Free media, free speech.

Geoffrey York in the Globe and Mail, writing about South Africa:

The government of President Jacob Zuma is being accused of harassing the media, failing to improve the lives of the poor, and favouring its own cronies in dubious business deals.

Lawrence Martin also in the Globe and Mail:

Last year, as revealed by The Canadian Press, Prime Minister Stephen Harper lunched in New York with Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, and Rupert Murdoch, who owns it. Kory Teneycke, Mr. Harper’s former spokesman, was also present at the unannounced event.

Mr. Teneycke later became the point man for Quebecor’s Pierre Karl Péladeau in his effort to create a right-wing television network modelled along the lines of Fox News. The new network is a high priority for Mr. Harper, for whom controlling the message has always been – witness his government vetting program – of paramount importance.

In this regard, he scored a fantastic coup when Mr. Teneycke became head, courtesy of Mr. Péladeau, of Sun Media’s political coverage. It’s not every day that a prime minister sees his one-time spokesperson taking control of a giant media chain’s coverage of his government.

Now, I don’t think Mr. Harper is an idiot on the level of Mr. Zuma, who until lately denied the problem AIDS presents in his country. But I do think Harper’s overweaning desire to control almost everything, is becoming hard for him to disguise. Remember at the beginning, when he decided to protect himself from the hurly-burly of the scrum by hiding in a basement room of the Parliament, with selected members of the media present and taking only pre-vetted and few questions. Now he will have a whole network to lob easy questions at him and allow him to distort the facts with impunity.

The rot started with his success in proroguing Parliament, continued with the whole census debacle and recently found a respected Mountie out the door because of his support, along with all the rest of this country’s police, of the long gun registry.

It’s his agenda, his take on what the women of the world need, his belief that we don’t need facts on which to base decisions. How does he tolerate a man like Stockwell Day in his cabinet, with his prattling about “unreported crime” as an excuse for more and bigger jails? I begin to be concerned about what new crimes will soon be announced and how long free expression can survive.

Writing:

Last week and this I have been proof-reading the galley for my new book. This exercise leaves me with a renewed respect for all those who read and correct the millions—it must be millions— of words written every day.

Gardening:

The long spring and hot, humid summer are ending with what seems to be an early autumn. The swallows are making practice flights; the black squirrel is driving the dog crazy with his aerial foraging in oak tree; the brown-eyed susans are making a spectacular show with their mounds of intense gold and black. What does it all mean? A heavy, snow-laden lengthy winter? Our autumn will end with a stay in the south of Spain.

Books

I’ve been reading Frances Mayles  A Year in the World. She and her husband took our trip, first to Madrid, then to Seville and on to Ronda. I hope some of the restaurants and tapas bars she writes about are still open. Spain is having a tough time economically this year.

Sakineh

Her fate was supposed to be decided on August, but so far—nothing. the British Government has called in the Iranian ambassador to express its deep concern. I hope it expressed the full horror of civilized nations at the barbaric crime Iran is perpetrating on its citizens, and particularly this woman and the fourteen co-condemned, waiting out the tattered remains of their lives in that foul prison.

Please sign the petition at http://freesakineh.org

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