Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dec. 11: Back to bland.

A3 of the Wednesday paper tells us the price of gas is still falling. But we already know that. Would it be too much to expect a newspaper to find out WHY it's falling? These things rarely happen simply by market forces. There's a game being played here. If there's nobody at Irving press capable of figuring what this is all about, can't they at least buy a story on if from a reputable source?

There's another story on the same topic on A6. It takes 31 paragraphs to say close to nothing and, in the best TandT style, the reporter doesn't ask any question. He just scribbles whatever his sources tell  him.

The editorial is pretty much the usual one - city council and its budget. The editorial writer is obviously a highly specialized person.

Norbert has his usual, confused column today. Again, he quotes Richard Saillant and his article on shale gas, mostly with a pointless story about kerosene in New Brunswick. (Norbert seems to think it  has a deep meaning.)

Norbert - you are presenting him as an expert in a question of science. In fact, if you checked his record, even you would surely notice he is no such thing. His academic credentials in science are zero. He has spent most of this life, including the university part, as an administrator. And even if we forget the science part, his academic credentials are very ordinary, indeed.

Then you treat his collaborator, David Campbell, as if he were a great,  scientific mind, too. In fact, he runs a consulting firm for business. And he's a man of questionable judgement. He admires, for example. "think tanks" like "Atlantic Institute for Market Studies"  and "Fraser Institute". In reality, these are propaganda fronts for the billionaires who finance them.

When people like that run something called Canadian Institute for Public  Policy and Public Administration, you can bet this is a propaganda scam . It's really a continuation of the advertising campaign that our shale gas industry pulled out of some weeks ago.

This is pure propaganda, Norbert. Even you must have figured that out. It's disgraceful that a newspaper should be so obviously in the propaganda business - and I really wonder about the judgement of a university leadership that would allow its name to be used in connection with this.  Of course, such decisions are made by a board of governors which is commonly stacked with toadies for big business.

Here's a hint, Norbert.   Saillant was a management person at the university - and that pays well. Who pays him now as director of CIPPPA? And David Campbell is a professional business consultant. Who's paying him? Be a mensch, Norbert. learn to ask questions.

Alec Bruce goes off into his own fairy land. He says that Harper is lagging terribly on climate change action. So it is.  Bruce's suggestion? Use the oil industry to provide the energy that will make really green energy possible. Uh - duh-h....

Alec, the oil industry uses us; it doesn't get used by us. The big names in the oil industry have become obscenely wealthy - out of oil. They aren't going to lead any movement that would kill their own profits. Hint - they have already led, for years, an expensive campaign to spread propaganda that climate change isn't happening. And they're leading one now to increase the use of oil and gas.  Get real.

Eric Lewis and Brian Cormier present columns so trivial that no respectable editor would ever publish them.
Section B1 also carries a news story about shale gas. What a coincidence! Again, the reporter mindlessly copies what the "think-tanks" tell him to say. He calls the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies and the Fraser Institute  "independent public policy groups". Yeah. Real independent. The billionaires who finance them let them say whatever they like.

This whole story, like most of the editorial page, is propaganda for shale gas.

B2 has a story that the first wreckage of the passenger plane shot down over Ukraine five months ago has been delivered to The Netherlands for the scientific inspection that is intended to determine how it was shot down and by whom. And it will be months before the inspection can even begin.

Why are they wasting all this time and money? We already know. Obama announced the day after it was shot down that it was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile manned by Russian-speaking Ukrainian rebels. Obviously, Obama is a man who can see around corners. Take advantage of that gift.

And, oh yes, on B5,  the UN is counting on Canada to help resettle the almost four million refugees from the war in Syria, a great many of them children and living and dying in starvation..  Good luck to them. Harper has stepped up to the plate to say our government will accept 200. 200 out of almost 4 million. Of course, it won't happen right away. So far, 163 have been approved. The rest, if we follow our usual pattern, will have to wait, under guard, in prison cells.

God bless you, Mr. Harper.

