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Catching up on the news

We’ve had a very exciting month here at Public Citizen and the good news is it’s only half over. In case you missed it, our new president, Robert Weissman, started this week. Check out his introductory blog post and leave him a comment to let him know what issues are important to you. Robert picked a great week to begin his Public Citizen tenure — President Obama laid out his health care plan, the Supreme Court heard arguments on one of its most important cases in years and we commemorated  the 8th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

We’ve blogged quite a bit about Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, the case the Supreme Court heard on Wednesday. Our new president explains why you should care about this case over at the Huffington Post:

Yet the Supreme Court may actually roll back the limits on corporate electoral spending now in place. These limits are very inadequate, but they do block unlimited spending from corporate treasuries to influence election outcomes. Rolling back those limits will unleash corporations to ramp up their spending still further, with a potentially decisive chilling effect on candidates critical of the Chamber of Commerce agenda.

Here are some other stories you may have missed:

  • NPR had a package about our letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking her to give hospitals and nursing homes access to a government database that tracks discipline actions against nurses, pharmacists and other non-physician health workers. Doesn’t it make common sense to allow hospitals and nursing homes the ability to do thorough background checks on potential employees? Congress thought so when it created the database. The problem is that after 22 years, federal officials haven’t finalized the regulation that would allow this to happen. You can read our letter here.
  • Ars Technica talked to Public Citizen attorney Paul Levy, an expert on free speech on the Internet,  about a potential defamation suit that FOX talking head Glenn Beck may file against the anonymous owner of the URL http://glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggirlin1990.com/. Even though the site seems to be a parody, there is some legal risk for the owner, Levy said. However, he also said that a potential trademark claim on the name “Glenn Beck” was preposterous. You can find a libel guide Paul wrote for bloggers on the Public Citizen Web site.
  • Washington City Paper was one of several media outlets that covered our protest of the Colombian PR campaign, which includes placing big ugly heart sculptures around town, including one within spitting distance of our offices on Q Street. Public Citizen’s Eyes on Trade blog writes: ” We came together with other public interest organizations to illustrate how Colombia has earned the reputation it is trying to reverse, through mass discrimination against indigenous peoples, forced displacement, and ongoing violence against union organizers, workers, and human rights defenders.”