Amsia Motors making billions in deals, but does it exist?

January 11, 2016

The President of Amsia Motors used this photoshopped image as his Facebook profile.

In 2013, the Brazilian government was crowing about its “Crown Jewel” of the so-called Greater Brazil Plan. The “Incentive Program for Technological Innovation and Densification of the Productive Chain of Motor Vehicles” was a plan to offer incentives to automakers around the world to bring their companies to Brazil. The government proudly trotted names of companies looking to invest in Brazil, including the “Chinese-Saudi company” Amsia Motors.

Recently in Minas Gerais, a small team of representatives from Amsia Motors – which previously saw a (Rs) $1 billion deal to build a factory in Sergipe fall through to little fanfare – was in Minas Gerais, working on deals including a whopping (Rs)$2 billion deal to build a factory in Sete Lagoas, that would bring with it 2,500 jobs.  Amsia was even asking people who could help them to send them e-mails. A member of the group said they had been working former Minister of Development Fernando Pimentel for some time to make the trip happen. Members of the group posed with Brazilian school children and were treated as foreign dignitaries. 

Moeth Ahmed (left) poses with Sete Lagoas Mayor Marcio Reinaldo.

For a nation in need, Amsia Motors seems too good to be true. And it probably is. Amsia Motors is a multi-national automobile company that is promising to invest billions of reals in Brazil and create thousands of good paying jobs. Yet there is no proof it exists beyond a few men and a couple web sites.

The seeds of Amsia Motors were planted in 1986 in the United States in the state of Delaware when it was incorporated as Inter Baraka Holdings. In the 30 full years since, there is no reason whatsoever to believe Inter Baraka or Amsia Motors has ever produced a small generator, let alone an actual automobile. There is no proof available.

Amsia Motors (also Sinoamsia, also Amsia-lbh Group) has three verifiable representatives: Mustafa Ahmed (Also Mustapha Ahmad. Also Mustafa Zeauddin Ahmed. Also Zia Amed. Also Mostafa Ahmed), President and apparently a native of India. Faisal Al Saud – the Arab Zone Distributor and “Saudi Arabian Prince,” and Moeth Ahmed, a director who lives in Toronto, Canada.

Some reasons to be skeptical of Amsia Motor’s existence:

1) A wide search of the Internet shows not one vehicle made by Amsia Motors. Every vehicle shown in any story from Amsia Motors is a vehicle built by another company and photoshopped into being an “Amsia Motors” vehicle.

2) It’s only “Factory” is in China. The address given for this factory is a suite number of an office building.

3) The only mentions of Amsia Motors on the Internet are of its efforts to make deals in Brazil, aside from a couple mentions in 2011 when Mustafa Ahmed made a mediocre effort to obtain Irisbus in Italy.

4) Moeth Ahmed, who is in Brazil with the Amsia Motors delegation, is a web designer who registered the Amsiamotors.com web site with GoDaddy  in 2011 just before they attempted the Irisbus deal in Italy. Moeth Ahmed also owns the websites , lauracolgan.com, uberdigitalluxury.com, amsiaglobal.com and pforzheimwatches.com. Moeth Ahmed’s company “Uber Digital Luxury” is credited as the site designer of AmsiaMotors.com.

5) An Amsia Motors YouTube account has no videos that can prove it is a company or that it makes cars or is a company.

6) The consistent conflating of names. For instance, Amsia Motors is one letter from being “Asia Motors.” Prince Faisal Al Saud is a name the same as a more famous one, as is his company Eram Holding Group, not to be confused with the wildly successful corporation Eram Group. Inter Baraka Holding is not the successful Baraka Holding.

7) The main site for “Amsia Motors Global” is a free Google Blogspot web site.

8) According to the Amsia Motors Global Web site, Amsia Motors also made a (Rs) $2 billion deal with Monte Alegre Mayor Rodrigo de Alvim Mendonça.

9) The e-mail Amsia Motors supplied to possible vendors apparently does not work.

“For local partnerships are you indicating the e-mail info @ amsiaglobal, but it is not possible to send e-mail. Which another e-mail to be able to contact the Amsia Motors company?”

Amsia Motors – which apparently makes use of a free e-mail service – was previously questioned by Italian journalist Andrea Malan, who called them an “alleged multinational” and wrote that the company included a photoshopped Fiat 500 as one of its own cars in its photo album.

