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Friday, June 15, 2018


 

How Russian Meddling Gave Us This Year’s World Cup


This New York Times article—original title “How Russian Meddling Gave Us This Year’s World Cup”, later changed to the noncommittal “Did Russia Steal the World Cup?”)—is the latest manifestation of Russiamania, featuring none other than Christopher Steele. Yes, that’s Christopher Steele of Trump dossier and “pee tape” fame, as the article’s subtitle immediately reminds us. Spoiler alert — the answer to the revised title is “No”.

The story is that in 2010, Steele became suspicious because Russia was trying to get the 2018 World Cup. Why was he suspicious? Because Russia doesn’t “have a great soccer tradition” and hadn’t even qualified for the 2010 World Cup. You know who also doesn’t have a great soccer tradition, didn’t qualify for this year’s World Cup, and just won the bid for the 2026 World Cup (for the second time)? That’s right, the U.S., the only country in the world who doesn’t even call it “football”! Seeking prestigious sporting events like the World Cup or the Olympics is a perfectly normal activity for big countries and even small ones (Qatar hosts the next World Cup), so right off the bat I’m suspicious of the motivations of anyone who claims it was “suspicious” that Russia was seeking the World Cup.

But armed with his suspicions, Steele began investigating, and soon had “a growing pile of intelligence [note: not “evidence” but “intelligence”, kind of like the still unproven “intelligence” in the Trump dossier] suggesting that Russian government officials and oligarchs close to Mr. Putin had been enlisted to push the effort [a completely normal activity by any country seeking the Cup], cutting shadowy gas deals with other countries in exchange for votes, [and] offering expensive gifts of art to FIFA voters. [those would definitely be illegal, if true]”

Now there definitely was corruption and outright bribery in FIFA on a large scale, and the investigations in multiple countries resulted in multiple convictions and eventually forced long-time FIFA President Sepp Blatter from office. So was Steele (and the author of this hit piece in the Times) right? Did Russian “meddling” (by implication, illegal in nature) win Russia the World Cup? When you get to the 15th paragraph of the article, here’s what you learn:

“But there is one glaring hole in what even the vanquished defense attorneys who had corrupt soccer officials as clients called a breathtakingly meticulous and exhaustive federal investigation and prosecution: any mention of Russia. Court records from the case run into the thousands of pages, and prosecutors spent weeks laying out every tangled intricacy of their digging in a six-week criminal trial in federal court in Brooklyn late last year. But Russia, strangely, seems to have been completely absent from any of it.”

Oops! There’s no there there! Not a shred of evidence that was actually credible enough to be introduced in court had anything to do with Russia. No matter, though — mission accomplished with this article. Russia smeared in the pages of The New York Times on the eve of the World Cup, on the basis of…absolutely nothing other than Christopher Steele’s “intelligence”. Maybe the proof is in the “pee tape”.

 

Headlines for June 15, 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.

CANDIDATES FOR “WORST”/”MOST DISGUSTING”:

*The Biggest Winner at the U.S.-North Korea Summit: China

https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-biggest-winner-at-the-us-north-korea-summit-china

*The big winner of the Trump-Kim summit? China.

https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/world/2018/6/13/17458944/trump-kim-summit-china-response-south-korea-military-drills

*China winner from summit but wary of closer US-N. Korea ties

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/after-summit-china-likely-to-remind-n-korea-of-close-ties/2018/06/13/72eee286-6ebe-11e8-b4d8-eaf78d4c544c_story.html
WaPo headline but AP article widely repeated. China “won” because they asked for end to war games, got it. Also a vague Trump promise of withdrawal of troops maybe sometime. In the entire article, there’s not a single mention of the North Korean people, the South Korean people, the American people, nothing.

*How Russian Meddling Gave Us This Year’s World Cup
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/07/opinion/sunday/world-cup-fifa-corruption-russia.html
“Russia appeared profoundly unqualified to host a month-long tournament expected to draw well over three million spectators. For starters, Russia didn’t have a great soccer tradition; its team hadn’t even qualified to play in the 2010 World Cup.” Guess who just got awarded the World Cup after not qualifying for this one, and who also doesn’t have a great soccer tradition?

