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News and Issues

News & Issues


Media/Business topics dominate, journalism & the public, a Watergate anniversary & Radio Sawa

A company called MediaTenor, Ltd, has issued a study about news coverage in 2001 that delivered some revealing statistics about how news is reported and who is interviewed:

On television, 14% of total network news content concerned economic affairs, leading all other categories of information. Although the nation's politicians urged Americans to shop as a patriotic effort for post September 11th recovery, the notion of the population's primary function as a bank of consumers was already a familiar concept in the mainstream news before the attacks. Time and Newsweek presented product reports as 7% of the total news content (seven times as much coverage as dedicated to education, the most covered individual political topic) and as 45% of business and economic coverage in the period...

Whereas the population was informed in their role as consumers, they were barely considered as a labor force. Even though the US lost 2.4 million jobs in 2001 less than 4% of economic coverage focused on the rising unemployment rate, corporate employment policies and all other labor issues combined...

The policies that saw the greatest triumphs of corporate interests over social and environmental well-being were only barely discussed from other perspectives, indicating a business friendly news environment not only in economic and business coverage but in the bulk of information that determined the public's agenda...

Even when the topic [of social impact of business] was breached, the news gave company representatives a greater opportunity to voice their perspectives than average citizens received. Of all the individuals quoted on such topics, company and business association representatives made up 48% of voices while citizens themselves appeared as only 24% of sources.

Roy Peter Clark, a Senior Scholar and on the Reporting, Writing & Editing Faculty of the Poynter Institute wrote a brief column on charitable giving and the crisis in the Catholic Church. Should he "fulfill my pledge of money to the bishop's building fund? Should I withhold it as a conscientious act of protest? Should I redirect it to another charity?" asking readers what he should do.

After receiving about 450 thoughtful responses such as "we too are struggling"; "we are facing the same decision"; "when we read it we were comforted to know we were not alone, " Clark drew up some guidelines regarding this interactive exercise with his readers:

1. Ask readers more often what they think.
2. Ask readers more often for their help.
3. Create the infrastructure necessary to receive and respond to messages.
4. Honor each message with a timely response.
5. Cross-pollinate reader responses from one news medium to another.
6. Publish a representative number of responses.
7. Build more stories around tough choices readers are facing.
8. Let journalists be seen, on occasion, as real people with real problems.

Radio Sawa is a service of US International Broadcasting which is intended to to introduce news about the US in Arabic, countering some of the anti-American sentiment heard in the Middle East. There are four locations for this network: Amman - 98.1, Kuwait - 95.7, Dubai - 90.5 and Abu Dhabi - 98.7. The Washington File, a publication of the State Department, reports that Radio Sawa is playing in the taxicabs, fast food restaurants and in the gyms, becoming a popular outlet for the young urban elite in Amman.

Norman Pattiz of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an organization who oversees SAWA as well as VOA, The Office of Cuba Broadcasting, WorldNet Television, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Free Asia, testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, characterizing the Middle East Network as "fast becoming a key part of the US public diplomacy effort in this turbulent region."

To journalists, that first byline may be the best. Recently, the writers at the Washington Post refused to have their names attached to their articles...part of a collective bargaining protest over contract negotiations, a week before the thirty year anniversary of Watergate.


We never thought we'd be interested in the vocalizing of a mink frog (compared to a hammer striking wood) but the sounds of green frogs in Michigan is a treat. Sites like these are repositories of off beat finds for those interested in the environment. We've discovered some others:

Harrison Ford, the owner of a De Havilland Beaver and a Bell Longranger helicopter, has refitted them with camera equipment designed to seek out pollution in the Hudson River.

A River Keepers program works to protect sustainable use of the Red River of the North in the Fargo, ND - Moorhead, MN area. Ducks Unlimited is a 62 year old Canadian organization devoted to preserving wetlands, fully one quarter of the world's wetlands. Trout Unlimited is an organization whose agenda issues are diverse and complicated, and reflect the "4Hs" threats to trout and salmon. Dams, mining, forest roads, grazing, and whirling disease are just a few examples.

The PBS series, Empty Oceans, Empty Nests is concerned with the race to save maritime fisheries:

"Certification programs like that of the Marine Stewardship Council exist to certify and label sustainably-produced seafood products like wild-caught Alaskan salmon. Many more fisheries are in the process of being assessed by the MSC according to strict scientific criteria. A greater variety of seafood products with the MSC eco-label will gradually become available throughout the US In the meantime, other efforts, like National *Audubon's Seafood Lover's Initiative and the **Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program are providing consumers with up-to-date information on the status of fisheries to identify products that are more likely to come from sustainable fisheries.

