Republican Party

Greedy Lying Bastards

Greedy Lying Bastards

Documentary Hits Fossil Fuel Industry-Funded Climate Change Deniers

Greedy Lying Bastards

Greedy Lying Bastards is as timely a movie as you will ever see. The global warming documentary — directed, produced and narrated by Craig Rosebraugh — pulls no punches in a damning indictment of the fossil fuel industry-funded climate change deniers who have successfully deceived the public and prevented climate change action in Congress at a time when Americans are feeling the damaging effects of a changing climate — from Hurricane Sandy to western wildfires to devastating droughts.

A look at recent headlines proves why this film is so important:

– The Environmental Protection Agency proposed new clean fuel regulations that would require refineries to make gasoline with less sulfur to reduce polluting tailpipe emissions. The EPA’s move to toughen fuel standards predictably drew attacks from Big Oil’s lobbying arm, the American Petroleum Institute, and Republicans such as Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who in 2011 received large campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, including a PAC representing ExxonMobil.

– Tea Party senator and climate change denier Ted Cruz (R-TX) removed a mention of climate change from a routine resolution commemorating International Women’s Day. Cruz cut the part that said women “are disproportionately affected by changes in climate because of their need to secure water, food and fuel for their livelihood.”

– And perhaps the most infamous climate change denier in Congress, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), recently said he was proud to be targeted by Greedy Lying Bastards. Inhofe, who has repeatedly called global warming a hoax, said, “I was not surprised to see myself front and center on the promotional material for this climate change movie, and quite frankly, I’m proud of it.”

The film exposes the front groups the fossil fuel industry uses to attack the 97 percent of climate scientists who agree that man-made greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change, making the comparison to the tactics used by the tobacco industry to attack the scientific findings linking smoking to cancer.

ExxonMobil and Koch Industries are exposed in the film as the two worst culprits in funding misinformation campaigns to delay action on climate change and confuse the public.

Rosebraugh made the film because he is “concerned about the future of the planet and our ability to exist on it. I wanted to undertake a project that would uncover the hidden agenda of the oil industry and provide answers as to why as a nation we fail to implement clean energy policies and take effective action on important problems such as climate change.”

Click here to watch the trailer.
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This article is written by Josh Mark and is published at http://www.nationalmemo.com/documentary-hits-fossil-fuel-industry-funded-climate-change-deniers/

the national memo

The ‘Monsanto Protection Act’

The ‘Monsanto Protection Act’

5 Terrifying Things To Know About The HR 933 Provision

The “Monsanto Protection Act” is the name opponents of the Farmer Assurance Provision have given to this terrifying piece of policy, and it’s a fitting moniker given its shocking content.

sprouting Monsanto seeds
REUTERS
A maize seedling is seen in the corn greenhouse at the Monsanto Research facility in Chesterfield, Missouri October 9, 2009.

President Barack Obama signed a spending billHR 933, into law on Tuesday that includes language that has food and consumer advocates and organic farmers up in arms over their contention that the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act” is a giveaway to corporations that was passed under the cover of darkness.

There’s a lot being said about it, but here are five terrifying facts about the Farmer Assurance Provision — Section 735 of the spending bill — to get you acquainted with the reasons behind the ongoing uproar:

1.) The “Monsanto Protection Act” effectively bars federal courts from being things to know about the MOnsanto Protection Actable to halt the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified (aka GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future. The advent of genetically modified seeds — which has been driven by the massive Monsanto Company — and their exploding use in farms across America came on fast and has proved a huge boon for Monsanto’s profits.

But many anti-GMO folks argue there have not been enough studies into the potential health risks of this new class of crop. Well, now it appears that even if those studies are completed and they end up revealing severe adverse health effects related to the consumption of genetically modified foods, the courts will have no ability to stop the spread of the seeds and the crops they bear.

2.) The provision’s language was apparently written in collusion with Monsanto. Lawmakers and companies working together to craft legislation is by no means a rare occurrence in this day and age. But the fact that Sen. Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, actually worked with Monsanto on a provision that in effect allows them to keep selling seeds, which can then go on to be planted, even if it is found to be harmful to consumers, is stunning. It’s just another example of corporations bending Congress to their will, and it’s one that could have dire risks for public health in America.

3.) Many members of Congress were apparently unaware that the “Monsanto Protection Act” even existed within the bill they were voting on. HR 933 was a spending bill aimed at averting a government shutdown and ensuring that the federal government would continue to be able to pay its bills. But the Center for Food Safety maintains that many Democrats in Congress were not even aware that the provision was in the legislation:

“In this hidden backroom deal, Sen. [Barbara] Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement. “This abuse of power is not the kind of leadership the public has come to expect from Sen. Mikulski or the Democrat Majority in the Senate.”

4.) The President did nothing to stop it, either. On Tuesday, Obama signed HR 933 while the rest of the nation was fixated on gay marriage, as the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument concerning California’s Proposition 8. But just because most of the nation and the media were paying attention to gay marriage doesn’t mean that others were not doing their best to express their opposition to the “Monsanto Protection Act.” In fact, more than 250,000 voters signed a petition opposing the provision. And Food Democracy Now protesters even took their fight straight to Obama, protesting in front of the White House against Section 735 of the bill. He signed it anyway.

5.) It sets a terrible precedent. Though it will only remain in effect for six months until the government finds another way to fund its operations, the message it sends is that corporations can get around consumer safety protections if they get Congress on their side. Furthermore, it sets a precedent that suggests that court challenges are a privilege, not a right.

“I think any time you tweak with the ability of the public to seek redress from the courts, you create a huge risk,” Seattle attorney Bill Marler — who has represented victims of foodborne illness in successful lawsuits against corporations — told the New York Daily News.

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This article is written by and was originally posted at http://www.ibtimes.com/monsanto-protection-act-5-terrifying-things-know-about-hr-933-provision-1156079
International Business Times

ALEC: Exposing animal abuse is not a crime!

ALEC: Exposing animal abuse is not a crime!

pigs waiting for slaughterUndercover investigations have exposed patterns of horrific animal welfare abuses on factory farms and slaughterhouses, and led to criminal convictions and public health investigations. Rather than addressing these problems, a powerful organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) wants to criminalize anyone who brings animal abuse to light.

