Saturday, December 27, 2008

I WAS GOING TO CRITICIZE THE BBC, BUT TO BE FAIR IT REFLECTS BAD AMERICAN NEWS MEDIA TRENDS, TOO By Kevin Stoda, in Kuwait

I WAS GOING TO CRITICIZE THE BBC, BUT TO BE FAIR IT REFLECTS BAD AMERICAN NEWS MEDIA TRENDS, TOO

By Kevin Stoda, in Kuwait


The headline in the Kuwait Times on the front page today (December 27, 2008) focused on the recent Pakistani military build up on the Indian border.

http://www.kuwaittimes.net/read_news.php?newsid=MTEyMzI3MDgxMw==

With nearly a million people from South Asia living in Kuwait today (out of a population of about 3 million), it is certainly appropriate that the Kuwaiti press should focus on the newest growing hostilities in the most populated regions on the planet.

However, why has the British press reacted in the same way to potential war in its former colony?

The page one KUWAIT TIMES (KT) story was simply entitled, “Tension Mounts as Pakistan Deploys Troops to Indian Border”. According to KT writers, “The developments sent ties plummeting to their lowest point since late 2001, when Kashmiri militants staged a brazen attack on the Indian parliament-an attack New Delhi blamed on the Pakistan-based extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. India has blamed the same group for the Mumbai attacks and has repeatedly said Islamabad is not doing enough to rein in militant groups, a claim that Pakistan rejects.”

Interestingly, I have been listening all day in vain to BBC radio for a report on these rising tensions.

Instead, I received reports from all corners of the globe but have only heard a few South Asian reports—and these are only concerning the one-year anniversary of the horrible assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

This BBC silence on the events on the Pakistan border indicates a bias in the European press this weekend.

Europe is apparently more concerned about Russia and Hamas or Israel than in a buildup in tensions on the border of two nuclear powers:

“The nuclear-armed South Asian neighbors-which have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over Kashmir-have said they do not want war this time, but warn they would act if provoked. In Islamabad, senior defense and security officials said troops were being moved from the northwest tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, hotbeds of Taleban and Al-Qaeda activity, to the eastern border near India.”

Only the German news agency, Reuters, seems to be on the ball this Christmas holiday weekend—offering a report on Yahoo about the rising tensions between Pakistan and India. This Yahoo/Reuters report included the fact that “Pakistan canceled army leave and redeployed some troops Friday in a sign of rising tension with India.”


http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081226/ts_nm/us_india_mumbai_pakistan

Meanwhile, unlike in the case of Israel’s early morning bombing deaths of nearly 150 in Gaza today, the U.S. government did speak out against Pakistan’s moves.

Pakistan claims that its response come only after India raised its troop levels and approached the Pakistani border in recent weeks. “[A Pakistani] defense ministry official said authorities had noticed the movement of Indian troops toward the border near the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, and that they believed India had also cancelled military leave.”


BACK IN NORTH AMERICA


Taking a cue from the people at FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy and Reporting) in the USA

http://www.fair.org/index.php

, I decided this very day (Saturday December 27, 2008) to look at another story neglected by both most of the mainstream news media sources in North America and in Europe.

DEMOCRACY NOW radio had reported on Wednesday that the U.S. press was failing to discuss or really look into the largest sludge spill in U.S. history. It had occurred on Monday in Tennessee.

http://www.democracynow.org/2008/12/24/spill_at_tennessee_coal_plant_creates

I decided to look up online whether many other reports on this toxic ash catastrophe story were to be found on American websites.

I found many such stories—but most were the same few stories which had been linked to environmental blogs.

http://www.greendaily.com/2008/12/26/ash-and-sludge-cover-tennessee-town/

There were articles in The New York Times, etc.

I found, for example, one story on CNN.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/12/26/tennessee.sludge/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

However, this particular story, entitled “Tennessee Sludge Spill Grows to 1 Billion Gallons”, only came out four days after the so-called spill had begun.

In the CNN report, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the creator of this sludge over many decades, has strangely claimed that the toxicity of the sludge wasn’t killing fish as rumors claimed.
On the other hand, CNN did report, “Appalachian environmentalists compare the mess to another spill eight years ago in eastern Kentucky, where the bottom of a coal sludge impoundment owned by Massey Energy broke into an abandoned underground mine, oozing more than 300 million gallons of coal waste into tributaries. The water supply for more than 25,000 residents was contaminated, and aquatic life in the area perished. It took months to clean up the spill.”
Finally, CNN concluded with a quote from one environmentalist, Dave Cooper who noted, "If the estimates are correct, this spill is 1½ times bigger [then the Massey Energy disaster].”

BACK TO BBC—and the “CLEAN’’COAL COVER-UP?

Interestingly, despite the fact that this last week’s environmental disaster in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee dwarfs many times over the now-famous Exxon-Valdez disaster of two decades ago, the BBC has failed to cover the story at all.
This absence of news on the disaster by BBC is fascinating because the critiques of those environmentalists on DEMOCRACY NOW--and elsewhere on the web--, included advocates from GREENPEACE and critiques of coal-as-source-of-future-energy production.
These concerned citizens and environmentalists all share the view that the disaster in Tennessee (under the coal-burning noses of the TVA) this last week represents the folly of depending on coal ever to become a clean energy source.
Why would BBC and Europe not be more interested in this story?
Why wouldn’t China, India, Poland or any other major coal users today not be interested in the TVA disaster?
Awareness of this disaster in Tennessee is needed all over Europe.
It is the only way to get all the governments to change to environmentally renewable energy development. Moreover, Americans need to keep in mind the dangers of fantasy-and-failing coal technologies. We all need to invest in solar, wind and other sustainable energy routes for decades and millennia to come.
Meanwhile the BBC should provide more news in the Middle East on the tensions in South Asia.
BBC is unfairly acting as a censor as long as it maintains huge holes in its news coverage.
BBC really needs to make some new years resolutions to do better.
If the BBC is perverting the news, what is happening to news in your corner of the globe?

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