The OB Media Rundown for 3/14/12

Occupy Boston plans ‘flash mob’ protest

Group members are staging a pre-arranged “flash mob” protest at 12:30 p.m. today in front of the state’s Transportation Building.

Today’s lunchtime rally will be the controversial group’s first major public action since police ousted several hundred occupiers from their encampment in Dewey Square on Dec. 10.

Group members say the T protest dovetails with their anti-Wall Street platform. They say banks that received government bailouts now hold most of the T’s debt and want to see the debt forgiven or restructured to spare people who need the T to get to work. Occupy Boston member Gunner Scott said other plans are under way for an April 4 rally at the Massachusetts State House.

The new urban militarism of local law enforcement in Western society

Many observers were surprised and even shocked by police methods used to subdue various “Occupy” demonstrations across the U.S. and Europe. There seems to be increasing dependence on methods of local policing that is eerily similar to how western militaries behave in the battlefield.

We took a look yesterday at the city of Chicago’s exploding surveillance camera systems. Today, we broaden the discussion with a look at increased militarization of local law enforcement in Western-societies. Stephen Graham is professor of Cities and Society at Newcastle University in the U.K. He examines the increasing influence of military technology on domestic police forces in his book Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism.

What Has Occupy Been Up To? 6 Great Actions You Can’t Miss This Spring

The early days were beautiful, they were inspiring, but it is now that we are being deliberate, that we are building relationships with each other and with our communities, it is now that we are building our infrastructure, it is now that we are doing the internal work that we need to do in order to be smarter, faster, better at bringing people together, better at sustaining ourselves as a movement, it is now that we are more committed then ever. And we have been planning for the spring. So below I present you with a list of things to look out for from Occupy in the coming weeks and months and as it goes from winter, finally, to spring:

Inequality: Democracy’s credibility gap

As important as it is to strengthen the safety net for the neediest and lay the foundations to help people rise out of poverty, the problem of economic disparity also requires attention. It goes to the heart of much of the public resentment and discontent we have seen lately in the Americas, from the “Occupy Wall Street” encampments in the United States to the massive student protests in Chile.

That is simply not compatible with democratic ideals of equality and the common good. We ignore this issue at our peril. For citizens to be truly invested in democracy, they need to be able to see the possibility of improving their own lives and feel hope for the future. And they need to sense that they are part of a common enterprise working for the general good, not merely for the benefit of a select few.

The Inter-American Democratic Charter, adopted by the OAS member states in 2001, affirms that democracy and economic and social development go hand in hand. Closing the inequality gap will require deep structural reforms in tax codes, labor laws and social policies.

Citi among banks that fail Fed stress test – Bank losses estimated at $534 billion during stressed scenario

Ally Financial Inc., Citigroup Inc., MetLife Inc. and SunTrust Banks Inc. failed to have enough capital under a stress test conducted on 19 big banks, the Federal Reserve said late Tuesday.

The test, designed to assess whether reserves were necessary to withstand another crisis like the credit crunch of 2008, showed Ally, Citi and SunTrust each had less than a 5% of capital set aside under a measure called Tier 1 capital ratio, according to a Fed statement Tuesday. See the stress-test league table.

Citi said it only failed because of its planned capital-return plan and that the central bank told the company that it can still pay existing dividends on common and preferred stock.

Editorial: Don’t forget ideas behind Occupy New Haven

I am happy that Beach and Ahern feel so at home on the Green, a plot of land touching the historic centers of government, justice, business and religion in our community. It’s likely that, had my own ancestors settled here, I would share their sense of connection and entitlement.

But, Occupy is about people who do not enjoy such privilege, who feel disconnected from those centers of power, who feel the need to take back and, yes, occupy at least a piece of the public sphere on their own terms.

That’s what they’ve done on the Green. It’s not a camp; it’s a beachhead.

Occupy New Haven has brought together a diverse group – older and younger; employed, unemployed and overemployed; from the many neighborhoods of New Haven and beyond; and, yes, even homeless folks – to talk politics, advocate for justice, learn from one another and create coalitions with those who’ve been pursuing such goals in our community for years.

Editorial: Concerns of Occupy DePaul relatable for all

I’ll be perfectly honest here. When I first heard of the Occupy DePaul movement, or Occupy Chicago for that matter, I thought of the two socialist politicians I befriended in Europe, and how naive I thought they were. Like many others, I dismissed them as a group of spoiled college brats, who just wanted to cause trouble.

