Category: Ethics

Limbaugh Show Has Lost 35 Advertisers in Missoula

Rush Limbaugh

RushOutOfMissoula.com, the grassroots effort to push Rush Limbaugh off KGVO Radio in Missoula, Montana, announced this week that three more advertisers have walked away from Limbaugh’s show in the last week, bringing the total to advertisers who have ended their sponsorship of Limbaugh’s show on KGVO to 35. Dave Chrismon, organizer of RushOutOfMissoula, thanked supporters for “helping draw attention to this bully and his track record of nasty, personal attacks.” When RushOutOfMissoula first debuted on April 13, 2012, the Limbaugh Show in Missoula aired four public service announcements. By June 29th that number had jumped to 13 as the radio station struggled to fill gaps left by advertisers fleeing the show. Ads for local businesses dropped from 26 in April to 17 on June 29th. KGVO is still filling the same number of ad slots but is repeating many of the same ads frequently and running many more PSAs in place of paid ads. Adair Jewelers, Sunshine Motors, Trader Brothers, and H & H Meats are some of the local advertisers whose ads have run more than once in the same program. Adair Jewelers, whose owner denounced the RushOutOfMissoula effort as “blackmail,” has had as many as eight ads run in the same program. Businesses and nonprofit groups who have removed their advertising from Limbaugh’s show report they have continued to receive harassing phone calls from Rush supporters. To stop this, RushOutOfMissoula stopped listing these businesses on the site’s “Rush’s Advertisers” page, and changed to an “opt-in” policy where businesses will appear if they request it.  The group will continue to keep records of advertisers who pull their ads as a result of efforts by RushOutOfMissoula.

PA Legislator Outs Voter ID as Strategy to Benefit Mitt Romney

A Republican legislator from Pennsylvania inadvertently confirmed what liberals have long suspected: that so-called “voter I.D.” laws are a political strategy to help Republicans win more elections.  While speaking at a meeting before the Republican State Committee in Hershey, Pennsylvania on June 23, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai proudly listed the Republican Party’s accomplishments in the state while the party controlled both the governorship and the legislature. His list included enacting a “Castle Doctrine” act (a “shoot first” law like the one George Zimmerman claimed shielded him from prosecution after killing unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin earlier this year) and regulations that make it harder for women to obtain abortions. Then Turzia added, “Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania. Done.” Democrats pounced on Turzia’s statement as evidence showing that co-called “Voter ID” laws are really a strategy to suppress liberal votes and help put Republicans in office. Republicans have long argued that requiring citizens to show photo ID at the polls is necessary to maintain the integrity of elections, but opponents point out that voter fraud is an almost non-existent problem.  In their practical implementation, voter ID laws have had the effect of wrongfully disenfranchising legitimate voters across the country, and making voting more difficult for members of discrete groups that tend to lean more Democratic, like city dwellers, students, minorities and the elderly.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 28, 2012

Biotech Giant Syngenta Facing Criminal Charges Over GM Corn

Spontaneous abortion, one of the symptoms seen in livestock eating genetically-modified corn feed.

The big biotechnology firm Syngenta is facing criminal charges for covering up a U.S. study that showed cows died after eating the company’s genetically-modified (GM) corn. The charges came after a long struggle by Gottfried Gloeckner, a German dairy farmer and former supporter of genetically-modified crops, agreed to participate in authorized field tests of “Bt176,” a corn variety manufactured by Syngenta that was genetically-modified to express an insect toxin and a gene that made the corn resistant to glufosinate herbicides.  Gloeckner allowed the GM corn to be grown on his farm from 1997 to 2002, and fed the resulting corn to his dairy herd. By 2000, Gloeckner was feeding his cows exclusively Bt176 corn. Shortly after, several of Gloeckner’s cows became sick. Five died and others had decreased milk yields. Syngenta paid Gloeckner 40,000 euros as partial compensation for his losses and veterinary costs. Gloeckner brought a civil suit against Syngenta over the loss, but Syngenta refused to admit its GM corn could be in any way related to the illnesses and deaths of Gloeckner’s cows. The court dismissed the civil case and Gloeckner received no further payments from Syngenta, leaving him thousands of Euros in debt. Gloeckner stopped using the GM feed in 2002, but continued to lose cows. In 2009, Gloeckner discovered Syngenta had commissioned a study in the U.S. of its GM feed in 1996. In that study, four cows died within two days of eating the GM feed, and the study was abruptly ended.

