Friday, May 2, 2014

May 2: glimpses of responsible journalism...

The front page actually has two stories that seem to belong there.

The first one is about, I think, a much more serious problem than the story suggests. The wife of the president of U de Moncton was given a $200,000 contract to redecorate their house. The president says it wasn't him who did it; it was the Board of Governors. Yeah. I'm sure he protested, but they muscled him aside. Tough gangs these boards of governors.

By the way, who sits on a board of governors and who dominates it? Usually, it's businessmen.

Then he says the board did it because it noticed that many presidents received a housing allowance. Yes, many do. That's because many universities have bought into the private business practice of offering absurdly high rewards  to  CEOs - which is what a president is.

Some years ago, I was offered the presidency of a university. I was stunned at the "generosity" of it. If I had been fired on the first day for coming in drunk and naked, it would still have a severance package to live well on for the rest of my life. (And there was no housing allowance. U de Moncton was certainly under no pressure to supply one - and certainly none to supply such a generous one.)

The is particularly disturbing coming from the U de Moncton.  Now, to the best of my knowledge, U de Moncton is a good school, and deserves support. I like the atmosphere in it. The few professors I've met seem solid stuff. But I can't help notice that the university has several people whose major work seems to be kissing up to the wealthy of the province and to those servants of the wealthy that we call a government.

Professor Lapierre springs to mind. And have you ever heard Donald Savoie utter a criticism of big business? In fact, he has recently written a biography of a very wealthy man who is just a wunnerful, wunnerful person, and who learned all his wunnerfulness from K.C Irving.

It doesn't take many professors and administrators like that to give a university an unfortunate reputation. And it is happening now in just about every university that the presidents and upper level administrators take their orders from big business represented by boards of governors that know nothing about education or universities - except how to use them to their own benefit.

The first page also has an excellent story on the need to do more research before extracting shale gas. This comes one the basis of a recent report by Environment Canada. Both sides of reaction to the study are presented with no evident bias.

I"m still a little suspicious that this, like a couple of earlier reports, is part of a "soft sell"  campaign for shale gas. But I certainly don't know that it is. And I can see no reason to criticize this story. It's well done.


In news today, Mr. Alward says French immersion, especially early immersion, needs more study. In my first year of teaching, back when dinosaurs were still a traffic problem, I would have agreed with him. But the world has moved on, and the only dinosaur left is Mr. Alward.

Mr. Alward, how do you think you learned to speak English? Was it just in your genes? Were you born an anglophone? Was it just pure luck that your parents could understand you because they had English in their genes, too?

Look. All us anglos learned to speak English by early immersion. Right from birth, our parents spoke to us in English. That's why we learned English so painlessly and naturally. So why do you use an argument which suggests that we should not be permitted to speak at all until grade three?

Of course, early immersion is better. That's why so many francophones in New Brunswick speak excellent English, and so many anglos can only, at best, struggle with French.  Francophones grow up surrounded by English.  The get early immersion in English simply because of the nature of the province..

There's even another important story on P. C1, this one about Harper's electoral reform bill. Though Canadians are paying little attention to this bill, the intent of it is obvious - to ensure that no party in this country will ever again win an election without massive support from the wealthy. We will, in short, become like the US. (More on this further down.) This is an important story, almost as important as the photo on the same page of a girl paddling a kayak in Florida.

Your Business, as always, has no significant news about any business.

C3 has a lead story about how the NB government is going to promote cross-border tourism. It will, it says, create a brand, new market. Apparently, the government is unaware that the US is in severe recession with millions not knowing where their next meal is coming from, let alone planning how to take a family on a holiday on the minimum wage of ten dollars an hour.

The story from the Ukraine is on C4. It's not a terrible job. It's just that is gives us a lot of bits of information without giving us any understanding of what is going on. The clue to why it offers no understanding can be found in paragraph 2, line 17. The former president,  its says, "...who was ousted...."

Nice word, ousted. It could mean anything. It could mean he was hauled into a back lane by foreign agents who beheaded him. Or it could mean he lost an election. Or it could mean his own party forced him to resign. Why choose such a vague word as 'ousted'? The western press has consistently done that. Why?

Because they don't want to admit the reality. He was elected in a democratic election. His government was overthrown by street mobs so big and sustained, it had to have been supported by considerable organization, training and spending.

That's the beginning of story, the beginning that the western news media refuse to talk about.

Leaders of the mob then appointed their own government. That's two, illegal acts - overthrowing a legally elected government, and then appointing an unelected government.

What's equally interesting is that the European Union and the US IMMEDIATELY recognized this illegal  government. Obviously, they didn't need to wait to understand what was going on. They already knew, and they recognized this  as a legal, constitutional government.

That's why the western news media never use the correct word to describe what happened. The government was not simply 'ousted' or 'replaced'. There was a coup. a violent and illegal act.

(Was the president corrupt? Who knows? We hear it. But we get no evidence. And if that gives adequate reason to take up arms and overthrow the government, why not start with our legion of corrupts who became wealthy in politics - Tony Blair and George Bush Jr. come to mind - so does George Bush Sr. if you look at his employment record. I have noticed that even in New Brunswick, some former leaders become very wealthy indeed after their political service.)

Look, let's get a clear and simple look at what's going on. It's not complicated.

1. US business leaders have decided the US should conquer the world. It's not a secret. They have published it on the web years ago. They call it The Project for the New American Century. The project has its Canadian admirers, one of whom is almost certainly Stephen Harper. Canadian and European big business is hanging onto the coattails of American big business, hoping to share in the goodies.

