News and Noteworthy this Week

Welcome to the website of the Occupy Alternative Banking working group.  Explore the site to learn more  about us, but for a consistent stream of interesting news and analysis on what is happening in the (broken) financial system and whatever else happens to interest us, keep an eye trained here: our popular “News and Noteworthy this Week” page.

From the week of June 28 to July 4, 2015

  1. We agreed to listen to these two videos to discuss on Sunday
  2. Our speakers from last Sunday have started a web site myusueragreement.com to try to organize collective resistance to corporate use of our data.
  3. One more example of “marble columns” and how laws are ignored by elites
  4. To dispel the notion that the Supreme Court had turned into a force for good, they decided health considerations are not a valid reason to reduce the mercury we breathe. It must be measured in dollars and cents.
  5. Scott has posted a book review comparing Engel’s organizing to OWS. Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. But, can those do who know history make progress? We hope so.
  6. Good to see Occupy getting some favorable notice. But this article would have been much better if they bothered to speak to people in the many offshoots of Occupy that are still working. Please contribute information about them on this Wikipedia page which is woefully incomplete.
  7. Not much attention being paid to Puerto Rico, why?
  8. Race talk and white fragility.
  9. Of course, nothing is true until NPR “discovers” it.  Still, Ta-Nehisi Coates is just one of the most recent of many folks who have been digging into local, state and the federal government’s complicity regarding segregation for years.
  10. Turmoil worsens in Greece
  11. Stocks drop in China
  12. We need a poet.
  13. At least we do have a photographer. See Gwenn’s pictures of OWS
  14. Your suggestions here? Please scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page and enter your suggestions for posts.

From the week of June 21 to June 27, 2015

  1. Google eavesdropping tool installed without permission

Alternative Banking Speaker on Sunday at 2 on
How Companies Use Our Data to Empty Our Wallets

  1. Institutional discrimination, past and present
    1. Historian Says Don’t ‘Sanitize’ How Our Government Created Ghettos
      • In case you are thinking “this is bad but happened before I was born”, please note:
        • The effects are very persistent. Home ownership was an important way people accumulated wealth in the past 50 years
        • While explicit discrimination is less common now, more subtle forms are still with us.
    2. US Army subjects Blacks to horrific experiments during WW II
  2. Greece approaches the brink. Are they going to stay firm?
  3. John Oliver explains how bail system punishes poor people without trial. it would be funny if it weren’t so sad and disturbing.
  4. What would Gandhi do? SC Gov. Nikki Haley wants to take down the confederate battle flag but says the law needs to be changed, first. There are laws it is immoral to obey. This is one.
    1. By the way, previously, Gov. Haley said flag was OK because her bosses—corporate CEOs—didn’t mind it. Rare openness about who is running the country.
  5. “Fast Track” is on its way to passage. Defeat for labor, environmentalists and democracy
  6. How to meet housing needs. Proposal from UK may be helpful in NY.
  7. Let’s be thankful for small victories: Supreme Court lets 1968 fair housing law stand — maybe even strengthens it and, with more fanfare, does the same for Obamacare
  8. John Stewart comment about our response (or lack thereof) to Charleston killings.
  9. Crony Capitalism Watch:
  10. New Study Debunks Myth That Exorbitant CEO Pay Results from “Talent”, you’ll be shocked to learn it’s higher than ever and not merited.
  11. “The government has a legal duty to protect its people against the threat of climate change” — and a Dutch court recognized that fact.

From the week of June 14 to June 20, 2015

  1. Please check out “moodle” for Occupy Summer School course on activism.
  2. Outrage in Charleston— This IS America!
  3. TPP effort wounded but not dead. People need to keep fighting House Sends Trade Bill Back to Senate in Bid to Outflank Foes
  4. Pope calls for action on climate change. Blames ‘ecological crisis’ on the indifference of the powerful
  5. YES MEN take a more light-hearted approach to protesting climate change
  6. A new white privilege? the privilege of choosing your race.
  7. In a rich society, why don”t we protect children from basic threats to their health?
  8. Greece refusing to do the impossible
  9. Save the US Post Office before it’s too late
  10. Robert Reich’s 10 “Ways to Save the Economy” is “End Mass Incarceration

