How Corporations Influence the Media

How do corporations influence entire media markets? A 1995 Philip Morris (PM) document shows one way in which corporations work to influence the larger media to manipulate larger public opinion. The previously-secret document shows that PM hired a Denver-based public relations agency to implement an ambitious and comprehensive plan aimed at influencing Colorado media outlets and thus shift public opinion more in the company’s favor.

The document, titled “PM Media Action Network – Media Plan for Colorado,” was written by public relations firm Russell, Karsch & Hagen, based in Denver. It states:

“[We] will begin to reshape public opinion through the media…” and “…[W]e are confident we can continue to shift the media’s view, and, ultimately the view of the general public…toward issues affecting the industry.”

In keeping with PM’s internal adversarial view of public health efforts to reduce smoking, Russel, Karsch planned to develop a “War Book” of “key issues and message points we believe will be effective in Colorado.”

Finally, A Law Firm that Helps the Beleaguered Working Class

Sharon Y. Eubanks, who helped start new law firm that advocates for regular working people. She headed up the United States’ 1999 legal case against the major tobacco companies.

An entirely new kind of law firm has opened up in Washington, D.C. and New York City. Its stated mission is to take the side of average working people against the big dogs: the corporate polluters, discriminatory employers and unsafe manufacturers whose policies, behaviors, products and activities make life difficult for the rest of us. The new, high-powered public interest law firm specializes in fighting for beleaguered, regular working-class clients and on the way getting court rulings that will benefit entire communities. The group, Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys (AFJ), is made up of activist-minded attorneys who have extensive experience litigating against big corporations in specialty areas like labor and employment, consumer rights, environmental justice and civil rights. “Our mission is to ensure that high-quality legal representation is not limited to the wealthy, but is available to those who need it most.  We represent regular, working people who suffer the bulk of our country’s legal problems,” says Sharon Y. Eubanks, one of the firm’s founding attorneys.  Ms. Eubanks is an example of the high caliber of attorneys at AFJ — she served as lead counsel for the United States in the largest civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) enforcement action ever filed, United States v. Philip Morris USA, et al., also known as the federal tobacco litigation. Other attorneys at AFJ are Arthur Z. Schwartz, Cate Edwards, Richard Soto and Tracey Kiernan. AFJ’s website is afjlaw.com. In one of the firm’s current cases, AFJ is representing 170 parents and community members in a civil rights action against a school district in New York. The suit alleges that the school district violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights by intentionally segregating white students into private schools, while cutting funds to the primarily black and Hispanic student population of the public schools. AFJ Law in D.C. is located at 11 Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. 20036. The group also has an office on Broadway in New York City. If you need help or want a consultation, contact information is on the firms’ web site.

Missouri U.S. House Rep. Akin Shocks Nation with Comments about Women

In a Sunday, August 19 interview on the “Jaco Report” on St. Louis’ Fox Channel, House Rep. Todd Akin, the tea party Republican running against incumbent Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, was asked whether he would support a woman’s right to have an abortion in the case of rape. Referring to pregnancy resulting from rape, Akin responded, “From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape,” he continued, “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.” Akin’s outrageous statement revealed not only his extreme lack of knowledge about basic human biology, but also an incredibly callous attitude towards women. His comments immediately drew outrage from a national audience.  Akin tried to take back his comments shortly after the interview by issuing a statement that said, in part, “In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year.” Akin’s biosketch on his campaign website says he has an engineering degree and a Master of Divinity Degree from a theological seminary, and his children are home-schooled. His campaign website credits solely God for helping him win his primary election. Akin did not explain in the interview what he believes constitutes a “legitimate rape.” Rep. Akin teamed up with House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) last year to try to redefine the term “rape” in a federal bill. The bill sought to change the term “rape” to “forcible rape” in a bill regarding Medicaid funding, to try to further restrict women’s access to abortions in the event they are raped.

