Archive for the 'the dismal excuse for a science' Category

StudentsOccupy the State House.

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@StudentsOccupy gatherered at the Dewey Square Park of the Greenway where @OccupyBoston had camped. [1][2][3][4][5]

We marched through the narrow streets of the financial district often occupying the entire street and blocking traffic. The police used sirens and drove a paddy wagon into the middle of us. We arrived at the State House a bit after 2:00. With respect for Jane Doe White Ribbon Day to end violence against women. We did not rally at that time. We marched around the Common.

We returned to the Hooker entrance of the State House and had a speak out until the Rangers told us would could not peacefully assemble there. So we lined up at the metal detectors  and proceeded into the State House. We arrived a half hour earlier than our liason had told the Jane Doe White Ribbon Day folks. A ranger said we could stage in a hall area and headed in. [6][7]

Most of us were on the main floor of Nurse’s Hall, but a small contingent from Tactical dropped banners from the balcony.[8][9] Police and Rangers moved in and instructed Tactical to pull up the banners which they did, briefly. Every banner that disappeared, reappeared somewhere else on the balcony a few moments later. This went on for about 15 minutes while chanting and speak outs occurred on the main floor. @StudentsOccupy were careful to connect their core issues with other Occupy issues including the Jane Doe White Ribbon Day and Underwater Subprime Mortgage Debt. The State House News Service was there.

We left through the Hooker entrance.

OccupyUMASS: Still standing.

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Tent city on Level 1 of the Campus Center at UMASS Boston 1/28/11

Occupy UMASS Boston hit the “ground” Monday. On Thursday 1/26/11, they were served an eviction notice by the Administration. As off 10:30 AM Saturday 1/28/11 they are still standing. The Monday night “landing” had extensive support from StudentsOccupy and OccupyHarvard, with well over 50 supporters present. In fact, the tents shown above were contributed by OccupyHarvard.

 

 

Sign and view of the harbor from level 1 of the Campus Center at UMASS Boston 1/28/12

 

Occupy .* : National Day of Action

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Denial, anger, and bargaining1over the loss of Our Beloved OccuSink to the urge to march. @arieloshin met up with the carpenters and continued on to the #99unity rally in Copley Square.

Meeting up with a picket line of carpenters! #99unity on Twitpic    At least 400 people are here at coply for #99unity rally! Joi... on Twitpic

There is a broad range of social justice issues on the agenda for today, including the mother of all social justice issues – abrupt global climate change/climate justice.

1No one is in acceptance. We are confident that the court will realize that it was an unreasonable seizure.

Occupy Boston: You Can’t Evict an Idea

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Occupy Boston goes to court tomorrow. A Temporary Restraining Order prevents the Boston Police from removing the tents from Dewey Square Park. Superior Court Judge Francis Mcintyre ruled that tents constitute symbolic free speech. The hearing will determine if the TRO will be replaced by a Preliminary Injunction or simply expire leaving the BPD to do their will. The National Lawyers Guild lawyer representing us is optimistic. Another member of the Guild told me, “the case will be over.”  Folks went out tonight to rally public support. @gvmiii tweeted using a photohost with a less than obvious “intellectual property” regime.

You Can’t Evict an Idea

@LejlaOWS  Boston University ’15 tweeted.

Current police presence at #OccupyBoston on Twitpic    #OccupyBoston march on Twitpic    So many people at the #OccupyBoston march! #ows on Twitpic
#OccupyBoston march. Join us! on Twitpic    Share this widely. This is what patriotism looks like! #occup... on Twitpic    #OccupyBoston marching on Boylston on Twitpic

This is what alternative media looks like.

 

Occupy Boston: Today’s Economics Lessons

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    Preparing for Christmas at South Station. Under the chicken wire is a collection of milk crates from at least a dozen different dairies. They all warn that misuse will be prosecuted.

Left: The fine print says, “When people have more to work with, they can make more stuff with the same amount of work. The extra amount of stuff you can make with an extra dollar’s worth of capital is called the marginal product of capital. In ideal markets, it would be the INTEREST RATE.”

Right: Preparing for Christmas at South Station. Under the chicken wire is a collection of milk crates from at least a dozen different dairies. They all warn the misuse will be prosecuted.

An older lesson that I missed while doing the dishes although I have been beating the same drum for a while now

Occupy Harvard: History in and out of the Yard

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A number of folks from Occupy Boston went down to Plymouth to join with the Native American community in their Day of Mourning. I didn’t go with them. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to sleep late.  Rather,  I felt my place was at Harvard1

Selamat datang, Sat sri akaal

Flickr tells me that this how to greet people in Malaysian and Punjabi respectively.  The thumbnail pictures are links to  larger images hosted on Flickr.