(Editor’s note:  compliance with the law requiring the documentation of animal abuse puts one in direct violation of the ALEC-written AETA law, which was passed by voice vote by 6–count’em 6–members of the House of Representatives.  You can read about it at http://www.noaeta.org/report.htm or watch it unfold on C-SPAN at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/event/150289#program195350-1)

I have documented this extensively in my many years of journalism about the repression of animal and environmental advocates. You can read more about ALEC at GreenIsTheNewRed.com. ALEC wants to make it a crime to document patterns of animal abuse. It thinks the solution is to have zero checks and balances on this huge industry, and leave it up to factory farms and slaughterhouses to regulate themselves. 

In the past, whistleblowers (not farm owners or inspectors) have documented baby chicks being ground up alive, workers urinating near a live hanging area, and turkeys and pigs being sexually abused. Investigators caught a major school lunch meat supplier abusing cows who were too sick to even walk; this lead to the largest meat recall in US history. The Big Ag industry desperately want to put a stop to these investigations for one reason: money.

This bring us to “ag-gag” bills which target whistleblowers, undercover investigators, and journalists. They have been introduced in 9 states this year, and last year they became law in 3 states. Some go so far as to criminalize anyone who “possesses” or “distributes” photographs and YouTube videos. As NPR reported, this isn’t just about animal activists: these bills put journalists at risk.

Who is behind this? Big Ag corporations, working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC has a model bill that labels whistleblowers, investigators, and those who share the footage as “terrorists.” You may be familiar with ALEC because this is the same force behind many efforts to weaken environmental protections and silence free speech online. If you care about safe food, environmental and animal protection, transparency, workers’ rights, or citizen-powered action, we need your voice!

Corporations want to use ALEC and “ag-gag” bills to keep the public in the dark. But consumers have a right to make safe, healthy, and humane decisions about what they buy.

Please sign to tell ALEC to back off and stop criminalizing those who are trying to stop animal cruelty.  You can click here to read and sign the petition written by Will Potter

This petition will be delivered to:

ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council)
Executive Director
Ron Scheberle

Legislative Analyst, Energy, Environment and Agriculture and Civil Justice Task Forces
John Eick

Senior Director, Communications and Public Affairs
Bill Meierling
Thank you very much for taking the time to review and sign this important petition from Change.orgchange.org

 

FL Pension Changes Rooted in ALEC Model Legislation

FL Pension Changes Rooted in ALEC Model Legislation

Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford

Overhauling the state pension system is a priority for Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-ALEC. (Photo courtesy of the Florida Legislature.)
A new plan that would overhaul the state’s pension system can be traced back to the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, The Palm Beach Post reported this week.

State lawmakers are changing the current state pension plan by eliminating it for any new hires. Instead, new state employees would choose from private plans, which are already offered to state workers.

Hundreds of thousands of teachers, police officers and firefighters currently use the state retirement program. However, plans to change the system have been made a top priority by legislative leaders including Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-ALEC (Wesley Chapel). The plan has moved through the GOP-led state House quickly, but members still need to broker a deal to get the more politically moderate Florida Senate on board.

The Post reported this week that the plans also come from an interesting place.

According to the Post:

Critics trace the campaign back two years — to New Orleans, where dozens of Florida lawmakers gathered for a conference hosted by a controversial advocacy group that helps corporations and conservative interest groups write bills for legislatures across the country.

Jonathan Williams, a policy director for the American Legislative Exchange Council, told The Palm Beach Post that the organization’s three days of meetings in August 2011 helped affirm the need among many legislators to take a hard look at public employee benefits.

“The momentum for pension reform is stronger today because many governments are still seeing the effects of the recession on investment returns,” Williams said. “It’s going to be a long time before things improve. Florida legislators are aware of this.”

Following contentious debate, pitting union-allied Democrats against ruling Republicans, the House last week approved legislation (CS/HB 7011) that would close the Florida Retirement System’s traditional pension to new employees.

Workers hired after Jan. 1 could join only 401(k)-styled investment plans, which opponents say would leave the retirement funds of lower-income public workers subject to wild swings of the stock market.

ALEC is a mostly corporate?funded group that pushes corporate-friendly laws. ALEC has been behind a slew of anti-worker, anti-environmental and anti-regulation bills in the past few years. The group was also behind many of the more restrictive voting laws that caused problem in several states in the last election.

According to a 2012 report by Progress Florida, about a dozen bills have been introduced in the Florida Legislature that have based on ALEC’s model legislation. Some, such as Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law, are on the books right now. Most Republicans in the state legislature are also dues-paying ALEC members.

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This article is written by Ashley Lopez and is published at http://fcir.org/2013/03/27/florida-pension-changes-rooted-in-alec-model-legislation/

Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

 

Keystone XL Pipeline Reeks of Koch

Keystone XL Pipeline Reeks of Koch

For the public, the entire Keystone XL (KXL) streamliner is washing down easier with a confidential Big Gulp of Koch.

“The too-billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, usually get what they want, but never what they deserve.” — Gaea

People who breathe the atmosphere, drink water, eat food, are hostages of an increasingly haywire, engineered climate…that’s us, and at the swipe of Obama’s pen, we have a fresh Kochmare coming on-line.

Misinformation, disinformation, emotional manipulation and Kochspeak are railroading us toward the most dangerous diluted bitumen (DilBit) pipeline ever to sell out vital American resources to benefit so few—not to mention the global atmospheric carbon bomb.

How do we stand to gain from KXL?

The greatest known “public benefit” from KXL will be higher gasoline prices. [1]

KXL’s sheer potential for destruction winds along a bleak and tarry road to deliver hell for the unborn, at a “profit”. From melting bitumen out of the ground using vast amounts of natural gas and fresh water…to dilution with natural gas liquids so the DilBit can be squeezed through a pipeline impaling our heartlands…to filthiest of refining leading to a guaranteed crescendo of environmental disaster. At least in scope, it’s all similar to the sheer profit potential for psychopaths with pockets deep enough for politicos to dive in from the high board and wallow around under the thumb of Koch.

Our system of resource allocation is fatally broken (Kochen). Instead of capitol investment in energy with a future, billions are sucked into the deadest of ends—the blackest of fossil-energy black holes…bitumen. [2]

The dominating Koch agenda seems a ruthless assurance that every child not born into wealth like David and Charles has a nightmare future—if they have a future at all. Could there be a more disgusting example of hubris than Kochs cloaking one of their political-subversion fronts as: “Coalition for our Children’s Future”?

