First Lady of Lumen

— First Lady of Turkey Emine Erdoğan demands takedown of negative news reports

That’s according to the Lumen Database, a website that collects and analyses online takedown requests. In April, the site uploaded a Turkish court order complaint Erdoğan sent to Google and WordPress demanding the removal of news reports described as “damaging” to the “personality rights” of the First Lady.

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“Personality rights” refers to “the right of an individual to control the commercial use of his or her name, image, likeness, or other unequivocal aspects of one’s identity.”

Most of the targeted URLs, including one of the WordPress blogs, have since been removed from the web, making it difficult to determine the specifics of Erdoğan’s complaint.

From the remaining URLs, it appears that she objected to a blitz of negative news reports and images, including this image of her husband, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, wearing what appears to be a training bra on his head:

Definitely not a fez (source)

Elsewhere, the Turkish First Lady has targeted Turkish opposition paper Ulusal Kanal for reporting that she copied her Twitter bio from former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama. While the original link is no longer available, a duplicate of the story carries the headline: “Emine Erdoğan is disgraced in the world!”

The story was first reported in 2014 by former Pentagon advisor Michael Rubin, who wrote via the American Enterprise Institute:

When it comes to respect for Intellectual Property Rights, Turkey ranks quite poorly. If Turkey wants to reform, perhaps they should start at the top. When Recep Tayyip Erdoğan assumed the presidency last month, his wife Emine became first lady. It seems Emine models herself after Michelle Obama, right down to her twitter account.

The description on Michelle’s twitter account reads, “This account is run by Organizing for Action staff. Tweets from the First Lady are signed -mo.”

Now here’s the description from Emine Erdoğan’s twitter feed: “Emine Erdoğan Resmi Twitter Hesabı This account is run by Organizing for Action staff. Tweets from the First Lady are signed -mo.”

Then again, maybe it’s not shameless plagiarism in Turkey’s presidential palace. Maybe Emine Erdoğan really does use the initials ‘mo.’ And as for suggesting any impropriety that might undercut Emine’s vestal image, I’m sure we’re only a Turkish press conference away from blaming this scandal on Jews, the interest rate lobbyyours truly, that well-known personification of subversion Steven Cook, or the Gülenists.

As it happens, Turkish officials didn’t blame the Jews, instead blaming “anti-government forces” and claiming that the Twitter account was not operated by the Turkish First Lady.

Speaking to the Washington Free Beacon, Rubin gave his own interpretation:

“The account has been active since August,” Rubin said. “Turkey has taken the power to knock sites offline without court orders in a matter of minutes. The Turkish explanation beggars belief.”

“The fact that Emine Erdogan’s account continues—this time with its plagiarized description fixed—suggests that Emine’s handlers screwed up but were too proud to admit it,” Rubin said. “The whole incident is a metaphor for what Turkey has become: dishonest, dishonorable, but too proud to admit its fundamental corruption.”

Other targeted URLs include a Google blog post about Turkey’s nationwide Twitter ban, another since-deleted story that implicates the Turkish First Lady in a financial corruption scandal, and an article that appears to suggest that Turkish citizens who insult their government will be deported and have their citizenship revoked.

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It’s not the first time the Erdoğans have petitioned Google and WordPress to delete negative reports about themselves from the web.

Last year I blogged about successful attempts by the Turkish president to block a WordPress blog featuring satirical cartoons depicting him as a tyrannical dictator. That story was subsequently picked up by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Maren Williams (click here to read), and touched on by The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markey (click here to read).

Earlier this year, the easily offended president asked Google to delist “hurtful, humiliating” reports comparing him to Adolf Hitler. That story was subsequently picked up by Techdirt’s Tim Cushing (click here to read).

The Art of the Steal

— Did Trump plagiarise content from CNN and other major news networks on defunct Trump University blog?

Since taking office in January, the Trump administration has repeatedly accused the news media, particularly U.S. network CNN, of reporting so-called “fake news.”

