Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Updates 10/31/12

Hello everyone.

Happy Halloween, Samhain, All Hallow's Eve, or whatever it is you call today. I'm taking my namesake to school today (meaning I'll be dressed up as a kitty.) If you have a problem with me dressing up, just remember that I'm a capable adult who makes my own decisions, and I have more important things to worry about than your obsession with other peoples' dressing habits. :)

We have a bunch of news related to Sandy today, all brought to us by Chuck. So I'm putting that under this heading, and thanks Chuck!

      -- At NYU, some brilliant designer put the generators side by side in the basement, including the emergency generator. When the basement flooded, all the generators failed, leaving the hospital to evacuate hundreds of patients, with many of them in critical condition. In some cases, nurses had to ride with infants, helping them to breathe with squeeze bags. At Bellevue, the basement floor generators failed, and workers made a human chain to pass containers of fuel up 13 flights of stairs in order to keep the patients safe. 

      -- In NYC, evacuees were mostly safe in the shelters, but one group of people had to fight the city and the storm. Homeless people were allegedly turned away from evacuation shelters. Homeless shelters allowed more people in than they are allotted, going over capacity. Churches and outreach groups attempted to help the homeless get off the streets, but there was just not enough room for everyone. When something like this happens, it becomes obvious that this is a daily problem for these people, rather than just a freak event.

      -- Occupy has gone from protesting to recovery and relief after Sandy passed through NYC. Occupy has joined up with and to help the people of the city. They have organized and are canvassing neighborhoods to see what they can do to assist. The first link provides more of the story, and the second also lists how you can get involved.

-- [Chuck] Here is an interesting little video of spoken word poetry with a song behind it, titled "The Revolution is Televised, but You are not Watching.

-- In Sacramento, protesters are pushing back against a new ordinance that restricts their freedom to protest. This link provided a video with interviews concerning why the protesters feel it is stifling, and what others have to say about it.

-- In Belfast, protesters have been Occupying an abandoned bank, but now something dangerous has happened. A fire broke out in the bank last night, while no one was present at the site. No evacuations were necessary at the empty building, and no one was injured. Officials are investigating the cause of the blaze, and the amount of damage caused is not yet clear.

-- In Portland, Occupiers have been fighting back against the foreclosure of a home owned by Patricia Williams and Darren Johnson. The couple currently have a case in court concerning the home, but that did not stop their mortgage company from demanding an eviction, resulting in riot cops swooping in and pepper-spraying protesters. Police evicted the family, allowing Patricia (who has a pulmonary disease) to get her oxygen but not her medicines from the home. In this link, you can read the story and follow an interior link to a live-update page, where a play-by-play of the events can be found.


To contact me, email Thanks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Updates 10/30/12

Hello everyone.

It's getting quite cold around here. Obviously not as cold as other locations in the US right now, but still cold, especially when you compare it to last year's never-ending heat wave. Ninety degrees in November then, now 40 in October. My thoughts go out to all of you dealing with Sandy. I hope you are all safe and sound.

-- In New York City, the tides have broken the previous height record set way back in the early 1800s. Cars have been viewed floating down the street, and the infamous Wall Street Bull is reportedly underwater. For more info, follow the link. (I personally hope that all the homeless people were able to find shelter safely.)

--[Chuck] We are all intelligent enough to know that Sandy isn't your typical storm. Is climate change a part of this strange system? Bill McKibben says yes, and that Sandy should be a huge wake-up call to those who keep denying this is happening. 

-- [Chuck] While unemployment seems to be going down, many of us are still finding ourselves without work and without hope that this could change anytime soon. Here, Al Jazeera brings us an analysis and smartly-written ideas on how this could all be fixed, but why it's unlikely to happen.

-- [Chuck] In California, the ads and debates about GMO labeling continue to rage. Not all farmers are happy with GMO crops, and here is one to tell you why. Out of concern for his family, this farmer moved away from GM crops, but has watched as more and more farmers have the seeds forced on them, or are sued by companies like Monsanto for "stealing patented crop varieties" when the GM crops accidentally mix with theirs.

-- An executive from the Bank of England gave a speech in London last night to financiers and students, but this was no ordinary speech. Andrew Haldane is the executive director for financial stability at the bank, and in his speech he declared that Occupy was correct about its assumptions concerning their analysis of the global financial system. He said that Occupiers were not only morally accurate, but also that their opinions on inequality and debt levels were right on track. Haldane is the first to explicitly agree with the Occupiers, though others in the financial system have hinted at their agreement.

-- The Federal Judge in San Francisco is furious at the Oakland Chief of Police. Judge Thelton Henderson appointed a federal court monitor to oversee department compliance, but the monitor's emails to Police Chief Howard Jordan never responded. Judge Henderson ordered an investigation concerning why Jordan was not answering, and found that last year the Chief had his department put filters in his email, meaning that every message with the words "Occupy Oakland" in it was sent directly to his junk mail. Jordan claims he forgot the filters were in place.


To contact me, email Thanks.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Updates 10/29/12 - Happy Anniversary to us!

