Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 30: What coincidences!

Page 8. "Mnister extends olive branch". Sort of.

Health Minister Flemming's olive branch is that he says he is willing to discuss budget cuts with the Medical Sociey. He will meet with them. But he won't change his mind on anything. Wow!

Obviously, Mr Flemming is hazy on the difference between an olive branch and a cactus stub.

The coincidence. Page 1 has "how does N.B. pay doctors?". The article is unreadable because, among other things, it gives no sense of a doctor's expenses. Anyway, the TandT knows that few readers will plow through line after line of numbers. But the general, if unstated, message is clear. N.B. doctors make too much.

The other coincidence. The editorial, "Seek co-operation, not confrontation", is so worded that it suggests the editorialist did not know of Fleming's "olive branch". That is scarcely likely - even in a paper as sloppily run as the TandT.

So what's it all about?

Somebody with muscle told Flemming to look as though he is being reasonable while, at the same time, keeping a hard line. The editorial reinforces that, while its omission of Flemming's statement gives the impression that he is the magnanimous one here, acting out of his own good will. The front page story on doctors' pay is a subtle suggeston that us honest folks gotta watch them there doctors.

By the way, will we soon be getting some big stories on the salaries, perqs and bonusses handed out to corporate execs and board members? After all, that money doesn't come from a good fairy. That, like doctors' salaries is, our money, the money that we pay for what we buy from Irving, etc.

I note, for example, that the CEO of Rona Inc. who ran up losses for all his six years as CEO resigned - and was given a bonus of 4.5 million dollars. So he won't need to go to all the trouble of applying for EI. How much do you think you would get if you fired for six years of failures?

If you can see anything else worth reading in Section A, bless you for having insights that I lack. The purpose of the TandT is to make you think about some things the way it wants you to think. But, mostly, it doesn't want you to think at all.

Oh, yeah. The headline is "Tax hike will hit some families hard". So it will. Expect to see Irvings, McCains and CEOs standing outside Harvest House in the rain.

In NewsToday, notice the wording under the headline "North Korea leader issues threat". His words are described as "bellicose rhetoric". The US has used such language and has attacked countries many, many times. I have never seen a president's words referred to as bellicose rhetoric. Even USAF general Curtis Lemay who promised to bomb a defenceless Cambodia back into the stone age - and who did it, murdering at least a half million innocent people in the process - was never described as bellicose.

The North Korean leader is also quoted as calling the US "imperialist". conjuring up images of the rhetoric of the old days of communism.

Those are the games journalists play with words, picking ones that create unthinking images to make the "other side" look bad. But think about it.

Is the US "imperialist"? Of course it is. Check a dictionary. The US has overthrown governments in many a country, including democracies, to install puppet dictators. It maintains troops in some 700 or more bases all over the world in order to exercise economic dominance over other countries. That's what's called an empire. And countries that have empires are called imperialist.

As for "bellicose rhetoric", what would you call the US comments on Iran, on the government of Syria, on the government of Libya before they attacked it, on Iraq when Bush and Blair lied about it having WMDs?

And what would Obama say if North Korea were to carry out war games with Mexico to simulate an attack on the US?

I have no great admiration for Kim Jong Un. But his reactions and his statements seem very much like those one might expect of any US president going all the way back to George Washington. So why does the press write as if Kim is crazy and Obama is sane? That's because our press doesn't publish news. It publishes propaganda.
Good cartoon by de Adder.

Belliveau is good on criticizing both the NB Conservative government and the federal Conservative government for their budgets. Belliveau is always good on criticizing Conservatives. Alas, his own suggestion for balancing the budgets is even worse than theirs.

Neither budget, by the way, does anything about the growing gap - and a very dangerous one - between rich an poor in our society. Well, not just between rich and poor, but between very, very rich and everybody else. It is not possible to have any equality or democracy in such a society. That gap is already breaking down some countries in Europe. And our gap is worse.By one recent measurement, if the salary increases of 90% of the population over the last 40 years were represented by a line a foot long. Increases for the top .01% in that same period would be five kilometres long.

That's why we don't have democracy or equality or any sort. If we did, we would not have a billionaire announcing he was in coalition with the government, and pushing his puppets into the Finance offices as official budget advisors. This is what causes social breakdown and violence.

Norbert begins his column well with the argument that politicians are often not competent to be political leaders. (He might have added that businessmen who stick their noses into politics are even worse - but Norbert would never say that.)  Still, it's a good start. Then he wastes that insight by looking at just one issue, presumably the greatest challenge facing our society, illegal cigarettes.

On the op ed page, Brent Mazerolle has the first real opinion column I have seen him produce. And it's a superb one - well thought out, well written, and a stimulant for thinking readers. The kid can do it.

Then there's the Faith Page. This time, it's not as dozy as usual because there's an interesting news story, "The strange victory by liberal religion"'  I don't quite know what to think of it - but it's worth reading to stimulate thought.

I wish I could say the same for the sermonette. This is one, as usual, has everything to do with looking at the sky, and ignoring the world around us - the one that Jesus talked about.

As well, all of the sermonettes appear to be written by fundamentalist clergy. Where are the other churches? I have nothing against fundamentalists; but there is a wide range of religious thought that they do not represent - not to mention the need for us to understand something of other faiths as well as Christian ones.

What didn't make the news? Well, the US government admits that 36 Guantanamo prisoners are on a hunger strike. The number is almost certainly much higher. They have been held for ten years or more with no charge or trial, and no reason to expect there ever will be charges or trial. This is illegal under international law. But who gives a damn about the law? The prisoners are on hunger strike because they know they will be in cages for the rest of their lives. It's better to die.  Deaths are expect to begin soon.

Perhaps that will lead to another round of dancing in the streets of American cities. (Any Faith Page thoughts about that spectacle when bin Laden was killed?)

Stephen Harper has refused to attend a conference in Africa to deal with the growing problem of drought as a result of climate change. Harper has refused to attend on the grounds it is all too bureaucratic.

Canada is the only country IN THE WORLD to refuse to attend. Aren't we lucky to have a leader with more insight than any other leader in the world?

Actually, the reason Harper refused is that he does not want to recognize climate change. In fact, he wants nothing to do with the environment. That's why he has destroyed most environmental legislation and research. That's why he has the police and CSIS spying on environmentalists as "terrorists".

He wants to develop the oil sands, shale gas, explore the Arctic for oil, exploit every mineral that can be sold, He thinks only of the short term, and only of money. Much of the oil he hopes to sell to China - which will mean one hell of a boost to greenhouse gasses.  And our children are going to pay one hell of a price because of Stephen Harper.

But, duh, maybe we can get some jobs out of it.

Think we can't afford medicare? Well, according to UN figures, Cuba, one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, can afford what the UN rates as an excellent medicare system. And, in maintaining health as well as in providing for immediate needs, it ranks miles ahead of the US (where medical costs are the leading cause of bankruptcy for seniors).

Not only that. Cuba offers medical aid in the form of thousands of doctors who serve in needy countries all over the world. In fact, Cuba provides more doctors to underdeveloped countries than all the wealthiest countries (the G8) combined.

Oh, I know. Cubans are all evil and dirty. Still, those are the numbers.

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