Clive Carroll

Every father dreads the day his beautiful number one daughter mentions that she is dating a musician. Of course daddy translates that into a vision of an unemployable youth with attitude, tattoos and enough rings and piercings to set off a metal detector at the local airport. So when the “meet and greet the family” day comes and the young man turns out to look “normal” and has a  musical vocabulary greater than three chords then you can hear a sigh of relief that goes almost all the way around the world. If the guest of honor should prove to be Clive Carroll then all daddy’s prayers will have been answered.

Who is Clive Carroll? He is a normal looking guy who plays acoustic guitar at a level that  most of us can only hope to attain in our dreams. He is one of the very few guitarists equally adept at playing either steel string or nylon strung instruments and has a repertoire that crosses all genres.

About - CLIVE CARROLL

“Born in England in 1975, Clive began his musical journey in Chelmsford, Essex.  His parents had a taste for American country and old time music and it wasn’t long before Clive was playing in the family band on a homemade banjo.  By his early teens, guitar in hand, Clive was traversing the worlds of soul, pop, funk, and traditional Irish music, balancing his affinity for Slayer with the etudes of Tárrega.  This breadth of musical curiosity was to become one of his strengths; even as a child Clive was as comfortable accompanying a group of folk singers as he was jamming along to Nirvana or performing standards with the Essex Youth Orchestra.

Clive went on to earn a 1st Class Honors Degree in Composition and Guitar from the famed Trinity College of Music in London, all the while balancing his classical work with forays into the world of the steel string guitar.  By the time he graduated from Trinity, Clive had not only penned orchestral works, he had written an album’s worth of solo acoustic guitar music.  A chance meeting with English guitar legend John Renbourn proved the catalyst for Clive’s debut album, “Sixth Sense”, which Renbourn deemed “a milestone in the journey of the steel-string guitar”.  He subsequently took Clive on the road with him and the pair toured North America and Europe together, launching Clive’s solo performing career.
Since then, Clive has established himself as one of the world’s premier acoustic guitar players.  He has toured across Europe, Australia, the Middle East and North America, garnering praise for his sublime performances of everything from 16th and 17th century lute music to Jazz standards, Blues, Irish reels and his own groundbreaking compositions.  Lauded guitarist Tommy Emmanuel has also taken Clive on the road, and similar nods to Clive’s musicianship have been given by everyone from classical guitarist John Williams to Madonna, Guy Ritchie, Michelin award-winning chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, and the Sultanate of Oman.
To date, Clive has released four solo albums; “Sixth Sense”, “The Red Guitar” (which Tommy Emmanuel cites as one of his desert island discs!), “Life in Color” and “The Furthest Tree”.  Clive has also written music for television and film, most notably composing the music for the film “Driving Lessons”, which features Julie Walters and Rupert Grint of Harry Potter fame.
Clive newest CD, “The Furthest Tree”, was released in May 2016 and is already being hailed as some of his finest work to date.”  ———- from Clive Carroll’s website.

I first became aware of his music when I came across a video performance included in one of Roger Bucknall’s FYLDE NEWSLETTER (check it out on the web).For those who don’t know Roger is one of Britain’s top Luthiers. He builds magnificent acoustic instruments played by some of world’s top acoustic musicians.

So to spread the word of Clive’s musical brilliance I am included a number of his performances in this blog. This is a interview where he recalls the guitar playing of the British folk guitarist John Renbourn.

Another interview talking about tunings ……….

Some Celtic grooves……..

Mississippi Blues ……..  Clive has a number of versions of this tune on YouTube and each one is different. He complains that this version gets a little muddy in  places (???).

Pop music  workshop …….. And I love Her So…… a Pat Metheny arrangement.This is so pretty ……..

The Abbott’s Hymn and In the Deep (John Renbourn)

An original piece Eliza’s Eyes using the C9 tuning CGCGCD (parts 1 and 2)

 

Country piece …….. a la Jerry Reed

Brazilian (nylon string) – Luis Bonfa’s classic Uma Prece. I am very familiar with the original recording and Clive outshines the original.

And now for some true blue classical music on steel strings ………

And now from the classical guitar repertoire …. 5 Preludes by the Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos. I doubt there is another “steel string folk guitarist” who could pull this off as well as Clive.

@@@@@@@@@@@@@

Ever since I heard the English guitarist  Martin Simpson play at the Stage Door in Cranbrook so many, many years ago he has been my number one inspiration for playing the guitar and exploring folk music. I know a lot of musicians do not care for his singing but I believe he come closest to achieving an authentic folk feel. It doesn’t matter what ethnicity he explores it always comes out being very real. As for guitar playing his technique is unbelievably clean and he has sound to die for. Well in the acoustic guitar department Martin will just have to move over and make room for Clive Carroll. I have included probably too many examples of what he has to offer and I know it’s a lot to digest but he is such a fabulous player with an unbelievable sound it is well worth the effort to explore his world.

