Read any Good Books Lately? (#19) – The Recent Past

I like reading books with some historical basis. Historical novels work for me as does a significant number of non-fiction books. The published works of David Halberstam (April 10, 1934 – April 23, 2007) are non-fiction works well worth reading.  He  was an American writer, journalist, and historian, known for his work on the Vietnam War, politics, history, the Civil Right Movement, business, media, American culture, and later, sports journalism. He won a Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 1964. Halberstam was killed in a car crash in 2007, while doing research for a book……. Wikipedia.

For me the following two books had instant appeal because they are about the recent past, just before my time, but close enough for me to see and feel the reverberations of what has just gone by.

THE RECKONING by David Halbertam

“New York Times Bestseller: “A historical overview of the auto industry in the United States and Japan [and] the gradual decline of U.S. manufacturing” (Library Journal).
After generations of creating high-quality automotive products, American industrialists began losing ground to the Japanese auto industry in the decades after World War II. David Halberstam, with his signature precision and absorbing narrative style, traces this power shift by delving into the boardrooms and onto the factory floors of the America’s Ford Motor Company and Japan’s Nissan. Different in every way—from their reactions to labor problems to their philosophies and leadership styles—the two companies stand as singular testaments to the challenges brought by the rise of the global economy.From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Fifties and The Coldest Winter, and filled with intriguing vignettes about Henry Ford, Lee Iacocca, and other visionary industrial leaders, The Reckoning remains a powerful and enlightening story about manufacturing in the modern age, and how America fell woefully behind”.

THE FIFTIES, by David Halberstam

“This vivid New York Times bestseller about 1950s America from a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist is “an engrossing sail across a pivotal decade” (Time).

Joe McCarthy. Marilyn Monroe. The H-bomb. Ozzie and Harriet. Elvis. Civil rights. It’s undeniable: The fifties were a defining decade for America, complete with sweeping cultural change and political upheaval. This decade is also the focus of David Halberstam’s triumphant The Fifties, which stands as an enduring classic and was an instant New York Times bestseller upon its publication. More than a survey of the decade, it is a masterfully woven examination of far-reaching change, from the unexpected popularity of Holiday Inn to the marketing savvy behind McDonald’s expansion. A meditation on the staggering influence of image and rhetoric, The Fifties is vintage Halberstam, who was hailed by the Denver Post as “a lively, graceful writer who makes you . . . understand how much of our time was born in those years.” 

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Read any Good Books lately? (#18) – The North-West Is Our Mother

The North-West Is Our Mother: The Story of Louis Riel’s People, the Métis Nation  

by Jean Teillet

There is a missing chapter in the narrative of Canada’s Indigenous peoples—the story of the Métis Nation, a new Indigenous people descended from both First Nations and Europeans

Their story begins in the last decade of the eighteenth century in the Canadian North-West. Within twenty years the Métis proclaimed themselves a nation and won their first battle. Within forty years they were famous throughout North America for their military skills, their nomadic life and their buffalo hunts.

The Métis Nation didn’t just drift slowly into the Canadian consciousness in the early 1800s; it burst onto the scene fully formed. The Métis were flamboyant, defiant, loud and definitely not noble savages. They were nomads with a very different way of being in the world—always on the move, very much in the moment, passionate and fierce. They were romantics and visionaries with big dreams. They battled continuously—for recognition, for their lands and for their rights and freedoms. In 1870 and 1885, led by the iconic Louis Riel, they fought back when Canada took their lands. These acts of resistance became defining moments in Canadian history, with implications that reverberate to this day: Western alienation, Indigenous rights and the French/English divide.

