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Pahrump, Nevada
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March 20, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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March 20, 1997
 

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10 Thursday, March 20, 1997 Pahrump Valley Gazette I I Is media making too rapid a rush to judgment? To err is human, but for us to admit it is divine Time was, and it wasn't really all that long ago, when suede shoe salesman and baby kissing politicians had a monopoly on being the most mistrusted among us has grown to include crooked cops, shyster lawyers and, most recently, headline and ratings seeking members of the working press. Like other professions, journalism has its share of bad apple within its print and electronic barrels. It stands to reason. It stands to reason, we can't all live up to being a fictional Dick Tracy, Perry Mason or Clark Kent, endowed with super-hu- man powers. Even those of the human species whom we have given simi- lax status to the icons have stumbled in our estimation as a result of that very human quality - having shown their adoring fans their feet of clay. Eager to get that proverbial scoop over their print competi- tion or win the ratings war on the tube, newsy of all mediums have sacrificed their precious credibility with the readers and viewers to stay ahead of the rest of the pack. Recent, although highly uncomfortable examples include the NBS settlement of more than a half a million dollars to security guard Richard Jewell, the falsely accused suspect in thcAflanta Summer Olympics bombing. Apparcndy, the cosily settlement was made to preempt a potentially embarrassing lawsuit. But the network never did issue a retraction or apol- ogy, or acknowledge that it perhaps went too far when net- work anchor Tom Brokaw, an old friend from Yorty days in LA, reported the FBI was close to" making the case" against Jewell and "they probably have enough to arrest him right now." Tom, who I knew when he was an anchor with KNBC in Los Angeles, along with another friend Tom Snydcr who now does the "gate, Late Night Show" for rival CBS, is too good and experienced a newsman to make mistakes like that. In fact, I still remember watching him on a panel interviewing the late Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. I remember being impressed by his professionalism in eliciting difficult answers from these two skilled politicians. When asked, NBC vice president for news Bill Wbeatley said, "Jewell's lawyers were more interested in money than an apology." Having agreed to pay Jewell, the network owed its viewers an admission that its reporting went over the edge. But news organizations are notoriously reluctant to go public with their own mistakes, even though they are quick to point accusatory fingers and demand that others, either print or electronic, do so. The major media would ap- pear to have a double standard when it comes to such contro- by R.P.L. versial matters. Most members of the media appear eager to play a game of "gotcha" with others but un- able to admit error when their own credibility is challenged. As results, the public sees journalists as arrogant, insensitive, and holier-than-thou. Sound like anyone you know from the content of their pompous editorials? Not to offer this as an excuse for such behavior on the part of my journalistic contemporaries, but as a possible explana- tion, perhaps it pertains to the quick-an-dirty nature of much journalism, where practitioners are defensive about knowing they were being less than thorough. As a simple and inexpensive, if at times painful way for news organizations to improve their credibility, and their pub- lic image, should make it a practice to own up to mistakes quickly and fully, even before being pressured into it. And if its a major gaffe, for example, don't settle for a measly para- graph hidden at the bottom of the obituaries, or a company lawyers who advise, "Don't admit error or you're sorry be- cause you may get sued." The ABC News apology to Philip Morris in 1955 provides a sad anomaly. However, there are a few, albeit rare, examples of media responsibility to the contrary. Interestingly, both come from newspapers, not from any of the electronic mediums. Last fall, the Northwest Arkansas Times ran a front page admission that the paper had conducted an inaccurate and "al- most pathological smear campaign" years earlier against a lo- cal mayoral candidate. The story ran even through the candi- date had lost his libel suit against the paper. The retraction appeared as a banner headline that read "An Apology is Long O v e r d u e " However, as the victim responded, "Unfortunately, no one I know has ever heard