The OB Media Rundown for 1/21/12

‘Occupy the Courts’ protesters blast Citizens United ruling[Thousands of Occupy supporters protested yesterday separately in cities and towns around the country, yielding dozens of articles - too many to link here.]

Facing freezing temperatures and snowy weather, several hundred protesters gathered at courthouses in Chicago and across the nation Friday as they protested a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that removed most limits on corporate and labor spending in federal elections.
. . .
In Boston, fife and drum music played as protesters rallied at the federal courthouse. Some protestors even dressed their dogs in pinstripes and red ties, saying that dogs should be able to vote if big businesses basically can.

Boston rally protests corporate election funds

About 200 people in Boston joining a national “Occupy the Courts” protest on Friday to mark the second anniversary of a Supreme Court decision on campaign financing.

They rallied at the federal courthouse against a ruling that says the First Amendment prevents government from limiting election spending by corporations and unions.

State Rep. Cory Atkins told protesters it’s “an outright felony” corporations can give unlimited money for political donations while citizens can’t. She asked demonstrators to work to pass a state resolution calling on Congress to overturn the high court’s decision.

Protesters Occupy the Courts

It was the federal courts’ turn to get occupied Friday, as demonstrators across the country gathered to protest the two-year anniversary of a controversial Supreme Court ruling that extended the rights of natural persons to corporations.

It is a “preposterous notion that corporations are people and enjoy the same rights as citizens,” said Marc Strickland, who brought his 10-year-old son with him to LA’s downtown federal building. “It takes away a fundamental part of the democratic process.”

Federal buildings in Los Angeles, Santa Ana and Santa Barbara, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Courthouse in Riverside were on the list to be occupied in a string of demonstrations across Southern California.


‘Occupy the Courts’ Descends on the Supreme Court

Protesters descended on the U. S. Supreme Court on Friday as part of the nationwide effort that Occupy Wall Street has dubbed “Occupy the Courts.” The rallies at courthouses around the country were to challenge a 2010 Supreme Court decision that largely removed limits on union and corporate spending in support of political campaigns.

Protests Target Political Cash

Police here arrested several of hundreds of protesters gathered at some of the highest-profile buildings in the city’s financial center, in the largest of dozens of Occupy protests across the country Friday.

The protests, pegged to the second anniversary on Saturday of the 2010 Supreme Court decision to bar limits on corporate political spending, took place in the city’s first serious rain in a month. The protesters surrounded the Wells Fargo & Co. headquarters, along with a Bank of America Corp. outpost, to protest those companies’ involvement in home foreclosures, and stood in the street stopping cars from passing.

All charges dropped against student victims who appeared in infamous pepper spraying video from UC Davis

District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced today that there was insufficient information contained within the police reports submitted by the UC Davis Police Department to justify the filing of criminal charges against those individuals arrested during the November 18, 2011, confrontation with UC Davis Police during the “Occupy UC Davis” protest. Based on this determination the District Attorney will not be filing charges against the protesters.

Occupy Sacramento lawyers urge prosecution of UC Davis police

Occupy Sacramento lawyers announced Friday afternoon they were “not surprised” UC Davis students arrested in the infamous “pepper spraying incident” in November were not charged by the Yolo County District Attorney – and they emphasized that it’s time the police officers at UC Davis are prosecuted.

Jeff Kravitz, one of the many pro bono/volunteer lawyers working with Occupy Sacramento, said today’s announcement by the Yolo County District Attorney follows a pattern of county DAs refusing to prosecute after arrests by police at Occupy events, including those in Sacramento.

“I am not surprised at all,” said Kravitz. “These are peaceful, nonviolent demonstrators. In Sacramento, we have veterans, workers and students defending the First Amendment and being arrested. None of them should be prosecuted.”

“Now is the time to prosecute the real lawbreakers – the police officers at UC Davis who violated the students’ rights,” said Kravitz.

Voices From the Occupy Front – Five students talk about their causes, camping and being told to “Get a job!” (And isn’t that the problem?)

[Christopher Cooke] Idaho State University
SCARY MOMENT: Hearing comments like “Get a job!” or people calling us hippies. Usually, they would do a drive-by yell. One night in Pocatello, someone shot a bottle rocket at the tent.

HOPING TO ACCOMPLISH: Rumor has it that some in the legislature will push to make protesting harder on the Occupy groups in the state. Should that time arise, I imagine I’ll be occupying or protesting every free minute I have. Our government must not strip away one of the most fundamental rights of its citizenry.

All four GOP presidential candidates denounce PIPA as Senate leader ‘postpones’ vote

[Obama has said he won't sign it if passed, but that's what he said about NDAA. GOP and Dem-aligned media keep trying to claim one or another house of Congress has killed or 'cancelled' SOPA/PIPA legislation. They're lying.]

[Harry Reid] “In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act.
. . .

