The editorial and op ed pages are the winners. In fact, the news pages are so far back, they have yet to cross the finish line.
Look, I yield to none in my interest in the new pope. But three pages is a bit much - especially when they have nothing to say. It seems he went to his hotel, and personally paid his own bill. Wow! What humility! (That is slightly tarnished by a photo of the entrance to his hotel. A glance at that photo, and humility is not the word that springs to mind.)
B5 has a story on what happened during the voting in the Sistine Chapel. It seems the cardinals prayed, and wrote names on ballots. Well, it was worth reading a half page to learn that.
None of this is a criticism of the church or the pope. It's a criticism of a newspaper which was too lazy or too cheap to do any research on the the new pope's background in Argentina, and his role in both church and public affairs. So it published a lot of celebrity page gush.
Fortunately, Norbert Cunningham offers a column that is more thoughtful and thought-provoking on the challenge the pope faces - notably, the challenge of shrinking church membership, and the decline of church attendance. Here, Norbert points out what many have not - that this is a general problem for Christian churches in the western world. Norbert's column is one that is worth reading and thinking about. I would add just one point to it.
The problem may not have arisen from something the churches were doing. And the relative rise of fundamentalist churches may not indicate we're getting back on track.
The reality is consumerism and materialism have triumphed. These so encourage and seemingly justify the lack of morality and ethics in our society that churches are far removed from having any real influence in our lives.
We now accept torture, assassination as normal political behaviour. We accept greed and exploitation as
normal and even laudable economic behaviour. We accept mass murder in foreign countries so our billionaires can pillage them. We have a government in this province that has not a trace of morality or ethics in its behaviour.
And the Irving press has played no small role in encouraging those attitudes.
Meanwhile, the churches have either failed to recognize the death of morality, or have abandoned the bulk of Christian teaching to focus on the very unChristian goal of getting their members into a heaven in the clouds so they can enjoy watching the sinners go down to hell. (That is the essence of the reason for condemning gays.)
The only other story with the potential to be interesting is the one on Mali on B1. Alas, it still gives no clue as to what the French invasion is all about. To bring democracy and justice, etc.? Not bloody likely. France has a long history of making sure that countries like Mali never get democracy or justice. And if the troops are sent in, it's a safe bet that the French economic elite have something they want in Mali.
The editorial makes a point which is a good one (on the need for an RCMP presence in New Brunswick.)
Too bad the editorialist has already written that same editorial as least twice before. The rest of the editorial and op ed pages are well worth reading. (Generally, I agree with what Steve Malloy says about hunger strikes. I would only add there are some that are quite serious, and with deaths almost certain. We have seen them with Palestinians in Israeli prisons, and there is now a hunger strike by at least a hundred inmates of Guantanamo - neither of which has been noticed by the editorial staff at the Tand T.)
And I note that the Tand T has still not mentioned the public health conference for PEI and NB that was held two days ago, and that focussed on the medical dangers of fracking.
I said yesterday, I'd write a bit about the TandT approach to city news. What should the TandT be reporting in city news? We'll start with a small but important item.
1.From March 22 to April 2, there will be a display of art by Palestinian schoolchildren at the Aberdeen Centre. I want to see this. And I want my children to see this. I expect it will be striking introduction to the real world, and how constant violence and hatred affects children.
I'm sure the TandT will advertise it in its events section. But that's not enough.
Whenever a new act comes to the casino, it gets a story in the TandT to encourage customers. It may be (it often is) something as intellectual as a man who plays a harmonica by blowing through his nose. It may be a coffee shop that has opened. Today's B1 features almost half a page on a new, fast food outlet.
The TandT's interest in Moncton seems largely confined to anything that makes money. But living in a city, a real city, means more than access to nose-blowing harmonicists or fast food. It means exposure to other cultures within our city and beyond it. It means intellectual development. It provides stimulus to the mind. Moncton is not strong in these latter qualities. Surely, an exhibition of Palestinian children's art deserves at least as much attention as a new fast food. It deserves full coverage as news.
2. We know that the land under Highfield Square is polluted quite badly. So...
a) why don't we know what sort of danger these pollutants pose to us?
b) did the owners of the land, as required by law, report the pollution to the provincial government?
c) did the government order the owners to clean it up? Why not?
d) what is the full area that is polluted? It surely doesn't stop at the boundaries of Highfield Square.
e) What medical dangers does that other polluted land expose us to?
f)How many polluted areas are there in the city?
g) Where are they? (Good luck on that one. A series of requests through Access to Information just put me on a merry-go-round.)
3. What, exactly, is the grand city plan for development over the next two decades?
a)first, some idea of what the planners expect to affect the city in the next two decades - the price of gas and heating oil, for example.
b) Does the city intend to continue to encourage urban sprawl - a sprawl that makes our dependence on the car inescapable, and drives up the cost of infrastructure?
c) What steps has the city taken to encourage denser housing while maintaining some distinction between denser and over-crowded?
d) how is this coordinated with a plan for mass transit to work and shopping areas?
e)how does encouragement of urban sprawl (as in the case of Royal Oaks) have any relation to any urban plan?
f) Exactly what is the urban plan?
4. This is the city of the main chance, always eager to invest money into any scheme that will make a fast buck (maybe) - the events centre, the CFL.....
a) Can we get some precise figures on exactly how much these events cost - including all incentives?
b) Can we get some precise figures on exactly how much of the return actually comes to us - as opposed to how much comes to rest in the pockets of people who live far away and whose pockets are already pretty full?
5. When it is not looking for magic schemes to bring in tourist money, does the city council give any thought at all to the social and intellectual needs (and opportunities) of a city?
These are just a few of the questions that the Times and Transcript is not asking. I don't expect the Times and Transcript to be fully open about the answers to these questions. For example, there is a strong smell about the events centre as essentially being the gift of a hockey rink to a rich man, and an overpriced land sale to the city at land that nobody else would want to be.
The move of Moncton High certainly smells of land deals, too. It's easy to see the advantage of it for land developers, less easy to see it for any educational or social reason.
But the truth about land deals in this province is something we are never going to get. So I'll settle for answers to the points I have raised above.