Reclaiming the banks: Activists turn British banks into creches, classrooms and launderettes in protest over public service cuts

From The Daily Mail UK

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:30 PM on 26th February 2011


Activists stormed more than 40 banks across Britain in protest over executive bonuses and public service cuts –  and turned them into a variety of ad hoc walk-in centres.

UK Uncut said demonstrators set up creches, laundries, school classrooms, libraries, homeless shelters, drama clubs, walk-in clinics, youth centres, job centres and leisure centres at branches of RBS, NatWest and Lloyds.

At 10am in Camden, north London, demonstrators invaded a NatWest and set up a creche where children played, practiced musical instruments while parents caught up.

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Wisconsin is making the battle lines clear in America’s hidden class war

From The Guardian UK:

The brazen choices of the Republican governor shows the real ideology behind attacks on unions – in the US and beyond

Gary Younge, Sunday 27 February 2011

You can tell a great deal about a nation’s anxieties and aspirations by the discrepancy between reality and popular perception. Polls last year showed that in the US 61% think the country spends too much on foreign aid. This makes sense once you understand that the average American is under the illusion that 25% of the federal budget goes on foreign aid (the real figure is 1%).

Similarly, a Mori poll in Britain in 2002 revealed that more than a third of the country thought there were too many immigrants. Little wonder. The mean estimate was that immigrants comprise 23% of the country; the actual number was about 4%.

Broadly speaking, these inconsistencies do not reflect malice or wilful ignorance but people’s attempts to make sense of the world they experience through the distorting filters of media representation, popular prejudice and national myths. “The way we see things is affected by what we know and what we believe,” wrote John Berger in Ways of Seeing. “The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.”

When it comes to class, Americans have long seen themselves as potentially rich and perpetually middling. A Pew survey in 2008 revealed that 91% believe they are either middle class, upper-middle class or lower-middle class. Relatively few claim to be working class or upper class, intimating more of a cultural aspiration than an economic relationship. Meanwhile, a Gallup poll in 2005 showed that while only 2% of Americans described themselves as “rich”, 31% thought it very likely or somewhat likely they would “ever be rich”.

But trends and ongoing events are forcing a reappraisal of that self-image. Social mobility has stalled; wages have been stagnant for a generation. It is in this light that the growing resistance to events in Wisconsin must be understood. The hardline Republican governor, Scott Walker, has pledged to remove collective bargaining rights from public sector unions and cut local government workers’ health benefits and pension entitlements.

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Protesters Are Locked Out of Wisconsin Capitol

The pigs palace guard have installed bolts that prevent the opening of windows so people can neither reinforce those sitting in inside the building nor escape if arrests appear eminent.  This is an old police tactic when the police are about to proceed with mass arrests.

Today, due to ultra right wing laws passed over the last thirty years there is a possibility these brave people, who are standing up to the ultra right wing fascists could face felony charges rather than minor misdemeanor charges.  Thanks to the PATRIOT ACT passed by Herr Bush and the craven cowards in the House and Senate these people could potentially be labeled as terrorists.

From The New York Times:

Published: February 28, 2011

MADISON, Wis. — The administration of Gov. Scott Walker abruptly locked out protesters from the Capitol on Monday morning, the latest gambit in the showdown between the new Republican governor and demonstrators rallying against his plan to strip public employee unions of almost all of their collective bargaining power.

About 60 demonstrators who had slept in the statehouse overnight remained inside as of noon Monday, and they banged drums, sang and danced in the rotunda. They had access to restrooms and, given the dwindling size of the group, appeared to have a decent supply of food. There was no indication that the police were preparing to arrest or eject them, and several said in interviews that they had no intention of leaving.

Protesters won a victory on Sunday when Mr. Walker’s administration reversed a plan to remove demonstrators who had been sleeping in the Capitol overnight for the last two weeks.

Many of the protesters left the building voluntarily on Sunday night, planning to return in the morning. But when they did, they found themselves barred from entering, the first time during the two-week demonstration, they said, that the building was locked during normal business hours. At least a hundred protesters stood outside one entrance, waiting to be let inside.

