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Friday, November 08, 2019


Headlines for Nov. 8, 2019

Click here (check back later for link) 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 Nov. 8, 2019

*Bill Gates’ 5 Secrets To Happiness Are Surprisingly Affordable
*Bill Gates criticises Elizabeth Warren's plan for tax on super-rich
So Bill doesn’t think you need money to be happy, but keep your hands off his!

Then these…
*The Billionaires Are Getting Nervous
*Cartier boss with $7.5bn fortune says prospect of the poor rising up 'keeps him awake at night'
In case you’re wondering where the push for UBI is coming: The multi-billionaire owner of luxury jewellery company Cartier has revealed his greatest fear – robots replacing workers and the poor rising up to bring down the rich. 

*Apple is donating $2.5 billion towards the California housing crisis
This is SO misleading. They make it sound like Apple is giving away $2.5B. As Bernie Sanders (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/04/bernie-sanders-slams-apples-2point5-billion-housing-pledge.html)  put it so well: “Apple is the latest tech industry tax evader that has portrayed its entry into the housing business as an act of philanthropic altruism.” Most of it is an *investment fund*, loans that Apple will be paid back, presumably with interest. They’re doing this because they have so much money they can’t use it for their own needs.
“The money is not an out-and-out donation but rather a spending plan with different pots of money and land assigned to different efforts.”
$1 billion will go towards an affordable housing investment fund which Cook said will "provide the state and others with an open line of credit to develop and build additional new, very low- to moderate-income housing faster and at a lower cost."
Another $1 billion will be put into a first-time homebuyer mortgage assistance fund.
$300 million of Apple-owned land in San Jose will be given over to build affordable housing.
$150 million is going towards "Bay Area housing fund" which will be run in tandem with nonprofits including the Housing Trust Silicon Valley.
$50 million (2% of the total) is a straight donation to homelessness charity Destination: Home.

An exact repeat of the story from June 21 of this year:
Google Pledges $1 Billion For Affordable Housing
Google promises $1 billion to help fix Bay Area housing crisis it helped create
To read the headline, you would think this was philanthropy. Maybe they’re emulating the Venezuelan government and building housing to give away to workers? Not at all, this is an investment on which they will be making profit. Even the headline referencing “affordable housing” is a lie. From the article: “housing will be “at all income levels in the Bay Area, including housing options for middle and low-income families.” The details reveal that: $750M of that Billion is just repurposing land it owns from commercial to residential and lease it to developers, and the other $250M is an investment fund for developers who pledge to build affordable housing. Then there is “$50 million in grants for nonprofits that deal with homelessness and displacement,” which of course is tax-deductible. Basically it just reflects that they have more money than they know what to do with, plus their realization that if they want to retain employees they’ve got to do something about housing prices in the Bay Area.

*I worked on political ads at Facebook. They profit by manipulating us.
Um, isn’t that how *all* political ads (all ads of any kind, in fact) work? Try googling “Harry and Louise” just for starters. The ads featured a fictional 40-something, middle-class married couple named Harry and Louise despairing over the government getting involved in health insurance and how it would certainly mess up their own coverage, including making them change doctors, and put an end to Clinton’s attempt at something like the ACA in the early 90’s.

*Embassy seizure four decades ago leaves a legacy of bitterness between Iran and the United States
I’m pretty sure it was actually the CIA overthrow of Mossadegh and the installation of the Shah 66 years ago. Encouraging Iraq to attack Iran also didn’t help. By contrast, the US perspective: “The State Department said the event will serve as “a reminder of the long history of malign behavior by the Iranian regime and the danger it has posed to the United States and the world over the past 40 years.””

*The Mueller Report Illustrated: The Obstruction Investigation
Talk about rewriting history! It was a “collusion” investigation, not an obstruction investigation!

With student’s death, Hong Kong uprising enters perilous new phase
“He fell one story in a parking garage in the Tseung Kwan O neighborhood while police officers were dispersing protesters nearby. Local reports have said that he was about 130 yards from police officers. Chow’s death could be the first directly connected to a police confrontation with protesters.”
So the accidental death of one student in Hong Kong starts a “perilous new phase”, but not the deaths of scores in Chile or hundreds in Iraq.

Democrats in Battleground States Prefer Moderate Nominee, Poll Shows
It’s true that when asked a general question, respondents did answer that way. But asked about specific candidates, the numbers for Biden plus Buttigieg almost exactly equal those for Sanders plus Warren, and in turn equal the number of undecided. So the conclusion in the headline is dubious at best.