Regarding various breeds of euphemism…Kochism virtually defines “sinister”.

Kochspeak In Action

Whenever corporate profit most degrades the biosphere, Koch-brother tentacles are usually winding around nearby—professionally-cloaked, but there’s the smell.

That smell…biocidal mélange of gas, oil, bitumen, diluted bitumen, refining and shipping, industrial chemicals, paper and pulp mills, chemical fertilizer, corporate “Free $peach!” and politicos up to their hairlines in campaign contributions…. Incredible stench, victim discretion beyond advisories.

Spearheading recent Koch-and-dagger denial is the pronouncement that Keystone XL “oil sands” pipeline has “…nothing to do with any of our businesses”. For people paying attention, that might seem much like Santa Claus announcing that Christmas has nothing to do with any of his businesses.

Rep. Henry Waxman of California is the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee.  Declarations by Koch Industries officials, to the tune of KXL has “…nothing to do with any of our businesses”—a song and dance sharpening Waxman’s focus on the guarded KXL Koch connection.

(Editor’s note:  you can watch this confrontation a recorded from C-SPAN2 by clicking here and you really should witness this as a written description does not do this justice.   It is at the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee Meeting 2.1.12.  Members making opening statements on the Obama administration’s decision to deny permission to deny permission to continue with plans to build the Keystone XL Pipeline.  A very partisan committee hearing—apples talking at oranges and vice versa.

Upton comments about Canada building a pipeline toward shipping to China.  But Koch has a refinery in MN that could be refurbished just as they have to refurbish a refinery in Corpus Christi.  So why is the pipeline even necessary?  Because from Corpus Cristi the oil can be loaded into supertankers for shipping the tar sands oil overseas.

Waxman-Whitfield confrontation at Senate Hearing
The Henry Waxman vs. Ed Whitfield battle begins in earnest 17:22 into the C-SPAN2 video, when Waxman starts quoting facts.  You have to watch this to believe it.  This is our government, and that’s very distrubing.)

Waxman sent a letter to Reps. Fred Upton (R-Michigan, Energy and Commerce committee chairman) and Ed Whitfield (R-Kentucky, Energy and Power subcommittee chairman), urging them to seek Koch Industries documents that Waxman’s staff had been denied.

Upton and Whitfield were dancing to the Koch campaign-contribution rag, busy ramming a bill through congress to force an Obama administration decision on KXL by November 1, 2011. The bill passed in the House, but passed away in the Senate.

Stomping on the face of public interest…for such Orwellian aggression, the language of Kochspeak is money, and political intrigue. The 2010 landmark ruling by Supreme Court of the United States in Citizens United -vs- Federal Election Commission [3] maximized the volume of Kochspeak.

According to the L.A. Times, the largest single donor to members of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the 2010 money miasma called “election” was Koch Industries and their employees. $20,000 of that went to Fred Upton, reliable Koch asset also spearheading efforts to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new rules regarding greenhouse gas emissions.

Koch Industries’ response to Rep. Waxman’s interference included:

“As we explained to Representative Waxman’s staff, we have no financial interest in the project (KXL). Given these facts, we are confused about why Koch is being singled out and inserted into these discussions.”

An L.A. Times op-ed by Michael Brume, executive director of the Sierra Club, describes KXL as being backed by the Koch brothers. Koch officials demanded a “correction”, insisting to L.A. Times editors that: “Koch is not involved in the Keystone Pipeline project in any way as we have stated publicly and has been widely acknowledged. This is not a matter of opinion since there are no facts to the contrary.”

(editor’s note:  I thought I would add this screen shot from Koch Industries’ Discovery Magazine, an in-house production.  Just seemed so appropriate.)

Koch Industries - Discovery Mag - Flint Hills Resources

The shibboleth, “…we have no financial stake in the pipeline” is clearly revealed as classic Kochspeak by a form submitted to Canada’s National Energy Board in 2009 by Koch’s Flint Hills Resources Canada. (Flint Hills) “…is among Canada’s largest crude oil purchasers, shippers and exporters. Consequently, Flint Hills has a direct and substantial interest in the application” (for the pipeline under consideration). That pipeline, approved in 2010, is Canada’s 327-mile portion of KXL.

Responding to a Reuters article titled: Koch Subsidiary Told Regulators It Has ‘Direct and Substantial Interest’ in Keystone XL…Koch representatives assured Reuters that Koch has no interest in Keystone XL—even whined about media bias; meanwhile, Koch Industries was spending millions upgrading its Corpus Christi refinery to handle more DilBit….

Realistically, if the Kochs were “…not involved in the Keystone Pipeline project in any way”, why all the denial?  Considering Koch style, denial seems solid admission that Kochs are positioned to make a killing from KXL, after getting a toehold in Canadian bitumen fifty years ago.

Koch Style

Investigator and author extraordinaire Greg Palast relates this precious episode of Koch style from over twenty years ago:

Charles Koch had a contract to glean oil from the Osage Indian Reservation with a “stripper well”. Secret tape recordings of a Koch Industries top executive document Charles demanding drivers of oil tankers to secretly siphon a few dollars worth of oil from every private tank on the Osage Reservation fed by stripper well. The FBI filmed oil thefts with hidden cameras, recorded Koch’s childish giggling over ripping off Native Americans. Koch even snickered about the question of why a multi-billionaire would steal petty amounts of oil from destitute Osage…and in purest Koch style, replied:

“I want my fair share—and that’s all of it.”

The Justice Department, armed with exhaustive evidence, indicted Koch Industries for “Crime on an Indian Reservation”, and racketeering; major prison-time criminality.

Charles Koch simply stroked a couple of senators in his pockets (Bob Dole of Kansas, Republican majority leader; Oklahoma’s Don Nickles)…and the federal prosecutor handling the case was fired. Case closed (giggle).

Koch Style runs in the family. It was Bill Koch, younger brother of Charles and David, that ratted on his brothers…leading to an open-and-shut case for anyone not above the law.

Bill had been promised a cut of what, in addition to petty theft from personal tanks on the Osage Reservation, turned out to be hundreds of millions in oil stolen from Native lands. But brothers Charles and David reneged on the deal, cut Bill out of profits that hardly register in Koch-level crime. So Bill squealed.

