Sunday, September 19, 2010

McCarthy and the lobbyist

McCarthy Axtive,

Republicans are taking aim at Rep. Carolyn McCarthy over donations she received from a lobbyist who next week is pleading guilty on charges related to hundreds of thousands in illegal contributions to pols, as his firm's clients received millions in federal grants and contracts.

McCarthy has sent $4.3 million to two clients of PMA Group, a now-dead lobbying firm where Paul Magliocchetti and his son Mark had worked, according to a recent Daily News report. The pair were both recently indicted, and Mark pleaded guilty to making about $200,000 in illegal donations between 2002 and 2008.

The idea was he gave money on behalf of others to skirt campaign disclosure laws.

McCarthy got several thousand dollars from him between 2006 and 2008, the paper said. She also got about $50,000 from the firm's employees. She insisted to the DN that she had no idea what the Magliocchetti father and son were up to, saying, "All of us that had gotten fund-raising from them were found innocent, that we knew nothing about what was going on in the background."

Paul Magliocchetti is now expected to enter a guilty plea this week, POLITICO's John Bresnahan recently reported.

Tory Mazzola, a spokesman for the NRCC, said, “If Carolyn McCarthy really didn’t know, then she failed New Yorkers by not doing her homework before handing out millions in taxpayer dollars. Her embarrassing and possibly unethical conduct is yet another reason for voters to fire her in November.”

McCarthy's camp didn't respond to repeated requests for comment made over several days.

McCarthy, a Democrat who represents NY-4 in Long Island, is facing Republican rival Fran Becker, a little-known Nassau County legislator who had the backing of the local GOP establishment and fended off a better-funded primary challenger.


Sharron Angle heads to D.C. for lobbyist money

 Lobbyist money,
Nevada Senate challenger Sharron Angle has been bashing Majority Leader Harry Reid for his ties to K Street, but Angle is planning her own Washington money trip next week to tap into the deep pockets of the lobbying community.
Sharron Angle (shown) has spoken out against lobbyists, but she'll head to Washington to meet with them next week.| AP Photo
Angle will hold a fundraiser at the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Sept. 16, according to an invite for the event. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) will be in attendance.

Several major GOP lobbyists and fundraisers will host the event, including former Rep. Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.); Tim Powers of Artemis Strategies, a former Republican National Committee and Bush-Cheney 2000 staffer; David Norcross of Blank Rome Government Relations, a former RNC general counsel; former Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R-N.C.), now a lobbyist at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Barney Skladany, also of Akin Gump; Kirsten Chadwick of Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, a former White House aide under President George W. Bush; Dirk Van Dongen, president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and a major GOP fundraiser; and Jade West, senior VP for the Wholesalers and Distributors Association and a former top Senate Republican aide.

Angle has been bashing Reid since an earlier POLITICO report this summer that showed she had attracted little support from K Street while the Senate majority leader had attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbyist donations this cycle.

An Aug. 5 press release from the Angle campaign dubbed Reid “King Harry, The Washington Lobbyist ‘Godfather,’” and slammed him for his “reliance on Washington lobbyists to fund his nasty smear campaign on Sharron Angle.”

Now Angle will mingle with some of those Washington lobbyists at her fundraiser. A spokesman did not return calls from POLITICO seeking comment.

“In the 20-plus years Harry Reid has been in Washington, he’s taken more than $6 million in lobbyist money and his name has become synonymous with special interests and backroom deals such as the Cornhusker Kickback,” said NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh. “We’ll let the voters of Nevada decide which candidate in this race is on their side.”

Angle, a former Nevada assemblywoman and favorite of the tea party movement, has also bashed the lawmakers who supported the 2008 Wall Street bailout bill, known officially as the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Angle has called out unnamed “domestic enemies” in Congress, and in an interview with ABC News, she suggested those enemies include bailout supporters.

Loggying Activist

Blunt, Carnahan to hold DC fundraisers with 


(ST. LOUIS, Mo.) Both of Missouri’s U.S. Senate candidates will be holding major fundraisers next week with lobbyists in Washintgon, D.C.
The first, on Tuesday, will be for Secretary of State Robin Carnahan at Quinn Gillespie & Associates, two blocks north of the infamous “K-Street.” Tickets range from $500 to $1000, and it costs $2,500 to be a Co-Host.

