Archive for November, 2006

Entry for November 30, 2006

November 30, 2006

The caption  for the  illustration from Freshplaze.com reads:

This new label, brings together the Miss Chiquita icon and the Rainforest Alliance’s frog logo.

It seems that, since I wrote about the  oil and gas trade group, American Petroleum Insitute (AOI), in connection with NTSA turning down free copies of DVD’s for the film  An Inconvenient Truth,  the Weekly Spin, available free from the non-profit Center for Media and Democracy, has published an  item citing a relationship between API and PR firm Edelman, who may have been behind the Chiquita-Rainforest Alliance partnerhip.

API president and chief executive officer Red Cavaney has been getting help from the PR firm Edelman, to

put earnings in perspective, to explain how we reinvest them.

According to SourceWatch.org, the privately held Edelman

has been one of the leaders in the PR industry in advocating the benefits of corporations ‘engaging’ with non-government organisations.

Edelman made the following statements on its website, which since have been taken down:

  • We recognized before anyone that NGOs, such as Greenpeace and Amnesty International, were influencing corporate social responsibility by highlighting environmental and labor practices.
  • [Activists] play offense all the time; they take their message to the consumer; they are ingenious at building coalitions; they always have a clear agenda; they move at Internet speed; they speak in the media’s tone.
  • Our experience to date is positive…[with] the Chiquita-Rainforest Alliance  [and] Home Depot-Forest Stewardship Council.
  • [from a media release:] You’ve got an environmental disaster on your hands. Have you consulted with Greenpeace in developing your crisis response plan? Co-opting your would-be attackers may seem counter-intuitive, but it makes sense when you consider that NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are trusted by the public nearly two-to-one to ‘do what’s right’ compared with government bodies, media organizations and corporations.

Evidently the public trust is being won.  See Brad Ewing’s comments of August 9, 2004 at his blog, Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development, 

Throughout the past 10 years or so of my life, I have tried to support companies and causes that I agree with. For instance, if given the choice between some delicious Pillsbury cookie dough or some equally delicious Nestle cookie dough, I always choose the Pillsbury…

Chiquita is another company that I have not supported financially for almost 10 years; ever since the Cincinnati Enquirer article ‘Chiquita Secrets Revealed’. However, after reading an article by CNN Business 2.0 entitled ‘Chiquita cleans up its act’ I now believe that I should reconsider my stance.

Some things to read on the topic:

API’s plans?

launch a major “educational advocacy” program in January 2007 to influence the incoming Congress… [T] he program will include increased television advertising, speeches by economists and industry executives and tours of oil and gas operations for think tank staff and politicians.  

See tomorrow’s entry for a continuation of this post.

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November statistics: 

Page Views 4,981
New Visitors 192

2006 YTD:

Page Views 46,827
Visitors 2,855

 

Entry for November 29, 2006

November 29, 2006

Tony Auth’s November 28 cartoon.  For more information on Auth, see my entry of November 27,

CQ Politics has started a three-part series by its staff on the Democratic takeover of Congress.  The first installment on the Senate is here.

My friend, Barry Anderson, emailed me Virginia Senator-elect’s November 15 Wall Street Journal article, “Class Struggle:  American Workers have the Right to Be Heard”  which he received as a Board member of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy,  Webb starts, 

The most important–and unfortunately the least debated–issue in politics today is our society’s steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America’s top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country.

Barry reacts,

it’s sort of refreshing to see a senator from Virginia who sounds like a Democrat.  I think perhaps it’s also a good sign that he refrained from retaliating in kind to the nonsensical garbage the opposing campaign was running – at least nowhere near as silly and irrelevant. A harbinger of good, I hope.

The Hill protrayed Webb as wanting punch out Bush in Emily Heil’s  gossippy annonymous sourced  “Son also rises in testy Webb-Bush exchange, “ 

At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq, was doing.

Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.

“I didn’t ask you that, I asked how he’s doing,” Bush retorted, according to the source.

 Heil goes on to say that Webb admitted to the source that he was “tempted to slug the commander-in-chief,”  then duly noted that he didn’t and that his spokeswoman Kristian Denny Todd “did not want to escalate matters by commenting on Bush’s response” only saying,

Jim did have a conversation with Bush at that dinner. Basically, he asked about Jim’s son, Jim expressed the fact that he wanted to have him home….It was a private conversation.

I’m not sure whay  the Huffington Post passed on the tidbit.     Will it will help Webb win reelection in a state where according a CNN exit poll,  a minority 41% of the electorate strongly disapproved of the job that Bush is doing, and 7% of Webb’s supporters approved of Bush,  in an election where Webb needed such Bush supporters voters to win.