Actual steel pipe in KXL is probably free of Koch-Industries fingerprints; refining, shipping and export is where Kochs have set themselves up for KXL windfall.

Kochs already import and refine 25% of Alberta Death Ooze (ADO) pumped into the US. KXL will increase import by over 500,000 barrels per day. Once again, Kochs’ “…we have no financial interest in the project” seems like Kochspin admission of deep involvement with KXL.

Since Koch Industries Inc. (Mother Hydra to a snarl of subsidiary tentacles) is mostly owned by Charles and David Koch, their operations are mostly private (the second-largest privately-held U.S. corporation is Koch Industries). Kochs parlay secrecy with the flair of billionaires who pilfer from impoverished Native Americans…billionaires who consider their fair share to be, “…all of it.”

One thing not secret: Koch Brothers are President Obama’s bitterest political enemies. Often considered architects of the dirty-energy paradigm, Kochs are enemies of anything to do with clean energy. After all, in Kochworld, clean energy is simply potential for filthy lucre, denied. Fossil energy offers nothing filthier than bitumen, the proverbial “bottom of the barrel”.

The entire energy-from-bitumen industry has very effectively perception-managed the public into shrugging off bitumen as “crude oil”. Inculcation of DilBit being “oil” is relentless. Mainstream media (MSM) has been issued progressive, evolving euphemisms to disguise even the massive Alberta bitumen deposits as “oil”. Success at public conditioning was reflected last week in an Associated Press article titled:

Obama disputes jobs on Keystone XL line

Counting the worm-term “Keystone XL oil pipeline” from the first sentence, the word “oil” is used five times. Not a peep about tar, bitumen, DilBit. The article also quotes a draft environmental report released by the State Department this March:

“…no significant environmental impact to most resources along the proposed pipeline route.”

That’s right, they said “most”. Sinister omen, anyone?

Definition from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition:

Bitumen 1: an asphalt of Asia Minor used in ancient times as a cement and mortar 2: any of various mixtures of hydrocarbons (as tar) often together with their nonmetallic derivatives that are obtained as residues after heat-refining natural substances (as petroleum); specif: such a mixture soluble in carbon disulfide

Among bitumen euphemisms foisted upon the public by MSM, there’s been a whiff of truth; “Alberta tar sands”, or simply, “tar sands” for instance. But Koch-furthering of ADO has tarred and feathered truth.

Diluted Bitumen (DilBit) is NOT Oil Ask the IRS—lone public entity to which bitumen pushers don’t try to pawn off DilBit as oil.

The oil industry pays an eight-cents-per-barrel tax on crude oil produced in or imported to the US; proceeds are earmarked for the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund that covers cleanup costs for oil spills.

In 2011, at the request of a company whose identity is kept secret (smell that smell?), an exemption was made that frees DilBit from this tax—an exemption potentially worth over $60 million annually when KXL is on-line. The secret company insisted that “oil” from Canada’s tar sands is so different (chemistry, behavior, how it’s produced) that it should not be considered crude oil.

Deception and KXL go together like rum and Koch.

Texas is where KXL DilBit will be refined for the global market. Texas, and federal statutory codes, define crude oil as “liquid hydrocarbons extracted from the Earth at atmospheric temperatures”. That certainly excludes bitumen.

As if raw bitumen (almost a solid) isn’t bad enough, the stuff must be diluted with up to 50% natural gas condensates (proprietary liquids called diluents) into an abrasive, sulfurous brew that abrades and rots steel pipeline. DilBit. And no matter where you look, DilBit only gets worse. The biocidal brew must be heated to 160-degrees Fahrenheit to reduce viscosity enough that it can be squeezed through pipeline at 1,440 pounds per square inch (PSI). So, DilBit pipelines don’t leak, they erupt!

The most expensive “oil spill” in US history which, according to EPA, “…permanently polluted thirty miles of Michigan’s Kalamazoo River”—that was “The Marshall Spill” [4], a certain sneak preview what might ultimately finish off DilBit pipelines.

The Bitter End Light sweet crude oil is the cream of petroleum. Globally, the cream has been largely skimmed off, leading to higher profits from lower grades (light sour, heavy sweet, heavy sour)…until bitumen itself has become marginally profitable. Lowest sulfur content is “sweet”, higher sulfur is “sour”, with bitumen being the sourest of all, as well as heaviest. And the term, “profitable” has many dynamics, many interpretations, many costs deferred….

A scale to measure profit in exploitation of petroleum resources is Energy Returned On Investment (EROI); how much energy is gained for how much energy invested. Crude oil has a high EROI, averaging out to about 25:1 (25 units of energy gained from 1 unit of energy invested).

Bitumen pushers shill about ADO having an EROI as high as 5:1 when surface mined. ADO from deeper, mined by steam injection, averages less than 3:1, they say. But when transportation, refining, and other economic costs are factored in, ADO might barely make an EROI of 1:1…not counting “unforeseen” disasters such as the Marshall Spill, or anything else non-economic.

Besides ADO having a zombie EROI…there’s the carbon problem. Climatologists talk about “…game over for the climate” if the Alberta ‘tar sands’ are fully exploited.

EPA estimates that ADO has a “well-to-tank” carbon footprint 82% greater than oil. Canadian bitumen deposits could contain twice as much carbon dioxide as we’ve unleashed so far upon the biosphere in our entire history of using oil.

ADO for energy seems about the worst idea ever to divert billions of dollars from investment in new energies—if not one of the worst ideas in the history of…civilization. When it comes to fossil energy, could there be a bitterer end than bitumen?

In a shocking moment of candor, TransCanada even said of their own baby, (Keystone XL pipeline) would be “…a boon for corporate profits, but a burden for American consumers.” [5]

President Obama has a monster tar baby on his hands. Sure seems like, potentially at least, it would be difficult to convince people that a DilBit pipeline through the heart of their nation is in the public’s best interests. Environmental catastrophe risked for largely foreign corporate profits from a product destined for the global market and expected to increase domestic gasoline prices, tough sell. Illusions of public benefits such as jobs are mostly that, illusions.

And if Obama permits KXL he will handing his bitterest political enemies a tremendous victory. Kochs have declared war on Obama, like to call him Saddam Hussein. [6]

Among the best things Obama might ever say about America—especially describing our energy future:

“Without further ADO.”

