Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 30: General...

I am writing this on April 29 because on April 30 in the morning, I shall be busy exercising my right of free speech to  express my views on shale gas; and in the afternoon, I shall be busy looking at a doctor examining various parts of me, and shaking her head with something between disapproval and utter contempt.

It's just as well. One can get fed up dealing every day with the triviality, half-truths, downright lies, ignorance and bias that characterize the Moncton Times and Transcript. So let's take a look at two general areas for today.

One is the whole, western world. Since 1950, at least, western capitalism has busied itself with shaking off the rule of law, making itself independent of any regulation. Buying political parties, setting up token overseas head offices to escape taxes and whatever regulations remain, forcing tough "free" trade deals that exploit small and poor nations, setting up "non-partisan" think tanks which, working along with big business ownership  of radio, TV and newspapers, enable it not only to influence but to manipulate thought, to create a useful hysteria that leads people to accept the gradual disappearance of democracy and human rights.

For an example, look at the hysteria in the US over the Boston bombings - when this is the nation that carries out such terror bombings on other countries every day of the year. The Boston bombers used pressure cookers. The US has been using similar bombs in uncounted millions for at least forty years. But, hey, they only killed foreigners.

Traditional morality has largely disappeared in an explosion of consumerism, outright and criminal theft by the world's largest banks (with more to come) and a worship of greed as the new morality.  Well, the world survived for a very long time without democracy or genuine capitalism. But there is a serious problem this time.

Our economic leaders are so greedy and amoral and arrogant that they don't have the faintest idea of how to run a society - not even when it's as corrupt as ours. The wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan - and now Syria -  were all planned and fought to benefit big business. All have resulted in human and economic disaster for both sides. And it's been much worse than what we've been getting in the news. Africa is in chaos, with far worse to come. Expect artificial civil wars in Latin America, stirred up with American money and weapons. It's been happening for years, of course. We just don't hear about. But expect a new round to start with an attempt to overthrow the government of Venezuela. Expect the Moncton Times and Transcript to publish lies about it.

Indeed, big business' greed and corruption and theft and incomptence has created a mess  of North America itself. The US debt is so great that the dollar could cease to have any value at all in the very near future.  The US (and its servants like Britain, France, and Canada,)  now can win only with global conquest - with all the risk that implies. These people are not only greedy and murderous. They are utterly incompetent.
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And that takes us to New Brunswick. And let's be blunt.

Families like the Irvings do not just influence the government. They ARE the government. Mr. Irving made that clear himself two years ago when he said he was in coalition with the government, when he set up a provincial group to plan the economy. (What the hell business did he have in planning our economy?) Then he appointed his flunkies as official economic advisors to the government.

That was anti-democratic, anti-constitutional, arrogant...but Alward wimped it. Nor did we hear a word from Norbert or the editor or anybody else in the Irving Press. I don't think New Brunswickers have begun to realize what has happened.  Big business no longer just buys the Liberals and Conservatives. It now IS the Liberals and Conservatives.

The recent budget was a big business budget - no doubt a sensible approach to budgeting for a private business, but hopelessly incompetent and dangerous for a government budget. The attack on the hospitals is not Mr. Alward's policy. (So far as I can tell, Mr. Alward doesn't know what a policy is). The attack on the hospitals is a demonstration of the typical incompetence and destructiveness of business executives who think that running a society is just like running a string of gas stations.

 Big business is fond of saying that civil servants and overpaid, and don't know what they're doing. The reality is that it is the hacks in the fancy offices of major corporations who are wildly overpaid (up by a thousand or more percentage points in the last decade or so), and hopelessly ignorant in their interference with government and the civil service.

What does this mean for New Brunswick? It means that if this province continues to vote Liberal or Conservative, it's dead meat. A vote for either of those parties is a vote for Mr. Irving. It's a vote against yourself, against yout community and against your children. Generations of voting that way have produced a sleaze that permeates most of the society, from the provincial government down to the most local forms of government.

Not all Liberal and Conservative MLAs are sleazes. But isolated people of good will have no great influence in those parties.

Even worse, neither party has ever produced anything that could be called a political philosophy; neither has anything resembling a platform.

What does New Brunswick need? It badly needs needs people in government who are not motivated by greed. It needs to get the land developers off our backs, and out of our pockets. It needs information and discussion that it is not getting from any of the private media. It needs to put controls on big business that is interfering, destructive, and incompetent.

And it needs to develop the backbone to speak openly and freely and to inquire openly and freely as people in a democracy should. You have real power in the vote.  Shake off your old fears and prejudices, and have have courage to understand what is going on. Then use your vote.

Frankly, you don't have much time.

Monday, April 29, 2013

April 29: a new record....

Today, I finished reading the Truthful Times and Transcript before I could finish eating my little bowl of Sugar Flakes.

The first page featured a photo of a young woman wearing red at the Heart &Stroke Foundation Heart Truth Fashion Gala. I always find it heart-warming to see pictures of my social betters at play, spending piles of money on clothes and food to raise rather less for a good cause. And it got even better. Pages A6 and A7 had 24 (count them, 24) more pictures of women in red dresses.

NewsToday is eight pages - of which six are ads. Only one page is really news at all. It doesn't mention that a hundred prisoners at Guantanamo are now on hunger strike - all of whom have been there for years with no  charges. None has any hope of ever being released. All are being held illegally.

Nor does it have the story of how the US has been operating torture prisons around the world for years in what is surely the largest torture system in history. It has done so with the full cooperation of some fifty countries - including Britain, Poland - and Canada. Oh, yes, and also with the cooperation of that Assad of Syria, the one that we are now told is a bad man. Canada has been good enough to supply the torturers with information and, occasionally, to supply them with people to torture. CSIS has even cooperated in the questioning though, of course, Canadians would never actually torture.

Also missing is the rioting and killing that has been going on with our good friends, the Emirates, as people struggle against the absolute dictators who rule those lands (and Saudi Arabia). Those people must be confused. After all, our side is the one that is spreading democracy. So the Emirates and Saudi Arabia can't possibly be dictatorships.

Syria? Obama is still pretending he's just an honest spectator in this war, though the US is close to coming out of the closet on that subject. And, though the news stories in the TandT have never mentioned it, leading figures in the American and British military are afraid that any further western interference in this war would send the whole region - and possibly the whole world - into chaos.

But not to worry. There's none of this in the Tand T. So reading it won't put you off your sugar flakes at all.

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Norbert has  a column in which he says people who use the internet for bullying and humiliating should be punished under the law - and for juveniles who do so there there should be counselling, therapy, stern probation..... I agree. But gee whiz, Norbert. Aren't you the one who's always saying big government is bad?

Craig Babstock's opinion column is not an opinion column at all. It's a news story - and not a very perceptive or interesting one -  on how crowded our courtrooms are.

Allan Abel's comment is not only irrelevant, but quite possibly in bad taste as he devotes all of it to the bizarre statements of a very elderly and possibly demented ex-politician.

Alec Bruce is excellent on the dedication of the George dubya Bush Library - though he is a little kind on one point. He suggests that Bush was  just naive in thinking Saddam Hussein of Iraq had "weapons of mass destruction".  There's not a shred of doubt that Bush and Blair knew there were no such weapons. They lied. They lied so they could murder over a million people, destroy their country, and steal their oil.

Omar Khadra sits in a prison for what he did (maybe) when he was sixteen. Bush and Blair, who murdered on a mass scale, are rich and honoured.

Incidentally, there is no clear definition of the meaning of "weapons of mass destruction". That's partly because the term barely, if at all, existed when Bush first used it. He used it as one of those buzz terms that politicians use to cover up the fact that they're saying nothing at all.

Oooh - weapons of mass destruction.... ooooh, say millions of people who have no idea what the word means - but it sounds evil. It's like so many other buzz words and buzz terms used to provoke an emotional but ignorant reponse - "government is too big", "bureaucracy is bad", "deficits are bad", "private business is efficient".. These are the staples of our political discussion in our news media and, I'm sorry to say, among us.

Now, it seems, a pressure cooker is a WMD. Wow! If that's true, the US must be the biggest user of WMDs in the world. And if a pressure cooker is evil, what term to we need for a nuclear bomb?

And are chemical weapons evil? Actually, I think they are. But the biggest user of them in history was the US in Vietnam. It used them to defoliate huge areas, destroying both forests and food crops - and people. And, though Agent Orange was used so long ago, it still poisons the land and kills people.

A small amount of it ws used to control forest grouth in an army base in New Brunswick. It was a very small amount, used many years ago. But there are still signs in parts of Camp Gagetown warning people to stay away from poisoned areas. Just imagine what it must be like to be Vietnamese child living in and even more poisonous area.

Government is too big? That depends on what it has to do. Government is the only institution we have that protects us, the only one that acts (or should act) to serve us. We would have to be idiots to weaken the only institution that can protect us. (Alas! This world has no shortage of idiots.)

Private business is efficient?  Well, it's efficient at only one thng - making profits. In the course of doing so, the big, private businesses will impoverish nations, launch wars of plunder, grossly overpay their higher management, and cheat the rest of us into hardship by not paying their taxes. Big business is effiicient, I suppose, - in the same way a buzzard is efficient.

Bureacracy is bad? Well, big business is heany on (an overpaid) bureaucracy. If you are going to run anything that is large, you need a bureaucracy. The history of world progress over the past four or five hundred years has been a history of the development that bureaucracies made possible.