“The alleged multinational (described as “a giant Sino-American” optimist Alessandro Pagano, member of the PDL) is called Amsia Motors and shows a curious website ( www.amsiamotors.com ) written in halting English or poorly translated by some foreign language,” wrote Malan. Commenters at a story from the Web site Noticias Automotivas seem to come to the conclusion that Amsia Motors is not what it claims to be. Adiberto Souza openly wondered who Mustafa Ahmed was and asked his readers for information about him.

Brazilian writer Gustavo Henrique Ruffo also questioned the existence of Amsia Motors in a 2013 story.

“they all bring the company emblem placed in a very amateur way the images. Which are cars from other companies. Example is the Amsia Living a Ssangyong apartamentos em santos Rexton with emblem of Amsia. Or Amsia Komi, nothing less than a Effa M100. Blogs in South America (amsiamotorsouthamerica.blogspot.com.br) and Africa (amsiamotorsafrica.blogspot.com.br) that have the same content, no nothing,” wrote Ruffo.

Moeth Ahmed with Monte Alegre Mayor Rodrigo de Alvim Mendonça.

Another odd aside from Amsia Motors is an apparent advertisement placed on the web site Abhilasha HR Solution. The add requests females to be assistants and asks for photos of candidates “in party ware.”

These roles are for Female Personal Assistants to be based in CHINA   and ITALY, but will travel mostly with Chairman to Arab zone, Europe and South America.

About the role: Looking for a mid age , elegant, well groomed ,personality, sense of high office protocol.

Charming, with a Pleasant personality, clever, empathetic person to take responsibility for keeping the team and office working at peak performance. They will be involved in every aspect of helping build the China and Italy office from providing assistance to CEO while managing office environment, taking responsibility for outward social media channels, to helping support the global marketing initiatives.

If interested please send minimum 2 full-size pictures, one in business suit and one in party ware along with your CV.

Excellent Salary Package with other benefit package for the right candidate.

Our Client Amsia  Motors is the new generation signature Leader in the Automobile and Engineering industry, with a unique vision and direction of a Greener Future. Inspired most importantly by environment friendly, highly economical, reliable performance and quality.  Company website www.amsiamotors.com

There are other oddities, including a comment from Mustafa Ahmed to a story from the Latin Herald Tribune, where Ahmed seemingly forgets his comment is connected to his Facebook account. Ahmed signs the comment with the sockpuppet name “Daniel Wolfensberger.” 

News is not correct .Amsia Motors is fully owned by parent holding company registered in USA. Mr.Mostafa Ahmed is the Chairman &CEO with full share owner .Prince Faisal Al Saud is the Distributor of Amsia Motors for GCC counties.He came as a member of Chairman’s entourage not a financier or investor. Daniel Wolfensberger

Moeth Ahmed has yet to respond to several requests to speak with him about this story, though I did receive an e-mail from a “Paul K. Leira, Client Concierge.” After that poorly written e-mail, I heard nothing back. There is a Paul Leira in Toronto who is, like Moeth Ahmed, a web designer and fan of luxurious things.

Dear Mr.Bill Wolfrum,

Thank you for your kind comments,
at interest at Amsia Motors.

It is much appreciated.
Please note, Mr.Ahmed the Global Sales & Marketing Director who signed the document is currently in Sete Lagoas.

We can put you in touch with him right away for a phone or skype interview.

Kindly snd us your local number and contact details.

We look forward to a great story and editorial from you.

Good day!


Sincerely
Paul K. Leira

Client Concierge
Toronto, Canada

Conclusion

 

Representatives from Amsia Motors have come to Brazil promising billions of reals and thousands of jobs. They have taken advantage of a nation desperate for commerce. They have taken advantage of media outlets with no curiosity whatsoever. There is absolutely no proof or reason to believe that Amsia Motors has the ability to invest (Rs)$4 billion and run successful automobile factories. There is no proof that Amsia Motors actually exists. But there is plenty of proof that the Brazilian government and media has failed to do its job vetting Amsia Motors.

–WKW

Portuguese version here

Outbreak of Brazilian virgins has imaginary bidders lining up

January 27, 2013

When Justin Sisely announced that he planned to film a “Virgin Sells Virginity” porn, the media went wild, endlessly repeating a story based on nothing.

