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July 2004

Mega Labels Monopolizing. Down to 4.

Sent by Chris Castiglione []

Sony and BMG just got approved to merge by the EU's anti-trust organization. So this brings the number of mega labels that own 99% of all music down from five to four. I'm sure the result will be more variety, AND less repetition. Joy!

See article: sony.bmg.merger.ap/index.html

613,000 former Florida felons may not get to vote

From the Miami Herald, By BY JAY WEAVER

A federal appeals court on Tuesday delayed indefinitely a long-awaited Miami trial to decide whether more than 600,000 former felons in Florida could have their voting rights automatically restored.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta agreed to reconsider an earlier appellate panel's order to hold the trial on Florida's 136-year-old law that bars felons from voting.

The ruling disappointed advocates for ex-felons who say the law is racially discriminatory because blacks comprise a disproportionate number of the former convicts.


Grand Jury Steps Up Inquiry Into Possible Halliburton Ties to Iran

From the LA Times, By T. Christian Miller and Peter Wallsten, Times Staff Writers

WASHINGTON — A Halliburton controversy erupted Tuesday, fueled by a grand jury investigation into whether the oil services giant violated federal sanctions by operating in Iran while Vice President Dick Cheney was running the company.

The investigation centers on Halliburton Products and Services Ltd., a subsidiary registered in the Cayman Islands and headquartered in Dubai that provided oil field services in Iran. The unit's operations in Iran included Cheney's stint as chief executive from 1995 to 2000, when he frequently urged the lifting of such sanctions.


Urge the Federal Trade Commission fight Fox News' deceptive programing

Dear Common Cause Member,

Thanks to all of you who participated in the house parties last weekend featuring the film "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdochs's War on Journalism." More than 30,000 people from various media reform groups gathered in living rooms and cafes across the country. The film confirmed in vivid detail what many already knew: Fox News Channel ("FNC" or "Fox") is neither "fair" nor "balanced," but intentionally designed to promote a partisan point of view.

In response to the film and the positive reaction from our members, Common Cause and are launching a petition to urge the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to initiate a complaint against Rupert Murdoch's FNC for deceptive practices in the advertising and marketing of its news programs.

Please sign the petition and urge your friends and family to do the same. Our goal is to collect hundreds of thousand of signatures to impress upon the FTC that Fox's use of the slogan "fair and balanced" is unacceptable and should be stopped.

We believe Fox News Channel has violated FTC rules and that FNC programming is intentionally and unapologetically one-sided, as evidenced by the Outfoxed film and recent studies by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).

While Fox has no legal obligation to be "fair" or "balanced," the Federal Trade Commission Act requires that it not use deceptive ads to promote its programs. By any objective standards, FNC's programming is neither "fair" nor "balanced:" For example,

  • FNC Network management instructs line producers and correspondents to structure their coverage of events in a way that specifically promotes the positions of the current Administration and the Republican Party.
  • A study of the "Special report with Brit Hume" for the last six months of 2003 concluded that conservative guests outnumbered progressive guests five to one.
  • A recent survey showed that much higher percentages of viewers whose main source of news is FNC have misperceptions about indisputable facts about the war in Iraq, than do viewers of other news outlets.
So please sign our petition and join us in taking on Fox at:

Also, view the O'Reilly Links ShutUp_Final_large.wmv
Windows Media (Broadband) ShutUp_Final_small.wmv
Windows Media (56k Modem)

Thank you again.

The Common Cause Team

Call Murdoch before Congress

Dear MoveOn member,
In just hours, more than 200,000 of us have signed our Fox petition. Thank you. We've filed the complaint with the FTC, and we'll soon deliver petitions to members of Congress, but things are moving even faster than we expected and we need your help.

Several members of the House have drafted a letter asking Rupert Murdoch to come before them to discuss how he'll correct the partisan bias at Fox. Urge your Representative today to co-sign the letter to Murdoch.

Just call:

Representative Martin T. Meehan
DC Phone: 202-225-3411
Local Phone: 978-459-0101

Make sure the staffers know you're a constituent. Then ask your Representative to:

"Please ask Rupert Murdoch to meet with members of Congress to address the partisan bias at Fox News."
Be sure to give some reasons why this is important to you.
Please let us know you're making this call, click here

Murdoch's News Corporation is one of a handful of media conglomerates deciding what we see, hear, and read. By requesting a meeting with him, members of Congress will send the message that public frustration with the media demands accountability and action. The timing is perfect, because this afternoon dozens of members of Congress will be viewing Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism in a special showing.

Fox News is in the hot seat for pretending its partisan programming is real news coverage. Outfoxed is now the best-selling DVD on All the major newspapers are asking whether Fox is "fair and balanced." Editorial cartoonists are poking fun at Fox's Republican slant. Now Congress is taking up the issue as well.

Last winter, major media executives had to come before Congress to answer for indecent programming. Will Murdoch have to answer for partisan content disguised as objective news? The answer depends on our phone calls today.

Please take a few minutes to tell Rep. Meehan to ask Rupert Murdoch what he plans to do about the journalistic crisis at Fox News.

Then enjoy this great editorial cartoon about Fox's Republican favor:
click here

Meanwhile, Doonesbury has been "interviewing" Rupert Murdoch all week:
click here

Wes Boyd and Noah T. Winer
July 21st, 2004

Important: The independent media website, AlterNet, is challenging Fox News' absurd trademark of "fair and balanced" -- the motto of all journalists. This is David taking on Goliath. It's really important that we support AlterNet in this effort. You can make a contribution to AlterNet's legal fund and receive Outfoxed as a gift, click here

1. Congressional letter to Rupert Murdoch
click here

2. "Fox News documentary tops Amazon sales chart," Guardian UK
click here

3. "Activists Ask FTC to Take Action Against Fox News," Editor and Publisher
click here

"Fox News slogan challenged," AP
click here

Trampling of Freedom

See the link

A husband and wife who wore anti-Bush T-shirts to the president¹s Fourth of July appearance aren¹t going down without a fight: They will be represented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union as they contest the trespassing charges against them Thursday morning in Charleston Municipal Court.

Police took Nicole and Jeff Rank away in handcuffs from the event, which was billed as a presidential appearance, not a campaign rally. They were wearing T-shirts that read, "Love America, Hate Bush."

Spectators who wore pro-Bush T-shirts and Bush-Cheney campaign buttons were allowed to stay.

"We weren't doing anything wrong," said Jeff Rank. The couple, who said they had tickets just like everybody else, said they simply stood around the
Capitol steps with the rest of the spectators.

"We sang the national anthem,"Rank said.

man, this shit had better draw to an end in november or we are SO screwed.

- tyler / battery cage

Media for Democracy Launches
Community-by-Community Campaign

On Monday, July 19th 2004, Media for Democracy is in Washington, DC to officially launch an important initiative to "Win Back the Airwaves -- One Station at a Time." The initiative joins our members, Community by Community, in groups that will urge local stations to serve their viewers by pledging to air better election coverage.

We are launching this grassroots effort as part of a powerful alliance with 20 other public policy and media reform groups -- including Common Cause, Citizens for Digital Democracy, Free Press and the Alliance for Better Campaigns -- that stand with Media for Democracy members in our ongoing fight for media that is more diverse, democratic and accountable to the public interest. Two sympathetic FCC commissioners will also be at our side. (See the announcement below).

If you haven't signed on already, you can join this important campaign by registering to meet with others in your community. Please take a moment to join the effort: click here or here

Register to meet up with others about your local broadcasters click here

Learn more about the Community-by-Community Campaign click here

Moody Memos Set the Stage for the 'Fox Effect'

This is a gem that is from It's a series of memos from John Moody, Senior Vice President of Fox News Editorial, spanning from 5.09.2003 to 5.05.2004.

Click here and learn how (y)our "news" is shaped.

Victory on Marriage Equality

Dear MoveOn Member,
Today, July 14th 2004, we won a huge victory, thanks to you. President Bush failed to pass his Constitutional amendment denying marriage equality to same- sex couples. The amendment failed resoundingly in a Senate vote this afternoon, with just 48 votes in favor and 50 against.

