Archive for ‘‘Occupy Wall Street’’

February 10, 2012

‘Mo Money, Mo Problems’ a conversation with Congressional candidate Bill Shein and the issue of money in politics.

The odds seemed to be against much of a turnout for the ‘Occupy the Courts’  demonstration at the U.S District Courthouse on State Street in Springfield on Jan 20.

It was after all, a protest  marking the second anniversary of the controversial ‘Citizen’s United’ decision, the Supreme Court ruling that overturned federal limits on how much corporations, unions, and other big donors can give to outside political groups during an election; and it was  scheduled for a Friday at noon in downtown Springfield, when tangled streets were sure to be clogged with lunch hour traffic.

At most, I thought, a dozen people would be there, the die-hard activists connected to local branches of the ‘Occupy’ movement and a constellation of other economic justice organizations.

But much to my surprise, about seventy Western Massachusetts residents showed up, armed with homemade signs, populist angst, and even a small marching band.

Could it be that voters are actually starting to care about the issue of campaign finance reform?

Bill Shein is betting that it does.

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November 28, 2011

Weekly Links- Nov 20-27

A little slower than usual on the news front this past week given the Thanksgiving Holiday, but with the Iowa Republican caucuses just thirty-six days away, there seems to be yet another seismic shift in the  field of candidates.

  • The campaign of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been seen as a long shot since it was rather clumsily announced last March. Recent questions about money he made advising Federal Housing giant Freddie Mac and statements he made criticizing child labor laws, seemed like they would be additional blows to an already flagging campaign.
  • But as of about two weeks ago, some opinion polls show Gingrich inching out a lead over former Massachusetts  Governor Mitt Romney, indicating that he may be the latest in a long line of candidates that conservatives are flocking to him, as an alternative to Romney.
  • Last Tuesday, in a CNN Republican primary debate about  National security issues, many observers said Gingrich gave a strong performance.Gingrich, also made headlines in the debate, when he spoke of the need for a ‘more humane’ immigration policy that would forge a pathway to legalization’ for those immigrants who may have entered the country illegally, but now have families in the U.S and have assimilated into the fabric of American life.
  • Some conservatives slammed Gingrich for the move that has been widely seen as a tact to the center. Iowa Congressman Steve King  as well as primary rivals such as Romney and Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann called such a policy ‘amnesty’.
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November 23, 2011

UMASS Amherst professor arrested in New York City, during ‘Occupy’ protests.

A UMASS Amherst Professor, was among the three hundred ‘Occupy Wall Street Protesters’ arrested in New York City last Thursday, while participating in demonstrations that were part of a broader  National Day of Action by the two month old movement against corporate excess and income inequality.

Daniel Clawson, a Sociology Professor at UMASS and a Northampton resident, who is currently in New York as a visiting fellow at the Russell Sage Foundation, was not injured and has been out of jail as of last Thursday night.

In a posting on the well-known liberal blog the Daily Kos, Clawson says he and a swarm of other protesters we’re arrested on the morning of Nov 17, when they sat in the middle of the intersection of Pine and Nassua Streets near Zucotti Park, knotting up traffic in an act of civil disobedience.

‘Somehow I was in a sizable group  that was well in advance of the main march; we we’re sitting in the intersection before the march (and police arrived),’ he writes.

After being cuffed, Clawson and a collection of others, were then brought to the Police Headquarters at 1 Police Plaza near the New York Stock Exchange, where according to him, they were  booked and held in a holding cell with what he alleges was as many as eighty other people.

‘The most boring part was the next many hours of waiting, not knowing what would happen or when we would be released.’

Clawson though, was released at 7:30pm, and given a Desk Attendance Ticket requiring him to appear in criminal court on January 25 to face possible disorderly conduct charges.

 

November 21, 2011

Weekly Links- November 13 – 20 ‘Happy Thanksgiving’

The week began with the clearing out of ‘Occupy’ protesters from Zucotti Park Tuesday morning, and the subsequent re-occupation (minus the tents and camping accouterments) of members of the two month old movement against what they say is corporate advirace and income inequality. Nearly 200 were arrested by police during the eviction.