Problem is, whether on not the 1,375-mile US leg of KXL will go on-line no longer appears to be question of “if”…only, “when”. Kochs usually get what they want. That means our last line of defense against threats of Canadian bitumen could be the inevitable disaster of DilBit itself.

The main question could involve how much environmental damage, how many lives lost or ruined, and how much stealing from the future will we roll over for? How much kicking in the face will we endure before fighting to make more humane the answer to the question: Is corporate profit more important than Life on Earth?

Power never concedes anything without a fight. Will we ever muster the focus and courage to take the fight directly to such as too-billionaire psychopaths for which their fair share equals, “…all of it”—and that includes the future of life on Earth?

For more information regarding Dilbit, ADO, and illusions of KXL public “benefits”, please see:  Keystone XL: DilBit Through the Heartland by clicking here.

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Footnotes:

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/22/report-keystone-xl-gas-prices_n_1536227.html

[2] https://www.google.com/search?q=alberta+tar+sands+raw+bitumen&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=rII&tbo=d&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=qsbjUJH0KMeeiAKfvoHADw&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAA&biw=734&bih=457

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._Federal_Election_Commission

[4] http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20120626/dilbit-diluted-bitumen-enbridge-kalamazoo-river-marshall-michigan-oil-spill-6b-pipeline-epa

[5] http://sierraclub.typepad.com/compass/2012/09/transcanada-keystone-toxic-tarsands-flip-flops.html

[6] https://www.google.com/search?q=kochs%27+war+on+obama&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=2f9&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&q=koch%27s%27+war+on+obama&spell=1&sa=X&psj=1&ei=WbpMUbqBB-HniAKw5oCoDg&ved=0CDAQBSgA&fp=1&biw=734&bih=468&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&cad=b&sei=bDxOUaqNM4LQiwLuo4CgCA
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This article is written by Rand  Clifford and is posted at
http://www.veteranstoday.com/2013/03/23/keystone-xl-pipeline-reeks-of-koch/
veteranstoday

 

 

ALEC/Koch Cabal Attack on Clean Energy Begins in NC

Duke Energy & Koch Brothers kill clean energy in North Carolina

by Connor Gibson

As anticipated, former Duke Energy engineer and North Carolina Representative Mike Hager has introduced a version of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s “Electricity Freedom Act” into the state’s General Assembly.

House Bill 298 would fully repeal North Carolina’s renewable portfolio NC-Rep-Mike-Hager-214x300standard (RPS)–a state law requiring utilities to generate more electricity from clean sources over time. The existing RPS law is credited for contributing to the rapid growth of the clean energy sector in North Carolina.

By introducing a bill to fully repeal North Carolina’s RPS law, Rep. Hager is backtracking on his own promise not to eliminate current renewable energy targets for NC’s dominant utility, Duke Energy. From the Charlotte Business Journal last December:

Hager says he does not support eliminating the renewable requirements. N.C. utilities already have committed to long-term contracts to meet the current level of renewable-energy requirements. So changing the rules could cause problems for the utilities, he notes. That is why he generally favors capping renewables at the current level.

But Rep. Hager abandoned this position, instead marching in lockstep with the American Legislative Exchange Council’s full repeal initiative.

At least seven of the bill’s sponsors are known affiliates of ALEC, including three of the four primary sponsors–Rep’s Mike Hager, Marilyn Avila, George Cleveland, Rayne Brown, Justin Burr, Sarah Stevens, and Mike Stone.

ALEC has many other members in the NC legislature, including House Speaker Thom Tillis, who just joined ALEC’s national Board of Directors.

ALEC’s Electricity Freedom Act, the model bill reflected in Rep. MALEC-Heartlandike Hager’s H298, was born from its Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force and was written by the Heartland Institute, a member of the task force. Other members of ALEC anti-environmental task force include Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy and Duke Energy.

Despite heavy public pressure to disassociate from ALEC’s attacks on clean energy, climate policy and other controversial subjects like voter suppression, Duke Energy remains a paying member of ALEC. Duke helped finance ALEC’s conference in Charlotte last spring, where the Electricity Freedom Act was first drafted:

Duke pays heavily for ALEC’s operations–they have spent $116,000 on ALEC meetings since 2009, including $50,000 for ALEC’s May 2012 meeting in Charlotte, NC where Duke is headquartered (Charlotte Business Journal). This well exceeds the top annual ALEC membership fee of $25,000.

As I wrote in January, Duke Energy (recently merged with Progress Energy) is now backtracking on their support for North Carolina’s clean energy standard:

This is where ALEC makes things awkward for Duke Energy: the law that Rep. Mike Hager is targeting (2007 SB3) was created with input from Duke Energy, and Duke explicitly opposes ALEC’s “Electricity Freedom Act,” the model law to repeal state Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (REPS). Duke Energy re-asserted its support for North Carolina’s REPS law to the Charlotte Business Journal last April and Progress Energy publicly supported the law before merging with Duke.

Less than a year ago Duke Energy was explicitly opposed to an ALEC RPS repeal in North Carolina. Now Duke’s NC president says they are “open to conversations” on changes to the RPS.

Duke Energy helped pass the RPS laws in North Carolina and Ohio, another state where ALEC legislators are introducing versions of the Electricity Freedom Act.

Through ALEC, Duke Can Kill Clean Energy Requirements and Get its Money back from Ratepayers:

Surviving text to the RPS law gutted by Rep. Hager’s H298 includes provisions allowing Duke Energy to charge its ratepayers to recover compliance costs from the clean energy requirements. For that text: see § 62-133.8. (H) (4) “Cost Recovery and Customer Charges”

This provision reflects a late change ALEC made to it’s model RPS repeal bill, perhaps at the request of ALEC member utilities like Duke Energy. Text added to the Electricity Freedom Act allows utilities to recover compliance costs from RPS laws after they are repealed. Compare last year’s draft version of the Electricity Freedom Act with the final version from October 2012–you’ll notice the key additions, particularly this clause:

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Act also recognizes the prudency and reasonableness of many of the renewable contracts and investments and allows for recovery of costs where appropriate;

Not the first time ALEC legislators have attacked NC clean energy:

Sue Sturgis at the Institute for Southern Studies notes that Rep. Hager’s bill isn’t the first legislative attempt to kill North Carolina’s renewable portfolio standard. One of the co-sponsors of Hager’s bill already tried to repeal the RPS law in 2011:

Last year, Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow) — among the state lawmakers with ALEC ties – sponsored a bill to overturn North Carolina’s renewable energy law. It gained no co-sponsors and went nowhere, but the outcome could be different now that ALEC is getting more actively involved in the issue.

