The OB Media Rundown for 4/21/12

Rally to protest Boston Museum of Fine Arts’ effort to break its guard union

[Message] “The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is seriously considering OUTSOURCING our guard union. Some have been working there for 10-20-30 years. We would lose our status as museum employees and would be forced to apply for our jobs to an outside contractor with a bad reputation. (IF WE GET RE-HIRED) The museum would have non-union workers doing our union jobs! Let’s give the top 1% our 100% effort in stopping these attacks!”

Saturday, April 21 from noon to 2 pm at the Huntington Ave. sidewalk in front of MFA. Weather Partly Sunny, Low 70′s.

Faith-identified Occupiers prepare to support May First strike

Episcopalians and other people of faith have supported the movement from the beginning. Harvard doctoral candidate Marisa Egerstrom organized a group called Protest Chaplains that participated in the launch at Zuccotti Park and has supported Occupy Boston. In New York, Episcopal clergy, including Diocese of Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano and those arrested Dec. 17, spent time with occupiers at Zuccotti Park and have been involved with Occupy Faith NYC.

In late March, Occupy Faith members from across the country – including Merz, Sniffen and Egerstrom – attended a national planning meeting in Oakland, California, where members of various religious groups had maintained an “Interfaith Tent” at Occupy Oakland and 14 were arrested in November after refusing to evacuate that encampment.

The Oakland meeting included discussion about national coordination and actions, including what will happen May 1 and a push for a commission on debt and debt culture – “something along the lines of a truth commission around wealth and debt” – Merz said. But it also showed the challenges of a national strategy for a diverse movement.

‘Extrajudicial punishment’: FBI Seizes Server from May First Internet service provider

In an attack on our infrastructure, our movement and the democratic Internet, the FBI seized a server yesterday from one of our cabinets in a colocation facility.

The server is owned by our sister organization, Riseup, and is managed by ECN, a progressive technology provider in Italy.

While the seizure of any equipment is pernicious and damaging, the pointlessness of this seizure suggests an inclination toward extrajudicial punishment and an attempted crackdown on the very possibility of anonymous speech online.

[BREAKING] Feds Stand Ground Against NYPD for 1st Amend at Wall Street

At 5 pm the protesters were given a new set of rules just created by which they were told they needed to abide in order to remain.  These rules included limiting the size of the signs the protesters held – which included a larger yellow banner with black letters spelling “Occupy Wall Street” that was raised each morning after the steps were power washed.

The NYPD threatened them with arrest but Federal Park Police informed them of the rights of the protesters to remain.  Then the NYPD shut down Wall Street and cut-off hundreds of marchers and pedestrians from twenty-five protesters who stood their ground (the rules stating only 25 were allowed on the steps) at Federal Hall.

What you see right now is the stalemate that has followed.  The streets were opened back up to pedestrian traffic about an hour ago.  A massive entourage of NYPD officers including SWAT and Counterterrorism Unit members remains mobilized outside of the NY Stock Exchange which is adjacent to Federal Hall.

Getting Paid 93 Cents a Day in America? Corporations Bring Back the 19th Century

Prisoners, whose ranks increasingly consist of those for whom the legitimate economy has found no use, now make up a virtual brigade within the reserve army of the unemployed whose ranks have ballooned along with the U.S. incarceration rate.  The Corrections Corporation of America and G4S (formerly Wackenhut), two prison privatizers, sell inmate labor at subminimum wages to Fortune 500 corporations like Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T, and IBM.

These companies can, in most states, lease factories in prisons or prisoners to work on the outside.  All told, nearly a million prisoners are now making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses, or manufacturing textiles, shoes, and clothing, while getting paid somewhere between 93 cents and $4.73 per day.

Vatican orders crackdown on US nun association

The Vatican orthodoxy watchdog announced Wednesday a full-scale overhaul of the largest umbrella group for nuns in the United States, accusing the group of taking positions that undermine Roman Catholic teaching on the priesthood and homosexuality while promoting “certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

An American archbishop was appointed to oversee reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which will include rewriting the group’s statutes, reviewing all its plans and programs — including approving speakers — and ensuring the organization properly follows Catholic prayer and ritual.
. . .

When the Vatican-ordered inquiry was initially announced, many religious sisters and their supporters said the investigation reflected church officials’ misogyny and was an insult to religious sisters, who run hospitals, teach, and play other vital service roles in the church. Conservative Catholics, however, have long complained that the majority of sisters in the U.S. have grown too liberal and flout church teaching.

