Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dec. 15: words, words....

Words don't just have logical meanings. They can also convey meanings that have nothing to do with any logic. When I was a kid in Montreal, we used to call French kids "Frenchpeasoups". The idea, I suppose, was that French people were addicted to pea soup, and this indicated their inferiority. (Actually, I loved pea soup, too. But that never occurred to me.)

The French kids didn't know was peasoup meant. But they felt it was an insult. So they shouted back, "Englishpeasoup."

Something similar happened with the word "bastard". We use the word to mean someone low, treacherous, inconsiderate.  Those are the images we get from the word, but none has any connection with its real meaning.

News media use words like that all the time - not to convey any logical meaning, but to create an image, a tone.

In the early 1950s, Guatemala was a democracy. The US didn't like that because it began charging taxes to build schools, and even gave land to hungry peasant families. That, in the view of the Americans who owned Chiquita Banana and her tropical friends, was a drain on their profits. So, there  appeared stories in the papers of how Guatemala might bomb the Panama Canal. (Guatemala had no air force). Then, an armed force of some 5,000 suddenly appeared on the border of Guatemala

The American government called them "freedom fighters"; and all the news media followed the lead. Since Guatemala had no army, the freedom fighters easily won. And the first act of the freedom fighters was to overthrow the elected government, and  establish a dictatorship. Guatemala has never regained its freedom, not since the victory of the freedom fighters. But nobody in the news media has ever noticed.

In the same period, veterans of the Korean War were never called simply veterans - as had been the practice for World War Two. No. In all news media of North America, they were called "Korean War Heroes" That term applied to anyone who was in the army at the time. My father had a Korean War Hero friend who never left Canadian shores.

More recently, we have read, often, of "Syrian rebels". Now, I would think of Syrian rebels as meaning Syrians - and, for the rebel part, Syrians who have turned against their government.After all, that's what those words mean.

But the majority of them aren't Syrians. They are mercenaries from Africa and the middle east financed and armed by Arab dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates with substantial support from Turkey, Britain, France, and the US. As well, large numbers of them are Moslem Jihadists (usually called terrorists in our news media) of whom very few are Syrians.

So they aren't Syrians. And if they aren't Syrians, they can't be rebels.A rebel is someone who rises against someone who has authority over him- as his own government.Most of the these people are not rising against their own governments.In fact, they are invading another country. To call them Syrian rebels is like calling the the NATO forces in Afghanistanti Afghani rebels".

And so we have stories about people who who neither Syrian nor rebel (and commonly referred to in other situations as terrorists); but who are now called Syrian rebels. Why? Well, if we told the truth, we'd have to call them a terrorist game of foreign mercenaries hired and equipped by us to invade a country that has never threatened anybody. Syrian rebel sounds better.

In the same way, Moslems who indiscriminately kill civilians are invariably called "terrorists". Our side are never terrorists - not in Iraq where we killed over a million civilians, not in Afghanistan where we don't give the numbers, not in Guatemala where we slaughtered 300,000, not in Pakistan, Somalia or Yemen where we have launched drone attacks by the thousands to kill "suspects".

Who do news media use words like this? They do it for the same reason we did it as kids. To encourage ignorance and hatred - and to lie.
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We are now discussing shipping tar sands oil to an "East coast refinery" by rail as well as by pipe line.
A few days ago, I looked for entries dealing with oil pipeline dangers, and found some four million.
Now, as a service to the intrepidly digging reporters at the Moncton Times and Transcript, I suggest they google "oil by train dangers" I found twelve million entries this time. Apparently, it's the most dangerous way to move oil - and especially dangerous with "dirty" oil like tar sands.
But - oooh - it might create some jobs.
Or maybe not.
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There's a case in the Supreme Court which the TandT seems to be uninterested in. A group of eight citizens are demanding that six ridings in which Conservatives won by very small margins have substantial evidence of the wide use of robocalls to mislead voters from other parties.

Conservatives, of course, say the eight citizens are just Liberals or other riff-raff. Possibly so.
But why is it left to a small group of private citizens to investigate this? Harper knew of the robocalls as soon as he took office - and probably long before. Why didn't our federal government mount a proper investigation in the first place? Why, instead, have they blocked an investigation at every turn?
Watch YOUR TandT to ask the hard questions, and get at the truth.
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If you have a million and a half dollars to spend on education in Moncton, what would your priorities be? Chemistry labs? Libraries? Smaller classes? Well, that just shows how much you know about education. But the statues at the waxworks we call city hall have thought deeply about it. After all, they want to help education - though it has very little to do with their mandate;and when it does, their interest shows mainly in supporting questionable land deals.
Our city is contributing one and a half million of your dollars to - wait for it - put plastic grass (artificial turf) on two (count them, two) high school playing fields. Wow! that can mean a whole, new future for our children. (Oh, and they can be places for seniors to take walks. Moncton is just full of seniors desperate for a plastic field to walk on.)
Parent groups will be urged to raise the extra half million that is needed. To fire them up, an organizer told them that the fields are covered with litter. Well, artificial turf will certain fix that. Litter isn't allowed on artificial turf.

The TandT is quite gaga about how this will put Moncton on the map, and how the whole world is watching us. So there's a total of two million we're going to spend just for our children - and at a time when so many, notably the TandT - are warning against the rise of public debt.  How noble!

And what a coincidence they will just fit in with athletic events the city is sponsoring a couple of summers from now. You know, the kind that will draw world attention to Moncton and bring in tourists to fill our hotels. I mean - it's really not worth a two million dollar investment just for that, but....

......nothing is too good for our children.

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