates. With the 2012 election heating up, nearly all major political candidates have created impressive social media monitoring systems. Firms such as eCairn are promoting social media analysis solutions for the election and the Republican Party is focusing on social media in a big way. While the Federal Reserve’s plan to monitor social media might be considered creepy, it’s also the future.
Occupy Wall Street and Occupy the Fed Are Two Sides of the Same Coin
By Washington’s Blog
Global Research, October 10, 2011
The Occupy Wall Street protests are obviously targeting Wall Street, i.e. the giant banks.
The Occupy the Fed protests – led by Alex Jones, the Oathkeepers and other conservatives – are targeting the Federal Reserve.
While some are trying to weaken these two movements through a divide-and-conquer strategy, the truth is that they are two sides of the same coin.
Specifically, the corrupt, giant banks would never have gotten so big and powerful on their own. In a free market, the leaner banks with sounder business models would be growing, while the giants who made reckless speculative gambles would have gone bust. See this, this and this.
It is the Federal Reserve, Treasury and Congress who have repeatedly bailed out the big banks, ensured they make money at taxpayer expense, exempted them from standard accounting practices and thecriminal and fraud laws which govern the little guy, encouraged insane amounts of leverage, andenabled the too big to fail banks – through “moral hazard” – to become even more reckless.
Indeed, the government made them big in the first place. As I noted in 2009:
And given that the 12 Federal Reserve banks are private – see this, this and this – the giant banks have a huge amount of influence on what the Fed does. Indeed, the money-center banks in New York control the New York Fed, the most powerful Fed bank. Indeed, Jamie Dimon – the head of JP Morgan Chase – is a Director of the New York Fed.
Any attempt by the left to say that the free market is all bad and the government is all good is naive and counter-productive.
And any attempt by the right to say that we should leave the giant banks alone because that’s the free market are wrong.
The Federal Reserve and the giant banks are part of a single malignant, symbiotic relationship. Conservatives and liberals should unite in breaking up both.
* This is an over-simplification. In reality, many conservatives and people who would like to end the Fed are part of the Wall Street protests … and reining in the Fed is one of the central platforms of Occupy Wall Street.
US PROTEST SPREAD TO 287 CITIES !!
The “Occupy Wall Street” movement started its demonstrations about four weeks ago and it has continued gatherings until now.
As of Friday morning, the website “Occupy Together,” a hub for nationwide events in solidarity with “Occupy Wall Street” reported gatherings in 847 cities, Democracy Now reported.
On Thursday, activists kicked off the “October 2011″ protest by occupying Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC.
Demonstrators protest against corporatism, unemployment, poverty and social inequality among other things.
They blame Wall Street practices and corporate influence on White House policies for the deepening US economic crisis.
“We need to stop investing in privatization. We need to start worrying about the 99 percent of the population. We need to start investing our money into social welfare programs,” one protester said.
The members of the Occupy Wall Street movement have vowed to stay out through winter.
Protesters use the slogan “We are the 99 percent” to call attention to the fact that they are not part of the one percent of Americans in possession of the nation’s wealth.
David Weidner’s Writing on the Wall
Oct. 4, 2011, 4:54 p.m. EDT
Occupy Wall Street is this year’s tea party
Commentary: Protesters seek political process that doesn’t exclude them
By David Weidner, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — The revolution just might be televised, after all.
More than two weeks after a band of young people began camping out in the shadow of the New York Stock Exchange, the movement to remake America’s inequitable financial system is growing
It’s been called the Woodstock of Wall Street, but that’s hardly an apt comparison. The gathering at Max Yasgur’s farm 42 years ago was built on a generation looking for peace, love, some drugs and acid rock. The kids today are looking for real, tangible change of the capitalist sort. They’re organized, lucid and motivated. View MarketWatch Slide Show: Pictures of ‘Occupy Wall Street’ in action .
Demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street campaign hold signs aloft as a protest march enters the courtyard near the New York Police Department.
