Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 31:Now, it gets dirty...

A communications specialist, so-called, is commonly a spin doctor - a person who lies for whoever will pay for it. There's a beautiful example of it on p, 1 of today's TandT.  "Shale gas foes claim victory" That wasn't written by one of the TandT's hack editors.

Think of it. When was the last time you saw a story anywhere in the TandT (let alone on page 1), that had to do with the anti-shale gas movement?  And when was the last time you saw the TandT publish a story about the anti-shale gas movement as though it were doing well?

Nope. The fix is in. The shale gas people are trying a new angle  to divide the voters, to appear reasonable by offering protection in areas that don't really matter while ignoring those that do.

The real meaning of that headline, the one it was designed to evoke, is that the shale gas people are reasonable, and we can surely all discuss this. Yeah. And the subtext is that them there protesters is the unreasonable ones. That will unite the shale gas lovers with the wobbly middle ground, and isolate the protestors. That's why "communications specialists" can make big bucks. It also means, not surprisingly, that the TandT has still never heard of journalistic ethics, and has made itself a partner in the con game.

This is all part of the new approach coming from all those reasonable people at Irving Oil, and other companies we have learned to love and trust.

That headline says the shale gas protestors have won - and that means we should all have a reasonable talk and find common ground.  You want to sicken and kill people. We say no. Okay is the answer, you have won. Now, let's discuss to find common ground. What if we kill only five percent?

On p. C3, we find Frank McKenna, everybody's friend, pimping for an oil pipeline to benefit much the same people as shale gas would. Frank has made himself a wealthy man by appearing to be a friend to us common folks. Not sure where all that money came from. But I don't think it was from us common folks.

Of course, the shale gas supporters will continue to ignore the advice of Dr. Cleary and the entire medical profession. That was pretty clear advice. The risk of serious damage to human health and life is very, very high. This is the major area in which we have expert opinion. And it is an area they have avoided discussing. They will also continue to ignore the problem of what to do with waste water that is toxic.

Expect to see a rash of letters to the editor from experts who once read a book saying shale gas is good for you.

And always remember - international corporations don't give a damn what risk they put you to. They've shown that in third world countries where millions suffer and die from their working conditions and from environmental destruction. They showed it in Canada for years with extremely dangerous working conditions for factory workers in this country. And it was unions that put the pressure on them to clean up their act, and install safety equipment.

It doesn't happen any more? No? What to you think happened at Lac Megantic? Irving oil had to know that it was taking a risk with human lives when it contracted with a railway company that had a bad record of safety, and would be sending a train of oil cars driven by just one man, and left untended every night.

Irving Oil company didn't break the law. But that's because somebody changed the law just last year. Irving Oil didn't break the law. But it knew the risk it was taking. And almost fifty people paid the price of its greed - and the company doesn't give a damn. It doesn't give a damn about our lives, either.

By way, when is the TandT going to ask the big question. Who changed the regulations a year ago to permit the use of just one engineer for a train? And who asked for the change?

Meanwhile, if you want to kill me, my answer is no. Don't waste your time making videos so we can discuss it and find common ground. There is no common ground. To insist there is is just stupid.
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Speaking of stupid, check out the editorial. Most of it is reasonable enough comment on the rise in the Moncton crime rate. But, about the middle, the writer notes that Moncton is enjoying better economic times than most cities and, therefore, "This could likely result in criminals coming here looking for a place to practice their art."

Yeah, I can it all now - a street scene in Toronto...
"Harry, what are you going to do now that you've quit high school? Just hang out?"

"Hell, no. I got ambition. I'm going to Moncton to train to be a criminal."

Maybe we could make it a community college programme.
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Norbert, not unreasonably, thinks something should be done about the Senate.  True enough. But it's obvious in reading his piece that he has no knowledge of the problems in the areas he mentions. For example, an elected Senate would be a very bad idea, indeed.

First it would seriously weaken the House of Commons. After all, if it's elected, it has to have power - and there's only one place for that power to come from. Secondly, It would create three groups struggling for power over each other - the house of commons, the senate, and the provincial premiers. And that could very very divisive, indeed, for the whole country.  Thirdly. we have a system in which, unlike the US, the head of state has, or seems to have, no real power. The greatest power level we have is that of prime minister. But the pm is not elected to that position. He gets it only as a result of having support in the house of commons. It's not at all clear what role the senate could play in that - or whether it should. What if we have a situation in which the pm has support in the house of commons, but not in the Senate? Well, I can guess what would happen. Chaos.
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I regret to see that Alec Bruce has bought into the "let's have a reasonable discussion" camp on shale gas. I can neither agree with or trust a word that he wrote in today's column. This looks very much like 'spin-doctoring'.

The op ed page has the usual, pointless stories by Eric Lewis and Brian Cormier - two lovely people with nothing to say, and too much in love to say goodnight.
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The move is done. But I still have no idea when I shall have a computer. Bell-Aliant seems to be very relaxed in its approach to business. I have been give some reason, but no certainty, that I might be able to have something in place in only a week or so.


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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 30: Life is.....

...I'm sorry. But there is a time when a man, a real man, must use coarse or foul language.
I  have been moving since Saturday. Everything hurts. I'm tired. I feel every day of my age - and there are a lot of days in it. I'm using a borrowed computer because I probably won't have one operating for a week. Tomorrow, I go back to the old place for the last part of the move. Then I have to deal with the mass of garbage bags and boxes in my new place.

I'm sorry. But I have to say it. Ladies, (with the exception of those on St.. George St. under police surveillance) should avert their eyes before the next sentence.

Moving is heck.
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Looking quickly through the Monday and Tuesday papers, and not looking for topics, I was struck by something I had not paid attention to before. The Irving Press is really run on the cheap - and for maximum profit with minimum spending (or news).

The proportion of ads in the average issue is a little high. But with the frequent inserts it's extremely high. The revenues for the Irving press must be very, very high. But, oh, it's cheap in news coverage and staffing.

Most of the 'news' items seem to be purchased from news  wholesalers like The Canadian Press. Lots of papers do that. But they have editors who know which stories are important. The Irving press does not. Its editors seem to be so lazy or so ignorant of the business that they just choose whatever is on sale for the day.

The press also saves money on opinion columnists. Most other newspapers have opinion columnists who do nothing else. Writing an opinion on most papers is a full time job. That way you develop people   who can write columns with some insight and authority. But the Irving press uses columnists who are either staff people who also have other jobs to do - and a few part-timers.

The problem with this shows up chiefly with the staff writers. They really don't seem to know enough to have any opinion worth discussing. That's why a section of the paper that should be stimulating is full of cutesie stories about riding a motorcycle or a childhood pet dog. And so you get opinion columns by people who really don't have any opinion about anything - with the occasional ranter like Norbert who pronounces on matters he clearly knows nothing about or, on a good day, about something interesting (but irrelevant) he just read.

It was the sports section that really brought this to my attention. I had never before seen a sports section with no sports columnist. Nor does there seem to be any specialist in sports reporting. The result is a sports section that reads like the rest of the paper - stories bought cheaply off the wire with no evident sense of what is important in the field, a few,usually trivial, local stories...and no analysis.

So what we get is a paper designed to be cheap to operate (and therefore highly profitable) - and full of pro-Irving propaganda. That's certainly a businessman's idea of a newspaper - but it is certainly not any journalist's idea of one.

It's also not a very bright idea. Since Irving owns all the papers in the province, he could hire a few, really good opinion columnists, and use them for all the papers.  (Of course, there are many good journalists who would rather share dinner from the cat's dish than work of Irving press.)

As a consolation prize. here's a question for serious, sports fans. Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens was known as "the rocket".  His younger brother, Henri, became the "pocket rocket".
But there was a third brother who played defence.  He, too, played for the Canadiens - but only for a short time. However, I once saw all three on the ice at the same time.

What was the nickname for the youngest brother?  I'll bet nobody at the TandT knows.
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Once, a man dropped to his knees, and begged the love of his life to marry him.

She sneered. "I wouldn't marry you if you were the last insect on earth. You're vulgar, selfish, rude and disgusting."

He jumped to his feet, and placed a hand on her shoulder. She hit him with a left, the solid product of years of martial arts training.

"Ah, shrink not from me," he said. "Let us seek common ground. I'll prepare videos to show you. We'll tour the province for public discussion of our differences. I'm sure we can find common ground, somewhere."

The full story - so -called - is to be found on p. A2 "Common ground sought on shale gas."  It's really a free plug for a scheme hatched by - guess who - Irving, SWN and other bottom feeders.

The reality that there is no common ground. Either you develop shale gas or you don't. There is no compromise between right and wrong.

The major players appear to be the usual hangers-on - like Professor Savoie - who knows more about medicine than doctors do. Indeed, a name prominently missing is NB's chief medical officer, Dr. Cleary.  In fact, there is not a single medical doctor listed. Obviously, there must not be a competent doctor in the whole of NB. But who needs a medical doctor when you have sages like Professor Savoie  who are qualified experts on all topics. Indeed, I wouldn't be surprised if a Norbert Cunningham, feeling the pains of appendicitis, should immediately call Professor Savoie to come over right away, and bring his pen knife.

