U.S. Congress

ALEC and OREGON PROTESTERS

ALEC and OREGON PROTESTERS

Most of us are now aware of the ongoing takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy and dozens of followers. Ammon and Ryan Bundy are sons of rancher Cliven Bundy, who notably took part in an armed standoff with the federal Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, in Nevada in 2014.

The protesters cite convictions in a local arson case against ranchers for burning more than 130 acres of federal land in 2 separate fires as being the initial cause for the occupation of the refuge. Rancher brothers, Dwight and Steven Hammond were convicted in 2012 and after losing an appeal, were sentenced and to turn themselves in the week of the takeover. The Bundys demand that the two Hammonds be released from custody as their first demand.

A second and more important demand being made by these protesters as they continue to occupy the buildings and grounds of this federal reserve, is a demand that Washington return federally owned land back to the states. Ryan Bundy laid out the militants’ demands: that the surrounding federal lands be ceded to local control.

This reflects a decades-old dispute over land rights in the United States, where local communities have increasingly sought to take back federal land.

According to the Congressional Research Service, in Nevada the U.S. owned more than 81 percent of the land in the state in 2010. In Oregon, that number hovered right around half — 53 percent of the land, more than 30 million acres of which were administered by either the BLM or the U.S. Forest Service.

The federal government owns, maintains and cares for millions of acres nationwide. Over the past two decades the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has pushed for the federal government to turn over much of this land to the individual states. Once transferred, the use of such land becomes the responsibility of the states.

ALEC’s model legislation pertaining to pursuit of taking federal land began back in 1995 and was titled the “Sagebrush Rebellion Act”.

Today, you’ll find no reference to this model legislation at ALEC’s web site because of the exposure it and other proposed “model” legislation has been given upon the “ALEC Exposed” website. ALEC has scrubbed much of their model bills following publication of their entire stash of proposed legislation in 2011.

I urge everyone to read the Sagebrush Rebellion Act to understand exactly what this conservative organization was attempting to accomplish with this proposed state legislation. At a minimum, it proposes to transfer ownership of tens of millions of acres of land to each state and allow them to continue existing leases, grazing, ranching and other income generating pursuits, with the income transferring to the states as well.

Included is the transfer of all mineral, water, oil and similar rights to the states to do with as they please….including leasing the rights to private companies, individuals and/or corporations.

…to permit ranching, mining and timber production and the development, production and transmission of energy and other public utility services under principles of multiple use which provide the greatest benefit to the people of this state“.

As I indicated previously, ALEC has erased all traces of this model legislation from their website of model bills. However ALEC Exposed retains a copy of the legislation as does the Heartland Institute (linked to above).

However, ALEC is still pursuing a takeover of federal lands today. They’ve simply changed the model legislation to a Policy Statement entitled Public Policy Statement on Transfer of Public Lands.

ALEC’s “policy” on the takeover of federal land was approved in January of last year. Below is an excerpt of that document, showing admission that though you won’t find any model legislation pertaining to this issue upon their website, they advise current legislation does exist:

This Draft Model Policy, ratified by unanimous consent on October 9, 2014 at American Lands Council (ALC) Multi-State Workshop convened in Salt Lake City, UT and on October 20, 2014 by ALC Board of Directors, resulted from that summit. This statement is supported by existing ALEC model policy and calls for the restoration to the western states their most basic right – control over their land with important exemptions for national parks, Congressionally-designated wilderness area, Indian reservations and military installations.”

They provide several uses of the land once transferred all of which ensure economic productivity. Section X provides:

x. GENERATE SELF-SUPPORTING FINANCE: Foster compatible economic productivity to support essential government services such as local roads, utilities, emergency services, public health and safety, education, justice, and other civic functions while reducing tax burdens on citizens nationally and offsetting federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes and Secure Rural Schools funds“.

The ALEC Board of Directors approved this public policy on January 9, 2015.

