Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jan. 31: Mr. Alward, Mr. Higgs....

..... Please grow up. You are not clowns. You are not even the irrelevant trivialists who make up the editorial staff of the Moncton Times and Transcript. You are leaders in a parliamentary democracy. Do you understand what that means?

First, it means that the ones we elect are the ones who make the decisions. Nobody can come off the street and just announce he is now member of the government (in coalition with it). Mr. Irving did that. He had no more right to do that than I have the right to announce I am the new prime minister of Canada.

Mr. Irving is one person. He has the rights any other one person. He has the right to vote. He has the right to run for election. He does not have the right to declare himself a member of the government. Mr. Irving and others like him have very large noses stuck into government. There is no constitutional basis for this. He should mind his own business - and what the people of this province feel they need is none of his business.

Apparently nobody in the Liberal Party or the Conservative Party - or in that brainless sheet we call a newspaper has either the brains or the integrity to recognize this fandamental principle of democracy.

The second thing, Mr. Alward and Mr. Higgs, is that you were elected to government, to make decisions, to take responsibility for them. What is this drivel about holding a referendum on taxes?

The idea of democratic politics is that you join a party because it has a set of principles that you agree with. (Principles does not mean neat ideas. It means basic values that guide your judgement. In some five years of following politica in the province, I see no evidence that either the Liberals or the Conservatives have the faintest idea what a principle is.)

Taxes have a lot to do with principles. Who should pay them, who should pay how much, what services we must provide are all questions to be decided on the basis of some sort of principles. Please tell us what principle lies behind an HST tax?

You two were elected to make such decisions. You two were supposed to tell us at election time what principles you were operating on.( Lord knows, it wouldn't have taken you long to tell us.)

Then, based on those principles, you were supposed to decide on questions like taxes. You were provided expert advisers for that purpose (though you promptly decided to use some corporation hacks to do that.)

How many people, voters of this province, have the faintest idea of how taxation works, or how all of these economic pieces are to fit together? They elected you to do that. To hold a referendum on such a complex subject is to abandon all responsibility and say, "You're on your own, folks."

To make it worse, there has been no information and no discussion of what the alternatives are. And neither you nor the Irving press is going to tell us that information which we need. Instead, wall know what we are going to hear in a referendum campaign.
1. Taxing the rich will make us poor.
2. Making the rich richer will make us rich. Well, the rich have been getting richer and we've been getting poorer for thirty years. So when does the magic kick in?
3. We have cut services. We can't afford to feed the hungry or heal the sick or run the schools properly. No. First priority is to build a hundred million dollar hockey rink.- just as the whole western world slides deeper into a recession which, as we will soon see, is not turning a corner. It hasn't even begun to turn a corner. There's a reason we're suddenly fighting wars all over the world. The western economies are so desperate that their only hope for some measure of recovery is conquest of as much of the world as possible - and a cold war confrontation with Russia and China.
4. We have to cut services, and fire people because -----I don't know. I suppose firing people just creates jobs----or something.

Look, in a democracy you don't elect a government so you can tell it what to do. In a democracy, you elect people to govern, to adopt the legislation that is best for us in the light of your party's principles and insights. Can you understand that?

As a government, you take responsibilities. If your decisions backfire - tough. Then we elect somebody else to take those responsibilities.

I choose a doctor. I don't tell the doctor how to carry out the operation. That's the doctor's responsibility. If we elect a government, then are expected to tell it what to do, what's the point of having an election? We could hire any bunch of knuckleheads off the street to do that.

Will you two please grow up? And will  you please try to remember just who it is you are governing for? And who has a right to make government decisions? And who should mind his own business?

The editorial is the usual compbination of duplicity and ignorance. While shedding crocodile tears for the poor tax-payer, the editor doesn't even mention that there are some people in th is province who enjoy both very low taxes, and very expensive give-aways. (And one of the give-aways is that corporate taxes will NOT be on the referendum.) No sirree. Mr. Higgs will make certainly of that.

So you can skip the editor's crying in his beer as he worries about the taxpayer. He doesn't mean yoj.
And, Norbert, in all kindness - never pretend to be an authority on a subject when you clearly aren't.  Never cast a slur on a group when you don't know whether it's true.

Norbert is obviously a reader - and he does well at getting  us interested in some books. In such cases, he doesn't pretend to be an authority. But he reports the book well, and suggests ideas it could give rise to. And that's fine.

Today, he writes on medical care in the province - and criticizes the government and the medical profession for not following advice he has been giving them for years.

Why the hell should they? When did Norbert become an authority on health care?

Then he slanders the medical profession by saying it is backward and fixed in its ways of doing things. -AND - admits in the next sentence that he doesn't know whether that is true.

Sorry, Norbert. If you don't know something is true, you don't say it in the first place. By the time you write that next sentence, the damage is already done.
Alec Bruce's column is a masterpiece. In no case should you miss this one.

Rod Allen's column on op ed reaches new depths with a story about how he likes doughnuts and Timbits, and plans to watch hockey on TV while eating Timbits. There are, I suppose, readers who might find that sexually stimulating or piercingly observant. My only reaction was a fear that in watching TV and eating Timbits at the same time, Mr. Allen might suffer brain damage.
Excellent column by Jody Dallaire on sexual assault - and its prominence in New Brunswick. I suspect, though, that there should be more thought given to why there is so much sexual assault in this province. I don't think a propaganda campaign is the answer. Dallaire suggests that culture is a factor -and I think she's right. But that suggests we should be looking at what is wrong with male culture in New Brunswick. And we won't change a culture by putting up campaign posters that say sexual assault isn't nice.
Also in the news, Alward offers a grand, job-creating plan. Any business that hires a newly graduated student will get paid 70% of that person's wages. NDP leader Dominic Cardry says it won't work. And he's right.

If such a scheme would create more business and more prosperity, then it would make sense to make it apply to everybody who doesn't have a job. Yessir. We'll create an unemployment rate of zero. Brilliant.

The reality? This is a handout to business. They can get 70% of somebody's salary? Of course, they'll fire people to get new ones on those terms. After all, it's easy to cover up the real reason for a firing. There's no protection for workers in this plan. And Mr. Alward must have noticed that when he drew it up.___________________________________________________________________________

It's been a rushed day, so I may not have noted each story as well as I should have. But there are some rather big stories I didn't notice in the paper.

1. Israel has entered the war in Syria, invading Syrian and Lebanese air space to attack ground targets. That's usually illegal under international law. But the US, France and, Israel have special permission to invade anybody they like, any time. You ain't seen nothing yet. There are decades of war, pillage, profiteering, starvation, suffering coming to Africa. We've been doing that for a century of course. But it's about to get much, much worse as the western world attempts to reconquer Africa and, in the process, set up the possibility of wars with Russia and China.
2. The gap between the very rich and everybody else in Canada is still growing. Gee. We should cut the taxes of the rich even more. Then, according to economists Harper and Alward, we'll all get rich.
3. Teen pregnancies in New Brunswick are up by 40%. Gee. I wonder if that could have anything to do with the rather high proportioin of men in this province who think rape is okay.
Well, there's only one thing to do. Make them stand and listen to O Canada TWICE every day at school.
4. The TandT again forgot to list my current events group that meets on Thursday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. in the Moncton Library. We'll be talking about questions that journalists should be asking - and that we should be demanding they ask.

Oh - a reminder - check out Moncton Free Press/La Presse Libre de Moncton on the web to get a look at stories The Moncton Times and Transcript would rather you didn't know about.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jan. 30:winter is cold. pennies are useful...

...That's it. That's the op ed page of The Moncton Times and Transcript. You know, the op ed page, where two-fisted, crusading journalists give their fearless opinions of the news behind the news. The Canadian penny is going out of production. But the penny will still be legal tenders for years. This is the opinion of Eric Lewis, staff writer. And he's not afraid to say so right up front. He even provides insights on how to keep piles of pennies on your bureau.

Not to be outdone, writer and communications professional Brent Mazerolle comes right out and tells the truth. Winter is cold.

I had to lie down and take a rest after reading these.

The editorial is one we could have guessed. There should be no tax increases in the budget. Most especially, we must not tax the very rich and their corporations. My goodness, if you let the rich keep their huge profits, they'll spend them on us - and we'll all get rich. Just like in the Great Depression of the 1930s.

And prosperity is just around the corner. And that, too, is just like the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In fact, there is no sign the western economies are recovering. There is no evidence that the wealth piled up by the rich will make us prosperous. Corporations can spend their money anywhere in the world, not just in New Brunswick. If wealthy corporations meant a prosperous society, Haiti would have streets paved with gold - instead of being the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

But the editor knows what Mr. Irving wants. And the finance minister knows, too. The poor  will pay for the recession in cut services. The middle class will pay in taxes.- and in cut services like education and health. Only one social project is safe.

