Here’s Today’s News You Didn’t Get

latest news

As a democratic republic, it is our duty to know what’s going on in the world and to direct our government to protect our interests. Unfortunately, these days our leaders only give us the “mushroom management” treatment, and the news media follows in tow.  If you don’t know what “mushroom management” is, check here.

While we gnash our teeth over the latest headlines – who Donald Trump offended today, what flag is flying where, and whether we will be sued if our barbecue smoke wafts over the neighbor’s fence – there is real international news taking place about which we are kept clueless. Here’s a sampling of news items you did not hear about today:

In a recent three-week period the Shanghai composite stock market lost a third of its value, and after a short reprieve, it dropped another 8.5% yesterday, as China’s economy shudders through a slowdown and a crisis of investor confidence.  The 21-day loss in value exceeded four trillion dollars.  Meanwhile, we are fixated on Greece, whose entire annual GDP is around $200 billion.  If China’s economy craters, it could have a profound effect on our own economy.  Wouldn’t it be nice if somebody told us what’s going on?  Do we even have diplomatic relations with China?

According to a top Indian nuclear scientist, Pakistan has the fastest-growing nuclear weapons program in the world and expects to have 200 nuclear warheads by 2020. Most of them are aimed at neighboring India, and they have developed a serious stockpile of high-tech intermediate-range missiles. The BBC reported that Saudi Arabia intends to buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan. There is international concern that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal could fall into the hands of terrorists. The Pakistanis also recently bought eight submarines from the Chinese.   When is the last time you heard anything about Pakistan?

Nigeria’s exports dropped 27% from the same period last year due to declining oil prices and the “unpredictable political environment.”  The Nigerian government continues to battle Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group, while simultaneously trying to restore its police services and pay its teachers for months of back wages.  Meanwhile, reports emerged that a former Nigerian minister stole $6 billion of public money.  Life in Nigeria is rough these days.

Russia’s arms manufacturers are enjoying rapidly growing revenues despite western sanctions and a weak economy. President Vladimir Putin’s drive to modernize his military and the booming trade in arms exports has provided a double-digit annual growth windfall for Russia’s defense industry.  Simultaneously, China continues to build military facilities and claim ever-greater chunks of the South China Sea for economic and military purposes.  While our adversaries expand their forces, the Obama administration announces further cuts in US military power.

We know that the news business is not what it used to be.  It is naive to think that anything other than the most salacious and shallow headlines will ever appear above the fold.  Nor can we expect our government to keep us enlightened.  A few of us are blessed with representatives who go out of their way to keep constituents informed and involved. Most federal officials are only concerned with their re-election and power, and our money.  So it’s all the more crucial that we make the extra effort, as citizens of the still-greatest nation on earth, to be informed about what’s happening in the world.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Daddy is a rare millionaire
I don’t care
Yeah you got the muscle
I got the news

I Got the News – Steely Dan

 

 

Yesterday’s News

newsOne year ago the news media fixated on a single story for several weeks.  It was so terribly important that it superceded everything else that was going on in the world.  It was as if nothing else mattered – this story was so critical to the life and welfare of every American that there was no room for any other news.   Even President Obama had to take time from his schedule to express his concern and thoughts about the topic.

Don’t remember?  Does the name Trayvon Martin ring a bell?

What have you heard about him lately?  Do you know how the case turned out?  Has anything changed in our lives because of the Florida incident in which Martin, a neighborhood watch volunteer, followed a young man he thought was suspicious, and ended up shooting him in a scuffle?

My point is this:  our news industry has devolved to the point where they now pick a salacious and often irrelevant or marginal news story and  elevate it to crisis pitch, while ignoring everything else that happens worldwide.   If the Trayvon Martin case was so earth-shakingly important, why have you not heard anything about it for a year?

Whatever happened to the Occupy Wall Street crowd?  Our media elites climbed all over each other to recount every syllable uttered by a tiny group of incoherent losers, affording them status on par with world leaders and history-makers.  Where are they now?  What happened?  Is it possible that MAYBE THEY WEREN’T NEWSWORTHY IN THE FIRST PLACE?

The media was quick to report that the Tea Party is dead.  It isn’t.  But the Occupy Movement sure as hell is.  Who is reporting on that?

Remember all the hoo-hah about ObamaCare?  We would all die if it was implemented.   Or we would all die if it was NOT implemented.  Either way, we were all going to die.  Three years later, not much has happened.

Michael Jackson.  Lady Diana.  Stories about pop culture icons deserve a headline, not an entire page of the calendar.

