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Friday, November 30, 2018


Headlines for Nov. 30, 2018

Worst, Most Misleading & Funniest Headlines (WMMFH) for Nov. 30, 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.


*Video Fact Check: 8 Putin Claims Regarding the Kerch Strait Incident
First, what is "Polygraph"? "Polygraph.info is a fact-checking website produced by Voice of America (VOA)​ and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty." In other words, it's the propaganda arm of the U.S. government. But it shows up in the Google News “Fact Check” column, which is how I found it. So Google is allowing the U.S. government to “fact check” the news. It was bad enough when they enlisted the right-wing Weekly Standard as one of their handful of approved fact-checkers. But now the U.S. government?
Samples of their "fact-checking", which read like a State Dept. press conference:
PUTIN: “In regards to the incident in the Black Sea – that, without a doubt, was a provocation.”
TRUE: This may be true, but if so, it was a Russian provocation, not a Ukrainian one.
That is a judgment, not a "fact".
PUTIN: “…in 2014 when Crimea decided to join Russia...”
FALSE: The Crimea didn’t “decide to join Russia.” The Russian military took the peninsula in unmarked uniforms and the part of the region “voted” under Russian occupation.
Why is "voted" in quotes? There was a plebescite, with an 83% voter turnout, and 97% voting to join Russia. Anyone opposed needed only to not vote (17%) or cast an invalid vote (<1 span="">
PUTIN: “The hard events of a civil war in Ukraine in the south-east in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.”
FALSE: There is no civil war in those regions, but rather a Russian invasion and occupation.
That's just ridiculous. Of course there's a civil war.


*40 million people with diabetes will be left without insulin by 2030, study predicts
The article’s lead: there are more and more people with diabetes worldwide. But the problem, which emerges in the penultimate paragraph, is the usual — profit. Studies (not mentioned in this article) say that 1 in 4 patients in the US are forced to ration insulin because of its cost, and some die as a result.

Trump demands action to reduce deficit, pushes new deficit spending
After a brief reference to "the GOP tax cut" in the 10th paragraph, the article doesn't get back to really discussing tax cuts and the bogus claims accompanying them (e.g., "the tax cuts will pay for themselves by producing a massive jump in economic growth") until the 27th paragraph. Why do I often emphasize which paragraph something appears in? Not just because everyone doesn’t read the whole article. But because in the Mercury News, which runs many WaPo articles, only the first 8 paragraphs appear.
Numbers: deficit increase from previous year was $113B; loss of revenues from tax cut was $202B.

*Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy
An hour after this story was published, following WikiLeaks tweeting denials that such a meeting had taken place, the headline was changed to read "Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy, sources say" (differences are seen in this link: https://www.newssniffer.co.uk/articles/1706143/diff/0/1 )
And of course the headline is deliberately sensationalized in the first place; ALL talks with Assange in the embassy are by definition "secret", obviously they aren't broadcast publicly nor are reporters present.
Tech tip: if you manage a website, and you update the headline on a story, it *is* possible to change the thumbnail that shows up on FB or Twitter (see below for details). But The Guardian hasn’t bothered. That means if anyone posts this story, their friends or followers will see the *original* headline, the one which presents the story as fact.
FB Debugger: https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/sharing/
Twitter Validator: https://cards-dev.twitter.com/validator

MTA Says Fare-Beaters Partially to Blame for Impending Fare Hikes
MTA alleges (not really sure how they could prove this) that fare-beaters cost the system $1 million/week, or $52M/year. The MTA's operating budget is $16B, or which $6.3B comes from fares, so the loss from fare-beaters is less than 1% of the fare income, and 3/10th of one percent of the total budget. In contrast, a New York Times report (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/18/nyregion/new-york-subway-system-failure-delays.html ) found that politicians from both the Democratic and Republican parties, at the mayoral and gubernatorial levels, had gradually removed $1.5 billion of MTA funding. And because of that underfunding, the MTA has had to borrow, and now nearly 17 percent of its budget now goes to pay down debt. Compare that to the 3/10th of a percent attributed to fare evasion.

A Clear Link Between Trump and Russia Is Now Out in the Open
Really? Cohen talked to Putin's press secretary about a meeting with Putin about a Moscow Trump Tower. The meeting never happened, nor did any deal. So when the headline refers to a "clear link", I guess they mean a link that is transparent, i.e., there's nothing there.


