Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Down The Memory Hole -- 2010 Sucked! Part One

I'm not a big fan of journalism that feels a need to rank the year's most important stories by how much attention they received by the various media. That same media we all know has a self-serving corporate tilt to the right and inane stories about celebrities misbehaving. Stories about policy and its effects on our everyday life are not what the alphabet soup of ABC NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, FOX are in the business of providing. As I've said on the radio show repeatedly, "they exist to sell you  soap, corporate propaganda and wars, and they are damned good at it!"

 How else can you explain Canada being in a shooting war on the other side of the planet with Afghanistan? That still ranks as one of the year's most important stories in Canada -- it's just hard to tell by how little the MSM pays it any attention. Canada just signed on for 3 more years behind the wire when there is no behind the wire, like it was today for two American soldiers who gave their lives while behind the wire. Of course, as we well know the Americans haven't so much quit Iraq as they've just got fewer soldiers there. They've left 50,000 behind as well as a well-armed cadre of modern day mercs. Another one of the year's more important stories imho.

 And just to make my point about a scandal obsessed media for me, during the course of the show I generally take a peruse of the headlines from around a handful of various news sites around web and over at CNN on the top of this morning's news page was a story about our heroine Lindsay Lohan who "violated" her probation, or something -- sounded hot! The Captain and the raunchy videos story were the co-feature.

This on a morning when there was an assassination in Pakistan, the Republicans are going to repeal healthcare and destroy the EPA, there was more WikiLeaks stuff being put out there to go with the stuff that is already out there but not garnering a lot of attention  -- over at Alternet, Fred Branfman says if we're paying attention to the important stories that arise from the leak of the cables you'll get a sense of just how much the government lies to us and it should make you uncomfortable.

He also alarmingly postulates that if General McChrystal is correct about how for every death of an innocent you are creating ten new enemies then,

...every American should tremble at the long-term danger to America caused by the last decade of U.S. war-making in the Muslim world. If only 1/100th of 1% of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims are moved to want to attack America because of America's post-9/11 killing of Muslim civilians, for example, the U.S. Executive will have created a pool of 160,000 Muslims devoted to murdering Americans.
It should go without saying, but how can it in an era when the press is as short-sighted as their gullible readers, that there's no thought, no discussion given to the long-term and far-reaching consequences of these actions. And while that won't play out for some time -- 15 to 20 years or more -- remember all this horrible stuff since the beginning of the two wars began in 2001 and 2003 respectively are just prologue... to the really bad stuff.  History is funny and exacting in that way.
Amongst the year's top stories of course is the continuing release of diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks. When you look at the breadth and depth of  you are left with a feeling of having fallen down the rabbit hole where the narrative closely resembles about half the dystopian science fiction novels you read as a kid.

Seemingly no matter how bad you think the bad guys can be, they can always be worse. For instance,
The US embassy in Paris advising Washington to start a military-style trade war against any European Union country which opposes genetically modified (GM) crops, newly released WikiLeaks cables show. 

And,
The British government has been training a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organisations as a "government death squad", leaked US embassy cables have revealed.

Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which has been held responsible for hundreds of extra-judicial killings in recent years and is said to routinely use torture, have received British training in "investigative interviewing techniques" and "rules of engagement".
 These are the important stories to take away from WikiLeaks. Not Mr. Assange's flamboyance, his alleged crime or the US government's very real hatred of him. These are not the story and as to his alleged crime from the day the charge was made then withdrawn and then made again -- it always stunk of a set-up for someone the US considers an enemy. Just today, Daniel Ellsberg said that having heard Assange's account he has reason to believe the charges are false and slanderous -- which would hardly be shocking.

From my point of view, Occam's razor applies here and I'm inclined to take Mr. Ellsberg's assurances. I could still be swayed but even if I were, the information's importance so far exceeds most any criminal act one man could commit that it simply doesn't matter. Nor does it diminish the truth that's contained in those same leaks where it seems that as time goes along and the leaks continue more and more will be exposed for who they truly are. This story is far from over.

People believe some bizarre and contradictory things about WikiLeaks (ignore the headline there and note, ...a 48% to 40% plurality believes that "the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment...gives organizations and individuals the right to post any information given to them.") That's the inconvenient part of the narrative.

Here in Canada the continuing implementation of Stephen Harper's agenda has to be the year's most important story. This is exemplified in the massive omnibus bill that amongst other things now allows for the sell-off of the power division of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., the privatization of part of Canada Post and a major restructuring of environmental assessments. He got his way on this through abuse of process, contempt for Parliament and political threats. It hardly seem like the sort of platform one would want to take to the public for approval. It's the likely reason the Tories are talking sweetly to the socialists and seperatistes.


The bill in question is nearly 900 pages long. It's so big, in fact, that parliamentary expert Ned Franks observes it is nearly half the length of the sum total of all legislation passed last year. This monumental size is due to the presence of many matters entirely unrelated to the budget. The conservative leaning Globe and Mail, said of the bill,
Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with these moves, all properly deserve attention as standalone bills. The proposal on Canada Post, for instance, was twice a separate bill that died ignominiously on the Order Paper. Now the government claims the entire package is a matter of confidence
Sadly that never happened. The Federal Liberals caved in the spring, Liberal Senators didn't show up to vote against the bill's ratification in the summer and it is now the law of the land, and very few Canadians know what is in that monstrosity. In a similar vein the Tories also disemboweled Statistics Canada for what would charitably be called ideological reasons and PM Harper also got rid of pesky independent minded bureaucrats. A good year for him even though there was stagnation in the polls. He rammed through his agenda all year long and didn't lose ground. -- that's gotta be a plus for him.

 As for this year in Canadian politics there'll be an opportunity for Iggy to show how courageous he is. He can't suddenly change into a more dynamic and appealing candidate so if he does oppose the coming Tory budget and force an election (an act of bravery) he will have to convince Canadians to vote on policy and appeal to their decency if he wants to win. That's not going to be easy in this age.

Tomorrow the rest of the year's top stories.

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