Techdirt Skewers Turkey

Techdirt publishes article based on my blog post re: Erdoğan’s takedown demand of “humiliating” news reports comparing him to Hitler

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Via “Turkish President Demands Google Delist a Bunch of Websites Comparing Him to Hitler” by Tim Cushing, Techdirt, May 24, 2017:

from the ‘Hitler-was-an-amateur-authoritarian,’-the-president-complained dept

The world’s most thin-skinned “leader” is at it again. Perpetually-insulted Turkish super-villain Recip Erdogan is still firing off court orders to Google, expecting the immediate banishment of anything he finds offensive. Dean Jones of the invaluable Shooting the Messenger has more details:


The Turkish tyrant ordered Google
[Note: actually, Google only dealt with three Blogspot URLs; the rest is addressed to the Internet in general, I guess.] to delist over 40 URLs including a critical report by The Washington Times, plus an AOL image search for “Adolf Erdoğan,” because they allegedly link to “hurtful, humiliating” images and memes.

[…]

The targeted sites had reported about Erdoğan’s recent crackdown on journalists and other critics of the Turkish government, comparing him to Hitler.


Not helping these comparisons is Erdogan’s similar facial structure and his endless vindictive actions against anyone who’s hurt his feelings.

Turkish law gives him considerable leeway to do this. Unfortunately, a small handful of countries have extended helping hands rather than middle fingers in response to censorship and/or prosecution demands. It’s unknown why the Turkish government thought Google could help it out with an AOL image search, but it’s equally unclear why it didn’t ask for the delisting of Google’s image search, which shows virtually-identical results.

The more someone humors this tyrant, the worse he’s going to get. And it certainly doesn’t help that Jones’ report comes on the heels of the Erdogan’s US visit, during which his personal bodyguards beat up American protesters. This prompted a tepid display of disappointment from the US State Department and a much more hot-blooded demand for an apology from the Turkish government US law enforcement daring to interrupt Erdogan’s bodyguards while they were beating up US citizens.

Read the full article by clicking here.

Adolf Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan orders takedown of “humiliating” news reports comparing him to Hitler

The Turkish tyrant ordered Google to delist over 40 URLs including a critical report by The Washington Times, plus an AOL image search for “Adolf Erdoğan,” because they allegedly link to “hurtful, humiliating” images and memes.

The Washington Times, January 5, 2016 (source)

Via the Lumen Database, the March 30, 2017 court order says that “freedom of the press is not unlimited” and that “criticism is against the law.”

The targeted sites had reported about Erdoğan’s recent crackdown on journalists and other critics of the Turkish government, comparing him to Hitler.

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During his visit to the White House last week, Erdoğan’s bodyguards brutally attacked a group of anti-Erdoğan protesters. Turkey has demanded that the U.S. apologise for its “aggressive and unprofessional actions” in allowing the protests to continue.

Hamer’s House of Horror

Celebrity doctors Dean Ornish, David Katz, and Caldwell Esselstyn to headline “cult-like” pseudoscience event next month

They are set to speak at the upcoming Lifestyle Medicine Summit alongside prominent anti-vaxxers and other proponents of “natural medicine.”

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The event is organised by the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation, whose website promotes anti-vax conspiracies, and states that cancer sufferers “are solely responsible for their own illness.” The website also lists outspoken flat earth conspiracy theorist David “Avocado” Wolfe as one of its “partner affiliates.”

The Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation was founded in 2016 by Munich native Johannes Fisslinger, inventor of the “Aura Video Station.”

Johannes Fisslinger (source)

Fisslinger previously ran the “cult-like” International Meta-Medicine Association (IMMA).

A 2009 report by a Norwegian television station said that three cancer sufferers died after being advised by members of IMMA’s Advisory Council to stop conventional treatments.

TV 2, April 17, 2009 (source)

Both IMMA and the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation teach “the art and science of self-healing,” a highly speculative model of disease based on the discredited theories of criminal ex-doctor and virulent anti-Semite Ryke Geerd Hamer, who lost his medical licence in 1986 after a number of patients in his care died.

Ryke Geerd Hamer (source)

According to Hamer, specific traumatic experiences cause specific physical symptoms. For example, a child raised by conservative, or “inflexible,” parents might develop rigid joints.

Medical authorities have widely denounced Hamer for his theories and illegal treatment of cancer patients, most famously in the case of six-year-old Olivia Pilhar.

