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Reports On May Day Protests, Obama Photo-Op In Karzailand, Tutu Speaks Out On Israel, BOA Layoffs

May 2nd, 2012 - by:

May Day, Yesterday and Well Before That

The New School Free Press somehow found and reproduced on its front page an early call for a May Day event, probably in the 1880’s.

“Attention Workingmen,” was the headline..

“MASS MEETING” was the next line.

May 1st, No Work, No School No Shopping. STRIKE

At The

UNION SQUARE, MADISON SQUARE, BRYANT PARK. WALL STREET, ALL STREETS

Good Speakers Will Be Present To Denounce The Latest Atrocious Act of the Police……”

Some things don’t change. When I heard a hard rain hitting my window pane early yesterday morning, I thought, there goes May Day. But, happily I was wrong.

•Fluent: ‘Occupy May Day protests draw thousands’

It was a bit wet and dicey at 8 AM in Bryant Park. There seemed to be a cop under every umbrella in the Park as occupiers straggled in, and started milling around.

Many of the faces were new to me but that was good. It was evidence that OWS outreach was reaching new people. As more people turned up, they answered the call to take part in the 99 pickets that had been organized at banks, finance companies, and Fox News and others bastions of the evil empire,

The police army was out in force, in vans, some in riot gear, others on motor scooters, cars with sirens going and lights flashing and other vehicles dedicated to “preserving order. A big show!

All the cops had plastic cuffs, ready to bust one and all. There had been some arrests already at the Williamsburg Bridge and an apartment housing a group of direct action activists was raided. Here’s the NY Times Slideshow.

All seemed peaceful back in Midtown. I dropped by the BOA and Fox pickets and stumbled into employees at Standard & Poor, The dicey ratings agency who were picketing the McGraw Hill Building protesting the lack of a contract with the Newspaper Guild, Apparently, employees a the New York Times and ABC were also protesting delays on getting contract renewals.

I learned that for a long time, there had only been one working group relating to Labor Unions, but soon there were five which may be why many union people and immigrant rights groups joined Occupy later at Union Square for a March to Wall Street I was told that 30,000 went on the march. I am sure the press will run a smaller number.

Happily, the weather turned. The sun came out, and thousands flocked to Union square for music and speechifying. Immigrant rights groups were there as were unions and other activists. Tom Morello sang Woody Guthrie’s Greatest Hit on his 100th Birthday. The People’s Library was back. The place rocked. The march went off without any real hitches.

I did get a text from an anarchist activist who urged me to go to Wall Street for the “Action.” When I got there, the whole place was locked down. Even 60 Wall Street, the public atrium, an OWS hangout, in a Bank Building, was shuttered for May Day. (It was probably the only building on Wall Street to mark International Workers Day–so much for its public status.) I left around 9 so I missed whatever violence or partying erupted after that.

Between Union Square and the March, I dropped into the New School for a panel about campaign finance outrages with Yale Professor Jacob Hacker and Joe Hagen.

I went with Jeyoung Choi who took notes: I will report on this later. Journalist Joe Hagen was there and spoke about the existence of “Presidential election industrial complex.” Its product is hyper negative advertising. He says, “its point is destruction.”

May Day News

•AlJazeera: Tens of thousands of people take to the streets across the globe, protesting against job cuts and austerity measures.

Truth Out, JA Myerson on New York

Protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement during a
march in New York, May 1, 2012. (Photo: Ozier Muhammad / The
New York Times)Walter Hillegas marches with a scale-model of
the former World Trade Center. “I was there for the first
five days after the tower came down,” he tells me, “doing
debris-recovery and victim-removal. I got sick and lost my
job.” Hillegas is beset by sarcoidosis and lower lumbar
spondylosis, both of which he attributes to his first
responder work in the days after September 11, 2001. “These
guys taught me how to stand up,” he says of the Occupy Wall
Street (OWS) protesters in whose midst he marches. Hillegas
had his day in court this week and won: “Im here to honor
them.”

As I write this, Hillegas and thousands of other New Yorkers
continue to stream into Union Square for this years May Day
celebration, for which OWS has called for a General Strike.
As the afternoon draws on, we approach the days biggest
action, a march from Union Square to Wall Street that will
have the endorsement and participation not just of the
thousands already participating, but of a large list of labor
unions and activist groups to boot.

