Wednesday, February 29, 2012

March 1: or maybe Feb. 29...

I'm not sure what day this is for. I'm starting it late on Feb. 29 because I've just read an important column in Presse Libre de Moncton Free Press. You should read it, too. It's an excellent article on what privatization of water has done (and not done) for Moncton. And, since you're reading this in English, just google Moncton Free Press.

For my part, I can't resist using water privatization and all the farcical public/private projects (the P3s) of this province to put all these schemes into the bigger picture. That picture goes back to 1929 when capitalism collapsed.

Well, it really wasn't capitalism that collapsed. It certainly wasn't the capitalism of its founders. Rather, it was a perversion of capitalism, a corrupt and corrupting perversion of it, that collapsed. As the world sank into the misery of the Great Depression, it was only the rise of fascism in Italy, Germany and Spain that saved what was left of what we called capitalism. (If  you check North American newspapers of the 1930s, you will be surprised to see how many of the economic leaders had a great admiration for Hitler. Henry Ford, for example, gave substantial financial support to Hitler. Nor was he alone.)

Not everbody suffered in the depression. In fact, the very rich often did quite well out of it. For the situation in Canada, for example, read a government report, Report of the Royal Commission on Price Spreads and Mass Buying. Most of the very rich actually got even richer while others starved. (Notice the similarity with today?)

The Second World War, by creating jobs, eased us out of depression. But there was a price. In order to prevent unbearable levels of inflation and debt, governments had to impose strict controls on business. The result was the development of a highly skilled and effective civil service.

As well, to maintain morale  and win elections, the Liberal governments had to introduce some social legislation. (The did it as slowly as possible.) The general result was that Canada came out of the war with an efficient civil service, and the beginnings of some attempt to make sure that every Canadian had access to basic needs. It was all an accidental outcome of the war. But Canadians liked it.

As well, and contrary to stories you may here, business was so impressed by the effectiveness of the civil service, that it often sent rising executives to Ottawa to see how the civil service did it.

But big business soon became disturbed at the rise of regulation, of government ownership, of social spending. So it launched a campaign across North America to destroy confidence in government, and to privatize everything in sight so that private business could get its fingers into spending for roads, education, utilities, anything.

The major device was the "think tank". Some were legitimate research groups. But most were and are propaganda houses for big business. (As non-proft organizations, think tanks like the Fraser Institute and Atlantic Institute for Market Studies don't have to tell where their money comes from.  But there can't be much doubt about where it comes from. In the case of AIMS, people like the Irvings have been closely associated with the think tank from the start.)

So the think tanks hire people to grind out criticism of government,  to praise private busines, and to demand more privatization.  There's no trouble getting their views out to the public because the same people who finance the think tanks also also own most of the news media.  And, of course, they tart up their hired propagandists with titles like Research Fellow, Senior Research Assistant.....

About 20 years ago, the more extreme business leaders began calling themselves neo-conservatives. (Like everything else about them, the term neo-conservatism was hokum. There was nothing conservative about them. In fact, in some countries, they are called neo-liberals - though they really aren't liberals, either.)

These are people who really don't have any political philosophy. They are not driven by any principles of any sort. They are driven solely by greed.


In the case of water, for example, the World Bank, when asked to lend money to poor countries so they could build water and sewage services, would do so only if the services were to be run for private profit. The result was water so expensive that it often exceeded the price of food; and many people in those countries had to drink ground water as foul as their sewage (which, often, they couldn't afford, either.)

The growing privatization of public schooling in the US has been a disaster with the US now having by far the lowest rated(by the UN)  public education system in the developed world.

Weak government,corruption, and greed have combined in recent years to bring our economic system to the edge of destruction. Rates of povery in the US are at depression levels. But, just as in the 1930s, the earnings of the very rich keep rising.

The outstanding example of where this is taking us is a country which has all the things "neo-conservatives" admire - low taxes, almost all social services privatized (and therefore largely out of reach), big business dominant in government....  This country is their model of how to build prosperity.

And it's producing. You might well get your jeans and other clothing from this country. You certainly get your favourite tropical fruit from it. It's a great success story - for corporations which produce the clothing and the fruit.

The name of the country is Haiti; and it's the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

What corporate leaders are working at is a return to the world of the middle ages, with themselves as the earls and dukes and barons.  Whether they force their way into health care or education or utilities, their motives are always the same - greed, profit, power no matter what the damage to us or our children, and so obsessed by greed that they cannot see they are destroying themselves.

Private corporations are more efficient than the civil service? Really? Was the collapse of American banking a sign of efficiency? And if private corporations are so efficient, why didn't the banks go to private corporations to bail them out?

The process of private corporations taking over both political and economic control is very advanced in New Brunswick. One example of it is the P3 phenomenon, allowing private corporations to get their fingers into the taxes we pay.

A more striking one occured over a year ago, when Irving was prominent in forming a group, largely of corporation buddies, who grandly announced to our democracy that they would take over planning for New Brunswick's future.Then Mr. Irving condescended to tell us he had formed a coalition with the government. Well, if you don't believe in democracy, there's no point in beating around the bush, I guess. In a democracy, you cannot become part of a coalition unless you are a)elected by the people and b) invited to join. So much for democracy in New Brunswick.

Then his (unelected) group appointed people they said would advise the government on economic matters. Again, in a democracy it is up to an elected person, the premier, to decide who advises his government. But I guess the premier isn't keen on democracy, either, since he gave the group official status.

We now have a corporate executive for finance minister who is advised by corporations on what to do. Oh, and both the Liberal and Conservative parties in this province rely on private corporations for funding.

The process has gone so far that New Brunswick cannot possibly be called a democracy. What the people want couldn't matter less.

What we have is not democracy. It is a system called corporatism, which means a system in which people have government power not by vote but by virtue of their status in society. It is a system characterized by "extreme right wing, authoritarian... practices", "a contempt for democracy"."insistence on obedience to a powerful leader.." (No, not Allward.)

You can find my quotations above in the Oxford English Dictionary. They appear under the word "Fascism".

Yes, it can happen here. It is happening here.

Now, it's late, and I'm tired. So this will just make it as a February 29 edition.

Jan. 29:..rather better than usual....

The better than usual part was NewsToday. It's actually following the Ottawa election scandal, relying on reports from Postmedia. Now, not long ago, that would have been an instant warning that this news was not be trusted. However, things seem to be changing at Postmedia as the element of propaganda has lessened.

The Reuters contribution, foreign news, remains as bad as ever, heavily biased in favour of views shared by the western governments. For example, it says that the world is dismayed at the loss of 7,500 civilians killed by government forces. Oh?

Isn't this the same world that watched the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraq civilians without being concernd? The one that watch the killing of a couple of million at least in Vietnam and a quarter million in Guatemala and tens of thousands in Afghanistan? Is it China and its government which have killed some fifty million in the past fifty years? Is it Russia which carried out massive slaughter in Afghanistan?

Come off it. Very few give a damn who or how many get killed as long as it's somewhere else.

And why, in its 7,500 total for the dead does Reuters ignore how many have been killed on the government side? No civilians killed on that side?

There is horror that journalists have been killed? Maybe. But every major power, including the US, has a record of killing journalists it doesn't like. There's nothing unusual about it.

There's another interesting thing about it. We're not getting reports about those terrible Moslem extremists in Syria. Now, usually, that staple fare in the western press. Why not in this case?

Will, it might have something to do with the fact that Syria is a pretty secular state. The ones who want to make it more strictly Moslem are on the rebel side. And the extremely fundamentalist Moslem sountries are the ones like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates who are on OUR side. (But don't wait to read that in Reuters.)

Why is the Reurters report slanted? Because we're being softened up for intervention in the Syrian fighting. In fact, we've been involved from the start. Where do you think the rebels are getting their weapons and other supplies? Where to do you think rebel soldiers are getting their training?

There's an important story on p. C1 about how we plan to spend $500 million to train Afghan troops. That's a lot of money to spend on a war that was lost years ago. In these austere times, that's a lot of money to spend training soldiers who frequently use their new skills to shoot back at us.

The NewsToday section isn't great. But it can pass for acceptable (by North American standards)  in a small daily.

Section A is weaker, quite a bit weaker. there's not a mention of any of the hot issues facing us - Moncton High, Royal Oaks, shale gas  We are, however, treated to a full page of people shovelling snow,sliding in it, and of ploughs driving in it - pictures to be treasured by New Brunswickers who have never seen such things before.

Most amazingly, there was a huge, New Brunswick story that didn't appear. It comes from the Fraser Institute, just the sort of propaganda mill (think tank) the TandT loves to cite. The TandT had room for a story about the expansion of a local movie theatre (though it was buried in the paper, not leading the front page as these free ads usually are.) But they missed the big one.

A survey of mining CEOs all over the world - the whole world - chose New Brunswick as the best place to do business. In the whole world. Why, my goodness gracious,  They say New Brunswick has the very best regulations, very reasonable,very fair. And, hey, if you can't trust a mining CEO, who can you trust?

Well, it is a bit of fake perhaps. If you're a mine-owner, it's far better to do business in Guatemala where there is no minimum wage at all, virtually no taxes, no regulation, and where the government will kill any worker who complains.  Congo is at least as good, and has been for over a century.As for China, hold me back. You can work miners to death in China and you can pollute to your heart's content - and they do that, every year.