Hello everyone!

Today is the one-year anniversary of us here at Occupy Updates Daily. I'm going to give you the news, followed by a little anniversary story from me! This is actually somehow the 365th post, exactly on the one year date. I'm quite surprised at that, since I did miss some days. Other days I posted twice, so I suppose that makes up for it.

-- As Hurricane Sandy lumbers into the East Coast, most people have taken shelter. But there are some that cannot. Thousands of homeless people cannot fit into the New York City homeless shelters, and may be being turned away from evacuation centers. These people have no where to hide from the approaching storm. The trains, where homeless people can get out of bad weather, have been shut down. In this story, a reporter approaches homeless people to ask what they will do. The shortest answer is: They don't know.

-- Climate activists in the UK have gone to new heights. At least 17 of them climbed to the tops of cooling towers in one of the new gas-fired power stations in West Burton. The activists have enough supplies to last them a week. As for now, the cooling towers have been shut down. Five others were arrested in their attempts to gain access. The group of activists, called No Dash for Gas, opposes the UK's new government plans to green light up to 20 new gas plants, which cause pollution and contribute to rising energy costs.

-- [Chuck] Climate activists aren't just in the UK. Here's an image of Occupy Chicago joining together to "End Climate Silence."

-- Occupiers and other protesters in Philly are outraged about the fundraiser set for a fired police officer who lost his job after he sucker-punched a woman in the face, leaving her bleeding on the sidewalk. The Fraternal Order of Police did not specifically run the fundraiser, but they allow any member to use their building for fundraising once a year. Protesters commented that their inaction on this subject makes it seem as if they support the officer's actions, which both the Chief of police and the Mayor have decried.

-- [Chuck] This startling and eye-opening article is one we all need to read. If you've paid attention to the news lately, you have likely heard that a nanny killed two children in NYC before slitting her own throat. But that isn't all to the story. Only tiny mentions have been made of who the children were, namely, children of a CNBC executive. CNBC had run a story that named names, government organizations, bankers, and businesses involved in a $43 trillion dollar money laundering scandal just the day before. Soon after the children were killed, the CNBC story disappeared with no explanation. These children's deaths, and the strange alleged actions of their nanny (who had been previously seen earlier in a pleasant mood) put a suspicious light on the Corporate Media's story. Considering that this is not the first attack on an executive this week, it's terrifying to see what these people can do when they want you to shut your mouth.


One year ago today, I sat down in front of my computer to gather up information concerning Occupy movements around the world, and share them in one easy place. That was my goal. To make it simpler to find the stories we know are out there. I had watched the Occupy movement begin to grow at a tremendous rate. I saw our own movement get attacked by police. I wanted to do something to help, even though I was sickly and bound mostly to my home. The blog became my voice.

As time went on, Occupy grew and grew. Police swept in under commands to shut it down. People were seriously injured, almost killed. Thousands have been arrested. People who aren't involved with the movement scorned us all as socialist, communists, or somehow both. They saw our protests as standing up against authority, which they take for granted. 

But as the movement grew, things began to change. While other people still see us as a confused group of hippies, many more have realized that there is no denying the impact Occupy has had. Our main group of Occupiers has split into multiple factions fighting for local, federal, and global change. There are environmentalists, equal rights advocates, socialists, anarchists, communists, conservatives, liberals, and many, many, more labels that people in our groups can fit into. When we split into smaller groups, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Sociologically, many groups split and come back together as they are growing, and continue to fight for change.

They can't deny that we have changed things. Awareness of faulty practices on Wall Street is the highest it has ever been. Foreclosures have been stopped at the hand of Occupy. The federal government is suing the banks. Companies are being forced to change their shoddy practices. Occupy has revolutionized the media, moving people away from Corporate Media tactics and into social ranks. There are college courses based on the movement. Homeless people are finding their voices within our welcoming arms. Class warfare and income inequality are real, and people see that now. Income inequality was even brought up in the Presidential debates, all thanks to Occupiers. Several cities have opened shelters, changed tactics against the homeless, and moved their money to local banks, all because Occupy was there.

It's amazing. Even the blog has changed. I started out writing short, simple pieces explaining what was going on. Then I added links. Shortly thereafter, I began to get contributors. People sent me the stories they believed needed to be heard. The blog began to materialize on Facebook pages. Livestreamers read the news each morning to their viewers. The Occupied Wall Street Journal emailed me to ask if the blog could be a part of their site. Multiple other local Occupy sites followed. To this day, I have roughly 25,000 unique page views, but I will never know how many people read my blog. It is shared so widely, and I am so happy to help. Some of my contributors became regular, like Chuck. Others pop in and out, bringing important information with them. 

