Megalomedia - Wake up to your news

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Stuffed full of sacri-licious chocolate

I'm sure glad Jesus had that pet bunny and that he broke chocolate eggs with the disciples at the Last Supper. Makes for a good long weekend for me. To those who wondered what happened to last Thursday's update. . . I cacked off. By the time I'd been through all the papers that morning I was unable to think clearly enough to rant for you all. Sorry. This week is going to be equally crazy for me, so sadly there will be no Megalomedia this Thursday either. But tune in tomorrow and next week for your daily dose of morbid irony and scathing cynicism. Hey Citizen, you got a little something on your chin there. . . In the ultimate display of mastubatory self-indulgence, the Citizen's lead story, A1 above the fold, is a sparkling tribute to the wonderous, virtuous Ottawa Citizen. They forwent (forgoed?) their usual teasers above the masthead and everything, all in the name of their 160th birthday. I love this subhead: "With these words as its motto, the Citizen made its debut in Ottawa on this day in 1845. Conceived in jail as an instrument of revenge, the paper has since become an institution" *Sniffle* It's all so beautiful, not to mention newsworthy. Oh, wedged below the wholesome photo of a happy-go-lucky paperboy from 1941 and the turn to page A6 for more on our history are three tiny little brief boxes with turns into the paper as well. Apparently there was some major earthquake or something. Luckily all the white people had gone home after the last one, so no need to play that bad boy up. Live or die, that whole dignity thing is out the window Am I a jerk because I don't really care about Terri Schiavo? The whole thing is getting a tad morbid, even for me. Should she be kept technically alive just because the technology is available? Probably not. Should the solution be starving and dehydrating her to death? I don't really think so either. From what I undersdand, she isn't aware of anything anyway and the removal of the tube is the humane way to do it, but I don't know, what if she can feel? Regardless, what really gets me is the obvious agenda in the media. Remember early on when all the little headshots of Terri were recent, that sort of dazed look in her hospital bed? I guess that didn't garner enough sympathy, because the right-wing (and pro-life) media have moved over to the healthy, vibrant Terri headshots. Terri at her wedding. Terri smiling to the camera.You wouldn't kill Terri, would you? Both sides of this dispute should be ashamed of themselves for politicizing this woman's life and death. The media should be ashamed for allowing them to. If anyone really cared, they'd let her live or die in peace. Shh. . . Syria's pulling out In case you haven't been following along, here's Lebanese-Syrian Relations 101 for you. A few weeks ago, a former Lebanese Prime Minister got shot. Lebanese people blamed Syria, who have maintained a somewhat menacing presence in Lebanon for years. Anti-Syrian Lebanese rallied for democracy and Syria's pullout (Mainstream media rejoices!). More Pro-Syrian Lebanese rally for Syria (Mainstream media gets a sammich, misses the story). Even more anti-Syrian rallies (Mainstream media finishes sammich, runs story on A1). Syria promises to pull out (Mainstream media passes on low-bro pun, offers guarded optimism). Bush calls bullshit (Mainstream media pulls mouth off of Bush's dick long enough to file the story for A1). Latest news: Syria is actually pulling out their troops as promised, despite the lack of formal agreement with Lebanon on timetable entirley contrary to what Bush suggested. And the media sleeps. The Toronto Sun and Montreal Gazette get the story. Few others do. KILL ANNAN! KILL ANNAN! Wow, the Post can barely contain its excitement about the pending UN report on the Oil-for-Food scandal eh? Unlike them, I'm going to wait to comment until I see the report, but the Post has already concluded that Annan will have to either resign or pin the blame all on his son. Nepotism is okay if you're the Prime Minister of Canada or President of the United States, but not the UN Secretary General, I get it. And in the 'weep for humanity' file: Globe and Mail, A1: McDonald's is going to pay rappers to say nice things about their products. McDonald's will get to vet the lyrics and approve the message before it is released. It's another creepy example of the dominance of commercialism in music, right up their with Nelly and his Air Force Ones and Celine Dion whoring for Air Canada. I'd like to thank my man Chewie for introducing me to some genuine hip-hop, because I was ready to write off the whole genre. Hang in there Mos-Def, I'm sure someday this whole corporate-whore-agenda will blow over. It's mathematics.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Short and sweet

I don't get enough sleep. Especially this week. So this is going to be a pretty quick little post, as my bed is calling my name. Oh it's not important Susan Delacourt reported in the Toronto Star that Commons Speaker Peter Milliken ruled that an agreement reached between all parties that would have seen a House vote on missile defence was too vague to really be an agreement, and thus, didn't censure the Liberals. This is a fairly significant ruling, no? Basically, Milliken decided that an agreement reached by all parties wasn't valid, and instead cleared the government of wrongdoing. The Globe, Post, Citizen, Gazette etc. all missed it. The worst part? The government said that since the status quo remained, Canada didn't really make a decision on missile defence at all, therefore no vote was necessary. You'd think that if the Liberals and the Speaker were going to shut down this Censure motion, they'd at least co-ordinate. As it stands, the Liberals didn't even contest the fact that they had to put a decision to a vote, instead claiming that they didn't make a decision. But nobody called them on their shit. The Star ran a very basic story outlining what Milliken said and nobody else even touched it. The Liberal argument is bullshit, when you exchange letters and formally start negotiations on possible involvement in missile defence, that changes the status quo. At some point, a decision has to be made with regards to those negotiations. And Milliken's ruling is depressing because what is left of Parliamentary co-operation now? Why should any party believe they have any say at all in this minority government? The government and Milliken failed, and the media failed to report on it. Boo all around. There's a few other things I thought about going into, but I'll just mention them in passing and let you all debate, cause I'm fading fast here. First, I can't believe how quickly the "Why did he do it?" stories are coming up with regards to the school shooting in the U.S. He was a loner. He was goth He was bullied. His dad is dead. His mom is sick. He posted to Nazi forums. Guns are too prevalent. Natives have been mistreated. Second, there were a few reports from on "off-the-record briefing" with White House officials in Washington about Canada-U.S. relations. This is just nuts. We're doing off-the-record press conferences now? What the hell? Finally, the Globe reported on concerns about U.S. interference in Nicaragua again. Watch this bad boy develop, I'm sure we haven't heard the last of that. Woot.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A day of smoked meat and field research

I'm going on a field trip today. A field trip. I'm 24 years old, working on my second bachelor's degree, and I'm going on a field trip. How cool is that? I just gotta remember to get mom to sign my permission slip and I'm Montreal bound! Schwartz's Deli is a historical site, right? Charles Gordon is a filthy hypocrite Charles Gordon complained today that the world has ignored Darfur. He blames the media and its fixation on trivial events. Really Charles Gordon? It's good of you to get on the bandwagon - 18 months late. Charles Gordon gets three columns a week. That's roughly 12 columns a month, as a low-ball estimate. Keeping on the rough estimate track, Charles Gordon has written 215 or so columns since the crisis in Darfur began. What were those columns about? Pop stars like Hilary Duff (Jan. 18, 2005). The demise of the "I. Am. Canadian" beer commercials (March 19, 2005). Golf balls as gifts, thanks to the sponsorship scandal (Feb. 12, 2005). The difficulty of being a speech writer at election time (Jan. 6, 2004). In fairness, Gordon writes some more hard-hitting pieces as well, but there's an inherent hypocrisy in criticizing the media for focusing on sensational stories rather than legitimate crises when you yourself have written sensational stories while a crisis rages. It's good that Darfur is in the media, it really is. More columnists should write about the failure of the Western world, but even Gordon's column decrying the media's pandering to gossip and celebrity spends more time talking about the gossip buzzwords than about the situation in Darfur. Canada gets in on the Wolfowitz lovefest So Canada's apparently down with the Wolfowitz for World Bank vibe. A spokesman for Finance Minsiter Ralph Goodale said "at this point, we welcome Mr. Wolfowitz's nomination." He also said "Mr. Wolfowitz is a serious and credible candidate." At which point, Canadian journalists asked. . . Nothing, evidently. No "Why is he credible?" No "What relevant experience does he have?" No "What about his penchant for bombing brown people?" Just the sound of scribes furiously logging the government line. Okay, the file is short today, I have to get rolling. If I miss this field trip, I won't get to go to the class party at the end of the term.

