The OB Media Rundown for 1/26/12

Less ride for your money on the T? – MBTA proposes unpopular weekend service cuts and fare hikes

On Jan. 3, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which operates Boston’s public train and bus systems, proposed two fare increase and service reduction plans that could raise the price of a single T trip to as much as $2.40 with a CharlieCard (up from the regular $1.70).
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MBTA patrons were less forgiving than the state of Massachusetts. On Monday, the T Riders Union, Occupy Boston members, and local student activists rallied in front of the State House, holding signs saying “We need affordibiliT” and “MBTA: My Bus Taken Away.” During the public meeting that followed, a popular idea among attendees was to look to the state government for funding, as an alternative to service cuts.

The trouble with sellouts – Formerly ‘courageous’ law enforcement dissident will co-chair mortgage fraud committee comprised of fraud enablers

[Obama announced the creation of yet another federal investigative committee in his SOTU address that will further the cause of running out the clock on the statutes of limitation on mortgage and finance industry crimes, or the political will to do something about them. It will be co-chaired by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.]

Remember, as we discussed when the Roosevelt Institute accepted money from the Peterson Foundation and then repudiated FDR’s legacy by publishing policy papers on how to “reform” entitlements, the real prize for the neoliberals is to get trusted progressive organizations to do their dirty work.

It’s clear what the Administration is getting from getting Schneiderman aligned with them. It is much less clear why Schneiderman is signing up. He can investigate and prosecute NOW. He has subpoena powers, staff, and the Martin Act. He doesn’t need to join a Federal committee to get permission to do his job. And this is true for ALL the others agencies represented on this committee. They have investigative and enforcement powers they have chosen not to use. So we are supposed to believe that a group, ex Schneiderman, that has been remarkably complacent, will suddenly get religion on the mortgage front because they are all in a room and Schneiderman is a co-chair?

Global wave of activism comes in part because civil society groups and NGOs have failed to resist, to effect change

Many of today’s large mainstream NGOs started out as scrappy, confrontational groups of activists. Greenpeace, to take just one example, rose out of antinuclear protests in 1971. Today the group maintains offices in 40 countries. “If you look at any protest movement in the last 50 years, they have started off as challengers,” said Brayden King, an assistant professor of management and organizations at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “But with success they have all become more institutionalized,” he added. “Now they are no longer really a movement anymore, but professional advocacy groups.”

That institutionalization entails compromise and inevitably requires professional staff, many of whom come from the private sector. King says that students in his MBA classes often say their goal is to make a lot of money and then pursue their passion by working for an NGO. “While that is great and noble, they don’t have the same background in activism and have little in common with the activists they end up working with,” King said. A perfect illustration of his point can be seen at Davos, where leading executives of mainstream NGOs have become fixtures. Last year, for instance, executives from Mercy Corps, Greenpeace, and World Vision International – a Christian humanitarian organization – were all in attendance.
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The most recent data available from the Internal Revenue Service show that the top 1 percent of U.S. taxpayers earned a minimum of $343,927. Data provided by Guidestar, which collects information on nonprofit organizations, shows that the median compensation for the CEO or executive director of nonprofits – which includes museums, some universities, and hospitals – with budgets of more than $50 million rose 60 percent to $422,000 between 2000 and 2009.

Obama State Of The Union Speech: Labor Leaders And Economists Unimpressed With Jobs Proposals

President Obama’s emphasis on creating manufacturing jobs in his State of the Union address on Tuesday sounded just right to union leaders. But even these most ardent supporters expressed doubts that his proposals would do much to alleviate unemployment, agreeing with economists and business leaders contacted by The Huffington Post Tuesday night that the speech offered little that would move the needle in the jobs market.

“If you do exactly what he’s asking for, it would make almost no difference,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Obama – who ran on his support for Single Payer in 2008 - denounces it in 2012 State of the Union speech


Occupy’s Influence on Obama’s State of the Union Address

Income inequality was a major theme in President Obama’s State Of The Union address last night. As I wrote yesterday, the fact that politicians are now openly talking about class in America, a country almost absurdly proud of the fact that its citizens don’t discuss class relations, is a major triumph of Occupy Wall Street and other economic disparity-focused groups.