One Year From Election, Trump Trails Biden but Leads Warren in Battlegrounds
This week’s entry in the “black out Bernie” competition. The poll matched up Trump vs. Biden, Sanders, & Warren. Biden led in 4 of 6 battleground states, Sanders in 3, Warren in just 1. But almost every result was well within the margin of error, i.e., Trump is basically tied with all three in all six states.

Monday, November 04, 2019


Wiping Israel off the map

There's a new controversy on Twitter, thanks to something written by Ariel Elyse Gold: "Note: when Iranians chant “death to America,” “death to Israel,” they are not calling for the deaths of people but empire and imperialism." Ben Shapiro responded: "This may be the single stupidest comment ever written".

To provide the answer to this, I'm reprinting here something I wrote on this blog on December 12, 2006 (I have to reprint it because the direct link to that post doesn't work, and, by the way, all the links in that post are expired too, unfortunately, so you'll have to trust me on this):

Ahmadinejad clarifies the meaning of "wiped out"

The standard meme, repeated in the article I'm about to cite here, is that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has called for Israel "to be wiped off the map." More than a year ago I wrote:
A reading of Ahmadinejad's statement suggests quite clearly that the "wiped off the map" is to be taken literally (i.e., that the political boundaries of the region should be redrawn), and not figurately as meaning "wiped off the face of the earth." He explicitly denies that he is talking about "A fight between Judaism and other religions," and explicitly describes the endpoint of the struggle in the Middle East by saying: "It will be over the day a Palestinian government, which belongs to the Palestinian people, comes to power; the day that all refugees return to their homes; a democratic government elected by the people comes to power." There is no talk of "driving the Jews into the sea" or "waging war against Israel" or anything remotely along those lines, merely the expression of support for the goal of a democratic Palestinian state.
Others, who could actually read the original in Farsi, argued for an interpretation of "eliminated from the pages of history," but I'd say that's virtually equivalent to what I wrote.
Now along comes Ahmadinejad, not particularly attempting to clarify the remark, but doing so anyway:
"Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out."
Now I hardly need to remind readers that the Soviet Union was not defeated militarily (although the Nazis tried), but self-destructed with a large push from the imperialist world. Nor was the country "destroyed" in any physical sense. What it was was literally (well, nearly literally) "wiped off the map" (or "wiped out" in the latest formulation), that is, the words "Soviet Union" no longer appear on any current map. And in just the same way, Ahmadinejad (and millions more around the world) envision the word "Israel" being "wiped off the map" as a more just, democratic state takes its place.

Incidentally, although the Soviet Union per se was not physically destroyed, hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of former residents of that country have perished thanks to the replacement of the socialist economy with a capitalist one, with life expectancy dropping sharply.

Friday, November 01, 2019


Headlines for Nov. 1, 2019

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 Nov. 1, 2019

The week of the rapidly mutating headlines:

*Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48
Changed to: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48
Buried in the article, and harking back to the original headline, is this reminder that the "death toll of the Iraq invasion" continues to this day:
"[Baghdadi] spent his early adult years as an obscure academic, aiming for a quiet life as a professor of Islamic law. But the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 upended his plans and launched him on a course toward insurgency, prison and violent jihad."

*Lebanon Battles to Be Born at Last
[Original opening line of the subhead, since deleted: The Middle East could use a decent country.] One million Lebanese protesters are demanding change. Hezbollah has other ideas.

*Chile’s People Have Had Enough [of Neoliberalism]

*Chile’s protests are a result of the country’s economic success
Brilliant insight from Andrés Oppenheimer, who wrote “Castro’s Final Hour”…in 1993!

Chile Cancels APEC Summit, Where U.S. Hoped to Sign Deal With China
Chile cancels international conference where Trump hoped to sign trade deal with China
Both carefully avoiding mentioning the *reason* for the cancellation in the headline.

*How millennials have killed the Manhattan power lunch
Lest you get the wrong idea, it's NOT that the article is about how most millenials struggle to pay their rent and afford food at McDonalds. It's about how younger executives prefer lighter dishes and mineral water to prime rib and martinis, and pick at salads at their desks.

