Sunday, March 31, 2013

March31: No blog today....

I am invited to a breakfast of chocolate eggs and roast bunny.

I can only wish a happy Easter to all of you.

graeme

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 30: What coincidences!

Page 8. "Mnister extends olive branch". Sort of.

Health Minister Flemming's olive branch is that he says he is willing to discuss budget cuts with the Medical Sociey. He will meet with them. But he won't change his mind on anything. Wow!

Obviously, Mr Flemming is hazy on the difference between an olive branch and a cactus stub.

The coincidence. Page 1 has "how does N.B. pay doctors?". The article is unreadable because, among other things, it gives no sense of a doctor's expenses. Anyway, the TandT knows that few readers will plow through line after line of numbers. But the general, if unstated, message is clear. N.B. doctors make too much.

The other coincidence. The editorial, "Seek co-operation, not confrontation", is so worded that it suggests the editorialist did not know of Fleming's "olive branch". That is scarcely likely - even in a paper as sloppily run as the TandT.

So what's it all about?

Somebody with muscle told Flemming to look as though he is being reasonable while, at the same time, keeping a hard line. The editorial reinforces that, while its omission of Flemming's statement gives the impression that he is the magnanimous one here, acting out of his own good will. The front page story on doctors' pay is a subtle suggeston that us honest folks gotta watch them there doctors.

By the way, will we soon be getting some big stories on the salaries, perqs and bonusses handed out to corporate execs and board members? After all, that money doesn't come from a good fairy. That, like doctors' salaries is, our money, the money that we pay for what we buy from Irving, etc.

I note, for example, that the CEO of Rona Inc. who ran up losses for all his six years as CEO resigned - and was given a bonus of 4.5 million dollars. So he won't need to go to all the trouble of applying for EI. How much do you think you would get if you fired for six years of failures?

If you can see anything else worth reading in Section A, bless you for having insights that I lack. The purpose of the TandT is to make you think about some things the way it wants you to think. But, mostly, it doesn't want you to think at all.

Oh, yeah. The headline is "Tax hike will hit some families hard". So it will. Expect to see Irvings, McCains and CEOs standing outside Harvest House in the rain.

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In NewsToday, notice the wording under the headline "North Korea leader issues threat". His words are described as "bellicose rhetoric". The US has used such language and has attacked countries many, many times. I have never seen a president's words referred to as bellicose rhetoric. Even USAF general Curtis Lemay who promised to bomb a defenceless Cambodia back into the stone age - and who did it, murdering at least a half million innocent people in the process - was never described as bellicose.

The North Korean leader is also quoted as calling the US "imperialist". conjuring up images of the rhetoric of the old days of communism.

Those are the games journalists play with words, picking ones that create unthinking images to make the "other side" look bad. But think about it.

Is the US "imperialist"? Of course it is. Check a dictionary. The US has overthrown governments in many a country, including democracies, to install puppet dictators. It maintains troops in some 700 or more bases all over the world in order to exercise economic dominance over other countries. That's what's called an empire. And countries that have empires are called imperialist.

As for "bellicose rhetoric", what would you call the US comments on Iran, on the government of Syria, on the government of Libya before they attacked it, on Iraq when Bush and Blair lied about it having WMDs?

And what would Obama say if North Korea were to carry out war games with Mexico to simulate an attack on the US?

I have no great admiration for Kim Jong Un. But his reactions and his statements seem very much like those one might expect of any US president going all the way back to George Washington. So why does the press write as if Kim is crazy and Obama is sane? That's because our press doesn't publish news. It publishes propaganda.
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Good cartoon by de Adder.

Belliveau is good on criticizing both the NB Conservative government and the federal Conservative government for their budgets. Belliveau is always good on criticizing Conservatives. Alas, his own suggestion for balancing the budgets is even worse than theirs.

Neither budget, by the way, does anything about the growing gap - and a very dangerous one - between rich an poor in our society. Well, not just between rich and poor, but between very, very rich and everybody else. It is not possible to have any equality or democracy in such a society. That gap is already breaking down some countries in Europe. And our gap is worse.By one recent measurement, if the salary increases of 90% of the population over the last 40 years were represented by a line a foot long. Increases for the top .01% in that same period would be five kilometres long.

That's why we don't have democracy or equality or any sort. If we did, we would not have a billionaire announcing he was in coalition with the government, and pushing his puppets into the Finance offices as official budget advisors. This is what causes social breakdown and violence.

Norbert begins his column well with the argument that politicians are often not competent to be political leaders. (He might have added that businessmen who stick their noses into politics are even worse - but Norbert would never say that.)  Still, it's a good start. Then he wastes that insight by looking at just one issue, presumably the greatest challenge facing our society, illegal cigarettes.

On the op ed page, Brent Mazerolle has the first real opinion column I have seen him produce. And it's a superb one - well thought out, well written, and a stimulant for thinking readers. The kid can do it.

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Then there's the Faith Page. This time, it's not as dozy as usual because there's an interesting news story, "The strange victory by liberal religion"'  I don't quite know what to think of it - but it's worth reading to stimulate thought.

I wish I could say the same for the sermonette. This is one, as usual, has everything to do with looking at the sky, and ignoring the world around us - the one that Jesus talked about.

As well, all of the sermonettes appear to be written by fundamentalist clergy. Where are the other churches? I have nothing against fundamentalists; but there is a wide range of religious thought that they do not represent - not to mention the need for us to understand something of other faiths as well as Christian ones.
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What didn't make the news? Well, the US government admits that 36 Guantanamo prisoners are on a hunger strike. The number is almost certainly much higher. They have been held for ten years or more with no charge or trial, and no reason to expect there ever will be charges or trial. This is illegal under international law. But who gives a damn about the law? The prisoners are on hunger strike because they know they will be in cages for the rest of their lives. It's better to die.  Deaths are expect to begin soon.

Perhaps that will lead to another round of dancing in the streets of American cities. (Any Faith Page thoughts about that spectacle when bin Laden was killed?)

Stephen Harper has refused to attend a conference in Africa to deal with the growing problem of drought as a result of climate change. Harper has refused to attend on the grounds it is all too bureaucratic.

Canada is the only country IN THE WORLD to refuse to attend. Aren't we lucky to have a leader with more insight than any other leader in the world?

Actually, the reason Harper refused is that he does not want to recognize climate change. In fact, he wants nothing to do with the environment. That's why he has destroyed most environmental legislation and research. That's why he has the police and CSIS spying on environmentalists as "terrorists".

He wants to develop the oil sands, shale gas, explore the Arctic for oil, exploit every mineral that can be sold, He thinks only of the short term, and only of money. Much of the oil he hopes to sell to China - which will mean one hell of a boost to greenhouse gasses.  And our children are going to pay one hell of a price because of Stephen Harper.

But, duh, maybe we can get some jobs out of it.

Think we can't afford medicare? Well, according to UN figures, Cuba, one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, can afford what the UN rates as an excellent medicare system. And, in maintaining health as well as in providing for immediate needs, it ranks miles ahead of the US (where medical costs are the leading cause of bankruptcy for seniors).

Not only that. Cuba offers medical aid in the form of thousands of doctors who serve in needy countries all over the world. In fact, Cuba provides more doctors to underdeveloped countries than all the wealthiest countries (the G8) combined.

Oh, I know. Cubans are all evil and dirty. Still, those are the numbers.
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Friday, March 29, 2013

Narch 29: hypocrisy at work......

Some years ago, in Montreal, there was a radio talk show that specialized in hate-mongering, It was pretty vicious stuff all day every day, including Sunday. However, on Sunday it would also play a jingle every half hour, a jingle sung by a super-smarmy choir. I remember the opening line well.
"Montreal - Sunday...everybody goes to church...."

In fact, everybody did not go to church. Large numbers did not. But - really - if they all went to church, why the hell would they be operating a radio station at a time when nobody was listening to it and nobody paying for the radio ads that nobody would hear? And the people working at the station were certainly not in church.

I have every respect for people who are genuinely religious, and for the those who are thoughtfully non-religious. But, oh, I find it hard to take hypocrisy.

Top story. Page one. "Church finds communion in Kraft Dinner". The story is that Parkside Baptist Church supplies free Kraft Dinner to Harrison Trimble students, drawing about 75 students to every dinner. What's wrong with that?

Nothing. It's a commendable service by the church. It's also smart PR - and there's nothing wrong with smart PR. But this is not the whole story. It also occupies the whole of page 4, the whole, damn page.

It's commendable. It's worthing reporting. But why is it the big story of the day that 75 students get free Kraft Dinner once of week?

What does the front page have a big picture of the crucifixion with the head - "Metro observes Good Friday"? In fact, the majority of people in "Metro" don't observe it at all except as a day off. This is the equivalent of the crooning of "Montreal...Sunday...eveybody goes to church..."

Then, worst of all, there is the editorial, an example of either brainless and smarmy faith - or of lying.
This newspaper, which supports people and actions that are neither Christian nor of any faith I have ever heard, this newspaper which actually supports actions that are anti-any religious principles I have ever heard of, tells us to have "...a happy, joyful safe and contemplative holiday holidy weekend and Easter celebration."

