Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sept. 17: Another trivia day in the Irving press....

We'll go quickly through the Irving “news” of the day.

The lead story on P.1 is a real, lead story. It's about a daycare which was closed abruptly, and done in such a secretive fashion by the government that we are left wondering what this is all about. Employees were fired; parents were in a quandary – and nobody seems to know what it's all about. Underlying it all is a hint that the provincial government was very slack, indeed, in dealing with the situation – whatever it is. We should be demanding a full explanation – and soon.

Below it is another black eye for the provincial government as two schools in the Moncton area that were undergoing renovations were not ready for the new, school year. That suggests either poor planning or not giving much of a damn.

But those two stories are pretty much it for all of section A news.

The Oland trial is on p. 1, and I can see we will be getting day by day front page coverage of this. And that is just sensationalism. More to the point would be a story on why JDIrving Ltd. paid a large settlement for the Lac Megantic disaster. As a rule, innocent billionaires don't pay large settlements.

In other fast-breaking news, a local village misses its grocery store which closed. Volunteers are helping to lay fresh sod in a local park. And there are two photos to show us what volunteers laying sod look like.

The editorial shows its usual courage in tackling a subject of great importance and controversy – the restoration of the former Moncton High school building. The is crucial, says the editorial because---because –- well –-it's old. And maybe we can do things with it like---well--you know….

Norber writes a column about how unpopular the provincial government is because it has not solved our economic problems. In the same column, it's obvious that Norbert doesn't have any solution, either. And both he and the government suffer from the same problem. In the minds of both, there is no room for looking at the role of the very rich in creating our economic problems.

Rod Allen writes about the local wine industry but, alas, has nothing to say. Surprisingly, even Alec Bruce has nothing to say.

The only commentary worth reading is the guest commentary about what the John Howard Society is doing to provide homes for the homeless and the disadvantaged. This is a commentary both interesting an encouraging. And it's not a coincidence that it is the only one whose focus is on people.
Section B is worse.

The banner headline for Canada&World news is that the province of New Brunswick is hiring a physician recruitment co-ordinator. Now, I yield to none in my admiration for governments that hire physician recruitment co-ordinators. But I would humbly suggest this is not a major item of Canada or world news.

Most of the front page is covered with photos and a story about the murder of a father and his two-year old daughter in Alberta. This was also front page of this section yesterday. They're milking this story – and that's sensationalism

On B2, the big flash is that some streets and houses in Havana are being cleaned up in preparation for a Papal visit. This, its seems, is the most important news coming out of Cuba. It's worded to give the impression that this is all part of a typical and evil communist plot. ( Lord, I wish these journalists would learn what 'communist' means.)

In fact, it's not unusual for host countries to do this sort of thing. And it's surely not the most important thing to know about the Papal visit. And, if they have space to run this nothing story in the paper, how come they can't find any space for stories about the poverty and brutality – and murder – imposed on much of South America by Canadian and American capitalists. (Of course, they'd first have to look up the meaning of capitalist.)

Funny – there are almost never any stories about South America or the Caribbean states, though all of them are blessed with North American capitalism.

Then, on B6, of 'Canada&World” news, there's “Air Canada pilot diverts flight to ensure dog's safety” Ah-h-h.

Oh, and there's also a big story that Harper may go to the Supreme Court to ensure that devout Muslim women remove the Nigab that covers their faces. He says we have to see their faces to be sure of their identity. Damn right. They could really all be terrorists. (Uh – what do terrorist faces look like. And, anyway, how would removing the nigab improve the judge's knowledge of who they are? After all the citizenship judge who hears the oath has usually never seen the person before.)

No. I think Harper has the right idea; but it needs development – something like...all people taking the oath of citizenship should have to take it while naked. (And we could charge admission for spectators.)

Almost all in this paper is trivial. There can be no doubt that editors for the Irving papers deliberately ignore major news, and search for the trivial and the sensational. This is gutter journalism.
Recently, I was watching a TV debate among U.S. Republicans running for the leadership. The main debating point? It was the threat of raping Mexicans crossing the border to take jobs from Americans. As it happens I have a relative who lives in a region with a great many of those Mexican immigrants. He tells me they get only the most menial jobs that Americans don't want. And they get even those jobs because employers know they can get away with paying them next to nothing. If there are villains here, surely they are those American employers.

Up here, the latest election issue is Muslim women wearing the higab as they take the citizenship oath.

These are issues that play on racism and fear and hatred. And it is these issues that a great many Canadians and Americans will base their votes on. And these are issues that have nothing to do with the problems we face.

Biased and ignorant and trivial news media have a lot of responsibility for that. The Irving press is one of the worst – perhaps even the worst. But bias, ignorance and triviality are staples of North American news consumption.

