The OB Media Rundown for 5/17/12

Occupy Women: Will Feminism’s Fourth Wave Be a Swell or a Ripple?

What challenges will a fourth wave of feminism face? What lessons have been learned?

Is a fourth wave of feminism rising from an ocean of unrest? The First Feminist General Assembly taking place in Washington Square Park in New York City the evening of Thursday, May 17, may mark a historical turning point. Emerging out of the Occupy Movement, the event brings together a cross-section of the hundreds of thousands of women already mobilized from a broad progressive spectrum since September 17.

On May Day, women filed into the streets by thousands around the world. Indeed, seen and unseen, woman has been on the front lines throughout the Arab Spring, the uprisings in Russia, in Spain and in London most recently, and within the Occupy movement since September 2011. She’s held countless signs in the marches and protests, walked miles, strategized for hours, written hundreds of emails, facilitated many meetings, moderated many discussions. Now, women are launching the 1st Feminist General Assembly.

Pharmacists In Kansas Can Now Deny Women Access To Birth Control 

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a bill yesterday that will allow pharmacists in the state to refuse to fill a prescription they think could be used to induce abortion. But since the “conscience” measure says they cannot be required to provide a drug or devise that they think “may result in the termination of a pregnancy” – but does not define which drug in particular – the law’s opponents say it could allow a pharmacist to interfere with a woman’s health care by refusing to distribute birth control or emergency contraception.

Women who already have difficulty obtaining contraception may face additional hurdles, according to Julie Burkhart, founder of an abortion-rights group in Wichita, Kansas:

Burkhart said the law could create a hardship for women in small towns with a sole pharmacist who may refuse to fill certain prescriptions. In larger cities, women will have to make sure they go to a cooperative pharmacist, she added.

Austerity Everywhere: Fiscal Drags Coming Out of Great Recession 

The idea that this is just a problem limited to Europe, without consequences for the United States, has been rendered inoperative by simple math. Jared Bernstein took a look at budget deficits in the US year over year and finds that we’re implementing a significant amount of austerity of our own, despite the fragile economic state:
…what matters in terms of foot-on-the-accelerator is the change in the budget deficit, and the fact is we’ve been letting up right as the economy appears to have a slowed a bit. Add state fiscal drag and the growing unemployment insurance cuts and you get the picture.
On the first point, the figure compares the budget deficit so far this fiscal year with the one from the same months of last FY. Last year’s was $150 billion more negative. Annualized, that’s enough to drive the unemployment rate a half-point higher than it would otherwise be.
Then there are all the state job losses, which are also keeping the unemployment rate elevated, as I show here.
Finally, as my CBPP colleague and UI expert Hannah Shaw points out, over 400,000 long-term unemployed persons in 25 high-unemployment states have lost UI benefits so far this year as the extended benefits program is ending in states across the land.

Children’s Mental Health At Risk From Chronic Financial Instability

Drew McWilliams, a clinician and the Chief Operating Officer at Morrison Child and Family Services in Portland, Ore., suggests that amid the underwater mortgages, chronic unemployment and other fallout of the recent recession, a less obvious but equally worrying phenomenon has emerged: the troubled minds of children.

Since the financial collapse of 2008, McWilliams said his clinic has seen an increasing number of children suffering anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Of the 6,000 children that the center treats through in- and out-patient programs, McWilliams said many are trying to cope with the stress borne of persistent financial insecurity.

“Parents are struggling with their own issues and that spills over to their kids,” he said.

Boehner: We’ll Do Debt Limit Brinksmanship All Over Again

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wants Congress to raise the debt limit again later this year “without drama, pain and damage.” House Speaker John Boehner has other ideas.

In remarks at the 2012 Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Boehner will erect the same requirements for raising the debt limit this coming winter that nearly led the country to default on its debt last August.

“We shouldn’t dread the debt limit. We should welcome it. It’s an action-forcing event in a town that has become infamous for inaction,” Boehner will say according to excerpts of prepared remarks provided by his office. “That night in New York City, I put forth the principle that we should not raise the debt ceiling without real spending cuts and reforms that exceed the amount of the debt limit increase…. When the time comes, I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase. This is the only avenue I see right now to force the elected leadership of this country to solve our structural fiscal imbalance. If that means we have to do a series of stop-gap measures, so be it – but that’s not the ideal. Let’s start solving the problem. We can make the bold cuts and reforms necessary to meet this principle, and we must.”