Deficits are bad? It depands on what they're for. If you run a deficit to spare Irving the grief of paying taxes, or if you squander money public/private/partnerships then, yes, that's a bad deficit. That's money thrown away.

But if you reduce a deficit during a recession by firing people, that's bad. Firing people simply creates more unemployed and makes the recession worse. Most of western Europe has been trying for three years of recession to reduce deficits by firing people, closing schools, letting people go hungry and homeless...  And all that has done is to drive countries like Spain, Greece, Britain, Ireland, France from recession into depression - a depression that is now worse than the 1930s - and possibly with  some serious repercussions in the form of wars both civil and foreign. The US is going in the same direction. Funny how the TandT never reports on that.

Meanwhile, more intelligently run countries like Sweden have been spending to create jobs, and to do work that creates long term benefits. And it's working. Whay is New Brunswick following the losers?

It's following the losers because it carries on its political discussion with buzzwords instead of facts. Because it's kept in ignorance by most of its news media. Because its economic leaders prefer it to be politically ignorant and poor. That's why we're hammering the health sytem when we should be hammering a tiny, tiny group of the very, very rich and greedy.



 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

April 28: What's it all about?

First, I should confess that I have several posts from readers pointing out I had incorrectly referred to Health Minister Flemming as  Hemming. I could say I was protecting all the Flremmings of New Brunswick from the shame of having  such a coarse and bullying lout in the family. But I wasn't. I just forgot. Afterr all, this is not a name that's going to echoing down the halls of history.

No, this is the sort of man who throws a tantrum after just ten minutes of discussion, and storms out of a meeting because he isn't getting his way. All of it. Then he holds a press conference to say his door is always working. I would have more respect for him if he also threw tantrums like that and walked out on Mr. Irving - or whatever messenger boy Mr. Irving sends to give him orders. I would have more respect for him if he had the courage or inegrity to treat Mr. Irving as he treats our doctors.

As well, Mr. Flremming (and Mr. Irving) have a penny ante notion of what government economies are like. They don't work the same way as a family or a personal budget does. Firing 400 health workers, for example, will NOT save the money in those 400 salaries because a large part of that money would have come right back in taxes. As well, the money from those 400 salaries would be spent many, many times over in the coming year, mostly within local communities - providing both more jobs and more taxes on each spending. Net result? Our "saving" by firing 400 medical staff will probably cost us heavily within just the first years. Instead of easing a recession, we will make it worse.

Austerity plans such as this do not work. They have not worked in Europe which most of the continent is slipping into misery and, quite possibly, into violence. Austerity didn't work in the Great Depression of the 1930s. The lesson of the dirty thirties was a powerful one  - or should have been. If both business and government cut spending, the result is deepening suffering. The answer, when private business won't spend, is for government to spend.

And if Mr. irving really wanted to help, he would get his nose out of government and, instead of piling up his biggest profits in history and then sitting on them, he should use them to invest and create jobs. Of course, he does well the way thing are. He's not the one standing in a soup line. He's not the one trying to live on EI. He's not the one who's going to have to take any job h e can get. No, in fact, he's the one who'll have his choice of people begging for jobs for any price they can get. And he'll ripTher even more out of this province than he does now.
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Now, for a look at the future which, I am afraid, is already here.

Every November, we will turn out for mass rallies to remember the veterans of our wars; and we will be told, every year, of how they risked their lives and how over a hundred thousand died to protect our freedoms.

What are those freedoms?  (It's amazing how few Nov. 11 speakers seem to know what they are.)

There is no "factual" statement of what those freedoms are. But the most widely accepted and best known definition from the early days of the Second World War are The Four Freedoms laid out by President Roosevelt. They are Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom of Fear.

The only one we have retained is Freedom of Worship- but that is mostly because most churches are no threat to the wealthy and powerful Those that do discuss what is going on in the world are largely the ones that support government policies of war and destruction.

Freedom of Speech? In most countries, especially in the US, if you exercise your freedom of speech with opinions the authorities don't like, you end up as one of the names on secret lists shared by Homeland Security, tthe FBI, and the dozen or more secret agencies that keep an eye on you. Someday,you learn you can't get on a plane; your phone and your computer are tapped; and there's a device fixed to the bottom of your car to trace wherever you go. And God help you if you take a holiday in Cuba.

That happens to Candians, too. We learned not long ago that the RCMP and CSIS spy on environmentalists. Then, twice a year, they report their findings at meetings with business leaders. That's been going on for a long time. But they don't spy on polluters, then report their findings to environmentalists. You think  it's okay to spy on environmentalists because they might cause disorder? Well, I can give you quite a list of illegal, sickening and killing damage that's been done by big business polluters. However, I don't offhand know any damage or illegal activities by environmentalists.

Years ago, I was active in the nuclear disarmament movement. Government and business were not pleased with the movement. At the same time, I was doing some volunteer work with police and young criminals - so I came to know many police well enough to be good friends with them. Their dislike of the ND movement was intense. Many told me of their longing to be turned loose on a parade of those "shit disturbers" to punch them out.

In a free and democratic society, the function of the police is to enforce the law. (And to protect freedom of speech and thought.) When the function of the police changes to protecting authorities and big business from criticism, to keep secret lists of "distrurbers", to spy on citizens who have borken no laws, then we know longer have a free and democratic society. What we have is what is called a police state.

One of the worst police states in the United States, "sweet land of liberty". But Canada is catching up.

New Brunswick, in all the years I've known it, has never been a model of free speech. Suppression of free spech in this province has been widely accepted as a fact of life enforced by gossip, employers, a lying press and a submissive population.

But every November, the usual hypocrites will line up to give speeches about how our veterans risked their lives - often losing them - to defend the free speech we hold so dear.

Freedom from want? Get real. In a recession, our only response is to create even more want by firing medical staff and cutting EI benefits. The US is responding the same way with one in five American families now living on food stamps, and with social help being severely cut to feed the billionaire owners of the defence industry. Most of western Europe is even worse - far worse.

In the rest of the world, in Congo, Guatemala, indeed across all Africa and Central America we hold people in poverty and sickness so we can loot their minerals and farms on the cheap.  At home and abroad, we deliberately hold people in poverty and want so that our billionaires can make even more billions - and we allow ouor wealthy to hide their money so they don't have to pay taxes on it. After all, taxes would only be wasted on helping the hungry and the homeless.

Freedom from Fear....in fact, the creation of fear is a major activity of our governments. We have to fear. We have to hate.  I'm not sure how many wars the US has fought over the past sixty years.Some were open -Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan.... Others have been fought by US-paid mercenaries and/or as civil wars fomented by the CIA (as Syria, Guatemala, Haiti, Chile..., and as is likely to happen in Venezuela...) In sixty years, it has fought at least sixty wars, all of them against smaller, weaker, poorer countries. Almost all of those wars were fought to benefit big business. Most ended the establishment of dictatorships, only sometimes disguised, thinly, as democracies.

To convince the American people they had to fight those wars and to pay the immense costs, they used the traditional bribes of fear and hate. Cubans are evil. They weren't when they were under American dictators. But now that they kicked out the dictators, they're evil.  Saddam was evil. He wasn't when the US put him in power. He wasn't evil when the US used him to invade Iran. But he became evil.

He had weapons of mass destruction, too. Well, okay, he didn't. But he could have had. The US wouldn't dream of having weapons of mass destruction.

And you have to keep the people in constant fear. 9/11 was a gift to Bush. It gave him his excuse to invade Iraq and then Afghanistan. It have gave him a chance to spread a fear and hatred against Islam and the threat of its attacks that would justify his tearing up of most parts of the constitution that used to guarantee American rights.

The hatred, fear, and paranoia were encouraged by virtually all western news media. Today, paranoia part is so great, that Obama, on the sly, has been whipping up and supplying a civil war in Syria - and has actually been supporting a "rebel" force which is largely made up of Moslem militants. The purpose here - and we'll se it in other countries, is to set Moslems up for insane wars against each other, leaving US business free to plunder divided and weakened states.

On the day of the Boston bombing, there were more Americans killed by handguns than were killed by the bombers. But look at the hysteria caused by the Boston bombers. Watch for Obama to use that hysteria. (The school shootings were far worse than the bombings. So where's the fear and hysteria over those?)

An American magazine carried a headline that it would never forget the Boston terror bombings. Presumably, it is assumed that Moslems don't notice that terror bombers from the US hit them every day.)

Of the four freedoms, the only one that survives is Freedom of Worship. And that only because the churches have either accepted or kept their mouths shut about the other three freedoms.

The truth is we live in a western world in which moral values have largely ceased to exist, and in which the unlimited greed of big business is the driving force - though you would never guess that from reading the Truthful Times and Tribune. The evil isn't "over there". It's here. That's why we're kept in fear and hatred of the people over there, so we won't notice the evil ones over here.

New Brunswick is just a small-scale model of a society in which freedom has largely disappeared since 1945, and in which power is really held by a tiny number of the very rich but not, alas, very intelligent.

And that takes us to the question of what we can do about it. But this is already a long blog. Another day. And, yes, New Brunswickers can do something about it. We'll talk about it.



 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April 27: This is the blog....

....I knew I would have to write some day. The dispute between hothead Hemming and the province's medical system is only a small part of a much, much bigger crisis we are going through. This is part of nothing less than a revolution and, like most revolutions, one hell of a destructive one.

In the United States, one family in five is now living on food stamps. Meanwhile, the wealthy are living on their highest incomes in history. Nor does it matter who gets elected. The policies of Obama are almost identical to those of Bush.

