The OB Media Rundown for 1/28/12

Unilever – corporate owner of OWS endorser Ben and Jerry’s – attacks UK workers’ pensions

As Unilever workers began organising picket lines across the country, the trustees of the company’s UK pension fund rejected union pleas and endorsed management’s proposal to close the existing final salary pension (FSP) scheme and replace it with an inferior career average earnings scheme, known as CARE.
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The USDAW statement ends, “Unilever’s customers, shareholders and other stakeholders could be forgiven for thinking that the company cares less for its employees and its corporate reputation than it does for one of its brands of soap powder or deodorant.”

[From the Ben and Jerry’s endorsement of OWS: “As a board and as a company we have actively been involved with these issues for years but your efforts have put them out front in a way we have not been able to do. We have provided support to citizens’ efforts to rein in corporate money in politics, we pay a livable wage to our employees,. . . “]

Open Media Boston Supports Occupy UMass Boston; Calls for Public Action to Defend #OUMB Encampment

Open Media Boston strongly supports the Occupy UMass Boston movement’s decision to found an encampment at the UMB Campus Center on Monday. And supports the movement itself. For the first time in a long time, Boston’s working class university – my alma mater – is home to a growing and vibrant network of progressive students who are organizing for radical and much needed changes to public higher education system in Massachusetts.

There have been many attempts to spark such a movement in the last four decades – some of which I have personally participated in, and helped organize – but this is first attempt that is part of a society-wide movement for social change. And the first one that looks to be willing to engage in sustained direct action outside “official channels” to demand full government funding for public higher education, an end to the privatization and corporatization of the Mass. public higher education system, free speech on campus, and a complete reorganization of the UMass system to serve the needs of the Commonwealth’s working families rather than the needs of the unelected businesspeople that currently control the UMass Board of Trustees – and our government at all levels.

The OUMB movement is swiftly gaining traction among UMass Boston students, staff and faculty – which, as a commuter campus, has long been a very difficult place to engage in grassroots political organizing. And that’s all to the good.

Homeland Security derring-do: Emails show agent ‘infiltrated’ public meetings at Occupy Austin in October and November

Internet group Anonymous has leaked information from October and November 2011 suggesting that private intelligence firm STRATFOR has been working with Texas law enforcement to infiltrate the Occupy movement and spy on the Deep Green Resistance movement.

STRATFOR “Watch Officer” Marc Lanthemann writes about receiving information on Occupy Austin and DGR from a “Texas DPS agent.” The Texas Department of Public Safety is a statewide law enforcement agency that includes the Texas Rangers, Highway Patrol, and an Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division.

In the emails, the staff discuss how a STRATFOR agent went undercover and tried to gather information from an Occupy Austin General assembly.

ACTA to SOPA: Top 5 Threats to Internet Freedom and How to Fight Back

1. ACTA: The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement treaty has become the most prominent threat in the ongoing fight to keep the Internet free. Now that the furor over the Stop Online Piracy Act has died down following a major Internet blackout last week that led U.S. lawmakers to pull the controversial bill, the focus has shifted to stopping ACTA in its tracks. But the treaty is going to be much harder to stop than SOPA, and its effects are further-reaching than any American legislation.
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There is still time to fight against ACTA, which would restrict the ability of sites to engage in open discourse by placing draconian copyright and intellectual property restrictions in place throughout the world. There is a petition on with more than 30,000 signatures currently on file with the Obama administration, calling on it to “end ACTA and protect our right to Internet privacy,” and advocacy groups from around the world are mobilizing to stop the treaty from being fully ratified this summer. For more information about how to stop ACTA, visit this comprehensive site.

Twitter To Censor Tweets In Some Countries

Twitter, according to its official description, promises to offer up the “latest information about what you find interesting.”

There’s now a caveat to that, however: The social media service will offer up the latest information about what you find interesting — and what your government deems acceptable

Twitter’s new censorship plan rouses global furor

Twitter, a tool of choice for dissidents and activists around the world, found itself the target of global outrage Friday after unveiling plans to allow country-specific censorship of tweets that might break local laws.

It was a stunning role reversal for a youthful company that prides itself in promoting unfettered expression, 140 characters at a time. Twitter insisted its commitment to free speech remains firm, and sought to explain the nuances of its policy, while critics – in a barrage of tweets – proposed a Twitter boycott and demanded that the censorship initiative be scrapped.

Liberals’ Inequality Narrative Ignores Role of Free Trade, Unionbusting

The crucial fact that 31,358 workers get fired in a typical year while trying to unionize thier workplace, according to author Philip Dine, is almost uniformly omitted from liberal pundits’ explanations of U.S. inequality. Only in their coverage of public-employee battles in Wisconsin did MSNBC hosts like Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz discuss union-busting and its role in pushing down wages and eliminating workers’ voice on the job.

The other central weapon in the class war against workers-the threat or actual relocation of production to brutal low-wage conditions found in Mexico and China-has been almost entirely absent from the comments of MSNBC hosts and guests.
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Obama has been terrible on these issues of globalization,” says [Harper’s publisher] MacArthur, pointing to his abandonment of his promise to re-negotiate NAFTA. (The President has even failed to enforce the weak side agreements on labor and environmental issues, following in the footsteps of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush).

Judge Sentences Occupy L.A. Protester To Write Essay On Thoreau

Instead of the typical 20 days of Caltrans duty, [Judge] Sterling came up with a more creative sentence. He ordered Heartfield, 43, to write a 300-word essay on Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience.”

Heartfield readily agreed, according to Leone Hankey, who has been observing cases for Occupy L.A. Case closed. Now, we all read this in high school. But if you need a refresher, here’s what Thoreau had to say about the justice system:

It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume, is to do at any time what I think right.