It’s a sad fact that the news business has become so much more business than news.  Rather than reporting actual news and letting the informed public determine what is important to them, the media now chooses the story it feels has the most commercial potential and milks it to the bloody end.

So when you see today’s front-page bold-type stop-the-presses big story, don’t get your underwear in a knot.  There’s a good chance it will be completely forgotten a year from now.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Who wants yesterday’s papers?
Who wants yesterday’s girl?
Who wants yesterday’s papers?
Nobody in the world!

Yesterday’s Papers – the Rolling Stones

Cowboys and Cowgirls Needed – Apply Now

john_wayneI am more concerned every day about the lack of leadership in our national affairs.   As the well-being and security of our citizens continues to decline, the dearth of leadership among our federal political officials becomes more evident and more critical.

There’s a big difference between leadership and arrogance.  Just saying “follow me” isn’t helpful when the leader is stumbling off a cliff.  A true leader must have:

  • vision – a clear understanding of the situation as it is and the correct path to what it should be
  • honesty – zero-tolerance of any person or action motivated by personal gain ahead of mission
  • optimism and inspiration – the genuine desire to make things better for all, and the belief that improvement is not only possible, it is necessary
  • resolve – shared goals that are unshakeable, and determination to accomplish those goals
  • responsibility and accountability – willingness to shoulder burdens for the benefit of others, to admit and recover from failures, and to be open to criticism
  • courage – the ability to stay cool under fire and focused on the goal

Where are the true leaders today?  We have plenty of idealogues.  Demagoguery has become an art form.  Politicians have learned to exploit the weaker instincts of their constituents – fear, envy, selfishness and laziness – using psychology to manipulate voters.  Public officials seem to be only inspired to gain and hold power, without even bothering to seek solutions.

Where are the principled journalists?  The pursuit of truth has been replaced by a vapid addiction to titillation and sensationalism.  We are told that “sex sells”, and that the pursuit of profit is now the sole motivator in the the news business.  That in itself is deceitful because consumers of news are not given a choice.  The reality is our elite news media seek to empower themselves using the same psychological manipulations employed by our self-serving political leaders.

Is the lack of leadership a symptom of what’s wrong with America?  Or is it the cause?  Do we still believe that the qualities of true leadership matter?  Do we employ them in our own lives?

I contend that we don’t need more new ideas.  We don’t need more laws.  We certainly don’t need more self-absorbed charlatans in public office.

We can get out of this mess and back on the right track.  We just need to find, encourage, elevate, and empower true leaders at every level of our society, bottom to top.    Are you one?

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Where is my Marlboro man?
Where is his shiny gun?
Where is my lonely ranger?
Where have all the cowboys gone?

Where Have All the Cowboys Gone – Paula Cole

Those Wacky Guys at Pravda

Today’s headlines:

USA still tries to destroy Russia from within, through NGOs

“Obama Phenomenon – Hope and Disappointment”

“Israel’s Terrorism Internationally Condemned”

“Russia to Return to Afghanistan After US Occupation”

“Japan Gets Into Cat Fight With Every Neighbor”

You may have already guessed that these headlines are from Pravda, the Russian news source.  I have been quick to criticize our US news media, blaming the demise of our fourth estate for many of America’s ills.  We no longer have an informed populace.  Much of our nation gets its news from the Comedy Channel, and it’s probably just as well.  Yes, the state of our news industry is grim.

But it could be worse.

Every once in a while, just for grins, I pop over to Pravda’s English-version website.  I can’t quite figure out what the Russian writers are up to.   Their “news” stories are all editorials, without any pretense of impartiality or need to present facts.  I’ll bet the journalism classes at Moscow University are a hoot.

This exerpt from a typical Pravda hard-news story is an example of the unbiased and fact-driven reporting Russians enjoy with their morning coffee:

How can the disaster of a genocidal war in Gaza be prevented? In last 4 days they (Israel) have bombed non-military targets in Gaza killing 41 Palestinians, among them 28 civilians including eight children and a pregnant woman, had been killed in Gaza since Israel began operations. Three Israeli civilians were killed by a rocket on Thursday. The world will have to make a choice. One way to put Israel into its place might be the decision of the UN to support the demand for an independent Palestinian state. This would give the Palestinians security and a standing in the world to speak for themselves. It definitely would contribute to peace in the region and the World.

The funny thing is, Pravda also includes an “Opinion” section.

You know, maybe we should check the college transcripts of the staff over at MSNBC – any U of M (Moscow) grads, do you think?

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

I’m living a life of constant change
Every day means the turn of a page
Yesterdays papers are such bad news
Same thing applies to me and you

Yesterday’s Papers – the Rolling Stones