Thursday, January 17, 2013

Jan.17: What the hell is in Bill C-45?

Today, has a front page story about an Idle-No-More protest by New Brunswick native peoples in Miramichi. - and it still doesn't tell us what it's about. There's nothing about conditions in reserve life, nothing about Harper's wish to sell off national resources as quickly as possible whatever the damage to environment and to people. There's nothing about a century and more of broken agreements There are pictures. There are a couple of questions - though none that made any real attempt to report on the cause of all this.

Here is a movement that has spread across North America and all the way to New Zealand. And most of our news media are not saying why.

What we do get is a distasteful letter to the editor "Time to Occupy Attawapiskat?" It's essentially personal innuendo and personal attacks delivered to Chief Theresa Spence. It bears close resemblances to the trash that appeared yesterday. It carries the same leaks from a cooperative Stephen Harper, and much of the same wording.

It has the mandatory attack on CBC for trying to tell a fuller story. And it is wildly illogical. We are expected to believe that the only problem is in Attawapiskat, and the whole problem caused by Chief Spence. This is an ignorant and illogical letter - but it may be more than just that.

This is the third letter in two days to use pretty much the same approach to discussing Idle No More. It is rumour, government leaks, and language calculated to ignore the general problem while focussing on personal attacks on Spence. They're also worded to generate an attitude of contempt and hatred- almost racism.

I smell a communications company, one of those propaganda firms hired to get your message out. These letters look like part of a coordinated campaign. When you see a company that's called 'something' communications, think Dr. Goebbels.

This is really contemptible.
The story is taken up again in section C, p. 1. This one, from Canadian Press, gets a little closer to the main point. Harper absolutely refuses to drop his legislation that would make most of Canada a free toilet for polluters like oil and mining companies. (duh... yeah...duh...but it might provide jobs...duh... And so it will. But not for you. So far, one of his agreements will allow a Chinese mining company to bring in its own labour from China  It also forbids Canada to enact any new environment legislation, even if the mining operation generates dangerous levels of pollution that will harm generations to come ...duh...but it might provide jobs....duh...)

The editorial, on mass transit in the city, is the usual mixture of ignorance, shaving foam and bubble gum. Moncton is going to have to think a lot more and a lot more imaginatively about the transit system and the plan for the city's future (if it has one) - or we face one gem of a problem within a decade or less.
Norbert, alas, has returned to his old habit of talking about two, quite separate topics in one column - with the result that neither gets properly developed. It gets particularly weak in its second topic on a subject he knows little about - education.
He says that some school dropouts recover because they are really quite clever, and develop later on out of personal drive and ambition. That's simplistic.

The majority of dropouts come from poor families. Many of them are intelligent enough for advanced study. But few reach it because they have grown up in a culture that doesn't prize education or see it as a normal objective in life. Some, though not many, get lucky and move into social circles that open up a new world to them. That's not personal drive and ambition. That's luck.

Very few high school dropouts come from middle class families, and almost none from rich families. That's because they grow up in families in which higher education is part of normal life, and because they are surrounded by intellectual stimuli. I've seen this duplicated even in some very poor families whose culture includes high respect for education - notably among Jews and Orientals I have taught.

Rich kids have no problem. If they're slow, they get private instruction. Intelligence among the rich is not as high as one might expect - not nearly. But they finish high school and, usually, some university - if not much.

A blistering column from Alec Bruce is well worth a read.

Rod Allen on op ed is Rod Allen. He is obviously convinced he has a great wit. I expect he does-for special people. I have never know him to write on a serious topic or to have any insight to offer on anything. I guess that's how he became an editor for a newspaper whose purpose is to keep us in ignorance. He does a good job of that.

Jody Dallaire is a breath of intelligence, research, insight and and good writing. She'll never be an editor in the Irving press.

Gwynne Dyer is good on the fighting in Mali, though he never makes it clear why France, Britain, Canada, the US, etc. are so eager to step in. He does make one interesting point, though. Much of the financing for Moslem Jihadists in Mali and in Syria is coming from our good friends, the kingdom (dictatorship) of Saudi Arabia, and the Emirates (dictatorships). Why are they financing jihadists? Too keep them out of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. Sounds like a dangerous game - as well as a murderous one.
Oh - there is a quite disgusting interview with minister of Health Ted Flemming. This is the minister of Health who who says shale gas development is perfectly safe so long as it's properly done. There are just a couple of problems with that.
1. Nobody knows exactly what properly done means. There hasn't been nearly enough research yet.
2. He has publicly contradicted his own chief health officer - who is a doctor and who, I suspect, knows a good deal more about health than Mr. Flemming does.
Well... and three...this man, whose vague statements indicate that he has no idea what he's talking about has the nerve (slime) to attack his critics for being "transparently political and opportunistic".

Of course, the critics are political. This is a political issue. How else can it be dealt with except politically? Mr. Flemming uses political as it were a dirty word - which, understandably, is probably his own view of politics, a view well reflected in his behaviour.

