Friday, August 31, 2012

August 31: Wow! A whole page of pictures, story...

...about a house being moved. I really needed to know that. It gives me a much clearer idea of what the issues are in New Brunswick, and in the world.

Of course, it might be better to know a little bit about the Bruce Springsteen show. Oh, I know he sweats and the the hill rocked, and the whole world is talking about Moncton. But...

The general idea was to bring money into Moncton. wasn't it?

I know there were 30 some thousand in attendance. But how many of those were people from the Moncton region who would have been spending their money here, anyway? How many were people from far enough away to take hotel rooms? And, when they did, how much did they spend? And, remembering that our larger hotels are parts of chains, how much of that money actually stayed in Moncton?

That's kind of important because the show cost Moncton rate-payers a good deal of money. (How much, by     the way?)

Moncton journalists and politicians are big on sweeping phrases - revive main street, borrow money, pay for itself, a new world on the horizon - but not terribly clear when it comes to real figures. Bottom line. What did that show cost? How much NEW money did it actually bring to town? How much of that money actually stayed here?

Save the pictures of house movers for a really, really slow day.

Section A also has the story about the impending loss of rail service from Moncton to North Shore. Geegollywhiz! Did that come a surprise to our provincial government, our city council and all their sharp planners?

It looks as though it did. It also looks as though it caught the Times and Transcript by surprise - though there is surely no reason why it should have. This province and this city and BrunswickNews seem to have no sense at all of the tremendous problems we face in mass transportation.

Lots of great pictures of houses being moved, though. And that pretty well covers Section A.

In NewsToday, the Reuters report on Iran nuclear development is pure propaganda. worded to give the impression of an illegal development of weapons. Yes, Iran has doubled its nuclear capacity. But that has nothing to do with anything. It's the level of enrichment that counts, not the capacity.

All the evidence that has ever been produced shows Iran is enriching to a degree necessary to produce nuclear energy and medical supplies. That is perfectly legal under UN regulations.

And, yes, Iran is  burying its nuclear facilities way below ground. Considering that Netanyahu, with British and US encouragement, is almost daily threatening to bomb them, burying them seems a pretty sensible idea.

Reuters also uses very limited information in reporting that France and Britain may intervene in Syria "for humanitarian reasons". It doesn't mention they could reduce the suffering immediately by cutting off supplies to the rebels.

No. I don' think Assad is a nice person. Neither are the rebels. And nobody on either side gives a damn about humanitarian reasons or democracy. The name of the game is to break Syria up into an assortment of weak and ineffectual states; then to do the same to Lebanon and Iraq, thus isolating Iran.

The risk? General chaos in the Middle East - even World War Three. But, hey, aren't those great pictures of houses being moved in Moncton?

The editorial is the usual ignorance of the topic (the concept of the enclosed shopping mall, for example, was not new in 1969), and there's lots of uninformed pimping for a new hockey rink.

An events centre will almost certainly not revitalize main street. Nor is it likely to attract anywhere near enough tourism to justify its expense. And that would be true even if world economies were not collapsing. As many cities have learned, the only thing that will develop downtown is one superbly reliable and convenient mass transit system. But there is no sign that city hall planners have even thought of that - or that the editorial writer even knows what it means. On the contrary, Moncton must be the only city in the world that is trying to develop its downtown by attracting more cars.

Norbert is back to  suffering a bout of editorial dementia, talking wildly about some things he has some idea of  - and many he has no understanding of whatever. The first half of the column makes some sense about the vapidity of statements by opposition leader Victor Boudreau - but then goes off on a rant that there really is no such thing as job creation, etc.

Then, he abruptly shifts to some vague rambling about wars changing nations. Well, duh, yeah, they do. But didn't you have some point to make, Norbert?

Victor Boudreau, for the Liberal Party, contributes an opinion column. (Presumably, the one that has Norbert's knickers in a twist.)  It's the to-be-expected "Conservatives are dirty, stinky, no good rats" serenade. True enough, I suppose. But there is no evidence in this column that  the Liberals are any different. (Surprisingly, perhaps suspiciously, Boudreau makes no mention of the issues of shale gas or the strange silence on MHS).

The strength of today's paper is Letters to the Editor. Agree or disagree, they all raise important points, and discuss them intelligently.

A reminder that I shall be at the current events meeting at Moncton Library on Tuesday, September 4 at 7 pm.  And, as I threatened, I shall be discussing language in New Brunswick, and the dangers of thinking with our emotions rather than our brains.

As an example of what can go wrong when we think with our emotions, take a look at the comment that was sent in for yesterday's blog (August 30).

In this, as in most issues, it's not enough to gather information. In the first place, we never have full information about anything. In the second place, most information we get consists of propaganda and outright lies. The important thing is start with a realistic understanding of how how people and nations behave.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

August 30: mostly about what isn't in the TandT and won't be.

On Tuesday, September 4, from 7 to 8 pm, the Current Events group will meet at Moncton Library. This time, I have decided to enter the lions' den. I will be talking about languages in New Brunswick.

I had a good deal of experience in this. I was, for at least a dozen years, on the provincial executive of the English rights group in Quebec, Alliance Quebec. But that does not indicate my sympathies in New Brunswick. I was an English-speaking Quebecker ---AND I was a member of a linguistic minority. So I know a good deal of what it means to be a member of a linguistic minority.

As a result, my sympathies in New Brunswick are with bilingualism - and with the minority. I find myself largely in agreement with Norbert Cunningham's views in today's Moncton Times and Transcript. But I do have some problems with the situation.

The language of the debate among Acadians seems to draw heavily from the francophone press in Quebec. That's dangerous to Acadians for two reasons. The first is the use of the word culture. Almost nobody knows what that word means. Nobody, French, English, Sudanese or Turkish, has ever defined the "culture" of his or her society. And there is no such thing as preserving a culture.

This is not a small point. Culture is a word that rouses strong emotions; and when you arouse strong emotions over a word nobody understands, you create passions and hatreds - and passions and hatreds are bad for logic and problem-solving. By focusing on language and culture, Quebec has made itself into a basket case, with fifty years that should have been spent planning for realities wasted in hatreds and words that nobody understands. That's why it finds itself today with the PQ running on pure hatred, with the Liberals, as usual, following suit in a weaker way, and with other parties that make no sense at all any issue.

The other point is that New Brunswick is not Quebec. Even if the babble about culture made sense in Quebec, it would make none in New Brunswick. New Brunswick is a very different place from Quebec. To copy Quebec objectives, never a good idea in the first place, would be harmful for Acadians.

Finally, New Brunswick desperately needs to plan for the future, a planning that goes far beyond the juvenile efforts of our provincial and municipal governments. We can't afford to throw away the time we have left (if, indeed, we do have time).

Generally, New Brunswickers are dealing well with bilingualism better than any province in Canada. There is more to be done. But we won't get it done by pretending this is Quebec.

What can I say about The Moncton Times and Transcript for  today?

There is an amusing headline on p. C13. "Ryan promises to lead America back". True enough. But America is already so far back, it won't be a bit trip.

There's a trivial editorial in which the editorial writer who has, in the past, posed as an expert on events centres, shale gas, and bus drivers' salaries, now offer sage advice on what to do with an old fire station.

Norbert's column is decent - better than decent. Alec Bruce's is an important one. Harper is leading us in to very serious and unfixable trouble with the free hand he's giving to the oil industry. There will be one hell of a price to pay tomorrow. (I see Harper as the heroine in that final shot in Gone with the Wind when, looking more that usually dippy, she flashes an insane grin, and says, "Tomorrow is another day.")

Rod Allen gives us yet another story about life in his family. Seriously, who could possibly give a damn?

And, oh, I have to quarrel with Jody Dallaire. I don't believe we should lower the voting age to 16. All qualms about age aside, I think we have far more serious problems to deal with in our democratic structure.

There's a good letter from Joyce Carter in Letters to the Editor. It's about how Harper, the man who preaches his patriotism by putting pictures of the Queen on every bare wall in the country, and solemnly reminds us of what we owe our veterans - is also the Harper who brutally cuts services to those very people he says we owe so much to.


Remember Tuesday, Sept. 4, 7 p.m. at the Moncton Library.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August 29: a late night return....

Back from two days at the beach. Who else could have chosen to go to the beach on the old two days of this summer that have been cloudy, cold, and west?

I read The Moncton Times and Transcript for the days I was away. They were really models of nothingness. Much of the time, the paper doesn't lie. It just drools triviality. As long as people don't know what's happening, the Moncton times is doing its job.

There was another half-wit note on the hundred million dollar events centre. This one came in the form of an editorial on how badly we need an events centre (hockey rink) at a (borrowed) hundred million. And this is a paper that moans about the New Brunswick deficit. Yep. We borrow a hundred million (probably more) for a commercial facility which is the sort of thing private business is supposed to pay for. Meanwhile, everything we really need is underfunded.  This truly is a welfare province - for big business.

It's also disturbing to see people arguing over whether bus drivers are "worth" getting decent salaries. You know, in a civilization, we put price tags on clothes, furniture, paintings, books....But, in a civilization we don't put them on people.

We used to. There was a time in Canada and in the US when we put a price tag on Africans and native peoples. But that was money up front that went to somebody else who was white. Once that was paid, Africans and natives were paid nothing, simply given barely enough food and shelter to stay alive - though not for long. African slaves in Canada generally died before age 30, natives about age 20.

