Occupy-Style Protests Hit California Universities … Sort Of

Students irate about a planned tuition hike at the University of California are deploying tactics reminiscent of 2011′s Occupy movement to express their displeasure, occupying buildings and walking out of class.

However, with the Thanksgiving holiday looming, the protesters biggest enemy appears to be apathy rather than autocratic administrators.

On Monday afternoon, over a thousand students at UC campuses across the state walked out of class to march in protest against the UC board of regents’ decision to hike tuition by about 28 percent over the next five years. The hike, if implemented in full, will take the combined cost of attendance at the University of California over $30,000 for the first time.

The walkout is a continuation of a nascent protest movement that has resurrected tactics reminiscent of the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement. At UC Berkeley, the state’s flagship campus and a longtime center for left-wing activism, a handful of students have launched a new group they have dubbed “The Open UC.” Over 200 of them have taken part in an occupation of the school’s Wheeler Hall, while other building takeovers have occurred at UC Davis and UC Santa Cruz.

However, at the college which gave rise to the 60s Free Speech Movement, activists are finding it harder to keep students outraged long-term. Ultimately, their greatest enemy may not be The Man in the form of the University of California regents, but rather their fellow students’ inclination to prioritize their academics and personal lives over radical action.

At Berkeley, the commitment to occupying Wheeler Hall at Berkeley is looking shaky, as students fear the occupation could collapse during the Thanksgiving holiday. Having no students in the hall at all would be better than a pathetic showing, one movement leader told The Daily Californian.

“For the strength of the movement, I don’t want it to peter out,” said sophomore Jake Soiffer. “I would probably lean toward pausing and then coming back with a bang on Monday. I really want to come back with a bang.”

Another issue hindering protesters is a flaw similar to the one that helped doom the Occupy movement three years ago: The lack of a clear mission. The Occupy movement famously began without any demands in particular and largely flared out without ever moving beyond generic anger at “the one percent.”

While it seems the tuition increase should provide an easy target for protesters, movement organizers have diluted it with a host of other stated goals. According to the Californian, Wheeler Hall’s occupiers have disseminated statements trying to expand the protest to include issues like transgender rights and racism, while Open UC’s own website has emphasized its opposition to the “privatization” of the University. Soiffer said he fears the promotion of niche causes could drive away potential supporters, but thus far that hasn’t stopped it from happening.

The expectation that the protests will simply “peter out” likely explains why university administrators and police have taken almost no action against protesters, even though behavior like occupying buildings is against school rules.

In contrast to a 2009 occupation of Wheeler Hall that led to dozens of arrests, or the occasional use of force against 2011 Occupiers, administrators and police at Berkeley and other campuses have taken essentially no action against protesters, depriving them of the friction and conflict that helps to inspire further radical action. Their laissez-faire attitude is so strong, in fact, that some protesters have complained about not being taken seriously.

“We’re here trying to stand for something,” Berkeley junior Madaly Alcala told the Daily Californian. “So it would be nice to be taken as serious students and adults in this movement.”

Ultimately, the best hope for protesters is not likely to lie with the UC administration, but rather with political action from Gov. Jerry Brown or the California legislature, both of which have expressed hostility to the tuition increase.

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The reporter who savaged an abstinence speaker was a ‘feminist’ Occupy Wall …

How important is it that an alternate media exists to shine a light on mainstream media bias? This story about bullies successfully shutting down a pro-abstinence speaker’s presentation in a small town middle school and high school gives one such example.

Pam Stenzel has spoken to countless young people across the country about the importance of abstinence and the costs of sexual activity for more than 20 years without a hint of scandal. But the left-wing outrage machine has decided it will simply proceed with character assassination and lies.

And sometimes those assailants are reporters in local media, like Lancaster Online reporter Kara Newhouse.

