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Entries in Occupy Wall Street (38)

Tuesday
Oct112011

Human Blunder Loses Occupy Wall Street $144,000

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Occupy Wall Street is anxiously waiting to find out if it will recoup $144,000 in credit card donations that were rejected over three days when the group’s online account, which is handled by an external fiscal agent, was temporarily frozen due to human error.

The Alliance for Global Justice first blamed one of the entities Occupy Wall Street is protesting -- Authorize.net, owned by Visa -- for the rejected donations and the freezing of another $40,000.

“I can’t help but believe that politics must be involved somewhere,” said Kathy Hoyt, a founding member of AFGJ, in a statement posted online that has since been removed, after the group realized it was its own blunder.

Chuck Kaufman, a national coordinator at AFGJ who is working hand-in-hand with the movement’s finance team, told ABC News Tuesday that his organization simply wasn’t used to processing so many donations.

“Our group normally processes a dozen donations a week, so all of a sudden Occupy Wall Street took off and it was 400 per day,” Kaufman said. “We just didn’t understand the banking architecture. We’ve never done anything on this scale before. I guess we should have communicated this to E-Onlinedata in the beginning.”

The sudden surge of activity acted as a red flag to E-Onlinedata, the company that acts as an intermediary between the cardholders and the banks. Kaufman said the company rejected $144,000 in donations and froze $40,000 that had already been donated but not yet pocketed by the group.

“I don’t blame the credit card companies for wondering what was going on,” he said. “Essentially they’re liable for any donations they process, so I understand where they’re coming from.”

E-Onlinedata did not return ABC News' request for comment by the end of their business day.

Kaufman’s group receives 7 percent of the Occupy Wall Street donations that it processes. Out of that, he estimated that 4 percent went to E-Onlinedata, leaving the Alliance for Global Justice with a total of 3 percent.

He stressed it’s not a profit, though.

“When Occupy Wall Street is gone in two years and the IRS comes knocking, we’re the ones who will provide the accounting,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct112011

Occupy Wall Street's 'Millionaires March' Through NYC

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Elizabeth Owens carried an oversized check as she participated in Tuesday’s Occupy Wall Street "Millionaires March" that took protesters through New York City's Upper East Side and past the homes of some of the city's richest residents.

"I want the millionaires to know that we won't stand for this. I pay more than they do in taxes," said Owens, a New York resident.

According to an Occupy Wall Street spokesman, about 2,000 protesters took part in the march, which started around 1 p.m. and made its way up Park Avenue toward the apartment buildings of billionaire David Koch, real estate developer Howard Milstein, hedge fund manager John Paulson and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon.

Protesters called for an extension of the state's so-called "millionaires tax," the highest income-tax rate on taxpayers with incomes of more than $500,000. The tax is due to expire in December.

"[The] tour will visit homes of some of the most well-known millionaires in New York City specially chosen for their willingness to hoard wealth at the expense of the 99 percent," organizers told CapitalNewYork.com.

Richard Bey of New York said Wall Street needs regulation and oversight.

"Half of the country is making less than $49,000 a year. Should you be taxed the same as a millionaire?" Bey said.

Upper West Side resident Joanna Cole, who said she was wealthy, carried a sign that read "Tax Me."

"I think I should pay more taxes," she told ABC News on Tuesday. "We are at a point in this country where we are seeing the greatest inequality in wealth in 125 years."

Meredith Balk, a retired Delta Air Lines worker, said that the working class used to have a secure lifestyle.

"Unfortunately, we bought into the perception and goals of the rich," she said. "This march is an excellent idea that will gain a lot of attention. We're going straight to the people who make these decisions."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct112011

Wall St. Protesters React to Russell Simmons' RushCard

Chris Polk/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, a presence at the Occupy Wall Street movement, has made high-fee cards directed at the working class a part of his empire.  Simmons is the founder of UniRush, the financial services company that has put the RushCard into the hands of more than 1.5 million people.

Last week, Simmons’ prepaid card was a cause of contention among protesters. Occupy Wall Street protesters asked the mogul about his credit cards. Simmons replied, “I don’t run sh*t” and “I’m ready to pay more taxes.”

The RushCard is an item Simmons has pushed as a tool to rebuild credit history.

“It’s very inexpensive, it builds credit, you can transfer your money card-to-card, you don’t have to go to Western Union and spend a fortune. You don’t have to get on line at a check cashing place,” Simmons told Forbes magazine in March.

But using prepaid cards may not be the best way to improve credit. A report from Consumers Union states, “it is not clear whether these nontraditional reporting mechanisms actually help consumers establish good credit and credit scores.” One prepaid company discloses the reporting and scoring may be effective in obtaining a mortgage, but will not help with other “loans, credit cards or insurance policies.”

