Monday, May 11, 2015

May 11: Free Ad! (I have no shame.)

A friend visits me now and then to point a video camera at my face and ask me questions. I, modestly,  reply. And he posts them in YouTube. The most recent one was posted just yesterday. It's called the purpose of history. Just go to youtube, and type graeme decarie in the search bar.
Something strange is going on at Irving press. The news stories have always been dominated by trivia. But it's been getting worse for some weeks. And foreign news has almost disappeared. I'm not sure whether this is a deliberate ploy to make New Brunswickers even more passive - or whether it's just increasing profits by cutting costs.

As part of that process the press seems to be hiring even more incompetent editors. That's what caught my eye in the lead story on A1, "Moncton surgery wait  times worst in at least 15 years." Now, a headline is supposed to give a sense of what the story is about. In this case, it gives a sense of hospital break down - something the Irving press  seems to enjoy pointing out. (After all, things would be so much better if Mr. Irving were running our hospitals - and schools - as private businesses.)  The editor who wrote that headline either has a deficiency of editorial skills, or is deliberately lying as part of the pitch for more control of hospitals by private business.

1. The story is not about Moncton hospitals. It's about one of them, the Moncton Hospital. There are no figures for the other one, the Georges Dumont.
2. The impression given by the headline - and the first three-quarters of the story - is that it is the hospital's fault. In fact, it is the fault of the government - for years now - for neglecting housing for seniors. The result it that seniors are forced to stay in hospital beds even when they don't require medical care. So there are no beds for real patients.
3. A real editor knows that most readers will read just the headline and a bit of the story. That means most readers will see this as the fault of the hospitals. If that was done deliberately, he should be fired. If it was done out of incompetence, he should be assigned  to the cartoon page beat.

A2 has a hilarious story about how Brunswick News won 5 golds at the Atlantic  Journalism Awards. I'm not surprised it won 5. . (I've read the other papers in the Atlantic region.) What does surprise me is they got the award for their breaking coverage of the killing of three RCMP officers. "Breaking coverage"? Not possible. Both radio and TV were way ahead of them.

One of the awards, and very well deserved, was to the photographer who got the picture of Justin Bourque with his rifles. That was world class. The story refers to him as a former photographer for Brunswick News. A more honest statement would be that he was one of the photographers fired by the Irving press, presumably to improve profits for Mr. Irving.

Also mentioned in the article was James C. Irving who got a journalism degree at Columbia, was hired by Brunswick New based on his obvious talent in choosing parents, then, pulling himself up by his own bootstraps, rose with astonishing speed to Vice-President of Irving news. I've never seen such a rapid rise. He should have received a gold award for it.

And he rest of the news in section A is just as fascinating.

The editorial is nice - with a exception of the paragraph  (quite unnecessary) about nurse Edith Cavell who was executed by the Germans in World War 1. It confuses the story by saying she helped save the lives of soldiers on both sides and, in the same sentence, she was executed by the Germans for helping British prisoners to escape. That's quite true. But putting those two in the same sentence suggests that saving the lives of soldiers as a nurse was somehow related to helping British soldiers to escape.

I don't think she should have been killed But she did help British prisoners to escape. That's illegal in war. And both sides in that war used execution on a lavish scale, often for quite minor crimes. If you talked back, or deserted, or insulted an officer or helped prisoners escape - you got shot. Being a good nurse had nothing to do with it.

Norbert Cunningham, writing on Omar Khadr's release on bail, is very, very good. He might have added that
1. It is illegal in war to treat a minor as if he were an adult.
2. It is a judicial farce (and also probably illegal) to try such a person in a military tribunal.
3..Khadr was defending himself.
4. The illegal behaviour was by the American army and its command right up to George Bush. It is illegal to invade foreign territory unless it has attacked you. The American invasion of Aghanistan was illegal. For the same reason, it was illegal for Canada to send troops. And, for all the talk, there has never been any evidence that the government of Afghanistan was a threat to the US. The people who should have been  put on trial for mass murder and torture (also illegal) are George Bush and Tony Blair. Instead, a boy was sent to prison camp and tortured. George and Tony became multi-millionaires.

Norbert suggests that Khadr's family (including Khadr?) should be deported. Why? The mother is still an adamant supporter of the Taliban. But you're allowed in a democracy to hate or love whoever you want to. There's no evidence she's done anything illegal. Once you allow people to be deported because of what they believe,  then you may soon find yourself in trouble for what you believe.

