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OCCUPY ACROSS THE U.S.: Police don’t allow cold weather supplies at Boston protest

[Update…Taryn Hart at the Plutocracy Files has a daily OWS blog with news & videos from around the country, and has also done a number of interviews with economists & other left luminaries, including dean baker, larry mishel, john quiggin, jeff madrik, et al, with more coming…hat tip reader rjs]

In noting other OWS scenarios other than New York and LA comes this news:OCCUPY ACROSS THE U.S.: Police don’t allow cold weather supplies at Boston protest

By Matthew Schacht

Editor’s note: Missourian reporters visiting their homes during the week of Thanksgiving caught up with Occupy movements in those cities. This is one of six dispatches from the Occupy movement across the country.

BOSTON — In Dewey Park, Occupy Boston protestors and city officials have been playing cat-and-mouse games.

“Cops will search supplies and vehicles for what they call contraband,” Kevin Maley, an Occupy Boston volunteer, said. Police maintain a 24/7 presence and don’t allow cold-weather tents and other winter supplies into the camp, which is a patchwork of several dozen shelters topped with gray, green, red and blue tarps.

To get around the blockade, protestors need to be stealth. “A tent for the all-women living quarters was not allowed because it was winterized,” Maley said. “We brought it in under the darkness of night.”

“The next day cops staring at the tent looked annoyed,” he said.

Maley thinks the city’s “embargo” is designed to freeze protestors out of the square this winter, as an alternative to physically evicting them.

Boston Police Department spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said police were trying to prevent “building materials” from entering the camp for safety reasons.

A November article by Open Media Boston said police only allow donations of food and clothing to enter the camp.

With the help of the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild and the local law firm Todd & Weld, protestors have gone to court claiming that the First Amendment forbids police from evicting them or removing their tents.

On Nov. 16, the Superior Court of Suffolk County granted Occupy Boston protestors a temporary restraining order against the City of Boston until at least Dec. 1, when the court holds its first hearing on the case.

As a condition to hearing those claims, the judge required at least 50 protestors to sign affidavits promising to abide by the court’s decision in the case. Whether remaining protestors will obey an unfavorable order is unclear.

“We came here knowing it was an act of civil disobedience,” Maley said. “It’s up to every individual” to decide “whether you are willing to go to jail for something you believe in.”

The signatures are to show the judge that Occupy Boston was committed to the process, Maley said. At the same time, he said, Occupy Boston has no intention of evacuating. “We’re down here as long as it takes.”

According to Maley, “we” means about 250 protestors, volunteers and homeless individuals around Dewey Square at any given time. “We” also means Boston Occupy’s general assembly, which live-streams its meetings every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. CT.

Some volunteers permanently live in the park, while others come and go according to work schedules. Maley himself is employed at a nonprofit during the week and volunteers between shifts.

He explains some of the goals of the Occupy movement at an info tent in Dewey Park, where visitors come with questions. He lists off policy reforms supported by most Boston protestors, who were recently surveyed by the camp’s newspaper, The Boston Occupier.

Mike Mazor, a Vietnam Veteran visiting the Boston-area for Thanksgiving, listens to Maley’s explanation unconvinced.

Mazor said he wants to support the movement, but “I need something, a common goal … otherwise, I feel the Occupy movement is taking a shotgun to the situation instead of aiming at a clear target.”

Unfazed by Mazor’s skepticism, Maley launches into another explanation about reforming hedge fund taxation and regulating Wall Street bankers.

When Mazor leaves a few minutes later, Maley confided that he would like to have talked to the veteran for another hour. Eliminating apathy is Maley’s goal.

“There are people who stop in, and I have a conversation with them, and they leave kind of radicalized,” Maley said.

Of course, there are always other opinions:

See candidate winterization dome. A joint project with (my alma mater says Jan G.) MIT.

The Occupy Boston movement is also in the process of winterizing its encampment in Dewey Square. A group of Harvard and MIT students led by MIT architecture Professor Jan W. Wampler has suggested potential solutions, which the movement is currently considering.

“My understanding is that the Occupy Boston people would like to stay there during the winter, and we’re trying to help them,” said Wampler. “But I think what we’re also trying to do is change the image.”

Wampler said he believes Occupy could benefit from a makeover that would include the creation of “more beautiful” structures that better convey a sense of permanence than tents.