In the late nineteenth century, we put a very low price tag on Chinese to work on our railways. They were particularly useful for risky jobs like dynamiting because of their low worth.

But we've surely left the days of putting price tags on people behind us. Surely, if I am to judge by the numbers of religious pamphlets stuck in my mailbox, we now live in a society in which we think of what people need - not of what they are "worth".

However, if we are now civilized, we must still be pretty screwed up. I can't help notice we give billions to billionaires in the form of tax cuts, grants, special deals, and we (most of the western world) bail out banks that have gone broke as a result of irresponsible and probably criminal behaviour, then let the bank directors give each other multi-million dollar bonuses in recognition of their fine work. And it all comes out of our taxes.

We happily give away billions to corporations that rob us blind - then dump on bus drivers, and say they aren't "worth" any more than they're getting. Tell you what - there are damned few bus drivers who have taken as much money out of your pocket as the corporations that run this province. The only real difference is that the bus drivers give us something back in return for their pay.

And, since it's late and there's really is nothing in the TandT worth talking about, let's spend a short time in understanding why nations go to war. We need to know that to make any sense at all out of the news.

Once every year, we are reminded of those Canadians and Americans who served to defend our freedom. Perhaps so. I'm sure that was the reason for a great many. But that can be an awkward argument.

If Canada went to war in 1914 and 1939 to defend freedom, why did the US stay out until 1917 and 1941?
Are Americans less interested in freedom than Canadian are? Are Canadians braver?

Or let's look at it another way. The freedom of the US and Canada was never at stake in either war. Of all the places in this world to attack, North America is far the most difficult, indeed impossible target. The only people who have ever invaded North America are the Europeans - and they got away with it because of vastly superior technology and communications. And the native peoples were hopelessly divided, so they could be picked off one group at a time.

For well over two hundred years, the only invading forces in North America were American troops once invading Canada, and twice invading Mexico.. (The bombing of Pearl Harbour was not an invasion. It was a raid; and was never intended to be more than that.) North America is the most uninvadeable region in the whole world. Neither Japan nor Germany ever considered an invasion. It would have been hopeless. Our freedom was not at stake in 1914, 1917, 1939, 1941, or in any other war Canada  has fought since 1812.

So why did we go to war?

The first thing to understand is that WE never decided. The decisions for war have been made by those who dominate countries. In the case of Canada and the US, it means the major economic interests decided. They use newspapers and other means to convince us that we must go to war for various patriotic or noble reasons. But those people are the ones who decide - and they don't give much of a damn about freedom or mercy or international order or any of that stuff.

Understand that I think we had to go to war in World War Two. I don't question it. Nor do I question that a great many North Americans agreed that we were justified in doing so. But then you're left with two awkwardnesses to explain - 1914/17 and 1939/41.

Let's look at 1914. A high proportion of Canadians in 1914, especially in Ontario and the West, were British-born. That, combined with a general population still closely tied to the UK meant popular support. But there was an even more compelling case for a large corporation like the CPR. Its investment came largely from Britain. Its market depended heavily on Britain and the British Empire. A victory for Germany would have been a disaster for most large, Canadian corporations. So we went to war in 1914. The situation of the US was quite different.

There was no close connection to Britain. American corporations suddenly had huge markets on both sides of the war. Even better, as the UK had to find money to fight such an expensive war, it was forced to sell off enormous investments in such things as US railways at bargain prices. War made Britain poor. But it made the US rich. And there were even better possibilities.

If Britain lost, then the greatest empire in history would be up for grabs. And the French Empire in Africa and Asia. And the wealth of the Belgian Congo. Germany, Turkey and Austria would get some, of course. But only the US had the potential to reach out for the greater part of it.

I'm not sure what changed the mind of President Wilson. It certainly wasn't any enthusiasm for freedom because neither he nor his successors made any attempt to spread  freedom anywhere. It  has been said, and may have been at least partly true, that the debt of Britain and France to the US  had become so great that a German victory would have been a disaster for Wall St.
In any case, there is no evidence at all to support the notion that the US went to war to defend freedom in 1917.

In 1939, Canadian enthusiasm for war was not so great after the terrible losses of World War One. The Mackenzie-King government held the nation together with the quiet but obvious hint it would avoid casualties. That's why the Canadian army was, for the most part, held in Britain, and not committed to the European front when it went over.

Canada agreed to commit troops on only two occasions before the invasion of Italy. In both cases, it was because Mackenzie-King believed these were two situations in which Canada could appear to be taking action - but without incurring great casualties. The situations were Hong Kong and Dieppe.

Whatever Roosevelt may have thought, he had to bear in mind that some very financially powerful Americans (like Henry Ford) were highly sympathetic to Hitler and Mussolini. Joe Kennedy, ex-bootlegger, father to a future US president, and US ambassdor to Britain, used his insider position to make his second fortune out stocks in both Britain and Germany.  As well, and as in WW1, American business (Esso springs to mind) was dazzled at the opportunity to sell to both sides in a great war. Roosevelt also had to consider that a defeat for Britain would, as in World War One, put the British and French Empires up for grabs - with the US in position to grab most of them.

In fact, after the US entered the war, it made attempts to get control of both of those empires. As Japanese armies retreated from French Indo-China (Vietnam), it ordered the Free French fleet not to attempt to re-enter the country. Roosevelt intended that French Indo-China would come under American control.

The Free French defied him, and sent in a destroyer. The French had given notice they were going in. The American response was to bomb the French destroyer in Hanoi Harbour.

Eventually, the French would return; but would face resistance from the Vietnamese people. This is what led to the American takeover of the Vietnam war as Kennedy now sought the goal that Roosevelt had wanted.

Similarly, the British were ordered not to liberate Hong Kong. That treasure-house was to go to the American puppet, Chiang kai-shek. But the British fleet in the Pacific was a far more substantial one than that the Free French; so the British did retake Hong Kong.  This time, there was no response.

Signficantly, the US entered World War Two not because of Germany or Britain. It was because of Japan. American corporations had long wanted control of as much of Asia as they could get. (Especially of China). The Japanese advances threatened to cut them out.

Japan knew the US would try to stop it. That's why it bombed Pearl Harbour - not to invade the US, but to cripple the American fleet before the US could attack Japan. The US, of course, declared war on Japan but, significantly, it did not declare war on Germany or Italy. It was Germany that declared war on the US - almost a month AFTER Pearl Harbour.

In the course of some five centuries, Europe invaded most of the world - the Americas, India, China, Africa - almost all of those invasions dictated not by a desire to spread civilization or prosperity or encourage cricket. They were dictated by the desire of business leaders to make money.

Don't waste time on any politician (or journalist) who tells you a war is being fought to spread freedom or to end suffering. Don't buy the stories we are bombing people to help them. Don't even believe them when they say it's out of loyalty to our country. It almost never is. If you want to know why a war is happening - look for the dollar signs. Then the news will make sense.

And so to bed. And tomorrow morning, back to The Moncton Times and Transcript.

Monday, August 27, 2012

August 27: Section A. D.O.A.

First, happy birthday to me. It's so wonderful to be 25.  again.

In celebration, I'm off to the shore from Monday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon - and don't know whether I'll be able to get on the web from there.

Section A of today's Moncton Times and Tribune has nothing to say. If all you want is pictures of Bruce Springsteen, you can get more and better for free on google.

And there's yet another page of overweight people on motorcycles.Many of them, I notice, wear helmets styled on those of Nazi soldiers in World War Two. Does this indicate some message they are trying to give? If so, do we really want that message in our daily newspaper?

One of the lead stories is about a former MLA who's now busy making things and going on trips, etc. Who bloody cares? Where are the stories on things that matter? - the safety problem that has shown up with our proposed super oil pipeline? the many incidents of shale gas pollution? The probing stories on the strange move of Moncton High, and the pollution under Highfield Square?

And how could they miss a kind of important story that dominated many newspapers today - including The Guardian? Due to population growth, climate change, and pollution, the world is running out of fresh water.

No. I don't mean in a hundred years. I mean now. As population grows and climate changes, we need more and more fresh water - that we don't have. We particularly need it to raise meat. Animals require far more water than vegetables do. That means we have to cut meat production so drastically that most people will have to become vegetarians.

And that process has to be complete by the year 2040, or millions (at least) will starve to death. And to complete by the year 2040 means we have to get started - yesterday.

We are into a period of one hell of a scramble for the world's resources. Millions have already died. And what plans have our governments made? (Yawn.) Well, they're planning  to poison what fresh water we have by fracking. There are probably also plans we aren't hearting about yet - to privatize fresh water so that corporations can make profits out of selling what we have left.

Sounds like a stretch? It's been happening for years as the World Bank will lend money for water supply in poor countries - but only if those countries will assign all the water to private ownership - which then charges scandalous rates for water supply. As a result, there are people who now pay more for water than for food. Nor can they gather rainwater, because even that belongs to the corporation.

Any deep thoughts on the future of water and agriculture and diet in New Brunswick, Mr. Alward? Anything in Fredericton or Moncton on the massive transit problems that face the  province and the city? Or are we still giving top priority to a hockey rink?

NewsToday has a big story of how government troops in Syria massacred 300 people. I don't doubt it. There's not much nice about the Syrian government.

But how come Reuters never seems to have a story about massacres by rebels? Not even when they're aimed at Christians?

And who are the good guys in all this? The ones who have been denouncing the Syrian government for this brutaltiy? Well, that's France, Britain, the US - all of them with massacre records that make Syria look like a summer at Girl Guide camp.

