U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren overturned Kaua'i County's law regulating the use of pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) this week. He ruled that it was preempted by Hawai'i state law, although not by federal law.
The county law, Ordinance 960, was passed in November 2013 and would have gone into effect this month. It requires buffer zones between fields spraying pesticides on GMO crops and sensitive areas like schools and hospitals. It also requires chemical companies and large farms to disclose types and quantities of pesticides they spray as well as the location of fields growing GMO crops.
The Toronto Star has published an in-depth report detailing the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC's) "plans to undo environmental legislation," specifically how it "works with lobbyists and legislators to derail climate change policies."
The report, by the Star's environmental report Mike De Souza, refers to internal documents from ALEC's annual meeting July 30 through August 1 in Dallas that were leaked to the Center for Media and Democracy/Progressive Inc. (CMD). The documents show that, at several session of the meeting, sponsors cast doubt on the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change. At others, attendees put forward "model" bills to allow fossil fuel companies more free rein while hampering the development of alternative forms of energy. Read the rest of this item here.
"Unprecedented." That is the word used by Wisconsin Common Cause director Jay Heck as he reflects on the breaking news that Governor Scott Walker actively solicited funds for Wisconsin Club for Growth (WCFG) to be used in the 2012 Wisconsin recall elections. The group amassed some $12 million, according to court records, and used those funds in half a dozen recall races held in June of 2012.
"I can't remember another governor ever engaging in this type of behavior in the state," said Heck.
The only precedent he could recall involved Wisconsin State Senator Chuck Chvala. In 2002, Democratic Senate leader, Chvala, and Republican House leader, Scott Jensen, were both charged with multiple felony counts of illegal campaign financing and abuse of office. Read the rest of this item here.
Here at CMD and The Progressive, we have been deeply saddened by the death of journalist James Foley. We have been moved by the remembrances of colleagues and friends and struck by the incredible grace exhibited by his mother and father as they expressed pride in their son and begged for mercy for the others in captivity.
Foley exhibited the best of the journalistic tradition; a passion for his craft and a deep empathy for those suffering in war-torn regions, battered by circumstances beyond their control. In some quarters, journalism has devolved greatly from the standards Foley upheld.
Foley was a Marquette University graduate, a Catholic university here in Wisconsin, and known and loved by many in this state. Before his assassination by ISIS, he was held in Libya for 44 days in 2011 along with other journalists before being released. During his harrowing days in captivity in Libya, he was granted a moment of mercy and kindness by his captors. He was allowed to call home to speak to his mom.
Upon his release, he wrote about that moment in a letter to Marquette thanking the community for their support and prayers. We reprinted this letter with the sadness of knowing that other journalists are in harms way. Our thoughts are with them and their families in this terrible time. Marquette has set up a scholarship fund in honor of Foley, which you can access here. Read the rest of this item here.
At the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), there is an awful lot of good fortune coming our way.
First, a mysterious Middle East millionaire wanted to give us a boatload of money to produce a documentary on fracking and global warming. Our administrative staff politely dodged the calls as senior staff warned environmentalists across the country that some sort of scam was afoot.
Then our Lisa Graves was showered with compliments on our investigations into undisclosed election spending, as a team repeatedly tried to get her on film at a recent Netroots Nation conference. When she asked them for their contact information, they claimed to have no email or Twitter accounts (at Netroots? Really?). The duo followed her to a private party, and one stalked her down a hotel hallway at 2:00 in the morning, prompting another writer to intervene.
Now another deep-pocketed mystery funder wants to bankroll us to help with a film about the impact of dark money on the African American community -- a great idea, frankly, as the Koch-fueled attack on health care is resulting in governors rejecting federal funds for expanded health care coverage.
But alas, we fear that the film idea is yet another scam designed for another phony "gotcha" moment. Read the rest of this item here.
The company confirmed that "in 2014 Microsoft decided to no longer participate in the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Communications and Technology Task Force, which had been our only previous involvement with ALEC. With this decision, we no longer contribute any dues to ALEC." The confirmation was sent by email to The Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott and Coolidge and Walden Asset Management, which had engaged Microsoft over its affiliation with ALEC. Read the rest of this item here.
Charter schools are such a racket, across the nation they are attracting special attention from the FBI, which is working with the Department of Education’s inspector general to look into allegations of charter-school fraud.
Arizona has been ground zero for the American Legislative Exchange Council-backed effort to penalize homeowners who build solar panels on their homes.
Last year, the state's main electricity company, ALEC member Arizona Public Service (APS), pushed for a huge new surcharge on families and companies that switch to cheaper (and cleaner) solar energy, which would have had the effect of driving up the costs of rooftop solar and keeping more consumers dependent on the fossil fuel-powered electricity grid.
In November of 2013, the Arizona Corporation Commission -- the agency tasked with regulating utilities -- voted 3-2 against APS' effort to "tax the sun." (The next month, ALEC considered an "updating net metering policies resolution" reflecting APS' push to charge solar users, which fit squarely within ALEC's antagonism towards renewable energy). The Corporation Commission instead passed a smaller tax, allowing APS to charge homeowners around $5 per month for home solar panels rather than the $50-100 solar "deathblow" that the industry had sought.
Many suspect that APS is now secretly seeking revenge.
On August 14, 1935, The Progressive wrote about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal victory in securing real income security for Americans in the aftermath of the Great Depression caused by the Wall Street crash of 1929. As detailed in that story, the bill did not pass Congress unanimously and was attacked by the rightwing of that era.
For seven decades, Social Security has been under attack by opponents who consider government-guaranteed pensions for Americans to receive as they get older or if they become disabled to be socialism and unAmerican.
