Archive for the ‘Issues’ Category

The Telecom Astroturf Lobby

Posted on: September 11th, 2013 by Eli Clifton 2 Comments
Verizon building

Verizon building (Flickr/gt8073a).

When the telecommunications industry sought federal rules that would allow it to charge customers more for high bandwidth products such as Hulu or Netflix than for other web services, there was no mystery in its motive: big money. Federal regulators stopped the move on grounds that it would hurt consumers and the industry lashed back with an expected army of lobbyists. It also quietly pursued another strategy that has not previously been reported: the creation of an elaborate illusion of grassroots support for protecting the telecommunications industry’s profits. (more…)

Georgia University Warning About HIV-Positive Man Transmitting HIV Comes Under Fire

Posted on: September 5th, 2013 by Todd Heywood 6 Comments

On a Tuesday in August, Georgia Southern University issued an alarming “health alert” to its students. A “dominant” black man was “intentionally and knowingly” transmitting HIV. School officials warned the press, too. But weeks later, amid denials by state health officials that they authorized or distributed the alert, the school has quietly removed it from its website. A lot of people are demanding to know why it was posted in the first place. (more…)

Michigan Oil Spill Contractors Convicted on Immigration Crimes Linked to Cleanup Work

Posted on: August 26th, 2013 by Todd Heywood 2 Comments
Unidentified members of a crew of Hallmark Industrial Services employees working on the oil spill in 2010. Photo provided to The American Independent by an anonymous source.

Unidentified members of a crew of Hallmark Industrial Services employees working on the oil spill in 2010. Photo provided to The American Independent by an anonymous source.

Two men indicted for their role in exploiting undocumented workers during a 2010 oil spill cleanup have pleaded guilty to multiple immigration crimes. An investigation by The American Independent’s former sister site Michigan Messenger uncovered the exploitation of undocumented workers – mostly from Central America – during the cleanup following a July oil spill in Marshall, Mich. (more…)

Ban on LGBT Discrimination in Jury Service Added to Appropriations Bill

Posted on: July 26th, 2013 by Andy Birkey 1 Comment

A measure to ban discrimination against LGBT jurors was approved by a U.S. Senate committee on Thursday, marking the first time the issue has come to a vote in Congress.

The Jury Access for Capable Citizens and Equality in Service Selection (ACCESS) Act was included in a financial services appropriations bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The American Independent first reported on the issue of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in jury service last year, prompting legislation in both the Senate and the House where the issue has quietly gained bipartisan support.

While it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin and economic status in jury service, no protections exist for sexual orientation or gender identity. In some cases, LGBT people have been removed as potential jurors in cases that involve gay rights issues, most recently in San Diego where a gay juror was removed from a panel that would decide the fate of marriage equality protesters.

Only three states ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in jury service; California and Oregon passed legislation several years ago, and Minnesota’s Gov. Mark Dayton signed such a bill into law in May.

Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, as well as Republican Susan Collins of Maine have been advancing the issue in the Senate.

“Jury service is an important public service, and I am pleased that the committee has adopted our language that would prohibit potential jurors from being dismissed for service in federal trials based solely on sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Sen. Collins in a statement on Thursday.

Sen. Whitehouse added, “The justice system only can provide fair trials if juries accurately represent our communities,” said Senator Whitehouse. “I’m glad the Appropriations Committee has advanced this legislation to help ensure that no potential juror is blocked from serving solely based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Six Flags Trade Group Routinely Lobbied Against Federal Oversight of Amusement Park Rides

Posted on: July 24th, 2013 by Sofia Resnick 10 Comments
The Texas Giant roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas, taken May 23, 2009 (Flickr/Kristy aka agingdragqueen).

The Texas Giant roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas, taken May 23, 2009 (Flickr/Kristy aka agingdragqueen).

The trade association that represents the interests of amusement parks such as Six Flags Entertainment Corporation – which recently experienced a fatal roller coaster accident– has lobbied against efforts to impose federal safety regulations at amusement parks for years, lobbying records show. (more…)

Meet the American Enterprise Institute’s Secret Foreign Donor

Posted on: June 27th, 2013 by Eli Clifton 10 Comments
Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou speaking to survivors of a disaster in Pingtung County, Taiwan, on Aug. 16, 2009. (Shutterstock/Shi Yali)

Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou speaking to survivors of a disaster in Pingtung County, Taiwan, on Aug. 16, 2009. (Shutterstock/Shi Yali)

This story was first published by The Nation.

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has emerged as one of the Beltway’s most consistent advocates for the sale of advanced fighter jets to Taiwan. Previously undisclosed tax filings reveal that while issuing research reports and publishing articles on U.S.-Taiwan relations, AEI received a $550,000 contribution from the government of Taiwan, a source of funding the think tank has never publicly acknowledged. (more…)

In Wake of Supreme Court Marriage Decisions, Gay-Rights Mecca Braces for Celebration

Posted on: June 26th, 2013 by Todd Heywood 16 Comments

SAN FRANCISCO – The city where the battle for marriage equality in California began in 2004 is bracing for massive celebrations in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings involving same-sex marriage on Wednesday.

Activists celebrate the Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage in San Francisco Wednesday morning, June 26, 2013 (THE AMERICAN INDEPENDENT/Todd Heywood)

Activists celebrate the Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage in San Francisco Wednesday morning, June 26, 2013 (THE AMERICAN INDEPENDENT/Todd Heywood)

(more…)

After new policy, Boy Scouts still losing money, sponsors

Posted on: June 26th, 2013 by Andy Birkey 2 Comments

When Boy Scouts of America delegates voted at last month’s National Council meeting to allow gay youth to become Scouts but to continue banning gay and lesbian adults, the organization put itself in a precarious position. (more…)