The OB Media Rundown for 5/18/12

The poor: Targeted for extraction by lenders and governments

Lenders, including major credit companies as well as payday lenders, have taken over the traditional role of the street-corner loan shark, charging the poor insanely high rates of interest. When supplemented with late fees (themselves subject to interest), the resulting effective interest rate can be as high as 600% a year, which is perfectly legal in many states.

It’s not just the private sector that’s preying on the poor. Local governments are discovering that they can partially make up for declining tax revenues through fines, fees, and other costs imposed on indigent defendants, often for crimes no more dastardly than driving with a suspended license. And if that seems like an inefficient way to make money, given the high cost of locking people up, a growing number of jurisdictions have taken to charging defendants for their court costs and even the price of occupying a jail cell.

Suburban protesters converge on NATO summit

Protesters throughout the suburbs have been speaking out against NATO’s current war policy – especially concerning the Middle East.

Cameron Halas, 26, a history major at Harper College in Palatine, is an Iraq War veteran. He joined the Army in 2003 right after high school and served four years, one of them in Iraq.

Halas said he decided during his tour the military strategy was unethical and immoral. He went from being an enthusiastic supporter of the war effort after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to an anti-war protester.

Nurses’ pre-NATO rally expected to draw thousands

Thousands of anti-NATO demonstrators are expected to converge at a downtown plaza Friday for a rally that promises to be a prelude to a much larger march Sunday, when world leaders begin two days of talks. Meanwhile, many office buildings will be shuttered after workers were told to stay home amid warnings about heightened security, snarled transportation and the possibility of unruly protests.

National Nurses United officials have said they expect about 2,000 nurses to attend Friday’s rally, where they will call for a “Robin Hood” tax on financial institutions’ transactions to offset cuts in social services, education and health care. But city officials have said the rally likely will draw more than 5,000 because of a performance by former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, an activist who has played at many Occupy events.

The union had scheduled the rally to coincide with the G-8 economic summit, which originally was to be held in Chicago but was moved to Camp David, Md. Midwest Director Jan Rodolfo said the nurses decided to go forward with the rally in the hope that their message would reach a worldwide audience.

Protesters camp outside shuttered Woodlawn Clinic

Occupy Chicago protesters were camping outside a closed mental health clinic on the South Side Friday morning.

Demonstrators were outside of this mental health clinic, demanding that it reopen and camping out overnight. Most were still sleeping underneath tarps and blankets and had a campfire going at 5:30 a.m.

The city recently closed the health center as part of a plan to slash the budget. The city says closing Woodlawn and five other centers like it will save $3 million. Officials claim that mental health services will go on uninterrupted. Demonstrators say people who need the help the most will suffer.

NATO Protesters Claim Police Conducted Unlawful Raid

NATO protesters say they are being harassed and unlawfully arrested and even detained ahead of the summit.

The group Occupy Chicago says it is disgusted by the way some of their allies were treated. They say police busted their way through the doors to several apartments in a building near 32nd and Morgan.
The National Lawyers Guild says nine people were arrested as police sought out anti-NATO activists. The group also says police showed residents a document they said was a search warrant but that the paperwork was never signed by a judge.

5-18-12: Occupying the G-8

The members of Occupy Frederick and Occupy Baltimore are taking the lead in organizing those protests.  Today, at the public library in Frederick, a kind of alternate G-8 is being held: the Occupy G-8 People’s Summit.  There are also protests planned in Thurmont, a small town close to Camp David.

Sheilah speaks with Tom Dodge, a member of Occupy Frederick, and Patti Borda a reporter for the Frederick News-Post, who’s now at the protests in  Thurmont, near Camp David.

She also talks about what this bodes for the future of the Occupy movement with Kevin Zeese, one of the organizers of G8 Peoples’ Summit in Frederick. He’s also the co-director of the website and a member of the Occupy Washington DC movement.   Also joining them is Beth Emmerling, a member of Occupy Baltimore, and one of the organizers of Thurmont  protests.

Md. town extends hand to G-8 demonstrators

Demonstrators are descending on the rural Maryland mountain town of Thurmont in hopes of influencing world leaders at a global economic summit at nearby Camp David.

Members of lead organizer Occupy Baltimore say they expect dozens of sign-waving protesters Friday and perhaps hundreds on Saturday to line the streets with a broad variety of messages for officials of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations.