The instructive timing of the crackdown on nuns

There were two Santa Maria! stories out of the Vatican this week. First, the bad news: The ultra-traditionalists of Marcel Lefebvre’s Society of St. Pius X are another step closer to being welcomed back into the fold – though church fathers have yet to sort out the problem of the dissident group’s Holocaust denying Bishop Richard Williamson, whose excommunication Pope Benedict XVI lifted two years ago.

Then there was the even worse news, by my votive lights, that the Vatican is cracking down on American nuns – who as one of my fellow Catholics noted over a cup of unconsecrated wine last night, “Only do what Jesus told us to do,” in their hospitals, schools and orphanages, “so no wonder they’re in trouble.”
. . .

Maybe timing isn’t everything, but the juxtaposition of these two announcements on the same day was perfect. If, that is, the intent was to send the message that while schisms may come and go, feminism won’t be tolerated. Or that a man who says, as Williamson did, that history is “hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed” will be waved back in, but women accused of dissent can leave if they like.

Farm bill cuts would hit food stamps

The GOP-majority on the House Agriculture Committee voted to cut $33 billion over 10 years from funding for food stamps for the nation’s poorest families. Despite the fact that food stamp cuts mean less money for farmers, Rep. Rick Berg (R-ND) cheered the vote as “a great day for North Dakota agriculture.”

Bi-Partisan Vermont Senate Calls for Amendment to End ‘Corporate Personhood’; Obama Should Too

by a bi-partisan vote of 26-3, the Vermont state Senate passed a resolution “calling for an amendment to the [U.S.] Constitution that corporations are not people and money is not speech and can be regulated in political campaigns” according to advocacy group, Move to Amend.

A majority of Senate Republicans joined with all of the Democrats in voting to approve the measure. The three nay votes came from Republicans after similar resolutions were passed in March by 64 different communities in Vermont.

Move to Amend observed that the Green Mountain State’s Senate resolution goes much further than similar resolutions passed in Hawaii and New Mexico, which sought only to overturn the infamous U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission [PDF]. (The CA State Assembly also passed a resolution last month to overturn Citizens United).

Get Ready for More Credit Union Deposits as Anti-Bank Rallies Loom, Chicago Activist Says

Starting next week, credit unions ought to be ready for a new round of “bank transfer” deposits resulting from the activist movement hitting bank shareholder meetings, the head of a Chicago grassroots coalition said Friday.
“We’ve always pulled for a long time for credit unions to get a bigger market share and now I think you will see that happen with thousands expected to show up starting first at Wells Fargo and then at Bank of America in Charlotte,” said George Goehl, executive director of National People’s Action.
The leader of the decades-old Chicago neighborhood activist group was referring to protesters from National People’s Action and other Occupy-like organizations, convening first in San Francisco on Tuesday and then later in North Carolina to vent anger as part of a big bank boycott.

For Capitalism to Survive, Crime Must Not Pay

When unequal justice prevails, the party that does not need to follow the law has a distinct competitive advantage. A corporation that knowingly breaks the law will find ways to profit through illegal means that are not available to competitors. As a consequence, the competitive playing field is biased toward the company that does not need to follow the rules.

The net result of unequal justice is likely to be the destruction of the overall wealth of our society. I don’t mean the wealth of individuals; I mean the total wealth of goods and services that are the benefits of healthy competition. To the extent that unequal justice prevails, entities that are exempt from the laws will, in all likelihood, be more profitable than law abiding competitors. Then they use their profits to further weaken competitors by using their illegal profits to further build their businesses at the expense of competitors. All of this business building activity is based on a foundation of sand, and ultimately the entire industry – or even the larger economy – becomes distorted. The “rogue” company gains power, changes markets, and destroys direct and indirect competitors because it is playing by different rules.

Rewriting the Rules of the Global Economy: Creating Economics That Improve People’s Lives

Ask just about anyone about the “99%” these days and, regardless of how they feel about the Occupy movement, they’ll probably acknowledge the increasing concentration of wealth and power that the past few decades have brought. Occupy has successfully propelled issues of inequality and corporate control to mainstream consciousness, here in the belly of the beast, in the nation that has been pivotal to defining the world economic system.

