Sunday, October 20, 2013

Oct. 20: just a few thoughts on a Sunday...

I'm still bothered by a statement that appeared in the TandT two days ago, the day Rexton made world news. It referred to certain, heavily-armed people there as para-militaries.

Now, it is a safe bet that most people don't know what a para-military is, and a safer bet that nobody knows what the TandT means by a paramilitary. Will the TandT please tells us what a para-military is in its definition? Does it mean hired mercenaries? Does it mean SWN security? Does it refer to a special branch of the RCMP? It's important to know because all of the above definitions raise serious problems.

(There's also something comic about men wearing macho camouflage outfits. The idea of camouflage is to help you to blend into the background. But the colours of these outfits actually make them stand out.)

If it means hired mercenaries, this is one hell of a radical departure for Canadian policing. If those men had used their weapons, there would have been a mass slaughter at Rexton, and a quite indiscriminate one. So, if they were hired mercenaries, what special training did they have to act with restraint and judgement?

And what was the point of arming them with what appear to be military semi-automatics? Wasn't that more than a little over the top for the situation?

If they were mercenaries, should we be hiring such people at all?

Were they security guards for SWN? If so, what the hell were they doing taking part in a police operation? We have police to control public disorder, not to take sides in it. And who on earth gave anybody the right to arm security guards with such heavy weaponry?

Were they from a special branch of the RCMP? If so, who's bright idea was it to turn the RCMP back to its nineteenth century origins as a military force. The role of police is to enforce the law, not to conquer. And you are still left with the awkward question of why they were so heavily armed.

Oh, I know. I know. Mr. Alward says the native peoples were an armed camp, and the police issued a general description of their weaponry. But there are two problems with that. One is that the police could not have known about the weaponry since it was not discovered until after they advanced.

The other problem is the general statement that they had guns and blades and bombs.

What kind of guns? How many? It makes a difference. Two guns is bad - but short of an "armed camp".  Blades could mean anything. I don't know how many times I 've had to turn over to airport security guards my fingernail clippers.

It's the job of a reporter get specific information, and not just to accept vague statements. It's the job a reporter to know the meanings of words like "para-militaries", and to make those meanings clear to readers.

If those were really para-militaries at Rexton, then that is one hell of a dangerous development in Canadian law enforcement. I wold expect it to happen in a police state like the US, but not here.

On a lighter note is the story that Saudi Arabia has refused to accept a seat on the UN security council because, it says, the UN is useless in defending human rights. It gives as an example the failure of the UN to intervene in Syria on the side of the rebels in that country's civil war.

It also is a good example of why the news doesn't really tell the news.

Rule no. 1 of understanding world affairs - no country gives a damn about anybody else's human rights. If a country goes to war on the excuse that it is defending human rights, it's lying to cover its real reason - which is usually plunder.

Remember how we got sucked into sending "peacekeeprs" to Haiti?  Far from protecting human rights of Haitians, we were there to destroy them. The elected President of Haiti was arrested and exiled because he was doing terrible things like building schools and hospials, and trying to raise wages above the normal five dollars a day - and taxing honest billionaires who owned factories in Haiti.

But our peacekeepers fixed that. Now, Haitians get less than five dollars a day, tens of thousands still live under canvas while more live in some of the world's worst slums. And there's no more silly talk about sending children to school. No. Let the little bastards work at pennies a day. And taxes on billionaires? Forget it.

When we read news, we get an account of what has happened. But it very seldom tells us why it happened. Often, it can't - because news has to be fact, and the why part is often opinion. That's why a good newspaper has opinion columns written by knowledgeable people. --while the TandT sin opinion columns with stories about how the writer had a doggie woggie when he was a little boy. Others, with a few but honourable exceptions, are no opinions at all, but the propaganda the owner of the Irving press wants us to believe.

In the case of Saudi Arabia as the great defender of human rights, it is a dictatorship in which human rights do no exist. It certainly has given support to the rebels in Syria. Indeed, along with the US and Turkey, Saudi Arabia started that war in the first place. But it never had anything to do with human rights. They wanted the Syrian president out of the way because he was too independent.

As  for the rebels, most have no interest whatever in human rights. Most are not even Syrians. They are mercenaries (para-militaries) hired, trained and armed by Saudi Arabia, the US, and other freedom-lovers.

That's what is really happning is Syria. Saudi Arabia and the US and a few others,  have created a war that has killed over 200,000 people. Think about it. If anyone wanted to improve human rights in Syria, should killing ever more by the best way to do it?

So far, there have been three flaming wrecks of CNR trains carrying dangerously inflammable material. But don't worry. CNR execs assure us they have an excellent safety record. And oil company execs assure us that it's perfectly safe to transport flammable materials by rail.

So that's okay.

CNR, by the way, was created out of a number of bankrupt private railways in Canada at the end of World War One. If was privatized in 1995 because private business is so much better than the government at running these things.

So that's okay, too.

What to watch for at Rexton?

Alward is going to play the money card. He knows quite well that SWN will not stop its operations there. And Alward bears no resemblance to the St. George who slew the dragon.

But the native peoples are not in this for money. That've been clear from the start.

Nor are they simply rowdies out there to make trouble. They are concerned about their lives and their children's lives. And they're showing tremendous courage in standing up to bullies in the oil industry and government. One could wish that more people in this province had as much concern for their families, and as much courage to defend them from bullies.

But, duh, there could be jobs in it.

People like Irving - and his politicians  - have always believed that money is the bottom line, the only bottom line. It's not. Even if Alward can manage  to shove through a money setttlement, that won't end the problem. These people want control of their own lives. And, unlike too many of us, that control is not for sale.

You know, I suspect that some people look at the religious rituals of native people, at the use of fire and tobacco, and the holdinig up of feathers, and they think - how primitive, how crude, how silly..."

Maybe. But I could wish our Christian churches would take a break from their pie sales and pancake breakfasts to live their faith as the native peoples have at Rexton.


1 comment:

  1. What if we look at money? BC's deficit as of November 2012 was 1.47 Billion. Alward' and the Times have been using BC's "safety" track record of fracking for decades without reported incidents to shut up the opposition. So if we take the industry's word that there are no environmental issues at hand, and that this is supposed to be the Hail Mary for NB's economic future, why is BC 1.47 Billion in debt? You would think that putting all your eggs in one basket would at least pay the bills if everything panned out perfectly.