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Friday, April 26, 2019


Headlines for April 26, 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 April 26, 2019

*Syrian Fuel Shortage Squeezes Assad’s Loyalists
*North Korea’s State-Run Economy Falters Under Sanctions, Testing Elite Loyalty
*Trump takes aim at Iran’s oil
*New U.S. Sanctions on Venezuela Aim to Choke Off Government’s Finances
Sanctions are not aimed at "Assad's Loyalists", and they are not aimed at "Iran's Oil" or Venezuela’s government finances or the North Korean economy. Sanctions are aimed at making the ordinary people of those countries suffer, and, in the worst cases, die, as more than a half million children did from the Iraq sanctions. Or the estimated 40,000 Venezuelans who have died as a result of U.S. sanctions on that country. Sanctions are not only war but the cruelest, most vicious kind of war, aimed at non-combatants, and especially the poorest, weakest, and most vulnerable among them. They are collective punishment, and also very much a form of terrorism. And all the euphemisms in the world don't change that. As the State Department memo so openly put it in a 1960 memo: "Every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba" by "denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government." https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1958-60v06/d499

*Would Any Atrocity Turn Off Investors to Saudi Arabia?
Subhead: The kingdom this week executed 37 “terrorists” after torture and sham trials. Corporations and governments should demand an end to the kingdom’s egregious violations of human rights.
Two days after the executions, NYT finally weighs in (WaPo and US government still silent), and their concern is…will investors be turned off???

*Longtime Manafort associate Konstantin Kilimnik rejects his depiction in Mueller report
The headline is fine; what’s wrong is the timing. Why is this article appearing now, after the Mueller report? The WaPo and other media have spent two years referring to Kilimnik’s alleged ties to Russian intelligence, made Manafort’s discussing of polling data with him sound ominous, and more. *Now* they let him tell his side of the story?

*Mueller Report Likely to Renew Scrutiny of Steele Dossier
Another fine headline, but again it’s a question of timing. NYT now says “misgivings about [the Steele dossier’s] reliability arose not long after the document became public in early 2017.“ Funny, you certainly wouldn’t know this from reading the NYT for the last two years. “Some of the most sensational claims in the dossier appeared to be false, and others were impossible to prove.” Missing from that sentence? That not a single substantive claim was proven true.

*Donald Trump is lucky. Vladimir Putin is luckier.
I was expecting a fantasy about how much Russia has benefited from Trump’s Presidency. No, that wasn’t it. Instead, the headline refers to this unbelievable assertion: “Having meddled deeply in the U.S. election — using the Russian military to do it — Putin wasn’t even held to account. No dictator of a troubled petro-state has ever pulled off such an audacious outrage against the world’s superpower (not even Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the unpunished author of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi).”

Venezuela’s Guaidó waging election-style campaign in a country with no plans for an election
No plans for an election? Venezuela has had, and will continue to have on regular schedule, more elections than any other country in Latin America. And that just the beginning of the lies in this article, or omissions like a failure to connect Venezuela’s economic problems to US sanctions (and outright theft).

How Barr and Trump Use a Russian Disinformation Tactic
The headline says “Russian” but the accompanying picture includes a hammer-and-sickle.
This is such complete nonsense:
“By seamlessly conflating the terms “collusion” and “conspiracy,” and absolving President Trump of both, Mr. Barr revealed that the Russian information warfare technique of “reflexive control” has officially entered American public discourse — and threatens, with his recent allegations of campaign “spying,” to stay there for a while. Reflexive control is a “uniquely Russian” technique of psychological manipulation through disinformation. The idea is to feed your adversary a set of assumptions that will produce a predictable response: That response, in turn, furthers a goal that advances your interests. By luring your opponent into agreeing with your initial assumptions, you can control the narrative, and ultimate outcome, in your favor.”
Needless to say, it was hardly Trump who is responsible for the use of the word “collusion”. And, as the article itself notes, Mueller’s charge was to investigate “links and/or coordination”, which sure sounds a lot like “collusion” rather than the legal term “conspiracy”.
*Prodded by Putin, Russians Sought Back Channels to Trump Through the Business World
Missing from this ominous-sounding headline? The words “AFTER THE ELECTION”!!!

