Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 31 again: Flash for The Moncton T&T

The  very reputable British paper, The Guardian, in its issue of May 30, confirms that there are western troops on the gound in Libya. It says they are probably British SAS, and they are working with t he rebels.

Ready to bet you won't see that story in the T&T for Wednesday?

We're at war. Nobody has approved it. We haven't even been told.So much for the sacrifice of a hundred thousand Canadians in two world wars and Korea.
I also want to apologize for saying the T&T is the worst paper I have ever seen. Today, I read its sister paper, The Telegraph-Jounral. For vileness, ignorance and malice, today's editorial on education makes the T&T look refined.
I think I'll pass on  the third, ugly sister -    The Fredericton Gleaner.

May 31: How to say nothing - and charge money for it.

Today was really a zero day for the The Moncton Times&Tribune - unless you really, really care that an actor named Colin Farrell turns 35 today. Only a couple of pages are worth even negative comments.

The biggest story in NewsToday begins with a picture of Harper shaking hands with a soldier in Afghanistan. Another big one is a pointless stream of gush that somebody named Williamson is ready to go to Ottawa. I'm glad to hear it. I was worried that after getting elected he wouldn't go.

They do mention Libya where our air force is busy killing people. There is no mention of why. The UN gave them permission to patrol Libyan skies to enforce a no-fly zone for humanitarian reasons. (So why don't we have no-fly zones over Bahrain, Gaza and Pakistan? - Also Yemen where the US has used drone bombers.) The reality is we are are not simply enforcing a no-fly zone.

We are fighting for one side. This almost certainly will lead to a commitment to send in ground troops. (In fact, they are already there as British, French and US  "advisors" and "technicians".) We are in another war. We are, without any national or parliamentary debate, at war. The right to decide when and where we would go to war is what our soldiers died for in two world wars. At least, that's what we say every November 11. And forget every November 12.

Apparently, either nobody at the T&T knows that - or nobody gives a damn about the over a hundred thousand Canadians who were killed.

Most of Libya news in the T&T comes from Reuters. The T&T has to pay for it. Here's a money-saving tip for T&T. Hire an office boy for minimum wage. Have him go to google, and type in Hifter Libya Washington Post.

The Washington Post has an interview in its issue of May 26 with Colonel Hifter, formerly of the Libyan army. He defected to the US and took a job as a CIA "asset". He was then smuggled back to Libya where he stirred up and became the major leader of the current rebellion. What a conincidence!

So why are we killing people in Libya?

The business page, always dreadful, has today respelled dreadful as dreary.The major story is about CEOs in the Atlantic region holding a gala to give each other awards and congratulate each other for their brilliance. There were 50 awards. To get that many CEOs, they must have included mom and pop convenience stores.

The editorial and op ed pages include the usual neo-conservative "think tank" propaganda. This time there there are two commentaries, both from The Frontier Insitute. And both unsually silly, even for The Frontier Institute.

Ben Eisen attacks environmentalists as radicals who have been proven wrong. His first proof is a book by David Frum. Young David is a far right crackpot bordering on fascism (even by the standards of The Frontier Institute) who knows nothing about environment - or any other subject he writes about.

Then Eisen tells us that predictions of economic and social collapse have proven wrong as living standards have gone up all over the world.

Hasn't anybody told Mr. Eisen about the millions in the US unemployed,, and those who have lost their homes? Anybody slip him a word about conditions in Europe with at least Spain and Greece close to rebellion? Then there's Africa which has so much economic and social collapse that even the T&T has noticed it. (Some of it.)

China has one fifth of  the world's population.  Has its living standards risen?  They have if you're one of the small number of very rich. They're rich because they make piles of money out of a billion people working cheaply for long hours, and often in dangerous conditions.

The average gross per capita income in China is eight hundred and sixty five dollars per year. That would translate for the average family of three to something like $2400 a year. But that figure includes an upper class who count their incomes in the billions.  China is hugely prosperous as a nation, hugely prosperous for its business leaders.  But not so hot if you're an ordinary Chinese.

To that we can add India, almost a populous as China but with an average income of five hundred dollars a year. In both countries, as in the US and Canada, the bulk of the wealth has been pouring into the pockets of a very few. And the proportion going to the very rich has been growing for years.

Mr. Eisen also dismisses warnings of food shortages. I guess  he never heard of the disaster of Russian wheat production last year, or of the expected disaster for this year. Nor has he heard of the crisis of rice production and of food prices in Asia.

It's not Mr. Eisen's politics that bother me here. It's his ignorance and/or lyng. No decent paper would print this. He is accompanied as a commentator by David Seymour, whose comments on the taxi industry are, to say the least, lightweight.

Cute picture of Alec Bruce, though.

Monday, May 30, 2011

for readers in t he Moncton area

The Moncton current events group will hold its monthly meeting on Thursday, June 2, at 2 p.m., in the Moncton Public Library.
I'll open with a few comments on the subject. Then you raise any topic you wish to explore further.
All are welcome.

May 30: How to spot bad editing...

Opinion columns normally appear clearly labelled as opinions (as on the editorial and op ed pages). Opinions that appear as news stories are deceptive. Though appearing as objective news of something that has happened, they wre usually opinions of what has happened.  In fact, they are commonly just propaganda. .On the front page of today's Moncton Times&Transcript are at least four stories that are more opinion than news.

This sort of thing is not the fault of the reporter. The person who decides what will appear on a page, and how it will appear, is the editor. Young reporters learn the basic principles of their craft from good editors. That's a tough break for young reporters who make their start with Brunswick News.

"City's recreation plans on track" screams a headline on page 1. ":...each park will be defined by its surrounding community's wants and needs, all thanks to public input." Nonsense.

What happened is  the city held public meetings on the subject. That city plans are on track is simply an opinion of the City government. So ar the statements that the community will make the decisions, and all this is thanks to public input.

We have no idea whether the plans are on track. We have no idea how influential public opinion was (or how many of the public expressed no opinion at all). We don't know whether there will be a "vast improvement", not unless some of us can see into the future. We don't even know the qualifications of  the city's parks and leisure services. It takes considerable training to do such work. I know that because it happens I taught a university course in it.

In connection with that training, the parks and playgrounds movement in Canada was begun over a century  ago by Mabel Peters of Fredericton (And I can safely guess that no member of Moncton City Council has ever heard of her.) The idea was not just to provide play space, but to offer programmes run by people trained in using the playground to develop intellectual and social skills.

Public consultation is not much help in that. If you think it is, then you must be all in favour of holding referenda on how brain surgery should be performed.

Then there's "NB Liberals begin to rebuild". In this one, we are told that the "renewal" process (so much nicer than rebuilding) has notthing to do with losing the last election, but with "isolating areas of inefficency". If the report had mentioned this beginning with the words - "according to chairwoman Kim Rayworth..."- that would have been fine. That would have presented the view as simply her opinion.

But it began, "However, as chairwoman Kim Rayworth said..." The However, as... turns this from ms. Rayworth's opioin into a statement of fact. That may seem a small point. But it twists the meaning of the story; and a good editor would notice that.

"Moncton beer fest a big hit". Well, again, this is an opinion. A statement of fact might be a whole lot of Monctonians enjoyed doing at the Coliseum what they normally do most day, chugging brewskies. When you see "Moncton beer fest a big hit", you know this is a story of pure fluff.

"Sea Dogs make N.B. proud". Well, I feel happy to live here. Nice province. Nice people. But I really don't give much of a damn who wins the Memorial Cup. Nor, I'm sure, am I the only person in the world who feels that way. And if I did give a damn, I can't see why it should be a cause of pride for me; I didn't score any goals in the game.  Nor am I blown away by the personal pride of the office clerk in Singapore whose soccer team just won a trophy.

Anyway, the headline should be about the story. But the story is a standard one, much like the story of any hockey game that has ever been played. There's not a word in it about who is proud or why. This is just feel-good slush.

More slush on page A3. "McKenna gives $1M to the Miramichi."  It is full of gushing opinion. "...as  heartfelt expression of gratitude to his beloved Miramichi...."   Unless writing gush, a reporter should report only what can be seen and heard. Nobody can see or hear whether anything is heartfelt.

Too bad. There was an interesting story tucked away in this blurb. How come a man who spent fifteen of his prime earning years as an MLA has a million dollars to spare?

In other questionable editorial work, the skimpy NewsToday section squeezed out some space to cover the war in Libya, passport changes, a Canadian soldiers' death in Afghanistan, the plight of flood victims in Quebec and Manitoba. But at least a quarter of the section was devoted to Prime Minister Harper's visit to a war graves area in Greece. It was certainly thoughtful of the Prime Minister to do so as a gesture to his communications director, whose grandfather was killed there.  But over a quarter of a cramped NewsToday section?

The editorial was its usual, knee-jerk  vapidity. It calls on government to bring in more immigrants (largely, as has always been true in Canada, as a source of cheap labour). It also fears that if we don't get such labour, business may move elsewhere. For that reason, the editorial also suggests a law to force New Brunswick immigrants to stay here for at least five years - so they won't drift off to jobs in Ontario and Alberta.

Let's seen, now. As I understand it, big business in New Brunswick insists that goernment intervention in the capitalist process is bad, that capitalism words best in free markets because the free market is a sort of magic wand that solves all problems.

If we insist people stay here instead of going to where the good jobs are, isn't that interfering with the magic wand of the free market? And if the government spends money to bring immigrants here to supply jobs that Candians, in a free market, are not interested in - well, isn't that inteference in the free market?

What are you, Norbert? Some kind of a communist?

