Thursday, May 9, 2013

May 8: The story that isn't there

It seems there are two kilometres of pipeline with oil residue in it running through St. John. It's an Irving line that that went out of use over forty years ago - Irving forgot it was there. There is also no record of it in city files.

When asked if there were more such abandoned pipelines around the province, Irving officials assured  reporters they weren't aware of any.

Well, yeah. I mean, they didn't know about this one, so why should they know about any others?

This is quite some display of sloppiness (at best) by both Irving and the city, especially so when Irving assures us it is all eager to develop shale gas all over the province; and, whatever health officers may say, there's no danger at all. Well, that certainly reassures me.

By the way, I got this news report from CBC - yesterday. It didn't make the Moncton Times and Transcript.
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So far as news in concerned, there is only one, real story in the whole paper - that the forest fires are under control. Since some are near Moncton, that is certainly worth reporting. But there really is nothing else - local, national or foreign.

Locally?
1. The land under Highfield Square, formerly a railway yard is heavily polluted. Such pollution is required, by law, to be reported to the government which then is required to tell the owner to clean it up. So why did the owner not clean it up?  And why is the city of Moncton now going to be stuck with the bill? And why have two owners been allowed to virtually rebuild on part of that land with no clean up at all? Presumably, if the land is polluted it is dangerous to human health. Presumably, and no matter how extensive the rebuilting, it still is dangerous. So why was it permitted?

2. When do we get to learn the reason for moving a downtown high school out to the burbs? Exactly where does that fit into the great, ciy plan? In fact, was is the plan?

3. Why was a person with no qualifications whatever  given a two and a half million dollar contract to improve literacy within our school system?

In connection with that same story, I apologize to readers offended with my comparison of New Brunswick literacy to that of Cuba, with Cuba coming out way ahead. It's not really a fair comparison because Cuba has an unbeatable advantage over New Brunswick. In Cuba, billionaire-supported right wing think tanks like Atlantic Institute for Marketing Studies and apprentice billionaires are not permitted to stick their noses into the education system, and interfere with it.

Natonally?

1. There hasn't been a word on a very suspicious and even dangerous trade deal with China that Harper is trying to sneak through parliament. The game plan appears to be this - given their damage to the environment, it will almost certainly be impossible to continue selling fossil fuels. Harper and the energy industries are determined to sell as much as they can before the door closes. That's one he recently cut off almost all fresh water protection in Canada.

So Harper intends to sell the fossil fuels fast, even on terms that will do nothing for Canadian employment while doing immense damage to the Canadian environment. That, incidentally, explains his anti-native peoples stance. He wants to destroy the whole concept of native peoples and their rights because they are in the way of his assault. Despite his ads on the subject, he's not racist. He's just looking for the racist vote to  help him out. That explains the disgusting circular distributed by the Conservative MP for St. John.

2. Fresh water is also on the block, as are minerals - at whatever cost. The has to be fast, fast, fast, and with almost no rules. That's why, for all the blather, we are not going to see any enforcement of tough, shale gas rules in the province.

Internationally?

1. The TandT is strangely silent on just how bad economic conditions are in Europe. It looks very much like the 1930s - and with some political movements unpleasantly reminiscent of those years. Serious violence is more than likely. But none of this exists in the pages of the TandT.

2. Why are French troops in Mali? It sent them there to bring order to a country afflicted with rebellions. But why should France care? Recently, the UN announced it was deploying 12,000 troops and police to maintain order. But France promptly announced it was keeping troops there, anyway. How thoughtful.

Oh, yeah, Mali was French property for almost a century. It didn't get its freedom until it kicked France out in 1980. But France wasn't ready to go because there are still billions of dollars of resources that haven't been ripped off yet.

France in Mali is just one more piece of the West's reconquest of Africa, though this time with the US in the lead role.

But all the news editors at the TandT can understand is that StatsCan report the number of Jedis in Canada is down, and yet more on the sensationalist but irrelvant story of three young women in Cleveland who were dreadfully abused.

Editorial and op ed pages are quite decent, in fact, the highlights of today's paper. Alec Bruce is in solid form.  Norbert continues his column of yesterday on our misuse and abuse of words - and does it very well, indeed.

Rod Allen's topic was lightweight, and doesn't touch on any question of current importance. But, oh my, what an improvement in his writing style! There's no attempt to sound witty. Instead, there is simple and unpretentious language put together very well, indeed. It's an enjoyable read.

Beth Lyons has a good column, too. It's essentially about awards given recently to women in Moncton. Inevitably, that makes it into something close to a list without much of a chance to show how important the work of these women is. But it's still worth a read.
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And now I realize I have not done the bit I promised on why literacy is poor in New Brunswick. To late now - but I'll just make a start on it.