Actually, they have more in common with the tea-party movement than the hippie dream, with one key difference: They’re smart enough to recognize the nation’s problems aren’t simply about taxes and the deficit.
They want jobs. They want the generation in power to acknowledge them. They want political change. They want responsibility in a culture that abdicates it. They want a decent future of opportunity.
If that isn’t American, then what is?
Another key difference between today’s kids and their hippie forefathers: They’re willing to gut it out.
Not only is Occupy Wall Street showing no signs of dying out, but it’s getting stronger. On Sunday, a night of rain dampened the crowd at Zuccotti Park, but then the sun broke through, and they were back at it: challenging police, marching and drawing attention to their cause.
They’re wired and ready. They’re using YouTube and blogs. A newspaper, the Occupied Wall Street Journal, began publishing last week. They meet in the evenings in a “general assembly” to discuss tactics.
Moreover, there are signs the Left Coast wants to get into the action. On Sunday a group called Refund California announced a series of protests throughout Los Angeles. On Monday, a teach-in took place aimed at bringing awareness to how Wall Street has worsened California’s budget problems.
On Tuesday, Refund California is going to Orange County for a protest. On Wednesday, the group will target the home of a bank executive. And on Thursday a big bank in L.A. will be the next target. Protests in Chicago this weekend showed the message isn’t lost in flyover country.
Protest spreads to Chicago
Inspired by the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations in New York, some 100 people gathered Sunday outside the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago to protest inequities in the nation’s financial system.
This isn’t just some anarchist or lefty agitating. Many of the protesters are furious with the Obama administration’s kow-towing to Big Finance. They’re critical of Federal Reserve policies. Refund California is aligned with 1,000 faith-based groups.
Protesters are admonished for displaying the U.S. flag incorrectly. These protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful. And, despite what you hear, there’s been a lot of goodwill between the police and protesters. They’re sharing coffee and doughnuts in the morning.
Meanwhile, another group, Occupy Los Angeles, is organizing its own protests. This movement, though small compared with the New York effort, is slowly gathering steam. Back East, Occupy Boston is gaining momentum. Protests in the financial center of Dewey Square took place Monday.
The persistence is paying off. The media are beginning to pay attention. Local papers in New York have been running more Occupy Wall Street stories. All of the major networks are covering the protests now.
House is gone, but debt lives on
Forty-one states and the District of Columbia permit lenders to sue borrowers for mortgage debt still left after a foreclosure sale.
There are many more reporters on the scene, and the coverage has moved from the police confrontations to what these thousands of protesters want.
The press seems confused. There were signs about Afghanistan, taxes, Wall Street greed, corporate responsibility and just about every pet cause out there. But what some decry as a lack of focus is really about them not getting it: This movement is about money. It’s about wasting money. It’s about greed for money guiding those in power. It’s about the inequitable distribution of money.
Most of all, it’s about process. In a “general assembly” meeting Saturday, Occupy Wall Street came up with its first official document. It is a powerful summation of grievances, not just of the young, but of many Americans: home foreclosures, workers rights, Internet privacy, health care and bailouts.Read the declaration of Occupy Wall Street .
“No true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power,” the declaration states. “We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.”
The protesters urge others to join them in public spaces everywhere.
Occupy Wall Street is a bigger and more important movement than it was two weeks ago. As the country faces a year in which many of its major political offices could potentially shift hands, there finally seems to be a movement that reflects frustration with a system beholden to big financial interests.
Still, there’s much work to do. The movement needs to sharpen its message. It needs visible and well-spoken leadership and people to become active politically. Some have argued that the protesters need more concrete ideas, such as financial-transaction taxes or Wall Street reforms. Blanket anti-corporate statements aren’t actionable.
But for a generation accused of being lazy, unwilling to work and living under their parents’ roofs for far too long, these kids have shown a hell of a lot of mettle so far. The odds are still long, but they’ve succeeded in the first step.