When Newhouse found out that an abstinence speaker had been invited to address the Warwick School District, she responded with an October 17 story headlined, “WATCH: This lightning-rod speaker will promote abstinence to Warwick students.” Newhouse branded Stenzel a “lightning rod” who “is known for what some critics say are scare tactics.” Stenzel “shouts” during her “frequent yelling into the microphone.” Newhouse quoted a friendly source who branded Stenzel “harsh and abrasive” before helpfully pointing out, repeatedly, that Stenzel once worked for a “Christian-based pregnancy counseling center,” the boogeyman of the pro-abortion movement. However,  Newhouse cited the Sex Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS) as a responsible expert source.

The heart of her articles, though, were a pair of dubious “quotations” from one of Stenzel’s speeches in a West Virginia high school: “If you take birth control, your mother probably hates you,” and “I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you’re going to be promiscuous.”

Having seen Stenzel speak numerous times, these words did not ring true to me, so when they were first reported I assigned LifeSiteNews reporter Kirsten Andersen to contact Stenzel about them.

I never in my life said that,” Stenzel told us. “You can go listen to it yourself; my talks are all over YouTube.”

Although Newhouse recycled these alleged quotations in four separate stories, she never once quoted Stenzel’s denials. She did not even report that George Washington High School principal George Aulenbacher was quoted by the Charleston Gazette in the same story that he attended Stenzel’s presentation and “didn’t hear anything like that.”

“She never talked to me,” Stenzel told me yesterday. “She doesn’t even know what she’s talking about.”

Despite these omissions and strong objections from the Warwick school leadership that Newhouse had misrepresented the facts, LNP Executive Editor Barbara Hough Roda said, “LNP stands fully behind its reporting of this story.” (LNP, Lancaster Online, and numerous other media outlets in southeastern Pennsylvania are part of Steinman Communications; Roda is Newhouse’s boss.)

Apparently “mainstream” media reporters like Newhouse need not follow such protocols.

On a whim, I decided to research Newhouse. I was not surprised by what I found.

In 2012, she led an OccupyPA tour – a statewide campaign for the state chapter of the Occupy Wall Street movement – on behalf of the publication Pennsylvanians from Below.

The same year, the Occupy Wall Street movement threw itself into disrupting peaceful pro-life events. Occupy Providence reportedly interrupted the 39th Annual Pro-Life State House Rally in 2012 by “showering condoms down on some of the girls from a Catholic high school,” according to Rhode Island State Right to Life Committee Executive Director Barth Bracy.

Weeks later, I was present as Occupy D.C. activists shouted down pro-life leaders including Lila Rose at the 2012 March for Life Youth Rally.

Here is Newhouse discussing the OccupyPA tour with a public access program:

According to her LinkedIn profile, before lionizing the Occupy movement Newhouse “contributed monthly to feminist blog, Canonball.” Feminists tend to have pronounced views on abortion. This may explain Newhouse’s decision to portray local citizens going to the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. – including its schoolgirls – as militant “soldiers of Christ” in a story for the publication this January.

Before that, she “investigated and reported breaking news and features from the West Bank in 2010 for Palestine Monitor, an English-language news site.” The Monitor makes no bones about its advocacy: “Our aim is transparent: to present the Palestinian perspective,” its website says.

Seh also “reported from Honduras on civil resistance to the military coup in 2009 for alternative news sites and blogs.”

That would be the movement to support would-be dictator Manuel Zelaya, the ousted president of Honduras and ally of Venezuelan leftist strongman Hugo Chavez, who tried to amend the constitution so he could remain in office – a move opposed by members of his own party. Roberto Micheletti acted as interim president for six months until a democratically elected successor took his place.

