Thursday, March 29, 2007

Blizzard, part two

By the morning the snow had started to melt and I was able to find my car, although the night before it resembled a snow statue. After brushing it clean I drove to the Conservatory and continued from there to Naantali, a town known for its beauty in the summer time. The Finnish President has an official summer home there, and there is also the Moomin World, named after the troll-like characters of the favorite author of Finnish children (and grown-ups as well), Tove Jansson. The town also features a big international music festival during the summer. Last summer I was invited to play the Schnittke concerto for two violins and piano with my wife Marjorie and Ralf Gothóni as part of the Northwest Chamber Orchestra’s planned tour. It obviously irked some influential people in our town, to the point that they made sure the orchestra folded right before the two scheduled tours.

Naantali in the winter time is a quiet place, although it has a famous spa which was featured in the New York Times not long ago. The reason for my visit was to see my uncle, my late mother’s younger brother, and his wife of 60 years. Uncle Jaakko had been a very successful businessman, with factories all over the globe, including China. He had patented a self-closing fire-proof door for ships and his company was busy filling orders. In time he retired and left the firm to his son, my cousin. I don’t know if the illness runs in that side of the family, but my uncle suffers from early Alzheimer’s, the same dreadful disease that finally killed my mother. At this point he is still doing well and is a pleasure to talk to, but my aunt told me about his visual hallucinations which had really scared her. He was seeing people in the house and asking his wife who they were. Such hallucinations are not that rare, although more often people hear things rather than see them. Thankfully my uncle’s neurologist was able to prescribe a brand new drug, something we don’t yet have access to, which took care of the problem instantly. I spent a lovely afternoon with my family and was sad to leave, knowing that the next time we’d meet, life for them wouldn’t be the same.

Off to the freeway towards Helsinki and some enjoyable driving at 140 km/h (87 mph). That was slightly above the speed limit, but I figured I was safe as there were others driving as fast. The radio was on again and in addition to political discussion about the election where the Conservatives (National Coalition Party) unexpectedly won 10 seats, there was a lengthy program about the situation with media control in today’s Russia. It seems that under Vladimir Putin, Russia resembles the old Soviet Union more and more in the way the government limits freedom of speech. It also silences, with the help of thugs, those who want to speak their mind and write about it, often resorting to murder. It is said that Russia is even more dangerous a country for journalists than Iraq. What Putin and the Kremlin wants is a Russian version of our Fox News as the only source of information available. Of course it would be more difficult to control the internet, although some experts predict Russia might follow in China’s footsteps. Quite a few correspondents stationed in Moscow were interviewed, but every one of them was extremely careful with what they said, probably as a result of fear. The most meaningful information came from outside Russia, from experts in that country’s affairs.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union some shrewd people became incredibly rich almost overnight. None of the wealth was created by honest means and thus it is understandable that the wealthy class continues to use the services of bodyguards. Honesty has never been highly valued in the Russian society. It is often considered a sign of weakness, and people have had to accept a dishonest lifestyle simply to survive. Western-style democracy is as foreign to the people as it is to the Iraqis, and perhaps deep down, people welcome another strongman to lead the country.

After the fall of communism next door, Finland wanted to ‘rescue’ the remaining native population from Ingria, who are closely related to Karelian and Finnish people. Any person who could prove to be at least one quarter of that ethnicity was allowed to come ‘home’, to the land of their people. My countrymen had expected perhaps a few thousand immigrants but the number swelled many times higher. Finally the offer needed to be withdrawn. Documents were easy to forge or to buy in the black market. Now Finland is filled with Russian-speaking people, many of whom have as much Finnish blood in them as I have African. Traditionally we Finns don’t actively take part in religious life; only 2% attend services regularly. This is also more or less the case with other religions. Some 90% of the Finnish Jews have intermarried and don’t see anything wrong with it, as religion is not an important issue. Interestingly, the recent Russian arrivals have greatly increased the number of practicing Jews in Finland and the Chabad movement is having a jolly good time with these newcomers. Clearly, true Ingrian people would have been Christians, so something doesn’t add up. Of course some other Russians have been allowed to immigrate, so perhaps some of them have Jewish roots.

Darkness finally fell and the sleet and rain slowly ended. After driving over 500 miles in rather challenging weather I was soon safely back at my brother’s house, ready for a long return flight via Copenhagen the next morning.

