Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 31: fast-breaking news

The stories come so fast, it's hard to keep up. A former chief of British intelligence has testified that Tony Blair lied to the British parliament about the need to got to war with Iraq. Iraq posed no threat to Britian; and Blair knew it. (It follows, then, that Bush knew as well.

An aide to former vice-president Dick Cheney has charged his  former boss with war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. (You remember Cheney. He was one of those who helped to hang Saddam Hussein for using poison gas the US had supplied to him.)

The US Treasury has released a report that the bank bailouts came much earlier than we thought, and have been many times higher than we were told.

It's lucky thing Irene missed Haiti. Hundreds of thousands in that unhappy land having been living in tents ever since their ramshackle homes were destroyed. They have to live in tents because Obama has never delivered a penny of the aid he promised.

Thousands in Somalia are dying of starvation. But we are too busy bombing other thousands in Libya to help them.

There are many breaking stories like this. But you won't find them in the Moncton Times. There, the big news for today is that is  another motorcycle rally is coming to Moncton. Whoo-ee! The hotels will be filled. God's in His heaven, and all's right with the world.

And we're going to try for a CFL team, I think yes, this is just what Moncton needs. At a time when our schools can't afford proper teaching conditions for our children, when our snow removal is worse that most villages, when the world is sitting at the edge of an economic collapse, what this city needs most of all is a CFL team. The whole world is watching us.

Oh, one piece of news sneaked in. (Somebody will get fired tor that.) The rebel leader (whom the T&T has not told us is a CIA agent and has been for 20 years) has announced a death toll in Libya is so far over 70,000. It's safe bet that's is really over twice that, with cvilians almost certainly in the majority.. We have, remember, dropped tens of thousands tons of bombs as part of our humanitarian aid.

The New Brunswick papers are not the only ones to ignore what's happening. They're just the worst.

But, wow, a motorcycle rally? As Archie the cockroach wrote:

What the hell.
Toujours gai.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

a correction, and a reminder

The first daytime current events meeting of the season will be at the Moncton Library at 2 pm this Thursday, Sept. 1.

The first evening group will meet on Tuesday, Sept. 6, also at the Moncton Library.

Feel free to raise topics of interest to you. It will useful to come with a copy of the day's Moncton Times&Transcript.

August 30: Has the T&T (accidentally told the truth?

There's a most unlikely column on shale gas by a most unlikely writer hidden is a most unlikely section of the paper. It's in the sport section,  C2. The writer, far from being an authority on shale gas, is a writer on the outdoors - you know, the place where all the sports fans go to watch baseball on TV.

It's a pretty waffly article, not taking much of a firm line on anything. He even says he believes the Alward government was only trying to do what was best for the province. (If they were, they were awfully shy about letting us in on the good news.) But in this otherwise soggy story is a stick of dunamite.

Exploration for shale gas is expensive. Major corporations do not take unnecessary risks. Before they began exploration, they would have drawn up legally binding agreements signed by the government, and guaranteeing them the right to drill. Such an agreement would almost certainly have contained the regulations, pretty slim ones, controlling their drilling.  Such agreements must have been signed by both Graham and Alward. Such agreements would also, almost certainly, have laid down generous terms for company profits.

Now, it this were wonderfu news. wouldn't yuu have expected the Graham and  Alward governments to shout it from the rooftops? But they didn't, did they?

If there are such agremments, we have been placed in one hell of a mess by a government that can only be called incompetent, supine and lying. And we've been betrayed by the province's newspapers not for the first time.

Consider it. Even if the Alward government were to find some integrity, brains and courage under a rock somewhere; even if it were to demand a moratorium on fracking for health reasons, it is likely the shale gas companies, on the basis of signed agreements, could sue us for billions. How could a government do something so stupid? How could it fail to tell us what it has done?

For openers, we have to demand publication of what has been signed. These are documents that commit us. We have a right to know what is in them. Are we in danger of accepting serious damage? Are we in danger of a crushing debt from lawsuits if we don't?

Exactly what have these irresonpsible louts in government done?

Of course, SWN is coming back in a year. It has a deal. In the run-up to that return, expect a heavy campaign against protesters, characterizing them as thugs. Expect heavy security when SWN comes back. These can be  had on reasonable terms from the same companies that rent out mercenaries.

This latter part of the campaign also appears in today's paper. Check the op ed page. There's a column there by a hack for the shale gas industry.  Protesters are a "few loud voices". They give the whole Maritimes a "black eye". There have been "assaults" on workers. That word has quite a range of meanings. Were workers savagely beaten? We any killed or crippled? Or it could mean standing in the way. But wouldn't using the word "assault" be inflammatory in the latter case?

You bet. And inflmmatory is what this article is about. She laments the idea that the message to the world is that we are thieves, thugs, and vandals. If she doesn't wnat the world to think in those bizzarely extravagant terms of what actually happened, why does she write it for public print?

The writer, Barbara Pike, writes in a style that will promote divisions, hatred, fears. She probably expects that will make us go into hiding. And if we don't, it will be used to justify force.

And, rather a big question. Where is the Irving family in all this? Do they have no interest in the energy future of New Brunswick? Isn't Mr. Irving the man who named himself a member of the goveronment, and who set up a band of his cronies to plan the economic future of New Brunswick? Isn't he the owner of the newspapers that have been pimping for the shale gas industry?

Where does he fit into all this? What's his cut?

Make no mistake. New Brunswick has been placed in a very dangerous position by economic schemers, and by the politicians they own. There is every sign that we are being bullied, robbed and, quite possibly, physically threatened.. And if we protest, we will be told we are disorderly, and force will be used against us.

New Brunswick has long been a province notable for the arrogance and greed of its business leaders, and for its contemptible politicians.

Take all that as a forecast for the coming year.

Monday, August 29, 2011

August 29: Bit Wow!

Today, The Moncton Times is worth the price - and more. No, it's not the great ads or the Hack-written "Special Reports". It isn't the news stories - though ti was pleasant ot see decent coverage of Layton's funeral after those shameful columns on Saturday by Belliveau and Mazerolle. It isn't even the whole page on the Codiac Concert Band to be playing Tuesday evening in Victoria Park (though I have warm, childhood memories of summer band concerts in the park in Montreal with the bands of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Salvation's a wonderful tradition. I can barely wait to go, and take my children.)

What makes the paper worth the price is one column. Just one. But it's dynamite.

On the editorial page, one, short column by Alec Bruce rips to shreds the beaviour of the New Brunswick government, corporate money, and The Moncton Times&Transcript, itself, on the issue of fracking for shale gas. Read this one. Section D4.

Ii think I'll cut it out as oustanding example of telling the truth, and doing it with superb brevity and style. This one is a sure contender for column of the year in Canada.

What will the response of SWN and the government be? My guess is the drilling companies and the T&T might lie low for a year, saying they are listening to the people, and carrying out further studies. Through that year, we will get reports of wonderful progress that has been made in ensuring safety. Then it will be announced that the government has approved further fracking. I mean, Alward has to think of what he is going to live on after he loses the next election.

Oh, just read it. This is one of othe best columns I have read in any newspaper.

The news coming out of Libya has never been honest.  I was dismayed to read a BBC report that was an obvious piece of UK government propaganda about the war. Reuters, the source used by the T&T is just as bad. There are quite respectable sources out there that tell a different story. They also tell what the war is about. And democracy has nothing to do with it.
1. NATO was not supposed to have forces on the ground. In fact, Britain, France and the US have had troops on the ground from the start; and it is they, not the rebels, who have done much of the fighting.
2. The rebel forces have been very active in looting and revenge killing.
3. The NATO aircraft went far past their mandate to control the skies. They took sides in the war. In fact, it was the thousands of bombing raids that defeated Ghadaffi, not the rebels.
4. Ghadaffi was hated by the Libyan people? Oh. So how come it took so long to defeat him with all those forces we assembled?
5.We are there to save lives? So how come so many are dead that that are still piled, rotting, on the streets of Tripoli? We conducted thousands of bombing raids on cities. It is not possible to do that without killing very large numbers of civilians.
6.The war was conducted to bring democracy to Libya? Get real. Nato is trying to recreate the old, western domination of Africa by forming an African Union. Ghadaffi was opposed to it. NATO wants to keep China out of Africa, especially as an oil source. Ghadaiffi intended to sell oil to China.

Libya will get, at best, an imitation democracy, and with so much internal division and civil strife that we will have to send an army of occupation (though it will be called a UN peacekeeping force.) Life in Libya is going to become misery, poverty and violence. But not to worry. The oil fields will be secure.

As a sidelight, notice that Obama, winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, has managed to fight yet another war without declaring war. That's illegal under the American Constitution and under international law.  But dinna fash yoursel'. That news will never appear in The Moncton T&T. So it will be just as though it's not happening at all.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

August 27: Cheap shot day at the Times&Transcript

We shall pass lightly over the fact that the state of New Jersey has just put a moratorium on fracking. But it seems they didn't have room for the story in The Moncton Times&Tribune, You know, that's the paper that wants us to have an open and informed debate. What a collection of hypcrites and sell-outs! Do the T&T staff actually go to the Press Club to share drinks with real jousnalists? Don't they find it embarassing? I don't mean to say that all journalists are perfectly ethical. but for T&T staffers to belong to a press club is rather like hookers hanging out in a convent.

