News Release Archive - 2007

Google and DoubleClick Merger: Online Consumer Profiling

On Thursday and Friday, the Federal Trade Commission is holding a “town hall meeting” on Internet advertising.

JEFF CHESTER
Chester is the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, author of the recently released book Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy and will testify at the FTC. He said today: “A system has emerged where we are tracked, profiled, and analyzed, and then subjected to an array of sophisticated marketing communications designed to direct and change our personal behavior.

“The data and market clout that a DoubleClick acquisition will provide Google must be stopped by the FTC and the European Commission. We are seeing the emergence of a ‘new-media’ monopoly that should concern all of us. But in our interactive marketing era, it’s not about following the money. It’s all about who gets to access and harvest our personal information.”
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MELISSA NGO
Ngo is director of the Identification and Surveillance Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. She said today: “Google has repeatedly claimed that it is not a competitor to DoubleClick, because Google states it is merely a search engine while DoubleClick is an ad server. However, on August 21, Google began selling display ads to select videos running on YouTube, which Google owns. YouTube is the most popular online video site, and Google is now its exclusive server of display rich media advertising. If it were not clear before, it is clear now that Google is a competitor to DoubleClick, the world’s largest Internet advertising company.

“Google’s insistence that it is a mere search engine, that it is not a part of the Internet display ad market, is disingenuous. With this merger, Google is attempting to subsume its biggest competitor in the online display ad market.”
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AMINA FAZLULLAH
Amina Fazlullah is a media reform advocate and staff attorney at U.S. PIRG. She said today: “Most online shoppers believe they’re beating the system by going online and hunting down bargains in a wholesale environment. However today’s click per click data collection regime has turned the wholesale warehouse into a used car lot. Sellers hungry for profits hunt out every byte of data on prospective consumers so that they can dynamically change prices for each individual consumer, change the look and feel of the website, and even constrain product choice. While some of the ‘tailoring’ can be helpful to consumers, the utility of this kind of deep data collection is quickly extinguished when shoppers begin to face price discrimination and diminished product choice.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.

Blackwater * Mukasey and Torture * LA 8

JEREMY SCAHILL
Scahill is author of the bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. He just wrote the piece “State to Blackwater: Nothing You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You in a Court of Law.”
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MARJORIE COHN
Currently in Washington, D.C., Cohn recently wrote the piece “Michael Mukasey: Another Loyal Bushie.” She is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president of the National Lawyers Guild. She is the author of the new book Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law.
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ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN
Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman wrote the recent piece “Richardson’s Confirmation, a Guide for Mukasey’s.”

She served on the House Judiciary Committee during Nixon’s impeachment and co-authored the 1973 special prosecutor statute. Holtzman co-wrote (with Cynthia L. Cooper) the 2006 book The Impeachment of George W. Bush.
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DAVID COLE
Professor at Georgetown University Law Center, Cole is co-author of the recently-released Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror. He said today: “If the United States is to recover from the damage done by the administration’s past dissembling on torture, we need an Attorney General who can say, clearly and unequivocally, that waterboarding is torture. This is elementary to the rest of the world, and until we recognize that, the United States’s reputation as a country that tolerates torture will continue.”

Today, the government is dropping the “LA 8” case in which it has sought for 21 years to deport a group of Palestinians based on secret “evidence.” Cole, a volunteer attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, was a lawyer in the case and wrote “9/11 and the LA 8.”
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MICHEL SHEHADEH
One of the “LA 8,” Shehadeh said today: “I am extremely happy but do have mixed emotions. … The government was wrong for 21 years. They robbed us, and our families, of the best and most productive years of our lives.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.

