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TV Clip of Kids Lauding Nicola Sturgeon Removed After Comparisons to ‘North Korea Propaganda’

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Last week, Nicola Sturgeon announced that Scotland’s lockdown restrictions may be slightly relaxed as of next Thursday. Earlier in May, the Scottish First Minister rejected accusations of covering up a COVID-19 outbreak during a Nike conference in Edinburgh.

A video circulated by the independent Scottish broadcaster STV, showing children praising First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s anti-coronavirus efforts, has been removed after viewers compared the footage to coverage from North Korea.

“This particular video was not part of a story, had no context around it, and did not meet our high standards for impartiality, so we deleted it and are reviewing how this happened”, an STV spokesperson was cited by the Express as saying on Sunday.

The remarks come after STV posted a series of clips on its Twitter page on Saturday, in which young boys and girls were seen giving kudos to Sturgeon for her tackling the COVID-19 crisis.

“The children of Scotland would like to say thank you to Nicola, our first minister. We are so grateful. Thank you for always keeping us safe, working so hard, being strong for us”, the kids said, apparently reading from a script.

The clips immediately provoked an uproar among netizens, with many subscribing to one Twitter user’s view that “it really is akin to North Korea where uncritical praise of the Dear Leader [Kim Jong-un] looks like this”.

Ian Murray, the Labour MP for Edinburgh South, in turn recalled in a tweet that Scotland has the “5th worst death rate in Europe”, adding, “how about the broadcast media do their job and scrutinise”.

He was echoed by Frasier Nelson, editor of The Spectator magazine, who described STV’s footage as “an odd video for an independent news organisation”.

The uproar comes after Sturgeon last week outlined a roadmap for Scotland to start loosening its coronavirus restrictions, adding that the lockdown will be lifted in four phases and that the first restrictions may be slightly eased this Thursday.

“It may be that we can do some of the things planned for one phase, but not others. Some things may happen more quickly, some will take longer”, she pointed out.

The remarks were preceded by developments earlier this month, when Sturgeon rejected accusations of a “cover-up” over a coronavirus outbreak during a Nike conference in Edinburgh in February as “nonsense” and “highly politicised”.

“I was satisfied then and I am satisfied now that all appropriate steps were taken. At the time I probed whether we should be putting more information into the public domain. The advice, which is advice I accepted, is that it was not appropriate”, she emphasised.

The First Minister’s comments followed a BBC investigation which revealed that the Nike conference hosted by Hilton Carlton Hotel in the Scottish capital saw 25 people become infected with COVID-19, including eight in Scotland.

As of Saturday, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country had soared to 15,101, with 2,270 fatalities, according to the Scottish government website’s latest situation report.



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Court rejects OAN suit over MSNBC host Rachel Maddow’s claim about ‘Russian propaganda’ — RT USA News

A US judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit by One America News Network against MSNBC over Rachel Maddow’s claims that OAN was “literally” Russian propaganda, ruling that her segment was merely “an opinion” and “exaggeration.”

OAN sued the liberal talk show host and MSNBC for defamation, demanding over $10 million in damages,  back in September 2019. The lawsuit was based on the July 22 episode of The Rachel Maddow Show, where Maddow launched a scathing broadside against the conservative television network, labeling it “the most obsequiously pro-Trump right wing news outlet in America” and “really literally paid Russian propaganda.”

In the segment, Maddow cited a story by The Daily Beast’s Kevin Poulsen about OAN’s Kristian Rouz, who has previously contributed to Sputnik as a freelance author. Toeing the general US mainstream line on the Russian media, be it Sputnik or RT, Poulsen branded the Russian news agency “the Kremlin’s official propaganda outlet” and said Rouz was once on its “payroll.”




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Shortly after MSNBC’s star talent peddled the claim, OAN rejected the allegations as “utterly and completely false.” The outlet, which is owned by the Herring Networks, a small California-based family company, said that it “has never been paid or received a penny from Russia or the Russian government,” with its only funding coming from the Herring family.

In their bid to win the case, Maddow herself, MSNBC, Comcast Corporation and NBCUniversal Media did not address the accusation itself – namely, that her claim about OAN was false – but opted to invoke the First Amendment, insisting that the rant should be protected as free speech.

Siding with Maddow, the California district court defined Maddow’s show as a mix of “news and opinions,” concluding that the manner in which the progressive host blurted out the accusations “makes it more likely that a reasonable viewer would not conclude that the contested statement implies an assertion of objective fact.”

The statement constitutes opinion and rhetorical hyperbole protected under the First Amendment

The court said that while Maddow “truthfully” related the story by the Daily Beast, the statement about OAN being funded by the Kremlin was her “opinion” and “exaggeration” of the said article.
 
While the legal trick helped Maddow to get off the hook without ever trying to defend her initial statement, conservative commentators on social media wasted no time in pointing out that dodging a payout to OAN literally meant admitting that Maddow was not, in fact, news.

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Trump unloads on Beijing in fiery coronavirus rant, alleging ‘propaganda attack’ on US & EU — RT World News

US President Donald Trump has fired off another missive targeting China, arguing the country could have “easily” stopped the Covid-19 pandemic and is now waging an information war to escape responsibility.

