Tobbaco Company Threatens Countries Citing Out of Context Bad Faith Misrepresentations

actually reached out to Togo and ask to
see their correspondence with the
tobacco companies and they gave us this
EMI we had to translate it from French
but it was worth it because this thing
is almost comically appalled appalling
it informs Togo that plain packaging
laws would result in an incalculable
amount of international trade litigation
suggesting Togo would lose any legal
challenge by citing among other things
an Australian High Court decision which
they write concluded that plain
packaging constitutes a substantial
privation of property rights now the
court case they’re referring to is the
one from earlier you remember the one
tobacco companies lost so badly they had
to cover the court costs
and yet they
quote the one judge in that case who
ruled in favor of tobacco ignoring the
other six who called their case if you
remember delusive unreal and synthetic
and saying it had fatal defects that’s
like when a shitty movie engineers a
good review out of a bad one like
Mordecai is a pile of dot dot dot great

bits letter is bullshit and yet Togo
justifiably terrified by threats of
billion dollar settlements backed down
from a public health law that many
people wanted and it’s not just Togo
British American Tobacco sent a similar
letter to Namibia and one of their
subsidiaries sent one to the Solomon
Islands a country with a population of
600,000 at this point it’s safe to say
if you live in an apartment with at
least two other people and you asked one
of them to please smoke outside you can
look forward to a letter from a tobacco
company very soon
look I could get angry and I could call
tobacco companies assholes or monsters
or open sores on Satan’s dick but
instead instead instead let’s rise above
it and let’s try and broker peace
because it’s clear what each side wants
countries want to warn their citizens
about the health dangers of smoking
tobacco tobacco companies want to be
able to present branded images that they
have spent time and money to cultivate
so may I suggest a compromise I present
to you the new face of Marlboro Jeff the
diseased lung in a cowboy hat
we are offering two F to you Philip
Morris International to use as you wish
put him on your billboards put him on
some ads in fact and don’t be mad we’ve
we’ve already started doing that for you
this is an actual billboards that is in
Montevideo right now and people seem to
like it there because they like it
of course they look everyone loves Jeff
the diseased lung in a cowboy hat oh one
more thing
um to be completely honest we didn’t
just do it in Uruguay because we also
and don’t be mad we made some Jeff
branded t-shirts and we ship them to
Togo yesterday where they’ve been quite
a hit and if you don’t believe me check
this out
Jeff’s already out there you just need
to claim him
our lawyers unlike yours will not sue
and and I know our viewers would love to
help you get the message out there in
fact you can tweet about Jeff using the
hashtag Jeff we can to get in trending
worldwide and get pmos attention post
Jeff’s photo on Google+ and tag him Mull
bruh which might push him to the top of
Marlboros Google Image Search we can do
this everyone don’t be a maybe about
because he’s definitely suffering from
emphysema on your stress enough you do
not market to children kids love Jeff
don’t you kids

Jane Mayer, “Dark Money”

In her fourth book Mayer draws on court records, extensive interviews, and many private archives to examine the growing political influence of extreme libertarians among the one percent, such as the Koch brothers, tracing their ideas about taxation and government regulation and their savvy use of lobbyists to further an agenda that advances their own interests at the expense of meaningful economic, environmental, and labor reform.

Postmodernism didn’t cause Trump. It explains him.

We get the term “postmodern,” at least in its current, philosophical sense, from the title of Jean-François Lyotard’s 1979 book, “The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge.” It described the state of our era by building out Lyotard’s observations that society was becoming a “consumer society,” a “media society” and a “postindustrial society,” as postmodern theorist Fredric Jameson points out in his foreword to Lyotard’s book. Lyotard saw these large-scale shifts as game-changers for art, science and the broader question of how we know what we know. This was a diagnosis, not a political outcome that he and other postmodernist theorists agitated to bring about.