Capitalism in crisis: U.S. billionaires worry about the survival of the system that made them rich

Friday, April 19, 2019


Headlines for April 19, 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 April 19, 2019

*Front pages the day after the Mueller report drops:

WaPo: Mueller lays out evidence against Trump on obstruction, Russia

NYT: Mueller Details Multiple Contacts with Russians and Trump’s Efforts to Thwart Inquiry
Mercury News: Evidence Against Trump Detailed
The goal posts have been moved so far they’re not even in sight! Front pages are almost entirely about obstruction of justice. “Collusion”? It’s in an article way down the page on the WaPo (and then only in an article about "Barr under fire for repeating no collusion"), the second subhead in the NYT, and nowhere at all in the Mercury News. Lead story in the WaPo only mentions conspiracy in the fifth paragraph, and then only to quote Trump. Mercury News lists “Mueller’s 8 key findings”, none of them being “no collusion”. Just to be clear — the investigation was launched to investigate collusion. The media now wants you to think the central purpose was to investigate obstruction of justice. Um, no.


*Inside the Russian effort to target Sanders supporters — and help elect Trump

Russiagate, the zombie story that will never die.

First of all, the whole premise of the story is suspect. 25% of Hillary 2008 voters cast a ballot for John McCain & Sarah Palin. That's more than twice the number of Bernie 2016 voters who voted for Trump. So if “Russia” was trying to switch Bernie voters to Trump they failed miserably. Of course what do you expect when your budget is $44,000?

Article starts with a tweet from "Red Louisiana News" that urged Sanders supporters to support Trump. First of all, how many people were following "Red Louisiana News" on Twitter? How many Sanders supporters were? @redlanews is now suspended, so you can’t look at that account, but I searched for that term and got people who were retweeting or commenting on @redlanews posts. Based on that, this was a rabid right-wing site filled with Trump supporters. The idea that there were Sanders supporters following this site who then switched their vote to Trump is far-fetched to put it mildly.

Then we're told "it was one of thousands of accounts identified as based in Russia." Identified by who? How? No clue. "A pair of Clemson University researchers, at the request of The Washington Post, examined English-language tweets identified as coming from Russia, many of which were designed to influence the election." But who “identified” them? We’re not told. I can't help but be reminded of how New Knowledge, which may well be the source of this story although it's not so identified, itself was caught creating thousands of fake Russian Twitter accounts and having them support Roy Moore in Alabama in an attempt to elect Doug Jones. I'm also reminded of a story we covered back in February: "Twitter Revises Data on Russian Trolls and Social-media company says 228 accounts were ‘misidentified’", where "Russian trolls" suddenly became "Venezuelan trolls"! And we should also recall that "Hamilton 68", the source for many of these so-called identifications of "Russian trolls and bots", says right on its website that it follows "Russia-linked influence networks", not "Russians" (incidentally they have now scrapped that and are about to introduce Hamilton 68 2.0!). So bottom line - who are these people promoting Sanders? Russians? Americans who hate Hillary Clinton? Right-wingers masquerading as Sanders supporters trying to get people to support Trump. NO ONE KNOWS.

"Some 9,000 of the Russian tweets used the word “Bernie,” and those were “liked” 59,281 times and retweeted 61,804 times." Total number of election-related tweets? MORE THAN 1 BILLION. 9000 is 0.0009%; less than one-thousandth of one percent. Is 61,804 a lot of retweets? Trump got 170,000 retweets on JUST ONE TWEET about Hillary deleting some of her emails!

And don't forget "During the primary race, Sanders gave at least three interviews to a Russia-controlled television network, RT, in which his trade stance was highlighted." The Post neglects to say they were interviews given to Ed Schultz, a former MSNBC host who was, in fact, fired by MSNBC because he wanted to report on Sanders announcing for President! "You're not covering Bernie Sanders" he was told.

*The Mueller report is the opposite of exoneration
Really? The opposite? So the fact that the report found no evidence of collusion, the whole justification for the investigation, means nothing? I'm pretty sure the "opposite of exoneration" is conviction, or at least indictment.