Headline: A Dangerous Saviour – Once again, the judiciary has to deal with the controversial “cancer healer” Ryke Geerd Hamer, who is no longer allowed to work as a doctor or a naturopath. Nevertheless his followers trust him blindly.

Der Spiegel, August 9, 1997 (source)

The Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation itself recently attracted criticism when it held an event at Regent’s University London, a prestigious British university.

BuzzFeed, March 15, 2017 (source)

Speaking to BuzzFeed UK, British MP Matt Warman (of the UK parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee), said that the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation promotes “unproven quack cures.”

In a separate comment, British pharmacologist David Colquhoun was even less sparing, calling Fisslinger’s ideas about disease “utter bollocks.”

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I asked Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, the famed American physician and one of 14 “visionary speakers” set to speak at the Lifestyle Medicine Summit, for his opinion.

In his reply to me, Dr. Esselstyn dismissed the criticism.

“A number of highly respected colleagues of mine have been on this program and like myself are eager that people should become acquainted with the hard science of proven research and evidence based scientific strategies,” said Dr. Esselstyn, adding: “I am simply not familiar with the observations you have sited [sic].”

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (source)

Someone who ought to be familiar with the macabre origins of the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation is Dr. Dean Ornish, best-selling author and White House policy adviser during the Clinton and Obama administrations.

In 2007, Dr. Ornish was awarded the distinction of “Excellence in Integrative Medicine” from IMMA’s defunct breast cancer research charity, the Heal Breast Cancer FoundationHe later appeared in Fisslinger’s 2010 film, Titans of Yoga, and was at one time slated to host the 2013 “Be Meta-Healthy Online World Summit.”

Last year I informed Dr. Ornish about IMMA’s association with Hamer, and asked him about his own decade-long association with Fisslinger, which he denied.

Dr. Ornish said his appearance at the Lifestyle Medicine Summit is not an endorsement of the views expressed by Fisslinger or the notorious Hamer.

Dr. Dean Ornish (source)

“I often speak at conferences – including prestigious scientific meetings – where I do not always agree with what other speakers, organizers, or affiliates may be presenting or with their views on other subjects,” said Dr. Ornish.

“I am not endorsing the conference or other speakers; I’m just presenting a summary of 40 years of research that I’ve directed, published in the leading peer-reviewed medical journals, in hopes that this may be helpful. I am responsible only for my own comments.”

Co-headlining the event is Dr. David L. Katz, founding director of the CDC-funded Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Centre and a vocal critic of the anti-vax movement.

Dr. David Katz (source)

In 2013, Dr. Katz gave a talk via Skype at the “Be Meta-Healthy Online World Summit,” videos of which later appeared on the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation website.

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Last year I asked Dr. Katz about his relationship with Fisslinger, IMMA, and the Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation. Dr. Katz said he had “no relationship with any of these people,” insisting that he’d “never endorsed any program or product of theirs.”

This time when I asked him about Fisslinger, he said he “didn’t know this was the same person” I’d asked about previously.

“A Skype interview sets a pretty low bar- I do not conduct a background check,” said Dr. Katz. “I can only ever take responsibility for what I say – and that I do.”

He continued: “I have heard questionable commentary at almost every conference I’ve ever attended- but I have never felt that speaking at the same conference implied my endorsement of commentary by others. That said, I do tend to know far better those with whom I interact in person. This was merely an interview, and I do several a week. Sometimes I know the interviewers fairly well, but more often I do not.”

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In my follow-up questions to Dr. Katz, I asked if he’d ever refused to speak at an event because of a disagreement with the scientific views of the organiser; and for his response to the argument that by speaking at a pseudoscience event he lends credibility to the organisers they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Here is Dr. Katz’s reply:

My only additional response to you at this point, Sterling, is that I have no better idea who you are, than who Johannes is. For all I know, you are his personal stalker.

He has only ever asked me about things in which I have a genuine interest, and invited me to discuss them unimpeded- whereas you have only ever asked me about him. Of the two of you, your behavior has been the more concerning to me.

I’ve asked Dr. Katz if he intends to ask Fisslinger about the issues raised in this post, but haven’t received a reply.

The Lifestyle Medicine Summit will take place between June 1–7, 2017. Speakers include retired surgeon and Quackwatch regular Dr. Bernie Siegel, prominent anti-vaxxer Sayer Ji, and Dr. Stephane Provencer, who practices “holistic child health care.”

