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Taitz attacks!

Firefox users visiting the Orly Taitz web site today are seeing this message:

Reported Attack Page! warning message

Not long after Orly’s web site was restored following what she says was a hacking incident, I visited her site and saw a popup window that tried to get me to install some software. I detailed some of these popups in my article, “Taitz pop-up advertising more dodgy,” last February; and for a while those had stopped.

Now Google, through the Firefox browser, is issuing an attack warning. The specifics of the Google warning are:

Of the 97 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 9 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2014-06-27, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 2014-06-27.

Malicious software includes 6 exploit(s), 3 trojan(s). Successful infection resulted in an average of 4 new process(es) on the target machine.

Malicious software is hosted on 2 domain(s), including indolocker.com/, zamcheck.org/.

1 domain(s) appear to be functioning as intermediaries for distributing malware to visitors of this site, including zamcheck.org/.

This site was hosted on 4 network(s) including AS6245 (NETWORK-SOLUTIONS), AS55002 (DEFENSE-NET), AS19871 (NETWORK-SOLUTIONS-HOSTING).

This looks to me like the malware is being funneled through her advertising stream. This is similar to what brought Birther Report down for a while (Birther Report is hosted by Google).

Before I retired, one of the employees of my company accessed the Taitz web site on a company computer. It took two days to get the malware cleaned up.

Taitz on the other hand says to ignore the warning in two articles:

  •  If you unable to go on my site, go to Firefox security/preferences and type the url www.orlytaitzesq.com as preference. You will not be blocked. the site appear to be working fine for most people.
  • Obots are inserting software to trigger warning messages, clock on “Ignore this”. 699 media outlets connect to www.orlytaitzesq.com Please, spread the word that regime is trying to stifle

Articles on birther malware:

Google search: learned something

I’ve long been perplexed by the occasional Google search that returns pages without the keywords I specify. Here’s an example of a Google query that returns 5 pages, none of which have either of those two words:

("obama" OR "zullo") site:reedwrite.com

I posed this a question on the Google search forum, and I got an informative reply from Thomas P:

When you’re doing a search like

 "obama" OR "zullo" site:reedwrite.com 

- then you’re asking for pages under that domain, where either of those exact words are relevant.

 
When you’re doing a search like

 intext:"obama" OR intext:"zullo" site:reedwrite.com 

- then you’re asking for pages under that domain, where either of those exact words are found in the text of the pages.

Taitz has Google troubles too

I’ve written about the troubles at Birther Report that was acting as a vector for malware from one of its advertisers. Google Safe Sites identified the malware, and visitors using the Firefox browser were warned about the infection.

Orly Taitz has been noted for malware on her site in the past, but I haven’t heard of any infections through her site lately. What I have seen is that if you stay idle on her site for a while, something may pop up, including a fake message that your browser needs updating. Today, while researching another article, I was on her site and a window popped up with a buxom Asian girl pictured and the title, “Date Chinese Women.” That’s definitely on the lower tier of advertising. Even lower is this that appeared a little later:

image

What happened was that the Taitz site tried to open the page in Firefox, but it was blocked as a phishing site, probably from a Google service. While not exactly malware, it is an example of Orly using dodgy sources for her advertising, and her total disregard for the user experience her site provides.

Orly had previously reported that her site was unreachable with the Google Chrome browser, but I didn’t have any problems when I tested this today.

What Happened to BR

In my initial report on Google’s shut-down of Birther Report, I included this from the Google report on the site:

2 domain(s) appear to be functioning as intermediaries for distributing malware to visitors of this site, including madadsmedia.com/, burstnet.com/.

It appears that MadAdsMedia, an online supplier of advertising to BR, was itself struck by malware. It’s detailed in an article at Tech Worm, that says that thousands of websites were blocked by Google Safe Browsing as a result. OCConenct.com, for example is returning the Google warning as of this writing.

image

MadAdsMedia contacted affected web sites, and so BR knows what’s going on. All BR has to do is to request that Google review their site, now that MadAdsMedia has fixed their problem. So why is BR moving to a new host anyway? Perhaps because this isn’t the first time Birther Report has run into conflict with Google terms of service. Comments appearing at various web sites (see link below) as coming from the BR owner says that in October 2013, Google shut off AdSense advertising at BR for violating its terms by “targeting individuals.” This latest seems to be the straw that goaded the camel to get moving on finally moving the BR site to a host with less restrictive policies.

Read more:

BR lite

There is speculation that Birther Report, possibly the number 1 birther web site, is run by an English-born, Canadian raised, California resident named Gary Wilmott. I haven’t said much about him before, although he’s been busy in many birther activities such participating in a ballot challenge in California, attending court hearings (and calling Obots “assholes”), was one of the feature speakers at the canceled Birther Summit, and was a board member of the Article II Super PAC (an anti-Obama-eligibility political committee that raised about $34,000 in the last election cycle).

Now, Wilmott’s own blog Give Us Liberty 1776 announces that Birther Report content may be appearing there while BR is down for scrubbing. Gary’s blog also appears on Google’s free Blogger service. Can we all go “hmmm”?

Update:

In the few hours since this article was published, the commenting policy at Wilmott’s blog was changed so that only members of the blog can post there. Comments by Foggy left yesterday, suggesting that Wilmott runs BR, were scrubbed.

