Monday, December 29, 2014

Dec. 30: A reality check

I was in my apartment building's laundry room yesterday. Time passes slowly down there. So I wandered over to a stack of Maclean's magazines.  MacLean's was never a really good magazine; but it was, once, respectable in a world of mediocre news magazines.  But now, I was astonished by the obvious propaganda and outright lying.

The cover story on the first one was about how evil Putin is, and how he invaded Ukraine. Yes, I know the Irving press says the same things. But there was a time when the Irving press was publicly denounced as dishonest by real journalists across Canada. Today, it's no better; but news media across North America are so bad that the Irving papers look (almost) honest.

Maybe Putin is evil. I don't know. I do know, though, that he is not the one who started the Ukraine mess. A woman at a high level in the White House testified to a congressional committee that she was the one directed to fund the rebellion that overthrew the elected government - and her boss was Obama.

We also know now - through the White House - that George Bush, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair, and then Obama, were responsible for the largely illegal use of torture (and murder) for the past 14 years.  That, certainly, is pretty evil. It's also contrary to American law and to international law. So where are the charges? Where are the arrests?

But none of that is going to happen. We know that. We self-righteously hanged Naziis and Saddam Hussein for the same thing. And the US leads the world in prison population. But our politicians are protected. It's reminiscent of Brian Mulroney who got caught accepting massive bribes when he was PM. He also violated the law by not reporting it to Revenue Canada. You  try that, and see what happens. But Harper, our tough on crime PM, let him off with just paying the tax. So Brian and Mila still live in their huge, stone mansion in Westmount and are still welcome among the "better sort" of people.

So I looked at MacLean's, then at the Moncton Times and Transcript, and I thought.What the hell are our university departments of journalism teaching? In the period when I taught some journalism courses, we were expected to teach ethics, honesty in reporting, proper research, to avoid propaganda....  If journalism departments in New Brunswick have any ethics at all, I wonder why it doesn't show in their graduates. This isn't sarcasm. This is a serious question.

For Dec. 30, Section A has not a thing worth reading. A3, for example, has a big story of one-liners about important events of 2015 - like "March 4: NB Liquor's new CEO, Brian Harriman, has big plans." 

The editorialist writes an angry one about the moratorium on shale gas, telling us it's all perfectly safe. What a dishonest twit! Obviously, he has never heard about New York's ban on shale gas - or about the  research on it - research that was known long ago, but ignored by most North American newspapers. Well, actually, of course he has heard about it. But it has never appeared in his paper, and never shall. The editorial is not ignorant.  It's worse. It's lying.

Norbert has nothing to say. But he says it, anyway.

Alec Bruce (courageously, in his view) supports the civic centre project. He also defends himself against claims that he has sold himself to corporate demons who just want a publicly funded hockey rink. Well, Mr Bruce, I think you are one of the few intelligent and capable columnists in that paper. But I cannot recall a single occasion on which you criticized anything that an Irving did or wanted. I don't condemn you for that. I've had experience of being in the same position. My first radio job was at CBC Montreal. It lasted 12 years. Then they fired me for becoming too prominent (not on air but in public life) in a cause that the CBC bosses didn't want to touch - anglo rights in Quebec. 

Before a city spends a hundred million (and much more) for a hockey rink, we should be discussing a list of city  priorities We desperately need radical city planning. We need a transportation system to match that planning. We need to look at the future in terms of where the national economy is going. And where the climate is going. Both are likely to have a crashing effect not long after the "events centre" opens.

What is the future likely to be?  What are our plans for dealing with it? These are the things to be decided BEFORE we jump into an added debt of a hundred million or more.  Meanwhile, if an Irving really wants a hockey rink and really thinks it's going to turn a profit, let him build it with his own money. This province already gives far too much to the rich, and far too little to everybody else.

