Monday, March 31, 2014

March 31: opening with stories that don't appear in the TandT

1. Oil, gas, and mining companies can now do legal exploration drilling British Columbia provincial parks. Industrial development in them will follow,of course. What's the point of exploration drilling if you can't do the development?

2.Big oil is moving into the classrooms of Alberta with something that looks suspiciously like private business, (oops, entrepreneurs) moving into New Brunswick schools to teach their own programme on entrepreneurship from K to 12.
Coincidence?  Not bloody likely.

3. US figures show low, low income tax payment by major corporations. Some of the largest and most profitable US companies paid no income tax at all.

Now, wouldn't it be nice if the New Brunswick government were to make such figures available to the people of this province?  Wouldn't it be nice if the editors and reporters of the Irving Press were to get professional, and do some digging on the story?
For today, you'll need only half a cup of coffee to get through the paper - and that that will include reading all the obituaries.
Page one gets it rolling with a gutsy story that must have taken a lot work. City fire departments, it seems, use few volunteer firemen. Village fire departments, on the other hand, often rely on volunteers. Who would have guessed?

Page A4 has pictures of snow for those who don't know what it looks like.

Page A8 has the story of how NB Energy is studying ways to protect water near oil and gas drilling. That would have been interesting if the the Irving press had not already told the story at least twice before.

Anyway, what does it matter? The government and the shale gas industry assured us long ago there is no possible danger. Case closed.

And those, dear reader, are the high points of a section A that is trivial, lazy and sloppy.
NewsToday does nothing to pick up the slack.

The top story is that  Montreal real estate salesmen are watching the Quebec election in fear that a win by the Parti Quebecois  would mean a drop in sales. Well, yes. That happens in every election in Quebec. But it's scarcely the only thing or the biggest thing that is likely to happen in such an event.And it is surely well down in the list of major world events.

There is a half-decent story about Justice Minister "fumble fingers" MacKay and his latest legislation to get tough with crime. It points out that the tough measures much favoured by Harper won't work, and  have never worked. More commonly they make crime worse - and they make any treatment of it impossible. It's all just revenge. So why do MacKay and Harper support it?

It attracts the moron vote, those people who think it's better to "get revenge" than it is to actually reduce crime. The system is an utter disaster in the US, with its prisons holding the highest number of prisoners in the world - and reforming the fewest.

Then turn to p. C3 to read a full page of names of the winners of the Crown reserve fishing draw.

And that's it. That's all that happened in the world.
The editorial cartoon is just dumb. It shows three figures in armour and riding armoured horses out looking for war and death. I presume these are the horsemen of the apocalypse (in which case there should really be four.) One of them is Putin, grinning at the prospect of killing and terror.

There is not the slightest evidence to suggest that Putin is doing any such thing. In fact, anyone with even a passing knowledge of recent years knows that the US has been far the biggest killer in the world. So why this lying cartoon hitting on Putin?

Because he's a Russian. Hate. You have to learn to hate. All Russians are hateful It's your patriotic duty to hate them.

Americans killed a million and a half in Iraq. So where are Obama and Bush in this cartoon? They have killed and are killing with drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan. They have killed (and we have) in Libya. They have slaughtered ( with their money) hundreds of thousands in Syria.

But there are no cartoons of Obama and Bush. Instead, we have a cartoon of a gleeful Putin setting out to kill (when Putin has been and still is the moderating voice in this whole affair. Compare what Putin has said to what Obama and Cameron and Merkel and the fearless Harper have said.)

We don't criticize that last four for their dangerous statements. So why this cartoon of Putin?
1. because de Adder wouln't dare criticize an Obama or a Harper for anything but a minor matter.
2. because we have to learn hate Putin because he's a Russian.

And that's what is called racism.

Norbert writes one of his "something must be done columns" in which he says nothing - and he kids himself he has a real impact on provincial thinking.

You want to understand our budget problem, Norbert? Then you have to open your eyes, and see who runs this province. It's very simple.

