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Friday, March 29, 2019


Headlines for March 29, 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 March 29, 2019

*A Very Incomplete List of Sinister Things Vladimir Putin/Russia/‘the Russians' Have Been Accused of Doing
Mueller has absolved Trump of collusion with Russia, but it is still conventional wisdom that Russia was doing bad things to “interfere with our election” and more. More than 50 things on the list. Most of these are still taken as an article of faith by the Russiagate faithful, like that an IRA ad promoting a “Buff Bernie coloring book” was a serious attempt to get Sanders elected! Just a reminder of two favorites which made it to our segment during the past year, an indication of how crazy the Russiagate obsession got (and yes, these are real headlines)

*Is Masha and the Bear a Putin stooge? Critics claim cartoon with 4.18m subscribers is made by Kremlin to subvert children

*Russian operatives were promoting sex toys on Instagram to sow discord in the US

*Trump has not been ‘soft’ on Russia. He’s been tougher than Obama.
Interesting not because it’s wrong or misleading, but because it’s so untimely. This is a subject we and other Loud & Clear guests have discussed repeatedly for the last 2 ½ years, all while other media were still pushing the “Putin’s puppet” line. Now, finally, the WaPo lets its readers in on what has been obvious to us – arms to Ukraine, attempting to overthrow Russian allies in Syria and Venezuela, withdrawal from INF, attempts to thwart Nordstream, etc. The simplest thing — the two Russian diplomatic compounds seized by the US under Obama in Dec. 2016, something Trump could do all by himself without Congress, hasn’t happened (despite fake news headlines in June 2017 like “Trump to hand back Russian compounds”). How important is this? Stephen Colbert, the second-most Russiagate obsessed person on television after Rachel Maddow, made two jokes on Monday night and one more on Tuesday night, all along the lines, “If Putin didn’t have something on Trump, why was Trump so nice to Putin?” The fact that Trump has not been “nice to Putin” just hasn’t sunk in to the American public.

*Ex-CIA chief (John Brennan) offers mea culpa on Trump: 'I don't know if I received bad information'
“Former CIA chief John O. Brennan now says his months of attacks on President Trump may have been based on “bad information.” Right. Just like that "bad intelligence" that led to the Iraq War.

*Steele says he used unverified information to support details about web company in dossier
He used CNN’s iReport, viewer-submitted, unvetted and unverified statements, to “verify information” in his dossier about the web hosting company Webzilla. Unbelievably, this “intelligence agent” didn’t even realize what iReport was. "Do you understand that they have no connection to any CNN reporters?" an attorney asked Steele during his deposition last June. "I do not," he answered.

Iran Moves to Cement Its Influence in Syria
Tehran uses cash, food and public services in a hearts and minds campaign to cultivate loyalty, draw military recruits and win converts to the Shiite Muslim sect
Slanderous, cynical article, e.g., ““The goal is to re-create the Persian empire,” said Muneer al-Khalaf, a member of the City Council of Raqqa, Islamic State’s once de facto capital.” What horrible thing is Iran up to? “To Syrians battered by war, Iran is offering cash, food, Iranian ID cards, public services and free education.” And their sources that this is all a plot to gain Shiite converts? A “24-year old male resident from the nearby village of Jalaa” and “a U.S. official and a person familiar with U.S. intelligence operations in the region.” they actually compare Iran’s actions to ISIS! “Residents from Deir Ezzour Province liken Iran’s strategy of wooing the younger generation to the same tactics of indoctrination once used by Islamic State.” “Just like ISIS gave religious lessons to children after prayers, they are doing the same thing,” said a father of two school-aged children.”

This 8-Year-Old Chess Champion Will Make You Smile
He’s been homeless for a year, but he’s good at chess, so it’s all good.

*William Barr has made this a win for Moscow
Dana Milbank, still not giving up. One thing to note here—this article, like pretty much everything else in the media, simply takes for granted all the claims like “Russia hacked the Clinton emails and gave them to Wikileaks”, and takes the indictments of a number of Russians as equivalent to guilty verdicts. That is something that not only won’t the Mueller report dispel, but will in fact reinforce.

*We’ve All Just Made Fools of Ourselves — Again
What do you mean “we”, David Brooks? Amazingly, he’s not just referring to Democrats who called Trump a traitor, but also Republicans who called the investigation a witchhunt.

