AT&T, Verizon Reach Out and Co-Opt Someone

Telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick writes that "Astroturf and co-opted groups representing the deaf, disabled, black, low income and others" are "touting a plan to loosen cable franchise rules for the phone companies." He asks, "What do these groups" -- including the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Consumers for Cable Choice, Video Access Alliance,


Opaque Standards for European Union Lobbyists

The European Commission has backed the introduction of a voluntary register for lobbyists seeking to influence European Union officials. "All these groups or bodies are invited to register publicly whom they represent and what their objectives are. They are invited to declare funding sources and major clients," the commission stated.


Gephardt Enters the Coal Lobbying Mines

In yet another example of the government-industry revolving door, "Peabody Energy, the world's largest private sector coal company, has hired Dick Gephardt's firm to spearhead its drive to defeat efforts by Democrats to put caps on carbon emissions in a bid to combat global warming," reports O'Dwyer's.


The Appearance of an Independent Judiciary Goes Up in Smoke

Things are looking grimmer and grimmer for U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales these days. The scandal involving the firing of 8 U.S. attorneys has led to accusations that Gonzales runs the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to suit the Bush Administration's right wing political ideology instead of to protect the interest of U.S. citizens. Now Sharon Eubanks, the lead attorney in DOJ's racketeering case against the major American tobacco companies, has emerged from her silence and confirmed suspicions of the extent to which politics is running DOJ instead of public interest. Eubanks told the [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/21/AR2007032102713.html Washington Post] that Bush administration political appointees within DOJ repeatedly ordered her to take steps to weaken the government's case against the industry. Eubanks says she was ordered to tell key witnesses change their testimony, was forced to ditch her own closing remarks and made to read closing arguments that her superiors had written for her, and that the DOJ team was told to greatly scale back its requests for remedies against the tobacco companies. Of course, high-ranking Justice Department officials claimed at the time that there was no political meddling in the case, but tobacco control people following the case knew differently. Now Ms. Eubanks has confirmed what we knew all along.

Pakistan People's Party Plans U.S. Lobbying Campaign

In February the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) hired BKSH & Associates, Burson-Marsteller and the polling company Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, to promote the need for "free, open and transparent elections in Pakistan in 2007." The contract, which runs to June 2007, could be worth as much as $250,000.



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