Sunday, November 27, 2005

Don't you think Illinois should become one of the 10 states drafting or already having passed vehicle emissions standards that mirror California's as covered in yesterday's New York Times? Currently it is not. If vehicle emissions could be curbed along with power plant emissions, you would be hitting the sources of 66% of air pollution. Let's do it.

Remember congress's role in sending us to war in Iraq?

Read the original joint resolution (H.J.Res. 114) in October 2002 that clearly passed authority to declare war from congress (where the constitution says the authority should be) to the executive. Crazy stuff. It reads like it is strait out of Cheney's office. Here are some great quotes:

"Whereas the efforts of international weapons inspectors, United States intelligence agencies, and Iraqi defectors led to the discovery that Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical weapons and a large scale biological weapons program, and that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program that was much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than intelligence reporting had previously indicated;"

We now know that every statement in this clause is almost completely false if not flagrant exaggeration.

Here is how individual senators and representatives voted on that resolution.

Friday, November 25, 2005

General Strike today in Italy with the three major unions coordinating efforts.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

What a few days.

  • We've got a massive chemical leak in China affecting millions of people with the government witholding anouncing the release for days.
  • Then recently it was revealed that the US military used phosphorus as a chemical weapon during it's attack on Falluja in Iraq-a blatant war crime. Great british commentary as described by "In a Guardian commentary, George Monbiot argues that the use of chemical weapons by U.S. forces against Fallujah was "a war crime within a war crime within a war crime."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Illinois CORE, the mysteriously high-profile 'not for profit' organization that appeared suddenly in 2005 to oppose the Illinois Governor's policy on Utility issues including his appointment of Marty Cohen (former Executive Director of the Citizen's Utility Board) to head the Illinois Commerce Commission, appears to be a fabrication created by the huge international public relations firm Hill and Knowlton. What seems to be the evidence?

Check out the registration listing for the Illinois CORE website: (see full record here).

Created On:19-Aug-2005 17:49:35 UTC
Last Updated On:19-Oct-2005 04:04:05 UTC
Expiration Date:19-Aug-2006 17:49:35 UTC
Sponsoring Inc. (R71-LROR)
Registrant ID:9099760dc1d82616
Registrant Name:Jason Maymon
Registrant Organization:Hill and Knowlton
Registrant Street1:222 Merchandise Mart Plaza
Registrant Street2:Suite 275
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:Chicago
Registrant State/Province:IL
Registrant Postal Code:60654
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.3124755902
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:+1.3122553030
Registrant FAX Ext.:

Illinois Core was created as a not-for-profit organization on September 6, 2005 (full record here - select the 'By File Number' and type file number '64370693'). The organization's agent is corporate lawyer Randi Valerious.

On its website, it lists a P.O. Box number as its mailing address. Is it possible that it has no mailing address because it doesn't exist as a real organization? Somehow it has enough money for hundreds of primetime television ads and more, yet it does not have its own office!

Also their 'media liaison' is the highly politically connected former Vice President of the Chicago Board of Education, Avis LaVelle, who now runs her own public relations and lobbying consulting firm, A. LaVelle Consulting Service, LLC. You even get her consulting service office when you call LaVelle's number listed on the Illinois CORE website, 312-223-0581.

When I called the toll free number for 'CORE' 866-395-CORE (2673), I got their 'coordinator' named Jennifer Schuh. Here are my notes from our conversation 5 minutes ago:

Q: Is Illinois CORE an Illinos Not-For-Profit Corporation?
A: Yes, I believe it is.
Q: Is it a 501(c)(3) Organization?
A: I believe it is, but I'm not sure.
Q: How does one become a member of CORE?
A: just ask.
Q: I'd like to become a member.
A: Okay, I'll note that in your file.
Q: Does Illinois CORE hold any meetings?
A: No, not yet. We're focusing on new calls to action coming up at the end of December to early January. Instead of meetings, CORE contacts it's members and encourages them to just contact their legislators.
Q: Who is on the board of directors of CORE?
A: Well, we have an advisory committee, and the members of that committee are...
Q: Yes, that committee list is on the website, right?
A: Yes.
Q: Well that's an advisory commitee. What about a board of directors, do you have one, and who sits on that?
A: I think our advisory committee is our board of directors.
Q: Do you know how CORE got started, how it got organized?
A: I believe it started in August, and I don't know who started it.
Q: How long have you been with CORE?
A: I've been here since September.
Q: I noticed that the organization that registered the website address is from the firm Hill and Knowlton, do you know anything about this?
A: No, I don't know anything about this. I didn't even know that kind of information was out there.
Q: Did Illinois CORE hire you or did someone else hire you?
A: I'm sorry, but I have another call, I will send you the new materials very shortly. Good Bye.

