Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 30: The Moncton T&T calls minister of environment a liar?

 On p. A8, there's stunning report (well, stunning to see it covered in the T&T) which suggests our Minister of Natrual Resources, Bruce Northrup, is not always as truthful as a good boy should be. Isn't he the one who said just a couple of days ago that "protection of the environment in our number one prioty."?

If it is, God help any priorities lower on the list.

The story is that Global Watch Canada says New Brunswick has the second worst record for Canada (PEI beats us) in protction of the forests from industrialization. Gee! Is it possible Mr. Northrup is not being as truthful as he should be?

Another thought. How was it possible the editors of the T&T let that story slip in when their owner is the leading indsustrializer of our forcests?

Meanwhile, the big front page story is about - yes - bicycle lanes again. It's been a week now that Brent Mazerolle has devoted himself to this topic, and he is obviously looking the break the record of Moses in carrying on a sustained effort. Why is this happening for such a parchial interest?

Because it takes people's attention away from the real issues. That's an old game in hack news media.

There's an education story in the NewsToday section. That's usually bad because very, very few people in the news media know anything about  education. They wouldn't dream of covering a hockey game without a knowledgable reporter and, preferably, two or three.  But anybody can be assigned an education story.

In this case, the story is that Canadians are not learning enough social history or political history about Canada.  Hands up, quickly. What is social history? I'm willing to bet the Postmedia News reporter didn't know, either.

As for political history of Canada, the editors at the T&T have already given evidence of their crashing ignorance of the subject. (They thought coalition was illegal when, in fact, it is quite legal. Then, when Mr. Irving announced he had had formed a coalition with the government (which WAS illegal and a very serious threat to democracy), the editors said nothing.

So far, the editors' and the politicians' only suggestion for improving historical knowledge has been to make all students listen to scratchy playing of O Canada until they turn blue.

The source the reporter consults for this story is Jack Jedwab, of Association for Canadian Studies. Happens I know Jack. I taught him Canadian history. He was a good student, and was an excellent marker for me in his MA year. As well, I was several years on the national executive of Association for Canadian Studies.

I can assure you that, much as I respect Jack and the association, they know nothing about education.

Students learn very little from history courses that are based on feeding and memorizing information. That's true from kindergarten to at least the BA - and even beyond that. Anything learned that way is mostly forgotten.

Anyway, parents, business and the news media would never allow the truth to be told about any Canadian history. The history of NB, for example, is largely a history of how those with wealth and connections used their power to exploit those who didn't (and still don't) have power. What do you think would happen if the schools taught that?

The history of most of the news media is a history of corruption, lies and manipulation of public opinion.. How do you think Norbert's moustache would wiggle if they taught that?

People who have power in this country don't want people to know the truth about their history. So they keep on the pressure to ensure we will be told the nice parts like the triumph of building the CPR. They don't bother wasting time on the history of the immigrants who were worked to death at low wages to do it, or the giving of dangerous jobs to Chinese - with a resulting high death rate for them.

And they want social history to be channeled off into "cultural" differences - as though the real difference between people are cultural (and isn't it wonderful we can all live together.) Bullshit. Most people don't have the vaguest idea was culture means. And we tolerate "cultural' difference only when it's not a  big deal. The truth is that Canada had (and still has) a record of bigotry, eploitation and racism that most Canadians have never heard of.

The main difference between us is that very large numbers of us are very, very poor. And a tiny number of us are very, very rich, and the very rich run the country. But if you taught that in the schools, even the poor would rise up in protest against it.

On page C-3, we are assured the Royals will enjoy a to-notch meal. I'm so relieved to hear that. I was worried they don't get enouogh vitamins at Buckingham Palace. Too bad we don't care as much about what the poor are eating - if anything.

Really, most of the paper is fluff, and ignorant fluff at that. There's the usual excellent column by Jody Dallaire (Equality Time). On othe same page is the usual mindless trivia tarted up as philosophy (City Views) by one of the staff writers.

PS: contrary to what our minister of Natrual Resrouces and Giveaways says, there have been convicions for shale gas drilling - with a fine and damages. I believe he might check the state of Pennsylvania on this.
Incidently, there has never been a convicion of a Japanese nuclear power plant. Can you imagine a government so irresponsible as to build nuclear power plans in a region noted for severe earthquakes and tsunamis? And I'm sure the Japanese minister of energy assured everyone that it was all under faultless control.

An absence of convictions does no prove innocence. On the contrary, it can indicate power and corruption.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June29: Wow! Hot off the press!

Front page news "Moetro centre support strong: survey"  (pant! pant!)

A new poll (not one of those old polls)  shows three-quarters of metro residents want a new rink at a hndred million. Well, that's it. Sure proof we have to borron a hundred mill. No money for schools. But, man, we NEED a hockey ricnk.

Seventy percent. That would be over 110,000 people. Sorta makes y' stop 'n' think. Don't it?  If 110,000 ae willing take that kind of a risk in this economy, and if they really think a hockey rink is more important than schools and parks, etc., the Wildcats must be getting at least 90,000 a game. We should go NHL.

Oh, of course, they didn't question all 165,000 or so residents of metro. Just 400. That sort of boosts the marging of error quite a bit.  Corporate Reseach Associates places the margin of error at 5%. That's a pretty big margin of error - and it's also subject to more error than that, error of the deliberate sort.

For a start, what is Corporate Reseracch Associates, the outfit that carried out the poll? And who is Don Mills, its boss?

Geegollywhiskers and Jiminy Cricket. Don Mills is a director of the neo-conservative "think tank" (propaganda agency) Atlantic Institute of Market Sudies. AIMS is funded by corporate bosses and the wealthy to help make the richest part of the population even richer.

You want a study showing massive support for a hundred million dollar hockey rink? No problemo. Just frame it the right way ; Are  you in favour of Moncton spending a hundred million and going into debt for generations for a new hockey rink?" (Nope. That one won't do. Have to owrk on the wording.)

Then you question 400 people (and just forget about all those who refuse to answer; that makes it much easier to get your three-quarters.) There are other things one can do to skew the figures. But I'm sure Mr. Mills, who makes a living out of serving big business, wouldn't dream of doing anything  dishonest.

Curiously, the story does not mention who paid for the survey. Perhaps it was some public-spirited person who prefers to do the faity godmother thing anonymously. And I'm sure it's just acoincidence that the T&T has been a big xupporter of the rink (oops. events centre) from the start.

What a corrupt newspaper!

There isn't much else in the paper. The editorial writer has the exoected tirade against postal workers and the NDP, accusing the latter of hypocrisy. The NDP should take this seriously. When it comes to hypcorisy, eidtorial writers at the T&T know what they're talking about.

On the op ed page, Brian Cormier has one of his dimmer columns - no mean feat. It's another rant - for the fifth day - about the most pressing issue of our time, bicycle lanes. Kidding aside, Brian, is this part of a clever scheme to dumb evertbody down, and keep them all riled up so they don't notice when big business and hack politicians are ripping them off?

He ends with a stunning piece of idiocy, "Building a commnity requires the consensus of all, not just a select few. "

Can you think of a single project in the whole history of New Brunswick (or in the world) that has had the consensus of all?  The T&T recently praised a public meeting on spending a hundred million that drew only fifty people. Fifty out of 165,000, How many have attended Mr. Alward's "consultations"?
For that matter, where is the consensus in electing our municipal, provincial and federal governments?

But the punch line actually occurs in the second to last paragraph.

"I suppose none of this matters now. I'm too stupid to know better; right?"

Grammatical error aside, that line is a keeper.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 28: The Moncton T&T - a two speed triciycle

The Moncton Times and Transcript has two sppeds - standing still and grovelling. Today's is mostly standing still, perhaps resting before a sprint of grovelling.

The front page continues its dreary series of non-stories that keep us breathlessly informed of progress in borrowing a hundred million or more for a hockey rink which is, of course, the number one "need" of this community.

There is also a story of an R.B. Bennett Day at Albert Country Museum. They're stayiing away from anything he did as prime  minister of Canada in the 1930s. Instead, visitors will eat ice cream, plsy hopscotch and marbles. People will also be able to get their pictures taken wearing funny hats and standing beside an old car. Admission will be free - which sounds like a bit of an overcharge for what will be there. Too bad.

They could have had a pretty good day if they had really made it about Bennett instead of about brainless trivia. Bennet what a rare type, a very wealthy and arrogant conservative businessman (no. that isn't the rare part.) But as he grew in wealth, he never forgot where he came from, and what poverty meant. He was a man of social conscience, giving very substantial sums to Canadians in need during the great depression. In today's money, it would come to a good quarter billion dollars. Can you, offhand, think of a businessman and/or politician today who would do that?

Bennet also had brains to so with his social conscience. He established the outline for the  big government and regulation and social programmes that made the prosperity of the fifties into the 70s and 80s possible. That's the prosperity that began to collapse after the rise of business-funded "think tanks", and the business push for less regulations, less government, and less taxes for the rich.

He also founded the CBC to remind us in a world of American radio that Canada was not a part of the US, that it had different interests and needs and goals - an idea that Canadian business killed from the age of Mulroney to today.

So we are invited to celebrate the prime minister who did more to make Canada a livable place than any other. And we'll do it by ignoring what he did. And we'll all play marbles and get our pictures taken wearing funny hats while standing beside an old car.

Is making us all dumb a coordinated cmpaign by The Moncton T&T and governments at all levels?

