Stephen J. Hedges profiles the Rendon Group, the PR firm now working for the Pentagon in the "war on terrorism." Company owner John Rendon, who calls himself "an information warrior and a perception manager," has gotten rich working in places like Panama, the Balkans, Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the secrecy surrounding his work makes it difficult to assess what, if anything, Rendon is actually accomplishing. "They're very closemouthed about what they do," says Kevin McCauley, an editor at O'Dwyer's PR Daily.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett says it's "virtually a certainty" that terrorists will inflict "a major nuclear event" on the United States sometime soon - probably in New York or Washington. "What makes Buffett so pessimistic?" askes commentator James Pinkerton. "Maybe he read the Capitol Hill testimony of Undersecretary of State Charlotte Beers before the House Appropriations Committee on April 23." Beers wants to spend $595 million on public relations to address seething anti-U.S.
U.S. Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs chief Charlotte Beers told a House subcommittee she needs $595 million to "improve and magnify the ways in which we are addressing people of the world--not necessarily other world governments--but people," O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. Her request represents a five percent increase for the public diplomacy budget. "That outreach is especially targeted at 'disaffected populations' in the Middle East and South Asia, where a poor perception of the U.S.
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.
"Take an ad suggesting that doing illegal drugs can lead to terrorism and add the word 'beer' and what do you get?" Advertising Age asks. "As the Office of National Drug Control Policy discovered some very angry beer wholesalers and brewers." The ad copy in dispute reads "Last night, I met the guys for beers, went out for dinner and helped gun down 21 men, women and children." The White House drug office says the ad is part of a series showing how illegal drugs finance terrorism and is not meant to make a connection between alcohol and illicit drugs.
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.
The Bush administration, Exxon-Mobil and other energy companies successfully connived behind the scenes to oust climatologist Robert Watson from leadership of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nation's international scientific panel on climate change. Meanwhile, an extensive research survey published in March confirms that global warming is already affecting life on earth.
An increasing number of observers are reaching the conclusion that the Bush administration covertly backed the recent attempted military coup in Venezuela. As Josh Marshall points out, there is "something odd and perplexing about the drifting accounts being provided by administration officials. Every day there's a new detail.
In the aftermath of the failed coup against populist Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, Bush administration officials have admitted that they "met several times in recent months" with leaders of the coup "and agreed with them that he should be removed from office." Those meetings, and the haste with which the White House proclaimed its support for the military-installed regime, have prompted suspicions that the U.S. helped instigate the coup.
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.