Susie Cagle, Truthout: May Day Celebrations Continue in Oakland, San Francisco

Last fall’s General Strike in Oakland was a historic event,
as thousands of Bay Area residents converged on downtown from
the very start of the day. Protesters ruled the town and
police were relatively hands off until the evening.

Today, a fraction of that crowd – several hundred at its peak
- has attempted to shut down the town, while police have been
more aggressive.

A few minutes ago, I was going to file a story for Truthout
about how this morning’s fierce but relatively small Oakland
march felt like far less of a “general strike” than that warm
November day. But that was a few minutes ago, and things
change fast here. As I write this, about 100 police are
ordering several hundred Occupy Oakland May Day marchers to
get out of the streets and onto the sidewalks. They’ve fired
tear gas and flash bang grenades to disperse the crowd that
converged when a small squad of police moved swiftly and
aggressively into the march to detain one protester who was
on a bike.

Yana Kunichoff, Truthout: Chicago’s May Day Takes the Streets

The birthplace of May Day celebrated the workers’ holiday
Tuesday with an Occupy-led action against Bank of America and
a thousand-strong march chanting for immigrant rights and
justicia for the 99 percent.

“Unionize, Organize, Papeles Para Todos [Papers for All]” was
the slogan of this year’s May Day, bringing together two
traditional strongholds of the march in Chicago – immigrant
rights and labor.

The morning started out with an Occupy-led action, small in
numbers but big in ambition, which attempted to block the
entrance of a Bank of America branch in downtown Chicago.

A number of activists tried to enter the bank before they
were stopped by police on bikes, and while the police
surrounded the entrance, between five and eight protesters
sat on the ground chanting “Bank of America, Bad for
America,” and “Hey, let’s face it, these banks are f-ing
racist.”

Big Story: BBC: Obama Pledges End of War in Afghanistan

US President Barack Obama has addressed the US public in a prime-time speech from Afghanistan, on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death.

CLG: US secures presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014

The United States and Afghanistan have signed an agreement to extend the US presence in the war-torn country to another decade beyond 2014. Shortly after arriving in Afghanistan under cover late on Tuesday night, US President Barack Obama signed a deal with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai to provide aid, advisers, and support for a period of 10 years after the expected departure of foreign combat troops in 2014, CBS News reported. After signing the deal, Obama went to the US-run Bagram Air Base in eastern Afghanistan, met with US troops, and gave a televised speech before ending his surprise visit.

CLG: President Obama target of Kabul blasts: Taliban

Three huge explosions have hit the Afghan capital Kabul with Taliban claiming that US President Barack Obama was the target of the attacks, Press TV reports.
Explosions and gunfire in Kabul hours after Obama departs Afghanistan 02 May 2012 Violence erupted in a diplomatic area of Kabul on Tuesday, just hours after the departure of President Barack Obama from Afghanistan. There were three explosions, followed by sporadic shooting, in the eastern part of the Afghan capital, Afghan officials told the Associated Press. A Taliban spokesman has claimed responsibility for the attack. Referring to the main road out of Kabul, the U.S. embassy in Kabul issued an “emergency message” on Twitter just before midnight Eastern time: “There is an ongoing attack on Jalalabad Road in Kabul today, May 2, 2012. The situation is uncertain.”

*The Atlantic: How Strong is Al-Qaeda Today, Really?

•Guardian: Twitter first with news of Osama bin Laden’s death via ex-Bush staffer

Michal Brenner Asks: Why The War On Terror Goes On?

We are into the second decade of the “war on terror.” It now ranges from the mountains of Afghanistan to the jungles of Columbia and Mindanao. It has dominated our lives since 9/11. Yet there is no measure of success to gauge progress or to say when it may end. So it is time to take stock of where we are and where we are going.

One thing we can state with certainty: its prosecution on all fronts at home and abroad is relentless. And the costs have been enormous. The payment has been in lives lost or crippled, in trillions of dollars, in prestige and authority dissipated, and in a latent menace to our well-being that the “war” supposedly aimed at eliminating. This endless crusade has achieved a state of perpetual motion generated by a confluence of dogmatic ideology, intellectual obstinacy, cynical political calculation and the exertions of powerful financial and professional interests. Today, the enterprise – or at least 90% of it – looks to be divorced from reality.

