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Hot news, cold news 

Do you ever wonder how some stories in the news get covered extensively; others, seemingly more important, get little coverage, and still others get no coverage at all?

Here are a few examples of what I mean by COLD NEWS. These are stories that are "out there" but there is little or no follow-up.

• In Iraq, it has been reported that $8.8 billion allocated to the Coalition Provisional Authority has been "lost." This astounding sum of money was stolen, misallocated, or otherwise frittered away while Paul Bremer was in charge of the CPA. There has been no public explanation of what happened to the money or how the loss is being investigated. And no one in the mainstream media seems to be pursuing the issue. Why not? As you will recall, Bill and Hillary Clinton's $68,000 lost investment in Whitewater generated a five-year investigation.

• Before the war, there was much discussion about Iraq having the second largest oil reserves in the world (behind only Saudi Arabia), and cynics maintained that this was the real reason for the war. Since then, there have been a few stories about sporadic attacks on the pipelines but little other hard news about what is happening with Iraqi oil. Who is now in control of this oil, where is it going, at what price, and who is profiting from it? What role are American oil companies playing? Other international oil companies? Iraqis?

• The retail price of gasoline in the US has risen about 50 percent since Bush took office. Home heating oil is up even more. This news is being covered in a cursory manner, somewhat like the weather. But who is reporting on the entire picture? The Bush administration is laced with oil-industry people, the country's energy policy is being driven by these insiders, oil-industry profits are at an all-time high, and scandals at high-profile energy companies like Halliburton and Enron are grossly under reported.

• We've all heard about the huge deficits in our trade balance, the weakening dollar, the federal budget deficit (now at record levels, with no end in sight), continual records in personal bankruptcies, an almost non-existent savings rate. Where is all this leading? Surely, it can't be to a good end. Is there a major story here?

• How unpopular America has become around the world is not well publicized in this country. That news is difficult to accept and people don't want to hear about it, so the mainstream media ignore it. After all, it's hard to sell products when the ads are wrapped around such downer news. It's more palatable if the ads are wrapped around news of murder, mayhem, and salacious scandals.

What's been the HOT NEWS?

• The Laci Petersen trial;

• The Robert Blake trial;

• The Michael Jackson trial;

• The Terri Schaivo story;

• The runaway bride story;

• The missing teenager in Aruba story;

• The new Harry Potter book story;

• The Carl Rove story.

At least the Carl Rove story has some relevance --- but it's not the "who said what to whom when and is it a crime" that's important. The real issues, and they are very important ones, are the rationale for why we went to war in Iraq and the attacks being made on anyone questioning the Bush administration about it.

One can only guess at the important news that is being ignored. Here are just three suggestions:

• The abysmal state of the election process in the world's greatest democracy;

• Why 40 percent of Gulf War I veterans are too sick to work;

• Why the US health-care system, costing 78 percent more than the average in the other major industrialized nations, gets worse public-health results.

We will all be better off when the COLD NEWS and NO NEWS begins to supplant the HOT NEWS. Is it going to happen any time soon? Sad to say, don't count on it.

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