Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 30: Criticizing a newspaper that has no news...

.......ca be very difficult.

The purpose of the Irving press is to keep people uninfomed. That's why it has staff writers for the op ed page who say nothing at all. They aren't very good even at saying nothing. But that's okay. If they're boring, then people won't read them, and we'll know even less.

In Section 1, the only item worth reading is on p. 8 "New Brunswick military families afraid to complain".  Military circles have almost always been notorious for intimidating those under their command. In Canada, it's made worse by a government that encourages intimidation, and which has a defence minister who is so incompetent that he can quiet the talk about his scandalous performance only by intimidation.

Read this one. It's worth the time. Remember it on Nov. 11 when all those hypocrite bigwigs stand up to the microphone to say how much we are grateful to the people in our services.  (Even as we send them off to killed for no other purpose than to score brownie points for Canadian corporations with the US government.)

Nothing much in NewsToday. The US is suffering record temperatures of over a hundred degrees that have killed several people. But that's okay.We have Harper's word that it's no big deal. That's why he's not doing anything about climate change. On the same page, you will note his Bill C-38 which weakens environmental controls and even environmental monitoring has passed Senate. (But we won't talk about it because the Bill also weakens controls over government spying on us.)

So don't worry. With people like Harper and Mackay in control, everything will be fine.

All of C3 is about how Moncton will celebrate Canada Day with painted faces, fireworks, hot dogs. So not to worry. You will not be offended by any presentations that has anything to do with Canada or that requires even a teeny brain. (With the possible exception of one display of imagination,
 an archeological dig sponsored by the Moncton Museum.)

What is missing in this paper? News.

Where is all the informationi we were promised on shale gas? Where are the opinions of those who oppose shale gas? Where is the information about the reasons for choosing Royal Oaks at great additional expense over other sites? What were the other sites?

Where is the story on what a shambles the City Council elections were? Not only were the turnouts low, but few had the faintest idea what most of the candidates stood for. Shouldn't we be getting a special report on what can be done about such a farcical election?

For example, we could  have political parties at Council level, and, unlike the provincial and federal parties, based purely on civic issues. . It's done in many cities, and with success. With two of three parties, we could keep track of their views. It would be a whole lot easier than trying to find out the views of a hundred candidates.

We could also use some fuller reporting on the attempt of a land developer to bribe ("encourage the democratic process for") city council candidaes. Why did no candidate announce during the election that this had happened? Why has one candidate still not announced whether she accepted money? Why has nobody suggested controls on election funding?

There's almost nothing in this paper - though there's a whole lot that should be.

Norbert was alternately credulous and a pain in the ass in today's column.

First, he has a terrible habit ot believing whatever he reads in a book. In this case, he refers to a Stephen Pinker who writes of how violence has declined in the world.  I know that Pinker is a distinguished scholar. He is also an attention seeker, a sensationalist, and one who knows nothing about world violence. I'm an historian. Would Norbert soak it up if I wrote a book about mathematics?

Both Pinker and Norbert are fond of defining ideas with words like utopian. But exactly what does the word utopian mean? Usually, it is used to mean unrealistic. But what is unrealistic depends on the viewer. That kings of France thought democracy was unrealistic. (So do Chinese leaders.)  US Republicans think medicare is unrealistic.

The pain in the ass part is the accusation that anybody who criticizes American government policies is anti- U.S. That sort of accusation is the game that Israeli  governments play. They call their critics anti-semites, and zionist propaganda agences in Canada to the same. . I have many Jewish friends who are observant Jews, ardent Zionists, and some of whom live in Israel. But they criticize the Israeli government. So they are publicly branded as anti-semites.

Well, Norbert, I have friends and close relatives who are Americans. And you know what, Norbert? They criticize the US government. They think it's wrong to have killed millions of civilians since World War Two. They think it's wrong to have slaughtered over a quarter million native peoples in Guatemala. They think it's wrong to use robot drones indiscriminately. They think it's wrong to have assassination squads all over the world. Damn those anti-American Americans.

I think that Stephen Harper is a blind ideologue whose policies are, on this Canada Day, destroying Canada.  I think Alward is a miserable speciment of a puppet. Damn. I must be anti-Canadian and anti-New Brunswick.

Grow up, Norbert.

Just a couple of corrections on Brent Mazerolle's column. I mean, it's bad enough to have a column that says nothing while at the same time having errors.

1. Maritime Unnion was not a new idea at the time of the Charlottetown conference.

2. It wasn't just champagne that sold the idea of confederation..  Nor were the delegates simply there to be convinced.

John A. was, as Mazerolle says, a drunk - but no fool. He was also as crooked and grafting as they come. He made a considerable personal fortune out of his political years - and at a time when  the p.m's salary was low. Dr. Charles Tupper was even more crooked. Though he practiced medecine for only a short time, he became a very wealthy man  while spending his life in politics. He must have brown-bagged it for lunch. Georges Etienne Cartier was no slouch in the hand-out line.

A nurse writes in that despite the time and expense of her training, she makes only $42.000 a year. So bus drivers don't deserve $55,000. Well, nothing like getting the underpaid to fight each other.

Perhaps the intrepid staff of the Moncton Times and Transcript would do an investigative report on how much Mr. Irving makes in a year, how much his education cost, and what high grades he had to achieve.

Yet we would miss nurses and bus drivers. (Write the next sentence yourself____________________________________________________.)

On Canada - our greatest luck is that we are one of the two nations in this world that are hardest to attack. The US has tops the list. Oceans and weak neighbours have made attack on it virtually impossible.

Canada has a slightely weaker position. We have the oceans. Alas! We don't have a large population; and we do have a large and aggressive neighbour. That's why we will, this year, be the only country I know of to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of an attack on it.

Until the 1920s, our only hope of survival against the US was an alliance with Britain. That's why we fought British wars - to keep in good with the UK.  But Britain had long long earlier lost the ability or the interest to defend us against the US. Accordingly, we now have to depend on our most likely enemy to defend us. So now, through NATO, we fight American wars.

It could be much worse. It is much worse for most countries - like Belgium living close to Germany or Haiti living close to the US. (sorry scratch that last bit. It has, of course, been wonderful for Haiti to live close to the US.)



Friday, June 29, 2012

June 29: You are a reporter, and....

....a world-famous heart surgeon visits your city. You ask him, "Tell me, Mr. world-famous heart surgeon, what is the best way to drive a car?"  With this, you write your story, and take it to your editor who says' "Wow! This is the big story for front page. No question."

Only in Moncton. Only with the Moncton Times and Transcript.

Mario Andretti, the race car driver visits Moncton. The reporter asks his opinion of how one should live one's life. Well, Andretti's been on the circuit for decades. So he has a stock answer for this dumb question, "Follow your dreams."

Well, what the hell, a race car driver isn't supposed to know how we should live our lives. It's not his fault. But this is an answer that means nothing at all. My dream as a child was to drive a steam engine. Good thing I didn't follow it.

One of my students had a dream of becoming a big time gangster and holding up banks. He did it. He was dead before he was twenty. Another fellow I knew followed his dream to be a pimp, and to have a stable of girls who would provide him with money and entertainment. He did it. Life was great. Until he murdered one of the girls.

Most of the kids I grew up with had the dream of finding a more or less steady job in a factory, just surviving. Some of them achieved it. Talk about following your dream.

Andretti claims that many university students still don't know what they want to do in life. So? Of course, they don't. They don't have any idea what's out there, yet. I came out of a district where my mother's greatest hope for me was to almost finish high school, then get an office job so I would wear clean clothes to work. By the age of 17, I was a smashing success, sorting office mail for Bell Telephone.

It never occured to me until I was 30 that I could become a university teacher, and several years later that I realized I could do broadcasting and writing. Just over a year ago, I learned I could paint.

The reporter's question was a foolish one. Andretti's answer was meaningless. And an editor said, "Wow" This is hot. Front page."

These are the signs of a trivial and amateurish newspaper. You would have to travel a long way, all the way to St. John or Fredericton, to find another one as bad.

In world news, the Moncton Times and Transcript has noted that 200 Iraqis were killed this month in sectarian fighing. That's nice. In fact, it's been going on for years without the Moncton Times noticing it at all. But we won't talk about 'humanitarian intervention' or 'change of regime', just as we won't talk about these in Yemen or Somalia or Bahrain or Saudi Arabtia. I mean, it's different for countries which have murdering governments that are on our side.

On p. D1 , big story. Full page. O CANADA. subhead, "On the eve of Canada's 145th birthdays...."
Think about it.

Big surprise. There's an editorial attacking the bus drivers for being under a lockout. Gee! Those editorial writers aren't scared of criticizing anybody. Well, as long as it's not somebody whose name begins with I.

Alec Bruce writes on how little Canadians know about Canada and Canadian history. 'Twas always thus. We are overwhelmed by the population and mass media of the US. That's why Prime Minister Bennett founded the CBC in the 1930s, to provide Canadians with a Canadian view of the world and of themselves. Today, CBC television and radio are the only popular media providing that view.

I suspect that's why Harper is determined to destroy the CBC. He doesn't want a Canada. The corporations that pay his bills don't want a Canada. They want us to be thoroughly integrated into the US just as, a century ago, they wanted us thoroughly inttegrated into Britain. We are beginning the twenty -first century very much as we began the twentieth.

The op-ed page, with Lynda MacGibbon and David Suzuki is solid.