Russell Simmons did not return ABC News' request for comment.

The RushCard has two plans listed on its Website: Pay As You Go and a Monthly Plan. The cards are favored by people who have trouble getting a bank account. The more expensive monthly plan for the RushCard charges prepaid users $9.95 a month and tacks on a convenience charge of $1 for every purchase made using the card. Users can add funds to the card as needed.

In a match-up of prepaid credit cards by CreditCards.com, monthly fees for such cards ranged from $0 to $14.95.

In his recent visit to Zuccotti Park, Simmons, a self-made millionaire and philanthropist, brought Kanye West, who wore a flannel shirt and several gold chains to the event.

Following his trip, Simmons tweeted about money and fame.

“There is nothing good about fame unless it inspires happiness in others. In fact w/out this recognition it causes sadness,” he continued.

“Don’t hate the players change the game," he wrote. "I want everyone to have greater opportunity then I was afforded #occupywallstreet.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct112011

Occupy Wall Street's Underbelly: Hacking, Threats of Violence, Filth

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- What's not to like about Occupy Wall Street? Plenty, say the movement's critics. They accuse Occupiers of everything from poor hygiene to making threats of physical violence against corporate executives. They warn that the movement may be trying to foment a bank run and cyber-hack the New York Stock Exchange or some other bulwark of the establishment.

An article in the New York Post takes Occupiers to task for drug use, strewing litter and copulating in the out of doors. "Zucatti Park," says the paper, smells "like an open sewer -- with people urinating and defecating in public." Indeed, one protestor was recently snapped by a photographer as the protester deficated on a police car.

ABC News reports that a faction of the computer hacker group Anonymous has threatened, in a gesture of sympathy with Occupy, to launch a cyber attack against the NYSE. In a YouTube video posted last weekend, a computer-generated voice warns, "Many people refuse to accept that Operation Invade Wall Street is a reality."

It goes on to say that while one faction of Anonymous is opposed to such an attack, another favors it. "Those who are going to be part of the attack," says the voice, "have a message to the NYSE: We don't like you. We do not forgive. We do not forget. NYSE, expect those of us who plan to destroy you." Anonymous has previously claimed credit for hacks against Sony and Bank of America.

On Monday afternoon -- the time of the threatened hack -- the NYSE website twice slowed so significantly that it became all but unusable by visitors, according to monitoring group Keynote Systems in San Mateo, Calif.

Vincent Schiavone, founder and chairman of ListenLogic, a company that gives corporate clients advance warning of cyber attacks and of other threats circulating on the Internet, calls Occupy-related threats "alarming." His company monitors a wide variety of online sources -- including Facebook and Twitter postings and even posted church sermons -- to see what topics, issues and grievances are increasing in volume, meaning in intensity and in number on the Internet.

An online "Occupy Threat Center" created by ListenLogic says the company's analysis of "over one million social media posts" indicates significant increases in all of the following:

-Social media activity from Occupy supporters and activists promoting physical destruction and violent action.

-Direct and specific threats from Occupy "hacktivist" groups against specific financial and law enforcement targets.

-Social media posts, videos and images targeting: financial institutions that issue mortgages and student loans and that initiate foreclosures; corporate entities that received bailout money or government subsidies; companies that pay high executive salaries or bonuses; and companies perceived to be paying extremely low taxes.

ListenLogic is detecting, he says, a change in the tone of discourse about the so-called 1 percent richest Americans.

There still are postings that talk about taxing the 1 percent more severely or even throwing them in jail. "But then," says Schiavone, "there's an increase in 'let's kill' them. We see 'eat the rich,' 'kill the wealthy.' There are images circulating of senior executives being decapitated, images of blood. Artists are releasing images of banks on fire."

Such extremism, he hastens to point out, is not representative of the objectives of most Occupiers. "Is that the movement? Absolutely not. They have been trying to be peaceful and respectful." But the movement harbors within it, he says, persons "a lot more radical."

Asked by ABCNews.com if his company is advising any of the companies that have been the focus of the protests, Schiavone said company policy prohibited him from making any comments about their clients. He did say that Listenlogic's clients included Fortune 500 companies covering finance, consumer package goods, healthcare, food and others.

ListenLogic, he says, only monitors: it makes no effort to distinguish between threats that are real and those that are false or merely bluster.

For example, ListenLogic is warning of a possible run on banks by flash-mob groups trying, en masse, to withdraw their savings from Bank America and other targeted banks. Schiavone says he is seeing an increase in web references to "run on the bank" and "bank transfer" -- independent of any mention of Occupy.