As a footnote, the victorious Finnish ‘Conservatives’ are so far to the left that they make Ted Kennedy seem like Pat Buchanan. And I love the fact that a candidate for the Green Party, Jyrki Kasvi (“George Plant”), had written a web page, part of his re-election campaign, in Klingon for us Star Trek fans.

Moomintroll and Snufkin fishing

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Blizzard, part one

My secret wish of having to drive in a winter storm soon become a reality. On Sunday morning March 18th I said good-bye to my father, who was in great spirits and had no trouble recognizing me. We talked a couple of hours and then it was time for him to use his wheelchair to go to eat lunch. Naturally it was a somewhat sad moment for me, but seeing how well he was taken care of made me feel good and at ease.

So, I checked out of my hotel, had a bite to eat there and won a freshly baked loaf of bread in a scratch-it lottery ticket I got with my bill. At first the weather was ideal for driving, with lots of sunshine, brightness of which was amplified by a fresh coat of snow everywhere. Soon the skies turned dark, however, and I was in a hurry to find a gas station to fill the tank of the Renault. This is when I discovered as an unpleasant surprise that most pumps were automatic, working either with a credit card or €10 and €20 bills. They wouldn’t accept any of the numerous credit cards I tried and then it became clear to me that most European cards come with an ‘intelligent’ microchip and require a PIN number stored in it. Luckily I had taken out enough euros from my Bank of America checking account using an ATM in Kouvola, and was able to fill the car with €40 ($53) worth of 95-octane gasoline. Fuel is expensive in Europe, as that paid for only a little more than a half of the tank. It is a bit strange that we Americans haven’t added that extra safety feature into our plastic money. New European passports also come with an embedded microchip which makes them far harder to forge.

Soon a powerful snow storm started and the next few hours I was driving on a two-lane highway under complete white-out conditions. I could only see the tire marks of one car that was a few hundred feet ahead of me and even they sometimes disappeared as a result of a gale-force wind and blowing snow. My brother’s car radio is always on and I was listening to many interesting programs. This was Election Day in the country and politics were talked about, but my attention was grabbed by a couple of other programs, first of which I’ll tell about here.

The Sibelius Academy in Helsinki is celebrating its 125th year. For an hour I listened to a program about its history, which of course parallels the history of Finnish music. The institution is the largest one of its kind in Scandinavia, with about 1,700 students. Universities in the European system don’t offer instrumental or vocal instruction and only produce musicologists; the rest is left for conservatories. What really interested me (some of which I had forgotten) was how even in the early years, when Helsinki hardly counted as an international metropolis, there were bitter musical ‘wars’ taking place. Unlike in many American cities, there has always been room for more than one strong personality, not just one individual trying to be ‘Mr. Music’, a dictator in this field. For a long time there were two competing music schools in Helsinki, one of which concentrated on the ‘important’ instruments (piano, violin, cello) and voice, and the other, run by a well-known conductor, offered an ‘orchestra school’ where all orchestral instruments were taught. Also, the orchestra scene was never a monopoly: even today Helsinki has three full-time professional orchestras and there is a chamber orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta, just a few miles to the west of Helsinki’s borders.

Just about every musical figure in Finland has gone through the conservatory in Helsinki, which changed names a couple times after the fusion of the before mentioned two schools, ending up honoring Finland’s most famous composer Jean Sibelius, himself a former student in the early days. Based on the many interviews in the program, the most beloved director of the Sibelius Academy was Taneli Kuusisto, a composer, organist, but above all, a wonderful human being. His son, Ilkka Kuusisto, is a well-known musical figure for his own accomplishments and the two grandsons, Jaakko and Pekka Kuusisto, are excellent concert violinists who finished their training in Bloomington, Indiana. Taneli Kuusisto was always a great supporter of mine and in many ways responsible for my choosing music as my profession. I don’t know whether I should be thankful to him or blame him: perhaps my contributions to the society would have been greater as a scientist or a doctor. Later, he didn’t hesitate to offer me a position as a teacher in the same institution when I was just 20; many of my students were older than I was. I taught there for seven years, during many of which I flew in from another city every week to teach a couple full days.

