THE WEEKLY SPIN, March 1, 2006

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1. Bad Data, and Compromised Limits, on Chromium
2. DP World Seeks Many PR Ports in Political Storm
3. Virtual Marketing Realities
4. Old-Style Repression under 'New Maldives' Makeover
5. A Crude Attempt To Gain LNG Support
6. TIA's Different Names, Same Spy Games
7. Finding a Chemical Harmless, For a Fee
8. Oil for Food, Lobbyists, and Corporate Profits
9. Is Fair Trade Coffee a Quick Corporate Fix?



1. BAD DATA, AND COMPROMISED LIMITS, ON CHROMIUM,1,7640474.story?coll=la-news-a_section
  "This was a 10-year campaign to shape the science to fit the
  industry's agenda rather than shape the regulation to fit the
  science," Professor David Michaels said of industry attempts to
  avoid lower exposure limits for hexavalent chromium. In 2004, the
  U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed
  reducing the exposure limit set in 1943 more than fifty-fold.
  Michaels and other researchers "obtained internal documents through
  an industry foundation's bankruptcy proceedings that showed the
  industry representatives were aware in 2002 of an elevated cancer
  risk." They found that a study commissioned by the industry group
  Chrome Coalition, and carried out by ENVIRON, manipulated data to
  hide increased cancer risks at all but the highest exposure levels.
  Some 380,000 U.S. workers are exposed to chromium. An executive at
  the company Elementis Chromium denied an "orchestrated effort to
  hide anything," but said the data "may have not been handled well."
  OSHA finally set the new chromium exposure limit at one-tenth the
  old limit.
SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, February 24, 2006
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  Even as the United Arab Emirates-owned company DP World (Dubai Ports
  World) requested a 45-day "further review of its deal to buy
  management rights to terminals at major U.S. ports," it's building a
  massive public relations team to support the $6.8 billion deal. To
  "tamp down Congressional criticism," DP World hired the firm Clark &
  Weinstock, according to O'Dwyer's. The firm's Vin Weber, a former
  Republican Congressman, will head the account. (PR Week is reporting
  that firm partner Davis Weinstock said they "represent the embassy
  of the United Arab Emirates," not DP World.) DP World has also
  retained the Albright Group, which is headed by former Secretary of
  State Madeleine Albright; Alston & Bird, which counts former Senator
  Bob Dole among its lobbyists; and the Downey McGrath Group, which is
  headed by former Congressmen Tom Downey and Ray McGrath. Downey "is
  a good friend of New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who has been
  spearheading opposition" to the ports deal. DP World's lead PR firm
  is the Britain-based Bell Pottinger.
SOURCE: O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), February 24, 2006
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  In April 2005, "a breakthrough in television advertising debuted
  without fanfare" -- a new technology that allows product placements
  to be digitally added, after scenes are filmed. The technology,
  called Digital Brand Integration (DBI), was developed by Marathon
  Ventures, as part of "an unprecedented marketing deal with CBS." DBI
  has added brands like Kellogg's to the sitcom "Yes, Dear," and
  StarKist and Chevrolet to "CSI" and "How I Met Your Mother."
  Marathon "expects to unveil a new pact soon with the Fox network,"
  reports Reuters. But "virtual product placement" dates back to at
  least 1999, when "images of several brands, including Coca-Cola and
  Blockbuster video, were digitally spliced into an episode of the
  now-defunct drama 'Seven Days.'" "According to Nielsen Media
  Research, network placements in prime time last year numbered
  108,261, up more than 30 percent from 2004."
SOURCE: Reuters, February 26, 2006
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  A Maldives news service criticizes the 'New Maldives' project
  launched by President Gayoom in October 2005 as "nothing more than
  an image make-over for an unpopular and authoritarian regime." The
  editorial notes that the opposition political party, the Maldivian
  Democratic Party (MDP), has highlighted contradictions between the
  government's words and actions, including "government rhetoric over
  judicial reform while MDP Chairperson Mohamed Nasheed (Anni) is
  refused a fair trial" and "assertions over press freedom, while the
  Police Chief harasses foreign-based journalists." For several years,
  the PR firm Hill and Knowlton has promoted tourism to the Maldives,
  on behalf of the government. Hill and Knowlton plays a "seemingly
  central role" in the 'New Maldives' project and "remain [a] close
  advisor to the 'reform ministers'," according to the editorial.