Fires Expose “Two San Diegos”

JUSTIN AKERS CHACÓN
Chacón is professor of Chicano Studies in San Diego, California, and co-author of No One Is Illegal with Mike Davis. He just wrote the piece “Divided by Fire: Two San Diegos Emerge from the Flames,” which states: “While the Southern California wildfires do not discriminate against peoples and property values, the machinery of preparedness and hands of recovery certainly have. Hundreds of thousands of San Diego’s inhabitants have been excluded, ignored or persecuted during the relief efforts, and will be forced to bear the costs of this systemic failure into the foreseeable future. …

“Around the county, migrant workers have remained or been kept in the fields while surrounding environs have been evacuated. In most cases, the people are simply ignored or factored out of evacuation plans; in others, unscrupulous employers have chosen profits over well-being in the disaster equation.”
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ENRIQUE MORONES
Morones is director of Border Angels and helped lead rescue and relief efforts for immigrants during the fires. He said today: “While people with Mercedes were leaving, migrant workers kept right on picking tomatoes.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.

Assessing Charges on Iranian Nuclear Program

Yesterday when asked whether “there is a clandestine, secret nuclear weapons program right now underway in Iran?” Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said: “We haven’t seen any concrete evidence to that effect” (transcript available).

MUHAMMAD SAHIMI
Sahimi is professor of chemical engineering at the University of Southern California. His articles on the U.S., Iran and Iran’s nuclear program include “The follies of Bush’s Iran policy,” which he co-wrote with Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi.
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CARAH ONG
Ong is Iran Policy Analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation and is writing regularly on the subject.
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MICHAEL VEILUVA
Foundation counsel with the Western States Legal Foundation, which monitors nuclear issues, Veileuva edits the daily Disarmament Activist blog on Iran. He said today: “Last week a wing of the Iranian government was labeled [by the U.S. government] a proliferator, an ambiguous phrase suggesting that Iran is exporting nuclear weapons technology. But there’s no concrete evidence that Iran is engaged in a covert nuclear weapons program. It is by dint of repetition that the Bush administration hopes that its propaganda will be accepted as fact. ElBaradei, as head of IAEA, is the most knowledgeable person to ascertain whether Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle program poses a threat and he has repeatedly said that his agency has uncovered no evidence of diversion of nuclear material.

“Hans Blix — the former head of the UN inspectors in Iraq — has said the same and noted that this situation is similar to the buildup to the Iraq invasion in that the administration is making charges without evidence that contradict what the inspectors are saying.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.

Iran Sanctions: * Terrorism * Diplomacy

Labeling Iranian government groups “terrorist,” the Bush administration Thursday placed a new set of sanctions on Iran.

NOAM CHOMSKY
Available for a very limited number of interviews, Chomsky is author most recently of Interventions. He said today: “When we or our allies and clients carry out terror (or aggression), it’s the justified use of force (for stability, self-defense, etc.). When some official enemy does the same thing, it’s terror (or aggression). It’s independent of the form of government. Nicaragua in the 1980s had an elected government (free election, closely monitored and approved by international observers, etc.), but the U.S. opposed the election and wanted to overthrow the government, so it was supporting or carrying out terrorism; the U.S. had an elected government and was condemned by the World Court, but it was not terrorism. …

“Palestinians have a free elected government (monitored elections, endorsed by international observers, etc.), but they voted ‘the wrong way,’ and the governing party is on the official terrorism list. When the Reaganites decided that Saddam Hussein would be their close friend and ally in 1982, they removed Iraq from the list of states supporting terror (and sent Rumsfeld to firm up deals on supplying aid, including means to develop WMD); there was an empty spot on the list, so they added Cuba, perhaps because U.S.-backed terror against Cuba had peaked in the preceding years. And so it continues, without end.”
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MUHAMMAD SAHIMI
Sahimi is professor of chemical engineering at the University of Southern California. His articles on the U.S., Iran and Iran’s nuclear program include “The follies of Bush’s Iran policy” which he co-wrote, with Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi.

