Broward public schools seeks to hire a propaganda specialist to “fix” the public, rather than fix the problem

When everything is wrong, hire a propaganda specialist to persuade others that things are great because … propaganda!

The South Florida Sun Sentinel has reported on how Stoneman Douglas under-reported crime on campus, how the school failed to provide adequate special education services to killer Nikolas Cruz; and how a culture of leniency has allowed unruly students to receive countless second chances.

The school district also struggled to defend its controversial PROMISE program, which offers alternatives to arrests for some misdemeanors.

Source: Battling an image problem, Broward schools seeks public relations exec for up to $175,000 a year – Sun Sentinel

In effect, Broward public schools seeks to “fix” the public, rather than fix the underlying problems.

UK government says Facebook’s friend of friends data was accessed from Russia and other countries

Not surprisingly, the leaky data sieve that is Facebook, had its trove of personal data accessed from Russia and other countries (which likely includes the U.S.?):

The now infamous Facebook data set on tens of millions of Americans gathered by a Cambridge University scientist for a firm that went on to worked for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign was accessed from Russia, a British member of parliament tells CNN.

Source: Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook data was accessed from Russia, MP says

As noted in the story, access appears to have been made from many countries. The headline focuses on Russia because that’s a hot bottom media meme right now (lots of accusations without supporting evidence).

The bigger issue remains that Facebook is a global surveillance network that tracks everyone’s online activities and has been buying offline consumer purchasing data to integrate into their own database. Facebook, historically, gave third parties access to this data – including allowing apps to gather data on friends of friends who never gave permission. Facebook has leaked this data like a sieve leaks water. Everything we’ve ever done on FB should be assumed as having been collected by numerous third parties.

Fake News about opioids and the workforce

Powell cited research from Princeton economist Alan Krueger, who conducted a survey and found that 44 percent of men reported that they had taken some form of pain medication the previous day.

Source: Fed’s Powell: Opioids people out of the workforce

Actual study text:

Fully 44 percent of prime age men who were out of the labor force acknowledged taking pain medication on the previous day, although this encompasses a wide range of medications.
Pain medication, per the study, included either prescription or over-the-counter medication, or both.
Since this is about opioids:
Nearly two-thirds of those who took pain medication indicated that they took prescription pain medication
Thus, on any given day, 31 percent of NLF prime age men take pain medication, most likely an opioid-based medication
No data is given to support the “most likely an opiod-based medication” claim.
From 44% of men to 31% of prime age men not-in-the-labor-force.
This chart from the study makes this clear:
Apparently CNBC never read the underlying study, made no attempt to verify the facts or unintentionally or intentionally misconstrued the Fed Chair’s comments. What ever it is, it was terrible reporting.
This “news” works as a propaganda:
  1.  It now appears in a major media outlet which will influence others into believing pain medication is so widespread that 44% of working age men are taking prescription pain medications.
  2.  It uses an “Appeal to Authority” (Fed Chair)
  3.  It uses an “Appeal to Authority” (Princeton economist)
  4.  It uses a “Logical fallacy” (lumping prescription and non-prescription medications together in the top line number of 44%)
  5. It uses “Lies” by leaving out that this refers to men not in the labor force, rather than all men.
There is a wide spread meme sweeping the nation that opioid deaths care caused primarily by abuse of prescription opioid pain medications. Other studies indicate most deaths are due to synthetic, illegally produced and sold drugs on the street and not those prescribed by doctors.
This “news” report by CNBC feeds this propaganda meme.
A separate table (Table 6) presents different data values saying that 57.7% of men aged 25-54 NLF took pain medication yesterday.
According to Table 8, 76.5% of those taking prescription pain medication were part of Medicaid, Medicare or VA/Tricare. About half were on various disability programs (Workmen’s comp, Social Security, VA, Disability insurance).

Fake photo re- purposed for propaganda message, once again

This is getting old – an old photo is re-purposed to pretend it represents something else in a Tweet on Twitter.

The photo was taken from Getty Images, of a protest in Tahrir, Egypt in 2011. It appears in multiple locations online. Has nothing to do with Tommy Robinson or Trump or the UK. Note that the tweet has been liked nearly 10,000 times and shared 7,600 times.

This is a very common technique used in social media propaganda messages – take a photo of something else, at a different date, time and location and pretend its another event. We have posted numerous examples of this on this blog.

Text for Indexing

“This was the Tommy Robinson and Pro-Trump Rally today in London 14th July 2018. The crowd is bigger than the Anti-Trump protest held yesterday. The main stream media won’t talk about it.

