Saturday, July 18, 2015

July 19: Why. it isn't oil and at all. It's bitumen. Oh, that makes it different.

The Irving press at last has the story of the oil spill. But the reporter managed to write the whole story without calling it oil. ( I mean, why alarm people for no reason at all?)    And what is bitumen?

Well, when it hardens, it's called tar. When it's more liquid and is going through pipes, it's called oil - perhaps still heavy oil at that stage, but oil. Sometimes, the Alberta oil fields are called the tar sands - and that's why.  But would you ask at your local gas station if you can fill up your car with bitumen?
So why use that word in a news story?

Well, you don't use it at the gas station because the attendant would say, "Sorry. We don't have any of that bitu-stuff. We just sell gas." But you don't use it in a news story when you don't want people to get the full meaning of the story.

That's why not a single environmentalist was interviewed for the story. It's all company officials and regulators. And it's all so reassuring. The spill, we are told, was capped as soon as it was discovered. Okay.

And how soon was that? Ten minutes? A week? More?

And we are assured it didn't flow into a body of water. Well, it did spill into wetlands - but that's not at all the same. And it's in a remote area; so no residences were affected. Well, if no residences were affected, it doesn't matter. It'll only affect plants, wildlife, and, yeah, some water and fish.

We are casually told the spill is the worst in the last several years. That's nice. And just how many spills were there in those several years? And how big were they? And did they get into fresh water anywhere? And what effect have they had?

But I guess the reporter didn't want to bother important people with a whole lot of silly questions.

So I checked the editorial and commentary pages for fuller discussion of what happened. I mean, they would surely be offering comment since this is an issue of special importance and debate (if not reporting) in this province.

On the editorial page, Norbert has a very fair and reasonable column on assisted suicide. There's also an excellent letter about how our military veterans in long term care are being abused by the shift to privatize food and cleaning services for the soldiers that we piously claim will never be forgotten. But the only people who seem to remember them are the business vultures who give them terrible cleaning, inedible food - and who cost more than the public service they used to have. The Irving press is sure not to follow up this story and let us know what's happening. Mr. Irving wouldn't like that.

Brent Mazerrole, once again, gives us a shallow commentary that really says nothing significant about anything. That's not a criticism of him. It's a criticism of Irving being cheap, and using reporters to write commentaries. You need specialists to do that, specialists trained in the fields they comment on.

Otherwise, all you get, and this paper has proven it many times, is trivial stories. It could be done cheaply by buying columns (like Gwynne Dyer's) for the whole chain. Judging by the advertising, these papers make lots of money. But the shortage of commentators and reporters suggests terminal cheapness at the top.

I have just been to the library to return a book by Gwynne Dyer which is a collection of his columns which Dyer also has the integrity to add discussion of where he was wrong on some points he made. I was surprised at some of the mistakes. (I thought these were mistakes he should have recognized as he wrote them.) But we all make mistakes, and I still think Dyer the best in the business of foreign affairs and the military. And I certainly agree with his conclusion in today's column that the    US agreement with Iran  will change nothing in the middle east. It's all part of a mess that was created when Vice-president Cheney, representing the oil industry, told a president who was the village idiot to invade Iraq. Since then, it's become much worse. And it's not going to get better as long as the oil barons are calling the shots.

Then, at last, Bill Belliveau mentions the " bitumen" spill (and actually calling it oil) - but only in one sentence. And the only conclusion it comes to is blaming the politicians. I don't buy that.

The politicians are, certainly, a wretched lot. But we have two parties that are owned by the very, very rich who make vultures look like Florence Nightingales. And those two parties have enjoyed almost all political power in this country for 150 years. Even now, after all the evidence of lying and corruption and illegality - not to mention the sell-out of Canada - the Conservatives could win the next election with special thanks to the voters of the Atlantic provinces. Even now, the Liberals are still within striking distance though the party is still dreadfully weak in its candidates, and dreadfully weak in its leadership.