The edtorial, on handing out money to new business, deserves a close read. Why oppose handing out money to business, but specify only new business? Why not include old business? Why not tell us how much has been given away to new business int he last, say twenty uears, and how much has been given to old business in the form of cheap electricity, low taxes, "public" works, grants, sweetheart contracts, etc.

And why specify we need to continue giving tax breaks to the rich? How is that different from giving away money?

There's another big slip. The eidtorial says that money has been given away for fifty years. Gee! Did it occur to the writer that both Liberals and Conservatives have been in power in those years? Did it occur to the writer that both parties must dance to the same music?

The T&T is the only newspaper I have ever seen in shich the editorial cartoon is almost always on the same topic as the editorial, and it takes the same view. (The only difference is that today's cartoon places all the blame on the Liberals. That should please the owners, of course. The Liberals are temporarily of no importance to them, while the Conservatives are still useful grovellers.) That sort of cartooning servility means a lifetime of working for the NB News Media; but never for a good newspaper.

There's a good column, as always, by Alec Bruce. But I would idffer just a little with him. There is evidence of fracking causing problems. And his only evidence for saying otherwise is from the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency whose record of protecting the environment is somewhat weaker than it should be.

Still,  his point about the shady economics of shale gas is an important one. There's also a useful opinion column on the subject. writtem by Denis Landry. Too bad he forgets to mention that the Liberals were in power for the years fracking was going on - and they didn't lift a finger.  Perhaps, like Saul on the road to Damascus, the Liberals  have seen the light.

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 27: The Moncton Times and the The New Work times

There you have them, two big, metro papers with the highest standards. So, today's front page of the New Times has a big headline with story, "Pizzeria to open branch on twelfth street".

Well, no. The NYT didn't do that. It carries trivial stuff like "unemployment rises", "Thrity killed in Libya".

But metro Moncton, the hub of something, sent its fearless reporters out to get to the guts what really matters. We're getting a new chicken restaurant on Mountain St.  Boy, now the world will be talking about us for sure.

And there was good news under a joyous headline "Railcar company jobfair a success". Actually, when a hundred and fifty show up in the first hour some jobs become available, that's a success story for the bosses. But when a hundred nad fifty people scramble that fast to get one of fifty jobs, that's a failure. It tells us the job market is getting pretty bad. I guess calling it a success depends on whose side you're on.

Skip to the section C for the story of a Canadian soldier who died in Afghanistan for "non-combat" reasons. Like most of tnhe Canadian new media, the Moncton Times hasn't shown much interest in deaths "for con-ocmbat reassons." Americans have shown much more concern for their veterans who are dying at the rate of seven a day for such reasons.. Nor have we heard about the terrible price being paid in mental health and family breakdown.

A Canadian chaplain refsed to speak about the dead, perhaps invoking "let the dead bury the dead." He prefers, he said, to talk about the living who are doing an important job. You tell 'em, rev. Explain how their important job will bring about  the kingdom of heaven. If a clergyman is going to pick a side in a war, he should at least have the honesty to go as a soldier.

On the p. D1, we learn that Kim Kardashian had her bum x-rayed to prove it was all real. Hell, I could have done that without all that expensive machinery.

Skip to editorial page. This, there are two, good opinion columns. And a contemptible editorial - par for the course.

The For the Record column is on how universities are selling their souls to private businesss, norably the pharmaceutical business. (University presidents are a pretty gutless bunch.)
 What the companies are doing is funding research that is really used to spread propaganda for their overpriced products. (And the CEOs get honorary doctorates for corrupting the universities.)

Alec Bruce's column is instructive. You don't often see a writer who is incapable of doing a bad job.

Then there's the editorial. It's about fracking in the search for natural gas. The final sentence sums up the kissup tone of the editorial.  We must develop this resouce..."if it can be extracted safely with little risk." Did Norbert approve that phrase (or maybe write it?) How can something be safe if it has a (little) risk. The BP oil drilling in the Caribbean was safe by that standard. So was Chernobyl

And why should we take the opinion of either an editorial writer or our mousey premier when:

1. The Moncton Times and Grovel" didn't tell for years that the exploration was going on.
2. It hasn't told us anything about those jurisdictions that have forbidden fracking until further study is done.
3.It didn't bother to tell us, until the last minute, that there was opposition to it.
4. It has not told us about accidents in the US.
5. It has not told us that US banks are refusing to mortgage land where (or near) fracking is being carried out - or might be carried out.
6.We have no clear idea what we get out of this - except for more of the lowest-paying jobs in Canada. We could be, probably are, giving away another resource as we gave away our forests.
7.There is no evidence that Mr. Alward has listened to  his many "listening" consultations. There is every evidence he is very much the puppet that every NB premier has been.
8. As a man of action and insight, how come Mr. Alward didn't make fracking an issue in the election campaign? He surely can't rely on just the T&T for his news. Didn't he and his "team" know that fracking was going on?
9. His regulations were drawn up hurriedly only when he had to admit what was going on. There is no reason to be confident that they are good or that they will be enforced properly. As well, the fact that regulations were prepared so quickly suggests that corners have been cut for years - and there already is damage.

Finally, The Moncton T&T takes a side only when its owners tell it to. The tone of that editorial suggests that the owners have a stake in natural gas. So what is it? How much will they pocket?


Big business doesn't give a damn about the people of New Brunswick. Canadian mining companies in, for example, Congo have happily poisoned the country, starved its people and worked them to death. Your favourite Chiquita banana company has worked people into poverty and death in Central America, has overthrown democracies, and has murdered. Our lives, our children's, our futures are controlled by people who only motive is greed. This province has spent its whole history being bled  and manipulated.

All journalists, even the best and most conscientious of them, can never tell the whole truth. That's why I so much enjoy being retired from that part of my life. At last, I can tell the truth.

Still, I can  understand journalists who hold back. What I can't understand is those who grovel and lie - and enjoy doing it.

Don't expect the T&T tp tell you any of that. Don't expect it to be honest. Trust it only when it tells you a new chicken restaurant is opening on Moiutain Road.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

June 25: a stray thought.

Why on  earth does t his blog have so many readers from the US? It's about a small newspaper in a small city in Canada. But American readers are never less than 20% of the total readership and, as I write this, are something like 30%.
Can any of  you American readers clue me in on on this?

June 25: ...sigh....

Page one, the editorial page, and the psycophant editorial cartoon are all about bicycle lanes - for the FOURTH DAY IN A ROW.  Talk about taking on the big issues....  Does Brent Mazerolle feel like fool for greeing to do this bilge in these special reports? Talk about dumbing down the public...

Page A11 is given over to a full page ad signed by the usual kissups ( mayors of NB), demanding more crown lands be handed over to the forestry coompanies (mainly Irving).

It says - and pay close attention to the wording - "We can find ways to plant and harvest more trees, protect jobs, maintain healthy watercourses, and a sustainable environment.." We can FIND ways... That can only mean we have not yet found them. Shouldn't we find the ways first? Then cut the trees?

I also regret to see this ad seems to (indirectly) accuse Mr. Irving of lying. He told the press just months ago that his company already does an excellent job of harvesting trees by environmentally sound methods. Gee, I'll bet Mr. Irving would be reaally, really angry if he knew this ad was being published.

The ad reminded my of something I missed yesterday. I paid too little attention to the new locomotive purchased by Irving for service on lines running through NB, Maine and Vermont, part of the region AIMS calls Atlantica, and which seems to be being formed as a wider, Irving empire. Just happens Maine grows wood, too. And this whole Atlantica thing reminded me of shale gas.

Who will be distributing the gas to the Atlantica market? Could it be some of the same people who have  formed a committee to replace our elected government as the planner of the economic future of New Brunswick?

The NewsToday section has at last noted what most of the world knew a couple of years ago. The Afghan war has been lost. Uncounted thousands of lives on both sides have been lost along with the war... Why did we fight it?

To say that the Taliban had even knowledge of the planning for 9/11 is absurd. The US has never produced any evidence it has the slightest knowledge of any such plan. Even common sense tells us that Al Quaeda would have been extremely unlikely to jeopardize the plan by telling it to anybody. And the Taliban, knowing the consequences, would never have kept the plan secret from the US.

Anyway, that war was planned and publicly advocated BEFORE 9/11.

We still don't know why that war was fought. The idea that the US spent hundreds of billions of dollars and killed tens of thousands of people to "protect the womenforlk" is absurd. It is particularly absurd coming from a nation that has killed millions of women over the last forty years.

After all that blood and destruction and cost, Afghanistan is nowhere close to being a dmocracy. It is nowhere close to being stable. And the only change for women is that tens of thousands of them have been killed or widowed by our bombs, and starved and frozen in the chaos we created. What have we accomplished? What were we trying to accomplish?

There is an interesting news item buried on D6. A grade ten student in Beaverbrook has called for a statue to R.B.Bennett, to be placed among those of other great prime ministers in Ottawa.

His proposal is supported by many Conservative mps - but for the wrong reasons. They support it because the label he wore was Conservative. In fact, and despite his reputation for being uncaring, Bennett showed the compassion, intelligence, respect for the importance of government, and willingness to improve government for the common good that the Conservative party had never shown before - and has not shown since.  Bennett stood for all the things Harper does not, and showed a respect for government and the people, a respectt that is utterly absent in Harper. New Brunswickers should be supporting this effort - not because Bennett was a New Brunswicker or a Conservative - but because he was a humane and intelligent leader who established all those things that the modern Conservatives hate - such regulation of the economy, and a national broadcaster, the CBC, which Harper and his supporters would like to destroy.