Constitutional amendments require 67 votes in the Senate, so Bush's
failure to muster even a simple majority was a major defeat for him,
and a huge victory for all of us.

Even if he lost the vote, Bush was hoping to use it to rally his base.
But six Republican Senators voted against it. The Washington Post
says: "The vote by the Republican-controlled Senate amounted to an
embarrassing defeat for President Bush and conservative leaders who had pushed hard for approval of the amendment..."*

Earlier this week, the Senate was getting flooded with calls in favor
of the amendment, generated in large part by right-wing religious
television networks. Our petition and our calls helped turn the tide.
More than 500,000 of us signed the "United, Not Divided" petition in
just 48 hours, and more than 20,000 of us made phone calls too.

We also put an ad on TV. You can see it on CNN for the rest of this
week, or watch it here:


This overwhelming response in support of civil rights for all Americans
also energized people who'd never taken part in a MoveOn campaign
before -- with this message, we welcome more than 150,000 new members to, raising our total U.S. membership to nearly 2.5 million.

Together, we're showing President Bush that his divisive politics will get him nowhere. And we're growing stronger by fighting back.

It's a great day for America. Thank you for making this victory possible.


--Carrie, Joan, Lee, Marika, Noah, Peter, and Wes
The Team
Wednesday, July 14th, 2004

Bush plans to screen whole US population
for mental illness

Click here

June 2004

Conan the Governor

Schwarzenegger seeks to speed killing of strays in shelters to save
money By Associated Press, 6/25/2004 08:51

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to repeal a
state law that requires animal shelters to hold stray dogs and cats
for up to six days before killing them.

Instead, there would be a three-day requirement for strays. Other
animals, including birds, hamsters, potbellied pigs, rabbits, snakes
and turtles, could be killed immediately.

Schwarzenegger has told the state Legislature that the changes could
save local governments that operate shelters up to $14 million.

An estimated 600,000 dogs and cats are put to death each year in
California, including 34,000 in Los Angeles alone.

The waiting period has caused overcrowding and forced some shelters
to kill off animals simply to make room for new ones, said H.D.
Palmer, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance.

''Because of space limitations, the shelters are being forced to
euthanize animals who are otherwise highly adoptable immediately
after the holding time,'' Palmer said.

Despite Schwarzenegger's huge popularity, some political observers
think the proposal will meet stiff resistance.

''There is no organized constituency of cats and dogs, but certainly
the pet owners of America will find this reprehensible,'' said
Barbara O'Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics
and Media at California State University, Sacramento.

''Cats and dogs are like mom and apple pie,'' she said. ''Don't mess
with the pets. Most people prefer them to other people.''

The 1998 law is named for former state Sen. Tom Hayden, who said the
governor's proposal ''will inflict heartbreak on a lot of owners and
people in the animal adoption world.''

[Y]our Activism Works; FCC Rulings Rejected

Last summer, over 375,000 MoveOn members joined together to fight proposed FCC rules that would have allowed fewer corporations to control more of the media.

Yesterday [June 25th, 2004] we won!

Following an unprecedented public outcry, a federal appeals court rejected the Federal Communications Commission's rules. The decision gives priority to the public interest over corporate bottom-lines.

Media policy is usually considered too obscure for ordinary people to care about. Last year, however, Congressional offices reported receiving comments about media ownership from millions of Americans -- more than any topic except the war in Iraq.

As a result, the Senate twice voted to roll back the FCC rules. There was enough support in the House to do the same, but the Republican leadership prevented a vote, saving President Bush from a politically unpopular veto.

This was possible because of the power of the grassroots, and also because of the smart leadership of Free Press, Common Cause, Consumers Union, and others. Our great thanks go to the Media Access Project, the public interest law firm which skillfully argued this case.
Americans like yourself, who live every day with a deteriorating media, rose to challenge lobbyists from giant media conglomerates. We have a long road ahead of us to ensure our media provide the sort of quality journalism on which democracy depends. Today we can look back and rejoice at how far we have already come.

Thank you for taking action -- it has the power to change everything.
Carrie, Joan, Lee, Noah, Peter, and Wes
June 25th, 2004
P.S. You can read more about the court's ruling at:
P.P.S. The Media Access Project, which won this court case, operates on a tiny budget. If you'd like to support them, please click here:

Ignoring Genocide...Again

A major human tragedy is unfolding in Sudan, one that has reportedly
claimed at least 30,000 lives, and could claim hundreds of thousands
more unless the world community works together, starting immediately,
to end it.

But despite the growing catastrophe, the U.S. State Department has yet
to publicly condemn these actions, or even to formally recognize that
the atrocities in Sudan constitute genocide. Such recognition would
make a huge difference, catalyzing the world community to help stop the

Please make a call to Secretary of State Colin Powell today at:
Secretary of State Colin Powell

202-647-4000 or 202-647-6607

Urge him to:
- Immediately declare the atrocities in Sudan to be "Genocide"; and
- Publicly condemn them.

Please also call your Senators and Representative:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Washington, DC: 202-224-4543

Senator John F. Kerry
Washington, DC: 202-224-2742

Congressman Martin T. Meehan
Washington, DC: 202-225-3411

Urge them to demand that the United States recognize the genocide and condemn it.

Please let us know you're calling, at:

Sudan's government is orchestrating a genocide [1] against people
living in the country's Darfur region, who have challenged the
government's authoritarian rule. In addition to tens of thousands of
killings, there is widespread rape, and poisoning of water systems.
Up to one million people have reportedly been displaced from their

More than 130 countries are obligated by the 1948 Genocide Convention
to prevent and punish such crimes against humanity. So even if the
United States sends no troops to Sudan, formally recognizing the
genocide would enable the U.N. security council to authorize other
countries, like Germany, France, and Spain, which don't have troops
to Iraq, to help stop the killing in Sudan.

We could also take another simple step, and publicly condemn the
genocide. This would send a powerful signal that the world is
watching, not looking the other way. "Genocide is still calibrated to
the international reaction," writes Nicholas Kristof in the New York

Whenever genocide has occurred before, the world community has vowed, "never again." Yet today, it is happening again.

The Bush administration has failed so show leadership on Sudan. For
example, President Bush passed up a prime opportunity to highlight the
issue at a recent G-8 summit, although it was reportedly discussed
in private there.

Is President Bush now so preoccupied with Iraq that he is incapable
of action on emergent issues of the day? Sadly, the answer appears
so far to be yes.

Please help stop this genocide, by making your calls today.
Carrie, Joan, Lee, Noah, Peter, and Wes
The team
Monday, June 28th, 2004

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has written a moving series
of columns from Sudan, many of them focusing on the personal experiences of a young woman there named Magboula. You can read them at:

1. "Dare We Call It Genocide?"
(Archived and available for purchase)

2. "Sudan's Final Solution"
(Archived and available for purchase)

3. "Magboula's Brush With Genocide"

4. "Dithering as Others Die"

Newspapers everywhere are calling for action:

The Washington Post: "As Genocide Unfolds"

The New York Times: Time for Action on Sudan
(Archived and available for purchase)

Calls for action from newspapers throughout the country have been
compiled by the Center for American Progress, at:

[1] Genocide is defined as "the systematic and planned extermination
of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group."


Remembering Reagan
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

Ronald Reagan was a paradigm shifter.

He was what Charles Derber in his new book, Regime Change Begins at
Home, calls a "regime-changer," moving decisively to end the flagging
New Deal era and launching the modern period of corporate rule.

Reagan changed the framework of expectations. He called into question a
lot of things that had been taken for granted (such as the obligation of
the government of the richest country in history to take care of its
poorest people), and made it possible to consider things which had
previously seemed unthinkable (for example, cutting the knees out from
the powerful U.S. labor movement.)

Reagan was indeed a historic figure, and his death deserves the massive
media attention it is receiving. But the odes to his cheerfulness and
optimism should be replaced with reflections on how his policies
destroyed lives. Pacifica's Amy Goodman has appropriately titled her
retrospective coverage of the Reagan era "Remembering the Dead."

