Monday, December 23, 2013

Dec. 23: I should add....

to yesterday's blog that when I suggested we need political parties based on moral principle, I did not mean parties based narrowly on any religion in particular. Churches   certainly should be more active than they are in communicating to the congretations about the immorality (by the standards of any religion) of our political/economic system. But I certainly wouldn't want any religious group to have the power to inflict its own views on everybody else.

I was thinking of a person like Warren Allmand, Solicitor-General under Trudeau who is a Catholic, and active in the Catholic Social Action Movement. In active politics, he always based his decisions on his moral principles - which had much in common with Protestants, Jews, Moslems and even Confuscists I have known.

He has, since retirement, remained active in causes around the world because of his sense of moral obligation.

I could say the same of Tommy Douglas, though I am certainly not a Baptist (or a Catholic). Or Stephen Lewis, though I am not Jewish. (In fact, I don't really belong to any brand of church).

Morality does not mean following any, particular set of rules. It means having a code of behaviour and obligation. There are Liberals and Conservatives who have that. There just aren't  very many and, certainly, neither party is based on anything that could be called a morality of any sort.

And that, in any civilization, is fatal.

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The big stories on p. 1 are the usual sort of triviality. "Metro preacher who is also provincial cabinet minister, high on drugs, attacks six-year old boy."

Well, no. The TandT front page never reaches as high as that standard.

It noses around in triviality. The new Codia Transpo manager, it seems, likes his job. I'm so happy to hear it.

"Snow makes for outdoor fun".  Really? Maybe we could export it to less fortunate parts of the world like Florida.

Inside, there's a big story on rug-hooking, and a whole page of photos of people skating with Santa.

NewsToday has 1 and 1/4 pages of news. Count them. 1 and 1/4.

The biggest one is that mayor Ford of Toronto was named by The Canadian Press as the newsmaker of the year. And that tells you all you need to know about Canadian news media. To most of the news media, news is entertainment, and a man who daily  parades himself as a lout is entertaining.

And that makes him much more important news than Harper destroying virtually all environmental protections, destroying our tracking of climate change, and almost certainly lying about his connection to Duffy.  Nor is it important that a tiny group of people pocketed most of Canada's wealth this year, while millions of Canadian lived in poverty and even hunger.

We also get the usual Associated Press story about how that terrible Syrian government is bombing innocent people in Aleppo (a city held by the rebels who are, I presume, doing nothing but making Christmas stockings for Syrian Christians.)

That news comes from a British organization based in London which is a long way from Syria. This so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is a rebel organization run by a haberdasher who knows even less about what is going on in Syria than the TandT does. But the news media have  been publishing his propaganda as news for least a couple of years now.

The picutre with the story is of a Palestinian celebration. I have no idea why.
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The editorial began well. I thought it was about what it opened by saying - that immigration enhances the cultural life of Moncton. (And that certainly needs all the help it can get.) I thought it was admirable that Moncton should show an accepting attitude, and that it should be making an effort to help the poor and displaced of the world.

But no.

We get the true story close to the end.

Help and compassion for the poor and displaced of this world is not what it's about. "...the majority of immigrants are entepreneurs who have bought into businesses and invested heavily in improving them, creating jobs and boosting the economy along the way."

Then it slides back into santimonious self-righeousness.

Welcome, imimigrants. or, well,welcome to the ones who have money.
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Norbert is puzzled by Dieppe planning to build its own water system. At the end, he's still puzzled. So why bother writing about it if there is nothing to say?

Oh, and he has his usual quotation. I have no idea why. This time. its a quotation right up there with the best of Rob Ford, "mayors are judged by results."

Gee. Nobody else is.
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Craig Babcock puts up a good argument against city council giving land to the YWCA to built a housing complex for young mothers, to give them and their children a chance in life. Trouble is, residents of the area gave that land to the city (44 years ago) on condition it be used for a park.

Babcock makes a reasonable case. I don't agree with him at all. But at least it's well written.

A councillor who voted against the idea says he   won't be able to sleep, knowing what council has done. Really?

Would he be able to sleep better knowing that the land will continue to sit there, unused, while young mothers go homeless, and try to raise their children in poverty?

Babcock says a deal is a deal. No doubt. But people are people. And in my book, the needs of people like young mothers and babies beat a deal every time.

Babcock adds he saw no sign among residents of the area of a "not in my back yard" attitude. I'll bet he didn't. People in middle class suburbs are well-known for their lack of snobbery.

The city promised a park. No park has been built in, so far, 44 years. Better to leave it empty so that young mothers and their babies can sleep out in the fresh air. Anyway, it's their own fault. Middle class suburban girls don't have sex until they're forty - and then only when absolutely necessary.

Steve Malloy is lighter than I would like this time. Or is it that I'm not sympathetic enough to the problems of pet animals? I"m really not sure. In any case, this one is, as always, well written.

Oh, I forgot Alec Bruce. This one, again, is solid.

Whatever the price of this paper is, it's way too much for a paper that has only two columnists  and no news at all worth reading.
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I'll be off until January 2. Meanwhile, I'm afraid to say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas. Who know who I might offend.

So - see ya.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dec.22: The most important provincial election ever......

....and, no, the big issue is not the provincial budget.

It's not Mr. Alward's fault (not directly) that we have a deficit. Anyway, he doesn't have an answer for that problem.

It's not Mr. Gallant's fault, either. In fact, Mr. Gallant's Liberals are quite devoid of any thouoght about anything That's their policy, their only policy. They know they have nothing to say that would win the election - and they know they don't have to say anything. They'll just let the Conservatives lose, trusting the the old, New Brunswick style of electing one party because they're mad at the other, then electing the other when they get mad at the first one.

In any case, there's no point in discussing policies because it doesn't matter a damn what policy either the Libeals or the Conservatiives have. Take the budget, for example.

I said it's not Mr. Alward's fault we're in a deficit. Of course not. Alward gave up financial control of the province at least three years ago. Remember?

That was when Mr. Irving announced he was in coalition with the government - that is, that he was a member of the government. That was when Mr. Irving had the arrogance not only to announce he was in the government without bothering to get elected, but he was holding a great conference to plan the economic future of New Brunswick.

Get that. Not only was he not elected, but we had elected a government to do just that, the economic future . And Mr. Irving dismissed all that, and there wasn't a whimper.

So he held his farcical conference, most of whose members (including Mr. Irving) had no qualifications whatever to plan a provincial budget. Indeed, it was quite shameful for most of the people at the conference to take part in that farce.

We were never told the details of what plan emerged. Why should we be? It's quite obvious that Mr. Irving and his press have nothing but contempt for us.

No, he just handed Mr. Alward a list of the names he was to accept as official advisors to the Minister of Finance.

In other words, Mr. Irving has been running the economy of this province throughout the Alward years. He will also run them throughout any term that Gallant might serve. The man responsible for our deficit, then, is Mr. Irving. That's what government is about. The person who runs a department is the one who gets the blame when it doesn't work. Think about it, Norbert. or.....well.... just try to think.

And I'm sure those were very good budgets for Mr. Irving. He is, after all, not in the business of looking after provincial budgets. He's in the business of getting provincial revenues into his own pocket.

Why on earth would he want a budget surplus - or even a balanced budget? In either case, that would just mean our money that wasn't going into his pocket. But he lives on getting our money into his pocket. He lives on running up a deficit in the form of tax cuts and favours, and cutting our services so there's more for him.

And if New Brunswick goes broke and the people of this province suffer, why should he care? He doesn't have to pay off the deficit. We do.

Similarly, he openly interferes in education, though he knows nothing about it. He openly interferes in health care.  He strangles our news, not because that helps us in any way but because it helps him. He pushes hard for fracking - because it's good for him.

As a democracy, New Brunswick is a farce. That's why there's no use in discussing any issues in the coming campaign. No matter whether Liberals or Conservatives are elected, Mr. Irving will set the agenda.

Well - what it means is there is an issue, just one issue It's just one issue because nothiing else can be done unless we first deal with this issue.

We have to get big business out of government. Until we do that, it couldn't matter less what else we plan. Unless we can restore democracy, there's really no point in even having elections, and no point in staying in this province..

Not all Liberals and Conservatives are sell-outs. Some are muppets -well-intentioned but clueless and obedient to the party.

A very high proportion of the voters is, alas, in the same category. Tens of thousands, probably more, will vote Liberal or Conservative simply because their families always have voted that way. And some have (quite false) ideas that Conservative means being careful with money, or that Liberal means sort of broad-minded when really, both the Liberals and the Conservatives are just sock puppets for major corporations.

As well, this is a province of frightened people. It isn't noticed here; but it's obvious to a newcomer. People will suffer enormous abuse and contempt. They're scared. They might not admit it even to themselves, but they're scared.

There is virtually no public discussion of public issues. Many people simply plod wherever they are ordered to plod - rather like a prison camp.

That has to be dealt with. Now - the parties..........

There is no point whatever in voting either Liberal or Conservative. If we do, then we might just as well appoint Mr. Irving emperor (It's amazing how many people put trust in corporate leaders to operate areas like public service of which they know nothing, and which are not in their interest to operate properly anyway.)

That leaves us with two parties, the NDP and the Greens. You don't like them? Tough. Since 1867, this province has been run as if we were sheep and the rich were our owners. For this election, at least, there are no other parties to choose from. They are the only parties that can be trusted to deal with New Brunswick's central problems - the greed and dictatorship of the corporate bosses, and the timidity of the New Burnswick people.

