Friday, February 28, 2014

Feb. 28: My February budget balanced!

Okay. It's no big deal to  you.  But to me it's like the first summer sunrise after an awful winter.

In other news, there's a news source I should have mentioned to you a long time ago. It's about New Brunswick, only about New Brunswick, and, as I read it yesterday, I was struck by how good it was with solid research and good writing. It's called NB Media Coop- and you can  see some of its current work on

It's lead story is BWS Manufacturing which laid off 26 skilled workers. This is a company that received over 3 million dollars in grants and loans to set up shop in NB. There's a picture of smiling politicians and Alward celebrating  the grants of all that money.

Then the company laid off 22 skilled workers. Was it because they were incompetent? Not likely. One of them had been employed by the firm for thirty years. Nor was the company downsizing. No, the reason they were laid off seems clear. They had signed up to join a union because their wages were low.

The smiling politicians have so far been silent.

But look it up on the web for yourself. This is the sort of news we aren't getting from the Irving press.

In other news the Irving press doesn't have, American secretary of state Kerry is deliberately wrecking the peace talks between Israel and Palestine. He insists that the peace must allow Israel keep ten, large "settlements' that it built on land that was Palestinian - kicking the Palestinians off their land, and building houses for Israelis on it. This was not only illegal; it showed an utter contempt for human rights.

It's reasonable? Oh? Would the US think it reasonable if Mexicans moved into Texas, kicked Americans off their land, and then built houses for Mexicans on it?

The peace talks are dead in the water - which is something that Israel and the US have been doing over the decades since this started.

In a related story that also won't appear in the Irving press, Amnesty International, after a long investigation, said Israel uses excessive force against Palestinians. killing large numbers, including children.

Enough of our guilt tripping. Do you know the real reason why Lord Balfour of Britain promised a  homeland for the Jews in 1926, the promise that led to the founding of Israel after World War Two?
Balfour and the British weren't being big-hearted. They wanted a place to dump the Jews. That's why they promised a homeland.

It was because there was a strong anti-semitism in Britain, particularly among the aristocratic class. Britain. (if more genteely) was as anti-semitic as Geermany, The Netherlands, France, Russia. They all were. So were Canada and the US.

(By the way, I hate to use the word semitic in this context. Most of the Jews of Israel and Europe and North America are NOT semites. They are of European descent. In fact, the Palestinians ARE semites.)

We like to be all self-righteous now, and pretend we always accepted Jews. No. We didn't. Canada wouldn't accept Jews even after 1945 when so many were desperate to get out of Europe.

Canada still refuses to accept Romas who have a similar history to that of the Jews in Europe - isolated, attacked, despised, - and executed in large numbers by Hitler. Harper remains a bigot, and he won't let Romas into Canada..

That abandonment of Jews, especially by the western world, in the face of the holocaust, created the Israeli Jew - very, very different from the Jewish community I have known, admired and loved for most of my life.

It created a community filled with distrust and a hatred that blew into a profound fury against the world. It created a Netanyahu who gives not a damn for the rest of the world - as most of the rest of the world gave not a damn for the Jews.

Anger and guilt were played on by a powerful Jewish lobby in North America. Guilt-tripping North Americans were happily drawn into it. (Of course. It was proof of  how we had always loved the Jews.)

And sadly, the Canadian Jewish community has been so sucked into it that I cannot find in it much of the Judaism. So, in the end, Hitler has won. The Judaism I knew is almost gone, replaced by a lawless and immoral fury.

Sorry to get off on that. But you're not going to get the truth out of any newspaper in the western world. Harper's fawning support of Israel as a violent state is our protection against the guilt we should be feeling, dumping it all on Hitler and Moslems.
Reporting on Ukraine continues to be bizarre. Gunmen favouring links to Russia stormed and occupied a government building in a regional capital in Crimea. The acting president condemned this as a crime against the government of Ukraine.

--uh, I believe that this is the same man was appointed acting president of Ukraine when pro-European gunmen stormed and occupied Ukrainian government buildings.

So I guess the rule is you are allowed to overthrow a government if you are (we still don't really know who they are) a 'rebel' against something with five billion dollars from the US government to equip and rebel with. But not otherwise.
Alec Bruce, on our domestic spy agencies, is a must read. The creation of them is outrageous. Our tax money is taken to  hire people to spy on us. They are accountable to nobody except Harper. They collect private information that it is illegal to collect in a free society.

And what happens to that information? Well, it's handed over to big business so that it  knows what its critics are doing. It is used by big business to frame its advertising programmes, and to control our thinking. It is certainly used by politicians to help them manipulate us.

It also has rich possibilities for blackmailing individuals,  possibilities open only to politicians and big business - the ones who get the information.

Democracy is gone. And don't kid yourself for a minute on this one. We have accepted as normal what we say every November 11 is what our our soldiers fought to protect us against.

This is not a minor development. This is a fundamental change that is happening throughout western societies. We have been grossly betrayed by the Harpers and Obamas. We are very near to becoming the new generation of Hitlers and Stalins - and it will happen very, very soon. It is quite possible the process is just about complete.

I know most people will say this is an exaggeratiion. In the US, where it's at least as bad, the mouthies of the National Rifle Association constantly insist they need guns to protect the constitution. Hell, the US constitution has been rubble for at least a generation. And they haven't fired so much as a water pistol.

It's in our nature that we don't see what we don't want to see. What has happened should put one hell of a scare into everybody.

But it won't. And we have very little time left.
This reminds me of a column Norbert wrote some weeks ago, a column on  how the important thing in an election is which politician has neat ideas.


People voted Harper because they thought he had neat ideas. The press talks of Trudeau as though he has neat ideas. Ditto Alward and Gallant. What Norbert ignores is that Hitler was much admired for his neat ideas in the 1930s. He made Germany prosperous.

But no. You don't look for neat ideas. You look for the principles these people represent. And if Harper and Trudeau and Almand and Gallant have any principles at all, they are well hidden.

Speaking of Norbert, he  offers today a wordy attempt at being philosophical. Some people will read it. They're probably the same ones who never miss the column on which ex-rock stars have birthdays  today.

David Suzuki has a more useful column on how we and our news media use Gross National Product as a measure of how well we are living. It does no such thing. If it did, Congo would be a nation of good times and easy living. (It's not.)

The papers often carry a story that the recession is easing because the GNP is up. What they don't understand is it's not going up because of any prosperity on our part. It's going up because corporations are getting lots of money from us and making big profits because so many Canadians are poor and desperate for jobs.

Suzuki's column is excellent on the subject.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Feb. 27: "Any kind of military intervention that would violate the. territorial integrity of the Ukraine....

would be a huge, a grave mistake." US policy was aimed at helping people realize aspirations for freedom......"  So says John Kerry, US Secretary of State.

Donne-moi un break.

This is the TandT's story from The Associated Press. It does not mention the public statement of a month or so ago that the the US had spent 5 billion to start a rebel movement in Ukraine. Well, why would it? The American people don't know about the statement. Associated Press never told them.

That's what happens when you have a lying press that is devoted to propaganda rather than news.

John Kerry also says no-one should interfere in the affairs of a sovereign state . In fact, he has done  nothing but interfere from the start.

Then he says to help the people of the Ukraine in their aspirations for freedom.

Sure. The US is big on freedom. That's why it has secret police all over the country spying on American citizens. It's so big on freedom, one of its closest allies is Saudi Arabia, the severest dictatorship in the world. That's why it supported dictator after dictator in Latin America, and slaughtered people who wanted freedom.

In fact, we don't even know that the rebels want freedom. We don't know anything about them. There is a cozy assumption that they want freedom and that they represent the majority - but not the slightest evidence.

We know that large sections of Ukraine are pro-Russian. So why this assumption that the rebels represent a majority?

Hell, if Kerry really had a love for bringing freedom to a people, he night start with those the US has taken it away from over the years - like Guatemala and Haiti.

This "news report" is pure propaganda  You cannot read it without coming to the conclusion that the people of Ukraine are living in chains and slavery, and they have risen out of a thirst for freedom. In fact, we have no information on that. The only solid information we have is that the US spent 5 billion. So why did the news editor choose to present it as news?

Well, let's be kind. Let's presume the news editor at the TandT didn't know any better.

And note that a newspaper chain the size of Irving press doesn't have a staffer competent to write a column on this.

Kerry is forever saying we must never interfere in the affairs of a foreign state. In fact, he has done nothing but interfere in this one from the start- and he represents a nation that routinely interferes with other countries - stirring up rebellions, invading, sending with assassination squads. bombing with drones, imposing sanctions (which is an act of war), etc.

The country which is deliberately risking a war here is the US. Can the US win such a war?

Not with conventional weapons. The US has not beaten a country it's own size in a conventional war since the revolution. (Actually, many American school books cite the War of 1812 as a victory - something that never got mentioned in our festival 2012.).  In the last fifty years, it has not even been able to defeat tiny, third world countries,- - not even using chemical weapons it so much disapproves of other countries using.

