The OB Media Rundown for 4/16/12

Ask Not Who’s Co-Opting You, Ask Whom You Can Co-Opt

In plenty of situations, the Occupy movement has known to stay on the offensive when it comes to co-option, not the defensive. The planning process for May Day in New York is a great example of that. By getting labor and community organizers in on the ground floor, and demanding that they follow Occupy rules, Occupiers have managed to draw these rigidly hierarchical institutions into an anarchist-style spokescouncil meeting format, and they’ve ensured that a massive march of labor and immigrant groups will coincide with the movement’s agitation for a general strike.

As for the 99% Spring. Of course these organizations and their Democratic Party allies would love to take advantage of the movement for their own ends – which include everything from reelecting Barack Obama to victories on environmental and labor issues. Who can blame them for trying? But it’s not like they were training 100,000 in nonviolent direct action last year, or in 2008, or on behalf of John Kerry. They’re doing it because the Wisconsin Uprising, and Tar Sands Action, and Occupy Wall Street all changed their sense of what is politically possible in this country, and they want to get in on it however they can.

Maybe it would be different if the Occupy movement itself were training 100,000 people in direct action right now, too. But it’s not. Tens of thousands people who’ve never done activism or civil disobedience are taking baby steps toward doing so, and Occupy can count that as a big victory – which it needs right now, since many of the occupations themselves have dwindled and most Americans seem to think that the movement is over.

If 25,000 people rally in midtown, is that a story?

Absent the tent communities, shut down when cities barred Occupiers from sleeping in parks, it’s an open question whether most of the press outlets will be willing to provide substantive coverage of the issues raised by the protesters. It will be disappointing but not surprising if major press outlets provide coverage only when there is a police angle – that is, when there are mass arrests or injuries at one of the protests. Without decisions by editors to cover all aspects of protests and not just the arrests, it is likely that, once again, the substance and message of the various actions will be ignored or muffled.

Over the last few months, mainstream news outlets such as The New York Times and Washington Post generally adopted the story line that the Occupy movement was fading. The Times, for example, in its April 1 edition, all but pronounced the movement as being on life support in an article written by Michael S. Schmidt, a national reporter in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Media report: ’99% Spring is the 2012 version of Occupy Wall Street’

When the 2012 version of “Occupy Wall Street” emerges from hibernation, it will be after having been to school.

A coalition of liberal, union, and progressive organizations hoping to capitalize on the success of last year’s Occupy movement held a series of “99% Spring Action Training” sessions in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas Saturday.

Editorial: Europe’s Economic Suicide

This is, not to mince words, just insane. Europe has had several years of experience with harsh austerity programs, and the results are exactly what students of history told you would happen: such programs push depressed economies even deeper into depression. And because investors look at the state of a nation’s economy when assessing its ability to repay debt, austerity programs haven’t even worked as a way to reduce borrowing costs.

Occupy Portland protests Hanford clean-up

Occupy Portland came to the Tri-Cities today to protest Hanford clean-up.

They say it’s a threat to people in the Northwest and that it’s causing nuclear waste to contaminate our water. They call it another Fukushima in our own backyard. The protest organizer, Miriam German, said they’re just sharing the truth.

Occupy Raleigh protesters to return to sidewalk

Members of Occupy Raleigh said they’ll march from their camp in downtown Raleigh to the sidewalk at the Old State Capitol to resume a demonstration for economic justice that began last fall.

Police warn of building takeover ahead of Occupy SF action

Board up your vacant buildings, please.

Police are asking property owners in The City to do whatever it takes to keep members of the Occupy SF movement from squatting.

The global Occupy movement against economic disparity has apparently changed tactics in San Francisco, police say, as rumors swirl about a May 1 takeover of an undisclosed property.

Dems host Occupy Detroit member

The Livonia Democratic Club hosted a member of Occupy Detroit and some members cut up credit cards to protest big banks Thursday night.

A few members of the club also picketed in front of Bank of America on Plymouth Road.

Karl Burnett, vice chair of the 11th District Democrats and president of the Livonia Democratic Club, said he wanted an Occupy Detroit member to discuss the movement with club members, so he invited Tanya Sharon, a retired Detroit Public Schools teacher, to speak with the group that evening.

Activists protest at home of Wells Fargo official [IA]

Saturday’s surprise demonstration at the Urbandale residence of a prominent bank executive seemed to be as much about timing and location as content.

About 200 activists rode five school buses to the home of Michael Heid, the president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. They reiterated a familiar set of concerns they had about the corporation, although the protest was not a stand-alone event.

Man arrested at radical protest associated with Occupy Wall Street

Three men, at least one of which is associated with Occupy Wall Street, tried to smash in the windows of the Starbucks at Astor Place and Lafayette Street at about 8:45 p.m. Saturday.

According to police, the men were part of a larger pack of 25 people who tried to use eight-foot-long galvanized metal pipes to break the windows of the coffee shop. Terrified patrons hid under the tables, scared that glass would fall in on them.

The men attended an anarchist book fair earlier, said police, and took to the streets near Washington Square Park, marching against traffic and chanting, “f… the NYPD”, “cops are murderers,”  and “all pigs must die.”

In Barcelona, Austerity With an Iron Fist

Criminalizing public meetings, expanding police powers and weaponry, and applying anti-terrorist measures to street protests: it sounds like Spain in the Franco years, but all of these measures have been proposed in Spain in just the last couple of weeks. Far from being a throwback to the years of dictatorship, these repressive developments go hand in hand with the current economic crisis. Considering the connection between the 15M plaza occupation movement and the subsequent Occupy movement that spread to several countries around the globe, between the March 29th general strike in Spain and the upcoming May 1st general strike called in the United States, between the brutal austerity measures implemented already a year or two ago by the government in Madrid and the increasing signs of shakiness from more stable EU countries such as France, Spain is, if anything, ahead of the curve.

The repressive trends of the crisis are especially visible in Catalunya, where social movements have been most active in resisting or blocking austerity measures. Hospitals that planners intended to shut down have been occupied and kept in function. In response to fare hikes, neighbors and users have forcibly opened metro stations so everyone can ride for free. Students have seized their universities to protest measures of privatization, and ordinary people have harassed and chased away politicians when they tried to make a public showing. In the month of March, every single family in Barcelona threatened with eviction for not being able to pay their rent or mortgage that sought broader support in order to resist successfully postponed or blocked their eviction.

Italy struggles with crisis-linked suicides

ITALIANS have been taking their own lives at an alarming rate as a result of the economic crisis in recent weeks, forcing a business group to put in place a dedicated psychological assistance network.

Daily media reports have thrown the spotlight on the desperation of small business owners, workers and unemployed people who have lost hope as the economy struggles through recession and unemployment reaches record highs of 9.3 percent.

One of the most shocking cases was the self-immolation last month of a 58-year-old builder in Bologna in central Italy who was under pressure over unpaid taxes. He died of his burns in hospital after nine days.

Austerity plan decapitates Greek heritage

The broken display cases at Greece’s Museum of Olympia, the site where the first Olympic Games were held thousands of years ago, have stunned members of the Archaeological Service who have been registering a stream of missing cultural artefacts.

Despina Koutsoumpa, president of the Association of Greek Archaeologists (SEA), says treasure dating back to the Classical, Hellenistic and Byzantine periods has disappeared from the museum, including “a golden ring stamp, copper sculptures from the eighth century BC, coins and clay vases”.


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