But if I owned a mine, I certainly wouldn't name Guatemala, Congo, or China as great places to do business.  It would look, you know, kind of phony. The Fraser Institute knows that, too. So they all opted for New Brunswick as Miss Mining World. Yep. Fair regulations. Well enforced. 'Cause that's the sort of thing mine owners look for. How could the TandT have missed such a story?

Oh, check out the big story in Section B, p. 1.  "Carmen Diaz in no rush to have children". What a relief that is to the whole city of Moncton!

p.s. a note for the editorial writer. Montreal was NOT Canada's biggest city until the referendum and Bill 101. Its decline began fifty years earlier, and had nothing to do with language. (However, I agree that legislating lanuage for business signs is a very bad idea, one that comes at a high price for no gain at all for anybody.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Jan. 28: variations on rich, like, cheat, steal....

Today, we'll start with a google game.. Go to google, search for rich lie steal cheat (possibly also unethical). Up will pop millions of sites. fascinating.

Right off the top you'll see a whole bunch of reports on a study released yesterday at University of California. It's attracted world attention in the media - but not in New Brunswick for some reason. Anyway, the report shows that the people most likely to steal, lie, cheat and to advocate unethical behaviour are not the poor, not those on welfare, not union members, no.... The lying, cheating scum of our world are the rich.  You know, the sort that the Moncton TandT likes to refer to as community leades and philantropists. It seems it's not the strikers who are liars and cheats. No, it's the owners who lock them out.It's not the protestors who are unethical. It's the people who claim a right to advise our governments. It's not the workers in our industries. It's the CEOs and the owners. And, of course, their mouthpieces of the Irvingmedia.

Gee! Who woulda guessed?

Funny how the TandT missed that story, since it seems to be one of the few papers in the world that did.

The Moncton Times and Transcript has at last learned that there is an electoral crisis in Ottawa. I guess they were waiting for the day when the headline was not "Conservatives caught cheating", but "Harper denies robocall charges".

Mind you, they're still a day behind the rest of the Canadian news media. The story now is that many more ridings than previously reported were involved in robocall schemes, perhaps 40 or more. As well, some opposition parties may have been involved. In fact,when I learned of possible opposition involvment, I thought the TandT would use the latter charge to confuse the issue. But it missed that whole part of the story. (Maybe its editors aren't rich enough to be really good yet at cheating, lying, and lack of ethics.)

It really doesn't matter who was using fake robocalls. What matter is that it happened. What matters is that this was a blow at the very roundatins of  Canadian freedom and democracy. (You know - those things that every November 11 we say our service people died for -  those things we don't seem to give a damn about from Novenber 12 to the following November 10.)

This isn't a time for pointing fingers. No matter who did it,a terrible wrong has been done; and the very legitimacy of our federal government is in great doubt.  Apparently, we can't rely on Elections Canada to do the job. What we need now, right now, is...
1. A full and public investigation of what happened, with a full and public report.
2.The immediate resignation of all mps in ridings in which improper interference occured.
3. By-elections in those ridings.
4. Suspension of further legislation until those ridings are filled. I know the problems of delaying legislation. But there is a bigger problem. We may find legislation which will profoundly affect us for years being passed (or defeated) because of votes of people who had no right to be there.
5. The preparation of very clear laws on the use of robocalls and other methods which have created this mess.

There is only one person who can make this happen. Stephen Harper. He can either lead this country, or he can try to hide what has happened by creating a fog of denials and counter charges.

Harper can either be a  leader, or he can be a liar, a cheat, and unethical. So far, he has chosen not to be a leader. We are damn fools if we allow him to do that.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Feb. 27: special addendum to regular blog for Feb. 27

The first Tuesday of every month, I have arranged for a current events group to meet at the library from 7-8 p.m.

I did this for 15 years at a library in Montreal where the average turnout was 200 to 300. But it's tough sledding in Moncton.

The Moncton Times and Transcript normally will not publicize it. As well, there seems to be no tradition in Moncton of serious, public discussion of public issues. With the biggest scandal I have heard of in Canadian political history now battering Ottawa, one that strikes at the roots of freedom and democracy, The Moncton Times and Transcript currently is not even carrying the story. Why is itthat Monctonians don't seem to care about these things? How could they have voted either Liberal or Conservative in the last provincial election when neither party had anything that could be called a platform? And how could a provincial and a federal election be held with almost no public meetings? How can one person exercise so much control over the daily lives of all of us? How can it be called a democracy when so few people get honest and adequate news, when no discussion occurs, when corporations can simply ignore our laws, and when a political party can directly interfere with out right to vote?

If I have misunderstood the passivity and indifference that seems to permeate this province, please enlighten as to me error.

It's discouraging. But I'm going to keep trying. The current events group meets at the library at 7 p.m., on Tuesday, March 6.

It would be nice not to be lonely at it.

feb. 27: Monctonians schocked to read storm missed them!!!

In the US, the news media are so corrupted and so given over to manipulating public opinion that a recent poll shows 70% of Americans believe Iran has a nuclear arsenal. (even though US intelligence agencies have publicy said it doesn't, and that they have no reason to believe it is even working on one.)

Much the same can be said of most Canadian news media. But the Irving media of New Brunswick beat them all. They don't print any news. Not even false news.

A big" news" item on the first page is that a storm forecast for two days ago didn't happen. And everywhere, I suppose, people asre  saying, "Did you know we didn't get a storm on the weekend?" ("No, honest, we didn't. It says so in the Times and Transcript.")

The big page one item is a children's hockey tournament - a free ad for a coffee shop. It gets not only a full page of section A, but four, full pages of colour pictures in the Sports section.

NewsToday has no interntional news at all. It's largely taken up with three (count them, three) stories about the Oscars.)

Even some of the news stories aren't news stories. Brent Mazerolle has one of his kiss-up specials on page one.  Moncton High School is to be rebuilt at a remote location.( This means that Moncton is going to be ripped off for huge costs to supply sewerage, water, and other services.)

"Wow!" says reliable Mazerolle, "MHS Plan  means growth for Moncton". The reason? Highway, water, sewage infrastructure will need to be improved (at Moncton's expense.). Well, if that is what growth means, let"s be the little city that really could. Let's build Moncton High at the top of Mount Everest.

The whole story is just a pitch for approval of a scheme that makes no sense at all. For openers, this is a pitch for building a major school in an area which is not yet even developed. The world, including Moncton, is facing a damned uncertain economic future. So what happens if the houses don't sell. What if a sudden jump in gas prices makes suburban housing less attractive? (And what if the new buyers don't produce large numbers of children for enough generations to make the school economic? (Living in an upscale house is not necessarily an indicator of virility.)

We're being suckered into a long term debt so that somebody else can make a quick term profit. Way to give a helping hand, Mazerolle, the friend of the downtrodden rich.

The intriguing part of this whole business is that nobody has even tried to show how this fits into the city's develpment plan. Is there such a plan? If so, was it really designed under the illusion that this is 1950?

This is like the half-wit decision to revive main street by bringing in more cars. Cars are what killed Main Streets all over the world. Reviving Main Street with cars is like reviving murder victims by shooting them. No city on earth has ever revived its Main Street by encouraging more sidewalk parking. Most sensible cities are working to eliminate cars from downtwon.

Nobody has even addressed the essential question. 1. Why should we want to revive the obsolete idea of a Main Street? Should we also rip up the asphalt roads and the sidewalks so we can go back to dirt roads and wooden sidewalks?

The editorial shows the usual obsession with increasing government revenue without taxing the rich, and without discussing who will pay - and what the cost to society will be. This is a province which depends on drinkers and gamblers for much of its revenue.

Now, I suspect that few billionaires booze it up very much - and very few line up for a turn at the dollar slots. So that means the government is relying for revenue from people who have relatively little to spare.

As well, the problems arising from addictive habits, problems both social and economic, are pretty costly. Has the government (or the editorial writer) considered those costs? So, in the final tally, are we making or losing money? Are we helping or harming our people?

Norbert Cunningham, once again, has read a book he doesn't understand, and written about it in a way that nobody can understand. Read. Enjoy.

Alec Bruce has a solid column on privacy  and how the internet destroys it ( and at great cost). He also mentions the dangers of government abuse of tapping into our privacy.

Meanwhile, the Moncton Times and Tribune continues to be the only daily news medium in Canada to ignore the biggest threat to Canadian democracy in our history. The scandal of recorded phone calls that were used to interfere in voting in the last federal election has now spread to at least thirty ridings. That means it's close to a certainty that Harper's election  victory was fraudulent.

The company that prepared and organized the calls has publicly admitted that it did so. It is a company close to the Conservative party, and it is an expensive one.

Harper's response has been to fire a very junior election worker.

1. It is not credible that  a junior election worker could authorize such a large expanditure. It is not credible that a company so close to the Conservative party carried out such a large job for the party without informing it.

2. This is contrary to election law. It is criminal. It's not a firing offence. It's a jailing offcnce.

3.It is so serious that it demands an immediate and very public investigation, something Harper has so far shown no interest in.

That's no problem in New Brunswick where you have an Irving press guarding the gate against any infornation that might sneak in. But news media in the rest of the country, awful as they can be, have some, higher standards.

And, of course, there is no mention of Syria where a war of unforeseeable consequences could be in the works.It could even affect Ottawa, New York, London, Mosdow, Beijing, and Moncton. Quite apart from the nuclear fallout, it could drive up the price of gas which would really hurt our annual old folks rock concert at Magnetic Hill.

Relax. Don't worry. Have a brew. Go to the Casino. Buy the Times and Transcript. Look at the pictures.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Feb. 25: Bo - ring...

