The OB Media Rundown for 5/5/12

A GOP convention protester’s playbook covers pepper spray to prison time

Each person in an affinity group would have a job. Someone might be a driver, another in charge of supplies, like water. Several needed to be willing to get arrested, if it came to that. Someone else needed to be willing to handle the affairs of those who were taken into custody, like walking the dog or arranging bail. Part of being in an affinity group was protecting it from infiltration by a police informant, which made them cagey about their plans.

Maria’s group, which also included several unemployed people, a couple of students and a few homeless, was trying to lay the groundwork for a march in August by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, a movement to abolish poverty. It was starting to look like a giant obstacle course.

Not only was Tampa trying to create a vast zone around downtown with special rules for protesters, there was also a federalized zone around the convention that was protected by the U.S. Secret Service. It would be difficult to get close to the delegates.

Wright said the Poor People’s Campaign wasn’t going to bother getting a permit. “We’ve already decided we’re marching regardless,” he said.

‘The economic elite has launched a class war against us and they have indicated every intention of seeing it continue’

This epic of financial capitalism has produced little real wealth but it has been an effective tool for shifting existing wealth from those who produced it to a small group of plutocrats via a state / financial nexus. The only proposed solutions emanating from the plutocrat / state are for more of the same policies that have destroyed the American economy, polity and culture. The sad truth is that the economic elite benefit from our declining wages and the looting of our social resources in direct proportion to what we lose. The economic elite has launched a class war against us and they have indicated every intention of seeing it continue.

Current circumstances are understood in a general sense by most of us and in some great detail by a significant number. Legal scholars and current and former criminal prosecutors have identified a large number of actionable financial, war and environmental crimes committed by the financial and political elite that have gone un-prosecuted and unpunished. A social division exists where the rich and the politically connected have impunity for theirs crimes while the police and the surveillance state are used as tools of social control and political repression against the rest of us. Were redress available through the established order, criminal prosecutions of culpable elites would already have taken place.

Meanwhile, a set of concrete economic proposals that would immediately improve the lives of those most affected by the current economic crisis, as well those of the long-term dispossessed, exists without being enacted and with no impetus for enacting them from either major political party.

Economists’ Malign Influence on Taxes

Free market economic “literature” as economists call it – and their papers frequently are works of fiction – gave succor and intellectual respectability to the decades of deregulation and tax cuts that have bankrupted the country. Congress is compromised, to be sure, but lobbyists and members need economic studies as cover for what they are doing.

The United States is a plutocracy, with an income and wealth distribution that rivals South America’s worst cases, but economists refuse to acknowledge that these outcomes are attributable to ill-advised public policies on taxation, regulation, trade, and education spending over the last several decades.

Economists bleat about “globalization” as though it were inevitable rather than a set of deliberate policy choices. Markets are political creations, so results produced by them are not inviolable or free from question. And they don’t always produce equilibrium.

What It’s Like When the NYPD Raids Your Apartment At Dawn– Because Your Roommate is in Occupy

I chatted briefly with musician Justin Remer, whose Brooklyn apartment was raided by the NYPD on Monday morning in an incident that was first reported on Gawker and sure looks from all angles like a pre May Day intimidation tactic. I was curious about how the experience felt.

“At around six-fifteen I was woken up. I sleep in a lofted bed, and there’s a police officer standing in my bedroom shining a flashlight in my face. He woke me up and said ‘get down in the living room,” he said. Remer dressed, grabbed his ID as requested, and joined his housemates in the living room.

He said the officers–about six of them–took the residents’ identification and began trying to match them with a list of warrants.

US media belittle issue of inequality

If you read the major newspapers in New York city on May 2, you would find the protest had little coverage, a big contrast to their enthusiastic and lengthy reporting on smaller-scale protests in other countries.

The New York Times only had a 300-word story in the middle of an inside page emphasizing the inconvenience caused to traffic, the clashes and arrests, surprisingly making no mention of the real issues raised by protesters. None of the Times’ columnists, such as Thomas Friedman, bothered to write anything about this domestic revolt.

