Friday, December 23, 2016

Musings: Faking It

One of the big news stories of 2016 was the proliferation of fake news — and the willingness of people to accept it.

The Guardian even had a piece on what it is and how to spot it — despite having printed fake news itself.

But though social media is often blamed, it isn't the only culprit. Mainstream media in Hawaii and elsewhere contribute to the proliferation of fake news by unquestioningly reprinting press releases and running commentaries without checking facts.

Which is how we got The Garden Island's story about how Kauai Community Correction Center Warden Neal Wagatsuma “was found not liable on Tuesday of sexual humiliation and discrimination.”

To bolster this totally false contention, the article quoted a press release that had Attorney General Doug Chin as saying:

“The jury verdict exonerates Warden Wagatsuma and the state. This warden made efforts to rehabilitate inmates. The jury recognized this and ruled in his favor.”

Bullshit. Total spin. The only question before the jury was whether Carolyn Ritchie was fired from KCCC because she was a whistle blower, or for legitimate reasons. It decided the latter.

The jury made absolutely no ruling on the validity of the kinky, creepy “shame program” invented by Wagatsuma, who has no mental health training. It issued no verdict on whether the “violent films” that Wagatsuma admitted showing inmates were pornographic, or suitable for screening in a prison setting or effective in “discouraging male inmates from committing rape.”

And I'm willing to bet the barn that those trying to whitewash Wagatsuma's reputation provided TGI with the names of inmates willing to sing his praises. The paper has never demonstrated that it has the initiative to dig up such sources on its own.

The release quoted extensively in the article also falsely claims:

The jury’s verdict disposes all of the plaintiff’s claims against the warden and the state.

Uh, except for the class action suit in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is set for oral arguments, and the larger whistle blower case.

The misnamed Hawaii Independent fell linto a similar trap when it relied entirely on a press release from the EPA to “report” on the agency's pesticide complaint against Syngenta. Will Caron dutifully rergugitated the press release without ever noting it was the source of his story.

As a result, Caron repeated details on the physical harm that exposure to chlorpyrifos can cause — without ever noting that none of the field workers actually exhibited or experienced any such symptoms.

Caron failed to report, because he never bothered to contact Syngenta, that the company was in negotiations with EPA on a $1.5 million cash settlement and supplemental environmental programs. When negotiations broke down, the value of the technical violations magically increased from $1.5 million to $4.8 million.

Caron also mistakenly reports that Kauai passed Bill 2491/Ordinance 960 “after a State/County-sponsored Joint Fact Finding (JFF) report did an exhaustive review of existing health and pesticide data.” Wrong. The JFF came out of Ordinance 960.

KHON similarly engaged in false reporting about the complaint, saying that “nearly a dozen workers got sick earlier this year.” In fact, none got sick.

EPA spokesman Dean Higuchi helped perpetuate this fake news by issuing a press release stating that “10 workers were taken to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.” In fact, the complaint itself states the workers were taken to the hospital "for observation." No one was actually treated.

And none of the reports noted that Earthjustice has been meddling in this incident from the state, continually pushing EPA to do more and take a tougher stance. Is it any surprise the EPA, in response to this pressure and string-pulling, is trying to hit Syngenta with one of the biggest fines ever in an ag-related incident?

It's so sad to discover that the EPA, which is supposed to be about protecting human and environmental health, is merely another political pawn.

One of the biggest perpetrators of fake news is Civil Beat, which regularly spins its own stories and engages in wildly lopsided coverage, while also allowing its “community voice” contributors to tell flat-out lies.

The most recent egregious example is the assault on the recent statewide pesticides initiative piece by Ashley Lukens, who runs the Center for Food Safety. As I've previously reported, Pierre Omidyar funds both Civil Beat and CFS, and Civil Beat has run CFS press releases as news.

In her commentary, Lukens falsely claims:

“We also know of the many schoolchildren sickened in various pesticide drift incidents at Waimea Canyon Middle School, including some sent to the emergency room."

In reality, not one school incident in the entire state has been linked to pesticide use by the seed companies or other farms. Instead, they've been caused by homeowner misuse of easily obtained products.

Ashley also falsely claims:

Children who live or go to school near genetically engineered crop test fields operated by the likes of Monsanto and Dow are at high risk of regular exposure to pesticides drifting onto them from spraying operations.

Chronic exposure is the expected outcome when a company sprays pesticides year-round, two of three days, up to 16 times a day, as is done for example by DuPont on Kauai. Exposure is all the more likely under windy conditions (spray drift) and when it’s still and hot (vapor drift). Although spraying is often officially prohibited under such conditions by on-label warnings, there is abundant evidence that it occurs, and occurs frequently, nonetheless.

