The OB Media Rundown for 4/27/12

Occupiers join RAN activists to tell Bank Of America: “No Coal”

On Tax Day, RAN Boston activists joined a national day of action targeting Bank of America over….. well… everything.

Bank of America currently pay no taxes to the government, yet received massive bailouts after they crashed the economy. They are currently the largest forecloser of homes in the U.S. and the largest funder of the coal industry. They’ve laid off tens of thousands of their own employees, while bestowing their execs with lavish bonuses. It has just been recently reported that CEO Brian Moynihan’s salary quadrupled in the past year.

Early in the afternoon, RAN Boston activists showed up to Bank of America’s downtown offices at 100 Federal St. with flyers, signs and chants. They were soon joined by over 30 housing activists with Right To The City and then more with Occupy Boston. Tax Day all over the country focused on Bank of America’s misdeeds against the American public and this combination of housing, climate and economic justice activists.

The Debate Over Student Loan Interest Is Nothing But a Sideshow

Inane politics aside, what’s frustrating about this issue is how little it matters in the scheme of college affordability. Yes, a few million students might have to pay more on their college debt if Congress doesn’t act. Given the state of the economy, and how particularly unkind it has been to young graduates, it’s probably worth it to give students a break, at least for another year. But whether or not it happens, this is a sideshow, a distraction from the deeply ingrained problems influencing college costs.

Just how irrelevant is this issue to the price of an education? The New America Foundation’s Jason Delisle has a great, short rundown that should give you some perspective, but here’s an even shorter version: In July, the interest rate on newly issued subsidized Stafford loans, which make up about one-third of all student debt, is set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. They’ve only been at that rock-bottom rate for one year. By one estimate, the higher rate would cost the average borrower $1,800 more over ten years. Delisle calculates that, at most, borrowers would have to pay an extra $9 a month.

These are not the sorts of numbers that will make or break a student’s decision to go to college, nor would they vastly impact a graduate’s finances. Of course, keeping rates lower for one year, as Obama has proposed, would cost about $6 billion. It wouldn’t exactly be a budget buster.

Understanding Student Debt

Yesterday, the level of American student debt passed the trillion dollar mark. There was little mention of the milestone in the mainstream media, but the Occupy Student Debt Campaign and its allies marked the occasion with “1T Day,” a national day of action. A few hundred gathered in New York’s Union Square and demonstrations were held in 20 other cities.

It’s a start, but it doesn’t come close to the scale of the problem. That’s an important juxtaposition: student debt and the crisis of higher education more generally is more pronounced in the United States than elsewhere in the developed world, but the level of student organization and resistance is lower here. Part of the trouble is awareness. To do my part, I’ve assembled a quick dossier.

Banks prepare for new Occupy protests

The world’s biggest banks are working with one another and police to gather intelligence as protesters try to rejuvenate the Occupy Wall St. movement with May demonstrations, industry security consultants said.

Among 99 protest targets in midtown Manhattan on May 1 are JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. offices, said Marisa Holmes, a member of Occupy’s May Day planning committee. Events are scheduled for more than 115 cities, including an effort to shut down the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, where Wells Fargo & Co. investors relied on police to get past protests at their annual meeting this week.

“Our goal is to kick off the spring offensive and go directly to where the financial elite play and plan,” she said.

‘Media for the 99 Percent’ Challenges Corporate Media with Joint Coverage of May Day Protests Nationwide

This year, International and Immigrant Workers’ Day, May Day, will usher in a spring of protests fueled by the rise in anti-immigrant legislation and enforcement, a lopsided economic recovery that favors the few, and a reemergent Occupy movement poised to challenge corporate power.

If past coverage is any indication, corporate media will not tell the May Day story accurately or with depth or analysis. That’s why more than 25 independent media outlets belonging to TheMediaConsortium are collaborating to provide coordinated, national coverage of May Day events from around the country.

Calling themselves “Media for the 99 Percent” (, these diverse outlets will offer a live TV and streaming broadcast, an interactive map, breaking news reporting, and coordinated social media coverage across their sites, reaching a combined audience of more than 50 million Americans.

May Day, Over 100 Cities to Disrupt 1%

Tuesday, May 1st, will be a nationwide emergency outcry in over 100 cities about economic conditions in the US. This is another important step in the growth of the populist resistance movement in the world’s lone superpower. On May Day, the Occupy Movement, the Immigrant Rights Movement, the Labor Movement, and the Student Movement across the country will march and organize in solidarity for economic justice.

Re-asserting the cultural revolution in the National Occupy Movement 

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Steadfast greetings, brothers and sisters. Our love and solidarity to you all. We felt it appropriate to open this statement with Dr. King’s call, which has been applicable to any given period where injustice is rife. We felt compelled to provide some necessary clarity and context to the struggle taking place.