The teen pages in the Whatever section are lighter than usual. but still a good read. (The lightness is to be expected at this time graduation and summer excitment.) My favourite column this time was by Christina Korotkov who wrote some eminently good sense.

Friday, June 24, 2011

June 15: addendum

Let's see. SWN is an American company whose CEO is a good ol' boy who works hard for his basic salary of $5,737,00 plus perks and bonusses per year. And our minister of natual resources is going to get tough with it. Right.

SWN Canada is a subsidiary.

An Irving owned newpaper company is a acting a a shill for SWN.

Is there a New Brunswicker connected to SWN?

It wouldn't be hard for an enterprising reporter to find out. Just walk a few minutes down Main St. from the newspaper office. SWNCanada  is at 633.  Ask them.

June 24: The news as "dumb down" and as propaganda

Leading scientists, after years of research, have warned that the oceans of the world could be dead within fifty years. It will be the greatest dsaster since the extinction of the dinosaurs. If life in the oceans becomes extinct, so do we. We have perhaps, ten years to roll back the damage of oil spills, plastics, etc. that are poisoning our waters. Meanwhile, big business is rolling back the regulations on oil drilling in the very fragile environment of the Arctic.

The only word of it that has appeared in The Moncton Times and Transcript came from an opinion columnist.The editor must have read it, and yawned. The column was well written, but the front page already had two, far more important stories..

Dieppe is planning to create a dog park. And, for the third day in a row, we had a big story (plus an editorial and a cartoon again) on the thundering issue of bicycle lanes.

Keep 'em dumbed down.

The issue of 'fracking' for natural gas made it to p. C4, under a more important story (that said nothing) about an animal cruelty case.

It's a good example of how a lying press can slant the news.  Since they were not allowed in the meeting, reporters could only write what the"stake-holders' told them to write. It gives no indication that reporters were permitted to ask questions about it. And, oh my, there were big questions that lay there, wide open.
1. The government announced it now has regulations in place to control fracking. Really? The day before, it said it was working on them. They must have finished within hours of that statement. Fast work. Do much background research?
2. The information people are getting on the web is biased (unlike the information we are getting from frackers, I guess; And the complete absence of any information from the government.).
3. The government will hold public consultations in the coming months. And here I thought a consultation was something you heard BEFORE a decision, not after.
4. Has the government done environtmental studies to help guide their regulations? If so, can we see them?
5. Crain Lesonard, our Minister of Energy, announced that fracking has been going on for years in New Brunswick. What? It been going on for years, and we just got regulations for it yesterday?  How come the Times newshounds have never reported on it?

The minister of Natural Resrouces added, ( in semi-literate style), "Our number one thing is the environment and water; that's our number one concern." It is?  Then how come you've done nothing for all those  years? And how come the truthful Transcript has never reported on it?

He also pontificated that the government has to engage the people more fully on this issue. So - how come you weren't engaging them years ago? You had a great chance as recently as the last election.

6. Nobody asked why France and Quebec have both put a moratorium on fracking, why a drilling company in the US got hit with a fine for careless practices, or why US banks are refusing to give mortgages on properties close to fracking operations.

7. The CEO of a company doing the drilling in NB, SWN Resources, said he's thrilled at the regulations. Ever since he came here, X years ago, he's been pushing for regulation and enforcement. (yeah. Gas drilling companies are noted for their love for the environment.)
Let's see. A big business has been pushing for regulations and enforcement- and the NB goveronment has refused for all these years? If you can believe either of those statements, you must be a life subscriber to The Moncton Times&Transcript.

8. Who is SWN Resources? Is it possibly a subsidiary of another company? Who are its major shareholders and directors? Is it possible any NBers are in there?

9. In burial style, people opposed to fracking are placed well below the middle of the story, and just before some more propaganda pitches from the government. That's a jounralist's way of hiding them.
Oh, it also made them look petulant, childish. The trick to this lay in the last sentence of the paragaprh before them whcih said all views were heard. (How would the reporter know that if they weren't allowed to be there?)

Then, the next sentence begins, "And yet many of the demonstrators outside felt they were not represented...."

The "And yet" carfries the message that the demonstrators were unreasonable. This whole story is a good example of how newspapers lie while seeming to tell the truth.

The demonstrators are also introduced as being trivial. "They spent most of the day waving signs, chanting, ..."

The reason they did so is because nobody in New Brunswick gives a damn about voters. Not even most of the voters. Most will accept all the lying and the propaganda and the abusethat will be  shovelled at them  until their "leaders"  have sucked the last drop of blood out of them.

Demonstrators are rare in New Brunswick. A hundred of them should be big news in t his province. When a dozen or so out of more than a thousand parents demonstrated against the closing of Moncton High, the Moncton news media gave it a full court press.   I can think of very few places where TV, radio, and print would devlote so much of their resources to such an irrelevant story.

(I can understand the coverage of The Moncton Times. It used the mini-demo of parents to build up its campaign of hatred for the public schools. I don't understand the radio and TV coverage at all.)

A dozen demonstrators were then a big story. A hundred in Salisbury were treated as no more than a footnote to government and business propagandists.

Oh, I have to answer a aletter to the editor from George Crossman. He says the system is flawed, and the teachers are to blame for all the students who don't finish high school. I have some experience in this area.
1. New Brunswick has the best  high school completion rate in Canada - which makes it one of the highest in the world.
2. How can one blame the teachers for failing students when we don't have the money to fund our schools - but do have it to give to our business leaders in reduced taxes, loans, grants, and cut rate electricity. And a hundred million dollar hockey rink.
3. I am a high school drop out. I never did complete it. I was in a pretty high-powered class. Three became doctors, one of them with a world reputation. Several became lawyers. More became hgihly successful in business. Three became university teachers. One became an opera singer, and was, until recently, drama critic for the Londton Times.

I became an office boy at Bell Telephone.

There was nothing wrong with my teachers. I didn't study. I skipped school frequently. I paid no attention in class. I failed because I grew up in a part of the city where finishing high school wasn't even on our radar. Of my grade one class, not one person finished high school.  They weren't stupid. They had good teachers. But a world in which one learned was not their world. In many ways, it still isn't mine.

Yes, something can be done for children who become lost in the system. But it takes money and trained people with the time do devote themselves to it. We don't have such people in New Brunswick. We don't have them because we are so eager to satisfy the wants of our economic masters, but we don't care enough about our own children to give the schools the money they need for even a basic system.

In this province, we're damned lucky to have the good teachers we  have.

Sorry, I forgot to check which famous nobody has a birthday today.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 15: I was wrong .. partly

I apolotize. The Moncton Times&Transcript did run a report on the coming meeting on fracking - sort of.

It's headed Alward remains open to refraction. (Of couse. Alward remains open to anything he's told to remain open to.)

"We are doing the work," he said, "that we need to do to ensure that we have the regulatory system in place to assure New Brunswickers that we make sound decisions."

We don't yet have such a system? But the exploration has been going on for years. It's going on now. And we've been allowing it go on without adequate regulations in place? Have we even begun the environmental studies that are essential to decide on regulations?

The public is barred from the meeting. So is the press. But that doesn't matter. The press will publish whatever it's told to publish, there or not. The meetinig is just for stakeholders. We aren't stake hokers.
We're just the rabble who have to live in this environment. So much for Alward. the man who listens to the people.

In the time I have lived here, I have experienced only two premiers, Graham and Alward. Have they all been such kissuppy twerps?

Still, it's an important story. So why is it on page 3? Well, only the really big news gets on p.1 There, Brent Mazerolle pours his reportorial skills into a question that will profoundly affect our lives. Are bicycle lanes a good idea? Hint: in The Netherlands, which is densely populated and heavily reliant on cars, the whole country is covered with bicycle lanes, real bicycle paths, in fact, that are quite separate from the roads. Way to plan for the future, Moncton.

Page one also had another big story that squeezed out fracking. NB lliquor is going to hold a beer sale. That's an important story, I guess, but it's too late for most of the grad proms.

Oh, p.1 also was needed for the daily plug for U2.

Unless you really, really care that the Bluejays beat the Braves, and you really, really need to know that today it actor Ted Shackleford's birthday, you can now skip to the editorial and op ed pages.

The editorial, Lord love a duck, is about the bike lanes again. So is the cartoon. That's bad sign. Good cartoonists thrive on a sense of rage and independence. And they most certainly don't kiss up to the editor every day. de Adder is a good artist, very good, indeed. But he'll never be a good eidtorial cartoonist until he speaks for himself. Of course, there's every chance he will be a gtreat cartoonist just within New Brunswick - just the same as Alward is a great premier.

Jody Dallaire provides her usual best on the women's movement. This one is an unusually important read, even by Dallaire's standards. Pay particular attention to paragraphs 3. 13, and 18. They reflect ideas that New Brunswickers desperately need to understand.

The block buster is Alec Bruce's column. It's in reponse to findings by scientists that the world's ocean's are dying, and fast.  That's the message of a report that made world news everywhere - except in Brunswick media. When life in the ocean ends, we end, too. And the likelihood is it will happen within the lifetimes of most of us. And that's not even factoring in the effects of environmental change on land.

As things are, it is likely that our "stakeholders" will pooh-pooh the idea, tell their news media to do the same, and order the Alwards of this world to forget about it. That's why The Moncton Times&Transcript was so excited about bicycle lanes and beer sales that it didn't have room for the story.

As to the stakeholders, something unpleasant happens to people who have almost unlimited power. They believe they have a right to it; and they close their eyes to the consequences of power. It's called megalomania. The only concern is for themselves; and they think they are gods.