Now, that’s not a big surprise. What is a surprise is that after the announcement – heck, even before it – random dudes with lots of walking-around money started hurling incredible bids at Sisely, asking to be the male lead in said porno.

A little look back: As the story was repeated, Sisely had planned on making a “documentary” about the life and devirginizing of a virgin. He planned to do this by flying the virgin – Catarina Migliorini – away from her friends and family so they wouldn’t talk her out o it. Then, because what he planned to do was legally prostitution everywhere, he said he’d put the couple on the airplane, film the sex scene and then everyone would be impressed what a nifty little pornographer pimp filmmaker he is and then – money.

Anyway, Migliorini has never seen the money or done the act, as far as can be verified, but she has appeared on the cover of Brazilian Playboy, and she most definitely got paid.

Now comes the latest virgin sale (I hope they realize this racket market could get saturated soon). One Rebbeca Bernardo – shenned by the mega-popular reality show “Big Brother Brasil” – has put her virginity to the highest bidder.

 

Bernardo said she looked for jobs and tried selling cosmetics and working as a waitress, but without a high school degree, the pay was minimal.

“I would get 150 reais ($75) for working all day, which would just pay the salary of someone to stay with my mother,” she said, after patiently feeding her mother a plate of reheated spaghetti.

Ok, hit the breaks. The R$150 amount she tosses out is five times the Brazilian minimum wage. I’m going to guess I could round up quite a few Americans that’d take $75 a day right about now. How exactly is this 18-year-old without a high school degree able to make this amount? Waitressing?

As for her mother’s care, one important point must be brought up – This is Brazil. The national motto is “We’ve Got a Social Program For That.”

Doesn’t add up, not at all. Probably because it’s yet another attention-seking hoax:

There are questions surrounding the authenticity of Bernardo’s altruism. A Brazilian TV network offered to pay for her mother’s medical expenses if Bernardo called off the auction. While she initially accepted the offer during a television interview, she later rejected it because the network would not pay for a house in a different town where she could “start a new life.”

So here’s the thing – there are no bids. Right now, the burden of proof is on Sisely and Bern. Show us the money. Because let’s think about this so-called billing for a moment.
For Sisely, somehow, a magical, out of nowhere, based on nothing $170,000 bid appeared from one “Jack Miller,” and it luckily came before anyone even knew Sisely was in the virgin-sales business. Now, news organizations like CNN are reporting it as $780,000. Just because no money has changed hands and likely never will is no reason to doubt this figure.

Now here’s something: If I was the type of guy who had $780,000, or even $170k, to toss away on one night of sex, I would probably be the type of guy who had a lawyer. A lawyer who would say “Gee, Bill, this is the worst idea ever. Really, ever. I can’t express how terrible this is morally, financially, and really, as a human it’s just heinous.”

Or words to that effect.

Seriously, this doesn’t require too large a dose of skeptical thinking – $780,000. For one night. With someone who may or may not be a virgin. In an airplane. Being filmed. Try this, tho – there is no money, no bidder, no nothing. It’s all been a PR stunt.

I’d say going with the latter seems the correct call right now.

Anyway, I expect this virgin prostituting idea to pop up again. Why not? The first one worked out so well. Getting in Playboy is a big deal down here. Just know that this trend was not created by Sisely – it was created by a media that finds critical thinking takes way too much time when you can just copy and paste. Plus, you can then have people write stories about the decline of the world’s morality.

But right now, none of this is actually a story. It’s all just a rumor.

 –WKW


Brazilian girl to auction her virginity for “documentary,” but apparently not for charity

October 8, 2012

This is an update to my original post “Brazilian girl auctioning off virginity for a documentary? I doubt it.”  Since that original post, I have heard back via e-mail from Justin Sisley – the young man who is claiming to be making a documentary about a male and female virgin who are auctioning off their virginity.

While Sisely was none too thrilled about about my thought that the whole project could be a hoax, he answered few of the questions I had asked. The questions he did answer just created more questions, however.

For instance, in regard to why the female “star” of his documentary – Catarina Migliorini – was in Indonesia now, Sisely had this to say:

“Catarina is in Indonesia because we could not get her into Australia, she has had three visa refusals and been turned away from New Zealand, twice!,” wrote Sisely. “Bali was the next closest place to Australia, where my contacts and crew were. For the auction to be legal and in Nevada (USA) the virgins would have to get working visas. Catarina can not even get a tourist visa to Australia, what chance does she have of getting a working visa to America?”