In Tommy Douglas' long careet as leader of the CCF and then the NDP, not a single daily newspaper in Canada had ever supported him or his party. Many of them supported Brian Mulroney who proved what was obvious from the start. He was, to put it kindly, a betrayer of public trust. But it was Mulroney, the self-interested opportunist, who got the support of the press. It wasn't Tommy Douglas, the founder of medicare and the man Canadians later voted as the most admired politician in Canadian history.

When Layton died, and the depth of Canadian mourning was obvious, the daily press, including the T&T, praised him for courage, honesty and compassion. Then they got worried. What if the mourning should turn into increased support for his party?

The counterattack began early with, of course, The National Post a leader, the Winnipeg Free Press,  and then dribbling down to the gutter of Canadian journalism in the New Brunswick papers.

The general idea was to say that Layton was really no big deal, and to hint that he engineered it to get a state funeral - and  the prupose of it was  to whip up a frenzy of hysteria for the NDP. (An minor point here. The only person in a position to authorize a state funeral is Harper. Oooh - is Harper a secret NDP agent?)

The gutter crawlers in this case are Brent Mazerolle and Bill Belliveau. Their columns are beneath contempt.  Belliveau, in particular, is contemptible for his suggestion that Layton's partner is using his funeral for  her own political gain. No, Belliveau has no shame. And not much in the way of common sense. Mazerolle's column is just ass-kissing the boss - as usual.

The reporting on Libya remains heavily biased. Canada has now recognized a government - though there actually isn't one. Nor is there the slightest possibility of a democractic one. Even if NATO wanted a democratic government - and it doesn't -  the conflicting factions among the rebels would make it impossible. It is quite likely that Libya will become an Afghanistan. But the important thing is that western companies will resume control of cheap oil and cheap labour. It's been a profitable war for them - and paid for by us. (Gee. We gotta cut back on education and them there useless things like medicare.)

The ruins of Tripoli suggest a heavy loss of civilian life. We Canadians have killed one hell of a lot of people.  Why? For humanitarian reasons?

Get ready for lots more wars for years to come as Harper makes us part of the NATO brigade to fight wars on obehalf of American corporations.

Maybe a Moncton clergyman will give a sermon on know....thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not be a thug for the US.....

Nah. The Baptists will denounce gays (who aren't in their church, anyway). The Jehovah Witnesses will hear about how they're the only ones going to heaven. The rest will play word games over  the precise meaning of the word kill, being careful not to offend anyone before the collection is taken..

That's why I turn to the teen columnists in the Whatever section on Saturdays. I don't always agree with them. But they[re honest. They're intelligent. And they write well. They pose those serious questions that we all should ask when growing up - and continue asking after we grow up. These are not hacks trying to propagandize us. These are people who genuinely want to share thoughts and discuss them.

For example, I was impressed by Alex Corbett's column. But I think the riots iin the UK were far more serious than he suggests -and I don't think police are the answer.

For several generations now, the very rich, especially of the western world have impoverished people all over the world - including their own people. They exploit cheap labour (ever wonder why a country like Haiti is so poor - even when it has hugely profitable factory farms and industries such as clothing? Check out your Fruit of the Looms and Levis.)

In other poor countries, they get aid from us -but only if they use it to pay our corporations to build and own such things as the water supply - with the result that water is so expensive that millions have to drink from polluted streams.

In the US, as in much of the West, the earnings of the very, very rich have continued to rise. while 50 million American live on food stamps, and governments cut social programmes that would give them at least some help.

This is a recipe for rioting and disorder. Expect it to happen here, too. And expect a brtual response that will make things worse. Those weren't just riots in the UK. They were a rebellion.

Friday, August 26, 2011

August 26: addendum

Google Atantica energy site. Fascinating. It's a consortium, largely of business, which claims to represent you and me, too. Members include, SWN Canada, Brunswick Pipeline, Emera Inc., Irving, other energy companies.. And University of New Brunswick at St. John! How's that for academic freedom and independence? We can guess now why the universities have been so silent about fracking.

The boards of directors are also interesting. Rather few Maritimers in them. Maine is there, though. After all, it's part of the energy area they plan to invest in (control). The TD is very prominent. Don't we have an ex-prime minister of NB who is now prominent in the TD? Also prominent among the directors are perople associated with western energy firms.

How come the Moncton Times&Telegraph has never mentioned that?  Maybe they aren't allowed to use google on their computers.

August 26: The use of force

 In today's "news" story, a very big one on p. A1 and A11, Brent Mazerolle has moved a step up on the social ladder. He gave up being a journalist long ago when he became a pimp for the boss' latest causes. Today, he moved up to mining enginerr. Today's report does not even pretend to be journalism. It reads like the report of a highly trained authority on the subject of shale gas. Perhaps next time he will give us a list of his credentials.

Again, the anti-frackers are naive, even ignorant. Not at all like Mr. Mazerolle. Studies that he doesn't like are dismissed as inconclusive. Opinions he likes are reported as though they were brilliant scientific studies - when they are simply opinions.

He cites reports produced by US government committees as if they were for real. Obviously, Mr, Mazerolle is quite ignorant of how such studies are produced - and of the profound influence of interested parties on what they say.

He does not cite the reports that led to bans or moratoriums on fracking in Quebec, France, South Africa and Australia.  Gee, one would think his recently announced pride in his Acadian roots would lead him to take more interest in what Quebec and France have done. (And he can skip the charge that I am anti-French. I am at least as French as Mr. Mazerolle is (also Scots, English, and Native).

We are assured that fracking is as safe as the production of oil. That will not, I think, do much to reassure people who depend on fishing off  Alaska, in the Caribbean, the North Sea, and the rivers of Alberta. Nor will it be much reassuance for Nigeria which faces decades of cleanup because of its oil industry.

What has been remarkable in the T&T's very limited and biased coverage of the shale gas question is how little study seems to have been done about it. Yesterday, Mediapost flack Yedlin admitted that much. Mazerolle seems to be unaware of that problem.

There are big stakes here. We can expect a long and hard sell by The Moncton Times&Transcript, full of deceit and ignorance. I should not be surprised if this series is used to deliberately promote anger and division leading to civil disobedience. Indeed, that would be a useful solution for SWN since it can call on much greater force to put protests down, and go ahead with its plan.

Would a company do such a thing?  You bet. It's been done often enough in the past - both in Canada and the US. As Frank Scott observed:

Please do not say the use of force
Is how we change the social course.
The use of force you surely know
Is how we keep the status quo.

On the op ed page, we have the usual propaganda from that puppet for the super rich, The Fraser Institute.. It wants the gradual privatization of medicare, beginning with user fees. Of course. Then we could move toward a really expensive and inefficient system like the American one. Many people would live in sickness and die younger - as they they used to. Total health care cost would actually rise. But the rich wouldn't have to worry about that - and they'd make profits out of it.

Feeling sick? Let Drs. Irving and McCain look after you. And good luck.

Meanwhile, we won't even think about the economic crisis that is far worse than that of medicare, and even worse than any government debt. The wage gap. For two generations, the nation's wealth has drifted from the poor and the middle class in the pockets of the super rich - who have become even richer through the recession. In fact, one reason we have a recession is that this concentration of wealth in the hands of a very few has left so many people who now don't have any money to spend, Notice the drop in American tourists?

As well, the super rich feel no obligation to change things. The don't intend to pay equitable taxes. They don't entend to give up subsidies. They don't intend to raise minimum wage. In fact, they don't five a damn what happens to the rest of us. When there is no further money to be made in Canada, they'll simply move their investments somewhere else. That is going to lead (already has led) to profound suffering and social disorder. But we won't talk about that. We'll just raise user fees to discourage those useless poor people from seing doctors. That will leave us more money to lower taxes and raise subisidies for the rich.

The editorial page has its usual lout eidtorial, this one putting forward the remarkable view that the oppostion to the government has no right to criticize it.

Cartooonist de Adder seems to be really hitting  his stride in the past few weeks. Always a good artist, he is now showing.wit and subtlety.

Alec Bruce wrote an untypical but still very worth reading column.

Norbert Cunningham, writing on animal species, ended his column  with a line that should be read by the whole editorial staff of the T&T. Hint - it could have a bearing on fracking. "...we are converting the Earth's natural landscapes so quickly, with total ignorance of our impact on the life in them."

Total ignorance, Mazerolle. Check those words in a dictionary. And, a hint. We, even you, are part of the life on these natural landscapes.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25: The Moncton Times goes back to the gutter

 The Moncton Times and Transcript for this day makes its role clear. It has launched a vicious attack on those who oppose fracking. The attack is so vicious and unethical, it is impossible to believe this was launched without the consent and urging of the owner and the managing editor. They have all joined forces with SWN Resources Canada to declare war on the psople of New Brunswick.