The standard commentaries recall Iran-contra as a blotch on the end of
Reagan's presidency, but the incident was trivial compared to the long
list of administration crimes and misdeeds, among them:

1. Cruelly slashing the social safety net. Reagan cuts in social
spending exacerbated a policy of intentionally raising the unemployment
rate. The result was a huge surge in poverty. With homelessness
skyrocketing, Reagan defended his administration's record: "One problem
that we've had, even in the best of times, and that is the people who
are sleeping on grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by

2. Taking the world to the brink of nuclear war. Reagan's supposed
contribution to the downfall of the Soviet Union was a military spending
contest that drove the USSR into economic collapse. Neglected in most
present-day reminiscences is that this military spending spree nearly
started a nuclear war. Development and deployment of a host of nuclear
missiles, initiating Star Wars, acceleration of the arms race -- these
led the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to move its Doomsday Clock in
1984 to three minutes to midnight.

3. A targeted tax cut for the rich. The 1981 tax cut was one of the
largest in U.S. history and heavily targeted toward the rich, with major
declines in tax rates for upper-income groups. The tax break helped
widen income and wealth inequality gaps. As David Stockman admitted, one
of its other intended effects was to starve the government of funds, so
as to justify cuts in government spending (for the poor -- the cash
crunch didn't restrain government spending on corporate welfare).

4. Firing striking air traffic controllers. Reagan's decision to fire
1,800 striking air traffic controller early in his term sent a message
that employers could act against striking or organizing workers with
virtual impunity.

5. Deregulating the Savings & Loan industry, paving the way for an
industry meltdown and subsequent bailout that cost taxpayers hundreds of
billions of dollars.

6. Perpetrating a bloody war in Central America. The Reagan-directed
wars in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua submerged Central America
in a climate of terror and fear, took tens of thousands of lives,
destroyed a democratic experiment in Nicaragua, and entrenched narrow
elites who continue to repress the poor majorities in the region.

7. Embracing South Africa's apartheid regime (Said Reagan in 1981, "Can
we abandon this country [South Africa] that has stood beside us in every
war we've ever fought?" He followed up in 1985 with, "They have
eliminated the segregation that we once had in our own country.") and
dictators worldwide, from Argentina to Korea, Chile to the Philippines.

8. Undermining health, safety and environmental regulation. Reagan
decreed such rules must be subjected to regulatory impact analysis --
corporate-biased cost-benefit analyses, carried out by the Office of
Management and Budget. The result: countless positive regulations
discarded or revised based on pseudo-scientific conclusions that the
cost to corporations would be greater than the public benefit.

9. Slashing the Environmental Protection Agency budget in half, and
installing Anne Gorsuch Burford to oversee the dismantling of the agency
and ensure weak enforcement of environmental rules.

10. Kick-starting the era of structural adjustment. It was under Reagan
administration influence that the International Monetary Fund and World
Bank began widely imposing the policy package known as structural
adjustment -- featuring deregulation, privatization, emphasis on
exports, cuts in social spending -- that has plunged country after
country in the developing world into economic destitution. The IMF chief
at the time was honest about what was to come, saying in 1981 that, for
low-income countries, "adjustment is particularly costly in human terms."

11. Silence on the AIDS epidemic. Reagan didn't mention AIDS publicly
until 1987, by which point AIDS had killed 19,000 in the United States.
While the public health service advocated aggressive education on
prevention, Reagan moralists like Secretary of Education Bill Bennett
insisted on confining prevention messages to abstinence.

12. Enabling a corporate merger frenzy. The administration effectively
re-wrote antitrust laws and oversaw what at the time was an
unprecedented merger trend. "There is nothing written in the sky that
says the world would not be a perfectly satisfactory place if there were
only 100 companies, provided that each had 1 percent of every product
and service market," said Reagan's antitrust enforcement chief William Baxter.

The Reagan administration didn't succeed at imposing all of his agenda.
But even Reagan's failures had paradigm-shifting impacts. Among policies
he sought but failed to impose were: eliminating the Consumer Product
Safety Commission, consummating an unprecedented giveaway of coal mining
rights on federal land, and stripping benefits from thousands of
recipients of Social Security disability (a move ultimately counteracted
by the courts).

It's important to remember Reagan all right, but let's remember him for
what he did, not for his ability to deliver a scripted line. Ronald
Wilson Reagan played up and exacerbated economic and racial divisions,
and he left the country, and the world, meaner and more dangerous.

Crucial Time to Clean Up New Jersey Politics!
CauseNET for June 4, 2004

We are at a critical juncture in our fight to clean up New Jersey politics. Common Cause NJ and its allies have been working hard to advance meaningful campaign finance reform. Unfortunately, the bill rapidly moving through the legislature is full of loopholes and leaves plenty of room for mischief.

Please help us bring real reform to New Jersey. Contact Governor McGreevey and ask him to take the lead on this important issue.

Call (609) 292-6000
Log on to to email the governor.

Here is a sample letter:

Governor McGreevey,
Stop standing on the sidelines and fix the pay-to-play bill.

The Democratic pay-to-play bill would stamp out local and county efforts to adopt stronger pay-to-play reforms including one in your hometown of Woodbridge and replace them with weak, loop-hole ridden statewide standards:
- Ensure that counties and municipalities can pass their own stronger reforms.
- State should set a floor not a ceiling
- Adopt tighter competitive procedures for the awarding of professionals service contracts --ones that are less easily manipulated
- Close the loopholes that will allow the pay-to-play money to continue to flow.

Please contact him as soon as possible!

Harry Pozycki
Chairman, Common Cause NJ

Donate to Common Cause New Jersey: click here

The Jesus Landing Pad
Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move
by Rick Perlstein
May 18th, 2004 10:00 AM

It was an e-mail we weren't meant to see. Not for our eyes were the notes that showed White House staffers taking two-hour meetings with Christian fundamentalists, where they passed off bogus social science on gay marriage as if it were holy writ and issued fiery warnings that "the Presidents [sic] Administration and current Government is engaged in cultural, economical, and social struggle on every level"—this to a group whose representative in Israel believed herself to have been attacked by witchcraft unleashed by proximity to a volume of Harry Potter. Most of all, apparently, we're not supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios.

But now we know.

"Everything that you're discussing is information you're not supposed to have," barked Pentecostal minister Robert G. Upton when asked about the off-the-record briefing his delegation received on March 25. Details of that meeting appear in a confidential memo signed by Upton and obtained by the Voice.

The e-mailed meeting summary reveals NSC Near East and North African Affairs director Elliott Abrams sitting down with the Apostolic Congress and massaging their theological concerns. Claiming to be "the Christian Voice in the Nation's Capital," the members vociferously oppose the idea of a Palestinian state. They fear an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza might enable just that, and they object on the grounds that all of Old Testament Israel belongs to the Jews. Until Israel is intact and Solomon's temple rebuilt, they believe, Christ won't come back to earth.

Abrams attempted to assuage their concerns by stating that "the Gaza Strip had no significant Biblical influence such as Joseph's tomb or Rachel's tomb and therefore is a piece of land that can be sacrificed for the cause of peace."

Three weeks after the confab, President George W. Bush reversed long-standing U.S. policy, endorsing Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank in exchange for Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

In an interview with the Voice, Upton denied having written the document, though it was sent out from an e-mail account of one of his staffers and bears the organization's seal, which is nearly identical to the Great Seal of the United States. Its idiosyncratic grammar and punctuation tics also closely match those of texts on the Apostolic Congress's website, and Upton verified key details it recounted, including the number of participants in the meeting ("45 ministers including wives") and its conclusion "with a heart-moving send-off of the President in his Presidential helicopter."

Upton refused to confirm further details.

Affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church, the Apostolic Congress is part of an important and disciplined political constituency courted by recent Republican administrations. As a subset of the broader Christian Zionist movement, it has a lengthy history of opposition to any proposal that will not result in what it calls a "one-state solution" in Israel.

The White House's association with the congress, which has just posted a new staffer in Israel who may be running afoul of Israel's strict anti-missionary laws, also raises diplomatic concerns.