  •  Structures were dismantled and some property was confiscated by police. Among those entities taken apart, was the so-called ‘People’s Library’, an accumulation of books and periodicals set up for public consumption at the camp site. After Police took down the initial library and confiscated the books, a new collection was begun at Zucotti Park. Then that library was also dismantled and its materials destroyed. The American Library Association has expressed alarm over the incident.
  • In New York City and other communities and college campuses around the globe, ‘Occupy’ demonstrators participated in  what was deemed a ‘National Day of Action’ to condemn the crackdowns, rail against austerity measures, and celebrate the two month anniversary of the movement. Marchers took part in acts of civil disobedience  attempting to shut down financial centers, tie up traffic, fill subways, protest in large banks, and march across bridges and landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge. Hundreds were arrested by police including a retired Philadelphia Police Captain and a  New York City Council member. I will also be posting a slightly belated article on events correlated to the ‘Day of Action’ that took place in Amherst on Thursday.
  •  In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), banking lobbyists reveal their desire to derail the ‘Occupy movement’ and help defeat any Democrats that might sympathize with their calls to reign in the power of large financial institutions that many blame for the 2008 meltdown. They also express fear of a populist alliance between the ‘Occupy’ movement and the ‘Tea Party’ that could be detrimental to them.
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November 17, 2011

Elizabeth Warren releases first TV ad

Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren released the first television ad of her nearly two month campaign Tuesday, as part of an effort to rebut what she calls ‘ridiculous attack ads’ by Republican leaning groups.

The sixty-one second ad, alternating between a shot of Warren on camera, and a montage of photographs that reach back into her past, is a biographical ad of the former Harvard Law professor and consumer advocate.  that seeks to introduce Warren to the general electorate. In it, she briefly tells of her working class childhood, brother’s military service, her own marriage, life as a mother of two children, college education, time as a school teacher, law school, career in academia, and consumer protection efforts.

“For years, I worked to expose how Wall Street and the big banks, are crushing middle class families, it just isn’t right,” says Warren. 

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October 30, 2011

Weekly Links: Oct 22-29

The world outside my window this afternoon.

Only October and already snow is falling across the northeast, as evidenced by the photograph above of the scene outside my window unfolding as I type this. Hope the power stays on. Anyway below are your weekly links. 

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October 28, 2011

Khazei calls it quits in Democratic primary race.

Former Democratic Senate hopeful Alan Khazei (pic courtesy of ioc.harvard.edu).

Social entrepreneur turned  Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Alan Khazei  said Thursday that he will be ending his campaign for the U.S Senate. He made the announcement during  a press conference at his Boston campaign headquarters, a day after a spokesperson with the campaign told the Boston Globe that he would be dropping out.

Though he did not endorse any of the remaining four candidates in the race, including  front-runner and fellow candidate consumer financial advocate  Elizabeth Warren, the City Year co-founder acknowledged that her entry into the then crowded but largely unknown field  ‘ struck a chord with citizens across our state and across our country at all levels of the political process.’

He also slammed Brown, who he said ‘ has failed to lead when our country is crying out for Game changing leadership’ and said he is pulling out of the race to avoid the risk of creating inner party divisions that could produce a weakened candidate and thereby boost Brown’s re-election chances. 

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October 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street becomes Occupy Northampton


'Occupy Northampton ' demonstrators out in front of the Bank of America on Oct 6.

The ‘ Occupy Wall Street’ movement’s message against corporate power and Wall Street greed touched down in Northampton just a little over a week ago on Thursday Oct 6, when demonstrators assembled outside the Bank of America branch on Main Street, for what its organizers dubbed ‘Occupy Northampton’.

   Standing behind barricades erected by Northampton Police in the parking area in front of the bank, protesters wielded homemade signs, chanted slogans, and sang along to the music of a burly college age acoustic guitar player backed up on occasion by the slap of a tribal drum or the shaking of a percussion instrument.
    Collectively, those in attendance  referred to themselves as ‘the 99%’, a term common in the vernacular of the ‘Occupy movement’ rallies across the country.