Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dec. 13: General stuff to catch up on.

I started this on the evening of Dec. 12 because there was so much stuff that needed the commentary we aren't likely to see in Irving press. Tomorrow (Sunday) I'll write the one I would normally have done for today.

1. The Irving press and shale gas. Take a close look at their news stories about shale gas - and their columns about it. What's happening here is a scandal.

If you follow any major advertising campaign, it constantly reinforces the points (usually just two or three points and usually very subtle ones) that sell the product it's shilling for. Take a look at shale gas comment by the columnists columns and in news stories lately lately. They all have much the same message. And that's not a coincidence.

The basic message is what is called a soft sell - the shale gas industry is, just like you, concerned about climate change and the environment And, oh, they recognize they have to deal with it. (Makes me feel warn all over). But - it will take some form of energy to develop replacements for fossil fuels That's why we have to keep developing a healthy fossil fuels industry. It's not to make money for billionaires.  Goodness, no. It's because billionaires care about the environment and climate change.  They really do. But we have to keep developing fossil fuels so we can some day stop climate change.

See? Nothing direct there. No attack on environmentalists. Just nice, soft, and deceptive message that shale gas is really good for you, and your friends in the industry are just doing their bit to save the environment.

That's a pretty subtle message - and I wonder who dreamed it up. It wasn't Norbert - though he has this message in his column. No this is a campaign being directed by a more subtle mind. My guess would be this is all coming from The Canadian Institute for Research on Public Policy and Public Administration and what Norman calls their "experts". It's pretty slick.

A business consultant of no particular qualifications sets up a propaganda front, and calls it an Institute. (There's a trail of money there - lots of it.)  And big money puts muscle on a university to play host to this con game.

What we're watching is a very skillful campaign of  advertising and propaganda. To play along with it is either unethical journalism or ignorant journalism. My money is on unethical. And, yes, to say that is to suggest that the whole editorial staff and the ownership are complicit.

The reality is that we need action on climate change - yesterday. To invest in further oil and gas development (like pipelines and shale gas) is to guarantee that the threat to our climate - and ourselves - will continue to grow for many years to come. So far, our governments (and the big money behind them) have shown no interest whatever in what happens to the environment and to us.

In fairness, it's not just greed that drives them.  It's also stupidity. Greed does that to people.

2. The tone in North American newspapers is that Obama has succeeded in isolating Russia by getting tough over the issue of Ukraine. Of course, it's easy to get away with that line when much of the real news is suppressed.

Yes, of course sanctions have hurt Russia. They hurt tiny and vulnerable Cuba, too. But Cuba has survived sixty years of American sanctions. Some strategy that is. The sanctions on Russia are even a worse strategy because Russia is a major trading partner to the European nations. Already battered by the recession, the Europeans expect even tougher times as the American sanctions on Russia take hold. Western Europe, a collection of dead imperial powers, rides on American coattails because it has to. But that can change very rapidly as they increasingly have to become toadies while at the same time being made poorer by it.

France and Britain and Germany will hold on because they aren't feeling the full pinch of toadyism yet. But there are plenty of signs of social breakdown in other countries - and possibly also in Germany. Hitching rides on American coattails has a high price.

For an example of a country that is tossing off US control, Turkey (a member of NATO) has just signed a huge agreement with Russia to make Turkey a depot for Russian oil bound for Europe. Turkey knows very well that the US does not want this, that it contradicts US policy. But Turkey has done it.

Russia also, and very recently, signed massive oil deals with China and India. In other words, Putin used the widespread dislike and fear of the US to shape alliances with the two, developing economies that are likely to dominate the world in the new future.

The US is almost universally hated in Latin America because of its interference,  threats, murders, destablizations, etc. that our news media almost never report. There was a time, not all that long ago, when no nation in Latin America would have taken a stand against the US. Latin America was the core of the American empire. But those days are gone

Nor can the US be said to be loved in most of Africa or most of the Muslim world.

And Obama says that Russia is isolated? The reality is that we are seeing a reshaping of the world. And the most isolated of the major powers in this reshaping is the United States. Turkey, Russia, China, India, much of Latin America are not isolated - and they are  far the majority of this world.

3. The Senate report on CIA torture is one hell of a serious matter. And Canada is up to its ears in it - and so are several dozen countries in the American entourage - Britain, South Africa, Poland.....

This is death sentence stuff. We have hanged people for this - most recently, Saddam Hussein. And it's really cut and dried. The law and the UN convention of 1984 are clear on this. Torture and murder are illegal. It doesn't matter what the reason is. They're illegal. The heads of the CIA are criminals as much as were any of the Nazis that we hanged. Bush is a criminal. So is Obama. So is Cheney. So, almost certainly, is Harper; and, most certainly, so is Tony Blair.

Our side is guilty of the crimes we have self-righteously hanged others for. And this only skims the surface of a rot that runs very deep.

So what will be done about it? Nothing much. A few small players might face the courts, and get minor sentences. But that will be it. The new, Republican Congress will guarantee that, right from the moment of their inauguration when some hypocrite clergyman will bless them, and they'll all clap hands for Jesus.

And the North American news media will never mention it again. Heck, such torture has been going on for over a century in the US military (and the French and the British and the Dutch and the Spanish) and in the US prison system without ever being mentioned. Nor will there be any public outcry here in Canada. After all, the victims of our behaviour, for the most part, are neither white nor Christian.

We are involved in all the murder and torture exploitation and aggression that - every Nov. 11 - we say Canadian soldiers, sailors and airmen died to prevent. And we will all reassure ourselves of how patriotic we are.

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