The host list includes Kevin Kayes, Mike Hussey, Jack Quinn, Bonnie Hogue Duffy, Manny Ortiz, and Patrick Von Bargen – all from Quinn Gilespie & Associates, a firm who’s client list includes companies from telecommunications, some financial groups, and noteably – the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Congressman Roy Blunt’s campaign, which is having a fundraiser the next day (read below), called the fundraiser an example of hypocrisy.

“Robin Carnahan has taken over a million dollars from lobbyists and special interests, she has taken money from the top three recipients of lobbyist contributions and she continues to raise money from Washington lobbyists,” said Blunt spokesman Rich Chrismer.

Carnahan spokesman Linden Zakula said, “Robin has support from lots of different people but Congressman Blunt is the only candidate in this race who has a Washington record of special deals and wasteful earmarks for his convicted felon lobbyist friends.”

Chrismer didn’t mention Blunt’s own fundraiser.

Congressman Roy Blunt (PoliticMo Photo/Blake James
It will be for Congressman Roy Blunt’s campaign. It will be held at Hotel George, six blocks south of K Street, on Wednesday evening, featuring a reception followed by a dinner. To sponsor as an individual, it costs $2,400, $1,000 to be a guest, and $500 to attend a reception.

The information about the fundraiser was distributed by the Conservative Victory Fund, which is funded majorly by investment, farm, and health interests.

The fundraisers’ hosts: Rhod Shaw of the Alpine Group, whose firm represents a wide range of energy organizations; Sam Geduldig, of the Clark, Lytle, & Geduldig lobbying group, who spent four years advising blut while he served as the Republican Whip in the House; Doug Ritter, who lobbys for an aviation and military contracting company; and Mildred Webber, a lobbyist for the National Association of Broadcasters.

Blunt in 2009 received the more lobbyist campaign contributions than any other member of congress, and remains at the top of the list this year.

Carnahan herself has blasted Blunt in the past for his relationships with lobbyists.

“Before he went to Washington, he was a pretty decent guy,” Carnahan said to a group in Greene County the weekend after the primary election. “We’ve agreed on a number of things – when he was running for governor, he proposed ethics proposals to ban lobbiests campaign contribution.” “I agree,” she said.

“I’ve gotta tell you – I don’t like the way washington works. I think we need to do things differently – both on cracking down on lobbyists, and all the flow of money, but making sure instead of bailing out folks that are too big to fail, we look at mainstream,” Carnahan said to reporters on the same day.
Specifically, the campaign has focused on an instance regarding California defense contractor Brent Wilkes. Wilkes donated $14,000 to Blunt’s congressional campaign eight days after Blunt voted in favor of a provision of a $1 million earmark that would benefit one of his companies.

Chrismer says, “her false attacks against Roy Blunt have no credibility.”


An exclusive animal police force?

Exclusive animal police force?

The animals can't advocate for themselves. That is a huge handicap
You can't legislate morality or values. But still lots can be done. We need strong punitive laws.

Photo: Special Arrangements

Rob Laidlaw: Making a difference.
“The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.”

Alice Walker, author of The Colour Purple.

Rob Laidlaw is an acclaimed animal activist and founder of Zoocheck, one of Canada's leading animal rights organisations. He began his animal protection work in 1979, investigating slaughter houses and farming practices in Ontario. Since1984, he has been involved in wildlife issues, with an emphasis on the welfare of wildlife in captivity. His work has included successful campaigns to change wildlife protection policies and laws in many jurisdictions, as well as the closure of a number of substandard zoos. For the past 10 years, he has also been involved in numerous international initiatives, with a particular emphasis on wildlife in captivity issues in Asia.
Laidlaw has authored several children's books on animal issues, is a Chartered Biologist, and currently serves as Director of Zoocheck Canada.

I met Laidlaw when he was in India collecting information and photos for two children's books: one about dog issues and the other about rescue centres and sanctuaries. Here, Laidlaw talks about the larger concerns of the animal movement, its history and trajectory in comparison to other social movements and the new directions it should take.