.. Jacques Derrida’s concept of “deconstruction” sought to understand language as a system capable of constantly hiding and deferring meaning, rather than a simple conduit for conveying it.
Another thinker, Jean Baudrillard, developed the concept of the “simulacrum,” a copy without an original, that leads to the “hyperreal,” a collection of signs or images purporting to represent something that actually exists (such as photos of wartime combat) but ultimately portraying a wild distortion not drawn from reality.
.. By the 1980s, conservative scholars like Allan Bloom — author of the influential “The Closing of the American Mind” — challenged postmodern theorists, not necessarily for their diagnosis of the postmodern condition but for accepting that condition as inevitable.
.. Unlike so many of today’s critics, Bloom understood that postmodernism didn’t emerge simply from the pet theories of wayward English professors. Instead, he saw it as a cultural moment brought on by forces greater than the university.
.. Bloom was particularly worried about students — as reflections of society at large — pursuing commercial interests above truth or wisdom. Describing what he saw as the insidious influence of pop music, Bloom lamented “parents’ loss of control over their children’s moral education at a time when no one else is seriously concerned with it.” He called the rock music industry “perfect capitalism, supplying to demand and helping create it,” with “all the moral dignity of drug trafficking.”
.. Kimball called “Tenured Radicals,” in his 1990 polemic against the academic left. At the heart of this accusation is the tendency to treat postmodernism as a form of left-wing politics — with its own set of tenets — rather than as a broader cultural moment that left-wing academics diagnosed.
.. it treats Lyotard and his fellows as proponents of a world where objective truth loses all value, rather than analysts who wanted to explain why this had already happened.
.. If you’re going to claim that Trumpism and alt-right relativism are consequences of the academic left’s supposition about what was happening, you must demonstrate a causal link. But commentators looking to trace these roots play so fast and loose with causality that they could easily be called postmodernist themselves.
.. It is certainly correct that today’s populist right employs relativistic arguments: For example, “identity politics” is bad when embraced by people of color, but “identitarianism” — white-nationalist identity politics — is good and necessary for white “survival.” But simply because this happens after postmodernism doesn’t mean it happens because of postmodernism
.. figures such as “intelligent design” theorist Phillip Johnson and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich cite the influence of postmodernist theory on their projects. Yet, as McIntyre acknowledges — and documents extensively in his book — right-wing think tanks and corporate-backed fronts — like tobacco industry “research” — had already established an “alternative facts” program for the right, long before creative misinformation entrepreneurs came around.
.. because reading postmodern theory is so notoriously difficult — partly because of how philosophical jargon gets translated, and partly because so much of the writing is abstruse and occasionally unclarifiable — an undergraduate (as in Cernovich’s case) or a layperson will almost inevitably come away with misreadings.
.. Hannah Arendt’s 1951 “The Origins of Totalitarianism”: “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction . . . and the distinction between true and false . . . no longer exist.” 
.. “The deliberate falsehood and the outright lie used as legitimate means to achieve political ends,” writes Arendt in her 1971 essay “Lying in Politics ,” “have been with us since the beginning of recorded history.”
.. Fredric Jameson’s reflections on conspiracy theory (“the poor person’s cognitive mapping in the postmodern age”) aren’t what’s convincing people to believe that climate change is a hoax or that the Democratic Party has been running a pedophilia ring out of a Washington pizza parlor.

.. Likewise, the claim that the Trump-Russia investigation is — as Trump said on national television — a “made-up story,” an “excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election,” is not a postmodernist critique of the evidence the Mueller investigation has gathered. So it’s a massive category error to call Trump’s post-truth politics “postmodernist.” It’s just the say-anything chicanery of the old-fashioned sales pitch.

.. it’s clear that the real enemy of truth is not postmodernism but propaganda, the active distortion of truth for political purposes.
Trumpism practices this form of distortion on a daily basis. The postmodernist theorists we vilify did not cause this; they’ve actually given us a framework to understand precisely how falsehood can masquerade as truth.

CDC Director Quits After Report She Bought Tobacco Stocks

Brenda Fitzgerald already had prompted concern that her investments compromised her ability to discuss some issues handled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Fitzgerald’s resignation came less than a day after Politico reported she had bought shares in Japan Tobacco Inc. shortly after she became director of an agency whose leading priorities include preventing smoking and tobacco use. Dr. Fitzgerald had also owned stock in five other tobacco companies before she became CDC director, Politico said.

Inside Philip Morris’ campaign to subvert the global anti-smoking treaty

The object of these clandestine activities: the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, or FCTC, a treaty aimed at reducing smoking globally. Reuters has found that Philip Morris International is running a secretive campaign to block or weaken treaty provisions that save millions of lives by curbing tobacco use.

.. Philip Morris International says there is nothing improper about its executives engaging with government officials. “As a company in a highly regulated industry, speaking with governments is part of our everyday business,” Tony Snyder, vice president of communications, said in a statement in response to Reuters’ findings. “The fact that Reuters has seen internal emails discussing our engagement with governments does not make those interactions inappropriate.”