The Roman emperor caligula thrust a beard of gold wires into his face to show the world he was a god. When a storm at sea made him sick, he ordered his armies to lash the waves as punishment for the sea..

As Gods, megalomaniacs have no need of conscience. They kill, torture, impoverish by the millsion - and have the right to because they are gods. Stalin, Hitler and Mao tse Tung were gods who killed almost a hundred million with no regrets.

The rulers of the great European empires killed, tortured and enslaved uncounted millions. They still do in places like Congo.

Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon had not the slightest qualm of conscience in killing a couple of million Vietnamese,most of them civilians, poisoning the land, and beginning the killing of 200,000 Mayans. Bush was proud of setting a record for executions when he was governor of Texas. He cheered when over a million, mostly innocent, Iraq men, women and children were killed. Nor was there any Christian regret from t he real president, Dick Cheney, whose oil money was enough for him to justify any brutality.

Harper feels no guilt in sending Canadians to kill and be killed in Afghanistan and Libya -  though he knows that both wars have nothing to do with defending anybody. Nor does Obama have qualms. He knows the Afghanistan war is lost. But Americans, Canadians and others will stay there to be killed an be killed until he can make an exit that makes him look good. Obama is also the man who allowed other gods, bankers, to give each other $139 billion dollars in taxpayer's money as bonuses for causing the recession. At the same time, he cut one and a half million destitute Americans from national assistance.

Megalomania is bred by power, by wealth, by a sense of class privilege. In 1920 or so, Henry Ford called a conference of rich people he knew to tell all the world governments how the world should be run. None of them had the slightest qualification to do so. But the world press, mostly owned by other megalomaniacs, covered every word like gospel.  (Ford later founded a virultently anti-semitic newspaper, The Dearborn Intelligencer; and he also became a major contributor to Hitler on the latter's rise in politics. Until 1942, Hitler kept a huge Portrait of Ford in his office.)

There's megalomania and arrogance in New Brunswick, too. You know it. It takes some arrogance for an unelected person to tell the world he has formed a coalition with the government. (And a pretty gutless premier not to tell him to get lost.) It takes an arrogant group of business leaders (with a few academic and other flunkies) to announce that they have formed a group to plan the economic future of the whole province.

So much for democracy.

If we have any hopes or plans for our children (perhaps even for ourselves) we have to wake up now. The megalomaniacs have to be told this is a democracy in which we all have equal rights. Mr. Alward better be told that he bloody well better listen to us - and not just in some mickey mouse town hall meetings.

Now, read Jody Dallaire's column again. We don't have much time.

And we have no choice at all.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 22: Just when you think it couldn't get worse.

Section A today has three stories that are really free ads for the Casino. Half the rest is paid ads. Any "news" is trivia.

The lead story on thealways pitiful business page is how readers of the T&T can win a Bluetooth unit. That's in the NewsToday section - of which three quarters is ads. There is a story on the damage being done by cutting another two million. from the district two schools budget. Luckily, that won't have much effect because the Parent association and home and school have both made it clear they don't give a damn about what happens to the children. They'll just blame the teachers, then givie contracts to private business to run the system at twice the cost.

An item worth reading is one by Gwynn Dyer on the editorial page. He mentions what the T&T has never told us. The US is conducting talks with the Taliban to get itself out of Afghanistan. You remember the Taliban. They were the ones that Bush said were responsible for 9/11 (though they almost certainly weren't.)  If they were responsible, and we are now negotiating with them, why the hell did we go to war in the first place?

Not that it matters. On the coming Nov. 11, some political dipstict will give a speech about how we will never forget the 150 plus young Canadians who died (and killed) to defend our freedom in a war we still don't know the reason for. And then we'll all go home and forget them.

There's quite a bit of news that didn't make the paper - though it was certainly known.
1. Our minister of  energy and other stuff announced yesterday, that fracking for shale oil will go on because they have no prrof it is dangerous.
He should tell the American banks about that. They've begun to refused mortgages to properties with drilling licences or with drilling near them - or with drilliing even a possibility.
The T&T also forgot to mention there's a meeting in Fredericton tomorrow so participants in the drilling can discuss the money to be made.
And it didn't mention there will be an anti-shale gas demonstration in Fredericton at the same time.
Nor did it tell us whether the government has even  started an environmental study; or whether it has drawn up regulations. Or what plans it has to enforce them.
Premier Alward, the man who listens, has already allowed the drilling to begin without  giving a damn what we think. Prediction - like McKenna, he will retire a wealthy man. All perfectly legal.


2. Obama has publicly announced that we are not at war in Libya; so he therfore does not need congressional approval. We're bombing; and we're killing people on both sides; and we have "advisors" with the rebel forces on the ground. But it's not a war. Know why?
Because nobody on our side has been killed. Wow! So it was okay for Hitler to invade Austria and Czechoslovakia.

We have not yet been told what this non-war is about. Anybody who thinks it is about democracy gets a free subscription for life to the Moncton T&T, perhaps even a job as a staff writer.

3. Then there's a whole list of stories the newspapers (not just Burnswick News) get excited about - then forget.
a) At the time of the earthquake, the US government  promised Haiti billions in aid. What has been done with that money?
answer - nothing. That's because not a cent of it has ever been delivered. It has been possible, though, for the US to dig up enough money to give away billions in weapons to various dictators.
b) There was a major scientiric report that ALL life in the oceans is close to extinction due to warming, oil drilling, various kinds of pollution, etc. You would think this might be important news for a province bordering salt water. (not to mention its cause for concern about fracking.)
c) with regard to the above, do you remember the BP oil spill? Have you seen any followup reports on its effects on the Caribbean?
d) A friend has just flown in from Japan with his family. His wfie (who is Japanese) is terrified at the radiation dangers in food and water. Apparently, large numbers of Japanese are very worried. It was big news here for a week or so. How come the story disappeared?

 Singer Tom Rundgren os 64 today. Stop the presses!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 21: The Moncton Times dreamily watches the world go by

Yesterday, spcialized trucks used for "fracking" to find shale gas were parked on a road near Salisbury. The Moncton Times didn't notice.
The provincial goernment just recently said it would be drawing up regulations for such drilling. Has that been done? We don't know. Have the environmental studies been done? We don't know. In fact, so far as the T&T is concerned, we don't know a damn thing. And we aren't going to.

The editorial writer shows again that he or she knows a little about politics as about anything else. The blurb on senate reform pronounces reform is a good idea because it will bring us closer to the US system of government. Yes, we have so often admired the US system.

The edtirorial writer said it will give the Senate real power to represent regions. Here, the writer shows confusion. A deomcracy represents us people - with all of our votes equal. It does not represent regions, hills, cities, or forests. Just people. We already have provinces with enormous powers in their own governments. In fact, we are one of the most decentralized countries in the world.

Nor does the writer understand that we cannot create power. It can only be taken from somewhere else. Any power we give to the Senate can only be taken from the only body we have that democratically represents us - the House of Commons.

The Candian Senate was originally designed to protect large institutions like banks against the interference of our elected representatives.. It is not a bastion of democracy. It is a fortress against democracy. The eidtorial writers really should read some Canadian history.

Alec Bruce has an excellent, if dimaying, column on the federal NDP, and its flirting with becoming just another Liberal party. That was a process that begam when the NDP was formed out of the CCF. And so it continues its move to be a party just like the others.

That was shown in its vote in favour of continuing the war in Libya.
Despite what the Times tells us and doesn't tell us, we are in a war in Libya; and it's an illegal war.
1. It is not a UN action. The UN mandate was to create a no fly zone. We were quite clearly told we were not to take sides. We have publicly taken sides with the rebels. Obama has publicly stated that we are there to establish the rebels in power. None of that is sanctioned by the UN.
2. Obama is illegally at war. The constitution requires him to get congressional approval within three months. That time has passed. Obama has publicly claimed (and despite the advice of government lawyers) that this isn't really a war and he doesn't need approval. Right. bombing a country and killing people isn't war. Congress is deeply divided over this,. It also says Obama has never given a credible reason for fighting this war.
3. Our House of Commons (which has never been given a credible reason, either) voted for the war - calling it the UN-sactioned action that it is NOT. The NDP voted for it.
4. The Times has never given us information about this war, information that is freely available from reputable sources. This is a war of aggression to put a US puppet into power in Libya. It has nothing to do with freedom, nothing to do with Canada.
7. We are killing people in a war that is illegal as defined by international law, American law, and any moral law we have left. By that vote in the house of commons, we have become war criminals.
Luckily, the only war criminals who ever get hanged are the ones on the losing side.

There's a good column by Charlotte Kingston on our obligation to take the problems of our native peoples far more seriously. We have treated them brutally. The effect of that does not just go away.

While  working with those Japanese-Canadians who were interned as "possible enemies" in 1942, and then sought redress, I came to realize that nothing we could do with heal the scars caused by their sense of humiliation and betrayal.  An olf friend of mine who was interned at the age of six is now a world-famous surgeon. But even now, in his age, he daily feels the humiliation and rejection. Like so many Japanese-Canadians who lived their lives here, he sees Japan as a foreign country. But so is the Canada that betrayed them. For all his fame, he has no place.

Canadians and Americans descended from slavery still suffer the scars of their treatment; and they still feel like outsiders though slavery ended in Canada almost two hundred years ago, and in the US  almost a hundred and fifty years ago.

So it is with out native peoples. And it's not enough to say we're sorry. Whether we are the ones or our ancestors are the ones who did it is irrelevant. We have an obligation to offer help and understanding to those who need it. Lord knows we offer help and understanding in a hurry to the billionaires in this province. It's time to offer it to those who actually need it.