So we have two large and wealthy parties that will sell us out. We have two smaller and poorer parties which are the only ones that will represent us.

So we split out forces by running them separately. 

What?

We split the minority to face what is already a very powerful majority?

This is crazy. Both of those parties, for now, have the same objective. Nothing either of them wants can be achieved so long as those old parties are still in power and still obey the corporations.

And we split their vote? This is madness.

The second thing both the NDP and the Greens have to do is to imprint themselves on the conciousness of the voters....NOW.

Most voters have pretty feeble ideas of what the NDP and the Greens are about. The very little they do know comes in very small and infrequent stories in a press that is highly prejudiced.

The NDP and the Greens have to plant themelves in the provincial conciousness. And you cannot do that in the final months of a campaign. And you cannot trust the Irving press to do the job for you. It's already late.

The Greens and the NDP have to get on their horses. They have to look now for opportunities to speak to church groups, schools boards, unions, parents' groups, whoever they can find.

And they have to hammer at the central theme. What's at stake here is the government by the people that we love to pretend we have. That's the issue.

We nay not get a second chance. The history of periods like this is that if we don't re-establish a confidence in democracy, then the turn that all the anger takes is toward rage, violence and hatred. We're seeing it now spreading in Europe through fascist and racist groups

Ever wonder why so many Torontonians will still vote for Rob Ford? That's the group that has already gone into anger and rage.

And, yes, it can happen even among the super-meek people of New Brunswick. The NDP and the Greens have to hit the ground running - now. And they have to drive home the theme that what's at stake here is democracy itself which, for all its faults, is far better than rule by corporations and individuals made mad by greed and power.



 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dec. 21: Dynamite on page one?

Or fluff?

"Oil, gas industry facing roadblock." says the headline. It seems there are problems in disposing of toxic waste water - you know the stuff filled with secret chemicals for fracking. What a surprise!

What Alberta has been doing with a similar problem is dumping it in lakes or simply creating artificial lakes for the stuff. It's easy to recognize them. Those are the lakes full of dead fish with dead birds littering the shorelines.

So we have no place to put it, and nobody will take it. Gee! Funny how prof. Lapierre missed that. Funny how the whole damn government missed it. But Mr. Leonard is confident a solution will be fouond. So that takes care of that problem.

The disposal of waste was, from the start, an obvious problem that a child could have foreseen. But a government, the one with the "toughest regulations in the world" didn't. And its expert's didn't. And none of these "information" sessions with government and industry mentioned it.

The people in charge of this programme, government and industry are liars who are willing to put lives at risk or they are asses. I'm not yet sure where to put my money on that one.

And if they don't have a proven solution for New Brunswick, then they don't have it anywhere in the world that fracking is going on; and they are spreading whole regions with poison for this, the only planet we have.

And this is the province in which, when people demonstrated against what was being done to our lands and our homes, the government and SWN sent hundreds of police with clubs and with combat rifles to beat them back.

Mind you, we will almost certainlly have letters to the editor from the wise folk who write such letters telling us not to worry. It's all a plot by environmentalists. The letter writers might want to pause to glance at the Los Angeles Times for Dec. 13, 1013. Studies in Colorado have shown the waste water from fracking contains chemicals that cause birth defects, infertility, and cancer. They also damage hormones.

Meanwhile, perhaps the Irving press might look back to the Dr. Cleary report, and this time, tell us truthfully what it says. (But the Irving press won't. We can be sure of that.)

If this story is accurate, then the leaders for fracking have been either fools or ruthlessly greedy killers....

....or....

This is a clever bit of strategy.

This is a story that's going to break, anyway. So the Irving press decides to play just-pretend-honest, make itself look pure - then later break a story (probably false) that the problem has been solved. The chances that it will be solved so close to being 'discovered' are nil. 

But think about it. The chances of the TandT being honest on this question are zero. After all, this is the paper that said poor Prof Lapierre was being picked on. It has lied every step of the way. So why would it tell the truth now?

Well, because it's going to get out anyway. So now, it might be wise to watch out for the big story that the problem is solved..
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Though far the most dangerous confrontation for the world - the most dangerous in all of human history - is going on between the US and China, it just isn't important enought to make the Irving press.

In the US, it's being covered with propaganda. There, people are told the confrontation is happening because of the US fears that China might harm small nations near it. (Gee! The US would never do that. Look at how good it is to Haiti and Guatemala.)

The reality is this. The US has been empire building since the day it began. It has, over the years, invaded well over 200 countries. It has been in wars now for the longest single stretch in its history, and it has troops, drones or assassionation squads active in over a hundred countries.

In the 1990s, American busines and political leaders declared THE AMERICAN CENTURY of American military dominance of the whole world in order to dominate the world economies. (Funny the Irving press has never mentioned that document. It's on the web, has been since the 1990s.)

The US now fears two things. China will beat it to gaining markets and resources in Africa, thus the massive UN military presences in Africa, the destruction of Libya and Syria,  and the almost-certain war with Iran.

The other fear is that the Chinese economy will so far outstrip the American one that American capitalists will be left hopelessly behind - and with China in a position to destroy American big business simply by refusing to lend the US any more money.

That's why the greater part of the American navy is now in Pacific waters. That's why the US has established a huge military base in Australia, with dozens of others in the region. That's why Japan has been allowed, all these years after WW2, to rebuild its military power. That's why the US troops now "providing aid" to The Phillipines are not likely to leave. That's why the US navy constantly patrols the coast of China.

But the US cannot beat China in a conventional war. So.....

It's an open secret that the US has plans for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on China's arsenal - the only way it can win a war with China.

That's why China is getting nervous, and  has been making claims about the extent of its territorial authority.

This is the story of the century. But it's not important enough for the TandT - even though we will be in it. (Everybody will be.)

Of course, it can't be the fault of the US. It has never started wars. It's just that it's alway being attacked by those awful, smaller countries like Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti, Libya, Iraq, Grenada, Vietnam.....  Why won't they leave the US alone?

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The Faith  Page, as always, completely ignores what Jesus talked about and how it has meaning in our time, to tell us harmless little stories guaranteed not to offend man or beast.

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Norbert has another rant - this time about light bulbs. Everybody, it seems, is stupid - except Norbert.

Some sloppy editing on the editorial page. There's a column with Alex Bruce's picture on it, but signed by "Bill" Beliveau. Whoever, wrote it, it's an unusually interesting one about the need to create a much, much bigger Moncton. Well worth a read.

Brent Mazerolle has an interesting idea, too - about a work of art that would memorialize the role of Moncton as a major centre for the Commonewath Air Training Plan  - something that was far more important in winning World War 2 than most people realize.

Ideally, I'd like to see in in the form of a rebuilt base. (I remember, many years ago, passing an abandoned airfield not far from Moncton. I suspect it was a remnant of CATP. With some military aircraft of the period, expectially the omnipresent Harvard trainer and a recording of the distinctive wail of its engine,, it would be an interesting place.

And a very interesting and thoughtful column by Brian Murphy on the Ashley Smith case.
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The letter to the editor "All that is sacred has disappeared" is an understandable lament for the decline of religous symbols in public places like hospitals. But I differ very much with a closing line, "We Christians have to sacrifice our religious beliefs for the minority."

Nonsense.

1. We don't have to sacrifice our religious beliefs for anybody. There's nothing about not having a cross handy that sacrifices any beliefs. And the idea that society has to provide religious symbols wherever you want them is bizarre, and has nothing to do with belief.

2. I see little evidence that the majority of people in Moncton (or in the western world in general) are Christian. We are the world's worst aggressors and killers. We support an economic system based on greed, exploitation and violence. We let our own people go hungry - except for one day a year.

3.I see little religious belief in the Christian churches - except when it some to cutesie bits like a baby in a manger, or discussing the "magic" parts like whether the streets of the New Jerusalem are really gold. It is almost unheard of for Christians to discuss our behaviour  (which is mostly what Jesus talked about). We sent soldiers to kill Afghanis for reasons that still aren't clear. I don't recall hearing any great Christian outcry about this. Indeed, we sent over chaplains to tell the soldiers, among other things, that they were doing a great job.

It's true, though, that all that is sacred (or much of it) has disappeared. But it's not pieces of wood,etc. that are sacred. It's the word. And the word has disappeared because the churches don't talk about it much. Chrck your Faith page.
 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Dec. 20: The best column I have ever seen in the irving press...

.....is by Gwynne Dyer on the op ed page. It's one of the best I have seen in any press. And, in dealing with Melson Mandela, it is far superior to any of the mindless gush we have been reading, hearing, and seeing about him for the past of couple of weeks in almost every medium.

Dyer has a great admiration for Mandela - but it does not mislead him into giving Mandela saintly powers. This is really a superb column, a must read.

And the good part pretty well ends there.

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Section A looks, as  usual, like something prepared for a church bulletin- only less important. There is, again, lots of upbeat stuff on the food drives for Christmas - but not a word to examine how it is we have so many people who need food or what the consequences of it will be, not a word about how this can happen ia province that has some people making hundreds of thousands and even millions a year.

The only news item of any importance is that a recent poll shows that Atlantic Canadians, by a healthy margin, support native peoples in their land claims. That will not change Harper's mind in  his determination to forget his obligations. But it does remind us who the enemy is.
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In NewsToday, there is "Canada Post cuts cheered in U.S." That's rather an odd title for an article that names only one American who is cheering - and he's one of the far-right wingers who voted to cut food stamps even as poverty was getting worse and, of course, who opposes any form of medicare.