This is obvious manipulation with the TandT a willing accomplice. It will continue to lie, to give heavy publicity to this campaign, and to ignore those who oppose shale gas. We pay, every day, for a newspaper whose major function is to lie to us so that we accept the interventions of people who want to make money out of us - and who don't give a damn what it does to us.

I have never seen a newspaper before with such a combination of lies, ignorance, journalistic incompetence, and indifference to the interests of its readership.

As a footnote, we have a  government in Fredericton and one in Ottawa which are ignoring the warnings of a vast majority of scientists all over the world. We face a crisis in climate change. It is too late to stop it; but we can limit its damage and prepare for it. But relying on fuel sources like shale gas will soon make it too late to limit the damage.

We cannot go on using fossil fuels. Cannot. Not should not. Not maybe a little bit. Not common ground.  Cannot. Cannot. Cannot. It isn't a matter for debate. There is no compromise of common ground. We cannot.

But neither Fredericton nor Ottawa has shown the slightest interest. Indeed, Harper has virtually  destroyed all environmental protection and research. The energy interests are sitting on trillions of dollars worth of fossil fuels. They have to sell that before the the danger becomes so obvious, they have to stop selling it. They are rich. And they are greedy. And their greed makes them stupid.

If we don't stop them, our children will suffer terribly. Indeed, it is happening fast enough that many of us will suffer. Some already have.

Cannot. Like greedy and demanding children, there are people who do not understand 'cannot'.

There is no common ground. There is no compromise.

Lord, what a stinkingly corrupt, lying, manipulating, and intellectually vapid press we have in this province.
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Saturday, July 27, 2013

July 27: The ultimate in non-news....

When the front page carries a big story that the CEO of Walmart is all excited about developing sales in Moncton, you know this is going to be a slow day. But that's what it says. The CEO has stores in  New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Boston....But Moncton,wow! This is where the action is.

What follows is a long story that's really an ad for Walmart; and a pretty simple-minded one at that. In the five minutes it took to go through the whole paper, I saw only three items of even casual interest. Even Gwynne Dyer's column was of no great import.

The only letter to the editor that caught my attention is "Report the news, don't create it". This is a bizarre one. It charges the TandT with over-reporting demonstrations by protesters.  Protesters are described as people who are against everything, have a negative approach to the development of the province,, and who get "extravagant coverage" by the paper.

Extravagant coverage? The writer mentions only one story about the protesters. That is "extravagant"? In fact, the TandT has suppressed almost all information about the protestors, from Dr. Leary all the way to the weeks long confrontation with SWN.

But it's a useful reminder that there are people who think like that. They just don't like protestors. That's it. Case closed.
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In yesterday's comments received from readers, there is one about Irving Oil being connected with the Lac-Megantic disaster. Being in the midst of moving, I didn't read the account it mentioned until this morning. I would be cautious about it.

There is obviously an Irving connection. But this article by Presscore goes much too far with the evidence it has. Heavy prejudice is evident throughout the article - and others that appear in Presscore. The choice of words is dreadfully loaded. It reads like a column written by Norbert's evil twin brother.

The thrust of the article is that Irving Oil deliberately organized the whole disaster in order to get a pipeline approved as a safer alternative to rail transportation.

I can certainly see a case that Irving OIl was acting without taking adequate measures to assure public safety - perhaps even deliberately taking risks to cut costs.  But deliberately creating a disaster? The evidence presented for that is not well supported.
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There is, in fairness, an important story on p. D3. It's about a climatologist who reports that the melting of Arctic ice means we can expect more incidents of severe weather such as tornadoes. Indeed, he says, it is already happening. And the melting of the arctic ice is the result of climate change - which has some connection with using fossil fuels to create energy.

Well, it should be an important story. But it isn't.Harper has made it quite clear he has no intention of taking any action to slow down climate change. Indeed, he is the world leader in promising to do nothing. Nor will any American president do anything but talk.

That is because our lords of energy are getting very, very rich out of fossil fuels. They have no interest in cutting the flow of conventional oil or of shale gas or of coal. That's why they give millions to "think tanks" to play down the dangers of climate change.
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The editorial is about the money-making potential of the Petitcodiac river. Money-making - that's the major theme that seems to run through all the activities of all governments at every level of this province. But making money is surely not what government is all about.

Government is about identifying and serving the needs of people. Yes, money is one of those needs. But it's not the only one except, it seems, in New Brunswick.

A political party should start by identifying needs. Then it projects costs. Then it determines how to get the money. But it isn't done that way here.

When our provincial government re-organized health services, it did NOT begin with needs. It began with a determination to cut costs. In fact, it announced the proposed cuts BEFORE it even had the report on what the needs were.

Here, the emphasis is on cutting needs to save money, then lavishing money on projects that will be of benefit largely to private business (the events centre, the moving of Moncton High which seems to have been done more to satisfy a developer than to satisfy any need of education, the constant appearance of private business groups moving in on government as though it were their right to do so - such as Irving declaring himself a member of the government, and appointing his hacks to be advisors to the minister of finance,his calling of a group of his invitees to a massive conference to plan the economic future of New Brunswick in a few days,  the creation of a businessmen's committee to advise the Moncton government on an events centre.

A feature of all these meetings is cuts in what people need - but never a look at our tremendous losses due to low, low taxes for the very rich, and welfare programmes for big business.

Government in New Brusnwick is, indeed, run like a business. The trouble is that a governments is not a business. Business has only one object - to make money. If it kills a million people to do that, as in Iraq, it's okay. If it kills many, many millions as in Congo, Guatemala...so be it. Private business doesn't give a damn about health or education - unless there's a profit in it. It doesn't care about the future - at least any future beyond the next quarterly report and the bonusses that can go with it.

Government exists to meet the needs of people. We didn't get public schools from big business. We didn't get medicare from big business. We didn't get railway regulatins from big business. And we certainly don't get much in the way of taxes from big business.

When you put government and big business together - as we have in this province - you get fascism.

New Brunswickers have produced a great deal of wealth. The problem under this fascist form of government is that very little of that wealth stays here - or ever gets anywhere close to the people of this province.
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Bill Beliveau writes on the decline of Detroit, comparing it with the situation in New Brunswick. Not only is his analysis of Detroit's fall simplistic, but it has nothing to do with New Brunswick. He even admits that. So why waste half his column on Detroit?

Nor does he have anything useful to say about New Brunswick. We have, he says, high rates of illiteracy among high school graduates. Gee. Could that have anything to do with illiterate parents? Could it have to do with priorites that cut education spending? And library speanding? Could it have anything to do with newspapers that encourage illiteracy and triviality?

Mr. Belliveau says New Brunswick suffers from an absence of leadership. Nonsense. It is smothered under leadership. The trouble is that the leadership is not to be found in government. It's to be found in the world of big business which tells our withering lillies in the Conservative and Liberal parties what to do.
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Norbert again publishes three rants in one. Again, there is no room for him to give substance to any of his three rants.

However, there is a lesson to be learned from reading this column.Check out paragraph four of the section "Really rich". Usually, 's signals possession, as in "this is John's hat." Originally, the term would have been "This is John his hat." But it became condensed; so the apostrophe was inserted to indicate the missing hi.

However, it's difference for the word "it".  In "it's", the apostrophe is used to indicate a missing "i" for "it is". But the possessive for "it" is "its" (no apostrophe.)
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Brent Mazerolle writes a flimsy and largely pointless column about the recent arrests of prostitutes in Moncton. As usual, most of it is make up of personal anecdotes that offer us no light on the subject. Then, when at last he does get to the arrests, he has nothing coherent to say.

He ends with several paragraphs which remind me of a dyinig fish flopping in the bottom of a boat. Then he delivers this nugget of wisdom, "Prostitution is a complex issue...." Since that is not enough to leave you completely in the dark, he adds that maybe the police were right and maybe they were wrong (way to lay it out, baby). Whatever the case, though, the police have nothing to apologize for.

Huh?

If they were wrong, they have nothing to apologize for?

I don't know whether we shoud have an apology from the police. But we should certainly have one from the TantT for this column.



 

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26: The world has changed....

......but the Times and Transcript didn't notice.

On Wednesday, the US Congress defeated two bills. This means it has confirmed and made permanent the greatest changes we have seen in a lifetime and more. It also means the world is condemned to unending war for as long as we can see.

The TandT could have had the story yesterday.It was available in time to make the paper.  When it didn't, I assumed that they must lay out the paper earlier than I had thought: but it would surely be in today's paper.

It isn't. So here's the story.

Bush, with the patriot act, laid the groundwork  that gave the president  (and hundreds of thousands of others) extraodinary powers to investigate, to imprison, and to torture just about any American citizen - as well as foreigners - without charge or trial.. Obama hugely extended those powers to include a level of domestic spying never before seen, building massive files on every person in the US (indeed, the world) based on warrantless checking of phone calls, e mail, group memberships, internet usage - there really is no limit.

Even car licence numbers are recorded and tracked to check travel  habits; and threr is a possibility of suvrveillance boxes being built into every car.

The US government admits to some one hundred thousand domestic spies in its employ; and it is now completing the world's largest data storage facility in a building bigger than the Pentagon.

The data happily includes that of millions of Canadians, British, French - all countries. It includes listening in on foreign government officials, business leaders, everybody.. Europeans are furious. The Canadian government didn't even whimper.