Essentially our friends at ALEC are working to cut federal income generated off these tens of million acres of land. I find this attempt at reducing federal income consistent with their pursuits of lowering corporate and high income taxes. Both the transfer of federal land and reducing taxes cuts off income to the government. With less income, the federal government would have difficulty paying down the national debt, maintaining federal employee workforce and consequently, less of an ability to function. This would allow for a louder hue and cry from the Conservative political right about our government being unable to function and meet budget requirements.

If this sounds far-fetched to you…consider what’s happened to the U.S. Post Office (USPS) since 2005 as ALEC pursued privatization of that federal agency. In 1995 ALEC proposed privatizing the USPS. Then as now, Fed Ex and UPS were members of ALEC with representatives holding positions upon ALEC’s various task forces. Both of these private companies then (and now) complain that the USPS’s first class mail and parcel post contracts are a monopoly owned by the “government” and seek access to both. Fed Ex and UPS argue that back when the USPS was enacted, there were no private companies available or willing to take on the task of delivering mail and packages…but today there are private companies willing and demanding they be allowed to deliver both at a profit.

By 2005 through ALEC they were successful in getting legislation passed by Congress to make the USPS fund retirement and healthcare for workers for the next 75 years! In 2006 the legislation passed and became known as the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act”.

Since then the USPS has been forced to set aside billions every year to fund healthcare and projected retirement benefits for workers who haven’t even been born yet. This diversion of income has caused the USPS to be unable to modernize facilities, close many facilities, lay off workers and to defend themselves against the onset of emails to replace “snail mail”.

Once the income was diverted in the manner I described above, ALEC’s Republican Alumni in Congress began expressing their views that the USPS was failing, unable to properly fund themselves or operate. They started the pursuit of privatizing the post office.

Unfortunately this is how ALEC and their Koch funded and backed politicians operate…cut off funding, tax revenue and then offer up a solution of privatization or the selling off of assets – such as federal lands and all the mineral rights.

Today it’s an armed “militia” taking over a federal facility in a remote part of Oregon demanding the federal government release convicted criminals and hand over publicly owned land to the states. It isn’t a stretch of fact to realize that the Bundy boys and their supporters are conservative believers following the proposed legislation and acting upon the ideology provided by ALEC and their conservative state members and Congressional alumni.

For a full comprehensive expose on ALEC’s attacks upon the federal level, please take a few minutes and review VLTP’s “American Legislative Exchange Council – Federal Government and Corrupt Practices” article published in 2011. In this document the chronological attack upon the USPS is laid out beginning on page 24.

Yesterday it was the USPS, today it’s the acquisition of federally owned public land. One can only wonder where ALEC’s next attack will be and when.

U.S. Senate Holds Hearing on ALEC, Corporate Involvement and Stand Your Ground Laws

U.S. Senate Holds Hearing on ALEC, Corporate Involvement and Stand Your Ground Laws

Today the long awaited Senate hearing on Stand Your Ground laws and the involvement of the “bill mill”; American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in adopting, proposing and disseminating model legislation such as the SYG laws, was held in Washington.  This hearing is remarkable – not just because the Senate is holding discussions about this legislation which is now the law in many states – but because it is the first ever acknowledgement of the existence of ALEC and their legislative activities and influences by any government body.

Whether Congress realized it or not at the core of the “need” for this hearing, are the existence and acts of an organization that until recently has remained hidden from the view of government and citizens alike.  An organization that has had possibly the largest influence upon enactment of state and federal law since the mid 1970’s.  Creating laws that specifically benefit corporations and business interests to the detriment of the public and constituents of lawmakers owned by ALEC through loyal membership in that organization – and a “duty” to advance all legislation proposed by it.

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ALEC’s corporate member representatives did not take part in the hearing and offered no testimony – but certain Senators seemingly “owned” by corporate money spoke on their behalf.  Chief among those speaking favorably for corporate interests and in favor of SYG laws?  GOP Senators Cruz, Graham and Gohmert.  Senator Cruz voiced his opinion that Senator Durbin’s request made of ALEC corporate members or supporters, to respond and state their position in support or opposition of ALEC’s Stand Your Ground model legislation…was nothing more than a witch hunt being used to “chill” the first amendment rights of corporations.  

