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New York as Seen from Two Thousand Miles Away

Behind The News
March 24, 2008 1:55:07 PM PDT
It's a strange thing, to travel to a foreign country and realize that many of the people there can watch the news from here in New York. Technology has indeed linked us in ways that I'm not sure we fully appreciate yet. As I was checking out of a hotel in Costa Rica on Friday, the front desk clerk leaned in and said, quietly, "We all watch you every night on Eyewitness News."

This is a country where the average monthly income is $325; yet many can still hook up to satellite TV. You can see the dishes attached to the roofs of even some of the poorest homes.

I'm not sure how to fully interpret what it means for how others view us. I do know that technology made it relatively easy to keep up with what was happening here while I was there (although I did limit myself to only one-a-day updates on the news. This was, after all, a vacation!)

And there was plenty to make one upset -- whether it was the scandalous behavior of the New York City Dept. of Buildings with that deadly crane collapse in Midtown, or the behavior of the new New York Governor, which from afar I found far less scandalous and, in fact, profoundly personal for the Governor and his wife. Did we have to know all this, that he and his wife had been unfaithful to each other? Gov. David Paterson apparently thought we did, because he disclosed it. But, sheesh, I felt uncomfortable just reading all about it.

And how about former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey? Did we have to know about their threesomes?

Then there's the federal bailout of Bear Stearns and the bottom-feeding by J.P. Morgan, which today was forced by shareholder uprisings to quintuple its takeover price, from $2 per share, to $10 per share. I'm not alone when I wonder why it is that these executives are pulling in gazillion dollars in salary and bonuses -- privatizing their profits - and then socializing the losses.

I've nothing against socializing the losses as long as we socialize the profits as well. Why should taxpayers be the funders of last resort when they aren't entitled to any of the spoils when times are good?

And the poor folks who are losing their homes to these predatory mortgage companies -- what about them? They certainly aren't getting their losses socialized, although they are getting, thanks to President Bush, free mortgage foreclosure counseling.

And what scandals and travesties and calamities await us this week? We will find out, beginning tonight at 11.

The war in Iraq is likely to make it into the newscast, what with the 4,000th American fatality now recorded. Tens of thousands of other troops have been injured -- some of them permanently, and many with brain injuries. And hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed. Tonight in our area, there are various memorials and vigils to remember those who have died.

And here's a sobering fact: 62 of the troops killed have been from New York City -- the most of any city in the country. The average age of all those killed so far in the five-year-old war: 21.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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