Wall Street vulture funds snap up local resources

NEW Dollar Bill

Imagine you live in a town that is on the verge of bankruptcy—something similar to what Scranton, PA is going through. Your town is at the point where they are reducing the pay of all public employees. Even the town council and mayor are reducing their pay to minimum wage. What’s next to occur is the dismantling of municipal services and agencies. The sanitation, police and fire departments are disbanded and now the only thing left to get rid of is the water utility.

It’s at this point in time that a private equity firm sees opportunity. They’re like a shark who smells the blood in the water. This is Bain Capital-like but on the local level.

From Common Dreams:

According to the report, private equity firms show up to hurting municipalities as hired financial advisers and subsequently push through privatization deals. Massive profits are made in the process, as such advisers stand to make great financial gains through these deals. Following privatization, local residents are continually denied sufficient services and face steep consumer price hikes in the under-regulated process.

There are some things that should never be privatized like the police and fire departments or water and sanitation services. A book that I would recommend reading is The Fox in the Henhouse it’s about the perils of privatizing everything. Another good example of privatization gone wrong is what Bechtel did to Bolivia by coming in to take over their water supply. That revolt launched Evo Morales to the presidency of Bolivia.

Occupy Wall Street Librarians file lawsuit against Bloomberg

Sometimes the best type of activism is the legal kind. For decades this is what the Southern Poverty Law Center did and they were quite successful. Also, the Center for Constitutional Rights has had a few victories against the Bush administration.

Thursday, members of Occupy Wall Street took a step toward forcing the city of New York to reveal the facts of that night to the public, as they filed a federal lawsuit against the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, seeking to hold them accountable for violations of their constitutional rights in the course of the raid, as well as subsequent smaller raids that targeted the People’s Library – the movement’s most visible demonstration, through the collection and sharing of books in public spaces, of the rights to free speech and free assembly. In the course of the suit, the city may have to admit who called the shots during the eviction on November 15, 2011.

I would also file suits against the NYPD as well. I’m surprised there isn’t more of a nationally coordinated legal move by all the Occupy groups to bring lawsuits against their local governments. I think Chicago and Oakland can be singled out.

Why is Oregon trying to criminalize Twitter?

Occupy Portland

It’s the oddest thing. A new law being proposed in Oregon would stop people from using electronic media to promote activities that can be considered illegal. Those activities include anything pertaining to acts of civil disobedience. It would appear this is directly aimed at Occupy Portland as Mother Jones is reporting.

The bill, SB 1534, would make it a felony to use “electronic communication to solicit two or more persons to commit [a] specific crime at [a] specific time and location.” The punishment could include up to 5 years in prison and a $125,000 fine.

The author of the bill defends his creation by saying it has to do more with real criminal behavior like robbery being organized online, but with the way the bill is written it would target any peaceful protest that sought to break a law. It’s one thing to try and stop people using Twitter or Facebook to organize an armed robbery. But you can’t draft your legislation so loosely that it affects acts of civil disobedience.

Greyhound has some explaining to do on kicking OWS off bus

I did not know that Greyhound was a political firm. After reading about how some Occupy Wall Street protestors were kicked off of a bus traveling to Washington D.C. this weekend; I see now that they do have an ideology.

The driver, Donald Ainsworth, allegedly called the Occupiers “you people” and told them they were not welcome in Washington or anywhere else. It is not clear whether there had been any precipitating incident.

So is Greyhound the official Tea Party Express now?

Update – Someone has started a petition on Change.org to ask Greyhound to fire the driver who kicked the OWS people off of the bus.

1 percent CEO loses mind and breaks finger of waiter

harlanceofinger-composite

Photo credit: Taken from Raw Story article.  Flickr user through my eyes. Right: Castle Harlan, Inc. CEO John K. Castle, courtesy CastleHarlan.com.

Sadly, this is how many in the 1 percent who have lost touch with us commoners must think of the people who “serve” them. Social Darwinists of the world unite! If you attain a certain status level in life you are allowed to break the fingers of those beneath you.

The minor misstep so enraged Castle, who heads the New York-based private equity firm Castle Harlan, Inc., that he allegedly grabbed the 54-year-old waiter’s left hand and began twisting his fingers, even as Castle’s wife sat watching.

All because the waiter dared bring him his check. Yes, he was supposed to put it on the 1 percent CEO’s tab! How dare this common manservant defy the financial caste system!

Occupy China?