I don't understand the delays and the obvious reluctance. Canada had thousands of Syrian immigrants in the 1920s and 30s. I went to school and played with many of them. And they turned out pretty well. (The father of one of the boys became the founder of the Dollar Store.)
The A section for Dec. 11 is the usual collection of trivia. On B4, "Roofwork continues at Riverview school".  Do you care?

The editorial is about some item on our city council budget - again.

And Norbert? More fracking propaganda. He says those who assume he is writing favourably about fracking to boost it are wrong. Come off it, Norbert. You've never said a word against fracking. Never. And you never will. And we all know why.

He refers to the Canadian Institute for Research on Public Policy and Public Administration without a word  on what a crock this organization is. He says it presents"reliable facts" by a "different expert" in each chapter.

First, Norbert, the word 'fact' should be used with care. For centuries it was an official "fact" that the sun went around the earth. It was a "fact" until the 1920s (and still is to many people today) that people can be typecast by something called race. It was a "fact" until very recently that women were inferior to men. (It still is a fact to many men.)  Expert opinions almost never are based only on facts. They're also based on assumptions, speculations, prejudices, old ideas.... Anybody (naming no names) who says that any argument is based on pure facts doesn't know what he's talking about.

Then he says the institute's book was written by experts. Norbert, a person who has an MBA in business is not an expert by virtue of that degree. And he is certainly not an expert in science - which is what is at the heart of this discussion. Nor is a business consultant normally an expert on anything except how to help a business with propaganda. None of the authors I've checked on has the credentials to be considered an expert in the subject of this book. Nor can their words be based on "fact" when nobody in the whole world knows fully about the facts in this case.

Norbert's last, seven paragraphs make no sense at all except as a soft sell for using more fossil fuels. He says we need fossil fuels as a bridge to the development of safer forms of energy. Norbert, you twit - as the bridge to what? The Canadian government and the oil industry have shown no interest whatever in developing alternative sources of energy. Why would they? Oil is what they make their money on. They are the ones who routinely sign trade deals that wipe out any possibility of environmental controls. So does the mining industry. Ask your buddies at Barrick Gold or any other Canadian mining company.

On a related note, right now, Monsanto is suing the state of Vermont because it wants to demand labels on food grown with Monsanto chemicals to show what is in the food. And Monsanto may well win because it can make even defending such a lawsuit hopelessly expensive for a small state. (Your paper has not bothered to mention the story.)

Norbert, you are writing on a subject of which you are ignorant. You are also ignorant of the meaning of words like expert and fact. I call you ignorant as a compliment because if your aren't ignorant, then you are simply a cheap flack for a propaganda scam.

Alec Bruce has a good column on early childhood education. But it won't get read by many because it's a hard read. Part of the problem is that is based heavily on Jean-Jaques Rousseau, and his book, Emile. I would guess that few readers are familiar with either; and the heavy prose is no help. Too bad. This is a good article; but it needs simpler language, and more of a relationship to New Brunswick today.

Rod Allen, again, looks in a mirror, and finds it a delightful experience.

Jody Dallaire has a column that shook me. It's a good column but, oh, it was dismaying to look at the economic world our children and grandchildren will be facing - and how little we are doing about it.
News today doesn't really have any unless you really, really care that McDonald's is going to fiddle with its menu.

There are seven photos of people holding up cheques (the ones that are the size of billboards) for various causes. Some are volunteers, and all thanks to them for our efforts. Some are companies - and that is just advertising. It would be more help if they paid higher taxes, and maybe cut the bonuses for people who already get millions a year.

But there's a bigger question here. How can we tolerate a society that makes it necessary to rely on volunteers for providing basic necessities to its members. We certainly thank the volunteers. But volunteers can never meet the year round need. So how come we can spare millions and even billions for corporation biggies? And how can we allow their incomes to steadily go up while most others have incomes that go down?
The Thursday paper has no comment on the CIA torture scandal, no comment on a possible Canadian connection, no comment on the implications. no nothing. I didn't expect it would.

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