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    The OB Media Rundown for 6/22/12

    How the 99 percent are cannon fodder for America’s wars

    They are the One Percent who have the best weapons, the best training, and the lion’s share of victories. But when the war is over, One Percent Warriors return home. Once decommissioned, they are no longer triumphant.

    They face free-fall into the group where one out of six people cannot find a full-time job, where mortgages turn to dust along with the houses they had secured, and all the good jobs require the education they do not have. Without their weapons, they control nothing. When the One Percent Warriors arrive home, do they realize that they have spent their tours of duty killing those who mirror themselves: the 99 Percent who Occupy the world? Our enemies have endured lives of vast inequity, where the wealthy control power, corruption assures power, and the military enforces power. Now they are restless, refusing to defer to the One-Percent. Could it happen here?

    Occupy effect on the rich

    When world events show us brewing meltdown (Spain), total meltdown (Greece),  and full blown revolution (Arab Spring), the super wealthy in the U.S. might have imagined a life locked in their Beverly Hills mansions  – afraid to go out into the street and enjoy the culture of Los Angeles. Perhaps they imagined being afraid to even let the servants in to maintain their mansion.

    Also, the harsh realities of Greece’s situation and ensuing austerity measures must have stuck a chord with wealthy investors in this country who realize that if things really fall apart in the U.S. their fortune will take a huge hit.

    So even though it’s for their own well being, which might not seem like the “right reason,” it’s nice to know that the ‘powers that be’ are more open to policy that can assuage the situation that the struggling poverty level citizenry is faced with.

    How Austerity Is Hurting State Economies

    The effect of austerity in Europe has been decidedly detrimental, stifling growth and needlessly prolonging economic pain for the continent’s residents. And in America, many states are doing the exact same thing, slashing spending and laying off workers in an attempt to cope with collapsed revenue.

    As Center for American Progress economist Adam Hersh found, such austerity has been counterproductive for states as well. In fact, the states that have cut spending during the recession have higher rates of unemployment, lower rates of growth, and ultimately fewer private sector jobs. In the median “spending cut” state:

    Continue reading “The OB Media Rundown for 6/22/12” »

    The OB Media Rundown for 6/21/12

    Occupy Belmont and Social Action Committee plan talk on wealth and income inequality

    Occupy Belmont and the Social Action Committee of the First Church in Belmont are hosting a forum on wealth and income inequality and its social consequences on Monday, June 25, at the First Church in Belmont, Unitarian Universalist.

    Marjorie Kelly, author of the new book “Owning our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution,” will be speaking about the economy as it is today, and as it could be.

    She points to a community-owned wind facility in Massachusetts, a lobster cooperative in Maine, a multi-billion dollar employee-owned department-store chain in London, among others, as examples of businesses that eschew typical ownership designs and prosper.

    A conversation about Occupy Wall Street: ‘Making the impossible seem possible’

    Nine months ago Occupy Wall Street set up an encampment in New York’s financial district; an action that served as an ‘opening bell’ for a movement that quickly coursed across the United States and beyond.

    Since then that encampment and others have been violently uprooted by the authorities. At the same time Occupy has largely disappeared from the regular news cycle; replaced by, among other things, the deadening coverage of the U.S. elections. Yet the massive May Day demonstration in New York — with estimates as high as 30,000 people, the largest of its kind perhaps since the 1930s — made clear the underlying discontent that gave rise to this movement is still highly present.

    I wanted to get a better bead on the thinking underlying this movement. So, with my recent interview with David Harvey on his book, Rebel Cities, in hand, I approached the Occupy press team. The result was a conversation with two people who have been with Occupy from its start in September 2011: Peter Rugh, a social justice activist with a focus on environmental issues within the movement, and Sofía Gallisá Muriente, a Puerto Rican woman working on the OWS print publication IndigNación, which aims to reach the Latino community.

    Women Are the Biggest Losers from Failure to Raise Minimum Wage

    The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is far too low. A full-time worker earning the minimum wage makes just $15,080 per year, below the poverty line for a family of three. From 1968 to 2010, incomes for the top 1 percent of earners increased by 110 percent, but the inflation-adjusted value of the minimum wage has fallen by 31 percent. If the federal minimum wage had kept pace with the rising cost of living over the past 40 years, it would be $10.52 per hour today.

    Women are disproportionately harmed by a low minimum wage because women-and especially women of color-are much more likely hold low-wage jobs than men. The typical woman earns 77 cents for every dollar the typical man does, and the fact that women are more likely to be minimum-wage earners than men contributes to that disparity. This gap is especially distressing now that two-thirds of mothers are either the breadwinners or co-breadwinners for their families.

    In short, the minimum wage is not just a worker policy-it is also a woman’s policy.

    Continue reading “The OB Media Rundown for 6/21/12” »

    The OB Media Rundown for 6/20/12

    US ignores UN’s demands to protect Occupy protesters

    The mishandling of peaceful protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement will be discussed this week at the annual UN Human Rights Council meeting when two rapporteurs for the United Nations will make reports.

    Frank La Rue, the UN’s special rapporteur for the protection of free expression, and Maina Kiai, the organization’s special rapporteur for freedom of peaceful assembly, will present their reports at this week’s meeting, the twentieth edition of the annual conference. Particularly in focus, though, will be how the United States government has failed to act on requests made by the two experts during the last year to address growing concerns over how law enforcement has acted towards the Occupy movement.

    In one letter sent from the envoys to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the rapporteurs urge the Obama administration to “explain the behavior of police departments that violently disbanded some Occupy protests last fall.” Elsewhere they say that they’ve been concerned that excessive force waged on protesters “could have been related to [the protesters’] dissenting views, criticisms of economic policies, and their legitimate work in the defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

    What Part of ‘Austerity Isn’t Working’ Don’t People Get?