The opening shot is by Brent Mazerolle on page A1. It appears as a news story. But it isn't. A news story is news news, not opinion. Mazerolle's column does not tell any story. It is nothing but propaganda for SWN and, one must now assume ,whatever linkage it has to the ownership of NBMedia (we haven't yet been told about  that.)

I used to feel sorry for Mazerolle. I felt sorry for any reporter working for such a disgustiing newspaper. But, well, sometime along the way we all have to decide how unprincipled we are williing to be for the sake of holding a job.

First off , over his picture, is a headline. "Shale gas company vows to return". That's a declaration of war. But this is a democracy, I am told. Aren't we supposed to decide whether the shale gase company returns? And on what terms?

The sub-head reads "N.B. suffers black eye" That's not news. That's an opinon. Probably, it came from the managing editor. Certainly, it had to be approved by the managing editor. That theme is carried on throughout the article, which gives the impression of crazed mobs attacking shale gas workers.

The company reports  "physical assaults on personnel".

To which Mazerollel adds, "A vision immediately springs to mind of vigilantes and eco-workers ....beating up beating up technicians and workers just trying to make a living." Indeed, it does. And that inflammatory statement by the gas company was surely intended to create such a vision. Thus the sub head "N.B. suffers black eye."

So it does. And the black eye has been inflicted by the gas company, the New Brunswick government, The Moncton Times and Transcript - and Brent Mazerolle.

Deborah Yedlin does a similar hatchet job on p. A4. this one is a bit sloppy because she apparently cannot understand what she reads. Early in the column she  gives away her bias. "Clearly the energy sector can't get a break."  That's so true. I often feel ashamed of the way we treat multi-billionaires who have multi billionaire firends who own the news media.   I mean, all they want is to take what resource wealth we have to make billions out of it while we work for low wages and pay their electric bills.

Yedlin has trouble reading. She quotes an American report as though it says everything is fine. "Perhaps even more telling is that the report makes a point of saying that not enough analysis has been done on shale gas extraction for concrete conclusions to be drawn.".  She seems to think that clinches the case for the shale gas companies.

Hello, Deborah? Read that again, moving your lips if you must. That means we don't know nearly enough about the effects of shale has drilling. Read----it-----slowly. In fact, that statement does NOT support the case of the companies. It's supports the case of the protesters.

She also says, seemingly thinking this too supports her case, that we still need to learn more to set adequate rebugulations. Really? In other words,  she thinks we should cross the street without first looking both ways.

She mentions that Quebec and France (She forgets South Africa) have banned fracking. But she doesn't think that important enough to say why they have done it.

She admits there are "cowboy" operators in the US.  How can she say that when she claims (untruthfully) that there has never been a case of groundwater contamination through fracking? And, for that matter, isn't the shale gas company we are dealing with of American parentage?

This, again, isn't a news story. It's an opinion piece - and it should never appear as news, not in any paper of any ethics at all. It's ignorant; it's illogical. Yedlin is a writer for Postmedia. Big suprise. Postmedia is the godfather for all the petty, journalistic pimps of Canada.

The Times&Transcript (and its brother rags of New Brunswick, I expect) have hit a low I didn't think possible. The confusion, the divisiveness, the intimidation, the fear this will cause gives pretty clear indication that we are dealing with people, within and without New Brunswick, who don't give a damn what damage they do to us or the province so long as they can make a buck out of it. And we are led by a government that has betrayed us and will go on betraying us. It has never met a wallet it couldn't kiss.

On the editorial and op ed pages, excellent columns by Alec Bruce and Jody Dallaire. Excellent letter to the editor from theTaymouth Community Association Environmental Action Committee, the sort of people the economic and politicial leaders of this provience think of as a rabble to be frightenede into sildence.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Agust 24: No news is no news is no news

Sometimes, one can't call the news in The Moncton Times&Transcript  either good or bad. There's just is nothinig there.

The biggest New Brunswick story of the  year has been the one of shale gas. But the newspaper has said almost nothing about it - indeed, nothing at all until the protests could no longer be ignored. And this exploration has been going on for years. Most of them without a word.

I have yet to see anybody raise one of the fundamental questions. If the people of New Brunswick have all this shale gas, if it is ours.  Why on earth are we even thinking of leasing it out for a private company to make the profits out of it? If it's as safe as we are told, why can't we be the ones to train our own citizens in the work, keep the jobs in New Brunswick, and keep the profits to ease our tax load?

Maybe Mr. Irving's private committee to plan OUR economic future and to dictate it to Mr. Alward (aka The Listener) will examine this issue and tell us the whole range of options we will be allowed to choose from - ranging from having a private company develop shale gas to having a private company develop shale gas.

Mr. Alward has announced, all by himself, that his government will begin an information campaign. Wowee! Does that mean we will now get full and unbiased information? Dream on.

Mark Mackenzie of Moncton has a letter to the editor that drips righterouness on the fracking issue. The law must be respected. I quite agree. That's why George Washington and William Lyon MacKenzie and the rebel leaders in Libya and Egypt  should have been hanged for taking their protest to violence. They had no right to break the law. That's why we should honour those naziis who reported and arrested Jews. They were supporting the law.

No, I don't support breaking the law. But I also don't support governments and private companies who ride roughshod over the wishes of the people. When violence happens, it is commonly caused by those who claim to be upholding the law. If you want to find out who is guilty for provoking violence, look first at the drilling companies, Mr. Alward, and NBMedia.

Brian Cormier contributes a touching remembrance of Jack Layton, full of admiration for his principles, and says "Canada Needed Jack Layton".  Wonder why he never said so when Layton was alive?

There's a suggestive article on, of all places, the Business page. It's about a drone observation plane designed for use in the desert. (Obviously designed to defend Canada. Those desert countries are always invading us.) Now in use in Libya, it joins the new warfare of killing without needing an army. The US and Israel have used more deadly versions of such drones to kill many thousands of people, most of them probably civilians, with no risk at all. The Israeli ones operate on screens very much like computer games. Pretty random in their choices of targets, they have killed many dozens of innocent people, including babies, in Gaza. You won't find much about this in the North American press, though. Try an Israeli paper, el Haaretz.

Similarly, the US has killed uncounted numbers of  people, largely civilians, with drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia - and other places you won't read about.

War, always a killer of  civilians. has, at least since 1914 increasingly killed more civilians - women an children -  than it militants. The US, whose citizens have lost the urge for service in the military, increasingly relies on hired thugs and and hi-tech, both of them inflicting there greatest damage on the helpless and innocent. And we are not the only ones who know how to make drones.

Why is this story on the business page?  Hey! Building drones is good for business.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 23: Layton and th the newspapers

I felt more than a little disgust as I read through the newspapers this mornng. All of them gave extensive coverage to Jack Layton, praising his sense of prinicple, of purpose, or service. I felt disgust, for all the lavish praise, because not one of those papers had, in his career, every supported Layton's principle, purpose or service. Instead, they supported hacks, scoundrels, servants of the wealthy, incompetents. And they will continue to do so.

In its last edition before the New Brunswick election, The Moncton Times and Transcript didn't even mention Lalyton's candidates and supporters in this region. The only stories were about Liberal and Conservative candidates.

Layton was, indeed, a man of principle, sincerity, love, caring. There was in him, as even his enemies recognized, compassion and greatness. Will it be possible to say the same of our current political leaders? With a straight face?

Read Layton's letter, the one he dictated when knowing he was close to death. It is a letter to the Canadian people. It's a letter about compassion and love and cooperation. And he believed it. Is it possible to imagine such principles have guided McKenna? Harper? Alward? Even among certain Christian churches which preach those principals, it is notable how much they have become a vote bank for Harper - and for everthing that is not principled or compassionate.

Layton lived by the core principles of Christianity, Judaism, Islam - of almost all major religions of the world. Too bad we don't.

Layton is also the subject of the editorial cartoon by deAdder. And it's a good one. Right under it is a column by Alec Bruce that, perhaps by soincidence, carries the same gentle theme.

The editorial is back to growling in its kennel, growling more hypocrisy - and an astonishing piece of information.

The editor has the nerve to write that we meed more dialogue on gas exploration. This is the sort of unprincipled bilge we get from NBMedia which has done everything possible to discourage dialogue from the start. We can guess exactly what sort is "dialogue" is meant - propaganda from gas company spin doctors and whatever PR flacks they can hire.

After all the pretend praise for Jack Layton, it's disgusting to see such an editorial.

But there is one cute part. At the end, it says we have at least two years to put more rules and regulations in place. Hey! This has been going on for years. And now the T&T suggests we still don't have enough rules and regulations in place. And this coming on top of a statement from the provincial minister for the destruction of the environment that we haven't even completed the basic studies needed to deecide on rules and regulations?

But our government gave permission for this exploration to begin years ago. And the current government had it in its platform. And they don't have adequate rules and regulations? Or basic studies? And they still don't?

Why on earth whould anybody in the province trust business leaders, politicians and newpapers who allowed this to happen? And who have deliberately covered up all the information we need even to discuss it?

