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Wisconsin Governor plans to sell state utilities to his friends for pennies

ginandtacos.com -- STAND AND DELIVER
The lion's share of attention regarding Scott Walker's legislative proposal has been paid to the effort to revoke Wisconsin public employees' collective bargaining rights, but the 144-page bill (more reliable link here) is a far more exhaustive and inclusive list of the fundamentals of Republican politics in the 21st Century. Not many people have the time to plow through the whole bill but those who do will be rewarded with plenty of gems like this: 16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state�ˆ’owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state�ˆ’owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b). If this isn't the best summary of the goals of modern conservatism, I don't know what is. It's like a highlight reel of all of the tomahawk dunks of neo-Gilded Age corporatism: privatization, no-bid contracts, deregulation, and naked cronyism. Extra bonus points for the explicit effort to legally redefine the term "public interest" as "whatever the energy industry lobbyists we appoint to these unelected bureaucratic positions say it is."

Leader Of Egyptian Unions To Wisconsin Protesters: ‘We Stand With You As You Stood With Us’

ThinkProgress -- Leader Of Egyptian Unions To Wisconsin Protesters: ‘We Stand With You As You Stood With Us’
One of the most underreported stories about the pro-democracy movement in Egypt was the role of labor unions in the demonstrations, many of which were protesting against neoliberal right-wing economic policies just as much as they were protesting against the Mubarak dictatorship. During the uprising in that country, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka praised the role of organized labor, saying, “The people’s movement for democracy in Egypt and the role unions are playing for freedom and worker rights inspires us and will not be forgotten.” Now, as tens of thousands of union members and other Wisconsin residents are taking to the streets to protest against Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) attempt to abolish collective bargaining rights for most public workers, a leader of Egypt’s largest umbrella group of independent labor unions is praising the Wisconsin movement. In a videotaped statement, Kamal Abbas, the General Coordinator of the Centre for Trade Unions and Workers Services, tells the Wisconsin protesters, “We stand with you as you stood with us.” He says “no one believed” that the revolution against the Mubarak regime would succeed, yet they were able to bring the dictator down within 18 days.

February 20, 2011

Matt Taibbi -- Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?

MUST READ! Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail? | Rolling Stone Politics
Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer. "Everything's fucked up, and nobody goes to jail," he said. "That's your whole story right there. Hell, you don't even have to write the rest of it. Just write that." I put down my notebook. "Just that?" "That's right," he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. "Everything's fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there." Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world's wealth — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people. . . .

February 16, 2011

Borders declares chapter 11 bankruptcy, owes hundreds of millions to publishers

Borders files chapter 11; owes Diamond $3.9 million--The Beat
According to Borders, the financing should enable Borders to operate the stores that remain open in a “normal course” including honoring its Borders Rewards program, gift cards and other customer programs. Additionally, the company said it expects to make employee payroll and continue its benefits programs for its employees. The announcement made this morning was foreshadowed last night when it implemented an ordering freeze and Ingram, its lifeline to the publishers, stopped shipping books. Publishers are on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars led by Penguin Group (USA) which is owned $41.1 million, followed by Hachette at $36.9 million, Simon & Schuster at $33.8 million, Random House at $33.5 million, and HarperCollins at $25.8 million. Neither major book distributor, Ingram or Baker & Taylor were among the leading creditors, and only one book distributor, National Book Network, which is out $2 million. The filing listed $1.27 billion in assets and $1.29 billion in liabilities. Borders said it expects to be able to pay vendors for merchandise shipped to it after today’s filing 16; those owed money prior to the filing will only be paid with the approval of the bankruptcy court.