That other city, Pori, was my destination that day. I wanted to visit old students there and see how the city had grown. The music school there is now known as the Palmgren Conservatory, named after a composer from than area. They have a fabulous location which I toured the next day with a former student who is now in charge of the conservatory, at least for the time being. Decades ago when I was teaching violin, viola and chamber music there, and also conducting their small but rather good chamber orchestra, the school occupied a humble old building and there was always a shortage of space. Now they have three floors with seemingly endless number of large rooms for teaching, a lecture hall, recording studios and a nice auditorium. Any school in our country would be envious of such a facility. They have about 870 students, most of who are pre-college but about 10% are enrolled in a department for a professional degree. I asked about the cost of the tuition and my guide looked at me puzzled. “Studying is free, of course, as the law mandates.” Not only that, but in higher education students get a monthly stipend from the government for living expenses. No wonder the country is able to produce great instrumentalists, singers, conductors and composers; the same is true in academic fields where Finland truly excels.

Another former student has been the concertmaster for the city’s professional Pori Sinfonietta for two decades. For a time I was involved with the orchestra, well over 30 years ago, but at that time they didn’t have a hall of their own. I was taken late at night to marvel at their new home. Not only is the hall impressive and probably sounds good as it has only 688 seats (the city has a population of 80,000) and this brings the kind of intimacy to music which is often totally absent in American gigantic concert barns. But the most amazing thing to see was the all the space musicians had for themselves backstage on two levels: dressing rooms, practice rooms and other spaces big enough for even the largest sectionals. They also have a large pit and produce a few operas every season.

Even in this paradise of a workplace there is trouble brewing. Musicians, no matter where they are, seem never to be satisfied, and the group has had some rough times with personality clashes. Behind it all is a familiar story: the person on the podium who has put his own interests ahead of the orchestra, almost destroying the latter in the process. My student and colleague there told me she is tired of being the lightning rod which a concertmaster so often is, and she wants to step aside. The city has agreed to that, but will not lower her pay. Finnish people may have their faults but they respect one’s rights and dignity. Our society here should learn from such honorable principles, although I have my doubts it ever will.

And yes, driving fast in a blizzard is exciting.
Veikko Talvi 3/18/07

Jean Sibelius

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Finnish Line

Although I rarely eat red meat, every time I visit my home country, Finland, I temporarily turn into a carnivore. Perhaps it is the way they raise their livestock (they roam free and are certainly not corn-fed), but whatever the reason the meat is superior to what even the fanciest restaurant in the States serve. Finland was never thought to be a country of culinary delights, but the meals I've had in the past few days have been immaculately tasty and beautifully presented. Who would expect to find a first-rate Spanish restaurant in this small city? 'Olé' has been in business for 25 years and makes the tastiest French fries I've eaten anywhere. Back at home I don't usually look forward to eating out. Part of it has to do with the phony 'Is everything all right?' questions in hopes of larger tips. This culture doesn't believe in them: whatever the bill is what you pay. The same is true with other things as well. Like in Japan, a taxi driver here would probably be insulted if you tried to tip him. That profession is highly regarded in this society and the drivers are proud owners of their usually diesel powered luxury cars, made by Mercedes and Volvo.

It is also refreshing to be able to read totally neutral news and intelligent analysis of world affairs. The story of our government's desire to place missiles in former Iron Curtain countries, now NATO members, is followed by reactions from other NATO countries and of course Russia. It is easy to understand the latter's concerns. After all, we almost started WW III because of the missiles going to Cuba, a similar distance to mainland USA as these would be to mother Russia. If Iran is the threat, why not place such weapons in Greece and Turkey, both NATO countries and far closer to Tehran?

My brother has kindly given me one of his cars to use. I had forgotten how comfortable French cars can be, although I have owned several when they were still available in the States. The Renault's radio has been set to automatically lock into the strongest signal of the Finnish Broadcasting Company's channel 1 which sends only serious programmes of music, other culture and information, with no commercials. Today they've had a lot of music by Aulis Sallinen, plus a lengthy and well done interview of him. Last night there was a live broadcast of a concert of Finnish contemporary music, with the composers interviewed before and during intermission. And much of the country listens to it, not just a few as would be the case across the ocean.

It is sad to see an aging parent lose his short term memory. Two days ago my almost 96-year-old father was very much aware of my presence but tonight he was in his own world, probably some seven decades in the past, and seemed very tired. I will try to go there early in the morning tomorrow, as that is the best time for him. But I'm grateful for the system that takes such good care of him, only charging a set percentage of his pension, as is the case with everyone in a similar situation. Of course the largest cities may have a shortage of available space for the aging population and at times are forced to place them in surrounding communities, but all in all the system is something Americans can only dream of.

