The OB Media Rundown for 2/7/12

Occupy Boston gears up for Spring revival

Although officials ended Occupy Boston’s Dewey Square encampment in December, protester Dennis Jackson said he wants to “keep up the fight.” About 30 people attended a General Assembly at Emmanuel Church on Thursday night to discuss upcoming plans.

“Keep up the fight, this is the beginning of the second American Revolution,” Jackson said to the group. “What started in Egypt is going to spread to D.C. over this upcoming election.”

Letter to the Editor: Homeless ignored

At Occupy Boston we fed hundreds of people – many of them homeless – daily for free. Lots of the food was organic and vegetarian. The way of the future is going to be “we the people” getting together and doing it ourselves in public places like the parks. We can’t rely on government.

No matter what got these people in their position – circumstance or choice – they’re still human beings (Feb. 2). The cost of having your homeless population warm and fed is still lower than having them starving, stealing or being brought to the ER.

Elite economics articulated: ‘You deserve to suffer, and suffering is good for you anyway’

[It is] the belief that recessions, and particularly tight money, represent some sort of bracing, morally essential “purging” of evil spirits in the American psyche, reminding the great unwashed that they’d better keep their heads down and not get too irrationally exuberant. This attitude keeps popping up in the pronouncements of inflation fighters, some of them powerful players in our monetary system.
. . .

It’s a habit that actually predates [Andrew] Mellon and [Herbert] Hoover, going back at least to the monetary policy battles of the late nineteenth century, during which farmers starved for credit and suffering from chronically low prices were regularly accused of moral laxity.

The flip side of this syndrome, of course, is the tendency to believe that economic success and the ability to be a creditor instead of a debtor is a sign of strong moral fiber. Today’s conservative lionization of “job creators” is an example; as is the constant baiting of relatively comfortable elderly people to resent younger and poorer people as parasites seeking to rob them of the resources their virtue has earned them.

Former Wall Street Trader: ‘There’s No Other Industry Where You Could Get Paid So Much For Doing So Little’

In a new piece in New York magazine, a former Lehman Bros trader explained that, in his view, “there’s no other industry where you could get paid so much for doing so little”:

“Many [on Wall Street] acknowledge that the bubble_-bust-bubble seesaw of the past decades isn’t the natural order of capitalism-and that the compensation arrangements just may have been a bit out of whack. “There’s no other industry where you could get paid so much for doing so little,” a former Lehman trader said.”

Independent investigator found – and reported – lawlessness and negation of contract law in the mortgage industry as early as the 1990s

“From my own personal experience and 20 years of research and investigation, nothing – and I mean nothing – that a bank, lender, loan servicer or their lawyer says or puts on paper can be trusted and accepted as true.”

Supreme Court ideologues deliberately set out to create a new system of plutocratic government with Citizens United

Ascribing an outrageous decision to naiveté is actually the most sympathetic way of looking at what the court did in Citizens United. A more troubling interpretation is that a conservative majority knew exactly what it was doing: that it set out to remake our political system by fiat in order to strengthen the hand of corporations and the wealthy. Seen this way, Citizens United was an attempt by five justices to push future electoral outcomes in a direction that would entrench their approach to governance.

Obama appoints Michael Taylor, former VP and lobbyist for Monsanto, to senior position within the FDA

[This is a link to a petition demanding his removal, as a recent news article about this wasn’t available]

Taylor was in charge of policy for Monsanto’s now-discredited GM bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which is opposed by many medical and hospital organizations. It was Michael Taylor who pursued a policy that milk from rBGH-treated cows should not be labeled with disclosures.

‘Occupy’ A Cause And Get Involved

I’ve often thought I might quite like to “Occupy” something.

In recent months, the prospect has loomed prevalently in our American university consciousness, and I don’t mind admitting I have found it rather exciting. As if the surging, youthful crowds and impassioned chants and cries of a burgeoning economic and social revolution weren’t enough, the cultural phenomenon has opened the door to a host of new topical jokes (my favorite involves the controversial success of the “Occupy Tibet” branch of the movement).

And yet, despite my affection for Occupy Wall Street and its intellectual offspring around the nation, I remain personally uninvolved, at least until the publication of this column, which must have happened by the time you’re reading this unless you’ve stolen my laptop (in which case, you have excellent taste).

2nd wave of evictions is sweeping away Occupiers

A tent city that’s among the longest-lived Occupy protest encampments is coming down as part of a new wave of eviction orders against demonstrators aligned with the movement in communities including Miami, Washington and Pittsburgh.

Organizing Occupy, Without Occupations

In forging its identity through a nationwide series of encampments, Occupy’s moniker grew to signify more than simply taking up space. And now that activists don’t have to focus their efforts on keeping their encampments intact, they can focus on new tactics, such as Monday’s rally at a New York State tax hearing, or the nationwide May Day “general strike,” that about 10,000 people have promised to participate in on Facebook.

