Its a Halloween Flash Mob right here in Lowell.
This video was originally posted by Dolsten 1.
Its a Halloween Flash Mob right here in Lowell.
This video was originally posted by Dolsten 1.
Michael D Higgins, who will be Ireland’s ninth president. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA
The Associated Press (AP) and the Guardian are reporting from Dublin that after the votes were counted – veteran left-wing politician Michael D. Higgins has won Ireland’s presidential election with more than 1 million votes and a nearly 57 percent share of support. The results capped a two-day count of ballots to determine who would succeed Mary McAleese – Ireland’s nationally and internationally popular president who has served since 1997. Higgins – aged 70 born in County Limerick – is a former university lecturer and published poet who has dedicated his four-decade political career to championing Irish culture and left-wing human rights causes worldwide. Rivals bested by Higgings included former IRA commander Martin McGuinness – who was hosted in Lowell a few years ago by then Congressman Marty Meehan – and Sean Gallagher. From all accounts its was a lively campaign.
The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog.
The irony wasn’t lost on some members of the CEO’s Club, lunching this week at the Boston Harbor Hotel to hear Freddie Mac Chief Executive Officer Ed Haldeman, Jr. discuss the restructuring of the agency that plays a key role in the home mortgage market. As Haldeman was laying out the need for transparency in Freddie Mac, or any possible successor entity, housing activists from Jamaica Plain were chanting and carrying signs outside the dining hall, calling for help with foreclosures and mortgage availability. While Haldeman interrupted his presentation to say he “understand(s) their concerns,” the giant window shades lining the hotel’s Wharf Room were quietly being lowered so the protesters couldn’t look in—or those inside couldn’t look out. For those who “got it,” the symbolism was compelling.
No doubt the demonstrators probably view those on the inside as having all the power and those on the outside as having none. They share that perspective with the Occupy Boston protesters down the street in Tent City. All these demonstrators are giving voice to their frustrations, though they have not advanced a concrete agenda for addressing our economic problems.
Some of the executives in attendance noted, not incorrectly, that the protests would be better carried out on Pennsylvania Avenue than Atlantic Avenue. But none expressed any confidence that Washington would agree on any solutions until after the 2012 election. Being told, by implication, to wait at least another year is what’s driving many of the protesters.
Haldeman has been on the job at Freddie Mac for just two years. His principal concern is getting private capital to return to the mortgage market. Right now, the government, especially Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae back 90 percent of the mortgage market, providing liquidity and stability, helping to keep interest rates low. The agencies are like private companies and have boards of directors, but are under the scrutiny of the Inspector General. The U.S. Treasury owns 80 percent of their stock. $65 billion of U.S. taxpayers dollars was appropriated to protect the solvency of Freddie Mac, and the agency is paying interest on that at the rate of $6.5 billion a year. It’s unclear if the taxpayers will ever get their money back. And the Obama Administration is considering phasing out Freddie and Fannie Mae altogether.
Haldeman wasn’t there for the meltdown, when worthless mortgages were bought from originators and wildly resold in the secondary market. While he notes that enabling people to buy homes they can’t afford isn’t doing anyone any good, he has been working with others to slow foreclosures through changing the rules for refinancing. Going forward, he calls for lowering the limits on how much people can borrow and raising what they need for down payments. He calls for more widespread availability of sound mortgage products, especially long-term fixed rate mortgages. It’s not clear that his philosophy of gradualism would pacify the most insistent of local demonstrators. Today proved nothing because it appears there was no interaction, before, during or afterwards. And, as Haldeman, noted he’s ultimately controlled by 535 members of Congress, each with a different set of priorities.
As put by an Associated Press story today, “the mid-decade housing boom and subsequent bust took a toll on virtually all age and race groups.” Haldeman insists there is still a role for government in backing mortgages for homeowners but is uncertain whether that will be Freddie Mac or a successor agency. The timing, he knows, depends on the political environment. So the anti-bank, anti-government protesters do their thing, on the outside of the meeting place trying to look in, and a seemingly competent and well-intentioned executive lays out the problem, with no end in sight to an audience short of answers.
President Obama, in the absence of Congressional action, sees his weak approval numbers and claims “we can’t wait, “ so he offers a band-aid to a piece of the problem. President Obama, in the absence of Congressional action, sees his weak re-election numbers and claims “we can’t wait, “ so he offers a band-aid to a piece of the problem. His likely opponent, as of now, Mitt Romney seems to advocate a Social Darwinist approach of letting nature take its course on foreclosure unraveling.
Could make for an interesting debate topic a year from now, but the lack of resolution or a even strong path out of the housing mess doesn’t augur well for any robust economic recovery in the months ahead.
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
This is the third in a series of posts about Lowell’s canals. The first was on the Pawtucket Canal and the second on the Middlesex Canal. Links to all can be found on our “History” page (see link along upper right corner of your screen). Today’s topic is the Merrimack Canal.