Sahimi said today: “The Iranian leadership is currently badly fractured. It is divided into three groups: the hardliners led by President Ahmadinejad; the conservatives represented by Ali Larijani (Iran’s former chief nuclear negotiator), and the pragmatists, led by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani. The latter two groups favor negotiations, and even temporary suspension of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, if Iran gets some tangible results in return, whereas the hardliners want to go ahead with the enrichment program at full speed. By [the U.S.] giving special designation to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the Quds forces and putting extreme pressure on them, the hardliners will gain the upper hand, because they will point to this as the irrefutable evidence of the U.S. hostility, lack of interest in negotiated solution, and the desire for regime change.”
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CARAH ONG
Ong is Iran Policy Analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation and is writing regularly on the subject. She said today: “One thing that is particularly troubling about this move is that the administration is portraying it as part of a diplomatic effort. Let’s be clear: these moves, as well as increased unilateral sanctions, are punitive measures. The Bush administration has not and is not engaged in any sustained or strategic diplomatic initiative with Iran.”
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GARETH PORTER
Investigative journalist Porter has just written the piece “U.S. Military Ignored Evidence of Iraqi-Made EFPs,” which states: “When the U.S. military command accused the Iranian Quds Force last January of providing the armor-piercing EFPs (explosively formed penetrators) that were killing U.S. troops, it knew that Iraqi machine shops had been producing their own EFPs for years, a review of the historical record of evidence on EFPs in Iraq shows.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.

Perspectives on Iraq, Turkey and Kurds

EDMUND GHAREEB
Professor at American University, Ghareeb is author of several books including The Kurdish Question in Iraq and The Kurdish Nationalist Movement. Ghareeb can assess the strategic interests of the various political operators.
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SUREYA SAYADI, MD
An Iraqi Kurdish doctor and academic now living in the U.S., Sayadi is an activist and closely monitors Kurdish media. She stresses the human impacts of the conflict.
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BEN H. BAGDIKIAN
Professor emeritus and former dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, Bagdikian is most widely known for his book The Media Monopoly. He is also author of Double Vision: Reflections on My Heritage, Life, and Profession, which is in part about his Armenian heritage — Bagdikian’s family survived a massacre in present-day Turkey.

He said today: “The face-off with Turkey over their decades-long fight against their own independence-seeking Kurds, has become a multi-sided dilemma for all parties. Kurds have lived for centuries in the mountains that straddle the Turkish-Iraqi border. In Iraq, the Kurds are among the U.S. Army’s most stable friends, and also occupy the other end of Iraq in its oil rich region. Dilemma No. 1. But Turkey hates the Kurds and hints it might stop cooperating with the U.S. Dilemma No. 2. Turkey needs U.S. help to enter the European Union. Dilemma No. 3. But the U.S. needs the big Turkish airfield to supply Iraq. Dilemma No. 4. Bush has threatened Iran if it does not stop nuclear development and Cheney has raised the threats of military action against Iran. But Iran has oil and is Shiite. Dilemma No. 5. In Iraq various Shiites are our ‘friends.’ But so is Israel a U.S. friend. Dilemma No. 6. If we move militarily against Iran, it has missiles it can send into Israel. Israel could fire back. Dilemmas 7 and 8.

“It is a mess with no way to satisfy all the conflicting problems created when Bush decided he would try to dominate the entire Middle East.”
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VERA BEAUDIN SAEEDPOUR
Available for in-depth interviews, Saeedpour is editor of Kurdish Life and director of the Kurdish Library. She said today: “The notion that the PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] is inaccessible is simply ludicrous. Scores of Western journalists have visited their mountain retreats. …

“Ironic. The PKK is on the State Department’s terrorist list; the U.S. claims it doesn’t ‘talk with terrorists.’ But the U.S. — and Israel — aids and abets the PKK through local Iraqi Kurds. And why? The PKK arm, Pejak, attacks Iran. For services rendered, while the PKK attacks Turkey the administration winks and has kept the Turkish military from retaliating. …

“For giving safe haven to the PKK/Pejak, for doing Washington’s bidding in Baghdad, [Massoud] Barzani and [Jalal] Talabani have been more than amply rewarded. In 2003 the U.S. military facilitated their takeover of ‘security’ in Kirkuk and even in Mosul. Now, under the pretext of fighting al Qaeda, units of the U.S. military have been joining Kurdish fighting units (veiled as members of the ‘Iraqi’ military) in ethnically cleansing ‘contested areas’ of non-Kurds in advance of a referendum that will determine under whose jurisdiction these parts of Diyala and Nineveh provinces will fall.