Unemployment in Spain is officially 27% - which means that it's really at something closer to 40% or more. It's much the same in Greece. France has record unemployment and poverty. So does Britain. In Ireland, millions have had pensions completely cut off. They now have nothing.

How did this happen?

During the late stages of the great depression of the 1930s, and through the Second World War, governments took control of national economies. They set limits on what big business could do. They ensured that the general population could get a fair share of the national wealth, and of essential services. And it worked.

The worst effects of the depression were at last eased; government debt was under control; and the western world entered the greatest prosperity and the best distribution of wealth it had ever known. But big business was not happy. It wanted more.

It campaigned to break the controls it had to work under, to lower its taxes or, even better, to hide its profits in offshore tax havens and with official head offices and company registrations in tiny states that had almost no taxes. In Canada and the US, there are highly profitable companies that thus escape paying any taxes at all.

They set up propaganda fronts like Atlantic Insitute for Market Studies to conduct dishonest studies and to interfere in the operation of public services like education. (AIMS says it refuses government money to keep itself independent. Apparently, its independence is not affected by getting almost all its money from wealthy individuals and corporations, with the Irvings playing a prominent role.)

And the very wealthy, almost by definition, owned most newspapers, radio stations and TV stations to control the news. Some journalists, as those at, say, New York Times, retain just enough dignity to be called courtesans. Others are just whores.

The result, as we have seen in recent years, is a massive drift of wealth from almost all of us to a tiny number of super rich. And, more recently, there has been a collapse of the whole western economic system - a collapse as significant as the fall of the Roman Empire. And it is a collapse caused by the greedy and irresponsible and, often, criminal behaviour of banks and major corporations. And they actually got taxpayers' money as a reward for their greed, irresponsibility and criminality.

But the very rich don't really care aboout the collapse. Their incomes have continued to rise, and to rise at the greatest rate in history. As for the unemployment, that just means that they can cut salaries to draw in those desperate for a job, and make even bigger profits. The Irvings don't need a prosperous New Brunswick to make money. Indeed, a poverty-stricken New Brunswick. After all, the more poverty there is, the easier it is pay low wages with no benefits. Big business doesn't want to end the recession. It's making them too rich.

Admittedly, that, in the long term, is destructive to big business itself. But greed doesn't think of the long term.

So, what does this have to do with the medical system?

Remember two years ago? When the senior Irving placed a column in his newspapers annoucing that he was now in coalition with the government? Coalition - that means he was saying he was a member of the government - just like Alward and Hemming. I don't think New Brunswickers have ever grasped the meaning of that. And certainly the Irving Press has never explained it.

In effect, Irving announced that was now running the show, not because he was elected but because he was, by the grace of God, named Irving. A premier with the courage and brains of an earthworm would immediately have made a statement telling Irving to screw off. But we don't have an earthworm for premier. We only have Alward.

It is not an exaggeration to say that democracy in New Brunswick, never very healthy, ended on that day - though it never has mattered and never will matter whether we vote Liberal or Conservative. Both are Mr. Irving.

So why are we making budget cuts in health - especially at such a time when accessible health care is more important than ever and when it is so important to put money into the economy rather than taking it out? And why does Mr. Hemming insist that it is to make the system more efficient when it's obvious from his statements that he has made not the slightest attempt to see where it is inefficient? He has simply demanded drastic cuts. This is just blind chopping. And it's only purpose is to cut something that doesn't make money for Mr. Irving.

But there's no point in asking Mr. Hemming about it. He's made it fairly obvious that he has intellectual limitations.

So ask your member of the government, Mr. Irving. Here are points you might touch on.
1. Is it possible that Mr. Irving, like almost all big business wants to see an end to medicare? So that he and his friends can make bigger fortunes out of a privatized medical system? One that will leave most New Brunswickers with no care at all?

2. Is it possible that firing medical workers and other civil servants is good for Irving? High unemployment makes it easier for people like him to hire really cheap labour, and to work them in vile and even dangerous conditions.

Did you read about that fire in a clothing factory in Bangladesh? That sort of industrial accident used to be quite common in the US and Canada when business was free to put employee lives at risk for the sake of profits. Is it possible that, for the Irvings of this world, those were the good old days? Is it possible that high unemployment is exactly what Mr. Irving wants to see?

You don't think people would ever be so cruel? Bless you my child. Bless you for your innocence. But read some Canadian history. You only have to go back a few generations to learn about abuses and cruelty and greed by the very best families, the ones that the TandT is fond of referring to as "philantropists".

3. Is it possible he has been taken in by his own AIMS propaganda that statistical methods are a good way to measure the effeciveness of organizations and to plan their development? If so, he might consult some real statisticians rather than relying on those he employs as hired guns.

The Moncton Times and Transcript has presented this issue only in fragments, heavily biased in favour of the government's position, and quite deliberately garbled and incoherent in presenting the medical position.

To get a clearer understanding of the medical side of the story, ditch your copy of the Tand T. Go to:
http://www.nbms.nb.ca/


New Brunswick, you have been scared into silence far too long. This province has been bled and battered by high class thieves for over two centuries. You have to learn the courage to speak publicly and listen publicly to something other than the lies fed to you by quisling governments and a quisling press.

I watched the recent byelection in a kind of horror of disbelief. After well over a century of  proof that the Conservatives and the Liberals are both puppets. people still voted for them. And, like any New Brunswick election I have seen, it was one in which neither party had anything that could be called a platform.

You really can't afford that. Your children can't survive it. You have to wake up. You have to develop the courage to demand real democracy. And you don't have much time.


And this is all part of the larger pattern of wars and hatreds and hysteria that we have lived in for sixty years. But that is a subject for tomorrow.

Can something be done about all this? Certainly. We can have prosperity. We can have an end to hatred. We can have an end to the wars that are now set to go on for decades. But we can't do it if we just stand around with our faces hanging out. We have to discuss. We have to learn. We have to think for ourselves. And we have to develop the courage to do it publicly, just as if this were a free country.



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Friday, April 26, 2013

April 26: "Starbucks to open downtown outlet"

It's a breaking story, front page material for the Moncton Times and Transcript. A probing reporter forced the full story out of Starbucks management, including a bombshell announcement that the coffee shop would have ample seating. There is also gripping information on where other Starbucks coffee shops are to be found in Moncton. And they are about to erect a "coming soon" sign at the site. Finally, and hold  your hats for this one - you can drink the coffeee in the shop or at home.

This is a big story on page 1 of Section A, and a sure finalist for next year's Atlantic Journalism awards.
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Oh, section A also has a story from the CEO of Horizon Health Network. It's about budget cuts and lay-offs. But there's no point in reading it because most of it is just mindless bafflegab that is designed to confuse rather than inform. Perhaps Norbert could use this guy for those quotations he likes to end his column with. For example, drink in this gem of wisdom, "We're going to change the way we do things and if people say 'you're changing the way you deal with me as a patient, "I would say yes, we're going to be doing that,'" he said yesterday.

Then, as bafflegabbers do, he contradicted himself. In paragraph one,  he said, "...he can't guarantee patient care won't be affected as the province cuts jobs..."   Later, he says that  quality of care won't be affected. Well, I suppose that could be possible - but not likely.

Then he makes a blooper. He says "a system that grew so consistently must have inefficiencies in it.."
Read that. He doesn't know what the 'inefficiencies' are - but they must be there. Think about that. It means they didn't know and still don't know where (or whether) there are inefficiencies. All they know is what is costs, and what they want it to cost.  This programme did not start, then, as a programme to make health care more efficient. This is just old-fashioned budget-cutting and service-cutting.

 I recognize the style. I spent years on committees with business leaders who babbled like that.

Of course, health care has become more expensive. So have CEOs, spectacularly so. Profits of big business have shot up, too, just as the rest of us have been gettinig poorer. And our government is certainly not cutting budgets when it comes to handing out money to rich people. Think Jaymie Irving who just got two and a half million dollars to operate an education programme - a job for which he has no qualifications whatever.

Way back in 1935, Prime Minister R.B.Bennett realized that simply cutting services and firing people made financial crises worse. It created more unemployed, more hungry, more sick, more undereducated, more suffering without doing anything useful except making the rich richer. Big business has never understood that. (Why should it? Unemployment and suffering simply mean it can pay less in salaries.)

But all this isn't nearly as important as the Starbucks coffee shop story. That's why Starbucks is on page 1, and the health story is on p. 10, the last page.
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Most of NewsToday is, as usual, good only for fish wrapping. However, there is one.  A clothing factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 230 workers. Police had warned factory owners to close the building because of the danger of imminent collapse. But the owners ignored the order.

This is the sort of story that has a long history in the clothng industry. In the North America of a century ago, when North American labour was cheap, hundreds worked long hours and in miserable and dangerous conditions. It was common to lock them into the factory - and common that there were no fire exits.

Such was the case at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory of New York when it burst into flames in 1911. The workers, mostly immigrant women, were on upper floors with all exits locks. One hundred and forty-six died;  many of them, burning alive, leaped from tenth floor windows.

That's when those nasty unions came in and demanded safer working conditions. So the factory owners, always on the alert for greater efficiencies, moved the factories to places - like Haiti and Bangladesh - where unions weren't allowed. That's why the US government supported dictatorships in Haiti. They kept wages down to a reasonable five dollars a day or less, no maximum hours, no education, no health care, no sanitation, no safety. It was sort of a Disney World park for the Irvings of this world.