Social Security is one of the most successful and most popular government programs in American history.
Edelman, the world's largest PR company, synonymous with astroturf-style front groups and dirty tricks, has announced that it will no longer work for groups that deny climate change. The PR firm represents many of the world's most polluting companies, and numerous front groups for polluters, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It has so far refused to say whether it will be continuing to work for ALEC, despite that group’s high-profile work to block action on climate change.
Migrant mothers and their young children detained at the border are being denied an opportunity to be released on bond, because of 9/11.
Department of Justice prosectors are citing a 2003 ruling from former Attorney General John Ashcroft to deny bond to undocumented immigrant mothers and children -- many of whom have valid asylum claims -- held at a remote detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico that advocates say is ill-equipped to care for children.
In that 2003 ruling, titled "Matter of D-J," Ashcroft cited national security concerns in reversing a DOJ Board of Immigration Appeals decision granting bond to a Haitian immigrant. George W. Bush's Attorney General wrote that releasing the immigrant on bond could encourage additional migration.
In response to the increasing media interest around the business practices of America's largest employer and retailer, the Center for Media and Democracy is launching a new web resource on Walmart that fact checks the company’s advertisements and statements. Using the model of AlecExposed.org, Walmart’s profile in SourceWatch details Walmart’s employee pay and policies, its PR on veterans, its lobbying and political contributions, environmental impact and its spin on domestic sourcing. The site also includes a section analyzing the impact that the company’s business practices on shoppers.
“Walmart likes to say it is committed to supporting families, communities, and our economy, but the facts often tell a different story,” said Lisa Graves, Executive Director at the Center for Media and Democracy. “This new resource gives reporters and consumers the information they need to understand the true nature of Walmart’s business practices and the effect the company’s decisions have on U.S. manufacturing, workers, and other aspects of our economy.”
This new resource is being launched shortly before a manufacturing summit hosted by Walmart in Denver. The website includes information highlighting the company’s role in off-shoring and raises important questions about the company’s current manufacturing commitment.
Read the rest of this item here.
Visit the Walmart SourceWatch page for more!
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Excerpt from a longer SourceWatch article on Americans for Prosperity:
Americans for Prosperity is a right-wing political advocacy group founded by billionaire brothers David and CharlesKoch, the owners of Koch Industries. In the 2012 election cycle, it was a key component of the Kochs' $400 million political network, receiving large portions of its money from Koch-linked dark money groups like Freedom Partners, American Encore, and Donors Trust. AFP's budget, which comes from the Koch family foundations and other unknown sources, surged from $7 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2010 to $115 million in 2012.  According to the Center for Public Integrity, Americans for Prosperity "spent a staggering $122 million (in 2012) as it unsuccessfully attempted to defeat President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats," including $83 million on "communications, ads, and media."
AFP's messages are in sync with those of other groups funded by the Kochs and the Kochs' other special interest groups that work against progressive or Democratic initiatives and protections for workers and the environment. Accordingly, AFP opposes labor unions, health care reform, stimulus spending, and cap-and-trade legislation, which is aimed at making industries pay for the air pollution that they create.
According to their 2012 IRS 990 tax filing, Americans for Prosperity received $115 million in contributions and spent $122 million. It reported spending $33.5 million on political activities to the IRS and reported spending $36.4 million on campaign activities to the Federal Election Commission. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington explained the disparity in that "AFP left off its tax return spending on electioneering communications as well as any political spending it did in state elections."  CREW also noted that 78% of AFP's donations were in amounts of $1 million or more, with the three largest donations being $26 million, $21 million, and $11.5 million. Donations from Koch-funded Freedom Partners accounted for "at least 28 percent of AFP’s money in 2012."
The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of the award-winning ALECexposed.org, launched OutsourcingAmericaExposed.org, a web resource devoted to helping taxpayers identify the corporations seeking to privatize public assets and services in their communities: including their schools, roads, prisons, drinking water, court systems, and more.
CMD has unveiled corporate profiles of America’s most notorious corporations that are quietly working with state and local lawmakers to take over public services with little accountability, along with in-depth examinations of the CEOs personally profiting from this corporate coup.
"Sinquefield is one of the top right-wing political funders in the country, and the single top political spender in Missouri, where he has spent at least $31.5 million since 2006 seeking to reshape Missouri laws, legislators, and policies according to his own ideological mold," said co-author Brendan Fischer of the Center for Media and Democracy/The Progressive.
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"A truly impressive project based on cutting edge web technology."
—David Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World and The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community.
"The troublemakers at the Center for Media and Democracy, for example, point to dozens of examples of "greenwashing," which they defined as the "unjustified appropriation of environmental virtue by a company, an industry, a government or even a non-government organization to sell a product, a policy" or rehabilitate an image. In the center's view, many enterprises labeled green don't deserve the name.
—Jack Shafer, "Green Is the New Yellow: On the excesses of 'green' journalism," Slate.
"As a journalist frequently on the receiving end of various PR campaigns, some of them based on disinformation, others front groups for undisclosed interests, [CMD's SourceWatch] is an invaluable resource."
—Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire
"Thanks for all your help. There's no way I could have done my piece on big PR and global warming without CMD [the Center for Media and Democracy] and your fabulous websites."
—Zoe Cormier, journalist, Canada
"The dearth of information on the [U.S.] government [lobbying] disclosure forms about the other business-backed coalitions comes in stark contrast to the data about them culled from media reports, websites, press releases and Internal Revenue Service documents and posted by SourceWatch, a website that tracks advocacy groups."
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