Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23: Why?

There is little to  comment on in today's Moncton Times and Transcript. There is a letter from a supporter of Crandall University and its anti-gay policy (for which it receives public funding). The writer generously concedes that gays have a legal right to be gay - but they should not appear to be gay when in public. It's an interesting point - and I share that attitude on a related topic.

"Christian" bigots who have only a highly selective knowledge of Christian teaching have a legal right to be bigoted. But they should not appear to be bigots when in public.

There's really not much else in Section One. There is a small and blurry photo of Scottish pipers wearing kilts with, I think, the tartan of the 78th Fraser Highlanders. I'm half Scots. Highlands.I like kilts. I have one, along with a Bonnie Prince Charlie jacket and a skean dhu- but our Scottish ancestors never wore any of that.

They were, until the seventeenth century,  a pretty wild and primitive lot. And they wore the clothing of a wild and primitive people - a sort of very long long shirt or even dress, with a belt around the waist, a bit like the disciples. The kilt was a nineteenth century invention - probably by an Englishman.

Sports has a story by Reuters. It's the only badly reported story in Sports. It's about the Oympics in London, and how things are coming along fine.It seems to be based entirely on an interview with the man in charge of organizing the Olympics - and he says everything is fine. Nobody else does.  In fact, the key area of security is a disaster and a major scandal throughout Britain as the private company which contracted to private security admiited, just a couple of weeks before the opening of the games that it cannot do it. But it still insists on being paid $200.000,000 by the taxpayers. The Reuters report mentions this itty-bitty problem - but quickly dismisses it.

Reuters also has its usual news on Syria - that is, all its information comes from the "rebels". And it happily takes their word, and print all they say. It seems not to have occured to Reuters reporters to ask where all the rebels and their troops are coming from. In fact, many are mercenaries and Islamic Jihadists who are being trained, paid, supplied - and "advised" - by Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, the US, Turkey, and Britain. And it's all to bring democracy to Syria. Right. The kings of Saudi Arabia have always been very big on democracy.

Incidentally, Saudi Arabia is probably the most severe dictatorship in the world. It is a also the richest country per capita in the world. And sixty percent of its people live below the poverty line. Three cheers for our side.

The president of Syria is not a lovely man. But he is not the cause of that terrible civil war. We are. And because we are, that whole region is in for years of instability (a nice word word for killing and starvation.) In the same way, the west financed and provoked the rebellion in Libya. It was for control of the oil. The result has been massive killing, rape, theft, illegal imprisonment, severe persecution of Black Libyans, large scale torture which is still going on. Yes. People voted for the new government. But nobody pays the slightest attention to it.

The chaos and suffering in Africa is the product of our century and more of interference, slavery, mass murder, torture, theft. It's not because Africans are backward or evil or sub-human. It's because we are.

Excellent columns by Alec Bruce and Norbert Cunningham. Norbert's is even a bit daring since it is about the waste of government subsidies for private businesses that should be paying their own way. That's a daring statement for a person working for a paper owned by a person who has not been unknown to receive government handouts.

That's really it for the paper. - so let's talk about a "why" or two.

Not long ago, we heard of the resignation of the District Two (or whatever it's called now) Superintendent of Education. But we didn't hear why. That's odd. Even if she had been on the job only a short time, and had done nothing in particular, there is normally a reason why. In this case, she was an exceptionally capable person, and seems to have done a fine job.

So why has she gone? Isn't there a single reporter at the TandT who knows how to ask why?

Then the new superintendent gets a long and prominent introduction in the TandT by, as I recall it, Brent Mazerolle. He's the man they turn to whenever they want a a long story that says nothing. In this case, predictably, we get not the slightest hint of why the new principal was chosen. The only clear reason given is that he used to be an electrician, so he could make sure all the lights were working. (Haw haw, poke poke. giggle giggle).

It's hinted that big changes are coming. Okay. What are they? These are, after all, our schools and our children. And who proposed these big changes? The department of education? The politicians? Not likely. Not in this province.

If any major changes were proposed, the proposal came from the usual source - the corporations who, in this case, are very eager to privatize the schools as much as possible - the sort of change that has been a boost to private profits---but which has been an educational disaaster wherever it was tried.

But nobody at the TandT asked why. So let's try a guess.
1. The big boss demanded further privatization of the schools. ( The big boss, though not an expert on education, is an expert on geting more of our money into his pocket.)
2. Premier Allward rose to as tall as he could while staying on his knees, and said, "Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full."
3. The superintendent objected to the changes as being harmful to the children.
4. She was then offered a handsome severance package - but only if she would go away, and say nothing in public.
5.A new super was chosen because he was willing to go along with the changes (and could fix the lights.)

Then there's the move for Moncton High School. Now, I'm not a sentimenatlist demanding that MHS stay where and as it is. But I really do think citizens in a free society have the right to know why a school is being moved so far away - particularly when it involves such extra cost.

And, by the way, where was our elected District Education Council in all this?

It reminds me of the time, several years ago, when the Tand T ran scandalously ignorant and abusive (and wrong) editorials about our schools - and the Home and School and the Parents' associations just stood around with their faces hanging out.

Good luck, all you kids in New Brunswick. You're going to need it in a province in which neither the government nor the newspapers nor the parents' groups give a damn.

Then there's the question of pollution in the soil under Highfield Square - you know, where the new hockey rink is going to be? I am still getting no answer from City Hall on what the pullutants are,  how bad they are, or how much it will cost to remove them. Nor have my Ward Two councillors, Henderson and Leger, even acknowledged my requests. But that's our democracy. We have the right to be ignored in both official languages.

By the way, there's a supermarket sitting on top of that soil. Is that dangerous? I have no idea. And, obviously, I am not going to find out.

Oh. There is a big story on BBC. But the TandT doesn't listen to the BBC. Just to Reuters. Anyway -

The story is - well - let's start with a bit of background....

Millions are starving to death all over the world. Europe is being driven into chaos and poverty. Conditions in the US are far wose than we are being told. (Once prosperous industrial cities are crawling with the unemployed and the underpaid, with whole blocks abandoned, with tent cities. Scranton, the city of a populat TV show called The Office, looks like a battle zone. In Camden, New Jersey, there are at least twenty open air and public drug markets. Government funds to feed hungry children have been cut back to leave more money for building weapons without raising taxes on the very rich.)

According the the BBC, the very, very rich of this world (like the ones New Brunswick helps out with the business grants Norbert refers to in his column) are estimated to have $21 trillion dollars (yes, that's trillion) locked safely away in tax havens.

And 21 tillion is the lowest estimate I have seen. Others range to 35 trillion and more. But not in the Moncton Times and Transcript.

Church-going "Christians" who eagerly await the return of Jesus might wonder what He will point to as the greatest sin of this world . Being gay? Or condemning billions of people to misery, sickness and starvation while a few sit on more money than they could ever hope to spend - and still want more.

At that thought, I remember a picture I shall try to find. It appeared in the old, Life magazine about fifty years ago. It was a city in China. A very fat woman was seated on a chair on the sidewalk, surrounded by bushels of rice she was selling.

Just beyond her feet was a child lying in the gutter. He was lying at the edge of death from starvation.

And, no, it doesn't happen just in foreign countries.


  1. A press release, rather than a news item, you might be interested in:

    don't think on this too long and hard

  2. I delayed in publishing the above because I couldn't open the attachment. (and I worry about what I might be publishing).
    But I decided to take the risk - and somebody might have more computer savvy than I do.
    I just hope it's not a photo of me in a compromising position with a jellyfish.