It was one year ago today that the pioneers of Occupy Wall Street first unrolled their sleeping bags in Zuccotti Park. Though the movement is long gone from the headlines, it can be credited for calling BS on our money-driven political system and launching a national conversation about class and economic inequality—one that still looms large in the presidential campaign.
I showed up at the Zuccotti Park encampment in its second week for what I thought would be just a day, but I ended up reporting on the movement from New York City all through the fall and beyond. What most fascinated me were the occupiers themselves, people alternately principled and unrealistic, brave and foolhardy, idealistic and naive. Occupy Wall Street may or may not have changed the world, but it certainly changed those who took part in it. For the anniversary, I decided to track down five of the folks I met in Zuccotti—from a key movement organizer to a heroin addict—to see where they're at now. These are their stories. (Also read "365 Days of Occupy Wall Street—an Anniversary Timeline.")
This brilliant film by the creators of the Oscar-nominated 2006 documentary Jesus Camp opens in the Detroit Opera House with a performance of Nabucco—a Verdi work that follows the plight of the Jews exiled from Babylon. Juxtaposed with visual evidence of the city's exodus—Detroit has lost half its population, and the opera house is itself near bankruptcy—it's an apt opening to a eulogy for the nation's most dystopian city. However, in once-vibrant neighborhoods that have turned into overgrown wastelands, Detropia finds grim beauty and a wealth of hopeful lessons for America's middle class. Among them: Destruction can unleash creativity, if we're brave enough to let it.
In recent months corporate America has been lobbying the heck out of Washington to lower tax rates on businesses. As it should, defenders say, because corporations have a duty to maximize their return to investors. But if boosting profits were the goal, then you'd think more big companies would stop complaining about taxes, and look instead at an even greater expense: the bloated salaries of their chief executives.
In a just-released report, the Institute for Policy Studies details 26 megacorporations that paid one guy (their CEO) more than they spent on their entire federal tax bills last year. (See our interactive graph below—whoa! Halliburton!) These same companies averaged $1.4 billion in profits—which were announced, in some cases, around the same time they were announcing massive layoffs.
"I draws what I like and I like what I drew!" sings Bert, the affable sidewalk artist in Disney's Mary Poppins. He doesn't know how easy he's got it. If Bert lived in one of a dozen American cities, his colorful chalk drawings of boats and circus animals could very well land him in jail.
MTV filmed the skit to promote Power Of 12, its effort to get out the youth vote this November. Jason Rzepka, MTV's vice-president of public affairs, told me that its producers wanted Snooki to be reading a political magazine, and their choice of Mother Jones "reflects the impact of your brand and reporting." (It could also reflect the fact that Snooki is soon to be a mother).
Whether Mother Jones actually appeals to Snooki is less clear. Last month she told Newt Gingrich: "I'm trying to be like you," but then, she might have just been making fun of his efforts to cash in on his celebrity. Whatever Snooki's political affiliations, we're happy for the endorsement. Snooki fans can sign up for a subscription here.