And "opportunistic"? Does Mr. Flemming know what that word means? Is it bad to take opportunities? And what exactly is the sort of opportunism Mr. Flemming is referring to? All this so far is name-calling by a man who doesn't know what the names mean.

He ends with, "I feel it is irresponsible as a member of government not to explore this at least to the point of viability."

Quite so. And that is precisely what this twit has refused to do. He's not exploring it. He has made up his mind. (Or, more accurately probably, the shale gas developers told him he had made up his mind. It wouldn't take long. It's obviously a small mind to make up.)

Oh - and at such a news conference, the editors are supposed to ask questions like, "Mr. Minister, if shale drilling is perfectly safe, why did the province's chief call for more research? If its perfectly safe, how come there have been so many court cases, so much devaluation of property? How come so many scientists say it isn't safe? How can we know its safe when the companies won't even tell us what chemicals they are pumping into the ground? Can you see around corners, Mr. Minister?"

Or are you just lying?

words, words....

I meant to start on police surveillance of protestors, commonly called 'radicals' and 'extremists' in our press. But I realized that first have to get our heads around those words. What is a radical? What is an extremist?

Well, radical does not mean left wing, or terrorist, or rabble-rouser - though it is commonly used that way.  Radical refers to going to the root of a problem - which surely is a sensible thing to do. If you have a flat tire, you don't replace your windshield; you go to the root of the problem, the tire.

An extremist, obvously, refers to someone to goes to unnecessary and often foolish extremes in behaviour- like replacing the flat tire with one made of  cast iron.

The Occupy Movement, the environmental movement, and Idle No More are, in the best sense, radical. They are trying to get at the root of the  problem. And surely that is something that is to be praised rather than criticized.

Are they extreme? Surely not. Extreme would mean going farther than necessary is solving the problem - and since the government hasn't budged in its position, obviously they have not gone far enough. And that, by the way, is not the decision of those groups. The decision for extremism is made by governments who refuse to give any attention to the issue raises by protestors.

Extremist movements are pretty rare. And when they do happen, they are almost always movements of the rich and powerful.

The most extreme movement in New Brunswick history occurred a few years ago. It attracted little attention. There were no demonstrations. But it destroyed democracy in this province - and I think that's pretty extreme.

First, Mr. Irving announced he was in coalition with the government (an illegal act). Then he called a conference of flunkys who would plan the economic future of New Brunswick. That's not illegal - but it's pretty damned arrogant in a democracy for an unelected group to claim the right to plan our economic future.

Then it was announced that they would form an official committee to advise the Minister of Finance on economic matters (and the Minister was an ex-Irving executive already). That is probably the most extreme public move to destroy democracy in the history of this country. (though Harper has made some quiet ones that could take the prize.)

Oh, I should add that Mr. Irving and his flunkys had no authority or even ability to plan the economic future of a province. Such a plan requires considerable expertise in social decisions and objectives as well as in plans that do not just give away the farm to big business. They have taken on a role that is neither their right nor there business nor anywhere within their competence. And we will all pay the price for it.

Did you hear anything about police surveillance of Mr. Irving and his friends? Any newspaper rants about radicalism and extremism? Any letters to the editor accusing Mr. Irving and his gang of improper behaviour?

Leading US bankers destroyed millions of American and the western economies through illegal handling of funds. It was the greatest damage done to the US homeland ever. But I never saw the words radical or extreme. There was no prosecution, not even any questioning. Instead, they got hundreds of billions of dollars that American taxpayers will never be able to pay back, and that many millions will suffer for the rest of their lives - as will their children and their children's children.

Who did the police and the new media pick on to blame for it all? Who did they call "radicals" and "extremists"? Well, they picked on the victims, of course, those who had been robbed and cheated, and who protested against being robbed and cheated - the Occupy Movement.

In the same way, there is no police surveillance of the extremist behaviour of Stephen Harper for his neglectful (and possibly illegal) treatment of native peoples and his wholesale destruction of environmental protection and his failure to pursue the questions of robocalls (a pretty serious attack on democracy) and the graft of Brian Mulroney. Instead, they are keeping an eye on the victims of extremism - native peoples, those who care about the environment.......

Do the American spy agencies keep an eye on the National Rifle Association? I bet they don't, even though this is an organization which openly says it needs its weapons for an attack on the American government and its armed forces.  But I bet they do have spies watching those dangerous people who protest against the NRA.

We have been brainwashed into unthinking uses of the words radical, extremist, terrorist. 3,000 innocent Americans get murdered on 9/11. That's terrorist. Americans murder 300,000 civilians, whole families, in Guatemala. That doesn't even make the news.

Obama invades any country he feels like invading, often by using drones and killing thousands of innocent people, and usually does it without even declaring war. I dunno. But that sounds kind of extreme. But I've never heard that word applied to it. An embargo is an act of war. There is a severe embargo on Iran, and has been one on Cuba for over fifty years. Both are illegal acts of war. Ever hear those called extreme?

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at how this affects police and public thinking.

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