There was the usual good column for seniors by Ed Graham; and the usual bit of trivia by the staff writer of the day.

Oh, there was one, interesting item that made the first page.  (somebody must have slipped up.) It's about Acadian parents rallying to protest the cuts to their school budgets. Organization and involvement among Acadians seems to be strong, productive, and positive. It shows even in the physcial appearance of Acadian areas.

But, so far as I can tell, the only organized and involved anglos in New Brunswick are seniors, corporate bosses, and gay-haters.

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 20: Crass bigotry in the Moncton Times and Tribune

The only part of the Moncton T&T even worth looking at today are a piece on the editorial page, and some of othe letters to the editor. (Some two thousand people in Montreal demonstrated against fracking for shale gas. There was no room for that story in the T&T because it needed space for big stories about how movie viewing is changing, and how somebody fixed up his 1954 Corvette.)

There was also a demonstration against shale gas exploration in Salisbury this morning. But I doubt whether The T&T will cover it. It seems the demonstrators were asked to leave by somebody from the local Baptist church. The reason given was that not all Baptists are opposed to shale gas exploration. I wonder if they considered that not all people approve of Baptists? I iwonder why  they don't refuse to accept funds for their university when they know all taxpayers don't share their persecution of gays?

But the one that stands out is a commentary so ignorant and bigoted. so filled with hatred, that that I have never seen anything like it in a Canadian newspaper.

Lt.-Colonel Zumwalt is a former marine who served in Vietnam, Panama, and Desert Storm. His opinion piece is titled "Are Muslims the children of a lesser God?"

In this rant, he takes a few examples of moslems killing or torturing children to call this a "moslem mindset". The problem of this "moslem mindset" was last as long as Moslem etremists tolerated by moslem moderates. In short, you can't talk with them. You have to kill them. They victimize children.

Zumwalt "served" in Vietnam. That's where American soldiers, most Christian. dropped more bombs than it had in the whole apcific war, splattering babies against walls, burning children alive with napalm, and still killing them today with the poisons it spread on the land. Nobody knows the number of children killed in Vietanam and Cambodia. But it is probably close to a million.

Zumwat "served" in Panama.. That means he and his Christian troops were preceded by Christian bombers that killed thousands of civilians, including children, to blast a road to the presidential palace

Too bad he missed Guatemala. That's where Christians murdered 200,000 Mayans of all ages, burying them in pits, then tossing the live children after them to be bulldozed over.

Christian soldiers have now killed hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. And now our Christian soldiers have joined American, British, and French Christian soldiers in killing them in Libya.

After MAo-Tse-tung, the worst killers of children have been us Christians. Onward Christian soldiers.

But, unlike Moslems, we do not torture children. Not much. I mean, only if we catch them. Guess who the world's largest manufacturer of torture instruments is?

Israel has quite a record of killing children, notably in the recent invasion of Gaza. Would Zumwalt call killing children part of the Israeli mindset? If he did, would the T&T have printed it?

The good colonel is also listed as head of a security consulting firm. That almost certainly means he hires thugs from all over the world to be rented out to the US government and others as mercenaries.

This is the most hateful and disgusting crap I have ever seen in a Canadian newpaper (though it is standard far in many American ones. The Moncton Times&Transcript owes an apology to the Moslems of this city - and to all people who had this filth shoved into their homes.

This also strikes me as being an excellent topic for sermons in our Christian churches this Sunday. But I bet not one will do it.

There are some excellent letters to the editor by Steve Vasseur on population grown, by Rebecca Gingrich on Libya - and perhaps by Jill Ford-Douglass on the T&T's neglect of Fabein Melanson. (I can't be sure of that because I'm a newcomer whose only local news comes fro the T&T; so I have never heard of Mr. Melanson. I iwould be grateful for information.)

Their is a hilarious letter berating the  posties for going on strike. (Well, the writer reads the T&T. So how could he know that it was not the posties who walked out. It was the management that locked them out.)

His point is that a person who uses coercion  (as the taxation officers do) is breaking the law. His authority for this is Luke 3:14. He also includes the injuction to "be content with your wages."
Perhaps he should have sent that advice to messres. Irving and McCain.

I wonder if, when the writer was a child, he ate only the bits of supper he liked - pushing the rest aside You can't eat just those bits and pieces of the meal you like. It's not healthy

Same thing with The Bible.

I felt a little sick as I finished reading today's paper. Most of it is vapid. One part is vile. The only decent part is the letters to the editor page. This is a newspaper deliberatly designed to dumb people down, and to drive them to a hatred close to racism.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

June 18: Hints, etc. for The Moncton Times and Transcript

Today, the first section, mostly local news, has nothing of interest - unless you are really, really interested in the rules governing the use of cadavers for medical reserach.  NewsToday, as usual, is patchy and superficial (and with a business page that is pitiful). So I thought I'd give some hints to the editors on how to find news quickly and cheaply. I'll start with items the T&T has missed - though they've been carried in Europe and even (though less so) in some North American papers.

1. The International Monetary Fund is predicting a very bad year for the US economy; and perhaps a long series of very bad years. The top one percent of the population is doing well, still making profits. In fact, when tax payers went into debt for the rest of their lives and their children's lives to bail out the financial houses, the ones that caused the recession, their directors and executives rewarded each other with a world record 139 BILLION dollars in bonuses. I don't think that made the T&T business page.
2. Tax cuts to the billionaires, alas, meant that aid to the unemployed and destitute had to be cut back. One and a half million Americans were cut off from national assistance. As well, school classrooms have been packed with as many as 50 students and more to save money.

In Florida, people are being arrested for giving food to the hungry. It's illegal to give more than a small amount of food away, and severe limits to where and how it can be done. Police have been ordered to concentrate on this problem, and to use massive force.

3. Remember the war in Libya? The one our politicians voted massively for with only one person, Elizabeth May showing any integrity?
American congressmen, both Democrat and Republican are furious about the war. They say:
a: They have never been told what the war is for. (Gee. I guess they ain't really smart like our mps.)
b: They say the war is illegal, if only because the president can only wage war for two months. Then he has to get congressional approval. He's been fighting a war for three months without that approval.
Generally, Congress sees no reason for the war.
c: Obama claims this is not a war. Seriously. We're droppping bombs and stuff but, hey, it's just funnin'.
d: We are not following the UN mandate. It specifically said we could not fight for one side. We are fighting a war. It's an illegal war. People who do that are called war criminals; and they get hanged  - but only if they're on the losing side. The behaviour of our government and most of its opposition is a betrayal of everything we like to believe Canada stands for.
e: Afghanistan will be bankrupt within a month.

In fairnes, you won't find much about any of this in the North American press. So how can a small city paper keep up?  Well, it can buy a computer. Then it can look up:
a: The Guardian. It is perhaps the world's best English language newspaper.
b: The Independent. Another British paper that digs just a little harder to tell the truth.
c: El Haaretz - and Israeli paper of high standards, and the best source of news on the middle east.
d: Al Jazeera - yes, it's run mostly by Moslems. It also is more truthful, ethical and intelligent than most of the North American press all put together.
e: If somebody at the T&T can read French, try Le Monde from Paris. And, if German, Der Spiegel.
f: Finally - and this one has to be read with caution because it often mixes opinion with news, and it does have a bias. But it does have hard news that most of our news media hide under the rug. This site is the life work of one man. International Clearing House.

The editorial was the usual piece of idiocy about the hackey arena. The infrastructure of the city is cumbling. The schools are starved for money. They province is in debt. The American economy on which our economy depends is going down the toilet. What a great time to borrow a hundred million (and more) for a hockey rink!

As to Bill Belliveau, I 've always respected him for doing his homework. But he, too, tumbled into the mentally challenged category today. His point was that unions don't understand the realities of modern day conomies and of free competition.

So, tell us, Bill, who does understand the realities of today's economies and of free competition? Is is the financial houses around the world who caused the recession? And then got taxpayers to pony up enough money so they could pay each other big bonuses? Does it mean today's business leaders who have plnuged the whole world into crisis through their own greed?

As for the "free" competition - does that mean the people who electricity at less than cost, who are given thousands of acres of public forest, who get tax breaks that we have to make up, who get low interest loans, who can poison our soil by drilling for gas - with few regulations and no public oversight?

These are the people who understand the realities?

With apologies, Bill, unions represent the people who pay the bills for the mistakes and the greed of the big buusiness. When the auto industry got into trouble, it was the auto workers who got fired, while the "free competition" execs got multi-million dollar bunuses.

Most of us live in the "reality". We don't need a hack for big business to tell us what reality is.

The teens page in the Whatever section remains far the best part of the paper. The articles are thoughful, intelligent and welll written. The same pages  also have a good advice for teens column. It's too bad the T&T isn't run by  teens like these.

Friday, June 17, 2011

June 17: More than the usual dose of ignorance

It began on p.1 with a big picture and story of the great public consultation on a new, one hundred million dollar hockey rink. (It's part of the latest New Brunswick fad that governments should govern by listening to people - or whoever turns up with an opinion. It's a good thing doctors don't do heart surgery on that principle.)

The news story said there were a hundred people in attendance. I saw 27 in the photo looking at the angle ofo the speaker's desk, I would guess there might be another 27 who are out of the picture. But let's give them a hundred. (Would the T7T lie? Do fish like water?) That 's less than one person per thousand in the "greater Moncton" region. And it's a safe bet that many of them are city employees who were told to be there, and to round up their relatives.