Monday, March 21, 2005

I too want a martini named after me

Welcome, friends. How was your weekend? Good? Mine too. Caught up on some sleep, had a few beers with friends, caught up, that sort of thing. But enough of the pleasantries. "How far to Club Super Sexe?" So a bunch of Tories walk into a bar... Or at least I assume they did. You wonder why they held their convention in Montreal? To reach out to alienated Quebecois? Anyway, I didn't have the stomach to read each and every columnist's masturbatory praise for the well-catered buffets, but I read enough of the "news" reports to provide megalomedia readers with this concise story. This is, in a nutshell, what every report on the convention said. MONTREAL - OMG, did you see Belinda Stronach and Peter MacKay together? They're SOO going to get married some day. Speaking of MacKay, he must have really pissed off Harper, did you see him kick that chair? Did you get to Belinda's party? She booked an entire bar and served martinis named after MPs, it was really cool. Far cooler than Harper's party, thus proving that he hasn't got the party's support. Oh yea, and there was some policy decisions on defence, abortion, same-sex marriage and trade. And some Young Liberal got jumped. I know it's a lot to ask, but could we go back to the time when journalists didn't party with MPs? When you could walk into a convention and be able to tell who was attending and who was covering? When the coverage focuses more on the parties and who's mad at who, what's the point? Granted, policy convention resolutions are so far from actual party policy that it would be foolish to dedicate to much coverage to them (see Liberal Convention: coverage of), but why then must there be so much coverage at all? Why not report on... I don't know, UN peacekeepers killed in Haiti? Just a thought. George Jonas makes me weep George Jonas hurt my head today. Check out this argument. The Air India ruling was good beacuse it reaffirmed Canada's faith in the rule of law. So far, so good. The rule of law is what separates us from the re-education camps in China and the Taliban training grounds. Erm. . . That would work, if it wasn't for Canada's complacent nature regarding Guantanamo or use of national security certificates. But wait, Jonas addresses those very concerns: "In the borderland between [the rule of law] and [outside the rule of law], there's a region reserved for national security, social engineering, public hygiene and special or emergency legislation, such as America's Patriot Act or Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act." So there you have it, it's okay to live outside the rule of law, so long as it is for national security. So, Mr. Jonas, who then decides what falls where? You? Bush? If Jonas was the only one who thought this way, that would be one thing, but this inherent belief that basic human rights (such as the rule of law) can be compromised in the name of national security has essentially become the basis of modern Western democracies. And rather than challenge that, rather than use their soapbox to question this bullshit, columnists like Jonas do the government's work for them. Remember how enraged CanWest was when the RCMP raided Juliet O'Neill's house and office? How the fuck is that any different than raiding a mosque? Where does the line fall between that and locking up a Muslim because he once talked to someone who once talked to Osama Bin Laden? Jonas' column is dangerous because it makes people complacent. It justifies the violation of basic human rights and makes a mockery of the rule of law that he so proudly lauds. Search and ye shall find Check out this headline: "Al-Qaeda link sought in blast." Or this lead: "Investigators hunted for clues yesterday to any possible al-Qaeda involvement in the suicide bomb attack by an Egyptian on a Qatar theatre that killed a Briton, the first such attack in the U.S.-allied Gulf Arab state." So investigators are looking for an al-Qaeda link? Does this not bother anyone else? Shouldn't they be objectively (as much as anything can be objective) investigating the blast, rather than looking to pin it on al-Qaeda? And, more to the point, shouldn't someone question this? Can't a reporter stand up and say "Excuse me, but can you really carry out a fair investigation if you've already assumed it's an al-Qaeda act?" The sad truth is no, a reporter can't do that. Because they'll be blacklisted. They won't get access to sources anymore. We live in a world where questions are screened and reporters are worried more about maintaining their place in the inner circle than asking real questions. Yes, it's the way the world works, but the media only gives this circus show legitimacy by bowing to it. They had their chance to say no, to refuse to be pre-screened, and they passed on it. Now they reap what they sew. Wolfowitz-a-palooza I guess it wasn't enough that the Globe and Mail had to lie to prop up ol' Wolfie, the Post's Matthew Fisher had to add to the love-fest by explaining that Wolfie's not so bad. See, once upon a time, Fisher was embedded with a U.S. batallion in Iraq, and one poor chap he got to know eventually ruptured an ear drum, lost his left arm, his right hand and suffered severe wounds to his left leg fighting Wolfie's war. But then, as the soldier was being fitted with new limbs in a U.S. hospital, Wolfie came by to say hello. The two struck up a convo and eventually became best of friends. Wolfie even got the kid into Regan's funeral. So by Fisher's logic, Wolfie = "conservative with a sentimental heart" = good choice for World Bank. First of all, I don't think anyone questioned Wolfowitz's compassion for good ol' American boys. It's his feelings towards other countries' poor that is a worry. Secondly, Fisher does nothing to address the fact that Wolfowitz has no financial or accounting experience of any kind. Wolfowitz has plenty of backers in influential positions, don't worry. It should be up to the media - the watchdogs of democracy - to provide sober second thought. Offer some scrutiny. Put this guy through the wringer and see if he comes out clean on the other side. Instead, Fisher and the Globe decide to look for any justification for his appointment, no matter how insignificant (Fisher) or erroneous (Globe) it may be. Oh man, the Ottawa Sun's swimsuit edition comes out tomorrow. How stoked am I?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