The staffer, Kim Hadassah Johnson, wrote in a report obtained by the Voice, "We are establishing the Meet the Need Fund in Israel—'MNFI.' . . . The fund will be an Interest Free Loan Fund that will enable us to loan funds to new believers (others upon application) who need assistance. They will have the opportunity to repay the loan (although it will not be mandatory)." When that language was read to Moshe Fox, minister for public and interreligious affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, he responded, "It sounds against the law which prohibits any kind of money or material [inducement] to make people convert to another religion. That's what it sounds like." (Fox's judgment was e-mailed to Johnson, who did not return a request for comment.)

The Apostolic Congress dates its origins to 1981, when, according to its website, "Brother Stan Wachtstetter was able to open the door to Apostolic Christians into the White House." Apostolics, a sect of Pentecostals, claim legitimacy as the heirs of the original church because they, as the 12 apostles supposedly did, baptize converts in the name of Jesus, not in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Ronald Reagan bore theological affinities with such Christians because of his belief that the world would end in a fiery Armageddon. Reagan himself referenced this belief explicitly a half-dozen times during his presidency.

While the language of apocalyptic Christianity is absent from George W. Bush's speeches, he has proven eager to work with apocalyptics—a point of pride for Upton. "We're in constant contact with the White House," he boasts. "I'm briefed at least once a week via telephone briefings. . . . I was there about two weeks ago . . . At that time we met with the president."

Last spring, after President Bush announced his Road Map plan for peace in the Middle East, the Apostolic Congress co-sponsored an effort with the Jewish group Americans for a Safe Israel that placed billboards in 23 cities with a quotation from Genesis ("Unto thy offspring will I give this land") and the message, "Pray that President Bush Honors God's Covenant with Israel. Call the White House with this message." It then provided the White House phone number and the Apostolic Congress's Web address.

In the interview with the Voice, Pastor Upton claimed personal responsibility for directing 50,000 postcards to the White House opposing the Road Map, which aims to create a Palestinian state. "I'm in total disagreement with any form of Palestinian state," Upton said. "Within a two-week period, getting 50,000 postcards saying the exact same thing from places all over the country, that resonated with the White House. That really caused [President Bush] to backpedal on the Road Map."

When I sought to confirm Upton's account of the meeting with the White House, I was directed to National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones, whose initial response upon being read a list of the names of White House staffers present was a curt, "You know half the people you just mentioned are Jewish?"

When asked for comment on top White House staffers meeting with representatives of an organization that may be breaking Israeli law, Jones responded, "Why would the White House comment on that?"

When asked whose job it is in the administration to study the Bible to discern what parts of Israel were or weren't acceptable sacrifices for peace, Jones said that his previous statements had been off-the-record.

For the complete story click here

Oppose Bush and Make a Statement on Your Car

One of President Bush's most effective tactics has been to portray those of us who oppose his policies as a small minority of the American public. But poll after poll shows that a large and increasing majority of American citizens disagree with his policies and don't like the direction he's leading our country in. Bush's strategy is to keep us from recognizing just how many of us there are.

That's why we're launching a campaign to demonstrate how popular opposition to George Bush really is. To participate, all you need to do is request a free bumper sticker and stick it on your car or in some other highly visible place. We're willing to send one bumper sticker for free to anyone who wants one – no cost whatsoever, no strings attached. We're also offering 10-packs and 500-packs for a small contribution.

To get a sticker for free, and to order larger quantities of the stickers, just click here

Rain Caused Bush's Bike Crash?
From Linda Gale Nolen

From the White House press release:

President Bush took a spill during a Saturday afternoon bike ride on his ranch, suffering bruises and cuts that were visible later on his face just two days before he was to deliver a major prime-time speech on his Iraq policy.

The president was nearing the end of a 17-mile ride on his mountain bike, accompanied by a Secret Service agent, a military aide and his personal physician, Richard Tubb, who treated him at the scene, said White House spokesman Trent Duffy.

"It's been raining a lot and the topsoil is loose," Duffy said. You know this president. He likes to go all-out. Suffice it to say he wasn't whistling show tunes."

Soooo... it's been raining a lot in Crawford, eh?

Here are the recent precipitation levels from Crawford:

May 22: 0"
May 21: 0"
May 20: 0"
May 19: 0"
May 18: 0"
May 17: 0"
May 16: 0"
May 15: 0"
May 14: 0.03"
May 13: 2.79" +++
May 12: 0"
May 11: 0.15"
May 10: 0"
May 9: 0"

May 13th saw some serious rain, but other than some sprinkles on the 14th, Crawford saw nothing but sun.

In the last week alone, the temperature was in the high 80s the entire time.

So, rain on the 13th was blamed for a Bush fall on the 22nd.

As everything else, it wasn't Bush's fault.

Nothing is Bush's fault.



May 2004

Disney Decides What You Should See

CauseNET for May 5, 2004

In yet another case of corporate media censorship, executives at Disney have decided not to distribute filmmaker Michael Moore's new documentary entitled, "Fahrenheit 911; The Temperature ". Moore's new film is highly critical of the financial ties between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family as well as the action taken by the government in secretly evacuating relatives of Osama bin Laden out of the country immediately after the attacks on September 11.

Published reports indicate that although the movie is ready for release, Miramax studios have been told by parent company Disney that it has decided to ban distribution of the film.

Why? According to one Disney executive, "It's not in the interest of any major corporation to be dragged into a highly charged partisan political battle".

Last week, it was Sinclair Broadcasting gagging Ted Koppel, by pre-empting Nightline's tribute to the Iraq war dead on its ABC affiliates, claiming that the program was partisan. Now Disney bans distribution of a politically charged film. Are we going further and further down the road where corporations determine all that people should see?

The more that media is concentrated in the hands of a few huge corporate owners, the more likely we'll see this type of corporate censorship. One of the bedrocks of democracy is the freedom to express all ideas, no matter how controversial. When ideas are suppressed, our freedoms are diluted. Think of how outraged we'd be if the local library cleared its shelves of all controversial books.

Is Michael Moore's film good, bad, or indifferent? Will it offend some people? Probably. But how will the public ever know? How can the public decide the merits when a handful of corporate executives decide for us?

Call today! Tell Disney what you think about this latest move to blindfold you. Contact the Walt Disney Company at: (818) 560-1000.
Tell them you would like the office of Chief Executive Michael Eisner.

Here's some related links to check out

Or Write a Letter to the Editor of Your Local Paper:

Donate To Common Cause:

Stopping the Draft

If you want to make sure your kids don't have to fight someone else's war, you need to act now!

Survey of the moment...

Read this and e-mail us why Bush needed Cheney to help with his testimony:

We want to hear your opinions.


April 2004


As the September 11th Commission grills President Bush and Vice President Cheney about their contradictory statements today, we wanted to alert you to a powerful new tool to help journalists, activists and the public compare the Bush administration's claims against well- documented facts.

The Center for American Progress today launched a comprehensive Claim vs. Fact database at that documents
statements from conservatives like President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Members of Congress and Fox News personalities, and compares those statements to the facts. Each fact is sourced, and in many cases includes a web link directly to that source.

The database has more than 400 entries so far, but THEY NEED YOUR HELP BUILDING IT. If you know of a lie, distortion or dishonest statement from a Bush Administration official or another conservative that isn't already in the database, please go to their submission page at:

There you can submit an entry for addition to the database, so that the tool
grows and becomes a real-time tracker of lies.

- Peter Schurman and the MoveOn team

Visit for more about Bush Administration distortion.

Smear attack on Kerry's service

In 2000, the Bush camp ran a vicious "whisper campaign" which questioned whether John McCain was mentally stable after his service as a Vietnam POW.1 In 2002, Bush surrogates ran a TV ad against Max Cleland, a Democratic Senator who lost three limbs in Vietnam, that attacked Cleland's patriotism and faded his face into Osama bin Laden's.2

Now, the Republican National Committee and the Bush/Cheney campaign are pushing a story that John Kerry was not injured badly enough in Vietnam to deserve one of his three Purple Hearts. Given the gaping holes in Bush's own record of service, the attack is absurd. But if the Bush campaign wants to raise this debate, we're happy to oblige.