However, it appears that from 2006-2010 Trump plagiarised content from around a dozen major news publishers, including CNN, USA Today, and the New York Times on his now-defunct Trump University blog (later re-named the Trump Initiative), a weekly column in which the former real estate mogul gave advice and opinions to budding entrepreneurs.

Here are a few of the most conspicuous examples (a full list is available by clicking here).


1a. From “Honestly, All of Us Are Liars” by Jocelyn Voo, CNN, January 21, 2008:

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Expert: Two kinds of lies – to help yourself, to protect others’ feelings
• People often tell little lies every day
Expert: Most white lies are told to strangers
Serious lies most often told to protect relationship

Admit it: At some point, you’ve lied. Maybe it was the time you told your aunt that her hand-knit holiday sweater was “exactly what you wanted.” Or when you explained to human resources that you’d missed the big company meeting because your grandmother died … again.

Take heart, though; you’re not Machiavellian. You’re just normal.

[…]

Most white lies (for instance, a person trying to present himself as more knowledgeable) are told to strangers.

Serious lies, she found, overwhelmingly are told to or by people close to the teller (such as a parent lying to her child about how sick a grandparent is), most often to protect that relationship.

[…]

Lying is not exactly extraordinary. In 2004, DePaulo asked college students at the University of Santa Barbara and members of the surrounding community to record every lie they told in one week. The results, published in “The Social Psychology of Good and Evil,” showed that college students lied at least once to 38 percent of the people they interacted with. Community members lied to 30 percent.

[…]

“In the abstract, it’s very easy to say, ‘Oh, we value honesty, and you should never lie,’” says DePaulo. But “sometimes in our real lives, our valuing of honesty clashes with something else we also value, like wanting to be gracious or kind or compassionate.”

In these ways, it’s unrealistic to be a completely Honest Abe.

1b. From “Honestly, All of Us Are Liars” by Donald Trump, Trump University, February 18, 2008:

Admit it. At some point it your life, you’ve lied. Maybe you tell white lies on a daily basis. Maybe you tell some all-out doozies. Whatever the case, don’t worry about it too much. You’re normal.

Experts say there are two kinds of lies – the lies that you tell to help yourself and the lies you tell to protect other people’s feelings, like when you tell someone they look good in that terrible pink-and-green tie.

Serious lies are most often told to protect relationships. That’s when people lie about cheating, for example. Obviously, they don’t want to get caught and they want to keep their marriages intact. Most white lies, however, are told to strangers.

Lying is not exactly extraordinary. During a recent study, people were asked to record every single lie they told in one week. The results showed that college students lied at least once to nearly 40 percent of the people they interacted with. The rest of the people lied to nearly one-third of the people. It’s amazing that lying is so second-nature to people.

So, I think it’s nice to say, “Don’t lie,” but it’s just not realistic. We do it to save other people’s feelings. We do it to protect ourselves. We do it to get what we want.

And sometimes it works.

2a. From “CEOs vouch for Waiter Rule: Watch how people treat staff” by Del Jones, USA Today, April 14, 2006:

You can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she treats the waiter.

[…]

And beware of anyone who pulls out the power card to say something like, “I could buy this place and fire you,” or “I know the owner and I could have you fired.” Those who say such things have revealed more about their character than about their wealth and power.

[…]

People view waiters as their temporary personal employees. Therefore, how executives treat waiters probably demonstrates how they treat their actual employees, says Sara Lee CEO Brenda Barnes, a former waitress and postal clerk, who says she is a demanding boss but never shouts at or demeans an employee.

[…]

Holtzman grew up in the coal-mining town of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and in the 1950s saw opportunity as a waiter 90 miles away in the Catskill Mountains, where customers did not tip until the end of the week. When they tipped poorly, he would say: “Sir, will you and your wife be tipping separately?”

