The OB Media Rundown for 3/17/12

National Occupy expansion to smaller towns and cities grows with formation of Occupy Portsmouth [RI]

A group calling itself “Occupy Portsmouth” says it’s planning a meeting in town next month and intends to set up shop there as part of the national Occupy movement.

The Newport Daily News reports that the group announced this week that it will hold a “general assembly” April 3 at Patriot Park to plan what it calls “the future occupation of Portsmouth.” The group says it’s part of an expansion of the national movement into smaller towns.

The movement against corporate excess and economic inequality began six months ago with Occupy Wall Street and spread to cities worldwide, including Providence.

Boston Climate Activists Make Bank of America ATMs More Truthful

In another action targeting Bank of America for its financing of the coal industry, this one timed to coincide with Occupy Wall Street’s “Occupy Bank of America” March 15 day of action, RAN activists transformed over 70 ATMs into Automated Truth Machines, this time in and around Boston.

Activists used special non-adhesive stickers designed to look like BoA’s ATM interface. Instead of checking and savings accounts, customers are offered transaction options like investing in coal plants, foreclosing on homeowners, or bankrolling climate change.

Elite BoA executives like CEO Brian Moynihan reside in and around the city, making Boston an arena ripe for protests and ethical debate for the 99%. Targeted actions against BoA are expected to escalate between now and the company’s anticipated Annual General Meeting, where activists plan to gather en masse in May in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Wall Street firms face skeptical students

Wall Street firms have generated lots of controversy with their recruiting trips to universities.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has protested them energetically, and now the noisy resignation of Greg Smith, who was a key player in recruiting for the bank, has raised some related issues.

In his now famous op-ed piece, he wrote, “I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.”

Occupy 2.0: Protesters Go High-Tech

Occupy Wall Street’s open-air encampments and spontaneous demonstrations through New York City have been largely organized through Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Now, protesters said, those tools are no longer enough.

A team of about 30 people has been working through the winter months, developing high-tech tools to help coordinate demonstrations that protesters will execute this spring and summer. From Internet maps tracking police barricades to a fundraising website, protesters said the technology will help sustain the movement as it moves away from a collection of encampments and spontaneous protests-an Occupy 2.0, they said.
. . .

ome of these tools-mapping, high-definition live-stream video, mass email list-serves and secure mobile Wi-Fi networks-may be used Saturday when protesters have planned demonstrations to highlight the six-month mark since Sept. 17, when Occupy Wall Street first took over Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan. And they’ll likely be used during a series of protests planned for across the country on May 1.

Calling themselves the movement’s “technology operations working group,” the team includes software developers, computer programmers web code writers and social media experts. Most live in New York, communicating by email and working in their spare time. Some members have taken on projects that require more than 20 hours of work each week.

The American nightmare: What happened to economic mobility in the U.S.?

“If you work hard and play by the rules, you ought to have a decent life and a chance for your children to have a better one,” President Bill Clinton once famously declared. Yet America is no longer the best place for those born poor to live out the American Dream. According to some studies, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and much of Western Europe offer their citizens a much higher degree of economic mobility.

The impoverished in the U.S., on the other hand, are more likely to stay poor, while rich Americans stay rich – bad news for a country grounded in a much-vaunted “classless” society and one of presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s talking points on the campaign trail. Is economic mobility in the U.S. a myth?

On Bank of America, Occupy Wall Street Has Told You So

“What’s going on today, guys?” asked Detective Rick Lee, or, as he’s more widely known, Hipster Cop. I was standing outside the World Financial Center with Allison Kilkenny of Citizen Radio, The Nation and In These Times, and we had just been hoping he could answer the same question. There, behind us, stood roughly one hundred protesters with placards condemning Bank of America; behind him, there stood nearly fifty police officers. I asked him just how many cops the department had deployed. “The usual,” Lee responded. “Got to prepare for the worst.”