Tell that to our Minister of Health and Christian Love. Tell it to all the hired liars who issue statements that shale gas is good for you - and get reported in the TandT while others are ignored. Tell it to a government that gives so small a damn for it's peoples' health that it completely ignored the strong advice of its own Chief Medical Officer. Tell it to a city council and provincial government that seem to specialize shady land deals. Tell it to the politicians who say we can't afford EI, but absolutely must have a hundred million dollar hockey rink.

Tell it to the politicians amd jounalists who said bus drivers were being greedy for wanting a few percent raise - but who cheer corporation bosses who routinely get multi-million dollar bonuses while the rest of us get cut. Yes sir. Jesus died on the cross so that Mr. Irving could be "in coalition" with the government, and make even more money. And He rose on Easter to remind us to clamp down on those lazy poor and on health and on education and on decent housing. Oh, and to help put sticky, Irving fingers into the education budget.

Don't go to a regular church, though. People there might not understand your concerns. Go to the Irving chapel. Sit there and feel the real presence of Christ. And contemplate, you know, the way Mr. Irving does. That's the right way.

Why did the TandT spend so much space on all this hypocritic babel? Because it's purpose is to hide the real news. And a good way to do that is to fill space with lies and hypocrisy.

Incidentally, why do we never hear of Jewish or Moslem observances? There are plenty of both here in Moncton. And both share far more with Christianity than most people realize. Besides, what the hell, most "Christians" in Moncton don't recognize religious observances as anything more than holidays.
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Page. A2 has another story on why the Liberals are as inept as the Conservatives. The latter attacked the Conservative budget. Trouble is, they obviously have no idea what their budget policy might be. That's dumb politics. You need to show what you would do if in power - even if it's something as simple-minded and ineffectual and dishonoured as Alward's promise to listen to the people.

Why didn't the Liberals attack Mr. Irving? He probably had more to do with the budget than Alward did.
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As usual, there's nothing much in NewsToday. There's kind of an interesting story on the pope. It's far too early to even guess what his influence will be. But this is a pope who knows his PR. He's making quite an impression.

Harper has backed off from a conference on climate change. He says it's too bureaucratic. The real reason? Harper is determined to do nothing whatever about climate change. He is desperate to develop tar sands and to develop shale oil. He doesn't care about the consequences. He has the mind of a businessmen so that the future means three months from now. Not a day more.
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Editorial page -

junk reading - editorial.

Norbrt's column? Hard to say. It's an interesting one on how Mick Jagger refuses to buy his children houses because he feels children, even of the wealthy, have to learn to make their own way in the world. Well, okay. But would Norbert have written the same column about the Irving family?

Alec Bruce and the editorial cartoon? Tops.

Steve Malloy continues to do a good job about problems familiar to all of us, to write about them with good sense, and to write in a way that reaches his audience. If  you doubt what he says this time, I suggest you watch the girls coming out of high school at the end of each day. A very high proportion of them are dressed like bargain-basement hookers.

David Suzuki is excellent.

If only it weren't for that mauseating editorial, these two opinion pages would have scored high.
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Incidentally, I understand there will be a paper tomorrow. That means journalists will be working on Good Friday - just as many of them have to do on Sunday.

"Montreal..Sunday...everybody goes to church..."


Thursday, March 28, 2013

March 28: I didn't comment on the budget because...

...
1. It was a budget that showed no understanding of what has been learned over the past century about how to deal with a recession.
2. It does virtually nothing to make the rich pay their share. Let's get real. That budget was not prepared by Alward or by the Mr. nobody who is his Minister of Finance. It was prepared by the flunkies appointed by Mr. Irving to "advise" the minister. This all goes back to Irving's declaration of two years ago that he was in coalition with the government, to his grand conference of "leaders" of the province ( a fraud in which university presidesnts shamelessly took part), and the foisting of Mr. Irvings's chosen advisors on the Finance Department.
3. This budget actually increases the burden on the poor and the middle class, especially in the form of service cuts and "sin" taxes.
4. The response by the new leader of the Liberal party was inane beyond belief. Mr. Alward had promised before the last election he would reduce taxes. That's it? Not a single thought on what should have been done? That not only shows a crashing ignorance of economics. It also suggests he lacks any political sense at all.

What's there to say about a budget put forward by a bunch of drooling, third-rate puppets?

In sum - It is going to make the economy worse for most of us. It is going to wreck most of our social services. It is going to cost us more. It is going to make Mr. Irving richer. It will also make the new Liberal leader a former Liberal leader - if the Liberal as a whole has anything approaching average intelligence.

On. p. A2, Health Minister Flemming appears in a small but suitable for framing picture. He says that the medical society doesn't represent the majority of the province's doctors. Mr. Flemming is either as stupid as he looks, or he is a liar.

How on earth would he know how most doctors feel? The only evidence he has is that he says he received "some" letters from doctors saying they're on his side.

He says doctors, as the "most affluent" members of society, have to help by taking cuts. Doctors are the most affluent members of our society? Really. More affluent than Flemming's kiss-up friends who fill the corporate offices of this province?

He said he asked for cuts that amounted to just a couple of cups of coffee a day? He must be getting his coffee at a special Time Horton's where he is served by dancing girls who cradle his head on their ample breasts while they gently raise the cup to his lips for each sip.

What this is really all about is that big money in this province wants an end to medicare. They want a medical system that will focus not on healing but on making money for the very rich. These people don't give a damn how much you suffer so long as it makes them richer.

And Flemming is their misrepresenting, destructive, and generally unattractive stooge, sort of a pit bull with a learning disability.

And that's pretty much it for section A.
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On p. C1, we learn that federal Conservatives are rebelling against Harper's tight control of the party under which conservative mps are forbidden to say anything without his permission.

Well, it's dawning on them at last. Harper has a paranoid fear of freedom of any sort. That's why even librarians have to "show loyalty" to the government. Harper has long since acted in contempt and even hatred of democracy. He is acting as if he were a president. But we don't have a presidential system. It's a pity that most Canadians don't know that - and don't even know what kind of a system we do have.

And I suspect I could safely bet that editors at the TandT don't know, either.
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The editorial is inane. Essentially, it praises a budget we all know is an Irving budget. Big surprise.

Alec Bruce is well worth reading. I know something of China's treatment of animals from visiting zoos in that country. There, I saw pandas living in conditions that sickened me. I would just add a footnote to Mr. Bruce's column.

Mr. Harper is a man who has thrown animal survival and protection to the winds. No prime minister has even been so destructive in this regard. As the pandas arrived, four teenagers, native peoples, had just arrived in Ottawa to see him. They had walked all the way - 1,500 miles through northern conditions of snow and cold. But Mr. Harper as too busy to see them. He was enjoying a photo op with the pandas.

And another footnote. This is not the first time pandas have come to Canada. I know that because some years ago as I was flying back from China, there were two pandas in cages a couple of rows behind me. So what's going on here? What's all the fuss?

We are being set up for a trade deal with China, set in terms that will almost certainly do serious damage to Canada. So we have some feel-good pandas because Harper figures we're too stupid to see through what he's doing. Well, who knows? So far, he's been right.

Excellent piece by Norbert. Well worth a read. Excellent column by Beth Lyons on a closely related topic.

Rod Allen offers us more thrills with yet another look at the topic that fascinates him most of all - Rod Allen.
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There was an item that hasn't yet stirred the interest of TandT editors.

Canadian mining companies have a name throughout South America and Africa for unspeakable pollution, extremely low pay, disregard of the rights and property of native peoples, and extreme brutality which includes murder and rape.

Eleven Mayan women are now suing HudBay, a Canadian mining company, in an Ontario court. They and and some hundreds of others were forcibly evicted from their homes and from farms they depended on by HudBay armed guards assisted by Guatmala army thugs - the same people who, from Reagan to Clinton, butchered over a quarter million Maya - whole families down to babies.

In this HudBay case, unarmed men were beaten and/or shot. The eleven women were gang raped by company guards. Two of them were pregnant, and suffered miscarriages. This is not at all unusual behaviour for a Canadian mining company. It's worse in Congo. Never makes the TandT, though.

Checkout the HudBay site on google. It tells all about what a wonderful company it is, and how it respects human rights. Look at the smiling faces of the Directors. Makes y' feel good just lookin' at them, don't it?

We have lots of corporate directors in New Brunswick, directors in all sorts of industries, who are just like that.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 27: Jolly good fellows....

I used to speak some fifty or sixty times a year to various groups, mostly in Montreal. Among them were Rotarians. Dear fellows.There was always manly back-slapping, chaffing, smiles, joy at being together. And there was always constant "taxing" of members for doing things like having a crooked tie or spilling coffee. The "tax" would be paid with good-natured laughter and even more good fellowship. It would then be donated to some worthy cause, usually in the form of some giant cheque held up to the cameras for papers like the TandT.

All of them -      or all of the ones I spoke to - were men. They were businessmen. Not the big ones, oh, no. The big ones were certainly in the background somewhere. But I cannot recall ever seeing one of the biggies like Molson or Bombardier or Pelardeau at a Rotarian dinner. No, the top level might be bank managers, something like that.

P. A4 tells us that the local jolly back-slappers invited Jeffrey Simpson to speak to them yesterday.  Simpson has spent his life as a political columnist - and a very good one - for the Toronto Globe. Then he shocked a good deal of the journalistic world by writing a book attacking medicare. The book is full of things that are untrue or only half-true. So, apparently, was his speech.

