The OB Media Rundown for 5/11/12

 Secure Communities program assailed by immigrant groups

Leaders from an immigrant rights group said Thursday they plan to “demand” that Gov. Deval Patrick sign an executive order against the planned launch next week of the controversial Secure Communities program.

“If he is really against this program he can really do it,” said Patricia Montes, executive director of the Latino immigrant organization Centro Presente.

The federal program, which refers arrested illegal immigrants to federal immigration officials, is slated to launch in Massachusetts next Tuesday, the Globe reported. Boston is the only community in Massachusetts that has enacted the program.

Occupy global call to action on May 12th

We are living in a world controlled by forces incapable of giving freedom and dignity to the world’s population. A world where we are told “there is no alternative” to the loss of rights gained through the long, hard struggles of our ancestors, and where success is defined in opposition to the most fundamental values of humanity, such as solidarity and mutual support. Moreover, anything that does not promote competitiveness, selfishness and greed is seen as dysfunctional.

But we have not remained silent! From Tunisia to Tahrir Square, Madrid to Reykjavik, New York to Brussels, people are rising up to denounce the status quo. Our effort states “enough!”, and has begun to push changes forward, worldwide.

This is why we are uniting once again to make our voices heard all over the world this 12 May.

We condemn the current distribution of economic resources whereby only a tiny minority escape poverty and insecurity, and future generations are condemned to a poisoned legacy thanks to the environmental crimes of the rich and powerful. “Democratic” political systems, where they exist, have been emptied of meaning, put to the service of those few interested in increasing the power of corporations and financial institutions.

Tactical briefing – Occupy’s turning point, and how governments are now using ‘lawfare’ to attack us

Last May 15, a hundred thousand indignados in Spain seized the squares across their nation, held people’s assemblies and catalyzed a global tactical shift that birthed Occupy Wall Street four months later. Our movement outflanked governments everywhere with a thousand encampments in large part because no one was prepared for Occupy’s magic combination of Spain’s transparent consensus-based acampadas with the Tahrir-model of indefinite occupation of symbolic space. Now exactly a year later, a big question mark hangs over our movement because it is clear that the same tactics may never work again.
Spring re-occupations have largely failed here in North America. The May Day General Strike was stifled by aggressive, preemptive policing that neutralized Occupy’s signature moves. In light of these challenges, Saturday’s May 12 rebirth of the indignados could be a tactical turning point.
Across the world, authorities are using “lawfare” to piecemeal outlaw any tactic that we used last year. In Spain, there is an attempt to criminalize the use of the internet to catalyze nonviolent protests and occupations. The International Business Times reports that this is part of a larger European move to “punish those who use social media and instant messaging to organize and co-ordinate street protests.” Canada wants to ban wearing masks at “unlawful assemblies,” a legal designation often used to disperse nonviolent protesters. Meanwhile Germany is taking a more direct route: they have simply issued a decree “banning” the Blockupy anti-bank protest in Frankfurt. As in the U.S., when outlawing free speech and the right to assembly doesn’t work, authorities are increasingly using brutal, paramilitary force.

JPMorgan $2 billion trading loss spooks bank stocks 

JPMorgan Chase & Co’s shock trading loss of at least $2 billion from a failed hedging strategy knocked financial stocks across the globe on Friday, as well as the reputation of the biggest U.S. bank by assets and its CEO Jamie Dimon.

For a bank viewed as a strong risk manager that navigated the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis without reporting a loss, the errors are embarrassing, especially given Dimon’s public criticism of the so-called Volcker rule to ban proprietary trading by big banks.

Occupy Keeps Up the Momentum With an Anti-Austerity Week of Actions in NYC

Occupy Wall Street isn’t wasting any time post- Spring Awakening and May Day. It is geared up for a full week of actions addressing different issues each day from May 10 to May 15. It is clear that Occupy is working very hard not to lose its spring momentum.

The week of action, which has the theme “Another City is Possible, Another World is Possible,” arose to combat the ongoing budget cuts in New York City. With the 2013 city budget having come out the first week of May, the week of action is timely, focusing on austerity and measures directly relate to the struggles of the 99 percent. In addition, the week will be punctuated by two global days of action, on May 12 and 15, to tie the local actions into a broader international context.

