The OB Media Rundown for 3/24/12

Hundreds Rally in Harvard Square for Trayvon Martin, Against Pending State Law That Would Protect Martin’s Killer in Mass

The hundreds of people who rallied in the Harvard Square pit tonight weren’t just there to demand justice for Trayvon Martin. Nor were they merely there to call attention to the atrocity that was unleashed on the state of Florida, where the unarmed 17-year-old Martin was shot and killed last month by George Zimmerman, an overzealous neighborhood watchdog who has yet to be arrested.

The throng of activists and onlookers was also calling attention to an alarming situation in the commonwealth – one that could soon lead to any number of comparable incidents happening right here. It seems there’s a sticky piece of legislation floating in the Massachusetts legislature – Senate Bill 661 – that would protect murderers like Zimmerman.

Occupy Wall Street plans return to spotlight – but in what form?

Demonstrators torn over whether to concentrate on economic inequality or to move towards protesting police brutality.

Occupy Earth: State Of The Environment Fundamentally Linked to Economic Injustice

From New York to St. Louis to Los Angeles, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) will be buzzing with spring activities throughout the United States. One of its many pending actions is to join forces with the environmental movement to launch Earth Month on March 24.

Dubbed “Disrupt Dirty Power,” the environmentally-focused occupy movement will support direct actions around the U.S. and abroad to call for both environmental and economic justice. These actions, according to the website, seek to “evict Wall Street polluters,” focusing on “dirty banks, big oil, big coal, fracking, uranium.” It claims that “the climate can’t wait and neither can we.” Initiated by an OWS affinity group called 99forEarth, the effort has been joined by various environmental groups.

OWS Activist Cecily McMillan Describes Seizure, Bodily Injuries in Arrest by NYPD

Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan suffered a seizure when New York City police officers pulled her from the crowd and arrested her as hundreds attempted to re-occupy Zuccotti Park on Saturday to mark six months since the launch of the movement. In her first interview since her arrest, McMillan says she has decided to speak out because of an outpouring of public support. “I have received so many emails and twitters and messages and phone calls, and people [are] just really horrified about what happened to me.” McMillan has a black eye, and her body is covered in bruises, at least one in the shape of a handprint. She says she was not allowed to contact an attorney while she was taken to the hospital and transferred to a jail cell along with some of the 72 other detained protesters. Facing charges of police assault and obstructing governmental administration, she was released Monday after a judge denied a request that her bail be set at $20,000.

MIT Economist: Income Inequality In The U.S. Is Crushing The Middle Class’ Political Power

the more pernicious effect of economic inequality comes indirectly through its impact on political inequality. it’s a general pattern throughout history, and we see around today, that when economic inequality increases, the people who have become economically more powerful will often attempt to use that power in order to gain even more political power. And once they are able to monopolize political power, they will start using that for changing the rules in their favor. And that sort of political inequality is the real danger that’s facing the United States.

Twitter sticks together with OWS protesters

Twitter Inc. refuses to give out information on Jeffrey Rae, a prominent OWS protester whose on-the-ground Twitter reporting is followed by thousands. Activists under police scrutiny say a political witch hunt has begun on behalf of “the 1 per cent”.

The microblogging service Twitter says it will not comply with the request two weeks ago by the New York District Attorney to hand over data about an Occupy Wall Street protester. Jeffrey Rae was among more than 700 activists arrested during a Brooklyn Bridge march in New York on October 1 last year.

Conversation on general strikes

2011 was the year ‘general strike’ reentered the vocaboulary of American social movements. Wisconsin planted the seed, Oakland attempted to pull one off and now large segments of the Occupy movement are organizing for a May 1st general strike. But what is a general strike? What have they looked like in American history? What about in other places? Is Occupy’s usage of the term accurate? Does it matter?

‘Occupy’ as a business model: The emerging open-source civilization

Occupy Wall Street set up working groups to find solutions to their physical needs. The economy was considered as a provisioning system (as explained in Marvin Brown’s wonderful book, Civilising the Economy), and it was the “citizens”, organised in these working groups, who decided which provisioning system was appropriate given their ethical values.

For example, organic farmers from Vermont provided free food to the campers, but this had a negative side effect: the local street vendors, generally poor immigrants, did not fare too well with everyone getting free food. The occupiers cared about the vendors and so they set up an Occupy Wall Street Vendor Project, which raised funds to buy food from the vendors.

Bingo: in one swoop, OWS created a well-functioning ethical economy that included a market dynamic, but that also functioned in harmony with the value system of the occupiers. What is crucial here is that it was the citizens who decided on the most appropriate provisioning system – and not the property and money owners in an economy divorced from ethical values.

For Long-Term Unemployed, Hiring Bias Rears Its Head

Few job seekers who fail to get an interview know the reason, but Michelle Chesney-Offutt said a recruiter told her why she lost the chance to pitch for an information technology position.