Canadians,  he said, believe in a myth that their health care system is the best in the world. Really? Well, this Canadian has never even heard any such myth. Canada is,  he said, only in the middle of the pack among public health care nations. Possibly. But that's a pretty good pack to be in the middle of.

He says that such ideas are now readily accepted in health-care circles. Really? I must move in the wrong health care services. I have never heard such a view.

No other country has this hangup about the private delivery of health care. Oh? Has he never heard of western Europe?

Doctors and nurses,he says, have seen their increases go up by more than the rate of inflation. What a coincidence. So have the increases of corporation executives and some journalists who please the right people. But that does not seem to bother Mr. Simpson.

Interestingly, he does not mention the glories of private health care just south of us where millions get no health care at all, where health care costs are the leading cause of bankruptcy among seniors, where people live shorter and sicker lives than those who have medicare, where babies are more likely to die in infancy, and where health care costs are the highest in the world, so much so that health insurance is a crushing burden for all but the very rich.

Indeed, the statistics on health in the US are the worst in the developed world. Even a poor country like Cuba has better health - and that's according to UN figures.

Funny he wouldn't mention such a stunning example. But, then, Simpson has found a way to make a great deal of money by pleasing the right people. (I would dearly love to know how much the Rotarians paid in fee and expenses to have him brought here.)

I grew up without health care. So did all my friends and neighbours. I know what it means to watch friends and relatives die at home when they could have been saved. And I really quite despise people like Simpson who use the issue to make a buck.

I despise a newspaper that would print such a story without asking at least some questions from critics of Simpson's book. And I despise a newspaper that would print such a story as a piece of propaganda - because that's what it is.

So, what's the scoop? Whose idea was it to bring Simpson here? Where did it start? It might have been Rotarians. But in my experience, they are usually smaller players than that.

And what generous donor put up the money? And will that donor appear in a TandT photo holding a giant cheque to present to Mr. Simpson?

This whole thing was a setup. And today's story of the speech was pure propaganda - so I was not surprised to see the name of the reporter who covered the story. This all represents the lowest level of journalistic prostitution, of human greed, and of indifference to others.

The assault by big business is on. Watch for budget cuts (already begun), Sigma Six management (already begun), introducton of small fees to begin, and maybe public private partnerships.

Then, when parents start dying before they should, the jolly good fellows of Rotary can pose for othe TandT camera holding up big cheques to buy toys for the orphans.

Rotary is not a big time business group. But it's a useful stooge for the biggies.

Bastards.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March 25:The editor and the news.

Newspapers rise and fall on the qualities and abilities of their editors. Editors not only instruct new reporters on the rules of the trade, of reportorial writing (and journalistic ethics), they also choose which stories are important enough  to be covered or to be selected from the wire services. and where and how they should be presented in the paper.

Alec Bruce touches on this subject in a worth-reading column in today's TandT when he discusses the presentation and reporting of government budgets. He points out that budgets rarely have anything of substance in them, and that the comments offered by both government and opposition are usually inane.

For all that, the news media treat budgets with great solemnity and metres of comment. Editors decide that. To sample the quality of their decisions about what is important and where it should be in the paper, check out page A1 of today's Times and Transcript.

"Revenues key as budget decisions loom". duh, yeah. If you're going to spend money, you need to have some, duh.  Never thought of that.What follows are the predictable and irrelevant opinions of - oh, the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation - and the equally predictable opinions of other stakeholders.

Even the headline, written by the editor, is a little goofy because it's just an opinion. Whether revenues are, indeed, key depends on what it is we MUST have. If an invasion force appeared off Shediac would we decide not to fight it until our revenues improve?

What we need is, of course, a matter of opinion. We need better social services. But who gives a damn? We need more spent on education, on  hunger, on decent housing. But that won't be decided by us.  What we need will be decided by people like Mr. Irving and his satellites. We need lower taxes for the very rich, with lots of grants and favours. We need a new hockey rink so some landowners can get rid of a piece of land that is worthless because it is contaminated. The government has been kind enough not to enforce the law by making them clean it up. We need to buy that land so they can get rid of it, and get us to pay for the clean up.

This lead story is of no importance whatever. But it's up there as the story of the day. That was an editor's decision.

It's followed by an even more vacant one on A3. "Gallant wants Tories' budget to reflect a plan." Well, 'plan' is a feel - good word. I can imagine the Liberal leader saying this yesterday to the Dieppe rotary club, and heads nodding in agreement. A plan, yes, smart fellow that Gallant.

In fact, all budgets have a plan. They can't help it. The question is whether the plan is any good.

Rotarian applause ringing in his ears, Gallant plunged even deeper into his vocabulary of important-sounding words.  "We have serious challenges and we must make sure we take serious measures to face them." (as opposed to funny measures?) Clap, clap. Well said, sir. He must have had the Rotarians wetting their pants with joy.

But why was this mindless crap published at all? Editor's decision.

There are only two, worthwhile stories in Section A. One is on the lack of shelter for the homeless in Moncton. But nobody seems to have thought of that as a need. And the food banks are in financial trouble. But that's not a real need, not like a hundred million dollar hockey rink, so we won't offend the rich by asking them to pay a slightly higher tax rate. No. We'll sell lottery tickets. That way the poor and the middle class will pay for it. (Billionaires don't buy lottery tickets.)

NewsToday choices for big news was one about Pandas arriving in Canada, and an irrelevant story about the US turning over its Afghan torture centre (detention facility) to President Karzai so  he can torture people.  The only national story worth reading is C 3, about a major demonstration by native peoples in Ottawa.

On editorial and op ed, the editorial is yet another pitch for the "events" centre. Norbert's column is about the problems of space travel. This will be of interest to 'special' people. Alan Cochrance, for no clear reason, writes what looks like a high school homework assignmnt on the history of the Bricklin car.

The only good columns, the only real, newspaper columns, are by Alec Bruce and Bill Ayer.

Was their any real news available?
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Well, there's a story that appeared yesterday from Associated Press, and was sent to me by a reader. Stockton, California, a city about twice the size of Moncton has a 46 million dollar hockey rink/events centre financed by tax-payers. They were sold on the idea that the centre would draw business and boost the economy.

So the land owners and the contractors did well out of the deal. But the tax payers are left in deep trouble. The centre didn't attract anything, and the  city (remember, twice the size of Moncton) is going into bankruptcy.

I know we're having a big public meeting about our events centre with a big sales pitch coming from a city that likes its centre. Will council be inviting a delegation from Stockton? Do the editors know where Stockton is?

Prisoners at Guatanamo, who have to live in animal cages, are being force-fed in an attempt to end a 45 day hunger strike. The US government admits to some 26 hunger strikers. Other estimates are much higher.

They are being held illegally. There have been no trials - and lawyers say there never will be. There aren't even any charges, though some have been living in cages in solitary for up to eleven years. The prisoners are starving themselves because they know they will die in those cages, anway. CBS News carried the story yesterday. The editors at the TandT probably never heard of CBS.

In the US, the Department of Homeland Security has stockpiled 1.6 billion pieces of ammo, including hollow-point bullets which are illegal in war. They are also buying armoured personnel carriers modified for use in US cities. As well, American soldiers are being trained for riot control in the  US.
The total stockpile is said to contain enough material to fight a war like Iraq for for 24 years. The department is also asking for drones for constant spying over the whole of the US.  Why?

Nobody will say. And the editors of the TandT couldn't care less. Hey, they had that hot talk by the Liberal leader to the Dieppe Rotarians to deal with.

Then there's Montreal. You've heard of it? It's part of Canada. Three times in the last week the Montreal riot police have arrested people who had assembled to protest. That's legal. You're allowed to protest. It's called freedom of speech.

Of course, you have to obey the law while exercising free speech. You can't commit assault on other people. You can't damage property, etc. But these protestors had not done any of that. In fact, the protesters hadn't even started their protests when the police rounded them up and put them in jail. This has never happened in Canada before. I thought that kind of important. I guess the editors didn't, not when they had a big story about visiting pandas.

But don't worry. We'll still get eminent people to stand up on Nov. 11 to preach about how our soldiers gave their lives to defend Canadian freedom.

In the rest of the world, there is an extraordinary chaos - social, economic, military -the world looked a safer place in 1914 and 1939 than it does now. There's no sense of this in the international news section of the TandT. As just one example -

The TandT and carried all the standard stories about how the US wants peace in Syria, and how it does not want to supply the "rebels".

Actually, the US IS supplying the rebels, and has been from the start. Indeed, the war was created by the US with the intention of destroying Syria. That was revealed in 2007 in an article by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. Weapons, troops, training, money, intelligence have been poured into the "rebels" from the start - using the CIA as an intermediary with the Arab League and Turkey. That's why millions of Syrians are living and dying in a hell.

Much of the American weaponry (just like that supplied to  Libya) ends up on the black market, which is why Africa is so explosive. It is also directly arming Al Quaeda.

But the foreign coverage of the TandT is routinely lazy and ignorant.  I guess TandT editors don't like to read magazines like the New Yorker or world class journalists like Hersh. (Some of the words those people use are just too big.)

Good editors are the foundations of a good newspaper. The foundations of the Irving press are journalistic waste.

Monday, March 25, 2013

March 25: somtimes, I'm....