President Obama strongly supported putting the far-Left Zelaya back in office, although he was reportedly heavily involved in drug-running. An estimated 100 tons of cocaine passed through Zelaya’s Honduras every year en route to the United States. Then-Ambassador Charles A. Ford wrote in a cable released by WikiLeaks that Zelaya was “surrounded by a few close advisors with ties to both Venezuela and Cuba and organized crime” and that he believed Zelaya would inevitably “threaten the rule of law and institutional stability.” Insiders believe Obama supported Zelaya in an effort to appease Chavez

In her none-too-balanced coverage, Newhouse extolled the “tireless Honduran protesters” who stood up to “the Micheletti dictatorship.” She joyously reported an event that featured FMLN members from El Salvador – the Cuban- and Soviet-backed radicals the U.S. sought to keep from power in the 1980s – showed up to support Zelaya. Avowed Communists from around the world made Zelaya their cause célèbre.

In the end, he disappeared not with a bang but with a whimper. Zelaya barricaded himself inside the Brazilian Embassy and covered his room with tin-foil, claiming that Israelis were beaming high-frequency laser beams into his room to disturb his mental state. (Tel Aviv: Mission accomplished.) But the Honduran people chose someone else to lead their nation. Last year his wife, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, made a credible run for president but lost.

By then, Newhouse had moved on to Palestine, then to feminism, then to the Occupy movement…and now to all-but-libeling pro-family speakers like Pam Stenzel.

It is no sin for reporters to have political views. However, it is a breach of ethics for them to allow those views to skew their reporting, as Newhouse has done, with LNP’s tacit or explicit approval.

I decided to give the newspaper another chance to clarify whether Newhouse’s reporting was appropriate. I e-mailed Barbara Hough Roda:

Hello,

I’m doing a story on Pam Stenzel’s speech cancellation. I had two questions for you:

1. You are quoted as having said, “LNP stands fully behind its reporting of this story.” Reporter Kara Newhouse repeatedly quoted Stenzel as having allegedly said, “If you take birth control, your mother probably hates you,” and “I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you’re going to be promiscuous.”

However, Stenzel specifically told LifeSiteNews that “I never said that” following the controversy, and George Washington High School principal George Aulenbacher told the Charleston Gazette that he attended Stenzel’s presentation and “didn’t hear anything like that.”

There is also no video or audio proof of her alleged remarks.

None of these facts made it into LNP’s reporting to counterbalance the explosive allegations.

Do you still stand fully behind Newhouse’s reporting?

2. According to her LinkedIn profile, Newhouse “contributed monthly to feminist blog, Canonball,” has written for websites with a pronounced left-wing slant on Palestinian and Central American issues, and led the OccupyPA tour. During the time she was a volunteer, Occupy Wall Street chapters across the country interrupted pro-life events, in one instance reportedly throwing condoms at Catholic schoolgirls.

Do you believe she was the best reporter for this story or other pro-life stories she has covered?

I look forward to your response. My deadline is 3 p.m. Eastern. Thank you.

Cordially,

Ben Johnson, U.S. Bureau Chief

LifeSiteNews.com

bjohnson (at) lifesitenews.com

Roda, who has been with the company for 32 years, never responded. She reportedly did not reply to other media requests for comment, either. I can’t imagine why.

Perhaps she or Kara will respond to you. It can’t hurt to try.

Contact:

Barb Hough Roda, LNP Executive Editor
(717) 481-7335
[email protected]
Twitter: @barbrodalnp

Kara Newhouse, Education
(717) 481-6013
[email protected]
Twitter: @karanewhouse

UPDATE: When Lancaster Online covered Pam Stenzel’s final speech, it did not assign Kara Newhouse to cover it but Tom Knapp. His final story, “Abstinence message finds warm welcome in Warwick,” incorporates some – but not all – of the correctives I noted in my e-mail to Executive Editor Barbara Hough Roda. It includes the fact that she was conceived in rape and that she denies she made the incendiary comments – but not that the principal who attended the rally backed her up, thus leaving it a matter of he said/she said. One passable story ex post facto hardly atones for the series of stories from a politically motivated reporter that misled the public, arguably harmed Stenzel, but more importantly denied a message Newhouse apparently disliked a willing audience of adolescents in this small Pennsylvania town. Somebody still owes journalism an apology. 

