Sunday, July 31, 2011

July30: The purpose of a newspaper...

The central purpose of a newspaper, especially in a democracy, is to give us the information we need to understand what is happening around us, and to respond to it as we see fit - but in an informed way

Any newspaper that has a story on its front page that U2 officials are impressed by Moncton is not a serious newspaper at all.  These are people who have been to Beijing, Paris, London, New York, Toronto, Melbourne... but Wow! Moncton really blew their socks off.

This worse that trivial. It's embarrassingly childish.

Monton's a nice place - just as a thousand and more small cities are nice places. But to imagine that world travellers (or even people who have seen only the maritimes) would get all excited just looking at the architecture along main street, or at shopping malls that look exactly like --well -- shopping malls...this simply makes Moncton look childish.

Meanwhile, the essential job of a newspaper in Moncton remains undone. Today, for example,  for the first time in weeks, there's an article on fracking for shale gas. Like the few earlier reports, it's heavily slanted to favour the views of a drilling executive.

At no time has The Moncton Times&Transcript reported on any unbiased studies  of the effects of fracking. When it does report, it devotes respectful attention to drilling execs and, notably, has never mentioned any of the problems that have undeniably been created by fracking. (It quotes opponents; but never quotes evidence they have.) It does, however, end with a sappy statement by Tom Alexander, general manager of SWN Resources, "We want to leave it (NB) in a better place than when we came."

(I skip lightly over the crashing error in that quotation. Obviously the reporter and the editor both failed to notice it.. Talk about professional!)

But even if he did say he wants to leave us in a better place (the south Pacific would be nice), who could be dumb enough to believe that Mr. Alexaander is the Easter bunny who is just here to do nice things for us?

If this province were a democracy, we would have news media giving us full information on this issue.

If this province were a democracy, we would have had that information at least ten years ago.

If this province were a democracy, the opposition Liberals would be organizing public meetings to tell us why they are critical of the government on this issue. (Instead, they will oppose it in the hope of wining votes, then will do the same as the Conservatives.)

If this were a democracy, people would go to such meetings to get information.

If this were a democracy, the    Conservative government would stop listening to us, and tell us exactly what it's policy on shale gas is - and why? (And why they did not bother mentioning it to us ten years ago.)

But New Brunswick isn't a democracy. The elections are for show. The newspapers tell us nothing unless it's trivial or untrue. New Brunswick isn't a democracy because the people of New Brunswick have never demonstrated they want one.

Jana Giles, in the youth section, has some good advice on this problem in her column "Just tell the truth".

Tell the truth about the quality of our newspapers.

Tell the truth about the lack of democracy in New Brunswick.

And let's tell each other the truth about how we have for generations allowed a gang of hangers-on in jounalism and politics to destroy democracy in New Brunswick, and to turn us over to a ruthless and greedy power bloc.

(Sorry about this being late. I pushed the wrong button.)

Friday, July 29, 2011

July 29: three wise men on camels headed to Moncton

The front page of today's TandT (again) carries a story of stomach jiggling excitement. U2 is coming tomorrow. (Who would have guessed?) Apparently, hordes are descending on Moncton from all over the world. (though the story breathlessly informs us that no private jets have been spotted at the airport, yet.)

 Funny thing, though.

The story and the full page ad on A7 both say there are lots of tickets still avialable. And they will be right up to show time.

The editorial is also about U2. It's parochialism is summed up in the We Say box, "Tomorrow's U2 show will be a party like no one has ever seen before; not even in Moncton!" Wow! Not even in Moncton?

Norbert Cunningham says goodbye as editorial page editor, though he will maintain a weekly column. I always had mixed feelings about young Norbert. He could write some decent columns.  But he was also responsible, as editor, for most vile, ignorant, defamatory and propagandisitic editorials I have ever seen.

He praises the staff at the T&T for being free of infighting. Of couse. Why would there be infighting? They all know who the boss is, and they accept it. What's there to fight about?

He also dumps on the internet as a source of news - but in such a superficial way, it lends credence to those who say Norbert is so simple that he might be sincere in what he ways.

He claims, "virtually all the news of any reliability comes from reporters working for news organizations." Well, yes. And all newspapapers come from trees. But some are a great deal more honest than others. And the Times and Tribune (like most North American newspapers) is not one of the honest ones.

They select those news stories they want you to read, and make sure that the source is something like the National Post or Brunswick Media, most of them operating as monopolists like Rupert Murdoch who use them to a)make piles of money and b)push their own agendas.. If you want anything that comes close to reliable, you have to go to the web to read The Guardian, The Economist, The Independent, Jane's Defence Quarterly, Haaretz, Le Monde, etc.

Monopoly is really a key point in a privately owned press. If capitalism is to work, it needs competition. Too bad so few capitalists, particularly in the New Brunswick newspaper business, understand that.

But Norbert reassures us there are big changes coming to the T&T, a whole new and exciting approach to news.  So its good work will go on.

. Well, that's good news. Maybe it even means that the owner is going to allow competition, and the Mnaging Editor will be stuffed and mounted (okay, he only needs mounting), mouth agape, as a retro rubbish bin for the lobby. Can't wait for the change.

Will there be a bright star to watch for as it comes to rest over the T&T building when it issues its  new and improved version?   Sure thing. After all, this is Moncton. So the whole world will be watching.

But remember. This is 2011, and we live in the most "with it" city in the world. So other parts of the scenario might change. For example, watch the airport for a private jet named Wisemen, Inc, with  three camels as cabin luggage.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

July 28: more blah - with some nonsense

Again, there is nothing of ineterest in most of today's Moncton Times&Transcript. As usual, there are two, good columns,both by regulars Alec Bruce and Jody Dallaire.

Then, as usual, we have an eidtorial of silly and ignorant propaganda, followed by another bit of journalistic sleaze from a "think tank", this time the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. But first the editorial.

This one is about cutting public service jobs - which refers to such jobs as bureaucracy and, as usual, with the adjective bloated. This is rather like the trick of referring to terrorists as Islamic terrorists. (But when we bomb civilians, it's never called terrorism, and certainly not Christian terrorism.).

For openers, bureaucracy refers to clerks and administrators in an organization. Private business has bureaucracy, too. That bureaucracy is not only bloated (as with directors who get huge rewards for nodding t heir heads at annual meetings), but bloated at salaries that civil servants can't even dream of.
Ever seen an eidtorial in the T&T that criticized that as bureaucracy? And with the  adjective "bloated" tossed in?

No. The T&T choice of topics and its choice of words are always based on propaganda, and on creatinig negative images.

And, incidentally, who do you think pays for those bloated salaries and bunuses for sernior execs? You do. Of course, you do. There's nowhere else for the money to come from. For the last thirty years and more we've seen a drift of all our money into the pockets of the very rich. The US is even worse. That's why it has a huge deficit, a recession, and depression levels of poverty and destitution.

Cutting the civil service will battle debts and deficits? I doubt that very much. The budget was balanced when Harper first came to power. It's his government that has gone of the rails. For openers, consider the huge cost of a fighter plance that we don't need and that nobody else wants. Consider the cost of a pointless war in Afghanistan and another in Libya. Consider the patronage money doled out for the G20. Consider the billions to be spent on prisons we don't need, and which can only do damage.

Will cutting civil service jobs help us out of the recession? Quite the opposite. You don't bring on the good times by firing people - or by giviing handouts and tax breaks to big business. That's like solving starvation by taking food from the thin and poor, and giving it to the rich and obese - on the theory that somehow the food will filter down to the poor.

A government now should be hiring people to improve services to those who need them. That way, it will create customers; and it's customers, not big business leeches, that an economy grows on. Big business no more creates wealth than a sponge creates water. We create wealth. Our labour and our spending (f we can get decent pay for our labour) creates wealth.

The problem is that business just sponges it up. That's why the US is deep in a recession that, in terms of suffering, is really a depression. That's why it's likely to stay that way.

The article from the "think-tank" is just silly. It's an article in favour of immigration. I am certainly in favour of immigration. But the article is so lacking in evidence and so ignorant of the reasons business likes immigration (it provides cheap labour) that I would have failed it as a high school essay.

Then it babbles about culture, a word the writer obviously does not undesstand. That's not surprising. Nobody has ever defined a culture. That's true. When the PQ was in power in Quebec, and sworn to preserve Quebec culture, it tried - and failed dismally - to produce a definition of the culture it was preserving. In fact, one of the first things in did in power was to destroy the power of the Catholic church -which was surely a major feature of the culture it said it was preserving.

The writer refers to our cultural identity. Then she refers to a Saskatchewan culture. Does one culture eat three meals a day - amd the other two? And if there is a Canadian culture, how can there be a separate Ssskatchewan one? Aren't they Canadians, too?

So we have a Canadian culture and a Saskatchewan one and an Ontario one. And we also have a multicultural one. All of us.

And culture is continually changing. That part is quite true. But if all of these cultures are t hings that are constantly changing, how can we ever know what they are? And if we don't know what they are, how can we babble about them, and how can we say they enrich us?

Our culture, we are told,has a diversity of laws? Well, yeah, we have a lot of laws about a lot of things. What's peculiarly Canadian about that?

This is an article of bafflegab, schmoozy sentimentalism, and ignorance. Why was it written? Because big business wants immigration to supply cheap labour. That's been the history of Canada. that's why the CPR brought in chinese labour, and why we turned to southern and eastern Europe in the 1890s. It had nothing to do with a thirst for cultural diversity. It had everything to do with cehap labour.

As a person of Scottish and French descent  Do I have both cultures? (As well as Canadian and Quebec and New Brunswick?) As a child of immigration, I'm all for it. What I object to is how immigration has been used to exploit people.

Beware of  those who use words like cjulture and race.

