Tuesday, August 11, 2015

August 11: Blah!

The Irving press has actually become worse in the ten or so years I've lived here. But I have never been able to determine the cause. Is it a deliberate attempt to  keep the public in ignorance of what's happening? Is it a stunningly low quality of editorial staff? Is it cheapness on the part of the owner? It is, I suspect, all of these.

As well, the newspapers do nothing to help with the problems facing this province. There is, for example, a very high rate of functional illiteracy in this province. Just one item each day designed for the functionally illiterate could be useful. Similarly, it has, each day, a student columnist - and these columns are usually well written. But they have no focus. They could be used with each columnist having an assigned category - explaining the teen age world to the adult world, (They really are very different, and very different from the teen age world of, say, thirty years ago.) A related one could be teen age perceptions of the adult world. And there could be many variations on these.

News editors are the ones who pick out the stories of the day. That means they have to possess a broad understanding of what is important in local news as well as world news (and I don't think a game of beach soccer between two teen teams at Parlee Beach is in that category.    see. A 10).  Nor do I see the need for long stories from the police and the courts when most of them deal with petty crime.

Then there's a front page story about parking space for the 'events' centre. It will be years before this is even opened -and, if it is opened, we'll be living with it for fifty years or more - and we're still building it, like everything else, around gasoline engine cars and buses. Climate change really is happening. We really haven't changed anything yet and, obviously, this city isn't planning to make any changes for decades to come.

The last page of section A has the usual, big picture of two people holding up a charitable cheque for $400. It's very good of them to have raised the money. But the photo has no news value at all, and uses up a quarter of a page. And, as in most of these photos, the cheque is simply a free ad for the company or group that raised the money.
The editorial, again, is very local. And not very bright. Once again, this is simply a booster shot for the "events' centre that, in turn, is largely a charity gesture for a hockey team owner who doesn't need charity.

And, as always, no writer for the Irving press has ever said a word questioning the value (or lack of value) of this project. And I think I can guarantee that none ever will.

I have never seen an intelligent editorial in this paper. Not in ten years. And I guess I never shall.

Norbert's column is decently written. But he wastes a whole column on the misuse of the term 'old hat'. The misuse of terms often bothers me, too - though I worry more about journalists who don't know the meanings of words like capitalism, socialism, communism, fascism, terrorism, democracy, oligarchy.... I can live with 'old hat'.

Alan Cochrane rarely seems to have a commentary on anything. And today is not an exception as he just tells a pointless story about a scrapyard.

The guest column is by a retired professor who writes about education for aboriginal students. I don't know what his teaching field was -  but it sure as hell wasn't education. He seems to know nothing about it, and nothing about aboriginal peoples.

He concludes with an assertion that this will prevent the best teachers from "getting out" of teaching difficult students. I taught in public schools for six years. And, for the rest of my working life, I was closely involved with the public schools. And I never even heard of the best teachers 'getting out' of teaching difficult students.

He also suggests we hire tutors on  the private market who are university grads (but not trained teachers). He wants tutors for a problem area of teaching - but doesn't care if they have teacher training or experience?

This is drivel. So I was not surprise to read at the end that he is a  Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. Thank you, Mr. Irving.
Canada&World news has nothing much about Canada or the World. In fact, the lead story is still just about how New Brunswick.School districts will be studying 28 schools to decide on closings. I mean ,  we gotta balance the budget.

There is no mention of a similar plan to examine the tax record of the 28 richest people in the province. Nor is there any mention of examining the richest 28 to see what they suck out of the provincial budget. (Hey! There's a topic for a commentary, a real one.)

A disturbing item is on B1 "Harper slams NDP, Liberal anti-terror strategy". In this news item, Harper out-trumps Donald Trump. "Isis...will create millions, tens of millions of refugees and victims on a monthly basis."  Really? Millions and tens of millions per month? Why, even the U.S., the world's biggest killer in the lifetimes of most of us, has never come close to that record.

And, he says, Canada will take in 10,000 refugees over the next four years. By Harper's own words, that's less than one day's killing by Isis. And, of course, the refugees will not be Muslims. No. They will be from religious minorities already in Canada. In other words, he's looking to get votes from Christian and Jewish groups already in Canada for the October election.

And as for his military aid for people getting killed (so he says) at the rate of over a million a day, he is sending the military aid of six (count them, six) fighter planes.