The question is, who exactly is paying Hill and Knowlton to create and front this Illinois CORE organization? Is it the many large utility corporations in Illinois: SBC, ComEd (Exelon Corp), People's Energy, Midwest Generation (coal plant owner), who else?

It presents a surprising list of it's 'advisory committee' which the Illinois CORE website says are it's members. Among the predicted corporate interest listings are some surprising 'members':

Those above 'members' are all nominally part of African American or Latino community organizations. How did CORE, a clearly anti-consumer rights organization convince these folks to 'join'? Are members and workers in those organizations aware that their leaders support/join Illinois CORE?

Is this organization really (as it's name suggests) Consumers Organized for Reliable Electricity? Did consumers really start and organize this organization? Or, rather, did corporations and business interests create and organize this organization to fool real consumers into thinking it is a consumer interest group?

Is there any false advertising law that this organization is violating? Illinois CORE purchased likely millions of dollars worth of print, radio and television advertising (some would say propagandaizing) all under a sham corporate-created organization?

This can't be right, can it? Even for people who believe that corporations should have the rights of a natural person (which I don't), one must see that this is clearly cooersive and decptive behavior on the part of those that created this organization and currently act in its name.

Additional information:

The irony gets thicker: the Media Consultant for Illinois CORE, the organization that worked to sink Governor Blagojevich's appointment to the ICC, Avis LaVelle, was appointed in December of 2002 by Blagojevich to sit on a policy advisory committee to the Governor before he took office. This is the description given of Ms. LaVelle on the announcement of the committee:

Avis LaVelle, senior partner for the Foster Group and vice president of the Chicago Board of Education, who formerly served as Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals, and as former Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Incredible story from Rolling Stone and covered on DemocracyNow! yesterday (watch the segment here).

In short, the Rendon Group, a public relations firm in Washington D.C., through contracts with the CIA and the Pentagon was heavily involved in and largely responsible for the success of 'selling' the need for the U.S. to invade Iraq.

In fact, according to the article, even the organization of the supposedly grassroots and self-organized Iraqi National Congress - an umbrella group of dissident Iraqis, headed by none other than Ahmad Chalabi (then receiving a salary by the CIA) was done by the Rendon Group.

The details and extent of the relationship of various arms of the U.S. Government with this public relations firm is hardly able to be believed.

One of my reactions to all this is to promote the following federal legislation: that it be illegal for any department or person of or working for the U.S. Federal government to make any contracts with or employ any public relations firm, or media or public perception management experts, and the like.

The government itself should not be in the business of hiring experts to manipulate public opinion through corporate owned, willing media.

It should be illegal.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Excellent Health and Saftey News out of Europe. BBC says:

"Euro MPs back major chemicals law

Business has sought to weaken the law, unions to strengthen it
The European Parliament has approved far-reaching legislation which will lead to the safety testing of thousands of chemicals used in everyday products."

With more information coming out about the toxic effects of commonly used chemicals like those in Teflon and others, this will affect the world wide chemical industry so that they must prove saftey , not just the lack of extreme, immediate harm from the use of chemicals.

This is so common sense that it is hard to fathom.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Washington Post: Leaked White House document proves direct Oil Industry ties to 2001 Cheney Energy Task Force. It is lovely to see Fox News forced to cover the story here.

Possibly the worst or most sinister part of the story is how Republican Senators, themselves dripping with Oil campaign cash, howled and panted when it was suggested at last week's Senate hearing on 'record oil profits' that Oil Industry executives there to testify be exempted from testifying under oath.

Of course, if this Post document is confirmed, then almost all of the Oil Executives testifying last week who denied any involvement in Cheney's Task Force would have perjured themselves. But of course now it appears that if they lied there is no law broken. This was covered in today's DemocracyNow! program.

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