Make njo mistake. This is a replay of Shawn Graham's proposal to sell  NBEnergy. It has the same objective - privatization and monopoly control of a basic necessity of life.

Monday, August 22, 2011

August 22: How to create a passive and uninfomed society

The first section of today's The Moncton Times@Transcript is at least half advertsing. That doesn't count the big, free ad on the front page (disguised as a news story) for a pro football game next month. The rest is a page and a half of pictures of motorcycles, a page of people standing around watching a parade   And it goes on....

There's a story about premier Alward - though it gets less space and prominence than a picture of a motorcycle making smoke by burning its tires. Mr. Alward, who's usually too busy listening to speak, says there will be no referendum on fracking. He says the election was a referendum because  his platform included the responsible development of shale gas.

 Well, but that's the problem, isn't it?

We haven't seen a responsible development. Years into the process, the government still hasn't completed basic studies on the impact of fracking for shale gas. It only recently hurried some regulations through - though how anyone can trust the regulations of a government that tells us nothing is beyond me.

Then - the stunning comment - "Fear comes from a lack of information."

Quite so. And why do we have such a lack of information?  Could it be that two governments have committed us to this without giving us any information? And Alward has the nerve to say it's somehow our fault if we fear what this may do?

On the same note, where has The Moncton Times&Transcript been? It has told us close to nothing about fracking, and why some jurisdictions have banned it. It doesn't take a huge news staff to do research. Start by going to google. Type in fracking. You will get 5,600,000 hits. They reflect both sides in the debate.

But we aren't going to hear anything but one side from Alward and from the T&T. There is big money on the table (though we are not likely to see much of it). There's a lot of power and control on the table - and neither of those is for u, either..

There is so much at stake for the people behind this that Alward is willing to politically destroy himself and his party, just as Shawn Graham did. But not to worry. The people behind this look after their flunkies.

For an example of how newspapers can lie while telling the truth, check out p. C 1 (NewsToday). It's an excellent example of how to slant a story. The head blares: Canadians increasingly frustrated about health care: survey. The impression given by the story is that Medicare is collapsing and people have lost faith in it. In fact, 70% in the survey rate it A to B in quality. That is down from 75% a year ago - but even that could well be within the margin of error. In either case, it scarcely qualifies as a collapse.

The CMA is quite right to raise demands for improvement in the system; and to use this survey to help it. But the tone of the story suggests a level of popular anger that isn't there. Why? Because the story comes from Postmeda. And Postmedia, like the T&T, would much prefer to see health care privatized. Then the rich could pay even lower taxes - while the rest of us live shorter lives.

Again - Libya is mentioned. Again, we are not told why Canadians are killing Libyans. Nor are we told how many civilians we are killing in order to "save civilian lives." (and expect a lot more civilians to die as the fightinig moves into Tripoli). Nor are we told exactly who the rebels are or what they want.

Oh, by the way, NATO aricraft have so far flown over 7000 sorties in Libya. That's seems a lot to control the skies over a country that has no air force capable of operations.

On the editorial page is an excellent cartoon by de Adder. There are also two excellent columns by David Suzuki and Norbert Cunningham on different but related aspects of government control.

The most important thing the editor could think of to talk about is how the "Metro" area is the entertainment capital of Atlantic Canada - I mean.  in how many other cities can you watch motorcycles making smoke by accelerating while held in place? That's why all over the world people are talking about Moncton. Hint - if you want your children to make big money on the Atlantic entertaintment circuit ,don't waste your money on music lessons or education of any sort.. Keep them so dumb they won't even watch informercials on TV. Then get them a V-6 motorcycle that can chain it in place, with the rear wheel on a couple of logs, and let them go vroom-vroom.

They'll be so rich and famous, they'll get the Order of New Brunswick.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

August 20: Addendum

I forgot to mention othat I have a current events group that meets at Moncton Libarary. The next  day setion is on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 8.  I am also trying out an evening session on the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 6. All are welcome.

The topic for both sessions is The Moncton Times of (the day of the meeting). It will be useful in developing our understanding of how a newspaper is put together, what journalistic ethics are, and how a newspaper can be used to manipulate us.

I mention the dates of the meetings here because it is my experience that The Moncton Times and Transcript often erases this current events discussion group from the library's list of announcements.

Everybody is welcome, including editorial staff of The Moncton Times and Transcript.

August 20: Wow!

One shale gas company (just one) is temporarily suspending operations to allow for "more debate". That didn't make top of the news. The big item was a flash  that a recently convicted kidnapper and rapist is a bad man. Hey, first things first.

The report of SWN's decision to back off for a while is a fasciinating study in how to slant the news. It is entirely reported from the point of view of the company. It also carries some astounding statements from the company and the provincial minister of the environment. As well, it shows up (without sayiing so) the general incompetence and neglect of the provincial government; and the lack of professionalism in the behaviour of The Moncton Times and Transcript.

And, most amazingly, there is no editorial on what may well be the biggest provincial story the New Brunswick press has ever covered. (Apparently, it was more important to discuss the sentence of Romeo Cormier).

Enironment Minister Blanwy says the government needs time to to complete its studies and set regulations. "We keep saying we needed time to get our ducks in line before we  hit the road." Is she for real? They fought the election campaign on this - and they hadn't yet done the baisc work on it?  It's been going on for years; and even now they still aren't ready to hit the road?  Is this government really so irresponsible and incompetent?

She also said that New Brunswickers have a right to get clear answers on the issue - but damaging equipment and acting in brach of the peace isn't the way to get it. Oh, really? . In fact, breach of the peace has proven the ONLY way to get the attention of the government. When a government of a democracy acts in such a way as to force people to become militant in order to be heard, then it is the government that is responsible for the militancy. It is the governmnt. It is the SWN. It is the New Brunswick newspaper monopoly who created this situation. It is their consistent refusal to give information, to recognize that there have been problems with and bans on. "fracking" on at least three continents.

In his statements, amply quoted, Tom Alexnder, Manager of SWN's New Brunswick, showed himself a master of the cheap shot and bafflegab.  Now, he says, NB restaurants will lose the money that workers would have spent on meals; hottels would lose room rentals; and gas stations will lose sales to the trucks.

Gollygeewhiz, Mr. Alexander, please stay We'll be happy to risk poisoning our environtment if we can sell some sandwiches, rent some rooms, pump a bit more gas.

He also says citzens are getting misleading information. In fact, we haven't been getting ANY information. Not from you. Not from the government. Not from the newspapers. He now calls for a national debate. I can just imagine what  kind of debate we're going to get with people like Mr. Alesander, the editors of The Moncton Times, and head waiter Alward.

In short, this is news reported in a highly biased style, devoted entirely to the views of the spin doctors in government and SWN. Expect  much, much more of the same. There are big stakes on the table; and we're dealing with some thoroughly unscrupulous people. Watch out for raised elbows.

The reporting on Libya seems biizarre. We were told from the start that Ghadaffi is hated by the population. This was supposed to be a very short war. In fact, it has now gone on for twice as long as it was supposed to, despite massive supplies for the rebels, air dominance and, according to some reports,  American and German troops on the ground.

We also get reports that don't make sense. For example, one sniper on a rooftop is supposed to have stopped a major rebel offensive. Really? Huge battles are fought with massive firepower - and end with one or two people killed and a few ounded. We carry out massive bombing of cities. But it seems no civilians have been killed. That's not possible. Maybe the T&T should broaden its foreign news sources beyond Reuters. Always remember that war correspondents are notorious for being propgandists and outright liars. That's been true for over a centyrt. There's a good book on it, The First Casualty.

It was, as always, a relief to come the the Whatever section with its columns by students. I was particularly drawn to the column by Alex Corbett because it is more thoughtful that most of what I have seen and  heard in our news media. It's about the riots in Britain. I am more pessimistic that Alex is about what they represent; but he is one of the few journalists who recognize that these were not someting like hockey riots. He also is one of the few to recognize that force is not going to solve the problem.

Those riots are the result of a diisntegration of British society which has been going on for decades. We can expect to see the same in the US very soon, and for the same reasons. We may,  I'm very much afraid, see it in Canada, again for the same reasons.

Maybe ti already has. What do you think the anti-fracking movement was about, if not a protest against the abuse of democracy by big business, and the compliance of North America's wimpiest politicians?

Friday, August 19, 2011

August 19: the hot editorial page continues...

Another impressive editorial page for The Moncton Times and Transcript. A soundly reasoned editorial, a column by Alec Bruce worth paying attention to, and a fiery column (a very good one) by Norbert Cunningham. In the same section is Patricial Winans' column, historial glimpses. It's always good, but this week's, about the old meeting house (1821) that stands at the corner of Mountain Street, is a particularly charming and interesting one.

 Now, what I would like to see is the story of why Moncton got so many big churches and such a gem of a theatre as The Capitol between 1900 and 1920 or so when it was pretty small potatoes as a city. Where did that money come from?

That's the good part..

The NewsToday, always brief and spotty, was even briefer and spottier than its normal, wretched self. Once again, there was a big story about Libya - but still not a word of explanation of why we are killing people there.