Washington Post admits gaffe after putting story on Kavanaugh coaching basketball in ‘Public Safety’ section
Karma? Or a deliberate act by a WaPo staffer?

Friday, November 23, 2018


Headlines for Nov. 23, 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, Most Misleading & Funniest Headlines (WMMFH) for Nov. 23, 2018

*Black Friday is the official start of the holiday shopping season. We’ll be covering it all here.
Did I miss something? Is this now a national holiday? When did “Black Friday”, or “Small Business Saturday”, or “Cyber Monday” or any of the other days invented by business marketing people take on “official” status? I guess we can call them religious holidays of the official state religion, capitalism. And on top of everything, the headline isn’t even true, as this headline from Business Insider shows: “Black Friday deals sold out at stores like Walmart and Target before Friday even began — and people are furious”.

Syria civil war: US-led air strikes kill at least 40 people in Islamic State-held area, state media reports
How is it a “civil war” if the US is bombing and killing Syrian civilians (17 children and 12 women in this one attack) and alleged IS fighters (many of whom are non-Syrians)?

U.S. and Brazil Chose Similar Leaders. It May Lead to Smoother Relations.
The silver lining of electing quasi-fascists.

Hillary Clinton: Europe Needs Tougher Immigration Laws To Stave Off Nationalism
So we need more nationalism to combat nationalism. Great idea, Hillary!


*The Khashoggi case just won't go away for Trump and his Saudi allies
Typical “Trump derangement syndrome”. The same Saudis were allies of Obama, Bush, Clinton, the first Bush, etc, not to mention the rest of the establishment. They are hardly uniquely Trump’s allies.

*Study shows 60% of Britons believe in conspiracy theories
Somethings are actual conspiracy theories, eg, “31% of leave voters believed that Muslim immigration was part of a wider plot to make Muslims the majority in Britain.” But “The most widespread conspiracy belief in the UK, shared by 44% of people, was that “even though we live in what’s called a democracy, a few people will always run things in this country anyway”.” So recognizing that you live in an oligarchy is now a “conspiracy theory”. Further proof we're addicted to conspiracies, says pollsters and the Guardian: 77% of the public don't trust journalists, 76% are wary of politicians and 74% think corporate bosses may not always tell the truth.

*Thousands of U.S. troops celebrate Thanksgiving at the Mexican border
This is nothing more than a DoD press release, with an addition of charges of the deployment being a political stunt added in the 12th paragraph. Are the troops really celebrating, or are they unhappy? We’ll never know (although we can take a good guess!), because the only people quoted in the article are a General and an Army spokesperson.

One of Syria’s most famous activists killed by assassins in rebel stronghold
Since “activists” is usually used in the media to describe opponents of the Syrian government, it’s easy to assume he was killed by the government. He wasn’t, he was killed by Al Qaeda terrorists who control Idlib. “Terrorists”, by the way, is a word the article doesn’t use, even though it references Al Qaeda. It just calls them “extremists”.

85,000 children have starved to death during the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, says new report
Not until the 15th paragraph does the reader learn about the US role is this genocide, although the reputed (and never proven) Iranian support for the Houthis makes it into the 10th paragraph, with zero questioning of that claim. And the US participation in the blockade, which is a major cause of the famine, is never mentioned at all.


*Is Masha and the Bear a Putin stooge? Critics claim cartoon with 4.18m subscribers is made by Kremlin to subvert children
Times UK headline: Children’s show is propaganda for Putin, say critics
Only 2 critics are actually quoted—a lecturer at Tallinn University's Communication School who claims that the bear symbolises Russia and was designed to place a positive image of the country in children's minds. The lecturer, Priit Hobemagi, said that the series was a 'beautifully presented' part of a campaign that is dangerous for Estonian national security. Also an intelligence expert from The University of Buckingham told The Times: 'Masha is feisty, even rather nasty, but also plucky. She punches above her weight. It's not far-fetched to see her as Putinesque.' Last line in the article: The show receives no state funding.

Saturday, November 17, 2018


Headlines for Nov. 16, 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, Most Misleading & Funniest Headlines (WMMFH) for Nov. 16, 2018

Correction from last week:

I said the “Amazon Cuomo” and “Amazon River” stories were a way of covering up government giving “millions” to Amazon. Actual number? $1.5 BILLON. And that’s just NY! Total for all cities: $3.2B.


