Friday, May 29, 2015

May 29: Why , oh, why?

The big news from our editors who feel the pulse of the world and of our reporters is that a city smoking ban is getting a mixed reaction from bar owners. And a new sporting goods store opened for hundreds who had been standing in the parking lot for hours waiting for this blessed day. there's a big photo of them.  One man, we are told, had driven 3 hours, and waited in the parking lot for 24 hours. Heck. All Jesus got was a few wise wise guys who showed up late.

There is a story at the bottom of the page. But it's a very short one, and with no photo, It's about how the provincial government violated the constitution by ignoring elected and informed opinion of our elected councils by announcing school staff cuts without consulting the education councils. But it's just a little story. About kids. Who cares?

, But for thinking people, A 3 has a second and even bigger story about the opening of the sporting goods store - with another photo  of the crowed  So, you know, first things first. And, if you miss those two, don't despair because there's also a column about it on the Commentary page.

The editorial is about how we should donate money to Open Hands. We certainly should. But it's disgraceful that governments should leave something as vital as daily food up to a volunteer organization. Why, that's like telling Mr. Irving to go out and beg for forests.

The only columns worth reading are David Suzuki and Alec Bruce. And both are well worth it.

There's really not much point to reading Canada&World. Here's why.
1. Most of the stories are trivial. B11 devotes a half page to two stories. One is about a way to deal with having too many photos stored in your cell phone. The other is the announcement about two, new smartphones. B1's lead story is "language might shape next electoral map..." (Or it might not.)  A third of a page is devoted to "Moncton's natural resources co-ordinator has a sweet job." Result. We have almost no information about what's going on in the world - or even in Canada.

2. Foreign news is full of evocative words that act as propaganda.  Muslims, for example, are almost always referred to as extremists, terrorists or militants. Troops on our side never are. Our side has, for example, trained killer squads that operate all over the world, even in peaceful, Latin American countries. But they are never called terrorists. No. They're special ops.

The US killed over a million, over half of them civilians, in a war on Iraq that we have never been given a reason for. If the word 'extremist' was ever used to describe that slaughter, I missed it. Ditto for Vietnam where the US murdered civilians by the millions.

If ISIS beheads people, it's always a news story, and perhaps with videos. Our buddy, the King of Saudi Arabia, beheads so many he's had to hire more swordsmen. But how often have you seen photos of his beheadings? For that matter, France was beheading people into the 1970s. I don't think I ever saw a news story about that.

And let's not forget the US frequently executes people by poison gas, electricity and hanging. Is that somehow more civilized than beheading?

3. American drones are killing every day, with a high proportion of the deaths civilian. But I have never seen them called civilians in any news report. They are called militants to give the impression these are deadly enemies. In fact, the word militant, as used by the US government in these rare press releases, means any male over the age of 17 or so that they kill.

The US hired a man to blow up a Cuban civil airliner, killing all aboard. It was very little reported and, of the few who did report, none used the word terrorist. In fact, the US officially lists Cuba as a terrorist state

This use of language is important. It's designed to cause fear and anger which, in turn can be used to justify any action by our government. Two Canadian soldiers were killed last year by "terrorists" who were, in fact,mentally ill Canadians. No matter. That word "terrorist" has been used heavily by Harper as an excuse to destroy our constitutional rights, to make it easy for him to get rid of people he doesn't like, and to spend billions on making this a police state. It took just two victims of "terrorism" to make that possible. Meanwhile, in the same year, over 2,000 Canadians were killed in traffic accidents.  But whose counting? Right?

Most newspapers aren't run to inform us. They're run as propaganda agencies so we can be abused by the better sort of people in our society.

4. B10 "Kurdish fighters in Syria on march against Islamic State" illustrates another problem It has the usual problem of its language. For example, the Kurdish fighters are not extremists or terrorists or any of that nasty stuff. No. They're on our side, so they "....are spurred by ideology and nationalistic fervour. And they don't really kill people no...they "...fought courageously...." How very different from ISIS. But the story is useless for a different reason - and it's one that affects all news media.