Finally, check out the letters to the editor. Two of the letters concern shale gas. The government and the Moncton Times have both said development of shale gas lies at the heart of NB development. But we've only had one news article on it. Most of what we know we have to get from the letters to the editor.

Donne-moi un break.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

May28: better and better

Today, The Moncton Times and Transcript front page had a special report that was a real special report. It dealt with the growing use of the private sector for the building and maintenance of projects that have normally been entirely public.

The reporter, Jacques Gallant, did a good job of it, too. I have a heavy bias on this topic. But even someone as biased as I am would have to admit that the story gave a well-balanced outline of both sides in the debate.

I could have lived without the free ad disguised as a news story to hype a rock concert on the first page. But one shouldn't expect change to come both completely and immediately.

The commentaries by local students in the "Whatever" section were , as usual, impressive. They commonly take light subjects. But, instead of writing them up as trivia (as their elders do), they make them thought-provoking. This Saturday, I particularly commend Christina Korotkov, a grade ten student age 16, who has a more mature understanding of life just from watching movies that I had figured out by  age 50.

The one weakness of this page is that it needs more careful editring. That is not a criticism of the writers. Even pros need good editing - and newspapers have seen a sharp decline in good editring for decades. That's why I frequently see run-one sentences, non-sentences, clumsy sentences, non-words, excess verbiage, and basic errors of spelling.

This page can be an excellent learning experience for the students, as well as being an enjoyable read for the rest of us. But it really needs much tighter editing. And it needs to be done in the old way, by a fussy, difficult, nit-picker, an old hand who still wears a vest, rolls up his sleeves and reeks of tobacco.

The NewsToday section remains weak. There is so little space for foreign and Canadian news, there is no point in carrying it. The selection of news also seems to be made on the basis of reinforcing our own propaganda. We rarely see news that suggests "our side" is doing anything wrong.

Most people get their news from TV, or the web. If a paper is not prepared to devote space and expertise to foreign and Canadian news  (and business), they should just drop it, and save some trees.

Similarly, the editorials should go. TV and radio producers do not give themselves opinion sections. They recognize that producers have no special expertise on anything but producing. As well, most radio and TV stations do not claim that the station itself has an opinion.  (Admittedly, though, that is changing as some TV networks now market themselves by giving  their market audience the news it wants to hear.   (Fox TV is a good example. It's unethical and it's lying. But it seems to be the coming thing.)

The hypocrisy (and ignorance) of eidtorial opinion is shown in today's lead editorial. The writer advises premier Alward to consult scientists and statisticians - and to ignore special interest groups - on the issue of fracking to develop shale gas deposits.
1. This advise comes from a newspaper that exists only because it serves special interest groups with biased reporting and propaganda editorials.
2. The writer shows very little understanding of scientists or statisticians. Scientists often desagree sharply with each other. (Hitler had no trouble finding reputable scientists to support his racial ideas and his persecution of Jews.)
      Statstics, the same set of statistics, can be used to prove wildly conflicting ideas.  As one statistician put it, "If you torture statistics enough, they will tell you whatever trueh you want to hear." The educational statistics poured out by Atlantic Institute of Market Studies are a good example of torture.

There is no such thing as a final proof in either science or statistics.

All of this makes today's editorial is a good example why we should not have editorials.

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 27: A good day for The Moncton times&tramscro[t

At last; the first real coverage of the controversy over shale gas. It really doesn't say much; so the words "Special Report" sound just a touch dramatic. We are left wondering why our two, major parties have not discussed this with us years ago. We are left wondering why exploration has been going on without significant government regulation, and without any information from the T&T. We wonder why Quebec has felt it necessary to impose a moratorium on drilling - and New Brunswick hasn't.

We know nothing about the companies doing the drilling - not wno they are or what their records are. We have know indications whether we will get anything adequate of the profits from these projects - or whether we will simply become the Saudi Arabia of Canada, with all the profits going to the companies and to the royal families of New Brunswick.

Still, it's a start. Let's see what happens.

The Life&Times editor goofed on p. D5 by running a   story on  how men who look brooding are sexy. That's important, of course. But the same story appeared just a few days ago in another section.

The editorial made good sense. Norbert Cunningham wrote an eminently useful article on how to write.  Om fact. I plan to distribute copies to , my writing class.

The only black spot was another piece of soft sell on building a wildly and prohibitvely expensive hockey arean downtown. This gem comes from well-named Nancy Whipp who tries to whip up enthusiasm for this greed-driven idea by adding the usual temptation of an events centre - plus a museum, art gallery, community spaces, farmers' market (she suggests , with "farmer's market" that only one farmer would use it. Doesn't Norrbert edit that page?).

All of this would, of course, would be a public-private ventture - which usually means taxpayers pick up most of the costs, and private business picks up the profits.

She does noot mention how much all the additional spaces, library, museum, art gallery, etc. would cost. That would certainly take us over the already soaring $84,000,000. Amd that does not count the cost of maintaining and bringing up to national standards of the library, museum, art gallery, etc. Nor does she mention who owns the land on which this would be built.

Still, this was a stellar edition for The Moncton Times&Transcript.

Oh, apologies for not giving credit where credit was due yesterday. The op ed page of May 26 had an excellent commentary on corporate child care by Jody Dallaire. This is a first rate warning on a topic of importance to all of us - big business moving in on profits to made out of our children. They're doing it to our public schools, and they've been moving in even on pre-schoolers.

Finally, There is an interesting letter to the editor from Jay Leger "A Shame Spelliing no longer required".  He's quite right. Spelling is getting terrible. But I think it wrong to blame the schools for that. One learns how to spell and to write by reading. We live in a world that, by stages, has been pushing reading into the background for close to a century. Spare time  is given over to increasingly passive amusements - radio, then TV, now computers.

Business leaders think the answer lies in encouraging competition with "how many books can you read in a week" contests. That's because business leaders don't know anything about education. Very few children learn much by competing. As well, reading a book as fast as you can is not likely to engender any love for reading. In graduate school, I had to get through four or five and more books a day, in addition to other work. The joy I'd had for reading through my childhood was pretty much destroyed by that.

As t's not just schools that teach children. It's the example of parents and friends and community. And there ain't much readin' goin' on there, neither, nohow. Them's too busy burnin' up calories by watching Jerry Springer.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May26: O Canada. O dear.

When they were in power, the NB Liberals enforced the daily playing of O Canada in our schools - on the theory this would make students patriotic/ If the Conservatives want to to rise from that level of idiocy, they should take a break from singing with their hands over their hearts, and so some reading. Amost any book on Canadian history would be a good start.

The distinction of our form of government is that our politicians are responsible to us for what they do. (If any politicians read this, I add a hint. That's why we call it responsiible govrnment.) The expectation is that the governing party works from some set information and of principles; that it enacts laws in accordance with those principles. No law should stand on its own. All laws should have a place within the general principles of the party.

To shuffle off that responsibility to the voters in the form of a referendum strikes at the very root of our system of government. It also doesn't work. In forty years of university teaching, I never met an authority on the subject of politics who thought referenda were a good idea. But there's another weakness even more terrible.

Voting in a referendum requires that the voters have information about it. The only print information available to most of us is The Moncton Times&Transcript, a sheet with a long record of bias, false information, and ignoting of  important information. It is not possible to have an informed public if it has to rely on Brunswick Press.

Private radio and TV in New Brunswick are minor branch offices. Most of their programming is trivial. In radio, it is commonly dominated by 50 year old men going on 16 who spend the day playing the hit parade from fortieth to first and back again. Even if the stations were not biased (and they are), they don't have either the staff or the skills to offer intelligent news for a referendum. The closest they come is phone-in hosts who don't know what they're talking about with phone in guests who don't know what they're talking about, either.

 CBC radio and TV are far better. But, again, New Brunswick is a branch operation, short on the reporting staff it needs. CBC also knows that Harper is eagerly waiting a chance to put an end to it.

So far, Alward has given every sign of being a weak leader. What he is telling us now is that he doesn't want to be a leader at all.

Watch for The Moncton T&T to come down heavily in favour of referenda.

Interesting, though,  to at last see some recognition that a search really is going on for shale gas in NB. It wasn't much of a story; (it showed no sign of reportorial research.) But one comment was revealing.
Councillor Allan Ayles said medi-fuelled paranoia was colouring  people's reactions...

What medi-fuelled paranoia? Is the good councillor referring to Brunswick press? Which has said scarcely a word? Or are all people who disagree with Mr. Ayles paranoid?

That sort of comment is the hallmark of the politicians who hasn't the vaguest idea what he's talking about. Remember the name of Allan Ayles. He looks like a prospect for leader of the Conservatives or the Lbierals. Maybe even editor of The Moncton Times&Transcript.

Finally, for an example of how the news can report an event without really saying anything is in NewsToday, "Can Jets Are Busy over Libya."

Canada, with NATO was authorized by the UN to impose a "no fly zone" over that country. It has long since gone past that role - without our news media seeming to notice it. We are now fighting essetnally a ground war, and taking one side in a civil war. Jack Layton says he's concerned NATO will soon have "boots and the ground". In fact, NATO has had boots on the ground in the form of "advisors' and  "special ops" for weeks. It is now sending in ground attack helicopters - which have nothing to do with no fly zones.

(And if we really care about freedom protesters, why are we not imposing no fly zones on Bahrain and Gaza?)

The reality is that, without any discussion, we have been pulled into another American war. We are now in two wars that have nothing to do with us - while,  at the same time, we're at peace. We don't even know what the rebels are fighting for.

Welcome to 1984.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May 25: An afterthought for this day.

