The OB Media Rundown for 4/28/12

Occupy’s Super Tuesday? Building on May Day Traditions

With class inequality reaching new heights and shaping politics in the U.S. and internationally, a new generation is discovering the importance of May Day and embracing its message of militant working class struggle and international solidarity.

This is the context for demonstrations planned for May 1 this year, organized by Occupy movement activists, along with labor unions, immigrant rights activists and antiwar organizations. Whatever the size and character of these protests, they represent an effort to connect activists in movements today with the rich traditions of working class struggle in the U.S.–with the goal of building a left alternative in a world dominated by the 1 percent.

Get Ready for May Day and Nationwide ‘General Strike’

Occupy Wall Street, in fact has already declared a victory. “While American corporate media has focused on yet another stale election between Wall Street-financed candidates, Occupy has been organizing something extraordinary: the first truly nationwide General Strike in U.S. history,” OWS’s website says. “Building on … past General Strikes in U.S. cities…, the national general strikes in Spain this year, and the on-going student strike in Quebec, the Occupy Movement has called for A Day Without the 99% on May 1st, 2012. This in and of itself is a tremendous victory. For the first time, workers, students, immigrants, and the unemployed from over 125 U.S. cities will stand together for economic justice.”

Occupy Hub Calls for NATO Protesters in Chicago

As Chicago ramps up for the NATO summit in May, at least one behind-the-scenes voice of the Occupy movement is calling for “31 magical days” culminating with “direct actions that paralyze capitalism” in cities worldwide.

The website Adbusters, considered a driving force of the Occupy movement as it gathered steam last year, called on thousands Friday to “take the plunge and strike” starting May 1.

In a post titled “The May 2012 Insurrection,” the group proposed actions ranging from blocking the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to the occupation of a tunnel in Manhattan and the seizure of ports.

Who’s really to blame? It’s the economists, stupid

Forget Wall Street. Occupy the University of Chicago.

It is five years since a respected economist called Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, said that the problems in the US subprime mortgage market were likely to be “contained”. This, you may have noticed, turned out not to be the case.

In the intervening period of catastrophic market failure, deep recession and anaemic recovery (in the US, and double-dip in the UK), public ire has been turned on the bonus-hungry bankers whose actions exacerbated the crisis.

Far too little anger has been turned on the people who built and validated the deranged intellectual framework that prevented bankers, and the rest of us, from seeing what was happening.

European, US Austerity Drive is Suicidal: Nobel Economist Stiglitz

Europe is headed down the same path that most Republicans — and many Democrats — are suggesting for the US: reductions in the public sector, cuts in benefits, slashing investments in infrastructure and education.

Nobel Prize-winning U.S. economist Joseph Stiglitz speaking in Vienna, Austria Thursday night said that it’s a suicidal path for Europe — and that such a policy has never worked in any large country.

Youth unemployment in Spain has been at 50 percent since the crisis in 2008 with “no hope of things getting better anytime soon,” said Stiglitz, who is a professor for economics at Columbia University. “What you are doing is destroying the human capital, you are creating alienated young people.”

Movement Against Standardized Testing Grows As Parents Opt Out

With the arrival of spring comes the inevitable wave of standardized tests, as public school students across the country break out their number two pencils and spend hours of class time taking math and literacy assessments.

But a growing movement of principals, parents, and teachers is rising up against these exams. They claim that placing so much time and emphasis on high-stakes tests robs students of valuable learning time and unfairly tangles teachers’ performance evaluations with meaningless test scores. The opt out movement is gaining momentum through written protests from districts and principals, through social media, including a Facebook group called Parents and Kids Against Standardized Testing, which has more than 1,700 fans, and Occupy Protests at the Department of Education.

Mi casa es su casa: South Gate woman takes mortgage fight to Wells Fargo executive’s front door

Ana Casas of South Gate didn’t like the prospect of losing her home of 40 years to bank executives. So she decided to take the fight to their home — specifically, to the large Spanish-style residence of Wells Fargo CFO Tim Sloan in San Marino.