Every year, the very rich take a bigger share of all the wealth we produce. Every year, the rest of us get less.

As well, the very rich pay little or no taxes - and since they have 40% or more of the wealth, that's one hell of a loss.

The rich, in this world of corporate welfare, also expect to receive substantial gifts of money from us.

Now, think hard, Norbert. Every year, the rich get a bigger share,and we get less. Think hard. Where does that get us - and soon? It gets us to economic collapse and social chaos. These people who are making us all poor are short-sighted, greedy, irrational, with no sense whatever of morality - that.....and we are handing over our schools and our children to them.

It's greed that goes beyond common sense. That's why senator Sanders called it a psychiatric rather than an economic problem. And you, Norbert, won't even look at it. No. you think we should demand answers, look for competence, and any other vague and meaningless word you can think of. Norbert is the classic man who pounds his fist and says "something must be done", and thinks he has pointed the way to a solution. He would have been a big help on the Titanic.

Craig Babstack has a column that child molesters who cannot control themselves must have controls put on them. Duh....very insightful, Craig. Are you training for Norbert's job?

Steve Malloy has some simple but very, very useful advice. This winter, I've had all the symptoms of winter that he speaks of. And a bit of the cure he suggests - not enough, but even a little bit makes the winter easier.

Alec Bruce has an excellent column on Harper's reforms of election law.

So, in the whole paper, there are two things worth reading - the columns of Alec Bruce and Steve Malloy.

A letter to the editor (Business Banquet was great success) if interesting only for its use of the language of propaganda. It's a about a dinner for "entrepreneurs"; (the have more eating fests that the church's do.)

But why call them entrepreneurs? Shouldn't they be called what they are -  small business or small capitalists? Well, yes, they should be. But entrepreneur sounds more elevated, and even suggests an image of knights out slaying dragons. They also like to kid themselves it gives them something in common with Irving.

This is propaganda - designed to fool the public, and to fool the small businessmen, too. And you can bet this kind of crap will be a staple of the courses they design for our schools.

A    parting thought on the events centre. It will be designed to draw people from a considerable distance, and to encourage them to stay in Moncton at least one night, plus restaurants, etc.  This is not designed to appeal  to the poor. As such centres always have been, this one is designed for the middle class.

And the middle class is disappearing. That is stunningly true in the US where much of our audience would have to come from.

So we are going to invest heavily in something whose market is disappearing. And don't kid yourself. That market is not coming back. The distribution of wealth in the US has effectively destroyed most of the middle class. And there is no sign that distribution of wealth is going to change.

The Irving who owns the hockey team needs a new rink. But he, and his entertainment colleagues, must know that it is most unlikely to make money. So they need suckers, like you and me. And they need shills, like the editorial writers of Irving press.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 30: A "must read"

Bernie Sanders is a U.S. senator from Vermont. He is neither Democrat nor Republican. He is an Independent Senator, and he is so popular in Vermont that he has been re-elected as an independent senator more than anyone in American history. He recently gave a presentation to senate 'A Threat to America'.

It is brilliant. You can find it by googling Information Clearing House for yesterday, March 29, and scrolling down to "A Threat to America".

He makes the point that the US has the highest rate of child poverty in the industrialized world, with such an unfair distribution of wealth that most Americans now make less than they did ten years ago.

The stunningly wealthy can spend so much on elections that it is not possible for a new party to come to power. And the Republicans and Democrats, well, as we have seen with Obama, there is no difference. Indeed, a Hillary Clinton as president would scare me more than a  John McCain.

Virtually all elected representatives are bought by big money. The consequence is that big money, big capitalism, rules the US, with not even the possibility of a democratic opposition.

The American economy is destroyed. I don't mean weakened or out of control. Unrestrained capitalism is doing to the US was it has long done to economies such as Congo, Haiti, Latin American in general. Unrestrained capitalism has destroyed the American economy - and it has destroyed itself. The American economy is gone. It's gone and isn't coming back.

