Democracy

Baghdad Press Club Membership Has Its Privileges

"A U.S. investigation into allegations that the American military is buying positive coverage in the Iraqi media has expanded to examine a press club founded and financed by the U.S. Army," reports USA Today. The Baghdad Press Club was created in 2004, "to promote progress amid the violence and chaos of Iraq." A military spokesperson said "members are not required nor asked to write favorably" about the United States.

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Fake News = Weakened Democracy

"The public's ability to participate in the rule-making process was undermined" when the administration of California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger produced video news releases (VNRs) promoting controversial proposals, ruled Sacramento Superior Court judge Lloyd Connelly.

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Lawyers, Drugs and Ad Money

West Virginia's Pharmaceutical Cost Management Council unanimously approved "a financial disclosure form that would require pharmaceutical companies to reveal how much they spend on advertising and promotion of brand-name drugs" in the state, as well as any "gifts, grants or payments to physicians" in excess of $25.

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E-voting Not Yet Ready for Prime Time

"Questions about the security and accuracy of electronic voting systems are likely to continue into the 2006 national elections, because the U.S. government has not yet completed work on electronic voting guidelines," according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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Preventing Embarrassing Information Becoming Public

Guidelines issued by the Australian government's Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet advise public servants on how to avoid personal notebook comments being disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act.

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Philippine President's Lobbying Contract Revealed

In a report for the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Malou Mangahas reveals that in late July 2005, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo entered into a $75,000 per month contract for lobbying services with Venable, a Washington D.C. law firm.

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Yahoo Serious Trouble

After notifying "foreign Web sites that his newspaper colleagues had been instructed not to commemorate the then-pending 15th anniversary of China's 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy activists," Chinese journalist Shi Tao received a 10-year prison sentence. According to Reporters Without Borders, the court that sentenced Mr. Shi "relied partly on evidence provided by a Hong Kong subsidiary of Internet company Yahoo Inc." The government of President Hu Jintao has repeatedly targeted the media.

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Fleishman-Hillard Hired By Japanese Opposition Leader

Katsuya Okada, the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan and the main rival to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, has hired PR firm Fleishman-Hillard to help buff his image ahead of the September 11 national election.

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