Millions in dark money via U.S. Chamber of Commerce influencing midterm elections

USChamber

The Chamber has spent $32 million in dark money from undisclosed donors, 96% of which has gone to oppose Democratic congressional candidates, according to a new Public Citizen report. Average spending topped $900,000 per race.

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"Looney gas" and lead poisoning

Last week, Mother Jones published a really fascinating article arguing that the crime wave that swept through America between the 1960s and 1980s can largely be blamed on leaded gasoline — and the subsequent lead poisoning of an entire generation of Americans. For more background on the dangers of leaded gas, I suggest reading this post by Deborah Blum. Essentially, it's an excerpt from her fantastic book, The Poisoner's Handbook. In it, she tells the story of the history of leaded gas — a substance that was known to be dangerous even in the 1920s — and the conspiracy to sweep that danger under the rug.

TOM THE DANCING BUG: Accused Burglar Incorporates Self

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Even better: JOIN Tom the Dancing Bug’s proud and mighty INNER HIVE and receive untold BENEFITS and PRIVILEGES!

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Lies, damned lies, and flame-retardant furniture

All this week, The Chicago Tribune is posting a multi-part investigative report about the fire-retardant chemicals that turn up in everything from the foam in our couch cushions, to the plastic casings on our television sets. Turns out, research shows these chemicals don't actually prevent fire deaths and injuries. Worse, research does show that these chemicals are dangerous to human health—especially in the quantities to which we are exposed. Dose makes the poison, but we're not talking about small doses here. As the Tribune so succinctly puts it: This isn't something where we measure exposure in parts per million, it's measured in pounds.

The Tribune has also done a very good job of documenting both the existence and history of a pattern of corporate lies and manipulation that has made sure these chemicals remained a mandated part of our lives even as science shows they aren't helping us.

The lies are infuriating, but the history part is particularly fascinating. After all, it's easy to understand why chemical companies would lie and manipulate politics in order to maintain a lucrative market for their products. But why does that market exist, to begin with? Behind the scenes, our continued exposure to these chemicals comes down to two key issues: One poorly designed product safety test that encouraged heavy use of flame-retardants in foam instead of small doses of safer chemicals in fabric, and a 1970s-era attempt to deflect negative press away from cigarettes.

The problem facing cigarette manufacturers decades ago involved tragic deaths and bad publicity, but it had nothing to do with cancer. It had to do with house fires.

Smoldering cigarettes were sparking fires and killing people. And tobacco executives didn't care for one obvious solution: create a "fire-safe" cigarette, one less likely to start a blaze. The industry insisted it couldn't make a fire-safe cigarette that would still appeal to smokers and instead promoted flame retardant furniture — shifting attention to the couches and chairs that were going up in flames.

But executives realized they lacked credibility, especially when burn victims and firefighters were pushing for changes to cigarettes. So Big Tobacco launched an aggressive and cunning campaign to "neutralize" firefighting organizations and persuade these far more trusted groups to adopt tobacco's cause as their own. The industry poured millions of dollars into the effort, doling out grants to fire groups and hiring consultants to court them.

Playing With Fire: The entire four-part series updated all this week.

So far, parts 1 and 2 have been published.

Image:Image: ghost chair, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from wwworks's photostream

Guess who else is part of the evil climate change conspiracy?

In a story at that socialist rag Financial Times, the radical environmental group General Electric explains why the Republican presidential candidates' refusal to accept the evidence on climate change is ridiculous. (Sadly, you have to register to read this piece.)

TOM THE DANCING BUG: News of the Times: Romney Admits, "I AM a Corporation"!

If you aren’t visiting the TOM THE DANCING BUG WEBSITE, and following RUBEN BOLLING on TWITTER, then we must ask: Why do you hate America?

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TOM THE DANCING BUG: Billy Dare, in "Captain CEO's Fate!"

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TOM THE DANCING BUG: Hey, Kids! The World You're On... has CORPORATIONS!

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Constitutional amendment petition: run government for people, not monied interests

The Campaign to Legalize Democracy is circulating a petition in response to yesterday's ruling that legalized unlimited political bribery by corporations in the USA. Signatories include Bill Moyer, Howard Zinn, Jim Hightower, Billl McKibben, and Tom Hayden.

We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

* Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

* Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our votes and participation count.

* Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate "preemption" actions by global, national, and state governments.

"We the corporations" (Thanks, Rodney!)