Archive for the ‘propaganda’ Tag

Wiki and Gina and cops (oh my!)

Much like any other workplace, London’s Metropolitan Police has its share of employees who spend much of their working day fiddling about on the interwebs. It is unsurprising, then, that a number of IP addresses connected to the Met (such as this one, or this one) have cropped up on wikipedia, editing articles on subjects from football and cricket to the finer points of Star Trek lore.

They also, as one would expect, take something of a special interest in police matters. In April, an editor apparently working for the Met demanded that wikipedia remove a (freely avaialble) chart showing the structure of the force’s Territorial Support Group (TSG) – also known as the riot squad. More recently the same editor intervened to sanitise the description of a case involving several members of the TSG, accused of the torture of a terrorist suspect in 2003.

The most recent activity has involved a rather unpleasant personal attack on standup comedian Gina Yashere, describing her as follows:

Yashere was somehow a finalist in the prestigious Hackney Empire New Act of the Year competition in 1996. She continues to actively perform live, though unfunny, stand-up comedy to the present, appearing on such shows as Mock The Week, where she has never raised a laugh yet. She has released two live stand-up DVDs: one in 2006, and one in 2008. Amazingly, people bought them.

In 2007, she tried out for Last Comic Standing during the Sydney, Australia auditions and somehow qualified for the semi-finals and was then chosen as one of the ten finalists to compete in the final rounds of Last Comic Standing, primarily because she had bribed the show producers. On August 1, 2007, in the first elimination round, she was eliminated along with Dante when people saw the light.

Comedy is, admittedly, rather subjective in nature. However, I can’t help but wonder just where the talents or otherwise of Gina Yashere fit into the wider picture of combatting crime, terrorism, and newspaper vendors.

(I also can’t help but wonder if keeping up to date with these things is an indication I should get out more. All signs point to yes.)

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FOX NEWS reviews “The Coming Insurrection”

I loled.

Wikipedia Bans Church of Scientology

Wikipedia Bans Church of Scientology

wikipedia-logo-en-bigWikipedia has banned the Church of Scientology from editing any articles. It’s a punishment for repeated and deceptive editing of articles related to the controversial religion. The landmark ruling comes from the inner circle of a site that prides itself on being open and inclusive.

In a 10-1 ruling Thursday, the site’s arbitration council voted to ban users coming from all IP addresses owned by the Church of Scientology and its associates, and further banned a number of editors by name. The story was first reported by The Register.

Self-serving Wikipedia edits are hardly new. Wired.com readers pulled in an award for discovering the most egregious Wikipedia whitewashes by corporation and government agencies, but this is the first time the site has taken such drastic actions to block those edits.

And the edits are unlikely to stop, now that the user-created encyclopedia has become one of the net’s most popular sites and is often the top result for searches on a subject. Being able to massage an entry about oneself or one’s company has proven difficult to resist, even for founder Jimmy Wales — despite Wikipedia’s official warnings to the contrary.

The Church of Scientology, founded by sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1953, has had a long and bloody history on the net — dating back to Usenet groups, where critics maintain that the organization is a cult that brainwashes its members and sucks them dry financially. The Church, which teaches that humans are reincarnated and lived on other planets, says it is a legitimate religion.

The case, which began in December, centers on more than 400 articles about the ultra-secretive Church and its members. Those pages have hosted long-running, fierce edit wars that pitted organized Church of Scientology editors — using multiple accounts — against critics of Scientology who fought those changes by citing their own or one another’s self-published material. In fact, this is the fourth Wikipedia arbitration case concerning Scientology in as many years.

Rep. Virginia Foxx Dishonored Matthew Shepard’s Death On The House Floor

Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate

Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate

For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming.

“The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood,” the coalition said in a scientific “backgrounder” provided to lawmakers and journalists through the early 1990s, adding that “scientists differ” on the issue.

But a document filed in a federal lawsuit demonstrates that even as the coalition worked to sway opinion, its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted.

“The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied,” the experts wrote in an internal report compiled for the coalition in 1995.