I need to read something more stimulating.. . I'll go back to page one, and have an intellectual feast on the story of how it rained yesterday, and the latest updates on the U2 concert.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July 27: our sympathies go to......

As usual,the first three sections of The Moncton Times and Transcript have nothing worth buying a paper for unless you really, really care that there will be a variety of food available at the U2 concert.

Fracking made page three, but only because vandals damaged some equipment at a fracking site. Has fracking done any damage to us?  Good luck on finding a storty about that.

Real news doesn't make the paper. It's just like that time over ten years ago, when President Clinton publicly apologized for the CIA( and Israeli intelligence)- led massacre of 200,000 Maya natives in Guatemala. Most North American news media just didn't bother to report it.

The Moncton Times&Transcript didn't say a word about it, not even when it was known that one of the murdered   war Raoul Leger of Bouctouche. Nor did it say a word when the Canadian government refused to  investigate the case, or even to ask questions. They were still silent about the issue a year ago when New Bruswick film makers working for NFB produced a film about it.

The editorial page today has two, good columns by Alec Bruce and Gwynne Dyer. But the one I'll talk about is by Brian Cormier. No, this one isn't picking on Mr. Cormier or the T&T. It's picking on  us.

Cormier's column is about the death of Amy Winehouse, particularly that some people have no sympathy with her or her family because she suffered addiction. He says - and I t hink reasonably so - that a person who suffers addiction deserves sympathy as much as anyone does, that the addiction itself calls for sympathy. Most of us will probably agree. And most of us will be hypcrites.

We give sympathy depending on who dies. We will feel sympathy for Amy Winehouse, for the recently murdered Norwegians, for the victims of 9/11.  But tell me, when was the last time any news medium expressed sympathy for the two million plus innocent dead in Vietnam? for the half million civilians killed in the US terror bombing of Cambodia? for the over a million, mostly civilians, killed in Iraq? for the at least tens of thousands who have died in Afghanistan? for those adults and children being killed by drone bombers in Yemen and Pakistan? for the civilians we are now killing in Libya? for the 200,000 Maya killed in Guatemala? Or even for Raoul Leger?

When have you read of sympathy for the millions of refugees we have created with our wars - the starving, the widowed, the orphaned, the crippled? Do we figure maybe that them there foreigners don't' mind seeing their families starved to death or their babies splattered against a wall?

That's probably it. I mean, they ain't god fearin' people like us.

When Lieutenant William Calley of the US army in Vietnam was convicted of murdering 120 people, including babies and elderly, in Vietnam, he was pardoned after a few days in jail. That was the result of widespread compassion for Calley in the US.  When a Canadian child who was tortured into admitting he threw a grenade was imprisoned for years, tortured, and then sent to a military tribunal for trial, I saw very little compassion in our news media - and neither compassion nor integrity in our government.

Of course we should feel compassion for an Amy Winehouse. We should also feel compassion for all the people that our side abuses and murders. Better still, maybe we should stop doing it.

But don't expect to find anything like that in our news media. We should least of all expect it from Brunswick media - at least not  until after the U2 concert - and then, of course, the big football game, followed by the continuing crisis of bicycle lanes, and maybe the opening of a new pizzeria....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July 26: Thw lack of fracking news; on ignorant Liberals; and lying think tanks

First, the big that Alec Bruce is a grandfather.  Obviously,then, the picture on his column dates back to the Lester Pearson years. But, however misleading that photo might be, it is surely heartening that a perons of his advanced years can still shuffle to the computer each day; and can still send in a column worth reading.

Section A, again, is mostly about U2, with reassurances that 60,000 litres of beer will be on hand. As usual, there isn't a owrd on fracking, though it is going one, and is kept secret by  heavy security. The T&T isn't bothering to report even the lies told in "Information Meetings" staged by the gas companpy. If you want information on what is happening, the major source is one on Facebook, "New Brunswick is NOT for sale". Lots of interesting news and videos.

Oh, in fairness, the front page reports a speech on downtown development that would have been fresh and forward-looking 50 years ago. So, naturally, it made page one.

NewsToday has little, and nothing you have not seen on TV yesterday.

A local MLA for the Liberals has a good piece on Alward's broken promises - though it would be even better if the Liberals didn't have a past littered with broken promises. It also has a giggly sentence about basic Liberal values that insist on protecting the weak against the strong. Like hell they do. I suggest that Liberal MLA Chris Collins get a good dictionay, and look up the word Liberal. Liberalism has nothing to do with protecting the weak - and lord knows the NB Liberal Party has nothing to do with it. Similarly, Conservatism has nothing to do with traditional values (whatever they might be) or with responsible spending.

Quite apart from the dictionary definitions, I have seen no evidence of anything that could be called values in either the Liberals or the Conservatives.

The worst and most hypocritial item in today's paper is on the op ed page in the shape of a column on oil and democracy. It comes from the usual suspect, the big business propaganda front called "The Fraser Institute". This one argues that oil companies will increasingly rely on Canada because they prefer to deal with democracies.

Really? So how come big oil of the US, Britain and France overthrew the democracy that was Iran to install a dictator whose  brutality and corruption led to the revolt that founded the present government? How come the US supports dictators in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - and thoughtfully supplies them with weapons to put down the unrest of the "Arab Spring"?

How come virtually all American big business has supported dictators all over the world, and has frequently overthrown democracies to get dictators?

The Fraser Insitute lists Venezuela as an oil producer that is only party democratic. Yes, indeed. And the US oil industry is hostile to Venezuela precisely because it is partly democratic. It far prefers the old days when Venezuela was a trusted and servile dictatorship.

No Empre in history has ever promoted democracy. Britain gave Canada self-government only when it was obvious that holding on to control of Canada might well involve it in a ruinous war with the the US - which had something of a reputation for invading its neighbours.  Similarly, Britain gave up more of othe rest of its empire only when it couldn't afford to hold it any longer.

The US has a long history of imposing dictators. The idea that it finds them "undesirable" is absurd. So why write such obvious drivel?

The Fraser Institute is a propaganda front for big business. Part of their mission iis to create a warm and fuzzy feeling by associating big business with nice things like freedom and democracy.

Dr. Geobbels did the same sort of image-making for Hitler.

Monday, July 25, 2011

July 25: The art of saying nothing.

P. 1 Man builds model boats. Medical crews will be at U2 concert. Two gaga stories about street festivals.
P. 2 half of it is U2 - Metro youth excited. U2 world  tour has drawn huge crowds.
P.3 how to pack for U2 concert.  Scallop festival ends with fireworks.
P.4 continues trivia from P.1.
P.5 We're into obituaries.
P.6 A real news item. Premier is worried about transfer payments.
P. 7 ad
P.8 ad

The word fracking does not appear. (nor does the report of a giant iceberg spewing poisons, and heading this way. Hey! Forget it. Enjoy U2. Drink beer from a paper cup.

 Nor does the interesting news that Alward has overspent huge sums by wildly accepting estimates of cost for project.s We don't learn that unitil Alec Bruce's opinion column on the editorial page where he lists cost overruns of up to 80%.. How come this was not reported? Or was not part of a series of special reports like the stimulating ones on bicycle lanes?

And what does that tell us about the estimated hundred million dollars for a new hockey rink?

NewsToday section has no news about our war in Libya, nothing about the US debt crisis, nothing that  hasn't already appeared on radio, TV and the web. Look.....

For immediate news, print has passed its 'best before" date. A far better use for the NewsToday page would be to print what is not readily avalable for everyone. For example, it could feature news as reparted from some of the better sources (none of them in North America.)  For example, a story on the middle East could be reprinted from Al Haaretz, an Israeli paper that is far the best on the region. For opinion and news on the News of the World scandal, it could reprint from The Guardian (Britain). For Libya, it could use El Jazeera which is disliked by North American news Media precisely because it is so much more truthful than they are.

Instead of reading stale news, we could learn how people around the world can see events very differently - and we can get away from the essentially manipulating, propaganda approach of most of the North American press.

Hey! They can afford it. Three-quarters of NewsToday is ads.

Essentially, though, the purpose of NBMedia is to keep people in the dark, and let the barons of New Brunswick run the place for their own greed. It is to keep them focussed on the trivial, safely away from the conerns of those who rip us off.

The only two items in today's issue worth reading are Alec Bruce on government spending, and Allen Abel on the US national debt crisis - though Abel could have been wider in his outline of who is responsible for the delay in government action - and why. (hint - it's because of the economic barons of the US, who are much like the barons of New Brunswick.) And they, too, own all the major news media.

You want to become a journalist? Forget it. Become an honest pimp.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

July 23:Saved by the teen page....

There really isn't much in  today's paper, one way or the other. The most strikiing thing is an assinine statement by our premier in which he breaks his own record for servility and stupidity. He says a 50 cent increase in the minimum wage would cause unemployment. Right. So if we had no mimimum wage at all, we'd all be prosperous. I think that's what the South fought to defend in the US Civil War.

Let's see, now, a government that can advocate a hundred million dollar skating rink as a toy for a wealthy hockey team owner, and then can give tax money away by the millions to the Irvings and McCains and the rest would be economically destroyed by giving an extrra 50 cents an hour to a mother tryting to raise three children.

Mr. Alward, you are a disgrace to conservatism, a disgrace to New Brunswick. You're no a politican of any sort. You're a "fetchit" dog.

Will there be an editorial criticizing the premier from breaking his promise? Sure. I'll hold my breath.

What this does illustrate is the willingness of the people who own this province to squeeze every last bit of blood from it. Alas! That's not illegal. But it's unquestiontably immoral. I would be nice to hear our churches at least mutter a word or two about it. (But good luck on that.)

The editorial is the usual,  hack boosterism. The editorial cartoon is very good. Bill Beliveau's column on Harper's prison reforms (which are going to do enormous danage at great cost just so Harper can pretend he's Batman for the half-wit section of our electorate) is an excellent one. Belliveau slides into silliness only when he does a pretend analysis of the Liberal party. Off that horse, he's good.