What made you take up the cause of animals?

I've always had a very strong empathy for animals ever since I was a child. In 1979 at the Toronto Festival of Festivals, a film called “The Animal's Film” by a filmmaker from New York was screened. It was a two and a half hour film showing what humans did to animals – food production, animals in entertainment, laboratory research and testing and many other issues. At the end there was a call to action. The very next day, I decided to actively take up the cause of animals.

Tell us about Zoocheck Canada.

I started Zoocheck in 1984, originally as a vehicle to put pressure on the government to regulate zoos in my home province of Ontario. Zoos were completely unregulated and as a result there were a large number of very amateurish roadside zoos as opposed to professional zoos. These amateur zoos have little money and untrained staff and leave a lot to be desired in terms of animal care.

You have worked with the animal movement for the last 31 years. Is the movement still considered a fringe activity and marginalised by the state and society?

Yes, absolutely, though the movement has grown in numbers. Take the U.S for instance. There are at least 20 million people who support animal rights organisations. It is getting increasingly entrenched in popular culture like Hollywood movies. I saw a film recently where Hugh Grant is chased by a bear and, as he runs, he shouts, “I'm a member of PETA!” But unfortunately, it hasn't progressed much in terms of behaviour change on the part of individuals, at least not yet, or political action. That's a huge gap. But this is a movement that has come of age.

The animal movement is different from other movements in that animals cannot speak for themselves and are entirely dependent on humans to speak for them. Do you see this as a huge handicap in the trajectory of growth of this particular movement?

Oh absolutely. For instance, look at the anti-slave trade movement. At one point, there were close to 1200 anti-slavery organisations in the U.K, you had countries applying international pressure, you had the slaves themselves staging revolts, speaking at different fora and organising themselves. The same is the case in the women's movement. But, in the case of the animal movement, there are not enough activists, less sophistication and diversity, and, most importantly, the animals can't advocate for themselves. That is a huge handicap.

The human mind is conditioned to believe that “they are only animals,” that their lives are not as important as ours. I think the need of the hour is to promote the idea of a rights-based movement for animals.

Exactly. I think the biggest goal for the animal movement should be to abolish their definition as “property” under any law. Every animal, whether in wildlife or on urban streets ought to have rights under the law. It is not a question of humans versus animals. They should be governed by their own rights and not considered as “owned” property so that we humans can do with them as we will.

Do you see the animal movement becoming a priority item on the agenda of this millennium?

It should, ideally, but I think it's unlikely. We might have symbolic pronouncements from governments, even the UN, but at the ground level things are different. We humans are always placing our interests above those of animals. We need to place this movement side by side with housing, poverty, healthcare or child rights. The animal movement is part of the environment movement though many environmentalists don't see it. The real challenge is to see the obvious connections of the animal movement with other social change movements. It is a campaign for rights — whether of women, children or animals — and ultimately for ourselves.

Do you think working for animals is futile?

What I like about working with animals is that, while the big picture seems bleak, you can make a difference to animals at the individual or collective level. At the micro level you can have some wonderful successes; you can achieve measures that make a difference. Hopefully those measures will act as precedents and spur other actions that would be more broad-based, more comprehensive and more far reaching in the future.

Do you think good legislation is the solution to end brutality towards animals?

You can't legislate morality or values. But still lots can be done. We need strong punitive laws. I was talking to some people in Bangalore. Most said the laws are poorly written and implemented; almost impossible to enforce and most people don't even blink at fines. It's the same in Canada and the U.S. The point I am trying to emphasise is that few legislators and governments are really serious about animal rights. If real laws are put in place and enforcement is taken seriously, we may see some significant reduction in animal cruelty.

I would say that animals are the worst victims of globalisation, which has seen the influx of exotic “global cuisines.”

I agree entirely. There's a huge matrix of problems caused by globalisation that directly affects animals. The average activist, though, is not very political, with little understanding of international treaties, concerned as they are with animal care work, which is important too. But there are, now, a relatively small number of activists who are lobbying with industry and understand how WTO works. I hope their numbers grow.

