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Boston protests: It's the economy, stupid

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Yesterday’s announcement that Bank of America would begin next year charging customers $5 a month for the long-free privilege of using a debit card to make purchases could hardly have come at a worse time in Massachusetts.  The move, apparently being made in time for new profit-sapping regulations to kick in, came on the same day as reports of a sputtering Massachusetts economy. This news followed another report shedding new light on unemployment statistics: Many Massachusetts workers are settling for part-time jobs that don’t adequately pay the bills.

The announcement also came the day before not one but two scheduled protests in Boston against the banking institutions many blame for the recession. The first,targeted primarily at Bank of America, will be a protest march snaking through the city and stopping at corporate offenders Verizon, Hyatt, NStar and Fidelity, before staging a sit-in at Bank of America’s Massachusetts headquarters.

Occupy Boston, inspired by the ongoing protest in New York, also begins today, with protesters planning an indefinite camp-out in Dewey Square following a march from Bank of America headquarters. The group, whose website refers to Wall Street as “the greatest corrupter of America,” shares similar goals with, though no apparent ties to, the Bank of America protest.

Whether it’s Tea Party rallies blaming today’s conditions on excessive federal spending, or angry young people protesting large corporations, it is hard for the country’s largest institutions to miss the underlying anger over the continued stagnation of the American economy. 

                                                                                                                                --CHRISTINA PRIGNANO


BEACON HILL

Senate President Therese Murray became the highest-ranking Democrat in the state to support implementing the Secure Communities program in Massachusetts, siding with Republican sheriffs over Gov. Deval Patrick. The state’s immigration flap has now also reached the pages of the New York Times.

The House is considering a supplemental bill that would provide funds to keep open courts targeted for closing by the Trial Court and add language preventing the Chief Justice of Administration and Management from shuttering the courthouses.

The state’s liquor industry has been filling the campaign coffers of state Treasurer Steve Grossman, whose office oversees the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

Former state senator Susan Tucker is continuing her fight against casinos in Massachusetts, though no longer an elected official, the Eagle Tribune reports.

WBUR reports on the Massachusetts Legislature’s effort to control health care costs.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Springfield Republican suggests that Attorney General Martha Coakley should investigate allegations of forgery regarding a ballot question that would raise the Chicopee mayor’s term from to two years to four.

The state inspector general has retracted a claim that a Gloucester charter school engaged in  a no-bid contract with a former charter school board member, the Gloucester Times reports.

Swampscott and Lynn will receive $1 million to consolidate emergency dispatch services, the Salem News reports.

The Essex County Retirement Board has granted a $69,000 annual pension to former Salisbury police chief David L’Esperance, who left the town under a cloud of scandal earlier this year.

Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett is opening an investigation into a car swap deal involving the Lawrence Police Department and a used-car dealer connected to Mayor William Lantigua. At least three other state and federal agencies are investigating the deal.

The Lowell City Council wants all city departments that accept cash to be audited, the Lowell Sun reports.

WAR

A Plymouth soldier is reportedly one of three people killed in an explosion in Afghanistan.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

Experts say the White House seeking an expedited decision from the Supreme Court on the challenge to the health care reform law shows the administration is confident of winning.

ELECTION 2012

There has been a 50 percent reduction in the number of Warrens in the Massachusetts US Senate race. Elizabeth Warren and Alan Khazei thank now ex-candidate Setti Warren for his “contributions” to the contest.

The American Spectator wonders why Florida hates America with the Sunshine State looking at moving its primary date up and throwing the GOP schedule into disarray.

Ed Kilgore, writing on The New Republic site, says Herman Cain’s Florida straw poll victory reflects true Republican enthusiasm for his 9-9-9 plan. The Hermanator is climbing up the national polls, as Mitt Romney eclipses Rick Perry. Consolation Dept.: Perry still has obscene amounts of money to play with.

Surprise: Chris Christie may run after all. And who can’t get enough of the New Jersey governor? These guys!

FISHING

Attorney General Martha Coakley is pushing federal officials to release more information about the overzealous prosecution of area fishermen.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Foreclosures deeds filed in Massachusetts for the month of August were the highest yet of 2011, though still below last year’s levels.

Tough economic times have not been friendly to Wilbraham-based ice cream icon Friendly’s, which may file for bankruptcy.

A report issued by the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts says that the Bay State economy will slow down in the next quarter.

The Securities and Exchange Commission hasn’t been very good at proving fraud cases from the financial crisis, so they’re lowering their sights and targeting plain old negligence.

EDUCATION

The Fall River teachers’ union filed a complaint with the state labor department claiming the city is refusing to negotiate economic issues and delaying talks over a new contract.

HEALTH CARE

Hospital officials are lobbying for an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare as a deficit-reduction options, a controversial move that President Obama has stepped back from.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

MIT has teamed up with the US Navy to wean the the world’s largest naval service off petroleum and help it go green.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Rezwan Ferdaus, the Ashland man under arrest for plotting terrorist attacks on Washington, DC, was ousted from a Roxbury mosque because of his extremist views, the Globe reports. Experts say that his terrorist plot using model airplanes would probably not have been successful.  The case is stoking worries about home-grown extremists.

A recent graduate of Bridgewater State University allegedly threatened to “come in with a gun and shoot up the place” if the school’s radio station didn’t play a song he was requesting.

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