Here, in New Brunswick, we badly need to know how much (or how little) our wealthy actually pay in taxes to the province. We have to know why the wage gap is out of control. We have to know how much our government gives away to corporations in loans, grants, cheap prices, and boondoggles like Private/Public partnerships. We have to know how much of their profit is hidden.

But we don't. And the Irving press never mentions the issue – just as it rarely mentions any issue of importance.

In a way – and let's be frank – this sort of thing is built into the New Brunswick mentality. Originally, the powerful and wealthy of New Brunswick were those who had the timber contracts. The election candidates were usually them or their puppets. On election day, the voter had to step up to the voting station, and say in a loud, clear voice who he was voting for. Everybody knew who everybody else voted for. And the timber bosses knew. And anyone who voted for the wrong candidate knew he could never find a job here again.

As a result, non-thinking became a provincial characteristic, reinforced by village life in which having any opinion about anything could create enemies among one's neighbours.

The role of the Irving press is to preserve this. And that, at least, it does well.

We need to know where political parties get their money from. I don't suggest here that all or even most politicians are corrupt. (Some are, of course, and leave politics a lot richer than they were before.) Some are honest. Some are in politics simply to tickle their own egos. And many accept a sort of honest corruption. They seek large donations from the rich, knowing that these donations are intended to buy them. They justify it to themselves as something our form of democracy makes necessary if you want to win – and that, at least, is quite true. Spending on elections is out of control – with two results.

Parties that are based on principles have a hard time trying to win. Parties with no principles routinely do well. And that means that parties with principles often have to soft pedal those principles if they want to win.

That's why, in the U.S., democracy ceased to exist a long time ago. And it's in serious trouble in Canada.

We, in Canada, particularly have to know how American policies affect us and our place in the world. Small in population, we now depend on the U.S. for protection. But there's a problem in that. The U.S. has no interest in protecting anybody. Dominated as it by corporations, it exists to conquer and exploit ( including us – just as it exploits its own people.)

As a very junior partner, we are invited to join the U.S. in conquest and exploitation. Our corporations support that because it ensures they get a place at the trough. But we don't get much news on that. We don't get news on why it was necessary for us – or anybody – to bomb Libya. ( Oh, I know, I know. Ghadaffi was a bad man. So was Bush. So is Obama. So is the king of Saudi Arabia. But we don't bomb them.)

We get no news of what Ukraine is really all about. Or Syria. Or Yemen. We still don't know why Bush and Blair lied in order to invade Iraq.

Ukraine, like Greece, has been bled dry by international bankers. The people of those countries no longer have any control over their own affairs. And it is very likely the greatest threat to the Kyev government is not Russia. It is that country's strong, neo-Nazi movement. As well the latest free trade deals – and some of the old ones – effectively deprive nations of the right to control their own environment and their own economies.

Western Europe, the home of collapsed empires, has many countries in economic trouble – and some, like Spain, in danger of breaking up. The British Labour Party has just chosen a very radical leader – in response to a wealthy class which has privatized many public services like police and schools, and has allowed large numbers of British to get poor so the rich can get even richer.

U.S. corporations have made the Caribbean, Central America, and much of South America into places where people live in poverty and ignorance, and die young. Some countries are polluted beyond repair in anybody's lifetime. U.S. killer squads are active in any country which objects. And Canadians are partners in all this.

The U.S. has made it clear it wants war with Russia. But it almost certainly cannot beat Russia in a conventional war. Luckily for all human life, the U.S. is now tied up in fighting ISIS which, I suspect, it also cannot beat – partly because the American people, though some love talking about war, have not been crazy about supporting war since Vietnam. Even hero George Bush Jr. who just loves to swagger in his bomber jacket was a draft dodger. Anyway, that may not matter since the U.S. also seems to be helping ISIS to destroy Syria – which is what this fighting was all about from the start.

Now we are asked to be indignant that China is claiming some islands off its coast. In fact this is the way the U.S. got Hawaii – which is a lot more than just off the coast.

It's quite obvious that the U.S. is training its army and its police in case they have to fight a war against the American people.

The U.S., which decreed, after World War Two, that Japan would never be allowed to have anything but a home defence force, has recently ordered Japan to boost ifs forces to invasion status. The Japanese people don't want to. But the U.S. gives them no choice. And there are only two, possible targets for such an invasion – China and Russia.

All this is just a very small part of what is going on in the world. And the rest of the world is no longer far away from us. This is no longer the world of 1800 – or even 2000. But scarcely a word about any of this has ever appeared in the Irving press. Of course not; its purpose is to keep us unthinking and meekly obedient – just as in the old days when the timber bosses told us who to vote for.

For the sake of their children and for their own sakes, New Brunswickers have to demand the right to more information, and they have to develop that fundamental courage – the courage to say what they think.

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