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PR Watch: The Weekly Spin (June 30, 2006)

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1. Pro-War "Vets for Freedom" Tied to Bush's PR Team
2. Hadji Girl

1. Kids to Kraft: Where's the Wheat?
2. U.S. Leads Effort To Shorten EU's REACH
3. Drug Companies Fail Transparency Test
4. Call Goes Out For PR Industry Makeover Proposals
5. CSR "Preventing Progress," Concludes Study
6. CanWest Pushes Drug Ads in Canada
7. Life and Lobbying Go On, After Abramoff
8. Afghanistan's Media War
9. Nuking Hearts and Minds in Britain
10. Republicans Plot Pro-War Strategy to Win in November
11. Benador Asks: Are You With the Fabricators or the Terrorists?
12. Shell Oil Execs To Press the Flesh
13. Pentagon Calls SOS for Foreign Media Work
14. Ethics All Clear for Election Front Group



by John Stauber

  Citizen journalists on SourceWatch have been investigating and
  exposing the many Republican connections and the partisan pro-war
  political agenda behind Vets for Freedom, a new organization with
  mysterious funding and a flashy website designed by Campaign
  Solutions, part of the Donatelli Group. Vets for Freedom's hollow
  claim of "non-partisanship" took another blow Sunday, June 25, when
  the Buffalo News published a front page story by Jerry Zremski,
  their Washington correspondent, linking Vets for Freedom to the Bush
  White House.
For the rest of this story, visit:

by Sheldon Rampton

  If you want to understand why the war is going so badly in Iraq, it
  may help to examine the recent reaction to "Hadji Girl," the
  videotaped song about killing Iraqis by U.S. Marine Corporal Joshua
  Belile. The song became controversial when the Council on
  American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) discovered it on the internet and
  objected to its lyrics. "Hadji Girl" tells the story of a soldier
  "out in the sands of Iraq / And we were under attack":
For the rest of this story, visit:


