Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 30: ?????? What is news?

Think about that word.News.  It doesn't mean sentimentality. It doesn't mean nostalgia. It doesn't mean reminiscence. Note the first three letters of it - NEW. It's about something very, very recent - like NOW. It's about information that we need to function as a society.

Yes, in other sections you can have Ann Landers and comics. But these don't appear in news sections. And they certainly don't appear as a banner headline on A1. Except in the Irving press where Brent Mazerolle has a sentimental high school essay about the police killings of June 4. Continued on A11, it takes up a total of a full page.

Need more?. Go to the first page of Canada&World. The story gets another full page there in another non-news story, this one by Cole Hobson. This is all just sentimentalism with no news value whatever.

The headline on A1 reads "The shadow of June 4". Why on earth did the editors choose May 30 to run this story?

No competent news editor would ever assign this story or accept it in a news section. The Irving press seems to have no professional standards at all.

A3 has over half a page devoted to the news YOU need to know -  a former MLA has been appointed a judge. That's nice. But we could have been told all we needed to know in one paragraph.

All of the news in section A is like that. No investigation, no questioning, no significant issues. This is news on the cheap, and guaranteed not to offend anybody named Irving.

The editorial is another lightweight. Norbert reminds us of a great political reform he once wrote about. There should be a non-partisan Common Sense Party. Lord love a duck! Think, Norbert. How can a party be non-partisan? Don't you have a dictionary?

And what does common sense mean? All parties and voters think they have common sense, and that all the other parties and voters don't. Common sense sounds nice. But it doesn't mean a damn thing.
You don't start with common sense, Norbert. You start with principles because nobody actually knows what common sense means.

He follows this mindlessness with an overkind review of the People's Alliance party His headline shows the muddiness of his own thinking.  "People's alliance has right intent, but are principles enough?"  Oh, why does it have the right intent? Name a party that has the wrong intent?

Norbert - intent and principles don't mean quite the same thing..  This is just a remarkably silly column.

Brent Mazerolle, once again, does not know the difference between a commentary and a short story.

The other trick in in being a good commentator is to be fairly knowledgeable. Sometimes, Bill Belliveau is knowledgeable. Sometimes not. Today is a not. There's no doubt he's right that New Brunswick has a profound literacy problem. I'm surprised the province can function at all with an adult functional illiteracy rate of 55%. The Gaza Strip has a far higher literacy rate than that.

Belliveau devotes his column to a private venture by Disney which teaches literacy, and is being experimented on in China, so far on a small scale. It seems to be doing well - but...

Almost any system of education will do well in China. That's because parents and children have a profound commitment to education. To do badly in school is a matter of shame for the whole family - all the way to cousins, uncles and aunts. When I taught there, no student ever missed a class - or was even late. No assignment was ever late. One of the students who followed me back to study at Concordia in Montreal worked so hard, he was taking pills to stay awake all night to study. I had to warn him I would have him hospitalized if he didn't slow down.

For a teaching system to work in China proves nothing about the system. It tells us about the values of the society. But not about the system.

To find out who is doing well in educaton and literacy, one should google for "UNESCO world literacy"., Above all, pay no attention to American sources like CIA Factbook. Its figures are wildly untrue. Despite the CIA ratings, neither Canada nor the US comes anywhere close to 99% literacy
But one country, at least, is ranked by both UNESCO and the CIA as having the astonishing rate of literacy of 99%. That country is Cuba. So it certainly wasn't achieved by a private company.

Shouldn't we be looking at how Cuba did it? After all, the Cuban people probably do not have the reverence for education that China does. (Few countries have.) And Cuba had almost no education at all through the years that the US ruled it under brutal dictators. The change occurred under Castro.

The Disney system is not proven. Worse, it is a foot in the door for the privatization of education - which means the final destruction of any equality of opportunity. Even if the Disney system gets private funding at first, that will not last forever. The Disney outfit is not in business to offer freebies; and no private funding will last forever..

It's a bad idea for a columnist to write on a topic on which he is lacking in expertise. Indeed, I have to wonder...exactly where did he hear about the Walt Disney programme in China? (Oh, and by the way, he mentions that the company gets earnings of a hundred million a year in China. That's nice. But I don't see why we should support a scheme to make more money for the Disney outfit.)

I'm afraid this article looks very much like a setup to con us into yet another attempt by private business to get into the education business - for private profit. How come Belliveau heard about an obscure and unproven business deal in China - but seems to know nothing about literacy rates around the world? And how come he never heard about the phenomenal improvement in literacy in Cuba?  I really don't like the smell of this column.

