News

KURTZ: Increasingly, nonprofits fill a need for investigative reporting

June 21, 2010
Howard Kurtz

In a seventh-floor conference room festooned with framed articles and journalism awards, Managing Editor Gordon Witkin leads the morning discussion of stories his staff is pursuing.

Their latest scoop -- on members of Congress dumping their BP stock -- "was a big success," he says. "It was in an AP story that sent it everywhere, including Yahoo and Google News."

On the front burner, a dozen staffers around the table explain, is a joint series just approved by the New York Times. A piece underway with The Washington Post is being edited. There was a "tough conference call," says international director David Kaplan, with eight London producers on a 10-segment project with the BBC.

More Info: 

Original article here...

AP: Residents oppose challenge to Alabama voting rights law

June 25, 2010

BIRMINGHAM — Some black residents in Shelby County, backed by the NAACP and ACLU, are seeking to challenge the county's attempt to have parts of the Voting Rights Act ruled unconstitutional.

The county's lawsuit contends that conditions that kept minorities from voting years ago are a thing of the past.

The U.S. Department of Justice this week responded for the first time to the lawsuit, in which the county asked for a summary judgment. The government said in a motion that the U.S. attorney general opposes a summary judgment and has had no opportunity to gather information in the case.

MERCURY NEWS: CA cities vote to pay more taxes to help schools

June 26, 2010
Terence Chea

To help protect their schools from California's unrelenting budget crisis, some communities are voting to pay more property taxes to preserve teacher jobs, smaller class sizes and electives such as art and music.

So far this year, more than 20 districts have held elections for school parcel taxes, which are levied on individual parcels of property, and at least 16 have approved them. More districts are trying to place such measures on the ballot later this year.

But the tax measures, which require a two-thirds majority to pass, are mostly winning approval in smaller, wealthier districts, according to education experts, raising worries about growing inequality between schools in rich and poor communities.

AMERICAN JOURNALISM REVIEW: Cappuccino and Citizen Journalism

July 1, 2010
Abby Brownback

Many would argue that news and coffee go together like salt and pepper. A hyperlocal site in Freehold, New Jersey, is willing to bet this holds true for newsrooms and coffee shops.

The site, Freehold InJersey, is one of 14 Gannett-owned community news blogs across the state. But this one, run by the Asbury Park Press, is the only one to integrate its newsroom into a local coffee shop where citizen journalists can interact with fellow members of the community.

"My biggest hope was that people would just come and chat with us," Editor Colleen Curry says. "The site really wants to facilitate discussion in the community. We want to remove the barrier that exists in print journalism."

More Info: 

Original article here...

ACLU: Georgia's voter-registration racially discriminatory

July 7, 2010

WASHINGTON - July 7 - The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Georgia and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers' Committee) filed a motion late yesterday in a Washington, D.C. federal court to intervene in a challenge to the Voting Rights Act brought by the state of Georgia. The civil rights coalition is defending the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Act and challenging the state's flawed and racially discriminatory voter-registration practices.

Section 5 has protected racial and language minorities' access to voting across the South and the nation since 1965 and requires some states with a history of discrimination in voting procedures to submit new procedures for federal review before they are implemented.

More Info: 

ACLU motion for intervention here...

Department of Justice letter blocking Georgia's voter verification procedures here...

Denver Direct: Monahan Brothers reach Denver in march against corporate personhood

July 15, 2010

The Monahan Brothers stopped in Denver last week on their coast-to-coast march against corporate personhood and corporate control of our government and politics. The local blog Denver Direct had this report and video:

SUZY KHIMM: Are the Corporate Money Floodgates About to Open?

August 2, 2010
Suzy Khimm

 

In the months immediately following the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, corporations seemed to be sitting on the sidelines instead of delving directly into the campaign finance free-for-all that the decision opened up. Instead, it was labor unions that leapt to take advantage of the lifted restrictions, outspending  corporations on independent campaign ads by nearly threefold in the first six months of 2010. But now there's mounting evidence that some of the nation's most visible and powerful corporations have entered the fray.
 

VIDEO: MoveOn 'Stand for Democracy' Rally in Chicago

August 10, 2010

This August 10 rally in Chicago was just one of hundreds of "Stand for Democracy" events organized across the country by MoveOn.org to speak out against corporate control of our political system.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Corporate Campaign Fundraising Picks Up Speed

August 11, 2010
Laura Bonham, Progressive Democrats of America

In an August 2 Los Angeles Times story, writer Tom Hamburger from the Times Washington Bureau reports that business and conservative groups are preparing to spend significant sums of money to defeat Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections.  Recent rulings by the Supreme Court allow unlimited spending by corporations and unions for some electioneering activities.

