The media fiddle while people burn
There was a big brouhaha in England and Europe. In England, ten people under 40 died unexpectedly of Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease, which resembles bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). BSE is a disease which afflicts the brains of cows. It's colloquially known as "mad cow disease".
Once the news hit, panic erupted. British beef deadly? Quick - shoot any cow that could possibly be affected! Other countries stopped importing British beef immediately, and that's led to threats of economic warfare. [The U.S. had banned British beef products since BSE was first detected, back in 1989.]
Might I suggest that our reaction to BSE was exaggerated?
No one is happy that people died from something they might have contracted from eating the flesh of infected cows, but the entire business has been rather blown out of proportion. There are still only a handful of cases of BSE-like deaths. The incubation period is thought to be years. I've heard no predictions of any more cases. No direct link has been established between BSE and Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Let's contrast this to a real threat: HIV.
HIV has killed over two hundred thousand people in the United States. The current estimate of worldwide HIV infection is 21.8 million people, with projections as high as 70 million within five years. More people become infected every day. There are simple ways to prevent its spread, the easiest being teaching. People need to know what HIV is, how it is transmitted, and how to prevent its transmission. Yet for all the hysteria and media time about BSE, networks still won't show ads for condoms, there are no mandated guidelines for teaching about HIV in every school, the subject is taboo in our media, and lobbyists and researchers have to fight for research funding. It's even hard to find good safe sex information on the Web.
Maybe we should focus our attention on threats that, even though they are not "news", have never gone away. HIV doesn't care if it gets media coverage. It will kill you just as dead.