Saturday, November 11, 2017

Nov. 11: Our Lies to those Who Served

Our modern newspaper, cheap enough to be available to almost everyone, appeared about 1880. The industry had developed so far by then, it could produce a newspaper for one cent a copy.

But, however cheap each copy might be, it still required an ownership by the very wealthy. And that means that almost all newspapers were propaganda sheets from the start. The news was what the owners said it was.

And it was powerful propaganda. Two incidents of very late in the nineteenth century showed that.

In the Boer War, a British colonel got himself and his regiment trapped in a town called Mafeking. He wasn't supposed to be there. He was supposed to be roaming through the country to keep the Boers off guard. But for months, nothing much else was happening in that war, so the papers focussed on the gallant Colonel Baden-Powell and his valiant defence in the most splendid British fashion.

But the British high command was not impressed by Baden-Powell. He wasn't supposed to be in Mafeking at all. And the high command had to scramble to form a large force to get him out. What it then wanted to do was to fire Baden-Powell. But it could't. The press had made him a national hero. So the British army had to promote him to general.

About the same time, an American warship visiting a Cuban harbour blew up. A major, American newspaper owner named Hearst printed the story that this had been done by the Spanish who then controlled Cuba.

Hearst was lying. There was no evidence whatever of a Spanish attack. But Hearst and other wealthy Americans wanted that story to get out. They were promoting a  canal to be built in Panama. They needed a naval base in Cuba (Guantanamo Bay) to control who could use Panama. They also wanted to get control of Cuba as a source of VERY cheap labour for wealthy Americans like themselves.

So Hearst's story became the excuse for declaring war on Spain. As a result, Cuba became a very brutal, American dictatorship that would control Cuba for the next fifty years of extraordinary hardship and suffering. And the U.S. still controls Guantanamo.

The modern news media are for the most part propaganda sheets for the wealthy who own them. And that tradition has carried into radio and TV news.

I don't know of a commercial news medium in North America that is honest. Britain has The Guardian and National observer. Israel has Haaretz. Al Jazeera, due to early leadership by people from Canada's CBC, can be quite decent. And the CBC, in general, despite tremendous pressure from politicians to lie, is (usually) quite honest.

Almost all other news media I know of in North America are made up of propaganda written by liars. For Canada, the worst, perhaps, of the major ones is The Post. (I occasionally talked with Conrad Black in his early days before the founding of The Post. He obviously had an ego problem that suggested brain damage. And he was a consummate liar.)

As for the U.S. there's nothing I would trust. And that, I'm afraid, includes The New York Times. It's failure, for example, to cover the American massacre of the Maya people in Guatemala is unforgivable.

Radio news, with the exception of CBC radio, is pretty useless. Most radio stations have only one or two reporters. Even the best can't do much with those numbers.

And our very own Brunswick News? It's hard to find an adequate description of what is wrong, dishonest, and even vile with Brunswick News. Of the dozens of newspapers I read every day, Brunswick News ones are the worst.

In today's paper (Nov. 10) the editorial writer rants at government spending on what the editor seems to think are frills like health and education. It is not possible for the editor who wrote this to be ignorant of the fact that some wealthy people,including  the owner of this paper, avoid taxes. So to hell with health and education.

We don't know the extent of that tax avoidance  because Brunswick Press employees make it a point not to know.

The Commentary page has a column, a type that appears frequently, of brainless crap submitted by Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, a propaganda house with a certain closeness to the Irvings. These propaganda, far-right columns are standard fare in Brunswick News.

In this case, it is an attack on government for not letting those nice people in the oil business run an oil pipeline through the province.

Well, yes. But such an oil pipeline would take many decades to make a profit - and there is some concern about those additional years of burning oil and the damage they would cause.

In fact, that's only a tiny part of the story. We have been warned by most world-class scientists that the burning of fossil fuels is almost certain to destroy the planet. But,  hey! What do those scientists know? I mean, our billionaires surely know more. (The actually don't have much in the way of education but they're - you know - billionaires.)

Below, I shall list just a few, frightening stories about climate change. There's much more.  Canada's permafrost is breaking up. You can even hear the constant crashing of debris as parts are becoming uninhabitable. As regions go into drought, the world's food supplies drop, and we can expect as many as a billion refugees within present lifetimes. Imagine a billion displaced people roaming the world - and being turned back everywhere.

Of course, we can improve some of our plant life by spraying it with glyphosate. Our provincial health officer said this was dangerous to human life. So she was transferred right away. (I wonder whose idea that was.) Brunswick News never pursued that story.