The current popular US dissent over the extreme concentration of wealth and the marginalization of the voices of the majority has long precursors in US social movements. The farmers’ movements of the 1870s, the populist movement of the 1890s, the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) and other militant labor unions from the dawn of the 20th Century through the 1950s, the civil rights and Black, Chicano, and Native nationalist movements from the 1960s on, and many other social movements… all have been rooted in calls for a more equitable division of power and economic resources. Parallel struggles, in many different forms, have occurred throughout the world.

Hacktivists in the frontline battle for the internet

If there is a battle over the future shape of the internet – and society as a whole – then hacktivist groups such as Anonymous and Lulzsec, Wikileaks and the file-sharing site are among the frontline battalions.
While the individual incidents and clashes involving these groups may seem disparate and unconnected, those at the core of online activism say all these organisations, plus relatively mainstream movements such as Occupy and the Pirate Party, are linked.

“What unites these groups is the belief that the future is not about vertical, hierarchical government, but horizontal [peer-to-peer] government,” he said. “This pits the forces of the information age against those of the industrial age, as we move from scarcity of information to abundance. The last year has established our ability to have revolutions, but not to govern in their wake – but that’s coming.

Wells Fargo braces for contentious annual meeting

Wells Fargo will face one of its most contentious annual meetings in years when shareholders gather April 24 across from the bank’s San Francisco headquarters.

Occupy protesters say they plan two days of protest tied to the annual meeting, including a gathering a few hours before the meeting at San Francisco’s Justin Herman Plaza and a march to the annual meeting that starts at 1 p.m. One building manager in downtown San Francisco says the city’s police are suggesting businesses close for a half hour as protestors march by on their way to the annual meeting.

Occupy Tries A New Tack: Legal Protest [NY]

Occupy backers say they will stage an official comeback with their call for a national general strike on May 1, a traditional day of left-leaning rallies and demonstrations, which they have billed as a “Day Without the 99%.”

This time, however, there is a notable exception: The protest will be legal.

In a nod toward the needs of its more mainstream allies, especially labor unions, Occupy organizers agreed to obtain a city permit for the march from Union Square to Battery Park. The permit was secured by Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents city subway and bus workers.

Occupiers occupy court to interrupt foreclosure auctions [NY]

Police arrested 37 Occupy Wall Street-affiliated protesters who stormed the Kings County Supreme Court on Thursday in an attempt to disrupt foreclosure auctions.

More than 100 protesters converged on the regal court on Adams Street at around 2:30 pm, singing loudly in hopes of interfering with court proceedings they consider unfair to homeowners.

“We are calling for a moratorium on all foreclosures until some accountable and equitable process is developed,” said Walter Hergt, a protest planner of with the group Organizing for Occupation. “The fact that the banks were bailed out – we find that to be unacceptable.”

Occupy Houston to strike on May Day

May 1st (May Day) Occupy Houston plans a general strike in concert with strikes around the world to protest education cuts, juvenile detention center expansions, police harassment and recent murders.

Occupy Houston is urging people to skip school and work to participate in the strike, which they hope will slow the “global circulation of capital”. The group has specifically called on unorganized labor, college students, undocumented and unemployed to take to the streets in a day of “generalized rebellion”.

Occupy Plans Golden Gate Bridge Shutdown

On May 1, Occupy plans to shut down the Golden Gate Bridge, according to SF Weekly. A daylong action leading to the occupation of the highway span connecting San Francisco and Marin counties during the morning commute hours will begin at 6 a.m., and is intended to “show the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District that fair wages and benefits can not be ignored,” the newspaper reported.

Already, more than 100 people have signed onto the protest, according to the event’s Facebook page. Protesters will leave on “buses” leaving at 6 a.m. from 19th and Telegraph in Oakland, and from Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco.

Occupy Harlem: Saturday March Against Racism And Police Brutality

The march ends at 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd with a rally from 3 to 6 PM. The theme of the protest: “Build A United Front Against Racist Violence,” highlights the killing of 17 year Trayvon Martin in Stanford, Florida by “Stand Your Ground” self style vigilante George Zimmerman.

Occupy Bozeman to Host Discussion about Alternatives to Big Banks

Occupy Bozeman, a Montana group in solidarity with the international Occupy movement, invites the public to a discussion about alternatives to corporate banks. Representatives from local credit unions, as well as from a working group aimed at creating a Montana state-run bank like that of North Dakota, will speak and answer questions. The free event will be held at the Gallatin Labor Temple, located at 422 E. Mendenhall St., from 1:30 to 3:30 on Sunday, April 29th.

