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SLEAZE: Monsanto shill PR firm Ketchum also ran Bush Administration propaganda for the Honduran regime


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(NaturalNews) A New York-based public relations firm that has been engaged in a number of controversies including conducting covert propaganda for the George W. Bush administration and buying scientists to act as shills for bio-agriculture giants has a new government client: Honduras.

TelesurTV.net reports that the Honduran government plans to pay PR firm Ketchum $500,000 over the next year to help improve its image following a multi-million dollar corruption scandal that led to months of popular protests in which tens of thousands were calling for the president's resignation.

The TV network reported that Ketchum will be responsible for providing crisis management and public relations services aimed at boosting President Juan Hernandez's sister, Hilda Hernandez, who is currently serving as the country's minister of strategic communications.

The network reported that Hernandez's National Party allegedly siphoned some $90 million out of a total of $200 million that was embezzled from the Honduran social security institute in order to help fund the party's 2013 election campaign. The conservative-leaning Hernandez narrowly defeated his left-wing challenger, the wife of former President Manuel Zelaya, who was removed from office in a military coup in 2009.

The network reported that in 2003, the Bush administration paid Ketchum $700,000 to promote the president's "No Child Left Behind" initiative through a series of phony news videos. In addition, the network said, Ketchum also allegedly diverted some $240,000 in taxpayer money to prominent black conservative columnist and talk radio host Armstrong Williams, who went on to relentlessly promote the No Child Left Behind agenda.

Taxpayers paid

As noted by PR Watch, the Department of Education's inspector general released a report late one Friday evening, which is typical, criticizing the payments to Armstrong and intimating they might have been inappropriate.

PR Watch further noted that the winning proposal was from Williams' own public relations firm, the Graham Williams Group (GWG), and was flawed from the outset. Citing the IG's report, the watchdog noted:

The implementation of Williams' outreach program can only be described as a debacle. According to the report, there were no agreed standards to measure the campaign's performance or effectiveness. Nor had the Education Department made any attempt to assess whether the GWG proposal "offered the best value to the Government."

Ketchum was next embroiled in controversy – again, during the Bush administration – when the firm was hired to push the president's Medicare Part D drug prescription program, which one former Reagan and George H. W. Bush administration member estimated would add more than $850 billion to the nation's debt over ten years, citing the 2013 Medicare trustees report. CBO described the PR push over Medicare Part D as "covert propaganda" because Ketchum failed to disclose that its video "news" releases were funded by taxpayers.

The Folta connection

In 2010, the environmental organization Greenpeace filed suit against Dow Chemical client Ketchum for its hiring of former executives at a private security firm who spied on the group from 1998 to 2000. In addition, the Greenpeace suit cited a number of "clandestine and unlawful" actions that included stealing documents and trespassing, all in an effort to learn of the group's efforts to target Dow Chemical and the entire chemical industry.

"What remains unknown is whether Ketchum, which also represents the biotech industry to promote genetically modified organisms, will employ similar tactics against the Honduran public to help give the country's widely unpopular government an image makeover," TelesurTV reported.

Perhaps they will hire more shills, like Dr. Kevin Folta, Ph.D., chairman of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida.

As noted by watchdog group U.S. Right To Know, Folta – despite his denials – has been on the payroll of Monsanto to push the latter's GMO crops and seeds.

"The New York Times just exposed Dr. Folta by publishing emails from the self-proclaimed 'public scientist' to Monsanto reps and the Ketchum PR firm–emails which were all dredged up by the US Right-to-Know campaign (a coalition of 37 US states)–that used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain nearly 200 pages of documented money trails and even instructions for Folta (with his agreements and volunteered suggestions to do so) of EXACTLY what to say, when, where, and how to promote the biotech agenda of deceit and lies," says an entry on Folta at TruthWiki.org.

Sleazy connections

Following his outing by the Times and subsequent follow-ups by Natural News editor Mike Adams [here] and Vani Hari, the "Food Babe" [here], in which they helped connect the sleazy dots between him, the world's biggest GMO producer, and the PR firm most hired by government, Folta launched a tirade of his own, accusing Adams of "violence" and describing Hari as a "terrorist."

Adams noted:

"Natural News now promoting use of Craigslist to incite local violence against me," Folta tweeted today in a bizarre, delusional accusation based solely on whatever weird visions haunt his own twisted mind. The story he cited was merely reposting a humorous Craigslist ad somebody wrote: "Folta of UF was paid by Monsanto to Lie."

Only, as Adams noted, there was nothing threatening or "violent" anywhere in the text.

As for Ketchum, the firm was also once PR king to the Russian government. In fact, independent journalism organization ProPublica reported that Ketchum was responsible for placing an op-ed concerning Western involvement in Syria by none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the 2013 piece entitled "A Plea for Caution from Russia," he argued that a military solution to the Syrian civil war is not possible. Now, less than two years later, Reuters is reporting that Russian troops have been spotted fighting alongside Syrian government forces.

ProPublica further noted:

Several opinion columns praising Russia and published in the last two years on CNBC's web site and the Huffington Post were written by seemingly independent professionals but were placed on behalf of the Russian government by its public-relations firm, Ketchum.

Sources include:

TelesurTV.net

PRWatch.org

Ed.gov

USRTK.org

Economix.Blogs.NYTimes.com

CMS.gov

TruthWiki.org

FoodBabe.com

NaturalNews.com

ProPublica.org

Reuters.com
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