Trump administration joins alt right media to peddle fake news

The Trump administration, which regularly complains about fake news that mischaracterizes the achievements of the president, doesn’t mind engaging in the practice to advance its agenda.

The latest example involves the devastating wild fires that swept California’s wine country. While authorities are no where close to determining how the fires started, the alt right media is naming it own culprits.

Breitbart and Infowars  ran a story earlier this week claiming a homeless man, Jesus Gonzales, was arrested “on suspicion of arson in Wine Country fires that have killed at least 40 residents.”

Both news outlets cited an article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat as their source of the information. But the PD story reported Gonzales was arrested for starting a small fire in a Sonoma regional park where he sleeps regularly and is known to law enforcement.

Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said there is no truth to the rumor Gonzales started the Wine County fires. The suspect was stopped by deputies after he was seen leaving a creek bed at the park with a plume of smoke rising behind him. “(Deputies) asked him if he started the fire, and he said he started the fire to warm himself up,” Giordano said.

The fire was so small that a deputy almost extinguished the fire by himself before fire fighters arrived, the sheriff added.

Then there is GotNews.com, which ran a story claiming the fires were “started by Mexican drug cartels in order to gain a strategic advantage over the legal marijuana industry.” The article didn’t include one quote or named source, claiming it got the information from Homeland Security, “law enforcement officials” and people involved in the marijuana industry.

The so-called news site is run by notorious troll Chuck C. Johnson, who regularly advances “often-xenophobic conspiracy theories,” according to Snopes. Like Breitbart and Infowars, GotNews is peddling its anti-immigrant agenda.

If you think Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would take a more responsible approach to the subject, you’re wrong. The federal agency issued a press release with the following headline: “ICE Director: Suspected Wine Country Arsonist Is Illegal Mexican National.”

The release warned of Sonoma County’s “repeated release of (a) dangerous criminal alien.” But if you read half way down the press release, you come across the following: “…it is not clear what role the fires Gonzales allegedly set played in the overall disaster.”

(We knew people in the Trump administration couldn’t spell. They can’t write coherent sentences either.)

Giordano called the press release “inaccurate, inflammatory” information. “ICE’s misleading statements stir fear in some of our community members who are already exhausted and scared,” the sheriff added.

Of course, ICE is just doing its part to advance Trump’s anti-immigration agenda and build support for his “big, beautiful” wall. No wonder the president loves news sources like Breitbart.

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Posted in Donald Trump, Politics, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

As long as we’re on the subject of misleading the public…

Jeff “Podunk” Pelline just loves to find reasons for criticizing The Union, even stooping to making selective use of the facts if that’s what it takes to get in a cheap shot.

Jeffie’s latest tantrum involves an item in the “Hits & Misses” feature The Union runs every Thursday. One of the “misses” this week was aimed at “insurance companies dropping home insurance policies–or no longer writing them–in Nevada County.”

Under the headline “The Union shows it is clueless about the home insurance business,” Podunk writes on his blog that “The Union is way behind in it’s reporting, as usual. This has been an ongoing problem–long before the recent fires. You wonder about The Union’s sourcing and experience.”

What Podunk didn’t bother to tell his readers is that the paper’s criticism was prompted by a page one story in the same edition reporting that insurance companies have declared a moratorium on policies for houses being sold in Nevada County in the wake of the Lobo and McCourtney fires, a disturbing new development in the local market.

Of course, now that most people get their news from Facebook and other online sources of accurate information, it’s unlikely Podunk’s regular readers saw the story in The Union. That’s what Jeffie’s banking on–ignorance.

Posted in Jeff Pelline, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Bear River, Colfax stagger into big showdown

Bear River is hosting Colfax tonight, one of its two major rivals in the Pioneer Valley League (Placer is the other). Both teams have several incentives to win this game.

After each team started the season 5-0, they have stumbled in their last two games. Colfax dropped its last 2 while the Bruins lost to a good Lincoln team and then barely beat a bad Foothill squad last week.

Both schools need league victories–a minimum of 2–to secure a position in post-season play. Bear River has 1 while Colfax has none, and the better the record, the higher the seed.

Finally, the close proximity of the 3 schools gives each an incentive to beat the other 2 and claim local bragging rights. Since Placer has already beaten Colfax, Bear River can set-up a showdown for local supremacy by dispatching the Falcons.

This week’s picks:

Colfax (5-2) over Bear River (6-1) by 2 points

Neither team has played well in its last two games. This game figures to go to the team that really wants it.

Granite Bay (5-2) over Nevada Union (2-6) by 19 points

Granite Bay finally gets an easy league game. The Miners are just playing out the season.

Placer (6-1) over Foothill (1-6) by 29 points

Foothill almost upset Bear River last week even though it was a prohibitive underdog. We’ll see if they have any energy left after a disappointing 1-point loss.

Results: Our picks went 3-1 last week, bringing the season record to 6-5. We’re going to have to finish strong to have a respectable season record.