of this sort of thing ever happening in a newspaper. I can't help but think that such a commitment...might actually become a contagious phenomenon within your pow- erful profession." Like I said, such retractions are rare. Back in 1987, the pres- tigious New York Tunes - all the news that's fit to print - ran a memorable top-of-page-one story with the headline: A CORRECTION: TIMES WAS IN ERROR ON NORTH'S SECRET-FUND TESTIMONZ. The paper had stated incorrectly that Oliver North testified that when he was on the National Security Council, he and CIA chief William Casey planned to keep secret from President Reagan a fund they wanted to set up for covert operations. The Times discovered its own mistake and confessed the er- ror, even thrgugh nobody had complained that the paper was wrong. That's taking this business of journalistic integrity and cred- ibility to the ultimate degree. The moral of this commentary is that new organizations could save themselves a great deal of grief and earn a much- needed measure of respect by reporting their own blunders with as much gusto as they report on the blunders of others. In other words, we would all learn how to say "Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa," and really mean it. Cloning America- will there ever be another ewe? By Dave Downing There's quite a controversy brewing over the recent clon- ing of a sheep by Scottish scientists. The obvious reason for the controversy is the possibility of cloning - or perhaps the word would be "creating" - a human being. The most frightening thing about this subject is that, ac- cording to all the journals, this is an amazingly simple pro- cess. According to the reports, any lab technician could re- produce the Scots work. The beginning of Jurassic Park has arrived. Time magazine had an excellent report on the-issue this past week in one of their well-prepared articles writer Jeffrey Kluger interspersed four anecdotes within the article, "Will We Follow the Sheep?" These scenarios are as follows: 1. A couple has a daughter that has developed leukemia and is going to die unless a bone marrow transplant from an identical twin can be found. Unfortunately, the daughter is not a twin so the parents have decided to clone her and use the clone to provide the necessary transplant. 2. Asuccessful industrialist, who has never particularly cared for children, now finds it a likeable idea to clone himseff and thus have a child that is in every way like himself. The idea appeals to him. 3. A physics laureate is terminally ill. There may not be another person to have a brain like his for centuries. To pro- vide for the future of science he decides to have himself cloned. 4. A despot who rules a small mid-eastern country has de- c}ded to clone himself so his country will continue to be ruled under his terms and his beliefs long after he is gone. These are four very real possibilities and are they ever food for thought. I contemplated these scenarios for quite some time after reading the article and came to a rather frightening conclusion. Only the fourth, the evil, scenario will work ! In the first scenario it would seem to me that the cloned little girl, being exactly identical, would also develop the dreaded disease. Therefore, it doesn't seem that she would be able to provide a marrow transplant. In the second, the industrialist is described as never having cared much for children and is not likely to be involved in the raising of his clone. Besides, to remain a successful industri- alist he wouldn't have much time for child rearing, There- "fore, someone else would be charged with that amenity. Since the child is being raised by someone else it is unlikely to de- velop the same life style as the "father". The third scenario positively can't work for much the same reason as the second. The scientist is terminally ill. The child clone will clearly be raised by someone else. The clone is as likely to wind up a drug addict as a scientist is. Then comes the fourth - the evil dictator. He will see to it that his clone is properly indoctrinatedl or brain washe& The clone will undergo intensive propaganda studies and is most likely to emerge strong in similar beliefs, perhaps even worse, as his father's. Mankind has entered a very frightening age. Will we clone a human being? Sure we will. No country can stop it. In 1945 before the first atomic test at Trinity there was a percentage of scientists that believed the chain reaction of the nuclear blast would spread to the atmosphere and turn the Earth into a fiery ball. They had the mathematics to prove their-theory. Well, obviously they were wrong. It didn't hap- pen. But amidst this controversy - the bomb was tested any- way! That's frightening. Before long we'll he able to manipulate