Lobbying

The Insider List

Elizabeth Palmberg / Sojourners

Screenshot of spreadsheet, Elizabeth Palmberg / Sojourners

It's a honking long list of insiders — 605 names long, give or take a few duplicates. What do all of them, mostly from corporate America, know about the secret playbook U.S. trade officials are using next week in San Diego to negotiate a potentially huge international agreement?

Five U.S. senators and 132 members of the House of Representatives wish they knew. They've been asking U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the official in charge of such negotiations, to pretty-please let all members of Congress see the working text, or at least chapter summaries, of the deceptively benign-sounding Trans-Pacific Partnership, now in the works. 

So far, Kirk has said no. (In his defense, last month House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., leaked a draft of the "intellectual property" chapter of TPP, just because it's a "secretive agreement" that could “undermine individual privacy rights and stifle innovation." Leaking, whistleblowing--potato, potahto).

Secularists Turn to GOP Lobbyist to Help Push Their Cause

RNS photo courtesy Secular Coalition of America

The Secular Coalition for America's new leader Edwina Rogers. RNS photo courtesy Secular Coalition of America

Their issues are predominantly liberal and their constituency strongly leans Democratic, but a leading secularist group hopes a high-rolling Republican lobbyist is just who they need to open doors on Capitol Hill.

The Secular Coalition for America on Thursday (May 3) hired Edwina Rogers, who has worked for two Republican presidents and four Republican senators, as its new executive director. The SCA has 11 member groups -- many of them officially at odds with Republican politicians and policies -- including American Atheists and the American Humanist Association.

A Robin Hood for Wall Street

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With the opening of the G20 Summit in Cannes, France today, an idea that's been around for awhile is in the news again and gaining more attention as a result of the #OWS movement: The so-called "Robin Hood tax," a minimal tax on all financial transactions with the resulting revenue dedicated to anti-poverty programs....Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in his response to the occupation of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, endorsed the Vatican proposals. Williams observed that "people are frustrated beyond measure at what they see as the disastrous effects of global capitalism," and urged a full debate on "a Financial Transaction Tax

Do You Know if There's Blood in Your Phone?

Last summer's financial reform bill included something the world has long needed: a requirement that electronics manufacturers disclose whether their products include conflict minerals from Congo. Money from conflict minerals helps fund militias' reign of terror and rape in the country's eastern region. (See activist site Raise Hope for Congo's listing of how 21 leading electronics companies are doing at voluntary disclosure -- no one gets a gold star, but some are worse than others. Yeah, we're talkin' to you, Nintendo.)

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