A Few Thoughts

1. I got my hair cut this afternoon. My barber was a 49 year old woman originally from the Philippines, now a U.S. citizen. We began to talk about President Duterte and his war on drug dealers and users. According to news reports, Duterte campaigned on an anti-drug program. HE encouraged the killing of both pushers and users, and thousands of people have been killed extrajudicially by the army, police or vigilante groups. Although Duterte faces international condemnation, polling has showed he is surprisingly popular in the Philippines. 

Back to the barber shop: my barber was an unabashed fan of Duterte. She believes that the people being targeted are not simple addicts or low level runners, but people at or near the top – established businessmen, government officials and the wealthy. Of course, this is not what has been reported, but she is convinced.

She also believes that, prior to Dutarte, the Philippines was a failing, corrupt, crime ridden society, and that Duterte has changed that. It is now a much safer, and more pleasant place. Again, this is not what the media is reporting.

Of course, I know little about the Philippines and I didn’t try to argue too hard with the barber (of course, she was the one with the scissors and razors). But how different is this from Trump supporters in this country. It shows a type of thinking, not limited to the United States, not limited to the Philippines, but common to people world-wide. I didn’t ask her, but – for example – is there any question but that my barber is a Trump supporter?

2. I don’t own an HD2 radio. I’m not even sure I know what an HD2 radio is. But WAMU, American University’s very popular NPR station, has long had (and I think still has) an HD2 station which specializes in bluegrass music. Some months ago, I discovered that I could listen to this station at 105.5 on the regular FM dial.

Today, however, this is no longer the case. Go to 105.5 FM and you hear all-talk Radio Sputnik, the English language voice of the Russian government masquerading as a news station. Radio Sputnik is as offensive as right wing talk radio, but its bias is not alt-right but rather pro-Putin. I listened for about 20 minutes, learning how US sanctions on Russia were going to undermine the security of NATO and that Europe was 100 percent against them, that the Russians have no claim on the Baltic states and how different that situation is from the Ukraine (a recent victim of a US orchestrated coup) where the people wanted Russian intervention, that the US might militarily invade Venezuela, and that North Korean bombs and missiles are no big deal.

What’s going on here? How did bluegrass turn into Russian propaganda? To answer this question, I turned to Professor Wikipedia. I quote:

“This came on the heels of a late June 2017 announcement that Radio Sputnik would sublease Reston, Virginia licensed translator station W288BS  (105.5 FM) from Reston Translator, LLC, which transmits,from the WIAD tower in Bethesda, Maryland and begin broadcasting Sputnik on that signal….Sputnik cannot own an American radio station outright due to FCC rules against foreign ownership of broadcast assets, as enacted in the Communications Act of 1934. Prior to July 1, 2017, Radio Sputnik…had broadcast in the Washington DC area on WTOP-HD2 (103.5HD2) since June 2013”.

As I said, I don’t understand HD2 radio. I guess I don’t understand subleasing FM stations, I don’t understand what a translator station is. But I do understand that THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE. You agree?