Casas was arrested there yesterday amid a group 80 to 100 protesters who marched, chanted and waved signs proclaiming “Occupy Wells Fargo!” the Pasadena Sun reports.

Interestingly, she was arrested for violating a San Marino ordinance specifically designed for Sloan, who is no stranger to angry assemblies in front of his house. A protest there in October of last year prompted the city to pass a law prohibiting people from getting closer than 150 feet to a property during “targeted residential picketing.”

Occupy and Failure

Queer theorist Judith Halberstam pointed out in her explorations of failure and success that failure, simply put, “connotes effort without achieving the desired result.” As such, broadly speaking, Occupy- the weird, ever shifting assemblage of actions, gatherings, and connections that it is-technically avoids the logic of success and failure altogether. The consistent refusal to pose demands or set out specific goals as a movement means there has never been a “desired result” to achieve or fail to achieve in the first place. But that’s speaking about Occupy as a (loose) whole. Different Occupy groups have certainly set out plans (crossing the Brooklyn Bridge to set up camp on the other side on October 1st, stopping the Stock Exchange bell ringing on November 17th, occupying Union Square overnight to name a few New York examples)-and they’ve failed. Granted, they succeeded in escalating energy and garnering media attention, but in terms of enacting a plan or stated goal, these actions were duds.

However, as many people who experienced some of those events might attest with me, these failures constitute some of Occupy’s greatest wins. It was during these days, when chaotic crowds surged into the streets and moved en masse through the city on unpermitted routes, that the chants of “we are unstoppable” boomed most apt. I was arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge while reporting on the day’s events for the New York Times. When I stood in plasticuffs with other arrestees, flanking the bridge’s Brooklyn-bound roadway awaiting our carriage in police buses, it was cold and rainy; the bridge and its iconic view have never looked so exhilarating and beautiful to me. As far as failing to cross a bridge goes, this was pretty spectacular.

$1 Trillion Student Loan Debt = Nonprofit Staffing Problems – OWS on the Case

Student debt burdens may be seen as a challenge to the economy (when employment challenges are making it hard for graduates to pay their loans) and a drag on the housing market (due to levels of carried debt making it difficult for families to qualify for mortgages or pay off their existing mortgages). Is student debt important to the nonprofit sector? You bet. Recall the platform of the Nonprofit Sector Workforce Coalition, whose Project on Student Debt pointed out that “rising debt burdens make it increasingly difficult for college graduates to work in the schools, youth programs, senior centers, and other charitable organizations, which serve our communities and families.” Student debt is a nonprofit human resource pipeline issue. Graduates will be hard-pressed to consider nonprofit sector jobs when they have to deal with loan repayments and the other costs of living in a continuing, recessionary economy

Occupy Movement Launches National TV Campaign

Members of the national Occupy movement have raised more than $15,000 using the crowdfunding platform LoudSauce, which they will use to put a 30-second ad on national television.

The campaign comes after another project, raising $6,000, created shorter ads that reached 3 million people, according to Occupy officials.

“Messages get out through actions and money,” advertisement coordinator Gina Levy told Boise Weekly. “There are many within the Occupy Movement that are creating actions. These actions rely on the press to get attention. Rather than relying on the press, we are appealing directly to the people to pool their money.”

Occupy Targets Finance Sector With Wave of ‘Sleepful Protests’

These days, Occupy is moving from the streets to the sidewalks.

It’s a different sort of civil disobedience that’s not, technically, disobedient. Citing court decisions that allow sleeping on sidewalks as a form of political protest-so long as at least half of the pathway is unobstructed-a growing number of occupiers have been setting up temporary “sleepful protest” camps each night on public sidewalks outside financial institutions.

Students Occupy Rutgers Admin Building in Sweatshop Protest

An occupy protest developed on Friday when a group of students protesting  Rutgers University’s relationship with a controversial sweatshop monitoring group occupied the Old Queens administration building after being informed that President Richard McCormick was not available to speak with them.