So do you think that the next leap of growth in the animal movement concerns itself with political activism?

I believe that's what some activists are aiming to achieve, to raise the political sophistication of the movement, to engage in ballot and lobbying initiatives locally, regionally and nationally and to affect the outcome of international conferences and treaties, including challenging the politics of the WTO. We want laws and changes in behaviour and real political action. We need to create a real political movement where there's only a pseudo movement right now.

I have always believed that we need a separate animal police force and animal courts. Our judges are not educated in animal laws.

It is a great idea and with political will could be implemented in a relatively inexpensive way. There should be a professional, exclusive animal police force that has the authority to write tickets for offences and to arrest people for more serious cases of abuse and neglect. Hefty fines should be levied. Creating real costs for bad behaviour is a good step toward dealing with animal abuse.

Also, we need to bring in the animal law component into every law school and re-educate the judiciary. Animal crimes should be raised in stature from being ‘misdemeanours' or minor offences to major offences. Institutionalised crimes against animals that are less visible such as laboratory research and testing, confining calves in veal crates, improper animal breeding and so on are completely ignored by most laws. Industry has to be made accountable. If animal courts can be established, it will be a huge step in the legislative process and in protecting animals.

Shouldn't children and young people be given the first inputs through humane education?

Yes, humane education should be built into every curriculum in every school. At present, science is taught as the science of the dead with dissection of animals and the compartmentalising of nature. ‘Biology' should shift to ‘ecology' where animals are seen in totality as a part of nature, and not divided into tiny components of nature, the reductionist approach to science. We need to inculcate an emotive response in children. We need them to be aware of Jeremy Bentham's words, “they can't talk, they can't reason, but they can suffer.”


Saturday, September 18, 2010

South Africa to lobby for removal of Zim sanctions at UN

South Africa lobbying,
The South African government will next week lobby for the removal of targeted sanctions against Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF officials, during the 65th session of the United Nations in New York. (Pictured: Maite Nkoana-Mashabane)
This was confirmed by the International Relations and Co-operation Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, in Cape Town on Thursday. She told journalists the targeted sanctions were not helping Zimbabwe.
‘Whenever we get an opportunity, we will be lobbying for the removal of these restrictions against certain individuals or institutions in Zimbabwe, because we think it’s not necessarily helping in making sure Zimbabwe moves forward,’ she said.
The week long annual UN General Assembly begins next week Tuesday. Mugabe, as he has done for the last 30 years, will lead Zimbabwe’s delegation to the summit.
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediator on Zimbabwe and this is not the first time the South Africa has tried to lobby for the removal of the sanctions. On a recent visit to the UK Zuma tried unsuccessfully to have the sanctions eased.
Political analyst Luke Zunga told SW Radio Africa on Friday it was a mis-call by the South Africans to try and lobby the UN, because it won’t work. He said the South Africans should remember they are the same country that has over the years blocked all efforts to put Zimbabwe on the agenda of UN discussions. ‘I remember their ambassador Dumisani Khumalo being fanatical in vetoeing attempts by western countries to impose UN targeted sanctions on the Mugabe regime, claiming the crisis in Zimbabwe was an internal matter,’ Zunga said.
‘Last year the South Africans even blocked a motion to allow the United Nations to get a consensus on how to deal with the Zimbabwean crisis. If the South Africans successfully blocked discussions on serious human rights violations, what makes them think the UN will be amenable to listen to their pleas on sanctions when rights violations are still widespread in Zimbabwe,’ he added.
Mugabe angrily accuses MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai of not doing enough to have the sanctions lifted. The Prime Minister hits back by accusing Mugabe of stalling progress on political reforms. Both the United States government and the European Union, who imposed the targeted sanctions, have expressed concern over the slow pace at which the unity government is making progress, particularly in the area of reforms that will allow free and fair elections. They have always said that when real reforms were evident, targeted sanctions would be lifted.