Even by the  standards of Irving news, it is appalling that The Moncton Times and Transcript still has not carried or commented upon the story that the federal Conseratives illegally and anti-democratically interfered with voting in the last federal election. (Well, I guess you kind of lose interest in democracy if you want to keep your job with the Irving papers.)

Harper has, predictably, put the blame on the most junior election worker he could find - and fired him. Cased closed. And we won't even mention it isn't possible that that a junior worker could have been the decision maker for such a wide and expensive scheme. Or that the cost could go by unnoticed by more senior people - like the control freak Stephen Harper.

We have Harper for five years. He has only minority support. Now, it seems he doesn't even have that. The election was, quite likely, stolen.

To its credit, the Tand T did carry the story of how Defence Miniser Peter Mackay, with his own disregard for constitutional and democrattic process, ordered the armed forces to dig up dirt on a Liberal MP so so that MacKay could cover his own tracks in his scandalous misuse of a helicopter.

This is not just an embarassment. In a free, democratic and ethical country, this means a resignatin. If Peter MacKay has any sense of integrity, he will resign. If Harper has any, he'll demand a resignation.

 I'll believe it when I see it.

A fleahead and walking disaster since he entered politics, MacKay has yet risen to high position. It just goes to show how important it is to have lots of girlfriends to bemuse the press, and a father who was a prominent MP.

I have no illusions that New Brunswickers will get much interested in either of these stories. We have  a province and a news media that got themselves all bent out of shape when a school principal stopped the playing of O Canada. Remember that?

But it's also a province and a news media that doesn't give much of a damn about democracy, or about what we have built in this country. Nor is it much interested even in knowing. Mr Irving was able to publicly declare himself a member of the government, though he had never carred out the basic job requrement of getting elected. And nobody in the news media or, notably, in the premier's office said boo.

Just just make kids listens to  O Canada. That should do it.

I read where city council is going to allow street parking along Main. Way to fire, baby. That's the way to deal with the coming oil crisis and our dependency on the automobile. Why, the street in front of the Capital Theatre alone can hold six or seven cars. Boy, that'll pack'em in for the next big show.

As usual, the idea didn't come from the city planning committee/ It came from merchants, most of whom expect a boom in business from the single car at a time that will park in front of their door.

Why don't we scrap the city planning committee and just let developers and merchants do the planning? I mean, that's the way it works, anyway.  Even better, we could move the cars to open fields where there are no stores, just as we now move schools to open fields where there are no children.

Missing from the news? - well - the republican party candidates are such a national embarassment that their early poll numbers for support in a presidential election are the worst on record. Meanwhile, Obama is near a record low in popularity for a president. In other words, the major candidates in this presidential election year are all despised. Both parties are owned by major corporations, and just about everybody knows it. This could be, almost certainly will be, a very dangerous sitution for a democracy.

Added to that, there is every possibility that Israel will attack Iran before the election. That would force every candidate, Democratic or Reuplican, to demand a US war against Iran. (For our share, Harper has already committed us to such a war.)  Only a fool would even try to guess the consequences of that.

At the least, it would mean disastrous gas prices for all those cars parked on Main, and all those school busses rumbling out to Royal Oaks. At worst - American, Iranian, Russian, and Chinese fleets are already in position facing each other.

"This is the way the world ends.
Not with a bang, but a whimper."

Why can't the Tand T get this news? Anybody can find it in minutes on the web All the news services in the world are there. A newspaper pays a fee, and runs the story. Why can't the Tand T do that?
1. They probably have a cheaper deal with Postmedia and Reuters. The Tand T, after all, isn't really a newspaper. It's an advertising business. The news is there just to get people to look at the ads.
2.It's possible the TandT doesn't have any editors competent to select the important news.
3. It's also possible, even likely, that Mr. Irving doesn't want news that would make people think.

This isn't a newspaper. It's sedative.

P.S (two of them)
1. For Jana Giles in the "Whatever" section. it's not just kids who are frightened at the idea of being different from others, and who spend their lives trying to look, think and dress like everybody3 else. In that respect. us adults ae pretty gutless, too.That's why New Brunswickers keep voting in either Liberals or Conservatives. That's why you have to listen to O Canada every morning on a terrible PA system.
2. Whatever has an teenage advice column on p. F2. Today, it warns that beer is as addictive and as dangerous as any other other form of alcohol.
Gee. Compare that to a recent news story about how New Brusnwickers should be spending more at NB Liquor.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Feb. 24: The Moncton Times and Transcript Hits a New Low...

There is outrage in newspapers across Canada. But not to worry. The Irving papers of New Brunswick don't give a damn.

It's been known for a at least two days now that an Edmonton company with close ties to the federal Conservative party illegally interfered in the most recent federal general election. It's not a company that does this for fun. It charges a very high price for what it does.

What it does is to programme robot voices which claim to be from Elections Canada or from the Liberal party. The calls from "Election Canada" give false information on where to vote. The ones from "Liberals" are harassment calls designed to alienate and/or confuse anyone who is a Liberal.

This sort of business is big in the US where levels of corruption and ballot tampering have for a long time been so high that elections have become largely a farce.

Here in Canada, Harper has been moving in the American direction for some time. He has already changed election laws to hugely benefit parties (like the Conservatives) that really represent large corporations.Now, he gone directly into corruption of the whole voting process.

Yes, I will name Harper. He is the leader of the Conservative Party. He is responsible for the way it spends election money, and what it does with it. He is already looking for some junior party worker to throw to the wolves. But the reality is that this is spending on a very big scale. This was not authroized by any junior part worker.  And let us remember that Harper is the biggest control freak we have ever seen in the Prime Minister's office.

Minimally, we should be seeing a criminal investigation, and a full parliamentary inquiry. After all, this is not only illegal. It is also possible, even likely, that breaking the law is what gave Harper his majority. Minimally, a man honour would resign and recomment a new election.

But we don't have a man of honour at the head of our government.  Nor will we get anything like an adequate investigation. Remember the inquiry into Mulroney's corruption? What do you think would happen to you if you impropery took hundreds of thousands of dollars?

There gas been a fundamental attack on Canadian democracy. If we allow this to go on, there will be no Canada that any of us could take pride in living in.

And The Moncton Times and Transcript, far from probing into what has happened, hasn't even mentioned what it is.

Justin Trudeau was right. Under Harper, Canada is becoming a contemptible place. Canada is being destroyed. And, as we see it happening,  the front page headline in the Times and Transcript is that some Moncton residents are going south for the March break.

Across this country, we are watching the destruction of a democracy it took centuries to achieve. We are watching the creation of a police state at the hands of Harper. We are watching the gradual phasing out of findamental rights and services. You know, the ones that every Nov. 11 we piously thank our veterans for saving - even as we cut back on fundamental services for the veterans, themselves.

What a lying, greedy, corrupt, cheating, destructive world we are creating. And the only role of the Moncton Times and Transcript is to make sure we don't notice it. And to remind us constantly that Mr. Irving is a philantropist.  God bless his footprints that make holy the land he treads on.

Oh, there is a story that raises real concern. Front page. New Brunswickers aren't gambling enough. That goes with the concern they aren't boozing enough, either.

Speaking of churches, (as I was just a paragraph above) Moncton has more than the usual number of "clap hands for Jesus" churches scattered along its streets. Has it not occured to them that all this lying, cheating, corruption, exploitation is contrary to Christian teaching? Apparently not.

We are on the edge of a world war. We actively participate in torture and murder to keep our rich rich. Our reputation for environmental responsibility is in the toilet. Our political system, already fouled by big money, by legislation creating a police state, and now bt the throwing of elections, has largely ceased to have even a nodding acquaintance with democracy.

But the Irving Press is not easily pushed into panic mode. The big news for the day is that some people are going south for March break. That's what really matters.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

February23: Today, just about everybody.....

....except the Irving media had the big national story of the day. Just before the last federal election, automated phone calls were made to voters in targeted ridings across Canada. All were ridings in which the race between Liberals and Conservatives was close. The automated voice claimed to be from Elections Canada, and told recipients that their polling stations had been changed.  The result was confusion and anger as voters arrived to find no poll at the advertised location.  Many voters simply decided not to vote.

It is possible that this changed the election results to give Harper his majority.

Those calls have been traced to an Edmonton company with close connections to the Conservative Party.

Nor is it likely that this is the whole story. It is a reasonable guess that Conservative organizers knew of the phone calls, and so were able to give suitable advice to Conservative voters.

So much for Harper's respect for democracy. So much for the interest of the Irving media in keeping us informed.

Brent Mazerolle reported on the meeting of Moncton's of Moncton's Planning Commission to approve the building of a new Moncton High School at Royal Oaks. It's a very capably written news story.
You had to be there, though, to get the feel of it.

Most dismaying were the sketches of proposed housing and of the land layout at Royal Oaks. They screamed 1950s so loud that it was possible to imagine Ford Edsels on the streets.  The housing was, to put it gently, well, uncreative. Still, with all its faults, the plan could have possibilities for tourism.

With pioneer villages drawing tourists all across North America, a 1950s village might work. It could have a drive-in movie theatre, a drive-in juice and chips stand with the waitresses on roller skates....
It could even be named after a TV show of the time - Father Knows Best Village, Leave it to Beaver Village....and all the TV sets could show reruns of episodes from Have Gun, Will Travel,...and outdoor speakers playing the hits of Frankie Avalon. Has it not occured to any of the TandT's ace editors that there's a bigger story in this?