Rankings: Bear River barely beat a weak team while Colfax lost to a strong Lincoln team and Placer beat a better-than-average Center squad. That was enough to drop the Bruins to third place in the Foothills 4 rankings.

  1. Colfax                   122.7
  2. Placer                   119.3
  3. Bear River           117.6
  4. Nevada Union     96.9
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Time for Bruins to regroup, Miners to play out the schedule

Bear River still has a chance to compile an excellent record, but Nevada Union is just playing out the schedule of another disappointing season after last week’s upset losses.

Meanwhile, Lincoln is the undisputed champion of western Nevada County football after dispatching first NU and now Bear River. Therein lies a story.

Lincoln coach Chris Bean was the JV coach at Bear River when he applied for the Lincoln job, and some Bruins partisans appealed to the Board of Trustees to fire the current coaches and hire Bean. Maybe they knew what they were talking about.

Nevada Union’s performance against Woodcreek showed the Miners are not only thin on talent, they are poorly coached and poorly prepared. But they did throw Woodcreek a lifeline.

“Woodcreek badly needed a win to keep the wheels from falling off,” Joe Davidson wrote in the Sacramento Bee, “and the Timberwolves delivered a heart-check rally in Grass Valley to salvage a season that still has legs.”

They were led by quarterback Carter Krupp, who threw for 4 TDs and ran for 3 others. You would think it would occur to the Miners’ coaches that they needed to give young Mr. Krupp special attention. Instead, he was nominated for Player of the Week by the Bee.

The Miners now finish their season against 3 of the 5 top rated teams in the region, beginning with No. 1 Folsom tonight. NU has lost 28 straight games in the Sierra Foothill League since 2012, and figures to extend the streak to 31 by the time the season’s over.

This week’s picks:

Bear River (5-1) over Foothill (1-5) by 40 points

Last week’s embarrassing loss to Lincoln should be more than enough to motivate the Bruins, even with Colfax looming on the horizon.

Folsom (7-0)  over Nevada Union (2-5) by 38 points

The Miners have no chance against the region’s top-ranked team. Woodcreek was their last chance to win a game this season.

Placer (5-1) over Center (4-2) by 7 points

This projects to be the closest game involving the Foothills 4, but the Hillmen have shown they can play with the big boys.

Colfax (5-1) over Lincoln (5-1) by 15.5 points

The Fighting Zebras (who comes up with these names?) may be the best team in western Nevada County, but they’ll have a tough time against a Colfax team that’s smarting from an upset.

All 3 of last week’s picks went down in flames, bringing our season record to a less-than-stellar 3-4. Apparently the Foothills 4 aren’t as easy to predict as I thought.

It turns out there was a computation error in the program I wrote to project the winners. I still would have picked the same teams to win last week, but fixing the error impacts the rankings of the Foothills 4. Here are new, revised, more accurate rankings:

  1. Bear River                  131.0
  2. Colfax                          129.8
  3. Placer                          113.0
  4. Nevada Union             98.3
Posted in Bear River football, Colfax football, Nevada Union football, Placer football, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bear Rivers looks to build on 5-0 record as league play begins; Nevada Union’s last chance for a football win this season

Bear River begins Pioneer Valley League play Friday against Lincoln with the confidence and momentum you would expect from a team that’s started the season 5-0.

The Bruins are also healthy and well rested, coming off a bye week. Lincoln (4-1) will be seeking the unofficial Nevada County football crown after defeating Nevada Union earlier this season.

Bear River has built its record on a solid ground game and a stingy defense that’s given up less than 9 points a game, limiting 4 of its opponents to 10 points or less. The Bruins haven’t played the toughest non-league schedule possible, but they’ve done what good teams do–beat up on weak sisters.

Speaking of weak sisters, Nevada Union faces the prospect of a 3-7 season as it takes on Woodcreek (1-5) this week. If they don’t win this game, the Miners figure to finish the season 2-8 because they have little chance against the last 3 teams on their schedule.

Woodcreek offers the seniors the opportunity to win their first–and probably last–Sierra Foothill League game during their 4 years at NU. (Hey, you have to take motivation wherever you can find it.)

Because the Miners were the only one of the Foothills 4 to play last week, there was little change in the rankings. That could change this week with Colfax visiting Placer. The rankings:

  1. Colfax                   123.5
  2. Bear River           121.2
  3. Nevada Union    101.2
  4. Placer                    96.0

This week’s picks

Bear River (5-0) over Lincoln (4-1) by 9 points

The Fighting Zebras are the toughest team BR has faced so far this season but the Bruins should have enough fire power to win.

Nevada Union (2-4)  over Woodcreek (1-5) by 13 points

This is a team the Miners can beat, and they better because the schedule gets really tough starting next week.

Colfax (5-0) over Placer (4-1) by 24.5 points

Colfax has played some really weak schools, but how good can the Hillmen be if their only loss is to NU?

Season Record: As predicted, NU lost to Del Oro last week, bringing the season record to 3-1.

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Social media won’t lead to greater enlightenment

Self-styled local media guru Jeff “Podunk” Pelline keeps insisting that social media is changing the way we communicate, presumably for the greater good.