World News, as usual, has almost no news of any value. In particular, it almost never mentions the extraordinarily brutal war of Saudi Arabia and the U.S.   (with Canadian help) on one of the poorest nations on earth - a war in which they are deliberately starving millions, including children, to death.

In general, the Brunswick News treats the slaughter in the Middle East as though it were all about evil terrorists. It's not. It's all about evil oil billionaires who want the right to plunder oil all for themselves. That's why way over a million were killed in Iraq. That's why the score in Syria is a  half million and rising.

Why do the Irvings run such a lying and trivial newspaper? I suspect this is a pattern that runs through history. Those who acquire wealth assume that this indicates exceptional intellectual powers that they have. In fact, that is rarely true. More often it reflects greed. And it breeds an economic ruling class which sees itself as superior to other humans. It is destructive of democracy and of social order of any sort. And every such social structure from the time of Rome and, I presume earlier, has come crashing down leaving nothing but ruin behind it.

And we live in an age in which almost all news media are owned by such people.

Are there problems of how we (aren't) dealing with climate change?  Try these samples.

As climate change grows, how will we act to deal with this swarm of refugees? Simple. We'll kill them, and we'll call it patriotism.

There's much more like this, most of it much grimmer. Severe climate change in the U.S. would almost certainly lead to an American takeover of Canada, for example. It would expand the wars all over the world.

However, as long as Brunswick News says its okay, I'm sure its perfectly safe. I also believe in Tinkerbell.

There is a massive strike of  community college teachers across the province of Ontario. News coverage has not been strong. So here's what it's about.

Large numbers of the teaching staff (most) have to live on part-time contracts with no job security. And with very, very low pay.  In fact, their 'part-time' jobs commonly require full time hours. This is because the Ontario government is seriously over-budget.

The reason it is seriously overbudget is that in Canada, the very wealthy don't pay taxes. This amounts to the loss of many billions of dollars every year. (In the U.S., it can run to over a trillion.) Result?  Essential programmes in health and education have to suffer but cutting salaries. Luckily, this is not problem for the very rich since they can afford to send their children to private schools. Tough for everybody else, though. Thus the savage cuts in education for the peasantry.

This is just one example of the greed of the rich destroying our society. I mean, they're so superior to us slobs. You're worried about climate change? Well, relax. It's quite possible we'll destroy ourselves first thanks to greed.

The official word in the irving press is that capitalism is being strangled by government regulations. I could wish that were true. The reality is that capitalism is running wild all over the world. That's why we don't have enough money for government programmes like education and health. That's why we have been killing people all over the world since 1945.

That's why the American political, economic and social system is crashing. (And Canada's, too.)

Wake up, folks! The greedy are leading us into disaster.

Remember the film "Lawrence of Arabia"? When I was a kid I read a book about him, and was fascinated by this daring Englishman who rallied the desert arab tribes against the evil Turks. Only later, much later, did I realize he was really the servant of British oil barons who intended to make many billions out of Saudi Arabia by establishing a medieval monarchy under their control.

That monarchy is now looking, with Israeli help, to bring hell to Iranians (and their elected democracy) so that Saudi aristocrats and American oil barons can plunder that country.

The whole of the middle east has been plundered for a century by British and American oil barons who have killed several million people over those years. Stable government has been made impossible. Millions are refugees.  (And we wonder why ISIS attacks us.)

Why is this war important to us ordinary people? It isn't. It's being fought to produce profits for our oil barons. But the rest of us will never see those profits because the oil barons will hide them - as they've been doing for the last century.

This new war is the most dangerous one ever - for all of us. However, New Brunswickers don't need to worry about it. The irving press won't tell them what's happening.
The only good news out of the middle east is that ISIS has been defeated. But the U.S. did little in that respect. On the contrary, it has been supplying ISIS with weapons, money and training support to launch wars throughout the region. ISIS was broken largely by those "evil" people in Syria, Russia and Iran.

The decision to go to war now against Iran is a desperate attempt to destroy the people who really beat ISIS. And it's a very dangerous one.
Our side is about to murder millions, especially children, in Yemen.  But, as my Scottish mother would have said, "dinna fash your'sel".  It won't affect New Brunswickers because they won't know about it. Their newspapers have rarely even glanced at this horror by our side.

