In the spring of 2007, when author Ted Nace set out to profile the emerging No New Coal Plants movement for Orion magazine, he had no idea that the assignment would turn into more than just a single article.
"State officials struggling to convince critics about the safety of aerial spraying to control an invasive moth awarded a $500,000 no-bid contract to a prominent public relations firm with ties to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger," reports Associated Press.
Appearing before a parliamentary committee inquiry into the lobbying industry, the head of Bell Pottinger, Peter Bingle, explained that the agency had been approached to represent the Zimbabwe regime headed by Robert Mugabe. "We will turn down clients. We had a call from Zimbabwe asking to advise Zimbabwe. We said thank you very much, but no. It would have been a fairly malign campaign if someone had run it," Bingle said.
The motley crew of citizen journalists, activists, bloggers and transparency advocates that make up the Superdelegate Transparency Project (STP) have produced the best, most transparent and highly detailed reporting on the Democratic superdelegates - anywhere. Through collaborative research with nearly 300 citizen journalists, the folks at DemConWatch, LiteraryOutpost, the HuffPost's OffTheBus project, OpenLeft and CMD's Congresspedia have produced a tally that rivals or bests those of the major media outlets. The STP even breaks the numbers down by state and congressional district with ever-expanding bios of hundreds of superdelegates AND we now have a wicked-cool live-updating widget.
"Flush with foreign reserves from oil and natural gas sales, the Kremlin is pumping tens of millions of dollars into various forms of public diplomacy," reports Peter Finn. The Russian government "has hired the giant U.S. public relations firm Ketchum Inc. 'to help the government tell its story of economic growth and opportunity for its citizens,' said Randy DeCleene, an executive at the firm." As part of the PR push, "the official government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta is ... fund[ing] monthly supplements in newspapers in India, Britain, Bulgaria and the United States," including a paid supplement in the Washington Post. "Russiaprofile.org, a news and analysis site funded by [the government news agency] RIA Novosti" features "a range of opinions, including some quite hostile to the Kremlin." RIA Novosti also hosts an annual "Valdai Discussion Club," where "30 to 40 Russia experts and prominent journalists, mostly from the United States and Western Europe ... are wined and dined in the company of Russian policymakers and political analysts." The Hoover Institute's Michael McFaul (an adviser to Barack Obama's campaign) called the Valdai events, which featured sessions with then-President Vladimir Putin, "really smart PR." A previous Spin noted Russia's new think tank, the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation.
R.J. Reynolds (RJR) may be funding a South Carolina anti-tax group to oppose a cigarette tax for health care. The Cover Carolina Collaborative, a group of health care organizations, is proposing that the state's tax be raised to $1.00 a pack, to help cover uninsured employees. South Carolina currently has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation, at seven cents a pack.
As part of the ongoing collective research project on Congresspedia to track the "superdelegates" who may decide the Democratic nominee for president, our partners at the Huffington Post have enlisted hundreds of citizens to research some of the more obscure party officials in the ranks of the superdelegates.
As CMD recently reported, a federal judge ordered the Wikleaks website shut down. The site allows whistleblowers to post documents anonymously.
As the debate over Canada's military mission in Afghanistan continues, the country's "Department of National Defence is ... spending millions of dollars sponsoring think tanks and scholars to offer up agreeable commentary," writes University of Ottawa professor Amir Attaran. "Take the Conference of Defence Associations, a think tank that got $500,000 from DND last year. ...