ABC aired footage from Kentucky, claiming it was Syria & Other Media Malfeasance

ABC news, eager to blame Trump for anything and everything, aired a story, complete with footage, of how Trump pulling out of Syria resulted in a terrifying battle .  Only… ABC has no correspondents on the ground there.  And the footage they aired turns out not to be from Syria at all.  It was two year old footage of an annual gun show event in Kentucky.  ABC regrets the error.

Well. This is certainly awkward for ABC news. Ponder just how many other times they likely have pulled a similar stunt, resulting in careless complacency this sloppy.
Consider how on Earth this is just an error. Somebody had to pull this footage from the gun range website, crop and edit it to remove the hundreds of spectators and their phones, and then choose to claim it’s footage from a battle in Syria, with details about this fictional battle. But it was an ‘error.’

ABC aired the footage on more than one news program, every time claiming it showed Turkey bombing a border-town.  They credited the video as ‘footage obtained by ABC News.’

In fact, it appears it was footage they lazily lifted from a tweet posted by a Turkish politician.  Technically, one could say it’s true that they ‘obtained it.’  But let’s remember that, like ‘anonymous sources’, footage ‘obtained by’ the media could mean anything at all, and would it have been given the same weight if they had been more honest and said, “Footage obtained from the twitter account of a Turkish politician?”

Furthermore, that politician is apparently known as a conspiracy theorist, internet troll, and disinformation on his social media.  ABC won’t explain how or why they obtained it from his account nor why they didn’t admit that to begin with.  They are still saying it ‘appeared to be’ from Syria, although it obviously did not, since they were caught flatfooted within minutes.

In releated news, Project Veritas is releasing a pretty telling expose of CNN

Part 1  Zucker tells CNN to focus on impeachment to the cost of other news.  Another CNN employee admits Zucker has a personal vendetta against Trump, and more.

Part 2, stuff like CNN’s Evan Perez privately admits that Biden and his son are doing the same stuff they are accusing Trump of, and it’s a problem for all politicians, not just Trump.

A CNN insider reveals that CNN picks the winners and losers before the debates (I’m not voting for either of them but what the media is doing to Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard is infuriating.  They are not news, but propaganda organizations).

The guy who asked what was likely a planted question at Warren’s town hall was a maxed out donor to Warren’s campaign- which CNN failed to disclose.

The Wapo has since corrected it, but they recently published a story saying not to trust any Dem candidate who isn’t in favor of Nuclear power, and claiming strongly that only Biden fit this criteria.  In fact, Yang and Booker both do.  Seriously.  Out of ten candidates, how much time did they spend doing any research at all to make such a pro-Biden error?

Does anybody really think this was the only photo they could find of the ten Democrats at the debate?  Yang’s face is literally hidden by the Irish guy’s arm.

Tusi Gabbard gets the media black-out treatment as well.

The media uproar over a meme based on Kingsman movie.

Fox Polling isn’t very accurate


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Good Literature as Therapy, part 2

A fascinating guardian article from 3 years ago (see below for link) says books are good therapy, especially books read and discussed together with others in book clubs and lit circles.  Sharing books with others in local book clubs, according to the The Reader’s Organisation, significantly “improves self-confidence and self-esteem, builds social networks, widens horizons and gives people a sense of belonging, preserving the mental and physical health of those who are well and building mental resilience.”

I think even online reading groups are terrific for this, internet forums, FB groups, your local ladies’ Bible study group online…. anything that has you engaging in thoughts not entirely your own, which also includes just reading good books written by others.

Salley Vickers points out that while actual groups you meet with face to face help, you can still gain immense mental health benefits from reading good books in isolation:

“Chronic loneliness and isolation are now prevailing social problems, but it is not necessary to be part of a group reading project for a book to have a role in ameliorating this social malaise. ”

Reading fiction at home by yourself also provides friendships and relationships that many don’t have in real life, and this, too, is a healthy remedy for social isolation.

Books have been our closest and dearest friends for many of us. Several years ago as a new friend and I became closer and shared our back stories, which included severe abuse for both of us, she asked me if I had been a voracious reading in childhood.  Of course, I had been, as had she.  She said she had once come across research showing that one of the common factors in children who survived traumatic childhood in severely, harshly, dysfunctional families is that they read a lot. The idea seemed to be that all that reading gave them healthy escapes into worlds where abuse was not the norm, where they had friends and even alternate families where healthy relationships were modeled and affirming friendships, albeit with fictional characters, were formed.  It was better than nothing, and definitely better than the real world for abused children.

