Monday, September 21, 2015

Sept. 21: Should I get off the Irving press and onto news analysis?

Again, there is almost nothing to say about the Irving press. The front page headline “Gallant's lessons after year in office” has nothing in it. It's an interview with premier Gallant in which he drops pearls of wisdom like----like nothing. He says nothing at all except that being p.m. makes him humbled and he's doing his best and it's all for New Brunswick. This is a nothing headline on a nothing story.

The reporter makes a few comments of his own, but does not seem to have pressed any questions.

And the next, big front-;age story is that four objects in Centennial Park – a fighter jet, a tank, a steam engine and an anchor are going to get cleaned up. Must of the rest of section A news consists of big photos.

Oh, and A6 has a weekly column on education which, I would guess, it gets free from the Anglophone East school district. This one is about volunteer support from parents and business. The examples given are not impressive – and some are disturbing. We rely on volunteers to feed children who don't get breakfast at home? And to buy them school supplies? Volunteers?  Look, these things are essential if those children are to get even a chance at education. I can remember many a school day with little, if any, breakfast or lunch. It's an experience that makes the days unpleasant but, more to the point, it places you in your own mind as one of those born at the bottom of the heap and intended to stay there. The education damage is profound, and often permanent.

And our system allows this crucial function to be left to volunteers?

The editorial is a brainless booster for a lobster roll festival. I wonder if this editorial writer will ever write one that isn't inspired by looking out a window of the newspaper office.

Norbert has a decent column, and one which has implications for understanding the history of governments in this province. But the best reading on the page is Letters to the editor. All of them are worth reading and thinking about.

Craig Babcocks “City View” column is only for those----damned if I know who it can be for. It goes beyond trivia.

Steve Malloy raises an important question about our schools. Apparently, they have been sending forms to parents asking them to give certain data, including the child's gender _ male, female, or gender independent. I think Anglophone East School District has questions to answer about this. For a start, how many parents would know? And how many children would even understand the questions? And what does the school district intend to do with those answers? As a teacher, I taught many who were 'gender different' But I never found that required any difference in how I taught them.
Canada&World began with a story that struck me as bizarre appearing as it did in the lead of a section dealing with Canada and World. It's about public school fees in New Brunswick. Apparently, they vary a great deal across the province but, in many cases they are substantial – for books, paper, pencils, pens….

These aren't for special field trips. Most are for basic supplies. Why are students paying for these? The concept of public schools was that they were for all children – and so all children, including poor ones, could have solid educations.

The concept arose in Scotland several centuries ago, primarily to serve the religious need for all Protestants to be able to read The Bible. They were in direct contrast to private schools (which the English, in their contrariness, called public schools) which provided education only to the wealthy. The result was a Scotland that, by the nineteenth century, far surpassed modern New Brunswick in literacy. The result as an explosion of inventors, writers, business leaders, economists, philosophers that led the world. It's no accident that Scots Presbyterians had a profound effect on both Canada and the U.S. Indeed, they were the major force in creating the public schools of North America.

And there were no fees because fees exclude many children and, by university age, even exclude most of them.

Why are we turning our back on all that? Public education is what has made the modern world possible. Public education is why we have all the doctors and technicians and scientists and thinkers and teachers we have today. Very, very few come from private schools.

Public schooling may well be the greatest creator of wealth and the greatest force for creating higher levels of general income than this world has ever known. Why are we sticking fees into it?

Oh, I know. Moncton needs a new hockey rink for a hundred million. And we don't want to embarrass the very, very wealthy by asking them to pay taxes. After all, they work hard for their money – not like those poor people that Norbert refers to as 'lazy'.

I haven't found any "leader" in New Brunswick, either in politics or journalism, who understand that New Brunswick is made up of people. We get very little discussion of what it takes to develop a society, to develop people.  Instead, we get a series of fast buck schemes that are supposed to build our future. They won't. New Brunswick is made up of people. Access to the fullest possible educaton - for people - to public discussion and debate - for people -  to intellectual enrichment - for people- These are what create a society and prosperity.

After that, Canada and World is pretty much a wipeout. B3 has a big story about a retirement party for a cat who has been keeping rats off a ship for fifteen years. B4 has the paper's third story about a student at Memorial University whose teacher refuses to allow him to use a hearing device in class. This third story says nothing that wasn't in the first two.

B3 has a headline “Refugees find relief from brutal ISIS rule”. I have no doubt that ISIS rule is brutal. But have you ever seen the headline, “Saudia Arabia and U.S. make brutal attacks with bombers” or “U.S. and Britain make brutal attacks with drones, depleted uranium shells, cluster bombs, napalm, and Agent Orange” or even "Saudi Arabia brutally executes hundreds every year by beheading, even for minor crimes.”

Of course not. Writing a headline foro the Irvinig press is a deliberate device to make the enemy evil. And there's other loading in here. Note that the story, but not the headline, says it's based on questioning ONLY those refugees who fled from ISIS. But why question just them? Why not question ALL the refugees? If ISIS are the only bad guys, how come all those other millions are fleeing? Could it possibly be they are fleeing OUR bombers? Our hired mercenaries who it pleases our news media to call 'rebels'? Could they be fleeing ALL the gangs and killers that our side trained, equipped, and paid for?

