Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NY book publicist admits she posted shill 5-star Amazon reviews for her clients' books, including my father's recent memoir

Call it Scamazon redux. 

In Spring 2010, a couple of years before her death, my mother's memoir was published. At the time my research caught a Clearwater, Florida press agent posting dozens of glowing 5-star shill reviews on for my mother's book and scores of other authors she represented.

That turned into Scamazon, a three-part story published by the Cincinnati Beacon (Part I, Part II, Part III) that was picked up by other media outlets in the U.S (click here and here) and France (click here).
The Clearwater publicist's Amazon account was deleted and the Public Relations Society of America issued a two-page ethics statement.

Four years later, an unrelated New York publicist representing my father's recently-published memoir just admitted to writing this:

The Amazon profile of "Avid NY Reader" includes 17 other glowing five-star book reviews.

Via Internet searches, I connected Lori Ames, the Long Island publicist representing my father's book, to all of the reviews.

Yesterday I e-mailed her and simply asked if she knew anything about "Avid NY Reader." (I copied Amazon spokeswoman Mary Osako who four years ago dealt with the Clearwater publicist's shill reviews.)

Here's her same-day reply:
From: Lori Ames <>
To: Peter Heimlich <>
Cc: Mary Osako
Subject: Re: media inquiry re: Amazon reviewer "Avid NY Reader"
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2014 15:04:55 -0400


As you have already surmised, I am Avid NY Reader.

In the last 7 years I have posted 20 reviews on Amazon. 17 for books by clients or people I know (which averages out to 2.5 reviews a year; a very small percentage of books to which I have any connection). 3 for books or products I've purchased. I have also purchased thousands of dollars of merchandise through Amazon for my home and my business for which  have not posted reviews.

I have always tried to be responsive and professional regarding your inquiries. If you are going to publicly take me to task for posting a review about your father's book, then you needn't direct any additional queries to my attention.

Hope all is well with you and Karen.


Lori Ames
ThePRFreelancer, Inc.
Facebook: ThePRFreelancer
Twitter: @theprfreelancer

ThePRFreelancer, Inc
141 John Street, Suite 200
Babylon, NY 11702
Here's a screenshot of her bio from a previous job:

I'll ask Amazon to comment and will report the results.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Red Cross circumvents my inquiry to Chicago radio station in order to -- wait for it -- avoid providing potentially lifesaving information to the public


According to the organization's website, "The (American) Red Cross has been the go-to source for more than a century for information, skills and confidence to act in an emergency, at home, in school and in the workplace."

Based on the following, sometimes they're "the don't go-to source."

This starts with my March 14 item, Punk'd by my 94-year-old father, Chicago talk radio host tells listeners to "forget the Red Cross" choking rescue guidelines, about a March 12, 2014 segment on an affiliate station of WGN Chicago.

Here's a clip I stitched together in which my father convinces talk show veteran Jonathon "Johnny B" Brandmeier and his second banana to dump on the American Red Cross because they recommend backblows as an effective treatment for choking.

One fact my father failed to mention? Every leading first aid organization in the world recommends backblows as an effective treatment for choking.

As you can hear, Brandmeier and his banana got peeled.

For a follow-up item, I wanted to know if the show intended to invite a Red Cross representative to respond.

Todd Manley (source)

Look what I received Friday morning:
Mr. Heimlich,

I did not realize you hadn't been copied on a response from the Red Cross on this topic. I will forward that to you. Their spokesperson has indicated there is no need for such an interview. Thanks for your concern.


Todd Manley
VP/Content & Programming
Tribune Radio
Then he sent me this:
From: Don Lauritzen <>
Date: April 11, 2014 at 10:56:17 AM CDT
To: Todd Manley <>;
Cc: Martha Carlos <>
Subject: RE: media inquiry-I don't think you were copied on the response
Mr. Manley:

We’re reaching out to you regarding Peter Heimlich’s recent email.

Mr. Heimlich does not represent the Red Cross and has no affiliation with our organization. We have not requested that a Red Cross representative be invited to appear as a guest.

Our American Red Cross Greater Chicago Region communications team (headed by Martha Carlos, chief communications officer) and our national office want to continue the excellent relationship we have with your organization and provide any support that we can.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Thank you.

Don Lauritzen
Officer, Preparedness and Health and Safety Services Communications

American Red Cross
National Headquarters
431 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
202.303.4775 (p)
202.303.6604 (f)
I never asked Lauritzen or anyone at the Red Cross to get involved.

And give me a stack of bibles on which to place my mitt, I swear I've never represented myself as a representative of his organization.

Unless I'm missing something, here's what this looks like.

1) Without informing me, Lauritzen -- a communications executive at Red Cross national headquarters -- interjected himself and the Red Cross into my media inquiry to WGN.

2) Without being invited by the station, Lauritzen preemptively volunteered that the Red Cross had no interest in any potential opportunity to provide potentially lifesaving first aid information (and to promote his organization) via one of Chicago's prime media outlets.