the DNA strand and instead of creating a clone, we'll be able to modify it: "We can make the human better," they'll say. Hitler tried to do this through selection. Imagine if he'd perfected the Aryan race. Imagine that now we will. NATO a costly dinosaur By Col. David HaskworttL U,S.A., (retired) The French ain't for moving NATO East. Neither are the Rus- sians. Nor are scores of US and  military artd diplomatic big wigs who have extensive experience dealing with Russia. Hemy Kissinger is for it. But his self-serving plan to end the V'mm War- the disaster that brought the U.S. and the now con- quered SouthV'maamthe Ki__ssinger version or'Peace with Hone' - makes me suspect of his ringing endorsement of NAaO's pro- poaxleXlmSion. Since he became a worldwide oracle of all mattees dealing with high strategy, Kissinger has gotten few things fight except how to fill his pockets with gold from arws rack seeking his advice. George E Kennan, whose batting average isa million times bet- ter than Henry's, says expanding NATO to Russia's  gdd he the most "famfu eror in the entire post cold war era." Kennan called the cold wr before one ice crystal had formed and was dead on regarding the insanity of America's involvement in Vietnam. Unlike Kissinger, l-e doem't have a lxeder to walk behind him pick- ing up his dog's &oppings. He lives modestty ancl has never sold advice to anyone. In a word, he's a straight- without any hidden agendas. NATO no longer has a purpose. For forty years, it kept to Soviets cagecL Butsince, 1989, when the E F_mpire henied up and Berlin wall came tumbling down, NATO has been a defense organization  hard for a mission. Yet the Kissinger, Allxights and the rest of the strategic intellec- tual set want to pump air into its copse with the hope that it wiU come back to life. They want Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to be the first of the former Soviet clients to suit up in NATO green, an idea that drives the Russians bankers and could well eventually bring back the cold war - creating real security problems in F_mro. What this is all about is not the defense of Europe - the Western Europeans all have enough bucks to defend themselves - but a desperate maneuver on the part of the pentagon, the-inside-the- beltway Congressional porkers and U.S. defense contractors to keep a prime feeding trough in place. NATO has been a Pentagon job's program and a major player in the American Defense Corporation Welfare Program since General Dwight Eisenhower became its first chief. Trillions of your tax dollars have been spent on the defense of Europe since 1949. We are currently spending over $10 billion a year just to main- rain about 100,000 U.S. troops within NATO countries. When you add the indirect operating costs for overhead and weapons acquisition, the bumper sticker for U.S. participation in NATO virtually doubles to about $20 billion a year. Then plug in the Bosrfias, Macedotfias and AIbarfias and, BINGO, you're pushing $25 billion a year. If the Poles, Czechs, Hungarians and other broke Eastern Eu- ropean countries join NATO, you the American taxpayer can ex- pect to be gouged again big time. Poland's current annual de- fense budget can only purchase oneF- 16 fighter aircraft. Yet, the U.S. Air Force is already negotiating the sale of 100 F-16s to Poland and is leaning on the Czechs to buy this made-in-the-USA fighter aircraft. And the U.S. Navy just offered the Czechs seven F/A-18 "Homet" jets free for five years. Congressional porkers applaud the sale of these aircraft and all the rest of the NATO-cloning gear even if the bill is picked up by the American taxpayer. It means jobs for back home, more votes and more PAC money for their re-election coffers. The Poles, Cz.hs, Hungarians and the rest of the former So- viet satelfite countries deserve protection as does the rest of Eu- rope, including the Russians. But let's protect ourselves and our pocket books by pressuring the existing NATO nations and the former Warsaw pact countries into setting up a Western Euro- pean-financed security agreement that puts all the nations in Eu- rope - including Russia- in the same trenches with their weapons pointed towards China, their next real threat. NATO no longer should he our business. Instead, imagine what we could do at home with $25 billion a year: schools, hos- pitals and churches could be built and time bombs we call inner cities could be defused before they blow. Editor's Note: CoL David Hackworth, USA, ret, isAmerica's mest deco- rated veteran firom the V'tnam  We last interviewed him from Saison, now Ho Chi Mirth City prior to the pull out of American forces in 1975. After the w, he lived as an ex.patriot in Australia for several years and currently resides in Whitefish, Montana. RL