Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 10: How not to be an editor...

...First, though check out the the comments at the bottom of this page. There is a post there telling where to find  platform statements of the two candidates for city council. And, no, they aren't in the Irving press which pays professionals good money to write news stories about nothing. They're in the Moncton Free - which is run by volunteers.

Now - The banner headline on p.1, the story of the day, is "Brush fire season heating up"  Get it? Brush fire -   heating up. chuckle. chuckle.

One of the first lessons in journalism school is that you don't make a joke out of a serious story. And especially not a cutesy, corny joke. Brush fires destroy forest, destroy homes, kill people. They aren't funny. A professional editor should know that.

Then, next to it, but in smaller print and downgraded to second place is "N.B. rail line saved"' Now, we know that brush fire season is coming. It happens every summer. It's not a flash. The saving of our rail line is quite different. We didn't know it was coming. And it's important for the future of this province. As gas prices rise - and they will - we might be very, very grateful to have that rail line for people and goods. This is the big, New Brunswick story of the day.

Then, and on the same page, there's "Mom's are every woman's best friend". Possibly so. But that's not a news story; it's an opinion. This is what we should be reading on the opinion page, the op ed. Instead, we usually get irrelevant and self-indulgent opinion on the op ed page. And an opinion disguised as a news story on the front page.

That's three, major and amateurish bloopers by one editor, and on one page. They'll probably name him editor of the year for Atlantic Canada.

Then, on page A6, there's an obituary. Okay. That is the obituary section. But it is written as a news story. Okay, a well-known person dies, so you write that up as news. But this is not about a well-known person. This person, like you and me, lived a largely unknown life. I don't doubt she was a lovely person. I don't doubt her children loved her. But that is not a news story. It's an obituary. Read it. It's pure obituary. There is no news in it.

I cannot understand how any editor could be so dense as not to know the difference. Indeed, in many years of reading newspapers, I have never seen anything like this.

On A5, we get the stunning news that organizers of the FIFA soccer event have chosen a slogan. "To a greater goal".  Whoopee! They have even decided it has a deep meaning. I will inspire people to reach greater goals in life - and that is what the soccer tournament is all about me. Yeah.

And silly me. I thought it was about making money for the organizers.

Newstoday has a page of pure bilge about the day of  honour for Canadians who served in Afghanistan. Harper gave an absurd speech that said, among other idiocies, that they died to make Canada safer and stronger. A chaplain said they died in the interest of justice and hope for Afghanistan. Yeah. We killed people to give them justice and hope. And we sent Canadians to die because we were oh, so concerned that the people of Afghanistan should have justice and hope. Right. Of course, you can pay a clergyman to spout any sort of propaganda.

They made Canada stronger and safer? How? Were the Taliban planning to attack us? Somebody said that Afghanistan was sheltering terrorists. There is no evidence it was. Never has been. In fact, the US is sheltering more terrorists by paying them and arming them to fight in Syria. Pakistan is sheltering terrorists, lots of them. So is half the world. In a century of invasions, killing, enslaving, exploiting people of Africa and the middle east,  the west has created terrorism all over the world.

In fact,  the government has never explained what that war was for - that's why we get these damn fool stories it was to bring justice and hope to Afghanistan. We sent people to die and to kill. Why did we do it?

Hint - it had nothing to do with 9/11. Bush was planning the invasion of Afghanistan BEFORE 9/11.

And the government that says we owe those veterans much - as we do - is too cheap to honour its promises of medical care for soldiers who now pay the price in profound mental suffering and suicide. - and this from a prime minister who had no trouble to find millions of dollars to fly Canadian Zionist leaders to Israel to hear him giving a speech to the knesset which will have no effect but to buy him the Zionist vote in the next election.

The ceremony in Ottawa was disgusting and self-serving. It's major purpose was to get Harper re-elected - just as were his trips to Israel and Ukraine.

We put our soldiers in danger to please the US. Ever since then the government has neglected the survivors. And our clergy were all there in their fluffy gowns to assure us that this is what Christianity is about.

Then there's a story about Finance Minister Flemming bragging that the health department is $44 million under budget. If I were CEO of a factory announcing being under budget, I'd expect cheers. But a medical system is not a factory or a business of any sort. It's effectiveness is judged by its results, not it's budget savings.

On the editorial page, Belliveau and Cunningham are still talking about the economy. And they're still doing it without a mention of the very rich and influential or the wage gap. In other words, they're just babbling.

Brent Mazerolle is angry, justly so, and he expresses his anger well in the case of the missing schoolgirls in Nigeria. What I say next is a criticism of us, all of us, not of Brent.

Hundreds of school  girls in Nigeria were kidnapped by a leader we can all agree is an animal.