Friday, March 22, 2019


Headlines for March 22, 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 March 22, 2019

*Progressives Should Learn to Love the Pentagon Budget
The military creates middle-class jobs, provides health care and spreads liberal values.
“The greatest long-term threat to America's ability to invest in infrastructure, education and other progressive priorities is not the Pentagon. It is the combination of insufficient tax revenues (a problem progressives did not cause) and runaway entitlement spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) that progressives have so far shown scant interest in containing.”
“the Pentagon budget also serves as a huge jobs program and source of economic security for the middle class”
“It is true that money spent on defense could theoretically be spent instead on other programs that might also benefit the middle class.” Programs whose products (health care, education, infrastructure) would benefit not only the producers but everyone, unlike building missiles & bombs which may benefit the workers but produces nothing of value other than promoting imperialism and killing its targets.
Ultimately he’s really arguing for imperialism: “liberalism in the U.S. will be most secure in a world where liberalism is predominant - and that requires the liberal powers to maintain an overbalance of military might.”

*Why America Needs a Stronger Defense Industry
Investing in the sector means more jobs at home and improved security abroad.
Remarkable; a second nearly identical article!

*Amy Klobuchar defends her staff treatment, says toughness needed when dealing with Putin
Huh? (Reports claimed: “Staffers said they were subject to outbursts over little matters and even office objects were thrown.”) So she’s practicing so she can be mean to Putin? Throw paper clips at him? Her claim: “When you're out there on the world stage and dealing with people like Vladimir Putin, yeah, you want someone who's tough.” I think she’s confusing “tough” with “being an asshole”.

*As Trump escalates rhetoric, Iran's wartime preparations include terrorist attacks and assassinations
Author is Zach Dorfman, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and someone who publishes in a wide range of publications. Mixed in with the obvious (Iran conducts espionage), the article rehashes a long series of unproven slanders such as alleged Iranian targeting of U.S. and Israeli intelligence officers in Europe along with unproven past allegations such as the bombing of a Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires.
Remarkably, it refers to the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut as "terrorism", but calls the centrifuge-destroying Stuxnet virus and the Israeli murder of Iranian scientists "intelligence operations." The article refers to Iran's alleged plans for terrorism as "asymmetric warfare", but I'd say the article itself is "asymmetric journalism".

Schiff: Real question is if Trump is under the influence of a foreign power
With Trump having moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem and possibly on the verge of recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, it would seem the answer is obviously yes. But no, of course Schiff is talking about Russia, not Israel. Russia, the country whose interests Trump has supposedly served by withdrawing from the INF, opposing Nordstream II, trying to overthrow the Venezuelan government, sending heavy weapons to Ukraine, and much much more.

*Abrams Can't Explain How Guido is "President"
I call Abrams' explanation the Schroedinger's Presidency — Maduro is simultaneosly not President, but also President, because that's the reason why Guaidó's 30-day interim Presidency hasn't started yet.

After Rockets Are Fired at Tel Aviv, Israel and Hamas Quickly Pull Back
An infuriating headline, which omits any mention of the 100 airstrikes (with orders of magnitude more effect) on Gaza. A brief mention in the article that Israel “retaliated swiftly” and later referring to how Israel retaliated “in a measured way” give a completely misleading impression of the Israeli response to what the Israeli military itself concluded was the mistaken launch of two rockets from Gaza.

*A shadowy group trying to overthrow Kim Jong Un raided a North Korean embassy in broad daylight
A shadowy group called the CIA? It has been reported in Spanish media that “At least two of the 10 assailants who broke into the embassy and interrogated diplomatic staff have been identified and have connections to the US intelligence agency,” although what those connections are wasn’t made public. The article presents the usual denials/no comments, but attempts to convince the reader why the CIA wouldn’t have been involved: “Any hint of U.S. involvement in an assault on a diplomatic compound could have derailed the [Trump-Kim] talks, a prospect the CIA would likely be mindful of.” But actually, given the hostility of the establishment to Trump’s efforts at peace with the DPRK, that’s actually a reason why they would be involved.