However bright the numbers look on the financial pages, the reality is that all that money is going to only a very  tiny number of Americans. And there is no end to their greed.

As Sanders says, this is not just an economic problem; it's a psychiatric problem.

As side effects go, big capitalists have so damaged American education that it is now available mostly to the rich, and its quality is with the lowest in the industrialized world. Health care is unquestionably the worst in the industrialized world, and lower than much of the unindustrialized world.

And we are heading in he same direction. Harper would love to destroy our health system. He has changed the election rules to make it easier for the rich to have more control. Business has been moving in on the education system as something it can make money on, and can use to spread propaganda. Both Alberta and BC, for example, are opening the school curriculum with parts to be designed and taught by representatives of big business. And that is just what one school board in NB has recently done, with
 the compliance of a wildly irresponsible minister of education.

They flood our news media ( which they own) with stories of how all resource extraction is amazingly safe. They fund "think tanks" like AIMS to spread their propaganda. Harper believes it all despite the evidence that unregulated capitalism is wildly destructive. Indeed, he destroys the few protections we have to control what is about to happen to us. And it most certainly will happen to us.

It is almost certainly too late to save the United States. All the danger signs have been there for decades. We have killed millions to please those psychos we call business leaders. We have left many, many more millions to live in misery.

But you must read Senator Bernie Sanders on this. But save your pity for yourselves. New Brunswick is going in exactly the same direction.

While you're at it, take a look at Detroit or Gary, Indiana on Youtube. What you'll see there is largely a result of free trade. Thank you for that, Brian Mulroney. It's suitable that should have become  the only Canadian prime minister caught at accepting large bribes while in office. And Harper kissed him on the forehead and let him go.

Ever see Brian's house? It's a monster in stone in Montreal's most expensive district. How he does that AND pays for Mila's dress bills, I can't imagine.

And, as a   footnote, I let the editorial writer for the TandT off the hook when I shouldn't have. I've noticed a rise in nasty comments from him about the education system. The last time I saw that sort of thing in the TandT, it was because our business leaders had decided to launch a campaign to get their noses into the school system. They did, too. That's where we got this idiotic system of ranking the schools each year.

A few days ago, he thundered that our education system was antiquated. Alas! He didn't say how it was antiquated. I'm not surprised he didn't.

Has he ever taught? Has he ever studied education? I've read his columns, and I've seen no evidence he knows anything about education. He doesn't have a clue of anything in education - and certainly would have no idea even of what antiquated means in that context.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

March 29: It's official.......

...based on regularity of appearance and length of stories, the most important event in New Brunswick, perhaps in the world so far in this  year is the quarrel over recreation in Salisbury. Today, it's the banner headline (again), and takes up a whole page of the paper.

Yesterday, a big story was about Obama visiting a war cemetery in Belgium, and talking about how World War One was a war for freedom.


It was the result of two sets of alliances that more or less created themselves. And nobody on either side went to war to get freedom  or to take it. The core issue was the rise of industrial Germany, and the threat that was to British industrial prominence. If it were for freedom, what took the US so long to get into it?

In fact, once the war was over, the victorious leaders - including that preachy fraud President Woodrow Wilson- happily invented some countries and just took control of others to hand them over to the Imperial powers such as Britain and France, stripping them of any freedom they might have had so they could be robbed blind of their resources. That's how Iran developed a certain distrust of the west when Britain forced it to supply free oil for the Royal Navy for some thirty years.

When Iranis insisted on freedom and on controlling their own oil, Britain, with the help of the US (for a piece of the action) overthrew freedom in Iran, and appointed a dictator.

Obama knows that. So why did he babble about freedom?

Because it keeps us in line.

We are constantly reminded that we are good guys who go to war only to bring freedom or to build schools for little Moslem girls. That's the delusion that keeps us willing suckers who kill to make our rich richer.

There's another big story that's been going on for over a century that  we almost never see in our news media. We should, because it has a meaning for Canada and for New Brunswick.