But there is no evidence of any drift occurring — not even in tests conducted by the activists themselves, not even by the JFF report that Ashley lauds. Nor has there been any indication that spraying occurs when wind conditions prohibit it. So if there's no drift, there's no risk of either acute or chronic exposure.

Indeed, the state announced plans to step up blood monitoring of field workers — those most likely to be exposed to pesticides. Yet Ashley makes no mention of that in asserting the state is failing to protect those most at risk.

Ashley writes:

According to The Economist, DOA officials think that agri-chemical companies apply pesticides in the state “better than anybody ever has.” Then why, one might ask, have children in Waimea been sickened by pesticide drift from neighboring GE test fields?

Except no children in Waimea have been sickened by pesticide drift from neighboring GE fields. 

I challenge Ashley to produce one speck of evidence to back up her claims.

But she won't. Because she can't. There is no drift. There is no sickening. There is no chronic exposure. Which means Ashley is, per usual, making stuff up.

We know that, and Civil Beat should, too, especially since it likes to claim it's an investigative news source.

So why does Civil Beat allow its contributors to perpetuate fake news?

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

After decades of graduating Marketing majors across the country this is what we get.

Anonymous said...

To answer your question, CB does it because they can. Real journalism died many years ago in part due to the demand for the sensational. The newspaper business model was stuck in neutral at a time when it needed to be going 100 mph. What are we left with? An abundance of opinions with some truth sprinkled in for good measure. Heck, some of us even turn to bloggers for insight. Where the heck can a reader go for actual news? Even the NYT has sold out to lax editorial oversight. MSNBC is pathetic and hasn't been newsworthy for some time. I had high hopes for CB when it started but it is nothing more than a blog run by an out-of-touch billionaire. I no longer read it. Good call on the warden story.

Anonymous said...

This goes beyond just bad reporting. What we're witnessing in so-called media coverage today is propaganda, the first rule of which is that if you repeat the lie often enough the public will swallow it.

Anonymous said...

Joan how can you say there is no chronic exposure? Pesticide drift in very small and very large amounts are frequently reported on the west side. When tested the water and air and people show evidence of pesticides. The debate is about amount of exposure not whether or not there is disclosure. Did you hear about the surfer who got dosed with strong pesticide fumes recently off Polihale?

Anonymous said...

Ha ha! Lucky we got joan for real news! And to remind us that the rest is all fake!

Anonymous said...

Meant to say "debate is about amount of exposure not if there is exposure". Everyone will acknowledge there is some albeit mostly small/tiny exposure on a regular basis to people who live and work around farms/agriculture.

Anonymous said...

And the bullshits keeps drifting. Couple surfers got dosed with strong pesticide fumes while surfing at Tunnels. Strong drift wind currents. They went to ER at KVMH since was closest to the source.

Anonymous said...

To 9:35.
So there's a surfer claiming to have been dosed while out surfing? (Really?)
Anything like the Lihue activist who claimed to have been sprayed when no one was spraying?
Or the woman in Mana, who claimed to have been sprayed when the wind was blowing the other way?
If the issue is exposure, you need evidence. There's no evidence.
And we clearly can't trust activists who have consistently, repeatedly, ad nauseum made things up.
They've been crying wolf for the last 10 years, and they wonder why nobody believes them any more.

Anonymous said...

I guess if some attention starved surfer says it's true, it must be.

Anonymous said...

9:35 got evidence or proof, you'll easily win in court, with accusations and lies go see Hooser, big Fern, or Felicia. Round and round the hamster wheel we go. Fricken Haoles!

Anonymous said...

If I smell pesticide for a 10 minute period, my eyes sting and I can taste it. Then it goes away. I report it into a black hole that is our State government. Then what? How do I get the evidence you find so important?

Anonymous said...

you need to get a reality check! No drift, no exposure, no nothing---big f-ing bunch of kaka from someone who says everybody else is doing fake news!

Anonymous said...

You're the one accusing so prove it if you want someone to believe you, seriously, how do you connect your eyes stinging to the seed companies? Funny how only Northshore and Kapaa Haoles get all the symptoms? All Hippie wackos!

Anonymous said...

Funny how the school complaints come from Waimea you racist loser @ 12:13

Anonymous said...

The warden and his prison guards are sick sexual predators that prey on female inmates. Everyone knows why he's single and never married. Weekly trips to Oahu's version of Big island Mayor Kenoi's drinky/prostitution bars. You guys want the truth? Even 100X arrested Randy will tell you that people are having sex at KCCC. You people don't even know half of what's going down at the Wailua pleasure hotel and watching RAPE videos is nothing to what's really going down.

Anonymous said...

