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Friday, April 24, 2020


Headlines for April 24, 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 April 24, 2020

*US monitoring intelligence that North Korean leader is in grave danger after surgery
First of all, it wasn't "intelligence" (even in the more narrowly defined sense of "intelligence" as "the work of the CIA or NSA"), it was just some South Korean newspaper. So more like “rumors” or “claims” than actual “intelligence”. But the best part is this: "Experts are unsure of what to make of Kim's absence from any festivities celebrating his grandfather. When North Korean leaders have not shown up to these important celebrations in the past, it has portended major developments. But it has also turned out to be nothing."

*Chinese Agents Helped Spread Messages That Sowed Virus Panic in U.S., Officials Say
Subhead: American officials were alarmed by fake text messages and social media posts that said President Trump was locking down the country. Experts see a convergence with Russian tactics.
First of all, just yesterday Trump was on TV speculating about consuming or injecting bleach, suggestions so potentially deadly that this morning Lysol had to issue an official statement urging consumers not to consume or inject its product. And then there was the person who drank some pool chemical and died because it was a derivative of hydroxychloroquine. And also yesterday Rudy Giuliani was on Fox poohpoohing contact tracing, saying if it’s so good, why don’t we do contact tracing for cancer, obesity and heart disease? No misinformation from China or Russia could remotely compare to the misinformation coming from Trump and Fox and co.

Second of all, the entire premise has to be questioned. What “virus panic” are they talking about? People are scared of getting the disease, scared of losing their job and health insurance and being evicted and going hungry. Those are all perfectly rational responses to actual events, not to random tweets or text messages. The only “panic” I’ve seen was some panic buying of toilet paper and disinfectant. The panic in this headline is just standard right-wing anti-government nonsense.

 And what messages are they referring to? Here’s the only example: “Spread the word, the messages said: The Trump administration was about to lock down the entire country. “They will announce this as soon as they have troops in place to help prevent looters and rioters,” warned one of the messages.” This is classic right-wing nonsense. It doesn’t require any help from China or anyone else to spread, and I wouldn’t be surprised if people didn’t hear the same paranoia from Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity.

Phrases in this article include: United States intelligence agencies have assessed that Chinese operatives helped push the messages… The origin of the messages remains murky. American officials declined to reveal details of the intelligence linking Chinese agents to the dissemination of the disinformation, citing the need to protect their sources and methods… Chinese agents also appear to be using texts and encrypted messaging apps. American intelligence officers are also examining whether spies in China’s diplomatic missions in the United States helped spread the fake lockdown messages… Other rival powers might have been involved… 

*With Selective Coronavirus Coverage, China Builds a Culture of Hate
Subhead: The state propaganda machine highlights other countries’ mistakes while suppressing China’s, fueling anger toward foreigners and domestic critics alike.
Talk about projection! It’s an all-out propaganda war from the NYT, building a “culture of hate” against China. “The pandemic unfolded dramatically differently in China from the way it has in the rest of the world — at least, if one believes state-run Chinese media. Chinese news outlets used words like “purgatory” and “apocalypse” to describe the tragic hospital scenes in Italy and Spain. They have run photos of British and American medical workers wearing garbage bags as protective gear.” “A lot of the same miseries happened in China”. Really? Who’s spreading propaganda and building a culture of hate now?

*Liu Ouqing, Civil Servant Who Helped Feed Wuhan, Dies at 78
He was party secretary of the Wuhan Grain Bureau, why is his obit in the NYT (& the Mercury News!)? So they could have an excuse for some China-bashing, like “Not long after his death, local officials in Wuhan began pressuring Mr. Liu’s son to quickly bury his father, as the government was moving to control the narrative of the outbreak. The younger Mr. Liu did not protest, even though he resented being forced to share such a private moment with government-appointed chaperones” and “On Jan. 6, before his annual trip to Sanya, Mr. Liu went to a hospital in Wuhan for his health checkup. The day before, 59 cases of an unexplained “viral pneumonia” had been reported in the city, but local officials insisted there was no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission.”

China is not a ‘scapegoat’ if it’s guilty of unleashing virus
“it was the Chinese Communist regime, not the Trump administration, that unleashed this virus on the United States and the world through its lies and deception. Americans of all political stripes understand this and are more than willing to put the blame where it belongs. The Harris Poll finds 77% say the Chinese government is responsible for the spread of the virus, including 90% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats.
By lying to the world and obstructing an earlier global response to the virus, the Chinese Communist Party started this global forest fire.”

COVID-19: North Korea’s Missing Data
Filled with evidence-free speculation questioning that the DPRK has no cases.

‘Sadness’ and Disbelief From a World Missing American Leadership
Subhead: The coronavirus pandemic is shaking bedrock assumptions about U.S. exceptionalism. This is perhaps the first global crisis in more than a century where no one is even looking for Washington to lead.
Standard American exceptionalism. The last time the world was led by the U.S. was the invasion of Iraq. Also, here’s the first paragraph: “As images of America’s overwhelmed hospital wards and snaking jobless lines have flickered across the world, people on the European side of the Atlantic are looking at the richest and most powerful nation in the world with disbelief.” Isn’t this the kind of coverage the Times was criticizing when it appeared in Chinese media?

