The OB Media Rundown for 4/29/12

Brandeis: Activists hold ‘teach-in’ to educate about Occupy movement

Students for a Democratic Society joined with their peers in a group led by Professor Gordon Fellman (SOC) hosted a teach-in in the Shapiro Campus Center atrium on Tuesday. This teach-in incorporated a series of speakers as part of the group’s Occupy Brandeis Spring Week.

Fellman’s team spent six weeks organizing the teach-in. The idea of a teach-in originated in a conversation Fellman had with Provost Steve Goldstein.

“Since the ’60s and ’70s, I have been taken with that form of education and stimulating awareness and thought, and this seemed like a rich and complex enough topic to warrant dusting off the old teach-in template and seeing where we might be able to go with it now,” Fellman said. “I hope it raised awareness among people who attended of the realities of U.S. society that Occupy addresses, of some of the movement’s actions and ideas, and of the General Assembly method of discussing and moving forward.”

Banks cooperate with police to track Occupy protesters

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

Using social media to monitor Occupy movement

Facebook and Twitter are now essential tools for protest movements like Occupy Wall Street. Nine in 10 law enforcement agencies say they monitor social media. CBS News correspondent Tony Guida reports they are using what they find to make cases against demonstrators.

When Occupy Wall Street occupied the Brooklyn Bridge last October, police arrested 732 protesters, virtually all charged with disorderly conduct — neither a crime nor a misdemeanor — but a violation, like loitering.

“It’s a whole lot of fuss over a politicized traffic ticket,” said 23-year-old Malcolm Harris, who was among those arrested. However, he was one of just a handful whose Twitter account was subpoenaed. The D.A. maintains that Harris’ public Tweets prove his intent to defy police orders to disperse.

CISPA: US plan for sweeping surveillance of internet users a betrayal of trust

“It will allow existing privacy laws to be overridden using new laws that enable too great a range of possible intelligence-gathering activities, potentially allowing too great an imposition on the consumer,” says Mark Little, an analyst at the research company Ovum.

Google and Facebook already appear to be giving their cooperation to the act. Google has been in discussion with the intelligence agencies for years over access to its ocean of consumer data, and Facebook supports the tough new legislation.

But these two internet giants and other organisations supporting Cispa may soon come to regret backing legislation that may enrage many of their users who expect that personal details will be treated as confidential.

CISPA Would Allow Big Corporations to Steal All Your Data

CISPA is another attempt by corporate entities to obtain access to governmental intelligence sources on the Internet. That’s what the fuss is all about.

This bill talks about sharing governmental intelligence information with “certified entities,” but the only requirement to become a certified entity is to demonstrate that you can keep a secret. It doesn’t seem to be necessary that you prove a national security position for your company.

Government borrowing used to create manufactured crisis, provide the pretext to attack progressive government

The mechanisms of borrowing and repayment now serve mainly to bamboozle the public and empower unscrupulous opponents of public spending and progressive government.  These borrowing and lending operations create large, frightening debt numbers on government account books.   These numbers are exploited by demagogues to create insolvency fears among the public, and these fears are in turn exploited to pressure citizens into shrinking the active role of government.

The Politics of Sight

Would Americans eat less meat, and would animals be treated more humanely if slaughterhouses were made with glass walls and we all could see the monstrous killing apparatus at work? This is the query at the heart of Timothy Pachirat’s new book Every Twelve Seconds-the title a reference to the typical slaughterhouse’s cattle-killing rate.

Before you think this is a column merely about food, recognize that Pachirat’s question isn’t (only) about the immorality of the cheeseburger you had for lunch. It’s about the larger phenomenon whereby modern society has reconstructed itself to hide so many horrific consequences from view.

Calling this the “politics of sight,” Pachirat’s blood-soaked experience inside a slaughterhouse spotlights only the most illustrative example of how we’ve divorced ourselves from the means of producing violence-and how, in doing so, we have made it psychologically easier to support such brutality. Sadly, billions of factory-farmed animals dying barbaric deaths are just one subset of casualties in that larger process.