And there is no reason whatever to deport Omar Khadr. Indeed, a Canadian prime minister with any courage and sense of responsibility would have been lobbying to bring Khadr back as soon as he was captured. That's what a national leader is supposed to do for citizens. Other countries on our side did it. Harper was a conspicuous exception.

I have no idea why Craig Babstock wrote his column. And Alec  Bruce just repeats his old pitch for the events centre. It will, he says, make us rich beyond out wildest dreams. Gee! All that easy money. And not a single Irving is interested. I guess they want us to have all that money for ourselves.

Steve Malloy has a superb column on sex education, one of the best I've seen on that topic.
The Canada&World section is a disgrace. There's a big story about a residence at West Point Military Academy being  named after the school's first, black graduate (1936). Is this something you need to know? Will it change your life?

Then there's one about a woman in Winnipeg who died in a taxi on the way home from a hospital. Nobody knows why. So there's going to be an inquest. I'm sorry to hear it. But so what?

Big story. A child in Ontario is getting marijuana treatment for epilepsy.

The PM of Spain praised men who helped to save two plane crash survivors. This is all just drivel.

B1 has some real news. "Province pushing progressive taxation."  (which means higher taxation for the rich.)
The story, by John Chilibek, is well-written and informative - a model of good reporting. Will it really happen on any significant scale? No. I don't even have to guess about that. Nothing significant is going to happen. We know how owns the Liberal party and the Conservative party. And we know there are piles of ways for the very rich to hide their money. And we know that the Irving press is never going to tell us how much the very rich pay in taxes.

What is far more likely to happen is that the rich will continue to get richer while everybody else gets poorer. Eventually this will lead to violence in several parts of the world. And nobody can guess what will come out of that.

There's an important story on B4. "PMO thickens fog of secrecy surrounding Senate expenses." But it's buried on B4 instead of being at the top of B1 where important stories belong.

Finally, there's an interesting story on B6. Raul Castro visited Pope Francis to thank him for helping to improve US-Cuba relations. Francis is a remarkable man. He has moved the Catholic church centuries ahead of where it was; and he has shown more qualities of diplomacy and honesty and courage than most of the political leaders all put together. (I wonder if we could get something for Harper and Gallant on a trade.make them Bishops or saints or something, and we get Pope Francis.)

Almost unbelievably, there is nothing on Yemen or Saudi Arabia or Ukraine or the slow collapse of Mexico or the US government use of new concentration camps to hold refugees in the US; nothing onthe tragedy that the US has created in Haiti, nothing about US interference in Latin American governments, nothing about Greece which is in a crisis that could have an impact on the whole European Union, nothing about Canadians in Iraq and Syria.

Yep, James C., I can detect all the signs of Irving press leadership by a trained journalist.

For some real journalism try the site below in which Ralph Nader talks about the insanity of the search for oil. It has done a lot of damage to this planet. We know that. It will do a lot more, and soon. We can be pretty confident of that. The oil industry doesn't care about the damage it will do. All it cares about is making money.

That's why we get the constant babble that the world's scientists are wrong; climate change isn't happening; we're just using oil until we develop a substitute form of energy. The oil industry says that (and its newspapers and TV and radio) say that because it doesn't give a damn about the damage. All they care is that oil can be sold. An alternative might not be nearly as profitable. They's not interested in alternative energy.  How can the industry be so blind?

It's either greed or stupidity - or a combination of the two which also leads them to ignore the consequences, even for themselves. in wars and economic imbalances and world turmoil. "We need oil," they say. No doubt they do and we do. But there's a reality

However much we need it, we can't have it. We cannot lean on oil - and survive. It can't be done. And the world is not just for today. It's for millions of days to come.

Anyway, here is Ralph Nader, taken from Huffington Post - - which is not run by billionaires, so it's honest and well done.

Then go to this site   The site isn't always reliable. But Seymour Hersh is, and he's one hell of a good journalist. Scroll down to "The murder of Osama bin Laden", a column by Hersh.

I've seen very little of substance on the Alberta election. But there are serious questions to be asked. The NDP won, at least partly, because it moved a bit to the centre. That's a good way to get power. But it's a lousy way to get anything done. Saving Alberta     - or New Brunswick or Canada - is not going to be accomplished by moving to the centre. The political centre is what has been causing our problems.

I know it's easier to win by moving the centre. But if you want to made change, you won't make any significant ones from the centre. To make change, you have to go the long and hard way to educate people, to make them see what is causing our problems. If you don't, then you really will never have enough support to make necessary changes no matter how many elections you win.

The New Brunswick NDP, in particular, might bear that in mind.

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