The visa issue does jibe with reality, as it is common for Brazilians to struggle getting visas to other countries, at times. This, however, creates questions of how Sisely plans on having the sexual encounter occur on an airplane (it was originally reported that Sisely was to have a private plane take Migliorini and her winning bidder from Australia to the U.S. so they could consummate in the air, where apparently he believes prostitution is legal.

A comment that truly struck me, however, was why he had taken Migliorini away from Brazil in the first place:

“This is an extremely difficult film to make, it is not only difficult to avoid legalities it has been extremely difficult to find the virgins who can see it through to the end. The reason I choose a Brazilian virgin was to take her out of her environment where she was less likely to be influenced by family and friends and therefore more likely to stay committed to the project,” wrote Sisely.

Te question that arises in my mind: If this were truly meant to be a documentary, wouldn’t the “virgin’s” interactions with family and friends be a big part of the story? If the documentary is solely about her losing her virginity (to a bidder who has paid $190,000 for the honor), then it really is more about filming an act of prostitution.

Sisely has not responded to other questions from me, aside from pointing out he has directed documentaries before.

Another side of the story comes from Huffington Post’s Weird News, where writer David Moye spoke with Sisely and the first crack in the media’s poor effort in covering the story came out. In her statement, Migliorini said she would use a big part of her earnings from the documentary for charitable purposes, something Sisely said he was unaware of:

“I was surprised she said that because in all my dealings with her, she made it clear that it was a business decision for her,” Australian filmmaker Justin Sisely said in an exclusive interview. “Now, given how big this story is in Brazil, she’s trapped. If she doesn’t give any money to charity, she’s going to look bad.”

In regard to how to prove the virginity of Migliorini, Sisely gave an answer that would make Todd Akin proud:

“There is apparently a test that can tell if a penis has been inserted into her,” Sisely said.

I’ll let you know more about this story should Sisely write me back and answer any pertinent questions, such as how the bidding got to $190,000 in just a few days, whether or not Sisely will film the encounters, why no one in the production seems to use social media, and others.

My current opinion is that Sisely got a lot of attention for this idea, but is struggling to get it to come to fruition and didn’t realize just how difficult the whole undertaking would be.

If the project is what it says it is, it is clearly a filmed act of prostitution. But there is still no saying for sure whether the project is what Sisely claims it is, as his comments on it have been vague and incomplete. It still could be just performance art, or pornography. Or it could all be an attention-grabbing hoax. Or perhaps an ill-conceived idea that has gotten away from Sisely. Time will tell. Should I hear again from Sisely, I’ll let you know.

–WKW

Brazilian girl auctioning off virginity for a documentary? I doubt it

October 2, 2012

It seems like every four years or so, a story or person comes to my attention. In 2008, it was Martin Eisenstadt. In 2012, so far, it’s “Virgins Wanted.”

A couple days ago, I noticed a story making the rounds on the Internet about a young Brazilian girl that had agreed to sell off her virginity to the highest bidder. This “auction” is being held by one Justin Sisely, who is apparently in the process of making a documentary about her experience, as well as the experience of a male who is also auctioning his virginity.

Sisely has been at this project for more than two years now, as Sisely made news in his native Australia in 2010 by announcing his search for virgins.

Bidding apparently began on Sept. 18 and has now risen to $190,000 for female virgin Catarina Migliorini by an American bidder named Jack Miller, who just edged out another American, Martin Robinson, who bid $180,000. The highest bid for male virgin – Russian Alexander Stepanov – is currently at $1,300.

Now, thus far, Sisely’s planned film has drawn reams of criticism, mostly of the moral indignation type.

Myself, I have no moral qualms about what Sisely is trying to do. Mostly, because I think it’s probably bollocks. The reasons are numerous and have sent my Debunk Alert to level Red. Some of the reasons I find the whole “Virgins Wanted” project hard to believe:

To Film or Not to Film

In 2010, Sisely made it clear that the “documentary” would definitely include video of the “virgins” having sex. From the New York Daily News:

“Our camera follows the principal cast … as they shed their virginity to a complete stranger in front of a worldwide audience.”

From Migliorini’s statement:

“Of course, my first time will not be filmed. This is not porn, otherwise I would die of shame. The producer will shoot until I get on the plane.”

