Israel attack; Polar Bears in danger...

Behind The News
May 14, 2008 1:23:06 PM PDT
"So, how come you never cover good news?" It may be the most commonly asked question I get. Certainly in the top five.

Can you imagine how many people -- or how few might be more accurate -- watch a newscast filled with features and "good" news? We do try to put in a story that reflects well on humanity - last week's concert by a famous violinist for cabbies in Newark, to thank a taxi driver who found the musician's rare and expensive violin in the back seat of his cab.

But the hard, perhaps sad, truth is that the world revolves around events that are not always feel-good kind of stories.

Today is one of them.

The news abroad remains depressing and devastating.

First stop, Myanmar, the country once known as Burma. The new estimate of dead and missing from last week's cyclone has now hit 200,000, double what had been the previous high-end estimate.

And the new estimate of people who need "immediate assistance" is now 1,500,000, with 300,000 who are "desperately in need." There was a new cyclone warning for the country earlier today; fortunately, that advisory has been cancelled.

Next stop, to the north and east in China, where the death toll is now at an estimated 20,000 from Monday's earthquake. And there's a real possibility that the damage to infrastructure is far worse than originally thought .

Of most concern tonight is the status of 400 dams that suffered damage. About 2,000 soldiers have been sent to the area, trying to plug what they're calling "very dangerous" cracks.

We'll have the latest from both disasters, tonight at 11.

And as long as we're on the subject of looming crises -- this alert crossed the wire today: "The Interior Department is listing the polar bear as a threatened species because of declining Arctic sea ice."

It's a big deal because it's the Bush Administration's Interior Department, and they're admitting that global warming is to blame for the decline in the polar bear population. The news isn't as acutely devastating as the stories from Myanmar and China, but ultimately what happens because of climate change (when did that become the phrase of preference? Is it because it sounds less ominous than "global warming"?) can affect many more people.

We'll have the impact of this polar bear story, tonight at 11.

There was an attempt at good news today in Israel, where the celebration of the Jewish state's 60th anniversary played, to use the words from an ABC News reporter there, "like a U.S./Israel/Bush love fest."

The President was reportedly moved to near tears at some points after Prime Ministers Olmert's remarks, praising Mr. Bush and how "everybody in Israel knows we can always depend on our greatest ally."

Meanwhile, the President, who says he wants to forge a peace in the region before he leaves office in (at this writing and if you're counting) 250 days, 20 hours and 44 minutes, apparently is not meeting with anyone from the "other side" in the two sides he wants to bring together in peace.

N.J. Burkett is in Israel for us tonight at 11.

And, keeping with the evasive peace theme, Kemberly Richardson tonight has an emotional story about a new Sesame Street DVD, which, using Muppets, explains to children the whys and wherefores about their parents getting redeployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. There are 700,000 kids in this country who have at least one parent away in the military.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg with his 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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