The OB Media Rundown for 4/14/12

T to raise fares, trim Green Line

The MBTA plans an overall 23 percent fare increase and will eliminate weekend Green Line streetcar service between Brigham Circle and Heath Street, following months of controversy about the T’s sorry financial state.

The T also will kill the Route 48 “JP Loop” bus that serves the 125 Amory Street residence for seniors and people with disabilities.

Occupy the MBTA Creates “Camp Charlie” on State House Steps to Protest T Fare Hikes, Service Cuts

Since the fall of the Occupy Camp at Dewey Square, which held for 71 days in the shadow of the Boston Federal Reserve building outside of the doors of South Station, a contingent of activists and community members have focused their energy and planning on the debt and budgeting controversy surrounding the MBTA. An offshoot of Occupy Boston called Occupy the MBTA staged demonstrations and organized canvasing missions in which activists and community members rode the subway. Handing out literature and engaging other riders on the impending proposed band-aid solutions, layoffs, service cuts, fare increases, and further debt shuffling to come – as “austerity” apparently becomes more than just a buzz word, but its application.

On Wednesday, April 4th, the MBTA’s Board of Directors voted to adopt a plan dubbed the “third scenario” to close their $161 million deficit in their $1.7 billion annual operating budget for 2013; including service cuts and a 23% average fare increase which many feel affect those in the lower income bracket, students, and elderly at a disproportionally higher rate than other riders with deeper pockets.

Jesse Jackson urges support for protest at NATO summit

On April 11, the Reverend Jesse Jackson announced his support for the May 20 protest march against the NATO summit in Chicago. Jackson made the announcement on the public radio station WBEZ.

Five days earlier, Occupy Chicago held its much awaited return to street protests. Jackson spoke, and it was at that a gathering of 1000 people that he first stated his plan to march.

Jackson said, “We have spent $3 trillion on war in the past decade. That’s enough to pay off all state debts, to re-open schools, pay teachers, firefighters and transit workers. ”

Mumia Abu-Jamal’s First Interview Off Death Row, Says OWS a ‘Damn Good Beginning’

In his first interview since being taken off death row, Mumia Abu-Jamal spoke with Russian Television on April 11. In the wide-ranging interview, Jamal speaks of what it’s been like spending more than half his life on death row, where in the world he’d like to visit and the Occupy Wall Street Movement – which he says, if it wants to make a real impact on American society, has “to be deeper, has to be broader [and] it has to address issues that are touching on the lives or poor and working class people…I think it’s a damn good beginning.”

Debt default in the US: ‘Freeing economy from illusion may be a traumatic event’

A common denominator runs throughout recorded history: a rising proportion of debts cannot be paid. Adam Smith remarked that no government ever had repaid its debt, and today the same can be said of the overall volume of private-sector debt. One way or another, there will be defaults – unless debts are paid in an illusory fashion, simply by adding the interest charges onto the debt balance until the sums finally grow to so fictitious a magnitude that the illusion of viability has to be dropped.

But freeing an economy from illusion may be a traumatic event. The great policy question therefore concerns just how the various types of debts won’t be paid. The choice is between forfeiting property to foreclosing creditors, or writing debts down at least to the ability to pay, and possibly all the way down to make a fresh start. Somebody must lose, and their loss will appear on the other side of the balance sheet as another party’s gain. Debtors lose when they have to forfeit their property or cut back other spending pay their debts. Creditors lose when the debts are written down or go bad.

The balance of gains and losses in such foreclosures depends – in narrow accounting terms – on the value of collateral being transferred. But from an economy-wide perspective the resolution of a debt overhead needs to be looked at as a long-term dynamic. Any such analysis turns on the role of specific classes of debtors and creditors within the economy – the 99% and the 1%, the “real” economy and the financial sector. It is not simply a matter of what contracts say (“A debt is a debt, and all debts must be paid.”) The effect of debt on the economy’s overall cost structure is most important – including the international dimension cited earlier with regard to the extent to which debt service and debt-leveraged housing prices and other output increase the cost of living and doing business.

Debate: Occupy Wall Street vs Spring99% Co-optation?

