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Tuesday, September 15, 2020


 

"Russian bounties" story falls apart


 At the end of June, headlines in the New York Times reported a bombshell: "Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says". Make no mistake, though, this wasn't really a Times' story, it was a CIA press release disguised as a news story. Literally the only original reporting in the story was the Times asking the DoD, Russia and the Taliban for comment (the last two denied it vigorously).

That story quickly made its way to all other media, and just as quickly, the "intelligence says" part was forgotten and it became a simple truth promoted by media and Democrats as well — "Russia paid bounties." From there, and just as quickly, the story became "why didn't Trump do something about it?"; indeed, a Lincoln Project ad on that theme appeared just days after the initial New York Times story.

From the start, that story was suspect, despite the way it became "truth". For starters, there was the timing. Just a month before, Trump had announced plans for a U.S. pullout from Afghanistan by election day. The appearance of this story shortly thereafter was likely not a coincidence, and indeed, that presumed motivation for the leak became reality as Democrats, working with Liz Cheney, pushed through an amendment to the NDAA which made it harder to Trump to withdraw troops.

Secondly, the story was suspect because it didn't make sense. The Taliban had been at war with, and killing, U.S. forces for 19 years. They hardly needed "bounties" from Russia to continue that war and that killing.

Thirdly, it quickly became known that the NSA, arguably the most unbiased of the intelligence agencies, "strongly dissented" from the conclusion of other intelligence agencies. And even without that dissent, if you looked at the actual evidence which was made public, it was thin gruel indeed.

That "Russian bounties" was a sketchy (at best) story was obvious to at least some people at the time, among them, myself. On both my July 2 and July 10 appearances on Loud & Clear, I spoke about the subject.

And now, two and a half months after the initial story, two and a half months in which "Russian bounties" has continued to be a "fact" as opposed to an accusation, two and a half months in which "Trump did nothing" became one of the weapons in Democrats' (otherwise completely justified) attacks on Trump, the other shoe has dropped:

"Two months after top Pentagon officials vowed to get to the bottom of whether the Russian government bribed the Taliban to kill American service members, the commander of troops in the region says a detailed review of all available intelligence has not been able to corroborate the existence of such a program.

""It just has not been proved to a level of certainty that satisfies me," Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, told NBC News. McKenzie oversees U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. continues to hunt for new information on the matter, he said.

""We continue to look for that evidence," the general said. "I just haven't seen it yet. But … it's not a closed issue."

"McKenzie's comments, reflecting a consensus view among military leaders, underscores the lack of certainty around a narrative that has been accepted as fact by Democrats and other Trump critics, including presidential nominee Joe Biden, who has cited Russian bounties in attacks on President Donald Trump."
Interestingly, neither the New York Times, Washington Post, or CNN has yet covered McKenzie's remarks. Only The Hill, the National Review, RT and Sputnik have reported the story (in addition to the original story from NBC News).


Friday, August 28, 2020


 

Headlines for Aug. 28, 2020


 


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 time slot.
 
 

Worst, Most Misleading & Funniest Headlines for August 28, 2020


*William Shatner rails against Space Force officer ranks in op-ed

https://thehill.com/blogs/in-the-know/in-the-know/513764-william-shatner-rails-against-space-force-officer-rankings-in-op-ed

Captain Kirk insists space commanders are “Captains”, not “Colonels”!


*Bucks boycott Game 5 of NBA playoff series to protest social injustice

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2020/08/26/bucks-boycott-nba-playoff-game/ [Headline since changed, but still avoiding the word “strike”]

*Led by N.B.A., Boycotts Disrupt Pro Sports in Wake of Blake Shooting

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/26/sports/basketball/nba-boycott-bucks-magic-blake-shooting.html

*What we know and don't know about the boycotts that stopped sports

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29749540/what-know-know-boycotts-stopped-sports

Boycotts are done by customers withholding their money; when employees (workers) withhold their labor, it’s called a strike, or in this case, really a wildcat strike. BBC calls it a “walkout” which is also ok.


