...between reality and what's reported by the news.

ISSUE 1   July 2023
ISSN 2993­-8589
Copyright © 2023 by ALC Press, All rights reserved
Portland, Oregon, USA

This is the first issue of a newsletter for those whose main news source is cable television. News networks like Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC tend to be highly biased and are greatly influenced by the two political parties and their wealthy donors. This newsletter will strive to present facts without partisan and media bias.

The name “The Gap” represents the gap between objective reality and the spin placed on stories reported by the press.

This is a copy of The Gap printed to paper. It's missing the links to the additional information you may need to fully appreciate the significance of the stories. It's best to view The Gap online here:

CNN No Friend to Railroad Workers

In December 2022, railroad workers demanded paid sick leave in their new contracts with the rail companies. They threatened to strike if they didn’t get it. CNN's coverage of this news story tended to be critical of the workers and pushed the narrative of the rail companies.

CNN’s reporting focused on the $2 billion per day loss to the U.S. economy if a strike shut down U.S. railroads. There was some mention of the far lower cost of providing rail workers with paid sick time but this was on specific shows like Jake Tapper. Generally, CNN demonized the rail workers for leveraging the only power they had.

Here are examples of audio from CNN reporting:

CNN’s own workers get more paid sick time than the rail workers were asking for. These cable TV “news” networks don’t just report the news, they try to shape it as well, to the detriment of American workers.

Earlier in 2022, UK rail workers were striking for increased wages. An ITV talking head asked the union's General Secretary if he was a Marxist. Here's that General Secretary standing up to a hostile Sky News interview.

Veterans Hoax

In May 2023, numerous news organizations carried a story about veterans who had been removed from the Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh, N.Y., to make room for “immigrants from New York City.” NY GOP Assemblyman Brian Maher appeared on Fox News to break the story:

New York Post front page

The New York Post featured the story on their front page.

Within a day, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and President Joe Biden were blamed for this mistreatment of veterans. Conservatives reacted to the story with predictable outrage, which included threats to the hotel staff.

A few days later, the Mid-Hudson News reported that Sharon Toney-Finch, a veteran and the founder of the veterans' organization YIT Foundation, Inc. hired twenty homeless men to pose as veterans and claim that they had been removed from the hotel to make room for immigrants. The homeless men say they were promised food, alcohol, and $200 in cash to make these false claims.

Here's Laura Ingraham of Fox News with her retraction of the story:

Brian Maher is now asking the New York State Attorney General’s office and the Orange County District Attorney to investigate the matter. We, at The Gap, phoned the District Attorney's office for comment, but they didn't respond. Maher, Fox News, and The Post should have vetted the story before reporting it, but didn’t. This hoax was only revealed through serious investigative reporting by local papers.

Foreign Aid

Although U.S. aid to other countries is less than one percent of the federal budget, the budget is huge, so foreign aid is not a small amount. Here are two aspects of foreign aid you should think about:

U.S. foreign aid often comes with strings attached. For example, if the aid is for military weaponry, the money must be spent buying weapons from U.S. manufacturers (or allies). This helps the U.S. economy, employment, and defense contractor profitability.

However, U.S. defense contractors donate substantial amounts to political parties, so they have no difficulty getting what they want. The military budget increases year after year unopposed by either political party.

Clean Coal and Trees

There has been progress in recent decades “scrubbing” toxic gases and chemicals from the flues of coal-fired power plants, thus reducing (not eliminating) the acid rain that pollutes our lakes and rivers and has negative health effects on people. However, there is no inexpensive way to scrub and sequester carbon dioxide (CO2), a major contributor to climate change.

The coal industry uses the term “Clean Coal” to try to create the belief that coal can be non-polluting like renewable and nuclear energy. That goal can only be achieved at great expense. It's less expensive to develop real non-polluting energy generation.

In mid-July, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced a plan to plant one trillion* trees to fight the climate change that his party appears to finally be recognizing:

Trees convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, but one trillion trees would require over 2 billion acres of land, according to scientists. The entire United States occupies about 2.43 billion acres, so this would need to be a cooperative, multi-national effort. This is a tall order given that the world is losing trees to deforestation every year.

Would a massive program to plant one trillion trees worldwide help with climate change? Of course it would, but switching from burning coal to less polluting energy production would help much more. Doing both would be nice.

* 1 trillion = 1,000 billion or 1 million million

College Costs

Frequently missing from the student loan debate is the fact that the cost of attending college had risen substantially over the years. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is part of the U.S. Department of Education. It publishes historical data of college costs since 1963.

This table shows the average cost of tuition and fees for private and public colleges in 2022 dollars, so it's been adjusted for inflation.


For both public and private colleges, the cost has roughly quadrupled since 1963. Other college costs have also increased at rates far greater than inflation. Many textbooks that costs $20 in 1990 ($44.78 in 2022 dollars) now cost around $150.

Then there are those colleges that were free to attend in the past. For example, Rice University in Houston was free from 1912 to 1963 but it is about $57,000 today. Note that Rice didn't admit Black students until 1963, after it was non-free.

In January 2022, Rice and 15 other private universities were accused of being “a price-fixing cartel” in a suit brought by former students.

College cost increases should be considered in any discussion of student debt but usually are not.

Middle East Democracies

When U.S. support for Israel is mentioned on cable TV shows, it's justified it by saying that Israel is the only secular democracy in the Middle East. That may be true today but it wasn't true in the past.

