The OB Media Rundown 4/6/12

Occupy Transit! Transit Workers & Occupy Movement Team Up

ATU national president Larry Hanley was inspired to ally ATU with the Occupy Movement when he learned of a proposal from Occupy Boston for a national day of protest around transit issues. Occupy Boston had issued this statement:

“In Boston and in cities around the country, our hard-won and necessary transportation systems are under attack. Their viability is being threatened by savage cuts and fare hikes in a calculated push toward privatization by corrupt and unresponsive politicians and their corporate benefactors.”

On April 4, the ATU led demonstrations in 15 American cities to draw attention to today’s transit crisis. (

Where There Are MBTA Cuts, There Are Occupiers: Group Staging 10-Day Camp Charlie Protest

Just after the MBTA Advisory Board voted 4-1 yesterday to support the ailing transit agency’s plan to raise fares 23 percent and cut $15 million in service, members of the Occupy Boston movement assembled in front of the state house and announced another Occupy rally of sorts.

Called Camp Charlie, the group vows to occupy the state house until April 14, when the advisory board meets again, or until the state legislature makes a move to help the embattled MBTA climb out of his perennial debt hole.

“We recognize the MBTA and MassDOT are essentially powerless and can’t fix the solution on their own,” occupier Brett West says. “But we are showing that the plan passed by the board yesterday isn’t acceptable.” (Bostinno)

Dispatch from Camp Charlie: Hello Mother, Hello Father, Reps and Hacks, They’ve Come To Bother

One of the points that was made over and over again by those protesting MBTA fare hikes (and Mass transit funding issues in general) yesterday was that this fight isn’t new. It’s been roaring for decades, and just seems to have grown extremely loud and and in-your-face over the past few months.

As of today, though, activists have extended their message into the future, stressing that the war’s not over. Grabbing the baton from young transit crusaders who camped out on the Statehouse stoop on Tuesday, Occupy Boston’s Occupy MBTA contingent has officially set up shop on Beacon Hill. (Boston Phoenix)

MBTA Approves Plan To Boost Fares, Cut Service

After all of the talk, public hearings, and protests over the past three months, the MBTA Board voted Wednesday afternoon to boost fares 23 percent and cut back service in an attempt to close a projected $161 million deficit in the next fiscal year.
. . .

Meanwhile, several groups continued to protest this latest budget plan, including an overnight vigil that was held at the Statehouse Tuesday into Wednesday morning.

An “Occupy” group was also planning to hold a “people’s hearing” outside the State House today at 3 p.m., followed by a 5 p.m. rally and 8 p.m. vigil.

“We’re going to have a people’s hearing where our voices are really heard and we don’t just get lip service,” Josh Golin, of Occupy Boston and Occupy MBTA, said at the hearing. (Norwood Patch)

Mass. Fare Hikes Targeted In State House Protest

An offshoot of the Occupy Boston movement has begun what it says will be a 10-day protest against MBTA fare hikes and service cuts.

Occupy the MBTA established what it called Camp Charlie on the State House steps shortly after the T’s board voted Wednesday to raise fares an average 23 percent for holders of automated Charlie Cards on July 1.

Advocates for riders have called on the Legislature to find a long-term solution to the T’s money woes. (Associated Press via WBUR)

Occupy Boston Protests MBTA Fare Hike, Service Cuts

The sound of “No” echoed through the halls of the State House Wednesday as more than 100 protestors affiliated with Occupy Boston gathered at the base of the Grand Staircase to protest the MBTA’s budget plan.

The group, which began its rally outside on Beacon Street, declared public transportation a civil right and said that protests at recent MBTA hearings had gone unheard.

“[So,] we are creating our own hearing, and we’re having it inside the State House,” said Katie Gradowski. (Medford Patch)

MBTA board approves fare increases, service cuts

The MBTA board on Wednesday approved an average 23 percent fare hike for riders along with modest cuts in services, while acknowledging the measures might be nothing more than a one-year patch for the chronically underfunded transit system.

The Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority voted 4-1 for the measures, prompting shouts of “shame on you” from dozens of riders who attended the meeting.

The vote capped months of often fierce debate over how to close a projected $159 million budget deficit for the fiscal year that starts July 1. (Associated Press via the Worcester Telegram)

MBTA increases fares, tries to close budget gap

Noah McKenna, a representative from Occupy Boston’s Occupy the MBTA working group, called the T’s proposal “unacceptable.”

“One of our goals is to stop those . . . fair hikes and service cuts . . . from going into effect,” he said. “We need a transportation plan that helps to build equality and helps the 99 percent. The Legislature has continued to procrastinate and now they’re attempting to directly pass the bill against the most vulnerable citizens.”

He said Occupy the MBTA sees the fare hikes and service cuts as “false choices.” (Daily Free Press at Boston University)

Occupy MBTA protests fare hikes, cuts at State House

More than 100 protesters shouting “Free Charlie” crowded the hallways of Massachusetts State House chambers Wednesday as they decried the 23 percent fare hikes the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority board officially approved.

Holding signs such as “Cut Carbon, Not the T,” the Occupy Boston working group Occupy the MBTA launched the beginning of what an Occupy Boston press release called a 10-day occupation called Camp Charlie. (Daily Free Press at Boston University)

Occupy protests T fare hikes, service cuts

First there was Occupy Boston. Now organizers of the protest movement say they have launched a new branch: Occupy the MBTA. Demonstrators set up a camp outside the State House steps Wednesday to protest the newly announced fare hikes and service cuts, said Katie Gradowski, 29, a spokeswoman for Occupy the MBTA. Gradowski, who lives in Somerville and rides the 88 bus daily, said the encampment would last 10 days. The goal, she said, is to encourage officials to rework the T budget, rather than increase fares and cut service. (Boston Globe)

MBTA board approves fare increases, service cuts over customer protests

Despite 11th-hour pleas from mayors in Braintree and Weymouth, the MBTA board of directors on Wednesday approved a budget that calls for increasing fares by an average of 23 percent and ending weekend service on two South Shore commuter rail lines and the Quincy ferry line.
Four of the board’s five members voted for the budget as more than 100 protesters chanted, “Shame on you!” Board member Ferdinand Alvaro of Marblehead cast the dissenting vote, saying the Legislature could do more to help.

“If we vote in favor of this fare increase and service cut, the Legislature will use this as an excuse to do nothing,” Alvaro said. (Wicked Local)

Occupy news and issues outside of Boston

Poor America: ‘Some kids are making ketchup soup’, ‘mom ate a rat’


Panorama’s Hilary Andersson travelled to Whitney Elementary School in Las Vegas to meet some of America’s youngest poor.

Children told of going to bed hungry and worrying about their families, while school officials said some children were resorting to eating “ketchup soup”.

Occupy, round 2: The politics of fearlessness [PA]

In response to an invitation from a co-worker involved with the group, I attended a meeting of Waynepeace earlier this week to hear about their preparations for “Occupy, Round 2,” the group’s effort to bring attention back to the protests that swept the nation – and the world – last year.
. . .

A significant part of the conversation at the meeting concerned the language the group would use to rally support for their cause. With a couple of notable examples, most in the group seemed to fear alienating people more than trying to attract those in agreement with their general consensus that the capitalist system is failing 99 percent of the population.

Is it possible this has something to do with the tepid turnout at last year’s “Occupy Honesdale” event?

Waynepeace, if you’re unhappy enough to camp out in Central Park for the weekend to bring attention to the issues, why are you afraid to say so? At what point does fear of reprisals and alienating others give way to the courage of your convictions and faith that other poor people (the vast majority of this county) are just as angry about their lack of representation in Washington?

