The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia
This just-completed trial in downtown New York against three faceless financial executives really was historic. Over 10 years in the making, the case allowed federal prosecutors to make public for the first time the astonishing inner workings of the reigning American crime syndicate, which now operates not out of Little Italy and Las Vegas, but out of Wall Street.
The defendants in the case – Dominick Carollo, Steven Goldberg and Peter Grimm – worked for GE Capital, the finance arm of General Electric. Along with virtually every major bank and finance company on Wall Street – not just GE, but J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, UBS, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Wachovia and more – these three Wall Street wiseguys spent the past decade taking part in a breathtakingly broad scheme to skim billions of dollars from the coffers of cities and small towns across America. The banks achieved this gigantic rip-off by secretly colluding to rig the public bids on municipal bonds, a business worth $3.7 trillion. By conspiring to lower the interest rates that towns earn on these investments, the banks systematically stole from schools, hospitals, libraries and nursing homes – from “virtually every state, district and territory in the United States,” according to one settlement. And they did it so cleverly that the victims never even knew they were being _cheated. No thumbs were broken, and nobody ended up in a landfill in New Jersey, but money disappeared, lots and lots of it, and its manner of disappearance had a familiar name: organized crime.
Occupy and 350.org – You Come Down Here and Embrace!
You see from the title of my little sermon, that I am asking the people from two movements, 350.org and Occupy Wall Street, to do the same.
These two groups are difference-makers in the world. In the last year and a half – who has had more impact in our country? OWS and 350 share the view that entrenched power is only stopped by people power. In fact, they both call themselves “movements,” right up front in their introductory remarks, like they’re writing their own history. They both have galvanized thousands of citizens who hadn’t necessarily planned to work so hard, to make so much contact with strangers, to feel such exhilaration.
But it is time for the two families to “come down here and embrace.” I have frequented both worlds, and communication between 350 and Occupy is spotty at best.
Occupy vs Eviction: Radicals, Reform, and Dispossession
In the first part of this post I discuss the anti-eviction work of Occupy Homes. In the second part I discuss some of the demographics of home ownership in the U.S.. In the third part, I discuss political reformism. In the fourth I take up radicals acting in reformist movements, and in the last part I discuss the current push by capitalists and their politicians to impose worse live on many people.
Many Republican National Convention protesters won’t follow Tampa’s script
Tampa will swarm with discontent during the Republican National Convention. Protesters have filed requests to march, bike, rally, pray, party and sculpt ice. But as those permit requests offer local officials an early glimpse of how the city will be transformed in August, they don’t tell the whole story.
Many groups don’t intend to inform the city, much less ask permission. Their nascent plans will draw activists beyond the event zone to targets throughout Tampa and St. Petersburg. One action to “Shut Down Bain Capital” on the last day of the RNC has identified a dozen businesses – including Outback Steakhouse, Clear Channel Communications and Dunkin’ Donuts – for potential protests. Bain Capital, which was co-founded by Mitt Romney, owns a stake in those businesses, according to its website.
The protestors have the potential to snarl traffic and keep police hopping as they spread through the city. Some will likely dress in black and cause havoc.
Occupy the asylum [AK]
Psychiatric patients’ rights advocates Faith Myers and Dorrance Collins are making news in DIY fashion-on YouTube, where they’ve posted video shot Friday, June 15, on the grounds of Alaska Psychiatric Institute. The video also features some unexpected guests. Two hospital employees, a man and a woman, enter the shot to play the awkward role of government authoritarians telling the advocates to stop making video (oops). Myers has sued API in the past, she won a ruling in 2006 from the Alaska Supreme Court that declared a forced drugging policy at the hospital unconstitutional. The man behind the camera was none other Jim Gottstien, a local attorney who founded the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights.
After being told to stop making video, and being asked who gave “permission” to shoot video at the state-owned facility, Collins gently but firmly stands his ground and says the state of Alaska gives him permission.
NHCLU backs Occupy – Advocacy group claims constitutional protection
The New Hampshire Constitution protects a person’s right to revolt against a government that’s been hijacked by special interests. Supporters of Occupy Manchester are hoping that right will allow them to resume their overnight protest camp at a public park in downtown Manchester.
“The government and the corporations have gotten to a point where they work together to keep a large percentage of the wealth, and the rest of us have to make do with what we’ve got,” said Matt Lawrence of Manchester, who is fighting a curfew violation for “occupying” Veterans’ Park after hours. “(Occupying) is a tactic to say, ‘Hey, you better listen to us. We’re your constituents and you are ignoring us.’ ”
Yesterday, Barbara Keshen, staff attorney with the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, asked a district court judge to dismiss the charges on constitutional grounds.
Farm protesters planned to file anti-SLAPP motion against UC
The defendants named in the recently-dropped lawsuit filed by the UC Board of Regents against Occupy the Farm intended to file an anti-SLAPP motion against the university in response to the case earlier this month.
SLAPP – Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation – is a type of lawsuit intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics of corporations or government entities by burdening them with the cost of legal defense.