They’ve gotten our attention.
7 Core Demands from the Occupy Wall Street Movement
I am writing this article to express my full support and solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protests that have been growing rapidly across the country. In typical fashion, the media first ignored the protests and have now been trying to marginalize the efforts by constantly stating that the protestors have no goals. To the contrary, there have been a number of General Assemblies and online polls where the people have been voting on which issues are most important and which specific demands rise to the top. This is a lesson in true Democracy, something that we haven’t seen on Capitol Hill in quite some time.
After all, the degree to which the politicians have been voting against the will of the people is insulting to the idea of a Democracy or Republic. It is clear to most Americans, if not the full 99%, that the government has been corrupted, bought off and is no longer working in the interest of the people they are supposed to be representing. This is one of main underlying grievances, which manifests in a Congressional approval rate at an all-time low of just 12%. But there are also specific demands that have been well articulated, despite the insistence of the mainstream media to the contrary. I’ve pulled from the various sources and distilled the list to what I believe should be the 7 core demands from the Occupy Wall Street movement:
1) End the Collusion Between Government and Large Corporations/Banks, So That Our Elected Leaders Are Actually Representing the Interests of the People (the 99%) and Not Just Their Rich Donors (the 1%).
This will involve sweeping campaign finance reform that would limit the contributions that come in from for-profit corporations or provide equal public funding for campaign finance. It will also involve limiting the size and scope of corporations, in order to reduce the power of the 1%, reduce monopolies in critical industries and ensure no bank or other corporation is ever “too big to fail.”
We should reverse the effects of the Citizens United Supreme Court Decision which essentially said corporations can spend as much as they want on elections. The result is that corporations can pretty much buy elections. Corporations should be highly limited in ability to contribute to political campaigns no matter what the election and no matter what the form of media.
2) Investigate Wall Street and Hold Senior Executives Accountable for the Destruction in Wealth that has Devastated Millions of People.
Financial fraud was very likely committed and those behind the curtain have gotten away with nothing but a slap on the wrist. We must remove the moral hazard that persists in the system and completely restructure the regulatory agencies so that they are no so easily manipulated. One common sense step would be to end the revolving door phenomenon, whereby the regulators quit their government jobs early in order to take jobs with the companies they were supposed to be regulating, resulting in a huge payoff for not enforcing the rules. Likewise, the people tasked at enforcing regulations should not be coming from the industries they will be regulating. The conflict of interest is obvious.
We must also liquidate both the public and private debt that has been growing out of control. Most of this debt was created out of thin air and is owed to banks with interest. The problem is that there is not enough money in existence to every repay the debt. The system was designed this way and serves to concentrate wealth in the hands of the bankers, as the rest of us scramble to pay them back, plus interest. Since the debts can never really be repaid (other than with Ponzi-scheme printing), the loan contracts were never entered into with good faith and the banks offered no consideration, the loan contracts are no valid and the debt must be forgiven and canceled.
3) Return the Power of Coining Money to the U.S. Treasury and Return to Sound Money
The founders understood the dangers of giving a small group of private bankers the authority to print the nation’s currency. The Constitution explicitly states:
Art. I Sec. 8 Cl. 5
[Congress shall have Power ... ] To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, …;
Art. I Sec. 10 Cl. 1
[No State shall ...] make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; …
The bankers found a way to subvert this law as was meticulously detailed in the book “Creature from Jekyll Island” by Edward Griffin. The top bankers in that day were aware of the power they would acquire as evidenced in this quote from Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild: “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes it’s laws.”