The story gives no evidence that any of them has the slightest knowledge of city planning. But that puts them on even terms with the Mayor and his Council. They were planning, they were told, to build the catalyst for the next hundred years of city growth.

Wow! We have people who know what our needs will be ini a hundred years? Or ten years? Or five?

Moncton already has a few such visions for the future lying around but doing nothing. For example, there's the ruin of the old, railway roundhouse. There's the main street built for  horse traffic. There's the shops built for shoppers who parked at the curb.

Some architectural genius said the new stadium should be modern, but should fit in with its surroundings. Really? It should like  a Sobey's? Or a hotel? Or a shopping mall? Think of all the great architectrual works of the last fifty years. Does the Sydney Opera House look anything like the buildings surrounding it? Does the Expo 67  Habitat in Montreal? The Guggenhem Museum?

Once again, the T&T writes about politic and economic con artists manipulating a handful of people - most of whom have no idea what they're talking about - and calls it democracy.

The paper carries no mention of groups who have been demonstrating against "fracking" for shale gas, through the drilling is going on very close to Moncton - and so have the demonstrations. But, I guess that in a democracy people who say a hockey stadium should have a pool overlooking the Petitcodiac so we can get the feeling we're swimminig in the river are worth listening to.  People who say we may be endangering our environment, our health, and maybe ourlives...well, they's jes' iggerant.

Then there's the editorial. For bias and ignorance of the subject, today's is close to a record. It's a defence of Harper for he very early intervention in the postal and Air Canada strikes. His argument is that since they are government run, they really shouldn't be allowed to strike.

Apparently the writer of the editorial must have been born before 1987, the year Air Canada was largely privatized. The rest of the editorial is just as ignorant and illogical. In the case of the postal workers, they are employees just like any other employee. The union is there only defence against the boss - whether the boss is private or public. But as prime minister, Harper is both employer and government leader. His intervention at this stage is exactly like Mr. Irving declaring a strike of his employees to be illegal. (I'm sure he may already have done so.)

Conservative governments encourage the free market and leave private business alone? Really? They leave it alone? So most of our public forest wasn't handed over? We don't give cheap loans to companies that go broke? We insist that big corporations pay the same rates for electricity that we do? And that corporations and the rich pay the same tax rates we do?

Conservatives encourage the free market? That's why we just signed a multi, multi-billion deal to buy fighter plances without calling for tenders?

Conservatives have economic health " top of the mind"?  So how come Conservatives, throughout Canadian history have been the biggest spenders, and have run up the biggest deficits?

Then get the final paragraph. It says the majority of Canadians used their votes to build a majority government for Harper. The majority of Canadians.... Surely I don't have to point out the obvious failure of logic here.

This editorial is so far beneath contempt for its ignorance and illogic, it's not even good bullshit.

Then there's Norbert. He argues that computer "hacking" can be considered reason for going to war. (As if we needed reasons. What was the reason for killing millins of civilians in Vietnam? Over a million in Iraq? For overthrowing the elected government of Iran to install a brtual dictatorship under the Shah. What was the reason to overthrow the elected government of Guatemala, and install a dictatorship? What was the reason to murder 200,000 impoverished Mayan civilians - whole families - in Guatemala? Why are we killing Libyans? Why are US drones bombing Yemen?

The US and Israel have both hacked government computers in Iran. So when do we got to war with them? 

All large countries hack into each other's systems and spy on each other. If that's cause for war, we are in for eternal war.

Confidently bone-headed to the end, Norbert concludes that "Chaotic new frontiers invariably end up being controlled." Right. Like the ancient Romans controled the barbarians. Like we have learned to control opium and cocaine (and gambling and alcohol and the environment and the risk of nuclear war.)

There's also surprise about the hockey riot in Vancouver - as though this were a suprise. Without even tryinig hard, I've been caught in the middle of three of them in Montreal. Why they happen is no mystery.

1. Hockey fans are such socially deprived people that they think it really, really matters who wins a game. They have no equivalent concern about anything else. Most of the population of this world has never heard of the Vancouver Canucks (or the Moncton Wildcats). But many fans think that winning a trophy is right up there with the Second Coming.

2. A great many fans are so emotionally involved that they deeply feel the need of alcoholic medication before, during, and after the game.

3. Criminals know that. So they get the fans going on violence, then hit their own, pre-planned targets.

The recipe is immature fans, booze, and a few, smart crooks. I've seen all three, up close.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 16: The Moncton T&T laugh for the day

"Stupidity is contagious study finds". You'll find it at the bottom of NewsToday (C section) in today's T&T.  It's all about how the mindlessness of the media - TV and print - makes us consumers of the stuff stupid.

Of course. Look at the big shows on TV like Gerry Springer and all the "judge" shows. They're all about humiliating people for the entertainment of the audience. And those who appear on those shows usually have all the characteristics of stupidity and poverty that the audience can laugh at (while secretly knowing that they, the audience, are just as dumb.)

It all bears a remarkable resemblance to the declining Roman Empire when the population of Rome was made up of useless people who rulers had to keep stupid in their poverty so that the emperors could safely enjoy the wealth they had plundered from the Empire. That's why there were free shows of gladiators killing each other, and humans being eaten by wild animals. The Gerry Springer show is just an imitation of that . So is extreme fighting. Entertain the mob. Keep them stupid.

The funny part is to see this appearing in The Moncton Times and Transcript - a sort of print equivalent of lite rock radio. Keeping 'em stupid is what the T&T is all about.

Canada has just officially gone to war in Libya. Parliament has approved it with only Elizabeth May voting against it. (I'll never vote NDP again.) Nobody actually knows what the war is about. US congressmen, both Democrat and Republican, have public complained they have not been told what it's about.) Certainly, it has nothing to do with Canada. But we're going to kill people, anyway, just as we have been doing for months.

No Canadian newspaper has carried a clear and/or credible story explaining why we are killing people. But our parliament votes for it. And we Canadians stand around with our collective face hanging out. So our stupidity is surely contagious.

We live in a world iin which we fully cooperate in arbitrary arrest, torture, illegal war and murder. Most of it isn't in our news media. You won't find it mentioned in our churches, either. You'ld think that torture, illegal war, and murder would be required topics for the pulpit and discussion. But  not in New Brunswick. What  you're more likely to hear is how we got to get them there gays 'cause they's weird. Ain't like us real Christians who figure the end of the world is coming any day, and we'll all be up in heaven watching sinners being tortured by tarantulas.

The whole T&T is about dumbing down and entertaining the mob. It's news is  trivial. There is, for example, no mention of demonstrations against the practice of "fracking" to get shale gas. They don't cover demonstrations against anybody who has money.  (They will however, send out a full staff to cover a gathering of five people to complain about the schools. That's becasue the boss wants people to complain about the schools. Then he can start ripping them off as well as the rest of the province.)

Check out the story by the regular staff writer at the top of the op ed page.o It's almost always trivial. In a world in which we are on the edge of serious labour unrest, when drilling for shale gas with all its risks is allowed to go on with no coverage at all (and very little legislation), when we have just approved of a highly questionable war, when city council is racing to rip us off to the tune of a hundred million for a hockey ricnk, the staff writer gives us an item about big lobsters he has seen.

Duh. It's working. I feel more stoopid already. Real stoopid. I'm starting to like Alward and the Conservatives.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June15: home again, home again, jiggety jog...

I have had a useful reminder that the daily papers of Ontario and Quebec have their own bloody awfulness when it comes to bias and omissions. But it was nice, at least, to read papers with decent arts sections. The even greater disappointment than their bias, though, was the low quality of their commentary columns.

The Globe, though one of the best, has only a few columnists worth reading. Ditto for The Montreal Gazette and Le Devoir. So far as such columns go, the The Moncton Times and Tribune performs at a decent level. That's something like being one of the more virtuous hookers in a brothel - but it's at least a step above The National Post.

I was dismayed, but not surprised, to see the T@T still beating the drum for a new hockey arena, (yes, it is really just a hockey arena no matter how much how they tart it up as a dozen other things.) The paper has still not produced a single article of informed criticism of the project.

We canot afford to fund our schools  well enough to maintain even the structures. We demand that the schools charge fees and waste time selling chocolate bars to meet basic requirements. We can't afford decent parks with equipment for children or with programmes for them. Our libraries are the worst funded n Canada. We talk of cutting health and social services.

But spend a hundred million (and more) on a hockey rink? Yeah, man. Basic need.

It's a scam let by politicians at all levels to suck up to the owner of a hockey team who wants us to pay for his place of business. And why not? New Burnswickers have  been lining up for generations like sheep waiting to be sheared by their masters.

Downtowns across North American began to die soon after 1945. The first shopping centre in Canada was Norgate, built in a suburb of Montreal in the late forties. It was built because the traditional downtwon could not accomodate a society that travelled by automobile. You can have cars. Or you can have a thriving downtown. You can't have both.

As well, "greater Moncton" as the T&T is fond of calling this largish town, has something over a 160,000 people. They will be going into debt for over a hundred million (some of it, admittely shared by Fredericton and Ottawa    to whom we also pay taxes). This is for an arena that will seat 9,000. If every game sells out,, it will take 160 games for each person in "greater Moncton" to see one game.
In fact, of course, most of the 160,000 who will pay a lifteime of taxes for this venture will probably never see the inside of it.

This is a scam. New Brunswickers are getting ripped off. Hockey is a big buness and, like big buinesses all over North America, it lives on social welfare from our taxes. To build a hockey arena for a professional hockey team is like promising to build and equip a factory for anybody who wants to set up a buisness in Moncton. (Actually, we have come close to that.) The T&T is being unethical and even dishonest in its reporting of  this story. Luckily, New Brunswickers don't seem to mind getting ripped off and being lied to.