.. Between 2007 and 2014, more than 53 million people in 88 countries stopped smoking because those nations imposed stringent anti-smoking measures recommended by the WHO, according to their December 2016 study. Because of the treaty, an estimated 22 million smoking-related deaths will be averted, the researchers found.

.. “The tobacco industry continues to be the most important barrier in implementation of the Convention.”

.. There has been only a slight 1.9 percent decline in global cigarette sales since the treaty took effect in 2005, and more people smoked daily in 2015 than a decade earlier, studies show. The Thomson Reuters Global Tobacco Index, which tracks tobacco stocks, has risen more than 100 percent in the past decade, largely due to price increases.

“Some people think that with tobacco, you’ve won the battle,” said former Finnish Health Minister Pekka Puska, who chaired an FCTC committee last year. “No way,” he said. “The tobacco industry is more powerful than ever.”

With 600 corporate affairs executives, according to a November 2015 internal email, Philip Morris has one of the world’s biggest corporate lobbying arms. That army, and $7 billion-plus in annual net profit, gives Philip Morris the resources to overwhelm the FCTC.

.. Leading the operation was executive Chris Koddermann. Formerly a lawyer and lobbyist in Canada, Koddermann joined Philip Morris in 2010. He is now a director of regulatory affairs in Lausanne. The PowerPoint describes the ideal corporate affairs executive as someone who is able to “play the political game.” Koddermann previously worked for federal and provincial cabinet ministers in Canada, according to his LinkedIn profile.

.. In Moscow, one proposal initially called for carving out tobacco from trade pacts. International trade treaties often include provisions, such as the protection of trademarks, that Philip Morris has used to challenge anti-smoking measures. If tobacco were taken out of the treaties, as suggested by the proposal, Philip Morris could be deprived of many such legal arguments.

The Problem With Facts

Just before Christmas 1953, the bosses of America’s leading tobacco companies met John Hill, the founder and chief executive of one of America’s leading public relations firms, Hill & Knowlton. Despite the impressive surroundings — the Plaza Hotel, overlooking Central Park in New York — the mood was one of crisis.

Scientists were publishing solid evidence of a link between smoking and cancer. From the viewpoint of Big Tobacco, more worrying was that the world’s most read publication, The Reader’s Digest, had already reported on this evidence in a 1952 article, “Cancer by the Carton”. The journalist Alistair Cooke, writing in 1954, predicted that the publication of the next big scientific study into smoking and cancer might finish off the industry.

.. So successful was Big Tobacco in postponing that day of reckoning that their tactics have been widely imitated ever since. They have also inspired a thriving corner of academia exploring how the trick was achieved.

.. In 1995, Robert Proctor, a historian at Stanford University who has studied the tobacco case closely, coined the word “agnotology”. This is the study of how ignorance is deliberately produced ..

.. In the UK’s EU referendum, the Leave side pushed the false claim that the UK sent £350m a week to the EU. It is hard to think of a previous example in modern western politics of a campaign leading with a transparent untruth, maintaining it when refuted by independent experts, and going on to triumph anyway.

.. The instinctive reaction from those of us who still care about the truth — journalists, academics and many ordinary citizens — has been to double down on the facts.

.. The link between cigarettes and cancer was supported by the world’s leading medical scientists and, in 1964, the US surgeon general himself. The story was covered by well-trained journalists committed to the values of objectivity. Yet the tobacco lobbyists ran rings round them.

  1. First, the industry appeared to engage, promising high-quality research into the issue. The public were assured that the best people were on the case.
  2. .. The second stage was to complicate the question and sow doubt: lung cancer might have any number of causes, after all.  And wasn’t lung cancer, not cigarettes, what really mattered?
  3. .. Stage three was to undermine serious research and expertise. Autopsy reports would be dismissed as anecdotal, epidemiological work as merely statistical, and animal studies as irrelevant.
  4. Finally came normalisation: the industry would point out that the tobacco-cancer story was stale news. Couldn’t journalists find something new and interesting to say?

.. “It’s as if the president’s team were using the tobacco industry’s playbook,” says Jon Christensen

.. One infamous internal memo from the Brown & Williamson tobacco company, typed up in the summer of 1969, sets out the thinking very clearly: “Doubt is our product.” Why? Because doubt “is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.” Big Tobacco’s mantra: keep the controversy alive.

