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Peaceful Tactic: Keep Wall Street (Busy) Occupied

I realize that not everyone is keen on taking part in winter camping to occupy our business districts and protest our society's corporate greed. However, many people may still want to protest in their own peaceful way. My husband sent me the video below (4:29 min) that shows people how to make their feelings known to corporations. As some of you may not view the video, I will summarize this brilliant ploy to get the banks' attention and keep them occupied, or just plain busy.

In the picture on your left you will see a business reply envelope. Through contracts with the post office, companies pay the postage on only the envelopes that are sent back. If you're receiving unsolicited credit card applications, you may want to use this "opportunity" to have a dialogue with this bank, credit card company, etc.

The following are some of the ways the video suggests that you use your business reply envelopes as a means of protest.

For those who think that silence speaks volumes
1. Send the business reply envelope back empty (the bank/corporation will be charged the going postal rate for a letter.)
2. You can send the business reply envelope and the application, plus anything else you might want to slip in, and the bank/corporation will be charged for the weight accordingly.

For those who think that dialogue is important
1. Send a note. "Dear Big Bank Clerk:  Join a union."
2. Send a wood shim, which can be purchased inexpensively at a hardware store, and put it in your business reply envelope along with a word or two, such as #greed #OWS #how does it feel?

For those who just can't find the words to express the weight of their feelings
1. Send something extremely dense like a roofing shingle.

When the corporation/bank starts to receive thousands of wood shims, roofing shingles, notes and empty envelopes, the corporation/bank will hold meetings, change old plans and implement new procedures, thus, wasting their time when they could be otherwise making money. You would be creating a means for keeping banks/corporations/government OCCUPIED.

Personally, I like the first two examples because a large part of our recycling seems to come from this type of mail .

Other related posts
Occupons Montréal in Photos Occupons Montréal
Response to the press
Anti-Wall Street March
Unions and Community groups that took part
Anti-WallStreet: News and Resources

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Occupons Montréal in Photos

I've had some time to go through my photos of the protest on October 16, and I've chosen those that best reflect the strong organization of the demonstration as well as the spirit of the day. The size of the encampment at Victoria Square has apparently doubled in just a few days and donations have been pouring in to keep the campers relatively comfortable.

The latest news was that a porta-potty had been donated for the residents. The square has unofficially undergone a name change. Victoria Square, it is no longer! The new name is Place du peuple or the People's Square. If you haven't been down to visit the new community, I suggest you do. You will be pleasantly surprised by how organized things are. If you're still unsure about what the Occupy movement is all about (Carine), I encourage you to listen to what Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki has to say about it after the pictures.

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Anti-WallStreet: News and Resources

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Interview with Carmen Aguirre, Chilean Resistance Fighter

According to the publisher Douglas & McIntyre, Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter is the first account ever published about life in the Chilean resistance. It was reportedly Bob Everton, Carmen Aguirre’s stepfather, who encouraged her to tell her story, but the process apparently took eight painful years. I had the privilege to ask the author a few questions about her book and experiences.

For a full review of Something Fierce click here.

HL: I would like to know about your writing process in SomethingFierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter. Which aspect was harder to write than expected and why?

CA: It was hard to write about my resistance activities without giving away too much information that may put me or my family in danger. I never mention the name of the resistance movement I belonged to, nor do I mention what the "goods" or "items" were that I was carrying. I don't mention the name of the leader that Alejandro sees in Santiago in 1988, nor do I give away too much about the actual political platform of the movement. It was difficult to gauge how much was too much, and how much was too little, in terms of giving the reader enough information. 
HL: Something Fierce: Memoirs of A Revolutionary Daughter opens in June 1979 with you, your sister and your mother flying to Lima, Peru. Your leftist family had fled Chile five years earlier after the coup. Your stepfather, Bob, a Canadian internationalist, later joined you. At the time, you were 11 years old. Did your mother ever explain to you and your sister what she and Bob would be doing in South America?

CA: My mother and Bob were not able to share too much with us due to security concerns. I was raised in a socialist family and was well-versed in our political beliefs. I did not know exactly how our beliefs were being put into practice by my mother and Bob when I was child living in Bolivia and Argentina. 

HL: While your mother and stepfather were involved in the Chilean resistance, the top secret Operation Condor had been set up. In other words, there were people working for Operation Condor whose job it was to track down people like Bob and your mother. As a pre-teen living in La Paz were you constantly aware of the lurking danger? Were there types of people at school or in the street whom you consciously avoided?

