Occupy the SEC

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Until today — when Occupy Wall Street activists held renewed demonstrations across the country – the movement against economic injustice that emerged with such a loud bang last summer seemed to have fallen dormant over the winter months.

But even as  protests slowed down and media coverage declined, a small group of “policy wonks” within the larger movement — former bankers, business analysts, traders and hedge fund “quants” motivated by their belief that the banks wield too much power — has been quietly working within the financial system to change America’s regulatory processes.

They call themselves Occupy the SEC, and as Suzy Khimm explains in The Washington Post, they’ve slowly built an audience with some of the rulemakers and titans of finance they’re trying to influence. Khimm describes it as “one of the most surprising iterations of the free-wheeling, anarchic movement: fighting the man through the tedious and Byzantine regulatory process.”

Though they have a number of goals and projects, one part of the group is focused on trying to make sure banks can’t game the “Volcker Rule” – a provision that would in effect reinstate a cornerstone of the depression era Glass-Steagall Act by separating proprietary trading from traditional customer-oriented banking.

Tonight on FRONTLINE’s final installment of Money, Power and Wall Street, you’ll hear from three of these activists who abandoned their finance careers to change Wall Street. (Watch an excerpt.) 

“I just felt like I was doing something immoral. I was taking advantage of people I don’t even know… so I ended up deciding to work for the other side,” explains Cathy O’Neil, a math-professor-turned-hedge-fund-quant-turned-Occupy-the-SEC activist.

“Occupy Wall Street from the very beginning was being criticized,” she tells FRONTLINE below, “for not really knowing how the system works. And what I realized was, you know what? Nobody knows how the system works. Even the people in finance don’t understand the system.”

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In 1995 At Maui High Performance Computing Center The Maui Scientific Analysis & Visualization of the Environment Program was first incubated. I was the principal investigator of this independant research project which was a joint development between MHPCC, Silicon Graphics Computers (SGI) & NKO.ORG. Using SGI Cosmo Worlds software, we pioneered the development of Internet based 3D virtual reality GIS based interactive worlds. In 1996 with a network of seven high performance SGI workstations we pioneered development of live streaming MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Real Video and QuickTime Streaming Server utilizing Kassenna MediaBase software. In Maui 2002 we pioneered and tested the first wireless live streaming video using laptop computers and Maui Sky Fiber's portable 3G wireless device. In Maui we pioneered live streaming video using usb modems from AT&T , Verizon as well as live streaming from iPhone 3 over 3G wireless networks. Today The Maui S.A.V.E. Program has diversified into storm tracking including visualization and analysis of large, memory-intensive gridded data sets such as the National Hurricane Center's wind speed probabilities. I volunteer my services to numerous Disaster Services Organizations. In June 2013 I returned from Hurricane Sandy deployment as a computer operations service associate with the Disaster Services Technology Group assisting as The American Red Cross migrated from a Disaster Response Operation to Long Term Recovery Operations. Pioneering the production/editing and Internet distribution of HD video to sites like Youtube.com and Vimeo.com we are shining the light towards environmental and peace efforts of humans across the globe. Since 1992 I have held the vision of establishing Maui, Hawaii as the environmental sciences center of the world. After His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet came to Maui This vision has expanded to establishing Maui as the environmental & peace center of the world.

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