Ii was puzzled to see a column on the value of kindness on the business page. Then it ht me. Kindness can be good for business;and the writer is a professional speaker at those conferences businessmen pay big bucks for.  (You know, like when they give Wayne Gretzky fifty thousand to discuss world affairs Or, worse, Blill Clinttn and George Bush in a comedy routine.) The writer of the column obviously has discovered you can make good money giving talks about kindness. But I don't think that was the original idea of kindness.

Oh, does this mean Alward in being kind in holding back fifty cents an hour?

The only real news in the paper was buried on P. D6, the failure of American congressmen to come to agreement in debt talks. It's impossible to predict the suffering this could cause in the US and around the world. It's quite possible this could be he final bell for an American democracy which has been on the skids for decades..

And it's happening because of greed. The very rich are determined that they will not pay a cent for the crisis they have caused. The whole load will be dumped on the poor and the middle class. (Perhaps they're modelling their greed, callousness, arrogance - and stujpidity) on the model they've seen coming from our New Brunswick aristocracy.

Luckily, the teen page is back on F2 and F3.

Two that should be read together are about information - and they're by Nathan Rinzler and Isabelle Agnew. Agnew begins with the decline of reading - and the other with the transccience of the information we get. Both are right.

Reading, of any sort, trains us to use our imagination, to organization in ideas, to be critical. And serious reading is on a downslide.
No, must of what we do for infomation does nothing to stimulate thought, imagination, or crticial values. Whether it's world news or Gerry Sprnger, it's all just pictures, just mindless entertainment. Al it does is to manipulate us so that New Brunswick will elect only Liberals or Conservatives - and don't have a clue what's going on ini the world.

Mr. Rnzler (yes, he deserves the Mr.) accidentally shows that power of manipulation when he descrcibes Osama Bin Laden as the world's most notorious crminal.
1. Bin Laden was trained and supplied in killing by the US government.
2.Over much of the world, he is regarded as a hero for opposing American aggression as strongly as he once opposed Soviet aggression.
3. Bin Laden killed something over 2,000 innocent, american civilians.
   George Bush and Tony Blair killed over a million innocent Iraqi civilians and, with Obama, uncounted thousands of Afghanis.
4. George Bush 1, as head of the CIA, killed 200,000 maya civilians.
5.Richard Nixon, in the terror bombing of Cambodia killed half a million innocent civilians.
6. How many thousaands have been killed by Canadians in Libya?

See how seemingly mindless news can affect our understanding of the world?

Jana Giles is thirteen, and writes about being officially a teenager. It's worth reading, then thinking about our own teen years. These are I think, the most influential years in shaping our lives. Our strongest hatred and loves will be in those years. Those are also the years when we meet a wider range of people so that, if we're lucky, we'll learn how others deal with the world, and some of it will rub off on os. I remember when I was an office boy, and expecting to be one forever. I didn't realize then that kids and parents I had met just a few years earlier, while in (and failing) high school would soon change my whole life.

These are important years, Jana. Get the most out of them.

Friday, July 22, 2011

July 22: Fast-breadking story - front page

There will be plenty of parking space for cars at the U-2 concert. (Great. Send yourr car. It could probably used some fun time.)

Even more interesting is another story, also on page 1.  Education Minister Jody Carr has admitted that his cuts to education are too severe. Well, that's nice. But his government  has had almost a year since the election to figure that our. And they had the years in opposition before that to think about it. Now, with time short and schools thoroughly demoralized, the minister says, "...duh..."

I looked for the flaming editorial saying that we have plenty of money for schools After all, the T&T is the paper that  says we have plenty of money to build a hundred million dollar hockey rink, buckets of the stuff to subsidize energy costs for big business, and maybe enough to buy a CFL team.  So it knows we have plenty for children.  But not a word. (It appears to be a rule at the T&T never to say a word in favour of the public schools.)

You really have to wonder.  What do the words Liberal and Conservative have to do with giving handouts to big business while we short change our children? That's neither liberalism nor conservatism. That's plain, old greed by the bosses, servility to them.  And perhaps stupidity.

Mr. Carr says he'll come up with some new ideas. Wow! Now I am scared.

By the way, wouldn't it be nice if the T&T would give us some numbers on just how much it costs us to keep the Irvings and the McCains out of poverty? How much does that electricity cost? The total of loans and subsidies? What is the percentage of tax noney we pay them?  What do they pay? (not the official percentage listed on the tax form, the real number.)   Maybe they could spare reporters from their daily task of reporting on the decor of new fast food outlets, and parking for U-2.

Interesting to see that Canada's crime rate is dropping. Criminals must be scared off by Harper's tough (and expenisve) new crime bill - even though it hasn't passed yet. In fact, they must have worrying about Harper since 1973, because that's when the crime  rate started to drop.

NewsToday is, as usual, dominated by the absence of news for today. They mention Libya, but don't mention reports from human rights agencies that it is the rebel troops, not Ghadaffi's army, that are murdering civilians and looting.  The rebels also expelled all Blacks from a city they captured.  Ini fact, it all its reporting so far, the T&T still has carried nothing on who the rebels are, what they want, and why we are supporting them. How is it possible we can be at war for five months, and nobody knows why?

The lead editorial is very sensible. Increasing the minimum wage by fifty cents an hour is too much, too fast. It'll go to the workers' heads, and throw Walmart, MacDonald's, Colonel Sanders, etc. into bankruptcy.

No.  Better save the increases, subisidies, tax breaks, loans, etc. for those who really need them.

I wonder how many floors Mr. Irving has to wash, how many cortons to lift, to make fifty cents. I wonder how many budget cuts there have been in the schools he went to. I wonder if he worries about how he's going to feed his children.

Check any big business. You'll find it makes its money not by creating wealth, but by exploiting poverty. We became a realitively rich society by having stolen the land we live on; and lumber companies get rich on the forests we give them. Our railways that built Canada were built with the wealth taken from India and China and South Africa. We eat and dress well on food and clothing that comes from countries we keep in poverty, countrries like Haiti where the minimum wage is a sensible $3 a day. Check out the practices and wage rates of Canadian mining companies in Central America and Congo.

Of course, we're better off here in Canada. But the basic rule is the same. The rich get rich off the poor.  Gee! There's another good story for the T&T. What, exactly, is the distribution of wealth in this country? How can it happen that so few get so much of it? Is it possible they use that money to keep others poor? Is it possible they even corrupt governments and new meida?

Oh, the word 'fracking' does not appear in today's paper. Funny, considering that shale gas will be our eoconomic future (so long s we don't throw money to the wind by raising the minimum wage to fifty cents an hour.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July 21: blowing the big story

We'll just skip over the story about how a province that can afford to build a hundred million dollar hockey rink and can afford to give billionaires a break on their energy costs can't afford to raise the minimum wage for lousy jobs. The warning is clear. If you want to make a living, don't waste your time in New Brunswick.

We'll even skip over a pretty sensible editorial about increasing the density of housing in downtown Moncton to encourage more people to live there: (though one has to wonder how moving Moncton High out to the boonies helps such a plan).

The big story is about Rupert Murdoch and The News of the World. The Moncton T&T, like newspapers all over t he world,is getting all excited aboujt it, but it's missing the real point of this story. And there's a reason. The Moncton Times and the private news media in general prefer to miss the point.. This is not just a scandal concerning hacking into the phones of  royals, or exploiting the vulnerable. It's much bigger and dirtier than that. And it affects almost all of the world's private news media.

Our modern newspaper originated in 1890s with the development of cheap production methods. Prices dropped; and circulation soared. For the first time, the newspaper became not only hugely profitable, but it had an unprecedented power to influence events.

One of the first to realize this was William Randolph Hearst who used his newspapers not only to make himself rich, but to manipulate public opinion into supporting a war based on a lie that Spain had sunk an American warship. The paper gave Hearst a base so strong that he would likely have become president had a romantic affair not come to light.

Our own Max Aitken went the same route. The British prime minister in World War I was so concerned about Aitken's influence and his obvious ambitions for political power, that he used Aitken's  vanity to take him out of the picture. He named him Lord Beaverbrook. It sounded good; but it took him out of the fight for electoral power.

Almost every daily newspaper and every private radio or TV station is a tool used by its owner not only to make a profit, but to maniulate public opinion for the owner's benefit.

This shows itself in the Moncton T&T everty day. For a strking example, think back to the last copy before the recent provincial election.  The paper summed up its election coverage by interviewing the Liberal and Conservative leaders. Only the Liberal and Conservative leaders. Of course. It didn't matter to the owner which of them won. But it would certainly matter if any other party got substantial support.

Similarly, a poll showed that Tommy Douglas was the most admired politician in this country's history. What's interesting about that is that no daily newspaper in this country ever supported him in its pages.  They supported Brian Mulroney - even when it was obvious what he was. But not Tommy Douglas.  Of course not. Douglas had a big following among ordinary Canadians - but none among billionaires who could make money out of health care and free trade.

Murdoch has been the classic example of the newspaper owner who wants both power and money. He has used Fox News to raise hatred of Moslems to hysteria levels. He used his influence and power to get Tony Blair into the prime minister's office. Once there, Blair became Britain's George Bush, and retired from office as a multimillionaire. George Bush, himself, became a multimillionaire while in office. And I believe it has not been unknown for former NB premiers to become very wealthy.

Murdoch has debased and corrupted not only  the police and the government but journalism, itself. Still, that doesn't make him different from most other private news media, just better at what he does.

Be assured that most news media will not push this story beyond the simple sleaze and greed it appears to be. The private news media are not anxious to open their own operations to public doubts. Nor does Murdock have to worry about the House of Commons asking too many questions. He knows too many of their secrets.