2b. From “The Waiter Rule” by Donald Trump, Trump University, April 28, 2006:

Occasionally in the business world, I’ve heard people refer to something called “The Waiter Rule.” Simply put, how you treat a waiter or a waitress reveals a lot about your character. It may sound insignificant, but over the years I’ve found respect to play a significant role in wealth creation.

You would be amazed at how poorly some people treat waiters and waitresses. They yell at them if they forget an order or spill a drink. They threaten to have them fired, or even demand to speak to a supervisor. Their actions speak volumes and reveal more about their character than anything they could say or do in the most impressive business meetings or boardrooms.

[…]

How you treat a waiter demonstrates how you would most likely treat your actual employees. It shows the true makeup of your personality and your true disposition. You might be a demanding boss, but it doesn’t mean you have to be a demeaning and nasty one.

So think twice the next time you sit down at a table and get ready to order. And don’t forget to leave a big tip.

3a. From “One ‘Bad Apple’ Does Spoil the Whole Workplace” by JoAnne Allen, Reuters, February 12, 2007:

One “bad apple” can spread negative behavior like a virus to bring down officemates or destroy a good team, according to a new study examining conflict in the workplace.

Negative behavior outweighs positive behavior, so a bad apple can spoil the whole barrel, but one or two good workers can’t “unspoil” it, researchers at the University of Washington said in the current issue of the journal Research in Organizational Behavior.

“Companies need to move quickly to deal with such problems because the negativity of just one individual is pervasive and destructive and can spread quickly,” said co-author Terence Mitchell, a professor of management and organization.

If a bad apple slips through screening in the hiring process, he or she should be placed to work alone as much as possible, the study’s lead author, William Felps, said.

3b. From “One Bad Apple” by Donald Trump, Trump University, February 25, 2007:

In nearly every workplace, there’s “one bad apple” – someone whose negative attitude is so apparent that it’s a deterrent to everyone else in the office.

It turns out that the old adage is true. One bad apple can truly spoil the whole barrel. A person with a negative attitude can spread those negative feelings like a dangerous virus, bringing down the rest of the office and destroying an otherwise healthy and well-functioning team.

A new study from researchers at the University of Washington examined conflict in the workplace. It found that negative behavior has much more of an impact than positive behavior. So while negative people can spoil an entire office environment, a couple of positive good workers can’t “unspoil” it.

“Companies need to move quickly to deal with such problems because the negativity of just one individual is pervasive and destructive and can spread quickly,” said co-author Terence Mitchell, a professor of management and organization.

[…]

Ideally, bad apples shouldn’t be hired in the first place. When you’re hiring, avoid people who in general appear combative or disagreeable. It’s a sure omen of negativity in the future.

But if it’s too late and there’s already a negative person in place in your organization, the best you can do is keep him or her working alone as much as possible. The less interaction those negative people have with the rest of your team, the better. That way, their toxic attitudes won’t spread.

4a. From “Italy Posts Income Details on Web,” BBC News, May 1, 2008:

There has been outrage in Italy after the outgoing government published every Italian’s declared earnings and tax contributions on the internet.

The tax authority’s website was inundated by people curious to know how much their neighbours, celebrities or sports stars were making.

The Italian treasury suspended the website after a formal complaint from the country’s privacy watchdog.

The information was put on the site with no warning for nearly 24 hours.

[…]

But it was also hugely popular, and within hours the site was overwhelmed and impossible to access.

The finance ministry described the move as a bid to improve transparency.

Deputy Economic Minister Vincenzo Visco said he could not understand what all the fuss was about.

4b. From “Italy Posts Salaries Online” by Donald Trump, Trump University, June 16, 2008:

There was a lot of outrage in Italy recently after the government published every citizen’s income on the Internet. The tax authority’s website was swamped with people snooping to see how much their neighbors and co-workers and celebrities earned.

Within hours of the site going up, it was so overwhelmed that it was nearly impossible to access.

