Saturday, November 30, 2013

Nov. 30: And the Moncton TandT is holding steady at..

...stinking.

P. A8 has yet another set of photos of our social betters holding a gala to raise money for the needy.
Well, volunteer efforts like this are never going to make a dent in the problem of the needy. They're needy because our society, without a whimper, gives all its money to the rich - and the hell with everybody else.

It's a social problem, and the solution lies with the governments of our society. But they and the rich have decided it doesn't matter how many are made poor by the demands of the rich. We have, for example, Walmart whose handful of heirs hold as much wealth as the poorest 40% of the whole United States.  And they keep those people poor and themselves rich by paying stinking wages.

If mayor Leblanc (a guest at the gala) really wants to do something about that, he should put away his tuxedo, and use his political influence to find a solution - not a band aid that provides the rich with a chance to have an expensive party.

(I find these things a bit stomach-turning because I remember the high society wife of a prime minister who was very big on organizing these social galas to help the poor. It gave her an excuse to spend thousands on clothes for that one occasion, to appear as the star at a party of  her social friends (which did not include any poor people), and to read accounts in papers like the TandT gushing about her exquisite taste.

Norbert continues his hopelessly ignorant rant about the CBC - and in terms so vague, he obviously has no idea what he's talking about.

There are only two things worth reading. One is Gwynne Dyer on the conflict between Japan and China, with the US joining in on the Japan side. If this does not scare the hell our of you --- you're a very lucky person.

In short, the US has to be forever in a military confrontation with China in order to maintain what power it has left in Asian trade. And any slip on either side could be fatal - for all of us.

The other bit worth reading is the editorial because it's so contemptible. Just months ago, the TandT dumped all over Dr. Cleary because she dared to criticize fracking. They even ignored it when she won a prestigious national award for her work.

Now, the editorial is all love and praise because the shale gas industry desperately needs her support to overcome the mess that it and the Irving press has created through years of lying and fraud. What a collection of slime buckets!

I suspect her position is impossible no matter how she chooses. Neither the government nor the gas industry is going to change its mind in any meaningful way. These people are conscienceless, greedy liars. They aren't looking for Dr. Cleary's input. They're looking to use her.

The only solution to this is at the polls. But simply switching to the Liberals won't do it. That would just be changing gutters.
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And now back to amateur sports.

Amateur sport was a way of defending the dominance of the powerful and rich over the rest of us. We, who couldn't afford to play amateur sport, were by definition without character, the essential quality of leadership.

But that concept lost a good deal of appeal in the twentieth century. That was particularly true in the failure of leadership by the rich in the 1930s, and even more so during the war when civil servants proved to be better managers of the economy than the rich ever had been. So, to this day, we are still in the messiness of rewriting the rules.

One tactic is to ridicule the civil service as inferior to big business, and even to impose business methods on the civil service as an indicator of who's boss. Popularization of that idea is left to hack journalists like Norbert.

In the US, it gets added force by linking it with the American revolution. Just as indviduals must be free, big business must be free. Both are part of God Blessing America. And, of course, the revolution was against unfair taxation. So making the rich pay taxes is unAmerican.

After all, It's their money. They earned it. (The same rule does not apply to the poor,, though. They have to pay taxes because they didn't earn the money; their jobs and incomes were created for them by the rich.) In fact, there was a New Brunswicker not all that long ago who was so insulted at the idea of paying taxes that he moved to Bermuda for just over half of each year to escape paying taxes.

The rich and powerful remain people of high character of course. But they now have an even greater mythology that even they believe. They are wealth creators. Yes. They create wealth.  Yes.

And, like the earls and dukes before them, they ignore the reality. The rich do not create wealth; they absorb it. Anywhere in the world that the rich have gone on their own terms has been driven into poverty, suffering, violence, environmental destruction.... Take a look at Africa, at Central America, at much of Asia...take a look at what is happening to the US.

Today, poverty levels in the US are hitting record highs. As the rich have flexed their muscle to corrupt and even to take over politics, money has flowed like a great river to the rich. Some 150 families in the US control a full half of all the wealth in that country. The incomes of the rich rise by 30% and more every year. The incomes of everybody else rise by less than 1%.

But, and again like the old aristocracy, they delude themselves that they are entitled to be rich and to keep it. They believe they have some qualities that make them superior to others.

The British aristocracy, secure in their belief that they were of superior character and therefore entitled to lead,  lost ground steadily in the nineteenth century due to the rise of commoner capitalists. By the middle of the century, they had fallen so far behind, the couldn't afford the upkeep of their stately homes. That's why you find a stampede of British aristocrats looking for wives from the families of newly-rich Americans.

That's why Winston Churchill's father married an American girl. You'll find her name on a ghost town in Arizona where once there was a spectacularly productive mine.

And so today, the British aristocracy go on thinking, against all the evidence, that they have some inherited character which makes them entitled to be leaders.

Tomorrow, we'll take a look at how our better sort of people maintain their illusions about their superiority - and where that will take us.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Nov. 29: To hell with the Times and Transcript

"Christmas tree season is in full swing.  Wow! Who woulda guessed it?

Tha't the front page headline in today's TandT. Below is the same story as yesterday in the same spot. "Take a tour of New York with TandT.".  On page A12, this "news story"  has the longest two pages of tourist hype I have ever seen, with Brent Mazerolle telling us nothing significant or insightful. And with five dreadfully meaningless and ugly pictures.

This is really dreadful journalism. - an airline ad posing as a news item. Can you imagine Norbert's reaction if CBC were to begin its evening news with, "In tonight's major news, Pinkie's  coffee shop is offering free donuts just for tonight. Out on the spot news analyst has this to say about it...."

There's a half page of photos of the 2013 Grant Thornton Velvet Gala. What is it? Why should I care? Why did they take pictures of these people? Who are they?

Then, in NewsToday, the government sleazes who ignored Dr. Cleary's report on fracking are now asking her to sit on the Energy Institute. That's because they've created a chaos for themselves with their lying and manipulating, and now they need Dr. Cleary to help them out.

Tough call. If she says no, they blame her for being unwilling to help. But if she says yes, they try to steer her into taking blame for the dumb and greedy things they want to do.

Then my computer died, and now, at 6 p.m. I'm starting all over again. That's when I decided to hell with the Times and Transcript. Let's  take a break from it and, instead, take a look at the situation we're in, and how we got  here and, maybe, how we can get out.  And maybe the best place to do that is with the modern Olympic Games which began in the 1890s.

Seriously.

The modern Olympic Games were intended to be for amateurs only.  That tells you a lot about the social structure of New Brunswick.

The aristocrats of Europe ruled Europe for centuries. They did it by pure force. They could afford the weapons and armour. Us peasants couldn't. But, like aristocrats throughout history and up to the present day, they never admitted, even to themselves, that they owed their leadership to wealth and brutality.

Those who have power always have to invent nice reasons for how they got it, and why they are entitled to use it. Some, like Roman emperors, claimed to be Gods. Later kings, more modest, said they were entitled to rule because that's the way  God wanted it. (Elizabeth, by the grace of God.....)

Now, the aristocrats of Europe were not, for the most part, a brainy lot. No, they preferred outdoor sports like bashing each other over the head with spiked clubs. And it was useful for them to keep in shape for bashing peasants who got out of line.

But, well, that really didn't sound like a good reason for entitlement. They needed something with more character to it. Yes. That was it. Their sports built character. It was superior character that entitled them to rule, and that required lesser folk to obey them.

That's why, over the years, a tradition developed that only the better class of people were permitted to play certain sports. And the better class of course, was made up of the rich ones. Ordinary people were not allowed to play, say cricket or rugby because a) they were not born with the character to rule b)they would get ideas above their station c) the might develop silly ideas about being equal.

Oh, peasant women could have walking races. The peasant men could shoot arrows because that was training them for the army without the need to pay for their training. But it was understood that walking races and bows and arrows had no character building qualities in them.

Baseball was understood to be for the lower orders only. Originating from a whole series of ball games in Britain, its roots had always been among the common people - and was therefore acceptable because it had no character building power.

Hockey began as an upper class game only. Alas! It professionalized very early in its North American life. That professoinalizing meant that poor people who couldn't afford to join a sports club could play hockey because it would cost them nothing - and they would be paid for it.

Luckily for football, it didn't professonalize until much later. So it became established in North America as a character building sport for the rich. To this day in North America, almost all football players are university graduates - and most hockey players are not.

The founder of the modern Olympics specified the games were for amateurs only. That was because he wanted only those athletes from the moneyed class, the ruling class. Fearful of the war that would come to Europe in 1914, he wanted to assure France of an officer class (drawn from the ruling, moneyed class) that was strong of character. Ordinary people mixing in the games would just be in the way.

That attitude is still retained in sports like cricket and polo and, indeed, the basic oganization of the Olympics. In fact, as a general rule, the belief that there is a link between sport and character and leadership remains a central myth of support.

That connection between power and social class and character remains a central factor in New Brunswick life. We still retain the connection between these and entitlcment to rule. However, another myth has been added to the mix.

I'lll write about that tomorrow.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Nov. 28: back, trying a different computer.