I'm not the genius I thought I was

So it turns out that someone else thought to call their weblog megalomedia. Apparently the term bounces around a fair bit. I came up with it independently, but I guess I'm not a super genius. Fortunately, I was just shown a great website that cheers me up (in that same twisted way that this site does, by letting me affirm my delusional fears about the state of the world). Check this out. You can play a six degrees of separation type game with corporate big-wigs in the U.S. and see how fucked up the whole system is. Justice delayed is what again? I suppose I should talk about the Air India ruling, given the massive amount of coverage it got today. There's a lot to be said about the sensationalization of the story, but I suppose it's to be expected. A lot of parading out the victims and Blatchford-esque turns of phrase trying to capture their anguish. . . I guess my big complaint with all of that is the amount of victims' families that are quoted in stories today. These people have been dragged through so much because of this trial, of course they're going to give juicy quotes. But let the news settle first. People say outlandish things when they're riled up. Take this site, for example. I always post it, then go have a sammich and come back and read it a few minutes later. 'Cause when I get riled up, I say things that are over the top. Like when I call senior U.S. administration officials or right-wing columnists "fascists." I don't really mean that, and I know that such comments are libellous, so I retract them pretty quickly. Give these people a day or two, let them come to terms with what happened, then get their comments. I know it doesn't suit the corporate daily media's need for everything right now, but if you're going to lament the plight of these poor souls, stop exploiting them to suit your needs. Context, context, context The other aspect of the Air India coverage that gets me is the lack of context in all the "Give me inquiry or give me death" stories and editorials. First of all, how typically Canadian is that reaction? Arguably the largest failure of the justice system in Canadian history (failing to find the guilty ones, not failing to find these two guilty) and Canadians want an inquiry. But there are way too many columnists and sources focusing on CSIS and RCMP protocol. Was there a failure in the system? Sure, but you need to provide the context. The Air India bombing happened in 1985. CSIS wasn't a year old then. It was created because the powers that be (powers that were? How do you past tense that?) realized that the RCMP sucked at intelligence gathering. But the Air India thing was the first big test for the brand new agency. It doesn't justify the bungling of the case, but it helps understand how it could happen. Their policies have changed. They are much more effective now (look at how easily they were able to strip away the civil rights of Canadian citizens as part of the war on terrorism). Yes, there's a lot of questions about how the Air India case was handled, but don't make it sound as though CSIS and the RCMP haven't changed the way they operate in the last 20 years. The inquiry shouldn't be about intelligence policy today, it should be about this case and what went wrong. Let's see, where was that coup we helped stage again? Hey, guess what? The Citizen ran a delightful little story saying Transparency International, the "leading global non-governmental organisation devoted to combating corruption" (according to their website, anyway), cited Haiti as the most corrupt country in the world! That's all they had to say about that though, the rest of the story was about Iraq and tsunami aid. Democratically-elected governments overthrown with Canada's help in Iraq? 0 Democratically-elected governments overthrown with Canada's help in Haiti? 1 Shouldn't the media be a little more concerned that the most corrupt nation in the world is being run by a government we helped install? Oh wait, the Citizen took the story from the Times of London. No point in localizing that bad boy, eh? Of course, the Globe's story, which they wrote, didn't even mention Haiti, so what do I know? Oh, there's more. The Toronto Star reported that Iraq has joined the ranks of the world's poorest countries. Yup, right up there with Senegal and Haiti. Clearly some of the problems in Haiti date back to before the coup, but Canada's pouring a tonne of aid money into the country and we helped install the government there. The media has a responsibilty to report on how the country is coping. But rest assured, Pettigrew is in Port-au-Prince, solving the problems as we speak. Speaking of ignoring the plight of poor brown people. . . Darfur made the news again! And by "made the news," I mean got in four papers, three of which are in the Sun chain. Apparently the UN moved all of its personnel out of Western Darfur and into the regional capital. Interesting. Even more interesting is that the Post finally got around to reporting the 180,000 dead Sudanese that the UN talked about earlier this week. Sadly, the Post is not only late to the story, they are misleading. Here's their lead: "The United Nations has withdrawn its international staff from parts of Darfur, were it now puts the death toll at 180,000 and escalating." Ooops, kind of omitted that whole 'doesn't include those killed in the genocide' part. Well, not omitted, but buried in the 11th paragraph. 180,000 dead Sudanese should be a big enough number to get the world pissed, but the sad, sad fact is that many more people have been killed there. It's a disgrace. The papers love to laud Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire for his struggle to bring the world's attention to Rwanda but they completely ignore the genocide in Sudan. When will we learn our lesson? A wolf in banker's clothing I'm sure you've heard by now, WarHawk #1 Paul Wolfowitz has been tagged for the World Bank presidency. I really expected the Post to have an orgasm about this, but aside from their shitty sub-headline, "May signal plan to spread freedom via development," they were pretty reserved. It was the Globe that wrapped their lips around his lower appendage today. Allow me to quote them, with my own little annotations added for flavour: "Mr. Wolfowitz may have baggage, but it includes many of the skills needed to run the bank" Okay so far, I guess. "As deputy defence secretary since 2001, he has been in charge of the biggest government agency in the United States, administering two million military and civilian personnel." And overseeing the single largest contributor to the record-setting multi-trillion-dollar deficit... what was that about "skills needed to run the bank?" "As assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, he helped preside over the transition of the Philippines to democracy." Hmm, CIA World Factbook, wanna take this one? "The 21-year rule of Ferdinand Marcos ended in 1986, when a widespread popular rebellion forced him into exile and installed Corazon Aquino as president. Her presidency was hampered by several coup attempts, which prevented a return to full political stability and economic development." Right, and when was Wolfie in that post? 1982-86? Gotcha. "As ambassador to Indonesia, he saw development up close in the world's most populous Muslim country." Again, CIA World Factbook, I leave this to you. "Current issues include: alleviating widespread poverty, preventing terrorism, continuing the transition to popularly-elected governments after four decades of authoritarianism, implementing reforms of the banking sector, addressing charges of cronyism and corruption, holding the military and police accountable for human rights violations, and resolving armed separatist movements in Aceh and Papua." Maybe when you decide to list a series of non-banking related successes to justify a banking appointment, you should ensure that the successes weren't actually failures. But in good news, Paul Cellucci is leaving the country tomorrow. I plan to celebrate by getting naked, wiping my ass with my White House toilet paper (best $7 I ever spent) and listening to some David Cross. Fuck you Cellucci, get the hell out of my country.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Megalomedia - the web-based ray of hope for all

