The OB Media Rundown for 2/16/12

Longshore workers name Occupy Movement as crucial in settlement with EGT

On Friday, members of the ILWU and the labor community named the Occupy Movement as key to the settlement reached Thursday between ILWU Local 21 and the Export Grain Terminal (EGT). The contract finally provides for the use of ILWU labor in the grain terminal at the Port of Longview [Washington State]. After staging the December 12 port shutdowns in solidarity with Local 21, the West Coast Occupy Movement planned coordinated action together with labor allies for a land and water blockade of the EGT ship in Longview, should it attempt to use scab labor to load. Occupys in states where EGT’s parent company Bunge has its growth and operations were also planning actions against the company on the day of the arrival of the ship.

“This is a victory for Occupy in their involvement in forcing negotiations. Make no mistake – the solidarity and organization between the Occupy Movement and the Longshoremen won this contract,” said Jack Mulcahy, ILWU officer with Local 8. “The mobilization of the Occupy Movement across the country, particularly in Oakland, Portland, Seattle, and Longview were a critical element in bringing EGT to the bargaining table and forcing a settlement with ILWU local 21.”

With camps gone, Occupiers prepare for new fights

In interviews with Occupy groups in more than a dozen states – on both coasts and across the Midwest – activists described training for nonviolent confrontation, plans for spring rallies at state capitols and preparations for a major presence at the G-8 and NATO summits to be held in Chicago in May.

“We have had to get back to more conventional grassroots organizing methods to get more people involved and engaged,” said Chris Schwartz, a member of Iowa’s Occupy Cedar Valley. “What we’re doing is building out infrastructure for the spring.”

What We Owe to Each Other – An Interview with David Graeber

What we’ve seen over the last 30 years is a war on the human imagination. That’s the other starting point for this book-that in 2008 we had this crash, and all these assumptions we’ve been told we’ve had to accept for 30 years came crashing to the ground along with the market. One of them is the assumption that markets are actually self-sustaining. Obviously not true. Another one was that the people running them are competent. For years we were told that they aren’t very nice people-they’re greedy bastards, actually-but they know what they’re doing. All other systems just don’t work. These guys are incredibly bright, they’re incredibly competent. No, it turns out actually that they don’t even understand the working of their own financial instruments, or as far as they do, they’re engaged in scams. They trashed the entire system.

Assumption number three is that all debts ought to be repaid. Actually, no, debts don’t really need to be repaid, because AIG, who owes money, can wave a variety of different magic wands and debts can be made to disappear. Once you understand that the narrative we’ve been handed has been false, you’d think this would be the moment when you start thinking about larger questions: Why do we have an economy? What is debt? What is money? How could these things be organized differently? What do we need to keep and what do we change? You would think this would be the moment for international discussion about the basic assumptions that we’ve been making, and it seemed for about two weeks that it was going to happen.

The right’s newest welfare queen is white. And from Philly

Charles Murray, a leading right-wing polemicist, has spent three decades beating up on poor black people. His new book, however, is an act of more equal opportunity opprobrium, arguing that white working class America is in crisis because it has a fucked up and backward culture. And his main example is Philadelphia’s Fishtown.

Murray complains that Fishtown residents are increasingly less moral than people in Belmont, based on the wealthy white Boston suburb full of “successful people in managerial and professional occupations – the elites who are in positions of influence over the nation’s economy, media, intellectual life, and politics.” Which is where Mitt Romney lives – so I suppose he offers a lesson in hypocrisy, avarice and greed, huh? But beyond Murray’s poisonous politics, the biggest problem is that his argument is wrong.

He says that the real Fishtown went from “a tightly knit, family oriented, hard-drinking, hard-working, hard-fighting blue-collar neighborhood” in the 1950s  to a “a neighborhood that had experienced the decline of industriousness among males, the drop in marriage, rise in nonmarital births, rise in crime, and falling away from religion” today.

He fails to note the the decline in “industriousness” parallels a breathtaking decline in actual industry. Thanks to deindustrialization there are far fewer good jobs today for people in Fishtown than there were in his 1950s glory days. While Occupy Wall Street condemns corporate greed for fueling Gilded Age-style income inequality, Murray blames working-class people in places like Fishtown for their problems.

A church helps members transfer money from big banks to a minority-owned credit union

On Tuesday, members of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in North Oakland participated in a bank “transfer day” in conjunction with Occupy the Dream, a campaign for economic justice inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The church asked people throughout the Oakland community to move at least $30 from a conventional banking institution to a minority-owned bank or credit union.

Voter ID Laws Target the Most Vulnerable

States across the country have enacted or are in the process of enacting a range of laws and policies making it harder to vote. This new wave of voter restrictions not only includes photo ID laws but also proof of citizenship, reducing early and absentee ballot voting, ending same-day voter registration, and restrictions to restoring voting rights after incarceration.