A strange story on p.1 "TandT tours the Big Apple". It seems we have an airline that connects Moncton to New York. And that gave TandT editors the idea of sending Brent Mazerolle to New York to write some stories about how much one can do in New York in a weekend.

Does that sound right to you? Are Monctonians chafing at the bit to go to New York? I mean, why go to New York when you live in the Hub where people are so eager to come we need an events centre?

So think over this possibility. The airline, which is not doing well on its New York flights, offered a free weekend in New York for a reporter who would write up some stories on what fun New York is. And the TandT is always happy to run an ad as if it were a story.
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Nothing else in Section A. So let's talk about why there never is much in the TandT. I believe I mentioned yesterday that a person who wants to become a good reporter should not get a job at the TandT. Reporting is not something that just takes journalism school training. You need  years of experience under tough, knowledgeable editors to get to learn How to dig for the real story.

But that never happens at the TandT. I don't know whether the editors are just the sloppy seconds from the rest of journalism world, or whether they deliberately publish shallow reports in order to keep New Brunswickers ignorant so they don't get in the way.  But digging for the story just doesn't exist.

For example, the story about Moncton city council paying almost $400,000 dollars to a wealthy man so that he would graciously keep his hockey team in the city. (and forget that crap about how it had to be kept a secret for business reasons. That simply isn't true.)

So here's a big story of squandered public money. And it's out. So why didn't an editor say to a reporter, "Okay. There's nothing here now that it is justified to hide. So get after the mayor and councillors. Find out if this was put clearly to council. Did council discuss it? Who was in favour, and who against? Why? Did council vote? Who voted for t his? Who voted against."

This is all information essential for voters in anything called a democracy. And once the story was out, there was no point to hiding this information.

In another recent case, we had the unusual sight of men in military camouflage and carrying combat rifles. The paper had not a word explaining them - but this is surely not a common sight in Canada.

It seems they are a branch of the RCMP; but that is scarcely enough to explain them.

In the US, government is "militarizing" the police, in effect making them into an army. But this is an army that will never go overseas because the enemy is in the United States. The enemy the American people.

So it  has come to Canada. But why? Are we Canadians the enemies of our own government?

Yes, we are. Because it's not our own government. It is a government to protect the interests of big business. And when we get in the way of big business, we are the enemy. Thus the appearance of "paramilitaries" in camouflage suits with combat rifles.

At the present time, the enemies of big business are native peoples. And Harper has declared war on them. That's why "smirky" Goguen and other Conservative MPs were delivering that racist flyer about a year ago.

But don't worry. Our time will come if we don't accept the rule of our new masters.

In the US and, it seems, in Canada, democracy is the old way.

There's related news in NewsToday. From now on, says Harper, the major purpose of our foreign policy, almost the only purpose, is to attract business. So there will be no wasted time on dealing with climate change; and if we fight wars, it will be to make Canada safe for big business.

That foreign policy, combined with "paramilitaries" to deal with Canadians who disagree should look after any problems. We are now officially a nation in which nothing matters but what big business wants.

Oh, and don't forget our secret police. We have them, operating closely with NSA in the US. They freely exchange information. They also, both of them, share that information with big business on a regular basis.

That foreign policy, by the way - or lack of it - means we will be drawn in fighting other people's wars - particularly those of the US - since we have no foreign policy of our own.

But don't worry. You'll never read any of this nasty stuff in the TandT.
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A poll shows that Monctonians have a declining faith in their city council. The TandT editorial, with no evidence at all, says that's because council is not doing everything that the TandT  tells it to do.

Norbert has the nerve to criticize the CBC for being sloppy and fad-driven  in its journalism. He ignores it's infinite superiority to a lying, shallow, and trivial Irving Press. Of all people who should criticize journalism,  Norbert should be last.

His closing quotations says that most news is just entertainment, nothing more. Norbert, if the TandT were just entertaining, that would be a huge step up.

Rod Allen is back to being the family bore.

Jody Dallaire and Alex Bruce are the only two in the paper worth reading.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

nov. 27 - addendum

a short note to tell you the blog just sent for today is a mess. large parts are missing. some is repeated. I've had electronic interference for days now, and just with the blog site. rush off now before it freezes on me again.
 

Nov.27: A remarkably vacant paper - even by Irving press standards.

If you don't read the first section at all, it will make no difference whatever in your life. The lead story isn't a story at all; it's a promo for the retail trade at Christmas. "Metro shoppers read for Black Friday". Think about it.

If shoppers are ready, how would a newspaper possibly know that? They would have to interview at least half the city. And they didn't. In fact, most of the story isn't about metro shoppers at all. This is sloppy, pointless, boring and irrelevant. And it's the big news of the day.

That's why I advised Cole Hobson (the writer of this travesty) to get out of New Brunswick. He could be a good reporter - but not working for an outfit that wastes our time with crap like this. And that's the best part of Section A.
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NewsToday actually has four pages of news. Too bad only one. the first,  of those pages has any news on it - unless you really, really care that the Nova Scotia auditor wants more staff.

"New watchdog urged for prison system". This is about the Ashley Smith death in a prison cell while guards watched. But it has a broader meaning.

Harper, always thinking of votes, has increased prison terms, and tolerated tough running of prisons. That's a sure way to attract the moron vote. What has happened, in a time of declining crime rates, is that prison population is growing. So is the cost of running them. That is the experience of any country that has ever tried to solve crime by "getting tough on it".



Indeed, what happens is what has happened in the US. Instead of going down, crime goes up. And the prisoners come out much worse than when they went in - and quite unequipped to make a living honestly even if they wanted to.



Over half of this blog, the first half, is missing. I have had electronic inter
ference with the blog site, and just the blog site, all day.


Oh, yes, and Harper is also spending more money on prisons than ever we have in history - to get worse results.

I might add that prisons are also showing an uglier trend. Hint - if you don't want to go to prison, or if you want a short sentence, try to be born white. The proportion of native peoples and African-Canadians is in a steep rise in prisons.

No, it's not because such people are born with criminal tendencies. It's because we're such a racist society that we create these problems, then blame others for them - and that makes us easy pickings for frauds like Harper.

There's also a good story on child poverty. It's on the rise, and has been for last twenty years. Government vowed that long ago to do something. So why has Harper done nothing? Because he doesn't give a damn. There are no votes in ending child poverty. There are votes in cutting taxes for the rich, killing environmental programmes to please big business, and giving out wildly overpriced shipbuilding contracts to billionaires.

And there's a good story on the auditor's report that the federal government is slow, really slow, to respond to recommendations that would make it more efficient.
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Norbert has a column on Monty Python. I like Monty Python, too. But I don't see the point of a column to say Monty Python is funny. Most people figure that out for themselves. Op Ed has a trivial column by Eric Lewis, and a real sinkhole of irrelevance by Brian Cormier.

Great letter by Stuart Mills of Fredericton. He knows that frackinng is good because - wait for it - he did research by reading his Time Almanac for 2006. And so another great mind from Fredericton graces our pages. (I still have no call about my letter to the editor.)
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Okay. back in the saddle. (I've wasted my day try t o save the first half of my blog.

Pope Francis make quite a statement that the TandT just didn't have room for. He says capitalism has become a new form of tyranny, that a government should ensure that its people have adequate of dignified work,  education and health care., that the rich should be made to share the wealth.
He said he would prefer a church that is bruised and hurting and dirty because it has been out in the streets to one that is unhealthy from confinement, and from clinging to its own sense of purity.

It would be nice if the pope could write something like that for the Protestant clergy of Moncton. Or perhaps it could be read out to the congregation for the hired rev. at the Irving Chapel.
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On a side note, Canada's peacekeeping is down close to  nothing. But, apparently, we are very active which special ops (trained assassins) on which we work closely with the US. I can't find out whether they are out killing at random like their American brethren because the government won't release any information about them.

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This has been the day from hell with constant interference with my computer. And it happens ONLY on the blog, no other site. However, I may have figured a way around it.

Nov. 27 DELAY

For a couple of weeks, my computer has been behaving  oddly.  And only when I am working on the blog. It constantly claims I am not connected to the web but, with fiddling, I can get it working again. Curiously, in this "unconnected time" I can always used my other computer (this one) which shares that web connecction.

Lately, it has added a trick - to freeze. It just did that; and now it won't respond to anything. This comes when I am just a few lines from finishing. I can get the use of another computer to start again - but that will take several hours.


And this happens ONLY on my blog site.

The TandT has still not responded to my  letter to the editor. However, it did publish an informative note on  fracking from a scholar in Fredericton who said it is perfectly safe.  He did his research in Time Almanac for 2006.

I hope to get back to this in three or four hours..

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nov. 26; MORE APOLOGIES

I've lost over a day now with both computers acting strangely. They claim they're not connected to the web when I do a blog - but seem connected for all other purposes. As well,  I still have not had a call from the TandT - which pretty clearly suggests they will not be printing my letter on the business group that is muscling into our schools to do some brainwashing.

(On the good side, after getting by on four or five hours sleep a night for a month or more, I got a full eight hours last night, and another four this morning. But this will have to be a rushed blog because I have children to feed, drive, etc.)


Check today's headline for useless information. Consumer confidence  in Moncton is good. Does that mean the economy is good? No, It means nothing except how people feel. - and those kinds of results makes me wonder who they asked.  They certainly didn't ask the people mentioned at the bottom of the page "Christmas charities need help" Lots are going not only giftless but hungry.

