On October 3, the National Retail Federation projected that "sales in the months of November and December" will "marginally increase 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion, over 2012’s actual 3.5 percent holiday season sales growth." But on October 16, it warned that "the average holiday shopper will spend $737.95 on gifts, décor, greeting cards and more, two percent less than the $752.24 they actually spent last year."
Anne D'Innocenzio at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, in a report on the upcoming Christmas shopping season, chose to report the NRF's overall November-December increase, and ignored the obviously more relevant and more recent individual spending expectations. She also held off mentioning the elephant in the room — sharply reduced spending by Obamacare "sticker shock" victims and those who anticipate more of the same during 2014 — until the 19th of her 21 paragraphs (bolds are mine):
It must be nice to be a political leader preferred by news agencies because you can count on them to pull unflattering photos. Such was the case with both Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reuters when they pulled a bizarre photo of French President Francois Hollade in which he appears to have a clueless smiling clown expression on his face. The UK Guardian describes the controversy:
Two international news agencies are at the centre of a row over self-censorship after withdrawing an unflattering photograph of the French president, François Hollande. Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reuters were subjected to criticism and widespread ridicule on the internet and social media sites after deciding to pull the picture.
Today, as the wire service AFP reported in a story carried at Yahoo.com, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in the question and answer exchange after his prepared testimony, told the House Financial Services Committee that "If we were to tighten (monetary) policy, the economy would tank."
That assessment of the economy's fragility qualifies as news, especially given the Obama administration's continued claim that the economy is "continuing to recover at a promising rate." Outlets besides AFP virtually ignored Bernanke's soundbite, which should be considered scary to anyone who realizes that Big Ben can't go on "stimulating" at his current rate forever.
An unbylined Agence France-Presse report Wednesday opens by telling readers that Japanese researchers "have succeeded in growing human kidney tissue from stem cells for the first time, in a potential first step towards helping millions who depend on dialysis." Another version of the report at another website identifies the reporter as Harumi Ozawa; an accompanying picture caption describes the achievement as a "potential breakthrough."
I perused Ozawa's dispatch to see what kind of stem cells were involved, and in the process came across a confirmation of what those of us who have been following these matters for several years have suspected for some time, namely that the supposed scientific justification for harvesting stem cells from human embryos -- supposedly because there is no other path towards combating many diseases and maladies -- no longer exists. The paragraph containing that confirmation, as well as an odd and likely nonscientific term Ozawa used in the previous paragraph, are in bold in the excerpt following the jump:
It's hard to find a benchmark against which to compare remarks delivered by Vice President Joe Biden, but here's one from a past administration. In June 2004, Bush 43 Vice President Dick Cheney was greeted on the Senate Floor at the annual Senate photo op by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy. Leahy had previously been flogging the left's phantasm over alleged "profiteering" by Halliburton, the company at which Cheney had served as Chairman and CEO from 1995-2000. At the end of a testy exchange, Cheney either said "(F-word) you" or "(F-word) yourself."
The Associated Press, Bloomberg and Reuters all eagerly told readers today that the seasonally adjusted annualized level of single-family home sales in September of 389,000 was the highest in 2-1/2 years and really, really good news for the housing market, the economy as a whole, or both. What they all "somehow" failed to mention was the fact that sales are still far below where they were during the 12-month recession in 2008 and 2009 (defining "recession" properly), when the market was screeching to a halt after overbuilding driven by subprime lending frauds by design Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The numbers reported by the Census Bureau since January of 2008, first expressed at seasonally adjusted annual rates, then as raw number of homes sold, follow the jump.
Gosh, those were the good old days. Or so Meghan Barr at the Associated Press apparently believes.
As what's left of the Occupy Wall Street mobs from last year staged a pathetic anniversary protest in New York on Monday, Barr, in one of the most embarrassing reports I've seen emanate from the self-described "essential global news network," described them as "celebrating" and "giddy." At the end, in a desperate attempt to show that the movement actually accomplished something, Barr cited vague and I believe completely unrelated statements from two banks about "working with their customers." For those with strong stomachs, the first five and final paragraphs of Barr's beclowning follow the jump.
First, the bad news from a media coverage standpoint. All three major wire services covering today's report from the Department of Labor on initial unemployment claims characterized the seasonally adjusted result of 374,000 as "unchanged" from last week, but failed to note the 98%-plus probability based on the last 75 weeks of history (only one exception during that time) that the number will be revised upward by 1,000 or more, changing today's "unchanged" number to an increase.