When I think about this and also consider how little people read anymore, it makes me sad. Literature ought to be the birthright of every child on earth, but increasingly, we have tossed it aside for games on electronic devices and 140 character mediums and pictures on social media, posting for likes, nothing deeper than a hairs’ breadth.  In Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, the U.S. has established a Handicapper General, whose job it is to ensure egalitarianism for all.  Those of superior intellect are required to wear devices that interrupt and distract their thought processes with discordant noises, jangling bells, sirens, and occasional canon blasts.  Had he but waited, he could have had us all handicapping ourselves through the distractions of social media and computer games.

Meanwhile, our libraries are getting rid of the best that literature has to offer humanity and replacing them with computer banks and message fiction which has a shelf-life of months rather than centuries.  Believing in the power of timeless literature is considered snobbish, elitist, but it’s actually the opposite.

TRO’s organizer, Jane Davis, explains:

“When I first read Jonathan Rose’s book, I was moved to discover that there was a tradition of personal engagement with books among the working class. The Northampton cowman and the Manchester factory girl were like people in my own family history. And they had their minds broken open to the beauty and grandeur of the universe – by poetry! And I was profoundly moved by what we have lost – the overwhelming sense, in the book, of a grander world which we can get to – a world of powerful ideas, tremendous vocabulary, social visions, ideals, personal knowledge – through books. And I realised that what we had unwittingly and organically invented in TRO was part of this tradition, even though we didn’t know it. It’s a powerful thing that demands attention. We need genuine education that is personal, creative, demanding and filled, as literature is, with useful equipment for the inner life. I think Rose’s book helped me understand that humans have a natural desire for big learning. And that we’re not, as a society, meeting that need.”
“You don’t need to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”  Ray Bradbury

We’re failing our children and ourselves. Make a difference. Read more good books.  Find others to read with or discuss books with.  Read to the children in your life. Bring in some children and read to them.

You owe it to yourself.


Part I

Guardian article

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Pills and Therapy

Things people sometimes say about mental health issues relate to trauma:

You’re just not trying enough.
Your faith isn’t strong enough.
It’s for attention.
You don’t really want to be well.
“It’s just in your head….” This is partially true, because that’s where the brain is, and trauma injuries like PTSD start in the brain (and show up on scans).
And my favourite (by which I mean it makes me want to spit and stomp my feet)- “Well, so-and-so has been through the same kind of stuff and turned out just fine, so that just goes to show that anybody can just overcome if they are strong enough/if they want to/if they try hard enough…”

But it turns out, it’s equally inadequate to push pills and tell people they have a chemical imbalance and Big Pharma will fix that for you.

This article is about therapy vs drugs, specifically psychotherapy. I’m a fan of EMDR therapy, myself. But it is not the first time I’ve read that the hard science behind the theory of a chemical imbalance causing depression is just not very strong at all.
This is what I want to point out first, though:

“When Julia Morath and other German psychologists studied refugees with PTSD, the number of breaks in the refugees’ DNA was equivalent to that of people who’d been exposed to an atomic bomb blast. That’s how badly trauma affects every cell in the body.”

Therapy resolved that, producing healing to the DNA, and drugs did not. And breaks in DNA strands are not the result of weak faith or just not trying hard enough.

And while the article acknowledges that there are sometimes other causes for mental health issues, the experience of childhood trauma is almost like dropping the victim in a chute launching them directly to a lifetime of mental health issues:
“Psychological injuries have a surprising impact on physical health as well. Just consider what it’s like growing up with a parent who might lash out at you at any time. Children in this situation are frequently in fight-flight-or-freeze mode. Cortisol and adrenaline are pumping into their little blood vessels multiple times a week, sometimes for hours at a time. Given how often their amygdala is activated, they get easily launched into an alarm state, and take much longer to calm down. The sympathetic nervous system is firing over and over and over. Fear, anger, shame, guilt, and sadness flood through their body repeatedly. As a result, the areas of the brain responsible for planning and emotional control don’t develop fully. The insulation on brain cells, the myelin, doesn’t form correctly. Even the DNA is altered: the more frequent and intense the trauma that people experience, the more methyl groups are attached to their DNA, which can turn off certain genes. Repeated trauma shapes the person’s biology at a deep level.”

Well. I don’t have to imagine that at all. It’s deeply familiar. I don’t read that and feel a sense of surprise or ‘ah, I have learned something.’ My strongest feeling in response is recognition. This is where I’ve lived my entire life. It’s immensely better since EMDR therapy, but I also feel like somebody who has an autoimmune disease- treatments alleviated the worst and made it possible to function again, but I expect to spend the rest of my life managing symptoms and avoiding things that make it worse.