Today, we're launching a new 60-second ad that compares Kerry's record of courageous service in Vietnam with Bush's early departure from the National Guard. The ad concludes: "This election is about character. It's between John Kerry, who left no man behind... and George W. Bush, who simply left." This is the first ad since the launch of our 50 for the Future campaign, and we need your help to get it on the air.

Watch the ad and contribute now at:

Recently released military documents from both camps highlight the differences between the two men. George Bush, then in the National Guard, checked a box "do not volunteer for overseas."3 Then he failed to show up for a required physical, was grounded from flying, and didn't show up for several months before leaving eight months early for Harvard Business School.4

In contrast, in a letter to his Navy personnel officer, Kerry wrote "I request duty in Vietnam."5 Over the course of that service, for "brave action, bold initiative and unwavering devotion to duty,"6 he was awarded the Bronze Star and Silver Star medals. He also earned not one but three Purple Hearts, for being injured in service to our country.7

As the Associated Press reported, "Throughout his four years of active duty, Kerry's superiors gave him glowing evaluations . . . narrative comments from his commanding officers said he was diplomatic, charismatic, decisive and well-liked by his men. . . He was recommended for early promotion, and when he left the Navy in 1970 to run for Congress, his commanding officer said it was the Navy's loss."8

But unless we set the record straight, Republicans may actually succeed in misleading the public about Kerry's courageous service and deflecting the huge questions that remain about their own candidate's service.

Take a look at our ad comparing the two men, and then help us get it on the air:

George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove have a long history of attacking their opponents' military service -- even though Bush left early, Cheney said he had "other priorities" than serving, and Rove didn't serve at all.9 If we fight back together, we can demonstrate how outrageous and hypocritical these attacks are -- and make them stop.

Additional source material
1."The Jeffords affair," by Arianna Huffinton (5/31/01)
2. "Ad uses Saddam, bin Laden to question Cleland's record," by Jeffrey McMurray (10/2/02)
3. Compare the military service records of Kerry & Bush
4. "Bush's Guard actions required an inquiry," by Walter V. Robinson and Francie Latour (2/13/04)
6. "Editorial: Galling Smears," Minnesota Star Tribune (4/24/04)
7. "Records show high praise for officer Kerry," Nedra Pickler (4/22/04)
8. The Chickenhawk Database Sincerely,
--Adam, Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Laura, and Wes
The MoveOn PAC team
April 26th, 2004

Treasury Plays Partisan Politics with Tax Dollars
CauseNET for April 26, 2004

In an April 9 Treasury Department press release reminding citizens to file their income taxes, the agency included the following sentence:
"America has a choice. It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the President's policies are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation."

Clearly the implication is that if you don't vote for President Bush, your taxes will go up. Language identical to that in the Treasury Department notice shows up on the White House and Republican National Committee (RNC) websites.

In March, the Treasury Department had civil servants, using your tax dollars, evaluate a tax proposal very similar to that proposed by Presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry (D-MA). The department then posted the results on the Treasury website. On the day the results were posted, the RNC used the exact same numbers on its own website to attack Sen. Kerry's tax plan.

Politics? Treasury officials defended their action, saying it was "proper" to analyze Kerry's tax plan, and that they were not using "political language" in their press release. But treasury officials who worked for the Reagan Administration disagree, stating that treasury employees "are supposed to be objective" and that the analysis of the Kerry plan "stepped over the line."

People are starting to ask if the Treasury Department has become a campaign tool for the upcoming presidential election. It's outrageous that a federal agency is pushing a partisan political agenda on the public. We depend on federal agencies to be objective and unbiased, and they should never become politicized. What's more, government employees shouldn't be put in the position of having to carry water for a presidential campaign.

TAKE ACTION: Please join us in calling on the Inspector General of the Department of Treasury, Jeffrey Rush, Jr., to investigate these incidents.

Click here to visit each of the websites mentioned above:

Forward this alert to a friend!

Please support Common Cause

Take Action: Write a Letter to the Editor
about Bush's Secret Deal with the Saudis

Journalist Bob Woodward has revealed that President Bush has a secret deal with the Saudi royal family to influence the November election by manipulating gas prices.

Once again we see that President Bush and the Republicans will say or do anything to win the election in November -- even strike secret deals with foreign governments.

Bush also revealed secret Iraq war plans to the Saudi government before he told his own Secretary of State.

Take Action! NOW! Take Action! NOW! Take Action! NOW! Take Action!

Click here to help us spread the word about the latest Bush outrage by writing a letter to the editor of your local paper.

The Rising Corporate Military Monster
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

A corporate military monster is being created in Iraq.

The U.S. government is relying on private military contractors like
never before.

Approximately 15,000 military contractors, maybe more, are now working
in Iraq. The four Americans brutally killed and mutilated in Fallujah
March 31 were part of this informal army of occupation.

Contractors are complicating traditional norms of military command and
control, and challenging the basic norms of accountability that are
supposed to govern the government's use of violence. Human rights abuses
go unpunished. Reliance on poorly monitored contractors is bleeding the
public treasury. The contractors are simultaneously creating
opportunities for the government to evade public accountability, and, in
Iraq at least, are on the verge of evolving into an independent force at
least somewhat beyond the control of the U.S. military. And, as the
contractors grow in numbers and political influence, their power to
entrench themselves and block reform is growing.

Whatever the limitations of the military code of justice and its
in-practice application, the code does not apply to the modern-day
mercenaries. Indeed, the mechanisms by which the contractors are held
responsible for their behavior, and disciplined for mistreating
civilians or committing human rights abuses -- all too easy for men with
guns in a hostile environment -- are fuzzy.

It is unclear exactly what law applies to the contractors, explains
Peter W. Singer, author of Corporate Warriors (Cornell University Press,
2003) and a leading authority on private military contracting. They do
not fall under international law on mercenaries, which is defined
narrowly. Nor does the national law of the United States clearly apply
to the contractors in Iraq -- especially because many of the contractors
are not Americans.

Relatedly, many firms do not properly screen those they hire to patrol
the streets in foreign nations. "Lives, soldiers' and civilians'
welfare, human rights, are all at stake," says Singer. "But we have left
it up to very raw market forces to figure out who can work for these
firms, and who they can work for."

There are already more than a few examples of what can happen, notable
among them accusations that Dyncorp employees were involved in sex
trafficking of young girls in Bosnia.

In general, the performance of the private military firms is horribly

Sometimes the lack of monitoring is a boon to the government agencies
that hire the contractors. Although there are firm limits on the kinds
of operations that U.S. troops can conduct in Colombia, Singer notes,
"it has been pretty loosey-goosey on the private contractor side." The
contractors are working with the Colombian military to defeat the
guerilla insurgency in Colombia -- unconstrained by Congressionally
imposed limits on what U.S. soldiers in Colombia may do.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, a problem of a whole different sort is starting to emerge.

The security contractors are already involved in full-fledged
battlefield operations, increasingly so as the insurgency in Iraq escalates.

A few days after the Americans were killed in Fallujah, Blackwater
Security Consulting engaged in full-scale battle in Najaf, with the
company flying its own helicopters amidst an intense firefight to
resupply its own commandos.

Now, reports the Washington Post, the security firms are networking
formally, "organizing what may effectively be the largest private army
in the world, with its own rescue teams and pooled, sensitive intelligence."

Because many of the security contractors work for the Coalition
Provisional Authority, as opposed to the U.S. military, they are not
integrated into the military's operations. "Under assault by insurgents
and unable to rely on U.S. and coalition troops for intelligence or help
under duress," according to the Post, the contractors are banding together.

Private occupying commandos? Corporate military helicopters in a
battlefield situation? An integrated occupation private intelligence network?

Isn't this just obviously a horrible idea?

Given the problems that have already occurred in places like Colombia
and Bosnia, the scale and now independent integrated nature of the
private military operations in Iraq is asking for disaster, beyond that
already inflicted on the Iraqis.

Making the problem still worse is that the monster feeds on itself.

