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ALEC - Very Important Threat To US Liberties Exposed!
“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.”
― Leo Tolstoy,

Yelp, Facebook, Google Are Latest Tech Companies to Drop ALEC

[Image: alec_members_out-update600x350px.jpg]Grassroots campaigners are on a roll, as first Microsoft, then Google, Facebook and now Yelp have caved to public pressure to drop their membership in the controversial corporate bill mill called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Next in their sights: Yahoo and Ebay.
On Monday, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told NPR that the company would end its membership with ALEC and that ALEC was "literally lying" about climate change.
On Tuesday, a Facebook spokesperson told the San Francisco Chronicle: "We re-evaluate our memberships on an annual basis and are in that process now. While we have tried to work within ALEC to bring that organization closer to our view on some key issues, it seems unlikely that we will make sufficient progress so we are not likely to renew our membership in 2015."
On Wednesday, Yelp confirmed to Common Cause that it was no longer a member of ALEC.
ALEC, which generated or disseminated voter suppression legislation, "Stand Your Ground" laws, and measures to dismantle unions as well as preempt minimum wage and sick leave ordinances, is now in hot water for its "free market" agenda to promote fossil fuels and cook the planet.
As CMD has documented, ALEC is funded by an array of fossil fuel interests, including Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, TransCanada, and Peabody Energy. ALEC has promoted the repeal of Renewable Portfolio Standards and the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. It has called on state legislators to engage in "Guerrilla Warfare" against the EPA, and urged politicians to recruit their state attorney general to sue over the EPA's new emissions rules.
The environmental organization Forecast the Facts' #DisruptDenial campaign has been putting pressure on a number of corporations for publicly backing the cause of climate change, but privately funding climate change deniers, including members of Congress and groups like ALEC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Brant Olson of Forecast the Facts told CMD that the move by the tech firms to sever ties with ALEC shows that climate change is becoming a priority for major American firms. "The vast majority of Americans know that climate change is a reality and tech companies realize the issue is important to their customers. The departure of these firms from ALEC shows that denying the facts on climate change, really doesn't have a place in the modern business world," said Olsen.
The Sierra Club's Michael Brune told the Chronicle that there is a disconnect between what many tech companies say about climate change and how their corporate parents lobby politically. "If you look at most of the employees in these companies these are smart people who believe in climate science and they believe in clean energy technology," Brune said. "And yet some of the institutions that their companies associate with are knuckle-dragging climate deniers. The government affairs office isn't coordinating with the executive office."
Common Cause, Forecast the Facts, Sierra Club, Stand up to ALEC, Roots Action, Sum of US, People for the American Way, Progress Now, the Center for Media and Democracy and many other citizen groups and organized labor groups sent a formal letter to Google September 3 asking the firm to quit funding ALEC. In addition to thousands of emails generated by the groups, an untold number of postcards distributed by the Center for Media and Democracy were sent directly to Google corporate headquarters after the cards were handed out at the annual grassroots festival "Fighting Bob Fest," named for Wisconsin Senator "Fighting Bob" La Follette. Groups protested Google's ALEC membership at its headquarters in February, and Public Citizen spearheaded an action at Google's corporate shareholder meeting in May, and continues to demand that Google sever its ties with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Last year, Color of Change launched a spoof Yelp website criticizing the company for its ALEC membership, and multiple groups launched petitions urging the online review site to drop its ALEC membership.
Over 80 firms -- including some of the largest Fortune 500 firms in the nation -- have dumped ALEC since CMD started launched in 2011. See the list of ALEC corporate members here.
Tech giants Yahoo and Ebay remain members of ALEC.
Update: After this story was published on September 24, Yahoo issued a statement affirming that it was also leaving ALEC.

News Corp and Occidental Among Latest Firms to Cut Ties with ALEC

[Image: cutting_ties_to_alec.jpg]Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., Occidental Petroleum, International Paper, and are the latest corporations to say they have left the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) after a wave of technology companies led by Google and Facebook announced their departures last week.
News Corp., the $8 billion-a-year global media company run by media mogul Rupert Murdoch that owns the Wall Street Journal, had been a member of ALEC's Education Task Force and Communications and Technology Task Force. A spokesperson told Media Matters in response to an article published Friday that the company is no longer a member of ALEC. Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications Ashley Huston told the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that News Corp. has not been a member of ALEC since its split from 21st Century Fox in July 2013.
Occidental Petroleum, at $24.5 billion in annual revenue, is one of the largest global oil and gas exploration and production companies based in the United States. It had been a member of ALEC's Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force. Linda Peterson, Associate General Counsel at Occidental, said in a letter to Timothy Smith of Walden Asset Management, who is involved in leadership of shareholder campaigns, that "there are no plans to continue Occidental's membership in, or make further payments to ALEC." She said the company had paid $12,500 to ALEC in 2014. She also referenced the concern that the company could be "presumed to share the positions" on climate change and air pollution regulations held by ALEC, as National Journal reported.
Tim Smith said of Occidental's decision, "This is very welcome news. It's one of the first major oil companies to acknowledge cutting ties to ALEC. It did so in response to ongoing and sustained investor pressure in relationship to ALEC and especially because of ALEC's opposition to renewable energy at the state level. We hope there'll be other companies following."
International Paper, the $29 billion-a-year global paper and packaging company headquartered in Tennessee, had been a member of ALEC's Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force and had sponsored ALEC's 2011 annual meeting. Company spokesperson Tom Ryan told Common Cause on September 26 that "we no longer have a membership with ALEC" and confirmed that the company no longer funds ALEC., the $1.3 billion-a-year online retailer, had joined ALEC to push a state sales tax legislative issue. A company spokesperson told CMD on September 26 that the company had determined not to renew its membership after a year of funding the group.

"Climate deniers are the new tobacco executives"

Corporations that have publicly cut ties to ALEC since CMD launched in July 2011 include Fortune 500 firms such as General Motors, General Electric, Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Kraft Foods, Coke, and Pepsi. ALEC spent years pushing controverisal Stand Your Ground gun laws and bills to make it harder for Americans to vote before trying to distance itself from that legacy.
More recently, ALEC has been criticized for its bills on energy. The group has worked to repeal renewable energy laws and is working to get state attorneys general to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.
Last week, a number of tech companies left ALEC after sustained campaigning by environmental, labor, and community groups. This prompted Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune to say:
"Climate deniers are the new tobacco executives -- nobody wants to be seen with them. With Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Microsoft all dumping ALEC, it's increasingly obvious that you cannot run a successful 21st century company while associating with ideologues from the stone age. Fossil fuel-backed groups like ALEC are on the wrong side of nearly every effort to tackle the climate crisis and on the wrong side of history."
Interestingly, tobacco giants Altria/Phillip Morris and Reynolds American remain stalwart ALEC funders.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

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