Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Snopes' Field Guide to Fake News Sites and Hoax Purveyors, updated 7/9/2017

I'm not giving examples of fake news items, because research has shown that when this is done, many people will remember the debunked "news" but not remember that it is false.

It boggles my mind that so many people on Facebook will take seriously obviously satirical items.

Kim LaCapria
Jan 14, 2016

The sharp increase in popularity of social media networks (primarily Facebook) has created a predatory secondary market among online publishers seeking to profitably exploit the large reach of those networks and their huge customer bases by spreading fake news and outlandish rumors. Competition for social media’s large supply of willing eyeballs is fierce, and a number of frequent offenders regularly fabricate salacious and attention-grabbing tales simply to drive traffic (and revenue) to their sites.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Honest Reporting

For the list liberal fake news sites he warns against, see the preceding blog post "If You’re A Liberal, Stop Sharing Links From These Fake News Sites"

I point out that Modern Liberals itself does contain a clearly labeled humor/satire section.


If you want to subscribe to honest reporting on national issues in the United States, there are many reputable and mostly neutral sources like AP, Reuters, BBC out there.

Here are a few of the websites I go to for news or opinion articles.

If You’re A Liberal, Stop Sharing Links From These Fake News Sites, update 7/2/2017

I haven't looked at all of these web sites, but the ones I have I agree should be disregarded.

To avoid confustion, I'll list the sources he recommends is a separate post.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

10 Journalism Brands Where You Find Real Facts Rather Than Alternative Facts

I went ahead and went with their headline, although I disagree with their rosy view of WSJ editorials. I have found the WSJ editorials not trustworthy. They are often biased on behalf of the power elite. As this article says, it does provide info on what the non-batty right-wing is saying.

By Paul Glader
Paul Glader is an associate professor of journalism at The King's College in New York City, a media scholar at The Berlin School of Creative Leadership and is on Twitter @PaulGlader.
Feb 1, 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tax-Aide needs volunteers


Help your neighbors get the (tax) credit they deserve! AARP Foundation is looking for compassionate and friendly individuals to join our volunteer team this upcoming tax season!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Eighth child death from fallen IKEA dresser prompts recall reminder

Actuaries warn Congress mandate repeal would increase premiums

GOP plan will ultimately raise taxes on 50% of Americans, nonpartisan assessment says

President Donald Trump on Monday promised a tax overhaul by Christmas, even as a nonpartisan tax analysis group said the Senate package would leave half of taxpayers facing higher levies by 2027.


Trump spoke as the Tax Policy Center said that while all income groups would see tax reductions, on average, under the Senate bill in 2019, 9 percent of taxpayers would pay higher taxes that year than under current law. By 2027, that proportion would grow to 50 percent, largely because the legislation's personal tax cuts expire in 2026, which Republicans did to curb budget deficits the bill would create.

The policy center, a joint operation of the liberal-leaning Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, found that low-earners would generally get smaller tax breaks than higher-income people.

In 2019, those making less than $25,000 would get an average $50 tax reduction, or 0.3 percent of their after-tax income. Middle-income earners would get average cuts of $850, while people making at least $746,000 would get average cuts of $34,000, or 2.2 percent of income.

The center also said the Senate proposal would generate enough economic growth to produce additional revenue of $169 billion [$169,000,000,000] over a decade. That's far short of closing the near $1.5 trillion [$1,000,000,000,000] in red ink that Congress' nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated the bill would produce over that period.


Republican tax cuts will hurt Americans. And Democrats will pay the price

Bruce Bartlett worked as an adviser for Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush. His new book is The Truth Matters

Bruce Bartlett
Nov. 20, 2017

I think many Democrats and independent political observers are puzzled by the intensity with which Republicans are pursuing their tax cut. It’s not politically popular and may well lead to the party’s defeat in next year’s congressional elections. So why do it?

The answer is that Republicans are pushing the tax cut at breakneck speed precisely because they know they are probably going to lose next year and in 2020 as well. The tax cut, once enacted, however, will bind the hands of Democrats for years to come, forcing them to essentially follow a Republican agenda of deficit reduction and prevent any action on a positive Democratic program. The result will be a steady erosion of support for Democrats that will put Republicans back in power within a few election cycles.

