There's a remarkable story that is not in Saturday TandT - though it has appeared in papers around the world. Let me bore you a little bit at the start because it's related to a problem that has long bothered me about the Times and Transcript.
The editorial layout of the Moncton Times and Transcript is puzzling. The only sections that appear to have been organized by an intelligent life form are Sports, celebrity news, horoscopes and advice, and the comics.
The front page, normally the locale for big news of the day, is a graveyard of trivia in the TandT. The rest of Section A is usually local and provincial news, but with the occaisonal national or international story. Why?
NewsToday looks like it should be the foreign and national news section - as though Canada were a foreign country. But even that isn't consistent. The section for September 8 carries a reminder that tickets are still available to see Wayne Gretzky (be still, my heart) when he comes to Moncton.
Any foreign news stories come from Reuters, and national ones from PostMedia - neither of them with any great reputation for reliability. But I suppose the TandT must get a special rate. Both of these sources are so unreliable that one cannot begin to understand the news by reading them. That's where columnists can help.
But the TandT has only four columnists who know what they're talking about - and only of them appears daily. The editorials are essentially propaganda for the boss. The staff writers specialize in personal trivia that no serious newspaper would tolerate; and Norbert just loves rambling on about subjects he know nothing about - like Quebec.
It's a sloppy paper. It's a lazy one. But what particularly caught my attention recently was a very large story on Harper at a trade conference. It's long. It's boring. And it will mean close to nothing to most readers. in fact, it's a prime example of why newspapers need opinion columns. But what caught my attention is that this was not the Harper/trade conference story that appeared in most newspapers around the world.
Unlike others, the TandT didn't mention Putin. But Putin and Harper had a personal and private meeting. I don't know. It seems to me that a meeting between Harper and Putin is kind of newsworthy. And in that meeting they discussed an issue that had made the news day after day. And Putin had something new and newsworthy to say about it. So why didn't the TandT, like The Globe and other newspapers around the world mention it?
Putin told Harper that the two year sentence of the Pussy Riot girls for blasphemy in a church had high support from the Russian people - and even more so because Pussy riot had just shortly before that staged a group sex show at a Moscow Museum.
Now, Putin in not a nice guy. He rose by dint of a career of murder, torture and brutality. It's quite possible, even probable, he ordered those prison terms. In fact, the career of Putin has been very similar to that of George Bush Sr. The elder Bush, too, made his way up as a high level assassin. For example, he was head of the CIA at the height of the slaughter of a quarter million Maya civilians. That means he was also no stranger to torture. There are, I'm afraid, few nice buys on either side.
Now, if Pussy Riot did put on a group sex performance, and if the general public in Russia knew about it and was profoundly offended (and it if was on facebook), how come we never heard about it? Western reporters covering the trial - even the Reuters ones, would almost certainly have been residents of Moscow, and fluently bilingual. How is it possible they never heard about a group sex show in a major, Moscow museum? And if the Russian public was angry about that, how come they never reported it?
And if the TandT found it important enough to run several stories about the trial and the church blasphemy, how come it never mentioned the public,group sex? Would public group sex be acceptable at, say, the Moncton library? Would storming a Baptist church to desecrate it win applause from the Moncton Times and Transcript? The Reality is that Pussy Riot could well have received two years in any Canadian or American court for a similar crime. For example:
An American woman who served in the military turned against the Afghanistan war based on what she had seen. She came to Canada for refuge. Harper, his nose never far from the bottom of an American president, ordered her deported. She faces separation from her child, and a prison sentence. Will Madonna put in a plea for her? Will the Times and Transcript follow the case day by day?
Pvt. Bradley Manning has been over a year in solitary with torture, and is now facing a secret trial for his involvement in Wikkileaks.. He will almost certainly be returned to a military prison for the rest of his life, much or all of it in solitary (though the UN defines solitary as torture.) Read much about that in the TandT?
The poverty stricken in parts of Latin America face prison for stealing a glass of clean water, since all clean water in many countries is now the property of the privately owned (and usually American) water company.
But we never read reports about that from Reuters or PostMedia.
I don't know the truth about the Pussy Riot. I do know that Canada or the US could quite likely hand down a similar sentence for such an attack on a church.And I'm certainly sure it would if there was also a public display of group sex.
But the Moncton Times and Transcript didn't even find it worth reporting on.
This is a trivial, lazy and incompetent newspaper. Why? Because it's sole puprose is to keep New Brunswickers in the dark. That's the way the boss likes it.