Monday, 24 October 2011

Occupy: Out with the old, in with the new

I'm happy to say that since my last post Occupy Edmonton is doing very well. Edmonton (and the whole world) showed tremendous support tonight. I dare say Occupy Edmonton is nearing the amount of critical mass it needs to carry forward as a major movement. But where to?

All around the world it seems this is becoming the next big question: What is next for the Occupy movement? Will they start political parties? Will they make demands? I've been thinking about it for sometime from a theoretical point-of-view.

Some of the people who I talked with might remember me saying that ending compound interest for instance might be a good demand. But as this week has gone on I started asking the question 'why should there be demands?' What the people are upset about is obvious. Forcing them to make demands is almost an act of submission in itself, just wrapped in a confidence bow. Sure specifics need to be provided, by why is all of the onus on the people to come up with a credible "societal equitable business plan" and present it to big business/government when they would have us believe they make the big bucks because only they know how to make the big decisions or plan the big plans.

Obviously this stance by the system is completely contradictory. It serves a purpose though, it allows them to play both sides of the field. Say Occupy does make a plan or demands and we present them; it's highly likely the system comes back and says that it had it's "experts" analyze our plan and it simply won't work for one reason or another. When dealing with a systemic issue as large as we are the number of straw-man arguments is endless, there are countless ways we could restructure and everyone has a different idea what that restructuring looks like. Its simple to come up with an argument against any system, as the perfect system is yet to be invented. If no demands are made at all we make an argument for the system in that "we do not know what we want". This isn't desirable either.

So seemingly both avenues are cut off. But wait! There is another!! What if the demand is Occupy itself? Think about it. What if instead of demanding what the people need, the people are actually just doing what the people need? Could our society (for now mostly the U.S. although Canada's turn is coming soon) actually have already reached a point where confidence in the system is so low the people are simply shedding it?

Look at the U.S. right now, Occupy tent cities everywhere. They are beginning to turn into miniature self-governed communities. If these continue to grow.. what significance is the government anyway? If the government can't take care of the people and is just a revolving door and shell game with the banks, what good is it? What service exactly is it providing?

This week it occurred to me that the world just might have been looking in the wrong spot. While we were sitting and waiting for demands, we witnessed the birth of a globally supported, internet based governing system. A system based on direct democracy and consensus.

Lets be honest here and admit society is collapsing, and everything is not ok. As a society we have neglected and underestimated many fundamentals to life which have been lost in our current standard of living. Perhaps without even realizing it the human race is already adapting for the inevitable low-energy future just around the corner.

Katie from OccupyYEG says "As one voice, and one individual I am proud to state, I am a part of the Occupy Revolution. I will not stand silent, I will not relocate and I will not give up. We do not have hope, we are hope."

Maybe more than she even knows.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Reflections on Occupy / My experience with Occupy Edmonton

"We Will Lead Every Revolution Against Us" -- Theodor Herzl
It's unfortunate I have to write this post as I have been an avid supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement before it even began in the United States. During the first week there was a media blackout at which point I told many people that "there is an occupation of Wall Street going on right now". "Yea right", they said "I would have heard about it on the news.". Before Occupy Wall Street even started I have been writing about it abstractly. So before you assume I am an Occupy hater, realize that to me this movement isn't a prime time fad.

Sure enough, a few days after this embarrassing act by the NYPD, Occupy gained internet fame:

At this point mainstream media had no choice but to report on the growing protests and in the U.S. a new symbol of hope for America's youth has risen to create a uniting front against corruption and fraud. Most of what you see on TV regarding the movement is heavily doctored to sway your opinion regarding it. Following the original livestreams is the only true way to know you are not being lied to during this trying time.

In the U.S. the media made a fatal mistake, they attempted to ignore the message instead of control it in hopes that the movement would get bored and go home. In the week the media was ignoring the protests, hundreds of thousands found out about it and instantly lost all trust in anything media was telling them. Control is essential in public relations. This failure has ensured the U.S. movement became a success.

In Canada, it seems media and government learned from the mistakes of the U.S. We decided to control the message right away, taking this power away from Occupy itself and giving a heads up to any "activists" who always seem to end up where the cameras are. Articles like this showed up 10 days in advance. In fact on October 2nd I made a note of it on Twitter:

 From this point on I decided to be cautious until I could confirm it's legitimacy as it was obvious that parts of this movement were not naturally occurring as they were in the U.S. In the U.S. the people did not need the mainstream media to tell them about the event to make it successful and here they were practically promoting it. This is a red flag.

