Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nov. 8: well, lively.......

But let's warm up with the small stuff....
On page A1 we find a story by Alan Cochrane that seniors are furious at companies which impose extra charges on people who pay their monthly bills by mail rather than computer. Quite true. And it's typical of many, many companies, and it's rather like our banks which impose ATM charges for a service that actually saves money for the banks. Not a bad story...but....

It doesn't mention what most news services mentioned two days ago, that the NDP has introduced a bill in the House of Commons to prevent such a practice. So what we have on the front page is a story that's two days old - maybe three - and that leaves out a rather important piece of information. And that piece of information was easy to find. Just go to Google news. So why was it left out?

Hard to tell with the Moncton Times and Transcript. It's chronically a sloppy paper; so that could be it. Or it could be that the editor took out any mention of that nasty NDP.

So much for Section A.

Then there's an amusing headline at the top of the Sports  section, "Miracles have some noteworthy feats".
The sound of that conjured images of a lineup of miracles showing how interesting their feet are, an image strengthened by the photo of a Miracle player with an impressively large foot. But what really caught my eye was the word "some".

"Some" implies "not many". In fact, it's bit derogatory. Worse, it all adds up to a boring headline. It's flat. And it's confusing. After all feats are things that you DO, not that you have. The editor probably wrote that headline; and it's a real stinker. Better might have been "Despite record, Miracles have strong points to watch for".

NewsToday has nothing to speak of. Its "Your Business" page is a story of three business leaders being honoured.   Well,  a)if I'm reading to check my business, I'm not interested in a story that has nothing to do with my business. b) the Tand T ran the same story yesterday.

On the editorial page, good cartoon by de Adder. Norbert's column is okay but, really Norbert, three days on bicycle helmets is a bit much.Alec Bruce has a grim column on the state of the American economy, its politics, and its future. If anything, he may be understating just how grim it is.

There are two pages of letters to the editor. I have no idea why. I imagine it's cheaper than putting together a real newspaper.

One letter is interesting - if only for what it hints at. "Investment survey was well conceived." It replies to a survey by the Fraser Institute on provincial friendliness to business. The Fraser Institute is, of course, a just-pretend 'think tank' that pumps out (pimps out?) propaganda for big business. Alec Bruce's column had wondered how its survey could put NB top of the list for one extraction industry, and bottom for another. (That puzzled me, too, since our government is usually pretty supine for any big business.) The letter glibly explained it all away.

What interested me was that the letter was very well written - the product of a writer who has experience in this sort of writing to explain away things to the public. Then I read his name and his home - Calgary.

Imagine, a reader of the Moncton Times in Calgary. Now, where is that Fraser Institute located? Well, it has its western office in Calgary. What a coincidence!  And the coincidences just keepp coming.  The letter was signed by a Gerry Angevine. And a person of that very same name just happens to be a senior counsellor for the Fraser Institute in Calgary. I guess Gerry Angevine must be a really common name out west.

A good editor would have noticed all that, and would have indicated Angivine's  connection to the institute at the bottom of the letter. That's what's called honest journalism.

Then there's the opinion page and the editorial. These are quite something.

Two days ago, a large number of prominent Acadians published a letter critical of the Irving press for setting a tone that encouraged language division and quarreling in New Brunswick. It was a quite clear, calm and logical letter. The Moncton Times didn't report it. (I knew about it only because I heard it on CBC).

Then the TandT did what papers like it do.

It published the letter as an opinion - but only when it had a long editorial disputing it ready for the same edition. When you face a serious attack, smother it by giving out your side at the same time.

I won't argue the case of either side because bigots and those who are just plain scared of the way the world is going won't pay attention to any argument. I'll just briefly suggest that the opinion column is specific and sensible. The editorial is rarely specific, often completely off the point, and usually vague. It's what's called a smokescreen. The bigots will love it.

Yesterday, I posed a question. If World War Two was a war to defend freedom and democracy, why did the US take so long to get into it? It had been well know for over a decade what Hitler was about; and for over two years it had calmly watched it's old ally, Britain, get pushed to the edge of defeat.

This is in no way a criticism of Americans. Most Americans had nothing whatever to do with the decision to go to war. What this is is an attempt to be realistic about why nations go to war.

The do not go to war, despite lurid news stories, to fight against "bad men", to help little girls go to school, to relieve suffering, or to bring democracy. Usually, they go to war for one reason, and only one. It is in the interests of those who control the country to go to war. And, in most western countries, those controllers are the business leaders.

In the case of World War Two, prominent American business leaders supported Hitler. In the depression years, Hitler was the man who was protecting capitalism from a spread of socialism or even communism.

As to Britain, well, American big business stood a good chance to grab a large part of the British Empire if it should be defeated - Hong Kong, Singapore.  Then there were the Dutch East Indies, French Indo-China (Vietnam)...all were attractive targets for American big business.

In the end, in fact, it didn't declare war on Germany. Germany declared war on the US in very late December of 1942. That was when Britain and the UN became united in a war for democracy (neatly ignoring that both of them denied democracy to the countries they controlled.) Why did Roosevelt change his mind on Hitler?

Well, there was Japan. The greatest aim of US big business was control of the trade of Asia and, most especially, of China. But the Japanese invasions of China and east Asia were cutting that off. It needed a war with Japan. (In fact, if you study American naval building from 1920 on, it was clearly designed for war against Japan - with an emphasis on long range warships, fast supply ships, aircraft carriers..)

That's why the US cut off Japan's oil supply. It had to stop the Japanese advances.

Why did the Japanese, knowing they could not hope to invade the US or to defeat it, attack Pearl Harbour?

To grab as much territory as possible before the US military machine could respond.

This is what took the US into war, the desire of American business to get control of Asian trade. It wasn't Hitler. It was Japan.

But Hitler had a treaty with Japan. That's why he, not the US, declared war between the US and Germany. Of course, it would soon obvious that the US had to get involved in Europe as the Soviet armies acted in unexpected strength, threatening to create an even bigger threat to the US.

But the ambition to inherit the British, French and Dutch colonies in Asia was alway up front. When the Free French told the US it was going to retake IndoChina by sending a warship to Hanoi, the US government warned it not to. When the French ignored the warning and entered Hanoi harbour, American aircraft bombed it.

The British were warned not to liberate Hong Kong. They, too, defied the order and, led by a Canadian ship, re-took Hong Kong. Luckily for the British, their fleet in the Pacific was too big to dispose of as they had a French destroyer.

Nobody fights wars for the reasons that the news media talk about. Wars are fought to protect and forward the interests of those who have real power in a country.

And the citizen voters are rarely a part of that real power.

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