The OB Media Rundown for 4/25/12

Occupy Boston protesters’ aims smaller, more specific

Occupy Boston’s next large move will not involve physical occupation, protesters from the group said. Rather than convening and demonstrating as a large group, the Occupy movement in Boston now tends to consist of smaller, more diversified groups, said Jay Kelly, an Occupy Boston protester who has been involved with the movement since the first General Assembly.

Members tend to work with the groups they feel the most passionate about, he said.

“It really shows what Occupy represents – it’s very horizontal,” he said. “There’s not one person calling the shots. You can go out and do action because you feel good about it and because you’re passionate about it. It isn’t one person saying, ‘Let’s all go here.’”

Manhattan judge denies motion to stop Twitter subpoena

A Manhattan judge has rejected the plea of an Occupy Wall Street protester seeking to prevent authorities from checking old posts on his Twitter account, as well as personal data.

Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Matthew A. Sciarrino Jr. said prosecutors had a legitimate right to ask for access to public tweets made by Malcolm Harris, an Occupy Wall Street protester, accused of causing traffic disturbances on the Brooklyn Bridge during a protest last October. Harris, along with other OWS activists who took part in the protest, has been claiming that they could not hear police warnings or that they thought the police were leading them onto the road. But prosecutors seek to dispel those claims by using Harris’ own tweets made in at the time as evidence against him and other demonstrators.
. . .

The authorities are increasingly using social media as evidence to build cases. A number of other Occupy activists have said their Twitter accounts have been subpoenaed. The issue has also been raised in Boston, where the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts unsuccessfully tried to block a prosecutors’ subpoena sent to Twitter on a user linked to Occupy Boston.

High-schoolers on strike

In a short video released last week, a group of students from New York’s Paul Robeson High School stand in an unremarkable classroom: school bags slung over wooden chairs and busy pinboards in the background. Their message, however, is a radical one: at front and center of the shot, a young man holding a white sheet of paper announces a mass high school student walkout on May 1, the day of the Occupy-planned general strike.
. . .

It would be easy to dismiss high-schoolers’ plans to participate in May Day actions – which included calls for “No School” alongside those of “No Work” – as an excuse to skip class. But the video from Paul Robeson High shows a politically aware and angry student body, which is keenly drawing connections between educational policy and broader political issues – most notably the production of racist systems. Their announcement connects the criminalization of schoolchildren to the institutionalized racism displayed in the case of Trayvon Martin’s killing.

“We believe that trying to control our schools is just another symptom of the blatant racism in our country similar to the government’s response to the senseless killing of Trayvon Martin,” the young man reads from the walkout announcement, while symbolically pulling up his hood over his head, referencing the hoodie marches in response to Martin’s murder.

Occupy, the 99% Spring, and the New Age of Direct Action

Over the past several weeks, a broad coalition of progressive organizations-including National People’s Action (NPA), ColorOfChange, the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA),, the New Bottom Line, environmental groups like Greenpeace and, and major unions such as SEIU and the United Auto Workers-has undertaken a far-reaching effort to train tens of thousands of people in nonviolent direct action. They have called the campaign the 99% Spring.

Starting this week, many of these same groups will be rallying their members and supporters to use newly honed skills to confront the shareholder meetings of corporations across the United States-charging executives with abusing workers, the environment, and communities in pursuit of profits for the 1 percent. They are calling the drive 99% Power. With prominent actions gearing up this week-starting with major protests at Wells Fargo meetings in San Francisco-the campaign may soon be coming to a city near you.

Although this month’s 99% Spring trainings have taken place in the shadow of the Occupy movement, the coalition building behind them actually predated the emergence of Occupy Wall Street. Last summer, a handful of organizers from groups such as Jobs with Justice, NPA, and NDWA had discussions in which they lamented the lack of direct action in recent years. As NPA Executive Director George Goehl explains, “We felt what was missing in terms of organizing and in terms of the broader fight was that there wasn’t enough energy pointed towards challenging corporate power: That’s not going to government and saying, ‘Reign these guys in,’ but actually going toe-to-toe with big corporations.”

Occupy v. Whole Foods? Activists Take Over Land Slated for Development and Start a Farm

Invoking the spirit of international peasant farmer movements La Via Campesina and Brazil’s Movimento Sem Terra, hundreds of people entered a five-acre plot of land at the Berkeley/Albany border on Sunday April 22, in one of this spring’s first high-profile actions of the Occupy movement. Their goal? To farm the land and share the food with the local community.