After being defeated at the Battle of Batoche in 1885, the Métis lived in hiding for twenty years. But early in the twentieth century, they determined to hide no more and began a long, successful fight back into the Canadian consciousness. The Métis people are now recognized in Canada as a distinct Indigenous nation. Written by the great-grandniece of Louis Riel, this popular and engaging history of “forgotten people” tells the story up to the present era of national reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

2019 marks the 175th anniversary of Louis Riel’s birthday (October 22, 1844)

Chick Corea (1941-2021)

In the mid 1960s through the 70s Classic Rock and Fusion jazz groups populated the same performance landscapes and often shared the same audiences. Part of the reason for that must be laid at the feet of the jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. While electric amplification was part and parcel of rock music of the day Miles and jazz musicians had only recently discovered electricity. Miles was an avid explorer of new technology, new musical genres, new bands and new musicians. His bands were populated by the brightest and the most technically innovative musicians of the day. Among his brightest stars were the pianists Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea. At the age of 80 Herbie Hancock is still musically active; at the age of 76 Keith Jarrett has been sidelined by very significant health issues and is currently no longer performing; At the age of 79 Chick Corea Corea died of cancer at his home in the Tampa Bay area of Florida on February 9, 2021. He had only recently been diagnosed with cancer.   Chick was a prolific composer and performer right up until his death.

His most famous composition  is an Instrumental jazz fusion composition titled Spain. It was composed in 1971 and appeared in its original (and most well-known) rendition on the album Light as a Feather. It featured Chick Corea on Rhodes electric piano, Airto Moreira on drums, Flora Purim on vocals and percussion, Stanley Clarke on bass and Joe Farrell on flute. The introduction used in the song is from the second movement of Joaquin Rodrigo’s  Concierto de Aranjuez guitar concerto. The chord progression for the piece is | Gmaj7 | F#7 | Em7 A7 | Dmaj7 (Gmaj7) | C#7 F#7 | Bm B7 |.

This attached video is a later version recorded in Barcelona, Spain that featured Jorge Pardo (flute, soprano and alto sax) Carles Benavent (bass) Rubem Dantas (percussion) Hossam Ramzy (Egyptian percussion) Tom Brechtlein (drums) Auxi Fernandez (Flamenco dance) Tomasito Moreno (Flamenco dance).

The Jazz world, and the musical world in general, has lost one of the most significant musician of the past 50 years. He will be sorely missed.

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THE CHICK COREA AKOUSTIC BAND. JAZZ SAN JAVIER 2018.

“Nineteen years after his long remembered performance with the group Origin and Gary Burton during the second edition of the festival, Jazz San Javier is pleased to present the return of Chick Corea. With a most brilliant career which began in 1966 as leader of his own projects, with 20 Grammy Awards to his name, and 51 Grammy nominations, Chick Corea is one of the top piano players of his generation, alongside Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett. An innovator with his electric projects like “Return To Forever” and the “Elektric Band”, he also shows his best facet as brilliant pianist through his acoustic projects, the brightest of which is the Akoustic Band, a meeting which is perceived as the jazz event of the year, with two other jazz greats, John Patitucci and Dave Weckl.”

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Floe Lake – Numa Pass – Tumbling Creek – The Rockwall – Goodsir Pass

This is another YouTube video that has hit my nostalgia buttons.

For more info check https://www.inafarawayland.com/rockwall-trail-guide/

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When we relocated to the Kootenays in British Columbia in the mid 1970s one of the first things we did was an April road trip into Kootenay Park followed by a circuit through Rogers Pass, Revelstoke and back down though the Arrow Lakes area to our home base in Rossland BC. As it was Easter and there was still lots of snow on the mountains and the scenery was spectacular. One of the most memorable scenes was the views of Mount Verendye and Mount Numa from Highway 93 near Vermillion Crossing. I didn’t realize it at the time that there were numerous trails that led into the area and along, what is described in this video, as the Rockwall Trail.

Over the years we had many road trips though Kootenay and Banff National parks with only a limited number of opportunities to explore the trails. As always time slips quietly by and before you knew it we had been in area nearly twenty years without having explored the potential of the area. I decided in the early nineties to remedy that situation by initiating regular late summer hiking trips into the parks. My son went off to University and my wife Mae, who is a five star hotel type of girl, had no desire to spend two weeks a year sleeping on the hard ground in the Canadian back country. So my my pattern for the next ten to fifteen years was to take two-three weeks each late summer to do solo backpacking trips in the National Parks. Every summer I would do a number of day trips and at least one multiday/7 night trip.

