Monday, July 16, 2007

News Notes

There are a few small items in the news that are worthy of comment. Well, maybe not, but I’m going to, anyway.

Third World?

Six days ago the
North Island was hit by a weather bomb. Parts of Auckland were without power until today. This is unacceptable for a modern city. The lines company points out this was an exceptional event, but with “once in 150 year” weather events becoming common due to climate change, isn’t it time they prepared for it? New Zealand’s Consumer magazine recently reviewed portable generators. Maybe it’s time to think about getting one.

Media Slant

Okay, so I’m a frequent critic of the news media and the general laziness and sloppiness that seems to be at its core these days. Sometimes, I’m provoked.

A NZ Herald article about the upcoming local elections was headlined “Labour 'desperate' to keep Banks out”, referring to a right wing nutter who was Mayor of Auckland, and who wants to be again. And who said this? A political scientist? An impartial political commentator?

No. The headline is taken from a former Banks aide—a partisan hack, in other words. He figures that the NZ Labour Party will want Banks defeated in order to raise their chances of winning a fourth term in government.

Trouble is, it’s a partisan, biased opinion—bullshit, in other words. The hard fact is that it doesn’t matter in the least who’s mayor of
Auckland. People elected a Labour government when Banks was Mayor, and they could easily do so again. To suggest otherwise is to grossly exaggerate Banks’ importance.

It would seem to be yet another example of the news media manufacturing news, something the NZ Herald has become quite skilled at.


Some pious Catholics in a town outside of
Chicago were foaming at the mouth over a proposal to erect a cellphone tower at their church. They weren’t afraid of radiation: It was pornography.

According to the Chicago Tribune, members of a Catholic church in the
Illinois town of Schaumburg (which means, appropriately enough, “foam castle” in German, and which is, oddly enough, the headquarters of Motorola) objected to a cellphone tower being placed on church property because, they said, “it could become a conduit for wireless customers to send and receive pornography.”

The church board had approved the decision, but last month the objectors persuaded the village board to postpone a decision on allowing it to proceed. The board has now voted to approve the antenna. The parish, meanwhile, expects to generate US$20,000 a year in rental from the tower. There is no estimate as to how much of that will come from pornography—or the pious.

And Americans wonder why they world laughs at it.

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