Oddly, that is also what the protesters had come to communicate. “The worst,” in Lee’s mind, was probably riots. In the occupiers’ minds, “the worst” was another financial meltdown, triggering another bailout, triggering more austerity, triggering worse conditions – this time instigated by Bank of America becoming insolvent. Occupy Wall Street has shown absolutely no interest in rioting, but big banks have definitely run out of money in the recent past, and all indications are that Bank of America threatens to join them soon.

US tightens up on protesting


In 2011, Time Magazine called The Protester the person of the year. But a new law that was recently signed by President Obama very well might mean that won’t happen again. Since the start of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, over 6,700 Americans have been arrested for taking part in demonstrations and this new law could raise those numbers significantly. Marina Portnaya gives us the latest on H.R. 347, the Trespass Bill.

Michele Bachmann Had No Idea She Was Meeting the ‘Dangerous Radical’ Running Against Her

Longtime activist and Occupy Wall Street participant Ann Nolan is the sort of woman that gives Michele Bachmann hives. Pro-Wall Street Reform, pro-universal health care, pro-mandatory 3 weeks’ vacation for all American workers, and, most Bachmann dystopian of all- she didn’t take her husband’s name when they married. Because Nolan’s essentially opposite-Bachmann, the story of how Bachmann met Nolan and had no idea who she was is extra funny.

Last week, the Minnesota mother of 3 announced she was stepping up to challenge Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s redrawn 6th district. And almost instantaneously, Bachmann’s camp sent out a blast email requesting “emergency funding” so she could fight the dangerous radical challenging her. But, unbeknownst to Bachmann, the two had spoken just the weekend before. In fact, Bachmann complimented the “dangerous” woman’s thought process.

99 Percent Spring: the Latest MoveOn Front for the Democratic Party

In this latest case, the so-called 99 [Percent] Spring, MoveOn is enlisting other NGOs to create the appearance of a populist uprising from the Left, when it’s all about keeping the rabble in line and aimed at the Republicans to re-elect Obama,” he continued.

Gay Groups Protest Human Rights Campaign For Honoring Goldman Sachs, Blankfein

A coalition of LGBT groups is planning a protest of the Human Rights Campaign during an upcoming Los Angeles event. Why? The Occupy Los Angeles Queer Affinity Group and GetEQUAL are unhappy with the HRC’s decision to make Goldman Sachs CEO Llyod Blankfein its national spokesman for marriage equality AND the honoring of said controversial financial firm with a HRC Corporate Equality trophy.

“Making Us Sick:” Occupy Groups Target Wells Fargo Board Member Over Foreclosures

Under umbrellas in a driving rain, activists from Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and Occupy Bernal sponsored a foreclosure protest Wednesday targeting Dignity Health CEO and president, Lloyd Dean, who also sits on the Wells Fargo board of directors and chairs the bank’s Corporate Responsibility Committee.

An ACCE and Occupy Bernal letter of demand addressed to Dean and hand-delivered to his Dignity Health office in San Francisco, demands he stop Wells Fargo, the nations largest mortgage provider, from foreclosing homes on San Francisco residents, particularly those homeowners in hard-hit areas in the Bayview, Excelsior, and Bernal Heights neighborhoods.

Regional Occupy conference continues after arrests at St. Louis park

Members of Occupy the Midwest, the coalition of “Occupy” movements in town for a weekend conference, marched on the Missouri Botanical Gardens Friday morning to show opposition for the Monsanto Company, a sponsor of the garden.

The number of protesters in attendance, about 200, was growth from the 150 who defied curfew orders Thursday night at Compton Hill Reservoir Park at Grand Boulevard just south of Interstate 44, where 15 protesters were arrested for general disturbance and violating curfew. Friday night, two men remained held on charges of misdemeanor assault, with one of the men also facing a felony charge of unlawful use of a weapon.

“We just got bigger,” Occupy St. Louis member Zach Chasnoff said Friday afternoon. Several of the arrested were visibly bloodied, according to a statement issued by the protesters. Thirteen of the protesters were each released on $300 bail.

Protestors in Davis Occupy Monsanto, shut it down

Protesters gathered in front of the Monsanto office on Fifth Street as part of a nationwide protest against the agricultural bio-tech company Friday morning.

