Friday, December 28, 2012

Dec. 28: 2012 is still big...

...There are at least three more pages of 2012 stories in today's TandT. I guess it saves on staff.
The front page headline? Well, you could have guessed it by looking out the window. We had a snowstorm. A lot of papers would have missed that. But the ace reporters and editors of the TandT noticed it right away.

The bigger story, much bigger, is a small and too narrowly focussed one on p. A1. "Aboriginal protest held in Moncton". This is really just one part of a much bigger protest, the Idle No More Movement which has been sweeping across Canada, a demand for long promised but never delivered action on the conditions in which native peoples have to live. The problems of health, diet, sanitation, poverty, housing, education in native communities are enormous. But no Canadian government has ever seriously attempted to deal with them. The Harper government has, if anything, been worse than most previous governments. For a start, there has been Harper's massive dismantling of environmental protection, particularly of fresh water. that has created deadly health problems.

The protest focusses on a native chief, Theresa Spence, who has been camped and fasing on an island in the Ottawa River for over two weeks, calling for a meeting with Harper. So far, our prime minister, who would have scampered over the ice in his bare feet if she were a corporation CEO calling for fresh swizzle sticks, has completely ignored her. The report fits her into the story - but way down.

After all, she's just a native woman who has put her health and even her life in danger to get action for thousands of her people whose health and lives, like hers, are in danger.

Relax, Mr. Harper.Munch another pretzel and figure out something important - like how to let mining companies dump more poisons in our rivers and soil.

The story also ignores that fact that the protest was NOT "a few dozen" first nations' people. They were joined by large numbers of Monctonians, notably those of the Green Party and the NDP.

Didn't see Alward, there,though. Or our mayor. Or the Chamber of Commerce. But they were probably all busy, writing self-congratulatory new year's press releases.

This has been a major story across Canada for weeks. The TandT at last mentions it, but only when it appears in Moncton, and only in sloppy and casual way.

Oh, in fairness, section A does cover another big story. Yesterday there were boxing day sales.
If  you find anything of interest in NewsToday, get a life. The final page of the section is the TandT daily special - photos of people you don't know holding up big cheques, etc. and smiling at the camera.

In fairness, I don't think we can ever get a handle on news  in the brief chunks we find in a daily newspaper. Understanding the news calls for a realistic sense of how people behave, a sense that very, very few have. Instead, we divide the world up into good guys and bad guys, saints and sinners. "They" are "bad". "We" are "good".

Ain't no such thing. I thought of that as I was reading one of my Christmas books, "Obama's Wars" by journalist Bob Woodward. So far, the book is straight reporting with no opinion. It is also extremely boring - not because of poor writing but because so many of its generals and politicians - including Obama - are such boring people.

But what strikes one most of all is the complexity, confusion, duplicity, infighting and complete lack of any moral sense that runs through the rickety, rambling American military-political structure. (And, so far, Woodward hasn't even mentioned the levels of corruption and business interference.). It's like reading the last days of Rome.

The daily news that somebody did something in Syria tells us nothing. Opinion columns, if they're honest and informed like those of Richard Gwynne, are helpful. But many of them are nothing but propaganda and ignorance or, like those ofAllan Abel, trivial. I don't have any answer to the problem - but ignorance of what the news means is one hell of a serious problem in a democracy.
Just how dangerous that can be is hinted at in Alec Bruce's column, 'Our Lovably ignorant American cousins'. For a people who claim the right to set the rules for the whole world, Americans are remarkably ignorant of the rest of the world - even Canada.

Gwynne Dyer has a frightening but quite possible picture of a world run by robots. (Some years ago, I wrote a very short story about a world in which attack aircraft were robots controlled by"pilots" in safe rooms far from any fighting.

It was obsolete before I pushed the 'save' button.)

The next generation, already here, will include robot fighter planes - and even robot aircraft that don't need human direction. They make their own decisions about who to kill and how to do it.
And, for the jolt of the week, read Lynda MacGibbon. I would love to say more. But I really can't. You have to read it for yourself.
Oh, I forgot to mention a stunningly bad piece of journalism that appeared in yesterday's letters to the editor.
It was a long, long piece of bafflegab that conveyed no information at all. It was about the year of the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce and what it did. And it was really quite a wonderful of job of saying what wonderful things the CofC did, without every being clear on what they were - or why.

We are told, for example, that the Cof C is now a force to reckoned with. Oh? How and by whom? Reckoned with for what purpose? Reckoned with as in being a force interfering in government without bothering to get elected or to answer to anybody?

This whole letter is utterly without any meaning - and it is ranked as "Letter of the Day". What does that tell us? Two things.

1. The MonctonTimes and Tribune is kissing up to the Chamber of Commerce. And,as the night follows the day, it follows that....
2. Mr. Irving approves of the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce.

I'm so happy.

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