Wednesday, January 16, 2013

News as propaganda....

... and the op ed page as ignorance.

The headline on p.1 of NewsToday reads, "Democracy urged in Mali." Now there's a headline that tells us close to nothing - and is also a lie. There is serious fighting in Mali that amounts to a civil war. France is involved. Why? to bring democracy? Sure. France has a long record of bringing democracy to old colonies.

John Baird, our foreign affairs minister, is pledging help for the cause. Sure. John Baird gives a damn whether there is democracy in Mali. No doubt, he will now spread his wings and bring democracy to all the countries in Central America that are now under American imposed dictatorships or puppets.

Hey, nothing like helping to kill  people to bring humanitarian aid to them. The US struggled to bring democracy and humanitarian aid to Vietnam by getting rid of the president in favour of a military dictatorship, then killed over two million civilians to give them a helping hand.

The same generosity of spirit killed a million or so in Iraq. That's not many, really, but you have to remember the hidden figures - the millions of orphans created, the widows and widowers, the permanently crippled, the dramatic rise in stillborns and birth defects. (And a continuing civil war.)

Last year, over 300 American soldiers, most suffering from PTSD, committed suicide. I would think that lots of those civilians who survive the horrors of war suffer from PTSD, too. But who cares? And who's counting?

The reality is there is a civil war in Mali because it was a French colony. The French ruled it as the British ruled their colonies, through divide and conquer. They would favour one group in a colony with positions and money, and us it to control the others. In British India, for example, the Moslems were favoured against the Hindus. That's why there was a civil war as soon as Britain pulled out - a civil war that led to the division of Moslem Pakistan from Hindu India. That's why, some 65 years later, those two countries are still at the edge of war - and both of them with nuclear arsenals.

The French pulled a similar deal in Mali. To make it worse, we joined a war in Libya to kill people for their own good and bring them democracy (and give us their oil). Of course, there is still no democracy - or even order - in Libya. And displaced groups from Libya joined their kinsmen in Mali. Thus a civil war.

Why is France there? Why is the US supporting it? Because us westerners are moving back in on Africa to bring back the old, colonial days.

Newspaper stories of foreign news rarely tell the truth. Instead, they babble about democracy, humanitarian motives. Same in Syria. If the western countries and our good friends in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates really wanted to stop the war in Syria, they could do it in day - just cut off all the weapons and money they are sending to the 'rebels'.

The message of the news is generally that them there foreigners is just animals that is always fightin'. In fact, these wars are commonly started and encouraged by us - and for reasons that have nothing to do with humanitarianism.
There's a not-bad editorial on the charges of double-billing by some doctors, making it clear that the key word is 'some', and that nothing is proven. But de Adder misses the boat with a cartoon that suggests all or most doctors are guilty.

The second editorial is both ignorant and a stinker.It suggest the real solution to native peoples is to improve education.There are just two, little things in this suggestion that indicate bias and ignorance.
1. How would education solve the whole problem? Well, it would produce (in theory) graduates who would fit into the general population - so that the First Nations would disappear.
That's very generous compliment to education coming from a newspaper which has rarely shown it any respect. But it wouldn't work.
Children are formed by families and communities as much as by schools. The First Nations will not disappear through education - nor should they.
2. There was an agreement to hugely improve First Nations education. It was called the Kelowna Accord. Harper killed it. Remember?
Solid op ed pieces by Alec Bruce and Norbert Cunningham. Read Bruce's, in particular, right to the end. It's about climate change - and those last bits are very disturbing. They also put the skids under the climate-change deniers.

Then there's the op-ed page..

Eric Lewis has a column on healthy eating. Moncton is a city with hospitals and  universities. It has piles of people who can speak with authority on this subject. Eric Lewis can't. The op-ed page is an opinion page. That means this one is supposed to express the opinions of those who are authorities on a subject. This, for example, is where we should be able to get the background to understand what is going on in Mali, and why we are involved.

And what do we get? A thoroughly amateur piece that is the equivalent of a discussion taking place after the fifth round of beer.

Brian Cormier's column is even worse. It is yet another vignette about his personal life.  I don't know how many people in Moncton lust to learn even more about the family life of Brian Cormier. If such there are, then it might be a good idea to have a weekly insert with room for pictures of Brian as a baby, his first birthday party, etc.

Of course, it's cheaper to use a reporter or staff writer for these pages than it is to get somebody who actually has something to say, and who knows the topic.

C4 has eight pictures - count them, eight - of people smiling. There's also a full page of pictures taken at the site of an apartment fire. You know the old saying - a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, it is, sometimes. But these pictures tell us nothing. So we have two pages of nothing. I would have settled for a dozen or so words.

Letters to the editor has a couple of good ones, both of them far superior to and better informed that the op-ed pieces by Eric Lewis and Brian Cormier. They are "Fox in charge of the chickens?" and "Don't be complacent about Canada's gun laws."

It also has something I have never seen before, a letter that had already appeared in an earlier edition, "Angered; but only about TV show". But editors are (more or less) human. We should take it as an encouraging sign if there is an editor so bored with this paper that he gets forgetful sometimes.

Oh - there is a story that Montreal police, including RCMP, have put anti-shale gas protestors under surveillance on the grounds they look like extremists and radicals. We would be very naive to think that New Brunswick police are not doing the same thing.

Some years ago, the RCMP mainained a long surveillance of the radical and extreme Tommy Douglas. You know, he was the clergyman who brought his religious principles into politics, and introduced medicare. Gotta watch people like that.

Funny, there has been no such surveillance of the US bankers who, by carrying out unethical and even illegal practices, threw the western economies into turmoil, and destroyed the lives of millions of Americans. Nor has there been any surveillance of the radical and extreme behaviour of the prominent New Brunswick business leader who publicly announced he was a member of the New Brunswick government - even though he wasn't elected.

Actually, the radical extremists who have made huge changes in our society, effectively destroying democracy, have not been demonstrators in the street. They have been arrogant business leaders sitting in the comfort of their offices.

But that's a topic for a other blog.

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