"The world holds enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed." Grandi by the entrance to Occupy Harvard. A floral wreath was added for Thanksgiving/Day of Mourning The population of Occupy Harvard was swelled by the arrival of Romance Language faculty, family, and friends.

The world holds enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.

Folks at Occupy Boston gave Ghandi a floral wreath for the Thanksgiving/Day of Mourning holiday. The ranks of Occupy Harvard were swelled by the arrival of Romance Language faculty, family, and friends.

Population of Occupy Harvard was swelled by Romance Language faculty, family and friends.    The spread on Thanksgiving/Day of Mourning brought by occupiers and supporters. There was more than one flavor of occu-pie.

A small sample of Romance Language faculty. They were quite good at mingling. I’m glad to see Harvard hasn’t squashed the romance out of their spirits. The spread on Thanksgiving/Day of Mourning brought by occupiers and supporters. There was more than one flavor of occu-pie.

 My apology to Dr. Allen Counter and family. They showed up with a heap of provisions. When Dr. Allen said smoked turkey, I kind of forgot to take pictures. It was greatly appreciated throughout the day and into the next day.  We clearly heard him say it was from the administration. Some folks thought they had heard the President mentioned. I think we should assume the best and thank her. As John Miller, CEO of Intermetrics, Inc.2 pointed out, “Thank you’s are cheap.”

Occupy Harvard encampment with the skeleton of the geodesic dome in the center. Massachusetts Hall is in the backgound.    Occupy Harvard encampment with the skeleton of the geodesic dome in the center. Harvard Hall is in the background.

Occupy Harvard encampment with the skeleton of the geodesic dome in the center. On the left Massachusetts Hall is in the backgound and on the right Harvard Hall.

 

1At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
2Intermetrics was a spinoff of the MIT Instrumentation Lab which specialized in missle guidance. I*2’s claim to fame was that they wrote the compiler for the Space Shuttle. I*2 is no longer in business. The Instrumentation Lab is now known as the Draper Lab.

Occupy Boston: The Woman at the Wheel

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Not a “fallen woman” at all, but one of our regular and remarkably patient donors. She pulled over next to the Greenway drive near The Vent. The policeman on duty would not let her stand while we retrieved the pots she had lent us the night before. She had to circle. When we reunited her with her pots – huge restaurant size pots – I told her, “Thank you. We can’t make it without you.” She replied, “We can’t make it without you.”

Matt Taibbi has stopped worrying about “the message.”

Occupy Harvard claims the Old Yard

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Tent City of Occupy Harvard in front of the John Harvard statue in the Old Yard, November 10, 2011

 

By second hand accounts, it was a fairly exciting evening in and around Harvard Yard.  I first suspected something was up when a second guard was assigned to Lamont Library on my shift at about 6PM.  Students started mentioning to me that there were a lot of police in the yard. Then the word – lockdown. No one without a Harvard ID was allowed in the Yard. Occupy Harvard had planned to rendezvous at the John Harvard statue. Occupy Cambridge rallied in front of the Holyoke Center outside the Yard. In order to have a General Assembly all could attend they moved to the Law School. There was the now standard Occupy Consensus Process based largely on anarchist tradition1.

Democracy is messy.  – Donald Rumsfeld trying to justify the looting and pillage after the “allies” occupied Baghdad.

Consensus is messier. Rightly so. It is much closer to true direct democracy. – the guy by the door

 

Occupy Cambridge wanted to Occupy the Common, but Occupy Harvard had their hearts set on the Yard. This won out. With the Harvard Police still controlling access to the Yard. Occupy Harvard proceeded into the Yard, while Occupy Cambridge marched around just outside the wall. There was an attempt from OC to push into the Yard to join OH.   A young woman, got her leg caught in a gate as the Harvard University Police tried to close it. The crowd moved in and pushed back on the police hard enough to free her. One member of Occupy Boston vaulted over the gate, was immediately detained, but then released. Dean of Student Life Suzy Nelson appeared and spoke with about 100 students. She expressed support for them, but asked them to occupy somewhere else. The occupiers started putting up tents. Divinty students created a ring of protection around them.  The police chief paced about. There were no arrests. By the time I arrived on the scene more than 20 tents were erected, the police had retreated to the gates, and all seemed quiet.

1My new friend Will showed my a pamphlet that I believe was from the Wobblies. I can’t find it right now. I will have a great deal more to say about it.  The central point is quite simple.  Consensus seeks to arrive at a decision that everyone owns. It seeks to avoid having to force anyone “go along”.

Stop Harvard land grabs from Africa to AllstonWe want a university for the 99%, not a corporation for the 1%

Withdraw thy savings from ye olde school bank!