Al Gore would agree with the opinion poll here (parlamentary elections are taking place tomorrow) according to which majority of people, by a very large margin, think that global warming is a much greater global threat than terrorism. The proof is in the numbers: statistically winter in Helsinki lasts an average of 120 days but this year it was only 40, one third of normal. Sure enough it was snowing all of today but it wasn't cold enough for the white stuff to stick. I'm hoping for a cold night so that I can enjoy driving in slippery conditions across the country, fun for a Finn, to visit my one remaining uncle plus former students from three decades ago, most of whom have done well indeed in this difficult field.

I shall report back once I return. This wonderful Finnish Nokia N800 internet tablet was not designed for writing lengthy novels, so I'm stuck tapping with a pointer or a finger which it automatically recognises and provides a larger on-screen keyboard. Those Finns are smart; I'm proud to be one of them.

photo: view from hotel window in Kouvola 6:30 AM

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


A special contribution to the blog:

I’m searching through last year’s calendar as I receive news of Mark Paben’s death. Mark Paben, the indomitable spirit behind Northwest Chamber Orchestra, former Board President, is dead at age fifty-one. The coincidence of Mark’s death and the anniversary of Northwest Chamber Orchestra’s final concert, March 5, 2006 gives me chills. As my friend Yuriy says quoting a Russian proverb, “Man plans but God decides.”

Who was Mark Paben to me? For a brief period I believed him to be one of my closest and dearest friends. I turned to him whenever I sought advice. After all, Mark was an accomplished bankruptcy attorney from a high profile law firm, pianist, and patron of the arts. He seemed to know anyone who was anybody in the field of music, locally and abroad. Tall, with boyish good looks and enough charm to go around, he towered over everyone in a crowd. My mother adored him. “So you’re the one,” she’d say looking up at him. “You’re the Mark my Margie raves about.” Mark and I would sign our emails M&M.

Under Mark’s guidance, NWCO board meetings were an experience not to be missed, like a dare-devil roller coaster ride. “Park your broom,” he snapped at one woman concerned enough about finances as to question the practicality of hiring a European music director. We all laughed. Under Mark’s leadership, the Northwest Chamber Orchestra would claw its way to fame and fortune. We took comfort in knowing our president’s expertise was bankruptcy law.

When Mark Paben suggested the orchestra begin hiring only youthful and attractive musicians during a round of auditions, naively I thought him wise. “This orchestra needs eye candy,” he said. “You know, Margie, it’s the whole package we’re selling. You’ve got to look good these days. And besides, young musicians are malleable, not stuck in their ways.”

There was no stipulation for seating in the chamber orchestra contract. Mark insisted that less attractive orchestra players, in his eyes, be moved to spots inside the orchestra, where they’d be less visible to audience members.

Mark Paben had a whole repertoire of impersonations up his sleeve. He did a fabulous executive director imitation down to the habitual nail picking. His impersonation of the public relations person was uncanny. “Doesn’t she just look like she emerged from a complete hysterectomy?” he’d ask, laughing. The woman was promptly dismissed; she didn’t look the part.

Mark used various code names for those who got in his way. I remember some of the more colorful: “Alopecia Woman” along with “Eating Machine”. One man was nicknamed “Teeth Rotator” and of course, “Ben Gay”. Ben Gay was the legendary violinist who could and would play everything.

The last time I had an exchange with Mark Paben was at our dress rehearsal for the Miriam Fried concert during a lunch break. So thrilled to find him in the foyer I grabbed his arm and shouted, “Mark!” After all, he owed me a lunch, and a promise was a promise. But Mark Paben looked right past me, as if I no longer existed. “You scared me,” he said, and walked away in a huff.

His bizarre reaction lingered with me, and I felt distraught. “That’s just his way,” offered one woman as consolation. “He cares too much.” But two days later, immediately following the Fried concert, my eyes spotted him sitting with an ex-board member at a Spanish restaurant on First and Union. Once again, I was invisible to him. I knew in my heart, the two were plotting the lethal injection for NWCO.

Later that evening, an ominous email from Mark Paben mysteriously appeared in my mailbox. “Pack up and leave town,” it stated. Life is funny, isn’t it? I never thought he’d be the one leaving so soon.