“In 2010, Mr. Steele collected a growing pile of intelligence suggesting that Russian government officials and oligarchs close to Mr. Putin had been enlisted to push the effort, cutting shadowy gas deals with other countries in exchange for votes, offering expensive gifts of art to FIFA voters” which, according to this article, was what triggered the huge FIFA scandal in 2015 which ousted Sepp Blatter and many others.
Russia wanted the World Cup (like many other countries). FIFA is (or was) corrupt. More than 2 dozen people were convicted of crimes involving hundreds of millions of dollars of bribes.

But guess what? It wasn’t Russia, as you’ll learn if you get to paragraph 15:
“But there is one glaring hole in what even the vanquished defense attorneys who had corrupt soccer officials as clients called a breathtakingly meticulous and exhaustive federal investigation and prosecution: any mention of Russia. Court records from the case run into the thousands of pages, and prosecutors spent weeks laying out every tangled intricacy of their digging in a six-week criminal trial in federal court in Brooklyn late last year. But Russia, strangely, seems to have been completely absent from any of it.”

Sessions cites Bible passage used to defend slavery in defense of separating immigrant families

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/06/14/jeff-sessions-points-to-the-bible-in-defense-of-separating-immigrant-families/

CANDIDATES FOR “MOST MISLEADING”:

Trump's 'deals' are going to kill us all
http://theweek.com/articles/725482/trumps-deals-are-going-kill-all

CANDIDATES FOR “FUNNIEST”:

*Gasp! Rachel Maddow reveals shocking fact that North Korea has a border with Russia
https://www.rt.com/usa/429648-rachel-maddow-north-korea-russia/

*Trump touts North Korean real estate potential
https://www.ft.com/content/f733b7d4-6e22-11e8-92d3-6c13e5c92914
My tweet BEFORE the “signing” or the press conference: “Breaking news: the “signing” announced by Trump is for a Trump resort and golf course to be built in the DPRK.”
Joking, of course. Or was I?

*White House tasks office with taping together papers after Trump rips them up: report

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/391576-white-house-staffers-tasked-with-taping-together-papers-after-trump
!

Domino's Is Fixing America's Crappy Roads For Pizza Safety And That's Pretty Embarrassing

https://jalopnik.com/dominos-is-fixing-americas-crappy-roads-for-pizza-safet-1826736405
Every pothole they fill carries their logo!

Jon Stewart: ‘Let’s Be Honest,’ Democrats ‘Don’t Really Give a F*ck About Russia’

https://www.thedailybeast.com/jon-stewart-lets-be-honest-democrats-dont-really-give-a-fck-about-russia
Jon Stewart lets the cat out of the bag. "If the Russians had somehow helped Hillary Clinton and it had prevented Trump from being elected in the first place, Stewart said Democrats would have tried their best to look the other way. “But now we’ve got to act like it’s super important,” he said, because we think it could end his presidency."

Reporters thought this video was North Korea propaganda. It came from the White House.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/06/12/reporters-thought-this-video-was-north-korea-propaganda-it-came-from-the-white-house/
Calling this video “bizarre” does a disservice to the word “bizarre”

Donald Trump 'tired of Theresa May's school mistress tone’ and will not hold talks with her at G7

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/06/07/donald-trump-tired-theresa-mays-school-mistress-tone-may-turn/
The US president is said to bristle at the Prime Minister’s approach during phone calls, with Mrs May quick to get into policy details rather than wider conversation.
One senior US diplomat said Mr Trump had expressed annoyance at Mrs May’s frequent demands, which are seen as taking advantage of the UK-US relationship.
Another long-time friend of the president revealed he had privately complained of how Mrs May calls him out in public when he is deemed to have stepped out of line.

Friday, June 08, 2018


 

Headlines for June 8, 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.