If Only it Were 99 Percent — or Even 80 Percent — Versus the Rich

We’ve heard the mantra over and over. One percent of the richest Americans control 40 percent of the nation’s wealth; and the top 20 percent possess 85 percent of the riches. There’s no question that income inequality continues to grow, especially for minorities. But these numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Yes, statistically the upper 1 percent of the population or perhaps more realistically 20 percent (still a huge wealth gap) — stand in sharp contrast to the lower 80 percent of the population which share only 15 percent of the national wealth, have fewer resources and thus less power than the rich. They should be fighting back. But they aren’t. Many of the 80 percent in the middle- and low-income group are not paying attention, have a false view of who they are, or simply do not grasp that they are part of an endangered species. As a result, they are not a cohesive army ready to do battle for changes that will benefit them.

How else can we explain why we don’t have universal health care? Ask anyone to rank what is most important in life and they consistently place health at the top, ahead of money and achievement. Many of the 80 percent of Americans who collectively have only 15 percent of the national wealth have been brainwashed to believe that all government is bad, despite the fact that state, federal and local governments provide life essentials that would not otherwise be available to them. In fact, according to a recent Cornell University study half of Americans who receive some form of government aid “swear” they don’t get help from the government. That includes aid from programs like Social Security, Medicare, veterans benefits, Head Start, student loans, subsidized housing and more.

Chart: Wages of young college graduates have failed to grow over the last decade 

The wages of young college graduates have fared poorly during the Great Recession and its aftermath. Between 2007 and 2011, the wages of young college graduates dropped 4.6 percent (5.1 percent for men and 4.1 percent for women). As the figure shows, however, the wage growth of young graduates was weak even before the Great Recession began; they have fared poorly over the entire period of general wage stagnation that began during the business cycle of 2000-2007. Between 2000 and 2011, the wages of young college graduates dropped 5.4 percent (1.6 percent for men and 8.5 percent for women).

The Student Loan Debate

You have to wonder if this wasn’t an election year, would the Senate still be battling over how to fund the proposal to keep interest rates on student loans where they are? It’s a shame that a topic so close to the hearts and pocketbooks of so many Americans becomes the stuff of campaign fighting.

With college debt soaring over a trillion dollars, parents and students are up in arms. It’s no wonder why California students have started demonstrating and the Occupy Wall Street movement has taken up the banner too.

The cost of educating our children, who are our future, rises at an alarming rate. Tuition has risen 530 percent since 1982. The average student graduates with $26,000 of debt; a student that is in the eighth grade now will graduate with $44,000 of debt. No matter what the Senate decides, this problem won’t go away any time soon. In 2011, 43 states cut funding to higher education institutions as well as grant money to students. This drives up tuition rates and decreases the total value of financial aid. Students and parents are left to pay the difference.

Anti-NATO protesters use social media to spread message

Tuesday night, as aggressive protesters charged through the streets of Bridgeport, a group of sympathizers had their back. From a Wicker Park loft, a high-tech effort was under way to make sure “the whole world is watching,” or at least they can if they want to.

“Part of it is how much of this will get out there. Not only get out, but is circulating to a new audience?” said NATO Indy Media’s Jimmy Johnson. “It’s fine if all the protesters retweet our stuff, but what we really want is to reach a new audience.”

This is essentially an-anti NATO newsroom, staffed by volunteers, some of whom cover their faces.

Boisterous Protests At Local Banks Stay Non-Violent

Traffic in downtown Minneapolis came to a standstill on Friday as protesters targeted big banks for bringing the economy and the lives of many people to a standstill as well.

“Everyone’s starting to see that the root of a whole lot of our problems whether it’s education or immigration, we’re all coming together around what the banks are doing to our communities.” said Steve Fletcher of Neighborhoods Organizing For Change.

About 500 people from many activist groups began a march from Peavey Plaza on May 11, 2012 to visit local bank headquarters and to generate attention along the way. They blocked traffic, sat down in two major Minneapolis Mall intersections, ignored police orders to leave and answered the order with chants, incense and Aztec dancing.