Occupy AIDS: ACT UP Celebrates 25 Years by Marching On Wall Street

Today, 25 years after a group of desperate people banded together in the West Village to change history, Americans of any persuasion, color or creed likely have a fresh understanding of what it means, what it feels like, to be pushed too far. And once again, we are facing a perfect storm — of injustice, of casual cruelty, of a school of thought that holds that there are people who don’t matter. Today, we call them the 99 percent. Needless to say, there are dead bodies; there always are. To cynically paraphrase Matthew 26:11, the poor will always be with us — as, seemingly, will be those who exploit them.

1TDay: US Student Debt Hits $1trillion Occupy Actions Planned In NYC And Nationwide

Demonstrations and creative protests are set for campuses and communities around the country on April 25th to mark One Trillion Dollar Day (1TDay), the day U.S. student debt reaches $1Trillion. These coordinated actions will draw attention to Wall Street’s predatory student loan market, as well as the corrupt lending practices at educational institutions. 1TDay will spotlight the long-term financial and social effects of students and families with insurmountable student debt.

Solidarity actions are planned for at least a dozen cities, from Sallie Mae National Headquarters in Newark, Delaware and all of its regional offices. Demonstrators will engage in coordinated non-violent civil disobedience. Some actions include burning loan cards. Actions in NYC with Occupy Wall Street and a coalition of student and community groups, will include mock celebrations with Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, the Plus Brigades and Billionaires for Debt.

As US Student Debt Hits $1 Trillion, OWS Protests Planned

Occupy Wall Street says demonstrations and creative protests are set for campuses and communities around the country on April 25th to mark One Trillion Dollar Day (1TDay), the day U.S. student debt reaches $1 Trillion.

“These coordinated actions will draw attention to Wall Street’s predatory student loan market, as well as the corrupt lending practices at educational institutions. 1TDay will spotlight the long-term financial and social effects of students and families with insurmountable student debt,” the group said in a statement.

Responding to some objections to Occupy May 1st

As the call has spread around and become something inseparable from Occupy as a movement, there have been a number of objections or concerns about a May 1st general strike. Some of them even come from people in the IWW or those in the radical left who we would presume would be on board. Here is my attempt to quickly address some of the most common ones.

In New York, activists plan mass strike for May 1st Workers’ Day


On May 1st, people all over the world will mark International Workers Day with events and actions related to social justice and workers rights. In New York City, labor unions, immigrant and community-based organizations, and protesters from Occupy Wall Street have come together to coordinate a mass strike and cultural events. It’s the result of a long-term campaign. FSRN’s Caroline Lewis has been following the efforts and reports from New York.

Mass sick day encouraged for May 1 [Canada]

Two Toronto groups are exhorting Canadian workers to call in sick en masse next Tuesday, on May Day, as a protest against “the attacks of the one per cent.”

Members of the groups wearing yellow smiley-face masks unfurled a nine-metre-wide banner Tuesday morning from a bridge over Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway, telling motorists that next Tuesday, observed in dozens of countries as a workers’ holiday, is “a good day to be sick.”

Hidden America: Medicaid’s Youngest Face Dental Crisis

With more than 16 million low-income U.S. children on Medicaid not receiving dental care — or even a routine exam — in 2009, according to the Pew Center on the States, dentists and ERs say they are treating very young patients with teeth blackened from decay and bacteria and multiple cavities.

“I see it in their eyes before they tell me it’s that way,” Dr. Gregory Folse told ABC News. “We are able to intervene and take the pain away from their teeth and it brings the spark back. And that’s my goal.”

In 2007, Congress held a hearing on the issue of children’s dental health after Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old Maryland boy, died when a tooth infection spread to his brain. His mother, Alyce Driver, had been unable to find a dentist to treat him on Medicaid and could not afford to pay out of pocket.

Economist: Maybe no housing rebound for a generation

The Housing market is likely to remain weak and may take a generation or more to rebound, Yale economics professor Robert Shiller told Reuters Insider on Tuesday.

Shiller, the co-creator of the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index, said a weak labor market, high gas prices and a general sense of unease among consumers was outweighing low mortgage rates and would likely keep a lid on prices for the foreseeable future.

“I worry that we might not see a really major turnaround in our lifetimes,” Shiller said.

Mainstream media jump on skewed idea that Social Security is going bankrupt

The headlines and stories that follow create the illusion that Social Security is fast going broke, even though it is fully funded for another two decades and could pay 75 percent of its benefits thereafter (imagine the shock the media would display, meanwhile, if transportation, food stamps, or other programs had two decades of guaranteed funding).

“The elite press repeatedly quotes the commentary of the devoted opponents of social insurance retirement programs,” Yale professor emeritus Theodore Marmor told CJR. “But they appear unaware of how they are supporting a strategic attack on social insurance that has been going on for years.”

