Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dec. 5:

For many years now, I've been following a sort of blog called Information Clearing House. It's almost a one-man operation which must require intense work as it scans the world press for stories that don't make the news in a tightly-controlled US.  But, suddenly, it's disappeared.

That's happened before. Computer experts in the various domestic spying organizations have disabled his computer for days at a time. Though he's never broken a law, police routinely visit him to scare him out of business. Now, his blog has simply disappeared for close to a week.

There's no point in checking out the public press for some explanation. It plays from police state rules.

The Guardian in Britain, arguably the best newspaper in the English speaking world - and perhaps the best in all the world - is under severe pressure from the British government. It's so angry at The Guardian for printing the story about how Britain, Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand have been spying on the rest of the world, it has been harrassing editorial staff and threatening criminal charges of aiding terrorism.

Yes, it's come to that. Telling the truth in Britain, that breeding place of democracy, makes you a terrorist.

I don't think New Brunswickers appreciate that we live in place with a free and honest press.

Fortunately, a reader of this blog, who researches stories that don't made the mainstream press has sent me some stories.

In the US, for example, 40% of all employed Americans make less than $20,000 a year.

Almost 50 million Americans live in poverty. (That seems a generous figure. $20,000 a year sounds poverty level to me, and if 40% are are living at that or less, then that would be something more like 150 million Americans.)

But fear not, if many are poor, we still have 1% who have more wealth that all the rest combined.

And in the face of this, he US government (which is owned by the 1%) is cutting the budget for food stamps.

And, just in case the 99% get greedy and want more, US police forces have militarized (much like our "paramilitaries") to deal with the enemy within.

Meanwhile, Phillip Morris (tobacco) is suing the Australian government for billions. It charges that the Australian government ran a campaign to reduce teenage smoking. And that's bad because Phillip Morris sales went down. So they're suing for billions.

That right to sue, incidentally, is a feature written in to trade agreements almost as a general rule. The trade agreements are commonly designed by company lawyers; and they make it possible for foreign companies in the deal to ignore Canadian law, and even to sue even when a law is made necessary.

For example, Harper's trade deal with Europe allows the ignoring of Candian laws on pollution (even on those that are left after Harper has destroyed most of them.) That same will be true of the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Typically, such deals are framed on the basis that a government which in any way interferes with corporate profit can be sued in secret courts largely controlled by coporations. (This is for real.) And all the workings of these courts and their decisions will be kept secret.

This is the sort of deal we used to force on third-world countries from 1945 on. Now, in the eyes of the great corporations, we are all third-world countries.

Such agreements could, for example, put Canada in a position to allow its fresh water to be polluted - or even to be taken in such quantities that not nearly enough would be left for us. (One country which has already given indication it would like to do that is the US which faces severe water problems.)

Corporations were never organizations that felt any obligation to us common people. Now, they have no obligation to any country, either. They have no nationality, no society they belong to, nothing they owe obedience, respect, or allegiance to. Trade deals have liberated the corporation.

Obviously, this will eventually destroy not just countries, but also the corporations that feed on them. Common sense tells us that. But common sense is not often found in corporate head offices. Greed and the arrogance of power makes them short-sighted and - no exaggeration - stupid and destructive.

In Canada, we have the most deadly combination. We have corporations that are greedy and short-sighted combined with a prime minister who shares their views exactly.

The premiers are bad enough. They are amoral puppets. But Harper is more than that. He actually thinks like a corporate executive.

But none of this appears in the TandT.

There's nothing much in the TandT. There's a front page story that policing protests will cost 4.3 million this year.

Way to dig for the truth all you news hounds. Now,.....

Could we also have a story some day about how much the Irvings of this world cost us? How much money a year do we give them? The story about Robert Irving sneaked out  (no thanks to the TandT), as did the story of fake professor (also no thanks to the TandT).

Now, how much do all our governments give away (of our money) to just that one family. How much to they make?  How much taxes do they pay? (After all, what they don't pay is our business, because we have to pay it - a point that Norbert never mentions when he rants about the provincial debt.)

How much of the wealth of New Brunswick does that one family hold?

You know, if that much money were being absorbed by the cost of the unemployed and the poor, we'd sure hear about from the Irving press. Well, the Irving press surely has the inside track on this story. How much do the Irvings cost this province every year?
The big, local story is that the provincial Liberals are leading in polls. You remember the provincial Liberals. There the ones we were so mad at that we voted them out to bring in the Conservatives. Now, we're mad at the Conservatives, so in true, New Brunswick fashion, we'll show them. We'll vote in the Liberals that we voted out....etc.

Not that the corporations give a damn. They own both of them.

On the editorial page, Alec Bruce is interesting on Quebec's approach to education. I don't know much about it because by the time it was introduced I was long out of the public schools. But it seems worth examining, particularly if one remembers that the Catholic (mostly French) schools of Quebec were probably the worst in North America only forty years ago - and even later.)

Norbert fusses about the deficit. As usual, And, as usual, he never mentions the corporate world as a possible cause. 

And, as always, his closing quotation makes no sense at all. He quotes Jane Jacobs (yes, I know who she was and how eminent) as she says "...poverty has no causes. Only prosperity has causes."

Bright scholar, Jane, but she had a terrible habit of making sweeping statements about things she really didn't know. Poverty has no causes? In fact, poverty is quite deliberately imposed on most of the world in places like Central America, Africa, and Asia so corporations can make money out of cheap labour. It was deliberately imposed on the US by allowing corporations to move their work and their jobs  out of the country.

The op ed page is for opinion. Alas the only opinion Rod Allen has is that he's funny. This time, he had so much wit to burn, that he was half way through his column before he got to the subject of it.

Beth Lyons has a real, opinion column; and it's well done.


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