 I’ve criticized the supposedly non-partisan Hill for using a Republican-leaning Wilson Research Strategies to conduct polls on campaign ads with a seemingly biased analysis of voter reaction and no analysis of the claims made in the ads.  (Their latest survey is on the Bonilla (R)-Rodriquez (D) run-off in Texas and the Jefferson-Carter runoff in Louisianna.  Rodriguez served in Congress before losing his seat after the infamous 2003 redistricting.  In the latter, both candidates are Democrats–Jefferson lost support of his fellow party members when he was investigated for taking bribes..)  

 If you want to view the videos, the first three are are on YouTube:

Carter‘s  is on her campaign site.

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Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has just posted an action alert on a column I read with suspicion, while I was home.  Neoconservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer’s mentioned  Hugo Chavez in the odd take on Borat, “Just an Anti-Semitic Laugh? Hardly” published  November 24, the day after Thanksgiving.

In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez says that the “descendants of the same ones that crucified Christ” have “taken possession of all the wealth in the world.”

I wrote my second-ever blog entry after researching the press bias I observed concerning Hugo Chavez.   At the time I noted the observations of Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (email).  In  “Venezuela’s recall: The other side of the story”  from the the 9/29/03 International Herald Tribune, he compared coverage of Chavez with that of Bush’s policy towards  Iraq:

 Now there is another example of the triumph of misinformation, which  not coincidentally  again concerns an oil-rich country where the U.S. government seeks ”regime change.”  Venezuela. This time, however, it is not a dictatorship but a democracy that is under attack.

He noted the skewed media coverage in the U.S. and ended  with the suggestion that,

Those who want to hear the other side of the story  or even get a rough idea of what is actually going on  had better be prepared to spend some time digging around on the Internet.

FAIR  is asking for contacts to the Washington Post ombudsman, Deborah Howell, (email)with a copy sent to Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. (email) asking for greater accuracy.

FAIR had already debunked the anti-Semitic slur theroy on January 23, 2006 in Editing Chavez to Manufacture a Slur.” 

Rabbi Waskow  (email) of the Shalom Center  organized a protest, after he  obtained a copy of the speech.  The English translation:

The world has enough for all, but for, it turns out that some minorities, descendants of the same ones who crucified Christ, descendants of the same ones who threw Bolivar out of here and also crucified him in their own way at Santa Marta there in Colombia. –they took possession of the riches of the world, a minority took possession of the planet’s gold, the silver, the minerals, the water, the good lands, the oil, and they have concentrated all the riches in the hands of a few; less than 10 percent of the world population owns more than half of the riches of the world.

The  Simon Wiesenthal Center circulated the speech originally omitting the reference to Bolivar and received letters from various Jewish groups calling the Center to task.   The AP’s Christopher Toothaker  printed Waskow’s assessment January 05, 2006 in Hugo Chavez Accused of Anti-Semitism.”

I know of no one who accuses the Jews of fighting against Bolivar.

FAIR argues, 

Chavez was clearly referring generically to the wealthy and powerful; by Krauthammer’s reading one would have to conclude that Chavez thinks Jews persecuted Simon Bolivar and account for more than 600 million of the world’s population.

See also the March 15 op-ed by FAIR staff at Common Dreams, “Misquoting Chavez to Make Him Anti-Semitic.”

On 5/2/06, in  “Ignoring Inaccuracy at the Washington Post,”  FAIR  first wrote the Washington Post asking for documentation when on April 19, Post deputy editorial page editor Jackson Diehl wrote  that Chavez

has never enjoyed overwhelming support in Venezuela,” adding, “his ratings have mostly fluctuated a few points above and below 50 percent.

FAIR says that it never received a response

 which raises a question about accountability at the Post‘s editorial pages.

Entry for November 28, 2006

November 28, 2006

Cartoon by Canadian artist Ralph Hagen (website, email)

The Supremes have been busy.  Yesterday:

Court Rejects N.Y. Times on Leak Probe,” (AP via The Guardian), November 27

Judith Miller is in the news again, this time over a prosecutor’s probe into who leaked word of planned raids on two Muslim charities in 2001.  U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago, says the records will help point to the source of the leak. Two years ago, the newspaper won an order that barred the prosecutor from examining the phone records, which was reversed in August by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan. The Supreme Court never has squarely ruled that the media have a 1st Amendment right to protect confidential sources.