Premier Alward, with his visions and "listening to people" style of leadership, reminds me of Shirley Temple, the ultra-cutsie child song and dance star in 1930s films. In later life, she ran for Congress. It was at the height of the disastrous Vietnam War. Reporters asked her wear she stood on the war.

"Well," she said, giving her famed dimples a real workout. They call some people hawks on the war. And other people are doves. So I'm going to be an owl, and I'm going to watch and listen. Then, I'll decide."

The report ended with a video memory - Shirley Temper's head turning side to side as she stared and listened, just like an owl.

If Mr. Alward could practice turning his head, he might be able to use this line.

May 25: men - to look sexy,be moody and ashamed.

Canada is inches away from war as NATO troops go way past their mandate to control a 'No-fly" zone over Libya. With the deploment of special ops troops, "advisors" and ground-attack helicopters, NATO is  openly intervening for one side in a civil war. We are there with our air force commitment - and we almost certainly can't get out of it. We are, the news media likes to say, helping the democracy side. Really? And where is the evidence that democracy has anything to do with this?

And if we are intervening for democracy, how come we aren't intervening in Bahrain, where   Bahrain and Saudi Arabian forces have been torturing and killing democracy supporters?

But why worry? The big news is that is that if men want to make it - they should look broody. But women, should look humble and shy. Men like that. Who would have guessed?

That's the big news in the NewsToday section of The Moncton Times&Transcript, the newspaper that keeps you happy by not telling you anythng.

Meanwhile, the NB Energy Commission report  (carefully written in bureaucratese and largely unintelligible) does make page one. It suggests New Brunswick much look to gas  (presumably methane) which is here in great quantities. We need it, says the report, for transitional puproses.

This would be interesting news, if only we had some information about how we're going to get the stuff.

The seismic testing for shale gas (as it's called) is going on now. The Moncton T&T hasn't said a word. Where is this testing going on? Why have several states as well as Quebec and Nova Scotia declared a moratorium on the method ("fracking") of getting this gas? Why has France banned it? Why did Pennsylvania fine a "fracking" company a million dollars for poisoning the water table, and doing other, severe damage.

Exactly who is the company doing this research? What is their record? Do they plan to sell it (our gas) to us? Or is this for export to other places?  Will our government intervene to make sure our interests are protected? (Just joking, folks. We all know the record of NB governments in intervening to protect us. And current premier Alward seems a well-trained puppy even that that standard.)

If this is such a valuable resource, why are we just handing it out to a private business - and  a foreign private business at that? Who are the psople behind this private business?

Alas! Not only is The Moncton Times&Transcript unlikely to do any of these things, but the Alward government won't do anything, either. (Today's editorial suggests the Alward government has a vision of the future. That's good. Perhaps the eidtorial writer can also tell us what that vision is - the writer's statement is that the vision consists of balancing the budget and moving forward by a system of judicious restaraint.  Right. That means that there vision is to do good things. In a good way. So everbody will like it. Very crisp. Very clear. That's in a class with the goody-goody drivel that they were going to listen to people. Why do I always feel I'm in first year of Sunday School when I hear the politicians in this province?)

Some day, New Brunswickers will have the maturity, integrity and courage to demand that its economic masters answer  these questions.  Some day New Brunswickers will shake off their passivity when the leeches crawl over them to suck them dry.

. Some day. But they don't have much time. It's now or never. If extracting shale gas does half the damage scientists warn about, a good deal of this province could be unlivable.

For operners, Mr. Editor, don't waste your time looking for information in your newspaper. Go to google. Type New Brunswick is NOT for sale.(Dont't ask Mr Irving for permission first.)

It will give you a break from reading the servile swill that appears in your newspaper every day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

may 24: "Moncton has ....grown...and achieved... world-wide attention...

Lord love a duck. The manipulative drivel in my headling appears on the op ed page by a man identified as the chair of our Mayor's seniors advisory committee -  a liaison body  between the mayor, the Moncton City Council, and seniors. God help the seniors. He reads more like a shill for big business.

For operners, I wonder if we could  drop this "The whole world is watching Moncton" idiocy. Moncton is a lovely, small city. I like it. But most of the world has never heard of it. Probably, most of Canada has never heard of it. So let's cooll the rhetoric.

The commentary, by somebody named Ed Graham (the world is almost certainly not watching him, either) is a pitch for the proposed $84,000,000 hockey arena and civic centre. To that he adds delightful boutiques and restaurants and art galleries. And what does this have to do with seniors?

Well, they will be moving into lovely, downtown condos and apartments. And they'll need a place nearby where they can buy tickets so they can watch hockey games, and big-time, world acts like Stars on Ice. And, of course, fine dining and delightful boutiques.

What do we call this? Half-witted? Viviously exploitive? Both?

In the first place, most seniors are in no position to  move into lovelhy apartments and condos downtown. Far more will be wondering how to keep warm where they are as oil prices rise.

Nor are they likely to have a whole lot of money to spare for hockey games or Stars on Ice or trendy little boutiques, or charming restaurants. For a man responsible for seniors in this city, to use them as part of a scam to throw away $84.000,000 of our tax money into the pockets of billionaires in disgusting.

It's true that our seniors have bottoms that can be seated to watch shows. But they also have brains.  So do we all in Moncton. But there is damn little use for one in this trivial city. The library, which could, for much less that $84.000.000 become a vibrant social centre, is one of the worst funded in Canada. It's notable, too, that almost all recreational services for serniors come through volunteers.

If the hockey arena/convention centre were to be of any profit at all, the "great" families of this province would never let us own it. They would build it themselves, and keep the profit. (They would, though, find a way to further rip us off by getting taxpayer "support".) Theit purpose is to privatize everything from public schools to energy so they can do a thorough job of bleeding this province dry. And, yes, we will soon see the premier talking about another energy scam just as Shawn Graham did..

Since I moved to Moncton, I have beeen daily astonished at how the greedy, controlling fingers of our ruling barons reaches into every corner of life in this province, right down even to the local home and school. So I cannot say the behaviour of the mayor, the City Council, and the Senior Advisory's Committee comes as a surprise.

It is certainly contemptible - though even there we have to take a charitable approach and recognize the possitiliby that they may be too stupid to realize how contemptible their behaviour is.

Monday, May 23, 2011

May 23: Avoiding the News with The Moncton Times&Transcript

The lead story, locally, was that Metro (that busy, packed and humming giant of a city) is enjoying the hokday weekend. Thanks for that flash. We would never have known it without you.

In national and international affairs, the big news is that Manitoba police and firefighters are treating flood vicitms to  circus tickets. Oh, and a BC man who won a lottery is going to become a cowboy in Texas.
Obviously, God's in his heaven an all's right with the world.

Unfortunately, there wasn't room for two, lesser stories.

1. Locally, the hunt for shale gas has begun, and well within the  "range" of Metro.  This is the future of New Brunswick. We are the new Saudi Arabia, ready to float to prosperity on great clouds of methance, a new source of energy that can drive the world. This might even make it possible to show our gratitude to Irving and friends by offering them electricity at cheaper than the current special rate. (Unless, of course, Mr. Irving already owns or controls the rights to shale gas.)

You might think that a local newspaper would be cheering this, perhaps sending reporters and photographers to cover the event. But not a word is there - until the Letter to the Editor page. There, we learn from readers that there are severe dangers in the search for shale gas, ranging from the poisoning of drinking water to dangerous depletion of our whole fresh water supply..

There was no mention of any of this in the paper, and no mention of the US exploration firm that was just fined a million dollars plus heavy costs for its poisoning of wells over a large area.

But, hey, great weekend, eh?

As to world news, President Obama this weekend received the most crushing and public humiliation ever suffered by an Americna president. He told Netanyahu that Israel must  stop illegally taking Palistinian land, accept its 1967 borders, and get serious about the peace process.

Netanyahu, whose country depends on US aid (mostly military, and greater than the aid delivered to any other country in the world) publicly told Obama to get lost. Nor can Obama expect the slightest help from his Congress wince almost all congressmen depend on the support of a very powerful Israeli lobby - and from defence industries which make billions of taxpayers' dollars from sending weapons to Israel.

There isn't going to be peace in the middle east. And we'll all pay a price for that.

Oh, forget the poor little Israel surrounded by evil arabs stuff. Israel has over 200 nuclear-armed rockets. Nobody else in the region has any. It also has the public commitment of both the US and Canada to come to its aid. (So far as I know, it is not committed to come to our aid.)

Brunswick Press and its Moncton Times are a success story. Their purpose iis to keep New Burnswickers uninformed and unthinking so that we will continue to submit to generations of being ripped off and abused. As a result, New Brunswickers are surely the most passive people in Canada. The closest they have come to being assertive is voting out the Liberals and voting for their twin borthers the Conservatives. Then they get mad at the Conservatives for roughly the same reason, and vote in the Liberals.

Even the churches are inellecually amd morally comatose. Ain't no Martin Luther Kings in New Brunswick.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 21: What can I say?

A front page story in today's Moncton Times&Transcript is that a local politician/lawyer who is the usual type of politician/lawyer is going to run for head of the provincial Liberal Party - which is really the provincial Conservative party in drag.. The story, beginning on page one, is followed is followed by three, full pages of pure drivel and gush about the politician . With pictures.

Then, there's an editorial."Michael Murphy a capable leader".

This is not just bias. It is childishness. It's an insult to everybody to has to pay for this fish-wrapper.

So what's the real story? My guess would be that the newspaper's owners fear that Premier Alward will not be able to deliver the goods they want (privatization of NB power, etc.)  Or perhaps Alward is getting nervous about the the drive of private companies too extract shale gas from our soil, whatever the cost to the environment and our health.

