A Reminder That ‘Science’ Can Be Bad As Well As Good …

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I came across two recent examples of the fallacy of ‘perfect science’ and would like to share them.

First, let’s look at SUGAR.

In the 1950s, prestigious Harvard researchers accepted substantial funding from the sugar industry to point the finger at fat and not sugar when it came to identifying the reason behind obesity in North America.

Here’s a great summary video from College Times:

And the second industry myth:  sun tan lotion.

We’re seeing more and more evidence that the conventional myth is completely and absolutely wrong.

In fact, Swedish scientists have shown that women who avoid sunbathing during the summer are twice as likely to die as those who sunbathe every day.

I’ll repeat that just in case you’re shaking your head:  women who avoid sunbathing during the summer are twice as likely to die as those who sunbathe every day.

That’s basically because they’re not getting Vitamin D, an important nutrient that primarily originates from the sun.

Vitamin D protects the body from diseases like multiple sclerosis, rickets (in the young), tuberculosis, inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and Sjogren’s syndrome.

And not only does sunscreen block Vitamin D, it wreaks havoc on the local environment when you use it.  One researcher found that ‘in areas where there has been much exposure to ED [endocrine disrupting] chemicals, coral and other sea populations have died off and the prevalence of dual-sexed fish has risen‘.

Science should just be science, but unfortunately, a LOT of it is funded by different special interest groups.  Disclosure of funding sources should be mandatory, both with the reports that are created, but also with the reporting that’s done by journalists.

And yes, some times those who purport to act in our best health interests may not be.

Remember this.

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Media’s Right-Wing Bias

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The question shouldn’t be ‘does Canadian media show a right-wing bias‘?

It should be ‘how do we address Canada’s right-wing bias’?

The Walrus article addresses some recent ‘unintentional’ exposure for extreme right-wing groups, but I don’t think it explores the issue of ownership, news ‘feeds’ and the use of technology in an adequate manner.

Let’s look at ownership.  Under this broad category, I’ll suggest that the ‘owners’ of the direction of the CBC are the Board of Directors.  Early on in Stephen Harper’s role as Prime Minister, he set out to control the CBC, not eliminate it.  Make it dependent, not independent, both on public funding so that voice would be permanently moderated by political interference, but also on the source of information.

The Board of Directors almost entirely consists of Harper appointees, most of whom continue to steer Canada’s public information service into potential icebergs.

Under Harper’s guidance, the CBC cut journalist staff while beefing up admin.  It reduced it’s own internal flow of information and expanded its reliance on third-party news and information sources like Canada Newswire, a privately-held organization that supplies opinion and advertorials more than it does actual news.

Anything the broadcaster does as independent research and reporting seems geared towards putting it in the middle of lawsuit territory.  Recent examples include the investigation concerning the proportion of meat in fast-food sandwiches and the relentless badgering of banks.  It’s inevitable that the broadcaster will find itself in legal hot water and the public may be forced to turn its back on it, letting it wither and die.

Finally, more resources were diverted towards what can only be described as terrible entertainment programming. For a time, the network was producing award-winning comedy, political and drama shows, all of which revolved a central theme: genuine Canadian content that we could be proud of.

Today? Less so.

We’re left with a pale shell of what used to be a quality, public-owned and operated news institution.

All of this leads to another important question that should be asked about media in Canada: how can media be more moderate?

I suggest that we can pivot the direction of the CBC and push it into territory where it should have gone long ago.  The CBC should be truly owned by and controlled by the public.  I’ve argued before that I’d prefer to see the CBC operate more like TV Ontario (TVO), with some of its funding coming from the public budget, but a proportion also coming from viewers (note: I understand part of the funding comes from corporate sponsors, something that should be avoided for both institutions).

This ‘subscription’ model would do two things:  position the CBC for a world of cable-free access and streaming and also generate financial independence and political interference from its reporting and research.

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Khadr: Getting Facts Straight

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There’s a lot of controversy swirling around about the Liberals paying Omar Khadr $10.5 million as compensation for his time and treatment in prison, especially by talk show maniacs and media show mavens that don’t fear the social repercussions of spreading myths and outright lies about what what happened.

It annoys me to no end when those who shape our politics and social understanding of important developments in our basic civil liberties choose instead to be willfully ignorant of the facts before them.

This ‘rant’ is a copy/paste from another friend who didn’t want full credit for his work, but if he’s out there, thank you for putting everything together in a very logical manner.

Here goes:

  • Canadian born Khadr was taken to Afghanistan at age 9, by his father. We don’t know if he wanted to go, and we don’t know why they went. There has been zero evidence put forth to suggest the trip had anything to do with terrorism. Regardless, as he was only 9, he had no choice in the matter.
  • Khadr, aged 15, was found in critical condition following a firefight. The mission debrief report filed by the US troops stated that a middle aged man threw a grenade, which killed one US soldier. The grenadier was shot in the head and confirmed killed.
  • Khadr was taken to Guantanamo Bay prison. No charges were filed against him at that time.
  • Several years later, formal charges were filed. These charges were technically not even charges of war crimes, as if they were true, Khadr would be considered an enemy combatant during a time of war, and thus everything he was accused of doing, was legal under rules of engagement. He was denied access to a lawyer at this point and no trial date was set. He was held in detention and tortured for nearly 10 years.
  • Nearly a decade later, an addendum to the original mission debrief was submitted, which identified the grenadier as Khadr by name. The original report was not rescinded. No one knows who made the addendum. No US personnel present during the firefight confirms the addendum. (at least I’ve not been able to find any).
  • A week later, Khadr is offered a plea deal. The terms of the deal were to admit guilt to all charges and serve a few more years in a Canadian prison, or refuse to admit guilt and be denied trial indefinitely. (the latter portion is not confirmed by the US government, but let’s be realistic here…)
  • Khadr takes the plea deal, is transferred to Canada.
  • Khadr sues the Canadian government for their involvement in his illegal detention, torture, and lack of a trial.

