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Friday, August 10, 2018


Headlines for Aug. 10, 2018 — The "lost episode"

This week's "Headlines" segment on Sputnik's Loud & Clear was pre-empted by a Russiagate segment, as Brian, John and I discuss the latest news about the Steele dossier and the role in played in launching the investigation. You'll have to content yourself with reading my notes below about the headlines we would have discussed if we had gone ahead with the normal segment.

Worst and Most Misleading Headlines (WAMMH) -- August 10, 2018


  1. Israeli airstrikes ‘kill woman and baby’
  2. Israeli airstrikes ‘kill woman and toddler’
  3. [10 minutes later, after complaints from the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the “Board of Deputies of British Jews”]: Gaza airstrikes ‘kill woman and child’ after rockets hit Israel
The complaint for the Israeli Foreign Ministry: .@BBCWorld this is a formal complaint by @IsraelMFA .This title is a deliberate misrepresentation of reality ( that’s the polite equivalent of “ this is a LIE”, if you don’t get it). Israelis were targeted by Hamas and IDF acts to protect them.Change it IMMEDIATELY!!! @IsraelMFA
So many things to say:
  • The obvious, the implication that “rockets hitting Israel” (which killed no one) justifies killing the woman and her 1-year-old child
  • The omission of any trigger for the rockets hitting Israel, which, as noted in the article, was the unprovoked Israeli murder of two members of Hamas the day before.
  • The change from “Israeli” airstrikes, which properly identifies the perpetrator, to “Gaza” airstrikes, which obscures the perpetrator.
  • The change from “baby” to “toddler” (a proper description of a 1-year-old) to “child” (which could mean anyone up to perhaps 18 years old, and evokes far less response from the reader, even if it is technically accurate, just like “cops kill unarmed man” is technically accurate even if the really accurate headline was “cops kill unarmed Black man”. By the way the woman was also nine months pregnant, so “unborn child” could have been added to the headline.
  • The change of quote! If “woman and toddler” is an actual quote, you can’t just change it to “woman and child” on a whim! And if it is NOT an actual quote, it doesn’t belong in quotes.

NASA backs designs for 3D-printed homes on Mars
We can't solve the homelessness problem in the U.S., but the brightest minds in the government are busy attacking the problem of building homes on Mars. Hooray!

DNC warns candidates: Don't use ZTE or Huawei phones
Democrats completely buying into the completely unfounded “security threat” nonsense. China? Russia? We (Dems) hate them more than Republicans! Yes we do!

Details Surface About Chinese Spy Who Worked For Sen. Feinstein
And what were those details? He was her driver in the Bay Area, and allegedly reported back to the Chinese government about local politics (which you could read about in the SF Chronicle)! OMG!

Alleged attack on Maduro allows him to crack down harder on opposition, experts say
“Alleged” attack? Also, if there was an attempted assassination of Donald Trump, try to guess the repercussions on Americans in terms of increased surveillance and lots more. Also, the first “expert” cited is from the Atlantic Council (discussed on Monday’s Loud & Clear).
Venezuela Is in Crisis but Its President Might Be Stronger for It
Two of the worst examples of Venezuela reporting anywhere:
"Mr. Maduro has weathered attempted rebellions, months of mass street protests, isolation from neighboring countries, threats of military intervention from President Trump, declining oil revenues, dissent within his own party, a mass exodus of his people and an election in May, widely described as rigged, that extended his term until 2025." Not included? US sanctions, or the boycott of the election by part of the opposition, which was the real story of the election, not alleged rigging.
And even worse: "While Mr. Maduro may not exactly fit the model of a military dictator". He was a BUS DRIVER and was ELECTED (twice). So yeah, "not exactly".

White nationalists are coming to D.C. Here’s the best way to protest.
Most of what the author says is fine, e.g., "The best way to resist white supremacists is to massively outnumber them in a disciplined show of nonviolent force." and "Mobilizing a counter-rally needs to be backed by sustained organizing to seriously challenge racism and white supremacy in the United States." She also calls for "a mass gathering at a separate location", which I would disagree with. But regardless, it's the idea that the WaPo wants to tell people how to protest that just seems wrong.