Dell Walks Away From the American Legislative Exchange Council

Dell Computers became the latest company to drop its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council, the right-wing group behind the spread of voter suppression laws and “shoot first” laws like the one invoked by George Zimmerman, the man involved in the Trayvon Martin murder in Florida. Deborah Albers, Dell’s principal social strategies, wrote in a letter to ThinkProgress, that the company “will not be renewing our participation” in ALEC. Albers is based at Dell in Round Rock, Texas.

Source: International Business Times, June 21, 2012

Two Rare Candidates for Colorado House Publicly Reject Corporate Funding

Jovan Melton, running for Colorado House, has rejected corporate and special interest funding for his campaign.

CleanSlateNow.org is a unique Colorado group that is trying to help get big money out of politics by supporting candidates who don’t take special interest PAC money. Currently, only two candidates running for state office in Colorado have made the unusual and admirable public decision to turn down any and all special interest money. They are Jovan Melton, a Democrat, running for a House seat in District 41 (Aurora), and Jeffrey Hare, a Republican, running for a House seat in District 48 (Weld County). The two are running in primaries that are mail-in ballot elections, and so far thousands of people who have gotten ballots have not yet turned them in. The deadline for getting ballots in is 7:00 pm on Tuesday, June 26. Both races are extremely close, and a few votes either way could make the difference. Voters get few chances to vote for candidates who reject corporate money, and they certainly shouldn’t squander this chance. CleanSlateNow.org urges people living in these districts to cast ballots as soon as possible for these two admirable candidates and make sure to get their ballots in on time.

“Energy Times” and the Stealth Marketing of Dietary Supplements

“Napalm,” a dietary supplement found by FDA to contain a chemical called DMAA, which can lead to a heart attack.

Yesterday I stopped at a Natural Grocers market to pick up some ginger ale, and the store gave me a free copy of the June issue of a magazine called “Energy Times” with my purchase. As I glanced through it before throwing it out, I noticed it contained big ads for supplements that promised weight loss, “digestive perfection,” better blood circulation, additional energy and sexual enhancement. Page 12 had an article saying the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is “attacking health freedom.” Right next to the article was a prepaid, business-reply tear-out postcard with blazing red lettering screaming, “Don’t Let the FDA Take Your Vitamins Away! …Join the [National Health Alliance] and protect your health care rights.”

I follow much of what the FDA does, and I just didn’t buy the idea that the FDA was out to take away vitamins or infringe on my health care rights. But it got my curiosity up about how I ended up with this crazy magazine.

Christian Groups Using U.S. Soldiers as Government-Paid Missionaries

The wall of separation between church and state in the military has completely disappeared. A network of hard-line Christian chaplains and fundamentalist parachurch ministries that operate inside the military are using it as a fertile recruiting ground for coercing soldiers to become Christians. A video posted June 15, 2012 by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation contains actual footage of military chaplains saying young people who enter the military become “government-paid missionaries when they leave here.” The missionaries’ strategy? Pounce on soldiers with the gospel at the most difficult points in their training, when they are most vulnerable. Army Ranger School Chaplain Major Jeff Struecker explains,

“Army Ranger School puts the Ranger student in the absolute worst possible conditions. Most of them will go a couple of days with no food. Some of them have gone as long as three days without any sleep whatsoever. My goal has been to meet them when they are at their absolute worst, when they’re coldest and they’re most tired and the most hungry that they’re going to be, because the more difficult the circumstances [a person is in], the more receptive the average person becomes to issues of faith. Many of them are … confronted with the gospel for the first time with no distractions, and I think that’s part of the reason why a number of them will respond.”

RJR’s “Project SCUM” Targeted Gays, the Homeless, Immigrants and Youth

 

Front page of RJR’s “Project Scum” document

This post is part of our ongoing series exploring the millions of previously-secret tobacco industry documents now available on the Internet. – Ed.