*+**(From these two programs you can download or order a wallet-sized consumer seafood guides...we were shocked to find out that one of our favorite fish, monkfish, is one to be avoided in our area.)

Or, why not go sport fishing and catch and release, let's say with Ladies, Lets Go Fishing. Or, better yet, visit the Great Lakes, Baltimore or New England Aquariums to benignly view those creatures, neither catching or eating.

Housing, Growth and Urbanism: Cape Cod Islands, Wind projects, winning communities in St. Pete, FL and Rockville MD; Bay Area greenbelt concerns

Protecting the green belt in the nine countries surround San Francisco is the mission of the Greenbelt Alliance.

The St. Petersburg Times carried an article, Communal bliss, about a Westchase community called "West Park Village, the development in Westchase that mimics old-fashioned, small-town living with upscale amenities and easy access to shops and services." The Washington Post has crafted an article, 'New Urbanism' Variations Accent Small-Town Look, that takes a look at the pedestrian-friendly Centergate King Farm, a 1,200-plus-unit rental property in Rockville, MD.

For those of us who remember the efforts of the US to produce alternative energy sources, wind power still lives as a concept and application throughout the country. If you wish to visit the site of US wind turbine projects by state, the website for the American Wind Energy Association, based in Washington, DC

Coincidentally, we heard a report on NPR about proposed wind project six miles off the coast of Cape Cod. Reportedly, "using wind power could produce half of the Cape's electricity needs. The project would require erecting 170 wind towers six miles out. This has caused great alarm among the residents." Staying on the New England coast island theme, we see that there are housing problems on those idyllic islands, too.

The Wall Street Journal/Barron's is advising a second home as a vehicle for decision making about where you will want to retire. This is assuming that you can afford a second home, but it seems that "In [the year] 2000, second-home purchases hit an all-time high of 415,000, according to the National Association of Realtors." (Barron's list of top 20 places to retire in the US and abroad is included in the second home article.)

Okay, so now you've bought a home (whether it be second or first) but are concerned about the concept of 'aging in place.' In other words, suppose you don't want to move to another home after you retire? What areas of the house should you prepare for this idea of staying put? The Wall Street Journal has an article to answer those questions, The Secret to Creating An Age-Friendly Home.


Events/Veterans Day

The significance of Veterans Day will, no doubt, be more noted by younger generations this year than in previous years. The fallen and those who survived beside them will be remembered by a nation now unified by a new conflict.

The Department of Veterans Affairs carries an index of events throughout the country and notes the legislation for first observing the day on Thursday, November 11, 1954.

The USS Intrepid Sea-Air Space Museum is, as always, open for inspection. Exhibits include the Aircraft Carrier itself, the USS Edson, a 4,000 Ton, 418 Ft. Naval Destroyer and the USS Growler, a 3,000 Ton, 317 Ft. Guided Missile Submarine. There's an aircraft collection from propellers to afterburners and an A-12 Blackbird on display, considered to be the world's fastest aircraft.

The National D-Day Museum offers archival material documenting the buildup and mobilization leading to D-Day and other battles of World War II. On December 7th, a new exhibit will feature The D-Day Invasions in the Pacific during World War II. The exhibit's grand opening is scheduled on the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

We Will Remember: A Tribute to Veterans is a production being staged at the Hazlett Theater in Pittsburgh. There's an online study guide using the semistaged readings inspired by oral histories of veterans, sometimes spanning three or four generations of families. These stories were collected by local students who approached their relatives seeking oral histories of 20th century conflicts.

War Letters Home is part of the Legacy Project, "a national, all-volunteer organization that works to honor and remember those who have served this nation in wartime by seeking out and saving their letters." There's also a study guide for this undertaking available on the site.

A new monument honoring Michigan veterans who lost their lives in Vietnam was dedicated on Veterans Day in Lansing. Linking to the site is a file that claims to carry the complete listing of Vietnam War casualty files by state.

On this day, as on all those other days, we are personally grateful that our Vietnam War veteran is at home.

