The OB Media Rundown for 5/15/12

Catholic worker group storms building housing Obama campaign headquarters, starting week of protest in Chicago

Dozens of demonstrators calling for an end to war rushed into President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago on Monday morning, and eight were arrested, NBCChicago reported.

The protest, led by a group associated with the Catholic Worker movement, was the first of a series of planned demonstrations and marches by groups highlighting poverty, environmental, and education issues during the May 20-21 NATO summit in the city and the May 18-19 G8 summit at Camp David in Maryland.

Revivals of protest in the class war

Despite the success of the Occupy movement in putting inequality on the international agenda, it can safely be reported that just about everywhere, the 1 per cent are still laughing all the way to the bank. In fact they own the bank. Just a little south of here, the Bank of America was bailed out by American taxpayers to the tune of $45-billion. It claimed a pre-tax loss of $5.4-billion and so paid no taxes for the past two years. In one of those years, it dished out executive bonuses and compensation worth $35-billion. Could I make this stuff up?

The bargain between the 1 per cent and the governments of the 1 per cent is clear: huge tax breaks for the big boys, austerity for the 99 per cent. Can you handle more figures? Since the geniuses on Wall Street gave us the great crash of 2008, American banks received $7.7-trillion in bailout money and British banks $1.3-trillion. Yes, trillion, in both cases. To offset those losses to the public purse, the United States will cut public spending by $2.4-trillion in the next decade and Britain $128-billion. In Britain this will include almost half-a-million lost public sector jobs.

It’s time to resurrect the biting formula given us years ago by John Kenneth Galbraith, an earlier generation’s Paul Krugman: private affluence, public squalor.

People’s Summit opens a week of protest against NATO in Chicago

Hundreds gathered from across the country for the People’s Summit, united in their opposition to the NATO/G8 agenda of war and poverty. Organized jointly by the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda (CANG8) and Occupy Chicago, the People’s Summit included 40 workshops and four plenary sessions. More than 50 attended a workshop featuring three Chicago leaders of the CANG8, speaking on, “The Strategic Aim in Opposing NATO in Chicago.”

Occupiers To Hold ‘People’s Summit’ Alternative To G8 Meetings

Members of the Occupy movement will hold an “Occupy G8 People’s Summit” in Frederick, Maryland to provide a vision for democratic economic development as the G8 meetings commence on May 18.  A series of speakers will lead discussions on the impact of concentrated wealth on global public policy, the effects of wealth inequality on peoples’ well-being, and alternative structures that would close the wealth divide and create a more democratic, sustainable economy. Details of the summit, which begin at 10:00 AM Friday, are below.

Secure Communities deportation program will expand to New York and Mass., despite Democratic governors’ objections

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said they opposed the Secure Communities fingerprint sharing program because it interferes with local policing priorities. Under the program, the fingerprints from local jails are matched against a federal immigration database. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) then asks local jails to detain people they think may be in the country without authorization, while it decides whether to try to deport them. Immigrants rights advocates say the program expels thousands of people who have no criminal records and makes witnesses to crimes afraid to come forward because they mistakenly believe they will be fingerprinted and deported.

The federal government at first gave the impression that states and counties could opt out of Secure Communities, before reversing course and saying it would be up and running in every county by 2013, with or without local officials’ consent. ICE officials say Secure Communities allows them to focus on deporting criminals, the agency’s top priority. ICE recently changed one aspect of the program so that fewer illegal immigrants without criminal records who are fingerprinted after minor traffic violations-such as driving without a license-are detained.

But some counties, such as Santa Clara County in California and Cook County in Illinois, refuse to place detainers on people at ICE’s request. After Secure Communities was implemented in Washington state in April despite Gov. Chris Gregoire’s objections, immigrant rights groups urged King County officials to join those counties in refusing to cooperate with ICE, according to the AP. It’s unclear if the federal government will take action against counties that ignore ICE’s detainers.

Colonized by Corporations

Gamer and many others who study the nature of colonial rule offer the best insights into the functioning of our corporate state. We have been, like nations on the periphery of empire, colonized. We are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense. The mechanisms of control are familiar to those whom the Martinique-born French psychiatrist and writer Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth,” including African-Americans. The colonized are denied job security. Incomes are reduced to subsistence level. The poor are plunged into desperation. Mass movements, such as labor unions, are dismantled. The school system is degraded so only the elites have access to a superior education. Laws are written to legalize corporate plunder and abuse, as well as criminalize dissent. And the ensuing fear and instability-keenly felt this past weekend by the more than 200,000 Americans who lost their unemployment benefits-ensure political passivity by diverting all personal energy toward survival. It is an old, old game.

A change of power does not require the election of a Mitt Romney or a Barack Obama or a Democratic majority in Congress, or an attempt to reform the system or electing progressive candidates, but rather a destruction of corporate domination of the political process-Gamer’s “patron-client” networks. It requires the establishment of new mechanisms of governance to distribute wealth and protect resources, to curtail corporate power, to cope with the destruction of the ecosystem and to foster the common good. But we must first recognize ourselves as colonial subjects. We must accept that we have no effective voice in the way we are governed. We must accept the hollowness of electoral politics, the futility of our political theater, and we must destroy the corporate structure itself.