@@@@@@@@@@@@@

The Epoch Times – Be Warned

A sample edition of The Epoch Times showed up in my mail box today. I have also noticed some other aggressive promotions recently . Some months back I did some preliminary research on the publication and I came to the conclusion this is another conspiracy publication right up there with  the Qanon and Bereitbart News.

If you still have reservations about my conclusions read the wikipedia  entry that I have posted below…….

@@@@@@@@@@@@@

“The Epoch Times is a far-right[12] international multi-language newspaper and media company affiliated with the Falun Gong new religious movement, based in the United States.[17] The newspaper is part of the Epoch Media Group, which also operates New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television.[18] The Epoch Times has websites in 35 countries[19] but is blocked in mainland China.[19]

The Epoch Times opposes the Chinese Communist Party,[20] and promotes far-right politicians in Europe,[3][5] and backs President Donald Trump in the U.S.;[21] a 2019 report by NBC News showed it to be the second-largest funder of pro-Trump Facebook advertising after the Trump campaign.[18][22][23] The Epoch Media Group’s news sites and YouTube channels have spread conspiracy theories such as QAnon and anti-vaccination propaganda.[18][24][25] The organization frequently promotes other Falun Gong affiliated groups, such as the performing arts company, Shen Yun.[14][21]

History

The Epoch Times was founded in 2000 by John Tang and other Chinese Americans affiliated with the Falun Gong new religious movement.[26] Tang was a graduate student in Georgia at the time; he began the newspaper in his basement.[21] The founders said they were responding to censorship inside China and a lack of international understanding about the Chinese government’s repression of Falun Gong.[27][28] In May 2000, the paper was first published in the Chinese language in New York, with the web launch in August 2000.[29]

By 2003, The Epoch Times website and group of newspapers had grown into one of the largest Chinese-language news sites and newspaper groups outside China, with local editions in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and major Western European countries.[30] The first English edition launched online in 2003, followed by the New York print edition in 2004.[29]

The newspaper sources its journalists from staff living in the West.[31][32][33]

Reports by Reporters Without Borders in 2019 and the Hoover Institution in 2018 called The Epoch Times one of the few Chinese-language media outlets in the United States independent from China’s control or influence.[34][35]

Finances

According to NBC News, “little is publicly known about the precise ownership, origins or influences of The Epoch Times,” and it is loosely organized into several regional tax free non-profits, under the umbrella of the Epoch Media Group, together with New Tang Dynasty Television.[18][21]

The newspaper’s revenue has increased rapidly in recent years, from $3.8 million in 2016 to $8.1 million in 2017 (with spending of $7.2 million) and $12.4 million in 2018.[36] Tax documents of the Epoch Media Group indicated that between 2012 and 2016, the group received $900,000 from a principal at Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund led by the conservative political donor Robert Mercer.[37] Chris Kitze, a former NBC executive and creator of the fake news website Before It’s News who also manages a cryptocurrency hedge fund, joined the paper’s board as vice president in 2017.[36]

A 2020 report in The New York Times called The Epoch Times‘ recent wealth “something of a mystery.” Steve Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News who produced a documentary with NTD, said “I’d give them a number” on a project budget and “they’d come back and say, ‘We’re good for that number.'” Former employees say they were told The Epoch Times is financed by subscriptions, ads and donations from wealthy Falun Gong practitioners.[21]

Distribution

The Epoch Times says it hosts websites in 21 languages and 35 countries, and has print editions in eight languages: Chinese, English, Spanish, Hebrew, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, and Indonesian.[19]In April 2019, videos and ads from the Epoch Media Group including The Epoch Times and New Tang Dynasty (NTD) totaled 3 billion views on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, according to the analytics company Tubular. That ranked it 11th among all video creators, and ahead of any other traditional news publisher, according to NBC News.[18]

Censorship

In some cases The Epoch Times operates in a hostile overseas environment, in which “overseas Chinese media companies choosing to remain independent or publish non-approved content become the targets of an aggressive campaign of elimination or control.”[38] In one instance Chinese diplomatic officials made threats against media for reporting Falun Gong-related content; in other cases, advertisers and distributors have been threatened not to support The Epoch Times. Communist Party authorities have been accused of resorting to “militant methods” against the newspaper and its staff, including attacking staff and destroying computer equipment.[38]

According to a Reporters Without Borders report, Epoch’s chief technical officer, Li Yuan, was attacked and beaten in his Atlanta, Georgia, home on February 8, 2006, by suspected Chinese government agents who took his two laptops.[34]

In 2006, the International Federation of Journalists criticized what it called a “dirty war” against The Epoch Times, citing incidents such as The Epoch Times‘s Hong Kong printing plant being broken into and damaged by unidentified men, and Epoch’s offices in Sydney and Toronto receiving suspicious mail envelopes suspected of containing toxic materials. The IFJ also noted incidences of Epoch Times staff and advertisers being intimidated, and newspapers being confiscated, in what it characterized as “a vicious witch-hunt aimed at crushing the voice of dissent.”[39]

The newspaper was briefly banned from Malaysia after coming under reported pressure by the Chinese Communist Party.[40]