....unpardonably slow to connect the dots. The pieces were all there - Irving's declaration of being in coalition with the government following his great conference on the economic future of NB, the introduction of Sigma Six, the dismay in the civil service...and the almost complete silence of The Moncton Times and Transcript on these.

So, since there is nothing in today's paper worth reading or commenting on, let's connect the dots.

First, there was James Irving's comment that he was in coalition with the government. He announced it in his papers. None of them commented on it, not even mentioning what coalition meant, or that such a coalition was unheard of in all of Canadian history, and that it is contrary to Canadian constitutional law and practice.

1. To be in coalition means to be a member of the government.
2. Nobody has the right simply to declare himself a member of the government.
3.If there were such an announcement to be made, the premier himself would the one to make it. For Irving to make such a statement was stunningly arrogant as well as unconstitutional. If any other person had gone around making such a claim, he would be promptly placed under psychiatric examination.
4. There are only two groups in all of Canadian history who are entitled to be appointed to government membership - MPs (or MLAs) and senators. And even the latter are rarely appointed.

No premier with any knowledge of Canadian constitutional practice and history would have permitted such a statement. To do so,  he would have to be ignorant of Canadian history or have the spine of an oyster.Alward may be both.

It is unthinkable that a whole newspaper chain would not have a single person who was so ignorant of Canadian history or political practice. But I'm not sure it's fair to say the Irving press acted in collusion on this. There is. after all, evidence that it carries a heavy burden of ignorance.

I'm not sure whether Harper had the power to cancel this appointment. However, his own grip on Canadian history and constitutional practice is so weak, it's possible he wouldn't know whether he had the power - or that he would have cancelled it, anyway.

It is not clear whether the Lieutenant-Governor was officially informed of Mr. Irving's elevation to the government. If so, the Lieutenant-Governor had a responsibility to the federal Prime Minister to report it - and he had a responsibility to tell the LG to cancel it. (Yes, the LG represents the government of Canada, not the Queen.)

Then there was the great conference of Irving invitees to discuss the economic future of New Brunswick - quite an act of arrogance in itself - a gathering of unelected hacks to do the planning we elected a government to do.

There was a lot of press on the conference. But there wasn't much on its conclusions; was there? So, this great conference was held with participation by university presidents who should have known better - and the only major conclusion I know of is that it (or Irving) would appoint official advisors to the Department of Finance to plan future budgets. (Another quite stunning act of capitulation by oyster Alward.)  Who the hell were these unelected puppets to get such influence in a democracy?

It was arrogant. It was unprecedented in Canadian political practice. It gave people we never elected the power to have a profound influence on our lives. And the Liberals didn't say a word. Nor has the new Liberal leader said a word about all this. And he won't.

Nor did the Irving press say a word, of course - not the editorialists, not the staff writers, not the opinion columns, nobody.  Still, to be kind to them, it is quite possible in examining the general quality of their writing to conclude they had no understanding whatever of what was going on.

Then there was the introduction of  Sigma Six into the civil service. And that, I suspect, is much of what the "coalition", the great conference, the "special advisors" were all about.

Sigma Six is a management system based on data analysis. It may work for managing a business department - though opinions are sharply divided even on that. It does not work at all, not ever, when applied to a department which has to meet social needs rather than to simply post profits.

A few days ago, I posted a form used by the government to sample morale in the civil service. I should have had the wit to add some of the text in the letter that came with it. I'll do so now with a passage or two omitted and with wording changed to protect the sender.

(Why didn't the writer send it to the Irving press? Get real.)

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Hi, Mr. Decarie,

Sigma Six is what is being implemented from the top down since the "coalition". That's is all management is talking about in meetings. A business methodology foisted on people departments such as health and education.

As a result, we are bogged down in lengthy, awkward and expensive procedures. Income Assistance has become an area in which benefits are very difficult to get. They are commonly denied - for no clear reason - but with the right to appeal. That makes it seem fair.

And almost all appeals have resulted in benefits being assigned. And that seems fair - except ----the appeal can take a year. That's a long time to wait when you and your family are hungry.

However, the denials look good on a data sheet. They show you're following good business methods. So the civil servants, instead of assisting the needy, are forced to deal with them as if they were business clients.

While waiting out the appeal process, people are forced to turn to soup kitchens, to sell food allowances on Kijiji or simply stay destitute because all we provide in the end is enough to stay destitute, anyway.

Just thought I would give you a bit of what I've been seeing from within.

Best
xxxxxxxxxx
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This is what the great conference on New Brunswick's future was all about. It's going to get very bad, indeed. The need to gather data and to look good on data charts will drive administrators in health and education and all other government services to focus entirely on getting data that would look good in a business organization.

That means far less attention to the needs of patients, students, all the people of New Brunswick. It means reducing essential staff to look good. It means a full stop on innovation and evolution of methods - to look good on a data sheet. It also means firing people. A reduced staff always looks good on a data sheet.

Oh, and as a side benefit, it gives the Irvings effective control over all of our government services. Jamie Irving, for example, now has a two and half million dollar grant to interfere with our childrens' education - though he has no credentials whatever for that, and would be unemployable as a teacher in any public school in Canada.

Alward and his party have handed over the government and the services we entrusted to them. The Liberals, including their new leader, haven't even burped.

Where does this all take us to? Almost certainly, it takes us to a gradual privatization of both schools and health - though in both cases, US experience has shown privatization to be expensive and hopelessly ineffective. It means butchered social programmes. And it means the Irvings and their friends will never pay their share of taxes.

New Brunswick is, for all practical purposes, a dictatorship.  The dictator's economic plan is to suck this province dry - and to hell with you. There are no limits to the greed and ego that control New Brunswick.

The people of this province have a fight for survival on their hands - and not much time to deal with it. They are also kept in ignorance of their danger by newspapers and private radio that lie to them. If we elect either a Conservative or Liberal government in the next election, it's game over; and, in that case, I would advise young people to get out of here as soon as possible, never to come back.

You might want to print this. Next time you see an ad inviting you to go the Irving Chapel to sit and reflect, take this with you. And sit. And reflect.




Sunday, March 24, 2013

March 24:Understanding the news without reading it...

Some forty years ago (my, I'm getting old) a very prominent Canadian politician to me he never read the newspapers His friends assured me that was the truth. I still didn't quite believe it at the time. But I begin to see that it makes sense.

Ever since their beginnings, almost all of the mass circulation newspapers (and mass circulation magazines like Time and Newsweek) have been superb instruments of thought control. exercising an almost hypnotic influence on their readers. It's done with heavily biased reporting and opinion columns, careful choice of misleading labels like terrorist and rebel and public/private/partnership.

(Terrorism is widely used by both sides in any war. But it is never called terrorism when it is used by our side. Rebel is freely used to describe hired mercenaries on our side because rebel sounds, you know, patriotic and freedom-loving. This one can become quite bizarre. 'Rebel' is now being used to describe hired thugs, and extreme Moslem jihadists hired, equipped, trained and fed intelligence by our side to invade Syria.  P/P/P uses a goody-goody word,  "Partnership" to describe what is really an intrusion by private business into our governments to rip off our tax dollars.)

They also use slanted words to build hatred of whoever we are supposed to hate at any given time. Right now, Moslems are the "in" group. Gee. it seems like just yesterday it was the Chinese.

Often, of course, they leave out vital parts of the news, or slant them, or they just lie. Quebecor (The Sun)is good at this latter part. So is Fox News.)

Right from the start, these newspapers and magazines gave enormous power to their owners - who were always closely tied in big busines. In fact, they were always part of big business.

William Randolph Hearst, for example, rightly claimed that he set off a war with Spain to grab parts of the Spanish Empire that Spain could not longer defend. Cuba, for example, gave the US a base to establish and control dictatorships in Central America. In fact, that's the reason Guantanamo Bay is, to this day, a part of the American empire.

In that same war, the capture of The Phillipines gave the US a base to establish military power - and thus economic control - in Asia.

His influence was so great that Hearst once seemed to have the presidency within his reach.

New Brunswick's Lord Beaverbrook had a similar career in Britain. During the first world war he became so influential that he looked like a sure bet to become a member of parliament, even prime minister. That's why he was made a lord. As a lord, he could not be an m.p. nor, by that time, could he be a prime minister.

Another Canadian, Conrad Black, seemed to be on the same path. But ego caused him to be side-tracked into mere attention-seeking and display, a sort of Donald Trump, but with less modesty. And, of course, he did something naughty.

I think that is partly why my only famous acquaintance never bothered with the papers. But I think, too, he realized something else. To understand the news, all you really need to know is how people and nations behave. So, using that method, let's take a shot at what is going to happen in the near future. To keep it short, we'll stay in the Americas.
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The US is in the process of establishing world economic domination through military power. The leading American businessmen said so almost twenty years ago. Google - Project for the New American Century.

Economic domination of the Americas has been an American goal for a hundred and fifty years. That's what the Monroe Doctrine is really all about. In the same period as the Spanish-American war, a US-inspired rebellion gave it Panama. - vital for American expansion into Asia.

That domination, both military and economic, was once almost complete. But it has been weakened.  Cuba was the first to challenge it - and win. (Please don't tell me the US dislikes Cuba because it's not fully democratic. Before Castro, Cuba was controlled by an enormously brutal dictators - and it was the US that installed and supported the dictators. Just as it did in Haiti and Guatemala and other states.

