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Concerning Japan? I don’t think the Internet can be trusted.

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But I might be wrong, so help me out with this one.  All day, I’ve read and heard that “Japan’s Leading News Network,” “Kyodo News,” estimates that 88,000 people died in the earthquake and subsequent tsunami yesterday.  That first link’s significant, as it’s to a Google News search of “Japan 88000,” and every return — many of which are from reputable news agencies like the BBC — cites some variant of the phrase “the official Japanese news agency Kyodo,” though the links to said agency either won’t resolve or direct Google Chrome and Firefox to sites both browsers warn me is overrun by friendly malware.  There’s a Wikipedia entry for Kyodo News, but it boasts of it being “the only remaining news agency to transmit news via radiofax,” which strikes me as an odd thing to boast about.

Then there’s the fact that “Kyoto” handily defeats “Kyodo” in a Google Battle by 35,800,000 votes and that Kyodo News is the unlinked-but-most-frequently-cited-source concerning the impending nuclear holocaust and I can’t help but wonder whether (1) Kyodo News is the Japanese equivalent of Fox or (2) there’s a deliberate and profoundly cynical effort by spammers and link-farmers to drive traffic to sites Firefox and Chrome won’t load by preying on people’s unacknowledged desire to bear witness to increasingly unspeakable disasters.

Much as (2) would cause me to lose faith in the human race, I’d rather be the victim of an online advertising ploy than 88,000 Japanese be one of this earthquake and its aftermath.

Because I don’t know Japanese, if someone more knowledgeable can weigh in, I’d appreciate it.

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