Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Oct. 9:

Section A is the usual series of trivia. There is the daily story on the Oland mystery, with its daily message that there is still nothing much to say about it. But a few items caught my eye. One is the Legs for Literacy headline.

A piece of well-meant advice to the reporter on this one. Legs for Literacy is not an easily decipherable term. What do legs have to do with literacy? It's kind of important for readers to have a basic knowledge of the topic from the start. But it's not until the end that I learned that this is a fund-raiser for literacy programmes in our schools. Without that knowledge all we are reading about is people running around for no very clear reason. The purpose of the run is surely the major feature of that story. But not many people are going to read far enough to know or to care what it's all about.

Actually, this advice should go to the person responsible for the layout of the story - the editor. But I didn't address it to him because I have doubts about the literacy skills of the editors.

And, surely, the story raises another question. Why is it necessary for volunteers to raise money so that we can have adequate literacy skills in our public schools? Despite our budgetary problems, we seem to have lots of money to toss at a hockey rink and at tax cuts. Tell you what...

Why don't we fund our schools properly and make the rich pay adequate taxes in the first place? Then we can ask for volunteers to run so we can build a hockey rink and help Irving and co. with paying their taxes?

Page 1 had another education story that caught my eye, this one a programme to help high school dropouts to finish high school, and get established with jobs. This programme (Alas! It is offered by only one district, Anglophone East) is a superb idea. I speak with both experience and emotion on this issue since I was a school dropout whose whole life was changed by just such a programme.

Again, though, I have to wonder about it. Why is such a valuable programme available only in one school district? Here is a programme that not only opens a new life for the student, but benefits the whole province for the rest of that student's life. It's been done in other provinces for almost a century. The New Brunswick government certainly distributes its money in some very odd ways.

In NewsToday, Reuters continues its usual,  misleading reporting on Syria. The emphasis this time is on claims of how the war must be ended by western intervention. Actually. such an intervention would almost certainly make things worse, plunging the whole region into turmoil. And all the while, there would be a much simpler way to end it. Cut off the money, weapons, and mercenaries that are making this war possible for the rebels.

Intervention will make this worse. The cure  is non-intervention. We, with the help of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the emirates, UK, US created this war by intervening at the start with money, weapons, mercenaries, propaganda, training, special ops, etc. We could stop it tomorrow simply by unintervening.

But wouldn't that put rebel supporters at risk of retaliation? Yes, it will. And what do you think will happen to government supporters if the rebels win?

Our intervention at the start created a mess. We can't fix it. When you cry and stomp your feet and throw your supper on the floor, you can't fix it. The best you can do is to stop things from getting worse. More crying, stomping our feet, and dumping food by us will make things worse.

But we will continue to intervene and to make it worse. You can bet on it.

There's also a story on a report from the Broadbent Institute that's worth reading. (Of course, since the story comes from Postmedia, it has to load the dice a little by referring to the Broadbent Institute as 'left-leaning'. Postmedia and it's hangers-on like the Irving press never refer to the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies or the Fraser as right-leaning, even though those two lean so far right, they are lying down.)

The report is that the distribution of wealth in Canada is out of control, is worse than almost any other country in the world, that as most Canadians are getting poorer, the rich are piling up wealth. There's not much doubt about that. The government's own statistics have been showing that for decades.

It also points out that countries with a better distribution, like Germany and Sweden, are doing better in recovering from the recession, that they have less mental illness, live longer, less obesity, and less homicide.

Gee! I really must go to the Irving Chapel, and prayerfully reflect on that.

The editorial is another tough-minded, get-to-the-bottom-of-things article that is also a free ad for the wine festival. A must read.

Norbert has a three part column today.
Part 1. funny. It's another rant against CBC, this time for not asking enough questions in a news story. This comes from a newspaper which thinks that a question mark is just an upside down drawing of a coat hanger.

Part 2. is a blame the government rant. It also shows a certain ignorance of the English language. It's about the cost of flying which Norbert get mixed up with democracy.  Deciding which airplane to fly on is a choice that has nothing to do with democracy. The term democracy refers to the process by which we choose and (occasionally) operate a government. Freedom refers to that degree to which we can  do as we choose. Deciding what airline to fly is a free choice, Norbert, not a democratic one.

Part 3 is a free ad for Future Shop.

Alec Bruce is brilliant. If you have only five minutes for the paper - read this one.

On op ed, Alan Cochrane begins with a reference to the old, Peanuts cartoon strip. That's the high point. If you care about the rest, then read it by all means. If you're interested in this, this is what will interest you.

Gwynne Dyer has an excellent and original column on reducing our reliance on nuclear weapons. This world has over 11,000 of them. What are the chances they will be used some day? Very close to 100%. And then they will never be used again.Nor will any part of this planet.

The small nuclear powers are no great threat. Even if North Korea were to fire its whole arsenal, the damage to the world would be relatively small; and it would be followed by the complete destruction of North Korea.

Will nuclear weapons continue to spread? You can bet they will. Every country wants one -  if only as a warning to the big powers that threaten them. And with that inevitable spread, there will inevitably be a country which will do something foolish - and it's very likely to be one of the big powers. Even as we read this, the US is deploying its forces for action against China. This is the US whose conventional forces could not beat little Vietnam, and cannot beat primitive Afghanistan. What would you guess its chances are in a conventional war against China?

I know that getting rid of nuclear weapons sounds crazy. Almost as crazy as keeping them.

Still no mention of the pollution under Highfield Square. Boy! Can't wait till Brent Mazerolle gets into one of them there tough scrums with him shouting questions at the city councillors. You don't fool with Brent, or with any of the reporters at The Moncton Times and Transcript.

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