By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
The top 5 overlooked
As editor of the Northwest Asian Weekly, one of the hardest aspects of my job is deciding which stories are important to print and which stories are better left in the bin. Unfortunately, the criteria for picking stories is not always straightforward and easy.
I’ve tried to maintain a balance in picking stories that you, our varied readers from many different backgrounds, would want to read and the stories I thought you’d benefit from reading.
To close out 2008, here my top stories of last year that deserve a second look:
1. Taiwan gets a present from the United Statesnukes
What: On March 25, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne told reporters “four non-nuclear nose cone assemblies and their associated electrical components” had been mistakenly shipped to Taiwan, instead of the helicopter batteries Taipei had ordered.
Why this is important: The United States stands in the middle of contentious China and Taiwan. Though the United States publicly accepts that Taiwan and China are part of the same territory, it continues to supply arms to Taiwan in order for it to protect itself from any attempt at forcible reunification by China.
Shipping the nuke parts that should have been batteries to Taiwan could have potentially been like arming a child with a gun to protect himself from a school bully.
To top it all off, this embarrassing incident for the United States was not just a one-time mistake. It was actually a part of a string of incidents.
2. The war neither heard nor seen
What: In 2008, a survey reported that an estimated 45,000 Congolese were dying every month from war, disease, and malnutrition. A total of 5.4 million victims died because of the Second Congo War (1998-2003).
Why this is important: Though the war formally ended in 2003, instability and violence continue to this day. The fatalities have surpassed any other modern war since World War II. Though NWAW primarily covers news events from Asian communities, I feel this deserves attention as it has been underreported in the media.
3. A government shunned aid during natural disaster
What: Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar (Burma) on May 2, killing more than an estimated 146,000 people (double that of the Sichuan earthquake)
Why this is important: Cyclone Nargis is the worst natural disaster in Burma’s recorded history. Why haven’t we heard more about this? The reason is two-fold.
Firstly, the cyclone occurred a scant 10 days before the Sichuan earthquake, which ended up overshadowing Cyclone Nargis in the news. Secondly, the Burmese government’s official death toll is grossly underreported to minimize political fallout. Relief efforts were also disrupted due to political reasons as the Burmese government initially resisted aid.
4. Christians persecuted in India
What: Christians, particularly those in seven Indian states — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Orissa, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh — are victims of Hindu extremism.
Why this is important: Many have theorized that anti-Christian violent acts in India may have led to the Mumbai attacks in November. Christian persecution is thought to be the result of the East’s perception that Christianity is a Western religion even though it has existed longer in the Middle East, Egypt, and India than it has in Europe.
5. Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, Robert L. Barr — who?
What: Third party and Independent candidates are largely ignored in U.S. elections
Why this is important: The existence of Third Party and Independent candidates for the U.S. presidency speaks for our democracy — that the United States is a free country in which leaders can choose any platform they wish. Unfortunately, due to the way our political system works and our nation’s history, it’s nearly impossible for a third party to gain much foothold.
But does that mean the media should completely ignore them and their stances?
The top 5 overrated
In 2008, we were inundated with too much news that shouldn’t have been news. Yes, I know NWAW reported on most of these events — multiple times, too. Yes, I realize the irony in reporting them again, right now. Therefore, I won’t waste too many words on them.
1. Beijing scandals — gymnasts’ ages and little girls lip-syncing
2. North Korean Leader Jong-il Kim has a stroke — or does he?
3. Impending economic apocalypse
4. High gas prices
5. Sarah Palin … Sarah Palin’s wardrobe … Sarah Palin’s family … Sarah Palin’s Joe-the-Plumber. (end)
Time Magazine, Reuters, and BBCNews contributed to this report.
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.