The OB Media Rundown for 5/8/12

Will Occupy Create Another World or Another Left?

Occupy has inspired this generation because it unites through creation. It has tasked itself with enacting a world with radically just social relations and decision-making processes as well as a fair way to distribute resources and labor.

However, the creation of a novel enterprise demands a critical prerequisite: humility.

As a young person, my natural reaction is to bristle whenever a veteran activist lectures me on social theory or labor history. Yes, your knowledge is valuable, but only if you intend to relinquish its authority in service of the creation of “another world.” Or else, Occupy risks breaking under the same contradictions of the New Left of the 1960s.

No one can be an authority on a world that does not yet exist. In a leaderless movement, ego, anger and personal priorities must be given up in service of collective needs.

Providence homeless center sought by Occupy closes

The temporary homeless day center that opened as a condition of Occupy Providence’s departure from a downtown public park has closed, but an emergency overnight shelter in the same location has secured funding for two additional months of operation.

Michael Guilfoyle, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, tells The Associated Press the center it operated at Emmanuel House in south Providence closed April 28. He says it was always meant to be temporary.

But he adds that an anonymous donor contributed $20,000 that will allow the emergency winter shelter there to remain open until the end of June.

Occupy Movement Protesters Looking For A Place To Stay During NATO

Occupy Chicago activists are looking for help finding fellow demonstrators find a place to stay during the NATO summit, so they’re asking Chicagoans to let them occupy their houses, apartments, back yards, or churches.

Kyle, a housing staffer with Occupy Chicago, said the group is receiving notice from Occupy supporters around the nation who need a place to stay next week through the end of the Summit.

The Restructuring of Capitalism in Our Time

This book wasn’t yet published when the Occupy Wall Street protests got under way, but The Restructuring of Capitalism in Our Time provides a solid foundation for that movement’s critique of the financiers who brought the global economy to the edge of collapse. William Tabb, professor emeritus of economics, political science, and sociology at the City University of New York, challenges those who claim that the 2008 meltdown was some kind of weird accident that could not have been anticipated. He sees the crisis as a logical consequence of policy shifts dating back to the early 1980s that prioritized the growth and profits of the nation’s financial industry.

Tabb’s book is intended to make the crisis understandable to readers without a strong background in economics. It isn’t an easy read like the latest Michael Lewis best seller, but those who persevere will be rewarded. Tabb draws heavily on the arguments of Hyman Minsky, a heterodox U.S. economist whose major works appeared in the 1970s and ’80s. Presciently, Minsky predicted that financial institutions would accumulate riskier and less stable portfolios with each economic expansion. He argued that strong government regulation – setting strict limits on both the quantity and quality of assets the banks acquired – was the only force that could offset this dynamic, and warned of disaster if the regulators were too timid.

Instead, American political leaders, starting with Ronald Reagan, chose to rebuild the U.S. economy around Wall Street’s financial engines. In the process, the financial-services industry acquired extraordinary political influence, which it retains today. It is thus unsurprising that the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-reform legislation is, in Tabb’s informed opinion, not strong enough to protect us from another Wall Street-created tsunami.

Occupy’s Lockout: Sotheby’s Struggle Enters Tenth Month

Sotheby’s New York auction house made international headlines last week, selling Edvard Much’s painting “The Scream” for a record $119.9 million. But few stories mentioned what was happening outside the auction: picketing by 150 artists, activists, and locked-out art handlers.

“Tonight, the irony persists,” said Sotheby’s worker Julian Tysh. “Sotheby’s is selling a copy of the scream – an artful interpretation of human anguish and suffering – and they’re going to profit tremendously tonight, while at the same time they continue to create anguish and suffering among their own workforce.”

Tysh and 41 of his co-workers have been locked out since August 1, a month before Occupy Wall Street first occupied Zuccotti Park.  Among labor stuggles, the lockout has drawn some of the earliest, and longest-running, Occupy support. Occupy’s involvement has inspired workers, upped the pressure on Sotheby’s, and amplified media attention  – though it hasn’t yet yielded a victory.

Occupation is Gill Tract’s last chance

Each morning for the last two weeks, I have risen with the sun, ready to get to work pulling weeds, tilling soil and planting seeds. Each night I have set up a tent and slept under the stars, reflecting on a long day of work. I am one of the many students, activists and locals who have taken back the Gill Tract, a public tract of farmland currently administered by the University of California that has been left underutilized for far too long. Before our project began, I had never planted a seed, but in the past two weeks, I have become a farmer.

