It's another slim day in the Moncton Times and Transcript. I got a sense of that even before I saw the paper. As I drove my children to school, I heard on CBC radio that the government knew months ago that its spending was going to go substantially into the red, despite promises to the contrary. That was at the end of the first quarter for the budget year. Normally, that would be rather an important news story. But someone at the top (naming no names, but his last name begins with A) decided there was no need for the voters of NB to know he'd screwed up again.
And, apparently, it never occurred to the news blood hounds at the Irving press to ask. But CBC asked, and it did what a news service is supposed to to do; it found the news and got it out to the public.
CBC is the news service that Norbert Cunningham constantly rants at. But every day, it beats the pants off the newspaper that Norbert works for.
The headline on p. 1 is an excellent example of how to take a news story, and write it up as propaganda. The story is that the purchase of Highland Square as a site for the "events centre" has been postponed for six months. But that's not what the headline says. "Downtown events centre to open by 2017?" Isn't that a strange way to announce a postponement?
Well, not if you work for a newspaper that's pimpimg for the sale. A delay is a setback. A setback is a downer. The editor didn't want a downer. He wanted a headline that would pump up excitement for the sale. So most of the article isn't about the real story. The only thing that has happened is that the sale has been postponed. But none of the headline and less than half the story is about that. It's about keeping up the excitement. Wow! 2017!
My guess? It won't happen.
The second biggest story in Section A is that a woman found a dead pigeon hanging from her roof. Police do not suspect foul play. The pigeon's relatives have been informed..
And that pretty well sums up section A.
NewToday has not a word on the utter chaos gripping Syria and Libya, two more cases of the western powers (with the help of their Moslem allies in Turkey and the emirates), encouraging civil wars in countries - and hopelessly botching the whole operation, and doing so at a dreadful cost in human life and suffering.
On the good side, The Tandt did get the story I mentioned earlier about how Veteran's Affairs has been turning down most requests for funeral subsidies for impoverished veterans. It's a good three days late. But they did at last get it.
Perhaps the most important article for local readers is on place C3. It's a highly critical article about the treatment of Ashley Smith, with new information that makes our prison system look even worse. And this is supposed to represent how Harper will deal with crime. It is not an impressive start.
Norbert Cunningham contributes a decent column on bicycle helmets. That's important because the newspapers owner almost certainly doesn't give a damn about helmets one way or the other. So it's a safe topic.
Alec Bruce's column is an important one; and I could wish he had taken it a step further. He talks about the trend of the well-connected (and often very wealthy) to gather is solemn conferences to discuss the world's problems. The danger here is that these well-connected people (often owners of newspapers and other news media) can use these conferences to influence government - and even to push government aside.
I think here of the conference, almost two years ago, of business leaders and university presidents, etc. to discuss New Brunswick's problems. All the fixes, of course, involved doing nice things for large corporations. (Ordinary people, us peasants, don't get invited to give their opinions.) As a result, Mr. Irving ended up making a public statement that he was now in coalition with the government. That means - he was a member of it - and that is unconstitutional. But it worked. The official advisers on financial policy for our government are now chosen by and from the corporate world. What the hell are they doing advising on our financial future? We didn't elect them.
Nor am I cheered to read that a gang of propagandists for the very rich, the Atlantic Instititute for Market Studies is joining the game with more of their shallow and heavily biased "studies". What is happening is that big business and the very wealthy are taking over government. Their tools are the news media, 'think tanks', many professors and university presidents.
In a closely related story, a reader dropped a note to me about something I had not noticed. This appeared in the proudly independent and world-respected Telegraphy-Journal. It's about some advice given by Donald Savoie, retired professor of Important Things at U de Moncton, and now a favourite source for interviews by the Irving Press. It seems he blamed the Greek economic crisis on the oversized and expensive civil service.
That is such a blatant untruth, I find it hard to imagine a professor of anything, let alone Important Things, could talk such nonsense. The Greek crisis, like all the crises we are seeing, has a lot to do with thieving and possibly even criminal behaviour by our corporate leaders. The idea that the cost of a civil service, even considering the expense of wines, cocaine, and dancing girls, could have caused the world catastrophe, the one that struck down Greece among others, is bizarre. So why say it?
It gets said because there is a concentrated attack in the West on civil servants. By cutting down on civil servants, you seriously weaken government., making it far less important in setting and enforcing policies. (That's why Norbert and other TandT writers are encouraged to rant about civil servants. The boss approves of it.)
And why would the wealthy approve of it? Because the power vacuum we create for our elected representatives will be filled by someone else. There is always someone to fill a power vacuum. And the vacuum will be filled (as a good deal of it already is, by corporate leaders - with plenty of help from retired professors of Important Things.)
We are watching the deliberate erosion of democracy so that it can be replaced with the power of money.
Remember - this evening at 7 at the Moncton Library -I'll be talking about the very broad picture of what is happening in the world - yes, and even New Brunswick.