The OB Media Rundown for 5/25/12

Occupy Activists use ‘rapid response’ text messaging system to defend home from sheriff’s eviction [MN]

Occupy had boasted a presence at the home for 25 days, but only four or five activists were there guarding the front and back doors at 4044 Cedar Ave South when the sheriffs arrived at around 3:30 p.m. The activists quickly employed a rapid-response text messaging system that Occupy Homes had just put into effect, and within an hour, approximately 100 of their friends had arrived. Occupy activists cordoned off the street with signs and banners, the sheriffs deputies retreated, and Minneapolis police officials replaced them. By 5 p.m. the confrontation was diffused once it became clear that the city police would not seize the Cruz home.

Reflecting on Cleveland’s experience after passing the nation’s first responsible banking law two decades ago

Q: Is there any way you can gauge whether this law has reduced unsavory lending practices, prevented foreclosures or pushed banks’ support low-income communities in other ways?

A: We were hard hit by foreclosures. Our foreclosures were subprime loans and a lot of those were not purchase loans. But a high percentage of the subprime loans came in through the home repair door. So, they were targeting minorities, seniors and people for whom English was a second language. And they were targeting people with high equity. The city introduced an ordinance in 2002 which caused a lot of predatory subprime lenders to not have a Cleveland address. As we looked at foreclosures and defaults, our depository banks had a fairly low inventory of REOs [Real Estate Owned properties] and foreclosures in their loan portfolios with the city, where they were working on development projects and development activity.

‘Among the rebels’ – Nine camps, dozens of interviews and two months among the dissidents of Occupy

[Boston] When I arrive, much of the community is gathered in front of a towering spot-lit brick wall to hold the evening’s general assembly. The facilitators, a young German-American named Anna and a middle-aged man named Greg, first spend ten minutes explaining the general assembly process.

A young man named John stands up. His army issue cap covers his eyes: “The safety group proposes that we remove a certain individual, Henry [from the camp].” Henry is an alcoholic who is at times violent. Despite interventions and counseling from members of the camp, Henry is extremely disruptive. As the group debates the proposal, the hypocrisy becomes apparent: How can an avowedly inclusive community defend forcible removal of a member, especially in a public space?

In the next hour-and-a-half, the conversation vacillates between booting Henry out and allowing him to stay-illuminating both the success and failure of the camps.

In hundreds of parks in towns and cities across North America and the world, Occupy camps vitalize debate by “occupying” what might otherwise be abstract conversations with real people and real problems, often leading to real solutions. At the same time, the energy needed to care for the homeless, addicts, and mentally ill-members of the community most affected by the nation’s wealth disparity-undermines the progress of the movement.

Lawsuit decries raid on Occupy ‘People’s Library’

The city of New York violated the Constitution by raiding an Occupy Wall Street site last year, destroying the “People’s Library” and seizing its 3,600 books, a new lawsuit charged Thursday.

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan demanded at least $50,000 in damages, enough to cover the $43,000 value of the books and other costs, along with several thousand dollars in punitive damages.

The books were taken in the early morning hours of Nov. 15 when police raided a Manhattan park where the group had gathered for several months to protest income inequality in the United States. Among the books seized were classics by William Shakespeare and Fyodor Dostoevsky, as well as various autobiographies, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s own, “Bloomberg on Bloomberg,” the suit said.

Occupy Wall Street-Affiliated Group Sides With Federal Judge Jed Rakoff In SEC Feud

A group affiliated with Occupy Wall Street has come to the defense of a federal judge who is on the ropes in his fight with the Securities and Exchange Commission over whether he can reject a settlement he thinks is unfair.

In an amicus “friend of the court” brief filed earlier this week, the Occupy-associated group argues that Manhattan federal district Judge Jed Rakoff acted within his rights when he threw out a $285 million settlement between the SEC and Citigroup late last year. Rakoff said in November that the “neither admit nor deny” language left him no way to determine whether the settlement was fair.

While the well-reasoned brief is notable — a sign, perhaps, that some affiliated with the Occupy movement are developing into a more traditional advocacy group — it likely won’t swing momentum in favor of Rakoff. At every other turn, the judge is losing the fight to exert judicial authority over agreements reached between the SEC and defendants like Citigroup.