The problem is not in the schools. Reading in New Brunswick schools is taught very much the way I have seen in taught in other parts of Canada and of the world where literacy is far higher than it is in New Brunswick. The problem is not the schools. The problem is not the intelligence of the students. I  have seen no reason to think them in any way inferior to the thousands of students I have taught in other parts of Canada and other countries. The problem is New Brunswick. The problem is lack of respect for any intellectual activity, indeed of fear of any intellectual activity  - and reading is an intellecutal activity.

And the cause of that fear?

For now, I'll just say that a publisher of Brunswick News is the last person in the world I would pick to solve the literacy problem in this province.

5 comments:

  1. On the issue of the "sensationalist but irrelevant" horror story of the three women abducted and abused in Cleveland, it is not entirely irrelevant judging from the comments section following the tale on Canadian news sites, for this provides an opportunity for fear-mongering, race-baiting and bigotry as popular entertainment, with readers vying with one another for the most outrageous comment pertaining to Puerto Ricans or Mexicans, mistakenly identified as perpetrators and upon whom mountains of abuse are heaped, with a few voices arguing for sanity amidst the lynch mob.

    There is a similar pattern in a tale of a Canadian student from Nova Scotia who died while vacationing in Mexico. Before the facts were even made available there was wild speculation from all sorts of fear-mongers in the comments section denouncing Mexico and Mexicans. The trend of bigotry and hate-mongering, in this instance both race and muslim-baiting by the unschooled illiterate continues in the comments section of a tale in the Canadian press : "Catholic soldier says her Muslim-sounding name made her a target for harassment in US Army". Not merely a target of completely unwarranted persecution by the US military, completely at odds with the high-sounding ideals for which they claim to pursue their foreign policy, but an ongoing campaign of hatred and persecution by rabid Harper supporters in the comments section of Yahoo Canada reporting the tale.

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  2. On the issue of whether Harper himself is racist - well the jury is still out on that issue despite his protests, but there is no doubt that his followers feel no such restraint in this regard and voice their prejudices quite vocally in any media discussion dealing with the widest range of subjects, from the latest suspects arrested in the war on terror to sex crimes in Cleveland to Canadians vacationing in Mexico to demographic trends and the number of Jedi in Canada in the latest StatsCan report.

    In the latter case, media discussion following an article in Yahoo Canada dealing with demographic trends in the latest StatsCan report, two of your concerns intersect, that of literacy and intelligent discourse in Canada - not limited to New Brunswick - with that of political movements unpleasantly reminiscent of the 1930s, for which the Harper Conservatives do bear responsibility, as they are deliberately creating such a climate through fear-mongering. All the while courting the racist vote - concurrently it would appear with the immigrant vote.

    Here are some jewels from self-avowed Harper supporters in the media discussion in Yahoo Canada dealing with StatsCan, immigration and demographic trends:


    john

    "You obviously are Unable to see whats Developing right in front of your Nose..Keep supporting Multiculturalism, and the Blood of Thousands, maybe Millions, will be on your hands, and the hands of your Leftist idealogical Camrades ,when the Continents of Europe and North America erupt in Race and Cultural Warfare.."

    or
    Pigman

    "Race is not the issue.

    Supremacist ideology and a refusal to integrate and embrace Canadian culture are.

    Oink!"

    or again
    john

    "P.M.Pearson the Marxist/Communist, stopped selective immigration ,which favored Immigrants from Western and North Europe ,and P.M.Trudeau excellerated it, and every other P.M. Liberal or Conservative, followed suit...The big question is WHY?...Fear of being called a Rascist?.....This is our Homeland, we have every RIGHT to decide who is allowed to live here, based on ANYTHING....Mainly we want People who can assimilate ,and that Rules out any visible minoritys,they will always be seen as different...Then we want people who's Culture is Compatible to ours,and that Rules out Certain Groups ...
    Canada should not be seen as a Dumping ground for every Race, Creed, and Culture..But for People of Europeon Anscestry, with a culture that is Compatible to our Traditional Way of Life.."

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  3. Now these are not comments by isolated crackpots and hatemongers such as Zundel, but represent a fairly widespread Conservative-inspired mainstream of hatred, ignorance and bigotry displayed in the comments section of media discussions, such as the following again from the same Yahoo Canada discussion on demographics and immigration from the latest Statscan report:


    Pigman

    "We are at war and have been for 1400 years.

    Because of political correctness, the West can't even bring itself to name our enemy, much less actually declare total war on them.

    It is a 'hot' war being fought on many fronts including the obvious ones like Afghanistan and Gaza but it is also being fought in Nigeria and Algeria as well as many other places where Westerners are not. A 'hot' war of violence against our civilians is also part of the plan.