High court says no to $10b award to smokers (AP via The Boston Globe, Novembe 28)

Coming up:

“Key test of state power for Supreme Court”  Warren Richey, The Christian Science Monitor, November 29 edition (available on the web today)

States rights challenge by Elliot Spitzer of the 2001 federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) rule that subsidiary companies of national banks are governed by federal, not state, regulations.


“Global warming goes to court,” 
New York Times editorial, November 28. 

States, backed by backed by environmental  groups and scientists,  are suing the EPAgency, saying  that the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to impose limits on greenhouse gases emitted by new cars. 
 

 

 

 

Entry for November 27, 2006

November 27, 2006

The 10/31/06 cartoon, “Weapons of Mass Destruction–Found!”  is by Tony Auth (email), the 1976 Pulitizer Prize winner for editorial cartooning, who plies his trade at the Philadelphia Inquirer (for more on Auth, see the bottom of this entry). 

I was thinking of the recent local buyout of “Inky”, the local nickname for the Philadelphia Inquirer,  as I read about the Boston Globe.  In“Times Co. rejects local bid for Globe: Prospective buyers called undeterred”  Globe reporter Steve Bailey wrote on November 22,  that The New York Times  isn’t selling The Boston Globe, at least for now,  to former GE honcho Jack Welch, who is said to have offered half the $1.1 billion  the Times paid in 1993.  I guess Welch expected  firesale prices after the latest reports of losses. 

According to Bailey, the Times is  

under pressure from some shareholders. One big shareholder, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, which owns 7.6 percent of the Times Co.’s stock, has submitted a proposal seeking governance changes. Among them: putting the Times Co.’s dual-class share structure, which concentrates control in the hands of the Sulzberger family, to a shareholder vote and separating the jobs of chairman of the company and publisher of The New York Times. Both jobs are now held by Times Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

Times Co. stock is down about 8 percent this year in a market that has been hard on newspaper companies. Dow Jones & Co. is up slightly while Gannett Co. is flat and the Washington Post Co. is down slightly. By contrast, the broader stock market, as represented by the Standard & Poor’s index of the country’s 500 largest companies, is up 12 percent for the year.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s  longtime owner, Knight Ridder was forced into a sale.  On November 2, 2005, the paper published a story  “Inquirer’s owner is under fire: The holder of 19% of Knight Ridder’s stock wants all or part of the firm sold” by Tony Gnoffo and Joseph N. DiStefano.  They  reported that Private Capital Management Inc., of Naples, Fla., owned by Legg Mason Inc., of Baltimore, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission declaring that it had asked Knight Ridder’s board to

promptly pursue a competitive sale of the company….In the absence of such action [it would]…strongly consider supporting more aggressive efforts that might be initiated by other parties seeking to change the composition of the board, install new management, acquire a majority of the company’s voting shares, or take other action to maximize shareholder value.

Knight Ridder had already tried to make Wall Street divesting the Detroit Free Press to Gannett Co.  and announcing a buyout program to reduce staffing at the The Inquirer and San Jose Mercury News. As Daniel Rubin of the Inquirer  wrote in his blog October 30, 2005 :

A lot of gatherings these days along the rail that overlooks the cavernous newsroom. A religion writer catches your eye, tells you he’s leaving. He’s thinking about non-profit work, he says. Something totally different.

Your editor tells you the same thing. Taking the buyout, rewriting Act Two while he can. Others have talked about joining the Peace Corps, or retiring early to try blogging, for God’s sake. A lot of people are suddenly looking younger.

We’re saying goodbye to 75 journalists – 15 percent of the 506 positions we have at the Inquirer. The Daily News is losing 25 of its 130 newsroom jobs – that’s 19 percent. It’s not clear whether this publicly held corporation will have to lay off anyone to meet its numbers, but the place where one gets one’s buyout papers is doing land-office business. We’re more than two thirds of the way there with five days to go. 

His prescription:

 

Use your army of 400-plus journalists to beat the local television and radio stations to the punch, create “a culture of urgency” online, post sound and video and cherish the freedom of being able to offer longer, more in-depth pieces that commercial considerations have scared electronic media from offering.

One area expecially gutted was the news library, according to Eli Edwards, a library specialists at Stanford and member of the American Library Association  Committee on the Impact on Media Consolidation on Libraryies. 

 

March 13, 2006 Mediabuyerplanner said that Editor and Publisher had reported   that McClatchy would purchase Knight Ridder and sell off 12 papers in non-growth markets including Philadelphia.

