Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 8: You can just picture the scene....

.....a young man goes to journalism school to fulfil his childhood dream of becoming a reporter, digging for stories, getting at the truth. As well as journalism, he studies political science, history, the basics of science, everything he needs to see significance where others see  - nothing in particular. He gets a job. The editor calls him in.

"We need you to write up a big story. This is for page one. So write a story about potholes."

And there it is on page one. "Pothole season in full swing."

Lower on the page, Brent Mazerolle has a zinger that must have people all over town talking and thinking...."Moncton council hears objections to billboard."

This sort of first page doesn't happen by accident. This is the front page of a newspaper designed to hide any real news, to discourage any thought, to herd people as people herd sheep.

So let's start today's blog by not talking about the Irving press. Let's talk about a real journalist named Seymour Hersh who is intelligent, who digs, who tackles serious subjects. and who isn't afraid of any newspaper editor, publisher or owner.

I got this story from yesterday's Information Clearing House. This has stories the news media deliberately miss. You have to use judgement in accepting its opinions because it can be highly biased. But this isn't their opinion. This is an opinion from Seymour Hersh who is. arguably, the outstanding investigative journalist of our time.

Last summer, there were reports of the Syrian government using Sarin gas in its civil war. Obama seized on that as an excuse to go to war on Syria in support of the "rebels". Assistant Secretary of state Kerry joined him in the demand, both of them saying Syria  had crossed a "red line". The war was planned to begin on August 29.

Then, Hersh released his story that the Syrian government had not used gas of any sort. The "rebels' had.  And it came from our ally, Turkey.

The major US news media ignored his story. But the military leadership didn't. They told the president that such a war was folly,  that it could embroil the region in unwinnable war, and tie up the whole US military for no good reason. Congress got the message, too, and refused to support Obama.

That's when Kerry suddenly changed his position, dropped the talk of war, and demanded Syria drop the production of a gas it wasn't producing in the first place. I guess it seemed the graceful way out. And so Kerry became the great peacemaker.

Meanwhile, the mainstream news media still speak of Syria as the one that used gas.

In reality, Obama had to back off what would have been a foolish war, and perhaps a disastrous one.

Now we need a Seymour Hersh to give us the result of all this. Has Obama effectively lost his power? Is  he no longer in control of foreign policy? Is this why he has been lying so very low recently?

And if he has effectively lost his power, who has he lost it to? There are some very, very dangerous people running loose in the US government.

A strong Obama was dangerous because he was an eager a warrior as Bush. But a weak Obama could be even more dangerous.
There is some big news in section A. On p. 4, even bigger than the pothole story, is a hot flash about the opening of a new boutique. Notice the headline, in particular.  "Entrepreneur opens...." I don't believe I  have even seen the word   'entrepreneur' used in a headline in such a way - so self-concious....

I mean, who would you expect to open a new boutique? A retired coal-miner? A mass murderer? Why use the work entrepreneur at all? It's a terribly pompous way of saying businessperson. It's a word deliberately being boosted for its exotic sound, and for the unconcious images it creates. Entrepreneurs are good because they are private business, and private business is good, so much smarter than civil servants and all the rest of us and Mr. Irving is an entrepreneur and therefore Mr. Irving is so much smarter than....etc.

This isn't a new story. This is propaganda chosen by the feeble minded to make readers think just like them.

Page A 6 has the other big news of entrepreneurship in Moncton. A Mexican restaurant is opening. Mind you, that's good. A wide range of cuisines is a sign of a real city - and Moncton has advanced remarkably in this respect over the last few years.

Gee. If the New York Times had a neat first section like the TandT, I bet it would sell a lot more papers. (though New Yorkers might laugh at the word 'entrepreneur'.)
NewsToday, like yesterday's version, is pretty slim pickings. The biggest coverage goes to the Liberal victory in Quebec. However, though it's nice to see Pauline Marois go, I have never seen anything impressive about the Liberal party of Quebec.

The bigger story, I think, is "Tensions still on the rise in Ukraine". I'm afraid we could be back in the soup on this one.

Whoever inspired the coup in Ukraine - and I'm quite sure it was the US - has created an unstable situation that nobody has any control over. The mixture of populations and ideologies has always made the Ukraine open to instability. So now we have violence in another part of Ukraine, and another demand for separation of a part of that country.

And that is giving us armed and violent mobs. Troops won't help. Nor will some big show of establishing democracy - because not much of this is about democracy.

What we have is a turmoil of ideologies from the furthest left to the furthest right,  complicated by language origins - and about to be made into pure hell by the poverty the International Monetary Fund and certain banks have begun to impose on Ukraine.

