God of Thunder and Rock'n'Roll (archmage) wrote,
God of Thunder and Rock'n'Roll

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A Look Into The Media

Interesting doings in the papers today...says a lot about the state of the world

The Washington Post leads with a World Health Organization plan to expand HIV treatment in the developing world tenfold over the next two years. This story doesn't seem to appear in the other major papers.

The New York Times leads with the $13 billion in grants and loans that the U.S. raised for Iraq reconstruction at a donors' conference. (The Post off-leads this story, and the Los Angeles Times puts it above the fold.) The LAT leads with state test results showing that California high schools are bad but getting better. (About two-thirds of the schools met state improvement requirements this year, twice the number that did last year. Yet the same tests that measured improvement revealed that only about a third of 10th and 11th graders were deemed "proficient" in English.)

Now, why is this? Iraq...jeezus, haven't we heard enough? They're bad and we have to bomb them...then they have WMD and we have to destroy them...then we can't find any...then we CAN find them...then we made up the evidence...then we are doing it ourselves...then we'll allow the UN...then we'll SORTA let the UN...then we allow them...Look, it's beyond the average citizen, since the government doesn't listen to us anyway. Can we move on? Of course not, it's a red flag topic, and thus sells papers. Reporting the news is second to profit.

Standards of education? OK, sure, good to know where improvements can be made...but for the rest of the country, the state of one state is fodder for humour or derision. However, you're talking education, "teaching our children", and THAT sells papers. What was that about profit?

AIDS research and HIV treatment. Thanks to the media, what do we associate AIDS with? Homosexuality and drug use. There are still, believe it or not, those who espouse the idea that AIDS is a plague sent to punish people, or other equally moronic statements. So, leading with a story about expanding HIV treatment is basically going against those beliefs, making it just a disease (which it is, kids). As this is against the fervent beliefs of a bunch of people (sad to say, most of them are highly religious, hence their stance) who are very clannish and tend to do dumb things like getting all their friends togetehr to boycott things...well, that kind of headline can hurt a paper. NOT Because they are spreading lies and falsehoods, and NOT because they are hurting someone or underhandly dealing, but because they are DOING THEIR JOB, i.e. 'to report the factual happenings of the world'...to report the news.

For your own edification, more about the HIV treatment expansion:

The WHO wants to make HIV retroviral drugs available to 3 million people in poor countries by the end of 2005. Currently, 300,000 people in these countries receive the drugs (half are Brazilians), and about 5 million need them. The organization's plan, which emphasizes efficiency at the expense of clinical precision, calls for combining three medicines in a single tablet. Nurses, community organizations, and family members, not just doctors, will distribute the drugs. The three-in-one pill will simplify the complicated multi-pill schedule that patent law requires in rich nations; this will reduce the partial compliance that launches resistant strains of the virus. However, these measures will preclude individual dosing adjustments for patients who experience unpleasant side effects.

The Post's WHO story mentions the announcement by the William J. Clinton Foundation, that it has secured agreements with several third-world pharmaceutical companies to provide retrovirals to the poor at costs lower than previously thought possible. The Post notes that pharmaceutical companies in the developed world oppose the three-in-one pill on patent grounds. It also reports that the Bush Administration, which has pledged $15 billion to fight HIV in poor nations over the next five years, has yet to side with either the pro- or anti-patent crowd. The article does not adequately explain what, if any, control the WHO has over international patent law, or who will pay for the plan.

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