Five quick takes on news of the day

Herb Strentz reflects on stories that have been in the news lately. -promoted by Laura Belin

Readers of Bleeding Heartland have much to be grateful for in the state government reporting of editor Laura Belin and in her conscientious editing of what others post here. But sometimes our thoughts don’t merit or need the 700 or more words that occupy Bleeding Heartland space and readers’ time. 

Here are five quick takes on recent events, each of whose urgency, impact, or nature can be handled in fewer than 170 words.

• In late June, the Des Moines Register and Associated Press covered a report issued by the Iowa Attorney General’s office, which found “In Iowa…the incidence and duration of sexual abuse by clergy were ‘overwhelming,’ and the cover-up ‘extensive’.”

Just a few days before, the Register and newspapers across the nation had reported that the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops had advanced a conservative push to deny communion to President Joe Biden. The move targets the country’s second Catholic president (and a faithful one at that) for his beliefs on abortion issues. For generations, however, many Catholic bishops have taken no such steps against priests who sexually abused children yet always prepared, partook in and served the sacrament.

• TIME magazine’s July 5-12 edition had a feature noting how semiconductors “drive the world,” and microchip production in China and South Korea threatens American self-reliance. By way of example, the article listed some “everyday items that rely on microchips”: TOASTER, TV, REFRIGERATOR, COFFEE MACHINE…TANK…

And you thought we were not a militarized society!

• Obituaries of Janet Malcolm (1934-2021) emphasized how she drew the wrath of many journalists and praise from some of their targets with her oft-quoted line, “Every journalist who is not too stupid or to full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.” Her specific target was a reporter/author who deceived a person charged with murder so he could get an exclusive.

A former newsroom colleague shared this thought: “As for quotes about journalists, I like this from a city councilwoman at Ed Clough’s funeral: ‘He never misquoted me or asked a stupid question.’”

I had known Ed, a veteran city hall reporter in Fresno, California, as a colleague on The Fresno Bee long, long ago. Ed never thought telling readers what was going on in Fresno government was “morally indefensible.” Nor do current reporters who tell readers and viewers what government is doing. That’s what the press clause in the First Amendment is all about.

• We’re having renewed interest in Unidentified Flying Objects and extraterrestrial aliens. I’ve studied press coverage of saucers in particular and UFOs in general. Here’s an insight from the late Carl Sagan that I like. He offered it in his whimsical and yet intriguing style in 1967, when he visited the government-sponsored UFO Project at the University of Colorado where I was a “research associate.” My recollection of Sagan’s take on UFOs:

Yes, we’ve been visited by saucers or scout ships from the intergalactic system of technological societies. We popped up in their surveillance system when we went nuclear with our weaponry. So scout ships visited. Their report was Earth was too violent, that we would be a threat to the peace and sanity of intergalactic governance. So, thanks to Earth, our solar system has been quarantined. it’s been deemed futile to even think about our being a partner in intergalactic society. We’re written off as a waste of time, bent for self-destruction.

• That’s a downer to end on. But as I was writing this, we received an email from my cousin Joanne. One of her granddaughters had been experiencing a very worrisome pregnancy, to put it mildly. But the email reported that Theodore Anthony was now part of the family and he and mother were doing well.

Nice to end on something positive and important.

Tags: Media, Religion

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