“Project SCUM” was R.J. Reynolds’ plan to increase sales of Camel cigarettes in the San Francisco area by marketing them to gay people in the Castro district, “rebellious, Generation X” -ers, people of “international influence” and “street people,” by introducing Camel cigarettes into less-traditional retail outlets like “head shops.” SCUM was an acronym that stood for “Sub-Culture Urban Marketing.” RJR’s rationale for the project was a higher incidence of smoking and drug use in these subcultures.  There are several versions of the “Project SCUM” document, ranging in dates from 1995-97.  Each offers revealing marginalia (handwritten markings on the page). For example, in one document, handwritten in next to a bulleted list of consumer subcultures are the words “Gay/Castro” and “Tenderloin,” referring to gay areas of San Francisco.  Next to a list that discusses the rationale for the program, a line says “higher incidents of smoking in subcultures” and has the phrase “and drugs” handwritten in.  On yet another copy, the phrase “and drugs” is crossed out, revealing RJR’s  ambivalence about their exploitation of the drug culture.  A later copy of the document’s title page has the word “SCUM” crossed out and the word “Sourdough” handwritten in, as though RJR  realized too late the derogatory name they had slapped on their customers. See a copy of RJR’s Project Scum document here.

 

U.S. Military Revokes Approval of Military Emblems on Bibles

Cover of Holman Military Bible

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) announced it has won a major battle to halt the publication of Bibles bearing official U.S. armed forces emblems on the covers. The bibles were published by Holman Bible Publishers, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Bibles also contained a fake quote from George Washington that was created by excerpting a paragraph of Washington’s 1783 letter to the governors of the states at the end of the Revolutionary War and altering it to make it into a prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Almost 2,000 servicemembers contacted MRFF to complain that the bibles were being featured on the shelves of military exchanges and in stores around the world. The bibles made it look like the Bible was endorsed by the U.S. military and was the official religious text of the U.S. military services. MRFF says that over the past few years, it has received more complaints from servicemembers about these bibles than any other single separation of church and state issue it has dealt with. MRFF says the bibles were a “clear violation of the U.S. Constitution” because they used U.S. armed forces logos to promote a specific religious text. Responding to pressure by MRFF over the inappropriateness of the bibles, all four branches of the U.S. Military revoked their approval of the Military series of Holman Christian Standard Bibles, blocking further use of their emblems on the texts.

Source: Military Religious Freedom Foundation, June 12, 2012

Johnson & Johnson Ditches ALEC

Citizens protest ALEC. (Credit: Raw Story)

Johnson & Johnson announced it is ending its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the embattled right-wing bill mill charged with spreading “shoot first” laws like the one that drew attention in the killing earlier this year of unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin. J&J is the 19th company to flee ALEC, and held a seat on ALEC’s “Private Enterprise Board.” The company made the announcement after a petition and phone campaign by People for the American Way Foundation, the Color of Change and other groups gathered more than half a million signatures asking corporations to end their support of ALEC’s agenda.  ALEC has been a driving force behind the spread of voter suppression laws across the country, like the law that led to the purge of legitimate voters from Florida’s voter rolls.  The U.S. Department of Justice filed a formal lawsuit against Florida today to stop the purge. J&J issued a statement saying it did not “condone legislative proposals that could serve, even inadvertently, to limit the rights or impact the safety of any individual,” and that it worked with ALEC only on “matters that help create a climate that supports jobs and innovation in the U.S.” Other companies and organizations that have dropped their ALEC memberships include Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Kraft, Wendy’s, Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, Yum! Brands, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Intuit, Mars, Inc., Arizona Public Service, and Kaplan.

Sources: Sources: People for the American Way, press release, June 12, 2012 and NJ.com, June 12, 2012

ALEC Under Investigation in Minnesota

The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board has agreed to investigate Common Cause’s complaint that the American Legislative Exchange Council engages in false and deceptive practices. Common Cause says ALEC has improperly failed to register as a lobbyist in Minnesota.  Common Cause filed a complaint against ALEC in mid May, 2012 along with documentation the group says points to ALEC’s lobbying activities.  Common Cause received a  letter back from the Campaign Finance Board saying it would look into the group’s charges of improper activity by ALEC. The letter said the Board is unable to disclose information received from either party regarding the complaint, that it will review the status of the investigation in an executive session at its June meeting and will likely delay consideration of the matter until its July meeting. When the investigation is complete, the Board will release its findings publicly by posting them on its website, cfboard.state.mn.us.