To add to the trouble, Venezuela, rich in oil, established a real democracy under Valdez who, for the first time, spent the oil money for the benefit of the country instead of handing it over to American billionaires.

At the same time, Argentina is showing signs of sudden economic growth - and a less tight reliance on American influence.

One way for the US to establish economic dominance was globalization and free trade. (how that really works and what it's really for is too long a story for this post.)

What's needed now, an quickly, is complete US dominance of all the Americas as one trading zone dominated by US business; and one, vast military base which would be virtually immune to attack, and open only to those investors who would be no threat to US investors.

What the US needs for this purpose is absolute dominance over other governments. Stephen Harper is already on board and, I suspect, might even favour a complete union with the US. Cuba and Venezuela are immediate obstacles. But military attacks on either would be too obvious.

So - with Valdez now dead, watch for interference in the coming Venezuelan election, an interference perhaps marked by an uprising of "Venezuelan freedom fighters" armed, trained and paid by the CIA.  There may well be something similar planned for Cuba.

Oh, and watch for a much, much closer relationship with Canada, probably marked by an even greater slashing of environment protection laws, and the spread of American police state laws and methods.

You don't need a newspaper to figure that out.- And you certainly won't see it in a newspaper- not even when it happens. The Moncton Times and Tribune is not worse in the respect than most other newspapers. It's just lazier, sloppier, more trivial, and more ignorant.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

March 23: missing news - and half wit headlines...

For weeks, while most of Canada has been ignoring it, the Quebec government has been brewing a massive list of amendments to its language legislation - amendments which virtually make it a crime to speak English in Quebec. They guarantee the destruction of an English community that has lived in Quebec for some 250 years.

Any employer who requires an employee to speak English will have to provide evidence it was absolutely necessary - and the employee will have the right to sue. French chidren will not be permitted to go to English schools. Indeed, everything will be done to ensure they never will be required or able to speak English. Virtually all English public institution, such as school boards, social work agencies will be required to work in French. (The latter has been going on for some time. I belong to a museum group, a museum founded by English Montrealers, supported by them, and with a largely English membership. For over a year, I have been receiving communications from it in French only.)

This is not legislation designed to protect the French language. It is designed to destroy the English language, and to keep most French Quebeckers unilingual.  Tell me again how the English minority of Quebec is the best-treated minority in Canada.

Oh, yes, the French private schools will be permitted to continue to offer excellent English training. So the rich French will continue to dominate the province as they have for two centuries. Screw the poor.

New Brunswick is not perfect on the language issue. But it is probably by far the leading province in Canada on the issue of language. Quebec is barbaric. And that barbarism poses a severe threat to this country.

This is a fundamental change in the nature of Canada - and perhaps in Canada's chances of survival as a nation. More likely is that most of Canada will be further divided, then absorbed into the US. At that point, the survival of the French language in Quebec will be cancelled by the overwhelming Englishness of North America.

This is especially important for New Brunswick because, as I have noticed, Quebec nationalists are very active in spreading their message among Acadians. And that would be disastrous for Acadians.

The Moncton Times and Transcript  has yet to say a word about what is happening. That might suggest the barons of New Brunswick would have no objection to being absorbed into the US. Indeed, the political corruption of the US, and its descent into a police state, is a billionaire's dream come true.
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But, as I say, that's not the big news in the TandT.  The big news is "Events centre funds in budget?"  The budget referred to is the federal one. And the answer is that the TandT has no idea what the answer is. As I read the story, the money set aside in the budget would come nowhere close to paying for the centre; most of it is allocated in categories that almost certainly would not even include the centre; and, in any case, the sum is intended to be spread all over Canada, not just Moncton. So why run this silly story?

Because it keeps the propaganda pot boiling, that's why. Try this guess. The origin of the events centre was not the hockey rink. The origin was was the desire of the owners of Highgate square to sell their land without first having to pay millions to get rid of the pollution in it. That might explain why the provincial government has never put pressure on them to clean it up as they are supposed to.

The hockey rink was piggy-backed onto that to please the owner of the hockey team. And, when that idea didn't catch on with the rate-payers, some genius came up the the "events centre" label.

So, with the world in the midst of the worst economic crisis it has ever seen, with our major customer sinking ever deeper into, and with unemployment and povery reaching for record levels around most of the world, we are getting conned into a scheme that will do nothing but cost us money. It may have a use, though - as the world's most expensive shelter for the homeless.
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There are only two stories worth reading in the rest of section A.

On A6, there is a picture of a toilet-in-a-box that you can buy for only 89.99. In the long run, that's cheaper than kitty litter.

On A9, there's a story that the YMCA will no longer get a $30,000 grant for an award-winning literacy programme it has been running. Well, that just shows they aren't asking the right way. Jamie Irving just got 2 1/2 million for exactly such a programme - even though Jamie Irving has no credentials to show he knows anything about it.

By the way, so far the total story on this two and half mill has been just half a sentence. Exactly what is this programme? What budget is the money coming from? Exactly where is it  going to? How can you spend two and a half mill on volunteers?

More important, does young Jamie's deal allow him to interfere  (be a P/P/P) in our education system? Why are we going to a private contractor when we already have thousands of people who know something about teaching reading?   Exactly who approved this extraordinary deal? And when will we taxpayers be allowed to know what's going on with our money?

You know, it's things like this that make the public wonder whether the TandT is an  honest newspaper, or just a propaganda agent for the Irvings.
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NewsToday has no news today. However, it does, on p. D4, have a headline that suggests some unfamiliarity with the meanings of words.  "Protests flare up in Egypt". Ever heard of anything that flared down?
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Bill Belliveau can do a good column if it's criticism of the Conservative party, especially in Ottawa. This one is a good column. He's quite right. The budget is probably the most useless and unealistic one ever produced by a Canadian government.

Norbert is back to writing a column with four, quite different and unrelated topics, and none of them of any significance.  Well, at least he can be sure that Mr. Irving won't be upset at it.

I gave up on Brent Mazerolle half-way through. I have no idea what his point is; nor can I see any reason why I should care. This is just mindless babble.

Gwynne Dyer is very worth reading. This one is about banking in Cyprus, it's a an excellent example of the mishandling of most banks around the world. Many of them, even the big and trusted names, are corrupt and out of control - and they have enormous influence on governments - and are looking for even more political clout. Canada is not exempt.
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The Faith page. Lord, tap-dancing Jesus. Another squishy-squashy sermonette with no connecton whatever to the world we live in. And this one repeats the old bromide that Jesus died to save us.
Please. We are no longer, I hope, a primitive people who believe in sacrificing oxen or throwing virgins into volcanoes to pay for our sins.

Do the Christian churches have nothing whatever to say about this very unChristian world we live in, and how we should deal with it?

And if they don't, could we please have the occasional sermonette from a Jew or a Moslem?
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In other missing news, American business leaders have screwed up royally in pushing the US into their wars. Africa is now knee-deep in weapons, what we call extreme Islam has attained a degree of power and unity in Africa it never had before, the US is close to intervening in Syria, which will make all the above worse. (Actually, it was US intervention that was a major factor in starting the civil war -though most North American newspapers have failed to mention it.) This is very likely to blossom into a crisis that will involve both China and Russia, who both have strong interest in the region.

Business people have surely by now proven that they are as incompetent in shaping foreign policy as they are in shaping domestic policy. So why do we let them do it?

To start close to home, exactly what is this gift of two and a half million to Jamie Irving all about?

Got a column on that, Norbert?

Friday, March 22, 2013

March 22: Even the budget is a zero

Last night, a good fairy flew into my room, hovered for some minutes, and we chatted. But I'll discuss that at the end.
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The best that can be said of the federal budget is that it means almost nothing. It's strategies are vague. There is little indication of how it will balance the budget or even of what it will do. There is almost nothing to meet the day to day needs of native peoples, let alone their long-term social needs. So much for Harper giving a damn about promises to native people.

As for energy, Harper plans to spend one million dollars (spread over two years) on researching clean energy. Wow! That much be almost as much tax payers' money as he spends on political ads.

The civil service will save money by becoming more efficient. But there is no mention of how that will be done.

Some money will go to environment protection - but nowhere close to what was taken away last year.

There are some promises to crack down on tax cheaters - but the estimates of what that will bring in are pretty vague. There is no talk of cracking down on corporation taxes - which is where the only real money would be.

Significantly, there is no talk of closing the income gap between the ultra-rich and everybody else in this country - though Canada's record is among the worst in the developed world. The government has no intention of helping the poor, and no intention of taxing the rich.

Nor is there any reason to believe this will lead us to a balanced budget.

The budget strongly suggests that we are waiting for the world's economies to revive, and to raise us. Good luck.

Meanwhile, the independent Parliamentary Budget Office which takes a close and critical look at such things as the budget has been closed out for this one - and steps are being taken to make sure it will never tell the truth again. Read Alec Bruce for an excellent column on this.
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Norbert is a surprise today, saying things I never thought he'd say about the Liberals and Conservative - particularly that they are both essentially the same party.

Quite so. Now just one more step, Norbert. Why are they essentially the same party? Could it be because they are both owned by the same people? Who also own all the newspapers down here?

And if the Liberals and Conservatives are such a limp pile as you suggest, why didn't you give a little more time to what the NDP and the Green Party are about? The tone of your column is that both Liberals and Conservatives stink. I agree. But I don't see that as a reason to under report the NDP and the Greens - as the TandT routinely does.