And how can this happen?. Well, I don't know about the rest of Canada, but the people of Atlantic Canada are afraid of their own shadows. I think that's why they make no effort to be informed -because that might make them different from their neighbours - and God forbid they should be different.

And you add to that newspapers owned by a person who uses them to trivialize and to propagandize.

For an example of glorifying the trivial and kissing up, turn to A4 for a big photo and a half page story (that makes it one of the bigggest stories in the paper) on  how two Irvings donated their cottage to a Wesleyan Bible camp. (It makes me want to rush this Sunday to the Irving Chapel, with it's "special music" by the Perry Trio. Perhaps I might be permitted to join them for a chorus that links the faith to entrepreneurship......
"My brother's a street missionary.
He saves all young ladies from sin.
He'll save you a blonde for five dollars.
My God, how the money rolls in."

There is, again, no world news to speak of, and little of any sort in the section called Canada&World.

The US, daily bombs with its drones in whatever country it feels like bombing that day. That kills, as nearly as I can understand from limited reports, more innocent people than terrorists. Many, many more. It's illegal. But the U.S. is the only country in the world that is allowed to do illegal things. It's called American Exceptionalism. (And that's their term, not mine.)

It supplies bombs to Saudi Arabia to be dropped on innocent people, all of them among the poorest in the world.

Canada is killing people in Iraq and Syria - and we have almost no news about what we have been doing these countries that are none of our business. We are there, as we are in Ukraine and the Baltic Sea because we are an American colony. The British handed us over between the two world wars,borrowed us back for World War Two, then dumped us again.

The US is supplying Islamic terrorists with money and weapons to destroy Syria. But they aren't called terrorists because they're on our side.

Harper is concluding trade deals which mean the end of Canada as a distinct nation of any sort, and which surrender control of our  economy and our environment - which means just about everything.

Yes, what happens across Canada and  around the world does affect us. Greece is the model for what our capitalists intend to impose on the world and on us and, for that matter, on the U.S. The oil barons of this world - Canadian, American, Russian, Saudi Arabian become proud champions of their country only when they need us to get killed. Otherwise, they have nothing but eontempt for us or for the governments they buy.

The world has become much, must worse since World War Two. Everything we thought (and are still told) we fought for has gone. And the keys to that enormous loss have been the major capitalists and the news media they own.

Will it work? Almost certainly not. Almost certainly, it will destroy itself. But that will probably come too late for us.  We need change. We need very radical change. (Don't be afraid of the word "radical". That simply means getting the root of the problem.) We need to get used to looking at news media which tell us the truth about that is happening.  We need to think - and not just try to "fit in".

We need to get angry at the killing we do - and not just at the people who, by fighting back, kill us.

We also need the churches to wake up. Going to church should not mean just getting yourself saved. That attitude, which is almost all I ever see in the sermonettes of the faith page , is if anything, self-serving, selfish,  unChristian and un any religion. (Today's Faith page is a shameless display of  the type, as well as a display of childish thinking.) That seems to be a characteristic of all fundamentalist clergy. Perhaps that's why the Irvings seem to choose only fundamentalists to write for that page.

Since World War 2, the U.S. sometimes with Canadian and other help has killed seven or eight million people - maybe more - in illegal wars. Do the churches have nothing to say about this? Would Jesus have nothing to about that? Or about the tens of millions of refugees we have created? or the even more we have starved, crippled, orphaned, widowed?

(There, there, child, the sermonette would say. Don't fuss about that. Just say you believe in Jesus, and you'll get to go heaven and stroll on the golden streets of the new Jerusalem.)

Finally - Norbert's column was quite decent, yesterday, I think, but had an odd conclusion. He said the last of the living war criminals is now facing justice. He was referring to  an accountant who worked in the death camps. Well, he's probably the last of Nazi war criminals.

But what about George Bush Jr.  (and senior) and Dick Cheney and Tony Blair and all their buddies.who went to war illegally, who lied about the reasons, who killed huge numbers of civilians?  Are war crimes only crimes when the other side does them?

Do a column on that, Norbert. Show your integrity.

Or not.

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