$1,000 bounty: How do your members of Congress spend their day?

Our friends over at the Sunlight Network kicked off their Punch Clock Campaign today, which is offering a $1,000 "bounty" to any citizen who can get a member of Congress (or $250 for their challenger) to publicly post their daily schedule on the Internet. It's an intriguing new twist on the citizen muckraking model exemplified by the blogger campaign to reveal the senators that placed a secret hold on the earmark transparency bill.

They've already gotten one response, from Texan Alvis Yardley, who says that Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) is refusing to release his calendar due to "national security concerns"—despite the fact that the pledge only asks for the previous day's calendar. Guess we can't let the terrorists know where Carter was yesterday.

Update: Congress vs. the President

A few weeks ago, we first posted on the subject of presidential signing statements. At that time, we issued a challenge to all the citizen journalists out there to help us pin down the positions of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sen. Arlen Specter's (R-Pa.) Presidential Signing Statements Act, where the bill currently resides. The bill would grant Congress the right to file suit in order to determine the constitutionality of signing statements.

Another Setback for Logging Company's $A6.9 Million SLAPP

Victorian Supreme Court judge Justice Bernard Bongiorno has struck out the third statement of claim in a SLAPP suit by the Australian logging company Gunns. In December 2004, Gunns initiated the legal action against 20 environmentalists and environmental groups, over their campaign against the logging of old-growth and wilderness forests.


E-Voting Company Settles Lawsuit, Gets Religion

The electronic voting machine company Election Systems & Software (ES&S) "agreed to a $750,000 settlement that resolves complaints filed after its software caused delays for some Indiana voters and election officials during the state's May primary," reports the Associated Press.


Drug Company's Hearing Too Sensitive For Criticism

Tebonin Pharmacy PromotionOne of the marketing success stories in the world of herbal pills is the hype and advertising that has made Tebonin one of the big-time sellers. If you believe the ads, popping a Tebonin pill a day will relieve tinnitus (the ringing sound some people have in their ears), dizziness and even improve mental alertness. The promoters claim the drug, which is based on a patented extract from the ginkgo biloba tree, improves "impaired micro-circulation," reduces "free radicals" and "promotes optimum cell function."

According to the German manufacturer, Dr. Willmar Schwabe GmbH & Co KG, eight million pills are consumed every day. Schwabe, like so many companies in the herbal supplements sector, trades on its feel-good image. "From Nature, For Health," its website claims. That's the story the company wants you to hear. However, when a small group of Australian doctors and pharmacists, AusPharm Consumer Health Watch, drafted a report raising doubts about the benefits of Tebonin, they discovered a company that was not so warm and fuzzy. Soon after sending a copy of their draft report to the company, they were hit with a writ seeking an injunction that may bury their critical assessment forever.

Congress vs. The President

About two weeks ago, on July 26, 2006, the American Bar Association issued a report condemning President Bush's use of "signing statements." These statements are essentially a "P.S." written underneath his signature on a piece of legislation that states how he interprets and intends to enforce the law. (This is part of the Unitary Executive Theory.)

The ABA is not happy about this. From the press release for the report:

"Presidential signing statements that assert President Bush’s authority to disregard or decline to enforce laws adopted by Congress undermine the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers... To address these concerns, the task force urges Congress to adopt legislation enabling its members to seek court review of signing statements that assert the President’s right to ignore or not enforce laws passed by Congress, and urges the President to veto bills he feels are not constitutional."

The ABA asked and it shall receive: two days later Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) filed a bill that would allow the House or Senate to file a lawsuit to have the Supreme Court rule on the constitutionality of signing statements.

Here's where Congresspedia comes in. I called Sen. Specter's office and confirmed that while the bill has been referred to Specter's Senate Judiciary Committee, there has yet to be a hearing and no other Senators have signed up to be cosponsors. So, where do members of the Senate stand on Specter's bill? Citizen journalists, help us find out.

Did Consultants Cook the UK Nuclear Review Books?

"I wondered why [nuclear power] was being pushed and pushed and pushed," said British parliamentarian Dai Davies, in response to news that "key consultants" working on the UK National Energy Review "have strong links to the nuclear industry." The Observer reports that AEA Technology handled public submissions for the review.



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