Archive for November 2006

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[ecrea] The Weekly Spin, November 8, 2006

Wed Nov 08 16:34:45 GMT 2006

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>THE WEEKLY SPIN, November 8, 2006
>Sponsored by the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy:
>To support our work now online visit:
>The Weekly Spin features selected news summaries with links to
>further information about media, political spin and propaganda. It
>is emailed free each Wednesday to subscribers.
>Who do you know who might want to receive "The Weekly Spin"? Help
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>you know, encouraging them to sign up at this link:
>1. It's Official: Katherine Harris Makes Sixteen Members of Congress 
>Under Investigation
>2. NBC Rejects Chicks: What's Up With That?
>3. Congresspedia Wikis the Vote
>4. Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) Resigns from Congress
>5. "Victory in Iraq": The PR Behind Bush's Favorite Slogan
>6. Fifteen Current Members of Congress Now Under Investigation
>1. Opposition Builds to CanWest's Bid to Kill Canada's Drug Ads Ban
>2. Degrees of Dependency: Drug Companies & Patient Groups
>3. Murdoch Downplays Iraq Death Toll
>4. Imposter ballot initiatives from cigarette company
>5. Neo-Conned:  Sweet Revenge for Being Duped at Vanity Fair?
>6. Drug Company Takes Rap for Burson-Marsteller's Cash Offer to Journalists
>7. Why There Won't Be More Information on Reconstruction Corruption
>8. Deported Activist Wins Access to Spook's Assessment
>9. Hyping Heart Attacks
>10. Yes to Shadecloth, No to Kyoto
>11. Good reviews for SourceWatch/Congresspedia
>by Elliott Fullmer
>   After further review, Congresspedia has determined that Rep.
>   Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) meets our criteria for the Members of
>   Congress under investigation page. Harris, who is currently running
>   for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), brings
>   the total to sixteen current and three former members currently the
>   subject of a federal, state, or local probe.
>        Specifically, Harris is the subject of a joint investigation by
>   both the Justice and Defense Departments for her ties to Mitchell
>   Wade, a convicted defense contractor and former head of MZM Inc. In
>   2004, Wade made $32,000 worth of illegal contributions to Harris'
>   House campaign (although he apparently left out the "illegal" part
>   when presenting her with the money). In addition, Wade paid for at
>   least two dinners with Harris at a trendy Georgetown restaurant in
>   2004-2005 whose combined cost approached a whopping $6,000, a clear
>   violation of House rules. During the second dinner, prosecutors say
>   Wade requested that Harris help secure $10 million in federal funds
>   for a project benefiting his firm in Sarasota, Fla. Harris allegedly
>   submitted a request for the earmark to the House Appropriations
>   Committee, but it was not granted.
>For the rest of this story, visit:
>by Sasha Rae
>   The Dixie Chicks, that is. This isn't the first time that big media
>   companies have barred them from the airwaves, but it is the first
>   time that NBC and the new CW network have. It appears that once
>   again the Dixie Chicks have exhibited public disapproval of the Bush
>   administration and once again the media have answered by censoring
>   them. This bodes ill for the future of free speech, at least what's
>   left of it in America.
>   Roots of Rejection: The First Snubbing of the Chicks
>        In March of 2003, singer Natalie Maines expressed her
>   disagreement with the start of the war in Iraq and her disgust with
>   President Bush in public at a Dixie Chicks' concert in London.
>   Shortly thereafter, chaos ensued as radio stations refused to play
>   the band's songs and conservative political commentators skewered
>   them verbally on shows. Fans also boycotted their concerts and their
>   music. Three years later, the Chicks are releasing Shut Up & Sing, a
>   film documenting the 2003 controversy and its aftermath.
>For the rest of this story, visit:
>by Conor Kenny
>   Congresspedia will be providing live coverage of Tuesday's
>   congressional elections as only it can: local citizen journalists
>   are helping the wiki's editors build profiles on the 2006
>   challengers and announce winners when races are called. Check
>   Congresspedia's Election 2006 home for details and updates.
