Lost your job? Find an occupation!

Protesters boogie down (Disclosure: so did I.)

If there weren’t signs expounding on the evils of capitalism everywhere, you might have thought that the gathering in Zuccotti Park on Sunday, a day after seven hundred protesters were arrested while blocking traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, was simply an outdoor dance party with a free buffet.

But apart from such merriment, most of the people there to support the Occupy Wall Street movement, now in its third week, believe strongly that the occupation make a serious political statement with a clear message. In a nutshell, that message claims to speak against an unequal distribution of wealth wherein one percent of the American population benefits from the capitalism system, while the other ninety-nine percent is exploited. The protesters say that they are that ninety-nine percent and that, unless you are a millionaire, so are you. Read more

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Bridge Over Troubled City

The Brooklyn Bridge never looked so beautiful as it did today, as hundreds, maybe thousands (it’s always hard to get good estimates on protest numbers) of people marched from Zuccotti Park to Cadman Plaza.

Along the way, however, hundreds were likely arrested, though the outcome is still unknown at the time of this writing. As the protest took the official route over the pedestrian pathway on the bridge, a significant number detoured and walked straight onto the highway, going in the direction of traffic. This created a bottleneck situation that backed-up traffic all the way up FDR drive alongside the East River. From above on the pedestrian walkway, about halfway through the bridge, we watched as a line of police approached the cluster of protesters, who were linked arm-in-arm, and plucked them one-by-one for arrest. Those being escorted to police cars in handcuffs shouted their name to their comrades above, who took note and later created a list of names so that friends could find out if people in their crew were arrested. (A NY Times freelancer has just Tweeted that she is on a bus of arrestees headed toward central booking, she believes, and others are Tweeting that buses are loading up protesters.)

Today’s march was the biggest event in numbers, by a good deal, of the Occupy Wall Street movement thus far. Momentum has piled up despite or perhaps because of media criticism, which has described the protesters as aimless and portrayed them as privileged, confused youth. Read more

John Cassidy on NYPD Macing Protesters at Wall Street

NYPD monitoring protesters armed with dangerous signs made out of heavy cardboard

Cassidy writes on the New Yorker blog about how police brutality is aiding the Occupy Wall Street protesters’ cause by bringing media to their side and creating tension within the Bloomberg administration: Read more

Solutions for New York City’s Sewer Problem

It's clogged up! Photo courtesy of Leif Percifeld.

Last week, Harlem residents held their noses as millions of gallons of untreated sewage water flowed straight into the Harlem and Hudson rivers because of a sewage plant fire. On the hottest day of the year, precious beaches and water areas were off limits, too toxic to swim in, as a repair team took shifts working in the heat to fix the plant.

But the crisis was more than just an isolated incident; it was symptomatic of a larger, structural problem in the way New York City – home to 8.5 million people – deals with its residents’ liquid waste.

Each year, 27 billion gallons of raw sewage are dumped into the New York City harbor, making sewage, or more specifically, the city’s inability to process waste water, the largest source of water pollution in the city. This dumping is caused by Combined Sewer Overflows that occur when the sewer system becomes overloaded by heavy rain on top of normal sewage flows. Overburdened city infrastructure is simply not capable of handing so much water. Read more

News: Housing voucher cut from New York budget; thousands of shelter and affordable-housing residents wonder what to do.

This is the article I reported on and wrote with support from the crowdfunding citizen journalism site, spot.us

A related version of this story was produced for Bed-Stuy Patch.

Thousands of people who were promised the New York Department of Homeless Services’ Advantage housing voucher are uncertain about where they will be living next month after Gov. Andrew Cuomo cut the voucher from the state budget on March 14.

The effects of the cut will reach thousands of people currently living in city shelters, as well as up to 15,000 individuals and families who use the voucher to pay for affordable housing units.

But the Advantage voucher was merely a Band-Aid covering a large wound that persists in New York City’s affordable-housing system, according to homeless advocacy organizations such as Coalition for the Homeless, whose staff has spoken out about the voucher’s role as a “revolving door” to homelessness. Read more