The bill to reverse this was defeated - by a small margin; but it was defeated.

What does it mean?

It means that American democracy is a thing of the past. Anything said that is critical of the government can put the speaker on the enemies' list - and even into prison without charge.This is a data file that can blackmail opponents, be sold or handed over to the powerful to be used against the weaker. More important, it will intimidate every American into being very careful to avoid criticizing anybody or any thing connected with power.

Not in Hitler's Germany, not in Stalin's USSR, not in Mao's China was there ever such a rigid and massive presence of state coercion.

It won't be noticed, of course. Every July 4, people will go on singing "My country 'tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty" - of a land from which liberty has vanished.

It's over. American democracy is over. It's been dying for a long time. Now, it's dead. And, given Canada's close policing ties with the US, it may well be over in Canada, too.

Then there was the bill to prevent the president from going to war without the consent of Congress. The constitution requires the consent of congress for war. But American presidents have been ignoring it ever since the consitution was first approved.

Contrary to what most people think, the US has probably been the world's most warlike nation ever since its birth. It just did it without declaring war. The first victims, for over a century, were native peoples.  War was, thoughfully, declared against us in 1812, and against Mexico a generation later.Both wars to provide land for Americans speculators.. In fact, American politicans, including presidents, openly spoke of "annexing" Canada into the twentieth century.  (The US is one of the few countries that still does not recognize the Arctic waters and islands as being Canadian. )

Then, from the late nineteenth century, it was Central American countries, conquered and dictators installed in order to please that nice Mr. Dole and his friends - almost all of these without declaring war. Such wars continue to this day in places like Guatemala, Columbia, and quite likely in other Latin American countries.

Then it was Hawaii and The Phillippines. More recently, it has many times bombed Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Somalia, Syria (yes, sending money, weapons, intelligence and training constitutes war ) without declaring war. The recent invasion of Haiti (with Canadian help) was really a war to expel the democratically elected president. It was disguised as a peacekeeping operation - and the news media cooperated in that. But when you send in troops, and kick out the elected president, that's called a war.

Most of these wars, in recent years, aren't even heard of. They are carried out by small groups called special ops who are active all over Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East in unreported wars.

Nobody really knows how often the US has gone to war, but estimates are in the neighbourhood of 200 - and that's almost certainly low.. Now, it's open season for the president; and the American consitution is just a piece of paper. And the president will fight wars, as always, that are for benefit of the loudest voices of the time - at first, for land speculators (which is what 1812 was about); then for fruit growers, for trade advantage, for oil companies....

Harper has the same tendencies. He has many times publicly announced that Canada will support Israel in every war - no matter who causes it. That rather contradicts all those November eleven speeches in which we are told that our soldiers died to protect the right of Canadians - through their elected mps - to decided when and against whom we go to war.

The way is now wide open to some very brutal years or, far more likely, decades of wars - fought by a police state. And Canada is not just next door. It's closely tied.

The US consitution is in shreds. In no real sense does American democracy exist. It has become a police state dedicated to world conquest to make its rich even richer. That is one hell of a recipe for disaster.

But the editors of the Times and Transcript thought it was more important to cover a train crash in Spain. Are the editors deliberately hiding things? Sometimes they do. Well, quite often they do. But other times? Well, other times I think they're just hopelessly uninformed and incompetent.

The aim now is for US world dominance in just about everything.

The bill to regain accountatibility for the president was lost.
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Sorry to spend so much time on that story. But I never expected even the TandT to completely ignore such an event.

That means I don't have time to touch on the points I suggested yesterday about which nuclear powers present the greatest dangers.. Perhaps tomorrow.
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With all the crises available to him, the editorial writer chose crosswalks as the great issue of our time. Unfortunately, he had nothing in particular to say about them.

Norbert has another three-topic day. The first two are trivial. The last one is quite good.

Alec Bruce's column is outstanding. It's about the destruction of the middle class, and the effect it has had on our society. Through he writes mostly about the US, the column accurately reflects Canada as well.

Bruce is perhaps too kind to Obama in this column, portraying him as simply a big talker with no solutions to anything. That was my first impression of him, too. And I could wish it had turned out to be correct, because he's turned out, insteand, to be the most destructive president in American history.

Michael Sullivan has a column on how nice it is to live in Shediac. I'm happy for you, Mr. Sullivan. But this is a page for serious opinion and insight. This reads as though you have been spending too much time with Rod Allen, lately.

For a look at what serious opinion and insight are, look down below the Sullivan column to the one by Suzuki. See the differience?

The last of the letters to the editor is about 'conservatism'. Alas! It's just another failure to understand what conservatism means. It doesn NOT mean conserving the best of the past. I think the meanings of conservative, liberal, socialest,etc.might be a useful topic for the next meeting of the current events group at the library. It might be a step in restoring sanity to political discussion.
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Two apologies

1. I am in the midst of moving as well as contemplating some hospital time for my computer. I don't think it likely; but it's possible I might miss a day or so of the blog.
2. For the same reason, I am haviing awful time keeping up with mail. If I'm late, forgive me.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

July 25: Another drab day for the Tand T...

In section A, the only interesting thing is a line at the top - above the paper's name. ""Up-to -the- minute breaking news every time." But once you've read that - and the title of the paper - and the words Thursday/7a.m.. you've pretty well had all the excitement you're going to get. So let's move on to NewsToday.

The Moncton Times and Tribne has noticed that there is violence in Iraq.as 17 were killed yesterday. In fact, 17 killed was a quiet day. Scores have run higher almost every day for over a year as rival sects fight it out for power in that ruined country. The kurdish parts of Iraq have effectively broken away. Well over a million Iraqis, most of them quite innocent of anything, have been killed by the US/British invasion, and now by each other. Hospitals, schools, whole cities are still in ruins. Little has been rebuilt. In fact, all these years after the fighting, there are still long, power blackouts every day.

And the people of Iraq live in poverty because their greatest resource, their oil, is no longer theirs. It now belongs to American oil companies, the only people who gained from that dreadful war. In fact, it was the oil companies that planned the war in the first place.

We now know (though news media rarely mention it) that Bush and Blair lied when they said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. They deliberately lied. They deliberately slaughtered over a million people. They drove it into disorder and poverty - to steal the oil for private, American oil companies.

Saddam was an angel compare to Bush and Blair. He he did fight a brutal  war using, among other things, poison gas, against Iran. But he fought that war at the urging of the US and Britain - who supplied him with weapons. (That might explain why they tried and hanged him so quickly.It might also explain why Iran feels a certain hostility to the US and Britain.)

None of this ever appeared in the Irving press. But at least they do occasionally mention, very occasionally, that there is a certain amount of unrest in Iraq. People often blame religion for wars when they should be looking at quite murderous industrial enterprises - notably, in these day, those enterprises called the oil industry.
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P. C3 carries news of another travelling fleashow coming our way. TransCanada has announced it will hold meetings across NB for open discussion of a proposed pipeline acorss the province. In the oil industry tradition, this is, of course, a modern version of the the old, travelliing medicine man show. But it could be worse. Just imagine the form it would take if we were Iraqis.
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There's a brief story on p. C5. It's about the death of a five-year-old aboriginal girl. "Inquiry told girl's death due to 'colonialism'." This is one to think about because understanding it is central to understanding what we have done to our native peoples, and why they are protesting.

Either we understand what we did, or we fall into Harper's racist game of spreading hatred of native peoples.
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The editorial enters its second day of being both simple-minded and boring. It's an appeal for the "government to get out of the way", and let Atlantic Lottery Corporation run like a business. Essentially, this is the old bilge that government is bad, and private business is more effecient. That's just simple-minded and, in this case, extremely vague.

Business is efficient? Government is useless? I wonder whether the intellecutally differently advantaged person who wrote that editorial has ever heard of Lac-Megantic. Following business practice of cutting costs is exactly what casued that - with the help of a federal government that "got out of the way."

Those are what also caused the massive crash of American banking that opened this world economic crisis.

Grow up, Mr. Editorial writer. Stop vomiting this feeble-minded propaganda at us.

Norbert writes one of his clever, but quite irrelevant, little columns. He proves, convincingly, that a maple tree which fell recently is not the one that inspired our song "The Maple Leaf Forever". Brillianly done, Norbert. But so bloody what?
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Rod Allen writes about the coming performances of Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale" for this year's Theatre-in-the-Park in Moncton.
1. This is not an opinion piece. It is an announcement of a theatrical event. In a real newspaper, such an item does not appear on the op ed page. It appears in Entertainment. Op Ed is for opinion and analysis, not for theatre ads no matter how worthy they may be.
2. In any case, three quarters of this column has nothing to do with the performance. Mostly, and like all of Rod Allen's columns, this one is a pretentionsly written anecdote about the great Rod Allen.
Mr. Allen cannot let even William Shakespeare upstage him.
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well worth reading on the editorial and op ed? Alec Bruce's is well written. It may seem a little light for an opinion column - but I don't hink it is; not if you think about it.

Jody Dallaire's column is surely one of the best she has written - and they've all been good.
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The last letter to the editor is a short and simple one, thanking our native people and other shale gas protestors who have done a magnificent job of standing up to SWN. It's a short letter, and an effective one. We all owe our thanks.