Party Ends Badly for U.S. Trade Reps, Federal Agents, in Dallas

Two dozen rogue “delegates” disrupted the corporate-sponsored welcome gala for the high-stakes Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations yesterday with a fake award ceremony and “mic check.” Other activists, meanwhile, replaced hundreds of rolls of toilet paper (TP) throughout the conference venue with more informative versions, and projected a message on the venue’s facade.

The first action began when a smartly-dressed man approached the podium immediately after the gala’s keynote speech by Ron Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative and former mayor of Dallas. The man (local puppeteer David Goodwin) introduced himself as “Git Haversall,” president of the “Texas Corporate Power Partnership,” and announced he was giving Kirk and other U.S. trade negotiators the “2012 Corporate Power Tool Award,” which “Haversall’s” partner held aloft.

JP Morgan boss to face shareholders over $2bn ‘tempest in a teapot’

The embattled boss of JP Morgan, Jamie Dimon, faces shareholders at the bank’s annual general meeting on Tuesday amid a backlash against its campaign to dilute plans for the tighter regulation of Wall Street.

Pension funds have called for the positions of chairman and chief executive, which are both held by Dimon, to be split, in the aftermath of a $2bn trading loss announced by the bank last week.

The White House called on Monday for the efforts of “Wall Street lobbyists” to be resisted. Congressman Barney Frank, co-author of the act that contains the proposed new rules against which Dimon has campaigned, told the Guardian that the JP Morgan fiasco “shows how wrong he is in arguing that the legislation is not needed”.

Wealthy right-wingers who hate regulation produce ‘OWS-toned’ video criticizing the president for taking WS donations

President Obama is too closely tied to Wall Street, claims a new web video that takes the tone of Occupy Wall Street, though it was produced by a conservative group.

The video, released by the American Future Fund, an Iowa-based organization designed to be “a voice for conservative principles” and “free market ideals,” alleges that raising tens of millions of dollars from Wall Street gave Obama reason to let (presumably culpable) Wall Street executives off easy:

9 arrested after UC police clear out ‘Occupy the Farm’ settlement

University of California police arrested nine protesters at the university-owned Gill Tract on Monday morning, ending a 23-day occupation of urban farmland where they wanted to grow food for surrounding communities.

About 100 officers clad in riot gear and brandishing batons began staging early in the morning near the 10-acre site in Albany that is used for research by UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources.

Seven protesters were arrested outside the closed gate to the land for unlawful assembly and two were arrested inside for trespassing. All of them were taken to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and could be charged with misdemeanors, UC Berkeley police spokesman Lt. Eric Tajada said.

Undeterred by Raid, Occupy the Farm Plans to Reconvene Tomorrow

A missive sent this morning amid the raid at Albany’s Occupy the Farm protest said the group would reconvene tomorrow afternoon to plan its next step. But the future is a little hazy for this rogue group of well-intentioned agriculturalists, who spent roughly three weeks tilling two acres of arable land on a parcel owned by UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources, and commandeering additional space for its makeshift encampment. The protesters argued that the 10 acres at Gill Tract, which contain Class 1 soil, evidently the best kind for growing edible crops. It’s currently being allocated for agricultural experiments, many of which involve corn.

Standing Up to The Richest Man on Earth

“What are George Washington University’s values? Do they want to hold up exploitation as a legitimate business model?” he adds.

About 30 protesters (a mix of Occupy participants as well as members of a coalition called Two Countries, One Voice) are outside GW University posing this question to the institution on May 11th, 2012, while a handful meet with administrators inside. Their stated goal is convincing the university to cancel a decision to give an honorary degree to Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world, at their May 20th commencement ceremony.

Their questions and anger are valid, considering that this esteemed institution wants to honor a tycoon accused of overcharging poor and working class Mexicans to the tune of $6 billion per year in cell and landline fees. Slim has a net worth of $69 billion dollars.

Video project examines Occupy Oakland from different viewpoints

The inspiration for a web project that contains interviews with 16 people “involved or impacted” by Occupy Oakland came from an exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California that documents the year 1968. “We thought, ‘What we would have done if we had a time machine and could go back to 1968 with a camera and a notebook?’” said Alex Abramovich, a journalist, artist and one of the co-creators of the project. “‘What did we wish someone had done?’”

Inspired by films like “The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975″ a comprehensive look at the Black Power movement in the 1960s and 70s made by Swedish journalists, Abramovich and his project partner Lucy Raven set out to create a project that would examine Occupy Oakland from different viewpoints, including from the perspective of those who have ties to it. The result is “Portraits from the Occupation” which is featured on The Oakland Standard, a contemporary art project website created by the museum.

Occupy Portland borrows from business

Among numerous initiatives, the group has a strategy to persuade consumers and businesses to invest their money in local banks and credit unions. It also recently created a nonprofit called Friends of Occupy Portland.

Those actions are important. As an editorial points out, Occupy must win over mainstream America if it hopes to effect any real change.