Section A of the paper is normally devoted to local and provincial news. But for some reason, it frequently also has a national or internation story. This time, it's a story about an anouncement by federal defence minister and expense account magnate Peter Mackay that we may soon reduce our training role in Afghanistan.

Now, a nation sends out its soldiers to risk death or lifetime injury only when it is vital to the defence of the nation. There was nothing in Afghnistan that was vital to Canada. Harper effectively admitted that when he pulled out of the combat role. MacKay has now underscored it with the suggestion we reduce even our training role.

There never was any good reason to go to war in Afghanistan. It was done simply to please Canadian corporations which wanted to please US politicians.

We might remember that next November 11. As we remember those who suffered and died, we might also remember our responsibility to think of them  BEFORE we send more of them to war.

Of course, we'll need news media that point these things out. We'll need journalists who know there's a difference between informing and cheerleading.

Interesting to see the big play given to the UN's attempt to investigate nuclear development in Iran. When was the last time you heard of a UN attempt to investigate nuclear development in the US, France, Britain, or Israel?

The editorial and op ed pages are (half of them) good. That's twice as good as usual.

Alec Bruce's commentary is a light read with heavy message about our reliance on fossil fuels.

Norbert Cunningham does well in his reaction to government spying on us. His point is well-argued, and with no resort to ranting or name-calling. Forget whether you agree with him. I'm talking about style and logic. This is commentary as commentary should be written.

Jody Dallaire, a consistently good writer with a well-argued point to make, is her usual, welcome self.

The lead editorial is trivial and inane. The second one is too brief to be coherent.

Rod Allen, as always, is wordy, begins with a long introduction that doesn't get to the point, then goes on to raise other points that he never actually gets to, either. Read it if you really, really have time on your hands.

I can never figure out why The Times and Transcript has those commentaries by staff writers (and Mark Abley). I'd rather look at ads.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Feb. 22: Why are oil prices rising?

It's all them poor people whut's doin' it. All them iggerant savages in Africa and the Middle East. Y'see, it ain't yer local gas station. And it ain't yer refiners. So it's gotta be all them folks in crude oil producin' countries. Yep. And it's all them there taxes.

That (only in less elegant English) is the big story on the front page of today's TandT. So the next time you see Mr. Irving shivering on a street corner, flip him a dime - or at least buy an apple from him.

Whoops. That's odd. The story mentions gas stations and refiners. But it doesn't mention the oill business as a whole. (Maybe that's because the story seems to be drawn from a report by the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation which is typically very, very friendly to rich people.)

In fact, in most cases, them there iggerant savages don't own that crude oil, and they don't get much out of it. Most of it is owned by people like, well, Exxon, BP, and boys next door like Jim Irving. So, how are they doing as prices rise? It can be hard to find out because of the way their money is scattered.

Most of them own tanker fleets, for example, which are registered in poor countries so they can hire cheap crews, and don't have to pay taxes to their home countries. They also like to own wells in countries that don't charge them much - except for payoffs to local kings, emirs, etc.

For over thirty years, the British navy got all its oil for free from Iran. Can you imagine how much it costs to gas up a battleship? That's why Britain and the US overthrew the elected government of Iran in the 1950s. It was going to take back its own oilfields. That's why we bombed Libya. That's why there's now a possibility of war with Iran.

You ttaxpayers think programmes for OAS and medicare are expensive? You ought to check out the cost of the wars the West fights to keep oil companies happy.

Interesting picture on p. 3 of the Clayton suburban-style development in Riverview. Two things are prominent. One is the yellow bits that are the single family detached houses. Notice how they are the ones that face on green space?

The other is the road that runs like an umbilical cord to the great sweep  of a throughway. And no mention of commercial facilities.

Yep. Yep. Yep. That's the world of the future. Lots of low rise, single houses with no shops, all connected to the highway and dependent on the automobile. Well, it was the future. Sixty years ago.

I wonder whether Riverview has a development planning committee. And whether the committee has a plan.

Read the NewsToday story on C1. It's about rioting in Aghanistan over the burning of the Qu'ran by American soldiers. Curiously, most of the stoty is about what the American commander says. Read it. He was clearly speaking only for North Americans who are gullible enough to believe we are there because we love Afghanistan and want to help it. I expect that reports in other parts of the world may focus on quite different aspects of the story.

The TandT has no mention of what is a much bigger story in the rest of the world. Remember Khadr Anan? The Palestinian who was arrested and imprisoned by Israel without charge or trial? And who says he's innocent of anything? He's the one who protested non-violently by going on a hunger strike for sixty-six days.

Well, Israel has released him. Fearing he would die, they had moved the trial up. Then, an hour before it was to start, they released him. Why? Obviously, the hunger strike was doing heavy damage to Israel's reputation   (everywhere except in North America where it is seldom reported.) It also suggests they had to cancel the case because they really didn't have one in the first place.

The editorial is, as usual, pimping for a land developer. It says you have to be honest with develoment companies if  you want them to respect you. Right. Land developers are noted for their high moral values.

Cunningham has a story about Nepal where a woman was burned for being a witch. Yes, says Norbert, this is 2012! (and that's an incorrect use of an exlamation mark.) Funny how we see things differently, depending on who does them.

The US killed a quarter million people in Guatemala, a majority of them women, children and babies. And they weren't even witches. They killed at least hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Iraq. They kill more every day with drones.
And, yes, this is 2012.

The two op ed pieces by staff writers are the usual trivia.

Alec Bruce's column is very funny. And very intelligent and insightful.

Oh, speaking of how differently people can see things, there's a movie review praising a film which, in turn, praises US Navy Seals. These ae special ops trained as, among other things, assassins. They are sent out, usually in small groups,  to kill people - very often people innocent of any crime, and people with whom we are not at war.  But they do it. They're hired killers. The film
title sets the tone - Act of Valor.  Okay,

How would the Times and Transcript cover the story if it were about the valor of Al Quaeda fighters who risk (and often give) their lives for what they believe in?

I guess that what you see depends on where you're standing.

(And this whole post classifies me as a terrorist under the new crime and spying bills.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Feb. 21: "Roll Up The Rim.......

returns... to a Tim's shop near you." That is front page news for today's The Moncton Times and Transcript.

It's a story that was schockingly downplayed, even ignored, in newspapers across Canada. It's just one example of how the rest of Canada is uninformed on the important items of the day. Luckily, the Irving newspapers keep us on top of breaking news. That's sort of insightful reporting is why New Brunswickers had the foresight to elect David Alward as premier.

You wouldn't see any other province electing him. But New Brunswickers know what's going on.

The front page also strikes a spiritual note with a non-story about the local basketball team, the Miracles. The story isn't about anything, really. It's just that the coach gave a speech in which he suggested God sent him here.

Wondrous are thy ways, O Lord.

The front page also has a story on the city's interest in encouraging building over a parking lot. As usual, there was no mention of where this fits in to council's visionary plan for the future of Moncton. So far, the only apparent plan is to have a permanent planning committee.

The only story worth reading in on p. A4, "Group calls for tax bracket for rich NBers."  The group is called Common Front for Social Justice. Actually tax bracket for rich NBers is not quite what the group called for. But it's closer than the TandT usually gets. I'm surprised the TandT published it at all. It's intelligent. It's well expressed. And Mr. Irving wouldn't agree with.

Not to worry, though. The finance minister who decides on taxes is an ex-Irving executive; and he's officially advised by a group of Irving buddies.

In a radical departure from normal practice, there is actually news in the NewsToday section. There is a very important report on how oilsands development in Alberta is highly polluting, and may well cause irreversible damage to the province. It is particularly surprising that the TandT should run this story  -  at a time when it is ignoring stories about environmental problems coming from shale gas.

There's also a story about Syria, at last. Too bad it says almost nothing. However, it does have the usual loaded language from Reuters. It refers, for example, to People's Daily as a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party.

The description is, of course, quite true. But have you ever seen a Reuters report that described Fox news as a mouthpiece for the American far right? Or The Moncton Times and Transcript as a mouthpiece for the Irving interests?

There's another Reuters story that is misleading, too. This one is on a municipal election in the Libyan city of Misrata. It's all about how Libya is becoming democratic, thanks (one can assume) to us. In fact, Misrata is just about the only place that can hold an election because it's the only city that is safely under the control of one, rebel group. Most of the country has no functioning government democratic or otherwise.

Then we have Norbert Cunningham's daily commentary. Lord love a duck.

but et me begin with praise for three of the commentaries. The one by Alec Bruce is a must read, both insightful and disturbing. Gwynne Dyer, as always, is solid on foreign affair -  in this case, Syria. It comes down heavily against the government of Syria - as it should. Its only weakness is it sees the Syrian government as behaving badly. The reality is that the West, notably Britain and the US (with Canada as a gofer) are behaving at least as badly,and lie behind the whole mess that is Africa and the Middle East.

Even the staff-written column, this time by Alan Cochrane is a good read. It's about the return of World War I medals to New Brunswick. I regret the article is a little heavy on unthinking patriotism. That means this sort of article is one gives a boost to our largely phoney sentiment on November 11. Far from remembering its veterans, Canada has a reputation for being cheap on its services to them, and for being damned casual in deciding which wars to send them to in the first place. Still, it's a good column.

Then there's Norbert.

His column is a quite vicious attack on Justin Trudeau for saying that Harper was so destructive of Canada that he (Trudeau) might someday be better off to live in a Quebec state. Norbert dismissed Pierre Trudeau as an arrogant egoist. .