This isn't reporting. This is propaganda. And the editor cooperated in propaganda with that headline.

B2 has similar story about the pope's visit to Cuba. Half of the story is devoted to how some Cubans are unhappy with life in Cuba because they have to live on minimal incomes. And this is propaganda – turning the pope's visit into a chance to attack Cuba.

Of course, Cuba is poor. It has for decades been under trade sanctions imposed by the U.S. It has deliberately been isolated, and cut off from markets. Castro didn't do that. The U.S. did that. When the U.S. controlled Cuba through a dictator and his thugs (with wide use of murder and torture), most Cubans were poor, and were deliberately kept that way to provide cheap labour for American corporations – just like Haiti. But, despite the handicaps imposed by sanctions, Castro Cuba has been able to to offer far better medical service than the US does to its own people. And they have free education all the way through university. This is in a country which had virtually no education at all under U.S. control.

For over fifty years (and all the years of dictatorship before that), the U.S. has bullied, invaded, bombed, and impoverished tiny Cuba. And here we're getting a news item that puts all the blame on Cuba. That is what is called propaganda.

So, why is the U.S. interested in 'normalizing' relations with Cuba? Well, it has nothing to do with good-heartedness. Since the early nineteenth century, the U.S. has sought dominance over the economies in all of Latin America. It stole much of Texas and California and more from Mexico. It has invaded almost every nation in Latin America since then – establishing dictators and puppets, murdering elected leaders, setting up fake revolutions, and impoverishing the people to make them cheap labour in brutal conditions.

That dominance is now being threatened as Latin America is turning against what I can safely call U.S, brutality, murder, abuse…. The example set by Cuba has, for over fifty years, been an inspiration of Latin Americans. Castro won. And the long campaign by the U.S. to destroy him has failed. That's why the U.S. is now making nice, hoping to get Cuba back to the 'good old days' when it was ruled by U.S. dictators.

As I look at the choice of stories and of headlines in this section, I cannot believe the editors are honest journalists. This quality of mixing propaganda and trivia is too calculated to be attributed to stupidity. This is deliberate.

Oh, they also missed a big story connected with the Pope's visit to Cuba. He spoke of dealing with climate change. Many Republican candidates in the U.S. are angry at what he said. They reply that the pope should stick to religion, and leave science to---get this----those scientists who say climate change isn't happening. (The pope, by the way, has a master's degree in science.)

The candidates are saying that because oil money pays them well to say that. We aren't getting much action on climate change because big oil doesn't want it – ever. We are seeing long term commitments to fossil fuel right here with a pipeline deal for the north-eastern US, with drilling planned for the Arctic, and with Corridor Resources and its buddies opening up a campaign in New Brunswick. You don't spend that kind of money if you are expecting world consumption to go down. They're looking for demand to be high for decades to come. And they really don't give a damn what you think.

Watch for them next summer. And watch for those RCMP in camouflage suits and with combat rifles. Welcome to The Fourth Reich.

Oh, there's a sort of amusing story on B1 As Harper argues we need the U.S.F-35 fighter to defend Canada. And Trudeau says we need a better navy. Neither is clear on why we need them – though Harper suggests our 6 fighter-bombers in Iraq are defending us. (If so, why did he send just six?)

Anyway, Harper made a hash of the F-35 deal a long time ago. And that was lucky for him. The F-35 programme is collapsing under design and performance problems so that nobody seems to want it but Harper. It's also one of the most hideously expensive aircraft ever. Worse, there are better aircraft already in service in Russia and China.

As to the navy, before you build ships, you have to decide who they are going to fight, and how. Otherwise, the programme just becomes a boondoggle like the current shipbuilding programme.

Dreadful, dreadful paper.

And, I'm sorry. I meant to get away from the Irving press, and talk seriously about what's going on in the Middle East. It is possible that Putin is outplaying Obama in his handling of it. And Putin may have more allies in the region than we realize. As well, the U.S. is increasing its defence spending which is already the heaviest in the world. Why?

Well, it's possible that U.S. military and industrial leaders have decided the U.S. can only go down from here -----unless it can all be fixed very soon with a world war.

And, for something worth reading, check out the sites below sent to me by a reader.

I'm a bit lost. The Irving press is so bad that most of it isn't worth commenting on. Every copy is mostly trivia and propaganda. And that seems to be quite deliberate. And it takes so long to point that out every day that there's no time to look an analysis. I'm thinking of dramatically reducing the space I give to the irving press, and increasing the analyis.


  1. I would focus on one story each day, identify why the Irving story is deficient, and provide the appropriate context for what a proper news article would look like.

    For example, you have this: "The front page headline “Gallant's lessons after year in office” has nothing in it. It's an interview with premier Gallant in which he drops pearls of wisdom like----like nothing."

    So - add to this. What should he have learned after his first year in office? What pointed questions should we be asking him? What data or trends are we seeing that should inform both the questions and the answers? What have other people been saying about this?

  2. Yes get off the Irving press. They can't stand anyone showing how deliberate they are at keeping New Brunswickers ignorant of what really happens in the world.

    All kidding aside, your critical look at the Irving Press in your column is actually entertaining and informative. Keep up the Good fight.