So we all remember the Atlanta courthouse shooting right? The Globe has a creepy little story about Ashley Smith, the single mother whose house the suspect hid in. Turns out she stayed calm, read a few good Christian stories to the man and called the cops. Okay, she deserves praise. But the Globe reports that she has already received four book offers and been approached by one movie studio. Wow. I was still kind of reeling from that when I read The Post's Bruce Garvey's column entitled " Amid Atlanta's madness, a blonde ray of hope." Allow me to share some of his most sparkling gems: "And then, through the gloom and despair of it all, there comes a shining light, a blond ray of hope that there is some residue of goodness left in the world." " Bound with masking tape and electrical cord, Smith feared the worst. Yet somehow, she retained enough poise and faith to talk down the murderous fugitive" "Amen to that and thank God for the likes of Ashley Smith, a honky-tonk angel if ever there was one." I guess someone's making a play for Christie Blatchford's old column space. It's okay to rough them up, right? The Globe was the only paper to report that U.S. military officials admitted at least 26 prisoners in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan have died as a result of "criminal homicide." That's murder. Even if (and this is a stretch) every single one of those cases was inmate on inmate violence, the U.S. still has the responsibility to protect those people from harm. 26 people dead. And how many of those had been charged with a crime? The Globe has a great point too, only one of the 26 occurred at Abu Ghraib. Remember when Bush said prisoner abuse was the work of a band of rogue soldiers in an isolated incident? Yea, me too. So why didn't more Canadian papers get this story? After all, Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan have turned countless suspects over to U.S. authorities, so we're complicit too. Canadians, Americans and anyone who really believes in freedom should be enraged by this. Instead, Michael Jackson gets more coverage. Haiti again? Pierre Pettigrew is in Haiti today, raise your hands if you knew that. If your hand isn't up, rest assured, you're not alone. The CP wire had this, but few papers picked up on it. None of the big boys did. Pettigrew is there to check up on the UN operation and make sure things are ready for the election coming up later this year. He also wants to address the "urgent" need to disarm gangs. Those would be the gangs responsible for about half of the killings in Haiti in the past year, the other half are part of the U.S-backed interim government, but they don't need to be disarmed, they're "soldiers." It's nice of ol' Petey Pettigrew to pop by, but really, given the level of attention paid to Haiti since a U.S.-backed coup overthrew a democratically-elected leader, I can't imagine anything getting done. The government has better things to worry about, and the press would rather talk about other things, like blonde rays of hope and Bush's "success" in the Middle East. Terror, thy name is Seamus In a wonderful news story (the bolding will become clear later), Steven Edwards reports on the changing attitude towards the IRA in the U.S. He notes that although the IRA is by definition a terrorist group (in the same way the American Revolutionaries of the 18th Century or the U.S.-backed insurgents in Haiti are), only recently has political opinion of the group gone awry. Or at least, that's what he should have said. Instead, Edwards writes this: "With the IRA under fire over a series of recent crimes (among them the murder of a Roman Catholic family man, the staging of the world's biggest bank robbery and the laundering of huge sums of money), Mr. Adams is finally getting the cold shoulder many believe he has long deserved." Oh, he doesn't attribute that "many" who believe Adams deserves the cold shoulder. He goes on: "That's a pretty powerful list of snubs in a country where the IRA, for three decades, tapped into misguided Irish-American romanticism about the nature of the group's struggle and clandestinely raised untold millions to finance its post-1969 attacks on civilians and soldiers in Northern Ireland and the British mainland." Misguided Irish-American romanticism, now that's objective news reporting. Well if Vanity Fair says it's true. . . The Citizen ran an opinion piece by Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens that says the discovery of facilities capable of building a nuclear bomb justifies Bush's decision to invade Iraq. Um, Mr. Hitchens? Bush said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. So did Rumsfeld. They didn't say they had facilities capable of building nuclear bombs, they said he had them.That's a key difference. Just what defines a facility capable of building nuclear bombs? In World War II, tractor factories were turned into munitions factories, are they facilities capable of building nuclear bombs? I have a brain, I can learn stuff, does that make me capable of building a nuclear bomb? Perhaps we need lobotomies for all, just to be safe. The fact that Vanity Fair and Slate (where the article first ran) would publish this shit is sad. The fact that the Citizen is so married to its agenda that it reprints it is deplorable. Barry Cooper: Toughest Man Alive I normally don't cast my net of cynicism to regional papers outside the area (Ontario-centrist that I am), but Barry Cooper's column in the Calgary Herald is too good to pass on. For those who don't know, Cooper works at the U of Calgary's miltary studies department. I have wonderful mental images of a tree-house, boys-only club where leadership is picked by whipping out their dicks and seeing whose is biggest, but I digress. Cooper argues in favour of grizzly bear hunting because "the whole point about hunting a bear instead of a deer or a goose is to measure your own nature by courting a natural danger. ... this is why the spring grizzly hunt in Alberta expresses a hardiness -- yea, a manliness -- that can yet be celebrated." That's right, shooting an unarmed bear from 100 feet is a feat of manliness. This has given me an idea for a wonderful charity event. Barry Cooper vs. an Alberta Grizzly: Live from a Steel Cage. No weapons, no rules... NO MERCY! Let's see how manly you really are Mr. Cooper. Oh and finally, there's a story about pirates in the Montreal Gazette today! Real life, swashbuckling pirates! I'm not sure how one goes about buckling a swash, but who cares! Pirates! YARRGH!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The one in which Joe is enraged

Before we get this bad boy rolling, I've got to get something off my chest. My good buddy Dan hit on this when there was a story about a lesbian high school student who was banned from her grad class photo for wearing a tux. Now we have something similiar in our own backyard. A 15-year-old girl from Franco-Ouest catholic high school in Nepean is going to be suspended if she shows up next week because *GASP* she has a piereced nose and tongue. Evidently, the school has decided to start enforcing their dress code in March. The story is here. This is insane. Teachers and parents spend countless hours telling kids that it's okay to be different. It's okay to be an individual. Then they pull this shit? Pascal Lajoie, the school's chief administrator, admits that "instead of having a degree of tolerance this year, we have less." Why, exactly? Does the tiny little nose stud pose a threat to student safety? Does her tongue piercing inhibit her ability to learn? Kids aren't dumb. They aren't going to buy your bullshit lines promoting individuality when one of their own sits at home because her nose is pierced. You want to ban something? Ban Cosmo and their unrealistic images of "beauty." Ban all those Hollywood insider magazines that elevate celebrities to godlike status. Ban things that can really hurt. Lajoie, you're a disgrace to teaching. And if Megalomedia readers agree, say so. LajoiP@ceclf.edu.on.ca But we sent them a Senator! Damn it, Toronto Star, why you gotta fuck with our innocence! The Star reported that the UN announced 180,000 people have died in Darfur in the last 18 months.180,000 people. One newspaper. Oh, sorry, that's only the ones who died of illness and malnutrition. The UN won't even try to count those killed in the genocide. Why isn't this all over the papers? Why is the media turning a blind eye to this? It can't even be dismissed as "some lefty" group trying to sell the world on the crisis. It's the freakin' UN! 180,000 people dead of illness and malnutrion. One newspaper. And an A16 brief to boot. Wow. Remember that whole fake newscast thing? The Gazette has a great little report today. It turns out that while Congress wants the government to stop making fake news reports for television news broadcasts, White House lawyers still want to make them. "They can be a cost-effective means to distribute information through local news outlets, and their use by private and public entities has been widespread since the early 1990s, including by numerous federal agencies." So that makes it okay, you see. The lack of coverage of this in Canada has been shameful, but I guess we should count our blessings. Man I hate Bush. Lebanon... We're not still on THAT are we? There was another rally in Lebanon yesterday. Even bigger than the last. It was anti-Syria, so it good some good coverage. A1 in the Globe, lead story in the world section of the Post (complete with big photo), same deal in the Citizen. Not much to add, just underlines how unbalanced the coverage of the whole mess has been. Oh, but on that fun note, David Frum has another gem today. In a column on the new U.S. undersecretary for public diplomacy (that such a post exists cracks me up), he mentions the rally: "When Lebanese patriots bring hundreds of thousands of flag-waving demonstrators into the streets to demand that Syria free their country, they are sending a message that not even al-Jazeera can pervert." That's David Frum of the National Post. Your source for balanced coverage of Lebanese protests. Where was that pro-Syrian rally again. . . oh right. Of course, Frum also opens by citing his own book, clearly he has his finger on the pulse. Libel, what's libel? Check out the Citizen's coverage of the triple murder in Ottawa. They've convicted the guy. I won't bother listing the examples, but they're just pissing all over Canadian libel law. China gettin' freakay Maisonneuve's media watch picked up on the lack of coverage of China yesterday, but I was on other tangents so I'll mention it today. Over the weekend, China approved going to war to prevent Taiwan from gaining independence. Why that didn't get much play, I'll never understand. And today, the Citizen reported that the Dalai Lama said he wants Tibet to be part of China, but he wants their culture and religion respected. I can only assume that China took control of his brain, but shouldn't that be in other papers? Doesn't that seem like a radical departure for Mr. Lama? Okay, I was going to go on a tangent about the use of the term "expert" in stories, but I'm spent from the piercing story. But take a look at how liberally that term is applied these days. I'm sure another rant is forthcoming.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Godless potheads seize the day

