The Friday, Dec. 12 issue has a front page story has its idea of big news on the front page "Province's beer market continues to evolve". Yeah, I'd been wondering about that. Nice to see a newspaper that tells it like it is. It's actually a big story, if a pointless one, continued inside as one about how New Brunswick could become a "future brewtopia". Sure. The world will come rushing to our new hockey rink just to get a taste of the latest NB brew.
It's a story that's really just a free ad for the brewing industry with no research, no questioning by the reporter, just another example of New Brunswick's nose stuck in its own bellybutton.
There's another free ad, this one on p. A4 - and a part of the advertising campaign that we've seen on the editorial page, spreading the good word about fracking. "New report says fracking ban hurts economic opportunity". This one is from The Fraser Institute which "describes itself as a non-partisan Canadian think tank..." If it is non-partisan, why not just say so?
What's this "describes itself" bit? If Celine Dion came to Moncton, would they say she "describes herself" as a singer?
The truth is that The Fraser Institute is a propaganda house sponsored by the very rich to produce "studies" that will make them richer. Like the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, this is gang of propagandists all tarted up with titles as if they were respected scholars. But this one does make some amazing statements. For example, they agree that fracking poses risks to air and water quality, and could cause more greenhouse gas emissions and earthquakes. But it says those risks are manageable, and not enough studies have been done to justify a fracking ban.
Now, there's tortured reasoning if I've ever seen it. More greenhouse gas emissions and earthquakes are manageable? Oh? Tell us all about managing an earthquake. And not enough studies have been done to justify a ban? Doesn't that have it backwards? Aren't you supposed to do the studies first, then decide on what to do?
There is not a single word in this story about what The Fraser Institute or AIMS are really all about, and not a single word about any real scientist who disagrees with them. This isn't journalist. This is lying.
Norbert writes yet another column in praise of the "experts" from the Canadian Institute for Research on Public Policy and Public Administration. It still is a mystery to me why a person whose degree is in Business Administration should be an expert on shale gas. If a master's degree in business makes one an expert on shale gas, then my PhD in History should make me even more an expert on it.
Really, Norbert, MBAs are a dime a dozen. George Bush Jr., who cannot speak a coherent sentence or pronounce simple words correctly (he pronounces nuclear as now-cue-ler) got an MBA from the most prestigious university in the US - even though was an alcoholic and druggie the whole time, and didn't meet even the entrance requirements.
Norbert says the whole debate on shale gas has been muddied. Damn right it has. And it's been muddied by all the toadies in the Irving press.
NewsToday again protects New Brunswickers from learning anything about the the rest of the world - or even about Canada. However, B1 does have an important story about Ashley Smith, a mentally disturbed girl who strangled herself to death during a long period in solitary. Solitary is torture. Why are we using torture - and using it heavily - in our prison system? Why were we using torture on a mentally disturbed girl?
The short and truthful answer is that we did it because Mr. Harper doesn't give a damn - and neither do most of us. In fact, there are votes in making our prisons into hellholes that actually encourage crime and violence. It appeals to the moron vote. And that's all that counts for Mr. Harper. But the point is it's not just him. It's us.
B3 has a big story about Omar Khadr who is in a Canadian prison I know. I know. Lots of people don't like Omar Khadr, and they want him to stay in prison. That's understandable. But it's not the way a justice system works in a free country. Picture this.
A Canadian boy, Christian and perhaps a Baptist, is visiting similar friends in New York. Suddenly, a Muslim army attacks them, yelling and shooting. In his terror, the boy throws a grenade, killing a Muslim. Would you be in favour of the Muslim troops putting him in a prison camp? Torturing him? Then imprisoning him on a murder charge?
On the contrary, there would be statues to him, movies, best-seller books....even an honorary American citizenship.
Omar Khadr was a young Canadian visiting Afghanistan when the attack came. It was an illegal attack because the US never bothered to declare war, and has never given a clear reason for the war. He threw a grenade. Very sensible. That's what I'd do if a gang of killers came screaming and shooting at me.
The US put him in prison camp. It's illegal to put children in a prison camp. And it was a camp noted for the use of torture. Then he was put on trial - but not by a civil court. He was tried by a military commission - which bears no resemblance to what anyone would call a fair hearing or justice of any sort. Then they hand him over to Harper. Harper had plenty of room to treat him decently and humanely after his years of illegal and brutalizing treatment by the US. But, of course, he doesn't because his lips are glued too firmly to Obama's rear end.
The Harper government says he belongs in prison. Not according to Canadian law - or American law - or any international law. We are holding him illegally and, like him or not, we have done nothing to change his mind about the brutality of Canada and the United States.
At the top of B4, the US CIA director says that CIA officers were the first to fight and die in Afghanistan. True enough. But that has nothing to do with justifying torture. And he doesn't say why they were there. In fact, they had been in Afghanistan for years before 9/11. At first, it was to help Afghanistan push back a Russian invasion. Then they stayed on to teach Afghanis how to kill each other, and to kill anybody who didn't approve of a US presence in their country. Among other things, that was illegal under international law.