And he had scorn for humanitarian aid as "just dropping aid on dead people". It's not. It's dropping aid on starving and sick people. And note that Harper made no mention of helping the people of  Yemen who are deliberately being starved to death and bombed with U.S. bombs all by the great democracy of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, by the way, our very best friend in the region, is the most severe dictatorship in the world, one that freely uses beheading and whipping and cutting off of hands for even minor offences, It is also the world's third biggest spender on its military.

Nor does Harper mention that he is taking the same position on ISIS as Donald Trump. The only difference is that Trump is honest about it. He admits he admits this is about oil - not people.

Trump is an ego that needs constant attention. Harper is something much worse. In any case, Isis did NOT start the fighting in Syria. That was the U.S. I'll have more on ISIS later on.

There really is nothing in the rest of Canada&World unless you really care that kids in the U.S. are being encouraged to interview their grandparents , and send the interviews to be filed at the Library of Congress. There's also a big, big story on whether Toronto can make a bid for the Olympic Games.

So let's move to some real news.

There is, for example, the story of a detention centre in Chicago - more like a warehouse, really. It holds thousands of people arrested for minor offices. There, they can be held without charge, without trial for very long periods of questioning - possibly of torture. Only three have ever seen an attorney.

82% of the inmates are Black.


The Irving press has a long story on the racial protests in Ferguson, Missouri. Funny it never mentioned the public presence of men who were not police. They were civilians wearing flak jackets and carrying military rifles. They belong to a volunteer group called the Oath Keepers, the sort of people who believe everybody should have the right to keep and bear arms. And, of course, they were all  white.

I found that story in RT, which is a Russian news site. It's a propaganda site, of course. But I've noticed it's smart enough to use the truth as propaganda - which is much smarter than most of our news media.

The next item is about ISIS and its U.S. connection. It's from a source I treat with caution. But the reporter in this one is a good one - and his  interview subject is very, very credible. And the story is not a surprising one.

The U.S. played a major role in creating ISIS. It also played a major role in creating and training Al Quaeda, as well as guerilla groups all over Central America. The U.S. trained and armed the Aghani it later went to war against.  Before it invaded Iraq, it had kept Saddam Hussein in power for years, and had supplied him with weapons, including poison gas, to attack Iran. The same with Ghaddafi in Libya.  It's an old game. The British played it for centuries - and still do on occasion.



Then there's a story in USA Today, a source even Harper would trust. It lists 6 countries which are defaulting of close to defaulting on their debts. They are Greece, Belarus, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Venezuela, Belize - and Ukraine which now has the lowest credit rating in the world. These are not all the countries that are in trouble - just the ones in the worst state. And note that none of them is noted for spending much on social services or education or health.

No. You want to know where all that borrowed money went? I can only guess because our news media never discuss where the money went. Ukraine is defaulting not because of the poor but because of the rich. The rich, especially bankers, have stripped that country bare. All the best land was confiscated over a year ago - a gift to international capitalists. The same seems to be true of Greece. Around the world, the very rich don't pay taxes. They take but never give - unless there's photo op in it for them looking like philanthropists. They don't pay much in  taxes but, oh, they ask a lot in government help.

The U.S. has an unpayable debt. And it has little to do with services for the American people because most of the services aren't there. The debt is partly because of massive corruption in government and big business and partly because of the cost of wars to give capitalists control of world oil supply, and of all world markets. The latter is what the Middle East is all about.

With all the evidence of climate change, we are spending vast sums not on producing safer energy, but on pumping even more carbon dioxide in to the atmosphere, and destroying even more land and water. The oil billionaires have no intention of stopping. And we have lots of politicans  (and voters) so dumb and so irresponsible as to allow them to do it.

The following site was sent to me by a reader. It's about a book on Stephen Harper. The author of the book is someone I do not always agree with. But this time, I think he's bang on. Canada now has the most dangerous and destructive leadership we have ever known. The U.S. is even worse - and the U.S. has no alternative party. Both Democrats and Republicans really from the same hymn book.

By the way, isn't Harper the one who gave us a law against hate speech?  He's the man who does the most of it.


Then there's a site that organizes petitions. You might want to sign. If you don't, it still has important
new about the Trans-Pacific Partnership - a sort of poisoned free trade deal.

In general, we are watching a world in which a distorted form of capitalism is running wild like a dog with rabies. If it succeeds, it will make us all miserable - and perhaps dead. We are also watching societies   crumble as the rabid dog runs loose. That is clearly what is happening in the U.S.

Note to Norbert - please find out the meaning of capitalist, and write a column on it.

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