Saturday, November 3, 2012

Nov. 2: A long time ago, I got lost....

....while driving on a back road somewhere near Halifax. There was forest on both sides then, suddenly, a clearing on my right, and big house, isolated, gaunt and shabby, with a dreadful air of evil about it, like the opening scene of a horror movie. A huge sign, stark in its black lettering on a white background, covered most of the second floor. "Nova Scotia Home For Coloured Children".

I immediately thought of the sign on Dante's entrance to Hell, "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here."

It wasn't all that long ago - and it characterized the intense racism not just of Nova Scotia, not just of Atlantic Canada but of all Canada at the time. Of course, few Canadians noticed it; and most would have been indignant if anyone had suggested it. It took me years to  see the racism that, in fact, I had grown up with, a racism that extended to African-Canadians, Oriental Canadians, Jewish Canadians, native peoples... It was only later, working with people in those groups, that I learned how powerful and damaging it was and, frankly, often still is.

I thought of all this as I looked at TV footage just yesterday of charges of years of severe physical and sexual abuse as well as neglect at an orphanage. There was no mistaking the building on my screen. It was the old, Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children.

The story has not, of course, made today's Moncton Times and Transcript. But I just thought you should know.
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It also still does not have the story of the iron pyrites dumped into the waters of our West coast, though it was early yesterday that the UN announced it was gravely concerned about the effect of this. And they weren't talking of the effect it would have on the waters off one of the poorest native villages in Canada. They were talking of what it can do to their own waters.

There is extreme danger in private attempts to tinker with the environment by using chemicals, usually with no regulations or guidelines or supervision; but with effects all over the world that can be extremely damaging.

Harper (like Alward) is notoriously indifferent to what happens to our environment. But even he is feeling pressure to react in this case. Of course, he isn't actually doing anything about it. And the TandT isn't bothering to tell us, anyway.
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The TandT did notice that poverty is still growing in Canada, with over 800.000 Canadians, including many in low-paid jobs, now dependent on food banks.

Funny thing. Not many years ago, the western world was rolling in money. How could it all get lost like that? Answer - it didn't get lost. It still exists. Not a penny has been destroyed or burned or vanished into space. It's all still there, sitting in bank accounts held by the very, very rich - commonly offshore. That's why the very, very rich still show profits while so many others are lining up at food banks.

The TandT story  missed that good news. Across Canada, including NB, figures show the rich are getting richer. So, there's a sunny side. Let's not be negative.
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Way down at the bottom left of B7, is tiny story "Syrian video raises concerns". It refers to a video that "appears" to show rebels in Syria murdering captives. "Appears"? I've seen the video. to say it appears to show rebels murdering captives is like saying a porn flick appears to show kissing.

It if had been government troops, Reuters would not have used the word appears. That's part of the subtle language that news services use to play down a story they can no longer ignore. "Appears" softens the message. It hints that it may not be true. I looked this story up in several papers; and I noticed all them used 'appears' or a similar sort of word.

Then it says UN officials and human rights groups still see government forces as the worst rights abusers. Well, yeah. But that depends on WHICH UN official and human rights groups you are talking to. Almost the only human rights group that Reuters ever refers to is a one-man organization working for the rebels.

In any case, when you see abuse on this scale, does it really matter which side is worst? I mean, is there a trophy or something for being worst?

As always, Reuters has little to say  about the wholesale slaughter of Christians in Syria by the rebels. And the TandT has had nothing to say about it.

Nor does it mention reports that the rebels who are fighting out of patriotism are over eighty percent foreigners, many of them mercenaries paid by freedom loving democrats like the king of Saudi Arabia.

Then there's a line about the US government working to set up a rebel government it can work with. Oh? If people are fighting for democracy, why should they have a government the US wants them to have? Isn't it the idea of democracy that you choose your own government?

Then the story says, in another hint of government brutality, that the uprising began peacefully. The implication is clear that what sent it out of control was government brutality. There is no mention that the peaceful demonstrations began with encouragement from freedom-loving Saudi Arabia and the emirate dictatorships. It became violent when they supplied the peaceful demonstrators with weapons, money, and mercenaries. The US and other western countries supplied intelligence, propaganda, indirect and sometimes direct help through special ops.

This, like Libya, is a proxy war, this  one fought largely on the rebel side by non-Syrians. It's a war being fought to benefit US foreign policy.  Libya is now a mess. Syria looks much worse because good news services point out the the majority of the rebels now seem to be Islamic Jihadists, perople like Al-Quaeda. That's why Obama is not eager to see a quick victory for the rebels; and that is why he wants to reconstruct the rebel leadership.

But you would never guess any of this from the Reuters report. Nor will they or the TandT tell you about the demonstrations and killings going on among our friends in Saudi Arabia and the emirates.
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The editorial is on the MacLean's university rankings. I have taught at all levels of education from grade seven to graduate school. I have taught in at least a couple of universities that MacLean's ranks highly. I can tell you that the MacLean's rankings are a crock. There is no such thing as a 'best' university.

The editorial says ranking have much to do with the qualifications of the teaching staff. Qualifications for what? In all of Canada (and the US), I would doubt whether one percent of university professors have any teaching qualifications whatever. Certainly, the level of teaching skill in universities (on three continents) that I taught in was appalling.

The MacLean's ranking is a pseudo-scientific gimmick put together by magazine editors to sell their magazine. It's been very successful in that respect. The damage it has done to universities has been enormous. Never good teaching institutions in the first place, they find themselves scrambling, desperate for students, to get high scores that will please magazine editors who know nothing whatever about education.

Now, the editor thinks the universities should also be measured by the wealth they create. Damn right. Everything has a price. Universities are wasting a lot of money on people who are economically worthless to us. I mean, who makes a buck out of clergy? Or out of deadweight literary figures like the bronze guy sitting on a bench outside the Moncton Library? Or out of political science grads who go into silly political parties that have no connection with big money? We have too many smart people who have wasted our education dollar by thinking about useless stuff where the world is going and what we should do about it.

Anyway, we're on the right track. Corporations and MacLean's have so taken over our universities that we'll some be producing nothing but young people who never think of anything at all but 'creating wealth'.
Glory. Glory. Hallelujah.
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Important column by Bill Belliveau on the editorial page. It's especially important because it's on a topic we will have to live with - at great risk - for over thirty years if Harper get his way. It's important to read Belliveau's column because this miserable newspaper has never even carried what might be the most important story of the year for Canadians.

As usual, the weak parts of the editorial and op ed pages are in the stunning ignorance of the editorial writer, and the utter irrelevance of Brent Mazerolle's offering.
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Oh - a curiosity puzzles me. This blog is about a small newspaper in a small city in Canada. It draws quite a decent audience which is, I presume, mostly New Brunswick. But it draws an audience from the US which is almost as big, and growing. I can understand there are people who accidentally hit the site -like my readers in China. But my American readership is large, consistent and growing.

Why? Why are American interested in a small city paper in Canada?



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