Shareholder Spring: Investor anger takes on Occupy hue

Ten weeks after officials dismantled a tented camp of Occupy protesters outside the London stock exchange and St Paul’s cathedral, one of their causes has been picked up by an unlikely new campaign group: shareholders.

Investors in the UK rarely rock the boat. But the past few weeks have seen them stage something of a revolt as simmering discontent over executive pay and poor dividends finally comes to the boil.

Africa: A Call to People of Colour – Build Towards Liberation

For people of colour the time has come to seek true liberation: not by struggling to be heard by the powers that be but by hearing one another’s voice and building solidarity.

This is less a critique of the new HBO series, Girls, the Kony 2012 viral video and Occupy Wall Street, and more a response to the racial critique of the show, campaign and movement. This is intended for youth of colour both here in the West and abroad who are outraged by the implications of the above-mentioned things. I hope this piece aids in bringing us to consensus that it is time for us to take control of the cultural/political/economic/social means of production and do for ourselves what we previously expected and longed others to do for us. It is no longer time for us to struggle to have our voices heard by the powers that be, but time for us to acknowledge that we hear one another and ourselves and with this mutual recognition, build towards our collective liberation.

U.S. President Obama’s G8 Invitation to Ethiopian Leader Disregards Concerns for Human Rights

G8 Summits are never free from their own controversies even in the West. A growing number of people worldwide perceive that the current world order serves only the narrow interests of the top 1 % (the few), as articulated by Occupy Movements in the United States and around the world.

Add to that already prevalent controversy Obama’s invitation extended to one of Africa’s most notorious dictators, Meles Zenawi, to attend the G8 Summit, and you will get the picture that democratic leaders from the West encourage tyrants from Africa to continue on the same destructive path, while giving them the opportunity to beg for more food aid by portraying a proud and rich continent as a perennial beggar on the global stage.

Twitter’s Privacy Defense Stifles CISPA’s Potency

Twitter’s Motion to Quash New York’s demand is positive news for anyone worried that CISPA will instantly open their most private online data to government eyes. As GigaOM pointed out, Twitter has taken this approach in the past. Matthew Ingram wrote:

Twitter has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to free speech by its users – both in blog posts about how the ‘tweets must flow’ despite attempts by governments to stop them, and in comments by CEO Dick Costolo and general counsel Alex Macgillivray that the company is the ‘free-speech wing of the free-speech party.’

Back in March, however, Twitter revealed just how far it’s willing to defend its users. In December of 2011, Boston police subpoenaed information from Twitter accounts @pOisAnON and @OccupyBoston, as well as usage of the hashtags #BostonPD and #dOxcak3. After nearly four months of debate, Twitter conceded.*

Occupy protesters plan to march without permits, target Boeing at NATO summit

Zoe Sigman, of Occupy Chicago, said the group would proceed without regard for city permits and aimed to “shut down” Boeing’s main office May 21, a Monday.

“Boeing is a corporate war criminal that profits off violence on a massive scale,” she said. “They’re receiving huge tax cuts from the city of Chicago while they’re making money off of death and war.”

Faces of the anti-Nato protests

(photo gallery)

They claim to represent “the 99 percent” of the world that they say is run by and in the interests of “the global 1 percent.” And they’re urging Chicagoans to take to the streets next week to resist what they call the city’s attempts to “intimidate you from exercising your First Amendment rights.”

But who are the groups that are organizing the anti-NATO protests – and what do they want?

Speaking at Occupy Chicago’s East Pilsen headquarters Thursday, leading faces from the coalition of left-wing activists, unions, military veterans, peace campaigners, mental health advocates, musicians and other groups introduced themselves and explained the issues they’re fighting for. Meet the protestors . . .Group: Occupy Chicago

Rage Against the Machine guitarist scares Rahm Emanuel

National Nurses United had planned on protesting – with a permit – in Chicago’s Daley Plaza for months. After Morello made it public that he would be performing, however, city officials scrambled to revoke the license.