There's a letter to the editor which is worth reading because it hints at a huge problem (and huge cruelties and hypocracies) carried out by western governments. The letter is really a booster for the Knights of Columbus - but they deserve some boosting.

It begins with the povery and desolation of Haiti. To this day, a half million Haitians are living under rotting canvas without clean water or toilets. This country, subjected for a century to brutal dictators who kept wages at starvtion levels in order to provide cheap labour for corporations, has received very little of the aid the world promised to it.

When Haiti manged to hold its first democratic election, it elected Aristide. But Aristide was not acceptable to the US because, as an ex-priest, he wanted to help the country. So the US staged a phony revolution, exiled Aristide, and Canada sent troops and police to boost the idea this was humanitarian. Then came the earthquake.

Many countries never delivered on their full, promised aid. The US was the worst. Not only did it deliver only a tiny percentage, but most  of that tiny percentage went to American contractors who banked the money without doing a damn thing. The Knights of Columbus are at least trying to help.

Things in most of Africa are even worse. We have no sense of the scale of death from AIDS and starvation in that continent. When did you last read about it in The Moncton Times and Transcript?
There are whole areas in which there are only grandparents and orphans. When my daughter worked there, she wrote home of hastily dug graves all along the roadsides.

The west promised medication that was effective and cheap. But the big pharmaseutical companies insisted they use brand name medciations (exactly the same, but at many times the price.)
Result? Our aid lets millions die so executives of pharmaceutical companies can vote themselves millions in bonuses.

When we do send aid, it's usually something like leftover stuff that is of no use to the recipient, but that a Canadian company can't get rid of. Or it's weapons. Israel with some seven million people - and fairly well off - gets more US aid than any other country in the world. And all of it is weapons.

Foreign aid is a swamp of corruption and criminal theft and neglect.

Africans have been murdererd, enslaved, and their countries pillaged by the west for over two hundred years. The slave trade alone killed at least tens of millions just in transportation.  Congo is the result of over a century of enslavement, torture and murder - with Canadian mining companies now playing a prominent role.  And Congo is just one of many holocausts in Europe.

But you won't read this in the Moncton Times. Instead, you'll read about our humanitarian and heroic bombing of Libya, our humanitarian concern for Syria......

In the west, our economic leaders have been happy to slaughter, pillage, and destroy on a scale that Hitler would have envied.

What makes you think they give a damn about what they might do to you?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

June 28:

There's a story on section A, p. 5 about our New Brunswick fishermen and the low price they get for lobsters, the lowest of any Atlantic province. There has always been something strange about the wholesale buyers of lobsters in this province. It's not just the low prices they pay. Sometimes, it's about late payments, no payments at all, payments that are less than promised.  This has been going on for a long time; but it seems never to have attracted the attention of anybody in government. Here's a case where a newspaper could do a bit of digging. But it never has in the past; and it almost certainly won't now.

The front page headline is the Transpo bus lockout. There is a second story about it on A11 "Residents upset by lock out"(which should be spelled lockout). The second story carries a gem of inanity - that the bus drivers are wrong to ask for raise similar to that for Halifax bus driver - because Halifax is a bigger city.

Think about that.

To the best of my knowledge, even in Halifax, bus drivers drive only one bus at a time, and for the same hours as Moncton bus drivers.  But more bothersome, much more bothersome, is the attitude we see in Mayor Leblanc and in today's editorial of putting a price on what people are worth. It's treated as if it were a moral issue; and I'm suprised that officials at Callander University seem not read enough of The Bible to question.

The reality in our world is that people are worth what they can get. That's the principle we work on. Nobody gives a damn what their real worth to society might be. Nobody gives a damn what they need. All that counts is the power to get.

For almost a century, the wealth of the United States was built on slavery. (So was a good deal of the wealth of Canada -with both Africans and native peoples used as slaves.) Without the slaves, that wealth would simply not have happened. The slaves got nothing out of it except short and miserable lives. But George Washington, slave owner, became the wealthiest man in the US.  George Washington had power.

Very few people (in fact, almost none) of the people who made great contributions to this world became wealthy as a result. Winston Churchill, who has been hailed as the greatest man of his century, never made big money. Noe did Nelson Mandela who endured years in prison to come out - and free South Africa. Martin Luther King didn't make big money. Tommy Douglas probably made a bigger and more lastinig contribution (medicare, for example) to Canada than any politician before or since him. But he never lived in a mansion or had limos.

(Perhaps the experts at Callander University can check this out, but I can't recall Jesus or Buddha or Muhammed or Confucius living the high life.)

But in Canada, a third-rate hockey player who makes no great contribution to the world at all  (nor, for that matter does a first-rate hockey player)  is 'worth' many times as much a year as any prime minister, surgeon, engineer......  So is a rock star who can only paint his face, strum three chords on a guitar, and wail through his nose.

How much does Mr. Irving make in a year? What outstanding skills and training does he have? (I don't know of any at all.) How has he made our lives better? Would he have a business empire if he had not inherited it? Without him, would nobody have cut down our trees and made paper out of them?  Would we have no gas stations? No convenience stores? No newspapers?

Would it be possible for Mr. Irving to run all his empire without low wage labout?  Without our high taxes and his low ones? I'm sure he couldn't. So we are, all of us,in real terms, worth at least as much as Mr. Irving. Unfortunately, what people like the editorial writer of TandT do is to use worth as though if meant power - and only power.

That idea of  'what people are worth' is crass, ignorant, and immoral by any standard I can think of.

The fact is that City Council has never come to grips with the issue of providing a decent and efficient mass transit system. That's why so few use it. That's why it costs us a subsidy. Thats why the mayor is punishing the drivers for his own failure to act in an intellgent manner.

C1 has another excellent example of how Postmedia News turns news into propaganda. The headline says "Canadians want choice in health care access: poll".  But you have to read almost to the end of the article that if the choice were between medicare and a private health system, 80% of those polled were against private care, and wanted medicare.

The headline, based on a different question, gave the opposite impression. And any journalist knows that the headline and a bit of the story are all that most readers will look at.  So Post Media is really lying. Why did Postmedia do that?

It's no accident. Like The Moncton Times and Transcript, Post Media and The National Post are essentially propaganda agencies to peddle the big business line that all government is bad, and everything should be privatized.

Reuters, another propganda outfir, is whipping up the usual frenzy about killings in Syria. In fact, the western world kills far more people in Africa ever day than have been killed in the whole Syrian war. We do it by holding back on aid to stop HIV, by putting impossible conditions on such aid, and by paying absurdly high prices to pharmaceutical companies for the little aid we do send. (But this is a long story that I'll save for a slow day.)

C6 is a must-see page for people who just love pictures of smiling strangers holding up giant-sized cheques.

Norbert's column is a must-read for anybody interested in some very old rules of grammar. The final paragraph is a gem. He manages to blame the schools for not preaching grammar in the old and discredited way he preaches it - another sign that he knows nothing about education.

Then, for a gem of a final sentence in a column about grammar and clarity, he writes, "--- English rules that schools haven also paid less attention to than they should have."

Rod Allen once again demonstrates he can fill a half-page with nothing. I guess we can consider him a sort of bus driver who spends his whole life driving an empty bus.

Good columns by Alec Bruce and Joday Allaire.

There is a cute letter from David Barnett which (in humour) suggests private schools as a cheaper alternative to the Royal Oaks scheme, and which would be superior to public schools. In fact, private schools are more expensive than public ones, and with no special advantage. The spread of private schooling in the US, for example, has led to a stunning drop in world rankings for American education.

Mind you, in a province that smells of dirty deals like the Royal Oaks one, it might be as well to have private schools so we can see the corruption right out in the open.  Of course, the teachers would have to be paid less than in Halifax because Moncton is smaller than Halifax.

Oh -July 3 (Tuesday) at 7 pm, the current events group at the Moncton Library. I'd love to see you there. The TandT has again forgotten to advertise it in its section of events for the week.

But there's no need for me to feel personally offended. The TandT must also be one of the few newspapers in the world that today has not carried the story of the terrible fire in Colorado Springs.







Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 27: Let me save you some money.....

Today's Moncton Times and Transcript is only for those with an uncontrollable passion to read ads. The NewsToday section has six pages of ads. Make that six and a half because the page 10 story "province ranked last for oil and gas in Canada" is an ad for the oil and gas industry.

It's a report of a survey by the Fraser Institute. The story doesn't bother to mention what the Fraser Insistute is - a  propaganda front for industries like oil and gas. Think of it as a sort of intellectual brothel like the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies.

 Remember the incident when Windsor Energy did some testing without bothering to wait to for the municipality involved to give it permission? And Mr. Northrup called for an RCMP toinvestigation? .And the RCMP said what Windsor had done was against regulations - but there was no penalty under our "tough" regulations?

O-O-Oh. That was a bad thing. No, no. It wasn't bad to run a shale has exploration in violation of the regulations. What was bad was for a cabinet minister to investigate it. In fact, what was bad was to have regulations in the first place, even if they aren't enforced.

And, come on, folks. Does anyone think that the responsible cabinet minister, Mr Northrup, didn't know that the regulation could not be enforced even as he asked for an RCMP investigation? If he can't read his own regulations, couldn't he hire somebody to help him?

Look TandT, we know you're in bed with the oil and gas industry. In fact, we know you're in bed with anybody who has a dollar. But spare us this propaganda crap in the name of news.

Oh,guess who The Fraser Institute got their ratings from. Of course. They came from senior executives in the oil and gas industry.  That's like asking a conference of pimps whether a convent is a good place to recruit hookers.