Report of Eight Media Organizations from the New York Times: Examining the Florida vote

Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote - A close examination of the ballots found that Mr. Bush would have retained a slender margin over Mr. Gore if the Florida court's order to recount more than 43,000 ballots had not been reversed by the United States Supreme Court. The New York Times

Ballots Cast by Blacks and Older Voters Were Tossed in Far Greater Numbers - For minorities a recount would not have redressed the inequities because most ballots were beyond retrieving. But a recount could have restored the votes of thousands of older voters whose dimpled and double-voted ballots were indecipherable to machines but would have been clear in a ballot-by-ballot review. The New York Times


The Consortium Report (Washington Post)

Virtual Voting Booth: Washington Post

The Palm Beach Post Articles

News/Displaced Workers, Nature Magazine's anthrax focus, Biosafety Level 4 and Yellow Fever in 1793

The Consortium for Worker Education, a nonprofit consortium of 46 New York City Central Labor Council affiliated unions and locals, has established an emergency clearinghouse for temporary jobs, serving those displaced by the events of September 11.

Nature Magazine has put together a special online focus on anthrax. This focus includes the publication of two research papers on anthrax toxin, as well as a collection of research, news and feature articles from a electronic archive.

The CDC is continuing to update information regarding the anthrax investigations, including live broadcasts. The subject heading they have given for reference is Bioterrorism and the Infection Control Community.

If you do hear of a condition called Biosafety Level 4 in connection with decontaminating an area, you will be up to date as to its meaning by reading an explanation by Michigan State University.

The College of Physicians in Philadelphia has discovered letters and documents relating to the yellow fever disease that struck the city in 1793. The College has also put together a lengthy list of resources for the general public during the current crisis. The Diseased City is an examination of events in Philadelphia during the 1793 crisis. A critical review of a book of historical fiction for young readers called Fever 1793 is another look into that world.

The US General Accounting Office (GAO), not always in agreement with the ways of any administration, has on it's site a number of issues relating to the the threat of terrorism and an assessment, at times, as to how well the government is coping with that threat.

News/September 11th Continued

We're all becoming conversant with advanced bio-terror sources and tools. "An Oak Ridge National Laboratory tool for detecting chemical and biological hazards is ready for military use, and the advanced technology may soon be brought to the domestic fight against anthrax and other terrorist threats." Some companies, like Alexeter, are quite plain about their Biological Defense products and services being used only by the military and not by the general public.

The National Security Archive (NSA) posted the first volume in their new series The September 11th Source Books. Over the past decade, the Archive has become the world's largest non-governmental library of declassified documents. The National Security Archive Fund, Inc. is a not-for-profit District of Columbia-based corporation.

This volume include assessments of the terrorist threat and a CIA profile of Usama bin Ladin, presidential and Defense Department policy directives, the details about US response to specific terrorist attacks, and evaluations of US government preparedness to deal with terrorism.

Volume III, Biowar: The Nixon Administration's Decision to End US Biological Warfare Programs, has been released. The US biological warfare program stockpiled more than 200 pounds of anthrax spores before President Nixon ordered the end of the program and destruction of stockpiles in 1969. The documents, titled Biowar: The Nixon Administrations Decision to End US Biological Warfare Programs, are now available.

Little publicized was the experiment carried out on the Scottish island of Gruinard by British scientists during the Second World War, when anthrax was released to wipe out a flock of sheep. The island was so contaminated that it was deemed out-of-bounds for almost 50 years.

The New England Journal of Medicine has made available to the public a number of articles:

Update: Investigation of Anthrax Associated with Intentional Exposure and Interim Public Health Guidelines, October 2001
Recognition of Illness Associated with the Intentional Release of a Biologic Agent
CDC Health Advisory (10/12/01)
News on Preparedness

The Christian Science Monitor posted an article pointing out the Mixed signals on danger from anthrax. For a timeline of chemical and biological warfare from World War I through 1998, Frontline (the PBS documentary series) has put together hallmarks in the use of these chemicals during that span of time. This end hallmark has some chilling significance:

President Clinton appoints Richard Clarke as the national coordinator for antiterrorism programs. Over 40 government agencies have some responsibility for dealing with terrorism. Currently is no centralized group for countering chemical/ biological attacks.

News/Bio-Terrorism: Cipro, Airline Surveillance and Women Pilots

More popular this month than the holiday of Halloween is the antibiotic Cipro, currently being used to treat those who might have been exposed to anthrax. (Don't you wish you had stock in Bayer right now?) And isn't it interesting that it actually is used in some of the conditions that we women find pesky, to say the least: Cipro is indicated for the treatment of urinary tract infections especially acute uncomplicated cystitis in females uncomplicated cystitis in females. The only company now receiving a FDA-license to manufacture a vaccine against the disease is Bio-Port.