First - I was caught by the tone of this vicious and ignorant attack. It strengthened a feeling I've had for over a year. Cunningham is, I think, the one who wrote a serious of vicious, ignorant and unethcial editorials about New Brunswick public schools.

Secondly - I have never met Justin Trudeau, and have no opinion of him one way or the other. I am not a Liberal. I did know Pierre Trudeau, well enough to say we were on friendly terms. As to Quebec and separatism, I was for at least a dozen years on the provincial executive of the English rights group in Quebec - with several years as Vice-President, and one year as Chairman. (In other words, I was never a separatist, and never a supporter of Quebec's language legislation.)

I moved to New Brunswick largely because I wanted my children to have the experience of a bilingual society; but I didn't want them to grow up in the mutual bigotry I had lived most of my life in. New Brunswick isn't perfect. But it's pretty good, and certainly the best n Canada. With that background in mind -

Pierre Trudea was not, as Cunningham says, arrogant. He could put on a show of arrogance when he had to deal with half-wit journalists who thought they knew everything. But his natural attitude was a shyness. Yes, That suprised me, too.

Justin Trudeau was being critical of Harper and what he was doing to Canada. Cunningham said that to do that was to insult all those who voted for Harper. (It does not seem to occur that if it is insulting to those who voted for Harper if one criticizes him - then isn't it insulting to those who voted for Justin Trudeau if Cunningham criticizes Trudeau?)

This columnn is a rant which, like the ones on our schools, lacks basic information and even simple logic.

Trudeau's point was that Harper's policies are destroying Canada. He is saying that if Harper does more damage, that it might be better to live even in a Quebec state. I have no love for what Quebec has become. But I think Trudeau is right.

Harper is methodically destroying democracy and free speech; he runs the country entirely for the benefit of the super rich; he toadies to the US; he shows contempt for the constitution and for our constitutional practices. It is possible and even likely that at the end of his term, what we call Canada will no longer exist except as a vague, geographic term.

And if Conservative voters are insulted by that, I can live with it. Perhaps some day I'll explain to them how, in a free society, we are supposed to criticize the government.

In summary - today's TandT has a couple of news items worth reading, three good commentaries, one stinking commentary. Most of the rest a waste of time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Feb. 20: Extra, extra...read all about it....

For the Moncton Times and Transcript, the big story of the day, highlighted on p. A 1 with lots of pictures on A. 4. is about a big dress sale. Yesterday.

Yes, I know I'm just a man. But it was just a dress sale. A big one, but still a dress sale. And it's not coming. It's over. It was yesterday.

In fact, it didn't make the news at all outside New Brunswick.  Across Canada, the big news story is the fury over the Harper government's bill to permit police spying on our telephone calls and web messages, thus raising state spying on citizens to the levels it has reached in the US, China, and North Korea.

In Moncton, the story was a dress sale - one  that's over.

In fairness, the police state story does make NewsToday -but there it's focus is on threats made to the minister introducing it. If you want to get a better idea of what the fuss is about, you have to go to Letters to the Editor.

Nor does the paper have a word about shale gas. Remember that? Shale gas was the big issue they and the government were going  to keep us informed about.

Nothing from the news staff on Moncton High, either - though shale gas and Moncton High are the two most discussesed issues in town. Luckily, there's a good letter about Moncton High in Letters to the Editor. (I really don't know what we'd do for news if we didn't have Letters to the Editor.)

The lead story in NewsToday is about a Swedish man was was snowed into his car for two months. This will be a big help for all those who missed the story when the rest of the world heard about it several days ago. This one isn't even an update. It's the same story  as the old one.

As usual, I have no idea why Mark Abley wrote  his column, or why any newspaper would publish it.

Warships from China, Russia and Iran are now 'visiting' ports in Syria. I should think that's important since at the same time we have Israel and most of the Republican leadership candidates clamouring for wars ASAP against Syria and Iran - and the Russian/Chinese fleets are their visiting -  to protect Syria and Iran.

But this is a Reuters' report. So it doesn't bother with all that trivia. The Reuters' story, which seems to be as much about Bosnia as it is about Syria, is really an encouragement for military intervention against the Syrian government and it's "random cruelty".

Funny thing about that random cruelty. There has been a lot of cruelty from othe current Syrian goveronment. It has, for example, practiced torture in its prisons for years. That's why the US government was such good friends with Syria until recently. The CIA used Syrian prisons when they 'rendered" (kidnapped) people they wanted to torture. There was no charge. No trial. Just a year or two or more of torture. Those were days when American governments just loved the people they now accuse of cruelty. Britain had the same deal going with Syria. Harper played along with it.

Remember the case of Canadian citizen Arar who was illegally sent to Syria by the CIA in 1902?  And tortured for ten months? Remember how  our own CSIS went over to help out with the "interrogation'? Remember how the Canadian government didn't say a word to help Arar until it was forced to?

Remember how Arar went to the courts and was proved innocent? And remember how both the US congress and Harper had to apologize to Arar?

Yes. The Syrian government has a history of cruelty. That's why Canada and the US were good friends with it for so long. But you won't find that in the Reuters report. Reuters doesn't like to say nasty things about our side.

There's another story that is huge around the world. But not in the Irving news media.

The Israeli government has been holding a Palestinian for over two months with no charge and no trial and no lawyer. So the man, claiming innocence, went on a hunger strike.He is now approaching a world record for a hunger strike. He is also approaching death. Here is a Palestinian attempting a non-violent protest against Israel, a protest that has captured the attention and sympathy of most of the world, and whose fallout is impossible to predict.

But not in Moncton.

Moncton had a big dress sale yesterday.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jan. 18: no news is.....no news

There really isn't much to comment on in today's TandT. As always, the teens' columns are a good read. I was particularly struck by the confessions of Alex Corbett. He reminds me of me. Christina Korotkov had a perceptive commentary, expressing a value that almost all of us will agree with - but almost none of us will ever carry out.

Bill Belliveau has an excellent column in defense of Justin Trudeau's seemingly separatist remark. (It wasn't separatist at all.) To bad he can't write similar columns when it's the Conservatives, NDP, Greens, etc. under unfair attack.

The op ed page has something odd. It has an opinion column "For the record" which has no indication of who wrote it or what his or her qualifications might be.I have never before seen that in a news paper. It also reveals a stunning ignorance of the subject. Usually, anonymity and stunning ignorance are reserved for the editorial.

So - with nothing in the paper even worth criticizing, let's take a stab at the big picture of what is going on in the world. And we'll try it in a very small  space.

We live in the richest part of the world. Credit for that is commonly given to capitalism - and that is bunk. Greece, Egypt, and Rome in their time were the richest parts of the world. They didn't have capitalism. What they had was military power. They could exploit neighbouring countries for food, minerals and slaves. That's who they got rich.

We did it the same way. For almost five centuries, western armies were the class act of the world. We were the ones who get rich on gold from South America and South Africa, minerals from Congo, slaves from Africa, cheap labour from China and eastern Europe to build our railways, opium exports to China, land taken from India to grow the opium, land taken from native peoples in the Americas for agriculture and mining. It wasn't capitalismm that did it. It was guns.

The western countries took turns as imperial powers - Portugal, Spain, France, Britain. By 1950, the European ones had collapsed, and the US took over. It began its empire with the United States, itself, all on land taken my military force. Then it extended its military power to establish dictatorships in Central and South America - guaranteeing cheap labour for factory farmers like Chiquita Banana. Then the Empire spread to Asia (The Phillipines) and to Africa (the middle east).

Western wealth was built on the impoverishment of the rest of the world. Yes. Capitalism built the wealth. It also built the poverty that created the wealth.

Then about fifty years ago, the wheels began to fall off. The Vietnam war was fought to maintain US power in Asia. But the power didn't work. Cuba got rid of its US-backed dictator - and got away with it. The US was able to overthrow democracies that developed in Guatemala, Chile, and Haiti. But the old sway over Latin America is seriously in trouble. In fact, the American Empire is in trouble all over the world. That's why it has far the world's largest "defence" budget. That's why its news media  (and puppet Harper) depict relatively small powers such as Cuba, Afghanistan, Iran, as terrible, terrible threats to world peace.

Go to google. Type in Project for the New American Century. There is the document that has shaped American policy since 9/11 - and even earlier. It's a plan for world domination. Military domination - because from military domination comes economic domination.

That's what the world news is all about. But the news media aren't going to say so. Instead we are told we bombed Libya for "humanitarian" reasons. We're in Afghanistan to help little girls go to school. We sent troops to Haiti to defend democracy (and, in the process, expelled the democratically elected leader, and we permitted the son of the former dictator to return to the country.) We invaded Saddam because he was evil. (In fact, it was the west which put Saddam in power, which encouraged his war with Iran, and which supplied him with weapons.)

We claim to be concerned about Iranian democracy. In fact, it was Britain, France and the US that destroyed Iranian democracy sixty years ago, and installed a brutal dictator.)

Of course, our news media can't say that.So they have to invent a world of good guys and bad guys. We're good guys. But them Islam's is evil. It is, as Harper so wisely said, their culture. The news, most of it, is about making us scared, making us hate, making us ignore the truth of our own behaviour over the past five centuries...

You will never understand the news by reading it. And once you understand the big picture, you don't need the news to understand what's going on.

Maybe I should try this one day, dealing just with New Brunswick.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Feb. 17: headlines, headlines, headlines....