There is no story in NewsToday about the arrival of the drill to be used in testing for gas at Steeves Mountain.  It arrived yesterday. Maybe we should have a contest to see who gets the frist poisoned water in the family taps. Anyone dumb enough to read the bilge about Mike Murphy would surely go for such a contest to win, say, his very own stomach pump.

The front page also  had a picture of the funeral of that great New Brunswicker Wallace McCain, who actually lived in Toronto. The photo was intriguing. It showed a church interior with a prominent Canadian flag. I thought most churches had taken the flag out of the sanctuary soon after World War Two.

There was also an Americna flag; and, in the corner, almost hidden a British flag. Why? What was the message of that in a church? Was it the bortherhood of man? If so, why not a Libyan flag? Or a Cuban one?
What it the connection between those three flags?

Oh, yeah. They represent political, economic, and military ties between the three countries. That was what Jesus was all about.

For relief from the trivia, manipulation and dishonesty of the rest of The Moncton Times&Transcript (and for relief from Christian churches who seem shaky on understanding what Christianity is about), I turned to the Saturday youth pages. All were good. ( I wonder if we realize how tough it is to come up with a topic and a column every week.)

Anway, all were good. But the one that caught my eye was by the youngest contributor Jana Giles. She mentioned that students are told to study - but very few are ever told how to stody. That, alas, is the story everywhere.

With public school, night courses, teacher training, BA, MA, Ph.D, I spent over twenty years in school. Nobody at any level taught me anything useful about how to study. So a friend and I worked out a method.
It involved limiting study time to about fifteen minutes a day - but every day, and each day studying that day's work, work from a week ago, and work from a month ago. I kept track on index cards. At the end of a term, I could recite all my notes with ease.

(That's not really learning, of course. It's just memorizing, which has very little long term value. But it gets you through most exams.)

I might add that in all my university years, nobody ever taught me how to write. They all insisted on high standards. But no professor seemed to know exactly what those standards were and, in any case, nobody knew how to teach them.

I imagine that all the editors of The Moncton Times&Transcript are university graduates.

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 20: Small points on a dreary day...

1. The Moncton Times&Transcript frequently rants about functional illiteracy in New Brunswick (which, in fact, is not much different from the rest of Canada. The US is even worse.) When it rants, it puts all the blame on the schools, nicely ignoring the reality that the children are not illiterate. It's the adults.

As a reflection (or a cause ) of that, The Moncton T&T is the one of the very few daily newspapers that does not have a book review section. Instead, it will babble endlessly about how schools should have contests in which children race through books to see who can read the most books in a week.

This refelcts the AIMS approach to a business method of teaching, a method featuring competition and measureable results.(A child who reads fifty books is better than a child who reads two.  Right. And a person who own fifty toy cars is a better driver than a person who owns only one.)  Competition doesn't work in education. It never has worked. Nobody who is literate races through books. Readers enjoy the book, not the contest. And the rise of functional illiteracy has more to do with parents and television than it has to do with school.

But, today, I thought I saw a glimmer of light  The T&T had a book review. I eagerly seized on it.

It was a review of a comic book. For adults.

2. Yesterday, I wrote about the presumption of editors that their experience in journalism qualifies them to speak with wisdom on subjects they actually know nothing about. In today's paper, editorial page editor Norbert Cuniingham proved my point. He was writing about the future of the Liberal Party in Canada.

He writes, "It never dawned on them Ithe Liberals) that the reason Stepehn Harper was PM was that  people do like the general direction of the Conservative platform". We shall skip lightly over his misuse of "was", and concentrate on his point. Canadians liked the general direction of the Conservative platform.

This is not even a matter of having a difference of opinion with him. It doesn't reach that height. His statement is just inane and obviously false. If Canadians liked the general direction of the Conservative platform, why did only 23% of the eligible voters vote for it? And why was it only 40% of those who actually voted?

In fact, if the general reporting and analysis of politics is as bad across Canada as it is in New Brunswick (and much of it is),  how could most voters even know what the conservative platform was?

"They (the Liberals) need to shut out special trendy apecial interests...." Wow! I admire your  courage, Mr. Cunninghan. You've got....you know....what  you've got.

Does that mean they should shut out special interests like Atlantic Institute of Market Studies? The Canadian Council of CEOs?  New Brunswick's Corporate bosses? Newspaper owners?

Even an editor cannot be that ignorant of the workings of our political system. Even an editor must know where both the Liberals and Conservatives get their money from.

"Most Canadians know the gun registry doesn't, and can't possibly, work."

Nonsense. Most Canadians have no clear idea of what the gun registry is, and most certainly have no idea of whether it is possible for it to work. I'm not arguing a point here. I'm saying that Mr. Cunnigham's statement is not supported by any data I  have ever seen. He has no idea what 'most' Canadians think. If he does, this is a man who can see around corners.

"Leave the heartbleeding to the NDP."

Right. Medicare was just heart bleeding. Minimum wage is heart bleeding. Balancing the budget when we really need a new hockey rink is heart bleeding. Being concerned that the development of shale gas - which has been proven to poison water aupplies (and for which an American company just paid a fine of over a million dollars) is being a bleeding heart. So the Moncton Times won't even mention that testing for shale gas has already begun in New Brunswick.

Stock up on bottled water.

This is not a column to argue about. This is simply intellectual trash and prejudice and ignorance. It's a striking example of why editors are generally not qualified to talk about anything but editring.

3. It's proven again in the editorial. "New Brunswick's strong presence in the federal cabinet can only benefit New Brusnwick".
a) This is assuming that the New Brunswick cabinet ministers actually represent New Brunswick, and not just Mr. Cunningham's bosses.
b) This is assuming Mr. Harper pays any attention to what his cabinet ministers say.

4. Check out the NewsToday section for the story on Ashley Smith.That's what getting tough on crime means, If more people in prison will make us safer, then the US must be the safest place on earth. It has more people in prison than any other country in the world, incluing brutal, dictatorial China. It even has more people per capital in prison. So feel free, Norbert. Take a midnight stroll through Central Park.

The news section also misses what I thought was a kind of big story. Mexican drug gangs launder some 400 billion dollars a year - though major US banks. They use some of it to corrupt politicians and police - on both sides of the border. It is surely not possible the banks don't know it. Billion dollar accounts sort of stick out.

But only 'bleeding hearts' would criticize those nice, rich people who own banks.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 19: Good and bad...

Some of the best opinon columns in The Moncton Times&Transcript are contributed by people who are not staffers, and not professional journalists. Here, you willl often find opinion columns written by people who know what they are talking about and write weill.

There's one today by Janet Keeping who has thoughtful and thoughtt-provoking things to say about the idea of an office of international religious freedom. It sounds good - but...  Well, you read it, and think it over.

On the opposite page is another well written piece by Jody Dallaire on mid-wives. New Brunswick was supposed to put them in place for practice in this province long ago. But, as in so many issues that rich people don't care about, it has dragged its feet.

The regular opinion man, Alec Bruce, is, as always, a thorough and knowledgeable pro.

The weak columns are often the ones on the op ed page that T&T has its editors and reporters do. Usually, the writers are wise enough to know they aren't experts in anything but putting together a newspaper. So they keep it trivial. But writing that is both trivial and engaging is rare. I haven't seen anyone at the T&T who can do that.

Routinely, the worst opinion piece by a staffer is the editorial. I don't know where the idea came trom that a person who edits a newspaper section has any wothwhile judgement or insights an anything but editing. All North American newspapers do that. Once upon a time, when most newspapers were propaganda sheets for political parties or rich people, one could live with the arrogant, preachy, vindictive, subservient and ignorant prose we call editorializing. But those days should be gone.

A newspaper should give us all the news and give it acccurately. That's what reporters are for. It should have people of judgement who rate the stories by importance. That's what editors are for. Then it should publish commentary by people who are neither reporters nor editors, but are knowldgeable in the field.

Instead, we get front page stories that are free ads for the casino or the hockey team or some other editorial pet.

Just a couple of comments on today's paper...
1. There was no mention of a big news story that the Attorney General of New York accuses Goldman-Sachs and those other institutions that US taxpayers gave hundreds of billions to of operating a giant scam that caused the recession.  He wants to charge them for that. And he wants to charge them for lying to a Congressional investigation. That's kind of important.

How can we have a democracy when voters don't know what's going on, and don't have informed discussion? Answer? We can't. And we don't.

2. Mount Allison is mounting a campaign to push its brand as "the best undergraduate school. This is common as universities  across North America are peddling themselves like brands of hot dogs.

    There is no such thing as a best undergraduate university. Or a best university in teaching. Almost all university teachers have the same training in education. None.

Educationally, all of them are stuck somehwhere about the year 1200.

The idea of ranking them, in Canada at least, came from MacLean's Magazine which makes a lot of money out of its scientifically invalid university surveys. (I don't say that out of jealousy that they never mentioned me. In f act, they listed me some five times as one of the most popular teachers at my university. And that was a crock, too. I would say the same for most of the university teaching awards. I was nominated for one, but refused the offer when I realized the whole thing was run by people who knew nothing about education.))

Universities should have had the ingtegrity to oppose MacLean's from the start. But universities are not big on integrity. The result is that they all scampered to fit into a random and silly lot of criteria set up by magazine editors.

There is no such thing as a best university. And, in all of Canada, thee is no such thing as a good teaching university.

What you do  have is a lot of universities scrambling for money and students, and all willing to kiss any  rear end to get it.