Unpresentable

The BBC says “no further action will be taken” after news presenter Ben Brown physically pushed a woman during a live television broadcast

BBC News presenter Ben Brown physically pushed the female passer-by during a live television broadcast Tuesday.

Brown was in Bradford speaking about the new Labour Party manifesto with his colleague, assistant political editor Norman Smith, when the unnamed woman walked between the two men and said “absolutely fantastic,” giving a thumbs-up. But she was quickly pushed aside by Brown, who appeared to grab her breast. The woman then slapped the presenter on the arm before walking off camera.

Later that day, Brown tweeted: “Unfortunate interruption of broadcast in Bradford – just tried to minimise disruption but v tricky live on air – completely unintentional”.

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Yesterday I asked the BBC if it was appropriate that Brown physically pushed a woman who interrupted his conversation; if the BBC agrees the woman had the right to stand on a public street in Bradford, regardless of whether or not her presence inconvenienced Brown and/or BBC News; and if Brown could clarify what he was referring to in his tweet as being “completely unintentional,” as it was clear he intended to push the woman.

Today BBC News replied that Brown’s actions were “clearly unintentional and an accident” and that “no further action will be taken.”

Dear Mr. Jones

We appreciate you were concerned by an incident in which our presenter Ben Brown accidently made contact with a member of the public who had interrupted a live broadcast on the BBC News Channel.

Ben explained what had happened in a tweet soon afterwards, which you can see below:

“Unfortunate interruption of broadcast in Bradford – just tried to minimise disruption but v tricky live on air – completely unintentional”

As Ben said, this was clearly unintentional and an accident, and no further action will be taken.

Thank you for contacting us.

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints Team
http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

Hewers CEO Loses It

Hewers crisis manager accuses me of “cyber bullying bordering on defamation” for accurately reporting what it says on his website

Yesterday I blogged about Hewers, a self-proclaimed “niche market crisis communication and issues management advisors protecting personal and brand reputation.”

Hewers CEO Neeran Naidoo (source)

Hewers states on the front page of its website that it “was inspired by a speech by apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd.”

Via History.com:

As prime minister from 1958, [Verwoerd] instituted an intricate system of laws separating whites, Africans (blacks), Coloureds, and Asians, and resettled blacks in backwater reservations. These policies provoked anti-apartheid demonstrations by blacks, which were brutally crushed by government forces at Sharpeville and elsewhere.

Via Twitter today, Hewers CEO Neeran Naidoo accused me of “embedded journalism” and “Pottinger-style cyber bullying bordering on defamation.”

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Unappealing

Crisis management reps for complainant in “Banting for Babies trial” say they were inspired by controversial “apartheid architect” Hendrik Verwoerd

I recently blogged about the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), whose former president reported University of Capetown professor Tim Noakes to medical authorities for a single tweet in February 2014 (click here to read more).

ADSA hired crisis management company Hewers to field questions about its uncertain role as complainant in the case subsequently brought against Noakes by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

After a lengthy legal battle lasting just under two years, last month Noakes was found not guilty of unprofessional conduct. The HPCSA is currently appealing the verdict.

Professor Noakes during Banting for Babies trial” (source)

Trying to get answers from Hewers CEO Neeran Naidoo about ADSA’s role proved futile, but last week I got an interesting tip regarding the etymology of the name “Hewers.”

Via Irvine, CA Ophthalmologist Dr. James H. Johnson:

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The Hewers website states that “the name Hewers was inspired by a speech by apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd,” and even quotes “the late politician” as saying that “black South Africans ought to be trained to become ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water.’”

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Verwoerd is a hugely divisive figure in South Africa.

As prime minister during the late fifties and sixties, Verwoerd “introduced numerous laws to establish the raced-based discriminatory system known as apartheid – earning him the title, architect of apartheid.” (Robertson, 2010)

Hendrik Verwoerd (source)

In March 1960, government forces in the South African township of Sharpeville opened fire on a crowd of peaceful black protesters, killing 69 people. Speaking to the British press one year later, Verwoerd described apartheid as “a policy of good neighbourliness.”

In the mid-thirties, Verwoerd (himself an immigrant to South Africa) protested the arrival of Jewish refugees fleeing from Nazi Germany.