Then there's a gem of a story about the NDP being forced to repay $340,000 in donations from unions. We will skip lightly over the fact that Harper has still not dealt with the robocalls scandal - or even with the thievery of Brian Mulroney. But he's very quick to get all indignant when it's another party.

For loaded and emotional language, read in particular the official government statement in paragraphs three and four. "The NDP went cap in hand to its big union boss friends ...." How's that for neutral language in an official and non-political statement?

It also claims that "our government" took the big money out of politics by banning corporate and union donations. Now, that's not lying. But it sure isn't telling the truth. If it were true, the Conservatives would not today have far the biggest campaign fund of any party.

 It goes on to tell how the innocent and honest conservative party built a "grassroots network of individuals making small donations." Oh? Could we have a list of those grassroots individuals? All those widows and orpants?  And could we be given the total of campaign funds that are held by each party in Canada?

The reality is that Conservatives and Liberals across Canada have traditionally been the parties to get big money, mostly from the very wealthy - and both parties have traditionally been run by the wealthy. That's as true in Quebec and Ontario and Alberta as it is in New Brunswick. (And I might add that I'm not crazy about what I've seen of the NDP in Nova Scotia,)

As for the editorial and op ed - good cartoon by de Adder. Alec Bruce's column is one of the best I've seen. Save the rest of those pages for a really, really slow day.

I'll finish with a point that I think it's useful to remember. I've been accused of being anti-American, anti-Canadian, anti-British, anti-semite. As Chairman of the English rights group in Quebec, I was accused of being anti-French, and anti-English. To call someone anti-----any group is the last and often the only argument of the moron.

But we are daily encouraged by most of our news media to anti-Moslem, anti-Liberal, anti-Conservative, anti-Green, anti-NDP, anti-Russia...... And it's all silly.

To be anti any group of people is usually a sign of ignorance because most people of any group don't have the power we attribute to them.

The news media of my youth encouraged me to be anti-Russia and anti-China. They were, I was daily told, evil. I finally got to China, very shortly after the death of Mao, and found the people delightful. (Now, they're almost officially delightful because our corporations are making money out of them.)

The people of China were never evil. They weren't - and still aren't - making the decisions. Why blame them? I would certainly criticize the government of China for its behaviour. But the people of China have no control over that.

France slaughtered the people of Algeria and Vietnam. But that's scarcely makes the people of France evil. All they knew was the sort of biased news we get. And the decisions weren't made by them. They were made by the business and political leadership of the country.

We all know Americans. We know they're people so much like us that we couldn't be anti-American without being anti-ourselves. It's not the US which is inflicting so much suffering on the world. It's a relatively small group of people, notably business and political leaders and assorted crackpots who control the supply of information and can effectively propagandize most of the nation.

Canada bombed Libya. I think that was dead wrong. But I don't get all-Canadian and blame Canada for it. The blame goes, largely, on Harper. Things are done by people - not by abstractions like nations or religions.

So do some Moslems kill Christians? That's not much of a reason to be anti-Moslem, especially when so many Christians are busy killing Moslems.

Anybody who is anti any great mass of people based on religion or nationality is a damn fool. The damage is done by the individuals who control and power. Blame real people, not imaginary stereotypes.

I don't blame Israel for its behaviour. I blame its leadership - like Netanyahu. (Most of my Jewish friends do the same.)

Blame individuals. Blame lying and propagandizing media. Blame corporate bosses who operate with no moral standards whatever. But beware of being anti any nationality or religion.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

August 26: Words, words, words,....

I write today because after a far too lazy summer, I may go to the shore for Tuesday and Wednesday to do something manly and strenuous and athletic and brave - wade out to the sandbars at low tide. (I laugh in danger's face.) So, since there's no TandT to talk about, I thought I'd talk about words in the news.

Read "Bill"Beliveau's column some day. Notice how the word "liberal" is always used as if it means "good". Actually, it doesn't. In fact, not one person in a thousand knows the meaning of "conservative" or "liberal". And Lord knows the politicians haven't a clue what those words mean.

I believe in democracy. That's Liberal. I believe we have a responsibility to care for our whole society. That's conservative. Like just about everybody, I'm part liberal and part conservative. And, of course, there's much more to both than that. The Roman Catholic church is, in a true sense, a conservative institution. The Baptist church is supposed to be liberal-leaning,  - though it doesn't appear to know the meaning of the word.

But very few Liberals are liberal. And very few Conservatives are conservative. There's nothing conservative about Stephen Harper. He has no principles that can be called by either of those names. He's a ideologue (just as Stalinists were) with an ideology that doesn't work. It's lying in ruins all over the world - ruins in the form of crashed economies, starving millions, wildly unbalanced distribution of wealth, greed run wild - a system so ruinous that is is certain to give rise to revolutions, almost certainly to fascism, and to even more of the constant wars we are now going through - and quite possibly to the last war of them all.

Some people like to call it capitalism. But it bears not the slightest resemblance to capitalism. Mr. Irving is not a capitalist, not of any sort. Like Harper, he has latched onto the insane ideology of pure self-interest, greed, and indifference to others.

It's important to understand words. Otherwise, they get used against you. Words are used to create a false understanding and, very often, an emotional one, that leads us into very damaging decisions.

Notice how the word conservative is often used to mean someone who spends responsibly? Lots of people vote conservative for that reason. But the fact is that Conservatives have generally been the big spenders in Canadian history. Notice how liberals get a reputation for social reform and "progressive" ideas? In fact, Liberals introduced such legislation only under tremendous pressure - as in the case of medicare.

It gets worse when politicians and news media deliberately use words to create an emotional response.

An early attempt (that seems to have failed) was during and after the Korean War. All veterans who appeared in news stories after that were referred to as 'Korean War Heroes', as in 'Korean War Hero gets parking ticket.' (no exaggeration).

There was a reason for that. People have to be convinced that wars - at the least ones we fight in - are for a good reason. That's how Nov. 11 has become less a day of sorrow than one of glorification of war.

(Some day, I'll do a blog on that. Like most of my generation, I know we had to fight World War Two. I know it was a terrible sacrifice for many of those who went. I also know there is one hell of a lot of hypocrisy on Nov. 11 about why they went. As a result, their sacrifice was often greater than we recognize.

Another magic and emotional word is WMD (weapon of mass destruction). I never heard that term until Bush wanted to invade Iraq. Then, suddenly, we heard nothing else. What is a WMD? That's the beauty of it. Nobody knows. But it's bad. And If a country has them, you have the right to invade and kill hundreds of thousands of civilians - even if it turns out they didn't have any.

And the irony is that this term was invented by leaders of the US which has more chemical, bacterial, and explosive weapons of mass destruction than all the rest of the world put together.

Another favourite is extreme - as in extreme Moslem. That's emotional. And evil.

And what about those looneytune Christians who are clapping hands for war in the middle east because they believe that it will bring the end of the world? They are the electoral base of Romney and our own Harper. They want killing on the greatest scale in history. But the mews media never call them extreme.

It's the same with "terrorist". Wars since 1939 have deliberately killed more civilians than any wars in history. That's done for terror. It's what's called terrorism. But not in our news media. Even the lunatic who blew up a building with a nursery school in it was never called a terrorist. He was called a "militia", which sounds both patriotic and official.

Let's face it. Most of our news media are highly skilled propaganda outfits. They are there to manipulate public opinion. Backing them up are phsychiatrists and  psychologists and all the other academic hacks who make themselves available.

Almost all presentation of news is designed not to inform you, but to manipulate you. And that's true even in a media dog's breakfast like The Moncton Times and Transcript..

Saturday, August 25, 2012

August 25: Bruce Springsteen Special

Wow! It's right there. Almost a whole front page story about Bruce Springsteen coming to Magnetic Hill. And there's also a great, cat story. PLUS almost a whole page about Springsteen on A13, PLUS a photo of Bruce, himself.  Oh, I could die; I could just die.

AND there's an editorial on Springsteen that's so gushingly pre-teen ("Baby, we were born to rock") that you can almost smell the bubble gum and hear the giggles. AND, oh, let it never end; there's an editorial cartoon of Springsteen's rear end in jeans. And it's just packed with meaning.

Even more! P.1 has a long story, indeed a SPECIAL REPORT about the history of Highfield Square. Now, there's a grabber for you. As I read through it, I wondered why any newspaper should carry such a long and utterly pointless story. The answer came in the final paragraphs. It's a soft pitch for the "events centre" our city hall has been dumb enough to consider. This city and the whole region face immense transit problems, as well as a very serious problem of urban sprawl. And it wants to borrow a hundred million for a hockey rink.

Funny how the Moncton Times and Transcript always talks about how government is incompetent, and how private business knows how to get things done. Then the TandT and city hall get together and tell us what will  be an immensely profitable project - and they want us, through government to pay for it.

Get stuffed.

If this is going to be all that  profitable, why does it need government to pay for it? If it's such a sure thing, let private business do it. Let big business take the risks it always says it is taking, but never does.

Meanwhile, we might look for an urban planning office that knows what those words mean.

Oh, and there's no mention of the pollution under Highfield Square. Now, it seems to me that if this pollutants were no serious problem...well....then they would say so.....