Obama called economic fairness “the defining issue of our time,” adding that “we can settle for a country where a shrinking numbers of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”
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The overall theme of the SOTU was a curious one. On the one hand, Obama accepted the role of reluctant class warrior, and called for a new era of corporate responsibility. Whether that proposal will ultimately have any teeth down the road with actual pieces of legislation remains to be seen, or if Obama just plans to ask corporations super nicely to pretty please not offshore jobs and dodge paying their taxes.

Interrogating Ron Paul’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act

The interstate bus service, desegregated by Federal Court ruling, but segregated in fact – reinforced by mob violence – was the well-chosen target of the Freedom Riders. The wretched truth of this situation was exposed forever by brave young students, white and black, who took their lives in their hands to change the course of history.

But this target was only the weak link in the chains that shackled black people’s freedom to travel. Private car trips were anything but a freedom-filled alternative. Blacks travelling cross-country by car – whether crossing state lines or not – faced denial of individual liberty at every turn: segregated gas stations with segregated water fountains and segregated restrooms (if they were lucky), segregated restaurants with segregated restrooms (if they were lucky), segregated motels with segregated water fountains and segregated restrooms (if they were lucky). And God help any black family travelling thus, if some emergency should arise. They would be lucky, indeed, to reach their destination unharmed. A mere flat tyre could put life and limb at risk. But thank God that white bigots, white bullies were free.

Because in Ron Paul’s eyes, things looked exactly the opposite: Each of these experiences of black humiliation, subjugation and unfreedom was actually a triumph of individual white property-owning freedom. And the 1964 Civil Rights Act swept all that precious freedom away. All that liberty for bullies, gone in a single “tyrannical” stroke of the pen.

After OWS, U.S. Drops in Press Freedom Rankings

The United States tumbled 27 places in the latest edition of the annual Press Freedom Index, thanks in large part to the rough treatment of journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street protests that took place around the country this past year.

“The crackdown on protest movements and the accompanying excesses took their toll on journalists,” Reporters Without Borders explains in the annual report. “In the space of two months in the United States, more than 25 were subjected to arrests and beatings at the hands of police who were quick to issue indictments for inappropriate behaviour, public nuisance or even lack of accreditation.”

Will the Young Rise Up and Fight Their Indentured Servitude to the Student Loan Industry?

How outlandish is it to say that the spirit of indentured servitude has been revived in the United States? What can young people and their parents do to prevent student loan debt servitude, and what can all of us do to help liberate student loan debtors who are currently doomed to decades of financial misery?

New Occupy launches in Orange County [NY]

Bennett Weiss of Newburgh, one of the organizers, says, ” 2011 will be remembered as the year people, ordinary people, took to the streets. From Tahrir Square in Cairo to Madison WI something special was happening. Voices that were long silenced by fear or deadened by hopelessness rang out in protest. No movement better encapsulates the raw and awesome power of people coming together in new and vital ways than the Occupy movement. It is truly amazing how a small, leaderless movement centered in a half acre park in lower Manhattan captured the imagination of the world and rapidly spread to over 80 countries and 1,000 cities. And now it’s coming to Orange County.”

This meeting will be a celebration of the momentous successes of the past year, a pep rally to keep our spirits high for the challenges that lie ahead, and an opportunity to learn first hand from experienced Occupiers what it’s like on the ground (sometimes literally on the ground) of an Occupy site. There will be great food, music, and speakers from unions and community groups.

From $21,000 to $870,000 in three days – Organization accuses D.C. of hyping Occupy-related costs

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a civil-rights watchdog group, released yesterday a set of emails from District officials that it claims as proof that Mayor Vince Gray’s administration is “[inflating] the cost of the Occupy movement.”

Several of the emails are between Gray’s spokeswoman, Doxie McCoy, and reporters from the Associated Press and Washington Examiner. In the first email, dated November 15, McCoy told the AP that the cost of policing and looking after the Occupy D.C. movement through October 19 was about $21,000-$14,000 for traffic operations, $6,000 in sanitation costs and just under $1,000 for less than 20 hours of police overtime.

McCoy also reminded the reporter receiving that note that as federally administered parks, McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza are under the purview of the U.S. Park Police and National Park Service.