Occupying Farmland for Organic Food and Fairness Exposes University Elitism

In an email sent out in early May, Adbusters urges recipients to “occupy the future;” that is, “to describe, build and sustain the post-capitalist future we want to live in.”
Dayaneni concurs with that sentiment. “People ask me what they can do to support. I say, take more land. Occupy a library, a clinic, whatever, plan it right and [re-launch] it appropriately and at scale. We need to prove that we have the ability to self govern. This is the new moment of occupy, not tit for tat, not cat-and-mouse games with cops, but full-scale intervention. Occupy the Farm is one of the first to-scale interventions.”
Projects like Occupy the Farm also create a sort of sovereignty and allow a space for larger political expression where people can articulate their demand for a more egalitarian, just society through work done with their own hands, argues Finley.

Is a Fight in Democratic Party Worth It?

The American spring has begun, and Occupy in cities across the country are on the move again. There’s a big debate takes place within the Occupy movement. One part of the debate is how to keep it independent and not just an adjunct or lever of a campaign to reelect the Democratic Party. But there’s also a debate going on just how to participate in the elections. And what about some of the candidates who are running, certainly in some of the primaries, who are progressive and share a lot of the values and ideas of the Occupy movement? To what extent will those people, activists in the movement, get involved in those primaries and in the campaign that follows?

FCC: Break up media monopolies

There was nary a peep in mainstream newspapers and cable news channels when tens of thousands of people took over their city streets during the Occupy movement’s May Day protests, as part of a global citizen-led resistance against austerity and corporate-controlled government.

News came out this week showing that corporations made a record $824 billion last year, and CEOs made 231 times more than their workers in 2011. Instead of being like their independent counterparts and reporting on the fact that the income gap in the United States is wider than even in Uganda, Ecuador and Rwanda, the conventional media was too busy covering Newt Gingrich’s departure from the tiresome 2012 horse race.

While it’s easy to be a snobby media connoisseur and turn up our noses to the mainstream media, this problem is too grave to ignore and too easy to solve. The reason the bulk of the most important information won’t ever reach the exact people the Occupy movement is reaching out to, is because 90 percent of all media Americans consume is owned by six corporations. To put that in perspective, 232 executives at GE, NewsCorp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner and CBS are deciding what 277 million Americans will watch, read and listen to every day.

Addressing Income Inequality through a Credible Wage Policy

A wage policy is a measure aimed bolstering wages, particularly those at the bottom end of the distribution for the macroeconomic benefit of enabling individuals to demand goods and services. There may be broader effects as well. Critics will claim that wage policy, especially if it assumes the form of as minimum wage will have employment consequences, which is particularly problematic at a time of high unemployment. Moreover, they will claim that it is a minuscule segment of the labor market that actually earns the minimum wage, and therefore it is of no real consequence. Both of these arguments are wrong on the face of it. Data over the years show little evidence of serious employment consequences. An analysis of data over more than forty years shows that the minimum wage may have actually had more benefit to the middle class than commonly supposed. I, for example, found that based on an analysis of census data from 1962-2008 that the minimum wage was actually beneficial for at least up to 70 percent of the wage distribution, which makes it a middle class issue. I created ten wage contours — wage intervals beginning from the statutory minimum wage up to 25 percent above in each year — and found that in each year that the minimum wage was increased, the median wage in each contour also rose. In years that there were no increases, median wages throughout remained flat. A statistical regression analysis further showed there to be no adverse employment consequences.

Occupy Present… Single Payer Health Care [OR]

Occupy Salem will present a forum featuring activist Rosalie Pedroza sharing her views on single payer health care. The forum will take place at 7 pm on Monday, May 24th at the office of Oregon PeaceWorks, 104 Commercial St. NE, in downtown Salem.

Police detain 400 at Occupy protest in Frankfurt

Police in Germany have temporarily detained some 400 demonstrators during largely peaceful protests by Occupy activists.

Frankfurt police said up to 1,000 people turned out at some of the unauthorized protest rallies scattered across the city Friday. They say protesters erected barricades, staged sit-ins and tore down traffic signs.

The protest group calling itself Blockupy seeks to stage protests over the weekend and has called for barring access to the European Central Bank, which is located in the downtown business district of continental Europe’s biggest financial hub.

Opposition activists rally during an anti-Putin ‘occupy’ protest

Russians unhappy with Vladimir Putin’s presidential return after a four-year stint as prime minister have been increasingly turning to creative forms of protest that slip through legal loopholes and do not require formal city sanction.

Quebec’s season of discontent could spread

While the Quebec circumstances are unique, no one should presume that the rest of the country and, in particular, major cities like Toronto, are immune to the kind of social unrest that has overtaken Montreal.

Quebec does have a distinctive history of cyclical social crisis. Most of its elder statespersons earned their stripes by successfully challenging the status quo at the time of the 1960s Quiet Revolution.

A decade later, the language battle that led to Bill 101 was fought in the streets long before it was won in the National Assembly and students who are the parents and the grandparents of many of today’s demonstrators were at the forefront of the movement.

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