The country with the richest resources in the world, with those resources being frantically dug out, is Congo.

Congo is also the second poorest country in the world.

Think of that the next time the TandT editorial is in praise of how we will get rich out of our resource development.

The mining companies in Congo are heavily American and Canadian, and they will leave behind them a  moonscape as they dig with no regard whatever for environmental regulations. They hire militias from neighbouring countries to keep the locals in line.

Anyone who asks for a raise in his almost non-existent salary is likely to be shot, beaten to death, or tortured, then tossed into the jungle to die.

Nobody knows how many have been murdered over the past century. Estimates just in recent years run to six million.

There is also a war against women to maintain the terror. Women are frequently gang-raped (including babies) while the whole family is forced to watch. (I'm not speaking here of bandits. I'm speaking of the forces of law and order in Congo.)

The first president - the only elected one - was murdered because he was getting in the way of "resource development". All since him have been appointed by the resource companies, and have been notorious for corruption.

Yes, there are quite a few Canadians who are prominent in Congo mining. You might even know the names of some of them.

Mining and oil are two of the most ruthless businesses in the world. And Canada and New Brunswick are working hard to attract them here. They'll create jobs...duh....

Page one has an untrue story "Water woes can lead to insurance cost hikes". The reference is to severe weather, the result of climate change. Of course, it's not true. We know that there is no such thing as climate change. We know that because the oil companies have told us.

We know it because Stephen Harper has killed almost all our environmental protection and our research. I mean, obviously we don't need it.

The final proof it's not happening is that our RCMP and those nice people from CSIS who spy on us to protect us meet with the oil and other resource companies  twice a year to tell them all about which people are endangering Canada by opposing development.
Another story that lies is "NB Energy Institute pioneering water safety regulations." They're checking for the dangers to wells infected by fracking, for whether fracking causes small earthquakes, and for the impact of fracking on our water supply since it uses huge quantities of water for fracking, and since that water much be disposed of safely.

Come off it, guys. This is an outrageous waste of money. Hasn't Mr. Alward already assured us that  fracking is perfectly safe? Would he say that if it weren't true?

And I've seen statements by the industry that all over Canada and the US there has never been a single case of any problem with fracking. Would they lie to us?

I'm going to report Alward to CSIS as one of them there environmental freaks.

NewsToday has a story that shows it's important where you get killed, and what your nationality is.
Police shot and killed a gunman in Brampton, Ontario.

How many people were killed by US drones? How many were killed by "company guards" in Congo? How many children in Africa died when they picked up the unexploded, small bombs that litter that continent? And Vietnam. How many died in Iraq from sickness caused by depleted uranium? Ever seen a report on any of those?

No. They're just the wrong colour, wrong place.
                                                                                                                                                                       Bill Belliveau has a fine column on what should be a central concern of planners for the future - rail service in New Brunswick. The stupor of politicians (and the general public) in dealing with this issue is a depressing indicator of the future for this province.

Norbert kicks and screams about an events centre. Mostly, it's calling names, and it shows no understanding of the range of issues facing a city like Moncton. Nor does it show the slightest interest in what the people of Moncton need. Once again, it's about making money for the favoured few.

Norbert also says we should plan for the future - 30 or 40 years or more. Okay, Norbert.
Whaddya think gas will cost in 30 or 40 years?   Think that might cut into your audiences?

Ditto for medium distance transportation.

And if the US recession continues (as it almost certainly will), do you think you 'll be able to get big enough audiences from, say, Salisbury?

And if predictions for climate change hold true (as they seem to be doing), shouldn't city council prepare to have money to deal with that?

And if an events centre is such a gee whiz, goldurn, sure fire money-making bonanza, then why don't the rich build it with their money. Do you seriously think they're being big-hearted in letting us pick up the tab?

Forecasting the future is a risky business, at best. In today's shaky world, only fools would even try it.