We must have a hundred milllion dollar hockey rink.

Alec Bruce talks about jobs from building a pipeline. That doesn't sound like a long-term remedy. Nor is it likely all those jobs will go to New Brunswickers.

We have two fundamental problems. One is that the whole western world probably faces a serious and very long term economic decline.

The second is that this province is run by a very few who control everything, and who think only of themselves. And they back it up (with TandT cooperation) with hokum economics theories about how making the super-rich even richer will benefit us.  So how come the super-rich have been getting richer for over 30 years while the rest of us get poorer?

Page A3 has a  big story with full colour photo about Liberal leader Brian Gallant  spinning the usual buzz words, presumably to an audience so loyal it took him seriously. I challenge anyone to read that story, and to find anything he said that has not been said before (and for decades) by leaders of both the Liberals and the Conservatives.

Tell you what, Brian. First, get a good dictionary, and find out the meaning of the word 'principles'. Then get some Liberals together to define what Liberal principles, if any, are. Show how they differ from Conservative principles. Then we'll talk.

Gallant reminded me of the candidate who came to my door in the last election to tell me the great challenge for education was to train children for a global economy. Within two minutes, it was clear she had no idea what "global economy" meant, nor any idea how we train children for it.

Let me suggest a good, closing line for Mr. Gallant in his next appearance. "We must move. But we must move - forward." (The crowd goes mad with applause. Strong men weep.)

Skip NewsToday. It's just stuff picked up from the usual sources by editors who know nothing of what's important and what isn't.

Is there any news missing from the paper?  Well....

Remember those Canadian troops that Harper sent to protect our embassy in Mali? Well, substantial numbers of them have been posted to a region in neighbouring Niger. (and the Canadian embassy for Mali is not in Niger. The region our troops have been posted to, though, does have uranium mines owned by France's equivalent of the Irvings.)

That story was in The Star for Jan. 30. And Harper isn't they one who told them. In fact, The Star points out that none of the news about our involvement in Mali has ever come from Harper. As always, Harper lives under a dome of silence, with only occasional breaks to leak a false story.

By his silence, Harper constantly lies to us. We certainly appear to have troops committed to a combat role in a foreign country. That's called war. And we're not supposed to go to war without public discussion first and parliamentary debate and consent.

Then there's the story in The Independent. A French cabinet minister told reporters, "France is totally bankrupt". Gee. Maybe that has some connection with the billions of the German gold reserves, stored in French government vaults - but, now that Germany asks for them back - cannot be found. And I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Mali has extensive gold resources.

A former Guatemalan dictator, who was really an American puppet,  has been charged with genocide in the torture, rape, murder of some 1700 Ixil Indians in the 1980s. But don't worry about it. He's just a sacrifice thrown to the wolves.

The murder of Ixils was a very small part of broader scheme of torturing, raping, and murdering at least 250,000 Maya (and including a New Brunswick lay missionary). But that part was done with close US involvement and leadership. So we won't charge anybody with that. Let's settle for the fall guy who killed 1700 Ixils. That way, we won't have to mention George Bush 1sts role as head of the CIA, and its connection with the Maya.

And, according to The Globe and Mail, Elizabeth May of the Green party says that Harper plans to merge Environment Canada with Natural Resources. That's something like setting up a blind date between Little Red Riding Hood and a wolf. Environment Canada is designed to protect the environment. Natural Resources is the department that's eager to destroy the environment.

But there's no need to worry about all this. It isn't in the TandT. But in fairness, C1 has a must read story for everyone. Queen Elizabeth is not thinking of retiring.

Two reminders.
1. Tomorrow's blog (Jan. 31) will be late because I'm teaching a history group for Tantramar Seniors in the morning.
2. Current Events will meet at the Moncton Library the first Tuesday of February ( Feb. 5) at 7 pm.
This time, I think we'll look at questions that should be asked about this province. The politicians have a bad habit of announcing answers - without saying what the questions are. (The move of Moncton High is a good example.)

I won't kid you. Getting a current events group going in this city is one hell of a job. I've come to realize that Moncton is a city in which people (fear? distrust?) public comment on public affairs. That's how you end up with a Brent Mazerolle and an "opinion" column which fearlessly states that winter is cold.

In the hundreds of such meetings I've spoken to in other provinces, turnout has consistently been in the hundreds. In Moncton, I rarely need more than two or three chairs.

Hey. I'm lonely. Tuesday, February 5 at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Jan.29: "meeting was well-attended...."

What is that supposed to mean? thousands? hundreds? a couple dozen?
The number is kind of important. This is in a front page story "Finance minister urged to reverse tax cuts". Finance Minister Higgs is on a tour based on one of the more farcical elements in his party's election campaign - the would "listen to the people". And so Higgs is on a tour of six meetings across the province to hear what "the people" think.

That would require about a hundred thousand voting age people per meeting - so numbers are kind of important. Did they hit the hundred thousand mark? Did they hit a hundred. And, if the latter, how does meeting with a tiny percentage of people equal "listening to the people".

It's not hard to count to size of an audience. You count the rows. Then you count the number of people in what seems a typical row. And then (this is important) you multiply. I have known reporters who could give a pretty accurate count of crowds topping a hundred thousand.

And, when you are reporting on what people said to Higgs, it's rather important to mention all the topics they covered. The only ones reported in this story were the ones who talked about where to tax and where to cut. However, there were a half-dozen who talked about the very expensive (and possibly corrupt) move of Moncton High school.

Of course, it doesn't matter, does it? We all know who Higgs listens to - one person, just one, who is in "coalition" with the government. Of course, the great one probably doesn't speak directly to Higgs. That's done by the flunkeys of his Finance Advisory Committee that he pushed on the government.

So we know what will happen. Taxes will rise for us. They will not rise (or not significantly) for the coporate sector because "it needs money to create wealth for all of us".  That's why we're all so rich.

And of course, frivolous services like education, social assistance will be cut. But welfare payments to corporations will continue. After all, what's good for the bosses is good for you.
Page A3 has the story of an Idle No More protest that blocked a highway. It had some useful quotations from a speaker. But we still have no indication of conditions on reserves in NB that have helped to spark this protest. Is this lazy reporting? Sloppy reporting? or simply a deliberate move to keep us in ignorance of what it's all about?
NewsToday has a story of violence in Egypt, violence that could lead to civil war and enormous complications, in the whole region, complication that will almost certainly hit us hard. But don't worry about it. Instead, read the section's business page which has an equally big story about a fast food outlet in Moncton. I have no idea why.

The story is written by the TandT's master of empty gush, Brent Mazerolle.

Then there's a confusing story "France issues Syria warning". "extremists could prevail if nations fail to support the opposition".

Which extremists? People on both sides are killing. So aren't they both kind of extreme?

We have to support the opposition? But calling them the opposition sounds as if they're a legal, elected party in the government. They aren't. The majority of them are foreign invaders, hired and supplied to attack Syria.

And we are supporting the "opposition."  Their money and weapons and intelligence service are coming from our side - notably from Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Turkey, Britain, France, the US
and from the good ol' boys the US put in power in Libya.

Funny how newspapers play with words to give false impressions. Take extremist. That's bad. Sounds bad. But wasn't the US kind of extreme when it killed over a million in Iraq? Isn't it rather extreme, and even (gasp) terrorist for the US to be killing people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia with drones? And where did this word 'Islamist' come from? Do we also have Christianists? Judaists? And are they all evil?

The story on Mali is largely a triumphant one. For that purpose, it's just as well they didn't mention that France has said the war will last for years. They also don't mention the war's connection with gold and uranium deposits in Mali.

Of course, those evil ists of some sort on the other side ruthlessly destroyed ancient documents. We would never to that. Well, there was the case of looted museums in Iraq.  And, somehow, Cleopatra's needle got out of Egypt, and the Elgian marbles from Athens got to London. But, even in the bombing raids that have killed well over a million people in the last 60 years alone, we never hit a single historic site. That's because we're Christianists.

Norbert writes an informative article on the tragic history of nightclub fires. Tragic, indeed. But rather more people have been killed in fires in rickety sweatshop factories all over the world (including they US and Canada) that had no fire protection, no emergency exits. We're tougher on it now in North American - but western investors still built clothing factories like that in other countries.

Then there was the gas leak (due to illegal maintenance) in an American factory in India. It killed at least 16,000, and maybe double that. (I mean. Who counts? These were poverty-stricken people who lived in a vast dump, not real people like us who go to nightclubs.)
The editorial has nothing much to say. But it is a triumph in one respect. It does not once mention the importance of building a new hockey rink at a hundred million.

Excellent column by Alec Bruce on Prime Minister Harper's eagerness to get rid of the man who did public audits on government spending - and perhaps to make sure that he has no successor. Harper's dislike of us great unwashed learning what he doing amounts to a paranoia. (I really must do a paragraph on that someday, along with the New Brunswick link to it.)

