Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June 13:A new low - with not a single bright spot

There's a curious story on p. 1. "SPCA lifted by casino donation." Now, speaking for all the lost dogs and cats of Moncton, I thank the casino. But front page? And it's a long story, running to almost half a page in all. Now, such donations are daily news, with photos, in The Moncton Times and Transcript. You know, two to ten strangers, smiling inanely and holding up a giant-sized cheque. But this is usually inside page stuff. And the casino donation is not an unusually large one. So what gives?

It is certainly possible that the front page editor was sloppy and lazy and had no idea what a front page should be. The rest of the front page would certainly support that thesis. But not everything the TandT does can be blamed on incompetence. And there is another possiblity.

Maybe the casino paid for that story to appear on the front page. That would be sinking pretty low for a nerspaper.  But the Irving Press is normally as low as a fracking well. It's quite possible, even likely that the TandT got paid to make that a front page story.

That's pretty well it for Section A, unless you want to be a cheerleader for the Moncton Miracles. They're looking for dancers with talent, personality, commitment and love of community. So I guess it doesn't matter if they're ugly. Count on me for the tryouts.

NewsToday has close to nothing. There's a story on the Commons debate that tells us nothing, another on bad tempers in the NB legislature (who cares?) There's a story that Syria is in a civil war -as if we haven't known that for months - and some restaurant in Vancouber is offering pizzas at $450 each. Nice to know that we all, rich and poor,  are sharing the pain of the recession.

Speaking of the Syrian war, the Reuters report is a warning that Russia may be supplying attack helicopters to the Syrian government. Quite possibly so. There's no mention that the west and Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have been supplying weapons and money and mercenaries to the "rebels" since the start of the war. In fact, without those, there wouldnt' be a war. But Reuters always likes to keep it simple. And that reminds me....

I often enough have said that war correspondents are liars and never to be trusted. They rarely mention that US soldiers are committing suicide at the highest rate in American history - one a day. Canadian reporters don't even mention such things. Nor do they mention the rate of broken homes, shattered minds, and homelessness - or how Canada has been cutting the very limited help it gives them.

Instead of  remembering the tragedies of war and what we really owe to those who had to fight, we glamorize it with 'highways to heroes', hypocritic speeches on Nov. 11, and a  festive 'celebration' of the War of 1812. Lots of flags. Lots of pictures of the Queen. Of course, there's a reason for that.

Canadian society has to be militarized, as American society already is. Police forces in the US are already being equipped and trained to fight their next enemy - the American people. Within months, in the great American democracy, the army will have the right to imprison and to torture American citizens with no charge, no trial. (You sure it's not important to study Harper's omnibus bill very carefully?)

There is, in Ottawa, a handsome monument to those who served as peacekeepers. We were once openly proud of them. Such a monument today would be unthinkable. Peacekeeping is sneered at by generals who want lots of new, shiny weapons. When was the last time you heard a politician praising peacekeeping? No. That's out. War is now officially glamorous and ballsy. That 's because the big plan now is to fight lots of wars, lots, as part of the NATO wing of the US military.

Of course, the war correspondents don't mention that. And that sort of lying by omission has been the stock in trade of journalists for over a century. Want to see a story that never made the papers?  Look for a magazine, the June issue. of Literary Review of Canada (LRC)., p. 9, "Buried Atrocities".

Sixty Canadian soldiers in the Korean War were charged and convicted of multiple rapes and killings of civilians. There's nothing unusual about that. The number of Canadians (and Americans and French and British, and Turk, and South Koreans, and North Koreans) who were guilty of rape and murder in that war - as in any war)  was many, many times those who got charged.

These sixty Canadians were the ones who were found guilty, receiving anywhere from two years to life. All were immediately returned to Canada - and promptly released from prison.

The same has been true in every army that ever existed. Lt. William Calley was convicted of murdering 120 civilians, including babies in Vietnam. (The real number was closer to 800). He spent one night in jail.

In World War I, Canadians were notorious (among their allies) for beating, torturing and murdering prisoners.

In all cases, any war correspondent who mentioned any of this was subject to punishment. No wonder they lie.

None of this is to criticize anybody in our mlitary, including the murderers and rapists. This is what war is about. This is what it does to people. It's not glamorous. It's not ennobling. But we have to be made to think it is.  We have to be made to think our soldiers in Afghanistan (and, perhaps) in Syria and Iran and Pakistan and all over Africa die to protect our freedom and independence.

Damn right. You never know when those Syrians might invade Canada.

The op ed page has the usual personal, irrelevant and boring stories, this time by Eric Lewis and Brian Cormier, from the bottomless pit of the TandT's personal, irrelevant and boring writers.

Then, there's Alec Bruce. I think he's entirely wrong, shockingly wrong. (maybe even schlockingly wrong -  if you know any Yiddish.)

The omnibus bill is anti-democratic because most Canadians have very little idea of what is in it. We have no opportunity to read it, discuss it, or to hear varying opinions. The omnibus bill was created to deny us that basic right of any democracy. And it is not possible in the time allotted for even the best prepared mps to discuss the meanings of this bill.

To day that such  a huge budget bill is okay becaause all issues involve money is nonsense. If that were true, then we would need only one, huge bill per year; then everybody could go home after a month.

It any case, it is not clear to me why harmonizing our border rules with the US is essentially a budget matter. It has to do with basic rights of all Canadians; and the police state behaviour of American border control does not seem to be to be compatible with any notion of freedom and democracy I have very heard of.

What does allowing more pollution from oil have to do with the budget? Abandoning large areas of fisheries protection? Cracking down on EI abusers? Hell, all the EI abusers in New Brunswick are pipsqueaks compared to the corporate gangsters who run this province.

Then there's the whole basic philosophy of this budget. The recession was not caused by welfare recipients - not here, not in Greece, not in Spain, not in Britain, not in Italy. It was caused by irresponsible and sometimes criminal bankers and corporate leaders.

The rest of us had to borrow mountains of money to bail them out - so they could then give each other multi-million dollar bonusses as rewards for their Christian endeavours.

It was also caused by economic policies over the last thirty years which have encouraged national profits to go into the pockets of the rich at a mad rate of escalation for each year - which has meant decreasing prosperity for the rest of us.

At the same time, we have signed free trade agreements to let the rich exploit cheap labour in other countries, thus reducing the number of jobs here.

That's what caused a recession, and one which we haven't even begun to suffer. (Well,  I guess we could add to that the massive cost of wars to help oil billionaires become trillionaires, and the stunning levels of corruption in the defence industries.)

So now we're all supposed fall in line as billionaires run through the streets accusing the poor and elderly of causing all the problems. And that answer of the western countries?

We have too many unemployed? Too much money is going to the rich?

Duh, says Parker. Fire more people. Cut taxes to the rich so they keep even more. And get after those welfare bums. If there weren't lazy, they'be be rich like me and Mr. Irving and all our friends.

Firing people and cutting budgets has never worked to cure a recession. What it has done is to make things worse - including worsening damage to the environment, to people's health, and to their lives.

No, Alec. I really would like a little more time to learn about this omnibus bill and to think about it.



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