 

Joseph N. DiStefano and Jennifer Lin reported on March 24, 2006  “Phila. investors buy Inquirer, Daily NewsThe price: $562 million for papers, online and other holdings. ”

Republican  advertising and public-relations entrepreneur Brian P. Tierney, who organized the buyers promised,

 

The next great era of Philadelphia journalism begins today….No one thought we could do this [but] there’s a real jewel here.

 

Maxwell E.P. King, a former Inquirer executive editor and now president of the Heinz Endowments in Pittsburgh worried

 

about the independence and integrity of the news coverage

Reader C. M. Henrycommented

 

Keep in mind the fact that Brian P. Tierney was a very highly paid PR person for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and successfully squashed many stories that were true and should have seen the light of day in the Philly newspapers but never did.

 

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia still has not been fully accountable for what has been detailed in the 2005 Philadelphia Grand Jury Report and the archdiocese is probably giving a sigh of relief that Tierney will be in charge.

 

Tierney said his investors signed a pledge not to interfere with news coverage, and promised not to sell their investments for at least five years.

 

I was an advocate in advertising and public relations for my clients. Now I’m going to be a zealous advocate for this organization.

 

He promised an end to

 

corporate owners [who] cut, cut, cut for short-term profits….We want to grow the business, not manage for decline. 

 

He said the owners would use a part of their wealth to

secure these assets for the future.

According to the New York Sun, former president Bill Clinton was part of a

a rival bid by Yucaipa, a private investment firm which had offered to sell shares to employees, an offer supported by The Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia.

 

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The honeymoon is over for Tierney, as he has threatened 150 editorial layoffs November 6 according to Anne Gordon, managing editor.  That’s  twice the number lost last yeasr. 

Then as I was finishing this entry,  Editor and Publisher’s Joe Strupp and the AP’s  Deborah Yao  both reported that a strike is brewing by Thursday, after two one-month extensions to contracts.

 Meanwhile, E&P issued a special report today, “Is Hometown Ownership really the Next Big Thing?” by Mark Fitzgerald and Jennifer Saba.    

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For a nice bio of Tony Auth, see Charley Parker’s  October 12, 2006 entry on his blog lines and colors.  Charley is the creator of the web comic Argon Zark!, where you can find  a bio and email for him.

There’s a retrospective of Auth at the Galleries at Moore College.  His cartoons can be searched the reprint archive for Universal Press Syndicate. The most recent cartoons are here.

In 2005, Auth received the Herblock prize for cartooning.  Here’s how he opened his acceptance speech:

It’s a huge honor to receive a prize named in memory of Herblock.  But, ladies and gentlemen, I knew Herblock.  Herblock was a friend of mine.  Ladies and gentlemen, I’m no Herblock.  On the other hand,  I’m not even half way through the length of Herb’s career, so I’ve got time to improve.  I mentioned this to one colleague who responded, “Thomas Nast isn’t half-way through Herb’s career.

Exxon’s Deep Pockets: Climate Change Denial

November 27, 2006

Joe Chemo spoof ad from the July 1996 issue of the Canadian magazine  Adbusters (artist unknown–will update if the art editor can enlighten me).  The character of Joe was suggested by Scott Plous (webpage, email, interview), a social psych prof at Wesleyan University,

I found the ad, while searching for an illustration to accompany my entry about “Science a la Joe Camel,” Laurie David’s November 26 op ed in the Washington Post.  A producer of “An Inconvenient Truth,” a Natural Resources Defense Council trustee and founder of StopGlobalWarming, org, David (bio, email)  writes about how the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) turned down 50,000 free copies of the movie.

I hadn’t realized it, but the film is another from Participant Productions, which I wrote about concerning its making of Syriana. Participant is currently sptrsfinh eotk og The Climate Project (email) of Tennessee’s efforts to train 1,000 folks to give a slideshow to inform the public the latest facts on global warming.

David writes of the NSTA,

In their e-mail rejection, they expressed concern that other “special interests” might ask to distribute materials, too; they said they didn’t want to offer “political” endorsement of the film; and they saw “little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members” in accepting the free DVDs.

Gore, however, is not running for office, and the film’s theatrical run is long since over. As for classroom benefits, the movie has been enthusiastically endorsed by leading climate scientists worldwide, and is required viewing for all students in Norway and Sweden.

Still, maybe the NSTA just being extra cautious. But there was one more curious argument in the e-mail: Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place “unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters.” One of those supporters, it turns out, is the Exxon Mobil Corp.

When I looked at NSTA’s website, I was struck by its invitation :

Call us to learn more about how you can make multiple profitable impressions.

