Ethics

Penny for Your Biased Thoughts?

Inspired by recent public revelations about pundits who took large consulting fees from Enron, Robert W. Hahn ponders the financial conflicts of interest that pervade the world of Washington think tanks (including his own outfit, the heavily corporate-funded American Enterprise Institute-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies). Hahn's essay, "The False Promise of 'Full Disclosure'," combines some fairly frank admissions with rationalizations about the "impracticality" of full disclosure.

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Monsanto's Web of Deceit

"Anti-GMO (genetically modified organism) scientists and activists are increasingly having their credibility attacked through a campaign orchestrated by the biotech industry," investigative reporter Andy Rowell writes. In two in-depth stories Rowell and Jonathan Matthews, of Norfolk Genetic Information Network, examine the dirty tricks Monsanto has played to promote its gene altered food.

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Coverup at the World Trade Center?

In their resignation letters, the top two members of the Ombudsman Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have accused the agency of covering up the existence of deadly pollution in the area of the destroyed World Trade Center towers in New York. Emergency workers who were sent to the scene and residents of Lower Manhattan are developing serious, and in some cases, life-threatening respiratory ailments and other health problems.

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Endorsements for Sale

The Child Health Corporation of America, which "says its mission is to find the best medical supplies for some of the nation's biggest children's hospitals," is "endorsing certain products in return for a percentage of sales and, in some cases, shares or warrants from their manufacturers." Nevertheless, "Manufacturers that receive the seal hold it up as a major independent endorsement."

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EPA Boots a Whistleblower

The resignation of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ombudsman Robert Martin ends his long-running battle to preserve his office and its ability to independently investigate cases where the agency mishandled Superfund sites. His resignation came on the heels of actions taken by EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman to disband his office, including sending agents to confiscate his files and his computers, and to change the locks on his office.

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Oil Slick Propaganda

The U.S. Interior Department's web site features a video prepared by the Patton Boggs lobbying group to promote exploration for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Its distribution of the video violates a law forbidding federal agencies to engage in PR activities "designed to support or defeat legislation pending before the Congress." The Interior Department is becoming "a cinema house for lobbyists," says Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey.

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Wall Street's "Big Lie"

The full extent of Wall Street's corruption doesn't stop at Enron and Arthur Andersen. Extraordinary revelations about Merrill Lynch surfaced this week when Eliot Spitzer, the New York state attorney general, publicized e-mail messages that circulated among Merrill's stock analysts, suggesting that the analysts privately doubted the stocks they publicly recommended to clients.

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Arctic Power Sees Conflict With Saudi Arabia, Drops PR Firm

Arctic Power, a lobbying organization that promotes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, has ended its $4-million account with Qorvis Communication reports PR trade publication O'Dwyer's PR Daily. Arctic Power says there is a conflict of interest since Qorvis also is working for Saudi Arabia. One of Arctic Power's key arguments for opening ANWR to oil drilling is that it would reduce US dependence on foreign oil, particularly Middle-Eastern oil. The US is Saudi Arabia's second top export market.

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