The OB Media Rundown for 2/5/12

Tea party, Occupy groups find common ground in Worcester

More than 100 people who don’t agree on much agreed yesterday that a Congress that passes a law permitting the indefinite detention of Americans without charge diminishes the country.

Among them were Sheila, a 68-year-old tea party member from Worcester who brought her sign “What-cha gonna do when They come for you,” and Occupy Worcester’s Sam Capogrossi. They and a dozen others banged on a 5-gallon plastic container, trying to persuade the drivers in rush-hour traffic on Main Street that the National Defense Authorization Act that passed in December is a threat to their civil liberties. The law permits indefinite detention for terrorism suspects, American or not.

They read in unison the Bill of Rights in the plaza in front of the federal courthouse, under the watchful eyes on three Worcester police officers and two members of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service. There were no incidents, save for a citation written for defacing public property when an Occupy Worcester member wrote in chalk “Occupy Everywhere” on a column in Federal Plaza.

The ‘Unworthy Poor’

Remember that “Look, these so-called ‘poor’ have refrigerators” thing? The new model conservative is a Victorian gent who would pity the poor, but has seen them dicing and drinking instead of acting out pathetic scenes from melodramas, and so cuffs them whenever they ask for change. Or a job.

Corporate Rate Is Lowest in Decades – 12.1 Percent

U.S. companies are booking higher profits than ever. But the number crunchers in Washington are puzzling over a phenomenon that has just come into view: Corporate tax receipts as a share of profits are at their lowest level in at least 40 years.

Total corporate federal taxes paid fell to 12.1% of profits earned from activities within the U.S. in fiscal 2011, which ended Sept. 30, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That’s the lowest level since at least 1972. And well below the 25.6% companies paid on average from 1987 to 2008.

Unilever boss defends scrapping of ‘unjustified’ final salary pension scheme

[Unilever owns Ben and Jerry's ice cream, which endorsed the OWS movement in the Fall]

The chief of the world’s second-biggest consumer goods company has defended his position on scrapping the firm’s final salary pension scheme.

Unilever, which sells everything from soap to ice cream, is facing a huge backlash from workers over its planned closure of the scheme.

It has been hit by strikes over the past month and the union met yesterday to discuss the next stage of its strategy.

Prison Privatization Advances in Florida as Republican Opponent is Stripped Of Senate Chairmanship

The biggest critic of a massive prison privatization scheme in Florida was stripped of his chairmanship of the Budget Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriation for opposing Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) plan to outsource prison oversight to the lowest bidder.

Sen. Mike Fasano (R) is one of ten Senate Republicans who opposes the plan to give private, for-profit vendors control over 26 prisons, but his vocal criticism provoked retribution from one of the bill’s biggest supporters, Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R):

Austerity in America – In Illinois, budget cuts fall hard on ex-cons trying to make good

According to a 2010 report by the John Howard Association (JHA), which has been monitoring Illinois prisons and working for reform since 1901, 14 percent of Illinois’ prison population was enrolled in college education programs in 2002. By 2009, after Illinois cut funding for the programs, only 10 percent of prisoners were enrolled.

Similarly, there were 136 vocational education programs in Illinois state prisons in 2002, but only 96 by 2009. Even those that offer job training, like Vandalia Correctional Center where Owens was locked up, limit the programs to low-level offenders and prisoners close to their release dates. Owens was one of only 45 inmates (out of a total of 1,748 at the prison) who were enrolled in job training at the time of a June 2011 JHA prison tour report. JHA executive director John Maki says, “We’re seeing prohibitively long waiting lists at nearly all facilities.”

Goldman to face mortgage debt class-action lawsuit

Goldman Sachs Group Inc was ordered by a federal judge to face a securities class-action lawsuit accusing it of defrauding investors about a 2006 offering of securities backed by risky mortgage loans from a now-defunct lender.

U.S. District Judge Harold Baer in Manhattan certified a class-action lawsuit by investors led by the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi.

