The top stories in my google news queue — the Canada English edition — this afternoon are about high winds in Newfoundland (No. 1), an Alberta mother sentenced to life for killing her daughter (No. 2), PM Trudeau on energy regulations (No. 3), the stupidity of daylight savings time (No. 4), South Koreans rallying in the streets (No. 5), and advocates doubting the Trump administration will act to stem the flow of refugees from the U.S. to Canada (No. 6).
Missing is the biggest news story of the day: More than 23 million people in African nations are on the verge of starving to death. That is more than half the population of Canada (35 million), but it is not newsworthy enough to make the google Top Stories queue, apparently.
In fact, it is nowhere to be found on my google news page, i.e. not in any of the other categories. I would not have been aware of this story today had it not been for CBC TV’s 24-hour news channel, Newsworld, which is reporting on it as a major news story.
A quick check of google’s U.S. news edition also failed to turn up a report on the dire situation in Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen and Sudan.
So, this tells me two things: google’s news queue is not an efficient news source — nor does it claim to be one. Anybody who relies on it to keep informed about the day’s news is not getting a complete picture. They’re not even getting the top stories.
It also tells me that — if google’s new queue lists stories that are getting the most views — much of the world either doesn’t care if 23 million people starve to death in Africa, or they feel so helpless they look away if they see headlines on media sites and click on other stories, like the one about the stupidity of daylight savings time.
Of course, there are plenty of news reports about the famine in Africa, and why it is occurring. It is being called the largest humanitarian crisis in the history of the UN.
UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told the UN Security Council that “without collective and co-ordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death” and “many more will suffer and die from disease.” He urged an immediate injection of funds for Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and northeast Nigeria plus safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid “to avert a catastrophe.” “To be precise,” O’Brien said, “we need $4.4 billion by July.”
That might sound like a lot of money, but it isn’t, really. I think there are some billionaires in the United States who could write cheques to cover that figure — that is, if people in high places don’t step up and offer aid. In fact, Canada has already indicated it will be increasing its aid, and I think many other countries will do the same.
Sadly, this famine is being caused by man-made conflict, reports say, brought about by civil wars and, sigh, you guessed it, Islamic extremists like Boko Harem driving people from their homes. As a result, getting aid to those who need it may not be as simple as it should be.
Still, O’Brien believes famine can be averted . . .
You can read more about the situation by simply typing “African famine” into your google news query box. And if you want, you can do a google search on how to help, too.
Photo: Woman and her children in a refugee camp in East Africa in 2011. Today, in 2017, scenes like these and much worse are common in parts of Africa, with more than 20 million facing starvation. Photo credit: Oxfam East Africa/Wikimedia Commons.