Are Berman & Co., flacks for the tobacco, restaurant and booze industries who specialize in attacking groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Greenpeace, preparing to launch a new front group called "Tarnish the Halo?" Or are they just looking for new recruits for their on-going smear campaigns? We wonder because they've posted a job advertisement seeking a researcher. "The food police want us arrested," the ad states. "The animal-rights movement wants us thrown to the lions.
"Gordon Andrew, who has held top communications posts at Prudential and Travelers Group, is handling the press for former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow, who was indicted on 78 counts of fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice," reports O'Dwyer's.
In the latest installment of their series on the business of war, the Center for Public Integrity's team of investigative journalists examines the career of Tim Spicer, the figurehead in a PR campaign to improve the unsavory image of soldiers who fight for hire. "Politicians in the West seem quickly to have accepted a convenient if illusory dichotomy just as it has been handed to them - contrasting the old-style (and bad) 'dogs of war' with the new-style (and good) private military companies, or PMCs," the report states.
Jeremy Rifkin examines news coverage of the Bush Administration's war drive on Iraq. "One can't help but be surprised by the almost total silence on the question of the 'oil connection,'" he writes. "Is it possible that United States political leaders and reporters, columnists, editors and producers are so naive that they really believe there is no other White House agenda in the Middle East except the one that the administration is extolling? Do they really believe that oil plays no role in the strategic thinking of the inner circles at the White House? ...
A nearly two-year investigation by the Center for Public Integrity's International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has identified at least 90 private military companies worldwide that intervene on behalf of governments in military conflicts. The ICIJ investigation shows how profits from war commerce have gone to a small group of individuals and companies with connections to governments, multinational corporations and, sometimes, criminal syndicates in the United States, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
A series of influential studies purporting to show that federal regulation is broadly irrational are based on data that is highly misleading and frequently manufactured to fit a preconceived point of view, according to an investigation by Richard Parker, a law professor at the University of Connecticut.
"The Internet's promise as a new medium -- where text, audio, video and data can be freely exchanged -- is under attack by the corporations that control the public's access to the 'Net, as they see opportunities to monitor and charge for the content people seek and send," writes Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy. "The industry's vision is the online equivalent of seizing the taxpayer-owned airways, as radio and television conglomerates did over the course of the 20th century.
Microsoft is the latest company to upset city officials by using sidewalks and other public property for a "guerilla" marketing campaign. According to the Associated Press, "In New York, municipal workers removed hundreds of Microsoft decals on Thursday and planned to remove hundreds more on Friday. ... 'We intend to hold your firm directly responsible for this illegal, irresponsible and dangerous defacing of public property,' Cesar Fernandez, the department's assistant counsel, said in a letter to Microsoft.
Congressional Democrats accuse the Bush Administration of stacking the Center for Disease Control's Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention with "individuals who are affiliated or openly sympathetic with the views of the lead industry." Their report "Turning Lead Into Gold: How the Bush Administration is Poisoning the Lead Advisory Committee at the CDC" details recent changes to the panel, noting the removal or rejection of several academic experts on lead poisoning.
Enron CEO Ken Lay and Global Crossing CEO Gary Winnick are both claiming that they knew nothing about the billion-dollar shortfalls, deceptive accounting and other problems at their companies. Experts say ignorance is a "potentially effective legal strategy," even though "you should expect chairmen to be aware of major factors affecting the business." After all, isn't that why they pay them the big bucks?