But three days later, the documents show, McCoy’s estimation was dramatically higher. On November 21, writing to the same reporter, McCoy pegged the costs of Occupy D.C.’s impact on District coffers at $870,000, including $22,000 per day in additional police expenditures.

Occupy Wall Street Monitored By U.S. Conference Of Mayors, Emails Show

After denying that they are coordinating responses to Occupy Wall Street, the U.S. Conference of Mayors recently surveyed city administrations across the country about the movement.

In late November, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, the District of Columbia mayor’s office received a request to update its answers to the survey. The questions to city officials appeared to elicit profiles of Occupy activists and answers that could help show the activists as a drain on resources.

Ex-Pa. police captain settles case from NY protest

A retired Philadelphia police captain arrested during a Wall Street protest in New York City is set to resolve his case without jail time or probation. Former Capt. Ray Lewis took Manhattan prosecutors’ offer Wednesday to get the disorderly conduct case closed if he avoids re-arrest for six months.

Lewis acknowledges he disregarded police orders not to block a street during a protest in November. He says he was trying to make a point about holding corporations responsible for their roles in the financial crisis.

Occupy Detroit Joined By Arab Community Groups For March In Support Of Egyptian Revolution

On the anniversary of 2011′s Egyptian revolution, community groups will join members of Occupy Detroit to stand in solidarity with the Egyptian people.

The protest marks the one-year anniversary of the first protests in Egypt’s Tahir Square, where thousands called for President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. A year later, Occupy Detroit protesters are demanding the U.S. end aid to Egypt’s military leaders.

Funding not an issue; OWS in hibernation

While the difficulties of winter have taken their toll, Occupy Wall Street organizers say they are confident that an ‘American Spring’ is in the making.

Occupy events in recent days have not drawn the same volume of participants as months ago. The movement continues to remain active in the area though, including Tuesday when at least one activist was arrested at Zuccotti Park.

A recent spending freeze has curtailed many of the movement’s activities. However, recent events in Lower Manhattan underscore an increasing collaboration between ‘occupiers’ and progressive organizations that, organizers say, will keep the movement moving.

Occupy Supporters Announce Run For County Government Seats in Sacremento

They’ve occupied Cesar Chavez Park, they’ve set up shop in front of the old City Hall, and now the so-called 99 percent have a new spot in mind: county government.

“For a grassroots movement to take off, yes, you have to organize in the streets but the next is you have to occupy the government,” said Gary Blenner, an Occupy supporter who is running for a Sacramento County supervisor seat.

Civil rights lawyer Jeff Kravitz has represented Occupy Sac protestors in the past. Kravitz is running for the county board seat in District 3. Blenner, a local high school government teacher, is running in District 4.

Occupy Boulder: Attorneys use Fourth Amendment to defend protesters

Of all the constitutional freedoms cited in defense of the Occupy movement, the First Amendment is staked most territorially. But in Occupy Boulder, attorneys defending protesters arrested for illegal camping are using the Fourth Amendment in a push to dismiss evidence gathered when police officers opened tents to look inside. The action should be discounted as unreasonable search and seizure without a warrant, they say.

Activists To Invade Hollywood, Will March, Protest & Perform Street Theatre

Hollywood, prepare. Over 400 activists are taking it to the streets this afternoon, specifically the intersection of Sunset and Vine, to protest those who have failed to pay the U.S. corporate tax rate, namely FedEx.

Organized by Good Jobs LA, the protest includes people from struggling Los Angeles communities, unemployed workers, community groups, clergy, labor, immigrants rights’ organizations and Occupy L.A. activists. Armed with signs, banners and noisemakers, the group will meet at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Cahuenga Boulevard, then march to Sunset and Vine. Aside from “protesting corporate tax dodgers,” as stated in a Good Jobs LA release, activists will also engage in street theatre.

Similar class warfare protests are scheduled this week in dozens of U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago, Washington, DC, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Houston and Miami.

Boca Raton Police Arrest Six Occupy Protestors

Boca Raton Police that six protestors have been arrested in protests outside a financial conference taking place at the Boca Resort.

