The OB Media Rundown for 3/23/12

Facing protests from Occupy groups, Southern CA car dealerships pull advertising from Rush Limbaugh show

Toyota Carlsbad, Lexus Carlsbad and Lexus Escondido dealerships have pulled advertising from Rush Limbaugh’s radio show on KOGO-AM 600 – a move that has prompted local groups to cancel a protest they had planned for this weekend.

Occupy Encinitas and Women’s Occupy San Diego were planning to picket outside the Toyota Carlsbad dealership to protest its support of Limbaugh, who they say is guilty of recently using “misogynistic hate speech toward women,” according to a news release from the group.

“Mr. Limbaugh’s misogynistic hate speech toward women was most recently demonstrated in a three-day diatribe disparaging law school student Sandra Fluke; including a demand that Ms. Fluke make and post ‘sex tapes on the internet’ and a characterization of women who use birth control as ‘sluts’ and ‘prostitutes,’” the news release reads.

Federal student loan interest rate set to double

Federal subsidized Stafford loan interest rates are set to increase to 6.8 percent from 3.4 percent  for undergraduate students on July 1.

Western Michigan University Director of Financial Aid Mark Delorey says the federal government increasing rates fits perfectly into a pattern of “eroding support” already displayed.

Occupiers march for Trayvon Martin at “Million Hoodie March”

On Wednesday night, around 5,000 people took to the streets of New York to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old African-American who was killed by a neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, last month. Martin was armed only with a pack of Skittles when Zimmerman shot him, claiming the boy looked “suspicious.” Martin’s crime – the same one committed by Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham and others – appears to have been walking while black. Zimmerman has not been charged in the killing, despite a national outcry.

Organizers of the “Million hoodie march” for Trayvon Martin asked protesters to converge at Manhattan’s Union Square on Wednesday evening wearing hooded sweatshirts, to symbolically highlight the profiling used against non-white youths in hoodies. The plaza, from which Occupy supporters were evicted by police the night before, was once again full of Occupy participants and hundreds of others galvanized by the Trayvon Martin case. Many young, black marchers donned hoodies and held signs reading, “Am I next?”

The myth of freedom in the land of the free

[During the Pullman Strike,] President Grover Cleveland, over the objections of Illinois’ governor, ordered federal troops to Chicago under the pretense of maintaining public safety. Soldiers fired their bayoneted rifles into the crowd of 5,000, killing 13 strike sympathisers. Seven hundred, including [Eugene] Debs, were arrested. Debs wasn’t a socialist before the strike, but he was after. The event radicalised him. “In the gleam of every bayonet and the flash of every rifle,” Debs said later on, “the class struggle was revealed”.

I imagine a similar revelation for the tens of thousands of Americans who participated in last fall’s Occupy Wall Street protests. As you know, the movement began in New York City and spread quickly, inspiring activists in the biggest cities and the smallest hamlets. Outraged by the broken promise of the US and inspired by democratic revolts of Egypt and Tunisia, they assembled to protest economic injustice and corrupt corporate power in Washington.

Homeland Security Goes to College

Campus spies. Pepper spray. SWAT teams. Twitter trackers. Biometrics. Student security consultants. Professors of homeland security studies. Welcome to Repress U, class of 2012.

Since 9/11, the homeland security state has come to campus just as it has come to America’s towns and cities, its places of work and its houses of worship, its public space and its cyberspace. But the age of (in)security had announced its arrival on campus with considerably less fanfare than elsewhere-until, that is, the “less lethal” weapons were unleashed in the fall of 2011.

Today, from the City University of New York to the University of California, students increasingly find themselves on the frontlines, not of a war on terror, but of a war on “radicalism” and “extremism.” Just about everyone from college administrators and educators to law enforcement personnel and corporate executives seems to have enlisted in this war effort. Increasingly, American students are in their sights.

Occupy Movement Seeks Renewed Physical Presence

Sherman Jackson, an Occupy media representative, says confrontations with police over territory draw media focus away from the movement’s core message of corporate greed and income inequality.  Jackson says he defers to those who support a physical presence, but thinks it is not necessary.