Then, at last, there's Gwynne Dyer. His commentary is on the crisis over the South China sea - and it does what a commentary should do. It gives us some history and context so we can understand the crisis this has created between the US and China. This is a very serious one with a high possibility of leading to a nuclear war. The Irving press has scarcely noticed it, even as news. But this is a crisis that could be sent nuclear by even a small mistake on either side.

China is claiming ownership of the South China Sea because it wants economic control of the whole region - Malaya, The Philippines, etc. Dyer is quite right in saying so, but...

he neglects to mention why the US is taking such a tough stand on the issue. It wants economic control of that region. That's why it fought the war in Vietnam. That's why it made the Philippines an American colony when it invaded it in 1898. It also wants control of the South China Sea for a war against China. The US has been sensitive about boundaries since the beginning of its history. That's why it invaded Canada in 1812, then Mexico and the series of wars to conquer native peoples, then most of Latin America, and that's why it threatened to invade Canada in 1903 in the dispute over the Alaska/Canada boundary.

The US has, throughout its history, done exactly the sort of thing China is doing with the South China Sea.

For over a century, US governments and their friends in business have wanted to get the British and French out of Asia so that US big business could reap the tremendous profits of Asia, especially China.

There are no good guys and bad guys here. What we have is a rapidly wilting empire confronting a rapidly growing one. And there is enough greed and stupidity on each side to make nuclear war a very real possibility.
Well, the first page of this skimpy section is entirely about Moncton. The lead story is not a news story at all. And the story that our ambulance radio system being due for an upgrade is a yawn.
But in B3, we go out to the greater world with a big story that the New Brunswick government has appointed a task force to study child care.  That story could have been told in one paragraph.

On B6, we're still in Canada with a big, big story that Peter MacKay is leaving federal politics. Much more interesting, but shorter, is a story on the same page that a nail has been found in a potato in Halifax.

On B7 we actually cross a national border to go to the US which is removing Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. The story is told entirely from a very official American government point of view.

For a start, Cuba was not a terrorist state except - when it was controlled by a dictator who worked for the US, and who used torture and murder to keep people in line for the good of American big business. When Castro took over, a new terror came - again from the US. The story has the grace to mentions an incident of  this, but fails t omention how deeply the US was involved. It sponsored the bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner, killing 373 people. It then sheltered the killer who did it. He still lives in Florida. It sponsored terrorist bombing of tourist hotels.It sponsored an invasion of Cuba, the Bay of Pigs..

The US has sponsored terrorism and dictatorship all over the world. It was the US that originally trained and armed the Taliban in Afghanistan. It also was an early sponsor (with Saudi Arabia and  the emirates) of Al Quaeda and, almost certainly, of ISIS. The US led in the terrorism in Guatemala that killed a quarter million men, women, and children. It's done the same all over Central America.

Cuba has sent doctors to crisis points all over the world.  So God bless America.

The story ends with the note that the US is terribly, terribly worried about Cuba's democratic record.
How noble. They aren't worried about the democracy record of Saudi Arabia, though, or about the democratic records of all the torturing and murdering dictators they US has imposed on Latin America, including Fulgencio Batista who they imposed on Cuba.

If the US government is so concerned about democratic records, it might look at its own. This is a country of two parties, neither of which could possibly win without the support of very big business. Both parties are bought. Any president is bought. The result is a country whose foreign policy is set by the wants of big business, is incredibly expensive, and is the disaster of the century. Domestic policy, too, is set by big business so the Americans who need help don't get it, and big business is allowed to thrive on low to zero taxes, and on runaway corruption.

The situation is so bad and the American people so disillusioned that way fewer than half will vote on election day. On top of that, anybody the government doesn't like is targeted by a\its secret service. Obama is scarcely a poster boy for democracy. But there's no way you would read any of that in this news story. The reality is that when it comes to health care, education, service to the whole population, the people of Cuba are a hell of a lot better off than Americans are. And they aren't forced to vote for flunkies of big business.

As for the rest of the world, there is just one news story in today's paper - about boat people in Asia. There is not one word about three, critical areas that could spark a nuclear war at any time - the Middle East, the South China Sea, Ukraine. There is nothing about how fragile west Ukraine (our side) has become as a result of looting by western bankers. They've taken most of the best farmland. They've jacked up prices so much that it is not possible for the majority of people to afford electricity or heating oil - or even food. What happens if the Kyev government loses control? This might well lead to a demand from American bankers that the US intervene to protect their interests. And that could mean a Russian response.