Exxon-Mobile provides funds for a huge number  of think tanks and astroturf groups seeking to cast doubt on scientific research about global warming,   according to the ExxonSecrets.org database  maintained as a project of Greenpeace.  The list is so long, I’ve placed it at the end of this article.  You will recognize some of these groups from previous entries such my list of sponsors of the Conservative Political Action Conference and my entry on the State Policy Insitute.

In one example, Greenpeace maintains that

While NTSA doesn’t want an free movies participant productions, it turns out the group has not turned down classroom materials from Exxon debunking the  theory of global warming.  As David writes,

It’s bad enough when a company tries to sell junk science to a bunch of grown-ups. But, like a tobacco company using cartoons to peddle cigarettes, Exxon Mobil is going after our kids, too.

And it has been doing so for longer than you may think. NSTA says it has received $6 million from the company since 1996, mostly for the association’s “Building a Presence for Science” program, an electronic networking initiative intended to “bring standards-based teaching and learning” into schools, according to the NSTA Web site. Exxon Mobil has a representative on the group’s corporate advisory board. And in 2003, NSTA gave the company an award for its commitment to science education.

She continues,

In the past year alone, according to its Web site, Exxon Mobil’s foundation gave $42 million to key organizations that influence the way children learn about science, from kindergarten until they graduate from high school.

And Exxon Mobil isn’t the only one getting in on the action. Through textbooks, classroom posters and teacher seminars, the oil industry, the coal industry and other corporate interests are exploiting shortfalls in education funding by using a small slice of their record profits to buy themselves a classroom soapbox.

According to David, NSTA’s list of corporate donors include Shell Oil and the American Petroleum Institute (API).  The latter funds NSTA’s Web site on the science of energy.

There, students can find a section called “Running on Oil” and read a page that touts the industry’s environmental track record — citing improvements mostly attributable to laws that the companies fought tooth and nail, by the way — but makes only vague references to spills or pollution. NSTA has distributed a video produced by API called “You Can’t Be Cool Without Fuel,” a shameless pitch for oil dependence.

Ominous is the API memo leaked to the media as long ago as 1998 explaining the association outreach to schools:

Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in climate science will begin to erect barriers against further efforts to impose Kyoto-like measures in the future.

API’s strategy seems to be working, if this message board, Toledo Talk,  is any sign.  Here folks argue how global warming is a good thing.  You know warm winters and all.  Am I the only one creeped out when I see pansies blooming at New Year’s?

You can find  read about the memo in Jim Drinkard’s  June 23, 1998 USA Today
article, “Lobbyists Trying to Sway Younger Minds” which is available on the site for the Center for  Commercial Free Education which got its start in battling Channel One.  While it appears to be defunt, its resources are still available through the imbiblio archive.

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At its annual convention NSTA  features displays of  Exxon’s “many . . . education materials” David writes that John Borowski, a science teacher at North Salem High School in Salem, Ore.,

was dismayed by NSTA’s partnerships with industrial polluters when he attended the association’s annual convention this year and witnessed hundreds of teachers and school administrators walk away with armloads of free corporate lesson plans.

And it’s not just Exxon Mobil providing propaganda challenging global warming.  Other  curricular offerings included

lessons on forestry provided by Weyerhaeuser and International Paper, Borowski says, and the benefits of genetic engineering courtesy of biotech giant Monsanto.

As Borowski told David,

The materials from the American Petroleum Institute and the other corporate interests are the worst form of a lie: omission….The oil and coal guys won’t address global warming, and the timber industry papers over clear-cuts.

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Borowski (email) writes regularly on environmental education.  Here are some of his articles:

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In an  interesting convergene with  David’s  use  Joe Camel, take a look at “Smoke Signals: Global-warming activists can learn from the anti-smoking campaign” by Audrey Schulman in the February 3, 2004 Grist.

