Written by Steven Hansen
Today, our Video of the Day from Russia Today is techically correct but also very misleading. This is just one more example why you need many varied sources for your dose of news to get many perspectives.
Our Video of the Day dialog states:
A tiny remnant of the British Empire in the middle of the Atlantic - Ascension Island. David Lindsay's family originates from the Island - he says it's outrageous that British citizens could be forced out on the whim of the US military.
The picture above is the author leaving Ascension. I am likely the only person in the USA who has been to all parts of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cunha (you would be hard pressed to find somebody else as there are NO airstrips on St Helena or tristan de Cunha). This Russia Today video is incomplete and misleading.
I have been pretty much all over the moonscape of Ascension including the "airbase". [picture below is author touring the island].
The majority of the island looks like the surface of the moon - but is decorated with antennas. As far as I remember (and I can find no confirmation on the internet) - the island is leased to the BBC (and in this respect very different than Diego Garcia) - and it was a whole island lease. Most of the antennas were for the BBC World Service - but I did notice USA antennas (NOAA and intelligence type), including a unit I thought was for submarine communication (although Ascension is not listed on thelist of Naval communications locations).
People cannot live there without being given food - you cannot grow food as Ascension sits on the edge of the South Atlantic high which creates the virtual moonscape.
I saw NO villagers there. Everyone lives in BBC or UK government supplied housing run by the Acension Island Administrator. Food comes in by plane. There is no harbor. I have even shopped in the military base commissary operated by the USA.
The video compares Diego Garcia with Ascension. Diego Garcia is tropical (and beautiful) and you can grow food. The indigenous population on Diego Garcia was displaced. Most of the "indiginous population" on Ascension was brought in from St. Helena as workers.
There are many reasons why people must leave Ascension (and return to St Helena) when they are no longer working. The biggest reason is one cannot support oneself without being supplied food.
This is not a ding on Russia Today - it is one of the many sources of news I review daily. News is delivered through the eyes of the reporter - and in this case, it is unlikely the reporter has every been to Ascension.