*Exploding Mojitos: The First “Sonic Attacks” Targeting American Diplomats in Cuba May Have Taken Place Thirty Years Ago
They’re never going to give up with this nonsense. A glass shattered in someone’s hand in the house of an American diplomat, but in retrospect we’re supposed to believe it wasn’t cheap glassware but a “sonic attack”. How ridiculous does this get? In a second incident, a glass shattered in the hand of the Ambassador’s grandson *in a closed bathroom*. Here was the Ambassador’s response: “Taylor assumed the Cubans had been watching Myles through a tiny camera hidden in the bathroom, and, using a device of some kind, targeted the glass.”
See https://www.liberationnews.org/u-s-diplomat-under-attack-first-it-was-sonic-weapons-now-microwave-whats-next-kryptonite/ for my discussion of the previous claims.

*In North Korea, Missile Bases Suggest a Great Deception
The deception is on the part of the NYT. The whole article is about North Korean missiles, and implies that North Korea is doing something wrong by having missile bases. It quotes the State Dept. saying "“President Trump has made clear that should Chairman Kim follow through on his commitments, including complete denuclearization and the elimination of ballistic missile programs". But THERE WAS NO SUCH COMMITMENT! The agreement signed by Trump & Kim called for "working towards complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula". Nothing about missiles. And it did not simply call for denuclearization of the DPRK, but of the entire peninsula, another fact omitted by the Times. And finally, though the article mentions that the source of the "exposé" is the Center for Strategic and International Studies, it fails to mention the funders of that "think tank", which include (https://www.csis.org/support-csis/our-donors/corporation-and-trade-association-donors) Chevron and Northrop Grumman (both to the tune of $500,000 or more), Boeing, Exxon Mobil, Lockheed Martin (all $200K to $500K), etc. And, almost unbelievably, as FAIR pointed out, the NYT itself exposed CSIS as a shill for weapons manufacturers in an article two years ago!! https://fair.org/home/nyt-reveals-think-tank-its-cited-for-years-to-be-corrupt-arms-booster/

*Wildfires don’t care about wealth or status. Miley Cyrus, Neil Young and other celebrities are among the thousands affected.
*It wasn't just the rich who lost homes in the Malibu area. Is fire California's great equalizer?
In the grand tradition of the famous Anatole France quote, “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread.” The rich have (in some cases) private fire fighting services to protect their homes, they have 2nd and 3rd homes to move to if one of them burns down, 90% of their wealth wasn’t in the value of their home, and countless other advantages. LA Times does get around to mentioning some of this…in the 33rd paragraph!

*U.S. military edge has eroded to ‘a dangerous degree,’ study for Congress finds
They never stop agitating for bigger military budgets. "The United States has lost its military edge to a dangerous degree and could potentially lose a war against China or Russia." Nonsense. "China and Russia are seeking dominance in their regions and the ability to project military power globally, as their authoritarian governments pursue defense buildups aimed squarely at the United States." China does not have a single military base in another country; Russia has (I think) one (in Syria). China does not have troops in a single other country. Russia's military activity has been limited to one country on its borders (Ukraine) and another less than 500 miles away (Syria).
By the way, they call this a “bipartisan” commission because its members were appointed by various Republican and Democratic members of Congress. But they are virtually all dyed-in-the-wool Cold Warriors, part of the military-industrial complex. In other words, typically “bipartisan” when it comes to foreign policy — all united on more military spending, more military intervention.

Mainstream media on Gaza: Israelis get killed, but Palestinians merely ‘die’
“After a Twitter backlash, the Guardian was forced to amend a brazenly propagandized headline which sought to undermine the basic rights of Palestinians and elevate Israeli soldiers to levels previously thought unimaginable.”
The original title was a poorly crafted “Israeli officer killed during raid in which seven Palestinians died.”
Changed it to: “Eight dead in undercover Israeli operation in Gaza.


Trump to award Medal of Freedom to Elvis, Babe Ruth, among others
The only reason Trump awarded Medals of Freedom to Elvis and Babe Ruth was precisely to get headlines like this, so the fact that he also awarded it to reactionaries like Scalia, Orrin Hatch, and Miriam Adelson would be de-emphasized.

Trump blames poor forest management
This major article is almost entirely a *rebuttal* of Trump’s false (not to mention insensitive) claim. But you’d get no hint of that from the headline, or even the subhead; Trump’s lie sears itself into the brain of readers thanks to the headline choice.
For comparison, here’s a non-misleading headline from USA Today: Firefighter groups: Trump's California wildfire tweet was 'shameful' and 'ill-informed'

Saudi coalition ends American refueling
“The Saudi announcement appeared aimed at suggesting the kingdom was behind the decision.” Uh, yeah, and your headline writer amplified that deception. As well as perpetuating the idea that the US is not part of that coalition.