“Perhaps it all depends on who’s doing the cleansing. In 1992 Armenians in Nagorno Karabagh aided by the Republic of Armenia ethnically cleansed Red Kurdistan, the largest and oldest Kurdish community in the Caucasus — 160,000 Kurds simply disappeared. With few exceptions, Kurds elsewhere said nothing. Kurdish Life did a detailed report on the issue and distributed it to members of Congress, not least Rep. Tom Lantos, Sen. Ted Kennedy and Sen. Joe Biden, all still in office. President Bill Clinton did nothing. Instead, Armenians were rewarded with direct U.S. foreign aid.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.

Global Warming: * Fires * War

THOMAS W. SWETNAM
Co-author of the piece “Warming and Earlier Spring Increase Western U.S. Forest Wildfire Activity” in Science magazine, Swetnam is director of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research and Dendrochronology at the University of Arizona. He said today: “Increasing numbers of large forest fires and total area burned in the western United States are significantly correlated with warming and drying trends. … There is a clear upward trend in the area burned and numbers of large forest fires in the western U.S., especially since the mid-1980s.”

This Sunday, Swetnam was interviewed on “60 Minutes,” where he said: “As the spring is arriving earlier because of warming conditions, the snow on these high mountain areas is melting and running off. So the logs and the branches and the tree needles all can dry out more quickly and have a longer time period to be dry. And so there’s a longer time period and opportunity for fires to start. … We’re dealing with a period of climate, in terms of temperature and humidity and drought, that’s different than anything people have seen in our lifetimes.”

Swetnam’s piece in Science is available online. “60 Minutes” “The Age Of Mega-Fires” segment from Sunday is available on video, and transcript.
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AMY LUERS
California climate manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists, Luers is co-author of the report “Our Changing Climate: Assessing the Risks to California.” She said today: “In terms of the wildfires we’re seeing today, while we can’t attribute these specific events to global warming, these are consistent with a trend of increasing wildfire activity throughout the West that has been linked to climate. …

“The science further suggests that if we do not make dramatic cuts in our emissions of global warming pollution, the wildfires throughout the West could lead to dramatic changes in the western landscapes.”
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TED GLICK
Glick was one of the organizers of Monday’s “No War, No Warming” protest at the U.S. Capitol Building, where he and over 60 others were arrested for civil disobedience. He is coordinator of the U.S. Climate Emergency Council and is on the 50th day of a “Climate Emergency Fast.” He said today: “The Iraq war is a war for oil. We get the oil, we burn the oil, we heat up the earth. We aggravate and make worse conditions of life for people all over the world as global warming has its impacts: droughts, floods, sea level rises; that’s going to lead to more and more climate refugees, going to increase conflict, going to lead to more war. It is a vicious cycle.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.

Analysis of More Money for War

CNN reports this afternoon: “The Bush administration on Monday requested an additional $42.3 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing the 2008 request for total war funding to $189.3 billion.”

ANITA DANCS
Dancs is research director of the National Priorities Project. She said today: “If Congress passes this, it would bring the Iraq war total since 2003 to $611 billion — that’s about $5,500 per U.S. household. The Vietnam War total from 1964 to 1973 was $673 billion in constant 2007 dollars.