(Again, this is a copy/paste from a friend from Facebook, with permission to use his argument without full accreditation. Apologies to the original owner of this content if I misunderstood this permission).

All of the above is true. That is the official story, from both the Canadian and US governments. They have said straight out that Khadr would not be offered a trial unless he took the plea deal. Just let that sink in for a moment.

Here’s the central issue with all of this: as a Canadian, what do you stand for? Do you believe that you, as a Canadian, have the right to be presumed innocent, until proven guilty, as well as the right to a fair and quick trial? I know this is hard for many of you to consider without jumping to “oh, but he’s a terrorist, he’s a traitor and doesn’t deserve anything”, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Seriously consider this. Do you believe you have, as a Canadian, the inalienable right to everything laid out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

If you do, but still think Khadr does not, because he is a terrorist, let me ask you; “How do you know he is guilty?” There was no trial for 10 years, and he was only offered a trial on the condition that he plead guilty. How do we, as Canadians, determine guilt? Have you read and understood the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? It’s entire purpose is precisely to ensure that what happened to Khadr, is not allowed to happen. Period.

Now I know many of you still can’t get past the “but he’s a traitor so he doesn’t deserve a trial” even though neither you, nor me, nor the US or Canadian government were able to provide ANY evidence whatsoever, of his guilt (no evidence was submitted during his trial, presumably because none exists), but that doesn’t matter.

Let me explain the problem to you.

You are worried that terrorists are trying to take away your freedoms as a Canadian right? They’re trying to force their way of life upon us and we as Canadians, won’t stand for that right?

Do you see where I’m going here? Presuming Khadr’s guilt, with no evidence and without trial, is precisely what the terrorists want to do to Canada. Isn’t that your concern? Does it not strike you then, that by saying that Khadr doesn’t deserve a fair trial because he is a terrorist, with absolutely no evidence, nor a trial to prove the charges, that you are doing precisely what you are worried the terrorists are trying to do do us?

A presumption of guilt, no trial, a decade of detention and torture. Is that not EXACTLY what you are worried terrorists are trying to do to us?

At this point, I don’t think any of us should even be concerned about Khadrs innocence or guilt. He is inconsequential at this point. The REAL concern for all Canadians, is that our government denied a Canadian citizen his inalienable rights, guaranteed to him under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They did EXACTLY what you are worried the terrorists are trying to do. If Khadr was guilty, a trial probably would have proven such, so why was he denied a trial?

For your information, the Canadian government did not simply offer up an apology and $10m for no reason. They were sued. Khadr filed a civil suit with the Supreme Court of Canada, and that court found in favour of Khadr, in that the Canadian government was in breach of Canadian and International law. Over half the money awarded will be going toward legal fees.

Think about it this way: your government, was just successfully sued for war crimes. Crimes they committed not only against Khadr, but against the entire Canadian public. They assured us that we would all be given a fair trial, but now we know that is not true. They assured us that we will always be presumed innocent until proven guilty. We know that is not true. They took your money, money which could have been spent on building half a hospital or something, and spent it instead, on committing war crimes, and crimes directly against the Charter for which our country stands.

Now I don’t know if Khadr is innocent or guilty and I don’t know if that money will end up right back in the middle east, but before you get upset about that, I want you to consider this: Had the Canadian government offered Khadr a fair trial, regardless of his guilt, there would have been no civil suit and the Canadian government would not have been forced to acknowledge this with a cash payout.

All they had to do, was abide by our own legal doctrine, and this whole mess would have never happened.

In summation:

If you believe Khadr did not deserve a fair and quick trial, you are not Canadian. You do not stand for what Canada stands for. You are saying very clearly, that you don’t care about evidence, treating people (who we presume are innocent until proven guilty) with basic decency, or your own or anyone else’s right to a fair trial. You are, quite literally, openly supporting about half of Sharia law.

I appreciate the feedback (surprisingly generally positive), but bear in mind that with a post this widely shared, I cannot respond to the thousands of PM’s flying at me. Feel free to re-share the post, or just copy/paste to your own feed to keep the conversation going. I absolutely do not need any personal attribution.

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Say No To Mainstream Media Bailout, Saskatchewan Version

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The mainstream media in Canada, lead by American-owned PostMedia Corporation, is looking for an epic bailout to the tune of $350 million per year.

They want Canadian taxpayers to subsidize the likes of Wente and Blatchford so that they can continue to lambast government waste. And Trudeau’s socks.

But where was the mainstream media howls of indignation when Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan government got downgraded by Standard & Poor’s?

We’ve heard all about the ‘end of the world’ scenarios that will happen because of ‘gross mismanagement’ of the Albertan budget by the NDP, but why isn’t Wall being crucified for his incompetence?

Crickets.

Yeah … keep asking, but we’ll keep pushing back.

Your hypocrisy will fade from the planet and we’ll be the better for it.

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This is Why Canadian Mainstream Media Needs a Public Handout?

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In the ‘Happy Canada Day’ edition ….

The all so important stories about Justin Trudeau’s socks.

This is why we need to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on mainstream media.

Keeping quality journalism alive so we can protect our democracy.

Put a sock in it, you dorks.

Stop embarrassing yourselves with ‘gotcha’ journalism and focus on actually doing what you say you do. Then maybe the public will be sympathetic to your cause.

Keep this up and you’ll be competing with ‘Hello’ magazine and the New York Post for back of section ad dollars for brothels and rub-n-tugs.

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