Then Haiti had its first, democratic election, and elected an ex-priest named Aristide. He was a terrible man. He wanted to supply schooling, health care, minimum wages... US presidents were furious. So they set up an invasion by the ex-dictator's thugs, then sent in a phoney peace-keeping force (in which Canada participated). They let the thugs settle in happily; but President Aristide was arrested and sent into exile. And Haiti is now back to normal.

God bless America.

Clothing factories remain among the most wretched factories in the world. But Walmart loves them.
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The editorial is, as one might expect, a kiss-up to the health minister and (without mentioning his name) Mr. Irving. It was obviously written by someone as ignorant of the subject as is the CEO of the purpose of Horizons Network.

Norbert's column gives us the answer to terrorism. More security cameras. Right. Boy, a couple of security cameras would have stopped 9/11 cold. And maybe we could also put them up in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other places where US drones are terror-killing the locals.

Excellent column by Alec Bruce on Harper's seeming hatred of science and our environment. He has starved environmental research, closed down important stations, Threatened to cut off funding to any scientists who make the results of their research known...  He's fighting a real war to cut off our access to the truth.

I'm pretty sure I know why he's doing it.But that's a topic for a Sunday.

Steve Malloy, simply and unpretentiously as always,  today has the best column I have seen in the Times and Transcript on the subject of the Events Centre.

David Suzuki's column is an unusual one for him. It's about the effect that sitting indoors all day has on our minds and our physical health. He suggests we spend just a half hour a day outdoors, preferably with some greenery, to develop a marked improvement in our rhinking and our energy levels. This is really quite fascinating.

A letter to the editor "Be thankful for Harper, Bennett" roused mixed feelings in me. I agree with the writer that Prime Minister R.B.Bennett was a pioneer of intelligent government spending and of social programmes in the country. But I can see no possible comparison of him with Harper. The difference between them is profound.

R.B.Bennett, though a tough and successful businessman was also a man of compassion. There's an excellent book called The Wretched of Canada, edited by Michael Bliss. It's made  up of letters, dreadful and sad letters, from ordinary Canadians crushed by the Great Depression, unable to get medical care, unable even to feed their children or to clothe them decently for school, letters from people beyond desperation.

For most of his  life, Bennett had been a hard businessman, one with no sympathy for the poor and the unemployed - in fact he had been as ruthless and intolerant as they come. Then, one day in the dirty thirties, he visited the Eddy Match Co. - which, if I remember correctly, he owned at the time.

He was shocked at the working conditions he saw. He met and talked to a young girl who worked there, and was appalled at her low wage (the only support of her family), and the terrible conditions she lived under.

Then there were the letters that came every day. It's not only the letters that are fascinating in the book. It's also the note that appeared at the foot of so many of them, a note to his secretary to reply with a gift of twenty or fifty dollars from him.

Bennett was rich. But he could remember what it had been like to be poor. He could feel compassion. And, unlike Harper, he could listen to economists who didn't share his business outlooks. That combination is what led him to produce his 1935 platform, the document that became the basis for much of our world war two and postwar economic and social development.

Though both carry the label Conservative, there is no similarity in social or economic policy between  Bennett and Harper. They are products of very different social backgrounds and times. As well, Harper is a man utterly without compassion. He has never shown anything but contempt for anybody but the wealthy. No. For those who have known both R.B. Bennett and Stephen Harper through history and study, Harper is no R.B.Bennett.
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Finally, I owe a mea culpa. I said that new office buildings were being erected on the contaminated soil of Highfield Square. They look like new buildings. If fact, they are older ones undergoing a radical rebuilding. Everything has been torn out and off them so that all that is left is skeleton, the beams and uprights to hold new floors, walls, new everything. So I was wrong to say they were new buildings.

However, questions remain. The rebuilding is extreme, so these are, in effect, new buildings.Isn't that land listed as contaminated? Isn't there a reason why we call it contaminated? Isn't the reason that to work in a building on such land is dangerous to health?

And, if so, how did the owner get the permission to carry out such work? Who gave that permission? Why?

And will either building have a Starbucks coffee shop?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 25: "Renovated Dieppe liquor store reopens"

Wow! Stop the presses. The liquor store is a front page story. Lesser stories begin on p.2. "Medical society to sue province". Well, it's only our health system that's involved. That's not nearly as important as a renovated liquor store.

The medical society is charging that a cap the government is imposing on medicare fees is in violation of a legal agreement. Shame on the doctors. We know that if the government were to impose a cap on Mr. Irving's profits or to ask him to help us through these hard times with taxes on some of his record profits, he would immediately accept the decision with a smile.

There's nothing else in Section A. ...no mention of the strong protests in the US against a pipeline full of oilsands gas running across farms, towns and rivers in six states to be delivered to a state already awash in oil - Texas. So why deliver it?  Because an oil billionaire has a refinery designed to refine very dirty oil, and Texas doesn't have any. Well, gee. We wouldn't want to put a cap on his earnings.

Anyway, we know it's perfectly safe because this province  has been importing that same, dirty oil at thousands of barrels a day on a badly maintained railway. And nothing has happened.  Yet.

There's no mention of why buildings are going up on contaminated land at Highfield Square...no mention of spectacular shale gas out-of-court settlements in the US for accidents that we're told aren't happenning, anyway...nothing on expensive events centres that have been economic disasters...nothing on how moving Moncton High fits into the city development plan....
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NewsToday has another story on the Boston bombing that uses columns of loaded language to tell us nothing. A university Vice-President is quoted from a  speech in which he refers to the bombers as "two twisted, perverted, cowardly knockoff jihadis". Makes y' stop and think, don't it? Nuthing like a real great orator to make a point. 

I mean, where would those brothers get the idea it was okay to fill metal containers with explosive and metal scraps to cause an explosion that would kill a few, and maim hundreds over a wide area?

Well, they might have got it from the United States Air Force. It uses bomb cases to hold a hundred or more bomblets similar to the ones used in Boston. When the bomb case, called a cluster bomb, is dropped, the bomblets spread to cover a huge area  where they explode to kill 50 or 60, and to maim thousands. Over the last 30 or forty years, the US has dopped almost three hundred million bombs like the ones used n Boston. And, yes, some of those would certainly be eight -year old girls.

And some, many, don't explode right away. There are some millions of unexploded ones lying in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq and Afghanistan, waiting for children to come across them in their play. The Red Cross reports thousands of such deaths still happening just in Laos. Over a hundred countries have signed an agreement not to use these terrible weapons. The US refuses to sign.

Now, if those brothers had just been wearing USAF uniforms, and dropping their bombs over innocent civilians in wherever the USAF is currently bombing, they wouldn't be "two twisted, perverted, cowardly knockoff jihadis", would they.  No. They'd be heroes getting medals and shaking hands with President Obama.
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Both Norbert Cunninghan and Alec Bruce make attempts to figure out what is meant by getting at the roots of such a problem as terrorism. Both are certainly worth reading. But consider this.
Both say (or imply) "we" are good and "they" are bad. Well, once you say that, then there's no escaping the conclusion that the roots of the problem must lie with "them".

Perhaps that sort of thinking comes out of our reading (and misunderstanding) of religious thought. What is good about the West which has been conquering and plundering everybody else  for the last 500 years? What's bad about "they" when they shoot back at us?

But we're not dealing with good and bad people - just with people. It's amazing how we avoid facing that.

Many Canadian readers of this blog are descended from Americans who fled the terrorism inflicted by radical, extremist terrorists who called themselves "The Sons of Liberty". Sixty thousand refugees from that terror came to Canada. At least another sixty thousand fled to the Caribbean or Britain. It ended when those terrorists united behind a radical extremist named George Washington who was, I suppose,  a "twisted, perverted, cowardly knockoff..."

When these extremists came to power, they invaded Canada in 1812, murdering and pillaging our ancestors.  But our thinking is so twisted that we can't recognize any of that. Check your high school history texts.

According to the texts, our ancestors didn't flee the US because of persecution by terrorists. No. They fled because they were United Empire Loyalists. (Isn't that a neat way to dodge the issue?) And did the US invade and murder Canadians in 1812? Well, they was just funnin'. Heck, we've just completed a year of actually celebrating that invasion. The message of the celebration? Well, the war happened; but not really. Hyuck, hyuck.

We use loaded words. We twist them. We don't see what we don't want to see. And we have dreadfully simple, almost cartoon, images of what us humans are like.

And that makes it hard for us to see the root of any problem.
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On the op ed page, the place of serious analysis, we get another glimpse into the fascinating life of Rod Allen, revealed to us with that flashing wit of a master raconteur. I laugh helplessly every week when he refers to his children as The Brats, and the eldest as Brat No. 1.  There is just no end to the wit.
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Beth Lyons uses her "Equality Time" column to better and more intelligent effect. She looks at a beauty advertising campaign to see what it says about itself. Then she does what a good columnist can do. She sees what is really there.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 23: Let's look in a mirror.....

...because there's nothing much in today's Times and Tribune. Mostly, it's trivia, village chatter and smiling people holding up giant cheques for worthy causes. The editorial is about (Surprise!) how shale gas is good for you.

On the op ed page, Alec Bruce contributes a thoughtful article about what is happening to the environment movement and why, even as its numbers grow, its impact is diminishing. On the op ed page, Brian Cormier has a column that is really my starting point for this blog.

He writes about the horror of the Boston bombing, and the impossibility of understanding how a person could be so deranged as to do something like that.

The answer is they do it because they are people.  But we don't recognize that we are people - very much like those bombers. And so we look at the bombers, and we see deranged animals. But we look in a mirror, and.....well, Brian Cormier doesn't see a deranged monster in the mirror - and neither do we.

