Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nov. 11: Avoiding the news....

Monday's edition, page A1, has a classic of model of how to tell the news without really telling anything, and putting readers to peaceful slumber at the same time. "Derailment cleanup continues at Moncton's Gordon Yard". It's a very soothing piece of writing that reports a dangerous situation without ever mentioning the dangerous part.

We had a derailment of sixteen cars. But only only six were oil cars, loaded with oil sands crude; and only one had a "minor dripping leak" which spilled 40 gallons of oil which were immediately cleaned up

In short,. nothing to see here. Keep moving, folks.

Oh, and the nearest buildings were several hundred metres away. That's nice. It must be a policy that all trains with crude oil have accidents only when far away from buildings. Anyway, there were brisk winds so that lessened the danger of fumes.

And why did the source who tells us that says that it was 40 gallons of oil? We went metric, remember?
Well, it was probably 40 gallons because the man who said that was a regional manager for public and government affairs - in other words. someone whose job is to make sure people never get the whole story. And the use of the term "40 gallons" was used probably because it sounds less than 185 litres.

We are never directly told who contracted the train. We are simply told that news of it had been e mailed to Irving Oil.

Go ---to----sleep---my---baby......z-z-z-z-z---

It's a well-written story. BrentMazerolle, as I said last time, is a good writer. But this isn't a news story. This is a typical, Irving coverup of a story.

How could a train go off the tracks in a rail yard where it is moving very slowly?  And how could that knock the wheels off it?  Were those cars, by any chance, the older and more fragile type that destroyed Lac Megantic?  Are they still in heavy use? Are they cheaper to hire than the safer cars? How many such trains go through Moncton every day? Do you ever get the impression that the maintenance of our railways (or the absence of it) is making them much more dangerous? And to you ever get the impression that the Department of Transport and the oil companies don't give a damn?

Ask questions, Brent. Do some research. Better still, get away from Irving press. You're too good to be wasted on it. As I read that "news story", I pictured you many years from now, sadly crooning to the Irvings that old, tear-jerker from the Vaudeville stage.....

You made me what I am today.
I hope you're satisfied.
You dragged and dragged me down until
The soul within me died.
You shattered every hope and dream.
You fooled me from the start.
And thought you're not through,
I still love  you.
That's the curse of an aching heart.

Oh, Dale Hobson repeats this "news story" the next day, also on A1. The headline looks more promising. But it's actually the same story, and the same slant.
A6 and 7 for Monday are two pages of commercial and political ads pretending to be remembrances. Someone should really have chat with Robert Goguen about the dreadful smirk he wears for the cameras. It seems particularly inappropriate for the sadness of Remembrance day. Ditto for Sherry Wilson.

Then there's a copy of  'In Flanders Fields". Read it. Then think. It's a fine poem. But think.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:.
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch.......

What quarrel did we have in 1914?  And at this point somebody will pound the computer and shout. "We fought for freedom."

No, we didn't. Nobody was threatening our freedom in 1914. In fact,   our allies were France and Britain, both of them the rulers of vast empires which did not allow freedom in most of them. Nor was there the slightest chance of Germany invading Britain given the dominance of the Royal Navy at the time.

US President Wilson talked a good game about fighting for freedom - though he had an empire ruled by dictators in Central America and the Caribbean.  And neither he nor his successors made the world any freer after the war.

World War Two was made necessary by World War One. And we had less choice, really, in entering In World War Two though, again, the US had no problem is staying out till very late. And we were promised, in World War Two, that the purpose was to spread freedom, human equality, and a world centre for peace and order in the UN.

But we were lied to.

Britain and France gave up their empires, but only after years of trying to suppress freedom. Meanwhile, the US took up the old game of conquest and suppression all over the world.

To say that the people of this world are more equal than they were in 1939 is utterly absurd.

And the UN was, immediately after its creation, made powerless by the big kids who either vetoed majorities, or just ignored them.

All of us kids in wartime followed the news very closely, partly because so many of us had father who were away. I was too young to remember Dunkirk, But I vividly remember the shock and horror of grown-ups at the fall of Singapore. On the day Germany surrendered, I was sent home from school for repeated lateness. I didn't know the war with Germany was over. But my mother took me to downtown Montreal where we were swept up in the mobs of rejoicers. Everywhere, I saw the wartime posters that said V..._   (The dots and the dash were morse code for V.) V for Victory. Yeah. we had won. It was delirious. Then, I saw a new poster

"We've won the war. Now we've got to win the peace." I couldn't understand it. We had won the war. We had won freedom and peace for everybody. How could you win a peace?

Not many years later, that seemed confirmed when Canadians fought to bring freedom and peace and democracy and all those good things to South Korea. We were certainly told that was what they were fighting for. And, again, our governments and journalists lied to us. When we entered South Korea, it was ruled by Syngman Rhee who was, sort of, elected by the assembly with 92% of the vote. In fact, he operated as a dictator with the support of the army. People who disagreed with him or annoyed him could expect to be tortured and/or killed. He ruled throughout the Korean War.

He was followed, after a brief interlude,  by Park Chung-Hee who was installed as dictator by a military coup. He had been a World War Two collaborator with the Japanese, and lived on as a brutal dictator until 1979. South Korea was a dictatorship when we went there, and a dictatorship when we left. So much for fighting for freedom.