For a start, Murdoch and the Blair government were intimate friends through the Labour reign, and equally so now with the Conservatives. Neither party is anxious to explore this relationaship. The same situation exists in the US in the unlikely case the US should open an enquiry into, say, Fox News.

As well, people who can hack private conversations of the royals, can also hack secret conversations of politicians.  J. Edgar Hoover used his FBI to get information on criminals. He also used it to get information on presidents and congressman. Ever wonder why he was never forced to retire?

Murdoch almost certainly has the goods an anybody of power. They aren't going to push him. Nor will the rest of our corrupt and manipulative private news media.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 20: A Moncton T&T worth the price

No, it's not the whole Moncton Times and Transcript that's worth the price. Most of the paper is the usual trivia. The usual, pititful business page is supported by and enclosure called New Brunswick Business Journal that is even sillier than the business page. Nor is it the two, staff-written columns on the op ed page; they are totally outclassed at the borron of page by the ads for lost and found cats.

The strength is on the editorial page. No. It isn't the editorial. That part is back to a brainless rant about bicycle paths.

The value for money starts with the best editorial cartoon I have even seen in the T&T - better than most I have seen in any paper. It is far the best analysis of the Canadian departure from Afghanistan I have seen either in print or picture. It shows Canada going home in helicopters, leaving  behind a huge, round boulder labelled Aghanistan. The boulder is on a steep hill, propped up by only a twig.

Top cartoonists can often sell the originals of their cartoons for thousands. This one, by de Adder, is in that class.

Alec Bruce, always a good writer, contributes one of the funniest (and truest) columns I have seen.

Then there is a suberb opinion piece of Beatrice R.D.Hair of Salisbury Tutoring Academy. It's called Education: losing the way in the U.S.A. (Alas! The Salisbury Tutoring Academy is in North Carolina.)

Both sholarly and intelligent, it is also written in the way more scholarly and intelligent people should write - with simplicity. Her focus is on the mess that American publication has become thanks to free market inthusiasts and ignorant news media.

It argues what scholars have known for decades (but Atlantic Institute for Market Studies and editorial writers for the T&T have not) that standardized testing and ranking of schools is a crock. They do nothing to make teachers accountable; and they discourage any real learning. (But that's what our servile provincial government has signed up for beecause that's what their masters want. There's money to be gouged out of our education taxes and our children.)

Learning, she points out, is profoundly affected by the teacher, the student, and the parent. It is not, despite all the venom spat out at teachers and administrators over the past year by T&T editorial writers, simply a matter of standardization and measurement. Far from helping, the T&T's ass-kissing has done serious damage to our schools. This article is the first one I have seen in The Moncton Times to show an understanding of what learning can be about - besides ruining our schools and our children to make money for big business.

This article, alone is worth price. Coupled with Alec Bruce's column and de Adder's cartoon,today's T&T is a bargain.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

July 19: curiouser and curiouser....

For two weeks, news reports, editorials and editorial cartoons have persented an image of Moncton residents in a rage over bicycle lanes. It got even more coverage than the opening of a new pizzeria. Then came today's report on the front page of a public meeting of City Council on the subject. But where were alll the citizens with pitchforks and burning torches? As the report reads, it was a pretty pacific meeting, with support and opposition pertty balanced, and with lots of gentle folks in the middle. It was so quiet that all the mayor had to say at the end was that he would think about it. Some uprising of outraged citizens.

The editorial cartoon was, as usual, wildly out of touch with reality. It's of a great roller about to roll over cars while painting a bicycle lane. Don't they tell the cartoonist what their big news story of the day is?

Well, at least it took attention away from fracking. Notice we haven't had a cartoon about fracking?

Meanwhile, one of the old, propaganda "think tanks", the Frontier Centre for Public Policy., has reappeared on the editorial page. It's argument is that the free market is the ticket to lift our native peoples out of poverty and despair. Yessirree. Just let some private money in there - and all the problems will clear up.

Why, our reserves could become just like Haiti. The free market has been very free in Haiti for almost a century. Lots of good things coming out of Haiti as a result - things like Levis, and Fruit of the Loom and Chiquita Bananas. Funny thing, though. Haiti is the poorest country in the western world. Most city houses (shanties) don't even have running water.

The minimum wage was $3 a day - at a time when the minimum cost of living was judged at over $9 a day. When the elected president suggested raising the minimum wage to $5 a day, American troops flew in, arrested the president, and exiled him.

Millions still live in poverty, starvation and hopelessness in Congo, despite almost a hundred and fifty years of the free market  waving its magic wand. On the good side, Canadian mining investors have done well out of the cheap labour and lack of education and health services. Our own banner waver for the free market, Brian Mulroney, was on the board of one of those big-hearted companies.

You can find the same story all over Central America where United Fruit Company was so hurt by the lack of gratitude for the starvation wages it paid that it worked with the US government to overthrow the democratically elected government of Guatemala and install a dictatorship. The free market was free again.

Of course, the US had to follow up with the slaughter of 200,000 of the Maya peasantry who were so silly they thought the free market wasn't doing them any good.

Even China produces prosperity only at the top - and those at the top get their prosperity by keeping Chinese working conditios among the cheapest and most dangerous in the world.

And, oh yes. The US, the world's leading example of the free market.... Most of its money is held by the less than one percent at the top. Meanwhile, 25% of all American children ive in poverty.

Roll on, the good times.

The writer of this piece of propaganda concludes "They 'native peoples' need a roadmap to succeed, not descredited ideology.

Quite so. And its hard to imagine an ideology more discredited than than the free market propaganda of outfits like Fontier Centre for Public Policy (and, course, Atlantic Institute of Market Studies.), all of whom are welcome on the pages of the T&T.

So----when is The Moncton Times and Transcript going to tell us more about fracking, about how much it['s happening and where, and exactly what our risks are and what our benefits will be? And who it is that's behind it all?

No such chance. The rest of the month will be taken up with important news that U2 is coming, that U2 is looking forward to coming, that U2 is getting closer, that the seats are almost ready...  It'll be like Willy and Kate all over again.

Remind the cartoonist to switch from bicycle lanes to  U-2.

Monday, July 18, 2011

July 18: Bland, irrelevant, trivial.

Today, almost all of the Moncton Times&Transcript emulated its laughable business page - sparse and uninformative on world economics, completely vacant on local business.

There are only two things worth reading or talking about today, both of them opinion columns.
One, on the editorial page, is by Alec Bruce.  Allen Abel is on the op ed page.

I've often wondered why the Allen Abel column is in the papter at all. Supposedly, it is to provide some insight into the workings of Washington, D.C.   But, usually, the insights are so trivial they really don't matter.Today's is a little bit different. It's about the stunning levels of corruption in Washington City Council.

He has stories of a former mayor and present councillor who didn't pay taxes for at least six years, and has a long history of drunk driving. There is another councillor who diverted $300,000 (of 400,000) meant for youth programmes into his own pocket.

Well, yes. The city government of Washington is all that. New York, Chicago and many other cities are least as bad; and almost all have high levels of mob control. But all of those put together are small time compared to the federal government in Washington.  So why stop at Washington City Council? Or at any City Council?

A typical congressman in the U.S. federal government is a millionaire with a stock portfolio heavily weighted with shares in the defence industry - for which he votes the highest military spending in the world. Few congressman and no president of the past 60 years has been able to win an election without being a millionaire supplied with election funds from billionaires. No candidate can run for any office and hope for fair news coverage without the support of the corporations that own almost all of US news media.

The US is currupt from bottom to top. That's why it has only two political parties with only minor differences betwen them. That's why peace nobelist Obama is now fighting more wars than Bush did. American democracy, which always fell short of its popular image, has entirely ceased to exist. People who used their "freedom" to criticize government policies get their phones and emails hacked by government spies. The president can and does imprison people with no charge, no trial, no legal advice. Foreign aid, if it comes at all, usually comes in the form of highly profitable contracts to favoured coroporations - with very little of it ever reaching those who need it. Copngress now is fighting a battle to put the whole burden of suffering and paying for the recession onto the shoulders of the 99 plus percent who didn't cause it.

Washington City Council sleaze is pretty tame stuff in comparison.

Then, there's disappointment in what is usually the best column in the paper. Alec Bruce talks about how the Alward government, unlike Shawn Graham's, has been up front about their plans and priorities for the shale gas projects.


It's been going on for ten years. If Alward had something to say about it, why didn't he campaign on it?

In fact, the open and honest Alward government didn't mention it until a few weeks ago, and not until a group of "firebrands" forced his hand/ When it was  forced, ti was obvious his "environment is our first priority" cabinet minister had not yet prepared regulations - or even done the preliminary studies. Indeed, the Alward government could have nothing to be open and honest about since it handed over the planning for New Brunswick's economic future some months ago to a selp-appointed committee of big business.

Speaking of honesty and transparency, the newpaper that Alec Bruce's column appears in has told us clost to nothing about what is going on - and even that close to nothing was highly biased.  And, again, we got that little bit only because of "firebrands"'

I see no evidence here or a government approach than can be called either "balanced" or "prudent" - or even an approach. What I see is the traditional New Brunswick gift of its power, its resources, its people and their children as sacrifices  to power and wealth..

Oh, when reading a newspaper, always watch out for loaded words. A moslem who kills people in order to terrorise is routinely called a terrorist. An American Christian who does so is call a militia member in the press.  When General Crutis Lemay vowed to bomb Cambodia into the stone age, and then killed half a million civilians, he was called a hero. When Bush killed over a million Iraqi civilians, he was called a strong president. When his father, as head of the CIA, directed the genocide of 200,00 of the Maya of Guatemala - it wasn't even mentioned.