Good teaching in universities has never existed. And it probably never will. You want to see good teaching? Check out your child's elementary school. That's where you'll find it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 18: how to lie without ACTUALLY lying.

Ever since its birth in the very late nineteenth century, the modern newspaper has been been used by its ownders to manipulate public opinion opinion. William Randolph Hearts did it by inflaming opinion about the sinking of an American warship to make it appear a Spanish plot. In fact, there is not evidence of any such plot. The Maine was sunk, almost certainly, by the imcompetence of its captain. But the plot story worked to American big business the war it wasnted with Spain.

A New Brunswick boy, Lord Beaverbrook, used his British paper in the same way. Withiin little more than a decade, he had become so powerul, he was a force to be reckoned with as a possible prime minister. That's why the prmie Minister, Lloyd George, had the king name him a lord. As a lord, he was ineligible to run for the House of Commons - and that took a worry off Lloyd George's mind.

Most North American dailies are used to manipulate people. One method is selling the public on ideas that will make the owners richer. The other is keeping  the public ignorant of what is going on. The Moncton Times and Transcrips excels in the latter category. Check out today's NewsToday.

Let's see. The big leader story was that Harper would announce his cabinet today. There is no mention of who he might announce. But he's going to do it. Well, I can certainly build my day around that.

The IMF chief faces charges to quit. Well,  that's not only old news, but hardly a flash seeing hie's charged with sexual assault. An Ontario inquest is investigating the death of a Moncton teen. And the Queen honored Irish nationalists. And that's it for today, kiddies.

Now, let's look at what didn't makes the "NewsToday".

An American private company has rented 100,000 mercenaries to Bahrain, where the ruler (dictator) has been killing, jailing and torturing demonstrators who want democracy. He also has the help of his good friiend, the King (dictator) of Saudi Arabia. That raises some interesting points.

If we're so concerned about humanitarian needs and the struggle against dictators, how come we don't have a no-fly zone over Bahrain?

Then there's the growing mercenary business. Some are real soldiers. Most are thugs hired from gutters around the world. They have left a trail of theft, rape and murder across Iraq, Aghanistan, Pakistan, and in speical ops raids in more countries than anybody knows. They are now an essential part of American armies, as Americans have lost their enthusiasm for serving the country. (It's something like ancient Rome in its last days.)

The news from Libya is that NATO has been charged with going way past its mandate to control the air. It has openly gone over to supporting the rebels. Interestingly, many excellent news services say that the rebels are not fighting for democracy, and do not represent the majority of the Libyan people. (Yes, Ghadaffi is a nasty bit of goods. So are most of the leaders on our side.)

Good sources also say that NATO is using ground forces, contrary to its mandate. It seems the British have landed special ops groups and,  the US, has sent in military "advisors". We're at the edge of a full war in Libya. And Canada will have to be a  part of it because we are already there and involved. So much for the Canadian people, through their parliament, deciding on war.

Oh, and the chief of British intelligence has written to an official enquiry that Tony Blair lied to parliament about the reasons for going to war against Iraq. That would make him a war criminal. Bush, too, must have lied since both gave the same reasons.

Exploration for shale gas is under way in New Brunswick. There's reason to believe it could have disastrous effects on the whole province. The Times has said almost nothing about it, or about the risks.

And did you know that Canada has signed an agreement with the US so that by a simple request we will send troops to the US in case of civil disorder there - and they could be asked to enter Canada for the same reason? Why would the US need Canadian troops in case of civil disorder? Because Canadian troops could be used without the consent of congress. Besides, they can't get nearly enough Americans to join the army. That's why we have a booming business in the rental of thugs from "private contractors".

This is all information easily avaliable on the web, and from excellent sources such as The Manchester Guardian, BBC, Reuters, Le Monde, papers all over Europe. But not much in North America. And certainly not in the Moncton Times&Transcript.

Then there are a couple of business pages that are mostly trivia and feel good articles.

The slogan of stage comics used to be "make 'em laugh". The slogan of The Moncton Times and Tribune seems to be "keep 'em in the dark."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 17: Letters to the editor - what they tell us about the editors...

I always read the letters to the editor because they tell me more about a newspaper and, sometimes, the news, than the newspaper itself does.  Take today's Moncton Times&Transcript, for example.

A writer from Sackville mourns the loss of thousands of Americans on   9/11 in New York City. So we all should. She says we shouldn't blame the American people for this happening. No. Of course we shouldn't. Neither the kills nor the responses were decisions made by ordinary Americans.  But:

1. A CIA "asset" from Cuba blew up a Cuban airliner, killing over a hundred civilians. This is only one of many terror bombings within Cuba from him and other US paid agents. He took refuge in the US, and now lives in Florida.

2. The American government encouraged, supervised, and supplied weapons for a Guatemalan army massacre of Maya native peoples - men, women, and children. It was aided in this genocide of 200,000 people by the CIA and the Israeli secret service. Missionaries who befriended the Maya were murdered, and nuns raped and murdered. One of the lay missionaries was a man from Buctouche named Raoul Leger.

But the Moncton Times ignored the story. So did most of tohe North Amaerican press. If you doubt it, just  Google: New York Times Clinton Apology Guatemala.  The operation was directed by the CIA,  headed for much of that period by George Bush I. You can also look up Raoul Leger in google.

For over a hundred years, US businesses like United Fruit Company had impoverished the people of Guatemala to keep them as cheap labour. They also took most of the arable land, so people had no choice but to submit. Anhybody who complained was beaten or killed.

After World War Two, the US supported dictator was overthrown, and Guatemala elected its own president who wanted to do silly things like letting people have land so they could eat.. Suddenly, an army of thugs armed with US weapons (our press called them "freedom fighters") overthrew the president, and installed a dictator. (Later 'presidents" won rigged elections.) Then came the killing years. Think of that as you peel your next Chiquita Banana.

3. Just a few days ago, the former head of British Intelligence testified to a formal inquiry that Tony Blair (and George Bush II lied about their reasons for invading Iraq. It had nothing to do with terrorism or WMDs. That means Bush and Blair killed more than a million innocent people.  Heard any talk of commemorative spoons or memorials for that one?

3. The American government has publicly admitted it has no evidence against Bin Laden. That's why the government of Pakistan refused to allow his extradition at first. Before  the invasion, it told Bush it was willing to turn him over to a neutral country for trial. Bush refused. Then he invaded.

4. The invasion of Afghanistan has killed far more  innocent people than 9/11 did - even though there is no reason to believe that Afghanistan had anything to do with 9/11. But I haven't noticed a whole lot of  tears shed for the women and children of Afghanistan.

5. There have almost certainly been far more Pakistanis killed by US forces than the total killed on 9/11. Do you think Pakistanis don't mourn for their family members killed in terror raids by the US drones and assassination squads?

6. I could add the more than two million innocent people killed in Vietnam, the half million killed in Cambodia by illegal and  terrorist American bombing - but you get the idea.

7. Oh, I forgot about Iran. It used to be a democracy. A real one. But it wanted to raise the price of its oil and to build silly things like hospitals and schools. (While under a dictator before it became a democracy, Iran also supplied all the oil for the British navy, free of charge, for almost thirty years.) The democracy was overthrown by Britain, France and the US, with each getting a share of control over the oil. They then installed that murderous dictator called the Shah. And that's why the people of Iran turned to their mosques, and why it now is an Islamic state.

I don't blame the writer for not knowing that. How could she? Most of it never appeared in Bru\nswick Press - or  most other media in North America. When it did appear, - well - words can be used to disguise the message. We've all, though our news media, heard of Islamic terrorists. How many of us have heard or read of US government (and Christian) terrorists?  And guess which side has killed more people? By far.

The Moncton Times ignores news reports that Brunswick News doesn't want us to hear. It's not hard to get it. You can get news reports from all over the world on your computer. All the incidents I mention above can be checked in the very respectable and respected Manchester Guardian, in Al Haaretz (the best newspaper in Israel), Der Spiegel, Le Monde... There's lots of them. The Moncton Times deliberately misleads us on the news. Unless one is splitting hairs, that's called lying.

And then there's that streak of racism we all have. The truth is most of us don't give a damn about how many Africans or Asians or Arabs or Latin Americans get killed. They's iggerant. They ain't civilized like us.

But, you know,  our side slaughters innocents by the million, and tortures in camps all around the world, and Canada willingly offers up its own citizens for torture and murder. The Canadian government refused even to ask about Raoul Leger. We were the only western country that failed to demand jurisdiction in the case of a citizen imprisoned at Guatemala. We are the only western country, to my knowledge, to  have turned over our own citizens, without charge or evidence, to the US for torture.

Bin Laden was a mad man from hell? Possibly. We really don't know.  But if he was, he's not alone.

I learn a lot about a newspaper from its letters to the editor. I certainly learn more than the newspaper tells me about anything.

For contrast, there's also a letter from Frank Belcastro of Grand Digue which tells the truth, and which offers evidence for what it says. I'm a little surprised The Moncton Times published it. But they probably figured that in this world of 1984, nobody will believe the truth, anyway.

re the editorial - I'm sure we're all aware of how much billionaires from this province have done for us. So how come at the end of the day, they're still billionaires, while New Brunswick is still poor?

Monday, May 16, 2011

May 16: A banner day for bad taste, propaganda, and skewed priorities...

The Moncton Times@Tribune was at its worst today.

The lead story, reasonably enough, was of the death of one of New Brunswick's leading businessmen, one of a tiny group who have dominated the province for decades, and effectively make this province their feudal estate. But he was important, and he was of local origins. So a front page story was reasonable.

