Monday, July 1, 2013

Juuly 1: awful, awful, awful....

A sample of awfulness is the big international news, "Syrian fighting has cost billions". Gee! I thought it was being paid for by trading baseball cards.

The big, front-page story, so important is was written by Craig Babstock himself, is "RCMP vehicle fleet evolves". Yessir. Occasionally, the RCMP cars, like other cars, have to be traded in. I needed to know that.

The biggest New Brunswick story  ( and it is the biggest no matter which side you're on) is about the anti-shale gas demonstration. But it's hidden in a corner of page 2. Worse, it's a story the TandT got from The Canadian Press.

Why is that worse? The fact that the only story on the demonstration comes from The Canadian Press means that the whole of our own Irving press could not spare a single reporter to cover it. There were people to spare to cover the RCMP trading in its cars, enough  for "Young and old celebrate in Alma". "Metro couple devotes their lives to prayer". and "Metro offers Canada Day fun".

There was even a hotshot reporter to cover "Ice cream contest a success". But for a demo concerning what may well be the crucial issue to decide our futures? Yawn... They gave almost as much space to an ad for a smirking Robert Goguen (our member of parliament whose office by the way, faces a  patch of weeds called Harper Street.) New Brunswick also boasts a Harper Settlement out toward Peticodiac, and a Harper Heights near Port Elgin. But Harper never mentions his NB roots - probably because he's shy.

The biggest news story all over the world is about the rage at the discovery that the US has been tapping the phones, the computers, the credit cards. everything about everybody including the U.S.' closest allies. So has Britain. It includes not only ordinary citizens, but even diplomats who are supposed to be immune to that sort of thing. It also, of course, has billions of pages of files on its own citizens.

Some of the files, of course, concern suspected terrorists. But most concern quite ordinary citizens that the American government considers dangerous because - well - they are pro-environment, they belong to unions, they have been known to criticize the government, - and they're just there.

Even governments that are the closest allies of the US (as, for example, just about all of western Europe) are on the list. United Nations offices all over the world are on the list. NATO members are on the list. And when Mr. Harper assures us that Canada is not on the list, Mr. Harper is almost certainly lying. For that matter, Mr. Harper also has his own list which has CSIS and the RCMP looking at you.

Why is this happening? If you live in New Brunswick, you should know why by instinct.

The most striking thinga about New Brunswick is the fear of ever, ever in public expressing an opinion on anything that might annoy the corporations that run this province. Do that, and you can find yourself out of a job. Everybody knows that; and I have seen the impact of it right down to home and school.

Oh, you can criticize the conservatives - but only if you make it clear you favour the liberals (or the other way around).. Both parties are really the same, and both are tame dogs for the corporation world. But that's it. Ya gotta be either a liberal or a conservative.  Moncton is the only city I have known in which a city councillor spoke of resigning our of fear that taking an honest stand on council would mean he would never get a job in this city.

The importance of the massive US spying operation is that knowledge is power. You don't have to be guilty of anything - just as you don't have to guilty of anything in New Brunswick to run afoul of the big people. Information means control.

That's why collection of such information is illegal in a  truly democratic society. That's why it is illegal under international law. That's why it is forbidden in the American constitution.

But, after Bush and Obama, the American constitution lies in tatters. The same is true in Britain. And only a damn fool could believe Harper's denials that it is happening here. And the rage in Europe has the makings of creating a crisis in an already shaky environment.

But, in the Irving Press, it's just another doh-dee-doh day. Almost uniquely in the whole world, the TandT does not have a word about it. In faitness, though, it did cover the biggest story of the day - "Red Sox have gone from last to first in American League East."
The editorial is a zero which, admittedly, is better than usual.

Good column by Alec Bruce.

Norbert tackles yet another topic he knows nothing about. He attacks nationalism (and a case can be made for that) But he doesn't know there's a difference between nationalism and patriotism. Nor is he clear on the meaning of either.

Then he drags out nationalism as a cause of wars and hatreds which, he says, makes nationalism even worse that religion in this respect. He says history proves it. In fact, history proves no such thing. Both nationalism and religion have been TWISTED to cause hatreds and wars - in much the same way that the TandT twists the truth to sell shale gas and a new hockey rink. But the truth, itself, does not cause wars any more than religion and nationalism do.

Then he quotes a professor (undoubtedly an expert) for "proving" that we live in the most peaceful world in history - and he proves it is all due to democracy, capitalism, and technology. The professor, Stephen Pinker, is a type of professor who is all too common - one whose createst concern is becoming famous by saying spectacular things.