Part of the problem is the sloppy by emotional way we use words. Recently, the New York Times carried a headline saying the Boston bombers were Islamist extremists. Okay.

Within memory, Britain and the US invaded Moslem Iraq, saying that Iraq was a threat because it had weapons of mass destruction. We know now that no such weapons were there. We also know that Blair and Bush knew that no weapons were there. They lied. There's no question about it.

As a result over a million moslems (yes, including children, the elderly, you name it) were killed. Nobody knows how many were crippled. There are, today, over a million orphans in Iraq, a country that cannot even supply electricity, whose whole infrastructure lies in ruins, and whose major reconstruction has been the building of the biggest, most heavily fortified US embassy in the world. So what is left to help those orphans? Nothing.

And Blair and Bush? Both are now extremely wealthy. (Bush can get more money for one speech than the average Canadian will earn in eight years of full-time work.) Both are devout Christians.

Have you noticed any headlines referring to the horrors inflicted on innocent people, on thousands of times as many innocent people as were killed or injured in Boston? Have you ever caught the term "Chritianist extremists" in there?

For the last 500 years, Christian nations have been the cruelest and most murderous people on earth, building vast empires that enslaved millions and, in the course of the American slave trade alone killing an estimated 60,000,000 people. There was also a slave trade in our native peoples  (with the average native slave in Canada having a life expectancy of about 21.) You didn't read about that in your Canadian history book? No. Probably not.

Christians murdered, tortured and enslaved throughout Africa, Asia, and the Americas. They still do. The US maintained murderous dictatorships throughout Central America that guaranteed American business with a supply of cheap labour without regard to deadly pollution caused by mining and other practices. They still do that, too. That's why the Christians of the CIA and the Guatemalan army murdered a quarter of a million men, women and children. And that's why most of our news media never reported it.

(They also murdered Christian missionaries who, well, who weren't good, Christian extremists like them.)

Over the centuries it has been common for Christian leaders to bless this record of murder and slavery and exploitation on the grounds that all those other religions were  inferior - as were the people who believed in them. Obviously, God intended us Christians to rule. Just read a few of Rudyard Kipling's poems to get the idea. Start with "The White man's burden". To this day, it is common for the elite of societies in Central America to made up of those who are fully of Spanish descent or who have lighter skins as a result of mixed ancestries.

The US controlled Haiti through such people in the days of the dictators. The same is true of Venezuela where the US supports the anti-Chavez groups.

Years ago, my research involved examining the letters of a senior Christian  clergyman in Canada, letters written about 1910. I still remember the exultation in one of them. "Hurrah for our king. Hurrah for our Empire. Hurrah for our brave soldiers who go out to add here and there more lands and people to our Empire."  That would include, of course, those brave soldiers who made it possible for wealthy English to confiscate lands and enslave people in India to grow poppies and process them into opium. Those brave soldiers, Christians to a man, then killed Chinese to force their government to buy the opium and distribute it.

Yes, there are Christian extremists. And extremes of any sort breed extremes on the other side. We all have that terrible tendency to extremism because, contrary to what Rudyard Kipling said, we are all people who share the same failings.

Brian Cormier is struck by the deranged behaviour of a 19 year old who killed a young girl in Boston. And he just can't understand it. As he says in closing, "When I was 19, I was also young and stupid. At least we have that in common."

Well, let's look in the mirror. This time, let's try hard to see all the millions of young girls burned to death by napalm, vaporized in bombings, cut down by drones, blasted by land mines - all of it the work of Christian extremists, people just like most of us.

Brian, you and I and all of us have a lot in common. And having once been young and stupid is the least of it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April 23: ...a must read....

Almost all of today's TandT is a dead loss. Most of it is just boring, babbling about trivialities, mostly local, while ignoring even local stories that call for attention. But there is one item well worth reading. It's Gwynne Dyer's column about nations and their news media often blow stories out of all proportion.

For example, the idea of North Korea or Iraq (or Syria or Afghanistan or Libya or Yemen or Somalia) being threats to us is absurd. Yet, our governments routinely lie to us about the dangers posed by these countries. And our news media buy it every time. Why do they lie to us?

There are several, closely related reasons.

Instilling fear in us helps the armed forces and the defence industries to get billions of dollars for weapons we don't need. It was immediately after the Boston bombing that the US announced plans to install anti-missile defences all the way up its West coast and Alaska to protect it against a North Korean missile attack. It asked the Canadian government to do the same, particularly to cover the Arctic.

North Korea has few missiles, and none that could get anywhere close to North America. And any use of it by one missile anywhere would mean it would be obliterated. But the village idiots we call a government are busily considering spending billions on this threat that doesn't exist. Ever notice when the threat of "terrorism" developed? It was right after the collapse of the USSR. Of course. We have lost an enemy to hate. We needed a new one.

The blind hatred created by false news enables governments to get away with mass murder, illegal invasions (think Iraq and "weapons of mass destruction") - and torture. After all, they aren't people. They're inferior to us. That's been the belief of any empire that ever existed, the belief that those other people are "lesser breeds".

The hatred and fear also wins our consent for wars that are essentially to benefit big business. Why was the US in Iraq? To steal oil. Why is France in Mali? To steal minerals. Even wars that do not seem to have any connection with big business can be entirely for big business. A war with North Korea, for example, would give US business a major military base to hem in China, and reduce China's power to expand its economic outreach.

So we live in a bizarre world in which small and poor countries of no great military power are, we are convinced, terrible, terrible threats to us.

Oh, yes. The fear and hatred also make it possible for countries like the US and Canada to develop police states in which constitutional standards of freedom are sharply reduced. The US is ahead of us, there. But Harper might well catch up. He'll have to hurry, though. American senators are alreay demanding that all American Moslems be subject to regular surveillance.

In order to maintain the fear and hatred, police and other agencies often encourage terrorist news by picking out dupes to commit themselves to a terrorist act. They will be supplied with materials, instructions, plans up to the last minute. Then they are arrested in a brilliant display of saving the nation from yet another terrorist attack.

No, I'm not a great believer in conspiracy theories. But what a coincidence that two terrorists planning to attack a Via Rail train should have been caught byAmerican-Canadian cooperation at just the same time as the Boston affair and the same time as the appeal to build a missile defence line.

Meanwhile, - how many reports have you read of the western terrorism that has killed millions of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, all over Africa, Guatemala - all of them, course, dangerous threats to innocent Americans. And who knows? Cuba or Venezuela could invade the US any day.

For a comparison of  news discussion of this issue, first  read Gwynne Dyer. Then look to the column above him, a column of trivial bilge on the same subject, this time by Alan Cochrane, editor-at-large of the Moncton Times and Transcript. (But at least he didn't talk about his guitar in it.)
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There should have been a story in today's paper about  hopper cars going off the track on a section of the NB Southern Railway at St. John. That's a railway owned by the man who owns the TandT - and there's a suggestion that the line in general is badly in need of better maintenance. (At least, that was the impression given in an editorial of a week or so ago that called for federal money to repair railway lines.) Isn't this the same line that carries tens of thousands of barrels of Alberta crude to St. John  every day?  Doesn't Mr. Irving know how tough Mr Alward is on environmental safety?

Then - I note two large buildings going up in Highfield Square. Isn't that all registered as contaminated land? Isn't there a law requiring the clearing of all contaminated soil before such building? Could the TandT put some of its keenest newshounds on this one to let us know what's going on?  I mean, it's just across the street from the TandT office.

Then there's a note I received from a contact in the civil service. It's all about the new, Sigma Six administration that Mr. Alward (speaking in an imitation of Mr. Irving's voice) has imposed on the civil service. How's it doing?

Well, a high percentage of new hires are, by requirement, casuals. That's policy. Typically, they're on a one year term with no renewable benefits. Their training in the field they work in varies from zero to poor. They're limited ability to make decisions means that most questions they deal with have to be sent up the line of bureaucracy for any decision. Very efficient.

Department projects which apply for funds have to present statistics to show what it intends to do - and they have to show there will be results within three months. (There's the big business mind set, again. The future means three months - tops.) For many issues with which civil servants have to deal, the three month time limit for results is impossible. They often have to deal with people - and you can't always change people in three months. Education improvements that will show up in statistics in three months? Good luck. Pyschiatric or psychological problems that will be all fixed in three months?

Judgement of performance is based on meeting statistical targets. It's a sort of system designed by geniuses to be run by idiots. What happens in that kind of system is that it becomes dominated by those people who learn how to play the game and just concentrate on producing good statistics. Their work is typically unimaginative, uncreative, and of no practical value whatever. We no longer produce a service. We just produce the numbers that middle management wants to see so that it can become upper management.

I saw systems rather like this (though less formal) in universities. It's quite common. That's why universities are such stinking teaching institutions.

A system of robots managed by robots who answer to an upper management of robots is of doubtful value even in business. In any organization, like the civil service, in which employees have to respond to human needs and the all the variations in behaviour that we people are, robot, statistical operations are a disaster.

We are going to pay one hell of a price for the constant interference of the Irvings in our government, our schools, our hospitals, in our daily lives. If there is one, key problem New Brunswickers have to deal with, it's the problem of getting the Irvings to behave like citizens of a free society with respect for all of us, and not as arrogant barons who can use us or toss us aside at their convenience.

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22: Let's be controversial....

... but we won't do it in Section A. This is a real, nothing section. The big story, "Riverview poised for growth", is even a bigger yawn than one might expect. The map of the growth looks like 1950 all over again. Obviously, Riverview has even less of a growth plan than Moncton does.
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Let's talk a bit about the Boston bombing.