I started these endeavors in the summer of 1991.During that first summer I did a number of day hikes, including the Stanley Glacier Trail and a number of hikes to various destinations on the Rockwall Trail. The trails are very accessible from Highway 93. Often the trail head and the trail end are some distance apart. I solved that problem by leaving my bike at the end of the trail, driving to the trail head, hiking the trails, pick up the bike and cycle back to the trailhead to my vehicle. As a plan it worked well. I was staying at the Marble Canyon campsite on this trip  and used that as a base for the day trips and bike tours to Vermilion Crossing and Lake Louise.

On Thursday, the twenty second of August 1991, I set out on a day trip up to Floe Lake and back down the Numa Falls Trail. As described in my journal “I started out at 8:45am on a beautiful sunny day for the two and three quarter hour, 11k hike and 2,400 elevation gain up to the lake”. It was then just a case of kicking back, eating lunch and enjoying the sun and the spectacular view of 3,000 vertical feet of mountain dropping into a beautiful lake. The black flies were a little pesky and the gophers trying to forage food from inside my backpack were very cheeky. I set out for Numa Falls and the downward trail around three o’clock. All in all it was a 22K round trip of 5 hours of actual hiking. The photos are from the Floe Lake area.

Four or fiver days later I decided to do the Tumbling Creek trail. The logistics of the trip included leaving my pack at the Paint Pots trail head, driving to the Numa Falls trail head and cycling back to the Paint Pots, hiding the bike in the bushes and doing the hike. This was done to avoid a five kilometer walk from the end of the trail back the trailhead. I was on the trail earlier enough to make it to the pass by 1315hrs. Highlights of the trip up the pass were the wild flowers,  massive avalanche damage, Tumbling Creek, a scenic suspension bridge and a spectacular view looking north along the Rock Wall to Woverine Pass. Looking south there was the views of Mount Verendye and Mount Numa. The weather was a little cool after lunch when I headed off south down a very steep series of switch backs on the trail that joined up with the Numa Creek trail at Numa Pass junction. I made it to the parking lot around 16:45hrs and drove to Paint Pots trail head to pick up the bike. . All in all a 25K round trip of around 5.5 to 6 hours hiking. The guide book specifies an elevation gain of 2,700 feet and a max. elevation of 7,500 feet.

 

I ended that the 1991 summer vacation without accomplishing  an extended overnight back packing trip. At the time I was  insufficiently equipped to attempt an extended back packing trip. This was may first solo foray into the National Parks. I hiked a total of 60k and cycled 100k.

In the late summer of 1992, with the purchases of a new sleeping bag, portable stove, an upscale backpack and a  warm black toque for those cold evenings I corrected some of last summers deficiencies. Once again I camped at  Marble Canyon Camp Ground in Kootenay Park. To get in shape I did a number of day kikes that included the Chephen Lake  / Cirque Lake trail. This is a very short easy trail in the shadow of Howse Peak (3,295 metres – 10,810 feet). This is a very spectacular, formidable mountain that, on 16 April 2019 took the lives of three of the most talented international climbers of their generation. David Lama, Jess Roskelley and Hansjorg Auer, after climbing  a new route on the east face they were killed in an avalanche during their descent. That was way in the future and an endeavor that was way above my pay grade. I also did a 20 K / 5 hour day hike into the Yoho Park’s Yoho Glacier.

This year’s plan for the multi-day hike was to start from Marble Canyon Information Center parking lot and hike into the northern section of the Rockwall, with an overnight at the Ochre Camp Site, Helmet Creek, Mount Goodsir Pass into Yoho National Park,  McArthur Pass and another overnight at Lake O’Hara. I am not sure of the total distance but I suspected it would be around 52k. There were some significant logistical planning required. First of all a stop to park my gear at the information center and obtain permits for the overnight camp sites. Then a drive to park the car at the end of the trail at Lake O’Harra. At 12:30 I pulled the bike out of the car and cycled the the 52k back to Castle Junction, up and over Storm Mountain and down to Marble Canyon. The climb up Storm Mountain was pretty taxing and I ended up walking the the last  kilometer over the pass. I did it in pretty good time – 2hrs 10 minutes. I locked up the bike behind the cabins and was on the trail by 1600hrs

Monday Day 1- The distance to the campsite was only 7k and it only took around two hours. On setting up camp I discovered I was missing my eating utensils, a can opener and my camera. The camera was unfortunate but considering my food supply the rest were pretty essential gear. I made do with a tent peg and and rock hammer. I was the only one in the camp site for the night.

