The OB Media Rundown for 2/17/12

Students attend Occupy summit

Emerson occupiers joined more than 80 other college students at a summit at Harvard University Sunday to discuss systemic issues that do not normally receive attention at general assemblies, according to Emerson Occupies Boston member Mark Rizzo.

The Feb. 12 summit brought students from 18 local colleges and other New England schools to refocus the efforts of Boston’s student occupiers.

The summit started off with a discussion about student debt, and what students need to do to save themselves from being in debt after college, according to Rizzo.

http://tinyurl.com/6o3xw4n

Boston journalist, JP resident documents ’99 Nights’ with Occupy movement

A local award-winning political journalist from Jamaica Plain will release a book next month detailing his visits to protest camps across the country during the first three months of the Occupy movement that began in mid-September.

Chris Faraone, a Boston Phoenix staff writer in his early 30s, will release 99 Nights with the 99 Percent: Dispatches from the First Three Months of the Occupy Revolution on March 27.

The 224-page book will include recently-completed, unpublished reporting, along with features Faraone published in the Phoenix, from Occupy camps in 10 cities that Faraone visited during the first three-months of the movement that spawned near Wall Street in New York City and spread as camps formed in municipalities nationwide to protest corporate greed, wealth imbalance, and money’s sway on politics.

http://tinyurl.com/7m59tb9

Breitbart website extensively excerpts Phoenix article on OB sex offender discussion to justify owner’s outburst at CPAC about rape at Occupations

Supporters of the Occupy movement have been on the defense ever since, some rushing to say that rapes and sex offenses have been minimal and don’t represent the whole of Occupy, others blindly and willfully claiming the incidents are non-existent entirely. The truth is, whether it’s been 20 sex crimes or 2,000, one is too many. And denying that rapes have occurred is as equally abhorrent as raping those victims all over again.

But don’t take an evil “Breitbart blogger’s” word for it, take it from some of the women from Occupy.

A comprehensive article last month from the Boston Phoenix about Occupy Boston provides remarkable insight into the inner-workings of the movement, as that camp struggles with the same challenges that have plagued so many other Occupy camps across the country in dealing with crime and harassment of a sexual nature.

http://tinyurl.com/7dasy3u


Anarchistic and self-trained, are street medics the future of first aid?

Anarchistic, high-energy, and self- organized, street medics have been part of activist counterculture since the 1960s, with major presences at civil-rights protests, anti-Vietnam War actions, the American Indian Movement’s occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973, anti-globalization protests in the 1990s and early aughts, and most recently, at Occupy encampments internationally. Street medics also take their skills to disaster areas: there were medics in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and in Haiti after the earthquake.
Some medics have formal EMS training, but most are just trained by other medics. In typical “fuck the system, let’s build our own world” punk fashion, they reject the necessity of legal medical licensing. Instead, over the decades, they’ve amassed their own set of traditions and protocols, their own collectives and conferences.

http://tinyurl.com/6qecst9

Blue-collar Republicans’ peculiar 1 percent psychology

Neither Santorum nor Romney will champion policies that could really help the white working class – the unionization of service-sector workers, say, or federal subsidies for strategic industries – but Santorum clearly feels its pain and summons the ghosts of religious and patriarchal orders that once regulated much of working-class life. Romney comes off as the guy who closed the plant, after which those orders collapsed in a heap.

Blue collar Republicans are apparently fine with a top 1 percent message. But they don’t seem to want a top 1 percent messenger. Finding artful ways to stoke that sentiment will be crucial for Santorum if he’s going to weather the Romney advertising onslaught that’s now underway.

http://tinyurl.com/72rafgf

How The GOP Went Back To The 1950s In Just One Day

Very neatly, and on three separate fronts, conservatives in America turned the clock back to the 1950s with their rhetoric about women’s rights Thursday, according to women in politics on both sides of the aisle. This could be a big problem for the GOP when the calendar reaches November.

Let’s take a look at Thursday, February 16, 2012, the day Washington fell into a time-warp.

http://tinyurl.com/829w8u3

CA audit latest to uncover irregularities and illegalities committed against nearly all mortgage holders in, or at risk for, foreclosure

[San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil] Ting uncovered more serious irregularities than just robo-signing. He found that the public assignments differed from what was represented to investors in SEC filings, a clear case of securities fraud. Ting also found that the foreclosure data didn’t match MERS records on the loans, which breaks the chain of title and really drives a stake through the heart of the public land recording system in America, something that separates modern civilization from its antecedents, according to economist Hernando de Soto. Ting also found that 59% of the assignments he looked at were filed after the Notice of Default. In other words, the documents were essentially generated after the decision to foreclose. 59% of all documents were back-dated, too.

