Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sept. 23: Well, what can you expect...

..... in a province in which two-thirds of the voters are functionally illiterate, and both the newspapers and the two, traditional political parties are owned by the same people?

       That premier Alward's conservatives almost won the election certainly had nothing to do with any accomplishment of his during his term. And the Liberals, who lost the last election because they were so detested, certainly had nothing exciting going for them in Gallant,  the Liberal leader, who appeared to have no leadership qualities and no platform at all.

     New Brunswick ain't going nowhere. The role of the Irving press in keeping us nowhere is illustrated by an "opinion" column in Monday's issue. Once I tore myself away from the big, front-page story "Moose hunt is tradition in province" to read Craig Babstock on A9, all was revealed. Babstock talks about the stories that attract readers - as measured by the choices of computer subscribers.

      The weather is popular. So are stories about kittens surviving a hurricane, or new restaurants in town.
Culturally, there's a keen interest in announcements musical concerts. But only if they're rock.  And, of course, any breaking news about alcoholic drinks - or sexual offences is good. He seems proudest of the big, big story he covered in which a women got into a row at restaurant and threw a glass of water at the owner. His grand conclusion is that when this woman was prosecuted, it was a victory for society.

     Babstock's column is a classic because it tells us what kind of newspaper this is. There are news media that still believe that the role of a journalist is to keep us informed, and to do so with full honesty. There aren't many, and most of the North American ones are to be found only on your computer - as in "La Presse Libre de Moncton Free Press." You can also find some ( not many) in commercial news publications in other parts or the world - "The Guardian" in Britain, "El Haaretz" in Israel....

       Then there are the scandal mags ("Camilla and Queen have hair-pulling fight", "Shocking truth - John Lennon was a woman"). What Babstock tells us in his column is that the Irving press is a little lower than the scandal mags. It's full of trivia because it's does beyond brainless trivia to include lies and propaganda.

       The Irving ombudswoman, a former editor with a high reputation among real journalists, should read Babstock's column - and wonder why she ever accepted this job.

NewsToday doesn't have any news for Monday.

Section A is mostly about the election. It also has the mandatory analysis by Donald Savoie of U de Moncton who feels that a bare majority means a weak government which will not make the tough decisions a government has to make. Fear not. It won't be making any decisions. J.D Irving and friends will. And I'm sure Dr. Savoie will agree with them.  Watch for the big news that Mr. Irving will call a provincial conference of his best friends to decide on provincial policy.  

Alan Cochrane writes an "opinion" column on the WW2 Sherman tank which stars in a new movie with Brad Pitt. This is worth reading to get a sense of battle conditions - though it has some small errors.

The Sherman was an American tank adopted by Britain and Canada because their own tanks were so awful. Though mechanically reliable, it was not really a very good tank. The armour was weak. The silhouette was  too high and, therefore, an easy target. And the gun inferior to those on German tanks. As a result, it took three to four Shermans to destroy most German tanks - and usually with a high death rate for our side.

That's why the British developed a more effective variant. Called the Firefly, it mounted the much superior British 17-pounder gun. which was delivered to Canadian troops in Italy, and for D-Day. Though still weak in armour and silhouette, it gave our soldiers, like Moncton's 8th Hussars, a far better chance of survival.

I'm not sure, but I think the tank in Victoria Park is the Firefly version.
There's an excellent letter to the editor on a topic that never made it into the Irving news. "Canada's shameful record on Ukraine".In short, it tells the story that the North American press ignored.  It was the US that started the Ukraine problem, not Russia. The US sponsored a revolt that overthrew the elected government.
And that has serious meaning for the next Canadian federal election.

Harper's foreign policy is conducted with no thought for the needs of Canada or any other country. It has everything to do with winning the next Canadian general election. He makes big speeches (but does little) to win the substantial Ukrainian vote. He does the same for Israel so he can get the support of the very wealthy Israeli Lobby to wrap up the Jewish-Canadian vote.

In other words, our next election could be decided by the concentrated vote of two groups who aren't voting for anything that has anything to do with Canada. They are, in effect, voting for two, foreign countries. And Canada may well have to pay one hell of a price for that.
NewsToday, on this day, is for people who really, really want more trivia about the NB election.

For Harper, the big news is that he's at the UN to do nothing about climate change or environmental protection.  Not mentioned is that Obama will be there to take bows for somewhat improving the American approach to climate change. But that's balanced by the fact he will not mention  that in reducing American fossil fuel emissions, Obama also increased sales of American coal to China - thus greatly increasing fossil fuel damage to the whole world.

Then there's a brief story about those terrible ISIL, ISIS, IS people who are threatening terrorist acts in Canada. Odd, that.