I've changed as well. If you have been reading over the past year, I've given you some snippets of my life, so you know a bit about me. In the past year, I've graduated with a Bachelors in Linguistics, spent the summer looking for work unsuccessfully, for the most part, and started school again as a Masters in Sociology. I had surgery, decided to return to Linguistics, had a tooth pulled (actually a few since this blog started,) and went back to school. In the past year, I've been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, secured an amazing Fellowship, and fought with both the administration and financial aid. (Still fighting with financial aid.) My brother just had his 24th birthday, which is amazing for a child who was supposed to die at 16. He's on a breathing machine and in a wheelchair. He has Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy. He may not make it much longer, since my mom says he has been sleeping a lot more lately. But you never know, since he does tend to stay up very late playing computer games. In the past year, I've begun to walk with a cane for balance, heavily leaning on it when the weather changes. I've opened my eyes and realized that I was an atheist, and that regardless of what anyone says, it isn't a horrible thing and I still have my morals and ethics. 

I believe that we've all changed. This movement has changed us, and we have changed this movement. We are stronger and smarter than we were. We are aware of what lengths people and governments are willing to go to in order to keep us complacent. We are aware that social inequality exists, no matter how strongly it is argued against. We are aware that we, as humans, are damaging our environments. 

We are brilliant.

We are kind.

We are open.

We are Occupy.

And we aren't fucking leaving.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Updates 10/28/12

Hello everyone.

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of this blog, and I'm still not sure what I'm going to do for it. I'll figure something out. 

-- [Chuck] Austerity is a method being used more and more in countries around the world, but is it a good way to go? In the first link, Al-Jazeera visits Spain to find out what the human costs of this economic method really are. In the second link, meet the "Fix the Debt Coalition," a group of CEOs joining together to push austerity on us here in the USA, claiming that they know best how to get the country out of debt, even though many of their corporations use sneaky but legal practices to avoid paying taxes on their collective billions of dollars.

-- [Chuck] Hurricane Sandy is rapidly approaching the East Coast of the US, and no one seems to know exactly why this is happening or what's going on. From Al Jazeera, here is one of the best written reports I've seen so far on the hurricane/tropical storm/Frankenstormocalypse (as I've seen some of my East Coast friends call it), where they discuss the path the storm has been on, previous damage it has caused, where it might hit, and how bad it might be. Secondly (link from me,) Business Insider shows us just how freaked out The Weather Channel is about this storm, providing us with some of the comments made by one of their meteorologists, who seems mildly confused and startled to say the least.

-- Here's a link that I found yesterday, but was also sent in by Chuck (great minds think alike?) concerning an article published, then retracted, by CNN. Once you publish something on the internet, however, it stays there, like it or not. The article concerns a study written by researchers from the University of Texas, which declares in several roundabout ways that women are heavily affected by their menstrual cycle, which can have a huge impact on the way they vote. The article makes women sound like crazed, hormonally imbalanced creatures whose entire belief systems depend on what time of the month it is. (My analysis, not theirs.) Read the whole thing at Daily Kos, because CNN took it down after they received massive amounts of complaints.

-- Media sites are freaking out over the happenings of one woman's life. Sandy Hessler became a big of a media target last year when she "abandoned" her banker husband and children to protest with OWS. Now, she's back in their radar after divorcing the man, citing irreconcilable differences. She received roughly $85k in the divorce settlement. Her now ex-husband reported his income as roughly $65k a year, as a Bank of America financial advisor. The media seems to be attacking this woman for the $85k she received in the settlement, which included cash and his 401(k). The husband retained the house and custody of the children. (Editor's Opinion: Thousands of couples divorce every year. This 19 year marriage coming to an end may have been a result of her protesting with OWS, or it may have been a long time coming. We don't know that. There are plenty of divorces with much larger settlements than this, including things like alimony, which I did not see mentioned here. Why is it okay for the media to come out and blame this woman for her choices in life? This marriage is over. The parties have settled. The choices are made. I don't feel it is helpful to anyone; not the woman, nor her ex-husband, and definitely not their children, to put the massive media's blame on one person in a relationship when it fails. Don't you people have more important things to report about, like, say, the assholes in that austerity list up above?)


To contact me, email Thanks for reading and sharing. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Updates 10/27/12

Hello everyone.

I had a bad night last night when it comes to sleeping. I didn't fall asleep until after 4 in the morning. Today, I got up around noon, and checked the mail to find that during my stay at the hospital, there is a chance that I received some of the tainted medication from that facility that has been in the news. If I did receive it, there is a chance that I could have contracted fungal meningitis, which has so far killed 25 people due to the outbreak. I've been pretty consistently crappy feeling ever since I had the surgery, so we just think it would be better to play it safe and get me checked out.

Let's get to the news, which is mostly Chuck. I'm also keeping descriptions fairly short, so you'll have to actually go to the links today. Sorry about that. 

-- [Chuck] Seattle will soon have spy drones in the air, as the FAA has approved the police department's use of them.

-- [Chuck] Take the pledge to avoid Walmart on Black Friday and support the strike. Here's some info about the pledge, and about the Walton family.

-- [Chuck] What's going on in the world? Noam Chomsky discusses who actually OWNS the world in this video.

-- [Chuck] Alberta residents have declared the Canadian Tar Sands mining illegal, and may have the grounds to back it up. Keep fighting!

-- [Chuck] What are some of the dangers of fracking? Find out here.