For some reason, the first section also carries lengthy repeats of stories that have already appeared. There's the very long story about the memorial to Ian Fowler, the trip of Dieppe residents to D Day sites and to Dieppe in France. But the interviews with the Dieppe residents are still worth a read. One mentions the ages of those who died. I remember that well from my own experience of visiting the war cemeteries in Europe.

Overwhelmingly, the ages were eighteen, nineteen, twenty... There was even the one that said eighteen under the name of a  boy I had known was only sixteen.

Another repeat, too, was worth repeating. That's the story on p 11 about the historian who claims to have discovered a secret reason that made the Dieppe raid worth while. I have expressed my doubts about this story in at least two posts. I am astonished that our archives would open up such a file to such a very junior historian. That, alone, is suspictious. And I cannot believe it is a coincidence this story was published just as the anniversary of D Day came along.

As well, the story simply doesn't make sense. The planning of Dieppe was dreadful. There's no doubt about that. The decision to go on with the raid even after the raiding force was spotted was incompetent, to put it kindly. A diversionary raid need not have taken so many troops - or such an exposed landing site. This time, I'm happy to see that reporter James Foster did what the reporter of the original story did not do. He asked questions.

 Dr. Marc Milner, a military historian of note, expresses reservations, if in a kind way. (Why on earth didn't reporters check this story with military historians in the first place?) Why have they still not bothered to check O'Keefe's credentials to have been given such an assignment?

In any case, the story ends up with the usual crap that valuable lessons were learned at Dieppe - and that made it worthwhile. Yeah. Lessons like don't land troops on an open beach covered by machine guns and artillery and hemmed in by cliffs - especially don't do it if you know the enemy has found out you are coming. Gee! Who would have guessed?

There's a smell about this story. And it's a very political smell.

NewsToday leads with a story of Alward saying nothing. Then there's a story that Syrian rebels are working on forming a new government. Sure. The reality is that even with massive support from the west, from Turkey and certain Arab states, the rebels are doing badly. They obviously don't have a whole lot of support in Syria.

The most likely result is the disappearance of Syria (and Lebanon) into a scattering of small and ineffectual states - which is exactly what our side wants to see.

Haiti is suffering again, this time from a hurricane. It has few adequate buildings or facilities to deal with the crisis. That's because most of the US earthquake aid was never never delivered at all, and most of what was delivered went to private contractors who did nothing but put the money in offshore bank accounts. First, there was the invasion by thugs which we (including Canada) used to exile the elected President - the only honest leader in that country's history which has been plagued by American-supported dictators for a century. Now, lacking even basic shelter, they have had to face a hurricane. And no doubt, there will be a great flourish of trumpets, and an announcement that aid is on the way - into the pockets of the same contractors who ripped off the last aid money.

The editorial page is a wipe-out - as I hinted with my comment on the editorial and the editorial cartoon.  "Bill" Belliveau is, as always, confusing LIberals with angels. (Liberals don't have halos - a sure giveaway. No angel would be caught dead without his/her/its halo on.)

His column is on Quebec and Charest. Look, "Bill", as a Quebecker who was very involved in Quebec politics, I can tell you that Jean Charest did more damage to a united Canada and more damage to non-francophones in Quebec than the PQ ever did. He is also the leader of a notoriously corrupt government. And he has never, even in his Conservative days, been anything I could define as principled.

There is no party in the Quebec election that anybody of brains or even of basic honesty could vote for. I suspect Quebec is in for a very bad time no matter which of those clowns wins. And there is every danger that Canada has run out of patience.

Norbert writes another of his bland columns. Tell you what really bothers me about him. Norbert has written,  many times, about how the greatest problem facing us is global warming - which is a consequence of our abuse of the environment.

Now Harper is opening up our very fragile North to use even more of the fossil fuels that are killing our planet. Notice that Norbert has never said a word about it? Notice how he's never said a word about shale gas?  Norbert - it you really believe something, have the courage and integrity to speak about it. And if you don't have the courage and integrity, don't waste our time with tales of the Mayor of Toronto. I mean, the paper already has Mazerolle to cover the bland scene.

Gwynne Dyer's column is worth a read. I hope he's right.

Now, I must rest up for my birthday which approaches. So many gifts. So little time.

Friday, August 24, 2012

August 24: Alward listens - but he doesn't like talking

There's an interesting story on p. A1 about veterans revisiting Juno Beach, where the Canadians landed on D-Day. Unfortunately, it hints at the old myth that D-Day succeeded because of lessons the British generals learned at Dieppe. That is nonsense.

Most British generals, including Montgomery, warned the government that the Dieppe plan was amateurish, and would end in disaster. Unfortunately, and for all his talents, Churchill was never much of a strategist or tactician, and he badly wanted the raid to happen. Dieppe also failed because Lord Louis Mountbatten was incompetent, and because most Canadian officers, both senior and junior, had no experience whatever. All that was learned at Dieppe was never to put incompetent people in charge of a plan.

Unfortunately, the myth will live on because governments always have to convince us that all our wars are necessary and justified.

P. A3 repeats much of what the TandT has already told us about the controversy over the school to replace MHS. But the story does not touch on the bottom line. The bottom line is that the provincial government plans to spend many millions of our tax money to build a school that will serve generations of our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.

And citizens have asked, as citizens should, "Why did you choose that location?"

And the government of New Brunswick is saying, "F*ck you, you peasants." And it gives the excuse that us peasants asked after the deadline for questions.

What does that have to do with our right to know why and how our money is being spent? If Mr. Irving had asked why, Alward would have been rushing over to rub his tummy, and explain it all in detail. And if Alward had been as rude and improper to our various barons in this province as he has been to the voters, an editorial in The Moncton Times and Transcript would have shredded him.

But it's not Mr. Irving or McCain or even Ganong that Alward is being rude and dismissive toward. It's just you and me. And there's not an editor in that whole farce we call BrunswickNews with the courage or the integrity or even the brains to support us voters.

And the voters? Have they learned? Or will they just repeat history at the next election and say, "We'll show those Conservatives. We'll vote Liberal."  Just a last time when they said, "We'll show those Liberals." We'll vote Conservative."  And, either way, once again they'll voting for Irving and McCain and Ganong and all those others who seem to hold them in such contempt.

Reuters has the usual story - the rebel point of view on the fighting in Syria. But the last paragraph is a bit of a laugh. It says that it is hard to verify stories that the rebels are being supported and supplied by wealthy Arab states and by the west, including the US and the UK.

Hard to verify? Those Arab states and the the US and the UK have long ago publicly announced they were suppling money, weapons and mercenaries for the rebels. Obama made it very public a couple of weeks ago. And the US has announced a delivery of ground to air missiles for the rebels just a few days ago.

There are also confirmed reports of  rebels who have been executing Christians. (Syria has a large Christian population - and it opposes the rebels.) Maybe Reuters should catch up on reading the news instead of writing it.

What is going on in the middle east and in Africa is the deliberate destruction of organized states by western powers allied with Saudi Arabia and other dictatorships. It's been going on in Congo for decades, with uncounted millions of deaths. It happened in Libya. It's happening in Syria and it will happen in Lebanon and in Iraq - and quite possibly in Iran.

The purpose is to make it impossible for people in those countries to resist western exploitation - oil, gold, diamonds, minerals. The ones that play ball with cheap labour,almost no taxes, cheap access to resources (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, The Emirates) will be left alone. The others will be broken up into tribal regions of almost no power.

(Saudi Arabia places ball very nicely. The royal family make more billions than they know what to do with. But it stops there. The rate of poverty in Saudi Arabia is over 30%. And the kings have not wasted much time or money on social services to change that.)

Harper is going to develop oil in the Arctic. Wonderful. The reason he can do so is because global warming has made it possible to open the Arctic. A major reason we have global warming is that we rely on oil for energy. So Harper plans to encourage the use of even more oil. So we get even more global warming. Once again, it's proven that greed trumps common sense every time.

As always, the editorial takes the side of the government in the MHS dispute - and goes on a brainless rant. On balance, though, it's not the editorial brainlessness that's annoying. It's the predictable gutlessness and the pandering to power.

When I taught grade seven, I was occasionally called out of the room for a few minutes. There was a kid who always put his hand up when I announced that I would be out for moment. He would say, "Sir, can I get a piece of chalk to write on the board the name of anybody who talks while you're out?" What an ass-kissing little wretch! I wonder if he's now an editorial writer at the TandT?

In any case, the editorial writer should find out what the parliamentary system is before he accuses people of attacking it. He might also check the word democracy. An essential part of democracy is information. We don't get much information from our provincial government. And, Lord knows, we don't get much from the intellectually challenged sycophants who run the Moncton Times and Transcript. And if you don't have information, democracy is a farce.

Amusing cartoon by de Adder. Harmless, if scattered, column by Norbert. Important one by Alec Bruce.

On the op ed page, Lynda MacGibbon's  column seems like light reading - but there is something to think about in it. David Suzuki's column in very important - especially if you read it in company with the story on Harper's plan to develop the oil industry.

Big money lives to get more money. Nothing, not even common sense, is allowed to stand in the way. Though it can obviously destroy us, we have made very little attempt to cope with global warming. Indeed, big money is pushing for even more use of the fossil fuels that are slowly killing us.

Remember how many editorials and columns we have seen in the TandT about cutting back on government? And giving more power to big business?

In fact, the western world is pretty much run by big business. The result is a world economy in ruins. That's a direct result of irresponsibility and even criminal behaviour by big business. Another result is a threat to poison the lands and waters of New Brunswick forever - for the sake of shale gas profts - and maybe a few jobs. Another result, as shown by Harper (a big business kiss-up if ever there was one) is a drive to pump out even more fossil fuels and hasten global warming to catastrophe.