>For the rest of this story, visit:
>by Conor Kenny
>   Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) resigned from Congress on Friday, effective
>   immediately. Ney had pleaded guilty to corruption charges on October
>   13 but had remained in office, much to the chagrin of House
>   Republicans and his anointed successor, Republican nominee Joy
>   Padgett. One remaining question: will Ney actually pick up his last
>   $13,000 paycheck, which hanging on past the first of this month
>   enabled him to do?
>        Read more at the excellent Congresspedia page on Bob Ney and
>   Joy Padgett, who we're profiling as part of our Election 2006
>   coverage.
>For the rest of this story, visit:
>by John Stauber
>   The most recent USA Today/Gallup poll indicates that 55% of
>   Americans think things in Iraq are "out of control," and a similar
>   majority favors withdrawing all U.S. troops from the country either
>   immediately or within a year. This explains why George Bush's
>   favorite slogan - 'stay the course' - has been tossed into the trash
>   bin of political rhetoric. Now the president and his image makers
>   are hoping that their new number one slogan - 'victory in Iraq' -
>   will forestall what pundits foresee as an election likely to
>   transfer control of at least one house of Congress to the Democrats.
>For the rest of this story, visit:
>by Elliott Fullmer
>   The investigations just keep on coming. Since our last update on
>   members of Congress under investigation, a mere week ago, four new
>   members have been added to Congresspedia's page of (potential)
>   shame. With these additions, fifteen current and three former
>   members of Congress are currently the subject of a federal, state or
>   local probe (nearly 3% of the Congress)! Each of the newly-added
>   members has a detailed explanation of the allegations against them
>   on their Congresspedia profile page, but here's a quick rundown:
>      * Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is under investigation by the U.S.
>   attorney's office in Newark, N.J. for having an improper financial
>   relationship with the North Hudson County Action Corp., a non-profit
>   organization in Union City, N.J. Menendez leased a house to the
>   group from 1994-2003, collecting over $300,000 in rent. In 1998, he
>   helped the agency win designation as a federally qualified health
>   care center, a label that helped it receive over $9 million in
>   federal health care grants.
>For the rest of this story, visit:
>   A coalition of unions, women's and health groups have been granted
>   intervenor status in a case in which CanWest MediaWorks is seeking
>   to overturn the Canadian government's ban on direct-to-consumer
>   advertising (DTCA). The groups argue that if CanWest is successful
>   it would push up healthcare costs and undermine the sustainability
>   of the Canadian healthcare system. CanWest is arguing that the ban
>   on DTCA is a violation of their right to freedom of expression. In
>   an analysis of the case, Colleen Flood and Michelle Zimmerman from
>   the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, warn against assuming that
>   the court won't decide in the media giant's favour. "In order for
>   the current legislation to be upheld, courts will need to be
>   persuaded that nothing short of the existing limits on DTCA would
>   allow the federal government to achieve its other pressing societal
>   concerns, such as protecting patient safety. This will be a
>   difficult task," they wrote.
>SOURCE: NewsWire, November 6, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   In a survey of 29 U.S. patient groups, New Scientist found only two
>   ruled out drug company funding. Seven of the patient groups surveyed
>   received less than 5% of their income from drug companies, while
>   others were reliant on them for over one-third of their budget. The
>   Colorectal Cancer Coalition receives approximately 81% of its budget
>   from drug companies while a PR consultant for the Neuropathy
>   Association claimed funding sources was "proprietary" information.
>   Joel Lexchin, from York University in Toronto, Canada said "groups
>   should publicise how much money they've gotten from which companies
>   and what it is used for." Even though patient groups dismiss the
>   idea that funding influences their advocacy, Lexchin is unpersuaded:
>   "psychologists talk about the 'gift relationship'. The patient
>   organisations are getting something and feel the need to repay that
>   gift. Whether they are conscious of it or not is really irrelevant."