Occupy the shareholder meetings!

Even though their tents were cleared out of the parks this winter, the Occupy spirit has re-emerged with a vengeance this spring.

Across the country, and in some pockets overseas, there’s been growing pushback against excessive CEO pay, lending practices, and other major executive decisions at big banks’ annual shareholders meetings. Investors have spearheaded a lot of the revolt, alongside the anti-bank populists who’ve supported them.

Much of the major action is happening from the inside. UK fund manager Hermes–which represents a group of pensions and other investment funds–has launched a protest against Deutsche Bank’s executive compensation policies, lobbying other shareholders in the German bank to reject a resolution approving the board’s performance, the Financial Times reports.

2 dozen arrested at Wells Fargo meeting, protest

Authorities have arrested about two dozen people who demonstrated inside and outside Wells Fargo’s annual shareholders meeting.

San Francisco police Sgt. Mike Andraychak says police arrested 20 protesters. At least 14 of them were inside the meeting in the city’s financial district Tuesday afternoon. Six others were arrested for trespassing. Andraychak said the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department arrested another four people.

The bank protest drew several hundred protesters, many associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Wells Fargo Turns Away Its Own Shareholders From Its Shareholder Meeting

At around noon today, some 2,000 activists launched a blitzkrieg against the bank’s annual shareholder meeting at the Merchants Exchange Building, where they blocked entrances, inflated a two-story cigar-smoking rat in the street, and deployed hundreds of shareholder activists to pack the joint.

Citing space constraints, the bank turned away many of the shareholders, a move protesters quickly decried as an illegal attempt to dodge tough questions. A press release from the activist group Cal Organize claimed Wells Fargo packed the meeting with its own employees, and continued to let shareholders who were not part of the protest in through a side door.

SF police monitor Wells Fargo shareholder meeting

Police were guarding the entrance to the annual meeting of Wells Fargo shareholders on Tuesday as protesters associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement geared up to crash the gathering.

Dozens of officers were stationed around the Merchant’s Exchange Building in the city’s Financial District in advance of the 1 p.m. meeting. Bank stockholders were asked to show certificates or other proof of ownership before being corralled past gates erected in front of the doors.

Many of the early arrivals represented community groups from across the country that purchased Wells Fargo stock so they would have a say in the bank’s practices.

GE Shareholders’ Meeting Expected to Draw Thousands of Protesters

Protestors gathered at Cobo Hall Tuesday morning to send a message to General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, disrupting his speech at the SAE Conference to demand GE pay up.

“They owe over $26-billion in back taxes that they need to pay up and pay their fair share,” said Shyquetta McElroy.

Rally For Mumia Abu Jamal Gathers At The Department of Justice in Washington

Approximately 100 gathered outside of the Department of Justice in Washington, DC today (Apr. 24) to recognize the born day of Mumia Abu Jamal and, as Angela Davis said, “to breathe life into the old Labor slogan, ‘an injury to one is an injury to all.’” Hip-hop and reggae blasted from the speakers on the makeshift stage as leaders of various organizations decried mass incarceration; the death penalty, solitary confinement and torture; and immigrant detainment. Immigrants, Davis noted on a video posted to the Occupy Wall St. site, are the fastest growing group of prisoners in the U.S. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Chants of “We are the 99 percent!” rose from the crowd signifying the continued “Occupy” movement for the elimination of corruption from the democratic process.

Demands included a release of Mumia Abu Jamal and the creation of jobs and public schools rather than jails.

10 Arrested Outside Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic [Il]

Chicago police arrested 10 people camped out on a vacant lot outside the Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic to protest the shuttering of several city clinics.

Those arrested were members of the Mental Health Movement, who have emulated the nationwide “Occupy” protests, and set up a tent city in the lot across from the Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic, 6337 S. Woodlawn Ave.

As demonstrators chanted “Shame on Rahm,” officers used plastic flex cuffs to bind the wrists of the demonstrators before loading them into a squadrol parked in front of the clinic.

Europe Begins to Wonder About Austerity: Are We Doing This Wrong?

Could it be that Europe’s financial and political elites are finally coming to a “d’oh!” moment, when an unbroken string of policy failures and the simple logic of  “depression plus austerity = worse depression” finally begin to get through?

Half a dozen Euro nations are now officially in recessions, others nearly so, having accepted a common view that sustained austerity would breed confidence fairies that lead to growth and jobs.  Instead, they’ve seen minimal or negative growth over the last two quarters, while their populations are facing depression level unemployment and impoverishment that show few signs of improving. Few theories have ever been so thoroughly tested and so thoroughly failed.

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