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Posts Tagged ‘Department of Justice’

Pretty Much Everybody Published Malaysian Government Propaganda

Well, this is certainly NOT a case of earned media: this week a Department of Justice filing covered by BuzzFeed revealed that the current Malaysian government hired PR firms to pay opinion writers at various publications throughout the United States, encouraging them to write op-eds denouncing their primary opponent.

The main purpose of the articles, published by magazines and websites ranging from The National Review and The Guardian to The Huffington Post, was to distinguish current Prime Minister Najib Razak from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim by claiming that he is a moderate Muslim while Ibrahim is a militant Islamist. (Note: according to advocacy groups like Amnesty International, Razak’s government also has a long history of human rights violations like restricting freedom of speech and religion and executing political enemies. They also jailed Ibrahim on what many saw to be “trumped up” charges.)

This was perfect subject material for writers who wanted to push the message that moderation is the only way for Islamist political parties empowered by the recent “Arab Spring” movement to engage with the rest of the world. One of the writers even told BuzzFeed today that “It was actually a fairly standard PR operation”, though he lost his column after the relationship was revealed.

We’re not particularly familiar with Malaysian politics, but the fact that these op-ed writers didn’t feel the need to reveal the backers who were paying them to voice specific opinions is a perfect example of why “PR” is a bad word for many people.

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Shouldn’t BP Just Accept the Settlement Already?

The BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill trial finally began yesterday after earlier settlement talks failed to produce a compromise, and today brings reports of witness testimony about the company “putting cost cuts over safety” and other familiar, defamatory refrains.

At the same time, settlement talks continue behind closed doors. As part of a “last minute” offer, the Department of Justice now says this whole ordeal could all end tomorrow if BP simply pays $16 billion to the feds and the five affected states.

BP should have no real interest in drawing this long, painful process out. The company has received more bad publicity than any other. It paid the highest fines in history. It’s been shamed (repeatedly) by the DOJ. The public has known about all those incriminating emails for some time. BP’s lawyers may negotiate a smaller settlement by spreading the blame to partners Halliburton and Transocean, but plenty of dirty laundry will be aired (again) in the meantime. So why doesn’t BP just accept the offer?

We can only think of two possible explanations: either the company’s executives feel like the damage has already been done or they’re a bunch of cheap, weaselly bastards.

We’ll go with “both.”

DOJ Wants to Keep Your Beer Affordable (And Budweiser Clydesdales Make Us Cry)

Beer drinkers of America: the Department of Justice has your back.

The DOJ filed a civil antitrust lawsuit this week to stop Anheuser-Busch InBev‘s $20.1 billion deal to buy the remaining shares of Grupo Modelo, brewers of Corona, saying that merging the largest and third largest beer makers would “substantially lessen competition”. In other words, if this deal went through there would be nothing to keep the cost of your Friday night suds from skyrocketing.

Under the proposed merger, ABI and Modelo would together control about 46 percent of beer sales in the US. Bill Baer, assistant attorney general in charge of DOJ’s antitrust division, said “If ABI fully owned and controlled Modelo, ABI would be able to increase beer prices to American consumers. This lawsuit seeks to prevent ABI from eliminating Modelo as an important competitive force in the beer industry.”

In order to prove ABI’s dubious intentions, the DOJ’s complaint quotes internal company documents that highlight ABI’s plans to maintain its upward price leadership.

But Anheuser-Busch, like so many boozed-up brawlers before it, won’t be going down without a fight. The company said that it plans to “vigorously contest the DOJ’s action in federal court”. Oddly, whoever wrote the release forgot to add “despite the fact that everyone in the world knows that both Budweiser and Corona taste like overpriced, alcohol-flavored water.”

We’ll keep you posted as this story progresses. In the meantime, though, we’ve uncovered Anheuser-Busch’s nefarious plans to interrupt your Super Bowl with this tear-jerker of a commercial (as if trying to raise the price of your beer weren’t bad enough). We may or may not have begun our Friday morning watching this clip, singing along, and blubbering into our housecoats. Dammit, Clydesdales – you get us every time.

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