Yesterday, as I looked over the day's web news for major items The Moncton Times and Transcript would not carry, I found one I just knew WOULD be in today's paper. (It's about fracking, and it appears to support fracking. Now, the TandT normally avoids fracking like the plague. But one that supports fracking..well....) Too bad they can't do it right even when they see a story they like.

The headline, in NewsToday reads "Fracking not to blame for pollution:scientists".Now, that's important because as journalists know, many readers look only at the headline. So far as they're concerned, that's the whole story. But that's not the whole story. In fact, it's not the story at all.

First, the scientists didn't say fracking is not to blame for pollution. It says they found "no direct connection" between fracking and the phenomenon of tap water bursting into flame.

Secondly, they were speaking only of pollution of groundwater, not of pollution in general.
Thirdly, they did not claim that the search for shale gas was not polluting water. They said it might be coming from spillage and disposal of waste water associated with the drilling. (That contradicts the sub-headling with says shale gas does not contaminate groundwater.)

In short, they do not dispute that contamination is happening and is widespread. They do not dispute that it is happening where fracking is going on.

They also admit that while so far only small earthquakes have occured as a result of fracking, a big one is possible. They also accept the fact that the use of shale gas will further global damage resulting from greenhouse emissions.  And that, I think, is called pollution.

Of course, you can't learn all that unless you reaad the story closely - and all the way to the end. And the editors to The Moncton Times and Transcript know that.

So they just stick on a big heading that says"Fracking not to blame for pollution: scientists".

Oh, the study was funded by the Energy Institute of the University of Texas. Gee! I wonder who funds that? It's probably just a coincidence that Texas is the US major source of oil and of shale gas. You can check out their site on google "energy institute University of Texas". Look it over. Notice how it has only nice things to say about oil and about shale gas.

Goodness, is it really possible that big business could buy out a university to shill for it? You betcha. It's happening all over North America. McGill is now suffering an embarassing investigation for studies claiming asbestos is good for you. North American corporations are taking over universities the way they've taken over government.

There were, of course, a few big stories the TandT missed. Remember how we bombed Libya to bring democracy? Well, a study by Oxford University (which has not been bought out) suggests that only 29% of Libyans want democracy. Not that it matters. We had no intention of letting them have it, anyway. Nor is it possible since the central government controls only a small part of the contry, with warlords controlling the rest. Gee! and after all those nice bombs we dropped on them.

The US director of national intelligence told congress that Iran is NOT building nuclear weapons. Well, no point in reporting that. I mean, our prime mininister says it is. And he should know. He also says that Iran is the greatest threat to world peace, and it frightens him. He says it's their culture. Yep. Christians would certainly never build nuclear bombs. Anybody who doesn't hate Moslems is on the side of child pornographers.

The style of warfare has changed fundamentally over the past fifty years as modern armies have proved incapable of dealing with countries which really don't want big countries invading them. Afghanistan is proving a prime example of that. As well, a declining US empire has to try to control so many countries all over Africa, Latin America, and Asia that it's simply not practical to invade them all in conventional war.

A stopgap has been the drone bomber. They now account for about a third of othe US air force,and are freely used against countries that the US isn't even at war with. The latest development is the growth of special ops, small groups of soldiers who are trained in assassination and terrorism. Estimates place their numbers at 25,000 on the ground - and now operating in 75 countries -  you know - killing uncooperative politicians, murdering scientists, stuff like that. In 75 countries.

Well, that's the price of freedom.

To find stories like that, go to International Clearing House on the web. The site is the life work of a man named Tom Feeley who, you can bet, has his name on lots of lists of the sort that Harper wants to start in Canada.

It's purpose is to print those stories that most of our propaganda news media ignore.

I don't always agree with its opinion columns. Some are as one-sided as the type one finds in the TandT. But, if you use your judgement, some of them seem quite sound - and the news columns can be real eye-openers.

For this day's TandT, be sure to read Alec Bruce, David Suzuki. There's also a thought-provoking column by Linda MacGibbon.

Norbert Cunningham has reverted to his normal style - prejudiced to the point of bigotry, and crashingly ignorant of his topic. I could write pages on what is wrong with this one. But I'll content myself with just a couple of samples.

Industrial capitalism produced wealth? Yes. For a few. It also produced unspeakable povery, starvation, and brutality for billions of others. Does Norbert know nothing of The Belgian Congo and other African countries? Of American dictatorships in Latin America and the Phillipines? Does he know nothing of the behaviour of western conquerors in China and India? We grew wealthy on the resources of North America. Ever check out how the native peoples did?

Our wealth was built by impoverishing others. We even impoverished our own population.  Check out what it was like to work in Canada's mines a century ago (and less). Read a book like Terry Copp's The Anatomy of Poverty.  That's the way the Soviet Union modernized too. That's the way China is doing it now.

Nor does our capitalist "prosperity" seem to be of a lasting sort. In the "capitalist" US, there are today and and a half million homeless children. Tell  your Greek and Irish and British friends about the triunph of "capitalism". (I put capitalism in brackets because our system, for the big companies,  is not capitalism. It never was.)

As for human rights, may I suggest Norbert preach to the US? It slaughtered a quarter million innocent men, women and children in Guatemala. It was even worse in Vietnam and Iraq. Did you even report that it happened, Norbert?

"Fracking not to blame for pollution: scientists".   Sheesh!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jan. 16: Three columns worth reading...

Start with Alec Bruce on the editorial page. He takes what reads like a light-hearted article on Valentine's Day. It's easy reading and amusing. Then he goes for the jugular with a  very serious point to make in the final paragraphs. Readable. Entertaining. Something to say.

Facing him on the op ed page is Jody Dallaire. Her commentary isn't light-hearted. But it's well and clearly written on an abuse that is not only degrading to women who suffer it, but which reflects our attitude to women and even young girls in general. And you find it even in the most sophisticated circles in Moncton - like the Casino.

Above the Dallaire column is one by Rod Allen, an assistant managing editor of The Moncton Times and Transcript.  It is about balding; it's about Bruce Cockburn; it's about how many times and where Allen has seen him; then it's about what a nice guy Alex Colville is, then something about what children are like. There is, as he admits no significant connection between all those topics. Like all of such commentary columns written by staff writers, it is boring, frivolous and unintelligible. And these are the people who make the big decisions about what is news and how it should be presented.

I wonder if the world NewsToday editor ever reads his own stories.If so, he should check out a story about aerial drones on p. C3. Towards the end of it,a Canadian air force general raises concerns about the number of civilians killed by drones. If the edtior did read this story, did he think, "Civilian casualties? From drones? What casualties? I mean, if civilians were getting killed, surely we must have mentioned it."

In fact, very few of the North American media are mentioning this dirty little story. You can find it in some European papers, and there are some reliable sites in Goggle. But the American government has consistently refused to give estimates of civilian deaths by drones or any other form of bombing. Yet it has been using them for years against civilians in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya - at least. A choice type of target is a funeral procession of a suspected Taliban leader, since it is assumed that some Taliban will be in attendance. I'm sure that such people would be there - along with women, children, the elderly....

From the earliest use of bombers - going way back to 1910, the major causalties of bombers have been civilians - and it has usually been deliberate. Check out the American bombing of Cambodia.

Meanwhile, we are informed by the UN that Syria is guilty of human rights abuses. No doubt. Too bad the UN has not yet noticed the American and British human rights abuses in the torture and killing of civilians - not to mention the genocide in Guatemala. (Of course, we're getting our foreign news from Reuters and Postmedia which don't like to mention unpleasant things.)

L'Ecole Carrefour de l'Acadie is holding a march against bullying. That's worth doing. But we should not slip into the habit of thinking this is a school problem. There were kids who were bullies long before the first school was built.

Bullying comes from a variety of social factors - like social background, parental example.... You figure maybe some kids sit with their parents to watch hockey on TV? And they listen to Don Cherry?
Don Cherry talks like a bullying lout. I doubt whether he is. Certainly, my sense is he's pretty intelligent. And he's smart enough to know what his audience wants to hear. The team owners know that audience, too. They know that bullying and violoence are admired. They're manly.

Well, there's a lesson easily learned. We have a habit of looking to schools to cure all problems. And they do cure a great many problems. But there are some problems that schools don't cause, and that they can't cure.

We cause them. And only we can cure them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feb. 15: What can I say?

Notice has been given that the usual suspects will be revving up their shale gas exploration again - though the province still seems to have no rules - and certainly has not paid the slightest attention to public concerns about it.  Publicly expensive and half-a-century-behind-the-times housing developments are going ahead, still with almost no public information on what this is all about or what it has to do with any kind of city planning.

We have just signed trade agreements with a country whose labour practices are extraordinarily abusive. We are on the edge of wars with Syria and Iran, wars whose consequences are unforeseeable.

Canada is about to approve of uncontrolled police spying on the privacy of Canadians - with no supervision. The US is withdrawing regular troops from Afghanistan - but is increasing its presence in assassination squads. We are entering a new age of war, one fought with drones controlled by computers that freely bomb countries we're not at war with. And which spy on whomever they please. (But I'm sure they wouldn't do it ot us. Would they?) The US assassination squads (called special ops) now number some 10,000 in the field. Some estimates place them in 70 countries, busily disposing of people the American government disapproves of. They were active in Libya, almost certainly in Syria, and in Central and South America, in Pakistan anywhere, there is a country in which American business is interested and in which the local government is not cooperating..