*Trump Confused the Baltics With Balkans—And Accused Confused Leaders of Starting Yugoslav Wars
OMG. As an aside, Melania is from Slovenia.

ABC News: Michelle Obama 'stopped even trying to smile' at Trump inauguration
Always on top of the important news! Amusingly, the picture accompanying the article shows Michelle scowling, but Barack grinning broadly.

Friday, November 09, 2018


Headlines for Nov. 9, 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, Most Misleading & Funniest Headlines (WMMFH) for Nov. 9, 2018

*New York's governor jokes he'll change his name to 'Amazon Cuomo' to win the HQ2 bid, and it reveals just how desperate states are to land Amazon's second headquarters

*Cuomo ready to rename a Long Island City creek the Amazon River to woo Amazon into opening its second headquarters in NYC
Peak capitalism. And, incidentally, both headlines serving the purpose of distracting readers from the real way cities are trying to lure Amazon, which isn't by renaming creeks, but with millions of dollars in "incentives".

*Ex-Green Party candidate earns more votes than difference between Sinema, McSally
Why is this even an article? Of course the premise is she shouldn’t have run, and that those votes “belonged” to the Democrats. In fact, the Green Party candidate dropped out a week in advance and endorsed Sinema. And either her voters voted in advance, which highlights one of the flaws of the emphasis on mail-in voting, or they were showing there was no way they were willing to support either Democrat or Republican, and just wouldn’t have voted if their candidate wasn’t on the ballot. Also this has now become ironic since Sinema is now leading. Ironically the Post has actually editorialized in favor of ranked choice voting.

This set of two headlines courtesy of Max Blumenthal:
*‘Warning Lights Are Blinking Red,’ Top Intelligence Officer Says of Russian Attacks
*Mystery of the Midterm Elections: Where Are the Russians?

*Forget the Russians. On this Election Day, it’s Americans peddling disinformation and hate speech.
"a rampant online spread of misleading reports and images about the migrant caravan in Mexico, for example — and especially the demonstrably false allegations that billionaire George Soros is funding a violent “invasion” of the United States." Yeah, that NEVER happened before, and never would have happened without whatever Russia did in 2016. Right. "Accounts controlled by Russians probably helped amplify such misleading narratives, experts say, but the evidence so far is that they started with American political activists who are increasingly adept at online manipulation techniques but enjoy broad free-speech protections that tech companies have been reluctant to challenge."  But according to the source in the referenced article, the “misleading images of the caravan” were amplified NOT by “accounts controlled by Russians” but by “accounts known to echo Kremlin propaganda”.

By the way, that was *Trump* pushing the story of the “invasion” funded by Democrats (don’t think he mentioned Soros). And amplified by every media outlet, not by “accounts controlled by Russians”.

*Federal judge blocks Keystone XL pipeline, dealing a major blow to Trump
Why is the headline not, "in a major victory for environmentalists"?


Half of us are informants, say Russian expats in UK
Half of 150,000 Russians living in London are spies, says report
Here is the actual "study":
Putin Sees and Hears it all: How Russia’s Intelligence Agencies Menace The UK
[Actual full report here: https://henryjacksonsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/HJS-Putin-Sees-and-Hears-It-All-Report-web.pdf ]
Henry Jackson Society is a British neocon think tank.
Among the claims: "There are up to five times the number of Russian case officers in the UK as there were in 2010.  These 200 ‘case officers’ are handling up to 500 agents." [But from the report, "Russia’s embassy in Kensington currently maintains a staff of 56 diplomats". Where are the rest?] Also in 2013, a Russian double-agent said the number was 51, not 200!
"Out of an estimated population of 150,000 Russian ex-pats living in London, up to half are said to be FSB, GRU, or SVR informants – potentially, some 75,000 assets." That's based on what the Russians he interviewed, no doubt all anti-Putin, told him, but actually not even that: "interviewees and interlocutors suggested that anywhere between a quarter and a half of Russian expats were, or have been, informants. Oh, and from Wikipedia " The Office for National Statistics estimates that 66,000 people born in Russia were resident in the UK in 2016."

Nothing this week. But some of the one above are funny in their own way.

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