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Beware Russian disinformation and those who spread it

In many ways, the war in Ukraine derives from Trump’s handling of Ukraine during his time as president. Trump parroted a Kremlin lie that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that had interfered in the 2016 election. President Zelenskyy appeared weak on the world stage when Trump attempted to shake him down with a quid pro quo – an investigation of Biden for weapons – even though a majority of Congress had long approved those weapons for Ukraine. By ousting Ambassador Yovanovitch, one of the strongest supporters of American support for Ukraine, Trump indicated that Ukraine was not important to the U.S. And by attempting to overturn Joe Biden’s legitimate win in the 2020 presidential race by inciting the Capitol insurrection of 1/6, Trump demonstrated to Putin that the U.S. was racked by domestic issues that would prevent the U.S. from assuming a leadership role if Putin were to invade Ukraine. Trump made America weaker, and made Ukraine weaker, and helped lay the conditions for the war in Ukraine and for the genocide now taking place there. Trump was a gift to Putin, but a disaster for the world.

But for many who subscribe to perspectives born of Kremlin disinformation, this reality does not exist. As a researcher of disinformation and authoritarianism, I believe readers here should take note of the convergence of Kremlin disinformation and American right-wing media, which was covered in a recent article by The Guardian. To be clear, Fox News is now abetting the Kremlin’s disinformation machine, especially with regard to the war in Ukraine. The influence of the Kremlin’s disinformation machine is global in nature and reaches across multiple online platforms in many languages. The effort to counter the Kremlin’s disinformation machine is led by the Global Engagement Center in cooperation with many civil society organizations, think-tanks and academic institutions. The primary objective of Kremlin disinformation is to destabilize its opponents from within – America and Ukraine included – by destroying our ability to trust our leaders, trust our media and trust any institutions that form the basis of our society.

Many regular contributors to this opinion column – Ulus, Donofry and Farley come to mind – have been quite fond of repeating many talking points at the convergence of Russian disinformation and American right-wing media. Perhaps these contributors do not realize that their opinion pieces are archived at northeasttimes.com and easily referenced by anyone with online access, and perhaps they do not realize there is a sizable Ukrainian diaspora in Northeast Philly, of which I am a part. If you support Ukraine and you support America, you will read the words of these contributors and understand those words for what they are: cynical propaganda that ultimately serves the Kremlin’s objectives to destroy America and Ukraine. The world needs hope, America needs hope, Ukraine needs hope, and Philadelphia needs hope. Hope is expensive, but cynicism is cheap. Beware useful idiots spreading cynicism and beware who ultimately benefits from its spread.

Michael A. Podgorski

Fox Chase

Pressure on Ketanji

For Philadelphians, there have been 3 black females chosen just because they were black females.

Two so far have been failures.

Our police commissioner and vice president.

The latest is a Supreme Court justice.

Hopefully 3’s a charm.

Mayer Krain

Modena Park

Benefits of animal health studies

The animal-rights group White Coat Waste Project portrays itself as a “champion for animals” (Letter to the Editor: A Champ for Animals – April 17) while at the same time lobbying to defund necessary health studies in animals.

Is this group not aware that animal studies are also necessary to advance veterinary medicine? Thanks to research in animals we have vaccines to prevent several serious diseases including rabies, parvovirus and feline leukemia. Medicines that combat dangerous pet parasites, like heartworms, come from animal research.  We also have new surgical procedures to help dogs and cats who are injured by cars.

And then … there are the human benefits. We are literally surrounded by the transformational impacts of health research that requires animals. From cancer therapies to blood pressure medications to countless surgical techniques, animal studies positively impact all of our lives.

It’s shameful that White Coat Waste Project ignores this obvious and well-documented reality.

Paula Clifford

Americans for Medical Progress

Biden policies not working

The only people who believe that the increase in gas prices is caused by Putin is the Biden administration. Before the war, the price of gas was in the $3.80-90 range. The initial impact of the war caused prices to increase to about $4.50. It’s now down to $4.10. The decrease isn’t because of the release of oil from the national reserve because that won’t be released until May 1. Eventually, it might sink in with Biden and his cronies that it’s his policies and inflation (8.5%) that are causing the havoc with gasoline and all other prices. Maybe one day the fog will clear and they will attempt to solve the problem.

Richard Donofry

East Torresdale

Disabilities no joke

The Will Smith slap of Chris Rock at the Oscars, in front of an audience of millions, for making a joke about his wife’s loss of hair due to a condition called alopecia has been in the news for weeks. Birth abnormalities like dwarfism, a missing limb as well as health conditions such as mental illness, intellectual disability, gender identity or alopecia are situations that people have no control over and should not be a subject for other people’s amusement. To make a joke about a dress that an actress wore is one thing. It is quite different than a joke about an unavoidable affliction. Who you are and what you do are two very different things. Compassion and empathy are appropriate, not ridicule. 

Mel Flitter

Somerton

Crack down on dirt bike riders

I can’t talk for all of Philly but I can for the Tacony section. For the past few years, young guys have been going through our streets and particularly on Torresdale Avenue with dirt bikes. The problem I have with this is that they have no regard for people and safety. These punks go through red lights and don’t even look to see if cars and people are crossing over. They do wheelies like it is a playground out there. They go in and out of heavy traffic and could confuse motorists. They just love to speed on by and they dash in front of SEPTA buses and dash away quickly. This is reckless as far as I am concerned. Somebody could really get hurt. Does our community have to put up with this kind of behavior much longer? How about we deal with this, and the police as well.

Gary Dwyer

Tacony

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