From the week of June 7 to June 13, 2015

  1. Progress but not victory on fraudulent student loans
    1. After much pressure from the Debt Collective and Corinthian student debt strike
    2. The Dept. of Education, finally, agreed to forgive the students’ debt
    3. But, as the Debt Collective points out, it should have been a blanket action, rather than requiring each student to file paperwork
    4. One bright spot: this is a policy change, not just an exception for Corinthian students
  2. Even slower progress — G7 countries reluctantly set weak climate goals
  3. By now, millions of people have seen a police officer pull his gun on a group of teenagers attending a pool party in McKinney, Texas. A police officer’s actions made some WaPo reporters wonder: Didn’t the McKinney, Texas, police officer know he was being recorded? The bigger question here (and perhaps one of the most interesting questions of the next decade or so) is whether knowing you’re being filmed all the time will alter your behavior; and if it does, will it be for the better or worse?
  4. “They are price-gouging because they can. They are marking up the prices because no one is telling them they can’t.” That’s Johns Hopkins professor Gerard Anderson explaining a report on 50 hospitals that charged uninsured patients more than 10 times the cost of care. No one wants too much regulation, but this is what happens to patients when the free market meets a prostate exam.
  5. Podcast: Another vision of an alternative to global crony capitalism  How a businesswoman considers her workers, her local community, her customers and prospers.
  6. Students and moral outrage
  7. Criminalizing poverty “About 85% of the people in Rikers have not been convicted of any offense”
    1. Poor, accused and punished by bail system
    2. Video: The burden of bail
    3. Society is choosing to do this, the justice system could be more just
    4. And, it goes both ways — we imprison for people for being poor , and we financially exploit those convicted.
  8. The poor make better financial decisions than the wealthy
    1. Except, that financial stress leads to bad decisions

From the week of May 31 to June 6, 2015

  1. At the Left Forum, we discussed the failings of GDP
    1. It doesn’t measure what we care about
    2. And does it badly
    3. Here are some alternatives:
      1. UN Human Development Index  — US ranks 28th, behind Hungary and Greece, when adjusted for inequality
      2. Social Progress Index  — US ranks 16. Pulled up by a good ranking in “Opportunity” — which makes you wonder how they measure opportunity
    4. See our new page.
  2. A Grim Choice for Addicts: Relapse or Be Homeless An investigation shows how “three-quarter” homes profit off the poor and desperate in New York City.
  3. Real Estate Laws
    1. Feud Over Real Estate Tax Break Cuomo defending unions, taxpayers v de Blasio — what is the world coming to?
    2. How New York’s Complex Rent Laws May Change — and Soon
  4. Thousands dead, few prosecuted Among the thousands of fatal shootings at the hands of police since 2005, only 54 officers have been charged, a Post analysis found. Most were cleared or acquitted in the cases that have been resolved.
  5. The Vicious Cycle of High Inequality. Why we would all be better off with less inequality, but why the current political/economic approach will lead us to more inequality.
  6. Cultural norms keeping rich “well-bred” white males on top
    1. Guess Who Doesn’t Fit In at Work
    2. Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs
  7. SEC Chief Is Latest Target for Elizabeth Warren’s Ire
  8. Inequality Troubles Americans Across Party Lines

From the week of May 24 to May 30, 2015

  1. Alternative Banking at the Left Forum
    1. What is Occupy Up To? Saturday, May 30 3:15 – 5 pm
    2. Open Discussion on the Financial System’s Dysfunction and Alternatives Sunday, May 31 10 am -12 noon

At the last meeting, we agreed that at the Left Forum we would discuss what we mean by “Alternatives”.
There have been reform proposals such as:

Robert Reich / MoveOn “Ten Ideas to Save the Economy
Roosevelt Institute / Joseph Stiglitz “Rewriting the Rules

These suggest things like “Breaking up the Banks”, “End Corporate Welfare”, “Make Full Employment the Goal” that basically are trying to make the current economic system work the way it is supposed to.

