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 March 9 to March 15, 2015

  1. Accounting for inequality: Richer and Poorer (The New Yorker) by Jill Lapore. “The reason Democrats and Republicans are fighting over who’s to blame for growing economic inequality is that, aside from a certain amount of squabbling, it’s no longer possible to deny that it exists—a development that’s not to be sneezed at, given the state of the debate on climate change. That’s not to say the agreement runs deep; in fact, it couldn’t be shallower. The causes of income inequality are much disputed; so are its costs. And knowing the numbers doesn’t appear to be changing anyone’s mind about what, if anything, should be done about it”.
  2. Blacks and the Master/Slave Relation. For the first time in a while, Against the Grain radio has a very worthwhile interview–with Frank Wilderson of UC Irvine. He talks about his thesis (apparently relying on Harvard’s Orlando Paterson) that  a master-slave relationship between American blacks and whites continues to undergird both groups’ identities, and that it happens at a social level that is more foundational than a Marxian economic account can capture.  There is some pretty controversial and abstract thinking here, but really well presented.
  3. Mark Lance Discusses Anarchism.  Who would have thought you could get a really straight forward and favorable overview of the history and arguments behind anarchism–from a conversation between a University of Chicago Philosophy Department podcaster and a Georgetown professor.
  4. Will the Supreme Court Make Disparate Impact Disappear?  And if that did not surprise you from the U of C, the first speaker in this podcasted law school panel gives a great account of the history of housing discrimination, the importance of litigation to combat it, and the possible impact of the Supreme Court’s current review of the long-standing disparate impact theory of liability.
  5. Good podcast on thinking about economics as if the Earth mattered. Slow Money from the ExtraEnvironmentalist podcast. Let’s put “alternative” in Alternative Banking.
  6. Does Capitalism Drive Drug Addiction? Mind-expanding discussion of causes of drug addiction.
  7. One reason (of many) it is good we have unions:
    1. Print:AFL-CIO head on Obama’s trade push: ‘We are going all out to oppose it’
    2. Video:Obama, Unions On Opposite Sides Of The (Fast) Track For Trade Deals
  8. Many of New York City’s homeless shelters are plagued by unsafe and unhealthy conditions, according to a report from the Department of Investigation released Thursday. The report is about 185 pages long, but it is worth reading the executive summery at the beginning. From the summery: ‘…For Fiscal Year 2013, DHS’ expenditures for non- contracted family shelters, which only house approximately one quarter of families in the shelter system, totaled $108,513,389.06 ($78,176,198 for hotels, $28,213,955 for non-contracted clusters, and $2,123,194 for non-contracted Tier IIs). In comparison, DHS is paying $259,931,620 in expenditures for contracted facilities, which house approximately three-fourths of the City’s homeless families. But even for the shelters that have contracts, DHS does not use the contracts to enforce terms or impose penalties for non-compliance. Moreover, in some cases, these rents can be three-times the average rent in the relevant neighborhood. While the cost arguably includes social services, DOI found that in many cases those services were minimal at best’.
  9. Blockupy
    - Protest Calling on Eurozone to Dismantle “Laboratory for Austerity”
    - Syriza and Podemos Part of German Blockupy Protests
    - Anti-ECB protest in Frankfurt – in pictures
    - Global Revolution #blockupy

From the week of March 2 to March 8, 2015

  1. States predict inmates’ future crimes with secretive surveys and frightening implications.
  2. Walmart’s Visible Hand. Paul Krugman’s take on Walmart’s wage increase.
  3. European Banks vs. Greek Labour
  4. Affordable Housing Needs a Reset a new Alt-Banking Huffington Post blog post.
  5. De Blasio and Developer Are Close, but Not on Lower-Cost Housing.
  6. Justice Department Finds a Pattern of Civil Rights Violations by the Ferguson Police Department
  7. Ferguson Residents Challenge “Modern Debtors’ Prison Scheme” Targeting Blacks with Fines, Arrests
  8. One in five millennials lives in poverty, report finds

From the week of February 23 to March 1, 2015

  1. Strike Debt organizes debt strike against predatory for-profit “college”
    1. video: Students Launch Historic Debt Strike, Refusing to Pay Back Predatory College Loans
    2. article: ‘We won’t pay': students in debt take on for-profit college
  2. The Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose
  3. Net neutrality activists score landmark victory in fight to govern the internet
    1. How do we get people more active on their own, not prompted by internet companies with vested interests?
  4. Sometimes Obama Steps Up
    1. It remains to be seen if this will get through the Wall Street lobbyists intact.
  5. Pretext for Regime Change in Argentina? The Politicization of the AMIA Investigation
  6. A Whistleblower’s Horror Story by Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone). Years after blowing the whistle on Countrywide, Michael Winston is bogged down in the courts, and fighting for his life.
  7. US bank regulators may destroy Somalia’s economy
  8. Hey NYPD, how does this fit with broken window policy?