    First, some facts. By austerity I mean attacking recession by cutting spending and raising taxes – the opposite of Keynesianism, which dictates that if the private sector isn’t spending enough money to get the economy moving, the government needs to temporarily step in and supply the juice (aka “stimulus”).  Europe and the UK are committed to austerity, and – not coincidentally – they’ve seen growth deteriorate and unemployment jump (to over 20 percent in Greece and Spain).  The figure below, from this excellent – and pretty readable – paper by economist Jay Shambaugh reveals the expected positive correlation between governments that cut spending and slower GDP growth.

    Too bad for Europe, right? But, wait – we’re doing the austerity thing too, cutting spending as stimulus fades and failing to enact jobs measures, such as fiscal relief to cash-strapped state and local governments or public infrastructure investment – measures that appear more necessary with each new, disappointing economic report.

    In a way, our austerity policies are actually less defensible than those in some European countries.  With the price of borrowing so extremely low here, capital markets are basically pleading for our government to borrow and get busy with temporary growth measures.  That’s not happening in Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece, and for good reason: government debt in those countries is highly risky, and priced accordingly.

    Solitary confinement on trial: senators hear from experts on prison reform

    David C Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union national prison project, said there need to be “durational limits” on the amount of time prisoners can spend in solitary confinement.

    “The US is an outlier, not only in how many people it puts in solitary, but in how long they stay there,” he said. The American Bar Association has recommended that prisoners not be held in solitary confinement for more than one year, while the United Nation’s expert on torture says isolation that lasts more than 15 days can amount to torture.

    With just five percent of the global population and a quarter of the planet’s prisoners, Fahti says the United States is without equal in its use of solitary confinement when compared to other democratic nations.

    Continue reading “The OB Media Rundown for 6/20/12” »

    The OB Media Rundown for 6/19/12

    Protesters Occupy Entrance of Boston’s 2012 International BIO Convention

    Dressed in contamination suits and waving around boxes of children’s cereal they say are pumped with Genetically Modified Organisms, protesters planted themselves outside of the International BIO Convention Monday to fight against a week-long meeting of mega-companies and biotechnology firms.

    According to the group of activists, some of whom traveled all the way from Washington, D.C., while the “1 percent discusses industry strategies that compromise…biological heritage” inside the convention, protesters planned on educating the public, hosting sidewalk sessions, about pesticides, organic foods and anti-biotech initiatives.

    “We are here to tell them to stop using GMO’s. Stop contaminating our food-we want organic farms, not giant industrial farms poisoning our people,” said Rica Madrid.

    ‘Occupy’ movement to take on World Food Prize

    The Occupy Iowa movement, fresh off the visibility it achieved during the Iowa caucus campaign through January, is setting its sights on the annual World Food Prize held in Des Moines in October.

    Occupy leader Frank Cordaro said the group’s plans during the weeklong Food Prize event are still being put together, but “there will be opportunities for arrest.”

    The Occupy movement will target what Cordaro called “the corporate ownership of the World Food Prize, especially its dominance by genetically modified seed interests.”

    Occupy Will Be Back

    In every conflict, insurgency, uprising and revolution I have covered as a foreign correspondent, the power elite used periods of dormancy, lulls and setbacks to write off the opposition. This is why obituaries for the Occupy movement are in vogue. And this is why the next groundswell of popular protest-and there will be one-will be labeled as “unexpected,” a “shock” and a “surprise.” The television pundits and talking heads, the columnists and academics who declare the movement dead are as out of touch with reality now as they were on Sept. 17 when New York City’s Zuccotti Park was occupied. Nothing this movement does will ever be seen by them as a success. Nothing it does will ever be good enough. Nothing, short of its dissolution and the funneling of its energy back into the political system, will be considered beneficial.

    Continue reading “The OB Media Rundown for 6/19/12” »

    The OB Media Rundown for 6/18/12

    Protesters engage in MBTA fare strike action after anti-austerity march

    “Boston Fare Strike,” a mixed-coalition of protesters from the International Workers of the World, Socialist Alternative, Common Struggle and an affinity group from within Occupy Boston, marched right passed the fare gates at Park Street Station on Saturday to “take a stand” against the impending increases.

    The direct action ended an “Anti-Austerity” march yesterday through the streets of Boston. According to the group “across the world, the rich are using ‘austerity measures’ to pass the cost of the recession onto the working class.”

    The march was in protest of those measures.

    Senior citizens lost $2.9 billion to financial fraud and exploitation in 2010

    The majority, or 84%, of experts who deal with financial fraud of elders — including financial planners, medical professionals and social workers — have noticed an increase in financial abuses this year, according to a survey released this week by nonprofit organization Investor Protection Trust.

    About 58% of the 762 respondents reported that they encountered investment fraud or financial exploitation of seniors “quite often” or “somewhat often.” And 96% of experts said elderly fraud is a serious problem.

    Meanwhile, research from insurance provider MetLife has found that Americans over the age of 60 lost about $2.9 billion to financial abuse in 2010 — up 12% from the $2.6 billion lost in 2008.

    Stress levels soars in US… and young women under 35 are among those bearing the brunt

    Feeling stressed? New figures reveal you’re not alone.

    Americans are more stressed out than they were 30 years ago with young women among those feeling the brunt of it a first ever assessment of individual stress levels in U.S. reports.

    A 10 to 30 per cent stress increase was found through surveys of approximately 6,300 Americans over the age of 18 in 1983 and again in 2006 and 2009 through all demographics.

    Continue reading “The OB Media Rundown for 6/18/12” »

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