Last week, tragedy was averted when savvy security at Deutsche Bank (DB) in Frankfurt, Germany, spotted a suspicious package and sequestered a letter bomb intended for the DB CEO. This was the second time Deutsche Bank was attacked in this manner. In 1989, their CEO was killed by a bomb later traced to violent extremists in Germany's Red Army Faction.
The "Occupy Wall Street" movement is providing a real-time case study of the difference between a true grassroots movement and a corporate-backed astroturf movement.
Americans in recent years have been besieged by industry-funded astroturf efforts masquerading as real grassroots movements. One example is the "Hands off my Healthcare" national roadshow, which was backed by the Koch-funded group, Americans for Prosperity. Another is the Tea Party, which got a corporate-sponsored media boost from the Fox News Channel and benefitted from the the efforts of a Sacramento, California-based Republican PR firm, Russo Marsh & Rogers. Astroturf uses manufactured spin and messaging that requires real money for things like media buys, front groups, mass-broadcast faxes, telemarketing-generated petitions, glossy postcards, form letters and talk radio-inspired phone calls.
On the one-year anniversary of an important American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meeting in Washington D.C., Wisconsin's public safety officers gathered to prepare for the next stage in the fight for labor rights.
Some 250 police and firefighters signed recall petitions, loaded up on maps and assignments and to listened to guest speakers at a "Recall Walker" gathering at Madison's South Central Federation of Labor. Mark Sanders, President of the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters, was there to pass the torch and Harold Schaitberger, National President of the International Association of Professional Firefighters (IAFF), was there to reminded the crowd about the critical role ALEC played in the Wisconsin and Ohio uprisings.
Lender Processing Services, Inc. (LPS) of Jacksonville, Florida -- one of the most notorious processors of fraudulent home foreclosure documents in the country -- has donated 1,000 tickets for a professional football game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the San Diego Chargers to Jacksonville Area USO. After the 2008 economic bust, LPS subsidiary DocX churned out huge numbers of fraudulent foreclosure documents for the country's biggest banks, including Wells Fargo, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Citibank, U.S. Bank and Bank of America, which resulted in countless Americans being wrongfully thrown out of their homes. DocX hired boiler rooms full of people, some of whom were high school students, and paid them $10 an hour to fraudulently robosign the name "Linda Green" onto hundreds of thousands of foreclosure documents, and then hired notary publics to falsely notarize the fake signatures. "Linda Green" was later found to be listed as vice president of over 20 banks and multiple "Linda Greens" were featured in a 60 Minutes investigation. LPS denies responsibility for the massive fraud, preferring instead to let two DocX employees take the fall for the entire debacle. On November 28, 2011, Tracy Lawrence, a Las Vegas notary public who had agreed to testify against the two DocX employees, was found dead in her home on the day she was to testify. LPS says the ticket donation is a "perfect way for us to help the courageous members of our armed forces enjoy some much-needed relaxation and to show our continued support for the Jacksonville Jaguars and our city."
The U.S. House of Representatives votes soon on a series of deregulatory bills that, according to the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (CSS), "threaten vital health, environmental, safety and financial regulations."
Voting is expected on the Regulatory Accountability Act (H.R. 3010) and the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act (H.R. 527) on December 1, and on The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 10) next week.
Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) calls these bills "an early Christmas present to the Koch Brothers, who made this Congress possible."
In the dead of night November 14, the movement to hold big banks accountable for their crimes took two major hits. Occupy Wall Street activists were swept from Zuccotti Park as radical members of Congress moved to gut funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and advance a series of shocking proposals to roll back financial reform.
Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce lost his seat in a recall election November 8th. The vote was widely seen as a referendum on Senate Bill 1070, the volatile anti-immigration legislation introduced by Pearce, a longtime member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has promised to create 250,000 new jobs. In advance of a planned gubernatorial recall election, Walker announced last month that the State Legislature would focus "like a laser" on job creation. With his "special session" on jobs now concluded, it is clear that the legislative package had little to do with jobs and much to do with spin, special interests and the illusion of momentum.