The OB Media Rundown for 5/4/12

Occupy the American Psychiatric Industry solidarity rally in Boston, Saturday, May 5th, 2 pm

MPOWER in MA is planning a May 5th action in solidarity with Philadelphia activists. Our “Occupy the American Psychiatric Industry” will take place on May 5, 2012 at 2 pm at the Arbour Hospital in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston: Arbour Hospital, 49 Robinwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02130

Occupy the American Psychiatric Association

On May 5th, a reform psychiatric organization called Mindfreedom has organized a rally in Philadelphia and a march to “occupy” the American Psychiatric Association, which is holding its ritzy, drug industry funded yearly convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. MindFreedom states that it represents those who say they have been harmed or even helped by organized psychiatry but find that recent proposed changes to the DSM will lead to increased practices of over or wrongful diagnoses and over-medicating with drugs that carry severe side effects. Among the scheduled speakers will be activist attorney Jim Gottstein, founder of Psychrights, who lobbies against forced institutionalization and drugging and exposed the dangers of atypical antipsychotics frequently prescribed for individuals with autism.

Autism parents have trouble enough attending their own dental appointments much less rallies but the way this event is organized, there is nothing to stop anyone from carrying a sign protesting the proposed changes the DSM’s autism category. There is also an occupy rally in Boston on the same day in solidarity with the Philadelphia event.

PHOTOS: Boston May Day 2012 Rally at City Hall Plaza

Following a march from Copley Square, over 100 activists from Occupy Boston, Boston May Day Committee, Student Anarchist Federation, and several other progressive organizations held a traditional May Day rally at Boston City Hall Plaza on Tuesday at lunchtime. Many attendees then proceded to an immigrant march from East Boston to Everett later the same afternoon.

There was a moderate police presence, no incidents and no arrests. The event was one of several May Day 2012 activities in Boston. Organizers said steady rain kept numbers low throughout the day. (Open Media Boston)

May Day marked by protests

In Boston, 200 people gathered at Boston’s City Hall Plaza for a rally sponsored by the Boston May Day Committee. Despite heavy rain and cold weather, the rally was a spirited event that included speakers and musical performances.

The rally was co-chaired by PSL member and ANSWER organizer Jennifer Zaldana, along with Tim Larkin from Socialist Alternative. At the rally, City Councilor Charles Yancey read excerpts from a City Council resolution he sponsored, declaring May 1, 2012, International Workers Day in Boston.
Other speakers included Bishop Texeira, a faith leader and immigrant rights organizer in Brockton, Geoff Carens with the Common Struggle and the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (AFSCME Local 3650), Elizabeth Dake with Occupy Boston, Romina Akemi, a Chilean student activist, and Isabel Espinal, with the Green-Rainbow Party. Jake and the Infernal Machine played a song for the crowd and Sergio Reyes played the Internationale.

The 86 million invisible unemployed

There are far more jobless people in the United States than you might think.

While it’s true that the unemployment rate is falling, that doesn’t include the millions of nonworking adults who aren’t even looking for a job anymore. And hiring isn’t strong enough to keep up with population growth.

As a result, the labor force is now at its smallest size since the 1980s when compared to the broader working age population.

Media Bored With Occupy – and Inequality: Class issues fade along with protest coverage

As Occupy slowed down for the winter, though, would corporate media continue to talk about our increasingly stratified society without a vibrant protest movement forcing their hand? The answer, unsurprisingly, is no.

As mentions of “Occupy Wall Street” or “Occupy movement” waned in early 2012, so too have mentions of “income inequality” and, to an even greater extent, “corporate greed.” The trend is true for four leading papers (New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, L.A. Times), news programs on the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC), cable (MSNBC, CNN, Fox News) and NPR, according to searches of the Nexis news media database. Google Trends data also indicates that from January to March, the phrases “income inequality” and “corporate greed” declined in volume of both news stories and searches.

Rebranding Occupy to defend the Democratic party and to conceal the class war of the 1 percent against the rest of us

WITH THE 99% Spring kicking into full gear, with the help of MoveOn’s PR firm, BerlinRosen, the 99% Movement brand is suddenly appearing everywhere. MoveOn is promoting weeks of protests at upcoming corporate shareholder meetings. Two of the biggest protests so far were at Wells Fargo in San Francisco on April 24 and General Electric in Detroit on April 25. A search on Google News for the two protests turned up dozens of references to “the 99 percent movement” in outlets including CNBC, Reuters, the Chicago Tribune and The Detroit News, overshadowing mentions of the Occupy movement. (One report labeled the 99% movement the “Ghost of Occupy Wall Street.”)

