H1N1 is here. President Obama declared a national health emergency. Health workers and schools are worried because the vaccine is seriously behind schedule. Parents are worried about how they will stay home with their kids and keep their jobs. What are the watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office worried about?
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently released updated figures for the number of civilian contractors killed in American war zones since September 1, 2001. A minimum of 1,688 civilians have died, and there have been over 37,000 injuries reported among people working for U.S. contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan -- but the DOL acknowledges that the report is incomplete.
Last week, I was honored to be invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Patriot Act, a new endeavor for the Center for Media and Democracy, even though CMD has covered national security-related issues in its books and on SourceWatch.
One of the reasons I was so pleased to be able to join CMD is because in Washington, DC, I saw first-hand how propaganda and selective disclosures were used to influence and distort public opinion. In my testimony, I highlighted examples from the Patriot Act debate in 2005 where key information was hidden while the bill for reauthorization was being publicly debated, and did not come out until after the bill had passed. With parts of the Patriot Act up for renewal and reform this fall, I wanted to make sure the public record included the story of how the previous Bush administration misled the American people. I also wanted to share my views about why these extraordinary powers need to be fixed to better protect civil liberties and human rights.
Lisa Graves, the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy, was the only public interest group advocate invited to testify in Washington on Wednesday, September 23, before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in its hearing on the Patriot Act and national security surveillance issues.
The complete hearing, including her testimony, is viewable online. In her written testimony, Lisa dissected U.S. government propaganda and spin from the previous Patriot Act debate of 2004 and 2005, calling for policy improvements to better protect human rights and civil liberties.
She was interviewed by Amy Goodman on her Democracy Now! program on September 22, where she explained the issues at stake in the current debate over Patriot Act renewal advocated by the Obama Administration.
Likening the actions of the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to those of Oscar Wilde's famous cynic "who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing," New York Federal Judge Jed Rakoff tossed an SEC settlement with Bank of America (BofA) out of court yesterday and ordered the parties to ready for trial.
To "move the spotlight off the unpopular commercial banks and mortgage lenders that are the target of the legislation," the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is claiming that the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency will hurt butchers. "The economy has made it tough on this local butcher's customers," reads the Chamber's latest ad.
A short time ago, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo released a report focusing on the bank bonuses paid out by the biggest banks in 2008, the same year they were bailed out by federal taxpayers. The report notes that in many instances the bank bonuses exceeded bank profits, the implication being that taxpayer dollars were being used to subsidize the salaries of the ace banking executives who created the financial crisis in the first place.