Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29: The TandT is a disgrace.....

...particularly on this day.

We are in the midst of the severest crisis most of us have ever faced. And there's not a word of it in the paper. The banner headline is that the Shediac campground is taking its next step.  Well, yeah. There are lots of steps to starting a major campground. So are we going to get that nothing headline for the next month or more?

On A3, a Riverview business committee recommends that business be involved in ALL decisions of  city council. The council went wildly enthusiastic, and had puppies on the spot.. Obviously, nobody on that council knows the meaning of the word fascism. They might start by checking out the word corporatism, the starting point of Mussolini's fascism.

NOBODY deserves a right to sit in on any decisions or to have a voice in political decision making unless he or she gets elected. In a democracy, there is no right to have any special voice in democratic affairs that comes simply from being in business, or being a lawyer, or having eleven toes. It's bad enough that the provincial government doesn't understand that. But the ignorance seems to run through all levels of government in New Brunswick.

Then there's half a page on the demands of raising a chinchilla. And that takes care of the first section.

NewsToday is one and a half pages in which the most foreign land mentioned is Arkansas. The rest is games and ads.

Most disgusting is Harper's announcement of a May 9 commemoration of Canada's veterans of Afghanistan. For a start, To announce such an event just a week before it is to happen suggest it not something that Harper has had on his mind for a while.  This looks like a last minute election PR stunt.

And a commemoration of those who died? Well, that will take the form of a flypast by aircraft that were in Afghanistan, a marchpast by the regiments that had troops there, and artillery firing blanks. In other words, this is about the grandeur and glory of war.

Never mind that nobody in this country appears to have the faintest idea why Canadians killed and died in Afghanistan. What did we achieve that was worth 158 Canadian lives, and damage to many more? Nobody has ever told us. On the surface, the only obvious achievement was to make Afghanistan the world's leading producer of hard drugs.

And wouldn't it be more useful if the government were to use this occasion to explain why it has never honoured all its promises to veterans, and has never launched the effort it should have to deal with such problems as  PTSD. Now, they are sending troops to Kabul without danger pay. Way to balance the budget. Steve.

The whole tone of this "commemoration" is disgusting.

And that is the world news. Not a word about Ukraine. But I''ll come back to that.
Norbert has a column on bafflegab, the way some people talk to make something very ordinary sound very impressive and wise - or simply to keep others from understanding what they said.

But why zero in on university profs? Yes, there is some bafflegab among professors. But I've heard even more from businessmen, journalists, and all kinds of others. Has Norbert never heard a businessman
 say that he was not planning to do something "at this point in time" - thus lending a certain grandeur and scientific precision that would not be there if he said the correct word, "now"?

The only example  he has of professorial bafflegab is a description of a university course - and that was from 16 years ago. I've had to read thousands of course descriptions - and I never saw one like that.

Bafflegab is common among all sorts of people, including journalists and politicians. However, I note that Norbert got the idea for this column from  reading The National Post. I'm not surprised. For arrogance, prejudice and narrowness, Norbert is a National Post kind of guy.

Alec Bruce's column is not, like Norbert's, geared to the prejudices and thinking processes of hillbillies; but there is a strong warning running through his column for today. Harper has strong dictatorial tendencies, and a profound distrust of democracy. I'm surprised that Canada has so far survived his leadership. Indeed, I'm not confident that it has survived his leadership.

Let's get back to Ukraine, which wasn't important enough for the news pages.

Us humans have a tendency to see others in a simple way. "Others" are good or evil. We, and other people like us, are good. Others who are against us are bad.

That's why so many Moslems are 'bad". They are against us. They don't want us to kill them as we have been doing for over a century. So they hit back. And then we call them terrorists, and they're bad. However, some Moslems, like Saudi Arabia, live under dictators we have made rich (not the people, just the dictators) so they are good. (Someday, if the Saudis ever get rid of their dictator, they will probably became bad.)

Germans were once bad, very bad. But now they are members of NATO; so they're good.

You can follow this game in our news media for every war fought in the past century and more.Almost all the news media have joined to spread the word that the other side is bad, evil, corrupt, cruel...

At the end of nineteenth century, the people of The Phillippines were a relatively primitive society who threatened nobody, certainly not the US. The US invaded, killed on a massive scale, tortured on a massive scale, all so its businessmen could have a base to exploit the market and the cheap labour of east Asia.