“Mr. Mueller made clear that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential race in “sweeping and systematic fashion,” which Mr. Trump has denied; that the interference was designed to help Mr. Trump; and that the Trump campaign was happy to accept the help, which is morally repulsive.” As is universal in the corporate media and with elected politicians, “Russian interference” is accepted as simple fact, substituting indictments for proof.

*YouTube mistakenly links Notre Dame fire to September 11 attacks
Irony — this was allegedly triggered by an automatic algorithm designed to combat “fake news”. Which tells you how reliable their algorithms for identifying supposedly fake news are.

*Military Drills in Arctic Aim to Counter Russia, but the First Mission Is to Battle the Cold
The new Cold War is not only figurative, it’s literal! The Russians are coming over the North Pole to attack us!

Ecuador’s president alleges Assange used London embassy as a ‘center for spying’
What was this "spying"? "The allegations appear to stem in part from a batch of leaked personal photos of Moreno and his family that appeared last month on an anonymous website." No known connection to Wikileaks, by the way. "Moreno also cited WikiLeaks’ dump of a tranche of Vatican documents in January." Which of course has nothing to do with "spying". Bottom line: if you want to throw mud against the wall, WaPo is happy to assist you. No evidence required.

Why China Should Switch Sides in Venezuela
The latest contribution to the mainstream media aiding and abetting of the attempted coup in Venezuela. Laughable, but of course also deadly serious.

After Years of Denial, Venezuela’s President Allows Aid to Enter
NYT perpetuates the lie that Venezuela has been refusing aid. Front page summary makes it even more explicit: “Venezuela let the first shipment of an aid campaign enter the country after years of denying a crisis”. No, just aid from countries trying to overthrow its government.

The G.O.P. Promotes Leftism
A shocking headline, but it's actually an interesting premise — by resisting or opposing "centrist", "market-based" solutions like Obamacare, Republicans are pushing Democrats to embrace Medicare for All.
Ahead of Mueller report release, U.S. allies and foes are united in skepticism on one issue: The redactions
There is NOT ONE WORD in this article from any ally or foe about Mueller report redactions. Not one. Just speculation. Typical sentence: “Many Brits still remember how U.S. redactions helped to hide the involvement of British intelligence services in the CIA’s secret detention program, which included waterboarding and other abuses, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.” OK, can you quote a single one skeptical about the Barr redactions? No. And what about the “foes”? “Russian government-funded TV network RT even has a fitting political comedy show: “Redacted Tonight.” But in the case of the Mueller report, Russian state media outlets may find themselves inclined to be a bit more cautious than usual about demanding that redacted parts be made public.”

Friday, April 12, 2019


Headlines for April 12, 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 April 12, 2019

*Julian Assange’s Seven Strange Years in Self-Imposed Isolation
What an utterly despicable headline. Assange's 7 year isolation in the Ecuadorian Embassy were hardly "self-imposed"! It was imposed by the Swedish, Ecuadorian, UK & US governments.
Twitter responses: Shameless.
Oh my god I’m gonna scream I cannot handle this garbage.
I saw that and had to step away from the computer for a minute, I was so enraged.

*‘Checkout felt a bit rushed’: Julian Assange’s embassy stay, as an Airbnb review
It's all just a joke to the WaPo.Their journalists, sycophants to power, aren't threatened.

How a Russian-owned media outlet landed the first video of Julian Assange's arrest
Pretty simple, really. They knew it would happen eventually and knew it was newsworthy. But ooooh, they’re “Russian-owned”. That must have something to do with it, right? Nope.‬ Remarkably, this story was the top story on Google News for several hours after Assange was arrested. Not an article about his arrest, but this.

