News Hour 

News Hour

One of the things Iím most aware of from spending time in the US is how little world news I really follow when Iím at home. I read the world headlines on line occasionally, and maybe catch a bit of BBC World Service or Radio Netherlands news on the short wave radio. But mostly I keep up with local and national news, and thatís about it.

So itís been a hard, sobering, eye opening time to listen to the BBC World Service News Hour each morning for the past several weeks. And, in my own cynical way, I end up not surprised that I ignore so much world news so much of the time. Who can keep up? This morning in particular it all felt like too much. Between Lebanon and Israel and Iraq, I was just left wondering, whatís the point in any of this. Where does one even start to understand or make sense of things. And, of course, what news does one trust and how do you sift through the biases.

And so, as I tend to do when my brain canít cope up with the politics of something, I tend towards the personal. Like the story of the university student in Baghdad, whose family insists she travel with a mobile phone so they can tell her at the end of each day whether their house is still standing, their street is clear, and if itís safe for her to come home then. The taxi drivers in Beirut who preface all new fares with the disclaimer that they may or may not be able to take you to your destinationóthe destination may not exist, and they may run out of fuel along the way. Residents in Beirut who say that Israel is now re-bombing targets that it has already destroyed. Families who sit outside in the evenings playing cards and enjoying the cooler night air, and look up not with fear but with fatigue and irritation when they hear the drone of the bomber planes overhead. The story of the 15 year old Lebanese boy now planning to join Hezbollah to defend Islamówith his 9 and 12 year old brothers, their mother standing proudly by to see them off.

I look for the interviews, the sound clips, the every day peopleís take on things, like these featured on the BBC:

After Qana: Lebanese and Israeli views
Israeli army relatives speak
Israelis on the Lebanon offensive

And I look for the blogs, the stories of people living through the assaults on either side, like Siege of Lebanon.

One small glimmer out of the whole thing is [link=http://itf.typepad.com/lebanon/ ]Lebanon-Israel conflict via cellphone[/link], a blog established by Erik Sundelof to enable people in Israel and Lebanon both to submit blog posts of their experiences via SMS, MMS or email.

It does not seem to have been terribly well subscribed as of yet, and of course questions like how does an American blogger inform people in a war zone that they could be sharing their experiences with the world via text message. But as an indy-media type approach to reporting and information sharing, I think its admirable. And, seeing as how even when the Lebanon-Israel conflict ends there will still be plenty of other wars (and hopefully non violent people power resistance movements!) elsewhere, its an idea well worth all of us exploring more in our own contexts.

Iraq, Israel, Lebanon

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