Even without its tents, Occupy has managed to introduce a slew of new ideas into the national dialogue: The voice of the so-called 99 percent of people who don’t fall into the wealthiest 1 percent, the idea of making decisions using a consensus process, the notion that corporate greed does harm to the rest of us. It also created its own little subculture that came to represent these ideas. As the movement fades from the headlines, these bits of activist shorthand have remained, and Occupy is counting on the shared culture they represent to carry it through to bigger actions this spring, organizers in New York said on Monday.

How the Occupy movement’s physical occupations changed urban government

For decades, city officials and urban thinkers alike have been convinced that cities are beholden to the whims of mobile consumers and capital investors, who are indifferent to the virtues of any particular place and will simply locate wherever they are offered the most handsome package of amenities. Cities across the globe have viewed themselves as locked in a zero-sum competition in which the winners will be those who enact the most business and consumer-friendly policies – anything from tax breaks to zoning incentives to privatization of city services.

The Occupy movement challenged cities’ attachment to mobile capital by making place central to its worldview. In establishing flimsy tent-cities in actual urban spaces and refusing to leave, the Occupy protests mocked the idea of mobility peddled by urban officials. More than that, they implicitly advocated the notion that urban areas are places bound up with the identity of local communities, rather than disposable products in a global marketplace.

Romney giving no quarter about very poor still echoes across America

While the dishwaser father of nine-year-old Steven said in a Feb. 6 Hulilq interview that “I’m just happy that I have a job, and can provide some support for my son,” this 30-something young man seemed broken after also explaining that he was on “welfare” for many years and still gets “food stamps” to help feed both him and his son.

When asked about possible future President Mitt Romney’s recent remarks: “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there,” the father stopped looking at his son fly his new birthday kite and remarked: “Who likes living in a safety net?”

In turn, The New York Times reported that after Romney’s “I’m not concerned about the very poor” remark – during a Feb. 1 interview with CNN – the comment has “ricocheted around the Web and cable news channels.”

CNN’s political contributor problem

Roland Martin has now become the third CNN political analyst to cause controversy this year.

Last month, Dana Loesch celebrated U.S. Marines who had urinated on Taliban corpses, announcing, “I’d drop trou and do it too.”

Last week, Erick Erickson celebrated the tasing of an Occupy D.C. protester, saying, “Watching a hippie protester get tased just makes my day.”

Now, the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is calling for Martin’s removal from the network for a comment he made on Twitter about H&M’s Super Bowl ad featuring a near-naked David Beckham: “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham’s H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!”

California kicks off campaign to tax the rich

A campaign to tax the rich has started in California as Restoring California coalition kicked off its signature campaign here Monday to qualify a “Millionaire Tax Initiative”on the November ballot.

Marc Rich, an activist of the Restoring California coalition formed by educators and community leaders, told Xinhua the campaign got inspirations from the Occupy Wall Street movement that the richest people in American are not paying their fair share of taxes.

Facing potentially large Occupy protests for the G-8/Nato summit, Illinois’ audio recording law that could allow felony arrest of reporters is under scrutiny

In the era of smart phones and YouTube, many people have grown used to recording their lives, from fun moments with friends to tense encounters with police. Some have discovered the hard way that this can result in felony charges – for recording their arrest, for peddling without a license, for instance, or taping police in a dispute about old cars on a lawn.

Many more people could be introduced to the Illinois law in May when thousands of protesters and journalists head to Chicago for the NATO and G8 summits. The Society of Professional Journalists plans to have volunteer lawyers ready to help if visiting reporters are arrested while recording protests.

Occupy protesters get public hearing after protest at Milwaukee City Hall

Alderman Ashanti Hamilton has agreed to allow a public hearing for at least one of the demands brought forth by the Occupy the Hood protesters at Milwaukee’s City Hall on Monday.

City Hall had around 40 Occupy the Hood protesters, as they were screaming and demanding to talk to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett about foreclosures in the city, according to Newsradio 620 WTMJ’s Nick Iannelli.

Iannelli reports that Alderman Willie Wade tried to go down to the main floor to calm down the protesters, but one of the organizers was yelling at Wade to let them upstairs to protest outside Mayor Barrett’s office, but officials did not let the protesters upstairs.

Occupy protesters disrupt NY budget hearing

Occupy Albany protesters have disrupted a legislative budget hearing with calls for tax fairness and claims Wall Street pays too little.

They say millionaires should be taxed more and corporations and the rich have too much influence in both state and federal governments.

The protesters also criticized increases in state university tuition.

In Wisconsin, school district sends out automated call to sabotage high school Occupiers protest against school cuts

[This is a somewhat hostile, disparaging media report, but it’s the only report available of the protest. About 60 students did show up for the protest.]