For anyone involved in Occupy Wall Street, the menu of upcoming corporate targets is an appetizing line-up, such as Wal-Mart, Bank of America, Peabody Coal, Amazon, WellPoint and Occidental Petroleum. Noticeably absent are politicians, however, which is probably intentional. The 99% Movement employs the ideas and language of Occupy Wall Street towards ends diametrically opposed to it: support for Democratic Party candidates, up to and including President Obama. Protesting corporations but not the politicians who work hand in hand with them is a crafty way to redirect Occupy’s energy away from the Democratic Party, which is as much an object of Occupy Wall Street’s ire as the Republicans.
. . .

Ruben claims the 99% Voter Pledge also drew inspiration from Occupy Wall Street, but the pledge is so watered down from the original OWS Declaration–”Make the wealthiest 1 percent pay their fair share”; “Create good jobs now”; “Stop cuts to vital services”; and “Represent people, not corporations”–that Obama could endorse them, which again is probably the point.

Van Jones has been leading this push to rebrand candidates. Days after Occupy Wall Street was evicted from Zuccotti Park last November, he claimed the next phase of the movement was “recruiting 2,000 candidates to run for office now under this 99% banner.” (More recently, Jones said we should pitch talk of class war overboard because it is dragging down the movement. He claims, “The real enemy is not the 1 percent,” while skirting the reality that it was class politics from below which filled the sails of the Occupy Wall Street movement, propelling it onto the national stage.)

House Republicans Want To Strip LGBT, Immigrant and Native American Protections From Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is facing another struggle to stay intact, this time in the House of Representatives. The House GOP looks likely to rewrite the domestic violence prevention bill, which passed the Senate last week, with the aim of stripping provisions for Native Americans, undocumented people, and the LGBT community – the same provisions that Senate Republicans tried to remove from the bill.

But despite the Senate’s ultimate passage of the bill – which included the support of 14 Republican senators, including all of the female Republicans – the House is ready to fight these provisions again.

Why the argument that declining wages are offset by increased ‘purchasing power’ due to lower prices is bunk

Since 1994, the consumer price of apparel, in real terms, has fallen by 39 percent. “It is now possible to buy clothing, long a high-priced and valuable commodity, by the pound, for prices comparable to cheap agricultural products,” notes Juliet Schor. Cheapness – and the decline in durability that has accompanied it – has triggered an astonishing increase in the amount of clothing we buy. In the mid-1990s, the average American bought 28 items of clothing a year. Today, we buy 59 items. We also throw away an average of 83 pounds of textiles per person, mostly discarded apparel, each year. That’s four times as much as we did in 1980, according to an EPA analysis of municipal waste streams [PDF].

Most consumer products have followed a similar trajectory over the last two decades. Walmart has done more than any other company to drive these changes, though other retailers have since followed its model. Where once we measured value when we shopped, Walmart trained us to see only price. Its hard bargaining pushed manufacturers offshore and drove them, year after year, to cut more corners and make shoddier products. As union-wage production jobs and family-owned businesses fell by the wayside, many Americans could no longer afford anything but Walmart’s cheap offerings.

Women: Occupy the Left

Women’s rights have always been a bit of an add-on for the left. At this spring’s Left Forum, only fifteen of 440 panels touched on any feminist issue, broadly understood. New Left Review is famous, at least in my apartment, for its high testosterone content (despite being edited by a woman); ditto Verso, the left’s flagship publishing house, where women authors are as rare as Siberian tigers. And it’s not just the left-women’s rights, in fact women period, tend to get set aside whenever economics or “class” is the focus. Occupy Wall Street’s initial declaration, a long list of grievances from colonialism to the maltreatment of “nonhuman animals,” mentioned women’s inequality only in the context of the workplace-no mention of the systematic inequality that affects every area of life. Occupy Austin went further: a paper put out by its Language of Unity Working Group describes Occupy Austin as “radically inclusive,” open to everyone from disaffected Tea Partiers to Greens and anarchists, as well as homeless people and “soccer moms looking for a cause” (not too patronizing!) and highlighting only “the things that bring people together.” “For instance, you will never see Occupy approach the issue of abortion. It is too derisive (sic). Rather than championing one side, the huge innovation of the Occupy movement is its focus only on issues which unite people. We care most about people and care what most people support.”