Despite some missteps, Occupy has done a great job of calling attention to the financial excesses of Wall Street and pointing out widespread economic inequality. It was never clear, though, exactly what – for the most part – Occupy wanted to achieve, or how it would accomplish anything. National polls show Occupy’s approval ratings as low as 16 percent.

Home reoccupations in Portland – Update

Remember Alicia Jackson, the woman who-with the help of Occupy offshoot, Portland Liberation Organizing Council (PLOC)-reclaimed her foreclosed house in North Portland? She’s still holding down the fort in a semi-functional home-for now. PLOC volunteers have committed themselves to being her support net, ready to attack if the bank steps in to take back her home or the police try to arrest her for occupying property that is no longer hers.

The most recent battle PLOC and Jackson took on involved the city’s Water Bureau. On Thursday, the group rallied outside its downtown headquarters, insisting that the bureau turned Jackson’s water back on. To set things straight, City Commissioner Randy Leonard, bureau head, came down to talk to the group face-to-face.

Leonard says he explained to the group that, according to city code, he could not turn the water back on at the house unless the person on record who owns the property requested so. “So I contacted the owner, who isn’t Mrs. Jackson, and they prohibited me from doing so,” says Leonard, adding that the owner said they had intentions to evict and arrest Jackson if she continued to stay.
. . .

[PLOC] Connelly says that for now, Jackson is getting water from her neighbors, and that the group has no intentions of pursuing the issue further. As for the future? “In two weeks, we will go public with another person reclaiming their home. This is just the start,” says Connelly.

Gay Marriage Supporters To March In Raleigh

Occupy Raleigh is joining another citizen initiative to protest North Carolina’s constitutional amendment defining marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman.

Members of Occupy Raleigh and 14th Amendment Equality Projects will march Monday evening in Raleigh, beginning in Nash Square. Occupy Raleigh’s General Assembly passed a resolution against the amendment in February.

CUNY Students Protest Tuition Increases Today for Tomorrow’s Students

“I was on my way to German class,” says Maria, a Macaulay Honors freshman at Hunter College. “But I heard there was a protest.” We were marching on Manhattan’s wealthy Upper East Side toward the office of Matthew Goldstein, chairman of the City University of New York (CUNY) Board of Trustees, to protest tuition hikes and heavy policing of dissent on campus. “The tuition hikes come in gradually, so we will have graduated before the worst of it hits. Really, we’re fighting for future college students, like these ones.” She indicates our recent recruits.

Cyclists occupy Midland car park in bid to “reclaim the streets”

MILITANT cyclists took over a Midland car park yesterday in a pedal power protest aimed at reclaiming the streets.

A convoy of cyclists bought up spaces at the car park in Coventry city centre and set up a radical roadshow.

The group, which goes under the name of Bicycology, had been touring the region, reclaiming the streets from cars and demanding “radical change”.

Spanish indignation

THE FIRST anniversary of the 15th May (15-M) movement in Spain, one of the spontaneous progenitors of “Occupy” groupings across the developed world, has coincided with yet another deepening of the country’s multiple crises. The significance of the 15-M “indignation” movement remains elusive. The big political parties of both left and right dismiss it as incoherent, demagogic and directionless.

Nevertheless, it has survived a year of political turmoil and last weekend’s demonstrations have shown that it is still capable of bringing many thousands of supporters peacefully on to the streets, right across the country.

Recent events have only exacerbated the protesters’ sense of grievance at a political system that facilitated a massive property bubble, then slashed public services to the bone, and now seems helpless to address a jobs crisis that leaves half Spain’s young people out of work. The conservative Partido Popular (PP) government, elected only last November, had assumed that its intensification of an already severe austerity programme would bring Spain’s economy under control and eventually lead to growth. The prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, had insisted that, in at least one respect, Spain was in a much stronger position than other troubled EU states: the banking sector was securely funded, and no public money would be needed to shore up its debts.

What’s behind Putin’s G-8 summit snub?

Some argue that Putin, mindful of a national history that has seen two mighty Russian states collapse under the impact of social discontent in the past century alone, has decided to play it safe and remain at home until it’s clear where the current protest movement may be leading.

“Everyone underestimated the energy of popular protests,” says Sergei Davidis, a leader of the opposition Solidarnost movment. “A lot of people thought it would all calm down [after the inauguration] but that’s not happening, and people are finding new ways to express their civil position. Things like this camp are new for Russia, and the authorities are flummoxed to find that cracking down and arresting people doesn’t stop it. People are saying they don’t want to wait another six years [till the end of Putin's term] to see changes.”

Russia’s Anti-Putin Camp Gets Case Of Jitters – Oped

When police trucks pulled up at Moscow’s anti-Putin Occupy camp on Monday afternoon, activists feared the worst.

“Police trucks are moving in. They might be going to break it up,” Solidarity movement leader Ilya Yashin wrote in a Twitter post, triggering the mass arrival of journalists to the camp and a frenzy of online activity.

But the authorities had no plans, for now at least, to move against the camp, which has become one of the most high-profile symbols of the challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s rule.

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