To tell us that Kurdish fighters are on the march tells us nothing just as a story that Saudi Arabia is still bombing Yemen tells us nothing just as a story that Israel wants an attack on Iran tells us nothing just as a story Greece hopes to make a deal with international bankers by Sunday.

The problem with news is that it can tell us what is happening. But what it can very seldom do is tell us why it's happening - and unless we know the why, we can't understand the news. That's what makes it so easy for most news sources to twist the news and play with words to create the fear and hatred which guarantee that this sort of thing will continue, and get worse.

Let's take the turmoil in the middle east. Reports of each day don't tell us why it's in turmoil. It can't. The why is a matter of history, not of news.

In the case of this turmoil, i`t began with the very romantic story of Lawrence of Arabia. I read it as a child, and was quite taken by the spell of it. If you've seen the film about him, you know the romantic and exciting part of it. He organized Arab tribes to fight the Turks. And he won, creating the  royal family that leads Saudi Arabia to this day. But that's not the whole history.

This was World War One, the early days of an oil industry that would create immense wealth for capitalists. In fact, for similar reasons there was a frantic rush of European powers from about 1860 on to get control of the Middle East and Africa to loot their resources.  The British were leaders in the rush. Lawrence was an officer in the British army. British capitalists realized there were fortunes to be made. And they knew there was oil in the country Lawrence created, and was called Saudi Arabia.

Leading capitalists effectively controlled the British government. And Lawrence was their boy. Lawrence presented himself to the Arabs as the man who would lead them to freedom from Turkish rule. But he betrayed them. He betrayed them from the start so he could open the way for British capitalists to get control of the oil of Saudi Arabia and Iran - and anybody else who had it.

It was a good deal for the capitalists. they got control of the oil at very cheap prices, sometimes at no price at all. (For almost 30 years, Iran had to supply free oil to the whole British navy.) Most of the Arabic peoples got nothing. The rewards were only for the dictators (and the king) the Europeans put in place. It was, perhaps, the biggest grand theft in history.

For a century, the  Arabs of the middle east have suffered from the poverty and cultural damage caused by the western powers. To that must be added the arrogance of the westerners who had come to control them. It was the product of a profound western racism that was very noticeable until recently in Hong Kong. Now they're shooting back. It's not their religion that has turned them to violence. (Just as it's not Christianity or Judaism that caused us to murder and impoverish millions of Muslims.)

We have to break through the propaganda we are fed. It's not a case of good and evil. It's a case of the abuse inflicted by a handful of very wealthy people. And of us supporting them because we have been gullible.  The only useful thing we can do for the middle east is to get out. And, if we don't, I very much fear that World War Three will happen.

I would make a similar case for the Israelis who support Netanyahu. (I don't like Netanyahu, but let's be fair about this.)  Harper supports Netanyahu to get Jewish votes. Obama supports him because the US intention from the creation of Israel was to use Israel as a beachhead in the middle east. Netanyahu is not a fool. He knows that.

He also knows that the whole western world, including Canada and the US, has been historically vicious in its treatment of Jews. We have forgotten, but Netanyahu knows. And he knows that the only reason we agreed to the creation of Israel was so that the Jews wouldn't come here. (If you doubt that, read a book called "One is too many".)

Israel doesn't trust us. I have no idea what to do about that. But it's another situation that we created by our own bigotry and hypocrisy.

Tthis isn't news. It's history. But we can't understand the news unless we understand the history - just as we still don't understand the determined native opposition to shale gas in the Rexton demonstrations. There's more than an environmental reason for that - but we certainly haven't read about in in the papers.

To make news meaningful, a newspaper requires several pages of well informed commentary on both world  and local matters. The best informed commentator they have is Alec Bruce. They need about six more of him - and rather fewer Irvings hiding behind the curtains.

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