This is presented as a major news story. Why? Why should we care what Americans think about our post office? Why should we care when most Americans almost certainly have no idea what's happening to out post office? What does it tell us about our need for Canada Post? Or the lack of need? And why should we care when all the opinion we have comes from one nutbar? And, since it is just one, why would the headling be "Canada Post cuts cheered in US?  Couldn't they find a person or two in countries all over the world, and make the headling "Canada Post cuts cheered all over the world."  This is a stinking example of the deliberate use of a misleading headline.And why is such a trivial items presented as a major and very large news story?

All the above is what is called lying. And it was the news editor who wrote that headline.

This is propaganda intended to sway Canadian opinion. It comes from Canadian Press, and it's a safe bet that The Canadian Press was "encouraged" to circulate this "news story".

There's also a story about concerns in the US over domestic spying by NSA. Well, that's reasonable enough. But shouldn't a Canadian paper give priority to news about  domestic spying IN CANADA by CSIS, RCMP, and Communications Security Establishment Canada?

These people are spying on us - all of us. Our taxes are paying for us to be spied on.

To protect us from terrorists?

No.

Most of their spying is done at the request of major corporations. They look for environmental activists, for anybody critical of big business, for union members, for everybody, really .....They also do searches in foreign countries where Canadian mining companies have given all of us a very black eye, indeed, for corruption, pollution, beatings....

And these spy agencies report to a meeting of CEOs of major Canadian corporations twice a year.

You won't find that story in the puffery pages of the Irving press. After all, the Irvings almost certainly attend those conferences, just to check up on you.

However, you can read an excellent article on it in a very respected journal called CCPA Monitor. Or at
http://www.policyalternatives.ca

Yes. We do live in a country that spies on all of us, just like the US. Your tax dollars at work. And those dollars would have fed a lot of hungry people.

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Norbert writes yet another column on cutting costs to reduce the provincial debt. Again, he does not once mention those people have have big money to pay, and whose demands are responsible for a lot of that deficit. No. We gotta nail them poor people.
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Was there any important news the TandT missed? Well, yes.

Obama has just received one hell of a slap in the face from Congress, including Democrats - and including the nation that is most dependent on his aid.

Israel lives on US aid. Israel wants Iran destroyed. It insists the US do the destroying. It maintains a powerful lobby to buy off congressmen in Washington (using US aid money - and it's also active in Canada.)

This has nothing to do with Israeli security. The idea that Iran is a threat to Israel is absurd - even if it had a nuclear bomb - which it doesn't and which UN inspectors say it isn't working on. This is not about Iran's power. It's about Israel's desire for power.

A war with Iran would be a quite dreadful and bloody one, with consequences that would involve a stepping-up of terrorist attacks on North America and, quite possibly, a world war which would be nuclear.

Obama's policy is to settle all this with talks - and Iran is very much in agreement. But Israel isn't. It wants the destruction of  Iran, nothing less. So it has bought off a majority of US congressmen who are now openly defying the president as he tries to carry out talks.

These congressman are preparing more sanctions against Iran - not as punishment for anything but as a way to destroy the talks.

Meanwhile, to placate Israel, Obama seems to be giving Israel a free hand to to kill, expel, steal land from as many Palestinians as it likes. Israel is doing that. But it still wants Iran destroyed. And the man who should be the most powerful in the world now can't even control his own party.

I kind of think that's all worth a mention in the news.
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In local news, we've had nothing more of this incredible scheme to let a business group into the school to set up and run a programme on entrepreneurship which would be compulsory for all children through all thirteen years of school.

I doubt very much whether such a sysem exists in any part of the world except, possibly, in totalitarian states.

This is not only education idiocy. It is wildly impractical to run such a programme for so many students when only a few will ever find a use for it. In fact, this is not a learning programme at all. This looks like pure propaganda, brain-washing. This is an abuse of our children, a serious loss for other learning they should be doing, a highly improper invasion of the schools by a special interest group.....perhaps with encouragement by The Atlantic Institute of Market Studies....

Parents should be standing en masse, shouting "No. You bastards cannot have our children. Get your hands off them."

Where the hell are the parents of this province? Where are the parents' associations? Where are the teachers? The teachers' union? Where are the school boards?

I cannot imagine this being permitted in any other province or even village  (well, possibly PEI and Dogpatch).

It is an assault on public education. It is an assault on the principles of democracy. It is an assault on our children.

I know this is a province that tip-toes in fear, the province in which nobody wants to be noticed unless it's for something harmless like campaigning to collect free kitty litter boxes for the poor. But the more you back away from a bully, the more he'll keep pounding you.

Though this is a huge story - I mean, this is a province in which if you have a friend whose eight year old son wins as part of a choir contest in Arizona, it's a banner headline,"Moncton in the news: metro man knows boy in choir that wowed Arizona". - this is a really, huge story. And the TandT gave it only a small space, and it has not followed up.

They don't want you to be thinking about it. That's because what is being done is disgusting and abusive, something I would put n a class with paedophilia.

I'm sorry. Am I waking anybody up?

Actually - and this is serious - I saw and heard more serious criticism of the government and more real freedom of speech when I was working in communist China than I see in New Brunswick. Better newspaper, too  (from The New China News Agency).  Still awful, but better than New Brunswick.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Dec. 19: the inevitable headline: Snow buries metro again....

Good thing I read the paper before going out. I was planning to go for a stroll in my bathing suit and bare feet.

The only story of interest in Section A is the one about our Annual Christmas Box Campaign - with some quite impressive pictures of the intensive work  done by  volunteers. 1.750 families are getting help. But the volunteers are short of the $40,000 needed to feed 500 of those families.

And at that, one box of supplies isn't going to go far for people have to live not just Christmas week but 51 more weeks in the year.

All credit and thanks are due to those volunteers and to those who contributed. But there is something wrong with a society that has so many people hungry in a country that is, even in hard times, relatively rich.

Now, on an issue like this, I'm a   conservative. In fact, the only differences between me and Alward on this is that I'm a REAL conservative, and I know what the word conservative means.

Part of real conservatism means a belief that we are all dependent on each other, and we have obligations to each other.

In that sense, the Conservative party and this province's business leaders don't have a trace of conservatism in them. They all have a belief in a sort of twisted version of nineteenth century (and twentieth century liberalism, a belief they have no obligation to anyone but themselves, and no guide but their own greed.

There are a lot more than 1750 needy families in this city. They cannot be looked after by volunteers, no matter how hard those volunteers work and, somehow, scrape up the money. They simply cannot be looked after by volunteers, and they should not  have to be.

There's no money in New Brunswick? There's piles of it. The corporations of this province are making their biggest profits in history - and keeping them. One man in this city, already rich, is getting paid $80,000 a year by the city just to keep his hockey team here. We have a city council desperate to borrow 120 million or more to build an events centre.

All credit to the volunteers. They are real   conservatives, and a credit to this city. The news story is not a credit to anything.

Here is a typical Irving press coverup. By heaping praise on a cause everyone will support, it ignores the cause of the problem. The needy are not the cause. The cause is corporations that rip every penny they can out of this province, giving back as little as they can, - and to hell with those who suffer for their greed.

Here is a news story that deliberately avoids the real problem, smothering it under warm and fuzzy prose.
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There's a dismaying story in NewsToday from the lips of John Baird, our minister of Foreign Affairs. Baird, rarely capable of intelligent speech even on a good day, this time wants Donald Snowden. the man who revealed the wide and illegal espionage carried out by the US on foreign governments, foreign companies, and virtually every American and, probably, every Canadian should surrender to US authorities. He would then, of course be tried and hanged.

The US, says Baird, has a free and fair justice system.

Baird, sometimes you are even dumber than you look.

The US has a justice system under which the president - without charge or trial - can imprison a person in solitary for life, impose torture, and even death. How's that for free and fair?

Showden has done, says Baird, serious damage to national security of the free world. Free world? Is that the world made up of dictatorships created by the US - like Saudi Arabia, most of Central America? Is Germany a part of the free world. It usually is considered so. But it's mad as hell at the US for its spying. So is Brazil, and it's surely a part of the free world. In fact, can Mr. Baird tell us any country of the free world (with the exception of a slobbering, submissive Canadian government) that feels Snowden has betrayed anything?

Nor does he appear to be aware that the spying on Brazilian companies was done to supply information to wealthy, US insiders who could make money on it.

Amnest International is very much on Snowden's side. But Baird hasn't read their report, and says he doesn't intend to. (Don't that make you proud to be a Canadian?)

Amnesty International says, correctly, that Canada has lately dismissed and ignored its human rights obligations as defined by the UN. Amnesty International is quite right.

Alas! We're still stuck with Baird.

NewsToday also covered statements by CEO Deepak Chopra of Canada Post. Unfortunately, at least two of his best statements did not appear.

1.When it was pointed out that Canada had a large population of seniors, visually-impaired, and otherwise handicapped people who would find it difficult (if not impossible) and even dangerous to get mail at community mail boxes rather than at home...well...here's Chopra's reply - the exercise will be good for them.

2. He warned this must be done immediately with almost no time for discussion by parliament. The delay, he said, would cost millions of dollars a day.  A few sentences later, he said the changes would, within five years, save us $950,000 a year.

Huh?