And we should all rememeber that the TandT has deliberately ignored this major news story.
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A few days aglo, a reader sent me a web site with an important, if terrifying message. If tomorrow's TandT is as boring and pointless as today's, I might spend some time on the message. Meanwhile, to get the little grey cells working - consider this possibility.

Governments are fond of announcing the names of those countries most likely to start a nuclear war.
In North America, the top threats are commonly seen as North Korea and Iran. However, I would consider those two very unlikely to start a war. Kim may be a butbar. I'm sure he is. But he knows that any launch of a nuclear attack would mean the obliteration of him and his country in minutes.

Ditto for Iran. In fact, most reliable sources say Iran does not have a bomb. But even if it did, any attack would have the same response as one from North Korea. So- what countries are really most likely to start a nuclear war?

My guesses (with reason) are the US and Israel.
1. Those two have the least need to fear retaliation.
2. Both seem be be reaching for goals that cannot be reached with conventional forces.
3. Yes, it would be quite crazy for either of them to do any such thing. But both have built substantial arsenals and delivery systems. And both have always refused to cooperate in any attempt to reduce nuclear arms.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 24: Fast-breaking news...Irving press style

Yes, it's right there at the top of p B1. "Lawsuit launched over train disaster". Now, there's a story that broke some days ago.But - better late than never. Yes. The MMA railway is getting sued by the first of what will be many people in Lac-Megantic whose lives were ruined. Yes, the suit is against the MMA railway and its unattractive president along with several Anerican oil companies.

Whoops!

"several American oil companies."?

The story names the railway. Why wouldn't it name the oil companies? I mean, if it's only a few, it wouldn't take much space. And they're American oil companies? Gee. Earlier reports (none of which made the pages of the Irving press) referred specifically to Irving Oil.

Well, that just goes to prove a wise old saying. Never trust any press agency no matter how presitigious its name. Almost all of them play games with the news. The player in this story is The Canadian Press.

Other than that, the only big news of the day is that William and Kate had a baby. And there's even a picture of a long line line of people outside Buckingham Palace with nothing to do but stand around waiting for their turn to actually see the official notice of the birth which has been posted on the gate.

The event took up more room in the paper than even the comics.

In what I assume is an unrelated story on p. B3. an American politician wants a law to ban oral sex. (They don't define the term; but I presume it means talking dirty.) Luckily, that story was on a page where the royal  baby wouldn't see it.

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In a sharp break with tradition, the front page story is important and worth reading.  It's about a police raid in Moncton that rounded up 11 women accused or prostitution. Sound reasonable? Well, the story includes an excellent statement by Tina Thibodeau of Crossroads for Women, an aid group that sees these women not as criminals but as victims - victims of the men who buy them, victims of the pimps who market them and who, very commonly, treat them with extraordinary brutality.

Do you still think, with Christian assurance, that we have to crack down on these women? Well, not along ago, a Christian woman travelling in a strict Islamic state reported to police that she had been raped. She was promptly arrested for having sex outside of marriage, found guilty, and put in prison.

The difference between Moslem and Christian in attitudes toward women is not nearly so great as either group would like to believe. Indeed, putting it in the broader context of history, it is not very different at all. Christians and Moslems are far more like each other than they are different.

Those who think Christians are different should get busy to help these prostitutes, and to deal with the men who are the real problem.
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Brent Mazerolle informs us on p. 1 that city council is  having a frenzy of special meetings because of the many important issues it has to deal with. That's nice. But I think an news story on precisely what all these meetings are about would be more useful. I find   tedious to read an article that just says       "City council is busy busy busy....busy busy busy.......busy....."
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The only other big story in section A is that NB power watches wearther forecaasts closely to be prepared for any storm that might threaten power lines. Gee! Whoda thunk it?

 And, of course, the execs would want to know the good days to go to the beach.
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The editorial expresses a view that Premier Alward must gently convince New Brunswickers of the importance of shale gas. (At the same time, it suggests that most people opposed to shale gas are stubborn, unreasoning, perhaps stupid. Take that, Dr. Cleary.)

It also says there must be an arms length relationahip between government regulators and the gas industry. Oh, for sure. New Brunswick is very good at separating government from private busines. I mean, just look at how they keep Mr. Irving at arm's length.

 Well, a hug is something like an arm's length.
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Alec Bruce has a readable column, quite funny. But pretty lightweight stuff for an editorial page. It doesn't get at the main problem of the British monarchy - how to produce of child of at least average intelligence. For four centuries, at least, they've been desparately casting about to find an intelligent  mate for the first in line. But with little success.Elizabeth is probably the closest they've come to producing a normal person, and she has certainly been the far most effective in her duties in many centuries.

But the rest - well - if they'd been born in new Brunswick,  they'd all have become cabinet ministers.
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Norbert is right out of his tree, waving his banana in warning as he lecutres us on the world economy.
Almost every sentence has a major error of fact. And he has no clue at all what he is talking about.

Essentially, he blames the world recession on the poor and the middle class. Yep. That's why Detroit went broke. It had nothing to do with free trade and the export of manufacturing jobs that resulted from it.

Same then with the US economy. Don't go blaming the banks just because they broke the law and lost hundreds of billions that the taxpayers had to make up. No. Don't blame the most expensive and corrupt defence spending in the world. Don't blame the super rich for avoiding taxes, and for grabbing such a huge share of the nation's wealth.

No! It's them there poor people, living it up on food stamps. They should solve the poverty problem the way Moncton did which it chased panhandlers off Main St.  (Of course, it would help if they would also chase the rich panhandlers out of Fredericton, chase them out of their services as "advisores to the Minister of finance, and chase out the Moncton panhandlers who formed a committee under  chief panhandler (Moncton division) Robert Irving who formed a committee of smaller panhandlers to advise city council.

And, of course, it's them  there poor folks, loafin' on EI, wastin' good money on medicare just out of a selfish desire to go on livin'.  It's certainly not those nice people in corporations who work hard for just millions a year, who want just little favours like umlimited access to our timber, incredibly low taxes, special deals to help them create miminum wage jobs. and who don't go around whining about needing pensions. (They have wisely set aside a few pennies at a time to put in offshore banks for their declining years). And you don't see their execs whining about getting undeserved raises of two or even three percent. No. That sort ofo things comes from them low-class unions and greedy bus drivers. Now, a senior exec, he just gets a regular contract for - oh - a couple of million a year with another million for a good year, but only a half million dollar  bonus for a bad year.

And this economic crisis is happening at the same time all over the world?

Coincidence.

But Norbert does have just a moral lesson for us. It's also a very practical one. When times are bad, you have to cut government spending.

It doesn't work, Norbert. It has never worked. The last time it was tried was in the 1930s - and it was a disaster. Can you hear me, Norbert. IT DOESN'T WORK. YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. THIS IS NOT A MATTER OF OPINION, NORBERT. IT DOESN'T WORK.

A major reason we have a recession is becuase the super-rich have gobbled up such a large share of the weatlh - and they're still gobbling. The problem that we have is that there is not enough wealth in circulation. Cutting that even more will not make things better. In fact, (close your eyes and think hard, Norbert) it will make things worse.

It's the solution the rich like because they take no responsiblity to fixing the economy - and don't ever admit they broke it. What is happening in this recession is what happened in the 1930s. While most psople suffered, the very rich got even richer. And that's exactly what is happening now.

What's needed to revive the economy is targeted spending, aimed at rebuilding an economic base, and at easing the suffering. Giving more to billionaires ain't going to do it.

The first Canadian prime minister to realize that was a New Brunswick Conservative named Bennett. Ever hear of him Norbert? Or do you just write what Mr iIving's "communications specialists" tell you to write.?

This column Norbert, is not only ignorant of economics and history and the distribution of wealth over the past 40 years or so. It is also a vicious defence of the greedy and a thoroughly immoral attack on their victims.

This is not just a bad column. This is a disgusting one.
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On op ed, deep thinkers in the persons of Eric Lewis who fusses about how important it is to wear a bicycle helmet, and Brian Cormier who babbles about choosing a name for the royal baby.\
Hey, guys. The op ed is an opinion page. It's for insight on the economy, foreign affairs, politics, you know...like...sort of important stuff.
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The "deep thought" theme is carried into a letter to the editor, "Put events centre in private hands". The writer claims that private business would be more efficient in building the centre, and would avoid cost orverruns.
1. There's a reason why private business is not building the events centre. The reason is that big business knows it's not going to be a profit maker. If they had ever thought otherwise, they would have closed the city out a long time ago. This is something to rip off the taxpayers for so the parties interested in the centre (the owner of the hockey team springs to mind as such a party) can get a new centre while we pay for it.
2. Why do you think the huge cost overruns on such projects come from? They're on the bills presented by the private companies to us tax payers. Does that indicate either corruption or poor estimating?

Possibly so. But it both cases - well - if it's poor estimating, it's the private contractor who makes or accepts an estimate The final decision is in the hands of the private company. Nobody is twisting its arm.

And if it's corruption? Well, if it's corruption, it can't be the fault of city council unless councillors are corrupting each other. But the sort of big money needed isn't likely to be found among councillors. It's far more likely to come from the private companies.

