Newseum

Today’s Front Pages

Through a special agreement with more than 800 newspapers worldwide, the Newseum displays these front pages each day on its website. The front pages are in their original, unedited form.

Roll over the cities you are interested in and double click when you see a front page that interests you to get a larger image than the thumbnail that appears to the right of the map.

This is something I just found and I think it is a great idea to keep track of what is the main story in other cities.

Toronto Sun Surprised by Private Investigator

Private Investigators, Adjusters, and insurance companies get a lot of bad press due to bias, ignorance, and a desire to sensationalize the news.

In today’s Toronto Sun an article titled, How Facebook can screw you by Alan SHANOFF, the author states,

I wouldn’t be surprised to see insurance company adjusters and investigators trying to become a claimant’s “friend” to obtain inner circle access. Instead of a private investigator hiding in a van on your street or behind a bush, he might very well be tracking your movements in cyberspace.”

It’s obvious that SHANOFF would be surprised to learn that Private Investigators and Adjusters in Canada wouldn’t do this to a represented claimant.  I have written on this subject twice, and all the PI’s and Adjusters I have spoken to about this know that they may not “friend” the subject of an investigation if he or she is represented.  Simple fact checking would have corrected this.

The Toilet Paper Shortage of 1973

The writers for Johnny Carson heard that the U.S government was having a hard time getting bids for the supply toilet paper and that it might be possible that in a few months the United States could face a shortage of toilet tissue.  They took the words of a Wisconsin congressman who said this, Harold Froehlich, and decided to add a joke for Carson for the next evening show.

This had some far-reaching and unintended consequences.

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The News and Critical Thought

“Competitive Intelligence means looking behind the news and doing an analysis to find the truth. That is not the role of newspapers. Their role is simple: to sell and make profits for their owners. If that means subjective reporting, then so be it.”

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WikiLeaks, YouTube, Propaganda, Politics, and SEO

It never ceases to amaze me how gullible people are. Let’s look at two examples recently in the news.

First, the case of Shirley Sherrod, the black U.S. Department of Agriculture official accused of racism. The evidence of her racism was a short, edited video clip offered up by a partisan web gadfly, Andrew Breitbart, who has a small empire of web sites. This guy knew such a controversial and inflammatory out-take would drive millions to his web sites. This huge burst of site traffic is money in Brietbart’s pocket.

What surprised me was that the NAACP and the Obama administration swallowed this hook, line, and sinker. They didn’t review the full video, interview people present at the event, or evaluate Breitbart’s motives for publishing the edited video.

Second, the leaked military documents that now appear on the WikiLeaks site need closer examination.

The founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is what a judge would describe as an unreliable witness. He pleaded guilty to 25 charges of hacking in Australia; and according to the National Post, “Before he set up the website in 2006, Julian Assange spent years hacking into government and company computers, including those of the U.S. Department of Defense, as part of a group calling themselves the International Subversives.”

With Assange’s talk about “war crimes” and his background, it isn’t hard to understand that this guy has an agenda. How his agenda distorts the picture of events depends upon what documents he publishes from this large volume of previously classified material.  We will never know what he didn’t publish and this creates a very similar situation to the selectively edited video clip published by Breitbart.

Photoshop Fakery & Disasters

I’m naturally skeptical, especially of what is reported in the news. The Toronto Star keeps putting a bodiless hand in a picture of the Mississauga Mayor, Hazel McCallion, and her son.

Photoshop

This Photoshop disaster hasn’t gone unnoticed, but it highlights the issue of how Investigators and Researchers use such pictures and how they cite collected images.

I don’t have the technical skills to verify the authenticity of every image I collect and use in reports, but I can, and do, report the source of the image and the date it was collected. For example, in this case, several versions of this image are in the public domain. If I use the image in a report, I must state its source and the date collected, as it may later be revealed as a fake or altered image.

TinEye

I also use TinEye on such an image to see if an alternative version exists and to see where else the image might have appeared. For example, using TinEye on the cropped Toronto Star image I get a reference to the obviously Photoshopped image with the bodiless hand.

Versadex

The recent  controversy surrounding the improper investigation of potential jurors in Ontario has exposed some of the information the government has on Canadians and their contact with the police. One such database is known as Versadex.

National Post editorial board: Ontario stonewalls justice, one mistrial at a time

The Versadex database administered by the Canadian Police Information Centre contains information obtained by police on any call to a private address, even if that call did not lead to an arrest, and appears to contain other informal police annotations concerning individuals. Notes on mental health status are included.

