The OB Media Rundown for 4/7/12

MBTA Fare Hikes and Service Cuts Draw Transit Activists to Protest at State House

Yesterday, over 200 activists with Occupy Boston, Occupy the MBTA, the T Riders Union, the Amalgamated Transit Union, and other mass transit advocates, held an afternoon rally inside the MA State House and an evening demonstration and teach-in outside the building, on the State House steps along Beacon Street.

Advocates called on the state legislature to find a lasting solution to the MBTA’s financial woes. The agency is burdened with hundreds of millions in debt, in part due to a legislative restructuring of bills left over from the Big Dig Project.

The legislature, which has until April 15th to approve the transit agency’s budget, has the power to bail out the T and potentially stop the proposed cuts in service and fare hikes. Governor Deval Patrick has proposed diverting money from an account containing funds collected during automobile inspections to the MBTA. But many advocates and legislators agree that would be a temporary fix only. (Open Media Boston)

http://tinyurl.com/8yhod7k

Greater Boston transit fares hiked by 23 percent

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) board of directors on Wednesday approved a fiscal year 2013 budget that includes a 23 percent average systemwide fare hike to buses, rapid transit, and other commuter services in Greater Boston and beyond. The proposal also cuts or reduces services on more than a dozen bus routes and eliminates weekend service on three commuter rail lines.
. . .

A crowd of about 200 people shouted down the MBTA board, chanting “Shame on you!” following a 4-1 vote to implement the changes. In addition to the fare hikes and service cuts, the new budget is contingent on $61 million in one-time revenues yet to be approved by the state legislature. This includes $51 million from a motor vehicle inspection trust fund, $5 million from a snow and ice removal surplus, and $5 million from a garage lease payment. (World Socialist Web Site)

http://tinyurl.com/826rs7c

Transit Troubles Provoke National Day of Protests

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is a lot like other urban transit systems across the country. It’s underfunded, understaffed, and overworked as the Great Recession pushes more and more working people onto public transit. But the “T” was proposing fare hikes-from $1.70 to $2.40-and service cuts that are among the harshest in the country. And that ignited a firestorm on April 4, the national day of action for transit justice.

Marking the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) joined with community movements and Occupy in 15 cities to protest fare hikes and service cuts to public transit. Chicago, Denver, and Pittsburgh saw rallies, leafleting, and candlelight vigils.

In Boston, following a 24-hour vigil at the Statehouse led by young people and seniors, 150 people packed a meeting of the MBTA’s board and shouted “Shame on you!” as the directors voted to make riders pay more for less. (Labor Notes)

http://tinyurl.com/blzvoyg


Occupy T sit-in lacks at-tent-ion

Day 1 of the Occupy the MBTA’s sit-in on the State House steps was no Dewey Square – lacking both the tents and the throngs of earnest 99 percenters – but the handful of protesters there yesterday insisted everything’s going to plan.
. . .

Boston cops have ceded authority over the protest to state police, though some city and state officials differed over whose problem a full-blown occupation would be. City officials said State House property is the jurisdiction of the state’s park rangers. While some protesters are on the steps, many are on the sidewalk, and state officials said that belongs to the city. (Boston Herald)

http://tinyurl.com/cbrsw2a

Occupy Wall Street Activists Respond to the 99 Percent Spring

Occupy Wall Street protesters have expressed mixed feelings about the 99 Percent Spring, a response that should have been expected given a statement like, “Occupiers have varying opinions,” is a beige platitude akin to, “humans have varying opinions on life.” OWS is a big tent movement, and as such, it attracts the entire gamut of the (generally) lefty political spectrum.

“I can’t blame the Occupy movement for being at best suspicious,” says Joe Macare of Truthout and the Occupied Chicago Tribune, and observer of the Occupy movement, pointing out the 99 Percent Spring has adopted the language and imagery of Occupy Wall Street.

“I think Van Jones means well and is a smart, formidable guy, but I disagree with a lot of what I’ve read in his analysis about the extent to which President Obama, as opposed to just the Tea Party, the GOP-controlled Congress, etc., needs to be held responsible for the mess the United States is in. If Rebuild the Dream and MoveOn.org are serious about challenging corporate power, that’s going to mean calling out a lot of Democratic policies and a lot of Democratic politicians who are bought and paid for by the private sector.”