Monsanto employees did not show up to the building, which appeared to be shut down for the day because of the protest. Two security guards stood near the entry while a crowd held signs on the sidewalk on Fifth Street while it sporadically rained.

The Occupied Spring [UT]

Occupy SLC will be planting some new seeds for change this weekend, both literal and figurative as they host a spring planning session as well as help do spring gardening at a local community garden.

Spring is upon us and it’s time to sow the seeds of change, that’s why Occupy is asking Salt Lakers to rise from their hibernation and meet at a solidarity meeting on Saturday, in honor of the six month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Occupy Atlanta And Others Rally Against Bill To Ban Protests And More

Saturday February 17 will be a very busy day in downtown Atlanta. Not only will there be several events tied into St. Patrick’s Day but members of Occupy Atlanta and representatives of the civil rights and labor community will rally against bills before the Georgia Legislature that would outlaw everything from peaceful protests to abortion.

Detroiters Take To Streets In ’12 Days Of Action’

Day One of “12 Days of Action” began peacefully with prayer at Cadillac Place, and ended with a loud confrontation with security in the lobby.

“Michigan is the new Birmingham (Alabama),” said Pastor David Bullock with the Detroit Chapter of Rainbow Push Coalition. “Michigan is the new Ground Zero for protests against tyranny and occupation.”

“We stand for democracy. So, those that are in the employ of the state, we’re worried – when the people are united and cannot be defeated they began to accost grandmothers,” he said.

New York state GOP convention draws a diversity of protesters, including Occupy

Outside Rochester Riverside Convention Center, there were small protests. A noon hour rally took on hydrofracking. “Their lies and deceit will not be allowed to stand,” said Sean Maloney of Occupy Rochester.

Another group declared war on 39 Republican Senators who they say went back on a promise to support independent redistricting. “We know that they broke this promise and they will be held accountable for their lies and their deceit,” Maloney said.

Santorum Speaks At Hersey High, Some Reject His Message

U.S. Presidential candidate Rick Santorum swung through Hersey High School in Arlington Hts. this afternoon (Friday) speaking to students as part of the school’s Election Project. The event was closed to the public but open to students and the media. Reporters were told they could not question students on school grounds but said many would make themselves available after the event at a strip mall across the street.

Outside the school, gay rights protesters and demonstrators from Stand Up Chicago, a group affiliated with Occupy Chicago, picketed the event, and distributed flyers. Some adults leaving the school after the event took the flyers willingly while others politely rejected them.

Some students the Journal spoke with objected to Santorum’s message and the process by which

Kean University students “occupy” campus to protest school President

Students at Kean University camped out on campus Thursday night, March 15, to protest the retention of school president Dawood Farahi, who came under fire last month when it was discovered he may have falsified information on his resume.

Nearly two dozen students gathered and set up tents near the center of campus to “Occupy the Grass.” The “occupants” distributed flyers, threw Frisbees and spoke to students and faculty about their discontent with President Farahi and the school board’s decision to retain him.

At risk for Kean is their Middle States Committee on Higher Education accreditation as well as its nationwide reputation, Arzig says. The Middle States Committee put Kean on warning in July 2011 for unrelated demerits and is expected to rule on whether the accreditation should be amended or revoked in the summer.

The protestors claimed the Farahi controversy might influence Middle States to rule against the school.

Occupy Catskill and the “Wall Street to Main Street” art extravaganza

Now, it turns out, a new phase of Occupy seems about to blossom, just in time for the grand push toward the November elections. And at its vanguard is an artistic event kicking off this Saturday in Catskill as part of that town’s innovative “Masters on Main Street” economic-development-via-the-arts project.

Titled “Wall Street to Main Street” (WS2MS), with a subtitle of “Bringing the Message Home”, the idea behind the influx of commissioned new art from Occupy activists and local artists is designed to link Occupy Wall Street and the world via the idea of the small-town Main Streets that everyone was talking about as our economy started to tank. Specifically, Catskill will serve as a prototype for artist-activated economic development via the same principles used in the Masters on Main program: by drawing a crowd of art-lovers (and -buyers) to a town, inspiring some to purchase buildings and invest in marginalized communities’ revival.

