The OB Media Rundown for 5/31/12

City of Buffalo shifts $45 million from JPMorgan to First Niagara

The City of Buffalo is withdrawing $45 million from JPMorgan Chase and depositing the money with First Niagara Financial Group, City Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder announced today.

The Buffalo Sewer Authority funding will earn 0.30 percent interest in the new account, more than the 0.25 percent rate it had been getting with JPMorgan, Schroeder said in a written statement.

The move follows concerns about JPMorgan raised with the Common Council by members of the Occupy Buffalo movement, who asked that the city withdraw its deposits from the institution.

“Not only will the funds earn more interest with First Niagara, a major local employer headquartered in Buffalo, but it also sends a crystal clear message to JPMorgan Chase that the City of Buffalo is not happy with their business practices,” Schroeder said.

3 Years After Taxpayer Bailout, Bank of America Ships Jobs Overseas

Bank of America, which last fall announced plans to lay off 30,000 workers, is about to go on a hiring spree-overseas.

America’s second-largest bank is relocating its business-support operations to the Philippines, according to a high-ranking Filipino government official recently quoted in the Filipino press. The move, which includes a portion of the bank’s customer service unit, comes less than three years after Bank of America received a $45 billion federal bailout.

Roman Romulo, deputy majority leader of the Philippine House of Representatives, bragged to the Manila Standard Today earlier this month that the Philippines “has secured its place as the world’s fastest-growing outsourcing hub.” Romulo pointed out that BofA is the last of the “big four” US banks to move their business-support network to his island nation, where the average family makes $4,700 a year.

Postal Workers, Community Allies Increase Pressure as USPS Cuts Loom

As Congress dallies, postal workers and community activists are turning to civil disobedience to combat the sweeping cuts planned for the Postal Service.

Ten postal worker and community activists in Portland, Oregon, were arrested May 24 when they occupied the city’s University Station post office, refusing to leave and blocking the closure of the office’s retail desk.

Nearly 100 supporters rallied outside as the activists inside held their ground, singing and holding banners proclaiming “Occupy the Post Office” and “No Closures! No Cuts!” Police hauled them out after an hour and a half.

Chevron taken to task at shareholders meeting

Chevron executives sparred with activist shareholders at a contentious annual meeting Wednesday at company headquarters in San Ramon that included discussions about flacking techniques, environmental issues, jobs and the nation’s energy policies.

Afterward, Chevron CEO John Watson met with reporters and said the company wants the nation to embrace a “coherent” energy policy.

“I have yet to see a coherent energy strategy,” Watson said. “One minute you hear about affordable energy. Then you hear about energy security. Then about environmental policies. Those all have to be reconciled.”

For the first time, the Occupy movement joined the annual protest outside the shareholders meeting. Police estimated the crowd to be about 100; no arrests were reported.

Pipeline protests mar oil and gas summit

The Occupy Vancouver Environmental Justice Group rallied environmentalists and concerned citizens Wednesday outside the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver, where Enbridge was meeting with several other oil companies.

Equipped with signs and banners, the movement loudly voiced its opposition towards new tar sands pipeline and tanker projects, such as the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline running from the Alberta oil sands to Kitimat, B.C.

“When they’re in a building like this, they’re hiding,” Stephen Collis, speaker for the protest movement, told CTV News. “They can try to keep it out of sight, out of mind, until they bring out their glitzy show in the newspaper or a TV commercial.”

Don’t taze us, we’re with the media

Since Occupy began, authorities nationwide have seemed eager to keep press at a distance. While reporters from large news organizations have mostly gone along with that, their less-well-paid nontraditional counterparts – bloggers, freelancers, livestreamers, and Twitterati – have been up close and elbow-deep, risking arrest or worse.

Josh Stearns of the media-reform nonprofit Free Press, which tracks journalist arrests, says the 2008 Republican National Convention set a new tone for the treatment of reporters. “This sort of thing was seen as an aberration,” he says. “Now, though, every other week we learn about at least two more arrests. It’s no longer an aberration – it’s a trend, and it’s an ongoing issue.”