Before 1953, Iran was also a secular democracy with strong ties to the West. Until 1978, Iranians dressed in Western clothes, women wore French fashions, and had chic hair doos they picked from French fashion magazines.

Iranians before the Islamic Revolution. Photo taken before 1978.
Photo taken before 1978

In July 1952, Iranians elected a progressive government led by Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, who would have used the proceeds from oil sales to fund infrastructure and social programs. But the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company didn’t want to pay market rates for Iranian oil and refused to allow Iran to audit their books. Iran’s parliament responded by voting to nationalize Iranian oil production.

The US and British spy agencies engineered a coup d'état that overthrew Iran’s democratic government and installed a puppet government led by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, known in the Western press as “the Shah of Iran.” The Shah converted Iran's democracy into an authoritarian government friendly to U.S. and British business interests. The Shaw ruled Iran for 25 years.

In 1978, the Shah's government was overthrown by an Islamic Revolution that turned Iran’s government into an Islamic theocracy that now hates the United States, Britain, and Israel. They imprisoned Americans who worked at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. A future newsletter will cover how those hostages were eventually released.

If the U.S. and Britain had not staged the coup d'état in 1953, Iran would today likely be a secular democracy friendly to the U.S. (and possibly Israel) with McDonald’s restaurants, Dunkin Donuts, and no nuclear weapons program.

We Created a Monster

NASA Project Mercury

American citizens bootstrapped industries that no longer share the wealth. America’s space program will be used to make the point, but this applies to many industries.

Private capital didn't create the space industry. It was bootstrapped by public dollars. When we used our shared pool of money to fund its research and development, it was not a business investment inspiring us to reach for the stars. It was a shared pioneering spirit, initiated by a president with vision, that had us glued to our TV sets as science fiction became reality.

Private industry benefited from this program. Many technologies and products came to market as a result of NASA discoveries and public-domain inventions. Average Americans benefited from employment opportunities. These corporations and their wealthy owners paid adequate taxes to fund our social needs.

Starting with the Reagan administration, taxes were slashed for corporations and wealthy individuals. The spoils of capitalism now flow mostly to the top.

America's citizens—the ground-floor investors who ensured the success of many of these companies—are repaid with low wages and poor benefits, and their political parties do little to help. The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour since 2009 and about 27 million Americans have no health insurance.

Three Branches of Government

In November 2020, Brett Baier on Fox News said the three branches of government are “the White House, the House, and the Senate.”:

That’s wrong. The three branches are the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judiciary. There have been talking heads on liberal media who also got this wrong.

Many Americans are confused by this. So here are some facts:

  1. The U.S. Congress is the name of the Legislative Branch of the United States.
  2. The U.S. Congress is bicameral, consisting of two chambers: the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
  3. A member of the U.S. Senate is a U.S. Senator.
  4. A member of the U.S. House of Representatives is a U.S. Representative.
  5. Both Senators and Representatives are Congressmen.
  6. The “U.S.” before the titles distinguish them from members of state legislatures. Most states have bicameral legislatures as well, just like the federal government.

Republican Gun Confiscation

Sao Tome/Africa map

In 2004, the Republican Party dominated the U.S. government's executive and legislative branches. George W. Bush was president, and both houses of Congress had Republican majorities. They presided over a firearms confiscation program resulting in a huge homicide rate reduction!

Yes, this happened, but not in the U.S.

In February 2004, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency granted Sao Tome (an African island nation in the Gulf of Guinea) $800,000 to collect firearms from Sao Tome citizens and destroy them. How effective was the gun confiscation program in Sao Tome?

The homicide rate fell from 5.4 per 100,000 people to 0.7 — a 7.7 times reduction!

The homicide rate in the United States was 7.8 per 100,000 people in 2020. Maybe the Republicans can bring their Sao Tome success to the U.S.

São Tomé e Príncipe: The difficult transition from aid-dependent cocoa producer to petrol state

Rocket Reusability

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket landing
Falcon-9 rocket landing

What would the cost of an airline ticket be if airlines had to use a new aircraft every time they flew passengers from one place to another?

Sounds ridiculous, right?

Yet, that’s what happened every time satellites were launched before SpaceX came along. Every launch resulted in the rocket falling into the ocean, and a new rocket had to be used for the next launch. This still happens when other companies launch satellites.

SpaceX pioneered rocket reusability. After the rocket deploys the satellite, the rocket returns, lands, and is used again. Reusable rockets have reduced the cost of launching satellites significantly.

When the US government launches its satellites, it now spends about 25 to 30% of what it used to spend – if they launch with SpaceX.

The world’s oceans are also a beneficiary of SpaceX rocket reusability. As of the publication of this issue, 200 SpaceX rockets have been recovered and reused. This means 200 rocket bodies and their 9 engines each (1,800 engines total) are not lying on the bottom of the oceans.

Since the start of the space program, at least 5,120 U.S.-launched rockets have ended up in our oceans.

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In Upcoming Issues

Can't teach an Old Navy New Tricks—In 1932, the U.S. Navy ignored the results of a military exercize that successfully attacked Pearl Harbor because it didn't conform to their beliefs and prejudices. But those results taught Japan how to attack Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Congressmen and their stocks—Many Congressmen significantly increase their net worth after becoming Senators or Representatives. Insider trading in Congress has been a problem for years, and the 2012 Stock Act did little to solve the problem.


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