Re-Imagine the General Assembly: Saturday 6/16

The first Gathering to Re-Imagine the General Assembly is happening this Saturday 6/16 in the amphitheater of Mosswood Park from 1:00-6:00pm! Program: • Gather, Eat, Music • Review of Survey Results • Review Agenda and Shared Agreements • Brain Teaser • What are the Conditions that Create Collective Wisdom? Collective Folly? Pair and Share Activity • Reconciliation • Collective Visioning for the future • Next Steps • After-party, art and reflection activities This first gathering was designed in response to the feedback we received from surveys, emails, and those who … Continued

The OB Media Rundown for 6/12/12

Fed survey: ‘Young middle age families’ hardest hit by recession

The fall came with the collapse in the housing market and massive layoffs that slashed people’s incomes, and the pain was felt by families across the board — young and old, well-educated and less so, with children or not.

But the biggest impact was felt by young middle-age families, those headed by people ages 35 to 44. For this group, the median net worth — total assets minus debts — fell a whopping 54% in the three-year period to $42,100 in 2010. Such was their financial hardships that only 47.6% of these families said they had saved money in 2010; that was the lowest among all age groups, where an overall average of 52% of families saved some money that year.

http://tinyurl.com/cpl3k4p

Recession crushed middle-class wealth: Fed survey
The recession crushed the net worth of middle-class families as real estate values tumbled, according to a survey released by the Federal Reserve on Monday.

The Fed’s survey of consumer finances between 2007 and 2010, which is adjusted for inflation, showed median income fell 7.7% from $49,600 in 2007 to $45,800 in 2010 and that median net worth fell 38.8% from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010, approximately the level recorded in 1992.

The drop was concentrated in middle-class families. Those in the 60th to 79.9th percentile of income saw the biggest drop in wealth, of 40.4%. The second-steepest drop came from those in the 20th to 39.9th percentile of income, of 35%. The top 10% actually saw an increase of 1.8%. Read four ways to avoid retirement crisis.

http://tinyurl.com/cclsohs

Banks still ‘nickel-and-dime’ consumers

Despite the best efforts of Occupy Wall Street, banks still have a long way to go toward transparency.

According to CNNMoney, a study conducted by Pew Safe Checking in the Electronic Age Project revealed that consumers need to shuffle through long, winding documents and face high, heretofore unknown fees to access their own checking accounts.

This may be unsurprising for anyone who has signed up for a credit card bill in recent years. In 2010, the Federal Reserve updated President Jimmy Carter’s 1978 Electronic Fund Transfer Act to forbid any bank from automatically signing up customers for overdraft protection. Overdraft protection would mean that, instead of declining a credit card if the account was overdrawn, consumers would pay a fee for transactions made after their account reached its limit. Customers presently are given a choice to opt out of the service when they sign up for an account.

http://tinyurl.com/7d7y4lp

Philosophy Meets Occupy

John Rawls’s theory of justice was a defining text for liberals in the 1970s. Rawls laid out an extensive and fundamental theory of “justice as fairness” which he developed into an extensive moral foundation for any modern society. He suggested that we think of this theory as a sort of proto-”constitution” — a description of principles that any just society must satisfy, and that need to be embodied in the constitutions and laws of those societies. He expressed these ideas in A Theory of Justice: Original Edition in 1971 and in Justice as Fairness: A Restatement in 2001.

The fundamental idea of justice as fairness is that we can identify a set of principles that rational persons would accept as a fundamental contract — if they lacked specific knowledge about what their position in society would eventually be. This is the condition that Rawls referred to as the “veil of ignorance” — persons deliberate about principles of justice from behind the veil of ignorance so that they can’t try to choose principles that would unfairly advantage them over others.

http://tinyurl.com/7td6tbf

Romney Economic Adviser Calls For More Austerity

Over the weekend, an op-ed authored by one of 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s economic advisers appeared in a German newspaper. In the piece, Glenn Hubbard criticized the Obama administration’s approach to Europe’s ongoing economic woes, instead calling for the adoption of more austerity:

http://tinyurl.com/7fgs5jk

‘Occupy Homes’ Anti-Foreclosure Activist Fights to Save Mom’s Home

For months, Colleen McKee Espinosa, a single mother of three-including Nick Espinosa, a volunteer organizer who has helped other homeowners fight foreclosure-has repeatedly asked Citibank officials to allow her to catch up on her mortgage and keep her home. But Citibank still has the home scheduled to be auctioned off at a sheriff’s foreclosure sale this Wednesday, June 13th, at 9am.

