Thursday, March 24, 2016

March 24: Al Jazeera - the news champ?

In the front page headline is a story about how moncton has squalid rooming houses full of bedbugs and lice, poorly heated, with people crammed into filthy rooms. One of them  has  32 roomers, but only one toilet.   (Baths are out of the question.) Now, the provincial government and the city are stepping in to establish regulations. I'm sorry to read that.

As a regular reader of Norbert Cunningham,  I know that government interference in anything is bad, that these decisions are best made by private business. And remember, these flophouse owners are enterpreneurs and 'corporate citizens'. Read Norbert's columns. Entrepreneurs are good. Governments are bad.

The only other really big story in section A is that food trucks (vendors who sell food from trucks) are here to stay for the summer months. it's a big story that even has a picture of a food truck. I'm puzzled by this. I've been in many cities on four continents. All of them had food vendors working from trucks or barrows or pushcarts. When I was a kid in Montreal, dining out meant getting a bag of french fries from a food truck. Why is this such a big deal in Moncton?
There's really nothing else in Section A. Oh, there is one thing worth noting. Section A news always has stories from the court house. They really tell us nothing, but some people just love them - and they're cheap and easy to get. Every day, at least one such story has a big picture of the courthouse. It adds nothing to the story. But the paper has been running this picture and, sometimes another one, for years. Why?

Well it has to fill the space. Filliing it with print would cost money. But newspapers are dumping reporters to save money. So it's cheaper and easier to use pictures that tell us nothing. The same thing is regular on the opinion page, which always has a big (and cheap) photo to save the price of paying for another column.

The editorial is reasonable.. It's title is "Taxpayers deserve more detail on MHS proposal". So they do. But everything the editorial has to say is in that headline. I don't know why the editor bothered to write the rest. They could have just used a photo of a taxpayer.

Norbert has a column on technology in the home. I have no idea what his point is.

Rod Allen is back to his old self with a column about maple syrup. It's yet more of his cringingly cute sense of wit. And the point of it? Damned if I know.
Then, of course, a guest column from another billionaire-funded propaganda house, this time the Fraser Institute. It tells us how it's  just awful the way we tax the rich in this country. No wonder billionaires have to live in lice-infested flophouses. I cried as I read about it. In fact, it seems we overtax everybody. Obvious conclusion? Privatize everything. Then nothing will cost us anything.
This is such brainless propaganda that it's insulting to read it.
Alec Bruce, again, has a long column about nothing. This time, he lists the economic woes of Canada and the world. And his solution?  We, us, right here in New Brunswick, can  "re-energize the entrepreneurial culture we once exported to the rest of Canada".

Huh? The entrepreneurial culture (whatever that means) has existed for thousands of years. That's what the Roman Empire was about. That's why Jesus whipped the money changers out of the temple yard. The New Brunswick enterprenurial culture was characterized by timber barons who ruled the colony like regional dictators, and kept most of the money for themselves.
And, as a Canadian historian, I have never even heard of the rest of Canada importing its entrepreneurial culture (whatever that means) from New Brunswick. In any  case, New France had entrepreneurs before New Brunswick entrepreneurism even existed.

Section A is trivial, mindless, trashy.
Section B, Canada&World, is not as good as section A. The world, apparently, consists almost entirely of Canada. And the headline, the big story, for Canada&World is that a Moncton  lawyer most of us have never heard of is thinking of running for the leadership of the provincial Conservatives. Wow! Just think of the effect this will have on the U.S. leadership races, the mass murder in  the middle east, the U.S. confrontations with Russia and China.

Then there's a whole page about the trial of broadcaster Gomeshi. Actually, nothing had happened when this went to print. So there was really nothing to tell. (However al Jazeera has the story. He got aquitted.)

Then there are two pages of funeral ads. And, hold me back, there's a big sale, a Spring special, of monuments up to 30% off. Note to self - make it a point to die on a funeral sale day.

Then there is a world special - a Toronto woman has been given a warning after tossing a cup of Time Horton's coffee into the face of a disabled man.