That's bit ironic, given that all three wires at least told readers that last week's 372,000 claims was revised up to 374,000. Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Associated Press had different takes on the meaning of today's results, as will be seen after the jump (bolds are mine):
Yet another episode being reported from the totalitarian nightmare that is North Korea is getting short shrift in most of the world's press, namely "criticism sessions" (i.e., rat out your neighbor, coworker, etc.) identifying North Koreans who allegedly weren't sufficiently grief-stricken over the December death of Kim Jong Il (pictured at right), weren't sufficiently demonstrative about it, or didn't attend enough mourning events, as well as the punishments for such transgressions which have reportedly followed.
The source is the Daily NK, a South Korea-based web site described by AFP as "an Internet website run by opponents of North Korea." The opening paragraphs from Wednesday's Daily NK report read as follows (bolds are mine throughout this post):
On Tuesday's "Late Show," the MSNBCer scolded Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for meeting with Libya's Moammar Gaddafi in August 2009 while completely ignoring the fact that President Obama met him at the G8 summit the month before (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Earlier this evening, Vice President Joe Biden, through a spokesperson, backed away from his Sunday comment at a Chinese university about that nation's "one-child" policy, wherein the state allows couples, with relatively rare exceptions, to have only one child. This of course has led to a horrible abortion death toll. A Laura Ingraham email I received this evening, corroborated by a China's population minister cited by CNN in 2008, carries an estimate of 400 million deaths (CNN said it "prevented 400 million children from being born"). It has also led to what is probably an historically unprecedented male-female gender imbalance in the neighborhood of 43-60 million.
VIDEO: April 15 was tax day in the United States, and Tea Party radicals used it to stage demonstrations across the country, including near the site of the original Boston Tea Party revolt of the colonial era.
The photo was grabbed from an Agency France-Presse video with an identical description. The pic and caption follow the jump:
In a business that is supposed to treat record achievements, dubious or otherwise, as news, it's more than a little curious to note that the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger, along with Reuters and AFP, all "somehow" forgot to tell readers that March's reported federal outlays, as seen in the Monthly Treasury Statement released today, came in at an all-time record of $339.047 billion, and that this year's spending through six months of $1.849 trillion -- also an all-time record -- is 3.5% higher than last year's comparable figure of $1.786 trillion ($1.671 trillion plus a non-cash credit of $115 billion explained here last year).
This year's six-month spending total annualizes out to $3.7 trillion, an amount that is almost $1 trillion, or 36%, higher than fiscal 2007. Though spending is the self-evident real problem, frontline reporters and their bosses would apparently prefer that news consumers not see how ugly those numbers really are.
A news article written by a reporter at AFP and reproduced at such news sites as Google, Yahoo, NPR, the Dallas Morning News, and others, might qualify as an example of what happens when one allows opinion to seep into reporting. Despite a mission statement involving claims that AFP coverage is balanced, accurate, and includes the other side of the story, this piece makes no secret of where the reporter’s bias lies.
The article features such gems as:
A strong yet hyperbolic opening statement – “President Barack Obama, once a fresh faced prophet of hope…”
Comedy – “Obama will … brandish a record as a genuine reformer…”
Labeling of the President’s opposition – “…a Republican Party dragged right of the crucial political center ground by the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement” – with no labeling of his own liberal policies or base.
Most interesting was the inclusion of this possible 2012 campaign slogan: “Though many of America's problems predated his presidency…”
Here is a short list of American problems since Obama took office:
On Tuesday's World News, ABC's David Wright highlighted actress Jane Russell's "botched back-alley abortion in high school," which led her to push "hard to expand adoption," but he failed to mention that she described herself as "vigorously pro-life," and that she was a conservative activist.
Wright's report aired at the end of the evening news program. The correspondent spent most of the segment on Russell's movie career, specifically her roles in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and "The Outlaw." Near the end, however, Wright noted that the actress was "also politically active," and continued with the abortion issue: "She wrote in her memoirs that a botched back-alley abortion in high school left her unable to have children. Throughout her life, she fought hard to expand adoption."
Michael Thurston of Agencee France-Presse took a similar path in his Tuesday report on the movie star, but more explicitly noted that Russell was not only pro-life, but also a conservative:
Somebody should send a message to the absolutely clueless AFP (Agence France-Presse) news agency: the Coffee Party today is about as signficant a political force as the Prohibition Party. However, in this AFP story by Edouard Guihaire the Coffee Party, which pretty much died almost at birth, is portrayed as a major political force on a par with the Tea Party. Perhaps Guihaire is new to America and has not woken up to the sad reality of the moribund Coffee Party which even our own liberal mainstream media has given up covering after an initial flurry of hype at the beginning of the year. So here is AFP laughably trying to convince its readers about the incredible political significance of the Whig... I mean Coffee...Party:
WOODBRIDGE, Virginia — A progressive infusion in US politics, the Coffee Party is brewing a strong counter-movement to the ultra-conservative Tea Party, just a week ahead of the US legislative elections.
