Monday, January 13, 2014

Jan. 13:You, me, and all of us....

All us people can be terribly insensitive. This is something I should have mentioned regarding the front page of Leisure and Travel on Saturday.

The story is about a family that visited Haiti as part of an enormous shipload of moneyed holiday-seekers. They saw, according to the writer, the real Haiti. "The real Haiti", it seems, is not poverty-stricken, has little crime, and wasn't touched by the earthquake. No, "The real Haiti" is a beach, a remote part of the island, and a monster pleasure ship that provides accommodation and excellent restaurants.

The local people are permitted on the beach only when invited to entertain the sun-bathers or pour drinks. But you can see them if you go to their "quaint" village. The article doesn't say so, but quaint means the villagers have no medical facilities or school or plumbing. It means they will die much younger than the tourists. It means they earn less in a year than a tourist might spend on the ship for supper and a half-decent wine.

The writer notices that the rest of Haiti has high rates of crime and poverty. But doesn't say why.

The why is that Haiti has been pillaged for two hundred years by  France, Britain and the US. For most of the last hundred years, it has been under the control of brutal dictators appointed by the US government. They have murdered, robbed and raped at will. That's why Haiti is the poorest country in the hemisphere. That's why big business makes big money out of fruit plantations, and clothing sweatshops where workers are lucky to earn 2 or 3 dollars a day. That's why Haiti has no plumbing or education system or medical system to speak of.

And the earthquake relief? The US has never given the amount it promised. And most of it went to big time promoters who put it in there pockets, charged it to consulting fees, then deposited it in offshore banks.

When Haiti did insist on on election and chose a priest who actually introduced all those things the country wanted and needed, big business got mad, staged a fake invasion, and the US government sent in troops to "protect" Haiti - and whose first act was to deport the elected president, and install an American puppet once again.

They called it "peacekeeping", and Canada, to its eternal shame, took part by sending troops and police.

That's why Haiti is poor and has a high crime rate, little plumbing, and no safe water.

But we don't have to see that. We can go to a lovely beach with an excellent restaurant on board ship, and we can visit the "quaint" village. That's the "real" Haiti.


The news is so little and so trivial that I at first saw nothing worth mentioning. Then a headline at the bottom of the last page of section A caught my attention. "Train's need stronger wheels: CN Rail".

Yep, I thought. That's the problem. It's all them there steel wheels breaking off and bursting into flames that's the problem. Then I read the story.

It doesn't mention wheels. The story is about how the old, DOT:111 tank cars need to be replaced with tankers built of stronger steel. The world "wheels" does not appear. So how did it get into the headline?

Well, as a rule, a paper's editors write the headlines. So why write one that draws attention to the wheels and not to what the story says?

Well, Lac Megantic was caused by the old, DOT:111 cars. That was an Irving shipment. Plaster Rock was caused by the old DOT:111 cars. That was an Irving shipment, too. A reader wrote in to say I was picking on Irving, and it's the railway that's responsible, not Irving.

On that,  we still don't have a final report for the first accident on whether Irving had mislabelled its shipment. For the second, I'm quite sure that Irving has enough clout with CNRail to demand what sort of tankers are to be used. And with 47 deaths not far behind them, I would wonder about the intelligence and/or humanity of executives who did not do so.

I don't disagree with Alec Bruce's column on the need to plan for NB's future....well, I sort of do disagree ......

In New Brunswick, all planning seems to begin with economics and to confine itself narrowly to economics. All solutions are confined to jobs. It's a model that has never worked. Almost invariably, what you get are projects great for big business but with little impact on the province.

New Brunswick isn't just grand economic schemes. It's people. The people and what we want to achieve for them is an essential part of the planning process.  All we ever seem to discuss are quick fixes like the events centre, and the prosperity which will, maybe, arise from them. And our track record is bad.

We need to include people in the mix. What do they need (besides jobs)?  How do combine drawing investment with meeting those needs?

Steve Malloy has a thoughtful column that is well worth a read. it's about railway accidents and pipeline projects. He has a nasty mind, does young Steve. But he could be bang on.

Craig Babstock's column proves that Craig Babstock doesn't understand statistics. Not his fault. Journalism schools don't teach nearly as much as they should on this topic.

He quotes a poll showing that three-quarters of New Brunswickers don't approve of protests that break the law. Well....

1. the poll was taken, obviously, in the midst of interest generated by the shale gas protest, largely of native peoples. That will affect the results. Those in favour of shale gas won't approve of protests - because they don't approve of that particular one.
2. Racism is not unknown, not even in New Brunswick. The identification of a group as a protestor will draw general condemnation of protest.

Now, consider this...
1. it is the year 1777. Americans are polled on the issue of whether they support protests that break the law. How do you think that one would come out?
Or a similar one in France after the king was deposed?

2. Polls were taken at the time when the Arab Spring was raising great expectations of change in the arab world. There were protests, many protests against dictators. There was lots of violence on both sides. What poll results  would you have got on that from a North American sample? (We don't have to guess. They supported the protests.)

3. When the US invaded Iraq, it did so illegally under international law. In this, the US government was carrying out out a highly illegal and bloody protest against...something. Do you think a poll of Americans would condemn that? I rather doubt it.

Statistics sound scientific. They aren't. It's a general rule that you can use statistics to prove whatever you want. In fact, you can use  the same set of statistics to prove either side of just about any issue.

In the case of Rexton, it was made worse by bad reporting, and by Alward's hysterical cry when a very, very few guns and knives were found, "It's an armed camp."  Hell, I can show him far bigger "armed camps" in every village of New Brunswick.
John Stockwell was a very high placed official in the CIA up to the 1970s. In fact, he was often in charge of whole wars, the wars the US never talks about, the ones carried out by "special forces", the usually illegal wars that the news media rarely mention. According to John Stockwell, his thirteen years at the highest levels of this organization saw some 6 million people killed by such "wars". There were probably more people killed in those illegal and secret wars than in all the other wars of the time.

He has testified to this quite openly before Congress. But the news media paid little attention.

In one of his wars, the purpose of the action was to help the  whites of South Africa put down the rebellion against their rule There was very, very little reporting on this one. But the US took a full hand in supplying, leading, and and assisting the white government to kill its black population. Oh, yes, it also hired white mercenaries to help out South Africa's white rulers.

Cuba sent troops to help Mandela's followers (Mandela was in jail). But the press never mentioned that, either.

In 1978, Stockwell released a book, published by W.W.Norton "In Search of Enemies" that talked about the brutalities, the torture, the indiscriminate killing - and the utter uselessness of those wars. (Perhaps you saw the review in the Times and Transcript - or perhaps not). The book became a world best-seller.
The government would have loved to jail him as a traitor a la Snowden. But it's a little tough to put a man of his record of government service on trial.

For a speech by him about his work, I don't have a proper URL, but google America's Third World War.

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