Monday, January 4, 2016

Jan. 4: Time's a'wasting.

The lead story in a wretched four pages – count them – four – of what is grandly called the Canada and
World section – and the lead is “Christmas never came for victims of massacre”. It's very heart-wrenching.

The reference, of course, is to the 14, good Americans killed by those terrible Muslims at a Christmas barbecue in San Bernardino. True. Christmas never came for them. Nor did it come for the thousand or so Americans killed by American Christians all over the U.S. in the past year. But they don't get a mention. Nor is there mention of the thousands killed by American bombers all over the world – nor of the hundredds of thousands killed by weapons supplied by the U.S.( which exports more weapons to just about anybody than any other country in the world).

(Hey. Look on the good side. War and terror are good for the U.S. arms industry. Britain does well at it, too. And, like the U.S., it's not choosy about who it sells to.)

Then there's the uncounted thousands who have drowned or died of hunger as they fled from the horror we have made or the middle east. And there's the millions, hungry and cold, in refugee camps. But they don't observe Christmas, so who gives a damn?

A lead story in such a section is about something important happening in the world. It is not a place for self-righteous sentimentality Yes. Fourteen people got killed. Yes. It was terrible. But they are not the only ones who have been killed in this madness. And, think hard now, most of the innocent people killed in the last 15 years have not been Americans. And, for that matter, far, far more Americans have been killed by Americans over those years.

This is a pretty stinking piece of journalism. In fact, it really is propaganda. Other side bad. Our side good. But I don't think it's deliberate propaganda. It's just the way us humans think. The other side is always animal and evil and vicious. We are always good.

The reality is that our side is effectively led by some of the most vicious and greedy people this world has ever seen. The lords of the weapons industry just love wars, and they spend big money on candidates like Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair who get personally wealthy by making sure there's a constant demand for their weapons. The oil barons love war as a way to control world oil and world oil prices. The trick is to make the taxpayers pay for and fight in the wars that benefit only the oil barons. To get suckers on that massive scale, you have to make them believe they're doing it for God and country.

It's not hard to make people believe, not when big oil and big mining own all the private news media. And that's what brought us that asinine lead story in the Canada and World section.
There is still no mention of the slaughter and starvation of the people in Yemen, no mention of which civilians and children the U.S. drones are bombing these days, nothing about constant U.S. interference and murder in Central and South America, nothing about the behaviour of our mining companies around the world. In fairness, there is a story that a hotel in Dubai which was damaged in a fireworks display will be repaired. This is important news for those New Brunswickers who have a reservation at that hotel in Dubai.

The Guardian has an interesting opinion column about the current US political debates. In brief, it says that Americans are looking to preserve their ideal of what the U.S. is and stands for. The reality is that such ideals never really existed. Various groups in the U.S. have always been bigoted. And they can't even agree with each other on who they should be bigoted against. The U.S. has a vision that it stands for freedom and democracy. It never has. For over a century after the revolution, Africans were still slaves. And they never did get full freedom or equality. American women didn't get freedom and the right to vote until more than a year after the slaves were 'freed'. It has actually destroyed democracies in Latin America and Africa to impose dictators. It sees itself as a land yearning for peace. The reality is that it has been at war for most of its history. And it is surely one of the most backward countries in the western world when it comes to equality of opportunity and of education. And one of the most backward in social programmes.

Nobody even mentions the problems of its economic system. The first problem is that the economic system runs the country. It's supposed to be the other way around. As well, the economic system and the people who control it have also run up the biggest national deficits in world history. So it is that a tiny number of Americans are getting very rich while tens of millions, probably something close to a hundred million live in wretched poverty. But, with the exception of Bernie Sanders, none of the candidates is even mentioning this.

Preserving the U.S. as it is – well – it's beyond stupidity and approaching insanity. But with the help of mythical history and cooperative news media, the country which has more secret police than any other, that tortures on a massive scale, that has given its presidents the right to imprison and even assassinate American citizens, that has more prisoners than any other country in the world still sings “God bless America, land of the free...”

The U.S. desperately needs fundamental changes if it is to survive. It is most unlikely to get them.

It's also nonsense to say, as Norbert often does, that easing taxes on the rich will attract investment and general prosperity. The reality is that lowering taxes on the rich has made all of us poorer. (That's even leaving aside the reality that so many of the very rich pay no taxes at all.)