In 2016, the newspaper was removed from the pharmacy of Australian National University, after the president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association confronted the pharmacist and threw out the papers. The incident drew national media coverage over questions of Chinese government sponsored overseas student organizations.[41][42]

In November 2019, Reporters Without Borders called on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to protect press freedoms after The Epoch Times said four masked arsonists with batons had damaged its printing press.[43]

Relationship to Falun Gong

In 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that “three new U.S.-based, Chinese-language media outlets that provide provocative reporting about the Communist Party, government oppression and social unrest in China (namely The Epoch Times, Sound of Hope, and NTDTV) have ties to the Falun Gong spiritual movement.” When interviewed, executives at each outlet claimed they did not represent the Falun Gong movement as a whole.[20]

Associated Press reporter Nahal Toosi wrote in 2006 that it is “technically inaccurate” to say that Falun Gong owns The Epoch Times, although many of the newspaper’s staffers are Falun Gong practitioners.[44] Toosi noted “many observers” have said Falun Gong uses the newspaper for its public relations campaigns, and the paper is connected with the group and carries sympathetic coverage of it.[44][45][46][40][47]

The English Epoch Times chair Stephen Gregory denied in 2006 that Epoch Times is directly connected to Falun Gong.[44] Independent reporters in the US repeatedly confirm the connection.[18][21]

In 2003 sociologist Yuezhi Zhao wrote that the paper “displays an indisputable ideological and organizational affinity with Falun Gong” and that it strongly emphasizes negative portrayals of the Chinese government and positive portrayals of Falun Gong. Per Zhao, Epoch portrays itself as neutral, independent, and public-interest oriented.[30]

Nick Couldry and James Curran wrote in 2003 that the paper represents a “major step in the evolution of Falun Gong-related alternative media”, and may be part of a de facto media alliance with democracy activists in exile.[48]

Canadian scholar Clement Tong wrote[45][49][50][51][52] The Epoch Times “operates as a mouthpiece for” Falun Gong without an official statement of affiliation with the movement.[50]

In 2008, David Ownby, director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the Université de Montréal and the author of Falun Gong and the Future of China, said the newspaper is set up by Falun Gong practitioners with their own money.[53] He described The Epoch Times as wishing to be taken seriously as a global newspaper rather than being judged on the basis of its strong association with Falun Gong.[53][54] He wrote: “Epoch Times is a newspaper with a mission, that of reporting on issues bearing on human rights throughout the world, which allows for considerable focus on China and Falun Gong.”[55]

In 2009, Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, appeared at the newspaper’s headquarters in Manhattan and called for the expansion of The Epoch Times to “become regular media.”[18] Li has referred to The Epoch Times as “our media”, along with the NTD digital production company and the Shen Yun dance troupe.[18][56] Two former employees said that top editors traveled to meet with Li at Falun Gong’s compound, Dragon Springs, where Li weighed in on editorial and strategic decisions; The Epoch Times denied that a meeting took place.[21]

Former employees of The Epoch Times have noted the involvement of Falun Gong practitioners in the management and editorial process.[18] Three anonymous former employees said Epoch Times workers were encouraged to attend weekly “Fa study” sessions outside work hours to study the teachings of Li Hongzhi.[57] Former employees have said that speaking negatively about The Epoch Times amounts to disobeying Li.[21]

The Epoch Times runs frequent promotional stories about the Shen Yun dance troupe that is affiliated with Falun Gong. The New Yorker’s review of Shen Yun called The Epoch Times “the world’s foremost purveyor of Shen Yun content.”[58]

In 2019, an NBC News investigative report suggested The Epoch Times’s political coverage may be affected by Falun Gong believers’ anticipation of a judgment day in which communists are sent to hell, and Falun Gong’s allies are spared. Former Epoch Times employees told NBC News that President Donald Trump is viewed as a key anti-communist ally,[18] allegedly hastening that judgment day.[59]

Notable coverage

The paper carried an interview with outspoken Canadian Conservative Member of Parliament Rob Anders, wherein Anders alleged that the Chinese government used gifts and business deals in attempts to influence Canadian political decisions.[60][61]

Editorial stance

The Epoch Times is an ardent opponent of the Chinese Communist Party.[18] In recent years the newspaper has also received significant attention for its favorable coverage of the Trump administration,[18][22] the German far-right,[3][62] and the French far-right.[5]

The Epoch Times “generally stayed out of U.S. politics” before 2016, “unless they dovetailed with Chinese interests,” according to a report by NBC News. Ben Hurley, a former Epoch Times employee until 2013, stated that the newspaper was critical toward abortion and LGBT and that Falun Gong practitioners “saw communism everywhere” including in internationalist figures like Hillary Clinton and Kofi Annan, “but there was more room for disagreements in the early days.” Since 2016, according to NBC News, The Epoch Times has promoted favorable coverage of Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency, and emphasized issues such as Islamic terrorism and illegal immigration to the United States. It has also emphasized “what the publication claims is a labyrinthian, global conspiracy led by [Hillary] Clinton and former President Barack Obama to tear down Trump.”[18]