We can all agree it was terrible, and that our hearts go out to the three who were killed, the many more who were wounded (some quite terribly), and their grieving families and friends.

Now, let's consider other elements of the story.

Many of the stories mention that the terrorists were from Chechen, a Moslem section of Russia that has been in revolt for decades. And there are suggestion the terrorists learned their craft in Chechen. Gee. And where would the people of Chechen learn about terrorism?

Well, they were taught by the CIA, back in the days it was training both Chechens and the Taliban (and Al Quaeda) all about terrorism so they could kill Russians. (It's not a secret. In fact, the CIA quite openly bragged about it when the Russians were finally chased out of Afghanistan.)

I never saw any criticism in our news of terrorism when our side was teaching it, and supplying the weapons.

Terrorism has a long history in western Europe and North America. Just wihin the last century, we were the leaders in developing terror bombing of civilians. It was first done by American mercenary pilots working for Italy in North Africa shortly before World War 1. The Germans followed with dirigible raids on London, then, in Spain, with the bombing of Guernica. Churchill, as secretary of colonies in the 1920s, ordered the bombing of Kurd villages.  Much of the Allied bombing of Germany in World War Two was terror bombing aimed at civlians - notably the British attack on Dresden. Bombers of those days were so inaccurate that much of the bombing had to be of civilians - and so methods were developed to maximise civilian deaths.

The fire bombing of Tokyo in World War Two (worse than the atomic bombs) was intended largely for civilian homes - made of wood. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were terror raids. (oh, I know. I know. This was good terror to end the war -  there's good and bad terror just like good and bad torture. It just depends on who's doing it.)

Then there was the terror bombing of Cambodia that killed at least half a million civilians, and the terror bombing and poisoning of Vietnam that killed more millions than will ever be counted.

Currently, Obama is busy killing civilians on a daily basis in four or five countries - and without the silly formality of going to war. He is also, with friends like Saudi Arabia, arming, supplying and training the Al Quaeda (and affiliated terrorists) who are turning Syria into a hell.

Have you ever, in any of our news media, heard a word of sympathy for the millions who have been tortured, murdered, crippled, orphaned by our terrorism?

You went to church on Sunday? Was there a prayer for the three victims of terror in Boston? Ever heard a prayer for the millions of victims of our terror all over the world?

The result of the biased news coverage we get is to create hysteria and paranoia in our own countries. These attacks are presented as if there is no reason for them; and they are acts we would never, never do. Those "other people" must be animals. We have to hate.

What's why we are fighting "wars against terrorism". The wars are really to establish Western military dominance because military dominance makes economic dominance possible. But that's just greed - and you can't tell a nation to go to war to make our greediest and richest even richer. You need a villain. You need to make people hate. You also need an excuse to make your own country into a police state.

It's now over a dozen years that we've been "fighting terrorism".  Well, more like fifty years if you count them there Cubans who might invade the US any day. Oh, and them there Venezuelans.

Hysteria works. As a reaction to North Korean threats to test fire a missile and rumours that Iran is developing a nuclear bomb, the US now proposes to spend uncounted billions on a missile shield - and wants us to join. How nice for the US defence industry.

Never mind that North Korea and Iran have no missile that could possibly reach this part of the world. Never mind that US intelligence and the UN both say Iran is NOT developing a bomb. You don't have to think. You're not supposed to t hink. Your supposed to hate.

Oh, the US is now selling Israel refueling aircraft. These would make it possible for Israeli bombers to reach a distant target like, say, Iran. Israel says Iran will have a nuclear bomb within months. It's been saying that for over a dozen years.

The US and Canada have both publicly announced they would join Israel if such a war were to start. So much for the exclusive power of parliament and congress to declare war.
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For those thirsting to hear even more about a Moncton events centre, read the editorial and Alec Bruce.

For a sample of the value of terrorism in promoting hysteria, read Norbert. He praises the courage of the people of Boston when faced with a bombing that killed three. I must have missed his columns on the courage of those millions of innocent people who have died in resisting our terrorism.

Norbert says good policing is the way to handle this. No, Norbert. The way to handle this with honest news services that tell us WHY it's happening. Then we can deal with the cause, and not just with the misguided perpetrators and their victims.

On the op ed page, Craig Babstock has the usual piece of trivia. Allen Abel begins well but, as always, has no point to make.





Sunday, April 21, 2013

April 21: Sunday ruminations...

Many years ago, while teaching in China (Canadian history, of all things), I had a student who graduated to become one of the wealthiest men in China. Then, after he married and became  the father of two children, he came to Montreal to see me and, more important, for me to meet his wife and his children. He registered at the most expensive suite in the most expensive hotel in Montreal, the one where the Montreal rich kept their mistresses, and where Brian Mulroney was a regular at the bar. He was picked up at the airport by the hotel's Rolls-Royce. And so it was that I met his wife and his two children. They were delightful; and he had good reason to be proud of them. of them.

It was one of those dreadfully hot, city days. His wife asked if I would like a glass of water. I sure would. She brought me a glass, and I tipped it back for the delicious cold to hit my throat.

Yech! It was warm, almost hot. I had forgotten.

In China, clean water is almost unobtainable. In the rush to industrialization, rivers became dumping grounds for toxic chemicals, rubbish of all sorts - and even human waste. (That's not unusual, particularly where mining operations are involved. Canadian mining companies are known around the world for the environmental devastation they cause, and for the brutality they use against anybody who objects.)

Chinese waterways are so  dangerously polluted that many cannot be used for irrigation - let alone drinking. Even in the cities, which treat the water, it is usually unsafe to drink. Those few who can afford it, drink imported, bottled water. The rest boil their drinking water for at least some measure of protection.

That came to mind as I thought of Harper's bizarre legislation that removed environmental protection from most streams and lakes in Canada. We know that he wants to bring more mining and oil companies into Canada, whatever damage it may cause.  He's particularly eager to bring in the Chinese - so eager that he is prepared to sell out Canada, even to accepting the sort of terms the West usually forces on third-world countries.

In the most notorious agreement, a Chinese company will be permitted to import its own workers (at its own wage scales), even for jobs that millions of Canadians are quite capable of doing. It will also be permitted for the Chinese company to sue Canada if any environmental laws interfere with its profits - and the suit can be conducted in any country, and in a secret court.

Well, I guess that's strong reason to weaken our environmental laws. But to strip them entirely from 95% of our fresh water?

That's when I thought of that glass of warm water in a Montreal hotel.

China does have some clean, fresh water - at least a much as we do. But it's not nearly enough for two billion people. It never has been - and it's getting worse, fast, in the rush to industrialize and urbanize. China wants our fresh water. But our fresh water environmental protections would have blocked such a massive export of water.

Somebody at Irving press must know this. It is not possible that all of them should be as dumb as they appear to be. But you will never read a word about it in those papers.

 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

April 20: This newspaper is an insult to all of us.

Obviously, the owners, editors and writers are either complete jackasses - or they think we're all fools enough to buy and read a paper that has virtually nothing in it. I would not dream, of course, of calling them jackasses (despite a superficial resemblance). So I have to assume they think we're all fools.

Page 1, the "read it all about it" page of a real newspaper, is here dominated by trivia like how busy it can get in a 911 centre, and memorabilia about the old days of television in Moncton. The inside of the whole, first section is dominated by ads, trivia, and even more about life in a 911 centre and the good old days of 1950s TV.

If I were a journalism professor in this province, I would make it my first move to dissociate myself from these clowns and my second to find work in a journalism school in another province.

The NewsToday section has three stories. Count them. Three, none of them worth reading. The only thing worth looking at is two pictures of the Boston bombing case. One is a picture of a downtown Boston that is almost deserted - just like the rest of the city - because police are looking for one teenager who might have a gun.

Too bad the people of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and other places don't have that option to dodge American drones and bombers.

The other picture is of a half dozen or so Boston police who were searching for the 19 year old boy who might be a bomber. Take a good look at the clothing and weapons. It's a remarkable illustration of how American police forces have become militarized. Is that because the US is full of terrorists? Well, no. It's because the US has millions of people living in desperate conditions, and who no longer have faith in their government. The American police are investing in military weapons and armoured cars - and spying drones - not to fight terrorists but to fight the American people.

The lead story in Section D tells us that real estate agents sell houses. Who would have guessed?
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On the editorial page, Bill Belliveau has a column on how we gotta have an events centre. Gee! What a coincidence! Every columnist and editorial writer in this paper who has written on the events centre has been in favour of it. I cannot recall a single item in this paper that has ever expressed criticism. A councillor who did  criticize it was roundly condemned. At that, they avoided the issue, and condemned him for not being polite enough.

The only public "discussion" of the centre has been in the form of tightly choreographed team of cheerleaders from London, Ontario.  None of the quick and probing minds at the TandT seems to have noticed that, for a project of the same cost (if ours comes in at budget, which it won't), London has three times the city population of Moncton. AND - London estimates its catchment area  at a radius of 100 kilometres. There are lots of people in that radius of London.  There aren't in that radius of Moncton.

Then there's the hockey team. It's bread and butter for the London arena, filling its ten thousand seats regularly. That's not likely to happen here.

And, the big shows - which are almost weekly in London - have prices that start over a hundred dollars and go up quickly. We have far fewer people, lower incomes, and our politicians tells us we have to cut pensions, fire hospital staff, and generally cut spending to survive. So where will all the big bucks come from for tickets?