CA: Of course I was aware of the danger. I had to be, so as not to give away what we were really doing in La Paz. I avoided military men, soldiers, people who looked wealthy, people who asked too many questions, such as taxi drivers, bus drivers, teachers, store clerks, etc., and anybody who might seem like they worked for the secret police. 

HL: In spite of the danger, it seems that you enjoyed your early adolescence in La Paz. What aspects did you enjoy the most?

CA: Everybody lived in danger in La Paz under the rightwing dictatorships at the time. I loved my adolescence there because I love the Bolivian spirit, the immediate intimacy with the people you meet, the definition of love and friendship, which is very different than in North America.

HL: You and your family seemed to house a fair number of women working in the Chilean resistance movement. To your knowledge, what was the percentage of men versus women?

CA: I don't know the percentage, but I would venture to say that it was half and half. 

HL: Every time I read about the man in brown polyester pinstripe suit I get chills up my spine. How did you immediately know that he was a Chilean secret service agent?
CA: He looked Chilean, and he was using what we called "check" skills. 
HL: Your resistance work cost you dearly in terms of the fear, terror and paranoia you experienced. In the 1990s when you meet up with Alejandro again, it sounds as though you thought all your efforts were for naught—the resistance movement failed to depose Pinochet. How do you feel about your resistance work now?

CA: I feel proud of the resistance movement today. The new generation in Chile today is clamouring for constitutional changes to the education system, a referendum, and participatory democracy. I believe that their parents (my generation) have served as an example for them. No struggle is fought in a vacuum; what we did in the 80s had an impact on what is happening today. 

HL: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. I wish you all the best with your book.

This review was cross-posted at Rover Arts

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Review: Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre

Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter
Carmen Aguirre
Douglas & McIntyre

In my next post, I will be posting an interview with the author.

How many left-leaning young women would have given up their quiet, comfortable pre-teen and teen years in North America to live as the daughter of a revolutionary? Imagine attending a middle school where you rub elbows with the children of rightwing political leaders, the very people your parents are working against. Or what about doing a little late afternoon grocery shopping only to come face to face with an armed secret service agent and having to run for your life. These are some of the personal experiences that Carmen Aguirre describes in Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter.

Aguirre’s parents were leftwing activists who were blacklisted after General Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected President Salvador Allende in 1973. The Aguirres were forced to flee their native Chile and live in exile in Vancouver. While Carmen’s father chose another life in Canada, her mother was determined to fight on. In 1979, when Carmen was 11, her mother took her and her younger sister back to South America to work in the resistance movement helping exiled dissidents return to Chile through its bordering countries. Her mother’s partner, Bob Everton, a Canadian internationalist who had been taken prisoner and tortured by the Pinochet regime in 1973, later joined them.

Carmen’s mother and Everton begin their undercover work in Lima, Peru, and gradually make their way through the Peruvian highlands to La Paz, Bolivia, where the family sets up a safe house for resistance members. Although Carmen is aware of the activities that are going on in her home, nothing is explained to her or her sister in explicit terms. This is where Carmen’s double life begins. To her Bolivian classmates, Carmen is a Canadian pre-teen, while at home she lives by socialist values instilled by her underground revolutionary mother. La Paz is where the young Carmen comes of age, listening to pop music and stealing kisses from boys, but always with a watchful eye on the potentially explosive streets of dictatorship-run Bolivia. At the same time, the U.S.-backed Operation Condor had been set up by right-wing dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and Brazil employing secret service agents to eradicate socialist operatives such as Carmen’s mother and partner.

The family later moves to post-Malvinas Argentina where Bob and her mother clear paths through the Andes into Chile. Their existence is more challenging both physically and financially until Carmen’s mother decides that it is too dangerous for her teenage daughters and forces them return to Canada. But at age 18 Carmen returns to South America with her Argentine boyfriend, where they earn their pilots licenses in Argentina to fly returnees and goods into Chile. Aguirre lives through some harrowing experiences, but fights on until the movement ends in 1989.

What makes this book exceptional is that it features two generations of impassioned women revolutionaries, in addition to presenting several other courageous women resistance fighters. Although there have always been women involved in underground political movements, they are rarely given any ink. Nevertheless, what becomes apparent in Something Fierce is that the work is extremely demanding, both mentally and physically. Whether male or female, operatives have to be able to think on their feet, conceal and cope with unrelenting fear, terror and paranoia and, above all, be inconspicuous. It’s no small wonder that when Carmen Aguirre returned to Canada, she turned to her best-honed skill—acting. Today, she is an award-winning playwright having written and co-written 18 plays and has over 60 stage, film and TV acting credits.