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There are two parties urging you to do this.

Jerry Stiller

One of the parties is Jerry Stiller:

Jerry Stiller in New York City for a book reading for Festivus

Jerry Stiller in New York City for a book reading for Festivus.
[Photo: Daniel Krieger via Wikimedia Foundation]

I could not navigate the copyright quagmire well enough to show you the actual ad.  But Jerry is a paid spokesman for the 1%.

Capital None

We, the 99%, urge you to move your money  out of any for-profit  bank and deposit it in a not-for-profit credit union.  It is not a radical idea, but is does fall within the scope of direct action broadly understood. I heard it proposed by two time gubernatorial candidate Grace Ross1.  There was one earlier attempt by Occupy_Boston.2  I was told that the banks simply refused to give them their money.  The current effort appears to be nationwide. Like many things associated with Occupy .*3, leadership is “dynamic and evolving.”  The Facebook incarnation lists Kristen Christian from LA as originator and it is called Bank Transfer Day.  Occupy Boston lists  Move Your Money.

The Move Your Money Project describes itself on the bottom of it’s home page as  Another Stadia Studio ProjectIt appears to be a for-profit venture from St. Louis MO. I’ll reserve judgement about whether that is a problem for what I hope will qualify as an anti-capitalist movement. Occupy Wall Street was started by Adbusters Magazine. A reporter from the Wall Street Journal  took that to be proof that we are at heart a capitalist movement. Wikipedia paints a picture of Kalle Lasn at the very least opposed to corporatocracy. And my new friend Liam tells me that Lasn is “the real deal.”

The project has produced a video which has very high productions values.  Footage from “It’s a Wonderful Life” is intercut with footage from CNN and CSPAN from 2008.  It is well done, but I’m concerned that folks will buy into the idea that banks are the only way to aggregate capital but had strayed just a bit in Frank Capra’s time. By 1946, the New Deal and/or World War II had mitigated the worst of the Depression. But in the early days of the Depression a lot of folks were more with Woody Guthrie in The Ballad of Pretty Boy  Floyd:

Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered
I’ve seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won’t never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.

Despite it’s fairly moderate approach, I do think Move Your Money Day is worth doing for those that have some4. It is a way to support Occupy .* It is not radical, but it may help. And perhaps it will inspire more dramatic efforts.

We, at Dewey Square and others sites around the nation and around the world would not still be in place were it not for the outpouring of community support. Thank you. I hope, fairly soon, to discuss what I have learned about Consensus, Contradiction, and Community.

To add some energy to this movement, some friends from Occupy Boston will leave Dewey Square on a tour of the Financial District Saturday morning Nov. 5 at 10:30 AM.

I will be at Harvard guarding the library.

 

1Grace ran once on the Green-Rainbow Party ticket. It was the Massachusetts branch of the national Green Party. Green-Rainbow still exists, but is has been demoted to a ‘political designation’ due to low vote count. She ran again as a Democrat.  She gave an excellent talk at Community Church of Boston.

2If you want to appear hipper than you really are, you can follow @Occupy_Boston on Twitter.

3I have used the language of regular expressions in the title of a previous post. I repeat the explanation. Regular expressions are a part of the Chomsky Hierarchy – Class 3 according to Wikipedia. I had used them for thirty years. In all that time, I never heard Chomsky’s name connected with them even though I heard his name at anti-war rallies all the time. The dot is the symbol for any single character in the alphabet of the language. The asterisk indicates “zero or more occurences”. Combined, they match any number of anythings i.e. all possible sentences of the language. Occupy is growing.

4I’m not penniless, but close to it thanks to the recalcitrance of Mr. Leo Godwin of the Quincy office of the United States of Blackwater Revenue Service. Even without Leo, Harvard’s campaign to reduce the standard of living of it’s low wage workers would have me homeless as I am. But what money I do have is in the Harvard University Employees Credit Union.

Make History: End Foreclosures; Report Back

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My new friend, Virginia Pratt,  argues

It’s Time to Recall the Sub-prime Loans

Make History: End Foreclosures

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The Bankers Are Coming! the Bankers Are Coming!

City Life/Urbana Vida member in a twelve foot ‘banker’ puppet.

The American Banking Association began their annual meeting in Boston yesterday. Their theme? “History Happens Here, Be A Part of It” A coalition of social justice groups called on local activists to join in greeting them:  Jobs With Justice | National People’s Action | Northwest Federation of Community Organizations | Alliance to Develop Power | City Life/ Vida Urbana | Pico National Network | Massachusetts Communities Action Network | New England United for Justice | ACCE1 | SEIU. The coalition had a somewhat different theme:

Demonstrators with sign "We Will Not Be Moved".