Trump endorses vote fraud crusader Kris Kobach in Kansas governor GOP primary
“Vote fraud crusader”? He’s a vote SUPPRESSION crusader, pioneer of the “crosscheck” program which has illegally purged hundreds of thousands of people across the country. In April: “Kris Kobach has been found in contempt of court by a federal judge in Kansas. Trump’s Vote Thief-in-Chief has violated the rights of 36,000 Kansas citizens, taking away their right to vote on suspicion of being aliens. Every one is a U.S. citizen — and, not uncoincidentally, overwhelmingly Democratic leaning.” [https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article209268109.html ]

WaPo headline: North Korea has not taken steps to denuclearize, John Bolton says
SJ Mercury headline: North Korea has not taken steps to denuclearize, Bolton admits
The story is bad enough, not one word about the ACTUAL steps that DPRK has taken to denuclearize, not any mention of the fact that the agreement also calls for the *US* to take steps (toward normalizing relations). But the one word change in the SJ Mercury is significant. "Says" (WaPo) means thats what Bolton thinks, maybe its true, maybe not. "Admits" (SJMercury) says it is true, and that Bolton finally had to "admit" it.
And the reality, which comes in the form of a Bolton quote: “We’re going to continue to apply maximum pressure to North Korea until they denuclearize, just as we are to Iran.” No summit and no “agreement” was necessary if that’s the U.S. position, were they? “We squeeze you until you cry ‘uncle’” is not a “negotiation”!


The USMC would like you to know that being in armed combat is exactly like playing Super Smash Bros.
USMC tweet: “Meet the characters in the smash hit military that has been defeating our foes since 1775. #SmashBrosUltimate”
You mean like Vietnam? Or Afghanistan?

Tuesday, August 07, 2018


Media misses (or tries to hide) the big takeaway from Rick Gates' testimony

Coverage of Rick Gates’ testimony at the Paul Manafort trial leads the news tonight. Almost all of it is about the titillating aspects — tax evasion, Gates embezzling money from Manafort (!), etc. But the most *significant* aspect of that testimony is not only being ignored, it’s being deliberately hidden.
See the screen cap from tonight’s ABC News, which is the framework we’ve bee presented since we first heard the name Manafort. Let’s face it, if Manafort had been pulling the same financial hijinx while lobbying for the Indian government, or the Israeli or Saudi government, or almost any other government, Mueller wouldn’t have been investigating him, and Manafort and Gates would have still been living high off the hog while free and not paying taxes. It’s only because somehow we’re supposed to believe that this was really about Russia that Mueller got involved.

Well, guess what? As Gates testified today (and as some of us already knew), Manafort wasn’t working on behalf of Russia, even indirectly, at all! In fact, the opposite is true! The one article I found that discusses this aspect of his testimony, was VICE. As seen in the second photo (above), Gates testified about “Engage Ukraine”, which was Manafort’s effort to bring Ukraine under Yanukovych *closer to the EU*! And he even worked, albeit briefly, for the pro-US, pro-EU Ukrainian President Poroshenko, who took power after the coup that overthrew Yanukovych.

The Washington Post article, which headlines Gates’ utterly irrelevant (in this context) extramarital affair, mentions nothing about this aspect of Gates’ testimony, while the New York Times coverage (below) is arguably even worse. They note that Yanukovych (the man the media insists on calling “pro-Russian”) campaigned on a platform of integrating with the EU, and they note that Manafort and Gates worked on his campaign, but separate those two facts by two intervening paragraphs and never tie them together.

Bottom line: Gates’ testimony today confirms that the work he and Manafort did in Ukraine was actually *pro-Western* (and implicitly *anti*-Russian, not pro-Russian as the media leads us to believe every time the story is mentioned).

You can hear more about this on today's episode of Loud & Clear Radio.

Friday, August 03, 2018


Killing Gaza: A review

Last night I watched the new documentary from journalists Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal, "Killing Gaza". If you want to have your heart ripped out and torn into shreds, watch this film. If you like feeling totally devastated, watch this film. Nobody likes those things. But you should still watch this film. Because it is an utterly devastating indictment of the brutality, the barbarity, with which the Israeli government, with the full economic, military, and diplomatic support of the United States government, treats the Palestinian people, and especially the Palestinians of Gaza.

The film is about the brutal Israeli assault on Gaza four years ago this month (and last month), or, as Wikipedia so neutrally (and inaccurately) puts it, the "2014 Israel-Gaza conflict". That assault (really a protracted reign of terror) killed, according to the U.N., 2251 Palestinians, of which 1462 were civilians (including 315 children). It also destroyed substantial portions of Gaza, most not rebuilt to this day, and of course left many thousands more physically or mentally scarred. You'll see footage of that, but most importantly, you'll hear testimony from the survivors. Palestinians talking about their dead family members, their destroyed houses, their shattered hopes and dreams. Palestinians talking for themselves, Palestinians with actual names, something which is totally absent from Western media. It's heart-wrenching, but also essential footage to understand the reality. And it's footage you won't see anywhere else, certainly not on any Western mainstream news outlet.