CANDIDATES FOR “WORST”/”MOST DISGUSTING”:

*A Woman Dedicated to Saving Lives Loses Hers in Gaza Violence
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/02/world/middleeast/gaza-paramedic-killed.html
Actually a decent article, even with an accompanying video including an interview with murdered medic Razan al-Najjar, but the headline is the usual outrage on two grounds — no indication of HOW she “lost her life”, and the utterly misleading phrase “Gaza violence”. If anything, it should read "Israeli violence". What’s wrong with “Israeli snipers murder Palestinian dedicated to saving lives”?

*Israeli Video Portrays Medic Killed in Gaza as Tool of Hamas

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/07/world/middleeast/gaza-israel-medic-rouzan-al-najjar.html
Reducing this horrendous war crime to a he-said, she-said situation based on Israeli propaganda.
@IDFSpokesperson edited a video of the murdered medic Razan al-Najjar to say "I am a human shield," when what Razan ACTUALLY says is, "I'm here as a rescuing human shield to protect and save the wounded at the frontlines." And, in something the video uses to portray her as some kind of terrorist, she throws a tear gas canister, which came originally from Israel, away from her (maybe 20 yards at most) into an empty field, not at anyone. And of course Israel accuses her of being “Hamas”, just like Donald Trump labels everything that puts him in a bad light as “Fake News”.

US envoy to reporters: ‘Keep your mouths shut’ on criticizing Israel over Gaza

https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-envoy-to-reporters-keep-your-mouths-shut-on-criticizing-israel-over-gaza/
“David Friedman says the media should either figure out how anyone could have better dealt with the border protests or stop its negative coverage of the Jewish state.” Anyone with any suggestions? And by the way, why the media’s job is to report on the protests, not to “figure out how Israel should deal with them”. No coverage of this direct attack on the press in the US media, by the way.

*Kim Jong-un’s Image Shift: From Nuclear Madman to Skillful Leader

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/06/06/world/asia/kim-korea-image.html
It wasn’t Kim who “shifted”; it was the corporate media. Kim was never a “nuclear madman”.

Will Trump Raise North Korea's Human Rights Abuses At Summit With Kim Jong Un?

https://www.npr.org/2018/06/07/617804581/will-trump-confront-n-koreas-human-rights-abuses-with-kim-well-see
Will Kim raise the subject of Guantanamo? Cops murdering unarmed Black and Brown people? Homelessness? People freezing to death because they can’t afford to turn on the heat? People dying from lack of health care? NPR doesn’t want to know. Nor are they concerned with the fact that US sanctions are a major contributor to the suffering of the Korean people, just as they are with the Iranian people, the Cuban people, and others.

CANDIDATES FOR “MOST MISLEADING”:

*North Korea's three new military leaders are loyal to Kim, not policies

https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKCN1J01GT
Says who? Says “a senior U.S. official and North Korea leadership analysts in Seoul”. It could be true. Or it could be as true as the 2016 report from the BBC that “North Korea has executed its army chief of staff Ri Yong-gil,” the man who was just named as the Army’s Chief of General Staff.

Days after Taliban assault in western Afghanistan, allegations of an Iranian role

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/days-after-taliban-assault-in-western-afghanistan-allegations-of-an-iranian-role/2018/06/05/a65ec934-605d-11e8-b656-236c6214ef01_story.html
But zero actual EVIDENCE. A headline (and article) produced for one reason only — to advance the anti-Iran agenda.

Pentagon: ‘No one will ever know’ how many civilians U.S. has killed in fight against ISIS

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/pentagonno-one-will-ever-know-how-many-civilians-us-has-killed-in-fight-against-isis/2018/06/05/4b3fec30-6900-11e8-bbc5-dc9f3634fa0a_story.html
On the one hand, this isn't misleading at all. The Colonel in charge says "I am just being honest, no one will ever know. Anyone who claims they will know is lying, and there’s no possible way." And he's right. But it's also a way of covering up the fact that they just don't care to know, just like in Afghanistan or Iraq, despite his claim of "the U.S. military’s best efforts to assess civilian casualties." Also a way to pretend that "“We adhere to a meticulous targeting and strike process that always aims to minimize harm to noncombatants and civilian infrastructure."