One such posting, which so far has drawn 100,000 viewers, can be found on YouTube. It purports to show depositors in St. Louis being restrained by a police SWAT team from entering a Bank of America branch.

One small problem: The YouTube account isn't true.

There's no question that a protest of some kind took place outside a Bank of America branch in St. Louis. But it took place before the existence of the Occupy movement, and no source confirms that it was an effort by depositors to withdraw their money. A spokesman for Bank of America categorically refutes that the incident was a bank run or that depositors were at any time prevented from withdrawing funds. In fact Shtfplan.com, one of the websites that first reported the incident as a "run," has since recanted its account, admitting that the incident was "not a reflection of Occupy protests."

Schiavone shrugs off the distinction between truth and fiction, making the point that anything seen by 100,000 people has the power to inspire imitation, and, in this instance, to be a threat to banks or other financial institutions.

"Not everything people say on the web is true," he allows. "But social media postings don't have to be true to hurt."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct112011

Occupy Wall Street's 'Millionaires March' to Pass by Homes of 'the Rich'

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Occupy Wall Street protesters will be making their way to New York City's Upper East Side Tuesday to march by the homes of some of the city's top moneymakers including News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch.

"[The] tour will visit homes of some of the most well-known millionaires in New York City specially chosen for their willingness to hoard wealth at the expense of the 99 percent," organizers told Capitalnewyork.com.

The march will begin at 12:30 p.m. and protesters will reportedly carry oversize checks to symbolize how much less the wealthy will pay when New York's 2 percent "millionaires' tax" expires in December.

The "Millionaires March," which was organized by the Working Families Party and New York Communities for Change, will pass by the apartment buildings of David Koch, real estate developer Howard Milstein, hedge fund manager John Paulson and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is in its fifth week and has spread to 150 U.S. cities and Europe.

Earlier Tuesday in Boston, about 100 demonstrators gathered as part of an Occupy Boston movement were arrested when they moved into an area outside of the designated protest space, Boston police said.

The Boston protest group started in late September and has planned assembly meetings every day during October.

One arrest related to the Occupy Chicago protests was made Monday for the alleged battery of a police officer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct102011

'One-Percenters' Respond to Occupy Wall Street Protests

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In the fifth week of the Occupy Wall St. movement, with protests having now spread to 150 U.S. cities and even to Europe, the apparent objects of that protest -- the richest 1 percent -- are starting to push back.

The grumbling from the wealthy took off with a cheeky sign posted in the windows of the Chicago Board of Trade last week, in a place where street protesters easily could see it, which proclaimed: "We Are The 1%."

No one is sure who put the sign up.

If a joke, it was one many protesters didn't get. "I thought [the sign] was extremely disrespectful," a special education teacher named Corey, 35, told TimeOut Chicago. Mike Polski, 53, from Joliet, disagreed, telling TimeOut, "These people wish they were the 1 percent! The 1 percent are billionaires."

He's wrong. According to IRS tax data, anybody earning $380,354 or more qualifies for membership in the top 1 percent. That would include some of the better-paid traders at the Board of Trade. (IRS data shows, too, that the top 1 percent holds 35.6 percent of the nation's wealth, not the 50 percent claimed by Occupiers.)

Whoever posted the sign, trader Eric Wilkinkson says he is in sympathy with it. The real parties responsible for the nation's economic ills are not the rich, in his view.

Says Wilkinson, "It's Capitol Hill and Obama that are the culprits. They're the ones not doing their jobs." He calls the Occupy movement misguided. Somebody rich, he says, "Should not be penalized for making headway in this society. They should pay their fair share of taxes, but they shouldn't be taxed more. They deserve their money."

Wilkinson under his nickname “the Wolfman” has gone out on the street to film a video giving his own take on the protest (see "twitter@wolfmansblog).

On Twitter, one anonymous person who claims to relate elevator gossip at tony investment bank Goldman Sachs -- which may have more one-percenters than anywhere in America -- tweeted: "What are they complaining about? People seem a hell of a lot happier in TGI Fridays commercials than they ever do at Gramercy Tavern." Another tweet said: "A protester sees my Benz, and wants to rip me out of it. A real man sees my car, and wants to work hard so he can buy it one day."

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain easily qualifies as a one-percenter, since his financial disclosure forms show that in 2010 and 2011 he earned generous fees from sitting on a number of corporate boards, including that of Whirlpool, which alone paid him $359,008.

Cain says people who are not rich have only themselves to blame. "Don't blame Wall Street," he told protesters, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "Don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself. It's not a person's fault because they succeeded. It is a person's fault if they failed. And so this is why I don't understand these demonstrations and what is it that they're looking for."

Billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday that he doesn't think too much of Occupiers, either, saying in an interview with New York City's WOR Radio, "If the jobs they're trying to get rid of in the city -- the people that work in finance, which is a big part of our economy -- go away, we're not going to have any money to pay our municipal employees or clean the parks or anything else."

And another thing, he says, "None of this is good for tourism."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct062011

Herman Cain Tells Occupy Wall Street Protesters to 'Blame Yourself'

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A pair of Republican presidential candidates had some harsh words for the protesters who've been hectoring Wall Street for the past three weeks: Cut out the "class warfare" and "blame yourself" for being poor and jobless.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said the demonstrators are coming across as "anti-capitalism." The former CEO of Godfather's Pizza said the Occupy Wall Street protesters are trying to distract the country from President Obama's "failed policies."

"Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks, if you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself!" Cain said. "It is not a person's fault because they succeeded, it is a person's fault if they failed. And so this is why I don't understand these demonstrations and what is it that they're looking for."

At a campaign stop in Florida Tuesday, Mitt Romney said the demonstrations were "dangerous" and "class warfare."

When ABC's Emily Friedman asked Romney Wednesday about the protests, the GOP frontrunner declined to elaborate on his previous comments, saying "I'm just trying to get myself to occupy the White House."

But while these Republicans are condemning the protests, some Democrats have sympathized with the thousands of people who have camped out in front of the New York Stock Exchange.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that the administration "understands" why people are frustrated.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson of Connecticut applauded the protesters for "standing up for what they believe in."

About 2,000 people were expected to descend upon lower Manhattan in New York City Wednesday as 15 of the country's largest labor unions joined the demonstrations in Zuccotti Square. Copycat protests have sprung up around the country from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles to support a wide range of causes, the most prominent of which is ending corporate greed.

"In New York and across the country, thousands of Americans have taken to the streets, certain of the morality of their message: bringing fairness to Main Street," Larson said in a statement. "The silent masses aren't so silent anymore. They are fighting to give voice to the struggles that everyday Americans are going through."

The Consumer Financial Protection Board's former interim chief, Elizabeth Warren, who just launched her bid in Massachusetts for Sen. Scott Brown's U.S. Senate seat, said protesters should, first and foremost, follow the law, but she added that "people on Wall Street broke this country, and they did it one lousy mortgage at a time.

"The housing market remains a bane for Massachusetts and the country," Warren said. "We need to...take serious and hard steps to get this housing market to level out so we can start rebuilding our economy."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct052011

Labor Unions Join Wall Street "Occupiers" for Mass Rally

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Representatives from no fewer than 15 of the country's largest labor unions will join the Occupy Wall Street protesters for a mass rally and march Wednesday in New York City.

The AFL-CIO, United Auto Workers, and Transit Workers' Union are among the groups expected to stand in solidarity with the hundreds of mostly young men and women who have spent the better part of three weeks sleeping, eating, and organizing from Zuccotti Square.

Their arrival is being touted as a watershed moment for the "Occupy" movement, which has now seen copycat protests spring up across the country. And while the specific demands of the "occupiers" remain wide-ranging and disorganized, the presence of the unions, implicitly inclined to making more direct demands, may sharpen their focus.

The protesters in Zuccotti Square are expected to march approximately one mile north to Foley Square, where they will be met by community and labor leaders. Then, they plan to match together back down toward Wall Street. They do not yet have a city-issued permit for the gathering, but are now pursuing one.

The "Union March" is expected to be the movement's largest yet and there is the potential for a significant number of arrests. The New York Police Department booked an estimated 700 protesters Saturday as they attempted to cross the Brooklyn Bridge, bringing the total number arrested to over 1,000 in less than three weeks.

While some on the ground welcome the concept of a showdown with the "one percent," organizers, who claim to represent "the 99 percent" of Americans they say are being trampled on by the financial elite, say they remain committed to "non-violent" protest.

The question, though, is what affect the presence of labor unions will have on the tenor of the demonstrations. To date, Occupy Wall Street has set their agenda during twice-daily "general assemblies" with large-scale votes and directly elected "working groups."

The unions do not operate this way. They are top-down organizations. Their leaders, though elected, make most decisions autonomously. They are well-versed in fashioning specific appeals, the very concept of which runs counter to Occupy Wall Street's purposefully abstract message.

While the concept of "becoming" or "creating space" for dissent, as organizers preach, might seem a bit far off to union vets, it's a bedrock of the "occupy movement." But to the hundreds who've made their beds on Zuccotti Park's stone encampment, the meta-narrative probably seems a little bit beside the point.

Whatever the risks entailed in opening up their action to different groups, with different acting ethics, they're reportedly happy for the new support.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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