Thursday, April 24, 2014

UK stupid press tricks? Three separate "dogs rescue their masters from choking" stories in the past four months

Click the dates above each screenshot to read the stories.


The third story doesn't include the date of the reported event or where the woman lives -- no city or even country -- so this morning I e-mailed those questions to Daily Star editors.

Full disclosure so no one gets barking mad at me, I jumped in on the second story here and here.

UPDATE: A version of the third story via the Daily Express managed to include the location of the tale:

Did Paul Vallas, now running for IL Lt. Governor, fabricate bogus numbers for the Save-A-Life Foundation, the tainted nonprofit now under investigation by the IL Attorney General for "the possible misappropriation" of $9m in fed/state funds??


Paul Vallas -- now running for Lt. Governor of Illinois -- appears to have fabricated claims on behalf of a now-defunct nonprofit that since November 2006 has been the subject of dozens of media exposes all over the country.

SALF went belly-up in 2009, but reportedly has been under investigation by the Illinois Attorney General since 2010.

Via Illinois senator seeks answers on possible $9 million misappropriation -- Lawmaker says the state attorney general's office is not responding to his requests for updates on the investigation into a nonprofit's activities by Erin Murphy, Dubuque Telegraph Herald, June 26, 2013:
Since its establishment in 1993, the (nonprofit Save-A-Life Foundation) pledged to teach school children first aid and emergency response practices. Despite receiving nearly $9 million to fund the program, however, very few records of students being taught have been found.
Via the Chicago Tribune:
(Carol) Spizzirri launched a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching children emergency response techniques, raising at least $8.6 million in federal and state grants for her Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF)...(Spizzirri) estimates 2 million children took the classes, many of them from the Chicago Public Schools.
However, in response to a federal court subpoena (submitted by my attorney during the course of a failed nuisance lawsuit filed by SALF against me and two others) and my multiple FOIA requests, the Chicago Public Schools cannot produce a single training record.

Since the fur started flying

Since November 2006, SALF and Spizzirri have been the subject of dozens of media exposes. Via Where Did the Save-A-Life Money Go by Don Bauder, San Diego Reader that revealed her to be a serial fabricator, a twice-convicted shoplifter, and the subject of abuse allegations

In 1997 I brought SALF to the children of the Chicago Public School system to teach Life Supporting First Aid, CPR and the Heimlich maneuver and the results were positive beyond expectations. I look forward to working with you and SALF to bring this empowering program to the Commonwealth and I am happy to assist in any way I can." - Paul G. Vallas, CEO, Philadelphia Schools, August 12, 2003 (source)

Vallas's PSA for SALF claiming "the Save-A-Life Foundation has trained over 400,000 Illinois children and adults in the lifesaving skills of first aid, CPR, and the Heimlich maneuver and they can train you."

Your organization is an excellent example of how involvement in education can truly make a difference. Our students and teachers have been and will continue to be the recipients of the benefits of that involvement which includes exposure to new technology and AED training. On behalf of the students and teachers of the Chicago Public Schools, and the people whose lives they may help to save, I again thank you. We look forward to continuing this exceptional partnership. PS I love receiving all the thank you letters from children SALF trains. - Paul G. Vallas, CEO, Chicago Public Schools (source) 

Paul Vallas's approval of Save-A-Life program touted to Philadelphia Schools by SALF, four months after ABC7 Chicago exposed SALF frauds (page down); note bogus training claims.
Paul Vallas approval of Save-A-Life touted to Philly by SALF, bogus training numbers, 3/16/07

Paul Vallas, Gery Chico sign 1999 resolution with dubious Save-A-Life Foundation training claims

(7:35) Gery Chico: "How many schools have you said that you've been in with this program?"
Carol J. Spizzirri: "I think we've been in a dozen we've completed."
Chico: "What's it cost?"
Spizzirri: "It's at 75 cents a child. Except it's a dollar for the instructor." 

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 (now-defunct) Cincinnati Beacon (Part I, Part II, Part III) that was picked up by other media outlets in the US (click here, 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"!