What is the threat that justifies these expenditures? Americans’ collective image of the “war on terror” project is of hordes of fanatical Muslims scaling the outer walls of the Republic with turbans, scimitars between their teeth and terrifying cries of “Allah Akbar” on their lips. They are legion. Heroic Americans clad in the colors of the CIA, FBI, and Homeland Security man the battlements – repelling the jihadis with arrows, stones and hot pitch. Some join the uniformed military to sally forth in punitive raids to smite the enemy before he can muster his forces for the next, inevitable onslaught.

All this is sheer nonsense inspired more by scary TV shows and films than deliberate thinking. Yes, there once was a serious terrorist organization that had the United States in its sights. Al-Qaeda succeeded a few times; once on American soil with horrific effect that traumatized the country. That success resulted in large part from the incompetence of the CIA and FBI (especially the latter) and a national leadership that was asleep at the switch.

The military action to root the leadership out of their Afghan base was necessary (although 9/11 was organized from Hamburg). The follow-up intelligence and police operations to degrade the remnants of al-Qaeda, too, were a logical and appropriate response to the danger. Circa 2002 – 2003, no significant threat to the United States still existed.

Over the ensuing decade, the sole attempts at terror in the U.S. have been amateurish forays that were ill planned and on a very small scale. If all we have to worry about is some kid with a Rube Goldberg explosive device concealed in has underpants every ten years or so, we should thank our lucky stars. Instead, our leaders and the terrorism industry work overtime to persuade us that the people who couldn’t get their hands on fire retardant shorts are still out there scheming to plant a nuclear fizzle bomb in Michael Bloomberg’s City Hall.

•Fluent: ‘Wife: Bahrain Activist Keeps on Hunger Strike’

BBC: Suu Kyi is to be sworn in as MP

Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives to take her seat in parliament, after deciding to compromise over the wording of the oath.


Other News

EJC: Rupert Murdoch Deemed Unfit To Run A Media Company (But Not for what it spews every day. Headline in NY Post incites readers against “Occupy Bums.”

A damning report on the hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers concluding that Mr. Murdoch is “not a fit person” to run a huge international company has convulsed Britain’s political and media worlds and threatened a core asset of Mr. Murdoch’s American-based News Corporation. The parliamentary report, issued Tuesday, found that three senior Murdoch executives misled Parliament in testimony. It also alleges that the company sought to cover up widespread phone hacking that Mr. Murdoch’s News of the World, a tabloid newspaper now shut down, used to gather information about politicians, celebrities and other people in the news. It has opened deep divisions between the main political parties, accentuated the challenge Prime Minister David Cameron faces in explaining his past ties to Mr. Murdoch and some of his top executives in Britain, and added new momentum to regulators’ scrutiny of Mr. Murdoch’s controlling interest in the British Sky Broadcasting network, or BSkyB, which is one of the most lucrative Murdoch investments. It also offers new details that suggest further damaging revelations may lie ahead. Sprinkled through its 121 pages are tantalizing references to potentially damaging sealed documents in dozens of lawsuits from the scandal, and an audio recording in police hands of a conversation between two News of the World journalists that may implicate an unnamed Murdoch executive.(New York Times)

• Fluent: ‘Romney, Giuliani face heckler at New York City event’

BOA Layoffs

Washington Times: Bank of America’s plans to trim its workforce are nothing new, but the surprising thing about Tuesday’s news of 2,000 layoffs in addition to the 30,000 the bank already announced is who the new cuts target: The bank’s own top 1 percent of workers. Coming on a day of populist protests that Occupy Wall Street sees as its resurgence, that’s pretty deliciously ironic. Read & Comment

WT: ICE Official Pleads Guilty

In a brazen criminal scheme to defraud taxpayers, one of the highest-ranking officials in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to helping embezzle more than $500,000 from the federal government,

Desmond Tutu, Tampa Times: Bishop Tutu On Boycott of Israel

A quarter-century ago I barnstormed around the United States encouraging Americans, particularly students, to press for divestment from South Africa. Today, regrettably, the time has come for similar action to force an end to Israel’s long-standing occupation of Palestinian territory and refusal to extend equal rights to Palestinian citizens who suffer from some 35 discriminatory laws.