Prudential Financial (NYSE:PRU) Lobbying Spend (NYSE:PRU) Lobbying Spend

Prudential Financial Lobbying,

The disclosure report states that Prudential Financial (NYSE:PRU) has spent $2.89m on lobbying the Federal government on financial reform and related issues.
Compared with the previous year’s second quarter lobbying bill of $1.79 Million, the amount is 55 percent higher.
It’s also 71% more than the first quarter amount that Prudential Financial (NYSE:PRU) spent, of $1.69 Million.
The major issues the lobbyists discussed include mortgage reform, energy trading issues, registration requirements for agents and brokers, credit reporting and insurance regulation.
If you’re looking to make a move on the Prudential Financial (NYSE:PRU) stocks, be sure you make the trade at the right price. Finding a gap in the market or technical analysis might often a hard task, but do take into account the historical price data


Manufacturing group spent $1.11M in 2Q lobbying

Manufacturing group Lobbying,
SEATTLE — The National Association of Manufacturers spent $1.11 million lobbying the federal government during the second quarter, according to a recent disclosure report.
That's up slightly from the $1.05 million it spent lobbying in the same quarter of last year.
The organization, which represents manufacturers nationwide, lobbied on the federal budget, Congressional bills related to clean air and water, patent reform and intellectual property rights, smart energy grids and cap and trade initiatives, along with other issues in April through June.
The group lobbied the federal government on the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment act, which gives tax benefits to employers who hire certain previously unemployed workers, and on the Jobs for Main Street act, which called for investment in infrastructure and hiring of teachers, police officers and other similar jobs.
The association also lobbied on specific political nominations, including those of Brian Hayes and Mark Pearce to the National Labor Relations Board, and Islam Siddiqi and Michael Punke for ambassador-level positions at the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. All four were confirmed in the roles.
In addition to Congress, the group lobbied the departments of state, labor, commerce and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Management & Budget and other federal bodies, according to the document filed July 16 with the House Clerk's Office.

(source:Associated Press)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Young and older pay tribute to 9/11 victims at Oak Cliff bank tower

Emma Barclay was a year old when terrorists struck her nation. She first learned of the attacks last year.

"This past year I realized how important it is to remember all the lives lost," she said. "They were part of America. They were important to a lot of people."

Emma, a 10-year-old student at the Kessler School in Oak Cliff, was among the participants in a local project to honor the 9/11 victims. And this morning she attended a ceremony that recalled the deadly day.

About 75 people gathered outside the Bank Tower at Oak Cliff to pay tribute to the almost 3,000 people killed that day nine years ago tomorrow.

They saw a presentation of the colors by four members of the Sunset High School ROTC. They recited the pledge of allegiance and saw the raising of two yellow banners at 8:46 a.m., the local time when the first World Trade Center tower was struck.

They watched bagpiper Jimmy Mitchell, playing Amazing Grace, lead a procession of four Dallas Fire-Rescue officers. They saw Dallas firefighters place two flowery wreaths near a metal sculpture including steel salvaged from the trade center debris.

And they heard a few words from Dallas resident Paul Sabin, whose father, Charles Sabin, was among those who died at the Pentagon.

Sept. 11, 2001, "was one of our worst days and one of our best days," he said. "America came together, and with all of our differences we stood united.

"This is the unity I'm talking about," he said, thanking the crowd.

In conclusion, Emma Barclay and other students from the Kessler School and Harry Stone Montessori Academy unveiled a 6-foot-tall, acrylic model of the trade center towers.

Inside, written on slips of paper, were the names of those killed in the attacks along with black stones and colored blocks.

Dallas firefighters last week read and placed in the model the names of the 421 first-responders who died. The public -- including more than 400 students from the Kessler, Harry Stone and four other schools -- added the other names in recent days.

"I thought how important it was that we not let our children forget," said Ralph Isenberg, the bank tower's managing partner and organizer of its ninth-annual 9/11 remembrance. The model will remain in the bank tower lobby through September before being moved to other Oak Cliff sites.

Edwin Shafer, a 5th-grade teacher at the Kessler School, said that even though many of his students are just beginning to learn about that transformative day, they are becoming mindful of the implications.

"They are coming to understand how dangerous the world can be and how important our security is," he said. "We've done our best to instill in them the price of freedom."