*Natalie Harp said Trump saved her life. Experts doubt that’s true.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/08/25/natalie-harp-bone-cancer-trump/

False headline. Accurate headline based on the article: “That’s not true.” There’s no doubt about it, and no “experts” are needed to say so.

Two months before Trump even signed the law, Harp had already spoken online about receiving her new treatment. Medical experts say such applications — called “off-label use” — are common in cancer treatment and long predated the law. Right To Try, on the other hand, was supposed to help patients gain access to drugs that have not been “approved or licensed by the FDA for any use.”


*Postal service battles could also mean delays for those second $1,200 stimulus checks

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/17/postal-service-battles-could-also-delay-next-1200-stimulus-checks.html

What $1200 checks? Even the subhead acknowledges: “…crucial deliveries Americans are counting on. That could include a second round of stimulus checks, if Congress authorizes them.”


*Merkel Demands Kremlin Answer After Poison Found in Navalny

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpVzl36g_oM

Bloomberg can’t keep their story straight. The video’s title says “Poison found in Navalny” but even the subtitle says he was “likely poisoned”; no poison has been “found”. They have found symptoms which suggest poisoning, but eight days later no poison has been identified.


*A Dictatorship in Belarus Is Shaken

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/14/opinion/belarus-protests.html

Lukashenko has been elected multiple times & by all accounts at least until recently he was quite popular. Despite this, NYT (& others) call him a “dictator”. Jeanine Añez seized power in a military coup; NYT calls her “Bolivian President” or “interim President”. Never dictator.


*Belarus opposition candidate flees to Lithuania amid crackdown on election protests

https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/11/europe/belarus-opposition-leader-flees-intl/index.html

Article also claims she “was forced out of the country”, but there’s no evidence for either description. She left, voluntarily, without making any claim of being threatened.


*Putin: Russian forces ready to enter Belarus to end protests

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/08/putin-russian-forces-ready-enter-belarus-protests-200827102415846.html

It’s not “Russian forces”, meaning military, it’s Russian police. I realize that US cops are more militarized than most armed forces, but that’s not true of cops everywhere.


*With a mix of covert disinformation and blatant propaganda, foreign adversaries bear down on final phase of presidential campaign

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/with-a-mix-of-covert-disinformation-and-blatant-propaganda-foreign-adversaries-bear-down-on-final-phase-of-presidential-campaign/2020/08/20/57997b7a-dbf1-11ea-8051-d5f887d73381_story.html

“Bear down” (meaning “step up”) implies an escalation of activity; there is zero evidence in this article any such thing is happening.

“At least three countries — Russia, China and Iran — have taken aim at the campaigns themselves and tried to stir the passions of voters, with a mix of covert “information laundering” and some ham-handed propaganda.”

Here’s one line from the article: “Whereas China will often use stolen social media accounts with random followers or bots that have no followers at all…”


Republicans shatter norms by using government roles during political convention

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/25/melania-trump-republican-convention-speech-mike-pompeo-tiffany-rand-paul-latest

Those weren’t just “norms” being shattered, they were laws.


*As Politicians Clashed, Bolivia’s Pandemic Death Rate Soared

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/22/world/americas/virus-bolivia.html

It wasn’t “clashing politicians” that was the problem, it was a right-wing U.S.-supported coup government that is the problem. Here’s how the NYT describes that coup: “But its ability to respond was undermined by a contested election that led to the ouster in November of the then-president, Evo Morales, a socialist. An interim president, Jeanine Añez, a conservative, stepped in with a promise to govern until elections could be held.”


*Wearing a neck gaiter may be worse than no mask at all, researchers find

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/mask-test-duke-covid/2020/08/10/4f2bb888-db18-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html

Yeah, no.

*Save the Gaiters!

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/17/well/live/coronavirus-gaiters-masks.html

“Both gaiters [single layer and double layer] prevented 100 percent of very large, 20-micron droplets from splattering another foam head just 30 centimeters away. Both masks blocked 50 percent or more of one-micron aerosols. The single layer gaiter blocked only 10 percent of 0.5-micron particles, while the two-layer gaiter blocked 20 percent. Notably, when the single-layer gaiter was doubled, it blocked more than 90 percent of all particles measured. By comparison, a homemade cotton T-shirt mask, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, blocked about 40 percent of the smallest particles.”