Be A Part of Making History: Demand Big Bankers Fix the Foreclosure Crisis and Keep Their Hands Off Our Homes!

These are the same bankers who crashed the economy — costing over 8 million jobs — and are foreclosing on our homes. Over 5 million homes have already been lost! Now, these Bankers are under investigation for snatching homes they cannot prove they own!

If that is not bad enough, they just announced that they will pay their top executives an all-time record of nearly $150 billion this year! Enough is Enough!

We Demand the Bankers Fix the Foreclosure Crisis which will help get our economy moving by committing to:

  • Freeze foreclosures in all 50 states
  • Keep Families in their homes through real mortgage modification including principle reduction and cutting interest rates to current market levels.

Like Paul Revere — the alarm has been sounded and we need your help getting our message through!

*_TAKE ACTION_*

I joined them on Sunday, Oct 17 at 4 PM in Copley Square:

City Life/Vida Urbana at Copley anti banker rally

I went with some new friends from my new church, the  Community Church Boston. I ran into two old friends from Dorchester People for Peace.

Denise and Jeff from Dorchester People for Peace; David and Old Mick from Community Church of BostonOld friends: Jeff [Trabajos con Justica] and Denise from Dorchester People for Peace.
New Friends: David and Old Mick[Freeze Foreclosure Now!]

I had to leave early to guard the library.  I don’t know how much larger the gathering got. And I could not march with them to the Hynes Convention Center.  But …

Another Chance to Make History

Tuesday, Oct. 19: Gather at 4 PM, Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St.

1My apologies to ACCE,  but I could not unambiguously determine a URI for them.

AP wire: Summers to Leave White House return to Harvard.

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Associated Press writer Julie Page reports.

Caren Bohan and Ross Colvin of Reuters weigh in.

I’m working on the ‘Welcome Home’ party.

The initial report of the announcement from the Crimson.

The Crimson followed up with discussion of the role that Harvard’s tenure rules may have played in Summers’ decision.

The Obama administration emphasized Harvard’s policy in its announcement that Summers would resign his post, but many critics publicly wondered whether the University could not have made an exception for someone of Summers’ stature.

Translation: No, we’re not unhappy with him or he with us. It’s just that Harvard tenure is just too good to lose. Re-translation: No nuthin’ wrong here.

This same discussion came up when N. Gregory Mankiw returned to Harvard Economics after serving as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. At one time, Chair of CEA was the highest ranking economics position in the White House. Recent news coverage makes it appear that the position Summers held, Director of the National Economics Council is now the highest.

G8, G20, or the World? Shout Out for Global Justice

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As finance ministers and heads of state of the world’s “richest” nations gathered for first the G8 and later the G20 meeting, the Council of Canadians held a ‘Shout Out for Global Justice’  featuring an abundance of resourceful people from the left. If you follow Democracy Now!, you can hear Amy Goodman’s talk, “Drilling, Spilling and Killing: From Oil Spills to Oil Wars.”  DN! sent out a Tweet pointing to a Canadian news outlet, I had not heard of rabble.ca. You can see the whole ‘Shout Out’ streamed on a loop from RabbleTV.  You can also see how the Canadian government spent more than $1 Billion fortifying Toronto for the G20 meeting and some of the demonstrations that have occurred.

Included in the ‘Shout Out’ are a bunch of people with interesting and resourceful responses to NeoLiberal globalization.

Dr. Vandana Shiva has been successful in thwarting the attempt by U.S. chemical giant Monsanto to monopolize the seed stock of Indian agriculture. I have a woman friend from India who is not particularly left politically. She has completed her medical training.  She acknowledges that, “It was a good thing she [Shiva] did with the seeds.”  My friend understands biology, I hope she will grow in political economy as well.

Pablo Solon, Bolivian UN Ambassador, discusses the struggle to resist privatization of resources in Bolivian. Many losses preceded the eventual success in resisting the privatization of water.

Naomi Klein, remarks on the security surrounding the G20 meeting.

Maude Barlow, Chairman of the Council of Canadians and author of Blue Gold.

More  to come…

Time to guard the library.

Robert Rubin @ the Sackler Museum today?

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A friend tells me he has seen a small number of posters for an appearance by former Treasury Secretary, former Citigroup adviser, and still Harvard Fellow Robert Rubin.  According to my source the talk is in the Auditorium of the Sackler Museum on the corner of Broadway and Quincy St.  at 4:00 PM today 4/5/2010. The friend wonders, how long it will take Rubin to say, “It wasn’t my fault.” I ask what form of HarvSpeak will he use to say, “It wasn’t my fault.”

The politics of the “Peace Prize”.