I have reached this conclusion slowly and painfully. I am aware that many of our Jewish brothers and sisters who were so instrumental in the fight against South African apartheid are not yet ready to reckon with the apartheid nature of Israel and its current government. And I am enormously concerned that raising this issue will cause heartache to some in the Jewish community with whom I have worked closely and successfully for decades. But I cannot ignore the Palestinian suffering I have witnessed, nor the voices of those courageous Jews troubled by Israel’s discriminatory course.

Within the past few days, some 1,200 American rabbis signed a letter — timed to coincide with resolutions considered by the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) — urging Christians not “to selectively divest from certain companies whose products are used by Israel.” They argue that a “one-sided approach” on divestment resolutions, even the selective divestment from companies profiting from the occupation proposed by the Methodists and Presbyterians, “damages the relationship between Jews and Christians that has been nurtured for decades.”

While they are no doubt well-meaning, I believe that the rabbis and other opponents of divestment are sadly misguided. My voice will always be raised in support of Christian-Jewish ties and against the anti-Semitism that all sensible people fear and detest. But this cannot be an excuse for doing nothing and for standing aside as successive Israeli governments colonize the West Bank and advance racist laws.

I recall well the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail in which he confesses to his “Christian and Jewish brothers” that he has been “gravely disappointed with the white moderate … who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action;’ who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom. …”

King’s words describe almost precisely the shortcomings of the 1,200 rabbis who are not joining the brave Palestinians, Jews and internationals in isolated West Bank communities to protest nonviolently against Israel’s theft of Palestinian land to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements and the separation wall. We cannot afford to stick our heads in the sand as relentless settlement activity forecloses on the possibility of the two-state solution.

If we do not achieve two states in the near future, then the day will certainly arrive when Palestinians move away from seeking a separate state of their own and insist on the right to vote for the government that controls their lives, the Israeli government, in a single, democratic state. Israel finds this option unacceptable and yet is seemingly doing everything in its power to see that it happens.

Many black South Africans have traveled to the occupied West Bank and have been appalled by Israeli roads built for Jewish settlers that West Bank Palestinians are denied access to, and by Jewish-only colonies built on Palestinian land in violation of international law.

Black South Africans and others around the world have seen the 2010 Human Rights Watch report which “describes the two-tier system of laws, rules, and services that Israel operates for the two populations in areas in the West Bank under its exclusive control, which provide preferential services, development, and benefits for Jewish settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians.” This, in my book, is apartheid. It is untenable. And we are in desperate need of more rabbis joining the brave rabbis of Jewish Voice for Peace in speaking forthrightly about the corrupting decadeslong Israeli domination over Palestinians.

These are among the hardest words I have ever written. But they are vitally important. Not only is Israel harming Palestinians, but it is harming itself. The 1,200 rabbis may not like what I have to say, but it is long past time for them to remove the blinders from their eyes and grapple with the reality that Israel becoming an apartheid state or like South Africa in its denial of equal rights is not a future danger, as three former Israeli prime ministers — Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and David Ben Gurion — have warned, but a present-day reality. This harsh reality endured by millions of Palestinians requires people and organizations of conscience to divest from those companies — in this instance, from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard — profiting from the occupation and subjugation of Palestinians.

Such action made an enormous difference in apartheid South Africa. It can make an enormous difference in creating a future of justice and equality for Palestinians and Jews in the Holy Land.
Desmond Tutu, winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, is archbishop-emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa.

Detroit: Suspended for Civil D

Students at one of Detroit’s public high schools who were suspended after an act of civil disobedience to protest school closures and inadequate learning conditions created their own “freedom school” on Friday.

AP/NYT: Hungry Homeless Man Gets Arrested Intentionally


COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) ­ Lance Brown was hungry and homeless, so he decided to get thrown in jail by hurling a brick through a glass door at the Columbus courthouse building.

Brown, 36, spent nine months in jail before his April trial. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to another month behind bars, and three years of probation that includes a six-month stay in a halfway house.

Brown’s case illustrates the struggle prosecutors face when dealing with homeless defendants who resort to crime to seek the safety of prison. They weigh whether to devote scarce resources to prosecuting a lower-level offense with the burden that comes with upholding the law and deterring others from breaking it.

Faced with more nights on the street, Brown said he thought lofting the brick through the building would give him at least a few hours in a place where “someone’s going to offer me a sandwich and drink.”

Happy May Day Plus One. Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org