Where would we be if there was no coffee in the world? I suppose chocolate bars would be bigger sellers. Reefer Madness! It's so nice when the media does the politicians' job for them. Quoth the Globe and Mail's Campbell Clark on A4, second paragraph (the 'nut' graph, for j-skoolers). "New attention has been focused on grow-ops since the killing of four RCMP officers during a raid 11 days ago. That has prompted MPs to consider joining the ranks of those who complain that judges have been too lenient on a criminal activity that is causing harm in many communities." Hmm, is that the same raid that the RCMP commissioner said had less to do with a grow-op than initially suggested? I guess Globe readers would never know, given that Canada's national news source hasn't bothered to report that little kernel of information. Rather than report that MPs have twisted this tragedy to suit their agenda, why doesn't Clark call them on their shit? Clark then goes on to report that MPs are calling for mandatory minimum sentencing for grow-ops, which is an inherently bad idea. Minimum sentincing doesn't allow for discretion for special cases - someone growing medicinal marijuana, for example. But Clark is politicizing the issue for them, doing their legwork and pushing their spin. (insert insensitive "tsunami of aid" pun here) At the risk of sounding like a complete dickhead, perhaps the rush to donate money to tsunami relief agencies was a tad . . . disorganized? International Co-operation Minister Aileen Carroll is all over the place today, demanding that aid agencies get their act together and demand some of Canada's massive pile of tsunami aid. Apparently these agencies are too busy helping people and spending the private sector donations to file the requisite paperwork to get federal cash. The outpouring of aid warmed my heart, it truly did, but the way the media hyped the cause and the subsequent oneupmanship among world leaders was a bit much. Day in and day out for weeks on end, the media published sad personal stories and captivating photos and citizens and their government responded in kind. Meanwhile, thousands of people killed in Sudan and nobody blinked. Uganda is embroiled in a civil war between armies of child soldiers and nobody (except Allan Rock, it's in today's papers too) noticed. Congo spins further into the spiral of poverty that has beset it since colonial times. AIDS kills millions in Africa. A goodwill spirit engulfed the Western world, but rather than seize the opportunity to present other crises, the mainstream media took the easy route, politicians followed suit and now millions of dollars in aid sit uncollected. And Africans continue to die in droves. And the news hook is. . . non-existent! Tell me what this headline says to you. "Canadians sign up for duty with U.S. Army: Much-Needed Recruits." If you said "oh, I guess Canadians are signing up for duty in the U.S. to help address the shortage of recruits," you'd be wrong. The Post's Tom Blackwell reports that more than 50 Canadian citizens have volunteered to join the U.S. Army since the war in Iraq began. Wow, that's kind of interesting. I guess they were inspired by the noble fight for freedom, right? Oh wait, look at paragraph two, where Blackwell provides what we in the media biz like to call "context." "Douglas Smith, a spokesman for the army's recruitment command, said the army hasn't tried to find potential soldiers in Canada as it struggles with growing recruitment challenges." And a bit further down: "The number is typical of normal Canadian recruitment into the U.S. Army, even though recent volunteers have faced the likelihood of serving in Afghanistan or Iraq, he said." So to recap, Americans with Canadian citizenship (important to note, they are dual citizens, they have to be to enlist) typically enlist in the U.S. army, the number has not gone up or down because of the war and there is no additional push to recruit Canadians. Read the headline again. Then weep for the state of the media. This report not brought to you by the White House A great story appeared in the New York Times this weekend. Apparently, it wasn't enough for the White House to pay "pundits" to praise government initiatives. They also assembled complete broadcast news segments and sent them around to local TV stations, who then aired the pieces as packaged, often omitting the government-sponsored tagline at the end in favour of their own sign offs to disguise the fact that they were airing propaganda. Wow, given the ready access that most Canadians have to U.S. broadcast news, you'd think someone would report this in Canada, right? Wrong. Not a single story today. Look, I understand the hesitance to report on other outlets' reports, but this is the New York Times. It's cited as a source all the time in Canada. It's also the single most disturbing story I've ever read about the Bush administration, ever. And since no paper wants to give it to you, I will. It's right here. Wait, the Bible's against killing? Straight up, I can't figure this one out. The Citizen, understandably, devotes a lot of space to the triple murder in Ottawa yesterday. But the supplemental piece on A1 about the rarity of killing blood relatives leads with a quote from the Book of Exodus, where we're told to honour our mother and father. Um, what? We're providing biblical citations to major news events now? There's also a reference in the story to Cane and Abel, along with Hamlet and Greek mythology. I don't even know what to write about this one. If you're bored, there's plenty more on pot out there today, including a Globe editorial that says we should get tougher on weed cause the U.S. says so and an opinion piece by Liberal MP David Kilgour in the Citizen that propagates the ridiculous myth that pot smokers will all become hard drug users. I'll let you write your own scathing critiques of those two.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Too tired to be enraged

Wow, I don't know if it's the scandalous lack of sleep or the onset of a cold, but I just don't have the rage this morning. Don't get me wrong, I'm still pissed off, but just not really pissed off like most mornings. But I'll see what I can do. Don't trip as you backpedal Evidently that whole revolution in Lebanon was, well, not a revolution. Turns out the pro-Syrian folks in the Lebanese parliament have decided to vote the PM back into power. The more this thing plays out, the more it looks like a political battle between self-interested factions, not the dawning of a new day that the mainstream Canadian media made it out to be last week. In no big shocker this story was buried across the board. If a huge-ass pro-Syria rally can't get A1, there's no chance that a pro-Syrian parliamentary vote will. Shameful, but a guy lit himself on fire in front of Queen's Park yesterday, this story didn't stand a chance of getting big play. The real disappointment in the coverage came, not surprisingly, from the Post. They still manage to spin this as a failure for Syria - after all, Syria is this season's Iraq. The Post story cites comment from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who told Time magazine that he wanted to be involved in the international community. "Please send this message: I am not Saddam Hussein. I want to co-operate," he said. Which the Post followed immediately with this: "Yet on the streets of Damascus yesterday the regime tried to create a Saddam-like atmosphere of victory, with drums, chants, patriotic songs and flag-waving." A Saddam-like atmosphere? Was it a Saddam-like atmosphere in Ottawa on the weekend with all those damn Libeal thundersticks, chants and flag waving? What about every Bush rally in the past year? Were they Saddam-like? When they are stretching so far to draw comparisons between al-Assad and Hussein, it just gets insulting. Avian Flu!!! DANGER!!! I won't go into it in great detail here, but wow has this avian flu ever got a lot of coverage. CanWest in particular likes to run at least two stories per day per paper. Maybe it is a legit threat, but wow. Remember when SARS was going to kill us all? Or mad cow? Or Norwalk? Or drug-resistant bacteria? Can we please have some context here? The Toronto Star continues its cookie-earning ways The Star has a good little editorial on A20 today. Allow me to quote: "So what do the reprehensible acts of one unstable man have to do with marijuana laws and the gun registry? Despite what the lobbies would have us believe, not very much." That's right, the Star finally realized what some people (ahem, me) were saying days ago. That lobbyists are co-opting this tragedy to cynically advance their own agendas. They even finally got around to quoting RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, which the Globe has yet to do. The only thing they overlook is that it is not only overzealous lobbyists trying to score points on the corpses of four dead cops, it's the politicians too. Earlier this week, Harper promised he would not politicize the deaths of the cops. Yesterday, Harper said called into question "loopholes" that allowed the killer to roam the streets. He dispatched his deputy, Peter MacKay, to do the real dirty work though. He called the gun registry "a colossal failure that does not save lives." But they don't want to politicize the matter. Fuckers. And in a strange twist. . . Something made me excited and happy this morning. The Star (there they go again!) reported that Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire is in line for a Senate seat. They even cited speculation that he's already accepted. I can't put into words what an extremely good idea this is. Dallaire is a brave, intelligent, compassionate human being who understands the necessity of an army but also the limitations and ethical standards it should be held to. He'll compliment the passionate if not overzealous drive of Colin Kenney and together they might actually give us a military we can be proud of. And it'll make warrior-turned-columnist Lewis MacKenzie shit bricks. That's reason enough to do it. Bonne chance, M. Dallaire. Bonne chance.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Toronto Star gets a cookie

