Saturday, May 14, 2016

May 14: Three cheers for Norbert - Hip, hip....

Yes, indeed. At least three big cheers for Norbert.

I began reading today's Irving press with the usual sense of despair. The news section  (the usual trivia) seemed to confirm it. Then there was the editorial on the crucial question of the day. Should provinces be allowed to charge a tariff on imported beer?

(The editorial treats  free trade - as do most newspapers in the industrialized world - as being a 'good', almost holy, thing. In fact, in the early days of industrialization, they all opposed free trade, and they did so with the full support of the capitalists in their population who didn't want to face foreign competition. That's what the U.S. civil war was about. The agricultural south wanted free trade; the industrializing north wanted a tariff. Slavery was a side-issue.  Canada's Conservative party, which now treats free trade almost as a religious faith, was founded on the basis of a tariff as holy writ.)

Brian Murphy's column, once again, is one that wouldn't bring a blush to a maiden's cheek,  couldn't possibly offend anyone, and says nothing. This looks very much like a column by a man who wants to return to politics.

Once again, we  get a column from Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, the organization that never met an Irving it didn't like. In brief, the commentary take the position that free trade is good. That's because New Brunswick capitalists no longer need it as they used to. Of course, it doesn't say that. No. It says free trade is a right guaranteed to ALL Canadians. Very egalitarian.

Alec Bruce's column seems pointless and vague. Somehow. he connects fracking with cybersecurity - and uses them to suggest that people who don't agree with him on everything are just part of a mindless rabble.

Then, Norbert saves the whole paper - and in a manner I have never before seen in the Irving press. He attacks yesterday's AIMS report that much greater use of the computer will improve education. I think he's right. I think the column is well argued. But more important (and rare) for the Irving press is that Norbert shows the integrity and courage to be critical of the work of an Irving mouthpiece.
Our choice of media in life is a fundamental one. Into the 1950s, radio was dominant. Sometimes, that was good because talk radio and theatre radio require the listener to concentrate, to use imagination to picture what he or she hears. So compelling was it that movie theatres had to swich to sound only when a popular radio show came on. On the other hand, it played a major role in reducing church attendance as Sunday evening became prime time for radio theatre.

TV was quite the reverse. It made no demands on imagination or any other intellectual power. It did everything for us. TV was (and is) for dumbing down. It was also a major factor in destroying communication between people, that interaction that helps us to understand others and how to relate to them. An example of this was the decline of community groups as people stayed home to watch TV. Among the casualties were organizatons like Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.

Today, many young people live in computer stupors, relating only to the computer rather than to people or to print. They are being desocialized, less capable of learning than can be gained only though human interchange. I'm not at all sure it's wise for schools to rush into e learning or computerized courses. Learning is an interactive experience. And computers don't interact.

Good on you, Norbert.
Canada&World has a  big story on Fort McMurray. The trouble is that most people know there was a fire. We know it was terrible. We have known this from the start. What we need to know now is what this means. And I've yet to see a word on that in the Irving press.

The fire is a result of climate change. The region is getting hot and dry. B.C. is having the same experience. Now is the time to ask some questions. How do we prepare for what could be a new world of such fires? (They are, after all, happening in other parts of the world, too.)

Does this have a message for us? After all, we have a forest. We are getting warmer weather.   (Which reminds me, how come Alec Bruce, in his defence of fracking, has never mentioned the fires caused by fracking in the U.S., and how the U.S. government has had to tighten fracking regulations?)

What does this mean to New Brunswick? to Moncton? News isn't just information. it's giving meaning to information.

Most of the news in Section B is trivial (somebody defaced a statue in Halirax. Who cares?). It's at least a day old so, even if it is important, most readers already know about it from TV or radio. (or computer.) And news by itself is meaningless. We need informed commentary to get some understanding of it.
The Irving press is not only unethical and trivial. It also, like most newspapers, is hopelessly out of date as a mean of communicating news. What it needs is a section B of informed commentary. It needs, for example, a Gwynne Dyer.
What it doesn't need is yet more trivia, fluff, and shallowness.
I have received my May edition of The Brief, a 2 page flyer put out by Yes, it's small, but big enough for two, important commentaries that you won't find in the Irving press.

One is by Pamela Palmater, a lawyer from Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick. The headline, "Trudeau's promises of 'renewed relationship' with First Nations evaporated with budget" gives a pretty clear idea of what it's about.
She also has a blog that I shall have to look at - Indigenous Nationhood.

And there's another excellent commentary (on the Energy East pipeline) by Lynaya Astephen in Red Head, N.B.
This next story doesn't tell us much - but it puts us on notice of something to watch for. A troubled government in Venezuela is blaming the growth of violence in the country on the U.S. So far, the evidence is slim. But it's quite possible.

The government is left wing and, historically, the U.S. has commonly created political unrest, murdered leaders, sponsored rebellions and even invaded South American countries that voted in ways displeasing to American billionaires.
This, it seems certain, is what has just happened in Brazil, too - though there's wrongdoing on both sides; and the new government will not change that.
Here is a story that has been brewing for many years - if not in the Irving press. It also raises the essential issue in understanding current events. There are no such things as friends between nations. Each nation acts out of its own interests (or, more likely, out of the interests of its wealthiest class.
I have recently travelled from Moncton to Ottawa and Montreal to Moncton. I found the Montreal line-up pretty bad. But I'm just a spoiled Canadian who didn't know that it was like to fly in the U.S. In dollars, as in hysteria, this has all been a tremendous victory for terrorism.
I found the following article annoying for its seemingly biased admiration of the USSR. (It is true, though, that the western powers, including Canada, did intervene in Russia on the side of the old, Tsarist monarchy. Funny how that's never mentioned on Nov. 11 or in most history books.)

It's biased on the side of the Soviet Union. But its portrait of the U.S. is pretty accurate.

Canada, by the way, has illegally attacked two countries in recent years - Libya and Syria. And its sending of 'non-combat' troops to Syria is also illegal.
The following is from a British source, so  it concentrates its criticism on British papers - including The Guardian and The Independent. I would not be so harsh on these two as the writer is. But I have been troubled by signs of propaganda that have appeared in The Guardian in recent months.
And here's another look at what's happening in Brazil. It's not as simple as a case of the president misusing money - or of  right wingers taking over. But the latter is certainly the reason why American big money is smiling.
This next one, awful as it is, is quite true. This (including our side) is a world as cruel and barbaric as it has ever been in  recorded history. It's a world that embraces torture, mass murder of civilians, unlimited greed.... But Christians have no need to worry. Their clergy will not even notice any of it - and they certainly won't have the indecency to mention it in a service.

Interesting. Jesus usually spoke of our behaviour in this world. Our Faith Page never does.
And this article is fascinating.
Finally, who do you think is the candidate in the U.S. leadership race who  has the best odds of winning in a federal election?

No. It's not Trump. He stirs up hatred as much as he gathers support.

No. It's not Clinton. Too many people recognize her for the vicious tool of big business and the corrupt person she is.

Actually, it's Sanders. Polls show him stronger against Trump than Clinton is.

Too bad he won't win the leadership race. There's no way the Democrat brass will allow an honest person to win the party leadership.

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