Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sept. 13: Maybe I'm too hard on the TandT....

...maybe they aren't lying. Maybe they're just illiterate.

A1. "Billboard company cuts Dieppe presence" Wow! Those words clearly indicate that a billboard company has done something. It has cut its presence in Dieppe. That impression is reinforced on p. A 15. "Billboard company reduces Dieppe presence".  Again, it is the company that has taken action. And it is a company that has just been fined for infractions of the Dieppe signs bylaw which requires bilingual signs.

So, the invisible sub headline is "Pattison Outdoor Advertising tells French where to get off."

Now, I am no admirer of any law that tells private companies what language their signs should be in. I've seen it in Quebec. I've seen the idiocy and trouble it can lead to. I also think that city councils which operate on the principle that you can make people respect the language of others by forcing them to put up signs in your language - especially with the added idiocy that the language they have to respect must go on top - are being pretty stupid.

I grew up in a Montreal district in which most people were French - and so were most signs. And some French who lived in majority English districts saw more English signs. Big deal. I thought nothing of it. Then, a law that required ALL signs to be in French only or to have French in letters twice as big as English did not make me respect my French neighbours more. Quite the contrary.

I think advertisers in a francophone district should have advertising that is at least bilingual - or even unilingual French. But it's up to them. They're the ones with something to sell. Passing a law in such a case is simply going to encourage resentment and even bigotry on both sides. But back to Pattison Outdoor Advertising...

What Pattison did was to say his business in Dieppe is slowing because advertisers don't like the extra expense. In that respect, Pattison was not cutting or reducing or doing anything.   And the one thing he did do was to take down one (count them, one) billboard.

In other worse, that only thing Pattison did in any sense of the word 'cut' was to take down one billboard. That means the story has one hell of a misleading headline. And why does taking down one billboard justify a  front page story that, in its continuation, goes on for almost a full page?

It this a deliberate attempt to stir up anglo bigotry? Or is the Moncton Times and Transcript simply incompetent? Bookies are offering 50/50.

A4 has a gush-gush, kiss-kiss story about Frank McKenna.

There's an important story in Newstoday, page 1. "Pakistan factory fires kill 314 workers". It's important because someday soon, it could be about you.

The workers, in two factories, died because conditions in the factories were unsafe. Of course. Pakistan has virtually no safety regulations or enforcement for private business, and only weak unions to put pressure on factory owners. Why should the owners care about safety? They're in business to make profits. Safety cuts into profits. So they hire workers cheap, demand long hours, and don't give a damn about safety.

We're part of that. It's part of what's called globalization. It's what gives us low prices on clothes and electronics. And who are the owners who care so little about human life? Well, a good many of them are members of some of Canada's "better" families. And they care as much (or as little) for people  in Canada as they do for those in Pakistan.

Think of that. Think shale gas. Think oilsands. Think Arctic oil drilling. Think breaking up unions. After all, ordinary people have very little "worth". Remember that term when it has been used in the TandT in connection with our bus strike?

Factories in Canada used to be like the ones in Pakistan. And it wasn't the owners who cleaned things up. It took voters and unions almost a century to do that. Now, we're heading back to the bad, old days. Get used to it. Investors don't give a damn about you or  your family or your health. They even lack the wit to understand that all this greed and damage is eventually going to hurt them.

Read the whole story. It's also about you.

C16 has another important story - that because of the murder of the US ambassador to Libya, Canada is worried about the safety of its diplomats over much of the world. I have a special concern, here. One of my early students is now Canada's ambassador to a Moslem country. When I last saw him, a half-dozen years ago, he was already living in danger. An armed guard was constantly with him, and  his car had light armour. It's needed because in much of the world Canada is perceived (rightly) as being a puppet for American big business. My former student, much as I like him, is quite clearly such a puppet.

Harper broke diplomatic relations with Iran. It was to make attacks on Iran that have no practical effect on anything. He withdrew the diplomatic staff from Iran because,  he said, he did not want to leave them in danger of attack from an Iranian mob. There are two problems with that.
1. He made his attack on Iran while the staff was still there - and needed a week to get out. Great way to protect them.
2. That act, as we now see, has put our diplomats around the world in danger. Great thinking, Steve.Are you going to withdraw them all?

Oh - a cute note. Read the last sentence of the story. It's about how terrorism became a major concern after 9/11. That's the day 2,700 Americans died in New York.

Actually, there were acts of terrorism long before that.

From 1965 to 1973, the US airforce dropped on Cambodia far more tonnage of bombs than had been dropped by all the allied forces all over the world during World War Two, making Cambodia, a country the US wasn't even at war with, the most heavily bombed country in history. Estimates of the dead range to 600,000 and more. It was done -and this was openly admitted - to cause terror. I think that's what's called terrorism.

Before and into the administration of George Bush sr., the CIA directed a genocide of Maya civilians in Guatemala. The dead included men, women, children, babies. Whole villages were wiped out. I think that's called terrorism.

But it's not the same is it? We grieve with New York. But we never even think of those civilians our side has murdered and still murders. I mean, they're not people like us. Not really. So we mourn for the victims in New York. But any Canadian who suggested we should mourn for the Cambodians or the Maya would be regarded as a crackpot. It can be terrible to kill in order to terrorize. But it depends on who is the killer, and who is the victim.

So terrorism didn't become a concern until 9/11.

The editorial is a kiss-up to some rich people. It uses big words to make itself sound important.

Norbert's column is trivial - but interesting. However, it should not be on an editorial page. That page - and op ed - is for serious comment. I have seen nothing to suggest that Norbert is capable of serious and informed comment. I would cettainly encourage him write the sort of catchily interesting stuff he can do: but put it a few pages earlier in the Life and Times section.

Alec Bruce's column can seldom be long enough to say all that I'm sure he could say. Today's is a good one. But I'll just add a blunt bit.

The defence industries in Canada and the US are as corrupt as they come. The reason Canada cancelled the Arrow is quite possibly because the US defence industry wanted a monopoly on aircraft production. The reason we're getting stuck with an American fighter plane with a price tag that can climb faster than any jet can is because the major purpose of the defence industry is to rip off tax-payers. Harper will stick with an American plane that doesn't work because those are the rules of the US-Canada relationship.

The defence industry has always been like that. If you know an old hunter, ask him about the Ross rifle.

Rod Allen's op ed column begins with a photo of him showing a straight face. That's the only part of the column worth looking at.The rest of the column is about an idea for students that will be appealing for old grouches of low intelligence, but raise raise enormous educational and social problems.

Jody Allaire is, as always, intelligent and well-informed. It's also a reminder that the world can march backwards as well as forwards - and commonly goes backward more quickly than forward.

There's an interesting Letter to the Editor about nurses. I was appalled to read about the salaries and working conditions of nurses. However, I think she makes a big mistake in attacking the bus drivers as if they were the cause of her problems. That's playing an old game. I'm our sure our bosses love the underpaid to fight the underpaid. But the reality is that it is not the bus drivers who are to blame for conditions in nursing. Nor will them getting less pay mean the nurses will get more. On contrary, if the bosses can get away with paying the drivers less, then they'll also try to pay the nurses less.

Fight  your enemy. Don't fight someone who's in the same boat as you.

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