There is an excellent column by Johanne Perron on the op ed page. It is about pay equity for women, and it is the kind of informed and articulate opinion that should appear on an op ed page.

The lead column on that page is one written by editor-at-large Alan Cochrane. It's the sort of column that gives us the only sort of opinion that Mr. Irving wants us to hear. But I'm sure that's not why Mr. Cochrane wrote it.  No.  Cochrane is a deep thinker who isn't scared to say what he believes. No sir. He comes right out and asks the question that has engaged everyone from Socrates to the greatest minds of our day.

Should you wear a hat in winter?

Lord love a duck. Where does the Irving Press find these social rejects?

There's a good letter to the editor by David Coon, leader of the Green Party, "Tax hikes in Green Party DNA".

Monday, January 28, 2013

Jan. 26: Big news the TandT missed.

A few nights ago, I suddenly woke at 3 a.m. with a sense of horror. I had forgotten to move my car off  the street when I parked it. that's a serious business in Moncton. Parking on the street in winter is forbidden because it might interfere with snow removal. You can drill for shale gas, pump poisons into the earth and dump it all into streams and lakes and household water supplies. But you cannot park on the street overnight in winter.

Terrified, but alert and with the courage that runs in my family, I hurriedly dressed and ran out to the car. Too late.

There was a ticket on my car. It demanded forty-five big ones in payment. There was also a subtle warning that if I don't pay on time, I shall have to wear a dunce's cap in public, and my children will be auctioned off to an unnamed African war zone.

Not a big news story? Well, it is if you put it in combination with another story the TandT didn't have.

Gas and oil developers have, for years, being ignoring regulations for their industry. The environmental damage is uncountable, the human damage something the government prefers not to talk about. It's not as if the regulations are all that tough. In fact, Harper just got rid of a whole bunch of them. But there are regulations. They have been ignored. And there are heavy fines for that - even heavier than the $45 ticket on my windshield. But when the billionaire gas and oil developers woke up one morning, there were no tickets on their windshields.

No. There was just a letter from the federal government gently warning them that they were being naughty, and they really should obey the law. And it is well understood on both sides that the government is not going to check to make sure they do anything at all.

Funny that didn't appear in the TandT. I mean, didn't it promise over a  year ago to keep us informed about developments in the shale gas energy? And have you, as a result, read many articles pointing out problems with it?

I hear lots of good news from government hacks like Health Minister Flemming. There will be oh so strict regulations so that it will be perfectly safe. Right. Just like the Ottawa regulations. And if a developer breaks the law, he will certainly get a letter.

(Of course, it will be a little tough to set clear regulations when the government doesn't know what toxic chemicals are being used or in what quantities - and the developers refuse to tell them.)

But watch out, Mr. Irving. You could be getting a tough letter from Mr. Alward. Then you'll be sorry.

Of course, some citizens might protest about  being poisoned. But we can use the police if they get difficult. Damn protesters. It's all their fault.

A letter to the editor suggests Harper is putting pressure on the New Brunswick government to take it very, very easy on enforcing environmental regulation- or he'll cut back on equalizaton payments. I don't know about that. In the years I have lived here, I have not seen any New Brunswick government that needed any pressure to be submissive dog.

Oh, another missing story. Did you know the RCMP has spy drones to look at you and me? Yes, they do. And they're going to buy some more from the US. Of course, they'll only be used to look for criminals. You know, like environmentalists who are worried about pollution and climate change. You trust the police, don't you?

Of course, there is this business of the RCMP and CSIS spying on environmentalists and other critics of big business so they can give full reports to big business on who those awful people are, and what they're doing. But the TandT didn't report that, either.

We are, as expected, following the US to become a police state. No, that 's not an exaggeration. Domestic spying like that, without warrant or cause, then using it not to enforce law but to give ammunition to the rich and powerful is what's called a police state.

As for the Moncton Times and Transcript for today, what can I say? There's nothing in it worth reading but two, good letters to the editor. The news section gives sense of the utter chaos in Africa, much of it caused by our side in a desparate attempt to keep control of the resources of the continent - and to make sure the locals get as little profit as possible out of them. This is a return to what we never stopped, keeping Africa in poverty so our billionairs can loot it.

The difference this time is that Africa is far more militant in its resistance - and there are other countries like Russia and China which want to get into the game. That's why we face decades of war like the one we're being sucked into in Mali - but this time with lots and lots of nuclear weapons on both sides. At best, Africans can expect nothing but more poverty, starvationg, sickness, violence...

That could be a subject for a Sunday sermon.

Nah. People don't want to hear that. Let's go with the slide show on how beautiful God's flowers are.

Why don't the editors publish more information on what's going on? I don't know. I thought for a long time they were just lazy and sloppy. But it's quite possible they are so ignorant of foreign affairs, they don't know what's important to publish.

There's a story on C1, "Commons back in session today" that gives the common impression that Harper is a strong and confident prime minister. I think that's a pretty superficial impression. Any man who's as secretive and controlling as Harper, who surounds himself with incompetent ministers (Peter MacKay, Minister of Defence springs to mind), seems to me more likely to be a terribly insecure man. And I would guess much of that insecurity  has to to with New Brunswick. Must do a note on that some day.

The editorial (sigh). It starts with the awareness that we are facing an even bigger world economic crisis than we had thought. Quite true. Britain is already worse off than in the great depression. Greece and Spain face severe violence. And the really important aspect of all this in the eyes of the editorial writer?

We gotta guild an events centre. You know, with a hockey rink. Then, while the rest of world collapses, Moncton will rise ---

---with customers from----?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Jan.27: The Ideologue

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is an ideologue. That means he believes that there is just one way to organize a nation's political and economic life. There is only one way. And it is perfect. It is the truth and the only truth. Does that make ideology sound like religion?

That's because it is very much like religion.

Ideologies begin from the search for the best way to organize society. Out of the searches come theories. The great theory of the middle ages in Europe was that the best way to organize a society was under the authority of a king. A king, above the fray of common life, would be the best way to rule in the interests of everyone.

It was like a religion, so much so that the king was commonly spoken of as "king by the grace of God". Some kings, like Henry VIII of England ( and, very nearly, King Louis XIV of France), actually broke away from the king of the church (the Pope) and led their own religions.

But kings didn't work out very well. People being people, and kings being people, used kingship for personal glorification without much regard for the wishes or needs of the people they ruled. They simply picked the parts of the ideology of kingship that they liked (absolute power to create personal wealth), and ignored what they didn't like (the welfare of the people).

And that's like religion, too. Isn't it? In Christianity, each sect chooses which parts of The Bible suit its wants - and ignores the rest. Crandall  University, for example, will not hire gays because there are passages in The Bible that condemn gays.Okay. Have they announced a ban on hiring people who are covetous, who don't honour their parents, who are greedy, who don't stone disobedient children to death? All such people are in violation of Biblical instruction. Ah, but we're people. We pick and we choose.

In the process picking and choosing, we destroy our own religions and ideologies. But we still pretend we believe in them - and we really believe that we still believe in them. There's even a Nazi Christian church still in existence in North America. It's called the Aryan Church. And yes, it's racist.

The ideology of kingship began fading as early as some 900 years ago, largely as a result of the general incompetence of kings. Sounded good. Just didn't work. The next ideology, rule by aristocracy (that's what Magna Carta was all about), met a similar fate. If failed for the same reason kingship failed. It was self-serving and incompetent.

In the eighteeth century, a new ideology arose, a new religion for the good ordering of society. It was called liberalism. (And no, it was not like the Liberal party).

The basic principal was that all people should be equal and free. (Some freedom had to be given up to maintain the state; but people were to be as free as possible.) And that freedom included the right to own property and to use it as one wished. With that, there developed capitalism in which the entrepreneur was free to develop his property as he wished - the free and independent person - without relianace on or favours from the general  society. And that would spread prosperity to all.

But people, well, they pick and choose what they want to believe - and forget the rest.

In fact, capitalism has not spread wealth. In fact, it is probably the worst distributor of wealth ever devised. That gap between rich and poor even within capitalist countries is appalling and getting worse. Then when you add the centuries of pillaging Africa and Asia, you find a capitalism that has produced the greatest poverty and suffering and misery in history. Indeed, what you find is not capitalism at all. What you find is, like the Aryan church, a mixture of picking and choosing whatever it is convenient ot pick and choose while ignoring the rest.

It grew out of the concept of individual rights and freedoms. But it flourishes with massive state support and favours. Banks fail? The government will bail them out, and taxpayers will pay for it.
Capitalists want forests or loans or tax cuts? The government will provide. And taxpayers will pay for it. Heck, our taxes even pay for spying on environmentalists so that the government can tell big business what environmentalists are planning.