The larger become the military contractors, the more influence they have
in Congress and the Pentagon, the more they are able to shape policy,
immunize themselves from proper oversight, and expand their reach. The
private military firms are led by ex-generals, the most effective
possible lobbyists of their former colleagues -- and frequently former
subordinates -- at the Pentagon. As they grow in size, and become
integrated into the military-industrial complex (Northrop Grumman has
swallowed a number of the military contractors, for example), their
political leverage in Congress and among civilians in the executive
branch grows.

Over the last decade or so, the phenomenon of private military
contracting has grown unchecked. We're now at a precipice, with action
to constrain the contractors about to become far, far more difficult
than if the madness of employing mercenaries had been averted in the
first place.

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
This article is posted at:

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter,

Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor,

They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press;


Stossell Tries to Scam His Public
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

In a world where young Americans are being hunted down, burned to death, and hung from bridges in faraway lands, a story of a network reporter trying to weasel out of something he said many years ago is admittedly no big deal.

But the reporter in question has a network television show that
influences millions of Americans on the issue he cares about deeply --
protecting and preserving corporate power in America. And he has a book
on the New York Times bestseller list defending his thesis.

And he questions whether he said what we said he said.

So, hear us out.

On February 27, 2004, the LA Weekly published a letter from ABC News
correspondent John Stossel questioning the accuracy of a 1996 story we
ran about a speech Stossel gave to the Federalist Society in Washington, D.C.

At the time, we reported that Stossel, who started his television career
as a consumer reporter and now spends his time attacking government and trial lawyers as co-host of ABC's 20/20, was asked during the
question-and-answer period after his 1996 speech:
"If you believe that consumer reporting works, and is a better regulator
than regulation or lawsuits, why did you stop doing it?"

"I got sick of it," Stossel responded. "I also now make so much money I
just lost interest in saving a buck on a can of peas. Twenty years was
enough. But mainly, I came to realize that the government was doing far
more harm to people than business and I ought to be reporting on that.
Nobody else was."

The LA Weekly ran a story earlier this year about a book party in Los
Angeles for Stossel and his new best-selling book, Give Me a Break: How
I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media (HarperCollins, 2004). LA Weekly's Greg Goldin,
relying on our story, reported that "Years ago, when he quit exposing
consumer rip-offs, he (Stossel) told a Federalist Society audience, 'I got sick of it. I also now make so much money, I just lost interest in saving a buck on a can of peas.'"

Stossel wrote a letter to the LA Weekly arguing that Goldin "used a quote that has been attributed to me over the years that I don't recall ever uttering."

Stossel wrote: "The alleged source of that quote was a 1996 speech I
gave to the Federalist Society in which I supposedly said that I stopped
consumer reporting because 'I got sick of it. ... I also now make so much
money, I just lost interest in saving a buck on a can of peas.' That
doesn't sound like anything I've said and certainly doesn't reflect the
reasons I shifted my focus from consumer reporting to government
programs and lawyers (I shifted because I concluded they do more harm to consumers than business). The transcript of this speech that the
Federalist Society supplied does not include the quote. "

We attended Stossel's speech to the Federalist Society in September
1996. We taped his speech and made a transcript.

We reported the speech.

After reading Stossel's letter to the LA Weekly, we started digging
around the office.

And lo and behold, we found the transcript of the speech.

And then, unbelievably, in a stroke of sheer luck, we found a copy of
the seven-year-old tape of the speech.

So, John, if you would like us to refresh your recollection, give us a
call and we'll play the "can of peas" segment for you.

We've always wondered why you moved from being an aggressive consumer reporter to attacking those who seek to crack down on corporate crime. You now say it had nothing to do with money.

Back in 1996, the truth slipped out. We have it on tape.
(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

This article is posted at:

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter, Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor,

They are co-authors of Corporate
Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press;

Focus on the Corporation is a weekly column written by Russell Mokhiber
and Robert Weissman. Please feel free to forward the column to friends or repost the column on other lists. If you would like to post the column on
a web site or publish it in print format, we ask that you first contact us
( or

Air America: It's Time to Fight Back

Dear MoveOn member,
Al Franken and others are launching a major new progressive radio network this week. It's a big and exciting development, so before we get to a message from him, we want to share the details.

If you're in LA, Portland, New York, or Chicago, you'll be able to hear Air America programming starting this minute. And the daily lineup is pretty juicy: three hours of Al Franken on "The O'Franken Factor," plus Janeane Garofalo, Chuck D, Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on the weekends. Air America's got big plans for expansion, but for now if you're not in one of those areas, you can listen in on the web at:

One of the big aims of this new radio network is to counter the claims of right-wing politicians and media figures. When a major right-wing figure says something misleading or something so full of holes it can only be described as dumb, Al Franken and other Air America hosts will call them out on it. A great example is Donald Rumsfeld claiming that he never used the phrase "immediate threat" to describe Iraq -- and then getting caught on national television.
(That footage is online at

We can help them out. We're teaming up with Franken on a contest to find the stupidest or most clearly false (or preferably both) statement by a major right-wing figure or Bush administration official. Over the next week, any stupid or misleading comment you hear on the radio or see on TV is fair game as an entry. If your comment is selected by Al Franken as the winner, you'll receive a personalized and autographed copy of Al Franken's book "Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them," and you'll be recognized on-air.

You can read the complete rules and submit as many quotes as you like at:

But enough details. Here's Al:
It's my honor to team up with, which I am told has made use of the Internet to great effect. While I myself do not have an Internet, my son does, and he says you guys are terrific.
Here's the deal. My job is rhetorical jiu-jitsu: I take the words of right-wing jerks, and I use those words to heap scorn and ridicule upon them. It's what I do. And I need your help. These guys say so many stupid and dishonest things every day that no one man possibly can sift through all of them. I need you to be my eyes and ears, so that no right-wing ideologue can ever again safely traffic in distortion and calumny.

Yea, I say unto thee. Let the flaming sword of justice rain down blows upon them, that they may rue the day when this contest was announced.

The future of our nation rests in your hands. Good luck!
--Al Franken
Enjoy the contest.

We're helping to launch a new progressive radio network -- Air America Radio. Air America is on the air 24 hours a day at:
New York, NY: WLIB (AM 1190)
Chicago, IL: WNTD (AM 950)
Los Angeles, CA: KBLA (AM 1580)
Portland, OR: KPOJ (AM 620)
Inland Empire, CA: KCAA (AM 1050)
Minneapolis, MN: WMNN (AM 1330)
San Francisco: TBA on 4/7/04
XM Satellite Radio: Channel 167

Or, you can listen in online at

--Carrie, Joan, Noah, Peter, and Wes
The Team
Friday, April 2nd, 2004

The Bush - Cheney "Sloganator" Lives On

this comes from Tim Doyle, why he's not sending it on his own, Idon't know. But this is pretty good, so check it out, it's funny.

For a brief few days in March, the official Bush-Cheney web site featured
a print your own Bush-Cheney poster page, with (drum roll), the ability to
add your own slogan of up to 44 letters. There were a few words that were
blocked by the software, but as it turned out, not nearly enough.

Some of the results of this ground breaking experiment in participatory
poster making have been collected....

March 2004

By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

Whatever you think about broadcast obscenity, it is hard to make the case that a disk jockey cursing causes greater social harm than someone who puts another person's life in danger.

But that, apparently, is how Congress looks at things.

Under the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004, which passed the
House of Representatives earlier this month and is likely soon to come up for consideration in the Senate, television and radio stations that broadcast "indecent" material can be subject to fines as high as $500,000 per incident.

Under the nation's worker safety rules, an employer that commits a "serious" violation -- defined as "a violation where there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard" may be fined up to $7,000 per violation. If an employer engages in a "willful" violation of the rules -- meaning "the employer intentionally and knowingly commits" the violation -- it may fined up to $70,000.

It's not just penalties for violations of worker safety laws that are dwarfed by the proposed fines for indecency. Environmental fines, considerably more robust than workplace penalties, generally pale in comparison to the proposed sanctions for broadcast indecency. (The fines for the worst violations of the Clean Air Act, for example, top out at $10,000 per day per violation.)

