Even before a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision blew the lid off corporate campaign spending, it was clear that the big banks would be key players in the 2010 election cycle. Unemployment will remain high, and so will resentment against the banks -- a volatile combination that will encourage savvy members of Congress to continue to fight for meaningful reform of the financial sector.
A group of pinstriped traders, upset with the bank-bashing rhetoric emanating from Washington, launched a Wall Street defense campaign the same morning that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was being grilled by Congress.
This is a special alert about breaking news showing that health insurance companies secretly gave the Chamber of Commerce millions of dollars to run third-party attack ads at the same time they were telling Congress they continued to "strongly support reform." On the one hand, we're not surprised, but on the other hand, we're outraged by the lies and deception that have been documented.
The new story in the National Journal proves what I have been talking about, since I switched from being a spokesman for the health insurance industry to being a vocal critic of it. The industry is laundering millions of dollars through third parties to influence health care reform legislation and kill provisions that might hinder insurers' profits.
The revelations are so significant that Congress should launch an immediate investigation and hold public hearings before the House and Senate schedule final votes on health care reform. Please sign our petition demanding an investigation now.
Perhaps you are making some year-end decisions to donate money in a way that makes a real difference. If you have not contributed recently, I would urge you to support SourceWatch and the work of the Center for Media and Democracy. Here is one more reason why: your donation makes possible CMD's crucial work on global warming and the fight to stop the destructive and dangerous use of coal.
My friend, author and activist Ted Nace, is CMD's partner in the CoalSwarm wiki inside SourceWatch. Ted has written a new book titled Climate Hope: On the Front Lines of the Fight Against Coal, his most recent since his much-lauded Gangs of America. Climate Hope tells a dramatic story:
When US power companies revealed plans to build over 150 new coal-fired power plants, climate scientists sounded the alarm. If this wave of massive plants were built, there would be little chance of preventing greenhouse gases from reaching truly dangerous levels. In response to the crisis, hundreds of local and regional groups, along with a handful of national groups, rose to the challenge of blocking the wave of proposals. Through courageous action on a variety of fronts -- from sit-ins at coal mines to blockades at big-city banks -- the anti-coal movement succeeded ins stopping over 100 power plant proposals, bringing the coal boom largely to a halt.
The Center for Media and Democracy is playing a crucial role in this struggle through our partnership with Ted in creating the CoalSwarm wiki. Ted tells this story in his book, excerpted below. It's a success story that many other activists and organizations working on other issues could also repeat if they would follow Ted's example and partner with CMD to create their own wiki inside SourceWatch.
As you read this excerpt below, please consider donating to CMD's important work maintaining SourceWatch. As you see, it is a dynamic online information system that is invaluable to environmental, social justice and democracy activists, as well as journalists and the public at large. Success like this, often unheralded, is only possible with your ongoing support.
The University of Colorado at Boulder has accepted a $12.1 million grant from cigarette maker Philip Morris (PM) to put on "Life Skills Training" (LST) programs in middle schools, nominally aimed at reducing students' use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
Notwithstanding that a federal court in 2006 found Philip Morris guilty of engaging in 50 years of public fraud and racketeering, a 2006 peer-reviewed study of tobacco industry documents conducted by the University of California San Francisco's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education looked at why tobacco companies so robustly promote Life Skills Training. They found that since 1999, PM and Brown & Williamson have both worked to disseminate Life Skills Training programs into schools across the country. Why? As part of their effort, the two companies hired a public relations firm to evaluate the program. The evaluation showed that LST was not effective at reducing smoking, after either the first or second year of implementing the program. Despite this, the tobacco companies have continued to eagerly award grants to implement the program.