The theme is picked up in Alan Cochrane's column on op ed :Annual food drives help define our sense of community"

Yeah. It says food drives show we're a community. Yep. Sort of, for one day a year.

Actually, we're better than that. After all, look at how nice we were to Mr. Robert Irving with several hundred thousand dollars so he won't have to worry about food costs for this year.. And to those nice people who want to take over the education and raising of our children. You want our children. Mr. Alward says, "no problem."

We are, in fact, a community that doesn't give much of a damn about the hungry and the homeless. After all, it's their own fault Right? Anyway, we need the money for essential things - like a new hockey rink.

Ask any of our clergy. They'll tell you . "we…well….we…you have to understand….we…uh…"

Oh, there is a little story about the arrest of protestors in Rexton. Amazing how they can report so long on that without mention the name - you know - Irving.
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NewsToday is one, lousy page. The point, one assumes, is not to let New Brunswickers know they're part of a whole world full of people..

On the Iran peace settlement it says nothing, so we know nothing how Israel and Saudi Arabia are trying desperately to break it so we can all bomb Iran - possibly sparking a nuclear war. They have lots of help from Republicans in the US who seem eager for a war - no connection, I'm sure, with oil companies, and with their desire to dominate the world.

Those who want this war are isolated from virtually all the rest of the world. But they aren't isolated from Canada. Harper is, with Saudi Arabia and Israel, the only world leader in favour of a war.  Why?

Well, it really has nothing to do with Iran. It has to do with votes.

Harper depends on getting strong support from voting blocs - like the "Ford Nation". A key bloc is the Canadian zionist vote which he won over from the Liberals by promising complete agreement with Israel on whatever it does. (However, this is about winning votes. That's it. So he never commits himself to actually do anything for Israel.)

This is the usual game. He has said he expects the Iran deal to fail. Zionists like him to say that. (Iran's fault, of course. Actually, Israel has already threatened nuclear war against Iran - but Harper never mentions that.) But you can bet that if a war breaks out, Harper's only contribution will be to give donuts to the men other countries send to fight it.
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Exciting news in the editorial. The writer admits there is such a thing as global warming and climate change. So he suggests we support tidal power - though he doesn't think it's practical. No profit motive.  Oh, well, if there's no profit motive, we might as well all just die in a global catastrophe.

Meanwhile, we should use shale gas. Lots of shale gas.

Oh, incidentally, don't hold your breath on tidal power or any other alternative. Harper has cut off virtually all research funding for alternative sources. Canada might end in ia climate catastrophe. But it will go down with a balanced budget.

Norbert says nothing about something of which his understanding is limited to being of the grouch type. He wants the internet controlled. There is something to be said for that - just as there is for regular news media. But Norbert hasn't figured it out.

And he has his usual disconnected quotation "It is the greatest truth of our age: Information is not knowledge."

Well, yeah. It's also true that you can't gain knowledge without information. So newspapers that don't give us information also deprive us of knowledge. Lie down, and think about it, Norbert__________
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There's a letter to the editor "Preaching political climate correctness" that says there is no climate change, so David Suzuki doesn't know what he's talking about. The writer doesn't list his graduate degrees and papers,etc. But he does live in Fredericton. So he has to taken seriously.

There is also a hilarious letter,
"Profit motive will trump trust factor".  In short, don't worry about big business. If it does anything wrong, government will close it down. That's why nothing bad will ever happen.  Nyah, Nyah that'll show you, Mr. Irving, when premier Alward puts you in your place.……go to sleep my little baby……..
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Oh, wasn't David Suzuki in town last night? Too bad the TandT has so many more important stories it just had to cover like…..well…..you know……like… there are going to be Santa Claus stories on TV this year.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Nov. 25I'm sorry

I've been on this all day - and both computers have gone crazy. I've written the blog twice; they won't send either - though everything else seems fine. On the I Pad, I cannot find over half of what I wrote and saved.

And now it's getting late.

I'll try again tomorrow.

Oh, I also wrote to the TandT about letting a business group with an agenda into the schools to set up a programme (which will not serve students at all.)/ This is VERY dangerous as well as highly improper. Usually, the TandT immediately calls back to check my name and adress. But not this time. So I don't expect to see my letter, either.

I'll try tomorrow.

graeme decarie

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Nov.24: I was more than a step slow on Saturday.

It occured to me a couple of hours after I did my blog. I had gone back to bed,  hoping (unsucessfully) to fall asleep, when I suddenly realized I had missed the full importance of a story in yesterday's paper. I saw it. I mentioned it in my blog. But the importance of it had not hit me.

Premier Alward announced that a French school board will introduce a programme running from kindergarten to high school graduation to train children to be entrepreneurs He followed that with three columns of half-wit gush that were obviously not written by him. (He really needs a new writer.)

The project will be administered by a volunteer organization of which we are told nothing. But it's a safe bet it's an organization of businessmen.

What the hell is such an organization doing interfering in the education system?

It willl train the children, says our premier, to be doers and leaders. Really? Are entrepreneurs the only doers and leaders in our society?

It will develop a sense of responsibility  (Oh? like the bank enterpreneurs who destroyed the US economy by their criminal and selfish behaviour? Like whoever sent that train through Lac Megantic?).

The developmental of enterpreneurial spirit will strengthen school, family and community partnerships. What? People who aren't entrepreneurial. hurt school, family and community partnerships? You mean well over 90% of the people of New Brunswick have lousy families, and are no use to the ommunity?

This is all pure ignorance and blather. Indeed, I doubt very much whether Mr. Alward even  knows what the word "enterpreneur" means. Check the Oxford or any other dictionary, Mr. Premier.

It means a person who finances and operates a business himself, USUALLY WITH A HIGH DEGREE OF RISK.

That's not the future, Mr. Alward. That's the past. Big business of today has pretty much crunched the market for entrepreneurs as even mom and pop shops are now usually owned by large corporations.

Nor does big business of today operate USUALLY WITH A HIGH DEGREE OF RISK. They have government flunkies. They have laws that protect them and expose the rest of us.The rip off what we pay in taxes. And, except at speeches at their expensive dinners, they don't give a damn about community.

Oh, yeah. And they also own most of our news media to keep us in the dark and to tell us lies.

No. The big ones who used to be enterpreneurs don't operate with a high degree of risk any more. And with their massive chains of coffee shops, hardware stores. supermarkets, they don't leave much room for real entrepreneurs. The proportion of entrepreneurs in our society has been dropping for well over a hundred years, and the demand can only go down more.

Whether you or Mr. Irving like it, the future in jobs, in what our society needs, is teachers, civil servants,social workers, journalists (but honest ones), machinists, voters educated enough to see through the sleazy schemes like this one that are imposed on us..

I know big business people like to think that they are the leaders this world needs. Alas! Most of their leadership, as in t his case, is disastrous, based purely on greed and self-love without the slightest thought for anyone else. In fact, all over the world, you will find good leadership by entrepreneurs is extremely rare. If you check a list of the world's poorest countries, like Haiti and Congo and Guatemala, you will find most of them controlled by people who call themselves entrepreneurs. Some have been under that control for a hundred years and more - and they just get poorer, more abused, and more miserable.

So what is this programme really all about? And who is behind it? Well, the school boards are - and that's a clue. I've noticed the school boards contain a high proportion of our intellectually challenged, and are reliable flunkies for big business.

And this scheme has remarkable similarities to others that have been promoted by the Ivings to move in  and control the schools, and to use them for propaganda training.

Think of it. The world has no crying need right now for entrepreneurs - and that is unlikely to change. It does have a need for good civil servants, good manual workers, good teachers....many other areas.

Why train them to be something the world is not short of? And why all of them? And why tart it all up with those wonderful but silly things  Alward says about improving the family, community, etc.?

Because this is not about jobs. It's not about jobs at all. This is about propagandizing a generation to believe that big business is good, civil service is bad, government is bad. This is a heavily political project to train a whole generation and more of Norbert Cunninghams.

And it's disgusting to impose this on our children. Children go to school to learn, not to be propagandized. I've been over fifty years in teaching and youth work. And this one is pure slime.

Oh, yes. The startup will cost a half million. Mr. Alward didn't say whose  half million.

Nov.23: Well, we'll see...

I've been able to sleep only eight hours of the last 48; and I'm deeling like Rob Ford trying to get over a  coke jag by having tea at a clergyment's convention. We'll see. Maybe this will have to be short.

Front page "Mayor clears air on leaks". he TandT has a habit of running the same story two or three times. In this, case, it says nothing more - and perhaps less - than it did the first time. And I have no idea what they mean when they say the mayor has cleared the air.

Mayor Leblanc seems to be trying to convince us that he is upset with leaks about payments to Robert Irving because such leaks "muddy the waters." On the contrary, the water was so muddy before,it was it was black as the pit. It's the leaks that have cleared it so we now know what is going on.

The city gave large sums of money to a private businessman, did not tell us voters, and had no intention of telling us.

Forget the crap about "giving away secrets". There is no secret to give away. Just about every city in North America plays that sucker's game - and whether it's for a diaper factory or a hockey team is irrelevant. Our money was given away, and our elected mayor who is supposed to be accountable to us didn't tell us.