The ace reporters at the TandT missed the news that city council candidates were sent cheques by the developer who wants the Royal Oaks project approved by the new council. The candidates seem to have returned the cheques - but the fact they were sent tells us worlds about an experienced developer's perception of what the political morality of New Brunswick is.

Anyway, the lesson of this story is that TandT reporters should listen to CBC news if they want to know what's going on.

de Adder continues to be a good cartoonist - but a  yokel political cartoonist. The big news in the Rothesay byelection is not that a conservative won. That is clear in an excellent news story on C9, "Results show NDP growth: prof". Part of that big news is that the Conservatives suffered a big drop in their vote; and most of that loss seems to have gone to the gain of the NDP which tripled its support in the riding.

But maybe de Adder didn't read the news. Or maybe he has trouble understanding big words. His cartoon shows the NDP campaign bus (an old VW) in a swimming pool with the caption "The by-election didn't go so well."

Hyuck. Hyuck.

The editorial page is once again monopolized by two, pointless articles by staff writers, leaving the Pet of the Day photo as the only point of interest.

Norbert's column on grammar is quite a decent one - if you are passionately interested in the history of grammar. It would be more useful if he were to give us examples of how we (and our newspapers) spread ignorance by using words that provoke emotional reactions - but that few understand. What, exactly, does fascist mean, Norbert? Does Canada have any of the characteristics of a fascist state? Does the US?

Exactly what does terrorism mean? Would killing a quarter-million innocent people in Guatemala count as terrorism? Does killing innocent people with drones count as terrorism?

What is a 'crime against humanity'? Does the widespread use of torture count?

Alec Bruce's column is good, but rather loses me at the end. For a start, it uses the word entrepreneur pretty loosely to mean anyone from a multi-billionaire to a hot dog vendor. I can see where survival is tough for a hot dog vendor. But banks get bailouts - and bonuses - for going broke.

Anyway, if all Canadians were entrepreneurs, as Bruce suggests, where would they get employees? Oh, I know. We could get some of those worthless people from poor countries.

A letter to the letter suggests Don Cherry should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Some people would be very opposed  to that, saying that he is an ignorant, loud-mothed lout. I don't agree.

Don Cherry is a very intelligent man. He has proven it by showing he can figure out how to make himself rich by appealing to louts.

If you want to undestand what's going on the in the world, save your money and read Google news. Better still, go to Google and search for Project for the New American Century. In the 1990s, a far, right wing group published a document that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US now had a 'window of opportunity' to conquer the world, and to control all world resources and markets.

Of course, they didn't use those words. They didn't say conquer or control. They said 'establish military dominance', and 'spread American values'.

The authors of that report were people like Jeb Bush, George's brother. Also Dick Cheney, Bush's VP.  Most of Bush's White House had been involved in framing the project. So, on the fringes, had been stooge columnists and propagandists like David Frum, the Canadian who would become one of Bush's many speech-writers.

That's why, when 9/11 was carried out mostly by Saudi Arabians, Bush didn't attack Saudi Arabia. He didn't even mention it.  He invaded Iraq which had no connection with 9/11, killing over a million people to get control of its oil. That's why he invaded Afghanistan, despite the lack of evidence that the government of Afghanistan had anything to do with 9/11. That's why we bombed Libya, supported dictatorial regimes in Africa, and are now threatening war against Syria, Iran and, perhaps Pakistan.

Canadians get involved because, just as Britain in its declining days had to call on its empire for help (the Boer War). so the US in its declining days needs NATO. That's why we have been gradually moving away from the UN as the major world body - so we can convert NATO into a western alliance for world dominance.

Canada is doing it at the request (demand) of those who also demanded we get involved in the Boer War - the country's business leaders who stood to make money out of British favour just as they now stand to make money out of American favour. That's why on TV you saw British P.M. Tony Blair listening with a big grin as Bush gave his first address to Congress after 9/11. He was getting in on the gound floor of the great, western empire. I remember watching that big grin, and thinking it was a bizarre act at a gathering held because 3,000 innocent people had been murdered.

Those same leaders who pretended to mourn the deaths of 3000 innocent people have used those deaths as a cynical excuse to kill at least 2,000,000 people who had nothing to do with it. And there are a lot more to be killed before the project is completed.

It's not going well. The wars have been far costlier in lives and money than expected - and far less successful than expected. And, like Rome in its declining years, the US is forced increasingly to rely on mercenaries.

As well, the economic leaders behind the project have created their own disaster in the world's economies, one that will almost certainly lead to serious violence even here.

Take a look at the Project for the New American Century. That's what's happening in the world today.

But you'll never read about it in the Irving Press.





Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 26: Mea culpa

Yesterday, the Moncton Free Press got it right; I got part of it wrong; and the Moncton Times and Transcript didn't get it at all.

The big story was that Moncton city council planned to accept a deal under which it will get some 12 million dollars toward providing services to the high school at Royal Oaks, and that it would make it official (yesterday) at a time when most of the public couldn't attend the meeting. All that part did happen.

My mistake was to misread  the MFP story, and say that the provincial government would formally approve the deal at the same time. That latter part was not, in fact, part of the procedure.

The whole deal still has quite a stink to it. This is turning out to be one hell of an expensive high school by any standard. And we still don't have any clear idea of the final price tag, Nor have we any information on why the Royal Oaks site is so superior to the other options that it is worth it to the taxpayers to pay millions of dollars extra for it.

The government won't tell. And the Irving Press won't ask.

We are also left with a city council that sneaked in a meeting under the radar, and that effectively surrendered contol over its own city development plan (which remains vague, anyway).

Significantly, the TandT had no editorial on all this. It needed the space for a more important opinion that children under the age of 12 should be allowed to babysit.  Well, why not? If they can write editorials, they surely can babysit.

The only other news of importance in Secton A is that we won't have much helium to blow up balloons for parties this summer.

Section C (NewsToday) has an interesting story at the bottom of p. 1. It's interesting because it shows how news stories can be used to spread propaganda while seeming to give real news. This one comes from Postmedia (which is very good at spreading propaganda). "Harper was warned of Syria ignoring outrage" says the headline.

Wow! A big scandal about Harper? No. A surprising story? No. A big secret? No.

There is no scandal. Harper got a secret report from his bureaucrats? So? Of course he gets secret reports, lots of them. What's the big deal?

He was warned that the government of Syria is committing crimes against humanity. So? We've all known that for well over a year. Harper didn't need a secret report to learn that. All he had to do was to listen to the news occasionally.

In fact, the story wasn't about Harper at all. It was really used as an excuse to spread the opinion of those who want a war against Syria. It's about the report, not Harper. And it's about stiirring up hatred against the government of Syria.

Postmedia doesn't say how it got the document. But I think we can guess how. Harper handed it over to Postmedia - a news service with a long record of stirring up hatreds to suck us into wars.

The words of the report are words like 'outrage', 'crime', 'rape', 'imprisonment', 'torture of children'....
And it's quite true.  Trouble is the report leaves out things that are also true.

Torture of both children and adults, rape, imprisonment, killing of civilians are quite common acts of our side. Then there are Obama's attacks by drones on countries he isn't even at war with, attacks that kill more civilians than 'militants'. The US does not release numbers on those killed, and it always refers to the dead as "militants'. If so, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen have an awful lot of dead militant babies and children.

As well, the reason the fighting goes on in Syria is because Turkey, France, Britain, the US, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain supply weapons, training and money to the rebels - most of whom are not interested in democracy, and many of whom are not even Syrians, but mercenaries.

There is alsoplenty of evidence that the rebels are quite as  brutal in indiscriminate in killing as the Syrian government is.

It is not possible that the bureaucrats who wrote this report did not know all this. Nor can I imagine any reason to stamp this report secret.  Everything that is says (and all those parts it left out about our side) have been public knowledge for a very long time.

In addition to that, top-level bureaucrats simply do not write reports in the emotionally loaded language this one uses. They don't bust their buttons over 'outrage' and 'criminal' and 'rape'. That sort of language is reserved for posturing politicians - and editors.

Postmedia claims it got the report using the Access to Information Act. Come on, kiddies. We all know that government can hide any story it considers secret. It  has often enough done so, despite the Access to Information Act.

This 'secret report' is a setup. It was written to get us ready to take part in a war against Syria, to be followed by another against Iran. This is a report that was written with the intention to release it, especially to cooperative propagandists like Postmedia.

The 'Your Business' page continues to lack any rational purpose. Today's big story is that Magic Mountain is hoping for a good year. Gee! Who would have guessed?

Today's editorial cartoon isn't offensive. It's just witless. Of course, urban ridings are smaller than rural ones. That's because so many people live in cities; and our elected members represent people, not trees.

There are closely related, and worrying, commentaries by Alec Bruce and Gwynne Dyer. They're about the reality that governments are deliberately killing the planet, and they're doing it to please the corporations that control our governments. The corporations don't give a damn about who they hurt. They happily killed a million people to get control of Iraq oil. As a news story on p. 1 of Section C indicates, our federal government has been blocking restrictions on asbestos for years, though it's well known that asbestos is a killer. In fact, Harper has been obliging his masters by cutting way back on environmental regulations. Why should we think it would bother the bosses to kill New Brunswickers?

Norbert has a decent column on the importance of correct grammar in making ourselves understood. I would just add another important factor in using words clearly. We (and especially politicians and the news media) use words that produce an emotional reaction - but words which neither the speaker nor the listener understands.

