Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sept. 4: I confess to malice....

Last night, I was studying the major news stories for today. That's part of what a news editor does. He or she is a person of training (or at least of experience) in the news - what's important, what isn't, which sources are good, which ones are biased or unreliable. I found four stories that seemed to stand out - and made a bet with myself that the The Moncton Times and Transcript would miss all of them.

 And I lost. It got three of the four.

It carried the final report of Quebec's election campaign.(There was a small blooper. It announced the election as being held tomorrow. In fact, it's today.The error happened, probably, because the report was prepared by PostMedia yesterday - and one would think a news editor would notice that. The story is on p. A2, and it carries no useful information whatever about the election.

There is a more useful story on the subject on C 12. C1 has a lesser story about robocalls in the election.

Much of the problem is that the TandT gets its national news from Postmedia, one of our more highly biased news sources - and often a shallow one. There's no hint of just what a dangerous situation Quebec (and all of us) face. And, no, I don't mean a referendum - though that will be dangerous enough with a government in Ottawa that has virtually no support in Quebec.

The big threat is that none of the parties running in Quebec has a credible platform. The PQ is running almost entirely on anti-English bigotry and hysteria. The Liberal party (like most previous governments in Quebec) is up to its ears in corruption. The other parties, like the previous two, are nowhere close to any analysis of Quebec's real problems - let along having any solution.

That means the election could leave us with an increasingly angry and dissatisfied Quebec population- and with a demonstrated predisposition to violence. That won't do any of us any good.

A2 has a very important story on the Mackenzie River watershed. It's essential to us not only for fresh water (which is about to become a very scarce commodity), but also to absorb carbon emissions and so to slow down global warming. And it has already suffered damage from the oilsands project.

And what will Mr. Harper do? Well, he's made that pretty clear. Oil comes first. He continues to ram through oil projects. Tomorrow will be somebody else's problem. If there is a tomorrow.

The T and T also has the story on Obama cooling off Netanyahu on any ideas of attacking Iran. (The story is a week old, but, what the hell, they got it at last.) It began when Obama sharply reduced the American forces taking part in a military exercise with Israeli forces. That wiped out any hope Netanyahu had of having a large American force on hand for the attack.

Suddenly, Netanyahu and his favourite news media have stopped beating the drum for war which he obviously wanted to start before the US election. Obviously, Obama has warned him. This comes as a great relief to US military chiefs, Israeli military chiefs,, Israeli intelligence, and the majority of Israelis. many of whom think Netanyahu is so wildly unrealistic as to be dangerous.  But do we care in Moncton?

Maybe not. But we should. An attack on Iran now would show us what a real gasoline crisis looks like - and maybe even what a real world war looks like.

The report doesn't come close to being a full one, of course. That's because it's from Reuters, the TandT's only source of foreign news.

Oh, Reuters plays its usual game of demonizing government soldiers in Syria. "Syrian army destroys houses."
Yes, it does. What does Reuters think other armies do - give out chocolate bars and build schools for little girls?

The deliberate destruction of houses and the deliberate killing of civilians has become a major purpose of war for ALL countries since the invention of HE artillery and the aerial bomber. In World War Two, the US deliberately firebombed wooden cities in Japan, causing more deaths that the nuclear bombs did.

There was the deliberate bombing of civilians in Camodia that killed a half a million. There was the deliberate bombing of civilians in Vietnam that killed millions. Remember the Iraq war and the special attention to Falujah, the city where people die and babies are born with horrible defects from depleted uranium that the city was shelled with? There are drones daily fired at countries we are not at war with - Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia - and they are killing large numbers of civilians. (But don't worry about. it. The TandT doesn't think it important enough to mention.)

Yes. The Syrian army does terrible things. But neither we nor Syrians rebels are the ones to point self-righteous fingers.

And the missing story?

Arctic ice is disappearing at a much faster rate than earlier realized. And that has greatly accelerated the pace of global warming. But neither Canada nor the US has taken significant steps to deal with global warming. And they're not going to, not so long as there's an oil industry. )Duh, yeah, duh, I know we'll destroy the earth. But, duh, it could create some good jobs for a while.)

A6 and A7 are all pictures - of people smiling, jumping, etc. on Labour Day. Real newspapers for grownups don't do that. The implication is clear - and it happens often - the TandT thinks its buyers are too stupid to read. So give them lots of pictures, irrelevant pictures. It's cheap. It fills space. And it says nothing whatever.  And once again, the TandT gets through a whole Labour Day weekend without ever mentioning what it's about.

How about we rename it Irving Day? Boy, then it would get serious coverage.

On the op ed page, Alan Cochrane tells us a story about the Dieppe Raid. But what he tells us is a story that the paper has already carried at least twice - and he has nothing new to add. This is the story that the raid was really a success because it was a cover for a commando raid to get vital information. All Cochrane does is to add mistakes. In Fleming, for example, was not "the top" British intelligence officer. In fact, he was widely regarded as a bit of a kook in the intelligence service.

And if there was such a special group, the Canadians could have been landed at a better spot so that half of them would not have been killed or captured. Nor was there any point in landing them at all after the Germans realized they were on their way. It was not a brilliant tactic. It was a costly blunder.

In the middle of his article, Cochrane does say "I have trouble  believing the entire attack was staged for just a "pinch raid." " But then he spends the rest of the article believing it.

And again, in a Canada full of military historians, he does not ask any of them for their reactions. Tell you what, Allan, I could give you a list of names - and how to get in touch with them.

Oh, and think about this sentence. "The historian..... spent fifteen years digging through war documents that were just recently declassified by the British government."       ???????

If there were "just recently" declassified, how could he have spent fifteen years digging through them?

But above all people at the TandT should learn to ask questions - from people who know what they're talking about (which means not people who are the usual academic hacks they ask.)

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