According to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, more than 5 million voters could be affected by these laws and, as we explain below, they are an expensive way to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

Survey: Fox News Viewers Least Informed, Most Negative About Occupy Wall Street

A new national University of Delaware survey reveals that Fox News Channel viewers know less about the Occupy Wall Street protests than consumers of other media sources, and hold particularly negative views about the protests.

Among Fox News viewers, only 56 percent correctly identified the protesters’ main message as “too few people control the majority of the nation’s wealth and power.” The rest either incorrectly said that protesters’ main message was “there is too much regulation on business and industry” or did not answer the question. Consumers of other media sources included in the survey were more likely to know the right answer.
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Paul Brewer, associate director for research of the Center for Political Communication, said, “Given that the issues raised by the Occupy Wall Street movement could play a key role in this year’s presidential election campaign, it’s interesting that Americans consuming a wide range of media sources tend to be sympathetic to the movement. It’s also striking how the audience that’s the biggest exception – Fox News viewers – is also the least informed about the movement.”

Thanks to Occupy, Senate Looks at Inequality

I had the opportunity to testify on inequality before the Senate Budget Committee last week. No one seems to recall the last time the committee devoted a whole hearing to this issue. So you can add this to the signs of the Occupy movement’s impact on our political discourse.

The Committee’s Ranking Member, Senator Jeff Sessions, and Republican witnesses tried to raise doubts about the inequality data, questioning whether things were really as bad as they look. I didn’t envy them the task of being an inequality denier in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Occupy update from the California Democratic Convention

A bouquet of roses to Richard Hall of Vista, a delegate for the 74th Assembly District, one of the few to leave the convention center to stand in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street protesters. Meanwhile, a trio of Young Democrats earned a pound of crap for standing inside, looking out the window, as they debated whether they should feel ashamed they weren’t out there protesting, too.

‘Occupy 90210’ to Protest Outside Obama’s $40K-per-Plate Campaign Fundraiser in L.A.

Occupy L.A. will morph “Occupy 90210” for the evening, taking over a park in nearby Beverly Hills to protest “the corrupting role that Big Money plays in politics.”

Santorum Is So Spooked By Stormy Washington Visit That He Wants Secret Service Protection

Rick Santorum likes to kid that his penchant for sweater vests is all about making a statement about the Second Amendment — you know, the right to “bare” arms. He really is a laugh a minute kind of guy. But after his sojourn here Monday, where he clashed with gay marriage activists and Occupy Wall Street protestors, the stand-up jokester is thinking about bringing on the big guys with sunglasses.

The visit clearly spooked the GOP presidential candidate, the one who’s emerged as Mitt Romney’s fiercest rival. He’d barely started speaking at the Monday evening outside the Washington State History Museum when protesters in the crowd interrupted him with chants. Two people were dragged out by police and ultimately three protestors were arrested.

And because of that, Secret Service protection is needed? Come on, Rick.

Candidates using secret service to demonize Occupy, gay activists

Now, according to the Christian Post, Santorum’s campaign wants Secret Service to protect him from those “radical elements.” Mitt Romney did the same thing last month, again citing ideological opponents as a potential threat. Whether the men truly fear for their safety is unknown, but you can bet your bottom dollar they and their peers are more than happy to portray Occupy protesters as a threat.

Ever since the Occupy movement first came together last year, their enemies on the right have bent over backward to depict them as instigators of “class warfare.” By asking Secret Service for protection, Santorum and Romney both are intentionally reinforcing the image that these activists are somehow dangerous, helping turn public opinion against a movement that speaks for the majority. It will definitely work to the GOP’s advantage – their voters are more than willing to believe the 99% are revolutionaries – while also further dividing our already splintered country. It’s a win-win for them. The rest of us, of course, only lose.

Occupy Wall Street Plans Fashionable Fashion Week Protest

It’s surprising that Occupy Wall Street hasn’t yet paid a proper visit to New York Fashion Week, that sparkly distillation of all things 1%. That will change tomorrow, when Occupy Wall Street marches on the last day of Fashion Week, and perhaps attempts to shut down a Calvin Klein show.

Occupy Wall Street plans to arrive at the Calvin Klein show at West 39th St. tomorrow at 2pm, after a long march from lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. There, they hope to convince 99 attendees of the first of Calvin Klein’s two shows to wear dripping red eye makeup, highlighting the plight of the 99 percent in appropriately fashion-y fashion. The red eyes are meant to show solidarity with those students drenched in pepper spray at UC Davis last year, Occupy Wall Street organizer Justin Stone-Diaz told me in a phone interview today.
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“If there aren’t 99 people at the two o’clock show, we’ll decide how we’re going to close down [the three o’clock show],” Stone-Diaz said. (And as we’ve found out, it’s not as hard as you might imagine to infiltrate a fashion show.) Occupy Wall Street is always organizationally complex, and in this case the actual shutting down of Calvin Klein will be accomplished by an autonomous entity called the the Queer Transgender Direct Action group, if it happens, according to Stone-Diaz.