From the week of February 16 to February 22, 2015

  1. Slavery and the making of American capitalism
  2. Elizabeth Warren Calls a Banking Lobbyist’s Bluff
  3. Bank misbehavior, past, present and future
    1. A bank reluctantly, sort of, acknowledging willful wrongdoing and taking responsibility, as long as that doesn’t involve any real penalties or jail time.
    2. A bank being found continuing to do what they swore they stopped doing years ago.
    3. For a preview of how this is likely to play out, see last week’s postings under “the system isn’t broken, it’s fixed
    4. The next attorney general’s past involvement in the process.
    5. By the way, the recent HSBC disclosures should not be a surprise.
  4. Our taxes go where? (interesting graphic, hat tip Yves)
  5. How investment jargon has taken over our discourse on topics like education
  6. Have you noticed that the big Wall Street banks have been humbled? That’s what the NY Times reports. If this is how they act when they’re humble, I’d hate to see what proud looks like.

From the week of February 9 to February 15, 2015

  1. Breaking News!
    1. Cy Vance announces indictment of 50 people, including 5 HPD employees, in the latest affordable housing and residential development bribery scandal.  Watch the video of his news conference.
  2. Department of Deep History.
    1. The Half Has Never Been Told. This podcast about a recently released book on the role of slavery in forming American capitalism is really worth listening to … and talking about.
  3. The system isn’t broken, it’s fixed
    1. Justice Deferred is Justice Denied A federal judge lays out the history of deferred prosecutions.
    2. Our discussion about how the system works for everyone — everyone with influence, at least. The executives keep their bonus and stay out of jail, the prosecutors look good and the government gets money to spend without raising taxes. This is the marble column version of traffic summonses in Ferguson.
    3. Why Bankers Didn’t Go to Jail
    4. Rehab for Corporations
    5. Secret Swiss Bank Accounts
      1. HSBC files show how Swiss bank helped clients dodge taxes and hide millions
      2. HSBC could face U.S. legal action over Swiss accounts
        Bankers aren’t worried, They’ll settle this, too.
  4. Better very, very, very, very late than never
    1. Obama thinks Congress should authorize the world war we are engaged in.
      Let’s have a real debate. Let’s put an end to it.
  5. One view of a fairer society and some reactions to it.

From the week of February 2 to February 8, 2015

  1. Citizens Defending Public Libraries
    1. Our speakers last Sunday talked about how the NY city’s public libraries are being turned into vehicles to reward real estate speculation for private benefit rather than public resources.
    2. The good news is that there is a strong grassroots effort fighting back. See more at Citizens Defending Libraries and please sign their petition.
    3. There have been successes. The proposal to close the Mid-Manhattan and SIBL libraries (and gut the iconic 42nd Street stacks) has been shelved.  And, while efforts to “strengthen by shrinking” the Brooklyn libraries are continuing, the citizens have held them off, so far.
  2. Justice, for some
    1. Department of Justice defends itself, not the public.3 of spades rating agency models
    2. The Department of Justice (DoJ) has apparently vigorously pushed to compel S&P to retract the accusations they made against the DoJ.
    3. Unfortunately, the public and the cause of justice have not fared so well as DoJ is, yet again, settling rather than prosecuting financial crimes. S&P: Sorry about that credit crisis.
    4. Mathbabe’s take on the settlement.
    5. Of course, settlements are not new. Here are just the ones JP Morgan has been part of. JP Morgan’s “Wheel of Misfortune”
    6. Outside Washington, the cause of justice is fairing somewhat better.
  3. News from Greece:
    1. Giving debt relief to Greece makes economic and moral sense
    2. Nick’s thoughts from last week
    3. Greek debt swap plan
  4. If we don’t stop it, corporations will soon be in complete control of government (you may have thought this is already true, but it can get worse).
    1. Cost-benefit analysis would paralyze regulation
    2. TPP would give up sovereignty

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