Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sept. 29: button, button.......

Who's got the button?

There was sort of a big story on CBC news yesterday. Norbert, I'm sure, would have been interested in it. A number of oil companies face charges for price-fixing in Quebec.  (That's against the law, you know.) One of them was a company called Irving. The company was reported as having its headquarters in St. John. That's quite a coincidence. We have an oil company named Irving that has headquarters in St. John.( But it can't be the same one.)

After all, if it were the Irving oil we all know, then The Moncton Times and Transcript would have had a big story about it. I mean, CBC had to the story out in plenty of time to make the press deadline. But I couldn't find a word about it, not even in the Miss Manners column. Even Rod Allen's Spies didn't know about it.

And - well - just imagine - imagine the coverage if CBC had been charged with price-fixing. Well, that would have have front page, lead editorial, and a full op ed page by Norbert, foaming at the mouth. (Instead, he has a column about how you shouldn't try to sneak a ride on a plane by climbing into a wheel well. Way to tell it like it is, Norbert.)

There was another story I didn't expect to see. But it was there - if only by accident. (It didn't appear as a news story. It appeared as an op ed piece by Gwynne Dyer.)  American drones which have routinely been killing people in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc. for several years, have been killing mostly civilians. That comes from a lengthy study carried out by Stanford University and New York University. (Certainly, it did not come from reading the TandT or Reuters.)

In fact, the civilian dead come to almost 90% of the total score. One reason is the "double tap". The drone fires on a target, goes away, then come back as rescuers arrive at the scene - and it kills the rescuers. God Bless America. Almost all of the North American press has never reported on any of this. This random killing to create fear is precisely what we call terrorism when somebody else does it.

On p. 1, Brent Mazerolle - well - I can kindly call this misleading reporting.

The lead story "Are we correct or cranky" is about a survey which shows that Monctonians are profoundly unhappy with the quality of city services. The headline alone gives away his bias. (Correct or cranky suggests we might just be a bunch of malcontents. And the first, five paragraphs rub that point in. Nothing wrong with Moncton. Just a lot of cranks live here.)

The focus is supposed to be on whether Moncton is a good place to raise children. Now, in fact, the Moncton Times and Transcipt has almost never had a good word to say about our public schools. It was not long ago that it ran the some of the most savage and ignorant editorials I have ever seen - and they were attacking our schools. I don't at all agree with that. But the TandT itself has taken a lead in saying this is not a good place to raise children. Now Brent writes off such critics as cranks. In fact, the only cranks I have seen write for the TandT.

Bad reporting, Brent.

Otherwise, Section A is a great read for lovers of car ads.

NewsToday leads with a silly story about Trudeau, and how good looks are important in choosing a party leader. That's drivel. The line-up of Canadian prime ministers since 1867 will never be confused with the Mr. Canada contest. John A was homely. The longest-serving prime minister in Canadian history was Mackenzie-King who was short, overweight, homely as a post, utterly without charm, and without friends. Despite a lifetime search, he could never find a wife or even a girlfriend. John Diefenbaker? He may have sired an illegitimate son. But lots of homely people do that.

Similarly, Belliveau gushes over Justin Trudeau, even over his very ordinary and rather scattered academic record. Belliveau also has a strange comment about the father and son. "Justin Trudeau is a young man in tune with the times. He is not his father."  ?????????

Pierre Trudeau was not in tune with the times? And what the hell does being in tune with the times mean? What principles does Justin Trudeau stand for? Belliveau appears to be linking that statement to Justin's attitude to oil and shale gas development. Yessirree, maybe being in tune with the times means making all the money we can now without worrying about what the means for the world our children (and even most of us) will have to live in - maybe.

Incidentally, Pierre Trudeau was neither handsome nor outgoing. He was, in fact, a very shy man, quite an introvert. But he could turn on an extroverted, take-charge personality as if by a switch. Those who thought him handsome were, I think, seeing a projection of his intellectual acuity and his confidence. He also had a far more serious academic record than Justin, and far more experience in dealing with public issues.

If the Liberals can't come up with a few more candidates, and some demonstrated abilities, they're in trouble. In fact, it's not just a leader they need. It's some sense of what "Liberal" means.

P. B7 has a story on how our provincial minister of mines and energy, Craig Leonard, is not in a conflict of interest, even though his sister has a senior position in the petroleum industry. (Mr. Leonard has said he wants to make New Brunswick an energy hub with --- well, guess --- firewood?  rubber bands? candles? shale gas?

Nope. No conflict of interest there. But read the article closely. It's so garbled that it's hard to follow. Are their rules for conflict of interest?  Does Mr. Allward have any moral or political position on this? I mean, he is the person who chooses ministers. If he thinks any choice is a bad idea, he has the power not to make it. 

But I can see the political appeal of Mr. Leonard.  The story ends with a  long statement from Mr. Leonard. And, oh, and can this guy talk political gobbledygook. You could cut out at least half of his words without changing the meaning. In fact, you could boil the whole thing down to four words. He likes shale gas.

Oh! Something else the TandT forgot to report. It was announced yesterday that a group in New York had awarded the Richard Nixon prize to Harper. The prize is for courageous and strong leadership in protecting the interests of the rich and powerful.

I remember the days, not that long ago, when Canada was one of the most respected  (if innocuous) countries in the world. Harper has singlehandedly destroyed that. In a recent South American poll of popular political leaders in the Americas, Harper came in 18th.

In particular, his policy toward Israel is confusing, to say the least. Until today, he was holding to an Israel policy that seemed in conflict with that of Obama, and far closer to Netanyahu's demands for war. Indeed, Netanyahu, who is barely on speaking terms with Obama, sat down yesterday for a real kiss-up with Harper.

I have been wondering for some time why Canada was following a policy that seemed to be a contradiction of Obama's. But today, Harper's on p. 1 playing kiss-kiss with Netanyahu while refusing to accept Netanyahu's demand for a red line against Iran.

That's the same as Obama's policy. Yet Netanyahu is smiling and going kiss-kiss back on Harper.

What's going on here? Why is Netanyahu furious with Obama but buddies with Harper?

We are quite possibly on the edge of World War Three. Shouldn't we be thinking our way through to some clearer policy?


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