Then there was a full page on him on A 4.   Page 5 was death notices. Guess who death took up almost twice as much space as all the others put together?  It was full of the same gush that had appeared in the stories, even listing all of the honorary degrees that go to all rich people for being rich.


Then, God help us, there was an eight page special section that gushed even more. It also informs us that McCain came of humble origins. His father was only an owner of a potato seed business, and an investor, who loved to own fine cars. Right. And I'll bet they had to park those cars in a garage made of cardboard boxes.

All of this is a tasetelessly excessive piece of boot-licking that does no honour to Mr. McCain.

The propaganda, too, began on p 1 with a headline "Gas drilling study is 'good news'" Industory, environmentalists.

This relates to a pressing issue for New Brunswick. There is methane gax trapped in the shale of New Brunswick. Energy companies want it. The gas is taken by a process called fracking, drilling, then flooding the drillhole with huge quantities of fresh water. But there's a catch.

Studies of a region with fracking going on looked at 60 wells in the area. Wells closest to the drilling had levels of methane so high it was possible to set the water on fire. And these are early days. With alll that water pumped in, is iti possible that all our groundwater will become pulluted?

The industry is quoted as sayiing this is good news. Big surprise. It just, they say, has to be done properly. Like, say, oil drilliing off the coast of Florida or nuclear power in Japan.

But,despite the the headline, the only 'environmentalist' quoted  is a geologist  who is already on record as being opposed to a moratoruium on drilling - though even he says all the studies are still unclear, and he is distrurbed at the high levels of methane found in well in recent studies. That's a long way from saying the studies are "good news for environmentalists" as the headline claimed. In fact, that headline is not just bad editing. It's lying.

Check the letters to the editor to see what most environmentalists think.

As uusual, The Moncton TandT is kissing up  to somebody with big money who really doesn't give a damn about the consequences to those who live here. Gee! I wonder who that could be.

And we still haven't reached the village idiot secton of the paper.

The editorial gushes over a board to encourage ' culture' in Moncton. They way he uses the word culture in an indicator that the writer doesn't understand the meaning of the word. I think the word he meant was fine arts.

In any case, it's clear that the puprose of the committee is not essentially fine arts, anyway. It's essentially about attracting toruists, making money, and doing it with anything that will attract a crowd. If it's ballet, fine. If it's drinking beer at Magnetic Hill while listening to pop music, that's even better.

Then, on the opposite page, there's an article about Moncton getting a pro basketball team. Right. This could fit right in with our pro hockey team in its 84 million dollar arena and our pro football team. And, hey, it would do kids a lot of good to sit on benches watching a pro tearm playing instead of  sitting on counches in front of a TV set watching a better pro team.

So far, only one city in Canada has been big enough to be home to pro hockey, pro basketball, and pro football - Toronto. But, you know, if we add up Metro Moncton and Greater Moncton and all the dense population  from Sussex to Sackville, we could show Toronto where the action is at .

Of course, it would cost money, much of it tax-payes' money. we could make that up by cutting the parks and playground programme for children - if we had one.  Or we could cut the library programme. I mean, it's already the lowest funded one in Canada. So nobody will notice.

Or we could grow up.

What a disaster of a newspaper!
                  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

May 14: Congratulations due to the Moncton TandT

I look forward to the part of the Whatever section written by middle school and high school students. It's one of the few parts of the paper that is honest, thoughtful, unpretentious, and well written. Today, the column by Tess Allen caught my eye.

Ms. Allen attended a model UN for high school students at St. Thomas University. Beautifully written, simple, clear, personal without pretending to be expert, her column breathed the excitement and intellectual srimulation of that event. I know what she meant.

My sons attended it, too. They were excited to go, and with an excitement they still feel today. They had the thrill and stimulation of meeting students who had the same interests as them. They weren't alone. They weren't outsiders; and the experience opened a world to them.

New Brunswick needs far more of that. New Brunswick is not a province of a rich mixture of peoples. New Brunswickers are nice people; but most of them are pretty much like most of the others. The result is that students get very little exposure to different outlooks and enthusiasms, though they need that as a flame needs oxygen. Our children get very little of that sharing and growing experience except, perhaps, in playing hockey or smoking pot.

I've been dismayed to see so little of the UN conference in the paper; no sense of the voluntary effort and time from public school teachers (though it happily spits vitriol all over them when Atlantic Institute of Market Studies wants it to); no sense of how important this events was for our children. Tess Allen made up for that.

Nathan Rinzler was thoughful on a seemingly light topic, getting a summer job by relating it to Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". I should, though, offer a small correction. The novel is not quite a fable. For almost a century, Belgium pillaged the resoruces of Congo, in the process killing, torturing, maiminng uncounted millions. Forced out after World War Two, the Belgians left behind no schools or hospitals, just land poisoned by their theft. The Congo's first, elected president was murdered as other western countries moved in for the riches still to be stolen. The murder was not a coincidence. Western mining companies, protected by mercenary thugs, continue to loot Congo, and to be indifferent to the hunger and disorder they have created. Every minute of every day, a woman (or child) is raped in Congo. A man who sat on the board of a Canadian company operating there was Brian Mulroney. Just a coincidence. I'm sure he had no idea what was going on.

But Rinzler still does a fine job of putting a seemingly small but really very important matter into our consciousness.

I don't want to give special notice to anybody, though. Isabelle Agnew does her usual fine job, reinforcing the theme of Tess Allen's column with the excitement of theatre arts. Christina Korotkov shows a level of wisdom and maturity that few of us adults ever reach. So does Jana Giles, and with a writing skill I would have been happy to see in university students.

Alex Corbett picked up well on the joy of interacting with people who make him more aware of his own interests. Aurelie Pare offfers a column that starts simply enough, then hits us with a final sentence that is thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Why are these columns so successful?

The writers are sharing the world they see and feel with us. We, or at least the lucky ones among us, have been there, too. They're talking about the real world. They're talking about it without pretending they are experts or opinion leaders. They aren't trying to tell us what to think. They're opening the way for us to do our own thinking.

They're honest. They're real.

The Moncton Times&Transcript staff deserves congratulations for introducing this section. The Moncton Times&Transcript staff should also read it. And learn.

Friday, May 13, 2011

May 13: From the shalllow to....

A couple of days ago, I suggested Mr. Cormier's understanding of foreign affairs (he was writing about terrorism) is shallow. Shallows are okay. Walking barefoot in the shallows is even pleasant on a summer day. Compared to Cormier, reading editorial page editor Norbert Cunningham on terrorism is like walking baerfoot over the Gobi Desert on a hot day. Try out his column justifying the killing of bin Laden. It's on the editorial page of todays' Moncton Times and Transcript.

He quotes Gwynn Dyer  to the effect that the purpose of terrrists is not simply to goad governments, but to convince their own people of their own, twisted ideas.

I object to  his crashingly ignorant understanding of what Gwynn said. I knew Gwynn back in our radio days in Montreal, and I have followed his columns ever since. He's the best in his business. The statement that Cunningham claims he wrote or heard could only have been made by ignoramus and a bigot. Gwynn is neither of those. But an ignoramus or a bigot might interpret his comment in that way.

That statement was not a definition of either terrorism or its purposes.  It refers only to moslem terrorists, and only in our time.

Terrorism means to kill in order to create terror. That surely is not hard to understand. The end purpose may vary. But the desire to create terror is universal. That surely is not too hard to understand.

We have seen moslem terrorism, Nazi terrorism, Chrstian terrorism, Jewish terrorism, American terrorism - and one could go on forever. If you are going to approve of the assassination of a moslem terrorist without  trial, then you have to approve of assassinations of the Sons of Liberty,  the founders of the modern state of Israel,  French leaders in Algeria and Vietnam, and every  president of the United States in this century, You can do the same with every country on earth going back to ancient times. Read The Bible when you have a chance.

Bin Laden was at the heart of the current conflict? Really? Is that why the US just had to invade Iraq? Gee, and I always thought Hussein was opposed to bin Laden. Was bin Laden behind the slaughter of the Maya people in Guatemala? Was he behind all the Duvaliers and their murdering brother dictators in Central America? Did he invade Vietnam? Was it bin Laden who overthrew the elected government of Iran back in 1950, and imposed a dictatorship?

As for the justice of our fighting against dictatorship and extreme religious views, are you aware that among the world's worst dictators and most extreme in Islamic religious views are our close allies in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States?

Moslem terrorists are people - and much like us. I certainly mourn the loss of 2,000 innocent people in New York. I also  mourn the millions of innocent people killed in Vietnam, Guatemala, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Gaza, and I mourn the uncounted others all over the world killed by assassination squads of all the major powers.

I don't think it appropriate, though, to use that mourning as an excuse to peddle bigotry, ignorance and hate - and more killing. If we want to stop the killling, we have to recognize that we are all doing it. As Pogo said, :We have met the enemy. And he is us."

The world is at the edge of disaster. The last thing we need is ignorant bigots pushing us.

Oh, The word "justified" means according to law. The laws national and international, require that a person be charged, evidence presented, and a judgement made before punishment is assessed. Otherwise, the killing is called murder. That is not simply a "subtlety".. That is the definition of murder. We charged and tried even the leading Naziis before executing them. Without law, no society - and no world - can survive.

I don't have time to comment on the lead editorial. It's about being careful about overdoing pay equity. I can only advise the editoriall writer not to worry about it. It will take quite a while for the single mothers working at Wal-Mart to catch up to the CEOs of this province.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

May 12: Lord love a duck....

Today's Moncton Times and Transcript is a real stinker - uninformative, gushing over our social superiors, fawning, preaching from ignorance.... What a shocking waste of trees this newspaper is!