Gretchen Morgenson has a good story in the New York Times about all of this, as does Yves Smith. In general terms, there are parts of the mortgage business, unseemly parts, that most state and federal regulators don’t want to deal with. They don’t want to regulate in those areas because it would show the banks to be operating a massive criminal enterprise. And nobody wants to deal with the Gordian knot of broken chain of title. They just don’t want to go there. Levitin chalks it up to a social problem, with the political leadership of the country too close to the financial leadership, “and unwilling to call out criminal acts by their peers.” There’s also an economic worldview element, as people like Tim Geithner cannot envision waking up to a world without Bank of America. So rampant criminality, and the destruction of the largest market in the world, gets swept under the rug.

http://tinyurl.com/6t6jza4

Citigroup Whistle-Blower Says Bank is Still Approving and Passing Off Bad Mortgages to Taxpayers

Four years after rotten mortgages helped trigger a global financial crisis, Sherry Hunt said her Citigroup Inc. quality-control team was still finding flaws in new loans that included altered tax forms, straw buyers and borrowers who listed fictitious employers.

Instead of reporting the defects to the Federal Housing Administration, the bank saddled the agency with losses by falsely declaring the loans fit for its federal insurance program, according to a complaint filed yesterday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan. Citigroup agreed to pay $158.3 million to settle the claims, and admitted that it certified loans for FHA backing that didn’t qualify.

http://tinyurl.com/7v5g7dd

MBIA tells judge of newly uncovered Countrywide fraud database

I sure hope the Securities and Exchange Commission and other members of the new joint mortgage-backed securities task force are paying attention to the docket in MBIA’s New York State Supreme Court fraud and breach-of-contract suit against Countrywide. On Wednesday, MBIA’s lawyers at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan sent a letter to Justice Eileen Bransten requesting that she order Countrywide to produce discovery on an internal fraud-tracking database “which MBIA had not previously known to exist.” MBIA said it needs the discovery to prepare for upcoming depositions of former Countrywide employees who tried to expose its allegedly fraudulent mortgage underwriting practices, including the well-known whistleblowers Eileen Foster and Mari Eisenman.

http://tinyurl.com/878wsw9

An Occupy Wall Street PAC?
A supporter of the 99 percent is one of the latest citizens (or corporations) to apply to raise unlimited sums of money for politics.

John Paul Thornton of Decatur, Alabama submitted an application to the Federal Election Commission on behalf of Occupy Wall Street to create the Occupy Wall Street Political Action Committee.

Thornton said the type of entity applying is a “cooperative” and listed the mailing address of the organization as having “none” but also being “everywhere.”

http://tinyurl.com/6u29tks

Private Prison Corp Offers Cash In Exchange For State Prisons – But Only if the State Guarantees 90 Percent Filled with Prisoners

Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest operator of for-profit prisons, has sent letters recently to 48 states offering to buy up their prisons as a remedy for “challenging corrections budgets.” In exchange, the company is asking for a 20-year management contract, plus an assurance that the prison would remain at least 90 percent full.

http://tinyurl.com/79x5dwq

Ryan urges GOP presidential candidates to ‘prepare the country’ for Social Security, Medicare cuts (“entitlement reform”)

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Thursday urged his party’s presidential candidates to make the 2012 election a stark choice between policy differences so that massive changes on taxes and entitlements can be enacted quickly next year.

Ryan said he was not concerned his party will be portrayed as favoring tax breaks for the rich while taking away benefits for the poor.

“I don’t worry about what people who disagree with my policies are going to say,” he said. “They are going to say what they are going to say.”

http://tinyurl.com/7dsspad

Romney Straining to Get to the Right of Genghis Khan

Genghis’s surge to the top of the polls began after a recent debate in Williamsburg, Mississippi. After moderator Brian Williams questioned if his popular campaign promise to not only defeat President Obama but to enslave his family was racially insensitive, Genghis angrily replied that he enslaves the families of all his defeated rivals, regardless of race. Then, in a dramatic touch that reminded many Republicans of Ronald Reagan’s famous I-paid-for-this-microphone moment, he charged down from the stage on horseback, decapitated Williams, and displayed his head before the roaring crowd. At a post-debate focus group led by pollster Frank Luntz, numerous attendees praised Genghis for standing up to, as one attendee put it, “the politically correct media.”

http://tinyurl.com/6roq2mh

Apple’s China Comes Home to Haunt Us

Four decades ago Richard Nixon, a once famously hawkish Republican president, cut a deal with the Communist overlords of China to reshape the world. The result was a transformation of the global economy in ways that we are only now, with the sharp critiques of Apple’s China operation, beginning to fully comprehend.