As for the sucker's game part of it, there have been many studies of this. Giving money or tax breaks or whatever to business to lure it to a city seldom works in the long run.

For that matter, anyone who knows anything about capitalism knows that it is NOT a system in which the Robert Irvings of this world are supposed to go around like street people, shaking tin cans in our faces. When they do, it becomes a profoundly corrupting and undemocratic system which has no connection to the idea of capitalism.

And the mayor is asking for a police investigation? Really? Do we have a law that makes it illegal to tell the voters what their elected representatives are doing? If so, doesn't that kind of defeat the whole idea of democracy?

What's happening is that Leblanc is muddying the waters. From the point of view of the voter, it doesn't matter whether the money was spent for a diaper plant or a hockey team. The point is that large sums of money were given out - and kept secret from the voters.

But what you're going to see is the Irving press, the city, and Robert Irving working to confuse the issue by focussing on the diaper plant part of it.

Page A6 has an inspiring story that French schools in the province now have a programme to help students develop entrepreneurial skills. So says Mr. Alward. I hope he will check a dictionary to learn what enterprenurial means. Otherwise, what we'll produce is tens of thousands of children from K to high school graduation acting like the business leaders we have, and learning how to hit the goverments for grants, forgiveable loans and tax breaks.

But why teach all children to become enterpreneurs?The history of the last century and a half has been of the shift to very big business, and a sharp decline in the number of small entrepreneurs. Why train everybody to be something that most of them never will be and cannot be?

Sounds to me like a propaganda programme.
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As usual, there is no significant world news. There are two stories about this anniversary of Kennedy's assassination.Neither says anything that was not said in two stories and three columns yesterday.

That's odd because there has been lots of research on that assassination, and not done by conspiracy freaks  but by serious and competent scholars. And at least one thing seems obvious. Lee Harvey Oswald did not kill Kennedy.

Indeed, that was obvious the day it happened. Oswald was not not an expert shot but, at long distance, he was credited with hitting the small target of a head in a moving car.

Nor did he have much of a rifle. I had a chance to use one many years ago. It is one of the most miserable weapons of the century, and by no means up to high accuracy.

The literature on the assassination - not the ones by people looking for instant best-sellers but by trained scholars who have spent years on it - makes it obvious that he was killed by people in the American government, highly placed people who wanted a much more violent world to extend American power. So they killed him

People like that are now more in charge of the United States than at any point in history. That my help to explain why we now see an Obama who is very different from the man he appeared to be at the time of his first election.
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It would have been nice if somebody at the TandT who knows where Iran and Syria are could have explained the remarkable events of recent days in those two countries - and could have offered some explanation and understanding.
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The sermonette on the Faith  Page is the usual one guaranteed not to hurt anybody's feelings or stimulate any thought. Among the announcements is one of a theological breakthrough, as the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Women's Organization are holding a ham and scallop dinner.

I notice the Faith Page lists only seven churches, all of them Protestant. Nor do I see any representation from Jews or Moslems. Why not?

Somehow, I get the impression the devout owners of the Irving press  must charge for announcements on this page.

Typically, their idea of a Christian (or person of any faith) on this page is a cutesy-sute little girl praying - not a picture of anybody actually doing anything.

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The editorial, predictably, plays the muddying of the water game that was begun with the news story about the city giving money to Mr. Irving. Again, you editorial writers. the issue is not whether it was for a diaper plant or for corporate boxes. They issue is whether we have a right to know how our money is spent.
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Bill Beliveau wanders over three topics without saying much about any of them.

Norbert does the same.

Norbert ends with a quotation from Ronald Reagan, the least quotable of American presidents. It's an attack on big government. Careful, Norbert, if we didn't have big government, who would hand over our money to Robert Irving, or Nova Scotia's money to Irving shipbuilding, or Canada's, also to Irving Shipbuilding for overpriced contracts.

Norbert, don't you know it was the Ronald Reagans of this world that built the biggest and most expensive government in history to spend the citizens' money on  massive corruption in such areas as the defence industry? And the biggest  spying system in history to spy on American citizens and operate totture prisons all over the world? While driving American citizens into poverty?  Certainly, the Robert Reagans are your kind of guys, Norbert. But creators of small government, they ain't.

Do you ever think of what your're saying?

Brent Mazerolle tells a pointless story - which may be just as well.

David Suzuki's column is the only thing worth reading in the paper. And it's really worth it. New Brunswickers get little news of world events in their newspapers; so they often have no sense of being connected to the rest of the world.

But the fact is that the rest of the world, even places we've never heard of, affect us profoundly. Suzuki brings it right home with "Climate change issues involve Atlantic Canadians too"

This is a superb read.
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In whatever, Sabrina Stace offers useful advice on choosing a career. Don't listen to what people tell you. 

My father wanted me to be a machinist or an accountant. My mother thought an office job would be nice. (it wasn't). My grandfather wanted me to be an  engineer - but that became impractical when I flunked out of high school.

By a fluke, I got to work for the Y for a couple of years, mostly with street kids. For the first time, I was in a world I liked. Then I became an elementary school teacher. (I was desparate and needed a regular salary.)  Loved it. Loved teaching at high school, too, and then at university. I still love teaching, and miss it terribly. And it opened doors for me in writing and broadcasting. Loved them all.

Nobody would ever have suggested any of those jobs to the vague, misfit kid I was in my teens. Nor would I have thought of any of them

Watch for the chances, Sabrina; and grab them. Nobody knows what you can do. Even you don't. So don't be shy when the chances come along.

And they will.
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Well, I'm not tired any more.
 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Nov. 22: Back to normal

It's another trivia day - mostly -  in the TandT. A plant in Nova Scotia which does something to onions has laid off workers temporarily because its onions are late in delivery. The news YOU need to know..

"Robert Irving disputes 'misinformation'". His statement tells us little we didn't know, and really makes no difference in the issue of our city council handing out goodies to Mr. Irving. He concludes with a pious statement that "the Moncton Wildcats believes it pays its fair share of the costs towards the Coliseum.."  I"m sure the Moncton Wildcats believe that. But that's not really their decision to make. Is it?

He adds, (the team) "...provides a positive impact to our community.."  And I have no idea what that even means.

It's unfortunate for Mr. Irving that his defence (or defiance) appears in the same paper that has a front page story on how a desperate man climbed into a vacant house to sleep last night. And there he died in a fire.

There are quite a few people in this city who have no decent housing and even no housing at all. But our city needs all the money it can get to help Mr. Irving in his good work,  so important to the community, of making a profit for himself out of a hockey team. It's a good sign that Moncton council has its priorities right.

There's also a big story on the back page of community groups collecting food for the hungry. Those groups deserve unlimited credit for what they're doing.  But there is surely something wrong with governments at any level who leave it up to volunteers to feed a population with large numbers, including children and elderly, to make sure everyone gets enough to eat.

At this season, that reminds me of Macdonald's stores who have advised their underpaid employees to break food and eat it in small bits in order to save money. In the US, some Walmart stores have, with religiosity that only a Walmarts can dream up, asked employees to bring in extra food they have to give to other employees who ocan't afford enough to eat for themselves and their families - you know, with their lousy Walmart salaries.

Hey! I have a great idea. Why don't governments at all levels take responsibility for making sure everybody has a place for shelter, and food to eat.

Then we can get our community groups to voluntarily raise money for Robert Irving.
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The biggest story is that John F. Kennedy had links to New Brunswick. That is, he once visited Fredericton. Wow! That changes everything.

Oh, Lord Beaverbrook was a good friend of Kenney's farher, Joe, when his farther was ambassador to Britain in World War II. How thrilling! That means a New Brunswicker was a good friend of an ex-gangster and liquor smuggler who used his position in Britain to illegally get inside information on Brittish business that helped him get richer by taking advantage of Britain's suffering in the war.

An inspiration for us all.

Recent information from the RCMP seems to confirm what was obvious from the start. Harper was involved in the Senate scandal all along. That means he lied to parliament. That involvment in the scandal is also a crime.

But not to worry. The record of Canadian prime mimisters found guilty of various crimes (like Mulroney accepting bribes) is a very flimsy one.  And there is no record of any punishment ever being handed down. (Well, Mulroney had to pay tax on his bribes - or the ones they knew about.)

Nor is likely to penetrate the minds of faithful voters. Remember, Rob Ford still has the support of 40% of Toronto voters.
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The editorial is one of the best ever. It rises to being neither good nor bad. Nor important.

If you have tears, shed them for Alec Bruce. He's trying to stop smoking. I know the feeling. I began at age 24, buying a pipe so girls would pay attention to me. By thirty, it was cigars then, by 35, three packs of cigarettes a day.

Then, about Alec's age, I just stopped. It wasn't a decision or a tapering off or a resolution. I just stopped, and I've never had any temptation to start again.

And I am now virtuous. Boring. But virtuous.

Norbert's column is that that John F. Kennedy embodied the lost hopes of 'the west'....well to be fair, that's not quite what he says. He full statement is that "JFK 50 years later embodies the last hopes...." The difference between those two statements is subtle - but it's a big difference; and I think Norbert was wise to choose the latter because the JFK of fifty years ago was largely mythical.