Hmmm. Let’s leave aside for the moment the question of whether caring “most about people” is compatible with silence on state-mandated transvaginal ultrasounds, personhood amendments and so on-let alone forced childbirth. I would think that when one in three women has at least one abortion, and when virtually all women have used birth control, we are talking about issues that affect “most people”-including most men, who benefit greatly from women’s ability to control their fertility.

Latest Batch of DHS Occupy Documents Contains New Details About Monitoring of Protest Movement

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released another batch of documents Thursday morning in response to Truthout’s wide-ranging Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request pertaining to the agency’s role in monitoring the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protest movement.

The materials show that DHS and other federal law enforcement agencies under DHS’s control received and disseminated numerous internal intelligence reports and threat bulletins about OWS’s activities and monitoring of the group was widespread.

Homeland Security Infiltrates Senior Citizen Protest

On November 9, 2011 – two days after a dramatic street protest by 1,500 seniors and Occupy Chicago against social service cuts – the NOC Fusion desk sent out a request from the Chicago police department seeking information from “state Fusion Centers” and requesting coordination and information-sharing about Occupy encampments and arrest charges in New York, Oakland, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. Denver, Boston, Portland OR, and Seattle.

This request was subsequently recalled by officials in DHS, who directed that it should instead proceed through “law enforcement channels.” Boston Police Intelligence/Homeland Security reported that they were following up in direct communication with Chicago.

In an apparent effort to facilitate the coordination but to take it off the books of the DHS, the Duty Director of the NOC wrote that he would reach out to “LEO LNOs (liason officer) on the floor” to assist. As we described in a previous report, LEO is FBI’s nationally integrated law enforcement, intelligence and military network.

The PCJF reports that the documents released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests “are likely only a subset of responsive materials . . . [that] 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.”

NATO protest organizers working to hold broad coalition together after G-8 relocation

At the last minute, President Barack Obama moved the G-8 economic meeting to Camp David, the secluded presidential retreat in rural Maryland, where demonstrators will be kept far away. Chicago kept the NATO meeting, which will focus on the war in Afghanistan and other international security matters, not the economy.
That left activists with a new challenge: persuading groups as diverse as teachers, nurses and union laborers to show up anyway for a cause that might not align with their most heart-felt issues.
“Our fear was that [they] would not march with us because their agenda was primarily economic,” said Joe Iosbaker, a Chicago anti-war activist and member of the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty Agenda.
He said protest organizers have been working to link U.S. war spending to economic cuts at home to pump up turnout. The message, Iosbaker said, is “starting to sink in: NATO is the armed wing of the 1 percent, [and] there is a war on the poor to serve the wars [elsewhere].”

Diverse interests join for protests at NATO summit

Protesters associated with multiple causes are expected to join demonstrations during the NATO summit in Chicago on May 20. Here are some of their concerns:

- Anti-war coalitions: Believe the United States and the rest of NATO unnecessarily interfere in the affairs of other countries and go to war for less altruistic reasons than establishing democracy and restoring peace.

- Occupy movement: Opposed the bailout of banks and other large firms and austerity measures imposed by the government, which they say hurt the poor and working class while big corporations reap profits.

- Unions: Oppose what they see as attempts to undermine workers’ rights to organize, the reduction of wages and policies that inhibit worker safety. Some, including nurses’ unions, support “Robin Hood” tax on banks and other financial institutions.

Media Malfeasance: Corporate News Downsizes OWS, Downplays Murdoch Ruling

In corporate media, the chain of command is clear. There are lots of reporters, editors, researchers and photographers, but the bosses end up telling the story from the top down, and employees are commonly gagged by non-disclosure agreements from revealing the story behind the fairy tales that go to press.

This, of course came the same day the head cheese of the NY Post, WSJ and Fox News was declared “not fit” to manage the News Corp media empire after a year-long inquiry by Parliament. The news barely made a ripple in the US media matrix.

