Monday, November 7, 2011

Nov.7: the nothing news

I have no doubt that Ian Fowler was an important figure in the life of Moncton.  But to devote most of the front page, then five more pages of  an already skimpy local news section to it is far excessive. It was also distasteful to see a man's premature death written up in the language of small town boosterism.

The only other item that made the front page was yet another non-story on the wine expo.

As to other local stories, readers will be shocked and surprised that the executive director of the Moncton YMCA likes animals. And yet another business speaker is coming to speak in Moncton. Tickets are $27 - and they give you a site where you can get them, and what time it starts, and everything. Moncton is big on business speakers. They, and wine-tasters, appear to be the only signs of intellectual and cultural life in the city.

National and world news scarcely exists. The TandT which has never explained what the Occupy movement is about - though one would think the demand for rule by us rather than by corporate bosses is clear enough - which has never provided coverage of it - has now come to life with a story that people are getting tired of it. Well, of course, who wants to talk about democracy when there's a wine expo on, and when you can get tickets for a business speech for just $27?

They did carry the story about a Canadian getting beaten by Israeli troops who boarded a boat carrying medical supplies to Gaza. (As we all know, carrying medical supplies to people who need them is illegal. Not sure why. But I'm sure there's a good reason.)  Anyway, Harper thinks it was a good idea to stop Canadians in international waters, and jail them. That's good enough for me.

There's a story on a Guatemala election in which a general (susrprise, surprise) won the presidency. It's an interesting story - full of examples of how Reuters can tell the truth without telling the truth.

For example, the new president was a major figure in what Reuters calls a "civil war" in Guatemala. In fact, it was a mass slaughter, mostly of civilians, carried out by the army under the direction of the CIA. President Clinton apologized publicly for it. (Why would he apologize for a 'civil war' in another country?)

Whole villages from elderly to babies were massacred, then buried, with many still alive, by bulldozers. The UN found that 93 percent of the atrocities were committed by the state. The new president, General Perez, was a leading figure in the atrocities. But Reuters assures us that he is regarded as a "progressive" person.

Reuters reports that Guatemala has the largest economy in Central America - coupled with over half the population living well below any poverty line, and with one of the hightest rates of child malnutrition in the world. Gee. How could that happen? Is it possilbe that the giant American corporations which control Guatemala's profitable coffee and sugar farming are ripping off the poor as cheap labour?

Perez promises to fix that with social services. But he will not do it by raising taxes. No. He will collect his 14% tax rates by  chasing after the poor and catching evaders. Meanwhile, he will continue to tax coffee and sugar corporations at the civilized rate of 11% (most of which they don't pay, anyway.)

Why does this remind me of New Brunswick?

There is, of course, no mention of the CIA's use of drones for indiscriminate murder, no mention of Harper's plan to buy 500,000 flags to celebrate the Queen while at the same time cutting the Veterans' Affairs budget.

Oh, yes. There is a story on how Mount A is rated by MacLean's as the best small university in Canada. There is, in fact, no such thing as a best university. Nor are there any generally agreed criteria for measuring the quality of a university. That Canadian Council on Learning - a federal group, now disbanded by Harper - recently reported that all Canadian universities were dysfunctional. It was being kind.

The MacLean's ranking of universities is a fraud cooked up to sell magazines. Most professors know that. But university administrators have lacked the integrity to say so. Instead, they all scramble to win the approval of magazine editors by doing whatever the magazine editors say a good university should do.  That doesn't make the universities bad teaching institutions. They already were bad before MacLean's began its reviews. What it does, though, is to make them even worse as university administrators who should be workiing to improve university quality instead roll on their backs hoping MacLean's eidtors will tickle their tummies.

Some hints for our tough-minded investigative reporters at the TandT. How much of our education budget is paid out to private contractors? How do the costs  compare to the days when the education department did its own work?

How much do corporations actually pay in income taxes in this province? How much does the province give them in reduced electricity rates, land rights, subsidies, loans, etc.?  How much will it cost us to maintain roads damaged by heavy, fracking equipment?

Does the TandT have a computer? If so, go to google. Try typing things like Blackpool, shale gas, earth tremors - or Project for the New American Century. Or International Crime Commission Libya. Or US drone killings. Or, for real fun, Canada government reports Irving news media.

Not everything appears in Reuters and Postmedia.


  1. The man's death, while unfortunate, again helps to illustrate what a hick town newspaper the T&T really is. Talk about "overkill".

  2. Here is an interesting editorial from the Edmonton Journal on Fracking.

    Even in Alberta, the oil capital of canada, fracking is seen as something that is a bit dodgy.

  3. Great Blog, my friend. Thanks for doing this! I'll be following and sharing this! Thanks.

  4. Very nice Blog.
    An Alternate info source on NB issues is desperately needed. I have been discussing an Alt Free Press with some others recently and are in the first stages of discussions on our options. This Blog looks like it could be a step in the right direction in that Goal, as well.

    I will add you to my To Read List and hope to have the time to follow your work. Maybe we can discuss the Free Press Initiative sometime. Would you be interested in joining with other like mined individuals on a Project like that?

    I am registered in a Ryerson Journalism Project and am trying to decide which Project would be mutually beneficial to Democratic Concerns in our area and my studies.

    Just an consideration at this point :)

  5. Not to make light of the man's passing, but the Times&Transcript's "overkill" coverage of the man's death actually serves to denigrate the man and his many accomplishments. Whether T&T managers realize it, through their excessive coverage, which was way over the top, they turned the man into a local punchline. That is a tragedy, given all that he accomplished for Moncton.