(How far corporate person-hood has advanced since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.  Today corporations enjoy the same rights as human citizens…except for the ability to be held accountable, arrested, incarcerated and imprisoned for criminal acts committed behind a convenient corporate veil.)

Cruz voiced sympathy for the family of Trayvon Martin, who was killed by George Zimmerman in the highly publicized Florida case last year, then went on to proclaim that many organizations and others were using that case to advance arguments of “perceived” racial prejudice and for “political gain”.

However, Senator Durbin made clear that of the 140 corporate members contacted and asked if they supported or opposed ALEC’s SYG model legislation, only 1 responded in support of it.

The following excerpts are from the Center for Media and Democracy.  This was published by CMD today and due to the article’s relevance to this important issue should be read in its entirety…

CMD Submits Testimony to U.S. Senate on ALEC and “Stand Your Ground

by Lisa Graves, Executive Director, at the Center for Media and Democracy

Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Committee, my name is Lisa Graves, and I am the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, the publisher of PRWatch.org, ALECexposed.org, SourceWatch.org, and BanksterUSA.org. The organization I lead is a national investigative watchdog group based in Madison, Wisconsin, that has more than 150,000 supporters.

I previously served as the Chief Counsel for Nominations for the Chairman and then Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy. I also served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy/Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Justice and as the Deputy Chief of the Article III Judges Division of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, in addition to other posts in the non-profit sector on national security issues.

I commend the Committee, and its Chairman, for holding this hearing to examine the deadly consequences of so-called “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) laws that have proliferated in the states since 2005, at the urging of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

SYG laws were peddled by the NRA and ALEC alongside bills to expand the number of people carrying concealed firearms, creating a volatile combination that puts more and more American children and adults at risk of being shot and killed. This Committee has held countless hearings over the years on both federal and state crime policies that affect the rights of Americans, and it is fitting that the Senate examine SYG and the organizations that have urged that SYG become binding law.

I am especially concerned about the activities of ALEC to push the NRA’s agenda into law because ALEC has routinely filed tax returns with the IRS claiming it engages in no lobbying, zero. Yet, ALEC and its agents have routinely bragged about getting SYG introduced and passed – the very definition of lobbying – while claiming to the IRS and the public that it spends not a single dollar on lobbying. Today, I will describe the evidence that shows that ALEC is no ordinary non-profit and the ways in which it has misled the public about the true nature of its activities.

I will also detail the role of the NRA in ALEC and ALEC’s role in pushing for SYG laws. I will also discuss the effect of the three main parts of that law, and how that law affected the initial treatment of George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin; how it affected the trial; and how it may affect a civil suit.

In an accompanying appendix to the statement I am submitting for the record, I also describe the role of corporations, such as Koch Industries, and numerous other grantees of the Koch family fortune in advancing the ALEC corporate agenda, along with other aspects of ALEC’s legacy, such as efforts to make it harder for American citizens to vote, as well as its current legislative agenda…

…ALEC describes itself as the largest voluntary group of state legislators in the country, but it is really a corporate-financed lobby that facilitates getting special interest legislation into the hands of lawmakers from every state in the country. In the words of Bill Moyers, ALEC is “the most influential corporate-funded political force most of America has never heard of” as noted in the “United States of ALEC…”

…ALEC is the epitome of a pay-to-play operation that gives special interests special access, but the way it conducts its operations is very unusual and troubling. That is why ALEC is subject to no fewer than three separate tax fraud complaints to the IRS, with supporting evidence provided by four groups: Common Cause, Clergy Voice, the Voters Legislative Transparency Project, and my organization, CMD…