Michael Simon, an assistant commissioner of the Department of Transportation, explains that the change in heart is directly the result of changes to the protest, “including a performance by a nationally known musician and a significantly increased number of expected attendees.”

Tom Morello: “If Rahm Emanuel is so afraid of my popularity in Chicago maybe I should run against him in the next election. See you in the streets.”

UC Berkeley speaks of impasse, seals off Occupy Farm

At the direction of UC Berkeley, UCPD officers have sealed the Gill Tract in Albany in order to prevent the entry of pedestrians onto the property, although people will still be free to leave. Police officers arrived at the UC Berkeley owned property at noon today and locked the one remaining entrance that was open on San Pablo Avenue and positioned guards at other closed gates.

Occupy member Lesley Haddock said the police had threatened anyone who entered the property with arrest. “We are trying to ignore them,” she said. “It’s not our intention to be confrontational.”

Occupy the Farm Highlights Issue of Food Sovereignty

To those who had become accustomed to seeing the Occupy movement build its camps in squares and buildings, the occupation of a farm seemed a curious choice for the protest group. However, the truth is Occupy the Farm is arguably one of OWS’s most important offshoots-a movement that not only draws attention to the rotten corporate practices of Big Ag but also focuses on issues near and dear to Occupy’s heart, such as the environment and overall health of society.

Media coverage of superbugs, food recalls and pink slime meat have all brought the issue of bad food production to the forefront in American culture. Yet the issue of food sovereignty not only includes safety, but also access, and this concerns everyone even if they’re not a farmer. As the author and farmer Wendell Berry once wrote, “If you eat, you are involved in agriculture.”

According to the Obama administration’s Health Food Financing Initiative, about 23.5 million Americans live in low-income areas that are more than one mile from a supermarket. Unfortunately, sometimes the so-called “solution” proposed to alleviate this crisis is to build a Walmart, which will indeed sell produce, but that produce is unlikely to come from a local, sustainable farm. The result may be the alleviation of one problem (food deserts) but at the cost of worsening other areas (food safety, sustainability, environment) while quietly tolerating Walmarts already legendary mistreatment of workers.

Occupy the Farm: Democracy for Land Grant Universities?

“Here, we are learning democracy through farming… by taking back a public good that our public university wants to privatize,” said a volunteer at the information booth for “Occupy the Farm,” the current protest at the University of California’s five-acre Gill Tract research station.

When 200 urban farmers, students and community members moved on to the Gill Tract on Earth Day, their goal was to protect one of the few remaining class 1 agricultural lands in San Francisco Bay’s former “fertile crescent.” Whatever the original intent, their action — like previous occupy actions — has further opened the national debate on resources, democracy and corporate power. This time it is about food, land and urban agriculture.

The occupiers demand UC Berkeley halt plans for further sale and private development of what was once the site of its renowned International Center for Biological Control. Instead, they propose an urban farm center to serve the research, training and development needs of the growing urban farm population in the San Francisco Bay Area’s underserved communities. To demonstrate their point, they cleared the farm’s weeds by hand and planted over two acres of vegetables. They set up an encampment and an information center and started holding community workshops on urban farming, community food security and food sovereignty. There are families, children and day care.

After city funds put in local bank, local Occupy shifts focus [OK]

The Occupy Norman movement saw its biggest accomplishment April 24 when the Norman City Council voted to move its funds from a national bank to a local one.

The council voted to move approximately $250 million from Bank of America to the Bank of Oklahoma, a Tulsa-based institution, Occupy member Zakk Flash said.
. . .

At the 43rd general assembly May 3, five members discussed the next course of action it should take.

The group’s new focus is on a proposal that argues “money isn’t speech,” as determined in the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo Supreme Court decision. This decision made money constitutionally free speech, so the government could not regulate it, according to the group’s proposal.

Occupy Wisconsin’s first state General Assembly

Poor and working people from all over Wisconsin participated in Occupy Fond du Lac’s peace rally and Occupy Wisconsin’s state General Assembly on May 5 in Fond du Lac – an area known as the Fox Valley. Dozens of youth and students attended all of the day’s events.