Samples are words like liberal, conservative, socialist, culture, terrorist.....  I've noticed that Norbert often uses them when he doesn't seem to know what they mean. And that's not real communication at all.

The most important story in today's paper is the one about Harper's 'secret' report on Syria. This is a clear signal that Harper has bought into the idea of a war on Syria - probably before the American election. And nobody can foretell what that will lead to. There is an extremely dangerous game being played here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

June25: Moncton Free Press scoops TandT

The Moncton Free Press, a news service on the web staffed by volunteers, is way ahead of The Monctron Times and Transcript, though the TandT has a paid staff of hard-nosed reporters whose front-page flash was that motorcyles can be dangerous. Wow! Who would have guessed?

Other front page news is "Frye statue set for reveal", this one written by a biggie, Alan Chochane. It must , I guess, be a statue of Frye twisting in his grave at that headline's grotesque perversion of the English language.

The Moncton Free Press Story, which outclasses any news story in the the whole edition of today's Tand T, is that the Alward government, assisted by a not-very-bright and not at all ethical Moncton city council, is trying to sneak through a legal approval of the Royal Oaks school deal before opponents can get the case to court. How's that for listening to the people? Or even listening to the law?

Apparently, the city council discussed this at a secret meeting, approved it; and  it could well go through the provincial legislature today.

So much for listening. So much for democracy. So much for respect for the people of New Brunswick. As for The Moncton Times and Transcript - so much for honesty - or so much for ethics, or so much for brains. Pick any or all of the three.

For those who still lust for more, more, more, today's edition has two more pages of pictures of grads.

There was nothing to speak of in NewsToday. The Truthful Times has yet to catch up with the three- day old news that Syria shot down a Turkish military aircraft in Syrian airspace; and Turkey is taking this to the UN while the US is muttering dark threats. (Gee. Americans would never shoot down an enemy aircraft over US territory.)

 And no mention of the news that US troops last week carried out military exercises with armoured personnel carriers in the streets of St. Louis, Missouri. (Gee. Wonder what that could be for. Fear of a Stanley Cup riot?)

It's now common knowledge that the "rebel" troops in Syria are being paid and equipped by the US, France and Britain working through Turkey and those great democracies, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain  (both of whom have been killing their rebels with nobody saying boo.) But I've yet to see it in the TandT.

The president of Syria may well be all that is said of him -mass murderer, dictator. But these are not unusual among our best friends. Why get our knickers in a twist over Syria, but not over the US murder by drones of thousands of innocent people, many of them in countries that the US is at 'peace" with.

Any intervention in Syria also poses the risk of becoming a very big war, possibly the biggest one.

But here in Moncton, we don't need to worry about that. What we have to do is to complete a deal for building a new school, a deal that smells of corrutpion and theft.

Section D, p.1 has a remarkable photo of Mallory Belzile, a Moncton dancer. It makes me feel awed and old, so old that I'm obsolete. And I'm willing to bet that this is a dancer Moncton will be very proud of.

The first editorial is a remarkably ignorant one on the recent loss of a school day. In the opinion of the editor, it is the terrible example of an education administration disrupting a whole school year by cancelling one day of classes. Where does the TandT dig up these foaming at the mouth ignoramuses? In all my years in education, I never even heard of one day disrupting a whole school year - and that includes the day a fellow professor murdered five professors in their offices.

In any case, and as any teacher or schoolchild knows but the editor doesn't, this was at a very slack time in the school year.

Of course, anything to say that will provide an excuse to attack the schools and the education system will do. It also uses the words 'union' and 'bureaucracy' as dirty words.
1, Of course unions look after the interests of their members, That's what they are supposed to do. Just like Mr. Irving looks after his interests, and the Truthful Times kisses his.......... feet for it.

2. Please buy a dictionary for whoever is the twit of the day writing editorials. A bureaucrat is a professional administrator. That does not mean stupid or stuffy or dumber than even a TandT editor. It means a professional at administrating within an organization. All such structures (Irving Oil springs to mind), have bureaucrats. If the editor can read, he or she might try reading a history of the reign of Louis XIV. That's when professional administrators were first used in place of incompetent aristocrats to manage the affairs of the country. Louis' system was so successful, it was copied by private business. Jim Irving is a senior bureaucrat. Wanna try writing something derogatory about him?

The second editorial apologizes for a de Adder cartoon. Such an apology is extremely rare in the newspaper world. That's because most newspapers hire editors who are intelligent enough to recognize a cartooon that is both erroneus and insulting - so the cartoon never makes it onto the page in the first place. What went wrong here was not de Adder. What went wrong was an incompetent editorial page editor.

Norbert has a mixed bag, really, of three editorials. The first one looks good but has a secret agenda. See if you can figure what it is. The second one makes sense (except for the civic centre). The third one is just a rant, not completely wrong; but just a rant.

There's a very solid, and rather a sad column by  Alec Bruce.

Allen Abel, on the War of 1812, gives a hint of just how much American history is pure bunk. For what was simply a war of aggression by the US against Canada, American students are still taught the war was to defend their freedom. (It's rather like  how they are taught that George Washington believed that all men were created equal - a rather odd belief for a man who was the biggest slave holder in the US.)

In fact, the US has never had to fight a war for its freedom because nobody has ever attacked it. (No. The attack on Pearl Harbor was certainly a lawful cause for the US to declare war. But American freedom was never the issue. And that was the only attack, ever, by any government on US soil. Check Google. You will find the US has fought probably more wars in the past 230 years or so than any other country in the world, and almost all have been wars of aggression.)

Canada is distinguished as the only country that stopped the US - until Vietnam did it, too.

Meanwhile, Mr. Harper is creating his own mythology. Our celebration of the War of 1812 has nothing to do with any aggression.My goodness, no. It's all about what good friends we have been every since  and, as Mr. Harper said in an original flash of inisght and wit, "we have the longest, undefended border in the world."

Shove it, Mr. Harper. The War of 1812 was not about peace and friendship. And, in fact, the US frequently threatened wsr again through the nineteenth century and early into the twentieth. At the end of the civil war, it encouraged Fenian invasions of Canada, ready to step in should the Fenians have proven successful.

We are at peace with the US now because we can't possibly go to war with it. It is at peace with us now because it doesn't have to go to war with us. It can get all it wants without war.

As Mr. Harper has designed it, the celebration of the War of 1812 is pure politics, and probably based on a genuine ignorance of a)what our history is and b)how nations interact.

And the bigger reality is that the US is now involved in the greatest wars of aggression of its history. It is effectively at war with most of the world because its wealth, now more than ever, depends on its military power. But for the past fifty years, that military, though certainly murderous, has not been very successful Thus the turning to NATO and to us.

So the War of 1812 celebration is not about how we saved Canada. It's about what good friends we are, and how we're going to help them fight wars to make their billionaires richer. (And our billionaires, too.)


,

Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 23: Why is it called a newspaper?

The Moncton Times and Transcript for today must be well over half advertising. Then there are more, damned grad photos. Then there are pages of comics,  advice columns, horoscopes. And then when do find a lonely piece of news, it's a "who cares" item. Donne moi un break.

Where is all the information on shale gas we were promised? Where are the reasons for choosing Royal Oaks over other sites for a new high school?  I mean, I know that nobody in Frederiction gives a damn about what happens to our children or why. But surely we're allowed to know why our tax money is being spent as it is. But, no. Our infrastructure minister on the first page says he doesn't care what we think. He's going ahead; and he's not going to tell us anything. (There's obviously a spelling error in his first name. Surely, it must be Clod.)

And the editorial on the same subject is so wacky, it's worth reading for its tone of hysteria and illogic. It seems four citizens are taking the school case to court. And I should think that not unreasonable in your average democracy.

But the strident 'We say" insert pronounces 'Hoax' group has descended into hysteria, hyperbole and hype. Anybody who could writes a sentence like that about citizens taking a case to court certainly knows something about hysteria, hyperbole and hype.

The school location was, says the editorial writer, discussed, debated, and consulted on for years. (Where do they find these half-wit editorial writers?) There is not the slightest evidence the government paid any attention to any discussion, debate or consultation. In fact, it still refuses to tell us what the other sites were, and why they were rejected.

As to the choice of location beinig a provincial power - no doubt. But even an MLA as elevated as Clod Williams has an obligation in a democracy to give a full explanation to the voters. And he has consistently refused to do so.

Then the writer goes ballistic over the use of the term 'royal hoax'. Goodeness gracious, says the editor, "...a hoax is a fraud; a crime. To imply that the provincial government has committed a crime by carrying out its mandate is patently absurd."

Well, at least that's worth a giggle. But it's also betrays an ignorance of the English language.

Nobody has said the government committed a crime BY carryinig out its mandate. The suggestion is it committed a crime IN THE WAY it carried out its mandate. See the difference Mr. editor?

No. Of course not.

It's interesting to compare Bill Belliveau's column on the Rio environment council to the news statement by our evironment minister Peter Kent. Belliveau says it was a zero. Kent says it was a great success. Both are right.

The Candian  government wanted it to be a zero. So it was a big success for Harper. It was a disaster only for the rest of the world.

As a person who once taught journalism ethics, I was shocked at a photo identified as that of a panhandler. (p. A2.) Such photos are standard practice in scandal tabloids. But real newspapers normally do not run photos that could identify people and place them in a bad light. Exceptions might be those arrested for crimes or caught in an illegal act. This photo does not fit into the exceptions. This is just bad taste and bad journalism.