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440px-Official_portrait_of_Barack_Obama

Barack Obama {Photo: Wikimedia Foundation}

The Norwegian Nobel  Committee1 has announced the 2009 prize winner US President Barack Obama.

“We would like to enhance, to support what he is trying to do.”

Naomi Klein [Photo: Wikimedia Foundation]

Naomi Klein {Photo: Wikimedia Foundation}

Noami Klein2 was interviewed on Democracy Now! this morning and ran a fairly good list of why this award is a bad idea. Mostly, she points out that despite what he has said, Obama has not done much for peace.  The  web rebroadcast is on a loop every hour on :09.  A large raster bittorrent download should be available by 11:00 AM.

British-Pakistani historian, journalist and activist Tariq Ali was also interviewed on DN! [They tried to reach journalist Jeremy Scahill3, but had technical difficulties.] In his talk at Harvard, Tariq expressed his doubt that US military activity in Pakistan is in the US long term interest. In today’s interview he points out, among other things, that the war in Iraq-Afghanistan goes on apace with an increase in troops in Afghanistan. Tariq pointed out some of the questionable awards in the past.

1Note that the ‘Nobel Prizes’ are awarded in memory of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel and presented by the King of Sweden. My favorite anomaly is the inclusion of the Bank of Sweden Prize, not funded from the Nobel estate, with the Nobel prizes. This does not make Amartya SenA the spawn of satan, but it tarnishes his halo a bit. Robert Merton and Myron Sholes who won “for a new method to determine the value of derivatives” [mortgage backed securities anyone?] , on the other hand, clearly are the spawn of satan. We don’t need to make a fuss about the Late Larry Summers’B hero Milton Friedman, but one has to wonder how someone who gets people fired for wanting to regulate underbacked highly liquid securities can be regarded as a monetarist.

2Naomi, offered her critique of Milton Friedman and his disciple Donald Rumsfeld, in her book, The Shock Doctrine. Basically, Friedman who favored ‘non-interventionist government’ nonetheless thought that the only way to get there is by engineering ‘shock and awe’.

3Jeremy is the chronicler of “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.”

ASen has a quality that the LateB Larry Summers will never be accused of. He is disarmingly charming.

BFor those who have, for whatever reason, not been following tgbtd, is there life after Harvard?

Rally and March for Jobs and A Real Economic Recovery

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I don’t remember which social network thing alerted me to this, but the open tab in my browser is:
Mass Jobs with Justice Logo

October 1st is the one-year anniversary of the Wall Street bail out.  The government gave hundred$ of billion$ of dollar$ to save the bank$ and in$urance companies, but where are the jobs?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

4:00 PM Kickoff at the State House

state-oct1

4:30 PM March through Downtown and the Financial District

secondline

4:41.39871 Rally at Verizon

verizon

vz-close

5:30 PM Rally at the Hyatt (One Avenue de Lafayette)

hyatt

Sponsors: (list in formation); Mass AFL-CIO; Greater Boston Labor Council; Mass. Jobs with Justice; IBEW Local 2222; IBEW Local 2313; IBEW Local 2321; IBEW Local 2322; IBEW Local 2323; IBEW Local 2324; IBEW Local 2325; CWA Local 1400; CWA District One; AFA-CWA Council 27; Teamsters Local 122; Operating Engineers Local 877; Utility Workers Local 369; UE Northeast Region; UFCW Local 1445; SEIU Local 509; SEIU Local 1199; Laborers Local 22; HERE Local 26; AFT-Massachusetts; Roofers Local 33; Plumbers Local 12; Sprinkler Fitters Local 550; Painters District Council 35; Boston Carmen’s Union; Professional Fire Fighters of Mass; Elevator Constructors Local 4; SEIU/NAGE 5000; APWU of Mass, Pipefitters Local 537; Mass. Teachers Association; MOSES; Boston Teachers Union, SEIU Local 615, IBEW Local 103; Teamsters Local 25; Mass ACORN; Community Labor United; North Shore Labor Council; Merrimack Valley CLC; Norfolk County Labor Council; Plymouth-Bristol Labor Council; Central MA AFL-CIO; Hampshire-Franklin CLC; Greater Southeastern Mass. CLC; Pioneer Valley CLC; Chelsea Collaborative; Irish Immigration Center; Mass Alliance Against Predatory Lending; Boston DSA; Mass Interfaith Cmte for Worker Justice; Lynn Health Task Force; Nat. Jobs for All Coalition; Nat. Lawyers’ Guild; AFSC; Mass Transgender Political Coalition; Centro Presente; Mass COSH; IWW; Union of Minority Neighborhoods; Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries; South East Asian Women’s Resource Group; City Life/Vida Urbana; Jewish Labor Committee; GALLAN; SEIU Local 888; WILD; Brazilian Immigrant Center; UAW MA State CAP Council; AEEF-CWA Local 1300, UFE, BWA, CPA, Metrowest Immigrant Center, La Commindad, UAW State CAP, Boston Building Trades, Mass Building Trades, APWU 100

They’re Mad as Hell …

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… and they’re not gonna take it anymore.1

Logo of Mad As Hell Doctors

Logo of Mad As Hell Doctors

They’re mad at the insurance companies, the Congress, and Obama. Rightfully so. They are by no means alone.

