BARELY A WHIMPER, BILLION DOLLAR TERRORISM - Sorry Mr. Citizen, You're The Victim

(10/02/2003)

Opinions And Comments: Bob Weaver

Multi-billion dollar terrorism on the pocketbooks of the American people by giant American corporations continues, with barely a whimper or a news-bite.

It must feel good, or more citizens would be complaining. Maybe they don't have time, waving the flag and blaming the Republicans or the Democrats.

Whipping up rage against foreign governments and evil-doers occupies the national conscious, driven by government officials and the mass media.

Here comes our electric utilities, who once were charged to "operate in the public interest."

We have already saluted Allegheny Power Company for their misdeeds.

Now, American Electric Power is the culprit of the week, along with those dozens of other power giants who have built the "world's greatest grid system," apparently with few upgrades so stockholders and corporate executives could get a nice check.

We now know it wouldn't take much of a terrorist to knock down the system, just a rock or two.

It seems AEP, whose corporate offices are in Columbus, Ohio, manipulated natural gas prices so the company could make millions and millions of extra dollars.

A $355 million lawsuit has been filed in US District Court in Columbus this week by the US Commodities Futures Trading Commission, a federal regulatory agency.

The suits claims AEP manipulated the price and volume of gas trades.

They overstated the numbers on a computer spreadsheet in an attempt to move the market up, or sometimes understated them in an attempt to move them down.

It has been a see no evil, hear no evil response.

Company management reportedly fired five people who worked in its natural gas trading operation, claiming they were unaware of the multi-million dollar manipulation.

The power company said it did not know how many false reports had been made or when.

The commission will continue to investigate.

Also, Adelphia Communications founder John Rigas and his sons appeared briefly in court in New York yesterday, pleading innocent one more time to charges that they looted the cable company.

Aldelphia operates a small TV cable operation which serves the greater Arnoldsburg area, and whose recent upgrade was to provide hard-core porno on their system.

The Rigas bunch plunged the cable empire into bankruptcy, apparently stealing several billion dollars.

Their spree would not hold a candle to the $500 billion take by WorldCom, Enron or a dozen others, who are now barely remembered.

Also, this day in the year of corporate stealing, it was announced that the Rite Aid corporate computer may have found its resting place on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

The computer was used to allegedly generate backdated benefits letters for Rite Aid Corporation senior executives.

It was a feather your own nest deal, according to testimony yesterday in the federal fraud and conspiracy trial of former Rite Aid executive Franklin Brown.

It is, however, reassuring to hear the words of national leaders like President Bush assure us "These people will be brought to justice."


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