The acronym was first coined in the 1980s to describe lawsuits filed against environmental activists, but it has now come to include any suit that threatens an individual or group’s right to petition as provided by the First Amendment, and in California, it also describes suits that threaten speech on any public issue.
Minnesota Pair Discuss Foreclosure with PNC
Amid angry chants against PNC Bank, about 40 Occupy movement protestors marched Downtown on Thursday with Minnesota residents David and Alejandra Cruz, whose home had been foreclosed on.
The crowd marched to the bank’s headquarters on Fifth Avenue to support the brother’s and sister’s effort to renegotiate a mortgage with PNC, said the Cruzes.
As mortgage servicer for Freddie Mac, PNC foreclosed on their Minneapolis home in August 2010. The sibling’s father, David Cruz-Sanchez, bought the home in 2007 with a mortgage from National City Bank, which PNC later acquired.
Occupy Our Homes Atlanta protests at Buckhead bank
About 30 people from the group “Occupy Our Homes Atlanta” entered the PNC Bank’s Buckhead branch on Piedmont Road this afternoon to protest the bank’s foreclosure and eviction of a Minnesota family’s home – an act which has become a focal point for the nationwide “Occupy Our Homes” movement.
According to news reports, PNC Bank foreclosed on the Cruz family’s south Minneapolis home in February. The family claims that the bank failed to withdraw a monthly payment from the family’s account. The bank later tried to impose a penalty that would have equaled two months’ payment, which the Cruzes could not afford. The house ended up being bought by Freddie Mac in a sale of foreclosed homes. The family was told they had 48 hours to leave their home, at which point Occupy members stepped in. Since then protests have been held at the home, resulting in many arrests. Thirteen people were arrested yesterday at the home, including hip-hop artist Brother Ali.
Protestors Greet Track & Field Trials Participants
A handful of members of Occupy Eugene greeted people as they arrived at Hayward Field Friday morning. The group was protesting Nike, homelessness, and wealth inequities on opening day of the Olympic Track and Field Trials.
The group of about a dozen protestors held signs and handed out pamphlets from the sidewalk on Agate Street. Eugene resident Lee Devoe says she felt compelled to come here.
Devoe: “All this hype about the trials. When there’s so much going on in the world and in our city that needs attention. And the plight of those who are houseless.”
Lakeview Elementary protest continues as first week comes to a close
The People’s School for Public Education is nearly a week old.
Protesters, including parents of students at Lakeview Elementary and members of Occupy Oakland, continued to occupy the Oakland Unified School District elementary school across from the Grand Lake Theater on Thursday, holding classes like gardening, art and social justice for the dozen or so adolescents present.
Open Letter to the Corporate Media from Occupy New Zealand
To the employees of our National media outlets; in our naive shock and disbelief at the inaccuracies, favouritisms and false representations made to the international public concerning the inception and continuation of the Occupy movement globally; we have wronged YOU.
You, the individual corporate media employee, denied the right to unionise in a meaningful pursuit of the BARE MINIMUM in appropriate work conditions – encouraged, institutionalised and coerced to the MISpursuit of truth by the industrial framework and management environment that rewards false things over integrity, covets facets and image over substance, and above all covets the almighty advertising dollar.
You work in a broken, defunct system that is being made collectively redundant by the indisputable NEED of the people to obtain and ratify and share, when you don’t, the TRUTH of what is happening to our world at ground level – to the extent that of sheer desperation, members of the public band together and against any natural inclination embrace REAL journalism, UNPAID… replacing & exposing hypocrisy and whistleblowing on the facts you won’t report.
Protesting Grandparents Occupy German Consulate [Spain]
Grandparents wearing reflective vests and carrying signs decrying the bailouts took to the streets of Barcelona on Friday – and then entered the German consulate to protest against Germany’s position in the Euro crisis.
Calling themselves ‘Iaioflautas’ – a name which combines an affectionate word for grandfather with a derogatory term for street people – they are a growing organization of elderly protesters who stage regular “occupations” of bank branches.
The deepening economic crisis has prompted creative protests among Spaniards, who are frustrated that budgets are being cut in schools and hospitals, while banks that lent recklessly during the boom days are due to receive more than $100 billion in European aid.
British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor`s vacant London home illegally occupied
An empty house owned by sculptor Anish Kapoor in London has been illegally occupied by anti-capitalists for a one-day arts event, the group said on Friday. Anish is a known British-Indian name who designed the Olympic Park`s landmark red tower in England’s capital.
Members of ‘Bread and Circuses’ recently entered the five-storey Georgian building in Lincoln`s Inn Fields, one of central London`s most attractive and exclusive garden squares, to protest against corporate involvement in art.
It is the first in a series of planned protests by the group targeting next month`s London Olympics and other events.
Ontario students occupy university minister’s Toronto office
A group of university students have occupied the office of Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities to denounce the recent provincial budget and show their solidarity with anti-tuition hike protesters demonstrating in Quebec City and Montreal.
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