A $10 hourly minimum wage would narrow chasm between working poor and their bosses

I recently saw a chart that demonstrates what’s been going on in the economy; the rich are getting richer and the rest of us are getting poorer. It showed that the ratio of CEO pay to worker pay was 42 to 1 in 1980 – with the average CEO making $1.6 million. That ratio climbed to 107 to 1 in 1990 – with the average CEO making $3.3 million. By 2010 that ratio had soared to 325 to 1 – with the average CEO making $10.8 million. With that kind of hindsight, 1980 doesn’t look so bad.

Raising the minimum wage is one of those lightning rod issues on which liberals and conservatives often disagree. But the division isn’t just ideological – it’s also mathematical and historical.

In 1968, the federal minimum wage stood at $1.60 an hour. If workers were earning the same amount in today’s dollars, adjusting for inflation, they would be paid over $10 per hour, not the current $7.25 per hour. During that same time, median household income has risen roughly 14 percent while the value of the minimum wage has fallen by 30 percent.

The solution is obvious: Congress should restore the minimum wage to its historic purchasing power by raising it to $10 per hour. It would enable low-wage employees to be rewarded for their hard work. It would also help boost the economy by getting income into the hands of those most likely to spend it, thereby creating additional demand that businesses sorely need during this shaky economic recovery.

Occupy 2.0: The Great Turning and ‘gifts of the enemy’

The worship of wealth that has brought corporations into a position of dominance in the world today has also brought in its wake two unexpected benefits. First, it planted in the minds of many the idea that some kind of world unity was possible: “Globalization from above” awakened the old dream of “globalization from below,” the dream of world unity without world domination. Secondly, by releasing many of the traditional constraints on greed (they were already pretty weak) it gave the one percent enough rope to really squeeze the economic middle class, taking away from them the false comfort of “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage,” and thereby reawakening, though in new forms, the class struggles of the 1930s. This has finally exposed the inherent contradiction of an economy based on indefinitely increasing wants-instead of on human needs that the planet has ample resources to fulfill.

These new realities are what Walter Wink calls “gifts of the enemy,” a natural feature of nonviolent struggle. The sometimes rather brutal evictions from New York’s Zuccotti Park, Los Angeles, Oakland, Washington D.C., and other sites, along with the beating and pepper-spraying of students in California last November, could redound to our advantage. They might serve as a wake-up call revealing the militarization of America-though there are not many signs of such awakening yet in this numbed nation.

Chicago’s Amalgamated Transit Union joins Day of Transit protests

Downtown Chicago was the scene for occupy transit. Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union joined by members of the National Nurses United, Chicago Teachers Union and Citizens Taking Action all gathered outside the Chicago Transit Authority offices.

The Chicago protest was part of the National Day of Action for Public Transportation. Local concerns were targeted at Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan for public transportation.

Facing Up to Foreclosures

Occupiers have expanded direct action by moving into bank lobbies and people’s homes that are on the brink of eviction to “convince” banks that loan modification might be a better alternative to foreclosure.

The Topanga Peace Alliance has joined forces with the Occupy movement ( in an effort to help homeowners. The Occupy Wall Street movement and homeowners around the country are coming together to say, “Enough is enough” and demanding banks negotiate with homeowners instead of foreclosing on them.

By taking direct action and occupying the home, some banks have reconsidered, as in the case of Iraq war veteran Brigitte Walker in Atlanta, GA, on Dec. 6, 2011. At the end of that first week, JPMorgan Chase, which owns her mortgage, began discussing with the activists and Walker the possibility of a loan modification. Chase’s modification offer became official. The offer, Walker told The Huffington Post, resulted in hundreds per month in savings. Before Occupy Atlanta set up its tents on her lawn, Chase had set an eviction date for Jan. 3. Now, Walker gets to stay in her Riverdale, GA home.

Occupy Salt Lake to celebrates six months on Friday

Occupy Salt Lake, which lost dozens of members with the onset of winter and its forced relocation from Pioneer Park to Gallivan Plaza, is still retaining activists and support. And though the movement hasn’t caused any major policy changes since its inception, the community has provided unique meaning to those involved.