The New York Post, a Rupert Murdoch paper, was probably the most opinionated in such coverage. Its headline “Protests pretty much a joke, despite skirmishes with cops” shows its attitude to the underprivileged in American society. Its one-sided news report was supplemented with an editorial titled “Goodbye, Occupy.”

However, this is wishful thinking by the New York Post as the movement won’t go away anytime soon as long as the political, social and economic inequality in the US keeps worsening.

Brooklyn College Students Protest Tuition Hikes

Nearly 100 students protested scheduled tuition hikes at City University of New York’s Brooklyn College on May 2 outside of President Karen Gould’s office on the second floor of Boylan Hall, according to student activists. CUNY security officers arrested two of the protesters, and brought them to the 70th precinct.

The students, riding on the crest of post-May Day and Occupy sentiment, were upset with the projected 15 percent annual tuition increase of $300 year for the next five years, adding up to $1,500 cumulatively. Student protesters argued that the hikes will add to the debt and financial burden of this already largely working class student body.

“We have started to mobilize the students against this injustice,” said Saar Shemesh, 20, who is receiving her B.A. in Visual Politics and Social Change at Brooklyn College.

CEO pay has risen 127% more than worker pay over last 30 years, says new study

Depressing study of the day says: Over the last the 30 years the average inflation-adjusted pay for working Americans has risen 5.7%. In that same time, the average inflation-adjusted pay for CEOs has risen 725%.

When Occupy Wall Street began last fall the question “What do they want?” was tough to answer. The protests didn’t issue any specific demands and while they were really effective at raising awareness that something was wrong, no one could say exactly what it was. Was it high unemployment? Wall Street greed? What does Wall Street greed even mean specifically?

This new study, as reported by Think Progress, should provide a crystal clear talking point: Wage inequality. Things like unemployment rates and worker productivity are constantly fluctuating and affected by such a confusing web of factors it’s hard to say exactly what they should be, or to attach a sense of moral imperative to them. But when average CEO pay has increased 725% and average worker pay has increased 5%, you know something’s wrong.

Psychiatric survivors prepare to occupy Canada’s largest psychiatric facility

For years they’ve faced unending prejudice. Shunned by society. Locked away in psychiatric facilities. Forcibly medicated. Abandoned by their families and society at large.

Because they’re different. Because they don’t conform to psychiatry’s definition of “normal” behavior. And for that they’re punished. Labeled in dozens of ways in an ever growing “bible” of psychiatric disorders.

The 2000 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders describes 283 disorders which is almost three times the number reported in 1952. And that number continues to grow.

Being anti-state does not equal being pro-freedom: Misogyny and the imagined “Circle of Protection” in progressive communities

The suggestion that women in progressive movements should depend on a “Circle of Protection” that exists within those communities is one that, from my perspective, misses the fact that women are often violated and assaulted by the very people who are meant to protect them. It is not uncommon for assault to go unreported in anarchist and activist communities specifically because women are discouraged from calling the cops, essentially leaving these men free from accountability.

When women are abused by those who claim to be their protectors and then are told not to involved the police because the police are the real oppressors, where do they go?

Beyond May Day, Frustrated Immigrant Movement Forges Ahead

The waves of protests and rallies on May Day 2012 had barely cleared out when police happened upon more than 100 undocumented immigrants locked in isolated houses near the Texas border. After being trapped for days deprived of food and water, they were turned over to the border patrol. May First is supposed to be a day to remember the struggles of labor and the poor, but these migrants were forgotten, like so many of the border’s economic refugees.

May Day has historically had a pro-migrant message, from its inception in the 19th century in working-class Chicago, to its revival in 2006 as a day of protest for immigration reform. But this year, even with the added momentum of Occupy Wall Street, the pro-immigrant mobilizations were relatively modest, according to advocates, though the struggles facing immigrants are growing more dire.