>SOURCE: New Scientist, 27 October 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Speaking to journalists at a conference in Tokyo, News Corporation
>   Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Rupert Murdoch, downplayed the
>   death toll following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003. "The
>   death toll, certainly of Americans there, by the terms of any
>   previous war are quite minute," he said. "I believe it was right to
>   go in there. I believe that certainly the execution that has
>   followed that has included many mistakes," he said. Murdoch's global
>   media network strongly backed the push for war. In April 2004
>   Murdoch said that "there is one small part where the Sunnis are,
>   which were the people who supported Saddam Hussein, who are giving
>   trouble." The death toll of U.S. military in Iraq is now over 2,830.
>   A recent study published in the the U.K medical journal  The Lancet
>   estimated that 600,000 deaths Iraqis have died as a result of the
>   war.
>SOURCE: Times of India, November 6, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Arizona and Ohio have initiatives on the ballot to end smoking in
>   public places and workplaces, including bars and restaurants. If the
>   measures pass, these states will join Florida, California, New York
>   and 9 other states that have enacted comprehensive laws protecting
>   workers from unnecessary exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.
>   Instead of fighting these measures head-on as they always have,
>   though, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (makers of cigarette brands
>   Camel and Winston) is using a different tactic: bringing much weaker
>   alternative initiatives and pitching them to voters with
>   deceptive-sounding names. The initiatives public health groups
>   support are called Smoke-Free Arizona and SmokeFree Ohio, while the
>   RJR-backed initiatives are called the Arizona Non-Smoker Protection
>   Act and SmokeLess Ohio. Voters will need to do their homework and
>   pay close attention to make the right decision about which measure
>   to back.
>SOURCE: PR Newswire, November 2, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Vanity Fair magazine has rushed on line an article excerpt by David
>   Rose in which leading neoconservatives condemn Bush's handling of
>   the war on Iraq. "Richard Perle, Kenneth Adelman, David Frum, and
>   others play the blame game with shocking frankness," reports Vanity
>   Fair, which published the excerpt on its website before the mid-term
>   elections, thereby angering Perle and others interviewed. Is Vanity
>   Fair tyring to atone in part for its previous and now-discredited
>   reporting by David Rose prior to the war? In 2002 and 2003 Rose was
>   duped by the propaganda campaign that sold the war, and he wrote
>   articles for Vanity Fair that echoed and gave credibility to false
>   claims from phony defectors provided by Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi
>   National Congress. As Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber report in
>   their book The Best War Ever, Rose has since expressed "profound
>   regret" for his duping. On election day 2006 he appeared on
>   Democracy Now.
>SOURCE: Vanity Fair online, November, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   The U.K. drug industry's self regulatory body, the Prescription
>   Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA), has censured
>   Janssen-Cilag after an employee from its PR firm, Burson-Marsteller
>   (B-M), offered journalists cash if they attended a hearing of the
>   government drug regulator. The offer related to a public hearing on
>   Jannsen-Cilag's appeal against a decision against approving the drug
>   Eprex before the National Institute for Clinical Excellence. "As it
>   is possible that the hearing will take up most of the day, and we
>   understand that your time is valuable, we are able to offer ?200
>   (?293) if you wish to attend," the B-M employee wrote (sub req'd).
>   The PMCPA found that Janssen-Cilag, a subsidiary of Johnson &
>   Johnson, was responsible for B-M's actions. In June B-M told PR Week
>   the offer was a "human error" but has declined to comment (sub
>   req'd) on whether the employee still works for the firm.
>SOURCE: Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority, November 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   It always pays to read the fine print. A clause buried in a military
>   spending bill means that the Office of the Special Inspector General
>   for Iraq Reconstruction will be closed in 2007. This office,
>   originally part of the Coalition Provisional Authority before its
>   dissolution, has since March 2004 referred 25 criminal cases to the
>   U.S. Department of Justice, of which four have resulted in
>   convictions. Fifty-five auditors and inspectors work under Special
>   Inspector General Stuart Bowen and are the only auditing body with
>   an on the ground presence in Iraq. "Republican Senator Susan Collins
>   told the New York Times she was mystified about how the termination
>   clause had found its way into the bill. Senator John Warner, the
>   Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the
>   newspaper he would push for an extension of Mr. Bowen's charter."