The United States Accounting Office has reissued Terrorism Reports from 1980 to the present. Meanwhile, the Dismal Scientist puts forth an argument for the continuation of private company airport security screenings. If you think you've received an anthrax threat by mail or package, who do you call? No, not Ghostbusters, check out the United States Postal Service for instructions.

Today face-recognition technology is being used as an aid in airport security. Company literature at Viisage says that: "These systems can produce identification cards that are tamper proof, utilize face-recognition technology with or without cards for identification and verification of individuals..."

What may not be as publicized as some of these other issues is that women are at the controls of some of the war planes hitting targets in Afghanistan. "Women are among the most senior Navy pilots on US aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, and some have patrolled the "No Fly Zone" over southern Iraq and dropped bombs on Bosnia. Several female pilots are stationed aboard the USS Carl Vinson and have participated in air strikes against the Taliban."

News/September 11

Now that the initial shock surrounding the events of September 11 has passed, the discussion is joined as to whether any structure should be built upon the ruins of the Trade Towers and if so, what should it be? The New York Times ran two articles on the subject this past weekend, one entitled Filling the Void: A Chance to Soar and the other detailing the opinion of several artists and architects, From the Rubble, Ideas for Rebirth.

The Washington Post ran an article entitled, Visions Rising From the Ashes, Architects Consider How Best to Fill The Void Where Two Tall Towers Stood, while The New Yorker ran architecture critic Paul Goldberger's thoughts, The Skyline: Building Plans.

The New Republic carried a piece by Jed Perl on Ruins that recalled the art of Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore and a number of artists who created a visual chronicle of London during the Blitz.

Other sites that are linked to the recovery efforts are the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance focussing on assistance programs relating to recovery/response and US. Government Resources for the events of September 11th and the The Executive Session on Domestic Preparedness.

ESDP is a task force of leading practitioners and academic specialists concerned with terrorism and emergency management. Sponsored by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and the US Department of Justice, ESDP brings together experts with operational experience in fields related to domestic preparedness. The force includes three Adjunct Generals, the Deputy Chief of the NYC Fire Department, the Chief of the DC Police Department, Public Health officials and others addressing terrorism and emergency management.

The Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute has been consulted by media and government for opinions, background and research dealing with the crisis as well as profiles of terrorists. The Henry Stimson Center has issued a report which is a comprehensive study that examines the many facets of the unconventional terrorism issue in the United States.


News Sighting/Two Weeks Later

The ASPCA page now contains a 'thank you' to all those who contributed to the welfare of the animals left behind in the wake of the September 11th tragedy. However, they are urging anyone who knows of a person who has a pet and has not returned home since September 11, 2001 to call the ASPCA hotline. They're also microchipping the animals removed from these homes for future identification.

A microchip is an electronic chip that carries a unique code that is implanted between a pet's shoulder blades. When a scanner is held over the animal's back, the chip's unique code will be displayed. The code will be checked against a database that will contain identifying information about the owner of the animal.

So many US flags have been purchased in recent days that the Washington Post has run an article outlining the proper protocol of flag flying: Flying According to the Flag Code. The House Committee on the Judiciary is holding hearings on what has come to be known as the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001 with assurances by the committee's Chair, James Sensenbrenner, that:

the bill should not do anything to take away the freedoms of innocent citizens. Of course we all recognize that the 4th amendment to the Constitution prevents the government from conducting unreasonable searches and seizuresthat is why the legislation I hope to introduce shortly will not change the United States Constitution or the rights guaranteed to citizens of this country under the Bill of Rights.

In spite of these assurances, some are concerned about the far-reaching aspects of certain proposals: An article on the site, Security Focus, states that "The Justice Department is urging Congress to quickly approve its Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), a twenty-five page proposal that would expand the government's legal powers to conduct electronic surveillance, access business records, and detain suspected terrorists."

A site used by many journalists, The Poynter Institute, is currently running an article pointing out the imbalance between US concern for its own disasters with that of people in other countries: Numbering the Dead Lessons in News Judgment and Empathy.

Meanwhile, the sites that debunk rumors and legends have been working overtime: Claim: A 1654 Nostradamus prediction said World War III would begin with the fall of "two brothers," a reference to the destroyed World Trade Center towers. Status: False.