Ever seen a kind word about Fidel Castro in our news media? He was preceded by years of brutal and murderous dictators, all supported by the US  government. They allowed American business to exploit the nation, to withhold all services including education while American business allowed the dictator's forces to rape, torture, murder and steal to their heart's content. Almost none of this every made the North American news media.

Then Castro came. He got rid of the dictators. He established free education all the way through university. He established a world class medicare system. He did a great many things for the people of Cuba, and there has never been the slightest evidence of any corruption.

In return, the US has sponsored an invasion of Cuba, has sponsored terrorist attacks like blowing up an airliner, and has impoverished Cuba with trade sanctions.

Check all our North American newspapers. See how many you can find demonizing Castro. See how many speak well of what he's done. You probably won't find any of the latter . The US is good. So Castro is bad. It's the same for most of Central America.

For centuries, the British did that sort of thing for the same sort of reason - to make money for the already rich. They killed on a grand scale; they took over land; they enslaved workers -or worse. But Britain was "Land of hope and glory, Mother of the free...." It was good.  Any Zulus or Chinese or Indians who tried to defend themselves were evil and vicious. There's a pattern in our news media, and in our response to it. And we're seeing it repeated today.

I thought of that as I glanced over an editorial in a recent copy of MacLean's. His theme was that Putin was evil so, doing what evil people do, he was trying to expand his his "empire" to include Ukraine. The message goes down as easily as maple syrup on ice cream because that's the way we think, too.

In fact, the theme of Putin as evil is pretty well the only one in our news media.

Think of it. For over fifity years, the US has done nothing but invade. It has established dictatorships. It has destroyed democracy. It has killed in the millions. It has tortured. It has destroyed nations like Libya and, possibly, Syria. It's armed forces are operating in every part of the world.

But, oh, if Putin's taking over of Crimea it's so much worse than that - worse than the slaughter in Iran, in Guatemala, worse than the installation of what is effectively a military dictatorship in Egypt, and one that is particularly murderous...

As well, none of our news media have cared to report on how this all started. The papers begin with evil Putin annexing Crimea. But this started with the overthrow of the Ukrainian elected government. Who was behind the uprising that overthrew the elected government. That takes money and planning and training. Where did that come from?

Who picked the new president? Why? Who picked Naziis to sit in the Ukrainian government? Why?

Dead silence. Obama is good. Putin is bad.

The news media, more than ever, are dominated by a handful of very wealthy people - and they all carry the same propaganda message.. What can this mean?

I can mean that large numbers of wealthy and influential people in the US want a war with Russia. Just follow the tone of the news media. They are making the usual, old case for a war. We are good. They are bad.

Who are those wealthy people? Well, they've been screaming what they want for some 16 years - world conquest by the US. Project for the New American Century. They demand world conquest, and they can get it only by force. They have decided to target Russia now. War if necessary. Or maybe the gentler humiliation of Putin by forcing him to back off.

The Project for the New American Century produced Bush. And it's quite obvious that it now has Obama.

Almost all the aggressive talk has come from the good side - our side. Our news media have given us almost no information on Ukraine, or any rationale for it's bizarre notion that Putin is trying to build an empire.

The Project for the New American Century is powerfully  represented in Washington. I would guess that our Senator Linda Frum is an admirer. Certainly, her journalist brother, David, has been a strong supporter.

The evidence is that somebody wants a war with Russia. And the somebody is us - the good side.

This may already have gone beyond the crisis stage.
But don't fuss about it.  Do something positive and useful. Form a club to start scrapbooks of great headlines in the Irving Press, like "What's on TV this Summer?" and "More seats for new events centre?"


  1. Interesting comments, but again a bit strident. We sent six planes over...that hardly makes it the 'severest crisis we have ever faced'. Most of this is political posturing, its as serious as lots of incidents, but I'm not sure what the fear is.

    I'm not sure what prevented it, but while invading Afghanistan there certainly could have been retaliation on our soil from those whose families were affected or killed. THAT was an outright invasion where we killed people and made real enemies. This hasn't even had a death count into double digits.

    And I have actually found some pretty good reporting on this, though not as much as bad. Democracy Now is a mandatory source for decent news, there is also a documentary called the 'Orange Revolution' which is worth watching.