*1 in 5 business leaders may have psychopathic tendencies—here's why, according to a psychology professor
The article actually attempts to excuse psychopathy by confusing it with egotism/narcissism, an even more common trait of entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk but not the same of psychopathy. And it makes no mention of capitalism whatsoever, and its intimate connection with psychopathy, e.g., tobacco companies concealing the cancer-causing nature of their product to protect their profits, or Boeing doing something similar with the Max 8. Ultimately it’s capitalism which makes psychopaths out of its leaders, or at least rewards them for psychopathic behavior.
Hedge-fund billionaire Ray Dalio says the state of capitalism poses 'an existential threat for the US'
Not a pitch for socialism, just the old FDR “fix capitalism in order to save it.” "income/wealth/opportunity gap and its manifestations pose existential threats to the US because these conditions weaken the US economically, threaten to bring about painful and counterproductive domestic conflict, and undermine the United States' strength relative to that of its global competitors."

*New lawsuit alleges that Boeing put profit over people with 737 Max
No, really? Say it ain’t so!

*'How about paying your taxes?'—Walmart responds to Amazon's challenge over pay
When dinosaurs fight. Or the pot calling the kettle black.
Updated article:
Walmart responds to Bezos with tweet asking Amazon to pay taxes https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/11/reuters-america-update-2-walmart-responds-to-bezos-with-tweet-asking-amazon-to-pay-taxes.html
Amazon.com Inc Chief Executive Jeff Bezos on Thursday challenged retailers to hike their minimum wages to $16 an hour, prompting a comeback from Walmart Inc which asked its rivals to pay taxes.

*Cuba Has Hijacked Venezuela
Venezuelans are not victims of a single dictatorship, but of two.
NYT gives a platform to the second member of the Venezuelan opposition in a week. Last week it was Joanna Hausmann, whose father Richard was “appointed” by Guaidó to serve as his representative at the Inter-American Development Bank. This week it’s Julio Borges who was president of the National Assembly of Venezuela and is Juan Guaidó’s ambassador to the Lima Group. No allegation too inane. “at least 22,000 Cubans have infiltrated Venezuela’s government and its institutions.” 20,000 of those are medical personnel providing medical care to poor Venezuelans.

*The U.S. revoked the visa for the ICC prosecutor. That bodes poorly for international criminal justice.
If the U.S. doesn’t respect international law, why should other nations?
“International criminal justice” is a misnamed concept aimed solely at the 3rd world. And the revocation of this visa is the *least* manifestation of US disregard/contempt for international law, not the first sign as the subhead implies.

Netanyahu sees a path to victory. Critics see apartheid.
Israel is an apartheid state whether Netanyahu wins or not. It has been since its founding.

Rep. Ilhan Omar called Stephen Miller a ‘white nationalist.’ GOP critics accused her of anti-Semitism.
A new low in criticism of Omar; not only can't you criticize Israel or AIPAC without being called an anti-Semite, now you can't even criticize someone who is Jewish. And make no mistake, the WaPo is equally complicit in this smear, running this story based on the fake outrage of people like Donald J. Trump, Jr. and other partisan Republicans.

*Trump said George Washington should have named Mount Vernon after himself so people would remember him
George who?

Friday, April 05, 2019


Headlines for April 5, 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 April 5, 2019

*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.”

*Russia’s Military Mission Creep Advances to a New Front: Africa
The US presence is described as a “relatively light footprint” (Somalis being bombed today, and earlier Libyans, would presumably disagree) and in 1500 words the word AFRICOM doesn’t appear! Armchair psychoanalysis: “Expanding Moscow’s military sway on the continent reflects Mr. Putin’s broader vision of returning Russia to its former glory.” And, unbelievably ironic considering current events in Venezuela, we’re told “Russia often utilizes coercive, corrupt, and covert means to attempt to influence sovereign states, including their security and economic partnerships.” What we’re not told: US currently has 34 military bases in Africa; Russia has 0.

This goes right along with:
*How Putin Built a Ragtag Empire of Tyrants and Failing States
[cover of the magazine]: Russia’s other plot. Vladimir Putin wants to influence more than elections. Inside his growing empire of rogue states.
With an ominous picture of Putin leaning over the globe, with Soviet red stars over nine countries. Nonsense with a dose of anti-Communism for good measure. Imagine if they put stars on all the places with US bases. And the spectre of Communism is raised again here: “But unlike the Cold War, when the communist East competed with the capitalist West as equals, the new contest is being waged in an altered world.” The first sentence to follow that statement could be: “Russia is no longer Communist.” But that sentence doesn’t appear at all.