 (We pay for that. Big business doesn't.  When it comes to taking, big capitalism tosses its principles of  individualism away to such a degree that capitalists like Irving become the biggest welfare recipients in New Brunswick. But at tax time, they remember their Liberal roots which it comes time to pay taxes. Taxes are for the common people.) 

The big entrepreneurs also intrude on the personal freedom of the rest of us. Irving acted as a finance advisor to Harper. What the hell does Irving know about operating a financial system for a whole nation? What training does he have? He knows how to make money for himself, of course. But that does not translate in understanding the needs of a national economy.

And where is the integrity of Harper or Irving in accepting such a partnership. Irving is a man with a direct stake in the federal budget - for himself. What was Harper thinking of? Here was a man with no special training in questions of national econmy, no experience of it, a personal stake in it - and he gets invited to the planning?

Irving was not elected to the federal government. He was intruding on our indivicual right to choose who we want to govern us. I'm sure the TandT would have raised hell if Harper had invited labour leaders or welfare recipients to be his advisors. (But they would know far more about national needs that Mr. Irving does.)

Then there was the arrogance of Mr. Irving in publicly declaring himself a member of the provincial government. He was never elected. The fundamental principle of rights and capitalism is that WE choose the government. Nobody can  just walk in and say he's running things. But he did. And Wimpy Alward didn't say a word. Indeed, he welcomed the private business reps who were planted on the Finance Minister, Higgs, to be him advice.

We don't have capitalism. It died a long time ago, killed by the big capitalists. It does not distribute wealth. It constantly relies not on itself but on goverment (us) to support it.

It has also taken away the wonderful gift of our indivicual freedom. In the US, elections have been made so expensive (and deliberately so) that only two parties can run with any hope of winning. Both rely on big business for funding. The result is two parties that are essentially the same - and which run the country on the orders of big business.

And the leaders of big business are utterly incompetent to lead us in national or international affairs. For international affairs, look at Afghanistan, the trillion dollar war that has inflicted massive suffering - for no gain whatever. Look at which was conquered only by massive destruction and heavy loss of life which has led to a nation so unstable, it may well collapse this year. Look at the intevention in Libya which has created a Libya still in chaos - and the source of weapons and fighters for wars across North Africa as, for example, in Syria and Mali.

Western capitalism has so far collapsed that it is committed to generations of war so it can continue looting Africa - and to finance the cold war with China which has already begun. Oh, and watch for the wars in Latin America made necessary by those silly Latin Americans who want to run their own countries.

Making a lot of money does not, all by itself, qualify a person to run a country - or even a small province like New Brunswick. Big business is our equivalent of kings and aristocrats; and it's going into the same incompetence and decay they did.

A capitalism which is not capitalism at all is destroying us by its greed and incompetence. The big boys looked at capitalism - and it was good - but, like most converts, they picked and chose what they would believe. And the end product is not capitalism at all. But they still call it that, just as some people call their churches Christian when they have long ago lost the spirit of Christianity.

So we're now at the Mussolini stage, the beginnings of fascism with big business and government becoming one and the same.  This will be (already is) marked by severe abuse and attack on individual rights. The US now has the biggest domestic spy system in history, complete with presidential power to impirson without charge or trial, and even to assassinate.

The US, with torture, illegal and constant wars, domestic spying with virtually no protection for the rights of a free people, has long ago crossed the line to become a police state.

And Canada, I suspect, is not far behind. I mean, we're already spending millions investigating environmentalists so we can report them to the big capitalists. And it's a safe bet environmentalists are the not the only targets.

And prepare for big government. The clergy of big business preach small government. But they do it the way some Christian preachers talk about the sin of murder. They say its wrong. But they've been known to bless the bombs and to call on God to help us kill the helpless targets of our greed.

The reality is that nobody relies on big government as much as big business does. It needs big government to pay for its wars, to spy on its critics, to make sure that the poor and the middle class pay most of the taxes. But it attacks big government so that we will focus on government rather than on what big business is doing.

Capitalism no longer has any of the principles of individual rights and freedoms it began with. It is, in fact, no longer capitalism at all. It is also incompetent (and irresponsible) in wielding the powers it has taken.

Say hello to Big Brother Harper.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jan.26: Lord, what a dried out, diseased bowl of porridge

the Moncton Times and Transcript is..

Page B 1. Finance Minister Higgs will hold a public consultation with the citizens of Moncton. It will concern the budget. That's in keeping with Mr. Alward's election plank to listen to the people. Right. As if a meeting with 50 or so Moncton residents, self-chosen, will have a whole lot of insight to offer on the budget. Nah, why bother? Who can make sensible comments when our daily newspaper doesn't tell us what's happening?

And as if Mr. Higgs gives a damn what they think. He's an ex-Irving executive, has an official advsory group created by Mr. Irving, and his party has never opposed Mr. Irving on anything.
Then there's a big story on a village mayor who would like his village to get a community health centre. Wow! Stop the presses. 
There's an even bigger story on the hundredth anniversary of the Moncton Public Library. It's a dry, boring, and informationless story about moves, fires, etc. Hardly a word about what the library does (and, yes, some libraries do quite a few things.)

Nor does it mention that New Brunswick libraries are worst funded in Canada - so they can't put on programmes that other libraries do; and they can't keep up to date on stock.

I have seen libraries in communities smaller than Moncton that have far better and more up to date book collections, that offer a wide range of programmes that draw community participation in the hundreds, that are full of school children as soon as the school day is over.

It's not the fault of the Moncton library. They couldn't hope to match that on their budget. It's the fault of a city and a provincial government that will spend hundreds of millions to fill hotel rooms (most of whose profits go out of the province); but have no sense of any purpose of government other than to promote business.

It's also the fault of a general population that acts as if the whole province were just a big village - so you have to watch everything you say or show any interest in. (Scrap-book making is safe.)

Anyway, if we have a high illiteracy rate, we can always blame the teachers.

Oh, the sub head, that medium size print that broadens the meaning of the story, suggests that maybe the library might go in the events centre - if it gets built. That piece of nothing news is right up there under the headline, though there's no information on it; and it takes only one line at the end of the story. It has nothing to do with the story. So what on earth is it there for?

Oh. I see. It's a promo for the events centre. Nice kissing Brent.
Speaking of kissing, Health Minister Flemming must have had a warm feeling on his bum after reading today's editorial on his superb handling of cuts in the health budget.

In another story on the abrasive Mr. Flemming, the headline looks promising, "Flemming takes heat from New Brunswick Medical Society". But the story isn't about that. It's all about how the doctors in his home riding support him.  One doctor does say Flemming tends to be "fairly robust in his language"; but that's okay. I'm glad to hear he feels that way, the f-----g half-wit.
Billl Belliveau's column attempts to suggest how Harper should deal with our First Nations people. He doesn't succeed except in very vague terms. He's not to be blamed for that. Nobody else has succeeded, either.

Anyway, we know what Mr. Harper will do. He'll stall. He'll lie. He'll leak false reports to the press; he'll continue to encourage pollution of native lands (for all of us natives of Canada); and he'll continue to neglect First Nations. If that leads to violence, he'll blame it all on First Nations people while Canadians applaud him because they don't know any better. After all they get most of their news from papers like the Moncton Times and Transcript. 

Norbert is good today - single topic, sticks to it, makes a strong case. It's also very frightening.

Brent Mazerolle demonstrates once again a skill that is highly prized in the Irving press - filling lots of space without saying anything at all.

And Gwynne Dyer has a solid column about the prime minister of England - and how speeches that sound patriotic and stirring and proud can be none of those things.

And the Faith Page. As usual, the sermonette is vague enough so that no-one should be offended.
It's all about forgiveness - and how there has to be punishment or penance, too. We willl pass lightly by all the evidence that says punishment is rarely effective. (Kids are bad? Whack 'em. It's all part of God's great plan.)

But once again, it's so detached, so aimed at easy targets. What inspired it, apparently, was Lance Armstrong's confession that he took drugs. Steve Malloy wrote a much better column and - dare I say it? - a more Christian one on the op ed page of yesterday's paper.

But why pick on easy targets like Armstrong when there are so many big ones?

President Obama's drone strikes have killed at least 115 children in Pakistan and Yemen. (That's from the Bureau of Investigative journalism; and it doesn't include children killed in Afghanistan and Yemen. Nor does it count innocent, adult civilians who were killed.)

So what's appropriate here? Prison? Spanking? Christian applause?

American bankers broke the law, destroyed the American economy and perhaps the world economy, impoverished millions of Americans, caused a never-to-be-known number of suicides. Call me a whacko, but I think that's worse than Lance Armstrong taking drugs to pedal fast.

And their punishment? Well, they were forced to accept a trillion or so dollars so they could give their executives and board members huge bonusses. Ah, the Lord forgives, I guess. But only if you're a billionaire banker.

