Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July 17: I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Life is heck....

I've been all day fixing my computer. (So I got my son to fix it.)

So this is a very late blog - possibly a short one.

A reader wrote to suggest that perhaps I should not be so hard on the TandT staff. After all, they know they have to obey the boss if they hope to keep their jobs.

I would go along with that so far as junior reporters are concerned. After all, theirs are probably first jobs in the field - and they don't yet know the game. (Though I do wonder what journalism school is teaching - or not teaching - them.) But it's a different matter for staff writers and editors.

They've chosen to stay on though they know the Irving Press is a house of ill repute. They know the lying they do hurts and victimizes people. Unless they are very, very stupid or self-deluding, they know that what they're doing is unethical.

There is a tremendous responsibility that rests on journalists. The good ones take pride in telling the truth, no matter who dislikes it. But those at   the Irving papers have committed themselves to lives of lying and of hiding the facts. In that, they have done one hell of a lot of damage to this province. I don't feel at all guilty about calling them what they are.

Big  story on page 1? A retail shop on Main St. is moving to George St. Wow! Doesn't the owner know that Main St. is going to go wild when it gets a new hockey rink for just over 100 million (or just over two million? Whatever.

There's also a big picture of firemen standing on a roof and look at a hole in it. This was a banner day for lovers of photos of firemen standing on roofs looking at holes in them. Quick, go to page A8. There are two more pictures of firemen standing on a roof looking a a hole in it. Same firemen, same roof, same hole.

NewsToday is better than usual. Page one has a story, well-supported, that Harper has sent a list of people, including top civil servants, who are the 'enemy' because they don't kiss up to the boss enough. Well, that's no surprise. It's long been obvious that Harper is a man obsessed with power and control.

In a related sort of story, Harper seems to be backing a proposal for the US to extend drug patent rules in a way that would be extremely damaging to the poor countries that desperately need those drugs.

Of course, Harper will support it. Harper is obsessed with power. Getting and holding power means being a loyal servant to the very, very rich. (In this context, I always think of a former premier of this province who became a wealthy man by being useful to the very, very rich.)

The pharmaceutical industry is the sweetest racket every invented. (And please don't make me cry by telling how much research they do to develop new drugs.) Their big money goes to profits, lobbyists, advertising, and sales reps. In Canada, the sales reps alone, the ones who visit the doctors to get them to prescrive their stuff cost, on average, over $60.000 per year per doctor.

And their lobbyists make sure that foreign aid which delivers drugs to poor countries is paid by the taxpayer at the full, retail rate - which means that millions of people who should be getting drugs aren't getting them.
There's another, quite sick story about how Canadian government scientists used aboriginal children and adults to conduct nutrition experiments. And, no, I don't mean it conducted experiments to see which foods were best for them. Commonly, the subjects were deliberately deprived of certain foods (like milk) and of essential vitamins for periods of two years and more. This is a story that deserves a follow up. (But we're not likely to see one.)

Then there's a story on the same page (C4) about how Canadian was involved in the torture practiced by its good friends in other countries.

These are stories that call for opinion pieces by editors and staff writers who have enough inegrity to see how important they are, and enough brains to do a bit of research and writing on them - to show why these stories are important to us.  Unfortunately, Brian Cormer couldn't do it because he had a big story on why it's not nice to text while driving. Staff writer Eric Lewis needed his space to say that we can't talk about a recent shooting because nothing in known about it yet. Well, okay. But one sentence would have done that.

Norbert Cunningham, as he so often does, gives us a condensed version of some story he read, heard or saw. This one is from BBC.

The editorial is a rant at city council for making a fuss over a recent report on spending to build the stadium. The writer swears at council, accuses them of trying to make a case out of nothing, and says all that was in the report was printed in the TandT several years ago.

I have no idea whether the editorial writer (is it Al Hogan?) is functionally illiterate, mentally unwell, a liar, or just stunningly stupid. But that's our range of choice in judging that editorial.

The TandT published that whole report years ago? How could they when it hadn't been prepared yet?
It touches only minor details? Okay, let's assume that 3.8 million over budget is a minor detail. But in fact, the report did NOT say it was only 3.8 million. That latter was only the second part of going over budget. So the real figure was much greater than that.

The report has only minor supporting details? Gee, Mr. Editorial writer, you must be a real, cool kinda guy to say that a huge absense of receipts and a lack of any record of where large sums of money went constitutes "minor supporting" details.

