NYMHM: Headlines & Undercurrents

A brief survey of recent news stories from major U.S. and global media outlets. Updated each Monday and Friday.

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Media Critique: Nigeria oil protest coverage

Environment: Coral bleaching, climate change

Endangered Grouse Controversy

Nation: Heartland porn, Constitutional education

America’s Soldiers: Stop-loss lawsuit, Pat Tillman “spin”

War & Terrorism: Musharraf doubts war, bioterror lab fears

MEDIA CRITIQUE: Nigeria oil protest coverage

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The headline is intriguing, and the story is rich with detail as to the oil production capacity of the oil platforms run by Royal Dutch/Shell and ChevronTexaco.

We learn about the number of barrels produced per day by the platforms (90,000), Nigeria’s status as an African oil producer (the leader), the number of barrels of oil it exports daily (2.5 million), and its status as a global exporter (the seventh largest) and as source for the United States (“the fifth biggest”).

But why, exactly, did the “hundreds of protesting villagers from Kula community” take over the platform in the first place?

The third paragraph above the article’s conclusion mentions their demands for “jobs and other benefits” … but no other detail is provided.

We are left only with speculation as to what motivated local men, women and children to take over high-security industrial facilities in a nation rife with civil conflict.

A greater share of oil revenues for schools, hospitals and roads? Human rights? What about the regional environment? The petroleum business certainly has its share of pollution issues.

The scope of what can be considered newsworthy is peculiarly limited.

“Protesters besiege oil platforms in Nigeria, shut down 90,000 barrels daily production”
Associated Press, December 6, 2004

ENVIRONMENT: Coral bleaching, climate change

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The temperature surge of 1998 caused widespread “bleaching” of coral reefs around the world. These unique ecosystems are built over the years by the accumulated skeletons of tiny polyps, and host a huge variety of oceanic life. Some reefs have proved resilient, and are even recovering.

But with the global climate only expected to increase, and mounting pressures from developing nations, 70 percent of the world’s reefs are now considered threatened.

Most coral reefs under threat, some resilient
Reuters, December 6, 2004

Talks look for new climate effort
December 6, 2004


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It seems unlikely that an endangered species listing for the greater sage grouse will stand in the way of oil and gas development in the vast American plains. Billions of dollars in revenue are at stake, and the fossil fuel industry and local political and business leaders have lobbied hard against the listing.

The greater sage grouse population is now eight percent of what it once was. Its habitat “dwarfs” that of the spotted owl, the endangered predator that nearly shut down old-growth logging in the Pacific Northwest.

Although federal biologists recommended against the listing, the nature of the decision was “political,” one conservationist said.

On Sunday, the New York Times ran an article stating that a senior federal official, Julie MacDonald, extensively edited the report on the grouse, often criticizing scientists’ findings on grouse biology as “opinion.”

Interior official and federal biologists clash on danger to bird
New York Times, December 5, 2004

Biologists: Don’t list sage grouse
Casper Star-Tribune, December 4, 2004

Grouse unlikely to find shelter on endangered list
USA Today, December 3, 2004

-=Keyword searches (grouse endangered):

Google News, Yahoo News

NATION: Heartland porn, Constitutional education

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With the renewed focus on American morality and “values voters” comes a fascinating article from the Los Angeles Times on the big boom in rural pornography “superstores.”

According to one store owner in Iowa: “There’s no competition within 40 miles of me. We’re doing great.”

We’re not in G-rated Kansas anymore
Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2004

-=Keyword searches (pornography america):
Google News, Yahoo News

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Also from the LA Times comes an item about Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va), getting a provision inserted into the new Congressional spending bill that would mandate September 17 to be an annual day for learning about the foundation of our democracy — the U.S. Constitution.

Education officials said the measure was intrusive. According to the article, Byrd feels ignorance of the Constitution is rampant, and “lamented in a recent speech that even some of his colleagues in Congress don’t know fully what it says. ‘An informed public is our best defense against tyranny,’ he said.”

Mission to mandate teaching of Constitution inserted into bill
Los Angeles Times, December 4, 2004

-=Keyword searches (constitution education):
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AMERICA’S SOLDIERS: Stop-loss lawsuit, Pat Tillman “spin”

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Soldiers angry over being barred from leaving Iraq after their enlistments ran out have filed a lawsuit against the Army with support from the left-leaning Center for Constitutional Rights.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has its own spin on the revelation that NFL star Pat Tillman was killed by “friendly fire.” The newspaper says that the Army emphasized Tillman’s heroism, but otherwise provided a “distorted and incomplete narrative” about Tillman’s death, excluding the fact of the friendly fire, and failing to mention “botched” communications and a “misguided” order to divide the platoon.

Eight soldiers plan to sue over Army’s stop-loss policy
New York Times, December 6, 2004

Army spun tale around ill-fated mission
Washington Post, December 5, 2004

-=Keyword searches (army stop-loss): Google News, Yahoo News

-=Keyword searches (tillman friendly fire): Google News, Yahoo News

WAR & TERRORISM: Musharraf doubts, bioterror lab fears

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While visiting the U.K., Pakistan’s president told the BBC that the world is “less safe” as a result of the War on Terror, because it is not addressing “core problems.” These include political disputes, poverty and illiteracy.

In America, a related critique is directed at the spread of anti-bioterrorism “hot labs” around the country, so named because they contain dangerous microbes, such as the Ebola virus.

The hot labs are intended to provide better response and defense against terrorist biological agents, but critics say they only increase the risk of accidental release disease into the environment.

Musharraf attacks war on terror
BBC, December 6, 2004

Anti-bioterror labs raise risk to U.S., critics say
Chicago Tribune, December 5, 2004

-=Keyword searches (war on terror): Google News, Yahoo News

-=Keyword searches (bioterror lab): Google News, Yahoo News

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