Ivanka Trump Was In Contact With A Russian Who Offered A Trump-Putin Meeting

https://www.buzzfeed.com/anthonycormier/ivanka-trump-putin-moscow-meeting-michael-cohen-tower
But from the article: "There is no evidence that Ivanka Trump’s contact with the athlete — the former Olympic weightlifter Dmitry Klokov — was illegal or that it had anything to do with the election. Nor is it clear that Klokov could even have introduced Trump to the Russian president. But congressional investigators have reviewed emails and questioned witnesses about the interaction, according to two of the sources, and so has special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, according to the other two."

At least 100 killed in Nicaragua as political violence intensifies
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/death-toll-reaches-100-in-nicaragua-as-political-violence-intensifies/2018/06/01/74bd5a64-65b0-11e8-81ca-bb14593acaa6_story.html?noredirect=on
100 is the total “since the uprising began” (in April), and the article contains no information about how many of the 100 were government supporters vs government opponents (or who killed them).

CANDIDATES FOR “FUNNIEST”:

*American Airlines to debut smaller bathrooms for North American flights

https://wsvn.com/news/us-world/american-airlines-to-debut-smaller-bathrooms-for-north-american-flights/#.Wxbmg9SE77g.facebook
How is that even possible??? “bathrooms on the new Boeing 737-Max airplanes will now be only 24 inches wide, which many have said is too small for most adults”. Most caskets? 28” wide!!!


*Israel Responds With 'Mean Girls' GIF After Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei's Nuclear Threats

http://www.newsweek.com/israel-ayatollah-ali-khamenei-mean-girls-regina-george-iran-twitter-embassy-957440?amp=1
Rachel McAdams (as Israel) saying “Why are you so obsessed with me?” Gee, I wonder. The real (and probably unintended) insult—in this analogy, Iran is Lindsay Lohan. Incidentally Khamenei did not make any “nuclear threats”. He ordered increased enrichment (within the scope of the JCPOA) and said “Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor in the West Asian region that has to be removed and eradicated”, which is actually a threat, but not a nuclear one.

A Kentucky crowd cheered a valedictorian for quoting Trump. Then he told them it was Obama.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2018/06/04/a-kentucky-crowd-cheered-a-valedictorian-for-quoting-trump-then-he-told-them-it-was-obama/
Funny for what it says about the polarization in America, but for sure it could have also been the other way around. Like this Trump quote about deporting unaccompanied minors: “They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are.” Oh wait, that was Hillary Clinton.

New report finds no evidence that having sex with robots is healthy

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2018/06/04/theres-no-evidence-that-having-sex-with-robots-is-healthy-new-report-finds/?noredirect=on
Maker of sex robot says: “Roxxxy, our sex robot, provides what every adult needs — unconditional love and support. The ability to feel the loving embrace of a lover is a right every adult should be granted. We provide a solution to help adults meet their social as well as sexual needs.”
Ethics professor: “It offends me that they think a hu



Friday, June 01, 2018


 

Headlines for June 1, 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.

CANDIDATES FOR “WORST”/"MOST DISGUSTING":

*Syria war: Russians killed in militant raid in Deir al-Zour

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-44271676
“Militants”? As the article itself makes completely clear, although not until the ninth paragraph of the article, this is ISIS we’re talking about here. When they kill Americans, they’re “terrorists”, but when they kill Russians, they’re “militants”.

*Freedom Flotilla foiled: Israel blocks Palestinian attempt to leave Gaza by sea
https://www.rt.com/news/428150-freedom-flotilla-gaza-blocked/
Nothing wrong with this headline. What’s wrong is the ABSENCE of this headline from the WaPo, NYT, CNN, BBC, or ANY “mainstream” outlet.