If you have an interest in Latin American politics, have repeatedly watched the footage of the 1973 Chilean coup or ever dreamt of being a leftist revolutionary, Something Fierce is a must-read. This is a thoughtful, moving first-hand account of revolutionary life without any of the hackneyed heroics or patriotism. Parts of this book will definitely play over in your mind well after you’ve turned the page.

This review was cross-posted at Rover Arts.

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Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell 
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Occupons Montréal

I certainly enjoyed painting posters on Friday for the protest on Saturday. However, rain threatened to turn my efforts into coloured streams of soggy paper. My friend Fidel and I waited until the rain finished before we headed down to Square Victoria.

At a few blocks from the demonstration, we didn't hear any noise, but as we drew closer, it became apparent that there were many more people than we had anticipated. We started at the people's microphone, a method of communicating messages at the Occupy Wall Street protests. Because you need a permit in New York City to use a bullhorn, demonstrators have circumvented the bylaw by having the speaker address the crowd in short sentences, which are repeated in waves by the crowd. This is a great communication means because it demands that the crowd engage in active listening, while forcing the speaker to focus on the essentials of the message. For the speaker to get everyone's attention s/he simply says "Mic check!" Although we don't have the same bylaw regarding bullhorns in Montreal, the speakers were still waiting for the message to filter out to the edges of the crowd before starting another.

As Fidel and I climbed our way through the crowd, we met a lot of smiling people repeating the speakers messages and enjoying a few sunny breaks. We ran into an acquaintance who encouraged us to visit to the tent city where protesters had set up camp in the south end of Victoria Square, just in front of Quebecor. I was surprised by the organization of the encampment. In addition to campers, there was also a medics tent, a communications tent, a kitchen and plenty of drummers and dancing. We were also onsite when a brave man climbed the statue of Queen Victoria to hang a sign and put an anonymous mask on the dead monarch.

The demonstration finished with a march around the square, up Beaver Hall and west on St. Catherine's Street to the disbelief of motorists who were immobilized by marchers.

Other posts:
Response to the press
Anti-Wall Street March
Unions and Community groups that took part
Anti-WallStreet: News and Resources 


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OccupyWS: Response to the Press

Mural by Nadine Samuel et al.
I'm just so sick of hearing the mainstream media asking the same question. "But what do these protesters really want?" This is the worst type of spin. You give the same answer and they keep asking the same exasperating question.

HELLO! It's about unfettered capitalism that has put the entire population at the mercy of the banks and corporations. You might call it the new feudal system, economic abuse or just greed. How about the catch-all phrase: economic inequality. We want the class mobility of our parents' generations. We want meaningful, secure jobs.

It seems that education, once the vehicle for class mobility, is no longer accessible to the majority. Sure we can still go, but we'll spend our entire lives paying off student loans. Our unions have been weakened and our working conditions are precarious because there is no bottom to the corporate bottom line.

BTW: if you are asked zee golden question, you might want to say that if the media had been doing its job of objective reporting in the first place, instead of towing the corporate line, then we wouldn't be in the mess we are today. Corporate interests have undermined the media's credibility as the fourth estate. Our national media is little more than corporate PR.

 Occupy Montreal / Occupons Montréal and  We are the other 99% /Nous Sommes le 99% will be holding a peaceful protest from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Victoria Square on Saturday, October 15. Decolonize Montreal / Décolonizons Montréal will be starting things off at noon. Let's take aim at our chartered banks and all the other greedy corporations. If you're having problems selecting whom you want to direct your protest at, then just pull out a random monthly statement and try to read the fine print. You'll quickly find yer target.

I hope to see you all there.

Don't forget the placard! Yes, placards are key.
My poster paint and bristol board are at the ready.

Happy Protesting!

Other related posts:
Anti-Wall Street March
Unions and Community groups that took part
Anti-WallStreet: News and Resources 

For your viewing pleasure, watch FOX News wannabe Kevin O'Leary be taken down eloquently and handily by Chris Hedges
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Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

One of my favourite writing blogs, the Bookshelf Muse, had a post about writing suspense and cited the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins as an example of fine fiction. I'd never heard of the book, but I picked it up on Friday night and fell into some great post-apocalyptic storytelling. I just couldn't read it fast enough. It's a young adult novel about sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen who lives in Panem, one of the poorest districts of what was once the United States.

