Sunday, August 09, 2015


I have become a devoted fan of BBC World News, probably the most thorough, least commercial-ridden source of broadcast news.  News that is actually news, with a minimum of sky-diving  grannies, reunited twins, and all that other human-interest drivel.  News with a European slant and a little too much soccer, but...look, I may as well be honest.  I love the crawls.

Those phrases that slide across the bottom of the screen are a feature of every "news" channel, as if to say, "There's just so much to cover, we can't get it all in, go to our website, subscribe to our Twitface page, send us your photos, ooh, here comes another one..."  Yes, but the ones on the Beeb are special, intriguing, more like a secret code.  Rarely does the newsreader even mention the best ones.  A few weeks ago it said STRIKE DISRUPTS TRAINS AND UNDERGROUND, leaving me to guess which country has rail, subways and unions.  France?  Japan?  Canada?  I never did find out. 

This week the unsung hero who types these things surpassed herself/himself.  RUSSIA BULLLDOZES CHEESE MOUNTAIN, it said, causing landslides and cascades in my brain all afternoon.  Cries out for video, doesn't it?  Where is this mountain?  Why?  Who built it, and who destroyed it?  Why have I never heard of a Russian cheese?  Was Ukraine --not mentioned for weeks on American media -- somehow involved?  Did Putin sense another bare-chested photo-op and drive the lead bulldozer?  Who doesn't like cheese?

Reader, they got me.  I went to their website, and the real story is sadder, weirder, and more prosaic than you might expect:  The cheese, together with other foods, was imported illegally after Vlad the Disdainer banned products from countries which hit Russia with sanctions after the annexation of Crimea.  Russians whose rubles are steadily losing purchasing power were as outraged as Russians ever seem to get.  "It's like our authorities don't care about the people," said Olga Saveleva, who has started an online petition (which should be at "" but isn't), and whose murder will not be solved.  No, I hope not, but look at the record.

Not big enough for American newsertainment, which devoted countless hours to the lion that died so some schmuck dentist could have his Hemingway moment (#FelineLivesMatter).  How grateful we are to the BBC in these dark days, bringing us news of fresh disasters.  And decomposing cheese.    




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