As I watched this film, I couldn't help wondering about the little boys you see playing in the rubble. Have some of them now become victims themselves of the latest Israeli atrocities, as Israeli snipers kill and maim Palestinians participating in the Great March of Return? I fear so.

Dan and Max are to be congratulated for making this story, as hard as it is to watch, available to the wider world. I'm pretty sure you won't be seeing it in your local theater or on PBS' Frontline or in any such locale. Right now, it's available on Vimeo. If you're not a Vimeo customer, as I wasn't, you have to sign up first, which is simple. It's also a bit tricky because if you just go to Vimeo and search for "Killing Gaza" you find only the trailer (at least that's what happened to me on my tablet; on a computer it seems to turn up). Instead you need to go to the movie's website here, click on "Watch the film here" and you'll end up here, where you can pay $3 to rent the film for three days or $5 to buy it (and watch it repeatedly). Then you can go to Vimeo's website on your computer (or use the Vimeo app on your phone or tablet), go to your purchases (under your profile on a computer) and watch the film. It isn't the simplest process, but it's worth it. Incidentally the app is "Chromecast-enabled", so if you have a Chromecast device you can end up watching it on your TV rather than on your tablet or computer; really far preferable in my book.


Headlines for Aug. 3, 2018

Click here to listen to this week's segment on Loud & Clear Radio.
Headlines with an * are the ones we managed to fit in in our allotted 11 minutes.
Worst and Most Misleading Headlines (WAMMH) -- August 3, 2018

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of this blog. It’s interesting to look back on his very first blog post from Aug. 2, 2003, and see how "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" (the more things change, the more they stay the same):

*Undercounting of deaths in Iraq gets worse

From MSNBC :

"THE SOLDIER, killed late Friday, was the 52nd to die in combat in Iraq since President Bush declared major fighting over on May 1. So far 167 soldiers have died in the Iraq War, 20 more than during the 1991 Gulf War." [Early days; final death toll exceeded 4400 for U.S. soldiers, only, not counting contractors, etc., and definitely not counting soldiers who later committed suicide, died while homeless, killed their spouses, etc.]
The first sentence is just the usual cover-up of the true extent of deaths in Iraq [by emphasizing a lower number], but the second sentence is an out-and-out lie. In actual fact, as of today 251 soldiers have "died in the Iraq War," not 167. 167 of those may be classified by the military as deaths "in combat," i.e., deaths directly attributable to actions of enemy soldiers, with the rest characterized variously (and, in many cases, dubiously) as "accidents." However the other 84 soldiers are no less dead, and their families no less grieving. For MSNBC to suggest that they did not "die in the Iraq War" in nothing less than an outrage.

Note also the word "soldiers" in the second sentence. For the record, British and Iraqi soldiers are human too, but here, as is all too often the case, for US media, only US lives matter.
These kind of biases continue to this day. US killed AT LEAST 1800 civilians in Raqqa, according to HRW (not a Syria-friendly source), probably many more. Meanwhile US acknowledges 23!! And note how this permeates: Two weeks ago, interviewing Putin, Chris Wallace (http://www.foxnews.com/transcript/2018/07/16/chris-wallace-interviews-russian-president-vladimir-putin.html ): “ I don't think that there has been the bloodshed in Raqqa that there was, the hundreds of thousands of people that were killed in Aleppo and in Ghouta.” Actual number in Ghouta? 1400.


Cuba plans 135,000 meetings to get public feedback on its proposed constitution
Not bad, not misleading, not funny, just amazing that this is a headline and an article in the notoriously anti-Cuban Miami Herald. And to demonstrate that these 135,000 meetings are meaningful and that the Cuban government wants everyone to come to those meetings informed and ready to discuss the proposed changes and offer modifications of their own: "On Tuesday, the first of about 600,000 copies of the proposed constitution went on sale for one Cuban peso (4 cents) at newsstands and post offices in Havana and the central provinces, and the government also posted an online version for download."
Incidentally there was no mention at all of this process in WaPo, which editorialized against the new Constitution (not "democratic" enough).