I'll quote the end of Alec Bruce's column to get at the only solution of our problems.

“...if we, the people, don't run New Brunswick's democracy – if we cede it to special interests and political expediency, then we risk becoming another state in crisis.
And then, what are our choices?”

I am not suggesting that Bruce and I would be in agreement on economic matters. I have no idea what the details of his views are. But I think the principal of the statement above is true. However, I would go further to say we already have ceded our democracy to special interests and political expediency. The Liberals and Conservatives do not represent our interests. They never have. Both of those parties in Canada were created to serve the rich. And Canadians have supported those two parties in almost every election, federal or provincial, that has ever been held.

And it's the Canadian people who have had the flabby minds. New Brunswickers, in particular, really don't like the think. And they're terrified of expressing an opinion in public. That makes them easy meat for a newspaper that tells them nothing but trivia.

The rest of Canada is not much better. That's why the old CCF party (which was a party of genuine change) had to water itself down to become an honest version of the Liberal party. And that's not enough. As for the Greens, they are tackling a serious and neglected issue. But that's not enough to govern a country on.

We have to do some thinking. We have to make it a point to get and make known information that we all need to make decisions. We have to get back a real democracy in this country.

And we don't have much time to do it.

For a full page of intelligent stories and opinions of Bernie Sanders' campaign for the democrat leadership, check out the site below. (There certainly hasn't been much of it in the Irving press.)

Page A9 has the story of an addition to St. Thomas University's department of journalism. She's Ros Guggi, a jounalist of considerable experience. She speaks in this story of the purpose and ethics of journalism. Generally, journalism schools across Canada teach to a high standard of ethics. Alas, too many graduates learn that to get a job, they have to be flexible in their ethics. (I could do many blogs about highly paid and well-known journalists who willingly write propaganda instead of news.)

You may remember the story of the American army truck driver, a woman, who was serving in Iraq (I think. Maybe Afghanistan). Her truck crashed at an enemy roadblock, and she was seriously injured.

That night, a U.S. special ops squad carried out an attack on the hospital to save her, it was implied, from rape and worse. I remember it well because I saw the attack on TV. I saw the troops storming the hospital, pushing hospital workers aside. I could see them well because a row of powerful lights had been set up for the cameras, and for the dozens of reporters – who were telling the story to us as it happened.

They told us that she had fought hard, shooting a dozen or so of her attackers. They told us the special ops raiders had scared the enemy off, so they could whisk the injured woman to an American hospital which was much better, of course, (and in which she wouldn't be raped.)

The story was everywhere. She was promoted as a heroine for holding off the enemy despite her injuries; and the U.S. special ops were praised for their – oh – their Americanism. A park was named after her. Publishers wanted her to write a book. But….

She was also honest. Despite tremendous government pressure, she told the truth. She hadn't shot anybody. She couldn't even if she wanted to because she was badly injured. Nobody had mistreated her. She was immediately brought to a hospital, and she was well-treated – probably saving her life. There were no soldiers guarding the hospital. They left as soon as they brought her there. The American command was notified of all the facts, was invited to send an ambulance for her, was told their were no guards and that the enemy would not interfere in any way.

Anybody watching the TV programme should have realized this was a set-up. You don't bring reporters with cameras and super lights to cover a surprise raid. The news media must have known this was a set-up. But they all went along with it.

And the woman? As soon as she told the truth, she because a non-person to the news media.

Oh, the new Journalism chair at St. Thomas is funded by a generous donor. It's called the The Irving Chair in Journalism. I wish her luck.

Finally, the Gallant government's treatment of Dr. Cleary in firing her as chief medical officer is contemptible. And the failure of the news media in digging on this story is contemptible. And the failure of New Brunswickers to respond is the reason why so many contemptible things happen in this province.

The government says it can't tell us why she was fired. But it has told us. It has told us she was fired because she didn't fit the skills profile required for the job. An honest and ethical press would answer, “Okay. Exactly what are the skills she doesn't have? And why has it taken so many years for governments to learn she doesn't have them?” To that, we might add the question of why the Irving press has not been more active in collecting the opinions of leading medical authorities across Canada who seem to have a very high regard for her skills? So all those leading authorities know less about medical skills than Mr. Gallant does?

Wake up, New Brunswick. You don't have much time.

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