Same thing with the British bank that got caught laundering money in the hundreds of billions for terrorists and drug gangs. Now, reverend, there's an example of penance and punishment. They didn't get away with it. No. They got fined - for almost as much money as they had made in the laundering.

Is the New Brunswick government notably Christian in its behaviour? Are its wealthier citizens notably Christian in theirs?

Jesus talked about real conditions in the world he lived in. I wish His churches would do the same in our world.
And the news that didn't make it?

Honduras is over the fiscal cliff. There's chaos and suffering. Teachers haven't been paid for six months. Doctors are out of essential medecines and equipment.

But the foreign news editor seems never to have heard of Honduras, and probably still has to check a map to find Mali. I have never seen any sign of editorial judgement in either Foreign or Canadian news in the TandT. I can only assume the appropriate editor doesn't have a clue about them either.

The French troops in Mali are Foreign Legion. Forget Beau Geste. These are not lovable guys. These are hired thugs, murderers, rapists and thieves. They have also been sent over the Mali border into Niger to - to help little girls go to school? Well, no. To protect French owned uranium mines in that country. Incidentally - a small point - France has now invaded two countries under conditions illegal  in international law. And we are taking part in it.  The Faith Page might consider the meaning of all this. It may be even more important that Lance Armstrong.

From The Independent on Jan. 25, secret funds from anonymous, multi-billionaire donors with an interest in oil, shale gas, all fossil fuels, are behind massive campaigns to discredit the idea of climate change. That would include paying off politicians, planting false articles in newspapers, organizing massive, social media campaigns.....  But I'm sure the government of New Brunswick and the Moncton Times and Transcript would have nothing to do with any such thng.

This kind of misinformation has the power to, at the least, put hundreds of millions of people at risk. But we'll just sing another hymn.

From the Los Angeles Times of Nov. 22, 2012, the US government has established a Cyber Corps to interfere with computers and private phones, to plant tracking devices on cars (with no reason given and no permission needed), start false, propaganda threads in Facebook - that sort of thing. It's been done before. It was done way back in 1953 to Iran.

Iran once had a fully legitimate and elected government and a largely secular society. All that was destroyed when Britain, France and the US set up a coup so they could grab the oil fields. The BBC as well as US agencies were active in spreading propaganda for the coup (and they knew it was propaganda.) The BBC actually broadcast the code word that set off the coup.

But I guess that's all okay with our churches. I mean, really, all we have to do is to take more kids to the woodshed.

And then may they burn in Hell.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Jan. 25: How to lie without actuaally lying ....

...not actually lying...

Read the joyous, bubbly, teeny-bopper, wowowow headline at the top of A 1.
"Community health centres draw rave reviews". Gee. That's pretty impressive, considering that no such centre has even opened yet. That may be why I haven't noticed excited crowds dancing in the streets.

'Rave reviews' gives the impression of stunning success and the reaction of very large numbers of people. But that hasn't happened.  Read the opening sentence. "The president of the New Brunswick Medical Society has high hopes for the government-funded community health centres like the one planned in Oromocto."

I'm glad to hear it. I'm sure his hopes are reasonable and well-informed. but a statement that one person has high hopes scarcely justifies the jubilant "rave reviews" for something that hasn't happened yet.

So why that jubilant headline at the top of A1? It's an old trick in journalism. You see, the big, health story is the one just below it on the right, "New Health CEOs named". Gee. That's not a very exciting headline, nothing like "rave reviews". Not likely to grab nearly as much attention.

The TandT had to print a story as important as the health minister getting rid to two health CEOs, and replacing them with stooges, men who had acted on his health committee to cut medical budgets, men who will do what they are told to do. That's a very important story.

The Health Minister has recently made loutish statements that publicly humiliate the whole medical profession. He was trying to force cuts - in the business way that he is familiar with. That means he had no great interest in wasting time by examining, with the medical profession, the best way to cut costs while maintaing services. As any big businessman would, he just slashes whatever it is he doesn't really give a damn about. He set up a "health committee" whose major job is to decide what to cut.

Then he gets rid of the existing CEOs, and replaces them  with "his" people. Great way to maintain a happy and contributing profession, Mr. Flemming. I'm sure it will be inspirational for medical staff to work under the new boys who are under orders to slash $200 million from Health in the next, four years - plus more millions out of medicare in general.

Mr. Flemming gives no clear reason why he dismissed the existing CEOs. Gee, I wonder what it could be? And the TandT reporters, as usual, seems to have made no attempt to find out anything except what Mr. Flemming told them. This isn't a report. It's press release from a man who has shown nothing but clumsiness, tactlessness and boorishness in all his handling of this affair.

It's quite possible that cuts are needed. But you don't get the best cuts by pushing them down the throats of a whole profession, destroying their morale, and seriously weakening their contribution to planning.

Of course, the TandT plays it all down, and puts its emphasis on "rave reviews". And it makes sure the real, big story in Health is written in such boring style that few will read it. The kind of people who own the Irving press would probably be as  happy to shut down medicare altogether, cut their own taxes a bit more, and use some of the savings to spruce up the family chapel. Praise the Lord.

For some correction to impressions you might get from reading the TandT, The New Brunswick Medical Society has issued an open letter to the news media. The CBC carried that story at no charge.

The TandT carries it on B5 as what appears to be a paid ad. I guess that's the only way you can make the news in the Irving press - unless somebody is giving a "rave review". Anyway, it has lots of answers to the questions no Irving reporters seem to have thought of asking.

They're flexible, though. They published the Health Minister's "open letter" for free on the front page, and called it a news story.
On page B1, "Public confused about Idle No More protest aims:poll". Well, who could be surprised? Most of our news comes from private media whose coverage has ranged from sloppy through hostile to Harper propaganda leaks. (as unintentionally revealed in a letter to the editor, "Chief Spence remains enigma".)

Editorials are usually unsigned. That's because the editorial is supposed to reflect the combined opinion of the whole editorial staff. Today's editorial urges standard, provincial exams for our schools. Alas! If you add up the educational training and experience of the whole editorial staff and multiply the answer by 10, it still comes to a row of zeros.

The final line is the silliest one, that standard exams would tell us how well teachers are doing. Bullshit. You want to know why children do badly in school? Check family income, family environment, social environment, access to intellectual stimulation - you will find a remarkable coorelation between those factors and test results.

The low rate of literacy in NB  has nothing to do with teachers or testing. It  has to do with family attitudes, community environments, social discouragement of intellectual activity, and the intellectually deadening impact of media like the Irving Press and private radio....

Norbert is in great form today - nothing heavy duty, but good reading, and useful. It certainly gave me a few things to think about.

Alec Bruce is in good form discussing the budget and the need for higher taxes. I have just one quibble. He says, "...governments are elected to lead, not to pander."

I wish.

 In reality, they are elected to pander - to the very rich. And that's why I can't have much faith in the budget decisions of this government.

The new boy on the block, Steve Malloy on the op ed page, is well worth a read for his interesting take on cyclist Lance Armstrong, who confessed to doping. He takes the case well beyond the self-righteous preaching which has been most of the media reaction to Armstrong's confession.

And David Suzuki, as always, is excellent.

The following items were sent to me by a reader. They deal with what I wrote of yesterday, France's motive for its invasion of Mali.  I did not then know of these important details. The source of the first excerpt is one I know to be a respected source.  I don't know the second source - but it sounds reasonable.

I'm writing this on Thursday evening. Will the TandT have the story tomorrow? I rather doubt it.

War on terror forever
By Pepe Escobar

[from near the end of the article]

"But the Oscar for Best Hypocritical Scenario certainly goes to the current French-Anglo-American concern about Mali being the new al-Qaeda playground, when the major playgrounds are actually NATO-supported northern Syria (as far as the Turkish border), north Lebanon and most parts of Libya.

Follow the gold, and follow the uranium
Even before it's possible to fully analyze the myriad ramifications - many of them unforeseen - of the expanded GWOT, there are two fronts to be carefully observed in the near future. So let's follow the gold, and let's follow the uranium.

Follow the gold. A host of nations have gold bullion deposited at the New York Federal Reserve. They include, crucially, Germany. Recently, Berlin started asking to get back its physical gold back - 374 ton from the Bank of France and 300 tons out of 1,500 tons from the New York Federal Reserve.

So guess what the French and the Americans essentially said: We ain't got no gold! Well, at least right now. It will take five years for the German gold in France to be returned, and no less than seven years for the stash at the New York Federal Reserve. Bottom line: both Paris and Washington/New York have to come up with real physical gold any way they can.

That's where Mali fits in - beautifully. Mali - along with Ghana - accounts for up to 8% of global gold production. So if you're desperate for the genuine article - physical gold - you've got to control Mali. Imagine all that gold falling into the hands of... China.
Now follow the uranium. ... Niger is the world's fourth-largest producer of uranium. Its biggest customer is - surprise! - France;..." their uranium mines are concentrated very close to the Mali border.


