Monday, July 30, 2012

Barbara Ehrenreich: Why Are Working People Invisible in the Mainstream Media? | Alternet

Barbara Ehrenreich: Why Are Working People Invisible in the Mainstream Media? | Alternet

 We need something like the Economic Hardship Reporting Project here in Canada too, for, in case you haven't noticed, the mainstream Canadian media has become increasingly inadequate if not  irrelevant in its coverage of just about everything,  a process that began long before corporate consolidation and the current cost cutting manoeuvres. Just witness, for example, how many stories have appeared in the mainstream media recently on weather extremes that fail to even mention climate change or global warming as a context.  That is failed reporting in my judgement.

And there is -  let's be honest -  no single mainstream Canadian media outlet - TV, print, on-line - that speaks with any fully accepted authority, and no columnist or pundit who is a must-read or must-see.  They all dance inside the official corporate and political space, never venturing beneath or around the system, and  they're dancing - no surprise -  to a neoliberal waltz.

In Canada, the only semi-professional alternatives we have to the mainstream are the Huffington Post, Ipolitics,The Tyee, The Dominion, and the blogs at the Council of Canadians and Centre for Policy Alternatives, though there are countless amateur blogs attempting to fill the gap left by the mainstream as well -  many of which are better written and more insightful than anything a professional might do.

A project like Economic Hardship Reporting here in Canada might encourage professionals to actually practice their profession - a potential option that many of them might soon want to exercise as staff everywhere, it would seem,  is being reduced. What's happening at Postmedia is the writing on the wall:  "mainstream print is dead and pay-walls drive readers away."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Global Warming's Terrifying New Math | Politics News — — Readability

Global Warming's Terrifying New Math | Politics News — — Readability

 "...the planet does indeed have an enemy – one far more committed to action than governments or individuals. Given this hard math, we need to view the fossil-fuel industry in a new light. It has become a rogue industry, reckless like no other force on Earth. It is Public Enemy Number One to the survival of our planetary civilization. 'Lots of companies do rotten things in the course of their business – pay terrible wages, make people work in sweatshops – and we pressure them to change those practices,' says veteran anti-corporate leader Naomi Klein, who is at work on a book about the climate crisis. 'But these numbers make clear that with the fossil-fuel industry, wrecking the planet is their business model. It's what they do.'"

Forget about your energy-efficient light bulbs, your hybrid car, your energy star appliances, washing your clothes in off-peak hours, and your solar panels. Forget about lobbying your MP or MPP. Forget about signing petitions and marching on Parliament Hill or the streets of your city. This is where your focus should only be: your enemy, the planet's enemy, is the fossil-fuel industry. Never forget it. And that makes those such as the Harper Regime who aid and abet this destruction in the service of ruthless profit your enemies too.

Colorado shootings: Where is the unstoppable force of public anger? - The Globe and Mail

Colorado shootings: Where is the unstoppable force of public anger? - The Globe and Mail

Must-read insightful, caring, responsible journalism. Is it too much to ask that out of respect for the victims we not watch The Dark Knight Rising? We live in a global culture of violence epitomised by the U.S. of course, and its representations are everywhere. Name 10 critically and financially well-received movies from last year that did not involve representations of violence? Why are movies based on comic books, graphic novels, and video games on the ascendant? Aside from sitcoms, game shows, talk shows, and talent shows, name 5 popular TV shows that don't involve crime as a main theme.

Violence and its representations are everywhere, and yet there are those who would claim that these do not shift our values and behaviour. Aesthetic distancing is a hard won achievement that comes from years of study and experience. Few in the mass demographic of film-goers are equipped. More often than not, as Rotten Tomatoes knows only too well,  fetishizing fandom is the sad result.

July 26 editorial cartoon

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Climate Change? Blame Canada | | It's Enough to Make You Weep [slightly revised]

Climate Change? Blame Canada | | AlterNet

Some really disturbing figures and trends gathered here.

It's enough to make you weep. We are responsible for much of the destruction of the planet under the Harper Regime and its neoliberal policies, yet the beat goes on. Sad to say, we let it.

What good do clever protest rallies on Parliament Hill, well-organized marches along main street Canada, signing this petition or that, witty posts to Twitter and Facebook, well-argued blog entries, intelligent essays in well-known to progressives alternate media, and cogent letters to the editor in the mainstream media - all of which we witness just about every day -  really do when there is little if any efficacy in these well-intentioned actions?  What transformational changes are effected with these various conventional protest gestures? What political value do they really have aside from - as important as these are - reinforcing the morale of participants and thereby strengthening solidarity a tiny bit more in the process and, if you're lucky, brief notice in the media for the next 24-hour news cycle?  Is that a sufficient political pay-off?  More and more everyday, I think not. More and more everyday, I think the conventional rhetoric of protest is frighteningly inadequate - protest,smotest; blah, blah, blah; and yada, yada, do.

As I've argued before, the left must deghettoize itself, step outside its progressive bubble, get over its elitist disdain for those less plugged-in and find meaningful ways to engage with mainstream Canadians as fuzzy as that concept is.  I'm not sure how to define the mainstream, but I do know this:  it's not progressive activists. The mainstream does not read The Monitor, New Internationalist, The Nation, Yes, The GuardianCanadian Perspectives, or Canadian Dimension. They don't check Truthout, Truthdig, Democracy Now, Alternet, and The Real News Network on line.  They don't go to the CCPA or COC websites for the latest on new progressive Canadian actions and policy papers. Hell, the mainstream media don't even go to the these last.   And they certainly don't read this blog.

But without finding ways to have an open, urgent conversation with all Canadians, all is lost. The Regime and its destructive legacy cannot be undone.

There is, moreover, absolutely no hope for transformation from the left-centre parties, the NDP or GPC, since they too sit, consciously or unconsciously,  inside neoliberal ideology, seeking, alas, only reform, not real transformation. If either were to triumph, only self-deception and self-destruction would ensue. We need real substantial change, not tweaks to the existing neoliberal system.