Human Rights

Tiger Woods Caddies for Chevron

In early April, the global oil company Chevron announced that it has entered into a five-year deal with the foundation created by the professional golfer, Tiger Woods. Woods proclaimed that "Chevron has a track record and a commitment to bettering the communities where they operate." Chevron's record, such as its partnership with the Burmese military dictatorship on the Yandana gas pipeline is "certainly nothing with which Woods should want his name attached," writes Dave Zirin in The Nation.

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Healthcare Privacy Laws Quietly Assist Fundraising

stethoscope on walletWhen a patient checks into a hospital or goes to see a doctor, they are typically handed a booklet called "Notice of Privacy Practices" and are asked to sign a document acknowledging that they received the information. Patients assume that these "privacy practices" are in place to protect their personal information and that doctors and hospitals will keep their information in strictest confidence.

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"10 Percent Intellectual": The Mind of Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice deplaning

"I tell my students that policy-making is 90 percent blocking and tackling and 10 percent intellectual."--Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, cited in Mary Beth Brown, Condi: The Life of a Steel Magnolia (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc, 2007), p. 180.

"When you never accomplish anything, your weekly summary of what you've done all week is just a bunch of 'accondishments' -- how you've filled the days."--Noah, a reader of "Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog: I keep track of Condoleezza's hairdo so you don't have to" (May 5, 2008).

Notwithstanding the low poll numbers of the president she serves, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is one of the few people within the Bush administration who has managed to remain relatively unscathed by the public and by pundits. Unlike some in the president's entourage who have left Washington due to criticisms of their performance or ethics, Rice's current standing at home is sufficiently adequate from a PR perspective to allow her (up to now) to stay on in her job without too many embarrassments. True, there have been calls to remove her from her current position because of her recently disclosed role in the administration's use of torture. And doubts about Rice's qualifications as Bush's foreign-policy guru have existed for years, with, for example, her former National Security Council boss in the administration of George H.W. Bush, Brent Scowcroft, stating in 2005 that her "expertise is in the former Soviet Union and Europe. Less on the Middle East." More recently, an article by Patrick Seale, a British writer on the Middle East, talks about "The Tragic Futility of Condoleezza Rice."

But Condi, rising as she has from her solidly middle-class origins in Birmingham, Alabama to the highest echelons of the US government, remains a subject of admiration. Earlier this year the Harris Poll reported that Rice was "still the 'shining star' of the administration." A 2006 profile by BBC News gushed that "Rice's intellectual brilliance is undisputed," and she "has consistently been one of the most popular members of the Bush administration." Pundits have repeatedly floated her name as a possible Republican vice presidential running mate for John McCain. "For a party that up to now has been clueless about how to run against either a woman or a person of color, Condoleezza Rice is pure political gold," explained Nicholas Von Hoffman in a commentary for CBS News.

In fact, Rice's genius and foreign-policy expertise are more image than substance, as recent biographies by Elisabeth Bumiller and Marcus Mabry suggest. In her ascendance to power, Rice's main instrument has not been ground-breaking thinking about important international issues, but rather what Mabry characterizes as "her phenomenal skill at spinning."

Charlie Black Worked for the "Good" Dictators

Charlie Black, the chief campaign adviser for Republican Party Presidential aspirant John McCain, has dismissed calls that he should resign due to his many years of lobbying work for BKSH & Associates, calling the calls "complete inside-the-beltway nonsense." MoveOn

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Colombia Seeks UK PR Help

The Colombian government -- which is dogged by controversy over its human rights record -- is seeking help from British PR firms to help promote a "modern" image amongst journalists and politicians. Colombia's deputy head of mission in the UK, Andelfo Garcia, told PR Week that "the stereotype of Colombia is not right. We are a growing country with a good story to tell.

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The New Whopper: Burger with a Side of Spies

Author Eric Schlosser editorializes about "the growing threat to civil liberties posed by corporate spying," citing Burger King Corporation's spying on the Student/Farmworker Alliance and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers through Cara Schaffer and her private security firm,

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Daughter Busts Dad: Burger King VP Caught Running Dirty Tricks Campaign

Amy Bennett Williams, following up on her previous article reports, "As the Coalition of Immokalee Workers prepares to deliver more than 60,000 petitions to Burger King headquarters in Miami today, the daughter of Burger King's vice-president Stephen Grover confirmed her father is responsible for online po

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