Cross-posted at TheRightsWriter.com.

Occupy Wall Street Buys, Then Cancels, Student Debt

Some 40 million Americans collectively owe nearly $1.3 trillion on their student loans. On Wednesday, a small group of volunteers announced they helped reduce unpaid student bills by a smidgen, thanks to public donations and a desire to help Americans live debt-free.

Strike Debt, a group of anti-debt activists born out of the Occupy Wall Street movement, said it purchased $3.9 million in delinquent private student debt and immediately canceled it.

The debt, which came in the form of unpaid tuition receivables from Everest College, a for-profit school operated by the Corinthian Colleges chain, was purchased in May for about $107,000, the group said. The purchase was funded entirely by donations.

The Rolling Jubilee Fund, a nonprofit formed by Strike Debt with the sole purpose of buying and abolishing debt, canceled an average of nearly $1,400 in debt held by more than 2,700 students. About 99 percent of the unpaid bills were from last year and 2012.

With concerns mounting that student debt risks reducing home purchases, retirement savings and small business formation, officials at the Treasury Department, the nation’s biggest banks and the Federal Reserve are trying to find ways to help Americans manage their student debt burdens before it holds back U.S. economic growth.

Senate Democrats reckon that by helping Americans refinance their expensive loans, the savings will translate into added spending. The White House and some Republicans hope that by expanding the number of Americans making payments based on their monthly earnings, households will be better able to manage finances before they’re swamped with student loan bills.

Strike Debt is taking a different approach. “Our long term goal is to end student debt, along with other forms of predatory lending. Access to vital common goods, like education and health care, must be available for free, as they are in almost every other wealthy country. To achieve this goal, debtors need to be able to organize together and use their debts as leverage.”

The group launched in November 2012 with a modest goal of raising $50,000 to extinguish $1 million in debt, said Thomas Gokey, an organizer at the Rolling Jubilee Fund. It has since raised more than $701,000 and abolished nearly $19 million in unpaid debts, according to figures on the group’s website. It stopped raising new money at the end of last year.

The fund has purchased five portfolios of debt since November 2012. Prior to its May purchase, which it announced on Wednesday, the previous four were of unpaid medical bills.

In the coming months, the group hopes to announce at least two more purchases of delinquent debt that it will promptly abolish, Gokey said.

Strike Debt targeted Everest because it’s owned by Corinthian Colleges, a publicly-traded operator of for-profit schools such as WyoTech and Heald colleges.

For the past few years, Corinthian has been under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, Education Department, numerous state attorneys general and the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the company has told investors.

On Tuesday, the consumer bureau sued Corinthian for allegedly misleading students into taking out unaffordable loans by falsely advertising job prospects, and using illegal debt collection tactics to force distressed students to make good on their payments.

Corinthian said it “strongly disputes” the consumer bureau’s allegations. The company, after being forced to wait to access federal student loan dollars as a result of an information-sharing dispute with the Education Department, is selling off and shutting down its nearly 100 U.S. campuses under an agreement with the Education Department that was prompted by fears Corinthian’s schools would abruptly shut down and leave students in the lurch.

The Education Department is allowing the school to continue enrolling new students. Unlike the consumer bureau, the department is not publicly warning former, current or potential new students about its concerns regarding Corinthian’s schools.

“We bought debt from this school in order to focus public attention on the grim consequences of allowing higher education to be used as a vehicle for private profit,” Strike Debt said in a statement. “The students at this college were conned. The schools are now being closed or sold off to other predatory companies, leaving students with no good options.”

About 90 percent of unpaid student loans are owed to the U.S. government. Corinthian Colleges students whose campuses are shut down can petition the Education Department to forgive federal student loans they took out to attend their closed schools. The rest will be forced to pay it all back.

“The Department of Education is not doing its job to protect the students. In the short term, we intend to help Corinthian College students pursue a complete cancellation of all their debts,” Strike Debt said.