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Here are the links to fact sheets on Exxon-Mobile donations:

  • 60/Sixty Plus Association
  • Accuracy in Academia
  • Accuracy in Media
  • Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty
  • Africa Fighting Malaria
  • Air Quality Standards Coalition
  • Alexis de Tocqueville Institution
  • Alliance for Climate Strategies
  • American Coal Foundation
  • American Conservative Union Foundation
  • American Council for Capital Formation Center for Policy Research
  • American Council on Science and Health
  • American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • American Enterprise Institute-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies
  • American Friends of the Institute for Economic Affairs
  • American Legislative Exchange Council
  • American Petroleum Institute
  • American Policy Center
  • American Recreation Coalition
  • American Spectator Foundation
  • Americans for Tax Reform
  • Arizona State University Office of Cimatology
  • Aspen Institute
  • Association of Concerned Taxpayers
  • Atlantic Legal Foundation
  • Atlas Economic Research Foundation
  • Blue Ribbon Coalition
  • Capital Legal Foundation
  • Capital Research Center and Greenwatch
  • Cato Institute
  • Center for American and International Law
  • Center for Environmental Education Research
  • Center for Security Policy
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise
  • Center for the New West
  • Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change
  • Centre for the New Europe
  • Chemical Education Foundation
  • Citizens for A Sound Economy and CSE Educational Foundation
  • Citizens for the Environment and CFE Action Fund
  • Clean Water Industry Coalition
  • Climate Research Journal
  • Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow
  • Communications Institute
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute
  • Congress of Racial Equality
  • Consumer Alert
  • Cooler Heads Coalition
  • Council for Solid Waste Solutions
  • DCI Group
  • Defenders of Property Rights
  • Earthwatch Institute
  • ECO or Environmental Conservation Organization
  • European Enterprise Institute
  • ExxonMobil Corporation
  • Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies
  • Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment
  • Fraser Institute
  • Free Enterprise Action Institute
  • Free Enterprise Education Institute
  • Frontiers of Freedom Institute and Foundation
  • George C. Marshall Institute
  • George Mason University, Law and Economics Center (ouch!)
  • Global Climate Coalition
  • Great Plains Legal Foundation
  • Greening Earth Society
  • Harvard Center for Risk Analysis
  • Heartland Institute
  • Heritage Foundation
  • Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford University
  • Hudson Institute
  • Illinois Policy Institute
  • Independent Commission on Environmental Education
  • Independent Institute
  • Institute for Biospheric Research
  • Institute for Energy Research
  • Institute for Regulatory Science
  • Institute for Senior Studies
  • Institute for the Study of Earth and Man
  • Institute of Humane Studies, George Mason University
  • Interfaith Stewardship Alliance
  • International Council for Capital Formation
  • International Policy Network – North America
  • International Republican Institute
  • James Madison Institute
  • Junkscience.com
  • Landmark Legal Foundation
  • Lexington Institute
  • Lindenwood University
  • Mackinac Center
  • Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
  • Media Institute
  • Media Research Center
  • Mercatus Center, George Mason University
  • Mountain States Legal Foundation
  • National Association of Neighborhoods
  • National Black Chamber of Commerce
  • National Center for Policy Analysis
  • National Center for Public Policy Research
  • National Council for Environmental Balance
  • National Environmental Policy Institute
  • National Legal Center for the Public Interest
  • National Mining Association
  • National Policy Forum
  • National Wetlands Coalition
  • National Wilderness Institute
  • New England Legal Foundation
  • Pacific Legal Foundation
  • Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy
  • Peabody Energy
  • Property and Environment Research Center, formerly Political Economy Research Center
  • Public Interest Watch
  • Reason Foundation
  • Reason Public Policy Institute
  • Science and Environmental Policy Project
  • Seniors Coalition
  • Shook, Hardy and Bacon LLP
  • Small Business Survival Committee (since when is Exxon a small business?)
  • Southeastern Legal Foundation
  • Stanford University GCEP
  • Statistical Assessment Service (STATS)
  • Tech Central Science Foundation or Tech Central Station
  • Texas Public Policy Foundation
  • The Advancement of Sound Science Center, Inc.
  • The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition
  • The Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy
  • The Justice Foundation (formerly Texas Justice Foundation)
  • The Locke Institute
  • United for Jobs
  • University of Oklahoma Foundation, Inc.
  • US Russia Business Council
  • Virginia Institute for Public Policy
  • Washington Legal Foundation
  • Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy
  • Western Fuels
  • World Climate Report
  • Entry for November 25, 2006

    November 25, 2006

    Photo by Michael Powell accompanied his Washington Post story yesterday, “Despite Fewer Lockups, NYC Has Seen Big Drop in Crime.”

    Commissioner Martin F. Horn, who oversees the city lockups, including Rikers Island:

    What we’ve seen in New York is the fastest drop in crime in the nation, and we did it while locking up a lot less people….The only people using these cells now are the directors and actors from ‘Law and Order.’

    Powell calls it

     one of the least-told stories in American crime-fighting

    New York, the safest big city in the nation, achieved its now-legendary 70-percent drop in homicides even as it locked up fewer and fewer of its citizens during the past decade. The number of prisoners in the city has dropped from 21,449 in 1993 to 14,129 this past week. That runs counter to the national trend, in which prison admissions have jumped 72 percent during that time.