Norbert is quite right in this column on our "old political failings". He should have taken a step further to point the way out of those old failings.
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Steve Malloy begins what seems to be a trivial story. But stick with it. This is a good read, and a thoughtful one.
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In most of today's paper, there is no news worth reading. Most of it is trivia. Anything more important you can get just as well (or as badly) from radio and TV.

But the editorial and op ed pages are pretty good (with the exception of the editorial.)
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In other events:
1. It's official. The UN now agrees that the government of Guatemala (with leadership, weapons, etc. from the US and the CIA) destroyed 600 villages, massacring 250,000 to 300,000 native people so we could get cheap bananas and canned pineapples and various minerals.

It was not mentioned at the time in the North American news media, though they all knew about it. It wasn't even mentioned (except in The New York Times- once) when Clinton publicly apologized for it more than dozen years ago.

And I notice it's not being mentioned now in the Irving Press, not even with a UN acknowledgement.

2. There's no mention that former British PM Tony Blair is now very careful what countries he visits, and goes nowhere without bodyguards. No, he isn't worried about terrorists. What worries him is that documents now public (except in New Brunswick) show that he lied about the reasons for invading Iraq and killing hundreds of thousands. He can now be charged as a war criminal. Of course, the British government is not going to do that. But there is great fear of an international warrant, or even a citizens' arrest.

For the same reason, Bush is careful about where he goes, since he, too, lied the US into an illegal war. But the North American media don't mention that, either.

3. I did some research on Sigma Six, the management system practiced by the Irvings, and now being forced on the civil service and on health care in New Brunswick. It is essentially a way of cutting jobs. But it disguises itself as efficient management based on data analysis.

In effect, it bases itself on judgement of performance according to statistics. Ah, yes. Statistics. Very scientific.

Well, no. Statistics are heavily used by propaganda mills like Atlantic Institute of Market Studies. That's because statistics are so easily twisted to prove whatever you want to prove. It's probably not a good idea for business - and it's a very bad one for education, civil service, and health - any system that is not oriented to making profit. But it is handy as an excuse for laying people off. You just have to put the right twist on the statistics.

I suspect Sigma Six is being forced on the hospitals, in particular, as an opening attack on the whole idea of medicare - so that public/private/partnerships can muscle in on the action. The same thing has already come to the schools, and for the same reasons.

Still, if you want to get a high-paying job which requires little training and littler brains, think about Sigma Six. A 'black belt' runs to an average salary of a hundred thousand a year - and, commonly, adds bonusses for efficiency (people fired).

4. Yesterday morning, I wrote a letter to the editor about a falsely represented news story on A 1. Usually, that would bring a prompt call from the TandT to ensure that I did write the letter. But no call has come yet. And I truly did long for the honour of seeing my words in print in the TandT.

5. Ah, yes, the good fairy. What the good fairy chatted about was the low morale in the NB civil service as it has no sense of objectives or supports. Departments have been gutted, and rendered incapable of offering any service. It is, according to the fairy, a dreadful, disorderly mess.

She also gave me the summary of a government opinion survey handed out to all employees to assess such questions as satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with their jobs in about forty categories.

I'm not sure I understand the meaning of the summary symbols. But they appear to indicate that nobody in the whole  civil service had any complaints at all. And that's not believable - unless they all had to sign their survery sheets.

I wonder if the Sigma Six boys played with the data a bit.

















Thursday, March 21, 2013

March 21: Bo-ring...

Page A1 has a story headed "CFL, other events are economic catalysts". Now, a head, as it's called in the trade, is supposed to tell what the story is about. There is only one, possible meaning to this head, that it is a proven fact that such events stimulate the economy.

But that is NOT what the story is about.

The story  is about a businessman who gave an opinion, not a fact, that such events were stimuli. For comparison, what if I were to say (as I often do) that I am the idol of millions? Would that justify a TandT headline saying "Decarie is idol of millions"?

(The businessman, by the way, has a financial stake in such events.)

Disguised as a news story, what we really have here is a piece of propaganda for a cause the TandT has consistently supported.

We will be getting the same runaround when we have our "public consultation" on the events centre. I note we are to hear a presentation by a city that has a profitable events centre. But I note there is no such provision for representation by a city whose events centres have been financial disasters - though there are plenty of them.
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A1 also has a remarkably uninformative story "Export stategy targets jobs: Alward". It has the "feel good" words - strategy and jobs. But at the end of a long story, we still don't know exactly what the strategy is, or exactly how it will create jobs.

It reads very much as though this is giving more tax money the likes of the Irvings and McCains. But we've tried that. Been there. Done that. Seen the movie. Read the book. Bought the T-shirt. This isn't a strategy. It's just a continuation of the old New Brunswick game of selling out the people of New Brunswick for the benefit of those few who actually run it.

Alward says he doesn't yet know how much this will cost the taxpayers. I'll bet he doesn't. And neither he nor the Irvings nor the McCains give a damn. (They don't have to worry about taxes.)____________________________________________________________________

The only story worth reading in secton A is on A6, "Little house has many uses". It's quite fascinating, and has features that could prove useful in providing a form of housing for the future. It does not seem to be adapted in its present form for urban use. But Moncton, with its high proportion of decrepit housing, might be able to use some of the ideas in this "little house".
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C10, " Crime decreases but costs rise" is worth reading because it is the last report by the Parliamentary Budget committee you are ever likely to see. The committee has provided independent reporting on government spending, showing enourmous waste and misjudgement.But Harper, who is as paranoid and secretive as any comic-book dictator, doesn't like the voters to know that sort of thing. He has allowed government departments to withhold essential information from the committee. And now the committee will not have the power to examine the coming budget at all. In fact, it will probably never again be able to investigate anything.

There's nothing else worth reading in section C. But one story worth reading is above the average.
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There is a bizarre editorial arguing that we should not be allowed to know major details of spending on events like the CFL game or a concert. The reason given is that cities in competition for such events would then know how much Moncton was spending to get them.

Does the editor seriously think that they don't know that already? The only people who don't know are us. Obviously the editorial writer would like to keep it that way. I wonder why.
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Excellent column by Alec Bruce; and a very readable and useful one by Norbert Cunningham - though the latter destroyed some of my fondest dreams.

Rod Allen, for the first time in my experience, actually says something. It's wordy. It's use of language is pretentious. But it's worth a read.

Jody Dallaire, as always, is worth a read. When reading this one, it's worth clearing our minds of the myth of how progressive we are compared to, say, Moslem countries. In fact, we are historically similar in our attitudes to women. Bible readers can check out the epistles of Paul for confirmation.

In Canada, there was virtually no paid employment for women but doing laundry, scrubbing floors, and working as unskilled labour in a very few factories. The first employment for women with higher ambitions was presented with the advent of public schools in the 1840s and 50s. Women could be teachers - largely because they were cheaper than men. However, few were ever permitted to teach high school classes or to become administrators. Those jobs were reserved for men, who were considered to be more intellectual than women. (When I began teaching, I was paid more than a woman with the same qualifications I had.  I was never able to discover why.)

The next big break came with the invention of the typewriter. Until then, secretaries  had been men. But by the early 1920s, women were permitted to enter offices - because they were cheaper.

At the same time, women were permitted to vote - but were generally forbidden to discuss politics. Politics was man talk. And, under Canadian law, a man still had the right to beat his wife in order to discipline her.

There's still a long way to go. So let's not kid ourselves that we are models of civilized behaviour.
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I didn't notice any report of a study showing that the NB government has been giving consulting contracts to buddies at high fees for work that could be been done by civil servants.

And, speaking of contracts to buddies, I have seen little about why Jamie Irving landed two and a half million dollars to improve reading skills. I  have seen no evidence he knows anything about teaching anything. And I do know there are people in the education who actually do know something about teachng.
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Finally, the UN has proclaimed that the (rumoured) use of chemical weapons is outrageous. Quite so. But before we blame people of a lesser breed for doing such things, it is worth remembering who invented chemical weapons. It was us in the West.

Churchill was enthusiastic about them. When he was colonial secretary, about 1920, he used bombs to drop poison chemicals on Kurds in what is now Iraq. He thought it was the best way to deal with the more primitive people of this world.

The US supplied them to Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran. It used them again in Iraq. That's why babies are still being born dead, or with only one eye (or no eyes), with missing limbs, with fatal diseases, and with grotesque bodies.

Of course, the TandT has never reported any of that.
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March 20: recovery.....

My computer is now working again. Sorry about yesterday's mess. So let's start with what I wanted to say yesterday.

Harper and Alward are very, very upset. Big business is screaming at them that it needs people with trade skills - like welding. (This, by the way, is the same big business that is always saying government is too big. In fact, it can't be too big to please them when they want a favour.)

Now, thinking over the claims of big business, you would think the solution is easy. When things are in short supply, you raise prices. Okay, welders are in short supply. So raise their wages. I mean, they do that to a gross degree for senior execs and board members, paying them huge sums for their good work in wrecking the economic system.

Oops, sorry. Apparently that rule of capitalism doesn't apply to common workers.

Well, a big outfit like Irving could easily hire people to be trained by it (with a small wage during training); and supply their own skilled workers.