Sure enough when I discovered that there would be an Occupy Edmonton, Mike Hudema's name (the Greenpeace mouthpiece) showed up as one of the organizers. About a year ago I contacted Mike Hudema about a possible interview regarding his views on peak oil, he never did respond. Suffice to say, I don't think he has any interest in representing this:

It looks more like he's interested in stuff like this. Greenpeace stuff, it looks like. I'd like to direct your attention to this article put out by CSIS. Does that sound like a government that wants to promote Anti-Globalization to you? How much have you heard about Anti-Globalization and banking fraud in relation to Occupy Edmonton? I'm not talking about "Ending Capitalism" here. I'm talking about addressing events like this:
Some of the world’s strongest banks have profited from an emergency credit facility set up by the US Federal Reserve to shore up confidence in the global financial system, according to a Financial Times analysis of data released by the Fed..
Rabobank of the Netherlands and Toronto-Dominion of Canada, two of the only banks in the world with triple A credit ratings, used more than $20 billion in cumulative Taf loans.
Ed Clark, TD chief executive, said that using Taf was logical even though his bank never had a liquidity problem. “That wasn’t how we made a lot of money. But you make a dollar here, you make a dollar there. What’s the spread you make on a billion dollars?” he said.
My bet would be little or none. 

I don't know much about the other two media moguls of Occupy Edmonton. Mike Thomas (who blogs at seems to be your run-of-the-mill environment activist. I know even less about Chelsea Taylor. I don't watch TV, so I haven't really been keeping up with interviews.

On Tuesday, I went down during the day, while taking a moment from work (If you don't get it yet, Occupy isn't about hippies who don't want to work contrary to the opinions of the likes of Michael Moore, and the other camera whores that pretend to be "alternative". Hey Michael, if you love socialism so much why are your documentaries *pay only* unlike which is pro-capitalism and puts theirs out for free?) and during my time there some Greenpeace activists were across the street from the Occupy camp. With my megaphone I told them they should come over and join us, in response they smiled but decided to stay across the street. I made a mental note that this was fairly strange considering the Greenpeace spokes-person on oilsands was just across the street. Red flag number 2.

I also happened to witness a certain conversation between Mike Thomas and another participant at Occupy Edmonton. I will not release this persons name on this blog as he is not recognizable via media. Mr. Thomas was worried about some routine security problems and required a "chief of security". He assigned this position to the participant I was having a conversation with and told him he could gather volunteers. I offered to be a volunteer but due to my schedule I never actually ended up participating in any "security services". He went on to mention that it would be confirmed at the general assembly that night and consensus on the new position would be taken, but that in the midterm the position was required until then. I could not remain at Occupy long enough to witness the General Assembly myself, so I cannot say if that happened or not. For the moment I thought nothing of it and continued enjoying the protest until I left.

Throughout history revolutions have happened a lot, and yet they usually end up in tragedy. Take Egypt for instance. Often a desperate population will latch on to anything that even resembles a leader in the hopes it will bring freedom, even if they don't have their best interests at heart. Hitler, the Russian revolution, the list goes on and on. A disenfranchised population combined with demoralization and copious amounts of propaganda can easily be manipulated into following a Napoleon into their own battle of Waterloo, and that is exactly what I feel is happening to Occupy Edmonton.

By the time I got home Tuesday, I had a direct message waiting for me on Twitter from one of my followers asking if I knew what was going on with some incident involving a chief of security banning representatives from This was the first I had heard of it, and I had only passing familiarity with the Kikki Planet blog. I replied that I would look into it further.

Now one thing Occupy has been doing (for the most part) is taking the moral high ground. It's why they are winning. It's why the LAPD has a twitter account dedicated to supporting Occupy. Truth and honesty always win, and since this movement revolves around corruption it is ever more important. While the system puts out failures, the people stand united and outraged yet courteous and honest. New York avoided eviction by cleaning the park better than the company hired to clean it had. That's how you win against these assholes. That's how you avoid public relations nightmares. While media and big business plays friendly towards Occupy, they are just waiting for that big PR fuck up that will make their day!

