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MARTHA SEZ: Bird flu, politics and the state of the Media

August 20, 2015
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

The Bilgewater Scandal. That's what I call it.

The Media-capital M-thrives on sensationalism. We go from scandal to scandal. Always excepting the Lake Placid News and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, of course, I find that journalists are on the whole pretty slipshod about covering the news.

It is either feast or famine with the Media, blitz or blackout. How many times, after being relentlessly hammered with a story for a week or more, have you tried without success to find out what happened next?

There was bird flu. Remember? Properly called avian influenza (HPAI)H5, it was just about to mutate any minute and become a global pandemic.

Yes, soon, we and our loved ones-as well as a lot of people in faraway lands-would drop off from bird flu. Pictures of barnyard poultry were everywhere. Suddenly chickens assumed a frightening, even evil, mien. Sights that once would have delighted us-a mother duck waddling along followed by a string of ducklings, a great blue heron rising from the brook, a flock of cedar waxwings newly arrived in spring-filled us with dread and trepidation. You can't stop bird migration by building walls.

Fortunately for everyone, the Media dropped that story like a hot potato after it proved disappointing by not going anywhere. Avian influenza virus refused to mutate into a form that could easily spread between humans.

Then, in June of this year, bird flu hit Iowa and Minnesota hard.

According to journalist Trent Gillies of CNBC News, "The worst animal virus outbreak in U.S. history has killed 48 million birds, yet no humans have been infected. Still, the head of the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) Influenza Division (Michael Jhung) says the department is 'concerned' that the bird flu virus may mutate."

This time, however, the Media is concentrating more on the resultant increase in the egg and turkey prices the American public will have to pay than on a coming pandemic.

Whatever happened to all of those children from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador who were massed on our Southwest border a year ago? That's all we heard about on the News for a long time. There was plenty of controversy and alarm. Some politicians stated that the children were carriers of the deadly ebola virus, but they were mistaken, having apparently twirled their globes and confused the continent of Africa with the Americas.

Where are all of those thousands of teens and little children now? In orphanages? Prison camps? Reunited with their families, in the United States or back where they came from? Picking fruits and vegetables in Texas and California? No, really. I want to see photographs, in-depth stories, video.

Practice what you preach, you are saying. What, for example, happened with Adrien Ross Duncan, the astrologer who took such an interest in your upcoming transit period? Last we read in this column, you were toying with the idea of purchasing a reading from Mr. Duncan, using a credit card online, against your better judgment.

Well, I am sorry to tell you that I fear Mr. Duncan's offers of special rates and concern for my future and outright sweet talk were not what they seemed.

What happened is, I decided to ask for a compatibility reading between my astrological chart and the chart of my old friend, Woody. Why have we been such good friends for 48 years? Perhaps the answer is in the stars. Surely, if it is, Adrien could tell us.

The problem was that "compatibility reading" is not one of the choices offered by Adrien Ross Duncan's astrology enterprise. My asking for something off-list threw the organization into a slight tizzy, revealing sleight of hand. My request was answered by someone called George, who offered me the usual promotions. This made Woody and me suspect that the Adrien Ross Duncan enterprise is basically a money-making machine and that he doesn't care for me personally at all. As Woody said, we should probably just ride this transit out by ourselves.

Back to the Bilgewater scandal. I promised myself I wouldn't mention Donald Trump in this column because the News Media is trumpeting his campaign news and practically nothing else at the moment. What are Hillary Rodham Clinton's policies? Has anybody heard? What about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's new publicly funded $250 million stadium deal for the Milwaukee Bucks?

Has anyone heard about anything but Donald Trump's campaign lately?

Never mind. It may be transitory.

Have a good week.



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