  In contrast to the more than $15 billion in direct marketing spent
  in the U.S. to exhort children to buy food and non-food products,
  children often don't get very far with the companies when they
  start asking questions. Olympia, Washington teacher Michi Thacker
  assigned her elementary students to write food manufacturers to
  raise questions, such as where the macaroni comes from. Most larger
  companies like Kraft suddenly had little to say. Kraft told one
  student via email that "the information you are seeking is
  considered confidential." Gatorade, Frito Lay, Campbell's and
  Post had similar nonanswers. Nancy from Nancy's Yogurt of Eugene,
  Oregon, on the other hand, responded personally to students with the
  names of the producing farms and the origins of ingredients.
  Rethinking Schools contains 13 articles about how children learn
  about food, including the costs of local and imported food,
  corporate food distribution networks, connecting food and heritage,
  and what an earthworm (in contrast to a PR firm) can teach you about
  eating right.
SOURCE: Rethinking Schools, Summer 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  By year's end, the European Union is expected to adopt REACH, a
  proposal that would "require manufacturers to test industrial
  chemicals used in the manufacturing process to gather health and
  safety data." REACH stands for "Registration, Evaluation and
  Authorization of Chemicals." The bill "has prompted a U.S.-led
  coalition of 13 countries to step up lobbying efforts to make the
  final measure more amenable to industry," reports the Wall Street
  Journal. "The diplomatic missions of the U.S., Japan, Australia,
  India and other countries issues a length joint critique of the
  proposed law this month, saying certain provisions would disrupt
  international trade without offering clear environmental benefits."
  C. Boyden Gray, the U.S. ambassador to the EU and former chair of
  FreedomWorks and Citizens for a Sound Economy, said European
  policymakers "never did a proper impact assessment to evaluate the
  risk-versus-benefit status of this legislation."
SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (sub req'd), June 27, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  A report by Consumers International, a global federation of consumer
  organisations, examined the corporate social responsibility policies
  of 20 major drug companies to test what information they disclose
  about sponsoring patient groups, funding disease awareness campaigns
  and offering hospitality to medical experts. The report, Branding
  the Cure: A consumer perspective on Corporate Social Responsibility,
  Drug Promotion and the Pharmaceutical Industry, "found only one
  company, (Eli Lilly), provided information on policies towards
  patient organisations; Less than half provided information about
  codes of conduct for gifts and hospitality to health care
  professionals; Pfizer, that worlds biggest pharmaceutical company,
  provides no specific public information about its marketing code of
  conduct." The report concludes that self-regulatory codes of conduct
  are inadequate and that there is a need to "dissolve [the] veiled
  relationships between pharmaceutical companies and health
SOURCE: Consumers International, June 26, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  The European Centre for Public Affairs (ECPA), a non-profit PR
  training and research group, is calling on PR consultancies to
  outline how they would improve the image of the PR industry. ECPA
  deputy chairman Michael Burrell told PR Week that it was "important
  that the industry promotes and defends itself." However, Burrell
  recognises the that improving the image of the industry won't be
  easy. "It is a close to insuperable challenge to actually promote
  positive news stories about what [the public affairs industry]
  does," he said. Burrell is European Chairman of Public Affairs for
  the privately-owned PR firm Edelman.
SOURCE: PR Week (sub req'd), June 22, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  A new study on corporate social responsibility (CSR) from Scotland's
  St. Andrews University concludes that corporate CSR programs "are so
  threadbare and misleading that they are preventing progress towards
  a sustainable future," reports the Sunday Herald. The study adds
  that CSR reports, which are produced by less than four percent of
  major companies, are "at best useless and at worst highly
  misleading." Study co-author Jan Bebbington, an environmental
  adviser to the Scottish Executive, warned, "Driven by globalisation,
  problems of pollution, waste and global warming are all threatening
  to disrupt humanity in unprecedented ways." She criticized UK
  Chancellor Gordon Brown for promoting "a light-touch regulatory
  environment" and abandoning "plans to make companies report their
  social and environmental impacts." The Confederation of British
  Industry welcomed Brown's move, calling the proposed reporting
  "overly legalistic."
SOURCE: Sunday Herald (Scotland), June 25, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  The Canadian government has until the end of June to respond to a
  legal action by CanWest MediaWorks, which wants to overturn the ban
  on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs. CanWest
  MediaWorks, which owns a national television network in Canada,
  lodged the claim in December 2005. In a statement at the time,
  CanWest MediaWorks claimed that "Canadians are already inundated by
  American advertisements, making the issue one of 'basic business
  fairness' between the two markets." Barbara Mintzes, from the Centre
  for Health Services and Policy Research at the University of British
  Columbia, argues that there is a need for better enforcement of
  existing legislation. "CanWest's solution is to get rid of the law.
  This is like saying that if corner stores are getting away with
  selling cigarettes to 13 year olds, we might as well get rid of the
  age restrictions," she told the British Medical Journal.
SOURCE: British Medical Journal (sub req'd), June 24, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  Lobbyists from the defunct firm Alexander Strategy Group, which
  closed after being tied to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and
  disgraced House majority leader Tom DeLay, are finding new K Street
  homes, reports Judy Sarasohn. Daniel Gans and Amelia Blackwood have
  started their own shop, Polaris Government Relations. Polaris has
  several former ASG clients, including BellSouth, U.S. Telecom
  Association, Xcel Energy and the Association of Kentucky Fried
  Chicken Franchisees, which retained Polaris to lobby on "estate
  taxes, 'frivolous obesity suits,' the minimum wage and avian flu."
  Former ASG lobbyist Paul Behrends is now at C&M Capitolink and Terry
  Haines is at Buchanan Ingersoll. In related news, the U.S. Senate
  Indian Affairs Committee released a report detailing how Abramoff
  used nonprofit groups "as extensions of for-profit lobbying
  operations." One group, conservative activist Grover Norquist's
  Americans for Tax Reform, funneled more than $1 million from the
  Choctaw tribe to Ralph Reed, reports Associated Press.
SOURCE: Washington Post, June 22, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  In Afghanistan, "the Taliban now have three different press
  spokesmen covering three separate regions of the country. In
  Kandahar this summer, Taliban cassettes, DVDs and magazines are
  available in numbers never previously seen. ... The Taliban have
  also begun broadcasting a pirate station called the 'Voice of
  Sharia' from mobile transmitters in at least two southern
  provinces," reports The Independent. "In response, Western forces in
  the country are extending a fledgling military funded radio channel
  called Radio Peace," which aims to counter Taliban propaganda
  portraying President Hamid Karzai as a "puppet" of the United
  States. The Washington Post reports on "an unsigned but
  official-looking document" recently delivered to Afghan media
  outlets, which directed them to avoid any material that "weakens
  public morale or damages the national interest," among other
  instructions. Karzai disavowed the document, which the national
  journalists' association called "illegal." The document is believed
  to have come from the Afghan intelligence service or government
  officials "seeking to indirectly intimidate the press."
SOURCE: The Independent (UK), June 23, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  "We need to win hearts and minds in local communities and reassure
  people about safety," said Philip Dewhurst. He's not a military
  commander in Iraq or Afghanistan, but the chair of the British
  Nuclear Industry Association (NIA). NIA, which represents 120
  "nuclear power station operators, equipment suppliers and waste
  management firms," is readying for the government of Prime Minister
  Tony Blair "to give the go-ahead for the building of new [nuclear]
  stations when it publishes the findings of the Energy Review next
  month." NIA created a new staff position, public relations head, "to
  champion the industry," reports PR Week. NIA's chief executive has
  said "he believes the public would support new plants built next to
  existing power stations, where residents are already assured of
  safety and where thousands of jobs are supported."
SOURCE: PR Week (sub req'd), June 22, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  The New York Times reports that Republicans are strongly embracing
  the Bush Administration's war in Iraq in "an effort to turn what
  some party leaders had feared could become the party's greatest
  liability into an advantage in the midterm elections." In a strategy
  meeting "White House officials including the national security
  adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, outlined ways in which Republican
  lawmakers could speak more forcefully about the war. Participants
  also included Mr. Bush's top political and communications advisers:
  his deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove; his political director, Sara
  Taylor; and the White House counselor, Dan Bartlett." The NY Times
  article makes no mention of the new group Vets for Freedom, an
  apparent client of the Republican consultanting firm Donatelli
  Group. It has been attacking John Murtha and other Iraq war critics
  while heavlily promoting Bush's pro-war position. Vets for Freedom
  could be very helpful in the Republican pro-war PR strategy to keep
  control of Congress and the Senate.
SOURCE: New York Times, June 22, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  "Who needs Hill & Knowlton when you've got Benador Associates?" asks
  Larry Cohler-Esses in The Nation. Cohler-Esses examines a
  rapidly-debunked May 2006 story in Canada's National Post, which
  claimed that Iran's government was requiring Jewish residents to
  wear a yellow insignia. That story was planted by the PR firm
  Benador Associates, according to its president, Eleana Benador. The
  firm's "stable of writers and activists" reads like "a Who's Who of
  the neocon movement," including Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, Frank
  Gaffney and Amir Taheri, an Iranian exile who wrote the false story.
  Cohler-Esses notes that Taheri's 1989 book, Nest of Spies, was also
  debunked for citing "nonexistent sources," fabricating "nonexistent
  substance in cases where the sources existed," and distorting the
  facts "beyond recognition." Last year, Taheri falsely claimed that
  Iran's current ambassador to the United Nations took part in the
  1979 hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Yet, Taheri was
  part of an "Iraq experts" briefing of President Bush last month. "My
  major concern is the large picture," Benador told Cohler-Esses. "As
  much as being accurate is important, in the end it's important to
  side with what's right. What's wrong is siding with the terrorists."
SOURCE: The Nation, June 14, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  "As an industry, we have not done a good job about educating people
  and talking about how gas prices are set," explained Shell Oil's
  senior media relations specialist, Darci Sinclair. So, over the next
  two years, Shell "will send its senior leaders on a 50-city 'tour',"
  reports PR Week. Shell president John Hofmeister and other
  executives will hold "one-on-one and group meetings, receptions,
  speeches, and other events with local chambers of commerce, rotary
  clubs, educational institutions, media members, environmental
  groups, government officials, Shell employees themselves, and
  others." The goal is to reach 10,000 people in total, in cities
  including Dallas, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Seattle, Charlotte and
  Honolulu. Like other oil companies and the industry group American
  Petroleum Institute, Shell is trying to counter public anger at high
  oil prices and "windfall profit" tax proposals.
SOURCE: PR Week (sub req'd), June 8, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