Chicago asked not to stifle wireless at summits

Protesters will be flocking to Chicago for May’s G-8 and NATO summits armed with smartphones, video cameras and links to social media sites they’ll use for strategizing and sharing images of what’s happening _ right in front of a police force known for responding with tough tactics.

Now a city councilman wants to forbid the police department from pulling the plug on the electronic communication during the events, taking away a tactic employed by authorities during a crackdown on democratic protests in Egypt and during protests in the San Francisco Bay Area last year.
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Munoz said he has no indication police are contemplating shutting down cellphone use or social media sites. A police department spokeswoman said Superintendent Garry McCarthy has no plans to take such a step.

Protesters plan ‘Occupy Koch Town’ in Wichita

Protesters are hoping to draw people from across the nation to Wichita over the President’s Day weekend for an “Occupy Koch Town” event.

Wichita is the home of Koch Industries and the three-day event is billed as a protest against Charles and David Koch. The group contends the brothers exemplify corporate dominance of politics and distortion of science that is perpetuating bad energy policy.

Occupy Greeley [CO] to show “Gasland” on Friday

Occupy Greeley is partnering with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom to show “Gasland,” a film by Josh Fox focusing on the recent natural gas drilling boom, at 11:45 a.m. on Friday at the Lincoln Park Library, 919 7th St. Greeley.

Elaine Schmidt, chairwoman of the women’s group, said the organizations have shown the film twice before and are showing it a third time because of popular demand.

“Twice before the turnout was great,” Schmidt said. “There were many farmers that came in that were interested and landowners who had gas on their land and just wanted to know more about it.”

Occupy Movement Comes to Cupertino [CA]

In a quiet and cerebral manner an Occupy movement is growing in Cupertino, but the overnight campouts are not done in protest, they are in support of the school, which is why this movement calls itself Occupy for Education at De Anza College.

“It’s not a protest, we’re mobilizing students,” said Emily Kinner, student trustee.

Balancing activism and school

Through the side door on an art gallery building on Pine Street, a dingy stairway leads up to a large room scattered with mattresses, boxes, and chairs here and there. To the right is what the Occupiers call the “Day Room,” scantly furnished with a couch, a television, and a kitchen without running water. Handwritten quotes and diagrams cover the walls. This is Occupy Atlanta’s headquarters. This is where Megan Tiu, an 18-year-old dual-enrollment student at Georgia State, spent a month last fall shortly after the Occupy Atlanta movement initiated.
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This semester, Tiu has tried to stay on track with school, although she did miss class to attend Occupy Congress in D.C., where she worked with other Occupiers to plan action in Atlanta. She says that Occupy AT&T was the first event she really had an active hand in planning.

“My usual role is that I’m one of the main people that facilitate our General Assemblies. As of late, I’ve done more action planning, like handling the logistics, flyers, and other things for the AT&T event,” said Tiu.

Letter to the editor: ‘Occupy’ achieved main goal [TX]

Anyone who claims the “Occupy” movement has no clear message is either trying to discredit it or simply isn’t paying attention. This protest always has been about economic injustice and the fact that a small handful of people have corrupted our system in their favor (“Editorial: ‘Occupy’ movement fading out in a whimper”).

The fact that so many elites were alarmed and frightened by the initial outcry (including members of Congress, who are supposed to represent all the people – shame on them!) goes to show that they are in fact living in a house of cards.

NEW: Occupy Movement Comes to RI’s East Bay

The worldwide Occupy Movement is coming to the East Bay this Tuesday, February 21st. Panelists from Occupy Providence and other Occupy groups will discuss their participation in the Occupy movement, how it’s been growing, and how others can join at Rogers Free Library in Bristol from 6 pm to 8 pm.

The discussion is being held due to substantial interest of the East Bay in setting up a local Occupy movement group.

Ex-President Carter says Occupy movement successful in putting wealth disparity on agenda

Former President Jimmy Carter said on Wednesday that Occupy organizers have created a “relatively successful” movement because they focused national discussion on wealth disparity despite lacking leadership and a unifying set of goals.

The Georgia Democrat said at an event in Atlanta that Occupy organizers have succeeded in forcing the media and Congress to realize the “chasm is getting greater than leaps and bounds” between the rich and the poor.

Group holds memorial in honour of victims occupy Lagos

LAGOS – PRO-LABOUR civil society group, under the umbrella of Joint Action Front, JAF, has said it had concluded plans to hold a “political memory” on Saturday, in honour of those killed and injured by security operatives during the popular struggle of January 9 – 16, for the reversal of the fuel price hike.