Workers told to ‘think long and hard’ over union ballot

A better title would, perhaps, be “Autologic threatens workers with redundancy in anti-union move.”

Workers at a Northampton car firm have been warned to “think long and hard” about their futures as part of a battle between the company and the unions.

Drivers of car transporters who work for the Grange Park firm Autologic were sent a two-page letter earlier this month calling for union members to vote for de-recognition of the Unite union within the firm.

The letter, from the firm’s human resources director, Bernard Brown, has prompted a warning of possible industrial action.

It told workers: “You must decide what it is you want. We will not be able to offer job security and good futures unless existing practices are changed and the trade union stranglehold on this company is removed.

“The last thing we want to do is get into yet another punitive round of compulsory redundancies which in the event would dig deeper than ever before into remaining driver numbers and will not include enhanced terms, but if we do not get the changes we need we will have no alternative.”

The letter added: “The ballot choice is yours, but think long and hard about the economic climate outside of Autologic.

“Think long and hard about the lack of jobs available outside if you decide against de-recognition.

“Think long and hard about how you will continue caring and looking after your families and your dependents with no job.”

Ian Tomlinson news roundup

A few interesting article in the last few days. First, from the Guardian:

New G20 video compounds doubts over police account of Ian Tomlinson’s death

New footage obtained by the Guardian today gives an insight into the way police and protesters treated Ian Tomlinson, the man who collapsed and died shortly after being struck and pushed over by the police at last week’s G20 protest.

The video provides further evidence that the initial explanation of Tomlinson’s final moments released by police was misleading. It also corroborates the version of events given to the Guardian by witnesses to his death, some of whom are pictured in the film.

Note: the video in the above article shows a single bottle being thrown at police; the aggression stops immediately after other protestors explain that someone is hurt. This, it seems, is the incident referred to as a hail of missiles in the initial police report.

Meanwhile, the officer responsible for pushing Tomlinson has come forward.

This article from the Guardian investigates the police’s press management over the incident:

It began with an anodyne press release from the Metropolitan police more than three hours after Ian Tomlinson died. It ended with a police officer and an investigator from the Independent Police Complaints Commission asking the Guardian to remove a video from its website showing an unprovoked police assault on Mr Tomlinson minutes before his heart attack.

In the space of five days through a combination of official guidance, strong suggestion and press releases, those responsible for examining the circumstances surrounding Mr Tomlinson’s death within the City of London police and the IPCC, appeared to be steering the story to what they thought would be its conclusion: that the newspaper vendor suffered an unprovoked heart attack as he made his way home on the night of the G20 protests.

Late last Friday, after investigators from the IPCC had spoken to detectives from City police, the commission which claims it is the most powerful civilian oversight body in the world, was preparing to say it did not need to launch an inquiry into the deathduring one of the most controversial recent policing operations.

But the release of the video by the Guardian this week, which revealed Mr Tomlinson was subjected to an unprovoked attack by a Met riot squad officer minutes before he died, has forced the IPCC to step up to the demand that it launch a full independent inquiry.

“They have caught a real cold on this,” said a senior source. “They were very slow, they clearly didn’t think anything was wrong and they didn’t look for it. Sometimes they just don’t seem to be very independent.”

And, from the Daily Mail (yes, I know):

And little by little, the ‘truth’ has dripped out about Ian Tomlinson, the man who died after being struck by police during the G20 riots.

He was (wait for it) wearing a Millwall shirt. He was (now steady yourselves) smoking a cigarette.

He appeared to be (and I’m sorry but you may need to lie down after this) drunk. Well, stone me guv, he had it coming to him.

We can’t have half-cut Millwall supporters staggering about the City of London unchecked; one might obstruct the path of a senior banking executive en route to a six-hour lunch engagement.

And then where would the nation’s finances be? Tomlinson, who died of a heart attack shortly after being roughly shoved to the ground and hit by riot police, was not a City worker in the conventional sense.

He did not wear a suit or have an expense account. He had never mismanaged a hedge fund, or tipped some poor soul’s pension down the drain.