I’ve asked Neeran Naidoo if he believes that openly taking inspiration from such a divisive figure helps with his company’s stated goal of “protecting personal and brand reputation.”

I’ve also asked ADSA’s current president Maryke Gallagher for her take.

ADSA Doubles Down

“Highly unprofessional” – Attempts by South African dietetics organisation to manage PR “crisis” backfire, but spin doctor Neeran Naidoo still won’t answer uncomfortable questions about “Kafka-esque” Tim Noakes inquiry

Last month, I blogged about the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), who recently hired a PR “crisis manager” to answer uncomfortable questions about the “Kafka-esque trial” of University of Cape Town emeritus professor and low-carb high-fat (LCHF) proponent Dr. Tim Noakes.

Professor Tim Noakes (source)

Noakes risked losing his medical licence after former ADSA president Claire Julsing-Strydom complained to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) about a tweet Noakes had sent to a breastfeeding mother in which he said good first foods for infant weaning are LCHF.

After a lengthy legal battle lasting just under two years, last month the HPCSA found Noakes not guilty of unprofessional conduct.

When I e-mailed Julsing-Strydom for comment on the HPCSA’s not guilty verdict, I received a reply from Neeran Naidoo of Hewers, a self-described “niche market crisis communication and issues management advisors protecting personal and brand reputation, especially when things go pear shaped [emphasis added].”

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Naidoo told me he’d been “contracted by the Dietitians Association of South Africa to manage their communications” and that “all queries on this case are referred to me.”

However, he stopped replying when I asked him about evidence suggesting Julsing-Strydom had complained to the HPCSA in her personal capacity and not on behalf of ADSA (more on that shortly).

After I published my item last month, Naidoo began tweeting from his Twitter account for the first time since joining in November last year.

Responding to questions from South African health and nutrition journalist Marika Sboros, who’s covered the Noakes inquiry from the start, Naidoo insisted there is no crisis, only a “conspiracy.”

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When Sboros asked if Naidoo’s services were funded by members’ fees or by sponsors, Naidoo tweeted: “And who funds you to be a Noakes praise singer masquerading as a journalist?”

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In the lengthy comment thread that followed Naidoo’s tweet, Twitter users including award-winning SA legal journalist Tony Beamish criticised Naidoo as being “unprofessional” for taking a “cheap shot unworthy of the respectable diet practitioners among those you’re supposed to represent.”

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I’ve asked Naidoo what ADSA members think about money being spent on his services, and if they believe he is doing a good job of representing ADSA to the public. On that question, I also invited current ADSA president Maryke Gallagher to give her opinion.

ADSA president Maryke Gallagher (source)

Gallagher declined to answer further questions, telling Marika Sboros she doesn’t wish to “provoke debate” and “harp on the past,” but here’s Sboros’ own reply to the question of whether or not Julsing-Strydom complained to the HPCSA in her personal capacity, and why this issue matters:

This issue has definitely and definitively NOT been answered. It has important legal implications for any future action stemming from the hearing. I heard nothing and see nothing in the transcripts to suggest that they addressed the evidence. My opinion is that HPCSA and Claire just ignored all the evidence that Noakes and Michael Van der Nest placed on record showing her personal complaint and unilateral change to her status. Reason? IMHO it’s difficult to answer away bald facts.

Perhaps if they released proof of correspondence showing that they informed Tim of change to her status and why, and thereafter secured his agreement and understanding…That might put the matter to bed finally.

Sboros has also permitted me to publish her unanswered questions to ADSA:

• ADSA’s response to the significant body of evidence that the defence presented for safety and efficacy of LCHF to treat and prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease and increasingly, other serious health issues?

• Will ADSA change its dietary advice in response to the totality of robust science?  If so, when? If not, why not?

• Is ADSA aware of any science for the recommendation to “make starchy foods the basis of most meals”? If so, please provide full journal references. If not, what is evidence-base for ADSA’s support of this recommendation?

• What is ADSA’s response to the latest response in the SAMJ by Prof Tim Noakes and Dr Zoë Harcombe showing that the Naudé Review is so riddled with errors that its conclusions cannot be robust?

• Who funds the services of both ADSA’s PR company, Liquid Lingo and now Neeran Naidoo, CEO of Hewers Communications,  as ADSA’s crisis manager?

