Activism

OWS: Real Grassroots vs. Astroturf

Astroturf vs. GrassrootsThe "Occupy Wall Street" movement is providing a real-time case study of the difference between a true grassroots movement and a corporate-backed astroturf movement.

Americans in recent years have been besieged by industry-funded astroturf efforts masquerading as real grassroots movements. One example is the "Hands off my Healthcare" national roadshow, which was backed by the Koch-funded group, Americans for Prosperity. Another is the Tea Party, which got a corporate-sponsored media boost from the Fox News Channel and benefitted from the the efforts of a Sacramento, California-based Republican PR firm, Russo Marsh & Rogers. Astroturf uses manufactured spin and messaging that requires real money for things like media buys, front groups, mass-broadcast faxes, telemarketing-generated petitions, glossy postcards, form letters and talk radio-inspired phone calls.

Apple's New IPhone 4S Opposes Abortion

Siri logoApple is being accused of using its new IPhone 4S to promote an anti-abortion agenda. IPhone 4S users in big cities have found that when they ask their IPhone to locate abortion clinics, the phone's new voice-assistant, Siri, says she can't find any. Instead, she directs users to "crisis pregnancy" centers, which do not offer abortion services. When an IPhone user named Kristen asked Siri why she is anti-abortion, the phone responded, "I just am, Kristen." Users who ask the phone to locate places where they can get emergency contraception are shown a Google results page containing definitions. Siri may not help IPhone owners find abortion services or even emergency contraception, but she will help users locate strip clubs, escort services, Viagra and plastic surgeons who do breast implants. Siri will even recommend a good place to dump a body.

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Walker Recall Gets Underway with Pajama Parties and Sabotage

The effort to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker begins today, and organizers and volunteers are readying their clipboards to begin collecting more than half a million signatures throughout the holiday season. But as volunteers celebrated the launch at midnight "recall-themed" pajama parties, the many challenges ahead were underscored by a deliberate, grinch-like cyber-attack on a key recall website.

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