There's not a word about the hundreds of thousands of Somalians dying of starvation - even though those closest to death are the tens of thousands of babies, children and elderly. Well, I mean, who gives a damn about Somalians? Anyway, they needed the space for a picture of two golfers looking happy  (p.C10)  Cut it out, and keep it in the bathroom for emergencies.

Interestingly, there is no mention that South Africa has joined those who say" fracking" for shale gas is too dangeous for humans and their environment. So it has banned it. Gee. How could a news editor not notice that story?

The A section does report on a an anti-fracking protest in Fredericton but, again, without telling us anything about what the process is doing and what the dangers are. Nor is Alward saying a word - and the T&T obviously isn't going to ask him. So let's think up something they might have considered.

It was a century ago that Canadian provinces decided it was bad for people and bad for business if any one group or consortium controlled an essential field like energy. Any such control would enable them to gouge customers, charge low rates for thir own companies, and make it up by overcharging their business competitors. That's why provinces created provincially owned utilities like Ontario Hydro and NBEnergy.

New Brunswickers recently agreed that public ownership was essential when they dumped the Shawn Graham Liberals, largely because they were going to sell NB Energy.

So now the big boys are trying the same game all over, this time with the compliant Mr. Alward playing the role of Shawn Graham.

If the shale gas project seems feasible, then a small group will control what is not only an energy source in its own right, but possibly an underpinning of NBEnergy. In other words, control of energy in New Brunwick (and Atlantic Canada and Maine and New Hampshire and Vermont would fall into the hands of a small group who would control most energy supplies. And that would have the same effect as the sale of NBEnergy would have. - well, except this is worse than the sale of NBEnergy because the latter would not, at least, poison the environment and us.

Does the owner of NBMedia support this scheme?

Can you seriously think that Alward and NBMedia would be pimping for it if he didn't?

If we must look at shale gas, a good newspaper might explore a better way to do it. If the development is done by a private business, then we have the old problems we used to have with hydro power.
1. Private control can and will be abused.
2. Private development is expensive since the developer must get back not only the cost, but a handsome profit.

It's our gas. Why should somebody else get the profit from it? Provinces have been building and effectively operating energy xources for a century. They've done it very efficiently. Why can't New Brunswick do its own esploring. and then it's own development?  Then we would keep the profits, maintain services, help all business to be competitive, and pay down our debt. Who would be stupid enough to just give the profits away?

Shale gas is a scam. It's not only dngerous and damaging. It's a replay of the scam Shawn Graham tried, the that we voted against.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 18: The big story: puppies are cute

That really is the biggest story, in terms of space, to appear in The Moncton TimesTranscript today. Seven puppies have found homes. A-a-a-ah. Isn't that cute?

Meanwhile, there is not a mention of shale gas despite the claim that this is the future of New Brunswick. There is no mention of how much money the province can expect to make out of it. (lots and lots is not a clear answer.)

There is no mention of where this exciting work is going on, no mention of serious problems with shale gas exploration that are showing up across the US. We still don't know why Quebec put a moratorium on it, or why American insurance companies are refusing to insure proporties that are even near exploration wells.  The T&T has given us no idea of how much of our fresh water will be diverted for this exploration. If you guess lots and lots, then guess again.  It's lots and lots and lots and lots. When you thinik of it in litres, think in millions. What effect will this have on our fresh water supply? You won't find out from the T&T.

On this point,ever notice some similarites with the past? Think - Alward and shale gas - Shawn Graham and NB Energy.

But why bother thinking about anythng when you have that wonderful story about cute puppies?

NewsToday was its usual nothing. Again, we get the war in Syria (in which we are killing people). But we still have not been told why we're in that war. We still don't know who the rebels are or what they want. We are told that Libyans all hate Gaddafi.. So how come  he can still hold on against rebels who have the massive support of Nato air power, naval power, plus NATO supplies of weapons, ammunition and money?

The story reports rebels claiming to have found a mass grave of civilians killed by Gaddafi. There's not evdience. They just say it. There is evidence of mass murder, rape and looting by the rebels. There are also stories of all Blacks being expelled from a city captured by rebels. But there was not mention of this in the T&T.

Doesn't anybody at the T&T follow world news or ask questions? Or is it just "Duh- you say it. we'll print it."

Yesterday, the editorial took the line that surveillance cameras are a good idea to make Moncton safer. Today, Alec Bruce took the oppoisite tack, that the cameras are step toward the police state with unlimited electronic suveillance from cameras to the web, gathering private information (wihtout informing us), and informationo that can be used against us by anybody in government or with influence for personal or political reasons.

Both yesterday's editorial and Bruce's column of today  are reasonable and well written. I think both are right. I have seen cameras used very effectively to spot reckelss driving, and to prevent it from happening in the first place. I have also seen electronic spying used for purely political and economic control over us.  Once that happens, democracy is over.

Today's editorial was almost good. The writer destroyed it toward the end when it revived an old T&T lie - which it knows is a lie. The writer included Superintendant Branscombe in the blame for the problems of maintenance at Moncton High. Anybody who knows anything about public institutions knows that the only body with the power to order timely maintenance, and especially expensive maintenance on public schools is the provincial government. The government was warned. years in advance. It was asked again and again to make the repairs possible.

Unforutnately, New Brunswick governments have been characterized by minister of education who are, intellectually, differently advantaged. And successive governments, including the present one,  have proven they don't give a damn about the condition of safety of our schools, our teachers or our children. It is not possible the editorial writer did not know that.

Would anyone at the Moncton Times dare to make any such comment concerning faults of the Irvings or McCains?

The Op Ed page has a column by Jody Dallaire that is an angry one, and with tood reason. It's well-inofrmed, well-written, and powerful..

Tomorrow in this space - how to stir-fry puppies.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August 17: one stinker, lots of trivia, excellent editorial page...

Page A8 has a story shaded in yellow, for some reason. I'm sure it can't be the reason I''m thinking of.
It's about Finance Minister Higgs telling us New Brunswick's financial situation is unsustainable. Quite possible so. The stinker part is it talks only of cutting things like education and social services and some public service jobs.

There's not a single mention of cutting tax breaks, subsidies, grants, sweetheart contracts, loans, land giveaways for the super-rich.

For openers, Mr. Higgs should have given us figures (and any reporter worth his salt should have asked) on how much money the Irvings, the McCains and friends get out of New Brunswick every year. The real figures. What's the cash value of their reduced electricity rates? Forestry grants? sibsidies? How much tax do they actually pay?

How can we possibly examine the state of our economy without knowing the role of the biggest players? The Moncton Times would have (and has shown) no reluctance to publish such information about public service employees and teachers and others. So give us the same sort of figures in neat rows, just as was done for municipal employees recently.

For a start, the reporter might have asked Mr. Higgs exactly what  his salary is, what his perqs and pension are, and what he pays in income tax.

But it's so much easier to blame to the poor and the children. Yep. They is jes' suckin' us dry. Go back to the deep hills, Mr. Higgs.

Charging the wealthy full price for energy would do a lot to balance the books. Bringing their tax rates into line would be useful. Putting an end to giving them gifts would help. But, no. Mr. Higgs will surely find it more convenient to blame the poor, the elderly and children.

Again, there is still no information on fracking for shale gas, despite easily available stories of serious problems in New York and from reputable scientists.

So that's the lying part part of the news. The rest is  trivia.

NewsToday features a non-story about Canadian foreign policy. (Postmedia News, of course.) There's the usual story on Libya. It still doesn't tell us why we have sent aircraft to kill Libyans. It also omits reports from international agencies of murder, rape and looting by rebel forces.

But- Wow! the editorial page was good.

The editorial dealt with the return to Royal in the naming of our military. I haven't decided whether I agree with the writer;. But this is a reasonable, balanced, and well-written editorial - the furst such I  have ever seen in the T&T.  The cartoon is good, and shows some welcome independence on the part of the artist.

Norbert Cunningham has a quite readable piece on literacy - though he still sees New Brunswick as a literacy horror story compared to the rest of Canada. I really think he should ckeck out the figures for places like, say, Montreal and Toronto. I have to admit, though, that I had to come to Moncton to see an ad "For sale: Truck with wench."  (It was in a large, pictorial ad in section A.

There is a block-buster column by Alec Bruce which blows away muddle-headed and greedy ideas about economics - such as those voiced by Finance Minister Higgs and the T&T's preferred expert, Professor Savoie (Order of New Brunswick.)

The paper has all its usual faults. But this editorial page would have done any paper proud.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 16: Making the news....

Yesterday, The Moncton Times and Transcript published a whole page of salaries  and perks in our municipal government. I was puzzled. Transparency or government is not normal in T&T reporting.

Today, the front page story was "Public sector salary debate needed:expert."

Choreographed? Well, I guess.

The expert is, course, Don Savoie (Order of New Brunswick), of U de Moncton. He speaks of excessive salaries in the public sector, jub security guarantees, etc. (He doesn't mention his own salary or his own job security and other benefits.)  Apparently,soo far as the T&T is concerned, Prof. Savoie is the only expert in this whole province on salaries, economics in general, shale gas, you name it.. And it's always a safe bet what he will say.

