Tag Archives: Public Citizen

‘Alarming’: FERC Ignores Climate Impacts and Rubber-Stamps Texas Pipeline

“The world does not need more LNG, and FERC is out of step with the reality of the climate crisis and communities impacted by these projects,” one advocate said.

By Olivia Rosane. Published 2-15-2024 by Common Dreams

Culberson County Hospital (left) and Van Horn Rural Health Clinic (right) are shown in Van Horn, Texas, where residents are concerned about the local health system’s ability to cope with a major pipeline explosion. (Photo: Texas.pics/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a controversial pipeline on Thursday despite opposition from local and Indigenous communities and without considering its climate impacts.

The commission limited its review of the Saguaro Connector Pipeline to a 1,000-foot stretch of the project on the Texas and Mexican border. If built, the pipeline could transport as many as 2.8 billion cubic feet of fracked gas per day to an export facility in Mexico, where it would be shipped to Asia and Latin America. The decision comes weeks after the Biden administration paused Department of Energy (DOE) approvals of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports while it updates its assessment criteria.

Continue reading
Share Button

FCC Announces New Rule to Confront Deepfake Robocalls

While welcoming the rule, one advocate said it is “not enough to safeguard citizens and our elections.”

By Julia Conley. Published 2-8-2024 by Common Dreams

Photo: Ivan Radic/flickr/CC

Just over two weeks after New Hampshire voters were inundated with artificial intelligence-generation robocalls featuring U.S. President Joe Biden’s fake voice telling them not to vote in their state’s primary, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday announced what one adocate called a “desperately needed” rule declaring such calls are illegal under federal law.

The FCC unanimously voted to adopt the declaratory ruling, saying calls like those made in New Hampshire are “artificial” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

Continue reading
Share Button

Primary Season Is Here, But Still No FEC Action on Campaign Deepfakes

A consumer advocacy group warns that deceptive images generated by AI are “one of the biggest threats to our elections.”

By Julia Conley. Published 1-16-2024 by Common Dreams

Image: ApolitikNow/flickr/CC

As consumer advocacy group Public Citizen marked three months since the Federal Election Commission closed its public comment period on regulating artificial intelligence-generated “deepfake” images in election ads, the group on Tuesday questioned whether the FEC itself is “just a computer-generated illusion.”

“Do we have a real Federal Election Commission?” asked Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, eight months after the group submitted its first petition asking the FEC to establish new rules banning deepfakes in campaign materials.

Continue reading
Share Button

Experts ‘Terrified’ of AI-Driven Misinformation ‘Tsunami’ in 2024 Election

“If people don’t ultimately trust information related to an election, democracy just stops working,” said a senior fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

By Olivia Rosane. Published 1226-2023 by Common Dreams

An ad for a deepfake video maker. Screenshot: OpenAISee

As 2024 approaches and with it the next U.S. presidential election, experts and advocates are warning about the impact that the spread of artificial intelligence technology will have on the amount and sophistication of misinformation directed at voters.

While falsehoods and conspiracy theories have circulated ahead of previous elections, 2024 marks the first time that it will be easy for anyone to access AI technology that could create a believable deepfake video, photo, or audio clip in seconds, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Continue reading
Share Button

Critics Say Biden Plan to Cut Drug Costs Too Friendly to Big Pharma

“Federal agencies have shown themselves reluctant to act against unreasonable prices, and this new proposal may give them permission to continue to do nothing,” said one expert.

By Brett Wilkins. Published 12-7-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: ccPixs.com

While welcoming the White House’s willingness to tackle pharmaceutical companies’ patent abuse and high prescription drug prices, progressive critics argued Thursday that U.S. President Joe Biden must do more to challenge Big Pharma’s monopoly power.

The White House on Thursday announced “new actions to promote competition in healthcare and support lowering prescription drug costs for American families, including the release of a proposed framework for agencies on the exercise of march-in rights on taxpayer-funded drugs and other inventions.”