-- Occupiers across the world prepare to stand up and rally against debt. This is an extremely interesting article.

-- The multi-million dollar ad blitz against GMO labeling may be changing people's minds to vote against it.


To contact me, email Thanks. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Updates 10/26/12

Hello everyone.

I'm sorry the blog has been bouncing around on time frames. My sleep schedule has gone totally out of whack since I've had all these issues. However, my mouth is healing up, and I'm starting to feel better. 

-- Occupy Oakland got together last night to take the plaza and march to the areas where they had previously had clashes with police. Only two arrests were made. One was a man was suspected of throwing a rock at a police officer, another was a man who obstructed police and was found to have illegal narcotics on him. Police have been keeping a close eye on Occupiers over the past few days.

-- Occupy Nashville is suing the Governor of Tennessee and other government officials for the state in federal court concerning their new laws about camping in the plaza next to the capitol building. Legislators banned camping on all state property after Occupiers were arrested last October. The Occupiers are asking that a federal judge block enforcement of these rules. 

-- [Chuck] The UN is preparing to launch an investigation into the drone attacks used by the US military. Even after the UN asked the US government for clarification of their procedures to ensure human rights are maintained several months ago, the deaths of civilians have actually increased. One of the UN's counter-terrorism specialist referred to some of the actions by the US military as "war crimes," including deliberate attacks on funerals and mourners that have killed at least twenty civilians.

-- The National Press Photographers Association has joined in on the lawsuit against the NYPD for violating their civil rights. Several photographers have been beaten and arrested by police, even after showing press badges. The suit alleges police misconduct, and names not only the police, but the mayor, the transit authority, Brookfield Projects, and even JP Morgan Chase, which donated several million dollars to the police department.

-- [Chuck] Here's a great little video to show all the women in your life, should you choose to. It's a PSA from the singer of the song "You Don't Own Me," and it speaks volumes. 

-- [Chuck] Lastly, we have another good video. Lawrence O'Donnell, from The Last Word, offers up his view on third party candidates and why voting for them is not a wasted vote. (If I wasn't disenfranchised, I would be voting for Jill Stein.)


To contact me, email Thanks. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Updates 10/25/12

Hello everyone.

The news today is by two different contributors. One we've had for a long time, Chuck, and a new person who sent me some valuable info today, Gordon. Welcome to Gordon, and thanks to you both for the news.

-- [Chuck] The US federal government seems to have finally had enough of the fraudulent mortgage practices many banks have used in the past few years, and have set their sights on Bank of America to start out. They are suing the Bank for brazen mortgage fraud, specifically mentioning a scheme called "Hustle," which was used to push many home loan applications through the safeguards meant to protect them from fraud and make sure homeowners could afford them. Processors were encouraged to falsify numbers if a loan brought up red flags, and bonuses were awarded based on the number of loans made, rather than the quality of those loans.

-- [Chuck] In Spain, thousands of protesters have gathered together again to protest austerity cuts in the Spanish Parliament. The massive group surrounded Parliament to demand the resignation of members of the country's two main political parties, and to show anger at the loan offering from other countries to save the banks, which they believe caused the issue to begin with. 

-- [Chuck] When I talked the other day about my voting choices, I felt like I was doing the right thing. Apparently I'm not the only one. This short video is a humorous take on voting, and a sad look at the state of our affairs in the US.

-- [Gordon] In Oakland, the DA is pulling some dastardly tricks, even if they are legal. With the one-year deadline for charges concerning the Occupy Oakland marches and encampment last year approaching quickly, the DA is scrambling to file last minute charges against people. People who were arrested on October 25th last year were suddenly called into court with almost no warning. If you were arrested last year around this date, check your mail or call the DA's office to make sure you don't have charges filed against you. More about this, and contact info, in the link.

-- [Chuck] In an effort to get full disclosure of JPMorgan Chase's anonymous political expenditures, three high school students were arrested after they performed a sit-in at the bank's New York skyscraper. The students had previously delivered a petition for the information roughly three weeks ago, to no avail. Instead of acquiescing to the demands, JP Morgan Chase instead shut down the whole building, having the teens arrested. 

--  [Chuck] There is a new group that could easily swing the election in either way, according to BBCNews. "Walmart Moms" are women on a budget who shop at the giant retailer for convenience, and in swing states, these women are important. Here's a video where BBC sits down with two of these moms to discuss who they want to vote for and why.

Also, if you missed my post from yesterday, hop over and take a look. I told everyone all about how it is to work at Walmart.


To contact me, email Thanks. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Updates 10/24/12 -- My Walmart story.

Hello everyone.

My apologies for the lack of news yesterday. I've been in some immense pain, and it's making things quite difficult for me. It turns out that I have a bad infection where they extracted my tooth, and a partial dry socket. If you've ever had dry socket, you know what I'm going through. The pain radiates throughout my entire head, causing massive headaches and jaw pain. My dentist quickly put me on antibiotics, and it's starting to feel a little better after only one day. If we didn't have modern medicine, I'd be dead (again) by now. 