Any study of events centres across North America will show that most don't make money. Almost all have a heavy smell of sleaze and scam and corruption about them. And many of them stand, like Montreal's Expo stadium, once magnificent, now empty,  rotting, dangerous eyesores.

The editorial is, as usual, ignorance hiding behind buzzwords. As usual, it's all about how ordinary people have to pay for the record profits hauled in by the super-rich. (And it would be rude to mention the trillions of dollars in tax havens.)

Norbert writes across three topics, once again in a remarkable display of saying nothing about any of them.

Brent Mazerolle begins his column well but, as he admits in his second to last paragraph, there's really no point to it. He's on the right track, though. This city pays remarkably little attention to the condition of housing and of neighbourhoods. Much of it is wood, and dreadfully vulnerable to decay and neglect. Much of it was substandard from the beginning. There is a serious lack of affordable housing. And there appears to be no city planning at all.

I think Gwynne Dyer's column is a good one. But it's very complex, partly because it's so far outside the experience of most readers ( including me.).
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And that leaves us with the Faith page.

This time, for the first time in my experience, we have a guest columnist who has produced a column worth reading. "Don't ask me to keep my beliefs inside the church."

He does not say that any church should have the right to impose its views on other people or on governments. And I certainly agree that no such thing should be permitted. But a religion is a set of prinicples that should influence what public actions we support and what ones we oppose and how we vote. There are important elements of religious faith (and certainly not just the Christian brands) that should influence what we think about how business should be run, how we should pay taxes - and who should be paying - what social services should be in place...

Those attitudes are not incompatible with sound and economical government. Tommy Douglas, the Baptist clergyman who was premier of Saskatchewan for many years, ran a government that not only provided the services his religious values demanded, but was also a model of  keeping costs down. He was also the father of the greatest single piece of legislation this country has known - medicare.

His party, the CCF (now the NDP) had many in it who were there precisely to express their religious values. (It's been rare for clergy to run for office. Those who do have generally run CCF and NDP.)

We are not now living in a crisis caused by a campaign of any religious group. It is caused by big business which operates on no religious principles whatever.

We live in a society that operates on a denial of religious values in making any decisions. I can see nothing in the liberals or conservatives of this nation that reflects any value of any religion I have ever heard of.

Among the very rich, the only gospel is that greed is good, that the money they accumulate is theirs, all theirs, that is just  good sense to drive most of the nation lower into poverty so they can make money for themselves, and that murdering Africans, Asians, Latin Americans in order to steal their resources is perfectly respectable, and torture is a "good thing".

So I quite agree with Pastor Jackson.The trouble is that I don't see many church people or their clergy tackling the stunningly irreligious and even cruel nature of our economic and political leadership. Instead, they prefer self-righteous posturing on issues like homosexuality. They won't tolerate that. But, if a wealthy family wants to skip its religious obligation to share, and instead hides its money in tax havens - hey! that's there business.

And if a newspaper wants to peddle scams, attack the poor for a crisis caused by the rich, and smother us with trivia we won't know how we're being shafted - well, at least it  has a Faith Page.

Incidentally, a few years ago, it was First United Baptist Church  that had a big sign on it, "Pray for OUR soldiers in Afghanistan". Think about that. And tell me how it fits into a gospel of 'love thy neighbour".  Far from expressing any religious faith, it's a not-very-subtle statement of religious hatred.

That seems to be a disease that most religions are vulnerable to.
 

Friday, April 19, 2013

April 19: What the hell......

..well, before that an apology. For some reason much of my blog is coming up in some language I have never seen before - so I end up pushing the wrong buttons.
And - five minutes ago, I  had just finished the whole blog - when it disappeared. So I have to start all over again. I am not a happy camper.
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Okay. Section A, p. 4. An elected councillor has been removed from the Anglophone East DEC.

This person, elected by voters of his school district, was fired by a secret meeting which held a secret vote based on a secret charge.
The sin? A violation of Code of Conduct policy 2.6, regulation 48, section (1) (b). And what is Code of Conduct policy 2.6, regulation 48, section (1)(b)? Who knows? Chair Tamara Nichol didn't say. And, incredibly, the reporter seems not to have asked.
An outsider was called in to confirm the decision. What outsider? With what qualifications?Nobody said. Nobody asked.
What did the councillor do? Goose the chair? Apparently, we'll never know.
How many votes were for and how many against? We'll never know.
Nor will the voters get a chance to elect a new councillor. Instead, the chair will ask all the Parent School Support Committees to name up to three people - and the minister of education will appoint one of them. Democracy in action.
As a sidenote to that, I should add that in all my experience of education I have known such parent groups to be useful for serving tea and raising funds. And that's it. A few years ago,when the Irving Press launced a series of brutal, ignorant and lying attacks on the schools, I was in touch with both the provincial and local PSSTs and Home and Schools, and found both of them utterly useless.

That a public body should be permitted to operate in such secrecy is scandalous. That it should be reported without fundamental questions even being raised is something that would fail this report in any first year course in Journalism - and, yes, I have taught journalism.

But I don't want to blame the reporter. The choice on what stories appear and on what they say is a choice of the editor. And whoever this one is, this is one miserable specimen of an editor. It must be profoundly embarassing for a jouranlism school to be turning out staff for Irving Press.
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Page 1 - read "Health job cuts coming" - and weep. 400 jobs are being cut - with no effect on health services? Bull and shit. The source of this information is the usual one for those animal products, Health Minister Flemming. And the cuts have nothing to do with making service more efficient.

The cuts are happening because Mr. Irving  has imposed a variety of business management method on the whole civil service. It's a system that has nothing to do with efficiency except in very narrow sense. It saves money. It does not improve service. Big business doesn't give a damn about service. It cares only about hanging on to its money. The health service is not going to get better. It is going to get worse. How nice for Mr. Irving who, almost certainly, doesn't use it - and would be happy to pay even less in taxes if the peasantry lost medicare altogether.

Mr. Flemming will growl at employees and janitors and nurses and drivers. But he can be counted on to wag his stumpy little tail when Mr. Irving barks at him.

The saving will be some $21 million dollars. And this is the response of a government and a press that is all hot to spend over a hundred million on a hockey rink. Great sense of priorities, Moncton. Hey - and we gotta borrow some more for a CFL team.

Nor does this make sense in the context of a recession. Economists have known for some eighty years that firing people just makes recessions worse for the poor and middle class - though it does make them highly profitable for big business. That's happening now as big business is making its biggest profits in history while we're firing health workers and cutting EI - and cutting wages.

There's a federal study on this - "Report on Price Spreads and Mass Buying". You might want to lend a copy to Mr. Flemming - if you can find an edition that tells the story in pictures.
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On the editrorial page, Alec Bruce is---well---disappointing. He's writing for a paper that has, without shame, been pimping for the events centre on an almost daily basis. I cannot recall a single story which has told the truth about how many events centres, hockey rinks, etc. have been economic disasters and long term drains on the public purse. And almost all have been marked by influence peddling, land deals that smell like a skunk's early-morning breath - and without any of the promised benefits.

The only public meeting we have had on the centre was a recent propaganda/pimping display that mentioned none of the dangers. I know that Bruce must be under pressure to get on board. But it's sad to seem a columnist of his quality mixing with the scum of the world of journalism.
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Norbert? Well he opens with a mini rant against the journalistic standards of the CBC. Next, he'll tell us he's prettier than Justin Trudeau, and take off his shirt on Main St. to prove it.

Then he talks about a study which he claims says that "tweeting" creates intellecutal, moral and ethical decay in our society. Actually, the study shows that there is a link between "tweeting" and those characteristics. But didn't it occur to Norbert that causation could be working the other way? It could be that the intellectual, moral and ethical decay of our economic, political and journalistic leadership is what has caused "tweeting".
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The op ed page has yet another column by the oil industry pushing for shale gas. How many columns critical of shale gas have you seen in this paper? Where are the stories about the very big and very recent stories of shale gas damage - not to mention the related stories of the frequency of massive pipeline spills such as the one in Arkansas?

But big business doesn't think of these things. Of course, shale gas and oil are enormously destructive. But the destruction could take 10 years. Big business thinks me first, and me only, a greed and self-absorption that means it can never plan for more than three months or so ahead. That's how the banks led us into a crisis that still  has a long way to go. And, what the hell, big business isn't suffering - just you.
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And bless you, Steve Malloy. He's at the top of the op ed page, and into that top he squeezes more insight and common sense than you will find in all the rest of the whole Irving press for today. And it's all done with a simply expressed honesty.

We are, only a little less than Americans, fearing and hating people. We're being abused by our own leaders -and we're looking for foreigners to blame it on. As well, the US is, without doubt, the world's most vicious terrorist, killing and torturing innocent people on a world scale. It's all to make more money for big business - to recapture the old empires, to rip out their resources while murdering,torturing  and debasing their people. The Boston bombs that blew up a child in Boston happen every day in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia. Big business and governments need to get people scared and filled with hatred to support that.

So they use news agencies - like the Irving Press, Associated Press, Fox News, National Post to fan the hatred and fear. You can see it every day in the choice of words those news media use. And they make heroes of men who sit in front of video games sets to murder children on the other side of the world.

There are so many we  have to hate - Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, the Maya peasants of Guatemala, Mali, Lebanon,...and so it goes. And we have to learn to fear and hate anybody who opposes the wise killing of our governments - "liberals", environmentalists, champions of free speech...kill 'em all. And we send 'peacekeepers' to destroy the only democracy Haiti ever had after almost a century American dictators.

