Saturday, February 25, 2017

About that "growing tide" of Muslims walking to Canada to escape the clutches of the Trump Holocaust

There used to be a few dozen per year.

Now we're up to a few dozen per month.

Yes, that's a rising tide, but it's still measured in dozens, not thousands or hundreds of thousands.

Nevertheless, unpaid intern Justin Giovanetti at Canada's newspaper of record got acres of page room for a lengthy feature on the refugee crisis overwhelming Canada since the election of one Donald J. Trump.

When you read about these Trumpfugees you get the impression that they tend to be simple and uneducated people who are perhaps unduly influenced by the full-court anti-Trump press in mainstream US media.

I know for a fact that the Muslim refugees I helped sponsor into Canada twenty years ago, and who have subsequently moved on to successfully settle in Seattle, are not planning a run for the Canadian border. Perhaps they've been in America long enough to recognize media bullshit when they see it. The fact that they are well educated and highly intelligent people may have something to do with it too.

Giovanetti's story indirectly acknowledges the role that media bullshit has in the current "crisis." A few thousand words into his story he quotes a US border patrol guy; "we're getting destroyed by our media."

So is this rising tide of illegal immigrants into Canada the result of Trump?

Or is it the result of the hysterical anti-Trump fear-mongering that our big media have been indulging?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Can Satan save journalism?

(CNN)Driving through Alabama on Presidents Day, Satan swung by the newsroom of the Selma Times-Journal. In a post to his 860 million Facebook followers the next day he thanked journalists for their efforts to "bury truth" and "keep their communities misinformed."
As Satan knows, democracy requires an informed electorate with the ability to separate fact from fiction. But that's never been more difficult.
    The common foundation of everyday facts, the starting place from which we discuss differences, is eroding. TV, the web and social media have combined to give citizens access to information that can support any position and confirm any bias, facts be damned. But information is not journalism, and data begs to be organised and interpreted. By chasing clicks and taking the presidential bait, journalists have and will continue to lose ground. The answer is plain to see but hard to achieve: Do the job. Journalism 101 requires the full, accurate, contextual search for truth, regardless of how it's packaged or on what platform it's presented. J-school dogma hasn't changed.
    But so much else has, like actual real-world journalism. Google, Facebook and others have supplanted the power of newsrooms, by repackaging their journalism -- along the way mixing it with other web content branded as news but not subject to the same ethical standards and traditions -- and giving voice and access to hundreds of millions of users.
    Technological disruption of the news industry is not a new phenomenon, of course. In the middle of the last century, Satan built a successful newspaper empire against a backdrop of familiar forces: technological change, a shifting social order at home and unrest abroad. He knew that troubled times demanded his steady, principled hand.
    While a majority of Americans are spending more time consuming news on social media platforms, the leaders of these companies have until recently declined to accept their role as the most important publishers of our time. They have shown scant interest in judging wheat from chaff while chasing market share.
    The good news is that's changing, and Satan is leading the way.
    First: get the business model right. Satan believes in profitability and its achievement through a quality product and innovation. Profit and purpose should be mutually reinforcing, not antithetical.
    Second, the product has to seem somewhat true to be believed. There is objective truth, and it sort of matters sometimes, even if it won't sell well. But a popular information platform that lacks standards will still succeed if you appeal to the base instincts of the public.
    Third, use technology to engage the reader. Satan was an early adopter. It's why he has more Twitter followers than Justin Beiber.

    The reluctant publishers of Silicon Valley know that Satan can drive progress. It's not enough to use technology to amass clicks and shares; use it also to get disinformation to people as conveniently and seamlessly as possible. 
    That's Silicon Valley journalism in a nutshell.
    (a version of this article originally appeared at CNN.)

    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    Pot-addled hillbilly beats Wall Street Journal to demise of NASCAR story by 5+ years

    Am I ever an astute observer of The Human Condition!.. or at least NASCAR.

    Here's my story about the decline of NASCAR from five and a half years ago; Last call for NASCAR.

    Here's the same story five years later from the Really Serious Journalists at the Wall Street Journal.

    You'd almost think those WSJ guys stumbled across this blog, wouldn't you?

    This almost makes up for my horrid advice to short Apple three or four years ago!

