The OB Media Rundown for 5/1/12

May Day for Occupy Boston

Claiming to be bigger and more powerful than ever before, Occupiers in Boston – site of the country’s longest continuous occupation – join a nationwide May Day movement today aiming to show the economic muscle of the 99 percent by staying away from work, banks, school and shopping.

“I expect to see a large number of people participating,” said Rita Sebastian of Occupy Boston. “I’m going to take part in a lot of the actions. It’s a day to coalesce and come together as the 99 percent.” (Boston Herald)

Occupy Boston ramps up for May Day protests

After a mostly quiet few months for Occupy Boston, the movement’s local contingent has a day of protests planned for May 1, as part of a call for global demonstrations by the group.

According to, the group will mark May 1 – a day that celebrates workers internationally – with a call for people to strike, skip work, walk out of school and abstain from shopping and banking in support of the ’99 percent.’ ” (Boston Business Journal)

U.S. May Day protests planned, may disrupt commutes

May Day protests may disrupt the morning commute in major U.S. cities Tuesday as labor, immigration and Occupy activists rally support on the international workers’ holiday.

Demonstrations, strikes and acts of civil disobedience are being planned around the country, including the most visible organizing effort by anti-Wall Street groups since Occupy encampments came down in the fall.

While protesters are backing away from a call to block San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, bridge district ferry workers said they’ll strike Tuesday morning to shut down ferry service, which brings commuters from Marin County to the city. Ferry workers have been in contract negotiations for a year and have been working without a contract since July 2011 in a dispute over health care coverage, the Inlandboatmen’s Union said.

Occupy: What to expect in May Day “general strike”

How will it affect me? Depends. If you’re interested in participating, you can learn more by checking out the main Occupy Wall Street site or the sites for marches in specific areas: New York, the Bay Area, Chicago, Southern California and Seattle among them.

If you’re just looking to get to work, the protests could bring headaches. In the Bay Area, Occupiers had planned to blockade the Golden Gate Bridge from Marin to San Francisco – but those plans were cancelled on Monday. Ferry service, however, is expected to be disrupted as workers go on strike.

In New York, protesters plan to shut down one or more of the bridges or tunnels into and out of Manhattan as one of many planned activities — and they have yet to announce which they will target, possibly to keep the police from being ready to stop them. (Plans are expected to be announced in Manhattan’s Bryant Park early Monday morning – and it’s worth noting that some Occupiers disagree with the plan for a blockade.)

Occupy movement’s May Day turnout seen as test for its future

Occupy Wall Street vows a day of demonstrations in New York and across the United States on Tuesday, in a crucial test of its staying power some eight months after emerging as a movement against corporate greed and economic inequality.

The “99 Percent” populist movement, which began as a 24-hour encampment in lower Manhattan last fall and spread to cities across the country, will join organized labor for a day of May 1 protests, in what it has called a “day without the 99 percent.”

Dozens of actions are planned across the country, though there is some skepticism over how many people will turn out and whether it will spell Occupy’s resurgence. The event was first billed as a “General Strike,” but organized labor declined to sign on to that call.

How Elite Colleges Still Feed Wall Street’s Recruiting Machine

Though recent media reports suggest that elite students are growing disillusioned by Wall Street, the numbers are unconvincing. Among the class of 2011, the financial industry was the top employer of graduates of Harvard, Duke, Columbia and even the University of Pennsylvania’s engineering school.

To claim the infatuation with Wall Street has come to an end is to disregard the forces underlying this phenomenon. Until we address what is drawing students to investment banking – and what is driving them once they get there – the brain drain to Wall Street won’t change, and Wall Street won’t, either.

Two years ago, I graduated from Duke, one of many elite colleges that function as a farm team for Wall Street. Four years before then, I had never heard of Goldman Sachs. A bank had always been that one-story building across from a gas station where my mom deposited checks and I took more lollipops than I was supposed to. But at Duke, I was quickly seduced by a Wall Street recruiting machine that is reshaping the culture of higher education and diverting the career paths of our best and brightest.