2. This is not a criticism of the American people. They are not the ones leading the push for domination. Nor is there the slightest chance they will get any benefit from it. Neither will the Canadian people. If big business triumphs, it will be as happy to starve, beat and murder us as it has long been to starve, beat and murder Guatemalans, Haitians, Congolese - anybody.

A war against Russia is a war against us.

3. Nor is their any reason to see Putin as our hero, Like Obama, he represents the economic upper 1 % of his country. Russia, after all, has the same economic system as the US.

4. If Russia's 1% is defeated, then the next war will be against China's 1%.  Then there will be a series of wars between the surviving 1%s.

What it's all about is greed, pure greed, nothing else. And if it continues, we can expect to be abused and impoverished as much any other country touched by that greed.

That's what's happening. And the role of most of the media is to hide the reality and to make us hate - to hate Moslems, to hate Russians, to hate Chinese - whoever.

Walking on a treadmill today (lord, it was boring), I watched a TV interview with Obama on CTV. It was followed by a CTV analyst who either had no idea what he was talking about or was a willing assassin of the truth. Essentially, he supported Obama's line of pure propaganda. He even missed an Obama statement that was perhaps the most bizarre ever to come from the mouth of an American president. He said this modern world cannot afford countries that invade others. ????? How could any American president say that with a straight face. How could even a half-wit commentator miss it?

We live in a world in which greed rules. Big business operates with no morality whatever. As a result,billions suffer and die. If it gets its way, we'll have the same fate as everybody else it has abused. And greed breeds stupidity. That's why big business, if allowed to, will destroy itself as well as us.

That's why I get impatient with the churches' insipid moralizing which is always designed not to offend anybody of power.
The editorial criticizes the wild mob at the annual Pollet River Run, a mob that instead of cleaning up litter filled the river with broken bottles and garbage of every sort. That's reasonable enough. But it should go further.

Behaviour like that is one sign of the breakdown of a society. It is quite possible that those louts are what we are becoming.

Norbert has a very fair column about Rob Ford. It's sympathetic, and it's generous. On balance, I prefer that to the feeding frenzy that most of the press has made of him. This is a serious case. It involves a high level of government. It involves, whatever you think of him, a human. Norbert treats him as most of the press has not - with honesty and compassion.

I have less admiration for Alex Bruce's column. It wants shale gas, and wants it - NOW. There are risks, but sometimes ya gotta take risks.

Mr. Bruce.we don't yet even know what the risks are. And  you want to plunge ahead?

And have you never learned that there are some things you just cannot have?

Then he accuses those opposed to shale gas as being 'aesthetes'  "...who have an exasperating tendency to despise fossil fuel and wind power in equal measure." I have met people who opposed windpower on aesthetic grounds - but not many. And I have never seen any congruence with them and those opposed to shale gas.

Norbert had a really good day. But Alec Bruce's column comes close to making up for that.

The last paragraph comes close to being both brainless and loutish. "Say what you like about (Texas) that red-necked, killer-executing home of George 'Whacko' Bush. At least, they do things big."  That's a quotation that will probably go down big with the Pollet River Run gang.

The column by Cole Hobson fearlessly attacks one of the great questions of our time. Should we have wi-fi in national parks? My own feeling is that we shouldn't. And that everyone entering a park should do so in a state of nature, stark naked. And any who get sexually aroused by that should be cast out. Forthwith.

There's also a guest column about disposing of used batteries. It has some useful information. But surely, that's a news story, not an opinion column. A page editor should know the difference.

There's a good letter to the editor "Biggest discoveries get toughest testing". I'd like to see more from the writer. But he's going to have to learn how to write for a general audience. This one will be incomprehensible to almost all readers, including ol' BA me.


  1. The Irving rags love scandals that involve those on the public dole, or quasi public dole like universities. So the fact it is front page is actually pretty symptomatic of what is wrong with it, not what is right.

    I hate to say it,because I can see your point of view, but the fact of the matter is that this IS a 'non story'. You admit it yourself. ALL universities do it, so the fact that it is done in New Brunswick isn't really 'news'. Guess what, I hear that politicians get paid almost 100 grand a year! Scandalous! And in New Brunswick of all places! Yeah, but ALL provinces pay that, so its not really news.

    And I've got more news for you, its not 'a few people like that who give a school a bad reputation'-nowadays its actually desirable to have MORE people like that to enhance your reputation. Go look at their year end report, they call people 'officers' who give money, and about three pages of the report is lists of those donating money. There's a reason there are three KC Irving statues in the province.

    I tried to find who was on the board, but could only find a report of five new additions-but NONE were actually business people. I think the past chairman and new chairman are though.

    As for corruption in the ukaine, thats something that needs more analysis. Non elected governments HAVE been recognized when overthrowing governments for corruption during the arab spring. It depends what the level of corruption is, but I agree that there is almost no discussion of that right now.

  2. getting recognized as a government after overthrowing an elected one is a matter of convenience - and corruption has little to do with it.

    Afghanistan is phenomenally corrupt - and was created by the US to be corrupt. The corruption will go on, and become a mainstay of US influence in that country.

    For that matter, there must be few countries that come close to the US in corruption. Billions were spent supposedly to rebuilt Iraq. But almost no rebuilding was done - and it still doesn't have full day electricity. the money almost all went into the pockets of private contractors That sort of thing went on all through the war.

    The US never fulfilled it's promises for aid to Haiti after the earth quake. Again, most of the money went to private contractors with political friends. And thousands of Cubans still live under canvas sheets. Many, many more still have no plumbing, and never will have.

    Non elected governments have been recognized for over throwing corrupt elected government, as you say. But the corruption charge is a pretext for recognition. The major countries don't care if any government is corrupt - they care only if a government is disobedient. That's why Ghadaffi was killed.