The OB Media Rundown for 2/26/12

Extreme poverty in US has more than doubled since 1996 – 4 million Americans live on less than $2 a day

A policy brief recently issued by the National Poverty Center (NPC) reveals that the number of households in the US living on less than $2 a day per person has increased by 130 percent since 1996, from 636,000 to some 1.46 million today.

This means that some 4 million people in “the richest country on earth” are surviving on less than $60 a month each, i.e., essentially on no income whatsoever.

Payroll tax cut undermines Social Security’s security

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) put it well when he excoriated President Obama and his fellow congressional Democrats for approving a measure that places Social Security’s financial stability on the table. “I never thought I would live to see the day when a Democratic president … would agree to put Social Security in this kind of jeopardy,” he said. “Never did I ever imagine a Democratic president beginning the unraveling of Social Security.”

Even conservatives who aren’t fans of the program’s current structure acknowledge how hard it will be at any point in the foreseeable future to restore the old rate.

European Central Bank President Declares War on Europe’s Social Safety Nets

[ECB President] Draghi’s drunk-on-austerity-Kool-Aid message was a perfect fit for the Wall Street Journal. While he wasn’t as colorful as Andrew Mellon’s famous “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate,” Draghi is still a true heir in believing that his prescription, per Melllon, will result in “High costs of living and high living will come down.” The “high living” that Draghi is particularly opposed to is Europe’s social safety nets.

The bizarre part about that is it is those very programs that kept Europe from being in even worse shape than it is now. I recall in early 2009 that American economic officials were hectoring Europeans, particularly Germans, for not doing enough in the way of economic stimulus. European readers argued that that reflected abject ignorance. Germany provides generous support to idled workers, and that spending was automatic. Germany performed far better than its US critics anticipated.

Not surprisingly, the Journal did not question the notion that democratic governments should take orders from an unelected finance official. But Draghi tried to make his views sound a tad more legitimate by blaming the planned ritual sacrifice as a demand of the market gods.

ECB’s $158 Billion Free Lunch for European Banks Seen Boosting Profits

Banks are benefiting from a European Central Bank subsidy that could reach 120 billion euros ($158 billion), enough to pay every bonus at financial firms in London for the next 24 years at today’s levels.

Divest now! San Francisco Churches Move $10 Million From Wells Fargo

Religious organizations have been at the forefront of movements to get consumers to move their money. The New Bottom Line, a coalition of faith groups, pledged to move $1 billion this year, and before Thanksgiving, churches moved $55 million away from Wall Street banks with pledges to remove as much as $100 million more. This week, churches in San Francisco announced they were moving another $10 million, Faith in Public Life reports:

This week, a group of clergy in San Francisco added another $10 million to that total with an Ash Wednesday press conference calling on Wells Fargo to put an immediate freeze on its foreclosures and repent for their misconduct.

Globalization and the Crisis of Democracy

The Occupy Wall Street movement is a demand for democracy in a world of financial power beyond the reach of popular will. People have reacted not only to the inequality of wealth, but also to the inequality of power that makes it possible. The rebellion has swelled with millions no longer accepting the legitimacy of Wall Street nor their political representatives in Washington.

The movement is a reaction to the current economic crisis, but also to a historic shift in the nature of capitalism. The populist content of bourgeois rule that emerged with the American and French revolutions is being exhausted and corrupted, replaced with a clear shift to the right. Globalization has given rise to a transnational capitalist class (TCC) with access to world labor and markets and a neoliberal penchant for deregulation. The result is the shredding of the old social contracts and a gutting of democratic political restraints.

In wake of national mortgage fraud settlement, government touts other options for victims to pursue banks that are designed to fail

I was hired as one of those “Independent File Review Specialist” at a company called Promontory working on Wells Fargo Bank. I have 15 years industry experience in all facets of the mortgage & title industry, and just needed a job at the moment. I must say the whole project is a mess, and a terrible joke on the victims of foreclosure and the American people. It’s a total sham.

I have found errors that should be moved up through the ranks, but am told “quit digging so deep”…”put your shovel away”…Focus on the questions “in scope”… The review forms are set up so no harm could ever be found. It’s equivalent of an attorney presenting his case to a judge with just 20% of the evidence.

The foreclosed victims don’t realize if they do not provide specific dates on the intake forms… their complaints are considered “general comments” out of scope. They should specifically ask for a “full file review” and hopefully their info has not been scrubbed or purged… I could go on and on, but I just felt I needed to share this.

Cornell West Visits Tufts, Predicts ‘Magnificent Flowering’ for Occupy Movement

On the Occupy Movement: “I think that this coming spring we are going to see waves and layers of activism…this coming spring is going to be, I think, a magnificent flowering of awakening among young folks.”

On the Indigineous perspective of American Democracy: “What does the American democratic experience look like from the vantage point of our indigenous brothers and sisters? It was their land, it was their precious babys, it was their men and women who were violated. World War 1 began in 1492, it’s been going on ever since.”

