Saturday, January 23, 2016

Jan. 23: How can a paper print all those pages....

...and still say so little.

On the good side,  and for the second day in a row, the Irving press has a front page headline that is a real story. The RCMP and the Crown are hoping a quiet solution to charges that RCMP leadership was remiss when it sent police armed only with pistols to catch a man armed with a semi-automatic rifle. Three police were killed as a result.

I see no reason to handle this discreetly. The dispatcher knew the man was armed with several combat-style rifles. How could lightly-armed police be sent to get him? How could an RCMP detachment not have access to more powerful weapons? This is something we should know about; and we're not going to know anything from a quiet investigation.

There's a story about Gallant returning from the Davos meeting between political leaders and the very rich. The story tells us nothing. And it leaves a big question (unintentionally). Why are political leaders meeting with big money as if they were all equals?

Page A6 has the big story aobut the Wild Readers of the Week. One boy, it seems, read 50 books last week. And how much to do you think he learned from that? And how does this, in any way, change the abysmal levels of literacy in this province? And how does it change all those children and adults who read nothing this week? What is the point of Wild Readers?

The point has nothing to do with literacy. This ridiculous contest exists for no reason but to give the impression the Irving press cares about literacy, and is playing a role in improving it.

The editorial, as always, deals with one of the great questions of the day – the 'booting' of cars parked illegally. The editorial writer's solution, as always, is SOMETHING MUST BE DONE.

Three of the four commentaries are by people with a bias – three by politicians and one by a representative for big business. These aren't commentaries. Commentaries are analyses by informed and objective people.These are just propaganda in the interests of the writers. Can't the editors at Irving press be given a crash course in the basics of journalism?

Jo Anne Moore has a column worth reading on who should investigate the behaviour of police. It's a very fair commentary. The weak point is in the final paragraphs which avoid drawing any conclusion.
Canada and world? Forget it. The only real story is the shooting at a school in Saskatchewan. B3 has a big story about the potash industry. But it's a year late, and of no value today.

World news? By Irving press standards, that is the world news.

The Faith page sermonette deals with sexism in our society. It says you can find it even in church. Even in Church? No. Especially in church. Women are by no means treated as equals in The Bible, not in any part of it. For a start, almost all of it was written by men. All the disciples were men. From the start and for a couple of thousand years virtually all the clergy were men. Women who claimed to hear God were burned at the stake or drowned. Discrimination against women does not simply 'reflect our society'. It is at the very foundation of Christianity and Judaism – just as it is among Muslims. We give it different forms. But it's really all the same. That seems universal. I visited temples in China. All the religious figures there were male. Women went to temples only to give fruit to the Gods or to get their fortunes told (by a male priest.)

Oh, and in reference to Adam and Eve, God did not make Adam and Eve equal. Eve was the one created with the weakness to be tempted by Satan.

Anyway, can't our churches ever deal with the real world? We live in a world in which the rich are getting much richer daily, and doing it by impoverishing everybody else. The U.S. is spending so much money on weapons (to please the rich), that it cannot feed millions of its own poor. Canadian mining companies are forcing poverty on Latin America and Congo, among others, destroying environments, murdering people, forcing children to work in their mines….We have sent Canadians to kill people in Iraq and Syria. Does it not occur to writers for this page to wonder what Jesus might say about all this?

The bottom of the same page has a very short story about Pope Francis. It's a very tiny story. But it says more that all the sermonettes I have ever read on this page.
C11 has a column I had never noticed before. It's called Roots of the Past. This one is grandly titled History of the Boer War. And it's nothing like a history of that war.

For a start, it gives the impression that the war began when greedy immigrants (no nationality mentioned) flooded into South Africa to get its gold and diamonds. And then a war started with Britain.

Oh? Britain went to war to help greedy immigrants? Well, not quite.

The wealthy British sent in troops because they wanted to loot South Africa. They did so, working happily afterward with surviving Boers to keep the African people in ignorance and poverty – and out of power.

Canada sent over 7,000 to fight in the Boer War. Why? The writer seems to think this is an unimportant detail.