There is a debate going on right now within certain progressive activist circles and communities around the country. It’s a debate generally between Occupy Wall Street activists and supporters with those individuals and groups that have coalesced around a loose network called Spring99%.
There are accusations from Occupy folks that Spring99% is trying to co-opt the OWS movement.  That MoveOn is a front for the Democratic Party. And there are denials both from activists within the Spring99% network and members of the Occupy movement itself. It is a needed debate, even though it’s probably under the radar for many progressives and irrelevant for mainstream politics – except for the accusations that Spring99% is a front for the Obama re-election campaign. Meanwhile, paranoia of being co-opted has been a mainstay within the anti-Wall Street movement for months.
Here are half a dozen or so articles from various sources that either address or explain two of the sides of this debate. Following these articles, is another piece about local trainings and a link to sign-up: [follow link]

Media report: 99%Spring is the ‘heir’ of the Occupy movement

Occupy Wall Street encampments have been swept away in most cities, but their rationales live on in the “99 Percent Spring.” That’s the new shorthand for Occupy’s heir – an ongoing protest movement that covers a range of issues and actions.

Yes, the 99% Spring is a Fraud

With hindsight gained by googling “MoveOn” and “co-opt” after the fact, I can’t claim that nobody tried to warn me. Many websites with left and even liberal politics had said in so many words, “Be wary of this organization called The 99% Spring. It is a Trojan horse for the Democrats.” I just didn’t read that anywhere in a timely fashion. I’ve had a lot of stuff on my plate lately. That’s my excuse. And in my ignorance, I responded to some spam about “nonviolent direct action training” organized by MoveOn and got invited to this 99% Spring thing on April 10 at the Goddard Riverside Community Center in Manhattan. Somebody even called me all the way from San Francisco to make sure I was a sincere seeker on the left and would be attending, along with 120,000 others in training sessions around the country.

Which I did. The meeting was a few blocks from where I live. The spam said it was “inspired by Occupy Wall Street.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I was vaguely hoping that whatever The 99% Spring was, it would start a chapter of Occupy Wall Street on the Upper West Side, conveniently near my abode, and agitate for the Democrats and MoveOn to move left.

The first clue that my evening might go otherwise was the sign-up table, where there were a bunch of Obama buttons for sale and one sign-up sheet for the oddly named Community Free Democrats (are they free of community?), which is the local Democratic clubhouse. That killed the “inspired by Occupy Wall Street” vibe right there. No piles of literature from a zillion different groups, as there had been in Zuccotti Park. No animated arguments among Marxists, anarchists, progressives, punks, engaged Buddhists, anti-war libertarians and what have you. Just Obama buttons, which didn’t appear to be selling.

Religious Leaders Slam Ryan For Using Catholic Faith To Justify Cutting Programs That Help The Poor

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) told Christian Broadcast Network earlier this week that the House GOP’s budget, which he wrote, was driven by his Catholic faith. “A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private,” Ryan said, and Catholic principles are what led him to cut programs for the poor so as to keep people from becoming “dependent on government.”

As ThinkProgress noted Tuesday, Ryan’s budget seems to ignore Catholic social teaching that calls for protecting the poor and improving access to food, jobs, health care, housing, and the social safety net. And now religious leaders are making the same case. The founder of the PICO National Network, the largest national coalition of religious congregations, slammed Ryan’s claim of adherence to Catholic teaching as “the height of hypocrisy” in a release circulated Wednesday:

“It’s the height of hypocrisy for Rep. Ryan to claim that his approach to the budget is shaped by Catholic teaching and values,” said Fr. John Baumann, S.J., founder of PICO National Network. [...] “A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first.”

Editorial: ‘Daddy, Where Do Taxes Come From?’

Well, I’ll tell you where taxes come from in other countries, OK? They come from the idea that if we all pool our resources we can better acquire things like schools, hospitals, parks, trains, you know, things that belong to everybody.

But what about our country?

Taxpayers would have to pay $426 to make up for tax haven abuse, small businesses $2,116

April 12, Washington, DC – With Tax Day approaching, a new U.S. PIRG report found the average tax filer in 2011 would have to pay $426 to make up for revenue lost from corporations and wealthy individuals shifting income to offshore tax havens. The report additionally found that if they were to cover the cost of the corporate abuse of tax havens in 2011, the average American small business would have to pay $2,116.

