Democracy

Ketchum Helps Russia with "Really Smart PR"

St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square, Moscow"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.

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Anti-Taxation with Tobacco Representation

Smoking Burning MoneyR.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.

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Featured Participatory Project: Join Huffington Post Readers in More Superdelegate Muckraking on Congresspedia

Citizen journalism logoAs 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.

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Canada's Groupthink Tanks on Afghanistan

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. ...

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Taking a Stand for Their Communities' Health

Low-income California communities concerned with environmental justice have launched a 21-point "Environmental Justice Movement Declaration." Their position is a challenge to the policies of Gov.

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Barn Raising Day for Superdelegate Transparency

Citizen journalism logoSince the Superdelegate Transparency Project launched on Congresspedia last week, dozens of people have helped flesh out the facts about the so-called "superdelegates" whose votes may determine whether Hillary Clinton or

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SourceWatch Key to Inquiries Launched into Canadian Climate Skeptics' Election Activities

A Canadian global warming skeptics group, Friends of Science (FoS), is facing several investigations into a radio advertising blitz it ran in the 2006 election campaign, which criticized the then-Liberal government's support for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Funding for FoS came in part from a University of Calgary trust account.

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