In short, if you buy this notion that private business is super-efficient or honest, then you really should not be allowed outdoors all by yourself.  Private business is far more likely to be the source of corruption. And it has no interest in saving you money by being effecient. Private business exists to make money for itself, not to waste it on you. That's why private medicine is so much more expensive than medicare. What's why pharmaceuticals are so expensive.
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In short, there is only one reason to get today's TandT. It's the lead story on the roundup of prostitutes. If you haven't bought it yet, don't. Go to a Macdonald's. Get a coffee, and pick up a Tand T that's sure to lying around. The TandT isn't worth the money. But the coffee is usually okay.
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23:A slow day in the world..I mean s l o w....

On the op ed page, the one that is supposed to stimulate thought, deepen understanding, etc., Alan Cochrane tells us a a story about his doggy-woggy. As for news in the rest of the paper, well, it's pretty gripping if you're the sort of person who can't wait to read the story "NBers excited about the royal baby.".

Then there's the story about Ottawa at last mentioning help for Lac-Megantic. Strange, though. I can't find much about any serious investigation of how this happened. The train had a black box that's going to be checked. Okay. They're going to tighten the regulations. Okay. But there seems to be an avoidance of what looks like the central issure.

Fifty-two people are dead. They were killed in an accident that could have happened at any rail town in Canda. They were killed because only one engineer was on that train going all the way across the continent.

Yes, we can piddle around forever looking for what that one man did wrong. But that doesn't touch the central issue. Why was he alone?" If we don't find the answer to that, then we're still wandering in the dark. And there's no reason to be in the dark. This is easy to do, much easier that checking black boxes or getting opinions on brake systems.

Regulations used to require at least two engineers. Just a year ago, the rule was change to permit one, only one engineer. That means there is nobody on board to assist or replace the engineer in a crisis/ (He could become ill, sleepy, any number of things).  There is nobody on board the train overnight when all those tanker cars of oil are parked, usually very close to population centres.

The regulation for two engineers seems eminently sensible. So who changed it? That must be a matter of record. I mean, a clerk can't simply erase regulations at will. It must have been approved by somebody and, if by a committee, somebody must have formally proposed it. Who was that?

And did someone in the rail industry propose the change? Who? Why?

Could it possibly have had anything to do with increasing profits? Could it possibly have been spurred by the suddent increase in the use of rail to transport oil?

The government says it will tighten the regulations. And that's very nice. But they were tight before. Who loosened them - and why? And were other regulations loosened?

Some fifty people are dead. Babbling about changing the rules is nowhere close to an adequate investigation. We need to know all the factors that led to this accident.

The rules were changed a year ago. Somebody wanted them changed. Because somebody wanted them changed, 50 people are dead. This was not something that was done by one, tired engineer. It was done by somebody well placed in the federal government and, surely, someone who was responding to a request.

And h ow many trains like that have been running across this country with their deadly cargoes. How many towns and cities have been (and perhaps still are) in danger of becoming the horror that is Megantic.

Unless we get straight answers to these questions, we can never trust our government, our railways, or our oil industry.

But I have seen not the slightest indication that these questions will be even looked at.
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There's really no news in the paper today. There's no mention that Iraq is virtually in a civil war, and has been for some time,  no mention that the overthrow of the elected Egyptian government was engineered by the US, that there is not the slightest possiblility that Obama will allow anything but a puppet democracy in Egypt or any other country,

There's no mention of the growing poverty and suffering in the US as it devotes all its resources to world domination in a desperate attempt to remain a super pwer.

There's no mention of the Guantanamoo prisoners on hunger strike who are, contrary to law, being force fed, no mention of the CIA prison in Poland that is used for tortures not allowed even at Guantanamo, no mention of Edward Snowden or of Obama's determination to kill him for revealing that Obama has been breaking international law and the American constitution. 
(Most of those prisoners, by the way, were long ago cleared for release because they were wrongfully imporisoned in the first place. . But Obama, for some reason, has never released them.)

There's no mention of the prisoners in California who are also on hunger strikes. And no mention that the government and private contractors make deals with major corporations to use prisoners as something close to slave labour. Much of the army's combat clothing, for example, is made in American prisons. And - some 36% of all electrical appliances made in the US are made by prisoners.

And, apparently, American prisons in general as playing a good deal with torture. For a mild example, any solitary confinement lasting more than 15 days is considered torture. Private Bradley Manning was held for three years, mostly in solitary, mostly sleeping on the cell floor with no clothes or blankets. There are people in US prisons serving up to 20 years in solitary. Gee. They must fit right in with society once they finish their terms.
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Norbert has an interesting column. 
Louise Gilbert has a useful one on summer entertainment - and not just for seniors. It reminded me of days long ago when every twon had a park with a covered bandstand; and there were concerts by local brass bands - the Salvation Army, the police, the military. Great days - and evenings for this kid..

The editorial is harmless. Not much substance, but harmless.

Excellent column by Alec Bruce on solar power. But it ain't likely to become big in Canada or the US. The oil industry downplays the need to get red of our dependence on fossil fuels. They're making money out of fossil fuels. They fund think tanks to discredit alternative forms of energy. They're pushing for oil and shale gas no matter what the consequences. Harper and Obama are their boys. That's why Canada and the US sometimes talk a good game about climate change, but do little. Indeed, no-one has done more than Harper to put off any preparation for climate change, and to increase reliance on fossile fuels.

Trust your local oil company.  
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For those people who write to me (personally - not on the blog), and who aren't getting any answers, my apologies. My computer is acting up, and often refusing - rudely, I think - to send out my e mail.              

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 22: Wow! Wow! Wow!

George "Skip" Wallin is back in letters to the editor. And, what a thrill! He's once again been chosen by Letters editor Rod Allen as Letter of the Day. He must really be good. His point this time is similar to his point every time. Doctors know nothing about the environment. No.

I mean, if you want to know about environment, you have to to go an expert on the environment - like Prof. Savoie, the sage on public policy - which is practically the same thing as the environment. Nobrbert's good on it, too. And for that matter, Mr. Wallin is a real pro on the subject. I mean, look at all the letters he's written on it. And  he's Rod Allen's choice as "letter of the day"!! Boy they don't come much better than that.

Meanwhile, just  to the left, is a ltter by Janet Hammock pointing out that Dr. Cleary, our Chief Medical Officer got a presitigious national award for work on environmental health - and the Tand T didn't report it.

But Rod Allen kept his head. (there were no buyers for it, anyway.) Janet Hammock was clearly not the letter of the day. Wallin was. (Could we some day have a list of Wallin's environmental distinctions and awards?)

Those two letters are, God help us, the outstanding items for the day in the TandT.  Well - except for a fast-breaking story on p. 1 that more craft beers are going on sale this week.

 This is one limp and vacant newspaper. This is what premier Alward would have grown up to be if he'd been born to a tabloid mommy and daddy.
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Big news stories missimg?  Well, there's the collapse of Detroit, the city that is now dead after 20 years of hideous decline. It shouldn't be news at all, really. After all, BBC had a TV series about the disaster several years ago. The last time I saw it, some twenty years ago, there were already whole blocks of rubble, of houses with severe damage including great holes in the roof, with people living in them.

Now their are tens of thousands of empty houses and apartments, miles of vacant factories slowly collapsing. It look like the ruins of an ancient city. What caused this destruction?

It was partly  the monstrous corruption of the city government. But even more, it was free trade. That made it cheaper for the auto companies to move out, and build their cars where labour came for a few dollars a day - preferably in dictatorships. That's what free trade is really all about - exploiting cheap labour in poor countries that have no labour protection laws. As a bonus, the job losses in the US drove down wages to create lots of unemployed so desperate they would take anything at just about any wage.

And to help them out in the cost of their move, the auto industry got taxpayers' money in the from of bailouts. Now, with police and fire departments in Detroit severely cut, crime and arson are leading sports. Schools, even those still in use, are filthy and dangerous ruins.

Who is going to pay all that debt? Well, city pensioners will take a huge hit. So will Americn taxpayers in general. But don't worry about the automobile industry or the crooked politicians who did this. Their money is safe.

The fall of Detroit is really not just a one-day sensation. The collapse of this city is part of a general collapse throughout the whole US that our news bas been largely ignoring. Industry has all by disappeared from the US. Poverty is soaring, even as billionaires make ever bigger profits and pay ever lessening taxes.

Indeed, we are watching the collapse of western power which has dominated the world from 1492. Spain and Portugal died about 1900. Britain, France and The Netherlands and Belgium died shortly after World War 2. Now it's the US.

It's a crash caused largely by the greed and irresonsibility of big busines, and by our failure to control it throuogh government. Now, with free trade, big business doesn't have to worry a damn about nations any more. With free trade, the nation has pretty much ceased to exist - except when big business needs it to fight a war for it.

It's going to get worse.
Gosh, don't they know they could solve t heir problem with a stadium and a hockey rink? Then they could have pro teams for hockey and football, and make piles of money.
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The paper also missed the big oil spill at Cold Lake Alberta. Harper won't allow anybody to see it. But government scientists have warned that this has been going on for weeks. that it's out of control. that there's no end in sight, and that the damage to animal life and the environment is severe.

