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Sun, 26 Jan 2020
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If CNN & MSNBC used the 9 rules Jim Lehrer left behind, they'd shut down tomorrow

Jim Lehrer
© David McNew / Getty Images
Debate moderator Jim Lehrer speaks during the first of three presidential debates before the 2008 election on Sept. 26, 2008, in the Gertrude Castellow Ford Center at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi.
In a busy news cycle, it's sometimes difficult to notice the untimely departure of a media icon, particularly if they were known for being on public television.

And yet, a media icon is exactly what Jim Lehrer was, even if he stepped down from nightly hosting duties almost a decade ago.

I can still hum the dramatic theme to the "The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" — PBS' nightly news show, and a favorite of my father's.

Comment: See also:


China reporting 17 new cases of Sars-like mystery virus - UPDATE: Death toll hits 56

coronavirus sars china
© AFP via Getty Images
Staff carry a patient into the Jinyintan hospital, where patients infected by a Sars-like virus are being treated, in Wuhan.
Experts worried about the disease's spread during lunar new year period of mass travel

Chinese authorities are to step up efforts to contain the outbreak of a new virus before the lunar new year holidays amid fears of the bug spreading to other countries.

Health officials in Wuhan, the city at the heart of the outbreak, confirmed 17 new cases of the Sars-like coronavirus on Sunday, including three patients who are said to be in a severe condition.

The new strain has caused alarm because of its connection to severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed more than 750 people globally in 2002-03.

Comment: Update: Virus is spreading. Authorities confirm 136 new cases in 2 days. RT reports:
Health officials in Wuhan, China have revealed that 136 new cases of a mysterious new strain of the coronavirus have been diagnosed over just two days, bringing the total in the city to 198.

In a statement detailing the latest escalation in figures for the major viral outbreak, Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said a third person has died from the illness, while two more are in critical condition. A further 33 cases among the newly diagnosed patients are classified as "severe." All of the patients are being kept in isolation.

"The first symptoms were mostly fever, cough or chest tightness, and shortness of breath," the agency said, advising anyone coughing or sneezing to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of germs.

"Pay close attention to symptoms such as fever and cough," they added. "Seek immediate medical attention when such symptoms occur."

Health officials said they've been carrying out medical observations on hundreds of people who came into close contact with those diagnosed to date, and no human-to-human transmission has been found. So far, the outbreak appears to be centered on Wuhan, but a small number of cases have been reported outside of China - two in Thailand and one in Japan.

Infectious disease experts at Imperial College London have calculated that the number of cases in Wuhan alone is approaching 1,700.
Updates 24/01/2020:

Coronavirus infections now at 830 with 26 deaths. WHO doesn't yet consider it a global emergency:
The World Health Organization (WHO) held off designating a new fast-spreading coronavirus as an international health threat, but did deem it a crisis within China, where the pathogen has infected some 830 people and killed 26.

After two days of meetings, WHO determined it was a "bit too early" to label the outbreak an international health emergency on Thursday at a conference in Geneva, despite the rapidly rising disease toll.

"Make no mistake, though, this is an emergency in China," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding: "It has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one."

China's National Health Commission updated the latest figures on the virus' impact across the country on the heels of the WHO decision, confirming a total of 830 infections and 26 fatalities, with an additional 8,420 "close contacts."

The virus has traveled well beyond its epicenter in Wuhan - a city of 11 million and a major transport hub - claiming its first life outside its point of origin earlier this week. Wuhan itself was locked down on Wednesday, with all travel in and out of the city shut down indefinitely as health officials scramble to contain the outbreak.
In the US, a second case of coronavirus has been confirmed:
A second US case of the deadly pneumonia-like coronavirus has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A Chinese woman in her 60s has presented with the illness in Chicago.

The woman flew to Chicago on January 13 from Wuhan, believed to be the source of the outbreak that has so far killed some 26 people and infected at least 800 more. She has had "limited close contacts" since arriving in the city and was not believed to be sick while traveling, the CDC said at a press conference on Friday, adding that she was being kept in isolation at a city hospital.

