March 15th, 2011
09:54 AM ET

From Fareed: Media mass hysteria on nuclear meltdown and Saudis in Bahrain

Here's what caught my eye in this morning's news:

Japan

Japan's nuclear accidents should be watched carefully, but so far the media has been in mass-hysteria mode. The fact is, despite the worst earthquake in decades, the fifth-worst in history, not one person has died from the "meltdown."

By contrast, oil rig explosions usually kill several people instantly. Will Saletan has the smartest piece on this in Slate. William Tucker of The Wall Street Journal explains the difference between Chernobyl and all other nuclear accidents.

Middle East

The next move in the Middle East crisis – Saudi troops entering Bahrain. Excellent reporting from The New York Times on this (and a related piece on strained Saudi-U.S. ties). The Saudis are acting as the principal backers of the old order, using money and now arms. But this has the potential to backfire. I'm watching this very carefully.

The Euro

I've always felt that the Euro will muddle through, and it appears that it will. Check out the Financial Times’ article on Germany’s actions. It's not sexy, but the Europeans will manage to come together and – with Scotch tape and strings – patch things up and move on.

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Topics: Economy • From Fareed • Japan • Middle East • Nuclear

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. unclesam13713

    Wa on Islam

    March 15, 2011 at 10:13 am | Reply
  2. Richard

    Although no one died during or immediately after from the Three Mile Island situation, the cancer rates of individuals exposed to its material were/have been much higher. And so have the genetic 'defects' in those who lived through it and in those born afterwards. How many thousands of lives have been affected by this? How about those in Russia and Eastern Europe? This is not hysteria...it is fear based on reality!

    March 15, 2011 at 10:15 am | Reply
    • Evan

      The potentially far reaching and lasting effects of a nuclear power plant disaster and the fact that nothing can guaranty the safety of such plants is what is so different about nukes. Other energy related disasters can also have far reaching effects (the BP debacle in the Gulf comes to mind, along with some of the more spectacular oil spills such as the Exxon Valdez and the spill in France decades ago), but nuke problems present can present a unique and far reaching set of problems.

      That said, the true costs associated with this form of power, including the clean ups, loss of life, contaimination, and the significantly more deadly potential for a disaster of epic proportions needs to be factored into the nuclear energy equation. Sure its a "green" fuel, but even the cost of a kwh from nuclear power is far more than the cost from natural gas or coal, and the negatives of nuclear power are huge. I wonder how far along the world would have progressed with sustainable energy if even half of the money being poured into nuclear power were to be directed towards solar, wind, and other renewable resources? Maybe this time around, aided by the Gulf disaster, there will be a serious rethinking and recommitment to changing our ways before that one disaster that forever changes the world befalls us.

      March 15, 2011 at 11:13 am | Reply
      • R

        I agree with you that it should, but nah, it won't happen.

        March 21, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • Bill

      Richard, before you make assertions about the damage done during and after the Three Mile Island accident, perhaps you should display some actual facts and figures. I'm not making light of the danger of nuclear radiation, but the American Nuclear Society estimated that "The average radiation dose to people living within ten miles of the plant was eight millirem, and no more than 100 millirem to any single individual. Eight millirem is about equal to a chest X-ray, and 100 millirem is about a third of the average background level of radiation received by US residents in a year." In the meantime, coal fired power plants around the world continue to invisibly contaminate the atmosphere of the entire earth and are a much bigger threat to human life than nuclear. It's time we got some perspective here and realize that if we want to continue with our modern lifestyles we are going to have to embrace nuclear power and learn the lessons necessary to build safer plants. We will most likely never eliminate danger entirely, but that's no reason not to continue with research and development of clean energy solutions.

      March 15, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Reply
    • Craig

      @ Richard, who wrote: "Although no one died during or immediately after from the Three Mile Island situation, the cancer rates of individuals exposed to its material were/have been much higher" That simply isn't true. It is quite possible that there were zero excess deaths due to the radiation released from the TMI accident, with the most probable number being one or two. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mile_Island_accident That assumes a linear model. The average dose was something like 8 millirem for people near the plant, or about five days worth of exposure to natural background radiation.

      March 15, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Reply
  3. unclesam13713

    forecasting : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95zMdTvoqcQ

    March 15, 2011 at 10:17 am | Reply
  4. Evan

    I agree that the media (at least stuff like CNN and mainstream American media) has once again gone stupid and is hyping the story – actually "inventing" the story if you happened to catch Wolf Blitzer and his silliness on CNN's "Situation Room".
    It gives journalism a bad name and in no time it becomes really poor entertainment ala Access Hollywood style, but it is not going to stop so long as the "disaster" new reporting formats are set up to provide on the spot coverage moment by moment when there is really nothing new to report. And that format is not going away because the news outlets are worried that they will be scooped should there really be something new worth reporting. The end result is the ridiculously mediocre reporting we do get, complete with cuts in and out from one "expert" to another, or from one reporter on the ground to another with no one having anything worth saying to tell us. You work for CNN. Perhaps you can pass this along should there be anyone at CNN that cares to begin with.