The theory was laid out almost 30 years ago by two Swedish economists, Torsten Persson and Lars EO Svensson. In a densely written article for the Quarterly Journal of Economics in 1989, they explained why a stubborn conservative legislator would intentionally run a big budget deficit.

It has to do with what economists call time inconsistency – the consequences of actions taken today may not appear until the future, when a different political party will be in power. Thus the credit or blame will accrue to that party rather than the one that implemented the policy, because voters tend to attribute whatever is happening today to the party in power today even if that party had nothing to do with it.

Thus Barack Obama got blamed for a recession and resulting budget deficits he had nothing to do with originating. No matter how many times the Congressional Budget Office showed that the vast bulk of the budget deficits in his administration were baked in the cake the day he took office, Republicans nevertheless blamed him and his policies exclusively for those deficits.

Of course, another reason for those deficits is that Republicans systematically decimated the federal government’s revenue-raising capacity during the George W Bush administration with one huge tax cut after another. All of these were sold as necessary to get the economy growing again. The failure of the economy to respond positively was never taken as evidence of the failure of those tax cuts, but rather as showing the need for even more and bigger tax cuts.

By 2022, Republicans will be back in control of Congress and in the White House by 2024

The payoff for this orgy of tax-cutting came when Obama took office. All of a sudden, Republicans noticed that there were large deficits and insisted that Obama do something about them right this minute! They even made the nonsensical argument that spending cuts would stimulate growth by reducing the burden of government.


I believe that the same cycle will rerun over the next few years. Should Democrats get control of the House and/or Senate next year, Trump and his party will insist that deficit reduction be the only order of business. Automatic spending cuts resulting directly from the tax cut will start to bite, hurting the poor and middle class primarily, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and making them forget that they resulted from a huge tax give-away to the wealthy that increased the deficit by $1.5tn. Democrats will get much of the blame due to time-inconsistency.

It’s possible that Trump’s appointees to the Federal Reserve may be so alarmed by the inflationary potential of the growing deficits that they will raise interest rates in response. This could trigger a recession that will be blamed on a Democratic president taking office in 2021, just as happened with Obama. But that president may not be able to enact any stimulus at all because deficits crowd out any fiscal space. By 2022, Republicans will be back in control of Congress and in the White House by 2024. In 2025, they will demand still more tax cuts.






Religious hypocrisy

In this extract from his memoirs "A Man without a Country", Kurt Vonnegut is horrified by the hypocrisy in contemporary US politics

Jan. 20, 2006

"Do unto others what you would have them do unto you." A lot of people think Jesus said that, because it is so much the sort of thing Jesus liked to say. But it was actually said by Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, five hundred years before there was that greatest and most humane of human beings, named Jesus Christ.


How about Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes?

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

And so on.

Not exactly planks in a Republican platform. Not exactly George W Bush, Dick Cheney, or Donald Rumsfeld stuff.

For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that's Moses, not Jesus. I haven't heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.

"Blessed are the merciful" in a courtroom? "Blessed are the peacemakers" in the Pentagon? Give me a break!

It so happens that idealism enough for anyone is not made of perfumed pink clouds. It is the law! It is the US Constitution.

But I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened instead is that it was taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d'état imaginable.


Welfare Religion

I wrote this song after my experiences working with people who bragged about being "born again". It didn't keep them from being mean dishonest liars. I started asking them how being "born again" had changed how they treated other people. Not a single one said it had any effect. They ALL looked puzzled at the idea. They admitted it hadn't, but said it made them feel so good.

