In the past couple weeks, the evening news has been occupied with obesity, Distracted Walking, and appropriate attire for woman playing Olympic beach volleyball.
NBC anchor Brian Williams had the first two items. For more than a week, aided by a steady parade of guest experts, he told us of the consequences of being obese. The obesity stories ran nightly until, I am certain by sheer coincidence, came the announcement of a new miracle drug that just might make everyone slim and sexy.
The magic pill thus announced, attention turned to Distracted Walking, apparently the latest danger for which no law has yet been passed. It seems 1,100 people go to emergency rooms each week with injuries sustained when they were not paying attention to where they were strolling. To prove the point, Williams showed a video – borrowed, I’m sure, from the library of the Tosh.O show – of a young man texting and walking off a subway platform.
No word on how he came out of that, but I wondered why “distracted” always means “texting,” the way “technology” in schools means “computers.”
Mingled among the obesity and distractions, like an occasional slow song among the fast, we learned that Mitt Romney made three stops on a weeklong international tour, took three questions from press following him, and made at least three world leaders a bit unhappy.
Meanwhile, a few news items slipped under the network radar.
Thousands of food eaters across the nation would like Big Ag to label Genetically Modified groceries. The issue, funded so far by $2.3 million from supporters and $2 million from opponents, appears headed for the November ballot in California, but national news seems unaware; so far, 19 states and the EPA have refused to mandate labeling genetically engineered food.
Supporters of California’s initiative, and similar efforts in states from the Atlantic to Pacific oceans, note the Food and Drug administration requires listing on food packages of a long list of barely pronounceable ingredients; why, they wonder, not note whether the ingredients include genetically modified produce.
The food industry claims listing genetic modification on the label would only give consumers something more to unnecessarily worry about. (They may have a point. What is in Pepsi, Nestle and Coca-Cola products that they don’t want us to worry about?)
In Tokyo, Japan, a few thousand protesters asked their government to halt activation of a nuclear power plant.
In China, protesters apparently were successful in blocking plans to pipe chemical waste into the sea. Particularly noteworthy, one might think, is that the protest was successful in a nation not known for excessive tolerance of civil objection to government policies.
In Lincoln County, W. Va. — a region heavily impacted by mountaintop-removal mining — protestors chained themselves to a rock truck, boarded it and dropped banners saying, “Coal Leaves, Cancer Stays.” No one died in the protest, although one protestor reportedly was threatened with a chainsaw-wielding coal worker. The word came out in a press release obviously not read by news writers.
In Washington, D.C., about 5,000 people were missed by roving TV cameras and print reporters as they gathered Saturday to ask lawmakers and the EPA to “Stop the Frack Attack.” Fracking is the method of breaking shale thousands of feet below ground to release natural gas.
The process uses chemicals harmful to living people and critters, and there is question about the efficacy of well casings that in many cases seem incapable of keeping the chemicals and the surfacing flammable gas out of the drinking water supply.
Cincinnati this week became the first Ohio city to ban fracking injection wells. Those are wells drilled deep into the earth to become repositories for waste fracking fluid. The toxic broth is pumped in under high pressure, in hopes it will not harm humans while the natural filtration of all that rock and dirt filters it clean.
Unfortunately, water also is a lubricant, as was proved last year when one such well near Youngstown, Ohio, gave birth to a series of earthquakes as a deep-down fault slipped in the pressurized soup. One shaker, on New Years Eve, measured 4.0 on the Richter Scale.
Efforts are underway in court to block activation of an injection well near Girard, Ohio, and authorities in another town have decided to not make their water available to frackers.
Meanwhile, in Australia, a similar source of natural gas has nearly attained profitability. A company called Strike Energy is considering using fracking to develop a “deep coal seam” natural gas industry Down Under.
But that is Australia. For the most part, local and national news producers seem bent on not worrying us about things that are happening where we are not.
Hush, now. Nero’s playing his fiddle.
Photo by clogsilk
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