Human Rights

The Koch Connection in Scott Walker's War on Working People

Wisconsin's embattled Governor Scott Walker took large donations from Koch Industries in the run-up to the 2010 election that swept him into office. OpenSecrets.org reports that Koch Industries donated a total of $43,000 in two separate contributions -- $15,000 on July 8, 2010 and another $28,000 on September 27, 2010 -- to the Friends of Scott Walker Political Action Committee (PAC), to help get Walker elected governor.

An Illuminating Expedition to the World of the Uninsured

Remote Area MedicalAs Congressional Republicans seek ways to starve the new health care reform law of necessary funding -- and Democrats try to keep that from happening -- it's easy to lose sight of the reasons why reform was pursued in the first place.

For a reminder, lawmakers might want to spend a few hours in Nashville this weekend. I'm betting they would behave differently when they got back to Washington on Monday.

If they arrived in Nashville by Friday afternoon, those legislators would see an ever-growing line of cars and trucks outside a locked gate at McGavock High School. At midnight, the gate will be opened, enabling the occupants of those cars and trucks to camp out in the parking lot for hours, maybe even days. Many of these folks will have driven hundreds of miles to receive care from doctors and nurses and other caregivers volunteering their time to treat as many people as possible before they all pack up and go home Sunday evening.

Egyptian Protests Expose Fraudulent U.S. "Spreading Democracy" Meme

The Egyptian people have exposed the great myth that prevails in the sphere of United States' foreign policy, namely that U.S. foreign policy elites are concerned with "spreading democracy."

That is because, as Hampshire College's Michael Klare has written, since 1945, the United States has maintained a foreign policy that is centered around "blood and oil." The foreign policy establishment often uses "democracy spreading" as a public relations platitude because it sounds much better than saying, "We went to war for oil." But caring about democracy goes out the window when one truly scrutinizes U.S. foreign policy through a critical lens. Sourcewatch calls this phenomenon Big Oil, Big Lies.

The Army's Religious Test

praying soldiersThe U.S. Army is administering a mental health and fitness test to soldiers that civil rights groups say unconstitutionally requires active-duty soldiers to believe in "God" or a "higher power" in order to rank as "spiritually fit" enough to serve in the military. The Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) initiative, first used in 2009, is a "holistic fitness program" used to help reduce the number of suicides and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cases among military enlistees. Suicides and PTSD cases among troops have reached epidemic proportions in the last year as a result of multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, and the poor quality of care soldiers get when they come home. The CSF test utilizes a "Soldier Fitness Tracker and Global Assessment Tool" that measures soldiers' emotional, physical, family, social and spiritual "resilience." Soldiers fill out a 100-plus question survey, and if poor results put them in the red zone in any area, they must take remedial courses in the discipline in which they received the low score. Over 800,000 soldiers have taken the test so far, and more than 100,000 of them have gotten remedial training. Non-religious soldiers say the test's spiritual component asks questions written predominantly for soldiers who believe in God, leading atheists and other non-believers to score poorly and be forced to take remedial courses which employ religious imagery to "train" troops up to a satisfactory level of spirituality.

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A Banana Republic Once Again?

(Part two of a two-part series)

bananasIn the first part of this series, the Center for Media and Democracy reported how the 2009 coup d'etat that toppled Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was successfully maintained not through the use of force, but through the power of lobbying and spin. That tale, whose details were revealed through Wikileaks' publication of diplomatic cables and research into lobbying activities, had some echoes of the role PR played in an earlier "regime change" in the region. Here is the story of how the Chiquita banana company successfully used PR spin to help topple Guatemala's left-leaning government in 1954, and how they may have done it again in Honduras, 2009.

America's Inefficient and Ineffective Approach to Border Security

Border fence

Last week, the Senate refused to approve the DREAM Act, a bill that would have offered a path to citizenship for children brought into the country illegally if they attend college or serve in the military. Opponents stated that no immigration reform will happen without first "securing" the 1,951 mile U.S. border with Mexico. America's current approach to border security is wasteful and ineffective, and "securing the border" will never be achieved until we redefine our approach to, and definition of, border security. With many in Washington expressing concern about fiscal responsibility, reining in the billions wasted annually on current border security policies should really be a priority. But America's xenophobic preoccupation with an "invasion" by brown-skinned "illegals" may keep us pursuing an expensive and unreasonable approach to border security.

Honduras' PR Coup

Part one of a two-part article. (Go to part two).

Wikileaks recently published documents suggesting that PR spin helped determine the final outcome of the June 2009 Honduran coup. At the same time that a July 2009 diplomatic cable from the U.S. Ambassador in Honduras to top government officials confirmed that the Honduran president's removal was illegal, professional lobbyists and political communicators were beginning a PR blitz, eventually managing to manipulate America into believing the coup was a constitutional act.

Colorado Billboard Combines Racism, Homophobia and Xenophobia

BPlogoPeople driving through Grand Junction, Colorado for the next month will have to look at a racist, xenophobic and homophobic billboard that depicts President Obama as a turban-and-bomb-wearing terrorist, an illegal immigrant wearing a Mexican sombrero, a member of the Mob and a homosexual.

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Department of Homeland Security Keeps on Creepin' On...

Recently, we expressed concern about the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) testing iris-scanning technology on immigrants detained at the border. Since posting that entry, the Center for Media and Democracy has obtained a copy of the DHS “Privacy Impact Assessment” for the technology’s test run, and we are now even more concerned that DHS has not adequately considered this technology's serious implications for privacy and civil liberties.

Is the National Organization for Marriage a Front Group?

National Organization for Marriage logoIs the National Organization for Marriage a front group for anonymous, deep-pocketed donors from conservative churches who are pouring money into fighting efforts by gays to attain marriage equality?

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