“When corporations shirk their tax burden by shifting profits legitimately made in the U.S. to offshore tax havens like the Caymans, the rest of us must pick up the tab through either cuts to public spending priorities, higher taxes, or more debt,” said Dan Smith, Tax and Budget Associate for U.S. PIRG and one of the report’s co-authors. “Responsible small businesses are further hurt by corporate tax dodging because they are put at a competitive disadvantage since they can’t hire armies of well paid lawyers and accountants to use offshore tax loopholes.”
. . .

“Taxes are not just numbers in spreadsheets,” said Joseph Rotella, owner of Spencer Organ Company in Waltham, Massachusetts, and who spoke at the event. “Taxes provide the revenues that pay for roads, bridges, public safety, public schools, public transportation and other infrastructure and services my business and my customers count on. We need to stop the tax haven abuse that lets big corporations avoid paying their fair share and gives them an unfair advantage in the marketplace.”

Close the flood gates of speculative capital flows

The IMF’s own work has shown  that cross-border financial flows have been flooding stock and bond markets in developing countries and raising the value of many currencies as well. Indeed, in the current climate, speculating on the poor seems like a no-brainer for many global investors.
. . .

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has referred to these unstable capital flows as a “liquidity tsunami”. The initial waves in part triggered an over 40 per cent appreciation of the Brazilian real and started asset bubbles in the country.

Exporters and their workers alike began losing competitiveness and jobs and demanded change. Late in 2011, there was capital flight when the storms gathered over Europe, but the tsunami is gathering pace and bubbling in Brazil once again.

Brazil has reacted aggressively by putting in place regulations on speculative capital entering the country. On numerous occasions, it has levied taxes on stock and bond trading, and derivatives as well. Brazil has not been alone in taking such action. Argentina, Costa Rica, Indonesia, South Korea, Peru, Taiwan and many others have as well.

Forget Occupy, Even the Traders are Protesting Now

Mom and Pop have developed a pretty deep mistrust of the market, and after seeing their nest eggs ripped apart twice in the space of ten years, who can blame them? But the when market insiders themselves start bailing, you know there’s something big going on here.

The latest row came this morning in the obscure arena of eurodollar-futures trading pits at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, when a group of traders just flat-out stopped trading to protest a private trade they claimed was unfair.

Top Financiers Expose Fissures Among the 1%

In recent weeks several big finance insiders have publicly exposed fault lines in the U.S. financial system. Their inside views are telling us that the corruption we see is real and, more importantly, those in the system know it.

Financiers that break from the corruption of gluttonous greed can become the conscience of a sector that seems to have no conscience. Let’s hope their courage is contagious and others follow their lead.  We need a revolt from inside big finance that will help radically transform finance from greed to generosity, from gluttony to moderation and from selfishness to community benevolence.

DNC protesters still battling with Charlotte over permits

A coalition of about 60 local and national organizations that represents workers, students, immigrants, unions and homeowners announced about 10,000 of its members will demonstrate at the Democratic National Convention. There’s just one problem: The city hasn’t given it permission.

But it better, said Elena Everett, a member of Occupy Durham and co-chairwoman of the Coalition to Protest at the DNC’s legal and permits unit. Otherwise, it’s taking the city to court.

Everett and about a dozen coalition members, some of whom came from as far away as Wisconsin, convened mostly for reporters in front of the Bank of America Stadium in Uptown Friday afternoon for its announcement.

Save Our Clinics: Chicago Activists Occupy to Save Mental Health Services

In the latest of a series of small but powerful overnight occupations, activists in Chicago barricaded themselves inside Woodlawn Clinic in the Englewood neighborhood late on Thursday afternoon in protest at its closure along with five other mental health clinics. The closures are part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2012 budget, and will cut the number of mental health clinics in the city by half.

S.F. bank branches could be subjected to chain ordinance

San Francisco has long been wary of chain stores, which neighborhood activists say detract from The City’s unique character. But bank branches were left out of a 2006 ordinance that subjects other chains to special “conditional use” approval from the planning commission.