*The crazy Hillary Clinton-Tulsi Gabbard fight
Without rehashing the whole Clinton v. Gabbard controversy, I just wanted to highlight this one line: Gabbard "repeating the RT-approved phrase 'regime change war' nine times in the last Democratic debate"

*Russia is openly honing its fake-news skills in Africa
There isn’t a word in this article about any false news. Example: “Another ad taken down by Facebook pushed for a real-life Russian policy that could help advance Prigozhin's goals in the CAR. The publication featured a photo of Putin and CAR president Faustin-Archange Touadéra at the Africa summit with a caption urging the UN to lift the arms embargo imposed on the country to allow for Russia's supplies of heavy weapons.”

*How Americans Split on Health Care: It’s a 3-Way Tie
The article totally omits the actual numbers, but if you click on the link in the article to the actual survey, the result is 32% favor Medicare for All, 28% for improving the ACA, and 29% for replacing the ACA with letting states design their own health insurance systems. Definitely close, but also definitely not a 3-way tie; Medicare for All is clearly the favorite choice. However…where was “the existing system” in this survey? Or just “scrap the ACA and go back to what we had before”?
But today about an Iowa poll (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/01/us/politics/iowa-poll-warren-biden.html) : “Warren Leads Tight Iowa Race” in which we have Warren 22, Sanders 19, Buttigieg 18, Biden 17

Friday, October 25, 2019


Headlines for Oct. 25, 2019

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 Oct. 25, 2019

*Cory Booker read Rosario Dawson a 250-page bedtime story about World War II

https://www.thecut.com/2019/10/cory-booker-read-rosario-dawson-a-250-page-book-on-the-phone.html [New York Magazine]
A 250-plus-page novel set in Leningrad during World War II called “City of Thieves”! Author of the article estimates 5 to 7 hours reading time.

*‘C’est moi’: Mitt Romney admits to running secret Twitter account under the alias ‘Pierre Delecto’
Definitely delectable.

*Mitt Romney said everyone in the Senate is 'really nice' except for Bernie Sanders, who 'just kind of scowls'

Edward Snowden searched the CIA's networks for proof that aliens exist.
"For the record, as far as I could tell, aliens have never contacted Earth, or at least they haven't contacted US intelligence," Snowden writes in his recent memoir, "Permanent Record." Also, the moon landing did indeed occur. "In case you were wondering: Yes, man really did land on the moon. Climate change is real. Chemtrails are not a thing,"

*Bolivia: Authorities must respect the right to peaceful protest
This press release was issued at the very time supporters of the defeated right-wing opposition were burning down the headquarters of the electoral authority. Reminiscent of Pelosi tweeting yesterday how the protesters in Hong Kong were “reminding the world of the power of nonviolent action.”

*Bernie Sanders struggles to rebound: Staffing, strategy, health
The day after Sanders' huge (20-25,000) rally in New York. CNN did have an article about the rally itself, headlined "'I am back!" Sanders declares at campaign rally with AOC", but nothing in the headline or the article noted that this was arguably the largest Democratic rally held so far.

Poll: Biden and Warren both beat Trump and Pence in Florida
Last week we had a story (also in The Hill) where only Sanders beat Trump but they left that out of the headline. This is worse. The polling organization (Univ. of North Florida) *only polled not just Biden and Warren but also Warren and Buttigieg* vs. Trump BUT NOT SANDERS!!

*Trump Sent Attorney General William Barr To Rome In Search Of A Deep State Plot. Italian Intelligence Says There’s Nothing There.
Because Intelligence agencies *always* tell the truth about who their assets are. 

Mark Zuckerberg: Chinese Tech Companies ‘Don’t Share Our Values’ As Americans
Curious to know what “values” those are? Keeping a record of every thing they do online? Recording their conversations? Monetizing every aspect of their lives?

*Trump’s focus on protecting oil in Syria highlights an evolving U.S. mission
“Evolving”? How about “utterly illegal and unauthorized”? The article leads with the administration’s cover story that it’s trying to protect the oil from ISIS, but by the 5th paragraph admits the mission is “ at least partly keeping the country’s own government from possessing all its oil fields”…but still fails to utter the words “illegal under international law” or “regime change” in conjunction with that statement.

The crazy Hillary Clinton-Tulsi Gabbard fight
Without rehashing the whole Clinton v. Gabbard controversy, I just wanted to highlight this one line: Gabbard "repeating the RT-approved phrase 'regime change war' nine times in the last Democratic debate"

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