"Firebrand", like terrorist, militia member, hero is a loaded word. Use firebrand if you like. But  use it consistently. Use it to refer to Bush and Blair, both of whom lied to justify wars. Use it to refer to Harper, who committed us to bombing civilians in Libya in a war for which we still don't have any credible reason. Use it  to refer to newspapers that  lie to us so that corporations can rip us off. (Use to refer to newspapers that stir up controversy over bicycle lanes to get people's attention off shale gas.)

The whole column is very unlike Bruce - particularly in the last sentence in which he throws up his hands and says, in effect, "what can ya do, eh?"

By the way, has anybody noticed the similarity between theh shale gas scheme and Shawn Graham's proposed sale of NB Energy? Both are based on a geographical and marketing unit of the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, and New England. It's the unit referred to by Atlantic Institute of Market Studies as Altantica.

What a conincidence!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

July 16: part 2

Okay, I didn't read the op ed column by staff writer Brent Mazerolle. That's because I long ago gave up on reading those. My bad. I missed a fascinating one.

Mr. Mazerolle wrote about how awful Canada's newest TV network is. Sun TV. It certainly is. It's a copy of the sort thing that's been so successful (up to now) for super-sleaze Rupert Murdoch. Mazerolle says of it  He writes of it, "Oh, my. So so very bad.. In every way I can think of - accuracy, impartiality, intelligence, basic dignity, basic decency - so, so very bad?"

Has Mr. Mazerolle never read the paper that gives him his paycheques?

July 16: Blah

There is only one item in today's Moncton Times & Transcript woth reading.

It isn't on the first page which featrures a Rupert Murcoch headline "Citizens remain furious at road line reductions." There is no indication of how many citizens are furious. But the important thing is that it gives people something to put their attention on so they won't notice that chemicals are being pumped into our land, and then waste water with the chemicals spilled out to poison vegetation. And people.

You cyclists want bicycle lanes, and you want the support of The Moncton T&T? Nothing to it. Just suggest you want a consortium  of Irvings, McCains et al, to get a fifty percent share of the price  of all bicycles sold in New Brunswick, the fifty percent to be taken from our tax money, and the payments to be made tax-free. The next day, The Moncton Times will have a special edition dedicated to the need for bicycle lanes.

Other front page, stop-the-presses news is that the Casino will offer parking at only thirty dollars -for which they will return thirty dollars in bonus tickets to gamble with. (That gives you some day of what they think of your chances of winning.)

Also featured is  a hot news item that Arcade Fire ( an opening act for the U2 concert") is ready for Moncton. I'm so relieved. I was afraid they would be overwhelmed by the challenge of performing in such a sophisticated setting.

p. A2 has the story that international policial and economic leaders have just met for their annual convention at the exclusive Fox Harb'r resort in Nova Scotia. The event is closed to us common folk because it's a "serious" event. I mean, one year their speaker was Wayne Gretzky. So that just goes to show you this would be over our heads. This year, the speaker was the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was good enough to take time off from being investigated for lying to the British House of Commons about the reasons for invading Iraq - then using that lie to just justify mass murder and torture. In 2009, the main speaker was eminent thinker and torturer (also liar about Iraq) George W. Bush Jr.

Frank McKenna, who likes being useful to senior business and political leaders, says the resort is a beautiful spot and "everybody....tells us we're the luckiest people in the world to live here."

Very true, I'm sure. Too bad most of us who live here weren't invited - and couldn't afford it, anyway.

p, A 11 has another hot news item about the local casino. It has a new sign. Can't wait to park my car as close to the new sign as I can get. I ain't smart enough to understand a speech by Tony Blair. But I just love looking at new signs.

The only item worth reading in the whole paper is the op ed page where David Suzuki covers much the same ground that Norbert Cunningham did in his opinion piece of July 15.  It's about those who deny that climate change is happening.. This one is worth the extra read because it adds a dimension.

Suzuki takes a look at the "think  tanks' and bogus research projects that are funded by big businesses that don't want ua ro recognize the damage they are doing. These are giant corporations like Exxon and other oil companies, coal mining and coal using companies. These "research" and "think tank" outfits all have fancy names to mask their propaganda - like Fraser Instutute (a regular feature in The Moncton T&T), Greening Earth Society (funded by coal giants),  Centre for Science and Public Policy, Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (you remember that one. It often appears in the T&T. This is not only the one that poohs poohs the need for cleaner energy; it is also the one whose founding and maintenance has been generously supported by the Irvings.)

The interests of the "experts" at Atlantic Institute of Market Studies are very wide. These are, for example,  ones who have foisted the scientifically ridiculous standardized tests and rating of schools on us. AIMS is also linked to the venomous attacks on public schools that we have seen on the editorial page of the T&T. Such organizations in the US have been so successful in privatizing as much as possible of the public system, that education costs are now beyond the means of a majority of Americans; and the quality of American education has dropped to the lowest level in the industrialized world.

Don't buy today's paper. Go to a hamburger chain that has a stack of free papers. Read D7, the only page worth reading, and get a meal for only slightly more than what you would have had to pay for the paper. You'll also be helping to save trees.

Friday, July 15, 2011

July 14: Norbert Cunningham does honour to journalism

It's on the editorial page, at the bottom, an opinion column by Norbert Cunningham. It's about climate change; and it's the opinion piece of the year. No point in going through the formality of waiting for another four months. Give him the award now.

It's really about those who deny that climate change is happening. It's well written. It's angry for all the right reasons. It's forceful. It's clear.

It's also courageous. The deniers are organized and propagandized through big business which doesn't want to accept any regulation at all, or to lose a penny of profit by slowing climate chage - and certainly not for something that is pobably no going to happen before the current crop of business leaders dies. They really are so greedy and so indifferent to others that they care only about themselves.

People like that are not going to like seeing Cunninghams opinion in print - and such people are prominent and influential in New Brunswick. Thiscolumn, then, is something you must read, partly because it is so well done - and partly to pay honour to Mr. Cunningham's honesty and courage.

As for the rest of the paper, and with the added exception of Alec Bruce's column, it's mostly the usual
bland stuff.  Most of the real news of the day just isn't there.  In fact, most pages make me want to turn on the TV for the wit, hunour and insight of ts infomercials

Most of it is just bland drivel. Alas! I cannot be so kid to the editorial that takes a minor ncident, and uses it to launch a false and even lying blame on the public education system. This is an old game for the T&T. They do it because neo-conservatives in the US (and more than a few in Canada and New Brunswick) are determined to destroy our public schools. That's why they mounted a push for the scientifically absurd and damaging practice of  standardized testing and school ranking.

(University faculties of education don't dare say a word to defend the schools because they know who owns the province - and the universities.)

The goal is to shovel tax money out of the education system and into pockets that are already full from years of  ripping us off. They don't care about our children. They don't care how this harms them. If they could grind up all the children of the province and stuff them into sausage skins for sale at the supermarkets they own, they'd do it.

The game, for now, to discredit the school system. That's what this editorial is all about. It takes a foolish decision by a principal, and uses that as an excuse to revive a lie it spread a years ago when the Distrcit Education Council decided it was necessary to close Moncton High School for safety reasons.

On that occasion,the Times and Tribune immedately charged the District Education Council and the Superintendant with being at fault for ignoring school maintenance. That was a lie. And the editorial writer knew it was a lie when he wrote it. It's still a lie - and whoever wrote this unethical and conpemptible editorial knows that, too.

Maintenance could not be kept up - not because of local officials, but because the government would not vote the money for adequate mainentance. It has not voted enough mondy for years. The superintendentand the Discrict Education Council have no control over that.  The editorial writer knew that, too. 

This is lying, and lying in the column that is supposed more than any other to represent the quality of the newspaper. (And I guess it does. With some thrity years of experience in journalism in Canada, the US and China, I can say that The Moncton Times &Transcript as well as the whole Bunswick Media chain stand out as the most unethical, dishonest, and incompetent news media I have seen.)

When the school principal denied news media the right to know the names of graduating students, he did something foolish. It wasn't criminal. It in no way hurt education. It was just foolish. I've done foolish things. (I read the T&T every day.) You've done foolish things. I don't defend the principal. I have met him, and feel no need think highly of him)  But this was just a foolishness that hurt nobody,

Why didn't the Superintendent and the Chair of the DEC not publicly reprimand the principal? Because they are, unlike the twits and hacks and propgandists who write T&T editorials, intelligent and capable people. They know that a public reprimand for this reason would simmply damage morale in the public school system even worse than The Moncton Times  and AIMS already have..

Of course, the person who wrote that editorial wants to damage morale, publicly humiliate and destroy the public education system to make some you-know-whos even richer. That's what it's really all about.

These are our children who are being attacked. These are our schools that are being abused for the sake of our private profit. These are our newspapers propagandizing us to do damage to our schools and our children. If the people of this province have any integrity at all, it's time to tell Brunswick Media and its bosses to FO. (French translation - VF).

But I don't want to end on that sour note. I want to end with a thank you to Norbert Cunningham for a column that was a pleasure to read and remember.

Though I've belted you and flayed you,
By the living God that made you,
You're a better man than I am, Cunningham.

(apologies to Rudyard Kipling)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

July 14: The journalistic art of hiding a story

story - Sackville Town Council wants a moratorium. on fracking.
problem - The Moncton T&T does not want to publicize news that is critical of fracking. But Sackville is a sizable town, and one with a university.

step one - make the story as short and uninformative as possible. (this one is kept to six, brief paragraphs - with over half of the story devoted to other topics.)
Step 2. Hide it in the paper. Do not put it in section A. (People read that section.) Save section A for important stories like the one on A11 that is really a free ad for the Casino.
Step 3. To hide it, put in on C 11 where it is entirely lost among ads. (Do not put it on the first or last page of a section. People notice thost pages, if only by accident.)
That's how  you hide a story.

As the world tumbles deeper into an economic crisis, as NB faces serious damage health risks from fracking, as Canadians are bombing Libya for reasons that are unclear, as war and poverty and starvation are spreading, the editorial is about the moose draw.

