Posts Tagged “investigation”

Stop Sign, via FreeFotoPlease pardon this slight departure from the usual topics of this blog.

I’m sure most of my readers know by now about the Groper-in-Chief’s Twitter tantrum, this past Saturday, over his predecessor having supposedly wiretapped his campaign offices in Trump Tower (WebCite cached article). He hasn’t offered the slightest evidence for this accusation — which is quite serious. He’s had a few days to come up with something … anything! … even remotely supporting his claim, but has refused to do so. In fact, the Apricot Wonder has asked Congress to investigate and find the evidence supporting it (cached).

That’s right, folks. Not only does the GiC have no basis for what he spewed, he knows he doesn’t, and now demands other people somehow find that evidence for him.

Julian Sanchez of the Cato Institute offered a breakdown of how the alt right’s Dear Leader came to make this ridiculous accusation (cached). Among the conclusions of his analysis:

It’s worth noting here that, contra Trump’s claim on Twitter, none of the articles in question claim that phones were tapped. Indeed, it’s not even entirely clear that the order the FISC finally issued in October was a full-blown electronic surveillance warrant requiring a probable cause showing. If the FBI was primarily interested in obtaining financial transaction records, corporate documents, and (depending on both the facts and the FISC’s interpretation of the FISA statute) perhaps even some stored e-mail communications, that information might well have been obtainable pursuant to a §215 “business records” order, which imposes only the much weaker requirement that the records sought be “relevant to an authorized investigation.”

In sum, there’s very little there, and what is there, does not, in fact, support the GiC’s contention. He’s lying, plain and simple. And as I said, he has to know he’s lying.

But take note what happened here. The Apricot Wonder used Twitter as the platform for a big fat honking lie … and as a result, we’re now saddled with a Congressional investigation into wrongdoing which — at the moment — we have no reason to believe ever took place. All because of a Twitter fit that the mass media duly reported.

And that brings me to my idea: A mass media moratorium on reporting the Groper-in-Chief’s tweets. That’s right. What we need for the media to stop fucking reporting on every bit of lying drivel that comes out of the Groper’s Android phone. The country would be spared a lot of trouble, if they’d just do that.

But they won’t. “The president’s tweets are news!” reporters and editors will say. But, while that seems true, it’s not. Presidents say and do a lot of things in the course of a day which aren’t actually newsworthy. The Apricot Wonder’s tweets should be treated that way. If his infantile spew weren’t reported on, a lot of this shit wouldn’t happen. And he wouldn’t be able to misdirect us.

One might also say that the media should report on the Groper’s lying tweets, then debunk them. However, that won’t accomplish anything of substance, and it certainly won’t discourage the Apricot Wonder from lying even more. In fact, this approach actually fuels him, and he’s counting on the media to at least try to debunk him. This is because — amazingly enough — he wants the media to debunk his lies! You see, he’s playing up to his fanbois, and in their eyes, being debunked actually reinforces whatever outrageous thing he says. This is because of a well-documented psychological phenomenon known as the backfire effect. Ultimately, the Groper is counting on the media to report his lies, then make clear they’re lies, because this only deepens his relationship with the people he’s speaking to. Reporters who relay his lying tweets then show they’re lies, are just doing the GiC’s work for him. They might as well be on his payroll!

It’d be a good idea if, generally, the media treated the Groper like the infantile, paranoid, thin-skinned, whiny cretin he is. The media are showing him a degree of respect he hasn’t actually earned. If they did that, the attention whore who infests the Oval Office would have no choice but to grow up and begin acting his age. Cutting off his ability to build on his raging, immature “base” would benefit everyone.

Ed. to add: As of July 2 it has become crystal-clear that a moratorium on the GiC’s tweets is not merely a good idea, it’s imperative.

Photo credit: FreeFoto.

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Hessen/ Bischoefe stehen am Dienstag (25.09.12) in Fulda waehrend des feierlichen Eroeffnungsgottesdienstes der traditionellen Herbst-Vollversammlung der Deutschen Bischoefe im Dom. Die 67 Mitglieder der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz kommen von Montag bis Donnerstag (27.09.12) zusammen. Themen sind unter anderem die Vermittlung des Glaubens und der Stand des Gespraechsprozesses im Missbrauchsskandal in der katholischen Kirche. (zu dapd-Text) Foto: Thomas Lohnes/dapdOne of the things I dislike about entities that commission independent investigations into their own affairs, is that all such probes can never be truly “independent.” No one ever can be sure the results of any such investigation won’t be subverted by the people who paid for it.