I put on my sleuthing hat and away we went. First I had to catch up on the situation, reading Twitter, Facebook, comments on articles. I then decided to contact KikkiPlanet and see if I could get more details. At this point I was simply interested in avoiding a PR disaster. Occupy has enough trouble gaining support in Edmonton it certainly didn't need this. After conversing with and determining I had enough background on the situation, I decided to write a letter to act as a Proposal for the Occupy Edmonton General Assembly by proxy. I had too much work to do to make it down in person so I left the delivery to someone I felt I could trust regarding the subject matter. had positively confirmed to me that the "security chief" in question was the participant I met earlier.

Here is the proposal I wrote:
Good Evening Occupy YEG,

  This is a proposal by proxy and thank you to the one reading it.

  It's come to my attention that there has been a somewhat hostile exchange
between Occupy and the blog While I was not directly involved
in any of the exchange I decided of my own accord to try and mediate a peace.

Occupy is very important for myself, and all of it's participants. We will
face many struggles and proper representation of what we are, and what our
opinion is very important. I think we can all agree that no one opinion
represents this movement. I think we can also recognize that with no leaders
we all are responsible for the movement's actions.

I therefore propose to the GA that a formal apology is constructed by the
group for the ill-will has received. I'd ask our participants
to hold no ill-will towards any media, as I am confident that when they see
what we are really about they will be fair.

I believe in our movement, and that the GA can properly address this issue,
and all parties can move on and focus on the important problems in society. has requested to me to relay that they wish to publish an
unedited version of tonight's GA baseline minutes. Please oblige.

I waited for word of the result.

A few hours later the person I had asked to deliver my proposal returned. They told me that they had delivered my proposal to someone named 'Rob' and he promised it would be read. During their time at Occupy Edmonton they had a chance to talk with Mike Thomas. They asked him about the exchange between Occupy Edmonton and KikkiPlanet. His reply was that the security chief position has never existed and that Occupy is being set up. I then confirmed this response with KikkiPlanet who had been told the same thing by Occupy Edmonton even though she sent them emails from the "security chief" in question which proclaim her to be banned. I have been forwarded all correspondence, it is authentic.

So there is now a cover-up underway. Occupy Edmonton was facing a small bump in terms of PR stemming from a negative blog post from seemingly based on misunderstanding. They are now facing failure. The person I sent down to Occupy told me they were shocked how many times Mike Thomas said "I'm in charge".

Charging into Waterloo.


I hope OccupyYeg can work past this issue and truly respect the spirit of Occupy. Here's a hint about what that spirit stands for (we're better than politicians, aren't we?):

Oh and this has nothing to do with my post, but here is a true hero:

Friday, 14 October 2011

#YEGArena Tales: Santa Katz and the gift of debt

The mystery surrounding Stephen Mandel's trip to New York is over and the word is in; Daryl Katz and Stephen Mandel have a new deal for the city. For those who haven't been following Edmonton's newest attempt to catch the dangling carrot of becoming a "big city", prior to this meeting two main sticking points about the arena existed:
  1. A non-compete clause with Northlands
  2. $100million in funding outstanding
Post New York it seems they managed to "sort out" the non-compete clause. Katz has withdrawn this request and has instead replaced it with a public-private marketing campaign for the city of Edmonton (I *think* it's about the city, although it sounds more like a campaign about visiting Edmonton's new arena). Considering the ridiculousness of such a request of the city in the first place I don't exactly see this as "productive" since the $100million (arguably the most important sticking point) is still outstanding.

What else has changed? Well it appears the city will now be putting up 100% of the cost up front, with a 30-year "rent-to-own" style lease of 5.5million / year for the $100million Katz was supposed to contribute. Of course Mandel says the city would "ensure" that the $100million is paid, but with the city's *amazing* negotiation skills how confident can anyone really be on that point?

The live chat was again filled with the pro-arena Nike addicts, chanting their "Just do it" slogan. Seriously guys, you watch too much TV. Last weekend while visiting with my parents we all watched the game. I found it shocking how many Money Mart and other payday loan commercials I saw. Thinking about it though, is it really so shocking? Here you have a group of people whose argument for hastily spending a large portion of taxpayer dollars while taking on considerable risk is "Just do it", Money Mart must be getting rich.

So it would appear that Santa Katz this year brings us the gift of debt. Of course we can be completely confident this loan (give away?) will be paid. We can be confident of this because their reasoning for needing public money in the first place is that the industry would go bankrupt otherwise. As we all know, taxpayer dollars are magical and never go bankrupt. So yes, the new twist of logic is "We can't go to a bank and get a loan, we'll loose money. We can however go to the city and get a loan and pay that back 100%".

No investor could realistically take Santa Katz seriously, and that is probably why he doesn't have any.