Another 63 people in 22 states are being investigated as possible coronavirus patients. The first US case was announced on Tuesday in Snohomish County, Washington - a man who returned from Wuhan earlier this month and was hospitalized with pneumonia that turned out to be the virus. Major airports have stepped up screenings in the hope of preventing further spread of the disease.
Another 2 cases suspected in Minnesota:
The two suspected Minnesota cases involve travelers who had visited Wuhan recently. Both have received medical attention but did not need to be hospitalized. They are isolated at home while state health officials await test results from the CDC and reach out to people with whom they have been in contact, said Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease program director for the state health department.

"We've identified their contacts, and so we're beginning to follow up with those individuals to see if they have symptoms of illness and to limit their activities" as needed, she said.

At the University of Minnesota, spring semester began Tuesday, with more than 2,200 Chinese international students recently returned from China. While the U said it will work closely with the state health department to monitor any developments, it stressed that there are no confirmed coronavirus cases on any of its campuses, according to a public health alert.
McDonald's closes restaurants in five Chinese cities as coronavirus spreads:
Fast food chain McDonald's has announced it will halt operations in five cities in China's Hubei province, where the new deadly coronavirus is believed to originate. The suspension comes into effect on Friday.

The restaurant chain has dozens of locations in the region, including in the city of Wuhan, which is considered to be the epicenter of the virus.

Apart from Wuhan, where most infections have occurred, McDonalds will close restaurants in Ezhou, Huanggang, Qianjing and Xiantao. The company says that the temporary measure is introduced for "for employee and customer health and safety."

In a statement to RT, McDonald's said that its restaurants operate normally in cities where public transportation is available, unlike the five cities in Hubei province.
In China, authorities announce first cured coronavirus patient:
The Shanghai Municipal Health Commission has confirmed that a patient infected with the deadly coronavirus has, for the first time since the outbreak, been cured and discharged from hospital.

After six days, the patient, a 56-year-old woman identified only as Chen, showed a significant improvement in her respiratory symptoms. Two independent blood tests for the coronavirus came back negative, as did pulmonary CT scans, according to the state-owned Beijing Daily newspaper.

The patient was then released from quarantine following a further examination by experts deployed to tackle the disease.

Chen reportedly lived in Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak, for many years. She developed fever and fatigue on January 10 and was hospitalized in Shanghai on January 12.
Trump commends China for their quick response to the outbreak:
US President Donald Trump has commended his Chinese counterpart for his country's quick response to a rapidly moving coronavirus outbreak, as additional cases of the illness were confirmed in Europe, Australia and the US.

The fatality count jumped by another 15, to 41 in total by Saturday, with most of the deaths involving elderly patients with pre-existing conditions, all of them in China. The quickly climbing disease toll stands at nearly 1,300 cases nationwide, according to Chinese health officials.

With the second infection confirmed in the US, one in Australia and three more in France, President Trump extended gratitude to Xi Jinping for Beijing's aggressive efforts to contain the new coronavirus - dubbed 2019-nCoV - which include tight travel restrictions for some 20 million citizens across 13 Chinese cities.

Update 25/01/2020:

Chinese doctor on the 'front lines' of outbreak dies from the illness as death toll hits 41:
A 62-year-old doctor helping to beat back a fast-moving coronavirus in China, Liang Wudong, has died of the illness while working at its epicenter in the city of Wuhan, Chinese state media has reported.

The fatality comes as Beijing scrambles to contain the deadly outbreak - which has so far taken some 41 lives in China and infected over 1,300 worldwide - with hundreds of doctors and other healthcare workers calling off their New Year celebrations to race to the virus' point of origin in Wuhan.

A group of 135 medical workers from Guangdong Province penned an open letter earlier this week explaining their motives for running directly into danger, stating "the responsibility of safeguarding our people falls to no others but us."

"We have the experience, and we are ready to go to the front line. When duty calls, we will answer it, and answer it with victory."

Overworked staff in Wuhan have been on around-the-clock shifts, with some doctors seen collapsing from exhaustion amid the aggressive containment effort. Quickly running out of desperately needed supplies - such as surgical masks, scrubs and protective goggles - hospitals across the city have reportedly been relying on public donations between resupplies.