There's something I probably haven't told you all. A little tidbit about me: I've died twice. I was born dead, and I drowned when I was around preschool age. All together, I've been dead for about 45 minutes of my life. Crazy, right? After the drowning, they thought I would have brain damage since I was gone for so long, but according to my mother, I was a sharper, shyer, brainiac when they finally brought me back. I'm always afraid of that saying "Third time's a charm." For me, it means a little more then "We'll get it right next time."

After the news today, I have a very long story for you. I'm going to tell you about what it was like for me when I worked at Walmart. I warn you, it is shocking and sad. It broke me. I am so proud of the workers standing up to Walmart. Please, read the story. You are welcome to share it if you feel you want to. It's all true. 

Let's get to the news. 

-- In Mexico, a group of hooded protesters took over the government's representative office in order to demand the release of eight students still being held in custody after student protests over a week ago. On October 15, the students had commandeered over 80 vehicles to protest changes to the curriculum at their schools, which prepare them for the workforce. At least 176 were arrested, but most have been released. Only the eight remain in custody, and protesters say they are being beaten and that the government refuses to negotiate. 

-- [Chuck] An Indiana appeals court has ruled that lawmakers cannot defund Planned Parenthood in the state simply because it performs abortions. The court said that taking away all funding for the organization's works, which include cancer screenings, effectively stamps on a person's right to choose their physician. The state had appealed the original ruling, saying that funding Planned Parenthood's other works actually indirectly funds their abortion clinics. 

-- [Chuck] Earlier this week, former Democratic Senator George McGovern passed away at the age of 90. Even though I make an effort to remain informed, I did not know much about this man, and many people I know didn't either. Here's a great video sent in by Chuck to help us get to know the man who ran against Nixon to get the troops out of Vietnam.

-- Proposition 30 is a big deal in California. The bill will be on the ballot, and voting on it will likely change the course of California's educational system, either for better or for worse. If Prop 30 passes, educational funding will be restored. California's educational budget for the upcoming years actually hinges on the bill's passing. Should it fail to pass, major cuts will be seen from K-12, all the way up to higher education.

-- [Chuck] Here's a great little fact-checker of the last Presidential debate, which shows just how many lies Romney told.

-- [Chuck] The workers at Walmart are not giving up their fight, and we should all be standing with them. Here's a video where many of the workers explain why they are standing up to live better.

I want to tell you a little bit about Walmart. If you've never worked there, it may shed some light on the treatment these people get. If you have, beware. This may bring back some bad memories. 

I started working at Walmart about a year after I graduated high school. I had a different job first, working as a cashier at a small convenience store, so it was only natural that Walmart hired me to be a cashier. Even though I had a full year's experience, I started out making only a quarter about minimum wage, the norm for a cashier. You get that extra quarter simply because you handle the money. 

I liked my trainer. She was an older woman from the Phillipines, and she was kind and understanding. Their systems were much different from what I was used to, so it took me a bit of time to get it down. But, I did. The manager over the cashiers is called a CSM (customer service manager,) and mine was a hateful old religious woman (who had a very happy name, strangely enough) who treated all the cashiers like they were easily replaced pieces of sod. In Walmart's opinion, she was right. 

Here are some of the things I faced as a cashier.

-- Money in strange amounts would disappear from my register, leaving me short at the end of the night. It was always exact increments, like $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, and so on. I was accused of neglecting to notice that I was giving extra money to customers as change. At my old place of work, this had never happened. I was meticulous in counting out money, because I didn't want to get in trouble. After the first time of getting "talked to" (aka yelled at by my CSM in the back about my "horribly stupid money-handling skills) I made sure to be extra vigilant, but it kept happening. After I had been working there for six months, I began noticing that this happened to all the new cashiers who were under the age of 25. I tried to report it to management to ask them to investigate. I was ignored. 

-- My ride home from worked stopped by my register as I was counting down to ask me if I would be off work soon. I told him I would, and that I would come get him when I was ready. The conversation lasted ten seconds at most. I was immediately berated in front of customers for "chatting at my register with money out" and told that I better not have any missing money, or they would arrest me for giving it to him. 

-- A restaurant owner that I had also previously worked for had a grudge against me. (It's a long story, but let's just say I walked out of the job after he tried to get me to do some things that weren't in my job description.) He sent in two of his employees to come through my register. I knew something was up, so I just politely got them through their order without saying much. After they left, I was whisked to the back room and screamed at by the CSM and Asst. Store Manager for harassing the employees about working for a "chauvinistic pig," among other things. My CSM declared that I "had been talked to about this sort of thing before." I was not allowed to speak until after they wrote me up. I blew up on the CSM for lying about my history, and at the Asst. Manager for not letting me defend myself. I told them that if they watched the security video, they would plainly see that I did not say almost anything to them. I walked out, but somehow still had my job. (Almost a year later, the Asst. Manager was demoted for shoddy practices, and attempted to apologize to me. I walked away from her mid-sentence.)