Even now, it takes a pretty cool judge to assign that for homework. Hankey, who was in court today, said that in pronouncing the sentence, Sterling noted that Heartfield was acting out of principle, which diminished his criminal intent.

America’s Dead Zones: From Dodge City to Durango, Why Does Prosperity Pass So Many Places By?

Poor employment prospects are not related to periods of recession or prosperity; these communities have not had substantial and sustainable increases in employment for lengthy stretches. America’s dead zones can not be described as containing “weak labor markets” because many have had long term unemployment problems that are more than weak and not temporary. Even in zones with only 5 years of high unemployment, the prior years were hardly marked by robust job growth.

Elderly Inmates: Aging Prison Population Strains Tight State Budgets

The latest available figures from 2010 show that 8 percent of the prison population – 124,400 inmates – was 55 or older, compared to 3 percent in 1995, according to a report being released Friday by Human Rights Watch. This oldest segment grew at six times the rate of the overall prison population between 1995 and 2010, the report says.

“Prisons were never designed to be geriatric facilities,” said Jamie Fellner, a Human Rights Watch special adviser who wrote the report. “Yet U.S. corrections officials now operate old age homes behind bars.”

Banks retaliate against GOP senator by throwing financial and lobbying support to Tea Party rival in primaries

The banking industry is making an example of Sen. Dick Lugar.

Several veteran financial services lobbyists are fundraising for the primary challenger of one of the most-senior Senate Republicans, sending a clear message to GOP lawmakers who have opposed banks on key votes: Don’t cross us.

Occupy protesters prepare to disrupt Romney rally

A few hundred Mitt Romney supporters have packed a paint factory a few miles from Sea World where the former Massachusetts governor is expected to address a grassroots rally. But among them are at least a dozen non-Romney supporters who plan to make their presence known once the rally gets underway.

Wearing Romney campaign stickers on their outer garments so as to go undetected, the activists from two groups – Pink Slip and Occupy Tampa – plan to “mic check” Romney, using call and response to interrupt the rally and declare him a millionaire mogul who callously laid off workers.

The activists told The Hill they have interspersed throughout the crowd to make it more difficult for Romney aides or security to quickly remove them from the rally.

Watchdog group calls for federal investigation of Romney’s financial disclosure

Romney’s tax return included income from at least 23 funds and partnerships that were not cited in the campaign disclosure form, including interest income from a Swiss bank account and shares in offshore companies located in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere.

A Romney spokesman has described the errors as “trivial” and “inadvertent,” but CREW finds that explanation unsatisfactory.

GOP race-baiting masks class warfare – By demonizing some, the Republicans seek to discredit the safety net for the 99 percent

t’s commonplace to note that Newt Gingrich’s dog-whistle appellation that Barack Obama is the “food stamp president” is both racist and politically cynical. But the stereotyping of black government dependency also serves the strategic end of discrediting the entire social safety net, which most Americans of all races depend on. Black people are subtly demonized, but whites and blacks alike will suffer.

The occupy movement: not just another youth rebellion

“At first I expected it to be a bunch of college kids meeting at a coffee shop, talking about corporations being evil,” explained senior Erich Pohanka. “But honestly, the first few meetings, there were very few college kids. There were mostly people in their 30s or 60s, anywhere in range of that and I was really shocked and kind of amped by that because it’s not just some little rebellion. It’s something that everyone is affected by.”

During the seven days that Pohanka and senior Yahya Alazrak camped at Occupy Greensboro, the community proved it could sustain itself by providing food, information sharing and people’s libraries. One direction the movement is working towards is to help stimulate cooperative businesses operating collectively and horizontally.

With winter approaching, the outside world may think the cold will put a damper on the movement. However, this is false. “Many people have been talking about how the Occupy movement is in hibernation not disintegration,” said Alazrak. Greensboro sent over 60 people to Occupy Congress in D.C. at the beginning of January.

Bank Transfer Day saw 600,000 switch

More than 600,000 U.S. consumers have moved their money from big banks to community banks or credit unions, thanks to the much-publicized Bank Transfer Day last fall, according to an analysis released by Javelin Strategy & Research.

ACLU Confronts County On Occupy Maui Monsanto Protest

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii filed a complaint letter with the County of Maui this week citing concerns over First Amendment rights of protesters demonstrating near the Monsanto facility along the Pi’ilani Highway in Kihei.
Members of the Occupy Wall Street Maui group began the week-long protest on Monday to expresses their concerns over herbicide use, production of GMO products, and impacts on small farmers.

The ACLU letter, dated on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, alleges OWSM members were threatened with trespass and instructed to leave the site after sunset because of safety concerns. In the ACLU letter, the foundation states, “there is evidence to suggest that the county is singling out the Occupy protesters for harassment based on the content of their speech.”

JPMorgan chief to Occupy: ‘I agree with you’

The chief executive of JPMorgan says he can understand some of the grievances of the Occupy movement, describing some of Wall Street’s actions as “a total disgrace.”

Speaking with CNN’s Richard Quest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon was asked if he was worried about growing antagonism towards the rich.

“It’s becoming an entrenched view, but here’s the parts I agree with,” he said. “People are angry because a lot of people in Wall Street made a lot of money as companies went down the tubes, and I agree with them. That’s a total disgrace.”

Occupy activists attempt to take over Davos debate

Activists from the Occupy movement attempted to disrupt a debate in Davos attended by the Labour party leader, Ed Miliband, calling on him and the other delegates to leave the stage and join them on the floor of the packed debate on “remodelling capitalism”.

Eyewitnesses said about 30 activists had strategically placed themselves in the large auditorium in the local Swiss Alpine High School and had attempted to conduct the debate on their own terms.