It’s also a familiar issue for Netroots Nation veterans. Since 2008, the progressive conference and lefty blogger summit has given a voice to reporters who have been working on the front lines of protests. But things have worsened since Occupy erupted, with more than 80 journalists – from credentialed photographers to independent livestreamers – being detained on the beat.

How Much Did Police Raid on Occupy-Backed Cruz Home Cost Mineapolis?


“We want to know how much this cost,” said Neighborhoods Organizing for Change and Occupy Homes activist Anthony Newby following the Minneapolis Police and Hennepin County Sheriffs raid on the Cruz house Tuesday.

“We’re looking around at home many police officers they have, the fire department, rescue squad. The fire department boarding up the home, they’ve blocked off traffic from both ways. The question is how much does this cost the taxpayer. When you have a family that’s begging to make payments, and a bank that’s actively in negotiations with the family. It just doesn’t make any sense. This is costing tens of thousands of dollars on this single day alone to forcibly remove a family that wants to be in the community, that’s made their payments on time, that wants to continue to pay.”

Minneapolis Police Chief on Seizing Occupy-Backed Home: We’re Done With This Job

Dozens of Minneapolis police officers (and representatives from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office) stormed the Cruz family house in South Minneapolis yesterday and, in their third attempt, successfully took the foreclosed house from Occupy Homes protestors and boarded it up. Police held nearly 100 protestors at bay, despite a tense standoff that involved pushing and shoving.

Following the action, Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan confirmed that the mortgage lender (he cited Fannie Mae, but meant Freddie Mac) and not PNC Bank (which originally serviced the loan) had called for the raid. Occupy Homes activists claim that Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank has shown a willingness to negotiate with the Cruz family, which is now effectively homeless.

Chief Dolan also implied that the City’s work was finished, and that Minneapolis would no longer expend resources to protect the Cruz home on behalf of Freddie Mac. Activists interpreted this to mean that the police was effectively adopting a moratorium on forced home evictions.

Occupy ‘Elders’ Take on ‘Too Big to Fail’ Banks [FL]

In part of a national “Move Your Money” campaign, Occupy St. Petersburg will be protesting outside the Bank of America in downtown St. Pete at 11:30 a.m. Friday.  The group’s goal is to have people move their money from “too big to fail” banks to local banks or credit unions.

According to an Occupy news release, the “Elders” of Occupy St. Pete are organizing the demonstration, all of who are experienced activists and most are over the age of 50.

“When we show up with walkers and scooters and our gray hair it becomes very difficult to see Occupy represented in St. Petersburg as a bunch of misguided college kids or want to be hippies, ” said Lenny Flank, a member of the Elders group in a news release. “Occupy is and has always been about the 99 percent, and of course seniors are very much part of that group and are well represented in the movement here in St. Petersburg.”

Netizens to hit streets against website ban [India]

Protests over blocking of websites are likely to become strident with hacktivist group Anonymous planning demonstrations in 11 cities on June 9 for restoring internet freedom. The group had targeted government sites and corporate websites after several file and link sharing sites were blocked by authorities and internet service providers (ISPs) recently.

Occupy Exeter to return with new ‘direct action’ [UK]

OCCUPY Exeter is preparing for its first major direct action since it was evicted from Cathedral Close. The new action will take place on Exeter High Street on May 31 at 12pm.

Occupy Exeter will be using this direct action to bring attention to the ‘death of the high street’.

A spokesman for the group said: “When even national companies are closing down branches and unable to sustain jobs and livelihoods, how can our local producers survive – how is the council supporting them? Our high street was listed as the top ‘clone’ high street in 2005, and now sits second place after Cambridge since 2010. However, we still haven’t seen any new independent shops.

Spanish Recession Seen Deepening Amid Crisis Contagion

Spain has succumbed to its second recession since 2009 as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy cuts spending and raises taxes to rein in the euro area’s third-largest budget deficit and curb borrowing costs. The premium investors charge to hold the nation’s 10-year debt rather than the German equivalent widened to a euro-era record this week amid concern the nation’s lenders will need additional financial support.

“The intensification of the debt crisis and growing banking-sector difficulties are sapping consumer confidence,” said Thomas Costerg, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank in London. “Consumers are postponing purchases of discretionary items and investment goods like cars.”