 
The Chamber of Commerce is just one organization that plans to use their newly acquired personhood rights:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest collection point for corporate contributions, has increased its spending for the congressional election in November from $35 million in 2008 to a projected $75 million this year. Officials say it may go even higher.
 

Move to Amend rallies with the Monahans in Kansas City and Des Moines

August 12, 2010
Marybeth Gardam

On Monday August 9th at 2:30pm, several of our Iowa Move To Amend (IA MTA) folks departed Des Moines for a rally in Kansas City, Missouri, three hours away, and participated in the 6:00 pm rally to welcome the Monahan Brothers at the Plaza Fountain in downtown Kansas City.  The Plaza is in the heart of corporate Kansas City, surrounded by a very decorative campus of big corporate stores and restaurants and the gigantic 'anchor' corporate entity in Kansas City, Hallmark Corporation.
 

Over 100 people stood up for “Abolishing Corporate Personhood.”  Signs and banners were abundant, and a women’s drum circle welcomed rally participants.  Water was provided at this scorching hot evening.  Folk singers sang about 'Corporate Kings' and Corporate Personhood as a threat to democracy. Speakers from the Green Party, the AFSC, and the local independent television station spoke. I spoke too, as a representative of the National Move To Amend Steering Committee, and so did Laird Monahan who is walking across America this summer with his brother Robin.  
 
More Info: 

See photos of the Kansas City rally here.

For more information about Iowa Move to Amend, contact ia.movetoamend@gmail.com

COLLINS: My Favorite August

August 16, 2010
by Gail Collins

 

The story in American history I most like to tell is the one about how women got the right to vote 90 years ago this month. It has everything. Adventure! Suspense! Treachery! Drunken legislators!
 
But, first, there was a 70-year slog.
 
Which is really the important part. We always need to remember that behind almost every great moment in history, there are heroic people doing really boring and frustrating things for a prolonged period of time.

NYC Public Advocate website tracks corporate campaign spending pledges

August 20, 2010
Barbara Clancy, Alliance for Democracy

In his position as Public Advocate for the City of New York, Bill de Blasio acts as an ombudsman between city residents and city government. Ensuring the accountability of elected officials to the public is his job, and to his credit he sees the influence of corporate money in politics as a real threat to the public good.

In a recent piece in The Nation, he writes that the GOP block of the DISCLOSE Act, 90 days before the midterm elections, compels us "to fight back and take on corporations directly."

De Blasio's response has been to demand through his office that individual corporations pledge not to spend money on campaigns. Negotiations with Goldman Sachs led to the banking and securities group agreeing to forgo spending corporate cash directly in elections; talks are now on with Google. And as a resource for public activism, the office has created a website that lists the US's 100 largest companies, and their public stands on campaign spending.

TRUTHDIG: Fox and Friends Trying to Bully and Buy Their Way Back to Power

August 24, 2010
Bill Boyarsky

Fox News and its boss, Roger Ailes, along with Karl Rove and unlimited corporate campaign contributions, pose an enormous threat to President Barack Obama and Democratic candidates this fall.

Although they may not be working in tandem, they pursue common goals: Republicans winning control of Congress in 2010, defeating Obama two years later and restoring conservative business-first Republican policies.

To understand Fox’s importance, think of it as a political campaign rather than a news operation.

NOLAN: The Top Ten Universities for Student Debt

August 24, 2010
Hamilton Nolan

For-profit" colleges have come under fire for saddling students with big debts in exchange for dim job prospects. But what about "real" colleges? They're pushing huge debts on students, too. We crunched the numbers to find the worst (NYU).

More Info: 

OTT: Hide and Leak

August 25, 2010
Riki Ott

On July 15, BP managed to finally seal its broken Macondo wellhead and stop the oil that had been hemorrhaging into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days. The very next week, as I was driving up the Florida coast, locals kept pointing out to me where cleanup workers were packing up and pulling out. From Crawfordville through to Carrabelle, and Port St. Joe to Pensacola, the booms were disappearing, the crew tents folded up and removed from beaches.

The well had been capped, after all. The gusher had stopped. Game over. Everyone can go home, right?