In this,  he is supported by the Atlantice institute of Market Studies (quelle surprise). the T&T's favourite propaganda house.  The theme of both is that civil servant wages create unfair competition for private employers, and drive up private salaries.

That's an interesting theory. Perhaps The T&T will publish pay scales in the corporate world so we can see just how much public servatnts have pushed up pay. Some corporations are so hard pressed they have to pay executive salaries of millions of dollars, plus bonusses, plus club memberships, plus millions more if they get fired. A member of a board of directors can make more money in an evening of just raising his hand when he's told to, than many public servants make in a year.

The story closes with two, striking points. Both of them are, to put it politely, wrong.

1. Public service salaries are driving up private sector salaries. As it happens, I was once offered an administratitve position in a university. The lawyers who made the offer encouraged me to read a book, prepared for private business esecutives, on all the contractual demands I could make. I was astonished - a high salary, higher severance pay, with a continutation of the high salary as well if I should decide to step back to my old job, and a guarantee of a far higher pension.

It's not the public servants who have driven up wages at the higher levels. It's private corporations who have done it. That's why executive salaries in private business continue to rise even as the rest of us drop back. That's why American bank executives got huge bonusses from tax payers' money as their reward for triggering the current economic crisis.

2. Mr. Cirtwill of AIMS makes the closing point ( in appallingly bad grammar), "....not only are we paying the taxes to these people, they are competing with private sector viability, which don't take our taxes."

Well, in fact, the private sector does take our taxes. Most obviously, it takes them in the form of energy subsidies, grants, loans, deals, giveaways...  It also takes our tax money in the form of not paying equitable taxes itself.

The editorial takes up the same theme. We gotta cut costs. Hey! I know a great way to do it. Charge Irving full price for energy. Stop giving away forest lands. Stop giving out friendly government contracts.

Obviously, The Times&Tranxcript is off on another crusade in the service of its master, with Sir Lancelot Don Savoie holding high his Order of New Brunswick.

NewsToday has another big story on Libya. But it still hasn't told us why NATO is there, who the rebels are and what they want; and, most important, we don't know why our newly re-named Royal Canadian Air Force is killing Libyans.

Norbert Cunningham's column is an unusual one for him. I can't make any sense out of it at all. It's exxentially about the meaning of conservatism, and how the world is misused by people who don't know what it means. I'm with him in spirit. I'm sure he does know the proper meanings of Liberal and Conservative. But in his column he equates Conservatism with holding on to past values. That has nothing to do with the meaning of the worl. A past value, for example, is depriving women of rights. Another past value is drowning witches. I guess he referred to past values because it sounds nice; but conservatism has nothing to do with conserving.

He also  refers to Premier Alward and Staphen Harper as true conservatives. They aren't. Harper's values are those that used to be called liberal - back in the days when people knew what liberal meant. Alward has no political principles at all. He is, like Graham before him, simply the head waiter at the baron's feast.

Cinningham says he does not have the space to define conservatism and liberalism. The Osford English Dictionary, the big multi, multi volume one does it in less space than a newspaper column. It could be done in a couple of paragraphs.

Above Norbert Cunningham is an important column by Alec Bruce on Harper's new legislation to get tough on crime, proposing much more and much longer imprisonment of offenders. If that worked, then the safest and most law-abiding country in the world would be the US which has more people in prison than any other country in the world. It also has harsher conditions and sentencing than most of the world.

Harper has even spoken of  keeping it cheap by allowing privately-owned prisons. (The US has them. So far, they cost more to run. And who pays? The taxpayers do.)  The private prisons have also currupted the judicial system. An American judge was recently caught found guilty of accepting a huge bribe for sentencing large numbers of children to a privately-owned prison. I hope his judge sends him to one.

What's even more disturbing is that this is another example of Harper appealing to the support of the ignorant and fearful. (Canada's crime rate is no high, and it is actually declining.)  Harper's action will create the same atmosphere of political hysteria we now see in the US where propaganda, ignorance and fear have taken over the direction of the country.

And that, Norbert to the conntrary, is not what conservatism means.

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15: Useless news....

Almost every day, the Moncton Times and Transcript runs a long story which, if you read it closely, means nobody really knows what's going on. That's a lot of reading to learn nothing. Nor do I want to stick it just ot the T&T for this. Almost all the North American press is just as bad.

Well, they don't need Reuters for news - nor should they pay it when Reuters has nothing to say. What they could do at no cost but the exertion of a little common sense is to ask questions. Why is there a war in Libya? Exactly who are the rebels? Why are they rebels? Why are Canadians killing Libyans? Have they attacked Canada?

The paper could also deal with the silly reasons floating around. A simple check of google would blow all of them away in a few minutes. For example...

1. Colonel Ghaddaffi is not a democrat. 

The King of Saudi Arabia is not a democrat,either. In fact, the US has quite a collection of dictators it supports - and of  democraciesit has overthrown. As for the rebels, we have no information whatever about their political views. They might be democrats. But I think it unlikely.

2. Canada is obliged to take part in this as a member of NATO.

No. It's not.

In fact, some NATO members are not taking part. NATO has no power to make any member do what it doesn't want to do.

3. Our intervention is sanctioned by the UN.

No. It's not.

The UN sanctioned keeping the skies free of military aircraft. That's all. It specifically warned that NATO was not to take sides, and not to endanger civilians. We are taking sides. We are killing civilians - and in large numbers.

Why? (Just imagine the reaction if it were a Moslem country doing this to American civilians. Oh, we don't have to imagine it, do we. No. It was memorial glassware, silver spoons, pledges of friendship and aid. But, what the hell, n ow it's only Moslem civilians we're killing.)

We Canadians are killing people - soldiers, civilians, elderly, babies....  Why?

So why aren't we getting information in our press? Why just this brainless crap? I'd rather see reprints of the kite festival, and photos of fans gushing about U2

It's been the same with their reporting of the riots in Britain. Other news sources have at least gone  past the stage of talking about the riots to take a look at the causes. In todays TandT, it's more bllather about whether this will affect Prime Minister Cameron in his next election.

The rioting was severe. It spread to several cities. That obviously suggestws somehing seriously wrong in British society - and not simply something that can be written off as criminal behaviour.  They're treating this as though it were a Batman story with clones of the Joker runing wild in their thousands.

Hint - if you want to read some serious analysis of the riots, read Alec Bruce's column. It's dead on. Senior police officials  in Britain and the US(unreported in the T&T) have told PM Cameron: it's a problem that does not have a police solution.Not even if Batman joins forces with them.

There's also a well-written, if disturbing. column by Norbert Cunningham. And I'm afraid he's right.

Just to keep things balanced at the sub-nomral level, there's yet another coliumn on the op-ed page about the U2 concert. People were well behaved. How different from those rowdies one sees at the ballet!

Oh, remember premier Alward, the one was going to listen to people?. People  have talked to  him, lots of them.  You'll find a story about him on p. A3. It's about shale gas. I just know he listens. Trouble is, the poor man can't hear.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

August13: The best and worst of today's Moncton Times

On a Saturday, the best part of the The Moncton Times and Transcripts is the Whatever Section, to  which middle school and high school students contribute columns. Today, those columns are the best ones I have seen - even from that group. It's  hard to believe that these students are products of those same public schools that editorials of the Moncton Times have so often condemned as inferior and incompetent. If this is what inferior schools can do, we need more inferior schools.

The columns, though on seemingly simple topics, bring fresh, thoughtful and thought-provoking views to them.  This is one of the few sections of the paper that is enjoyable to read, and leaves you with something to think about.

Section A is the usual small-town boosterism. Baseball World has eyes on Metro? Come off it. Most of even the baseball world has never heard of the Canadian Cup under 17 competition. And, in most of the world, referring to a city of 160,000 as "Metro" would just raise a giggle.  Luckily, 9 of the 14 pages of Section A are ads. So that's a break.

NewToday feartures four pages on a kite flying exhibition, mostly pictures. This over-coaverage has been going on for a week. I cannot think of another daily newspaper in the world that would do that.(But then, I seldom read The Gleaner and The Telegraph-Journal.)

A newspaper should be giving us information, not running  page after page of what is, in effect, free advertising for events. It shouls be telling eus xactly how much new money these shows actually bring to Moncton (Can we seriously believe people are flooding in from all over North America to see a kite festiival?) How much NEW money is there? How much of it really comes from people who live here? Who gets that money? (Yes, yes. I know it provides jobs for all. But exactly how much of the money is ending up in the hands of the rate payers who underwrite these shows? Are we allowed to consider whether there might be more effective ways to spend our money?

Their story on othe riots in Britain was outdated before it went to press. The British prime minister has now admitted that the riots were not simply acts of criminals.  They happened because of government failure to deal with profound social problems ( - a result of the Thatcher and Blair years).

This week,Obama received a report by government experts saying that fracking for shale gas is poorly regulated and very dangerous. That  report did not make The Moncton Times&Transcript. Understandable. They would have had to drop a kite picture to fit it in.

