Thursday, May 16, 2013

May 16: Sorry to be late, today. I fell asleep....

...while reading section A of the Times and Transcript. Seriously. I mean, how long can one read a section whose front page, feature photo is of a man cutting the grass under the headline, "It's lawn-mowing season again." But brighter things were in store.

The Newstoday section is, as usual, pretty thin  gruel. But, for a change, there are some pieces of competent and ethical reporting. The story on Senator Mike Duffy and his scandalous expense dealings which seem to have been covered up by the Harper government is well reported. (The one weakness is it does not mention an important element of the scandal. He claimed expenses for duties as a senator on days when his "duties" consisted of election campaigning for the Conservative Party. That's illegal under election law - and a former journalist must know that - and so must Harper.)

Adam Huras, Brunwick Press reporter for the legislature, contributes a fair and unbiased report, "NDP recruits former NB Power exec for next election."  In such cases, the TandT usually publishes panting and servile praise of Liberal or Conservative candidates, but says little , if anything, of candidates for other parties.

Two other stories deserve a read. One is "Torture concerns raised". Under Harper, Canada has developed a terrible reputation for protection of its own citizens. (Recently, there was the story of a New Brunswick farmer who was improperly imprisoned for a year in a middle eastern country. The Harper government didn't lift a finger to help him.)

Earlier, three Canadians of arab descent were actually handed over to American authorities to be tortured in a Syrian prison.  This was  confirmed in a Canadian government inquiry five years ago. The Canadian government acted contrary to international law, and has ignored demands from the UN Committee against Torture to make amends.

The Harper government has openly refused to take any action.

If you ever travel under a Canadian passport, good luck.

And then there's a fairy tale from The Canadian Press. Harper is, with countries like the US, Britain, and France, contributing money to Mali to help it establish a democracy. Sure.

The US, Britain, France, and Canada are so big on democracy, they feel embarassed by their purity. That's why, to cover it up, they support so many dictatorships in Central America, Africa, and the Middle East. That's why they destroyed democracies in Iran, Haiti, Guatemala, and others. A real democracy is the last thing any of them wants to see in any part of Africa.
In these and other stories, there's lots of material for the opinion pages - editorial and op ed. But the staff writers have their noses firmly stuck in their own bellybuttons.  For Norbert, the great issue facing our world is the cost of renovating a liquor store.

Rod Allen, as usual, writes about his adorable self. I made it only half-way through. Then his pretentious, high school writing style combined with his self-adoration got to me, and that, combined with the utter pointlessness of his story, decided me to bail out.

Excellent columns by David Suzuki and Jody Dallaire. However, since Jody Dallaire strays from her usual beat of covering women's issues, I'll fill in for her. It's a woman's issue concerning Bernice MacNaughton High School.

Now, I've been in that school many times. As a teacher of many, many years in many, many schools, I have a feeling for the atmosphere of a school. And my sense is that Bernice MacNaughton is a very good school, indeed, with solid administration and teaching staff. But one thing has always bothered me.

The pictorial symbol of the school is a bearded Scottish warrior with shield and sword, shouting (one presumes) a war cry. He is wearing a kilt - which seems unlikely since the kilt was not yet invented in shield and sword days.

Now, it's possible (if unlikely) that Dr. Beatrice MacNaughton had a shaggy beard; (I have never seen a picture of her).  But her life of distinguished teaching and leadership does not suggest to me a woman who carried sword and shield, and shouted Gaelic oaths at passersby.

Let's suppose the school had been named for a famous hockey player.  Do you think its persona would be represented by a picture of a distinguished, female teacher? Or perhaps a ballerina?

I think there's a hint there of why many women feel pushed aside in our society.


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