Legislators who have taken aim at clean energy incentives have been egged on by corporate interest groups, often with money trails leading back to the Koch brothers, Art Pope, and other wealthy elites. Sue Sturgis detailed how ALEC and other State Policy Network groups were gearing up to repeal the RPS before Mike Hager introduced his bill yesterday:

Last year, representatives of the groups gave presentations around the state that were critical of the state’s renewable energy standard. Among the presenters was Daren Bakst, director of legal and regulatory studies for the John Locke Foundation and a member of ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force, which crafted the model law overturning state renewable energy standards.

Joining Bakst were representatives of the American Tradition Institute (ATI), a fossil-fuel industry-funded think tank that was behind a controversial freedom of information lawsuit against the University of Virginia that sought to discredit a prominent climate scientist. ATI has also targeted state renewable energy programs.

Several years ago, the John Locke Foundation teamed up with the Beacon Hill Institute, a conservative research organization that has received support from the Koch family foundations, to release a report claiming North Carolina’s renewable energy law was having a negative economic impact.

One of the first groups we can expect to see chime in will be the Beacon Hill Institute. ALEC and other State Policy Network members have used Beacon Hill’s fundamentally flawed reports as the justification for repealing state RPS repeals in NC, KS, OH and other states. See these sources for a debunk of the Beacon Hill papers:

Beacon Hill will not be alone. We can expect continued support for the clean energy attack from Art Pope’s front groups like the John Locke Foundation and the Civitas Institute and other State Policy Network affiliates funded by Pope, the Koch brothers, and Donors Trust.

This is exactly what is happening with the Kansas clean energy standard: representatives of several State Policy Network groups including the Beacon Hill Institute, the Heartland Institute, the American Tradition Institute’s Chris Horner swarmed into Kansas to support the RPS repeal.

As the debate around Mike Hager’s bill unfolds, we’ll see who the Kochs send in to support his effort.
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This article is written by Connor Gibson and is posted at http://greenpeaceblogs.org/2013/03/14/alec-bill-to-kill-nc-clean-energy-law-surfaces-koch-fronts-and-duke-energy-behind-the-curtains/
Greenpeace

Like a bad rash, Voter ID bill returns to NC

voter suppressionIt’s ba-aack. The Voter ID bill is on the GOP agenda again.

Last night the Republican leadership held a public hearing on proposed Voter ID legislation. (It happened after press time; check our Triangulator blog for a roundup.)

The bill, which almost 75 percent of North Carolinians support, according to a recent Elon University poll, is being framed as a way to address the issue of voter fraud. Except there have been no notable instances of voter fraud. And there’s another reason former Gov. Bev Perdue put the kibosh on Voter ID when the measure landed on her desk in 2011: “This bill, as written, will unnecessarily and unfairly disenfranchise many eligible and legitimate voters,” she stated at the time.

It’s difficult to know what identification will suffice at the polls if Voter ID becomes law, but it’s likely that a driver’s license or a state-issued identification card will be required.

Opponents of the legislation point out that a significant number of North Carolina voters don’t have photo ID and may find obtaining one to be time-consuming and expensive. Numbers from the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles and State Board of Elections, compiled by watchdog group Democracy North Carolina, show that 506,000 active registered voters in the state don’t have photo ID: 31 percent are African-American, 66 percent are women, 26 percent are seniors and 53 percent are Democrats, compared to 23 percent who are Republican.

The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has beenThom Tillis ALEC legislator of the year behind the design of these bills nationwide. (House Speaker Thom Tillis is an ALEC member, and won a State Legislator of the Year award in 2011.) According to data from New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice, at least 34 states have introduced photo ID legislation since 2011, and in eight states, new photo ID bills have become law.

Though Tillis pledged that the bill “will include provisions that make IDs readily available at no cost to residents,” Democracy NC Executive Director Bob Hall says that making IDs free could cost the state millions of dollars and is an democracy ncunlikely scenario.

“There [would be] people having to go get a driver’s license,” says Hall, “and then it turns out they have to go get a birth certificate. Then the birth certificate has their maiden name on it, so then they have to get a marriage license to show that their name has changed. The whole thing starts to add up to a lot of money and it really does amount to a poll tax.”

There’s also the question of the bill’s necessity. According to Veronica Degraffenreid of the state Board of Elections: “There’s no evidence to substantiate any type of widespread or systematic voter fraud in North Carolina. There are various types of voter fraud, so to the extent that any one person or entity has impersonated another voter, then certainly voter ID would help to prevent that specific type of voter fraud. But in the elections world there are other types of fraud that voter ID may not necessarily address.”

The kinds of voter fraud that voter ID laws would potentially address—impersonation and misrepresentation of residency—are rare in North Carolina. An official document from the Board of Elections states that “most allegations prove to be unfounded, lack criminal intent, or cannot be substantiated.”

From 2000–2012, district attorneys investigated just two cases of impersonation and three in which residency was thought to have been misrepresented.

Because of its potential to disenfranchise African-American voters, voter IDI won't live with Jim Crow legislation has been compared to the Jim Crow laws that institutionalized racism in the U.S. for almost a century. “The horror villain we can’t get rid of, essentially the specter of Jim Crow,” says N.C. Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller, “returns to the nightmare on Jones Street we’re seeing in this state.”

However, the constitutionality of voter ID legislation has already been decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2008 ruled 6–3 that Indiana’s voter ID law is constitutional.

In North Carolina though, legislation faces a major hurdle: 40 counties with histories of discriminatory voting practices are covered by Section 5 of the LBJVoting Rights Act. Any changes to the voting laws in these jurisdictions must be approved by the U.S. Justice Department.

Hall says that Section 5 provides the basis for a challenge. “The Justice Department did step in, in South Carolina, for exactly the same reason,” he said. “They had the numbers that show that a disproportionately high number of African-Americans would be the ones who are registered voters who don’t have a driver’s license. And we’ve got that data here.”