No changes will cost us millions a day. Big changes wil save us $950,000 a year?

Are you counting on your fingers again, Deepak?

This whole story smells. Chopra's intent seems to be to make Canada Post a purely commercial venture- a move that would smooth the way to breaking it up for privatization - which is what his "think-tank" wants.

But Canada Post is NOT a purely commercial venture. And it is not at all clear that it should be. In any case, such a decision should be made by the government and people of Canada, not by a CEO who just happens to be on the board of a group that would love to see Canada Post privatized so they could make a lot of money out of the deal.
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There's a very sensible editorial, a clever and enjoyable Alec Bruce column, and an acceptable one by Norbert.

Op Ed has an excellent column by Beth Lyons.

And then there's another column by Rod Allen about Rod Allen. Somebody should tell him why newspapers are called NEWSpapers. Rod, readers really need some columnist who could analyze the meanings in, for example, the Canada Post story. That's the sort of thing an op ed page is for. It is NOT for a once-a-week chance to see Rod Allen looking in a mirror.
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There is nothing in this paper on the tensions between China and the US over coastal waters claimed by China. But it's a long way off. Right?

Well, yes. But numerous nuclear explosions would have an effect even on us. So what is this thing all about?

It's not complicated.

The US wants to keep China boxed in and vulnerable to US attack. Otherwise, a growing China might challenge US business throughout Asia and beyond. It does the boxing in through many, many bases near China, and through frequent naval patrols just outside Chinese waters.

China has, therefore, broadened its claim to how far its territory extends - and it actually has a strong, legal case for doing so.

You think that's bad of China? Okay. Consider this.

How about China establishing bases in Mexico and Canada, and operating regular naval patrols just outside American waters? Think the US would just let that pass?
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Do you read the Washington Post for the latest inside story on what's happening in the US? Lots of people do. In fact, for serious readers, the Washington Post is probably the major source of news for what is happening at the federal level.

The Washington Post is owned by one man.  He is also a major owner of Amazon. Amazon just got a $600,000,000 contract from the CIA. But that didn't make the  Irving press.

There was also silence about the NSA spy agency in the US. It now monitors and records every pnone call by every person in all of the United States.

Like Baird said, it's a free and fair country.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dec. 18: I know how the Irving press could save big money.

Instead of delivering a newspaper in the morning, it could distribute earplugs with a recorded message built into them.

"You are tired. you are very tired. You are getting sleee...."

There's not a damn thing in it worth reading - well---except for a quite professional column byAlec Bruce.

Quite apart from the fact that there's no news  in the paper, the editorial is an almost childish rant about how terrible it was that someone shot a dog. especially a dog being trained to help a child. I agree.  But I don't think a rant gets us very far in understanding this or dealing with it.

"RCMP should use all mean possible to find..."  Well, yes. And they should question people. And they should go places in their cars. And they should take off their hats in a house. I scarcely think they need an editorial to tell them that.

Footprints in the snow indicate that the killer ran away like "a coward". What does being a coward have to do with it. Only a damn fool would stand there gawking.

The writer urges the RCMP to use all means possible....Good idea. The RCMP wouldn't do it if the editorial writer didn't urge them. They'd just use some means. What a useless editorial!

Then Norbert has a column on how sexual abuse of cheldren needs to be taken seriously. Well, to the best of my knowledge, it is taken very seriously, indeed. In any case, Norbert's article doesn't say a word about how or even why it should be taken seriously.  Instead, it gives us a lot of information that has nothing to do with how we deal with the problem.

So what's the point? This is one of those thundering, "Something must be done columns" that makes no contribution at all.

Eric Lewis tells us illegal trash dumping is shameful. Gee! I'll bet nobody else knew that.

Brian Cormier has what he intended to be an amusing but irrelevant story. It succeeds in only one category. And, no, amusing is not it's strong point.
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There are two letters that are just annoying. "RCMP showed restraint" (pure venom) and "Protesters are flouting the law."  Forget for a moment that one could as easily write "Shale gas companies are using law to destroy environment and people." 

Look. Where do people get the idea that flouting the law is always bad?  Law is, quite often, not made by us. It is made by those in power, and used to exploit us. That's why ever country I have ever heard of has national heroes who flouted the law.

We can start with George Washington. Or Ghandi. Or Mendalla.  English Protestants flouted the law in overthrowing their rightful, Catholic king to bring in a Protestant. My French ancestors broke the law in raiding the American colonies to murder English settlers. My Scottish ancestors flouted the law in resisting English rule.

Bush and Blair flouted international law in invading Iraq and killing over half a million people, at least. Under intrnational law, the Canadian invasion of Afghanistan was illegal on many grounds - as was the American invasion.. The US has broken international law in at least a hundred countries with assassination teams, drones and spying.

The US flouts the law in torturing thousands of prisoners. And Canada  flouts the law in cooperating with the torture.

Stephen Harper flouts the law whenever he says Canada will unconditionally support Israel under any circumstances. That gem flouts international law (cause requirement) and Canadian practrice (need for parliamentary consent).

"Flouting the law" sounds grand and eloquent. But you have to think of what words mean as well as what they sound like.
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"Media fuels the frustration" is a tougher letter to deal with. It argues that newspaper reports of military cases ( including suicides) of stress disorder among soldiers can actually increase the incidence of suicides.

I don't know enough about it to comment on that. But it sounds reasonable.

The other side of the coin is that if this is not reported, it is quite likely to be neglected by our governments. It's always dangerous to suppress news.

It's also true that we need to understand the causes of this problem much more fully than we now do. We slipped early - a century ago - into the easy conclusion that it was fear and the stress of battle that did the damage. That's why General Patton slapped a soldier and called him a coward.  We know a bit more now, though not enough. There may be here contained a quite terrible warning about what effect constant war may have on all of us.
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There was, alas, no news to comment on today. Tell you what. There are stories that need covering.
How about the assignment editor sends a couple of reporters to get the details of this strange introduction of a programme on entrepreurship that a  group of businessmen is going to direct in our schools throughout every year of the school experience?

After all, this is a programme unique in the history of the democratic world. I have never heard of schools handing over their students like that/  Well...maybe in Mao's China or Hitler's Germany....

So this is a big deal. Maybe there should be orders of Moncton here, or a new hall of fame.

So who are these people (by name) who are going to direct the programme? What are their qualifications? Did the idea start with them? or with the Department of Education? Exactly where did this brilliant thinking all come from?

Can we have a rough outline of what it is our children will be taught? Is their any estimate of what percentage of these students are expected to become entrepreneurs?

Can we see a list of the books that will be required reading?

Oh, an what course and/or programmes are being cut to fit in this new one?

But, hey, who am I to set the questions? Assignment editors know all about that sort of thing.
I just can't understand why such a big story involving a fundamental change to our education system has had so little attention.

Oh, and God help the class of 2014.
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Irving press editors who are now sitting, idly watching the snow fall, might want to give thought to something for tomorrow more interesting than, "Moncton has more snow".

They could look at Google News, which beats the Irving press to a pulp.

Or they could look up Information Clearing House, a site operated with devotion and courage to print the news that other sources miss. (In retaliation,it gets frequent visits from the FBI and NSA, and considerable harassment of its site.)

The Dec. 17 edition has the interesting film of the murder of some 5000 Korean prisoners by the US military just after World War Two. (Though it has been widely distributed around the world and been seen my millions, only Information Clearing House has it in the US. It might help to explain why the US has become the world's most hated country.) It's called The Ghosts of Jeju.

Then there's the story of the American Studies Association (a major academic group) which has boycotted Israeli universities for their support of a government which has behaved brutally and illegally toward Palestinians. Funny how the editors of the Irving press missed that one.

Other biggies - an American federal court judge has ruled that the National Security Act spying in the US in unconstitutional. In a related story, the TV news programme 60 Minutes has now obviously sold out. It ran a show kissing up to the NSA and allowing no space for critics of it.

There's also a video on Henry Kissinger: The Making of a War Criminal. And there are more leaks that the Bush government knew at the time of 9/11 that the Saudi government  ( not Afghanistan or Iraq) was funding the 9/11 attack.

But I'm sure the US government would not have objected to such an act by the Saudis. It's public knowledge that American business and political leaders had planned the Afghanistan and Iraq attacks long before 9/11 -and also public knowledge that they needed a "Pearl Harbour" to justify such attacks.

 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dec. 17: Damn me for a fool....

....yesterday, as I commented on the news of Canada Post laying off almost everybody, I didn't have the wit to do the simple, ten minute check I should have done. Luckily, a reader sent me a post that sent me back to my computer to get some basic information.

It was a simple thing to do. But I didn't do it until that post from a reader. So I write this with some humility toward people at the Irving press. They were still shallow and uninformed in what they said. But so was I. Let's start with the  Conference Board of Canada.

This is a very influential "private and independent" board that conducts "impartial" studies and "research" to advise Canadians on economic matters. That's what it says. But that's what it isn't.

The board is certainly private. But there's nothing independent or impartial about it's research. It is really a propaganda house for the super-rich to they can get richer at our expense. It starts with a carefully chosen board of governors, all devoted to making big business even richer - and with the promise of goodies for themselves.

It's staffed with propagandists all tarted up with titles like "research fellow", and it turns out reports that are anything but impartial. In short, it is in a class with so-called "think-tanks" like Atlantic Institute of Market Studies and C.D.Howe Institute that are financed by billionaires to make themselves richer at our expense/

The CEO of Canada Post is Deepak Chopra. He is also on the board of Conference Board of Canada whose main objective is privatize everything, including Canada Post, so it can be used for private profit.