Christina Korotkov makes a good point that we have a right to express our religious thoughts and beliefs. We certainly have such a right - and we should use it. Though a Christian, she is fond of a quotation from Ghandi, a Hindu; and she suspects some people would be critical of that.

Well, some would be but, like most, major religions, Hinduism, like Islam and Confucianism, makes a great deal of sense. And they can be quite compatible with each other. (Remember, it was not Hindus who invaded Britain and subjugated the Christians.)

My problem is with Christians who get so obsessed with irrelevancies in their faith (like whether the three wise men came on camels or Harleys) that they spend all their time talking about their faith but not time living it. It's possible you might know some like that, even here in Moncton.

There's no real news in the Moncton Truthful Times today. Did anything happen in the world? Well, the US has announced plans to send troops into Pakistan looking for 'militants'. Sending troops into another country without its permission is called war. Mind you, the US has been bombing Pakistan for well over a year, killing uncounted numbers of people, apparently most of them innocent civilians. That, too, is called war.

It has also been using drones to kill people at gatherings like wedding parties in Somalia and Yemen, and to spy on Iran, Syria, Russia. It has also been carrying out cyber attacks on Iran. These are all acts of war.

Under the US constitution, only congress can declare war. Under international law, such attacks are criminal. (The US has tortured Omar Khadr, convicted him by a military court, and now holds him in a military prison. That, too, is criminal under international law.)

The reality is that the US constitution is now largely fiction. Presidents freely go to war, and Congress doesn't even get to say say boo. It operates the largest torture system in the world, freely bombs countries whenever it feels like it. International law, an achievement that took tens of thousands of years to accomplish, is a dead letter. For Americans, the right to have charges laid and to have a trial is gone. They can be (and have been) imprisoned without it.

Remember Libya, the country we bombed for 'humanitarian' reasons? It's now well into civil war, a madhouse of rape, pillage, indiscriminate murder. On Nov. 11, we'll thank our air force for bringing peace and democracy to it

Lots of stuff like that.

But the TandT only had room (all those prom pictures and ads) for serious stuff, like how terrible it is to suggest that our provincial government might not be entirely honest and open.





Friday, June 22, 2012

June 22: will the grad season never end....?

I used to think the only newspaper I have ever seen that is more vapid than The Moncton Times and Transcipt is another local effort called Snap or Snapshot. It is page after page of photos of groups of strangers smiling at the camera. Reading it is like finally getting a girl alone in her living room, then having her parents come in with a stack of family photo albums for the evening's entertainment.

TandT wall to wall coverage of high school graduation is like that. Enough, already. We could have used a few page for the long-promised information on shale gas.

The obviously oustanding story in local news, a story that should have been page one, is the court challenge of the decision to build a new high school at Royal Oaks. But it's a single column - on p. 3.
The lead story on p. 1  concerns the decision to cancel a "relocation of staff" day for the schools. Few readers will be interested enough to go past the headline - nor is there any indication in the story of why (or whether) they should be interested.

The only other story worth reading in Section A is the one about a man who is charged with swiping some steel beams. I mean, this isn't like shoplifting some scotch tape or a pair of gloves. How do you slip out with a bunch of steel beams in your pocket? And to sell them - do you sneak up to a guy at the corner, and whisper, "Hey? Wanna buy some hot steel beams?"

This has movie possibilities.

Desperate for something to read, I went from Section A to Letters to the Editor.

There is an unintentionally hilarious one "Capt. Alward will right the ship"; a well-deserved slap labelled "Bailing out the blurting boomers"; several good ones covering items the Tand T has missed in its reporting; and a very annoying one "Israel has good relief record". It accuses people who criticize the Israeli government of being anti-semitic. Then it goes on to ignore most of what the Israeli government has done to draw criticism. It also shows a crashing lack of logic.
1. If I criticize Harper, am I an anti-Canadian? If I refuse to vote for Alward in the next election, am I anti-New Brunswicker? How does criticizing the Israeli government make me anti-semitic?
2. The majority of Jewish Israelis are not semites, not by descent and not by language and not by culture. They are Ashkenazis, descended from converts to Judaism in Germany and Eastern Europe.
3. Arabs are semitic. Most notably, Palestinians are semitic. If anything, then, it is Israelis who are anti-semitic.
4.What annoys me about these accusations is that I lived most of my life in Jewish social circles. I have close friends who are Jews, observant Jews who support Zionism, and some of whom now live in Israel. But they are critical of the racism that has developed in Israel, and they are critical of the Israeli government for its treatment of Palestinians. So they are glibly and publicly denounced as "anti-semites".
5. I'm glad to hear that Israel has helped out in natural disasters. I'm not entirely sure that makes it okay for the Israeli government to blockade Palestine, annex Palestinian land, evict Palestinians from their homes and property, blockade Palestine so it loses access to medical supplies and fuel, and cannot import materials to rebuild after the Israeli attack that destoyed so many buildings and killed so many civilians.
6. Enough of these glib and self-righteous pronouncements.

Most of NewsToday is the usual dead loss. You can get far more by going to Google, and checking 'News'.
The one story worth reading is about Omar Khadr. He may have killed an American soldier during at American attack in Afghanistan.The US illegally held him prisoner for years at Guantanamo, and almost certainly tortured him. (International law forbids treating  child soldiers like adults. Of course, it also forbids torture; but who gives a damn)'  Canada is the only country in the world to allow one of its citizens to be held in that way.Australia and Britain both demanded and received immediate return of their citizens.  Khadr was then tried before a military court  (also forbidden under international law) - which means a very unfair trial, indeed, one that accepted testimony obtained by torture..

At last, it was the US that had to ask Canada to take up its obligation to intervene on behalf of its own citizen.

And Canada still won't do it.

The editorial and op ed pages are, perhaps, the two best pages I have ever seen in the The Moncton Times and Transcript.

The editorial is lightweight, but not obnoxious. The editorial cartoon is - well - the usual. It's a circle of some thirty patients surrounding just one hospital bed. A more subtle cartoonist might have sketched the American private medecine situation with millions of people in a vast circle with no hospital bed at all within reach.  Figures for last year show that close to 4,000 Californians died because they didn't have medical insurance.

But the rest is pretty good. And that includes Norbert.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 21: The Queen must be doing a great job....

....she got a pay raise of 20% for a total of  over $57million Canadian dollars a year. I'm so happy. It's even higher than the 16% paid to corporation executives in Britain. And way more that the average of 1% for the common people who line he streets to wave at here when she passes. (Oh, the $57 mil is in addition to her investment income.

One (of many) things The Moncton Times and Transcript fails to do is to link world events to Moncton. They really do affect us (the Great Depresion, World War Two, Korea, Afghanistan). But there's rarely a hint of this in the news.

For example, Russian ships and troops are headed to Syria at a time when Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and (indirectely) the US, Britain and France are supporting a rebellion in that country. The Russians are sending reinforcements there to protect a naval base that is important to them. American politicians are openly speaking of invading Syria as a prelude to attacking Iran.

At the same time, the US has despatched a major naval force to the Pacific, and is stepping up its Asian land bases in order to limit the influence of China.

Could this possibly affect Moncton? Well, possibly. We'll forget, for the moment, the possibility of nuclear war or of being dragged in to find a large, conventional one facing an allied Russia and China. (Oh, and remember they would be facing a NATO that couldn't beat Afghanistan.

Let's just think what will happen to the price of oil in such a case, and what effect two dollars plus for a litre will do to local consumers and to the the tourist industry. Think what it will do to national priorities in spending.

Wow! What a great time to borrow a hundred million for a new "civic" centre with a big parking lot!

Or let's assume the Syria/Iran thing blows over. Okay, then all we have is the economic collapse of Europe that is following the the economic collapse of the US. (Oh, and we have the violence coming in Europe and the US as the rich continue to give each other raises even as they cut off food stamps to starvng children.)

Wow! Won't that be great for tourism in Moncton? And what a great time to borrow a hundred million for a new 'civic' centre!

Notice there are moe panhandlers on the streets? Gee. I wonder if that could have something to do with with worsening economic times.

But don't worry. I'm sure the Alward government and the Moncton City council have been watching this; and they have plans all ready.

and Norbert, oh, Norbert. He has a comment on climate change, and the lack of action by world leaders at the Rio Summit. There's been no action since the first summit twenty years ago, and not even a pretence at action this time. And you know whose fault that is?

No, he didn't name school teachers or bus drivers this time. No. It's all those protesters. They're the ones (though for reasons that are unclear).  And you know who will save us?

Captitalists. That's who. People like that nice Mr. Irving who have done so much to freshen the air in St. John - the same people who have been blocking any action to deal with the problems of pollution and fossil fuels  - the same ones who have been polluting New Brunswick with shale gas drilling,  the same people who control all those politicians at Rio. They will fix all our environmental problems. They have the know-how. I mean, these are the people who created the problem in the first place. Trust them.

There is a letter to the editor from an admirer of the wit and insight of Norbert. He is, it seems, the spokesman for the silent majority. (I don't know if such people are a majority. But if they are, they could bring peace to the world by actually being silent.)

To provide balance, read the feature letter to the editor by a teacher. In contrast to the rantings of the TandT, this is what a real and concerned teachers sounds like; and it talks about the high rate of dropouts in grade nine. It's a particularly difficult problem for the teacher because it's a social one. Children from financially secure families rarely drop out of school. It's the children of the poor who do. I taught in a school in which the majority were relatively poor. (I was a student in a school in which the majority were very poor.) Poverty creates problems that a teacher can do little to remedy. It's a problem we all  have to work on.