The Bids

While the latest stories about “Virgins Wanted” came out on Oct. 1, the “bidding” for the virgins started on Sept. 18. In just two weeks, Migliorini’s virginity has received seven bids of more than $50,000, with the leading bid (made on Oct. 1) at $190,000. There is no way to validate this.

The Production Company

The production company behind the documentary – Thomas William Productions – has, at best, done some wedding videos.

Web Sites and Social Media

The Virgins Wanted Web site as it currently stands was created just a couple months ago. The young Sisely, Migliorini, Stepanov, as well as “Virgins Wanted” have minimal exposure on social media.

About the Virgins

Thus far, the media has had little to no access to either of the two “virgins.” Migliorini gave Fohla de Sao Paulo a statement, and that statement is where all her quotes have come from in other stories. Stepanov has been included in a story with Russia Slam, but it is impossible to know if he was personally interviewed or released a statement like Migliorini.

Other Issues and Questions

  • Sisely says the sexual encounters with the virgins will take place on a private plane between the U.S. and Australia, thus getting by any nation’s prostitution laws (say what you will, but this is prostitution). International airspace is not a free-for-all zone of sin and lawlessness.
  • Migliorini said she and Stepanov are currently in Indonesia filming the documentary. Why Indonesia?
  • How exactly are Migliorini and Stepanov being tested to verify their virginity?
  • Stepanov was one of the original virgins selected in 2009 when “Virgins Wanted” was originally conceived. After Australia made it clear that the filming of such a documentary would be illegal, the encounters were supposed to be filmed in Las vegas. Why did the first female “virgin” pull out of the project and when and how the Las Vegas angle fall apart?
  • Why do all the promotional videos (well, all three of them) feel staged? You can see them all here.

Basically, let me wrap this up as I see it: An unheard of director is working with an unheard of producer. Two years ago, they floated out the idea of auctioning off virgins and filming the sexual encounters. Two years later, they are back and say the sex will happen by the end of the month.

We know nothing verifiable about Migliorini, and in her video she does not mention “Virgins Wanted.”. Stepanov, we know a little from his video, a video that included his mother telling him “you’re not adapting to life.” We know nothing of the bidders, who are supposedly up to $190,000 for one hour with the female. The two “virgins” are right now in Indonesia being filmed. They will then go to Australia, to fly a private plane to the U.S., so they can have sex in the air without being arrested for prostitution.

The sex may or may not be filmed. The sex may or may not actually happen. The two “virgins” may not be virgins. The bids may not exist. The entire enterprise may not even exist.

It’s very possible that Sisely is trying to do exactly what he says. It’s also possible he’s just doing a porn and getting it some great publicity. It’s also possible that he’s just hoaxing everyone for the hell of it.

My personal opinion is that something stinks with this story.

But I don’t really take issue with Sisely, and have made attempts to contact him. My issue is with a careless and foolish media that sees a story titled “Brazilian Girl Auctioning Off Her Virginity!” and decide to run with it, regardless of how many holes there are in the story or the fact that they can’t verify any of it. It’s a story for Internet hits. Accuracy be damned.

I’ll revisit this topic soon as I research more on it and hopefully will speak with Mr. Sisely via e-mail in the near future. I currently don’t know the full truth behind “Virgins Wanted,” but I will.

–WKW

 

Shark hoax or not, It’ll still freak out my sharkapohobic wife

August 26, 2011

Sure, this photo is a hoax, but it’ll still freak out my wife, so I’ll post it anyway.

Here’s where the shark came from, BTW:

–WKW

My Love Letter to Jim Carrey

August 25, 2011

Jim, if I were any gayer, I’d marry you. But since that can’t happen, could you denounce your insane and factually wrong anti-vax statements. Vaccines don’t cause autism, Jim. Saying they do hurts children.

–WKW

CoalCares.org is satire

May 10, 2011

Head on over to CoalCares.org and take a look at the work they’ve done creating a spoof Web site for the purpose of creating discussion on the harm of coal plants and rising asthma rates.

A snippet from the site:

Another way Peabody is showing we care is by making it easier for families to purchase the medication that goes into each free inhaler actuator. Sign up now for the chance to obtain a $10 coupon off your child’s next prescription for asthma medication. Also, for every 1,000 inhaler actuators donated via Coal Cares™, Peabody will make a $500 donation towards the cost of one lung-replacement therapy. Order your Puff-Puff™ today!