The on-line book "The Authoritarians" refers to Dietrich Bonhoeffer's coining of the phrase "cheap grace", in chapter 4:
"Cheap Grace. Unfortunately, fundamentalist Protestantism may directly promote hypocrisy among its members through one of its major theological principles: that if one accepts Jesus as a personal savior and asks for the forgiveness of one’s sins, one will be saved. But a lot depends on what “accepts” means. Is one’s life transformed? Do good works increase? Is the born-again person more like Jesus, holier? That would be all to the good. But because of some evangelist preachers, the interpretation has grown that all “accepts” means is a one-time verbal commitment. You say the magic words and you go to heaven, no matter what kind of life you lead afterwards. Many have thought that a pretty sweet deal. You’ve conned a free pass through the Pearly Gates from the Almighty and you can sin and debauch all you want for the rest of your life. "

A nifty phrase. It describes what my poem/song "Welfare Religion" is about. And I have incorporated it into the song.
If you read the Bible, you know that is not what Jesus said. Eg., Matthew 25.

When sung, the last verse is the chorus.

Welfare Religion
copyright Patricia M. Shannon 1996

What would Jesus think if He came to earth today?
Do you think He would be happy with all the folks who say:
"I am saved, alleluia, and I'll live forever more".
But they would never think of giving comfort to the poor.

They say they believe in Jesus and the Bible is all true,
but they ignore what He did say in Chapter 25 of Matthew:
What you do for the less fortunate, you've done it unto Me,
and where you go after you're dead depends upon your deeds.

They say "I feel so good because I have been born again.
And what's that got to do with how I treat my fellow men?
Jesus loves me, this I know, He loves only myself;
it's true, because He doesn't care how I treat anybody else.

I believe in Jesus, no need to change my ways,
just massage His ego once or twice a day.
I believe in Jesus, all it takes is that cheap grace,
to get me into heaven, the perfect welfare state.

Monday, November 20, 2017

These ghosts will haunt us

Jay Bookman
Nov. 20, 2017

As head of Rhino Resources, David Zatezalo oversaw a coal-mining company with one of the worst safety records in the industry. Conditions in Rhino mines were so bad that the U.S. Mine Health and Safety Administration twice cited the company for broad “pattern of violations,” a rare designation “reserved for mines that pose the greatest risk to the health and safety of miners, particularly those with chronic violation records.”

Thanks to President Trump and his Republican colleagues in the Senate, Zatezalo now runs the Mine Health and Safety Administration, the agency that gave him so much trouble.

Brett Talley is a 36-year-old lawyer from Alabama who began his practice of law just three years ago, has never tried a case and has yet to even argue a motion in a courtroom.


Yet earlier this month, even after the American Bar Association unanimously rated Talley “unqualified,” the Senate Judiciary Committee — voting along strict party lines — recommended Talley’s confirmation to a lifetime appointment as a federal judge.


All over the administration, this game is being played. People who would never make the first cut in any other administration, Republican or Democrat, are being installed in important policy-making jobs. Others, like Zatezalo at the mine safety agency, have been put in positions where they undermine their agency’s mission. The Environmental Protection Agency has been remade as the Industry Protection Agency, with scientists pushed aside in favor of corporate lobbyists. At the State Department, an entire generation of experienced diplomats is being pushed out the door, with no replacement.

Long after this is over, the quiet damage now being done will haunt us in ways we can’t even imagine.


The 'doubled standard deduction' in the GOP tax plan is a lie

Hidden camera tells true story of how veteran died after calling for help, gasping for air

Russian troll describes work in the infamous misinformation factory

Slain border agent may have been beaten to death by rocks in ‘grisly scene,’ union leader says

Puerto Rico's uncounted hurricane deaths.

Risk of stillbirth is double in pregnant women who sleep on their backs, study finds

Babies learn what words mean before they can use them

Russian-linked Facebook accounts called for violence, sowed discord

'Kill them all' -- Russian-linked Facebook accounts called for violence
by Curt Devine @CNNMoney October 31, 2017: 12:31 PM ET

Facebook accounts run by Russian trolls repeatedly called for violence against different social and political groups in the U.S., including police officers, Black Lives Matter activists and undocumented immigrants.

Posts from three now-removed Facebook groups created by the Russian Internet Research Agency suggest Russia sought not only to meddle in U.S. politics but to encourage ideologically opposed groups to act out violently against one another. The posts are part of a database compiled by Jonathan Albright, the research director at Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism, who tracks and analyzes Russian propaganda.