Friday, March 15, 2019


Headlines for March 15, 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 March 15, 2019

*Video: The U.S. Blamed Maduro for Burning Aid to Venezuela. New Video Casts Doubt.
*Article: Footage Contradicts U.S. Claim That Maduro Burned Aid Convoy
All of this information (showing anti-government protesters on the Colombian side throwing molotov cocktails which set the aid trucks on fire) was available *at the time*. And it was reported at the time by, e.g., RT, Sputnik, TeleSUR and other independent outlets, the ones routinely branded as “fake news”. Video mentions “mainstream press” as being complicit in spreading the lie, but the caption singles out Twitter & TV, absolving the NYT & WaPo etc. And of course the video contains its own share of slander & misinformation. It also makes it appear this was just a mistake by Rubio et al & not deliberate lies.
The article itself also notes “the claim about a shipment of medicine [that was burned], too, appears to be unsubstantiated, according to videos and interviews.” But the article continues to excuse the media, blaming politicians who made the claims, and continues to imply that the Maduro govt was really ultimately responsible, e.g., “Mr. Maduro’s security forces, along with government-aligned gangs, attacked protesters, who came armed with rocks and Molotov cocktails.”
Note also other outlets barely picking up the story. WaPo, in the middle of a long article about events in Venezuela, adds one sentence: “But a New York Times investigation published Sunday points to new evidence that the fires were set off inadvertently by opposition protesters.” “Inadvertently”. Also just “points to”.
Tulsi Gabbard showed her unique campaign again by posting on FB and tweeting about this today: “Investigation reveals Pence and Bolton lied to promote US regime change in Venezuela. Nothing new there. I wonder why CNN, MSNBC, FOX, etc. haven’t shared this information with the American people. Kudos to New York Times.”
Other non-coverage: Mercury News, ABC Nightly News, FOX Noon News (Shepard Smith), local news.

*Inside the August plot to kill Maduro with drones
Yet again, a US govt/US media story (that the drone attack attempt on Maduro's life last August was faked by Maduro) falls apart."The Venezuelan government's account of the attack confirms parts of [the plotters] story, including the drones' flight paths." Here was typical coverage from last year (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/08/06/venezuela-drone-attack-nicolas-maduro-assassination-attempt-what-happened/913096002/) : “The Venezuelan government alleges that Maduro's political opponents conspired with individuals in Miami and Bogota, Colombia, to try to kill Maduro. They have so far offered no real proof to support this claim, and opposition leaders charge that Maduro is using the attack as an excuse to crack down on his critics.”
Incidentally Bloomberg exposed this entire plot days after it happened:
*Inside the Coup Plotting Before the Venezuela Drone Assassination Attempt

*How the U.S. Is Getting Pulled Into the Venezuela Crisis
Why the crisis will become increasingly difficult for the U.S. to ignore.
The author is basically talking about military intervention, although perhaps out of squeamishness he never actually says so, making the headline and his thesis utterly ridiculous. And of course he never mentions U.S. sanctions, or even the fact that the U.S. basically gave Guaidó the go-ahead (or even the order?) to declare himself President and then immediately recognized him and pressured its allies to do so, was what precipitated the current crisis in the first place.

*Marco Rubio’s inaccurate tweets on Venezuela embolden liberal critics
Rubio tweeted about Maduro forces burning the “aid” trucks, that 80 neonatal patients had died, etc. All of which was, by the way, repeated by corporate media. And while Rubio got heat on Twitter from people like me, his lies are hardly gave “fodder to those on the left who want to negotiate with Nicolás Maduro instead of getting rid of him” as the article absurdly alleges. Most ridiculous line in the article: “But amplifying reports that turn out to be inaccurate fuels domestic critics, mostly on the far left, who say that the decision to recognize Juan Guaidó as the country’s leader over Maduro is the first step in a U.S.-backed coup.”

*Russian trolls can be surprisingly subtle, and often fun to read
So this is an article about "Russian trolls", right? Well, maybe. "Examining a range of data points, including source material and the timing of tweets, told us that this account was most likely operated from Russia’s Internet Research Agency." And what "source material" tipped them off? The first example they give is a bit of snark about Trump, supposedly their favorite guy: "Criticizing Trump in a book is just unfair. It’s like criticizing the Amish on television." The second example is a tweet extolling Michelle Obama: "Daily reminder that the most educated First Lady in American history is a black woman with two Ivy League degrees from Harvard and Princeton." Another example they provide, from the day after the 2016 election, is: "27 IRA accounts tweeted, #ThingsYouCantIgnore a Russian plant as your next #POTUS." Really? Sounds more like a tweet from Hillary Clinton.

Documents shed light on Russian hacking of Democratic Party leaders
A Russian businessman owns Webzilla, which is one of the biggest web hosting companies in the world, and happens to be based in Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, and the Netherlands, not Russia at all. Webzilla servers were allegedly used by hackers. As he says, “Trying to blame XBT (Webzilla) for this is like trying to blame Verizon for everything bad that happens on the Internet because they happen to own some of the fiber cables.”

