"Flush with foreign reserves from oil and natural gas sales, the Kremlin is pumping tens of millions of dollars into various forms of public diplomacy," reports Peter Finn. The Russian government "has hired the giant U.S. public relations firm Ketchum Inc. 'to help the government tell its story of economic growth and opportunity for its citizens,' said Randy DeCleene, an executive at the firm." As part of the PR push, "the official government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta is ... fund[ing] monthly supplements in newspapers in India, Britain, Bulgaria and the United States," including a paid supplement in the Washington Post. "Russiaprofile.org, a news and analysis site funded by [the government news agency] RIA Novosti" features "a range of opinions, including some quite hostile to the Kremlin." RIA Novosti also hosts an annual "Valdai Discussion Club," where "30 to 40 Russia experts and prominent journalists, mostly from the United States and Western Europe ... are wined and dined in the company of Russian policymakers and political analysts." The Hoover Institute's Michael McFaul (an adviser to Barack Obama's campaign) called the Valdai events, which featured sessions with then-President Vladimir Putin, "really smart PR." A previous Spin noted Russia's new think tank, the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation.
It's one of the most controversial questions today: How many Iraqis have died since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion?
That there is no definitive answer should not come as a surprise, given the chaotic situation in Iraq. Still, it's an important question to ask, for obvious humanitarian, moral and political reasons.
Theoretically, the public health surveys and polls that have been conducted in Iraq -- at great risk to the people involved -- should help inform and further the debate. But the data is complicated by different research approaches and their attendant caveats. The matter has been further confused by anemic reporting, with news articles usually framed as a "he said / she said" story, instead of an exploration and interpretation of research findings.
These are the conditions under which spin thrives: complex issues, political interests and weak reporting. So it's not too surprising that last month saw a spate of what international health researcher Dr. Richard Garfield calls "Swift Boat editorials."
Low-income California communities concerned with environmental justice have launched a 21-point "Environmental Justice Movement Declaration." Their position is a challenge to the policies of Gov.
Corporate sponsors of this summer's Beijing Olympics Games are increasingly nervous.
As China prepares to host the Olympic Games, President Hu Jintao is urging Communist Party officials to "perform well the task of outward propaganda, further exhibit and raise up the nation's good image." At a recent Communist Party gathering, Jintao stressed the need for "cultural soft power," or public diplomacy, and said Chinese propaganda must "advance the building of the body of socialist core value and further boost unity a
Steve Benen writes that "As it turns out, the reasoning behind the CIA's decision to record interrogations on video, stop recording interrogations on video, and destroy the interrogation videos was all exactly the same: officials were hoping to avoid a public-relations nightmare." They were unsuccessful, of course, since the media reported widely on the destruction of the tapes and