Mark R. Jacobson, a Georgetown University professor and expert on Russian influence operations, said Russia strategically seeks to undermine U.S. political cohesion by promoting extremist views within opposing political or social groups, and hoping chaos—and violence -- ensues.

"The Russians don't want groups like Black Lives Matter [and] the Alt-Right to sit there and have discussions and debates about the future of America. They want violent clashes," Jacobson said.

Jacobson noted that, during the Cold War, Russia sought to enhance extremist ideas within the civil rights movement in hopes of sparking race-based warfare in the U.S.

"If we start to see violent rallies... we should start to look for the hidden hand of Russian influence behind it," he said.

Columbia University's Albright said even if only a fraction of the accounts' posts called for physical violence, the overall messaging sought to push audiences toward more radical viewpoints that they would act on.


"People can be heavily influenced by content online even when they don't know where it comes from," Benesch said. "In these cases, we can't know if anyone was actually influenced toward violence, but this type of speech could increase that risk."


Here Are The Ads Russian Trolls Targeted At American Teenagers

Some of the ads released by the House Intelligence Committee targeted teens as young as 13.
Posted on November 1, 2017, at 6:26 p.m.
Jane Lytvynenko
Jane Lytvynenko

The House Intelligence Committee released ads connected to a pro-Russian troll farm today. Along with the ads, the committee released metadata showing that some advertisements were targeted at teenagers as young as 13.

During testimony at the Senate Intelligence Committee, Facebook said at least 146 million Americans saw the ads purchased by the Kremlin-linked troll farm, up from 126 million. The aim was to influence the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election and increase division after it was over.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Dozens of Alabama pastors sign letter denouncing Roy Moore

By Max Greenwood - 11/18/17 02:28 PM EST

Dozens of progressive Alabama pastors have signed onto a letter calling GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore unfit for office, accusing him of preaching "extremist values" and lumping him in with politicians who have "cynically used Christianity for their own goals."

In the letter, posted online Friday, the pastors say that their opposition to Moore began long before recent allegations of sexual misconduct against him emerged, blasting his positions on LGBT rights, immigration and religious liberty.

"Christianity affirms God's love for the neighbor and care for the most vulnerable in society: the widow, the foreigner, and the orphan," the letter reads. "But he has denigrated people from other countries and other faiths."

Christianity thrives in religious freedom from government interference, and a government impartial toward people of all faith traditions," it adds. "But instead he has sought to entangle government with religion."

More than half of the 59 progressive Christian ministers who signed onto the letter come from mainline Protestant denominations, Alabama news outlet noted.

The letter also takes aim at Moore for the sexual misconduct allegations against him, saying his actions serve to "reopen the wounds of anyone who has been abused by leaders who should have been committed to compassion, to justice, and to healing God's world."

"We repudiate the actions of religious and political leaders like Roy Moore who have sought to silence, to cover up, and to be complicit in the sexual abuse," the letter states.


Flooding in Greece kills at least 19

Global warming is causing an increase in floods around the globe. The fossil fuel companies that pay for denialism are mass murderers.

3 more found dead after Greek flash flood, raising total to 19
Bodies of 2 of the victims found at sea south of Mandra

The Associated Press Posted: Nov 18, 2017 8:56 AM ET Last Updated: Nov 18, 2017 10:25 AM ET

Greek authorities say three more people have been found dead from a flash flood that hit a district west of Athens, raising the overall death toll to 19.


Greece: Search continues for 6 still missing in flash floods

By The Associated Press
ATHENS, Greece — Nov 17, 2017, 11:36 AM ET

Wednesday's flash floods, which came after an overnight storm, turned roads into raging torrents of mud that flung cars against buildings, inundated homes and businesses and submerged part of a major highway.

Hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed, and residents struggled with brooms and hoses to clear their properties of tons of mud, water and debris. Cranes were called in to remove smashed cars from atop walls and porches.

The flooding is one of the worst disasters to have hit the Athens area in decades. Several of those who died drowned trapped in flooded homes and stores, while others were motorists carried away by the floodwater. Two were men whose bodies were recovered by the coast guard after having been swept out to sea.