Protesters said they believed that the Walker administration was trying to slowly shrink the size of the protest inside the building before Tuesday’s scheduled unveiling of the governor’s budget proposal.

“The governor is trying to force a conflict between us and the police,” said one protester still inside, Damon Terrell, a university student. “He wants us to feel caged so we’ll do something stupid, and then he wants the police to react.”

Peter Barca, the leader of the Democrats in the state Assembly, which is the lower house, called the closure “not acceptable.”

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Pay Up, Corporate Tax Dodgers

From Common Dreams:

We’re chumps unless we force Congress to stop tax haven abuse.

by Chuck Collins

Published on Monday, February 28, 2011 by OtherWords

Instead of cutting state and federal budgets, the United States should crack down on the corporate tax dodgers thumbing their noses at us.

Across the nation, states are making deep cuts that will wreck the quality of life for everyone to close budget gaps that total more than $100 billion.

But there’s a more sensible option. Overseas tax havens enable companies to pretend their profits are earned in other countries like the Cayman Islands. Simply making that ruse illegal would bring home an estimated $100 billion a year.

The next time you read a story about some politician bemoaning that “there’s no money” and “we have to make cuts,” just point to artful tax dodgers in our midst.

They include some of the banks that trashed the economy but gladly took our tax dollars to stay alive after the economic meltdown. Bank of America. Wells Fargo. Citigroup.

Goldman Sachs took a $10 billion taxpayer bailout but then gamed its effective tax rate down to one percent through what its shakedown-artist executives call “changes in geographic earnings mix.” Shame on them. Pay up.

See that FedEx delivery van go by on the roads you paid for? Pay up FedEx! Don’t pretend you’re not making billions in the U.S. Don’t lie and tell us you made all those profits on some island with more palm trees than people. We know the demand for coconut delivery isn’t that big.

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US Uncut’s Anti-Austerity Protests Start Small, Strong Against Bank of America

From Truthout:

by: Alissa Bohling, t r u t h o u t | Report

Monday 28 February 2011

Anna Becker looks tired. Becker is leaning against the brick wall beside the entrance to Bank of America’s Pearl District branch in Portland, Oregon, where one of over 50 nationwide protests by US Uncut has been underway for nearly two hours.

But Becker, a retired teacher, is just as energized as the protesters at the front of the crowd of about 60, who spill into the street and draw long, loud honks from the stream of cars driving toward the Willamette River.

“I have been waiting for 20 years for something like this to happen in America,” says Becker. The words she has spoken in private for years are now plastered onto the canary yellow poster board she holds up like a shield: “B of A is al-Qaeda: financial terrorists.”
Bank of America (B of A) is the first corporation to be targeted by US Uncut, the transatlantic offspring of the United Kingdom-based anti-austerity group UK Uncut, which held its first demonstration to protest corporate tax evasion in late 2010.

As a voice at the megaphone of the Portland protest said, “The United States does not have a deficit problem. The United States has a revenue problem.” According to a 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office, 25 percent of the biggest corporations pay no federal income tax. B of A, the recipient of $45 billion in bailout funds, shuttles its would-be tax dollars into 115 offshore tax havens. Meanwhile, budget deficits are cited as justification for pay freezes for public workers and cuts to heating assistance programs, Social Security, and other social safety nets.

“The $3 in my wallet is more than ExxonMobil, GE and Bank of America paid in taxes last year, combined,” said Carl Gibson, founder of the first American Uncut group, US Uncut Mississippi, in a release prior to the February 26 protests.

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Main Stream Media Ignores Major Pro-Planned Parenthood Demonstration In Austin

From Basket of Puppies:

A Feb. 26th rally in Austin, Texas to protect women’s right to healthcare. Rally to help promote a woman’s right to choose and to heath care for women. Also supporting Planned Parenthood. Don’t let those right wing idiots take away your right to choose. Rally lasted for hours as participants marched up and down Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas.