Continue reading
Share Button

Gulf Oil Spill Shows ‘Danger of Banks Owning Energy Companies’

“The Federal Reserve must enforce the Bank Holding Company Act and disallow Wall Street banks from controlling energy infrastructure, as it poses systemic risks,” said a Public Citizen campaigner.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 11-23-2023 by Common Dreams

An aircrew detected oil in the Gulf of Mexico on November 16, 2023. (Photo: USCG Heartland/X)

Banking giant JPMorgan Chase has financial ties to a company that owns the pipeline suspected of leaking up to 1.1 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico—a situation that watchdogs say demonstrates the danger of such business relationships.

“JPMorgan’s control over a company involved in a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico clearly illustrates the danger of banks owning energy companies,” Tyson Slocum, director of consumer watchdog Public Citizen’s Energy Program, declared Wednesday.

Continue reading
Share Button

‘This Should Be a National Scandal’: For-Profit Medicare Advantage Plans Using AI for Denials

They’re using AI to predict when to cut off payment for treatments,” said one watchdog group. “We repeat, AI. Not a doctor.”

By Brett Wilkins. Published 11-3-2023 by Common Dreams

Single payer protest in Baltimore, MD Photo: Elvert Barnes/flickr/CC

As Medicare Advantage plans rely increasingly upon artificial intelligence to determine—and often deny—payment for patient care, a group of Democratic U.S. lawmakers on Friday urged Medicare’s top official to strengthen oversight of AI and algorithmic tools used to make coverage determinations.

“In recent years, problems posed by prior authorization have been exacerbated by MA plans’ increasing use of AI or algorithmic software to assist in their coverage determinations in certain care settings, including inpatient hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health,” 32 House Democrats led by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Books LaSure.

Continue reading
Share Button

‘Time to Exit ISDS’: Hundreds of Groups Call On US to Ditch Corporate-Friendly Trade Regime

“The ISDS regime is undemocratic: It was created for and by powerful, well-organized corporations, and has served their interests almost exclusively,” said one critic.

By Julia Conley. Published 11-3-2023 by Common Dreams

Graphic: ISDS Red Carpet Courts

More than 200 civil society groups on Thursday called on the Biden administration to protect climate, health, and other public interest policies across the Americas by dismantling a trade regime that the United States spearheaded nearly three decades ago—giving corporations broad authority to sue governments if they claim their profit margins are harmed by public programs.

Public CitizenSierra Club, and the AFL-CIO led hundreds of organizations in sending the letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to take legal action to terminate the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system within the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity (APEP), a trade framework between the U.S. and 11 countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Continue reading
Share Button

‘For Shame’: Pfizer to Charge $1,390 for Lifesaving Covid Drug That Costs Just $13

“Pfizer treats Paxlovid like a Prada handbag; a luxury for the few rather than a treatment for the many,” said one consumer advocate.

By Brett Wilkins. Published 10-19-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: Ministério da Saúde/flickr/CC

U.S. consumer watchdog Public Citizen on Thursday excoriated Pfizer after the pharmaceutical giant announced it would more than double the price of a lifesaving Covid-19 treatment, which will soon sell for an estimated 100 times the cost of production.

Pfizer said Wednesday that it will price its patented Covid treatment nirmatrelvir-ritonavir—sold under the brand name Paxlovid—at $1,390 for a five-day course. Researchers Melissa J. Barber and Dzintars Gotham recently estimated it costs Pfizer $13 to produce five days’ worth of the drug, which is taken in three-pill doses.

Continue reading
Share Button

In ‘First Major Blow to Big Pharma,’ Federal Judge Blocks Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Injunction

The judge said plaintiff the Chamber of Commerce “demonstrated neither a strong likelihood of success nor irreparable harm.”

By Olivia Rosane. Published 9-30-2023 by Common Dreams

Graphic: KFF

A federal judge in Ohio on Friday blocked an attempt by corporate interests to stop Medicare’s historic negotiation of certain drug prices with pharmaceuticals.

Medicare gained the power to negotiate drug prices as part of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), but the several industry groups and drug makers have sued to forestall the program, arguing that it is unconstitutional, CNN explained. One of those groups was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which filed its lawsuit in June. The Ohio judge Friday rejected its request for a preliminary injunction to block the program before October 1, the date by which pharmaceuticals must agree to negotiate or not.

Continue reading
Share Button