On White Collar Crime: “Predatory lending and market manipulation and insider trading on Wall Street. Not one prosecuted. That’s criminal, gangster Activity. But when it comes to poor people it’s intense police surveillance. That’s why the jail’s full of poor black brown and white brothers and sisters. Where is the moral outrage?”

The Occupy Super Pac Non-Story: How Lazy Hacks Helped Breitbart Smear the Occupy Movement

Last week, several news organizations carried a story about an alleged Occupy PAC that, if true, would have driven another stake of political cynicism in the heart of the fractured movement, built on idealism and opposition to the corruption of American politics.

There’s only one problem: The alleged “Occupy PAC” story isn’t at all what it seems, and had any of the reporters who first “broke” it last week bothered applying a little professional skepticism, the story never would have got off the ground, and never would have created yet another layer of disillusionment and cynicism that Occupy’s enemies have been actively sowing.

Occupy Phoenix Endures, Plans Feb. 29 Action

Even though the occupation of Cesar Chavez plaza ended in January, Occupy Phoenix is keeping the movement alive in the Valley and have organized a day-long set of activities Feb. 29 to protest the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Occupy Portland called for the ALEC action Jan. 2 and Occupy Phoenix is one of 70 cities and towns across the U.S. where actions are planned. Participating Occupy cities have targeted American Legislative Exchange Council companies. In Phoenix, a press conference and rally will be held at the state capitol at noon Wednesday, Feb. 29. A march to Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold at Van Buren and First streets will begin from Cesar Chavez plaza at 3 p.m. Arizona companies involved in ALEC include Apollo Group, Arizona Public Service, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, Raytheon and SRP. A “scenic tour” of other ALEC companies in downtown Phoenix will begin at 5 p.m.

Occupy activists rally outside home of Wells Fargo CEO

Organized theater played Russian Hill on Saturday – 1960s street theater updated with 21st century themes.

The setting was the base of the 14-story tower where one of the residents is John Stumpf, chief executive officer of Wells Fargo. The cast included people who say they are in danger of losing their homes, veteran housing activists and younger protesters loosely aligned with the almost 6-month-old Occupy movement.

Five Occupy Louisville members arrested over Chase bank foreclosures

Officers advised the demonstrators that they could protest but could not block the bank entrance or prevent customers from entering.

After a few customers were let inside the bank, several protesters tried to rush the door, Mitchell said. The officers called for backup and arrested five people.

Phillips said the group chose the branch for the demonstration at 1 p.m. to protest local home foreclosures because it was open on Saturday and because Chase is “one of the worst offenders” in making what Occupy Louisville contends are illegal foreclosures.

Closing southwest Detroit schools would be devastating, protesters say

Planned school closures in southwest Detroit would hinder education for Spanish-speaking students, harm stable neighborhoods and create conflict at other schools, according to dozens of protesters who rallied outside of Detroit Public Schools’ headquarters today.

With signs reading “Roy Robot, have a heart” and “No mas correr escuelas,” members of Occupy Detroit and By Any Means Necessary, as well as residents of Southwest Detroit, chanted “up, up with education, down, down with Roy Roberts” outside of the Fisher Building.

Two protesters arrested at Rumsfeld speaking event

A journalist asked former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld one question shortly after they took the stage Friday afternoon at the Truman Library. Rumsfeld, who last appeared at the library in the spring of 2006, said he was glad to be back in Independence.

And then nearly 10 minutes of vocalized disruption broke out.

“Mic check! Donald Rumsfeld, turn yourself in! War criminal!” the group of protesters shouted in unison, using the interruption made popular by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Why #OccupyWallStreet? 4 Reasons


20-year-old Occupy activist running for mayor of Portland, OR

Along with officially entering his name on the mayoral ticket, Cameron launches his debut of ‘The Progressive Portland Plan’, which provides innovative solutions to the systemic potholes left in our outdated city charter. Cameron is already soliciting community leaders and organizations for their endorsement of the PPP, and seeking public input for its constant evolution.

But the road to Mayor does come with its shortfalls. Cameron has to combat a number of political stigmas in the local environment, where he often feels the discrimination of being a young, low-income, African American male. Cameron continues to be an advocate for the neglected neighborhoods of immigrant and minority communities, which have suffered from budgetary neglect and police hostility.

Blowback for Occupy supporter and retired police Capt. Ray Lewis

The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police’s board of directors voted unanimously on a motion to potentially take away Lewis’ pension.

FOP President John McNesby has publicly stated: “I champion him for going up there and pleading his case, but he shouldn’t have done it in a police uniform. When he put the freaking uniform on is when he crossed the fucking line.”
McNesby goes on to say that if were up to him, Lewis “would be booted from the FOP and lose his retirement benefits.”

These are the same police administrators who allowed Tyrone Wiggins, an officer convicted of raping a 13 year old girl, to keep his pension until August of 2011 – 9 years.

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