“If Congress passes this request, we will be spending on the Iraq war this year enough to provide health care coverage for all uninsured Americans.”
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ERIK LEAVER
Leaver is a research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. He said today: “Threatening vetoes against all of the spending bills out of Congress for their lack of ‘fiscal restraint,’ Bush has ignored his own advice by asking for a record amount of money for the Iraq war for 2008. Hitting nearly $200 billion, the highest requested for a single year since the war began, the cost of war in 2008 will dwarf the budgets of every single government department, except for the Department of Defense.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.

“Cancel Debt Fast”

The IMF and World Bank are beginning their Fall meetings in Washington, D.C., later this week.

REV. DAVID DUNCOMBE
Rev. Duncombe, a United Church of Christ minister from Washington State, will end a 40-day fast during a prayer breakfast on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Rev. Duncombe, who is 79, will be joined by several members of Congress who will break their own one-day fasts. This is part of a “Cancel Debt Fast” campaign organized by the Jubilee USA Network to address the ill effects of poor countries being forced to spend limited resources paying off past debt.

During his 40 days of fasting, Rev. Duncombe made 200 visits to Senators’ and Representatives’ Hill offices. He said today: “Most people who work on Capitol Hill never meet a starving person. I don’t think risking your life is a bad thing if there’s a good chance you can save someone else’s.”
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GIVEN LUBINDA
A member of the Zambian parliament currently visiting Washington, Lubinda said today: “We must break the yoke of the IMF and World Bank around the necks of the poor, who suffer under an unjust burden of unpayable debt. Together, we as parliamentarians around the globe must work towards responsible lending and responsible borrowing.”

NEIL WATKINS
National coordinator of the Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of 80 faith-based, human rights, and development groups, Watkins said today: “Even after the debt relief provided to date, the world’s impoverished nations still spend $100 million a day to service unjust debts.

“We welcome legislation just introduced in the Senate, which would expand the promise of debt cancellation to more countries that need it to fight poverty. The bill also gets at some of the problems with the current World Bank and IMF debt relief initiative by cutting out economic policy conditions which hurt the poor and by taking action against unscrupulous vulture funds.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.

UAW Strike & Chrysler Private Equity Firm

CHRIS KUTALIK
TIFFANY TEN EYCK
Chris Kutalik is editor of Labor Notes, based in Detroit Michigan. Tiffany Ten Eyck is a correspondent for the magazine. They co-wrote the piece “Jobs, Wages, Health Care, Pensions — All in Jeopardy as Chrysler Is Sold to Private Firm” shortly after Daimler-Chrysler agreed to sell Chrysler to the buyout firm Cerberus Capital Management in May.
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SUSAN HELPER
Professor of regional economic development at Case Western University in Ohio, Helper focuses on the auto industry. An interview with Helper titled “Starting on the Shop Floor: The U.S. Auto Industry Shakeup” is the feature story in the new issue of Dollars & Sense magazine.
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DEAN BAKER
Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Baker said today: “It is interesting that the members of the United Auto Workers working for Chrysler find themselves on strike against Cerebus, a private equity fund, the day after the Washington Post reported that the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had abandoned efforts to take back the special tax breaks enjoyed by private equity funds. While auto workers pay a 25 percent tax rate on their wages, the managers of the private equity fund will pay just a 15 percent tax rate on most of their compensation. If the lobbyists for the equity funds could arrange the same tax break for the UAW members, they probably would agree to immediately end their strike.”

See Tuesday Washington Post front-page story: “Buyout Firms to Avoid a Tax Hike: Reid Passes Word Senate Won’t Act.”
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NELSON LICHTENSTEIN
Professor of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Lichtenstein is editor of Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First Century Capitalism and other books on politics and labor. He said today: “The private equity firm that now owns Chrysler is a wild card; they bought the company for a song. They don’t seem to have any long-term perspective on this; they’re not car guys.

“This comes in the context of the UAW having been unable to unionize Toyota and Honda plants in the U.S., so the union’s fate is now linked far too closely to the dwindling set of companies like GM and Chrysler, where it holds collective bargaining relationships.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.