Occupy Bozeman says it is organizing the event to provide information to people who are concerned about the effects of corporate banks such as Wells Fargo, which has been the focus of a divestment campaign sponsored by the group. Occupy Bozeman says that corporate banks have abused the taxpayer support provided by the 2008 bailout, engaged in fraudulent practices, and hurt the economy. The group says there are many benefits to credit unions and state banks, including fewer fees, lower interest rates, and greater economic stability. Members of the group who have been working with other organizations to create a state bank in Montana point to the success of the Bank of North Dakota, which has been in operation since 1919.

Occupy Fort Lauderdale to highlight working class struggles at April 29 event

A program highlighting working class struggles will be held at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, April 29, by Occupy Fort Lauderdale and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Lauderdale.

There will be a two-and-a-half hour program of speakers, seminars, music and food to celebrate the international day of labor.

Occupy New Haven Leaves Green But Fights On

Now that Occupy New Haven has left its downtown encampment after six months, some are mourning and some are celebrating. However, two myths about the local protest movement need to be dispelled – first, that it has accomplished nothing, and second, that it is in any way over.

Protesters target Seattle Mayor McGinn’s home

Occupy Seattle protesters gathered outside the Greenwood home of  Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn on Friday to complain about the eviction of a homeless encampment known as “The Jungle” from a Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood.

Occupy spokeswoman Aliana Bazara said about 20 protesters were meeting with the mayor this evening hoping to resolve the issue.

Wall St. Protesters Lying on Sidewalk Are Arrested [NY]

The police arrested a group of Occupy Wall Street protesters who were lying on a sidewalk at the corner of Wall Street and Broad Street on Friday afternoon after one demonstrator announced that the law allowed them to do so as a form of political protest.

Organizers said that the eight people who were arrested were trying to draw attention to statements made by police commanders over the last few days that protesters were not allowed to lie on the sidewalks.

The police also arrested two other people on Friday afternoon. One man, holding a camera and a tripod, was arrested while standing on a sidewalk at the foot of the steps of Federal Hall. A second man was arrested moments later as a wedge of police officers walked east on Wall Street, pushing a crowd of people ahead of them.

Notes from the Freedom Square [Malaysia]

The atmosphere was almost carnival-esque at first glance. Hundreds of people clad in white t-shirts and black pants prancing around on Dataran Merdeka to pop songs, traditional numbers and some other musical genre while a man’s voice booms over the loudspeaker telling them to “get it right.” They are rehearsing for the royal parade tonight and constant reminders that “50,000 pairs of eyes will be on you” by the voice over the loudspeaker – this time female, elicit refreshed enthusiastic moves, purposeful in their fervour to entertain in coordination.

It makes for a stark contrast to another group of people a little further down. They number much less than a 100, but are coordinated nonetheless in a common cause. These are the denizens of Occupy Dataran, various student groups, and other individuals who are there in solidarity.

The area occupied is no larger than 300 square feet. During this visit, six tents are counted and the number will increase as the night advances. There are mats in varied designs and colours, which are placed neatly next to each other. People are furtive with their steps and careful not to tread on them with footwear on.

Higher education minister ‘condones’ violence [Malaysia]

Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin is a typical Umno leader. He means if Umno thugs attack peaceful the ‘Occupy Dataran’ student protesters, then serves them right.

There is nothing strange in that. It shows the quality and humanity, or lack of both, in Umno ministers.

Students, let’s work to put Khaled in the opposition in GE13. He is not fit to represent Malaysians in any capacity.

Widespread support for protesters from pupils [UK]

A SURVEY carried out at Djanogly City Academy revealed a high proportion of students are in favour of the Occupy Nottingham camp in the Old Market Square.

The camp was set up in the Market Square in October last year in protest against what organisers saw as “a world run by banks”.

Dublin Sheriff’s office occupied in protest against elderly couple’s eviction [Ireland]

Irish member of the international Occupy movement begun an occupation of the Dublin City Sheriff’s office on Thursday to protest the eviction of an elderly couple from their home in Killiney, County Dublin on Wednesday.

The protesters are demonstrating against the eviction of Brendan and Asta Kelly from their home after a court warrant obtained by Irish Banking Resolution Corporation (formerly Anglo Irish Bank, widely regarded as the architects of Ireland’s economic collapse) was delivered to them in 2010.

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