The section (mercifully) ends, but with two pages of twelve colour photos of people giving cheques or getting minor awards. Some are really ads for companies showing how socially conscious they are. But the photos are all the same - smiling people holding up pieces of paper. Who bloody cares? All of this could have been told by scrapping the photos in favour of a short, news story. These two pages are just cheap fillers to give the impression that Monctonians really care about social needs. No, they don't. If they did, they'd elect governments that would make sure that nobody would have to depend on charity for basic needs. We have many, many people in this city who live below the poverty level, and who eat below any health level. Giving them a turkey once a years and patting ourselves on the back isn't something that shows a hell of a lot of concern. And, no, I don't think Jesus gets a big kick out of this celebration of his His birthday.
For Saturday, A3 has a story about the Acadian congress that is coming to New Brunswick. What I like about the Acadian movement is that it's the only language/heritage group I know of that does not see itself as representing some group of people who are morally or otherwise superior to others. It wants to preserve a knowledge of its past and, as much as possible, fit it into the mainstream of the present. But there's no hatred, no condemning of others. And that's as it should be.
There are no people on the face of this earth who are the original settlers of the lands they live in. The British (actually, the Americans) stole the land from the Acadians who had already been taking it from the native peoples - and nations of native peoples had been stealing land from other nations of native peoples for centuries before that.
Nor were the Acadians originally from France. That land and its people are the product of years of invaders and displacements. And there are very, very few British who are the descendants of the original settlers of their island. There were kings of England who couldn't even speak English. Richard Lion Heart was one of them.
Hitler didn't invent racism. It was a standard belief at all levels of society in the western world well into the 1920s. Churchill saw the English as a superior race. He often said so - though how one could find a race developing out of that stunning mix of saxons, ancient britons, Scandinavian pirates, Italians, Celts, French is beyond me.
The racist ideologies are still with us. The recent Quebec struggle over language had strong elements of racism on both sides. So I have a strong liking for the Acadians who can respect their own origins without claiming any sort of superiority.
Norbert has a column bemoaning the failure of New Brunswick ever to elect a government that makes changes to deal with out economic and social problems. Well, Norbert, there's a reason for that. You and your newspaper have never, ever supported a party that spoke of making changes. And I guess Mr. Irving likes it that way because the fundamental change that New Brunswick needs is to get the Irvings and all their corporate friends out of our government.
Gwynne Dyer on op ed is superb on the issue of the CIA and torture. Have you noticed that no staff writer for the Irving press has had the wit or social conscience to write about this subject? - even though we've known about it for years? And nobody has mentioned Canada's role in it.
There's a baffling letter to the editor "Tragedy no reason for gun control". Yeah, And if a drunk looses control of his car and kills people, that's no reason to pick on drunk drivers. It says legal owners of guns will use them and store them safely. Really? How does he know that? I was big on guns for many years. My first one was a six barreled revolver dating to the 1840s. (I was nine when it was given to me by a neighbour who was a small time mafia hood.) At one point, I had well over twenty legal guns from .22s to a .455 Webley. I spent many hours with legal, gun nuts. And they did not store them safely or use them safely. That's why I turned mine in to the police. I don't understand why any honest citizen would see some threat in the police knowing he has a gun.
I could find no reason for anyone to read section B, NewsToday. B7 is a whole page of goofus photos, mostly of people getting awards for doing something or other. Most of them seem to be about private businesses getting awards for giving money to good causes. It would be more useful if they would do their share of paying taxes. Every charity represents a failure of our politicians and voters to carry out their first responsibilities.
The Faith Page on C8 in worse than I though it would be. We're back to "have faith in Jesus". Roughly, the idea is that so long as you believe in God and/or Jesus, you will be in heaven and all will be well. Faith is the magic cure-all.
Look. George Bush Jr. has faith. He's quite public about it. He's also a mass murderer and a torturer. But The Bible is not just about faith. It's about deeds. It's about obligations we have toward others. Why do preachers insist on giving us this pap over and over suggesting that if you have faith, you're covered?
And as I look at the list of church activities for this Christmas period, it's pretty vapid stuff. The one church that seems actually to be doing something is Vision United which is sponsoring a grief therapy group.
The page also has a big, colour photo of St. Bernard Roman Catholic Church. I have no idea why. I suppose it has something to do with filling an empty space.
And I'll disagree with Isabelle Agnew (C15) on dress codes. Isabelle, this has nothing to do with sexism or anti-feminism. It's because students in school need to learn things they obviously don't learn at home. That's why teachers don't encourage students to fart of belch in class. They don't allow people to run in a hall way.
That's why, when I was running school dances in my high school teaching days, I didn't allow drunks or kids carrying guns to come in. (Believe it or not, some parents allowed all those things.)
And students are, to say the least, permitted a wide latitude in what to wear. As a result, the girls look like hookers who work the cheaper parts of town, and the boys look like sloppy, lazy, uncaring
louts. So the school gets stuck with the job of preparing them for the real world.
This has nothing to do with ideology or social prejudice. It's about training people in the ways and expectations of the real world.