Friday, January 18, 2013

Jan.18: Wow! Read all about it!

For some reason, my column suddenly narrowed, and some of the print turned red. I have no idea why, and the computer refused to discuss it with me. I shall be grateful if any reader has a suggestion to offer.

"Downtown apartment rising fast". That's what the Moncton Times and Transcript thinks is the sort of blazing hot news that  should be the big headline at the top of the front page. And that's not all that's wrong with it.

Most of the story is pure gush and melodrama. It  opens with a dramatic, "It's not  your imagination". (Oh, be still, my heart. I  must  read more). "A new (comma missing) large apartment building at the Corner of Gordon Street and Cameron St. is going up faster than usual...."

(excuse  me. I'm getting overexcited. I have to rush to the bathroom.)

The subhead tells us construction in downtown is booming. But there is no information to tell us exactly what "booming" means. In fact, there's no information about anything. It reminds me of that pre-Christmas story (also top of the front page) on how the old Main st. was just packed with shoppers - without the slightest evidence to support that remarkable statement for those of us who didn't notice any shopping on Main St.

This isn't a news story. There's no news in it. It's just  adolescent gush - presumably linked to the 'gotta revive Main st.; gotta build a hundred million dollar hockey rink' campaign.

Any reporter who would write such an unethical 'news' story would be wise to insist that his name not appear anywhere close to it. And if I were looking for a job, I would not present this story as a sample of my work to any editor - except, of course, in New Brunswick.

There's also a big picture on the front page of people on snowmobiles - a collector's item for anyone who has never seen people on snowmobiles.
NewsToday carries the story that Canada has begun its one-day operation to supply a cargo aircraft to help Fremch forces in Mali. Actually, it's now a one-week operation; and Mali is also talking of the need for financial assistance from Canada in its war. It is also assisted by the US and Britain. But there is no clear indication of why France  has troops in Mali.

Oh! Did you know Mali used to be a French colony? That the Mali war is now spreading into Algeria? That Algeria, too, was once a colony of France? Coincidence.

France and Britain and the US are also up to t heir ears in assisting the Syria 'rebels'. Syria used to be a colony of France, too. Coincidence.

In fact, the old colonial powers plus the US have been busy fomenting wars, drone-bombing, invading old African colonies. And the US has sent troops to garrison all of them.

Remember the Afghanistan war? It has cost a trillion dollars, uncounted tens of thousands of dead, and indescribable suffering. Why? Nobody knows. 


The US government itself has no idea of any definition for victory in that war. It just wants to get out without looking too idiotic. Who wanted such an insane war?

It's no secret. It was a group largely of American big business leaders who called themselves neo-conservatives. They announced publicly back in the 1990s that they wanted to invade Afghanistan - though it was never clear why. One of their leaders was Dick Cheney (oil industry) who was Bush's VP. The Bush White House was full of neo-con businessmen.

They are the ones who committed the US to a disastrous and losing war in Afghanistan - and also to a war in Iraq where things have been coming apart for years now - though the TandT never tells us.

We have had some pretty powerful lessons over the last twenty years that leaders of big business are utterly incompetent to deal with national issues like war, economic planning, and social planning. Yet both Harper and Alward eagerly seek out the advice of the Irvings and McCains of this world. They have led us into disastrous times - and they haven't yet done their worst.

Democracy works. Capitalism works - within the controls of a democracy. Make the two partners, though, and what you get is the moral rot, greed, suffering and destruction called fascism.

Watch for Mali to flare up into a much bigger war. Watch for Canada to get sucked in by stages.
Page C3 has a big map of electoral boundaries for New Brunswick. There is no clear label on it. But an almost illegible note in the lower left corner identifies it as the proposed new electoral map for New Brunswick.

A friend informs me that, in fact, the map shown is the old one. Those who want to see the proposed one should go to Google, type in Moncton Free Press, and go to yesterday's edition to see the correct map.
The editorial is even more asinine than usual. It suggests Native Peoples should avoid public protests, and should win people's hearts, then work on their minds.
1. How can they win people's hearts or minds when most of our news media don't tell us that this is all about? What is happening on reserves? Why did Harper cut education funding for schools on reserves so that it is now well below national standards?
2. I see no sign that journalists of Canada have either hearts or minds to be won. Their reporting on Idle No More has been sloppy, ignorant and even racist. I suggest the knuckle-draggers read Christy Blatchford's ignorant and racist rant in The Globe and Mail of a few days ago.
3. Would the editor have advised Martin Luther King to quiet down his methods? Probably.
4. What does it matter if they win hearts and minds. Harper has made it clear he intends to ignore them no matter what. He wants their land so he can invite oil and mining companies to exploit it and pollute it. He's made that very clear.
Harper has neither a heart nor a mind to be won.
5. Look. Face it. We Canadians are viciously racist. We always have been. That's a problem not recognized by most Canadians, certainly not by those who think that all problems will be solved if we force children to stand up and listen to a squeaky version of O Canada every day in school.
Check out the daily CBC page on the net. Look for its report on Idle No More. Then read the comments from readers. They are ignorant of history, loutish and often racist. That's us. And it makes me ashamed to be a Canadian.
Norbert has gone back to his old style of treating an opinion column as something quite different - a column of reports of things he has read - which he passes on simply as condensed information ( most of it useless if sometimes interesting), but offers no thought or insight at all.

Alec Bruce downplays social media and, from the point of view of most writers in the social media, it's no big money winner. But it is successful at great deal more than supporting charities. Social media gives us the information that the commercial media does not. The Times and Transcript, for example, publishes almost no news of any use. If you want to find out what's happening, you have to go to social media.

Admittedly, some social media outlets can be biased and even lying. But for the TandT, bias and lying are normal practice - so social media are still in the lead.