As part of its lawsuit against Corinthian, the consumer bureau is seeking more than $500 million, which would be used to cancel existing private student loans and repay borrowers who had been making payments.

According to Richard Cordray, the CFPB’s director, most students who attend Corinthian’s schools come from what he described as disadvantaged backgrounds. Many are the first in their families to go to college, Cordray said, and most students lived in households with very low incomes.

In a sample letter Strike Debt said it sent to the roughly 2,700 borrowers whose student loans it canceled, the group said, “Everest College is committing widespread fraud. It targets lower-income students and students of color, offers low quality education, and — with the help of the federal government — buries students under a lifetime of crushing debt, all to profit the 1%.”

Borrowers who received the group’s letter were told that their specific debts were extinguished, “a gift with no strings attached.”

CORRECTION: This article incorrectly stated that Strike Debt plans to announce at least two more purchases of delinquent student debt in the coming months. The group intends to purchase other forms of debt.

A Warning to Ferguson Police

Police officers should approach Ferguson protestors with caution and fully respect their constitutional rights. That is the clear message from recent court awards and settlements against police force abuses against demonstrators.

New York City just paid out $17.9 million to more than 1800 protestors arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention, according to CNN.

An Iraq War veteran injured by police during Occupy protest in Oakland has been awarded $4.5 million after being struck in the head by a beanbag fired by police.

UC Davis paid out $1 million to 21 demonstrators who were pepper sprayed during Occupy protests November 2011.  This was $30,000 per demonstrator and $250,000 in attorney fees.  The University apologized and the officer who pepper sprayed the protestors was fired.

Oakland paid $1.1 million to members of the Occupy movement for police misconduct during the protests.

New York paid over $580,000 to 14 protestors wrongfully arrested during an Occupy Wall Street march.

A small town in New Hampshire paid a woman $57,000 after they arrested her for videotaping a police stop.

These awards are in the context of much higher awards nationally for police misconduct.  Chicago paid out $84 million in settlements for police abuse cases in 2013 alone.  Los Angeles paid out $54 million in settlements for police brutality in 2011. Bloomberg News estimated New York City has paid out as much as $735 million for police abuse claims in one year.

Bill Quigley teaches at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law.  

The resonance of Occupy

Occupy London camp outside St Paul's Cathedral, London 2012

Activists from the Occupy movement held their latest campaign in London this weekend. The protest movement, now three years old, has global recognition. But how can its impact be measured?

The campaign started in New York, on 17 September 2011. They camped in Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street, protesting against corporate greed. Celebrities visited – Kanye West and Susan Sarandon among them. Press coverage followed and President Obama said he “understood their frustrations“.

The Twitter handle @OccupyWallSt has 205,000 followers. The @OccupyWallStNYC and @OccupyWallStNY have 185,000 between them. The Facebook page has 660,544 likes.

The initial action spawned hundreds of similar protests around the world. In London, a month later, activists erected tents at St Paul’s Cathedral. Again it was the city’s financial heart. For more than four months they camped, gave speeches, tweeted and networked before being removed forcibly by bailiffs following a court battle.

The protest was widely followed by the press and discussed in parliament. Again, celebrities got involved – Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Billy Bragg were among a number of musicians to play live for the protesters. @Occupy London has 54K followers on Twitter and 103,044 Facebook likes.

Google Trends graph shows peak of interest in the word OccupyGoogle searches for the word “Occupy” spiked in late 2011

Occupy organisers said at the time that there would be protests in 951 cities in 82 countries. There have been many more since then, but has it made a difference?

Google searches of the word “occupy” spiked in October 2011, but quickly dropped back. They have not spiked since.

“Academics are always trying to find a way to measure the success of protest movements,” says Sam Halvorsen an academic researcher from University College London who wrote his thesis on Occupy. “First you have to work out what it means to be successful. Some people in the protest think it is measured by the amount of media coverage. Others think people like Russell Brand getting involved is really important. Other people may think those things are quite superficial.”

