(en) Top NEWSPEAK Stories of the Week #74 (fwd)

Lyn and Shawn (linjin@tao.ca)
Mon, 9 Jun 1997 00:41:55 pst

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Mon, 9 Jun 1997 00:11:45 -0700 (PDT) From: MichaelP <papadop@peak.org> Subject: Top NEWSPEAK Stories of the Week #74 (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Sun, 8 Jun 1997 21:25:42 -0700 (PDT) From: Wayne Grytting <wgrytt@animal.blarg.net> To: "Undisclosed.recipients": ; Subject: Top NEWSPEAK Stories of the Week #74

AMERICAN NEWSPEAK. Hoarded at http://www.scn.org/news/newspeak Celebrating cutting edge advances in the exciting field of Doublespeak! Written by Wayne Grytting

How to Avoid Insurance Risks

Not only have Swiss banks come under scrutiny for their role in the Holocaust, but now Europe's biggest insurance company is drawing attention. Allianz AG, parent company to Fireman's Fund Insurance, is being sued in a U.S. District Court in New York for failing to pay on the policies of Holocaust victims before World War II. However, Allianz' defense would appear to be fairly reasonable to modern ears. For example, when Allianz avoided payment to the victims of Kristallnacht, the anti-Jewish pogrom of November 9th, 1938, they did so because the losses were caused by "civic unrest," which wasn't covered in the contract. Totally fair. German magazine Der Spiegal found an internal document that succinctly described their problem in insuring Jewish homes. Allianz disliked covering such homes because, in words destined for the prose annals of the insurance industry, "they often burned down." No further explanation. Allianz later changed its policy on insuring Jewish housing, granting protection to the barracks at Auschwitz and Dachau. (WSJ 6/3)

>From the Tabloid Dept.

A Texas cattle rancher is suing Oprah Winfrey for publicly saying she won't eat hamburgers. In a show airing the facts on Mad Cow disease, Oprah concluded that "It has just stopped me from eating another hamburger." The next day, cattle prices plummeted and cattleman Paul Engler estimates he lost $6.7 million dollars. So he sued (this is America). Now many of you must be thinking the First Amendment must protect anyone who wants to say they won't eat a Big Mac? Wrong. Obviously you haven't read a copy of the False Disparagement of Perishable Food Products Act. This finely crafted piece of legislation, now passed by 13 states, allows any critic of our food industry to be held liable if their statements are not based on "reliable scientific inquiry, facts or data." To be counted as reliable, the facts or data must have been published in a peer reviewed professional journal. Anyone without the right footnotes is open to being sued. Noting how attitudes have changed about the Constitution, Michael Engler, son to the plaintiff, observed that "Maybe the First Amendment isn't carved in stone." And that's our reassuring thought for the day. (WSJ 6/3)

Ad Agency Promotes Ecology

The Leo Burnett Ad Agency was caught distributing a 30 page internal memo recommending that its top client, McDonald's, avoid advertising on shows with homosexual content. The memo suggests setting "parameters so that McDonald's continues to appear in a suitable environment." Fitting into the most suitable environment has meant McDonald's "traditionally avoided homosexual content when possible" because its a "hot topic" for their Bible belt franchise operators. Unfortunately, the memo warns, gay characters "are becoming more difficult to avoid." Isn't that so true? Meanwhile, following criticism from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, another ad executive, David McQuaid, rose up in the pages of Advertising Age to defend the practices of the Leo Burnett agency. "It would seem natural," McQuaid argued, "for an agency to pick the best environment possible for its clients ads." So what's the problem? It's just as natural as TV producers striving on their part to provide the best environments for advertisers. (AA 4/21, 5/17)

Foreign Service Goes Scientific

Our Foreign Service works diligently to assure that only foreigners with proper intentions are issued visas to visit the U.S. To improve their performance, at least one office in Brazil has been using a very scientific coding system that was recently leaked to the press by a disgruntled employee who felt they reflected racial discrimination. Nit-picking aside, here are some of the sociological categories that foreigners fall into. First there's LP for "Looks Poor" and TP for "Talks Poor." Below these categories is LR for "Looks Rough" and TC for "Take Care" (I wouldn't even want to see these types). On the top end is RK for "Rich Kid." Pretty scientific. According to the State Department, these categories are "sensible tools" to weed out potential visa cheaters. U.S. Attorney Sherry Harris argued that even though these categories "may at first glance appear insensitive" there was nothing discriminatory about them. Just because they seem to target poor people who are overwhelmingly black in Brazil doesn't mean discrimination occurs, does it? (Knight-Ridder, 6/8)

Barbie's New Friend

Have you ever had one of those days when everything you do just seems to turn out wrong? Well that's the kind of year Mattel Toys has been having with Barbie. Mattel tried to counter Barbie's stodgy white middle class image by introducing diversity into her world. They even allowed "diverse" workers in China to assemble Barbie and her friends for $1.20 a day. But that didn't satisfy critics. So Mattel developed a wheelchair bound friend for Barbie and everybody applauded. "Share a Smile Becky" was intended by Mattel to help change people's attitudes towards the handicapped. That should have kept the critics happy, but it didn't. No, it seems there was a small glitch. Barbie's world, it was discovered, was not wheelchair accessible. Becky's wheelchair couldn't fit through the doors of Barbie's Dream House or her Malibu House so she couldn't party with Ken. How true to life our toys are today. (Seattle Times 6/7)

NEWSPEAK is posted weekly. You can get on the mailing list by e-mailing to wgrytt@blarg.net and telling why you love Barbie.

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