Trump lashed out at Beijing in a flurry of messages on Twitter, apparently in response to the recent statement by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, who accused the US leader of  “trying to mislead the public, smear China’s efforts and shift the blame of US incompetence” in handling the Covid-19 outbreak on China.




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‘No time to waste’: Trump gives WHO 30 days to make ‘major improvements’ before US PERMANENTLY freezes funding



Zhao’s comment followed a White House letter sent to the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday, which threatened to permanently halt American funding if the agency didn’t make substantial, but unspecified, improvements. The spokesman called on the international community to continue supporting the agency.

Picking on China while shirking and bargaining away its own international obligations to WHO, the US has obviously miscalculated the situation and made a mistargeted move.

While Trump is a known brawler when it comes to his political rivals at home, direct personal attacks on foreign diplomats – saying Zhao spoke “stupidly” – are less common for him. The president has devoted more than one Twitter rant to China’s handling of the pandemic before, but Wednesday night’s condemnation was perhaps his most strongly-worded attack to date.

The White House letter to the WHO on Tuesday repeated a number of arguments the president has made in recent weeks, accusing the organization of a pro-China bias and of helping Beijing to cover up the severity of the coronavirus outbreak. The letter has been criticized for factual flaws, however, touting an apparently non-existent study it said was published in the UK’s Lancet journal to make its case. Washington initially froze funding to the WHO in April over the same allegations, vowing to carry out a review of its response to the Covid-19 crisis while calling on Beijing to step up its contributions to the agency.




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Though Chinese officials have admitted to “shortcomings and deficiencies” in taking on the pandemic, they have rejected Trump’s claims of a deliberate “cover-up” time and again, insisting the government shared information with the international community in a timely and transparent manner. Even before Washington – the WHO’s top funder – threatened to pull its donations for good, Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country would provide the organization an additional $2 billion in funding over the next two years, hoping the money would be spent in the developing world.

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War-loving ‘propaganda machine’ & ‘neoliberal economics’ driving humanity toward ‘omnicidal destruction’, Roger Waters tells RT

Mankind is headed for annihilation unless societies reject unjust economic systems and media war propaganda, Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters told RT, noting the Covid-19 crisis could serve as a much-needed wakeup call.

“Clearly what Covid-19 has told us all is that in order to face a common enemy, like a virulent virus, we’re going to need to cooperate, to act together … as a global community,” Waters told RT’s Rick Sanchez on Friday.

If we don’t cooperate, we’re all dead. The planet’s over. We’re heading for the cliff of omnicidal destruction of everything. So will this be a wakeup call? I hope so.

Calling “neoliberal economics” the “elephant in the room,” Waters said such cooperation is made near-impossible when public policy is driven by a “motive to maximize the bottom line of profit for the corporations that run our countries.” As many struggle to afford rent or put food on the table, some nations have responded to the pandemic by printing “billions, trillions of dollars” to dole out to the politically well-connected.




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Fortunately, the rockstar went on, the internet has shattered the “constraints of the mainstream media,” allowing a community of like-minded people interested in human rights and “the truth” to flourish and grow.

“The main focal point of our conversation often is: how do we combat the huge propaganda machine that has persuaded most of our brothers and sisters that this is normal – that it’s ok for there to be Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg… and everybody else is on the bread line,” he said.

The propaganda that we’re faced with everyday is: ‘Ah don’t worry about that, leave it to your leaders, we’ll figure it out – what’s important is that we have a war with the Chinese or the Russians or the Iranians or the Venezuelans.’

Despite the obstacles, Waters said countless people are “slowly waking up” and growing more skeptical of corrupt institutions, encouraging them to keep up the pressure and continue speaking out.

“We refuse to shut up, we refuse to be quiet, we continue to rebel,” Waters said when asked about solutions to the social ills he diagnosed. “We say ‘No, this is bulls**t, this is just not good enough.’”




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Andy Lack’s NBC Exit May Spell the End for Controversial Executive Noah Oppenheim

NBC News and MSNBC Chairman Andy Lack’s long-predicted retirement, just days short of his 73rd birthday, was confirmed Monday with a press release from newly installed NBC Universal CEO Jeff Shell, who named Telemundo head honcho Cesar Conde as the new executive in charge of Comcast-owned NBC News, MSNBC, and CNBC.

The move—which brings the CNBC financial network under control of the news division, having been outside Lack’s purview and reporting to NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke—effectively reverses a core personnel decision by Shell’s predecessor, who publicly tapped Lack’s deputy Noah Oppenheim for the top news job even amid a storm of criticism both inside and outside NBC News.

NBC News staffers had been critical of Oppenheim—occasionally to his face at staff meetings—over his handling of Ronan Farrow’s reporting on disgraced and now-imprisoned movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Oppenheim’s boss, Lack, was also widely blamed for perceived journalistic failures at the news division.

People familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast that Lack was blindsided by Shell’s announcement. An NBC News spokesperson declined to comment. 

The re-shuffle gives a vote of limited confidence to NBC news president Oppenheim, who had reported to Lack and was long expected to succeed him in the executive echelons of NBC. One highly placed company insider speculated that Oppenheim, a successful Hollywood screenwriter who has been privately musing with colleagues about returning to his first love, might not stay long at NBC News. 

“He’s the big loser,” this person said.

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