*Anti-Semitism Is Back, From the Left, Right and Islamist Extremes. Why?
The first part of the headline is stated as simple fact. Who are these anti-Semitic leftists? Ilhan Omar, unnamed members of the Labour Party, and “fringes of the Yellow Vest movement” (which is not a left movement). Omar is accused of criticizing the “undue influence of Jewish lobbies”, which is a grotesque lie. AIPAC is an *Israeli* lobby, not a Jewish lobby. In a similar vein, the article talks about “leftist critics of Israel, such as the supporters of the British Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn”, with the unstated but implied claim that criticizing Israel constitutes anti-Semitism (if it doesn’t, why is it included in this article?). The article actually compares Corbyn to actual Viktor Orban, who the article describes as having “anti-Semitic leanings”.

Trump, Putin and a Possible ‘Red-Line Moment’ in Venezuela
While the Trump administration has issued various threats, it hasn’t spoken of any “red lines”. That’s the NYT’s contribution to the push for another US military war (the US economic war against Venezuela is in full swing).

This School Doesn't Care Who Your Parents Are
This school is Caltech, of which I am a graduate. And no, they don’t care if your parents were alumni. But of course who you are, and your ability to get into Caltech, is in large part a product of who your parents were. Were you properly fed to promote brain development? Did you have lots of books and other educational opportunities while growing up? Did you go to a private school or have tutors? Or did you have to work during high school and spend less time on your studies? And so on. Headline from just this week: “Wealthy New Yorkers are dropping $375 an hour on prep courses to get their kids into $50,000 ‘Baby Ivy’ kindergartens in an effort to eventually get them into top colleges”. I am reminded of a famous quote by biologist Stephen Jay Gould: “I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.”

*Trump finally recognizes 'noise cancer.' Will GOP health plan cover it?
‪An imaginary health plan to cover an imaginary disease.‬ Perfect!

Trump may not be a Russian agent. He’s just a Russian stooge.
As I said last week, the idea that Trump is a “Russian stooge” continues to permeate the media (and public consciousness), despite the myriad of actual facts which make it plain how absurd that contention is.

The big loser in Ukraine’s presidential election? Vladimir Putin
Poroshenko and Timoshenko, Western favorites, got about half the vote the comedian Zelenskiy got, a candidate who per the BBC "staged no rallies, gave few interviews, and appears to have no strong political views." One of the few strong views he has, echoing the fact that he speaks Russian, is to oppose the attempt to the existing government to restrict Russian language rights.

Trump’s Golan Move Means His ‘Deal of the Century’ May Be Dead
Was it ever alive? Did it ever exist? As far as I can tell it has about the same status as the Republican health care plan.

What My Fellow Liberals Don’t Get About Venezuela
Stop sanitizing a tyrannical dictator. My country deserves change.
By Joanna Hausmann
Times’ description of aithor: “Ms. Hausmann is a Venezuelan-American writer and comedian.” Yes, and her father Ricardo is one of the West’s leading neoliberal economists, who played an unsavory role during the 1980s and ’90s in devising policies that enabled the looting of Venezuela’s economy by international capital and provoked devastating social turmoil. He was “appointed” by Guaidó to serve as his representative at the Inter-American Development Bank. She was also born in the UK, not Venezuela. None of that is revealed by the Times in this error-filled hit piece. See https://www.mintpressnews.com/ricardo-hausmann-morning-venezuela-neoliberal-brain-behind-juan-guaidos-economic-agenda/256185/ for details.

Most Republicans don’t accept a basic Mueller finding: That Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 campaign
"Although the allegations haven’t been proved in a court of law and although Russia’s government denies them, there’s little serious debate at this point that Russia was involved in those hacks and that social media push. No serious explanation for those acts has been offered beyond trying to muck up the 2016 presidential election." Actually when you think of things like the "Buff Bernie coloring book" ad or the ad featuring Satan arm-wrestling Jesus and saying "If I win, Clinton wins!", it's hard to keep a straight face thinking that having any effect on the election whatsoever was a "serious explanation" for them.

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