Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 18: Credit where credit is due....

Today's Faith Page came as a pleasant surprise. It didn't take on the rich and powerful - as the Pope's letter did. But it did break away from the mindless and pointless bilge that usually appears in the sermonette. It's about sex. (No,  don't go ripping through the pages hoping for pictures or some mention of LGBT sex. It's a lot tamer than that.)

But it does at least go further than the usual and cutesy spiritual pablum we get (God answers knee mail. etc.).

Newtoday, p. D3, has a story from the Associated Press that will (and is intended to) stir the indignation of us right-minded people. It reveals that the Syrian government actually has people in terrible prisons where it tortures them.

Gee. Is that the same Syria the CIA used to rent prison space from so it could carry out torture? Is it the same prison space that the CIA used when Canada handed over at least three, innocent  Canadian citizens for torture? And that our very own CSIS visited to help in the "questioning"? You know, the three Canadians that Harper has refused to compensate.

Oh, those terrible Syrians. Our side would never use torture.

Why would Associated Press run such a story without even a mention of our own record of torture, and our own history of  close association with prisons and torture in Syria? And Poland? And at Guantanamo (where over a hundred inmates, who are being held illegally, are starving themselves to death)? And in Afghanistan? And in the dozen or more other countries where the US maintains torture prisons?

It's called propaganda to stir up indignation and hatred so we can bomb the country which we have already filled with hired thugs and religious fanatics from other countries. We call these hired thugs and religious fanatics "rebels" in defiance of the meaning of the word "rebel".

A good news editor (and even a dopy one) would immediately recognize this as a propaganda story.

Whoever edits foreign news also missed kind of a big story. The Pentagon and Obama have claimed that the president can wage war anywhere in the world WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF CONGRESS.  Well, that leaves a kind of big hole in the US constitution.

(Mind you, Harper has publicly committed Canada to war if Israel goes to war - no matter who starts the war or why. In other words, if Israel starts a war, we are committed to join in on Israel's side. That wipes out a major right our soldiers won in the First World War - that parliament must first agree to any such war.)

The news editor also missed one hell of a big story. The Internal Revenue Service in the US has been making unusually deep studies of the tax records of Obama's political enemies. And the White House has been tapping the private communications of AP reporters. Those are both extremely serious in a democracy - but not serious enough to wake up anybody at the TandT.
Bill Beliveau has an intriguing column on Senator Duffy, and at least a half serious suggestion that Harper could have planned this whole thing. Maybe. But I'm intrigued by another possibility.

Harper knows the rules for Senate. A senator represents a province and, therefore, must be a resident of that province. Is it possible that he appointed senators so casually that he didn't even bother to check where they lived? That hardly seems likely behaviour for a man so obsessed with personal control over everything.

No. I don't think he forgot. I think his behaviour is more in line with another characteristic of his thought. He has utter contempt for democracy and all the rules that go with it. He wanted Duffy in there for his big name and his uses as a campaigner. He just didn't give a damn about the rest.
Norbert is, as usual, handicapped by his prejudices. The takes statistics about poverty, starvation, etc. from the UN - then lashes out at UN officials who say the situation is critical or disappointing. The reason he says so is because UN officials are like civil servants - and Norbert hates civil servants. He feels the whole world would be better if it were run by the Irvings of this world.

(In fact, it is run by the Irvings of this world. That's why it's such a mess.)

He rants that things are fine because there are only a few, minor wars going on. Norbert, there are wars going on you never even heard of - all over the world. The US is currently at war in Afghanistan (officially). Unofficially, it is at war Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. Forecasts from the Pentaton are that the "war on terror" will go on for at least another ten to twenty years. That doesn't count the unofficial CIA wars in Central America and Africa (which don't get reported, anyway).

As well, Norbert, are you aware that war is not just invasion? It also includes other attacks on nations - like computer tampering, spying, embargoes, spy drones, secret aid to revolutionary groups, assassination squads. The US is, in fact, at war with over half the world - and that is expanding. And any of those wars could turn nuclear.

As well, the US is committed to world dominance. There is no other  way for its business world to survive. Think hard, Norbert, there is a commitment to dominance of a world which possesses at least several thousand nuclear missiles. Norbert, it's really not time yet to stand up and clap hands.

And only seven million children under five are dying every year? Wow! Break out the champagne. Know why they're dying Norbert? One reason is that privately owned drug companies insist that their drugs be used - and at full price. Another reason is that the west has been creating poverty and disorder in those countries for centuries.

Meanwhile, in the wealthy US, 128 people die every day for lack of medical care. And almost 3,000 file for bankruptcy every day because of the cost of medical care. Poverty-stricken Cuba has far better health statistics than the rich US does.

He ends with a disgusting quotation. "It doesn't make a lot of sense for us to borrow money from the Chinese to go give to another country for humanitarian aid. We ought to get the Chinese to take care of the people."

a) The US does not borrow money from the Chinese for humanitarian need. It borrows it to finance a corrupt war industry.
b)Much of poverty in the world is actually caused by the US and other western countries which have looted other countries for centuries - and are still doing it.
c) Save that final sentence, though. It would look good on a a plaque in the Irving Chapel.
The student columns in Whatever section are always interesting - but particularly so this week. I hate to name any in particular because that suggests the others were weak - and they weren't weak at all. However.....

I was particularly struck by a column by Sabrina Stace of Harrison Trimble because she hits on a characteristic of high schools and universities - the excessive attention to sports. It suggests a certain immaturity on the part of us adults who seem to want it that way. This is the province that can afford a very expensive artifical field for football, but can't afford books for its libraries.

Mike Elliott, also of Harrison Trimble contributes a poem - with some considerable maturity and intelligence in its insights.

For news on fracking that you won't find in the Irving Press, a reader sent in the list below.
Fracking vs. Health forum, 2 hors, 37 minutes
Recorded April 27, 2013, Elmira, New York
Bringing together workers, physician, attorney from Penn re gagging doctors

Intro - 2 minutes -

Part 2 - Rick "Mac" Sawyer  19 minutes - worker

part 3 Joe Giovanni 12 minutes - Environmental Refugee

part 4 Robert Lee McCaslin 7 minutes Worker, master driller

Part 5 Dr. Larysa Dyrszka 38 minutes

Part 6 Laren Williams Esq 20 minutes Attorney re Act 13 gagging medical doctors,

Part 7 Jonathon Deal, Karoo Action Group,  South Africa, winner of major environmental award,  12 minutes

Part 8 Q and A 40 minutes

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