The term Versadex, refers to a  family of products from Ottawa-based Versaterm which produces public safety software.  Versaterm produces Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) software with integrated E911 emergency response, (along with advanced mobile workstations in the patrol vehicles, this puts vital information at police officers’ fingertips) and the Police Records Management System (RMS) for gathering intelligence and disseminating information on involved individuals, businesses, vehicles and locations. The Records Management System (RMS) is the core of the Versadex software suite.  When RMS is fully integrated with both PoliceCAD and the Mobile Workstation they ensure a seamless information flow.

Once the Cat’s Out of the Bag

I started with a very interesting article about what you might find in a college newspaper that would be interesting to an investigator.

One thing leads to another and I also found an article about a study of how quickly social sites remove pictures. Some sites take up to 30 days to really get rid of the offending images. This is an important thing to understand if your are looking for derogatory pictures.

Your (journalistic) past can haunt you online

Once the cat is out of the bag, you probably won’t be able to catch her and stuff her back inside…

That (now) embarrassing article you wrote for your college newspaper three years ago? It’s still online. And when people Google you, they find it…

Apparently a lot of student newspapers are receiving requests from former student writers to remove or “hide” (from Google) articles of which they are now ashamed…

…requests by former students who were featured in articles in the student newspaper. Campus police arrests for drunkenness, that sort of thing. They would like those articles to be removed or “hidden.”…

Here’s a related story about someone trying to get an old newspaper story erased from the search engines. Article published in The Seattle Times on Aug. 15, 2008.

Websites keep deleted photos, study shows

Cambridge researchers have shown that photos aren’t always deleted when users ask, causing a major ‘data remanence’ issue for cloud computing.

According to a study of 16 social networking, blogging and photo sharing sites…most of them failed to remove photos after users deleted them…

What They Don’t Teach in Detective School

I used to do a series of lectures about the skills I found most lacking in the education of detectives. The lecture about evaluating the revealed wisdom that pours forth from the Internet was always fun to deliver.

One example that I used when I started doing these, was a site that identified the second gunman in the Kennedy assassination — there was Elvis holding a Thompson sub-machine gun on the grassy knoll. It was on the Internet so it must be true.

Here is the 13 point check list for evaluating information upon which I based the lecture.

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Spread FUD Not Propaganda

An excellent article at Knowledge Is Power about using a blog to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) about competitors and manage the spin on news about its rivals while usually reporting positively about your own employer.

Another post about Black PR defines this as distinct from a disinformation campaign.

Corporate Family Trees

I often see the following terminology misused in the press. For the Investigator, these terms have very specific meanings. The Investigator must also recognise that most laymen will misuse these terms.

A parent company controls separately incorporated firms. The controlled company is a subsidiary. A subsidiary has a parent when the controlling firm owns more than 50% of its shares.

Divisions are business names owned by a corporation. A division specialises in some product or service offered by the company that owns the business name. A corporation using a registered business name is doing business as that name, hence the term DBA (Doing Business As).

An affiliate is a corporation which is owned by more that one entity which do not individually own more that 50% each.

Propaganda

“Four hostile newspapers, are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.” Napoleon Bonaparte to his generals.

Propaganda may be defined as the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.

I’ve been reading about propaganda lately. A reviewer correctly observed that one book about the evils of propaganda stated that only conservatives engage in it, and they are always “wrong.” This was a rather comical bit of propaganda in a book warning about the dangers of propaganda. Many of the books I read contained this type of nonsense.

Today, a friend brought a National Post column to my attention. It is about a Wikipedia editor using the popular service as a platform for propaganda. The article alleges that, “By patrolling Wikipedia pages and ensuring that her spin reigns supreme over all climate change pages, she has made of Wikipedia a propaganda vehicle for global warming alarmists. But unlike government propaganda, its source is not self-evident.”

Be careful out there, and don’t believe everything you read.

CI and Industrial Espionage

In an article entitled, Cyberterrorism, Inc., we see the usual link between CI and industrial espionage as if the two are the same. Creating a link between the two is the work of feeble minds.

To gain an advantage over competitors, many corporations are hiring ex-military and government agents trained in the art of intelligence gathering techniques, according to a report from the SANS Institute, a Washington-based cybersecurity training organization.

These individuals are used to head new company divisions whose mission is to spy on competitors and obtain intelligence. Companies spend over US$2 billion annually to spy on each other, according to the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals.

In 1999, North American companies lost more than US$45 billion to theft of trade secrets and other valuable corporate data, according to the SANS report. “Today’s total losses are anyone’s guess,” the report continued.

CI is the act of creating Intelligence from open source data. Industrial espionage, on the other hand, usually involves the commission of criminal offences. I suspose the distinction is too complex for so-called journalists.