This article was updated at 6:56 p.m. MDT, August 20, 2012

About Mitt Romney’s Underwear

The mainstream media is loathe to cover the touchy topic given Mitt Romney’s presidential bid, but devout Mormons wear special ceremonial underwear called “garments” underneath their clothes as a constant reminder of their faith. The white underwear symbolizes purity and covenants made with God. Mormons consider the garments to be the “protective armor of God,” and believe the underwear provides protection against temptation and evil. The special garments are sold only at Mormon church-owned stores or through Mormon church websites. Men’s undergarments consist of a white, somewhat exaggerated scoopneck undershirt and knee-length boxer-style briefs. Women’s garments similarly cover them from shoulders to knees, with an undershirt that has a sweetheart neck and some tailoring to accommodate the bust. Some people mock the garments by describing them as “magic Mormon underwear,” but Mormons consider them sacred and treat them with the utmost respect. So does Mitt Romney wear this special protective Mormon underwear? It appears that he does. In photos of him wearing white dress shirts, one can see an exaggerated scooped-neck, white undershirt underneath the fabric that looks very much like the photos of the sacred underwear Mormons wear under their street clothes.

Additional information about Mormon underwear:

The Thinking Atheists’ guide to Mormon underwear (contains information on difficult-to-see special features of the underwear and their significance)

A Brief Guide to Mormon Underwear  (by Buzzfeed)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) guide to “Temple Garments”

LDS information on “Temple Garments” and instructions to the media on how to treat the subject of the underwear

MormonSecret.com  (a website that uses hunky male and sexy female models to demonstrate Mormon temple garments and that sells the garments to anyone regardless of their religion)

MormonCurtain.com (a website that blogs the ExMormon world — this is their page about temple garments)

What are LDS Garments or Mormon Underwear?

L.A. Times article discussing Ann Romney’s underwear and MormonSecret.org

 

Updated 10/27/2012

Author Ayn Rand, Idolized by the Hard Right, Was an Atheist & Psychopath

Philosopher and author Ayn Rand in 1957 (Source: Wikipedia)

Rush Limbaugh called her “brilliant.”  The Tea Party made a movie about her. Ron Paul says she “tells the truth” and GOP vice presidential pick, Rep. Paul Ryan once said that “more than anyone else, she explained the morality of capitalism and the morality of individualism” to him and inspired him to run for office. The woman about whom all these hard right wingers gush is Russian immigrant Ayn Rand, a political philosopher and novelist whose books and writings promote objectivism, a philosophy that holds that people should elevate their own self-benefit over all else. Rand believed that the there is no obligation whatsoever to care for your fellow man, and that the only real moral imperative is pursuit of your own happiness and self-interest, even at a high cost to others. Rand believed that people should be unconcerned with those who are less fortunate. But the politicians and right wingers who extoll the virtues of Rand and he extraordinarily hard individualist philosophy also ignore the fact that she was an atheist who scorned churches and the concept of God. “I am against God,” she once  stated. “I don’t approve of religion. It is a sign of psychological weakness…I regard it as evil.” Some even regarded Rand as a psychopath after she praised serial murderer William Edward Hickman as her ideal man and a “superman” who exemplified her philosophy of ultimate self-centeredness. In 1927, Hickman kidnapped and gruesomely dismembered a 12-year-old girl named Marion Parker, returning her torso to her parents with her eyes wired open after he extorted $1,500 in ransom from the child’s father.

12 Tips to Make People Like You Better

Pay attention!

1. If you use something, put it back where you got it.

2. If you get something dirty, clean it.

3. If you open it, close it when you are done.

4. Always arrive at the time you promised to be somewhere.

5. Say at least two nice things to someone before you criticize them.

6. Use initiative. Look around, anticipate what needs to be done, and then do it.

7. Do tasks to the best of your ability, not just to get them over with. People can tell the difference.

8. Take care of things that belong to you.

9. Take care of yourself. It’s a gift to others who care about you.

10. Occasionally leave the computer screen or put down the newspaper and interact with other human beings in your presence.

11. Do more than the minimum you need to do just to get by.

12. If you have a dog, walk and play with him every day.

 

 

Michigan Town Asked to Remove Christian Cross from Public Park

Frankenmuth, Michigan’s giant, 55-foot tall cross in “Cross Park”

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) has formally asked (pdf) to the city of Frankenmuth, Michigan to remove a 55-foot tall Christian cross from a public park. The cross was erected in a 1976 ceremony attended by then-Mayor of Frankenmuth Elmer Simon, who, at the dedication ceremony, said that “The simple cross of Christ assures us that life does not end with death. From our local heritage, this Christian symbol suggests that we are also a community under Christ.” More recently, the City has referred to the cross as “a tribute to the religious commitment of the Frankenmuth community.” AU points out that the display of a Christian cross in a taxpayer-supported public park is an unlawful endorsement of Christianity. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits government from promoting one religion above all others, and from promoting religion over non-religion, the group says, citing legal precedent for the symbol’s removal. AU suggested the City remove the cross to private land, and wrote, “Failure to remove the cross will expose the City to a significant risk of litigation.” AU requested a response from the City within 30 days. Frankenmuth is a city of about 5,000 nicknamed “Little Bavaria” that trades on its Bavarian-themed, timber-framed architecture, shops, breweries and German culture.