ALEC Is Subject to Three Complaints Alleging Tax Fraud

  1. ALEC is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which means that corporations can theoretically deduct the thousands of dollars they pay ALEC to get their legislative wish lists in the hands of lawmakers. ALEC has routinely told the IRS that it engages in zero lobbying, even though numerous communications have been obtained through open records requests and other sources that show ALEC asking for legislation to be introduced, urging that specific legislation be adopted, and taking credit when its legislation becomes law. ALEC is no “charity” – it is a lobby that has routinely boasted to its corporate members that each year nearly 1,000 ALEC bills are introduced in state legislatures and nearly 20% become law…
  2. A review of ALEC task forces by CMD revealed that almost all of the for-profit corporations that participate in ALEC task forces are represented by their registered lobbyists or are described by their employers as their “government affairs” staffer within the corporation’s internal lobbying shop. CMD and Common Cause have also obtained documents showing that corporations have secretly and routinely sponsored bills at ALEC Task Force meetings and then voted on those bills with legislators at ALEC meetings. Under ALEC’s published bylaws, its state legislative leaders are tasked with a “duty” to get ALEC bills “introduced,” and they do. Some ALEC corporations then lobby for them without disclosing they pre-voted on them.

ALEC has repeatedly claimed to the IRS that it spends no money on travel for federal or state officials, but CMD has extensively documented that these claims are also contrary to the evidence. DBA Press and CMD obtained a three-year spreadsheet of corporate funding for trips by lawmakers along with the names of every corporation that funded the trips and all of the lawmakers who took them…

 …VLTP’s Bob Sloan has filed an IRS whistleblower complaint against ALEC based primarily on its scholarship program. Clergy Voice also complained about ALEC’s non-disclosed lobbying and how donations bring lawmakers to meet with corporate lobbyists and ALEC meetings while giving the corporations a tax write-off.

Additionally, CMD and Common Cause recently submitted supplemental evidence to the IRS in support of the initial complaint filed by Common Cause’s Mr. Edgar after CMD launched ALECexposed in July 2013. The supplemental filing last month provided the IRS with numerous documents obtained by DBA Press, CMD, and Common Cause in a number of states that show that ALEC has spent a projected $2 million for lawmaker travel in recent years on the state “scholarship” travel alone – in addition to more sums for lawmaker travel via the ALEC task forces. CMD and Common Cause have also asked each state Attorney General to examine whether ALEC is operating in violation of state law.

ALEC’s Corporate Funders Were Well Known before this Hearing

Accordingly, it is astonishing ALEC and a small number of its legislators – many of whom get their trips to ALEC resort meetings paid for by corporations, whose identities are well known to them – are taking umbrage at this Committee for inquiring about ALEC’s legislative agenda and which corporations have bankrolled it. The lawmakers know who funds ALEC’s bill machine and their trips, but until we launched ALECexposed two years ago, the public was largely in the dark about these special interests and the one-stop shopping ALEC provides for corporations and trade groups to secretly advance the same cookie-cutter bills in nearly every state.

Despite the hoopla trumped up over Senator Durbin’s letter, quite frankly, every single for-profit and non-profit corporation this Committee asked about its support for ALEC and its long-standing gun agenda is a corporation that is publicly known to have funded ALEC or participated in its meetings about bills, based on the investigative research of CMD, along with others like Common Cause, DBA Press, VLTP, CAP, Greenpeace, bloggers at Daily Kos, and many, many ordinary citizen sleuths…

Please take the time to read the full CMD testimony provided to the U.S. Senate by Lisa Graves and CMD -> HERE <-

 

ALEC: Pursuing Universal Stewardship – Part II: Exploring That “Special Relationship” – Atlantic Bridge and Patroness, Lady Thatcher

ALEC: Pursuing Universal Stewardship – Part II: Exploring That “Special Relationship” – Atlantic Bridge and Patroness, Lady Thatcher

VLTP Special Report logo

By Susan Kraykowski

In part I, we barely scratched the surface of ALEC’s involvement overseas – most especially in the United Kingdom. It is time to delve a bit deeper into what is called the Atlantic Bridge and its works and ways. Full disclosure: the project officially known as Atlantic Bridge is now defunct, due to scandal in the UK and subsequent legal action. That doesn’t mean that ALEC isn’t still active on both sides of the Atlantic, as we will see.