    Jack Matlock was one of the last US ambassadors to Russia, and he's been writing articles for many media sources, basically stating what is stated in this blog-though a little more calmly:) Even in the US media I found a fair bit of coverage that stated the most obvious-that Russia will not tolerate a Ukraine in NATO. Closer ties with europe, fine, but not NATO.

    For more on how bad the media is, The Globe and Mail had a recent article which, once again, provides no context and just recounts 'the facts'. Unfortunately, this is common in media nowadays. They quote John Kerry going on and on about how 'NATO territory is invioble' and doesn't even bother to point out that Ukraine has never actually been IN NATO, and was only a partner which began distancing itself in 2010.

    Its also worth pointing out that in numerous polls, there is almost no support for Ukraine joining NATO, in fact almost half of Ukrainians polled felt that NATO was the enemy.

    However, on the other side, we now know that Putin was lying when he said it wasn't Russian soldiers inside Crimea. Although in fact that can almost be seen as a GOOD thing since there was virtually no violence. Meanwhile, in the east they seem to not be russian military, but russian militia's with little training, and its already getting ugly.

    So again, its fine to criticize the media, but the history lesson doesn't actually tell people what is going on in Ukraine, so I thought I'd add that link to Democracy Now and Jack Matlock Jr. Those are both good introductions to what is going on.

    1. Whether this is a big crisis has nothing whatever to do with how many aircraft we send, or how many were killed in AFghanistan.

      Nobody at all was killed in the Cuban missile crisis. It was still a crisis.

      Thanks for the mention of Democracy Now, and Jack Matlock. I look forward to them.

  2. Re the Ukraine comments, you really should try to get this on the national stage, it's bang on the mark. Yet more sabre rattling from John Kerry today, and he still can say these things with a straight face.

  3. And there is no evidence of corruption in Cuba...there are cubans who might disagree:

    "The state ownership has contributed to rampant corruption. The book Corruption in Cuba says that "As in other former socialist countries, when given opportunity, few citizens hesitate to steal from the government. Since the bulk of the productive resources are owned and managed by the state and the vast majority of Cubans work for state-owned enterprises, these petty crimes are widespread".[2]

    Bribes are widespread. To get medical care, patients pay bribes. Musicians regularly pay bribes to able to perform on tourist areas, where they can earn convertible currency.[3] A bicycle taxi license is reported to cost $150 in bribes.[4]

    No doubt lots of that is hyperbole, and pales in comparison to batista and most carribean and central american countries. But to say 'no evidence of corruption' is a BIG stretch.

  4. And to make issue over statements in a book with no evidence of its reliability is a BIG stretch.

    Play it any way you like, the bribery you cite is small potatoes, indeed, compared not on to the dictators but to most of the western world.

  5. Well, first of all, it comes from Germany's international organization "Corruption Transparancy", not a book. Second, Cuba is a closed society where such studies have virtually never taken place, so when a society is SO secretive you can't very well blame the critics for not having good solid facts.

    However, its easy enough to see. Cuba is supposedly egalitarian, yet until this year had two different currencies. Cuba is now allowed to bring in foreign owned cars, which sell for about ten years wages. So the question is, why can some in Cuba afford such things and not others? And you can just spend a few hours on google earth checking out the various homes in Havana and other cities. Most of the leaders live in wealth that Stephen Harper can only dream of.

    According to the index, Cuba has much more corruption than western nations. Thats mostly, I think, because most of the west doesn't have so much bribery available to small players, but has lots and lots of blackmail. When Irving says to give them the forests and they will provide jobs, nobody calls it 'bribery'. And they don't even call it 'bad' when Irving says, 'give us a tax break or we move our pulp plant to quebec'. So 'corruption' is simply 'the way we do business', which is probably what they would say in Cuba.

    That doesn't make it good in either case.

  6. Thats a good point about the cuban missile crisis. However, those were nuclear warships and the US was prepared to declare war on Russia. Which makes it ironic when Russia was going to have weapons on the US doorstep it was worth going to war for, but the US having weapons on the Soviet doorstep isn't supposed to bother them at all.

    However, I think if we looked at all the conditions of WHY it was a crisis, I think we'd see a pretty big difference to Ukraine.