And living in a society which grovels at the feet of the rich while pouring contempt on bus drivers, minimum wage workers and EI recipients is not the way to work on the problem.

The good columns are the usual ones - Alec Bruce and Jody Dallaire. Today, Jody really nails it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 20: The forgotten summer heat of 1814

Not sure what today's column will be about or, as I write, even what the title will be. But I am struck by two items on the editorial page. the cartoon and Norbert's column.

An editorial cartoon has two components, a good artist - and one with a knowledge of the subject. Terry Mosher is probably the best in Canada in those respects.

De Adder is a good artist - but his insight is, at best, ordinary. Today's cartoon shows President al-Assad sweeping the bodies of his victims under the rug. Cute. The problem with it is that it implies that al-Assad is the one behind most of the violence in Syria. But, in fact, nobody knows who is behind it.

The story spread in the western world is that al-Assad is the villain, and that the people fighting him are those who want democracy. That story is essential to build an excuse for invading Syria. But it does have weak points. One is that very few of the rebels appear to have any interest in democracy. Some are ardent Islamists who want Syria to be a rigid, Islamic state like Saudi Arabia. Some are mercenaries imported and paid for by the west and Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

And nobody knows which side has been responsible for widely reported atrocities. Western meda usually claim it's the government side. But that's because most western media, like Reuters, have been taking their news from the rebels.

In short, there is nothing clever about de Adder's cartoon. It is simply a mindless repetition of western propaganda.

Normally, an editor normally has to approve such a cartoon. (Terry Mosher has a great collection of the ones he wasn't allowed to publish.) Of course, that also means that such an editor is supposed to know what's going on in the world. And it means he is supposed to dump propaganda and go for the truth. None of those conditions applies in the Irving press.

Then we come to Norbert's column on the War of 1812 when the US invaded Canada, and was beaten back. He bemoans the lack of popular knowledge of Canadian history, and complains of the boredom of it at the public school level. Quite true. Then he raises the story of how "we" marched all the way to Washington to burn the White House.

Gee, Norbert - talk about ignorance of the war. We did not march all the way to Washington. Any such march would have destroyed the whole strategy of our side by stirring up the coastal states which were lukewarm about the war. As well, most of the British troops might well have deserted on the way - anything to get out of the misery of army life. The attack on Washington came by sea.

Nor was it all fought by the British. That naval war on the Great Lakes was fought largely by Newfoundlanders. Many of the "British" regiments were fencibles, locals who enlisted to fight within their home region. In the War of 1812,that meant men from the Atlantic colonies and Canada. These fought their way to some quite magnificent victories, often against superior odds.

A francophone regiment drove off a much bigger American force near Montreal. It was led by a man named de Salaberry who had entered military service about the age of 12, and who was commanding troops in action while still in his mid-teens.

Norbert's bemoaning  that there was no general history of the CPR until 103 years after it was built indicates 1.a shaky knowledge of when it was built and 2. an ignorance of the fact that there were very few Canadian historians until well into the 20th century.

That's his prelude to moaning about the lack of even a TV documentary about the war of 1812. If he were to check google, he might get a surprise. One of the best documentaries on it is by Brian McKenna of Gala films though, perhaps, Norbert may be turned off by the fact it is distributed by one of those awful public organization, The National Film Board of Canada.

(Trust me on this one, Norbert. I've known KcKenna for many years; and I was a historical advisor for the documentary. Care to debate it with me?)

It's true that Canadian history is pretty dull in the schools. That's because if a teacher were to tell the truth about it (which would make it interesting), the Norbert's of this world would loudly demand he or she be fired. (Remember how the papers and the government of this province led the chaseof   a school principal out of town when the local yahoos got mad at him for not playing O Canada every morning?)

When McKenna did a quite truthful documentary on Canada in World War Two (The Valour and the Horror) the Legion took up a rabid campaign against him, And the Canadian Senate produced a committee of louts and ignoramuses to conduct a witch hunt. I appeared before that committee to file a statement of what louts they were - and I presume it still exists in some Senate record. I hope so.

Norbert wonders why our academic historians don't produce a popular history of that war. Well, there are well over a hundred and fifty books and articles about that war though, admittedly, relatively few could be are popular books by academics.

That's because academics usually write for status and prestige. We encourage that by encouraging the academic snobbery of our universities as a sign of their quality. Consequently, they look on popular writing - or anything that somebody might actually read - as a sign of mental defectiveness.

Then Norbert says our own Stephen Harper is leading the way again in setting up a celebration of the war of 1812. (And he ends that sentence, quite improperly, with an exclamation mark.) As a matter of fact, Harper isn't doing anything useful - except to him. This is purely a political game designed to pull in tourists, and to score points with that core of Harper supporters that wants to emphasize the attachment to Britain (by now, largely fictitious) and cover Canada with Union Jacks and pictures of the Queen. Canadians are not likely to learn much about their history for all the thirty million it will cost them.

There are at least two, well-reported stories in the TandT. Both are in Section C, p.1.  The first is on the touring shale gas consultation. The other deals with the determination of the medical profession to keep its right of free speech despite government efforts to muzzle it and (though not mentioned) the Irving press ignoring it when it speaks about shale gas.

Alec Bruce's column is more subtle than usual. But stay with it. Think about it. It makes eminent sense.

I can't resist closing with two, sriking moments I had in doing that documentary the War of 1812.

I walked along a country road heading north toward Niagara Falls. It was the road followed by American invaders on their way to what is now the Canadian city of Niagara Falls. I was just inside the municipal limits of what is now Chippawa, Ontario. To my left was a great field surrounded on three sides by forest, just as it had been in summer of 1814. I turned left to walk along the unmarked trail that the American soldiers had lined up on.

Ahead of me was the forest where native warriors waited in ambush for anyAmericans trying to outflank the British force which had stood no more than a hundred feet to my right. Survivors on both sides wrote of how, throughout the battle, they could hear the screams of the dying in the forest.

In the earth below my feet was the great pit of bones of the dead, buried in haste for fear of what the heat could do. The wounded, far a greater number, we not much better off than the dead. With the bodies were heaps of severed arms and legs.  Lead shot carrying dirty clothes into a body created deadly infection. Usually, the only medical help possible was amputation, without sedative.

The only marker for the battle was a small one by the road. That Battle of Chippawa has long been forgotten, even in Chippawa. When Candian news media celebrated the director of The Titanic, his hometown was referred to as Chippawa, the place where nothing had ever happened before the birth of James Cameron. (I'm not even sure he was born there. His official birthplace is in northern Ontario.) Not long before my visit, the municipal council almost approved a suburban development on the site. It was stopped only after a protest by American veterans' organizations.

The Americans won that one, and pushed on to Lundy's Lane (now a part of Niagara Falls.) This time it would be a British victory, though a costly one for both sides. At one end of the battlefield is a church (with a graveyard that contains the body of Laura Secord). But the battle dead are not in the churchyard.

As I left the church to walk down the hill that had been the battle site, I crossed the church parking lot. The weather on the battle day was as hot as it had been at Chippawa. So the hundreds of dead had been carried up to this spot, stacked along with cordwood, and set alight. There is no marker.

Anyway, Norbert, be polite to the National Film Board; and I'm sure they'll let you see the documentary.










Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 19: What to say.....

I have spent two hours going through this wretched newspaper.It's like watching an infant drooling as he  (boys drool longer)  goes through the slow process of mastering the skills of getting the food from bowl to spoon, from spoon to lips, from lips to mouth, and mouth to stomach and ---and we won't even think of the rest.

The drooling, at first sight, might give rise to an expression of joy at what seems to be cuteness. But that soon turns to shouts of dismay. And then quickly loses its charm entirely as a topic of conversation. So it is with Alan Cochrane's "commentary" which is really about stuff under his gallery.

Norbert is doing his standard drool. (The boss must be a fan of it.) It's his drool in favour of privatization, this time of the CBC which he accuses of being liberal. (I have no idea what he means by the word 'liberal'; and I'd be willing to lay a bet that Norbert  hasn't a clue, either.)

You can also bet that Norbert would never dare to write a column favouring public ownership of any private radio station. His boss wouldn't like that. So he hever comments on the half-wits who pretend to be news analysts on private radio, the quarter-wits who host phone-ins, or the music hosts (usually geriatric adolescents) who shout, "Hi, gang. hang out here at radio WOWGEE where WE have the music YOU want to hear."

So let's skip the usual condemnation with occasional praise for today.  Maybe there are a couple of things in here we should ask about - or think about.

Section A gives the usual, annual reports of grad night. From the time I moved to NB, I was struck by the prominence of this in the local press. That's not a criticism, just an observation. What also struck me about it was air of danger that hung around it - the warnings about playing safe, the notices of teachers who will be up all night to deal with emergencies, the stories of mass drinking bouts on isolated beaches, and the occasional use of knives.

In all my years of teaching, I had never heard of such concerns. When I taught high school, I ran the grad dances. Other teachers attended - to mix with the students, to say goodbye - but not to guard against harm. And the idea of violence at or after a grad dance never occured to us.

Is this relatively new in New Brunswick? And, new or old, why is this happening?

Then there's all the coverage of Harper and what he's saying at Rio. We should be concerned about that - not because anybody gives a damn what Harper says at any international gathering but because nobody gives a damn.