A Jewish tradition tells us to light a candle on the anniversary of the death we mourn (Yahrzeit). I will light a flame for my cherished chamber orchestra, and at the same time, remember Mark Paben; may he finally find peace.

posted by Marjorie Kransberg-Talvi

Monday, March 05, 2007

God's Soup Kitchen

A friend recently told about her gratifying time working in a soup kitchen. A former student just wrote that she is going to spend her spring break helping to build housing in New Orleans. These are wonderful and rewarding deeds that bring joy and happiness to both the giver and the recipient. But should there be a need for them in the first place, in a rich country such as ours?

Someone commented, not long ago, that in his opinion, based on my writings I don’t really understand the American way. Quite the contrary, I understand it all too well after living here for over 30 years. When I criticize something in our society, it is because I also know how other Western countries have handled these issues, as I have lived there and continue to follow this progress. No system is perfect, and due to human nature, there will unfortunately always be people ready to cheat the system, at the expense of others.

Every human life should be equally important, and I'm not expressing communist ideas when I feel that the system should take care of the less fortunate. Bad luck or an illness without health insurance can put almost anyone in a terrible position. Today’s New York Times tells about the growing middle class of uninsured. As an example a 50-year-old real estate agent is interviewed. She has had breast cancer and can’t find affordable insurance for herself, unless you consider over $27,000 per year with a $5,000 deductible as such. Many people are stuck in jobs they hate simply because of the fear of losing benefits, mainly health insurance. As I know from experience, a sadistic employer can use this as a threat against an employee, or as a punishment for speaking out. This is especially effective if the person’s health is failing, perhaps as a result of working too hard for too long, or in a dangerous environment such as a mine or factory.

There is no denying that many people are addicted to drugs, but why are alcoholics free to run for president and smokers able to sue tobacco companies, yet other ‘users’ are sent to jail? There have been times during the last century when today’s ‘recreational’ drugs have been legal and other periods when alcohol was prohibited. Nobody can deny that tobacco kills, even inhaling second-hand smoke, yet no politician is suggesting laws to make smoking or selling cigarettes a punishable offence. If drug addiction was seen as an illness instead of crime, our prison population, the world’s highest, would plummet. If the government would help these people with their problem, perhaps the need for supporting a habit with criminal activities wouldn’t exist, at least in today’s magnitude. Take care of people’s mental health needs and you’d be surprised how the number of homeless will shrink, and also add to the decline of our inmate population.

A few nights ago I watched a disturbing Anderson Cooper/CNN special on Christianity. The program focused on some rather extreme evangelical movements where people are divided simply into believers (of their kind) and non-believers (everyone else). Many of these people blindly support Israel and want to destroy its neighbors. Is this done for the love of the Jewish people? Not really. They interpret the Bible in such a way that Jerusalem has to be in hands of Israelites, God’s chosen people, in preparation for Christ’s second coming and the end of this world as we know it. Do the Jews get to enter heaven with these righteous Christians? Of course not, unless they have converted.

When a person is born Muslim, he or she will most likely remain as one, and often obey God’s will in the way their religion teaches. The same is true with every faith. Many people from the Far East have become devout Christians in recent decades, but one must remember that their heritage has taught them a form of life philosophy in Buddhism, Confucianism and other such religions. Having a God to worship is new for many of them, and perhaps an easier way of life than their inheritance would demand. And there is nothing forbidding them to mix both the newly discovered faith with the old philosophy of living ethically.

Yesterday’s NY Times Magazine has a fascinating cover story by Robin Marantz Henig, titled “Darwin’s God” or “Why Do We Believe? – How evolutionary science explains the faith in God.” The article goes back in time and tries to come up with explanations to why humans developed this need in the first place, a belief in a Supreme Being. Why do we worry so much about an afterlife? There is an interesting comment by Jesse Bering, a psychologist who conducted studies on how children’s view of God changes with age: “A large part of any relationship takes place in our minds, so it’s natural for it to continue much as before after the other person’s death. It is easy to forget that your sister is dead when you reach for the phone to call her, since your relationship was based so much on memory and imagined conversations even when she was alive.”