No man of integrity would have used his  work position at Canada Poast to close it down while at the same time sitting on the board of a. ideological, propaganda group whose official policy was to privatize as much of the mail service as it could.

Now, at least 8.000 workers will lose their jobs. That should do wonders to help us out of a recession. But don't worry about Mr. Chopra. The plan is that he gets to keep his job at something like a half-million a year. All the other high-paid executives,  including the 22 (TWENTY-TWO) presidents and vice-presidents will also keep their jobs. They will also continue the useless but multi-million dollar studies which have characterized them for some years. So Canada Post will continue to lose money, even as 8,000 unemployed look for work in a Canada that doesn't have any.

Meanwhhile, Canada Post will get on with the job of privatizing that will provide us with services that are more expensive, and which offer jobs at lower pay.

All of this incidentally, is part of the general cutback, fire people, lower wages strategy that made the dirty thirties so much dirtier, and which did nothing to end the depression.

But big business doesn't give a damn. Why should it? By creating unemployment and guaranteeing low wages, it is making its biggest profits in history.  And that, too,is a replay of the 1930s.

It was easy enough to check this. It took ten minutes on Google - which also turned up the story in National Post on Dec. 12. The National Post is not one of my favourite newspapers. But there can be no doubt of the truth in this story.

I don't expect a hell of a lot from the editors of the Irving Press. But don't they have even one who  glances over the big stories across Canada?

There's a web site that deals with this and similar issues. You might want to check it at
us@sumofus.org>

We are re-living the thirties when the very rich took advantage of the depression to lower wages, to toss people into the scrap heap, to cause enormous suffering ( the business-owned Congress of the US, just cut back on food stamps for 50 million people. What the hell. The rich don't need food stamps.)

We are living through a systematic pauperization of Canada,  made possible by the Deepak Chopas of the world. If you think that's a good idea, then just keep on voting for the Liberals and the Conservatives. Just keep pretending that Mr. Gallant isn't a walking disaster in a class with Alward.
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Some 50 presidents, deans, and other leaders of Catholic universities in the US have condemned Catholic University of America for accepting a million dollars from a foundation controlled by Koch brothers, a pair who use some of their many billions to run a foundation (think-tank) that is anti-tax, anti union, anti-regulation of big business, and denies climate change.

And, for their money, the Koch bros. expect the university to hire three visiting "scholars-practitioners from the business world" to teach courses in free enterprise. In other words, they want three people in there teaching their propaganda as if it were scholarly and  recognized.

The Koch brothers also use their money to control faculty hiring at many universities - you know, to get the "right" sort of people.

In other words, the Koch brothers are putting propagandists into the schools - just as New Brunswick is staring to do with elementary and high schools.  Similar interferences happen in New Brusnwick universities.

It's nice to see Catholic universities in the US having the guts and integrity to blow the whistle on that sort of interference - and to say it is counter to morality.

Maybe the churches of New Brunswick will speak up next. (Some bloody hope!) Or maybe university presidents here will start to turn down such offers.........Nah.
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It hasn't  appeared (and won't) that there is some evidence that Saudi Arabians, our good friends, at the highest government levels were closely involved in 9/11. Those involved include senior diplomats acting under official orders. This one sounds possible. Most of those captured as a result of 9/11 were Saudis. That's why the US murdered over half a million Iraqis and Afghanis.
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The TandT has the usual headlines that you NEED to know. "Gun death of dog breaks hearts"

Then there's one headline that looks silly, but makes sense. "NORAD criticized for Santa tracking". Apparently, in its show of Santa flying south, it has him escorted by fighter jets. NORAD doesn't see the problem. Do you?

No? Okay, then. Watch for my display of Jesus in the manger guarded by a squad of special ops killers (who wipe out the three wise men because they look suspicious.)
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As usual, NewsToday has mostly no news. Industry minister James Moore apologizes for saying it isn't his job to feed hungry children. Conservatives will see this as making everything okay. It doesn't. Any man who would make a statement like that - even in a fit of impatience - has shown a side of his character.

He also was misleading when he said child poverty is down under his government. In fact, it's up.


Justice minister MacKay surprised no-one  with his support of a proposal to impose a fine on convicted criminals to be used as compensation for their victims. It will, said MacKay, remind them that society rejects criminal behaviour.

Actually, I think most criminals already know that. This is a move that will have no effect whatever on the crime rate, and will do nothing to rehabilitate anybody. This is just one more piece of the government's "get tough on crime" to achieve nothing except to appeal to the moron vote.

The only useful column to read is David Suzuki's.

Oh, check Alan Cochrane's Views. Send him a note to use google to get some information before he writes a column.

I mean, I can't tell him. I made the same mistake.
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Monday, December 16, 2013

Dec. 16: It starts on p. 1....

..where a story (which is otherwise a good one) carries the headline "Bird counts tally species" which means, roughly, bird counts count birds. (Note that headlines are NOT written by the reporter, but by the page editor - who has the wisdom to keep his name a secret.)

That's it for section A. There's virtually nothing else there for most readers except,possibly, those who didn't notice we had storm yesterday.
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Banner headline in NewsToday, "Colorado Governor visits school shooting victim".That's a sad story. But it has little to do in any way with New Brunswickers. Two lesser stories on the same page are more relevant.

1. Canadian police are looking at the possibility of saving money by ticketing offences like public nudity, falsifying an employment record. living off prostitution, or vagrancy. (How on earth would a vagrant pay a ticket? And even if the vagrant could,  how does this solve the problem of vagrancy or do anything to  help anybody?)

Additionally, there is the sticky problem that issuing a ticket means finding a person guilty of a crime - without any hearing or verdict. It also means there is no attempt to provide rehabilitation for a person who might need it badly.

But that's the Harper solution to crime, get tough on it because there's lots of moron votes in that; do nothing to rehabilitate; and save money to keep the taxes of the rich down.

2. "Bachelet wins back Chile's presidency".  This is an important story to New Brunswickers because Chilean dictatorships were an anchor of US imperial power in Latin America. But here is a choice of leader by democracy. And, worse, it's pledged to raise taxes on rhe very rich.

It may not sound important. But this is another sign of the fall of the American empire. And even in New Brunswick, even to Murray Corner and Berry Mills, we are closely tied to the American empire.

The only other news item was the funeral of Mandella, the last stage of a bizarre series of stories on the death of a man who was intensely disliked by western leaders for most of his life, and who was on the terrorist lists of both Canada and the US until just five years ago.

I could have lived without the back page of NewsToday with its headline "Prince Charles, Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson attend memorial". This is a story about the death of Mandella, a man who played an important and self-sacrficing role in the world. It is not a column of social notes.
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The editorial reflects concern that policing costs us too much. And, yes, if we're going to spend money on billionaires and at the same time keep their taxes down, then we have to cut the police. We could have saved a lot with a less overwhelming police presence at Rexton. But that would have meant cutting police service for the very, very rich.  And we can't to do that.

It's surely time  in Canada (and long past it in the US) for more intelligent and less self-righteous thinking about how to deal with crime.

Both Alec Bruce and Norbert Cunningham jump all over Canada Post for its decision to cut home delivery; and both accuse it of bad management and decision making for unspecified decades. Curiously, Norbert admits postal services are a problem all over the world thougt most countries, surely, do not have post offices run by Canada Post. So how can it all be the fault of Canada Post?

Since the beginning of postage back in Victorian days, costs have risen. So, to the best of my knowledge, have the costs of everything else. As well, Canada post has to compete with computers, something that was not a problem when Victoria was queen.

The world is changing. Canada Post may be responsible for many sins, but a changing world is not one of them. I have yes to see evidence of it's responsibility for it's decline.

Craig Babstock writes "Police hoping for a Christmas holiday free of fatal crashes." Wow! That's a shocker. Who would have guessed it?

Steve Malloy comes closest to reality in seeing the shrinking of Canada Post not as an occasion for blaming, but for sadness at the passing of one more institution that was ours.

Again, though, we have a headline problem - not Steve's fault - this, again, is an editor's doing. The head reads "Losing home delivery is like losing a link to the past".  This is like the blooper, "Bird count is counting birds" on p. 1.  In the case of Malloy's column, scratch the word "like". Otherwise, the headline suggests that losing your head would be like losing a part of your body.

There's another blooper headline for a letter to the editor. "Faulty parameters in climate theory?"

Parameters must be the least understood word in the English language. I have no idea what the editor had in mind by writing it - but whatever it was has nothing to do with anything in the letter. Parameter is not a variant of perimeter. It does not mean a factor of some sort. In fact, even though I know the definition of the word parameter, I still have no understanding of what a parameter is.

The letter is on the weak side, too, though it comes from a writer who describes himself as a scientist.

Look. The climate debate is over. It existed in the first place only because oil billionaires waged a huge campaign to convince people there was no climate change - so the oil industry would have time to make lots more money before it changed enough to be really obvious..

The debate is over. Much of the ice cap has melted.  Ocean levels have risen. Effects on crops and wildlife have happened. The vast majority of world scientists  (with the exception of one in Fredericton of whom we know nothing) agree that climate is changing.

Even if we aren't a hundred percent sure at this point, only an irresponsible ideologue like Stephen Harper would be ignoring the warnings. Only greedy oil executives would persist in risking disaster for billions of people.