     

    Sabrina Pacifici (from LLRX.com), her husband  and I got together for dinner tonight at Eden Center, the Vietnamese shopping district in Falls Church at The Four Sisters, favored by the chefs at the Inn at Little Washington, according to The Hill’s Albert Eisele.  We had eel salad, caramilized fish and vegetables and tofu on rice noodles.

    Mark Reutter called from Alliance, Nebraska en route back to Urbanna, IL, to report on his visit to the Ames Pyramid (photo), errected to those Pharohs of Corruption, railroad barrons  Oakes and Oliver Ames.

    Entry for November 24, 2006

    November 25, 2006

     Cartoon by Baton Rouge musician Sparkie Hostream (email).

    Washington Post op-ed columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr.’s in today’s piece, “An Electronic Canary,” talks about more irregularities in Florida elections–this time in Sarasota County:

    The official vote count in the battle for — you won’t believe this — Katherine Harris’s seat put Republican Vern Buchanan 369 votes ahead of Democrat Christine Jennings out of roughly 238,000 votes cast.

    But in Sarasota County, there was an “undervote” of more than 18,000 — meaning that those voters supposedly didn’t choose to record votes in the Buchanan-Jennings race. Jennings carried the county 53 percent to 47 percent.

    The Sarasota undervote in the congressional race amounted to nearly 15 percent. Kendall Coffey, Jennings’s lawyer, has pointed out that in the other four counties in the district, the undervote ranged from 2.2 to 5.3 percent. Put another way, roughly 18,000 of the 21,000 undervotes in the contest came from Sarasota County.

    It’s hard to believe that Sarasota’s voters had a different view of the race than voters everywhere else in the district, considering that the undervote on the county’s absentee ballots, cast on paper, was only 2.5 percent. The upshot: Any reasonable statistical analysis suggests that only 3,000 to 5,000 of Sarasota’s undervotes were intentional, meaning that 13,000 to 15,000 votes were probably not counted.

    If you believe that these machines operated properly, then you must also believe that I missed my true vocation as an NBA center.

    *

    A link from John Dufresne, the Warholizer.  And today I read an example of what John  would call a short story wating to be written:  “In Canada, a Sequel to an Old Cloak-and-Dagger Story: Suspect Could Be ‘Part of the First Post-Soviet Generation’ of Spies for Russia” by Doug Struck of the Foreign Service Desk.

     

    *

    Now  with David Brancaccio featured a program (video) on New Orleans charter schools, in particular the Lafayette Academy.  My question:  if the books weren’t delivered by the beginning of school, why didn’t the teachers go online and get some alternate material? 

    Entry for November 23, 2006

    November 25, 2006

    The cover  is from the OMB and Public Citizen report, “The Cost is Too High: How Susan Dudley Threatens Public Protections.”

    Happy Thanksgiving. 

    On Tuesday, OMB Watch sent out an alert asking folks to write their Senators asking that they vote no on the nomination of Susan Dudley to head the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

    Entry for November 22, 2006

    November 22, 2006

    Greetings from the Richard E. Byrd library in Springfield, VA, where I prepared termpapers as a child.  I found this photo of Robert Altman at Gerald Peary’s site featuring an  interview with Altman at the time of the release of Gosford Park.

    Bob Balaban came to me two-and-a-half years ago and asked if there was something we could develop together. I said, ‘I’ve never done a who-done-it. People come to an English house for the weekend.’ Some who watch the movie say, ‘I knew from the beginning who did it. You didn’t hide it very well.’ I say,’If you figured it out, that’s OK. I wasn’t trying to make a mystery.’ We’re not going to sit around for 2 1/2 hours to discover the plot, I’m bored with plots. And I’m not interested that anyone pay for the crime. That’s not what I care about. Less than 50% of murderers in the world are caught. What purpose would it serve?

    When John C. called last night, he let me know that filmmaker Robert Altman had died; I hadn’t heard because an accident near Staunton slowed traffic to 2 miles per hour (literally)  combined with other holiday slowdowns turned a four hour trip into one that lasted eight hours, not counting a half hour dinner break.

    In today’s Washington Post I read of the scary treatment by DC police in staff writer Carol D. Leonnig’s Police Agree to Protester Reforms: Lawsuit Alleging Abuse During 2001 Inauguration Is Settled,”

    The Partnership for Civil Justice, a civil liberties advocacy group, and a group of local residents brought the suit five years ago to try to force the police department under Chief Charles H. Ramsey to change what it considered an illegal pattern of treating protesters like suspected criminals.