KFC suspends its 'finger lickin' good' slogan because of coronavirus

https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/24/business/kfc-slogan-coronavirus-trnd/index.html

Not The Onion




Friday, August 14, 2020


 

Headlines for Aug. 14, 2020


 


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 time slot.

 

 

Worst, Most Misleading & Funniest Headlines for August 14, 2020


*Enhanced unemployment would continue at $400 per week under new Trump executive order

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/10/enhanced-unemployment-would-continue-at-400-per-week-under-trump-executive-order.html [Monday, 1:22 pm]

Should have read “Trump executive order cuts enhanced unemployment to $400/week”

*Trump’s proposed extra unemployment could amount to $300 a week instead of $400, and you may not qualify

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/10/extra-unemployment-could-be-300-a-week-and-you-may-not-qualify.html [Monday, 4:45 pm]

Trump’s order says recipients would have to collect at least $100 weekly in other unemployment insurance to qualify for the extra federal benefits.

Additionally, states would need to chip in 25% ($100) of the $400 weekly extra.

States could count the first $100 they pay in unemployment benefits toward their share, thereby reducing the total extra amount to $300.

*Waiting on that extra $400 unemployment benefit? Here’s what we know so far

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/13/waiting-on-that-extra-400-unemployment-benefit-heres-what-we-know.html [Thursday]

Days later they’re still pushing the $400 figure!


*Trump says open schools. Teachers say safety first. As cases rise, unions may win.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2020/08/13/covid-cases-back-to-school-reopening-teachers-union-trump/3312750001/

How about “students may win”? Or “sanity will prevail”?


*A ‘radical’ leftist who is ‘against God’? Trump paints Biden in a picture many don’t recognize.

Subhead on web: The president has concocted a profile of the presumptive Democratic nominee at odds with much of Joe Biden’s personal and professional life.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-portray-biden-radical/2020/08/09/36776aa6-d8cc-11ea-9c3b-dfc394c03988_story.html

Who are these people who think Biden is a “radical leftist” who is “against God”? Even Trump doesn’t really believe it. And “much of”? Which part of Biden’s life fits that profile?


How TikTok and ByteDance could be using — and abusing — user data

https://www.businessinsider.com/how-tiktok-and-bytedance-could-be-using-abusing-user-data-2020-8

“Could be”.

“they have access to data that can be used to make facial recognition and AI algorithms more accurate, for instance. What are the security implications of that? Well, we see in China how such technology is used in very invasive ways for surveillance, and the more accurate it is, the more effective it can be.”

First, most Americans don’t look like most Chinese, so improving facial recognition of Caucasian and Black and Latino faces isn’t helping China recognize Chinese faces any better, and they already have a data set of hundreds of millions anyway. Second, note the implicit conflation between “security”, which we assume to mean “our national security”, and China’s surveillance of its own population, which has nothing to do with our national security.

“What a company like TikTok is doing isn't fundamentally different [than Facebook or Google]. The difference, potentially, is the intent, and how that data can be used.” And what is that intent? They have no idea, but just assume the worst!


*U.S. intelligence report on Trump-Biden election meddling reveals who Russia, China and Iran want to win

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/07/us-intel-russia-trying-to-hurt-biden-but-china-iran-dont-want-trump.html

First of all, after all Trump has done to China and Iran, it would hardly take a genius to know that both would prefer to see Trump lose, although the idea that the intelligence community “knows this” as if they’ve been intercepting the internal communications of Chinese and Iranian leaders is doubtful (although possible). But running that under a headline about “election meddling” is totally misleading; there is nothing in this article about Chinese or Iranian interference. And what about Israel? Taiwan? Ukraine? Are there any other governments who have a preference in the next election? Are they doing anything to advance their interests?


Iran seeks to undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections. Iran is likely focusing on online influence operations, including social-media disinformation campaigns and promulgating anti-American content.”


“China has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China.”


U.S. intelligence assesses that the Kremlin “is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment.’” Russian officials are “spreading claims about corruption” to try to “undermine” Biden and the Democratic Party, the statement said. “Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television,” it said.