And what Canada's warring in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq and, probably, Syria, has to do with peace or freedom, I cannot imagine. Yes. The ISIL gang is quite terrible. That's because of a world we created by murdering and exploiting Muslims for over a century. Whole societies fell into disorder and horror. Whole countries, like Iraq, became failed and impoverished states. Many of the victims are turning to religious extremism because that's all they have left. More killing is not going to fix anything. The wars in the Middle East are driven by  pure greed and the brutality and horror of pure greed - from our side.

We should certainly remember those who died - and those who lived, but were mentally and physically scarred. But we should certainly also remember us. We're the ones who sent them. We're the ones who so often accepted lies - and who never took the trouble to figure out the truth. We're the ones who debase remembrance with ads like the Moncton Casino's  "Free Remembrance Day Buffet."

And our government is one of many that is using this day to manipulate us -  to build a false patriotism and a fear and a delusion  which will make it easy for another generation to be sent to kill and to be killed.
Nothing much to speak of on the editorial and op ed pieces. To my surprise and delight, I found myself in agreement with Norbert's column for Nov. 11. "Lest we forget, remembrance includes confronting ourselves.  It's very well written, and very insightful. The quotation at the end is from Sun Tzu, "The Art of War". Sun was a brilliant Chinese military leader of long ago, and his "The Art of War" is standard reading for generals-to-be. It's a very short and easy read and, after all these years, still a thought-provoking one.

Alec Bruce wants Premier Gallant to hurry up and make a decision about shale gas. Not to worry. The fix is in. It was in a long time ago. Gallant will make some face-saving measure to approve shale gas. And, if New Brunswickers get mad, they'll just show him. In the next election, they'll vote for the Conservatives.

Louise Gilbert advises us to get a sense of the meaning of war by watching films (good idea) - but most of the ones she cites are American films with war heroes like John Wayne and Don Sutherland????? I've noticed the same tendency in many newspapers. I've never seen a John Wayne film that gave any sense of war. They're all the same as his cowboy flics, all about John Wayne being John Wayne. "The Dirty Dozen" with Don Sutherland is a good film - but it gives very little sense of what war is like.

Much better is "Bridge on the River Kwai" which, if not about Canadians, at least gives some sense of what Canadians captured at Hong Kong had to endure. And two excellent films about the effects of war are German. One is "All Quiet on the Western Front" - about World War One - and "Das Boot" - about U-boat service in World War Two.

And where are the Canadian films on the wars? There are lots of them, many available free on the web, from our National Film Board. For example, there's the excellent series called "The Valour and the Horror". If you look at it, you may be offending the bosses at the Canadian Legion. But that's okay. It's called freedom of speech.

And the NFB also has many, many more films about the war that the Legions bosses agree that we can look at.   Google NFB Canada At War

Generally, the Irving press scores close to a zero for telling us about the Canadian accomplishments in any war. I could read all of their pages without learning that we had a navy, and that it played a decisive role in winning World War Two. There has been nothing about our army in the last hundred days of World War One.  Our air force in both wars seems to have consisted of just a few ace fighter pilots (but not Buzz Buerling who was our leading ace in WW2). In fact, our air force, especially in World War Two, was quite large and, in both cases, suffered terrible casualties. It was also highly effective - not just for the protection offered by its fighters, but for the formidable performance of its Lancaster bombers. Some of the specialized Lancs carried a heavier bombload than the much-touted US Superfortress. (We also had a fighter ace in Korea).

For Nov 10, a full page (one-quarter of the NewsToday) is photos of dogs. I have no idea why.

Nov. 11 NewsToday has two items worth reading. Remember how I started this with Brent Mazerolle's "news" story on the rail accident in Moncton?  Now read NewsToday, page 1, for Nov. 11. "Tories cut transport safety spending". That includes both rail and air safety. The federal Conservatives say that safety is well looked after - but they won't tell anybody where the cuts are. Perhaps we should contact that Irving spokesman to get a fuller understanding.

On B2, "Aboriginal Affairs - short of cash for education, social problems - document",  Harper's boys and girls insist everything in Aboriginal Affairs is going great. But they won't give any information.

Hint - unlike most of our politicians and newspapers, we should start with human needs, and work from there to a budget - not the other way around.


On Sunday, I expect our churches bombarded heaven with prayers in remembrance of Canadians who sufffered and died in war - as they should have.

But were there prayers for the other sides? (And before anybody jumps in to say that the other side was evil, millions of those killed or crippled and mentally shattered were innocent, and many of those millions were children, even babies, in Germany, Italy, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Latin America.. As well, millions of those "evil ones" who died were Christians. So I wonder where the "right to life" crowd are on this day when we know that millions of unborn were killed in our wars - and, in Vietnam, are still being born but just for a little while because they have no mouths and no ears and only one eye for the centre of a forehead. That's a gift from the tons of Agent Orange dumped on that country. How come I never saw any placarding right to life Christians when I passed the hospital today?

Well, the important thing,  I'm sure, is that going to church to remember our dead was a gratifylingly self-righteous thing to do.

What the hell. Kill them, as US leaders said of the Vietnamese. And let God sort them out.

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