Tuesday Day 2- Despite the heavy frost I was up on the trail by 1030 hrs. Two and half hours and 6.5 k of steep trail later I was at the the Tumbling Pass campsite to have lunch, have a rest and take in the beautiful scenery. Back on the trail again at 1400hrs for the 12.5k hike to Helmet Falls. At the beginning it was steep but eventually it topped out into a beautiful alpine meadow, A short side trip Wolverine Pass gave access to huge mountains stretching away to the west. There were lots of hikers heading the other way but none going in my direction. Because there was bear sign on the trail I kept up some pretty noisy yelling every few minutes. I did not want any surprises and it paid off. While passing through a grove of pines that overhung the trail I heard a rustling in the trees when I looked up I spotted a bear cub about four feet from my head. I took a quick look around for mother bear and pounded on up the trail as fast as my legs could carry me. Thank god there was no sight of mother bear.  Nothing but great views of Helmet Creek Falls. By this time the sun was behind The Rockwall  as I headed down the  steep final section to the Helmut Creek Campsite.  I arrived and set up camp around 1830hr. Supper was a bit of a challenge – eating spaghetti with a tent peg was  an interesting exercise.

Wednesday Day 3- The morning was gloomy with a threat of rain. By 1030hrs I was on the good clean trail  that crossed over the Goodsir Pass and the Kootenay Park / Yoho Park Boundary. My guidebook book appeared to be a little out of date. Suggestions that Goodsir Pass trail was not recommended did not match up with the conditions I experienced. It was a short 4k climb to the top of the pass  for spectacular views of Sentry Peak (3,265 metres)  and the twin spires of Mount Goodsir (3,561 metres). The trail descended down into Goodsir Creek and the Ottertail River. I by passed the trail to the Ottertail falls. I met another camper on the trail and despite light showers we both made it to the McArthur Creek Campsite at 1400hrs. He pushed on but I decided to camp the night. I settled down and read for a while. By the middle of the night the rain was belting down. Tomorrow was going to be another day and I had no rain gear so it would be decision time. Do I push on or sit out a day waiting for better weather?

Thursday  Day 4- A soul searching decision was not required. There was mist over the creek with blue sky and brilliant sunshine overhead.I was on the trail by 10:30 am. It was a very pleasant gradually ascending trail until the new bridge  then it got steeper, then steeper and steeper until it topped out a little after 1400hrs. On the way to Lake O’Hara the trail passed by Schaffer Lake. I completed the 13.5k at the campsite by 1500hrs. The park warden briefed the campers on the rules. The area has a bad bear problem so the rules needed to be followed. I had plans for a nice meal at the lodge but no luck. I figured I was too dirty and unkept for a sit down meal so after a snack and a stroll around the lake I set up camp turned in for the night around 200hrs.

Friday Day 5- Heavy rain  with thunder and lightning woke me up in the early hours of the Morning, It was right on schedule. The weather forecast called for a thunderstorm around 6am and it arrived right on schedule. As the storm progressed the rain changed to a rustling sound that puzzled me until my tent collapsed under the weight of accumulated snow. There wasn’t sense in trying to get things back to normal and going back to bed. I packed up my gear and headed to the cooking shed to meet the 7:30am bus that was leaving for  the Lake O’hara parking Lot. We reached the parking lot by 08:30 It was another beautiful sunny day pretty. In summary it was a 52k hike with four overnights on the trail. It was a good introduction to extended back packing in the park. I learnt I needed to continue to improve my gear. Reduce the weight, a better tent that didn’t collapse under the weight of snow; and some rain gear would be a good start for the following year. And don’t forget the camera next time. I picked up the car from the parking lot and drove back to Marble Canyon to pick up the bike before heading back to Cranbrook. I had hiked a total of 85k, cycled 52k.

