Thursday, March 29, 2012

March 29: This isn't the fault of the TandT; but....

....Letters to the editor can be a great spot to slide in propaganda.  Today's example is a letter from Tom Harris, Director of the International Climate Science Coalition (Wow!), writing from Ottawa (gollywow!).  I mean, gee, international...coalition...and in Ottawa. Oh, and it has free speakers -most of them with PhDs. So it must be for real. (Curiously, one of the speakers has a BA in sociology and English - go figure.)

And all its funding is private. So that must mean real honesty.

Well, not really.real honesty.

When you're funding a large organization which is affiliated with other large organizations, you're looking at big money

ICSC is an expensive operation (the expensive speakers, for a start, have to be paid by somebody. Rent-a-profs are available for almost any hokum you can think of.  But, like any top of the line hookers, they're expensive. Then there are all the conferences they hold, and all the "research reports" they pump out.

Very little of the money for the ISCS's of this world comes from the pennies of widows and orphans. It comes from very wealthy people and corporations. But why would wealthy people and corporations be interested in the question of climate change?

Well, they don't want people to take climate change seriously. After all, that could put a serious crimp into their plans to develop, say, shale gas. Or to drill for oil in fragile environments like the Arctic. Or to talk tough like the Times and Transcript and the New Brunswick government do about someday passing regulations - maybe - someday - possibly -  and maybe even giving information or asking people what they think or even expressing concern. Really, loose talk like that could cause all kinds of unpleasantness.

So, big-hearted billionaires set up a variation on those think-tanks that are really propaganda fronts for big business. (The Fraser Institute and the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies spring to mind.)

The big daddy of all the climate propaganda fronts is the Heartland Insitute - with which, not surprisingly, the ICSC is on  friendly terms.

So, you see. Climate change actually isn't happening. Nothing to worry about. Close your eyes...go to......sle....Dream of how nice it is that Irving Oil is supporting Bantam hockey....

You can also, of course, find propaganda in the news. Take a look at every report you have seen from Reuters on the fighting in Syria. The tone is always that the Syrian army is constantly attacking poor, innocent civilians while other countries, good countries like us, try to end the suffering - cause that's the kind of folks we are.

Reuters relies heavily for its news on The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Well, geegollywhiz, they don't get much more official than that.

Actually The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is one man who isn't in Syria. He's in England because he has to be there to operate his clothing store. He's also very pro-rebel. (A good news editor should know that.)

Nor is it entirely true that the rebels are helpless civilians. They have artillery. Very few helpless civilians have their own artillery. They have steady supplies of weapons from - ? They halve troops being trained in Turkey. Some, at least, of the rebels, are the sort of people that Reuters usually calls moslem terrorists.

Simple, common sense tells us this is really a civil war between two, well-armed groups, both with substantial backing. If it weren't, it would have been over a long time ago.

Nor is it a struggle for democracy. Nor would the west give a damn if it were. The West has been happily allied for years to some of the most undemocratic and repressive countries in the world - Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, for example. Theycountries have, even recently, been happily klling their innocent civilians without Hilary Clinton even noticing it.

The struggles for "democracy" in Egypt and Libya have ended with no democracy in sight in either country. Libya is in chaos and civil war. In Egypt, the army clings to power and happily deals harshly with prortesters. And in both countries, the rulers are evenn now getting military aid from the US.

The wars of the middle east and Africa are about regime change, getting puppet rulers into power. Democracy and compassion, despite the impression Reuters tries to create, have nothing to do with them.

There's an exciting story headed "Shale gas talk to dominate legislature".  That should be interesting. It sure hasn't dominated the news. Too bad. How are we supposed to follow a debate on which, over a period of ten years, we have been given no information whatever?

How are we supposed to trust a newspaper on this issue when its owner is a big player in shale gas exploration?


  1. ICSC funding is confidential to protect the privacy of our donors so the above attack is simply fabricated. We have never been funded by corporations, industry, foundations or government.

    Tom Harris

    1. Spare me the piety. Nobody accused you of being funded by most of the above.However, I don't see the difference between being funded by a corporation or industry - and being funded by the wealthy people who control them.

      I can well understand your concern for the privacy of your donors. However, there is no need to intrude on their privacy. All you have to do is the make public your budget, and to list the size of each of the donations you receive to match it. No names.

      Otherwise, we have to rely on your honesty.

      And I'll bet you never even heard of the Heartland Foundation.

  2. I only wish you had a widely distributed newspaper, or another accessible vehicle to share your thoughts and knowledge.

    But I see at the Brunswickan, there was another talk regarding voter apathy held on March 28. I wonder, did anyone go?

    But joking aside, its understandable how a vicious feedback loop of disinformation is maintained by the status-quo system.

    As we know, its main objective is to keep many citizens in the dark, perplexed, frustrated, and therefore cynical,and disengaged.

    And, from the average voter's perspective, its simply less taxing on the old noggin after a day of slogging for a measly paycheck, to come home, put the TV on, and watch people backstab each other on Survivor.

    At least there, they might feel they have a semblance of control, as they can at least, superimpose their boss's face onto one of the losers.