For example, here in Connecticut, this past summer we were treated to precisely this sort of debacle when state House Speaker Chris Donovan, then running in the Democratic primary for Congress in the 5th District, hired lawyer Stanley Twardy to “investigate” allegations that his campaign staff took campaign donations (otherwise known as “bribes”) in exchange for Donovan manipulating the legislative process on behalf of those donors. Not surprisingly, Twardy quite happily declared Donovan innocent of all wrongdoing. Quite laughably, he and Donovan expected the people of the Nutmeg State would swallow their steaming load of bullshit — but they didn’t, he lost the primary, and is now out of office.

Last year, the Roman Catholic Church in Germany commissioned just such a report into their own affairs. They pledged to allow their records to be culled to see how deep the clerical child-abuse scandal ran, in that country. But as Der Spiegel reports, they abruptly pulled the plug on this investigation (locally-cached version):

It was a major promise after a major disaster: In summer 2011, the Catholic Church in Germany pledged full transparency. One year earlier, an abuse scandal had shaken the country’s faithful, as an increasing number of cases surfaced in which priests had sexually abused children and then hidden behind a wall of silence.

The Lower Saxony Criminological Research Institute (KFN) was given the job of investigating the cases in 2011. The personnel files from churches in all 27 dioceses were to be examined for cases of abuse in an attempt to win back some of the Church’s depleted credibility.

But now the Church has called off the study, citing a breakdown in trust. “The relationship of mutual trust between the bishops and the head of the institute has been destroyed,” said the Bishop of Trier, Stephan Ackermann, on Wednesday morning.

The director of the KFN, Christian Pfeiffer, told SPIEGEL ONLINE that the Church had refused to cooperate. At the end of last year, he contacted the dioceses twice in writing. He reminded them of their promised transparency and cooperation. He also asked them whether there was any indication that in some dioceses files had been actively destroyed.

The Bishops’ Conference, the country’s official body of the Church, was apparently unable to agree on any form of cooperation with the KFN.

Yes, you read that right: The bishops refused to comply with terms they dictated for how the investigation was to be conducted. They refused to communicate with, and cooperate with, a team they themselves hired for this task.

One can’t help but assume Prof Pfeiffer wasn’t turning out to be the obedient puppet they’d expected him to be, so after wasting his and everyone else’s time for a while — long enough time for them to destroy a lot of relevant documents, I’m sure — the bishops finally shut the “investigation” down entirely. Their pledge of transparency ultimately proved non-existent.

What person with half a brain is really surprised? I wasn’t, I hope you weren’t either.

Photo credit: dapd, via Der Spiegel.

Hat tip: Peter at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

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Late last year, the St Petersburg Times published a series of stories which, together, were an exposé of the Church of Scientology. This project, known as “The Truth Rundown,” is extensive, and must have been a massive undertaking. The paper has a long history of exposing Scientology, dating back decades, so this is, perhaps, not unusual. The CoS’s response — aside from simply dismissing the comprehensive reports as “total lies” — was to commission its own investigation of the St Petersburg Times and of “The Truth Rundown” itself … i.e. to “fight fire with fire” as the saying goes. That investigation, however, has ended, at Scientology’s direction, and will not be disclosed. TV station WUSF in Tampa reports on this development (WebCite cached article):

The Church of Scientology is deploying a new weapon in its three-decade battle with the St. Petersburg Times: award-winning investigative journalists.

Those reporters completed their own review of the newspaper’s coverage of Scientology, but church officials won’t release it.

In 1980, The St. Petersburg Times won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the secretive religion, headquartered in Clearwater. Since then, church officials have said the newspaper’s coverage is unfair.

So church officials decided to do something about it, according to spokesman Tommy Davis.

“To be honest, I think we just took a playbook from the media,” Davis said. “Media pay reporters all the time to investigate things.

“So we thought it warranted some investigation, and so we hired some reporters to investigate. It’s pretty straightforward, in that regard,” he said.