Doubt is usually not hard to produce, and facts alone aren’t enough to dispel it.

.. a simple untruth can beat off a complicated set of facts simply by being easier to understand and remember.

.. When doubt prevails, people will often end up believing whatever sticks in the mind

.. The account mentioned petrol cans and paint but later explained that petrol and paint hadn’t been present at the scene after all. The experimental subjects, tested on their comprehension, recalled that paint wasn’t actually there. But when asked to explain facts about the fire (“why so much smoke?”), they would mention the paint. Lacking an alternative explanation, they fell back on a claim they had already acknowledged was wrong

.. This should warn us not to let lie-and-rebuttal take over the news cycle. Several studies have shown that repeating a false claim, even in the context of debunking that claim, can make it stick.

.. The myth, after all, was the thing that kept being repeated. In trying to dispel the falsehood, the endless rebuttals simply make the enchantment stronger.

.. This sort of fact-checking article is invaluable to a fellow journalist who needs the issues set out and hyperlinked. But for an ordinary voter, the likely message would be: “You can’t trust politicians but we do seem to send a lot of money to the EU.”

.. he wished the bus had displayed a more defensible figure, such as £240m. But Lilico now acknowledges that the false claim was the more effective one. “In cynical campaigning terms, the use of the £350m figure was perfect,” he says. “It created a trap that Remain campaigners kept insisting on jumping into again and again and again.”

.. The false claim was vastly more powerful than a true one would have been, not because it was bigger, but because everybody kept talking about it.

.. The researchers began with data from 1.2 million internet users but ended up examining only 50,000. Why? Because only 4 per cent of the sample read enough serious news to be worth including in such a study. (The hurdle was 10 articles and two opinion pieces over three months.)

.. known as the “50 cent army”, after the amount contributors were alleged to be paid per post

.. “Almost none of the Chinese government’s 50c party posts engage in debate or argument of any kind . . . they seem to avoid controversial issues entirely . . . the strategic objective of the regime is to distract and redirect public attention.”

.. simply pick a fight with Megyn Kelly, The New York Times or even Arnold Schwarzenegger. Isn’t that more eye-catching than a discussion of healthcare reform?

.. “The tobacco industry was the leading funder of research into genetics, viruses, immunology, air pollution,” says Proctor. Almost anything, in short, except tobacco.

.. Proctor considers its main purpose was to produce interesting new speculative science.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease may be rare, but it was exciting news. Smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer and heart disease aren’t news at all.

.. Proctor describes it as “the opposite of terrorism: trivialism”. Terrorism provokes a huge media reaction; smoking does not. Yet, according to the US Centers for Disease Control, smoking kills 480,000 Americans a year. This is more than 50 deaths an hour. Terrorists have rarely managed to kill that many Americans in an entire year. But the terrorists succeed in grabbing the headlines; the trivialists succeed in avoiding them.

.. the truth can feel threatening, and threatening people tends to backfire.

.. But parents who were already wary of vaccines were actually less likely to say they’d vaccinate their children after being exposed to the facts — despite apparently believing those facts.

.. “People accept the corrective information but then resist in other ways,” says Reifler. A person who feels anxious about vaccination will subconsciously push back by summoning to mind all the other reasons why they feel vaccination is a bad idea. The fear of autism might recede, but all the other fears are stronger than before.

.. Reifler’s research suggests that you’ll accept the narrow fact that Turkey is not about to join the EU. But you’ll also summon to mind all sorts of other anxieties: immigration, loss of control, the proximity of Turkey to Syria’s war and to Isis, terrorism and so on. The original lie has been disproved, yet its seductive magic lingers.

.. Practical reasoning is often less about figuring out what’s true, and more about staying in the right tribe.

.. The Dartmouth students tended to overlook Dartmouth fouls but were quick to pick up on the sins of the Princeton players. The Princeton students had the opposite inclination. They concluded that, despite being shown the same footage, the Dartmouth and Princeton students didn’t really see the same events. Each student had his own perception, closely shaped by his tribal loyalties. The title of the research paper was “They Saw a Game”.

.. Some students were told it was a protest by gay-rights protesters outside an army recruitment office against the military’s (then) policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell”. Others were told that it was an anti-abortion protest in front of an abortion clinic.