A former Epoch Times reporter who covered the 2016 campaign, Steve Klett, said his editors had encouraged favorable coverage of Trump after he won the Republican nomination, and that “They seemed to have this almost messianic way of viewing Trump as the anti-Communist leader who would bring about the end of the Chinese Communist Party.”[21] After Trump was elected, The Epoch Times hired Brendan Steinhauser, a Tea Party strategist, to reach out to more conservatives and encourage the Trump administration to oppose the persecution of Falun Gong.[21]

The Epoch Times editor-in-chief Jasper Fakkert wrote in a letter to readers: “We see the Trump administration’s efforts to change socialist policies in America, as well as set policies to counter infiltration and subversion by China, as remarkable reversals from past policies, and sincere efforts that, if fully realized, will benefit America and the world as a whole.”[22]

The Epoch Times picks up mainstream newswire stories and in some places can resemble a community newspaper.[63] According to sociologist Yuezhi Zhao, “While mainstream newspapers typically treat Web versions as an extension of the already-existing print version, The Epoch Times website serves as the master for all its worldwide papers.”[30]

The Epoch Times is known for alleging conspiracies involving former Communist Party general secretary Jiang Zemin,[64] under whose administration Falun Gong was suppressed in China.

The newspaper is at odds with the Taiwanese-owned and U.S.-based Chinese language newspaper World Journal, accusing it of being a “megaphone for the evil Chinese Communist Party.”[64]

In September 2017, The German edition of the newspaper, The Epoch Times Deutschland, which became Web-only in 2012, was described by online magazine The China File as being aligned with the German far-right, and attractive to supporters of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the anti-immigrant group Pegida.[3] Stefanie Albrecht, a reporter for the German broadcaster RTL who spent several days inside the Berlin office of The Epoch Times while investigating the far right, said that The Epoch Times staffers she met had no journalistic training and did not check facts, trusting instead in the alternative sources they consulted.[5]

In France, The Epoch Times gives “an unfettered platform to Jean-Marie Le Pen, the patriarch of the French far right, and his daughter, Marine, who leads the nationalist party her father founded,” according to The New Republic.[5]

Editorials

Nine commentaries on the Communist Party

In November 2004, the Chinese version of The Epoch Times published a series of editorials titled “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party.” The editorials argued that China would not be free or prosperous until it was rid of the party, which it said was at odds with China’s cultural and spiritual values.[65]

Millions of copies of the articles circulated in China through e-mails, faxes, and underground printing houses, according to a guest opinion article in The Christian Science Monitor by Caylan Ford, a former staff writer for The Epoch Times. Ford wrote that the campaign differed from the 1989 and 2008 democracy movements in China by drawing on Buddhist and Daoist spirituality.[65]

In 2005, organizers of an associated campaign urging people to quit the Chinese Communist Party said that more than 2 million people had resigned.[66]

A report by the OpenNet Initiative said that 90% of websites mentioning the phrase “Nine Commentaries” were blocked in mainland China as of 2005.[67][68]

In 2012, a former People’s Liberation Army air force officer testified to the United States Congressional-Executive Commission on China that he had been sentenced to four years of prison for distributing a “Nine Commentaries” DVD in Beijing.[69][non-primary source needed]

The “Tuidang” movement to quit the Chinese Communist Party was selected as the one of the top global events in 2011 by Russian economist Andrey Illarionov, who cited claims by The Epoch Times that over 100 million people had quit.[70]

According to China scholar David Ownby, the Nine Commentaries are a “condemnation of communism and a direct indictment of the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party’s rule in China.” While acknowledging the “unnecessary violence” the Chinese Communist Party has inflicted, Ownby finds that the lack of balance and nuance in tone and style makes the editorials resemble “anti-Communist propaganda written in Taiwan in the 1950s.”[55]

Controversies

The Epoch Times has championed President Donald Trump’s Spygate conspiracy theory in its news coverage and advertising, and the Epoch Media Group’s Edge of Wonder videos on YouTube have spread the far-right, pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory.[18]

The Edge of Wonder hosts, according to The Daily Dot, “embrace QAnon completely” even though “almost nothing QAnon has foretold has actually taken place.”[71] An NBC News report found that two of Edge of Wonder’s hosts have been a creative director and chief photo editor at The Epoch Times respectively. The newspaper promoted Edge of Wonder videos in dozens of Facebook posts through 2019.[18]

During the February 2020 Iowa Democratic Caucuses, The Epoch Times shared viral disinformation from the conservative group Judicial Watch that falsely alleged inflated voter rolls.[72] The claim, which went viral on Facebook, was debunked by fact checkers and the Iowa secretary of state.[73][74] A Harvard media expert quoted by NBC News said The Epoch Times employed a “classic disinformation tactic” known as “trading up the chain,” in which false stories are repackaged and shared.[72]

In September 2018, The Epoch Times photographer Samira Bouaou broke White House protocol and handed Trump a folder during an official event.[75]

On August 13, 2020, The White House invited reporters from The Epoch Times and the right-wing news outlet Gateway Pundit to a press briefing. According to a report by The Washington Post, the “Gateway Pundit and Epoch Times both jumped the line with the White House’s blessing starting on Thursday”, prompting objections from the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association.[76][77]