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Postscript: Some time in the future I would have liked to redo an extended repeat of the Rockwall Trail by starting at the Floe Lake Trail and continuing all the way through to Lake O’Hara with lots of overnights on the way. Or even better start at Lake O’Hara hike all the way through to Floe Lake then hike all the way back and take lots of photos. That was not to be …. Bear activity closed the  Goodsir Pass – Lake O’Hara section for a number of years. Instead I went on to work my way through a list of many of the other backpacking trips and solo day hikes in the parks.

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Read any Good Books Lately (#17) – Anthony Grey

Anthony Grey OBE (born 5 July 1938) is a British journalist and author. As a journalist for Reuters he was imprisoned by the Chinese government for 27 months from 1967 to 1969.  He has written a series of historical novels and non-fiction books, including several relating to his detention.  Three of his most successful novels are Peking, Saigon, and Tokyo Bay.

Peking: An Epic Novel of Twentieth-Century China (1982)

“This epic novel of a wide-eyed missionary and a rebellious woman thrust into China’s Communist revolution is “an excellent read, panoramic in scope” (Financial Times).

In 1931, young English-born missionary Jakob Kellner brings all the crusading passion of his untried Christian faith to a China racked by famine and bloody civil war. He burns to save the world’s largest nation from Communism.

But when he is swept along on the cold, unforgiving Long March, Jakob becomes entangled with Mei-ling, a beautiful and fervent revolutionary. Soon, powerful new emotions challenge and reshape his faith—and entrap him forever in the vast country’s tortured destiny.

Once held hostage by Red Guards in Peking for more than two years, author Anthony Grey traces the path of China’s Communist party from its covert inception through purge and revolution. He crafts a portrait of China as a land of great beauty and harshness—of triumph and tragedy—in a sweeping narrative, rich in historical and cultural revelations” …… Amazon books

Saigon: An Epic Novel of Vietnam (1988)

“An epic saga of love, blood, and destiny in twentieth-century Vietnam: “This superb novel could well be the War and Peace of our age” (San Francisco Chronicle).

Joseph Sherman first visits Saigon—the capital of French colonial Cochin-China—as a young man on his father’s hunting trip in 1925. But the exotic land lures him back again and again as a traveler, soldier, and reporter. He returns because of his fascination for the enchanting city—and for Lan, a mandarin’s daughter he cannot forget.

Over five decades Joseph’s life becomes enmeshed with the political intrigues of two of Saigon’s most influential families, the French colonist Devrauxs, and the native Trans. In this sweeping saga of tragedy and triumph, Joseph witnesses Vietnam’s turbulent, war-torn fate. He is there when millions of coolies rise against the French, and during their bloody last stand at Dien Bien Phu. And he sees US military “advisors” fire their first shots in America’s hopeless war against the Communist revolution.

A story of adventure, love, war, and political power, Saigon presents an enthralling and enlightening depiction of twentieth-century Vietnam.”  …….. Amazon Books

Tokyo Bay: A Novel of Japan (1996)

“This is a thrilling novel of the West’s first journeys to Japan from “a master storyteller” and the acclaimed author of Saigon and Peking (The Kansas City Star).

A fleet of ships billowing black smoke steam past Japan’s tributary islands in July 1853, setting off panic among a people who have been sealed off from the rest of the world for over two hundred years. Commodore Matthew Perry has arrived, sent by the US president to open Japan to American ships and trade—by force, if necessary.

Navy lieutenant Robert Eden, an idealistic New Englander, immediately recognizes that the colonial intentions of his countrymen will ignite a violent conflict with the feudal, sword-wielding samurai. Inspired to pursue peace, he jumps ship and finds himself plunged into a world of frightful and noble warriors, artfully exotic geishas, and a distraught populace who view the Americans as monsters.

Eden tries to bridge the divide between two proud, unyielding cultures in the name of morality, but he may not survive to see the lasting harmony he hopes to create.” ….. Amazon Books.