Occupy Minnesota Fences Off A Foreclosure-Free Zone In South Minneapolis

Occupy Minnesota set up a fence around an entire south Minneapolis neighborhood block and they call it a foreclosure-free zone.

They want to save the home of Bobby Hull, a former Marine and Vietnam War veteran. He has lived in his home since 1968. Recent health problems caused Hull to fall behind on his mortgage.

Hull and his family will be evicted this month if the bank doesn’t modify his loan.

In South Florida, Occupy movement targets housing crisis

After months of noisy protests and public-space encampments, South Florida’s Occupy movement has quietly shifted its focus to “occupying” houses to support homeowners caught in the foreclosure crisis.

Fort Wayne Occupy ‘mourns’ bill of rights

Some of the men wore black and some of the women wore veils.

Some donned masks, some sunglasses. Some held flowers as they gathered around a casket and even a tombstone. And there were bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace” from a stereo, some somber words of remembrance from a man with a bullhorn and very nearly a cremation.

And then, a daring rescue.

Occupy Easton [PA] eulogizes the Bill of Rights

About 40 Occupy Easton protestors walked Downtown city streets today carrying a makeshift coffin in what they called a funeral procession for the Bill of Rights.

Some demonstrators wore all-black clothing, calling it a day of mourning for lost civil liberties. Others carried cardboard signs in the shape of tombstones with such sayings as “Occupy Together” and “U.S. lied, they died.”

Protesters brave wintery weather for rally downtown [IA]

Roughly two dozen protestors from Occupy Des Moines and elsewhere braved wet, sticky weather this morning for a “No Assassinations! No Sanctions! No Interventions! No War on Iran” rally in downtown Des Moines.

“This is a pretty good crowd for a blizzard,” said Karla Hansen of Clive.

Occupy Kalamazoo celebrates Inter-Occupational Summit Assembly, protests possible war in Iran

People from Occupy Kalamazoo and other groups carried signs and chanted slogans as they marched around town on Saturday as part of the 7th Inter-Occupational Summit Assembly and to protest against the possibility of the U.S. going to war with Iran.

About 60 people took part in the protest in Kalamazoo. It was one of many happening in cities around the country. The summit was held to create a sense of community among occupy movements across the region.

Occupy Tucson is back

Occupy Tucson has caught a lot of people’s attention in both positive and negative ways. On the upside it has pushed some major issues into the spotlight, but on the downside there have been about 850 arrests since October 2011.

Tucson Supervising Prosecutor, Alan Merritt said, “It increased the work load no question about that. This is quite a bulge if you will, of defendants to come through the system all at the same time.”

According to protestor Sherry Mann the movement might have appeared to be dead, but now it’s come roaring back. She said, “We didn’t lose our energy. I think we are back stronger than ever.”

Sonoma County Daily Attacks Occupy Movement

The Sonoma County daily’s Press Democrat February 1 editorial “Occupy Movement in Ashes” is wishful thinking. Our phoenix will rise during this month. You wait. You watch. You see.

Occupy is still an infant, having been born in New York September 17 with Occupy Wall Street. It is not even five months old and already the local daily tries to editorialize it into ashes. Rumors of our death are premature. We have made mistakes, including in Oakland. We’re learning and experiencing what one activist calls “growing pains.”

Provoked by police violence in Oakland, a few cornered occupiers among the 2000 present reacted. That has not happened here. The Sonoma County Occupy Town Hall Affinity Group,of which I am a member, opposes violence, as do the overwhelming majority of Occupy groups and individuals.

I do, however, respect the right of self-defense by those cornered by the police. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Violence is the voice of the unheard.” And as President John F. Kennedy said at a 1962 speech at the White House, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Occupy movement in Latin America

Oscar being a prominent filmmaker at various Latin American broadcasters talks about the domino effects of the Occupy movement from the United States to Latin American countries and the anti-imperialist force or a new version of Leftist movement forming in the region.

The broadcast of the OWS movement in the Latin American TV channels, the role the internet and social networks have played in creating and spreading this movement, the effect of Arab Spring on the 99 percent movement and much more issues are all reviewed in this edition of On the Edge.

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