Monday, June 22, 2015

June 22: Story of the Year

It's tough to be a news editor. You have to keep up on world events, and you really have to be able to analyze them to decide what's important and what's trivial, what's propaganda and what's true. We live in a world filled with news that's propaganda, lies, and trivia. But you can't fool the news editors at Irving press.

Like all of us, they know all the stories about shattered societies, tens of millions of refugees, more tens of millions dying of hunger and preventable disease, of Latin American and African children forced to work in mines from the age of five. They know US big business wants a nuclear war with Russia. They know that Saudi Arabia, one of the richest countries in the world is pounding Yemen, one of the poorest, with bombs courtesy of the US and Britain. And they know that bombing has, almost from the earliest days of aircraft, been the worst killer of civilians. (But if you're rich, the easiest way to win a war is by bombing civilians.)  They also know that Saudi Arabia is killing civilians, also on the cheap and using the navy, by making it impossible for them to get food and medical supplies.

They know the US is illegally murdering civilians by the thousands with drones. Some estimates place the proportion of civilians killed at 90%. It also, illegally and along with others such as Britain and Israel, employs murderers for hire. But it's okay because they call them special ops. They're very useful in Latin America where radicals are making dangerous demands for things like salaries they can live on, education, democracy..

The more intelligent ones also know why this is happening. It's because uncontrolled capitalism is doing to the world exactly what we did to our native peoples. It is looting the world, stealing its land and resources, destroying the environment and, most dangerous of all, destroying whole societies and cultures.

You think it's difficult to remedy things for native peoples? Most of the world is in the position of our native peoples. Not surprisingly, billions hate us.

But the nice thing about uncontrolled capitalism is that it treats its own society in the same way. That's why Americans are suffering unemployment and hunger and hopelessness that we seldom hear about.Education is becoming unattainable; and that is getting worse as  public schools and universities are taken over by private business  And it's happening in Canada, too. Indeed, much of the western world is in the process of destroying its own societies just as we have destroyed those of our native peoples,  Africa, and Asia, and much of South America.

But it's important to stay calm. So the Irving press editors don't mention any of this. It also helps them to keep their jobs. Let's start with B6, the last page of Canada&World.

"Quest to understand millenials includes includes weekly vocabulary tips at Taco Bell"
 Yes, the highly paid execs at Taco Bell are teaching their minimum wage clerks how to keep up with the latest slang. And the newest Apple store in New York has preserved the building's old light fixtures. The news YOU need to know.

Above these gems is a big story about what it's like to be a pilot on a solar-powered plane.

On B5, Detroit police are investigating a shooting. Hey, guys! Detroit police are always investigating a shooting.

B4 has a half page story about the meeting of heads of the world's major news agencies with Putin. But there's nothing in the story except subtle and not so subtle put-downs of Putin. It says, for example, "He blames the West for 'coup d'etat' in Kyev." Well, why that hint that there was no coup d'etat?  Ukraine had an elected government. It was overthrown by violence. That's what is called a coup d'etat. And the coup was financed and organized by the US. The woman who managed it told that to a congressional committee.

"Putin's beating of the patriotic drum" keeps his approval rating at 80 percent. Well. For a start, don't all politicians beat the patriotic drum? Does Harper say Canadians are stupid cowards? Does Obama say he hates the US?

And - how does the reporter know that beating the drum is what keeps his popularity high?  Maybe Russians approve of him.  It's unethical for a reporter to pretend that his opinion is a news item. Then there's the line that Russia is isolated in the world. Oh? It's on good terms with China, India, Iran, a good deal of Latin America and, in Europe with Greece, and with regions of Africa. We are more isolated than Russia is.  This report, by The Canadian Press, says nothing, is moronic, sometimes unethical, and heavily propagandist. What does that tell you about the news editor who decided this was worth half a page?

B1 has two stories that are informative, one on a mine project in New Brunswick. It's better written that is the usual case in this paper; but it could have used some tougher questions about the dangers of the mine. The Gallant government has already pronounced in favour of it; so I smell a rat.