Has the FBI Launched a War of Entrapment Against the Occupy Movement?

With the high-profile arrest of activists on terrorism charges in Cleveland on May Day and in Chicago during the NATO summit there, evidence is mounting that the FBI is unleashing the same methods of entrapment against the Occupy Wall Street movement that it has used against left movements and Muslim-Americans for the last decade.

Simply put, the Cleveland and Chicago cases appear to be instances of the federal government foiling its own terror plots. Two days before the Cleveland plot was supposedly thwarted, David Shipler, author of Rights at Risk: The Limits of Liberty in Modern America, presciently described in the New York Times the mechanics of the FBI trap about to be sprung. Shipler wrote that FBI terror stings typically begin by targeting “suspects for pure speech” such as comments, emails and “angry postings” on the Internet. The suspects are then “woo[ed] into relationships with informers, who are often convicted felons working in exchange for leniency, or with FBI agents” working undercover. Some suspects are “incompetent and adrift, like hapless wannabes looking for a cause that the informer or undercover agent skillfully helps them find.” Noting that the FBI is “cultivating potential terrorists,” Shipler asked, “would the culprits commit violence on their own?”

SEC trials increase 50 percent as execs refuse to settle, fight lawsuits instead

The wave of litigation has two main sources: more complex cases stemming from the 2008 financial crisis and a related increase in lawsuits filed against individual executives.

The collapse of the housing market and resulting financial turmoil involved complex securities for which there was little legal precedent. In addition, the agency has brought more financial crisis lawsuits against executives — more than 50 so far — and individuals are often inclined to fight claims that could damage or end their careers.

Those cases, which have required years of investigation, are central to the agency’s effort to restore its reputation after being battered for more than three years by lawmakers, judges and investors who claimed it hasn’t been tough enough in holding Wall Street to account.

The US Government Is Running A Massive Spy Campaign On Occupy Wall Street

Interest in the Occupy protesters was not limited to DHS and local law enforcement authorities. The most recently released correspondence contains Occupy-related missives between the DHS and agencies at all levels of government, including the Mayor of Portland, regional NOC “fusion centers,” the General Services Administration (GSA), the Pentagon’s USNORTHCOM (Northern Command), and the White House. Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the PCJF, contends that the variety and reach of the organizations involved point to the existence of a larger, more pervasive domestic surveillance network than previously suspected.

These documents show not only intense government monitoring and coordination in response to the Occupy Movement, but reveal a glimpse into the interior of a vast, tentacled, national intelligence and domestic spying network that the U.S. government operates against its own people. These heavily redacted documents don’t tell the full story. They are likely only a subset of responsive materials and the PCJF continues to fight for a complete release. They scratch the surface of a mass intelligence network including Fusion Centers, saturated with ‘anti-terrorism’ funding, that mobilizes thousands of local and federal officers and agents to investigate and monitor the social justice movement

Occupy your union bureaucracy: An insider’s call

Among vast portions of the labour aristocracy, solidarity is replaced with a stasi-like defence of the status quo; loyalty is redefined to mean blind allegiance to the governing officialdom, rather than to the dues paying membership and their constitution; and workplace and union democracy is no longer a goal, but a potentially treasonous nuisance. To enforce these redefined “values” the bureaucracy purges non-conforming ideas and individuals in a swift, coordinated and merciless way. Not the kind of modus operandi folks like me signed up for. Definitely not the kind that is capable, in its current state, of building a better world.

These are just the internal symptoms or mechanisms, if you will, by which the workers’ army finds itself today, for the most part, in utter denial of the severity and urgency of the threat to working people, our democracy, and our world. This is how they manage to remain virtually silent against the ever- encroaching corporatist police-state, bankster control of our economies, the violations of our civil liberties, and the intensifying wars of aggression, while desperately clinging to electoral parties that will do little more than further enforce the status quo, hopefully sparing some space or security for the labour bureaucracy that supports the party most.