Russia is not only big, and a modern, industrial power. But there is also China which is kind of large, too, and cannot afford to see Russia, it's only possible ally of any size, humbled.

And that takes us into a war that nobody could win without nuclear weapons - which really means a war that nobody could win.

By the way, where is Obama in all of this? The excitable Mr. Kerry seems to be carrying all the baggage of his one. It seems a little odd to hear nothing from the president.

There's really nothing to talk about in the rest of the paper - except at a comment on Alec Bruce's column on cheating among university students/ It should be detectable to a teacher. When I had a student with a high grade on a paper (B or better), that meant, among other things, it was well written. And if that student turned in poor writing on the final exam - then I knew something was rotten.  One doesn't expect perfection in the pressure of writing an exam. But good writers, even in exams, don't don't suddenly burst out in terrible grammar and bad spelling.

But proving that to an appeals committee is quite another matter. Committees take a highly legalistic approach. That's why I would suspect the rates of cheating in universities are a good deal higher than official figures show.

There really isn't much to say about the rest of the paper that I haven't said before. So let's try some history. Ukraine made me think of it; but Ukraine isn't the centre of it.

I was stuck one day in Ottawa, chairing a conference for MBA students is a programme designed for promising executives. The awful thing about being a chariman is you really can't say much. And I was astonished to hear the propaganda that was spewed out the speakers - who came from an eminent "think tank".

The constant theme was that capitalism creates wealth. And I suppose it could if it were properly regulated and if it were honest. Alas, it has only rarely been of those qualities.

Perhaps the major foundation stone of capitalism in the US was slavery - particularly in the cotton business. But that didn't create wealth except for the George Washingtons with huge estates and armies of slaves. Those slaves were worked to death, paid nothing, and fed on whatever was cheap. And they were the lucky ones.

Some sixty million died just on the voyage from their homes in Africa. Canada had slavery, too, of course, though no such super industry as cotton growing to help it to become as prominent. We also enslaved native peoples -    something that you won't see in most high school texts. But they died too young, with the average in the very early twenties. Anyway, it was too easy for them to escape and survive in the American wilderness.

African slaves lived longer -sometimes to thirty or more - and Africa was too far to escape to.

In short, the earliest form of big capitalism in North America rested on slavery, abuse, and poverty.

Slaves were common in Europe, too. But there was no adequate base for the institution in European farming. So the poverty had to be found (or created )somewhere else.

The European capitalists found their targets in the much weaker homelands of Africa and Asia. There, for example, British armies that we had been taught in school to admire for their work in spreading Christian values, really acted as what they really were - thugs acting for big business.

Vast mineral wealth was stolen in perhaps the greatest theft which still goes on today in Africa and Central America. Local people were forced to work in conditions that sometimes (as in Congo) were worse than slavery. Our heroes were, on a massive scale, torturers, rapists, and murderers. And, yes, I am thinking of all those heroes like Sir Cecil Rhodes, and all those generals. They impoverished much of the world.

Nor did that wealth ever reach most of the European and north American people. They, too, were beaten into submission,, paid next to nothing, thrust into dangerous and unhealthy slums. Everywhere it went, capitalism left a trail of poverty, suffering and death.

By the 1870s, the British were beginning to realize they could not sustain control of their huge empire. That is what led to the idea of forming a partnership with the US to share the task of ruling so may of the world's people.

But the US wasn't interested. It was too busy building its own empire in Latin America, then reaching across the Pacific to Hawaii, The Phillipines (where they murdered a third of the population and, as usual, established a dictatorship). The poet Rudyard Kipling cheered on this conquest in his poem "Take up the White man's burden" He was looking to use this to encourage British/American cooperation. But the US wasn't interested. It's eyes were fixed, as they still are,on the greatest gem of all - China.

(Notice the reference to the "White man's burden". It's a hint  of the racism that was common at the time. The west was robbing those countries. But it kidded itself it was taking up a burden to civilize them. The US still does that with the pretence it only wants to bring freedom to the world. That's why it has to kill so many people.)

Unable to win American attention, the British then turned to the white part of the empire (and India) to bolster their dwindling power. That's why Canadians died in the Boer War - to help British billionaires steal South African gold and diamonds.

But by 1950 or so, the western powers had lost control over the empires. The US lost, even in South America, when Cuba became the first Latin American country to overthrow its American-imposed dictatorship. Thus the campaign that still goes on to teach Americans to hate Cubans.

But the west could not be prosperous without its colonies to steal from. The US had hoped to take over from the Europeans. But it failed miserably.  It's hold on South America was weakening, China was too strong to subdue, and the American military proved miserably ineffective in small wars like Vietnam.

That was when the west took another look at NATO, which had been intended to defend Western Europe. Why not convert NATO into something like the British commonwealth, an association of failed imperial powers who would now act as one in world affairs, and combine their energies to dominate the world?

And so we have a NATO which is actually a grouping of over-the-hill European powers under the control of a US that, itself, shows over-the-hill signs.

And the average Europeans and North Americans? They are no better off at all. That was never the point of the game.

Oh, yes, note how closely western Europe is following American leadership in the case of Ukraine. They're all just a happy bunch of freedom lovers.

Sorry to be so late with this one. I've joined an exercise class so I can be beautiful again. (it might take a while). And it really ate into my day.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Feb. 26: Two weeks in Oct., 1960....

I shall never forget them. The fear was so high that students sometimes burst into tears in class. I remember a teacher who broke under the strain, and fled her class.

Cuba had just got rid of the last of its US-appointed dictators, a series of torturers, killers, thieves, and rapists who kept salaries and social services down so that American big business could loot the country in peace. (Were you under the impression that Cuba was a paradise until that awful Mr. Castro came along? It wasn't. There was a reason why he won.)

Castro then turned to the US for help. The US refused. It wanted its dictators back on the job. So, Castro turned to the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union offered trade - and some nuclear missiles to be planted on Cuban soil, just minutes of flying time from the US south coast.

President Kennedy decided the US could not permit that, and sent warships to intercept the Soviet freighters, warning he would sink them if they attempted to reach Cuba. Any such sinking would very likely have led to a world, nuclear war. Thus the two weeks of fear, and even terror.

Flash to today.

The US has created and paid for an uprising in Ukraine. (Most of our news media haven't mentioned that, though the assistant to the secretary of state publicly announced it at five billion dollars over a month ago.)

That money has succeeded in taking power, though only in that part of the country that holds the capital. The rest of the country is pro-Russian -and wants nothing to do with either Americans or rebels.

The US has openly intervened in a matter that really has nothing to do with it. And one of Obama's favourite poodles, our own John Baird, is rushing over to help the rebels or, as the TandT puts it on C1, "Canada reaches out to Ukraine". Doesn't that sound nice? Reaching out, yeah, very Christian.

Actually, of course, Canada is just being a good poodle. Why else would we care? To spread democracy? Get real. Some of out closest allies around the world are dictators. We sat by and watched while the US slaughtered a quarter million Guatemalans to keep our mining investors  happy. We sent a phony peacekeeping force to Haiti to help the US get rid of the only democratic government that country ever had, and to install a US puppet.

And we don't even know who these protesters are or what it is they want. Some, at least, have strong, neo-Nazi affiliations - and they are most prominent in a part of the Ukraine with a long history of racist and Nazi sympathies. It is a part that contributed heavily in soldiers for Hitler's Waffen SS, and as persecutors of Jews.

So - the rule is nobody is allowed to plant missile bases close to the US. But the US is allowed to set up missile bases in the Ukraine close to Russia.

Another rule - It's against international law to set up violence in another country. But it's okay for the US to do it.

And there's an even more dangerous message in there.

The US announces it will insist on respecting the integrity of the Ukraine.

Translation : The Ukrainian majority that does not want to break relations with Russia will be forced to break them. This is very, very likely to lead to a civil war - in which the US will continue to (illegally) interfere.

And what will Russia do?  Ukraine is of central importance to Russia's defence. That is why it maintains important naval and military bases there.

Russia could do what Kennedy did in 1960, intervene with force to stop what is really a takeover of Ukraine by the US and the European Union. I mean, if Kennedy could intervene in 1960, then surely Russia has an even stronger right in 2014.

But there's a catch, and it's the same one as in 1960.

Putin may decide that he has to put up a military resistance - of face a rapid decline in Russia's standing in the world. He might also decide that if the US takes the Ukraine, the game is over - so he might as well go nuclear now because there won't be another chance.

It's similar for the US. It is an empire in rapid decline. The American economy is a disaster due to widespread corruption that our news media rarely mention. It depends on being able to borrow money just to pay the interest on its debt. And the debt is so huge it can never be paid.

Obama may well have decided that it's now or never to use nuclear weapons.