Born in January in reaction to the bashing President Barack Obama's proposed health care reform was getting in Congress and the media, the Coffee Party first took shape on Facebook.
"It started on my personal Facebook page," said party founder Annabel Park, a small, soft spoken woman with a strong character.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's first full day as the only person in the whole wide world with any kind of influence over what happens in the economy didn't go too badly.
That's the impression one might get from consuming two Friday Associated dispatches and a related AP Video.
Bernanke apparently took full charge of anything and everything having to do with the economy on Thursday evening. As noted early Friday morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), two Thursday afternoon dispatches from the wire service in advance of the government's Friday morning GDP report widely predicted to contain news of a significant downward revision to second-quarter economic growth placed surreal importance on the content of a speech he was to give Friday morning shortly after that report's release. The names of President Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Tim Geithner, and Larry Summers were totally absent from both reports.
Friday, in the wake of the downward revision of second-quarter GDP from an annualized 2.4% to 1.6%, AP's primary economic report about Bernanke's apparent first day as Emperor-in-Chief again failed to name the five folks just mentioned, as did a one-minute video from Mark Hamrick found here (after a 30-second commercial).
Here is some of what Christopher Rugaber, with assists from Jeannine Aversa and Alan Zibel, wrote about Ben's big day:
The Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles, apparently opening soon, will serve roughly 4,200 students in grades K-12. Its cost is coming in at $578 million, or almost $140,000 per student ($2.75 million per 20-student classroom).
This is the LA Unified District's most flagrant example of its Taj Mahal obsession, and it is far from the only one. Also, as the Associated Press's Christina Hoag reported early Sunday evening, LA is not the only place where the Taj Mahal complex is in vogue:
The K-12 complex to house 4,200 students has raised eyebrows across the country as the creme de la creme of "Taj Mahal" schools, $100 million-plus campuses boasting both architectural panache and deluxe amenities.
"There's no more of the old, windowless cinderblock schools of the '70s where kids felt, 'Oh, back to jail,'" said Joe Agron, editor-in-chief of American School & University, a school construction journal. "Districts want a showpiece for the community, a really impressive environment for learning."
Wednesday evening, Brent Baker at NewsBusters noted that two of the Big Three television networks failed to tag Dan Rostenkowsi, the former long-time congressman from Chicago who was ousted from his seat in 1994 over corruption charges and ended doing prison time, as a Democrat. Rostenkowski (RIP), who was 82, died yesterday.
At the five major wire services whose reports I reviewed -- The Associated Press, Reuters, UPI, AFP, and the business-oriented Bloomberg News -- Rosty's Democratic affiliation made at least one appearance. But the prominence and directness of those appearances varied widely.
Not surprisingly, the Associated Press and writer Don Babwin did the worst job of identifying Rosty's party, waiting until the eleventh paragraph to directly tag him (the eighth paragraph contains a generic reference to the "Chicago Democratic machine"), and poured it on the thickest when referring to the supposedly beloved bygone days of bipartisanship:
Late last year, a story carried by the wire service AFP reported on an announcement by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez that his government would launch "a new chain of government-run, cut-rate retail stores that will sell everything from food to cars to clothing." Chavez reportedly said that these "discount socialist stores" would show people "what a real market is all about, not those speculative, money-grubbing markets, but a market for the people."
This initiative was on top of Chavez's creation of Mercal (link is to the Venezuelan home page, complete with "The Bolivarian Government of Venezuela" logo), a state-run network of grocery stores, seven years ago.
How is this great leap forward into state control working out? A June 18 Reuters dispatch carried at CNBC reports that the government can't even keep its food fresh. But that's okay. The wire service takes a while to get there, and even then a bit of interpretation is necessary, but eventually we learn that the Chavez "solution" to that thorny problem is to seize replacement goods from private merchants:
Hugo Chavez Spearheads Raids as Food Prices Skyrocket
Mountains of rotting food found at a government warehouse, soaring prices and soldiers raiding wholesalers accused of hoarding: Food supply is the latest battle in President Hugo Chavez's socialist revolution.
Yesterday, in the midst of the commencement address he delivered at Hampton University, President Obama made a startling "admission" (readers will see why "admission" is in quotes shortly):
And meanwhile, you're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- (laughter) -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it's putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.
There are more troubling overtones inherent in the excerpt that many observers have already noted. I'll stay away from them for the purposes of this post.
