Triumph of Astroturfing


eSkeptic newsletter has a fascinating story about how a Canadian law designed to force health supplement companies to correctly label their goods or face serious fines has come under fierce attack from a faux consumer watchdog campaign mostly orchestrated via Facebook and an apparent consumer watchdog website,

The whole thing a sham run by one of the threatened supplement companies.

“The website is slick, professional, and profoundly misleading. It presents screamingly hyperbolic misinformation under the guise of an urgent democratic appeal to Canadian citizens. “CALL TO ACTION” read the homepage headline over a lovely graphic of the Canadian flag. “YOUR FREEDOM AND HEALTH IS AT RISK!”9

What risk, exactly? The site urges us to “send our fact sheet to everyone you know.” According to the fact sheet, “Bill C-51 will … remove 70% of Natural Health Products from Canadians” and worse, “Punish Canadians with little or no opportunity for protection or recourse for simply speaking about or giving a natural product without the approval of government.” If you “give another person an ‘unapproved’ amount of garlic” this will “warrant action.” What sort of action? According to, “Inspectors will enter private property without a warrant … take your property at their discretion” and even “seize your bank accounts.

This is implausible on the face of it, of course. The idea that the Canadian federal government has the authority, inclination or even the manpower to storm the homes and seize the bank accounts of everyday folks for using garlic or vitamins is patently ridiculous. Federal authorities can’t even control the flow of marijuana, let alone police the herbs in your garden. (These claims distort C-51’s worst-case-scenario provisions for supplement manufacturers who flagrantly ignore the Food and Drugs Act: for example, Health Canada may impound drugs found to be counterfeit, adulterated, or poisonous.)

Nevertheless, many people who read these allegations were prompted into action. Which was the idea. Organizing protest rallies and urging Canadians to write and phone their MPs in complaint, the campaign spread the word through the web and through mass emails. The conspiratorial International Advocates for Health Freedom mailing list noted with approval that over 18 million emails had been sent to “dietary supplement consumers, supplement company CEOs, health food store owners, Naturopaths, Chiropractors, and other Alternative Practitioners triggering massive traffic to [sic]. So many people have been accessing the site that at times it won’t open and at other times the images on the site can’t be seen due to the effects of the traffic.”

So who is behind it all?

But who was behind it all? Nothing at disclosed the authors of the site, nor did the site provide a contact address for the site’s administrators.12 This coy façade was evidently good enough for many anti-C-51 activists, who promoted the url and the claims from the site without probing the heavily biased source.

But, it was a pretty thin facade: the 1-888 contact number for rally organizing13 is actually the phone number for a controversial online supplement company called Truehope Nutritional Support Ltd. (also called the Synergy Group of Canada Inc — both entities share the same directors and are involved in selling the same product14 ). In fact, the rally information number even spells “1-888-TRUEHOP.”

I sent formal requests to both Truehope and Truehope’s CEO asking for clarification of the relationship between Truehope and I received no reply, but I was still able to further confirm the connection: the domain was registered by one Ian Stewart, who remains the Administrative Contact for the site.15,16 Mr. Stewart is the “the director of regulatory affairs for Truehope.” His mailing address, listed with the domain registration, is Truehope’s P.O. Box.18,19

The primary organizer for the anti-C-51 campaign was revealed to be a vested commercial interest — a vested interest with a very shadowy history.

[From eSkeptic: May 28th, 2008]


Bruce Lee’s Top 7 Fundamentals for Getting Your Life in Shape

Superb post from Positivity Blog on the Wisdom Of Bruce Lee. Sake sure you see the full post for links to resources and discussion. Here is a summary:

1. What are you really thinking about today? – “As you think, so shall you become.”

2. Simplify. – “It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” and “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

3. Learn about yourself in interactions. – “To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person.”

4. Do not divide. – “Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.”

5. Avoid a dependency on validation from others. – “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” and “Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory.”

6. Be proactive. – “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

7. Be you. – “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

Bruce Lee’s Top 7 Fundamentals for Getting Your Life in Shape

A Confusion of Tongues by Theodore Dalrymple

The ever superb Theodore Dalrymple expounds on “Why Britain struggles to assimilate immigrants”. He controversially argues that despite the recent riots, France has done a better job of integration:

Living in two countries, France and Britain, I have found it instructive to compare how each has gone about welcoming (if that is the word I seek) these immigrants. Each has gotten one thing right and one thing wrong: but the French situation, for all the urban violence that broke out in 2005 among the Muslim “youth,” is easier, at least in theory, to put right.

France has the easier task, perhaps, because it is an ideological, or at least a philosophical, state, while Britain is an organic one. The French state, unlike the ancient country it rules, is a new, reborn state. It has a foundation myth, that of the French Revolution, which ushered in the age of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. It doesn’t matter whether France has ever achieved any of those desiderata in practice (what political ideal ever has been achieved, at least unequivocally?), or that the storming of the Bastille was in reality more sordid than glorious. The terms “republican equality” and “republican elitism” (the second, the achievement of status by means of effort and talent, an outgrowth of the first) do in fact mean something, and they exert a magnetic pull on almost every mind with which they come into contact. And the exaltation of this myth, which supposed that Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity were every man’s birthright andthat France was a beacon shining the light of reason to the whole world, has meant that (in theory) everyone who makes France his home becomes a Frenchman tout court—not an Armenian Frenchman or a Malian one, but just a Frenchman.