Back to the issue of taking care of our brothers and sisters, whatever ethnicity and religion they may be. Six billion humans is a large number, yet shouldn’t every one of them be entitled to the same fundamental right of a good or decent life as a son or daughter of today’s American socialite? For the time being, relying on volunteers in soup kitchens may be necessary for our society to survive, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could dedicate our time for more meaningful dialogue between people, instead of just feeding the hungry and yet avoiding their eyes on the sidewalk the next day?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

What They Don't Want You to Know

It is interesting how in this country, which prides itself as the model of freedom for the rest of the world to follow, media often tells us a story with a slant, and then refuses to correct the faulty information. How often has the press declared someone guilty of a crime or a bad deed, and then when he/she has been found innocent, the rebuttal is to be found hidden somewhere in a hard-to-find spot near the end of a section, or is conveniently missing. We seem to have an odd censorship practice at work, with elements of propaganda attached to it. Certain institutions, starting with the government and ending with non-profits, are able to have stories published that make certain groups or individuals look bad, or deflect interest from really negative news to something else, often a trivial matter.

Terrible news from Iraq and Afghanistan were conveniently put on back burner when a former stripper died. For many days Anna Nicole Smith’s death was the main topic even on CNN news, Larry King Live and Anderson Cooper. People die unexpectedly every day. What made this Playboy centerfold’s story more worthy than that of a 12-year-old boy who died of a toothache? Only the Washington Post and some minor publications bothered telling his tragic story, although it spread overseas, further making our way of life seem ridiculous. His mom had lost Medicaid and had no other coverage, and couldn’t afford to pay $80 to have the son’s tooth extracted. The bacteria spread to his brain, resulting in his all-too-early death. Poor Deamonte became a Deadmonte. Was this story too revealing of an example how upside-down this country’s values are? With the money spent on creating the mess in Iraq, much of it having simply disappeared, every single person could have first rate medical care for probably many decades. It is all a question of priorities. If my wife and I can afford to give free lessons to some students who couldn’t afford to study otherwise, wouldn’t there have been a dentist willing to extract that tooth for nothing?

I can’t help but think back to the horrors of 9/11 and the scary days following it. I still find it very strange that our Vice President Cheney was taken underground to be protected at any cost, and nobody knew about his whereabouts, yet George W. Bush himself was allowed back in the White House, after zigzagging across the country’s military bases on Air Force One for a day. Does this tell the true story of who really holds the power in the administration? What about the even greater mystery of the deadly anthrax attacks by mail that followed just a couple days later? The country was led to believe we were attacked by chemical and biological weapons. When it later became evident that the anthrax, based on its ‘signature’, only could have come from our government’s laboratories, a scapegoat, Dr. Stephen Hatfill, was quickly named. Of course there was no evidence and he had to be freed, but that again was not a front page news item. Five and half years later this topic has conveniently been swept under a rug in the mainstream media, although one would think pursuing the matter would be of utmost importance to our national security. Independent sources, such as this one, of course continue their search for the truth.

About a half year ago many colleagues of mine in this city were accused of workplace terrorism, attacking some coworkers’ instruments, slashing their tires and threatening them with hidden razor blades et cetera. The local media gave a lot of space for these accusations, as the ‘victims’ had gone to their friends in the press. With the help of the internet these stories spread, making the Seattle musicians look like a bunch of adolescent hooligans, instead of serious and respectable artists. A private investigator was hired, by both the musicians and their employer, but he came back with absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing. Of course the media should have cleared the defamed musicians and told about the findings, but to my knowledge that never happened. So, perhaps intentionally, these colleagues of mine still appear guilty in the public eye, and whatever they will say in the future will not be taken as seriously as it should, as they have been discredited by these false accusations.

It is amazing how a local media tries to protect some affluent members of the community. Not long ago, the Los Angeles Times wrote a series of long and well-researched articles about the questionable global investments of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Although I see a possible personal bias in the story, many facts presented are indisputably true. One of the local dailies reprinted a shortened version of the initial L.A. Times story, but the other one supposedly didn’t (I don’t read either, so I can’t be sure).

Wouldn’t it be great if we had access to completely neutral and unbiased press, which would give equal space to both sides in case of a dispute, and would honor the common law principle of “innocent until proven guilty?” Also, it would be a pleasure to read good news, nice articles about nice people, instead of becoming anxious by seeing nothing but stories of horror and evil. Or is it true that one can, sadly enough, reverse the saying “no news is good news” and admit that “good news is no news?”