Posted 5 months ago on Nov. 25, 2012, 4:26 p.m. EST by LeoYo
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Why So Secretive? The Trans-Pacific Partnership as Global Coup
Sunday, 25 November 2012 09:29 By Andrew Gavin Marshall, Occupy.com | News Analysis
Detroit Sale of Huge Amounts of Land Could Lead to Displacement, Say Residents
Sunday, 25 November 2012 11:41 By Victor Walker, The Michigan Citizen | Report
Detroit - Detroit City Council sent Hantz Farms back to the drawing board after a Nov. 15 committee meeting to revise a proposal for the purchase of more than 1,500 parcels of city-owned land.
Council members and concerned citizens expressed their concerns about the sale to Hantz Farms under a purchase agreement that would benefit the city financially, but would allow the commercial urban agriculture initiative to acquire the land with no specific development plan.
The proposed plan is valued at $600,000 and according to Mike Score, president of Hantz Farms, the only goal in acquiring the land is to "beautify the city and make it more livable."
Brittany Scales, a Detroit resident, says Hantz' intention is questionable at best.
"No one I know would buy that much land for that much money only to make it look good," Scales said. "Is Hantz Farms working within the law to cheat the people?"
Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins, chair of the Planning and Economic Development Committee, said: "I am not debating the benefits. The question is 'Why wouldn't we have protections to make sure that's all you do unless you come back to the city for permission?'"
Some citizens are also cynical and believe that without a specific plan under a development agreement, "more livable" could translate into expensive homes they cannot afford.
"What's really going on?" Terrence Stacks White asked after the meeting. "Clearly, their vision is to develop something on the land. I'm concerned it would be something like town homes or condominiums that would benefit them and not the city."
Detroit resident Judy Gardner believes a development agreement is the only way to ensure Hantz Farms doesn't intend to buy up the land only to sell it to a third party for profit. "They have not been forthcoming," Gardner said. "If their plans are so beneficial to the people of the city of Detroit, why have they gone to great lengths to keep them under wraps?"
Bruce Goldman, senior assistant Corporation Counsel at the City of Detroit Law Department, said, "A development agreement is not needed because there is sufficient regulation under the existing zoning ordinance to protect from deviation from what Hantz Farms has said it wants to do."
Some argue that public hearings should be held in an effort to be fair and transparent because such large amounts of city-owned property is at stake.
"Agreements need to be made public before being voted on by City Council and citizens should be adequately informed," said Cheryl Simon, coordinator for the Detroit Food Policy Council.
Others say a deal of this nature is premature considering the city is waiting on an Urban Agriculture Ordinance that would govern proper land use. Phil Jones, chair of the Detroit food Policy Council, said, "I am disappointed that this is going forward without the urban agriculture ordinance being passed as promised. I think people want to talk about these issues."
Hantz Farms is "not proposing to do anything other than clean the property up," said Marcell Todd, Jr., director of the City Planning Commission. "If an urban agriculture ordinance passes, they would be subject to that ordinance and would have to come back to this body."
Renee Wallace, a Detroit resident, spoke of Hantz Farms' dream of building the world's largest urban farm on the east side of the city. "That dream was not downscaled to doing landscaping." Wallace asked the Council to suspend approval of agreement until proper protections can be put into place and the "real deal is on the table."
Score asked Council for more time to "change the language" of the agreement to address their issues. Councilmember Jenkins said explicitly that she would only entertain a development agreement that included a provision requiring Hantz Farm to follow up with the Council should they change the agreement. The Committee voted the measure out to the entire Council on Nov. 20 body without recommentdation.
This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.
Independent Publisher Chelsea Green Flourishing as Employee-Owned Company
Sunday, 25 November 2012 08:53 By Martha Sorren, Truthout | Report
The People Bail Out the People
Sunday, 25 November 2012 11:11 By John Light, Moyers & Co. | Report
Last week, the members of Strike Debt, a group of Occupy activists working to help Americans dealing with debt, launched a new campaign called The Rolling Jubilee. The initiative — a clever plan to collect money, buy up other people’s debt and forgive it — kicked off on Thursday with a variety show in New York dubbed “The People’s Bailout.” The show, live-streamed over the Internet as a telethon, raised enough money to cancel over five million dollars of debt. In canceling the debt, the Strike Debt team is taking advantage of a fairly common banking practice. When debt is severely distressed — that is, when debtors aren’t paying up – banks write the loans off their books. But they often sell the debt for less than the loan was worth to recoup some of their losses.
View a slideshow of the event.
Strike Debt is working with a debt purchaser to buy distressed medical debt for about five cents on the dollar. Then Strike Debt cancels it, freeing debtors who were unable to pay their medical bills. Americans owe over $11 trillion in debt. Over $1 trillion of that is student debt. Sixty-two percent of bankruptcies are caused by medical bills, and that figure rose by 50 percent between 2001 and 2007.
The People’s Bailout featured over a dozen performers and speakers — folk singers, rappers, magicians, comedians, Catholic nuns, a professor, a journalist — all of whom appeared for free to help Strike Debt raise money and share the message that debtors are not alone. “Debt is a tie that binds the 99%,” was one frequently-repeated phrase. A large sign on the wall read “you are not a loan.” The show closed with three songs performed by an unlikely pair: Guy Picciotto of Fugazi and Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel. Mangum has only started performing again recently after a decade of reclusion.
The name “The Rolling Jubilee” was based in the ancient idea of a “jubilee year.” “The jubilee … comes out of the Abrahamic religious traditions,” humorist David Rees, one of the masters of ceremonies, said. “The idea of abolishing debt — freeing slaves literally and metaphorically — is a very powerful, very human impulse that we want to update for our new century.”
There was an air of moral imperative — and, sometimes, religiosity — to the event: Two reverends spoke, a gospel choir sang and a group of Catholic nuns, the Sisters of St. Joseph, talked about debt. During the evening, many of the performers suggested that, in the past few weeks, Occupy has honed in on a purpose, turning ideas into action through initiatives like the Jubilee and Occupy Sandy. At the People’s Bailout, the Strike Debt team hit their goal of raising enough money to purchase and cancel $5 million in debt, and the funds have continued to — well, roll in.
As of yesterday evening, Strike Debt had raised enough to abolish nearly $7 million of debt, and the Jubilee is still continuing. In this video featuring members of Strike Debt (including Linnea Palmer Paton and Amin Husain, both of whom appeared on Moyers & Company last year), the group explains their goals.
This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.