In fact, JFK was a rich, spoiled and self-centred son of a thoroughly grasping, unprincipled and self-centred father. He had never been a naval hero. The loss of PT-109 was due to his neglect of duties. That's why the US navy refused to give him a medal for the incident ( despite tremendous pressure from daddy.)

His policies while in office were in no way different from the president before him or the one after. He did nothing for human rights. In fact, he and brother Bobby ordered the FBI to dig up information that could be used against Martin Luther King.

It was JFK who first got the US involved in the disastrous Vietnam war. Even his handling of the Cuban missile crisis is very questionable.

But he was young, good-looking and rich. And the age of television did the rest.
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Cole Hobson has an interesting column on a local group (grown into quite a large one) that encourages random acts of kindness. It's good idea, and it seems to have quite an impact already.

Much as I like it, it makes me uncomfortable when I see the papers almost every day featuring such acts of kindness as though they solve all problems. They don't.

Encouraging random acts of kindness is good for the giver and good for the receiver - but it's of limited help in solving social problems. There are things we can do only in an organized way - as a whole society through the political process. Collecting cookies for poor children at Christmas is nice. But it doesn't solve the problem or hunger.

Brian Gallant, our provincial Liberal leader, has a neat idea in his op ed piece. He wants to expand the forest industry. Okay, maybe, but....

Elections should not be about neat ideas. And the notion that we are going to revive the New Brunswick economy by cutting down more trees, while it might have some effect, doesn't impress me as a dazzler. But in any case should never start the political process with "neat ideas".

We should start with principles and values. What principles and values does the party have? These will be the foundation of its policies. So what are they?

Do you  believe in the principle - as both Liberals and Conservatives have shown they do - that the purpose of political parties is to keep rich people happy? Do you believe as a value that making the rich richer will make all of us better off?

Do you believe that people have a right to basic services? Why? And what are they?

I wouldn't waste a minute on a politician who wants to tell us his or her neat ideas. I want to know the values he or she stands for. I want to know what he or she thinks government should be involved in - and why.

So when I read a column like Mr. Gallant's, all I can think of is, "Mr. Gallant has no principles or values. That's why he's babbling about "neat ideas".
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Keep an eye on The Phillipines. The US is sending massive aid, almost all of it accompanied by huge military force including a nuclear-powered carrier, combat-ready marines and soldiers - very heavy on the military.

Filipinos are probably very, very nervous.

We don't know it because we don't learn Phillipine history. But Filipinos do.

In the years about 1900, the US fought one of the longest and bloodiest colonial wars in history. Filipinos had just expelled the Spanish and established the first republic in Asia. So the US did what it has done many times.

It destroyed the republic. Then it killed half (HALF) of the entire population. It also used torture on a wide scale. (This is where waterboarding was developed.)

Then it stole resources, reduced the people to cheap labour for American owners, keeping the country in poverty for generations. Oh, and it did all those through military rulers, of whom the last was General MacArthur.

After the Japanese occupation, American power returned in the form of a dictator chosen and obedient to the US. That, with profound poverty, lasted for over twenty more years. Filipinos remember.

And now there's that nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and those thousands and thousands of troops.
Filipinos will be wondering why...and they're right to wonder.

It was twenty years ago that The Project for the New American Century published its plan for world dominance, in effect, world conquest by the US.

That means the US has to "contain" China, possibly even to invade it. Thus the importance of the alliances with Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

But they need bases, lots of bases for troops and stockpiles and supply lines - and it needs thsm closer to China. Enter The Phillipines.

Such a war has to happen soon, which may be one reason Obama needs to move his focus from Africa and the Middle East to Asia. (Note well, too, that the US plans to keep troops in Afghanistan long, long after the war there is over.)

A was with China would also have some nuclear elements.

That's why, as filipinos watch American soldiers pouring off their ships, what they are thinking is "When are they going? Are they going?"


 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nov. 21: Not brilliant, but.....

not as bad as usual.

Anything that can be called news is pretty feeble. The headline, for example, concerns the use of the word "holidays" rather than "Christmas" for this period. Please, folks, try to get with it. The common use of "holiday" has been a fact of life in North America for over sixty years at least, as Christmas has been detached from any religious meaning.

Take a look at the TandT's own p.3. The big story is Moncton's Santa Claus parade. What does that have to do with any religious meaning?

The parade will be held on Saturday which is in November. Why so early? To remind people to go to church on Christmas Sunday? Think hard.

P. 4 has a big story about downtown merchants haveing a series of events for the "season". It features an unintentionally amusing and revealing statement by the Executive Director.

 "It is our way of inviting people to shop downtown. What better place to enjoy the true spirit of the season than right here in downtown Moncton?"

Damn right. I always feel  holy when I'm in downtown Moncton, and see local merchants dressed as the Wise Men.

Did I say this goes back at least 60 years? Go back further. Go way back. Read "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. Notice the lack of any scenes featuring a church, the lack of any mention of Jesus? No, Scrooge's spirit of Christmas had everything to do with eating goose, giving presents, and partying. Dickens took his Christianity seriously. But he didn't think the Christian churches did.
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The news section has nothing much - though a couple of the stories, each in its own way, are interesting.

The First Nations member of our Energy Institute has resigned because, he says, the government is usinig the Institute to push its own agenda.

Of course. Everything this government has done on the shale gas issue has been to push its own agenda or, more correctly, the agenda of its boss.

The member of Insistute who resigned is Fred Metallic. And he was a very qualified member of the Institute. He has a PhD, as real one, in Environmental Science. How different, how very different from the man Alward originally chose to lead the Institute.

Then there's the story about the Health Minister (somebody named Flemming) patting himself on tohe back for cutting back on health services. In this, as in every other money issue in the province, most of us get punished for the money we shovel into the pockets of the rich in the form of tax cuts or, to pick an example out ofo the air, hundreds of thousands given to a hockey team owner.

Times are tough? It's the fault of all them poor people.. Make the bastards suffer.
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Apart from two stories above, there is nothing much in NewsToday (as usual). So I jotted down a few that might be of some importance.

1. The Nova Scotia auditor-general has blasted the former NDP government of that province for giving large sums of money, hundreds of millions, to people like Irving. There is no evidence, he says, that such gifts benefit the rest of us at all.  (TandT editors could have learned the story if only they listened to to the hated CBC - which has a  hell of a lot more news than I have ever seen in the Irving press.

It's a mug's game. Giving money to the rich has never benefitted anybody but the rich. And this myth that creating a super-wealthy class will create prosperity is pure bunkum. If it were true, Haitians would be rolling in wealth, the Congo would be crowds of shoppers loaded down with jewelry, the average American would would be partying in his mansion day and night instead of living on food stamps.

The rich have never been richer. Their wealth has been growing spectacularly for decades. But we haven't seen a cent of it. And we won't.

For the NDP, this is a time to remember that it was founded on principles. And one of those principles was not giving our money away to people whose greed knows no bounds. The NDP stands for principles or, like the Liberals and Conservatives, it stands for nothing.

Incidentally, I should love to see such an audit of New Brunswick spending - as on hockey teams, events centres, tax cuts, and other boon doggles..

2. According to The Guardian, some 90 companies have caused 2/3 of all global warming emssions.
And surprise, surprise, most of them are in oil, gas, and coal.

These same companies are also the ones that contribute large sums of money to groups who spread the propaganda that global warming isn't happening. 

Scientists say it is happening, and that we have, at most, 30 years to turn that around.

Of course, Irving Oil would never contribute money to anything so dishonest as denying global warming, and placing our children's lives in danger just so they can make money out of selling more oil.

3. The other story is from Reuters, and it's an especially sad one for me. I grew up in a Montreal district that contained large numbers of immigrants. My school friends were Italian, Polish, Syrians....
My closest friends probably came from the Syrian group.

They were a close community, hard-working, honest, focussed on their church (Syrian Orthodox) that stood not far from my school; and they adored their priest, Father Zarbatani, who was a man of unlimited commitment to his people.

And, oh, yeah, I rermember the girls, too - olive-complexioned with wonderfully dark eyes.

Christian girls in Syria are now being gang-raped, then murdered. Whole communities of Syrian Christians, just like the ones I knew in school suffer looting, then murder. After being a community living in peace with its moslem neighbours for 2,0000 years,Syrian Christians now fear they face their own holocaust, a systematic destruction of all of them.

Who is doing it?

It's the people we call  "the rebels" in Syria, mostly extreme Moslems - who exist because they are paid, equipped, and trained to kill by our good friends the Saudis, and the Americans.

Worse, the hatreds that exist are there largely because the US has created them. Those people lived together for millenia in peace. What created such hatred and slaughter?

It was created by over a century of western intrusion, thievery and brutality in the arab world. The result was hatred of the west, then hatred of the US in particular, and now hatreds of Moslems against Christians, and Moslems against Moslems.

It's a deliberate policy, one that had been used to build the British Empire - divide you enemies, make than hate and kill each other, -  and you will conquer them.

A by-product is what we are now facing, the destruction of Christians in Syria, made possible by American tax money and American weapons.

And, oh, it is painful for me to read this and to see pictures in my mind of the old schoolyard at recess, and friends with names like Bosada and Mefridge and Zarbatani.

