Community Articles from 2018

Energy Transfer: New Name for Pipeline Company But Same Spills and Violence Against Protesters

[Justice]
Energy Transfer: New Name for Pipeline Company But Same Spills and Violence Against Protesters
By Sharon Kelly
Posted November 16, 2018

Kelsey Warren, Energy Transfer CEOBattles over new shale gas and oil pipelines involving Energy Transfer, formerly known as Energy Transfer Partners, have heated up in recent weeks — an escalation that carries a tilt, as one side stands accused of acts of violence.

Energy Transfer (ET) security contractors have been accused of physically assaulting pipeline opponents on multiple occasions, including incidents in which security allegedly pointed a gun at one pipeline opponent, struck another with the butt of a shotgun, and overturned two boats carrying a television film crew and pipeline opponents into a Louisiana swamp, according to a new report published by Greenpeace USA on October 18. More…

How a Gang of Hedge Funders Strip-Mined Kentucky’s Public Pensions

[Economic]
How a Gang of Hedge Funders Strip-Mined Kentucky’s Public Pensions
by Gary Rivlin
Posted November 12, 2018

hedge funds gamble with public pensionsKentucky’s willingness to gamble massively on high-risk alternative investments for its pensions has made the state an easy mark for Wall Street hucksters.

In April 2008, a longtime investment adviser named Chris Tobe was appointed to the board of trustees that oversees the Kentucky Retirement Systems, the pension fund that provides for the state’s firefighters, police, and other government employees. Within a year, his fellow trustees named Tobe to the six-person committee that oversees its investments, becoming the only member of the committee with any actual investment experience. It was an experiment in fiduciary responsibility that ended badly. “I started asking questions when things weren’t sounding right,” Tobe said. “And a secret session was held where they voted to kick me off.”

Several weeks after he was removed, the remaining members of the committee approved a $200 million investment in a hedge fund called Arrowhawk Capital Partners. Tobe, though he remained a trustee, only learned about the deal after the fact, while reading the magazine Pensions & Investments. More…

Wall Street Is Spending Big to Protect Its Ability to Jack Up Rents in California

[Economic]
Wall Street Is Spending Big to Protect Its Ability to Jack Up Rents in California
by David Dayen
Posted November 09, 2018

Blackstone Group, largest landlord in USFor some on Wall Street, the financial crash of 2008 represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Homeowners who’d been walloped by the very crisis Wall Street had created were struggling to pay their mortgages, so financiers swooped in and bought up foreclosed homes, knowing the assets would eventually rise in price again.

But with so many people foreclosed on and out of work, selling the homes was difficult, so Wall Street hit on a different approach: renting them out. Now, the biggest practitioner of this gambit is spending heavily to make sure it stays lucrative.

Blackstone Group, a private equity giant that is also now the world’s largest real estate management firm, has pumped in $6,859,747 so far to battle a ballot measure in California that would allow cities to re-establish rent control laws, including on single-family homes. That figure constitutes $1 out of every $7 supporting the “No on Prop 10″ campaign and is part of a $45.5 million assault, mostly from corporate landlords and property developers, on the right of cities to determine their own rental laws. More…

Anti-Terrorism Laws Increasingly Used to Target Indigenous Activists

[Justice]
Anti-Terrorism Laws Increasingly Used to Target Indigenous Activists
By Sandra Cuffe
Posted November 8, 2018

police abuse of peaceful protestorsThe images flew around the world. The teepees. The tear gas. The Indigenous water protectors’ camps. The boots advancing in unison as security forces cracked down on protests at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access pipeline. The defiance. The hundreds of arrests.

“While Sioux leaders advocated for protests to remain peaceful, State law enforcement officials, private security companies and the North Dakota National Guard employed a militarized response to protests,” Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples, wrote in a recent report. A mercenary firm had been surveilling the pipeline opposition movement and engaged in military-style counterterrorism measures, according to an investigative report published by The Intercept.

The use of counterterrorism tactics against Indigenous protesters in the US reflects a global trend. More…

Think about this, these mercenaries are people who left the communities they pledged to “protect and serve” to answer a call to “protect and serve” corporate interests in another community, while these same corporate interests were placing local people’s water supplies at serious risk.

The People Give the Orders and the Government Obeys

[Community]
The People Give the Orders and the Government Obeys
by Jeff Thomas
Posted November 7, 2018

people speak, government obeysThe sign above is located in the state of Chiapas in Mexico. In English, it says, “You are in the territory of Zapatista in Rebellion. Here, the people give the orders and the government obeys.”

Well, of course, what that really means is that the Zapatistas give the orders, not the people as a whole. Still, the people generally regard the Zapatistas as being more representative of their wishes (and less parasitical) than the government.

Mexicans are further along than, say, Europeans or Americans in understanding the true role of government. The mask has been off for some time and the people understand that the government does not exist to serve them; it exists to enslave them – that is, to rob them of the fruits of their labour through taxation, whilst doing as little as possible to benefit them. More…

How Jury Duty Gives You the Power to Erase Bad Laws

[Justice]
How Jury Duty Gives You the Power to Erase Bad Laws
By Joe Jarvis
Posted November 5, 2018

jury nullification is an optionIn the United States, all accused criminals have the right to be tried by a jury of their peers.

Adults from the area where an alleged crime was committed are chosen to hear the court case. They have to weigh the evidence. And if they have any reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime, they are supposed to deliver a not guilty verdict.

But not everyone knows that juries can also deliver a not guilty verdict when they disagree with the law.So say all the evidence clearly shows that, for example, a veteran was growing marijuana to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

As a juror, you do NOT have to deliver a guilty verdict, even if you are 100% sure he committed the “crime.” Instead, you can disagree that it should be criminal at all, and say not guilty. More…

The Public Banking Revolution

[Community]
The Public Banking Revolution
by Ben Hauck
Posted November 3, 2018

Who should get the benefits of local resources?Public banking is not a new concept. Countries across the world have used public banking to finance and power their economies for years. Economic powerhouses like Germany continue to feature public banking as a cornerstone of their society. Public banking even exists here in the United States with the nearly 100 year-old Bank of North Dakota, a bank more profitable than Goldman Sachs and with a better credit rating than JPMorgan Chase.

Historically, the public banking movement has expanded significantly during times of financial crisis, including a massive surge in popularity after the economic destruction from the Great Recession. However the idea of public banking is still relatively unknown by the general populace, especially outside of financial and political circles. That is changing. More…

New FCC Ruling Gives Federal Government Control of 5G Rollout

[Media]
New FCC Ruling Gives Federal Government Control of 5G Rollout
by Derrick Broze
Posted October 29, 2018

federal government overrides local governmentsAs the push towards 5G-powered “Smart” surveillance cities begins across the United States the Federal Communications Commission has approved a new rule limiting the power of local authorities.

The coming Smart Grid also threatens to wipe away the last vestiges of privacy – all in the name of convenience, novelty, and (allegedly) safety. However, the dangers are largely being ignored in favor of touting the perceived benefits. The ACLU described the surveillance dangers of 5G technology:

“Many of these technologies involve cameras that can be tasked with jobs that range from keeping track of traffic to monitoring when the corner trash can gets full. The problems start when they’re also used for tracking people and their movements. In a city blanketed with cameras — including in LED light bulbs found in streetlights — it would be very easy for the government to track which political meetings, religious institutions, doctors offices, and other sensitive locations people go to and to focus its attention even more on traditionally over-policed communities. This is why these “Smart Cities” are also referred to as “Surveillance Cities.” More…

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