Can we now start thinking about plans that make sense? It's stunning that we have so many who blame the post office for changes it had no control over, but who also praise the oil companies who are risking infinitely greater damage.
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Today's is one hell of a boring, irrelevant, amateurish and drab edition, even by the anemic standards of Irving press.

If they had two stories - one that there were tickets on sale for a rock concert on Tuesday night, and the other that the world would end at noon on Tuesday, their front page headline would be "Tickets for concert still available until noon on Tuesday".

They might even slip 'parameters' in there.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dec. 15: Lots to to think about....

...none of it though, in the Irving press.

On Dec. 14, several stories appeared in The Guardian, a British paper. They appeared because fracking has come to Britain. And it's a carbon copy of the experience here. Large numbers don't want it. The British government says -   guess what? - it will have the strictest regulations in the world.

Now, The Guardian, with all its faults, is probably the best newspaper in the English-speaking world. So I would take its findings very seriously indeed, even more seriously than a Norbert column in the TandT. It sent a reporter to Plover, Texas, which has recently been the scene of fracking.

What it found was a hell of noise, day and night, of sleep made impossible by the glaring floodlights after dark, of nausea from the dreadful odour of toxic chemicals used in fracking, of great pools of waste and poisoned water that will be left behind, of equipment that can dig anywhere it likes on your property because none of the minerals under your land, even under your house, belong to you.

It's a world of collapsing property values because nobody wants to live in that hell of noise and poison. Forget law suits to recover the loss. Most cases have property values which cost the home owners everything, but the losses aren't usually enough to justify the cost of lawyers, especially in cases where the other side has lots of lawyers, and lots of money to fight the case..

For a sample of these stories, go to http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/14/
fracking-hell-live-next-shale-gas-well-texas-us

(The last part of that long address, starting with fracking-hell, is really a part of the address, though it is not underlined.

The articles also point out other problems with shale gas. It does NOT significantly reduce greenhouse emmisions. And spending billions on it now means committing ourselves to continued emissions for several decades - by which time it will be too late to stop climate change.

Don't people in the oil and gas business read these articles? Of course they do. But we have to recognize the power of the mental illness called greed. The whole campaign - which has been going on for years - of convincing us that there is no climate change - has been financed and organized by very wealthy leaders in the oil industry.

In reality, the debate about climate change is over. It is happening. And the consequences will be more horrible than we can imagine.

Are the oil and gas people  really so callous about human life? Get real. These are people who have murdered innocents in the millions all over the world to get control of their oil. But I suppose it's not entirely their fault. Greed and a sense of entitlement can have a devastating effect on minds that were never terrible rational in the first place.

That, in effect, is what Pope Francis said recently; and Time thought that important enough to name the Pope man of the year. The Irving press didn't think it was important, though. They didn't mention it. However, they did have an exciting story on the front page about how Bernard Lord's son was doing well in school.
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Bad news on Iran. You will recall that Iran and the US are having talks over an Iranian developments of nuclear weapons which, in fact, was never happening in the first place. They're also discussing closing off Iran's production of nuclear fuel for power plants. (Though Iran has every right under law to do so.)

Israel and Saudi Arabia have never liked these talks. (Israel, incidentally, does have nuclear weapons, some 200 of them. It has them illegally. It refuses to allow inspection. And it refuses to sign international agreements on their use. But we're all in a fluff because Israel says Iran might get one.)

Anyway, Israel and Saudi Arabia don't want peace. They want Iran destroyed, preferably by the US,  leaving them the dominant powers in the region. And it may be that they have won.

Congress, in the middle of peace talks that were going well, has dumped even more (and illegal) trade sanctions on Iran. (Israel, in particular, has a lot of influence in Congress.)  The sanctions were always severe, even killing. Now it's worse. So Israel and Saudi Arabia may get what they want - an Iran bombed to destruction, to tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of deaths of innocent people.
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A few days ago, a US drone killed 13 people in Yemen. They were killed because they were "suspects".  Turns out they weren't suspects. They were families going to a wedding.

Gee. Why do people hate us folks in the western world? It might have something to do with several centuries of invasion, mass murder, torture, slavery, brutality all over the world. We have created a world that hates us. We have created a branch of Islam that gathers its strength from its opposition to all the suffering and buchery we have dumped on the world.

In its imperial days, Britain invaded some 200 countries. And, no, it did not do it to tell them all about Jesus. It did it to enrich a very few British by stealing their minerals and land and labour. And those very few rich British treated their own people as badly as they did the conquered ones. The world of Scrooge existed in Britain until after World War Two. And it's now coming back.

We created Mao -Tse-tung. We did it over a century ago by destroying the Chinese government, by forcing opium on the country, by blocking every effort of the Chinese to establish a democracy, and by supporting a world class drug dealer named Chiang Kai-shek. We drove the Chinese to support Mao.

Some Canadians don't like the way native peoples behave on reserves? Well, who put them on reserves? Who stole their lands? Who shattered their traditional lives? How do you think we would adapt if we were conquered by a completely alien and arrogant and greedy society?

Yes, it's a terribly dangerous world out there.  And nobody is more responsible for that than us.

But it's so much easier to be a racist, and say it's all their fault because they aren't a superior race like us.
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I noticed the word "entrepreneur" popping up a good deal in columns and news stories in the Irving press. Entrepreneur----it means a person builds his own business, taking risks to do so. In fact, the world "risk" is part of the definition.

The Irving press definition is that entrepreneurs are what make an economy tick - and that they create communities and happy homes. But let's get real.

There are small entrepreneurs and big ones - and they are quite different. In fact, the big "entrepreneurs" don't take risks at all. The live off special deals, tax breaks, ability to ignore the government...that's why they're havinig their most profitable years in history while the rest of us wonder how we're gong to end up.

The big boys are not entrepreneurs of any sort. They aren't capitalists, either, because they rarely risk their own capital. They hit us for money, instead.

But I suspect the big  boys are the ones behind all those nice stories we're reading about how the future of NB hangs on entrepreneurs - the "best and brightest" as one overexcited columnist called them.

But the idea that the future of anywhere these days depends on young entrepreneurs is hogwash. The proportion of people we can call entrepreneurs is diminishing every year. Really, when a handful of the very rich are soaking up 40% of our wealth every year, there's not a whole lot of room for new entreprenurs. Indeed, the small entrepreneur is a vanishing breed.

So why is the Irvng press daily wetting its pants with stories about entrepreneurs. This, I think, is it.

Big business in this province would like us to think as highly of it as it thinks of itself. It would like us to admire our economic bosses for the skill with which they are collecting our money.

Now, if you call them capitalist, well, that's an ugly word for quite a few people. It can mean selfish, arrogant, privileged, entitled, irresponsible. That's the way words are. They have official meanings. But what most of us hear in not the dictionary meaning, but vaguer meanings associated with the sound of the word.

And, capitalism, well, it just doesn't cut it. Entrepreneur, now, suggests someone daring, independent, active - all sorts of warm and fuzzy things. And if you can tart it up a bit more with terms like building communities, creating happy homes, best and brightest, why so much the better.

That's why we're getting a committee of 'entrepreneurs', not 'capitalists', to muscle in on our schools, and teach a programme on enrepreneurship. That's why the biggies like to call themselves 'entrepreneurs', which most of them are not. But enterpreneur sounds warm and fuzzy.

But what they'll be brainwashing our childdren on is capitalism - and not even capitalism, really, but the dreadful perversion of greed and arrogance and stupidity it has become.

And seeing it mentioned so often in the Irving press - well, I just get the feeling this is the beginning of a brainwashing aimed at all of us.

Mind you, in a correct use of the word, pimps are entrepreneurs. So are drug dealers. But that shouldn't cause any problems. I doubt whether any editor at the TandT actually knows what entrepreneur or capitalist means.

So just close your eyes, and imagine all those pimps and drug dealers, the "best and brightest" in the land who are out there every day building communities and happy homes.
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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dec. 14: Egg on my face.....

When I heard it on CBC news, I chortled with joy. (You chortle a lot as you get older; it's less tiring than laughing.) It was a story about how the Board of Transport got a warrant to search the St. John offices of Irving.

There was no way, no way, I thought that the Irving press would run this story. I looked forward to the Saturday paper.

hah! As I suspected, it wasn't on the front page. Then I turned the page. And I was disgruntled. You do a lot of disgruntling, too, as you get older. They had it - on A2.

Well, I thought,at least they'll put a false spin on it - like they did with prof. Lapierre.

But, no. The story was honest, balanced, factual. In fact, it was a model of what a news story should be. The writer is Jennifer Pritchard. Good stuff.
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But that's it. There was another story of some importance, "UdeM history book launches on Monday". But the coverage is pretty sparse. Too bad, because here is an opportunity to do something to encourage literacy in a province in which it badly needs encouragement.

Almost all big, grown-up newspapers have book review sections. These stimulate interest in books and learning. You get someone with expertise and impartiality (NOT Brent Mazerolle) to write an informed judgement of the book.

But the TandT seems to work as a commercial flyer rather than as a newspaper. It's nice to see a book is being launched - but a story based on just that is simply an ad, and a boring one at that. You need a review to give it substance.

On the Irving case, good story, well reported. On the history book, the reporter did a good job of writing up the launch. But a book needs more than a reporter. It needs a reviewer. (from outside the loop).

