Monday, September 30, 2013

Sept. 30: no news but - oh - what a blooper.....

I'll save the blooper for the end. It's a real collector's item.

The only international news story is one from Kenya, "Last body in morgue identified after mall attack."  Now, here's a story which has appeared daily for over a week. But what's the point of it? I can see tomorrow's big story, not. "Morgue given day off. There are actually  bigger stories out there.

Iraq is now into a virtual civil war. At the cost of over a trillion dollars and more than a million and a half lives, the US and Britain have produced a destitute country of suffering and hatreds and daily slaughters. We certainly had lots of stories about the brilliance of the American and British victory, and how we hanged that terrible Saddam Hussien (who didn't kill a million and a  half people). But there's not a word about how the great victory has turned out to be a colossal defeat.

Nor is there a word about Tony Blair, the major British architect of that war. Tony, like many a premier of New Brunswick, has done well out of his devoted political service to the people of Britain. Have you been looking for a new car at about $50 every two weeks? Well, Tony has bigger needs.

He just bought - out of his own piggy bank - a private jet for thirty million dollars. Gee. For a man on a P.M.'s pay, he must have brown-bagged it for lunch for many, many years. (I wonder if a thirty million dollar jet comes with a full tank of gas.)

There's nothing on Israel, though it is loudly demanding an invasion of Iran...NOW, if not sooner. And that's an invasion that would almost invite a world-wide nuclear war.

Running through many of the stories is the theme that we have to cut spending. Yessiree. It's all them poor people and their employment insurance and their medicare and ---well, that's what caused the recession.

That's why we don't have any stories about the rich paying anywhere from low to zero income taxes and getting handouts. Nope. Cuts have to be made. 90% of the people of the western world are getting off scot free while a tiny number of the rich have to work their fingers to the bone.

But don't worry, the rich are getting more rich comparied to the rest of us than at any time in the last ninety years. And you know what? That means we'll all soon get rich because rich people create wealth for everybody. Yes, they do. Why, thoughout Central America, people have been under free capitalism for over a cenutry and, sure, the rich have made a lot of money from it. But so have the poor. Why, in Haiti, they can pull down almost five dollars a week.

That's why you'll notice every summer the hordes of Haitians and Guatemalans touring NB in the summer, and throwing their money to the winds.

That's why Asian women can get great jobs in factories where some (no doubt by their own fault) burn to death. That's how prosperity has come to Congo and Iraq and Libya.

Why, even as we sit here, the rich are creating ever more wealth for us.

Well,a ctually, the rich don't create wealth. They absorb it like the thirstiest sponge  you ever saw. And there's none for the rest of us, and never will be because the thirst of the sponges is never relieved.

The wealth is created by workers who get five dollars a day, who get burned to death in flimsy factories, and who get shot by CIA thugs if they complain.

Yes, there is a place for big business. But that place is not in controlling government. Such control is something in which big business offers only incompetence and, eventually, the destruction of the whole economic and social system - including itself.

Sorry to ramble on. But there's almost no news in this paper to talk about. Well, maybe one thing.

It's not a news story, really. It's Alec Bruce's column. The story is that Harper is one of the few leaders in the world who is dragging his feet on a UN movement to sign a treaty regulating the weapons export business. Even the gun-happy US has signed. But, in a world bursting with weaponry, Harper says he fears this might limit the rights of legitimate gun-owners in Canada.

That's bizarre. Obama signed. And even the National Rifle Association hasn't found that alarming. There is no threat to private gun ownership. But, of course,Harper is not telling us the whole truth about why he isn't signing.

On a per capita basis, Canada is the one of the largest exporters of weapons in the world. Yes, it is.  On a per capita basis we're ahead of the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia, China - and way ahead of even the US.

Most prime ministers of Canada have been very, very polite to big business. Harper goes beyond polite. He is servile to big business. The contributions of big business (and their newspapers) are what keep him in office. For all his talk of principles and ideology, he has little of either. It all reduces to two factors.
1. He wants power.
2. Big business will keep him in power.

Like Alec Bruce, Steve Malloy writers a consistently intelligent column. This time, he exposes a false story that Target stores have forbidden veterans to sell poppies on their premises; and he does a good job of pointing out that the gossip on this subject is not true. Target has no such policy, and never did have it. My little quarrel with this column is a statement that Canadians were infuriated by this false rumour because Canadians will do anything for their military.

Not true,

It was just yesterday that Harper announced severe cuts in benefits for disabled veterans, cuts that become so severe that payments drop far below the poverty level  at retirement age and which, with the death of the veteran, leave nothing at all for the partner.

It is hard to imagine anything more callous - except, of course, sending them to war in the first place for a war that was none of our business and - even as he sent them - a losing war.  ( Indeed, there are still Canadians in Afghanistam. Funny how we never hear about them.)

This is the same Harper who had no trouble finding 30 million for that half-witted celebration of the War of 1812, no trouble finding the money for overpriced contracts for military planes and for ice-breakers.

But now he picks on the easy target of disabled veterans.


And Canadians? Will they get upset? Not so far. They'll turn out to wave the flag on Nov. 11, and to listen to untrue speeches. They'll patriotically support sending people to kill or be killed even when the war is none of our business. They'll pay for elaborate funerals for the return home of the bodies of the dead. (After all, funerals for the dead are cheaper than looking after the disabled.)

And perhaps they'll cheer when Harper reads the words...
"If ye break faith with those us who die, we shall not sleep
Though poppies grow in Flanders' fields."


There is still not a word in the Irving papers about the investigation of Professor Lapierre that has been ordered by the federal transport board. But, then, the Irving papers haven't said much in the last few weeks about Professor Lapierre at all. Today's TandT has as much on the Tattoo Expo today as it's had on Lapierre since the start of t his scandal.

And then there's the blooper.

Norbert's column is largely his normal, cranky,annoying, uninformed and boring grandpa bit. But...

Well, in part of it, he suggests that the provinces could take over regulating rail shipments, and warning towns and cities on the route of dangerous cargoes coming their way. That way, community police and fire departments could be prepared not only of the dangers of accident - but could plan exactly how to handle the accident with the right equipment according to the nature of the threat it poses. This, obviously, is his response to the Lac Megantic disaster.

1. Norbert, that is already the law. It's administered by the Transport Safety Board. But it didn't work at Lac Megantic.

2. It didn't work because, we are told, Irving Oil gave the board a misleading (to put it kindly) statement of what its dangerous cargo was. That meant Lac Megantic prepared itself for a much lesser danger than it really faced.

3. In other words, Norbert, you have linked the Irving name to the Lac Megantic disaster. I don't think that's wise, Norbert.

 In fact, it reminded me of Mr. Irving's blunder of writing a letter to the editor about what great buddies he and Professor Lapierre are.

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