During a six-month period in 2019, The Epoch Times spent more than $1.5 million on about 11,000 Facebook ads that NBC News said were “pro-Trump advertisements.” NBC said the amount spent was more than any group except the Trump campaign itself.[18][23] Political ad spending on Facebook in April 2019 through an account called “Coverage of the Trump Presidency by The Epoch Times” exceeded any politician’s spending except Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.[78] Journalist Judd Legum wrote in May 2019 that The Epoch Times ads were “boosting Donald Trump and floating conspiracy theories about Joe Biden.”[78]

In August 2019, Facebook banned The Epoch Times from advertising on its platform, after finding that the newspaper broke Facebook’s political transparency rules by publishing pro-Trump subscription ads through sockpuppet pages such as “Honest Paper” and “Pure American Journalism.”[59][25] A Facebook representative told NBC: “Over the past year we removed accounts associated with The Epoch Times for violating our ad policies, including trying to get around our review systems.”[59]

The Epoch Times publisher, Stephen Gregory, wrote in response that the paper did not intend to violate Facebook’s rules. The video ads, he wrote, “are overtly Epoch Times advertisements for our subscriptions,” and “discuss The Epoch Times’ editorial and feature content and encourage people to subscribe to our print newspaper.”[59]

As Facebook banned The Epoch Times from advertising, the newspaper shifted its spending to YouTube. The Epoch Times has spent more than $1.8 million on YouTube ads, some promoting conspiracy theories, since May 2018.[57][21]

In October 2019, the fact-checking website Snopes reported that The Epoch Times is closely linked to a large network of Facebook pages and groups called The BL (The Beauty of Life) that shares pro-Trump views and conspiracy theories such as QAnon. The BL has spent at least $510,698 on Facebook advertising. Hundreds of the ads were removed for violations of Facebook’s advertising rules. The BL network of pages has 28 million followers on Facebook in total, according to Snopes. The editor-in-chief of The BL recently worked as editor-in-chief of The Epoch Times, and several other BL employees are listed as current or former employees of The Epoch Times. The BL is registered in Middletown, New York, to an address that also is registered to Falun Gong’s Sound of Hope Radio Network and is associated with the YouTube series Beyond Science, but Snopes found “the outlet as a whole is literally the English-language edition of Epoch Times Vietnam.”[79][80] Snopes found that The BL uses more than 300 fake Facebook profiles based in Vietnam and other countries, using names, stock photos and celebrity photos in their profiles to emulate Americans, to administer more than 150 pro-Trump Facebook groups amplifying its content.[80][81]

An unnamed representative of The BL wrote to Snopes that “The BL has NO connection with The Epoch Times,” and a “few of our staff has job experience … working in The Epoch Times, but now they are working full time in The BL.” The Epoch Times’ publisher, Stephen Gregory, said “The Epoch Times is not affiliated with the BL.”[79]

In December 2019, Facebook announced it removed a large network of accounts, pages, and groups linked to The BL and Epoch Media Group for coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign actor. The network had 55 million followers on Facebook and Instagram, and $9.5 million had been spent on Facebook ads through its accounts.[82]

The New York Times reported that The BL had used fake profile photos generated by artificial intelligence. The Atlantic Council Digital Forensic Research Lab director Graham Brookie said the coordinated network of fake accounts demonstrated “an eerie, tech-enabled future of disinformation.” Facebook’s head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said, “What’s new here is that this is purportedly a U.S.-based media company leveraging foreign actors posing as Americans to push political content. We’ve seen it a lot with state actors in the past.”[83][84]

COVID-19 MISINFORMATION

The Epoch Times is identified as spreading misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic in print and via social media including Facebook and YouTube.[85][86] It has promoted anti-China rhetoric and conspiracy theories around the coronavirus outbreak, for example through an 8-page special edition called “How the Chinese Communist Party Endangered the World”, which was distributed unsolicited in April 2020 to mail customers in areas of the United States, Canada, and Australia.[87][88] In the newspaper, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is known as the “CCP virus”, and a commentary in the newspaper posed the question, “is the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan an accident occasioned by weaponizing the virus at that [Wuhan P4 virology] lab?”[85][87] The paper’s editorial board also claimed that COVID-19 patients can potentially be cured by “condemning the CCP.”[36]

The misinformation tracker NewsGuard called the French page of The Epoch Times one of the “super-spreaders” of COVID-19 misinformation on Facebook, citing an Epoch Times article that suggested the virus was artificially created.[89][90]

A story in The Epoch Times on February 17, 2020, shared a map from the internet that falsely alleged massive sulfur dioxide releases from crematoriums during the COVID-19 pandemic in China, speculating that 14,000 bodies may have been burned.[91] A fact check by AFP reported that the map was a NASA forecast taken out of context.[91]