Not even close. If all goes according to plan, the relief well should provide a more permanent fix. But that hasn’t been the nature of this disaster. Every time BP thought it had the solution, something somehow went wrong. At the time of this writing, at least one oil seep had sprung in the ocean floor near the well as the pressure from the plug found other releases; methane, too, looked to be leaking. And BP was, once again, dodging the government’s requests for more monitoring.

More Info: 

Riki Ott is author of Not One Drop (Chelsea Green, 2008) and director of Ultimate Civics, a project of Earth Island Institute, and a steering committee member of MoveToAmend.org.

Ten Candidates File Suit as 'Massive Improprieties, Tampering' Seen in Shelby County, TN, Election

August 27, 2010
Brad Friedman

While barreling westward across the Great Plains yesterday, I received an urgent text message from Bev Harris of the non-partisan election integrity watchdog organization BlackBoxVoting.org. She and Susan Pynchon, an election integrity advocate from Florida Fair Elections Coalition, had traveled to Shelby County (Memphis), Tennessee, following reports of massive voter disenfranchisement during the state's August 5th elections.

She and Pynchon have been in the county, on behalf of a number of the candidates affected by the apparent disaster for the last two weeks.

GERLING: Lakoff and Westen Miss the Constitutional Elephant in the Room

September 3, 2010
Kelly Gerling

Professor Drew Westen wrote an article on Huffington Post about the coming election that gained the attention of Professor George Lakoff. Westen’s article is called: What Created the Populist Explosion and How Democrats Can Avoid the Shrapnel in November.

More Info: 

Kelly Gerling has over three decades of experience as a change agent in many roles, including as a counselor, hypnotherapist, marriage and family therapist, life coach, mediator, workshop leader, leadership facilitator, NLP trainer, public speaker, and writer.

HIGHTOWER: Two Multibillionaire Brothers Are Remaking America for Their Own Benefit

September 9, 2010
Jim Hightower

There's a difference between being paranoid and being suspicious. Paranoia is mental disturbance; suspicion is a rational deduction.

For example, if you suspect that America's economy, politics, government, media, judiciary and practically every other system has been wired to favor corporate interests over every other interest in our country, you're deducing, not hallucinating. From the infamous Wall Street bailout to the Supreme Court's shameful decree that corporations have more political rights than humans, we see again and again that corporate might overwhelms what's right.

SCAHILL: Blackwater's Black Ops

September 18, 2010
Jeremy Scahill

More Info: 

Jeremy Scahill, a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute, is the author of the bestselling Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, published by Nation Books. He is an award-winning investigative journalist and correspondent for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!.

NEW YORK TIMES: The Secret Election

September 20, 2010

[Editor's note: Although the measure promoted by this New York Times editorial, full public disclosure of corporate money in politics, does not go far enough, the editorial does get right the massive corrupting effect that Citizens United is having on our political system. For a more effective, long-term response, join the movement to abolish corporate personhood by passing a resolution in your own hometown.]

NEW YORK TIMES: Anonymous money floods political races

September 20, 2010
Michael Luo

Outside groups supporting Republican candidates in House and Senate races across the country have been swamping their Democratic-leaning counterparts on television since early August as the midterm election season has begun heating up.

Driving the disparity in the ad wars has been an array of Republican-oriented organizations that are set up so they can accept donations of unlimited size from individuals and corporations without having to disclose them. The situation raises the possibility that a relatively small cadre of deep-pocketed donors, unknown to the general public, is shaping the battle for Congress in the early going.

PUBLIC NEWS SERVICE: Corporate $$$ = Free Political Speech: Two Brothers Can't Take It Sitting Down

September 27, 2010
Dan Heyman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Unable to take it anymore, two retired brothers from California are walking across the country to protest court decisions they say have given far too much political power to corporations. They entered West Virginia on Sunday, on their way to Washington, D.C., and are in Charleston today.

Spurred by the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that corporations have the right to free speech in the form of unlimited spending for political advertisments, 67-year-old Robin Monahan and his older brother, Laird, are protesting the court treating corporations like people. Robin says that calling money a form of speech lets big companies overwhelm democracy.

Move to Amend Member Nominated for Huffington Post’s 2010 “Ultimate Green Game Changer”

September 29, 2010

Riki Ott, PhD, Executive Director of Ultimate Civics and member of Move to Amend, has been nominated as one of Huffington Post’s “Ultimate Game Changers.” The award honors people who make significant contributions to the way we look at the world and the way we live in it. Ott has spent the past five months in the Gulf of Mexico responding to to BP’s Deepwater Horizon
disaster.