    It is a 'stealthy' war being waged against us at home in the court rooms, human rights commissions, places of business, and halls of government. It is an effort to slowly alter our culture using the very rights and freedoms that we value so much, as weapons against us.

    It is a 'demographic' war being waged against us using tools of war that are unfamiliar to our warrior class, i.e. immigration and social phenomenon like polygyny and the high birth rates it enables.

    Anyone that has read my past comments knows the enemy of which I speak.

    That enemy is Islam.

    It is a hostile martial ideology that inculcates in its adherents, a belief in their
    own superiority as well as a permanent mandate to wage war against all other
    belief systems, until it dominates the earth.

    Unless we confront this reality and do it soon, our civilization is in grave danger of being lost.

    It is a war we cannot afford to lose.

    It is well past the time to declare it.

    Oink!"

    or

    David

    "anyone wanting muslims to come, is essentialy anti canadian cause it WILL destroy our country"
    or

    Bert Shuetz

    "Just wait females??????????????? If you don't help stop this infestation now you WILL be slaves!! You will only speak when a male says you can and you will be raped at any time it is convenient for any male who chooses to rape you and your small daughter. Think about it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My god i would sooner be overrun with RATS"

    or again

    Bert Shuetz

    "Muslim the only reason you keep poppin out little camel humpers is because you dont have to work and i pay you to pop them out!! Not my decision!!! Your 2030 thing is wrong though, we will have booted the government by then and at that time you better hold on to yer panties cuz we will be kickin your smelly #$%$ outa here faster than you came in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

    Now if that isn't Conservative-inspired hate speech, an out and out declaration of fascist purpose, advocating the deportation or extermination of "social undesirables" and "primitive cultures", displaying a deplorable level of literacy in their own allegedly superior "western culture", I really don't know what then would qualify for such characterization.

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  4. To conclude, and my apologies to your readers for my lengthy comments complete with examples, I did manage to get a word in to this Yahoo Canada hate fest discussion on unappreciative, un-Canadian immigrants after two attempts - my first attempt mysteriously disappeared and had to be reposted, as follows:

    "The best argument against Conservatives is the quality of the support they attract, and the mindless hatred they direct towards any who deviate from their ideology and narrow and backward "cultural" norms - norms they themselves are incapable of mastering - ie "rascist" , "packies", "idealology" - in their pathetic attempts to justify their bigotry. Logic matters little - it is all "Trudeau's fault" despite the fact that similar immigration policies were followed under Mulroney's Progressive Conservatives and continue to be pursued today under Harper's Conservatives, ideological posturing and demented bigotry by Harper's outspoken followers notwithstanding."

    "Harper's erstwhile Conservative supporters denounce the apparent lack of enthusiasm of immigrants to embrace Canadian culture and Canadian identity - a ridiculous claim when one considers that in their own minds such individuals have erased the boundaries between Canadian and American culture, traditions and identity. Our erstwhile Harper Conservative has been raised on a diet of American mythology, American westerns, the ballad of Davy Crockett and such, so that their current appetites for "culture" finds expression in programs such as Duck Dynasty featuring a mix of stupidity, rednecks, guns and pickup trucks. And yet they view with alarm the cultural preferences and tastes of immigrants to Canada, berating immigrants for a lack of enthusiasm towards Canadian identity scarcely exhibited by our Reformacon complainants."

    "As for Reformacons' professed attachment to "western cultural values" by which they refer to their own anglospheric bigotry - keep in mind that such Reformacons cannot find the wherewithal to culturally co-exist with another offshoot of Western European tradition with deep historical roots within Canada- that of French Canada - against whom they have been waging a constant cultural war - interrupted by sporadic episodes of actual warfare throughout Canada's history. Understandably, the demographic and cultural threat of "third world immigration" disturbs them to their core."

    best regards,
    Rene

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  5. Oh my god Rene ! I can't even stand to read any of these comments...Disgusting...but maybe not suprising, if you consider how many people are illiterate (or almost) in Canada and NB...These people rely solely on corporate media to understand the world around them...They watch Sun News or read the Times with their Tim Hortons in the morning and believe every word they read. That's the vote Tories are looking for...What I can't understand is how people can be so PROUD to be so politically illiterate and uneducated...They live in their little bubble and "can't be bothered" with democracy and fighting against social injustice or climate change...If you are involved politically or care about political issues, they consider you as a "radical" or an "extremist"...What is supposed to be normal citizen participation in democracy is "suspicious" to them. I guess that's why education is SO important...It's just like you said Graeme : "The problem is lack of respect for any intellectual activity, indeed or fear of any intellectual activity"...Andie C.

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