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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 30, 2005 / 26 Elul, 5765

All the rumors fit to print

By Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Hurricanes Katrina and Rita packed a wallop — not just with weather that ravaged a region, but also in lessons of hysteria and the power of fear.

Now that winds have calmed and the hot air of punditry has found new objects of bloviation, we learn that much of what we thought we knew was wrong. That sentence has a familiar, and unwelcome, ring to it. We know what comes next:

Who knew what and when? Whom to blame for what went wrong? From Baghdad to New Orleans, we seem to be plagued with flawed information. Bad intelligence.

The latest news out of New Orleans and other areas hit by the hurricanes is of the non-news variety: Many of the horror stories that whipped Americans into a frenzy were exaggerated or bogus.

Tens of thousands of dead did not turn up. Gangs were not murdering and raping babies in the Superdome and the New Orleans Convention Center. Homeless and hungry people were not noshing on the dead bodies floating through New Orleans' flooded streets.

As we return slowly to relative calm, it's stunning to imagine how anyone believed such tales in the first place. If you got an e-mail today saying that people without food for four days had begun eating their dead, you'd go immediately to Snopes.com — the Web site that tracks urban legends — read the word "False," and nod appreciatively that you were smart enough to spot an apocryphal tale.

Yet, in the midst of witnessing truly horrifying scenes of devastation and television reporters breaking down on camera, some people were oddly credulous. Is it human nature to believe the worst in times of extreme stress? Are some rumors so delicious — or so disgusting — that we can't let them simmer a day or two?

Bodies were stacked in a freezer, we heard. One of them was a 7-year-old girl with her throat slashed. When the world seems to be splitting apart — or is being covered in a deluge that can only be described as biblical — it's easy to go to our darkest places.

But of course they're eating the dead!

I suspect we'll be having this conversation for a long time. As nearly everyone has noted, there's plenty of blame to go around. But the biggest lesson of all is one we can't seem to learn — that the television media by its presence changes the nature and substance of events.

Yes, I'm part of the media, but the impact of a twice-weekly opinion column can't be compared to real-time film coverage involving camera crews, producers, 24/7 celebrity journalists and a soundtrack. The difference is about a million degrees of drama.

In defense of reporters working live on the scene, their work is extraordinarily difficult. The scope of damage caused by these hurricanes is beyond comprehension. The up-close sight and smell of death is unfamiliar to most of us, and reporters are human, too. When you're the only bridge between suffering and relief — and you're exhausted besides — emotional weather joins the landscape.

Moreover, reporters depend on officials for information. It was New Orleans' own Mayor Ray Nagin who told Americans via the cameras that tens of thousands might be dead. It was New Orleans' police chief, Eddie Compass, recently resigned, who told Oprah Winfrey about "little babies getting raped" at the Superdome. With so much information and disinformation circulating, and so little organization at the top, how does one confirm or negate such statements?

But of course they're raping babies! This always happens when angry, destitute people finally are released from the shackles of oppression, right? Well, maybe not, but I saw a movie once

Compounding the stress of disaster and chaos is the pressure on reporters to produce "news." In the absence of verifiable facts, rumors fill the void.

Excuses and encomiums aside, there's no question that media presence alters reality. Even abnormal circumstances ratchet up a notch when someone of, say, Geraldo Rivera's celebrity materializes. Whatever the news was, it immediately becomes something else that is, at least in part, about Geraldo.

This is not a new insight, of course. Social scientists long ago hijacked Heisenberg's Principle of Uncertainty to explain the effect observers have on the thing or person observed. Even so, it's useful to keep in mind, as hysteria seizes the land and fear absconds with reason, that what we're "seeing" on TV is not always to be believed.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.

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© 2005, Tribune Media Services

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