Big business, for all its bluster and pretension, does not have the ability, the skills or even the common sense to operate a society.And watch it this year. My guess is it's going to take another run at controlling the schools - something else it knows nothing about.

Pages D1 and 2 are pretty much about preparing to go back to school. And they're pretty obvious things. (Remember to buy a lunch box. Have an alarm clock. Right. And put clothes on. and be sure to walk on the ground.)  That's not surprising. In all of the North American news media, it is very, very rare to find a journalist who knows anything about education.

Education is about intellectual and social development. Yes, a lunch box is helpful. So is a binder. But these are not the crucial elements. One crucial thing - perhaps the crucial thing - is intellectual stimulation. Moncton is not big on intellectual stimulation.

That is not the fault of the schools. They do all that it is possible for schools to do. But intellectual stimulation also has to come from the home, from friends, from variety in one's range of friends, from newspapers, from museums...

I grew up in a very poor district. Nobody I began school with expected to finish high school. In fact, they started dropping out in grade four. Few got past grade nine. But I went to grade ten, and in the new school I met kids I never knew existed.

They read books. They attended theater. They discussed things -not just last night's hockey score - but politics, ideas they had learned from reading, art; they expected to go to university, (something I had never heard of..... They changed my whole life. It was too late to save me that  year. I didn't yet have the habits of study or the belief that I could ever be anything but an office boy or a factory hand. So I often skipped school. But it was downtown, where I could go to the Montreal Museum of Fine arts with its paintings and ancient pottery, to the Redpath Museum with its wonderful collection of a whole dinosaur (bones), a mummy, a stuffed gorilla, to odd little book stores where people browsed for hours. Oh, there was a lot to see; and every step was new world.

It's important to have the stimulation of different kinds of people, of a wide range of music and art and history and ambitions. Moncton doesn't have that. It's not Moncton's fault. It's small city. It doesn't have a wide range of people who differ much from each other. Most parents have very little interest, so far as I can tell, in any serious reading or discussion. Their taste in music ranges from somebody with a guitar to somebody else with a guitar - both of them playing music written over (at the most) the last twenty years.

The TandT advertises books by ex-editors. But I've never seen a book review in it. Virtually all of its news is trivial, and most of its opinon - lacking in inspiration.

The library is dreadfully underfunded.

This has an effect on the children. They rarely get to break beyond the limits of the narrow circle they grow up with. And, in a city this size, there aren't likely to be able to find a circle that's any different from the one they started with.

It's a common problem for small cities. The museum expansion is certainly a good idea. But far more than that has to be done if our children are ever to realize their potential. So, buy lunch boxes and binders by all means. But remember that learning is about people, about relations between people, about learning about what can interest us, about learning what we are capable of.

And remember that children can't get all that from school. It has to come from the whole society. And the society needs a range of differences that will stimulate their thinking and their outlook.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August 22: Harry the Stripper

Harry the Stripper is a story that didn't make The Moncton Times and Transcript. After all it's role is to protect New Brunswickers from an evil world of unions and environmentalists and shale gas protestors -  and naked princes.

But you can get the story, with photos, in just about any newspaper in the world outside the Irving Empire Buckingham Palace has admitted the truth of it. I saw it on Pakistan TV; and youtube has a dozen sites showing Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne, and apparently wrestling in the nude with another nude who appears (to the relief of Baptists around the world) to be female. In fact, they show a whole bunch of nudes playing strip billiards in Harry's luxury suite at Las Vegas.

Well, boys will be boys. But Harry is an expensive boy for British taxpayers who are facing severe austerity. His annual security bill, alone, is 120 million pounds. And taxpayers also get the tab for his expensive visit to Las Vegas.

The UK has been very lucky in having two monarchs in a row with intelligence and responsibility for their positions. But the moron gene in the family has been the dominant one for centuries.

Meanwhile, a minor gem on p. A 3, "Protestors battle police". The fighting has been going on for a year and a half in the emirate (dictatorship) of Bahrain - just as it has in the Kingdom (dictatorship) of Saudi Arabia. People have been killed in both. Why mention this?

1. These two dictatorships are our allies in "bringing democracy to the middle east".
2. These two dictatorships are major suppliers for the "rebels" in Syria. In fact, without their money, weapons, and mercenaries, there wouldn't be any fighting in Syria.
3. Alas, the protestors in Bahrain have no money or weapons. Nor have the US or the UK complained about what is happening to them.
4. Reuters makes it a point to suggest the protestors are getting help from Iran. Okay. So how come after 18 months they don't seem to have any weapons or money?
5. This is the usual sloppy and biased reporting from Reuters. But other points are strange, too.
   a) have you ever seen foreign news in Section Aof the TandT before?
   b) notice the print. It's so small and cramped that many readers will find it impossible to read.
  c) The whole story is one of the smallest I have ever seen in the TandT.
  d) Is all this some dastardly plot?
      Nah. Nobody at the TandT has the brains to plot. What probably happened is the editor had a hole to fill on A 3, but not a big one. Looked around f or a short story, any short story. Saw the Reuters story and squeezed it in by reducing the print size.

Interesting story on A1. The provincial government lost in a court ruling. The court said that the provincial government must allow a judicial review of its decision to replace Moncton High with a new school in a distant location.

But the government now is appealing that decision. Obviously, it is determined not to tell us why it chose that location.

Well, Alward ran on a platform to listen to people. And he does listen. But he never promised to speak to us or to tell us why he does things. Frankly, if all  you Conservative voters just wanted someone to listen to you, it would have been cheaper to elect a dog.

It's all rather like our city council which refuses to tell us what pollutants lie under Highfield Square.

Of course, the TandT needed space, a good, half  page, for its big story of the day - the new Mt. A librarian is looking forward to his job. (EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it.)

In NewsToday, Reuters has its usual kiss-up news story - with the addition of a false headling, presumably supplied by one of the Tand T's numerous editors. "US is not after Assange"  (If you read the story, you will see that it really claims "US says it is not after Assange."   There's an important difference.)

And the US is almost certainly lying. First, it says it has laid no charges against Assange. Quite true. But it also laid no charges against private Bradley Manning, Assange's source for Wikkileaks. It still held him in solitary for two years of torture, with no charges or trial. He is at  last getting the trial - but in a military court which offers very little protection to a defendant.

The crime of Manning and Assange? They revealed the truth about how American governments have consistently lied to the American people in matters like, for example, the real reasons for the Iraq War that killed a million people. (Of course, none of this appeared in The Moncton Times and Transcript. It has a red light that flashes when anything true comes in.)

P. 7 has a collector's item. Somebody gave some chairs to the Sackville Legion Hall. Yes. Somebody did. There's even a big picture of two people holding a chair; and there's a Legion crest on the wall. So we know it's true. Yep. Some photgrapher drove all the way to Sackvile to take a picture of two people holding up a metal and vinyl chair. Boy! Everybody will be talking about that one. It might even get a Bunswick Press annual award for journalism.

P. C8 has an important story about how oilsands companies are using very effective ads to counter their critics. With plenty of pyschologists and psychiatrists for hire, corporations and special interest groups can produce highly manipulative campaigns. The can create mass hysteria and hatred (the results of which we read in the news every day).

In a related case,there were a couple of comments from a reader on August 15 and 17 who felt strongly that life is better under western imperialism than under dictatorship. Of course. We're all brainwashed to believe that..

After all, we think Americans, British, and Canadian people are nice people for the most part. And so they are. So, in my experience, are Chinese, Turks, Germans, Dutch and many others. In fact, I don't know any country made up of evil people.

But, you know, it is no nicer to be burned alive by American napalm than by Chinese napalm. It is not nicer to be tortured by an Englishman than by a Russian.

And most people in most countries have no idea of what their leaders are doing. Our news media make sure of that. And we, all of us, in the whole world, are doing some bloody awful things - mass murder, mass poisoning, mass rape and then murder, deliberate starvation, theft,.....all of us. There are reasons why our soldiers suffer post traumatic stress disorder and a high rate of suicide.

But all of this is masked by the false patriotism of history texts, the false heroism of movies, the skilful lying of newspapers and the bigotry they create, manipulation by politicians and big business - all with the help of rented psychologists and psychiatrists.

(I guess most people have forgotten the case in which a pyschiatrist experimented on mentally ill patients at the Douglas Hospital in Montreal. He doped them with LSD in an experiment, often making them ill for life,  to see whether the US government could use the drug on prisoners of war.The Canadian government didn't make a peep.)

So, p. C8 is worth looking at (however much it's been diluted.)

The editorial is the usual shallow boosterism. But read it. Then read Alec Bruce's column for sanity. Save Norbert for tonight if you really, really can't sleep.

Skip Rod Allen. Jody Dallaire is superb - a real, fighting column.

Excellent letter by Marlene Bourgeois of Dieppe in Letters to the editor. (Yes. I know. That means I agree with her.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August 22:

Above are two sites sent to me by a reader. Both are important. Neither has appeared in The Moncton Times and Transcript.  The particularly frightening one is the one called trapwire. This is a system for government spying (contracted out to a private company) which can cover virtually every man, woman, and child in the country. Using mathematical formulae, it can connect them with any group its users choose to. And it's coming to Canada - might already be here.

