Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Feb. 5: The news the Irving press missed...

Just after singer Pete Seeger's death, Rod Allen wrote a column on how the idealism and enthusiasm of Seeger's music had impressed him in his younger days. I knew what he meant. I had been caught up in it, too, the songs about racial equality in the US, about decent salaries, about peace, about fair treatment....

It was nice to read of a TandT editor who was moved by those same ideals. Then I came across a story about Seeger I had forgotten.

For seventeen years, at the peak of his popularity, he was banned from television in the US. He was on the US government's black list,  the equivalent of being a terrorist. He had government spies watching him even then. Today, he'd be in line for the president's power to imprison people with no charge, no trial.  Why?

Because he sang about racial equality, about decent salaries, about peace, about fair treatment....

But both Mr. Allan and I were young then. At some point, in the words  of one of Seeger's favourite songs, you have to decide. "Which side are you on?"

Along with millions, I decided. And I guess Mr.Allen decided, too.

There's a PBS video on Pete Seeger's life,  and it includes the story of his being banned on TV. You can find it on Youtube as The Power of Song. To find it along with several other such videos on Seeger, google Pete Seeger youtube pbs.

In a story that didn't make the TandT at all, University of Toronto scientists have made some dismaying discoveries at Alberta's oilsands. It seems the oil sands generate a far higher proportion of air pollution than had been realized.

Gee. I wonder how those clever oil execs missed that. This is a result of a chemical  in the waste which readily evaporates into the air. It is highly carcinogenic, with very serious implications for human and animal life over a wide region.

On comment on it was that the government does not do adequate supervision of safety standards. Of course not. How could it? Harper has cut almost all the environmental budget. And, obviously, the oil companies have not taken up the slack.

Well, I give them credit for not taking up the slack. But maybe they did take it up. And maybe they found that dealing with that chemical was just too expensive. So maybe they just kept quiet to keep profits up.

Whatever the case, the Irving press will never tell.

This story, by the way, comes from Norbert's detested CBC which, he suggests, doesn't have the high standards of the TandT.

That story is the sort that would have been in NewsToday. But they needed the space for a picture of Justin Bieber, and the gripping story of how his trial date has been set.

The  Irving press seems also to have missed the story about the biggest scandal in American military history. It seems to be mainly in the marine corps; but there is a lot of investigating yet to do.

In order to maintain a supply of recruits for its war, the American government has covered the country with military recruiters. These get small bonusses for signing up recruits - and the recruit gets a bigger bonus.

Well, it seems that some recruiters, almost a thousand of them and of all ranks, have been working a msassive scam to get more money for themselves out of it. The cost of the scam is, so far, at least $300,000,000. It will take at least two years to complete the investigation.

So far, the investigation suggests an atmosphere of theft and corruption that runs through the whole structure of the military and the defence industries with the government, far from being a regulator, involved with it.

This comes within a week of the story that 39 officers in charge of firing nuclear missiles have been dismissed on charges of drunkeness, and drug use on the job.

This is not just a gossipy story. This is just the tip of an iceberg of corruption and bad morale that runs through the whole US military, and military spending. It has very serious implications for the effectiveness of the American forces (which have not, in fact, been effective at all for over fifty years.) There's a reason why the US keeps getting beaten by small, poor, and undeveloped countries.

It has now just lost a war (Afghanistan) which is not only against a small country, but one that had virtually no military.

Must of California is suffering the worst drought on record. Some of the worst areas are those which grow grapes for the California wine industry. The drought is so bad, the state has no more water in its reservoirs - so the affected areas are on their own.

Gee! I'm so relieved when I see a letter to the editor assuring us there is no climate change happening.

Oh, yes. A length of the Trans-Canada pipeline blew up in Northern Alberta. It happened in 2009; but the government forgot to tell us. In fact, such explosions have happened at least seven times since the 1970s.

The story came out only when fearless reporters for the Irving press made repeated demands for the story - under the freedom of information act.

Okay. You caught me. They weren't Irving reporters. They worked for that awful CBC   which isn't nearly as good as the Irving press.

However, the TandT is not without important items today.

B7 has a full page of photos (in colour) of people smiling and handing big cheques to each other.

A1 has a headline which looks like a big story.  $27 million will be spent in Moncton for the women's world cup in soccer. But don't buy that personal, stretch limo yet. There is no mention of exactly who will get that money.

And there never will be.

There's also a story in which VIA rail union workers say VIA services in New Brunswick need to be saved. I agree they do, and for many good reasons. But the word I'm hearing from people closer to the situation is that Harper has made up his mind. And he is not going to save it.

Harper's mind works on a very, narrow business model. All that counts if profit. He has no understanding that governments also have to think of the needs of people and communities. Our provincial Liberals and Conservatives think the same way.

Neither of them realizes that the major role of government is to reply to the needs of people - not just to the profit margins of rich ones.

1 comment:

  1. They're all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same.