It was reported in TheSun.com of July 21. The scientists are anonymous - a good idea when you're working for Harper.  The government and company say it's all under control and perfectly safe. The view of the scientists is quite different. (Maybe we could send Skip Wallin and Prof. Savoie out there to get an informed report.)

The oil, incidentally, is produced by a system similar to fracking. And the problem is that with the rock shield now factured, it isn't possibly to stop the flow of oil.

Anyway, don't worry. It didn't appear in the TandT. So it can't be all that important.

In other news that didn't make it is the confrontation on highway 116 betweeen anti-shale gas protestors and SWN which has now joyfully extended its good works into fragile wetlands.

The editorial and publishing staffs of the Irving press appear to be too supid to realize that, with their news blackouts and lies,  they are throwing away what little trust they ever had from this community. They are actually encouraging disillusionment with politicians and business leaders. And in doing that they are destoying the very framework of our society.
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The editorial writer wets his pants over the treasure we have in Rob Moore as Minister of State. Mr. Moore, we are told, is a kindred spirit for premier Alward. Oh, joy! And a third super-hero, Robert Goguen, will be working with them. And you know what? All of them will be pooling every foot-pound of brain power to get that events centre. And, oh, then, the future will belong the Moncton. Oh, Joy. Oh rapture unforeseen.
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Alec Bruce is excellent on the government's use of native people, especially children, to carry out degrading and harmful experiments. It's hard for us to grasp how vile and even evil that was. And It didn't happen all that long ago. It's hard to grasp. But Bruce at least gets us part way there.

If others had done this to us, we would loudly be condemning them and calling for revenge. But, oh, it's hard to make us realize the evil we have done.

Craig Babstock contributes yet another column of pointless anecdotes about our courts.

Steve Malloy, like many others, is concerned,that organizers of a rock concert in Halifax have invited Chris Brown to headline a show. (He's the one who recently gave a savage beating to his girlfriend - and who has shown no signs of being a changed man.)

Well - yeah. Obviously the concert orgnizers are louts. Brown is a lout. And anybody who goes to hear him is a lout. I would certainly have no objection to banning Brown. But, surely, the problem here of Halifex is not the Brown problem. It's a much bigger problem and banning Brown won't solve it - the lout problem.
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Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21, Just a brief, Sunday note....

I've been out of touch with them for quite a while, but all the mafia I knew were great church attenders. Mostly Catholics, they usually made the earliest mass on Sunday - before breakfast, but after a night of checking gambling and hooker receipts. (Something, I guess, like casino operators.)

A mafia wedding was something not to be missed for the sheer splendour of the wedding families, and the magnificent dinners after the weddings - with bottle after bottle of splendid wine from their own (illegal) wineries. Yes, the Lord was well served by the Mafia.

The major gambling bosses of the time, though, were not Italian mafia. They were the Jewish mob. But they equalled their Italian brethren in devotion to their places of worshhip. (Protestant mobsters, for some reason, tended to be agnostics. I remember fondly one of them, Montreal's top armed holdup man, who used to love to argue religion with me.)

I thought of alll this piety as I read yesterday's TandT of yet another apecial service, everybody welcome, at The Irving Chapel. And I though of my centuries of highland Scots Presbyterian acnestors, dismayed as they looked down from an exclusively Presbyterian heaven at what was happening to their church.

If there is any trace of morality that is evident in the various operations of Irving enterprises or Irvng political activity, or of the Irving press, I should dearly love to know what it might be.

They, with other business leaders in this province, are prominent disciples of the gospel of pure greed as a virtue. Greed is good. Low pay for the lower classes is good. Making piles of money out of essential services is good. Depriving people of basic necessities is good. Taking over government and effectively destroying democracy is good. Using newspapers to hide information, to spread propaganda and to lie is good. (I'm not making this up. You can read their holy words as found in the gospels of Ayn Rand, a novelist who preached exactly what the greedy and self-centered wanted to hear..

We've seen a tidal wave of this philosophy wash over North America and Europe - and even over China.

Destroy the environment - for profit.
Deprive people of health care - for profit.
Kill millions in wars - for profit.
Corrupt the governments - for profit.

It's always been there, of course. But never before has it been there with such force and such lack of any sense of alternative. Never before has the opposition been so weak.

There's a reason for morality. No society survives without basic rules to limit the greedy, the powerful - and the greedy and powerful made stupid by their greed and power.

We are living in a society in which the government ignores not only the wishes but the basic needs of the people it governs. This is a government has has permitted the heavy-handed intrusion of big business into government - as in Mr. Irving's intrusion into the ministry of finance (what the hell was Alward thinking of shen he allowed that to happen?), and Robert Irving's intrusion into the conduct of City Council. (What the hell were the mayor and the councillors thinking when they allowed that to happen.?)

This stage is fascism. This intrusion of business is, partly, what the word 'fascism' means. (No. It is not conservativism. In fact, conservatism has an essentially moral basis - as does liberalism. Things like government social services and trade unions have their roots in conservatism. Betcha didn't know that.)

But immorality doesn't work. Eventually, it destroys every society that tries it. Even as it destroys itself, it's destroying us.

But, hey, enjoy the service at The Irving Chapel. It will be so relaxing. You won't have to think at all. It'll be just like reading the Faith Page in the Irving Press. Or, if you prefer, just like attending a mafia wedding.


 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

July 20: I really don't want to say this, but....

...it has to be said.
I do not think columnist George Sullivan is an evil man. I'm sure he does not think of himself as being prejudiced. My own feeling is that we are all of us prejudiced more than we care to think we are. But Sullivan's column of yesterday, July 21, was one of the worst pieces of racism I have seen in print.

He castigates African-Americans for their reaction to the Zimmerman trial in Florida; and he says he's fed up with us Caucasions always getting blamed by these minority groups (read African, Korean, Moslem, whatever.) To rub the point home, he writes, "it seems every time someone from a minority community suffers a wrong, or worse, from their own reckless behaviour, overnight they are transformed to sainthood." For examples, he cites Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, whose "reckless behaviour" in overdosing killed them.

Mr. Sullivan, have you never heard of Elvis Presley? Have you never heard of how he died? Have you never noticed he was a good ol' white boy? In fact, any star who dies of "reckless behaviour", especially with drugs, gets idolized no matter what his or her colour.. Here in Moncton we do that so much that we get a string of bozos making the news because they're coming to the casino or the Wesleyan church to give "Elvis Tributes"; and long lines of local bozos will pay to listen to them.

Now, let me tell Mr. Sullivan what "race" means. It means that a certain group has qualities like laziness or evil or stupidity which are inherited. That group is usually identified by skin colour - but not necessarily so. Jews, for example, are white, but were defined as an inferior race by Nazi scientists.

The notion of race has little, if any, scientific support. But we have always defined people by what we call race. Google "The White Man's Burden". It's a poem by Rudyard Kipling praising the British empire and inviting (White) America to join Britain in forcing the white man's superior intelligence and morality on the world.

Racism, the sense that certain, identifiable groups are superior or inferior to others, was used to justify the brutalities of the British Empire, the killing and abusing of tens of millions by slavery, the slaughter of North American native peoples, and the abuse of native peoples to this day in Latin America and North America. The anti-Islamic poison encouraged by governments and news media in the western world is simply a minor variation on racism; and it's used to justify  killing Moslems by the millions to make rich westerners richer.

Racism is the common reaction to any people who are strangers to us. Racism is our defence against them; and it's our armour in attacking them.

I don't know the whole truth about the Zimmerman trial. Neither does Mr. Sullivan. But the tone of his column is clear. The problem is not that a teenager was shot and killed. The problem is that all them there minorities is always picking on us when they are really the authors of their own misfortune. That is racism. That is ignorant. That is hurtful. That is vile.

A major task of an editor is to review such columns before they go to print. Any editor seeing this should have stopped it. I think Mr. Sullivan is basically a decent and intelligent man who can do much better.

But the editor of this page cannot be decent and intelligent.  More likely, far more likely, he is stupid or lazy. In either case, this editor should not be employed by any newspaper.

This column is nothing but ignorance, bigotry, intolerance and hate.I think Mr. Sullivan is capable of coming to grips with those and dealing with them. But the op ed page editor should be fired for disgracing  the Times and Transcript, the Irving press, and all of New Brunswick. And for utter incompetence - incompetence even by the wretched standards of Irving Press.
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Fortunately, there's not much left to talk bout in today's paper. There are two reports on p. A2 about how safe shale gas is. On is by the sage Prof. Louis Lapierre of U de Moncton. (Aren't faculty and administration at that placw worried about their reputations? I have never seen a combo like Savoie and Lapierre from any university of any respectability.

Has the government considered firing the entire medical profession of this province for incompetence in their opinion of shale gas? I'm sure Lapierre and Savoie, in their superior wisdom, could fill in for all of them.

Again, the convfontation between SWN and shale gas opponents  from native peoples in the region and their many sympathizers goes on - unreported. This betrayal by the Irving press will not be forgotten by the people of New Brunswick - especially not by those who have stood out there through extreme weather, many of them women who seem to have been targeted by the police. Undestandarble.

It must be terrifying for police to stand here, only fifty or so and only lightly armed to face as many as a dozen women wearing white for peace, and releasing vicious-looking doves. It's disgusting the way these women are threatening SWN executive officers sitting in their simple, almost monastic offices in Texas.

