The OB Media Rundown for 1/31/12

Occupy the Super Bowl: Now more than just a sloganThe Super Bowl is perennially the Woodstock for the 1%: a Romney-esque cavalcade of private planes, private parties, and private security. Combine that with this proposed legislation, and the people of Indiana will not let this orgy of excess go unoccupied. Just as the parties start a week in advance, so have the protests.  Over 150 people – listed as 75 in USA Today, but I’ll go with eyewitness accounts – marched through last Saturday’s Super Bowl street fair in downtown Indianapolis with signs that read, “Occupy the Super Bowl” “Fight the Lie” and “Workers United Will Prevail.” Occupy the Super Bowl has also become a T-shirt, posted for the world to see on the NBC Sports Blog.

The protests also promise to shed light on the reality of life for working families in the city of Indianapolis. Unemployment is at 13.3%, with unemployment for African American families at 21%. Two of every five African American families with a child under 5 live below the anemic poverty line. Such pain amidst the gloss of the Super Bowl and the prospect of Right to Work legislation is, for many, a catalyst to just do something.

‘Police used flashbang grenades in Oakland’

On Sunday, Occupy Boston marched in solidarity with Occupy Oakland where 300 people were arrested on January 28, “including a number of journalists”, Daniel Schneider, editor of The Occupy Boston Globe told Press TV’s U.S. Desk in an interview on Monday.

Occupy Boston marched in solidarity with Occupy Oakland “with a little over 150 people marching to downtown,” Schneider added.

Oops! Conservancy Exec’s E-mail to PR Advisor – Sent to Reporter in Error

How many times have NPQ Newswire readers sent errant e-mails to the wrong person? The CEO of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy meant to ask her PR advisor about how to dodge a reporter’s request for public information on Greenway salaries, including her own, but she accidentally sent it to the Boston Herald reporter. In Rick Perry’s words, “Oops!”
. . .

The Conservancy might not have been known to NPQ Newswire readers if not for Occupy Boston protesters who camped out on property managed by the Greenway. Last fall, the Greenway asked Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to get Occupy off-and out-of the Greenway. The message for the Conservancy and Brennan in light of this e-mail imbroglio? Occupy transparency.

Occutrip Boston: Mortgages Underwater Puppet Protest, Tiny-tenting, and OWS Panel

It’s five days in to the Occupy Bus Trip that left Brooklyn, NY on January 25th. Occupiers from Wall Street are currently visiting Occupy Boston on their 5-week long, movement-building trip that will touch base in several Northeastern cities including Albany, Syracuse, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Newark.

Following a foreclosure auction that occupiers successfully stopped in NYC, Occutrip in Boston held an eviction defense training in preparation for their action on Monday afternoon. On Monday at 12 PM, bring your flippers, goggles, and swimwear down to Boston’s financial district for a mortgages “underwater” rally with Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Boston, City Life/Vida Urbana, Chelsea Collaborative, and Mass Uniting.

State of New York Subpoenas Twitter Over Occupy Wall Street Account

A subpoena demanding the Twitter information of an account associated with the Occupy movement has caused outrage among activist and hacktivist groups online.

Allegedly demanding the Twitter information of Malcolm Harris’ @destructuremal account, the subpoena appeared on Monday. Listed as stemming from the State of New York’s District Attorney’s office, the subpoena demands Twitter present any email addresses associated with and all tweets from @destructuremal to a criminal court on 8 February, 2012.

Freddie Mac Bets Against American Homeowners

Freddie Mac, the taxpayer-owned mortgage giant, has placed multibillion-dollar bets that pay off if homeowners stay trapped in expensive mortgages with interest rates well above current rates.

Freddie began increasing these bets dramatically in late 2010, the same time that the company was making it harder for homeowners to get out of such high-interest mortgages.