Read more:

Googling Obama’s birth certificate

imageI wanted to get a sense of what the Internet was saying about Obama’s birth certificate–what does someone coming fresh to the issue get from the most popular Internet search engine1? To find out, I sent a naive query2 to Google: obama birth certificate. The top 10 results with some commentary and conclusions follow:

1-2

The first article that comes up is the White House web page announcing the release of Obama’s long form birth certificate, and the second is the Wikipedia article on “Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories.”

3

Someone who skips the official announcement and thinks the Wikipedia is unreliable (and many do) might go to the third result and get an article at what appears to be a conventional news site, the World Tribune, and find an article titled “Forensic findings on Obama’s birth certificate: ‘A 100 percent forgery, no doubt about it’” by Grace Vuoto that opens:

There is a problem with President Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate: It’s a forgery, say multiple forensic experts who have examined it. A report detailing the evidence will soon be presented to Congress.

The article goes on to state as fact many discredited claims of Mike Zullo and the Cold Case Posse, and to pretend that there is no “other side” in the controversy. The naive reader might well be fooled into thinking that this is a mainstream publication with the integrity and fact checking that comes with that. An interesting article about the World Tribune, by Ben McGrath in The New Yorker, says otherwise:

In fact, the World Tribune is not published in the United Kingdom, nor is it, to be precise, a newspaper. It is a Web site produced, more or less as a hobby, in Falls Church, Virginia, and is dedicated to the notion, as its mission statement explains, that “there is a market for news of the world and not just news of the weird.”

…Although [editor and publisher of the World Times Robert] Morton said, “We emphasize newspaper standards to counter the half-baked, unfiltered content on some online sites,” World Tribune.com more fairly qualifies as something between a newspaper and a rumor-mongering blog. Call it “blews.”

McGrath goes on to document some “faux news” stories published at the World Tribune including the discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

4

At the number 4 slot, we’re in pretty deep trouble with an article from the epicenter of birth certificate doubt mongering, WorldNetDaily with the unattributed article, “Obama birth-certificate doubts head to Capitol.” I has quotes from Zullo, video clips from Carl Gallups and a side order of the McInnish v. Chapman case before the Alabama Supreme Court. In typical WND fashion, much “old news” is tacked onto the article to make it longer.

5

Finally, in 5th place, we arrive at a respected news source, that specializes in investigating claims by others, and has some real journalistic standards–PolitiFact. Their article is a compendium of things said about the birth certificate, rating them from “True” (“a federal judge sanctions Tennessee ‘birther’ lawyer …  for bringing a frivolous lawsuit.”) to “False” (“President Obama has spent over $2 million in legal fees defending lawsuits about his birth certificate”) to “Pants on fire” (“Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie made a late-night visit to Kinko’s to forge President Barack Obama’s birth certificate two days before Obama unveiled it to the media.”)

6

Returning to the WorldNetDaily lineage (WND publisher Joseph Farah founded it), we have an article at the Center for Western Journalism, a wrapper for a video interview with Mike Zullo, “Under the Microscope: The Obama Birth Certificate.”

7

At lucky number 7, we find the popular debunking site Snopes.com and their article “Barack Obama Birth Certificate.”

8-10

Rounding out the top 10, we have:

Renew America: Obama’s reckoning to come November 19 by birther attorney Larry Klayman. “Klayman calls for the masses to force resignation of convicted President.” (Klayman had held a mock trial in Florida.)

Politico.com: “Trump spars with ABC reporter over Obama’s birth certificate

The Inquisitr: “Birthers: Obama has until Nov. 19 to show his birth certificate or else…

Summing up

At least according to the search engines, Mike Zullo and the Cold Case Posse is the main story on the Internet about Obama’s birth certificate. That’s what’s news, and a number of older articles carry some background and debunking of the issue in general (but most are pre-Zullo).

Here’s my opinion about the web sites returned by Google in two categories:

Reliability

  • Reliable: 5 (1, 2, 5, 7, 9)
  • Unreliable: 5 (3, 4, 6, 8, 10)

Bias

  • Pro Obama: 2 (1, 10)
  • Anti Obama: 4 (3, 4, 6, 8)
  • Neutral: 4 (2, 5, 7, 9)

The naive searcher faces an uphill battle using search engine results to evaluate claims that there is something awry with Barack Obamas’ birth certificate. They have to wade through a great deal of misinformation and bias (50% of the articles on Google’s first results page) in order to get to the facts. While claims by Mike Zullo are front and center, debunking of the Cold Case Posse is on the back pages.

I suppose it’s an unrealistic expectation to get truth from a search engine. Nevertheless, it’s how many get their facts. I’m concerned about the spread of the birtherism disease, and will continue to think about how to help make things better.


1Would another search engine would give better results. I gave Bing a try.

  1. WorldNetDaily: “Obama birth-certificate doubts head to Capitol” (Zullo story)
  2. ABC News: “Obama’s Birth Certificate Could Be a Forgery” (Zullo story)
  3. Snopes: “Barack Obama Birth Certificate
  4. White House: “President Obama’s Long Form Birth Certificate
  5. Was Obama Born in Kenya?  “Barack Obama’s Birth Certificate” (Lucas Smith)
  6. Wikipedia: “Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories
  7. BarackObama.com: “Fight the smears: The Truth about Barack’s birth certificate.”
  8. Huffington Post: “Obama Birth Certificate
  9. YouTube: “PROOF!!! Obama Birth Certificate Fraud” (this Alex Jones 2011 video has almost 1 million views)
  10. Factcheck.org: Born in the U. S. A.

2Google has an option to get results tailored for the user, or world-wide results; I picked the latter.