“Most people gather [in Salt Lake] through the church or mass consumption,” said Seth Neily, a camper in Gallivan Plaza, referencing the crowds shopping at the newly opened City Creek Center a few blocks away.

The occupy protests give other people “a sense of purpose … a sense of community,” Niely said.

In Tampa, protesters take to the sidewalks before council meeting

TAMPA The Republican National Convention won’t be here until August, but the protests have already started. The exact time: 4:30 a.m. Thursday, 4 1/2 hours before the Tampa City Council held a hearing on the “clean zone,” a proposal that would limit what protesters can carry and wear in a large area surrounding downtown. That was when three members of Occupy Tampa used colored chalk to scrawl messages on sidewalks in front of Old City Hall denouncing Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s proposal.

“No Clean Zone,” one message said. “The Clean Zone is not a Fair Zone,” said another.

By 8:45 a.m., Tampa firefighters and city workers were spraying water on the pastel-colored missives and scrubbing them away. “So, they’re trying to protect the people from dangerous things like chalk,” said Bailey Riley, 18, an Occupy Tampa member.

Unions and Occupy Wall Street call general strike for May 1 [NY]

Organizers from the Occupy Wall Street movement are calling for a general strike against all things corporate on May 1. In New York City, activities are scheduled for 4 p.m. in Union Square.

With some referring to it as “a day without the 99 percent,” organizers are asking labor unions and other activists to protest work, major businesses and anything else that would benefit the so-called 1 percent. Organizers said as much in a statement on the “Occupy May 1″ website.

Asheville Homeless Network protests at city hall, visits mayor’s office

A group of about fifteen protesters from the Asheville Homeless Network, led by Occupy Asheville activist John Penley and accompanied by their lawyer, gathered today at city hall to demonstrate against what they say is the Asheville’s criminalization of the homeless. Forgoing their earlier plans to March from city hall to President Obama’s campaign headquarters via Malaprops bookstore-a business they say is particularly likely to enforce ordinances against panhandling-the group instead visited the office of Mayor Terry Bellamy en masse.

Occupy takes on Wells Fargo with Dr. Seuss [PA]

It seems that drama and Occupy Philly go together like green eggs and ham.

The group returned Thursday after a long winter of planning and organizing to perform its Dr. Seuss-inspired “The Fat Cat in the Hat: A Wells Fargo Unfair-y Tale.”

Using a rhyme scheme similar to the iconic author’s, the “street theater” chronicled Occupy’s feud with Wells Fargo, which had 14 of its members arrested in November during a sit-in.

Advocacy group’s funding frozen after board member holds Occupy Wall Street teach-in

This just in: Picture the Homeless says that its funding has been frozen because of a New York Post story claiming that the non-profit, which received $240,000 from the city in recent years, taught people how to illegally squat.

The funding fracas started when Andres Perez, a board member of the Bronx-based org who also affiliates himself with Occupy Wall Street, hosted a “teach-in” on homesteading (AKA squatting), according to the Amsterdam News.

Now, Picture the Homeless says that Perez did this independently — not in his official capacity as a board member.

How the US uses sexual humiliation as a political tool to control the masses

Believe me: you don’t want the state having the power to strip your clothes off. History shows that the use of forced nudity by a state that is descending into fascism is powerfully effective in controlling and subduing populations.

The political use of forced nudity by anti-democratic regimes is long established. Forcing people to undress is the first step in breaking down their sense of individuality and dignity and reinforcing their powerlessness. Enslaved women were sold naked on the blocks in the American south, and adolescent male slaves served young white ladies at table in the south, while they themselves were naked: their invisible humiliation was a trope for their emasculation. Jewish prisoners herded into concentration camps were stripped of clothing and photographed naked, as iconic images of that Holocaust reiterated.

