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.


  1. A liberal Muslim from Bangladesh, whose piece I just happened to notice, does not agree with your reason for the explosion of extreme Islam in the world. You can read him here,

  2. I've just read the article your suggested. I don't see any disagreement between me and the author. In fact, were not quite talking about the same thing.

    He contrasts 'extreme' Islam with other forms. He tells about the use of propaganda by such nations as Saudi Arabia. He tells what the extremists are saying.

    I wasn't talking about that. I don't know nearly enough about Islam to talk about that subject.

    I was talking about why so many Moslems are listening. The basic ideas of 'extreme' Islam go back centuries. Some go back long before there was an Islam. So why have they suddenly spread so rapidly? He doesn't discuss that.

    The ideas of 'extreme' Catholicism go back well over a thousand years. Okay. But they burst with enormous speed and energy in post-conquest Quebec and in Poland after the Russian invasion.

    No doubt there were clergy who were promoting the shift. But that leaves us with the question of why so many people so suddenly began to listen.