Tuesday, January 31, 2012

NASA Releases "Most Amazing High-Definition"
Photo of Earth, from Space

Earlier this week NASA released a so-called 'Blue Marble' image of Earth captured by the VIIRS instrument on NASA's most recently launched Earth-observing satellite, the Suomi NPP. The composite image above "uses a number of swaths of the Earth's surface taken on January 4, 2012." Larger sizes here (hello, new computer desktop image!)

Thanks to Xeni at BoingBoing

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Bit More From the Sundance Film Festival

Here's a short clip of the panel I moderated, as well as a great clip of Peralta and some of the Bones Brigade talking about thier film.

Rodney and Lance are fucking HEROES!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Have Yourself a "Soul Train" Sunday

From DangerousMinds:


And why the hell not? Here are some classic clips from Soul Train that are guaranteed to make you feel good, and maybe even get up and shake your ass!

You know, with all the Seventies-related posts here on DM, it’s good to remember that the decade was not all about white boys with guitars (though some of the clips below are from the early 80s too). These dancers are hot as hell - without resorting to showing acres of flesh - and isn’t it nice to see people actually interacting with each other when they dance.

Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes “Bad Luck”

Kool & The Gang “Jungle Boogie”
(this clip is one of the coolest things I have ever seen)

Rufus & Chaka Khan “Once You Get Started”
(featuring lots of bumping)

Marvin Gaye “Got To Give It Up (Parts 1 & 2)
(in part 2 Marvin joins the audience for some groovin’)

Trussell “Love Injection”
(moving into the 80s with a boogie classic)

Yellow Magic Orchestra “Firecracker”
(two different cultures in perfect tandem)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Media Controlled Conspiracy Theory Rock - SNL Banned episode

A Banned Segment from Saturday Night Live

The 1998 Robert Smigel animated short film "Conspiracy Theory Rock", part of a March 1998 "TV Funhouse" segment, has been removed from all subsequent airings of the Saturday Night Live episode where it originally appeared. Michaels' claimed the edit was done because it "wasn't funny". The film is a scathing critique of corporate media ownership, including NBC's ownership by General Electric/Westinghouse.
from NaturalNews.TV

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Is Our World Becoming Less Violent?"

Shocker: Is Our World Becoming Less Violent?
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Humanity's lust for violence has undergone a long, precipitous decline at every level of social interaction, from domestic abuse to violent crime to interstate wars. That's the sweeping and somewhat counterintuitive thesis of psychologist Steven Pinker's new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. The pacification of humanity, says Pinker, is “a fractal phenomenon, visible at the scale of millennia, centuries, decades, and years.”

Pinker writes that the “very idea invites skepticism, incredulity and sometimes anger.” He sets out to overcome that barrier by surveying a broad swath of data, from examinations of ancient bones unearthed in peat bogs and on long-forgotten battlefields, to homicide statistics based on European coroners' inquests and local records dating back 800 years, to databases of modern interstate conflicts and civil wars.

Does Pinker's research validate his thesis? And if so, what forces might explain such a profound shift in human society?

Are We Really Less Violent Today?

Pinker makes his case by combing dozens of disparate datasets to pull out what he proposes is a standard measure of our tendency toward violence: the likelihood of dying at the hand of another human being in a given year. In the long sweep of human history, he makes a compelling case, noting that almost 20 percent of bones uncovered at archaeological excavations of prehistoric societies show evidence of violent trauma – a death rate unparalleled in even the bloodiest episodes in recent history.

With the emergence of the city-state – first in pre-Columbian Mexico in the 15th century -- the rate of violent death declines precipitously, to 5 percent. Wandering closer to modernity, Pinker cites estimates of war deaths (excluding violent crime) in the two most violent regions and centuries of the era of the nation-state: 17th century Europe, “with its bloody wars of religion,” and the 20th century, with its two world wars. Historian Quincy Wright estimated the 17th century death-rate by war at 2 percent, and estimates of that measure in the 20th century run as “low” as 1 percent.

He cites criminologist Manuel Eisner's study of homicides in Europe dating back to 1200 CE, which illsutrated an equally dramatic decline in one-on-one violence, at least on the continent. Eisner estimates that during the Middle Ages, about 100 in 100,000 people were murdered, a figure that has fallen to around 1 in 100,000 today.

That's but a small a fraction of the research Pinker cites, devoting six chapters brimming with graphics and charts to make his case. Yet, as with any thesis spanning the entire history of human existence planet-wide, Pinker ultimately runs into an empirical wall; there isn't sufficient data to justify the claim that violence has fallen precipitously in every culture and at every level of human interaction throughout history. A comprehensive database of violent deaths worldwide for the 20th century, much less for the 11th, simply does not exist.

Elizabeth Kolbert, reviewing the book for the New Yorker ($$), unfairly charges that “Pinker’s attention is almost entirely confined to Western Europe.” He examines what research is available from a host of societies at different points in history, but he does devote an inordinate amount of space to the decline in violence in the “West,” and in the era of the nation-state, and one might imagine that to be a result of where the best data are to be found.

One also has to question the rigor behind Pinker's contention on the interpersonal level. He can demonstrate that corporal punishment has declined in schools around the world, and show that violent crime has seen a dramatic, decades-long fall in the West, but what about the kind of violence that isn't tracked by governments with any consistency? Has there really been a consistent and global decline in drunken men punching one another in the face? Have we really become more tame at every level of intercourse, and is it really a “fractal” phenomenon that holds true “at the scale of millennia, centuries, decades, and years”?

Pinker himself acknowledges that the decline of violence does not track in a straight line, that it is a historical current with “eddies” of increased violence at various times and in various regions. He notes, for example, that the homicide rate in the United States didn't decline at all in the 20th century; rather it oscillated, rising during the first three decades, falling precipitously by mid-century and then spiking to a high in the 1980s before coming back down to what it was in 1900. (According to the Associated Press, in 2010, homicide fell off of the list of the top 15 causes of death in the United States for the first time since 1965, bumped by an unenviable death by choking on one's food or vomitus.)

But while Pinker doesn't present a slam-dunk, irrefutable case, one might conclude that he's a victim of his own ambition. The sheer weight of his data suggests that his thesis is correct when it comes to the big picture. The historical transition from bands of hunter-gatherers to agricultural societies that formed the basis of city-states to the emergence of early feudal states and finally the birth of the modern nation-state does correlate rather neatly with a precipitous decline in intra- and inter-communal violence.

Bringing Forth the 'Better Angels of Our Nature'

This leads to a question of why, as Pinker puts it, it has become a cliché that “the twentieth century was the bloodiest in history”? He attributes this widespread belief to “historical amnesia,” a cognitive tendency to “overweight the conflicts that are most recent, most studied or most sermonized.” He demonstrated this by asking 100 people (presumably Americans) to write down as many wars as they could recall in five minutes, an exercise that produced results that were heavily “weighted toward the world wars, wars fought by the United States and wars close to the present.”

We also tend to believe the 20th century to be the most violent because of advances in the technology of destruction. It is only in recent history that we have had the capacity to incinerate 80,000 people in an instant in Hiroshima, and many millions with modern nuclear ICBMs. The overall number of war-deaths in the last century did represent a historic high. But here, again, we have to return to Pinker's unifying metric of violence: violent death proportional to the entire population. There were many more humans walking the planet in the 20th century than there were in the eighth century.

When Pinker adjusts for population size, it becomes clear that the two world wars that marked the crescendo of interstate violence in absolute numbers were anything but exceptional in relative terms. About 15 million people perished during World War I, and 55 million more died in World War II. But the Mongol invasions of the 13th century resulted in an estimated 40 million war deaths, a figure that would represent 278 million people relative to the human population in the middle of the 20th century. In China, the Lushan Rebellion killed 36 million people in the eighth century, a death toll that would total 429 million -- or six times the combined carnage of the two world wars -- relative to the human population during World War II.