Thatcher and ReaganMuch was made in the press about former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s friendship with former President Ronald Reagan. At the time – and even to America’s liberal Democrats – that seemed innocuous. “So what?”, we thought, “They share political goals as well as some kind of personal chemistry. It isn’t the first time in history that leaders of governments have formed personal ties. What harm can friendly leaders of allied governments do in the long run?”

Not that one advocates unfriendly allies – far from it! – but in this case, the answer turns out, thirty-odd years on, to be: plenty!

First of all, is the aspect of enshrining Reagan’s and Thatcher’s papers, policies and memorabilia in learning centers, which sponsor exchange programs between the interns of both countries for the purposes of study and indoctrination. Americans tend to honor past presidents with “Presidential Libraries” – at least since Hoover’s time. That custom isn’t followed in the UK but Margaret Thatcher will have her very own memorial library, very soon. Interestingly, most of the funding for it has already been raised in the United States.

Patrick Hennessy, Political Editor for The Telegraph discusses this in his article of April 14, 2013. Note the names of the members of the fundraising organizations and the party youth organizations in England and the United States. These same names crop up again and again in different contexts: heading different organizations, as speakers for various gatherings, and in other fundraising and legislative capacities. Their relationships are complicated and interconnected. It will take a few articles to sort through them.

For instance, one Donal Blaney, who heads something called the Young Britons Foundation – and calls it “a Tory madrasa…for radicalizing young Tories” (Britons, apparently, having much less political sensitivity to such terminology than Americans) – is delightedly behind the fundraising for the Thatcher Library, and is also in cahoots with such BlaneyAmerican fundraising experts as Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich on the project [pic of Donal Blaney and Karl Rove]. Just to tie up this example with a neat bow, the Prime Minister, David Cameron is on board with the Library project, according to Patrick Hennessy, who links him to foreign fundraisers in this way: “…John Howard, the former Australian prime minister, Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives in the US, Fred Ryan, President Reagan’s chief of staff and Karl Rove, who performed the same role for President George W Bush.”

It gets worse. Donal Blaney is CEO of Conservative Way Forward, which is the entity actually in charge of the fundraising for the Thatcher Library. Note the address at the bottom of the page, at Griffin Law in Kent, England. If one follows that link, through a couple of Dropbox ™ sites, one eventually arrives here:

Griffin pic

This is Griffin Law’s US Office – which also happens to share the same address as William J. McCarthy & Associates. Who does McCarthy & Associates advertise as their clients? Here is a partial list: American Council for Immigration Reform, Americans for Free Speech, Americans for Sovereignty (Council for America), Center for Law and Accountability, Center for the Defense of Freedom, Children’s Mercy Fund, Christian Action Network, Citizens United, Coming Home Foundation, Conservative Victory Fund, Draft Sarah Now!, Federation for American Immigration Reform, Human Events/Eagle Publishing, International Anglican Federation, National Republican Congressional Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Right to Work Foundation, Republican National Committee, State Department Watch, Senate Conservatives Fund, Tea Party Veterans, The American Sentinel (Penguin Group), The Dave Bossie Investigative Report (Breitbart Columnist), The Minuteman Project, This Nation, The Tea Party, The Tea Party Campaign with Dr. Jerome Corsi, Young Americans for Freedom (Young America’s Foundation).

Here is a picture of Donal Blaney and Margaret Thatcher taken at a Young America’s Foundation event

blaney and thatcher

Are we beginning to be afraid…very afraid? Good! More in the next installment.

Koch Brothers’ Plans for Their Upcoming GOP Donor Retreat Revealed

Koch Brothers’ Plans for Their Upcoming GOP Donor Retreat Revealed

From Mother Jones article “EXCLUSIVE: Read the Koch Brothers’ Plans for Their Upcoming GOP Donor Retreat” By l…

For more than a decade reports of attempts by the Brothers Koch – Charles and David – to assert their ideological branding upon American politics have been in the news. Founders or funders of nearly every ultra-conservative PAD or organization from the Tea Party to Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform and dozens of other extreme organizations existing to advance conservatism, these two billionaires have spent hundreds of million in pursuit of that ideology.
 