.. Liberal students were relaxed about the behaviour of people they thought were gay-rights protesters but worried about what the pro-life protesters were doing; conservative students took the opposite view.

.. When we reach the conclusion that we want to reach, we’re engaging in “motivated reasoning”. Motivated reasoning was a powerful ally of the tobacco industry.

.. If you’re addicted to a product, and many scientists tell you it’s deadly, but the tobacco lobby tells you that more research is needed, what would you like to believe?

.. the industry often got a sympathetic hearing in the press because many journalists were smokers. These journalists desperately wanted to believe their habit was benign, making them ideal messengers for the industry.

.. “Groups with opposing values often become more polarised, not less, when exposed to scientifically sound information.”

.. scientific literacy can actually widen the gap between different political tribes on issues such as climate change — that is, well-informed liberals and well-informed conservatives are further apart in their views than liberals and conservatives who know little about the science

.. the role not of scientific literacy but of scientific curiosity.

.. “politically motivated reasoning . . . appears to be negated by science curiosity”. Scientifically literate people, remember, were more likely to be polarised in their answers to politically charged scientific questions. But scientifically curious people were not.

.. Curiosity brought people together in a way that mere facts did not. The researchers muse that curious people have an extra reason to seek out the facts: “To experience the pleasure of contemplating surprising insights into how the world works.”

.. Curiosity is the seed from which sensible democratic decisions can grow. It seems to be one of the only cures for politically motivated reasoning but it’s also, into the bargain, the cure for a society where most people just don’t pay attention to the news because they find it boring or confusing.

.. What we need is a Carl Sagan or David Attenborough of social science

.. One candidate would have been Swedish doctor and statistician Hans Rosling, who died in February

Trump’s outrageous lies come straight from big businesses’ playbook

Sixty-three years ago, as the scientific community neared consensus that tobacco products were dangerous, titans of the tobacco industry came together to meet with John Hill at the Plaza Hotel in New York. This was a rare gathering, as these executives were fighting one another for market share in an immensely competitive business. Hill, the founder of PR conglomerate Hill & Knowlton, recommended that they form a public relations operation, thinly veiled as a scientific institute, to argue that their products were safe. Together, the tobacco executives and Hill created the Tobacco Industry Research Committee, a sham organization designed to spread corporate propaganda to mislead the media, policymakers and the public at large.

.. Their goal was not to convince the majority of Americans that cigarettes did not cause cancer. Instead, they sought to muddy the waters and create a second truth. One truth would emanate from the bulk of the scientific community; the other, from a cadre of people primarily in the employment of the tobacco industry. The organization launched with an ad titled “A Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers,” which ran in 400 newspapers reaching nearly 43 million readers and stated, “There is no proof that cigarette smoking is one of the causes” of lung cancer.

 .. However, in the 1950s, the industry’s efforts influenced coverage from journalists as revered as Edward R. Murrow. In 1994, the chief executives of the seven largest tobacco companies told Congress under oath that they did not believe their products were addictive; more than 20 years later, they have yet to face penalties for their apparent perjury. Vice President-elect Mike Pence wrote in an op-ed posted on his 2000 congressional campaign website that, “despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.” That year, his campaign received at least $13,000 from PACs affiliated with Big Tobacco.
.. The sugar industry, for instance, has promoted research designed to distract from the health effects of its products. Its Sugar Research Foundation provided funding to Harvard scientists to counter claims that sugar causes heart disease, despite the overwhelming evidence.
.. In the 1970s, scientists at Exxon (now ExxonMobil) knew that their products were changing the climate, but the company nonetheless funded think tanks and organizations dedicated to denying the existence of global warming, such as the Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
.. The “death panels” lie was invented and evangelized by Betsy McCaughey, who had also been a leading opponent of Hillary Clinton’s health-care reform efforts in the ’90s. No surprise there: McCaughey has strong ties to the tobacco industry.
.. In August, Trump’s campaign announced that McCaughey would serve as an economic adviser.
..We’ve seen this pattern repeated on issue after issue. A well-financed group invents lies and convinces a substantial share of the public that those lies are true. The propaganda purveyors recognize that the media’s instinct to cover “both sides” of an issue, people’s tendency to believe claims that conveniently fit their ideology, and, more recently, social media’s propensity to spread falsehoods all create a fundamental weakness in our civil society.
.. This political misinformation is so powerful that people have refused access to medical care because they were frightened by lies they had heard about Obamacare.