Because the Gill Tract hosts some of the best agricultural soil left in the East Bay, Albany residents, farmers and local activists have contested use of the tract for the last 15 years, communicating directly with the university about their visions for a community-supported farm. For 15 years, their voices have fallen on deaf ears. Since taking over this land, the university has chopped up the original 104-acre plot and sold piece after piece out to be developed. Now, only 10 acres remain. That remaining plot has been transferred away from the College of Natural Resources and over to UC Berkeley Capital Projects, the branch of the university responsible for securing development plans. Five of the remaining acres are already fated to be paved over for a  high-end senior complex and, ironically, a Whole Foods. While the university has offered to hold public sessions to get input from occupiers and community members about what to do with the remaining five acres, after 15 years of communicating through formal pathways and seeing none of our input implemented, we have no reason to doubt that without our resistance, the rest will soon be gone. This occupation is our last chance to effectively communicate with the university about the future of this land, and it should come as no surprise.

UC Davis sues bank over its decision to pull out of campus

In continuing fallout from the Occupy campus protests at UC Davis, the university has filed a lawsuit against U.S. Bank, alleging breach of contract.
The bank announced March 1 it was pulling out of its UCD campus contract, citing 30 days of disruption during student protests against the bank last January and February. During that period, the bank either did not open or closed its doors early.

Treatment of Davis Dozen perverts justice

According to a press release from the Occupy UC Davis Anti-Repression Crew, on March 29, 11 students and a professor were mailed arrest notices from the Yolo County DA to appear in court on misdemeanor charges. The date of the arraignment is May 10.

Their crime? According to an article by Muna Sadek for the California Aggie, the “Davis Dozen” is facing up to 11 years in jail and up to a million dollars in damages for blocking the entrance to an on-campus branch of US Bank by sitting in front of the door, forcing it to shut down.
. . .

According to the press release, some of the students being charged were also involved in the pepper spray incident last November.

The release theorizes, “But whereas the District Attorney declined to file charges against protesters then, this less publicized prosecution seems to be an attempt to punish the dissenting students, perhaps in retaliation for their pending ACLU lawsuit against the university.”

Philly Police Union wants to oust retired officer for legally wearing uniform at an Occupy Wall Street rally

Lewis’ inexcusable offense? He wore his police uniform to the Occupy Wall Street protest in Zuccotti Park last year.

Occupy DC Shift Their Focus To Local Foreclosures

On an early April morning outside 917 Maryland Avenue Northeast, an unusual confrontation unfolded.  U.S. Marshals stood ready to evict Dawn Butler from the home she has rented for six years.  Standing in their way was a crowd of ‘Occupiers’ holding up a large sign, “Eviction Free Zone.”
“I felt really good because I knew I had a group by my side,” Butler said in an interview with WMAL.  While the group stood firm, Dawn was in Superior Court, where she won a stay of an eviction order.

“Dawn contacted Occupy Our Homes D.C.’s hotline.  Her mother had found out about our group online and recommended us.  We heard her story, looked at her documents, and saw how she was completely silenced.  We collectively organized and took action,” said Rooj Alwazir, an Occupy organizer.

Day of Shame on Sonoma State University – In protest of former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill’s honorary degree

A recently organized coalition of Sonoma State faculty, students and local Occupy activists is calling for a public demonstration of outrage in response to the announcement that former Citigroup CEO Sanford Weill will receive an honorary degree at SSU’s graduation ceremony this year. People all over the country are invited to the Sonoma State campus for a Day of Shame on Sonoma State University. The protest begins at noon on Saturday, May 12, and does not intend in any way to disrupt graduation proceedings. On the contrary, this is an urgent call to defend the integrity of the ceremony and denounce the unacceptable insult that Mr. Weill’s dishonorable doctorate degree represents.

Sanford (Sandy) Weill was the driving force in shattering the Glass-Steagall Act, which for decades had prohibited Wall Street investment firms from gambling with their depositors’ money. Its reversal opened the gates for the housing crisis in 2008, the plague of foreclosures devastating our communities and the economic recession that has stolen our children’s future. Mr. Weill thus enabled the merger that created Citigroup, a major player in the criminal banking practices thereby unleashed. Given his unquestioned responsibility in this, Time Magazine recently included Weill’s name in its list of the “25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis.”

Texas A&M: Students bring national movements to University

A group of students, along with farmers, Occupy protestors and one Austin City Council candidate took to Academic Plaza March 19. Their drive was the protest of a corporate takeover of Texas A&M’s agriculture and food production, one of the nation’s largest collegiate research facilities of its kind.

