Tuesday, January 31, 2012

National Day of Action - February 1

On February 1st, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) will be holding a National Day of Action to bring attention to declining public support for post-secondary education and rising student debt.  The day begins at 9am at the MUN University Centre.  The premier and the education minister will be attending.

The event page is here.

An article in the MUSE about the event is here.

Watch a video of the event here. NTV coverage here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Occupy Art: international day of creative action

For images/video and a recap of the day, see our post at this link.

On February 12th, Occupy NL will be hosting a day of arts events in downtown St. John's as part of a world-wide day of creative action (#F12). All events are free of charge and everyone is welcome to participate. Events include:

12-2pm -- Art in the Park (Harbourside Park). Snow sculptures, music, magicians and clowns, as well as plenty of hot chocolate to keep us warm! Family event.

2-3pm -- Random Acts of Art (Water Street). Buskers, banners, guerrilla theater, stomp drumming and more. For an hour we will set up an artistic insurrection downtown!

3-5pm -- Poetry Slam (Rocket Room, above Rocket Bakery). An open event for local poets, storytellers, and spoken word artists. Come out and cheer on some of the province's most innovative wordsmiths. If you want to participate and spin us a yarn, please keep your poem or story under 5 mins in performance time so we can accommodate as many performers as possible.

7-10pm -- Art is my Occupation (Eastern Edge Gallery). This event includes performances and presentation of works by local artists working in various mediums. The evening show provides a forum for entertainment as well as education, a few hours when artists can come together to celebrate successes as well as to discuss common pitfalls and difficulties of the artistic occupation. 


Occupy NL invites artists of any stripe to take part in our events. No matter what medium you work in or how much work you have produced, we want to hear from you!  Artists, please see the call to creative action.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Steven Harper and Old Age Security

A followup to this post can be found here.

Canadians today live in an age of growing income inequality: the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer (see this post for more on this issue).  However this trend is mostly concentrated among working age people: among seniors there has been a dramatic decline in poverty over the last 40 years.

According to a report by the Conference Board of Canada, poverty rates among the elderly fell from 37% in 1971 to 6% in 1991 and has remained low since.  Canada is a global leader in this respect, an example to be emulated.  Recent remarks by Steven Harper indicate that he intends to reverse this hard won progress.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Open the House protest -- the view from the stairs

A small but vocal group of protesters came out in support of Occupy NL's rally at Confederation Building today. As part of the demonstration, Occupy NL delivered a letter to all MHAs with a list of topics we feel the house should be addressing. For more background on the rally, please see our previous posts, as well as the CBC article and the NTV video about the protest.

Today's protest (incidentally) comes on the heels of the release of the provincial Auditor General's report. In one section of special interest, titled "Refusal of Access to Required Information: Infrastructure Strategy", acting Auditor General Wayne Loveys notes that five government departments refused to provide his office with material. See also a story from The Telegram on this report.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Open the House -- join the conversation!

A lively discussion of the upcoming OPEN THE HOUSE is taking place on a number of platforms. Check out what people are saying and add your voice!

Facebook -- Open the House!

Twitter tags -- #occupynl #openthehouse

Blogger Comments -- Open the House (the return) 

 A few of the most discussed and commented on news items below:

 Keeping legislature closed a bad idea: Rideout (CBC News)

House debate not healthy, Dunderdale (CBC News)

Cutting through the noise (The Telegram)

Dunderdale on Critics (CBC / On Point)

Monday, January 23, 2012

NDP leadership candidates coming to St. John's

The federal NDP leadership is underway and the leadership candidates traveling the country, meeting people and gaining supporters.  This week we have two candidates in St. John's: Paul Dewar and Peggy Nash.

Paul will be celebrating his birthday at the Republic starting at 7 pm Wednesday night, and will be meeting with students at the MUN student centre from 11am to 12pm on Thursday.  Facebook event pages are available here and here.

Peggy's event is a kitchen party at the Hub from 5pm until 8pm on Friday night, where music, food and politics is on the menu.  A facebook event page is available here.

If you are interested helping to select the next leader of the federal NDP, you can sign up as member of the party here (the membership fee is five dollars).  The deadline for signing up is approaching soon, so don't delay!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Uniterra Towards 2015: Symposium Series

    • When
      Wednesday, February 8, 2012
    • Time
      3:30pm until 7:00pm
  • Where
    The Landing, UC (University Centre)
  • Description
    On Wednesday, February 8th, WUSC-MUN will be hosting the 2012 edition of the “Uniterra Towards 2015: Symposium Series.” The theme for this year is "food and water security." There will be three speakers, all speaking on contemporary local and international issues. The speakers are:

Open the House (the return)

The provincial government says that it has no legislation to pass and that the House of Assembly is dysfunctional, so they see no reason to have the house in session. But in an open and transparent democracy, our elected officials should be participating in important debates about pressing issues of the day. Occupy NL recognizes that there are a number of such pressing issues. These include:
  • Muskrat Falls - a candid discussion of all the options and reasonable alternatives to the mega project (see our earlier post for more info)
  • Fisheries Policy (i.e. the clash between OCI and unionized workers in Marystown and Port Union)
  • Poverty and Housing issues
  • Sustainability and Food Security
  • and the list goes on... (add your own issue in the comments below)

This is, of course, not the first time we have raised such concerns. Last year, Occupy NL organized a similar rally with the very same message, but it seems that the provincial government still has not gotten the memo. Join us at Confederation Building on January 26th at noon to make sure the message gets through this time!