I want to thank everyone who's given me positive feedback on this thing. I guess people are actually reading it, so that's cool. Also, keep posting comments, see if we can't get nore debates going on some of this stuff. Also, tell your friends about the site, I'd love for word to get around about this thing. But enough of the warm fuzzies, I've got cynicism to unload. Middle East Protests II: Return of the Syrians Remember those anti-Syria protests in Lebanon? Sure you do, they were the front page story on every major daily last week (several times for the Post). Still not ringing any bells? What about the columnists, who decreed that Bush's policies in the Middle East were a success, and that freedom was - undoubtedly - on the march. Well, there were more protests yesterday. Much bigger ones. You'd think that sort of thing would be on A1 again, right? Oh wait, they were pro-Syrian rallies. But... freedom... marching... Better bury that bad boy... how's A10, Post? Citizen, you run it on A11. You too, Globe and Mail. The Toronto Star is the only paper that gets a pat on the head, for running it on A3, which is pretty consistent with the play they gave last week's rallies. The Ottawa Sun, on the other hand, ran a tiny little brief at the end of the news section, opposite a health feature on breast feeding illustrated by a photo of a baby suckling his mother's tit. Oh, sorry, the Citizen has a little teaser photo on A1 too, wedged between Syndey Crosby wearing his shiny new Reebok hat and the story with "stripper" in the headline. True, the Post and Globe gave it some column space too, with Marcus Gee using the rally as justification for clamping down harder on Syria and Salim Mansur pointing out just how fractured Lebanon really is, but it doesn't begin to rival the orgy of coverage that the anti-Syrian rallies got. I'm not going to go so far as to suggest the rally shows that more Lebanese favour Syrian rule, especially given that there is pretty clear evidence that Hezbollah organized the rally and brought in supporters from all over the region, but there is a responsibility to give both sides of a story equal weight. When you spend a week trumpeting protests as the coming of democracy in the region, you have to give something close to equal coverage of the opposite side's rally. At LEAST put it on A1 today. I don't expect columnists to recant, but the "news" coverage has to be somewhat balanced. RCMP Redux Remember that poorly-played story about the RCMP commissioner's quasi-apology? Nowhere today. No followups in the CanWest papers, no stories in the Globe or Toronto Star. Clearly it would be admitting they got burned by CanWest, but for Jumpin' Jesus on a Pogo Stick, you have a responsibility to inform your readers. Both papers played up the grow-op angle and both papers failed to clarify that. At least the Sun papers referred to the admission by covering Conservative MP Peter MacKay's reponse to it. I went into greater detail on this yesterday, but this story as well as the pro-Syrian rally are just glaring examples of agenda-driven news coverage. The Globe and Star put more value on protecting their egos than informing their readers - and that's unacceptable. Missile Defence again? On Feb. 23, Pierre Pettigrew told Condoleeza Rice that Canada would not take part in the missile defence program. Yesterday, Speaker Peter Milliken ruled that the government did not make a decision until Feb. 24, when it was announced in the House of Commons, thus ruling that Paul Martin did not mislead the House of Commons. So, either Pettigrew spoke on a matter of national security without government approval or Milliken just lied to cover up for Martin and, possibly, prevent a new election. Why was the Toronto Star the only paper to give this a full story? The Citizen ran a one paragraph brief on A10 and the Ottawa Sun mentioned it in the Parliamentary Briefs section. Oh, wait, the Cape Breton Post got the full story too, didn't mean to exclude them. This is fucking insane. The mainstream major dailies spent the better part of a week creating stories, spinning meaningless quotes and over-hyping unimportant sources to generate controversy about Canada's missile defence decision, and here we have a legitimate story and it's skipped. Someone should be nailed to a wall for this. Was it because it was the NDP that asked Milliken to rule? Did it happen too late in the news cycle? Was the fear-mongering over Avian Flu more important? It'll be interesting to see how the opposition deals with this today, and how the subsequent coverage flows. Haiti, is that still going on? One year ago, Canada stood by and offered support for a U.S.-sponsored overthrow of a democratically-elected leader in Haiti. Canada helped an armed insurgency overthrow a democratically-elected leader in Haiti. And then the media moved on. The Toronto Star ran a guest column by an indie journalist who has worked in the country talking about the coup that happened a year ago last week. And that's it. That's all there was. Anywhere. True, there were a few news briefs about the anniversary rallies in Haiti, but they were mostly in smaller, regional dailies. Nothing looked at Canada's involvement in the coup or the actual situation on the ground. Funny story on that note, actually. As most megalomedia readers know, I also work at the Charlatan, the student paper at Carleton University. A writer pitched a story to us that she first wrote while interning at CanWest. It was an interview with a documentary filmmaker who worked in Haiti and a broader feature on the situation there. CanWest didn't want it, apparently the part that pointed out that the Canadian media in Haiti covered only embassy press conferences and ignored pro-Aristide rallies didn't appeal to them. We're running it this week, it'll be at http://www.charlatan.ca by the end of the week. Blast a columnist? Well, okay. Check out Barbara Kay in the Post's Issues and Ideas section. Apparently, she and her husband decided to forgo Hollywood Beach for their annual winter getaway and instead go to New York City. Her husband booked them into a discount hotel, and oh the humanity! Now, don't get Ms. Kay wrong, she's stayed in scuzzy hotels before, mostly travelling with her daughter to horse shows and triathalons in B.C.'s interior. But this was too much! Don't worry, they were able to get out of their New York nightmare and into the Marriott. Her conclusion? "A lesson learned? For me, yes. Money, lots of it, is what buys happiness in New York City." There's a lesson for the kids. Tune in next week for her "Beauty through science: Why you're not okay the way you are" piece.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Set your faces to stun