After purchasing the stock of the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals on the Merrimack River, the first task of Patrick Tracy Jackson, Nathan Appleton and their associates was to widen and deepen the existing Pawtucket Canal. The next task was to dig a branch canal from the Pawtucket that would provide power to the new textile mill complex that was also under construction. Named the Merrimack Canal and completed in 1823, it leaves the Pawtucket at the Swamp Locks, the area adjacent to modern day Dutton Street about midway between the down ramp from the Lord Overpass and Broadway. From there, the canal proceeds due north towards Merrimack Street, running parallel to Dutton Street the entire way (the view in the photo above). The canal continues northward, passing underneath Market Street, Merrimack and through Lucy Larcom Park (photo below) and then under Father Morissette Boulevard where it flows into the Eastern Canal near the Boott Mill and then into the river.
The 1879 atlas of Lowell shows that the Merrimack Canal when it first left the Pawtucket Canal at the Swamp Locks, flowed through the grounds of the Lowell Machine Shop. Further down Dutton Street the canal also powered the Lowell Manufacturing Company which was located where the National Park Visitor Center now is extending all the way down that side of Market Street almost to Central. Once across Market Street, the Merrimack Canal passed underneath Huntington Hall which was a combination train station and civic auditorium and then underneath Merrimack Street. Back then, Dutton Street continued across Merrimack and all the way down to what is now Fr Morrissette – essentially along the trolley tracks that run alongside Lowell High’s 1980 addition. On the other side of the canal, what is now the wide walkway that passes through Lucy Larcom Park, was then called Anne Street. All of the land on the City Hall side of the canal at this point extending to the river was the home of the Merrimack Manufacturing Company.
Regular reader and sometimes contributor Mike Luciano sent this post about a recent column in our local newspaper:
The last time I wrote a critical post about a Peter Lucas column, I told myself I was going to leave the poor guy alone. After all, it’s not his fault that he seems totally incapable of thinking about serious national problems without resorting to the worst clichés our political discourse has to offer. I figured that a retired state employee who collects a government pension while getting paid to rail against government in the Lowell Sun has enough issues without some smartass like me hassling him unmercifully.
But all that went out the window when Lucas recently began wailing away on US Senate candidate and Democratic frontrunner Elizabeth Warren. It isn’t that he regularly attacks Warren; it’s the manner in which he does it. Like his columns about Barack Obama and Deval Patrick, they are cursory hit pieces bereft of anything that could be called a substantive argument. It may not seem like a big deal, but Lucas is a columnist for the city’s only newspaper. That he uses his space to invoke and largely rely on the most hackneyed political rhetoric does a great disservice to the readership, and I would even go so far as to say it constitutes an abuse of his privileged position. And that’s why he gets me so fired up.
Elizabeth Warren is a Harvard law professor, the former head of the congressional panel overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and a former advisor to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A helpful way to assess Warren’s suitability for the US Senate would be to examine her proposals for policing Wall Street, her views on job creation, and other relevant matters. But doing this requires a little research, understanding, and thought—activities that don’t seem to interest our favorite columnist. Hence we get lines such as,
“Like her hero Barack Obama, [Warren] is an academic, a faculty lounge liberal who takes ivory-tower pleasure in attacking corporations, banks and Wall Street, while she milks them for heavy-duty campaign contributions.”
What is a “faculty lounge liberal”? What does it mean to take “ivory-tower pleasure” in something? Using phrases like these and leaving the reader to figure it out shows that Lucas isn’t interested in winning anyone over to his side, or even having an intelligent discussion for that matter. No, the function of his columns is to preach to the congregation and no one else. read more »
With the city election only ten days away, here are the results of the last municipal election:
NOTE: Incumbents shown in italics
City Council (elect 9)
School Committee (elect 6)
Regional Vocational School Committee (elect 2)
In anticipation of “falling back” with the clocks, watches, and digital counters.
“Brilliant Night” by Richard Marion (c) 2011
See more artwork at www.richardmarion.net
From today’s op-ed page of the Boston Globe: Carlos Rotella who recently ran the Bay State Marathon held in Lowell and environs, tells us of his experience running the race but also his experience with the roadside fans!
This year, the race organizers printed each runner’s first name just above his or her number. I found myself strangely buoyed by the next voice: ”Cwah-los! Lookin’ good.” I looked awful, no doubt, but I began to appreciate the goodwill of strangers who would make the effort to lie to me about it.
Read the tale of Lowell’s Mustache Man and other Lowell/Greater Lowell strangers who buoyed his run as all Good Samaritans would here at boston.com.
In today’s Washington Post opinion writer Dana Milbank queries: “What was that about a Democratic ‘enthusiasm gap‘?” (harkening back to a WaPo column by colleague Chris Cillizza) Reporting from Springfield, Massachusetts and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union hall when supporter gathered for a meeting – Milbank found enthusiasm abounds.
The source of the ardor is no mystery: Warren’s unapologetic populism and her fervent belief that corporations should be held to account for the economic collapse. Part Pat Moynihan, part Erin Brockovich, she has revived the energy of the left in a way no other Democrat has, including President Obama.
Read the entire article here at washingtonpost.com.