Justice department received referrals for securities fraud criminal prosecutions one year ago and have done nothing

The Justice Department has had this information, contained in depositions and official testimony, for a little over a year. They’ve done nothing. The Securities and Commodities Fraud working group would have been the natural arm of the Financial Fraud Task Force to which to refer those FCIC findings. The co-chairs of that group included Lanny Breuer and Robert Khuzami, who are also co-chairs of the RMBS working group that Schneiderman co-chairs.

[RMBS is Obama’s new mortgage fraud task force that was announced in the State of the Union]

Even those excited about this working group would have to admit that the same people at the federal level had the same access to the same violations of law and sat on their hands for the entire tenure of the Obama Administration. That’s why some people are skeptical that this new working group will lead to anything real.

The Austerians Attack – How we the people can fight back against plans to cut the social safety net

When the economic and financial crisis erupted in 2008, progressives hoped that it would trigger a popular revulsion against the right-wing economic policies that caused the crisis. It is now clear that these expectations are not being met. Moderate progressive policy moves have been overwhelmed by public-sector layoffs and budget cuts as Republicans, too many Democrats and even President Barack Obama himself, have chosen austerity or “belt-tightening” as a main policy objective.

But how did the dogma of these “Austerians” – inspired by the Austrian School of economics – come to dominate public policy?

In US, Austerity Remains a Nagging Problem

Austerity is a major issue abroad, particularly Europe, but it has more to do with the sclerotic economic pace in the US than most people realize. Republicans successfully got spending caps that will ratchet down the budget in years to come, and they’ve already effectively frozen it. But as Jared Bernstein and Krugman show, the bigger contribution to austerity comes from state and local budgets.

You can see the job loss track perfectly with the reduction in spending, and that probably understates it, because state and local governments contract out work to the private sector, which then gets deprived of those jobs when cutbacks occur. And, the cuts happen to be in the worst possible areas, namely investment:

America has the world’s most successful top 1 percent class warriors

Within the developed world, new research shows, no nation has seen the income share of its top 1 percent grow faster over the last three decades than the United States

YouTube censors popular question about marijuana legalization as ‘inappropriate’ in forum with president

Our question, “With over 850,000 Americans arrested in 2010, for marijuana charges alone, and tens of billions of tax dollars being spent locking up non-violent marijuana users, isn’t it time we regulate and tax marijuana?” received 4,023 votes, making it one of the most popular submissions to the forum.

The bad news?  See for yourself:

Tiny protest alarms Russian police

Russian police don’t take kindly to opposition protesters – even if they’re 5cm high and made of plastic.

Police in the Siberian city of Barnaul have asked prosecutors to investigate the legality of a recent protest that saw dozens of small dolls – teddy bears, Lego men, South Park figurines – arranged to mimic a protest, complete with signs reading: “I’m for clean elections” and “A thief should sit in jail, not in the Kremlin”.

“Political opposition forces are using new technologies to carry out public events – using toys with placards at mini-protests,” Andrei Mulintsev, the city’s deputy police chief, said at a press conference this week, according to local media. “In our opinion, this is still an unsanctioned public event.”

An Iraq Vet’s Journey From Wall Street to OWS

In late September 2001, I was living in a tent in Lower Manhattan with the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines, a reserve unit just outside the city. We were occupying Battery Park, which at the time served as the National Guard’s headquarters. “Guarding the guard,” we called it.

In the decade between my occupation of Battery Park and Occupy Wall Street, I saw the country descend into fear and apathy. We became so afraid of Osama bin Laden and Muslims that we borrowed a trillion dollars to wage an unneeded war in Iraq (then forgot about it halfway through). I returned from Falluja in 2006 haunted by the sense that our country had made things worse, not better, for Iraqis. Meanwhile, at home, we’d let an invasive domestic intelligence apparatus go silently to work all around us. And as money dominated politics and bipartisanship degenerated into an impotent ruckus, we let our banks more or less start regulating themselves.