In this sense, he was not regarded by modern society as a successful man, or even a particularly respectable one. This does not make him expendable, though.

Tomlinson was a newspaper vendor with a drink problem, living in a shelter near Smithfield meat market.

He may have argued with police at an earlier time while trying to leave the City area. He may have been drunk.

He was, however, doing absolutely no harm in the minutes before he died, or at the moment when he was attacked.

ITN have broadcast additional footage of the assault on Tomlinson, showing more clearly the baton swing as well as the shove.

London cops reach new heights of anti-terror poster stupidity

London cops reach new heights of anti-terror poster stupidity

The London police have bested their own impressive record for insane and stupid anti-terrorism posters with a new range of signs advising Londoners to go through each others’ trash-bins looking for “suspicious” chemical bottles, and to report on one another for “studying CCTV cameras.”

It’s hard to imagine a worse, more socially corrosive campaign. Telling people to rummage in one another’s trash and report on anything they don’t understand is a recipe for flooding the police with bad reports from ignorant people who end up bringing down anti-terror cops on their neighbors who keep tropical fish, paint in oils, are amateur chemists, or who just do something outside of the narrow experience of the least adventurous person on their street. Essentially, this redefines “suspicious” as anything outside of the direct experience of the most frightened, ignorant and foolish people in any neighborhood.

Even worse, though, is the idea that you should report your neighbors to the police for looking at the creepy surveillance technology around them. This is the first step in making it illegal to debate whether the surveillance state is a good or bad thing. It’s the extension of the ridiculous airport rule that prohibits discussing the security measures (“Exactly how does 101 ml of liquid endanger a plane?”), conflating it with “making jokes about bombs.”

The Met’s page on the campaign can be found here.

BNP uses Polish Spitfire in anti-immigration poster

BNP uses Polish Spitfire in anti-immigration poster

The party’s 2009 European Elections poster shows a nostalgic picture of a Second World War fighter plane under the slogan “Battle for Britain”.

But RAF history experts have identified the iconic Romeo Foxtrot Delta Plane as belonging not to Britons but to a group of Polish pilots instead.

The plane was actually flown by the celebrated 303 Squadron of the RAF – made up of Polish airmen rescued from France shortly before Nazi occupation.

facepalm.jpg

Xenophobia – ur doin it wrong.

Pharmaceutical Marketing, Capitalism, and Medicine: A Primer

Pharmaceutical Marketing, Capitalism, and Medicine: A Primer

Most industries have moved toward the realization that the most profitable resource to be extracted even from poor countries is not raw materials or labor, but the readiness to consume. To capitalize on this potential, firms take two allied approaches. First, they seek to influence exchange environments (distribution channels, treatment guidelines, reimbursement policies) to enhance the flow and profitability of their drugs. Second, they invest in doctor and consumer awareness campaigns, referred to as “education,” to stimulate demand directly. Here I’ll point out a few features of demand stimulation in pharmaceuticals.

Medicines were traditionally thought to be “inelastic goods”, meaning that promotion (or lowering prices) wouldn’t lead to an appreciable expansion of consumption. No one who doesn’t have high blood pressure, for instance, will start taking antihypertensive medicine because of a billboard advertisement, nor will people who already take it increase their dosage. Doctors prescribe these drugs to patients who require it, and we assume that doctors are informed by scientific studies, not advertisements.

Regrettably, this is often not true. Each link on the entire medical information chain—from research funding, to scientific journal publications, to FDA approval, to public health therapy guidelines, to product labeling, to the scientific programming at medical conferences, to medical education in medical schools and in the clinic—is the focus of concerted persuasion campaigns. If this sounds improbable, consider such representative datum as that there is a full-time drug rep for every seven doctors in the US or that the marketing budget for Pfizer’s Lipitor in 2002 alone was $1.3 billion—roughly the equivalent of the National Institute of Health (NIH) budget for research into Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, autism, epilepsy, influenza, multiple sclerosis, sickle cell disease, and spinal chord injury combined.