The true success of Occupy is hard to measure. It is, by design, a patchwork affair.

Occupy groups tend to have spin-offs and splinters – some are active while others are dormant. They all have their own social media identities and their own politics. There are no leaders and numerous causes – campaigns range from anti-fracking to keeping libraries open to this weekend’s protest to “save the NHS”.

In the month following the first Occupy Wall Street protest, more than 100,000 different hashtags were used in connection with it, according to Twitter. Up to 330,000 total hashtags about Occupy topics were tweeted each day from the start of the Wall Street protest to 21 October 2011. This included #Occupy, #OccupyWallSt #ows, as well as a few joke tags such as #OccupyTheBathroom.

“Having lots of Twitter handles or followers on Twitter doesn’t actually mean much – so many of them are dormant accounts,” says Prof Charlie Beckett, director of the London School Of Economics’ media thinktank Polis. “It’s very easy to follow something or like something. Measuring something like Google searches can be a much better gauge of reach and actual active presence.”

Occupy Wall Street banner

For a conventional party-based political movement, like UKIP in the UK, it’s easier to measure success. It comes in the form of vote share, election victories and movement towards the party’s main goal – the UK’s departure from the EU. For a movement without any tight list of goals, like Occupy, it’s harder.

Press coverage has also dropped off. A crude search of the Nexis database of UK press articles on Occupy London shows there were 396 stories in October 2011, dropping to 43 in 2012, three in 2013 and 14 in October this year.

Research from YouGov published in September shows that 55% of Americans say that the Occupy Wall Street movement has had no impact on the country, 18% say that it had a positive impact, while 27% say that its impact was negative. But the same survey also shows that 49% believe that protests are an effective way to change society.

“Social media is really important to us but it all goes up and down very quickly – it’s about newsflashes,” says John Sinha, an activist with Occupy Democracy – one of the offshoots of Occupy London.

“Normally it’s very low, but when we have an action it spikes. We were trending second on Twitter for our last action. We have an organic reach of a million on Facebook. We also have a newsletter which we distribute to a few thousand.”

“We don’t measure it [success] in those terms,” adds Inka Stafrace, an activist with Occupy London. “We don’t follow it overall as if we are a political party. We look at engagement per action. Seeing a spike during an action is what makes us feel satisfied.”

Stafrace runs Occupy London TV, which features footage from their various protests. It has accumulated 80,000 views – 50,000 of which she says have been added this year.

Of course, for some protests, it is easier to measure effectiveness. Occupy Wall Street was inspired by the demonstrations in Egypt’s Tahrir Square. Protests there led directly to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

An Indignados protest in Barcelona, October 2011Indignados protest in Barcelona, October 2011

The Spanish Indignados movement, which protested in 2011 and 2012 for a radical change in Spanish politics, led to the creation of left-wing political party Podemos (meaning “we can”). The anti-austerity party, led by a university lecturer, won five seats in the European Parliament in May.

Occupy have claimed victories. Activists in Buffalo, New York, successfully lobbied to have the City of Buffalo move $45m out of an account with JP Morgan Chase, and to transfer the money to a smaller regional bank. The New York Times attributed to Occupy a decision by Bank of America to scrap plans to charge additional fees for use of debit cards.

Occupy Sandy activists set up distribution sites for blankets, clothes and hot food to people affected by Hurricane Sandy. They ferried volunteers to the worst-hit areas and set up “construction teams and medical committees”.

There are a number of less visible, local-level successes, supporters say.