Well, it appears as though claims about the Alberta shooter's marijuana grow-op were slightly exaggerated. Though every outlet led with the "shootout at a grow op" angle last week, it appears his operation was rather small and inconsequential to the whole thing. The media can be forgiven somewhat for that, given that RCMP commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli came out condemning such operations just hours after the shooting. But yesterday, Zaccardelli admitted that, perhaps, that was a bad call. He said "I gave what I believed was the best information I had knowing full well that at that time I didn't have all the information." Bold admission. So why did the Globe not get the story? And why did the Post bury it on A5, amidst a flurry of other pot-related articles? In fairness, many of the CanWest local papers gave the story the play it deserved, but wy did the national dailies let us down? Turns out the comments came in an interview with a CanWest reporter, thus explaining the Globe's silence (if you count the failure to ask poignant questions as an explanation), but why wasn't it on A1 in the Post? It's pretty standard journalistic practice that you clarify or correct misleading information by giving the new information the same play that the old information got. The grow-op angle was plastered all over A1 last week... it even took over the Liberal policy conference - why did the Post bail on us? The media can be forgiven for buying the RCMP line in the fog of deadline on a tragedy - though as pot activist Marc Emery points out in a few papers today, gun lobbyists, rural Albertans and fundamentalists Christians didn't get tarred the way marijuana growers did by this story (despite Blatchford's best efforts) - but there's a responsibility to update this story fairly. The Post didn't. We'll see how the Globe and other non-CanWest papers play it tomorrow. David Frum legitimizes my hate Oh David Frum, you so crazee. I admit, I was a bit taken a back by the first half of his column in the Post's new Issues and Ideas section. He almost seemed to be admitting that there are real concerns about the U.S. checkpoint policies in Iraq. But then it becomes clear that it's tokenism - he's justifying the irrational points he makes later by being "balanced" (See FOXNews: slogan of). In true Frum fashion, he talks around his point a bit, but he's arguing that the reason that the Italian journalist's car was shot in Iraq was because of Italy's policy of paying ransoms to kidnappers, therefore, it's Italy's fault that one man is dead and this journalist was wounded. I'm sorry, what? Frum argues that because Italy didn't tell the U.S. that the car was coming (ostensibly because they knew the U.S didn't approve of the ransom payment and they wanted her out of the country before the U.S. found out), it's understandable that the U.S. shot at the car. So, Iraqis, listen up. Frum says that unless U.S. officials know that you're out in your car, in your recently-liberated country, you can expect to be shot. Lovely. Don Martin hurts my head Keeping on the column-bashing fun, Don Martin actually criticizes Conservative leader Stephen Harper and others for NOT seizing on the shootings in Alberta to advance their gun registry agenda. The fact that gun registry opponents say "See, his gun wasn't registered, so the system doesn't work" blows my mind, but Martin goes a step beyond and criticizes people for not trying to score political points on the backs of dead RCMP officers. To justify this, Martin points out that instead, the government was taken to task with "predictable and increasingly desperate queries" about meaningless issues like missile defence, student tuition and immigration. Wow. Just wow. Ja Rule was in Canada! OMG! It's depressing, if not all together predictable, that Michael Jackson's rape trial is all over the papers. It's even more depressing that Ja Rule punching some dude in the face is worthy of extensive coverage. But the Post takes it a step further, once again. "Not even the court's bottled water was up to Ja Rule's standards: His contract demands: Rapper used to more plush public appearances." That was the headline on the supplemental story on Ja Rule's Toronto court date, a lovely little piece detailing the rapper's rider - a list of required items in his dressing room. Hmmm, perhaps Ja Rule is used to more plush public appearances because - and I'm just throwing this out here - the media propogates a celebrity culture where every tidbit of banal minutia is considered newsworthy, like a rundown of a rapper's rider. Don't sarcastically bemoan the demands of celebrities as you cater to the mainstream celebrity culture. You build the beast, you live with it.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Tote Bags of objectivity

I'd like to give mad 'props' to my wonderful friend Laura for pointing out the inherent hypocrisy of every journalist who accepted one of those sexy Liberal tote bags at this weekend's convention. Remember that next time any journalist ever complains about politicians not fully disclosing their own conflicts of interest. . . way to auction off your credibility for a free duffle, fuck-nuts. I'd like to think integrity is worth a little more than Liberal swag. RCMP officers killed by pot laws and gun registries! Wow, that didn't take long. Already, the papers are filled with delusional rants about the failure of Canada's gun registry and calls for scrapping the decriminalization of possession small amounts of pot. The Liberal convention was plagued with demands that Canada get tough on grow ops. You know what? Maybe Canada should get tough on grow ops, but not because of one isolated event. The Canadian media are suckers for this type of reactionary bullshit. Politicians see the wave of emotion across Canada and call for action, and rather than call 'bullshit,' the media eat it up. Don't let these opportunistic pricks off the hook, ask them some questions. Especially at the Liberal conference, the Liberals are in power, and have been since 1993, for god's sake! They're the ones who make the laws that have, apparently, failed. Let me make this perfectly clear. Roszko would have shot those cops regardless of how strong the law on grow-ops was. He would have shot them whether or not there was a gun registry. Running a story on A1 under the headline "Massacre prompts ire over 'futile' gun registry," as the Post did, makes a mockery of a legitimate tragedy. Quit letting politics set your coverage agenda. Libelfest 2005 Wow, nothing like taking advantage of Canadian libel law, eh? In this country, you can say whatever you want about the dead. Thus Roszko is described as a monster, accused of molesting and raping kids, and proclaimed to be crazy. Was he a monster? Sure. Did he molest and rape those kids, probably. Nuts? Quite likely. Do any of those things belong in a news report? I doubt it. Of course, the columnists take this to a whole new level. The Globe's Christie Blatchford takes the opportunity to call the shooter a "mass murderer," despite his never having been convicted of the crime. If he was alive that would be libel, but since he's dead, tar and feather his rotting corpse. Blatchford keeps on rolling though, taking aim at the entire province of Alberta. She writes "indeed, the only element of the grim story that preceded Mr. Roszko's catastrophic finale four mornings ago that appears authentically Albertan, albeit in a manner far more tragic than comic, is that he was not just a pedophile, but also a gun-toting, authority-hating one." I'm sorry, what? Being a gun-toting, authority hater makes you "authentically Albertan?" My brother, sister-in-law and neice are all Albertans, thanks for the heads-up Christie. I'll wear my kevlar next time I visit. My gun's bigger than your gun The Post features a piece by author Paul Palango, who has written two books on the RCMP. Palango says it's time for the RCMP to drop the Dudley Do-Right, soft-power approach to policing. Clearly, he argues, the massacre in Alberta shows that this approach is a failure. Interesting argument. However, as many reports last Friday noted, this is the largest killing of RCMP officers since the 1800s. The RCMP is alone in the world in that regard, according to Rex Murphy. Contrast that with the Post and Citizen's coverage of the Toronto Police's former drug squad. Apparently, there are even more charges pending for the corrupt cops on that beat. Nobody would accuse the Toronto cops of being soft, yet here they are being investigated. There are clearly some concerns about police policy at play in the Alberta shootings, but it's unfair to imply that the RCMP has to adopt the gun-waving, SWAT-deploying tactics employed by other police services around the world. It's unfair to say that all the other reasons to decriminalize pot possession are invalid. And it's ridiculously unfair to suggest that the gun registry failed and should therefore be scrapped. This was an isolated incident that warrants investigation and possible procedural changes for the RCMP. Anything bigger than that is reactionary, self-serving and dangerous. While we're on the subject of Ms. Blatchford There are two issues I want to touch on here. First, reporters should never write columns and vice-versa. Blatchford's pieces drift back and forth between comment and reportage, but today she actually shared a byline on A1 and had a column on A4. That's unacceptable. How can a reader be expected to believe anything is objective in her coverage on A1 when she comments on A4? Second, the fact that she writes for the Globe at all is symptomatic of the bullshit newspaper war between the Post and the Globe. Her Post columns epitimized what the Globe claimed to be above. This pull-on-the-heartstrings, high-school drama class monologue-style bullshit that she churns out was the target of much criticism. . . until she looked to jump ship. Suddenly she was a respectable writer. There are more examples of this pettiness, and when they next appear, I'll be sure to point them out. Missile defence, are we still talking about that? There's a plethora of BMD stories today, but the Post's A1 story on a COMPAS (yes, COMPAS again) poll of business leaders is a real beaut. Apparently, 85 per cent of CEOs say Canada's missile defence decision will be a barrier to business links - most notably in defence and aerospace industries. Makes sense, Canada says no to missile defence, the missile defence agency doesn't issue contracts to Canadian companies. But there's one problem - according to a government study, Canadian industries were not prepared for missile defence business. Several government briefing notes said that Canadian businesses were far behind U.S. and European competitors and would be seriously hindered in any bids for contracts regardless of Canadian involvement. The details are in a lovely pile of documents on my desk, obtained by filling out a simple Access to Information request. It wasn't hard to find, but I guess it was slightly harder than asking COMPAS to do a poll of business leaders. Besides, the government studies would have contradicted much of what has been argued by the Post over the last few months. Continuing on the missile defence theme, Globe columnist Lysiane Gagnon wrote a hilarious, hypothetical exchange between Bush and Martin as a rogue missile decends upon B.C. It's great, she has Martin dithering (remember, cause The Economistcalled Martin "Mr. Dithers" awhile back!!), while Bush goes ahead and shoots down the missile! BAH HAH HAH HAH HAH! How rich and clever, why didn't anyone think of that before? Oh wait, there was that Ottawa Sun editorial. And that Globe and Mail editorial. And the Gary Dunford column. Nevermind. Oh, and boobies! Check out the photo on A1 of the National Post. Hottest Lebanese protester ever! Man, I remember when Monday was the slow news day.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

