The OB Media Rundown for 5/7/12

Austerity backlash: Sarkozy out in France, ruling parties lose in Greece

French and Greek voters delivered a sharp rebuff to their governments in national elections Sunday, raising questions about the viability of the European Union’s austerity program intended to preserve the euro as Europe’s dominant currency.

By a 52 to 48 margin, France elected Francois Hollande its first Socialist president in 17 years, replacing the right-of-center Nicolas Sarkozy, who became the first French leader to be denied a second term in 32 years.

In Greece, voters delivered a stinging judgment against the two ruling parties that had supported austerity agreements with the EU, cutting their support by nearly half and raising questions about whether they would be able to cobble together a new government. The biggest winners in Greece were the Radical Left coalition, which finished second, and the Golden Dawn party, a neo-fascist group that won parliamentary seats for the first time, with nearly 7 per cent of the votes.

How Occupy Wall Street Has Already Won

The idea that policy is the only way to make change is precisely the ideological assumption that Occupy subverts. The Occupy movement is non-hierarchical because it recognizes that it’s not leaders we need. The changes necessary to provide human rights to the masses and safeguard the earth can not be outsourced to policy makers, but will require that individual people begin to build the world they wish to live in.

Student loan battle heads to Senate

The Senate is the newest arena in the election-year face-off over federal student loans, and both sides are starting out by pounding away at each other.

With Congress returning from a weeklong spring recess, the Senate plans to vote Tuesday on whether to start debating a Democratic plan to keep college loan interest rates for 7.4 million students from doubling on July 1. The $6 billion measure would be paid for by collecting more Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes from high-earning owners of some privately held corporations.

Republicans want a vote on their own bill, which like the Democrats’ would freeze today’s 3.4 percent interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans for one more year. It would be financed by eliminating a preventive health program established by President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

A College’s Endowment Portfolio Should Match Its Mission

Germans have a vivid expression to describe the cold-war mentality that continues to divide their country: the “Mauer im Kopf”-literally, the wall inside the head. The Berlin Wall may have been dismantled, but for many German citizens the mental divisions between East and West remain very much at work in social and cultural life. In the wake of the Occupy movements on American campuses, the metaphor can be extended, rather more crudely, to the symbol of the university gates. At Harvard, where the administration locked down the main campus in response to the Occupy protests last fall, the gates leading to Harvard Yard may have been reopened, but the mental gates seem to remain very much closed when it comes to discussions of the investment of the university’s $32-billion endowment.

This spring, Harvard’s Undergraduate Council organized a town-hall meeting to discuss responsible management of the endowment. The event, which took place on April 5, was organized in response to demands for the integration of environmental, social, and governance criteria across the portfolio by a new coalition of students, staff, and alumni called Responsible Investment at Harvard. The group, which has won endorsements from more than 25 campus organizations, has started a Fair Harvard Fund to encourage the university to create a “social choice” option for donors who want to see their gifts invested in closer alignment with the university’s overall mission. It has also called for greater transparency in endowment investments.

NYPD Detained Protester On May Day In Case Of Mistaken Identity

The warrants were for charges brought in 2007, but they were actually brought against someone with a different birth date and address-and name-than this Shawn Carrié, a fact discovered after police attempted to interrogate Carrié.

When he arrived at Police Headquarters in Lower Manhattan, Carrié said there were several other people waiting to be processed, but he skipped ahead of them. He said he police quickly led him to a room filled with boxes of files where he was alone, except for one officer staring at him from a table.

“And he said, ‘Go ahead, sit down,’” said Carrié. “He asked me, ‘Do you know why you’re here?’” said Carrié. “And he said, ‘Tell me about what you were doing today.’”_Carrié said he didn’t say anything. The NYPD declined to comment, and would not verify Carrie’s account of events.

Winston-Salem picket and march in support of NC tobacco farmworkers

At 9:00 a.m. a group of various organizations, including the FLOC, Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers (MSFW), the Youth and Young Adult (YAYA) Network of the National Farm Worker Ministry, Occupy Winston-Salem, along with religious leaders, gathered inside the R.J. Reynolds Headquarters to attend their shareholders meeting. Inside, as the CEOs discussed all the massive profits they’ve accumulated in the course of a year, FLOC continuously disrupted their meeting by standing up, calling for a “Point of information,” and asked serious questions which R.J.R. refused to tackle, in order to pressure them into actually meeting with FLOC to discuss and come to an actual agreement with tobacco farmworkers.

Quebec’s students challenge free market education

In a statement titled “Toward a Social Strike” issued by CLASSE, the students made clear that although the movement has focused on the fee hike, “it is not unaware that this measure is integrally linked to a larger project affecting elementary and secondary education, the healthcare sector and the unfettered development of natural resources”.

So not only does CLASSE wish to defeat the fee hike, but it also wants to “challenge the economic imperative that informs the policies of our governments”. This economic imperative is neoliberalism, which “clearly and definitively involves the dismantling of public services aimed at privatising what remains of the commons”.

Neoliberalism doesn’t just affect the Quebecois education system – it is a capitalist ideology that has spread across the world and other sectors of society.

Angry Greeks reject bailout, risk euro exit

Greek voters enraged by economic hardship caused by the terms of an international bailout turned on ruling parties in an election on Sunday, putting the country’s future in the euro zone at risk and threatening to revive Europe’s debt crisis.

The latest official results, with over 61 percent of the vote counted, showed the only two major parties supporting an EU/IMF program that keeps Greece from bankruptcy would be hard pressed to form a lasting coalition.

Legislation would prohibit masks during riot [Canada]

The government will support a private member’s bill that would make it a crime to wear a mask or disguise during a riot, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Sunday.

The Concealment of Identity Act would create two Criminal Code offences with maximum penalties of five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.

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