For relief, I went back to the Saturday edition and the youth page. This time, I'll disagree with two of the columnists; but my disagreement has nothing to do with any lack of ethics on t heir part. I take the trouble to disagree with these two columns not becuse they are foolish but because they are intelligent and well-written, and worth discussing.

Jana Giles (who, I hope, will become a teacher and will, in any case, surely become a very valuable person in this world), discusses the case for bribing students with gifts or money for educational achievement.. Actually, I don't quite disagree with her because she ends by saying she is undecided about the merits of bribing. The only difference we have is that I am decided. Bribing does not work in education.

The children who know they will not win (most of the them) will simply give up rather than be humiliated. The result will be that they will be turned off by education, and actually turn in work that is far below their abilities. You can put these idiotic reading contests into that category - you know - who can read the most books in a month.

I read almost constantly because I had parents who read. Reading was natrual and enjoyable. Most of my friends seldom read. Most of them were, in fact, functionally illiterate. It had nothing to do with the schools or with contests. It had to do with our parents, and with the social environment we grew up in.

For the same reason, neither me nor any of my friends finished high school. We all flunked out. We weren't stupid. We were poor. We grew up in a social environment in which finishing high school wasn't even on our radar. Only rich kids (who, as I later learned, were not parrticularly smart) lived in an atnosphere in which finishing high school and going to university was accepted as normal. So they did it.

I have a related quibble wih Tess Allan who writes in favour of children with high grades being exempted from final exams. Again, it's based on personal experience.

I failed grade ten. The second time around, I was a top student. It was a piece of cake, so my grades shot u p to the A range. Alas, this encouraged me to continue a habit of skipping school to go through the local musuem, the art gallery, etc. (I always had a note, of course, in writing that looked like my mother's.)

By final exam time, I knew there was no way I could pass most of the exams. But my A record had made me exampt. So I was promoted to grade eleven - which I was hopelessly undready for. It was close to Easter when the principal called me down to his office.

"Let's fact it, Decarie. You have no brains at all. It's time to get a job."

Tess Allan refers to the exam free privilege as an incentive. It's really closer to what Jana Giles calls a bribe. It works, at best, for very, very few students. For most students, it has no effect or, most commonly, makes them write themselves off as failures - and so they actually become failures - because if incentives and bribes and competition.

Competition seems to work in business. But what it commonly leads to is financial success for the greedy and unscrupulous. Those who lack sufficient greed or who are too ethical end up as losers. That's why we have thousands living in poverty for each CEO in this country. That's the the US gave almost a trillion dollars to banks and financial houses whose greed and lack of ethics had just driven the world into recession while, at the same time, it compansated for this generosity by cutting almost two million destitute Americans from national aid. (The banks, meanwhile, flush with new money, gave $139 billion of it to senior execs, the same ones who had caused the recession,  as bonuses in addition to their high salaries.)

But I have a comforting word for ms. Allan. Don't worry about university exams. I wrote nine years of them with ease. The final three exams were each eight hours long, followed by a two hour oral exam. Nothing to it.

But I'm pretty sure I'd still flunk high school.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

June 9: addendum - a brief note.

Starting on Thursday June 10, there will be no blog for five or six days.

June 8: The Moncton Times&Transcipt: what a mess.

1. Page 1.  "Tories gain support: poll"  Well. that makes sense - until you read the poll.The New Brunswick Conservative government is actually down by 2% since the election. That's well within the margin of error, of course. But to call a loss of 2% a gain seems to indicate a lack of ability to count. (Or a lying headline.)
      The real gainer in the standings was the NDP, going from 8% to 20% based on gains from all other parties. It is now tied with the perennial alternative party, the Liberals. That would be remarkable under any circumstances, but particularly remarkable for a party consistently ignored by the T&T.
      "Tories gain support:poll" isn't news at all. It's spin. And a paticularly unethical example of it.

2. The big story is that the mayor of Moncton says :"Time is ripe for events centre". I'm not sure why that is a front page story. The mayor has been sayiing that for at least a year.The deal is really for a new hockey arena at $84 million, tarted up as a seniors' centre, museum, art gallery for a hundred million - and counting on borrowed money.

     Nowhere in this whole, goofy proposal is there an indication of how many  people really want this thing. Nowhere is their a mention of how much per year this will cost in taxes.
      Hockey is a business. Owners make money out of it. People who want to make money in business are supposed to pay their own bills.New Brunswick has a too long and too ugly history of being a welfare state for the rich. If the free market is such a wonderful thing (as we are told almost daily on the op ed page with its "think tank" studies), let the free marketeers of the hockey world pay for their own structures. If the owner of the hockey team believes in capitalism, let him use his capital to build a new rink. (and we'll pass on the idea of a   "Moncton Hall of Fame" and the "Tribute to the New 'Brunswick heritage:".
     How do you build a tribute to a heritage which consists largely of the rich sucking the rest of us dry?
     The rest of the first section is really a toruist brochure.

2. In the NewsToday section, he T&T still isn't telling us that, contrary to its UN mandate, NATO has boots on the ground in Libya. And it seems not to be aware that the US Congress is complaining that Obama has gone to war without congressional debate or approval. And that is illegal. Congress has also complained that it hasn't given any credible reason for going to war. Nor does it seem to be aware that Canadian democracy requires parliamentary approval for a war. Nor has there been an mention of exactly how many Canadians are flying over Libya, and what they are doing.

3. The business section still hasn't noticed how grim the American economy is - and how it's getting worse. However well we may be doing now, our ability to keep doing well depends on the strength of the US market. That might be something for our hockey fans and hotel keepers to bear in mind as we consider borrowing a nundred million (plus) for a rink.

4. The editorial is asinine, spin-doctoring and borderline lying.It returns to that front-page story about how the tories are gaining wupport  (when the figures when the figures show  it losing support, if only marginally.)

5. The regular staff-written columns on the op ed page are the regular trivia.. Eric Lewis has the flash that potholes are being fixed, and that he once saw Ozzy Osbourne on stage. obviously, Mr. Lewis has a keen eye for detail, and a sophisticated taste in music. Brian Cormier tells us he has a sore back.

6. All that saves the paper are two, excellent columns sitting beside and below those awful editorials.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June 7: Some good journalism - and a lot of zeroes.

The lead story in today's Moncton Times&Transcript was a solid choice, and heartening in the response it reported from local individuals and groups. An immigrant family from Korea has been ordered deported because medical treatment for the youngest child would be a drain on the Canadian economy. The story is well reported. Their is an editorial that only a scrooge would criticize and, if he did, would certainly get hell from all three ghosts. The same page also carries an excellent comment on the issue by Alec Bruce. Proof of local sympathy covers the whole of the letters to the editor page. This is exactly what a newspaper should do; and this edition does it well.

This story has no boosterism, no free ads, no propaganda, no hidden agenda. It is honest reporting and intelligent comment on a matter of concern to the whole community.
This is the stuff of what makes one proud of Moncton - if ashamed of Canada.

From there, things go off a cliff.

The business page has yet to notice that unemployment in the US is dipping to depression levels, with new jobs predominantly minimum wage and part-time. American capitalism, is in crises and, even in hard times, is making the richer richer and the poor poorer. That, surely, has some implications for us.

The NewsToday section sill hasn't noticed there's a war on in Libya, and we are in it. Nor has it noticed we are considering Canadian military bases all over the world, probably including Latin America. Gee. I wonder why.

The editorial page also carries the usual column by a far right "think tank". In this case, it's the Fraser Institute. But this one is different. It is at least true to its neo-conservative principles that the free market should be left alone to work its magic. ( Usually, "free" is twisted into a demand for special treatment for big business.)

This time, though, it is a criticism of special treament with its  headline "The Canadian automakers bailout was always a bad idea." It argues, quite reasonably, that bankruptcy is a part of the working of a free market. Accordingly, to prevent bankruptcy with a government bailout is wrong. That is certainly consistent and reasonable in the context of neo-conservative economic thinking.

Neo-conservatives believe that buisness should be left alone, as free as possible of taxes, of regulation, and of help as possible. Under such conditions it becomes a sort of magic wand to cure all social problems and to create universal  prosperity. Actually, that idea of perection closely resembles Marxism.

Both Marxism and neo-conservatism believe there is such a thing as a perfect system, and one which works in all situations. Alas, as we should have learned from Lenin and Stalin and Mao, there is no such thing as a perfect  system.

On this earth, systems are run by people. Just about every religion ever known has pointed out a problem we people have. We are all just human. The system may be perfect. But it there is only us people to operate it. And we are not perfect.

No system in history has ever worked perfectly, not even for a short time. All systems - capitalism, communism, socialism - have been and will forever be corrupted by human greed, exploitation, paranoia, fear, stupidity, sociopathy...and the list goes on. One can see that as clearly in the commentaries by The Fraser Institute as in the decisions of Stalin. Communism produced torture, police states, and mass murder. So has capitalism.

The USSR did not permit democracy. The United States has done the same thing by corrupting democracy. So much private money is poured into campaign funds that nobody who criticizes big business has a chance of being elected. (And Canada is already making moves to follow suit).

Stalin made the news media agents of the state by law. Most of our news media are agents of big business by ownership.

The USSR was ruled by an aristocracy of party officials. We are ruled by an aristocracy of wealth.