Protesters Demand Visit with Rep. Bill Young over his support for the Ryan budget [FL]

Members of Awake Pinellas, Occupy St. Pete and the Florida Consumer Action Network attempted to meet with U.S. Rep. Bill Young last month to discuss his stance on the Republican budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee.

“He called us to make an appointment (but) he never followed through,” said protester Bill Hurley.

On Thursday members of the three progressive groups went to Young’s office at St. Petersburg College in Seminole to demand a meeting with the Republican congressman. Hurley said the group’s main concern is Young’s position on the so-called “Path to Prosperity Budget,” referred to as Ryan’s budget, since the Wisconsin congressman had a lead role in drafting it.

Occupy Coachella Valley asks Palm Desert City Council to oppose Sentinel power plant [CA]

In other action, members of Occupy Coachella Valley used the public comment portion of the meeting to ask the council to pass a resolution opposing the Sentinel power plant under construction on Dillon Road because of the particulate pollution members said it would send into the air, or at least oppose a proposed bike and motorized cart along the Whitewater Flood Channel, the proposed use for much of the $53 million Sentinel LLC is to pay into the Coachella Valley to mitigate the expected effect on air quality.”

“I would much rather be able to ride my bike on the paths that already exist and breathe clean air,” Gabrielle Jackson of Palm Desert said.

Palm Springs developer John Wessman, who was at the meeting for another matter, defended the pathway idea, saying that he’d spent five weeks last summer riding bike paths in Europe, which were providing a safe mode of alternative transportation, and “an unbelievable amount of people have gotten out of their cars.”

The City Council did not respond to the six Occupy members who spoke.

Occupy Frederick [MD] member asks police to investigate county commissioner for making violent threat against another protester

Steve Bruns, a member of Occupy Frederick, emailed local law enforcement officials to complain about online comments made by Commissioner Kirby Delauter and the manager of Barley and Hops. The postings appeared on Facebook during a back-and-forth with Kimberly Mellon, an activist who has clashed with the current county commissioners on a number of their decisions.
. . .

In his May 8 email to police officials, Bruns wrote that this challenge to a duel of words was a “clear incitement to violence.” The email also quoted a posting by Delauter: “Progressives like Kimberly Mellon love to lob grenades in a cowardly attempt (to) intimidate people. They don’t understand the business owner mindset … bury her sorry ass and don’t look back … that’s the only reasoning they understand.”

Bruns said this post was ominous. But Delauter said he only meant that Brooks should not lose sleep over the run-in with Mellon.

Occupy Sweetwater Activist Cleared of Allegations Made by Boardmember [CA]

For weeks, activist Stewart Payne has had headlines written that pertain to him: “Violent Threats By Occupy Sweetwater Result in Restraining Order” (San Diego Rostra), “Keep Payne Away” (The Star News), and “Court Protects Sweetwater Board Member” (U-T San Diego).

All of this because, on the night of April 16, before a meeting of the Sweetwater Union High School District, Payne and the group Occupy Sweetwater initiated a recall petition against boardmember John McCann and two other trustees.

After the meeting, words were exchanged in the parking lot, and McCann called the police to report Payne had physically threatened him. (Payne had gone home before McCann made the call to police.)

McCann subsequently received a temporary restraining order against Payne and sought a permanent one. On May 9, judge Ana Espana determined that Payne had not threatened McCann and denied the injunction.

Protestors challenge bank practices [NY]

Members of, Citizen Action of New York, Capital District Area Labor Federation and Occupy Albany joined forces in front of the Albany branch of Bank of America to protest what they characterize as unjust banking policies. In conjunction with other protests nationwide, the event held on May 9 coincided with a Bank of America shareholder’s meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The group of 20 protestors formed a semicircle in front of the main entrance of the Albany Bank of America causing the bank to lock its doors and screen entrants.

Police in Minnesota allegedly gave out pot

Minnesota authorities are investigating claims law enforcement officers gave out marijuana to political activists for them to smoke.

The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating an unidentified Hutchinson city police officer, who remained on duty, for allegedly giving marijuana to Occupy Minneapolis protesters and state police Trooper Nick Otterson is on paid leave while his role in the alleged improper dispensing of marijuana is reviewed, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Thursday.