  STRATCOM, the U.S. military's Strategic Operations Command, has
  awarded its new contract for foreign media monitoring to SOS
  International. Perennial Pentagon favorite the Rendon Group formerly
  held the contract. SOS will track "foreign press in several
  languages across Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and
  Mexico with a focus on the so-called Global War on Terrorism,"
  reports O'Dwyer's PR Daily. The contract is worth up to $67 million
  through 2010. SOS "was one of four companies awarded a multi-million
  contract with the FBI last year to train and provide role players to
  support the Bureau's nationwide counterintelligence training
  program." It's also worked for the United Nations, providing
  "anti-money laundering training" in Nigeria; for Kellogg Brown and
  Root, providing linguists; and for the National Security Agency.
SOURCE: O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), June 21, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:

14. ETHICS ALL CLEAR FOR ELECTION FRONT GROUP,5936,19525794%5E3462,00.html
  The Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) has dismissed an
  ethics complaint that a front group authorized by the Chief
  Executive of Corporate Communications Tasmania, Tony Harrison,
  breached the PR industry's self-regulatory code of ethics. In the
  March 2006 Tasmanian state election, Harrison authorised a major
  advertising campaign for Tasmanians for a Better Future but refused
  to disclose who was funding it. Australian Greens Senator, Christine
  Milne, argued that in her opinion Harrison breached the code of
  ethics provision which states that "members shall be prepared to
  identify the source of funding of any public communication they
  initiate or for which they act as a conduit". In a speech to the
  Australian Senate late last week Milne said that all she got from
  the PRIA "was a two-line reply" dismissing her complaint. Corporate
  Communications Tasmania is the largest PR company in Tasmania and an
  affiliate of Porter Novelli.
SOURCE: The Mercury, June 20, 2006
For more information or to comment on this story, visit:


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