>SOURCE: BBC News, November 3, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   The U.S.-based activist Scott Parkin has won a legal victory that
>   requires the Australian government to provide his lawyers with
>   access to the adverse security assessment used in September 2005 as
>   the basis for revoking his visitors visa and deporting him. Justice
>   Ross Sundberg granted Parkin and two Iraqi asylum seekers access to
>   their adverse security assessments. Shortly after Parkin was
>   detained, the Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock told ABC
>   Radio that Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) "is
>   responsible for protecting the Australian community from all forms
>   of politically motivated violence, including violent protest
>   activity, and they've made an assessment [of Parkin] in relation to
>   those matters." The Director-General of ASIO, Michael O'Sullivan,
>   later admitted that Parkin had not been involved in violent protest
>   activity in Australia.
>SOURCE: The Age (Australia), November 3, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Alan Cassels notes that disease mongering advertisements for
>   cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as for Pfizer's Lipitor, hype the
>   risk of heart attacks for those people with 'high' cholesterol.
>   Aside from camouflaging 'disease awareness' campaigns behind the
>   name of a patient group, Cassels warns that when scientists have
>   analysed the results of a number of studies on a drug "they
>   inevitably find that the drugs show no difference in mortality, when
>   compared against placebo." One Pfizer ad, under an image of a corpse
>   with a toe tag, asked "what would you rather have, a cholesterol
>   test or a final exam?" "What you don't get in the ads scaring you to
>   see your doc for a cholesterol test," writes Cassels, "is any sense
>   of the dangers these kinds of drugs pose." PR Week reports (sub
>   req'd) that Pfizer has recently awarded the global PR account for
>   promoting Lipitor to Weber Shandwick.
>SOURCE: Common Ground (Canada), November 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   The Australian Minister for Tourism, Fran Bailey, has indicated a
>   willingness to consider covering parts of the Great Barrier Reef
>   with shade cloth to limit damage caused to it by global warming. A
>   trial of four five-metre square shade cloths has been undertaken
>   over the last two years. "We're very concerned because this is a
>   $A5.8 billion tourist industry on the reef, employing 33,000
>   people," Bailey said. But not so concerned as to sign up to the
>   Kyoto treaty aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Bailey's
>   shadecloth suggestion has been ridiculed by the Shadow Environment
>   Minister Anthony Albanese who argues the government should have a
>   broader climate change strategy. "There are 2,900 reefs together.
>   They go for 2,300 kilometres down the Queensland coast and cover an
>   area larger than the UK and Ireland combined. So that's a lot of
>   shade-cloth," he said.
>SOURCE: ABC Radio (Australia), November 2, 2006
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Two recent reviews of SourceWatch/Congresspedia on the Web this
>   week:
>      * A very complimentary and in-depth review by Shirl Kennedy of
>   Resource Shelf, which was founded by research librarian
>   extraordinaire Gary Price. Kennedy calls Congresspedia "a truly
>   unique, helpful and informative website" that provides " 'one-stop
>   shopping'... for information about your elected representatives."
>   Kennedy and Price are particularly fans of the oversight by our
>   professional editors, who work to root out the bias, rhetoric and
>   inaccuracies in the articles. (Read more.) Which brings us to...
>      * A story on PBS's Media Shift by Mark Glaser on wikis. Glaser
>   discusses the "Wikipedia phenomenon" and its "controversial" model
>   of having an unsupervised community write its articles. He contrasts
>   this with SourceWatch/Congresspedia and its paid editors.
>        We're all big fans of Wikipedia but also think Kennedy and
>   Price are on to something with the idea that wikis devoted to
>   tackling controversial political topics can benefit from having a
>   professional arbiter who can keep an eye on things.
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>The Weekly Spin is compiled by staff and volunteers at the Center
>for Media and Democracy (CMD), a nonprofit public interest
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