Monday, April 9, 2012

April 9: y' did good, Norbert - almost real good....

You have to read Norbert Cunningham's column today. It's a bombshell.

He writes about the Aral Sea, once a real, inland sea with its waters supporting a shipping trade, commercial fishing, and supplying water for an immense and rich agricultural region. That was just  twenty years ago.

Today, what was a seabed is mostly desert. All its fish species are extinct. The lands around it are barren.  All of t his was done by overuse, by chemical poisoning of land and water, a poisoning that the winds now carry, 70 million tonnes, of it a year to dump over the greater part of a continent.

This is a column you must read for yourself.

But there's a connection to be made which, unfortunately, Norbert does not make.

Think New Brunswick. Think fracking. Think of the arrogance, the willful shortsightedness of the politicians and business leaders,  think of the greed, think of the human waste and suffering, think of the permanent damage that was done to the Aral Sea region in just twenty years. Think of Alward and his puppets. Think of out corporate aristocracy.

Alec Bruce has his usual, solid column, this time on Harper, MacKay, and the F-35. (MacKay, a man whose only talent seems to be patronizing a good barber, was once a contender for the Conservative leadership!) We're in serious trouble.We have a government of little and very regional national support, and one that displays both incompetence, and a contempt for democratic practice - and it has a long way to go.

You can give most of the rest of the paper a miss (though de Adder gas a pretty good editorial cartoon.)

Then we have Craig Babstock on the op ed page waxing eloquent about Canada's failure to support an N.B. farmer who was held in a Lebanese jail. I think his point is well taken - but...

Where was he when a Canadian boy of 15 was imprisoned by American troops (illegal), held in prison on no charge or tria l (illegal), transferred long term to a concentration camp (illegal), tortured (illegal), tried by the military (illegal) using information gained by torture (illegal).....?

Where were all the Craig Babstocks of Canadian journalism when that happened?

Where were they when Canadian officials themselves handed over Canadians for illegal torture by the US? Where were they when our own CSIS cooperated in the questioning?

Where were they when a Canadian citizen was arrested and hanged in Texas in a case marked by irregularities?

Canadian governments have historically stood by with their faces hanging out while Canadian citizens were treated improperly. But Canadian journalists have rarely given a damn - unless, of course, it's a New Brunswick journalist, and the victim is a New Brunswick potato farmer. And, the offending country is one of them there iggerant foreign places.

There's a curious news story on the front page. The province is looking for developers to put forward a plan for the current MHS building. It will be a plan that will "preserve heritage", "boost the economy", "preserve history"....   In other words, it will be a giveaway to some friend of the government to do what he likes with it.

The City of Moncton's Heritage Preservation and Review Board will be consulted. Well, that inspires confidence. Hint - a heritage preservation and review board is supposed to be working with whoever is planning the future development of the city. They're not supposed to ask developers for a plan. They're supposed to have one.

The "news" story carries no hint of this. Nor does it indicate that any critic of the plan was interviewed by the reporter. This isn't a news story. It's just a press release.

The front page has another reportorial gem of the same sort on the front page. This is a big story about how seafood processing plants have to bring in workers from such places as Jamaica, The Phillipines and Mexico.

It seems that there are no workers available in this province with a  high unemployment rate. Well, gee,if that's the problem, then the US is lot closer - and has a dreadfully high unemployment rate.

But - and this is reported with, presumably, a straight face, boiling and chopping up lobsters is hard work - and people from Jamaica, Mexico and The Phillipines are stronger than New Brunswickers. (Seriously. Top of p. A8.)

Again, we have a news report that asks no questions. The reporter simply wrote what he was told to write. There's a powerful smell to this story - and it's not fish.

Almost the only news in this paper is in the sports section. That is also the only section in which local reporters ask questions, and suggest some opinion. It is the section with the broadest and most intense coverage, with the fewest ads. There is no topic in The Moncton Times and Transcript so fully and professionally covered as sport.

That's good news for sports fans; not so good for a society that has to survive in the grownup world.

There's almost a full column on a hockey goon who just got his first point of the season by scoring into an empty net. Like most of the stories in the sports section, it doesn't really matter a damn one way or the other.

What we are facing is a US well into a social meltdown with, as byproducts, a return to the violent racial hatreds of a centurty ago, the rapid destruction of the rights and freedoms of the constitution, massive poverty, massive spying on ordinary citizens, complete control of every government by the wealthy. Canada is not far behind.

We are dangerously close to World War Three - and facing it with western armies which have not won a war of any size since 1945. (No. Don't kid yourself that Iraq was either a great or lasting victory.)

Here in New Brunswick, fracking is going to be rammed down our throats (literally). If they get away with it, the damage will be severe and permanent. And don't kid yourself there will be anything significant in it for us. That's not the way the bosses run New Brunswick.

Both Moncton and the province as a whole face devastating problems with fuel costs as well as fuel damage. Soon.  Very soon. There is no evidence that any level of government has given any thought to it.

But we do know that the Utah basketball team has won 29 games this season.

The emperors of Rome had it right. Keep the people excited about watching games. That way, they won't even notice that you're ripping them off.

I thought of that on a Spring day in Rome as I sat in the ruins of the Colosseum. Within earshot was a part of the wall of ancient Rome. On the day the barbarians stormed the city, the Romans sitting where I was could have heard the shouts and the screams of those wounded and dying on the walls.

But nobody noticed.  They saw and heard only the games.

The Moncton Times and Tribune is our Colosseum.

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