Woman Fights to Support Occupy in Peace

A Minnesota woman claims in Federal Court that her community forced her to remove signs in her yard supporting Occupy Wall Street, while allowing others to publicize their support for the troops or other causes.

Robin Hensel, a 58-year-old grandmother living in Little Falls, says the trouble started in September 2011 when she placed signs in her yard expressing support for the Occupy Wall Street movement and other causes.

After the village received a complaint because of “disagreement with her political viewpoint, it ordered Hensel in November to remove all “illegal” signs from her yard, threatening fines if she did not comply, according to the complaint.

Medics Trained For NATO Protests

NATO protesters won’t need to run far to find medical help during the Summit this weekend.

After a 20-hour training seminar organized through Chicago Action Medical, nearly 35 Chicago residents and medical providers are now equipped to handle the medical needs of protesters at the upcoming NATO Summit.

Chicago Action Medical, a grassroots organization that has been in the city since 2002, offers unique and basic medical care to fellow activists. The organization, which has worked with post-Katrina victims and various Occupy movements, held various training sessions for any resident wishing to participate over the last couple weeks.

Judge Issues Temporary Restraining Order Against ‘Occupy the Farm’ Defendants

An Alameda County Superior Court judge in Hayward issued a temporary restraining order Wednesday against the 14 defendants named in a lawsuit brought by the University of California against protesters who took over university-owned land in Albany last month.

Judge David Hunter’s ruling prohibits the defendants from entering, occupying or farming on the Gill Tract themselves, or helping others in any of those activities. Another hearing is scheduled for May 31, when the judge will decide whether to order a preliminary injunction against the defendants.

Occupy protesters take on AC Transit fare transfers

Occupy Oakland, working with Alameda-Contra Costa Transit bus operators, launched a campaign Wednesday asking drivers to honor transfers in ways that will ease the financial pain felt by the system’s riders.

Before the last round of service cuts, it was AC Transit policy to honor transfers for up to three hours. Currently, transfers are only valid for two hours.

At the campaign announcement outside the Fruitvale BART station this afternoon, Occupy’s Cicily Cooper said that service cuts and fare hikes have made life harder on both riders and drivers, who often sympathize with their riders’ financial hardship.

Cooper said the service cuts disproportionately affect communities of color, as the disappearance of routes has meant riders in poorer neighborhoods need to take additional buses to reach the same destinations.

Busloads of protesters head to Chicago for NATO Summit

Look out Chicago. Here comes Occupy Wall Street.

More than 40 protesters from the original occupation of New York’s financial district that inspired a national movement left for Chicago on a bus in the early hours of Wednesday.

Singing protest songs and planning a series of actions against the upcoming NATO Summit, they’re due to be the first of 17 busloads of protesters coming from across the country when they arrive in Chicago tonight.

Long-running Frankfurt ”Occupy” camp cleared

German authorities on Wednesday cleared out a group of protesters who have camped for months in front of the European Central Bank, ahead of huge anti-capitalism protests expected at the weekend.

Some of the demonstrators hurled paint at police who were moving them on, after they ignored a request to leave voluntarily, said an AFP reporter at the scene. There were a dozen or so arrests, according to a police spokesman.

However, the clearing of the “Occupy Frankfurt” camp was largely peaceful, with around 50 demonstrators sitting stubbornly on the ground in a show of passive resistance.

Police uproot Moscow encampment, battle protesters

Russian riot police cleared a Moscow park early Wednesday of a week-old encampment considered a local version of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and hours later clashed with anti-government protesters outside a Stalinist skyscraper in a different part of town.

The dispersal of several dozen protesters at the encampment, which they called Occupy Abai, preceded a nighttime confrontation at Kudrinskaya Square, where several hundred protesters had gathered to voice opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

UK police protest ‘criminal’ cuts

It’s not just the Occupy and 15m movements out on the streets lately. 34,000 police in the United Kingdom are protesting salary cuts and loss of jobs.

With worries over public safety, as well as cuts in staff, salaries and benefits, the police are currently policing their own protests on the streets of the United Kingdom.

The protesters claim that with less police out on the streets, people will no longer feel safe. However criminals will feel safer with the lack of policing.

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