“Someone fortunate enough to have grown up in an emotionally healthy home had an 18 percent chance of developing depression by middle age. But having just one adverse childhood experience (ACE) boosted the risk by 50 percent. Two ACEs boosted the risk by 84 percent. And people who had five or more ACEs had a 340 percent greater risk of developing depression than someone who’d grown up in an emotionally healthy environment.”

But what about some of the other mental health issues? Even schizophrenia and bipolar disease are more often linked to childhood trauma than previously understood. And rather than it being addressed well by medication, it’s more that sometimes medication helps with treating symptoms, but it still works better in combination with therapy.

For those with depression and related anxiety issues, placebos work just about as well as the prescription pills, and exercise actually helps *more*. But exercise doesn’t have a big pharmaceutical company pushing it, insurance doesn’t cover it.

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The Climate Fraud

  1.  Smoking Gun of Climate Fraud
  2. :  When “I objected to Albright’s firing and the exaggeration of the snowpack loss, I was told that although I might be scientifically correct, I would be helping “climate deniers” if I gave the correct information.  I needed to stand with those pushing excessive numbers, to get people to do the “right thing.”  Even for the wrong reason.  According to some of my colleagues, the ends justify unethical and untruthful means.  I just couldn’t go there.”

This is not about climate, and it really never was.  This is about control, and about convincing citizens to be afraid enough to cede their government and economic systems to outside entities.  The more you look, the more you see the ‘solutions’ to climate concerns have very little to do with climate at all, and even less to do with reducing pollution and increasing access to clean air and water.


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Reading About Asia

Asia is a huge place with varied peoples and cultures, and you can’t cover it in a single year.
Maybe not a single lifetime. Historic, scientific and artistic achievements in Asia are just as remarkable as those in the west. I understand why those in the west focus on the west- it is our story, after all, and I would expect the east to prioritize the east just the same. However, I do get a little frustrated when, from time to time, I will see a criticism of some organization, booklist, institution, program, whatever, for ‘not having enough diversity,’ and when you pull the thin top layer back, they don’t mean ‘diversity’ at all, they mean one sliver of one culture.

Below I share a couple of resources for the study of two different cultures in Asia, from different time periods and sources as well- China at the turn of the 20th century, and the Hmong refugees who came to the U.S. between the 70s and 80s.

China is roughly the size of the continental USA, but unlike America about 60% of China’s territory is land traditionally inhabited by non-Chinese peoples—ethnic groups that today are officially known as “national minorities.” These include a number of groups who are Muslim, most of whom live in the northwestern provinces of Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai and Xinjiang. Altogether, China has an estimated 25 million Muslims, divided among a number of different ethnic groups, the most numerous of which are the Uyghur, Hui, Kazak, and Kirghiz. The latter groups live in a land of extremes. The northwest is home to vast deserts—extensions of the Gobi—and to some of the world’s highest mountain ranges on whose slopes nomads continue to graze their herds of sheep and horses. It is a place of quite magnificent scenery; some of it appears as a backdrop in the recently acclaimed film, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” directed by Ang Li. But the beauty of this region belies the extreme difficulty of travel and living conditions which still pertain even in the 21st century. Although the topography of the northwest is challenging, a string of oases allowed the development of the so-called Silk Road along which goods moved between Asia and Europe in the days of the Roman Empire. Long distance trade continued over the centuries, as Chinese silks reached Western markets and European glass and gold arrived in Asia. Because the Chinese stages of the Silk Road pass through such arid land, the route is also an archaeological treasure house where hundreds of artifacts have survived to chart the history of one of the world’s greatest trade arteries. 

Today the single largest administrative unit in the arid
northwest is Xinjiang, on China’s border with Kazakstan. Officially called the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region, it covers one-sixth of China, twice the size of Texas. Its name reflects the numeric and historic importance of the Uyghurs, a Turkish Muslim people whose name was added to the region’s official title after 1949…

From Muslims, Missionaries and Warlords by Linda Benson This is an excerpt. Her full book is available here.

It was into the above area that three British women, protestant missionaries who had already worked in China for 20 years, decided to travel and evangelize in 1923.   Evangeline French; her younger sister Francesca, and Alice Mildred Cable worked in this area of China for about thirteen years before the Chinese kicked nearly all foreign workers out.  They returned to England where they continued to promote missions, to speak on their lives and work in China, and to raise and care for the deaf Chinese daughter they had adopted. They also published many excellent books.  The Gobi Desert is one of them.  Here’s the prologue:

“After living for more than twenty years in the province of Shansi in North China, I took the old trade-route and, with my companions Eva and Francesca French, trekked north-west past the Barrier of the Great Wall and into the country which lies beyond. For many years we travelled over the Desert of Gobi and among its oases as itinerant missionaries, and we came to know the country and its people intimately.
We found the desert to be unlike anything that we had pictured. It had its terrors, but it also had its compensating pleasures; it subjected us to many and prolonged hardships, but it also showed us some unique treasures. The oasis dwellers were poor but responsive; the caravan men were rugged but full of native wit; the outstanding personalities of the oases were men of character and distinction; the towns W’ere highly individualistic and each small water-stage had some unique feature. Even the monotonous outlines of the desert, when better known, wore a subtly changing aspect, and landscapes which were similar in broad outline became highly distinctive as their detail was scrutinised. Even the stony flooring of the Gobi varied so much from stage to stage that pebbles picked up on the wide expanse could be located to the actual spot where they were collected.
Once the spirit of the desert had caught us it lured us on and we became learners in its severe school. The solitudes provoked reflection, the wide space gave us a right sense of proportion and the silences forbade triviality. The following record of what we saw and found in the Desert of Gobi may help others to appreciate its unique charm. These experiences were shared by three people, but for obvious reasons the record is written in the first person singular.”

Here we have the story of a project to discover more and hear the voices of Hmong people who came to America after the Viet Nam war ended. It’s a fascinating story:

“In contrast to the numerous Vietnamese American students I have
known, no Hmong students attended any of my classes until 1989,
when I began teaching at the University of California, Santa Barbara
(UCSB). One day, soon after I had spent only half a lecture discuss-
ing why the Hmong have come to the United States, one of the two
Hmong students in my large introductory Asian American history
class told me that his siblings and cousins now all wished to attend
UCSB because I had done something that no other faculty member had
ever done: include the Hmong in my curriculum. Deeply touched by
how much such a token inclusion had meant to my student and his
family, I asked him and his friend if they would be willing to help me
interview older Hmong for a study of their experiences in Laos, in
the refugee camps of Thailand, and in the United States. They agreed
to do so.
In time, four students—Thek Moua, Lee Fang, Vu Pao Tcha, and
Maijue Xiong—became my collaborators. At first, I gave them a
set of questions to ask their interviewees, but I learned very quickly
that such a methodology would not work well. In Hmong culture,
younger people are expected to show great respect for their elders,
and since asking questions is construed as a sign of rudeness, my
students felt hesitant to interrupt the interviewees when they were
speaking. So we discarded the formal questions. Instead, I told my
students simply to ask their elders to tell about their lives from the
beginning to the present and discuss with the students whatever as-
pects of their lives they wished to focus on. With this change in
approach, the potential interviewees became narrator…”

This is just an excerpt of one of the stories:

Jou Yee Xiong’s Life Story
as told to Lee Fang, Toek Moua, and Vu Pao Tcha
my name is Jou Yee Xiong and I am sixty-six years old. More
than a hundred years before I was born, the Hmong people had mi-
grated from China into Laos and other places in Southeast Asia.
The Hmong had been fighting with the Chinese; those who were
not taken prisoner moved southward, while the captives remained
in China. Many Hmong were captured and tortured during their
After arriving in Laos, the Hmong lived in the jungles and some-
times fought against the French in Xieng Khouang Province, and
especially on the Plain of Jars. We had a leader named Chao Ba Chay
who led this resistance. The French asked the Hmong, “Why are you
always fighting?” The Hmong responded it was because they were
not allowed to rule themselves. So, the French gave them control of
the region where many Hmong lived.”
From the book Hmong Means Free by  Sucheng Chan, but I read much of it online somewhere.

Jou Yee Xiong became a Christian before he came to America. Most of his family were converts as well. About his conversion, he says, “”I stopped teaching my sons many of the Hmong ways because I felt my ancestors and I had suffered enough already. I thought that teaching my children the old ways would only place a burden on them.””

You can read more about the Hmong people and their lives before and after coming to America online here. If you wanted to use this for school purposes, it’s probably best suited for high school as is. For younger children, read through and rework individual stories or events into an oral story you can tell your children.
For instance, the chicken family story: In their home country the Hmong people were farmers who grew and raised their own food. In their native religion they sometimes sacrificed animals. when they fled their home and came to America, they had to learn many new ways of doing things, and it wasn’t aways easy. One family worked to continue their lives in America by raising a flock of fifty chickens in their basement in an apartment in the middle of the city. They had never had to live in crowded city apartments before. Laws were different in their old home and their new home, and they had trouble with the language. At first they didn’t understand why they were in trouble. They were feeding themselves, and helping others by selling them chickens for meat just as they used to. but once somebody explained it to them and helped them find local farmers outside of town who could take their chickens. Later they were able to move outside of city limits and grown their own chickens again.

The politics and details of social justice and immigration issues can be left for the upper years, IMO. In the younger years, just learn about how people live and the general challenges they face when crossing cultures.

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