(hat tip reader Jan G.)

OWS and economics

Nancy Folbre is an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Her post in the NYT Economix begins:

The Occupy Wall Street movement, displaced from some key geographic locations, now enjoys a small but significant encampment among economists.

Concerns about the impact of growing economic inequality fit neatly into a larger critique of mainstream economic theory and its deep faith in the efficiency of markets.

Many unbelievers (including me) insist that we inhabit a global capitalist system rather than an efficient market. Willingness to use the C-word (capitalism) often signals concerns about a concentration of economic power that unfairly limits individual choices, undermines political democracy, generates financial and ecological crises and limits access to alternative economic ideas.

We can’t address these concerns effectively without a wider discussion of them.

Guess who wrote this op-ed??

(Elizabeth Warren has hired a campaign manager and has thousands of volunteers signing up for her campaign for the Senate seat in MA that Senator Scott Brown currently occupies. He has a lot of work to do for this election.)

Guess who wrote this op-ed??

The moment you threaten to strip politicians of their legal graft, they’ll moan that they can’t govern effectively without it. Perhaps they’ll gravitate toward reform, but often their idea of reform is to limit the right of “We the people” to exercise our freedom of speech in the political process.

I’ve learned from local, state and national political experience that the only solution to entrenched corruption is sudden and relentless reform. Sudden because our permanent political class is adept at changing the subject to divert the public’s attention—and we can no longer afford to be indifferent to this system of graft when our country is going bankrupt. Reform must be relentless because fighting corruption is like a game of whack-a-mole. You knock it down in one area only to see it pop up in another.

What are the solutions? We need reform that provides real transparency. Congress should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act like everyone else. We need more detailed financial disclosure reports, and members should submit reports much more often than once a year. All stock transactions above $5,000 should be disclosed within five days.

We need equality under the law. From now on, laws that apply to the private sector must apply to Congress, including whistleblower, conflict-of-interest and insider-trading laws. Trading on nonpublic government information should be illegal both for those who pass on the information and those who trade on it. (This should close the loophole of the blind trusts that aren’t really blind because they’re managed by family members or friends.)

No more sweetheart land deals with campaign contributors. No gifts of IPO shares. No trading of stocks related to committee assignments. No earmarks where the congressman receives a direct benefit. No accepting campaign contributions while Congress is in session. No lobbyists as family members, and no transitioning into a lobbying career after leaving office. No more revolving door, ever.

Sarah Palin

Why did the English equivalent of Occupy Wallstreet pick St Paul’s as the place to protest?

[update: Links fixed 11/30.]

by Stormy

Why did the English equivalent of Occupy Wallstreet pick St Paul’s as the place to protest?

Because St. Paul’s is hand in glove with the City of London Corporation, the place where democracy and light “goes to die,” the place where there is no accountability or transparency for the powerful 1%.

An overview by George Monbiot

A comment by the protesters: Why are they there, in that spot of London?

An attempt to shed light on the dark heart of capitalism, the City of London Corporation.

Watch the events in London carefully. I am surprised that economists have not commented on what the City of London Corporation. Our banks are there…unfettered by any regulation, any oversight. Goldman and Sachs? You betcha.

The priests and clergy that have resigned have resigned because they know the truth of what this place is—and how St. Paul’s is complicit.

Anyway, this will whet your conspiracy bug…and it is true.

Topical thread Nov. 13, 2011

Quote by from San Francisco Chronicle via Reader Supported News on the Berkley OWS

“The individuals who linked arms and actively resisted, that in itself is an act of violence,” UC police Capt. Margo Bennett said. “I understand that many students may not think that, but linking arms in a human chain when ordered to step aside is not a nonviolent protest.”

And another push is planned by the City Council in Oakland.

The Occupiers’ Responsive Chord

I believe Robert Reich points us in the right direct when he suggests in The Occupiers’ Responsive Chord:

A combination of police crackdowns and bad weather are testing the young Occupy movement. But rumors of its demise are premature, to say the least. Although numbers are hard to come by, anecdotal evidence suggests the movement is growing.

As importantly, the movement has already changed the public debate in America.

Consider, for example, last week’s Congressional Budget Office report on widening disparities of income in America. It was hardly news – it’s already well known that the top 1 percent now gets 20 percent of the nation’s income, up from 9 percent in the late 1970s.