SOURCE: Minivan News (Maldives), February 22, 2006
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  "Controversy over LNG [liquid natural gas] terminals is growing as
  demand soars," reports the Boston Globe. There are four proposals
  for new LNG terminals in Massachusetts -- and one has its own
  astroturf group. The Coalition for an LNG Solution, which describes
  itself as "a grass-roots neighborhood organization," supports new
  LNG terminals on Boston Harbor islands. But the phone number for the
  coalition "is a line to Regan Communications, a powerful public
  relations firm that has been hired by AES Corp. of Arlington, Va.,
  the company that wants to build the Boston Harbor terminal on Outer
  Brewster Island." An AES spokesperson referred calls to Regan,
  saying the firm does "grass-roots and community organizing, and we
  rely on them to respond to questions and coordinate those
  activities." One Boston-area activist, John Vitagliano, has
  addressed neighborhood associations on behalf of the coalition.
  Vitagliano said "he receives no compensation" from Regan or AES.
SOURCE: The Boston Globe, February 24, 2006
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  The U.S. Defense Department's Total Information Awareness (TIA)
  program, "which developed technologies to predict terrorist attacks
  by mining government databases and the personal records of people in
  the United States," was not ended, as lawmakers directed in 2003,
  but merely moved and renamed. While "it is no secret that some parts
  of TIA lived on," the National Journal reports details of how TIA
  continued. Two key programs moved to the Advanced Research and
  Development Activity (ARDA), at the National Security Agency. One, a
  $19 million contract given to Hicks & Associates "to build the
  prototype system," was renamed "Basketball." The other is a $3.7
  million contract given to SAIC, "to help analysts and policy makers
  anticipate and pre-empt terrorist attacks." That work, initially
  called "Genoa II," was renamed "Topsail." Whether these programs are
  still active is unclear. ARDA itself is being moved to National
  Intelligence Director John Negroponte's office and renamed the
  "Disruptive Technology Office."
SOURCE: National Journal, February 23, 2006
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  In a April 2003 pitch to DuPont, The Weinberg Group proposed a
  strategy to help defuse the growing controversy over the health
  impacts of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a compound used to make
  Teflon. Weinberg's Vice-President of Product Defense, P.Terrence
  Gaffney, said, "DuPont must shape the debate at all levels." One of
  his suggested strategies was to facilitate the "publication of
  papers and articles dispelling the alleged nexus between PFOA and
  teratogenicity as well as other claimed harm." (Teratogenicity is
  used to describe the damaging effects of an agent on a fetus.)
  Gaffney also proposed to "develop 'blue ribbon panels' of thought
  leaders on issues related to PFOA" and to "coordinate the publishing
  of white papers on PFOA, junk science and the limits of medical
  monitoring." DuPont confirmed to reporter Paul D. Thacker that they
  had hired the Weinberg Group to help with "scientific third party
  experts," probably on PFOA issues.
SOURCE: Environmental Science and Technology, February 22, 2006
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  Prior to the October 2005 release of Paul Volcker's report on
  violations of the United Nations' Iraq oil-for-food program, the
  Australian wheat exporter AWB Limited hired the Washington DC
  lobbying firm The Cohen Group, which is headed by former U.S.
  defense secretary William S. Cohen. AWB paid approximately $A300
  million in trucking fees on its wheat contracts to a Jordanian
  company, Alia, which owns no trucks. The funds were funnelled to
  Saddam Hussein's government, according to information given to an
  Australian government-appointed Royal Commission. Last week, AWB
  Middle East Marketing Manager Chris Whitwell mentioned The Cohen
  Group when asked about diary entries related to "develop[ing] a
  communications strategy." Whitwell said "Chalabi - link to Alia"
  referred to Ahmed Chalabi, as "he and Alia have some issues."
  Stanley McDermott, a partner in the law firm DLA Piper Rudnick Gray
  Cary, which has a "strategic alliance" with The Cohen Group, has
  also advised AWB.
SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald, February 22 2006
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  Writing in the newsletter of the Minneapolis-based Wedge Co-op,
  Rodney North warns that the token use of fair trade certification
  can "prematurely undermine the public pressure for real change."
  North points to a web-based survey by U.K.-based Baby Milk Action,
  which asked supporters what they thought of the fair trade
  certification of Nestlé's Partners Blend coffee. Two-thirds of 500
  survey respondents, of whom 79% are currently boycotting Nestlé,
  thought the certification meant the whole company had been audited
  for fair trade practices. "The truth is the Fair Trade certification
  system examines only the individual products bearing the seal, and
  not companies," he writes. North points out that fair trade coffee
  accounts for just 0.1% of Nestlé's annual coffee imports, and has
  no effect on numerous other commodities the company buys.
SOURCE: Wedge Co-Op Newsletter, February/March 2006
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