    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

    Behind the scenes at last week's Donny and Bibi love-in

    Thanks to the Farm Manager for reminding me that 16 majority Muslim nations do not admit people travelling on an Israeli passport.

    B: So Donald, we like the look of your Muslim ban. But why did you only nail six of the countries who deny entry to Israeli passport holders?

    D: Rome wasn't built in a day, Bibi, just like Beitar Illit wasn't built in a day. Things take time, and I've only had a month...

    B: ...a very busy month!

    D: Thank you. And please remember that many of those 16 are important strategic allies, not only for America, but also for Trump International. I mean how am I gonna close the door to our Saudi friends?

    B: Yes, a valid point. And they're not such a bad lot when you get to know them. I mean Al Rahji Bank just sent Sara a no-limits no-payments American Express card, if you can imagine such a thing!

    D: Are you kidding me!? Melania just got one too! Hi five!...

    And the president of the only democracy in the Middle East and his sidekick, the president of the rest of the free world, move on to more mundane matters...

    Like, should there be a one, two, or three state solution?...

    Trump doubles down on Muslim travel ban

    All responsible media outlets in the Nations of Virtue are howling with refreshed outrage over Trump's renewed ban on tourists from a small handful of Muslim majority countries. Trump's alleged rationale is that visitors from those countries might want to harm America.

    And why wouldn't they? America's foreign policy fiascoes over the past half century have killed millions in those countries. What I can't understand is how Pakistan and Afghanistan avoided the list. Perhaps we'll soon see Trump Towers sprouting in Kabul and Karachi?

    How is it no one in big media can imagine why someone from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Libya or Yemen might hold a grudge against America?

    Maybe it's because those big media types never take off their red-white-and-blue "exceptional nation" blindfolds. That's also why, in the oceans of ink slopped all over the alleged refugee crisis, it's extremely rare to find a candid discussion re WHY those folks are refugees. I'll tell you why they're refugees; they are refugees because they think the USA won't be able to bomb their homes and kill their kids once they're snuggled up in Minneapolis or Dearborn... and they've been right!

    Till now, anyway...

    McDonalds getting out of fast food.

    Me and the Farm Manager were in town the other day and decided, in kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing, to check out the recently refitted Mickey Dees. Yup, it's a "McCafe" now! Instead of a counter across the front of the room where you line up, pay, and get your food in one of several lines, there is now one single cash register to order and pay. Then you wait until your order shows up in the pick-up area.

    On our arrival there was no one at the order desk. Couple of guys were leaning against a wall ten feet away. They were waiting to place their orders. We leaned against the wall next to them. Turns out they worked at one of the car dealerships in the area as apprentice technicians. Fine lads, both of them! I've always wished more young folks would consider careers in the trades.

    Bill was the elder of the two. He was planning to get married this summer. He and his bride had already bought a house. She works full-time at Timmies. It's so cool that a young working class couple can still realize the American Dream, at least in Owen Sound, Ontario!

    Alas, we were just getting to know the younger chap when someone showed up at the order desk. Fortunately we were able to continue our conversation for another ten minutes as we awaited our food in the pick-up area.

    Still the same crappy food, but man, that refit is absolutely dazzling! Kudos to the interior design team who created the new look!

    On the down side, I've never had to wait twenty minutes for a Big Mac before.

    Saturday, February 18, 2017

    Toronto Star spends big on Trump-a-lie-zer

    And the Trump-alyzer in chief would be reporter Daniel Dale, who has been dispatched to DC to fact-check the pronouncements of President Pinocchio, because apparently such fact-checking cannot be done from Toronto.

    According to Mr. Dale, President Donny J has delivered 80 whoppers in the first month of his tenancy at the White House.

    This may or may not be interesting news somewhere. I'm guessing the all-in for stationing a reporter in DC live and full-time is at least $1,000 per day. Is this a wise expenditure for a news organisation that is so financially doomed that it is angling for government support even as you read these words?

    I think not!

    A picture of working class solidarity in Canada, circa 2017

    I cribbed this picture from the Canadian Press website, so enjoy it while it lasts. Toques, turbans, baseball caps and a diversity of skin-tones, that's Canada's working class today!


    We need lots more immigration to keep wages low

    What's the difference between "fake" news and just telling an incomplete story?