“The fact is that we use social media, we use Twitter, we use Facebook, we e-mail, we text one another, and we can muster a couple of thousand people within an hour to gather at any spot that we ask them to gather at,” said Jackson.

Protester and saxophonist Dave Intrator says a physical presence is essential.  He adds that the act of human beings assembling in a public space to talk politics, exchange ideas and to play music has become an exotic luxury.   He claims that peaceful gatherings, though often noisy and messy, threaten corporate interests that see the world in terms of efficiency and profits.

A visit to Occupy Wall Street: This movement is too important to fail

Despite my overall sense of optimism about the long-term prospects for the ideas of Occupy, being there and witnessing the police repression left me feeling angry. I was a  couple blocks away, meeting up with anti-war colleagues from the US and Canada, when we got word that arrests were taking place at Zuccotti. We rushed over and, by the time we got there, it was a tense and volatile scene with hundreds of NYPD officers and barricades to block off the park. There was a lot of anger in the crowd, as people had just witnessed dozens of their friends roughed up and taken away to jail.

Of course, none of this really comes as a surprise. It’s obvious that the Bloomberg administration and other levels of government in both the United States and Canada are determined to use physical and legal repression to stifle the movement. They recognize the resonance of the message, and they rightly sense a threat to their vested 1% interests.

Seeing this reality up close at Zuccotti drove home that this is a young movement under sustained attack. It also renewed my sense of just how irresponsible some on the political left have been in making carping, sectarian critiques of Occupy. We need criticism, but it should be constructive and somewhat humble, since movements for social change rarely spring up where our theories predict them. At the risk of overstating things, some on the left have a tendency to start doing the autopsy when they should be trying to keep the movement alive and helping it to thrive.

Occupy Queens ‘Think Tanks’ Go On The Road

Occupy Queens, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, has been described as a leaderless resistance movement. Its plate of grievances continues to fill – immigrant rights, income inequality and civil liberties abuses are just some of the myriad issues that will arise at any given meeting. At the heart of Occupy Queens, at least currently, is not the word “occupy.” Do not bother trekking to Kissena or Flushing Meadows Corona Park to search for grizzled occupiers.

Look to the mobile think tanks instead – also called The People’s Think Tank – for where Queens’ more subdued Occupy movement is headed. Scheduled to meet every other week, the think tanks are free form, outdoor discussion groups that seek to engage members of the public in an open dialogue. The topics of discussion will be in flux, though Occupy facilitators – they eschew the term “leader” in the spirit of their proud opposition to hierarchical organizations – will guide dialogues. In the instance of the March 10 mobile think tank at the 37th Road Plaza, the topic was the plaza itself.

Race, Gender and Occupy

For the past six months, we have been following the Occupy movement for a two-part documentary on Occupy forFault Lines. We have spent weeks in conversation with activists as they have planned actions and struggled to keep their movement relevant through a cold winter. And organisers have told us repeatedly that they feel thesediscussions around race and gender, far from weakening the movement, have lent it strength and made organising more accountable to the communities most affected by the economic crisis.

The process of challenging structural oppression has been difficult. We spoke to many women and people of colour who felt pushed out of Occupy. Some activists, already bruised by dismissive media coverage, tried not to let these conflicts show. When internal conflicts would arise they tried to not let it happen on camera. But what we did observe are many fiercely intelligent activists dedicated to waging these struggles within Occupy and strengthening the movement with their work.

Philly Mayor Defends Anti-Occupy, Anti-Homeless Feeding Policy

Mayor Michael Nutter called into WHYY’s Radio Times this morning to speak about his administration’s new homeless feeding policy, which has become the object of scorn amongst several groups, including local feeding services and Occupy Philly.
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As has been reported by just about every Philadelphia media outlet, the city’s new homeless feeding policy bans outdoor feeding in all city parks while establishing a new, temporary food distribution location on the City Hall apron. If you want to continue feeding the homeless, you need to acquire a permit and sign up with the Department of Public Property while reserving the days for your activity. Health Commissioner Donald Schwarz claimed the initiative came out of the city observing Occupy Philly serving food to the homeless without a universal standard for food safety.