Norbert, not everything said by professors is fact. Not everything they say is logical. Trust me on that. I'm a professor.

In the case of Pinker, this world is on the edge of two crises that could kill everybody - climate change and nuclear war. Either of them would have to happen only once. How's that for peace?

Democracy has caused peace?
a) Democratic countries like Britain, France, and the US have been the great aggressors all over the world for the last 400 years.
b) Democracy is in crashing decline. American domestic spying is a sign of that. The political atmosphere in New Brunwick is a sign of that. The lying and misrepresentation of the Irving press is a sign of that. The appointment of Mr. Irvings unelected puppets to be advisors to the minister of Finance is a sign of that. The interference of the Irvings in public education, civil service structure, health care and Moncton city government is a sign of that. American "democracy" like New Brunswick "democracy" consists essentially of two, almost identical parties, both supported and controlled by very big money - backed up by a prostitute press.

b) Capitalism brings peace? So how come capitalism is what led Britain to conquer and exploit the biggest empire in history? How come capitalism led the US over the years to invade or threaten every country in Latin America, to steal a third of Mexico, to establish dictatorships and destroy democracy.
Norbert, what do you think the invasion of Iraq was all about? What do you think the destruction of native peoples in the America's was all about? What the hell do you think world wars one and two were about?
c) Yeah, technology has been a great force for peace. You know, like the bombers that killed half a million helpless civilians in Cambodia, the napalm and herbicides and machine guns and bombs that killed well over two million in Viettnam. Like the nuclear weapons which are now out of control  (though that's subject for another blog).

d) capitalism and technology have worked together to create the biggest war industry in history - the US military-industrial complex - to which we can now attach the Canadian military-industrial complex.

Nationalism and patriotism can work to hold people together in cooperation and mutual help. To introduce health care was a product sentiments of nationalism and patriotism, to work for the common good. The same can be said of public education.

Not by coincidence, big business has been launching attacks to get control of public education, health care, and the civil service. Nationalism and patriotism are now a nuisance that corporations can ignore now that they have free trade.

Oh, yeah - Norbert says that nations that trade seldom make war with each other. In 1914, Belgium was a major banking centre with a heavy trade with Germany. It was also Germany's first target. Almost all trade from Guatemala is with the US. But the US sponsored a gang of mercenaries to invade Guatemala in the 1950s, and overthrow the government to replace it with a dictatorship. It later intervened again to murder a quarter million Guatemala natives.

Before and after World War Two, Iran traded heavily, mostly oil, with Britain, Franch and the US. That did not prevent Britain, France and the US from overthrowing democracy in Iran, and installing a dictator.

The American colonies, incidentally, had Britain as their biggest trading partner. They still fought a revolution against Britain. Then, in 1812, with Britain still their largest trading partner, they declared war on Britain. (Remember that Norbert? We'll been "celebrating" it for a  year.)

Africa is climbing out of Third World status? Take a pill, Norbert, and lie down. Africa is in a chaos that can only get worse, much worse. This is an appallingly ignorant and illogical column.

Finally, Norbert does not mention the cases of Asange, Private Manning, or Edward Snowden. All released information showing that the US was was acting in ways that were unconstitutional, internaionally illegal, and anti-democratic. None of them got money or did it for that reason. Assange will spend his life in hiding. Private Manning suffered  three years of solitary and torture. He is not being tried by a rigged court, and will get at least life in prison, probably in solitary. Snowden, like Assange, faces a life in hiding. Both are likely to be assassinated.

Their crime? They revealed that the American government behaved illegally, unconstitutionaly, and murderously on a huge scale. Those three are  defenders of democracy. That's why they have to be tortured and killed.  Funny that Norbert did not mention them - and that the TandT has studiously avoided their cases which have been prominent in real newspapers all over the world for years.
Craig Babstock writes yet another triva column which, if it has a point, hides it well.

Steve Malloy's is on the light side, too. I can forgive him because it's an enjoyble read, and it reminded me of my childhood fascination with pro wrestling. Ah, the days when we would do drop-kicks on littler kids...

My uncle, a small man who was very big in Canadian boxing circles and coached a couple of Canadian Olympic teams, one refereed a pro wrestling match between two, enormous hulks. At one point, he stepped between them to push them apart. The two hulks wrapped arms around each other, and squeezed Uncle Al between them. It was great.

Tomorrow, Tuesday at 7 p.m., we meet for current events at the Moncton Library. Still not quite sure of a topic. It might, partly, be about the most terrifying book I have ever read.


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