"Our story starts with the fact that many nations have deposited gold bullion at the New York Federal Reserve. 2009, a worker at a German gold bullion trader grew suspicious of a gold bar that had come in, and decided to assay the gold content. But the drill bit broke, revealing that the core of the gold car was filled with tungsten.... the problem of tungsten filled bullion bars was widespread. Because many of the fake gold bars had the marking of US sources, nations began to ask for audits and tests of the gold bullion held in their name by the New York Federal Reserve. To the surprise of many, the New York Federal Reserve refused! Indeed the New York Federal Reserve refused the German government permission to simply look at their bullion!..... The German government started demanding their physical gold to be repatriated back to Germany.... France and the United States are scrambling to find replacement gold. Which brings us to Mali."actual

nope. It didn't make today's Irving Press.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The training of Health MInister Fleming...

.... I had a dog like that once - jumped up on people, barked at terrirfied children, stuck his nose iin people's plates at dinner, left little piles all over the house....But I took him to the SPCA for dog training; and he came out of it a new dog.

And so, today's Moncton Times and Transcript (C3) marks the debut of the new and trained Health Minister Flemming. There's a big picture of him wearing a shirt that fits and a tie that's properly tightened. He even has something resembling a smile on his face - though that still needs work. In a story below it, he says nice things about doctors of NB who are, "...among the best in North America." He gives every sign of being a much nicer dog.
Too bad the editorial writer messes it up. What he/she does is to ruin the minister's new image by defending his over-the-top, rude, bullying and generally bad-dog behaviour before he got his SPCA training.

Hey, editorialist, he's a new man. Give him a chance.
A major story in Section A is to be found on p.2 in which our provincial Finance Minister goes about the province advising citizens that the provincial budget is the key to balancing the books. Well, duh, yeah.And having a spare is the key to changing a tire.  If that's as deep as his economic insight goes, I'm afraid a few sessions at the SPCA wouldn't be enough.
Alec Bruce has an important column - well worth a serious read.In NB, politicians always sem to be looking for projects with a quick pay-off. Mr. Bruce takes the longer view for, in that longer view, is a much bigger payoff,and a better society.

Norbert has returned to a one topic format - and his column is much better   for it. Mind you, it would have been better still if he'd done just a little more research to provide contacts for his readers who want to get involved in the projects he advocates..

There's a cute editorial cartoon by de Adder - and not just cute.

Letters to the Editor have been quite readably lately -and today is one of the best. And now a step back to op ed.

Jody Dallaire, as always, produces a solid column, this time on past activists in the cause of women's rights. I could wish she had gone back just a little further to women like Letitia Youmans. These women faced a male world that was very hostile indeed. But these women came out swinging. They didn't demand rights because they were equal. Nossir (or noma'am - sorry for that sexist lapse). Their one-two punch was 1. Women were morally superior to men and 2. Their moral superiority made them more competent. In everything. KO.

We'll have to discuss that some time.

Rod Allen is more serious than usual. Not much. But more. Essentially, it's the Moncton theme that government exists to make quick money for Moncton business. Funny how business so often says government is incompetent, and should be as small as possible - but always expects help from government (for itself.) So guess where big government comes from.

The story that should have been the big one of the day was, instead, the one that was long but conveyed almost no meaning, the one that desperately needed an opinion piece on the op ed, but that didn't get any of those, was a story about the "biggest threat to world peace", a threat that has led to a war "that will last for decades", and that "could decide the whole future of the world", gets only a news report that conveys nothing. As well, the news report is full of bizarre and obvious contradictions - about the war in Mali.

(Who cares about Mali? What does it have to do with us? Nothing. And everything.)

This is why it always annoys me to see staffwriters wasing op ed space on trivia.

For a start, we have to begin by understanding that no country goes to war to save democracy or helping little girls go to school or toppling cruel dictators. One of the world's cruelest dictators (and most ardent of fundamentalist Moslems) is our good ol' buddy, the king of Saudi Arabia. The US has, as well, long supported some terribly cruel dictators throughout Central America while overthrowing democracies..

If we were so anxious to help little girls go to school, we could have done it in Haiti where the need is just as great as Afghanistan. And we wouldn't have to fight a trillion dollar war and kill thousands of people to do it. What Canada did instead was to fight the war without helping anybody, and then cut aid to Haiti.

War for democracy? Come off it. If the US fought wars to save democracy, it would have entered World War 2 more than two years earlier than it did.

Wars are fought for the self-interest of whoever has real power in a country. That interest might be economic or strategic. The wars of the last dozen years were planned years before 9/11, It's all laid out in a site on the web "Project for the New American Century" It is a plan for world domination for the benefit of the nation's leading businessmen. Many of the people who wrote it were later in the Bush White House. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan followed that plan. Obama is still following it.

But you need an excuse to sell the general population on the war. In that sense, 9/11 was a gift. It set off a wave of fear that has carried us into war after war against terrorism (as though we have never done such a thing), and against Islam. And, in the process, it has had what should have been predictable. It has strenghtened Moslem resistance against western controls that have been imposed on them for over a century.

And it has provided us with an excuse to attack Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and now Mali, and to supply money and weapons and mercenaries for what it pleases our press to call a civil war in Syria

The British prime minister has launched special ops forces over the Sahara region to kill terrorists in a war he says will take decades. According to him and to American political sources, Moslem power in Africa is the greatest threat to world peace. This is a Britain, incidentally, which got kicked out of most of Africa after World War 2.

In the face of this "greatest threat to world peace", the lead is being taken by France - a country which has not taken such a move in the over fifty years since it had it's butt kicked in Vietnam and Algeria and Mali - and all the rest of its old empire. It is also fighting in Mali in defence of a government that is a military dictatorship.

Mali? Libya? Somali? Yemen? There are the great threats to world peace? None has any navy to speak of. None has enough of an air force to provide a half decent show for a country fair.

The US has enough nuclear bombs to destroy the world many times over. So has Russia. Then there are the stockpiles in India, Pakistan, China, Britain, France and Israel. The US spends more on military gear than all other countries in the world, has far the biggest navy and air force in the world, a vast army of mercenaries in addition to its regulars.

The American navy is being redployed to the Pacific to hem in China. China has just bought a large fleet of long-range bombers to deal with the US navy.

And the greatest threats to world peace are a group of countries that are among the poorest and least industrialized in the world?

And the lead is being taken by those fading dance-hall queens, Britain and France?

If this is so serious, why is Harper (grudgingly) lending them just one air transport, and that for only a week?

Why has Obama shown a similar lack of concern? Try this.

Mali was a French colony. France did very well out of that resource-rich country, pulling out billions of dollars with the help of a labour force made up of people who were close to slaves - and spilling pollution over the country without concern.

Mali still has strong resources - including gold.

Mali also has uranium, probably a great deal of it. France depends on nuclear reactors for much of its energy.

France also used to own Syria. France is now an important supporter of the Syrian rebels.

Britain once made huge fortunes out of its African colonies.

Religions and threats to world peace have nothing to do with the darkness closing in on Africa. We are going back to the brutal, pillaging days of a century and more ago, to the reconquest and re-enslaving of Africa. So is Obama. Without fanfare, he has distributed troops and CIA all over Africa. And there is every possibility that Russia and China will be nosing in.

Yes. It will take decades, probably generations, of war and death and starvation and poverty, and the risk of a general war.. And, however reluctant Harper might be, Canada will get sucked into it.

A war against terrorists? Moslems got nothing on us when it comes to widespread murder and terrorism.

A war against 'extreme' Islam? Our wars have are what have created 'extreme' Islam.

Anyway, Islam of any sort has nothing to do with it. We'd be sending in the drones and the assassination squads even if they were 'extreme' Baptists.

Any editor at the Moncton Times and Transcript could have written such an op ed page just by noticing the oddities in the reporting (such as Canada declining to play much of a role in this war  against "the greatest threat to world peace.") - and just by using a bit of common sense.

What we get instead (usually) on the op ed page are no-brainers about rock shows on Magnetic Hill, and trivialities like "What I did last summer".

The TandT has no connection with any reality. And I guess that's the way Mr. Irving likes it - with us all in the dark. It makes life easier for him.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jan.23: Big headline, front page.... we know it can't possibly be any big deal....

The provincial government paid over a million dollars for four houses. Well, the reasoning sounds sensible. Water control plans carried out by the government have put the houses in severe danger of flooding. So, of course, the government is responsible for taking action to protect the owners.

After all, we know that f this were a highly suspect deal (like the purchase of contaminated land for a hockey rink or the expensive purchase and servicing of a big chunk of a suburb to build a high school,well...there's not the slightest possibility the Moncton Times and Transcript would make a big deal of it. And if it were a transaction that involved the big boss...well, we'd never know, would we?

