Saturday, January 2, 2016

Jan. 2: Watch for the subtle differences...

In this case The Guardian and the Moncton Times and Transcript (via The Asssociated Press) were reporting on exactly the same story at the same time. But the starting point in The Guardian was, in fact, the starting point of the incident it described. President Erdogan of Turkey cited Hitler's Germany an example of any effective state – and the kind of state he wants Turkey to be.

Then it said that his office told the press that Erdogan had been misunderstood.

In the Irving press, the story appears on B3, but the headline is “Turkish office denies advocating Hitler-style rule”. If you read both stories and think a little bit, it's clear he did advocate Hitler-style rule. And it's very hard to imagine that he didn't mean it. Why else would one come up with Hitler as the example?

The difference is subtle. But note – The Guardian headline told the whole story, just as The Associated Press did. But The Associated Press reported it almost dismissively as no big deal. The Guardian gave an honest report.

As usual for the Irving press, foreign news is pretty meagre. Syria and Yemen don't exist. U.S. drome bombings doesn't exist. China and India don't exist. The one story worth reading is on B5. And if you aren't worried about it, get worried.

An Oregon rancher has been grazing his cattle for years on government land without paying. He now owes a million dollars. He has also been setting illegal grass fires. The case, much to the rancher's displeasure, has been taken up my militias across the U.S. Now, militias does not mean government troops. It means quasi-military gangs, very right-wing, who assume the right, as free men, to take up arms against the government. The have already had a confrontation with U.S. troops, and they're looking for another one in Oregon today.

And this is in a country with the world's highest gun ownership – with submachine guns, heavy machine guns and even anti-tank guns easily available. No wonder Obama wants to move on tougher gun laws.

All of this rests on the bizarre notion that Americans, by virtue of the revolution, have the right to take up arms against the government – and the fact that it's an elected government makes no difference.

A lot of this sort of thinking comes out of western films which portray the real American as someone who can shoot his Colt Peacemaker .45 fast and straight. That's why in Texas and some other states, it is now legal to wear your Colt in public, ready for a quick draw on the steps of the saloon. This cowboy flick scene has probably been the single greatest influence on American social thought. It's also largely myth.

The wearing of guns in public was banned in Texas in 1871. The Colt .45 peacemaker, seemingly the only one western film makers have ever heard of, wasn't invented until 1873.

Saturday's section A, as is commonly the case with cheaply run newspapers, was probably written days ago. Much of it is about the top stories of the year…. None of it is worth reading. The no. 1 news story of the year is –wait for it---the building of the 'Events Centre' (hockey rink.) And I guess that was the top story for those with their noses in their bellybuttons. In my own view, it was beaten by the second-place finisher – the weather. That's a really important change, with more changes to come.

A REAL news story would be one about how the city and the province plan to deal with those changes – or whether they are even yet at the stage of guessing what the changes might be.

The closest anybody comes to seeing the consequences of our inactivity is Norbert Cunningham on A8. Yes, climate change is real. We are going to have to deal, among other things, with the greatest refugee problem in human history. And some of those refugees could well be us.

Time is short. That's clear in a story that appeared in The Guardian.

One generation. The Irving press has been pretty indifferent to the floods in the U.S. and Britain, and to the deaths. (Nor, obviously, has it followed the al Jazeera story that this el nino attack is not over yet – so the worst may be still to come.) I see little sense of urgency in New Brunswick, no sign of planning to determine what our problems will be, no desire to cut back on the oil industry. On the contrary, we are prepared to applaud for an oil pipeline and massive improvement of the oil refinery in St. John owned by what's-his-name.

Have you heard anything from city council or the provincial government to suggest they are working on this? Or for that matter, from Ottawa? Have you seen oil billionaires in the streets demanding that action be taken, and offering their help in reducing emissions?

The Irving press also missed a huge story that has been going on for a couple of months. A natural gas well has been spilling natural gas at billions of litres a day in California. And this is raw natural gas that pollutes worse that oil. Scientists are trying to figure out how to stop it.

Let's see now, isn't this the sort of thing that premier Gallant will be deciding on in a very short time? How come the Irving press hasn't covered this story to make us better informed about what we could be dealing with? How come the owner of the paper hasn't demanded that we be better informed on this issue?

There's a reality here we're missing. The time to deal with climate change is short. We can't afford to pamper oil billionaires on this. And we can't afford to fight wars and pour money into 'defence' spending while doing the massive job we have to do. This has to be full time, and a spending priority. It's going to call for massive effort and massive international cooperation. We're not ever close to that.

It's interesting that no news medium has attempted to explain the reason for ISIS terrorism. Oh, I know. It's because they're evil while we are good. Proof of our goodness is shown by the U.S. mass murder of millions of Vietnamese, then of Iraqis and Afghanis in wars that have never been explained. And the Afghanistan War, still on after all these years, is now going against our side – the good Christians.

Anyway, consider the possibility that ISIS is both evil and smart – that they have a reason for terror attacks in the U.S. and Britain. Now, they know they aren't going to conquer either Britain or the U.S. So why the terror?

It's to produce the extreme reactions they're getting. Donald Trump is a model of what they want to achieve. They want disorder and turmoil – and hatred and fear. They want our world in chaos. And we are obliging them.

Finally, there's an interesting site on education. It's produced by Paul Bennett. He's the retired principal of a large, private school – and a very good one. (I don't like private schools. But I'll make an exception for Paul.) Here's the section dealing with the year 2015 for education in Canada.

The site also includes a story from the Washington Post that deals with education in the U.S. It's not a pretty picture. The school system actually encourages racism. As well, private business has poked its nose in with Charter Schools. These are paid for by profit-producing fees from the parents – and government subsidies paid in taxes by those who can never afford to go to a Charter School. I have seen no reason to believe that these are better than public schools – but they are essential for anyone who wants a diploma with job or higher education appeal. And they have been very destructive in their effect on public schools.

The URL for the whole site is --------------

Oh, you might want to keep an eye on Israel. A former premier just went to prison on a corruption charge. And premier Netanyahu and his wife, it seems, will now suffer similar charges. Gee! Why does that make me think of Ottawa and the senator from Prince Edward Island?

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