Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30: It seemed to begin well....

(Oh, Oh, Oh...don't forget. Tuesday, May 1, current events at the Moncton Library from  7 to 8 P.M. we'll start with why coroporations love politicians, but hate civil servants. Then, we'll go wherever you like.)  now - to go back to "It seemed to go well")

Headline. Page 1. "Moncton's Ward Two poised for tight race". At last. We're going to see some discussion of issues in the civic election so we can know what we're voting last....
well..... not actually....

We learn that a Mr. Henderson has had all sorts of titles and served on all sorts of committees.We learn he got lots of votes last time. And the big issue? The only one he's going to make a promise on? He's going to work very, very hard. Great. But we could adopt a sled dog to do that.

Most of the statements are long on titles, commitees, and promises to do 'good things'.  That's nice. I would never want to vote for someone who says he promises to do bad thngs.

I live in Ward Two. I've made my choice for a candidate because I know him to be honest and intelligent. But there's nothing in this long report that would convince me to vote for any of them. Notably, the word future does not appear. What sort of a world is Moncton going to be living in? Shouldn't we be thinking about that so we plan for it?

The word automobile did not appear - though the future of the automobile is a concern in almost every major city in the world. (There's also a big story on the debate between mayoral candidates in Riverview - who also said nothing and anything, including the automobile.) In particular, nobody mentioned what effect the price of gas is likely to have on Riverview, a prime example of the urban sprawl and reliance on the automobile that was all the rage fifty years ago. I wish Riverview luck in building a youth centre. I'm sure it will do the children good to walk there on a winter night.

The election stories are pretty useless - and that's only partly the fault of the candidates. It's also the fault of a reporter who obviously didn't ask any questions. Staff at The Moncton Times and Transcript seem to be uniinformed on the stories they cover,and  unchallenging. In fact, they aren't reporters at all. They're stenographers.

The second editorial is a good example of an editorial writer foaming at the mouth over a subject he or she knows nothing about. Headed "Cancer study badly flawed" it criticizes a report written by any emininent environmentalist who says that environmental factors (like oil refinery fumes?) are major factors in causing cancer. In fact, the TandT has never published enough on this story so we can know even what it is  the editor is fuming about. As well, the editor is not an eminent figure in either medicine or the environment. This editorial has no more merit than a donkey bray.

Norbert is....well...he's Norbert. This time he's raging about Omar Khan.  Khan is a Canadian citizen - just as much as Nrobert is. He was raised in a family that was pro Moslem and anti-American. (just as there are millions of children raised in families that are pro-American and anti-Moslem.)

At the age of fifteen, he was in a village that was suddenly attacked by American troops.What happened next is unclear. We know he was arrested, and charged with throwing a grenade that killed an American. We are not sure which sharp-eyed observer in the middle of a battle noticed that. We also know that when arrested, he was down with a bullet in his back.

It is illegal to treat a child as a soldier. An international court is almost certain to hang a man for exactly that reason. (Of course, he's not an American.) It was illegal to imprison a chld as if he were a soldier. It is illegal to torture a child - or anybody else. It is illegal to try a person for a 'war crime' committed while a child. It is illegal to use information obrained by torture in a court of law.

None of these illegalities bothers Norbert.

(Incidentally, if you were a fifteen year old in a village suddenly hit by an attack by a foreign army, guns blazing, killing anybody in sight and with a record of high civilian casualties, what would you do? I know what Norbert would do. He would run toward them, hands up and shouting," don't shoot, I'm....."; and then he'd fall dead from the fire of twenty machine guns.)

Every western democracy that had nationals who had been captured by American troops demanded that they be released and returned to their countries of citizenship for treatment and/or trial. Evey one of them. Except Canada. We. alone, allowed a 15 year old citizen to be imprisoned, tortured for years, and then illegally tried. We, alone, washed our hands of any principles of rights and freedoms and of interntaional treaties that we had signed.

Norbert -  in a free and democratic society, people have rights. People like you don't believe in that. That's why freedom and democracy are dying in both Canada the the US. Your whole, bigoted rant demonstrates that. And to add insult to insult, you misuse a quotation from Jawaharlal Nehru, a man who would have held your ideas in comtempt.

Incidentally, how about runniing a big story on war crimes committed by American troops? There's the use of cluster bombs on which you carry an execellent report on p. C1. Then there's the lieutenant in Vietnam comvicted of deliberately murdering 120 men, women and children. There's the soldier in Iraq who murdered a whole family, except for the thirteen year old daughter. He raped her. Then he killed her. There's the seargent in Afghanistan who murdered some thirty women. There are hundreds of cases like that. And there were those who died under torture that was illegal under both international law and US law. There are the uncounted numbers of civilians of all ages who have been killed by illegal drone attacks.

There were, as well as I remember, only two charges laid in all these cases. And the worst penalty was one night in jail.  Does that make you angry, Norbert? Of course not. That thirteen year old girl probably enjoyed watching her family get killed, and the getting raped and killed herself.

There are good parts to the paper. Alec Bruce has a aharp column on Harper and his accusation that the NDP refused to approve of the declaration of war in 1939. In fact, there are a couple of angles to that story that most of the press has missed.

No party voted against war in 1939. It was just one man - J.S. Woodworth of the CCF. And if that's to be taken as a sign of sympathy for Hitler, then think of this. Both Republicans and Democrats refused even to consider war. Even after the attack on Pearl Harbour, they did not delcare war on Germany. It was Germany, almost a month after Pearl Harbour, that declared war on the US. Wow! Talk about being pro-Hitler.

Mark Abley has a column that has no answers. But it is thought provoking about the questions we should be asking.

There is a superb letter to the editor "cartoon unfair to welfare recipients". This was the cartoon of last week that portrayed welfare as ignorant layabouts..

It's common to think that poverty is the result of ignorance and irresponsibility. It's not. I've known many a person in poverty who was intelligent and responsible. And I've know more than a few millionaires who were stupid and irresponsible  (but who believe they're smart enough to tell government what to do.).

I grew up in a district that was then one of the poorest in Canada. Most of my friends stayed poor. They weren't stupid. They weren't lazy. They were simply born into a society in which it never occured to them that they could be anything but poor. Later, I met rich kids with no particular brains or energy at all. But they all went to university and made good money. Of course. They grew up in a different world, one where doing well was expected as quite natural.

African-Americans h ave a high rate of poverty. They aren't more stupid that white Americans. They are growing up in a world that still has not shaken off the effects of all the years of slavery and persecution and bigotry. Much the same can be said of native peoples. And, if you're prepared to be really brave, there is a good deal in the history of this province to explain its rates of poverty.

Meanwhile, if de Adder wants to draw cartoons about welfare recipients, let him draw ones about the biggest welfare recipients in the province, the ones with names like Irving, Ganong, and McCain.

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