With the American powers of imprisonment without charge along with the Canadian powers to spy on anybody it pleases the police to spy on; the way is open to deal with terrorists, spies, environmentalists, shale gas protestors, critics of people with names like Irving.... It's a world of change.

Who, only a generation ago, would have believed that the US would be operating torture camps all over the world, giving the army the right to imprison and torture American citizens with no charge or trial, and giving the president power to murder people of any country and in any country. Who would have believed a Canadian government would give police the right to spy on all Canadians and to gather information about them to be used any way it likes?

George Orwell's world of 1984 is well and truly here.

The editorial in today's Moncton Times and Transcript is about a dog bylaw in neighbouring Dieppe. I don't think I have ever seen a daily "metro" newspaper whose editorial was about dog licences. The opposite page, the co-called op ed, carries two commentaries.

One is about how sad it is when a pet dog dies. The other wishes us happy surprises for the week.

Go the the TandT for the insights YOU need to understand the world.

Norbert Cunningham makes a valiant attempt to talk about something serious. Alas! He has no idea what he's talking about, and doesn't even know the meanings of words like left, right, socialism, communism, communism. (Which, perhaps, should not suprise since he also seems to think that capitalism means a nanny state for billionaires.)

For example, the terms left and right refer to seating arrangements in the assemblies that followed the French Revolution. That's all they refer to. Now, look at Norbert's column to see what he thinks they mean.

"left-leaners" (are these different from just left?) "demonize Harper", are "hypocrites" make arguments that are "lame", are immature, stupid, scaredy-cat and "have a let's hide under the bed approach to the world." He shows his contempt for " left-leaners" by hinting they listen to the CBC, instead of the jock-rock on private radio. (How very different the leftists are from the editorial writer who isn't afraid to speak out on the subject of dog licenses.)

In short, Norbert uses the word left to mean people he doesn't agree with. And the difference between them and him seem to be genetic - they are stupid, immature, scared, unlike people of his genes who are born intelligent, mature, fearless.... It's a sort of racial superiority theory.

In fairness, most people are like that.Most of us use left and right in a largely emotional way. If we think we're on the right, then right means intelligent. If we think we're on the left, then left means intelligent.

In the US, passions boil over about right wing Bush and left wing Obama. In fact, both have followed almost indentical policies.

He shows the same ignorance of words when he refers to China as Socialist/Communist. First, there is no such thing as socialist/communist. You are one or the other. Secondly, China is neither socialist nor communist. Hasn't Norbert been reading the news for the last twenty years? China is capitalist. It is, if anything, more capitalist than the US is. One of my former students, a Chinese from Hong Kong, came to visit me in Montreal about five years ago to show me how well he had done. He was staying in a suite at the city's most expensive hotel, and was chauffered in a Rolls-Royce. He is a multi-billionaire with holdings all over China.

And I can assure Norbert he is neither socialist nor communist.

As to the idea that opening up China to trade is an idea of what Norbert calls the right - that is pure baloon juice. It was, for many years, what Norbert calls the "right" in the US and Canada that opposed trade with China.

More years ago than I care to remember, I was a fresh-faced History prof being treated to a an expensive meal in an exclusive club. My host was a retired reporter named Gerald Clark who was interviewing me about a book he was writing.

Gerald Clark will probably be a strange name to Norbert - but he was the first Canadian reporter to be based in China, at a time when "right wing" newspapers in North American  - meaning all of them - did not send reporters, and when China did not welcome them.

In the course of the meal, Clark told be about why he had been accepted by Mao. It was because of Two-Gun Cohen, a British/Canadian cowboy and gambler who was hired by revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen as bodyguard. By the 1920s, he was a general of a Chinese army, then was captured by the Japanese. Released about 1943, he drifted to Montreal where he married Clark's sister.

Though neither Sun Yat-sen nor Cohen was a communist, the Chinese communists admired them for their revolutionary work - and so Clark was accepted as a sort of favour to his brother-in-law.

And, as we discussed over our meal, it was what Norbert would call the left that led the way in restoring relations with China. Britain, under the Labour Party, was one of the first to recognize China. Canada made its first moves under the Liberals who (under Norbert's bizarre interpretations) are probably leftists.

The quality of Norbert's insight is summed up in his "The last word" in which he quotes somebody as saying "we are moving toward a global economy."

What a flash!

Over 400 years ago, native peoples of the Montreal region were exporting ginseng to China. Even earlier, native peoples in California were using wampum made from shells that had originated on the coast of New Brunswick.  Europe was doing business with North America, South America, and Asia. Where do youo think Columbus got the idea he would find spices in Asia? A thousand years ago, Vikings operated a trade in white falcons and exotic pets with the Inuit of the Canadian arctic. Two thousand years ago, Romans were operating businesses in England. And the world had been globalizing long before that.

So here we have a column which depends heavily on five words - left, right, socialist, communist, and globalization.

And the writer doesn't know the meaning of any of them.

The only thing in the whole paper worth a read is Alec Bruce's column. (I don't fully agree with it. But, as always, he knows what he's talking about.)  For the rest, read the paper only if you really care about dog licencses or if you really, desperately want somwone to wish you a happy week.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Feb. 14: Take what you want....

There's an amusing story on p. A4. Horizon Health Network, a publicly funded corporation, spent $5000 for ten tickets to a Progressive Conservative fund-raising dinner. The PC party (which is also the government of New Brunswick) will return the money, since a publicly funded corporation should not be giving money to a public party. Makes sense. After all,they could be using public money to buy favours. Or they could be seen as being under pressure to fork over money to the party. But -

Isn't the same thing true of privately funded corporations? After all, this is a province with most political funding coming from private corporations and wealthy individuals. Are private corporations not interested in buying favours?

In fact, now that I think of it, aren't most private corporations in t his province heavily publicly funded through tax breaks, loans, energy discounts, public/private "partnerships", lax enforcement of regulations?

I mean, it's nice for Premier Alward to be moral. But moral is something you either are or aren't. You can't be selective in what you choose to be moral about. Either you accept money from people who receive public funding and who might expect favours in return. Or you don't. Either you're a hooker or you aren't. There's no middle ground, Mr. Alward.

Most of today's paper, though, reminded me of a recent visit to a tourist souvenir trap. It had the usual stuff. There was a tray of plaster nudes of women lying on the backs, legs in the air. On their bellies were the words "put your butts here". Next to them was a tray of religious medalliions.

Over each aisle was a sign. "Take what you want. But pay for it." That tourist trap and those signs came back to me on almost every page of today's Times and Transcript.

On p.1, we learn that Riverview, already a prime example of 1950s urban sprawl, has approved more of the same. (Like Moncton's disaster-in-the-making, Royal Oaks, it's located by a golf club; so it will presumably not be affordable for low-class bums. Just high-class bums.) Expensive both to build and to maintain, as well being hopelessly dependent on the automobile, both developments were obsolete years before they were thought of. But they'll cost money forever.

Take what you want. But pay for it.

There's news that Harper is introducing legislation requiring communications companies (like telephone companies) to hand over information about their customers to the police without any warrant. That includes the daily movement of individuals as traced through their cellphones. There is no need for the person to be a criminal or even suspected of being one. This is not need even for their to have been a crime committed by anybody. There's no need for a judge. The police will be able to ignore the basic right of any free people, the right to privacy. Like the US, we're going very quickly down the road to becoming a police state.

You think our police wouldn't do that? Have you forgetten that our police have already turned over two. innocent Canadian citizens to a foreign power for torture?

Will Canadians take that sort of legislation from their government? You bet they will. And they'll pay for it.

As always, the TandT relies on Reuters for heavily biased foreign news. Like most of the western media, Reuters is beating the drums for war against Syyria with accounts of a people hungy for democracy, and a government beating them down.

There is no hint iin the paper that the 'rebels' (like those in Libya) have no great interest in democracy, or that they are being financed, armed, and even reinforced by countries like Turkey and Libya.

There is every likeliehood that we will be drawn into a conflict with Syria and then with Iran, neither of them a threat to anybody. But we will get drawn in with hysteria about nuclear weapons that don't exist, and humanitarian concerns. And Harper will grieve publicly for innocent civilians killed in Syria while ignoring the far, far greater number of innocent civilians killed by our side in Vietnam, Guatemala, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Will we take up that drumbeat for war? Of course, we will. Harper has already promised. So get ready to see Canadian kill and be killed to keep the world safe for billionaires. Take what you want. But pay for it.

With the environment becoming the most serious crisis we face, Canada is reducing its spending on environmental research and protection. It now leads the world in per capita poisoning of the planet, largely so it can make rich people richer in sales of oil and shale gas. We're all going to suffer for that. Somebody has to pay when the rich want even more.

And newspapers like those of the Irving media will continue to feed us bias, propaganda and, mostly, trivia. The price? New Brunswick has the lowest level of serious discussion I have ever seen. It has the most subservient and irrelevant politicians I  have ever seen. The great issues of environment, urban living, social care, intellectual life, political honesty are ignored in favour of quick-buck trivia like summer rock concerts, and coddling billionaires. And all of this is encouraged by the Irving print media that dominae the province.

Well,take what you like. Take anything you like.

But be ready to pay for it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Feb. 13:...keeping up with what's important...

I was surprised to read we had a snowstorm over the weekend. But there's no doubt about it. There were two, front page stories about it and, for snowstorms deniers, a full page of pictures of snow on the ground. I wondered why it took so long to get my car out of its parking space.

In section D, there were three stories on the death of Whitney Houston.