*Black Mom Collapses, Ambulance Won’t Help Because She’s Uninsured. Now She’s Dead.
Same story (not as direct a headline): https://www.wfla.com/news/hillsborough-county/mother-says-her-daughter-died-because-of-profiling-and-race/1321113124
Headline says it all. After arguing about the lack of insurance, EMS drivers finally agreed to carry the woman downstairs to her mother’s car, but by the time she got to the hospital, she was dead. Time is of the essence for stroke victims. Having to spend time arguing with EMS drivers about insurance is a direct cause of death.

*Florida teacher quits to become full-time grocery shopper and doubles his salary
A good indication of how much society values its teachers. Even before making this change, he spent 20 years teaching and working a second job to make ends meet.

Trump Now Seems Fine With Letting North Korea Keep Its Nukes
The author claims that "You may have thought [the June 12 agreement] had something to do with North Korea agreeing to “denuclearize”—to give up its nuclear weapons. While no such commitment was in the actual document the leaders signed, Trump has repeatedly implied that was what the two leaders agreed to. But North Korea is not unilaterally disarming."
Um, yeah, they're not. The June 12 agreement says: "recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:" followed by four points. The first two are precisely about "mutual confidence building" and the third point, which follows, says " the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."


*Facebook Has Identified Ongoing Political Influence Campaign
The word “Russia” appears in this article 8 times, despite the fact that FB “has been unable to tie the accounts to Russia”. But what was the result? FB disabled an event calling for a counterprotest to the Unite the Right DC march! And Abolish ICE is definitely suspect! They also say “domestic actors” may try to “abuse the platform” (by creating anti-fascist events?) [Interestingly that paragraph has disappeared from an updated version of the article]. A Washington Post article on the subject also warned about “domestic ideologues” (also, curiously, which has disappeared from an updated version of their article).
Facebook bans pages aimed at US election interference
There is nothing in the revealed material that has anything to do with elections, but apparently BBC is able to discern the motivations of unknown persons who created these pages.

Russian Hackers Appear to Shift Focus to U.S. Power Grid
“State-sponsored Russian hackers appear far more interested this year in demonstrating that they can disrupt the American electric utility grid than the midterm elections.” Demonstrating? Has something happened? Answer: no.
Why this? Because: “intelligence officials said they have seen little activity by Russian military hackers aimed at either major American political figures or state voter registration systems.” That just days after warnings of “red lights going off”!

Two Italian Artists Who Painted Mural of Ahed Tamimi Barred From Israel for 10 Years, Lawyer Says
Our “Headline you didn’t see” for the week. As far as I can tell, not a single Western media outlet covered this story, although BBC found space for a non-story about Pussy Riot being released from prison in Russia after their arrest for storming the field at the World Cup.


*Crows Are Always Jerks to Ravens, Research Confirms
Living alongside a group of crows can be murder for a raven. Across North America, common ravens are regularly harassed by gangs of crows (more properly called a “murder of crows”)..

Trump could teach Ocasio-Cortez a Thing or Two About Socialism (retitled: Our Socialist President)
For the second time this month, George Will tries to smear socialism by identifying it with the sins of capitalism. And we objected when they called *Obama* a socialist. Now it’s Trump! Why a socialist? Because of $12 billion subsidy to farmers. “ the essence of socialism, which is 10-thumbed government picking winners and losers and advancing the politicization of everything .” “Protectionism — government coercion supplanting the voluntary transactions of markets in the allocation of wealth and opportunity — is socialism for the well connected.” As noted by Brian last week, socialism is about power — for the masses, for working people. “Socialism for the well connected” is an oxymoron. Favorite line from the article: “the word “socialism” is thrilling progressives who hanker to storm the Bastille, if only America had one.” No, it doesn’t have one. It has thousands.

Democratic socialist writer levels with voters: We want to ‘end capitalism’
“The eventual goal is to transform the world to promote everyone’s needs rather than to produce massive profits for a small handful of citizens." FOX thinks this will scare its viewers, and maybe it will, but thanks to them, the Jacobin story it refers to will get much wider circulation on social media than it would have, and will have the opposite effect from what they hope for.