Much more, but now I must blog today’s rally for economic justice.

1Sound familiar? I don’t know who was the first to say it, but it became a fixture of American popular culture with the movie “A Thousand Clowns”.

No Rhyme or Reason: Executive Compensation of Bailed Out Banks

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From the July 31 Democracy Now!:

Report: Bailed-Out Banks Spent $32B in Bonuses in 2008

A new government report shows the nine largest US banks handed out more than $32 billion in bonuses last year while posting more than $81 billion in losses and receiving billions in taxpayer aid. According to the New York Attorney General’s office, nearly 4,800 Wall Street executives and employees were awarded bonuses of at least $1 million. More than 900 of those worked for Bank of America and Citigroup, two of the largest bailout recipients.

This remark from the website of NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo which posted the report was certainly a proper thing for him to do:

THE REPORT WAS PREVIOUSLY TRANSMITTED TO HOUSE OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN EDOLPHUS TOWNS (D-NY)

Unfortunately, recent revelations about loans Rep. Towns got from mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp, raise questions about its efficacy. But then, leaving the fox to watch the hen house is a Washington tradition.

Foreclosure Crisis: People Acting Locally II

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No Layoffs Campaign makes a showing at Harvard Commencement

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HLS No Layoffs @ Harvard Coimmencement

HLS No Layoffs @ Harvard Coimmencement

The No Layoffs Campaign, which argues that laying off low wage workers is not the way to deal with Harvard’s ‘financial woes’, made itself visible at the morning excercises of the Harvard Commencement. A phalanx of new graduates, held up yellow signs with one red letter each spelling out ‘No Layoffs’ . Most likely they are members of the Student Labor Action Movement which has been a cosponsoring group throughout the year. They appeared very briefly on the official internet feed.*

Update:  Graduates shown above were in fact members of SLAM from the Law School.  The No Lay Offs Campaign Blog has more complete report including pictures of the rest of the days activity.

*My experience has been that commerical internet video players block screen capture software. A word picture will have to do for the time being. I suspect that this will survive into the archival footage.

Foreclosure Crisis: People Acting Locally

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On Tuesday May 5, the Boston City Council Committee on Government Operations held a hearing on the protection of victims of the foreclosure crisis. Jason Pramos of Open Media Botson reports that over 60 activits attended [ photo]. There is also a number of bills before the Great and General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts1in this vein. The Green-Rainbow Party and City Life/Vida Urbana have invited me to a rally and hearing at the State House. The action alert from the Mass Alliance Against Predatory Lending website. It was todayTuesday May19.

Break Up the Banks Rally at the State House when I broke my camera.

Break Up the Banks Rally at the State House when I broke my camera.

It was a clear sunny day. Perfect for pictures. But since I broke the LCD at the “Break Up the Banks!” Rally, I couldn’t see that my camera was set wrong. The folks for City Life/Vida Urbana[CL/VU] showed up.

Steve Meacham of City Life/Vida Urbana [right] and Professor Jacqueline Bhabba of Harvard Law SchoolSteve Meacham of City Life/Vida Urbana [standing] with Professor Jacqueline Bhabba of Harvard Law School. See my earlier post.

Steve was in good form as he was two weeks ago. Professor Jacqueline was probably back at Harvard grading final exams.2 A number of members of the CL/VU Bank Tenants Association told their stories. They were seeking passsage of H.B. 1232 which would require the Banks to keep them as tenants until they actually sell the building.

Grace Ross who ran for Governor on the Green-Rainbow ticket, is leading the lobbying effort for Maapl. She made quite a good picture introducing the hit sensation anti-foreclosure group, ‘The Raging Grannies’.

Representative Gloria Fox came out to greet us. If we could just clone her about 200 times we would have a great legislature.

A number of public officials testified in favor of several iniatives citing the effects of the foreclosure crisis on their communities. Details of this legislation is available on the MAAPL Legislation page. MAAPL asks concerned citizens to contact their State legislators on these issues. It is not too late. The WhereDoIVoteMa website will give you links to your legislators’ home pages.