3) Todd Manley at Tribune Radio used the Red Cross's lack of interest as a fig leaf to not provide accurate, potentially lifesaving first aid information to his station's audience.

If there's any logic here, it zoomed past me.

How does Lauritzen's action benefit his employer? Isn't that Job One for a communications rep?

And how does Manley's decision benefit his station's listeners? 

Logic aside, the Red Cross and Tribune Radio clearly got what they wanted -- to avoid providing accurate, potentially lifesaving information to the public.

As for me, thanks to Manley forwarding me Lauritzen's e-mail, I got the item you're reading.

It looks like the only losers in this exchange are Tribune Radio's audience.

Oh, screw 'em. If they're interested, let 'em get the information somewhere else.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

American Spectator book reviewer fails to disclose my father donated $8,000 to fund his play

As I reported, yesterday the American Spectator magazine published writer William Tucker's lengthy, glowing review of my father's autobiography, Heimlich's Maneuvers, in which he recommended that my father be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Per my item, Tucker repeated my father's long-debunked lie that the American Friends Service Committee supplied North Vietnam with "tens of thousands" of Heimlich chest valves during the war.

Considerably more serious than getting snookered by a nonagenarian, Tucker's book review in the Arlington, Virginia-based national political magazine failed to disclose that last year my father reportedly donated $8,000 to help take a play he wrote "on a nationwide tour."

Via the April 9, 2013 Rockland County Times of Nanuet, NY:


Today I'll ask an American Spectator editor if this is acceptable policy and will report the results in a future Sidebar item.

UPDATE: According to this bio, William Tucker lives in Piermont, NY. His phone numbers are listed at the end of a 2010 Journal News item about his play.

This item was slightly revised for clarity.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

American Spectator writer repeats my father's long-debunked lies about the U.S. Army and North Vietnam; wants my father to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Perhaps surprisingly, my father's memoir Heimlich's Maneuvers, recently published by Prometheus Books, hasn't been getting many reviews.

But today the American Spectator, a conservative political magazine, published a lengthy, glowing review.

Perhaps more surprising, the reviewer swallowed and repeated a string of my father's lies about the war in Vietnam.

Via The Lifesaving Dr. Heimlich: An underappreciated American hero and pioneer by William Tucker:
(Dr. Heimlich) saved the lives of thousands of soldiers with another invention you probably never heard of -- the Heimlich valve.
...The Heimlich Valve became standard equipment in every soldier’s pack in Vietnam and saved tens of thousands of lives. Then when Dr. Heimlich visited Vietnam in 1999 he was astonished to find everybody knew his name. It turned out the Quakers had supplied North Vietnam with Heimlich Valves and it had saved thousands on that side as well. It was the most emotional experience of his life.


Judging by the above bio, I'm surprised that a veteran reporter would fall for the absurd claim that the valve was carried by every soldier who fought in Vietnam.

That nonsense and my father's false claim that the Heimlich valve saved the lives of "tens of thousands" of American soldiers were debunked in this published correction I generated after the broadcast of an error-ridden 2009 Voice of America story, Dr. Henry Heimlich, Medical Innovator:

Finally, per my recent item, My letter today requesting Prometheus Books to retract my father's "gross distortion of Vietnamese and U.S. history," my father's bizarre claim that the Quakers (the American Friends Services Committee) supplied Heimlich Chest Drain Valves to North Vietnam was thoroughly debunked in Radar Magazine eight years ago.


Presumably a flag-waving magazine like the American Spectator and Mr. Tucker are interested in accurately representing U.S. military history, so I'm sending them this item and inviting them to comment for a follow-up.

Finally, also from the review:
The good doctor is now 94 and living in an assisted facility in Cincinnati....Heimlich ends his book with this sentence: "I'm not done yet."

Nor should America be done with honoring this peerless pioneer. I suggest President Obama make plans right now for awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It’s hard to think of anyone who deserves it more.
For starters, how about someone who doesn't make up self-aggrandizing lies about U.S. and Vietnamese history?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Crying Game: My compilation of weepy TED lecturers [UPDATE: My video's gone viral!]

Order of appearance
Jean Carruthers MD
John Doerr
Amy Cuddy
Peter Attia MD
Amy Purdy
David Blaine
Tan Le
Jessica Jackley
Neha Sangwan MD

4/3/14 UPDATE: Just days after posting, my video has gone viral!

Take a look at this screenshot I just made:

I just want to take a moment to share a heartfelt "thank you" to the dozens of viewers who made this happen. I love you guys!

To the few people out there who have yet to watch, PLEASE keep this momentum going. With your support, it's only a matter of time before we pass "100 views"!