Pinker is on his most solid ground arguing that we hold an idealized view of an earlier, more tranquil era in human history. He explicates, often in gruesome detail, the bloody history of human society prior to the age of enlightenment (to which we'll return presently). That long epoch played out against “a backdrop of violence that was endured, and often embraced, in ways that startle the sensibilities of a 21st century Westerner.”

Indeed, we recoil at the idea of civilian casualties -- “collateral damage” -- incurred during conflicts today, but in Biblical times, genocidal wars that wiped entire populations off the earth were a relatively common “extension of policy by other means,” as the military theorist Karl von Clausewitz put it.

Tales of torture by authoritarian regimes shock the conscience today, but the most gruesome forms of torture weren't only routine in the Middle Ages, they were often a source of entertainment – people laughed at the degradation and abuse of their fellow humans. That rulers weren't free to slaughter their own citizens is only a relatively recent concept; that communal lynching is abhorrent an even more recent advent. And today, humans' revulsion to physical violence extends not only to other humans, but to animals as well. Pinker takes readers on a horrifying tour of the unvarnished history of violence, pausing to point out sites like human sacrifice, inquisitions and witch-hunts along the way.

In prehistoric societies, hunter-gatherers lived lives of almost constant tribal warfare. Bands raided their neighbors for three primary reasons, Pinker argues, and these grounds persist in some form in modern conflicts: attacks inspired by competition for scarce resources; preemptive strikes, out of fear that a group would be raided if it didn't move first; and raids to avenge past attacks in the hope of deterring future aggression.

It is when he explicates this long and profound decline in organized violence over a larger scale of human history – spanning millennia rather than decades – that Pinker is most convincing. Which leads to the question of what we might credit for the decline – what it is precisely that brought forth the “better angels of our nature.” Pinker offers several possible explanations for what he calls a long “civilizing process.”

First and foremost is the emergence of the nation-state. Pinker argues that the constant raiding that marked hunter-gatherer societies validated the enlightenment philosopher Thomas Hobbes' view of humanity in a state of nature – a world in which life was typically “nasty, brutish and short.” In Hobbes' formulation, the state serves as an all-powerful “leviathan” that holds a monopoly on the legal use of violence, and, in turn, defuses the primary motives for inter-communal violence: it deters aggressive attacks for resources, which in turn lessens the need for preemptive attacks as well as the urge to avenge every slight as a form of deterrence.

Pinker cites a study of 27 non-state societies and compared their average death rate due to wars with that of one of the most violent states in history, the Aztec Empire of Central Mexico, and found that those living in the average non-state society were twice as likely to perish in battle. Although the data is somewhat limited, he demonstrates that the same holds true in terms of homicides.

But the emergence of states isn't enough to explain the decline. In their earliest iteration, states were feudal fiefdoms and fractured monarchies under despotic rule. Leaders thought of their subjects as little more than cannon-fodder, materiel to be exchanged for glory, God or territory. “The first leviathans,” writes Pinker, “solved one problem but created another. [People] were less likely to become the victims of homicide or casualties of war, but they were now under the thumbs of tyrants, clerics and kleptocrats.” Solving this problem, he argues, would “have to wait another few millennia, and in much of the world it remains unsolved to this day.”

Pinker puts a great deal of weight on the Enlightenment period in his civilizing process. Exhausted by almost three centuries of gruesome religious wars, Western thinkers underwent an “intellectual and moral change: a shift from valuing souls to valuing lives.” Pinker notes that while territory and “dynastic power” were at stake, “religious differences kept tempers at a fever pitch” in Europe between the early 16th century and the mid-17th century. It was an era in which the whole schema of human society underwent dramatic changes in a relatively short period. “The calming of religious fervor meant that wars were no longer inflamed with eschatological meaning, so leaders could cut deals rather than fight to the last man,” writes Pinker. “Popular writers were deconstructing honor, equating war with murder, ridiculing Europe's history of violence, and taking the viewpoints of soldiers and conquered peoples.”

It was during the Enlightenment that, “in the span of just over a century, cruel practices that had been a part of civilization for millennia were suddenly abolished.”
The Killing of witches, the torture of prisoners, the persecution of heretics, the execution of non-conformers, and the enslavement of foreigners – all carried out with stomach-turning cruelty – quickly passed from the unexceptional to the unthinkable.
This was one of two “human rights revolutions” -- the other being the post-World War II advances in international law that followed the Nuremberg Tribunals and culminated in the signing of the United Nations' treaty. That process has continued into this century with a shift from an unwavering emphasis on state sovereignty – with the “right” of governments to manage their own domestic affairs as they see fit -- to what has come to be known as the international community's “responsibility to protect” the lives of innocents.

Another factor contributing to the decline of violence, Pinker argues, is that technology, and the emergence of the modern nation-state, enabled a dramatic increase in “non-zero-sum” transactions between different communities and states. Commercial trade, specifically, has been seen as a disincentive to violence since Immanuel Kant wrote Perpetual Peace: a Philosophical Sketch in the late 18th century.

Pinker also cites a theory proposed by philosopher Peter Singer in his book The Expanding Circle. Singer suggests that human beings have an inherent capacity for empathy; that the ability to identify and cooperate with others conferred an evolutionary advantage on early homo sapiens. But that empathy was, throughout much of our history, limited to a small circle of people: the extended family, the clan. Those residing outside of the circle have often been seen as less than human, and treated accordingly. But with the decline in violence, that circle of humans whose lives we deem worthy of our respect (Pinker says it should be called the “circle of sympathy”) has expanded, from the village to the tribe to the nation-state. And it has continued to expand to people of different ethnicities and religions and sexual orientations, to those who were once dispatched with impunity. (Singer deploys this theory in service of an argument for according the same rights to other sentient species.)

Why that circle has expanded is unclear. Pinker writes that he uses the “expanding circle” as “a name for the historical process in which increased opportunities for perspective-taking led to sympathy for more diverse groups of people.” He cites the advent of the printing press and popularization of the novel, a medium that allowed people to imagine themselves inside the heads of other people for the first time. He posits that advances in personal hygiene made others less repulsive, and therefore harder to see as subhuman. And as economic development and scientific advances extended human life, it simply became dearer, and more valuable. When life really was “nasty, brutish and short,” it was far easier to take a life without remorse.

More recently, Pinker talks about the role played by women entering the public sphere. For him, the “feminization” of society isn't a cultural problem, but a profound public good. “Historically,” he writes, “women have taken the leadership in pacifist and humanitarian movements out of proportion to their influence in other political institutions...and recent decades, in which women and their interests have had an unprecedented influence in all walks of life, are also the decades in which wars between developed states became increasingly unthinkable.”

Having marshaled his evidence, Pinker turns in his final chapter to the question of whether the decline in violence is a phenomenon that is likely to persist. Pinker considers himself a cautious optimist, but is not a historical determinist. “Optimism,” he writes, requires a touch of arrogance, as it extrapolates the past to an uncertain future.”

Having identified “the broad forces that have pushed violence downward,” he can only say that humanity's increasing distaste for blood is “a product of social, cultural and material conditions. If the conditions persist, violence will remain low or decline even further; if they don't, it won't.”

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America. Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Why vegans were right all along"
- The Guardian (UK) explains

from The Guardian, on Chistmas Eve 2002
Famine can only be avoided if the rich give up meat, fish and dairy

by George Monbiot

The Christians stole the winter solstice from the pagans, and capitalism stole it from the Christians. But one feature of the celebrations has remained unchanged: the consumption of vast quantities of meat. The practice used to make sense. Livestock slaughtered in the autumn, before the grass ran out, would be about to decay, and fat-starved people would have to survive a further three months. Today we face the opposite problem: we spend the next three months trying to work it off.
Our seasonal excesses would be perfectly sustainable, if we weren't doing the same thing every other week of the year. But, because of the rich world's disproportionate purchasing power, many of us can feast every day. And this would also be fine, if we did not live in a finite world.

