Executives from major American corporations are calling for greater transparency in election spending, alleging the shadowy, secretly-funded groups that spent hundreds of millions on the 2010 elections are distorting the democratic process. Groups like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, they say, will spend an increasing amount in future elections and political scandal will follow. Meanwhile, Wisconsin leaders promote even greater election secrecy.
Across the country on September 1, nurses will converge on local congressional offices to demand a tax on Wall Street financial speculation, a move they say is a step towards healing the nation, trimming the deficit, and preserving social programs.
National Nurses United (NNU) is planning a day of action in over 60 congressional offices in 21 states. In Wisconsin, the group is sponsoring a soup kitchen outside of Rep. Paul Ryan's Janesville office "to provide residents with the sustenance they are not getting from Paul Ryan," says NNU spokesman Charles Idelson.
Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan's focus on cutting federal social programs apparently leaves little time to deal with the unemployed in his district, according to constituents who have been staging a sit-in at his Kenosha, Wisconsin office since last week, and who were barred from Ryan's office by police on Wednesday.
It's our responsibility as journalists to let the public know who is paid by what corporation, or if they're representing the government. Otherwise, it's unforgivable. The media is our lens on the world. And it is absolutely critical we trust the media. Because, ultimately, when people are terrorized, when people are targeted, when people are marginalized, that does not make any of us safer.
- Amy Goodman, interview in "Programming the Nation?" documentary
Dr. Bruce Kinosian still makes house calls, and he's proud of it. In fact, he introduces himself as a physician who goes to see his patients in their homes rather than insisting that they come to see him at his office.
He's convinced that if more doctors did what he does, we could eliminate billions of dollars we currently spend in this country in an often-futile -- and almost always incredibly expensive -- effort to get people well.
Much of that savings, he says, would accrue to the Medicare program, making it unnecessary for Congress to even consider eliminating benefits or raising the eligibility age.
Kinosian, associate professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, is a leading advocate of the Independence at Home (IAH) program, which quietly has been saving the Department of Veteran's Affairs (and taxpayers) lots of money -- and improving the quality of life for thousands of veterans -- for nearly three decades.
By Lisa Graves and Brendan Fischer (initially published by TruthOut.org).
"Model" bills voted on by corporations through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) touch almost every aspect of American life. The Center for Media and Democracy has analyzed and made available over 800 ALEC model bills to allow other reporters and the public to track corporate influence in state legislatures across the country (and in Congress) at ALECExposed.org. Here is a quick summary of six of the many "hot" topics on the ALEC corporate-politician agenda this year.
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.
Walid Shoebat is a Palestinian-American who converted from Islam to conservative Christianity. He was born in the West Bank to an American mother, claims he was a terrorist with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, that he helped fire-bomb an Israeli bank in Bethlehem as a youth and even served time in a jail in Israel for his crimes. A self-proclaimed expert on terrorism, Shoebat says he knows how potential terrorists think, because he was one. Since 2006, he has been interviewed as a terrorism expert on CNN, Fox News and HLN. In May, Shoebat was a featured speaker at a forum put on by South Dakota's Office of Homeland Security for police and sheriff's deputies, where he earned a $5,000 fee for his appearance. In his presentations, Shoebat warns that Islam and terrorism are one in the same, that mosques are hotbeds of potential terrorist organizing and tells his audiences to be wary of Muslim doctors, engineers and students. Shoebat operates several foundations, one of which earned over $500,000 in 2009 through sales of his books and videos, and speaking fees for talks he gives at churches, universities, military bases and counterterrorism trainings. But Shoebat may not be what he claims to be. CNN's Jerusalem bureau conducted an extensive investigation into his background and was unable to substantiate Shoebat's claims of past terrorist activity. The Tel Aviv headquarters of the bank that Shoebat claims to have fire-bombed has no record of a fire-bombing at its Bethlehem branch, and Israeli police have no record of it, either. The prison where Shoebat says he was incarcerated has no record of him being an inmate there, and his relatives describe him as a "regular kid" who eventually became a computer programmer in the U.S. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation in Albuquerque, New Mexico first exposed in 2008 that portions of Shoebat's past were fabricated.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) may appear on the surface to mimic the bipartisan educational archetype of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), but ALEC's corporate governance structure, near total reliance on corporate funding, and strong ties to legislators from predominantly one political party make it distinctly different.