Identical letters to the editor published in newspapers nationwide

Source: Newspapers run IDENTICAL letters slamming Trump’s Supreme Court pick | Daily Mail Online

At least one of the signatories to the letter says she never sent the letter and suggests that her name was lifted off a petition.

This was an astro-turf propaganda operation, flooding the world with a message that is made to look like it comes “from the people” (grass roots) when in fact, it was manufactured by an organization or public relations agency working on behalf of an organization.

We covered use of “astroturf” operations in 3 prior posts.

Basically you should assume that 100% of what you see in media or social media (or online forums and review sites!) is fake.

In 2004 the liberal group launched a website tool that generated editorial letters for its members promoting the Michael Moore film ‘Fahrenheit 911.’ All it required was a name, hometown and ZIP code.

The program provided users with sample sentences and a salt-to-taste text editor. Many left the stock message the way it was and clicked ‘send.’

The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s Online Journalism Review reported that the Republican National Committee had the technique down a year earlier.

Using a website called ‘GOP Team Leader,’ the party offered ‘points’– redeemable for merchandise – when their letters were actually published.

One can not make this up


The media is putting The Onion out of business!

Text for Indexing

A tape might exist of Trump doing something in an elevator, though exactly where that somewhere is and what that something might be, no one in media can say. That’s because no one in the media seems to have seen the tape – or is even confident it exists

Russian intelligence may have access to US Facebook user data

A Russian internet company with links to the Kremlin could have had access to the Facebook data of millions of people in the US without their knowledge, CNN has learned.


“What this means is that all data that Facebook users shared through this agreement with Mail.Ru is now available to the Russian intelligence services. All of it. And that is incredibly troubling,” Carpenter said.

Source: Russian company could have accessed Facebook data on millions of Americans, source says

We presume that U.S. intelligence agencies already had access. Of interest, Facebook is building out an enormous data center almost next door to the NSA’s huge Utah Data Center.

Facebook and deny any collection of data. Facebook has, in the past, frequently denied direct and indirect data collection only to reveal later that data was collected by third parties.

Facebook ‘closed’ and private groups were not confidential

Facebook users may choose to belong to private or closed groups. Some joined a private group for people having a gene associated with breast cancer – and likely did not want that information publicly shared.

However, a feature of Facebook enabled Chrome plug-ins to harvest the names of members of closed groups.

“A genetic test result like BRCA is protected by HIPAA [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] and it can’t be shared with marketers, if it is in a medical record. But a social networking site is not covered by HIPAA”

Source: Facebook ‘closed’ groups weren’t as confidential as some thought

The 1996 HIPAA law covered many things, including the privacy of health information. The above shows how marketing firms (and others) strive to discern health information about individuals based on their purchase records, their online group memberships, and online services analyzing our email correspondence. While health care providers and insurers are to adhere to HIPAA privacy rules, once the information is outside these entities, health care information no longer has any protection requirements.

On Monday of this week, Dignity Health of California emailed to me the entire 101 page medical history of one of their patients. Literally, they emailed someone’s entire medical history to a random stranger on the Internet. I have no relationship with Dignity Health.

Searching online I found that HIPAA violations are as common as rain falling in Portland, Oregon. HIPAA seems to be more of a suggestion in terms of how health privacy is abused every day!

Can email scanners steal medical records? Yes

This week, one of the largest health care providers in the State of California emailed to me the entire 101 page medical records of one of their patients. I have no relationship with this health care provider and do not live in California.

  • In 2018, how is it possible that a major health care provider would send protected patient information (PHI) over unsecured email? This boggles the mind.
  • In 2018, how is it possible that a major health care provider is sending PHI to an unverified email address? Mind blown.

By sending someone’s medical records to a random stranger on the Internet (me), this health care provider lost all control of their patient’s medical records.

I informed the provider and I also filed a HIPAA violation complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights, which enforces the HIPAA privacy requirements. (If you know of health care PHI privacy violations, you can file a complaint with the information provided here.)

Because this medical record landed in my GMail Inbox, we know that Google’s artificial intelligence software scanned, analyzed, interpreted and took notes about what was contained in the record.

This health care record has nothing to do with me but what ever is in that record has now likely been incorporated into Google’s dossier on me. The result is that the Google database of what they think they know about each of us becomes more and more inaccurate over time. Since I receive a large quantity of misdirected email, the Google dossier is likely messed up.

Google claims their dossier is not for sale and is used only by the Google Ad network for ad placements. Presumably the ads shown will be shaped by the incorrect information they have collected.

This has interesting implications for privacy.