The National Occupy Movement has been magnificent in how it has changed the framework in which the discourse on unequal distribution of wealth must be made. But in order for the movement to develop into the popular movement that it must become to effect permanent and meaningful change, the slogan, “We are the 99 percent,” must become a reality. It is imperative that both Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and Occupy the Hood (OTH) struggle together to form a popular movement.

House GOP Threatens Government Shutdown To Get Steeper Cuts To Food Assistance, Financial Regulations

House Republicans made it clear earlier this year that they had no intention of upholding the debt deal reached in 2011, despite a vow from President Obama that he would veto any appropriations bills that attempted to cut more spending than was agreed upon last August and a pledge from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that the deal would be upheld in the Senate.

After earlier indications that they would make substantial cuts to domestic programs to preserve defense spending, the House Appropriations Committee made it official yesterday, setting a spending level $27 billion below the level agreed to in the debt deal. The committee, bowing to the GOP’s more conservative wing, will make deep cuts to food assistance, financial regulations, and a host of other programs, setting up the potential for a government shutdown when the fiscal year ends in October, Politico reports:

Georgetown University Occupy drops banner during Rep. Paul Ryan’s lecture in Gaston Hall

Earlier today, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) spoke to a half-full Gaston Hall defending the Catholic community’s criticism of his budget. Halfway through the lecture, ten students from GU Occupy unfurled a banner from the upper balcony that read: “Stop the war on the poor. No social justice in Ryan’s budget.” The protestors were approached by security officers but not removed from the event.

Over 90 Georgetown faculty and administrators sent a letter on Tuesday to Ryan expressing stern disapproval of the budget’s plans to cut antipoverty and social welfare programs. Ryan’s response? “Some Catholics think they have a monopoly on Catholic social teaching.”

After the event, GU Occupy joined Washington-based group Catholics United in a demonstration of twenty people stood across Gaston Hall on Copley Lawn with another banner. The protest included singing and a theatrical reading of a document the activists dubbed “the Gospel of the Rich.”

Kids March Leads to Disturbance, Arrests [OR]

A kids march in downtown Eugene led to a disturbance and arrests. Occupy Eugene, the group behind the march, says it’s upset with the way protesters say police handled the situation.

Occupy walked through downtown with a group of children Wednesday evening as part of the Occupy the Trees and a Earth Celebration. The group ended up at Willamette and 8th where a fight started with police.

“It was definitely a overblown and brutal response,” said Shandy Gambill, a.k.a. “Lotus”. Lotus marched alongside other Occupy Eugene members and about 15 kids through the streets of downtown Eugene Wednesday night.

Gambill says it was a peaceful march until police got involved.

Occupy Kid Lit [British Columbia]

Dr. Seuss was banned from a B.C. school. Yes, that Dr. Seuss. A famous line from one of the beloved children’s author’s books — Yertle the Turtle’s “I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights” – was deemed too political to be displayed in an elementary school classroom.

This is due to an ongoing labour dispute between the B.C. Teachers Federation and the B.C. government, and the Prince Rupert School District director banned it before googling where the quote came from. If he had, he might have also see that Dr. Seuss intended Yertle’s takeover of the pond and surrounding areas as an analogy for the Nazi invasion of Europe. In other words, this hapless bureaucrat has unwittingly aligned the B.C. government with Hitler. D’oh!

But to be fair, Yertle the Turtle can also be read as a prescient rebuke of income disparity that hits particularly close to home in our Occupy era. As can its polar opposite, Thomas the Tank Engine, which is totally in the tank for the one per cent.

Occupy London to target the Tube on May Day

We haven’t heard a whole lot of the Occupy London movement for a while but this seems set to change come 1 May.

The group has announced a series of events to take place on May Day including an “occupation” on the London Underground.

The details of the proposed action have not been released but those wishing to take part have been asked to go along to either Finsbury Square or Liverpool Street station wearing their finest work wear and bring white flowers.

Media workers establish Occupation protest in South Korea to remove ‘parachute president’ of network

The KBS network chapter of the National Union of Media Workers, currently in the 52nd day of its strike, launched an “Occupy KBS” camp-out protest Thursday.

The New Union voted Thursday afternoon to hold the second strike at a general meeting of members held in front of the new KBS hall in Seoul’s Yeouido neighborhood, with around 500 people in attendance. The union members, who came from across the country, set up 47 tents in Yeouido Park, near the KBS building. They had planned to set up camp outside the KBS building, but around 500 riot police prevented them from setting up.

A union official said, “The ‘Occupy KBS’ battle is an expression of our determination to evict Kim In-kyu, the network’s ‘parachute president,’ restore KBS as a forum of communication, and give it back to the people.” The New Union plans to hold a solidarity strike with the trade union MBC, another major broadcaster.

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