And that's it for section A. The rest is zip. There's a big story that Bernard Lord's son is doing well at school. A BIG story. There are other students in the province doing well, too. But this is the son of Bernard Lord.

Who could bloody care?
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The only story in NewsToday worth a read is "Khadr explains his guilty pleas". I know, of course, that many, perhaps most, Canadians have made up their minds about Khadr.

Khadr pleaded guilty to charges against him because that was the only way to get transferred to Canada. If he had denied the charges, the US would have held him at Guantanamo forever.

The Canadian intelligent agents who visited Khadr  (Canada was supposed to be intervening to  help Khadr as a Canadian citizen) actually and improperly gave the US intelligence more information. (sort makes ya proud to be a Canadian, eh?)

There was and is no evidence that Khadr killed anybody - or tried to. He was a fifteen year old in a yard full of people when it was stormed by US special forces. Almost immediately, he was terribly wounded. So the US soldiers picked up a wounded 15 year old kid, accused him of murdering a US soldier, stuffed him into the horror of Guantanamo where the US needed guilty people to sustain American anger.

In fact, who was murdering who?  Were there tens of thousands of heavily armed Afghanis all over the US shooting up American back yards? And if a terrified American kid had killed one of them, would we be so loudly and righteously indignant?

US troops were going through Afghanistan murdering people. There was no reason for war. The Taliban may be unsavoury, but they had nothing to do with 9/11. That was a cooked-up war planned long before 9/11, and supported only by lies.

The Canadian government has long abandoned its responsibility to represent a Canadian citizen. And it is determined he will serve his full sentence in order to cater to the brutalities of Bush and Obama.

You think all that is okay?

I can only look forward to the day when you are in a Guantamo, and need Stephen Harper to represent you.

There's not even a mention in NewsToday of the China-Japan-US-South Korea-North Korea-Taiwan confrontation which could bring us closer to nuclear war than we have been in fifty years.
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Interesting column by Mike Elliott in Whatever. I don't agree with word of it. But this is the kind of thing that teen-agers and others - lots of others - should think seriously about.

What does it matter what life is about? It might not, as Mike says, matter to the stars, each of which is a long way from anything else. But we  have to live with each other. And that's a big part of what life is about - and what way you choose to live makes a big difference not only to you but to everyone else.

Mike's thinking is often way out. And that's good. If  you really want to think, then often you have to think the unthinkable.
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Norbert has the nerve to discuss the limits of freedom of speech. His case looks reasonable. Information, as from government, should be freely available unless that there is good reason to withhold it. Sounds good.

But there's alway a reason to withhold it, isn't there?The US government didn't want people to know it was hacking their computers and their phones to collect information on them. Well, there was a good reason for the government to hide something that was not only illegal in many cases, but also contrary to the constitution.

When somebody at city hall released information about big cheques handed over to a wealth man for a hockey team, The TandT thought this release was terribly wrong.

There's always a good reason to withhold information  -and the Irving press must have some sort of  prize in that ranking of hiding the truth.

"Bill" Beliveau writes yet another column on our budget deficit - and again without mention of how of that deficit is due to money the corporations and the very rich don't pay.

He praises the prosperity of Israel without noting a) that much of it comes in the form of annual grants of billions from the US or b) that Israel has some of the worst poverty in the developed world, and the worst income gap. Nor does he mention that Israel is losing population at a growing rate as discouraged Israelis migrate to the US, Canada, France and, yes, Germany.

And Israel is surrounded by enemies and in a constant state of war? Oh? And when was the last time Israel was attacked by these enemies? Or, more to the point, when was the last time Israel attacked them? (It wasn't long ago). And when was the last time Israel demanded attacks on its 'enemies'? ) Think Syria and Iran.

And poor, little Israel, it only has some 200 nuclear missiles to defend itself.

Then he ends with a vision of New Brunswick full of young entrepreneurs which he refers to as the best and brightest in the world.

For openers, where is the evidence that entrepreneurs are the best and brightest of anything?

And who is it that's behind all this propaganda we see that entrepreneurs are the solution to all our problems?  Take a look at the real world. Any country in poverty  (Guatemala, Congo, Haiti, Bangladesh) is a country put into poverty and kept there by its entrepreneurs.

Think of all the countries you ever heard of that have been led to prosperity and happiness by an enterpreneur. In fact, very, very few entrepreneurs  have become political leaders.  Shoosh. Next thing we'll hear is that Mandella was an entrepreneur.

Brent Mazerolle does what he does best  - an utterly irrelevant story mostly about himself.

Gwynne Dyer is optimistic about the French role in putting down genocide in Central Africa Republic.I'm not. Countries,a s a rule, don't go to the help of other countries because they want to do "good things". The US did not kill a half million or  so Iraqis so they could build schools for little girls. France is not intervening in Africa because it is big-hearted.

As well, the chaos that is Africa has been created by over a century of western interference. More interference will not solve anything.
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The Letter of the Day caught my attention for an absurd statement. Several absurd statements, actually; but I'll just do one here. It's about fracking.

The writer claims "....the "silent majority" will wade through the misinformation and half-truths  (to form) an  intelligent decision based on facts from credible sources."

First, if the majority are silent, how does the author know that they're thinking? Or if they are thinking at all? And how does he know they are a majority?

And they will wade their way through to form an intelligent decision based on facts......? Where, exactly, are they going to find those sources? And remember, in literary terms, we are the worst in Canada. These are the people who are going to find facts from credible sources? How would they know what a credible source is? Perhaps the writer could give us a sample of such sources.

In fact, all my experience from years of political and community work, is that the silent majority is silent because it doesn't care. It knows nothing and doesn't intend to find out. And that explains why New Brunswick votes either Liberal or Conservative.
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The sermonette is a safe and wimpy one even by the standards of the Faith Page. It's okay, it seems, that if somebody says  "happy holiday" to you, you just say "thank you." Well, that a load off my soul.

You know, if that sort of thing were all Jesus ever had to say, there's be no point in reading The Bible.

Jesus addressed the problems he saw in the world around Him. The world around us gives no sign of being run on Christian, Judaic, Moslem, Confucist or any other religious principles I have ever heard of.

People should be going to religious services for more spiritual insight and muscle. Instead, they get a pat on the head and a reminder to say "thank you" when people say "happy holidays".

This is pretty piddling stuff.



 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dec. 13: This is actually being written on the evening of Dec. 12 because...

...Dec. 13 is the day I see the doctor to determine whether it's time to alert all the used body parts dealers that there's a big sale coming - and to take my son to the dentist. It's going to be a crowded day.

Besides, I feel guilty that my Dec. 12 blog was so boring. I feel guiltiest that  I let Norbert get away with a columm that said all there is to know about him. So let's start there.

It was a column about how Alward has failed to deal with the need for spending cuts - and how the Liberals seem no better. He stopped there, leaving out two important points.

1. He never once mentioned the domination of this province by big business as a major reason for its overspending and for its own underfunding.

 Norbert, Mr. Irving himself appointed the advisors to the Minister of Finance. Have you ever heard of responsibiity? Have they? Does it not even occur to Mr. Irving that in pushing himself into government and appointing his people as government advisors that he had assumed responsibility for the results? Apparently, it didn't. And it hasn't occurred to Norbert, either.

And did it not occur to Norbert to check on exactly who is paying taxes in this province, and who isn't?

2. And he mentioned only two parties, the Conservatives and the Liberals. Is he not aware therre are other parties?

Is he not aware that the Liberals and Conservatives are both Irving parties?

Well, of course he is. But he knows that if he said so, one of the Irvings would slap his little bum.

In fact, the government of this province is an amalgam of the major corporations, the great, corrupting forces in this province, with the the Liberals and Conservatives the corrupted figureheads, and the Irving press as the Irving paid hookers for all the forces of corruption and greed that run loose.

And why wouldn't Norbert say that? Because he's part of it and has built his whole career on kissing up to that corruption and greed. If I were him, I wouldn't mention that, either.

Norbert's thinking is common in New Brunswick. Indeed, it's the cause of the province's grief - with a lot more to come. On Dec. 11, there was a Letter to the Editor that I thought amusing at the time. It really wasn't.

The writer said, quite accurately, that the Conservatives were a disaster. Therefore, we should vote Liberal in the next election. He gave no reason to vote Liberal. How could he? Even a fool must have noticed by now that both parties are the same party. Besides, didn't we just vote for the Conservatives on the reasoning that the Liberals were hopeless?

Big business does not come here to bring prosperity. It ain't Santa Claus. It comes here to take prosperity for itself.

It does not come here to create jobs. Jobs, after all, cost it money. So it creates as few as it possibly can. And it pays as cheaply as it can. And it avoids all the taxes it can.

Left to itself, big business will not make New Brunswick prosperous. That simply is not what it's about. It's about making money for itself, not about giving it.

Inevitably, it produces a leadership (and there are lots of studies of this) based on families that see themselves as entitled, that think only of themselves, that see us as, at most, cheap and obedient labour, that have nothing but contempt for us.

Overseas, they pay slave labour wages, work people in dangerous conditions seven days a week, leave not a penny for education or health care, create poverty and death wherever they go. Can anybody seriously believe that these are the sort of people who have the wisdom - or the morality -  to guide a society?

Capitalism cannot work in a society in which it has special powers or freedoms. Look at all the poorest countries in the world. You will find that most have mineral wealth that is being ripped out by capitalists who are allowed to run free.

