Weekly Roundup 3/14/2011

"Japan must concentrate on recovering, learning from quake"
Editorial, The Mainichi Daily News

"Swift response needed for victims of devastating earthquake"
Editorial, Asahi

Synposis: Editorials from the English-language newspaper Mainichi Daily News and the English-language website of Asahi, one of Japan’s largest newspapers, comment on the 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan on Friday. Explore both sites for news and photo coverage of the damage from the world’s fourth-strongest quake in more than a century and the explosions at one of Japan’s nuclear power plants.

Takeaway: “Let us all work together to bring relief to the victims as soon as possible.”

--Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor

Is the United States ready for a major earthquake? See Thomas J. Bilitteri, “Earthquake Threat,” [subscription required] CQ Researcher, April 9, 2010.


"Japan Disaster Reopens Nuclear Debate in Europe and the U.S."
Stephen Evans, BBC News, March 14, 2011

Synopsis: Just when U.S. environmentalists have hesitantly joined many national governments and the energy industry in backing greater use of nuclear power to cut carbon emissions, Japanese authorities struggle to contain meltdowns at a power plant in last week’s earthquake zone.

Takeaway: “President Obama is in pro-nuclear agreement with Republicans,” writes Evans. “He believes that nuclear power provides a relatively cheap form of energy, and one which doesn't produce global warming gases like coal, gas and oil-fired power stations do. Even environmental groups in the United States, unlike in Europe, believe that nuclear power has a place because of its light carbon footprint. But this was a fragile consensus and it is hard to see how it won't now come under pressure.”

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer

For background, see Jennifer Weeks, “Managing Nuclear Waste,” [subscription required] CQ Researcher, Jan. 28, 2011.


At State-Run Homes, Abuse and Impunity
Danny Hakim, The New York Times, March 13, 2011

Synopsis: In a year-long investigation, The New York Times found widespread sexual and other abuse of developmentally disabled residents in New York State’s network of more than 2,000 state-run group homes. In hundreds of cases, employees who sexually abused, taunted or beat residents were rarely fired, even after repeated offenses. Often, they were simply transferred to other group homes. Moreover, despite a state law requiring such incidents to be reported to police, fewer than 5 percent of some 13,000 allegations were reported.

Takeaway: Again, another story of horrific abuse that eerily recalls a similar episode, also in New York State, some 50 years ago. Not to go all First Amendment on you, but if you
ever had any doubts about the importance of the right of free speech to our society – and correspondingly the importance of crusading journalism – read this story.

--Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor


Learning to Love the (Shallow, Divisive, Unreliable) New Media,”
James Fallows, The Atlantic, April, 2011

An influential journalist who had been a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, Fallows in the 1990s took up the cause of high-minded journalism consciously devoted to the public good. The news media’s growing appetite for scandal was driving out quality coverage, Fallows wrote at the time. Now, he concedes that the war is over and his side lost – but didn’t lose everything. A tidal wave of “infotainment” hasn’t swept away all serious journalism, he says. And the media and IT industries remain so dynamic, he argues, that new ways of engaging the public on issues and events are sure to emerge.

--Peter Katel, Staff Writer

For background, see Tom Price, “Journalism Standards in the Internet Age,” [subscription required] CQ Researcher, Oct. 8, 2010.


Secret Fears of the Super-Rich
Graeme Wood, The Atlantic, April 2011

A new study by Boston College of the super-wealthy – those with at least $25 million -- finds that money may buy leisure but it may not buy happiness. Some of the nation’s ultra-rich report angst, guilt and an elusive quest for love and self worth.

Takeaway: “If anything, the rich stare into the abyss a bit more starkly than the rest of us,” Wood writes. “We can always indulge in the thought that a little more money would make our lives happier – and in many cases it’s true. But the truly wealthy know that appetites for material indulgence are rarely sated.”

--Thomas J. Billitteri, Managing Editor

For background, see Peter Katel, “Philanthropy in America,” [subscription required] CQ Researcher, Dec. 8, 2006.