Beyond the stunning misplaced sense of priorities, there's a lot to learn from the juxtaposition of the proposed penalties for broadcast indecency and those for other forms of corporate wrongdoing.

That's because the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act is intended to be a serious law exercising a serious deterrent function. Other regulatory
regimes are not.

There are at least three features of the broadcast bill that should be
imported into other corporate law-and-order rules.

First is the size of the fines, which are big enough to make any company
take notice, especially because they can easily be compounded by citation for numerous violations.

Second, the broadcast bill posits fines for both companies and individuals -- for both broadcasters and their employees or performers. The analog would be for fines to be levied against both corporations that endangered their workers, and against the CEO or floor manager who was responsible for permitting dangerous conditions to exist.

Third, the broadcast bill threatens the death penalty against violators of indecency rules. The bill directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to consider violations of indecency rules in making
their determination as to whether renew broadcast licenses. Without
these licenses, broadcasters cannot use the public airwaves, and would
be out of business. For repeat violators -- those with three or more
violations -- the bill commands the FCC to commence a proceeding as to
whether it should revoke the violator's broadcast license.

For better or worse, there's no question that, if enacted, the broadcast
indecency bill will have the intended deterrent effect. Just look at radio colossus Clear Channel's effort to distance itself from Howard Stern and deejays crossing the obscenity lines.

Profit-maximizing economic actors take seriously significant penalties,
especially threats to their ongoing viability.

Would that the Congress be willing to impose such sanctions against
corporate scofflaws that threaten the safety of people and the planet.

This article is posted at:
(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter, Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, They are co-authors of Corporate
Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press;

Focus on the Corporation is a weekly column written by Russell Mokhiber
and Robert Weissman. Please feel free to forward the column to friends or repost the column on other lists. If you would like to post the column on
a web site or publish it in print format, we ask that you first contact us
( or

Focus on the Corporation is distributed to individuals on the listserve To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your address to corp-focus, go to: <>
or send an e-mail
message to with your request.

Focus on the Corporation columns are posted at

Postings on corp-focus are limited to the columns. If you would like to
comment on the columns, send a message to or

Short end of it - Bush signed into law a bill that protects spammers and doesn't even have an obscuring euphemism for what it does. The bill is incredibly dumb and worth publicizing since regardless of if you're liberal or conservative, if you're online you get flooded with spam.

Legal Spam
Thursday, March 18, 2004
The Reader Advocate Column By Ed Foster

Remember the good old days, way back in December of 2003? Back then,
when spammers told you they had the legal right to send you their junk
e-mail, at least you knew it was a lie. Now, with enactment of the "Yes,
You Can Spam Act," the spammer might well be telling the truth.

On the same day last week that AOL, Earthlink, Microsoft and Yahoo held
their dog-and-pony show announcing lawsuits against named and unnamed spammers, a reader forwarded me what she considered a very disturbing piece of junk e-mail. The spam, touting the services of a bulk e-mail house supposedly located in Brazil, trumpeted that it was sent "in
compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, approved and signed by the
president of The United States of America on Dec. 16, 2003. For this
reason, this e-mail cannot be considered spam."

The reader was about to forward the message to the FTC's unsolicited
commercial e-mail (UCE) complaint address ( when it occurred to her that perhaps the spammer was right. "Hold on, does Can-Spam mean that I can't complain to the FTC about UCE now?" she wondered. The Brazilian spam provided a street address in Rio, she noted, plus a link to a website where she supposedly could have her e-mail address removed from the spammer's list. "They are following the letter of the law as far as I can prove. It looks like my choices are to keep receiving this spam or take a chance that the scumbags who sent it really have a legit remove-me page. No, I'm not such an idiot that I would go there, but what else can we do under Can-Spam?"

Well, not much. The Can-Spam Act gives spam recipients no recourse
against spammers, even when a message does clearly violate the law's
requirements for legal unsolicited commercial e-mail. Only government
agencies and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have any enforcement
rights under Can-Spam. But then can't we at least take heart in the lawsuits the four big ISPs announced last week? Doesn't that mean
Can-Spam is doing at least some good?

I don't think so. I'm not sure why AOL, Earthlink, Microsoft and Yahoo
thought it politically correct to bill these actions as Can-Spam lawsuits. From their descriptions it's clear these lawsuits could have been filed without Can-Spam. They are very typical of the kind of lawsuits these and other ISPs have been bringing against spammers for many years, and with some success when they manage to identify the "John Does" involved. The worst spammers violate all kinds of laws, including federal and state statutes against computer fraud and data theft -- Can-Spam isn't really needed. It is ironic to note, though, that three of the four states in which these lawsuits are being filed (California, Virginia, and Washington) would have even tougher anti-spam laws to apply to these lawsuits if it weren't for the Can-Spam Act preempting them.

If we look closely, I think the ISP lawsuits actually demonstrate the
real danger of how Can-Spam ultimately legalizes a whole class of
everyday spam. Earthlink posted the filing for its lawsuit with its press announcement on the lawsuits (, and in it
Earthlink concedes that "some types of spam-related misconduct may
comply with the Can-Spam Act." Earthlink therefore feels compelled to
make the rather awkward argument that the Can-Spam Act only supplements "the various causes of action under which spam is already illegal" for any use that violates the ISP's posted policies against UCE.

Can-Spam isn't necessary for filing lawsuits against the spammers who
break every law in the book, but what it does do is threaten the ability of ISPs to terminate the accounts of users who send out UCE. If an ISP's
customer sends out UCE in compliance with the rules of the Can-Spam Act, can the ISP drop their account? Believe me, no ISP is going to want to
put Earthlink's legal argument to the test. If paying customers are sending UCE in accordance with federal law, denying them access to their accounts is going to very problematic, no matter what the ISP's acceptable use policy says.

As I was writing this, I just happened to receive an unsolicited commercial e-mail for "Mortgage Loans Made Easy." In content it is very similar to a mortgage leads spam Earthlink cites in its lawsuit, except at the bottom it contains the increasingly common UCE claim that it's transmitted "in accordance with the Can Spam Act of 2003 Section S.877." And, as with our reader's Brazilian spam, I couldn't prove otherwise. It's spam, but it appears to be perfectly legal.

And this leaves me with an apology to make. Long-time readers may
recognize the similarity between these "Can-Spam Compliance" claims and the "Murk" notices spammers have been using for years. The difference, of course, is that the Murk notices were lies because the Murkowski bill, a flawed attempt at anti-spam legislation in 1998, was never actually enacted. As one of those who railed against the Murkowski bill way back when, I guess I wish now we'd all held our tongues. As weak as it was, the Murkowski bill would have left us better off than we are under the "Yes, You Can Spam Act."

Read this column on-line and post your own comments at, or write me directly at

In my weblog at

Reader Voices: E-books and Publisher Paranoia
One reader relates how book publishers were first sold on the idea of
DRM for e-books.

Scam Artists Abuse Web Phone Relay Services
Services that allow the hearing impaired to place a call over the
Internet are being abused by credit card thieves.

Copyright 2004 Ed Foster's GripeLog. You are granted permission to
forward this column to friends who would have an interest in this topic.

Edfoster mailing list

Electronic Voting: Will this Fix Our Democracy?

Here's an article about electronic voting machines that's worth checking out.
Click here for article
Sent: Thursday, March 11, 2004 4:19 PM
To: Dodson, David
Subject: Salon:
Pentagon cooked WMD books

Dear MoveOn member, has just broken a major story detailing how the Pentagon created a special office to manipulate intelligence data on Iraq and WMDs. It's written by Karen Kwiatkowski, a military offer who was part of this unit, telling us the inside story in her own words.

Click here to read the full story:
(This link only takes you to the site, not to the exact mentioned article.)

The Salon story makes it even clearer than before that the Bush administration deliberately misled us in the run-up to the war in Iraq a year ago. The problem was not bad intelligence -- it was deliberate distortion of the facts.

It's Congress' duty to hold President Bush accountable for misleading us.
Please call your Senators and Representative now:

Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Washington, DC: 202-224-4543

Senator John F. Kerry
Washington, DC: 202-224-2742

Congressman Martin T. Meehan
Washington, DC: 202-225-3411

Make sure they know you're a constituent, then urge them to:

"Censure President Bush -- formally reprimand him for misleading us
about Iraq's WMDs."