Then there are proposals to change the system more fundamentally:

DeGrowth including Naomi Klein
Open Source Society
Worker Cooperatives
Henry George School
The Next System Project
Basic Income Guarantee
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision

Let’s Discuss

From the week of May 17 to May 23, 2015

  1. Fossil fuels subsidized by $10m a minute, says IMF That is $5.300,000,000,000 a year
    1. Who says we can’t afford to address climate change? If we just stop digging a bigger hole, it would be a big step forward.
  2. McDonald’s workers fight for $15 wage
    1. McDonald’s bans media from shareholder meeting amid protest threat
    2. McDonald’s pay rise was a PR stunt, not a solution for workers
  3. Judge finds banks enormously deceitful during mortgage crisis. Sounds like fraud. Will our new AG prosecute?
  4. Rigging of Foreign Exchange Market Makes Felons of Top Banks
    1. Mathbabe comment
    2. Avid readers of this site heard about this 15 months ago
    3. Some SEC commissioners think there should be real accountability (and get outvoted by our wonderful SEC Chair Mary Jo White) is this just a charade?
  5. Integrity Is Still Lost on Wall Street, Survey Finds
  6. Robert Reich’s Ideas to Save the Economy #4: Bust Up Wall Street
  7. Let’s put alternative in Alternative Banking
    1. Community-Wealth.org
    2. The Next System Project
  8. Matt Taibbi, interviewed on Democracy Now, discusses the recent banking fines and guilty pleas (but nobody going to jail anyway), ‘Broken Windows’ policing (many people going to jail), and how the ‘Broken Windows’ theory and ‘Stop and Frisk’ police tactic led to Baltimore resistance following murder of Freddie Gray. Plus support for Bernie Sanders as honest presidential candidate and active opponent of Wall Street ‘Broken System’ crime. Video and complete transcript. Part Two of the discussion and transcript.
  9. Kansas redistributes money from the poor to the banks
    1. Kansas has found the ultimate way to punish the poor
    2. Kansas lawmakers want the poor to pay for tax cuts for the rich
    3. 3 ways making the poor prove they’re worthy of benefits is problematic

From the week of May 10 to May 16, 2015

  1. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered emergency measures on Sunday to combat the wage theft and health hazards faced by the thousands of people who work in New York State’s nail salon industry.
  2. Joseph Stiglitz and the Roosevelt Institute have just published a report analyzing the currently broken U.S. economy and presenting detailed policies and rules to fix it. Hour-long video, (with link to report) includes statements by Elizabeth Warren, Simon Johnson and de Blasio.
  3. What UberX Drivers Actually Earn. Emily Guendelsberger, in a thorough and thoroughly entertaining first-person story for Philadelphia City Paper. Eye-opening figures on what drivers actually earn. Brutal.
  4. Big Banks Expected to Plead Guilty to Felony Charges, but Punishments May Be Tempered “May be” means “will be”. Unfortunately, this hardly even qualifies as “news”
    1. One SEC Commissioner registers a public complaint (but gets outvoted)
  5. For 76 New Jobs, New York State Has Spent Tens of Millions The businesses getting the subsidies are happy.
  6. Art and inequality
    1. Activists New and Old Jab Art World
    2. The $179 Million Picasso That Explains Global Inequality
  7. De Blasio’s Housing Push Spurs Anxiety Among Those It’s Meant to Help