But you won't find much news about that.
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And among the missing news today is a UN report that child poverty in the US has reached one child in seven - one of the highest rates in the developed world - even worse than Greece which is an economic disaster area. Nor is Canada any hell on wheels with its score of one in ten - well down in world rankings.

What causes such poverty? Oh - firing health workers, cutting EI.... It's also caused by the rich who stick their noses into the schools to make money out of them. The objective of the schools ceases to be education just as the objective of hospitals has ceases to be healing. The objective is to make money. But there's no money to be made out of poor kids. So the hell with them. It's already happened in the US where education for the poor and the lower middle class has effectively been destroyed. Think of the Irving intrusions into our schools in the same way.

That's how the Irving brand of capitalism destroys itself - and, unfortunately, us.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 18: I'm actually starting this on April 17....

...guessing what won't be in tomorrow's TandT.

You won't find any mention of the pipeline spill of Alberta tarsands oil in Arkansas. It's hard enough to find much even on the web, and police are keeping the press at a distance. The spillage is huge, covering miles of land, lakes and streams. I saw a video of the area taken from a helicopter that evaded the police. I was surprised to see big ice floes on the water - I mean, this is Arkansas. But they weren't ice floes.

They were millions of paper towels dropped by Exxon to clean up.

Press coverage is heavily censored - by the news media themselves. It's not possible even to get a reliable estimate of the spillage, though all figures begin with thousands of barrels of thick, heavy tarsands oil.

Nor is the spillage unusual. In fact, it's only a small part of the pipeline spillage that has been rising spectatularly for the last five years. Hey! we want a share of that in our homes and our streams. Why should the US get it all?

Why the rush for this extraordinarily dangerous oil? Because it's cheap to produce, and the oil companies and their political flunkies like Harper and Alward want to reap the profits while they can. We know how destructive such dirty oil can be just in the process of refining it, not to mention the damage of burning it. We know that there is going to be one hell of a price for it down the road.

But big business and its political flunkies don't look down the road. That's not their problem. They don't care what happens in the future; and they don't care who gets hurt. All that counts is profit - now.

But, duh, we can get jobs in building a pipeline... Yeah. You can get some jobs. Some. For a little while. But your children will pay one hell of a price for those jobs. In fact, there is every possibility you will pay one hell of a price.

Hookers know what they're getting into. They know that every encounter is dangerous. They know the risk of STDs that can kill them. They know that it gets worse as they get older and hooked, themselves, on alcohol and drugs. And they know a day comes when it's all over, a day when the lives of other women are just getting into full stride.

The Times and Transcript isn't going to carry a story about the Arkansas oil spill. No way. They want to make hookers of us, hookers for Irving Oil. And that tarsands oil is the same stuff that's coming into New Brunswick at tens of thousands of barrels a day on railway tracks that the Truthful Times and Transcript tells us are badly in need of repair.

There won't be a story that Al Queda followers and associates fighting on the "rebel" side in Syria are already establishing local governments in Syria - under the strictest sharia law, rather like Moncton City Council being made up entirely of severe Jehovah's Witnesses.

Isn't it nice that Al Quaeda is doing so well with weapons and money supplied by the western powers? Yet one more brilliant stroke of American diplomacy.

Of, course, the west is interested only in establishing democracy and American values. That's why our major ally in the struggle against dictator Assad is the king of Saudi Arabia, the absolute dictator of his country, and a cruel one whose actions are almost never reported in our press, who rolls in pits of money while millions of his people live in poverty.

But not to worry. You won't have to read any of this nasty stuff. In fact, we might even get another news story about the events centre on p. 1.  Oh, boy!
______________________________________________________________________________ And now - todays' paper.   PRE-DICT-A-BLE. "Moncton urged to chase events centre dream". And get that choice of words. It's not visiting director of events centre advocates such a centre for Moncton. No. That would be boring.  But you and me, we're not working on an events centre. No. We're wearing glowing, white gowns with flowers in our hair, running barefoot over the grass to "chase a dream".

The speaker was the director of Downtown London, Ontario, which boasts an events centre with seating for 10,000. She didn't mention that London is some six times the size of Moncton, and has a greater London far greater than greater Moncton.

This "public information meeting" had nobody to deliver the other side of the story. It makes one wonder. Who paid for this carnival pitch? I'll bet it was you and me. Perhaps that's something we should ask Mayor Leblanc.

Oh, the third paragraph of the story says "....the city  (London) once was decimated by urban sprawl..." Perhaps an elementary school class in Moncton can do a dictionary exercise, and write a letter to the editor of the TandT,  telling him what "decimated" really means. That's the sort of thing a real editor is supposed to know.
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Very sad to read about the death of Rita MacNeil. She was a lovely person, and a singer in an age when singers had good voices, and knew how to sing. She never had to wear a gown that glowed in the dark with fireworks going off behind her as she screamed and jumped into the air while playing the only three guitar chords she knew. She was a real person who could really sing.
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Nothing much in NewsToday. Apparently the news editors are unaware that we are watching the second "scramble for Africa". The first one dates back to something over a hundred and fifty years ago when Britain, France, Belgium, Germany and Spain fought a series of wars to exploit African resources while enslaving, butchering, torturing, starving the people of Africa.

Weakened by World War Two, the western countries had to pull out, leaving behind them chaos, misery, poverty. And, in South Africa, a stunning level of racism.

Now, led by the US, they're coming back. They come back, often, under the cover of being NATO "peacekeepers" or in an even bigger lie, to get rid of evil dictators and establish democracy. But they are really the same, old butchers they used to be. And we're on their side.

There's an urgency to it this time. The job has to be done before China and Russia make inroads into Africa.

But there can't be any reason to worry about it. The TandT doesn't have a single story on Africa; and if they had one, it still wouldn't tell us anything.
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The lead editorial is about - surprise!surprise! - the proposed events centre. And would you believe it? The editorial writer is in favour of the centre. Wow! So it must be a great idea.
The second to the lead editorial expresses condolences to the people of Boston for the bombing deaths. And quite reasonably so.
Children and other innocent people all over the world get killed every day by drones and bombing raids. In the Iraq war, children and innocent people were killed in their hundreds of thousands, and millions of others are orphans or cripples. A quarter million innocent people were slaughtered in Gutaemala.
How come we don't express condolences for them?
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Alec Bruce has good advice for the newly-elected Liberal leader. Too bad the new leader won't pay any attention to it. New Brunswick has made its old blunder. It has elected a young lawyer on the make, eager to make his mark with - guess who? Thank you for your contribution, Kent county.

Norbert writes about nothing in particular - unless you're really, really interested in light bulb technology.
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Oh op ed, Rod Allen tells us yet another story about his not-very-interesting life, all written in the wordy prose he seems to consider sophisticated. Lord, what a horror it would be to travel in a compartment with him for the whole length of the trans-Siberian railway.

Luckily, the page is shared by Jody Dallaire who makes an important point. Bullying is not just a bad behaviour; it's criminal behaviour. I attended an elementary school notorious for its bullying and its production of criminals. I well remember how bullying destroyed the lives of so many of the children in that school. I recently heard of a classmate who, to this day, lives the life of a terrified hermit as a result of that experience.

What's worse is that the hatred that leads to bullying is actively taught in our news media. Just in my own life, the news media (inspired by our political leaders) have encouraged me at various times to hate Germans, Italians, North Koreans, Chinese, Russians, Argentines, Cubans, Afghanis, Iraqis, Moslems. And there are more to come, starting with Venezuelans.

My French and Scottish ancestors taught me to hate the English, even as the English community I lived in taught me to hate the French. My great-great uncle who fought in the Riel Rebellion hated the Metis and the native peoples, just as the French Decaries hated Americans in 1812. I really need a calendar to know who I'm supposed to hate each day.

Jody Dallaire's column is a very good one. Hatred and bullying are serious crimes, far more serious than we treat them. And both run so deep in our society because they are encouraged by political leaders, by economic leaders, by news media, and even by some churches.
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There is a "Letter of the Day" that I would have been kind to - if the writer had not said that those who oppose shale gas are thinking with emotion, not facts.

In the first place, there are plenty of facts about shale gas that give cause for deep concern; in fact, there is an abundance of scientific research and scientific warning.

In the second place, how on earth would the writer (or the half-wit politician he quotes) know that opponents of shale gas are working purely on emotion - and don't know any facts? Does he know them all? Has he seen studies? That's just a foolish statement.

Then he comes to his "facts". He has read the rules for shale gas development. Well, yes, it is a fact that there are rules, and lots of them.  But it is not a fact the existence of rules makes shale gas safe.
There are rules about pipelines, too. Lots of rules. That has not stopped massive leaks, like the recent one in Arkansas.

There are rules about driving cars.  That has not prevented cars from dangerously polluting our atmophere, or from killing people by the thousands ever year.

The writer admits himself that there is a risk. Think hard now. If there is a risk, that means anti-shale gas people are NOT working on emotion, but on fact. In other words, the writer contradicts himself.

Then he says he believes it is worth the risk??????? What fact is this based on? None. This is purely emotional.

Then - the crusher. He says that there are New Brunswickers from all political parties who support shale gas.  Oh?

I wonder if he could give us a few of those names from, say, the Green Party - or even from the NDP?

And if there were members from all the parties who favoured shale gas - what would that prove?

Heck. In North Korea, everybody -everybody - favours  President Kim.

It's dangerous to accuse others of being illogical when one is oneself wildly illogical.