Ah racist loser...also don't forget the Waimea lawsuit against Dupont. How many hippies are in that bunch?

Anonymous said...

2:17 they won for dust, rhey proved harm from dust not pesticide harm you dumb hippie. The school incident was investigated and the result was stinkweed, not pesticides, dumb haole. What?

Anonymous said...

Sorry 2:17 but it was only red dirt dust. No pesticides found. but you creeps did a good job of scaring the heck out of little old ladies who claimed they were dying of cancer from it. Great job you fakes!

Anonymous said...

The news has been "fake" since news has been news .....the medium is the message

Anonymous said...

"We'll al know when our disinformation is complete when everything the American public believes is false "William Casey former CIA Director

Anonymous said...

5:04. Actually pesticides were found but Court said he would only consider property damage and not health impacts.

Anonymous said...

And I bet you cook your Portuguese Sausage @4:01 in the plastic to "hold da flavor".

Anonymous said...

You say racist by then you call people hippies? Are you confused?

Anonymous said...

And you believe that cover up story? The kids and Waimea canyon school staff had the same symptoms that the recent employees chemical exposure had. And a ignorant tool like yourself calling haoles dumb is hilarious.

Anonymous said...

And the employees who were exposed were just acting sick.l because they didn't want to work that day. Yeah you dummies

Anonymous said...

The workers who were exposed weren't exhibiting any symptoms.

Anonymous said...

Why was the woman fired? Must have been a bad employee if she couldn't prove she was a whistle blower.

Anonymous said...

8:13. There you guys go making up shit! Fricken hippie haoles! Just like Hooser you guys a bunch of Loosers!

Anonymous said...

6:48pm all headaches and nausea doesn't prove that pesticide exposure was the cause dumbass! Especially when coming from hippies from the northshore who claim it to be so. How can all the westsiders be healthy but the transplants be all sick? Sick in the head! Go back to the mainland all you loosers (Hoosers)!

Anonymous said...

Then why did they keep 3 over night? Hospitals don't admit patients that aren't "exhibiting any symptoms" @7:39 PM
"Most of the workers returned to work the next day and three stayed at the hospital overnight for observation." And if they only took them to hospital for precaution then why did only 10 out of 19 go? If it was Stngentia's idea as a precaution to send them they would have sent all 19. Obviously 9 of them did not feel the need to seek medical attention; however, the other 10 must of had some reason to seek medical attention.

Anonymous said...

"And none of the reports noted that Earthjustice has been meddling in this incident from the state, continually pushing EPA to do more and take a tougher stance. Is it any surprise the EPA, in response to this pressure and string-pulling, is trying to hit Syngenta with one of the biggest fines ever in an ag-related incident?"

So the EPA is susceptible to pressure and string-pulling? Really? Then aren't they also susceptible to it from the multinational billlion dollar chemical companies like Syngenta who have millions to pass around to political campaigns and legislators? In fact, it seems they'd be MORE susceptible to this "pressure and string-pulling" doesn't it?

And what's more fake news than your hilariously biased and bilious screed when everyone but you and Syngenta are evil hypocrites?

Syngenta is not your friend. The Gary Hooser and North Shore of Kauai isn't your enemy, and you probably need to consider counseling.

Anonymous said...

There is an alarming medical situation on the west-side. Kekaha, Pakala, Kaumakani and Kekaha have long been known to have an extraordinary ratio of older folks.
Most have worked the fields their entire life. Sugar.
Now they are forced to still live in the westside.
Recently, and I think it must be from the corn companies, many of these seniors are exhibiting poor health. My Uncle who is 93 was asked to stop driving. He now has to take the bus on his daily treks to Lihue to go bowling.
My Aunties in their 80s and 90s have been experiencing an unidentified "tired feeling"
they still do their yard work and go to exercise at the parks..but they don't feel vigorous.
80 plus years in or by the fields and now all of a sudden they are tired and not their regular selves. It has to be the corn guys.
Big Ag from Sugar and now Corn must be the culprit. My Uncle's friend still drives his old jeep on the beach, he is older than my uncle....This recent rise is "ill health" among these long term westside residents is proof that the Corn companies are doing something to their health and well being.
It isn't fair that a 93 year old isn't allowed to drive. An immediate investigation must be done to find out why the Westside has so many seniors and WHY their health is failing. Pakala camp is especially hard hit....the average age down there is 88 and the mile walk to the post office is getting a little tough.
Something must be done.
80 to 90 years of life in a pesticide dust zone is enough. Let's protect their health and well being. Oh yeah, for you race carders out there....ain't got no hippie Haoles living in the camps. These medical symptoms are all on locals.

Anonymous said...