PIPA had been losing momentum in recent days. Reid said earlier this week that he would not whip Democratic votes for the bill. At least 14 Republicans announced their opposition to the bill, and Sen. Mitch McConnell called for a postponement. At last night’s presidential debate, all four GOP candidates denounced the Protect IP Act.

Democrats Are the Ones Pushing Web Censorship

While the chief baddy on SOPA – Lamar Smith – is a Republican, it is really the Democrats who are the ones still trying to censor the web.

MPAA head Chris Dodd is the former Democratic powerhouse (the same guy who blocked all financial reform). Dodd and Lieberman – another Democrat – have admitted that they want to emulate Chinese style censorship.

“Why Focus on Obama’s Dumbest Critics?”

No, Obama isn’t a radical Kenyan anti-colonialist. But he is a lawbreaker and an advocate of radical executive power. What precedent could be more radical than insisting that the executive is empowered to draw up a kill list of American citizens in secret, without telling anyone what names are on it, or the legal justification for it, or even that it exists? What if Newt Gingrich inherits that power?

He may yet.
. . .

Andrew Sullivan’s] essay fits the pattern I’ve lamented of Obama apologists who tell a narrative of his administration that ignores some of these issues and minimizes the importance of others, as if they’re a relatively unimportant matter to be set aside in a sentence or three before proceeding to the more important business of whether the president is being critiqued fairly by obtuse partisans.

Cybersecurity Analyst who tried to ‘infiltrate’ Occupy Wall Street fired

Aaron Barr has had quite an interesting year. He first got attention for being CEO of HBGary Federal and claiming to be close to exposing the leaders of the hacking collective Anonymous. Now Barr has been fired from his current position at another federal contractor, Sayres and Associates.
. . .

Barr tried to infiltrate Occupy Wall Street by dying his hair blue and trying to talk with protestors. Barr’s name was also mentioned in several emails written by another analyst Thomas Ryan who got onto an Occupy Wall Street organization email list and leaked some of those messages to the FBI.

Creeping authoritarianism on Capitol Hill – What we can learn from one congressman’s convoluted defense of the NDAA

On the day Occupy Congress came to Washington, I tagged along with seven Bard College students who went to talk to their representative, first-term Republican Chris Gibson from the 20th Congressional District of New York. Listening to Gibson defend his vote for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which President Obama signed on New Year’s Eve and which allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens, I had a rare glimpse into the contemporary authoritarian mind-set in all its banality. It illustrated how the slow erosion of civil liberties manifests itself in the halls of power in Washington.

Occupy in high schools – Georgia students form Occupy Cross Creek [GA] to run campaign against bullying and school violence

The Occupy Movement came to Cross Creek High School this week. The students spent the week protesting violence and bullying.

Each day had a different theme, but the message was the same — stop the violence.

Friday was the final day of that week-long campaign and the students filled the halls wearing camouflage. The theme, Camouflage Against Street Violence, is a big step for the high school. A year ago, a supposed ban on camouflage led to a student protest. The protest came after two Cross Creek students were shot in a drive-by shooting while walking home from the bus.

Occupy in high schools – Occupy Granite Hills: Students walk out to protest discrimination and injustice

“We have a say” and “We want Gong” chanted a couple of hundred Granite Hills High School students Friday morning after refusing to report to class and walking to the parking lot._Organized by Adriana Felix, the walkout supported the girls’ swim team coach, David Gong, who was recently reassigned to the boy’s swim team while raising awareness to more serious issues at Granite Hills High School.

“I really want my community to know the main reason I was out there today was to raise awareness of the discrimination and injustice at my school,” Felix said. “Not just because Gong was reassigned – he was a part of the movement because he stood up against the injustice and then was reassigned.”

Gong’s reassignment, many said, was in retaliation by school officials after Gong questioned the unfair distribution of assignments and funds associated with concession sales during sporting events – a practice that took care of certain sports while other sports’ team members were left to fend for themselves. For that reason, the girls were joined by athletes from other sports and students not involved in sports.

Occupy in high schools – Students and Administration Clash Over Expulsion [Rocklin, CA]

One of the effects of the many protests of this year has been a bout of civil disobedience on Rocklin High School. Many students remember “Occupy Rocklin High”, where students and teachers alike marched to the office together in frustration over their often-faulty technology.

However, last week, a mob of students showed up in the front office during the end of break protesting the expulsion of former student and senior, Drake Richie.

Occupy in high schools – St Paul’s protesters invited into schools to lecture teenagers on campaigning

The group behind the anti-capitalist protests outside St Paul’s Cathedral is to be invited into schools to teach pupils how to start their own campaigns.
. . .

Head teacher Andrew Goulding said yesterday: ‘These debates help to develop analytical and critically thinking citizens who want to engage with the issues of the day. Occupy have raised some fundamental questions for debate.’