Oh, there is a story in which both both Trudeau and foreign affairs minister Stephan Dion say Canada is not at war with ISIS. Both of them must know that's not true. In short, both are lying. Both say Canada is not at war with ISIS because it does not fit the true definition of war. (I've never even heard the term "true definition of war".  Then both   give different (and untrue) versions of the definition of war.

Trudeau says a true war is one that can be won by either of the sides. But ISIS cannot win. Therefore, it isn't a war. I have never even heard of such a definition. That would mean the American invasions, over the years, of Haiti, Guatemala, Grenada, much of South America, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq were not true wars because none of those countries could possibly have been won by the other side.

Then Dion lies with " international law it will mean two armies with respecting rules..." I have read the international rules. They do not say  those things. In fact, by Dion's definition, World War Two never happened because Hitler's military did not respect the rules. (In fact, neither did ours.)  We hanged war criminals after World War Two. Now, if Dion is right, we should apologize since, by his definition, World War Two was not a 'true' war.
An act of war is, under international law, any military action in a country that has not attacked you or invited you. Syria has not invited us - not to fight ISIS, not to fight Syria.  Training or supplying one side is an act of war. identifying targets for anybody is an act of war.  We have already carried out acts of war with two bombing raids in Syria. And it doesn't matter who they attacked. Any intrusion without the request of Syria or without Syria posing a threat to Canada is an act of war. And it's not the first time Canada has done this.

Our 'peacekeepers' in Haiti were not 'peacekeepers'. They were not invited by Haiti. (The request came from the  U.S. which had invaded Haiti to overthrow the elected government.) And Haiti did not pose a threat to Canada. That was an illegal invasion.

I am astonished that there is no media reaction to the prime minister and the foreign minister telling us such lies, and such childish ones.
As I read that, I was reminded of how so much our history is made up of lies. These lies gives us a false image of ourselves and our country. And they make it easy for power-brokers to manipulate us. For example, in the U.S. it's almost a religion that the U.S. was created for freedom and democracy, and equality. It wasn't. It was stirred up by the rich to get control of the country now that they no longer needed the British army for protection. Almost all the Fathers of the nation were big time land-speculators and slave owners.   In fact the original version of the constitution did NOT speak of freedom to pursue happiness. The original was "freedom pursue property."

That's one reason why the speeches of leadership candidates and the cheers of their followers and their views of America's role in the world are so out of touch with reality.

A good, general American history is Richard Shenkman, Legends, Lies and Cherished Myths of American History, published 1988
And while we're on the subject of  history, here's a bit of trivia that will make  you the hit of every party.

Men's shirts, coats, etc. button up with the left side overlapping the right. With women it's the reverse. Here's why.

Knights, when buckling on their armour,  buckled the left side slightly over the right. That was because most of their opponents would be right-handed. So the swipe of a sword or spear was likely to strike on their left. And that meant it could slide into that tiny gap in the armour where the armour plate overlapped. Making the overlap on the right lessened that danger.

As for women, the knight's lady usually had women servants to dress her. These would do up buttons on her dress and, since they were facing the lady (and were usually right-handed), it was  convenient to button up milady   with her right side overlapping the left.
Here's a new site called "Offguardian". The founders of this site feel that the standards of The Guardian have declined, so that it sometimes has stories as bad as those in , say, the Washington Post. I have had the same feeling for some months now, though mostly in relation to the editorials and a few of the commentators. Here are a couple of samples of the "Offguardian" work sent to me by a reader.
They're both pretty sound stuff.
The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has not attracted much attention by the editors at the Irving press. But it has frightening implications for cities all over the U.S. - and Canada. Uncounted numbers of U.S. children, probably millions, have dangerous levels of lead in their bodies, and it's because of their drinking water. In Canada, nobody of any significance has even bothered to ask about the situation in this country.

This is also a warning about the danger of homo sapiens. We are capable of extraordinary cruelty and abuse - without even thinking about it. And that appears to be true of almost all of us.