    March 15, 2011 at 10:58 am | Reply
    • northdakotax

      Well said, Evan. I could NOT agree with you more. I wish these "reporters" would get a grip!

      March 15, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Reply
    • Bayano

      Yeah, right now it seems like there is nothing going on in this World apart from Japan, am tired already.

      March 16, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Reply
  5. Rich Zubaty

    An oil rig explosion is not going to cause an aircraft carrier 100 miles away to move out of the path of radiation. An oil rig explosion won’t disperse toxic debris to California and Hawaii. I can’t believe what a knee-jerk globalist waterboy Fareed is. There is no way in creation we should pony up $36 billion building more nuclear plants. Build a national grid and windmills on western farm and ranch lands with the money. Fareed’s comment is not about science. It’s about spreading the propaganda of the big money guys.

    March 15, 2011 at 11:28 am | Reply
  6. Mei-Ling

    I can't believe I just read this utterly pathetic excuse of a blog piece. Are you for real? Radiation poisoning does not necessarily kill instantaneously but exposure can render hideous short to long term side-effects which are well documented. Do your research before coming up with nonsense. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    March 15, 2011 at 11:41 am | Reply
  7. Nasser

    This is an opinion I wrote and sent to the NY Times as a result of a debate about Saudi Arabia in today’s NY Times.

    I am not someone who is working for or even likes the Royal family of Saudi Arabia. In fact, I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia; however, I lived most of my life outside Saudi Arabia.

    However, for those of you who want or like to see unrest in Saudi Arabia, or want to change the political system in Saudi Arabia, let me remind you that the Royal family of Al Saud were not installed by a colonial power like the rest of the Arab countries’ ruling families or the Arab dictators across the Arab world.

    The Al Saud dynasty has been rulers of a large part of the Arabian Peninsula since the 16 century.

    110 years ago it was King Abdul Aziz Al Saud, the founder of the current day Saudi Arabia, who cleaned up and united what was nothing but loose, ignorant, thuggish and continuously fighting tribes in Najd, the Central Province of Saudi Arabia.

    Hejaz, the Western Province of Saudi Arabia was fragmented and ruled by corrupt Ottoman Empire agents. If King Abdul Aziz did not invade and conquered Hejaz, Hejaz would have been in worse shape economically and poorer than Jordan today, and would still be ruled by Turkey today.

    Asir, the Southern Province of Saudi Arabia was ruled by the Idrissy, a backward thinking corrupt dynasty who were agents of Yemen kings and the Ottoman Empire. If King Abdul Aziz did not conquered Asir, it would have been part of Yemen today, the poorest Arab country. Instead, today Asir is a very thriving rich part of Saudi Arabia.

    The Eastern Province where the oil fields are today did not have oil fields when King Abdul Aziz conquered it, because oil was not discovered then. It was ruled by loose ignorant feuding tribes. Because the Al Saud dynasty came originally from Qatif a major city in the Eastern Province it was easy for King Abdul Aziz to take over the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia where the oil fields are today.

    As you can see, the Al Saud Royal family is the glue that is holding the country of four different provinces together; Najd, Hejaz, Asir and the Eastern Province.

    Without the Al Saud Royal family, Saudi Arabia will be worse than what Yugoslavia became. If Saudi Arabia’s so called reformers succeed Saudi Arabia will enter into a tailspin of chaos and tribal wars worse than anything the world has ever seen so far.

    With 28% of the world oil reserves and the ability to produce up to 12.5 million barrel a day, if Saudi Arabia coughs the entire world gets pneumonia.

    YES, I want limited reforms, freedom of the press, freedom of the individual, freedom of speech, rights for women. However, I want the Al Saud Royal family to continue to rule Saudi Arabia.

    No one benefits from the breakup of Saudi Arabia. I say to those advocating to change the political system in Saudi Arabia to shut-up

    March 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Reply
  8. Ida

    Unbelievable. The sad thing is that Fareed actually gets paid, and probably handsomely, to write such utter nonsense!!!

    March 15, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Reply
    • kalmeida317

      Which part? eveything he is saying here seems pretty factual!

      March 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Reply
      • Seer

        Facts can be spun to mean just about anything these days. Fareed's assertion that nobody has died from the Fukushima meltdowns is like saying that nobody dies from eating a hamburger just because the heart attacks occurs years later: the radiation takes time to kill, and we should see the first deaths among the plant workers shortly. Since the plants aren't being cooled, we'll see meltdown after meltdown with increasing radiation levels in the surrounding areas, and if no civilians die, it will be because they evacuated to 100 miles or more away... in which case you can hardly say that a 200-mile-radius dead zone is insignificant. This accident has gone far beyond Three Mile Island and is already in the scale of Chernobyl, but be aware that the amount of radiation pollution potential from this plant is at least 6 times beyond Chernobyl (depending on how much spent fuel there is.) The worst case is that the main island of Japan becomes uninhabitable, and we are relying on plant workers sacrificing their lives for months or years of emergency cooling before the danger of that goes away.

