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August 14, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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August 14, 1997
 

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10 Thursday, August 14, 1997 Pahrump Valley Gazette Not always media's fault Reader heal thyself, I am often critical of the media, particularly the elec- tronic media, and the majority of you must agree with me since reporters constantly come out near the bottom of the list in most polls. When I first signed up with the Associated Press in 1965 it was a proud profession. Most members of the media held a degree of respect. Somewhere along the line that changed. Since I saw that change gradually occur it has often bothered me that I did it. I had a dream once in which an editor told me that the profession was great until I entered it. Oh well. There is no doubt that the swing to tabloid journalism, while increasing sales, has hurt the respect of the profession. In the electronic media the "sound bite" has become the God of sales. Inside Edition, American Journal, Extra are all examples of this type of journalism. They go for the sensa- tional and the method of reporting is "fast-moving." The local news with the "pretty boy" anchor started it all. Used to be you'd get an experienced journalist with bags under his eyes and looked like he just staggered out of the neighborhood bar (which he often did). Wasn't much to look at but, by gosh, he delivered a factual news report. Most of these anchors saw the world first-hand and close-up. Walter Cronkite wrote of his World War II experiences and his coverage of the Nuremberg Trials as a reporter for United Press. On the other hand, I have found the reader is often at fault for "misinformation." It's a common mistake to say that you read that 20,000 people died in an earthquake. Someone else tells you they had read it was 2,000. When you go back and check the article you read, sure enough, it reads 2,000. Your eyes and brain somehow inserted a extra zero. NORTHERN EXPOSURE by Dave Downing I once wrote a feature story about the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder, Colo. The NBS, among many other things, is the nation's timekeeper. One weekend the world's time was to be adjusted by one second. This is necessary because the atomic cesium clock they use is extremely precise, while the earth's rotation is not quite as precise. The earth is slowing down. So I began the feature story with the indication that I was going to inform my wife that I would have a little "extra" time this weekend and if she would give me a list of things to do, I would see to it that I would accomplish all I could with the extra time I had. With that said, I launched into an expianation of the NBS inserting an extra second into the world's time. I had pictures of the atomic cesium clock, huge antennas at Boulder where the time signals are sent from and a lot of other information about the NBS and the work they do. My editor, correctly maintaining that I should return to the original theme at the end of the article, added the sentence, "I'm sure my wife will appreciate the extra work I'll get done because of the time change." The feature editor slugged it, "Time For A Small Change," and it was well placed on the back page of our weekend magazine Focus. No, I'm not being facetious. The back page of a magazine-type publication is the second most read page in the magazine according to industry studies. Monday morning all hell broke loose. We got no less than a dozen calls screaming at us because people had set their clocks back one hour and it completely screwed them up. We pulled the page, read it and re-read it a hundred times. -,, How people had misconstrued the article was completely beyond us. Anyone who had read the entire article would never have run for their clocks. But it happened. Clearly, there is a problem with the reader. Do we sometimes interpret an article completely out of context? Do we more or less read what we want to read, not necessar- ily what the words say? These are questions for a psychol- ogy department to take up but, based on experience, I believe it to be so. Perhaps a rose is not always a rose. Hail Britannia by Richard Real Great Britain's role before and during the Gulf War reflects little credit on Her Majesty's Government. As revealed by Richard Scott's report in the London newspa- per the Independent, British ministers and diplomats not only provided Saddam Hussein with vast quantifies of military weapons but also loaned him the money to buy them! Scott has exposed the elaborate humbug and self deception by which British bureaucrats and diplomats approved these exports to a brutal dictator and potential enemy. The Foreign Office simply did not want to know whether they were approving war materiel. This reached a climax with the development of an Iraqui monster gun by the British company Walter Somers. (If memory serves, this was initially revealed by a U.S. intelligence source. British intelligence found it less than credible but was forced by U.S. pressure to terminate the project) Parliament had the right to be informed of how public money was being spent on arming Iraq. But Parliament was not told because the loans were absurd and highly danger- ous. They suited the arms makers, the bankers and Saddam, but they would not please a public interested in peace and saving money. After the Gulf War, Britain was faced with around $1.5 billion of unpaid and uneollectable debts. Britain's own role in the War was considerably less than distinguished. Its mustering of armed forces revealed that four British armored divisions stationed on the Rhine in Germany were so ill-maintained that only the equivalent of a single division was fit to be deployed to Iraq. This was only the beginning. Their Challenger tanks broke down so often that the Royal Air Force (RAF) had to deliver a steady stream of spare parts. Vickers had to supply civilian engineers to manage the repairs. Some tank crews had not fired their tank's main gun in two years! This salvaged division was only 23 per cent effective and its senior generals were not even aware of it! The British infantry complained that their brand new SA- 80 assault rifles were prone to jamming. The Royal Navy had Changing Patterns ::,::- ........ no cruise missiles for long-range,offshore attacks. The RAF had no helicopter gunships to support the American Apaches in night attacks. It sent its Tornados in on low-level daylight bombing raids and lost at least one a day. When the opening battle of the land war loomed, U.S. General Norman Schwarzkopf, the Supreme Land Com- mander in the Gulf, invited the British Commander to lead the attack alongside the U.S.Marines. Sir Peter de la Billiere declined. Instead Britain applied pressure to have its ar- mored division moved to a "safer" section of the front. One of the hidden agendas of the Gulf War involved the military industrial complexes in the countries involved. Arms manufacturers wanted to advertise their weapons as "battle-tested" and hoped for soaring sales. The Military hoped to evaluate tactics on a sterile battlefield far from home. The politicians wanted to demonstrate that their respective governments were world powers to be reckoned with. In all three categories, the U.S. came out on top. The French also made out very well on the rating of their, military equipment and in subsequent arms sales. Britain was a very poor third. British performance in the War hovered between the disastrous and the irrelevant. As to the public agenda for the War, Kuwait had been liberated, but Saddam Hussein has remained in power and continues to be a threat to Mid-East peace. George Bush and Margaret Thatcher have both been swept out of office. Some people may wonder who won the war! Author's Note: Most of the materialin this column was abstracted from articles by Peter Beaumont in the London Observer and Anthony Sampson in the London Independent. Slim has a tall tale of Lake Tahoe Living about halfway between Las Vegas and Reno has its advantages and some say disadvantages. But we excuse them as they don't know any better. A nice thing about living here is when people come to visit we don't have to take and show them all the hot spots that these other two cities offer. Our TV comes out of Reno so naturally we get to hear all that's going on up there, and the only news coverage they allow to be aired about Las Vegas or Pahrumpis if something bad has happened. , So when Reno had its floods we heard all about it. Now thats over and what we're getting is stuff about the railroad tracks which run through the center of town and how they want to develop the river front, which also runs through the center of town. Somebody Came up with the bright idea of lowering the railroad tracks and, maybe the same guy, a plan to transform the river front into a fancy walk with shops, restaurants, etc. All this, by the way, in the same area where we were seeing pictures of it all being under water. But who am I to comment. I ain't no politician or devel- oper and maybe I watch too much TV which led to this scenario. A band of Arab neo-Nazi-Militant-right-wing conserva- five BLM-ATF radicals (I may have left somebody out) hatch a plot to bring America and Reno to its mercy. It starts out with the hijacking of a cruise ship loaded with newlyweds and radioactive waste peacefully plying the waters of Lake Tahoe where they had been awaiting the annual whale migration. While their attention was thus diverted a bunch of these radicals show up surrounding the ship on their jet skis Slim Sez by Slim Sirnes and the first of the evil starts. Why did they do this, you may ask. Go ahead and ask. As now the next phase of the plot unfolds where the captain of the ship is directed to bead his ship down the Truckee River, which just so happens to go through the center of Reno. The captain, a wily old sea dog, tries unsuccessfully to tip them by deliber- ately heading his ship into a coral reef. But the villains lookout spots the waves breaking over the reef in time. The captain should have waited for high tide when the reefs were hidden. None of the passengers notice .anything amiss. The newly weds, doing whatever newly weds, do and the old geezers and gezzerets were too busy showing each other pictures of their grandkids and describing their last opera- tion. So it was just another typical day on a cruise ship. Then the screen changes to a Reno setting showing the newly developed river front with people sitting around enjoying the pleasant invigorating winter weather and the gentle Washoe zephyrs. The reason they're out there sitting is they are darn near broke and wondering how they're going to get home with Donnor Pass all snowed in. The trains aren't running either as some engineer chickened out when he saw that the water standing in the underground tunnel was up to the conductors' ankles. Which wouldn't have been a problem.except the conductor was standing on his hands at the time. Then one of the more alert, spots the cruise ship coming down the Truckee. "Oh look," he cried, "they've got riverboat gambling. Lets board and we can get off at Sacramento and tell the insurance company our car was stolen." Continued next week. Have a good one!