It's the spin cycle, and I'm feeling agitated

To the loyal and dedicated readers of Megalomedia (he says with an optimistic tone), I guess it's time to tell you that there won't be Friday updates for the forseeable future. I don't have my early-ass access to the news on Fridays and therefore, don't feel right doing this bad boy up. And coverage begat coverage, and coverage begat truth. . . So the Globe and Mail informs us today on A1 that Bush and Martin will end their "phone freeze" in advance of their meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox. You remember the phone freeze, the one that yesterday's coverage was dedicated to trying to prove? Well, it's going to be over. Georgie will call. Put away the kleenex and keep your brother off the phone, he's actually going to call! This is so much like a cheesy 1980s teen drama that I don't even want to talk about it anymore. Sadly, the mainstream media doesn't feel the same. For Christ's sake, there was never a phone freeze! Yesterday you had conflicting reports as to the reason for Bush not calling. Most centred around the fact that he's the god damn president! And despite what our papers would have you believe, the U.S. doesn't care about our position on missile defence. Bush isn't calling because he's too busy "spreading democracy" (more on that later) around the world. He's telling Syria to get out of Lebanon, he's telling Iraqis that they are free and he's trying to figure out how to extend the deficit spending limit again so he can bankroll his next invasion. Get over it. You spin me right round, baby, right round Remember when journalists asked questions? Today's coverage of the delay in opening the U.S. border to Canadian cattle invariably linked the matter to Canada - U.S. relations and the missile defence debate. Conservative pin-up Belinda Stronach was quoted in the Globe, Gazette and more saying "when the Prime Minister should have been nurturing support throughout the American political system to keep the border open, he and his cabinet were skulking away from a proper discussion of missile defence with the U.S. government." At which point, the journalist should have asked something like this: "Don't you think it's slightly misleading to link trade disputes to missile defence? After all, the trade disputes are based on U.S. protectionist policies, not Canadian ones. And they stem from isolationist attempts to protect weaker U.S. industries from competition, despite the fact that the WTO - at least in the case of softwood lumber - has routinely condemned the policies." Well, okay, not exactly like that, but you get my point. Why do journalists let themselves get spun? If a journalist is just supposed to feed people vague questions and dutifully take down their responses, why not just use a tape deck? There needs to be context. Journalists have to understand the issue they're reporting on and explore the nuances. To carry on that theme, why do all the reports of public demonstrations in Lebanon and, previously, Ukraine and Georgia quote Martin and Bush praising the protesters without pointing out the inherent hypocrisy? Before both the Democratic and Republic conventions in the U.S. last year, protest areas were established out of the site of the delegates in order to protect them from that very same "people power." During Bush's visit to Ottawa last year, the government essentially abandoned the capital to the masses and took their meetings across the river to Fortress Gatineau. Why won't a journalist stand up and ask how these leaders can praise the democratic rallies abroad while isolating themselves from dissent at home? The press does its penance It appears that maybe, just maybe, the Globe and Post realized there were being a touch reactionary with their missile defence coverage. As such, they did their penance, manifested in a Lawrence Martin column in the former on A21 and a Warren Kinsella opinion piece in the latter on A18. Martin waxed philisophical on the rightward shift in the Canadian media and noted that while anyone reading the papers would think Canada was about to revolt over the missile defence decision, the majority of Canadians agreed with Martin's decision. Kinsella attacked the Post for its decision to run a half dozen U.S. editorials condemning Canada without ever giving the context for Martin's decision. Both pieces are interesting and fairly well done, but it's interesting to note that they both appear among a bevy of predictable columns and comments that follow the trend of the past week. It's as though the two papers realized, "Shit, we better at least try to look objective here." Kind of like going to confession on your way out to the brothel, isn't it? Your freedom update At first, I was really surprised when I saw a story on Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai appointing a female governor buried on page A7 in the Citizen. Isn't this exactly the sort of piece that the Bushies would want to play up? Women gaining status in a country formally run by the oppressive Taliban after a U.S. invasion? Then I read the Post's A13 story on the opium trade in Afghanistan and learned that opium production has almost returned to Taliban-era levels. . . and the Toronto Star's analysis on A24 documenting the myriad of problems facing the country, coupled with the skitishness of international donors who want to see progress fast. . . and I thought maybe the pundits decided to let this one slide. Or maybe it happened too late to be praised today, and we'll see some Marcus Gee-esque rants tomorrow, who knows? In other news, talks aimed at forming the Iraqi coalition government have stalled (Globe, CanWest, Sun and more). Apparently the love of freedom isn't quite enough to overcome centuries of conflict and inherent cultural divisions. Luckily that didn't stop a few scribes (Toronto Sun editorial, among others) from trumpeting the success of Bush's policies in the region. Freedom's got its jackboots on and its marching, people. It's marching.