The only question I can see here is whether the province paid an unreasonable price for the properties and that, of course, is a question the reporter never asked. (It shouldn't have been hard to check property values in the area.)

There is quite a shocking story of a local school, Ecole Champlain, which some genius decided to build in an industrial zone. The quality of air in the school is so bad that classes often have to move to the gymn, and children frequently cannot go outside at recess and lunch. And this has been going on for thirty years or more.

Well,we'll look after it. Some day. Not right away, though. All the  money is tied up in moving Moncton High at very high cost, and raising a hundred million for a hockey rink. Hey, first things first.

Better news is a well-reported story on B6. "Music from the heart" is about two , music groups in the city - neither of which wears day-glo costumes or features guitarists who leap in the air while playing.  The Sussex Avenue Fiddlers (essentially down home music - but also happy to take a stab at the classics) will be performing this Saturday in company with the Mozart Children's Orchestra.

The children's group developed out of a programme in Venezuela to help the children of the poor learn to play a musical instrument. (In Venezuela, the children actually have to make their own instruments out of garbage in the local dump. And they do a great job of it.)

It's nice to read of something in Moncton that's social and cultural - and not just crassly commercial.
The lead editorial is not a bad one. In fact, by the standards of the TandT, it's brilliant. It criticizes the provincial government for withholding information about the sale of the houses that is covered in the front page headline.  It makes some good points - but also reinforces the impression this is all no big deal involving anybody of importance or influence. After all, if it did involve such people, that editorial would never appear. Remember - no editorial ever appeared about the very suspicious land deals involving Moncton High and the proposed hockey rink.
Poor Norbert. He has dreadful difficulty in writing without ranting and abuse.. As he (correctly) criticizes the use of energy saving light bulbs which produce a greater problem - the release of mercury - he has this line. this is all a sop to the "righteous, politically correct environmental crowd whose hearts are in absolutely the right place but whose heads are in LaLa land dreaming up simplistic solutions and ignoring logic,  facts and science."

Sound reasonable to you? Okay. Imagine him writing something like that about Mr. Irving. Get some you-know-what, Norbert.

For a start, what you might do is to tell those other editors to carry a story which they, for some reason, ignored. Environment Canada is concerned by oil spills and other damage caused by major oil firms (espcially in Alberta) and by pipeline companies -like the one that might be coming to us soon. It seems that the bosses in these industries have been ignoring government regulations, thus causing serious damage to land, lakes and rivers, damage which makes them liable to fines of a million dollars - and to three years in jail.  And you know what Environment Canada did?

It sent them warning notes. Way to get tough.

But don't worry the oil bosses. They'll be okay. They know that Harper would never let Environment Canada check to see if they're now sticking to the rules.

Still feel good about our tough, new, shale gas regulations? Dream on.

Norbert also comes down on the side of Health Minister Flemming against the province's medical profession. I won't pretend (as Norbert does) to be an expert on Emergency Room management. But that isn't the issue.

This issue is that Mr. Flemming has created a far bigger problem by his loutish statements to the press on the subject. His language has been accusatory, abusive, and sometimes so incoherent, that one wonders whether he can be entirely sober. That's the issue, Norbert. Wanna talk about that?
Alec Bruce has an amusing column; but that amusing part just sets you up. It has an ending to be taken very seriously indeed. It say a lot about the human beast that we all are.
On op-ed, Eric Lewis has a column that misses the point. He wants city councillors to be independent. So he admires the fact that they don't have parties, and thus have no party line to adhere to. But he's dead wrong.

There is a party line they have to follow - and most of them do follow it. A rare exception was coucillor Bourgeois who resigned from council because his questioning manner had made it difficult for him to get a job in this city.

There is a party. The party is made up of the business leaders of this city and province. And if you don't follow their party line, then you're out there all by yourself because the people of this city quietly accept being cheated and pushed around.
Brian Cormier still hasn't caught on to what an opinion column is. He still thinks it's a place for cutesie-poo stories of the sort that have less information value than today's Hollywood column bit on how Angeline Jolie loves to teach her children to go poo.
There are three letters that beat anything on the op-ed page, "The trouble with normal", "'Real food' promotes health, saves money", and  "PM's take on us is...educational".

Finally, a warning way in advance.Starting Thursday, Jan. 31, I'll be teaching a course for Tantramar Seniors on the bits of Canadian history you never learned in school. (It covers stuff like why governments sell liquor in Canada, why  football players usually have university educations while hockey players have high school, why the Grey Cup is for 'amateur' football, how booze created the women's liberaton movement, stuff like that.) It will run for six Thursdays, from 10 to 12 in the morning - so I'll be quite late on the blog those days.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jan. 22: well....well....welll....

It's kind of hard to write about a Moncton Times and Transcript which has a big story on the front page that it's cold out. And that's pretty much it for Section A.

The next big story has to wait until Section C -  that Obama took the oath for his second term. The oratorical style was pure Martin Luther King. "Our journey is not complete until...", "Our journey is not complete until...."  But there's a difference, King meant it.

He will make Americans all equal under the law? Well, first he'll have to fit them all in under the law. Under Obama, the president can decide that some people can be arrested without charge, and imprisoned without trial. Some can be tortured in military prisons on American soil and tried in military cours, as Private Brandley Manning was. 

He will ensure that women can earn a living equal to their efforts? Big deal that will be. Under Obama, American poverty has risen among both men and women. Even as employment begins to improve slightly, most of the  new jobs are poverty level - for men and women. And, also under Obama, the incomes of the very rich have increased 750%. I think the women at Walmart might have to hustle to catch up.

He, perhaps tactfully (it was Martin Luther King Day), did not mention equality for African-Americans and hispanics with their extraordinarily high rates of unemployment and with the desperate underfunding of their schools due to the privatization of so much of education by George Bush.

The Business Page has (surprisingly) an interesting article on the tremendous cost to small business of government red tape, since small business cannot afford the specialized help that costs. It's a good point. And the government is reacting. Ottawa is reducing red tape for companies that earn from $10 a year (sounds reasonable)----to $200 million a year ). You know. Just your typical mom and pop store.

An environmental group, The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, is asking for protection for the Bay of Fundy which is threatened by industrial growth (and garbage). Special alert to CSIS and RCMP, immediately assign agents to members of The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. Get photos; check internet traffic; interview neighbours; prepare full reports to be presented to all industrial polluters in Bay of Fundy region.

This is a Red Alert, code 'shitdisturbers'.

That's the news. It's cold out. Obama said nothing in particular. And environmentalists are the enemies of all patriotic Canadians.
Norbert is the class act on the editorial page. Again, he's back to his multiple topics style. But this time it works. There's nothing earth-shaking here; but it's well-written and it's interesting.

And Bill Belliveau does well with a letter to the editor. It's a well-written and careful reponse to an earlier letter that criticized his column on Idle No More. I still don't agree with him about his opinions. But his response to the letter writer in delightfully polite, and well done. A class act.

Given the paucity of news or comment about anything of importance in today's edition, I shall go back to yesterday's for a story that caught my attention - but didn't have room for. It's "Thousands rally against stricter gun control laws".It's an American story, of course, and some of the quotations in it  caught my attention.

One was that gun control was part of the liberal agenda. What the hell does that mean? What does the speaker think liberal means? Doesn't he know that the American Revolution was a liberal one? or that the American constitution, including the second amendment, was a product of liberal thinking of the time?

Across Canada and the US, it is alarming to see people shouting words they don't understand, using them simply as name-calling. There is no serious discussion of serious issues, just this brainless name-calling.

Obama is a liberal? Sure. That's why corporate profits have risen by 170 percent in his presidency, and along with Bush's days, incomes of top exectives have risen 750%. Get real.

Another village idiot dressed himself in a revolutionay uniform, carrying a sign "Tyrants Beware - 1776".

a) As an elected president who also needs congresstional approval, Obama can scarcely be called a tyrant.  This is just more brainless name-calling.
b) The idea that Americans lived under a British tyranny is equally nonsense - but more on that later.

Another demonstrator said, "...this country had some very wise founding fathers and they knew they were being oppressed when they were a British colony. Had they not had their stand up against the British, we'd still be a British colony."

Historically, this is pure rubbish. The British had gone to great expense keeping troops in the colonies to protect them against French armies and (let's be honest) terrorists in what is now Quebec. After New France was captured, Britain wanted the English colonies to play part of the cost of their own defence. Just part of it.

But with the defeat of France, the colonists - especially the wealthy ones - didn't need Britain any more. And George Washington, the biggest slave owner in the colonies, was also probably the wealthiest man. In fact, the wealthy were quite prominent among the founders. (Incidentally, as commander of the colonial militia - a commander by order of the king - Washington had earlier used troops to put down a tax rebellion. Obviously, his opinion of taxes depended on who was being asked to pay them.)