Nope. Irving doesn't pay for anything if he can make us pay. So the politicians are desperately looking for a way to increase the output of training that we will pay for. Their answer is to get more high school finishers to go to trade school rather than to university. Sound reasonable? Not if you think of the implications.

For thousands of years, the children of the poor stayed forever poor, unable to get training of any sort. The great change began in Canada about a hundred and thirty years ago with the development of the public school. Now, any child could get an education, and move up at least a little. The big bonus for Canada was that masses of children whose brainpower had been lost to us became valuable to our progress.

In general, though, the average person had no opportunities comparable to those of the rich who could afford the next change that was necessary - access to universities and to higher paying work.

But that change did come in 1945 when veterans were given a chance to attend universities. Suddenly, universities opened their doors. Families had a little more money after the war; and it was still possible to go to university relatively cheaply. Many children who would have become nothing more than factory hands were discovered to have brains at least equal to those of the rich kids who had previously dominated.

Much of the prosperity of the post war decades is credited to that burgeoning of talent.

It wasn't perfect. The rich still had great advantages; but at last the children of the middle class and even the working class had some equality of opportunity. But now things have gone sour. The universities never adjusted to their new role as they should have. And their costs have gone out of sight. That, combined with a new emphasis on trade skills, means equal opportunity for access to education is disappearing. It also means we will be losing some of the best minds in the country. But it's more, much more, than that.

Do  you think Stephen Harper will send his son to learn welding? Will the Irvings train their daughters to be daycare attendants? Not bloody likely. Their children, whether bright or as dumb as doorposts, will go to university - sometimes learning something, sometimes not. No matter. They will still become business leaders even if they flunk out. We will have another aristocracy just as we had in the middle ages. And, like the one in the middle ages, it will be utterly incompetent to handle all the powers it assumes. (It has already proven itself incompetent of handling the power it has.)

If big business has its way, we shall have a society in which all the power and opportunity will go to those who were born rich. And the rest will always be far down the ladder. In the end - and that end is not far in the future - we shall have a profoundly divided society led by the greediest among us and led only for its own profit. And that will mean a rigid system of control enforced by secret police, fear, abuse....   Something like what we are developing now. Something like what has already happened in the US.

What to do, instead? Well, for a start, cut the absurdly inflated incomes of the very rich. Use that money to make life livable for the rest. Second, dramatically raise the wages of, for example, the skilled trades. Reduce this obscene income gap we live under.

Give every child equal opportunity. Make it possible for each child to get the education he or she wants - and has shown some capacity for.

Those ideas are just for starters. The universities need to take a long and hard look at themselves, and what they do.

The point is that big business has approached a serious problem and a complicated one with a simple solution that benefits only bit business. There is no thought for the consequences to society as a whole. That's the main reason why big business interference in government is usually disastrous.

Yes,it is  usually wrong. The Iraq War was carried out at the demand of big business in the US. And again, it was proven that big pockets do not necessarily indicate big brains. The Iraq War proved to be the most disastrous war in American history, costing well over two trillion dollars counting veterans' benefits; and so becoming a major cause (along with cheating banks) of the world economic crisis.

Even worse, the strategic damage caused by that war is still growing. Iraq is near collapse as a nation, with the strong possiblity of a civil war with unthinkable consequences for the whole region - maybe the whole world.

It created a hatred of the US that has made Al-Quaeda a thousand times bigger than it was. There was no reason to invade Iraq. We know that, now, and should have known it at the time.In its consequences, most of which are still to come, it was a far bigger disaster than Vietman.  And it was planned and demanded by a coalition of US big business leaders.
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It's now Wednesday morning. I've read the paper; and there's close to zero in it.

On A3, there's a story about now New Brunswick nurses fear they are on the line for job cuts. Of course, they are. That's why the two hospital  services have new directors. These are the hit men, the Sigma Six boys that have been pushed into the whole civil service. They are agents of big business. They're job is to cut budgets.

Will health services be cut? Of course. And that will open the way to privatization. Instead of curing people, the main function of health care will be to provide profits.
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NewsToday has yet another story about the Pope. In this one, the Pope urges protection is urgent for nature, for the weak and for the poor. Fortunately, we have Pope Harper, Pope Irving, and candleboy Alward who know better.
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Norbert contributes an interesting and informative column. Alec Harper has a column I couldn' t disagree with more. Eric Lewis contributes a column in favour of motherhood.

Well, that didn't take long, did it?
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So let's sum up with some realities about New Brunswick.

Irving wasn't kidding two years ago when he said he was forming a coalition with the government. He is effectively in the cabinet and, through flunkies, the Department of Finance in particular. The imminent budget will be an Irving budget - guaranteed to make sure that we pay the price of the economic crisis, that he continues to collect goodies, and that we pay for them.

He also has the advance guard of privatization in several areas, notably health, education and, possibly, civil service.

He is part of a group which is putting the people of New Brunswick at high risk though shale gas extraction. The destruction of much of the environment is a certainty. Then, with their pillage of New Brunswick pretty much complete, the Irvings will move on, leaving only the Irving Chapel as a striking reminder of their perversion of religious values.

Alward has proven a stunningly weak premier. And the offering Liberal leader seems very much an old-fashioned, young lawyer on the make.

New Brunswick, you don't have much time to wake up. If you vote Conservative or Liberal once more, you simply voting for letting big business run the province - and you're dead meat.
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Oh, yes. Because Cyprus cannot pay its debts as demanded by the European Union., the EU insists it must confiscate a large percentage of the savings that Cypriots have in their banks. New Zealand is in the same predicament, and it, too, is considering raiding the bank accounts of its people. (But don't worry about the very rich. Their money is safely offshore.)

All in all, it seems a great time to borrow a hundred million (and more) to build a hockey rink in order to please yet another Irving.
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Oh, the Atlantic Press Council wrote that it cannot consider my complaint of prejudice in a TandT editorial. It seems that if even one letter disagreeing with the editorial is printed, then the editorialist isn't prejudiced. There's a disconnect in the logic of that answer. But disconnecting is what press councils are for.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March 19: The Pope


(This blog is a bit of a mess because I'm using an Ipad, and my lessons on it don't begin until tomorrow. It has absolutely refused to let me correct some errors or to finish. I wanted to say something about the governments' (federal and provincial) sudden interest in training for skilled trades, and draw attention to some serious problems it may raise. I'll do it tomorrow. ---and it just got worse as writing in this part wiped out a chunk at the bottom.)
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The new pope has some importance to all of us. He has been elected at a time when the moral order in the western world has collapsed. The economic system is based on greed and coveting, enforced by collusion between billionaires and governments to murder torture, impoverish, starve - whatever is necessary.

It is not the churches alone that are diminishing. It is the whole concept of having a code of morality at all.

A new pope could be a factor in improving (or worsening) this. But I have yet to see a serious story in the Times and Transcript about this. What has been the outlook of the Pope up to this time? Is there any indication of what his general policies will be?

The TandT has had at least one story on the Pope each day. He's humble. He goes for walks. He shakes hands with people. Today, the big word is he kissed a woman on the cheek. The papacy is being treated with all the gush of a celebrity page story about Kate's baby or some actor coming out of the closet. There is surely a difference between news and gossip.

This happens because the news editor - and his/her superiors - are sloppy and lazy. There appears to be no research of the world press. They simply accept whatever is coming in - mostly from Associated Press or Canadian Press - anything to fill blank pages in the NewsToday section.

Ditto for the Business Page. One of the big stories is that the Royale brand of tissue paper has been wiping bottoms for 50 years now. The news you need to know.
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A6 has what should be an important story. "Provincial ombudsman resigns". So I looked for the reason he had resigned. It's not there. In fact, what the story is about is how the Alward government plans to change the system of appointing such officers so that it will be less partisan. (Mr. Alward has always been an advocate of non-partianship, and has long opposed appointing political friends to jobs. Right.

As things are, the story is that the ombudsman resigned for no reason; and the premier is taking advantage of the resignation to restore virtue to political appointments.

I'd sure like to know the real story.
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Oh, yeah, there's a deal on for a CFL game in Moncton in September. But two councillors are questioning the costs.  Good point. Moncton council is forever looking for spectacular events to draw people to the city and spend money. The trouble is that these events always cost money - and we never know exactly how much it costs, how much of that stays in Moncton, and who gets most of what stays in Moncton.

These are substantial costs every year for t he city. It would be nice to see exactly how high the costs are, and what we get in return.

As well, the city spends so much time and energy for spectaculars that one has to wonder what effect this has on planning for long term and planning and development.
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  On p. D 1, we learn that the federal government maintains a file on Omar Khadr which lists the activities which got him into prison. There are several things wrong with this.
1. Most of the information comes from the US army which obtained it by torture. No legitimate justice system in the world accepts information which comes as a result of torture. It is notoriously unreliable. So why is the Canadian government using it?

2. By using any US information at all, Canada would seem to be cooperating in an illegal practice. It is ignoring international agreements by treating Khadr as if he were an adult at the time of his capture. He wasn't. (The treatment of Khadr as an adult by the US government is one of the signs of moral breakdown I mentioned at the top.

3. The government document also lists as fact some charges that were NOT reported by the US military, and seem just to be made up.

I can only I never get into trouble overseas, and have to rely on the Harper government to defend me.

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The edictorial is the usual half-wit on about the events centre. Alec Bruce is solid, though he raises
The editorial is the usual half-wit one about the events centre. Alec Bruce is solid, though he raises a point  which may have more serious implications than are readily apparent.

