Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May 22: no room for news....

There are close to nine pages, mostly pictures, of the Prince of Wales and Camilla.
There's another full page of pictures, supposedly of people enjoying Victoria day - two people on bicycles, a man fishing another cutting grass - and a lobster boat lying on its side. Wow! Talk about gutsy journalism, and the news you need to know.

In this one day, there was more space devoted to pictures and gush about trivia than I have seen  for reporting on shale gas in the whole time I've lived here. Why, there wasn't even room for the standard page of minimum wage employees holding up giant cheques for charity and smiling.

There was more space devoted to that one picture of a lobster boat lying on its side than has been devoted to reporting on the Quebec student strike - though the student strike has made serious news in papers around the world.

This is  not by accident. Harper, Alward, and the corporations who rule us want us to think trivial, to let them run things. It's not new. Kings and emperors and dictators have done this throughout history. That's what the shows at the Coliseum were all about - to keep the Roman people entertained, trivial, ignorant of what their rulers were doing, ignorant of how they were being ripped off, ignorant even of their own poverty.

And we still have the War of 1812 celebrations to go.

There was news, rather good news in NewsToday. Harper is pulling out of Afghanistan completely in 2014. He didn't even claim that all those years of fighting and all those deaths had achieved anything at all. Nor could he mention what the war was about because we've never heard a plausible reason for it in the first place.

Nor did he mention the damage Obama has done. It was Obama who ordered a bigger war, when he called a troop surge, to end it quickly. In fact, all it did was to increase the butcher's bill, especially for Afghan civilians.

Oh, and be prepared cut unnecessary luxuries like health care and environmental research. Harper has promised to pay $330 million to the government of Afghanistan - the world's most corrupt government - to help cover its defence budget. Right. A nice retirement fund for Karzai.

But didn't the prince and Camilla look lovely? And wow!..that photo of a lobster boat on its side.

Not imporant enough to make today's paper were the Quebec student strike, the Oscar winning documentary Inside Job, the phone call between Blair and Bush just before the invasion of Iraq, and the extraordinary numbers of innocent people behind bars in the US. Very quickly....

1.The Quebec student strike has come to look very much like a general revolt against corrupt government, the growing wealth and power of business leaders while other suffer, the decline of democracy -all those problems we know so well in New Brunswick.

2. Inside Job is a look at the stunning levels of corruption in the American university world - espccially among top academics at the most pretigious institutions. Corrupted by, in particular, large corporations like drug companies, oil producers, major banks, they happily produce false studies, and lie to the news media.
Having spent much of my life in universities, I was not surprised to read that this happens. I've seen enough of it - even in New Brunswick where  I'm pretty sure I've seen the Times and Transcript taking advantage of it. What did suprise me is the scale of rot and corruption in Americn universities, particularly in fields like economics, political science, commerce  (Alas! Nobody even bothers to corrupt historians.). 
The documentary is for sale. Just google Guardian bookshop. Look for Charles Ferguson, Inside Job.

Oh, yes. The documentary also showed that a high proportion of think tanks (you know, organizations like Fraser Insitute, AIMS, that sort of thing) are simply fronts for propaganda.

3. A British court has ordered that the Foreign office must release a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Blair and George Bush shortly before their invasion of Iraq. Apparently, they were trying to start the invasion before UN inspectors could verify their story that Saddam had stocked "weapons of mass destruction". They succeeded, of course. And, to this day, no such weapons have ever been found.

BTW - what is a weapon of mass destruction? The British and Americans killed anywhere from a quarter million to a more likely million and a half, mostly civilians. In either case, that is surely mass destruction.Did they do it using weapons of minimum destruction?

4. A US study has determined that, since 1989, at least 2000 innocent Americans have been found guilty of crimes ranging all the way to murder - usually because of faulty court practices, false confessions, and illegal behaviour by prosecutors. And this just counts the ones who were cleared on appeals. Before they were cleared, most spent years in prison, and at least two were executed.

Gee! You'd never know that from watching Law and Order.

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