The OB Media Rundown for 5/3/12

Occupy skirts the MSM – movement attempts to build its own media infrastructure so it doesn’t need to rely on traditional outlets

The stitching together of independent journalists, citizen journalists, livestreamers and tweeters into a cohesive and popular platform seems to be a priority for occupiers over the next few months, as Occupy looks to remain in the headlines (even if they might be their own). “I saw a great sign that I believe sums up what we’re doing,” [independent journalist Sam] Lewis told me. “It said: Don’t criticize the media, organize journalists.”

A May Day alert for the Occupy movement

So, Occupy got it together for May Day – at least, in New York City. You would never know it, though, from mainstream news: those reports were full of what I call the “erectile dysfunction” narrative, the default narrative in American new coverage of mass protest. “Why Occupy May Day Fizzled”, as CNN had it: flaccid efforts, always in “drenching rain”, that may be well-intentioned but have no staying power.

But if you click onto the new site – or if you actually went to the rally held in the late afternoon in Union Square – it was a very different story: thousands of euphoric protesters, a massive sound stage, edgy hip-hop artists who had created Occupy anthems that were euphorically received by the crowd, and representation by dozens of community groups and unions in Manhattan. In other words – if built on further – a power base. showed a coalition of what must be 30 unions and community groups, ranging from the Domestic Workers United, to New York Immigration Coalition, to Veterans for Peace Chapter Three, to the journalists’ union, the National Writers’ Union.

Occupy buries capitalism – Rest in pieces

Seattle Occupiers threw bricks through windows. Oakland anarchists got tear-gassed. Chicago protesters shut down five Bank of Americas. And tens of thousands of students in New York flooded Wall Street. Yet Boston’s mild May Day actions ended with the tamest protest of all – one that was slow and solemn, bizarre and symbolic: an elaborate funeral procession mourning the death of capitalism.

Probably fewer than 100 anti-capitalist activists from Occupy Boston and beyond met on the steps of Copley Square’s Trinity Church around 7 pm Tuesday for this radical act of street theater. They came armed with elaborate costumes (hats, gloves, face paint), giant puppets, masks, instruments, and candles.

“This is a funeral,” said one facilitator via people’s mic, before the procession departed from Copley. “There will be no running, no jogging, no skipping . . . Unless you’re partying with Sacco and Vanzetti.”

Celebrating May Day, in New and Old Ways

For this year’s May Day, the Occupy movement called for the holiday to be a “general strike,” or as they described it: no work, no school, no housework, don’t bank, don’t buy.

Occupy May Day’s tagline, “A Day Without the 99%,” likened itself to the 2006 immigrant marches where millions of Latinos marched in cities across the United States May 1 in their own kind of general strike.

Given the attack on the Occupy camps last fall, the assault on labor, and the spread of Arizona-style anti-immigrant laws, what would happen this May Day was an open question. Would this be the revival of the national Occupy movement, allied with labor and immigrants? Reports from cities around the U.S. tell us that the results are mixed.

Interview w/ Noam Chomsky: #Occupy’s Number One Target Should Be Concentrations of Private Power


When asked what should be the number one target of the ninety-nine percent, to foster change, Chomsky responded: “It’s the concentrations of private power, which have an enormous – not total control – but enormous influence over Congress and the White House. In fact, that’s increasing sharply with the sharp concentration of private power escalating across the elections, and so on.”

Higher Taxes Won’t Discourage Wealthy From Working Harder

Atlas won’t shrug. That’s the view of economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty: They argue higher taxes will not discourage the wealthy from working harder or slow the economy, unlike in Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel, “Atlas Shrugged.” Its hero, John Galt, led a strike by industrialists and others against the government, partly because they thought they were too highly taxed.

“Top 1 percent earners now make 20 times the average, while they made only 10 times the average in the 1970s,” Saez, winner of the John Bates Clark young economist award in 2009, said in an e-mail. “If they worked hard then, they should continue working hard today, even if they are taxed at 50 percent.” The top federal tax rate is now 35 percent.

How to Succeed in Reoccupation Without Really Trying

Lately, I’ve been getting the feeling that Occupy Wall Street’s past successes are starting to go to the heads of some of the people in the movement. We saw the glory days of Liberty Plaza, and also the recent spurt of momentum surrounding the brief March 17 reoccupation of Zuccotti Park in celebration of OWS’s six-month anniversary. But as police departments across the country make it quite clear that occupations of any kind will not be tolerated, the mood has turned sour. The good old days, it seems, are not coming back. Instead, OWS has turned to a series of legal, temporary, roving “sleepful protests” – along Union Square, then outside bank branches and now at Wall Street itself.

More than a few organizers seem to be operating under the assumption that occupation – something comparable to last fall but somehow surely better – is a prerequisite for further political action. Consequently, some of the most talented organizers in New York (as well as, evidently, in Oakland and San Francisco) have been directing a considerable amount of energy into failed reoccupation attempts. When it’s not reoccupying, the movement is celebrating the anniversaries of past successes instead of creating new ones. The more conversations I have with listless, frustrated organizers, though, the more I start to feel that right now this occupation-first logic is entirely backward.

Operation: Entrapment – Cleveland bomb “plot” masterminded by FBI agents

Federal agents announced on Tuesday that they successfully thwarted plans to blow up a bridge in Cleveland, Ohio. What was left out of most reports, however, was that the FBI was instrumental in plotting the potential attack.