Katniss hunts, traps and gathers with a friend to feed her mother and younger sister.  Katniss and her family, like most other people in district 12, live hand to mouth. Years before, the 13 districts waged war on the Capitol, but were defeated. Under the terms of surrender, each district has to send one boy and one girl annually to the Hunger Games, a televised event, where the participants fight until there is only one person left. The participants are selected by lottery. When the name of Katniss's younger sister is drawn, the elder Everdeen steps up to take her place.

Inspired by reality tv, the Hunger Games uses its audience and producers to decide the rules and the terrain as they go. Far from being the strongest, fastest or biggest, Katniss is a strategist, sizing up her opponents and using  her own archery and hunting skills accordingly. She joins forces with Rue, another girl with a complementary skill set, until Rue is killed. Fortunately, her team mate is able to leave Katniss some important supplies, such as night vision glasses and leaves that draw out infection which help her later in battling some of her most formidable opponents.

After I finished the book, I was online buying Catching Fire, the second book in the trilogy. It's been a long time since I've stayed up a good part of the night reading. Sixteen-year-old Katniss is a wonderful, resourceful character that young adults can readily relate to and learn from. It's so refreshing to pick up a book about a teen who has so little concern about her outward appearance. Our heroine is self-effacing but nevertheless realistic about her skills and those of her opponents. I loved the grittiness of Katniss's character, and I think that so many young women will see her as a positive, intelligent role model. Another great aspect of this book is the teaming up of Katniss and Rue. The camaraderie between women rather than competition is another positive and welcome theme in this novel.

In short, I'm overjoyed to find a book with a non-traditional heroine who draws on all her physical and psychological skills to be the best she can be. This is a fabulous book that both young women and their parents will enjoy.

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AntiWallStreet March

It's Happening
According to the Guardian, the march with representatives from some the U.S.'s largest unions, backed by students from the national action day, was very peaceful until nightfall. As most of us on the east coast can attest, yesterday was a beautiful sunny fall day with perfect weather for a protest.

Unfortunately, at nightfall there were pockets of ugliness when some of the 15,000 protesters attempted to enter the restricted area leading to Wall Street. Videos and reports have surfaced that some protesters were pepper sprayed. The following video is of a senior officer swinging his baton at marchers who were attempting to enter a restricted area.

What is interesting in this 41-second video is that all protest participants seem to be armed with either a camera or a cell phone camera.

The cops may be experiencing partial blindness today as a result of all those flashes.

Related posts:
Unions and Community groups that took part
Anti-WallStreet: News and Resources .

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Anti-WallSt March, October 5 at Foley Sq. NYC

Old Paint is Still Beautiful
According to OccupyWallSt.org, the campers or new residents of Foley Square will be joining its union sisters and brothers in solidarity and marching into the financial district at 4:30 EST. The following lists are the names of the unions and community groups that will be marching today.

This is a march to celebrate workers around the world.
  • United NY
  • Strong Economy for All Coalition
  • Working Families Party
  • TWU Local 100
  • SEIU 1199
  • CWA 1109
  • Communications Workers of America
  • CWA Local 1180
  • United Auto Workers
  • United Federation of Teachers
  • Professional Staff Congress - CUNY
  • National Nurses United
  • Writers Guild East
  • Community Voices Heard
  • Alliance for Quality Education
  • New York Communities for Change
  • Coalition for the Homeless
  • Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP)
  • The Job Party
  • NYC Coalition for Educational Justice
  • The Mirabal Sisters Cultural and Community Center
  • The New Deal for New York Campaign
  • National People's Action
  • Human Services Council
  • Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State
  • Citizen Action of NY
  • MoveOn.org
  • Common Cause NY
  • New Bottom Line
  • 350.org
  • Tenants & Neighbors
  • Democracy for NYC
  • Resource Generation
  • Tenants PAC
  • Teachers Unite
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Occupy Wall Street: News and Resources
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Occupy Wall Street: News and Resources

Mile End Grafitti
After just a few minutes on Twitter, I've learned the following:


There are still rumours that the Marines have been called in . Apparently, they will be wearing their dress blues and are to be acting as a buffer between protesters and police.