*Russian journalist faked death to foil murder plot

http://www.uticaod.com/news/20180530/russian-journalist-faked-death-to-foil-murder-plot?template=ampart
A day after uncritically accepting the word of the Ukrainians that Arkady Babchenko was dead, the media uncritically accepts their word that a Russian plot existed and was foiled! Fool me once…

Trump is hiding the number of civilians the U.S. has killed. Congress must act.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/trump-is-hiding-the-number-of-civilians-the-us-has-killed-congress-must-act/2018/05/29/74775730-636c-11e8-99d2-0d678ec08c2f_story.html?utm_term=.d8fc9d18eafa
Article discusses civilian deaths in Yemen and Somalia. Trump, Obama, Bush, the media…Johnson… To think this practice started with Trump is delusional. By the way this op-ed appeared on the same day a front-page story revealed a study showing 4,645 people died in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria, not 64 as the government says.

Women's arrests cast doubt on Saudi Crown Prince's reforms

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2018/05/26/middleeast/womens-arrests-saudi-reforms-intl/index.html
“Cast doubt” is putting it mildly, but that’s not why I listed it here. I did so because CNN finally is running this story on May 26, a week after the arrests happened.

Could the U.S. fight dual wars in North Korea and Iran? After diplomacy breaks down, questions loom.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/could-the-us-fight-dual-wars-in-north-korea-and-iran-after-diplomacy-breaks-down-questions-loom/2018/05/25/691b78b6-604d-11e8-8c93-8cf33c21da8d_story.html?utm_term=.25b9318e1ee0
A headline you only see in the news if you live in the most imperialist, warmongering state the world has ever known. And, since this is (for all intents and purposes) US state media, not a word suggesting that such wars would be initiated by the US and would be utterly illegal, Nuremberg-level war crimes.

CANDIDATES FOR “MOST MISLEADING”:

Trump Draws Distance From Administration Migrant Policy That Has Separated Families
https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-blames-democrats-for-his-administrations-migrant-family-separation-policy-1527353230
Trump can single-handedly end the Iran nuclear deal, impose tariffs on other countries, and initiate and then cancel a summit with the DPRK, but apparently is unable to tell ICE what to do? Please. This is typical Trump having his cake and eating it too and the media letting him do it. Reminiscent of his claims about DACA, after personally ending it.

*At Trump Tower, Michael Cohen and Oligarch Discussed Russian Relations
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/25/us/politics/michael-cohen-viktor-vekselberg-trump-tower.html
Headline conveniently omits that the meeting was AFTER the election. And in very 1st sentence, we read this: "a billionaire Russian businessman with ties to the Kremlin", but doesn't elaborate on those ties.  In fact he has no more ties to his government than any billionaire has to theirs; arguably less—several of his top associates were arrested in 2016: https://www.vox.com/world/2018/5/11/17337448/viktor-vekselberg-michael-cohen-trump-russia

Did the news media, led by Walter Cronkite, lose the war in Vietnam?
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/did-the-news-media-led-by-walter-cronkite-lose-the-war-in-vietnam/2018/05/25/a5b3e098-495e-11e8-827e-190efaf1f1ee_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.efb2eb9f49ac
Walter Cronkite DID influence American opinion, but the framing is all wrong. It was the TRUTH that changed American opinion, not the media telling that truth.

CANDIDATES FOR “FUNNIEST”:

*Trump, fast-food lover and exercise avoider, tells nation about importance of fitness
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/05/30/trump-fast-food-lover-and-exercise-avoider-lectures-nation-on-importance-of-fitness/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.faa7ec38c678
“even when he golfs, Trump eschews walking, preferring to take a golf cart, even driving onto greens, which is normally frowned upon”. This story gives “draft-evading Trump speaks in Memorial Day & praises soldiers” a run for its money.

*Mattis Says China Is ‘Out of Step’ With International Law

https://www.wsj.com/articles/mattis-says-china-is-out-of-step-with-international-law-1527636790
LOL. The U.S., on the other hand, is simply above International Law.



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