More options needed for youth than military

This summer I had a distant cousin come to Connecticut on vacation. He had just finished high school and excitedly told my family about his plans to enter into the army in about three months. He was from a small town in South Dakota, the kind where you have to travel an hour to buy groceries or gasoline and, besides ranching, mining is one of the largest industries. Southeastern Connecticut (even in its modesty compared to many other parts of the state) was quite a culture shock to him; his camo-hat and John Deere T-shirts made him stick out like a sore thumb. One night I cornered him and probed his desire to enter into the army, asking why, at 18, he thought he should risk death. While he started with the typical reasons of “honor” and “pride,” one thing he said really stuck with me: “I want to get out of South Dakota.”

I realize I risk reading too deeply into this statement, but I think what he was trying to say was that he wanted an economic opportunity. That, without enlisting in the army, he couldn’t afford higher education and was very likely to live the rest of his life laboring in the middle of a state not very many people can pick out on a map. This thought obviously upset me, and I think it parallels an important ideological part of the Occupy movement. An 18-year-old boy should not have to put himself in front of or behind the muzzle of a gun in order to stand a chance of living a life he desires. His options should not fall only between a life of long hours and late nights laboring or being dropped across the globe in a violent combat zone in order to earn his future.

Letter to the editor: Elections bought by the nation’s wealthiest

I am a 78-year-old grandmother who has enough money to trade on the New York Stock Exchange. I am middle class personified, and do not like to be sneered at by the likes of CNBC’s Joe Kernan and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

I am a college graduate who believes that the Occupy Wall Street people are teachers, police officers, firefighters and young people who fear their lives and livelihoods are going to be gone with the Republican tea party values.

The very rich have corrupted this country and brought greediness to its fullest, and have gone so far as to appoint judges to the Supreme Court who have, in the case of Citizens United, allowed our elections to be bought by the nation’s wealthiest.

If I could walk, I would join those who are marching and go to Congress. Then I would go to the Wall Street executives and their comrades and do the same.

Occupy DC Camps Remain As Deadline Passes

Defiant but festive, Occupy DC protesters hunkered down early Tuesday as a deadline passed for U.S. Park Police to begin enforcing a ban on camping in two Washington parks.

“We’re just having a great party,” said Occupy DC representative Sara Shaw. “We’ve camped since October so it’s a lot like any other night. We’re all staying awake and looking out for each other.”

After Mass Arrests, New Criticism of Oakland Police

The last time hundreds of people in the county were arrested at one event was three decades ago – on June 21, 1982 – when 1,300 protesters were taken into custody during an anti-nuclear demonstration at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The large number of arrests is renewing criticism of how Oakland police have responded to Occupy demonstrations. A video taken Saturday shows an officer hitting a protester who is lying on the ground.

In Scotland, evicted Occupiers set up new camp

A NEW Occupy Edinburgh camp is set to be evicted after moving in on the Meadows, it emerged today.

The new camp was set up after the protesters left St Andrew Square after a stay of 100 days and threats of court action.

They now claim to plan an even bigger demo at their new home but moves are already under way to remove them.

In South Africa, charges against Rondebosch occupiers withdrawn – except for Wanza

The charges against 40 people arrested on Friday following the attempted occupation of Rondebosch Common were withdrawn with strict conditions at the Wynberg magistrates’ court because of lack of evidence yesterday.

However the case against Mario Wanza who attempted to organise a three-day civil society summit on jobs, land and housing on the common was postponed until March for further investigation. He was meanwhile released on R500 bail.

Swaziland students clash with police as financial crisis wears on Africa’s last absolute monarchy

Police in Swaziland fired teargas Monday on students protesting their university’s failure to open for the semester, injuring several people, a student leader said.

Police arrested at least four demonstrators after students of the University of Swaziland vowed to occupy the labour ministry and clashed with peers from a teachers college who refused to join their protest.
The financial woes facing Swaziland’s only university have turned political as King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch, faces calls for democratic reforms sparked by a financial crisis that has seen his government almost run out of cash.