Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dec.17:

The Moncton Times and Transcript still does not see it fit to mention the new American bill passed by Congress and due to be signed into law by Obama. The implications of it are so profound that it is not too much to say it makes the US officially into a battleground, and effectively destroys the concept of civil rights and liberties.

The change is so profound that, even in reading it, it will be almost impossible for its implications to sink in. Briefly, the US is now, in law, a battleground in which the US military can take prisoners - as on any battlefield, detain them in military prisons indefinitely - all with no charge, no trial, no rights. All the reason needed is that the prisoner is suspected of being cooperative with or even just sympathetic to terrorism. And, since there is no definition of terrorism in the law, terrorism is whatever the military says it is. The moment that Obama signs that bill - and  he says he will sign it - American rights and freedoms are dead meat.

Wouldn't it even occur to a news editor to wonder why such a bill was passed? After all, the idea that we have to destroy freedom to save it is surely a little absurd. As well, it is hard to believe that the level of terrorist activity in the US has been so high as to require such extreme action. So what 's it all about?

Try this.

The poor in the US now are almost half of the US population. That's according to figures from the US census. Homelessness is at record levels. And thirteen percent of the homeless are military veterans; that's a pretty high percentage for such a small part of the population. Unemployment is at depression levels.

Congress, meanwhile, is cutting unemployment programmes and food stamps so it can spend more on weapons, and keep taxes low for the rich. (It's rationale for doing so is that if you give people help, they will lose the incentive to go out and look for jobs - in a society that has no jobs.)

The US is in a social meltdown, now on the edge of severe and widespread anger, desperation and disorder. It's been coming for some years.

Bush saw it coming when he ordered a combat brigade (about 5000) to be permanently based in the US. Obama saw it coming when he signed an agreement with Harper just months ago allowing Canada and the US to draw on each other's military in case of civil disorder. Now, Obama will sign this latest bill because he knows the rebellion of the poor and the starving and the homeless is near.

Terrorism is the excuse for the bill. But it's not the reason. The reason is to protect the privileges of the rich against the desperation of the poor. But not to worry.

Relax. Pick up your Moncton Times&Transcript, and let your mind drift off to the world of its Section A headline, "Will this Christmas be white or wet"?

Or, if you insist on living on the wild side,there's a superb op ed column by David Suzuki.

As well, the columns by students in Whatever are worth a read. I find there's a pleasure in reading good writing by people who are actually thinking about their experiences as they pass through the most intense years of their lives, thinking about the future, finding profound meaning in things we rarely think about at all - like smiling, having a positive attitude.

Another virtue of this student column section is that it give students a break from learning in school. It gives them a chance to learn from their own observations; and a chance to learn from performing a job.

I  particularly noted Alex Corbett who talks about that constant teen-age dread - failure. And he argues that failure is good because we learn from it.

(Well, yes, some people do. I never have. If I had learned from all my failures, I'd be an Einstein by now.)

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