The OB Media Rundown for 6/16/12

Transit fare hikes getting you down? Blame the banks

This week, the Refund Transit Coalition, a group of transit advocates, workers and supporters, including the Amalgamated Transit Union and the Transportation Equity Network, released an interesting report. It alleges that a major cause of many recent fare hikes and service cuts is due to interest swaps: financial arrangements that transit systems across the U.S. made with banks on a percentage of their debts, which ended up working in favor of the banks when interest rates plummeted in 2008 and were kept artificially low because of the recession.

We got wind of the report, “Riding the Gravy Train – How Wall Street is Bankrupting our Public Transit Agencies,” through WNYC, which ran a story on how the deal has caused the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (N.Y. MTA) to lose almost $114 million a year and how the agency will likely continue to lose money on the deals for the next 30 years.

Since the transit systems need to pay for operations, they have to raise fares and cut service to make up for the substantial losses, which are further exacerbating budgets alongside lower tax revenues. Adding insult to injury, many of these Wall Street banks, which were bailed out with taxpayer money, the report pointed out, “use their profits to lobby against laws that aim to curb their abuses, to create and inflate the next economic bubble, to find ways to avoid paying their fair share in taxes and pay out billions of dollars in bonuses.”

DREAM Act occupiers skeptical about Obama’s offer of ‘prosecutorial discretion’ – ‘We’ve been down this road before’

Triangle immigration activists were skeptical Friday of the Obama administration’s announcement that it would stop deporting some young illegal immigrants who were brought into the United States as children.

The co-founders of the N.C. Dream Team, a group that backs national legislation that would provide some illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, said President Barack Obama’s announcement falls short of guaranteeing that deportations will be halted. The activists questioned whether the announcement was a political ploy to get the Hispanic vote.

Last year, the administration announced that prosecutors would use discretion in deportation cases, mainly focusing on threats to national security. But deportation numbers continued to rise. “We’re not going to believe the president until we see it happen,” Jose Rico, 22, of Raleigh, a co-founder of the N.C. Dream Team, said about Obama’s Friday announcement. “We’ve been down this road before.”

Immigration groups have attempted to occupy Obama campaign offices across the country to force the administration’s hand on the immigration issue.

Young undocumented students split on Obama administration’s new immigration policy [CA]

Some students were overjoyed by President Barack Obama’s new immigration policy, while others were disappointed it didn’t go further. Even before Obama announced changes to policy affecting young immigrants Friday, a group of Dream Act supporters in Los Angeles were protesting outside his local campaign headquarters. Now they’re saying the president didn’t go far enough.

Jahel Campos is a sophomore in high school, a Dreamer-in-waiting. She’s surrounded by a handful of college students and graduates outside a second-floor strip mall office in Culver City. They’ve been occupying it since Thursday – as if they predicted the president’s announcement.

“We came to occupy Obama’s headquarters because we’re tired of the deportations – we’re tired of the promises, and we think that he’s taking advantage of his reelection to keep our hopes up and to win that Latino vote,” Campos said. “And we don’t want just promises; we want something to happen.”

Protesters occupy Obama campaign headquarters [OH]

Even though campaign season is in full swing, the local Obama headquarters is in lockdown. Inside, two student protesters, wearing their graduation caps and gowns, are occupying the office.

Since Wednesday, they’ve been demanding the president make good on his support for the DREAM Act. “He hasn’t really come through,” said Cruz Bonlarron, a second-generation Puerto Rican.

Though Bonlarron is an American citizen, he says he has been discriminated against because of his Latino heritage, and sympathizes with the plight of immigrants brought to this country as children.

Speaking by phone through a window, Bonlarron and Marco Saavedra aren’t convinced Friday’s executive order goes far enough.

Why the Economy Has Only Recovered for the One Percent

For the fortunate few scanning America’s economic recovery from luxurious penthouse suites, they are treated to the magnificent scenery of record profits, escalating CEO pay and an ever-growing share of the nation’s income.

But for the vast majority, the view remains bleak, despite the 4.3 million private-sector jobs added since early 2010. The horizon is still gray because of ongoing, pervasive wage cuts and a feeble job market. Very decidedly, this is a recovery largely reserved for the Republic-deified “job creators” and the investor class. In 2010, the richest 1% monopolized income gains, hauling in fully 93% of increased income, according to economist Emanuel Saez.

“This is what democracy looks like!”

Among this year’s signs of spring – the return of Occupy protesters.  Of course, the movement didn’t actually go away over the winter so much as mutate. Occupy the Courts, Occupy our Homes, and Occupy the Primaries are all examples of how Occupy protests continue to exist outside the conventions of previous movements. It’s long been pointed out that it’s de-centralized structure and distrust of politics has prevented occupiers from directly endorsing candidates in 2012 – and yet, there are some House and Senate contenders who are inextricably tied to the nationwide protests of last fall.

Indigenous groups and  green activists occupy Amazon dam construction site

Around 300 indigenous and green activists occupied Friday the construction site of a huge hydro-electric dam across the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon, protest organizers said.
The demonstration at the Belo Monte dam sought to draw attention to the project at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development taking place in Rio de Janeiro, more than 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) to the south.

“We call on the world to let our river live,” Antonia Melo, head of the Xingu River Forever Alive Movement, said in a statement.

Euro-Crisis Used to Destroy Social Contract


European adjustments are not the product of a mistake, but a design to break down some of the leftover architecture of the Cold War, which might be called the insurance premium that was paid against conversion to communism.

Troubled Greek Economy Is Being Left to Fend for Itself

No matter what happens in this weekend’s elections, Greece is rapidly becoming an isolated economy.

Global businesses and investors are retreating both because of the uncertainty on whether they might be paid someday in a devalued currency, and because domestic consumption has plunged after three years of painful austerity.

Nearly a quarter of the people are out of work. Buying power has shriveled. Sales of clothing and pharmaceuticals have slumped, and even gas purchases are down as people drive less to save money. Companies short on cash have stopped paying one another.

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