From the week of May 3 to May 9, 2015

  1. We are excited to announce we will be teaching Occupy Summer School
  2. Inequality is a choice
  3. Sunday’s speaker, Scott Hutchins, discussed the homeless shelter system.
    1. Scott’s essay
    2. Picture the Homeless
  4. “‘Our Demand Is Simple:  Stop Killing Us.’  How a group of black social-media activists built the nation’s first 21st-century civil rights movement.”  NYTimes article by Jay Caspian Kang (May 4, 2015)
  5. MasterCard doubles card numbers in Middle East, Africa
  6. The Price of Nice Nails (NYTimes 5/7/15); Part Two of report is now available here.
  7. NY City responds to activist pressure, bans credit checks for employment
  8. Real Estate tax abatements
    1. City’s residential construction boom insanely skewed toward super-rich
    2. NY State Senate speaker and son arrested in scandal about real estate tax abatments
    3. Real Estate lobby fights against community activists and  labor to keep tax breaks
  9. Wells Fargo commits outright fraud
    1. Wells Fargo advice on how to detect and report fraud
    2. but what if Wells Fargo is committing the fraud
  10. Appeals court rules unanimously that NSA data collection — which went on for years before Edward Snowden revealed it (and continued for years after) — is plainly illegal.
  11. Trans-Pacific Partnership will lead to a global race to the bottom
  12. Federal Election Commission chief says we can’t enforce the law, rampant disrespect for rules that are on the books

From the week of April 26 to May 2, 2015

  1. Baltimore
    1. Voices of the unheard voices from the Baltimore streets
    2. Why do they burn down their own neighborhood?
    3. Calling out the media and politicians for condemning black youth with
      1. their language
      2. and actions 
    4. Don’t let the 1% determine police reform for the 99%
  2. The buying of a President
    1. Campaign
    2. Personally
    3. Foundation
  3. The buying of public policy
    1. Obama Administration Trade Officials Received Hefty Bonuses from Big Banks
    2. Pimco recruits ex-Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke
  4. Sharing with whom
    1. Sharing and Caring
    2. Shaking up the sharing economy
  5. Watchdog: Another Fannie, Freddie bailout could happen.

From the week of April 19 to April 25, 2015

  1. Criminalizing Poverty
  2. Bill to “Fast Track” the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other “trade” deals has been introduced
    1. Why you should oppose it
    2. Call your senators and congresspeople
      1. If in NYS: Sen. Gillibrand (212) 688-6262
      2.                 Sen. Schumer : 212 486-4430,
      3. House switchboard (202) 224-3121
    1. The next economic system(s)
      1. The Next System.org
      2. What is a Worker Cooperative?
      3. Slow Money NYC
      4. Democracy at Work Institute
      5. Green Worker Cooperatives (local effort)
    2. 1,500,000 missing black men — not missing. They are dead or incarcerated.
    3. Will the Fed fix its regulatory capture problem? perhaps
  3. San Francisco Police Officers to Be Dismissed Over Racist Texts
  4. Can’t overemphasize this: Call your senators to tell them to oppose Fast Track, now!
    (Manny, why aren’t you in the picture  😉
  5. Anti-Test ‘Opt-Out’ Movement Makes A Wave In New York State
  6. Trying to strangle the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau
    1. This Is How Republicans Plan To Destroy Liz Warren’s Greatest Achievement
    2. Cutting the CFPB Budget
    3. After all, we don’t want a government agency that helps people.
  7. Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota
  8. A Response to Alec Baldwin’s Complaints That a Living Wage Rally Snarled Traffic.  Natasha has commented that the problem with the Left is that it is not funny.  This is.
  9. White parents in North Carolina are using charter schools to secede from the education system
  10. Secret Koch memo outlines plans for 2016
  11. Atlanta school scandal and privatization of public schools
  12. Driving While Black in the Bronx

From the week of April 12 to April 18, 2015

  1. Citizens United: The Elephant in the Room in Rahm Emanuel’s Mayoral Reelection
  2. Who Makes Cents: A History of Capitalism Podcast. What an amazing new resource. To get started, check out this earlier episode with Cornell’s Louis Hyman on the history of credit (the same guy teaching the MOOC with Edward Baptist on the History of American Capitalism).
  3. Why Teacher Morale Has Plummeted? Pretty cool when Newsweek is starting to talk the talk.
  4. Even “The Economist” has noticed that Investor-State Dispute Settlement panels are a tool of big multinational corporations. So, why is Obama so gung ho about TPP? Perhaps Citizens United is the elephant in the room, here too.
  5. Risky Moves in the Game of Life Insurance. “Captive reinsurance” is following on the pioneering efforts of Enron (special purpose vehicles) and Citi and other banks (special investment vehicles) — which are still widely used. They’ve worked so well in the past, no reason for regulators or the public to worry.
  6. Working, but Needing Public Assistance Anyway
  7. FIGHT FOR $15 AN HOUR AND A UNION.
  8. The Federal Reserve and Shared Prosperity:
    Why Working Families Need a Fed that Works for Them