Despite containment efforts, new cases continue to be detected. Latest death toll at 56.
The death toll from the 2019-nCoV coronavirus outbreak in China has reached 56, with hundreds of new infections detected nationwide, despite all containment efforts. A handful of news cases have also been reported outside China.

The first death was reported in Shanghai, and another one in Henan Province, while 13 more people died in Hubei Province - the epicenter of the outbreak - where nearly 130 people were reportedly in serious or critical condition as of Sunday morning. In addition to hundreds of known and confirmed cases, some 7,000 people there remain under increased medical supervision due to their potentially dangerous "close contacts."

Meanwhile, the number of those who have beaten the virus and were discharged from hospitals has increased to at least 85, according to authorities.

China is facing a "grave situation" as the new coronavirus is "accelerating its spread," President Xi Jinping warned earlier. He added, however, that given the immense efforts to contain the outbreak, China "will definitely be able to win the battle."

Around 450 Chinese military medics, many with experience in combating SARS or Ebola, were deployed in the region to help the overworked and exhausted hospital staff, who had been on around-the-clock shifts in recent weeks. Meanwhile, local authorities are rushing to construct a new 1,000-bed facility specifically to treat victims of the deadly virus.


FBI probes allegations of 'deep-rooted' academic fraud in NYC schools

Robert Holden
© Helayne Seidman
City Councilman Robert Holden met with officials in the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York after his call for a federal probe.
The feds have started looking into allegations of widespread academic fraud in New York City schools, a Queens lawmaker says.

City Councilman Robert Holden met this month with officials in the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York after his call for a federal probe of "deep-rooted fraud" in the city Department of Education.

"I'm encouraged by my meeting with the US Attorney. His team is taking this seriously," Holden told The Post.

FBI agents have already contacted several whistle-blowing teachers whose names he provided, Holden added.

A spokesman for US Attorney Richard Donoghue declined comment.

Holden sent a letter in November to Donoghue in Brooklyn and US Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan, saying "an apparent pattern of conspiracy to cover up" grade-fixing, cheating and other wrongdoing might warrant an investigation under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which covers criminal enterprises.

Comment: See also:


US citizen detained and interrogated by DHS agents about anti-war movement solidarity with Venezuela

DHS Venezuela
A US citizen who participated in the Venezuelan Embassy Protection Collective was detained, searched and interrogated for the second time by US government agents about his political beliefs and participation in the anti-war movement.

On his way back from a Christmas visit to his family in Nicaragua, 31-year-old US citizen Sergio Lazo Torrez was detained by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers at Fort Lauderdale International Airport on January 20, then interrogated by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents who grilled him about his involvement in the US anti-war movement.

Torrez was a participant in the Venezuela Embassy Protection Collective, a group of activists and journalists formed in April 2019 to defend Venezuela's embassy in Washington DC against a takeover attempt by the Trump-backed coup administration of Juan Guaido.


PS-752 and MH-17 update and new info

boeing crash iran
Although it already seems like "old news", it was only three weeks ago that Ukrainian Airlines PS-725 was shot down, killing all 176 onboard. The explanation of the events has changed several times, but has generally maintained the story line that Iran was responsible for "the tragic and unintentional accident". But whether it really was an accident remains an open question. With an obvious answer. The usual one... No.

Beyond any doubt, the Iranians had zero motive for shooting down the plane on purpose themselves, but new information has come to light that may well indicate that the Iranians were "spoofed" or duped by technical means into firing on and destroying an innocent civilian plane. But if you know the specifications and capabilities of the TOR M-1 system, the "spoofing" story remains extremely unconvincing. As noted in my previous article on this subject, the Tor M-1 has a radar for detecting objects, and TV and infrared cameras for targeting and fire control. The radar has a 25 Km range, the cameras have a 20 Km range, and the missiles, 15 Km. If a target cannot be visually seen by the operator, it cannot be hit. Of course, I do understand that IFF transponders and radar return info can be "spoofed", but I have yet to see a credible explanation of how optical and thermal imaging cameras can be manipulated into making an ascending civilian 737 with all lights illuminated appear to be a cruise missile.