Monday, March 31, 2014

My letter today requesting Prometheus Books to retract my father's "gross distortion of Vietnamese and U.S. history"

Prometheus Books executives: Steven Mitchell, the late Dr. Paul Kurtz, Lynette Nisbet, Jonathan Kurtz (2002)

Also see my item last month, Prometheus Books publishes my father's long-debunked lie that the American Friends Service Committee provided "tens of thousands" of Heimlich chest valves to the North Vietnamese during the war.

March 31, 2014

Jonathan Kurtz
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228

Dear Mr. Kurtz:

This is to respectfully request a retraction of the following false information in Heimlich’s Maneuvers: My Seventy Years of Lifesaving Innovation, my father's memoir which your company published last month:
I remember another incident in which I was overcome with emotion. It occurred in February 1993, when I was invited to accompany a team of twenty cardiac and thoracic surgeons to Vietnam, a trip arranged by the citizen ambassadors of People to People International...In Hanoi, our plane was met by a contingent of North Vietnamese cardiac and thoracic surgeons. The head of the Vietnamese delegation introduced each member of our team until he came to me.

“Dr. Heimlich, you need no introduction,” I remember him saying. “Everyone in Vietnam knows your name.” I assumed he was talking about the Heimlich Maneuver, but, in fact, he was referring to the chest drain valve. “Your valve has saved tens of thousands of our people during the war, both civilian and military,” he said. I never knew the North Vietnamese had used the valve during the war. It had been supplied to them by the Quaker organization American Friends Service Committee. The next morning, at a meeting of American and Vietnamese doctors, the chairman opened his session saying, “Dr. Heimlich will live forever in the hearts of the Vietnamese people.” Hearing his words, I cried openly.
Per a November 2005 expose published by Radar Magazine, the story was debunked over eight years ago:
Next, Peter (Heimlich and his wife Karen Shulman) took aim at a lesser-known invention, the "Heimlich chest drain valve," which was used on the battlefield in Vietnam to save soldiers from dying of a collapsed lung caused by a chest wound. According to Heimlich's press statements the invention saved tens of thousands of lives, including among the North Vietnamese, after the American Friends Service Committee shipped valves to both sides in the war. Henry often tells the story of a trip to Vietnam during which he received a hero's welcome because of his valve.

But the Quakers have no record of distributing the valve. Peter contacted the American Friends Service Committee, the Quaker group that provides aid in foreign conflicts. "They checked deep in the archives and contacted several staffers from the '60s," says Peter. "No one had even heard of the Heimlich valve." AFSC spokeswoman Janis Shields says that if the valves had been shipped to North Vietnam, there would have been documents. The AFSC's shipments to North Vietnam consisted primarily of penicillin.
In addition to grossly distorting Vietnamese and U.S. history, my father's false claim suggests that the American Friends Service Committee and Becton, Dickinson and Company (the company that manufactures the Heimlich Chest Drain Valve) may have violated laws governing the transfer of medical supplies during wartime.

It's unclear how your editors failed to catch such an obvious falsehood, but in recent weeks I've made best efforts to address the matter.

In a February 16, 2014 e-mail and multiple follow-ups, I asked my father's publicist, Lori Ames, if my father intended to retract the false claim. He has not done so.

Therefore, in a March 10, 2014 e-mail and a follow-up I asked your company's Senior Publicist, Lisa Michalski, if your company intends to address the matter.

I haven't received a reply, hence this outreach to you.

I'm hopeful that you share my interest in correcting the record. With that in mind, I look forward to your reply.

If you have any questions or require additional information, please don't hesitate to get in touch.


Peter M. Heimlich
(Street address redacted)
Duluth, GA 30096

ph: (208)474-7283


The Hon. Nguyen Quoc Cuong, Ambassador, The Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the United States
The Hon. David B. Shear, U.S. Ambassador to The Socialist Republic of Vietnam
The Hon. Rob Woodall, U.S. House of Representatives (GA-7th District)
Alexis Moore, Media Director, American Friends Service Committee (Philadelphia, PA)
Alyssa Zeff, Director, Becton, Dickinson and Company Worldwide Public Relations (Franklin Lakes, NJ)

Click here to view my letter via Scribd. Click here to download a copy.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

How Neal Barnard MD of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) "stays fueled"


Food photos and text below from Food Diaries: How George Washington University’s Dr. Neal Barnard Eats for a Day The plant-based-food advocate shows how he stays fueled for a busy schedule of teaching and research.

Breakfast: “Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I usually top oatmeal with fresh fruit and spices. Today it’s sliced strawberries, a banana, and a dash of cinnamon."

Lunch: “Today’s lunch is my favorite meal: a bean burrito. I brought a green salad—kale, tomatoes, and cucumbers—from home."

Dinner: “My dinner rule is to combine greens, beans, and grains. Tonight the entrĂ©e is Hoppin’ John salad with steamed bok choy and sliced tomatoes. The salad is a mixture of black-eyed peas, brown rice, green onions, celery, tomatoes, fresh parsley, lemon juice, and garlic cloves."