But the site stayed up for nearly 24 hours until it was suspended after a formal complaint was filed. Although critics complained that it was an outrageous breach of privacy, some government officials said they didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.

5a. From “Poll Finds Growing Majority of Americans Avoiding Housing Market,” The New York Times, April 14, 2008:

A growing majority of Americans say they will not buy a home anytime soon, the latest sign of increasing pessimism about the country’s housing crisis, a poll showed Monday.

In a vivid sketch of how the sputtering real estate market is causing distress throughout the country, the Associated Press-AOL Money & Finance poll found that more than a quarter of homeowners worry that their home will lose value over the next two years.

Fully one in seven mortgage holders fear they will not be able to make their monthly payments on time over the next six months.

[…]

The growing reluctance to dip into the housing market seems to stem partly from worry that housing prices will continue falling – good if you are buying a house but bad if you have to sell one.

[…]

Gus Faucher, director of macroeconomics for Moody’s Economy.com, a consulting firm, estimated that nine million homeowners owe more on a home than it is worth. He said his company believed home sales were at or near bottom and home values would continue to fall until early next year.

5b. From “Afraid to Buy” by Donald Trump, Trump University, May 12, 2008:

It’s hardly a surprise but in the midst of today’s terrible economy and the nation’s housing crisis, the majority of Americans say they don’t plan to buy a home anytime soon.

In fact, more than a quarter of homeowners worry that their home will lose value over the next couple of years, and one in seven mortgage holders are afraid that they won’t be able to make their monthly payments in time over the next six months.

People are worried that housing prices will continue to fall which is good news if you want to buy but obviously terrible if you have a house to sell.

In addition, we have record-high foreclosure rates and an estimated 9 million homeowners actually owe more on their homes than they are actually worth. If you’re in that situation, the best thing you can do is to sit tight if you can and try to weather out the storm.

A different version of this item appeared on this blog on March 25, 2017.

The Art of the Steal

Did Trump plagiarise from “fake news” network CNN and other media networks on defunct Trump University blog?

Since taking office in January, the Trump administration has repeatedly accused US cable network CNN of reporting “fake news.”

However, it appears that in 2008 Trump plagiarised articles originally published to the CNN website on his now-defunct Trump University blog, a weekly column in which Trump gave advice to budding entrepreneurs.

For instance, in February 2008 Trump copied from an article published to CNN the previous month titled – somewhat ironically – “Honestly, All of Us Are Liars” by health and lifestyle reporter Jocelyn Voo.

On the Trump University blog, Trump wrote: “Admit it. At some point it your life, you’ve lied. Maybe you tell white lies on a daily basis. Maybe you tell some all-out doozies. Whatever the case, don’t worry about it too much. You’re normal.”

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On the CNN news website the previous month, Voo had written this strikingly similar paragraph: “Admit it: At some point, you’ve lied. Maybe it was the time you told your aunt that her hand-knit holiday sweater was ‘exactly what you wanted.’ Or when you explained to human resources that you’d missed the big company meeting because your grandmother died … again. Take heart, though; you’re not Machiavellian. You’re just normal.”

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Without attribution, Trump also copied elements from another article by Voo titled “Young Women Choosing Careers Over Love” – and in two later blog entries¹ copied from articles originally published to Reuters.²

In June last year, the New York Times reported that at least 20 pages of a Trump University textbook were copied from a book in a 1997 set titled “Real Estate Mastery System.”

In November, Trump agreed to pay $25 million to settle a number of lawsuits brought by former Trump University students who alleged they were defrauded out of thousands of dollars in tuition fees.

On that note, here’s a rather fitting quote from Trump’s old blog:

…I think it’s nice to say, “Don’t lie,” but it’s just not realistic. We do it to save other people’s feelings. We do it to protect ourselves. We do it to get what we want.

And sometimes it works.


¹Available to read by clicking here and here.
²Available to read by clicking here and here.