It is not possible for either country (or any country) to gain from the horror that would follow.

On this side, it's traditional to praise Kennedy for getting tough in the 1960 crisis. In fact, it was extremely foolish. We can only hope that neither Putin nor Obama will be so foolish this time.

Oh - and I didn't mention that China might easily feel  threatened if Obama wins this round - because it would leave China as the only major power left for the US to deal with. So we might have a third leader who could decides it's now or never to use those nuclear weapons.

And we won't even think of what might happen if Ukraine slips into civil war as the US insists on its "integrity".

Alec Bruce discusses the middle class, and how, according to an internal report of the Conservative party. it is disappearing, getting less and less - and the rich are getting much richer.

That was countered by a report from the MacDonald-Laurier Insitute in Ottawa which uses the same statistics to show the Canadian middle class is rolling in good times - but the rich are suffering. (The MacDonald-Laurier Institute, like our own Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, is a propaganda house for the wealthy. It was created by the wealthy, is run by the wealthy, and gets itself regularly quoted just as if it were honest.) This story appeared in The Financial Post - which is proof, for any who doubted it, that the rot reaches pretty high in the Canadian world of journalism. The Post doesn't say a word about the big business connections of the institute or its role as a propaganda front.

C1 has a result in the middle, using the same statistics, in the story "Canadian families are worth more but owe more."

That's the nice thing about statistics. If  you torture them enough, they'll say whatever you want them to say.

And now - the heart-warming story of the day. 9The Tand T missed it.0

ExxonMobil is the leading US producer of gas found by fracking. The CEO of ExxonMobil is now in court to stop fracking anywhere near his house. He says it will reduce his property value.

I'm taking up a collection for him. So send me your cheques (cash is also acceptable.)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Feb. 24:; As section A dropped at last from my numbed fingers,......

.....I had to face the fact that there is nothing to say about it - because there was nothing in it in the first place. Well, there were the usual bits of courthouse news about cases being postponed or set forward, the usual light-hearted stuff about some group that has fun doing something. But there was little that really mattered about anything.

In desperation, I turned to the sports section. Nothing much there, either. There was a whole page of statistics of games all over North America - of teams and individuals that most people have never even seen nor ever will.

The top of p. 7 in Sports features a  pretentious and empty-headed story about the real, deep-down meaning, like, you know?, of the Olympics. Then it babbles about the 'totality' of being Canadian - whatever that means. This is real 1960s New Age stuff.

Then came NewsToday. Here, at last, was something to talk about, an example of how to slant the news. The headline is "Middle class faces challenges".

Now, that's not quite what the news story under it says.

It's about a report put out by a small group in the federal government. But the Harperites are not pleased with the report because it questions the happy picture of the economic future that the Conservative party has been painting.

It says there is no future for the middle class in Canada. The wage gap, the massive proportion of our wealthy going to a very tiny group means that the middle class can expect a bleak future - if any future at all.

At no point does the report say the middle class faces a challenge. Nor should it. That would be like saying to be hit by a loaded trailer-truck would be a challenge. It's not a challenge. It's a disaster with severe implications for the rest of society.

Now, the headline on a story is written by the editor for that page. Why would he use the word 'challenge' when the more accurate headline might better be "middle class faces economic collapse'?

Well, that's because the editor wants to play down this story. His boss, after all, is one of the few who has caused the wage gap, and who benefits from it. It's a frightening situation. But challenging is not a frightening world and, anyway, most readers look at only the headline

And it's not lying.  Not really. Oh, maybe just a little bit.....

At the bottom of the page is "Ukraine issues arrest warrant for president." And he was corrupt. Of course. Not at all like Tony Blair of Britain who came to office a relatively poor man, and who now has his own thirty million dollar airplane. Not like George Bush who retired an extremely wealthy man despite having had only two regular jobs in his life - and each for only a short term.

There is no mention that the protesters have been getting some very serious money from the US to protest. There is no mention of it even though an official in the US government has publicly admitted it.

The Ukrainian economy, we are told, has been ruined by corruption. Hey! Look around.  Seen the American economy lately? And how come the US has some people are getting very, very rich as the rest of the economy disappears?

Oh, note the photo of two protesters on C3. The caption says "Activists pose for photo."Notice that word "activists". Where have we seen it before?

Oh - Syria. The "rebels" there are always called activists. Why? I mean, surely in these situations, everybody on both sides is an activist. So why use the world activist only for the side we favour?

Because activist is a nice word. It's a gentle word. Rebel, now,suggests disorder. Rioter is bad, too. So we don't want to say rebel or rioter.

If you read that story, you can have no doubt who the good guys and the bad guys are. It's written that way. The reality is we have no idea what he 'activists' stand for. And we are not being given any information on the motives of the US and the European Union. We are not told about the money given by the US to the activists. We are not told about US plans to turn Ukraine into a base for nuclear attack on Russia.

It's true that Vladimir Putin is a cold and murderous man. But he's well behind in the murderous records left by Bush and Obama.

This news story is really propaganda. It looks like news. But it's propaganda. And this sort of propaganda has come to be typical of newspapers all over the world including (maybe especially) North American newspapers.

Alec Bruce has another column which, like so many in this paper, is focussed on money.

"We should own the podium", he says in many areas of economic development.

Again, I'd like to see a clearer sense the reason for owning the podium.I'd like to see some sense of what government is for, and where the needs of a society fit into all this.

Bruce also wonders why we don't lead the world in he development of solar energy, wind energy, etc.

I think it's surely obvious why we don't. Our local oil barons don't want to see that kind of development cutting into their profits. And, if they don't want it, it's a sure bet that Harper and Alward don't want it. (In fact, Harper has quite deliberately destroyed most of the work we were doing in those fields.)
Some years ago, when I was new to Moncton, I read a series of TandT editorials that were ignorant and abusive towards our education system.  Then Norbert retired as editor, and I began to read his new column. His style left no doubt about it. Norbert was the author of those editorials.

That's why I have no hesitation in being abusive of Norbert.

Today, he's back on education; and he has decided "most of the N.B. School day just a massive waste of time."

Of course, Norbert knows nothing whatever about education. But he has no hesitation in publicly slandering thousands of teachers who have trained and worked as teachers for many years.

But he does have three (anonymous sources) Two are adults who are not teachers, but know somebody who is. The third is a smart kid descended of one of the above, who seems now to have graduated from being a smart kid to being a smart alec.

Norbert says he accepts these people as authorities because he judges them credible. It's also consistent with his experience. (What experience, you twit?) Then he comes to an asinine conclusion. He says, "The evidence is strong enough to warrant thorough study with a view to reforming our schools."

Right. He knows two adults (who have no training and have never taught)  and one student who agree with him. Therefore, we must revolutionize the system.

It gets dumber.

"The last word", his closing quotation, is from - wait for it - Bill Cosby.

Norbert - I know Cosby played a phys ed teacher on a TV show. And I know he has strong opinions on education. But, Norbert, he has never trained in education. And he has never really taught. And Cosby knows even less that Norbert does about educaton in Canada. (He actually lives in the US, Norbert.)

This is a stunningly ignorant and abusive column. But maybe I can guess a reason for it.

At the time of his last, big series on education, his boss (in cooperation with buddies at Atlantic Institute for Market Studies) was anxious to get a foot into the education system so they could use it to make make for themselves. We have recently seen the half-wit introduction of a massive course on entrepreneurship in some schools. Are we in for another round of his boss sticking his nose in where it has no business?

Oh, I know how hard it is to do your job, Norbert. I mean it's almost impossible  to spend so much time kissing rear ends, and at the same time looking graceful.

On op ed, Alan Cochrane gives us yet another installment of how long it is taking  him to grow up.

Louise Gilbert's column is  disappointing. She has close connections to the mayor and city council.  And, oh my, it shows. This isn't a opinion column at all. It's a gushy advertisement.

There are some very good letters to the editor on the royal family, the "wealth gap", on the money we give away to Bell Aliant,  on the CBC, and on passenger rail.

In fact, today's letters to the editor are the only part of TandT worth reading.

Oh, and the editorial cartoon is pretty good.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Feb. 24: Where to begin?

Yesterday, I wrote that a government is not essentially a fund-raising organization. It is an institution we have created to serve our human needs as members of a society.

Today, both Norbert and Alec Bruce write about government as a fund-raising organization. Alec Bruce give us some highly doubtful figures on the financial benefits of an events  centre. He gives no idea of who the profits, if any, would benefit. Apparently, just having the money pass through into the pockets of the rich is enough to solve all our problems.

He also has a highly fanciful view of how most people of Moncton live. Relatively few live "In our capacious suburban homes where we park our cars and RVs...."

Norbert is his usual arrogant and ignorant self. He says we should not listen to stories of conspiracies. That is immature, he says, because real conspiracies are rare.Norbert - conspiracy is one of the commonest forms of human behaviour.

