Thursday, November 22, 2012

Nov. 22: .. let's talk a bit about.....

....what isn't in today's Times and Transcript.

About a week ago, the World Bank released a report it had commissioned. to a respected scientific body. The report says we could see disastrous (meaning tens of millions of deaths, enormous storms and storm surges as early as 2060. If we act immediately and with a sense of emergency, we might  have just enough time to slow things down, giving us a little more time to preserve the planet.

It also links global climate change to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere produced by the burning of fossil fuels.

The story appeared in the Wall Street Journal and several business magazines. But not much in the press, and certainly not in the TandT. You can find it by googling World Bank climate.

Harper doesn't believe in climate change. His great plan is to export oil to China which would be a very good idea - if China were on a different planet. The energy industry is already beating its propaganda drums to discredit the World Bank.

Meanwhile, a company called Lone Pine resources is suing Quebec under the terms of the NAFTA agreement, terms which let a company do that if a government does something that might limit its profits. Quebec's sin is that it imposed a moratorium on shale gas drilling, fearing it might poison the environment as well as human life. Oo-o-ooh, you're not allowed to protect human life if it might affect a company's profits. (New Brunswickers will understand that very well as they watch the shale gas industry storm ahead in this province with the cooperation of our Quisling press and government.)

Meanwhile, Harper is promoting a trade bill with China which is even worse. It takes jurisdiction of such a case right out of the country. (We haven't seen much of this treaty, either, in the TandT.)

The energy industry  (with kisses from people like Harper and Alward) doesn't give a damn about human life or even survival of the planet. It is concerned only about now (now meaning three months at a time) and profit. It has killed people by the millions in places like Iraq and Syria to get its oil. It has sponsored some of the worst dictatorships in the world - as in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.  But you won't learn much about that, either, in the TandT.

Meanwhile, with gasoline threatening the survival of the country, Moncton's development plan appears to be expecting the world of the automobile to go on forever. It's big plan for downtown is more parking space. And it admits it doesn't have the faintest idea of what to do about mass transit.

It knows what it wants to do about unions, though. It plans to break them - starting with bus drivers and firemen. (It has announced it opposition to plans to offer wage arbitration to firement). After all, it needs the money to build a hundred million dollar hockey rink.

It has another editorial on that rink today. (And that means somebody we all enormously respect wants that hockey rink built.) I note this editorial is not written in the TandT's usual village idiot style. So perhaps they've done what they did with Dr. Cleary, go to some commercial propaganda (excuse me - communications) experts.

So - just for laughs - could we ask if council would share with us how much it will really cost to build this thing, to clean the land, to pay the loan with interest, to maintain the building.... How much will it cost per ratepayer? What return can we expect on all that expenditure? (real numbers). And while you're reading their promises, try not to think of Montreal's expo stadium -empty for years, and now rapidly crumbling.

Those who want to know what's really important in the news can expect the Prosser trial to be the headline for as long as the trial lasts.

Somebody please tell Brent Mazerolle (section A, p.2) that there is no such word as finalize. It is an ugly word used in business and political circles as part of their attempt to make everything they do sound far more important than it is.

In other news the TandT considers important, Daniel Craig (James Bond) is taking driving lessons, and Miley Cyrus has been told to cut her hair shorter. (I could have been worse. She could have been told to cut it longer.)

The TandT does have  a UN report on climate change. But as happens with UN reports, the tone is a good deal softer than that of the World Bank. It's also gentle on Canada. It doesn't mention that Harper, far from lifting a finger to help in climate control, is planning Canada's economic future to be based on more use of fossil fuels.

There's also a report, "Budget officer takes federal gov't to court", that is a chilling reminder of the future of Canadian democracy under Harper. The budget officer, appointed to maintain a non-partisan watch on government spending, has to sue the government to get the information it is supposed to provide. In this, as in many other incidents, Harper is showing himself to be the biggest threat to democracy this country has ever seen. (If you don't agree, name a prime minister who was a bigger threat  - and why). And, with Obama moving in the same direction, it's going to get worse, much worse in Canada.

In the US Congress, at this moment, a bill is being amended to allow police to read anybody's private e mail with no warrant, no reason, and without the knowledge of the citizen. It's called the "Privacy Bill", amusingly enough. And it get worse, much worse.

Police forces in the US are now being equipped with drones to get information on everybody like, for example, you. The drones are able to identify faces, listen in on phone calls, all without warrants. It is hoped that they will, within a few years, be equipped to see through walls in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Can you think of a Canadian prime minister who might be interested in something like that?

And - good on it - the TandT has noticed the war in Congo. The UN has condemned the rebels for human rights abuses including murder and rape. Well, yes. Murder, torture, rape, slavery by the tens of millions have been standard in Congo for well over a century - most of it by our good friends in governments we have supported. Nice of the UN to notice it at last.

Gee. Maybe now they'll notice the murder, torture and rape carried out, notably by the US and Britain,in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nah. It won't.

There is a very interesting letter to the editor, "Duct-taped teacher popular with kids". I have no idea how accurate the letter is. But it does rate some thought. I have taught elementary and high school in all sorts of classes. Generally, I did not have discipline problems. I remember one class in which I had 35 students. It was in a district notable as a recruitment centre for violent gangs. In fact, two of my boys would be killed in gunfights with police before they were twenty. But few of these problems ever entered the class room. Except for one day.

A gangster wannabe (he was treacherous, lying and a troublemaker; but he lacked the guts and stupidity it takes to be a real criminal.) After dismissal, I strolled down the hall. I saw the boy with a woman teacher, a new one. Suddenly, both turned away - he for the door, and she in tears. So I said to the boy, "what's going on here?" He shouted, "fuck you" and kept heading for the door.

I suddenly felt it my Christian duty to help him out the door. Alas! It opened inwards. He bounced off, hit the floor, looked up, and said, "I'm sorry, sir."

It was wrong, of course, as wrong as tying kids together with duct tape. But it's one of those moments that will hit a great many teachers. If it's a habit, as it was with one of my teachers, an ex-boxer, who would routinely take out troublesome kids with a straight left, then that person should be disposed of.

But in this case? Maybe we should cool it. And maybe we should take a closer look at the two girls. It sounds as though they have a serious problem with themselves.

As for the editorial and op ed pages, be grateful for Alec Bruce and Jody Dallaire.

Norbert, once again, gives us expert advice based on a book he saw somewhere. Rod Allen tells about yet another of his remarkably uneventful days.


  1. It would be nice if you went in greater detail about Jody's columns, sometimes. Seems like you often dismiss the issues. Andie C.

  2. Well, there are two reasons I stay away from detail on the columns by Jody Dallaire, Alec Bruce, David Suzuki and Gwynne Dyer.

    These are good columnists. I want people to read them, not to read my summary of them. And I try to point out their general excellence in every blog - so much so that I often fear I'm overdoing it.

    The other reason is that my blog is not about subjects in the news. It is about how news is presented, and what to watch for in the presentation. (In fact, I once had to criticize Alec Bruce; and I still feel guilty about it.)

    I don't discuss Jody Dallaire's topics because she discusses them very well, indeed. And if you want to know what her ideas are, why waste time getting my few of them She's the one you should consult. Not me. She's the one who knows the subject. Not me.
    I sometimes slide into discussing the content. But I try not to. The blog is far too long as it is, and it eats up an enormous amount of my time. So I try to keep to a discussion of the newspaper rather than of the various topics covered in it.
    Anyway, I also stay away from women's issues because women make fun of me. They always have. And I hate them for it.