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Democrats poised to introduce legislation to repeal ‘Defense of Marriage Act’

From LGBTQ Nation:

LGBTQ Nation

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has announced plans to introduce a bill in the U.S. Congress that would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law that defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman for purposes of all federal laws.

Feinstein’s announcement comes on the heels of the Obama administration’s announcement last week that at least one part of DOMA will not be able to pass constitutional muster in federal court, and that the Justice Department will not defend that part of the law in two pending cases in the Second Circuit.


On Friday, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced that he will support the bill proposed by Feinstein:


In the House, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), plans to re-introduce the “Respect for Marriage Act,” which would also explicitly repeal DOMA.

The bill was first introduced in September 2009 by Nadler, Rep Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.).

On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice would not defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA in two of the four cases where that section of the law is currently under challenge.

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WI Capitol Police Chief: Protesters Can Stay Tonight

From Talking Points Memo:

Eric Kleefeld

February 27, 2011

Madison, WI — In a major victory for the protesters at the Wisconsin state Capitol — who were supposed to clear out at 4 p.m. CT today, but have remained inside in the hundreds — Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs has announced that those protesters still in the building will be able to stay the night.

Protesters will be able to sleep on the ground floor, as cleaning is done of the upper floors. Tubbs said there had been no decisions made yet on what the policy would be for successive nights.

“There will be no arrests, as we said before, there will be no use of force,” Tubbs said. “We want the people to continue to cooperate and work within the guidelines and the laws of the state of Wisconsin. So there’ll be no one asked to leave the Capitol tonight.”

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Demonstrators Can Continue Overnight Stays in Wisconsin Capitol

From The New York Times:

Published: February 27, 2011

MADISON, Wis. — In a victory — at least a symbolic one — for Wisconsin’s public employee unions, the Capitol authorities announced on Sunday that demonstrators could continue their all-night sleepovers in the building and would not be forcibly ejected or arrested.

Just one day earlier, the state agency that oversees the Capitol police had said that the overnight protests, which have occurred continuously for almost two weeks and have been the heart and soul of the demonstrations in Madison, would cease on Sunday. The agency is led by an appointee of Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, whose plan to strip public employee unions of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights has led to huge rallies in opposition, with as many as 70,000 demonstrators marching around the Madison Statehouse.

Union officials, who had denounced the plan to close the Capitol overnight as an effort to silence critics, called the reversal a capitulation by Mr. Walker’s administration.

“Cooler heads prevailed,” said Jim Palmer, the executive director of the 11,000-member Wisconsin Professional Police Association. “They had said they were going to clear the place out, and then they thought the better of it. Now it’s clear that law enforcement professionals are running the show.”

Officials from both the governor’s office and the Department of Administration, the cabinet-level state agency that had previously called for closing the Capitol, could not be reached for comment.

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More than 100,000 Rally in Wisconsin

From GreenLine, AFSCME Blog:

February 26th, 2011

This is a crosspost from the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.

On a snowy Wisconsin Saturday over 100,000 union members, working families, community members, faith leaders, activist groups and concerned citizens gathered in Madison to tell Gov. Walker to stop the attacks on the middle class and kill the bill.

Despite the weather, today’s rally was the biggest in the 13 days of protests. The people of Wisconsin will continue to fight for their rights. It is time for our elected officials to show leadership, come to the table and move Wisconsin forward.

Wisconsin’s teachers, nurses, snow plow drivers, and other public employees have agreed to Walker’s pension and health care concessions, which he said would solve the budget challenge. The Governor’s continued attacks on our state’s working families harm us all. It is now up to the Governor to be reasonable and listen to his constituents.

The whole nation has taken notice of what we are doing in Wisconsin. Today solidarity rallies were held in all 50 states, as America stands with Wisconsin.

What’s happened in our state has made the whole labor movement stronger. None of this would have been possible without the support, dedication and solidarity of both union members and non-union members who understand more than they have in a long time just how much we’re all in this together.

For photos of past rallies and select solidarity actions visit the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Flickr page. Be sure to “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter so you can be up-to-date as we spread the word to stand with Wisconsin.