So how come there is no indignation when our side rapes and murders schoolgirls by the hundreds of thousands as in Vietnam, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan?  Obama is very upset when a Nigerian does that. So how come it doesn't upset him when Americans do hundreds of times worse?

How do you feel about it, Brent? I"m not attacking you here. Not at all. It's very human. We see evil quite readily in people branded as evil. But we never see even greater evil when practiced by "good guys".

Another good column by Gwynne Dyer, this one on the realities of how politics real life.

The sermonette on the Faith page is harmless, will challenge no-one, and is the standard greeting card smarm for mothers' day.

What didn't make the news in the TandT -

1. There is a conference today at U de Ottawa on the threat posed by government spying on our personal lives, and their sharing it with big business. There will be a report - but I doubt that we'll be told about that,  either, in the Irving press.

2. For the best article I have seen on the idiocy of our Harper/Obama approach to Russia and others - by issuing threats and forcing confrontation - check out today's Globe and Mail for the article by Dave Saunders. To save money, google 'Doug Saunders globe and mail'. It should be the first one to come up in, of all papers, an English paper in Kyev.

It's a pretty miserable paper today. But far the worst of it is that shabby "day of honour" page.with The Canadian Press writing two stories of sheer propaganda and lies. They know damn well the Afghanistan war had nothing to do with protecting Canada - or helping Afghanis.

Nowhere in this paper is there a word of what the war was really about. Nowhere does it say the Afghanistan invasion was planned before, well before, 9/11. Nowhere does it say this is a war that had nothing to do with Canada.

After World War 2, we hanged political leaders for doing less than that.

Worst of all was the spectacle of prancing clergy doing their "God is on our side'" act.

This is a paper that is nothing but lies, triviality, propaganda and professional incompetence. But that, alas, does not make it a whole lot different from the rest of the North American press.


  1. I had a heck of a time just finding out about this conference, so I don't think Irving can be faulted too much for not covering it. Not to mention that there are LOTS of conferences going on all the time (which I'd agree you'd think would mean MORE coverage, not less).

    However, the main speaker at the conference is hawking his book on surveillance, so I'll just quote him:

    "There is no conspiracy," said Lyon, who led the research team. "When we use the word surveillance, all too frequently it conjures up these ideas of guys in trench coats on half-lit streets and so on. I think it's really important to get beyond that."


    "Lyon says Canada, with its robust privacy laws and watchdogs, has a good track record on respecting the sensitivity of personal information. But he warns against complacency, or simply adopting the stance that if one has nothing to hide, then there's nothing to worry about."

    I'm NOT proclaiming complacency, only moderation in description. We are not 'all being spied on', certainly by government. Private companies are far more interested in your data than government. We know how bad Harper has been as PM, and youth unemployment has skyrocketed, but you can't even get young people to show up at a protest let alone bring down the government.

    I think you are being too extreme in your comments, but as I've said before, its good to at least have them out there, which media only sporadically does, and Irving probably never.

    The book, by the way, is "Transparant Lives: Surveillance in Canada" by The Surveillance Studies Centre at Queens University, whose website is here:

    And for those who don't know Michael Geist's lawblog:

    1. I know what Lyon says. Now -
      in the surveillance game, environmentalists are referred to as potential terrorists. Not agitators, terrorists. Information about them is turned over to the resource industry twice a year. YOu may think that is harmless. I don't.

      People critical of government foreign policy are potential terrorists so far as spies are concerned.

      Have you ever seen the building our surveillance is in? How huge it is? How a large part of its staff is in the US working permanently with NSA which collects information from all over the world from uncounted millions of people?
      Anyone who criticizes government is the enemy. What do you think they did with info they got on Tommy Douglas - just tucked it in a file?

      You ARE proclaiming complacency. there is not other possible meaning to your words.

      And I think Lyons is dead wrong on his "Robust privacy laws". A country which spies on one of its premier does not have robust privacy laws. A country which hands over such information to big business does not have robust privacy laws. A country that taps phones and computer messages does not have robust privacy laws.

      Read your quotation from Lyons again. The last part contradicts the rest.

  2. PS If you want to branch out, a review of the book may be a neat idea. I was going to make a joke about how this research centre says its dedicated to 'free' scholastic sharing, but is charging for the book:) But you can download it for free here:

  3. Somewhere, mikel, is the comment you sent that in 1939, Canada declared war in the speech from the throne.

    I'm afraid you don't know what a speech from the throne is.
    It does NOT declare laws. It simply announces the plans that the government intends to submit to parliament for debate and vote.
    So the government announced that it was proposing to declare war. It then was open to debate and voting. One person voted against war. So it carried, and we were at war. But it was the debate and vote that did it - not the speech from the throne.