The story on the Clinton/McKenna visit was pure gush. It was, we were told, about the world economy. At the end of it,there was still no mention of what the hell they said about the world economy. We do know, though, that they sat in green, plushy chairs and told a joke.

They couldn't have said much about the world economy because he whole show lasted only 35 minutes, including a long portion devoted to the killing of bin-Laden and time for three questions, all about bin Laden. If the audience of  "political leaders, business giants, esteemed academics, officials from Canadian Forces..."  learned anything from that, they must have been an incredibly thick bunch to begin with.

Both expressed their deep concern for Haiti. Bullshit. Haiti is the product of hundreds of years of brutal exploitation by France, Britain and the US who have pillaged that country into becoming the poorest in the western hemisphere while terrorizing it with some of the most ruthless dictators in history. The US deposed and exiled the only democratically elected president it ever had. And the US has still not given a cent of the recovery money it promised at the time of the earthquake. On behalf of the people of Haiti, I thank you for your concern, Bill and Frank.

The final gushes came from our Education Minister, Jody Carr. "It was thought-provoking. It  was quite an honour to have him here. He's very intellectual. And it was great to see Frank McKenna as well, still doing well for the people of New Brunswick." As to the killing of bin Laden, she said, "...it was hearfelt...remembering the people who died because of him."

Quite so. And what's your favourite brand of bubble gum, Jody?

Any thoughts ot sadness about the almost two million innocent people who have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan - and all the millions of innocent people imprisoned, tortured, maimed, widowed, orphaned  and impoverished since then? Or don't they count as real people?

Stick with the bubble gum, Jody.  And god help our education system.

Despite the headline, it was not a sold-out audience. Many students got free tickers. So, I'm sure, did many of the politicians, army officers, etc. in attendance. As to the university people, only a damn fool would pay to watch that farce.

Bill Clinton charges big time for his visits. Like many presidents recently, he has made a fortune out of being an ex-president. I suspect Frank McKenna had a fee, too. So, with all those tree tickets, exactly how much did this dog and pony show cost the taxpayers?

The same page has another Clinton/McKenna adventure, the opening of the Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership at St. FX, the alma mater of Franck McKenna and also of another  leader beloved by Canadians for his self-sacrifice and generosity, Brian Mulroney.

Again, it seems to have been a fest of platitudes, bafflegab and nonsense. In attendance were acadmics from all over the maritimes. Of course. University administrators and most professors will kiss any rear end that has a pocket with money in it.

The final bit of gush then, not surprisiingly came from a dean at UNB.who praised the new centre as a source of meaningful productive change. Yes, indeed. Meaningful productive change is so much better than unemeaningful productive change.

The front page has a big story about Moncton beefing up culture planning for "community development through improved quality of life". Always be wary when you see bafflegab like that. In fact, the new committee on culture reports to the city's Economic Development, Tourism, and Culture Department. This will have very little impact on culture in Moncton. Of course not. It isn't meant to. It's for tourism, hotels, business in general. It's no more cultural than it was to invite Clinton and McKenna. At least, the latter told a joke. A joke is culture, kind of.

Glad to hear of the plan to close Main Street to traffic, and make it a place to stroll along and have coffee on the sidewalk. That should be very nice for at least six months of the year.

But where will strollers and coffee lovers park their cars?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May 11: Using words to convey cartoon images - the base of bin Laden

There are hundreds of knowledgeable commentators around the world on the subject of terrorism. One of the best is Gwynn Dyer who is a regular contributor to The Moncton Times and Transcript. Why on earth would staffer Brian Cormier be asked to write a commentary on the killing of Osama bin Laden?

This gem can be found on p. D7, the op ed page.

The headline appears to have no clear connection to the point of the commentary (if it has one); Mr. Cormier obviously is lacking basic facts about the incident, and he uses words to create cartoon figures of Moslems in general. To say that is not a criticism of Mr. Cormier. He is, I'm sure, a serious and professional reporter. The criticism is of an editorial staff that would hand him such an inappropriate assignment.

Roughly, the commentary is that moslems are terrorists; and terrorists attack the innocent, that it was a good idea to kill bin Laden: that his death will have no effect on the (Moslem) terrorist threat. Let's examine these assertion in point form.

1. Terrorism is an attack launched to cause terror. That seems clear. Can Mr. Cormier name a people in all of human history who have not attacked iinnocent people to cause terror? Ever read The Bible? Check Numbers 31 for just one of the many slaughters carried out by ancient Israel, not one of whom was a Moslem. Never hear of the Reign of Terror in France? Never wonder why it was called that? Never wonder why none of those terrorists was Moslem?

Ever hear of the bombing of Cambodia in which the Christian US deliberately killed a half million civilians?  Ever  hear of the genocide of 200,000 Guatemala Mayans, men, women and children whose slaughter was directed by the CIA - which was, for much of that campaign, run by CIA Head and Christian George Bush I? When Clinton apologized for it, the story made The New York Times; but not The Moncton Times - even though one of the victims was a priest from this area.

And Mr. Cormier obviously never heard of the Iraqis who had no connection whatever with terrorism. But over a million innocent and helpless people were killed therre by the "born again" George Bush II. Nobody can count the millions more whom that Christian refugeed, maimed, tortured, widowed, orphaned and impoverished. I think that counts as terrorism.

Indeed, every war fought since 1914 had killed more civilians than soldiers. The ratio is now at least hundreds of civilians of all ages  for each soldier.

2. Mr. Cormier says it was a good idea to kill bin Laden - and that Pakistan probably knew his hiding  place.

As to the hiding place, it's possible that Pakistan knew. It's also possible, even likely, that the US knew, and knew long ago. It's possible, even probable, that bin Laden was more valuable to the US alive than dead. He was the bogeyman that made it possible for the US government to invade Iraq and Afghanistan - and Pakistan where thousands of innocents have already died of drones, conventional bombing, and assassination squads. We haven't seen terrorism like this since Mao-Tse Tung.

The bogeyman also made it possible to impose travel restrictions on millions of Americans, to impose domestic spying on anybody the government doesn't like (such as those annoying greens), to jack up spending for a corrupt defence industry while cutting social services, and to imprison and torture American citizens without charge or trial. All of this now being done by the recipient of the Nebel Prize for Peace.

In fact, Afghanistan offered shortly after 9/11 to turn bin Laden over for trial in a neutral court. Bush refused.

Obama alive was useful.

There's not much evidence that he has been an active leader for years. Indeed, there's not much evidence that Al-Quaeda was ever that powerful a force. Obama probably ceased to be a threat years ago.

But now, dead, he is a threat. He's a threat as a myth, as a grievance, as a \rallying cry to more hatred.

3. The killing of bin Laden will not slow down acts of terrorism, not on either side.
(I shall skip lightly over the fact that killing without trial is not justice. It is murder. The American force was, apparently, a large one. It had no opposition at all. (Not a single American (or mercenary) was injured.) It would have been easy enough to take bin Laden prisoner. Indeed, it was against international law and against a variety of agreements signed by the US to kill him.

So why was he killed?

Hint - There is an election looming, and Obama was low in the polls. He has now zoomed up to a majority.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

May 10: Sherlock Holmes and the case of the troubled premier: conclusion

.Permier Alward poured out his story for close to an hour, paused, sighed, "....and that was the second time he humilitated me, publicy treating me and my government as if  we were his office clerks."

Holmes' eyes revealed a sympathy he always felt for those who, despite honorable intentions, find themselves being used for evil puproses. But his voice also betrayed an  impatience.

"You mentioned the Atlantic Insitute for Market Studies. What does it do? Was it founded before or after your troubles? Who pays for it? How did your predecessor, Shawn Graham, get the idea of of buying electricity from another province?"

Premier Alward looked back at the master like a deer caught in the headlights. "Well." he stammered, "AIMS is a scientific study group. But it is private; so it is not required to post the names of its donors...."

"Not another word". said Holmes. There is no need to answer. This is not even a one-pipe problem. I shall explain it to you."

"AIMS is a propaganda front for corporations and the wealthy. It's expensive to operate; so I can assure you it does not live on donations from widows and orphans. Its 'scientific' reports are worthless; but get excellent coverage by newspapers because the newspaper owners are commonly the same people who support these 'think tanks' all across North America."

"Generally, their purpose is to privatize as much as possible. Thus their constant reports that government should be small (except when making grants and giving tax cuts to the rich), and that everything should be privatized - education, health care, pensions....all should be for private profit".

"Currently, AIMS is also working on a project to form a sort of economic union of the Maritimes, Quebec and New England. That surely gives a hint of why we hear talk of selling NB Energy, buying some electricity from Quebec, and exporting some to New England where the donors to AIMS also have substantial interests".

"Premier Graham was simply a pawn who failed them in dealing with public anger."

"Your party, Mr. Alward, has traditionally, along with the Liberals, been safely in the pockets of the donors to AIMS. But they needed a tougher and more visible stance to deal with the voters. Thus the Economic Summit, essentially a programmed gathering of corporate heads with an assortment of attractive potted plants like university presidents and community leaders. The report that they presented at the end, could have been written - and may have been written - before the meeting was held. But there needed to be something more, if only to demonstrate to you that you had better not fail to deliver the goods, as Premier Graham did.".

"That was when Mr. Irbing announced in his papers that he had formed a coalition with your government. That annnouncement was unconsitutional and highly improper. Only an elected person can be in a coalition in a democracy. As well, one does not invite oneself into a coalition any more than one invites oneself to a private party. The invitiation - and the announcement - are  up to the host. That announcement, coming from Mr. Irving was a warning to you and to oanyone who thought New Brunswick was a democracy. Your silence on that occasion must have encouraged him."