The 54-year-old, who had been laid off from her IT job in Illinois, said the recruiter who responded to her online resume two years ago liked her qualifications and was set to schedule an interview. But he backed away, she said, when he learned she had been out of work for 13 months.

The employer he represented would not consider applicants who were unemployed for more than six months, she said.

Muffled protesters continue rallies [CT]

The 30 or so protestors gathered in the South End Thursday came armed only with their voices, pickets and laminated cards listing their chants.

It was the first protest since the Stamford Police Department began cracking down on noise from the weekly demonstrations organized by Local 210 of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, which has staged protests just outside the 101 Park Place apartment complex on Washington Boulevard for the past two months.

‘We’ll Fight This To The Death’: The Vicious Capitol Hill Battle Between Banks and Credit Unions

To most folks, community banks and credit unions are indistinguishable. Both are often viewed as good-guy alternatives to Wall Street banks, eschewing the too-big-to-fail crowd’s phantom, subprime profits in favor of safe, consumer-friendly products. After the 2008 financial crash, that strategy allowed them to reap financial rewards and reputational halos. The “Move Your Money” movement and Bank Transfer Day shifted billions of dollars worth of business from Wall Street to these small lenders.

But community banks and credit unions each operate under different government charters and regulatory regimes. They compete for the same good-guy customer base, and are openly hostile with each other on Capitol Hill. Their mutual animosity is frequently unmoored from profit margins and bottom lines, a passionate conflict that at times seems like a Washington version of the Hatfields and McCoys.

Report: NYPD Spied on Liberal Organizations

According to new reporting from the Associated Press, the NYPD hasn’t just been spying on Muslims, they’ve also been keeping a close eye on liberal groups under the aegis of counterterrorism. The department’s Intelligence Division has kept a file on certain activists,  including journalist Jordan Flaherty, who is active in pro-Palestinean causes, and labor organizer Marisa Franco, who works primarily on behalf of nannies and housekeepers – hardly a terrorist hotbed.

Undercover officers have attended group meetings and rallies for various organizations, targeting those that, according to internal documents, were active on topics like “immigration policy, labor laws and racial profiling.” (Profiling is, of course, one of the major reasons why the NYPD’s clandestine counterterrorism efforts have been so controversial.) The practices are similar to those the department engaged in before the 2004 Republican National Convention – there’s still an ongoing civil rights case over the handling of protests that event – but there’s no event this time that provides a particular raison d’être.

Occupy Des Moines protests online schools

But the largely Occupy Des Moines crowd seemed to have a particular distaste for a provision in the current education reform bill, which has passed the Iowa House, that allows state funding to be directed toward online education provided by private companies.

Often, that message intersected with the group’s previous efforts.

“Schools build strong democracies,” said Andrew Rasmussen, who has taught for 17 years at Callanan Middle School in Des Moines and is secretary of the local teachers union. “They are not meant to build a strong bottom line for Wall Street.”

New Haven Occupiers Help Victim of Assault

Michael Farrington, of Cheshire, is recovering after being attacked in New Haven last weekend. According to Farrington, 24, he was walking down College Street around 2 a.m. Sunday and exchanged words with a group. Two of the men then started beating him up. It happened on the sidewalk near the Occupy New Haven campsite.

“I heard some commotion over by the gate, so I jumped over the wall and I saw Michael laying on the ground getting punched in the face and kicked in the head by two assailants,” said Josh Heltke, one of the Occupiers who rushed to Farrington’s aid.

Josh Heltke ran over and pushed the men off Farrington, then followed them down the road. Danielle DiGirolamo, another Occupier, ran to help.

‘Nonpartisan’ think tank associated with US neo-liberals hosts conference promoting idea that the European welfare state won’t survive

The European model of a welfare state will become a thing of the past as austerity bites further into the budgets of governments due to the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone – it was claimed at the Brussels Forum , hosted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States think-tank. The conference also heard that it was unreasonable for member states to expect the rest of the world to converge on European Union standards at a time when the continent was in economic decline.

Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies non-governmental organisation Ivan Krastev warned: “What we are seeing as a result of the economic crisis is a dismantling of the welfare states. We are not in the world to make it into a European Union anymore; we don’t have the capacity for that as the austerity state is going to be here for some time. In places like China, you can change policies but not governments whereas in Europe now you can change governments but not policies. The world in 10 years is not going to be a version of the EU so now we can start to get interested in other countries. We should be curious about the world again rather than going to places and waiting for them to become more European – we should try to learn from others.” Backing him, German MEP Alexander Graf – also president of the European Liberal Forum – said: “In Europe – we have financed election wins by financing promises we cannot afford through debt, but that is ending now.”

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