Monday, March 18, 2013

March18: Damn it, Norbert....

...will you please stop pronouncing on subjects you know nothing about.

You have never studied education. You have never taught a day in your life. It is possible you have the clear and scientific mental processes you claim to have in today's column. But those processes aren't much use when have have not even the rudiments of an understanding of what you are talking about.

I don't doubt that we can and should cut university costs. Similarly, we can and should cut business costs by reducing the obscene salaries and bonuses handed out to executives and board members.  But you wouldn't dare write that, would you? No, because if you did the boss would take a leather strap to your little bottom.

1. Following your formula, we could cut university costs by having just one, giant university for the whole of Canada.  In reality, I suspect that would cost even more. And it would certainly do a lousy job of educating.

2. What costs should be cut depends on what a university is for.  You can't  just go in with an axe
and slash everything in sight - as our government is doing with  health and social services. (Of course, the government approach here has nothing to do with efficiency. It has to do with destroying public services, and then privatizing them as much as possible.

3. A major problem with our universities is not that they are failing to follow business practices. The problem is they ARE following business practices. The businessification of universities, usually forced by business men on their Boards of Governors,  in the last 30 years has been phenomenal. Administrators are now far too powerful, and grossly overpaid - just as in the business world.

The university has two functions - to do research and to teach. These are quite different from each other. Some, probably most, university teachers will insist that good researchers make good teachers. That is rubbish. But many an ego depends on believing such rubbish.. So it is that universities build themselves around the central purpose of  doing research, an emphasis that creates enormous costs  both obvious and hidden, and which greatly reduces their teaching effectiveness.

Tackle those problems, and you will reduce costs - without creating massive institutions that are almost invariably inefficient and inflexible.

But above all, Norbert, please stop writing down to us as if we were all idiots. You have your admirers, I know.  But surely you want to spread wisdom for the majority, and not just to appear as prophet before the simpletons.
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NewsToday has an important story on the Canadian sale of military weapons to Colombia. This is a country that has been fighting a civil war for some 50 years, and has done so
with a  lack of democracy and a lack of respect for human rights that was there even before any fighting started. It is also effectively a US puppet state, and so important to the maintenance of Us control in Latin America.

So we are now officially involved in helping to maintain the American empire. The bait is that we are let in on a share of the business that normally goes to the American Defence complex. Aren't we lucky? And won't our weapons be a big help in bringing democracy to Colombia, and helping little girls go to school?
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The same section has yet another trivial story about the pope. It seems he took a stroll in public and shook hands with some people.

And that's pretty much it for world news.
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Other columns on the editorial page offered a stunning range of choice - from the perceptive and useful one by Alec Bruce, to the quite acceptable one by Craig Babstock, to the utterly irrelevant by Allen Abel.
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In reference to my Sunday blog, let me reassure enraged socialists, capitalists, communists and libertarians that I don't believe in any of those things. I don't believe in any system because all systems are designed and run by people - and us people are terribly flawed. Given tim, they will ruin any system.

At this time, it is capitalism that was twisted out of shape, and is now crashing. It can work. Capitalists need to learn they have to work under rules set by the people of Canada through their governments. What we probably need is a blend of all the isms. And big business has to learn it is not a partner of the government. Big business as a partner to government is the basic principle of fascism.  

The only fundamental systems I believe in are democracy and morality, especially that morality which dictates our concern for each other. Forget the party labels. Look for democracy and morality.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 17: Riverview to build memorial to 1950...

..yes, I forgot to mention this in yesterday's blog. Developers have bought a Riverview golf course (presumably because it isn't making money), and will convert it into a lovely garden community with houses well spread out and a driveway complete with car as an absolute necessity. This is an idea whose time has come   -  and, long ago, gone.

Riverview's urban planning must be done by the same people who do it for Moncton - the land developers.
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Let's think a bit about what is going on in world affairs - and why.

The chaos in Africa and the Middle East is stunning - though one would never know it from reading the TandT. In Libya, the side we backed when we set up a civil war to get Ghadaffi. the side Canada sent aircraft to bomb for, there is utter chaos in government and in the streets. The ones we backed to establish democracy haven't done it. And they aren't going to.

In fact, there is no government in Libya to speak of, Christians are arrested and murdered just for being Christians, and country is awash in uncontrolled weapons, almost all thoughtfully supplied by the US.

In Syria, the 'rebel' side supposedly fighting to bring democracy to Syria gets much of its money and supplies from Saudi Arabia, probably the most profoundly dictatorial country in the world.

Meanwhile, the US has been cooperating in sending money, weapons and training to the 'rebels', who are largely Moslem opponents of the US. Confusing? Yes. It's intended to be.

And one of the few, middle east countries to establish a successful, secular democracy, Iran, had it overthrown by the US, Britain and France to be replaced by a brutal dictator who was their puppet. So it was because of our actions that Iran rebelled, this time to form a government that was Moslem.

What made that whole region such a chaos? The short answer is that we, the West, did it.

It goes way back, but was particularly pronounced from 1700 on, aided by improved ship building and navigation. Merchants discovered huge areas with resources to be taken, with markets for their goods, areas whose military powers were way behind those of western Europe. There was money to be made, easy money.

The leading powers in the imperial growth were Britain, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands. The motives were commercial, though commonly cloaked with religion. In other words, these were wars for the benefit of big business. They were fought to get cheap labour, often slave labour, which could then be used to make people pillage their own land, to hand over gold, diamonds,and other resources, and to produce food and narcotics for sale, often forced sale, to other colonies.

Such were the beginnings of what we call globalization.

In the process, uncounted millions were murdered, tortured, enslaved, starved, worked to death. Existing social structures were destroyed, usually with no replacement. In South Africa, Britain ruled on the basis of race, denying native Africans basic rights, including education, in a system that survived into the 1960s.

It still happens - in Nigeria, for example. And, worst of all in Congo where forest destruction, unspeakable pollution  caused by mining, slavery and semi-slavery are still common. A friend who was there as a missionary for thirty years told me that there was so much chaos throughout the country that he could never leave the house at night. and bandits so covered the countryside as to make supplies unreliable. Accordingly, he often had to hunt to feed his family.

Oh, there was once an elected government. But the leader was promptly murdered, so corporations could install a more suitable leader.

The US did the same, especially in Central America, where American business, backed by the army, stole land and resources, forced starvation wages.and dangerous conditions on the people. By 1900, it was expanding its ambitions to include Asia, notably in The Philipines, Japan, and China.

There are very good reasons why people in most of the world are not fond of the West.

In most cases, the Europeans and Americans ruled by dividing the people against each other, by creating one colonial group to be used against the others. In India, the British favoured the Moslems with job and administrative openings. That, when India broke away from Britain, is what caused a ferocious, civil war from which Pakistan emerged as a separate nation. The two nations still glare at each other, each inches from nuclear war.

The US did the same. In Haiti, for example, it favoured an elite made up of those of mixed blood. That sort of thing is why, when countries like Cuba and Venezuela broke free, large numbers fled to the US. They weren't fleeing for freedom. They were people who had never known or wanted freedom. If they had wanted those, they would have fled during the years of US-imposed dictators. They fled because they had lost their positions as collaborators of the dictators. (Though you would never guess that from reading the North American press.)

The West, including the US, did NOT bring freedom to the world. For the most part it brought poverty, starvation, unspeakable cruelty and death. And it often destroyed democracy - as it did in Haiti and Guatemala and Iran.

It was those years of pillage, not capitalism or democracy, that created the western wealth of the nineteenth century. It was simply theft. The gold stolen from South Africa and the profits of opium forced on China built the CPR and built industries across Canada and the US.

The Second World War brought down the European empires, and would later hit even the American empire as in Cuba and Venezuela.

Business leaders, especially in the US, planned to turn the tide in a document called "Project for the New American Century". It's on the web and, essentially, it's an obvious plan for world domination for the benefit of big business. All that was needed was a way to sell this scheme for decades of war to the American people.

I don't buy the conspiracy theories that 9/11 was planned by American authorities. But it was certainly used to whip up war fever and hysteria. Now, there was the essential factor for people who wanted war - a hated enemy. That hatred and fear has been used ever since as an excuse to effectively rip up constitutional guarantees of human rights in the US, justify assassination teams and torture prisons all over the world, an invasion of Iraq based on an obvious lie by Bush and Blair, and a war with Afghanistan which we now know to have been unjustified.

And there is much, much more to come as the US, Britain and France try to re-establish the good, old days by reconquering the old empires. The financial cost is horrendous. But fear not. The wealthy, now making their biggest profits in 50 years, are not suffering. That suffering will be passed on to us in budget cuts to essential services, privatization of education and health, and higher taxes.

Big business  has been a major force in politics and war for at least 200 years. Now, it's coming out of the closet.

That's what the daily news is really all about.

Will it work? Probably not. The Iraq war has probably destroyed a nation which will now only radicalize. The greed for more and more money ignores the reality that other people also need money. Otherwise, where are the sales going to come from? It's a self-destructive cycle we're being locked into - in the end, as destructive of the wealthy as of the poor.

I said the wealthy were powerful. I never said they were smart.
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Sorry this is late. I have a very sick computer which I shall take in tomorrow, hoping to have it back in time to do a blog.