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I have read both Peking and Saigon and I can recommend both without  hesitation or reservation. The third novel,  Tokyo Bay is on my must read list. I like historical novels. I suppose it is because of an urge for self improvement. So if it is a good read and I feel that I have learnt something relevant then I am more than happy to enjoy the experience and pass on a recommendation. Both of these novels fall into that category.  Of the two Saigon, for me, is the most rewarding. I have lived through a significant portion of the period portrayed in the  novel. The Vietnam War was a major political event of my youth. I remember the conscription of my buddies into the army. Many of my friends were lucky to survive the war unharmed.  Outside of Australia few people are aware of Australia’s role in the war and the political turmoil and demonstrations associated with the military conscription of Australian youth to fight a war that most Australians did not understand. The American and Vietnamese military causalities were high and as a nation Vietnam was devastated at every level.  America was humiliated and still bears the scars this foolish military and political venture. Every day this horror story was played out before ours eyes on TV and in the newspapers.  Anthony Grey’s novel of the era reflects the issues and emotions of the day. In retrospect it is hard to realize that while I was living a fairly uneventful life in Sydney Australia there was this horror show going on all around us.

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Some afterthoughts about the novels. America’s involvement in China and Vietnam demonstrate the uncanny ability the Americans have of “backing the wrong horse”. Despite their revolutionary history, espousal of democratic ideals and ample opportunities to do the “right thing”  the USA seem to be hell bent on making bad decisions. The history of American foreign policy is littered with toppled democratic regimes and gross interference in the domestic affairs of other countries. Here is a short list – Overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy; Annexation of the Philippines; Political interference in Central America; The 1953 overthrow of the democratically elected Iranian government; Support for the Shah of Iran; The fall of the Allende government in Chile; The war on the Taliban; and the list just goes on and on. Of course there were success stories. World War II had some good outcomes even if the US was more or less forced to do the right thing. I think Winston Churchill said something like “the Americans will do the right thing, eventually”.

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Postscript:

Also well worth reading is Stanley Karnow’s Vietnam : A History – The First Complete Account of Vietnam at War

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Back Country

If you live in the interior of British Columbia, Canada, then everything just beyond your back yard fence is “Back Country”. In the summer if you step off any back country road you are surrounded by nothing but magnificent forests and spectacular mountains and in the winter, piles and piles of deep snow. It is a playground for hikers, runners, climbers  and cyclists in the summer and in the winter, deep powder nirvana for skiers and snowboarders.  The end result is that for us British Columbians we have a preconceived notion of what “Back Country” and “Back Country recreation” looks like. In Scotland those notions are turned completely on their head. For starters all land in Scotland is owned by someone. It’s an historical thing that dates dates way back to the old Clan system and earlier. So, technically by indulging in back country pursuits in Scotland you would be trespassing but it’s not really like that. There is the notion of common usage and access that has been re-enforced in recent years by legislation. So provided you adhere to some simple basic rules  there is a “Freedom to Roam” where you will. But given that, these videos would lead us to believe that “Scottish Back Country recreation” requires stamina and dedication that is a bit beyond the Canadian experience.

So here are a couple of videos about Scottish Back Country…….. without a helicopter in sight and with the added bonus of some haunting music.

It is summer time in this following video it is an out right lie. There is never that much sunshine on the Isle of Skye. I’ve been there so take my word for it. But, with the right amount of Drambuie,  the spectacular scenery can be a very pleasurable experience.

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POSTSCRIPT #1:

These  two videos hit my nostalgia buttons big time. My wife took me to Scotland in the early 1970s to meet her family. This was followed up by a number of family trips in the  mid to late 1970s. During the trips we did some touring around the highlands and some hiking through some of pretty spectacular country. We did a trip to the Isle of Skye and my memories include learning that in the north the “wee free church” of Scotland locks down the entire countryside on Sunday. People go to church twice a day, spend time praying and it is impossible to even get a meal until things return to normal on Monday. I remember being cold. Coming from Canada I didn’t think it would be possible to actually feel the  cold like I felt on the Isle of Skye. We were staying in a youth hostel at Uig and every evening it required a walk down the road to a pub for a Drambuie to get a “wee heat” before going off to bed.

Hiking in Scotland tends to be a soggy affair. Gum boots are more useful than hiking boots.    

I did a number of solo trips including a a ridge walk on the Five Sisters of Kintail plus a hike through Glenn Afric.

Scotland is a very special place. Ahh ………. The lost days of our youth.

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POSTSCRIPT #2 – Ice Climbing in Scotland

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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…….

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“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.'”

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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”.

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