• Why does ADSA say that the issue of the HPCSA’s change to Claire’s status as complainant is settled when evidence on the record at the hearing contradicts that view?  Have Maryke and the rest of ADSA’s executive accessed and read all the transcripts, particularly those related to Claire’s status?

• I have still not received clarification of Claire’s email saying that she would “prefer” that I say she complained from the outset as president. That is despite her tweet, emailed letter of complaint and initial correspondence from the HPCSA to Prof Noakes showing clearly that she did so in her personal capacity only. Evidence at the hearing is clear that she complained in her personal capacity. When and why did HPCSA make the change? Why has it taken so long for Claire to clarify that statement?

• There are ambiguities in the document which ADSA executive signed in 2015, well after the fact of Claire’s complaint in her personal capacity in 2014. Who requested the document from the executive? What was the intention behind it?

• Clarification, please, on the statement ADSA released during the October 2016 hearing. In it, ADSA says that it did not lodge a complaint against Prof Noakes but was only “seeking clarity” on conduct of health professionals on social media? Does ADSA still maintain that position? If not, why the statement? Presumably, ADSA was unaware that the HPCSA does not have guidelines for health professionals on social media? Did ADSA ask the HPCSA for guidelines before issuing the statement?

• Last but not least: what is the status of ADSA executive member Katie Pereira’s complaint against Prof Noakes also lodged with the HPCSA in 2014? HPCSA has informed me the case is still ongoing. Will Katie pursue or withdraw?

ADSA in Crisis

The Association for Dietetics in South Africa hires crisis management company to answer uncomfortable questions about “Kafka-esque” Tim Noakes inquiry

Last week, professor Tim Noakes was found not guilty of unprofessional conduct after a lengthy legal battle lasting just under two years.

Some critics have referred to the inquiry as being a “trial,” a nod to Franz Kafka’s 1925 novel about “one man’s fight against a nightmarish bureaucracy.”¹

Noakes risked losing his medical licence had he been found guilty.

Dr. Tim Noakes (source)

The Health Professions Council of South Africa charged Noakes with unprofessional conduct in June 2015 after he allegedly gave “unconventional advice to a breastfeeding mother on a social network.” That was for a single tweet in February 2014, in which he said good first foods for infant weaning are low-carb high-fat (LCHF).

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The charges were brought following a complaint by Johannesburg dietitian Claire Julsing-Strydom, former president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), who wrote to the HPCSA in her personal capacity.

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According to leading South African health and nutrition journalist Marika Sboros, the HPCSA breached its own rules when it changed Julsing-Strydom’s complaint “from personal to professional and made ADSA the complainant.”

Claire Julsing-Strydom (source)

Julsing-Strydom resigned from her position as ADSA’s president sometime after making her complaint to the HPCSA.

Last week, I e-mailed Julsing-Strydom for comment on the Noakes verdict. Yesterday, I received this e-mail from Neeran Naidoo of Hewers, “a niche market crisis communication and issues management advisors protecting personal and brand reputation, especially when things go pear shaped [emphasis added].”

Hi Dean
You emailed Claire for comment on the verdict.
I have attached a statement with useful links as well as comment from Maryke Gallagher, the current President of ADSA on the verdict.
Let me know if you have any specific questions.
Regards
Neeran

When I asked Naidoo why he had replied on behalf of Julsing-Strydom, he said he had been “contracted by the Dietitians Association of South Africa to manage their communications” and that “all queries on this case are referred to me.”

Neeran Naidoo (source)

When I asked about Julsing-Strydom’s current relationship with ADSA, he said: “Claire is a member of ADSA as a dietitian but she has no formal portfolio.”

Claire Julsing-Strydom’s ADSA profile (source)

Naidoo refused repeated requests for Julsing-Strydom to comment on the Noakes verdict, but said she was willing to answer “other specific questions.”

When I asked Naidoo if Julsing-Strydom agreed she’d complained to the HPCSA in her personal capacity, he said “the complaint was lodged of behalf of ADSA” and that “those with official designations like the President use their personal e-mail or gmail accounts for ADSA purposes.”

However, Naidoo didn’t reply when I asked why Julsing-Strydom told Marika Sboros that she’d “prefer” Sboros to say that she had complained as ADSA president from the start, and why the HPCSA had changed her status after confirming in first correspondence that she was the complainant.

ADSA’s official statement is available to read by clicking here.


¹Bureaucrats look to Kafka by Henry Samuel, The Telegraph, April 15, 2006