The driving force behind this “revolution” is Facebook, the same outfit that just turned over to Congress 3,000 pages of ads purchased by a Russian front organization during the presidential campaign, ads that may have reached between 3 million and 20 million people on the social network.

This follows on the heels of accusations that Facebook allowed numerous fake articles to gain wide circulation during the campaign that may have influenced some voter in a tight race, a claim CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed as “crazy.”

All of this brought increased scrutiny from Congress and has drawn the attention of federal regulators, developments that can cause even the most arrogant mandarins of Silicon Valley to sit up straight and clear their throats. Some people think it’s about time.

“Increased scrutiny of Facebook is healthy,” wrote columnist Christopher Mims in The Wall Street Journal. “What went mainstream as a friendly place for loved ones to swap baby pictures and cat videos has morphed into an opaque and poorly understood metropolis rife with influence peddlers determined to manipulate what we know and how we think.”

Facebook is designed to prioritize thrilling posts and ads over dull ones, and rewards the cunning over  hapless, sincere users. Algorithms like Facebook’s News Feed tend to reward content that is intended to arouse our passions “regardless of source–even veracity,” Mims wrote.

As if on cue, Facebook’s “Crisis Response” feature was plagued by spam and scam pages almost immediately after the Las Vegas massacre hit the news wires. Its news stories included an article from Gateway Pundit, “Las Vegas Shooter Reportedly a Democrat Who Liked Rachel Maddow, MoveOn.org and Associated with Anti-Trump Army,”

This is the same outfit that pushed the Pizzagate story during the election campaign, but this new gem apparently wasn’t flagged by Facebook’s new and improved vetting process. The story went viral before it was taken down.

But this sort of stuff doesn’t seem to bother New Age media hipsters like Pelline, who was particularly impressed with how “Facebook lit up with ‘citizen journalist’ reports of the ‘love walk’…” held is downtown Grass Valley last Friday to protest the alleged harassment of a black teenager while he was walking down Mill Street.

The incident went viral when his father posted a video describing the incident, attracting more than 26,000 viewers. The video, Pelline wrote on his blog, “is a reminder of the power of social media in our towns, opening up new channels of communication that didn’t exist before–with signed responses.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean these new channels of communication foster more enlightened dialogue than old media, as comments on Pelline’s blog about the love walk illustrated.

In an effort to no doubt create greater understanding in the community, Podunk picked up a comment from the blog of local conservative Todd Juvinall, who wrote that he attended a meet-and-greet for sheriff’s candidate Bill Smethers when the racial incident came up in a conversation.

“”It was a vivid memory of a couple of past NU footballer (sic) players about their travel to Grant (a largely black high school in Sacramento). Some were afraid to exit the bus as they were surrounded and called names.”

That prompted a heated response from Chris Bishop, a teacher at Nevada Union who attended high school with Smethers:  “I find the post from Todd Juvinall extremely, extremely, extremely disturbing…”, then recounted positive experiences he had at Grant as a baseball player.

“For Bill to ‘reminisce’ about ‘travels to Grant’ is a revisionist memory that questions his ability to be a Law Enforcement Officer, or Todd is making it up.” None of this was attributed to Smethers in Juvinall’s post. Talk about reading comprehension!

Steve Frisch, head of something called the Sierra Business Council, didn’t point out Bishop’s mistake: “Chris, I would take anything Todd says with a massive grain of salt…”

Pelline, who reported the item, didn’t bother to correct either one of them. It took Juvinall, a high school graduate, to set straight these three college hot shots!

The new, improved social media will never remove the blinders people put on themselves.

Posted in Jeff Pelline, Media, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Miners weren’t in a game that should have been close

Nevada Union’s football team had a reasonable chance to beat Rocklin last week, giving the Miners their first Sierra Foothill League victory is over 4 years.

Unfortunately, the numbers didn’t account for the 4 turnovers and 10 penalties that led to 26 points for Rocklin.  That was enough to win a game where the final score was 39-22 Rocklin.

Three of the turnovers were interceptions, which is 2 more completions than NU managed to achieve. The passing game was 1 for 12 with 3 INT. That kind of performance won’t win at any level.

NU travels to Del Oro (3-2) Friday for its second league game. The numbers give Del Oro a slight edge, but a repeat of NU’s inept play will turn this game into another lopsided loss.

Bear River, Placer and Colfax won last week, and all three are off this week before starting league play. The ranking of the Foothills 4 remains unchanged:

  1. Colfax                        129.3
  2. Bear River                121.2
  3. Nevada Union         104.7
  4. Placer                        101.4

This week’s pick:

Del Oro (3-2) over Nevada Union (2-3) by 3 points

Last week’s picks:

We rated the games involving Nevada Union and Placer as toss-ups, your basic 50-50 propositions. As you would expect 1 won (Placer) and 1 lost (NU).

We had Colfax 55 points better than Wheatland, and they won 48-0. They must have played a lot of reserves in the second half.

SEASON RECORD: 2-1

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