Our intenational reputation has hit an all time low. We have the worst record in the developed world on dealing with global warming  We've close to the worst on environmental protection. Our promises, even signed pledges, on such matters are worthless. We were denied a seat on the UN security council. Ten years ago, we would have been every nation's first choice for a seat. Canada has crashed from the pinnacle of respect it once held. (It's not entirely Harper's fault - though he has made it even worse.) We are now not only beneath contempt in most of the world but, worse, without influence of any sort, even among friendly nations.

We might give some time to thinking how this has happened.

Then, most serious of all is Alec Bruce's column about the failure of New Brunswickers to give any thought to the future of this province. We just dum-de-dum along while a world collapses around us. We maintain low corporation taxes and lax regulations on the theory this attracts business. In fact, there is little evidence it does so - it certainly does not attract in anything like the proportion that it costs. And it's not just the politicians who are to blame.

I was astonished in the last provincial election that neither the Liberals nor the Conservtives had anything that could be called a platorm. It was all just dum-de-dum. The recent municipal election was even worse with few of the candidates (and almost none of the voters) having any idea of what any issues were. We'll borrow a hundred million to build a skating rink and, oh yeah, a civic centre and that will restore main street. dum-de-dum. We'll build a new high school out in the urban boondocks at a very high price for land and services. Dum-de-Dum.

There is election after election with virtually no debate, no public discussion.......dum-de-dum

And so we end up with premiers and MLAs and Mayors and councillors who couldn't find their own belly-buttons using both hands. Oh, it happens in other places, too. But nowhere as thoroughly as in New Brunswick.  What this province needs is more synagogues. Quite seriously.

The synagogue is a place that creates an atmosphere of respect, even of demand, for questioning, discussion, not just of religious matters but of worldly matters. The tradition was already an old one when the boy Jesus debated with the elders in the synagogue.

The result of that respect for discussion and debate has been adult Jews who remain intellecutally active,  for whom the common social experience is the book club, the arts group, the current events group, the history group, the writing group. Usually the groups are large, sometimes in the hundreds.

Through most of my working life, I would be invited to speak to some 60 groups, all sorts of them, every year. Of that, a good 50 would be Jewish groups, often meeting in synagogues. Five or six would be secular - lawyers' conventions, tourists.... Christian churches? Christian groups? Pretty rare.

I was also a group worker and camp director for the YMCA and for the YMHA. The Young Men's Christian Association made no demands. As long as the kids got home with no visible scars, the camp season was a success. The Young Men's Hebrew Association was quite different. The campers were going on a trip to New York? Okay. They had to see the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Natural History, and a good off-broadway play.

The synagogue has had a major, intellectual impact on many North American cities. The Chrstian churches have not. (Nor have the universities done much to take up  the slack.)

The questions posed by Alec Bruce's column deserve a good deal of thought. And they suggest a need for changed attitudes.  Soon.








Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18: An inspirational photo....

Its top of the front page, and it features premier Alward harnessed onto a wire way up in the air. It is a treasure that I have carefully folded and shall forever carry in a pocket next to my heart. The picture and story are about Cape Enrage, which now has a sort of clothes line  that one can slide along. (I can't help noticing that Alward and another MLA don't seem to be sliding. Postures and attitudes suggest they are sitting still just off the starting point. How like Mr. Alward to seem to be doing something while doing nothing at all!)

Speaking of doing nothing at all, that front page space would have been great to tell us what the TandT has been promising to tell us all about  for years. What is the story on shale gas? on loss of property values because of the drilling? of law suits? of environmental damage? on the many law suits against shale gas companies? on the settlements out of court? on environmental damage?

Or it could be the news on the sites examined for Moncton High, and the reasons why those sites were rejected.

There is so much more important news that should be on the front page. After all,to see Mr. Alward hanging a wire is not all that different from the way we normally see him - you know, with puppet strings.

Almost all of section A is so trivial and/or irrelevant that it explains why surveys report that so few newspaper readers ever read all of the stories or even all of some of them. Some studies show that readers of newspapers like this commonly read only headlines, and perhaps a couple of sentences of the story. There's not much reason to do even that in today's section A.

And why is there no story on the Highland Games? There's a page of pictures (buried on the last page of the section); but no story. The front page has a picture, and a long story, a full page and a half long about Alward dangling from a wire. P. 3 has two-thirds of a page on a skate park in Dieppe. The Highland Games get no story at all, despite an impressive display of work and organization and participation.

There's nothing unusual in seeing Mr. Alward hang like a puppet. There's nothing unusual in a skate park. There is surely something unusual in Moncton having an event like the Highland Games presented by a single community.

I would have tolerated that waste of a front page if they and at least brightened the photo of Alward with a Scots comment on it:

Ye see yon birkie, ca'd a Lord
Wha struts and stares and a' that.
Tho hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a coof for a' that:
For a' that and a' that:
The man of independent mind
He looks and laughs at a' that.

The most important story in NewsToday is a warning that the snakehead fish could reach New Brunswick. (But not to worry. Our dumping of shalegas waters into our streams will kill them all.)
The so-called Your Investments page has a story about Harper being a big number at the Rio Summit. It's a nice contradiction that in reality he is a bit player - and not a very popular one.

NGOs attending the Rio conference awarded Canada the Fossil of the Year Award because of its backwardness on environmental conditions, it's cutting of aid to poor countries, and its damaging behaviour with regard to water and fisheries. (But that story didn't make the truthful Times.)

In reality, Canada's standing in the world - and Harper's - is in the toilet; and it's been that way for some time.

The editorial is the usual, ignorant rant at people who can't rant back, in this case - the Codiac bus drivers. I shall have some respect for whoever writes those editorials when he or she criticizes the wealthy and powerful.

Alec Bruce's column is well worth reading for a jolt of  reality.

Norbert Cunningham attacks public education. He has often done that. Ever notice that he never says a good word about it? Surely that is strange for a country which consistently ranks in the top ten in the world for public education. In this case, he argues that not nearly enough teachers get fired for incompetence. But let's leave aside, for the moment, the obvious - that Norbert doesn't know what he's talking about.

In a way, I'm surprised he should raise this point. In my many years in jourrnalism, I rarely saw a journalist get fired for incompetence. In my experience, journalists are more likely to get fired for telling the truth than for being incompetent. The job of the journalist, to a considerable degree, depends on kissing the boss' rear end by defending the boss from any criticism for the social and economic damage he does to ordinary people. That's why you have never seen a hint of criticism of the boss or his friends in The Moncton Times and Transcript. That's why it's okay to rant at Codiac bus drivers.  kiss. kiss. But it would be career suicide to blame the very rich for the economic crisis we are in.

In the case of public education, there's an even bigger story that this is a part of. There's a lot of money spent on public education. The boss wants a piece of it. That's why the "great minds" at AIMS have been conducting studies to show all that (they say) is wrong with public education. That's why they forced standardized testing on the schools - to force the schools to operate as if they were producing soft drinks on a production line.

The scientificness of standardized tests is a crock. It does not test schools. It does not test teachers. It is an added expense, a waste of money, an added tension for the students. The real purpose of it is to introduce elements of privatization into the schools so that the money-suckers who drain us can now suck the blood out of our children, too.

It's done in stages. First, there's the think tank 'studies'. Then there's the oozing in through standardized tests. Then there are fees to be paid to go to certain schools while funding for real public schools is reduced. And if you ever want a hope to go to university, you have to go to the fee-charging schools.

The US is now covered with such private and semi-private schools which, among other things, condemn the children of the slums to stay there forever. Middle class parents, a diminishing group as poverty spreads in the US, now face staggering fees before they can get to the really expensive university years.

Nor has education improved. Quite the contrary. American education, never as good as it should have been, has dropped from its normal position well behind Canada into the abyss of 136th in the world.

And Norbert is  making sure he never gets fired by doing his bit to get us and our children down there. kiss. kiss.

Allan Abel continues his remarkable record of saying nothing. He'll never get fired.

Letters to the editor carries an insightful comment "Why so critical of protesters?" by Mary Wannamaker of Hampton. This one is well worth the reading time.

It's even better (and more important) than a picture of Alward dangling in space.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

June 17: late on a Sunday evening.....


Well, it is Sunday. And I am a religious person. I don't attend a church because I cannot stomach the hypocracy of the churches. But I was thinking tonight of churches and hippies and the current protest movements and where all this came from and where it's going.

The starting point is, I guess that the hippies of the 60s and 70s, brought nothing new to the world. They were probably the last, big Sunday School generation, born to parents who paid lip service to faith, enough lip service to make sure their children attended Sunday School; not enough to bother much with religious observance itself or to be, in any noticeable way, Christian.

The hippie movement was Sunday School theology - peace and love - modified by self-indulgence  - pot and sex. The Sunday School theology gave them their sense of justification for opposing the Vietnam War. But their opposition wasn't based on morality. They would show that later by their ardent support for the invasions Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan,  the overthrow of democracy in Haiti, and the slaughter of innocents in Guatemala.

They didn't even end the Vietnam War. It was simply unwinnable. That's why the American government withdrew. That, and the fact that polls showed Americans of all ages were turning against it. As a factor in ending the war, journalist Walter Cronkite was probably more important than the whole hippie movement.

All the hippies brought to the table was a shallow and hypocritic version of Christianity - commonly the most popular type of most religions. What the hippies left was the people they would vote for one day - two Bushes, an Obama, and a Harper. (George Bush jr. was almost a model of his generation - a drunk, a druggie, a draft-dodger, the a born-again Christian who killed joyfully and made torture as American as apple pie.