A widely viewed video released by The Epoch Times on April 7, 2020, was flagged by Facebook as “partly false” for “the unsupported hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 is a bioengineered virus released from a Wuhan research laboratory.” The video featured Judy Mikovits, an anti-vaccination activist.[92][93] The fact-checker Health Feedback said of the video that “several of its core scientific claims are false and its facts, even when accurate, are often presented in a misleading way.”[86]

A story by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on April 29, 2020, reported that some Canadians were upset to receive a special edition of The Epoch Times that called COVID-19 the “CCP virus”. Later the CBC retracted a headline on its story that had quoted a recipient saying the special edition was “racist and inflammatory”, and the CBC also retracted a claim that The Epoch Times edition had concluded that COVID-19 was a bioweapon.[87][94] Opinion columns published by The Toronto Sun accused the CBC of bias against The Epoch Times[95][96] and said the CBC’s report may have misled readers into thinking The Epoch Times was spreading anti-Asian sentiment.[96]

Removal of TruthMedia from Facebook

On August 6, 2020, Facebook removed hundreds of fake accounts by a digital company called TruthMedia that promoted Epoch Times and NTD content and pro-Trump conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and protests in the United States.[97][98] The operation included 303 Facebook accounts, 181 pages, 44 Facebook groups and 31 Instagram accounts,[99] which in total were followed by more than 2 million people.[98] Snopes and NBC News reported that TruthMedia had ties to the Epoch Media Group,[100][98] but Stephen Gregory, publisher of The Epoch Times, denied this.[98]

TruthMedia, now banned from Facebook, continues to operate YouTube channels in Chinese, English, Japanese, and Vietnamese, and has accounts on Pinterest and Twitter.[97] It appears to have begun a petition to the White House to “start calling the novel coronavirus the CCP virus.”[98][97]

Assessments

Ming Xia, a political science professor at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, wrote in 2007 that The Epoch Times represents part of Falun Gong‘s effort to expand to non-practitioners, and “is part of the Falun Gong strategy to embed itself into the large civil society for influence and legitimacy.”[101] In 2018 he described The Epoch Times staff as largely part-time and volunteer, and said they “do not follow the protocols professional journalists abide by.”[75]

The misinformation tracker NewsGuard said The Epoch Times “fails to meet several basic standards of credibility and transparency.”[19]

The Epoch Times has been criticized by some scholars for biases, particularly regarding the Chinese Communist Party and mainland China issues, as well as for being a “mouthpiece” of the Falun Gong movement.[45][49][51][46][40][47] James To, a New Zealand political scientist, described The Epoch Times as the “primary mouthpiece” of Falun Gong, writing that it “lacks credibility”, despite the newspaper posing a “viable threat to the CCP” by publishing articles about the party’s negative aspects.[102] In his book Blocked on Weibo: What Gets Suppressed on China’s Version of Twitter and Why, University of Toronto research fellow Jason Q. Ng referred to the paper’s coverage of mainland China issues as “heavily biased against the Communist Party” and thus its reportage “should be viewed skeptically.”[103]

A 2018 report by conservative think-tank the Hoover Institution called The Epoch Times one of the few independent Chinese-language media outlets in the United States not taken over by businessmen sympathetic to the Chinese government. The report also said that reports on China by The Epoch Times and other outlets affiliated with Falun Gong, which is banned from China, are “uneven.”[35]

Seth Hettna wrote in The New Republic that The Epoch Times “has built a global propaganda machine, similar to Russia’s Sputnik or RT, that pushes a mix of alternative facts and conspiracy theories that has won it far-right acolytes around the world.”[5]

Joan Donovan of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University called The Epoch Times “a known disinformation operation.”[72]

Ben Collins of NBC News called The Epoch Times a “pro-Trump conspiracy website.”[84]

The paper has also been lauded by some political commentators and media experts. Ethan Gutmann of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neoconservative think tank, has characterized The Epoch Times as a leader in political analysis of the Chinese regime, writing: “With the “Chinese Regime in Crisis” series, Epoch Times has finally and indisputably arrived. Any China expert who wants to save face by pretending the paper doesn’t exist can continue to do so—for a little while anyway—but they had better be reading it in secret.”[104]

Hong Kong Economic Journal‘s former editor-in-chief and scholar Lian Yi-zheng [zh] argued that that while The Epoch Times’s connections to Falun Gong and its organ harvesting claims are controversial, the paper has often been correct in its analysis of power plays in Beijing,[105] and that it often receives high level leaks from informants inside mainland China[verification needed].[106]

James Bettinger, a professor of communications at Stanford University and the director of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships, said “Even if Epoch Times is not associated with Falun Gong, if they consistently write about Falun Gong in the same perspective, or if there are no articles examining Falun Gong, people would perceive it as being not credible.”[63] Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at University of California, Berkeley, said in 2005 that “It’s hard to vouch for their quality because it’s difficult to corroborate, but it’s not something to be dismissed as pure propaganda.”[32]

In his 2008 book on Falun Gong, David Ownby wrote that The Epoch Times articles are “well written and interesting, if occasionally idiosyncratic in their coverage.”[55][107][108] According to Ownby, the newspaper has been praised and also criticized for a perceived bias against the CCP, and support of Falun Gong practitioners and other dissidents such as Tibetans, Taiwanese independence advocates, democracy activists, Uyghurs and others. The paper, therefore, is often assessed in light of its connection to Falun Gong, rather than a thorough analysis of its editorial content.[109]

