Monday, October 29, 2012

Oct. 29: Okay. No more mr. nice guy.

An island off the coast of BC, Haida Gwaii, has been making news around the world for over a week. It's even the subject of a UN investigation. At last, it's made The Moncton Times and Transcript. The island, a home of our Haida native peoples, is one of the poorest communities in Canada, with an unemployment rate of 70% due to the shutting down of local resource industries. Then, along came a smooth-talking promoter. He would dump a hundred tons of dirt and iron particles into the ocean  That would spark a growth in the salmon population, and bring the fishery and prosperity back. All the Haida had to do was to come up with, oh, say,  three million dollars.

Scientists said the idea was crazy, and perhaps dangerous and even illegal. But the Haida were desperate. They had a trust fund of half a million; and they used it then, somehow, borrowed the rest. No inspectors appeared to look over the scheme - though they were supposed to. No permission was sought to dump a hundred tons of iron particles into Canadian waters. No federal department showed any evidence that it gave a damn. So it was done. That cost three million dollars.

This looks very much like a scam, quite possibly a very dangerous one, inflicted on the poorest and most helpless people in Canada. That's why the whole world is interested.

Oh, The Moncton Times still hasn't run a story on it. What made today's paper is that the island had an earthquake.

You'd think an editor, on seeing the earthquake story, would have thought, "Gee. Isn't that the same place where.....?" I don't know whether TandT editors are ignorant of their craft or just sloppy. But the choice does seem to have narrowed down to those two.

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The two stories on Brian Gallant and the Liberal leadership could have been written by a public relations hack for Gallant. Probably, they were. He's going to go on a path -----wait for it-----forward. In setting policy, he's going to listen to ---the MLAs. Boy! That's a huge change for Alward. Remember? He was going to listen to ---- the people. And we all know  how well that worked..

Look,  all you politicians, the words Liberal and Conservative are supposed to mean something. They are supposed to indicate the world view and principles of the party. But  I have never seen any leader of those parties at any level lay out those principles. And certainly not the real ones.)

Typically, the reporter does not seem to have asked a single question. Typically, the words are loaded to give a favourable impression. That line about going on a path forward is typical. (I guess we should be happy he doesn't intend to got sideways or backward.) Oh, and he's going to take a "new approach'.  Wow! A new approach! Well I guess that settles it.

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In a blatant piece of propaganda, the TandT has two, full pages of an interview with professor Lapierre on the shale gas issue. The questioner is the TandT's expert soft-ball pitcher tossing slow ones in an arc over the plate. Dr. Lapierre plays the batter who whiffs every shot, then grins as if he's hit a homer.

Dr. Lapierre is not a medical person. He gives an interview which is is direct contradiction to Dr. Cleary, the province's chief medical officer. - and to just  about every doctor in the province (and beyond). He even contradicts himself.

When he is asked about health and environment concerns, he says, "If it's detrimental to the health of New Brunswickers and destroys our environment, then it's not a good option." Just a little later on, he dismisses the idea of risk on the grounds that there is risk in everything. Then he uses examples of risks that did cause damage, and laughs them off.

Above all, the medical profession of the province - and of most of the world - says that the damage to health DOES occur with fracking. And Dr. Lapierre does not have any competence to dismiss their opinions. He knows that. Any academic knows what the limits to his training are.

Incidentally, the opening question is about his mandate. By his own answer, he shows that he did not have a mandate to make the judgements he did. Then he covers it up with bafflegab.

I was reluctant at first to criticize Dr. Lapierre. After all, he could be just a naive prof. There are lots of them. A smart one would have known the mandate made no sense in the first place. What could we possibly learn from a very small sampling for NBers who turn up at randomly chosen meeting places? I mean, that's pretty damned unscientific.

But he is not naive. He has allowed himself to be used by the shale gas industry. He has given advice that he knows is far beyond his competence. He has waved a dismissal at the whole medical profession. This is arrogant. This is unprofessional. This is, by any standard, unethical. In a good university, he would find himself under heavy fire for what he has done. (In that sense of good, and luckily for him, there are few good universities in this world.)


And the TandT gave this a full, two pages, the most space I have ever seen given in this paper (with the exception, of course, of pictures of nothing in particular.) Oh, yeah, while there's a lot of contempt to be shared, let's take a look at a question by Brent Mazerolle. In asking his first question, Brent offers some subtle paragraphs of defense for the prof.

In his question, Mazerolle says Lapierre's proposal was bound to be criticized though, in fact, he chose a compromise.
a) He did not choose a compromise. He came down quite clearly on the side of the government and its bosses in the shale gas industry.
b) To say he offered a compromise is to speak in his defense. But a reporter is not there to defend anybody. A reporter is there to ask questions. You ask questions. Brent. Prof. Lapierre is the one who defends himself.
c)He does not ask a single question about the Cleary report, though Prof. Lapierre himself contradicted it.
d) When Lapierre airily dismissed the pollution caused by other industries such as airlines, paper mills, trucking, Mazerrolle didn't have the wit to point out that the damage caused by those surely contradicts Lapierre's point.

It was a week or so ago that Mazerolle made a comment about how tough reporters can be in an interview scrum.  Really? Well, I don't need it. I already have a pussycat.

BTW - a question for the scrum. Is Lapierre on a speaking circuit? Who's paying for it?

New Brunswickers, if you accept this gross, lying crap from journalism,academia, government and business, then I can only advise your children to get the hell out of this province ASAP.

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I should take the editorial about wearing poppies seriously. (And, in fact, I wouldn't dream of letting this time pass without one.) But I feel a need to make it clear that that I wear them for those who served. I do not, in any way, wear them, to in any way suggest support for the Canadian politicians and the Canadian people who send our military to die in wars for greed - like Afghanistan and Libya, and the many more coming up.

(Oh, yeah. and the "just pretend" peacekeeping mission to Haiti which was actually a mission to overthrow the elected government, put in a puppet, and keep that island deep in misery and poverty. This is where, years after an earthquake, much of the rubble still has not been moved, sanitation is worse than ever, 51 died in recent days when a hurricane hit that miserable land where hundreds of thousands still live under canvas shelters. Thank you, Canada.)
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Good column on bullying by Norbert. I'd go a step further and mention most of the garbage reality shows that appear on TV - the humiliation shows like Jerry Springer.

Alec Bruce's column is hilarious, and reminds me of a recipe from New Orleans - deep-fried hamburger. That's right. The whole blessed thing - meat, bun, cheese, salad, bacon, spices - all of it is deep-fried in one piece. Yum!

Alan Abel touches on a subject but, being Alan Abel, completely fails to understand how serious it is - or even what it means.

Craig Babstock is Craig Babstock - who makes Alan Abel look serious and highly intellectual.

Pretty slim pickings for Oct. 29.
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Oh, Norbert - about your headline - "None of us are blameless...."

No, no, no, Norbert. 'Are' is plural.. That is, you use are with 2,3,4, etc. One is singular - so that would be be one is. For example, one is enough.

But none - well that's even less that one. So you should always say, "None of us is blameless....."

You see, as you have used it, it looks as though "are" is the verb for "us" when, in fact, it is the verb for "none". So - none is....

Write it a hundred times.













2 comments:

  1. The Nice guy approach didn't last very long ! ;) Andie C

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  2. Why is it okay that Lapierre is also a director of NB Power? Isn't this a blatant conflict? http://www.nbpower.com/html/en/about/management/directors.html

    ReplyDelete