So far the powers that be in China have clamped down on elements that would spark a version of the Arab Spring from happening in their own country. As this story shows however, there are cracks that are beginning to form in the authoritarian control structure.

Villagers in Wukan are fighting to prevent the government from handing their land over to developers.

By December, as with many land-rights struggles in the Global South, direct action was apparently the only leverage villagers had to push back against the local government. The death of a leading protester in police custody catalyzed their outrage, and after driving out local officials, the activists launched an ad-hoc self-governing occupation.

It sounds like an Occupy movement to me. It actually sounds like a lot more honestly.

Harrisburg, PA the little #Occupy that could

I know they can….I know they can.

Sure they don’t have the media market of NYC or even Oakland for that matter, heck, even the tundra went viral. Nonetheless, Harrisburg has a cause  that is worth occupying for. They are organizing to protest the pending eviction of the owner of 100 acres in Lewisberry, PA called Satori Farm.

The owner of Satori Farm, Stephen Conklin Sr. foresaw the use of this land to be in accord with the practice of sustainability. He used the land in conjunction with the Fresh Air Fund which afforded children an experience outside of their urban dwellings.

As Occupy Harrisburg says

He offered the use of his land to other organizations for a variety of purposes free of charge. He also offered the shelter of his home and food in his pantry to anyone in need. He was happy to share what he had.

Now all of this is apparently in jeopardy due to a fraudulent foreclosure that now lingers overhead like a swarm of locusts waiting to descend on its target.  Since 1998, Mr. Conklin Sr. has tried to rectify this situation but has faced many obstacles. If nothing is done come January 5th an effort to evict the current occupants will in all likelihood take place.

Update -

The Occupy Harrisburg folks have also set up a fax action. See below.

We’ve been talking about the eviction of the Conklin Family but there’s STILL TIME for a federal Judge to step in. View the proof of fraud here. Please call and fax Judge Robert D. Mariani here:

Judge Robert D. Mariani
Phone (570) 207-5750
Fax: (570) 207-5759

You can use free fax services such as FaxZero. Be sure to have everyone you know send a fax and make a call!

Here’s a sample fax to send. Feel free to personalize it with your own story:

Dear Judge Robert D. Mariani:

I’m writing you in support of Stephen Conklin Sr., his 84 year old father, and his family. I am requesting a Temporary Restraining Order and give Mr. Conklin a fair trial.

You were generous enough to grant a 2 week Temporary Restraining Order on December 7th but if you fail to act by 2PM Thursday the family will be evicted. The case number is 1:10-CV-2501.

It’s a shame that this veteran, who fought in WWII to defend the American Dream, is having it stolen from him with fraudulent documents from several banks. Lynn Szymoniak verified the fraud. Judge Arthur Schack of NY has thrown out cases with just a fraction of the fraud Mr. Conklin has discovered.

Thank You,

Scientific data backs up OWS

A friend sent me this link to an analysis published in New Scientist that I found interesting.

 An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

Here’s a list of the most connected corporations in the world.

The top 50 of the 147 superconnected companies

1. Barclays plc
2. Capital Group Companies Inc
3. FMR Corporation
4. AXA
5. State Street Corporation
6. JP Morgan Chase & Co
7. Legal & General Group plc
8. Vanguard Group Inc
9. UBS AG
10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc
11. Wellington Management Co LLP
12. Deutsche Bank AG
13. Franklin Resources Inc
14. Credit Suisse Group
15. Walton Enterprises LLC
16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp
17. Natixis
18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc
19. T Rowe Price Group Inc
20. Legg Mason Inc
21. Morgan Stanley
22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc
23. Northern Trust Corporation
24. Société Générale
25. Bank of America Corporation
26. Lloyds TSB Group plc
27. Invesco plc
28. Allianz SE 29. TIAA
30. Old Mutual Public Limited Company
31. Aviva plc
32. Schroders plc
33. Dodge & Cox
34. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc*
35. Sun Life Financial Inc
36. Standard Life plc
37. CNCE
38. Nomura Holdings Inc
39. The Depository Trust Company
40. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
41. ING Groep NV
42. Brandes Investment Partners LP
43. Unicredito Italiano SPA
44. Deposit Insurance Corporation of Japan
45. Vereniging Aegon
46. BNP Paribas
47. Affiliated Managers Group Inc
48. Resona Holdings Inc
49. Capital Group International Inc
50. China Petrochemical Group Company

* Lehman still existed in the 2007 dataset used