In a recent blog post for The Nation, Jones argues that all of this class war chatter is detrimental to Occupy, a movement founded on the very notion that wealth disparity exists and must be confronted for the sake of the survival of the “99 percent.”

http://tinyurl.com/d3puxqp

Occupy Catholics Delivers Good Friday Message on 42nd Street

A group called Occupy Catholics delivered the meditation at the 13th station, Jesus is taken down from the cross. According to its Web site, this is a new group looking to establish a Catholic voice in the Occupy movement. I was interested to see how the meditation would connect the Stations of the Cross with Catholic social teachings on economic justice and poverty, but was disappointed that the group focused on itself, recounting how Occupy Wall Street was driven from its “Zion,” Zuccotti Park, last fall.

http://tinyurl.com/cpavhl6

Occupy Radical Patriotism: Wave the flag of revolution

Patriotism long ago became a dirty word for aware Americans but Occupy is stealing it back and giving it new meaning… a radical new meaning.

I say, let’s call it radical patriotism when occupiers volunteer time and energy (under constant threat of arrest) to cook organic, locally grown food to feed the homeless.

Let’s call it radical patriotism when occupiers give up secure jobs in other states to come live in a tent in a NYC park and help nurture a movement.

Let’s call it radical patriotism when occupiers face up to the myriad crises facing all life on the planet and recognizing the urgency of these crises.

http://tinyurl.com/d2kycxa

Six months later, Occupy Philadelphia eyes a comeback

Supporters of Occupy Philadelphia gathered today to protest the city’s policy for feeding the hungry and to mark the six-month anniversary since the group set up camp next to City Hall.

Center City resident Ivanka Kultschyckyj walked up to the group in Rittenhouse Square with a big stack of signs.

“We’re seeking justice and just being good American citizens, and there’s no better way to show your citizenship than to show up, and when things are just wrong, to make them right. We’re going to be passing out flowers as we’re marching through the streets to invite people to join us,” said Kultschyckyj.

http://tinyurl.com/d9nbj4b

Eyes on the Prize: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Lessons for Occupy

When he was assassinated in April, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. had just begun “The Poor People’s Campaign.” This focus on economic injustice, which included plans for a mass encampment of poor people in Washington, D.C., was remarkably similar to that of today’s Occupy movement. The connection is clear to present-day activists Kazu Haga and Jonathan Lewis, who are promoting King’s philosophy of nonviolence to Occupy groups, both for moral guidance and practical strategy.

Both studied “Kingian” nonviolence with Dr. Barnard Lafayette, a civil rights organizer and an associate of King’s in the 1960s. “Kingian nonviolence,” or nonviolence as it was defined by King, is the focus of a training program Lafayette developed with David Jehnsen to institutionalize King’s philosophy at all levels of society. The training’s pay-it-forward ethos encourages participants to spread the word by becoming Kingian nonviolence trainers themselves.

http://tinyurl.com/cn933kk

Republican war-on-women bridge-burning party continues: WI gov. repeals equal pay law

Even with this law, Wisconsin’s gender pay equity data lags the national average. In Wisconsin, women make 75 cents on the dollar, compared to 77 cents nationally. With the repeal of this law, this stands to get even worse. That can be seen simply by the fact that business organizations lobbied heavily for repeal.

http://tinyurl.com/c6dysdh

Women Account For Entire Drop In Labor Force Participation Last Month

As former Department of Labor chief economist Betsey Stevenson noted on Twitter, female workers accounted for the entire drop in labor force participation:

“Declines in labor force participation all came from women: Male particpation +14K, Female particpation -177K”

http://tinyurl.com/7phog2v

‘Democrats need to derail and co-opt the Occupy Movement because it calls attention to what’s really happening’

I direct you to a blog by activist Kevin Zeese, one of the original organizers of Occupy Freedom Plaza and an organizer of the National Occupation of Washington, DC. Zeese nails some truths: “The corporate media is anointing a false leader of the Occupy Movement in Van Jones of Rebuild the Dream.”

Also: “Democrats need to derail and co-opt the Occupy Movement because it calls attention to what’s really happening.”

And this: The Occupy Movement is not part of either corporate-dominated party and Van Jones is not our leader. It is corporate rule we oppose. The Obama administration and the Democrats as well as the Republicans maintain the rule of Wall Street. Occupiers have organized an independent movement that challenges the rule of the 1% and their Republican and Democratic lackeys. …Obama and the Democrats are part of the problem, not the solution.

http://tinyurl.com/82rvfw7

Corporate America rethinks support of right-wing fringe

Kraft Foods announced Thursday that it has joined Coca-Cola and Pepsico in withdrawing support from the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group created in part to disseminate controversial conservative legislation to state legislators around the country.