Friday, July 27, 2018


Headlines for July 27, 2018

Click here to listen to this week's segment on Loud & Clear Radio.
Headlines with an * are the ones we managed to fit in in our allotted 11 minutes.
Worst and Most Misleading Headlines (WAMMH) -- July 27, 2018


*MSNBC has done 455 Stormy Daniels segments in the last year — but none on U.S. war in Yemen
https://www.salon.com/2018/07/25/msnbc-has-done-455-stormy-daniels-segments-in-the-last-year-but-none-on-the-war-in-yemen/ (reprinted from FAIR)
A perfect example of “Fake News by Omission” or "Headlines you didn't see". And, to be clear, while other networks may not have had ZERO segments, they certainly had few and far between.
*Another example this week: 215 people killed in Syria by ISIS suicide bombers on Wednesday of this week. Neither BBC World News or ABC Nightly News mentioned it on air.

Before her arrest as an alleged Russian agent, Maria Butina’s proud defense of her homeland drew notice at American University
Accused Russian spy had shirtless Putin photo on phone, college friends say
Because it’s so rare that students or people in general from another country are proud of their home country.
“It wasn’t just the outspoken conservative politics of the auburn-haired Russian woman that drew the attention of other graduate students at American University. There was also her almost zealous embrace of her homeland. Butina’s cellphone case was emblazoned with a famous photograph of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin riding shirtless on a horse. She would buy friends rounds of vodka at Russia House”
Note that while the Washington Post article correctly identifies Butina as an alleged Russian "agent", many others, like the CBS News headline, refer to her as an accused "spy", which is false (the only charge against her, at least for now, is failure to register under the FARA act).

Iran has laid groundwork for extensive cyberattacks on U.S., say officials
“Iran has positioned cyber weapons to hit private firms and infrastructure…U.S. officials said Iran is making preparations that would enable denial-of-service attacks against thousands of electric grids, water plants, and health care and technology companies in the U.S., Germany, the U.K. and other countries in Europe and the Middle East.” Denial-of-service attacks prevent people from accessing websites; they don’t affect electrical grids.
Stuxnet is finally mentioned…in paragraph 33, after 32 paragraphs of almost entirely speculative accusations against Iran.

Pompeo to Defend Trump With ‘Proof’ of Administration’s Actions vs. Russia
The Times puts “proof” in quotes although it refers entirely to simple observable facts, all of which have been reported in the Times, e.g., military buildup, demanding NATO military buildup, expulsion of 60 diplomats, sending arms to Ukraine.

U.S. government plays games with top Venezuelan officials
“Games”? They’re trying to overthrow the government. The “game” consisted of trying to put a “snitch jacket” on one of the officials by sanctioning a bunch of top officials EXCEPT him, in order to split the leadership by making them think that one of them is a CIA asset. In other words the same “games” the FBI played with the Black Panthers (just to name one parallel).


Democratic Sen. McCaskill confirms Russian hacking attempt
She got a phishing email, which the Daily Beast [!!!] forensically analyzed and determined it came from Russia. Well, that’s what the WaPo says. Read the actual Daily Beast article: https://www.thedailybeast.com/russian-hackers-new-target-a-vulnerable-democratic-senator?ref=home
There is ZERO evidence these phishing emails came from Russia.


*Facebook's Stock In Free Fall Because Everyone Already Uses It
Capitalism 101: expand or die (or at least see your stock decline). FB (& related sites) have 2.5B users out of 4B online.

*Putin gave Trump a soccer ball that may have a transmitter chip

(Also definitely misleading)
Here’s what it actually is, by the way: https://www.soccerbible.com/performance/football-equipment/2017/how-does-the-2018-adidas-telstar-nfc-ball-work/

What the chip (which is in every Adidas World Cup ball) is is an NFC (Near Field Communications) chip, just like in newer model cellphones which let you use ApplePay or GooglePay and touch your cell phone against something on the counter to pay for your meal. The range of this transmitter (which cannot transmit anything until it is nearby another one) is about two inches! Also it doesn't COLLECT any data at all, it's entirely passive and transmits only what is already inside it (information about Adidas, basically).


*Betsy DeVos’ $40 million family yacht untied, causing $10,000 in damages

Someone untied it! I love them so much!
But don’t worry… “The SeaQuest is one of at least 10 boats owned by the DeVos family, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of the family's wealth. It can accommodate 12 guests and 12 crew members, according to the SuperYachtFan website. The DeVos clan also owns at least four planes and two helicopters, the Journal reports.”

Roseanne Barr on her Valerie Jarrett tweet: ‘I was so sad that people thought it was racist’
“muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj”. Her defense: she didn’t know Jarrett was Black, she thought she was Middle Eastern.

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