For the last 500 years, the western world has murdered, tortured, deliberately starved to death, and abused uncountable millions all over the world. The British killed Chinese to force them to use opium - supplied by the British. And the Chinese people had to meet a yearly sales quota. If they didn't, they had to pay the difference to the British.

They killed all over Asia, Africa, native peoples in North America. And we all sang Rule Britannia and God Save the Queen.

Then the United States enslaved Africans, attacked Canada and Mexico, invaded every country in Central America, killing, brutalizing, starving - then carrying the message of liberty to Hawaii, The Phillippines (partly with the most brutal use of torture. They're still killing and starving not to mention grossly polluting)  in Central America, in Africa, in the middle east. In fact, reliable estimates are that the US is now fighting wars in at least 120 countries, using special ops and/or drones for most of them.

And Obama, just recently, could say to a North American audience that America is known around the world for justice and liberty.

That's where ISIS and Al Quaeda come from. Indeed, such groups, having been created by western brutality and murder, have also received both money and weapons from the west and its allies. (Incidentally, our good buddies in Saudi Arabia commonly behead people for minor offences. Of course, those people aren't North Americans. So it's okay.)

Murder, torture, starvation and exploitation have created these groups. Obama's war will simply create more of them. And, well, after all that killing, some of our victims are shooting back. What arrogance! Harper's right. They're evil. Unlike us Christians.

And why did we have all these wars? Check them out. You'll find that every one of them was caused by the greed of a business class without morals, without controls but with lots of power over governments. You might raise that as a topic next time you're having the fellowship of coffee in the barn at the Irving Chapel.
There's so little in the Irving press that I thought I'd add a few things I learned by not reading North American  commercial news media.

1. Most Americans, kept in innocence they their news media, think the US spends at least a third of its foreign aid budget to alleviate poverty around the world. In fact, less that 1% to alleviate poverty. (It's .7%)
Like all foreign aid, American businesspeople get some 95% of all aid money. And that means business gets to keep all or most of it. That's why most American aid to clean up Haiti after its earthquake never arrived.

In general, the US spends more on lawn care than on foreign aid, more on candy, and more on soft drinks. Based on GDP, the US ranks 19th in the industrialized world for foreign aid.

2. The biggest recipient of US foreign aid by far is Israel.  In fact, Israel has been given so much aid that it is now one of the world's largest producers of military weapons. And it is able to sustain what may well be one of the most expensive and effective lobby groups in the USA and Canada.

3. And that connects with another story that got little reporting when it happened in 1967 - and has never been followed up.
    Israel was at war in 1967. Off its coast, and in international waters, was an American ship, USS Liberty. It was a communications (spy) ship. Suddenly, it was attacked for three hours by unmarked Israeli jets, and by Israeli torpedo boats.A lifeboat filled with sailors abandoning ship was strafed. ( That's a war crime.)  Thirty-four American sailors were killed, and 172 wounded. Survivors and their families are still asking the US for a full investigation - with no luck.

Incidentally, the ship flew an American flag for all three hours. Israel was informed it would be there - and was told many times during the attack it was an American ship.

After the first announcement, the news media said no more. Obviously, it was told to shut up.

I have long wondered why the captain of the Liberty did not request help from an American carrier that was within range. Recently, I found out. He did call for  help. Repeatedly. The carrier sent off its aircraft. Then, within minutes, they were recalled. It's not clear what the source of the recall was - but there seems a strong possibility it was president Lyndon B. Johnson. God bless America.

4. The US defence budget, long the biggest one in the world, has almost doubled since 2001. In that time, the American economy has declined with dreadful hardship being inflicted on many millions of Americans. Provision for housing, health, even for food, is out of reach - even as the very rich are making their biggest profits in history.

And the American dollar is on uncertain ground, saved only by its general use for international trade. But that general use could be broken very soon.

The result is a debased form of capitalism which has to kill and destroy in order to function. And, ultimately, it will destroy itself.

And that's what we voted for on Monday.



  1. Two thirds functionally illiterate?? Not likely. Only the readers of the Irving rags.

  2. You're right. In fact, you may be doubly right. The rate is 53%/ And you may be right about the illiteracy rate of those who buy the paper. When I was teaching in PEI, I remember that nobody with a brain ever read the Charlottetown paper

  3. Dear Graeme Decarie:

    Here, a New Brunswicker diligently studies public issues in anticipation of making an intelligent vote ...


    A Proud Socialist

  4. Amen. And its worth pointing out that the VAST majority of those who are considered functionally illiterate are those in french rural areas, who are overwhelmingly the majority of cases. So so much for that idea that its english new brunswickers getting screwed by 'official bilingualism'. And its pretty hard to get those plum bilingual jobs when you are functionally illiterate.