It seems to be true of most religions, perhaps all, that they have had very, very little effect on our indifference to suffering, torture, murder, exploitation....
So it's not just the Faith Page of the Irving press that sucks air.
In my reading of the conventional press, the source that seems to stand out in first place for quality is al Jazeera. This should be a matter of pride for Canadians because it was largely the creation of Tony Burman of the CBC. People  who suffer from Islamophobia may dislike it because of its connection with the middle east. But I'm finding that, among the commercial media, al Jazeera appears to be the leader, with a very honourable mention to Haaretz.
I was NOT impressed by this one in al Jazeera, though. It's by an American professor who sees terrorism and the killing of civilians as a new form of war. It's not.

It began at least as early as World War One. In fact, you can find also as a feature of Imperial wars for the last 500 years and more. The British, for example, killed innocent civilians with great joy. So did the US in its expansion to the west coast. Then, in World War Two, terrorism and the killing of innocent civilians, women, children became standard practice. By Vietman, mass murder of civilians had become the major feature of war.

What's new in cases like Brussels, is the fear that can be spread by a small number of people with very limited resources. It's a miniaturizeded version of the way we all fight war. And it's hard to deal with because its small number of practitioners are prepared to die - And there really is no country you can attack in retaliation.

I think we should face some realities. "They" are killing innocent people because "we" are killing innocent people. And "we" are killing them in much larger numbers. What we call terrorism is simply what we have been doing for centuries - but made smaller and harder to prevent. And it brings terror to those of us who clap hands when "our side" carries out mass murder. Remember the jubilation and celebration when George Bush greeted the aircraft carrier returning from the mass murder of civilians in Iraq?

The only cure for terrorist attacks like the one in Belgium is to stop the big, terrorist attacks that we carry out. The world has come to the end of its capacity to fight wars of any kind. We can't afford it financially and, in any case, it no longer works. It simply puts all of us under the danger (and certainty) of the final war.

That's not sentimental blathering. That's a reality. It sounds impossible? Maybe.

 Got another option?
Al Jazeera also has the widest coverage of world news I have ever seen. It's quite a contrast to the local Irving press paper, The Moncton Times and Transcript, which can rarely get past Moncton's Main Street. And investigative reporting? The Irving press wouldn't dream of it.
A reader has sent me a site I have not read before. I have not had time to think about it yet, but it looks as though this could be an interesting site.


  1. The Dion/Trudeau comments about not being at war are just as bad as the rubbish espoused by harper. I said so on ipolitics earlier today, and pointed out the logical inconsistency of Iraq's inviting the US and allies to come into Iraq to "fight" ISIS.

    The illogic is contained in this BBC article, where it is argued that no nation can legally invite foreigners in to suppress a popular uprising. But it can invite foreigners in to help suppress an armed force seizing its territory. No mention is made of the fact that ISIS is primarily Sunni Northern Iraqis, because if they are then it is a popular uprising, and no foreigners can be invited in to suppress them. So, as we have been informed time and again by the MSM, ISIS members are officially a mystery - they have to be if any semblance of legality is to be maintained.

    It's this type of bullshit that the west uses all the time. The excuse for Canada bombing ISIS in Syria was the home defence theme, passed one year ago today by harper and his Reformacons. Now we have the intellectual lightweight Dion running foreign affairs and things are no better. Trudeau is uninformed as well, Whether he's a lightweight or not I have yet to completely decide, but things aren't looking good at all. Paul Martin has his ear, and he's decidely a one-percenter capitalist and good pals with Desmarais and the Power Corp mob. I argued Trudeau had been co-opted before the actual election when Martin popped out of the woodwork about five days before voting, when the establishment worked out "their" boy was about to win and needed to offer him "advice". Literally whispering in JT's ear in many TV clips. Well, we all need the promise of a nice retirement package at the end of the day, don't we?

    1. I have had doubts about Justin from the start. He's telegenic, a born showman in genteel sort of way. But he's not someone who's going to rock the boat. He's more like his mother than his father.