Saturday, August 20, 2011

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?

1 comment:

  1. 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. BUT...Graeme.. did Mr. alexander really say that or is the "newspaper" editorializing with that paraghraph? Granted..Alexaabder probably DID say it...but i do not see any attribution per se....so who really knows just where that comment came from???????
    AND...we must not forget that Romeo Cormier really IS a bad dude....i'm surprised they didn't find a way to tie him into the concert to end all concerts...,you know the one....that only Moncton could put on!!!!!!!!

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