From the statement: “For example, pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach is spreading claims about corruption – including through publicizing leaked phone calls – to undermine former Vice President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party. Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.”


Here’s how things get twisted. Bloomberg headline:

*U.S. Intelligence Agencies Say China and Iran Want Trump to Lose

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-07/u-s-intelligence-agencies-say-china-iran-want-trump-to-lose

But then Bloomberg promotes that accurate headline with this tweet: “U.S. intelligence agencies say China and Iran are working to sway voters against Trump while Russia is working against Biden.”


Belarus opposition candidate flees to Lithuania amid crackdown on election protests

https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/11/europe/belarus-opposition-leader-flees-intl/index.html

Article also claims she “was forced out of the country”, but there’s no evidence for either description. She left, voluntarily, without making any claim of being threatened.


'Europe's last dictator' up for reelection, faces unprecedented challenge to his rule

https://abcnews.go.com/International/europes-dictator-reelection-faces-unprecedented-challenge-rule/story

Just a typical example of how “state-affiliated” news outlets report the news.


Print (front page): Facing insecurity at home, China’s Xi takes on the world

Web: A lion or a porcupine? Insecurity drives China’s Xi to take on the world.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/china-trump-xi-cold-war-asia-conflict-huawei-tiktok-communist-party/2020/08/07/5a6531c4-cc91-11ea-99b0-8426e26d203b_story.html

The actual story described in the article is “U.S. leads all-out war (short of shooting) on China, not “China takes on the world”. The “evidence” for the “insecurity” which features so prominently in the headline? "officials and analysts…say China’s refusal to back down on external disputes large and small stems from a sense of political insecurity and economic pressure at home."


A Bible Burning, a Russian News Agency and a Story Too Good to Check Out

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/11/us/politics/russia-disinformation-election-meddling.html

NYT turns a simple Ruptly video tweet & RT article about a minor but true event into Russian “disinformation”, & lies in the process, claiming tweets & article were about the Bible burning, when in fact they give equal billing to the flag burning.




Friday, August 07, 2020


 

Headlines for Aug. 7, 2020




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 time slot.

Worst, Most Misleading & Funniest Headlines for August 7, 2020

*State Dept. Traces Russian Disinformation Links
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/us/politics/state-department-russian-disinformation.html
Article highlights The Strategic Culture Foundation, Global Research, New Eastern Outlook, News Front, SouthFront, Katehon, Geopolitica.ru. The only one I've ever heard of is Global Research, which "is a Canadian website that has become deeply enmeshed in Russia’s broader disinformation and propaganda ecosystem."
What are they really concerned about? From the State Department report (not the NYT article), https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/USSTATEBPA/2020/08/05/file_attachments/1512230/Pillars%20of%20Russias%20Disinformation%20and%20Propaganda%20Ecosystem_08-04-20%20%281%29.pdf
about one of the frequent authors on one of their “suspect sites”:
Finian Cunningham, who is originally from Belfast and has a background in agricultural chemistry, is the second-most prolific author for SCF, publishing more than 550 articles since 2012. In one SCF article, he refers to the United States as a “lawless rogue state.” His other SCF articles include:
• Give North Korea some respect
• Putin Stands Out as a Real World Leader
• Washington Choreographing All-Out War with Russia?
• The Year US-led Capitalism Became Exposed as Root of Global Conflict.
Disinformation, or just a point of view the US government doesn’t want Americans to hear? The real “cancel culture”.

In this article about “Russian disinformation “, these are the only two examples—one conspiracy theory no more bizarre than the “it was created in a Chinese lab” & “sent” (Trump’s word) to the US, & another echoing Trump’s claim pandemic was a “hoax”:
“The State Department report also highlights how the websites have spread disinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding the pandemic, most notably the false story that the novel coronavirus was created in an American military lab.
“One false story by Global Research claiming that the coronavirus pandemic was not real was then spread by 70 other sites and publications, Ms. Gabrielle said.” From early March: “Today WHO declared the coronavirus COVID-19 a “pandemic” – when there is not the slightest trace of a pandemic. A pandemic might be the condition, when the death to infection rate reaches more than 12%. In Europe, the death rate is about 0.4%, or less.”