The people of Moncton now have been told more about a snowstorm and the death of Whitney Houston than they have been told about shale gas and the strange choice of location for Moncton High School.

There was also a lead story "Metro embraces wet/dry program." But I didn't read it. It's bad enough to read garbage without reading garbage about garbage.

Much of the rest of Section A is taken up with entertainment events that just happened, and more that are to come.

Oh, and Riverview council will vote on whether to return to its old slogan, A Great Place to Grow.  I can't wait to see the musical.

The motto of The Moncton Times and Tribune should be Keep 'em in the Dark. Keep 'em entertained. Just like ancient Rome.

The editorial for today sums up the only thing that interests the Irving media, investment. Today's editorial is enthusiastic approval of the possibility that air service to Moncton will be expanded. The assumption is that all investment is good, and investment will take care of all our problems. And that is just simple-minded.

All investment is not good. We probably would not cheer for investment in a huge storage facility to hold poison gas - but that, in effect, is what we are doing with shale gas with its poison we will spread not just over New Brunswick, but wherever the stuff is burned.

Yes, investment brings us jobs But how much do those jobs cost? New Brunswick has certainly attracted a lot of investment. So how come our budget deficit it so high? We draw visitors to Moncton, visitors who apend money here. How much does it cost us to bring them? How much of their money stays in New Brunswick pockets? How much of it finds its way down to the average New Brunswicker?

Ever see a story on that in the TandT? No. And you won't.Nor will you see investment solving social problems. What kind of social problems will Moncton face in the next twenty years? Well, among them will be suitable housing and mass transportation. Every city in the world faces those problems.  Those problems are not being solved by investment. On the contrary, they're being made worse in Moncton by encouraging a 1950s style suburb like Royal Oaks.

There is no planning in Moncton. there is only an eagerness to snatch up make-a-fast-buck schemes by promoters.

It was very good of the Irvings to invest in newspapers for us. It provides jobs for journalists. But what do readers get? Only the propaganda that Irving wants us to get. The rest is trivia.

As an example of how the news is filtered, today's TandT did not carry the story on how a man from Saudi Arabia is in jail for writing something on Twitter that made light of Mohammed. He was in Malaysia at the time. He has now been extradited to Saudi Arabia where he is likely to be beheaded for the offense.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute dictatorship where the strictest rules of Islam are enforced. Recently, a woman was sentenced to beating with a cane for driving a car. Women are not allowed to drive cars in Saudi Arabia. Al Quaeda is a human rights organization compared to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

But in our news media, Al Quaeda is routinely described as extremist. Saudi Arabia never is. That's because Saudi Arabia is on our side.  It is also the leading figure of the Arab league that is demanding democracy for Syria. Right. The royal dictators of the Arab league are very big on democracy.

And if that doesn't make you cynical about the motives of our leaders, read Alec Bruce's column in which he wonders why we are dragging our feet in switching to more systainable energy supply with, for example, windmills.

Well, it's all about investment. If we build windmills, how will those nice investors sell us shale gas, oil, coal, and uranium? I mean, we need those investors to pay off the debt we've run up by buying energy from them, selliing it to them at below market price, letting them destroy the enironment, and giving them lavish tax breaks.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Feb. 11: ...read the kids (oops, ...young people)...

 The most sensational story in Canadian history is on p. D1.Well, it should be the most sensational - but nobody seems to have noticed. Sticking it at the bottom of Section D, p. 1 certainly suggests that The Moncton Times and Transcript sees nothing sensational about it.

Harper wants to develop China into something like a free trade partner - and also to sell China the world's most strategically important resource - oil. Does that sound just like a trade deal? Well, if true, it's not just a trade deal.
1.Historically, Canada has always been the servant, both diplomatically and militarily, of some power that dominates its economy. Until the end of World War One, that power was Britain. Canada had no reason to take part in the Boer War, for example. In those days, when Britain went to war, the colonies were legally at war, too. But they were not required to take part. Canada did take part.It sent troops. The reason had nothing to do with justice or loyalty or the defence of Britain. The reason was that Canadian business leaders relied on the British Empire for investement and for markets. So it was business leaders who put the heat on the Canadian government to send over troops to kill and be killed. It was good for business that Canada should be a loyal servant to the crown.

Much the same thing happened in World War One. After all, if the war was so crucial to Canada that it would sent troops in 1914, why was it less important to the US, which didn't enter until 1917?

After World War Two, Canada's economic dependency shifted to the US. That's why Mulroney inked a free trade deal with the US. The new market for Canadian business was the US - along with some share of existing American markets, as in Latin America.

To maintain good favour with the US, we have to support it diplomatically and militarily. That's why we're in Afghanistan. That's why we bombed Lybia. That's why Harper now makes nasty faces at Iran.
We used to fight British wars; now we fight American wars. (Mind you, we're still in a big campaign to put pictures of the Queen wherever there's a bare wall in any government office. Much as we're now a servant to the US, Harper needs all those voters who are still gaga over the Queen, and Kate and all that.)

2. Chinese business is emerging as the most serious challenge to US economic power. The wars in Iraq and Libya and Afghanistan were stages in the US struggle against Chinese expansion. So will be the wars in Libya and Iran. The US Pacific fleet is already stationed to contain China. The US is also adding to its military bases, notably in Australia and The Phillipines, for the same reason. In short, the US is in the early stages of a cold war against China.

So, if the story is all true, which side will we be on? (I'm sure the US and China will be big-hearted and understanding no matter which side we choose.)

Oh, of course Harper has warned the Chinese that close relations with China will not prevent him from speaking out against human rights abuses in China. And we know that for a fact. I mean, look how he spoke out against the US for its slaughter of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and Guatemala. Look how he spoke out against the wide use of torture by the US (in violation of American as well as international law). Look at how he defended a teenage Canadian who was illegally held and tortured for years at Guantanamo Bay. Look at how he handed over at least two other Canadian citizens (who were not even charged with any offense) for prolonged torture.

I'll bet Chinese leaders are shaking in their boots.

The teens section in Whatever is really the only part of today's paper worth reading.

Jana Giles wrote a column that made me feel like the particularly unattractive remains of a pre-historic creature. I grew up in an age when we learned to communicate by putting a pencil to paper. Then, as we matured, we learned how to hold a little stick with a piece of metal on the end of it,and dip it into a bottle of black liquid - and make marks with that.

When I was thirty I at last got space-age equipment. It was called a typewriter. (All of this stuff can now be seen in any good museum.)

Jana Giles, of Lewisville Middle School, has writen her column about a new computer programme. She's a good writer.  It's a well-written column. It's in clear language. And I can't understand it. I've been using computers for decades. I can't understand a column about them written by a girl in middle school.

Lucky I still have that stick with the metal thingee at the end, and a bottle of that black liquid.

Alex Corbett has his column on a subject we've all had to deal with.  - when is it justifiable for us to be arrogant? I'm happy to tell him there are two answers. 1. Arrogance is justifiable when it works. 2. It is not justifiable when it is used by somebody else.  In fact, those answers hold true for a lot of the habits we develop as we grow older.

Aurelia Pare has a commentary on a topic we all take seriously - but only sort of seriously. It's bullying. I would just add to points to what she says.

1. Bullying is not just something we pass through. There were kids I went to school with who were savagely bullied. Many of them suffered lives that were pemanently marked by the experience. It's not just a stage we pass through. It's an experience that cripples for life.

2. As for  the bullies, it cripples them into growing up as louts who make life miserable for everyone around them.

Yes, we take bullying seriously. No, we don't take it nearly seriously enough.

Christina Korotkov has a thoughtrul commentary on something we all go through.When you plan your life, do you go for the dreams? Or do you to for the reality? I don't know the answer. I don't think anybody does. As a child, I grew up where reality was so limited that I was a life success by the age of 17.

Then I spent the rest of my life learning to go for the dreams - and better reality. Dreams can be reality. I guess, really, that reality is what other people think we can do. Dreams are what we think we can do.  So, as a general rule, I'd say don't pay too much attnetion to other people.

Isabelle Agnew has the most intelligent commentary I've seen in the TandT on the Moncton High School question. That's because she attended a city council meeting on it, and saw through illogic of the major speakers. And it's party because she's a student - and saw through the blather of the representative of the Royal Oaks development. One of her reactions is particularly striking.

The presenter talked a vision of students from the new school being able to cross the street to a lovely park where they could sit outdoors and study.  This is pure drivel. But it probably worked on more than a few of the adults in the audience, conjuring visions of happy children sitting out in the sun enraptured with nature and their class notes. Students and teachers have an advantage over most of those adults. They know that school runs from September to June. They know we live in New Brunswick. (They're taught that in school.)

I glance out my window on this typical New Brunswick day. It's been raining and snowing with all of it slowly turning to ice.

And, as I think back to my own student days, I cannot remember ever studying outdoors, not even on a nice day. Since those days, I've lived a life caught up in studying. In all of those years,I have never studied outdoors. How can one possibly study with traffic going by, people playing in the park, talking?

But here was a developer presenting this warm and fuzzy picture, and there were adults, sitting and nodding their heads in bemused images of happy students lying on the grass with their books.  Monctonians, as ratepayers and taxpayers, are going to spend millions of dollars on this illusion.

There is no plan. There never was a plan. All we have is a highly imaginative picture spun out by a promoter. A high school student figured that out. The reportorial and editorial staff of the the Times and Transcript didn't.

There's a lesson in this. Read the Whatever section. Skip the rest of the TandT.