Bill Carmichael: Don’t forget rest of news

AMID all the hysteria over the hacking allegations at the News of the World several other major news stories have dipped below the radar – the famine in the Horn of Africa, the stalemate in the ill-fated Libyan adventure, and, not least, the possible imminent collapse of the world economic system.

Sure, unethical and possibly illegal things happened at the now closed Sunday tabloid, and if anyone is proven to have broken the law they should of course face the consequences.

But it’s hard not to avoid the conclusion that the adolescent glee with which many politicians have greeted Rupert Murdoch’s embarrassment is a simple case of revenge – a payback for all the times the red tops have exposed corruption and perversion among the country’s elite.

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And beneath the manufactured outrage there clearly lies a sinister agenda to silence media critics and investigative journalism in some quarters.

Back in the real world, probably the biggest story of the year – and possibly the decade – is the economic crisis that threatens to dwarf even the terrible financial collapses of 2008. In the US, President Barack Obama is locked in negotiations with congressional leaders to raise America’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

Unless a deal is reached by August 2 – and there is little sign of an agreement so far – the US will go into default, with potentially catastrophic consequences that will reach around the entire globe. Put simply, it would mean that the world’s biggest economy would be unable to pay its bills.

Things are hardly any sunnier on this side of the Atlantic. This week leaders of the eurozone countries met in Brussels to hammer out a deal on the Greek debt crisis.

Again no solution – certainly not a long-term one – is in sight. Greece needs a bail-out of about £97bn – after a similar payment just over a year ago – just to stay afloat for a few more months. The debt-ridden country has no hope of ever paying back the money.

German and Dutch taxpayers are becoming increasingly fed up of throwing good money after bad with no end in sight, and their governments want the banks and private financial institutions to share the pain by allowing Greece to partially default on its debt.

But the banks warn that if this happens the creditor banks could be destroyed and Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy will be dragged down the same plug hole.

The only viable solution is for Greece to leave the eurozone, devalue its currency and default on its debts and try to rebuild its shattered economy through exports.

But Europe’s leaders are resisting this obvious course of events because it would mean the end of the Euro and therefore the political dream of a United States of Europe. So expect another “sticking plaster” temporary solution that will cost European taxpayers dearly without actually helping the Greeks.

We live in perilous times. If things do go belly up in the US and Europe the resulting calamity will affect every one of our lives – and it will relegate the scandal at the News of the World to a footnote in history.

Wendy’s a hit

My woman of the week is definitely Wendy Deng, wife of News International boss Rupert Murdoch. When some posh anarchist and “alternative comedian” tried to attack her 80-year-old husband, Ms Deng retaliated with a terrific open palmed slap that was as ferocious as it was accurate.

I’d love to see Miss Deng let loose on all the other ranting, humourless, Left-wing “comedians” that infest BBC Radio 4 every night of the week.

That would be worth paying the licence fee for.

It might also be funny – which is more than you can say for their shows.