Don't worry, though, you won't see anything about this in the sermonette on Saturday's Faith Page. No, it will be something wimpy  about how this would be a better world if people were only nice to each other.
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I began this post with "Not brilliant, but....". So where's the but part.?

It's the editorial and op ed pages.

The editorial at least makes sense. Alec Bruce, Norbert Cunningham,and Rod Allen all deal - and deal well - with the Rob Ford saga. All are well worth reading.

I'll just sneak in the part that bothers me. Forty percent of Toronto voters say they will vote for Ford in another election. He stands for what they believe in.

And, apart from obvious concerns about the intellectual and moral qualities of Torontonians, you know what really scares me about that? What Ford stands for politically are the same things that Harper and the federal Conservatives stand for.

The final op ed piece, by Beth Lyons, is excellent - and (for you parents) it should be required reading for every teen-age girl who spends time on Facebook..
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The Letter of the Day is a piece of federal propaganda to boost the Canada-EU trade pact. It leaves out at least a couple of important facts.
1. It's a deal with a continent that is economically going downhill - and fast.
2, The terms it offers to resource extraction industries will cause us severe and expensive damage.

But it's nice to see a federal politician from the maritimes who knows how to do basic readin' and writin'. (Well, of course, he almost certainly didn't write it himself.)

 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Nov. 20: Words, words, words...and meanings....

I thought, at first reading, there simply was nothing in Section A of  today's TandT.Then I saw p. A7. "Province willing to consult with First Nation." My, I do wish the politicians and journalists of this province understood the meanings of words.

To consult means to carry on a dialogue between two people or two groups, usually with a desire to come to some agreement. When Alward enters a consultation with a group and it is clear from the start he will not significantly change or cancel shale gas development, that isn't a consultation. When he (or prof Lapierre) enter into meetings which are held in a few spots around the province and involve less than one percent of the population, that is not "consulting the people." When Alward and the newspaper he works for withhold information essential to the discussion, that is not consultation.

In any case, we don't elect politicians so we'll have someone to consult with. We elect them (or should elect them) because they announce the principles, values and priorities they stand for. Then they announce there programmes - showing the connection between programmes, principles, values and priorities..

None of this has happened here. If Mr. Alward has any principles, values or priorities, he has kept them hidden. If he has any programmes, they are the ones dictated to him by his bosses - who have no principles, values or priorities either - except making money as quickly as possibly.
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In NewsToday, the most striking headline is "Downtown Christmas season begins". Wow! Who would have guessed?
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Since nothing worth reportinig has happened in the world, I thought I'd check to be really sure because it's pretty big world, even bigger than, say, Moncton to Berry Mills - so they might have missed something.  For example:

1, Reuters reports that the U.S. military has lost track of 8.5 TRILLION dollars since 1996. That doesn't count the absurdly high contracts handed out to the defence industry. 8.6 trillion is just what went on corruption, buying congressmen, waste, and old-fashioned theft.

Yes, it happens  in Canada, too. Peter MacKay could tell you something about that. But he won't.

A perverted form of capitalism, allowed to run wild, is destroying the US. It has completely destroyed American democracy; it has created enormous poverty in the US as well as other countries; and we Canadians are much, much further down that road that our news media have been telling us.

(Bus we mustn't protest. That would be disobeying law and order.)

2. There are major and violent demonstrations in Haiti  to force the president to resign. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere thanks to almost a century of control by US and western capitalists. Its people live in a squalor of urban shanties,  usually without water or any sanitation.

At least tens of thousands live under rotten canvas shelters without any basic services. Much of the US money sent to them after a terrible hurricane when to American contractors who used it to fill their own pockets. Very little ever got to Haiti.

Haiti had a president, democratically elected, the first one in all those years of living under dictators in service to US big business. But the US didn't like him because he was spending money on schools, hospitals and decent housing.

So they sent troops to arrest the president, and install a puppet. They called it "peacekeeping", and Canada did its usual grovelling act by sending "peacekeeping" troops.

But who cares? It didn't happen anywhere near Berry Mills.

3. The American prison at Guantanamo Bay is closing -sort of. But that does not mean any change for the prisoners. They are simply being moved to other, secret torture prisons the US has around the world. According to international law, they are all being held illegally; and none of them has ever been found guilty of a crime - or even charged.

Too bad we don't hear all the "law and order" people in New Brunswick shouting about that.

4. News out of Afghanistan is that, by a new agreement, the US army will not be pulling out but will be stayinig on indefinitely - and paying billions to maintain the Afghan government (which will mostly go to corruption.)

Isn't that bizarre?I mean, here's a war the US started without giving a reason. (yeah,yeah, 9/11 - but there is still no evidence that Afghanistan had anything whatever to do with that.)

So why is the US army staying? Who knows? And why did it invade in the first place? Who knows?

And why did Canada send troops to get killed in that war? Who cares?

Canadians made a big thing of lining up to welcome back the remains of the dead that paraded down the "heroes' highway".  Too bad they never bothered to ask why we had sent them in the first place.

6. Remember the "Arab spring"? And how the Arab world was going to blossom into democracy?
Now, it doesn't survive in a single country. And in almost every case it was destroyed by western countries, notably the US. The most recent collapses of democracy have been in Syria and Egypt - both with the US playing a hand.

Canada was there, too. We bombed Libya. Today, Libya is a land of murder, robbery and terror, with no government at all.

Ah, the march of democracy.
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The editorialist continues the passionate defence of the right of city council not to tell us what it is doing with our money.

The editorialist uses the example of a contract with the Rolling Stones to argue that some deals should be kept secret because because competing cities might become aware of how we attract shows, and would steal our secrets.

Come off it.

Those "secrets" get out pretty quickly in the business world. Nor is there the slightest reason to see how even this example could have any connection with giving out hundreds of thousands of dollars to Robert Irving to keep his hockey team here (or to open a diaper factory.)

By the reasoning of Mayor Leblanc and the editorialist, virtually all government should be done in secret. And that's their idea of law and order.

Mine is somewhat different. We live in a democracy. It is essential, then, that we know what our elected representatives are doing. To me, then, law and order does not mean getting the RCMP to investigate an act that informed us. Law and order should mean calling in the RCMP to find out who and why suppressed information that we, as members of a democracy, had a right to know.
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Norbert Cunningham continues what seems to be an Irving press campaign to sell premier Alward as a cuddly teddy bear. But I'm afraid his resemblance to any such creature begins and ends in Alward's head. Norbert's point is summed up in three choices he says we have:

1." pipe dreams of ideogues with no reference to hard realities."

 Norbert, do you know what ideologue means? Are you aware that you are an ideologue? And far the thickest one I have ever encountered?

2." continued pandering to whims of the entitled while pretending hard realities aren't really that bad and hopinig that the ever closer crisis will hold off longer still..."

Norbert, what the hell are you babbling about? Who are the entitled that you refer to? The only entitled people I have seen in this province are your bosses, the Irvings. Are you saying the Irvings are t he ones guilty? Or is  "entitled" a sneer at the poor? Or does it mean something - I don't know, with meaning only to you? Exactly who are the entitled you are talking about? and tell us what you think entitled means. (Forgive me for my doubts about your understanding of the meaning of words.)

3."realistically taking concrete action to encourage real d evelopment with potential to make a difference, combined with prudent measures," etc.

Norbert - what does that mean? It's not very specific, is it? roughly, it means doing good things.

Then he says that virtually every realistic plan has so far been rejected, resisted, vigorously protested or ignored. Get real, Norbert. The only qualified and scientific study of this question, the Cleary Report, was rejected, resisted, protested or ignored by ostriches like you and your bosses.

The one report you cheered for was the fraudulent one drawn up by an academically unqualified imposter (prof. Lapierre - remember him?)

Norbert, you don't know what words mean. You clearly have not the faintest knowledge of your subject or even of basic logic. And you seem to be unaware of the basic problem that underlies all the rest.

Climate is changing. It's changing very fast. It seems to me that just recently, even you had the wit to recognize that the debate is over. Climate change is coming. In fact, it has arrived for much of the world.

And what causes global warming? Fossil fuels. And what is shale gas? It's a fossil fuel.

Even if Dr. Cleary is wrong about the effects of shale gas development (something nobody has ever shown and that you have never had either the courage or the brains to discuss), we are still faced with one hell of a problem in dealing with fossil fuels. And Canada is one of the most backward countries in the world  in taking action.


Norbert, think. Even if developing shale gas is a pure as a devout , female cockroach in a convent, the world will be able to use for no more than a very, very short time. And a short time is not much of a future for New Brunswick.

The reason we are developinig shale gas has nothing to do with the future of New Brunswick. It has nothing to do with producing even short term benefits for the people of New Brunswick. It has everything to do with producing quick profits the entitled ostriches you work for.

Boy, it would be fun to debate  you in public, Norbert. But,  alas, I also know that you would never, never put yourself on the line like that.
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Eric Lewis has a column on how we should be watching the councils spend money. That's not the official opinion of Irving press, Eric. Do you have plans to move on?

Brian Cormier continues his endless series of columns about nothing.  Read it. It gives a new meaning to have nothing to do.