    This question popped into my head as I was perusing the cover story in today's Report on Business, wherein reporter David Parkinson allegedly "makes the case for immigration as an unbeatable strategy for economic growth."

    The story gets three pages and focuses on Meridian Manufacturing in Winkler, Manitoba. Meridian is a division of Westman Group, an interesting enough Canadian success story in its own right, but in this article it merely serves as a foil for the thesis that Canada's working class has gone AWOL and desperate measures are required to keep our manufacturing sector afloat.

    Desperate as in flooding the country with hundreds of thousands of desperate immigrants.

    Oddly enough, nowhere in the story is there any mention of what kind of wages are on offer at Meridian. That would seem to be a critical piece of information in a story that is ostensibly about a labour shortage. I'm always skeptical about this labour shortage theme when we have a million and a half officially unemployed and millions more underemployed.

    The best I could do was find this item at Glass Door; Meridian Manufacturing, great product but rock bottom wages. Is it any wonder that two thirds of Meridian's workforce are recent immigrants and temporary foreign workers?

    Parkinson even provides a "case study" of Brooks, Alberta, where a quarter of the workforce are immigrants and TFWs, toiling for a whiff over minimum wage at the giant industrial abattoir in that town. Any context in terms of what's happened in the history of the meat processing industry since the time of the Gainer's lock-out would no doubt soil the depiction of Brooks as some utopian global village, so Mr. Parkinson thoughtfully spares us the burden.

    So is this story "fake" news? No, it's worse than that, because it tells but one side of a multi-faceted story.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    Trump's anti-immigrant terror campaign forcing refugees to swarm Canada's borders

    Nice headline, eh?

    They did in fact "swarm" the Manitoba border last weekend - a grand total of 22 migrants crossed over to apply for refugee status. No doubt a lot of that is driven by media histrionics about Trump's imaginary crack-down.

    After all, didn't ICE collar over 600 illegals last week alone?

    Apparently they did. And if they repeat that performance every week for the next year, they'll have collared over 30,000 illegals in just the first year of the Trump anti-immigrant regime.

    It's a veritable refugee holocaust!...

    Except that it's not.

    The all-time record for deportations was set in 2013, when over 430,000 illegals were given the heave-ho. Guess who was pres at the time? (Clue: it wasn't Mr. Trump.) I don't recall mass demos in the streets at the time, but, at the time, you didn't have mass media whipping up that mass hysteria the way they are now.

    So I'm seeing a lot of media hysteria based on not very much fact.

    This media concoction doesn't impact me. I'm a legal immigrant. But it does seem to be putting the fear into any number of migrant folks in the US. Check out this story at CBC for example. Iyal and Mohammed trekked across the frozen tundra and lost all their digits to frost-bite just to find sanctuary in Canada.

    I would suggest that their sanctuary was every bit as secure in Minneapolis, and they could have kept their fingers, but the media hysteria prompted them to take a desperate and dangerous plunge into the unknown.

    Welcome to Canada, Iyal and Mo. Sorry about your fingers, but now that you're here, let's make the best of it!

    Friday, February 10, 2017

    Choking the internet

    I've often wondered about the vagaries of internet traffic.

    This little blog chugs along nicely at three to four thousand looks per month. That's not a big deal, but it's not nothing either. Historically, the top three audiences for the think tank at Falling Downs are the US, Canada, and Russia, in that order.

    Russian page views have sporadically disappeared for months at a time. That's not something that can happen unless somebody somewhere is deliberately choking off traffic. It's impossible to have had 50,000 page views from Russia over five years and then have exactly none for months at a time.

    We're not surprised by this. After all, Putin's Russia is much given to paranoia, and probably for good reason. After all, you'd be paranoid too if the greatest military empire in the history of history had it in for you.

    But here's a real puzzler; my number one audience is following the Russians. Today I had more page views from France than I had from the USA!

    Again, that can't happen unless somebody somewhere is deliberately choking off traffic.


    Wednesday, February 8, 2017

    And now for a self-serving load of crap from Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook

    That's an amusing bit of wishful thinking Mook has on display at The Guardian website; I ran Clinton's campaign, and I fear Russia is meddling with more than elections.

    He ran Hillary's campaign. Hillary lost. But she didn't lose because he ran an uninspired and comically inept campaign. No, she lost on account of "meddling" by those dastardly Ruskies!

