Here’s Today’s News You Didn’t Get

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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

 

 

Republican Fears in 1936 Same As Today

image by rarenewspapers.com

image by rarenewspapers.com

My wife bought me a book of selected front pages from the New York Times, from 1920 to 1976, at a garage sale and it is a treasure.  It imparts some amazing insights into the news and the history of our nation.  I was astonished as I read this article from 1936.

THE TEXT OF THE PLATFORM – Cleveland, June 11

Following is the text of the party platform as adopted by the
Republican National Convention tonight:

America is in peril.  The welfare of American men and women and the future of our youth are at stake.  We dedicate ourselves to the preservation of their political liberty, their individual opportunity and their character as free citizens, which today for the first time are threatened by government itself.

For three long years the administration has dishonored American traditions and flagrantly betrayed the pledge upon which the Democratic party sought and received public support.

The powers of Congress have been usurped by the President.

The integrity and authority of the Supreme Court have been flaunted.

The rights and liberties of American citizens have been violated.

Regulated monopoly has displaced free enterprise.

The administration constantly seeks to usurp the rights reserved to the States and to the people.

It has insisted on passage of laws contrary to the Constitution.

It has intimidated witnesses and interfered with the right of petition.

It has dishonored our country by repudiating its most sacred obligations.

It has been guilty of frightful waste and extravagance, using public funds for partisan political purposes.

It has promoted investigations to harass and intimidate American citizens, at the same time denying investigations into its own improper expenditures.

It has created a vast multitude of new offices, filled them with its favorites, set up a centralized bureaucracy and sent out swarms of inspectors to harass our people.

It has bred fear and hesitation in commerce and industry, thus discouraging new enterprises, preventing employment, and prolonging the depression.

It secretly has made tariff agreements with outr foreign competitors, flooding our markets with foreign commodities.

It has coerced and intimidated voters by withholding relief to those opposing its tyrannical policies.

It has destroyed the morale of many of our people and made them dependent upon government.

Appeals to passion and class prejudice have replaced reason and tolerance.

To a free people, these actions are insufferable.  This campaign cannot be waged on the traditional differences between the Republican and Democratic parties.

The responsibility of this election transcends all previous political divisions.  We invite all Americans, irrespective of party, to join us in defense of American Institutions.

Alf Landon was unanimously accepted by the GOP as its candidate for president. He asked that two more planks be added to the platform before his nomination was final:  first, that sweatshops and unrestricted child labor be abolished and that laws be passed to regulate maximum hours, minimum wages, and working conditions for women and children; and second, that the US currency should be backed by a gold standard.

I find these old newspapers fascinating in so many ways.  The articles are written in clear but advanced language and style on the assumption that its readers were intelligent, informed, and educated – unlike today’s news which is written to a fifth-grade reading and comprehension level.

It’s very hard, if not impossible, to find a bias in these pages.  Even during the war years, events were described impartially.  The standard for journalists was: facts only, double- and triple-verified.  Political coverage was painstakingly even-handed and dispassionate.

All of the news on the Times front pages was real news – coverage of real events, with no fluff or pop culture.  A box in the top left corner promises “All the News That’s Fit to Print”.

In the 79 years since this front page of the Times was published, much has changed in the relationship between the media and the public.  Is news reporting dumbed-down because of us, or we because of it?  Do we tolerate biased reporting because we have no choice, or because we are able to choose news that fits our personal bias?  Either way, the loss of accurate, salient, unbiased news harms Americans and our progress as a nation.

The stories themselves remind me that ours is not the only time in history with grave challenges, conflict and tragedy.  Our parents and grandparents lived through a period of historic human suffering and heroism.  What must they think of our squabbles today over gender identity and political correctness?

And the story above, contrasting Republicans and Democrats, reminds me that some things haven’t changed much.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

And you may ask yourself
Am I right?  Am I wrong?
And you may say to yourself
My God, what have I done?
Same as it ever was . . . same as it ever was . . .
Same as it ever was . . . same as it ever was . . .

Once In A Lifetime – Talking Heads

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