Koch BrothersEvery year the Koch’s hold “donor retreats” where America’s wealthy conservative family representatives, Congressional members and corporatists are invited to attend.  At these meetings Charles and David issue marching orders for the coming year and in some cases set the agenda all the way to the next general election.  Attendees generously and individually throw millions of dollars into the pot to fund the activities and goals set by the Kochs.
Between 2010 and 2012 the billionaire brothers spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an attempt to defeat the re-election of President Obama and increase the GOP majority in the House of Representatives as well as secure a majority in the Senate.  They failed miserably in all three as the  President was re-elected and in the House Republicans actually lost seats to Democrats who continue to control the Senate.
Koch Industries has been a long time member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and in the late 90’s when ALEC was financially strapped and on the verge of disappearing, the Koch’s loaned ALEC a half million dollars to keep the organization alive and pursuing the conservative dogma ALEC is so well known for.  Since then the Kochs have supported ALEC’s initiatives such as voter suppression and voter ID legislation, deregulating the EPA and climate denial – to name just a handful of topics pursued jointly by the Kochs and ALEC.
Mother Jones reports:

“According to a previously unpublished preview of the April 28-29 gathering, the Kochs will unveil a new plan to recruit and train political candidates who will advance their free-market worldview. Another priority is improving the conservative movement’s outreach to “growing demographics” such as Latinos, young people, and women. The preview, obtained by Mother Jones, was emailed to attendees in March by Kevin Gentry, a top Koch aide. (A Koch spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment about Gentry’s email.)”

“The Kochs and their acolytes believe it is their duty to stop what Charles Koch calls “the greatest assault on American freedom and prosperity in our lifetimes.” Hebegan a September 2010 letter (PDF) outlining plans for an upcoming donor retreat by asking, “If not us, who? If not now, when?” At the Vail retreat, Koch said the 2012 elections will be “the mother of all wars.”

In this informative article from MJ the entire memo sent out to those invited to attend the upcoming “Retreat” is provided to readers.  Read the full article and memo at Mother Jones -> HERE<-

 

 

Bush Administration Practiced Torture After 9/11, Nonpartisan Review Concludes

Bush Administration Practiced Torture After 9/11, Nonpartisan Review Concludes

From By  at NY Times.

This new report identified by the NY Times, lays blame for deliberate torture following 9/11 at the foot of former George W. Bush and key members of his administration.

Many readers and those who follow our work at VLTP may question how this kind of activity involving torture could in any way be related to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) or their activities.  In response we would remind everyone that many who served in the George W. Bush administration had close ties to or was a supporter of ALEC.  President George Bush was a frequent speaker at ALEC events and received ALEC’s highest “award” the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award:

Bush receiving Jefferson award at ALECbush_alec_rect-460x307

 

Vice President Cheney likewise received the same Jefferson Freedom Award:

Cheney Jefferson Award at alec

 

And Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld served as ALEC’s Chairman of Business Policy Board (Private Enterprise Board) while President of Searle Pharmaceuticals:

Rumsfeld ALEC Chairman of Bus. Policy Board

 

Though it would appear ALEC has no direct link to rendition, waterboarding or other forms of torture…those who advocate ALEC’s brand of ideology are susceptible to perform acts most other Americans would consider vile.  They are then rewarded with ALEC’s top honors demonstrating ALEC’s public appreciation of those acts.  In the case of the Bush regime, ALEC obviously had no qualms about awarding Bush and Cheney for their acts of torture.  How ironic the awards given to President Bush and VP Cheney contain the term “Freedom”.