I can understand that. Somebody gives me a million of taxpayers' money. He's a friend. So I don't give a receipt. That's what friends are for.

And we certainly don't want the people spending our money to have to jump through "bureaucratic hoops" to get a few million when some deserving workman has earned it. So, of course, you don't keep records.

And, as the writer says, you can't complain about overspending by a few, piddling millions if you "want this city to progress." I mean, we'll never attract contractors if they aren't allowed to cheat.

Then he appeals to the heavens that critics are trying to pin the blame on city staff. Come off it.That's a false appeal to sentiment. City hall staff did not walk off with millions of dollars, and nobody has said they did.

The problem with Moncton, as with the rest of New Brunswick, is that corruption in politics and in business is all in a normal day. In this case, for example, you have to wonder what the mayor was doing while estimates were rising, and receipts disappearing.

"Digging up years old stadium spending does no good....", storms the editorial writer.  Damn right. There should be a statute of limitations on this sort of thing. Any crime committed four years ago or more should be automatically forgiven.

What a turkey!

In a piece of news that didn't and won't make the TandT, our military has special ops troops for highly planned missions. There are very similar to such US units as the SEALS - and, indeed, are very, closely connected to American special ops.

But we're not allowed to know anything about them, not what they do, or why, or where.... Just like US special ops.

No big deal? They need to be secret? well....

US special ops give Obama groups of highly trained thugs who can be sent into countries the US is not at war with to carry assassinations and other destruction. Those are acts of war. But the American constitution says that only congress can approve war.

Implication for Canada? If it's all secret, that means Harper has his own gang of thugs that he can committ to an act of war - and that, as in the US, in contrary to our consitutional practice. Only the Canadian people, acting through parliament can approve of a war.

This was important enough so that Canada in 1939 delayed declaring war on Germany and Italy for a week until parliament could be summoned to vote on it. The importance of that is it was given, in many a Nov. 11 speech, as a leading reason why Canadians died in World War One - so that only our representatives could declare war.

You think that's irrelevant? Okay.

US special ops have been widely used by American big business operating in poor countries. In thiese countries, American (and Canadian) big business frequently use brutal methods, beating, starvation wages, theft of land, coerced labour- and pollution on a such a massive scale that large portions of Africa and Central American today will not support human life. People object to all that. So the companies have security guards, hired to  intimidate, murder and rape. But sometimes they need something bigger. That's when the special ops are sent in.

Remember the slaughter of a quarter million native peoples in Guatemala? The one that Clinton publicy apologized for but was ignored by most of the North American Press?  Much of it was done by Guatemalan troops with US special ops leadership - and special ops training in useful things like torture.

But Canada would never do such a thing. Canadians respect their constitution. They would never send troops into a country without parliament first approving it.

Well, actually, it already has. Canadian special ops were in Afghanistan from the first day - well before Canada announced it would be sending troops. Both Liberal and Conservative prime ministers know that because they did it.

There was almost certainly special ops sent with our "peacekeepers" in Haiti - an operation that was a complete fraud.  The real purpose of that invasion was to overthrow the democratically elected government of Haiti and install an American puppet. I don't think that's what our soldiers in World War One died for.

But, anyway, Canadian big business would never mistreat its workers in foreign countries. Would it?

Guess again. Canada is big time in the mining business with extensive holdings in Latin America and Africa. And the Canadian mining business is known as brutal and coercive and environmentally murderous as the worst.

But we wouldn't send in special ops, would we?

Well, you could ask Mr. Harper. But he won't say.


1 comment:

  1. Good morning Graeme. I hope this day is better for you. Sometimes life sucks; sometimes life really sucks. But we keep putting one foot in front of the other, enjoying and appreciating the good moments with familiy, friends, nature and of course 'this'...So I was going to talk with you about my own government-imposed poverty (due to my demographic) then the article by the food historian revealed the experiments performed by government on Aboriginal residential 'prisoners'...and I realized, again, how much I have to be grateful for. There have always been human guines pigs from disadvantaged groups of people--prisoners especially. To hear many Conservatives though, it's ok--at least they're good for something...oh well, they can never break my spirit, even with a diet of bologna, beans and tuna and the once-a-month community supper at the church I attend. I volunteer for it and see so many who need so much...thanks for listening, Graeme.