Then we have a letter to the editor from a Stuart Mills of Frederiton, who seems to have learned his reasoning skills from the Norbert Cunningham School of Logic.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Nov. 19: Mayoor Leblanc cheers for openess and transparency - except....

....when he wants closedness and a soundproof wall.

I quite understand what he means when he says it's a competitive world out there. But it's supposed to be a democratic world in here. When we elect public officials, we expect to to be able to hold them accountable - and we cannot hold them accountable if we don't know what they've done. That is glaringly obvious in the case of payoffs to Robert Irving for being so kind as to own a hockey team here.

Then Leblanc says the deal was public knowledge from the start. Oh? Well, if it was public knowledge from the start, why does he now claim there was a leak? And, if it has been public knowledge for years, why is he calling on the RCMP to investigate it?

With money we've spent (that we know about) we seem to be losing a lot of money in trying to please a hockey owner when only a very small proportion of people care enough to go to the games.

Brent Mazerolle wrote the story. So it makes not attempt to be critical or to question anything the mayor says.  This isn't a news story; it's a PR press release.
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Also on p. 1, "Dennis Oland released on bail"

So who cares? All he has done in life to justify all this coverage was to be born with the name Oland. (Of course, if he'd been born Irving, the story wouldn't have made the paper at all.)

And all the above is pretty much the TandT's Section A bowl of pabulum for today.
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NewsToday, as every day, ignores most of the world. The only surprising news is "Canada's climate change record panned". Of some 58 industrialized nations examined, Canada ranked 55th in dealiing wiht greenhouse emissions. A report from the Centre for Global Development ranked Canada 27th for its record - 27th of the world's 27 wealthiest nations. Polling by the David Suzuki Foundation shows Canadian confidence in the government's approach to climate change has dropped from 59% to 53%.----?????????????

What? 53% still have confidence in the government that has destroyed virtually all environmental regulation, has throttled scientific research on the environment and climate change - and is signing treaties for foreign resources companies to come and take what they want doing all the damage they want - and has done nothing whatever, nothing, to meet its obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emmissions that cause climate change.

Are Canadians that dumb?

Well, I'm sure some are. I mean, if some weren't pretty dumb, Harper would never have become prime minister n the first place. But it's more than that.

Most of the press in North America has been super kind to the oil industry in ignoring the damage it is  doing, and the catastrophe it is causing. So how can people know these things when their news media don't tell them?

How many TandT stories have you read on the damaging effects of shale gas, of pipelines, environmental pollution.....? And are you still waiting for news of what killed 47 people in Lac Megantic?

I suppose, too, there are people who assume that western oil companies wouldn't do such terrible things to western peoples like us. No.

They happily murdered a half million people in Iraq, and are now destroying Libya and Syria with more to come. Their buddies in mining murdered a quarter million in Guatemala.

But those foreigners aren't, you know, us. They look different. And they're used to being killed. No. We can trust our oil and mining companies - and that nice Mr. Harper.

And if you have doubts, you can always trust the reports from Atlantic Insitute of Market Studies. That nice Mr. Irving keeps a close watch on it to make sure it always tells the truth.

Fifty-three percent of Canadians have faith in our government on matters of climate change and pollution and environmental destruction. Lord love a duck.
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Alec Bruce's column does not have one of its great moments today. Essentially, it is a portrait of our premier as a sweetheart whose fault is he is too open in discussing matters, too democratic in encouraging citizen involvement.......

This is bullshit. He's consultative? That would mean h e listens to people. It doesn't mean he calls meetings in church halls to listen to his propagandists. It means he listens. He is prepared to change his policies if people give him convincing reasons. He makes sure the people are fully informed on issues.

Alward doesn't do any of that. His consultations are cheap shows. He hides the information we need. He ignores the only expert report on shale gas that we have. He pulls in a fraud to write a counter-report that the fraud isn't capable of reporting. (note, by the way, that the RCMP is being called in to investigate a leak at city hall. So where is the investigation of Prof. Lapierre? How much was he paid? By whom? Who was he connected with? But that investigation isn't going to happen, is it?)

Alec, if Alward is your sweetheart, you kiss him. Don't expect many others to pucker up.


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Norbert's column, that we don't need politicians and government is just plain silly. Do you  understand the word democracy, Norbert? It refers to giving power to us people by making us the ones who choose who will govern us. Admittedly, it doesn't work well here in New Brunswick. But without government, the word democracy has no meanting whatever. Are you seriously presenting us with a column that says we should do away with democracy?

And can you name a single society in all the history of this world which has succeeded for any time at all without having a government?

And how can you forever belittle politicians while still ignoring the basic problem we face with them? Many of them, far too many of them, are owned and controlled on strings by big business - you know, those rich people you are always kissing up to.

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In all of this edition, vapid even by the standards of Irving press, there is a good letter to the editor. "Turn Highfield Square into a park."

The reality is that the events centre is a scam, starting with the land sale. It's a scam that will never make money (except for those with whom the city council makes secret agreements). It will be an expensive curse for generations to come. This letter to the editor is a very well reasoned one.
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It's always a problem that there is so much trivial crap to discuss in the Irving press that I can never get around to the real news. And when I do get to it, it has to be short.

What's going on witn the chaos in Moslem world?

1. You cannot push your ways and values on another society without creatiing instability and even chaos in that other society. Then we blame the other side for being chaotic.

The effect of our intrusion on the Moslem world has been to greatly heighten tensions between Islamic sects. Sometimes, often, it creates extreme governments and civil wars.

As western powers have extended around the world, they have encouraged that strife in a strategy called divide and conquer. Britain, for example, encouraged hatred between Hindus and Moslems by favouring the latter That's why we now have an India, and a separate Pakistan, both with nuclear arsenals.

The US, Britain, France now encourage hatred among Moslem sects. That's what the chaos in Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and, maybe, Iran is all about. The last thing in the world that the US wants is democracy in those countries. It wants to control them. Destroying their governments and internal order is a good way to do that. And you do it by supplying some groups, sometimes both sides, with money and weapons - and often with killer squads.

A divided middle east and Africa will make it possible for the US to shift its attention to its big challenge - a China which will be outproducing the US in a half dozen years.

The damage caused by divide and conquer, and by interference in other societies,  can last centuries. We should know. The impact of us on native societies has been more devastating than we can imagine. The healing is going to take a long, long time. And the process of healing isn't being helped by a government which spreads ignorance and bigotry across this country in order to lay more pipelines and pump more greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Nov. 18: how to lie without actually lying...

"Moncton council to discuss leaked documents"  Page 1.

Now, here's something we've seen before - a news story that would never appeared in the Irving press if it hadn't appeared on CBC news. Left to itself, the TandT would have ignored it.

It's a story about a member of the family that owns the Irving press. Can you spell "conflict-of-interest"?  It's about the city council making a deal with Robert Irving to pay him hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep his hockey team in Moncton. - and something about diapers.

That, at least, was the story as reported on CBC. But today's Irvinig press is actually a different story. They shifted the focus so it wouldn't seem to have anything to do with city councillors or the Irvings from doing anything wrong at all.

The Irving Press story is that it is wrong for citizens to know what is going on with the taxes they pay to the city council that they elect and that is anwerable to them.. Of course,they don't say that. No. They say a certain amount of confidentiality is necessary when dealing with private business. Right. Why, if we keep letting stories like this out, big business will go away and stop giving us all these wonderful chances to get ripped off.

And who was chosen to write this twisty little story that takes us away from the real one. It was Brent Mazerolle. I knew it would be him as soon as I saw the headline.

The only other story, unless you get really excited by a full page of pictures of university students dressed up in silly ways for a football game, is on A7 in which a doctor, I regret to say, says we should make everyone pay fees, even if the very poor pay only low fees.

Now, I dislike any fees because even token ones are the thin edge of the wedge for privatized health care in which the wealthy get great care, and most of the rest of us get none. (Nor do I see how the very poor are going to reduce costs to any significant degree while making only token payments. The doctor seems to be just one of those people who feels everytning should be open to private profit, and the poor are beneath contempt.)

Dr. Furlong also has a quite false statement. Referring to the years 1900 to 1920, he says, "We've quadrupled costs in 20 years." Really? Damn. And silly me has been thinking this is just 2013.

Then he says, we don't have better health as a result of health care. Really? I'd like to see more information on that. After all, if Dr. Furlong is right, and if they don't do us any good, we should just get rid of doctors and hospitals altogether. It would not break my heart to see the Dr. Furlongs of this world go somewhere else.
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There's an interesting story in NewsToday, page 1"Tornadoes sweep through U.S." It's a story of tremendous winds coming very late in the season, and wiping out whole towns. A weather expert says storms in that area are usually weaker, and usually do not appear at all so late in the season. However, he added, temperatures have been getting higher, and that unleashes bigger storms.

Nothing to do with climate change.

That one page is it for world news. Once again, reading the Irving press is remarkably like staring at your own bellybutton all day.
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Gwynne Dyer has a dynamite column on the catastrophic conditions in the Middle East and North Africa that could drive us into a share of that catastrophe. I hope it works out as the disaster he says it will be because, if it doesn't, the disaster will be an even worse one.