In fact, Norbert, you are a man who has built his life on conspiracy. You work for a paper that is a conspiracy to make people think what the boss wants them to think. That's why this is a column devoted to big sounding but brainless phrases. It discourages thinking.

Norbert says "We no longer live in a world in which governments can afford our every wish." Hey, el stupido,, just when was that golden age in which government gave us whatever we wished?

Funny thing, too, the rich can always get what they wish from government. Across Canada big business profits are at record highs. There has never been so much money around. But we get damn little of it. That's because most of its goes to your buddies, Norbert.

The US is even worse with millions homeless, hungry, in despair, a hundred million without jobs, whole cities facing bankruptcy and skyrocketing crime - can big cuts in food stamps so the government can afford to pay corrupt contracts to to the defence industry, and can afford drones to kill innocent people all over the world.

The US is not going to get better. And, according to a report from the Conservative party (which the Irving press hasn't published). there is no future for the middle class in Canada - even as the rich go from rich to super rich to hyper-rich. It doesn't matter how productive we are. /All the benefit goes to the rich.

And it must have happened entirely by accident because, as Rupert assures us, there is no such thing as conspiracies.

As always, Norbert ends with an inspiring but brainless quotation. "The great day in your life and mine is when we take full responsibility for our attitudes." Sounds good. Makes no sense at all. We are the products of where and how we grew up.

A very rich person can be arrogant and self-centred. It's just natural that when you have too much you  see yourself as entitled. That rich person can very likely be contemptuous of the poor because seeing them as unworthy helps to justify the wealth of the rich. The poor will often accept that because they have no power. We all have attitudes that are heavily influenced by where and how we grew up.

This column is full of statements that sound good, but are mostly pure nonsense and mindless.

Section A is a wipe-out except for the  important, page one news that Canada won the gold in hockey. Wonderful. The hungry will be fed. The homeless will sleep in a bed. The millions of dead in wars over the last fifty years will rise again.

As I wrote earlier, there is not a word of the report of a Conservative Party committee that Canada as a land of opportunity is a myth. The middle class is going to get squeezed more, much more. There will be very little class mobility - except downwards. Particularly hurt will be the small retailers (sorry, entrepreneurs). You know, these are the ones that our provincial government tells us are the future of New Brunswick. These are the ones for whom a school board has recently created a whole new, 13 year programme for the careers of the future. We can make room for it by cutting down on useless courses - like reading.

No school board, in the first place, should have allowed a business group to take over a section of the school day. Nor, frankly, is there that much to teach. This course will be what it was obviously intended to be - a propaganda course. And there can be nothing but contempt for any education minister and department that would allow such a gross interference with the school day.

There is nothing in the paper that mentions the very serious implications of events in Syria and Ukraine - even though the story has been public for some 15 years.

A small but influential group of very right wing conservatives in the US formed a study group called Project for the New American Century. (It's on Google.)

It decided that the US had to establish "world dominance". (It used to be called world conquest. But everybody knew that sounded crazy. Project for New American Century sounded more  -  benevolent.

In order to establish world dominance, it was deemed, for strategic and economic reasons, that some countries had to be destroyed. That means really destroyed, each cut up to make them all very tiny and helpless countries. (This was revealed by General Wesley Clark in his memoirs.)

9/11 was the excuse for war, the ideal moment to stir up fear and anger. That's why the US attacked Iraq - though there has never been even a hint that Iraq had anything to do 9/11. But Iraq had to be destroyed. The method has been to break the country up. It now has three parts, separate from each other, and will  almost certainly decay further

Afghanistan was on the list. It looks as though it will divide into two parts with constant chaos.

Libya was on the list, too. That's why Canada bombed it. It now has no functioning government at all.

That's why the US has been paying al quaeda to fight in Syria - to break the country into anything from 3 to 16 helpless parts.

Ukraine, of high strategic value to Russia, is targeted for division into at least three countries - with at least one of them to serve as a base for US nuclear bombs aimed at Russia. The section of Ukraine which will break off and join the European Union might be doubly interesting. It has a long Nazi tradition.

Sudan is on the list for destruction, too. Thus the frequent use of drones and assassination squads.

And then there's Iran.

In all cases, the purpose is not to conquer these countries. The purpose is to break them up into so many small and poor states that they will be not able to get in the way of US profit-making.

Of course, there's no plotting or conspiracies in any of this. We know that because Norbert said so.

In the "ain't no conspiracies field", we  have a story from the Bayer company.

All over the world, there is a mass die-off of bees. That has pretty serious consequences for the world food supply. A European Commission has found that they are dying because of a pesticide made by Bayer. So the European governments will be banning the pesticide.

Bayer, thinking only of the good of the people, is suing governments over the ban.

And there's Nestle - which doesn't only make chocolate bars It's also big in pharmaceuticals.

Now, there's a common flower called fennel which has been used for a thousand years as a medicine, often to good effect. It has been particularly important in the third world where millions have no other affordable source  of medicine.

Nestle announced that it owns the formula, and those who need it must now buy it from Nestle - at a hefty price.

(Please don't say those nice, drug companies heed the money to pay for the research they do. In fact, they do little research.More of it is done by universities with research funding that the drug companies get from government.

They also concentrate on drugs they can get high prices for. That's why the poor of this world don't get anything close to t he medication they need.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Feb. 23: S0 - where are we going?

Government is a social institution, not a financial one. It's first responsibility is to the society that elects it. Yes, you need money to do that. But the starting point is not the money; it's the needs of humans as individuals and as members of a society.

But we don't do it that way. Most of our politicians follow the "business model" - searching for ways to make money. It makes sense for business to operate that way because it's only purpose is to make money. It doesn't exist to create prosperity or give people equal opportunity or to care for the helpless.

And when you start with making money as your objective, it becomes your only objective. Instead of ensuring that all have access to decent housing and adequate food and equal education opportunity, our politicians plan for a hockey rink first on the theory it will produce the needed money.

It almost certainly won't. What it will do do is to make a lot of money for a few people who already have a lot of money, and some short term jobs for a small number of the rest.

And in hard times when a great many are suffering, then politicians often flutter around the rich to make sure they make lots and lots money because when they makes lots and lots of money, so it's said, it filters down to the rest of us.

Actually, it doesn't. It never has. It's not doing it now. You just have to look around you to see that.

Historically, big business has made its money by making others poor, not rich. For almost a century, the British forced China to make the sale of opium legal. and it set a minimum sales target for each year. If the Chinese sold less than the target, they had to pay the full sum for the year to Britain, anyway.

The opium was grown and processed on land and cheap labour that the British has stolen from India.
Result - the Chinese were made poor, the Indians were made poor. And most of the British were made poor.

To the present day, Britain was lovely place for those country estates in the summer, and sumptuous town houses in London for the social season. It was bloody awful for most others.

My grandmother grew up in The Gorbals in Glasgow, Scotland, then rated the vilest slum in Europe - and the most dangerous. Tiny, crowded, and badly  built apartment buildings commonly had no plumbing. There might be on bathroom, on the ground floor, intended to serve the 50 or so people in the building.

Whatever soil there was consisted of bare earth littered with garbage and human feces. In fact, backyard outhouses were common features of some British cities until well after World War Two.

Nor was Britain the only one. Though our very selective history books hail Canada and the US as lands of prosperity and opportunity, our history of slums and filth and hunger is little better than Britain's. Though I came for a very poor district of Montreal, we were raised to look down on those (heavily Irish) who lived in the appalling conditions of Griffintown, St.-Henri, and other districts. And that was true well through the 1950s.

The one period of a more widely shared prosperity in Canada and the US was the period of World War Two into the 1960s. And that had nothing to do with business. It has to do with a war that forced politicians to listen to what their people needed, and with a government that realized it had to regulate business to prevent its abuses.

But that was undone by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher who turned business loose to do what it wanted  And business did very, very well - but only for itself. Indeed, when the lack of regulation enabled banks in the US and Britain to break the law and drive themselves bankrupt, it was the people who to pay - and to give those greedy scoundrels bonuses for it.

Free trade completed the damage. Big business is now free to impoverish, exploit, beat up, even murder whoever it wishes to. There are no restraints, no controls. That's why Canadian mining companies are free to hire thugs to control their miserably paid and miserably treated workers in Latin America. That may also be why our army has special operations units that we never hear about. (They report only the the prime minister. Democracy in Action.)

Big business now has ideal conditions. It pays almost no taxes. It has few regulations. Governments have no control over it. Indeed, big business is the government. Under free trade, it does not belong in any sense to any nation. It has no responsibility to any people. And we pay for its wars; and we do its killing for it.

Oh, and we also give it huge sums of money to encourage it to stay and take more from us.

So, when will these hard times end? They won't. The US economy is not going to recover. There is nothing in the US to recover. In any case, the US debt, bloated by the corruption of gifts to big business, is so big the US dollar is almost certainly doomed.