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This article is written by Jane Porter and is published at http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/like-a-bad-rash-voter-id-bill-returns/Content?oid=3394545

IndyWeek

 all highlights and pictures were added by the VLTP editor

An ALEC Sham – The International Task Force

by 2old2care


For a couple of entries coming up – I am going to be taking snips from an excellent piece of investigative journalism written by Bob Sloan, the Executive Director of the Voter Legislative Transparency Project (VLTP).

I’m going to do this in multiple entries – using snips – ’cause I am a “blogger” with ADD, with the attention span for research and writing of about that of a flea
(let’s jump around and do this – or this, no this, maybe this, or this …).


ALEC-New Partnerships and Exposing Hidden Foreign Influences

Before we consider what the impact of a joint Republican Study Committee/ ALEC/Heritage Foundationpartnership against federal controls would have upon the U.S., we should first look at current ALEC activities along these lines involving memberships held by foreign representatives. Together ALEC’s state lawmakers work hand in hand with several influential foreign elected officials to establish US state and foreign policies and pass laws suggested by those representing foreign powers…

“Together ALEC’s state lawmakers work hand in hand with several influential foreign elected officials”?

Are you kidding me – state legislators from ho-bunk towns in the United States making “international” resolutions.

You have got to be kidding me!

Like America is suppose to believe that ALEC state legislators have the experience in foreign affairs necessary to be working on an “international” task force.  Get real!!!
Most of them haven’t even been out of state – except to go to an ALEC meeting – for free – on a corporate ALEC scholarship.

For example, take Mary Kiffmeyer – from Minnesota – our ALEC State Chair who is on the International and Federal Relations Task Force.

The oldest of 14 children, Kiffmeyer was raised in Pierz, Minnesota.
The population was 1,393 at the 2010 census.[6]

Kiffmeyer lives near Big Lake, Minnesota.
Big Lake   …   population was 10,060 at the 2010 census.

Oh – yeah – this is someone I want interfering in foreign affairs on the ALEC International Relations Task Force.

These state bumpkins and their insistence in interfering with Foreign/ International Relations will probably set world governments and US foreign relations back 100 years.  God only knows what they are doing behind the closed doors of the secretive meetings of the ALEC International and Federal Relations Task Force.

God help us and the world!!!!!


Concerns about foreign money and influence finding their way into our electoral process because of the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision – are now bolstered by the discovery that foreign nations are already taking part in establishing U.S. policies related to voting and foreign matters – through ALEC.

And this paragraph is NOT a push, ALEC Resolution in Support of the Citizens United Decision

Summary:

This Resolution emphasizes the importance of first amendment protections of corporations’, non-profit advocacy groups’, and labor organizations’ speech. The resolution warns that mandatory disclosure and disclaimer requirements, particularly relating to an organization’s sour source of funding, can be intimidating to  such organizations and inhibit free speech.

Resolution

WHEREAS, the January 2010 Supreme Court decision in  Citizens United v. Federal  Election Commission  restored and affirmed the First Amendment rights of  corporations, labor organizations, and nonprofit advocacy groups to engage in  political speech in campaigns; and

SNIP

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED  that the American Legislative Exchange Council  (ALEC) opposes efforts that are outlined above at the federal, state, and local level  to undermine the Supreme Court’s decision in  Citizens United v. Federal Election  Commission  .

Adopted by the Public Safety and Elections Task Force at the Annual Meeting, August 7, 2010. Approved by the ALEC Board of Directors, September 19, 2010


“foreign nations are already taking part in establishing U.S. policies related to voting and foreign matters – through ALEC.”

One major difference which ALEC has attempted to bury deeply and not disclose is the involvement of foreign nationals holding elected offices in their governments who also hold full ALEC membership(s) – including the right to a vote [on ALEC “model legislation”].

These [foreign national] individuals help develop US policies, write ALEC resolutions and proposed model bills to be implemented in the United States – and internationally.  They [foreign nationals] cast votes alongside corporate reps and lobbyists and conservative state lawmakers on US state and federal model legislation, formulate resolutions sent out to the President, Congressional members and foreign governments.  These foreign officials then return to their government posts and lobby on behalf of the same initiatives they helped develop for the US – initiatives being lobbied for by ALEC to their [foreign national] governments using the same resolutions, models or policy demands.
foreign participation in developing US laws and policies

in relation to our state AND national government – BECAUSE –  the “ALEC International Task Force” is part of the ALEC “Federalism Task Force”

Which is part of ALEC’s “Federal Forum” program, which focuses on:

“Bringing state legislative leaders into contact with ALEC’s alumni  members in Congress is the cornerstone of the Federal Forum and  is instrumental in maintaining the principles of limited government,  individual liberty, and free markets. Through this relationship, ALEC hopes  to provide its 96 alumni members with information and testimonial support  from the states on pressing policy issues.”

foreign participation in developing US laws and policies –

At last count, ALEC documents list at least nine governments represented by seventeen publicly elected foreign officials sitting on ALEC’s International Relations task force – with full membership and voting rights.

And that’s where we will go next in this series

International Relations Task Force Co-Chairs (as of 11/2011)

Harold Brubaker (since replaced upon his retirement from the NC General Assembly by Tim Moffitt, also from North Carolina); and

Brandie Davis – Lobbyist for PMI Global (Philip Morris International)

16. Specific lobbying issues

World Trade Organization obligation issues.

Pending U.S. Trade Agreement Initiatives.

S 3240: Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012; proposed amendment relating to trade negotiations.

ALEC International Relations Task Force Co Chairs,
A state legislator and a lobbyist.
How fitting!!!!