Last week, GM announced that was pulling its financial backing of the Heartland Institute, which specializes in the denial of climate change and dismisses it as “junk science.” And in the past week, Arby’s, Walgreen’s (see tweet to the right) Proactive and Kohler have added their names to the list of more than 100 companies that have either pulled their ads from Rush Limbaugh’s show or ordered that ads for their companies not appear there.

http://tinyurl.com/72mcazj

Intuit Is Now The Fourth Company To Drop Voter Suppression Group ALEC

Software company Intuit, the makers of programs such as Turbo Tax and Quicken, announced today that they will join Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Kraft as the fourth company to end their partnership with the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council this week.

http://tinyurl.com/7byhvxn

This weekend: Re-Occupy?

Occupy Philly is in the middle of the first week of what you might call a Spring offensive. After a slow but visual winter (they had a few events here and there), Occupy Philly got things kicked off yesterday with a Dr. Seuss skit in front of Wells Fargo bank. Today and this weekend, there are a number of events going on to show the city and the world they haven’t gone away.

Occupiers are gathered in Rittenhouse right now. According to their daily schedule, there’s a “Know Your Rights to Occupy” gathering followed by a march to Independence Mall later this afternoon. And what march to Independence Mall would be complete without an evening drum circle followed by a midnight workshop hosted by write-in Congressional candidate Nate Kleinman, who is running in the 13th District (North, Northeast Philly, suburbs) Democratic party primary against incumbent Rep. Allyson Schwartz.

http://tinyurl.com/dxwaq27

Free Speech Battle Over Protests Looming at Seattle Colleges

A major battle over free speech is being waged on local college campuses in Seattle. The Seattle Community College District Board of Trustees wants to revise the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) for Seattle colleges. The district is proposing new rules that would regulate protests on all three of the city’s state funded community college campuses.

Organizations opposed to the board’s proposals include the ACLU, the Seattle chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, student councils at all three of the district’s colleges, and Occupy Seattle.

About a hundred Occupy Seattle participants set up camp at Seattle Central Community College last fall after being pushed out of Westlake Park by police. SCCC president Paul Kilpatrick and the school administration went to court to evict the demonstrators from the campus, and on December 10, 2011, the occupiers were forced to leave. A Thurston County Superior Court judge has allowed the college to impose new rules which prohibit camping on the campus, on an “emergency” basis.

http://tinyurl.com/czlocv4

Proper Etiquette for When You’re Under Arrest

We’re not here to pass judgment on why you wound up in police custody, but if it happens you should know how to comport yourself while getting arrested and once you’re in a holding cell. Now that jail authorities can strip search you even if they don’t suspect you of carrying contraband, etiquette is especially important. There are all kinds of reasons you could find yourself behind bars: Maybe you got scooped up at a protest such as Occupy Wall Street’s May Day action. Maybe you got a ticket carrying an open beer from one party to another, forgot to pay it, then got stopped months later on your bike after the citation had gone to warrant (this happens, trust me). Maybe you’re on probation and a cop thought she saw you dealing drugs. Whatever it is, the way you behave can have a lot of bearing on whether this is a 24-hour ordeal that you can dine out on for years, or a 72-hour nightmare that you wish you could forget.

We spoke with Deitrich Epperson, a Queens-based defense lawyer and former prosecutor; Arthur Grix, a retired NYPD officer turned private investigator; Mike Lyons, a former Yonkers police officer turned private investigator; and Max Berger, a frequent Occupy Wall Street protester who’s spent two different stints in custody, and compiled their advice into the 10 handy tips below.

http://tinyurl.com/cngbx6m

Occupy Portland Protesters Go Topless to Get Word Out About Upcoming Hanford Protest

According to Portland’s Willamette Week, Occupy Portland protestors took to the streets yesterday, and took off their tops, in an effort to get the word out about the coming protest. Eight women and three men, all with bare chests, distributed flyers and waved at cars. Willamette Week’s account indicates some of the bare chests were adorned with “painted multicolored radiation symbols,” while one woman had the appropriate statement, “Everyone is Naked to Radiation” written on her bare back. Others wore gas masks.

http://tinyurl.com/d32tolu

NATO Summit protests to kick off Saturday

The Good Friday Walk for Justice is a tradition now in its 32nd year. In the crowd were faces of long-time activists whose agenda for social change and economic equality is arguably getting more attention with NATO coming to town.