The Faith page...what a treat of righteousness! And the sermonette is....

well, most it's about Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. There's a long story about how Apple has make our lives worth living. (The sermonizer seems to be unaware that Apple did not invent computers, and was never the sales leader.)  And you know what?

He was born to a woman who decided not to have an abortion but to put her son up for adoption. That just proves the importance of Right to Life. That's why you can play I tunes. This is painful reasoning. Hitler's mother made the wrong decision in not having an abortion. What does either case prove?

Look. If he believes that all babies have a right to life, why have we heard so little about the millions of babies slaughtered all over the world by our bombers? Does he think our bombers are careful not to hit pregnant women? Or is it just North American babies that have a right to life?

And what about the millions of still births all over the world because we make no attempt to provide adequate health care - not even in a rich country like the US? And the millions more whose pregnant mothers starve to death or are worked so brutally (as in Latin America and Congo) that they die before birth.

Tell you what, for all those people who clutter the streets in front of hospitals and carry signs, why don't you spend your time seeking out young, unwed girls of no income who want an abortion - and offer yourselves to take over the raising of that child?

And why don't you protest against our routine killing of babies and everybody else all over the world?  Read up on the subject. We, all of us, do it all the time. Is it evil to abort a birth? Yes? So why is it okay to murder millions of Vietnamese, Muslims, just about anybody we feel like murdering? Does "Thou shalt not kill" apply only to unborn babies?

There's a  difference between being righteous and being self-righteous.

Meanwhile, all the churches are busy feeding the hungry and holding yard sales.

Finally, on C14, student columnist Amanda Cormier has a good column on why we spend so much time criticizing others.  Now, criticism is something we should all do because riticism means judging what others do as a factor in making our own  judgements about people and events. We should be much more critical than we are.  But I know that Mlle. Cormier doesn't mean that that sort of criticism. She means purely negative criticism. And why we do it is an important question that she almost answers.

She writes that it was worse in high school when she could be very critical of others, but that she's grown up. Quite so. It's worse in high school because it is a period of anxiety over whether we are liked or accepted or smart, etc. That is what makes us so  negatively critical of others.  Seeing faults in others makes us feel superior. It's almost a form of racism.

She's grown out of that. And that's good because some people spend their lives acting superior because they know they're really inferior.

Good column.

The Irving press is run on the cheap, and it's run to keep people in ignorance of what's happening. But I had hoped that even such a miserable press would ask questions about a world incident that is closely connected to Moncton.

Several days ago, the news broke that FIFA is ridden with corruption, has been for a long time, and that it routinely takes bribes from countries and cities that want to host their games.

 Moncton is hosting some of its games.  Did it not occur to any editor to trace the history of this arrangement? Or did they simply figure that FIFA wouldn't dare ask New Brunswick or Moncton for a bribe because both have a strong reputation for transparent honesty? or that no-one in the tourism industry would ever tolerate such bevaviour?

Cheaply run, incompetent, trivial, propagandizing....I thought when I moved here that this was the worst press I  had ever seen. But it has actually become worse, much worse, in recent months.


  1. Dear Graeme Decarie:

    I'm back in New Brunswick again, causing trouble as usual. That's the bad news. The good news is that you're still alive and still causing trouble.

    Thank you.

    In addition to the fact that Capitalism without war is like a river without water, the Benighted States of Amnesia's debt to the People's Republic of China is now pushing what -- something like 1.3 trillion? I suppose that if the great, lordolatrous kakistocracy south of the parallel could spark a Gulf of Tonkin incident, this would provide a pretext for laying reparations against that claim.

    Meanwhile, our Crapitalist cohorts in barbarism will continue to tighten the thumb screws on Greece. 'Do as we say, not as we do' comes to mind.

    Proud Socialist

  2. A Gulf of Tonkin incident is the kind of disaster that scares me about the South China Sea.
    However, it is most certainly worth remembering the huge indebtedness of the US - so great that it can probably never be paid. So, what to do?

    Kill the people you owe it to. Debt settled. would they murder so many people just to avoid paying a debt?

    Well, so far, they've shown no reluctance to kill people by the millions.

  3. A Gulf of Tonkin incident is the kind of disaster that scares me about the South China Sea.
    However, it is most certainly worth remembering the huge indebtedness of the US - so great that it can probably never be paid. So, what to do?

    Kill the people you owe it to. Debt settled. would they murder so many people just to avoid paying a debt?

    Well, so far, they've shown no reluctance to kill people by the millions.