The 9/11 Memorials You Haven’t Seen

Memorials You Haven’t Seen,

U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride stands in his office's 9/11 memorial

In the years since the 9/11 attacks, public memorials and tributes to the victims have popped up across the country. But there are also several memorials around the nation's capital -- tucked inside the offices of federal agencies leading the fight against terrorism -- that the general public doesn't get to see.
On the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, Fox News was given access to many of the memorials, some erected inside buildings whose exact locations Fox News was asked not to disclose.
One of the more unique memorials sits inside the U.S. Attorney's Office in Alexandria, Va, where exhibits from the trial of Al Qaeda associate Zacarias Moussaoui, including a model of the Twin Towers standing several feet high, fill an entire room. The 9/11 Victims' Memorial, as it's called, is just feet away from the elevators leading into the U.S. Attorney's office.
"Every morning I walk past this room on my way into my office, and I visually see each day a reminder of the terrorist attacks of that day," said Neil MacBride, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. "I think it's a reminder to all of us who work for the government, particularly who work for the Department of Justice, that we need to do everything we can to be as aggressive ... as we can to detect terrorist threats before they occur and to make sure punishment is brought where appropriate on terrorists who would do us harm."
MacBride, who described walking past the memorial each day as a "very sobering way to start work," said he always looks first at a poster used during the 2006 trial of Moussaoui, who is now in prison for life and has been described by some outside the Justice Department as a possible "20th hijacker." The poster shows the faces of about 95 percent of those who died on 9/11, and MacBride said that while prosecutors often use photos of victims during trial, "to see row after row, layer after layer, of about 2,800 Americans and citizens of other countries who died almost simultaneously is just very, very powerful."
The memorial in MacBride's office also includes pictures drawn by victims' children, including one drawing that shows two towers holding hands and crying as a plane flies into one tower. Those drawings face the model of the Twin Towers.
"The destruction of the towers was such a tangible, physical sign of the attack and the strike on ... this country's nerve center," said MacBride, who worked inside one of the towers more than 20 years ago. "You see the towers, and you're reminded how they stood there, what prominence they stood for so many years, and now they're gone forever."
In Herndon, Va., staffers of the Transportation Security Administration's operations center walk past their own memorial each morning. A girder from the 77th floor of the World Trade Center, burnt rubble from the Pentagon, and a piece of United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in rural Pennsylvania, sit in the lobby of The Freedom Center, a secretive building that looks more like a car dealership than the nerve center of the nation's air security.
"The first thing [the memorial] makes us think about is the need to be vigilant, the trust that the public has placed in the TSA to secure the skies, and the importance and consequences of that trust," said TSA official Robert Tatum, who helps oversee operations to secure the skies over Washington.
Tatum, a former United Airlines pilot himself, added that the memorial is a boost to the "patriots" who work for TSA.
"They needed something that was an additional motivation," he said, "and certainly this type of memorial is what reminds people [of TSA's mission] through the day-to-day treachery of working long shifts and working through the holidays."
Just miles away from the TSA's office in Herndon is the home of the National Counterterrorism Center, or NCTC, and a 9/11 memorial now sits in its lobby, "front and center so everybody sees it every morning that they walk in," as NCTC Director Michael Leiter put it.
The memorial, unveiled last year on the fifth anniversary of NCTC's establishment, features a piece from the World Trade Center, rubble from the Pentagon and a damaged American flag that was recovered from Ground Zero.
"When I see this memorial [I think] 'This is why we're here' ... to stop something like this happening every day," Leiter said.
According to Leiter, he always says this to new employees: "The day that you walk into this building, and you don't look at that [memorial] and say, 'I'm going to go commit myself today and every day thereafter in this battle,' then it's time for you to find another line of work."
He said that the flag in the memorial is "torn and tattered, but it's still there." So, he said, "we have to remember the people who died under rubble like that," pointing to the memorial.
However, he said he hopes the memorial isn't there "forever."
"I hope that one day we can close this building up," he said. "The goal of this center is to put ourselves out of business by keeping us safer and ultimately defeating the scorge of Islamic terrorism."

9/11 memorial in TSA's Transportation Security Operations Center