Jiao Guobiao, a former Beijing University journalism professor who was dismissed after criticizing the Propaganda Department, proposed that even if The Epoch Times published only negative information highly critical of the CCP, the weight of their attacks could never begin to counterbalance the positive propaganda the party publishes about itself. In addressing media balance, Jiao noted that the Chinese public lacked negative, critical information regarding their country. As such, he noted for a need of media balance based on the principles of freedom, equality, and legality, and that media balance “is the result of the collective imbalances of all.”[49]

In 2010, The Epoch Times successfully defended its reporting in the Canadian court system,[110] when a publisher it had reported on, Crescent Chau of Les Presses Chinoises, sued for libel and lost at the Superior Court of Quebec.[111][112] In examining the case, John Gordon Miller, a Canadian journalist and media professor, noted that articles in question “appear to be thoroughly and professionally reported.”[113][112]

Hayes Brown of Buzzfeed News called The Epoch Times “one of the staunchest defenders of Donald Trump‘s presidency.”[22]

U.S. Representative Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, called The Epoch Times “our favorite paper.”[57]

Haifeng Huang, a professor of political science, said, “I’m not exactly clear why they have become such a major pro-Trump voice” but “part of it is perhaps because they regard President Trump as tough on the Chinese government and therefore a natural ally for them.”[57]

The web-only, German edition of the paper, Epoch Times Deutschland, has been criticized by media analysts[114] for its favorable coverage of far right populist groups such as the Alternative for Germany and Pegida, both of which proclaim anti-immigrant views, and promote skepticism towards mainstream German media and politicians.[3] A German media report described the outlet as a “favorite” of Pegida supporters, along with Sputnik News and Kopp Report; and found that its articles which were critical of immigration have been shared almost daily.[62]

A report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based think tank, said the German edition of The Epoch Times “primarily runs anti-West, anti-American and pro-Kremlin content—a high proportion of this content is based on unverified information.”[5][115]

In December 2019, the English Wikipedia deprecated the English and Chinese online versions of The Epoch Times as an “unreliable source” to use as a reference in Wikipedia. The publication has been described as “an advocacy group for the Falun Gong, and… a biased or opinionated source that frequently publishes conspiracy theories.”[116] “

THIS IS NOT A CREDIBLE SOURCE OF INFORMATION AND ANYTHING THAT IS PUBLISHED IN THIS NEWSPAPER SHOULD BE VIEWED WITH A HIGH DEGREE OF SUSPICION.

AN EXAMPLE OF HOW CORRUPTING SUCH PUBLICATIONS CAN BE……. THEY RELY ON A KERNEL OF TRUTH

“The most effective disinformation is that which has a kernel of truth to it, is that which kind of flies under the radar, doesn’t really break any guidelines,” said Claire Wardle of First Draft, which educates journalists and others about what misinformation is and how to spot it. “It’s much more hyper-partisan. It’s much more misleading than completely outright-false falsehoods.” The Epoch Times has shared misinformation and conspiracy theories in the past, and was banned from advertising on Facebook for trying to bypass political spending rules — though it is not alone in accusing China of coronavirus coverup.

Wardle says people who read the special edition of the Epoch Times may not be completely convinced about its findings, but will have been left with questions about what their governments are telling them. That is a technique of disinformation actors who want people to question as much as possible authoritative sources,” she said.  “Ultimately, you’re no longer going to your trusted news site or the WHO or your government even for information. You’re left thinking, ‘I can’t trust anybody.'”

@@@@@@@@@@@@@

The Pandemic – Been There , Done That

Some one , some where at some time said  “those who forget their history are doomed to relive it”. A case in point is the great “Spanish Flu Pandemic” of  one hundred years ago.  Despite a monumental growth in the knowledge of viral diseases and the use of Public Health measures  to combat them, the roll out of the current Covid-19 pandemic is a virtual replay of 100 years ago. From a readily defined ground zero infection  both pandemics have spread across the world infecting and killing millions of people. Against very similar backgrounds of disorganization, lack of political will, disinformation and the unwillingness of the general population to play by some very basic public health rules both pandemics have played out in remarkably similar fashion. This video review of “The   Spanish Flu” of the early part of the 20th century is well worth watching to clear our heads and get a grip on how to deal with the current pandemic.