Facebook event page

For information and media from our last Open the House rally, click the link below:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Protest Arts -- Graffiti


Love it or hate it, graffiti has been around for thousands of years. They say anyone can read the writing on the walls. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. These aphorisms, along with stencils, paint, and a message are all that it takes for a graffiti artist to be born.

The video below, an extract from Style Wars, offers a glimpse into the evolution of contemporary graffiti and street art. The title of the film oddly proclaims that it is "a hip hop documentary", even though the majority of the film is discussion with the graffiti artists and break dancers in Brooklyn. Truly, the documentary does take hip hop as a culture, more so than just a genre of music.

Local Scene

Occupy Wall Street Call for Papers

Dear Occupy Newfoundland,

We’re editing a collection of essays entitled From Wall Street to Main Street: The Regional Politics of Occupying, dealing with the crucial issue of how the politics of occupying is transformed as it moves from Wall Street to Main Streets all over the world. Please share our attached call for papers on listservs, facebook groups, and so on.

Thank you for your assistance


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wikipedia Blackout - Jan18

Wikipedia has today blacked out access to all English language pages in protest over proposed privacy and copyright acts (SOPA and PIPA) currently before the US Congress. To learn more, please visit Wikipedia's information page on the issue.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Question of Indices: Gross National Happiness vs. Gross Domestic Product

Gross domestic product is the standard way of understanding a country's economy. In a GDP model, economic growth, income, consumer spending, and other factors of monetary value contribute to an overall picture of a country. Within each country, one then looks at such things as unemployment, equalization payments, feasibility of financial institutions, public debt, etc. In some ways, economic indicators, like GDP, have come to be the paradigm for understanding our world and the problems we face, and in turn shape the way policy is formed. But if the primary goal is economic growth and success in terms of dollars, something essential -- the well-being of people -- is put in second place.

Gross national happiness, on the other hand, is a set of indices based on non-monetary factors, and has been used as a measure of success by Bhutan, a small country in the Himalayas. Decision making based on GNH asks, will the proposed action add or relieve stress from peoples lives? Will the proposed decision contribute to or detract from local culture? Will the proposed action make our people happier or ultimately take away from their happiness? These are simple questions demanding simple answers, and they show that sometimes what is asked is more important than the data retrieved.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Protest Arts -- Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant"

Less known today, Arlo Guthrie was a major figure of the 1960's protest movement in the United States. This status is largely due to one song -- a song that at almost twenty minutes long is more like an ambling tale told to the rhythm of a guitar. Quirky, catchy, but poignant, "Alice's Restaurant" encapsulated for many the spirit, and also the pitfalls, of the era. Below is a version in two parts, nicely illustrated by Andrew Colunga.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Public Forum on Muskrat Falls -- January 17th, 7:30 pm, Bruneau Centre, Memorial University

Professor Wade Locke will give a talk titled, "Is Muskrat Falls the Best Option?", to be followed by questions and discussion. The event took place on Tuesday, January 17th, 7:30 pm at the Bruneau Centre on Memorial University campus (download his powerpoint presentation here).

Dr. Locke's presentation comes on the heals of a paper by another Memorial University economist, Dr. James Feehan, released January 11. This paper (available in PDF) questions the necessity of proceeding with the mega-project in favor of other alternatives, which have been left largely unexplored.

Occupy NL in the News

Check out this interview with Ken Canning by a CP reporter and article in the Winnipeg Free Press.

"Money" presented by the 99% Film Fest

"Money makes the world go round. But where does money come from? How is it created? How does it run out?"

The fourth film in the 99% Film Fest is Money by Isaac Isitan.  The film will be shown on Tuesday January 24th at 7:30 pm, in room SN4068.  A map can be found here, the building is marked 21 and free parking is available in lot 15B.   Admission is FREE!

Update:  the date of the film has been changed to January 24th to avoid conflict with a public forum on Muskrat Falls.

"Filmed in Argentina and in Turkey at a time when both countries are going through the worst financial crisis in their history, the film exposes the root causes of the crisis. It looks at how structural adjustment programs, imposed by the International Monetary Fund, have destroyed the two countries' economies, tapping their resources for foreign interests and gutting the value of their national currency.

Money is the blood of the economy and the basis of exchange. Deprived of money, Argentinians have a revolutionary idea and create their own currency. For them, it is a question of survival.

This phenomenon is not limited to countries in crisis. There are over 3000 barter networks for goods and services based on local currency. In the heart of the United States, in Ithaca (NY), the director met with a community for whom the local currency is the expression of their political will to support and develop local exchange at a time when capital so easily crosses borders."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better

This best-selling book by British researchers Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett makes the case that high levels of income inequality lead to a wide range of health and social problems in modern wealthy societies (click here to see an excellent presentation these ideas by Wilkinson). The book is full of charts like the following (all based on peer reviewed research)

Surprisingly, these health and social problems do not correlate with average income

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

OccupyNL reported as last camp in Canada

Check out the coverage by the CBC. We are reported as the last occupy camp in Canada. If anyone knows of any other camps left in Canada, please post in comments.

Thanks to everyone involved with and supporting OccupyNL since its beginning on October 15th as part of the global occupy movement. Everyone is welcome to participate in our General Assemblies, which continue to happen three times a week:

Tuesdays at 8 PM (location to be announced, but likely at MUN for workshops);
Thursdays at 8 PM at Harbourside Park (for action reports); and
Sundays at 8 PM (at the Anglican Cathedral)

Click here to view the OccupyNL code of customs.
Also, to catch up on what we've been discussing, view the minutes of our meetings.

There's lots on the horizon!