Nation’s Longest Occupation Snatches Victory From Defeat [TN]

Tennessee state troopers dragged Christopher Humphrey from his tent at 4 a.m. Monday morning, ending the longest running Occupy Wall St. encampment in the United States. Or so state officials thought. A new law, passed last month by the Republican-controlled legislature here, prohibits camping on state grounds that are not specifically designated for it. But Humphrey was only evicted, not arrested, and two days later, he was back, wearing his tent and walking around the plaza in front of the War Memorial Building. He got the idea from Occupiers in Melbourne, Australia, who used it to defy similar restrictions there.

Columbia College Changes Elicit “Take Back Our School” Protest

Columbia College students frustrated by proposed cutbacks and what they say amounts to “corporatization” of the downtown college will host a “Take Back Our School” rally 2 p.m. today at 33 E. Congress. According to a press release from Occupy Columbia, the group hopes to “force the College into financial transparency.”

The issue is a potential administrative overhaul dubbed “prioritization.” Inside Higher Ed obtained a list of recommendations released internally by interim provost Louise Love that students and some faculty say threatens the liberal art’s college unique identity. The document, entitled “Blueprint: Prioritization,” examined each department, degree program and many administrative offices. It made recommendations for each, ranging from “increase resources” to “phase out/eliminate.”

Several of those recommendations made waves. Chicago Tribune arts critic Howard Reich was alarmed that the Office of the Provost recommended closing the school’s Chicago Jazz Ensemble and Center for Black Music Research. The document also recommends consolidating smaller departments, like fiction writing, into larger programs, like English.

Iraq War veteran injured during Occupy protest will sue City of Oakland

An attorney representing an Iraq War veteran who was hit in the head with a police projectile during an Occupy Oakland protest last year said he will file a claim against the city Monday seeking monetary damages for injuries suffered by his client.

The claim is a mandatory first step in the eventual filing of a lawsuit against Oakland for injuries Scott Olsen suffered after being shot in the head with a nonlethal projectile during a clash with police.

Olsen’s attorney, Mark Martel, said he will seek “significant” damages against the city in part because of new information that confirmed that Olsen was hit by a beanbag and not a tear-gas canister, as originally believed.

The fact that Olsen was hit by a beanbag, Martel said, shows that the officer who shot the projectile intended to hit Olsen in the head, a violation of the police department’s rules for use of such a nonlethal projectile.

Occupy Oakland protester files lawsuit after being hit by car

Four months after a man was hit by a car during an Occupy protest in Oakland, the driver has not been charged. Now, the protester’s lawyer is pushing police to act.

On November 2, the cellphone video caught Lance Laverdure trying to cross the street during a peaceful demonstration. The man behind the Mercedes inched forward. Laverdure began banging on the hood. That’s when the driver slammed on the gas. Laverdure was injured and so was a woman, Margaret So.

“It’s inexplicable to me why there hasn’t been a charge of an arrest, four months later,” said Carla Minnard.

Minnard is Laverdure’s attorney. Friday she filed a suit against the registered owner of the car, Sara Abu-Nasser, presumably the man’s girlfriend who was in the car at the time of the incident.

Banks face the music as public tunes out

BRITISH politicians visiting Wall Street would once have been only too happy to have their photograph taken with the head of Goldman Sachs. This week in New York, Prime Minister David Cameron met Goldman Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and other bankers in private.

In Europe, and Britain in particular, banks are under intense fire over bonuses and their reluctance to lend. Wall Street’s image has been marred by the Occupy movement and critical reports by regulators and politicians.

Cameron’s meeting came the day after a resignation letter by a Goldman Sachs executive, published in the New York Times, alleged senior staff at the bank called their customers “muppets,” or fools. The allegation will only reinforce the public’s dismal view of the banking sector, said Gordon Beattie, who runs corporate public relations firm Beattie Communications.

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