Occupy Rochester protests death of Florida teen

About 30 people, most members of Occupy Rochester, gathered Thursday at the Liberty Pole in downtown Rochester to protest the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

A pointed message was sent at the peaceful protest, as they chanted: “They don’t care if black kids die. Protect and serve, that’s a lie.”

Activists arrested inside Entergy headquarters in White Plains, NY; Demand closure of Vermont Yankee

What: A group of 5 Vermont anti-nuclear activists calling themselves the Green Mountain Delegation (GMD) were arrested after attempting to occupy the Entergy Nuclear headquarters in White Plains, NY Thursday morning as an act of solidarity with the hundreds of citizens taking similar nonviolent action Thursday back home in Brattleboro, Vermont. Simultaneously another small group of New England activists attempted a similar solidarity move to occupy Entergy’s corporate offices in New Orleans, Louisiana. The GMD will be arraigned for criminal trespassing charges at 2PM at the White Plains City Court in White Plains, NY.

The GMD group in White Plains delivered a 6 point list of demands focused on why the company should close its 40 year old reactor operating in southern Vermont. Entergy executive refused to meet with the group, however the group reached the twelfth floor offices of Entergy Nuclear and read their demands until police arrived and arrested all five of them.

Occupy Confronts Redlands [CA] Council About ‘Hypocrisy’

I am here with Occupy Redland to speak to the [anti-Citizens United] resolution you just heard. Over the last three months we have spoken with various council members about the resolution. We have been given three reasons why our resolution will not be considered by the city council.
What have we been told by the City Council?

Cops smash laptop at Occupy NYC – Apple tech fixes for free

Nassina Ali had a very personal message at an Occupy rally Thursday in New York City. Just an observer the day before, the Brooklyn resident told the Associated Press that she turned activist when police officers smashed her MacBook Pro.
. . .

This isn’t the first time an Occupy participant accused the NYPD of purposely breaking a pricey laptop. During the failed Zuccotti Park raid in November, police officers confiscated laptops as evidence. Protesters said that when they claimed their devices, they found their electronics mangled, suggesting police had been less than gentle in their handling of the computers.

EVICTED! – Wells Fargo is target of symbolic bank ‘foreclosure’ [MD]

Wells Fargo was “evicted” Thursday – symbolically – from its East Baltimore branch on Monument St. by Occupy Baltimore protesters and a Good Jobs Better Baltimore “sheriff” who gathered to serve notice on the banking giant that they would no longer accept what the group called the bank’s “negative effects” on Baltimore and other U.S. cities as an alleged corporate tax dodger and bad actor in the foreclosure crisis and housing market collapse.

Other groups participating in the “eviction” included United Healthcare Workers locals from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Occupy Our Homes: Baltimore, an Occupy Baltimore group which attempts to disrupt the foreclosure of people’s homes.

Occupy activists pitch tents in Oakland park

Occupy Oakland activists have set up a new encampment in a park north of downtown, calling it a response to the recent arrests of protesters in New York and the shooting death of an unarmed Florida teenager.

About a dozen people in six tents spent Wednesday night in Mosswood Park at Broadway and West MacArthur Boulevard. They were still there today.

Israeli protest leaders take new tack in fight for social change

Last summer, Israelis filled the streets to protest the declining standard of living in their country. Among the firebrands leading the charge was 26-year-old journalist Stav Shaffir.

Her youth, good looks and articulate analysis of Israel’s economic problems thrust her into a highly visible leadership position of the J14 movement (named for the July 14 start date of the protests).

Six months after the tent cities folded in Israel, Shaffir and fellow J14 leader and journalist Yonatan Levi, 27, will visit the United States on a speaking tour, including Bay Area appearances March 27 and 28. The title of their address is “The Birth of a New Social Justice Movement in Israel – the Social Movement.”

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