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“The sweeping, 577-page report says that while brutality has occurred in every American war, there never before had been “the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.” The study, by an 11-member panel convened by the Constitution Project, a legal research and advocacy group, is to be released on Tuesday morning…

“…The panel found that the United States violated its international legal obligations by engineering “enforced disappearances” and secret detentions. It questions recidivism figures published by the Defense Intelligence Agency for Guantánamo detainees who have been released, saying they conflict with independent reviews…”

“…It describes in detail the ethical compromise of government lawyers who offered “acrobatic” advice to justify brutal interrogations and medical professionals who helped direct and monitor them. And it reveals an internal debate at the International Committee of the Red Cross over whether the organization should speak publicly about American abuses; advocates of going public lost the fight, delaying public exposure for months, the report finds.”

Read the substantial NY Times article <- HERE->

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

 

ALEC Legislators – Pretending to Be US Foreign Diplomats

Part Two in a Series by 2old2care

 

While reading an excellent piece of investigative journalism written by Bob Sloan – Voters Legislative Transparency Project entitled:

ALEC-New Partnerships and Exposing Hidden Foreign Influences

I was horrified with the implications of “ALEC state legislators” interfering in international affairs.

I guess in a way – this whole ALEC “International Task Force” sham should be a warning to citizens around the globe of the inflated image that the American Legislative Exchange Council has of itself.

In 1985 the Wall Street Journal made this statement in an article about ALEC:

Yet ALEC remains focused on the least glamorous of political figures, the lowly state legislator.

In 1985 in an article in “The Conservative’, then ALEC president, Kathy Teague noted:

The turnover rate among state legislators is very high  …  These are men and women through the United States who are making laws for the first time in their lives.  …  For the great majority of state legislators, being a lawmaker is their second career.  They are businessmen and women, lawyers or doctors or architects or homemakers.  They have decided to spend three month or six month of the year passing laws, making the laws of their state.

And these people are screwing around with international policy?

These people are making believe they are “foreign diplomats”?

These people are focusing their attention on international issues – when in fact they should be focusing on representing the people of their state – as they were elected to do so.

  • These “lowly [ALEC] state legislators” ARE NOT foreign diplomats and they should not pretend to be one.
  • These “lowly [ALEC] state legislators” ARE NOT governors of the state.
  • These “lowly [ALEC] state legislators” ARE NOT designated trade representatives for the state.
  • These “lowly [ALEC] state legislators” ARE NOT members of the US Congress – they are STATE legislators.

What in the hell do they think they are doing?

Which one of their state constituents told them they wanted them interfering with international relations?

 

I want to bring to the reader’s attention some of the legislation/resolutions that have come out of the ALEC International and Federalism Task Force in the last couple of years.

Senator Val Stevens (WA) introduced the Resolution on Open and Reciprocal Trade with Canada.

Resolution in Support of the Keystone XL PipelineMs. Brandie Davis (Philip Morris International).  Ms. Davis is a lobbyist.  Phillip Morris International is an ALEC Corporate Member.

Ms. Brandie Davis (Philip Morris International) introduced a Hard Science Resolution.  Ms. Davis is a lobbyist. Phillip Morris International is an ALEC Corporate Member.

The Honorable Michal Kaminski (Member, European Parliament and ALEC International Legislator) introduced a Resolution in Support of Deepening EuroAtlantic Integration of the Republic of Moldova.

The Honorable Roger Helmer (Member, European Parliament and ALEC International Legislator) presented a Resolution against EU Funding of NGOs.

Representative Tim Moffitt (NC) – current Legislative Chair of the IR Task Force –  introduced a Resolution Opposing World Bank Lending to Argentina.

Mr. Yeong-jainn “Jeff” Liu (Taipei Economic & Cultural Representative Office) made a presentation about the fairness and importance of Taiwan being added to the US Visa Waiver Program.

Final ratification of US-Korea Free Trade Agreement introduced by Mr. Bob Filippone (PhRMA).   Resolution passes unanimously. PhRMA is an ALEC Corporate Member.

Resolution Supporting Review of Argentina’s GSP Status introduced by Representative Penny Bacchiochi of CT. Resolution passes unanimously.

“Establishment of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones in Pakistan” –  Assemblywoman Ayesha Javed (Punjab Provincial Assembly-Pakistan)

“Resolution on Plain Packaging Legislation” Brandie Davis (Philip Morris International).  Ms. Davis is a lobbyist. Phillip Morris International is an ALEC Corporate Member.

