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!

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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.

Why?

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.