But why should big business care? It is doing very, very well. It now has free access to the world without any control or restrictions.

And, in Canada, it has both the Liberals and Conservatives nicely in harness.

Neither a conservative nor a liberal government will do anything for us. Anything given to us is something taken away from big business - and that's not going to happen with either of those parties.

Nor will anything happen by reforming The Senate or fiddling with the rules for provincial governments. We need to get our own province and our own country back. We gave to elect a government that will govern from us. And we have to do it soon. The rest of the world is not going to be as patient as us with destructive business raging out of control.

And any such reaction is likely to take the form of another sellout like fascism. (financed by big business). We need a government that will focus on our own people and what we need to be a society.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Feb.22: Wow! Wow!Wow!

A1. Big photo. "Roughly" a hundred community-minded citizens showed up at city hall to see what our new downtown will look like. Gee Whillikers. That means only a hundred and sixty thousand or so metro citizens stayed home. But they probably aren't community-minded.

And they have no idea what they missed. The hundred in attendance got to wear hard hats, and pretend to be construction workers, and look at pictures. One of the councillors wisely observed, "It's good to keep the momentum going."

Damn right. A hundred people in hard hats looking at pictures - now that's what I call momentum.

Who is behind this? Damned if I know. Just weeks ago, we had a super-committee chaired by an Irving that had a big meeting to brainstorm a new city plan. (Brainstorming. That's the only way to think. Michelangelo would have been really good if he had brainstormed with entrepreneurs at a Moncton hotel before messing up all those statues and paintings he did.)  Anyway, we never got a report from that other group. It just appeared and disappeared.

Or did it disappear? Is this essentially he same gang?

But this is for the good of the  "broader community" - the ones. who showed up to wear hard plastic hats.

Two corporate citizens - (what the hell is a corporate citizen? People are citizens. Corporations are not citizens Just people are. This is the kind of gobbledygook corporate bosses like to talk when they're looking for a way to poke in their noses where they have no business.) - anyway, two of these gobbledygooks, according to our mayor, should be involved in the process because they own the land.

Other "stakeholders" will be invited to take part. Can we cut the jargon? A stakeholder has nothing to do with holding stakes - except in a poker game. In this case, it means people who can make some easy money out of the rest of us..

Translation, they stand to make a bundle out of land that is now useless to them.

Oh, and it will help us to interact with the river. Nothing I enjoy more than interacting with a river. - though it seems to me we already have a lot of public space for that.

Then, speaking in pure, adolescent gush, the reporter writer writes that is is all to celebrate the city'anniversary."----but it could be so much more." gush, gush.

Yes, that's right. The story was written by Brent Mazerolle, the man they turn to for propaganda stories boosting the causes of those who find favour with the Irving press.

This is far the best story in Section A. So you can imagine what the rest are like.

In NewsToday, Liberal leader Gallant wants to wait for two, crucial reports on the safety of shale gas before going. ahead on   it. One report is from Environment Canada, the other from the US Environmental Research Agency.

Craig Leonard, our own fierce guardian of the environment says we can't wait. We would lose a couple of years of investment- and the companies would just go away...

Mr. Leonard, the problem of this province is not lack of investment. It's the lack of rich people paying taxes. And its the presence of rich people with their hands always stuck out for more.

And the rich will just go away.? Gee, Mr. Leonard, you gave us the impression that shale gas was a long-term proposition, the fuel of the future.. Now, you're saying that waiting a year and half to make sure it's safe would be a disaster?

OK. Let's try it. And if it turns out to have been unsafe and some people will die, what the hell... everybody dies some day.

There's a story on Ukraine - again with no hint of what this is really all about, and no hint of the American role and its purpose.

The US is very concerned about the bloodshed - some 75 people so far. Actually, more than 75 Americans die every day from guns. Since 1950, the US has killed well ten million  people all over the world. . Oh, but they're terribly worried about those Ukrainians.

And the European Union members who are so concerned for humanitarian reasons? Well, for centuries, Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Italy have been no slouches in killing.

And the US has imposed sanctions on Ukraine. Imposing sanctions is an act of war. It really is. Under international law, you have to declare war to impose sanctions - and you have to show the war is, itself, legal. But Britain, France, and the US have never bothered with the details. They just go ahead and impose them. They don't give a damn about declaring war. And they don't give a damn about the international agreements they signed. And they don't give a damn about the law.

Watch for Harper to self-righteously suck up on this one. It's a matter of votes.

Ukrainian immigrants coming to Canada before World war one, and even in the 1920s and 30s were pro-Russian. Those who came after World War Two are anti-Russian. And those after World War Two are mostly still alive and voting. So Harper will be on their side.

B5 has a story on rioting in Venezuela. It's the usual heavily-biased stuff in which the Venezuelan government is evil (socialist). and it focusses on the emotional story of a beauty queen who was killed.

There is not a word of mention that the US government has wanted to displace the Venezuela government for years, and has been working to achieve that.  (Venezuela has lots of nice oil that really should be owned by Christian American billionaires.)

The death toll? Eight people have been killed in the last nine days. That's less than one a day. US police kill far more than that every day.

Be very, very careful about trusting any news source.

Oh, and is it terrible for Venezuela to expel reporters? No. Most countries will do that under the right circumstances. Reporters (like the Irving ones) are notorious for slanted stories that become a part of government propaganda machinery. CNN is the one mentioned here. And rightly so. When it comes to lying and twisting, CNN outclasses even the Irving press.

The editorial page is just silly. (Good cartoon, though).

The editorial looks like a pre-election booster for Harper. It seems Peter Mackay is throwing  his weight behind a move to save the Garrison Gymn. And he is joined by what's-his-name Goguen.

Come off it. Neither of them has any weight. These are gofers. And neither would dare to make such a comment without Harper's approval.

The good news is that means the gymn in probably saved.

The bad news? I'm not sure it's a good idea to reduce our military presence. Under the Conservatives, the Canadian military lack any clear function - or any capacity to do much of anything.

Norbert, as commonly, writes on several topics with impressive-sounding sentences that don't mean a damn thing. His most brilliant statement is "We must find the will and the right attitude."

Brilliant. That's so much better than losing the will, and having the wrong attitude. I suspect a windy Norbert could just possibly solve our renewable energy problem.

Bill Belliveau follow the Irving press line - telling us how to solve our economic problem without ever mentioning what causes it. Bill - we have people who take massive sums of money from our government, who don't pay taxes, who ship their profits into untraceable bank accounts, and who, with their friends all over the western world, have created what may well be the biggest financial crisis we have ever seen.

And nobody in this paper ever mentions them.

I have no idea what the point of Brent Mazerolle's column can be. He sees himself as a role model. Well, in a way, I suppose he is. And he says role models are good. Well, sometimes they are; and sometimes they're very bad, indeed.

Mr.Mazerolle is not clear on what makes him a good role model. Is it his integrity? his determination to get the truth? his courageous defiance of those who have power? Tell us more.

Gwynne Dyer's column on Ukraine is good and, I think, right - I see no bias in it, no emotionalism. But he doesn't mention the European Untion and US motive in their roles - or the consequences this could have.
For devout Christians, I recommend the pancake meals at St. John's United, and Trinity Anglican as the most reasonably priced. Steves Memorial United Church is cheap, too. But you have to listen to local talent. Best of all is First North River church which is offering pancakes, beans, sausage and potato scallop for only a free will offering. However, make sure to bring change. Otherwise, you will be guilt-tripped into laying out paper money.

Everything in the student column section of "whatever" is good. But my favourite for the day was Sabrina Stacey's charming story about St. Valentine's day. I loved it

My school memories of Valentine's day are not good ones. The class exchanged Valentines they had posted in a big box. (This  was elementary school). Some teacher's favourite would pull them out, one at at time, and call out the name of the loved one.

Most of the time, the loved boy was Terry Brown. Lord, how I hated him. I would sit there, tense, as each name was called.
"Terry Brown"......."Terry Brown"....

There I would sit quivering in anger and humiliation. Then, at last...."Graeme Decarie'

I got up, heart aquiver, and strolled over to pick up the envelope. Back at my seat,  I opened it.

"Roses are read.
Violets are blue.
Skunks stink.
And so do you."

It was signed by Carol Roberts, the prettiest girl in the class.

"Terry Brown"
He got up, opened the envelope, looked at it, then looked at Carol, and smiled.

And she smiled back.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Feb. 21: "New Downtown Planned today."

That's the banner headline on p. A1. And it's so exciting, - well - it's just going to change everything. The whole world will come to Moncton downtown because, well, just because. But, like so many other things in this province, the story does not mention whose plan this is.

It mentions one architect. But architects don't usually work out the idea of having such a development. That's usually up to some representative body. What is this anonymous body which has decided we need an expensive remake of downtown?

Frankly, this deal, like the events centre smells.

