Good news II

Friend shared on facebook: One of the best things you can do to cleanse your mind is to stop reading the newspapers, stop watching the news, turn news 24 off, turn radio news off. The news is so disproportionately biased towards bad news, that it makes us believe that the world is a bad place to live. Stop letting ‘news’ infect your mind.

So I listened to The PM Programme. How bad is it? Eddie Mair starts with the words “Fred Talbot: Teacher, TV weatherman, child abuser.”

New revelations on tax: HMRC did not prosecute a wealthy businessman even though he told them he had not paid tax for 24 years.

The scale of the rubbish we dump in the sea.

Then, the news headlines. The bombing of the city of Dresden has been commemorated again. Headlines broadcast a soundbite of Justin Welby’s sermon stating his “regret and deep sorrow”.

Headlines: fighting in eastern Ukraine has intensified.

Increasing number of young people don’t drink alcohol. The proportion of 16-24 year olds who are teetotal increased from 19-27%.

Featured reports: 5.05-5.09   Fred Talbot. Is the conviction of a criminal “good” or “bad” news? Bad that a teacher should abuse children, good that he should be convicted. His crimes were in the 1970s. In 1984 he resigned because he had propositioned two boys. There has been a huge change of culture to permit such prosecutions.

5.09-5.13 8 million tonnes of rubbish has been dumped in the oceans in a year. Plastic is a light material, with low density. It may double by 2025, and animals ingest plastic or get entangled in it. Again good: we care about these things. Finding out is a step towards taking action.

5.13-5.17 tax and tax evasion. HMRC failed to prosecute one of Britain’s most flagrant tax cheats. Paul Bloomfield with a fortune of £60m claimed to have no income. He claimed to have his helicopter and jet paid for by “benefactors”. The incompetence of HMRC pursuing the rich, and its vindictiveness pursuing the poor who were blamelessly overpaid tax credits, angers me. The only good I can find is that we are hearing about this, and our anger may have some positive effect.

5.17-5.20 schools in Liberia have been closed because of the Ebola threat, but next week are reopening. “People don’t shake hands any more, it has changed our way of life.” Children have been stuck at home for seven months, and had an hour’s radio tutorial every evening. The interview concentrates on the difficulties and uncertainties, but reopening is good news.

5.20-5.27 Thaw in relation between Cuba and the US. Students turned out for the March of the Torches celebrating Jose Martin, hero of the Revolution. Vox pop of the students: one said the problem was between the governments, not the people. Young people want change, including greater access to the internet. Clearly good news.

5.27-5.30 Headlines repeated.

5.30-5.35 Will digital material held in the Cloud be lost, if we do not preserve the technology to play them? Backwards compatibility is not guaranteed. Some say the files can be migrated to new formats, and the UK Digital Curation Centre has done a great deal of work developing tools and techniques.

5.35-5.39 The attack on Dresden firestorm killed 25,000 people. Justin Welby: So much of your story and the journey which brings us together in this beautiful place is for sombre reflection as well as rejoicing. The welcome is “miraculous”, he said. Indeed it is. We are friends now. The President of the Republic said that Germany started the war, and Germans do not forget the victims of Germany even when they remember German victims.

5.39-5.43 Rosa Parks’ private papers were sent to the Library of Congress, and have now been opened up to researchers. We celebrate her courage and achievements.

So the news can be seen as good news. Some horrible stories are told, but there is hope in almost all of this. I am glad to listen to it.

BBC Home Service

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