Secrecy

How the Government Targeted Occupy

Cover of "Dissent or Terror"Originally published by In These Times.

Freedom of conscience is one of the most fundamental human freedoms. This freedom is not merely about one's ability to choose to believe or not believe in religion or a particular philosophy. In a democracy, freedom of conscience is about the ability to be critical of government and corporations, and to be free from the chilling fear that being critical will subject you to government surveillance.

Corporations in Illinois: What Have You Got to Hide?

-by George Goehl, National People's Action

Tax fairness has become a centerpiece of national debate, from the president's reelection to the recent deal surrounding the so-called fiscal cliff. In Illinois, taxpayers want to make sure corporations in the State are paying their fair share as well. According to the Internal Revenue Service, the federal corporate tax rate from 1952-63 -- a period of prosperity and a significant rise in the middle class -- was 52 percent. Today it's 35 percent. By working loopholes and exceptions many corporations are able to reduce their effective tax rate to as low as zero. As it stands corporations doing business in Illinois do not have to disclose to the public what taxes, if any, they contribute to the state.

Wisconsin Legislators Jetting Off on Corporate-Funded Trip to Develop Special Interest Legislation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 28, 2012
CONTACT: Brendan Fischer

MADISON, WI -- Several Wisconsin legislators are attending this week's conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) at the Grand Hyatt in Washington D.C., and likely doing so on corporate-funded "scholarships," which the Center for Media and Democracy believes violate state ethics and lobbying laws. The three-day meeting, held November 28-30, will bring state legislators together with corporate lobbyists and special interests to craft "model" bills -- many of which will likely be introduced in the ALEC-majority Wisconsin legislature in the session that begins in January.

Bill in Congress Could Limit Access to Drug Safety Information

"Open Government" cartoon (Source: Adam Zyglis, Buffalo News)The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Wednesday, May 30, on the Food and Drug Administration Reform Act of 2012, H.R.5651. Groups advocating for open and transparent government have found a provision in the bill that would keep potentially important health and safety information away from the public. Section 812 would, according to a letter to leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee penned by several of these groups, deny the public access to information relating to drugs obtained by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from any government agency -- local, state, federal, or foreign -- if that agency has requested that the information be kept confidential.

Patrice McDermott, Executive Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, which works with the legislative and executive branches to encourage more open government, told the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that the provision might blow a huge hole in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It would give the FDA carte blanche with regard to drug information.

In Honor of “Sunshine Week,” CMD Shines a Light on Politicians who Keep Wisconsin in the Dark

In honor of "Sunshine Week," a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) would like to recognize Wisconsin's champions of backroom deals, secret pledges and cloaked campaign contributions.

Inside ALEC: Naked Contempt for the Press and Public in Scottsdale

ALEC Exposed logo"Mr. Hodai had a history at the conference--not a very pleasant history. He was considered to be a persona non grata..."

-- Westin Kierland General Manager Bruce Lange to Olivia Ward of the Toronto Star.

Evicting the Press, Part 1: Meet Mr. Black

Scottsdale, Arizona--A suburb awash in money and golf courses, set against the backdrop of the jagged mountains surrounding Phoenix.

I was sitting in a sports bar of the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, swapping journalism stories with Olivia Ward of the Toronto Star on one of the bar's overstuffed leather couches. Over the course of an hour, the bar filled with conventioneers from the American Legislative Exchange Council's 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit (SNPS). (A new story on Westin's connections to other ALEC corporations is available here.)

My assignment was to cover the 2011 SNPS, taking place at the resort from November 29 through December 2. ALEC had refused to grant me media credentials. Nevertheless, I was a paid guest at the resort.

Guns, Farms and Stealth: Armed Raids and Surveillance of Farms and Food Clubs

Michael Schmidt is a Canadian dairy farmer, and he's scared. Why?

Milk Glass Gunpoint"Over the last 17 years I have made every effort to engage the authorities in a constructive dialogue about the issue of non-pasteurized milk in Ontario and Canada. In return my farm has been raided by armed officers, my family has been terrorized and I [have] been dragged through the courts -- first being acquitted and then being found guilty.

Protesters Spotlight Corporate Influence in State Politics at ALEC Annual Meeting

As they sometimes say in the South, it's all about taking care of bid'ness.

Protesters carried signs explaining ALEC's role in state governmentBut don't tell that to the group of 100 or so protesters, who on Friday afternoon marched on the Marriott hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA), where corporate lobbyists were voting with state lawmakers on "model" legislation at the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) 38th Annual Meeting.

The protest, organized in part by Louisiana State University's Student Labor Action Project, the Defend Ohio Campaign, and activists from across the country, began at the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown NOLA. That same day, members of the local community also gathered to celebrate the conviction of five police officers on charges stemming from the notorious Danziger Bridge case. A federal jury found the officers guilty of civil rights violations in the shootings of unarmed citizens.

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