Why we’re sticking with Occupy Atlanta

Many of us in Occupy Atlanta were deeply saddened by George Chidi’s article, “Why I’m leaving Occupy Atlanta,” published yesterday in Creative Loafing, and several of us have come together to pen a collaborative response. This response certainly does not speak for all members of Occupy Atlanta, but rather reflects the thoughts of those who felt compelled to contribute.

There is a debate among many of us about whether or not publicly discussing the pros and cons of Occupy Atlanta in Creative Loafing is productive. At first, many of us saw George’s article as an unnecessary public airing of incorrect or uninformed assumptions and conclusions. After a period of reflection, however, we began to see it as an opportunity to share our message, the work we’ve been doing, and the victories we can claim – and to more explicitly deal with the controversies and issues we have within our movement.

Although many of us respect George’s opinions and even agree with some of his points, we contend that many of his criticisms arise from a misunderstanding of the basic structure and purpose of the Occupy movement, that others are due to an understandable ignorance of the multitude of efforts that are currently underway all over the city of Atlanta, and that his overall conclusion reflects an unnecessary cynicism about the potential of Occupy Atlanta – and the Occupy movement in general – to play a role in engaging everyday citizens in developing and pursuing a vision of a better world.

Seattle mayor issues May Day warning

The Seattle Mayor’s office Friday issued a statement warning about possible violence and property damage around Tuesday’s planned May Day marches and protests. “We also have evidence that other people may be coming to Seattle on Tuesday with the intention of using the public demonstrations as an opportunity to commit violence, damage property and disrupt peaceful free speech activity,” it reads. The full statement is below. 2011′s Seattle May Day rallies were peaceful — and well attended.

A Seattle Central student walkout is one of several actions planned for the day. features a schedule of the planned rallies and events.

Major Occupy/OWS Court Victory– 31 Occupy Philly Protesters Acquitted on All Charges; Exclusive Interview

I interviewed Paul Hetznecker, one of the lead attorneys among a team of 14 lawyers who defended 31 Occupy Philly protesters who were arrested on November 30, 2011, shortly after Occupy Philly was shut down. Their trial was Thursday, April 26th and every protester was acquitted of all charges–   obstruction of a highway, failure to disperse and conspiracy. Hetznecker discusses the implications of the acquittals for Occupy Wall Street protesters and freedom of speech.

the following is an edited, partial transcript of the audio interview which is also included here.

San Diego Judge Deals Out Harsh Sentence to Occupy Activist – Throws Down Gaunlet to Occupy Movement

The activism of Andrew Fisher – nicknamed “Fish” – arrested and convicted of violating California Penal Code section 148 (a)(1) – obstruction of a peace officer, was not appreciated by Judge Richard Whitney, a San Diego County Superior Court judge.  Judge Whitney took it upon himself to single-handedly punish Fish and all other potential demonstrators with the Occupy movement. Whitney sentenced him to the 90 days, and with time off for time already served, with overcrowding and good behavior, he’s potentially looking at 43 days.

Whitney stepped out of his role as neutral arbiter and ordered Fish to enroll in a number of programs upon his release into 3 years of probation that have nothing to do with public protest and first amendment rights. Fisher was ordered to have no alcohol or drugs in his system for that time – even though neither alcohol or drugs were an issue in his arrest, in fact, he was sober at the time of the incident.

Supporters in court that morning reported that the judge told Fiser that unless he was real lucky and completed a number of programs and got a full time job, or full time education or combination thereof, that he was looking at time in state prison. The sentence was over and above what the prosecutors asked for, with the absurd conditions of his probation.

Anonymous to shut Czech political parties’ sites during Occupy Prague protest

Local members of the international group of cyber activists (“hacktivists”) operating under the banner Anonymous have threatened to take down the web sites of all Czech parliamentary parties on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. in an attack dubbed “Operation Extinction” (Operace Zánik). They will also meet at the same time in Prague’s central Wenceslas Square.

The denial of service attack will coincide with protests by Occupy Prague, part of the international movement calling for greater social and economic justice and controls on the influence of corporations on governments, among other things. The movement will set up a tent village at the Klárov square and park in Prague comprised of at least 50 and perhaps several hundred tents, Czech activist Jan Cemper told Czech Position last month.

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