But it’s the first time such news made the front page of the nation’s major newspapers.

Why? Because for the first time in more than half a century, a broad cross-section of the American public is talking about the concentration of income, wealth, and political power at the top.

Score a big one for the Occupiers.

I have noticed in the burbs small group meetings (20-30) comprised of some ‘younger’ people but also a range of support from small business people in town, successful traders and financial people, increasing church participation (ie. Vespas at Dexter Park), teachers…people who are setting up ways to be part time supporters for what are to planned to be long term discussion/education but as importantly also are for active and participatory support (showing up to be counted).


By Jeffrey R. McCord of The Investor Advocate


“Occupy” Annual Meetings and Court Rooms

The spectacular fall and bankruptcy of Jon Corzine’s MF Global Holdings within clear sight of mostly inactive regulators reminds us that “the system is still far too vulnerable and the work of regulatory reform far from finished,” to quote a NEW YORK TIMES editorial on the subject . But, how to continue regulatory reform in a world in which one House of Congress is controlled by anti-regulatory zealots and existing regulators are too often afflicted by chronic DC/NY revolving door syndrome?

In frustration, President Obama has finally begun using Executive Orders to try to accomplish more positive economic change. And, as we all know, he was preceded and prodded by the growing ranks of the Occupy Wall Street movement spreading nationwide and into Europe.
As their visibility and perceived importance of OWS increase, more arm chair generals (me included) are putting forth a lengthening agenda of reforms we hope protestors will demand. One percipient OWS observer hit a big nail on the head when he identified the following economic pressure point progressives should slam:

“If I had to give the Occupy Wall Street movement a piece of advice, I would tell them to focus their growing chorus against Wall Street excesses on corporate governance reform. . . . [That] may sound innocuous, or tedious, or overly academic, but if this movement wants to put the fear of God into the corporate chieftains who are looking down from their towers in Manhattan at the masses below, needs to take the time to explain to its foot soldiers exactly how power is wielded in a modern corporation.”

That suggestion from Kris Broughton, an independent journalist, blogger and national media commentator who also uses the moniker “brown man thinking.” (See ) And, his African-American heritage may have informed his choice of this agenda item usually overlooked by progressives. But, it was activism by individual and institutional investors (in the form of company annual meeting ballot initiatives and shareholder voting and litigation) that helped end the abomination of legal racial oppression and separation of races in South Africa, and achieve expansion of civil rights at home.
Shareholder Activists Help Defeat Apartheid .

One of the first effective blows against apartheid in South Africa by the international community was wielded by the Episcopal Church in 1971. As a shareholder in General Motors Corporation, then a profitable corporate behemoth standing astride the world, instead of ignoring the voting rights its share ownership bestow, the Church:

“introduced a shareholder proposal . . . requesting that General Motors cease operations in South Africa, a nation then enforcing a very strict apartheid, including total separation by race in the workplace (jobs, pay, drinking fountains, etc). The registrant’s [General Motors’ subsequent] proxy statement [mailed to all shareowners] revealed that one of GM’s directors, the Rev. Leon Sullivan, had voted against the Board’s decision to oppose the [South African] shareholder proposal. At the annual meeting, Rev. Sullivan came down from the dais and spoke in favor of the shareholder proposal. The upshot of the ‘conflict’ on GM’s Board was the creation, by a coalition led by General Motors, but consisting of almost all of the major U.S. corporations operating in South Africa, of the ‘Sullivan Principles,’ a code of conduct to abolish apartheid in their South African workplaces.”(See more at: , the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.)

That radical and successful non-violent action initiated by a mainstream Christian denomination ultimately led faith-based organizations from virtually all major religions within the United States to form The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). Today, it is comprised of 275 members and affiliates — including faith-based institutional investors such as pension funds, foundations, hospital corporations, economic development funds, asset management companies and colleges — that have investment portfolios collectively valued at more than $100 billion. They own shares in most major corporations and actively use the governing rights those shares convey to promote honest and socially responsible management of companies in which they invest. ICCR board member Jeffrey Dekro of Jewish Funds for Justice, for instance, is a catalyst for investment in low-income community development.