Equality? The new US was no more equal than Britain was. The American wealthy became the new aristocracy though, while the British aristocracy has faded, the American one is more powerful than ever. Women were not equal, not by a long shot. Blacks were slaves. In some states, the right to vote was limited according to income level.

And one reason Washington and the boys wanted to separate from Britain had nothing to do with equality. It had to do with invading the interior, killing off native peoples, and stealing their land. Many of the wealthy in the early US were major land speculators. The British government, though admittedly not for any humane reasons, was opposed to that.

To say that all Americans are equal in any sense is absurd in a society in which rich and poor are so widely separated, and in which the rich have so much power in politics and controlling the news.

Freedom? Americans were freer before the revolution than they are now. Before the revolution, not even the king could imprison a citizen without charge or trial. And he certainly could not order the execution of a citizen. American presidents now have those powers.

Without the revolution, the US would still be a colony? Is Canada a colony? I bet some of those clowns think it is.

Where do people learn this silliness? In the schools. The US, like Canada, is full of people who think patriotism means believing all sorts of silly myths about their countries. In the US, the invasion of Canada in 1812 (you remember that one. They Canadian government just spent 30 million dollars celebrating the day we got invaded - something like celebrating Hitler's invasion of Poland.)

In the US, the war is usually taught as a war of self-defence. Yep. In order to defend itself, a nation 10 times our size had to invade Quebec and Ontario. And I'm sure it had nothing to do with conquest and land speculation.

Why do the schools (and movies and TV) teach it this way? Because if they didn't, they's be blockaded by thousands of half-wits from the NRA calling the teachers liberals or communists or terrorists or whatever word they don't understand that might be in style at the time.

In Canada, schools take the easy way out. For the most part, they don't bother to teach any Canadian history. I mean, if you teach the truth, you'll get flak from parents. Better to skip it. Instead, make the children patriots by forcing them to listen to O Canada every morning, the theory being that if you make their minds numb enough, that's just as good as being patriotic.

The truth, the frightening truth, is that Canada and the US are full of people who think in slogans and myths and buzzwords. And an even worse truth is that this is encouraged by most of the news media.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Jan. 21: The TandT did not appear......

...some sort of trouble with the presses. Alas! It is available on the net.

Big story on C1 about the French invasion of Mali to intervene in a rebellion against the government. There's also, in section A, a picture of a demonstration supporting France. It was held at Moncton City Hall. The demonstration was described as a mass demonstration, though no number is suggested. However, the picture seems to indicate that masses are smaller than they used to be.

There is also no mention of what connection that  might possibly have with France's consular office in Moncton. After all, what do you think such offices are for?

Neither story took more than passing note that there was a military coup in Mali back in March. The army overthrew and arrested the elected president and his ministers. Mali is a military dictatorship. France has sent troops to defend a mililtary dictatorship that had just destroyed a democracy. O-o-o-h. Gotta support that.

And why is France doing this? I mean, it's all very generous and Christian, I'm sure. But why does France give a damn what happens in Mali? Could it have anything to do with the fact that Mali was once a French colony? And, perhaps, that France would like to re-establish its old grip on the country?

And why is Britain all keen on helping France? Could it have anything to do with a British lust for some of their Empire?

But, of course, there is prominent mention that the rebels have Al Quaeda connections. Of course they do. Almost any Moslem country threatened by western intervention is sure to have an Al Quaeda connection. By our constant aggressions of the Moslem world for over a century, we have created an intolerant and violent organization within Islam. It's not unusual. People threatened by foreigners usually turn to some organization that is theirs - and that organization is commonly the religion.

It happened to Quebec after the British conquest. While always nominally Catholic, French Quebeckers did not become ardent Catholics and the chutch did not become powerul until after the conquest. It was the only institution they had left that was French.

In the 1960s, French Catholics realized they now had power in other areas - as politics, business...and the church went into a sharp decline.

The same thing happened in Poland under Soviet control.

The more we threaten Moslem states, the more Moslems willl turn to the mosque, and to a fundamentalist and intolerant Islam, and to organizations like Al Quaeda. The British have just launched a campaign against Al Quaeda in the Sahara region that it says will take decades. I'm sure it will. And at the end of that time, Al Quaeda will be stronger. Thank you, Britain.

A7 has an almost unintelligible story, "Health Minister hints at cutting seven of N.B.'s 22 emergency rooms. There's kiss-kiss element to the story. Much of it is devoted to a leader of some community who disagrees with the closures, but says he is confident the minister is a reasonable man and that everything will be all right.

That's a remarkable reaction to the words of the minister which sound, to say the least, combative, the sort of talk you might hear in a bar after a few drinks too many.  He refers to oppostion as coming from groups who are N.B.s version of the arms race.  Now, I don't really know what that clumsy sentence can possibly mean. How can any group be a version of the arms race? And what is the connection between trying to save emergency rooms and starting an arms race?

It's a sentence that makes no sense. But there's no doubt it' s accusatory and combative. And kidding aside, that really is the sort of sentence you hear after too many drinks. Mr. Flemming isn't looking for a solution. He's looking for a fight.

He adds that he finds it odd that all patients are happy, and that criticism comes from people who are generally healthy. Again that sounds like drunken name-calling - and I wonder how he could possibly know so much about public reaction to a plan announced just days ago.

Finally, he says that the doctors are happy with what he's doing. (But the Medical Society, when asked about this, refused to comment. Gee. What can that mean?)

On the whole, Mr. Flemming, by his own words, comes across as an arrogant lout. And that's the sort that can do real damage in a cabinet position. He's looking for a fight, and he has obviously picked his favourite gutter for it.

C1 has a story on the Liberal leadership debate. The greatest divide appeared to be on the quesion of whether the party should cooperate with the NDP to defeat Harper. Justin Trudeau led the oppostion to that, saying the the NDP is opposed to freer trade, while freer trade is a basic value of the Liberal party. And he is not prepared to give it up.

Justin -freer trade is not a value. It's an economic tactic. That's all it is. It is one of t hose things that used when its useful to business, then cast aside when it's not. And that is not a value.

As well, it is not a "value" of the the Liberal party, anyway. The Liberal party abandoned free trade in 1896 - and accepted it only grudgingly almost a century later.

The real problem is that the Liberal party really doesn't have any values - except getting elected. What it badly needs is a convention to determine what its values are, what principles it stands for.

So far, Justin Trudeau looks good in the polls.  But he's really a lightweight; and this will show up if he wins the leadership, making him easy meat for Harper. In fact, after that first debate, this looks like a whole field of lightweights running for leader of a party that doesn't stand for anything in particular. They really should deal with first things first.

D4 has something I've never seen before in the TandT, a book review. I mean, this is a newspaper that didn't even carry a review of a book it flogged for two Christmases - "The Price of Honesty". Today's review wasn't in a book review column. It was in a parenting column. But it's still nice to see it.

As the TandT is forever complaining, reading levels in NB are lower than they should be. Of course. And it has nothing to do with the schools. It has to do with the parents and the general social atmosphere of NB. A regular column of book reviews - for children and adults could be useful in tackling that problem - but the TandT seems to prefer just to blame the schools, and let it go at that.

Good cartoon by de Adder. It's Theresa Spence facing a Harper who's one of the immovable rock statues on Easter Island.

Alec Bruce uses exam results to argue that NB schools are below the levels of other provinces in the teaching of most subjects. That's an old mistake.

NB is below the level of other provinces not just at the school age level, but throughout the whole society. Reading generally is weak. Intellectual life is low. Public discussion of anything barely exists. Anything in the field of the arts is seen only in money-making terms, with musical entertainment just slightly above the level of a spoon rhythm clicker who sings through his nose.

It's not the schools that are below the level of the rest of Canada. It's us. And, I must say, I have never seen the Moncton Times and Transcript ever attempt to improve things. Indeed, it encourages ignorance and placidity.

Norbert Cunningham has a column on the ethics of computer  hacking. (It's good, but more than a little specialized.) What's intriguing about it is he got the idea from listening to an interview on CBC radio. This is the  second time he's done that in recent weeks.

Now, Norbert is the same man who rants about the sins of the CBC, one of those who would dearly love to get rid of it. But I have never read a column of his in which he says he got an idea from private radio. (Nor could he in this province - or most of the others.) A bit of inconsistency there, Norb?

Craig Babstock writes about a relatively minor and technical issue in court sentencing. This is a must read if you care about relatively minor and technical issues in court sentencing.

And Allen Abel - as usual - pointless.

There's a letter to the editor that gun problems are really caused by media - TV, movies, etc. Right.
No wonder Britain, The Netherlands, Australia, Canada etc. have so few gun deaths. They don't have any media.

There's an excellent letter "Blame City Hall for Transpo woes". We might also blame City Hall for what certainly look like very suspicious land deals involving Moncton High School, and the proposed hockey rink.