*Audience of his Peers
Donald Trump at a tree-planting ceremony to celebrate Earth Day, shortly after tweeting about how financial help was needed for the oil and gas industry. I’m not quite sure who his “peers” were, they appeared to be mostly old white men, almost certainly not an audience of people who love trees except possibly to cut them down.

Friday, April 17, 2020


Headlines for April 17, 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 April 17, 2020

*Big Business Pledged Gentler Capitalism. It’s Not Happening in a Pandemic.
Or ever. “Last August, the chief executives of 181 of America’s largest corporations signed a document pledging their commitment to run their companies for the benefit of workers and communities, and not just for shareholders.”

*Coronavirus didn't bring the economy down — 40 years of greed and corporate malfeasance did
Yup. “there is no evidence that coronavirus will spontaneously create a more inclusive form of capitalism”

“Abolish Silicon Valley: How to Liberate Technology from Capitalism”. Author Wendy Liu doesn’t think the world economy is set up in a way that serves most people. "The problem is the fact that tech is ultimately interrelated to capital and right now capital is in a very concentrated and not representative group of people. I ask the question, can we find a way of developing tech that is actually serving the public, social need without it being in the same system that has produced so much of the waste and inequality that we see."

*Putin’s Long War Against American Science
Subhead: A decade of health disinformation promoted by President Vladimir Putin of Russia has sown wide confusion, hurt major institutions and encouraged the spread of deadly illnesses.
Note: on Wednesday, Barack Obama touted this article: “Democracy depends on an informed citizenry and social cohesion. Here’s a look at how misinformation can spread through social media, and why it can hurt our ability to respond to crises.”
Bizarre personalization: "President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has played a principal role in the spread of false information" "Mr. Putin has spread misinformation on issues of personal health for more than a decade."
Not a single concrete example of Kremlin-inspired disinformation in this screed, but all the familiar go-to cliches: Putin's years in the KGB, RT, Gerasimov "doctrine," Internet Research Agency
"The State Department recently accused Russia of using thousands of social media accounts to spread coronavirus misinformation — including a conspiracy theory that the United States engineered the deadly pandemic." The subhead claims this alleged Russian (sorry, "Putin"!) campaign has "encouraged the spread of deadly diseases". Regardless of whether this conspiracy theory is true or false, how would questioning the origin of coronavirus encourage the spread of Covid-19? That's on Trump.
Basically every thing that the right-wing (led now by Trump) in this country is responsible for, the NYT ascribes to "Putin", thereby absolving Trump and his "co-thinkers" (I'm using the word "thinker" loosely).

*New poll: Nearly half of frequent Fox viewers say COVID-19 death toll is inflated

*Nearly a third of Americans still believe this coronavirus conspiracy theory
Almost 30 percent of Americans who responded to a new Pew poll said they think the virus was manmade and originated in a lab. And guess what? It wasn't "Putin" who convinced them of this, it was anti-China US media and politicians spreading this nonsense.

*Trump says he has ‘total authority’ to reopen states. It's more complicated.
https://t.co/9SFUhCOEjS?amp=1 [WaPo video]
No, no it isn't more complicated. He has no such authority, and nothing in this video presents any claim (other than from Trump) that he does. Trump two days ago: ““I will be speaking to all 50 Governors and I will then be authorizing each individual Governor of each individual state to implement a reopening [plan].” Very little reporting of this ridiculous statement; Governors don’t need “authorization” from Trump to do anything, and he has no power to give it to them.

*Coronavirus keeps Joe Biden a bystander, even as Bernie Sanders endorses him
It's not coronavirus keeping Biden a bystander, it's Joe Biden, and his campaign team who knows the less Biden says, the better. "To be sure, there are certain advantages for Biden of a front-porch campaign. And the more this election is a pure referendum on Trump’s leadership, the better that could be for Biden." In other words, Democrats want the election to be between Trump and "not Trump". The less said by or about "not Trump", the better.

*In unprecedented move, Treasury orders Trump’s name printed on stimulus checks
Treasury Dept? No, it was Trump.
“Trump had privately suggested to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who oversees the IRS, that he allow the president to formally sign the checks.”

*Attorney General Bill Barr refuses to release 9/11 documents to families of the victims
Compare that plain vanilla one to this one, the headline of the week:
*US Refuses Release of 9/11 Documents, Claims Reason for Secrecy is Secret
“In a last-minute court filing this week, the US government moved to block the release of a trove of documents about the September 11, 2001, attacks to families of the victims. However, senior intelligence officials said they were unable to explain the reasons for the secrecy, as doing so would compromise US national security.”