-- I was attacked by an animal at home, and my right hand swelled up and became unusable. I had a bad infection, but was told that even with a doctor's note, I had to come in to work or I would be fired. I was written up for working too slowly, and was refused a stool to sit on when I got dizzy. Customers were obviously disgusted at how I looked, but the CSM would not allow me to leave, even after I threw up several times, once in the trash can next to my register.

-- On several occasions, I was berated (both in front of customers and in the back) for not assisting customers while I was off the clock. We had to walk through the store to get to the clock or the break room, so even if I was not working, I was expected to help them. Once, when I did assist a customer, I was screamed at for working off the clock, and told I would be written up if it ever happened again.

I was one of the few cashiers who always did what I was supposed to do. If I had no customers, I would either be straightening shelves or washing my register and the area around it. After a while of being a cashier, I was transferred to the snack bar. Technically I was still a cashier, had the same bosses, and my pay rate didn't change, but I had a lot more duties. I was expected to not only serve customers, but break down and clean all of the food prep equipment. If I didn't finish on time, I was threatened with a write-up. I had a half-hour to close the snack bar after I stopped serving customers. In that time, I was expected to clean and break down all equipment, most of which was still hot from just having food made. I have scars from cleaning the popcorn maker. Here were my duties (to be completed in a half-hour):

- have at least twenty bags of popcorn bagged and set out for customers to buy
- have at least 20 bags of cotton candy bagged and set out
- tear down and wash the popcorn maker and cotton candy machine
- tear down and wash the hot dog rotating machine, nacho maker, and soda machine
- wash all trays and dishes from both food prep and customer use
- clean all counters, tables, and chairs
- sweep and mop all areas of the snack bar
- count down my register
- throw out or bag all leftover food after inventorying it
- clean the snack bar bathrooms
- vacuum all rugs in the snack bar area

That's not much, huh? I never finished on time. I was also allergic to the sanitizer they used for the dishes. My arms would turn scaly and bright red after washing three or four pots. I begged them for gloves, and finally bought my own, only to have the CSM tell me that since they weren't Walmart-issued, I couldn't use them.

Fed up with the way I was treated like a slave, I decided it was time to go to my local community college. I enrolled, started classes, and a month later was told by management that they were moving me again... this time to overnights. When I protested that I was a student, they told me to choose. Knowing I couldn't afford to lose my job, I dropped out of school.

If working as a cashier was bad, working overnights was hell. Our Walmart was a "community store," meaning we closed at night. I thought it would be nice not having to deal with customers. Working at Walmart is like working in a giant high school. Everyone tells rumors. Everyone hates everyone. Everyone apparently sleeps with everyone too, which is mostly rumors and sometimes accurate. I worked nine months as an overnighter before I finally lost my mind and just quit. Here's some of what I dealt with on overnights:

-- A manager left an open pallet (BIG NO-NO) on the floor. Stocking shelves, I stepped backward onto it, breaking the pallet and severely twisting (actually fracturing, but I wouldn't find that out for years) my ankle. I was forced to sign a waiver saying I would not sue the store for "my error" under threat of termination. 

-- An older couple (in their sixties) worked with me on the night shift. The man was a nice guy, and his friendliness made his wife think I was flirting with him. She would throw bags and boxes of canned dog food at me while we were unloading the truck, and walk down my aisles (I worked health and beauty) breaking shampoo bottles and generally tearing up my area. A trip to the manager did nothing to stop her, even though there was video evidence of her actions. We eventually ended up in a screaming match on the truck unloading line, and she tried several times to hit me, with her husband holding her back. My coworkers blamed me for her psychotic outbursts, and I was an outcast for several weeks. She is still employed there.

-- A male coworker with several children was very friendly with another girl my age who worked there. She was a horrible person, who liked to be friends to your face and spread rumors behind your back. When she told me that he was going to lose rights to seeing his children because he wasn't paying child support, I had had enough of her malicious mongering. I told him what she had said and suggested he go to management. He did, and she somehow turned it around so that I was the one spreading the rumor. Both he and management believed her. I asked him "Why would I tell you to go to management if I was the one spreading it? I didn't even know you paid child support!" His reply was "I don't know, maybe you wanted to be caught. You're fucking crazy and stupid. It wouldn't surprise me." The manager agreed with him, and told me that if I was ever caught spreading another rumor, I would be fired. The girl sat there with a smug look on her face, happy that she had gotten me back for turning her in.

That last one got me. After that happened, only two of my coworkers and the two elderly men on the cleaning crew would speak to me. Even the manager ignored me, even if I had a relevant question. I struggled to work on my own, lifting dangerously heavy boxes and operating machinery I wasn't qualified to use, because no one would help me. If the two young guys that did still talk to me came over to help, the manager would send them to the opposite side of the store. But the cleaning crew could still stop and chat and help me out if I needed it, and the manager hated that. Eventually, she did the worst thing she could have to me. She put me in softlines. Now, in the daytime, softlines is all about being out on the floor, putting clothes on the shelves. At night, however, you sit in a back room by yourself, opening boxes, taking plastic off the clothes, and hanging them up. You have NO human contact. You don't even know when break is unless you watch the clock. You're supposed to be allowed to listen to music, but I wasn't. It is a horrifyingly lonely job to do alone, which is why most stores have two people doing it. I wasn't allowed in the breakroom anymore anyway, since no one would talk to me or even look at me. The manager eventually got to the two younger guys that still liked me. They told me later that she threatened them with difficult departments if they didn't ignore me too. 