The temptation for both Obama and Putin to intervene will be strong, especially if Ukraine degenerates into the chaos that is very possible. This has a dreadful feeling of 1914.

The editorial is the usual, self-righteous one that we have to get tough with these university profs who live in a different world.
I lived for many years as a university prof. And, so far as I know, I lived in the real world. I had toproduce on my job. I had to pay bills and taxes and all that stuff. I had a family to feed, and we lived in a house. If that wasn't the real world, it was a pretty, damned good  imitation of one.

Certainly, I didn't live as an editor who is well paid for writing shallow and obvious propaganda for an owner who lives off the work of others. I didn't live as an editor too lazy or too submissive to turn out a paper which has real news instead of propaganda and trivia.

Hey - Mr. editor - think you could dash off an editorial like today's the next time Mr. Irving wants to destroy a chunk of our forest or interfere in our schools or announce he, unelected, is a member of the government? Do you have it in you to tell Mr. Irving to live in the real world?

Or you could tell all the local barons who, in these difficult times, want us to build an events centre for them, tell them to live in the real world.

This editorial  is shallow crap in which the editor demonstrates he hasn't the faintest idea what university education is about. The closest he gets to practical advice is "University staff need to keep pace with the times." But I have no idea what that means. And neither does the editor.

Norbert has an interesting piece about how to encourage organ donation to hospitals. He suggests a method that is simplicity itself - and sounds as if it would work.

I had a hard job following Alec Bruce's column. For a start, I wish he would stop using the words conservative and liberal in the sloppy way he (and most of us) uses them. Liberal does not mean leftish or scatterbrained. Conservative does not mean old-fashioned.

The theme of his column is that we overprotect children because parents now are over-protective baby-boomers. (Actually, baby-boomers are now  grandparents). His evidence is that he sees articles calling for less protection - attributing these to leftish writers and editors.
1. The proportion of writers and editors ( esp. of  'leftish" ones) is very small in this world. I can't see how citing them proves anything about anything.
2. Then he says that looking out his window, he sees lots of children out playing without any protection at all. So he concludes with the opposite of what he started with.
I don't understand this logic.
On the other hand, Alec Bruce is a very funny guy - but I often need a picture drawn before I catch a joke.

Alan Cochrane writes a column about saving more of our old buildings, some for historical value, some for more modern uses. No-one can quarrel with that - though I draw the line at describing the ghastly Castle Manor as a place of character and historical significance.

There are, however, large numbers of homes as well as the more obvious buildings  that should have attention and meaning drawn to them. One way to do that would be to establish walking tours of the city, designed around buildings of interest.

Each such building on the tour would have a discreet sign on it, describing why it is significant and interesting. I would start with an area which has a concentration of such buildings.

There are many old buildings in Moncton that are of historical and architectural interest. In case of a Moncton High, it might be obvious. Other buildings need a little help. Usually, a building is not interesting until we are told what is interesting about it.

Incidentally, there is a railway steam engine repair shop which is central to understanding any history of Moncton. But it seems to be used for storage, and there are no signs. Now - if we only had a steam engine in there.......

"A matter of rights rather than choice" is a letter to the editor defending to right of women to have abortions. People who think otherwise, and who think they are saving lives, should look at the history of abortion.

There have always been abortions. The difference between back then and now is that back then a great many women as well as their babies died during the abortion. Today, it is possible to carry out an abortion while saving the life of the mother.

Check any newspaper of about a century ago or more. You will commonly find ads for medicines "for
female constipation." Now, think hard. What's the difference between female and male constipation? Answer - none. So why did women buy this stuff?

Becase the word "constipation" was a code that was generally understood to mean that the medicine caused abortions.

There were lots of other systems, most of them crude and painful and commonly fatal for the woman. Forbidding professional, medical abortions will actually kill more, not less.

Oh, I know The Bible says "Thou shall not kill". But I note that those who oppose killing by abortion usually cheer for killing by war, killing by the millions, and killing babies as much as anyone else. To this day, many, many babies in Vietnam are dying from the tons of agent orange that the US dropped on that country, and as a side effect, produce babies with horrible mutilations    which soon kill them. They still die, routinely, of depleted uranium the US used on a grand scale in Iraq.

Babies in Africa die every day because the drug companies who supply agencies with medical drugs use their influence in government to get full, retail price for them. The result is a shortage of drugs that many babies need to live.

Tell you what. Let's stop killing millions of babies by war. Then we'll take a look to see if there's a better way to deal with abortion.

Right now, we don't have a better way. Medical abortion at least saves the lives of mothers. The other ways don't.

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