At the bottom of B1 is a story that a suspect in a police killing in a police killing in New Orleans has been arrested....  Mr. News Editor, there really are bigger stories out there. Do you chose your stories by spinning a bottle?

The lead story on A1 isn't really news. It's small town boosterism. There's also a big story about the run to raise money for the families of RCMP officers. That's good. But the Irving press has done nothing to tell us how it happened that those officers were sent, poorly equipped, to face a man armed with a combat rifle. Nor do we know how Bourque was able to get those weapons - and where he got them. Nor has anybody asked whether our gun laws need tightening. Or why Harper destroyed the long gun registry, denying police the power to know who in their district has such weapons. Did the federal Conservatives get a campaign donation for that from arms industry?

It's very nice of the people of Moncton to turn out and run to raise money for the families of police who were killed on that day. It would be a lot more useful for the police and for us to demand answers to the obvious questions, and to demand government action to address the gun problem.

A4 has news and photos of two school graduations - with the usual quotations from the usual people.
But the one at the bottom of the page looks more interesting. The Scottish Rite Foundation Learning Centre in Riverview graduated two students who can now move to high school level. That's interesting because the centre deals with children who have dyslexia. The quotations from the two show the have made considerable progress This is impressive.

(I presume, but don't know, that the Scottish Rite part of this group's name indicates it is connected to the Masonic Order.)

The editorial is a long one - quite an achievement considering the editorial writer really had nothing to say. Norbert Cunningham has a solid piece on the Senate.

Craig Babstock has a column on drunk driving. Apparently, he's against it. The column is also a pitch for a federal Conservative bill to increase the punishment for drunk driving. Look, In this country's history, we have hanged people. We have tied them to teams of horses that tore them to shreds. The US has done the same. It has more people in prison than any other country on earth. (And it also has more crime.) I have known more than a few criminals who did time. They did not come out as better people. Though it appeals to the sort of people who think that Harper is a great leader, getting tough does not cut down on crime. In short, this column is about a solution we know won't work (It also provides no evidence whatever for its claim that drunk driving is epidemic.)
I would suggest if might be wise to get far more information on what is happening and what treatment is feasible. Meanwhile, ranting about punishment is just - ranting.

Steve Malloy has the sort of column I really don't think should be commentary because it's  not a commentary but just a personal story.  But I would have to be the devil himself (or herself) to criticize this one. It's about Father's day, and it's well done.

Alec Bruce is a bit on the light side with the tale of a distinguished academic who publicly made a sexist remark about women.  Bruce analyzes the reactions nicely. As Bruce hints (I think) the anger at his comment is much overdone. It was a slip. But it certainly was not a vicious or even degrading attack. Besides, we all have gender prejudices - even women. And we all make such slips.

With few exceptions, this is a disappointing issue, even by Irving press standards. There is no sense of the crises we are facing. For at least four hundred years, what we call capitalism (but which is really murder and theft) has been allowed to run wild. It has destroyed societies all over the world, among our native peoples, among Asians, among Africans, and now among us.

It destroyed communism, true enough - but in both Russia and China that destruction gave rise to a false capitalism just like ours. That false capitalism has all but destroyed democracy - first through its corruption of politicians, then through its almost open seizure of power. It has also made democracy impossible by using private news media (like the Irving press) to withhold the truth that democracy must feed on.

All that has created movements, often extreme ones and very violent ones - as in the Middle East. So far, the western world has been pretty passive. But that won't last because the greed that our economic leaders have used to loot the world is now being turned on us. If this goes on, violence is a certainty and, as violence often does, it will likely to go to extremes - just as ISIL has. (We are all humans; and we all act much the same way.)

Since 1945, our false capitalism has been driven by a greed as great and as foolish (perhaps as insane) as any this world has known. But don't think about it. Just read the Irving press, and you won't have to think at all.

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