    Ironically, one person mistreated was Mike Shinn

    a security consulting company owner who joined in the suit settled yesterday [who] said he was glad that the department would be forced to follow the laws of the country. Shinn, a Bush supporter who went to watch the inaugural celebration, said he felt he was in another country when police pushed him, other spectators and protesters against a wall and an officer hit him on the head from behind with a baton.

    Shinn told Leonnig,

    I tried to explain what I was doing and ask him what he wanted me to do, and he hit me againHe said, ‘Do you want some more of this?” I was just shocked, just utterly shocked. I thought: What in the world are they teaching them?

    Given Bush’s reputation for making sure that crowds look hospitable, one wonders that Mr. Shinn supports him.  Shinn also told Leonnig:

    You can’t arrest people for just having opinions, as unpopular as they may be,” he said. “You don’t just arrest everybody on the streets because you think they might have an opinion. It flies in the face of everything that is America.

    I always thought the DC police were better with demonstrators than the police in other cities, but as of late, that must not be the case.  They’ve also been in other trouble.

    In January 2005, the District government agreed to pay $425,000 to seven people caught up in a mass arrest at Pershing Park in September 2002. More than 400 people were rounded up at the downtown park during demonstrations against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Several investigations found that Assistant Chief Peter J. Newsham, after conferring with Ramsey, had ordered arrests without warning or evidence of a crime — including of people who had nothing to do with the protests.

    And that’s not all, according to Leonnig:

    In January 2004, the city agreed to pay $7,000 to $10,000 to each of three Corcoran College of Art students who sued. The students had said that they were photographing the Pershing Park protests and were encouraged by police to enter the park and then arrested in the roundup.

    *

    Leonnig also has a November 4 story of interest written in conjunction with Eric Rich, U.S. Seeks Silence on CIA Prisons: Court Is Asked to Bar Detainees From Talking About Interrogations.” According to an October 26 filing to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, the Bush administration says that .

     terrorism suspects held in secret CIA prisons should not be allowed to reveal details of the “alternative interrogation methods” that their captors used to get them to talk.

    Since those interrogation methods are now among the most sensitive national security secrets, their release even to the detainees’ own attorneys, could according to the brief

    reasonably be expected to cause extremely grave damage.

     

    Entry for November 21, 2006

    November 21, 2006

    I’m at New River Community College in the library at Brown, as I wait for Carol to arrive from Christiansburg.  This will be brief as I’m off to NOVA to cook turkey for Ma and Carol.   Don’t know if I will be able to get hold of a computer before next Monday.  We’ll see.

    *

    Walton Davis Morris Jr. is a sole practitioner in Charlottesville, Virginia, who was kind enough to call me back today about a queston about the Suface Act and Reclaimation Act of 1977.  Cindy Rank had let me know about him. 

    He suggested that I contact Nick Rahall’s aid, Jim Zoia, as someone knowledgeable about Rahall’s amendments of the Act.  Morris also had  some interesting insights into  Rahall’s strengths regarding the environment, which I intend to resesarch further, in order to present a balanced picture. 

    Here’s a link to one the cases Morris argued. 

    Speaking of insight, Rob McGee, a retired mine safety expert with the PA DEP, AKA Rocky Ledge,  has been conversing with me  about his thoughts on the Stickler nomination over at U.S. the Mine Rescue Association forum

    *

    Other interesting reading:

    Good Jobs First  Subsidies in the News .

    Philip Mattera writes

    Iowa debates skilled-labor shortage

    Iowa, like other states, faces a shortage of skilled workers as baby boomers retire (see Chapter 9 of the Great American Jobs Scam for more details). A new initiative in the state is trying to do something about the problem. The Iowa Workers Campaign–a non-partisan coalition of more than three dozen unions, community colleges and non-profits–recently put out a report that urges a reorientation of the state’s economic development policies. Warning that “Iowa is approach a demographic cliff,” the report calls for “a broad, coherent and well-integrated workforce investment and systems change strategy that targets high growth, high skill industries and provides access to education and training that leads to good jobs for all Iowans.”

     The report’s theme was picked up in two editorials in the Des Moines Register in the period leading up to the election. The paper complained that the candidates for governor were ignoring the problem, perhaps because “it doesn’t lend itself to sound bites in 30-second commercials.” It is now up to the new governor, Democrat Chet Culver, to address the issue.