There was also the matter of an automated phone call that the district placed to student households Monday, informing parents that they may have received misinformation from their students about an official meeting at the ESC (ESC = educational support center) later in the day, and that there was no such meeting scheduled.

District officials were not available for comment late Monday afternoon.

Oster said he was pleased with the students who did show up and with the message they spread. He said they plan to return before the board meeting next week.

‘Aggravated solicitation’: The Oregon Bill That Would Criminalize Twitter

[Tweet] “Occupy Portland calls for national day of action on #F29 Shut down the corporations”

Under a bill debated today in Oregon, that tweet could be illegal.

The bill, SB 1534, would make it a felony to use “electronic communication to solicit two or more persons to commit [a] specific crime at [a] specific time and location.” The punishment could include up to 5 years in prison and a $125,000 fine.

Critics worry that the bill is so broadly construed that it could outlaw everything from tweets about student sit-ins to Facebook posts calling for the occupation of Zuccotti Park in Manhattan. In Oregon, it might become a tool to crack down on Occupy Portland, which is calling for the nonviolent shutdown of corporations such as Bank of America and ExxonMobil later this month.

Attempt to criminalize tweets that solicit law-breaking fizzles at Oregon Legislature

It was dubbed the “flash mob” bill when it got a hearing Monday at the Oregon Legislature — a proposal to make it a felony to summon people by Twitter or email to commit a crime at a designated place.

Now it’s more like flash-in-the-pan.

“It’s dead,” said Sen. Floyd Prozanski, the Eugene Democrat who, because he holds the gavel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, gets to decide such things.

Yet 11 Republicans and one Democrat signed onto Senate Bill 1534, which would have created the crime of “aggravated solicitation.” And we’re not talking street corners here.

Portland [OR] solidarity with Occupy Oakland event prompts pre-emptive response from police department

Yes, one of the fliers that police scanned and sent out does exhort marchers to “fight back now,” which could be read as clandestine and threatening. But then there’s the official (and quite public) Facebook page for the event-which the police bureau doesn’t mention. “The purpose of this action is to show solidarity and raise awareness,” the event summary reads. “Conduct yourself in an orderly and respectful manner, but be revolutionary!”

And what about the police bureau’s assertion that this is an Occupy Portland event? That’s not quite accurate. The cops’ statement misses the nuance that although this is being planned by some of the more radical participants in Occupy, it’s been neither promoted nor endorsed through the movement’s spokescouncil or general assembly. (In fact, it isn’t even on any of the movement’s official calendars.)

“It’s a guy from Occupy doing it,” says Occupy media volunteer Alex Pio. “But it’s not an ‘Occupy event.'”

UC Davis Spent $100K on Crisis Consultant

UC spent $100,000 to hire a consultant to help with damage control after a UC Police officer doused a line of “Occupy UC Davis” protesters, damaging the university’s image and angering many people worldwide.

Flight attendants to ‘OccuFLY’ LAX over collective bargaining attack on the Railroad Act, one of the nation’s oldest labor laws

If you’re heading to the airport on Monday afternoon, you could find your terminal “occupied”. Chris Sedens reports a group of flight attendants held an “OccuFLY” protest at Los Angeles International Airport.

Representatives from over 20 different airlines along with “concerned citizens from around the country” took part in a protest against what they said marks the latest attack on their collective bargaining rights.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) alleges that lawmakers in Washington have partnered in a “secret deal” that would undermine workers’ decisions on whether to have union representation by altering the Railway Act, one of the nation’s oldest labor laws.

Letter to the editor: Wave goodbye to middle class

It appears to me that our federal government [Canada] is out to eliminate the middle class and return us to the conditions that existed at the time of the Industrial Revolution where there were two classes: peasants and aristocrats. It is already obvious that the middle class, created by unions, is in decline thus we have the Occupy movement, which I am sure we have not seen the last of.

Canadian Auto Workers threaten to occupy Caterpillar plant

The Canadian Auto Workers union says laid-off workers may occupy the Electro-Motive Diesel plant in London, Ont., if the parent company, Caterpillar, does not offer the workers what it deems to be adequate compensation for the loss of their jobs.

Caterpillar announced the plant’s closure on Friday after prolonged contract negotiations and a key demand that would have seen some workers’ pay cut in half.

Anti-austerity protests bring down Romania’s government

Romania’s government has collapsed following weeks of protests against austerity measures, the latest debt-stricken government in Europe to fall in the face of raising public anger over biting cuts.

Police strikers occupy tense Brazilian city

Thousands of police strikers occupying part of the state legislature in the tense northeastern Brazilian city of Salvador vowed to resist yesterday if government troops moved to evict them amid escalating violence reported to have claimed 83 lives.

The police strike, which began six days ago, led to a wave of looting, assaults and at least 83 murders mainly in Salvador, capital of Bahia state, two weeks before the start of Carnival, which attracts tens of thousands of tourists.