Sadly, this is not the story of just one union. Over the past 20 years I have been a member, activist, leader, national and international union representative in six private and public sector trade unions and I can solidly say that the sun is about to set on the labour movement unless the people take back their unions, specifically their centralized labour bureaucracies. Occupy them.

New study reveals Millennials’ activism spurred by personal experience and disillusionment

From the Occupy movement to the immigration marches to civil rights rallies, each gathering has included a large number of young people, especially people of color, who are making their presence seen and their voices heard.

For anyone who has ever wondered why there seems to be an increase in social consciousness among young people these days, a new report released by the Applied Research Center titled Millennials, Activism and Race sheds light on their motivations, the social justice issues that have stirred their passions and their attitudes towards race, government and representation.

Climate Change Will More Than Triple Annual US Heat-Death Toll

In an average summer in the United States, there are 1,332 heat-related deaths. But climate change will make that number rise to 4,608 by the end of the century, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council. In total, the US can expect 150,000 deaths due to excessive heat by 2100, the report projects.

Police make arrests in protest at downtown Portland post office

Police say 12 people were arrested in downtown Portland on Thursday during an Occupy Portland-affiliated protest of cuts and closures in the U.S. Postal Service.

About 80 people chanted, sang and called for the resignation of Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe at the University Station Post Office at 1505 SW 6th Ave.

The crowd arrived after 5:30 p.m., and said they disagreed with recently announced plans to close almost 250 mail processing plants nationwide beginning this summer, leading to reduced postal service and jobs.

Occupy the country club?? “99 percent” protesters get creative with GOP Rep. Dan Lungren

In a sign that the “99 percent” movement may be getting more creative – and perhaps more mainstream - in their movement, a crowd of parents, kids and workers from Sacramento took their protest right to the champagne-and-chardonney crowd at the swank Sequoyah Country Club Thursday in an effort to embarrass their GOP Rep. Dan Lungren.

The group of about 40, a coalition of working folks, labor reps, activists, “occupied” the Oakland hills country club at around 6 p.m. as Lungren’s campaign re-election fundraiser was in session there. The Congressman, meeting with supporters upstairs, never emerged, but that didn’t stop the crowd.

Montreal-like student protests likely in Ontario

There is a likelihood of the student protests in Montreal growing into a mass movement in other cities across Canada, experts say.

“It is in fact growing because it is about tuition fees which is an issue that affects all students across Canada and it is also about the issue of social inequality,” said Dr. Vincent Mosco , an expert on social movements from Queen’s University.

“It is a big concern to the occupy movements and I noticed recently the biggest demonstration in Montreal the other night was supported by other demonstrations in New York by the occupy people,” said Mosco.

Occupy movement spreads to Mexico

May 24, 2012 (IPS) – The “Occupy” movement has spread to Mexico, where thousands of university students have taken to the streets, bringing fresh air to a superficial and flat election campaign and forcing political parties to pay attention to a long-ignored segment of the population.

“Our movement is demanding the democratisation of the media, and accurate, unbiased coverage,” said Sofía Alessio, one of the protesters, who belongs to the organising committee at the private Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM).
. . .

The student protests, which are common during election campaigns, are taking aim at “the heavy concentration of the electronic media, which limits freedom of expression and the right to information,” Luís Vázquez, a researcher at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), told IPS.

“It is necessary to democratise the media, to avoid an authoritarian regime. That has become the central demand,” the academic said.

Welcome to London, Austerity City

After a year of Occupy and trade union demonstrations in London, the sense of unfairness is growing as support for the Government erodes.

Austerity measures are taking effect just as Britain enters its first double-dip recession since the 1970s. The budgets of Tower Hamlets and the deprived boroughs of Hackney and Newham were cut the most among London neighbourhoods last year, while wealthy Richmond-upon-Thames’ budget was reduced the least.

Income inequality among working-age people has risen faster in Britain than in any other wealthy Western country since 1975. Nowhere is the divide more evident than in Tower Hamlets and Canary Wharf. Many of Canary Wharf’s 95,000 workers travel to and from the skyscrapers on trains that pass under or over the 240,000 residents of Tower Hamlets. A four-lane highway and railway separate Canary Wharf from the rest of the borough. There are guarded checkpoints for cars.

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