All of these measures affect a small segment of the people effected by the foreclosure crisis. The Obama plan is also limited. I urged the legislators to pass these bills because we, the homeless, do not really need anymore company in a system that is already taxed beyond the limit. They must pass these bills quickly because there is much more needs doin’ There are so many more in the foreclosure pipeline.

pipeline

1This is the offcial name of the state legislature. ‘Court’ is in the name but it is not judiciary.

2Lee Goldstine was there and testified, but he was not representing Harvard i.e. I don’t think Bob Iuliano asked him to go :).

Swine Flu, Structural Adjustment Flu, or NAFTA Flu?

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Swine flu masked train passengers in Mexico City -April 2009

Swine flu masked train passengers in Mexico City -April 2009 {Photo: Wikimedia Foundation}

Biologist Robert G. Wallace appeared on Democracy Now! with an analysis of the origin of the “swine flu” based on a

…cutting-edge formalism based on the asymptotic limit theorems of information theory to describe how punctuated shifts in mesoscale ecosystems can entrain patterns of gene expression and organismal evolution.

that he presents in his forthcoming Springer1 published book, “Farming Human Pathogens Ecological Resilience and Evolutionary Process”.

Robert G., one of three Wallaces who authored the book. thinks that “swine flu” is a misleading monacher.

…pigs have very little to do with how influenza emerges. They didn’t organize themselves into cities of thousands of immuno-compromised pigs. They didn’t artificially select out the genetic variation that could have helped reduce the transmission rates at which the most virulent influenza strains spread. They weren’t organized into livestock ghettos alongside thousands of industrial poultry. They don’t ship themselves thousands of miles by truck, train or air. Pigs do not naturally fly.

The onus must be placed on the decisions we humans made to organize them this way. And when we say ‘we’, let’s be clear, we’re talking how agribusinesses have organized pigs and poultry.

This quote is from his blog, Farming Pathogens: Disease in a world of our own making. He argues that factory farming, in this case of pigs and poultry, was spread first to East Asia and later to Mexico, by the structural adjustment requirements of loans made by the International Monetary Fund. Wallace calls this the “Nafta Flu” because NAFTA is the local instance structural adjustment that brought us this particular flu which broke out in Mexico. NAFTA was mostly the work of the George H.W. Bush whitehouse, but the Clinton whitehouse signed it.

1For those on the humanities side of the Two Cultures problem, Springer, formerly Springer-Verlag, has long been one of the leading publishers of establishment science. The Late Larry, who tries to borrow legitimacy for economics from real sciences, will have a hard time dismissing something published by Springer.

The Future of Housing and What to Do About It.

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The Future of Housing Under the Current Regime:

Homeless man sleeping in the Harvard square T

[Photo: Courtesy of Direction Home]

What to Do About It?

Some muckahs from the Law School and;

some real people1 from City Life/Vida Urbana

Steve Meachem et al being arrested

presented:

Logo of the protecting Right to Housing Conference

I had hoped they would say what I have been saying all along. We need a moratorium on foreclosures and we need to write down the value of these predatory mortgages.  Steve, who you can see above being arrested for Harvard labor, has lead a number of eviction blockades. He provided a very concise [ 10-minute] summary of market failures in real estate.  Melonie was one of the foreclosed upon homeowners. The lawyers represented people in both foreclosure procedings and in post-foreclosure eviction proceedings.  Law student Nicholas Hartigan, said that his hope was to get enough  homeowners resisting foreclosure and eviction to force the banks to change their way of doing business.  This is better than letting the tide of foreclosures go unopposed, but a change in bank policy is more easily undone than legislation. But in the current environment, legislation is also harder to get.

1Anything but a One Dimensional Man, when Steve Meacham was a tenant organizer in Cambridge, between arrests, he did radical stuff like driving the truck for the food pantry. Walking the walk – it’s a good thing 🙂

Is GreeD the New Crimson?

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Dean Smith's town meeting.

The Student Labor Action Movement drops a banner at the ‘town meeting’
called by Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith.

Students Labor Action Movement drop 'Greed is the New Crimson' Banner.

It says, “Greed is the New Crimson, No Layoffs”

One questioner asked the Dean, “How did we get where we are now? Did we believe the paper gains in the endowment were real?” It’s a very real question oh so carefully couched in academic terms. My homes I be sayin’ it, “Did the Late Larry Summers and Robert Rubin convince the rest of the Fellows they were real.?” Smith’s particular way of ducking was to say, “Not in my job description.” A dean will only answer a question about the conduct of the Fellows if s/he1 becomes more afraid of the shellacing from ‘below’ than the shellacing from ‘above’. All the orchestration and control at the event was an attempt to prevent shellac. 2 We’ll see.

Tomorrow. Expecting news from Iris Mack. The Larry Summers interest-rate swaps on the new buildings. Y’all come back, hear?