We have no idea what we might need that money for, and there's been no serious thought. All we get are these "visions" from businessmen of profits for themselves using money from us.

Grow up.
On the Faith Page, I think I can safely say I don't agree with Rev. Jackson's religious views - but I certainly have no quarrel with his sermonette for today. I, too, would not take Richard Dawkins, eminent as he is, as an authority on religion.

But why are we discussing this? Who cares? And who's going to change his min?  The reality we have to deal with is we live in a world that is as unChristian, perhaps as unreligious as a society can get. And millions - more than millions - are paying one hell of a price for it.

And our churches, instead of applying their faith, instead of learning where we are going wrong, instead of doing anything significant to ease the suffering or to change our direction, are obsessed with ceremony and arguments about minor points belief - filled with people whose only spiritual concern is getting themselves into heaven to walk on golden streets or whatever.

Apart from Bible study (and that only rarely), I have yet to see an ad for any church in this town that tried to understand the nature of this world, and our role in it. If Jesus were to attend the special events of our churches, he would just get fat on pancakes and overdosed on coffee.
For    Isabelle Agnew on F3 who is stressed by trying to choose courses, doesn't St. Thomas have course evaluations written by students after each course?

These won't really tell you who the good teachers are. After all, students don't know any more about teaching than most people do. But the evaluations can tell you what they liked about a teacher, what they didn't like, who's helpful, who's an arrogant, self-worshipping   jerk. And in many cases, that information can give you a pretty good idea of what courses you want, and what you don't want.

On the same page, I think Jane Giles is right. Most high school students should not be reading Shakespeare - if only because it's a  waste of time and most of what they learn will be forgotten within months.

There are exceptions. A fellow who was in my high school class - but some years before I was in it - went on to become a great Shakespearean - Christopher Plummer. But that was a kind of special class. Most classes would be better off to read more modern playwrights, writing in a language they know, and about situations they can understand - Sean O'Casey, Henry Miller, people like that.

And never, under any circumstances, even think of reading Canterbury Tales.

Yes, Shakespeare was brilliant. Yes, his poetry was magnificent (Full fathom five they father lies, Of his bones are coral made....) But to learn a different form of language, combined with situations that have only a tenuous connection with our daily lives is too much for most high school students

They will simply forget it with that same blazing speed with which I forgot trigonometry.  However brilliant Shakespeare was, there is no point in teaching students the things they will soon forget.

Aureli Pare (F2) does a stunning job with a difficult topic The topic is, well, what it is is......I mean, I'm no prude,  so I'm not afraid to say her topic, that is, the thing she talks about know....

The student columnist for F7 is Jessica Melanson who worries that she doesn't yet have a career in mind.

Jessica, don't worry about it. You don't even know what you're capable of doing yet.  You might have some big surprises. When I was (about) your age, I thought I had found my niche, delivering the mail in a big office. I wore a necktie to work. I came home with clean clothes.

But even I knew I didn't have the brains to go anywhere in that world. So I plunged into jobs I had known nothing about - street gang worker, activities organizer for a YMCA, camp counsellor, camp director and then, needing something steadier, an elementary school teacher. I was amazed to find I could do it - and I really, really liked it. And so I ended up as a university teacher - and loved that.

You have no idea what you have in you. Jump into a few things. Learn some of the good stuff you can do.

On the same page is remarkably similar article by Mike Elliot. It's a well-told story about his discovery of himself

Friday, March 28, 2014

March 28: laugh or cry?

NewsToday, page 1, has the story (or a story) on the UN vote against Crimea on the issue of its vote for separation from Ukraine. Well, it has a story. It's from The Associated Press, and the reporter makes notattempt to hide his bias. The vote was, he says, a sweeping condemnation of Russia. In fact, the vote wasn't about Russia.  It was about the action of the Crimean government. (In fact, according to that vote that a subordinate state has no right to vote for separation, the American Revolution was illegal. And, I don't know whether he noticed it, but the rules for Quebec separation that Harper approved are also contrary to the UN charter).