The U.S. has the largest military budgets in history, now running at half a trillion dollars a year. But the system is wildly corrupt, so  that price doesn't guarantee a superior military. It also has deep problems in the structure of its military. That's why it has not really won a significant war since 1945.

The U.S. has, effectively, declared war on Venezuela by placing sanctions that limit its ability to export oil, its main industry. This is being done to cut off Venezuela's attempts to operate a more democratic economy and, instead, to put more control over Venezuela into the hands of American oil companies.

Is it overstating to call this an act of war? No. It is part of the definition of sanctions that they are acts of war. And Trudeau has committed Canada to support the U.S. in this act of war.
The item below is about Remembrance Day. It's a very sympathetic view of the day but, unlike most Remembrance Day columns, it doesn't romanticize the war.

As I read it I thought of Mr. Bright, a World War One survivor who spoke with an eerily raspy voice. He had been gassed at Passchendaele, and could speak and eat only through a metal tube in his throat. And Mr. Kelly, whom I never met. He spent the rest of his life in an English hospital, no longer able to function in the world. His wife, who lived close to us, raised their two sons. one of whom was wounded at Dieppe. And there was Leslie Bibewell who died when a torpedo struck his ancient destroyer. And Bertie who, at 16, died when he jumped up screaming for his mother, and a  machine-gun cut him in half.

The problem - and I shrink here as I write this - is that we elevate patriotism on Nov. 11 to a noble quality. In fact, patriotism is a terrible reason for going to war.
(Also in fact, very few people have the fainest idea was  the word patriotism means.)

The Naziis who went to war were patriotic. So were the Japanese. But I don't mourn for either of them. Canadians died in the Boer War, a war that had nothing whatever to do with Canada. Whenever I think of that, I remember, in grade one, learning to stand each morning "I promise loyalty to this flag (pointing dramatically at a Union Jack) and to the Empire for which it stands." That's patriotism, I guess, and it's brainless. That sort of brainlessness is what has been sending us to fight wars in Afghanistan and Libya and to train Syrian rebels, and now to support the U.S. mining barons in their assault on Venezuela.

Sorry. My patriotism does not extend to killing Iranians to satisfy the oil industry.


Bernie Sanders is the only political leader in the U.S. with any idea of how to salvage that country that is controlled by billionaires and fed lies by its news media.

Alas! I fear it's too late.

The U.S. is peace-loving?  Try this.

It looks as though Saudi Arabia is trying to push Israel into a war that it doesn't want with Iran. The pressure is coming from the U.S., too. And Israel stands to lose heavily from it.

This has been a long and depressing blog. The bottom line is that we made promises to those who served in our military, especially in World War Two. And we have betrayed just about every one of those promises.

Certainly, nobody told them there were fighting for a world in which billionaires could hide their money from taxation, in which we would cooperate with the U.S.  in its eternal wars fought to make rich Americans richer. We never told them they were fighting so Canadian and American mining companies could brutalize, exploit, and kill Latin Americans - as in Guatemala. They didn't die so that the wealthy could buy governments at every level.  My childhood friend Bertie didn't get killed, when he was 16, in order to send Canadians to fight an American war in Afghanistan. Ever since 1945, the most vicious, murderous  and greedy country in the world has been the United States. And the Canadian government has kissed up to it every step of the way.

We should remember that on Remembrance Day. But we never do. We gloss over the reality with that meaningless word - patriotism. (Next time you hear that, remember that the naziis were patriots, too.)

Remember, on this day of remembrance, that we have shattered just about every promise we made to those who served.

1 comment:

  1. As a follow-up to your comments about the uber-wealthy hiding their money in various ‘shelters’ and of the value of the CBC generally, a couple of points. The release of the Paradise Papers, seems to have been seen by the CBC as an opportunity to embarrass certain individuals, Bromfman (Trudeau), Mulroney, Chretien, Martin, the ticket scalper. Fine, however I’m more inclined to agree with B. Sanders that the message in PP is that there is a large global oligarchy for whom the tax havens are simply standard procedure. All of it legitimized more or less over the years by dodgy tax law and little oversight.To focus on a few individuals like the CBC is to miss the point entirely. Also, we now learn that three people, Gates, Bezos and Buffett have as much wealth as the half of Americans. Do the three pay as much tax as the bottom half, the “little people”.
    Also seems like some big oil interests want Iranian and Venezuelan crude of the markets to lessen supply and hike value of their (Saudi, etc.) oil. Demand for oil worldwide will likely drop as renewables become prevalent so time to kick a couple of big competitors to the kerb.