Some of the people will be involved in gatherings in 13 Chicago neighborhoods Saturday to talk issues from foreclosure to the impact of genocide.

Then they will gather downtown and walk to Butler Field in Grant Park for what they’re calling the kick off to Chicago Spring – a series of planned peaceful protests leading up to the arrival of NATO leaders. The occupy Chicago movement has become the umbrella organizer.

http://tinyurl.com/caulekf

Occupy Wall Street Escalates The Battle For Union Square

The Battle for Union Square continues.

The branch of Occupy Wall Street protesters who have colonized Union Square for the past three weeks continue their nightly standoff with the New York Police Department, which each night deploys more than fifty officers to clear the park and stand guard along a wall of metal barricades to make sure no one gets in.

In recent weeks protesters have turned this nightly 12 a.m. ritual into an opportunity for street theater that points up the waste and absurdity of the NYPD’s heavy-handed response. Friday nights, for example, they stage The People’s Rap Battle, in which anyone can challenge an officer to hip-hop combat. As you might expect, the police invariably forfeit.

http://tinyurl.com/87egx85

Taking a stand against foreclosure [CA]

[Tanya] Dennis said she was at first ashamed to have experienced foreclosure. “That’s what the banks count on,” said Dennis, “for you to be ashamed and embarrassed.

“I sat up one night and thought, ‘Am I going to keep my pride or am I going to keep my house?’ ” She decided to keep her house, which didn’t lead to, after all, a loss of dignity.

That unforeseen dignity has grown into an activism-infused philanthropy. Dennis has inspired dozens of homeowners facing eviction in the San Francisco Bay Area to more forcibly approach banks for loan modifications.

http://tinyurl.com/crmumjm

Occupy Petaluma Protesters Announce Hunger Strike to Protest Foreclosure Fraud

A local author and one of the leaders in the Occupy Petaluma movement has launched a hunger strike to protest what he describes as massive fraud by banks in the wake of the foreclosure crisis.

Fifty-four-year-old resident Petaluma resident Tim Nonn, who lost his home to foreclosure two years ago, has embarked on a week-long hunger strike to bring attention to the plight of homeowners around the country and to call for a statewide moratorium on foreclosures.

“Following the Savings & Loan crisis, there were over 18,000 prosecutions,” Nonn says. “If one of us went to the store and stole a candy, we’d be prosecuted, yet not a single bank executive has been prosecuted for foreclosure fraud.”

http://tinyurl.com/blzzvpu

Washington DC Occupations plan to merge

Ever since Washington’s Occupy protesters pitched their tents in two high-profile spaces downtown, observers have been asking: Why two?

The answer wasn’t exactly clear. One camp, in Freedom Plaza, was founded by veteran antiwar activists; the other, in McPherson Square, by recent college graduates. While both groups advocated similar goals of economic justice, they fiercely prized their independence and some days barely got along.

Until now.

http://tinyurl.com/bnzx4t5

Protesters Occupy UC Berkeley Building

About 20 people occupied a University of California at Berkeley building Friday afternoon to protest what organizers said is a lack of minority students enrolled at the university.

. . .

More high school students are expected to join the occupation when school lets out this afternoon, he said.

The protesters are demanding that UC Berkeley immediately double underrepresented minority student enrollment for this fall’s class and that the university and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office drop charges against Occupy Cal demonstrators from a November action.

http://tinyurl.com/bp2daxt

Occupy Toronto protesters march to police headquarters

About 100 Occupy Toronto protesters marched to police headquarters near College and Bay on Friday, at times impeding traffic.

The protest was a response to what demonstrators deemed police brutality last week when four Occupy protesters were arrested outside the courthouse at 361 University Ave.

http://tinyurl.com/88ej89o

Outdoor Way of the Cross procession focuses on inequality, injustice (Canada)

Participants in Edmonton’s annual Good Friday prayer walk through the inner city touched on the provincial election with calls to help vulnerable and marginalized members of society.

About 1,000 people took part in the procession, centred this year on ideas of injustice and inequality.
. . .

This theme was inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement and its spread last year to cities around the world, including Edmonton, with protests against corporate influence and social inequality, he said.

http://tinyurl.com/6phytvd

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