They were sent because wealthy Canadians wanted them sent. They wanted it because they depended on British investment and on access to imperial trade. So they had to kiss up to Britain – just as their descendants now kiss up to the U.S. Almost 250 Canadians died to make the wealthy happy. That's the same reason we sent Canadians to Afghanistan. That's why we're now killing people in Iraq and Syria.

Canadians also operated some of the concentration camps which held whole families of Boers and black Africans. That, too, is missing from this page in the Irving press. There are no reliable figures, but the total of prisoners in these camps was something like 107,000 black Africans, and some tens of the thousands of Boers. At least 12% of the Africans died of starvation and disease. 28,000 Boers died. Of those, some 25,000 were children. That meant half the national population of Boer children.

Mind you, child death from starvation , malnutrtion, exposure, disease was almost as high in British industrial cities and in hazardous work like mining. The wealthy have always had a casual outlook on the suffering they cause to others.

Though the article concludes this war was wrong, it says we should remember and honour the Canadians who served. Quite so. And using exactly the same reasoning, we should remember and honour the Germans and Japanese and Italians who died in World War Two. And the Russians. And the Chinese who died to bring Mao to power. And the native peoples who died fighting us.

(None of this is a criticism of the writer. If she had told the whole truth, the Irving press would never have printed it.)
The Irving press didn't think it important enough to mention, but the U.S. has sent ground troops to Syria. That's illegal You can't send troops unless a)the official government has invited you or b) it has attacked you. Neither of these has happened. But American Exceptionalism makes it okay for the U.S. to break laws, just like it's okay to kill innocent people with drones.

It says it's sending them to fight ISIS. Like hell it is. The U.S. has largely ignored ISIS and has even helped it (by letting it raise money through selling oil, for example.) ISIS is one of the U.S. proxies fighting against Syria. These new ground troops are being sent to help the “rebels” against Assad.

And the Russians, with a legal right to be there, are there to defend Assad. This is very, very dangerous. It has also sent warships to regional waters. That's a deliberate warning to the U.S.

Then there is this story about Rwanda by an excellent journalist.

I was interested, but not surprised, to read that Australians are even worse than us in their treatment of native peoples and immigrants (unless they are are white and English-speaking.) It's one of the most bigoted countries on earth. Donald Trump would be a big hit in Australia.

Anyone who thinks war is humane should read the item below. It tries to examine the deaths of civilians caused by Russian and American (and a bit of Saudi and Turkish and Israeli and British and French and Canadian bombing.) Our news media never pay much attention to this (unless it's done by the other side.)

The truth is that it's not possible to bomb without killing civilians. That's why both sides, in 1942, decided they might as well make civilians their main target. More than any other country, the U.S. has specialized in massive bombing deliberately aimed at civilians.

Here is a reminder of the refugee crisis that the west created. And the west created the crisis largely to please the big money in the oil industry. That's what this is all about. It began a long time ago, but this most recent phase began as a U.S. foreign policy that has been a proven disaster. Some would pick the first gulf war as the starting point for this. I lean to the Iraq invasion. But it has been at least 15 years of utter disaster with a world now far more dangerous and unstable and brutal than it was 15 years ago.

And Canada has allowed itself to get involved in this continuous disaster which is going to get a lot worse. Make up your mind Justin. Who do you represent in Ottawa. Canada? Or a handful of (mostly foreign) multi-billionaires? Is this an independent country? Or are we back in the days of the Boer War? Some day, very soon, Canada will have to decide. Justin, you gave the impression in the election campaign that you had made up your mind. If so, how come it's taking so long to act?

And here's a story that I can't believe the Irving press missed. This is big news, important news, Irving press style, right up there with the Oland murder trial.
British soldiers are facing trial for war crimes committed in Iraq. The British prime minister's position is that this is disgusting, and that soldiers should be allowed to commit war crimes. Gee! So we were wrong to execute all those German leaders after World War Two. Maybe we should make a formal apology to the memory of Hitler.

And, speaking of war crimes, heres a story the Irving press would never publish.

The following commentary was sent to me by a reader. It's long. It can sometimes be confusing. It can sometimes be annoying. (sometimes, it annoyed me). But…………………………..on balance, I think it's on to something.

Now, I must go into training for tomorrow's effort at trying to bring all this stuff together.

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