Here is my take on the video and and the current state of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • Ground Zero. In both instances the ground zero infections have been more or less identified. Despite its name the Spanish Flu did not originate in Spain. Its origins can be traced to a Military camp in Fort Riley in Kansas in the USA . Covid-19 first appeared in Wuhan China. In both instances international travel played a part in the spread of the disease. In the first instance troops moving between the US and Europe and their involvement in various theaters of war was a major spreader of the virus. In the second instance international air travel in the modern world was a major contributing factor in the rapid spread of Covid-19.
  • Racial slanders. A virus does not have a race. The Spanish Flu was not Spanish and only became so named because of wide spread reporting of the disease in Spain. This reporting was due to the war time press restrictions in the countries at war. Spain was neutral with no press restrictions on the reporting of the disease. In 2020 attempts to tag the Covid-19 as a Chinese virus are misplaced political attempts to shift blame away from failed local policies.  Accusations that China suppressed knowledge of the virus are not strictly true. At the beginning there were some minor missteps by the Chinese but once the  disease was recognized the Chinese were very quick to get the word out and disseminate the genetic knowledge of the virus. This action and the rapid response of a number of nations is responsible for the slowing the spread of the virus in a number of jurisdictions.
  • Denial. In both pandemics there were serious attempts to dismiss the viruses as nothing worse than the common cold or flu. Six months into the Covid-19 pandemics the notions that it is no worse than a cold or flu are still being circulated.
  • Waves of infection. In the Spanish Flue Pandemic there were at least three waves of infection. The second wave was complicated by a mutation of the virus into a more  virulent form. Although there are no indications (yet) of a deadly mutation of Covid-19 there is every indication that a second wave and possibly a third wave is on the way. There is also no knowledge of the long term effects of the infection and viruses do have a nasty way of coming up with surprises that are easily overlooked at the beginning. Look how long it took to recognize the relationship between the “harmless”  childhood disease German Measles and the birth defects in children born from infected pregnant women?
  • Social Distancing and treatment. In both pandemics there was (is) no natural immunity and treatment options were (are) limited and there were (are) no developed vaccines. In the absence of a vaccine the most effective means of restricting the spread of viruses relies on public health measures such as face masks, social distancing and contract tracing. Jurisdictions with the most success in slowing the spread of the virus in both pandemics were the ones that went into hard and fast lock downs of local populations. By restricting travel and social gatherings, the promotion of the wearing of masks and improved hygiene protocols, the “locked down” jurisdictions fared much better in controlling the diseases and resulted in better economic outcomes. In the current pandemic the urge to hastily end lock downs and get life back to “normal” should be resisted. The old story “short term gain that leads to long term pain” needs  to be remembered.
  • Immunity and Vaccines.  President Donald Trump has almost got it right. Without a vaccine the Covid-19 virus it will probably “disappear”, not exactly the right word to use,  in a couple of years but the question is at what cost?. The population of the USA in 1919 was roughly 106 million and over the two year plus time span of the pandemic the death toll in the USA from the virus was 675,000. The current population of the USA is around 328 million. That is three times the population of 1919 and three times more potential infections. Over the current ten months of the Covid-19 pandemic the death toll in the USA  is 230,000.   There was no vaccine available during the Spanish Flu pandemic and the virus “ran it’s course”. The situation with Covid-19 is similar. Although there are vaccines on the horizon it may take several years to roll them out to the general population and, given the current political climate, there are significant sections of the population who may be unwilling to use the vaccines. Even if accepted the potential effectiveness of any  vaccine is unknown. Without effective public health measures and the public’s compliance with “the rules” the total deaths in the USA over the next twelve months could go well beyond 400,000.  For the Covid-19 virus we do have a bit of a head start in vaccine development. The actual viral cause of the Spanish Flu was not really identified until the 1930s. At the beginning they did not even know it was a viral disease. The first potential causative agent was a bacteria eventually identified as Hemophilus influenzae. Although no longer considered the agent  causing Spanish Flu  Hemophilus influenzae remains a significant  cause of bacterial infections. The final identification of the causative agent of Spanish Flu occurred years after the pandemic had run its course. The Covid-19 virus was identified within weeks of the first infections and the genetic mapping of the virus was rapidly shared around the world. This mapping is an essential tool in developing appropriate vaccines.  So vaccine development will probably advance very quickly but there are still many unknowns that need to be investigated. The earliest roll out of a vaccine is at least another year, possibly two, into the future. Will it be effective? Will it be a one shot dose or will it require follow up shots every year? These are only a few of the unknowns out there.
  • Disorganization and political turmoil. One hundred years ago, given  the lack of knowledge of viral infections and the havoc of World War I an organized response to the pandemic was less than satisfactory. In 1919 that was understandable. In 2020 the same excuse cannot be made and yet the response in some highly developed and normally well organized counties is a virtual replay of what happened 100 years ago. Various jurisdictions implemented conflicting  policies and procedures, or failed to implement policies that could  slow the spread of the virus. Responses have become politicized and even the simple wearing of masks has become a political issue. This has impeded the implementation of a very simple tool for slowing the spread of the virus.  The shame of it all is that Public Health Authorities had been warning governments around the world for years that it wasn’t a case of  “If” but rather “when” the next pandemic would hit. They were ignored and in some instances pandemic planning was dismissed and even dismantled.

Every body wants to get back to “normal”. That is, the way it was before the pandemic struck. That is not going to happen. We have to recognize there are now two worlds. The world before Covid-19 and the world after Covid-19. They are two very different worlds and no amount of wishful thinking is going to change that. As my buddy Douglas Francis Mitchell would say “Better get used to it folks”.

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@