Steve Malloy is much improved. His column, too, is on Idle No More. But he works hard at offering a balanced view. And there is more information about the reasons for Idle No More than I have seen in all issues of the TandT put together. It neither supports nor attacks the movement. What is does is to try for a balanced presentation  that should encourage thought. This is a good column.

Oh, but please drop the archaic language. Last week, it was terms like 'your humble columnist'. This week it's 'this fair city". That went out with spats. It's a term used now only by municipal politicians who have nothing else to say. Always keep writing clean, direct, and simple.

Excellent column by Suzuki.

There are some really good letters to the editor - and one bummer.

Outstanding is "Columnist's job is to comment. It's well written, and packs a solid punch. Also excellent are "Stop wholesale destruction of our heritage" and "No conditions on internet freedom".

But, oh, there's yet another one that the important thing in religious faith is that you must not believe in evolution. You can ignore the poor. You can hire single mothers at slave labour prices, you can kill people so long as they look, you know, different. You can make ordinary tax payers put out billions and even trillions for wars to make you richer, and then refuse to pay any taxes at all.

Kill, cheat, steal, subvert democracy to make yourself rich. And that's no problem. The Lord will forgive.

But believe in Darwinism? Then you never get to heaven and spend the next trillion years and more dancing around, singing your're a good God, God. And jumping up and down and clapping hands for Jesus.

Thanks. But if believing in Darwin will prevent me from spending eternity that way, I'll choose Darwin every time.

Get a life. And get a faith. A real one.

The idea of democracy is that we all have a right to have our own opinions, a right to express them publicly, and even to demonstrate peacefully. But a lofty position in society can give some people some pretty arrogant assumptions about just who is really allowed to have an opinion.
Law and Order

Many years ago, I was pistol range officer for a very local police force, and became good friends with many of them. Those were the days anti-nuclear protests -always legal, always peaceful.

One of my friends couldn't wait for a local march to come along. He wanted to punch out one of those long haired hippies or anybody with a beard. He called them 'shit disturbers'.

Nothing in that had anything to do with the law. It had everything to do with protecting the interests of politicians and of very influential big business. In other words, he did not see his job so much as one protecting the law, but one of protecting the status quo. If you wanted change, then you were a suspect. 

Many years ago, a good friend joined the local police When the Northwest Mounted Police were first sent out to the west, enforcing the law was not quite the reason they were sent. The prime purpose was to make sure nobody interfered or slowed down the building of the CPR.  Workers went on strike because conditions were bad (as they were - and often excessively dangerous)? Then they were 'shit disturbers', and the job of the Northwest Mounted Police was to kick them back to work. Some NWMP were also trained as engineers and brakemen - just in case.

Then, as now, there were part-time soldiers, militia units, across Canada. These militia units had two primary roles. One was to be a social club for the wealthier citizens who were their officers. The other was to beat up on strikers. That second role was played quite frequently right across Canada. The last time, as I remember, was for a coal mine strike in Nova Scotia about 1920.

Like the NWMP, their role was not so much to enforce the law as to enforce the status quo. And that thinking remains common.

In the US, bankers cheated on a grand scale, and destroyed the economy. There were no charges. No pictures were taken. No names put on surveillance list. But Occupy Wall St. protesters who criticized (quite legally) what had been done were maced, their pictures and names put on record, their phone calls open to tapping - and many would end up on secret lists which forbade them to take a plane.

And God help you in the US if you look as though you might be Moslem.

When Tommy Douglas was an active politician, the RCMP kept him  under surveillance for years. Douglas was profoundly religious, a clergyman, and as law-abiding as any human can be. But the RCMP considered him dangerous because he criticized the wealthy and the powerful. He introduced medicare. He wanted change. That made him a threat to the status quo, a 'shit disturber'. They have thousands of pages on  him,thousands of pages of nothing.

When Mr. Irving and his friends announced they were members of the government - which means that they had a right to be involved in it without getting elected - that was a direct threat to democracy, and quite unconstitutional.(i.e. against the law).  But nobody said a word.

Of course not.  Mr. Irving and his friends  have always run the government of New Brunswick. It may be unconstitutional. Certainly, if you or I were to bound into Alward's office and tell him what to do, there would be a policeman and the door in short time.

But in New Brunswick, that sort of behaviour is the status quo for the rich. It's in the interests of the wealthy and the influential. Therefore, it's okay.

However, if you, quite legally and peacefully, protest outside city hall, the police will have a video camera capturing your face.

Native peoples have been lied to and cheated by almost every federal government in the history of Canada. I have never heard of the police laying a charge against any liar or cheat in such a case. I have never heard of them putting the responsible minister under surveillance. But if native peoples  use their legal right to protest, their pictures get taken, and their names put on lists.

If I were to steal a carton of cigarettes from a convenience store, I could face jail time. A British bank made billions of illegal dollars by laundering even more billions belonging to Mexican drug lords and to Al Quaeda. It was only with great difficulty that an attorney could get the case into court at all - and the only punishment was a fine.

Enforcing the law and protecting the status quo are not the same. But the wealthy and arrogant and influential think they are. They think that the primary job of the police is to keep things the way they like them. It's an  attitude that is spread by newspapers (naming no names) that are ignorant or servile or both. The result is that it comes to be an attitude widely shared by all of us, and by the police.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. Years ago when I was an infantry soldier with J company 2nd R.C.R., we were instructed how to deal with protestors if they began taking too many 'liberties'.

    It was my experience, most of the young men I served with (save a few exceptions) would've been fully ignorant of any political issues. They'd simply see protestors as shit-disturbers as you say and would've had fun cracking long-haired heads.

    And I agree, mainstream media really sucks at doing its job, unless that job is to continually subvert its listeners with disinformation.