Halfway Through the Lost Decade

Does anyone care that the economy is floundering and that we are not getting out of this crisis anytime soon? Housing values are in the cellar, the Fed foresees unemployment remaining unacceptably high for the next three years, and national economic growth is predicted to be, at best, anemic.

Obama: Big spender or austerity president?


Let’s have a look at Real Government Expenditures & Investment and index it to 100 at presidential inaugurations:

Some journalists starting to fight back against false equivalency

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.
. . .

We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.

Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?

Prison Industries: “Don’t Let Society Improve or We Lose Business”

In the past decade, there has been a movement to privatize more and more of our state and federal prisons to save money (which has not materialized) and ease overcrowding under the pressure of the courts. This has led to a wide world of influence peddling, self-dealing and lobbying while preying on a captured group of people to fill prison beds. Just as I have feared that privatizing the logistics of war will encourage private war-service industries to lobby for a hot war or long occupation to keep their industries viable, there has emerged a group of prison industries, state and federal legislators, and other players who will continue to benefit from our disgraceful ranking as the world’s largest warden.

Why Isn’t Closing 40 Philadelphia Public Schools National News?

In what should be the biggest story of the week, the city of Philadelphia’s school system announced Tuesday that it expects to close 40 public schools next year and 64 by 2017. The school district expects to lose 40% of current enrollment to charter schools, the streets or wherever, and put thousands of experienced, well qualified teachers, often grounded in the communities where they teach, on the street.

Ominously, the shredding of Philadelphia’s public schools isn’t even news outside Philly. This correspondent would never have known about it save for a friend’s Facebook posting early this week. Corporate media in other cities don’t mention massive school closings, whether in Chicago, Atlanta, NYC, or in this case Philadelphia, perhaps so people won’t have given the issue much deep thought before the same crisis is manufactured in their town. Even inside Philadelphia the voices of actual parents, communities, students and teachers are shut out of most newspaper and broadcast accounts.

Pittsburgh public transit blasted with austerity cuts

On Friday, the board of the Transit Authority of the city (known locally as PAT or Port Authority Transit) voted reluctantly for the deepest round of service cuts and fare increases in its 48 year history.  The massive level of service cuts are unprecedented and every neighborhood will feel the effects: 48 of the 102 remaining bus route will be cut; all but 13 bus and light-rail routes will stop running after 10 p.m.; 18 Park ‘N Ride lots will be closed; an estimated five to six hundred transit workers will see layoffs; and fares will rise to at least $2.50 for basic, Zone 1 service.

The cuts represent 35 percent of city transit services and will likely bring a loss of 40,000 out of 225,000 daily riders.  Also planned are higher fares and reductions to the Pittsburgh paratransit “Access” service which provides special needs transportation to seniors and disabled Pittsburghers, many of whom rely on public transit as their only means of getting around.

The effect on Pittsburgh’s elderly and disabled will be particularly hard, as was pointed out by Judy Spruill, Director of Public Policy for United Cerebral Palsy of Pittsburgh, who feared a future where the disabled might become virtual prisoners in their own homes.

‘Occupy the Farm’ Protesters Plan Big Weekend in Albany

A group of protesters continue to occupy a 10-acre plot of agricultural land in Albany that is owned by the University of California at Berkeley and plans many activities there this weekend, a spokeswoman said Saturday.

Anya Kamanskaya of Occupy The Farm said about 70 to 80 people are on the land now and “are setting up for a big weekend” that she hopes will draw at least several hundred people to the site.

Suicides have Greeks on edge before election

On Monday, a 38-year-old geology lecturer hanged himself from a lamp post in Athens and on the same day a 35-year-old priest jumped to his death off his balcony in northern Greece. On Wednesday, a 23-year-old student shot himself in the head.

In a country that has had one of the lowest suicide rates in the world, a surge in the number of suicides in the wake of an economic crisis has shocked and gripped the Mediterranean nation – and its media – before a May 6 election.

The especially grisly death of pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas, who shot himself in the head on a central Athens square because of poverty brought on by the crisis that has put millions out of work, was by far the most dramatic.

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