Mind you, the Irving press is sure to support it all the way because, almost certainly, one of the insiders is the one who's behind this, and plans to make some big money out of it.

Anyway, the Irving press is sure to call it a great success, no matter what. Remember December of 2012 when the TandT had a banner headline about how successful Main St. parking was? And how the stores on Main were just jammed with Christmas shoppers?

Like hell they were. I walked along Main after reading that story. It was dullsville.

There's another story on p. 2 about the shale protest of last summer and fall. That's three, long stories about the shale gas protest where nobody was killed. How many stories have you seen about the RCMP raid on Irving Oil headquarters in connection with the deaths of 47 people?

And that's pretty well all there is worth talking about in secion A. But in section C, "News Today"___________________________________________________________________

I have never seen a paper whose reporting could spread so much ignorance.

C1 has a big story that Liberal leader Gallant is about to present bills to cut down on government power to influence elections - like making it illegal for government to do partisan advertising. There's another one requiring elected MLAs to report the names of any relatives they have working for the government.

Alward says,  "There's nothing to it, other than posturing." And Alward is right. But then, Alward is a man whose whole political life has been a posture. So he know what's he's talking about.

Even if Gallant's bills pass, they won't make the slightest change in the province. We are facing an alarming wage gap that is spreading poverty. We have corporations that won't pay taxes - and that still ask for million in favours. Financially, we are being bled to death - and not slowly.

That's our problem. Mr. Gallant's proposal doesn't even mention the real problem, and it certainly isn't how many relatives we have working for the government. As for Mr.  Irving and friends, you can report relatives working for the government until you turn blue, and you can include your mother-in-law. It doesn't bother them. They have the whole damn government working for them.

Then there's the foreign news.

A daily news paper should have at least one editor who has expertise in foreign news. That person should also know what news sources are reliable. And, certainly, a whole newspaper chain should have at least one such person.

Obviously, Irving news doesn't.Any dolt will do for news editor in their book. It's obvious every day that the foreign news is put together by an editor who is largely ignorant of what is happening, knows only the standard sources (which are usually misleading and, often, lying.) And has no idea of the background of any of the stories. In short, foreign news in the Irving press is almost always ignorant, misleading, lazy, and sloppy.

On C1, read "Scores killed in Ukraine protests". Read it.

Now, tell me. Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?

Obviously, the Ukraine government is bad, and the protesters are good. That's why the story reports "shocking scenes of protesters being cut down by gunfire". (The estimate of the dead was 75).

And the protesters are dying, we are told for freedom.

When a quarter million Guatemalans, right down to babies, were slaughtered by government troops with CIA guidance, I cannot recall a single Canadians newspaper that reported it at all. Where were the shocking scenes when American troops killed over a million in Iraq? - mostly innocent civilians.

US drones have killed thousands of innocent civilians.

So where are the good guys/bad guys reports about that?

And it gets worse.

It was exactly 11 days ago that Victoria Muland (Assistant Secretary of State to John Kerry) announced - to a press dinner, no less - that her office had given 5 billion dollars for the "protesters" in Ukraine.

I didn't see that story in the TandT. Did you?

And obviously no editor in the Irving media every heard of it - though there are over a hundred citations of it in Google.

The reason, she said, was to give the Ukrainian people the future they deserve. Right. The future the Guatemalans deserved - and the Iraqis - and the Afghanis - and the victims of drones over Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia -  mass slaughter.

And the US gave away 5 billion out of pure charity at the same time it cut more than 5 billion dollars out of its food stamp programme, leaving its own people to starve.

This story is pure propaganda, selected by an editor who is too ignorant or too lazy or too unethical to care. And that's true of almost all the foreign reporting in this paper. Column 2 paragraph four is a paragraph written for pure  emotion and sympathy. This is propaganda. Any editor worthy of the name would have caught that, and would have refused to publish the story.

Just suppose a native woman, a protester,  had been shot in the throat by police - a duplicate of the case reported above?. Would the Irving press have published something to make you weep for her, and to hate the police?

(And yesterday, we got our own Harper denouncing the Ukraine government for its use of force. Funny, I can't ever recall a criticism from him about Americans and British - and a few others _ who have been slaughtering people by the million.

Whaddya think, Stevie? Gonna give hell to Alward for sending police armed with live ammunition, pistols and combat rifles against native peoples in a situation that could easily have gone out of control?

No. I didn't think so.

And don't' tell me the US is doing all this to help Ukraine win more democracy. You send me a list of all the countries the US has brought democracy to. And I'll send you a list of the real democracies it has destroyed to replace them with sock puppet democracies or stunningly brutal dictatorships.
Hint - you won't need much paper for your list.

The story on the Ukraine is pure and deliberate propaganda. The US, with the help of the European Union has been trying to start a civil war in Ukraine. For trade purposes, it wants Ukraine to be a part of the European Union. Strategically, it wants Ukraine as a base for nuclear weapons to be aimed at Russia.

The risk? Well, this threatens Russia and China, both of them nuclear armed. Both of them, too, know that the US is going for world domination. The US said so publicly on the web. Their document, Project for the New American Century, is still there. (though it is not likely that any journalist from the Irving press has ever read it.)

What we're looking at has nothing to do with good and guys and bad guys. What we're looking at is one hell of a scary confrontation that could, literally, blow up at any moment.

Once again, the editorial and op ed pages ignore the only real issues in the coming election campaign.
1. Our politicians are puppets. New Brunswick is really governed by a small selection of corporations - which run it without the slightest regard for the needs of those who live here. Ukraine doesn't have freedom? Who are we to accuse anybody of not having freedom?
2. Corporations and the wealthy refuse to share the load of taxation.
3. Despite 2., corporations are a constant drain on our budget.

Just a parting thought regarding freedom and democracy.

The US has a president who has given himself authority to execute American s(and anybody else) simply on his own decision.
\He can can also go to war without debate or consent. That's why the US hasn't bothered to declare war since 1941. That's why US special ops are busy killing in a hundred countries - and it's not even reported.

Similarly, Canada has special ops which are certainly killing alongside their American colleagues. We don't know that for certain because Harper has given himself the power to limit special ops reporting to himself.

That's war - which we are supposed to declare. Us and our elected representatives. Not Harper.  Listen to the speeches on Nov. 11. That principle, we are told, is something Canadians died for.

Britain is thoroughly caught up in all the above.

As for elections, American and Canadian ones are controlled by big money. The last Canadian election was probably the most dishonest one we have seen in a century - but Harper is pushing a bill though to make it almost impossible to check illegal behaviour in future..

And we read a weepy news story about how that awful Ukraine government isn't as democratic as it should be.

Amazing how we can fool ourselves.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Feb. 20: Interesting stories on A2

There are two stories on that page that use up almost all of the page. The stories speculate that native people from Nova Scotia may have been the leaders  on the days of the disorders in the shale gas protest that saw 6 police vehicles torched. Both stories are full of speculation about that.Now....

This summer RCMP got warrants to search the offices of Irving Oil, shortly after the Lac Megantic disaster. Do you remember seeing any news stories speculating about that?

In fact, did you ever hear any report about that at all - what the police were after? or what they found?

And, apparently, somebody (not identified but wink-wink-nudge-nudge we know who) had three rifles in his car, one with (gasp) a bayonet. And two, vicious hunting knives, and over 400 rounds of ammunition.   Now, there was a clear and present danger for police force of only a bit over a hundred with perhaps a couple of hundred guns, many of them combat rifles.

This is probably the incident Alward referred to when we restored peace and security to the situation by announcing "it was an armed camp."

When they invaded the Irving head office, did they search any Irving cars for guns?

No, I don't intend to justify either side in this - just pointing out that the law and newspaper reporting are supposed to give equal treatment to people, regardless of social status.

Oh, the headline on the second story is also false. "Court document reveals outside element in October riot" If you read the the story, you'll find that no court documents reveal any such thing. What it reveals is that police suspected outside elements

To say that court documents revealed the outside element is sloppy reporting and sloppy editing.

Dr. Cleary, on p. 1 of NewsToday , turned down an invitation to the join the NB Energy Institute. Her tone is gentle and reasonable. But no other decision was possible. The government ignored Dr. Cleary's original report,  the Irving press contributed to distorting it and dismissing it, then in supporting Dr. Lapierre even after it was discovered he had no qualifications.

And Mr. Alward, on an almost daily basis, publicly declares that he is committed to shale gas.
Well, then, what's the point of having an NB Energy Institute?

The government and the Irvng press have a long record of misrepresenting, lying, distorting, hiding facts - and abusing the public interest with what they like to call independent study groups.

Dr. Cleary would have to be a fool to join forces with such a gang.

And she is no fool.
The same page also has the story that Canada decries Ukraine violence, and is critical of riot police for using live ammunition.

Well, gee-golly, weren't our riot police equipped with live ammunition for the shale gas protest?
The US, every days, sends drones to shoot live ammunition, mostly at innocent people, killing thousands.

