Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Flooding in China

Around the globe in several countries, there are massive floods this year (as there were last year) & several immense forest fires on the scale of Colorado. Most of these have gone completely unreported by US media, though they have wreaked terrible destruction & dislocated millions of people. This photo from Chongqing, China shows an elderly woman being rescued & evacuated from her flooded neighborhood.The flooding in Beijing (over 1,000 miles from Chongqing) is the worst in over 60 years. Apparently the government response to the floods is reminiscent of Bush after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. This provoked fierce criticism of the regime by thousands of microbloggers. They expressed outrage no emergency broadcast system was deployed, complained that some of Beijing’s 37 deaths could have been prevented with proper warnings, criticized inadequate rescue services & that no shelters were provided, & denounced Beijing’s ancient drainage system. One blogger said: "We can host the most luxurious Olympics & send satellites into space but can never seem to fix the drainage system.” What drew the greatest scorn was the government call for donations to an emergency flood relief fund. In China (as in the US), the Red Cross is associated with the government & last year was nailed in a major scandal over flagrant misappropriation of funds so the regime could hardly hide behind the Red Cross--as they continue to do in the US. According to the Beijing Times, the Chinese government (or as US media puts it, “Beijing’s propaganda chief”) ordered Chinese media to “correctly guide public opinion” & stick to stories of “achievements worthy of praise & tears”. So to distract from the government’s response, media focused on touching tales of residents helping rescue each other. Is that shades of US network news, or what!?  But the difference is the US media doesn’t need censors to coerce. Happy patter & heart warming banalities are their stock in trade & covering for treachery is what they’re paid to do. (Photo by AFP)

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