McKee Espinosa, a registered nurse, has been in her home for 16 years. Last year, she attempted to pay her Citibank mortgage to catch up on two past-due payments on the indicated due date. The bank told her the home had already been sent into foreclosure.
“I’ve come up with the money I owe them but they refuse to take it,” McKee Espinosa said.Colleen’s son Nick Espinosa is a volunteer organizer for the group Occupy Homes Minnesota, a group that has waged successful campaigns that saved the homes of Monique White and US Marine veteran Bobby Hull.

Despite her son’s activism, Colleen McKee Espinosa was initially reluctant to speak publicly about her case. But as she faced the impending loss of her home, McKee Espinosa joined forces with other homeowners and Occupy Homes activists to begin a community campaign to ask Citibank to negotiate a fair settlement that would let her keep her home and finish paying a mortgage that, until recently, had only six years of payments left.

http://tinyurl.com/7uy2ody

Homeless advocates plead for a legal camp

Homeless advocates on Monday evening urged the Eugene City Council to help them establish a homeless camp.

Several speakers, some of them belonging to or supportive of the Occupy Eugene protest group, asked the council to provide land so they can establish a place for homeless people to legally camp.

“We don’t want any money,” said Andy Heben, a southeast Eugene resident. “All we are asking for is a piece of land.”

http://tinyurl.com/d3x2lqd

Occupy Winston-Salem protests mass layoffs by Novant Health, Inc

On June 6, over a dozen activists of Occupy Winston-Salem and the community gathered outside Forsyth Medical Center to protest against the mass layoff of 289 workers by Novant Health, Inc. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, Novant Health employs over 25,000 workers, operating 13 different hospitals, from North Carolina all the way to Georgia.

Picketing between Silas Creek Parkway and Hawthorne Road, the solidarity was very high as hundreds of passersby honked in support, with either a wave or fist outside their windows, while thousands more were at least able to get a glimpse of Occupy’s resistance against job cuts. Some of those who honked in solidarity were employees of Forsyth Medical Center, including an ambulance truck.

Debra Demske, member of Occupy Winston-Salem, said, “One woman who drove by on Wednesday shouted out her car window that she was laid off after 27 years. If the company is acting with integrity, why does it need to have every employee escorted by security to the door?”

http://tinyurl.com/89mvznv

Anti-frackers stage ‘die-in’ at Capitol

An eclectic group of eight anti-hydrofracking protesters held a rally on the Capitol lawn before heading to the Capitol’s second floor and staging a “die-in” in front of the locked doors outside “the peace room,” as they referred to the War Room.

Organized by Abram Loeb of Frack Free New York and Frack Free Nation, the hydrofracking protestors in attendance said they represented Occupy Albany, the Sovereign People’s Action Network and its statewide organization FrackbustersNY.org.

http://tinyurl.com/c5hag4e

Bang a Pot! Quebec Solidarité Protest in Downtown Portland

Students in Quebec have been massing in the tens of thousands since February, protesting, at first, sizable hikes in university tuition, and, later, their government’s heavy-handed police response to the protests. And since then, the movement has only spread. Nightly protests called casseroles-where people hit the streets, or open their kitchen windows, and bang on pots and pans-have erupted in regular neighborhoods all across Montreal. In some recent protests, crowds have surged to well over 300,000 people.

Tonight, activists in Portland, many of them affiliated with Occupy Portland, are planning to gather in Pioneer Courthouse Square in (forgive me) solidarité. They’re also calling on people all across the city, if they can’t make it down, to bang pots wherever they live. Our local event-maybe better described as a burgeoning Occupy-like movement-is aimed at the rising cost of education here, but also at larger questions of debt (as in, crippling student loans) and the privatization of what ought to be a government function (educating its people).

http://tinyurl.com/85sjdqb

Survey finds that it could take 43 years to fill Ireland’s vacant houses

New figures released by Deutsche Bank show that it could take up to 43 years to fill the abundant empty properties around the economically struggling Ireland.

The Irish Independent reports that Deutsche Bank’s data shows that there are 289,451 empty houses in Ireland, including almost 60,000 vacant holiday homes. Those figures put Ireland’s vacancies at a whopping 15 percent, five times the amount of the UK.

Deutsche Bank noted that “Demand for housing is the key factor as to how long it will take for this oversupply to be reduced, and aside from demand for second homes the key driver should be population growth.”

http://tinyurl.com/6qglpfy

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