And Obama condemns the violence? The same Obama who has killed Afghanis by the tens of thousands for no clear reason? the same Obama who operates torture prisons around the world? the same Obama who has special ops (terrorists) operating in at least a hundred countries?

What's it all about? The US wants Ukraine in the western camp so that the US can use it as a base for nuclear missiles close to Russia.
Of course, when Russia tried to do that using Cuba a a base to threaten the US, that was evil - and it brought the world close to nuclear war.

So could this.

The editorial is bizarre. It begins with the upgrade for the Capitol Theatre then, predictably, says the upgrade to the Capitol now makes it necessary to build the hockey rink - sorry, events centre.

Then, it says, we need a statue outside the Capitol because a statue would draw people downtown.

I"m afraid I can't think of a punchline for a statement as dumb as that.

In fact, we have a sztatue downtown, and a very fine one outside the library. It's the one of Northrop Frye seated on a bench. It's a superb piece of work. But I can't say I've ever had to fight through a mob to get past it.

Norbert has another uninformed column which will appeal to readers who like the grand sweep of his pronouncements and name-calling.  But this is just ignorance deluxe - with an ignorance of how schools teach today, and have been teaching for some time.

He writes about things that sound like great idea to someone who has never taught.

He says we could skip schools for students who aren't bright, and just put them in an apprenticeship   system.

You mindless twit, Norbert. A system like that would condemn virtually all the poor who often do poorly because of their social background/ And Norbert would condemn them to stay there.

Meanwhile, the 'gifted' kids would be the rich ones because their social background makes school an important part of their lives. Very often, they aren't 'gifted' at all - but they breeze through to become MBAs to be added to the moronic political and economic leadership we suffer from.

Believe it or not, Norbert, there are poor kids, lots of them who have real brains. And you would just toss them away.  You're thinking about education belongs, at best, to the early nineteenth century.

Incidentally, those who have learned trades and now live by them may not be flattered by your judgement that they aren't very bright. I have met more than a few of them who would leave you in the shade.

Alec Bruce's column is - an off day.

1. Shale gas is not a cleaner from of fuel that will tide us across until we develop some renewable form of energy. - for two reasons.
a) Even if it is slighter cleaner, the use of energy is rising all over the world. So we still get closer to the day when climate change cannot be reversed.
b)Most government (and most notably Canada's government) have shown no interest whatever in developing renewable energy.
And they aren't going to as long as there's an oil and gas industry to pay them off.
2.Alec Bruce suggests we go ahead on shale gas by forming alliances that span party and ideological lines.  No, thanks.
We don't elect people in a democracy so they can all agree to like each other. I would not want anyone I voted for to become buddies with Harper or Alward.

 It think they're wrong. Getting them all to agree with each other won't make them right.

3. I think Mr. Bruce is quite wrong on the politics of what is happening. Alward and and Gallant do notdisagree with each other. Alward is committed to shale gas because big money wants it. Gallant is playing a game of standing in the middle, pretending do disagree, but in a way that gives him wiggle room after the election to decide it's prefectly safe.

On op ed, Rod Allen has a column on how much the people of St. Pierre and Miquelon are like maritimers. Thanks. I needed to know that.

Jody Dallaire's column is a useful one on getting understanding of government budgets. Her emphasis here is on women - but it has a broader usefulness.

One point she makes, for example, deals with child care. That is a serious problem in our society which depends heavily on women in the work force especially since those women are commonly low-paid.

But Canada has the worst and weakest funded child-care system in the developed world. And down the road, we'll pay a price for that.That's what happens when you allow billionaires to bleed nations dry, don't collect taxes from them, and let them shift all their money out of the country.

Then billionaires, through their puppet governments, say we can't afford social services, and make us pay by cutting funding for them.

This is not a passing problem It is a terminal one. In the US, as a result of these policies, 100 million Americans are unemployed. And food stamps for the masses of hungry have cut by billions so we can fight wars to make more profits for big business.

It's not appearing in the Irving press, but a  senior executive of J.P.Morgan trust has committed suicide by jumping out of his 30th floor office.

No big deal? Well, he's the sixth one in the last few weeks - all J.P.Morgan. It could be a coincidence, of course. But it's surely not likely.

Our world is being  run by very greedy and stupid people. Maybe a few have understood the devastation they have caused.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Feb.19: I was a little dozey yesterday, so I was to easy on one point, and actually missed another.

In yesterday's paper, Irving Oil graciously told us it was voluntarily upgrading the safety standards of all its rail tankers. Forty-seven people were killed by those rail cars. They were killed partly because the tanker cars weren't strong enough. Irving Oil is in the railway business. Is it so simple-minded it didn't know its tankers were vulnerable?

And now Irving Oil will voluntarily  upgrade its cars. Where the hell is the government? Shouldn't it have regulations on this - and shouldn't it be enforcing them? Forty-seven people were killed. Are we leaving it up to the goodness in the hearts of oil and rail bosses to look after it?

If I drive my car in a dangerous condition and kill forty two people with it, do I get to voluntarily fix it?

The RCMP got a warrant to search the head office of Irving Oil. How often have you even heard of the RCMP demanding such a search for such a big company?

So what was that all about? And why have we never heard the results of it?

For that matter, we still don't have a final report on Lac Megantic Forty-two people got killed.

Meanwhile, no rush. We'll keep using the old cars for almost another year. I wouldn't even be surprised if our government gave the Irvings some of our money to help upgrade their cars.

There's a very bad smell about this whole deal. Maybe they can get that clergyman they hire for the Irving chapel to explain the morality of it all to us.
Yesterday's p. A6 had a story "Climate change discussed"' And that's pretty much all there is to the story. We get no idea of what was said. just a few names of people who were there, what hotel it was held in, and how they all went to Shediac (I have no idea why).

And some editor said, "Wow! Stop the presses. We gotta run this story."

Nothing much in section A unless you really care that sports bars will open early if Team Canada makes it to a gold medal in hockey.

Well, there's also a story on page one that we're going to upgrade route 11. But there is a certain piquancy to the story's paragraph 4. It says estimates for the upgrade were a billion dollars. But the government can do it for half that.

Estimates of a billion were made by----who? Obviously not by the government. So that means they were made by private business. And that means what good economists have known for the best part of a century. Government is more efficient than private business. Read that, Norbert. Read, and think.
(I wonder which editor let that slip by).
Gallant, in NewsToday, accuses Alward of not being clear on why we have so many budget deficits. True. In fact, nobody in politics or the press seems to be clear on that. But the reason stares us in the face.

The rich pay little in the way of taxes, eat like pigs in a sty on government money, and pay each other huge sums for jobs that don't merit such pay. That is what has driven the western world into recession. Funny how the Irving Press never makes that obvious connection.

But somebody has to pay for the bonuses and the overseas bank accounts and the caviar. So the rich, having driven the poor to hunger and desparation, now demand that the poor be the ones to pay to balance the budget. That's why our hospitals are getting "reorganized". That's why schools have to sell things door to door to get essential equipment. That's why they have to charge fees to buy basic materials like office paper.

We have been driven back into the age of Ebenezer Scrooge. And that's no exaggeration. Debtor's prison has been reintroduced in the US. The gap between rich and poor is at least as great as it was in the time of Scrooge.

The greed and immorality of the rich is impoverishing us as it has long ago impoverished the people of Africa, much of Latin America, and of Asia.

Ultimately, it can only be destructive - even of big business itself. But greed can make people very, very stupid.

Shale gas and events centres are not going to make us rich. The very rich will take far the most of whatever we have. Mr. Irving should not be confused with the fairy godmother.

Take a look at today's editorial cartoon. It has a cabinet minister holding up hands which have scissors for fingers. Never, never, in the history of this province have those scissors been applied to the rich. You are the ones who take the cuts. And now you're getting cut so they can keep that wage gap growing. These are not leaders of any sort. These are grasping, amoral threats to the very survival of our society.____________________________________________________________

Norbert had a column on education that looks good, but actually says nothing at all. That's because Norbert doesn't know anything about education at all.

Alec Bruce has a clear column of simple truth about Harper's persecution of a Canadian general because he happens to be a Liberal.

The op ed page, with Eric Lewis and Brian Cormier, is the usual irrelevant and trivial stuff that will be enjoyed by the people who think Norbert's column in brilliant.

What's missing in the news?

Well, there's a story revealed by a recent book called Operation Paperclip. It tells how the US got Jesuits to smuggle a thousand Nazi scientists into Canada, and then to the US at the end of World War Two. Many of them were war criminals who had been close to Hitler's himself, and some had carried out grotesque experiments on living people in the death camps.

One of the scientists who was supposed to be included was Hitler's most notorious killer of Jews, Joseaph Mengele. But Mengele slipped off to South America.