There is an excellent column by Alec Bruce on the global economic crisis. This is a crisis that Canada cannot escape. No country in the world can.

And it wasn't caused by terrorists or welfare spending or climate change or unions or even by a faulty moose draw in New Brunswick. It was caused by the greedy and irresponsible behaviour of leading capitalists all over the world - who then demanded to be bailed out by us so they could then hand each other billions of dollars in bonuses for their good work.

There's a special lesson here for New Brunswick. Our premier has recently handed over what is normally a government job - the planning of our economic future - to the leading capitalists of the province. These are the same breed who caused the worst economic crisis we have even seen. They are also the same ones who think this is a great time to borrow a hundred million to build a hockey rink. Does that make you confident that the economic future of New Brunswick is in good hands?

Linked to this question is another excellent opinon column by Jody Dallaire. She talks about domestic servants - cleaners, cooks, nannies, etc. - a dirtier business even than she shows it to be. They  have no legal protection whatever concerning hours of work,  minimum wage (or any wage at all), conditions of work....  They are the most helpless and vulnerable workers - mostly women, many immigrants, many lured into jobs by criminals who exploit them as prostitutes. The lucky ones are imported by wealthier families who then get dirt-cheap labour and long hours out of them.

This is a racket that has been going on for centuries. A colleague of mine who specialized in historical statistics studied this subject in some depth. He found that female domestic workers, many of them really children, were commonly raped by males in the employer's family. There was no recourse. If they complained, they were fired with no reference - and therefore unable to find any work but walking the streets for a pimp. If they got pregnant, they were fired for immorality. It still goes on.

New Brunswick is the worst province in Canada for its refusal to protect domestic workers.

The International Labor Organization has called for laws to offer basic protection for domestic workers. Note that the call somes from a Labor orgatinzation, not from Exxon or Canada Trust or Walmart.

It was also not Ganong or McCain's or Irving Industries that fought for minimum wage, universal pensions, or medicare. On the contrary, these corporations are of the same breed that brought us the economic crisis. But these are the people that the Alward government has decided are the ideal ones to plan our economic future.

And the editorial staff of The Moncton Times&Transcript agrees. There are many kinds of pimps in this world.

Oh, boy. Maybe our corporate leaders will get right down to business and fix up our biggest problems. How do we improve the moose draw, and get rid of the horror of bicycle lanes?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 13: the bigger story

The Moncton Times&Tribune has its usual load of free ads and trivia in today's paper. So let's look at the bigger picture it doesn't mention..

New Brunswickers have always been ripped off by business barons working with politicians who were corrupt or stupid or lying. This goes back to colonial days when those with timber rights were almost the only employers, a power they used to deny any challenge to their rule, to make themsleves rich, and to coerce the locals to vote for them as political representatives.

That power of coercion has now been extended even to the control of news by the journalistic hookers of Brunswick Media. But the real turning point began in World War II.

In the previous war, the world had learned that a war could not be fought on a peacetime economy. It required massive government intervention and control to regulate business, avoid inflation, insure efficiency and supplies. and avoid crushing debt.

Government controls worked. In fact, they worked so well that demand to continue them resulted in the CCF (now the NDP) leading opinion polls during the war. The result was that governments, both Liberal and Conservative, were forced to make some gestures at governmeent intervention - like adequate pensions, medicare, child allowances - to keep the CCF at bay.

Big business was not pleased. With the help of "think tank" proganda agencies like the Fraser Institute and AIMS, and with the help of servile journalists like those at Brunswick Media, They launched a campaign to discredit government, a campaign that continues to this day.

One "soft" approach is the public private partnership, a device pioneered ini New Brunswick by Mr. McKenna - and for which he seems to  have been well rewarded. This sort of deal gives private business profits out of our tax money. The US has done similar things with prisons (as I suspect Harper will, too.) Our news media have not bothered to report that private prisons are not more effective. In fact, they cost more than public ones to operate, and they seem to produce worse results.

The long term intention is to lower taxes for the rich on the absurd notion this will create jobs for all, to relieve the wealthy and corporations of paying taxes (a surprising number of highly profitable corporations pay no taxes at all), to reduce and/or privatize social services and education, to get rid of regulation. amd to make corporate bosses the absolute rulers that the old timber barons were.

Another device is to outsource work to cheap labour countries. that's why your Levis probably come from Haiti; and much of your Ford and Chev comes from China. That's why the US is suffering massive unemployment and depression levels of poverty even as American corporations make record profits.

Similarly, corporations work to create their own free trade, public private partnership areas like the Atlantica region made up of the Atlantic provinces, New England and Quebec. One thing they're looking for in this region is control of a basic necessity - energy. They're looking for control without regulation, without taxes - except on you, to subsidize cheap energy rates for themselves.

If this will damage the region in the long run, if it will cause suffering, if it will lead to the catastrophic rise in poverty - as it has in the US - is something they couldn't care less about. Levis and Fruit of the Loom and Chiquita banana don't give a damn that Haitians are living in destitution to produce their products. Why should we think they give a damn about New Brusnwickers?

If New Brunswickers descend into deep poverty - great. That makes them a cheap source of labour.

That's why The Moncton Times has rarely mentioned fracking. That's why it never even told us it was going on for ten years. That's why the government didn't tell us. That's why there were no regulations on fracking until very recently. That's why we still haven't been told why corporate bosses of New Brunswick seem to be in favour of a foreign  company going after an energy source in NB. Their's a much bigger deal going on here. And we're going to be the losers. We'll. get the cheap jobs and the damage. We'll be, as we long have been, the Haiti of Canada.

We're at a very dangerous point. Corporate greed, indifference and arrogance are running wild. We are now committed to years of war to enrich big business. The wars have destroyed the American economy There is nothing the American people can get back to make up for the tremendous cost of these wars.

If we are ruined, the bosses don'tcare. They can invest their money someplace else.

There's another threat in this. Democracy itself will not survive what is happening. It was amazing that Mr. Irving could make two such stunningly arrogant statements late in 2010 - that he was in coalition with the government, and that he and his friends would plan the economic future of  New Brtunswick..

Those statements were a direct attack on democracy. How could those hyenas at the Times&Transcript have been so silent on such announcements? These were direct attaclks on democracy, itself. (Meanwhile, Alward, Moncton City Council, and The Moncton Times babbled about "listening to the people".)

New Brunswick, like Canada, is close to a tipping point. (The US has already passed it.)

Fracking is not just an incident. It is part of a much larger plan - and related to the one to sell NB Energy. If this goes on, we and our children and our children's children will suffer for it. We will destroy all the social progress it took us sixty years to create. Dcmocacy, in any meaningful form, will not survive it.

But, boy. Aren't we mad as hell about those bicycle lanes! And so-o-o-o-o excited about U-2 that we won't even notice our pockets being picked.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July 12: Al Quaeda and bicycle lanes in New Brunswick

Yesterday, General Petraeus of Afghanistan fame announced that he has Alquaeda on the run in Afghanistan. That contrasts strangely with CIA public statements  (Financial Times of London) that rhere are only 50 to 75 Al Quaeda "type" fighers in Afghanistan. and their number has always been insignificant..

In a similar statement reported yesterday,an American cabinet minister says the US invaded Iraq because of its terrorist attack on 9/11. In fact, it has long ago been admitted by US officials that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

But American foreign policy desperately needs people to believe in a massive Al Quaeda, with members hiding under every bed in the country. Al Quaeda is its excuse for ten years of war, with many more years to come, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya - and then Iran and Pakistan- - with more in between.

The regular chanting of Al Quaeda in political speeches keeps the US in a fit of hysteria, with all eyes on Al Quaeda, like a baby watching watching an old time grandpa swinging his watch. They ignore the reality of what they are doing to focus on the terror that most of those who have been killed had noting to do with. Indeed, the wars themselves have nothing to do with terror.

Obama uses terror to keep people away from thinking about the real issues. The bosses of New Brunswick and their faithful lackeys in Brunswick Media have bicycle lanes.

Are there dangers in fracking for natural gas? Are poisonous chemicals  used? Are there scientific studies pointing to these dangers? Have their been problems? Have France and Quebec banned it? Are our new regulations adequate? Why did we have no regulations at all for over ten years?

Hey! Everybody! Look at the terrible threat of bicycle lanes.. Protest. Complain to City Council. Bicycle lanes will destroy the world as we know it. That's why bicycle lanes are a front page story about bicycle lanes and massive citizen protest. Why, one councillor alone reports getting fifteen phone calls.

And, the paper breathlessly reports, come councillors get more e mails than others. Well..that certainly is a shocker and proves.....something. Y'think?

As for the cyclist who has been hit three times by cars on roads with no bicycle lanes, why, that just proves cyclists need more training. Case solved. (This reminds me of the time the leader of the PQ ran down and killed a man late at night. The Montreal police gave an alcohol test to the vicitim, but not to the party leader.)

We can't waste  time reporting on fracking and poison chemicals and threats to environement and people. We have a bicycle lane problem goin' on.

Meanwhile, if you're concerned about the real world and the impact of fracking, you'll have to check out the letters to the editor.

The only bigger front page story is a news item that is really no news at all. It's only purpose is to whip up sales for the U2 concert.

The editorial begins as a welcome to the Assembly of First Nations now taking place in Moncton. Then it slides into either ignorance or trivializing of the problems faced by native peoples. In the final paragraph, it shows what it really cares about - the money Moncton can make out of such events.

This is balanced by a superb column by Alec Bruce on voting patterns; and a very informative one on retirement pensions by Robert Brown of EvidenceNetwork.

The op ed page has the usual, trivial column by a staff writer.