“Protests have their big moments when they are in the media and people are talking about it,” says Halvorsen. “That is success on one level. Occupy have branched out to small [and] very small campaigns and they are making a difference there. But actually changing things for good takes a very long time.”

line
Occupy at St Paul’s: A timeline

Occupy protester in V for Vendetta mask

  • 15 October 2011: Demonstrations which began with Occupy Wall Street, spread to London and other European cities. Protesters – including Wikileaks founder Julian Assange – settle outside St Paul’s Cathedral
  • 16 October: Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s, the Reverend Dr Giles Fraser, talks to protesters and says he supports their right to protest
  • 21 October: Dean of St Paul’s, Rev Graeme Knowles, announces that due to health and safety considerations, the cathedral is closing its doors to the public for the first time since World War Two
  • 26 October: Bishop of London calls for the protesters to leave, and says cathedral officials are considering legal action
  • 27 October: Dr Fraser resigns from post because he disagrees with the authorities’ course of action
  • 28 October: Cathedral reopens to the public; City of London Corporation and cathedral announce plans for legal action to clear the camp
  • 16 November: Corporation attaches eviction notices to some tents
  • 18 January 2012: High Court backs eviction
  • 22 February: Appeal bid by protesters dismissed
  • 28 February: Police and bailiffs clear the site

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Letter: Losing on ‘global warming’ as skepticism grows

Posted: Sunday, November 23, 2014 12:00 am

Letter: Losing on ‘global warming’ as skepticism grows

Increasing skepticism about global warming becomes more apparent every day. That’s why President Obama and key administration figures are politicizing it again. It’s the reason protesters were bused into New York City for a recent rally reminiscent of the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd. 

Clearly, environmental celebrities attending the rally were surprised by the media’s tough questions. PJ Media’s Michelle Field challenged Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s commitment to the cause, asking him what kind of car he drives and why he flies private jets.

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      Sunday, November 23, 2014 12:00 am.

      Women find their voice in Ferguson protest movement

      Johnetta Elzie saw that she was outnumbered. When she tried to answer students’ questions about the protests that followed the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, the men with her interrupted and answered instead. When she tried to tell her story, the men told theirs instead.

      It was about three weeks after Ferguson erupted in unrest last summer and Elzie, another female activist, and six men from the fledgling protest movement were speaking to a room full of Washington University students in St. Louis. Except only the men were talking.

      ————

      FOR THE RECORD

      An earlier version of this post misspelled the name of fugitive Assata Shakur.

      ————

      “The other woman was silent. She was just sitting there,” recalled Elzie, 25. “So I just politely packed up all my stuff and went down to the library. I couldn’t take it.”

      Several young women involved in organizing the Ferguson protests have described similar encounters with a gender barrier: men bowling them over at meetings or not inviting them to help make decisions. The media, they said, also tended to focus on the guys, who sometimes delivered more inflammatory sound bites — about, say, the likelihood of a riot.

      But refusing to be silenced, Elzie and her peers have elbowed to the front lines of protests over the Aug. 9 shooting of unarmed, black, 18-year-old Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. As a tense Ferguson awaits a grand jury decision on whether Wilson will be criminally charged in the shooting, many women will be behind the protest bullhorns in the days and weeks ahead.

      With a partner, Elzie, who has more than 20,000 Twitter followers, puts out a daily newsletter about Ferguson that has more than 7,000 subscribers and has become a central repository of information about developments around St. Louis.

      Are Millennials savers? Conflicting studies say yes and no

      A new study claiming that young adults are spending more than they are saving has come a few months after a study that said Millennials are saving earlier and more for retirement than any other generation.

      “Adults under age 35 currently have a savings rate of negative 2 percent, meaning they are burning through their assets or going into debt, according to Moody’s Analytics. That compares with a positive savings rate of about 3 percent for those age 35 to 44, 6 percent for those 45 to 54, and 13 percent for those 55 and older,” reported the Wall Street Journal.

      Their reasons for the savings deficit are a combination of post-recession banking distrust mixed in with staggering student debt and underemployment.

      A negative savings rate “could be interpreted as Millennials plowing all their assets into paying off debt. Moody’s points out that average student loan debt stands at $17,200 for Millennials, while their median net worth averages out to just $10,400,” said the financial blog Main Street. Average student loan debt was only $6,100 in 1995.

