June 19, 2014


How Politicians Are Using Taxpayer Money To Fund Their Campaign To Sell Off America’s Public Lands. The recent Cliven Bundy debacle in Nevada put a national spotlight on the long-running, and long-failing, effort by right-wing Western legislators to seize federal public lands and either turn them over to the states or sell them to the highest bidder. While the renewal of this so-called “Sagebrush Rebellion” has thus far been carried out with limited resources by part-time legislators like State Rep. Ken Ivory (R-UT), new research shows that its leaders are now using taxpayer money from at least 42 counties in nine Western states to advance an aggressive and coordinated campaign to seize America’s public lands and national forests for drilling, mining, and logging. Think Progress

Water Privatization: Coming to a Century Old System Near You? The good news is that our more than a century old, dangerously deteriorating water and wastewater systems are about to get long overdue attention. Not only did Congress give the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA) a landslide vote – House (412-4) and Senate (91-7) – but on June 10, President Obama signed on. . . . Over time, we may find many controversial aspects to WRRDA, but, for now, Title V and WIFIA – the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act – seem most likely to be the most controversial because of WIFIA’s connection with privatization.  Truth-Out

IN: Indiana monitors Toll Road operators’ financial troubles. The Indiana Finance Authority continues to monitor the financial difficulties of the Indiana Toll Road, where operators who hold the 75-year lease are struggling to meet a June debt payment. . . .Cintra, a Spanish firm, and Macquarie Group, of Australia, paid the state of Indiana $3.8 billion in 2006 in exchange for the right to operate the 157-mile road and collect all tolls for 75 years. But traffic on the road has never lived up to expectations, taking a direct hit almost immediately from the recession that started at the end of 2007. . . .The Toll Road turns an operating profit on tolls, but it has struggled under a mountain of debt now calculated at $4.4 billion in the most recent annual report from Macquarie Atlas Roads. Some $3.9 billion of debt matures in 12 months and will have to be refinanced by June 2015, according to the same report. The concession agreement the state signed with the consortium formed by Cintra and Macquarie Group in 2006 allows the state to take various actions in cases where the Toll Road operator misses payments to creditors, defaults, or goes bankrupt. In a worst-case scenario for investors, that includes Indiana basically serving the Toll Road operators with an eviction notice.  nwitimes.com

LA: The Jindal Tour Of The Americas. . . He’s dialed up his devotion to privatizing almost everything in his state, which already was a profoundly poisoned well of corporate depredation. . . . But it has been in the field of education in which Jindal’s starboard floundering has been the most pronounced. His voucher program has been exposed as a fountain of misinformation — Party Of Stupid! — and the Louisiana courts set fire to what was left of it. And today, he finally went over the falls, declaring that, unilaterally, he’s going to pull Louisiana out of the Common Core program into which he signed the state four years ago. There are good reasons to be wary about Common Core; Diane Ravitch has been busy citing most of them. But one of the good reasons is no the current frenzy ginned up by people who believe the standards are the thin edge of the collectivist, One World wedge, a kind of classroom equivalent of our old pal Agenda 21, the secret UN plan to steal all our golfs. Guess which approach Jindal has chosen?  Esquire (blog)