At the heart of the deal was a rejection of the basic moral claim of both egalitarian socialism and free market capitalism, the rival ideologies of the Cold War, to empower the individual as the center of decision-making. Instead, the fate of the citizen would come to be determined by an alliance between huge multinational corporations and government elites with scant reference to the needs of ordinary working folk.

It was understood by both parties to this grand concord that monopoly capitalism could be constructed in China to be consistent with the continuance in power of a Communist hierarchy, just as in the West capitalism was consistent with the enrichment of an ostensibly democratic ruling class. Sharp income inequality, the bane of genuine reform movements bearing the names populist, socialist and democratic, came to be the defining mark of the new international order.

http://tinyurl.com/7a8zt8c

‘Occupy Koch Town’ protest may draw 500 people to Wichita

Organizers of a weekend protest in Wichita targeting billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch say about 500 activists have confirmed their plans to attend.

Event coordinator Yvonne Cather told The Wichita Eagle that people are coming from as far away as San Francisco and Washington, D.C., for the three-day “Occupy Koch Town.”

Wichita is the home of Koch Industries. Organizers of the protests that begin Friday contend the Koch brothers exemplify corporate dominance of politics and distortion of science that is perpetuating bad energy policy.

http://tinyurl.com/7bo92cr

‘Occupy Oly’ to host national teach-in this weekend

The Occupy Olympia movement is far from dead, despite an eviction in December from state-owned Heritage Park where a tent protest against economic inequality carried on for two full months. Activists now plan a “national gathering” of Occupy protesters in Olympia this weekend – with hopes of drawing national activists from Occupy Wall Street in New York and other cities across the country.
Sponsors are calling their collection of workshops and networking opportunities the Occupy Solidarity Social Forum.

http://tinyurl.com/8ay8roe

Lawmaker questioned in protest scuffle – Photographer alleges assault by Roswell Republican

A police investigation sent detectives to the Roundhouse Wednesday night over claims a state representative assaulted a woman documenting a protest at a Santa Fe hotel in January.

Photographer Lisa Law claims Rep. Dennis Kintigh, R-Roswell, went too far after a protest last month that she caught on camera.

The video shows Occupy protestors crashing a dinner filled with lawmakers at a Santa Fe hotel. Law said she was not part of the protest and was only documenting the Occupy movement.

http://tinyurl.com/8a6defq

In Chicago, The Real “Sit Down And Shut Up” Ordinance

Occupy Chicago members called Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s new Parade and Public Assembly Ordinance the “Sit Down And Shut Up” ordinance.

They made their disapproval known by bringing signs to a Special Events Committee meeting, and grumbling from the galley during the full Council vote.

Now, two of the Council’s grumpiest old men are co-sponsoring a real Sit Down and Shut Up Ordinance, one that would ban any public reaction at all to the Council’s proceedings. According to the ordinance, which has been referred to the Rules committee:

http://tinyurl.com/7s25nha

Religious Activism: A Concrete Example of ‘Occupy’ Ideals

Much of the criticism directed at the Occupy Movement has focused on protesters’ lack of clear objectives. However, as I’ve witnessed while photographing religious groups involved in the protest, for many people of faith in D.C., these goals are as bright as day: social and economic justice, and equal support for all human beings, regardless of circumstance.

As a photojournalist specializing in coverage of religious issues, I never imagined I’d end up documenting Occupy D.C., which, to me, initially seemed to be just another political protest in the nation’s capital, and a largely secular one, at that. Along with other residents of the District, I quickly came to associate Occupy with urban campsites, traffic-snarling marches through the streets, and vague goals of government overhaul.

Yet, after spending ample time among protesters and activists, I’ve realized that one of the biggest stories of the Occupy D.C. protest isn’t the physical occupation, but the further displacement and need it has generated, something that has truly galvanized the city’s religious community, among others. I have spent the past three and a half months working on a photography project about this largely unseen spiritual side of the movement.

http://tinyurl.com/74yu576

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