Those matters aside, there are still a few pesky items that arise from the bolded portion of the excerpt.
In a post late Thursday afternoon (at NewBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that the half of the teases (6 of 12) for the Associated Press's short videos in business stories at its web site were about Toyota, specifically its recent product quality issues and falling sales.
In that post, I noted a conflict of interest in the relationship between the U.S. government and Toyota, and wondered when someone in the press would bring the matter up:
To the extent the government is leaning hard on the company, somebody in the press should be questioning whether the motivations are purely related to safety or whether they also involve generating as much negative publicity as possible about the principal foreign-based competitor of government-controlled General Motors and Chrysler.
I didn't realize at the time that one wire service, AFP, actually had actually brought up the matter, complete with quite a provocative headline, Thursday morning.
Watching the media's inability to find relevant investigative news during the Obama era is like watching a bald-headed fellow named Fudd hunting for ‘wabbit'.
Such is the case of the main stream media's complete and utter ignorance involving the administration recently steering a $25 million no-bid contract to a Democratic campaign contributor.
While Fox News reporter James Rosen did an in-depth investigative report (and follow up) on the deal with Checchi & Company - despite working for what the administration considers a non-news network - the entire media establishment had ignored a significant reneging of campaign promises, right up until that deal was canceled.
Doing his best impersonation of a crystal ball, NewsBuster Tom Blumer correctly foretold the future when he questioned the media response to the story:
"Will the rest of the establishment press risk the tattered remnants of its credibility, follow the White House's suggestion, and ignore the story because it's coming from Fox?"
Four recent stories out of Venezuela each give readers brief glimpses at how Hugo Chavez's brand of authoritarian socialism is critically wounding what could be a resource-rich, financially prosperous country:
January 9, AP -- "Venezuela faces risk of devastating power collapse."
Collectively, however, they depict a country in the early stages of a headlong free-fall into Cuban-style financial ruin. No U.S. establishment media enterprise appears interested in making the accelerating decays in financial well-being and personal freedom in that country understandable to the average person.
AP's headline at the first item noted seems designed to avoid attention. This isn't a mere "weakening" of the currency; instead, it's a bizarre bi-level devaluation of up to 50%:
Almost a year ago, the media had a field day with the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former President George W. Bush.
On Tuesday, Muntazer al-Zaidi was in Paris promoting his campaign for what he calls "victims of the US occupation in Iraq," and a fellow journalist threw a shoe at him.
Given the media's fascination with Zaidi's highly-publicized demonstration last year, it will be very interesting to see how the press will respond when the shoe is literally on the other foot (video embedded below the fold with additional commentary, h/t Story Balloon):
At this point, there should be little doubt that there is a concerted attempt underway to use the war in Afghanistan as a justification for punitively taxing high earners.
Last weekend (noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the New York Times discovered that wars cost money. It cited Wisconsin Democratic Congressman David Obey's concern that funding the Afghanistan effort at the level requested months ago by General Stanley A. McChrystal would "devour virtually any other priorities that the president or anyone in Congress had."
Thursday, as reported by AFP (noted last night at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), House Democratic heavy-hitters Barney Frank, John Murtha, and (no surprise) Obey announced the "Share The Sacrifice Act of 2010," an income-tax surcharge that overwhelmingly targets high-income earners.
Now Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin has weighed in. Bloomberg dutifully carried his water, as seen in this graphic containing the first four paragraphs of the report:
You've got to hand it to the propagandists at the AFP. When heavy-hitting members of the party they favor announce an idea whose main purpose is, as the New York Times suddenly "discovered" last weekend, to remind people that wars cost money and distract from supposedly more important priorities, the wire service leaps into action.
Even AFP acknowledges that the tax proposal by several top-tier Democrats has no chance of becoming law. But again, that's not the point. Their proposal's purpose is to remind people that spending money on wars supposedly takes money out of the mouths of children and other living things, even those in non-existent congressional districts, and to attempt to make the climate for increasing taxes in the near future more favorable.
A British study has found a new area of sea off the coast of Antarctica, supposedly caused by global warming, that is soaking up carbon dioxide climate alarmists like Al Gore and his media minions believe is responsible for -- wait for it! -- global warming.
You really can't make this stuff up!
Professor Lloyd Peck, a near-shore marine biologist from the British Antarctic Survey, marvelously said about the find, "It shows nature's ability to thrive in the face of adversity."
With obviously little fanfare, this supports the view of much-maligned climate realists who maintain that fluctuations in global temperatures are largely cyclical, and that nature typically balances such changes over the course of time.