Source: Minnesota Public Radio News, May 29, 2012

More Advertisers Yank Ads from Limbaugh Show on KGVO in Missoula

Supporters of the effort to get Rush Limbaugh off the airwaves in Missoula, Montana are celebrating another milestone this week: They’ve gotten fully thirty advertisers to pull their ads off Limbaugh’s show on KGVO radio in Missoula. To emphasize that Rush Limbaugh is a bully who is offensive to their community, RushOutOfMissoula.com this week features video of a March, 2012 interview with Michael J. Fox on CNN’s Piers Morgan Show that revisits Limbaugh’s 2006 attack on Fox after Fox made a political ad supporting Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill because of her stand supporting stem cell research. In the ad, Fox displays obvious symptoms of Parkinson’s disease as he twitches and moves awkwardly during the ad. Limbaugh characterized the ad as “shameless,” saying it was “purely an act.” He speculated that Fox was either acting or that he intentionally stopped taking his anti-Parkinson’s medicine prior to making the ad to emphasize the severity of his symptoms and elicit sympathy. The backlash against Limbaugh’s cruel and inappropriate statements about Fox eventually prompted Limbaugh to say he would “apologize to Michael J. Fox, if I am wrong in his characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act, since people are telling me they have seen him this way on other interviews and in other television appearances.” RushOutOfMissoula.com supporters are moving forward in their efforts to pressure advertisers to leave the show, saying Limbaugh is a bully who exceeds the limits of community norms by vulgarly denigrating others for their political views.

2nd-Tier Media Struggles to Highlight Romney’s Remarkable Stream of Lies

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has gained the distinction of putting forth the most bald-faced lies of any candidate ever while running for office. In March, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow devoted a entire 14 minute-long segment to Romney’s remarkable string of lies in which she acknowledged that expectations are low for politician’s honesty in general, but said that to win the presidency, “You have to not be a liar.” Maddow said, “The degree to which Mr. Romney lies all the time about all sorts of stuff and doesn’t care when he gets caught, is maybe the single most notable thing about his campaign.” Maddow documented a long list of statements Romney has made during his campaign that are contradicted by easily-verfiable facts, like his claims that the economy has gotten worse since Obama took over the presidency, or that he never called for a national health care law. Now a perennial politician, Romney has been a public figure for so many years, that there is a clear record of things he has said and positions he’s taken on issues, which makes it relatively easy to document whether what he says now about his past positions is true or not. Romney has dished out frank lies on a huge number of topics in this campaign alone: his record on gay rights, Obama’s trade and tax policies, the tax rate he himself pays, his job creation record, his record on abortion rights, his record as governor of Massachusetts, and many other issues. His string of lies is historic, even in the annals of particularly dirty U.S. politics.

Freedom from Religion Foundation Urges Protests Against Religious Domination

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) based in Madison, Wisconsin is pushing back against a new coalition, “Stand up for Religious Freedom,” led by the Pro-Life Action League and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, that is leading a nationwide rally June 8 to “stop the HHS mandate.” The religious groups oppose a provision in the Obama administration’s new health insurance law that requires most private health insurers cover FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, including the “morning after pill.” The Department of Health and Human Services’ so-called mandate includes an exemption for religious employers who object to contraception, and the rule does not apply to any churches, but that doesn’t go far enough for these organizations, which are trying to block all financial assistance with contraceptives. Moreover, the Catholic Bishops have introduced into Congress the so-called “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” which goes even further than banning financial help with contraceptives. The Bishops’ bill would allow any private employer with a “religious or moral objection” to veto coverage for specific treatments for employees. For example, an employer who is a Jehovah’s Witnesses could bar coverage of emergency blood transfusions for its employees, and a Southern Baptist or Mormon employer could deny prescription birth control to its single, female employees.

Big Tobacco’s Effort to Exploit Terrorism to Get Legal Cover

Tobacco companies knew in 1953 that cigarettes caused cancer, but have long fought the inclusion of health warning labels on cigarettes, including this updated one.