Koch-Funded Climate Skeptic Now Warns of Global Warming

UC Berkeley Physics Professor Richard A. Muller

A University of California, Berkeley physics professor and longstanding critic of prevailing global warming science has reversed course and now attributes climate change directly to greenhouse gases produced by human-related activities. Professor Richard A. Muller, a climate change skeptic in the past, has taken funding from the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation named after billionaire Charles G. Koch, owner of the big petrochemical conglomerate Koch Industries and one of the most prolific funders of climate change denial and misinformation on Earth. Muller says a research project he undertook actually showed “that the average temperature of the Earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover,” he says, “it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.” Muller further concludes that “Humans are entirely the cause” of global warming. He calls his stance a “total turnaround” from the way he used to think. Muller authored an opinion piece in the Saturday, July 28 issue of the New York Times titled “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic.”

Source: Los Angeles Times, July 29, 2012

Gun Laws Determined by Those Who Participate in Democracy

Guest post by Ken Gordon, former Majority Leader of the Colorado Senate

Former Colorado Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon

It would take you less than an hour to drive from Columbine High School to the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora. Both venues are in the suburbs of Denver and subject to the laws created by the Colorado Legislature.

Few politicians have mentioned laws when talking about the shooting in Aurora. The following story will help explain this reluctance.

I was the Minority Leader in the Colorado House when the Columbine shooting occurred.

Most of the guns used at Columbine were bought at the Tanner Gun Show in Adams County. Robyn Anderson, a friend of the Columbine shooters, Harris and Klebold, went with them to the show, and helped them buy the guns. She testified in a House hearing that they purposefully bought guns at tables that were not federally licensed dealers, because they did not want to give their names and addresses for a background check.

Following Columbine, I sponsored the legislation to require background checks for any purchase at a gun show. We referred to it as “closing the gun show loophole.”

First Annual Colorado Secular Conference Kicks Off in Grand Junction

Attendees listen to a talk about the Patriot Act at the first annual Colorado Secular Conference held at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.

Colorado’s first annual Secular Conference kicked off today in one of the most conservative and deeply religious areas of the state: Grand Junction. Mesa County, where the conference was held, is the second most conservative county in the state, after El Paso County (Colorado Springs), home of Focus on the Family and the Air Force Academy, with its iconic Cadet Chapel. About 120 people from around Colorado and many other states spent the day in the second floor ballroom of Colorado Mesa University’s Student Center discussing the future of the secular movement in Colorado and the U.S. The conference opened with a discussion involving the entire group about the goals secular citizens hope to accomplish by organizing and becoming a political force in Colorado. Attendees shared stories about the discrimination and stigma they have suffered as a result of their lack of religiosity. Several speakers pointed out that non-religious citizens now comprise fully 19 percent of the U.S. population, yet have little to no representation in government or policy matters. Kelly Damerow, Research and Advocacy Manager for the Secular Coalition for America, who traveled to the conference from Washington, D.C., discussed the threats that ongoing religious extremism pose, like attempts to restrict the types of health care that can legally be delivered, loopholes exempting religious people from having to comply with laws and regulations that govern the rest of society, and efforts to enact “personhood” amendments that elevate the rights of fetuses over the rights of the women carrying them. A new statewide secular lobbying group, the Colorado Secular Coalition, was officially created at the meeting, bringing a resounding round of applause from attendees. A speaker from the American Civil Liberties Union enlightened the crowd about how the 12 year-old Patriot Act has eroded citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Afternoon speakers gave attendees tips for creating new secular groups in their schools and hometowns. The conference will conclude tomorrow, on Sunday, after more talks, a tour of the Colorado National Monument and western Colorado’s wine country. The conference was organized by Humanists Doing Good, a secular group in Fruita, Colorado, a town of about 13,000 people located ten miles west of Grand Junction. The conference was free to all attendees, and will be an annual event.