In wake of Occupy protests, Oakland police could face federal takeover

Mayor Jean Quan vowed Wednesday to quickly reform the scandal-plagued Oakland Police Department after a frustrated judge threatened a federal takeover if it fails to quickly make good on changes agreed to nine years ago.
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“Defendants have achieved full compliance with just over half of those tasks and, worse yet, have fallen in and out of compliance on some tasks, thus indicating a lack of sustainability,” [Judge] Henderson wrote. “The outstanding tasks are not minor formalities; instead, they are significant areas that go to the heart of any police department, including how internal affairs investigations are completed, how officers are supervised, and the use and reporting of force.”

The judge was responding to a monitor’s report submitted earlier this month that included “serious concerns” about the department’s handling of the so-called Occupy Oakland protests. The monitor told the judge that officers’ actions during the Occupy protests put even the small improvements made by the department in jeopardy.

Occupy Oakland protesters may target Oakland Airport

Occupy Oakland protesters are threatening the city of Oakland with shutting down the Oakland International Airport, if police stand in the way of their latest planned demonstration.

Occupy leaders returned to Frank Ogawa Plaza Wednesday morning to announce they plan on staging a march this Saturday from City Hall to a vacant building. Their plan is to make the building their new home and establish the same services they had at the encampment they had in front of City Hall.

“We will be taking over a place. We will not be asking for permission, nor will we be renting or paying any money to a bank. We will be taking over an abandoned property,” said Leo Ritz-Barr from Occupy Oakland.

Leaderless movement watch: University of Rhode Island Multicultural Center invites Occupy guest to celebrate teachings of Martin Luther King Jr.

[Benefit of the doubt - maybe it was a poorly informed pr writer at URI]

The keynote speaker of MLK Jr. Week is Kazu Hagu, leader of the Occupy Oakland movement. Haga has been involved in many social justice programs, including Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice and the Peace Development Fund in Oakland. He is on the board of directors for both of these organizations, which work to create safer communities in Oakland. Haga’s background in social justice led him to be chosen to speak at MLK Jr. Week at URI.

“One of the reasons we brought Kazu Hagu to speak was so students would have the opportunity to speak to somebody who has been a leader of the Occupy movement,” Wade said. “Dr. King’s messages on eradicating [the] poverty link between the ideals of the occupy protestors, who are aiming to draw attention to the increasing gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent.”

UK aims to stop Olympic Occupy protests

Britain’s interior minister has called for organisers of this year’s London Olympics to ban tents from venues to prevent demonstrators setting up Occupy-style protest camps.

Protesters denouncing economic inequality have been camped outside London’s landmark St Paul’s cathedral since October as part of an international movement inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protest.

Home Secretary Theresa May said that along with terrorism and organised crime, disruption from protests was one of the biggest threats to the Olympics which begin in July and wants London 2012 organisers (LOCOG) to use “all available” powers to remove equipment and encampments, rapidly backed up by police.

Occupiers launch hot air balloons at World Economic Forum in Davos

About a dozen protesters sent up a banner reading: “Hey WEF, where are the other 6.9999 billion leaders?” to protest over their exclusion from the high-security event high in the Swiss Alps where CEOs and politicians meet to discuss how to shore up their exploitative economic system.

Occupy protesters deliver icy verdict on Davos

The secret of a good igloo is its spiral structure, with snow blocks slotting into each other to protect against sub -zero temperatures. But here at Davos, the Occupy WEF organizers – who’ve built seven igloos as they settle into protests against the World Economic Forum – have found rising temperatures a greater challenge.

Despite the biggest snow dump in decades, one day’s five degree high collapsed an igloo while a protestor was sleeping inside. Apparently it only sunk five centimeters at a time, and created entertainment rather than panic.

Indeed, the mood around this protest is upbeat, with Armenian cognac, cigarettes and two teepees heated by wood fired furnaces (hired at a cost of CHF1,600) on hand to keep people warm. But the message, inspired by the global Occupy movement, is serious.

Davos elite admit Western-style capitalism has widened income gap

A four-year economic crisis has left societies battered and widened the gap between the haves and have-nots, financial leaders conceded Wednesday – with one suggesting that Western-style capitalism itself may be endangered.

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