This myth has actually guided French cultural policy. That France, as a result of the Revolution, has for a long time been a secular state de jure, rather than merely de facto, as is Britain (where religious tolerance is an outgrowth of custom, not law), enabled it to abolish headscarves in the public schools without incurring the odium of anti-Muslim bigotry. The ban simply accorded with the state’s secular founding philosophy. Multiculturalism, that is, is not compatible with the founding Enlightenment mythology of France; assimilation, not integration, is the goal. Everyone learns the same history in France; and nos ancêtres les gaulois comes to express not a biological but a cultural truth—and an easy-to-understand one, at that.

he goes on to address that scourge, the Race Lobby:

In Britain, multiculturalism became a career opportunity and a source of political patronage. So-called experts on cultural sensitivity and equal opportunity—generally people whose ambitions far exceeded their talent, except for bureaucratic intrigue—built little empires, whose continued existence depended on the permanence of racial and other divisions in society.

Read on: A Confusion of Tongues by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal Spring 2008

The Giant Pool of Money

Ever wondered what all this fuss was about “Sub-prime” mortgages, “Credit Crisis”, “Housing Crisis” and dire threats of global financial meltdown?

Wonder no more.

The amazing “This American Life” has a superb program that really explains it in a very easy to understand way.

Hague won’t investigate war crimes against Serbs…

….but promise to keep pursuing Serb suspects indefinitely.

Hague won’t investigate KLA organ trade allegations

THE HAGUE — The UN war crimes court in The Hague says it will not open an investigation into the alleged organ harvesting of the Kosovo Serb victims.
Spokeswoman Olga Kavran said Saturday that the Prosecutor’s Office has received several requests regarding the case, and that it would provide all the information it has, but that the exit strategy for the Tribunal prohibits it from conducting new investigations.

Well that is handy. Now the full truth about crimes AGAINST Serbs is finally emerging, and the Hague has closed its doors on new cases.

But wait, what is this? Has the Hague changed its mind?

All fugitives to be brought to justice

LJUBLJANA — Hague Tribunal President Fausto Pocar says the court must not stop its work until all the war crimes fugitives have been brought to justice.

Great! Oh wait, its  not War Criminals are all. It is only Serb fugitives they are interested in..

"Radovan Karadžić, Ratko Mladić, Stojan Župljanin and Goran Hadžić must be arrested and tried in the Hague,” said Pocar, who is on an official visit to Bosnia-Hercegovina.

The Hague Tribunal president said that the fact that they were still at large “casts a stain on the commitment of the whole of the international community in implementing justice, when it comes to war crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.”

Speaking in Sarajevo, he said that he would recommend to both the Security Council and the General Assembly that the Tribunal continue its work until all the suspects have been arrested, report Slovenian media."

So the fact that there are still Serbian war criminals at large is "a stain on the commitment of the whole of the international community in implementing justice, when it comes to war crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia" but the refusal to even investigate the disappearance and possible use in Organ Farming of 400 missing non-Albanians in Kosovo is NOT?

Yet another blow against the Hague, which history will come to see as a another grossly biased show trial sharing infamy with the efforts of Mr Stalin and McCarthy. 

I find myself agreeing with Human Rights Watch (HRW)

"Kosovo must come clean on missing Serbs"

NEW YORK — A senior Human Rights Watch (HRW) official has called on Priština to investigate the fate of more than 400 missing non-Albanians in Kosovo.

In this way, Fred Abrahams argues in a commentary carried by BIRN, "it would prove it cared for all its citizens, regardless of ethnicity".

Carla Del Ponte’s book, Abrahams says, with allegations concerning the possible trafficking of prisoners’ organs from a mysterious yellow house near the Albanian town of Burrel, "has led to Serbian officials exaggerating the claims, while officials in Priština and Tirana called them a slanderous lie".

"The accusations and denials obscure a fundamental point. Whether or not it’s proven that a trade in human organs took place, no one denies that about 400 people – most of them Serbs – went missing in Kosovo after the war."

This year Serbs have watched flagrantly guilty Serb killers go free and serious war crimes committed against Serbs ignored by the agency set up to serve justice.

Hague apologists have many excuses – witness programs failed, we cannot go on forever, the rules say we cannot open more investigations.

These excuses mask the fact that the Hague has utterly failed the Serbs.

Who speaks for the deracinated Serb refugees living in poverty, or the abducted girls sold into sexual slavery or those merely killed and left in unmarked graves? Well not the Hague or the EU or the USA.  They are not interested bringing justice to those victims or their families.

So do not be surprised that the people of Serbia hate the Hague as so many do. They are right to call "foul" on the  travesty that is the Hague. One day I hope a proper Truth and Reconciliation  Commission – free of political manipulation and lies – will properly account for what really happened here.

In that account the Serbs might actually get some justice and truth, something they are starved of and desperately need.

Cocoon: Return to Belgrade

Cocoon: Return to Belgrade, originally uploaded by Limbic.

This group of elderly Austrians caused a stir at 25th May Centre in Belgrade. They were apparently the Senior Austrian Rowing team. The sight of their 60 and 70 year old bodies heaving rowing boats had passers-by stopping to gawk.

The title refers to the sequel of the classic 80’s movie Cocoon about old people restored to health and vitality by aliens