“I arrived in the Gulf of Mexico on May 3 with two goals: to coach Gulf residents on what to anticipate so they could prepare proper responses to BP’s disaster, and to gain a foothold in the Deep South for future organizing work with the democracy movement.”

LA TIMES: Senator asks IRS to investigate tax-exempt groups' political spending

September 30, 2010
Michael A. Memoli

A senior Democratic senator asked the IRS Wednesday to investigate third-party groups he says are manipulating tax-exempt status for political gain.

Since the Supreme Court's ruling on Citizens United vs. the FEC, political spending by such outside groups has exploded. Democrats have long said that because such spending has favored Republican candidates, the party's advantage in fundraising over Republican counterparts has been neutralized.

More Info: 

Full text of Baucus' letter below, as posted by David Swanson (emphasis added.)

WASHINGTON POST: Supreme Court rulings enable frenzy of campaign spending

October 4, 2010
T.W. Farnam and Dan Eggen

Interest groups are spending five times as much on the 2010 congressional elections as they did on the last midterms, and they are more secretive than ever about where that money is coming from.

The $80 million spent so far by groups outside the Democratic and Republican parties dwarfs the $16 million spent at this point for the 2006 midterms. In that election, the vast majority of money - more than 90 percent - was disclosed along with donors' identities. This year, that figure has fallen to less than half of the total, according to data analyzed by The Washington Post.

The trends amount to a spending frenzy conducted largely in the shadows.

SWANSON: Law professors and former Attorneys General call for constitutional amendment

October 4, 2010
David Swanson

[Editor's Note: The article below refers to the Edwards-Conyers amendment, H.J. Res. 74, which proposes an amendment to the Constitution permitting Congress and the States to regulate the expenditure of funds by corporations engaging in political speech. Move to Amend agrees that this proposed amendment is a step in the right direction, but also believes that fully overturning the false doctrine that money is speech and that corporations are persons entitled to constitutional rights requires a stronger pro-democracy amendment.]

PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: The Pro-Corporate Players in our Post-Citizens United Politics

October 11, 2010

WASHINGTON - A new report by People For the American Way profiles the work of nine organizations that are funneling money, in many cases from undisclosed donors, to help elect pro-corporate candidates in the 2010 elections. Many of the groups originated in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. Others were already established, but have been thriving in a system that allows them to take unlimited corporate money without disclosing their donors.

THINK PROGRESS: Foreign-Funded ‘U.S.’ Chamber Of Commerce Running Partisan Attack Ads

October 11, 2010

The largest attack campaign against Democrats this fall is being waged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a trade association organized as a 501(c)(6) that can raise and spend unlimited funds without ever disclosing any of its donors. The Chamber has promised to spend an unprecedented
$75 million to defeat candidates like Jack Conway, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jerry Brown, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), and Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA).

HUFFINGTON POST: Cross-Country Walk Opposing Corporate Personhood

October 19, 2010
Robert Koehler

Unchecked corporate power is a serious threat to the country's, and the planet's, future. I applaud the effort of two citizens, Laird and Robin Monohan, to draw attention to the ghastly absurdity known as "corporate personhood," which a Supreme Court ruling last January advanced.

Move To Amend recently issued a press release about the brothers' cross-country effort.

CORPWATCH: Citizens United v. America's Citizens: A Voter's Guide

October 24, 2010
Charlie Cray

The midterm elections are days away, but the winners are virtually certain: the corporations and conservative operatives like Karl Rove who have taken advantage of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling to establish a well-heeled “shadow party” of networked trade associations and G.O.P. front groups (See a detailed list of these organizations below.)

NEW YORK TIMES: Top Corporations Aid U.S. Chamber of Commerce Campaign

October 24, 2010
Eric Lipton, Mike McIntire and Don Van Natta Jr.

Prudential Financial sent in a $2 million donation last year as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce kicked off a national advertising campaign to weaken the historic rewrite of the nation’s financial regulations.

Dow Chemical delivered $1.7 million to the chamber last year as the group took a leading role in aggressively fighting proposed rules that would impose tighter security requirements on chemical facilities.