No problem, you say? It'll keep an eye on people who are dangerous? Actually, no.

Throughout history, this and cruder systems have been been used to dig up dirt or, at least, allegations to be used against people the government doesn't like - members of opposition parties, for example.

The RCMP spent years spying on Tommy Douglas. There is still a  huge file on him. Why? He was a threat to Canadian freedom. He introduced medicare.

Harper has already publicly stated that he sees environmentalists as a threat to Canada. Hey! You don't agree with Harper? Then you are a threat to this country; and there's a good chance there is already a file on you.

Welcome to Orwell's 1984.

The TandT is unusually truthful in a  front page headline "Premier touts childhood plan". To tout is to try to sell something, usually in a brazen way. And that's what the story is all about. In fact, it's not a news story at all. It's a con job by Alward about the wonderful things he's doing.

A real newspaper would assign reporters to ask some quesions, to find out what is going on - and what isn't. But the TandT is not a real newspaper.

Meanhile, some real news from Quebec was ignored. Pauline Marois, leader of the separatist PQ, has announced that anyone who is not competent in French will not be permitted to run for provincial or municipal office in Quebec.
1. That is inventing a problem in order to spread hatred and fear. I have lived in Quebec most of my life. I have never even heard of a person who could not speak French running for office at any level, not even in a largely anglo riding.
This, like her pronouncement forbidding religious symbols of any sort (except crosses) for civil servants, is an appeal the the very ugly bigotry that is still widespread in Quebec.
2. It is also illegal to say who has a right to be a candidate. In a democracy, any citizen of age is entitled to run. If there is something wrong with the candidate, that is something for the voters to decide - not Marois.

Ms. Marois is dangerous. And this is an important and dangerous election for all of us. (But not in the view of the TandT.) Nor can we take comfort in any,major party that is running in the Quebec election.

NewsToday has a big story on Harper's tour of the far north. Wonderful things will happen - mines, oil wells,  you name it. And we have to go hurry, hurry, hurry before those environmentalists make a nuisance - oh, it's good to have "tripwire". There is no mention that Harper has gutted scientific study of the impact of development on this most fragile environment.. (Well, sure, you destroy the earth. But it will provide good jobs. For a while. And billions in profits for a very few - who can then move to some country that isn't wo devastated.)

PostMedia is the source for the story. Of course. PostMedia, like BrunswickMedia, is a kiss-up for big business.)

But BrunswickMedia does a better job on p. C3 with a report that the Canadian Medical
Association is calling for shale gas health checks. This is a real story; and it's worth reading. In fact, there is considerable evidence of severe health damage from shale gas extraction.

Reuters on p. C12, offers its usual, heavily biased account of Julian Assange's bid to escape extradition to Sweden. It raves on about the fairness of the Swedish judicial system. I don't doubt its fairness. But that is not what this is about.

The issue is whether Assange would, after getting to Sweden, risk extradition to the US - which does NOT have a reputation for judicial fairness. Assange's junior partner in Wikkileaks has been held in an American prison for over two years with no charge or trial. In that time, he has, according to the UN, been held in solitary and tortured. He now, at last, will face a court - but it will be a military court, which offers few of the protections of a civilian court. And the US wants Assange even worse than it does his partner.

 They told the truth about American government lying and illegal behaviour. That's serious.

Editors are trained and experienced in putting a newspaper together. That's all they're trained to do - and the editors at the TandT can't even do that. There is no reason to expect any editor's opinion on any subject but putting a newspaper together is worth a damn. But they still insist. Today's editorial is on a subject the writer is sublimely ignorant of. It's shallow. It's a rant. And it's primary purpose is to bash the union. (Ever see a TandT editorial criticize a corporation?)

Read Norbert's first, two sentences under Retailers. He manages to make an article about the spread of American retailers into Canada into an attack on the CBC. (Apparently, CBC referred to the spread or retailers as an invasion, something Norbert perceived as an anti-American statement.)  Norbert, will you please get a dictionary - or just use common sense?

The word invasion is often used in a quite pleasant sense as, for example, (Moncton looks forward to tourist invasion at Magnetic Hill).

But Norbert has a hatred of the CBC - because it is not a private company. He constantly slips in derogatory comments about it, and put 'mother' before it in a derogatory (if unclear) , manner.

 Have you ever read anything by him that was critical of a private broadcaster? I was many years daily on private radio. I met lots of good broadcasters and good journalists (and lots and lots of really stinking ones.) I was also a dozen years and more on CBC. There's no comparison. CBC is way ahead of anything I saw in private radio. And that is especially true in Moncton.

But have you ever seen Norbert utter a word of criticism of private radio in this city?

And then, of course, he has to blame environmentalists for the food crisis. Yep, it's them there environmental fanatics whut's causin' the problems. Norbert - you used to be an editor; and, Lord, it shows.

Norbert looks around at a world of devastated environment, most of it  devastated by big business. He looks at a world economy in flames because of the irresponsible and, commonly, illegal behaviour of big business. He looks at a hundred million Americans dependent on welfare to survive, while billionaires still make their biggest profits in history, and while politicians are still cutting food programmes for hungry children so they can lower taxes on the very rich.

Norbert, has it never occurred to  you that corporations control must governments in the "democratic" world. And if you can wrap your little head around that, doesn't it occur to you that corporations have thus proven they are hopelessly dishonest and, in general, utterly incompetent to run any society?

Ever see Norbert write a word about that? No. And it's not likely you ever will.

Alec Bruce is - Alec Bruce - and that's good.

Brian Cormier has a penetrating opinion piece about his spatula. All people who are concerned about Brian's spatula should read it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 21: Wow! Beer sales are up....

...and they even tell you on p. 1 which Moncton bars  are expanding their range - and how Pump House has reached a milestone and, oh, just everything.And the story covers almost half a page. Boy, nothing escapes the fearless reporters of The Moncton Times and Transcript.

There are, by accident, I'm sure, a couple of stories in Section A that are worth thinking about.

The first is how a huge turnout at city hall monopolized the meeting at council. It was a protest over the Codiac Transpo lockout.Three points occurred to me.

1. Has it occurred to those who think drivers should get only $10 an hour that almost all of a bus driver's salary gets spent in Moncton? (Unlike the millions we hand out in tax breaks and gifts to corporations?) Are there really people who think we can make Moncton richer by making its people poorer?
2. What happened to the rest of the meeting?  It was supposed to discuss a motion to ban fracking in the Moncton region. There is no mention of that in the Tand T, though it promised long ago to keep us up to date on the fracking issue.
3, Ward Two councillor Merrill Henderson had to chair the meeting in the absence of the mayor. I guess that explains why he's been too busy for the last month to answer my questions about the pollutants that lie under Highfield Square - you know, the ones under the supermarket.

Page D2 was a story about a meeting in Dieppe concerning French language and culture. Most of it was eminently reasonable. But, as always, the dreadful word culture came up as one speaker said bilingualism is not a culture; a language is.


Culture is one of those words that is emotional - but one whose meaning is generally unknown. No language is a culture - not English, not French, not Chiac, not Chinese - though any or all can be part of a culture.

A language debate is not a good place to use emotional buzz words that nobody understands.

The editorial page has a solid column by Alec Bruce, a harmless one by Norbert, and a silly one by the editorial writer. (St. George is a nice street for certain kinds of shopping - just like similar streets in any city I have even seen. But to shower words on it like 'visionary' and 'trend-setting' is just unspeakably silly.)

Op Ed has the usual 'Geewhizgolly' drivel by a staff writer. (Be prepared in case it should rain at The Boss concert. Bring an umbrella or raincoat.)   Below that, though, is a much more interesting column by Louise Gilbert.

I mentioned yesterday we should be paying close attention to the Quebec election. Here's why.

The Parti Quebecois is running on a platform of pure hate and zenophobia. It has to.

Whenever a government is out of policies - or has policies that it doesn't want to talk about - it stirs up fear, paranoia and hatred of "the others". (The US always has to have a hated enemy - communism, Islam - to cover its wars of aggression). Every government plays that game.

The PQ originally ran on plans to separate, of course, and to improve the position of the working class. and to provide upward mobility for francophones. On the latter two points, it has not improved the position of the working class; it has improved the position only of the wealthier francophones -which is what the PQ was always about in the first place. And the upward mobility for francophones in general has changed little.

Upward mobility in French Quebec has depended for centuries on fluency in both French and English. That fluency can be obtained only in the private schools - which are the schools of the richer member of Quebec society. The Francophone public system has always been designed for the working class - and pretty much designed to keep them working class. The Quiet Revolution of the 1950s and 60s made some improvement in that - but not nearly enough.

Result? The Bombardiers and the SNC-Lavalins of Quebec have made enormous wealth. So have their lower compatriots in the professions and in the corridors of big business. But the PQ feels, and rightly so, that its promises of help to the working class no long carry much weight.

So it needs hatred and paranoia to win. Thus the recent promise to ban religious garb (like scarves) for workers in the public service. (But crucifixes will be okay, of course.) That's a major plank in their platform.
(and just guess what the chances are of a Moslem getting a job in the Quebec civil service, anyway.)

Thus the pumping up of fear that French is disappearing in Quebec, and the promises to tighten the language laws even more. (In fact, the bigger danger to the language is the use of English in major Quebec corporations. They have made it clear that they will not tolerate any interference in their importation of unilingual anglos. SNC-Lavalin has just hired a unilingual American as president. When the PQ told Bombardier it would have to hire French-speaking engineers, Bombardier told it to get stuffed.