It seems some are taking the site seriously, which I imagine doesn’t much matter to the CleanCoal.org folks. Obviously the hope is that the wacky site will go viral. FastCompany.com is looking into who’s behind it and has a quote from Peabody Energy (who is supposedly “sponsoring” the site):

Beth Sutton, from Peabody, who sounds like she’s not having a great day, sent us a statement extolling the benefits of coal use and energy production and confirming the site is fake:

Earlier today, an activist group released a “spoof” website claiming to be sponsored by Peabody Energy. The site is in fact a hoax, making inaccurate claims abou

Bill O’Reilly discovers violence – and palm trees – in Wisconsin

March 1, 2011

It seems Bill O’Reilly and Fox News have discovered violent protesters in Wisconsin:

 

Note the palm trees at the 14 second mark. To paraphrase O’Reilly, how did palm trees get in Wisconsin? God only knows.

Update: Seems Mike Tobin is living in an alternate universe in Wisconsin.

–WKW

Bill Gates speaks truth: “Those anti-vaccine efforts — they kill children”

March 1, 2011

Talking to CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Bill Gates minced no words in stating his opinion on anti-vaxxers and fraudulent researcher Andrew Wakefield:

“So it’s an absolute lie that has killed thousands of kids. Because the mothers who heard that lie, many of them didn’t have their kids take either pertussis or measles vaccine, and their children are dead today. And so the people who go and engage in those anti-vaccine efforts — you know, they, they kill children. It’s a very sad thing, because these vaccines are important.”

The strong language Gates used is necessary, because facts aren’t working on those who ignorantly fear vaccinations. And they are putting all children at risk, not just their own. Two years ago, I wrote a post titled “Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy want your children to die,” after Carrey penned a ridiculous column, rehashing long-debunked theories vaccinations. In that, I wrote this:

The studies are in. The vaccine program is a not a vast conspiracy. It is a successful program that has literally wiped many dangerous illnesses off the continent. The only conspiracy on the subject is the one endlessly and ignorantly pursued by Carrey and McCarthy.

There is only one way left to go with the ant-vaxxer crowd – let them know over and over again that they are child killers. Because it’s the truth. And that truth is just not sinking in.

–WKW

 

Noah’s Ark located in Turkey! (except it wasn’t)

April 27, 2010

In keeping with the theme of the previous post, big-time journalists like Matt Drudge and Andrew Breitbart are now promoting a story that Noah’s Ark has been located in Turkey. Fox News is also giving the story ample PR.

Drudge links to a story at the UK Sun:

THE remains of Noah’s Ark have been discovered 13,000ft up a Turkish mountain, it has been claimed.

A group of Chinese and Turkish evangelical explorers say they have found wooden remains on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey.

They claim carbon dating proves the relics are 4,800 years old — around the same time the ark was said to be afloat.

Somehow, biblical discoveries are only made by evangelists and UFO discoveries are only made by UFO fetishists. Go figure.

Breitbart even includes video:

Now that’s journalism you can believe in. The only problem? It’s complete and utter bollocks. First off, there was no “Noah’s Ark” so there’s nothing to find. Secondly, the story is bollocks.

Remember, kids, when you see stories about UFOs, Noah’s Ark and other such things, they all share one common thread – they are not true. Ever.

Update: Hey, how about that. It was a hoax.

–WKW

Humanoid extraterrestrials are living amongst us! (except, they aren’t)

April 27, 2010

Over at the American Chronicle, they’ve made a discovery of galactic proportions – they have discovered that space aliens live amongst us!

From the American Chronicle:

According to accounts released Saturday, April 24, 2010, by the coordinator of an e-mail news and information service, officials of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) and other U.S. government agencies have been involved in security activities involving human-appearing extraterrestrial beings in the U.S.

Victor Martinez, the e-mail information coordinator, is a former federal employee with an interest in space, defense and current affairs. Recipients of his e-mail news items include a wide variety of people interested in emerging and leading-edge scientific and other developments.

So, what should normal Americans do now that there’s been a story published that humanoid ETs are roaming the landscape? Absolutely nothing. The story is what we in the business like to call “ET BS.”