What you get from unregulated capitalism is wars with deaths by the millions (we've just gone through over fifty years of that with lots more to come), hard work and wretched poverty, disease, hatred. Look at Congo (lots of Canadian mining companies there in a country that has lost tens of millions of people to a capitalism out of control). Ditto with most of Central America - where some of our local families are prominent in exploitation, murder, and the creation of poverty.

You think they wouldn't do it to  you?

That's cute.

There was a very short golden age of capitalism when it did produce wealth. It lasted from 1939 into the 1960s and a bit later. That was because for some thirty years the west had governments which regulated capitalism.

I often thought I was lucky to be born at the depth of the depression. I was too young to think of or even be aware of all the things that were missing in life. By the time I was old enough, the good years had come - and my life had possibilities unimaginable to my parents. And by the time the rich had turned things around, and were free to plunder as they liked and as the world closed in, I was about to retire. I am part of the luckiest generation in Canadian history.

Now, capitalists control the government of New Brunswick. Stephen Harper is very much one of them. He thinks like big business. He has no concept of the future or planning for it, no concept of how to bring people together. And he has done much to relieve big business of any regulation or obligation.

Right now, we are signing treaties that will allow capitalists to sue us if we don't let them destroy the environment as they please. Right now, we are in a race to see who will lower taxes for the rich the most. Right now in the western world, we are watching the destruction of the middle class, the spread of poverty, the attack on essential social services, all those things we built up in the few, good years after World War II.

Much of it,driven by a perversion of capitalism, has already been destroyed. The police and the paramilitaries are called out when ordinary citizens complain about any issue - like shale gas. They are never called out when big business destroys a region. The prime minister is preaching toughness against people found guilty even of petty crimes. But big business doesn't even get a slap on the wrist to sending killer trains across the country. And a prime minister who took hundreds of thousands in a suitcase full of money when he was p.m. got no penalty at all. And, most recently, he got a free trip to South Africa at our expense. Mendalla would have been thrilled to know about it.

Democracy, controlled by big money, has long since withered. (There's a reason we get such a dreary alternation of Liberal and Conservative deadheads in this province.) We are now going down a very steep slope.

Big business around the world wants absolute dominance. And they are very close to getting it. And where would such dominance take us?

We don't have to guess. We see it every day. Constant wars -of which one will probably be the final one. A world of hatreds. Who do you think created the hatred of the west that led to the rise of a radical Islam? And who do you think created the hatred of all Moslems as an excuse for fighting oil wars against them and justifying the destruction of democratic freedoms in our society?

So what should New Brunswick do in the next election?

New Brunswick has to elect a government that has a sense of the future, a sense of the worthiness of all people - even those who aren't rich, a commitment to restoring the regulation of big business, and to keep it out of government.

That's going to mean a party with a sense of moral standards, of  service to the whole society.

That's going to mean New Brunswick voters with a sense of courage and determination which, frankly, I have never seen in this province.

You're going to have to do something way out of the ordinary in the next election because doing the ordinary has brought us to the edge of disaster. The wrong choice now could very well finish the job.

Yes, Norbert, there are other parties. Now, since you have admitted in your column that both of them are stinkers, how about using your space to tell us something about the other parties? And how about telling us what it is we need rather than what greedy, short-sighted and, frankly, not very bright corporation bosses tell us we need.
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Like Norbert, I'll end with an intellectual quotation. (by me)

"Having a pet donkey is nice. But you don't let it pick the family menu. You don't invite it to the supper table. And you don't give it free use of your bathroom."
 

Dec. 12: A collector's item...

Some day, the edition of The Moncton Times and Transcript for this day, Dec. 12, 2013, will be worth big money. I've been thinking of buying a bunch for all those to whom I  give Christmas gifts. Some day, they'll appreciate it.

Check out the editorial cartoon. It's the same as the one for Dec. 11. I've never seen that in a newspaper before. I've never even heard of it.

The name at the top of the page for the responsible editor is Rod Allen.

I can't even begin to imagine how an editor could do something so sloppy and careless.  In fact, I can't even imagine a word to describe how amateurish this is because I've never seen it even in amateur papers.

Has the  bottle of Christmas cheer been going around the TandT office a little early this year?
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Urban mail delivery will end soon. Eight thousand jobs will be lost. Well, that sounds like a good way to fight recession and unemployment. Meanwhile, Our provincial governments and, sometimes, Ottawa, pay private companies to  hire people on the reasoning that this creates jobs in recession times.

Seems to be a bit of confusion in thought, there. If it makes sense to subsidize private companies  in order to create jobs, why would it not be the same for public companies?

What's this really all about?

What it's about is that Harper approaches government as if it were a mom and pop convenience store.If it's not making an obvious profit, you have to cut costs. It works for a mom and pop store. But for a country, it just creates 8,000 more people who don't have jobs. Not really a great  way to fight a recession.

The federal government did this at a time when parliament could not discuss it or provoke discussion across Canada. Harper's timing has a reason. He knows that any discussion would show that what he's doing doesn't make sense. It would also highlight the fact that Harper has been working for a balanced budget   simply by cutting services, some of them vital. For example, he has saved a chunk of money by cutting research into climate change.

And, yes, that balances this year's budget. But, oh, my, we're going to pay one hell of a price for it - and soon..

However, it's important to cut something so we can give out contracts to build a new navy at grossly inflated prices. That way we can make a rich New Brunswicker really, really rich. And then  the money will trickle down to all of us.

Right. The very rich of New Brunswick have always been very good to us that way.

But not to to worry. I suspect the fix is already in. Harper is going to sell/give Canada post to a private corporation. So start saving your money now for a higher price of postage.

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There's a disturbing story on p. C1 about the use of IPads in schools. Researchers have found that a third of students use their IPads in class to play games - and that 99% of the students said that IPads in the classroom are distracting.

The researchers, for reasons that are not clear, dump most of the blame on teachers. They also seem to think that schools should be making heavy use of the new technology simply because it's the new technology.

But this isn't like the switch from quills to steel pens. IPads are useful, sometimes. They can also  be a terribly glib approach to learning. In fact, there is very little evidence that the computer generation is more literate or knowledgeable that preceding generations.

We need to learn a lot more about what computers do to us before we leap to build an education system around them.
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The most important story in NewsToday is on C3. "Fish feeling anxious over climate change".

It sounds comic. It isn't.

The great debate over    climate change is ended. It ended a long time ago. The deniers (like Harper and the oil industry) will continue to deny. But the evidence is overwhelming. Its hard to find a scientest anywhere in the world who will dismiss climate change and it's inevitable results.

But Harper hasn't budged. His policy in claiming that the North Pole is Canadian is based on the expectation that climate change will open that region to resource exploitation. But he still pretends it isn't happening by refusing to meet emissions control targets, by encouraging the development of more fossil fuel deposits, by destroying environmental controls and cutting off climate research.

There is,  in Harper as in big business, an obsession  with short-term, quick profits with no thought whatever for the future. Is it greed? Is it stupidity? It's probably a little more complicated than that. There is greed, of  course. And there is stupidity. And there is a complete lack of moral values, and of any sense of social responsibility. It almost comes down to a mental illness - and I used the word "almost" only as a courtesy.

Big business and its servants ,like Mr. Harper and Mr. Alward, are the most dangerous threats we have ever encountered. They are now, in fact, establishing pracitices that go well beyond Hitler's Nazism in both structure and in the damage they do..

And, as they do it, they are ignoring the greatest threat we have ever seen, the change in climate.

C4 has the story of how the US congress plans to impose sanctions on Iran in January. The purpose, of course, is to make sure the negotiations with Iran fail, and the US, Irael and Saudi Arabia can destroy Iran with bombing.

The article doesn't mention that the US has no right to impose sanctions on anybody. This is an act that imposes dreadful suffering, shortages, and poverty on the  victim. If anyone were to impose sanctions on the US, it would be considered an act of war.

But it's okay for the US to hit other nations that can't hit back.

Get used to it. We are just getting into a period of unending war - mostly to maintain profits for American big business (with "good" Canadians riding on the coattails.)

C11 has the story that the US and Britain are suspending nonlethal aid (like computers) to the Syrian rebels because so many of them support extreme and terrorist Islamic views.

But they will continue nonlethal aid like food and blankets.

Isn't that a bit strange? I mean here's a story about two kinds of non-lethal aid. If they are both non-lethal, why use the term non-lethal at all? Why not just refer to technical aid and humanitarian aid.
Why the emphasis on non-lethal aid?

Because the US and Britain, along with their good ol' buddies in Saudi Arabia and Israel are continuing the lethal aid that they have been supplying to the "rebels" from the start. That's why.

In fact, the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Israel (and Canada) have flooded the whole region with weapons, guaranteeing one hell of a chaos for Africa. It's good for our "defence" industries.
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On the editorial page, only Alec Bruce is worth reading. Norbert again comments on the economy, again without mentioning the role of the very rich who own most of our economy and who pocket half of its total wealth.
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Rod Allen manages the feat of writing a column in praise of Mandella which is mostly a column about Rod Allen.

There is a jolting column by Jody Dallaire who writes about the practice of income-splitting to save money at tax time. It seems there are no great savings unless the income is $90,000 a year. Even luckier, though, are the top ten percent who make $150,000 a year. It seems they get back a third of all the refund money for tax-splitting.

Did you know that, Norbert?

Oh course not. And you still won't.
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There are two, excellent letters to the editor. "CBC critic should hoist U.S. flag" and "Climate consensus took many years".