Friday, April 10, 2020


Headlines for April 10, 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 April 10, 2020

*Authorities remove almost a million N95 masks and other supplies from alleged hoarder
https://youtu.be/MmNqXaGuo2k (ABC News)
“Authorities remove close to one million N95 respirator masks, gloves, gowns and other medical supplies after a Brooklyn man was caught allegedly hoarding the equipment.”
Are you really an "alleged" hoarder if you have a million N95 masks?

*Trump and top aides repeatedly use briefings to describe efforts that have not panned out
Subhead: The Trump administration’s pronouncements and pledges have turned out, again and again, to be out of sync with what doctors, nurses and stricken families are reporting.
Inside headline: At White House coronavirus briefings, rescue efforts are extensive but often aspirational
A master class in avoiding the word “lying” (or “b.s.”). “Out of sync” with reality is apparently the latest euphemism for lying.

*Most of us are under stay-at-home orders. So why are 6 out of 10 still on the road?
This is utter nonsense. "Nationwide, traffic analytics firms say, daily traffic remains at about 60 percent of normal levels." "In California, where a stay-at-home order took effect March 19, daily trips statewide remain at 58 percent of normal levels." Baloney. The roads are deserted. Maybe people are taking a quick trip to the grocery store, or a nearby park, and maybe "trips" are at 58% (but even that I doubt), but the claim that "daily traffic" is at 60% is completely at odds with everything everyone I talk to is seeing. Here in the Bay Area you can drive on a freeway at "rush hour" at the speed limit; that was a fantasy a month ago. The same is true for local roads. Mass transit in the Bay Area is at less than 10% of normal.

*Coronavirus double whammy: unemployed and uninsured
So far the only article I’ve seen stating this obvious and rather important truth; no such coverage yet in the NYT, WaPo, or on various broadcast media. 17M people in the last three weeks now don’t have “health insurance they love”, if they ever had it. This is a major debunking of the Biden/Buttigieg/Klobuchar/ argument in favor of “Medicare for All who want it”, it should be a major theme of press coverage of the layoffs, but isn’t.

*Africa's leaders forced to confront healthcare systems they neglected for years
A, we could say the same about the US, and B, the situation of healthcare systems in the third world is primarily due to centuries of exploitation and underdevelopment by the West. Placing all the blame on Africa's leaders "neglect" is a real misdirection.

*Coronavirus death toll: Americans are almost certainly dying of covid-19 but being left out of the official count
Identical story in the NYT and elsewhere. "For a disease with common symptoms such as covid-19, they said, deaths with positive results almost certainly represent only a fraction of the total caused by the disease." “You’re never going to apply the test on everybody who is ill and everybody who dies. So without doubt — it’s a truism — the number of deaths are underestimated globally because you don’t apply the test.”
And yet we've been subjected to days and days of stories insinuating there was something sinister about the fact that the death toll in China may be higher than China has said.
*C.I.A. Hunts for Authentic Virus Totals in China, Dismissing Government Tallies
*Wuhan's death toll could be astronomically higher than the Chinese government has reported, some residents say

On Twitter, almost 60 percent of false claims about coronavirus remain online — without a warning label
This may or may not be accurate, but there isn’t a single example of the alleged false claims; we’re just left to take this on faith. Amazingly, though, there’s no mention of Russia or China in the article, only Trump & Bolsonaro.
Birx and Fauci reject Fox News-promoted theory that coronavirus deaths are inflated
Tucker Carlson and Brit Hume, saying that people who have coronavirus are actually dying from other causes but are being counted as COVID-19 deaths.
‘What do you have to lose?’: Inside Trump’s embrace of a risky drug against coronavirus
Another regular on Fox News, New York-based oncologist William Grace, has suddenly emerged as an influential voice in Trump’s orbit despite having no formal links to the government. Grace has appeared regularly on Ingraham’s show touting hydroxychloroquine.
Grace said in an interview that as he has tracked the pandemic as a self-described “interested physician,” he has become convinced that the “drugs are working, that fewer people are having to go to the respirators at places like Lenox Hill hospital.” 
Grace is not a spokesman for the hospital or approved to speak about its use of hydroxychloroquine on patients. When Ingraham posted a tweet on March 20 about Grace’s comments regarding the hospital, Twitter deleted it for violating the platform’s policies, and the hospital said in a statement that “his views are his own and do not represent the hospital.” 

'Maximum pressure' on Iran amid coronavirus could backfire for Trump
The headline should of course read "'Maximum pressure' on Iran amid coronavirus could kill tens of thousands of Iranians", since that's the real story, but that's not what it says. And the "backfire" portion? It mostly refers to the possibility that "hardliners" in Iran will be strengthened (supposedly bad for the U.S. and Trump). Plus it "could erode global trust in Washington".

US fighter jets intercept Russian aircraft near Alaska
"Near"=50 miles; territorial waters are 12 miles. There are actually U.S. islands (the Diomedes) which are about 12 miles from Russia! These planes may well have been closer to Russia than they were to the U.S.!
“COVID-19 or not, NORAD continues actively watching for threats and defending the homelands 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” NORAD Commander Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said in the posts.

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