Mr. David Powers (Reynolds American, Inc.) introduced a Resolution Urging the European Union to Remove Its Ban on the Sale of Smokeless Tobacco.  Reynolds American, Inc. is an ALEC Corporate Member.

Representative John E. Piscopo (CT) introduced a Resolution Against U.S. Participation in International Agreement in Copenhagen

Who gave “ALEC state legislators” permission to meet with foreign nationals to discuss policy?

WHO ARE THESE FOREIGN NATIONALS?

WHAT ARE THE POLITICAL BELIEFS OF THESE FOREIGN NATIONALS?

WHY ARE THESE FOREIGN NATIONALS ATTENDING ALEC MEETINGS?

WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT REGISTERED AS FOREIGN LOBBYISTS ALLOWED TO WRITE POLICY FOR THE UNITED STATES?

WHY are “ALEC state legislators” meeting with these people?

ALL OF THIS DONE OUTSIDE THE PURVIEW AND SUPERVISION OF THE US STATE DEPARTMENT!!!

WHO IN THE HELL DOES ALEC THINK THEY ARE?????
All of this is very disturbing – but it goes to a new whole level when you take into consider that ALEC’s International Task Force members – were messing around in IRAQ. DURING THE WAR!!!!

In his presentation on Good Governance Promotion in Iraq, Senator Curt Bramble (UT) explained various reasons why and how the U.S. ought to be instrumental in educating newly elected Iraqi state legislators by training them in principles and good practices of governance, how to draft legislation and work effectively with the executive branch of their governments. He illustrated his points by describing his experiences working with the Baghdad Provincial Council in Iraq.

Representative Gene Ward introduced a Resolution Establishing an ALEC Democracy and Governance Program. Representative Ward added that the five major legislative issues of the Iraqi government should also be addressed, namely unemployment, education, corruption, infrastructure and health care, respectively. He also suggested conducting this training of newly elected legislators partly in the U.S. and thus providing an example of good government practice.

Representative Gene Whisnant (R-Sunriver) recently met with Georgia Ambassador Batu Kutelia and members of his staff at an ALEC reception in Washington, DC as part of the 2009 ALEC States & Nation Policy Summit.

[Rep. Whisnant is a member of the recently reorganized ALEC International Relations Task Force. Gene and his wife Josie introduced the Ambassador and his staff to other Legislative and private industry ALEC members.]

 

During the summit, the ALEC International Task Force members passed resolutions related to international trade policies and practices. One Legislative member reported on his recent trip to Iraq. He went and discussed ALEC concepts of free markets, less government, and individual freedoms with Iraqi leaders.

You have to ask:

  •    Who did they talk to?
  •    What did they tell them?
  •    How did these “ALEC state legislators” represent themselves to Iraqi       officials?
  •     Who did the Iraqi officials think they were talking with?

 

ALL OF THIS DONE

OUTSIDE THE PURVIEW AND SUPERVISION OF THE US STATE DEPARTMENT!!!

WHO IN THE HELL DOES ALEC THINK THEY ARE?????

 

We are talking ALEC STATE legislators here – NOT foreign diplomats.

The “lowly state legislator”

These are men and women through the United States who are making laws for the first time in their lives.

For the great majority of state legislators, being a lawmaker is their second career.  They are businessmen and women, lawyers or doctors or architects or homemakers.

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

You have got to be kidding me!

Most of them haven’t even been out of state – except to go to an ALEC meeting – for free – on a corporate ALEC scholarship.
As I noted in a previous blog entry – it is very important for people to understand that 99% of the legislative members of ALEC have virtually NO foreign affairs experience – none, nada, zip – .

This whole ALEC “International Task Force” sham should be a warning to the citizens around the globe of the inflated image that the American Legislative Exchange Council has of itself.

Every citizen across the globe should be questioning why ALEC state legislators are participating in an ALEC task force that deals with international issues.

Posted by 2old2care

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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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