Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 23: Why is it called a newspaper?

The Moncton Times and Transcript for today must be well over half advertising. Then there are more, damned grad photos. Then there are pages of comics,  advice columns, horoscopes. And then when do find a lonely piece of news, it's a "who cares" item. Donne moi un break.

Where is all the information on shale gas we were promised? Where are the reasons for choosing Royal Oaks over other sites for a new high school?  I mean, I know that nobody in Frederiction gives a damn about what happens to our children or why. But surely we're allowed to know why our tax money is being spent as it is. But, no. Our infrastructure minister on the first page says he doesn't care what we think. He's going ahead; and he's not going to tell us anything. (There's obviously a spelling error in his first name. Surely, it must be Clod.)

And the editorial on the same subject is so wacky, it's worth reading for its tone of hysteria and illogic. It seems four citizens are taking the school case to court. And I should think that not unreasonable in your average democracy.

But the strident 'We say" insert pronounces 'Hoax' group has descended into hysteria, hyperbole and hype. Anybody who could writes a sentence like that about citizens taking a case to court certainly knows something about hysteria, hyperbole and hype.

The school location was, says the editorial writer, discussed, debated, and consulted on for years. (Where do they find these half-wit editorial writers?) There is not the slightest evidence the government paid any attention to any discussion, debate or consultation. In fact, it still refuses to tell us what the other sites were, and why they were rejected.

As to the choice of location beinig a provincial power - no doubt. But even an MLA as elevated as Clod Williams has an obligation in a democracy to give a full explanation to the voters. And he has consistently refused to do so.

Then the writer goes ballistic over the use of the term 'royal hoax'. Goodeness gracious, says the editor, "...a hoax is a fraud; a crime. To imply that the provincial government has committed a crime by carrying out its mandate is patently absurd."

Well, at least that's worth a giggle. But it's also betrays an ignorance of the English language.

Nobody has said the government committed a crime BY carryinig out its mandate. The suggestion is it committed a crime IN THE WAY it carried out its mandate. See the difference Mr. editor?

No. Of course not.

It's interesting to compare Bill Belliveau's column on the Rio environment council to the news statement by our evironment minister Peter Kent. Belliveau says it was a zero. Kent says it was a great success. Both are right.

The Candian  government wanted it to be a zero. So it was a big success for Harper. It was a disaster only for the rest of the world.

As a person who once taught journalism ethics, I was shocked at a photo identified as that of a panhandler. (p. A2.) Such photos are standard practice in scandal tabloids. But real newspapers normally do not run photos that could identify people and place them in a bad light. Exceptions might be those arrested for crimes or caught in an illegal act. This photo does not fit into the exceptions. This is just bad taste and bad journalism.

Christina Korotkov makes a good point that we have a right to express our religious thoughts and beliefs. We certainly have such a right - and we should use it. Though a Christian, she is fond of a quotation from Ghandi, a Hindu; and she suspects some people would be critical of that.

Well, some would be but, like most, major religions, Hinduism, like Islam and Confucianism, makes a great deal of sense. And they can be quite compatible with each other. (Remember, it was not Hindus who invaded Britain and subjugated the Christians.)

My problem is with Christians who get so obsessed with irrelevancies in their faith (like whether the three wise men came on camels or Harleys) that they spend all their time talking about their faith but not time living it. It's possible you might know some like that, even here in Moncton.

There's no real news in the Moncton Truthful Times today. Did anything happen in the world? Well, the US has announced plans to send troops into Pakistan looking for 'militants'. Sending troops into another country without its permission is called war. Mind you, the US has been bombing Pakistan for well over a year, killing uncounted numbers of people, apparently most of them innocent civilians. That, too, is called war.

It has also been using drones to kill people at gatherings like wedding parties in Somalia and Yemen, and to spy on Iran, Syria, Russia. It has also been carrying out cyber attacks on Iran. These are all acts of war.

Under the US constitution, only congress can declare war. Under international law, such attacks are criminal. (The US has tortured Omar Khadr, convicted him by a military court, and now holds him in a military prison. That, too, is criminal under international law.)

The reality is that the US constitution is now largely fiction. Presidents freely go to war, and Congress doesn't even get to say say boo. It operates the largest torture system in the world, freely bombs countries whenever it feels like it. International law, an achievement that took tens of thousands of years to accomplish, is a dead letter. For Americans, the right to have charges laid and to have a trial is gone. They can be (and have been) imprisoned without it.

Remember Libya, the country we bombed for 'humanitarian' reasons? It's now well into civil war, a madhouse of rape, pillage, indiscriminate murder. On Nov. 11, we'll thank our air force for bringing peace and democracy to it

Lots of stuff like that.

But the TandT only had room (all those prom pictures and ads) for serious stuff, like how terrible it is to suggest that our provincial government might not be entirely honest and open.

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