I worked like this for at least five months. I was in despair. I remember this so well, because it is the first time I ever contemplated suicide. It was in the first month of this torture. I had just replaced the blade on my box-cutter, and I walked back into the clothing racks where no one could see me if they walked by, and began to cry. I thought to myself "How easy would this be, with a new blade? How much blood would spill before I died? Who would find me? They don't even look for me anymore. They don't care. I probably wouldn't even be found until tomorrow morning, if even then." 

I worked like a robot. I opened boxes, hung up clothes. I didn't eat on breaks anymore. When I got home in the morning, I slept through until it was time for work again. My family and friends worried about me. I was dead inside.

One day, I just couldn't do it anymore. I called and talked to one of the day managers, who was actually a somewhat nice lady and on her last day herself. I said "I don't think I'm coming in." She replied, "Okay, I'll mark it down." Then I said, "Actually, I don't think I'm ever coming in again." And she said, "Well, that's good for you then. I've heard about what they've been doing, but I don't have any power over the night manager. Have a good life, hun. I'll mark that down for you."

I cried. I cried so hard. I always cry when I leave a job, because it's scary and sad to leave the people you've grown to care about. But in this case, I cried for my life. I knew this would save me. I had to leave.

Then the emotionally abusive man I was dating at the time told me that I was worthless for quitting. But that's another story. 

Walmart is a horrible place to work. I rarely ever got a raise, and if I did, it was a mandatory raise for everyone. I was treated horrible by my coworkers, my managers, and my customers. I was treated as if I was a replaceable robotic slave. I was screamed at for doing humanly necessary tasks, like taking restroom breaks during an 8 hour shift. I was belittled, berated, and broken. Because that's what Walmart does.

I wasn't alone in that treatment. I saw my coworkers go through things that would shock the conscience of any human. I saw coworkers work through pain to try and feed their families. I saw them ashamed to buy food at our store with their food stamp cards. I saw them get sick and just deal with it because they had no health care. I saw a single mother work from Christmas Eve to Christmas morning even though she had two young children who believed in Santa, all because Walmart refused to let anyone take the day off. I saw a coworker, bleeding, forced to sign a waiver after being beaten by a customer on Black Friday. I saw management scream at employees in front of customers, breaking them down into tears, then laughing as the coworker ran away. I saw a woman fired for protesting the reduction of her hours, which were being given to a new employee who just so happened to be the child of a department manager. I saw that my coworkers were terrified. I was terrified. 

This is Walmart.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Updates 10/22/12

Hello everyone.

Today's news is short. I have much to do, and realistically I'm not in good enough health to do any of it. But dammit, I've got to try.

-- A disabled veteran is suing a San Antonio businessman after he kicked the veteran and his service dog out of his mattress store, telling them to "Go Occupy Wall Street." The dog, Bootz, was clearly identifiable as a service dog, and the veteran, Adan Gallegos, also told the store's employees and president that he was. The president, William Gholson, called the police on Gallegos, making it clear that he believed since he owned the store, no one could make him do anything in his own building. Bootz was leashed and calm throughout the entire encounter, and after Gallegos left, Gholson and his employees continued to harass and ridicule him. 

-- [Chuck] Walmart is trying to play it cool by pretending that associate walk-outs and threats of more strikes are simply publicity stunts for unions, but internal memos reveal that the giant company may be running scared. Walmart says that unions and activists have been trying to destroy the company for years, but their shoddy pay scales and and sketchy tactics have led to the company's multi-billion dollar industry. It seems that there may be some truth to the exploitative business' fears of activists, but not without good reason. This article provides tons of background info, and talks more about possible Black Friday strikes.

-- [Chuck] Witnesses saw a member of the GOP throwing ballots in a dumpster in Virginia, but the GOP-run Election Board will not ask for investigation. The Virginia Attorney General cannot prosecute the ballot-tosser without the say so of the Board, according to the law. Colin Small tossed the ballots and was arrested on charges of obstruction of justice and voter fraud, but it looks like those charges will be dropped, even though there are eyewitnesses and evidence of said crimes. (I wonder why.)


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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Updates 10/21/12

Hello everyone.

I have some personal news and an explanation for it after the Occupy news today. Stay tuned. (Haha...)

-- [Chuck] The people Occupying the TransCanada Pipeline feel they have much to be concerned about, and it turns out they are right. A man who worked for TransCanada has come out in person as a whistleblower, revealing that TransCanada often breaks Federal rules and guidelines. He went to the NEB (National Energy Board) with his complaints, and they have since opened up an investigation of the oil giant. This video is an exclusive interview with the man who went through so much to fight the company from inside.