      The Atlantic explained that Millennials are notoriously skeptical of banks, “not surprising for a generation that came of age during the Great Recession and Occupy Wall Street.”

      And some Millennials are not saving simply because they don’t have the financial freedom to do so. Widespread under- and unemployment for young adults is partly to blame.

      “There’s people who really can’t save because they don’t have the means to save and that’s not a small group of people,” said Shai Akabas, an economist at the Bipartisan Policy Center, to the Wall Street Journal. “If you’re in a $25,000-a-year job and starting a family, it’s going to be very hard to accumulate savings regardless of your consumption decisions.”

      This trend could have ramifications for Millennials in the future. “A lack of savings increases the vulnerability of young workers in the post-recession economy, leaving many without a financial cushion for unexpected expenses, raising the difficulty of job transitions and leaving them further away from goals like eventual homeownership — let alone retirement,” the Wall Street Journal explained.

      However, the Moody’s study conflicts with the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies‘ annual retirement survey, released in July, which claimed that Millennials (who are currently working full- or part-time in a for-profit company of 10 or more people) are “an emerging generation of retirement super savers.”

      “Some 70 percent of Millennials started saving for retirement at an unprecedented young age, just 22, the survey found. By contrast, the average Boomer began saving at age 35, while Gen Xers got started at 27. Thanks to this early savings start, Millennials have amassed an average $32,000 in their 401(k) accounts, according to Transamerica,” reported Time.

      “Millennials are ‘much more likely’ to be recovered from its economic impact than older generations and 68 percent are confident they will be able to retire comfortably,” said Forbes, reporting on the study.

      “Millennials have seen what happened to their parents, many of whom lost their jobs and savings in the financial crisis — and they are taking steps to avoid a similar outcome,” Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center, told Time.

      So are Millennials savers or not?

      Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post suggested that before making broad assumptions about the Millennial generation, experts should make historical comparisons. “If you look at all of Moody’s data, going back several decades, you’ll notice that young people almost always have had a negative savings rate, with ‘dissavings’ for earlier generations of youth far worse than that among today’s supposedly irresponsible Millennials,” Rampell wrote.

      dsutton@deseretnews.com | Twitter: @debylene

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      Who’s Leading the Pope in Voting for Time’s Person of the Year Will Leave You …

      Ferguson, Missouri  protesters have certainly been in the news a lot this year.

      In fact, they are a contender for Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.”

      With  4.5% of the vote so far, the protesters are ahead of Ebola doctors, John Kerry (‘he’s traveled 600,000 miles!’), the Boko Haram girls and Pope Francis.

      The guy at the top of the list is the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with 14%.

      Image credit: Time Magazine
      Image credit: Time Magazine

      If the protesters win the honor, it wouldn’t be the first time. Some of the same people who have flocked to agitate in Ferguson were also celebrated in 2011 for their Occupy activism when Time honored ‘The Protester‘ as its Person of the Year.

      That year, Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party and Spanish protesters were tossed in with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Arab Spring, whose numbers included the brother of Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.

      You might think it odd Ferguson’s looters, assaulters and arsonists would be considered for this honor, but the group is also feted for its consciousness raising about police shootings.

      Time has been criticized for many of its choices over the years. For instance, genocidal madman Joe Stalin was a two-time winner and Hitler‘s visage was featured once in 1938 for ‘reunifying Germany with Austria’.

      Oddly, considering its penchant for feting world class despots and maniacal killers, Time has not put ISIS on the list for ‘Person of the Year’ consideration this year. It does, however, feature its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdati, who was tied with Kim Kardashian at 1.1% of the vote. Her husband, Kanye West, is also in the hunt.

      Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, and the Koch Brothers sit at less than 1% near the bottom, but eek out a small advantage over the man who’s dead last: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

      Time will announce the honoree in December.