    Going to war in 1939 was a completely Canadian decision. I told you - look at any standard text book. they all refer to this as Canada's first, independent decision to go to war.

    It you are right, then every historian and every text book in Canada on this subject is wrong.

    Check it on the web. I found hundreds of sources without even trying hard.

  4. I NEVER said that the decision wasn't Canada's, I said it was not CANADIANS, or even legislators. It was the Prime Minister and cabinet. The quote is on the thread below. There was no 'bill' to declare war which legislators then debated. It was given in the speech from the throne, which would have meant that an MP would have to attempt to collapse the entire government and force a re election. Which obviously would be nuts to do. The debate was on the address to the speech from the throne. It sets out ALL the governments priorities, not just one.

    The week was given so that King could attempt to show that it was really canada's decision and that it wasn't just following british orders, but nobody at the time ever even contemplated that Canada wouldn't join the war. So yeah, the MP's COULD have voted to take down their own government, but thats just ridiculous to equate that with actual debate. Here I'll leave it with this:

    "To assert Canada's independence from the UK, as already established by the Statute of Westminster 1931, Canada's political leaders decided to unnecessarily seek the approval of the federal parliament to declare war."

    You'll note the term UNNECESSARILY. Like I said, a week later King declared war unilaterally against Japan. Do you really think that during that week they had brought in new legislation which changed the Statute of Westminster so that the PM could declare war? The PM could ALWAYS do so, and if every MP had said no to going to war, then King could have done it anyway. (Although technically, just like today, one of the cabinet ministers can object, which once again collapses the entire government and forces an election).

    Its also worth noting that during that week of debates, militias were already called up, and 'subversives' were already being rounded up as according to the War Measures Act. King liked to constantly say "parliament will decide" as a way to buck british aggression, like almost going to war with the turks.

    Finally, historians and text books often write a lot of bs. A 'senior historian' wrote about how in Afghanistan Harper claimed that 'in canada we need parliamentary approval'-and this was seven years AFTER troops were in Afghanistan.

    And that, of course, doesn't even get into the point that the canadian government isn't even remotely representative of canadians. Harper has about 40%, which was about what King had when he declared war. That means 60% of the voting public do NOT agree with government policy.

    In my eyes it makes ANY legislation they make unrepresentative and anti democratic.

    1. Okay. every Canadian history text of the last 75 years is wrong. My graduate thesis advisor, arguably the outstanding authority on Mackenzie-King - and a man who worked closely with him for years - was all wrong.

  5. WHO exactly considers environmentalists 'potential terrorists'? EVERYBODY is a 'potential terrorist'. Potential terrorists can be charged, just like the group in Toronto were charged.

    Have you got any idea WHO is critical of government? EVERY SINGLE CANADIAN. Do you think that police were tapping the phone lines as people complained about the temporary foreign workers program to the CBC call in shows?

    The government couldn't care less if a person complains, thats all canadians do all the time, they complain about the weather, they complain about the government. Do you think Harper is tapping the phone lines of anti abortion activists because he's said he won't reopen the file and therefore those people are now 'enemies'?

    There are obviously very real issues with surveillance and security, but there is also hyperbole and extremism. Canada has very few 'agitators', although it has MILLIONS of complainers. One of the reasons there are so few agitators is because of the issues we are talking about.

    And that has nothing to do with complacancy. There are millions of us that join Michael Geist in lobbying the government and have kept the government from introducing incredibly bad legislation like Bill C-30 which would have let them skip warrants in a bid 'to attack child pornography' where they made the infamous claim that 'if you disagree then you must support child pornography'. People didn't buy that and there were numerous lobby efforts that people took part in that got the government to back down.

    1. I've just re-read the above post. Over half of it is just a rant.

      Everybody is not a potential terrorist. I should be very suprised, for example, if our secret police are checking all domestic calls at the Irving home. I would be even more surprised if it were shown that they were h anding over the information to the NDP or to labour unions.

      Have you ever known any people who were in CSIS or other such organization? I get the impression you haven't. They have their own, strange, reasoning processes. You would be surprised at their idea of what a terrorist is.

  6. Canada's privacy commissioner has recently been reported on CBC as saying the Canadian surveillance spies have been, usually illegally ,checking the social media, and checking just about everybody.
    I shall send her your letter explaining she doesn't know what she's talking about.

  7. I read several of her reports and she says no such thing, not even remotely close. She highlights that telecom companies recieve 1.2 million 'asks' from government agencies and she wants legislation to find out how many are accepted. There is also no information on whether all those requests are for different people, and Bell, of course, says it only provides 411 information without a warrant. But even that is less than 5% of the population.