Roosevelt thought the idea of bringing war criminal scientists was disgusting. But Roosevelt died. And President Truman always felt favourably inclined to things that were disgusting.

You can find the story and directions to get the book easily. Just google Operation Paperclip.

I knew Canada had special operations troops. But I didn't know what they did or where. Turns out I'm not alone in that.

Special ops are high trained troops used in relatively small groups for things like assassinations, spreading terror, that sort of thing. Okay, we sometimes need that. but....

Here in Canada (and in the US) we have no idea what they're doing. Unlike all other military, they do not report to Congress or to Parliament. They report only the the President or the Prime Minister.

In other words, Harper and Obama have their own, private armies. And they don't have to answer to anybody for how they use them. That is, for a start, contrary to both American and Canadian constitutional practice.

Worse, they are frequently used to stir up wars - as in Syria. And they are used to serve the interests of Canadian and American corporations. For example, a Canadian mine owner who has a mine in, say,Guatemala, that is troublesome because of complaints just has to drop a word in the ear of Harper. Special ops will be sent to kill a few, beat up a lot....

Harper, like Obama, has an utter contempt for democracy and the rule of law. It is one hell of a dangerous and undemocratic thing to give any elected leader his own army which reports only to him.

I was going to close by saying this is just a step away from being Hitler's Waffen-SS. In fact, it is not a step away. This is Hitler's Waffen-SS, the armed section of the Nazi party as it was about 1940.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Feb. 18: Wow! "Metrp plans major air show"

Of course, they've carried that story before. Was it yesterday? The story hasn't changed. But it's there again. This isn't a news story any more. This is free ads.

And, apparently, it will generate millions in profits. Well, of course. That's why they're having it. It's certainly not being held to stimulate our thinking or improve reading skills. This is purely money-making.

Now, making money is the way business exists. It's the whole purpose of business. It does not exist to cure illness, to pay pensions, to provide education, to help the needy. Quite the contrary. Big business will kill, abuse, debase, and enslave people to make money. In much of the world that's exactly what it does, with Canadian mining companies leading the way in violence against workers - and low pay and refusal to pay taxes.

And business is here in New Brunswick not to raise living standards but to keep them as low as possible so it can escape taxes and pay the lowest possible salaries (except to CEOs.)

It's government that is supposed to look after our needs as individuals, and as a society. And it's supposed to regulate business, and to make sure it pays its share to the society.

But big business has not only taken over government; it has changed the way governments think. Under both Liberals and Conservatives, we get governments  that think like big business. Instead of  looking a what society needs, it concentrates on air shows and hockey rinks to make money. (and, if they do make money, most of it will go to the already wealthy who will, as usual, avoid paying taxes on it.

As for health needs, the front page has a story  in which the health minister actually brags about cutting spending on health. That's business thinking with a vengeance. (0f course, he says he did it by being more efficient. He says lots of things.)

And the Irving press plays ball by not interviewing a single person who disagrees with the minister's assessment.

Incidentally, it was 80 years ago under a prime minister from New Brunswick that the world learned that cutting government spending is exactly the wrong thing to do during a recession. What saved us then was government spending (notably on war) combined with government regulation of the economy. Oh - and the rich paying their share of the taxes.

That came crashing down with the idiocies of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher that allowed "entrepreneurs" (especially the big ones) to become parasites on our society. Thus the recession, the obscene wage gap, the cuts to essential services.....

And that will not end until we get a government (and a people) with the courage and brains to see and attack what is being done to us.

Whoopee! Air shows and events centres . Sorta reminds ya of old Rome, don't it?

P. A8 has the story of a U de M delegation visiting Haiti in order to help out. I hope it does a better job than the TandT of explaining why Haiti is the poorest country n the hemisphere.

There is no mention that Hairt has been the best part of a century under dictators chosen, paid for, equippid and armed by American governments. These thugs routinely tortured and raped and murdered just for the fun of it.

Salaries were forced down to a few dollars a day (they still are). Working hours were long and brutal. It was (and is) what New Brunswick 'entrepreneurs" and politicians would love - cheap labour, no services - not even household water and sanitation. And the entrepreneurs came in droves to set up factories and cheap labour fruit plantations.

When the Haitians at last disposed of the dictator and elected a government that represented them, the US promptly send a "peacekeeping" force in which Canada took part. They arrested the president, exiled him, then held a phony election to choose an American puppet for president.

And the American aid money to rebuild after the earthquake?It was never fully paid - and what was paid, most of it, never saw Haiti. It went to contractor friends of the US government who promptly put in in overseas banks.

None of this has ever been mentioned in the Irving press.
NewsToday is the usual one and a half pages for the whole world. Most of it is trivial. One item is amusing. One is frightening.

The lead story is that Irving Oil is "voluntarily" upgrading its rail tanker cars.

Why is that word "voluntarily" there? The use of it  implies that it wasn't voluntary at all. I mean, if they were to paint them blue, would the story be that Irving Oil  'voluntarily' painted its tank cars blue? If Mr. Irving went to a reception wearing shoes. would the TandT say he voluntarily wore them?

That word is a giveaway. It almost certainly wasn't voluntary at all. We already know there have been several strong "recommendations' from the Transport Board. Most likely, Irving Oil was given time to avoid embarrassment by saying it was 'voluntarily' fixing the cars.

When 47 people have been killed and much of a city destroyed, no government, not even a Harper government could let that pass. And, even at that, Irving certainly took its time about fixing those cars.But they should fire whichever PR hack put that word 'voluntarily' into the news release. That gives it all away.

At the bottom of the page is a much more important story about how changes in the Arctic are accelerating climate change. Yes, folks. The climate is changing - and we're rapidly approaching the point of no return.

The only people who dispute this are oil executives and their flunkies - and self-ordained wise ones who write letters to the editor.

And Canada, under Harper, has not lifted a finger to respond to it. Of course not. He has a business mind. In business, the vision limit is three months at a time. It was a very prominent businessman who told me that - and I'm seen it often enough. If climate change does not become drastic until after the next quarterly report, we can forget about it.

There's an exciting editorial on the events centre and how much money it will make.  But that won't mean much money for you. Indeed, it will more likely cost you heavily. But the owner of a hockey team should do well out of it.

Meanwhile, you just look up at that air show. Isn't it exciting?

It's impossible to comment on Norbert's column. The language is vague, the ideas less than half-baked, "Politicians will follow the prevailing winds", he says. Cute. But to hint that we are the prevailing winds they follow is just childish. This is just a high school essay by a student who should not be promoted this year.

Alec Bruce is interesting on the literacy debate in our schools. He offers a view that I have some doubts about. But it's an intelligent and reasoned view - and it does what a column should do. It stimulates thought.

For contrast, Alan Cochrane presents a column which requires no thought at all. In fact, thinking would get n the way.

For contrast, there is an excellent column below his by Tracy Glynn of the Conservation Council of Canada. He writes, and knowledgeably, about the plundering and destruction of our forests, and how, far from making money out of it, we taxpayers are actually losing money. We are actually paying Irving and others to destroy our major resource.

Is there any news the TandT missed?  well....

There is a tremendous rise across Canada of private companies that run fund-raising events for schools. (And they need fund-raising because government cut their funding - and government cut their funding partly so they won't have to tax the rich - but I digress.

When schools have to raise their own funds, the basic purpose of public education - equal opportunity - is destroyed.

Schools in middle class and higher districts can easily raise 5 to ten times as much as schools in poor districts. Instead of  guaranteeing equal opportunity, we're destroying it.

And, in the end, fund raising costs more than taxation. After all, with fund raising, we have to raise money for the school - and also for the fundraiser's expenses and profits. Sounds like, you know, dumb.

Saudi Arabia is supplying Syrian "rebels" with missiles to shoot down aircraft. Sounds good to you?

Well, it doesn't sound good to the US. Most of the "rebels" have ties to al quaeda and other groups. It won't take long for those missiles to circulate. Then they can be used for terrorist attacks on commercial airliners. Still think it's a good idea.

Saudi Arabia has often broken with US policy lately. It's a sign of the declining influence of the US.
But, meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and the US,  together, are paying the salaries of all those 'rebels'. Gee. If it weren't for their generosity, it wouldn't be possible to have a war in Syria.

The US is paying people in Ukraine to riot. Don't know how all those eagle-eyed editors at the TandT missed the story. That American Assistant Secretary of State publicly told the National Press Council that the US has invested 5 billion dollars to enourage rioting against the government of Ukraine.

Why? Well, she says it's so Ukraine can get the future it deserves - and future that would include becoming a staging ground for US nuclear missiles aimed at Russia.

But where would the US get $5 billion dollars? Easy. They just took it from the food stamps budget to feed hungry Americans.

And - bring out the cake with one million, five hundred and seventy thousand candles on it. The US has set that as their new world record for Americans in prison. The majority of them, of course, are African-American, hispanic, or Native Peoples. No nation has ever had so many people in prison.