Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"Fanatical animal rights group" partners with the city of Little Rock, Arkansas Department of Health, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to promote veganism -- and I need an Arkansan to help me with FOIA requests!

PCRM founder/president Neal Barnard MD, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, Christie Beck MD and her husband Jason Beck MD (source)

Via A Tiff with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a September 21, 2011 blog item by chemist and junk science debunker Joe "Dr. Joe" Schwarcz PhD, Director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society:
I consider PCRM to be a fanatical animal rights group with a clear cut agenda of promoting a vegan lifestyle and eliminating all animal experimentation.
Via Project promotes 21-day vegan diet by Bobby Ampezzan in yesterday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
This is the first in a series of articles about Kickstart Your Health Little Rock, a campaign to encourage residents to adopt a plant-based diet. Developed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the program is endorsed by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the Arkansas Department of Health, Baptist Health Medical Center and the city of Little Rock.
Here's more from the article (which is behind a subscription paywall):
(Dr. Neal) Barnard, founding president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, flew in to help (Chrissie Beck MD and her husband Jason Beck MD) and others, including the mayor’s office, generate some momentum for a campaign to encourage city residents to take a stab at veganism....

...(Dr. Chrissie Beck:) “I think it [meat eating] is going to be more like tobacco. Where we look back and go, ‘Remember when we thought maybe tobacco was bad, but all the companies were telling us it was OK...?...I hope we can look back and say, ‘I can’t believe we ever questioned whether or not it was safe to give kids hot dogs in schools.'”
For some photos of the kind of meal plan that Mayor Stodola and the rest have in mind for Arkansans, don't miss How George Washington University’s Dr. Neal Barnard Eats for a Day by Melissa Romero, The Washingtonian, March 25, 2014. 

For example, here's what the gaunt Dr. Barnard calls his "favorite meal," a bean burrito with leafy green salad:


For my page about PCRM's 30-year relationship with my father; how the organizations turns a blind eye to the Heimlich Institute's notorious experiments in which patients suffering from cancer, Lyme disease, and AIDS were infected with malaria; and the reckless recommendation by Dr. Barnard -- whose background is in psychiatry -- that the Heimlich maneuver should be used to resuscitate drowning victims, click here.

Calling all Sidebar readers! I need some help so I can report more about this.

I've filed public records requests with the city of Little Rock, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and the Arkansas Department of Health, but under Arkansas's FOIA law, agencies are only required to respond to state residents, and at least one two of my requests has have already been rejected.

If there are any readers with Arkansas addresses who are willing to file requests, please e-mail me.


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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Are PBS's Editorial Standards voluntary or compulsory? The answer may hinge on Halle Berry's "Heimlich denial"

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In a June 16 story published on the PBS NewsHour's website, Howard Markel MD, a prominent professor of medical history at the University of Michigan, claimed Hollywood star Halle Berry was saved from choking by the Heimlich maneuver.

But in an August 14 Hollywood Reporter article, Ms. Berry denied the claim.

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So on August 20, I e-mailed a corrections request to the NewsHour's managing editor, Judy Woodruff.

My request also asked Ms. Woodruff to address other factual errors in Dr. Markel's story and to review the reporting and editing of his article. (Details via see my August 21 item, What do a prominent medical historian/author, the PBS ombudsman, and actress Halle Berry have in common? My NewsHour corrections request saga!)

Despite multiple courtesy follow-up e-mails (to which I received confirmations of receipt from Ms. Woodruff) and a couple of voice messages I left for her assistant, I've never received a reply to my inquiry.

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Via PBS's published Editorial Standards and Policies, here's where this gets interesting:
The honesty and integrity of informational content depends heavily upon its factual accuracy. Every effort must be made to assure that content is presented accurately and in context. Programs, Digital Content,and other content containing editorials, analysis, commentary, and points of view must be held to the same standards of factual accuracy as news reports. A commitment to accuracy and transparency requires the correction of inaccuracies and errors in a public and visible manner. These principles also require that PBS, Stations and Producers actively respond to feedback and questions from audiences.
Nice words, but are they voluntary or compulsory?

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Last week I e-mailed that question to PBS's media relations department and got this response from Jan McNamara, Sr. Director and Sr. Strategist of Corporate Communications at the network:
Can you provide some context for your question?
I'm not sure why context matters, but I appreciated her reply, so I sent Ms. McNamara the detailed e-mail embedded below. (Click here to download a copy.)

Here's what I asked.
Are PBS's Editorial Standards and Policies voluntary or compulsory for PBS employees?

If they're compulsory, what's the name and job title of the employee responsible for enforcing them?

If they're voluntary, this is to request that PBS publish that information in the guidelines and on the network's website.
As I wrote to Ms. McNamara, I take this matter seriously, so I copied PBS Board chairman Donald A. Baer, PBS President/CEO Paula A. Kerger, and, because PBS receives tax dollars -- about $25 million according to the organization's most recent IRS return -- my congressman, Rob Woodall (GA-7th District).