Give them some reasons why Censure is necessary. Some good ones include:
- 553 American soldiers have given their lives in Iraq;
- Tens of thousands of our troops remain in harm's way there;
- A year later, we seem to have no exit strategy;
- Thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed;
- The President took us to war based on assertions he knew were untrue for more info, see ;
- Congress has a constitutional duty to act as a check on the president.

Please let us know you're calling, at:

The new Salon story is important, not only because of its revelations about how the Pentagon cooked the books on WMDs, but also because it's the first piece by Salon's new Washington, D.C. bureau.

Strong, independent news sources are more important now than ever, as
traditional media become increasingly concentrated under the control of just a few corporations, and with major outlets like CBS nakedly kowtowing to partisan interests like the Bush re-election campaign. In this context, Salon's new Washington, D.C. bureau is a major step forward for all of us.

We hope you'll take a few minutes to read their important article today. You
can access it at:
(This link only takes you to the site, not to the exact mentioned article.)

Thank you.


- Carrie, Joan, Noah, Peter, and Wes
The team
Wednesday March 10th, 2004

Fall / Winter 2003

Wal-Mart, Stop Discriminating Against Women

Wal-Mart, America's largest employer, may use a yellow smiley face as its advertising logo, but it sure doesn't smile on women. Wal-Mart is being sued by six women for discriminating against women in promotions, compensation and job assignments, and they are attempting to obtain class action status for their suit. (click here for complete story)
Monsanto, Stop Bullying Tiny Dairy Over Growth Hormones

In a move of Goliath-attacking-David proportions, Monsanto, the multi-national agrichemical company, is suing a small, family-owned milk producer in Maine because they advertise that their farmers pledge not to use artificial growth hormones (also known as rBST) on the cows that produce their milk. (click here for complete story)

We Had a Democracy Once, But You Crushed It
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

In yesterday's Washington Post, Condoleeza Rice, the President's National Security Advisor, writes the following:

"Our task is to work with those in the Middle East who seek progress
toward greater democracy, tolerance, prosperity and freedom. As
President Bush said in February, =91The world has a clear interest in the
spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not
breed ideologies of murder. They encourage the peaceful pursuit of a
better life.'"

Now, if we only had a nickel for every time Bush, or Rice, or Colin
Powell, or Paul Wolfowitz or Dick Cheney or Richard Perle or Donald
Rumsfeld talked about bringing democracy to the Middle East.

Talk, talk, talk.
(click for complete story)

August 2003

Readers Forced to View Unsolicited Corpornography
by Greg Palast
Monday, August 25, 2003

I guess the lights never went back on at the Times. That's the only acceptable explanation for the loving Lewinsky The Paper of Record gave to the power industry on the front page of its Sunday edition.

Over 20-some column inches, we are told that "experts say" that the reason the lights went out over one fourth our continent ten days ago was that the electric industry, most particularly, transmission lines, "remained regulated." The answer to our woes, the Times informs us, is more deregulation -- except for the visionary rules contained in the President's energy bill. In the editorial posing as a news story, the Times lectures us that the president's proposals would have been law, and saved us from the power outage, "but politics have stymied their progress."

Later in the article, the stymiers of progress are named: those evil
small-minded "consumer groups."

So who are these "experts" who revealed The Truth to the Times? The authors quote seven in the article, beginning with David Owen, the industry's chief lobbyist. That paid shill is followed by James Hoecker, identified by his former title only, as a "independent" regulator. Just from the article, you'd think the poor guy is unemployed these days. In fact, he's walked comfortably through the revolving door and onto the industry payroll. His law firm represents, among others, First Energy, the characters who started the black-out rolling. I guess that fact was not "fit to print" in The Times.

My favorite is the Times giving us the expert advice of the "director of
Transmission for the National Grid Transco which owns and runs the grid in England and Wales." This Brit says Americans should pay more money to grid operators. What he doesn't say -- and the Times is happy to keep his secret -- is that his corporation owns Niagara-Mohawk Power Corporation, the company that spread the power outage into New York. Undoubtedly, NiMo's failure to react to the emergency resulted from the corporation's eliminating 800 workers in New York over the past two years and radically cutting investment in the grid system it operates in the USA.

The parade of industry retainers, payrollers and lobbyists lecturing us stumbles on through the Times' inside pages. Unnamed "industry analysts" telling us "consumers will have to foot the bill" to fix the system. As an analyst of the industry for decades -- and on no one's payroll except the United Nations -- I can tell you that you HAVE paid the bill already for a good system. But power pirates such as the National Grid of England have run off with the booty.

I admit, there's one "expert" cited who is not receiving an industry paycheck. The article is capped by the finger-wagging counsel of the Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Chairman Pat Wood III concludes the article with his admonition that deregulation must be accelerated. Wood is, after all, the man in charge of our nation's power system. His qualifications for the job? His appointment was secretly proposed by Ken Lay.

If the Times wants to publish corpornography on its front page, hey, it's a free country. At least they did it with the lights off.

A printer friendly version of this article resides at:

To receive more of Greg's investigative reports on the energy crisis and other corporate shenanigans click here:

Greg Palast is author of the bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy," and the worstseller, "Democracy and Regulation." The later, regarding the dangers of deregulation, written with Theo MacGregor and Jerrold Oppenheim, was financed and published by the United Nations ILO.

Media enquiries:
If you would like to have your e-mail address removed from this mailing list. Cut and paste the following URL into your browser address bar. This will automatically remove from the mailing list and you will receive no further mailings.

G.Palast and M.L.King III Voting Rights Petition

For those who don’t know already, Greg Palast is an investigative journalist who among other things uncovered that…

” Five months before the November 2000 election, Governor Jeb Bush of Florida moved to purge 57,700 people from the voter rolls, supposedly criminals not allowed to vote. Most were innocent of crimes, but the majority were guilty of being Black.”

The method used to bar enough votes to make the Governor’s brother the president relied on an electronic voting system that is now being proposed in states across the country. There’s a petition at to stop the allowance of this. If you want to read more, check out .

July 2003

A little good news on the sociopolitical front. Anyone that's not on
here's a good reason to change that. Results.


An FCC Victory in the House

Dear MoveOn member,This isn't an email asking you to sign a petition or give money. It's simply a celebration of a victory.

75 television executives from network affiliates descended on Capitol
Hill yesterday to prevent the House appropriations committee from
voting for a partial rollback of the FCC rule changes.

Because of you and thousands of others, Congress did something
unprecedented yesterday. Republican committee member Frank Wolf urged his colleagues to vote their conscience, and stand up to the
lobbyists. And they did just that, delivering a 40-25 vote against big

Conservative columnist William Safire wrote in today's New York Times:
"Here is what made this happen: Take the force of right-wingers
upholding community standards who are determined to defend local
control of the public airwaves; combine that with the force of lefties
eager to maintain diversity of opinion in local media; add in the
independent voters' mistrust of media manipulation; then let all these
people have access to their representatives by e-mail and fax, and
voilà! Congress awakens to slap down the power grab." (URL below)

The rollback still has a long way to go, but this is another big step
in our march to reverse the FCC and create a more diverse, independent
and skeptical media.

Your active participation is working. Congress is listening. There will be more work in the weeks and months ahead. Stay tuned and stay

--Eli Pariser
July 17th, 2003

P.S. Check out William Safire's editorial and another article from
today's New York Times on this win:

By Jacques Steinberg, New York Times
July 17th, 2003
"The recent decision by federal regulators to loosen media ownership
rules, already under fire in the Senate, took another blow in Congress
yesterday. This setback was dealt by the House Appropriations
Committee, which approved a budget amendment that would make it harder for big broadcasting companies to acquire more television stations.

The vote represented a defeat for Michael K. Powell, the Federal
Communications Commission chairman, who has led the effort to change the rules. It was also a rebuke to the Republican House leadership and the Bush administration, strong supporters of the commission's efforts."

By William Safire, New York Times
July 17th, 2003

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