This brings us right back to the main contention behind OWS. Every day, in many ways, wealth is used to gain unfair advantages in debating social or political issues, preventing the public from making informed decisions.

Massive May Day Turnout Highlights Media’s Disconnect From Reality

In my recap of the May Day event in New York City yesterday, I briefly summarized the inaccurate crowd estimations published by major publications like Reuters and the New York Daily News. Reuters declared the protest was a “dud,” though eventually walked back that diagnosis to make the exact opposite claim that the resurgence was “far from being a dud,” and the Daily News absurdly claimed that mere “hundreds of activists across the U.S.” participated in the marches even though in New York City alone, tens of thousands of people took to the streets.

But that was only skimming the surface of bad establishment media coverage. CNN published a screed from Amitai Etzioni, a professor at George Washington University, titled “Why Occupy May Day fizzled,” that appears to make the argument that Occupy failed because capitalism still exists.

Part of the issue seems to be that certain media outlets believe the protest failed because there wasn’t a general strike, mostly because general strikes are illegal in the United States. No Occupy Wall Street representative I ever spoke with genuinely believed there was going to be an across-the-board general strike, which is why the group started to rebrand the event as a day of “economic noncompliance” that they continued to call a general strike. The title was kept for a number of reasons, including to draw as many laborers into the fold as possible and also to bring attention to the fact that workers showing mass solidarity in the United States is illegal. Which is kind of insane.

4 May Day Stories the Corporate Media Missed While Fixating On Obama’s College Girlfriend

A series of May Day tweets from Reuters encapsulated the utter failure of much of the American mainstream media to understand the Occupy movement. First the outlet declared the spring resurgence to be a “dud” based on a rainy morning of pickets in midtown Manhattan attended by scattered dozens or even hundreds. Then an hour later a tweet arrived saying that Occupy had come back and was not in fact a dud because tens of thousands converged in Union Square.

But the true stories of the day lay in between these snap assessments. The problem was, they weren’t being reported.

The corporate media has rarely had a comfortable relationship with mass social protest movements — covering amorphous groups of activists is not as sexy as, say, covering a soundbite-filled debate. In social movements one finds complexity, often no clear hierarchy and differences within the ranks. And yet, all this nuance and diversity is an opportunity for fascinating coverage, an opportunity that has been largely missed.

NYC Official Got TIME To Yank Photo Of Councilmember’s OWS Arrest, Lawsuit Alleges

Councilmember Rodriguez was arrested and allegedly roughed up by police on the night of the Zuccotti Park eviction. Among other things, the lawsuit alleges that city officials successfully “intervened” to get Time magazine to remove from its website a dramatic photo of Rodriguez being arrested.

Attorney Leo Glickman, who represented Councilmember Rodriguez after the arrest, tells us, “That night [of Rodriguez's arrest] we saw on Time magazine’s website photographs of the story, with Ydanis being held down by police in riot gear. We sent the link around, and then noticed that within hours it was changed. A source at Time Magazine told us that someone called from the city asking them to change it because it was inflammatory. It was replaced by a very innocuous photo of Ydanis speaking to a police officer about something completely unrelated. This lawsuit will set out to prove that the city pressured Time magazine to remove the photo.”

Filipinos join thousands on May Day in New York City

In a historic May Day uniting immigrant workers organizations, labor and a revived Occupy movement, Filipino domestic workers and youth joined thousands on the streets to demand a more just and more equitable world for all sectors of the working class. In a united rally they marched down Broadway that ended at Wall Street. They carried the message: “A Day Without the 99%: Legalize, Organize, Unionize!”
Filipino organizations under the banners of BAYAN-USA and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) joined the annual protest actions in New York City as a contingent. These organizations played vital roles in the months of preparations leading up to the day, in conjunction with the May 1st Coalition for Workers and Immigrants Rights, who have traditionally organized the Union Square rally and march since 2006.

Hundreds march with Occupy Detroit on ‘May Day’ for international workers

The Occupy Detroit movement returned to Grand Circus Park on Tuesday, May 1 just over five months since their permit to camp out expired in late November 2011.