Fighting Capitalist “Heresies” With Capital
Back in 2002, when most investors and citizens were still angry from the last round of egregious corporate fraud and abuse (think Enron, Global Crossing, WorldCom, Adelphia Communications, etc), the NEW YORK TIMES reported on the interfaith group’s shareholder activism by focusing on ICCR executive Sister Patricia Daly, a member of the Catholic Dominican order:

“Sister Daly views her work as following in the tradition of the Dominican order, founded in the 13th century by St. Dominic to fight heresies and untruths. ‘We’re dealing with some of the heresies and untruths of capitalism,’ Sister Daly said.”

Risk Metrics Group, a profit-making associate member of Sister Daly’s ICCR, provides research and advice to governments, corporations, academics, institutional investors and others seeking unbiased actionable information on securities markets and companies that issue securities. Although recently acquired by a larger consulting firm (Institutional Investor Services, Inc.), Risk Metrics remains a leader in providing clients with decision-making data on corporate governance matters. And, the number of institutional investors willing and interested in fostering corporate management reform has expanded far beyond the ranks of the faith-based.

“Short-term Profit Maximization is not a Sustainable Model”

In an interview, Lucas Green, an attorney and a research director for Institutional Investor Services Inc.’s corporate governance unit, said socially aware shareholders can and should exert a positive influence on how corporations are governed. Today, institutions – particularly pension funds serving employees, academic personnel and union members – are using more than proxy ballots to force change at poorly and dishonestly governed companies. They are going to Federal court, where, like civil rights activists and environmentalists before them, they use class actions to unite all shareholders in tackling a corporation’s embedded executives.

Admittedly, the prospect of strategic corporate proxy battles, institutional investor led litigation, and such key “corporate governance” issues as management compensation packages are enough to make the eyes of many OWS protestors (and most other citizens) glaze over. But, the ISS’s Lucas Green explains how the interests of Main Street are aligned with some of the nation’s largest public and union pension funds pushing for real change:

“One only has to look back to the Enron, WorldCom and more recent scandals to see the relevance of how corporations are governed to the interests of all investors including individuals and the overall health of our economy. Experience demonstrates that a corporate structure that places the highest value on short term profit maximization and short term stock price gain is not a sustainable model. Executive compensation packages should encourage long-term, sustainable growth and health.

“The interests of public pension funds, which are often among the largest investors in any given corporation and which seek effective, honest corporate governance focusing on the long term, are aligned with the public interest in several ways. The beneficiaries of pension funds themselves are typically individual employees and, more broadly, the funds in their role as big investors can also exert a positive influence on securities markets and the economy.”

Adjusting United Healthcare’s Moral Compass
As an example, in his lengthy paper on litigation in corporate governance, Mr. Green cites a lawsuit led by the California Public Employee’s Retirement System (CALPERS), a huge pension fund with about $236 billion in assets under management, that helped force extensive reform in the way the giant healthcare insurer United Healthcare Group, Inc. is managed. (See Green’s study at )

A few years ago, amid a federal investigation (in 2006) into the illegal back-dating of stock options to enrich senior United Health managers, a separate New York State Investigation (in 2008) of alleged fraud in consumer healthcare billing, and other allegations of fraud in the sale of its securities to investors, CALPERS and other investors successfully pursued a class action against United Health in federal court that in 2009 won the following:
— $925.5 million for allegedly defrauded shareholders;
— creation of a more independent board of directors to exercise better oversight of United Health management;
— reform of United Health executive compensation packages to discourage future wrongdoing.
Pension Funds Can Do Better Than SEC at Thwarting Wrongdoing
Ample research in recent years demonstrates that class action lawsuits led by such powerful investors as CALPERS can achieve better results at holding wrongdoers financially accountable and in deterring future misbehavior than even the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). For nearly a decade, two law professors, James Cox of Duke University, and Randall Thomas of Vanderbilt, have studied the role of institutional investor-led lawsuits in combating fraud and other corporate abuse. In a joint paper published last year, they concluded:

“[P]rivate suits headed by an institutional lead plaintiff . . . appear to [target bigger corporate wrongdoers and achieve] better settlements and lower attorneys’ fees awards
[than lawsuits led by individual investors]. SEC enforcement efforts, while significant, have tended to focus on weaker [and smaller corporate malefactors as] targets, suggesting that the big fish get away.”