While the Occupy banner blanketed much of May Day, demonstrations in several U.S. cities incorporated immigrant rights groups, including protests against Arizona’s draconian immigration law SB 1070, currently under review by the Supreme Court, and the Obama administration’s sweeping deportation policies. New York City’s May Day Solidarity Coalition brought together groups that link labor, immigration, and economic justice, like the New York Taxi Workers Alliance and Domestic Workers United.

A Protest Group’s Name Change Stirs Some Debate

What’s in a name? The biggest group planning demonstrations at the Democratic National Convention in September in Charlotte, N.C., has decided to change its name from the Coalition to Protest at the DNC to the Coalition to March on Wall Street South — Building People’s Power at the DNC — spurring some debate within the protest movement.
. . .

The coalition currently says that it has endorsements from a wide variety of activists and groups, including political groups, union locals, antiwar groups, and the Occupy movements in several Southern cities, including Occupy Charlotte and Occupy Durham. Organizers told some members in an e-mail that “many found in our outreach that the name of our coalition had become a barrier to bringing more organizations on board.” But some activists feared that by shifting the emphasis away from the Democrats, the new name would give the party a pass.

“It shows a real lack of integrity, I think, to let Democrats off the hook,” said Cindy Sheehan, the well-known antiwar protester whose son, Casey, was killed in Iraq, adding that the name change was making her rethink her plans to attend protests in Charlotte. “They are as much the party of war as the Republicans, the party of Wall Street,” she said.

Rahm’s ego party: More NATO security and transportation details released

Chicagoans will have to endure major downtown road blocks, travel restrictions and museum closures when the NATO summit comes to town later this month, federal and city officials announced Friday afternoon, following months of speculation and rumor about how heightened security during the world meeting would affect day-to-day life in the city.

Stretches of Interstate 55 and Lake Shore Drive near the McCormick Place summit site will be blocked off to the public beginning at midnight on Saturday, May 19, according to the U.S. Secret Service, which is heading up security plans for the event.

“There will be – so I don’t minimize it – inconvenience,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said when asked about the security plans earlier on Friday. “They’re making those plans to accommodate people in – that are in close proximity, for the residents, and I don’t minimize there will be an inconvenience.”

‘Occupy’ plans to address Corvallis council about moving city money out of Wells Fargo

Occupy Corvallis representatives issued a press release saying they will bring their “Move our Money” campaign to the Corvallis City Council. The council meets at 7 p.m. Monday upstairs at the downtown fire station, 400 N.W. Harrison Blvd.

“Occupy Corvallis has been put on the official agenda in order to present our case to compel the City of Corvallis to move the city’s money into local financial institutions, including setting new criteria for the city’s future requests for proposals for city bank deposits,” said Occupy spokesman Eric Coker in an email.

Occupy Youngstown to protest foreclosure

Jim Villani, owner of the business and an Occupy Youngstown member, failed to pay his property taxes from 2007 to 2009, an amount he said was $4,088.67. The Mahoning County treasurer sold a tax lien on his business to American Tax Funding, a Florida company that buys liens.

ATF began foreclosure proceedings against Pig Iron Press in 2010, but that was stayed when Villani filed for bankruptcy. Villani then withdrew the bankruptcy request and said he paid $9,000 to ATF last year.

But the company had billed him for $16,500 for the unpaid taxes and penalties, and refiled a foreclosure case against Villani in March. Villani and Occupy Youngstown object to the compounded late fees, ATF not telling the building owner of his debt before foreclosure proceedings, offering a payment schedule, and that the $9,000 was an effort to meet his debt obligation.

Occupy protester gets jail time [CA]

After a five-day trial in March, a jury found Andrew Fisher, 26, guilty of two counts of resisting or delaying an officer. Fisher was sentenced last week. He is one of 44 defendants charged with a crime related to the Occupy protests.

The Occupy protests began on Wall Street in September and spread across the country. Fisher was arrested on Nov. 16 after he tried to pull a female protester away from officers after she crossed a police line. Fisher refused to let her go when ordered, according to a news release issued Friday from City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s office.

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