*A former KGB spy talks disinformation tactics and the 2020 election
https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/30/tech/2020-election-russia-disinformation/index.html
"Feeding incendiary documents to news outlets. Infiltrating activist groups. Sowing division and confusion. It might sound like a recap of Russia's efforts to meddle in the 2016 US election, but some of these same tactics were laid bare in a CNN television report on Soviet disinformation efforts back in 1983."
Sure sounds like the CIA and the FBI to me. But you won’t find that mentioned in this article.

*Joaquin Castro is leading a generational revolution to shake up Democrats' outdated foreign policy
https://www.businessinsider.com/joaquin-castro-bid-foreign-affairs-committee-democrats-foreign-policy-wars-2020-7
"In Castro's mind, the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force approved by Congress in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks has been a Pandora's Box of American military and diplomatic chaos…Castro's proposal is simple: pass a better AUMF that restricts future presidents' ability to commit American troops to battle without full congressional oversight and approval."
Right on cue, Biden announces a new adviser for Latin American affairs — Republican Ana Navarro, whose father was a contra in Nicaragua, who raised money for the contras, and who recently said Maduro should get on a plane “and fly straight to hell”.

*After Beirut blasts, international aid and rescue workers pour into city
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/after-beirut-explosions-international-aid-and-rescue-workers-pour-into-stricken-city/2020/08/06/76e29762-d752-11ea-a788-2ce86ce81129_story.html
Article which follows is all about Macron showing up and promising “to spearhead an international aid effort for Lebanon”. There’s a picture of a Russian plane delivering aid, but no mention of that in the article, and no mention at all of the Iranian aid which was the first to arrive on site.

*Iran Will Expand Nuclear Program and Won’t Talk to U.S., Ayatollah Says
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/01/world/asia/iran-khamenei-us-sanctions.html
The phrase “nuclear power” does not appear a single time in this 870-word article. Not until the 9th paragraph do we even read “Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is meant exclusively for peaceful purposes” but the reader is left to guess what that means. And of course even that statement by Iran is immediately followed by a warning to readers that they should discount it: “but the United States and other countries believe it is pursuing the capacity to build a nuclear weapon.”

*Israeli jets strike targets in Syria, nearly 24 hours after foiling attack in Golan Heights
Thumbnail (earlier) headline: Israel kills four militants in Syria
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/israel-says-it-thwarted-an-attack-on-its-northern-border-with-syria/2020/08/03/d9670354-d555-11ea-a788-2ce86ce81129_story.html
The only evidence the WaPo has that this is true is this unverified video that from the description proves…nothing: “In a short clip released by the Israeli army, four figures are seen walking around rocky terrain, one of them picking something up and then putting it down. They are later seen walking across the land and then ducking right before an explosion engulfs them.”

Trump’s Syria Sanctions ‘Cannot Solve the Problem,’ Critics Say
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/04/world/middleeast/trump-assad-syria-sanctions.html
The assumptions in the headlines: A) There is a problem, and B) “We” have to solve it.

*Egypt tells Elon Musk its pyramids were not built by aliens
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-53627888
In response to Musk tweet: “Aliens built the pyramids obv”. This was presumably a troll, or maybe just a drunken tweet; the next day he tweeted “This BBC article provides a sensible summary for how it was done”.

Document exposes new US plot to overthrow Nicaragua’s elected socialist gov’t
https://thegrayzone.com/2020/08/04/usaid-document-nicaragua-coup/
This week’s #FakeNewsByOmission
Along with the response in Bolivia to the delayed election

Beirut explosions: Where did the ‘floating bomb’ cargo come from and is Russia connected?
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/beirut-explosion-port-ammonium-nitrate-floating-bomb-russia-lebanon-a9654906.html
Basically no. The ship was owned by A Russian (not by “Russia”) but was transporting a cargo from Georgia to Mozambique.

New Nominations to U.K. House of Lords Raise Old Concerns of Cronyism
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/04/world/house-of-lords-boris-johnson.html
Isn't that the whole function of the House of Lords?

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