"I cannot, at this distance, determine how arrogance and ego may have influenced Mr. Irving's behaviour. He may suffer from those as the emperor Caligula did. Caligula, in his arrogance, thought he was a god and, accordingly, frequently wore a beard made of gold wire inserted, one wire at a time, into his skin."

"Whatever the full reasoning might have been, the effect was certainly to remind you and the voters who the boss is. But even that wasn't enough. He needed even more direct control."

"Thus the meeting you had with two, lesser corporate types, to tell you they were setting up a group to create an economic plan for the future of New Brunswick. You were graciously permitted to join as an ordinary member. That committte now has public credibility, and power to influence, even shape, every government function from privatizing NB Energy to clearing roads. The public and their elected representatives no longer matter."

"But what shall I do, Mr. Holmes? If I deny what they ask, they will leave the province.?"

"Holmes smiled. "And if you spray a mosquito, it will leave before it has sucked all it wants of your blood.. Mr. Alward, following the instinct of  your fears will simply lead you to become as unpopular as Graham Shawn was. And New Brunswickers, I fear, will show their anger in the only way they seem to know - vote you out, and vote the Liberals back in."

"Go public, Mr. Alward. Tell your voters what I have told you. Expect no help from most of the news media, of course. But buy space on radio. Then travel the province to meet your voters. Tell them that you propose to resist. Then, do what you said you would do in your election campaign.."

"Listen to them."

A light flashed in Alward's eyes. He stood up, shoulders squared. "I'll do it, Mr. Holmes/ Thank you and bless you for making me a man,again."

Holmes grasped Alward's hand in both of his. "Spoken like a true Briton."

 With that, Alward strode to the door. As it closed behind him, Holmes clapped his hands and, said, "Well, Watson, tonight we get away from Mrs. Hudon's dreadful sheepshead pudding, and dine at the best restaurant we can find."

"But Holmes, your last supply of heroin took almost all our money. We barely have enough to eat even Mrs. Hudson's food for the month."

Holmes chuckled. "The game's afoot, Watson. Before we go out,I 'll send a message to Mr. Irving, telling him what was said tonight.  That will earn a mountain of heroin for me, and enough restaurant food to last the rest of our lives."

And so, fifteen minutes later, the two friends stepped into the evening fog. Holmes raised his stick..

"Cab!"

Monday, May 9, 2011

May 9: Sherlock Holmes and case of the troubled premier

The man brushed past Dr. Watson who was left holding the door in bewilderment. The man headed straight for the chair where Sherlock Holmes' bow was wandering languidly and aimlessly over the strings of his violin.

"Please help me," Mr. Holmes.

Holmes paused, glanced at his visitor.

"I note", he said, "you are a politician, and probably from the colonies. Tut, tut, sir. Don't look astonished. Your dress and air of importance, conbined with a posture indicating servility to some master are sure marks of  either a politician or a head servant in some great house.. But your accent would be quite unacceptable in any great house.  And your pronounced servility combined with the copy of The Moncton Times and Transcript in your pocket suggests New Brunswick. Pray, be seated, and tell me your story."

The distraught visitor sank gratefully into a chair opposite Holmes, while the master sat, fingertips touching, his eyes seeming to drill into the very soul of the wretched creature facing him.

"You must know," Mr Holmes, that I am the premier of a small but attractive province in Canada, and one that has produced great wealth. for some."

Holmes waved a hand. "Do not waste time on what I can learn from simple observation. Why are you here?."

"The leading businessman of my province has publicly humiliated me."

"Hear that, Watson," said Holmes. "That is encouraging," he added, turning back to the premier. "If you were a dishonest premier, he would have rewarded you with an ambassadorship to the US or perhaps a senior position in a bank. Obviously, he  has found it necessary to discipline you. For your behaviour alone, I am happy to be at your dissposal.

" But do not tell me of just one incident. That is a dreadful habit the press has, making each story meaningless by reporting it in isolation from the events that surround it. To understand any story, we need to see a whole picture, not just a fleck of paint."

"In the case of Haiti, for example, we had the story of a brutal dictatorship sponsored by the US government. Then the story was of the dictato's overthrow. Then of how Haiti was able to establish a democracy, and elect a president. The president announced an intention to build public schools and to improve health care. The US government made it clear is disliked him. A well-armed group of men who had worked for the dictator Invaded the defenceless country.. The US intervened (in the name of the UN and humanitarianism). The intervening UN forces did nothing to the rebels, but toppled and exiled the president. There is now a new prresident (elected while the country is still controlled by various armies). The new president turns out to be an old buddy of the former dictator's family; and the son of the dictator was invited to attend the inauguration of  the new president."

This was presented to us by our news media as isolated incidents, rather like a scatering of dots that are meaningless unless someone connects them. Just tell me your dots. Then, we shall  attempt to connect them."

The visitor paused, looked down for moment, then sat up manfully. "Very well. I shall begin with an organization  called The Atlantic Institute of Market Studies....."

Holmes raised a hand. "Watson, be so good as to fetch our file on the Moriarty web of subversive organizations....pray, continue, Mr. Alward."

(Here, the visitor who was, indeed, Mr. Alward, looked up in astonishment.)

Holmes smiled. "It is no great deduction. Your name and hotel are pasted on the back of your jacket. I saw it as you passed me to sit down.   Obviously, you have a history of getting lost and confused. So someone who cares for you has made sure you can always be retrieved and returned."

Mr. Alward smiled, then changed to a puzzled frown. "Now, where was I?"

To be completed May 10.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

May 7:: bin thinkin' 'bout the kids...

Every Saturday, The Moncton Times&Transcript has two pages of commentary on pp. F2 and F3 written by middle school and high school studetns. It is consistently good reading. In particular, it far outshines the editorials and "special" reports of the regular staff for thoughtfulness and tone.

That's not just idel flattery to say something cutesie about the kiddies. They're good.  For today's examples, take a look at the columns by Tess Allen or Christina Korotkov - or any other columnist on these two pages. There's a thoughfulness, an honesty, a reognition of human  strength and human weakness  that I have never seen reflected in the editorials, the commentaries, the "think tank" hacks, or ever by the reporters.    The  two pages don't try to budgeon you into thinking their way. They actually invite you to think.

By taking part in these pages, the students who write these commentaries are getting a wonderful opportunity to broaden and mature intellectually.

But what about all the other students? Moncton does not offer much in the way of nourishment for the mind or for intellectual stimulation.

The schools can't do enough of it because 1.We don't give them enough money. 2.Our school population, like our general population, doesn't give them much of the stimulation that comes from variety. 3.The spread of school bussing over the past fifty years makes it difficult for teachers to provide after school groups for special interests.

My sons are, as I write this, hugely enjoying and learning from a UN conference in Fredericton. They can do it only because a)interested parents (or those with enough money) paid the cost. And because their teacher gave up a sick day and his whole weekend (including Mother's Day) to take them. (You might try writing a column about that, Norbert, or at least a report that would be as big as the story about how Moncton is all agog over free comics day.)

Can we use this section as a starting point for something that would include more students, give more of them the chance to find out how interesting and challenging the life of the mind can be? To learn that they, too, can speak interesting sentences that don't consist simply of endless exchanges of  "holy f...?

It's an opportunity that has special meaning to mme. I grew up in a community in which we had no sense of any possibility of ever being more than the poor, ignorant, and hopeless people we were. Few seriously thought of finishing even high school. My grades, which had been high up to grade 6, soon began their death slide. Then, for grade ten, I attended a school that mixed kids from all over Montreal. Among those who had gone there before me were the very rich  Christopher Plummer,  and the very poor Oscar Peterson.

One of my best friends (he still is) was a Japanese Canadian boy who had to start school in grade seven because the Canadian government had taken his family's home and possessions, sold them, kept the money, and thrown the family into a concentration camp.

 Dr. Yosh Taguchi is now an internationally respected physician.

I also met Jewish boys. Most were as poor as I was. But all had been raised in the stimulationg atmosphere for debate and exercise of the mind that characterized the synagogue. For the first time, I saw theatre and dance and film and novels and ideas as exciting and absorbing things.

Since we travelled to and from school on our own, teachers could offer us after school groups -  current events, theater, music...I was president of the writing club. Our Frnech teacher took us to a symphony concert. (Unlike Moncton, our city spent money on more than just aging rock groups.) I also saw professional actors for the first time.

It was too late, of course. I failed grade ten, repeated it, then was kicked out in grade eleven. I managed to work my way back. But it was a long and expensive way.

Surely in Moncton we can do more the minds of our children. After all, this is the city that thinks $84 million a reasonable price for a hockey rink. So why do we  have one of the worst-funded public libraries in Canada? Why is there so little intellectual life in this city for anybody - childrfen or adultsz/ Why are the churches so intellectually dead?

Hats off to The Moncton Times&Transcript for a solid start on pp. F2 and F3. But we should all  be doing more, much more.

And,, before you get all mushy about the T&T, check out p. D1, News Today. Note the story headed "Harper sheds 'scary' image". It doesn't report anything. This is not a new report. Is is essentially an opinion piece disguised as news. (More accurately, it is not even an opinion piece, but a propaganda drool. Not suprisingly it comes from Postmedia. No respectable paper would allow that to appear iin a news section. The National Post would, though, as would all the Brunswick Media.)

Coming sometime sooon - a  mystery story - The riddle of why, after all these years, Irving is making very public moves to show he is the government of New Brunswick.