After passing out fliers and info, the gathered protestors marched to Seminis Inc. headquarters in the Centeq building located on West Campus to bring to light some practices of the local vegetable seed company Monsanto Co. In particular, the group was concerned with its use of genetically modified organisms in food and agriculture products.

Brandishing a 100-page petition with more than 1,500 signatures, the group ordered a “cease and desist” to Monsanto, which listed their crimes including the use of genetic engineering, Roundup and Agent Orange.

Boise State: The way we see it, civically engage or die

Occupy Wall Street welcomed hoards of Millennials who were fed up and cried for change, internet campaigns such as KONY 2012 and the anti-SOPA/PIPA outcry boasted huge followings and youth has become a focus for political campaigns among the nation’s most notable candidates. How, then, can it be said that we are uninterested in civic duty?

The truth lies in responses within the same data sets that were leaned on to prove our lack of involvement.

Taos’ Vista Grande High School students to speak at national conference [NM]

The group from Vista Grande plans to discuss two school projects: “Occupy High,” a voluntary, student-driven class in which a variety of subjects are explored, and a class based on “The People Speak,” by Howard Zinn. Both projects are leadership-focused and teach students to empower themselves through their voices.

Vista Grande teacher Ned Dougherty has helped to develop the weekly Occupy High classes. He said the concept was loosely based on the Occupy Wall Street movement, though with Occupy High, students developed and taught classes based on their own interests while examining the state of education and asking questions about why the American educational system marginalizes some groups and doesn’t work for some students.

Occupy Kalamazoo to finish week-long protest outside of Bank of America downtown

In Monday afternoon’s rainstorm, about 13 people were gathered outside Bank of America on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Rose Street. Members of Occupy Kalamazoo, they were talking about finishing up their week-long encampment outside the downtown Kalamazoo bank.

Remaining were five tents that had been set up since last Tuesday, when the occupation began. Since then, there have been about 25 to 30 people who camped out most nights, said Christopher Wahmhoff, a spokesman for the organization. There were more tents, he said, but many people left during the weekend’s thunderstorms.

OccupySF Condemns Mission Vandalism

Occupy organizers met last week to go over what exactly happened during a May Day eve protest that turned into a riot causing upwards of $150,000 in damages.

“It’s like a murder mystery,” said David Sulnit, a organizer with OccupySF, while trying to speculate on who might have been responsible for the smashing of Valencia street Monday night.

Although organizers all came to the conclusion that no one knows for sure who vandalized neighborhood businesses, some thought that the riot was organized and that the people involved didn’t know the area well.

‘Occupy Wall Street Healdsburg’ to Join National B of A Protest Wednesday

Occupy Wall Street (OWS), Healdsburg is joining the “99% Spring Bank Protest” organized by MoveOn.

Thousands of activists will converge on the Bank of America (BoA) corporate board meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 9.

Meanwhile OWS, Healdsburg members and supporters will do informational picketing at the local branch of BofA in Healdsburg from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in solidarity with this national action.

Occupy St. Louis Protestors Want Jury Trial

Some 25 members of the Occupy movement arrested for curfew violations in a downtown park last fall were in municipal court today.

Occupy attorney Joe Welch says he asked for – and got – permission from Judge Gordon Schweizter to have a jury trial, rather than a bench trial.

“This is a case about the people,” Welch said, “These guys were out there exercising their First Amendment rights in good faith.  It should be heard by the people.”

Montreal mayor announces new rules to stop protesters from wearing masks

Mayor Gerald Tremblay announced Monday that the city will introduce new rules that would stop protesters from wearing masks.

The new city bylaw will be voted on at city hall next week.

The mayor’s announcement follows on the heels of Federal government bill that would give police the power to arrest protesters wearing a mask during a riot or unlawful assembly.

The Truth Behind François Hollande’s Brand Of Socialism

There is a vast gap between what candidates say at rallies and they way they wind up governing. While Hollande promised French voters higher taxes on the wealthy and an end to corporate tax breaks, he worked equally hard to court business leaders, including those in the financial sector. He knows that bond investors will lose faith in French debt if Hollande’s government is seen as fiscally reckless, and he knows that if they do, and France goes the way of Italy and Greece, even the most die-hard socialists will blame Hollande. That’s why he’s promised to balance the budget and reduce the country’s deficit, and that pledge is likely to force him to reconsider his most radical proposals, like the 75% marginal tax rate on top earners. Globalization – in the form of the eurozone – will force Hollande’s unreformed Parti Socialiste to tack towards the center.

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