Yes because you alcoholics and druggies have those symptoms each and every day and some multiple times of the day. You people think that it's normal but have no medical or epidemiology knowledge or experience. Please try to be more informed before your impulses take over rationale.

Anonymous said...

Classic words from a sandbox adult adolescent. That's why weak minded individuals like you are collateral damage waiting to occur at any moment.

Anonymous said...

How do you know the surfer got dosed with pesticide... It could have been fish farts.....

Anonymous said...

6:26. There is no shortage of studies and solid research that shows clearly and unquestionably that people who work with pesticides and/or live in areas where there is high usage of pesticides, have higher rates/incidence of various illnesses. The companies know this and they also know it is almost impossible to pin one persons specific illness in one companies specific use at a specific point in time of a specific pesticide. This is why they get away with harming people and the environment. They shout "where is the evidence" knowing the almost impossible conundrum the victim is in.

Anonymous said...

Wagatsuma showed Looking for Mr Goodbar. It has a heavy handed message about choices that includes the main character being murdered by someone she picked up in a bar but its not porn.

Anonymous said...

He's a very sick man that needs intervention.

Anonymous said...

12:16 there is a huge shortage of facts, evidence, or proof. Without that what do you expect any judge to do? Believe you? Stupid Haole!

Anonymous said...

The sick old man would berate women and verbally force them to tell about being sexually assaulted as children and what they would do for drugs. He's a very disturbed person who has a fetish about rape and women being sexually assaulted. Why would you for women to relive incest, molestation by drug dealing sick family members, then living through that life style as a teenager then an adult? Why? What good does it do to tell every prisoner, sexual predator whether it's a prisoner (drug dealer who solicited sex for drugs), prison guards, and the sick old man who is the warden of this fiasco. You really have to be insane to believe that this is the right way to run a program. How many of them recidere? Many of them were arrested 20,30,40,50,60 and a few 90-100 times. KCCC is a complete failure and needs an overhaul. A thorough investigation like 60 days in jail should be implemented or maybe it already has and that's why lawsuit(s) are being filed. Oahu prison guards were busted for criminal activities and another prison in Hawaii was shut down for prison guards raping inmates. The judicial system in Hawaii needs a total reform with what's going on with HPD chief and his wife a city prosecutor. Their acts are normal for the state and the POHAKU (preferential treatment) program on Kauai was a prime example of public corruption.

Anonymous said...

If you're not 100% native Hawaiian then you're a stupid Haole also Haole.

Bradley Choquette said...

@ 12:16 Over all, farmer have lower instances of cancer and disease. There are a few exceptions to the rule.

"For example, a study from the AHS reported in 2009 that people who use the weed killer imazethapyr have increased risks of bladder cancer and colon cancer. Imazethapyr is in a class of chemicals known as aromatic amines. It was first used in the United States in 1989, and, since then, has been one of the most commonly used herbicides for killing weeds in soybean, dry bean, alfalfa, and other crop fields."

"In addition, a condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), which commonly precedes multiple myeloma, was found in blood samples of men in the AHS at twice the rate it was found in blood samples of men in Minnesota who were not part of the AHS cohort. This increased risk of MGUS was observed among men who used the chlorinated insecticide dieldrin, the fumigant mixture carbon-tetrachloride/carbon disulfide, the fungicide chlorothalonil, and possibly other pesticides. Now, a larger study within the AHS is looking more closely at the risk of MGUS with use of specific pesticides."

In 2011, AHS researchers reported an analysis of farmers who use the weed killer atrazine, which is a type of chemical known as a triazine. In this analysis, farmers who used atrazine the most often had a similar overall cancer risk to those who used atrazine the least often, but those with the highest exposures had a slightly increased risk of thyroid cancer. However, the number of cancer cases was too few for the finding to be considered conclusive.

"Atrazine causes mammary tumors in rats but is not classified as a carcinogen in humans. Atrazine is an endocrine disruptor—meaning that it interferes with normal hormone signals in the body—as demonstrated in amphibians, birds, and rodents that have been exposed to it at high concentrations."

* source: Cancer.gov

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas, Joan & All!

Anonymous said...

Mele kalihi mahu

Anonymous said...

"Many of them were arrested 20,30,40,50,60 and a few 90-100 times." No matter how weird the warden is, he can't be blamed for repeat offenders.

Anonymous said...

8:20, yet isn't that the only real sign of success?

Anonymous said...

Isn't that his rationale for the rape videos and his so called great program?

Anonymous said...

and he didn't often show the whole movies; he only showed the hard core bits.

Anonymous said...

@ 11:05 am

Some surfers were downwind of a whale that farted. Those fumes can be nauseous.