Giving private bankers the ability to print unlimited amounts of money out of thin air and engage in fractional-reserve lending has been one of the key underlying causes of our financial woes. It is responsible for the boom-bust cycles, inflation that has led to the U.S. dollar losing 95% of its value since the Federal Reserve was created, the control the banks now command over government and the increasing concentration of the world’s wealth and resources in the hands of fewer and fewer people. When the protests point out the gross imbalances, such as the top 1 percent of Americans possessing a greater collective net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent, their outrage ought to be directed at the head of the banking beast, the Federal Reserve. Accordingly, we should bring the FED under total control of the people, with absolute transparency of all of its actions. Furthermore, we need to return to sound money, whether it is gold or a basket of other finite commodities. This serves to restrain out of control government spending and reduce the hidden tax of inflation on the people. This “hidden tax” affects the poor and middle class the most.
4) Limit the Size, Scope and Power of Banks so that None are Ever Again “Too Big to Fail” and in Need to Taxpayer Bailouts
This means moving ahead with Basel III capital requirements, re-institution of Glass-Steagall and adopting the Volcker Rule to limit banks’ ability to engage in risky and speculative investments. Whether this is done via HR 1489 (“RETURN TO PRUDENT BANKING ACT”) or another way, it must accomplish the main objective stated above.
5) Eliminate “Personhood” Legal Status for Corporations
Revise the interpretation of the famous 1886 case where the U.S. Supreme Court supposedly ruled that corporations are “persons” having the same rights as human beings based on the 14th Amendment, which was intended to protect the rights of former slaves. As most lawyers know, the Supreme Court made no such decision. In the case in question – Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, the court itself never rules on personhood. A court reporter by the name of J.C. Bancroft Davis (a former railroad president) snuck that “ruling” into the books.
What most people don’t know is that after the above-mentioned 1886 decision, artificial persons were held to have exactly the same legal rights as we natural folk. (Not to mention the clear advantages corporations enjoy: they can be in several places at once, for instance, and at least in theory they’re immortal.) Up until the New Deal, many laws regulating corporations were struck down under the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment–in fact, that clause was invoked far more often on behalf of corporations than former slaves. Although the doctrine of personhood has been weakened since, even now lawyers argue that an attempt to sue a corporation for lying is an unconstitutional infringement on its First Amendment right to free speech. ( Nike v. Kasky.)
6) Repeal the Patriot Act, End the War on Drugs and Protect Civil Liberties
The constitution’s fourth amendment protects people and their property against “unreasonable search and seizure” without “probable cause”. The Patriot Act tossed the probable cause provision out the window. Now, if government agents want to read your mail, listen to your phone conversations, comb through your financial records or worse, they don’t need evidence or a search warrant; they need only say, “It’s for a terrorism investigation.” This draconian law was never about public safety. Americans’ constitutional liberties have been trashed for the war on drugs and war on terrorism.
7) End the Imperial Wars of Aggression, Bring the Troops Home from All Countries, Cut the Military Budget and Limit The Military Role to Protection of the Homeland
The two demands above are the key requests in order to reign in a government that has grown too large, cumbersome, bureaucratic and inefficient to serve the needs of the people.
This list is obviously not all-inclusive, but I think these demands should be the priority and focus for the Occupy Wall Street movement. Addressing these seven issues will also address many of the other demands that protestors are making regarding healthcare, education, independent media, the environment, equal rights, flash trading, jobs, taxes, term limits, trade agreements, capital punishment, nuclear disarmament, etc. All of these should be on the table and discussed, but we need to first remove the corruption from government and collusion with the corporate world/banks, before we give them additional power or ask them to act on our behalf.
Lastly, we need to consider the complete restructuring of our economic, political and social systems. Our current path is unsustainable and while the steps outlined above would be a giant step in the right direction, we need to start brainstorming new ideas such as The Zeitgeist Movement, The Venus Project and 2012: Time for Change.
If you want to have an immediate impact, please consider moving your money out of the big banks and to a local non-profit credit union. If the giants don’t have funding. They can not win.
But no matter how this movement evolves or where exactly it leads, I believe it is absolutely necessary at this critical juncture in history. I’ve been with you in cyberspace and will be joining you on the ground soon. Godspeed!
Let me leave you with one of the most inspiring and important speeches in recorded history, given by Charlie Chaplin.