The documentary film "(astro)Turf Wars: How Corporate America is Faking a Grassroots Revolution," explains the bizarre situation we face as America drowns in fake, corporate-funded "grassroots" movements.
A California group that represents large produce growers, marketers and the suppliers who sell them pesticides and fertilizer, is getting $180,000 in federal funds for a PR campaign to combat critics of the pesticide industry.
Netflix kicked off the introduction of its streaming-entertainment service into Canada by closing off a street in downtown Toronto and holding a splashy media event. Excited people thronged the street, but journalists were unaware that many of the people were "extras," hired and paid by Netflix to act like excited consumers.
Earlier this year, Australia became the first country to announce plans to make tobacco companies use plain, uncolored cigarette packs with few or no logos that bear only graphic health warnings.
The movie "Eat, Pray, Love" is the story of a woman who travels the world in search of personal fulfillment, enlightenment and love. Despite the noticeably non-materialistic theme, though, Sony Pictures and Home Shopping Network (HSN) inked a deal to use the movie as a vehicle to hype an amazing amount of female-targeted merchandise. In the run-up to the film's August 13 release, HSN staged a three-day shopping event that showcased over 400 "Eat, Pray, Love" movie-related products including kitchenware, teas, jewelry, clothing, spices, shower gel, bed sheets, furnishings and cookware. Moviegoers are invited buy Eat, Pray, Love "I deserve Something Beautiful" T-shirts for a whopping $39.90 apiece, or an "Eat, Pray, Love" Sony Pocket Edition E-Reader with case for $229.95 (in three easy payments), a gelato maker, Sony laptop computers in movie-themed colors, gourmet candies, flat-panel TVs and much more.
President Obama is calling a big part of the health care reform bill he signed into law last March a "Patients' Bill of Rights", suggesting that many of the consumer protections contained in the new law were the same ones the health insurance industry succeeded in killing time and again over many years through a fear-mongering campaign it secretly financed.
Obama is right -- but only to a point. An important right was missing from his list of consumer protections because, once again, insurers had made sure it would not be part of any bill that reached his desk.
The insurance industry defeated many attempts to pass a Patients' Bill of Rights in the 1990s and 2000s, despite considerable bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. It did this by funneling millions of dollars through a big PR firm it hired to set up a front group -- the Health Benefits Coalition -- whose sole purpose was to scare people away from the legislation. The industry also had one especially important ally: Obama's predecessor in the White House, George W. Bush. Bush threatened to veto any Patients' Bill of Rights that he (read: the insurance industry and its business allies) didn't like. Lawmakers were never able to agree on a single bill that Senators and House members could agree to (the House approved a weakened version of the bill Bush presumably would sign but the Senate refused to weaken its bill), so they eventually just gave up.