That is a loophole that some neighborhood groups and city supervisors would like to close. They came a step closer to doing so on Thursday, when the Planning Commission voted in favor of an amendment to the 2006 ordinance that would classify financial services companies with more than 11 locations as “formula retail.”

“This is not a ban, it just basically gives neighborhoods more of a say,” said Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the amendment. “We have seen a number of different bank branches sprout up very quickly without any process.”

City hides Occupy Louisville from the 1%

The protesters at the Occupy Louisville encampment overcame cold winter nights, torrential rains and a tornado, the insults of thugs, the assaults of drunks, infighting and disorganization, property theft, the fickleness of the public’s attention span and, early on, sprinklers being turned on them in the middle of the night as they slept. What they could not withstand, was Louisville’s annual invasion of the 1% for the Kentucky Derby.

It was no accident that the city ran out of permits, appeals, and patience just weeks before the private jets of the 1% made their annual pilgrimage to flyover country for the Kentucky Derby. Offending the tender sensibilities of the 1% with the sight of homeless people or [gasp!] the little tent city that has become a national symbol of what the 1% has left for the other 99%, was simply too much to ask.

Judge Orders Former Marine Out of Riverside Home

A former Marine whose foreclosure case made headlines and support of the Occupy movement lost the battle to keep his home on Friday when a Riverside judge ordered him to move out in five days.

Foreclosure Horror Story: Woman, Daughter With Cerebral Palsy Evicted

It’s just so rare that you see the morality of this issue put in such clear terms. “Banks got bailed out, we got left out” is a familiar phrase at rallies, but not typically in major newspapers. I guess throwing a woman with a severe case of cerebral palsy out of her home will do that.

The details are familiar. Bank of America’s servicing arm had the homeowner in a trial modification for 13 months, but they pursued foreclosure at the same time, and they eventually just sold the house out from under her, at a significant loss, rather than working out a payment plan for a borrower who had paid the mortgage faithfully for 20 years. BofA disputes the claim, but the author, Gale Holland, rightly says with the appropriate amount of skepticism that the public record shows that banks lie about foreclosures and commit them in an illegal fashion as a matter of practice.

Judge: Orlando violated chalk protester’s free-speech rights

Orlando police violated an Occupy Orlando demonstrator’s free-speech rights by arresting him for writing protest messages in chalk on the plaza in front of City Hall, a federal judge ruled Friday.

In his 10-page ruling, U.S. District Magistrate Judge David A. Baker wrote that protester Timothy Osmar was clearly protected by the First Amendment when he scrawled the political messages – particularly in a public plaza. The ruling leaves the city on the hook to pay as-yet-undetermined damages and attorneys’ fees.

Osmar, who is homeless, was twice arrested in December for violating a city ordinance that prohibits “writing or painting advertising matter on streets or sidewalks.”

Occupy prepares for Night 4 in Santa Ana Civic Center

A group of Occupy Santa Ana activists spent a third, “lovely” night Thursday in the Civic Center, where they’re planning to sleep for seven consecutive nights to call attention to the needs of the homeless for emergency shelter.

About five Occupy members were joined by 11 homeless people at what’s called “Necessity Village” in the Civic Center, off Ross Street.

Canada Crime Bill C10 hunger striker concerned about Parliament’s silent treatment 

Today is Day 31 of my  indefinite hunger strike against Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new draconian crime law, deceptively christened “Safe Streets and Communities Act”, formerly crime Bill C10. I’m an Occupy Ottawa activist and progressive political blogger. I started my hunger strike on March 14. I have lost 21 pounds since I started the peaceful protest. I want to thank all of you around Canada and the world for your continuing support. Please be assured that my life is not in danger.

‘Occupy’: we’re living the Cyprus solution

THE CYPRUS problem has been solved.  At least, for a small group of individuals who made the buffer zone their physical and ideological home the last five months it has.

Despite being surrounded by three armies and three sets of police, the UN included, who want them out,  a group of people of all ages, from across the island and beyond, has broken free from the chains of the perennial ‘problem’ by simply living the solution.

“For us, the Cyprus problem ended when we all met here and created this space in the buffer zone,” said Kostis, 44, a member of the Occupy Buffer Zone Movement.

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