CLANCY: The Journey Ends but Quest Has Just Begun

October 26, 2010
Barbara Clancy

Joined by family and fellow activists, and cheered by demonstrators and curious onlookers alike, Laird and Robin Monahan finished their cross-country walk Wednesday, October 20, with a clarion cal to “follow in their footsteps” and build locally for a national movement to amend the Constitution to end corporate personhood.

BROOKS: Class War

November 5, 2010
David Brooks

Four years ago, Warren Buffett, the third richest man on the planet, said, "Of course there is a class war, but it's my class, the rich class, that is waging the war, and we're winning."

This mid-term election in the United States is a front of the class war. Business interests and the wealthy have declared war against anything that dares to impose controls on them, limit their activities or touch their fortunes, and they say so, explicitly and openly.

The vast majority of funds that are invested in what is already the most expensive mid-term election in history (it is expected to exceed, perhaps by far, 3.5 billion dollars) comes from billionaire donors, companies and groups representing the wealthy class.

GALLAGHER: European election observers find secret funding undermines democracy in U.S.

November 21, 2010
Tom Gallagher

Ever wonder what our elections look like to the rest of the world? Well, this year we have at least one ready-made answer at hand - the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the group that primarily comments on elections in former Soviet, Yugoslav or "Soviet Bloc" nations, actually sent a team to observe the recent American mid-term elections. On the whole, the observers thought that "the vote reflected the will of the people," but they did find a few things they thought were off: the multiplicity of voting systems in use throughout the country, the lack of an ID requirement and - above all - the large and growing impact of money.

NICHOLS AND MCCHESNEY: The Money & Media Election Complex

November 21, 2010
John Nichols and Bob McChesney

Like the wizard telling the people of Oz to "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain," Karl Rove used media appearances at the close of the 2010 midterm campaign to dismiss President Obama's complaints that Republican consultants, led by the former White House political czar, were distorting Senate and House races across the country with a flood of money—hundreds of millions of dollars—from multinational corporations and billionaire conservatives into Senate and House races. "Obama looks weirdly disconnected—and slightly obsessive—when he talks so much about the Chamber of Commerce, Ed Gillespie and me," Rove mused. "The president has already wasted one-quarter of the campaign's final four weeks on this sideshow."

HEDGES: A Brave New Dystopia

December 29, 2010
Chris Hedges

The two greatest visions of a future dystopia were George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” The debate, between those who watched our descent towards corporate totalitarianism, was who was right. Would we be, as Orwell wrote, dominated by a repressive surveillance and security state that used crude and violent forms of control? Or would we be, as Huxley envisioned, entranced by entertainment and spectacle, captivated by technology and seduced by profligate consumption to embrace our own oppression? It turns out Orwell and Huxley were both right. Huxley saw the first stage of our enslavement. Orwell saw the second.

BLUMENTHAL: In 2011, Tax Laws May Result in More Advertising from Post-Citizens United Groups

December 29, 2010
Paul Blumenthal

One week ago, immediately prior to the votes on the tax cut deal reached between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans, the independent group Crossroads GPS ran $400,000 worth of issue advertisements in twelve congressional districts calling for the Democrats who occupied them to support full extension of all of the Bush-era tax cuts. Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit created by Republican operatives in the wake of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, was giving the American public a sneak peek at the next torrent of political ads.  

KANNER: Shasta and Goliath: Bringing Down Corporate Rule

December 29, 2010
Allen D. Kanner

Mt. Shasta, a small northern California town of 3,500 residents nestled in the foothills of magnificent Mount Shasta, is taking on corporate power through an unusual process—democracy.

THE NATION: Move to Amend is "Top Idea of 2010"

December 30, 2010
John Nichols

The year 2010 will not be remembered as a halcyon year for progressives. But in such years the truest believers and battlers stand out all the more clearly, and patterns are set for the victories of the years to come. Here, then, are the Most Valuable Progressives of 2010:

 

HIGHTOWER: 8 Ways We're Making America a Better Place

January 2, 2011
Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower has included Move To Amend in his list, "8 Ways We're Making America a Better Place -- in Spite of the Disasters Coming out of Washington."

Describing the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case as a "constitutional coup," Hightower goes on to celebrate the efforts of "Ordinary people, who usually pay little attention to arcane court decisions, [who] grasped the import of this one from the moment it was issued, and 80 percent oppose it (including 76 percent of Republicans)." He describes Move To Amend, along with efforts to win public financing of campaigns,  as "two important, though little reported, uprisings across the country."