And think of all those SWN truckers who have no defence when a half-dozen women in white appear before them, each carrying a vicious dove.
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Section A also has a pretty silly story on the collapse of Detroit. Actually, I'm suprised the TandT noticed it. The collapse happened only 20 years ago. The story doesn't mention what caused the collapse of detroit - free trade. Why build cars in Detroit when you can hire the starving and desperate of cheaper countries? And there's a double advantage.

Destroying jobs in Detroit means creating desperate people in the US who will work hours for peanuts. There's a message here that isn't sinking in.

Life in Canada and the US was pretty vile from the late nineteenth century rise of industry to to he post-1945 period. That prosperity came from tariff controls which forced manufacturers to make their products in the US and Canada. The sharing of prosperity was reinforced by unions which demanded that employers provide safe working conditions and decent salaries. When I began as a teacher, I earned only slightly more than I had as an office boy for the Bell. (Women teachers got less because they were,  you know, women.) We weren't allowed to have a union.

That's over. Business is free to go anywhere and to do anything as it pleases. It needs us only so supply soldiers and taxes to fight its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya --and many more to come..


Detroit is just one of the examples of a disaster that is going to get much worse. American business is going to recover. In fact, big business has scarcely paused in running up ever bigger annual profits.

Millions of Americans are now homeless and starving, even as their government pours ever more money into a wildly corrupt defence industry.

There has been no recovery for the American people. There isn't going to be a recovery. And it's going to hit us.

We have been sold out by our economic leaders and by the news media they control. The final stage of their victory, an open takeover of government, is already underway in New Brunswick - Jim Irving announcing he was now a member of the provincial government and giving himself the right o appoint his own people to government positions - Robert Irving has the arrogance to set up a buiness council, and announce it will advise City Council on economic development, something he has a personal stake in. Neither Irving had any right to do that. Any polititical leader, premier or mayor, of any intelligence, inegrity, understanding of democracy, would have told them to screw off and mind their own business.

But not in New Brunswick. And through all this, the Liberals have sat there with their unattractive faces hanging out.
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Good news on the faith page. In reponse to this unChristian behaviour of exploitation and enforced suffering and lying,the churches are striking back. The women of Hillsborough United Church are holding a berry tea. The sermonette advises us to quit complaining and celebrate the abundance of life. Now, there's an inspiring thought that should be framed and hung in all the food banks, and all those hidden corners the homeless find to sleep in.
Why, it could even be an inspiring motto for Detroit.
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Briefly - The editorial writer has no idea of what he's talking about. Neither does Norbert. The big column under the editorial cartoon, was written by a propaganda  hack working for a "think tank" (a propaganda agency like Insititute for Atlantic Market studies) that is financed by big busines to produce lies.)
Brent Mazerolle's column is, as usual, trivial.

Gwynne Dyer is okay (which is a low rating for him.)
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One last point I have to make. Read Isabelle Agnew on p. F3 who writes of her coming move to university as a life-changing movement. So it will be And oh, there are wonderful surprises in such moments.

The important thing is to meet the sort of people you have never met before, to realize that there are many worlds on this earth, and many ways to look on life.

Growing up in an environment of poverty, close attacment to the United Church,a high degree of illiteracy (though I loved readng)  a change of school in grade nine brought me in touch with a similar  group of boys, but more advanced tastes in reading - and writing. One would become a successful author. It was not a great change - but it was an indication that there was more in this world than I had dreamed of.

In grade 10, my class was largely Jewish, and my closest friend would be a Japanese boy who spent  the war in a Canadian prison camp, and is now a highly distinguished  doctor. The school had placed me - by what was discovered to be an enormous error - in the super smart class.

It had a powerful tradition. Christopher Plummer had been in that class. One of the teachers had been a  co-discoverer, with Dr. Banting, of insulin.Most of the kids in the class, though from families as poor as mine, had been raised to think of universities and graduate schools just as if they were normal.

And they read stuff I had never heard of. One day, Bob Dejong, who sat ahead of me, whirled around to pluck a cowboy novel out of my hand, and replace with some guy I had never heard of- George Bernard Shaw. And after that it was Somerset Maugham. And there was no going back.

Of course, it was too late save me in high school. And there came a day when the Principal called me down to his office. "Let's face it Decarie. You have no brains at all. It's time to go out and get a job."
And so I spent four years in the purgatory of Bell Telephone befrore sneaking back into university.

There, I met more Jewish kids, and began to move in a Jewish social circle. I was astonished. These people were more Christian than any Christians I h ad ever met, more active in causes, more concerned about learning, more caring about family.... They, more than any others, formed the rest of my life.

(I should add that I do not extend that admiration to Israel, which I think stands for little but ugliness, greed, cruelty, and a a racism not far different from the racism experienced in Germany by those Jews who founded Israel.

Yes, Isabelle, you are going to find life full of life-changing moments. The trick is to grrab the good ones. And they'll help you to avoid the bad ones.
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Friday, July 19, 2013

July 19: IRVING NAMED IN MEGANTIC LAWSUITS

That should have been the headline, page 1, in every paper of the Irving press today. Fifty people were killed. There is a link to Irving Oil, and to the owndership of the Irving Press. That is not to suggest that anything illegal was done. How could it be? Laws get written under the influence of people who are rich and influential. That's why it's illegal to block SWN trucks. But it's perfectly legal to kill 50 people with a train.

But don't worry. You won't have to get all upset reading about it in the Irving press. They don't have a word on it. And they won't. Not unless the Irving army of lawyers wins the case. (The little people of Lac-Megantic  don't have a lot of spare money for lawyers.)

Meanwhile. what is the government of Stephen Harper doing? Nothing. Zilch. No mention of any help for Megantic. No study of who changed the regulation that made it legal to operate a train in an obviously unsafe manner.

Who proposed that change? Why? Did somebody outside the government ask for it? Somebody in the rail industry? Who?

What caused Alward, right after the accident, to say NB railways were safe? Is Alward now making any investigation into the situation in NB? After all, that train  could just as easily have poughed into St. John - and probably with a far high death list.

Where on earth is the official opposition in the New Brunswick legislature on this issue?

As to who changed the safety regulations for trains, Couldn't the Moncton TandT break the bank and phone our man in Ottawa - Robert Googoo or Google or Goggle or something. You know, the guy whose  Moncton office is just opposite Harper Lane.

Fifty people are dead. They died under conditions that could as easily have killed (and still could kill) thousands of New Brunswickers in, say, St. John. The Moncton TandT asks no questions, and tells no news about it. Indeed, it gave more space, far more, to babbling about an antique car show.

This isn't the fault of the reporters - though I would urge them to learn a lesson from this, and get out of this journalistic swamp ASAP.

As for the editors who are responsible for this and other coverage, there are no words of contempt strong enough for them. Take a look at Norbert's column for today - a cutesy item from something he read about robots.  

The editorial is on the subject of mathematics in our public schools. It is not about 50 deaths amid highly suspicious circumstances. Nah, that's old stuff.  It's about how students' math results are not as good as they should be - and how it's all the fault of the teachers. And it's written by a person who has no training or experience in teaching anything.

Tell you what. Mr. Irving could build a chapel in Lac-Megantic in memory of 50 dead. It would have lovely gardens all around it. And people could go there to sit in the sanctuary - and reflect. They could call it La Chapelle Irving. And I'm sure they could find a rent-a-rev for annual services. Then the TandT could write a big headline on Irving, the great philanthopist.
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 I see our Canadian forces have a new, commanding general. Good career move.

Canada has half of its "armed" forces working at desks, a proportion that has done nothing but grow for decades. We have some 75 generals with many, perhaps most, working as office supervisors. It may well be the highest ratio of generals per soldier of any country in the world.

But being a general - and especially the top one - and most especially if you've spent your whole career on the battelefields of Ottawa - is very good indeed. Once a general, and well connected with all the people who count in Ottawa, you can retire early and get a high-paying job in a defence industry - like, say, Irving Shipyards. Then you can use your connections and your influence to lobby governments to buy more military equipment. That's how we got stuck with a fighter place contract at an absurd price. That's why it would be just fascinating to get more details on exactly what the new Irving navy is designed to do - and to get some cost comparisons.

But don't expect to see that in the Irving press.
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But the editorial and op ed pages?  Well, they have two of the best columns I have ever seen in any newspaper. And they are closely related.

Gwynne Dyer writes about the impact of food supply and climate change - and why we aren't doing anything about it. David Suzuki writes on much the same topic, showing how the Megantic rail disaster is sign of what's going to happen to us on a much bigger scale.  These are extraordinarily powerful articles that I urge you to read.

And you might note that neither Harper nor Obama has lifted a finger to do anything about these problems. And a major reason is that big business in Canada and the US doesn't want them to do anything. It doesn't want anthing that would lower their profits.

The reality, though, is there are some things we cannot have.  It's no use to say..duh, it'll create jobs..." The reality is we cannot survive in a world that depends of fossil fuels. And, duh, if we can't survive, then, duh, like you know, those jobs won't be much help.