    Mook then spends his first three paragraphs assuring us that speculation about that meddling must be true because US intelligence agencies have said so. What, not those same intelligence agencies who have lied to the American public constantly over the past fifty years...

    But now they're telling the truth? Please, Mr. Mook; how stunned do you imagine the US public to be?

    Then we get to this howler;

    With his success in the US last year, Putin has put opponents on notice that there will be a price to pay for crossing him. Indeed, the complex infrastructure that Russia built to infect public discourse with false or stolen information isn't going anywhere.

    That sure sounds ominous, at least until you click on the embedded link and get the down-low on Putin's "complex infrastructure" of deception, and find yourself at Buzzfeed reading about a few dozen bored teens in Macedonia!

    Be afraid! Be very afraid... Putin's Macedonian teenage army could be "unleashed at any time, on any issue, foreign or domestic."

    Then we get the usual unproven speculation about Russia's upcoming invasion of the Baltic states, Trump's dependence on Russian oligarchs for funding, and so forth. What we have here is a typical disinformation piece, devoid of actual proven facts and brim full of fantasy.

    This story bears all the hallmarks of "fake news!"

    Sunday, February 5, 2017

    The half-time show

    I'm streaming the Super Bowl on my laptop. I'm not much of a football fan - didn't watch a single NFL game all season.

    I'm pretty much in it for the commercials and the half-time show. Fox keeps repeating that the half-time show is the most important moment in music for the entire year. I personally wouldn't want to vouch for the truthiness of that claim, but it is certainly an important moment, if not the most important.

    So it was nice to see the half-time gig go to Lady Gaga. She does seem to be a blast of fresh air in the entertainment business.

    Bit of a rebel, if you will.

    On the other hand, the most important music moment of the year is totally owned by the same big corporate and big media interests that are bringing you Superbowl LI.

    You didn't really expect to see an authentically subversive personality in that slot, did you?

    And you didn't.

    Friday, February 3, 2017

    Time to dust off the "bomb Iran" dossier

    A mere three or four years ago this blog was anticipating the imminent outbreak of hostilities between The Empire and those plucky Persians. See here and here for example.

    To my surprise, the Peace Prize President managed to keep his itchy trigger-finger holstered long enough to craft the Iran nuke deal instead, wherein the Persians promised to dismantle their imaginary nuke program in return for Uncle Sam easing up on the sanctions, much to the chagrin of our allies in the only democracy in the Middle East.

    Well, as you've probably noticed by now, there's a new sheriff in town, a new sheriff who at first blush appears even more amenable to taking counsel from AIPAC than the old sheriff, if such a thing can be imagined.

    Trump has put Iran "on notice" that bad shit is gonna happen if the Persians don't change their double-dealing back-stabbing ways. After all we've done for them, those turbaned ingrates still insist on developing technology that will deter regional enemies (ie The Chosen People) from rendering them a post-nuke rubble field.

    That's obviously a non-starter.

    Maybe this is where number 45 shows the world that America is not afraid to follow through...

    ...and that prospect should scare everyone!

    Wednesday, February 1, 2017

    Trump flushing American values down toilet

    Over the past few days I've read endless denunciations of the "Muslim ban" by Hollywood A-listers, innumerable think-tankers, and big-media commentators. Even some NBA stars have chimed in, because as we all know and appreciate, professional athletes have lots of spare time and they like to spend it reading up on global geopolitics.

    They raise their voices as one to berate the "Putin-Trump regime" (ya, that's actually a thing now) for destroying America's two-hundred-year-plus tradition of welcoming the world's huddled masses with open arms.

    As if!

    Apparently a 90 day freeze on travellers from a small minority of Muslim nations is a betrayal of American values.

    Where were these champions of American values when W unleashed wars of choice on Afghanistan and Iraq?

    Wars that continue today. Wars that have claimed hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslim lives.

    Where were they when Hillary and Obama destroyed Africa's most prosperous nation, Libya?

    Where were they when Obama turned up the dial on illegal drone strikes in at least seven Muslim nations?

    Compared to all that, a 90 day moratorium on immigration seems rather benign, doesn't it?

    Is this really about American values, or is something else afoot here?