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They’re calling it the (new) storm of the century, and if it lives up to the hype it might be the biggest in a hundred years or more. Approximately fifty million people lie in its path along the Eastern US and Canada. Thunderstorms, floods and blizzards are all expected, and some areas are already underwater (NYC, Atlantic City). New York City has begun evacuating coastal areas and shutting down schools and transit. Even Grand Central Station and the NYSE are closed. There’s even fears part of Brooklyn may be flooded by an overflow of toxic poop.

Of course, there’s no way to say for sure that this storm is a result of climate change

Over the past few months we’ve seen the near-complete melt of Greenland’s ice cover, and a record summer loss of Arctic ice. Projections for an ice-free arctic summer are being revised – once thought “possible” by the end of the century, many now fear it’ll come within the next few years. Such records are no longer uncommon – the six largest yearly melts ever measured have all occurred within the last six years.

But surely, it would be irresponsible to draw any conclusions about climate change….

Before that, there were the droughts and heatwaves. Many died, hundreds of thousands lost power, roads buckled and vehicles started to sink into melting asphalt. The US saw its worst drought in fifty years, devastating entire states’ corn and soy harvests.

Seriously, what possible connection could exist between droughts and severe thunderstorms?

I don’t want to imply that the dire predictions of climate scientists are coming true, because they aren’t. What we’re now witnessing is well beyond the “worst case scenarios” they presented. From the flooding of New York to the melting of the arctic and collapse of major farming regions, we were warned that these things might happen by the end of the century. All things considered, it could have been much worse – but as infamous as it may be, 2012 is just one year. What will things look like in a decade?

A close friend of mine, a doctor, often tells a story about a patient years ago who’d just been diagnosed with lung cancer. He was irate – why didn’t anybody warn him that decades of cigarettes would lead to that!?! A bit confused, she asked, “surely, somebody must have warned you…?”, but he simply replied “…yeah…they told it might cause cancer. If they’d told me it was going to, then I would’ve quit”. Our planet, it seems has a very similar philosophy. Like cancer, we won’t know whether our bad behavior has destabilized the climate until it already has, and at that point it may well be too late to reverse the process. For all we know, we may already have passed this “tipping point”.

How many major American cities need to sink before climate change is taken seriously?

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Earlier today, during a march associated with the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, the NYPD kettled and mass-arrested demonstrators on the Brooklyn Bridge. Reports are sketchy so far, but as many as 400 may have been pinched.

Their crime was walking on the roadway (instead of the originally planned pedestrian walkway). Though police initially warned marchers not to take the roadway, little was done until hundreds were already on the roadway. This has prompted allegations that it was a trap, and given the outrage over last weekend’s roundup, and whether or not that’s true, this says a lot about the treasured legal status of automobile routes. Why should a little thing like public protest be allowed to get in the way of people driving wherever they want?

The commitment to nonviolence, so far, has been strict and inspiring. Not only does this take a lot of discipline (and isn’t always possible), but in the face of pepper-spray and kettling tactics, it takes a lot of personal courage as well. I know it’s not easy to stay peaceful under these conditions, but the fact that it’s happened is a really good sign.

Despite this crackdown, the protests have clearly been growing. Occupy LA began today, and the union support is just rolling in. Though, regrettably, the rumours of Radiohead, yesterday, were greatly exaggerated.

Inspector Bologna, the now-infamous white-shirted officer caught on film pepper-spraying girls at the Wall Street protests last weekend is fast becoming a symbol of these protests, much like “Officer Bubbles” at the G20. Due to hundreds of complaints from the public, NY District Attorney Cyrus Vance has announced an investigation into his conduct. If only we saw such a swift response from the guardians of “justice”….

Not all is well with the authorities, however, as Mayor Bloomberg is now hinting at the possibility of a more severe crackdown.

Salon.com has an interesting tale from a citizen journalist caught up in last Saturday’s arrests. He talks a lot about the role of grassroots media in stories like this, as well as telling the stories of others he met in jail, arrested simply for taking pictures.

Business Insider has a list of unions lending their support to the Wall Street protests, including a recent vote from the New York Transit Workers Union, as well as support from the United Pilots union, Teamsters and IWW.

(Two stories in a row, outside the radical press, are mentioning the IWW. That in itself is an important victory.)

Pictures and clips are now rolling in from Occupied San Francisco and Boston is set for tonight after an assembly earlier this week. Oh, and Radiohead’s playing at the New York occupation site today at 4pm.

After a march of several thousand people last weekend, an occupation has begun in Zuccotti Park on Liberty St in Lower Manhattan. Braving rain, arrests and censorship, news is beginning to spread.

Estimates for Saturday’s march ranged from one to five thousand people. The atmosphere was festive and nonviolent, but a heavy police presence nonetheless blocked them from many streets. On Sunday a general assembly was held in order to set directions and demonstrate direct democracy in action. In the two days since then, protests have continued, through yesterday’s miserable rains and are continuing to get some attention. This morning there were a number of arrests as police did what they could to dismantle the camp, targeting people for malicious use of megaphones, tarps and sidewalk chalk. Nevertheless, protesters continue to occupy the square and are vowing to remain. Another general assembly was held tonight, and the story is beginning to spread.

One part of this story really caught my attention: it seems occupywallstreet.org was added to yahoo mail’s spam filters in a very serious way. Attempting to send this address got messages blocked and accounts singled out for “suspicious activity” (from then on requiring Captcha text to send messages). Yahoo has since apologized, calling it a mistake, but this has done nothing to calm the sea of angry web users. This sort of action sets a very bad precedent – what rights do we really have using a corporation’s email accounts?

These protests may be small, so far. North American protests usually are (what does that say about us?). Nonetheless, they’re inspiring. The seeds of the overseas directly democratic revolution are finally being sewn on this continent, and it’s happening in the heart of the American financial district. For all of our sakes, let’s hope it grows.

Occupy Wall St @ Adbusters
Occupywallst.org
Pictures from today
Excessive Police Force in Occupy Wall Street Arrests (with Video) @Death and Taxes

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