Craig Babstock has the usual end-of-year story about how good volunteers are to people who need food, a place to live.... The volunteers are good. But think, Mr. Babcock. There is something desperately wrong with a society in which the hungry and the homeless have to rely on volunteers while the rich get government help to buy forests at bargain basement prices, and some of the lowest tax rates in the developed world.

There seems to be no more word about Harper's bizarre plan to spend fifteen million dollars on a memorial to people killed by communists. His reference seems to be largely Stalin and Mao because they killed so many. Uh, well, Chiang Kai-Shek murdered people on the same scale as Stalin and Mao.So shouldn't his killings be included?

Oh. I forgot. Chiang was a capitalist.

Foreign news? That's section B and, oh, it's sloppy. B1 has a story about how the war in Afghanistan is now over. Well, that's what the headline says. But the US will keep 12,000 troops there, and keep sending money and equipment. And the fighting is still going on. Boy! Talk about ending a war!

B1 also has a story about how wars made 2014 a hard year to be a kid. Curiously, most of the examples given refer to the brutalities of people "on the other side", the only exception being a brief reference to Israel. The whole story is really just mindless bunk. Millions of children have been starved, murdered, had their childhood destroyed just about every year since 1939. It's also bunk that most countries historically have tried not to kill civilians and children. The reality is that children and civilians have always been targets and victims in war. In World War Two, Nazi troops made a practice of killing the innocent from the start. And Britain and the US and Canada soon followed suit. Since then, the big killer of civilians and children has been the US with the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Libya, Syria (with "rebels" financed by the US), Guatemala..and all those drones that we never read about.

On B3, the big story is "North Korea calls Obama a monkey." US news media are calling this a racist comment. It probably isn't. It is in the racist US (most of the country) where monkey is used to refer to blacks. But I doubt whether the word carries that meaning in the Koreas.

Anyway, that's no big story. The big story is that experts feel that North Korea did not hack into Sony Pictures, that it was an inside job. And I have suspected that from the start. The big winner is Sony, which found a way to make big money out of a very bad film.

By the way, I wonder how the US news media would react if North Korea made a film comedy based on the assassination of an American president.

Here's a story about the Sony Pictures foofaraw. It's from a Russian source; but I've found it a good deal more reliable than the Irving press.  Hell, Mao's New China News Agency was better than the Irving press.

Oh, there's also a big story about a man from St. John, New Brunswick, who got named to the Order of Canada. But, if I recall correctly, they already ran that story several days ago.

There is no mention of the reports from the US government that the economy is recovering, and the unemployment rate is way down to something like 5%. Funny the Irving press hasn't run that story.  It usually likes to lie. 

Some 38 million Americans are living on food stamps - and not everybody , by a long shot, who is unemployed gets food stamps. It is not possible to have over ten percent of a population on food stamps when the unemployment rate is five percent.  As well, those who do find employment are getting paid less for it. (Unless their employment is as a CEO of an  oil company.) What really happens is that millions give up looking for jobs because there are none. Then, technically, they aren't employed any more because they've stopped looking.

The US and Canadian rich are seeing good times. But ordinary folks aren't, and won't.

Section B is just a sloppy and lazy news section when the major developments should be quite obvious. World Wars one and two destroyed the west European empires. The US, already with its own empire in Latin America and bits of the Pacific region, immediately took advantage of the fall of European power by trying to take over the old empires. That's what Vietnam was about. Ditto Iraq, Libya, Syria, Africa in general.

But the great setback was Mao's victory in China. That displaced Chiang Kai-Shek who had been the American puppet dictator (and mass-murderer) Much the same happened with Iran when it kicked out a British/American imposed dictator.

But the lust of American big business for empire (and control of world trade) persisted, producing "The New American Century" project of the 1990s to nail down world dominance. That's what George Bush jr. and his wars were about.