By comparison to most of the animals we eat, turkeys are relatively efficient converters: they produce about three times as much meat per pound of grain as feedlot cattle. But there are still plenty of reasons to feel uncomfortable about eating them. Most are reared in darkness, so tightly packed that they can scarcely move. Their beaks are removed with a hot knife to prevent them from hurting each other. As Christmas approaches, they become so heavy that their hips buckle. When you see the inside of a turkey broilerhouse, you begin to entertain grave doubts about European civilisation.

This is one of the reasons why many people have returned to eating red meat at Christmas. Beef cattle appear to be happier animals. But the improvement in animal welfare is offset by the loss in human welfare. The world produces enough food for its people and its livestock, though (largely because they are so poor) some 800 million are malnourished. But as the population rises, structural global famine will be avoided only if the rich start to eat less meat. The number of farm animals on earth has risen fivefold since 1950: humans are now outnumbered three to one. Livestock already consume half the world's grain, and their numbers are still growing almost exponentially.

This is why biotechnology - whose promoters claim that it will feed the world - has been deployed to produce not food but feed: it allows farmers to switch from grains which keep people alive to the production of more lucrative crops for livestock. Within as little as 10 years, the world will be faced with a choice: arable farming either continues to feed the world's animals or it continues to feed the world's people. It cannot do both.

The impending crisis will be accelerated by the depletion of both phosphate fertiliser and the water used to grow crops. Every kilogram of beef we consume, according to research by the agronomists David Pimental and Robert Goodland, requires around 100,000 litres of water. Aquifers are beginning the run dry all over the world, largely because of abstraction by farmers.

Many of those who have begun to understand the finity of global grain production have responded by becoming vegetarians. But vegetarians who continue to consume milk and eggs scarcely reduce their impact on the ecosystem. The conversion efficiency of dairy and egg production is generally better than meat rearing, but even if everyone who now eats beef were to eat cheese instead, this would merely delay the global famine. As both dairy cattle and poultry are often fed with fishmeal (which means that no one can claim to eat cheese but not fish), it might, in one respect, even accelerate it. The shift would be accompanied too by a massive deterioration in animal welfare: with the possible exception of intensively reared broilers and pigs, battery chickens and dairy cows are the farm animals which appear to suffer most.

We could eat pheasants, many of which are dumped in landfill after they've been shot, and whose price, at this time of the year, falls to around £2 a bird, but most people would feel uncomfortable about subsidising the bloodlust of brandy-soaked hoorays. Eating pheasants, which are also fed on grain, is sustainable only up to the point at which demand meets supply. We can eat fish, but only if we are prepared to contribute to the collapse of marine ecosystems and - as the European fleet plunders the seas off West Africa - the starvation of some of the hungriest people on earth. It's impossible to avoid the conclusion that the only sustainable and socially just option is for the inhabitants of the rich world to become, like most of the earth's people, broadly vegan, eating meat only on special occasions like Christmas.

As a meat-eater, I've long found it convenient to categorise veganism as a response to animal suffering or a health fad. But, faced with these figures, it now seems plain that it's the only ethical response to what is arguably the world's most urgent social justice issue. We stuff ourselves, and the poor get stuffed.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

Saturday at Sundance - Not to Miss!

This Saturday at 9:30am I will be moderating a panel at the "Cinema Cafe" in Park City Utah with old friends Stacy Peralta and Ice-T.

As part of the Sundance Film festival. Stacy will be premiering his new BONES BRIGADE: A Biography and Ice-T will be making his directorial debut with Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap - I'll be at both of these premiere screenings later the same day. Should be cool.

check the current very rough trailer clips:
(neither of which do the films any justice at all, but at least you get a taste)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

SOUL TRAIN - the Doc

Original discription from VH1 site:

Few television series were as innovative and influential as Soul Train. Set first in Chicago, and later in Los Angeles, the Soul Train dance party reached national significance and became the longest running syndicated show in television history. In commemoration of its 40th anniversary, Soul Train: The Hippest Trip In America is a 90 minute documentary celebrating the show's many contributions to pop culture, music, dance and fashion. From 1970-2006 the series offered a window into the history of Black music, and its charismatic host, Don Cornelius was The Man responsible for a new era in Black expression. A trained journalist, Don created a media empire that provided an outlet for record labels and advertisers to reach a new generation of music fans. As the epitome of cool, many of his expressions entered the popular American lexicon: "A groove that will make you move real smooth," "Wishing you Peace, Love and Soul!" The documentary will feature performances and great moments from the show, as well as behind-the-scene stories and memories from the cast and crew. In addition, popular musicians, comics and actors of yesterday and today will comment on growing up with the show and will share their stories of how Soul Train affected their own lives.

Thanks, Aaron!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Call your elected officials.
Tell them you are their constituent, and you oppose SOPA and PIPA.

SOPA and PIPA cripple the free and open internet. They put the onus on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the blocking of entire sites, even if the links are not to infringing material. Small sites will not have the sufficient resources to mount a legal challenge. Without opposition, large media companies may seek to cut off funding sources for small competing foreign sites, even if big media are wrong. Foreign sites will be blacklisted, which means they won't show up in major search engines.

In a post SOPA/PIPA world, Wikipedia --and many other useful informational sites-- cannot survive in a world where politicians regulate the Internet based on the influence of big money in Washington. It represents a framework for future restrictions and suppression. Congress says it's trying to protect the rights of copyright owners, but the "cure" that SOPA and PIPA represent is much more destructive than the disease they are trying to fix.

If you'd like to learn even more about SOPA/PIPA, click here.

and click here for even more info!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Occupy Comix: Inaugural Issue! Vol. 1, Is. 1

Occupy Comix was born in the stage of Occupy Wall Street. Occupy Comix is being launched to bring you the anecdotes, glimpses, pictures and critical stories and dreams of struggle occurring all around us. This issue is the first of what will hopefully be a free bi-monthly illustrated publication chronicling the lives and issues of the 99%. We believe that artists and writers can help transform our world, to build a new Mythos of Hope. Let us know what you think.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

sorry i have no idea who took this...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

#J15 Worldwide Candlelight Vigil for Unity

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday

January 15th, 2012 @ 7:00pm in Each Time Zone Globally

Via J15global.com: On his birthday and in the spirit of Dr. King's vision for racial and economic equality, peace, and non-violence, we are holding candlelight vigils to unite our world in a global movement for systemic change.

Wherever we may be, whether in our homes, in city squares, online, Occupies, or at work, we lift a beautiful message high above the political dialogue. We light the dream of a more equitable world in our hearts. We can overcome!

Dr. King said "A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and say: 'This is not just.' "

Vigils are being organized around the world -- from California to Cairo, New York to New Orleans, Germany to Nova Scotia. Pete Seeger, K'naan, Ramy Essam, Sol Guy, Joan Baez, Steve Earle and many more have committed their support.

We gather to empower a great and global dream, a dream we have all dreamt of for thousands of years. We will sing, because freedom songs are the soul of the movement.. Together, we will make the dream a reality.

Help turn this moment into a world-wide wave of light:

Like our Facebook page and share with your friends.
Follow @J15global on Twitter.
Call a friend and make a plan to light a candle together.
Organize a vigil on your block or in your town.
Return to Facebook to post your ideas and see what others are planning.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Zuccotti (Liberty) Park is re-opened...

Take a listen, watch an hear the first moments after the barricades were removed due to a lawsuit brought by the New York division of the ACLU.

Tim Pool speaks with our friend Justin Wedes who brings you all up to date on what's going down at #OWS

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hot Wheels, Mother Fucker!

This really is best viewed full screen...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

4 Creepy Ways Big Pharma Peddles its Drugs

from AlterNet
By Martha Rosenberg

It's no secret that advertising works. Big Pharma wouldn't spend over $4 billion a year on direct-to-consumer advertising if it didn't mean massive profits.

What is more unknown is why drug ads that sow hypochondria, raise health fears and "sell" diseases are often the most common--and effective--even when the drugs themselves are of questionable safety.

The nation's fourth most frequent drug ads in 2009 for were Cymbalta, making Eli Lilly $3.1 billion in one year, despite the antidepressant's links to liver problems and suicide. Pfizer spent $157 million advertising Lyrica for fibromyalgia in 2009, despite the seizure pill's links to life-threatening allergic reactions. The same year, it spent $107 million advertising the antidepressant Pristiq, even though it also had links to liver problems.

