Monday, June 4, 2012

Junw 3: Time marches on....

When I was a child, torture was evil, disgusting, something so brutal it was done only by Naziis.  But we're more broad-minded now. The US no longer bothers to keep it a secret that it tortures people on an industrial scale. It has Guantanamo, of course. It also has prisons around the world, in places like Poland. It used to sent prisoners to Syria for torture, thanks to the cooperation of its staunch ally, the president of Syria (who is now officially evil and has to be replaced.)

We learned, years ago, that Canada has been complicit in this torture. It has turned Canadian citizens over to the US for torture. Canada's equivalent of the CIA, our own CSIS, has "cooperated" in torture sessions with the CIA.

In fact, we and the US and Britain and France and so many others have always used torture.

Very recently, a United Nations committee criticized Canada for allowing Canadian citizens and others to be exposed to torture. Canada also, it wrote,  knowingly protects war criminals from arrest. But don't worry about it. The Times and Transcript isn't worried. It never even mentioned it.

You might remember it, though, on Nov. 11 when we thank those who served in our wars for defending the values we believe in -  even as we throw those values away.

On the more important side, there was a big story about the Queen's 60th Jubilee, and about how Stephen Harper is there. The queen has played her role superbly  for sixty years, though we have to note that the role has been reduced to smiling, occasionally waving, and dealing with scandals caused by her not-very -bright children. (Not her fault. The family has produced a  stunning series of low IQ scores for centuries.)  Elizabeth Second managed to rise above all that.

But she is pretty much irrelevant - more so than any of her predecessors. So why the big spread and the visit by Harper? Because she is irrelevant.

She provides a focus for attention on something that doesn't matter, and that helps us to ignore things that do matter. That suits Harper and The Moncton Times and Transcript to a T.

Then there was the shale gas demonstration on Saturday.  Times and Transcript coverage was done by an intern journalist from St. Thomas university ,Julia Whalen. I met  her briefly just before it ended.She seemed to me to be very bright, with lots of potential - so I advised her not to waste her life on the Irving papers. (I think she was shocked at my opinion of the TandT - and disapproving of me.)

Her story was well written. But, I would add (not as a criticism but as a guide to a student of journalism) that it has two, major gaps.

It tells us that people from the medical profession spoke. But it does not tell us what they said. In fact, it doesn't really tell us what anybody said.

It does not say how unusual it is for medical professionals to take a public stand in such a debate. It doesn't say why they have decided to take a position - or even what that position is.

These are important points. The Irving press has not told us much about the shale gas issue, and almost nothing about the threats it poses. There are a great many people in this province who have no idea what the fuss is about. And there are more who don't know that medical professionals rarely take a public stand on such an issue. For all the descriptions of the sights and sounds, there was not a word about WHY the people at the demonstration were opposed to fracking.

The story describes what the reporter saw. But it doesn't tell us what it was all about. That's like a movie review that says the theater had lots of seats, a big screen, good popcorn - but says nothing about the movie.

Mind you, I realize that the omissions could have had something to to with the editor's scissors. Times and Transcript editors know what the boss wants to see - and doesn't want to see. A good editor (and an honest one) would have noticed the lack of information, and would have pressed for changes. That's why I'm inclined to blame the editor rather than the reporter in this case.

The paper has bits here and there on provincial and federal budgets, including effects on EI, pensions, cutting back on 'frills' like environmental checks...... But they don't really say why it's happening. So here it is in a brief package.

1. Over the last thirty or forty years, major corporations have pretty well taken over most governments. New Brunswick is just one of the more blatant examples.

2. But major corporations are incompetent to govern because all they're interested in is what benefits them. This is exacerbated by their combination of short term vision and greed.

3.Their imcompetence (sometimes criminal) has led to a world-wide recession which shows no sign of easing.

4. Their solution, then, is that we have to pay for the results of their incompetence.- while they demand tax cuts even as they continue to make profits.

What will the result of these cuts be? Considerable suffering for most of us, and worsening recession.
There will be demonstrations and even violence. And people like the TandT editorialist will blame it on us - as theyhave already blamed the recession on us.

Samples of their (probably honest) ignorance can be found in the editorial and in Norbert's column for today. Democracy gets the blame for problems that were really caused by large corporations.  We've been down this road before. Last time, it took many countries into something called fascism.

Alec Bruce takes a different angle. Due to Harper's indifference and even hostility, essential services like medicare and pensions are in trouble.  Alec Bruce sees hope in Atlantic premiers forming a group to transfer much of the decision-making to the provinces, all of theprovinces. I'm afraid I can't share his optimism.

Harper doesn't care about these things because the wealthy who pay for his party doon't need them for themselves, and don't want to see money going to them. Those same people also control most of the provincial governments.

No, an Alward would do what a Harper will do. Let the poor suffer; and let the sick die; and let the lands and waters be poisoned.. Just keep taxes for the rich down; and hang up lots of pictures of the Queen; and make damn sure the schools play O Canada every day.







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