Dyer thinks that sectarian wars and chaos will continue, but there will be peace with Iran. I wish I could be so confident. But Israel and Saudi Arabia are determined on a war - an officially and heavily enforced Jewish state is in league with the most notoriously rigid Islamic dictatorship in the world. And both, though dependent historically on the US, have pretty well publicly told Obama to go to hell on the issue.

And that's quite a sign of the collapse of American influence in the world.
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Steve Malloy has a column, a very angry one, on how some (very few) native shale gas protestors defaced the Canadian flag. That's dangerous topic that requires careful handling.

Canada is full of racism. There is considerable racism directed at native peoples by Canadians who are both ignorant and bigoted.(Check out two of today's letters to the editor.)  Harper has played on the ignorance and bigotry to effectively declare war on native peoples. Beware of encouraging that racism.

The incident of dishonouring the Canadian flag was the word of only two or three people. A full column on that gives new life to all the bigots.

Dishonouring the flag is certainly wrong. And that means it was wrong when we dishonoured the flag by deliberately starving thousands of native peoples to death on the prairies. We dishounoured it when we forced native parents to give up their children to government schools that subjected them to orphanship, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, physical abuse, and even death.

We dishonoured it when we put innocent Canadian citizens into prison camps in both world wars.

We have committed some quite horrible acts under cover of our flag. And we all did it. That's a lot worse than what two or three people did at the blockade.

You also say you don't have enough information about fracking to come to a conclusion. Sorry. You have to come to a conclusion one way or the other. You are not just an innocent bystander.

And why don't you have enough information? Dare I guess it is because the newspaper you work for has withheld information? Has lied? Has spread propaganda? Has refused to dicuss the only valid scientific evidence we had - in the Cleary report?

If you don't have enough information, can't you at least tell which side is actively lying and hiding information? And can't you guess which side stands to gain from lying.

Anyway, the issue is not just fracking. It is the continued encouragement of fossil fuels, the use of which is visibly making our climate steadily more dangerous. If you want evidence of that, check out the Arctic ice cap which is now back to where it was almost 150,000 years ago.
  Think of what that means to water levels, water temperatures, marine life....

And if you want the Canadian flag to be honoured, a good way to do it might be to get rid of a premier and a prime minister who dishonour it by having some of the worst records in the world for taking action to save us from the consequences -and all so greedy billionaires can get even richer before the inevitable happens.
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 I present here an item that appeared in a native publication. I don't know enough about the subject to comment on the publication's general worth. But I do have some experience of one topic it covers.

http://westcoastnativenews.com/security-firm-protecting-SWN-hired-company-owned-by-ex-con-who-claimed-undercover-work-for-RCMP-in-Akwesasne/


It says the SWN security guards are led by an ex-con who did time for violent crime. He later became an RCMP informant and maybe, more than that, an agent provocateur. (And there is also, it says, some connection between his firm and the Irvings. Of course, that can't be true, not of the sort of people who patronize the Irving Chapel where you can see God's flowers blooming, and hear  a high class preacher.)

Coming from my one-time job with the YMCA working with gangs who received considerable attention from the police, I know a good deal about the use of gang members as informants. It's a standard practice. And I also knew of informants who committed crimes to provoke incidents that would give police a reason to move in.

In later years, I would spend hours in a prison with 25 or so men in for violent crimes, mostly murder, all of whom swore they were innocent. Here, too, there was a lot of interplay with police - not all of it to the credit of the police.

What it leads to is this. There often develops a special relationship between police and criminals, a relationship that allows both groups to play loose with the law. Informants can be helpful. But the world that mixes informants and police can be an ugly one.

So let's take SWN security.  The article says the leader of it has been a violent criminal. Is it possible that other guards are criminal?  Of course. Both crime and security require the same quality, a love of violence. That's why I also saw people I thought headed for crime who ended up as policemen. They were attracted by the idea of being able to use violence, "to keep people in line". And I well remember one policeman who left the force to go into some murky business, and who set up his partmer for a gangland murder.

What happens with a group like SWN security is it ends up working in close cooperation with the police  Sounds good?

Not really. The duty of the police is to enforce the law. The duty of the police is not to form an alliance with SWN for the profit of SWN.  Serving the public and the law is not the same as serving SWN.

The police have to be ready to take action against SWN security if such is justified, if, for example, SWN provokes a dangerous situation for its own benefit. But that won't happen if the police and SWN become allies.

Some informants are necessary. But they also take you down into a murky world in which the difference between police and criminals can become vague.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nov. 17: Sorry to be late today...

....and the blog may not be long...I seem to be quite sick with something.

So we'll talk ethics.  Journalism ethics.

There really are such things, though they have never been closely observed by most news media. Among newspapers, the Irving press are the sorriest lot in a generally soggy Canada.  But what are ethics?

Well, for a start, you don't exploit the misery of people who have suffered a terrible experience. That is particularly  true of running pictures of those who are grieving. There are circumstances in which it is permissible to do do - but you don't do it simply to sensationalize their misery.

You don't write a headline for laughs just to show how clever you are - especially when it's not a funny story. I shall never forget the Hong Kong headline I saw some years ago. A women had invited a neighbour into  her flat for a cup of tea. He took advantage of that to rape and beat her. The headline?

"That was some cup of tea"

You don't word stories in such a way as to stir up hatred for any group. The US killed millions of innocent people with Agent orange in Vietnam, and another half million at least in Iraq - again largely innocent people. The US has murder squads operating in as many as a hundred countries. There is a network of secret US torture prisons around the world. The victims in them are not first proven guilty of anything or even accused of being guilty of anything. (Only seven of the prisoners at Guantanamo have ever been charged and and convicted.) The US operates drones that kill illegally, and killed civilians in the thousands all over the world. (There is no sensationalism. All the above in simple statement of facts.)

But I have never seen a newspaper refer to the US policies as terrorism.  Nor have I ever seen an article arguing that what drives this brutality and murder is Christianity.

Compare that to articles and news stories about Moslems. In many newspapers, it is simply assumed that all Moslems are terrorists. And half-baked columnists born into bigotry (Dave Frum springs to mind) have no trouble peddling their hate liberature in papers like The National Post.

Ethics means that you don't write  misleading stories. When the CBC publishes a story that the Irving Press doesn't want anybody to know about (which happens ever day, partly because CBC has the strongest set of ethics in the Canadian news media). the Irving press will usually ignore it if it can. If it can't ignore it, it will treat it as briefly and possible, saying as little possible, and never refer to it again. A classic example of this sort of ignoring of ethics was the story that prof. Lapierre, the man in charge of shale gas promotion in the province and the poster boy for the liars and pimps in our government had faked his credentials. Remember the headline?

"Professor hounded from jobs"

That wasn't what the story was about at all. In fact, the story didn't have a word about anybody hounding him. More in fact, he got off scot free, though by his fakery, he had put lives in danger. (Boy, he's lucky he wasn't somebody really dangerous like a native grandmother kneeling on a road front of a hunrdred or so riot police).

The bulk of the Lapierre story in the TandT was about what a wonderful person he was.

One of the writers of that story was Brent Mazerolle. He knew what he was doing. He knew he was, to put it kindly, misleading. He did it quite deliberately. A person like that should not be in any news medium.

No editor should ever have allowed such a story to run. But the Irving press editors seem quite comfortable with lying and misleading.

(I posted the Press Council about it. They, as I expected, covered up. That's their job. I was told it was fair reporting because anybody who disagreed could have written a letter to the editor. That rather misses the point that a newspaper should not lie in the first place.)

Then we have the editorial of last Friday about how it was wrong for a person at city hall to leak the story that our city government had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars of our money to Robert Irving so he would keep his hockey team here.

There is a newspaper tradition that all editors support the argument of any editorial. So I presume they all did, particularly since I have never seen any reason to think highly of any of them.

So they all agree that the purpose of a newspaper is to hide information from the public. They called it a "leak", nasty word. Well, most really big stories come from leaks. That's because cheats like to keep us in the dark about what they're doing  to shaft us - and the only way we can learn about it is through leaks.

The story of the Nixon scandals that led to Nixon's resignation were the result of leaks. The news that the US was torturing prisoners in Afghanistan was a leak. That Mulroney took a bribe of hundreds of thousands of dollars we learned through leak.

The job of a newspaper is not to publish only official statements. It's to get at the truth. It's to serve the public by spreading the truth. It is not to serve people in backrooms who want to pocket our money. It is not to protect politicians who are either very, very naive - or on the take.

Big business wants to keep secrets from us using our money and our concillors? So they need secrets to do business?

Damn right. House breakers have the same problem. So if a gang of them is operating in Moncton, the paper should keep it a secret. My goodness, if we make it public, the robbers might just leave Moncton and find another city to rob. We can't let that happen.

The editors of the Irving press actually worked against us. That editorial demanded that we must be kept in the dark about what our elected representatives are doing.

Actually, they should be telling us more about the deal - and which of our civic officials were playing this game so we can make sure that we don't get robbed again. And the very existence of this story should have the Irving press asking questions about the events centre and the stir about Moncton High. Any secret deals there? If there are, we'll have to wait for CBC to tell us.

We have been secretly ripped off. We are going to be ripped off and betrayed even more. And the whole editorial staff along with at least some of the writers are cheering for the thieves.

These are the scum of the journalism world, beneath any terms of contempt I can think of.