    1. Podcast
    2. Report
  9. Voters Pushed Mayor Rahm to the Left. Will He Stay There? More recap of the Chicago mayoral election. A great new book “Only One Thing Can Save Us” by Chicago Teachers Union lawyer Tom Geoghegan argues we need to be causing crises in the Democratic party. Is he being proven right?
  10. Designing the Urban Commons. A great idea is getting implemented in London.  A design competition to re-imagine under-used public spaces as new urban commons.
  11. The  simple way Utah solved chronic homelessness and saved millions

From the week of April 5 to April 11, 2015

  1. Cornell West on the real, radical Martin Luther King, Jr
  2. Cornel West speaking on need for protests against mass incarceration and police brutality and murder
  3. Student Debt Strike Just Might Work
  4. Upset By Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Banks Debate Halting Some Campaign Donations. The only news in this story is that the banks were explicit about it and a reporter heard. This is just the way our corporatized government operates day-in, day-out.
  5. DEA sued over secret bulk collection of Americans’ phone records
  6. U.S. secretly tracked billions of calls for decades
  7. Questioning a housing plan NY City officials have started to question a little-known program that gives developers credits for building affordable housing units
  8. Walter Scott’s Killing Is a Direct Result of the Current State of Policing in America Today
  9. From the Fair Housing Act to Ferguson: Where You Live Impacts How You’re Policed
  10. Participatory Government: Real Money, Real Projects, Real Power? NYC invites residents to decide how to allocate the city’s spending — 0.03% of it.
  11. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Government Surveillance. There are very few government checks on what America’s sweeping surveillance programs are capable of doing. John Oliver sits down with Edward Snowden to discuss the NSA, the balance between privacy and security (and yes, dick-pics).
  12. Fight 215 Ending phone record surveillance is the first step to reining in surveillance abuses by the NSA. Please join us in making this the year we stand for privacy and liberty, not secrecy and fear.
  13. Did your taxes? Who (supposedly) Pays Federal Income Taxes? Want to know who pays how much globally? This is where your taxes went ( 2014, 2013 )… options for tax resistance if you don’t like where your taxes are spent.
  14. Cooper Union Offers to Let President Go as Part of Attorney General Deal


From the week of March 29 to April 4, 2015

  1. Analysis of leaked “chapter” of TPP.
    1. TPP is corporate corruption we can, and must, prevent
    2. It’s even worse than the critics feared.
  2. Obama could unmask big political donors. Will he?
  3. Exposing Hedge Fund Politics in NY (and elsewhere)
  4. Latest regulatory comment by Occupy the SEC: Asset Managers and Systemic Risk
  5. Department of Justice finds, quelle surprise, that HSBC is falling short in effort to clean up their act.
    1. HSBC is under a deferred prosecution agreement with DoJ
    2. So, this means DoJ should move ahead with prosecution.
    3. Much more likely, this will be an April Fools joke, on us, as has been the case in the past
  6. Under Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Considers Privatizing Half its Public Housing This ties-back to the affordable housing discussion, which talked about HUD’s “RAD” program, pursuant to which public housing is sold to private developers (along with considerable subsidies) in exchange for temporary commitments that they maintain it as public housing.  Chicago is apparently where RAD is going to be rolled-out in force.
  7. Stanford offers free tuition for families making less than $125,000
  8. Check out this newly released map (from Metrics Maps) of the states with more prisoners than college students. I get it that it would include Alabama and pretty much the whole south; but whatever happened to California.
  9. McDonald’s pay rise was a PR stunt, not a solution for workers
  10. New York City Consumer Agency Investigating Four For-Profit Colleges
  11. The Horror of Amazon’s New Dash Button
  12. Occupy Wall Street, the Tour

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