News Release

* Death Penalty * AARP’s Financial Interests * Buy Nothing Day

Executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, Stevenson said today: “The legitimacy of the death penalty in the United States has been so undermined — by inadequate legal services to the poor, unreliable administration of criminal justice and political exploitation by elected officials trying to prove they’re tough — that it cannot be appropriately applied to anyone, including John Muhammed. We have already learned that many of the 3,600 people on death row in the U.S. are innocent, many have been wrongly or unfairly sentenced, many have been treated differently because of racial bias and most wouldn’t be on death row if they could have obtained adequate legal assistance. The death penalty in the U.S. is not about whether someone convicted of murder deserves the punishment, but rather about whether a society that can’t provide equal justice to the poor, the disadvantaged and the disfavored deserves the right to kill its citizens.”
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Legislative assistant at Public Citizen, Kenny said today: “Our analysis suggests that there were strong financial incentives for AARP to support the Republican-drafted Medicare prescription drug bill, because the organization is likely to realize significant profits from the programs to be established by the legislation…. While AARP might be considered primarily a membership organization, it has in many ways become a business — one that derives approximately 60 percent of its revenues from a variety of insurance-related ventures, and only 29 percent of its revenues from membership dues…. AARP’s royalty income from health insurance policies amounted to $107.8 million in 2002, or 17 percent of its operating revenues. A large portion of this royalty income was derived from insurance policies administered by the UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest managed care companies in the country. Such health plans are a central feature of the Medicare drug bill…. AARP’s investment income from insurance products totaled $26.7 million in 2002, or 4.2 percent of income. This would dramatically increase if many more health premiums get written as a result of the legislation, which is likely.”
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Lasn is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Adbusters magazine; Buschert is the Buy Nothing Day media representative. They said today: “November 28, 2003 is the 12th annual International Buy Nothing Day — a day when over a million people in over 55 countries bypass the cash register, kick back and relax … or they dash out to the streets and kick up a fuss about the joy of living free from the tether of excessive consumerism. Buy Nothing Day (the day after U.S. Thanksgiving) marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. It’s a day to remind ourselves that, as a group, North Americans are the most voracious consumers in the world.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167