To the CoS’s credit, they’re correct about this. It is fair to investigate the investigators, so to speak. But since they’re not disclosing the results of that investigation, it’s likely that it never turned up whatever dirt that Scientology had expected to turn up.

Those reporters are Christopher Szechenyi, an Emmy-winning television producer from Boston, and Russell Carollo, a Colorado-based reporter who won a Pulitzer for uncovering medical malpractice in the military. …

Carollo and Szechenyi declined to be interviewed for this story. In a statement, they said they never misrepresented themselves or who they were working for. They also said they were paid in advance and had complete editorial control of their work.

In any case, the newspaper declined to cooperate with the investigation, saying it would fuel the religion’s ongoing campaign to discredit The Times.

“They have, at various points, threatened litigation against us for performing this kind of journalism,” Brown said. “When you’ve been threatened with lawsuits, it doesn’t make sense to have a conversation with subjects who are threatening you about the work.

There was an added layer of the investigation, too, that being an editorial one:

The reporters completed their review and turned it over for an edit to Steve Weinberg, a long-time University of Missouri journalism professor and former executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors.

While the CoS hasn’t released the report, they’re using it indirectly against their foes at the Times:

But that didn’t stop Davis from speaking about the report to Washington Post columnist Howard Kurtz, who broke this story Monday [cached article page 1 and page 2]. Davis called the report “highly critical” of the Times.

In their statement, the reporters said Davis “did not accurately portray the full scope of our work” and urged the Church to release the report.

But they say they can’t talk about their findings, because of their contract with the Church.

Unfortunately for Scientology, they don’t get to claim that this report condemns the St Petersburg Times if they refuse to disclose its contents; a report that says the Times is in the wrong, but they won’t allow anyone to see, is inseparable from a report that does not, in fact, state that the Times is in the wrong.

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In a story vaguely reminiscent of an incident that took place in Canada over a year ago (which I blogged about a couple times), Welsh police are defending their decision to follow up on information given to them by “psychics” about a suicide. The (UK) Guardian reports they stand by this decision, in the face of criticism:

Psychic ‘leads’ prompt murder inquiry

A police force has defended spending £20,000 investigating a man’s death after his ghost was said to have told psychics that gangsters had forced him to drink petrol and bleach.

Carlos Assaf, 32, a baker, was found dead at his flat in Lampeter, west Wales, after a row with his girlfriend, Louise Edwards, 23, on 30 March.

An inquest this week recorded a verdict of suicide after hearing there was no evidence of foul play. However the coroner, Peter Brunton, queried the murder inquiry held after mediums tipped off police, suggesting that the words “lion, a horse and a man called Tony Fox” were significant. “There was a great deal of communication between the mediums and the police,” he said. “A great deal of effort was expended in following these leads up.”

This “investigation” involved a lot of physically tracking down vague clues given by the “psychics.” They spent a lot of time — and therefore money — trailing vainly after some psychics’ gibberish. Nevertheless, they’re unrepentant about it:

A statement from Dyfed-Powys police said: “The revelations of the mystics were brought to our attention via the family and these were followed to reassure the family that the full circumstances of the death were as they appeared. Police have a responsibility to the deceased, their family and the public to investigate all deaths thoroughly.”

Sergeant Mark Webb told the inquest that officers began investigating links with “Tony Fox”. He said: “We received communications from friends and family of Mr Assaf involving spiritualist mediums. We interviewed the mediums and, having carried out an investigation, we found the information far from conclusive. We wanted to be absolutely satisfied there was no third party involved.”

Fortunately the Guardian found at least one person who admits that — perhaps — this should not have been done:

A police source said: “We are becoming a laughing stock. We went haring across the country looking for a lion, a horse and someone called Fox based on info from cranks. Not surprisingly, it turned out to be a wild goose chase which cost at least £20,000 in time and resources.”

Way to go guys. Keep doing the laughable. At least in this case — unlike the one in Barrie, Ontario last year — no one was erroneously charged with anything, because of these psychics’ claims, and a mother and child weren’t separated over it. That still doesn’t mean these guys ought to get a “pass” on their poor judgement.

Hat tip: Skeptic’s Dictionary.

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