        March 16, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Dr Perry Fisher

      Thats called affirmative action,Fareed has no audience and his ratings are near zero,his future at CNN is rather dark.Check all his posts the maximum people responding is less than 20 per article

      March 16, 2011 at 3:31 am | Reply
  9. HMMMF

    I am very concerned about an issue which Fareed might find interesting. Over the past few weeks there has been a great deal of harassment of the South Asians living here in Bahrain by groups of peaceful protesters. You may not know this, but one of the demands of the protesters is for the release of the killers of a Pakistani van driver who was lynched and set alight by a Shiite group in 2009.Two weeks ago an Indian client of mine reported that she had been very upset the previous night as a group of peaceful protesters walked around her mainly South Asian neighbourhood, shouting and threatening them and demanding that they leave.
    Three days ago the situation became much worse and the peaceful protesters went around other neighbourhoods looking for South Asians and entering their homes, stealing their possessions, physically attacking them and telling them to leave. A Pakistani workman was killed by one of these groups of peaceful protesters. Today there was a desperate advert form a group of South Asians in the Gulf Daily news asking for help. The South Asian embassies are also aware of this problem. i am amazed that the international media has no interest in this story. Listening to my South Asian friends is like hearing a re-run of the situation in Bosnia. I have posted about this on a few other websites and am immediately accused of believing government propaganda! This is very strange as I base my comments on the stories that I hear from the many distressed clients that I meet each day. The international media need to be aware that some of the protesters are driven by an ideology that is very violent, racist and profoundly undemocratic. Does anyone care about the South Asian victims in this dreadful situation? I hope that Fareed at least starts to take this seriously and investigates what is actually happening here rather than taking dictation from the peaceful protesters as all the other Western journalists seem to do.

    March 15, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Reply
    • Concerned4Fla

      See there? THIS would be a worthy news story–far more informative than CNN's latest hissy fit.

      March 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  10. Kristin

    Fareed. I recently read "The Post-American World" and attended a talk of yours in Norman. This article entirely negates the positive impression I had of your work. As I conduct content analysis on how the media is treating this issue, I must code this as an example of factually untrue reporting on nuclear energy by corporate U.S. media.

    March 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Reply
    • Klaark

      More like, he didn't reaffirm what you already concluded and therefore he's a bad journalist. It must be hard when they stop telling you what you want to hear.

      March 16, 2011 at 2:32 am | Reply
  11. ThenNow

    Surprising that in all of the world coverage on Industrial disasters folks are talking about Chernobyle, 3 Mile island, Japan, BP oil spill etc.

    No one seem to take cognizance of the fact the one of the largest Industrial disaster was the BHOPAL GAS tragedy in India.

    It is not only Oil spill, Nuclear disasters but Chemical gas leaks like in Bhopal is important to be highlighted and public made aware of for a holistic view of what modern day industrial hazards we all are surrounded by.

    Some figures of deaths and injuries of BHOPAL GAS tragedy, from Wikipedia for a perspective:

    The Bhopal disaster was the world's worst industrial catastrophe. It occurred on the night of December 2–3, 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. A leak of methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals from the plant resulted in the exposure of hundreds of thousands of people. Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259 and the government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Other government agencies estimate 15,000 deaths. Others estimate that 3,000 died within weeks and that another 8,000 have since died from gas-related diseases. A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.

    March 15, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Reply
  12. ThenNow

    Very very sad. May God be with the people of Japan and help them through this grave tragedy.

    Surprising that in all of the world coverage on Industrial disasters folks are talking about Chernobyle, 3 Mile island, Japan, BP oil spill etc.

    No one seem to take cognizance of the fact that one of the largest Industrial disaster was "BHOPAL GAS" tragedy in India.

    It is not only Oil spill, Nuclear disasters but also Chemical gas leaks like in Bhopal are important to be highlighted and world public made aware of to get a holistic view of what modern day industrial hazards we all are surrounded by.

    Here are some figures of deaths and injuries of BHOPAL GAS tragedy, from Wikipedia for a perspective:

    The Bhopal disaster was the world's worst industrial catastrophe. It occurred on the night of December 2–3, 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. A leak of methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals from the plant resulted in the exposure of hundreds of thousands of people. Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259 and the government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Other government agencies estimate 15,000 deaths. Others estimate that 3,000 died within weeks and that another 8,000 have since died from gas-related diseases. A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries.

    March 15, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  13. Klaark

    Fareed, the sole voice of reason in a sea of stupidity.

    March 16, 2011 at 2:30 am | Reply
    • Dr Perry Fisher

      Fareed is the stupidity

      March 16, 2011 at 3:27 am | Reply
  14. Dr Perry Fisher

    Zakaria,I think that CNN is going to sack you....you have no audience and your ratings are just about zero.Zakaria,try Fox News they may need a janitor

    March 16, 2011 at 3:26 am | Reply
  15. larry

    Farid is full of shinola. I know this guy's Bombay "buddies". he was an average student and now trying to act genius. his basic agenda is to promote Muslim Cause. Readers be careful of this man.

    March 17, 2011 at 9:41 am | Reply

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