First the Bad News.  We are now just finding out that the sugar industry paid medical doctors back in 1967 to publish deceptive research intended to shift blame for heart disease on fat rather than on its own sugar….Adblock Plus started out as a way to avoid intrusive ads online and is now used on 100 million devices. But with deceptive stealth it now rakes in tons of money doing the opposite: allowing ads in….American Airlines, Southwest, United, and Alaska Airlines were fined by the FAA for deliberately deceiving passengers about their rights after they got bumped from flights….Apple has been dodging taxes not only from the U.S. but from the European Union (they are technically “located” in Ireland) which is demanding $14.5 billion in back taxes. A law professor comments that U.S. companies are the grandmasters of tax avoidance….Speaking of tax cheats, we are now hearing the Republican ritual of demanding an end to the estate tax (which Republicans call the “death tax”).  “No family will have to pay the death tax. We will repeal it,” said Trump in Detroit. This tax kicks in only for estates of more than $10.9 million. It benefits no one but the super rich one-percenters like Trump who want more of the pie for themselves….Who is king of tax avoidance?  Here is the NYT front page headline for Sept. 18: “Trump Built His Empire As King of the Tax Break”….  Cancer has now replaced heart disease as the number one killer in California….Your worst nightmare of mergers: Bayer is taking over Monsanto….Exxon Mobile quietly researched global warming but they did not like the results which found it was real.  They suppressed the science and instead funded global warming deniers….And finally the brazen sham at Wells Fargo.  Thousands of employees were pressured to open millions of illegal phony bank accounts without customer knowledge or permission.  When the scam was revealed, CEO John Stumpf “took responsibility” by firing the low-level employees and rewarding those who managed the program (the executive who ran the program departed with a $124.6 million bonus).  And now JPMorgan Chase is being investigated for bribery. Reports are that the bank made special efforts to hire the children of China’s ruling elites.  Are there any honest banks out there?

Football and Conformity.  Remember the familiar expression, “When everyone thinks alike, no one thinks at all.”  It is amazing how many people were upset when a professional athlete chose to protest  by not saluting the flag.  Too many people conflate patriotism with flag waving rituals (or militarism).  Here is what a stockbroker had to say.  And if you haven’t seen the movie Snoden, go have a look and think about whether he should be vilified as a criminal or celebrated as a hero.

Fox News Exposed.  It is not just the sexual harassment at Fox which is now revealed but also lengths to which they go to distort the news.  Now we learn that their broadcasters were ordered to repeat four times an hour “news” about Benghazi and Clinton’s email.  Roger Ailes discovered long ago that if you repeat lies over and over that eventually people will believe them (Trump learned from Ailes and uses the same tactic).  But now there is blowback even by conservative Republicans.  Fox is partly responsible for promoting Trump uncritically and the result may be the destruction of the Republican Party.

False Equivalence.  There are some who argue that the earth is flat, the holocaust never happened, and climate change is a hoax.  Should their views be covered and promoted equally by the media so they can claim that they cover both sides of an issue?  Those who seek to minimize the enormous number of lies told by Trump argue that Clinton is just the same (equivalent) because of her emails.   The press buys into this and the result is that both candidates are seen by many as equally flawed.   In the Clinton vs. Donald race (which the media call Hillary vs. Trump) the media carry much responsibility for the sorry state of affairs in this election.

Letter to the Editor of the Month

To the Editor:

After reading Roger Cohen’s column about Donald Trump’s appeal in coal country, my reaction was: What makes them think they’re special? Since 2014, almost 200,000 Americans have lost their oil industry jobs. Dell, Cisco, IBM and other tech giants have each laid off thousands; one Wall Street analyst says more than 350,000 tech industry jobs could be lost this year alone. Even Walmart announced 16,000 job cuts.

I cannot think of any job that hasn’t changed dramatically or been eliminated in the last 20 years, including my own. Somehow a certain portion of underemployed Americans blame President Obama and think Donald Trump can fix their lives. Perhaps if close to 40 percent of newspaper journalists hadn’t also lost their jobs in the last decade, we might have a more realistic, better informed public.


Austin, Tex.


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