Friday, August 12, 2011

August 12: Transparency in New Brunswick

Obviously, the new tactic of The Moncton Times&Transcript is to report on public activities of the anti-shale gas movement; but not to provide any information on what it is all about. There are many questions that could be aksed of our "transparrent" governments.

1. What study did Shawn Graham's government do before approving eploration for shale gas?
2. Why were regulations not immediately drafted?
3. Why are they still not in place?
4. What research has Mr. Alward's government done? (it wouldn't be expensive. Don't we have google on government computers?)
5. Why have some juisdictions banned fracking?
6. Don't we have geologists in our universities? How come they have not been interviewed?
7. How come there have been no reports of the problems with Fracking in the US?
8. Why aren't we told, as a matter of democratic routine, how mucdh money corpprations and unions donate to the parties - and how much each party gets from such donors?
9. How much of our money went into the U2 concert?
10. How much went to the band? How much to hotels and restaurants?  How much found its way down to the pockets of ordinary rate-payers? How many of the concert and restaurant goers were native Monctoners; and, therefore, did not represent any new money at all? (That's rather important since claiming a profit with money that was always here in the first plact would be more than a little fraudulent.)

Not one of those questions has been addressed by the politicians; and, certainly,  no politicians have been pressured by the Montcton times to answer them. Nor have Times editors bothered to select a reporter to get answers.

Hedard Albert, MLA from Carquet offers a column critical of the Alward government on education policy. The criticism is valid. But he offers no sign that his party has learned anything about education after its disastrous period in government - and still has no policy at all.

The only  column of substance is Alec Bruce's. So I'll indulge myself in  criticizing it.  He argues that the US was engaged in making this a better world. It never was, and cerntainely not in the period of the 1945+ that he cites.

American policy has been consistent since 1775, to make its wealthy even wealthier by the use of military force.   It has been at war almost continuosly since that time. (Indeed, with well over 200 wars on its record, it is surely one of the most aggrewssive counjtries in history.

It fought its native peoples, and took their land and resources. It tried to take Canada. It fought Mexico to steal one-third of Mexican territory. (The war began when the Mexican government attempted to stop American settlers from brining in slaves, since slavery was illegal in Mixico. (Davey Crockett, who became an American hero at the Alamo was, in fact, a slave trder.)
War with Spain gave the US much of Central America where it promptlyly established the dictatorships that were so useful in maintaing a level of poverty that ensured cheap labour,, to this day, for Chiqita Banana, Fruit of the Loom, and Levis. It took Hawaii to make the Doles happy. It took The Phllipines in a particularly brutal war because it wanted a military base to make profits fromcheap labour for American companies, and to challenge the British, French and Dutch looting right s in Asia.

The only democracies ever permitted by the US were those that were US puppets. That's why Aristide of Haiti waas sent into exile. The fool was going to raise the minimum wage from $3 a day to $5. There was also loose talk about building schools and even hospitals. After a century of american control, Haiti remains the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

More commonly, the US has overthrown democratic governments to iinstall dictators - as it did in Iran and Guatemala.

Today, the US stands where Britain stood in 1945. It's empire is too expensive in money and life to hold onto.  Britain  wisely gave up on the empire game. But the greed of American corporations is so great, it will not permit any retreat, no matter how great the cost in money and lives and suffering. I mean, presidents of Exxon are not suffering. Indeed, the incomes of the very rich have gone up even as some 50 million american live on food stamps.

The US is determined to gain world domination. But it's not to help the world. Make a list of the democracies the US has created. Make a list of how much foreign aid is given out in the form of weapons rather than food. Make a list of the billions in aid that are publicly promised but never delivered. (Sart with Haiti.)

No. I would not look to othe US for leadersup to a peaceful and prosperous world. The American people are as victimized as all of the rest of us by this. The problem is not hte pople. It is a coporate leadership in the western world gone made on greed, a sense of entitlement, and a militatnly anti-Christian/Judaic, Islamic phi8losophty that makes greed and indifference to the suffering of others into virtues.

They also own all the major private news mecia in North America.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

August 11: A newspaper is supposed to carry news......

....but not The Moncton Times and Transcript.

The front page, for the second day in a row features a picture of people jumping in the water. Pages A8 to A11 were about kites (and mostly just pictures of kites).NewsToday wastes a large space on the colour picture of the nose of a seal. There is no story. It's just the nose of a seal. Another page has a photo of a rainbow in France. Again, there is no story. It's just a picture of a rainbow. In France. With a paper already limited by the enormous space committed to ads, this deliberate waste of space in cutesie pictures is an insult to readers who are paying to get news.

There is almost no information to be had from this paper. There is almost nothing to read. If I had to name the greatest forces in encouraging illiteracy and ignoance in New Brunswick, the leaders would all be from Brunswickmedia.

There were spots of good reporting. For the second day in a row, the coverage of the anti-fracking demonstration at Stanley was covered with reasonsble fairness. The problem now is that the T&T while recognizing opposition  to shale gas development (at last) has still not given us any information on the subject. Quebec has a moratorium on such development. Doesn't the T&T have a telephone? Couldn't they call Quebec to ask why?

France has banned it. Why? Are we allowed to know? Surely an e mail requiest could be sent without breaking the bank.

There is an amusing comment by Premier Alward in the story. He refused to talk to the demonstrators who were blocking the road to the drilling site because he doesn't talk to paople who are breaking the law. (Actually, he rarely talks at all, probably because he recognizes he has nothing to say. He prefers to play to his strength, standing still with his eyes open as though he's listening..)

So, he won't talk to demonstrators who are breaking the law....I can't help remembering how  Mr. Irving  broke the constitution by publicly delcaring he was a member of the government. Mr. Alward agreed that Mr. Irving and his friends, without being elected, would do the the major job normally done in a democracy by our elected members - planning the economiy. I guess it all depends...

The editorial is the usual blather of ignorance and bias. Apparently, the editor is of the opinion that the way to fix the problem of people out of work is to put more people out of work.

There is a hilarious opinion piece by Alec Bruce. It also, like much real humour,  carries s a chilling message if you think about it.

Norbert Cunningham seems more comfortable now that he picks his topics in areas that interest him. Today's is worth a read. So, as ever, is Jody Dallaire's column on why so few women become economists.  I think, though, she leaves out an important element. Of all academic fields (with the possibly exception of Political Science), Economics is the one with the lushest growth of biased ideologues and academic prostitutes for whoever has the price..

Assistant Managing Editor Rod Allen opened his op ed page columns with the statement that he is going to talk about the U2 concert, even though most people are fed up with hearing about it. Like most people, I suspect, I was fed up with the mindless jabber weeks before the show even arrrived. So I didn't read his column.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August 9: The word "fracking" appeared, and in Section A!

Page  2 carries a "fracking" story At last. It's even a truthful and journalistically respectable account. It's too brief to be really useful. But it's a huge improvement on the asence of any news we have been getting on the issue.

It has finally dawned on somebody that the strategy of withholding information about facking has been a big mistake. We still haven't had enough (or honest enough) information on the issue - and the Moncton Times&Tribune and Mr. Alward have been scandalously reponsible for that. Nor do I think we're going to start getting it from those worthies. What is more likely is that this signals some change of strategy, an attempt at a soft sell (perhaps with more interviews with collaborative "experts",)

Section C shows the T&T is beginning - though just beginning - to recognize the seriousness of the riots in Britain. Relying on Pestmedia for its news. the T&T is still trivializing the riots as "gangs of crminials". Maybe. But given the size and spread of the riots, that explanation sounds simplistic. It is surely more likely that these riots are a sort of "British Spring" that are showinig up profound social problems made worse from the days of Thatcher through Tony Blair and now to Cameron. Police cannot solve  a problem that was caused by a greed and indifference that has been inflicted on a society already crippled by class snobbery. The problem is not rioters. The problem is rulers.

There is another story from Postmedia which, as Postmedia usually does, try to shift discussion from the real causes of the problem, and  to aim all our concern and anger at straw men. In this case,  the problem is the recent stock market turmoil. The straw men are the politicians. Yes, it's all because this is the "sillyy season" in US politics; and business has lost confidence in the politicians.

Yessiree. If big business were running the show, if we could just get rid of those politicisns, then the markets would be fine. That's a childish anlysis.

1. It was big business that caused this recession in the first place. Unregulated capitalism, with all its greed and its lack of concern for anything but short-term profit, is what began the recession and is what is driving making even worse.
2. The politicians in the US are cerntarinly acting silly. But that's because big business bribes them to act that way. And what helps big corporations to get away with that that sort of corrupt behaviour is corporate ownership of newspapers - as in the case of Bunswickmedia. And Postmedia. It is not a coincidence that The Moncton Times buys much of its national news from Postmedia.
3. The Tea Party movement, which makes any usuful action by the US impossible, is a direct result of the propganda, fear, and lies generated by privately owned news media.

Yiu will notice that very little of our news is devoted to what is happening to the poor in all this, and to what we should be doing about them. That's because a)corporations and most news media don't give a damn about the poor, and b) they intend to blame the poor for causing the recession.

