Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dec. 9: News that isn't

I'm afraid there's  nothing to say about Section A in Monday's paper, not even on the editorial and op ed pages. It's mostly boring and/or irrelevant. Alec Bruce produces his usual argument that fracking is so good and so safe that the very idea of having a moratorium on it boggles the mind. He must have a mind that's easily boggled. (I'll return to this later.)

Craig Babstock has a a column so self-righteous that he really should have his own church. He criticizes protesters who interfered with reporters at an anti-fracking demonstration, saying that papers have a right to speak freely just as protesters do. Well.. yeah...but..

...When reporters (the Irving press springs to mind) abuse their right to report by showing bias, partisanship, propaganda, and outright lying. they are not practicing a right of free speech and free dissemination of information. And at that point, the major difference between reporters and the protesters is that reporters don't have to face a line of police in riot gear backed up by snipers.
In a world that could be on the edge of global war, Section B has only one story that isn't from North America.  It's about an Ottawa man who has joined ISIL, and who appeared in a video advocating attacks on Canadians. His name is John Macguire, and he's a convert.  Yes, this has a touch of sensation about it. But the only reason it makes the news is that he's a Canadian and his name is Maguire. Beyond that, there's nothing unusual in an Islamic militant calling for attacks on Canadians - unless, of course, you think Canadians are entitled to bomb other countries without getting bombed back.

B1 also has a big, big story that says nothing whatever. "New Brunswickers enjoy falling gas prices". Now, a headline is supposed to tell us the point of a story. Is that the whole point of the story? Do we need to buy a newspaper to find out we enjoy falling gas prices? Do we need it even to tell us that gas prices are falling?
Hey! I have a certificate in grade four math.  I can do perdition and extractions with the best of them. I know $1.11 is less that $1.32. This is like one of those big stories (with pictures) that tell us it snowed yesterday.

There there are opinions from people in the industry making guesses on where this is going. But these are pure guesses.The big question is - why are prices dropping? Who started the price-cutting? Could it possibly be an oil state that wants to put a lid on shale gas competition? Could it be a Saudi Arabia that hopes to cut Russia out of the European market? Usually, prices drop when the product is not selling well. But oil is selling quite well. This looks like a planned event. If so, who planned it? And why?

We don't need news stories about the price. We can see that every time we pass a gas station. We need to know why this is happening.

But the whole Monday paper is pretty much a dead loss.
For Tuesday, B1 has "Public urged to support turkey drive, food box program". Now - get this opening sentence. 'In typical Moncton fashion, the community is rallying behind an annual Christmas campaign, but so far, it's going at a snail's pace.'   (We shall slip lightly over the comma that should be a semi-colon between campaign and but.  The editor should have caught that.)

Look at that statement. We're rallying behind a campaign----it's going at a snail's pace. Sorry. You can't have it both ways. Either we're rallying behind a campaign (which would mean it is doing well). Or it's not doing well (which would mean we aren't rallying behind it.

Or - you can include the opening phrase so the meaning of he whole sentence is that 'the whole thing is a mess; but that's typical of Moncton.'

A5 has a story about pampering kids by building hockey rinks in the back yard. That's all wrong. In the Montreal that used to be, we played hockey on the street which gave us a chance to hook onto the bumper of a passing car, and slip past the defence. The street in those days also supplied us with lots of free pucks in the form of frozen droppings from horses. Hey, it was good enough for Dickie Moore.
In editorial and op ed pages, it's pretty much a zero. Patricia Graham, the ombudswoman lays down some rules for letters to the editor. Well, okay. But she's here as the person who fields complaints about the quality of the newspaper. How come we  have yet to see any report of anything the newspaper has done wrong? Have there been complaints? Has the paper ever been found to be wrong? How come we don't know anything about it?

There's a routine letter to the editor about how abortion is wrong because the Bible says so. (Actually, that's not quite what it says. What it says is "Thou shalt not kill.") We kill lots of people. We kill them with weapons. We starve them to death. Our ancestors killed people to settle here. We're killing some now in Iraq. The US kills them by the million. And all with the blessing of the churches. So shouldn't we just revise The Bible?

Thou shalt not kill unless the victim is out of the womb. Kill cripples, elderly, women, children, all foreigners, but nobody who hasn't been born yet. Or maybe they should go to the heart of the problem. Make it illegal to  have, you know, the cause of the problem, like Adam and Eve. Of course, to make sure, we'd also have to ban apples.
In fairness, section B (NewsToday) had stories I didn't expect it to cover.

B4 has "Soldiers to train Ukrainian military  police". This means Canadian soldiers -  in addition to our sending of ships and a couple of fighter planes to Ukraine for military exercises. But everything in this story is so vague as to be beyond comprehension. Isn't it odd to conduct war exercises in such an uncontrolled situation? Exercises that could lead to a war that nobody in this world can afford to fight?

What agreements do we have with Ukraine for a military role? How come some stories say that our military police are going there not just to train, but to serve in fighting zones with troops from western Ukraine? Are we committed to taking part in a Ukraine war that could very well turn into a Russian war? If not, why are we taking part in war exercises?

A suggestion at the end of the story offers a credible explanation. Harper is making these gestures to win the Ukrainian-Canadian vote. This is his usual style - to talk big and do little. But that carries one hell of a risk for our troops and for all of us if the balloon goes up while we're involved.

Then there's "U.S. embassies prepare for release of torture report". That's a U.S. Senate report which says that the torture did not produce any useful information. The story is a short one - and it's not at all clear on why the report should provoke attacks on U.S. embassies. After all, the report has been heavily trimmed to one-twelfth of its original size. So you can bet none of the really gruesome stuff is there. So why should embassies be in danger?