Fortunately, it also has an excellent column by Gwynn Dyer on the News of the World, a paper that specializes in gutter journalism that many people find interesting - as compared to the gutter and manipulative  journalism that is boring  in  The Moncton Times&Tribune.

Monday, July 11, 2011

July 11: A new record in in unethical and lying eidtorializing.

At first, my focus was on the sleaziness of  today's The Moncton Times and Transcript. The front page and biggest story of the day was a rock concert in Monctreal. Why is a Montreal rock concert such big news? Well, because it was by U-2, the group that is coming to Moncton in just two weeks. This isn't news. This is another Moncton T&T feature - a free ad.

Little else is worth reading until the editorial.

But, before that, the little else is worth a read. It's an opinion piece on the editorial page on reactng - but not over reacting to abuse of police power. Essentially, the argument is that the law should be enforced against policemen who break the law - as some did at the G20. But a criticism of those poliice who break or abuse the law should not be treated as a condemnation of all police, any more that a person who drives drunk should be a condemnation of all drivers.

Alas! The articles leave out an important point. Our political leaders have to generate trust - which can be done only by serious investigation of charges of wrong doing by police, and not just shovelling them under the rug. When that happens, you get a we versus them attitude on both sides.

This is going to be a serious challenge to Canada over the next few years as we move toward the American model of a police state, with police and intelligence having warrant-free permission to bug telephones, computer sites, and to investigate all sorts of dangerous people - like those who disagree with government policy.In the US raids and harrassment are common experience for anyone who opposes the Bush-Obama enthusiasm for invading.

Then there's the editorial. It's an attack on those who are opposed to "fracking" for shale gas in New Brunswick. The writer is at the top of T&T form for slandering, smearing, ignorance and lying.
The opponents to shale gas are, it says. spouting dubious "facts", and are driven by ideology.

(What ideology, mr. or ms. eidtorial writer? Do you know what the word ideology means, you twit?)

There should, according to the editorial, be reasonable discussion and debate. Quite so.

Now, explain to us how this reasonable discussion and debate occurs when, for ten years, neither the government nor the Brunswick Media have even told us that fracking was going on in the province. When they finally did break the news (under pressure), they told us very little, and that little consistently ignored the dangers.

Now, we are told, we have regulations. So everything is okay. Sure.
But Brunswick news has never told us exactly what those regulations are. Nor has it shown how (or if) they eliminate risk.

Moreover, we are told to trust political and news media leadership that for ten years lied to us by omission - and had allowed fracking to go on for all that time with no regulations at all. Nothing.

The lies are more outright towards the end. We are told the system has worked for years with no problems. No, it hasn't.

There have been lawsuits (successful) in the US concerning fracking damage. Many American banks are refusing to mortgate properties on or near fracking sites. France has banned fracking. Quebec has proclaimed a moratorium. Studies coming out of the  universities are showing severe environmental damage. None of this has even been mentioned in the lying Times&Transcript.

The next sentence says some juriscditions have had serious problems. Yes. That's what it says just after it says there are no problems.
But these problems, it goes on, just prove the need for strong regulations. There is much wrong with that  half-wit logic.
1. Were there strong regulations in place in the areas that had problems?
2. Were they enforced?.
3. How come our government had no regulations for ten years? How come the T&T never thought this worth mentioning? Why should we trust such a government and such a newspaper now to support serious regulations?
4. How does the editorial writer know that the new regulations will minimize risks, when scientific studies say we don't even know all the risks?
5. What stake does the master of of our bull terrier T&T have in this venture. After all, it is scarcely believable that this venture would be going ahead and the T&T would be such a vigorous liar for it if a provincial Mr. Big did not have a major stake in it.

As for the future development of the province depending on this project, forget it. Resource extraction outfits don't come here to bring prosperity. They come to rip off all they can get. Nor do they give a damn about what they do to the province. They don't have to live here. They're rich. There's a long history to prove that. It includes Congo, Haiti, Guatemala, much of the Caribbean Sea - sinkholes of poverty and despair whose misery has made a few outsiders extremely wealthy.(Guess which of those countries ae being destroyed by Canadian mining companies. Guess where your Levis and Fruit of the Loom and Chiquita bananas come from - at salaries of three dollars a day).

New Brunswick is not poor because it has too few exploiters. It's poor because it has too many. It's not poor because its governments are too tough on big business. Its poor because they are lapdogs for exploiters.

Think of the province's resources as the fruit of a banana. You are part of the peel. Mr. Big picks up the banana, gulps it down...... and the peel---well, you get the picture.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

July 9: ...the meaning of blah....

Today's Times and Transcript is so short on anything that says anythinig at all about anything that I won't even attempt to comment on most of it. So -just a few things about the editorial and op ed pages - and then onto something the paper should have discussed, but didn't.

David Suzuki's column on wind power to generate electricity is worth a read.

The piece at the top of the op ed page, always by a staffer, is not worth a read. As always, the column is trivial, this time centring on the observation that vactions are nice - something we all fitured out a long time ago. A column like this can be done by a skilled writer with a gift for story-telling. I have seen nobody of such quality on the staff of The Moncton T&T.

Then there's the column by (Bill) Beliveau. Enough, Bill. we already know you're a Liberal. He addresses the questions of whether Liberal ideas are still relevant in modern Canada.

This is treating us like children. There is no such thing as a set of Liberal ideas. There once was. Until the 1890s, the Liberal Party was the party in favour of free trade. The Conservatives were the party of high tariff because big business then wanted a high tariff to protect it from competition. The Liberals changed their position under Laurier to copy the Conservatives so they could win an election.

Almost a centuy later. Canadian big business changed its mind because it could then do better under free trade. So the Conservatives changed their "principles"; and soon after the Liberals changed theirs again.

Principles, values, and morals are words that refer to basic beliefs that a party may represent. Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have shown much consistency in principles, values or morals The only thing that concerns either of them is getting elected.

Exceptions were personal ones. Conservative prime minister R.Bennett was late in getting to it, but did in the end show his values of compassion and concern for others. The Liberal Lester Pearson, showed principles in terms of foreign policy. That's pretty well the whole list.

And what principles, morals and values does Mr. Belliveau see as being essential to the Liberal Party begin with getting a leader who can generate the excitement of Will and Kate. To that he adds tactical items like getting Quebec back.

What the hell does that have to do with principiles, morals and values? Nothing. This is pure show biz, and old style political wheeling/dealing.

I suggest that Mr. Belliveau read about the lives of such people as J.S.Woodworth, Tommy Douglas, Conservative R.B.Bennett and former Liberal cabinet minister Warren Allmand to find out what the words principle, values and morals mean - and and how they can be applied to politics.

Finally, the T&T has often praised the way Moncton City Council is planning for our future - and  how the building of a hundred million dollar hockey rink is going to build that future. That's bunk. There is no plane. The location for the new Moncton High proves that.

Building schools in an as yet undeveloped suburb (and the building of the suburb, too) was a creation of the late 1940s, when gas was cheap and salaries rising so more people could buy cars. Those same factors created the shoppping mall with the first Canadian one built in 1949 in the Montreal suburb of St. -Laurent.

To built a new high school in Royal Oaks would have seemed a good idea in 1949. But that world is just about gone.

Cheap gas is never coming back. Nor can we go on with the enormous cost of sewers and water pipes and streets and roads to single houses, each taking up a larget space with its back yard and lawn.

Planning the future means seeing what it will be like in ten or twenty years. (Let alone the wild guesses at fifty years.)  And what it will be like probably means we need much denser population areas within or convenient to downtown; amd we will need immensely more efficient (and not gas-propelled ) mass transportation. We will need at least convenience shopping  within walkiing distance.
The future almost certainly lies in apartments and condos - but designed with shopping areas at ground level, and with access for each unit to some outdoor space, rather like the Azriela design at Expo 67.

At best, the plan for the New Moncton High is one for the 1940s. For the future, thinking of the realities of energy, movement, and cost, Moncton City Council has no plan for the future - or even any recognition of what the future is likely to be.

The "plan",  as is true of almost everyhing political  in the province, is just something to be refered to vaguely when council wants to approve some expensive idiocy coming from somebody who has lots of  money, and who wants to get even more from taxpayers.

The year is 2020. Gas is $15 dollars a litre. A high school will bus all of its students to school every day?  If children stay for after school activities, their parents will have to pick them up by car? And we're going to develop downtown by taking away a major institution of it? Right.

If city council did have a plan - and if it wants to borrow a hundred million - it would make far more sense to experiment with some innovative and efficent housing downtown, to bjild a high school within walking distance of that housing. With adequate population in walking distance, you will get businesses locating downtown, and revive the area. The hundred million would also cover a restructuring of mass transit.

With a hockey rink, all we'll get is a tax bill for a hundred million (double that with interest), and an underused facility surrounded by urban decay.

Friday, July 8, 2011

July 8: Bicycle lanes; and the curious case of the Afghan War

The big front page story again is bike lanes. Ditto for the editorial. That's almost a solid week of bike lanes. We haven't seen such a concentrated campaign since the Brunswick Media's vilification of public schools last year.

Yesterday, I came acroos a free copy of another paper of the Brunswick News family  In The Fredericton Gleaner, quelle  Quellecl surprise - bicycle lanes are the big issue , too.

It's an old, news media game.

One of the biggest issues facing New Brunswick is fracking. But we don't want people talking about that. Do we? No. So let's get them all excited about something else, something that nobody of power and influence and wealth gives a damn about. Stir up a protest about bicycle lanes.

For good measure, add gobs of gush about The duke and the duchess; and, well, people will forget all about fracking.

It's an old, old newspaper game.

There's a related game being played about our soldiers coming back from Afghanistan.  We were fighting a war, t here. You fight a war only when the cause is urgent, when we mist win to end a threat to Canada. That is an important moral principle. It is also a principle that we heloped to lay down in international law. At Nuremburg, we hanged people for breaking that law.