I no longer do. Hanging out with them, I now notice myself from five years ago. I’m happy that despite the ongoing attacks against them, be it from the school administration or their own fellow students, they relentlessly fight for what they believe in. Their struggle isn’t just against the Board of Trustees or the President of the University. It is most of all a fight against the unjust political, economic and social system that we live in. And that is, in my opinion, student activism.

If there is one thing you should learn from Occupy DePaul and other similar social movements, both big and small, it is that their concerns are almost always genuine. They are, after all, people’s concerns – and as such our concerns as well.

County in WA state wants to arrest, ban disruptive Occupy protesters, edit gov. video to cut out protests before showing on public TV

“There’s nothing worse for democracy than disrupting the public process,” council member Barbara Brenner said at a Tuesday, March 13, council discussion. “I don’t want them to be able to come into this meeting again.”
. . .

Council members then discussed editing disruptions out of the video before it could be shown on the public cable channel, but [prosecutor] McEachran said that might be an illegal editing of a public record.

PA’s Third-Party Candidates: How They’re Fighting Back Against the State That Hates Them

Kleinman’s not the first insurgent candidate to be kicked off the ballot in Pennsylvania. He certainly won’t be the last.

With its laws regarding challenges to an often hefty ballot-signature requirement and the loser-pays system, Pennsylvania’s election system favors wealthy, politically powerful candidates (moreso than other states)-while deterring their opponents, especially third-party candidates, from even attempting a run for office.

Third parties across Pennsylvania have gotten behind State Senate Bill 21-ballot-signature reform-which would put the first dent in Pennsylvania’s oft-anti-democratic system. (A system that led the Helsinki Accords’ Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights-the same group that convened in 1975 to improve Western-Soviet relations-in 2006 to call the commonwealth one of the worst spots in the entire world to hold free and fair elections.) Similarly, there are pending lawsuits that would cut out the loser-pays rule being debated in Pennsylvania right now. But most state politicians and judges familiar and satisfied with the status quo aren’t getting near any of it.

Occupy Cincinnati’s modest victory – legal settlement to secure a small place to protest illuminates the sorry state of freedom in Ohio

I supposed it’s true – there’s victory in having 300 charges dismissed and successfully standing up for freedom of speech and assembly. But when this freedom’s physical manifestation is a small part of a park, which won’t close but can’t be camped on, it doesn’t seem all that free to me – or about as free as our Orwellian Free Speech Zones. Roco is right: having an area where people can express themselves at all times is important. All areas should be this way. That this area had to be won in a legal settlement just illustrates, as the city solicitor inadvertently pointed out, the real limits of our freedom to speak and assemble.

For heaven’s sake, candidates find state restricts nicknames [NV]

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Ross Miller informed two U.S. Senate candidates that their nicknames won’t be allowed on the 2012 ballot because they violate the law.

Nancy “Occupy” Price refused to budge from her conviction that she should be allowed to associate herself with Occupy Wall Street on the ballot. The movement began last fall as a protest against social and economic inequality, greed, corruption and the influence of corporations on government.

“My understanding is you can call yourself whatever you want in terms of who you are,” said Price, a Democrat. “Yeah, I know what they said, but I’m going to research it. I bet there’s a counter law.”

Women Occupy San Diego Plans to Protest Issa Fundraiser

Protesters organized by Women Occupy San Diego have vowed to picket a fundraiser for Congressman Darrell Issa tonight at the Shadowridge Country Club in Vista.

Issa “recently held a panel investigation on contraception but refused to allow women to speak. Picketers want Issa to know they will make their views heard, despite his best efforts to ignore them,” alleges a release being distributed by the group.

Kentucky Occupiers mark Chase Bank CEO’s birthday with a party, educate about foreclosures

On Tuesday there was a different kind of occupy protest, it was filled with balloons, cupcakes and noise makers.

The protest was an un-birthday party outside the Chase bank in downtown Louisville.

Protesters say it was a chance for them to educate people about bank foreclosures on the birthday of Chase’s CEO.

Colorful protest kicks off Occupy West Seattle as protesters march, rally and carry mock birthday messages to Chase Bank CEO

By our count, there are about two dozen people participating in the Occupy West Seattle rally in The Junction. Police are there too – including Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Paulsen. Our crew at the scene says it’s gone as the group had said it would – they walked from KeyBank to Chase, and are now on the California/Oregon corner.

The announced 4 pm start time of the rally coincided with a blast of snow and hail. More to come.