What Can Peasants Do When Pitchforks are Parried by Police?
What can individual citizens – including our OCW surrogates serving at the front — do to reform corporate governance? The fortunate few who are still covered by pension funds
should contact their funds’ managers and encourage them to join the fight for reform. Citizens who are active in Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faith-based organizations should ask their religious leaders to mobilize congregate financial resources and inherent strength in numbers of individuals to challenge corporate crime in both shareholder meetings and courts.

# # #

It’s not how rich we are, it’s how equal we are.

This is a 16 minute * lecture by Richard Wilkinson. It is posted at TED. I am posting it here, as I can not believe this information has not received more attention now that the US is awakening from the decades long delusion of prosperity which did not and as shown in the lecture could not lead to greater justice (which implies equality) via the model of economics we have been using.
The model known by many aliases (Chicago School, Friedman, etc) has resulted in the thought that people are drowning in debt and that we have privatized the profits but socialized the losses. These are inaccurate metaphors. They are the results of the language of the delusion we have been living for 3 decades and thus by definition can not capture the truth of our condition. As the science presented in the lecture shows, if our all encompassing concern should be equality, then people are not drowning, they are dehydrating.
The dehydration is the results of privatizing security in life and socializing the risks in life. We are not “drowning” in risk or losses. We of the 99% are lacking in the substance that reduces risk. One can certainly drown from too much water, but the natural risk in life is not having too much water, it is having too little. Thus is the realization of the delusional statement “drowning in debt” and “socialized the losses”.

The lack of reduction of life’s risks is the inequality, the social injustice…the diversion from the purpose expressed in the preamble to our Constitution. “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
The following concluding statement from a different lecture by Professor Wilkinson summarizes the TED lecture. As you watch the lecture keep in mind the 4 goals I highlighted of the preamble and consider that they were put into a document that created an government 223 years ago this year (based on ratification). I have a greater respect for the intellect and their insight into the human experience of those who wrote and ratified our Constitution.

“For thousands of years the best way of improving the quality of human life has been to raise material living standards. We are the first generation to have got to the end of that process. No longer does economic growth improve health, happiness, or wellbeing. If we are to improve the real quality of life further, we have to direct our attention to the social environment and the quality of social relations. But rather than continuing to tackle each problem separately, by spending more on medical care, more on police, social workers and drug rehabilitation units, we now know that it is possible to improve the psychosocial wellbeing and social functioning of whole societies. The quality of social relations is built on material foundations – on the scale of the material inequalities between us.”

With information such as this research and that of the 2005 World Bank paper on what produces wealth , considering our Constitution’s preamble, we should not be struggling looking for guidance as to what direction, what path, what solution we need for our self (our self as in We the People).
*I tried to embbed the video, but for some reason all that happened was all the code being published and not the video.
(Dan here, h/t to rjs for the embed…

Blanket the Earth

The Rude Pundit Has a Brilliant Suggestion. OWS didn’t expect to be in Zucotti Park for more than two months. It looks as if they’ll be there a lot longer.

UPDATE: Michael Swanwick shows how easy it can be:

It’s Halloween! So Marianne and I went down to City Hall to donate a case of water, a box of granola bars, and some M&Ms (for the seasonality) to the Occupy Philadelphia people.

This presents some issues; that summer sleeping bag isn’t really adequate for NYC winters:

[W]inter’s coming, fast up here in the Northeast. And while the Rude Pundit is convinced that the true flourishing of the Occupy movement will occur next spring (and into the awful summer and awfuller fall of an election year), there’s a core of the protesters who are gonna stay, no matter what.

Here’s what the Rude Pundit proposes, an action in the spirit of OWS:

On Friday, November 25, the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, as marketers force us to know, let’s give to our local Occupy encampments what they need to stay warm for the winter.

The deal: check out your local Occupy website. There’s a list of all the things they need in order to flat out survive into the Spring. [links to NY, Buffalo, Chicago, Nashville, and SF lists in original]

Having shoveled snow this weekend—and knowing people in NJ, MA, and CT who are without power, and (especially in MA) don’t expect to have it back until the weekend at least—my only concern with this plan is that 25 November may be late.

Speaking of marketing, we could call this “Blanket the Earth.” We could organize this on, say, a Facebook page or perhaps a Twitter feed or a hastag.

Blanket the Earth it is. Just make certain there are no smallpox virus cultures in them this time.