So, how does Pharma dupe us into using unsafe drugs? Today's drug ads, targeted directly to consumers since 1999, seem like they sell diseases and often cast women, children, the elderly and mentally ill in a bad light. But a quick look at ads before direct-to-consumer advertising (DTC) in medical journals shows that drug ads have always done so. It's just that patients didn't used to see them.

Here are some of Pharma's most offensive ad campaigns, then and now.

1. You're Sicker Than You Think

When psychiatric drugs first became popular for use in the general population, in the late 1960s, everyday personality problems became imbued with psychiatric labels. "Lady, your anxiety is showing (over a coexisting depression)," says a 1970 ad, showing an older, wrinkly woman in a bouffant wig with gigantic sunglasses and garish jewelry. "On the visible level, this middle-aged patient dresses to look too young, exhibits a tense, continuous smile and may have bitten nails or overplucked eyebrows," says the ad copy. "What doesn't show as clearly is the coexisting depression."

The ad, both sexist and ageist, suggests the woman needs the antidepressant and tranquillizer Triavil.

Another ad from 1968 shows a bored, upper-middle-class couple whose hauteur is also said to really be depression. "Do you have patients who try to hide frustration behind conformity?" says the ad for the antidepressant Aventyl HCl.

You'd think such demeaning ads would vanish with DTC advertising because people would be offended. But You're Sicker-Than-You-Think ads are alive and well since DTC advertising and even flowering.

A three-page consumer ad in the late 2000s similarly conveys that everyday psychological traits could actually be dire mental problems that require medication. If you are "talking too fast," "spending out of control," "sleeping less," "flying off the handle" and "buying things you don't need," you could be suffering from bipolar disorder said the ads, which appeared in magazines like People. And here you thought it was the coffee. Accompanying photos of a woman screaming into a phone and contorting her face are so extreme they could come out of the movie Halloween Part II, if the woman were holding a knife.

Psychiatric drugs are not just advertised for everyday personality problems. Pharma is pushing them for everyday pain conditions. Eli Lilly's original depression campaign for the antidepressant Cymbalta, "Depression Hurts," seems to anticipate its subsequent approval for pain conditions including back problems. Now ads tout Cymbalta as a "non-narcotic, once daily analgesic FDA approved for three indications across four different chronic pain conditions," as if it does not have severe controversial psychiatric risks including the suicide of volunteers who tested it.

And seizure and epilepsy drugs, known for major allergic and psychiatric reactions, are also becoming pain franchises. "What's causing your chronic widespread muscle pain?" asks an ad for the seizure and epilepsy drug Lyrica. "The answer may be overactive nerves," says the ad, even though "widespread muscle pain" and "over-active nerves," are not mentioned in the approved labeling for Lyrica, says pharmaceutical reporter John Mack. The military spent $35 million on seizure and epilepsy drugs in 2009 alone, including for migraines, headaches and pain.

And speaking of overkill, ads for genetically engineered injected drugs like Humira, approved to treat serious diseases like Crohn's disease, psoriatic arthritis and chronic plaque psoriasis look like they are designed to sell beer or beauty treatments, not immune suppressing drugs that invite cancers and lethal infections.

DTC ads don't just escalate everyday problems into psychiatric problems, they also escalate real psychiatric problems into irresponsible, sensationalistic stereotypes. Ads for the best-selling antipsychotic Risperdal, widely used in children, and in soldiers with PTSD, suggest that people with mental illness have hallucinatory fears about "boiling rain" and "dog women." The "dog woman" ad, showing a half-dog, half-woman crouched on her elbows, her eyes blackened, furthers the sensationalizing of mental illness with the tagline, "Because relapses are a living nightmare."

2. Your Kid Is Sick

DTC ads don't just convince people they're in need of new drugs, but also that their kids may be, too. And it's been going on for decades.

Long before Pharma convinced parents, teachers and clinicians that millions of US kids had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), kids were said to suffer from "minimal brain dysfunction" (MBD) and "hyperkinesis," two conditions that were essentially the same as ADHD. In fact, so many kids had MBD by 1976 that an ad for the drug Cylert hailed the "Importance of single daily dose to the child, the parents and the teacher," because kids wouldn't have to be singled out anymore at pill time at school. (ADHD has been so huckstered, a YMCA ad spoofs it with the headline, "Before video games, before Facebook, before Ritalin, there was basketball.")

Yet neither Cylert--whose approval the FDA withdrew in 2005 because of liver failure and deaths--or the current ADHD drugs are safe. In 2009, researchers reported that kids are more likely to die sudden deaths while taking them and the American Heart Association recommends electrocardiograms (ECGs) before kids take them. And yet, combined sales of ADHD drugs continue to grow from $4.05 billion to $7.42 billion in 2010.

Thirty years ago, it certainly looked like kids were being overmedicated. They were given the antipsychotic Thorazine for their "hyperactivity," "hostility," sleep problems and even for vomiting. Picky eaters and kids who wet the bed were given tranquillizers. Kids with tics, stuttering and school phobia were given the tranquillizer Miltown.

But today, ads promoting drugs for kids continue, and now they are aimed at parents. Sometimes, it's hard to tell the difference between ads for drugs or ads for sugary cereals! Pharma tells moms to give their kids the bubble gum-flavored ADHD med, LiquADD and the grape-flavored ADHD med, Methylin. The latter campaign, to parents, is "Give 'em the GRAPE!"

DTC advertising has also convinced parents their kids suffer from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) otherwise known as acid reflux disease, which was barely a disease in adults much less kids, before consumer advertising. "GERD Can Be a Big Problem for Little Kids," say award-winning ads for Prevacid, which won a "RX Club" Silver award in 2004. In Europe, kids are treated for another "adult disease" and given chewable Liptitor to lower their cholesterol.

Some of Pharma's most aggressive advertising has been designed to convince parents their children's minor sniffles or wheezing are imminent asthma and require immediate and expensive drugs. To make the asthma drug Singulair (which also comes in a yummy chewable), the seventh most popular drug in 2010, Merck inked partnerships with the American Academy of Pediatrics and Scholastic, both of which parents consider neutral organizations and not Pharma mouthpieces. Merck also partnered with Olympic gold-medalist swimmer Peter Vanderkaay and NBA kid clubs to sell the asthma drug.

"A kid who's got what your kid's got is out doing what your kid's not," says one Singulair ad campaign. "Find out how you can help your child breathe a little easier."

If Singulair were not harmful, the huckstering would simply be a case of wasting money and overmedicating kids. But Singulair has been linked to both pediatric suicide and to emotional, behavioral and ADHD-like symptoms in kids, the latter likely inspiring parents to give their kids "the grape."

Of course, another kid-targeted campaign is for the vaccine against the sexually transmitted Papillomavirus or HPV, immortalized by Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann in hot exchanges this fall. Many object to the sexualizing of 9-year-olds, to government lining Pharma's pockets by promoting the vaccine (including overseas) and to the risks of the vaccines themselves. But the ads for Gardasil and Cervarix are also offensive.

Last spring, poster-sized ads for Gardasil on Chicago's commuter trains pretended to sell real estate in sought-after neighborhoods. A closer look revealed descriptions of women in those neighborhoods who thought they didn't need the HPV vaccine but did, positioning HPV not only as a general risk to the population, like flu, rather than an STD but as "hip."

HPV vaccine ads got even cooler when GSK rolled out Cervarix extravaganza TV ads and its "armed against cervical cancer" campaign with an Angelina Jolie-like model displaying a skinny arm with a Cervarix tattoo.

3. Be Like Me, and Can Your Beer Do This?

Prescription drugs may affect health, but they are still consumer products sold with the same marketing principles as toothpaste or beer. In fact, the wacky, "Can Your Beer Do This?" Miller Lite campaign of the 1990s, came back to life to sell the antidepressant Wellbutrin XR. In a glossy, color magazine ad, a young man rows his girlfriend on a scenic lake and lists the benefits of his Wellbutrin XR. "Can your medicine do all that?" he asks.