Two of the early "explanations" for "accidentally" firing on the airliner (first that the transponder was either not on or malfunctioned, and second that the plane had veered off course towards Tehran or military bases) have now been dispelled. As in proven to be absolutely false. In fact neither of these events occurred until after the airliner had already been fired on, and hit at least once. This video, published by the New York Times, contains extremely important information. This information, if true, shows the radar transponder on and working up until the first missile impact, and that the plane did not veer off course until after the first missile hit. "If true"... Do I trust the New York Times? Of course not. But the professional liars that write for and edit it, from time to time hoist themselves on their own petard. Their video asserts -
It was the first missile impact that causes the transponder to stop working. So, the transponder was on and working at the time the first missile was aimed and fired, and the plane was on course, along its usual flight path, until the first missile hit.

Comment: See also:

Quenelle - Golden

Over a MILLION Iraqis protest against US occupation

Thousands of Iraqis Protest
The U.S. military is unwelcome in Iraq.

Iraq's parliament voted last month to expel the U.S. troops who have been occupying the country for nearly twenty years. However, the United States government has refused to comply with the order and has threatened harsh sanctions if they are forced to leave.

The presence of the United States military is unwelcome in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, but they have shown no signs of slowing down the so-called "war on terror."

On Friday, massive crowds of protesters poured into the streets of Baghdad to protest against U.S. occupation and demanded that western troops to be sent home. Foreign sources including Press TV estimated the crowds at over a million, while CNN suggested that hundreds of thousands were involved in the protests. The Wall Street Journal gave the smallest estimation at "tens of thousands." However, video and images from the protest show that actual numbers were far higher.

Comment: Fort Russ News gives added details:
Millions of Iraqi people convened in the capital city of Baghdad today to deplore the US military presence in the country.

According to Iraq's local media, people from "all of the Iraqi provinces" have gathered in the ongoing rally to condemn the Americans' illegal presence in the country, after the US assassinated top Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad earlier this month.

The protesters are carrying banners and chanting slogans calling for the expulsion of US forces.

During the rallies, the Influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr lashed out at the United States for its illegal military presence in Iraq, saying, "If the US government does not agree to leave Iraq, it will be considered and treated as an occupying state and enemy."

Baghdad should revoke all security agreements with the US and ban the US from conducting military operations in its skies, he added.

The demonstrators are planned to gather at the intersection of Baghdad University in the Jadriyah neighborhood.

Iraqis in Karbala city, south of Baghdad, were also seen boarding buses heading towards the capital.

The rally comes after influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on Iraqis to stage "a million-strong, peaceful, unified demonstration to condemn the American presence and its violations" last week.

On January 5, the Iraqi parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for the expulsion of all US-led forces in the country two days after Washington assassinated Soleimani and Muhandis.

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council praised the Iraqi people's massive turnout to the anti-US rallies that were held in Baghdad on Friday, saying Washington should await new displays of regional power.

Shamkhani hailed epic rallies in Baghdad against US illegal presence. Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, in a statement, commended the Iraqi government, parliament, and nation for the epic demonstrations to deplore the US' illegal military presence in the country.

He described the rally as a sign of Iraqis' pioneering role in the expulsion of the Americans from the region.

Shamkhani said the Iraqis rallying in million showed that the US' threat of sanctions has become nothing but a fruitless effort, which cannot undermine the will and unity of the nations that pursue their national sovereignty and independence.

"The countdown to the US' expulsion from the region started on the early hours of Friday, January 3, and Washington is getting closer to the end of its presence in the region day by day," he added.

The top Iranian security official was referring to the US assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandes on January 3.

On January 5, the Iraqi parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for the expulsion of all foreign forces after the US assassination of Iran's senior Iranian and Iraqi commanders.

On January 7, Iran's IRGC targeted the US airbase of Ain al-Assad in Anbar province in western Iraq after launching a wave of attacks to retaliate the terrorist move.

Today's massive rally came after influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on Iraqis to stage "a million-strong, peaceful, unified demonstration to condemn the American presence and its violations".

Sadr issued a statement on Friday calling for US bases to be shut down and Iraqi airspace closed to US warplanes and surveillance aircraft.