Add to that the reality that the needs of each country are different - and changing. No system, capitalism, communism, democracy, dictatorship, fits evey need and every time.  Equally, any of them might, however imperfect, be needed for some times and places.

We humans are a messy lot. With faith, you can find perfection and  even eternal truth in spiritual matters. But never waste faith or hopes for eternity on any political or economic system. Any one might have value for now. None will be perfect or eternal.

Bottom line - anybody who would say that communism, socialism, capitalism, liberalism, conservatism, democracy or dictatorship are good at all times and in all situations is either a liar or a damn fool.

Monday, June 6, 2011

June6; what isn't in The Moncton Times&Transcript

In an issue that is amazingly vacuous, even by T&T standards, only two news items are worth reading. Neither tof them says anything or even asks anything - but they could cause us to think.

1. The fracking for shale gas will go on - as it has for the past ten years - even though government still has no clue to what the dangers are, and has not in all these ten years tried to learn anything, or to get even a vague idea of what controls are needed.
Meanwhile, we have no idea what chemicals have been pumped into our soil or how much or what danger they might pose.

2.  Religious observance is in decline. That's not exzctly a stop press flash. Religious observance has been declining for decades. The results is that generations have grown up with no sense of what morality is. That's not just a goody-goody thing. Understanding of morality is essential to tohe survival of a society. Religion and morality is a practical business. Without it, we just don't survive.

We are now well down to the edge of catastrophe. Our wars have become more brutal than ever. Our \business leaders operate with a fixation on greed and power combined with a disregard for humanity that can reasonably be defined as sociopathic.

They are now, in Canada and the US, engaged in a drive to create government by an aristocracy - them. Democracy really no longer exists in the US. Canada is rapidly losing what democracy it has - and New Brunswick is sinking the fastest of all.

Once the process is complete, our short sighted and overygreedy business leaders will destroy our econoomy just as their American brethren destroyed the US economy.

Part of the reason for the decline is the churches, themselves. New Brunswick Baptists are too busy poking the bushes for gays to notice what's going on in the world. Others are just interested in the world ending soon so they can go to heaven, and get a giggle out of looking down on all the sinners being stung by scorpions.

Generally, the churches have failed to use the principles of the teaching of Jesus to help us understand what disasters we are creating.

But give credit where credit is due. The T&T got one thing right. Actor Harvey Feirstien is 57.

There were a few news items the T&T missed.

1. They still haven't noticed the presence of western troops on the gournd in Libya.
2. They still haven't noticed that the US Congress has complained it has been given no valid reason for the war in Libya. Gee. We  have  Canadians killing and  risking being killed in Libya. Do you know any valid reason why?
3. Israel has killed dozens of unarmed Palestinians who were demonstrating at the border.
4. They still have mentioned that greedy business in the form of Goldnad Sachs has been been cited for questioning with regard to its role in causing the recession. A recent congressional repport suggests it acted criminally is setting off the crisis.
5. The T&T hasn't found it worth mentioning that our Minister of Defence is considering permanent Canadian military bases around the world for quick intervention. Gee. I wonder whose wars they would be fighting. Tell your children not to waste their rime training for a career.

Happy birthday, Harvey Feinstein.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

June 4: How to seem to server two masters at that same time.

Today's Moncton Times&Transcript at last runs a major story on the practice of fracking to get the shale gas that lies under New Brunswick. This is a practice that is forbidden in some places, and controversial in others. It has been going on in New Brunswick for ten years. It has received attention in the T&T only in the last couple of weeks. Isn't that strange for a practice that has given rise to controversy in both North American and Europe?

No, it's not strange. The Moncton Times and its partners in the province all exist to serve their owners and the interests of large corproations in general. 

So why didn't the Liberal and Conservatives mention it in the recent provincial election? After all, if there is recoverable gas under this province, it would be a huge boost to the economy. As well, both parties seemed seriously short of anything intelligent to say in the campaign. One would think they would jump like spawning salmon for anything to feed on.  They didn't. Both parties, like The Times, exist to serve the same masters.


Fracking is now being covered because New Brunswickers, normally as passive as salmon at the end of spawning, have been sending up smoke signals of protest about what's going on. So we can now expect The Times, the Liberals and the Conservatives to spread their own smoke to hide the signals.

In this light, or lack of it, note the column by Brent Mazerolle on the op ed page. He discusses the issue of fracking, mentioning that he became aware of it years ago when he was working amid such operations in BC.

He was aware of the issue years ago? And he hasn't thought of mentioning it in any of the ten years it's been going on here? Apparently, he's also been a teacher. But it also never occured to him to say anything during The Times' vicious and ignorant campaign against the public schools.

 The report begins with a tired and silly old statement - that when two sides disagree, the truth must be in the middle. So, if one side says it's wrong to be durnk all the time, and the other side says it's not, then the truth must be that it's good to be half-corked all the time. I'll buy that.

So, to get at the truth, the paper consulted two scientists in this region. (Curiously, during their attacks on public education, they didn't consult any educators at all.)

As it turns out, both sides are in favour of fracking. so there wasn't much middle to search for. Quelle surprise! That means geologists in the Atlantic region must be a lot smarter than geologists in Quebec and France - whetre they have advised moritoriums pending further study.

The only study they refer to is the Duke University study. But scientists in general agree that the Duke study tells us little. Is that the only study of its type? And we're going ahead on the basis of one study and nobody knows what it means?

The attitude of both scientists is summed up in a head at the bottom of page D7. "Fracking should be namageable if regulations and codes are followed."

1. We live in a province which has not bothered much with regulations and codes on this issue for ten years.
2. No new Brunswick government is likely to impose codes and regulations its master don't like.
3. There have been serious problems, despite codes and regulations, caused by drilling for oil (spillage by tankers, including an oil barge belonging to a noted New Brunwicker in the oil business; the BP disaster in the Caribbean; the environmental mess that Alberta is.)

Both people in this special report say the riskes "should" be manageable. So we should go ahead.

Geologists are not experts in determining whether risks are acceptable or even "should be" acceptable. That is quite outside their field of training. The scientists who developed nuclear weapons had no qualification to decide whether that was a good idea. Nor would any sane person ask scientists when and where it is "acceptable" to use a nuclear weapon.

To use scientists as  sources, one has to bear several points in mind.
1. Scientists do not have full knowledge, even of their own specialties. You would not go back  to get the opinion of a scientist of 1900 on a current problem -  because a scientist of today would have far more information. Ditto for the scientist of tomorrow. There is nothing definite and final about scientific opinion.
2. Seeking advice in a controversy from two scientists who are, essentially, on the same side is not a very intelligent thing to do.
3. The available research seems pretty slim and vague for anyone to develop firm conclusions.
4. Scientists are no more equppied than we are to make judgements about when risks become acceptable. Nobody is. That judgement is one that we have to make for ourselves after intense discussion.  That's life. Few decisions we ever make, from marriage to the election of a leader, can be made with certainty and confidence. (For evidence of the latter, think back to the Peace Prize for Obama.)

So, what is the T&T doing here? Is it looking to spark debate and informed discussion?

Not a chance. This is the old times we know so well, putting up a smokescreen for the boss and his friends.

Two other points for the day.

I have known Gwynn  Dyer, have liked him, and have admired his kinowledge and insights for the  whole of both of our careers. His column of today on war crimes trials is terrible. The trial of Mladvic does not mean we are beginning to enforce international law. First, Maldvic is an East European and, secondly, he is a loser. We have enforced international law against such people for over sixty years.

Who we have never enforced it against, despite well-known cases of torture, illegal imprisonment, mass murder, genocide, mistreatment of child soldiers, theft, etc., is anybody on our side. In an exception, Lieutenant Calley of the US army deliberately murdered over a hundred innocent people, including babies. He served one month in jail. George Bush I suprevised the slaughter of 200,000 Guatemalans. It never even made the news.

Save the student commentaries in the Whatever section for the last. It's cheering to see that there are better journalists coming along. And you'll need all the cheering you can get after reading the rest of the paper.

Friday, June 3, 2011

June 3: The day of nothing.

Author Maurice Sendak is 83 today.

There.

Now there is now no reason whatever to read The Moncton Times and Transcript for today.

NATO ground troops in Liibya did't make the news - again.

There is no mention that Obama requires congressional approval to continue the war - and, according to the consitution, he's very late in getting it. Congress is restive. So - it seems possible  he may not get the approval. But not to worry. Monctonians have been alerted (on page 1) that cigarettes can cause fires.

There is a long story about the chaos in Lebanon, t hough still without a hint of what it's about.

Norbert Cunningham has an unintentioinally amusing column on what an independent dynamo Premier Alward is. This is the man whose major platform plank was that he would listen to people. (We could have skipped the election, and bought a CD recorder for a fraction of the cost.)

When corporate leaders visisted his office (Have you been invited to visist his office?) to tell him they were going to plan the province's economic future, Premier Halward did not tell them that planning the economy was a function of the elected government - so they should take a hike.

No, he meekly accepted an ordinary membership on the corporate committee where he will, no doubt, do the listening he does so well.

There is an interesting commentary on the op ed page by Tervor Holder, minister ofWellness, Culture and Sport and Tourism and Parks.

The interesting part is not the commentary itself. The interesting part is that there is such a thing as a minister of Wellness, Culture and Sport and Tourism and Parks. I suppose he would deal with everyday matters - like an opear singer who is overweight, and wants to diet and to play soccer  while camping in parks and taking in the toruist sites.

Oh, and Prince Phillip is 90. If you hurry, maybe you can still send him a gift card for dinner at his favourite Moncton restaurant.