So the PQ has to run on hysteria and hatred of "the others". And that may well win because Quebec has a rich tradition of both.

And that may well mean another referendum. I was closely involved with the last one - and the level of fraud was massive. Record numbers of ballots were disallowed - in anglo polling districts. There were separatist districts in which the number of 'yes' votes actually exceeded the total number of voters. All demands for recount were refused and, just to make sure, all the ballots were destroyed.

That was the referendum in which the separatists reputedly came close. And that will happen again.

At best, it's a tough choice for voters. Charest runs a hopelessly corrupt government. The fact hat it is been hopelessly corrupt for decades, including the PQ years, doesn't matter. Charest is the one on the block now. Many will vote PQ on that alone.

We may well face another referendum. If we do, it will certainly be rigged like the first two.

This is dangerous to all of Canada. The other provinces will not tolerate further antics, especially with Quebec getting so much of their tax money. And the idea of a bare majority walking off with a whole province is absurd. Indeed, since any such majority would also not be a real one, the chances for violence in Quebec would be very high, indeed.

A federal P.M. of any wisdom would insist on federal supervision of any such referendum, and would ensure that any separation would be limited by the size of the vote.

Alas! We have Harper.

Oh - Mitt Romney conducted two, foreign fund-raising tours for his presidential election campaign. One was a reception in London for which invitations were a minimum of $2500 per person. The other was in Israel, where he raised a million from 20 to 30 "guests".

I have heard of only two American candidates who have ever done this - Bush and Romney. I have never heard of any other  leadership candidate in any country who has gone to a foreign country to campaign for funds. How could any news medium fail to comment on this?

US elections are now (and have been for some time) so expensive that only billionaires can afford to pay for them. And you cannot win - or even  come second - unless you are the choice of billionaires.

So much for democracy. So much for the idea that all men are created equal.

Monday, August 20, 2012

August 20: Another empty day in the Moncton Times

For the third day, there is a front page story about people flying kites - along with one and a half pages of pictures of kites for those who don't know what one looks like. D1 has the big news that Rihanna still misses her ex-boyfriend. This is a newspaper that almost screams, "My readers are fools. My purpose is to feed them trivia so they will have no idea what is happening in the province or the world, and so they will think "corporation boss" means "philanthropist".

For more trivia, check out the editorial, and the op ed page.

There are only two sections worth reading. There is Alec Bruce's column, light but well written; and which really does have a point. Then there is a letters to the editor page that is the best I have ever seen in this paper. Obviously, New Brunswickers have more brains than the Times and Transcript gives them credit for.

Then there is the main headline, the inevitable bilge about the raid on Dieppe. It was indeed a tragic event, and we really should know a great deal more about who died there, and why they died. But I also think we should learn from history, not just babble platititudes about it.

The sacrifice did not preserve freedom of any sort in Canada. Freedom in North American was never threatened in World War Two  (or One, or the Boer War, or by any other war since 1812.) There has been damage to our freedom over the years. But it's been caused by our governments, and by news media that withhold essential information from us.

And be careful about the story that we learned crucial German codes at Dieppe. Harper will play that tune for the kind of people who support him. But that's a story that needs a lot of testing and historical debate before being accepted.

What we do know about the causes of Dieppe are these.
1. Churchill needed some spectacular event for morale.
2. British troops were already stretched pretty thin.
3. Canadian troops were available, were well trained after two years in Britain, and had seen no action.
4. They had seen no action because Prime Minister Mackenzie King didn't want them to. He didn't care about lives. He was afraid that any losses would force him to introduce conscription - and he feared that would cost him the next election.
5. He was assured by Churchill that any losses at Dieppe would be small. So he agreed to release the Canadian troops.
6. Lord Louis Mountbatten, planner of the raid, had no experience or competence to plan such a raid. Already promoted way over his head because he was a Lord and was closely related to the Royal Family (he was Prince Phillip's uncle), he was a disastrous choice to plan a raid. (But this would not prevent him from  getting even greater promotions later one.)
7. The raiding force was detected by the Germans before it got to Dieppe. There was a fire-fight, and the German garrison was alerted. When the Canadians landed on a narrow beach funneled by cliffs, every piece of that beach was already covered by machine guns and artillery. Planners should have realized that - and the raid should have been called off as soon as the force was spotted.

This is certainly an event we should remember and should mourn. But we could do without the babbling of the usual speakers at our remembrances. Those who died at Dieppe deserve, at the least, to be remembered for  how and why they died.

In the absence of anything in the Times and Transcript to comment on, the following points are some jottings I made yesterday.

1. Probably the most honest newspaper available in the English language (and one of the most intelligent) is the Israeli paper, Haaretz. You can get it on Google.

According to Haaretz, polls show that a large majority of Israelis is opposed to any attack on Iran. Many don't believe that Iran is developing a nuclear bomb (it almost certainly isn't); and they believe the attack is planned for other reasons. (And they're right.) The Israel military leaders agree with the majority, some even of the opinion that Netanyahu is mentally unbalanced.

So why is this very minor leader able to lead Obama (and Harper) around by the nose? Because there is a very powerful and well-funded Israeli lobby in North America, that's why. Say a word against Israeli policy, and that lobby accuses you of being an anti-Semite. Many of my friends who are Jewish and Zionist have been accused of being anti-semites because they oppose Netanyahu.

Thanks to Netanyahu, the Middle East may, at any time, become chaos with the potential to touch off World War Three.

2. What is the western policy in Africa and the Middle East? To bring democracy? Get real.
Most countries in the middle east are bits of patchwork drawn onto maps by the western powers a hundred years and more ago. Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq have all been, at best, fragile. The purpose of the West is to make sure they don't become real and united countries. If they did, they would have the strength to resists western intrusions and exploitation. Breaking them up keeps them weak. That's why Libya still doesn't have a functioning government - and it won't. That's why the west happily supports non-democratic groups in Syria and Lebanon.

3. Watch for an extremely low election turnout in the US. The possibility of a Romney/Ryan victory inspires terror - as it should. But Romney has immense funding from the corporate world.  (With a hundred million Americans on some form of welfare, John Ryan says the answer is to further cut taxes for the rich who are already enjoying their greatest profits in history.)

But Obama has been a dreadful disappointment - and he's funded by much the same people as Romney. And there is no, realistic third choice.

A record low turnout would almost certainly have terrible consequences for the US. On the other hand, it's hard to see a turnout that would offer anything useful.

4. There has been a wave of murders of American trainers by Afghan troops and police. Some news sources say these are Taliban who join the training programmes to steal weapons. Those sources should listen to the American generals who said yesterday that they are not Taliban. They are from the tribes who are, supposedly, on our side. This is where multi-trillion dollars, over ten years of war, and tens of thousands of dead have taken us. And the people behind this disaster are still influential - and see nothing wrong with their policies.

And there is still no reason to believe that anybody in Afghanistan had anything to do with 9/11.

9/11 has led to at least eight wars, only two of them officially declared. It has killed well over a million people,and driven uncounted millions of Americans into hopeless debt for generation to come. So what's it all about?

Google- Project for the New American Century. They said it. Not me.

5. Harper promised a year of intense scientific study before approving the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Scientists said it would take more time. But Harper insisted on one year. Now, just to make sure, he has gutted the budget for research on the project.

6. Ever read Paul Craig Roberts? You really should.

No, he is not a terrorist front. In fact, his credentials are pretty good, and very much pro-American in the best sense of that term.

He's been a high official in the Department of Finance, and a very respected journalist for The Wall Street Journal (which is not a terrorist front, either.)

7. The Moncton Times and Transcript does not seem interested in the Quebec election. that's too bad, because this is one that could have a serious impact on all of us. This one is really dangerous.

But this post is too long already. I'll save it for tomorrow.

oh, some will read this post and say I'm anti-American. I suppose they might also say I'm anti-Canadian for criticizing Harper, or anti-New Brunswick for criticizing Alward.

But the fact is, it is not Americans or Canadians or Quebeckers or New Brunswickers who are doing wrong. It is American and Canadian and Quebec and New Brunswick corporations and politicians that are doing

And if you think that makes me anti some corporations and some politicians - you're damn right I am.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August 18: A very mixed bag....

There's everything from excellent to puerile in today's Moncton Times and Transcript. So let's get the crap out of the way to go on to what's worth talking about.
1. There is no news whatever on anything of importance to Moncton or the province. (Unless, of course, you    just can't get enough of pictures of kites, and stories about dogs coming home.)
There is, to be fair, a picture and brief story about Roy McMullen who is running for leadership of the Green Party. But there is not a hint - and never has been - about why anybody in New Brunswick would be interested in green issues. After all, we all know that there are no problems whatever with shale gas; and New Brunswick has the toughest standards for shale gas drilling in the whole world. So what could possibly go wrong?

2. Reuters' account of the diplomatic crisis over Julian Assange and Wikkileaks is almost incoherent. It didn't even have a mention of what must be Assange's greatest concern for what could happen to him. An army private who is alleged to have helped him with the  Wikkileaks, private Bradley Manning, was imprisoned by the US government over a year ago without charge or trial.  He has suffered over a year of solitary confinement and torture - with UN rights officials not permitted to see him. He is now being tried before a military court (which accepts evidence gathered by torture, and whose rules are so loose that the accused is almost invariably found guilty.) Private Manning can expect to spend the rest of his life in prison for the crime of showing that US presidents have consistently lied about the reasons for Iraq and Afghanistan - as well as many other things.  But don't worry your head about it. It's not a story you are likely to see in the TandT. There are too many kites to report on.