This is a war that has cost us 157 dead,  and with no count on the seriously, often permanently, damaged both physically and mentally.

So, if the war is all that urgent to our safety, why are we leaving it?

We fought a war in 1939, and for very good reason. We were in danger. Can you imagine the reaction if we had decided to pull out and go home in, say, 1943?

I never thought our intervention in  Afghanistan was justified, not under any moral or international law. The pullout seems to confirm that. If the war was urgent for Canadian safety, why are we pulling out at a time when the war is being lost, when other NATO countries are pulling out, and Obama is desperately looking for a way out "with honour"?  And why is the American government negotiating a deal with the Taliban?

The T&T doesn't raise these questions. It simply reports we built some schools. For this we lost 157 lives and spent billions of dollars? It also notes an Afghanistan official for praising the Canadian money (ours) used t to b uild the schools. "We spent the money wisely," he said. (The T&T story does not mention that Aghanistan is rated the most corrupt country in the world.)

Oh, the story aslo carries the usual drivel about how well the war is going. It would be hard to find an intelligence agency or military expert in the whole world would agree with that.

Contrary to most reporting across North America, we never had a legitimate reason to invade Afghanistan - and the situation there now  has unpleasant reminders of the last period of the Vietnam War. This is the duplicate of the time the US declared the war had been won, and got out.

Anyway, Canada can now concentrate on killing civilians in Libya, the country which is such a severe threat to Canada.

We also have to help out our good friend, Obama.  Americans, fed up with wars, are losing interest in volunteering to fight them ; but_ any return to the draft would be political suicide. Mercenaries are too expensive to be the whole answer to the lack of volunteers. The Bushes and Obamas need somebody to fight their wars, somebody who will actually pay for the honour. Most NATO countries have more brains than to become sucked into fighting American wars. Enter Canada - the most failthful servant, the most willing to sacrifice their young people at the demand of---who?

Gee. I guess that takes us to the question of who finances the Liberals and the Conservtives.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

July 7:Shale gas - and missing the point.

We all have responsabilities as citizens. Some, those with power and influence, those who are supposed to keep us informed, and those we choose to govern us have more responsibility than most. And every one of them has consistently betrayed us on the question of shale gas. That is the real issue in the whole debate about shale gas..

The exploration for shale gas deposits in New Brunswick has been going on for over ten years.

1. Did the news media tell us what was going on?

2. Did the government inform us, or even discuss retulations? Did it carry out environmental studies? Did it consult the available research?

3. Did business leaders inform us? (It wouldn't be hard. After all, they own a good deal of othe news media, not to mention the political parties.)

4. And where were all the experts in the universities?

For ten years the search went on with seismic testing. Is it possible that for ten years all these "leaders" did not know the search was gong on? That fracking was in use? That they didn't know that it is banned in some areas - including Quebec next door to us?

No. It is not possible they didn't know. Indeed, the conservative opposition raised the issue late in the Shawn Graham government. So why wasn't it an election issue? And if the Conservatives were aware of the problem, whyd didn't they enact regulations immediately on coming to power? Why did they waste time with those farcicial visits of Mr. Alward listening to people. What could they tell him? Most of us had never heard of fracking. Why did Alward wait until the public demonstrations to draw up a very hurried list of regulations?

And why should we believe that the very people who lied to us and kept us in the dark have now come up with regulations that are adequate? And how can we believe they will enforce them?

That is the real issue. The people who have power and influence in this province don't give a damn about our health and safety now, or about the health and safety of our families for generations to come.

The other issues are that New Brunswickers are so accustomed to being lied to, cheated, and generally ignored - and they're so fearful of the power structure in this province - that the big public protest is against bicycle lanes. Of course. That's a safe one to protest. Business leaders don't ride bicycles to work. The only people who use bicycle lanes are cyclists. And they have no power. So all the righteous of Moncton take out their anger on cyclists.

In the same way, it's safer and easier for some Christians to hunt down gays and point righteous fingers at them, than it is to discuss whether endangering, bullying and lying to us are Christian activities.

In practice, New Brunswick has no democracy. To have a democracy, you need the truth; and we have over the years been betrayed and even bullied by those who should be to tell us the truth. To have democracy, you need a population whose thinking does not revolve simply around the price of beer and the horror of bicycle lanes. To have democracy, you need a population that will not allow itself to be bullied and cheated.

Bethany Thorme-Dykstra gets big play in the T&T, which gives the impression that her organization is satisfied our politicians have acted properly. (We will pass lightly over the obvious fact that this must mean they acted impoperly for ten years. So, why, then, should we trust  her judgement when she says they can now be trusted.)

And, she says, us cruel citizens are vicitmizing those nice multi-billionaires who want to develop shale gas. Isn't it terrible we won't let them put poison chemicals in our drinking water? Why are people always picking on helpless billionaires? So what is ms. Thorne-Dykstra, and what is she all about?

Have you ever heard the story of the Trojan horse?

The editorial, on the same subject, is the usual preachy and craven kissup for the boss.

Shale gas is an important issue. There is substantial evidence that extracting it is damaging to both health and the environment.

The bigger issue behind it is the collapse of any, real democracy in New Brunswick. It's happening because some people want it to happen. And it's happening because we let it happen.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

July 6: Lots of ads.

It was over 60 years ago that the CCF party (now the NDP) won a landslide victory to form the government of Saskatchewan, a province with then the second-highest debt in Canada. Worse, its heavily rural population meant that it gained little from the industrial properity of the rest of the country.

Not a single daily newspaper in the province supported the CCF. Indeed, they actively campaigned against it.

The government, mostly under Tommy Douglas for a generation, produced a surplus every year to pay down the debt. It rationalized electrical energy supplies to transform rural life, and to pruduce a profit. At the same time, it introduced social services like medicare and adequate pensions. Indeed, much of our modern social legislation across Canada arose from the pressure put on other parties by the Saskatchewan example.

That CCF government in Saskatchewar was arguably the outstanding provincial government for economic responsibility and social advance n Canadian history. And never, in all those years, did a single daily newspaper support it.

In North America, at least, newspapers do not exist to inform us about the news. They exist to t o sell  ads (thus the free "news" stories about reliable advertisers); to distribute the owners' propaganda, and to keep people in the dark. In this, they are ably assisted by private radio and television - and for much the same reasons -advertising and wealthy ownership.

In this respect, The Moncton Times&Transcript is not different in purpose from any other North American daily. It's special only in its degree of sleaze and flimsiness. So be suspicious.

Be suspicious when you see the T&T exulting in not one but two editorials for the new Moncton High School to be built on land where it will just happen to benefit a developer - who will also buy and fix up the old school, Any reasoning for that location is still pretty murky.

Then there's the pitch  that converting the old school into condos will move more people downtown, a plus for the preservtion of downtown. Really? Then why do we want to spend a hundred million on a hockey rink? If hockey rinks encourage people to move into the area, then the old rink would be surrounded by condos instead of buttercups.

This whole story leaves the impression that council has not the slightest idea of how to plan development and, in any case, will do whatever it is told to do.

It also shows the T&Ts "flexibility". Just monhs ago, it was blaming the DEC for district 2 for the condition of the old high school. In fact, all the local news media were buying into a hate compaign against the public schools in general. It was obvious at the time that all were either lying or gullible. Now, we all know that the fault lay in irresonposible provincial governments. But we don't hear anything about that.

The NewsToday section features a picture of Willy and Katie with their mouths open. Undoubtedly a collectors' item.

The other big news is that many Canadian didn't bother to vote in the last federal election. Wow! Stop the presses! But for those who find this news, surely the reasons are obvious. How ofren in this country (and this province) have you heard a party campaigning on any clear programme? All the Conservatives had going for them in the last provincial election was thegeneral  dislike for the Liberals. they had not programme during the campaign, and don't seem to have developed any since.

The news media, for the most part, made no attempt to point this out. They just told us to vote for whoever their owners watned to see in power.

Today, the editorial page has two, good columns. One, by Alec Bruce, gives an example of a failure of our provincial government to plan. The other is in intriguing commeentary on health care, on how it may not the the pending disaster the news medea will be.

Of course, the news media have a stake in getting rid of medicare. Most of their owners would like to go back to the good old days when sickness ment money in the bank for private health companies.

Eric Lewis, a staff writer, contributes the usual staff writer's pious reflections on how successful our troops have been in Afghanistan.

How can we judge how successful we have been in Afghanistan where we still haven't been told why we went in t he first place?  How do we claim success when top authorities (of whom the staff writer has probably never heard) say the war is lost?

How many people have we killed? Why? How many dead people are made up for by building a school or a road?  Why did Canadian die? To establish a democracy? We haven't. And the government we have put in power is rated the most currupt in the world. To get revenge for 9/11?  Wasn't that why the US and Britain killed over a million civilians in Iraq? To get revenge on the Taliban? There is no evidence that the Taliban knew anything about 9/11. Nor is it likely they would have been informed. In fact, 9/11 seems to have been carried out by Saudi Arabians living in Europe. So why ae we now killiing people in Afghanistan? And, if the Taliban are evil, why is the US now carrying out talks with Taliban leaders? (Oops. sorry. Don't the news experts at the T&T know about that?) Why did most of NATO refuse to play any significant role in this war? Why are most of them bailing out now? Why are American commentators talking openly about "getting out with honour"?

Mr.Lewis concludes with T&T piety, "We should all make more of an effort to be aware of the influence our countrymen and women are having around the world."

Yes, we certainly should. But it's hard when we can't get it from our own news media. Nor does it help to be fed the pap in The Moncton Times&Trasncript.

Here's a hint, Eric,. Show your news editor where Libya is on the map,and ask him to explain why we are there. Ask him, too, what international law and agreements we  have signed have to say about our killing  Libyans (or Afghanis).