OPD at risk for federal takeover for failing to address citizen complaints

The threat of a federal takeover is hanging over the Oakland Police Department in the wake of the department’s failure to implement all court-ordered reforms that were issued almost a decade ago.

Most recently, OPD has come under scrutiny for its handling of Occupy protesters. The department is now investigating the hundreds of citizen complaints recently launched against it.

Letter to the editor: War on women? [FL]

I was struck by Diane Corcelli’s May 9 letter in which she chortled over the “small” rally against a Republican-led “war on women.” Sponsored by Collier County Democrats, Planned Parenthood and Occupy Naples, the event drew “only 60 or 70 people” into the hot sun at a busy highway intersection, said Corcelli. She compared it to a line of anxious women at a rest room.

So, in her view, any “war on women” is mythical.

What made the letter striking was that my trip to Sweden was in the company of a woman attending the 50th reunion of her high school class – a class of 25 females, only one of which went on to become a “housewife.” The others became professionals: doctors, economists, lawyers, dentists, sociologists, engineers, etc. Even as they married and raised families, they all moved ahead in a society where their value has long been recognized.

Contrast it with the situation in the U.S. where members of a certain party continue to try to tell women what their role should be (subservient, and single if you can’t find a mate of the opposite sex); what they’re worth in the marketplace (less than men); what they should do with their bodies (bear children).

Panama City Occupy Protesters March to Patronis’ Office [FL]

Members of Occupy Panama City took to the streets Thursday to protest for what they call a threat to democracy.

About two dozen people staged a demonstration in McKenzie Park calling for State Representative Jimmy Patronis to resign as the Florida Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC.

ALEC is an organization of corporations that propose pro-business legislation, but opponents claims ALEC backs bills that disenfranchise millions of Americans. One of those is the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law which George Zimmerman is using as a defense for shooting Trayvon Martin.

Thousands of British police join anti-austerity protest – government dismisses action as ‘futile’

Thousands of off-duty police officers took to the streets in London on Thursday in a rare display of anger against government austerity, joining a protest by public sector workers including immigration officials, healthcare workers and prison officers.

Unions predicted some 400,000 public sector workers would walk out, a smaller protest than in November when Britain saw the biggest strike in years, but a significant show of discontent just after Prime Minister David Cameron’s government took a drubbing at local elections.

The government said only about 150,000 had taken part and dismissed the action as “futile”. Cabinet Office minister Frances Maude said, “public services were mainly unaffected”.

UK Occupy protesters visible to US Olympic athletes and VIPS – evictions planned

An eviction notice has been served on dozens of Occupy protesters who have set up camp in a park next to Team USA’s Olympic track and field training base.

About 50 demonstrators are occupying Mile End Park – two miles from the main London 2012 site and next door to a sports stadium where American athletes will prepare for events in July.

The park is also visible from the priority traffic lanes that will be used to whisk VIPs and other participants from central London to the Olympic Village, which is located the east of the U.K. capital.

Occupy Faith UK plans pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral

Details of a new charity, Occupy Faith UK, were published this week. The group’s website,, says that it is “an autonomous organisation that has an affinity with the global Occupy movement”.

There is already an Occupy Faith group in the United States, which was formed after Occupy protests in a number of cities.

Occupy Faith UK is organising a “pilgrimage for justice”, which will begin at St Paul’s, Blackheath, in south-east London, on 7 June, and finish at Canterbury Cathedral on 19 June. It says that there will be “an interfaith service for peace, justice, and unity in the Chapter House” on 20 June, followed by a two-day conference “on economic, environmental, and social justice”.

Market Square in Winnipeg occupied overnight [Canada]

OCCUPY Winnipeg is back. Several dozen members of the protest movement convened in Old Market Square in the Exchange District Thursday evening for a “general assembly” and one-night camp-out.

Unlike last fall’s two-month-long gathering in Memorial Park, the protesters now plan to do shorter, more targeted events in different locations.

“That’s more sustainable and realistic for many occupiers,” said Jesse Singer, the first one on the scene Thursday and a spokesman for the group. By day he is a social worker for a non-profit youth agency.

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