3. (Bill) Belliveau lectures lobster fishermen that they, as independent businessmen have to learn that the market dictates the price of goods. So they shouldn't expect government help.

Bill, I would have a hell of a lot more respect for  you if you were to write a lecture like that for the billionaire who owns the newspaper you write for. Meanwhile, I can only assume that the words "in depth" under your name indicate you are prepared to sink very low, indeed.

So much for the crap.

There is a superb column by Gwynne Dyer on what this hot and dry summer is going to mean as millions are going to starve for want of the price of a meal. (Perhaps we can send Bill Belliveau among the starving to spread the comforting, Holy writ that "Market dictates price of food commodities".

There's a good column by Brent Mazerolle on the Dieppe raid and, on p. B1, a fascinating news story about it.

I can add a little bit to Brent's column (not a correction, just a footnote.)

One of my professors (and the supervisor of my doctoral dissertation) was a brilliant man who was the leading authority on Mackenzie King (prime minister in World War 2). He was also close to King for many years. He is relatively unknown because he published very little of what he knew. But he shared his knowledge generously with scholars who gained fame as a result. And he shared it with us students.

Mackenzie King approved of the disastrous Dieppe raid. He also approved of the even more terrible sending of two thousand Canadian troops to Hong Kong, an indefensible colony where those 2000 Canadians would die in the fighting, or of disease and abuse and starvation in prison camps - or would return to Canada forever shattered in body and mind.  Why did King do that?

The prime minister wanted only one thing in life - to be prime minister. And, related to that, his greatest fear throughout World War Two was that Canadians would be killed.

No. He didn't care about it for the sake of Canadian soldiers. He did it because in World War One, Canadian losses had forced PM Borden to introduce conscription for military service. That destroyed the Conservative party for the best part of a half century. King was determined to avoid casualties - because casualties could mean conscription. And conscription could mean that he would lose the next election.

He sent troops to Hong Kong because that gave the impression he was helping in the war effort but, since he was assured Hong Kong was a safe place to be, there would be no danger of being forced into conscription.

Brent Mazerolle's account is quite correct. Just add to it King's motivation. He had been assured that casualties would be minimal. So there would be no conscription - and he and the Liberal party would survive. (There is a p.s. to the story. Late in the war, King did have to introduce conscription. But it was so obvious that he had postponed it as long as he could that he didn't suffer for it.)

My attention was caught, as well, by a news story on Dieppe.

The story on p. B1 is about a researcher named O'Keefe who says he has discovered that Dieppe was really  a cover for another raid that was a huge success in breaking German intelligence.

(In fairness and pure ego, I  have to admit it was the name O'Keefe that caught my attention. In my days at Concordia, I taught him military history. He was one of many, excellent students I  had who were officers in the militia. Taken as a group, they were a very bright bunch, people all Canadians can be proud of.)

It's too early yet to be sure of the importance of O'Keefe's theory. But it looks promising.

As to the importance of lessons learned at Dieppe, I disagree with that as I disagreed with O'Keefe so many years ago. You land troops on an open but narrow beach with impossible natural barriers, and manned by an enemy that knows you are coming, and makes the beach a wall of machine-gun fire and blasting try to run tanks up a steeply sloping beach covered in loose gravel..and they can't do it.....

Any military planner who needed to learn those lessons is a person who shouldn't be allowed to go to the bathroom by himself.

The great problem is that the planner of that raid was Lord Louis Mountbatten, a celebrated war figure, one who would go on to even higher command - but hopelessly out of his league in any military situation.

Friday, August 17, 2012

August 17: The blog I hoped.........

....I would never have to write. It's about a major story that did not appear in The Moncton Times and Transcript. In fact, no major story appeared anywhere in this most trivial and vapid edition of a newspaper I have even seen. The only item of any note is a photo in Section B, p. 1, of Harper showing pride in his pregnancy.

It won't change any reactions to what I'm going to say - but I'll tell this, anyway.

I grew up and lived a member of a minority. Because I was a member of a minority, I was beaten be gangs, denied police protection, denied jobs. I grew up in a hysteria of bigotry, hatred, ignorance, abuse, much of it supported by the politicians, by the education system, and by the Roman Catholic church.

Others, such as Blacks, Chinese, Jews, had it worse - and had it worse from both French and English. Quebec always has been and still is a thoroughly bigoted and racist province in English, in French, and in both official languages. In the 1930s, it had thriving fascist and Nazi movements. The fascist headquarters, Casa d'Italia, was just a few blocks from my home. (Years later, I would drop into the coffee shop owned by the local Il Duce to get matchbooks with a picture of him and Mussolini on the cover.) The Nazi party's Deputy Fuehrer was a  relative of mine. (Check it in google. Dr. Noel Decarie.)

For a dozen years or more, I was on the provincial executive of Alliance Quebec, the anglo rights group, the last several of them as Vice-President and Chairman. I've gone through interviews with a deliberately lying and hate-mongering French press, through riots, through arson of our offices - all of it to the indifference of the Montreal police. It was a province it which it was virtually impossible for an anglo to get a civil service job - not even as a garbageman. Nor would becoming bilingual help. You had to be pur laine - a native born Quebecois of French stock.

If you are the latter in Quebec, you have the right to a job as, say, nurse in an English school - even if  you cannot speak a word of English. I have spoken at a provincial conference of teachers who teach English at  French schools. Many, very many could not carry on a simple conversation in English. At the other extreme, I knew a woman, French born, raised with French as her first language, fluent in English, trained in it, hired to teach English in a French school - then fired because it was discovered she had gone to an English high school. No more pur laine for her.

I grew up as a "honglish pig". Oh, I had the right blood, that of one of the founding families of Montreal. The godfather of the first Decarie born in the new world was Paul de Maisonneuve, the founder of the city. The godmother was Jeanne Mance, a towering figure in Quebec history.

But Quebec nationalism has always been a thoroughly racist movement. It still is. I left Quebec as soon as I retired. All that lingers is a hatred of racisim - and a contempt for the Canada that deserted us.

I should add that I had also come to understand that Quebec nationalism is a combination of ignorance, bigotry - and hypocrisy. The French working class got nothing from it. The ones who did get something - a lot - were the wealthy French. And that's what the nationalist movement was all about in the first place.

I came to New Brunswick because - I liked it. The people are universally polite; the cities are a handy size; and the wilderness is next door. It's true that some of the English are dreadful bigots - and there's an undercurrent of that bigotry that I find bothersome - but those English have nothing like the influence of Quebec's nationalists.

I like the Acadians. Hell, as a member of a minority I know what it's like to be in a minority. And I remember well the intolerance and the bullying by the English in Moncton of forty years ago. As well, I get the impression that Acadians are more intellectually active and involved  and progressive than anglos are.)

So what got me on to this rant? It began with the news story (one of many) that is not in the TandT. The Parti Quebecois has announced a policy of banning religious symbols in the work place. Significantly, all the religious symbols mentioned are non-Christian ones, the moslem head scarf, the Sikh turban, the Jewish yarmulke. (Of course. I mean, who could object to a cross with a dead Jesus on it?)

It's against the Charter of Rights. But that's no problem. The PQ will just use the notwithstanding clause - as it did with the English. It's purpose? Obvious. It's to stir up a sort of race hatred in the name of protecting a culture, while really further enriching a wealthy elite class of Quebecois. The PQ is as intellectually and morally corrupt as Jean Charest's Liberals.

So why should I care? Because I have noticed that the language of political discussion among Acadians is often the language of Quebec nationalism. I guess that's not surprising, given the influence of Quebec media, as well as Quebec professors and students at l'U de M.

It's a language that encourages hatreds and extremism. It's language that makes our case a struggle of language when it is really a struggle of majority and minority. That's not the same (though it would take another unreadable blog to explain that.) The situation in NB would be the same if the majority spoke a Mongolian dialect, and the minority spoke Fiji.

When you say the problem is French against English, then you necessarily typecast the French and victims and the English. (What you typecast them as depends on which side you're on.) Ultimately, that makes the debate personal, ugly, and damned stupid, with the morons on each side the only possible winners.)

I hear "The English in Quebec are the best treated minority in Canada." That is very much a statement from Quebec - and it is disgusting nonsense from people who can't even name all the minorities in Canada, and have no idea of how they are treated.

New Brunswick has a way to go, it's true. But it is leagues ahead of Quebec in its treatment of minorities. New Brunswick can have a French premier. Quebec has NEVER had an English premier (and only one, Protestant one). Moncton has a French Mayor. Montreal, despite its large English population, has not had an English mayor in over a century. And you would have to go back almost a century to find an anglo police chief. And if you want to see an anglo or a Black or a Jew or a moslem or a Sikh don't waste your time searching through the ranks of the Quebec provincial police.

Then I hear babble about preserving a culture. There is no such thing a preserving a culture. In fact, no culture has ever been defined, not even in Quebec. And, whatever it may be, no two people on earth share exactly the same culture.

What bothers me is that this influence is damaging to Acadians. It sends them out on false trails. It pushes them into losing fights. Worse - it sets them up to be used by the Parti Quebecois and its rich friends as they are also trying to use franco-Ontarians.

I know. Both sides will hate me for this. Well, it's try.