"The New American Century" still is the guide for American foreign policy. But now it's a race against time. The American economy is in bad shape. The national debt is unpayable. Ordinary Americans have not benefited from the American empire. (In fact, the ordinary people of Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands never got much out of their empires, either, as most of the gains went to the rich. It's an old story.) The result is that American society, itself, is becoming unravelled, and held together only by the lies and propaganda of the news media.

That means the US has to move quickly to destroy Russia - so it can isolate China until it is ready to attack it, too.

However, China and Russia (by no means natural friends) are coming together in their own economic and military union. They are also establishing themselves in the core of the American empire, Latin America - which has had quite enough of exploitation by American and Canadian business.

There is also unease in Europe that any attack on Russia would create enormous damage and suffering in Europe itself. They have tried since 1945 to ride on American coattails - but the price for the ride is beginning to look too high.  Recently, Hungary decided to move itself closer to Russia.

In short, American foreign policy, like American domestic policy, is based on the insatiable, even insane, greed of the very rich. So far, it has been possible for propaganda and fear, carried out by the news media, to keep ordinary Americans in line with the ambitions of the very rich - and even to share in the insanity of it. 
But that won't last much longer in a nation wracked by racial and economic divisions, and by a tradition of violence.

If the crazies are going to win, they have to move very, very quickly. And they still won't win because their own greed will destroy them just as it has destroyed so many others.

But you would never guess any of this from a reading of the Irving press.

Oh my! It's late. It so late that this blog I began on December 29 is actually ending on Dec. 30. And I had planned a blog on the papers for both Dec. 29 and 30. But us old folks need our sleep. And this one is too long, already. I'll write another one tomorrow.


  1. Hello Graeme and Happy New Year from Montreal: I enjoy reading your posts and want to ask where you go for news. I often read or listen to Al-Jazeera, read Alternet, at times the CBC, sometimes Mother Jones. For Canadian news, do you have a preferred go-to spot on the web you like to peruse?
    All the best,

  2. I would not trust any major newspaper in North America. That includes The New York Times.

    For TV and radio news, CBC is still the best in North America, though it has been severely crippled by the federal government. But it holds its lead because the others are so bloody awful.

    The Guardian (Britain) is still far the best newspaper in the English language. El Haaretz is certainly very, very good..

    On the web, information clearing house can be excellent. You have to be a little bit careful because it can be biased - though never so biased as most other sources are.

    For Canadian commentary, try It has superb commentaries. I particularly like Karl Nerenberg who used to be Ottawa desk man for the CBC.

    Avoid BBC. It's in a sad decline.

    Surprisingly, a web news source that isn't bad is Russia Times. It does carry propaganda sometimes, of course. But it's still better than anything in North America. Almost all North American news outlets are owned by billionaires who want to rule the world. And I do not exaggerate.. They are designed to manipulate public opinion.

    You have to be careful about any public statement by any politician. If the American government says its going to war to spread democracy or to overthrow a evil ruler, you know it's lying. Nobody goes to war for reasons like that.

    Any statement from Harper is designed to attract the support of strategic voting blocs. That's why he supports Israel with question. That's why he's on the side of east Ukraine - there's a big east Ukrainian vote in Canada. That's why he has such a brutal immigration system. He knows, if most Canadians don't, that this country has always been a hotbed of racism. So there are votes in being racist.

    Are you, by any chance, a former student at malcolm Campbell high school in the 60s? The name rings a bell.

  3. sorry for some errors in my typing. The computer hates me.

  4. Thanks for your comprehensive reply. I've just checked out and it looks like I've got quite some reading to do. Your comment about Harper and the Ukraine gave me one of those "but of course, now I get it" moments. Being an easterner I never connected the dots between the Ukrainian vote out west - anywhere west of Quebec, and his stance on the Ukraine issue. (I went to high school in the Eastern Townships, Massey Vanier Regional - one of those behemoths thought necessary to house us boomers. Speaking of boomers, I'm convinced computers, and laptops and mobile devices in particular, have a special dislike for anyone 55+.