Sunday, April 5, 2015

April 4: Wow! The News YOU Need to Know.

Headline. Page 1. "Stained glass craft survives". Gee! I never knew that. I mean, I've seen stained on  even new churches and new houses. But I always thought angels it put there. And there's an even bigger story at the bottom of the page. There's no news about the events centre. Well, that certainly changes my plans.

A3 has a stunning revelation that woodlot owners should plan for the future. That's true. It's so much better than planning for the past.

In that whole section, the closest thing to news is the story that two men were killed in a crash. Two men. And that's really the end of the story. There won't be flashes and videos across Canada about this. There won't be editorials in all the papers or specials on TV. There won't be debates in parliament. There won't be a movement led by Harper for legislation to prevent this sort of thing happening again. Why not?

Two men were killed. And accidents like that happen on a daily basis in Canada. In the whole history of Canada, two men have been killed by "terrorists". Compare the coverage. Compare the Harper reaction to each of them. Why do the difference? Think about it.

Section A almost never has any news. Why not? Partly because real news often requires a bit of digging by the reporter. But the Irving press doesn't have enough reporters to do the digging. One reason it doesn't have enough reporters is because the Irvings create as few jobs as they possibly can. A second reason they don't want any digging is because it might come their way, and in an embarrassing way - and they really don't want readers to know the truth. In short, the Irving press doesn't want people to know what's happening. It doesn't want them to think. So it happily maintains public ignorance and a sort of brain soaked in preservative.

The only exceptions to that rule are when it wants to lie or to spread propaganda.

That is largely true across North America and the western world. And that happens because almost all news  (and entertainment) sources are owned by a handful of billionaires. The Irving press is just one, backwoods version of the same thing.

The biggest and most respected newspapers are, most of them, like that. That includes even the New York Times. In Canada, it includes The Globe.  It's not just the gutter papers like National Post and Toronto Sun. Today, The Globe has a long story about the treaty end Iran's nuclear bomb development. The writer is very cautious about how trustworthy Iran is on this.

The story does not once mention that there IS NO Iranian nuclear bomb programme. It does not exist. These has been proven repeatedly by CIA and Israeli agents as well as UN inspectors. Iran has done nothing illegal. There was nothing to negotiate a treaty about.

As for being trustworthy, Iran has, in its whole history, rarely attacked anybody. (Its current attack on ISIS is unusual in the respect.) On the other hand, the US has attacked Iran, overthrown its elected government and installed a dictator and then, when, Iran had the nerve to kick out the dictator and elect its own government again, the US hired Saddam Hussein to invade Iran. It also put sanctions on Iran's trade that drove the country into dreadful poverty.  Contrary to The Globe report, it's the Iranians who have to watch their backs.

Across North America, the newspapers and radio stations and TV stations of the very rich  (which means almost all of them) are critical of the treaty. The Irving press is just a junior member of the club. They are all making the US and Israel the helpless victims of those terrible Iranians when, in fact, Israel is the one that is threatening to attack Iran with its nuclear bombs. And the US has been the world's most aggressive and murderous nation for fifty years and more.

You cannot trust most news media. They exist to keep you in the dark and to manipulate you. The British "The Guardian" is an exception only because it is not run by billionaires. It is funded by a trust foundation, so there is no owner. The result is that real journalists control it. That's why it's so good.

Israel's Haaretz is good. But I don't know much about its control system. Al Jazeera is good - far, far better than western journalism gives it credit for; and far, far better than any, major North American private news medium.

BBC news, under government pressure, has become terrible.

CBC has tried hard to remain a solid, professional news source, and is still the best in Canada. But Harper is doing his best to kill it.

Private radio? Forget it. It exists to make money. That means it can't afford to annoy advertisers. That means it's often owned by the very rich who don't want you to know anything. And it spends very little on reporters. I was many years on Montreal's largest and most profitable radio station. It had one reporter. He was good, He was honest. He was intelligent. (and, I guess) still is. But one reporter isn't much. Such stations prefer to spend their money on half-wits who come on the air to say, "Hey, gang. Come on in. We're here to play the tunes YOU want to hear." (memorize that, and you can get a good job at any private radio station.)

The editorial in today's TandT is the usual, money centred and not very intelligent boosterism for "events tourism".

Norbert's column is much the  same. People, society and their needs simply don't exist for Norbert or the editorial writer. Worse, Norbert dumps on education and health care - of which he knows nothing at all. Tell you what, Norby, if you think business methods would be so wonderful if applied to health care, then I suggest you go down to the states next time you're pregnant.

Nor do I see how health care i mediocre here. I have found it excellent. It's most of your news media I have found beneath contempt.

As for the schools being mediocre, I've seen no sign of that. And I know a hell of lot more about education than Norbert does. My cat knows more about education than Norbert does.

New Brunswickers certainly are intellectually mediocre. That's because not all education happens in the schools. It happens in daily life in a society. And the New Brunswick that our children grow up in is, intellectually, an appallingly mediocre place. And a major factor in creating that mediocrity is your utterly stinking newspaper. and you're miserably ass-kissing columns on subjects you know nothing about.

I see almost no evidence of adult participation in public discussion in the this province. I don't know whether they're afraid of it or are just intellectually lazy. But it just doesn't happen. That's the atmosphere that children of this province grow up in. Of course, students are not intellectual active. If they were active and inquiring and challenging, people like you would demand all the teachers be fired.

And remember, Norbert, everything we do is or should be for people. Money is a means to an end. It is not an end in itself. Start with people. Start with society. Decide on a philosophy of what society is about. Then decide on how much money you need and how to get it.