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Indecorous and Free! About Womyn’s Protests in Italy

From Infoshop News:

by: Italy Calling

Saturday, February 26 2011

Indecorous and Free! About Womyn’s Protests in Italy

In this latest phase of widespread political and economic crisis, the subject of sexuality has become crucial. In this context the role of women is once again determined and exploited by those in power, within an old traditional ideological perspective. We’ve surely needed a women’s mobilisation against the government and its PM for some time now, and not just because of the sexual scandals. Italy is ranked amongst the lowest in Europe for freedom and quality of life for women – especially in a context where the government combines the dogmas of unconditional allegiance to Catholic fundamentalism on one hand and unrestrained liberalism on the other. Berlusconi has been the maker of brutal laws that victimise and stigmatise women’s bodies: the law on IVF*, the repealing of the law that made it illegal to “fairly dismiss” pregnant women**, the increase of state pension age. These are just some striking examples of the government’s politics. Other examples are the relentless attacks against the abortion law, the disqualifying and privatisation of the infrastructure (like sexual health centres), the war against the Month-After pill.

All this, in a country that deliberately disowns its youth and therefore its own future, cutting university funds and making work more and more precarious. Women and migrants are the most hard hit by this political system – both are denied fundamental guarantees for a free and dignified existence. Last but not least in this list, the creation of the CIE: proper concentration camps where women are constantly exposed to violence and abuse.*** The recent scandals involving the PM reveal a squalid picture of corruption, in which the woman’s role is defined by the worst possible stereotypes and expressions of an archaic and vulgar sexism.

On the other hand though, some of the recent mobilisation address their appeals only to “good” women: mothers, wives, working women. This perspective assumes a separation between respectable and non respectable women, invoking a universal and abstract morality. The danger of this distinction is that it judgementally stigmatises women who “sell their bodies”, but not the sexist discourse and practices that create this twisted dynamic in the first place. Instead of opposing the traditional and regressive vision of sexuality, this kind of divisive morality serves to reinforce it. We, on the other hand, believe the political questions that need to be asked are of a completely different nature. The redistribution of wealth between profiteers and those who are paying for this crisis, between those who own many buildings and those who don’t even have a house, between those who luxuriate on millionaire wages and those who are jobless: these are the crucial political questions.

Above all, we think it’s time for women to speak out for themselves and express their opinions on topics that relate to them. For a long while now, women’s sexuality has been disciplined and controlled, ruled by procreation and male pleasure – in a devious picture where on one hand, prostitutes are being criminalised and marginalised through “security package” laws and moralistic campaigns and on the other, they are being used at men’s leisure in the political palaces. It’s significant that the most difficult moment of Berlusconi’s government has been caused by a question that has at its heart gender and relationship issues. We have an extraordinary opportunity to incite a women’s revolt – a revolt that calls for a free and aware sexuality, devoid of commodification and imposed rules, and based on the acknowledgment of desires, liberation from stereotypes and self-determination.

* The law restricts the provision of fertility treatments to ‘stable heterosexual couples’ who live together and are of childbearing age, and who are shown to be clinically infertile. A survey carried out by the Reproductive Tourism Observatory in 2006 shows that the number of Italian couples travelling to other countries for such procedures has increased four-fold since the law was passed three years before.

** A common practice that hits pregnant women especially: employees are asked to sign a blank dismissal letter. The employer will then add a date and sack that person whenever they want to, for example, when a female employee gets pregnant. With the repealing of the law against this practice in 2008, women (and employees in general) have one less legal weapon to fight unfair dismissal.

*** Several migrant women locked up in Italian detention centres have denounced the violence, beatings and in some cases, rapes going on inside. For further info check out my previous articles on the blog. This text was published in the days leading to the women’s demo of 13 February. As I didn’t have time to translate it before I have taken the liberty to adapt it and take out some parts strictly relating to the demo.

Original article from Le Malefiche feminist blog. Translated and adapted by Italy Calling.

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