Computer Sites and The Attack is working with the Internet Archive in collaboration with the Library of Congress identifying and archiving pages and sites related to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. An effort, much like webArchivist's, was made to collect messages from Americans relating to the Pearl Harbor attack and are now ongoing at the Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

A non-government site maintained, at the moment, by grad students at Berkeley is the Safe site, with more than 46,000 names of people reported safe during the Trade Tower attacks.

New Scientist Magazine has several reports of interest: Governments struggle to second guess terrorists' next move regarding possible bio-terrorism and Hacker rewrites Yahoo! news stories. Freelance security consultant Adrian Lamo demonstrated that, armed only with an ordinary Internet browser, he could access the content management system used by Yahoo!'s staff use to upload daily news.

We mentioned in a previous sighting that Microsoft's Flight Simulator was supposedly used by the hijackers. Microsoft has now decided to delay release of the newest version of the game by saying:

... We are focused on doing the right thing out of respect for the victims, our customers, partners and employees. With this in mind, we have decided to delay releasing Flight Simulator 2002 for distribution. We will announce a new date when it is determined.

Inventor Steve Kirsch has, on his site, suggestions for foiling hijackers aboard an airline. He also includes a link to a Jane's (an authoritative guide to military equipment recognition ) Foreign Report article that has an alternative theory as to the identity of the hijackers.

(New Scientist also has an article on the new virus/worm that this site's server in the state of Washington has been dealing with.)


Continuing News and Information

New sites have appeared that contain links to information sources. Who said something about information being equated with power?

Current Awareness Resources via Streaming Audio & Video is a site compiled by Gary Price, MLIS George Washington University Washington DC and Ashburn VA and designed for the information professional who monitor current events. He also maintains the blogspot area of Resource Shelf.

The Wall Street Journal, for nonsubscribers and subscribers alike, is maintaining a list, continuously updated, about the tenants of the World Trade Center Towers, whereabouts and casualties. Accompanying the chart is an illustration of the occupants of the tower.

One dubious means of publicity for Microsoft is that reportedly the hijackers used their Flight Simulator program in training for their horrendous mission. The Detroit Free Press has online '100 Questions and Answers About Arab Americans.' The Air Traffic Control System Control Center lists all major US airports that are either experiencing delays or are affected by a traffic management initiative.

President Bush announced a site where Americans can go to help: Be forewarned that there are fraudulent sites that are trying to take advantage of people's generosity through the Web.

For one source of photos, please look at The World Mourns at The Dotin. Follow their instructions for filling in those 'blank' photos.


News/Days of Remembrance

The National Cathedral in Washington hosted a service to mourning the tragedy and is inviting the public to a memorial service of prayer for all the families and victims on Sunday, September 16th at 11 am.

Please read Julia Sneden's (Going to War) and Ferida Wolff's essays (Which Hat?) on SeniorWomenWeb's site.

The ANSER Institute for Homeland Security (homeland now being a phrase used by government sources) is offering up readings such as the Defense Science Board's Protecting the Homeland. The ANSER Institute is a nonprofit public service research institute.

On 22-23 June, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies, the ANSER Institute and the Oklahoma National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, hosted a senior-level war game called Dark Winter, examining the challenges of a biological attack on the American homeland.

Another report of note is the one titled Good Intelligence is the Best Weapon Against International Terrorism as well as Pursue a More Aggressive Strategy Towards Terrorism, both reports from the National Commission on Terrorism.

The Council on Foreign Relations has put together a series of articles together on the attack including Now, More Than Ever, Uncle Sam Needs Canada. The Canadian government has established an electronic Book of Mourning for citizens to send a message of condolence to the US.

The FBI has a listing of the nineteen (19) individuals who have been identified as hijackers aboard the four airliners that crashed on September 11, 2001, into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and Stony Creek Township, Pennsylvania. Even though the suspects are presumed dead, the FBI, is still seeking information about these individuals.

The Boston Globe ran an article about renewed patriotism: Americans driven to show true colors in symbols, actions while the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz's article asks, "Will the networks please please stop showing the planes crashing into the World Trade Center as scene-setters for their opening credits?"

Many in the US feel that 'America the Beautiful' should be our national anthem. The lyrics were written by Katherine Lee Bates, Wellesley class of 1880. Surprised by the immediate success of the anthem, she was quoted as saying:

"That the hymn has gained, in these twenty odd years, such a hold as it has upon our people, is clearly due to the fact that Americans are at heart idealists, with a fundamental faith in human brotherhood."

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