What does it say about the success of DTC advertising that people are assumed to have an antidepressant?

Experiential ads also sell prescription drugs like vintage ads for the "Kodak Moment," "Maalox Moment" and the old cigarette ads for the "L&M Moment" did. "Lunesta Sleep. Have You Tried it?" asks a 2007 ad in Parade magazine, elevating the experience to something akin to "designer sleep."

And just as celebrities move other consumer products, they have been deployed to sell prescription drugs. TV personality Joan Lunden and former baseball star Mike Piazza stumped for the allergy pill Claritin, ice skater Dorothy Hamill and track star Bruce Jenner for the pain pill Vioxx, and Sen. Bob Dole for Viagra. NASCAR figure Bobby Labonte also endorsed the antidepressant Wellbutrin XL in 2004. Yes, his medicine could "do all that."

But there has been a problem with celebrity drug endorsements, unlike product endorsements in which a celebrity like Tiger Woods or Martha Stewart could taint a product, a prescription drug can taint a celebrity! Did Dorothy Hamill know that Vioxx doubled the risk of heart attacks in users when she stumped for it? Did the model Lauren Hutton know that hormone replacement therapy causes a 26 percent higher incidence of breast cancer, a 29 percent increase in heart attacks, a 41 percent increase in strokes, and a doubling of the rate of blood clots when she shilled for it? Does actress Sally Field know that bone drugs like Boniva are linked to esophageal cancer, jaw bone death and the very fractures they are supposed to prevent as she pushes them?

Of course, good product marketing includes public relations. When Pharma sells a disease with no mention of the drug it is really selling, it's called "unbranded" advertising. Since DTC advertising, Pharma has invaded public service announcements (PSAs) that TV and radio stations confer for free, pretending their take-a-drug messages serve the public good, like messages to change smoke detector batteries or put kids in car seats.

One such "educational" "awareness" campaign called "Depression Is Real" saturated the radio air waves in 2011, funded by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which was investigated by Congress for its Pharma funding from Wyeth, part of Pfizer, and other groups. The high-budget ads, running for free, compare depression to diabetes because it doesn't go away and to cancer because it can be fatal.

4. One Kind of Ad You Won't See Anymore

Animal research at drug companies and the National Institutes of Health is a great scientific iceberg of which people only see a tip. In drug development, millions of animals die to prove a drug's "safety." At academic and medical centers, animal study grants from NIH provide millions to researchers and labs.

As sentiment grows against animal experiments and the government's gigantic National Primate Research Centers (new rules will limit the use of chimpanzees), the research is downplayed and even hidden. But there was a time when Pharma actually flaunted animal research.

"More than a decade of animal research on various animal species has suggested that Librium (chlordiazepozxide HCI) exerts its principal effects on certain key areas of the limbic system," says an ad from the 1970s, showing three monkeys crouching and dangling in cages as assorted experiments are conducted.

An ad for the diet pill Pre-Sate is even worse. It says, "one of the most sophisticated comparative animal studies ever conducted demonstrates direct action on the satiety centers," and shows five photos of cats in experiments. One shows a life-size white cat looking at the camera with a chain around its neck and invasive instrumentation embedded in its skull.

Today's consumers, it seems, wouldn't tolerate ads like these. (Or the experiments behind them.) Why do they tolerate derisive ads about "dog women" and ploys to market pharmaceuticals to kids as if it were candy?

Martha Rosenberg frequently writes about the impact of the pharmaceutical, food and gun industries on public health. Her work has appeared in the Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune and other outlets. Martha Rosenberg's first book, Born With a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks, and Hacks Pimp the Public Health, will be published by Prometheus Books in April.

© 2012 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/153677/

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hip-Hop Diplomacy? How the State Department Uses Rap to Spread Propaganda Abroad

By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, AlterNet

Since 2005, the US State Department has been using hip-hop as a bridge for foreign cultural diplomacy. Operating under the auspices of then-public diplomacy undersecretary Karen Hughes, the “Rhythm Road” program began sending “hip-hop envoys” to, mostly, the Middle East, hoping to promote transnational understanding through music and dance.

Al-Jazeera ran an excellent piece on the program this week, which begins with this quote from Hillary Clinton in 2010: “Hip-hop is America,” she told CBS—certainly a true statement, but not one anyone would have expected to hear before the Obama adminstration, even from culturally savvy Bill Clinton, whose most famous exchange with hip-hop was when he accused Sistah Souljah of reverse racism.

And while President Obama has done a good job of finally welcoming into the White House the most important musical movement of the last 35 years (both culturally and commercially), his olive branch to the culture has been met with controversy. Most recently, right wingers expressed outrage over his invitation to rather innocuous rapper Common on poetry night, with Sean Hannity wrongly painting him as a controversial "cop-killer"—an absurd assertion to anyone who listens to his music.

The aforementioned Al-Jazeera piece, which chronicles hip-hop's relatively new embrace within the state department, also discuss the music's role in the Arab Spring, which was declared "le printemps des rappeurs" by the French and thought to be a spark in both Syria and Tunisia. Of course, hip-hop's role cannot be quantified in those instances, and in Morocco and Algeria—where hip-hop enjoys a vast audience—there has been no revolution. Al-Jazeera blames the enthusiasm of Western media to lionize hip-hop's role in actual revolutions on their idea that "a taste for hip hop among young Muslims is a sign of moderation, modernity, even 'an embrace of the US.'"

Yet regardless of its impact on the revolutions—something that's impossible to gauge—rap has spread everywhere. The State Department is using hip-hop as a diplomatic concern in an effort to piggyback and control it, yet hip-hop has already been its own diplomat. Notoriously begun in the South Bronx of New York in the mid 1970s, flourishing despite urban blight and extreme disenfranchisement by the government, as it grew as a phenomenon its spirit resonated across the world. Nearly every country across the globe has its own interpretation of hip-hop—Russia, Denmark, and Turkey, as well as Tunisia and Morocco and Algeria—and not just because it conveyed cool cache. The rebellious notion of it, and the fact that it's a really effective way to express political malcontent, translates across cultures and languages (Public Enemy's rise to global popularity in the late 1980s certainly had a hand in it.)

And, quantifiable or no, the Arab Spring was not the first time protests have been inextricable from hip-hop. For instance, in 2006, after the banlieues of Paris erupted in response to rampant anti-immigration and racist sentiment in France, President Sarkozy blamed what he called "ruffians" but some of whom were, in fact, rappers who spoke against him. (Take Alibi Montana and Menace Crew's "Monsieur Sarkozy," and feel free to read my 2006 article on the topic in SPIN magazine.)

The State Department's actions mirror its efforts during the Cold War, when they dispatched prominent jazz musicians to counter Soviet propaganda about life in America. The Al-Jazeera piece brings up that this program sends Muslim hip-hop artists, in particular, to Muslim-majority countries to discuss their experience in the United States. It also points out the irony in the concept of using hip-hop in foreign diplomacy, when rap has been blamed for America’s worst aspects for so long. But clearly, rank hypocrisy is embedded in the program: the true rap voices of American youth have long been maligned by the government—and if the government expended more effort helping the blighted and impoverished black communities most of it comes from, it wouldn't be so reviled there. Further, there's the institutional existence of "hip-hop cops"—state-organized task forces within police departments created especially to target rap's high-profile stars—which have plagued the genre since the mid-1980s.

But first, some history. During the Cold War, the jazz musicians who went out in the name of American diplomacy were world-famous, like Dizzie Gillespie. This initiative doesn't parallel that--the groups it sends are generally unknown among hip-hop fans, despite many American rappers being both political and popular. For instance, Legacy, one of the groups in the program, is a four-person, live instrumental hip-hop crew, and while their pedigrees certainly guarantee an underground audience (they are all trained professionals, and have played mostly with jazz ensembles), that probably wouldn’t have much cache among most US hip-hop consumers.

