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A new story in AzeriReport describes how a lobbyist for the corrupt government of Azerbaijan used the Huffington Post as a bulletin board. The lobbyist in question is Jason Katz of the Tool Shed Group, which advises the government of Azerbaijan. (This is not the place for a discussion of that country’s horrible human rights record, but if you’re interested consult this State Department report.)
It seems, based on the story, that “the Santa Fe mayor’s office was initially asked to issue a birthday proclamation for the late president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev,” at the request of the Tool Shed Group LLC.
The Tool Shed Group of Jason Katz also provided misleading information to the Mayoral Office of Santa Fe about the role of Heydar Aliyev, stating that he “extricated Azerbaijan from the Soviet Union” and that he was “the first leader of the modern post-Soviet Azerbaijan”.
In reality, Heydar Aliyev was only the third president of post-Soviet Azerbaijan…and by the time Heydar Aliyev came to power in a 1993 coup, Azerbaijan was already an independent country after the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, was formally recognized by the UN and all major world-powers and its territory had long been free from any Russian/ Soviet troops.
As was reported earlier, Santa Fe mayor David Coss issued the proclamation designating May 10 as Heydar Aliyev Day. The mayor’s office later backtracked on its own proclamation by stating that “a proclamation for “Heydar Aliyev” will not be prepared again from the mayor’s office”.
It turns out that back on April 15, Katz had used the Huffington Post to write an idiotic item about Azerbaijan, in which he attacked an Azeri opposition figure who had recently penned an op-ed for the Washington Post.
Katz’s piece, “An Odd Voice from a Noble Land,” is a PR handout — or blow job, to be less polite — for his firm’s client:
I have traveled to Azerbaijan many times and found a progressive, cosmopolitan, open, secular and Western-oriented society. In fact, Azerbaijan is a charming mix of Eastern and Western societies that even makes for an ideal vacation destination…It is none other than President Ilham Aliyev…who has spearheaded the many infrastructure projects in Azerbaijan from social services to industrial agriculture to modern highways and roads to petrochemicals to energy production…all providing the prosperity deserving of a nation as progressive as Azerbaijan.
Does the Huffington Post allow anyone to write for its site? Can any lobbyist use it to produce PR for his or her clients?
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”