As is the case with most terrorist attacks revealed by the FBI, from the very beginning of the alleged crime until this week’s arrests, the charges introduced by federal agents were orchestrated by undercover agent provocateurs.
. . .

Taking a closer look at the federal complaint against the five men reveals that although the suspects are believed to have expressed anti-government sentiments and disdain for major financial corporations, the impetus in the would-be bombing was the urging of undercover agents that had infiltrated a group of friends and encouraged them to consider acts of terrorism. Although the incident is still developing, federal authorities have submitted statements and recordings stemming from conversations their contacts had with the alleged terrorists, and unsurprisingly the mainstream media is largely ignoring one key problem with the federal probe: the FBI provoked members of an Occupy Wall Street off-shoot to embrace terrorist-like crimes despite voicing from the start that they were opposed to such.

Unmasked: Meet The FBI’s Bridge Bomb Plot Snitch

The paid informant who helped orchestrate the FBI sting that resulted in the arrest of five anarchists for allegedly plotting to blow up an Ohio bridge is a convicted felon who was arrested on bad check and theft charges in the midst of his cooperation with federal investigators, The Smoking Gun has learned.

Shaquille Azir, 39, was named in a pair of felony indictments filed in January in Cuyahoga County, according to court records. Azir, who TSG has identified as the informant in the federal bombing case, is accused in the indictments of passing bad checks on July 25, 2011 and December 22, 2011.

Judge losing patience with OPD’s Occupy probes

A federal judge criticized the Oakland Police Department over the sluggish pace of investigations into officer conduct during Occupy protests last year, and gave the city until Monday to submit a plan for completing the probes.

U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, said the investigations – which Oakland has decided to farm out to a private contractor – won’t be finished within a 180-day deadline he imposed for such disciplinary cases.

In fact, the outsourced investigations – which primarily arose from street protests Oct. 25 and Nov. 2 – have not yet begun. The owner of a private firm seeking to do the work told The Chronicle on Wednesday that the city had not yet put the job out to bid.

OPD shifts to ‘smaller scale’ tactics for Occupy

Facing criticism from a federal court monitor for using “military-type” tactics against Occupy activists, Oakland police changed their strategy during Tuesday’s May Day protests – swooping in on individual suspects instead of making mass arrests, keeping their beanbag guns holstered and using tear gas sparingly.

“This was our attempt to handle things on a smaller scale, in hopes of facilitating the majority’s freedom to assemble,” said Sgt. Christopher Bolton, chief of staff to Police Chief Howard Jordan.

Police Adapt Tactics, Use ‘Snatch and Grab’ Arrests During May Day

While the verdict is still out on whether yesterday’s “general strike” represented a significant departure from previous mass rallies and actions held by Occupy groups, one clear development emerged from May Day: police are changing their tactics.

Targeted arrests, through which police attempt to head off large-scale civil disobedience by snatching individual activists out of the crowd, were documented in Oakland, New York and Seattle. Unlike the now-familiar Occupy scene of demonstrators being arrested en masse in dramatic, late-night evictions, May Day protesters in many locales were arrested individually throughout the day, in some cases for crossing over onto sidewalks or, according to local media on the scene in Oakland, seemingly at random.¬† As Gawker reported Monday, the NYPD, with involvement from the FBI, raided at least three New York activists’ homes that day to interrogate them about their May Day plans:

Accusations That Police Tried to Spy on Wall St. Protesters

On Monday, the New York Police Department sent its warrant squads after an unusual set of suspects: people who had old warrants for the lowliest of violations, misconduct too minor, usually, to draw the attention of those squads.

But those who were questioned by the warrant squads said the officers had an ulterior motive: gathering intelligence for the Occupy Wall Street protests scheduled for May 1, or May Day. One person said he was interviewed about his plans for May Day. A second person said the police examined political fliers in his apartment, and then arrested him on a warrant for a 2007 open-container-of-alcohol violation.

Officials have yet to respond to questions about the tactics, but one police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters about police policy, said the strategy appeared to be an extension of a policy used at events where crowd control could be an issue. Before certain parades that have been marred by shootings, for example, the warrant squads have tracked down gang members who live nearby to execute outstanding warrants, no matter how minor, the official said.

Unemployment in austerity-loving Eurozone hits record high 

The 17 countries that use the euro are facing the highest unemployment rates in the history of the currency as recession once again spreads across Europe, pressuring leaders to focus less on austerity and more on stimulating growth.

Unemployment in the eurozone rose by 169,000 in March, official figures showed Wednesday, taking the rate up to 10.9 percent – its highest level since the euro was launched in 1999. The seasonally adjusted rate was up from 10.8 percent in February and 9.9 percent a year ago and contrasts sharply with the picture in the U.S., where unemployment has fallen from 9.1 percent in August to 8.2 percent in March. Spain had the highest rate in the eurozone, 24.1 percent – and an alarming 51.1 percent for people under 25.

Austerity has been the main prescription across Europe for dealing with a debt crisis that’s afflicted the continent for nearly three years and has raised the specter of the breakup of the single currency. Three countries – Greece, Ireland and Portugal – have already required bailouts because of unsustainable levels of debt.

Europe’s jobless tide could sink leaders on side of austerity

Soaring unemployment levels across Europe are fuelling an anti-austerity backlash heading into crucial elections in France and Greece Sunday.

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