Lac Megantic is just a small sample of what's coming our way. And it's coming as fast as a train.
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Michael Sullivan's column on the shooting of a black teenager in the Florida by a neihbourhood watch volunteer is well written. I don't agree with a word of it. But it's well written.

"Why", asks Sullivan, "do North American caucasions have to bear a burden of guilt for wrong doings in the long distant past?" The answer is easy. Because we are still doing the wrong-doings.

North America, like most of the world, is profoundly racist. We are taught to hate Vietnamese, or Japanese, or Germans, or Muslims or whoever it is useful for organizations like oil companies to hate.

Native peoples in Canada are routinely either ignored or victimized. One half of all native children live in poverty. We sit on their land and the wealth it produces. And if you are going to say - as I have heard so many Conservatives suggest - that this is because native people are just lazy - then I suggest you look up the word racism in a good dictionary because that is one hell of a racist statement to make.

Africans are NOT equal in the US or Canada- not economically, not in opportunity. They never have been.

Zimmerman, the volunteer neighbourhood watch, was white. Of course. This happened in heavily racist Florida where a former governer (Bush's brother) struck tens of thousands of African-Americans from the list of eligible voters so that they couldn't vote for Obama.

I've heard many stories about white neighbourhood watches. (I don't know whether there are any African-Americans who serve on those watches because every case I've heard of has been of a white watch and an African-American victim.)

These watches are usually in gated communities. Gee. I wonder how many African-Americans live in gated communities?

Zimmerman challenged an African-American teenager. Why? He wasn't climbing a fence of opening a window or even throwing a cigarette butt in the guter.  Would he have challenged a white one?

It's not fair to say Zimmerman is a racist? Like hell it isn't. I've heard him speak in interviews. He's a thoroughly racist pig.

In sum, an untrained man who despised African-Americans was given a gun, told to patrol streets - but not to approach anybody.

And he sees an African-American teenager who is doing nothing illegal or even suspicious. But he's one of them their blacks. So Zimmerman,against orders, confronts him. We don't know what he said. But from what I've heard Zimmerman say, I think I can guess what his tone was.

Zimmerman, contrary to his orders, provoked a confrontation. Then he pulled a gun and killed a teenager. That's a lot more complicated than Mr. Sullivan makes it sound. And the higher courts seem to agree with my view because they're demanding a review.

The presence of racism is a profound one in our society - and in others around the world. Just in the last 50 years, us white folks have killed millions for essentially racist reasons. Can you believe we would so casually have murdered so many millions of Vietnamese, Guatemalan native peoples, Congolese, Iraqis, Libyans, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Yemenis, Somalians if they were Caucasians? Would Harper now be running a hate campaign against Canadian native peoples?

Michael, your column has serious overtones of racism in it. And  you really should take the trouble to learn what conservative means. Racism is NOT a part of the definition of "conservative".

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 18: Why hasn't Jim Irving visited Lac Megantic?

Mr. Burkhardt, president of the railway that destroyed Lac Megantic and killed some fifty people, took five days to get up, brush his teeth, have a leisurely breakfast, and drop in to Lac Megantic to see how things were coming along. So far, the only help he has offered is stopping train service to the town, and firing one quarter of his Quebec employees - effective immediately.

Well, that beats Mr. Irving's record. So far, he hasn't lifted a finger. That was his oil that destroyed the town and  those people. The train that did it was chartered by Irving Oil, and chartered despite its bad safety record.

Did Irving Oil know that the train would have only one engineer? With no relief, no backup, and nobody on board at all at night when the train would be parked with its engine running? Irving Oil must have known that the regulations for railways in Canada had just been changed to permit that sort of irresponsible behaviour. After all, Irving, too, is in the railway business.

And was changing the regulations just a whim on the part of Stephen Harper? Or did somebody ask him to do it? And who would that somebody be? And surely the civil servants inovlved in preparing the regulations must have warned about the dangers of carrying only one engineer.

Some fifty people are dead. Is this just an accident that was nobody's fault? Or should there be heavy fines? Or should there be criminal charges?

As far as the Irving Press is concerned (and most of the Canadian press) it's rapidly becoming just an old story. But some fifty people have been killed. We should be asking questions until we have the full story on how and why they died.

But, obviously, we aren't ever going to hear it from Mr. Irving. He is a major figure in this tragedy. But the Irving Presss - and most of the others - haven't even hinted at it. Burkhardt took five days to visit the disaster scene. Mr. Irving hasn't bothered to put in any appearance at all.- though his company is the one that chartered a train to be driven by just one man, alone, all the way from South Dakota to St. John. And even though 50 people are dead as a direct result of that decision.
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Shale gas companies have received permits to drill in our wetlands. That's an important story because wetlands are very vulnerable to any activity. The chances of damage to the wetlands and to wildlife are very, very high. So - how can a newspaper of the Irving press report such a story while, at the same time, suggesting it doesn't mean a damn thing?

A common answer to that problem is to give us a soothing (not to say boring) headline. It works this wat. You don't mention in a headline what the the real story is- that a warning of the danger has been given. No. For a sample of how to put readers to sleep or to move on to the horoscope page,, see p. A2, "Alward not worried about wetland work".

That's nice. Alward wasn't worried about the safety of our railways, either.
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There's an important story at the top of D1. "AFN wants answers for test 'horrors'". This is the story of how Canadian scientists used native children and adults, most of them already close to starvtion, as guinea pigs for diet tests. They deprived them of essential foods for up to two years to see what effect it had on their health and intelligence.

This is really no different from the ghastly experiments that Nazi doctors and scientists carried out on Jews - and we were still doing it for some years - even after we learned in 1945 about how terrible those Nazi doctors were.  And there's a much bigger story here.

There are plenty of people in Canada who are racists and bigots in their attitudes to native peoples. Indeed, Harper and his local hacks like Robert Goguen have recently been running a hate campaign aimed at native peoples - precisely to appeal to the many racists and bigots among us.

There's a bigger story here than Canadians are getting. People who are poor often go on being poor for generation after generation. And they do badly in school for generation after generation. And they end up in low level jobs for generation after generation.

But none of that has anything to do with weak minds or weak characters. It has to do with growing up poor. I grew up in a community in which finishing high school was not even on our radar. That was another world. Our highest ambition was not to become doctors or lawyers. We knew that wasn't our world. Our highest ambition was a 'steady' job. When I was kicked out of high school and landed a job as mail boy at Bell Telephonne, I had achieved my mother's greatest hopes. The Bell was 'steady'; and I was a community success who was one of the few to come home after work with clean clothes, not like my father, a factory worker with the dirt of his job so rubbed into his skin that it could never be completely washed off. There were traces visible in his skin to the day he died, 15 years after he retired.

Native peoples, even today, are poor and malnourished and profoundly disadvantaged in the world of work. But it's not because of - as Mr. Harper hints in is hate campaign - because they are lazy or stupid. It's because of the poverty and lack of hope that they are raised in. (The fact that our government encouraged scientists to conduct those vile experiments on native peoples gives us a hint of just how destructive our behaviour has been for several hundred years.)

Mind you, it would be interesting to see the results of similar tests conducted on Irvings and McCains. Or, instead of sending their children to private, residential schools, they could send them to native, residential schools.
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Oh, on the same page, Harper admits he did not give crucial information about the payoff to Mike Duffy. But that was only because the "RCMP didn't ask him. Now, there's an excuse I haven't heard since I taught elementary school.
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There's still no story on the confrontation between shale protestors and SWN on route 116. Way to go, TandT. You're destroying the trust that is the glue that holds a society together. By depriving people of information, you are allying yourself with dominant forces in government and business that are abusing the people of this province. That destroys trust in the news, in government of any sort, and in business of any sort. You are destroying New Brunswick as a society of any sort. You are making us into a province of enemies.

And some day, you will carry editorials blaming us for the destruction that you've caused.
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Yesterday' editorial tore a strip off council for criticizing city hall staff for wrong doing. Today, the editorial criticizes council for not keeping city shall staff "in line". Go figure.

Norbert is trivial. Alec Bruce is, as usual, well done - though I don't share his casual attitude to Harper's list of enemies that he distributed to cabinet ministers.

Rod Allen has a piece about how meeting Alex Colville inspired him. That least, that's what the headline says. If you can figure out what that garbled column is really about, or exactly how Colville's inspiration has affected Rod Allen, drop a note and let us all know.

Solid column on "Equality Time" by Beth Lyons.
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Nothing on the Middle East or Africa, though it is on the edge of nuclear war, and though the US is fighting three, possibly four illegal wars there and France is fighting one, and though special ops  (possibly including Canadian ones) are involved in still other wars, and though Congo brutalities inflicted by western companies - including Canadian ones - have killed millions, and though disastrous US interference (with part of NATO) has created chaos in Syria, Iraq, Libya and, soon, Turkey.

What's happening? The US is trying to make itself the imperial power in the middle east and Africa that Britain, France and Spain once were before they were kicked out. Britain and France are supporting the US because they're hoping to be allowed to grab back a little bit of their old empires.

That's what the "war on terrorism" is really all about, killing people of that region by the million - and risking nuclear war - so we can make them colonies again to supply cheap labour so our big business can rob them of all their resources. Nothing has changed in more than a century. Except that this time it's a hell of a lot more dangerous for all of us.