Pompeo slams Cuba as 'true imperialist power' in Venezuela
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/pompeo-slams-cuba-as-true-imperialist-power-in-venezuela/ar-BBUEzfW (Actually CNN)
Words fail.

Felicity Huffman Apprehended At Her Home By Armed FBI Agents in Early Morning Arrest
Not just armed but with guns drawn!

Recipe For Disaster? Ecuador Set for Reforms with IMF Deal
Just using this headline to rant about one of my pet peeves — the use of the word “reform” to describe any changes. TeleSUR clearly stands against the things being proposed, like cuts in fuel subsidies, yet they still use the word “reform” which per the dictionary means “the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc”.

Thumbnail headline: Amid Blackout in Venezuela, Maduro and Guaidó Hold Dueling Rallies
Article headline: As Venezuela's Blackout Drags On, Protesters Fill The Streets Of Caracas
Article uses its first paragraphs to talk about the Guaidó rally, and finally mentions Maduro addressing supporters in the Presidential palace. No mention of the pro-government rally in the streets, which, judging from pictures on social media, was equal to or larger than the Guaidó rally. Here’s the description of the Maduro event: “Maduro held his own rally inside the presidential palace for supporters, who believe they are the victim of a coup by the White House.” Whereever did they get that idea?

Friday, March 08, 2019


Headlines for March 8, 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 March 8, 2019

*Juan Guaidó: If Maduro arrests me, it ‘would be a coup d’etat’


The headline is laugh out loud funny, but the article and the situation are deadly serious. The whole article is the WaPo enabling him to spread absurd lies about Venezuela, and in fact in doing its own part in that process. "80% of the military supports Guaidó", even though he admits he has a hard time communicating with them, partly because "Cuban agents torture the armed forces if they try to even contact the opposition", which was actually a leading question asked by the interviewer to which Guaidó readily agreed (“Is it true that the Cuban agents torture the armed forces if they try to even contact the opposition?”). The interviewer, it should be noted, is not some random journalist, but a “senior associate editor for The Washington Post”.

*Ilhan Omar's dual loyalty charge was about more than anti-Semitism
No, it's not about anti-Semitism at all. Astonishingly, the author *correctly* quotes Omar saying "I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress," but then goes from there to conclude "A Muslim congresswoman who is openly hostile to Israel uses a charge of dual loyalty against Jewish Americans," about whom she said *absolutely nothing*. She spoke only of herself!

*Will John Bolton Bring on Armageddon—Or Stave It Off?
The national security adviser could be our best hope for protecting the world from Donald Trump’s impulses.
Impulses like negotiating peace with North Korea or pulling US troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. Those impulses. One of Bolton’s “great passions in life”, says the article, is  “getting America out of treaties.” Like getting out of the INF, which is one of Trump's "impulses" that Bolton will definitely not be protecting us from.

*U.S. Army Assures Public That Robot Tank System Adheres to AI Murder Policy
“Yes, the Defense Department is still building murderous robots. But those murderous robots must adhere to the department’s “ethical standards.””
I’m assured, but definitely not reassured. The DoD has “ethical standards”? LOL. They claim that there will always be a “human is making the final decision about whether to kill someone”, but their specs call for tanks that can “acquire, identify, and engage targets at least 3X faster than the current manual process.”

*A former Russian spy was poisoned in Britain one year ago. The Kremlin still denies everything.
Alternative headline: A former Russian spy was poisoned in Britain one year ago. The evidence is so flimsy that no one has yet been charged.

*Pope prays for tornado victims as Trump prepares to visit
Even the Pope knows how deadly a Trump visit can be!

Bernie's Democratic Socialism Isn't Socialism, It's Social Democracy
An accurate headline which surprises for two reasons — one, its source (Forbes), and two, because the article is written by someone who isn’t a socialist or even a social democrat.

*Disputed N.S.A. Phone Program Is Shut Down, Aide Says
The headline does say “aide says” (whose aide?), but the entire article is written as if this is a fact, based not on any statement from the NSA or the Administration but solely on the basis of a *single* source, Luke Murry, the House minority leader’s national security adviser. An aide to a Congressman.

Paul Manafort, Trump's onetime campaign chairman, to be sentenced on fraud charges
Fifth paragraph: "None of the charges involved Manafort's work on the Trump campaign in 2016."

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