And please put an end to this crap about "business methods". Business methods are about making money. That's it. They are not about people - except as victims to get the money from.

Good column by Brent Mazerolle on the Senate. It's a serious problem.Senators are a huge drain on the economy for whatever they do. They're almost all political hacks who are there to do what they're told. I have known only a few of them who showed sparks of intelligence They are very, very loose, even criminal in their spending habits. They work very, very little. They are heavily biased - which is why Harper appoints them in the first place. I think particularly of one who was raised a rich, spoiled and unspeakably arrogant brat - like her mother. And neither of them ever outgrew it.

We really need to rethink the Senate. We don't need so many of them. We don't need them for more than a fraction of each year - but have to shell out high salaries, plus staff, plus offices, plus perks. This has to end.

Finance minister Melanson has a column at the bottom of p. A13. I didn't read it because I don't waste my time reading propaganda by politicians on a commentary page. Rod Allen, this is your page. Could you put a stop to this illegitimate use of the press?

Bill Belliveau, like Norbert, writes about the provincial budget. Like Norbert, it's all about dollars. But dollars is not the starting point in government. The starting point is people. Who are they? What is needed? Then you look at the problem of how you pay for it. And you also take a look at those things you should not pay - like Atcon which, as we all know, is not the only one.

And I notice that neither Bill nor Norbert mention the responsibility of the very, very rich to pay for their own investments, and to pay their share of taxes.

But he does have a funny paragraph - it's paragraph 6. He says there are some very intelligent people in the Liberal caucus, and some were in the last cabinet. Would those intelligent people be the half of the cabinet who voted to give away money to Atcon?

Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have any philosophy of the needs of a society or of our responsibilities to each other. And a very high proportion have been known to use their positions in government as stepping stones to getting comfy appointments to corporate boards, and even better.

(I'm not convinced that the NDP has given enough thought to its concept of what a society should be. And the Greens are narrow on that issue.)
There is nothing in Canada&World unless you really, really care that maple syrup can make a non-sticky beer.

The biggest story, a full page, is "Tracking the Cuban Money Crisis". I stopped reading it a third of the way through because of its obviously loaded language, and its obviously propaganda message.

It refers, for example, to the uniquely incompetent chaos machine that is the Cuban economy. There is no mention that for some sixty years, the huge and rich and powerful US has used its power (illegally) to destroy the economy of tiny and poor Cuba. Nor is there any mention that tiny and poor Cuba with all its economic "chaos machine" has enabled Cuba to survive, and has created education and health care systems infinitely better than those of the US. And they're free. I'll bet that writer could get a job with Irving press.

This is a newspaper that has almost nothing worth reading or talking about. So let's take a quick look at a story that is more important than it seems and, of course, didn't make the TandT.

In BC, there's a native chief who gets a million a year to be chief. The community of which he is chief has 85 people. Is this outrageous? Almost certainly. But let's not rush into jumping on somebody for this.

Here in New Brunswick, both French and English talk a great deal about preserving their cultures. But cultures are constantly changing. They have to - because culture (how we behave, what our values are)  are shaped by a world around us that is constantly changing.

My ancestors on the French side when Jean Decarie came here about 1651 were barely literate farmers who never heard of democracy. And they were Catholics. On the Scottish side at that time, my ancestors were quite illiterate, highland farm servants who lived and died in wretched poverty, who had no democracy. And they were severe Calvinists. I have no desire to live in either of those cultures.

I think we should be aware of our past, and should celebrate it. But we can't live in it.

There are parts of it we might well want to keep - such as language. My objection to nationalism in Quebec was not that the French wanted to preserve their right to use French. That's perfectly reasonable. My objection was that they wanted to destroy my right to use English. And now they want to preserve ----something ----by destroying the right of people to behave according to their religion.

I think Acadiens are quite right to demand the right to use French. What bothers me in New Brunswick is anglos who, just like Quebec nationalists, want to forbid the rights of others.

The greater problem comes when we destroy functioning societies, to destroy their social structures, their religions, the nature of their relationships, their sense of belonging to - anything.

And the western world has been doing that destruction ever since Columbus. They've done it all over the world. And, today, it's become an orgy of destruction focused on the Islamic world. And, even if we stop killing,  we can't just wave a magic wand make it all okay.

China was plunged into more than a century of poverty, chaos, slaughter by western conquest. It still has not recovered. The same is true all over Asia and Africa - and the Americas.

Native peoples here struggle to rediscover their culture - as they should. But, even as they struggle, they also have to adapt to our culture - or live forever in poverty. Very few societies have been able to make that transition - to be what they were, and also to be what they must be now to survive.

Residential schools didn't solve the problem. They made it worse. Missionaries didn't solve the problem. They made it worse. Of course they did. Residential schools and Christian missionaries were as destructive of native societies as our ancestors were. Certainly, treaties and reserves have not solved the problem. I won't even pretend that I have the answer because it's a question nobody has ever settled.

A guess might be that native people, for a start,  need to live in much larger territories than the size of a reserve. And they need far more independent status - equivalent at least to provinces. And they need several such territories because not all native peoples are the same. But it's a difficult problem - a problem created by the aggressive and greedy cultures of our ancestors. And nothing will make it easy.

In the same way, we have to let existing nations live their own lives. Right now, greed dictates is that they either live our lives or we kill them. Five hundred years of history should tell us that won't work.

Sorry about the lead story I reprinted at the start of April 3s blog. Half of it got lost, and I'm still not sure why. I'll try to fix it for tomorrow.

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