Occupy protester Jamie Kelsey-Fry, a former English teacher who is leading the outreach campaign, said more schools have expressed interest.

Will Unions Occupy Super Bowl Over Right To Work?

[anti-Occupy article, but can't find a good article doing 'straight' reporting about this]

Indiana unions, opposed to becoming the first right-to-work state in the Rust Belt, may disrupt Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.

If the bill passes before Feb. 5, some Indiana labor activists are considering protests before a nationwide audience. These protests would include Teamsters clogging city streets with trucks, and electricians staging a slowdown at the convention center site of the NFL village.

Brad Holloway, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 481, said electricians could also engage in work slowdowns.

“You can tell them we’ll take the Super Bowl and shove it,” said Jeff Combs, organizing director for Teamsters Local 135 in Indianapolis. Teamsters gathered at the statehouse Wednesday wearing T-shirts with 46 – signifying the 46th Super Bowl since the 1966 season – crossed out on the back.

One in five American adults mentally ill in past year

One in five adults in the United States, or nearly 50 million people, suffered mental illnesses in 2010, with women and young adults suffering disproportionately, a government report released on Thursday found.

One Percent Education

IT has been a populist winter. As Occupy Wall Street needles America’s financial sector over the country’s economic imbalance, it also focuses attention on another issue that helps feed that imbalance: educational inequality.

Just as the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans gobble up a disproportionate share of the nation’s economic resources and rejigger our institutions to funnel them benefits and power, so too do our educational 1 percent suck up a disproportionate share of academic opportunities, and threaten to reconfigure academic culture so that it both mimics and serves their values.

Pointedly, the Occupy Harvard news release announcing its formation read: “We want a university for the 99%, not a corporation for the 1%.”

Occupy Innovation: Neither the Military Nor the Market Does

Two days after thousands of police broke up the around-the-clock occupation of New York’s Zuccotti Park, tens of thousands of demonstrators converged downtown to celebrate the two-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street and stress that with or without Zuccotti, the protest and its message remained strong and relevant.

One of those in the march, the actress Anne Hathaway, carried a sign that read “Blackboards not Bullets,” and though much attention was predictably paid to the 29-year-old star’s presence, the message she carried that day shouldn’t be ignored.

Results from global Occupy poll taken in November released

A great deal of ambiguity continues to surround the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement, finds a new poll by global research company Ipsos for Reuters News, as only four in ten (37%) of global citizens in 23 countries report they are familiar with the protests that were going on in New York and other major cities around the world. As a result, it may not be surprising that half (54%) of respondents say they are undecided when asked how favourable or unfavourable they are towards the protests as far as they understand them. Of those who take a position, those in favour outweight those in opposition two to one: 33% report they are favourable and 13% are unfavourable towards the protests.

Support appears to increase when a brief description of the movement is provided. In fact, the proportions of support and indecision flip; a slim majority (53%) ‘sympathize’ with the movement and one third (35%) are undecided. One in ten (12%) continue to say they ‘do not have sympathy.’

Over half of Canadians sympathize with the Occupy movement

Those Canadians with a medium to high household income were more likely to sympathize with the movement than those with a lower income – results that also held true on a global scale.

Globally, South Korea was the most sympathetic, at 67 per cent, followed by Indonesia (65 per cent) and India (64 per cent). The least sympathy could be found in Poland (37 per cent), Japan (41 per cent) and Australia (41 per cent).

G8 countries reported the least sympathy.

Occupy Wall Street hits Avenida Chapultepec

The Jalisco Popular Assembly (APJ) activist group has erected a mini-pavilion of tents on the boulevard of Chapultepec.

The project, titled Ocupa Chapu, hopes to collect such local causes as the Huichol Indians’ fight over their sacred Wirikuta site, the pushback against the construction of a second Guadalajara-Chapala aqueduct, the El Zapotillo dam and others into one nebulous awareness-raising movement.

Occupy London Moves Into Empty Office Building in London City

Occupy London anti-capitalist protesters said they moved into an abandoned office building in Britain’s main financial district until the City of London Corporation publishes its finances.

Hong Kong brokers protest plans to reduce lunch break

At issue is the length of the lunch hour at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The exchange, the world’s leader in IPOs the past three years, wants to reduce its lunchtime trading break from 90 minutes to one hour. Until last year, the break lasted two hours.

“Lunch is a habit of Chinese people,” says the protest’s matriarch, Choi Chen Po-sum. “Foreigners are different. They can have a big breakfast and forgo lunch.”
. . .

The protest began across the street from the Asia headquarters of HSBC, where a group of Occupy Hong Kong protesters — an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street — have been camped for months.

The two groups remained unaffiliated, but Iris Yau, a high-school student who said she spends four to five nights a week sleeping at Occupy Hong Kong, sympathised with the brokers. “Just because they are rich, it doesn’t mean they agree to being exploited,” she said.

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