This three-page document dated November 15, 2001, from Philip Morris’ online corporate document collection, argues that the federal government would be better off diverting funds from the U.S. Department of Justice’s 1999 lawsuit against the tobacco industry to concentrate on the fight against terrorism.  The strategy leverages the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. as a reason to stop the government’s investigation into the major American tobacco companies’ decades-long conspiracy to defraud the American people about the links between smoking and disease.  On November 29, 2001 (just days after this document was written) the investigative organization Center for Public Integrity revealed that then-House Majority Whip and tobacco industry ally Tom DeLay (R-Texas) had done the bidding of the tobacco companies by quietly inserting a clause into the Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001 (a bill rushed through Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks) shielding U.S. tobacco companies from foreign lawsuits that alleged cigarette smuggling and money laundering.

Romney Fails to Retract Huge, Verfiable Lie

Mitt Romney made, and has continued to spew, a totally verifiable lie

A slew of major media outlets including the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and CNN reported on a speech that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave on May 31 in front of the shuttered offices of Solyndra, the California-based solar panel manufacturer that went bankrupt after taking a $535 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy — but they all failed to check on whether what Romney said in his speech was true.  Referring to Solyndra’s government loan, Romney said, “An independent inspector general looked at this investment and concluded that the [Obama] administration had steered money to friends & family, to campaign contributors. This building — the half a billion dollar taxpayer investment — represents a serious conflict of interest on the part of the President and his team. It’s also a symbol of how the President thinks about free enterprise. Free enterprise to the President means taking money form the taxpayers and giving it freely to his friends.” But Romney’s statements are a bald-faced, easily-verifiable lie and it took days for the major media covering the speech to fact-check Romney’s statements after media watchdogs called them out.

Big Tobacco’s Ties to Funding of Prop. 29 Opposition Exposed

An NBC investigative team has exposed historical and financial ties between many of the supposedly independent groups actively opposing Proposition 29, a measure to increase California’s tobacco tax by $1.00 per pack, and the tobacco industry. Collectively, groups against the measure have spent $46.7 million so far — over four times more than the amount spent by groups supporting the measure. Much of the money to oppose the measure came from cigarette makers Reynolds American and Philip Morris, laundered through groups that are seemingly independent from the industry, like Americans for Tax Reform, the Small Business Action Committee and the California Taxpayers’ Association. Tobacco industry documents now available on the Internet reveal these groups have historically received significant financial support from Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and the Tobacco Institute. Political analyst Larry Gerston commented, “These kinds of transfers of money increasingly take place under a very dark shadow.” The strategy of burying tobacco industry involvement in ballot measure campaigns is revealed in a 1998 proposal by a political consulting group that worked for the Tobacco Institute on another cigarette tax fight.

Florida GOP Working to Purge Democrats from Voter Rolls

Florida Governor Rick Scott (R)

Under the guise of preventing voter fraud — a virtually nonexistent problem in Florida — the state of Florida is demanding tens of thousands of American citizens provide proof of citizenship to the state in person or lose their right to vote. Acting on a directive from Governor Rick Scott, Florida’s secretary of state sent letters to 180,000 voters to be stricken from the voter rolls unless they prove to the state that they are, in fact, citizens. Recipients were told they must attend an administrative hearing in person to provide proof of their citizenship. The list includes many people falsely flagged as non-citizens, including 91 year-old Bill Internicola, a World War II veteran who won a Bronze Star for bravery, and Maureen Russo, a 60 year old business owner who has been a registered voter in Florida for 40 years. ThinkProgress estimates that more than 20 percent of the voters flagged as non-citizens in Florida are actually full-fledged citizens. The massive purge of voters by Florida’s Republican administration comes at a time very close to the impending general election this fall, giving falsely-accused voters minimal time to correct the records. The purge also disproportionally affects Democrats. Two thirds of the supposed non-citizens on the purge list live in Miami-Dade County, which leans heavily Democratic. In response to information that legitimate citizens are being targeted for purging from the voter rolls, Gov. Scott defiantly vowed to intensify his efforts to remove voters from the rolls.

Main sources: Rolling Stone, May 30, 2012 and ThinkProgress, May 30, 2012