1Could somebody please show me how to do the non-sexist thing without bludgeoning the lingo?

2So now you know what you’ve gotta do 🙂 This allow gives you some ‘guidance’ about seeking administrative positions. I refer to the Russ Meyer film Super Vixens which I actually saw after I became an enlightened feminist. I was pretty upset about some of the more graphic scenes of gratuitous violence toward women but there was one line, the one applicable here, that I found funny. I will assume that the Berkosphere censorship code is no stricter than network television and use the BattleStar Galactica word ‘frackin’:

“Always be sure the frackin you get is worth the frackin you take.”

Is Harvard Too Big to Fail?

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Formerly mighty financial services institutions get bailouts because, we are told, they are too big to fail. Does formerly mighty Harvard, down to single digit $Billions, need a bailout too? They haven’t asked for one. Their solution? Layoff workers. In response, Cambridge City Councilors Decker and Reeves have offered an “Economic Stimulus Package for Harvard and MIT.” As a “non-profit” institution Harvard is exempt from, among other things, property taxes in the City of Cambridge [and with the Allston Campus, Boston as well.] But Harvard is required to meet with the City Manager and negotiate a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT). The Council Order would forego about $398, 372 of the Harvard PILOT to cover the salary of 19 cleaners and about $ 70,688 of the MIT PILOT to cover the salary of 2 cleaners. For those watching at home, that’s $20,967/Harvard cleaner and $35,344/MIT cleaner. I gotta ask if Harvard has had some Living Wage slippage here. The Katz Commission that resulted from the Mass Hall Sit-In of 2001, insisted that their had to be ‘market discipline’. They were afraid that Harvard might pay the janitors too well and bring on a colossal market failure. These figures show you that Harvard is not a “price taker” in the labor market. [Doesn’t anyone at Harvard know any economics?] Harvard is a market maker and it has always and still does set it’s wages for low wage workers lower than ‘comparable’ institutions. What we got here is a local market failure engineered by the same guys that brought you THE BIG ONE.

The Medium Sized Picture

The Order was in legislative limbo going into this meeting. I asked them to leave it there for bit. Here’s why. While there has been some activism on this:

No Layoff Campaign in Snow

This week will probably have better weather.

Second of all, there are lots of other things to look at about the University’s finances before we ask the Cambridge homeowners to forego such little as the PILOT provides.1 Among them:

Get back the $3+ Million we paid the Late Larry for mismanaging the University.

Get back the $2+ Million we paid the Late Larry since he mismanaged the University.

Get back the $26.5 Million fine the Late Larry paid for, out of the University coffer, for his regrettably still alive crony Andrei Shleifer. Together with legal fees the total is probably more like $30 Million. In case you missed it, the early history of the tawdry affair is chronicled in:

Janine R. Wedel, The Harvard Boys Do Russia, The Nation June 1, 1998

Subsequent revelations are revealed in an article written by Harvard Alumnus David McClintock which appeared in Institutional Investor 1/13/06. Titled, How Harvard Lost Russia, it was passed around the faculty shortly before Summers’ resignation. If you have trouble finding it, bring your Driver’s License to Harvard’s Lamont Library and ask to sign in for Government Documents. Reference staff will help you find it as a network resource. Harvard has a site license. As of this writing there is an open source mirror online.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael Smith is due to hold a town meeting with his folks 2 today. Hope sombody asks him about this stuff.

The Big Picture

We need to look at the political economy of Harvard in the era of the Summers-Rubin led irrational exuberance or, if you prefer, derivative security feeding frenzy. I need to get ready for the Dean’s town meeting now[See above]. If you aren’t going why not check out Noam’s interview with Amy on Democracy Now! If you are going to the town meeting and haven’t seen the McClintock article, you could take a look.

1Harvard PILOT 2008 $2,173,492. I don’t know what the total assessed value of all Harvard property is, but I’m pretty sure that if we looked at what Harvard would pay if treated like a normal private business, the PILOT amounts to a small fraction of a penny on the dollar. If you have good numbers on this, by all means e-mail me at: the (dot) guy (dot) by (dot) the (dot) door (at) gmail (dot) comA,B

2This expository vagueness is the result of desperation. I couldn’t call us ‘constituents’ cause we didn’t vote for him. Nor did we vote for anybody up to and including The Fellows. I can’t call us ‘subjects’ without knowing the man. Is there anything majestic about him?

AYou can comment if you are in the Berkosphere. I apologize for not having my comments open, but with the proliferation of comment-spambots. I can’t keep up with the moderation effort necessary.

BIf anybody tried to e-mail me with yesterday’s e-address please try again with today’s. Spam was in part to blame.