The program's site explains that the groups are chosen for their "artistic integrity, music ability and educational skills." They're also painting a portrait of acceptance and cultural understanding in America that is counteracted daily by reports of physical violence against Muslims.

Plus, as Al-Jazeera points out, most hip-hop artists American Muslim youth respect are, too, making anti-capitalist, anti-regime statements, including Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, Talib Kweli (the latter three have given support to Occupy), as well as Philadelphia legend Freeway.

Enlisting these or any number of Muslim rappers—who enmesh their religion with their lyrics—would make more sense from the cultural standpoint of a hip-hop fan, though clearly not an ambassadorship one.

And as for the "society-ruining" rap music that people like Hannity and Bill O'Reilly constantly harp on—nothing would curtail hard rap quicker than if the government ended the drug war, whose racist policies have ruined the lives of so many young black men that discontent is inherent. (And you have to wonder what the State Department would make of Shyne, the immensely popular Diddy associate who, after spending nine years in prison for a 2001 shooting, emerged an Orthodox Jew and began showing support for Zionist spy Jonathan Pollard.)

But nuance is not the most questionable part of this program. It’s the absurd idea that it exists, when other branches of the government—the FBI in collusion with the NYPD in particular—have been so adamant about profiling (and taking down) well-recognized stars of the genre. The “hip-hop cops” are also known as the “rap task force,” and their existence solely for the surveillance of rappers’ movements has deepened the mistrust of police within hip-hop (and young blacks and Latinos by extension).

Certainly some well-known rappers have been involved in illegal activities and have even made millions off of bragging about them (50 Cent, who began his career as a crack dealer and was shot nine times before his career skyrocketed, is probably the best known example). Nevertheless, the purpose of monitoring rappers has echoes of COINTELPRO. For years, the existence of the hip-hop cops was rumored in New York (though the LAPD involvement with the murder of the Notorious BIG suggests it spread elsewhere). Bronx rapper Fat Joe told MTV in 2005:

"It's definitely a task force," Fat Joe said. "You go to hip-hop spots now and they ain't just your normal walking-the-beat cops. There's cops out there in undercover cars like they know something we don't know. Like bin Laden's in the club, B."

Some may have thought it a paranoid conceit, but in the mid 2000s, around the time the monitoring seemed to pique, the NYPD was capturing a disproportionate amount of rappers doing minor offenses. The insane amount of times rapper Busta Rhymes has been pulled over for minor traffic infractions alone suggests the force assigned him his own personal detail. Running red lights, talking on the phone, speeding, you name it—more than just garden variety racial profiling, hip-hop was getting busted and the NYPD seemed out for vengeance. In 2007, Lil Wayne was arrested in New York after performing at a show with a hulking police presence. (I was there, covering the show for VIBE magazine, and the amount of cops made it look something like an Occupy protest.) The popular rapper was charged with possession of a gun the police found on his tour bus, and though he denied it was his, the prosecution used a disputed, highly controversial DNA test to link him to it. He spent a year at Riker's Island as a result.

If it felt like the cops were fiending to arrest a high-profile rapper at that show (it did), they might have been. In 2006, Derrick Parker, a former police officer tasked with creating a "Rap Intel" squad, published the book "Notorious C.O.P.," detailing his experience on the NYPD for 20 years—and proving the existence of the Hip-Hop Task Force.

Ironic, no? It would behoove all to look behind the State Department's motives and wonder whether it’s trying to paint a pretty picture abroad, while punishing citizens at home—even now, with a more hip-hop friendly presidency (for the time being).

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd is an associate editor at AlterNet and a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and editor. Formerly the executive editor of The FADER, her work has appeared in VIBE, SPIN, New York Times and various other magazines and websites.

© 2012 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/153662/

Monday, January 9, 2012

America Is Getting More Power from Renewables than From Nuclear - And It's About Fucking Time

from GOOD.is
Despite the economic slowdown and the absence of any groundbreaking climate policy, renewable energy had a good year in the United States in 2011. According to the latest report from the Energy Information Administration, the government’s keeper of all energy-related facts, renewables grew at a record pace and squeaked out of last place in the country’s energy generation standings. In the first nine months of the year, renewables accounted for 11.95 percent of domestic energy production, pulling ahead of nuclear power, which contributed only 10.62 percent.

When you look at the electricity sector alone, renewables shine even brighter. Nuclear’s share of electricity generation dropped by 2.8 percent compared to the first nine months of 2010, while coal’s share dropped by 4.2 percent. In the same period, renewables’ share of electricity generation grew almost 25 percent.

Renewables’ big bump comes is attributable in part to its relatively small share of electricity generation overall. But the continuing success of renewable energy also points to its dynamism compared to energy sources like nuclear plants—which take years to build, require heavy investments at the beginning of their lifetime, and often face strong community opposition. While the price per unit of renewable energy has been dropping steadily, the price per unit nuclear energy has been sneaking upward.

Some supporters of renewables do see a role for nuclear energy in a low-carbon future. It is, after all, clean energy, and it poses little risk to human life and health compared to coal power. The nuclear industry is looking for different ways to build plants—new designs use nuclear waste for fuel, for instance, and plans for "mini-reactors" could make nuclear power a less-intimidating investment.

Nuclear power, though, is stuck between its past and its future; renewable energy is thriving now, and its share of power generation should continue to grow over the coming decades. For the foreseeable future, that trend might require support from the government: If Congress decides to keep rolling back subsidies, the solar and wind industry worry that growth could stall out. But private financiers are starting to realize that solar installations are strong investments that deliver steady, predictable profits, and the solar industry is starting to envision a time when its momentum won’t depend on the whims of Washington.

Right now, an agency like the EIA groups all renewables together under the same heading, and last-generation technologies like hydro power and biomass are helping to boost upstarts like wind and solar into the big leagues. But these newer energy sources are growing steadily. The larger the contribution they’re making to the country’s power, the more seriously policymakers and investors will have to take them.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Public domain WPA posters from the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress just posted a Flickr set of WPA posters.

WPA Posters

Go here: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/wp... for high resolution images for a lot of WPA posters

thanks, http://boingboing.net

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Obliteration Room: a stark white room with thousands of kid-placed colored dots

from BoingBoing:

(Image: GoMA Blog)

Yayoi Kusama's installation The Obliteration Room at the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art started as a stark white room, and then thousands of passing children were given brightly colored dots with which to decorate it. The result is exuberant and marvellous.

(Image: Stuart Addelsee)

This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids

Friday, January 6, 2012

2011: A Year in Revolt !

from OccupyWallStreet.org January 1st, 2012
2011 will be remembered as a year of revolution, the beginning of the end for an unsustainable global system based on poverty, oppression, and violence. In dozens of countries across the Arab world, people rose up against broken economies and oppressive regimes, toppling dictators and inspiring the world to action. Popular rejection of austerity measures and attacks on worker's rights brought millions to the streets in Greece, Iceland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the UK, Chile, Wisconsin and elsewhere.

By midsummer, murmurs of "occupying Wall Street” were stirring online, and on July 14th, we registered the domain occupywallst.org and began organizing. The first New York City General Assembly was held August 2nd and the Occupation of Liberty Square began on September 17th.

Fueled by anger at the growing disparities between rich and poor, frustrated by government policies that benefit a tiny elite at the expense of the majority, and tired of the establishment’s failure to address fundamental economic inequalities, OWS offered a new solution. We built a People’s Kitchen to feed thousands, opened a People’s Library, created safer spaces, and provided free shelter, bedding, medical care, and other necessities to anyone who needed them. While cynics demanded we elect leaders and make demands on politicians, we were busy creating alternatives to those very institutions. A revolution has been set in motion, and we cannot be stopped.

As the mainstream media ignored us, we learned from other leaderless resistance movements in places like Tunisia, Egypt, and Iran to use social media and live video streaming to spread our message. We are part of a global movement that has radically democratized how information is created and shared, rendering centralized, corporate-funded mainstream media increasingly irrelevant. The rapid exchange of information allowed us to make collective decisions quickly, discuss information and ideas across the globe, mobilize effective direct actions, and document police brutality. Now more than ever, when we chant “The Whole World Is Watching!” it is not an idle threat.

