Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Slow news day? Paris wept!

If you watch the news on tv instead of searching through multiple media sources, you might not know that anything happened last week, except for the Great Greek Tragedy which is Paris Hilton’s modern life. That seems to have gotten a whole lot of coverage. But several other genuinely newsworthy events took place, as well. Granted, there were no willowy blonde girls crying in the back seats of police cars in the other stories, but they deserve coverage.

Let me run through a few, as follows:

In Caracas, Venezuela, after Hugo Chavez announced he would not allow one of the (extremely popular) remaining non-government-controlled television stations to “renew its license for broadcast” -- thus effectively shutting down the only in-country opposition voice (a moderate one, at that) -- the people took to the streets to protest. They came by the tens of thousands in peaceful protest. They were met with tear gas, fire hoses, rubber bullets, and, in a couple of cases, real bullets. They still come out, day after day. Meanwhile, actor Danny Glover is planning to make a film tribute to dictator Chavez, because Chavez is such a swell populist fellow.

In Beirut, the Lebanese government has directed its army to lob missiles into the midst of Palestinian “refugee camps”, where al Qaeda has been basing its operations -- with Syrian help -- for some time now. Funny, when the Israelis did this, it was front-page stuff, but now that it’s just another Arab-on-Arab action, the news value seems to have vanished.

In related news, regular Palestinian people in Gaza have openly admitted they miss the good old days when Israel’s army protected them from the civil war that they, the Palestinian people, voted for by electing the “moderate” terrorist group Hamas to govern. Civilians are fleeing into Egypt in such great numbers that Palestinian leaders are finding it difficult to round up enough human shields to protect themselves from condemnation (in both the modern and the classical meanings of the word).

Meanwhile, in the civil-war-that-isn’t, yet, in Iraq, three Kurdish provinces now have fully-operational and fully-in-command regional security, requiring only moderate support from the coalition troops. That makes seven of the eighteen already standing on their own feet.

Kirkuk has graduated some women at their newly-reformed and newly re-formed Police Academy. Although their feminine numbers are small (only two in a class of 980 to become officers), it shows signs of considerable hope. Even more hope-inspiring, they received much support from their male classmates and the community.

Iraq also has women in its army. Having trained in Baghdad and up in Kurdish regions, they’re kicking the hindquarters of the so-called insurgents in their home districts, just like their male counterparts.

In Seoul, South Korea, they had a Memorial Day of their own, on June 3, celebrating America’s part in helping them keep their freedom. The rally drew tens of thousands, many of whom carried both South Korean and American flags, and many others burned or slashed North Korean flags, reminding everyone of who has been friend and who has not.

Prague, Czech Republic, hosted the Democracy & Security International Conference. Attendees included famed dissidents such as Vaclav Havel, Natan Sharansky, Jose Maria Aznar, Garri Kasparov, and Iraq’s Zainab Al-Suwaij. The conference focused on human rights, and on finding incentives (positive and negative) for governments to improve the state of their citizens.

Back home, it was announced the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Peter Pace, is to be replaced. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has recommended Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chief of naval operations, be nominated to the post in Pace’s stead. If you were watching MSNBC’s coverage of the wait for Paris Hilton to leave her mansion on the way to court (again), you might have caught the eight-second “breaking” report on this little adjustment in our nation’s capital. The rest of the country got word of it via the late-night comics, if they heard at all.

I can now understand how Ms. Hilton might have come to lack contact with reality. After all, in the time before America, the elite often received their news of the world from minstrels, jesters and fools. I’ve heard so much of genuine news from entertainers (and bloggers and other internet sources), and watched the fools who host news shows, now, I, too, feel truly regal.

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