Tag Archives: fake news

Homeless in Kitezh

This is too funny:

Every year, the US State Department releases a report on ‘Trafficking in Persons’. The 2017 report is now available. This is what it has to say about Russia:

The government generally did not undertake efforts to protect human trafficking victims and did not publicly report having identified or assisted victims. …  During the reporting period, a homeless shelter run by the Russian Orthodox Church in Kitezh began accepting trafficking victims and offered them food and housing, though not medical or psychological care; the government did not provide financial support for the shelter.

Kitezh, by the way, is a mythical sunken city, the Russian equivalent of Atlantis (and not, as in Return of the Tomb Raider, hidden somewhere in the mountains of Siberia).

HT to that well-known source of ‘fake news’, RT, for bringing the story to my attention. I’ve checked it out. It’s true. You can access the entire State Department report here. The part of the report dealing with Russia is here.

Update: Citing RT, The Moscow Times reports that, ‘It is likely that the U.S. State Department’s report was referring to a shelter run by the Russian Orthodox Church called “Kitezh” in the village of Milyukovo close to Moscow. Perhaps the State Department mistook the shelter’s name for its location, surmised RT.’

Nonsense news

I have mentioned before my belief in the Biblical maxim about the mote and the beam, and I have repeatedly emphasized on this blog, including my last post, the need for greater self-awareness and greater humility. An editorial in yesterday’s New York Times reveals this need very clearly.

The editorial used former FBI chief James Comey’s testimony to Congress to lambast Donald Trump for his lack of integrity, describing Trump as a ‘venal, self-interested politician who does not recognize, let alone uphold’ the ‘legal principles at the foundation of American democracy.’ The headline made the editorial’s point very clear. ‘Mr Comey and All the President’s Lies’, it said. Telling the truth, it seems, is something that the New York Times values highly.

Or maybe not.

What the editorial didn’t tell readers was that the transcript of Comey’s testimony contains the following exchange between Comey and Senator Jim Risch:

RISCH:  I remember, you — you talked with us shortly after February 14th, when the New York Times wrote an article that suggested that the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians. This is not factual. Do you recall that?

COMEY: Yes.

RISCH: OK. So — so, again, so the American people can understand this, that report by the New York Times was not true. Is that a fair statement?

COMEY: In — in the main, it was not true. And, again, all of you know this, maybe the American people don’t. The challenge — and I’m not picking on reporters about writing stories about classified information, is that people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on. … I mentioned to the chairman the nonsense around what influenced me to make the July 5th statement. Nonsense, but I can’t go explaining how it’s nonsense.

Later, Senator Tom Cotton returned to this subject.

COTTON: On February 14th, the New York Times published a story, the headline of which was, “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence.”

You were asked earlier if that was an inaccurate story, and you said, in the main. Would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong?

COMEY: Yes.

The New York Times has done a lot to stoke the accusations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, going so far on one occasion as to publish an op-ed by Louise Mensch. But while refusing to address the issue of collusion directly, Comey nevertheless poured cold water on it, as seen by the following exchanges with Senators Burr and Cotton:

BURR: Director, the term we hear most often is “collusion.” When people are describing possible links between Americans and Russian government entities related to the interference in our election, would you say that it’s normal for foreign governments to reach out to members of an incoming administration?

COMEY: Yes.

COTTON: Let’s turn our attention to the underlying activity at issue here: Russia’s hacking into those e-mails and releasing them, and the allegations of collusion. Do you believe Donald Trump colluded with Russia?

COMEY: That’s a question I don’t think I should answer in an open setting. As I said, that — we didn’t — that (ph) when I left, we did not have an investigation focused on President Trump.

So, let’s get this straight. James Comey in effect says that he doesn’t think Trump colluded with Russia (‘we didn’t’, as he says above), and denounces the New York Times for publishing ‘nonsense’, in a story about alleged collusion which was ‘almost entirely wrong’. Yet, the response of the New York Times is not to apologize, and indeed not even to mention the matter, but instead to publish an editorial saying that Donald Trump is a liar.

Perhaps he is, but another maxim comes to mind: one about stones and people in glass houses. Recent research indicates that ‘public trust in the media [is] at all time low’. I wonder why.

Fake sex news

Former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky went on trial last week in Britain for allegedly illegally downloading ‘thousands of indecent images of children over a 15-year period’. According to prosecutor William Carter, when confronted by police:

[Bukovsky] responded immediately by saying he did download images and that they would be on the computer in his study. … In an interview, Bukovsky told detectives he had become interested in child abuse images in the 1990s in the context of a debate on the control and censorship of the internet. … ‘Bukovsky said his initial curiosity turned into a hobby, rather like stamp collecting,’ Carter said. The dissident continued to download images between 1999 and 2014, and estimated that he had accumulated a collection of ‘1,500 movies’. His interest varied year by year. The last downloads took place days before his arrest.

Since then, Bukovsky has changed his tune, and he is now claiming that the images on his computer were planted by the Russian secret services in order to discredit him. Despite his earlier confession, and without any supporting evidence, Sunday’s New York Times ran a long story repeating this claim. According to the story:

This blurring of all boundaries between truth and falsehood in the service of operational needs has created a climate in Russia in which even the most serious and grotesque accusations, like those involving pedophilia, are simply a currency for settling scores. Mr. Bukovsky is far from the only one fending off such allegations.

Without a trace of irony, the New York Times alleged that the case illustrated a pattern of behaviour involving ‘the discrediting of foes and the shaping of public opinion through the spread of false information.’

Meanwhile, in a separate story, the Daily Mail reported that ‘Russian and Syrian secret services may be encouraging refugees in Germany to carry out orchestrated sex attacks, in a bid to oust Angela Merkel from office.’ According to the Mail:

The extraordinary assertion was made by an expert from the European Council on Foreign Relations, who said that foreign powers could collude to destabilise Germany ahead of next year’s election. Gustav Gressel, a Russian expert at the think-tank, said small numbers of refugees with links to the Kremlin and Syrian security services could be mobilised to sway public opinion against the Chancellor.

And in a final story, The Guardian published the following headline:

Russian reality TV show to ‘allow’ rape and murder in Siberian wilderness.

The Guardian reports that ‘A new Russian reality show where crimes are “allowed” will begin next year.’ The show in question, entitled ‘Game 2: Winter’ will ‘strand 30 contestants in the -40F (-40C) Siberian wilderness for nine months with the surviving winner receiving a $1.6m prize. “Each contestant gives consent that they could be maimed, even killed,” reads an advert.’

But as the report then admits, ‘the rules also state that police are free to arrest anyone who commits a crime on the show. “You must understand that the police will come and take you away,” the rules state. “We are on the territory of Russia, and obey the laws of the Russian Federation.”’ So, despite the headline, it turns out that rape and murder aren’t ‘allowed’ after all.