Today, tens of thousands of everyday people are putting ideals like solidarity, mutual aid, anti-oppression, autonomy, and direct democracy into practice. Individuals are joining together in city-wide General Assemblies and autonomous affinity groups. Through consensual, non-hierarchical and participatory self-governance, we are literally laying the framework for a new world by building it here and now -- and it works.

The rest is history. In honor of a new year, here is a run-down of what we accomplished since then. It would be impossible to list every action or mention every place an Occupation has occurred. But let us start a new year by celebrating a few highlights of our victories -- along with a sneak preview of what's to come!

SEPT 17: We Occupied Wall Street.

Over two thousand people descended on Manhattan’s financial district with one goal: to Occupy. We brought tents and gave our new home (Zuccotti Park) a new name: Liberty Square.

SEPT 24: We exposed the violent underpinnings of economic inequality for all to see.

Foreshadowing events to come, over 80 people were violently arrested returning from a peaceful march on Union Square. Video of unprovoked police pepper-spraying protesters went viral, unmasking the brutality necessary for the perpetuation of social and economic inequality. Thousands marched on the NYPD headquarters to express outrage, and the world began to take notice.

SEPT 28-ONGOING: More workers and oppressed communities began to join in solidarity.

Early in the Occupation, OWS had shown support for many causes, including postal workers struggling for better conditions. On Sept. 28th, the Transport Workers Union Local-100 voted to support OWS and encouraged their members to show up. Since then, we’ve received tremendous support from local unions like the American Federation of Teachers and pilots, as well as rank-and-file workers like port truck drivers on the West Coast. On Dec. 1st, we responded to a call from the NYC Central Labor Council to march for jobs and a fair economy, and on Dec. 2nd, OWS marched with farmers to call for food justice. Economists, writers, and musicians have all supported us. We've also been joined by students, immigrants, African-American church leaders, transgender liberation activists, Native individuals and First Nations like the Indigenous People's Council, incarcerated prison hunger strikers, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and countless other oppressed communities struggling to improve their living conditions under an unfair economic and political structure.

SEPT 29-ONGOING: The Occupation grew and spread across the globe.

Protesters in San Francisco began to occupy their own financial district. New memes (“We are the 99%!”) spread rapidly. “Occupy” itself was taken, adapted, and reinvented across the world. Occupy Wall Street became Occupy All Streets. Occupy groups and actions formed on every continent, in over one thousand cities in over 70 countries, and in all 50 U.S. States plus the District of Columbia. To date, at least 5,748 people have been arrested for Occupying. Camps and protests have appeared and survived in the biggest cities and the most rural towns. Although it would be nearly impossible to compile an exhaustive list of every place where Occupations and solidarity actions have taken place, it’s safe to say we are everywhere.

OCT 1: We took the Brooklyn Bridge and inspired the world to Occupy.

Over 5,000 people marched to the Brooklyn Bridge. Police enclosed protesters in netting and arrested around 800. Days later, 15,000 demonstrators marched from Foley Square to Liberty Square. After nightfall, NYPD again responded violently by pepper-spraying bystanders and using kettling nets. The next day, thousands marched in Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tampa, Houston, Austin, Salt Lake City, and elsewhere and began to Occupy Together.

OCT 10-25: We showed determination during the first wave of eviction attempts.

140 were arrested at Occupy Boston. On Oct. 25th, hundreds of police moved to evict Occupy Oakland using an arsenal of teargas, beanbag rounds, and rubber bullets, arresting 85. A Marine and Iraq War veteran was left in critical condition after being shot directly in the head with a teargas canister. The growing movement responded quickly. In New York, OWS marched near Union Square. Nearly 100 people were arrested in Portland, Austin, and Denver, where police fired pepper spray pellets to disperse Occupiers. Nevertheless, new Occupations continued to pop up.

OCT 15: We contributed to a global movement for economic justice.

Thousands in NYC marched to Times Square in a Global Day of Action. Protesters from small towns like Ashland, KY and Ketchum, ID joined with other U.S. cities like Des Moines and Dallas. Globally, protesters stormed financial districts in Amsterdam, Athens, Auckland, Mumbai, Tokyo, Seoul, Ottawa, Sydney, London, and Johannesburg. One million people marched in Barcelona and Madrid alone. Hundreds of thousands marched in Rome and Valencia, and tens of thousands marched in Berlin, Zagreb, Brussels, Lisbon and Porto. In Latin America, the largest Occupations took place in Buenos Aires, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Santiago, Bogota, San Jose, Quito, Mexico City, Lima, and Montevideo.

OCT 16-ONGOING: We altered mainstream political discourse.

Recognizing how well our message resonated, the political establishment tried to co-opt our movement and use our slogans for political gain. On Oct. 16th, President Obama claimed to “work for the 99%.” During the last week of October, mainstream media mentioned “income inequality” more than five times more often than during the week before the Occupation began. On Nov. 10th, a media analysis company announced "occupy" had become the "most commonly used English word on the internet and in print." Time Magazine named “the protester” its Person of the Year. In 2011, we made General Assembly a household term.

NOV 2: We organized the first General Strike in the United States since 1946.

Occupy Oakland spearheaded a General Strike and shut down the Port of Oakland. Over 100,000 people marched in solidarity. The next day, riot police attacked with flash bang grenades and tear gas. Over 100 were arrested, and another Iraq veteran was seriously wounded.

NOV 5: We hit the bankers where it counts: their wallets.

OWS supported Bank Transfer Day by protesting outside major banks and financial institutions. Over 600,000 people switched from banks to nonprofit community credit unions.

NOV 9-22: We walked hundreds of miles to share the message of justice.

On Nov. 9th, a group of Occupiers left Liberty Square for Washington, D.C. to protest President Obama’s tax cuts for the 1%. Weeks later, the “Walkupiers” arrived in D.C. to a warm welcome and massive media presence.

NOV 15: We survived the violent eviction of Liberty Square.

Mayor Bloomberg’s private army attacked our home. Around 1AM, police moved in a horrific display of force, using LRAD sound cannons and bloodying protesters with batons in the middle of the night. Journalists were barred. Over 5,000 donated books from The People’s Library were wantonly destroyed, along with many Occupiers’s personal possessions. A New York City councilmember was among those arrested. Occupiers in D.C. held a sit-in at the offices of Brookfield Properties, “owners” of Liberty Square. Soon after, Occupiers in Seattle were attacked with pepper-spray and there were hundreds of Occupy-related arrests in Portland, Berkeley, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Los Angeles. We remained nonviolent through it all.

NOV 17: We persevered, fought back harder, and triumphantly returned to the Bridge stronger than ever.

Two days after the Liberty eviction, we held perhaps the largest OWS action to date. In the morning, Occupiers blockaded every entrance to the New York Stock Exchange. A retired Philadelphia Police Captain stood in solidarity and was arrested by NYPD along with hundreds. Over 30,000 people, including organized students and labor unions, marched around Liberty, Union, and Foley Squares before walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Occupations in Portland, Milwaukee, Seattle, Los Angeles, Detroit, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, D.C., Hartford, Houston, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Great Falls, Minneapolis, Kalamazoo, Augusta, Saginaw, Cleveland, Richmond, Iowa City, and more marched on key bridges in solidarity with the Liberty Square Occupiers. In New York, students at the New School established a 24/7 occupation. Solidarity actions also took place across the world in Canada, Japan, the U.K., Spain, Germany, Greece, and more.

NOV 18-ONGOING: In the face of police brutality and disproportional force, we adapted.

Riot police nonchalantly pepper-sprayed a line of UC-Davis students holding a peaceful sit-down. The image went viral, viscerally capturing the state's attitude toward nonviolent resistance. The pattern of police violence and midnight raids continued in dozens of cities: Seattle, Portland, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Newark, Boston, Atlanta, Montreal, Amsterdam, and beyond. But we learned to evolve as the circumstances change, proving that “Occupy Will Never Die, Evict Us -- We Multiply!” Evicted Occupations continued to hold General Assemblies and maintain busy calendars with daily meetings, events, workshops, teach-ins, marches, direct actions, and demonstrations at their local city hall, bank branch, corporate office, and courts. Some moved indoors, some took over bank-owned homes, some slept in churches, some held 24/7 vigils at their Occupation with no tents to avoid city ordinances, and dozens still maintain physical occupations with tents -- but all of us kept organizing. Our new slogan became: You cannot evict an idea whose time has come.

Occupiers in DC liberated the empty, city-owned Franklin School. In blatant disregard for social services and popular will, the former homeless shelter was slated to become a condo or hotels for the 1% lobbyists on K Street. Before massive police repression, Occupiers had already planned public forums to decide how to put the building to use. There are more empty houses than homeless people in the United States. After the greedy speculation of Wall Street bankers created a housing crisis for their own huge profits, we helped revive many hardest-hit communities by turning vacant buildings into livable, productive,and life-saving resources for those most in need. In London, Seattle, Oakland, Chapel Hill, Portland, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Boston and many other places, we continued to occupy bank-owned buildings and turned them into social centers.

NOV 24: We demonstrated new ways of supporting ourselves and each other.

On "Thanksgiving" in the U.S., instead of supporting colonialist holidays, we gave thanks for our spirit of compassion by continuing to provide for our collective needs. In NYC, Occupiers gathered in Liberty Square to share dinner. The People's Kitchen made food to feed thousands, while Occupy the Hood distributed meals throughout Brooklyn, Harlem, and the Bronx, as well as the New School Occupation and Occupiers staying in Far Rockaway. From Oakland to Boston, Occupations sat down for meals and took part in actions in solidarity with First Nations and Native Americans. In Philly and other places, we began to turn vacant lots into small farms for public use to feed their communities. Occupy Boston, Occupy DC, and many other cities hosted "Really Really Free Markets" to share goods with whomever needs them, proving that another world -- and an economy where we take care of one another’s needs instead of corporate profits -- is possible.

NOV 25: We perfected the People’s Mic.

What began as a creative way to avoid NYPD amplification restrictions became an excellent tool for organizing. From making announcements to redirecting marches, 2011 was the year of the mic check. The People’s Mic has been used countless times to confront 1%ers and corrupt politicians. It was used in New Hampshire to interrupt President Obama, in Iowa to call out Newt Gingrich, and in L.A. to voice popular dissent at City Council meetings. But on Black Friday, the People’s Mic was perfected. Occupiers used it to occupy Wal-Marts and other large retailers in dozens of cities like El Paso, Kansas City, San Diego, Atlanta, Oakland, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago and more.

NOV 28: We fought for accessible education.

In response to police violence, a massive General Assembly of University of California-Davis students called for a system-wide strike and announced their intention to shut down campuses where the U.C. Regents were scheduled to vote in favor of extreme service cuts and raised tuitions. Students at the City University of New York -- who had been attacked by police a week prior while protesting tuition hikes -- took over Baruch College and barricaded the building to prevent the Board of Trustees from voting to raise tuition. Outside, hundreds of Occupy CUNY students and their supporters chanted, "Education is a right!" while the New School students continued to Occupy their campus.

DEC 1: We took direct action to support the occupiers of Tahir Square.

In Egypt, the military regime that took power after protesters toppled the Mubarak regime continued to attack and murder protesters fighting for democracy and freedom. Many of those in the streets were the same people who had inspired and supported the original Occupation of Wall Street. In solidarity, Occupiers from Baltimore, Philadelphia, and across the Mid-Atlantic joined with Egyptians here in the U.S. to protest outside a company in rural Pennsylvania that manufactures tear gas canisters that have been sold to Arab governments and used against protesters in places like Tahir Square, Cairo. OWS has also protested in front of Egyptian consulates in New York and elsewhere.

DEC 6: We took direct action against foreclosures by putting mutual aid into practice.

During and after our Day of Action, we occupied homes and prevented foreclosures and evictions. In L.A., Atlanta, Bremerton, Reno, New Orleans and beyond, Occupiers disrupted foreclosure auctions. Occupiers foreclosed on bank offices in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Buffalo and elsewhere. In cities like New York, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Rochester, Cleveland, Oakland, and Philadelphia, we helped homeless, poor, working- and-middle class, low-income families and families of color, people who had been foreclosed on, and veterans move into empty, bank-owned homes.

DEC 7: We exposed the corruption of money in politics.

Thousands of Occupiers shut down K Street in Washington, DC -- home of the Wall Street lobbyists who control the politicians. Hundreds were arrested for laying down in the intersection of 14th St NW & K St. From there, we marched through freezing winds to the White House chanting "Occupy Wall Street, Occupy K Street, Occupy EVERYWHERE and NEVER give it back!" and "Rain, sleet, ice, or snow -- Occupy will never go!" Later, more people were arrested on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court while decrying the government’s collusion with the 1% through acts like the ruling on corporate personhood in Citizen’s United.

DEC 12: We shut down the ports.

In response to the government's coordinated effort to suppress our movement, we organized a multi-city effort of our own. Nonviolent blockades and other actions occurred at ports in Long Beach, San Diego, Oakland, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Anchorage, and more. Occupy Houston shut down their port on the Gulf of Mexico, while land-locked Occupy Denver rallied outside a massive Wal-Mart distribution center. Occupy Bellingham nonviolently shut down rail ways used to transport goods from the ports. In New York, OWS picketed the headquarters of Goldman Sachs and flash mobbed the World Financial Center. Solidarity actions also took place in Anchorage, Tacoma, Chicago, Tokyo, and elsewhere.

DEC 17: We celebrated our 3-month anniversary.

Since the eviction of Liberty Square, many homeless Occupiers had been sleeping on the street or in local churches. On Dec. 17th, OWS attempted to re-occupy a new home in Duarte Square, an empty lot in Manhattan owned by one of these churches -- Trinity Church on Wall Street. Thousands showed up in solidarity, and we received tremendous support from religious leaders.

DEC 18: We marched in solidarity with immigrants and economic refugees.

On the International Day of Migrants, OWS and members of the immigrant community marched to Foley Square to demand an end to wage theft, detentions, and deportation, and to support the rights of economic refugees and immigrants. Occupiers rallied outside an ICE Detention Center in Birmingham, Alabama. Actions in solidarity with migrant justice also took place in cities and Occupations across the world.

DEC 31: We celebrated the New Year.

After demonstrations to abolish the prison-industrial complex took place in dozens of cities across the U.S. and more throughout the Europe and South America, we took back the place where it all started -- Liberty Square -- to bring in the New Year. Occupiers danced on top of the barricades the police had tried to use to keep us out of OUR park, and at least 68 were arrested. Occupiers in dozens of other cities also held events to celebrate the beginning of 2012.

2012: We are getting ready.

The spontaneous, leaderless qualities of our movement give us strength. The future is unwritten, and the possibilities boundless. In 2012, Occupiers everywhere will continue to show the strength of the people united. We will keep fighting back against attacks from the 1% and governments. Here is a mere "teaser trailer" for some of the actions that are in the works:

We continue to Occupy the Iowa Caucuses by occupying campaign offices of Presidential candidates to remind the world that the "liberal/conservative, Democrat/Republican dichotomy is a distraction from the real social conflict undergriding American society: the 99 percent versus the 1 percent."
Today, OWS in New York will protest the "indefinite detention" authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act
Also today, Occupy Atlanta will disrupt another foreclosure auction, and then rally against the death penality in honor of Troy Davis, namesake of their main encampment.
On Jan. 17th, we will Occupy Congress.
On Jan. 20th, Occupy San Francisco will retake the financial district.
On April 7th, Occupy Chicago will launch a "spring offensive" along with Occupations across the globe.
On May 1st, the world will be watching...

And in 2012 YOU can become a part of the solution or remain part of the problem...