With nods to Occupy Wall Street, economic inequality teach-in generates light, not heat [CA]

It may have lacked the drama associated with Occupy Wall Street, but a UC Berkeley teach-in on economic inequality Wednesday quietly laid bare the intellectual underpinnings of the nationwide push to narrow America’s wealth gap – beginning with Emmanuel Saez, the Berkeley economist whose research brought to light the growing income disparities between the 99 percent and the 1 percent.

Attracting 150 or so students, labor activists and other 99 percenters to a chemistry department lecture hall, the afternoon event featured a potent mixture of economic data, political analysis and calls to action. Berkeley political scientist Paul Pierson cited John Kenneth Galbraith in praising Saez’s work, while economist Sylvia Allegretto quoted Bruce Springsteen on “the distance between American reality and the American dream.”

Student loan debt: Senior citizens owe $36 billion on debt that was incurred decades ago

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the roughly $870 billion student loan market is broken in the same way that the mortgage lending market was broken. According to a provocative Federal Reserve Bank of New York report on student loan debt covered on April 1 by The Washington Post’s Ylan Q. Mui, problems with the student loan market are more comprehensive than most people previously thought. It’s not just recent graduates who are struggling with missed payments and defaults, senior citizens are still struggling to pay off an aggregate $36 billion in student loans incurred decades ago. If default rates continue to climb – as well they might, given that tuition rates are growing at twice the inflation rate – is there still time to save the student loan industry?

Letter to the editor: Students ‘Occupy their educational future’

The student-led effort to assure they will get a well-balanced education continues to gain strength in Carlsbad. On Friday, April 6, before the start of the school day, from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. in front of Carlsbad High School, the students will continue efforts to protest proposed cuts to both the teaching staff and the classes offered at the high school.

Their story is simple: They know they need a complete, well-rounded education in order to compete in the world marketplace. They claim that the current school board and superintendent have squandered the school district’s resources on an unneeded new high school (currently under construction). The superintendent continues to throw money at it, despite the fact that it is likely going to remain unoccupied for some time.

Third Global Greens Congress, meeting in Senegal, passes statement of support for the Occupy Movement, Arab Spring, and other democratic movements

The third Global Greens Congress, meeting in Dakar, Senegal, last weekend, has adopted a statement of support for popular democratic movements around the world, including Arab Spring, the Spanish Indignants, and the Occupy Movement. The statement is appended below.

More than 400 Greens representing 76 countries including the US met in Dakar from March 29 to April 1 for the third Global Greens Congress Dakar was chosen to highlight the growing presence of Green Parties in Africa and the strength of the Green Party in Senegal (“Congratulations to Senegalese Green Party Leader for becoming Senegal’s Minister of Environment,” African Greens, April 5,

Occupy challenges the dominant rightwing, ‘siege mentality’ ethos in Israel

Perhaps for the first time in Israeli history, there is now a second, competing ethos, which could challenge the dominant Zionist one. In the past two weeks, there has been talk of a revival of last summer’s J14 movement for social justice, and small demonstrations and minor “occupation” events are starting to sprout up. As I wrote after one of the bigger demonstrations last year, I believe J14 has the potential to replace the right wing, chauvinistic and siege-mentality elements of Zionist discourse with one that favors cross-national solidarity based on class lines. The slogans and the spirit of the movement seem to be drifting towards defining “us” as the middle, working and poorer classes, as opposed to the capitalist “them.”

In Canada, Refugee & Immigrant Rights Groups Occupy MP Offices to Oppose Bill C-31

Refugee and immigrant rights activists occupying Conservative MP offices, others actions in SEVEN cities across Canada on Refugee Rights Day, today April 4th.

Canada – In a coordinated effort, members of refugee and immigrant rights groups including No One Is Illegal are occupying Conservative MP offices in Ottawa, Toronto, St. Catharines, Edmonton, and Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. Banners have also been dropped in Montreal and Halifax. These actions coincide with April 4, Refugee Rights Day, and are being organized to demand that the Refugee Exclusion Act, Bill C-31, be discarded.

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