-- [Chuck] Fracking is quickly becoming a nationwide issue, even though the term was almost unheard of five years ago. Cities in North Carolina are taking preemptive steps against the practice, with many municipalities putting ordinances in place against the controversial practice. The local legislators are concerned about water and soil contamination, especially since wells in Pennsylvania have been found to have an increasing methane content. The laws are mostly symbolic, because if the state decides to allow the practice, that overrules their ordinances.

-- The police officer that shot and killed an 18 year old Black man in Oakland will not be facing charges. Although witness statements and forensic evidence point to Alan Blueford being shot while lying on the ground, the official statement from the officer says that he was standing and reached for his pants, as if for a weapon. These discrepancies are not even mentioned in the DA reports, and the unanswered questions are weighing heavily on the minds of those who knew Blueford and witnessed the event. The Justice for Alan Blueford Coalition will be asking other officials to step in and investigate, including the California Attorney General and the U.N. Commission for Human Rights. In November, the group will be holding a march against racial profiling.

-- In France, an unfinished mosque became the target of anger for some 70 French youth, who climbed to the top of the incomplete building to protest its construction, and the spread of Islam in France due to immigration. Muslim leaders were shocked by the actions, saying that these young people somehow cannot see that the world has changed, and that "people can live differently than in a mindset of war and conflict." At least three people were arrested for incitement of racial hatred and damage to property. The French protesters carried a banner reading "732," which was the year the city drove out Muslim invaders. 


Let's move on to my news, which has several links to support my story.

I have decided that I won't be voting this year.

Now, before you get all huffy and puffy, let me tell you why. I have several reasons for this.

First off, I've been disenfranchised. Not in the "I hate this system" way, even though that would technically be accurate as well. As a college student, I have two legal addresses. One is my mother's home several counties away, and one is where I am now, going to school. So where do I vote? I've been told here, there, both, neither, and so on. My driver's license says that I should vote back at my mother's address. My voter registration says I should vote here. Either way, I need an absentee ballot to be able to vote. That's just how it works. To get the absentee ballot, I need to go to the courthouse and claim a ballot. That means I have to drive at least 20 miles, if I am voting here, or 100 miles, if there. I've tried to call and ask them to send me one. I have to pick it up in person.

So basically, I have to pay to vote. And to tell you the truth, I don't have the money. I can barely afford to go and pick my wife up from school, which is only about two miles away. We usually ride the bus, but they've changed the schedules so that our late classes end after the buses stop running. 

Second, I'm not happy with the candidates. If I were to vote, it would be for Jill Stein, and we all know that she isn't going to win because of our amazingly bullshit two party system. They won't even let her into the debates without arresting her. On a recent episode of The Daily Show, President Obama comments that he and Romney are "two sides of the same coin," and I could not agree more. I don't trust either of them. I don't want either of them in office. Here's a few links to give reasons why. These were all sent to me by Chuck, but their sentiments could not be more accurate for me.

-- If Romney becomes President, how would that affect women, their health care, and their reproductive rights? Horribly. And it wouldn't just be horrible for Americans either.

-- At the debate the other day, a woman asked Mitt Romney how he was different from Bush. The answer should have been a resounding "Not by much." Foreign policy is an important topic in America, and it's fairly interesting to find out who Romney wants to work for him on it. 

-- President Obama visited the Daily Show with Jon Stewart the other day, and in the interest of "comedy," Jon Stewart took it so easy on him that you really expected them to start ogling each other in love. I'm apparently not the only one that feels this way. Check out RT's scathing review of the episode. The sad thing is, this reporter is right on target. The President's policies for drones and the like are killing so many innocent people that it really is no wonder why America is so hated. 

So there are a few points. Now please, do not take my choice to abstain from voting as advocacy for you to do the same. I do not want to encourage anyone to step away from the voting booths. Everyone has their own reasons for what they do. In my case, I believe that no matter what I do, or who I choose, things are not going to get better. Does this mean I "don't have a right to complain?" Not at all, and if you believe that, you are foolish. I pay taxes just like everyone else. I am a citizen of this country, regardless of whether or not I choose to use my right to vote for candidates that are both snakes in the grass. I am affected by policies they put in place. Having the right to do something does not mean you lose other rights because you don't act on them. That's not how it works. 

Will I complain later about whoever is chosen? Probably. And that is also my right. I was very torn up about this decision at first. I wanted desperately to vote. I tried to figure out what I should do, how I could make it matter, and so on. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it doesn't matter. Not in the sense of my vote not counting, but in the sense that either way this election goes, I'm still going to be poor. I'm still going to have crappy healthcare. I'm still struggling, and my marriage still isn't legal. I'm still stuck under a capitalist regime that doesn't give two shits about me. This regime is still moving toward fascism, and we all know that, no matter who our choice is. 

For me, not voting is my vote. I don't want either of your regimes. I don't want your drones. I don't want your fascism. I don't want your indefinite detention. I don't want your war on women. I don't want your tax breaks for the 1%. I don't want your ideas, ideals, or ideology. I don't want either of you. That's my vote.



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