And Russia is isolated in the world - well, not quite. The vote was 100 to condemn Crimea, with only 11 against, a sweeping victory in the view of the associated press.

But 68 abstained. And 24 did not take part in the vote at all.

That's a hundred to 98, not really a sweeping figure. Nor does it consider the sizes of the countries.
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a list of them to check their sizes. (Why didn't Associated Press make the vote clearer by showing the population size represented by each voting category?) But a hundred to 98 does not sound to me as though Russia is isolated - especially since the vote wasn't on Russia in the first place.

More ominous, some nays and many of the abstentions were from Latin American countries. They are heartily fed up with well over a century of American interference in their countries, assassinations, staged rebellions, imposed dictators, and the brutal terms forced on them by free trade agreements. (As  I write this, Venezuela is being pushed into a revolution by American agents.)

Ah, some will say, none of this matters. The end is the same.

Well, no it isn't. And if the whole truth doesn't matter, then why doesn't this story tell it.? Why does it avoid it?

We have not begun to see the end of the problems of Ukraine. Just wait till it gets hit with its budget so it can pay off billionaire bankers.  Just wait until they learn that most of the money now being promised to them will not go to them, but to pay off bankers.
There is also the usual big piece on Harper as the great statesman.The only interesting statement in this "story" is that Canada has to build up its export capacity for gas to Europe. But it's a long term project.

Translation - Canada intends to keep pumping and peddling gas until the Atlantic Ocean rises high enough to make Toronto the maritimes. There is no mention of alternative sources of energy, and obviously no  interest in them.

Well, that's a comfort. It means the world may not last long enough for events in the Crimea to matter a damn.

Page B5 has a story about UNB where there seems to be great friction between faculty and administration. That's not unusual. In fact, it's been true of every university I've ever seen. Administrators become very comfortable in their roles as superior beings.

It's being made worse, perhaps terminally worse, by the constant interference of the corporate world, and the enormous influence it  has on both provincial governments and on administrators (of whom it can be said of the latter that they drool with a lust to obey.)

Finally, it's made a complete mess by the fact that universities have given no serious thought to what they are for since the year 1200 or so. And neither governments nor university administrators nor professors have come to any understanding of what teaching is about.

For administrators, it's about whatever is trendy. For too many  professors, it's about feeding their egos.  For corporations, it's about making themselves richer. And for governments, it's about doing whatever corporate bosses tell them to do.

Right now, all  the above are winning - to the impoverishment of education.

The editorial writer continues what could become a lifetime obsession with the events centre. Today's editorial is almost the same as all the editorials he has done on the subject. There is no evidence he sees any priority for this city except an events centre. Are their any human needs that are greater? Apparently not. In fact, there are no humans, only concert-goers.

Yeah, don't worry about the world economy, and where all those fans are going to come from.

It reminds me of my childhood in Montreal which was then a fervently religious city. Just in my area, there were several churches being built which had foundations and basements - but that was it when the depression struck, and there was no money.

So parishioners roofed the basements, and used those for church services. They were, after all, and as our editorial writer would approve, very large churches with room for lots of seats. And for twenty years that lasted.

Then money came back. But not the churches. They were all declining in membership. Those grand buildings once planned were no longer of any practical use. One, I remember, became a movie theatre, another a grocery store.

Some years later, the city embarked on another great venture which would make us all rich, Olympic Stadium, the iconic building on which the eyes of the world would focus. It's iconic feature, it's roof, became a horribly expensive and unfixable disaster before it was ten years old. Interior parts of the structure were collapsing before it was paid for.  Now, it sits empty. And around it are no stores or businesses.

There never were, not from the start.

The only other important news on the editorial and op ed pages is that March is Adopt a Guinea Pig month.
I was, yesterday, exchanging posts with an old friend from my earlier broadcasting days. He went on to quite a distinguished career as a broadcaster,then to the teaching of journalism at university. He's a man who took the responsibilities and skills of people in the news media very seriously. So I shared my dismay at the general quality of news media in North American with him, and asked whether he had the same feeling.  Here's his reply.