He warned that US presence in the country will be dealt with as an occupying force if Washington does not agree with Iraqi demands to withdraw for the country.
Moon of Alabama tracked the West's coverage of the event:
At 10:01 UTC today the Associated Press tweeted that "hundreds" gather in central Baghdad to demand that American troops leave the country.

hundreds iraqi protestors
Thirty eight minutes earlier CNN had already reported that "hundreds of thousands" are protesting in Baghdad against the U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

hundreds 2
When AP sent the misleading tweet the commander of the Iraqi Federal Police Forces Jaffar al-Batat had already announced that the number of demonstrators exceeds one million.

That number may well be correct. Reports said that the column of protesters was already eight kilometers long even while many were still arriving.

millions iraqis

Arrow Up

Putin returns fallen cap to member of Palestinian honor guard during Bethlehem visit

Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud Abbas
© Sputnik / Sergey Guneev
Vladimir Putin meets Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.
The Russian president made a small but noticeable contribution to keeping the Palestinian Authority in order when he put a fallen peaked cap back where it belonged - on the head of a member of an honor guard.

The amusing interlude happened on Friday as Vladimir Putin was visiting the Palestinian city of Bethlehem to meet PA chief Mahmoud Abbas.


CEO of French telecom firm Orange says Huawei ban goes against EU interests

Orange chairman and CEO, Stéphane Richard
© Amelie Laurin
The head of the French telecommunications firm backed including Huawei Technologies as a 5G provider amid fierce debate within European governments, with many set to disclose their network security policies.

Orange chairman and CEO, Stéphane Richard, told reporters in Paris as quoted by Reuters he was against excluding Huawei, adding that he wanted clearly defined European rules on security.

Richard, also chair of the GSM Association lobby group, said: "[It] would go against the EU's interests and would cause major problems for most of the EU operators.



Belmarsh Prison inmates have more ethics than the entire Western empire

Joseph Farrell Wikileaks ambassador
In some refreshingly good news about Julian Assange, WikiLeaks is reporting that its founder has finally been moved out of solitary confinement to a different wing in Belmarsh Prison where he can have normal social interactions with 40 other inmates.

This fantastic news lifts a huge weight from the chests of those of us who've been protesting Assange's cruel and unusual treatment at the hands of an international alliance of governments bent on making a draconian public example of a journalist whose publications exposed US war crimes. Solitary confinement is a form of torture, and a UN Special Rapporteur has confirmed that Assange shows clear symptoms that he is a victim of psychological torture caused by his persecution from coordinated efforts by Washington, London, Stockholm, Canberra and Quito.

So what caused this shift in Assange's treatment? Did the powerful empire-like alliance loosely centralized around the United States suddenly come to its senses and realize that torturing journalists for telling the truth is the sort of tyrannical abuse that it accuses other governments of perpetrating? Did officials in the British government bow to public pressure from the pro-Assange demonstrations which have been taking place in London month after month and have some faint flickerings of conscience? Did Belmarsh Prison authorities come to their senses after more than a hundred doctors warned that their cruelty was killing the award-winning publisher?

Why no. As it turns out, Assange was in fact rescued from the cruelty of this globe-sprawling empire by the concerted protests of high-security prison inmates.

Comment: Assange's solitary confinement ends following pressure from lawyers and fellow prisoners


Angelina Jolie to team with BBC to fight fake news. Just don't mention the BBC's propaganda history to the kids

Angelina Jolie
© Mega
Angelina Jolie
The BBC has hired Angelina Jolie to teach kids how to spot fake news and make up their own minds on pressing issues. But given its own history of bias, is the BBC the right authority to lecture children on the real and the fake?

The venerable broadcaster will air a new series every Sunday at 11:30am - right after the morning cartoons - on BBC World News, and on YouTube and the BBC iPlayer in the UK. The series will use the reporting of the BBC World Service to illustrate how reporters sift fact from fiction, and help kids aged 13 and up to "distinguish the real from the false online," in the words of BBC World Service Group Director Jamie Angus.

"I hope it will help children find the information and tools they need to make a difference on the issues that matter to them, drawing on the BBC World Service's network of thousands of journalists and multiple language services around the world," Jolie said in a statement this week.

Comment: Well, the BBC already had one run at it. Maybe they figure a little star-power will help:

Propaganda outlet the BBC to brainwash students in how to identify what they consider Fake News

More from the BBC's Hall of Shame: