Crisis in China and Myanmar

I think the prayers of the junta in Myanmar were answered when the earthquake in China occurred. It has taken an immense amount of pressure off the foul leadership in Burma, especially from the Western media. Today, I think Myanmar fell off the news cycle. On NBC Nightly News, the lead story was China, but the second story was... West Virginia? Also, China got five minutes. Five minutes, while seconds were wasted on Clinton and Obama running into each other on the Senate floor This is pathetic. Hurricane Katrina was an undeniable and unfortunate tragedy. However, it was covered as if it were a catastrophe which exceeded the scale of either China and Myanmar. Much of the coverage involved negative attacks on the government response and over-reports of deaths and unrest.

In Myanmar, one of the major impediments to better coverage may be the refusal of the government to allow reporters. It seems that major television news is unable to figure a way to attack the story from the outside.

The reporting in China would also probably be significantly less impactful without the serendipity of National Public Radio's Robert Siegal and Melissa Block already being in China for a planned series of stories on the country next week. They have filed harrowing reports of the destruction and provided perspective for many other news agencies. Tuesday afternoon's All Things Considered included far and away the most comprehensive coverage of the story.

One thing I have been wondering about is how serious China has been about building codes. This article from NPR claims that China has building codes in place to protect against such a disaster. A structural engineer anticipates that most of the buildings that suffered catastrophic damage were older buildings. More coverage on NPR's Chengdu Diary.

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