Occupy Wall Street: One Hundred Portraits from the Occupation

Occupy Wall Street: One Hundred Portraits from the Occupation

Photography by: Joseph O. Holmes, NYC

One Hundred Portraits from the Occupation is a photo-documentary by New York City street photographer Joseph O. Holmes. It is a beautiful collection of photographs that brilliantly encapsulates the blend of cultures represented by people participating in the Occupy Wall Street protests at New York’s Zuccotti Park.

Holmes describes his work here as an attempt to present his photographs without editorializing, as an effort to capture the portraits in Zuccotti Park with as little political content as possible. The balance for which he seems to strive is one that allows empathy for his subjects to shine through, but without making the portraits in any way his own political statement. His portraits vividly capture the humanity of these people, countering the hostile and dismissive portrayals with which they too often are labeled.

Occupy Wall Street: A Documentary of Humanity and Diversity

Slide Show: One Hundred Portraits from the Occupation

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The Poor in America: Friends and Neighbors in the Heartland

The Poor in America: Friends and Neighbors in the Heartland

For some people, our economy may be turning around, but millions of families are at risk of going hungry, in one of the richest nations on earth.  The poorest people in America are those who are the first to feel the downturn, and will be the last to feel the country’s financial recovery.  The hardworking poor in America’s heartland, with their long and deep traditions in mining, manufacturing and military service, are increasingly seen in food pantry lines, feeling ashamed and angry.  Their stories and images push beyond stereotypes and reveal a hidden America of families living in poverty, which is both surprising and haunting.

Friends and Neighbors: The Recession’s Unseen Victims

Poverty in the Hills of Central Appalachia

A Hidden America: Children of the Appalachian Mountains

Kris Kristofferson: This Old Road

Slide Show: The Poor in America/Friends and Neighbors in the Heartland

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Ghosts of Shopping Past: The Failed Illusions of American Consumerism

Ghosts of Shopping Past: The Failed Illusions of American Consumerism

Photography by:  Brian Ulrich, Chicago

Ghosts of Shopping Past is a photo-documentary by Brian Ulrich, a photographer who lives and works in Chicago.  His work has been shown in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Museum of Contemporary Photography.  He is a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellow.

Brian Ulrich’s photographs of closed-down malls and big-box retail stores reveal the potential ghost towns lying inside successful shopping complexes all across America.  His photo-documentary is a testament to the devastating impact of the current financial recession, as well as to the failed illusions of a lifestyle based upon unbridled American consumerism.

Slide Show: The Ghosts of Shopping Past

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Subprime: Watching the American Housing Bubble Burst

Subprime: Watching the American Housing Bubble Burst

Subprime by Mike Winkelmann is a musical short film, an isometric 3D animation and a remarkable visual commentary on America’s present socioeconomic situation all in one. The short film allows you to watch the American housing market spiral out of control, in a cool low-poly 3D style and with lovely animations. The gluttonous drive for more, bigger and better becomes no longer sustainable, and the bubble ultimately bursts, as we have recently witnessed. In Subprime, the housing market’s escalating trajectory and collapse is visually played out before our eyes with an animated series of houses building and then suddenly deconstructing.

Subprime: Watching the American Housing Bubble Burst

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President Obama on Leno’s Tonight Show: I’m Stunned By Those AIG Bonuses

President Obama on Leno’s Tonight Show: Stunned By Those AIG Bonuses

Whenever a late-night television show features a sitting president, it usually comes as material for a stand-up comedy routine. But on Thursday night, President Obama overturned another tradition when he appeared on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show to promote his economic recovery plan. President Obama held his own with the comedian, countering Mr. Leno’s jabs about the executive bonuses given out by the American International Group, saying, “The only place where I think this might work is Hollywood.” Obama did not explicitly endorse the House bill passed on Thursday, which would tax bonuses paid to those whose companies have gotten large amounts of federal bailout money, saying “The money’s already gone out.” “I think the best way to handle this is to make sure you’ve closed the door before the horse gets out of the barn,” he said.

When Mr. Leno asked whether someone should go to jail for the AIG debacle, President Obama replied, “Most of what got us into trouble was perfectly legal.” In his appearance with Mr. Leno, Obama carefully balanced his comments between projecting a sense of good humor and projecting a presidential bearing. For example, he momentarily appeared to look startled when Mr. Leno joked that the president had laid the problems of the banking sector at the doorstep of the Treasury Secretary, Timothy F. Geithner. “I love how you say it’s his problem,” Mr. Leno said. For a moment, President Obama gave a stone-faced look to Leno. Then he broke into a laugh, as if he suddenly realized that Leno’s put-down was meant as a joke. “All of this is my responsibility,” Obama said. “I’m trying to break a pattern in Washington where everybody’s always looking for someone to blame.”

President Obama with Jay Leno: I’m Stunned By Those AIG Bonuses

Interested readers will find more in today’s edition of The New York Times here.

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AIG Greed Redux: John Law and the Mississippi Bubble

AIG Greed Redux: John Law and the Mississippi Bubble

A national outcry of public outrage has forced the Obama administration to take action on the large bonuses that AIG has given to a group of its executives. The bonuses that AIG has distributed went to the very group of employees whose risky trades brought the company to the brink of collapse. “It’s hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay,” Obama said at the outset of an appearance to announce help for small businesses hurt by the deep recession. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat,” the president said.

The whole debacle of the greed displayed by AIG, as well as by some large banks that recently received large sums of bailout money from the government, is reminiscent of the simultaneous collapse of both the French trading arm and royal bank in the early 1700s. That collapse has been described as “John Law and the Mississippi Bubble.” John Law was a Scottish economist who believed that money was only a means of exchange that did not constitute wealth in itself and that national wealth depended on trade. During the reign of Louis XIV, John Law set up France’s Banque Générale Privée (“General Private Bank”), which developed the use of paper money. Many have considered Law to be little more than a colorful con man, responsible for the Mississippi Bubble and the chaotic economic collapse in France.

Richard Condie’s 1978 animated short film, John Law and the Mississippi Bubble, offers up a history lesson about that sensational get-rich-quick scheme, which took place in France over 200 years ago. The film won the Best Film Award at the 1980 International Short Film Festival in Tampere, Finland. With economist John Law at the helm, the plan was to open a national French bank and exchange bank notes for gold at wildly inflated share prices to mask the fact that the country’s gold had been depleted in the building of Louis XIV’s palace. In the film, when the inevitable rush to cash in the notes takes place, poor John Law is left broke and broken-hearted.

It was one of the most sensational get-rich-quick schemes heard of in a long time, but it eventually burst over the head of its originator, John Law. This “rags to riches to rags” story, in which the plan was to open a bank and exchange banknotes (paper!) for gold at wildly inflated share prices, ends when John Law, having been cleaned out as a result of a rush to cash in the notes, is left broke and broken-hearted.

John Law and the Mississippi Bubble

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A Heartbreaking Epic: Hand-Out

A Heartbreaking Epic: Hand-Out

Photography by: Joseph O. Holmes, NYC

This photograph captures an unforgettable moment; it’s a simple image, but one that so strongly conveys of the sorrow of our times. The impact of looking at some brilliant pictures can just make your heart skip a beat. This classically understated, but sublime photograph is certainly one of those rare pictures. The photograph is a heartbreaking epic, which powerfully conveys one of those quiet experiences of sad awe.

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