Find more on the untrue story at Joint Recon Study Group. While I don’t mean to disrespect the authors, let me re-iterate – it’s just not true. My proof? These stories are never true. They rely on shady, possibly invented sources, and they never include any type of scientific backing.

So sorry folks, with the possible exception of Orly Taitz, there are no ETs walking amongst us.

–WKW

No, vaccines don’t cause autism

March 15, 2010

From a U.S. federal court, comes the latest inconvenient truth for antivaxxers to deal with:

A federal court ruled Friday that the evidence supporting an alleged causal link between autism and a mercury-containing preservative in vaccines is unpersuasive, and that the families of children diagnosed with autism are not entitled to compensation.

Special masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims released more than 600 pages of findings after reviewing three test cases and finding all the claims wanting.

“Petitioners’ theory of vaccine-related causation is scientifically unsupportable,” wrote Special Master Patricia Campbell-Smith in her conclusion about William P. Mead, whose parents, George and Victoria Mead, had brought one of the suits.

“In the absence of a sound medical theory causally connecting William’s received vaccines to his autistic condition, the undersigned cannot find the proposed sequence of cause and effect to be logical or temporally appropriate. Having failed to satisfy their burden of proof under the articulated legal standard, petitioners cannot prevail on their claim of vaccine-related causation.”

No worries, I’m sure Arianna Huffington will give Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy a chance to lie away any of the least latest damnation of their absurd and dangerous theories. For the rest of us, the evidence against it is completely overwhelming. As Bad Astronomer Phil Plait wrote:

These are people who (very incorrectly) think that vaccines are linked to autism. It has been shown, conclusively, that no such link exists. Every time an antivaxxer is shown this data, they move the goalposts, claiming it’s some other vaccine feature causing autism, or cite outdated and flawed studies. The problem (for them) is, you can show that the number of autism cases diagnosed is totally unrelated to vaccines. They deny this, they spin, they distract, but in the end this simple fact proves them wrong.

We need vaccines. We have stopped smallpox cold with vaccines. Rubella, measles, and pertussis can be stopped. Where antivaxxers have sown distrust in vaccines, these diseases have been making a comeback, and kids have died.

Whatever the reasons behind the Antivaxxer movement, it must stop. It’s based on lies and there is nothing noble about pursuing false logic. Vaccines don’t cause autism.

–WKW

Sarah Palin went to Canada for health care? Much ado about Skagway

March 8, 2010

Liberal blogs are abuzz today about Sarah Palin’s admission that her family crossed the border from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse in Canada to receive health care for her brother:

“My first five years of life we spent in Skagway, Alaska, right there by Whitehorse. Believe it or not – this was in the ‘60s – we used to hustle on over the border for health care that we would receive in Whitehorse. I remember my brother, he burned his ankle in some little kid accident thing and my parents had to put him on a train and rush him over to Whitehorse and I think, isn’t that kind of ironic now. Zooming over the border, getting health care from Canada.”

Now, while it’s easy to spot the political stupidity of her bringing up this story, there does need to be a non-knee-jerk response to it. Mainly, the fact that her family was in Skagway. In the 1960s.

I actually spent a summer working as a reporter for the Skagway News. In the summer, with cruise ships pouring in, the population of the Southeastern town explodes to about 2,000. But the fact is, year-round, the population of Skagway is in the neighborhood of 800. It’s not exactly a great place to spend your winters. Or to get health care for serious issues.

Skagway is a town with limited access, in or out. It’s also not a place where it’s likely they can handle severe burns. Maybe in 2010 they can, but it’s almost a certainty that they couldn’t in the 1960s. I’d be willing to wager that any major medical problem would end up being taken care of Whitehorse, which is by far the closest big city around.

Add to that the fact that Canada’s Universal Health Care program wasn’t truly in full effect until 1966*; it was Palin’s parents that made the journey; and they most likely paid for it.

So while mocking Palin is rightfully a national sport at this point, and the timing and content of her remark was politically stupid, it’s really a non-starter. And poor political discourse.

Update: While the “Getting free health care in Canada” story is still a non-starter, the Anchorage Daily News, among others, has noted that Palin originally told The Skagway News that her brother had been taken via ferry to Juneau.

Head to the crossposted version of this story at Dagblog, where you’ll see comments from the editor of The Skagway News on this story.

* Some confusion on this. Here’s the link to a time line of Canada’s health care system.