A U.S. Financial Transaction Tax: How Wall Street Can Pay for Its Mess

As we continue to suffer the consequences of the 2008-2009 global financial crash caused by casino capitalism, one idea for bringing some measure of control over speculative financial practices that has gained worldwide support is to impose a tax on financial market transactions. This has been variously termed a financial transaction tax (FTT) and, more vividly, a “Make Wall Street Pay tax,” an “anti-speculation tax,” and a “Robin Hood tax.”

Over the past year, a movement to establish such a tax in the United States has been energized by the National Nurses Union under the theme “Heal America, Tax Wall Street.” The Occupy Wall Street movement has also strongly supported the idea as one of the few specific policy measures they are willing to endorse. Last November, Senator Tom Harkin and House Representative Peter DeFazio introduced a bill in the U.S. Congress for an FTT, although, as I discuss later, the tax rate they are proposing is far more modest than it needs to be. There is also strong support for an FTT throughout Europe as, among other things, one crucial new way for the European Union to raise public revenues and oppose the austerity agenda now engulfing the region. In Europe, this proposal is not only being sup- ported by traditional progressive communities, but also by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the U.K., the Pope, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, among others.

In its essentials, the idea of a financial market transaction tax is simple. It would mean that financial market trad- ers would pay a small fee to the government every time they purchased any financial market instrument, including all stock, bond, options, futures, and swap trades. This would be the equivalent of sales taxes that Americans have long paid every time they buy an automobile, shirt, baseball glove, airline ticket, or pack of chewing gum, eat at a restaurant, or have their hair cut.

NYPD Raids Activists’ Homes Before Tomorrow’s Occupy Wall Street Protests

A day before Occupy Wall Street hopes to shut down New York and cities across the country in massive May Day protests, the NYPD visited at least three activist homes in New York and interrogated residents about plans for tomorrow’s protest.

Today “there was definitely an upswing in law enforcement activity that seemed to fit the pattern of targeting what police might view as political residences,” said Gideon Oliver, the president of the New York Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which offers legal to support to Occupy Wall Street. “They were asking what are your May Day plans, do you know who the leaders are-these are classic political surveillance questions.”

Oliver said the National Lawyer’s Guild is aware of at least five instances of NYPD paying activists visits, including one where the FBI was involved in questioning. (He wouldn’t elaborate.) We spoke to three of these activists.

OWS-Related Civil Suit Filed Against NYPD

Demonstrators affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement, including four city councilors-Ydanis Rodriquez, Jumaane Williams, Letitia James, and Melissa Mark-Viverito-filed a civil rights action in federal court on Monday.

The lawsuit, a copy of which was posted on the OWS website, showed the defendants to be New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the MTA, the NYPD, and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., among others.

The suit claims the plaintiff’s First, Fourth, and 14th Amendment rights were violated by the NYPD in a series of incidents beginning on and around Sept. 17, 2011, and that the violations are ongoing.

Charlotte seeks to quell Occupy protests at Bank of America meeting

The City of Charlotte, N.C., will expand police powers for Bank of America’s    annual meeting May 9, which Occupy protesters say they’re targeting to voice their concern over foreclosures and other issues.

The Charlotte City Council in January passed strict security rules in January for policing the upcoming Democratic National Convention. (I wonder how many Democrats are already regretting the decision to hold the party’s convention in Bank of America’s hometown, given the optics of President Obama accepting the party’s nomination there.)

Charlotte’s new law was designed to be used for “extraordinary events” drawing large crowds, my colleague Susan Stabley reports today in the Charlotte Business Journal.

Swiss ready for say-on-pay vote

While the Occupy Zurich movement did not capture the world’s imagination in quite the same way as protests in London or New York, national votes in Switzerland on “fat cat” salaries later this year or early next may deliver results to make the radicals proud.

Thanks to the Swiss tradition of direct democracy-which allows citizens to put an issue on the national agenda if enough signatures are collected-citizens here will get to decide whether to expand shareholder rights to limit executive pay in publicly listed companies like food giant Nestle.

This includes barring golden parachutes, requiring shareholder votes on pay and setting criminal penalties for transgressors-strong stuff for a country that is famous for its hands-off industrial policy and self-regulation.


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