Sure. In fact, most of the wealth produced in the US and Canada has been has been going into the pockets of the super rich - and it has stayed there so that almost one-third of Americans now live in poverty. Combined with their greed, the super rich have been financially reckless, have plunged us into expensive wars, and have corrupted our politicians. That's why we have a recession.

But you'll never see a hint of that in Postmedia or The Moncton T&T. They'll be taking aim at old age security pesnions, health care, and other frivolous luxuries. Watch Obama's budget cuts. You'll see them in social spending. You won't see cuts in military spending. You won't see any rise in taxes of the super-rich, even though their real tax payments are very low. Watch for the same behaviour in Canada. Alward has already cut spending for schools. But he hasn't raised the cost of energy for those favoured interests who get special rates.

In short, there are only two reasons to buy today's Moncton paper. One is that the T&T has at least attempted to write an honest report about an anti-fracking deomonstration.

The other is Alec Bruce's column on the economic crisis, and how it is also a social crisis.. It is a piece of writing that combines fire, anger, realism - and the common sense we have not had from most of our news media.  I would urge everyone to buy The Moncton Times and Trnascript just for that column.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

August 9: They noticed the economic crisis!

It didn't make section A. Page A1 was reserved for a picture of girls jumping into the water, a kite fest, an article on how rainy it is (for those who haven't noticed it); and the rest of the section is just as good.

But the big story of the day make the NewsToday section  - as "World markets  rattled".  Rattled, though, is surely an understatement as in - "Hiroshima day marred by atomic bomb".

As well, the story reassures us that it is " unlikely the US well reenter recession amd drag Camada along with it".   Cute. Very cute. The economist who said that is defining recession as a time when the rich are losing money. They aren't so, by those terms we're in good times. The reality in the US is that aome 50 million people are living on good stamps. Over a quarter of all American children are living in poverty. True enough, that's not a recession. That's a depression. And the suffering will grow to be much worse as the US cuts spending for the poor to give lush contracts to the defence industry.

Watch for the next stage of the Times and Transcript reaction as we feel the recession more keenly. It will demand cuts in provincial services to most New Brunswickers, but insist on welfare for coroporations, welfafe in the form of tax cuts, energy prices, subsidies, "stimulation" projects.

The argument will be that welfare for the rich will revive the economy. The paper may even call on a trusted authority like professor Savoie to asssure us that cutting taxes to the rich will pull us out of the slump.

Of course, corporate welfare in any form will do no such thing. You don't need a degree in economics to figure that out. For almost a century, Haiti has had close to no business taxes at all, no regulations, no social services - and it has produced considerable wealth, particularly in clothing and food exports. But all that wealth has stayed in the pockets of the very rich - Haitians who produce those goods remain the poorest in the western world.

But just you watch the Alward puppet government and the puppet T&T. Our masters  haven't finished with us yet.  Bad times are good for those who can make money out of cheap labour and low corporate taxes.

As well,  the T&T has at last noticed the British riots, now spreading from London to other cities. The story resports that the British gtovernment has blamed the riots on opportunistic criminals. In fact, the British goveronment abandoned that version a day ago - long before the T&T went to press. Now,
Britain admits the riots have more to do with anger at the failure of government to deal realistically with the recession by taxing the rich and helping the poor. That would go a long way to revive the economy.Jesus didn't feed the multititude by keeping all the breat and fishses for himself and the disciples.

That explains why the US is not able to deal with its economic crisis. The super rich, who hold so much of the nationa's wealth that they could balance the budget on their taxes alone, are determined not to pay a cent. They are going to force the poor and what is left of the middle class to pay the price. Expect the same (actually, more of the same) from Alward - or from the Liberals should anybody be dumb enough to elect them again.)

There are two, solid columns by Alec Bruce and Gwynne Dyer. The top of the op ed page has its usual opinion column written by a staff writer. It could be titled, "Wow! What about that U2 show, eh?"

There is no mention of fracking in New Brunswick. No pictures. No explanation. No notice of where it's happening. No mention of local reactions.

But, of course, that's not as important as how great the U2 show was, and who we shoul get for next year to draw all those American tourists just looking for a place to spend their food stamps.

Monday, August 8, 2011

August 8: missing the news - and hiding the news.

Last last night, I made up a quick list of major news items, suggesting we should look at today's Times and Transcript to see how many they noticed. What I found this morning was a mixture of missing the news - and hiding it.

Section A had nothing at all. The closest it came to a major story was  one on the rise of power rates.It all depends, we are told, on the government's "vision" of the future of enrgy power in NB. Evidently, the reporter and the editor don't read their own newspaper. It was months ago the TandT reported that  planning for the provnice's economic future had been handed over by Alward to a self-appopinted group, mostly of business leaders. (and that was just a recognition of how economic plans have always been made in this province.)

It's typical day at the Moncton T&T. 

NB Power's Director of Corporate Relations said that the government would later be able to give a fulsome report on plans. No doubt. But before that report comes out, the, the director, the reporter and the news editor should check the meaning of fulsome. (I have no doubt the report will be fulsome.)

NewsToday, on its first page, put the economic crisis at the botton of the page - and discussed it only as game playing by the Democrats and Republicans.

PageC2 has two stories on the debt crisis, neither of which explains what caused it, who holds the economic cards, or what is being done.

The demonstations in Israel at last made the T&T - but in a way that journalists call hiding the story. The story is that Israelis have been protesting the impoverishing os the whole nation in order to make a handful of people very, very rich. This is exactly what has been happening in Canada and the US. The difference is that Canadians and Americans are a pretty passive lot. They will accept any kind of abuse.  Israelis will not. This is a protest that strikes at the heart of Israel's economic system; and its dmands are not likely to be adequately met.

How does one hide such a story?  You pu t it under a headline that gives it a positive spin. You don't say, "Quarter Million Israelis demonstrate to protest greed of the rich in Israel". No. you write a headline that says everying is under control. "Israeli leader sets group to address protester demands".

It's rather as if a man were the break a politician's leg with a sledgehammer; and the headline were to read "Hospital treats injured politician."  You hide the story with a weak headline. Readers yawn, and turn the page.

On the same page, we have the helicopter crash in Afghanistan headlined "NATO investigates deadly Afghan helicopter crash." That looks propoerly sad - but not critical. The real story is this. Our leaders have been claining that the Taliban are on the run; and we can soon leave because the Afghan government is in control. The truth is the opposite.

The Taliban appear to be stronger and more popular than ever. The downed helicopter may have been shot down by Taliban. The death toll for NATO and the rate of civilian deaths are both ono the rise. You can get that reading the whole story. But  journalists know that most people won't. They'll read "NATO investigages deadly Afghan helicopter crash"; and turn the page.

Pause for p. D5 for the comics, a world entirely populated by white people.

On D6, the editorial cartoon hos noticed there is an economic crisis on. Thank God for small blessings. (TGFSB).

Alec Brice's column is the only one to grasp how serious this is, and to give some esplanation of why it is happening. For decades, the super rich in places like the US, Israel, and Canada (even New Brunswick) have been sytematially impovershing us by avoiding taxes, expanding their access to cheap labour countries (setting up revolutions in those that don't go cooperate), using our taxes to fight wars that benefit them,  corrupting politicians. As a result the greater part of our national wealth has ended up in their pockets. Now, they have no customers left among us. But not to worry. They'll still make profits by making us a cheap labour country, and by cutting off frills (like health care and food) for the rest of us.  And in this venture they can count ono the full support of all the news media and politicans that they own.

Allan Abel contributes a useful piece in his story of the "recession" that is really a depression in most of the US..

What didn't make the news? Even in hidden form?

There was no report on a poll showing Conservative support nationally is going down the tubes.

There was no story of how Asian stocks went down the tubes yesterday because of the collapse of any hopes for the American economy.

There was no mention that Alward has given premission for drilling for shale gas along the Miramichi. I wonder how they could miss that. Don't some people get drinking water from the Miramichi? Quite a few people?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 7: What will not be in the Moncton Times on August 8?

I write this close to midnight on news picked up in a casual few minutes. It is all news that was available well before The Moncton Times and Transcript was put to bed. So here's a check list on some of the stires that should be in the paper on Monday, August 8. Let'a see how many make it.
1. Alward has given permission for frilling for shale gas by the Miramichi, an area highly sensitives if there whould be environmenatl damage.
2. Israel has had a second weekend of massive demonstrations against the government - much like those iwe called "the arab spring"'  The Moncton Tand T didn't think the first one worth reporting. Will it report the second? NO clear numbers are available - but somewhere between a quarter million and a million.
3.Asian stock markets have slumped on news that the US credit rating has been cowngraded. That makes Monday a very important day for our markets, a day that could affect all of  us. Will the TandT bother to mention that?
4. London has suffered to nights of violent rioting, a sign of the strain developing in Britain, as well as throughout Europe..
5. Conservative support is slipping badly in Canada.

So let's make a list, and check those that make it into the Tand\T.