–WKW

Review: The Patrick Byrne & Overstock.com Show

January 15, 2010

For those of you that enjoy a good serial, I whole-heartedly advise you to spend a little time paying attention to Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne. Because, day-in, day-out, Byrne delivers the goods.

Emotional, paranoid, afraid and angry simultaneously at all times, Byrne is to corporate drama what Meryl Streep is to Hollywood drama. The set-up for the latest episode is apparently an upcoming article by former Fortune and New York Post reporter Roddy Boyd.

In a 5,000-word pre-emptive strike essay at the “All Overstock.com Enemies Must Be Destroyed” Propaganda site DeepCapture.com, Byrne takes time off his CEO duties to pen a 5,000-word diatribe against Boyd.

Some Highlights from: “In Today’s Episode of “Nothing New Under the Sun”: Roddy Boyd Sucks it like he’s paying the rent, Exhibit Z” (after waking up, Byrne apparently crawled back some on the headline, btw), Byrne had these gems:

  • “that’s him, just above the child porn guy.”
  • “[C]ompared to Roddy I’ve observed more intellect in a ice addict sitting on the floor of a 7-11 trying to remember how to cook meth out of Comet and Pam Spray, and more dignity in a crackhead living off $2 hand-jobs at the bus station.”
  • “Well we’re still here and doing quite well, thank you, while your patron David Rocker plays shuffleboard in Florida, muttering my name under his breath like a wino’s lament as he realizes that for years to come his own will give off a foul stench among the smart money set he so desperately aped. “
  • Roddy Boyd today emerged in possession of this material, which he proceeded to use in a clumsy attempt to reclaim his rightful seat at that ongoing hedge fund bukake gig in which he previously held starring role. (He ended up deleting this bit.)
  • “The Patrick Byrne & Overstock.com Show” is like an episode of “Desperate Housewives” gone horribly, horribly wrong. Sure, Byrne is adorable, and there are more lies than you can naked short sell, but – with Byrne writing late-night manifestos while his super-friend Judd Bagley is bragging to reporters about stalking – you get the nagging suspicion that this may all end with a hostage crisis.

    Still, what helps make “The Patrick Byrne & Overstock.com Show” even more of a fun watch is the supporting cast. There’s the aforementioned Bagley – easily one of the creepiest guys in the history of the Internet. And then there’s “Investigative Reporter” Mark Mitchell – easily one of the crappiest writers on the Internet. (Sidenote: Has anyone ever talked to, or seen Mitchell in the last year or so? Because his crappy writing is sure a lot like Byrne’s crappy writing. A possible new sub-plot?)

    But it’s Byrne’s show in the end. Emotional, fearful and spoiled, Byrne is a fascinating character. And with a corporate board at Overstock.com that may have gone the way of Mitchell for all we know, Byrne is free to act the petulant child at any and all slights, real or perceived.

    Of course, Gary Weiss spoiled the ending for all of us: “summed up in one word: Guilty.”

    Until then, however, enjoy the show. It’s a wonderful mix of comedy, SEC investigations, stalking, attacking critics and more. And in Byrne, the Overstock.com saga has a a breakthrough star. More Cliff Clavin than Montgomery Clift, Byrne strikes the perfect balance between paranoid victim and angry crook. With Byrne in the lead role, “The Patrick Byrne & Overstock.com Show” promises to be a hit for the foreseeable future – until it ends dramatically and suddenly. Say in six months or so.

    As for me, I’ll be anxiously awaiting the upcoming episode when Boyd’s article comes out.

    –WKW

    Media is terrified of Patrick Byrne & Overstock.com’s anti-privacy activities

    December 16, 2009

    Sometimes, as a journalist, blogger, or what have you, you come across a story you think has real meat on the bone. Such was my thinking when I saw that Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, had been mining Facebook to create some type of “enemies list.” The list included business writers, bloggers, as well as the children and families of said writers and bloggers.

    This, coming from Byrne, who is already under investigation by the SEC for the second time in recent memory, would make one believe there’s some type of story there. Think about it – the CEO of an online retailer is using Facebook to invade people’s privacy. You’d think this would be of some interest to someone. Somwhere.

    Thus far, however, from the mainstream media, there has been only crickets. Here’s what the MSM has put out on Byrne in the past few days. From the Tampa Tribune:
    [Read more]

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