@OccupyWallStreet, the Twitter handle of the organization behind the movement has been deactivated. Yes, the days of Twitter neutrality are long gone.

OccupyWallSt.org is back fully online after a lightening fast server was donated by @AlterNet.

There will be a Virtual March on Wall Street on Wednesday, October 5, to support the Anti-Wall Street movement throughout the US. The site will be giving supporters instructions on how to make their voices heard.You must have a US Postal Code to sign on.Try 90210. . .

At the Occupy Boston protest, 25 people were arrested over the weekend.

For comfort needs, the people camped out in NYC still need sleeping bags. Donations can be sent to UPS Store 118A Fulton st #205 New York, NY, 10038.

Yesterday, I found that "Occupy Wall Street" did not yield very much on Google.
For better results, try "Anti-Wall Street protests."

Here's some sites where there was decent coverage yesterday. There is more news on the right-wing side of things, but the following sites will keep the left better focused.

The Village Voice
The Nation

However, the site with the best coverage to date with up-to-the-minute developments is The Guardian's Live Blog (You Rock!).

Another great read tweeted by Journalist Jay Rosen "Hacktivism Meets Wall Street."

Happy Reading and Discovering Resources!

Wall-Street related posts:
Week 3: Occupy Wall Street
Open Letter to Biz Stone, Twitter Co-founder and Creative Director  

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Books for Preschoolers

Chicken, Pig, Cow and the Class Pet by Ruth Ohi
Annick Press

This is Ruth Ohi's fifth book in her Chicken, Pig, Cow series. This time, the three friends leave their pal Dog at home and go to school with Girl as part of a  project. At school, our three friends meet Mr. Crankypants, (AKA Furry Face) the class hamster, who begins to eat their popsicle-stick barn. The friends eventually figure out a way to get the hamster to eat something else and work together to get him back into his cage.

Ruth Ohi not only writes her own stories, but she also does her own warm watercolour illustrations. In fact, she has illustrated four times more books (40) than she has authored (10). My son and daughter enjoyed the characters and the story told from the point of view of the miniature animals. This is a great book, especially if your child has a class pet.

Thomas' Snowsuit (Board Book) by Robert Munsch
Annick Press

This is a new edition of Robert Munsch's 25-year-old classic Thomas' Snowsuit. The text of the strong-willed little boy who doesn't want to put on his snowsuit has been revised, and some new Michael Martchenko illustrations have been added. But best of all, it's a board book that is just the right size for preschoolers' little hands. This sturdier format means that the book will last much longer.

I'd forgotten how funny the story was until I heard my husband read it. He laughed more than my kids when the teacher ended up wearing Thomas' snowsuit and Thomas wearing her dress. And of course, my kids know exactly when to yell "No!" and "A big fight" without any prompts. They found Munsch's story just as entertaining the first time as the tenth.

Related reviews of books for kids and teens

More Spy Girls Please
Books for kids aged 4 to 7
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The Trouble with Marlene by Billie Livingston
The Orphan Rescue by Anne Dublin
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Week 3: Occupy Wall Street

The Occupy Wall Street demonstration entered its third week today. Although Biz Stone et al have prevented the #OccupyWallStreet hashtag from becoming a trending topic on Twitter, it appears that the powers-that-be have been power-less this morning in controlling the hashtag #BrooklynBridge, the site of 700 protester arrests yesterday afternoon.

I did my own count for trending topics on October 1 at 1:00 EST. The top trending hashtag was #whatyoushouldknowaboutme. There was a 1 minute interval between tweets, whereas those for #OccupyWallStreet were coming in at every 10 seconds. Now how do you explain that one? Someone has tried to spin this on Twitter's behalf. Apparently, we tweeps just don't understand how trending topics are calculated. Zee trrending topiques are apparently calculated by a complex algorithm that integrates some subjective and objective variables. Now if we add a fairy tale and some BS, then shake vigorously, voilà we have a trending topic.

In other news under the #OccupyWallStreet search this morning, there are apparently 20-30,000 people protesting in Manchester (UK) today. There have also been unconfirmed reports of arrests of protesters in San Francisco and Boston, and rumours that the Marines have been called in.

A General Assembly is planned for today from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Broadway and Liberty St., NYC (Liberty Square).

Here's a link to cities all over the US where Occupy protests are taking place.

On Facebook this morning, I read an Occupy Montreal protest has been planned for October 15.

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Here's a video of mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday.
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