As they sometimes say in the South, it's all about taking care of bid'ness.
But don't tell that to the group of 100 or so protesters, who on Friday afternoon marched on the Marriott hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA), where corporate lobbyists were voting with state lawmakers on "model" legislation at the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) 38th Annual Meeting.
The protest, organized in part by Louisiana State University's Student Labor Action Project, the Defend Ohio Campaign, and activists from across the country, began at the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown NOLA. That same day, members of the local community also gathered to celebrate the conviction of five police officers on charges stemming from the notorious Danziger Bridge case. A federal jury found the officers guilty of civil rights violations in the shootings of unarmed citizens.
On August 3, the national Common Cause office released a study of the American Legislative Exchange Council's political clout titled, "Legislating Under the Influence: Money, Power, and the American Legislative Exchange Council" (pdf). The study examines the campaign contributions from corporations, political action committees, executives and employees associated with the 22 companies represented on ALEC's "Private Enterprise Board." Common Cause found that through the efforts and largesse of global firms like Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Koch Industries, AT&T, Altria (the parent company of cigarette maker Philip Morris) and Exxon Mobil, ALEC has quietly managed to turn itself into a powerful force in all 50 state capitols.
(Editor's note: The Center is deeply grateful for all the research into ALEC politicians underway, especially by Daily KOS bloggers, and we are offering the tips today in light of the many questions people have asked about how to help with this research.) The Center for Media and Democracy recently unveiled a trove of "model" bills voted on behind closed doors by corporations and politicians through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Many of these bills and provisions have been introduced in state houses across the country without any mention of the ALEC connection and have become legally binding. In addition to the analysis of the more than 800 pieces legislation on "ALECexposed," CMD released a list of lawmakers from across the U.S. who serve as ALEC "Chairmen" in each state.
When the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) gathers in New Orleans for its annual meeting at the end of the summer, it will have some company.
A peaceful demonstration has been planned to coincide with ALEC's 38th annual meeting, which is scheduled to be held August 3-6 at the Marriott New Orleans. According to the "Protest ALEC" website (which is not affiliated with CMD), advocates will hold a number of workshops devoted to examining the ALEC agenda, corporations, and politicians. The session will culminate with a program followed by a "March to the Marriott" from the Hale Boggs Federal Building. Scheduled speakers and performances include Jordan Flaherty, journalist and community organizer; Bob Sloan, prison industry investigative consultant and author; David Rovics, musician; and representatives from the AFL-CIO and Interfaith Worker Justice.
The American Legislative Exchange Council's Annual Meetings and Task Force Summits are held in some of the nation's top travel destinations, at swanky hotels where state legislators and corporate executives enjoy lavish accommodations and exclusive excursions.
On July 28, 2009, Glenn Beck called President Barack Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people, or white culture" in an appearance on the Fox News Channel morning show, Fox & Friends. Almost two years later, on June 30, 2011, he wrapped the final episode of Fox's The Glenn Beck Program.
What led to the demise of the firebrand's controversial television show? Everything from a sharp decline in ratings -- according to The New Republic, Beck's ratings fell from an average of 2.9 million in January 2010 to 1.8 million in January 2011, and Forbes' Rick Unger said his numbers represented the "steepest decline in all cable news programs" -- to political differences between Beck and the Fox team has been cited, but one important factor cannot be ignored.
Beck's vitriolic commentary forced Fox to take a hit where it hurts the most: its bottom line. But it would not have happened without a concerted effort by a number of groups and activists.
Over and over, cable TV and Sunday news show pundits have been telling us that Social Security is going bankrupt, and we have to raise the retirement age or the economy will collapse. These two axioms have practically become common knowledge. The only problem is, there isn't a shred of evidence that either statement is accurate.
Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the public health advocacy group Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights have posted a YouTube video about the plight of casino workers, some of the last employees in the country forced to breathe secondhand cigarette smoke at work. The powerful eight-minute video shows non-smoking casino workers who are ill and dying from prolonged on-the-job exposure to secondhand smoke. An attractive, young non-smoking former casino dealer with an obvious scar on her neck, Sheryl Wilkens, in a hoarse voice describes how she stuck with her job to pay bills while she raised her family. She tearfully tells how in 2006 she developed a lump on her neck, and a subsequent biopsy revealed she had cancer, even though she never smoked. Another worker, a former marathon runner, describes the decline in her health, and how she is now permanently on medication for a number of respiratory diseases caused by her chronic smoke exposure at work. Workers in the multi-billion-dollar gambling industry suffer the highest occupational exposure to secondhand smoke of any workers in the country, and have consistently been left behind as the rest of the country has gone smoke-free as the gambling industry fights to preserve smoking in casinos.
The Wisconsin State Senate passed the Assembly's version of the budget late Thursday night after nine hours of spirited debate, sending the $66 billion spending plan to Governor Walker for his signature.
The Republican-controlled Senate approved the measure 19-14 along strictly partisan lines. Lawmakers debated late into the evening amid audible reactions from gallery spectators and a boisterous rally on the front steps of the Capitol. Several audience members in the Senate chamber were removed during the course of the debate for disrupting the legislative session.