 
AND

American Legislative Exchange Council International Relations Task Force [As of 6/30/2011]

Richard Ashworth
Member
Member European Parliament [MEP] 5 Hazelgrove Road
West Sussex RH16 3PH

Cory Bernardi
Member
Senator, Australian Senate
Level 13
100 King William Street
Adelaide, S.A. 5000

Adam Bielan
Member
MEP
UL CHODUIE WI CZA 2/7
Warsaw, Poland 02-593

Martin Callanan
Member
Member of the European Conservatives & Reformists Group
European Parliament
105 Kells Lane
Gateshead, UK NE95XY

Philip Claeys
Member
MEP
Kruiskruidlaan 11
Belgium 3090

Niranjan Deva
Member
MEP
Bat. Altiero Spinneli 14E130
60 Rue Wiertz/Wiertzstaat 60
Belgium B-1047

Christopher Fjellner
Member
MEP
14 Rue Wiertz
ASP 13E116
Brussels, Belgium B-1047

Liam Fox
Member
Member British Parliament, House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
UNITED KINGDOM

Daniel Hannan
Member
MEP
60 Rue Wiertz
Brussels 1047
BELGIUM

Chris Heaton-HarrisMember
MEP
1.40E+158
60 Rue Wiertz
Brux, Belgium B-1047

Roger Helmer
Member
MEP
ASP 14E 242
60 Rue Wiertz
Brussels, Belgium B-1047

Ayesha Javed
Member
Assemblywoman, Punjab Provincial Assembly
Provincial Assembly of the Punjab
The Mall Road
Lahore, Punjab 54000

Syed Kamall
Member
MEP
60 Rue Wiertz (14 E116)
Brussels, Belgium B-1047

Michal Kaminski
Member
Chairman of the European Conservatives & Reformists Group
European Parliament
ASP BE130, European Parliament
Rue Wiertz
Brussels, Belgium B-1047

Mirostaw Piotrowski
Member
MEP
UL Zaua 39
Lublin, PO Box 20-601
Poland

Ivo Strejcek
Member
MEP
Vintrnt 105212
Zdar Nad Sazavon
Czech Republic 59101

Konrad Szymanski
Member
MEP
Joliot-Curie
26 M.6
Warsaw, Poland 02-646

AND

Reem Badran
Member of Parliament from Jordan, and ALEC’s newest International Legislator Member. (Page 26 • Inside ALEC | October 2012)

Written by 2old2care

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Conservative lobby group behind push to lower minimum wage

Politicians backed by conservative group Alec have introduced 67 laws in 25 states aimed at reducing minimum wage levels

AARP Hosts Job Fair For Workers Over 50 In New York

Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The conservative lobbying group Alec has been behind a major push against the pay rates of low-wage American workers by sponsoring or supporting scores of new laws aimed at weakening their protections, a new survey has found.

Since 2011, politicians backed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has hit the headlines for previous campaigns on voting rights and gun laws, have introduced 67 different laws in 25 different states on the issue.

The proposed laws are generally aimed at reducing minimum wage levels, weakening overtime protection or stopping the local creation of minimum wage laws in cities or states. Using language similar to “model bill” templates drafted by Alec, they were put forward by local politicians who are almost always Republican and affiliated with the powerful conservative group.

Critics say Alec is backed by powerful corporate groups that are seeking to draft legislation that serves their business interests. “Public scrutiny is the best weapon against their agenda,” said Jack Temple, a policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, which advocates on workers’ rights and drew up the report.

Eleven of the 67 bills eventually became law. They included an Arizona bill weakening public sector wage contracts, an Idaho bill preventing state and local government from adopting some wage laws and New Hampshire legislation that repealed that state’s minimum wage law.

The phenomenon has come as the US economy struggles to recover from the impact of the Great Recession. Even though corporate profits are high and the stock market has soared to new record levels, job growth has been tepid and real wages largely stagnant as the economy has shifted in a low-wage direction. One study has found that around 60% of jobs lost during the recession were middle or high wage while some 58% of new jobs in the recovery have been in low-wage sectors.

“With real wages for low wage workers already declining in the post-recession recovery, the last thing America’s workers need is frontal assault on pay and overall compensation by state legislatures,” said Christine Owens, Nelp’s executive director.

Indeed, President Barack Obama called for a rise in the minimum wage in his state of the union address in January, though many experts see such a move as unlikely to pass Congress. Alec, meanwhile, denies it is attacking workers’ rights. “I feel that the Nelp report unfairly casts Alec as a suppressor or oppressor of American workers. We are not against employees of companies. Rather, we believe the market should dictate wages,” said an Alec spokesman.

Alec has come under fire several times in recent years for its campaigns. After drawing serious criticism from civil rights groups for its backing of stand-your-ground gun laws and also voter ID legislation, Alec decided last year to abandon campaigning on social policy issues in favour of concentrating on economic policies.

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This article is written by Paul Harris and is posted at http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/mar/06/alec-minimum-wage-report
The Guardian home

GOP Lawmakers Harass Michigan’s Seasonal Workers

What do Michigan House Representatives Peter Pettalia (R-106), Bob Genetski (R-80), Ray Franz (R-101) and Joel Johnson (R-97) have against Michigan farmers?

Hint: It’s something about their employees….(seasonal workers).

All four of these lawmakers represent out-state districts, and while it’s easy to assume that farming is a strictly rural endeavor, densely populated Wayne, Oakland, Washtenaw, Monroe and Macomb Counties account for a whopping $302.6 million of the state’s $71.3 billion in annual agri-business. Farming is the number two industry in the state, and it’s more reliable than manufacturing as a steady economic base. The industry employs 600,000 people.  The state is second only to California in crop diversity, with twelve of Michigan’s crops being number one in the nation. Many of these crops are dependent on seasonal workers to harvest them by hand. Farmers could not survive without this workforce, nor could our struggling economy.

We need migrants more than they need us.

Yet, these four lawmakers continue to sponsor silly laws that are no more than thinly veiled attempts to . Two years ago, they attempted to pass a law styled after the now discredited and much reviled Arizona anti-immigrant law which, had it passed in Michigan, would have destroyed much of the state’s seasonal crop production.

Here we go again. Yesterday these guys, lead by Pettalia, introduced HB 4372 , a bill that makes English the official language of Michigan. The proposed law is nothing more than a waste of time and an overt exercise in bigotry. It changes nothing.

The wording of the bill carefully states that “English is the official language of this state” and that it shall be used for all records, laws, meetings and documents, yada-yada. Then, in Sec. 4(1) it qualifies that: “In addition to printing official documents and forms in English, a state agency or local unit of government may use or print official documents and forms in languages other than English.” And in Sec. 5(1) it further exempts education, instruction, public safety, health, justice, commerce, tourism, sporting and cultural events.

So, what’s the point? It’s what Michigan has already been doing since, er…statehood.

It’s not as though the Register of Deeds has suddenly adopted Portuguese, or your drivers test appeared in Swahili.

This bill is little more than an attempt to shamelessly cater to the paranoid demographics of these four awful lawmakers.

Amy Kerr Hardin from Democracy Tree

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