    She has singled out the case of native activist Cindy Blackstock, who had facebook information gathered and in her letter says that "it has come to my attention that an increasing number of government institutions have been gathering information from social media sites".

    That's all that has been reported. Again, thats not to minimize the issue, but thats NOT 'checking just about everybody', and we also don't know the legality of it as its public information. The expert CBC had on emphasized the police, which is probably the most problematic, but we don't yet have information on it. I read and saw several reports, NOBODY has said that the government has been doing it illegally.

    During an investigation its no surprise that police check social media, during the protest it was stated police were monitoring facebook groups, the result of which was for groups who then 'went private', which makes it harder for police as Facebook requires a subpoena just for basic information. Charles Leblanc' s blog used to be visited by the police pretty much every day and we have the evidence that before the Atlantica conference in Saint John where he was arrested just for taking pictures, the Fredericton police had been monitoring his blog and informed the Saint John police he was coming.

    As another CBC show emphasized, much of this is a result of the fact that government legislation simply hasn't caught up to technology. The PMO has been caught with their hand in the cookie jar, and it appears that canadians have been outraged enough that we are going to see some legislation, again, much in part due to lobbying. Even the guy from CD Howe laughed at Kevin O'Reilly's argument that 'they want this to catch bad guys' and 'I'm perfectly fine with the monitoring', knowing full well that his views mean the government pretty much has no desire to monitor him as he's properly goosestepping in place.

    Thats all the CBC reporting I could find on the story or on the privacy commissioners website, if you have a link of her saying that the government has been illegally checking 'just about everybody' then by all means post it.

    1. Stop playing petty word games and stop nit-picking. I read the CBC report. Yes, she put it delicately. You learn to do that with Harper.
      But she did say, quite clearly, that the domestic spy outfits in Canada were doing improper and even illegal things. That's all that matters.

      You are fond of saying that our ideas are in complete agreement. They aren't at all.

      You will forever play at disproving arguments. It's a sort of game. You appear to have no interest in principals at all.

      All you want to do is to argue - and often to argue about irrelevant points.

  8. That quote about the parliamentary vote being 'unnecessary' is straight out of Wikipedia, which has several footnotes on it, so my interpretation has at least been referenced and you don't get much more mainstream than that.

    But it WAS 'decided by parliament', but the decision was still Kings. So its kind of like the Dad who says "I'm going to Burger King for lunch, and I"m driving the car, now, you kids tell me where you want to go to lunch".

    If you skipped the textbook and actually asked a grade 8 class whether already starting the war machine, governing over a party that knows full well that the decision to go to war is up to the Prime Minister and he's already said that they are going to you go debate it. I don't know what textbooks or who your thesis advisor was, but to me thats pretty clear who actually made the call. Just like I'm under no illusions right now that its pretty obvious that Stephen Harper makes the call, no matter how much things get 'debated' in Parliament. His own party can't even get him to TALK about abortion, which is probably one of the top issues for a majority of his supporters.

    But 'technically' you can say 'parliament will decide', but when you actually look at the context then its pretty obvious about the decision. Although I'd be perfectly willing to admit that if we actually had the legislation and it WERE up to a legislative vote that the exact same thing would have been done. Most probably didn't even want to debate but knew full well what the pretense was all about.

  9. That sounds pretty relevant to me. Saying everybody is being watched all the time is a pretty HUGE argument. And one which isn't supported by your own reference. And I don't think its 'petty' at all. As for agreement, if you DO find these arguments petty, then just imagine how many arguments I'd have if I DIDN"T usually agree with you. You write pretty long blogs, if I were being petty there would be more than one or two points brought up.

    However, if you want me to stop posting, just say so. I like your blog, but there are other blogs out there. If I want to engage in petty arguments there's always the Toronto Sun news stories.

    Like I said before, if I DIDN"T agree with you then I'd be more likely to actually be reading Irvings rags. In virtually every case I've had a criticism-which is the point of having comments really-they've not been on your 'principle' but on the exageration of some ideas.

    If you want to see REAL disagreement, go check out Charles Leblanc's blog where most posts are replied with a variation of "Your a nutcase", or and idiot. THAT is disagreement. This is just arguing over details, and I guess you could say that ANY argument is just arguing over petty details. Anyway, we had the same kind of arguments about a year ago and it ended the same way, it turns out your not as thick skinned as you thought. Thats fine, because its true, that I CAN argue on and on, thats how I learn things, and thats how readers learn things. Before I started these arguments I didn't know squat about how Canada goes to war or anything about Ukraine, but through these arguments I've learned tons, which is a great thing, and the areas of disagreement you really shouldn't take personally. Anyway, I'll leave you in peace and quiet.