Because, unlike us, people on other continents know the full scale of brutality involved in what was and still is the biggest torture system in history. No matter what the report says, those people will react to it with anger and hatred. And our news media will tell us how terrible those people are.

Then there's "Syria, Iran condemn Israeli airstrikes near Damascus. Actually, Israel has been attacking Syria for some time, usually by air. Its motive is that, like the U.S., it wants the destruction of the Syrian nation. In Israel's case, the reason it that it wants to be the dominant state in the region. To do that, it wants a Greater Israel to be created by taking over arab countries. That's why the attacks in Syria have been aimed at the elected government, not at the so-called 'rebels' or their good friends in ISIL (which owes much to Israel for its weaponry). As well, Israel has an interest in expelling arabs from Gaza and from Lebanon. It's very confusing because the US and Israel are playing games. The US, Israel and Saudi Arabia all had a hand in creating ISIL - and supplying it and training it. They still do - even as the US (and Canada) attack ISIL. The real target is Syria. Meanwhile, Iran is rightly concerned about a possible attack from Israel.

While all this destruction is  happening, millions of Syrians are refugees with no western power  ( and certainly not Canada) offering any significant help. Turkey carries a huge burden as home to over a million of the refugees. Meanwhile, countries like France, Italy, Britain which have done little to help are already suffering riots against those few refugees who do get in.

In short, the Middle East is suffering unspeakable horrors that will continue beyond the lives of those living there -  perhaps even centuries if the world lasts that long.

Oh, B4 has a story "Afghanistan war mission officially ends". In the manner of our western news media, it begins with a piece of propaganda presented as fact, that the US invaded Afghanistan thirteen years ago because it harboured the terrorists responsible for 9/11. That's a lie. For a start, there is not the slightest evidence that the Taliban government did any such thing. And the FBI has said that publicly many times. In fact, the invasion of Afghanistan was planned several years BEFORE 9/11. It was part of the plan for The New American Century - partly for its minerals, partly its strategic position in relation to Pakistan and Iran.

It has been an utter failure as a war. But Obama can't say that. And he really can't get out without it being obvious it was a failure. That's why the war is officially ending - but American troops will be increased and will be fighting for at least two, more years.

Some stories weren't important enough for big time papers like the Irving press. The US has been using drones all over the world for years to kill selected targets. They've killed thousands - though no official figures have ever been released. But it is known that a very high proportion of those killed aren't terrorists at all. They're anybody in the area - women, children, bystanders. Estimates are that 28 innocent people are killed for each person on the U.S. enemy list that is killed.

And in all its warmaking, the west has completely ignored the UN. It has completely ignored international law. It has completely ignored all war crimes legislation - and has supported Israel in doing to, too. There's a reason why so much of the world intensely dislikes our governments. And, increasingly, those who dislike our governments are also to be found in the European Union.
A reader sent me the site for Strategic Culture Foundation. This is a sort of journal of commentary, mostly on Asia and Europe. Its use of adjectives suggests bias; and it clearly dislikes the role the US government is playing in the world. I found that grating but----

....it is, unlike those who write for the Irving press, knowledgeable. So - be on your guard; but take it seriously. It seems very well informed.

The address is    www.strategic-culture.org

Finally, a thought about Alec Bruce's column on fracking.....

He says that fracking has been proven safe. Actually, it hasn't. But that's not the point. Let's agree you can drink and bathe in the stuff, and you can keep healthy goldfish in the wastewater even before it's treated.

Mr. Bruce, read carefully, digest, think. NONE OF WHAT YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT MATTERS.

When you frack or built pipelines, you are committing yourself to the heavy use of fossil fuels for decades to come. Just building a pipeline takes five or so years. Then you need years to recoup the cost. We're looking at a total of fifty years - at least - of heavy use of fossil fuels.

Now, Mr. Bruce, do you agree there is such a thing as climate change? The evidence is pretty compelling. Many experts in the field  (no, that does not include oil company CEOs, but people almost as smart as them) say that we have already passed the point of no return - or soon will. And you are going to go on encouraging climate change for at least another fifty years?



  1. Actually, Alec Bruce has written claiming that he does believe in climate change in a couple of articles. And for some reason he gets up my nose more than anyone else. I guess it's because he writes daily and blows hot and cold about the whole fossil fool issue.
    This brings to mind a question I have always wondered about. Do you know if any of the columnists at the T&T read your blog? This question often comes up when I mention your site to others. If none of them has ever admitted to reading what you write about them, do you think they might be closet "good and the bad" readers?

  2. Bruce treads a fine line. But he never, never criticizes shale gas development. For that matter, he never criticizes oil development of any sort.

    Do people at the TandT read my blog? Unless egos in the journalism world have deflated at a tremendous rate since I worked in that world, they read every sentence which is about them.

    Besides, it appears in the Moncton Free Press on the web - and I'm sure they look at that.

    I often wonder about the journalism schools down here. Don't they criticize these news media? Certainly, when I was teaching journalism in China (and working with a real pro at the game in his editing days in Ottawa), we routinely used Hong Kong newspapers - usually the South China Morning Post - for daily discussion groups. I still remember one of the stories whose ethics we questioned. A woman invited a neighbour into her apartment for a cup of tea. He beat her, and raped her. The headline? "That was some cup of tea!"

    Of course, the Post was British-owned, and was staffed heavily by young brits who went over with all the arrogance of a superior race. Many of my Chinese students were far superior to their British bosses.