Generally, the hippies were not violent. They had no reason to be once the military draftt was ended.  And they had no social change to suggest. Why should they?  The were quite comfortable as things were.

But there's been a change.

The young people in the streets now are not chanting about love and peace. That may be because so many never went to Sunday School, never learned to be plausible hypocrites - and because they see threats hanging over them that are even closer and more dangerous than the military draft.

The Occuply movement and others like it aren't there to give out flowers. They're angry. They're angry about an upper clsss that has used it wealth to buy power, used power to gain purely for greed, to gain more wealth by abandoning those it made poor.

The very rich have certainly shown their ability to make money. What they have failed, and failed wretchedly, to show is any capacity to rule intelligently. As a consequence of the rule of the very rich, economic and social structures all over the world are in shreds, poverty is rising, corruption is rampant (and, no, I don't just mean in foreign countries where people have beards and darker skins).

And the very rich know so little of how to govern that the only reponse they have to protest is suppression. Britain is installiing a system to monitor the phone calls, e mail, web sites visited, etc. by everybody.  Former prime minister Tony Blair, the lap dog of big money, was the first prime minister to become a wealthy man while in office.

In the US, e mail, phone calls are already widely recorded without warrant. Over a million people are forbidden to fly, and with no reason, let alone evidence, given.  And who knows how many such lists are in circulation? Or why? Police now commonly have authority to stop and search anyone, with or without suspicion. Police departments are lining up to buy drone robots. Within a very short time, the whole country will be covered with these spy aircraft, peering into and recording the lives of everybody. For the first time in history, the US has a fulll combat brigate permanently based in the US.  Guess why.The full police state is not futuristic. It is here.

Much of that, including American police and other agents, will soon be coming to Canada. The 'harmonization' of Canadian and American practices is a part of the 'budget' that Harper pushed through. Ottawa airport is already installing sophisticated microphones and recording equipment to eavesdrop on travellers. Better watch what you say about Harper if you have a between-flights stopover in Ottawa.

The hippies were, at best, extrordinarily simple Christians turned atheists growing into a world pretty much handed to them on a platter. The government occasionally got tough with them, most famously at Kent State. But, generally, they were tolerated.


What we now have are young people who are not prattling immature Christianity. Nor is the world being handed to them on a platter. And this time, an increasing number of the protesters are not kids of any sort. They are the aging and the elderly and native peoples who, with cuts in the current budget, are being tossed on the scrap heap. As well, there are savage environmental cuts that toss all of us on the scrap heap. This generation (and its parents and grandparents) faces real dangers from greed, from the barbarity of the very wealthy (most of them probably church-goers), from eonomic collapse, from many and large wars - and from a ruling class so incompetent to rule that it can think only of repression - and has shown itself ready to use the most violent repression.

As things are, the chances of a happy ending are zero.

There isn't much time. We all have to hurry up if we want to save ourselves.



Saturday, June 16, 2012

June 16:

First, the news.
Remember back to May 25 when the news was that the Syrian government had slaughtered a hundred civilians in a place called Houla? It was a big story, with The Moncton Times and Tribune carrying it as a report from Reuters. It was a gruesome story of the cruelty of the Syrian government, with its account of how women and children were tied up, and their throats slit.

Yesterday, the BBC publicly apologized for carrying the story.It has proven to be quite false. First, inspectors have found bodies - but not a single slit throat. Nor is there any evidence to suggest who did the killing.

It doesn't matter, of course. Most news services (like Reurter's, the one the truthful Times relies on, will not issue apologies and, anyway, most papers wouldn't run them. Most readers will retain the image of savage government troops slitting the throats of women and children - and politicians will play on that horror as their excuse for getting us to intervene in the war of the side of the rebels.

The BBC, Reuter's, the Irving Press, the Toronto Globe, the New York Times all should have figured that out back on May 25. All their news was coming from one man who called himself a human rights organization to sound good, who runs a clothing store in England -and who sends out rebel propaganda to news services. It was no secret.

The BBC should have known that. (In fact, it did. So did Reuter's.) Hell, even I, a retired history prof in my apartment in Moncton, knew it, and wrote about it at the time.

Was there no editor at The Moncton Times and Transcript with the normal intelligence which is all that it takes to see through that story? Probably not. But they aren't alone. Almost all foreign correspondents are liars. That's a tradition that goes back at least to the Boer War and, more markedly, the Spanish-American war when American newspapers built up a phony story about the sinking of the Maine to create an excuse for war.

Today, Russia is sending two divisions of troops (about 30,000 soldiers) as well as warshhips to protect its naval facilities in Syria. And Obama is under pressure to provide the rebels with ground to air missiles. Meanwhile, John McCain has publicly admitted that the US armed and supplied and gave leadership to the  rebels "for democracy" in Libya. ( Libya is now in such chaos and civil war that Shell has had to close its oil operations there.) McCain, with substantial support in Congress is suggesting the US should do the same in Syria. (In fact, it has been doing the same - through Turkey and Saudi Arabia) - for months

So, let's take a look at Syria - a rebel force made up heavily of mercenaries, Islamists, and with scarcely any democratic element will now be getting heavier equipment from the west, perhaps including AA missiles. Russia is on its way with 30,000 soldiers, and missile-firing ships. Israel is threatening to invade to take over the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal. Russia, the US and Israel are nuclear powers.

Inportant news for the TandT. Nah. They needed space for a really big story, "Many parents give gifts to teachers".

Even a focus on local news would be nice. This might be a good time for a hustling staff at the TandT to find out exactly why Royal Oaks was chosen over other sites for the new high school. We still don't even know what most of the other sites are.

Perhaps it could talk a little more to doctors who are angered by government attempts to muzzle them from speaking publicly on public health issues. In a similar vein, they might find out why Harper has ordered all Parks Canada employees that they must never criticize the government, that it is their duty AT ALL TIMES to support the govenment. Well, there goes free speech for two groups.

Perhaps the TandT could find a hard-nosed, digging journalist to report on the implications of Ottawa's omnibus bill. For example, what does it mean to say that we will change border-crossing law to conform with US practice? In the US, this means secret lists of banned people, surveillance everywhere you go in the US, including random searches wherever you go - and very free limits, indeed, to the police.

And where is all that information we were going to get on shale gas?

Bill Beliveau has an excellent column on the omnibus bill. And it's even worse than he says. In just two more steps, this bill become law. From a prime minister who has the support of barely one-third of the Canadian people, the Canada that I have known and loved and studied all my life will be changed forever - physically, economically, even spiritually. Supported by his mindless mps, some of them still under scrutiny for serious election offences, he is about to destroy our country.

It's good to see Belliveau tackling this. But there should have been news stories on it, too. Where were they? Wanna bet that Mr. Irving and his circle thoroughly approve of the omnibus bill?

As to Norbert' advice for the Liberals, there is no such thing as liberalism in Canada. There hasn't been for a good 120 years. Read some history. And get a good dictionary. The Liberal party through its great years was a party of big business (just like Harper's conservatives) that pretended to be a leader of social progress.  Today, there is a real party of social progress, and there is a party that's joyously and openly in bed with big business. The Liberals, for over a century, have been a party of illusions. The illusions are gone. Big business doesn't need illusions any more. And not enough Canadians believe in the illusions any more.

On op ed, Gwynne Dyer has bad news - and we haven't begun to see how bad it's going to get. Brent Mazerolle is, well, he's Brent Mazerolle. Oh, de Adder is silly, trivial, and peddling propaganda to appeal to morons and corporation bosses.

I was quite drawn to Whatever, that part about students. And I can tell them one thing about high school that they don't yet realize. High school is the most intense experience of our lives. Years later, our friends, the people we just hated, the teacher everybody loved, the bully who destroyed lives will be remember as intensely as they were experienced at the time.

As to Jana Giles' dismissal of anti-bullying committees, I think she's quite right. But I would go further. I think bullies should be subject to expulsion. Yes, yes, I know it will turn them to ignorance and possible to crime. (most of the bullies I have known ended up ignorant and criminals,anyway. Either that or writing editorials for the Irving press.) I know that expelling a bully will destroy his education. But I also know that keeping him will destroy education for many others. From student to teacher, I've spent most of my life in schools. And I've seen too many people whose lives were ruined forever by school bullies. (And that includes bullying teachers.)

You will find the world, all of  your life, full of bullies - in the form of malicious gossips, over-powerful business people, mercenary journalists, politicians like Harper, Maurice Duplessis...lots of them. Some of us eventually learn how to handle them. But they don't learn it in school, not in time. And that's where they do their greatest human damage. I would have no qualms about expelling them.

And that, I guess, come from the intenity of the high school experience that I was talking about.

This summer, I shall attend the 61st reunion of my graduating class (of which I was the only one who did not graduate.)  Of all the classes I have attended or taught, this is the only one for which I remember every one of them, and every one of our teachers. I remember the kid I disliked for his arrogance. And, though he's a prominent medical doctor in western Canada now, I still dislike him. I still respect and like the class president (now a lawyer), my close friend, a Japanese-Canadian from the awful experience of the Canadian detention camps, who's now an internationally respected surgeon; and Lloyd, who became one of Canada's  best architects. They're still exactly the kids I knew at Montrreal High. There is no experience in life to match high school.

Graduatiing students always think they're leaving something behind to go into the future. In fact, that something will never be left behind.