Race / Ethnic Issues

Indigenous Matters

Barbour, Griffith and Rogers, a Republican law firm with close ties to the White House, has registered as a lobbyist on the issue of registering the Juaneno Band of Mission Indians in California as a federally recognized tribe, but Jerry Reynolds writes in Indian Country Today that it's not clear "whether BGR is lobbying for or against Juaneno recognition," and it's also not clear who is paying them.


Framing the War on Terror

The Gallup polling organization marked the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks by publishing a thoughtful analysis challenging the assumption that "religious fanaticism fuels extremism and therefore replacing Muslims' worldview with Western liberalism is the path to victory against terrorism. ... As a starting point, Muslims do not hold a monopoly on extremist views.


Military PR To Recruit Bodies, Hearts and Minds

"Army Strong, as the Army's latest recruiting campaign is called ... has a definite emphasis on electronic communications, from opportunities to chat live on the Web site with soldiers ... to interactive sections showing what boot camp is like, the different specialties the Army trains people for, and more," writes PR Week.


Big Tobacco's Racial Profiling Challenged in Court

Gloria Tucker's mother and grandmother both smoked cigarettes. Both died from smoking-related health problems. An African American woman, Tucker believes that her loved ones' deaths were due to "racial profiling" by big tobacco companies. And she's got the documents to prove it.

On June 7, Miami attorney J.B. Harris filed a lawsuit on Tucker's behalf. The suit seeks $1 billion in punitive damages collectively from Philip Morris USA, Lorillard Tobacco, R.J. Reynolds, and Liggett Group. It accuses the companies of using predatory marketing techniques to target African Americans. Central to the case are hundreds of tobacco industry documents that detail how companies designed cigarettes especially for African Americans; tailored marketing campaigns to lower-income, less-educated African Americans; and continued to do so long after the U.S. Surgeon General's 1964 declaration that cigarettes are hazardous to health.

Unilever: "Viva Marketing!"

The multinational consumer product company Unilever "has launched ViveMejor, a multimedia marketing initiative that targets the Hispanic community" in the U.S. The PR firm Edelman's multicultural practice is heading communications for the campaign. The campaign includes a magazine, "distributed for free at grocery stores and online ...


Nigeria Strikes Back at British American Tobacco

Tobacco companies target Nigerian youth (Photo by Essential Action)If you think the U.S. tobacco industry is bad, you'll find the behavior of many of the same companies overseas to be truly shocking.

Happily, the industry is beginning to be held accountable for its operations in the Global South. Nigeria's two largest states are following the lead of U.S. states, in suing British American Tobacco (BAT) of Nigeria, its U.K. parent company and Philip Morris International for the health care costs of treating sick smokers, The Times of London reported this week.

The new lawsuits demonstrate the importance of the online public databases of previously secret tobacco industry documents. The 1998 U.S. Master Settlement Agreement required major tobacco companies to reveal millions of pages documenting unethical -- and even illegal -- marketing, public relations and lobbying campaigns. A lesser-known treasure trove is the British American Tobacco Documents Archive, which has made some seven million pages of BAT documents freely available. These documents are of particular importance to countries like Nigeria.

Tampa Testimony Against Media Consolidation, for Media "Convergence"

On April 30, "the Federal Communications Commission was in Tampa to hear from opponents and advocates of media consolidation," reports Pat Walters. "Since June, the FCC has been reviewing several planned changes to the rules governing media ownership.


Gonzales Seeks Support in the Court of Public Opinion

As more information surfaces about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' role in the Justice Department scandal over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, Gonzales is going "on a public relations tour to boost his image," reports Jennifer Hoar.



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