Concerns highlighted by protesters were many, with perhaps the most telling sign being one that read “War on Iran = $6 a gallon,” encompassing issues relating both to the economy and the growing anti-war movement in the U.S. Organizations involved include Southeast Michigan Jobs with Justice, the Moratorium Now! To Stop Foreclosures & Evictions, Peace Action of Michigan, local unions and more. Issues relating to immigration reform, support for education and against closing schools, and against emergency managers in Detroit were also discussed by the crowd, which came from a variety of ethnic backgrounds including African Americans, Latinos, and some Arab Americans.

Four occupy protesters arrested at Des Moines foreclosure auction

Twenty occupiers chanted and sang at the Polk County Sheriff’s foreclosure auction. The protest began right after the auctioneer began describing the first of 29 homes up for sale.

Protestors shut down the auction for almost two hours. Des Moines police responded and arrested four people, issuing citations to each.

Brooklyn students hold mass walkout, protest education system

Although Paul Robeson High School is slated to be phased out and replaced by 2014 due to poor performance, its students have not stopped fighting for their education. In early April, Paul Robeson students called for a mass student walkout on May 1, a day historically designated to fight for labor and immigrant workers’ rights that originated in the United States and has spread around the world.

“Dear New York City, we the students of public education are here to inform you about the injustice that is taking place in our school system,” reads the initial letter and call to action, signed by the Student Leadership of Paul Robeson High School and posted on YouTube. “The privatization of our school system, the budget cuts, lack of appropriate leadership, malicious closings/phasing out of schools against the communities’ wishes, cellphone policies, overcrowded classes and abuse of SAFE rooms, over-policing of our schools and the criminalization of our youth” were the charges.

Sheriff Attempts To Avoid Occupy Protests By Evicting Atlanta Family Fighting Foreclosure At 3 AM

An Atlanta-area family facing foreclosure was evicted early Wednesday morning as sheriff’s deputies attempted to avoid activists affiliated with the Occupy Our Homes movement. Christine Frazer received a foreclosure notice on her home from One Corporation in October 2011 and has been fighting it in federal court ever since.

Protesters set up camp outside her home in January, but around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, only one protester was present. At that point, between 25 and 30 sheriff’s deputies descended “from every direction” on the home, a group spokesperson said, and evicted the family.

Occupy Wins Home in North Minneapolis, Defends Latino Home in South

“My parents had to work so hard for this house,” teary-eyed Alejandra Cruz told an Occupy Homes rally this week. “It’s unjust for the banks to take away our dream. My parents brought us here really young, and we’ve learned how to fight against injustice ever since we came to this country. It’s been a struggle for us every single day since we got here.”

Alejandra and her brother David, two Minneapolis college students and activists for the Dream Act, took the Occupy Homes pledge this week to stay in the house which their Mexican immigrant parents purchased and are in danger of losing to foreclosure. They are among the first Latinos in the Twin Cities to take the Occupy Homes pledge and defy the banks.

This week Occupy Homes notched another major victory when US Bank helped embattled North Minneapolis homeowner Monique White renegotiate her mortgage. White, an African-American single mother who works two jobs, was the first person who appealed to Occupy Homes for help, last November.

Occupy protestors claim officers gave them drugs [MN]

Occupy protesters claim officers are offering them drugs and watching them get high.

The officers are all part of a training program run by the Minnesota State Patrol, but the agency denies any “dirty dealing”.

The protestors first made the outrageous claims public in a YouTube video. They say officers from out-state came to downtown Minneapolis and asked them to take part in a drug training program.

A new loan for Monique White? [MN]

Monique White’s long foreclosure struggle could be nearing victory.
White said Thursday that U.S. Bank was working on paperwork for a new, reduced mortgage on the north Minneapolis house where she lives that could keep her family in their home. Separately, a Hennepin County district judge put White’s eviction on hold.
White has been a hero to the local Occupy Homes movement since last fall, when demonstrators camped in and around her house. She’s been a focus of numerous demonstrations, including two at the home of U.S. Bank CEO Richard Davis, and at least one petition drive.

European investors send Europe Inc a stiff warning on executive pay

EUROPEAN investors appear to be taking cues from the Occupy movement.

Half of Aviva’s shareholders voted against the UK insurer’s 2011 executive-pay plan, which included an 8.5 per cent rise in pay for chief executive Andrew Moss.

That follows rebellions against pay packages in the past week at companies ranging from banks Barclays and UBS, to miner Xstrata, hedge-fund Man Group and support-services company Carillion.

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