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Monday, March 4, 1996

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  • Presidential Candidate Alan Keyes Restrained, Barred From Debate

    Presidential candidate Alan Keys was restrained with handcuffs and briefly taken into custody by Atlanta police when he attempted to enter WSB-TV Studios where the March 3rd Republican primary debate was being taped. Although Keyes was not formally arrested, he was detained in a police squad car for approximately 20 minutes before being dropped off in a parking lot, where he used a pay phone to call supporters and was eventually picked up by Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell. Keyes is considering suing the WSB television officials for unlawfully barring him from the debate.

  • Soft Money Creates Enormous Loophole Campaign Finance System

    Ellen Miller discusses a report on "soft money" just released by the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan public interest organization for which she serves as Executive Director. Soft money describes a form of political fund-raising not subject to federal regulation. A 1979 law allowing contributions for "party-building" activities, which was originally enacted to support local, grassroots politicians who would not otherwise have access to funding, is being exploited by entities normally prohibited from making campaign contributions, such as large corporations and labor unions. With these contributions, the Republican and Democratic Parties have been able to double or triple their funding receipts. They then funnel portions of this money to state and local party accounts, and from there it is redirected to presidential and vice-presidential candidates. Many of the leading contributors, such as AT&T, Philip Morris, and RJR Nabisco, are found to have made sizable contributions to both parties, thus ensuring that they will have the ear of whoever ends up with control of the White House.

  • Conference on Media Finds Democracy Under Siege

    The political degradation and corporatization of the American media were topics of discussion at the recent Media and Democracy Congress put on by the Institute for Alternative Journalism. Farai Chideya, CNN Analyst, and Herbert Chao Gunther, President and Executive Director of the Public Media Center, both served as guest speakers for the California conference. Chideya, who is also the author of the book "Don’t Believe the Hype: Fighting Cultural Misinformation About African-Americans", states that the very premises for many of the issues that serve as focal points for media debate, such as welfare and crime, are structured around misinformation, influenced by the racism and classism that persist in our society. She asserts that journalists should present stories in a format that is meant to inform, but not sway, public opinion. Gunther, an immigrant from Taiwan, suggests that the Left has failed to gain mainstream support because it operates in a "permanent state of adolescent rebellion", and is alienated from the core American values of idealism and patriotism.

  • National Mobilization Lacking in Progressive Movement

    Georgia-based political activist Loretta Ross points to the narrow focus of identity politics as a source of impediment to the Progressive Movement. Ross, who serves as Executive Director of the National Center for Human Rights Education, feels that Progressives would benefit strategically by changing the language they use to advance their agendas; rather than fragmenting into a myriad of "-isms" (racism, sexism, classism, etc.), she proposes that all of these injustices fall under the category of human rights violations. Additionally, she suggests that approaching other problems such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of health care as human rights issues could be a strong mobilizing factor for Progressive activists. With regards to the upcoming Republican Primaries in several southern states, Ross suggests that Far Right candidates take advantage of the region’s ongoing resistance to federal human rights standards to gain support for their agendas and, in joining with conservative organizations such as the Christian Coalition, are able to form a force powerful enough to determine which issues are debated on the national level and how they are framed.