Occupiers disrupt university regents meeting [GA]

The students delivered their message in a two-minute, call-and-response method. They said they were students from nearby Georgia State University and other schools and that they were upset about rising tuition and fees. They also blamed the regents for limits the General Assembly put on the HOPE Scholarship last year.

The protesters also complained that recent policies are reducing the number of blacks in public colleges and leading to the segregation of higher education.

One arrested in Occupy Delaware protests as protesters disrupt foreclosure sale

Occupy members disrupted the county sheriff’s foreclosure sale in the morning, as they have for a few months, and member Bill Shafarman says this is the first time someone was arrested.

“One person did resist walking out and he was arrested. He didn’t do anything violent, he just continued to read the statement.”

‘Occupy Metro’ is born: Unions rally in downtown D.C. to demand transit funding

Jackie Jeter, leader of Amalgamated Local 689, represents thousands of WMATA employees but on March 13, she and other union leaders demanded more funding for transit everywhere. They brought a stagecoach and leaflets to Farragut Square.

Union members from all over the country gathered in Farragut Square early Tuesday morning, ready to chant, present their public transportation signs, and pass out leaflets.

Occupy Apple

While communities all up and down the Silicon Valley are trying to repair sprawl by replacing it with smart growth, Apple is actually taking a site that is now parking lots and low-rise boxes and making it worse for the community. Yes, it will be iconic, assuming you think a building shaped like a whitewall motorcycle tire is iconic, but it will reduce current street connectivity, seal off potential walking routes and, as I wrote some time back, essentially turn its back on its community. With a parking garage designed to hold over ten thousand cars, by the way.
. . .

The company didn’t have to do it this way. They could have built the site with a combination of corporate offices, new housing (the notorious shortage of affordable homes in the Silicon Valley causes much environmental damage), and neighborhood services. They still could have found a way to secure parts of their offices that need to be secure. If they built enough new units of housing, perhaps they could reduce the hefty amount of corporate parking, because some employees could choose to live nearby and walk. By facing the street, they could have set themselves up nicely for a future transit line.

They could have helped create a real neighborhood by knitting together a district that is currently fractured spatially. They could have made this about the community rather than about themselves. But this isn’t really for the people, see; this is for the one percent. If the Occupy movement had a clue, there would be tents going up in Cupertino right now.

Infiltration of Political Movements is the Norm, Not the Exception in the United States, Part II

According to, Surveillance and Governance: Crime Control and Beyond, the goal of COINTELPRO was also to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, or otherwise neutralize” groups. FBI field operatives were directed to:

1. Create a negative public image for target groups by surveiling activists and then releasing negative personal information to the public.

2. Break down internal organization by creating conflicts by having agents exacerbate racial tensions, or send anonymous letters to try to create conflicts.

3. Create dissension between groups by spreading rumors that other groups were stealing money.

4. Restrict access to public resources by pressuring non-profit organizations to cut off funding or material support.

5. Restrict the ability to organize protests through agents promoting violence against police during planning and at protests.

6. Restrict the ability of individuals to participate in group activities by character assassinations, false arrests, surveillance.

In California and Beyond, the Changing Nature of Campus Protests Frustrates Administrators

Campus protests don’t always arise locally or focus on discrete issues or demands. Sometimes, they’re not even led by students.

Those characteristics vex some senior student-affairs administrators in the University of California system, where a tumultuous combination of steep tuition increases and the high-profile national “Occupy” movement resulted in demonstrations that have ensnared at least two campuses-Berkeley and Davis-in lawsuits.

The California officials spoke at a panel discussion on Monday afternoon here at the annual meeting of Naspa-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, saying that the recent events had underscored two points. For one, the origins and execution of campus protests are changing, and they bear little resemblance to the demonstrations of the 1960s and ’70s, in the administrators’ own undergraduate days. Also, the fluid Occupy movement, in particular, is challenging officials to rethink the way they plan for and respond to student protests.

Anglican clergy back Christians evicted from steps of St Paul’s

The Canon Pastor of St Paul’s Cathedral, Rt Rev Michael Colclough, has received a letter from five Christians who were removed by police as they prayed on the cathedral steps during the eviction of the ‘Occupy’ camp.

Twenty clergy, including eleven Anglicans, have counter-signed the letter in support.

The five have called on the cathedral authorities to clarify whether they gave the police permission for the forced removal, which saw police dragging praying Christians from their knees.

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