Trust me - I went to university in Fredericton and worked in New Brunswick a few years - I know exactly how bad the Irving papers were/are! But my great fear is that your points are increasingly relevant to most so-called "media outlets." It's a disgrace and I'm seriously considering establishing an online presence for "context and stories that must be told" by journalists who can remember what the bloody profession is supposed to be about.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 27:Harper plays the dangerous fool....

Page 1 of NewsToday has an article on Harper warning Germany about Russia. He spoke of bigger military powers who are prepared to invade their neighbours and carve off pieces. Germans, he said, know this better than anyone.

Unless Harper is even dumber than I thought: his reference is to Russia's taking of East Germany in 1945. In one sentence, he showed that he had forgotten the whole Second World War. In fact, if there are any Harpers reading this column, it was the Germans that began the war by carving off pieces of neighbours.  And while I don't criticize today's Germans for that, I also don't plead sympathy for those who did the carving.

He also forgets that in the course of their carving, the Germans killed some 25,000,000 Russians.

But we don't want to go into that because the point of Harper's message is that Russians are by nature lying and cruel Whereas Germans and Americans and British and Canadians aren't.

Then he goes on to say the world doesn't operate that way any more. Obviously, this is a world class diplomat who doesn't know about the US invasions of Vietnam, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and many others. He doesn't know that the US has a centuries-long history of invading other people's territory with the intention of carving it up, beginning with the native peoples, the attempt on Canada, and the war with Mexico to steal Texas. (You would think he'd remember at least the 1812 invasion of Canada.)

Then, of course, there were the decades of war to get control Central America, and reduce the people to poverty. And the invasion of The Phillipines which killed over half the population and life under an American dictator for forty years.

It was a speech that assumed his audience was made up of stunningly ignorant people who haven't noticed the US enthusiasm for war throughout American history. But it's even worse than that.

This is a speech designed to generate hatred. And hatred is the last thing any good diplomat wants to see. Hatred sets up barriers, creates crises - and then justifies all the murders and brutalities that come out of these.

If Harper is the sort of creature we are going to send to international meetings, we should send the front end of the horse, too.

The report (Canadian Press) supports the tone of Harper's speech. It questions nothing that Harper says, and even quotes some anonymous person about how Harper is right, thus giving the impression Europeans in general agree with him.

Harper's boot-licking may put us in a tough spot within weeks or a few months. There are some parties and groups in Ukraine who are REALLY extreme - fascists, ultranationalists, far, far, far right. They have grown a good deal in recent years, a period corresponding to the time the US has been pumping in money to encourage them.

A civil war is quite possible. And what do we and Russia do then? This is one hell of a time to encourage unthinking hatred.

Or, a related possibility, the US tries to destabilize Russia as it did Syria and Libya, to generate a crisis that will starve, kill, orphan, mutilate millions as it has done to hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria.

No. The world doesn't do thinks like that any more.  So says Harper who, I guess, never reads the news. It's become a national embarassment to let that man out of the country.

There's another gem from The Associated Press on B3.

Obama gave another "Harper speech" to a press conference in Belgium. Visiting an American  military cemetery of World War 1, he said, "...this hallowed ground reminds us.....We must commit perenially to peace..."

This comes from the president whose military budget is the biggest in the world, the president whose country has been invading other countries almost constantly since 1945, the country that a recent world poll rated the biggest threat to peace. (Russia was way lower in the poll.)

Obama also lied. He criticized Syria for using chemical weapons. Repeated studies by the UN have shown that Syria did not use chemical weapons - though the US-supported rebels may have.

In any case, the biggest user of chemical weapons in the world is the US, with Agent Orange and depleted uranium having killed uncounted millions in the form of illness, stillborn babies, and babies born with horrible mutilations from which they usually die within a few years.

Oh, he also quotes from a Canadian poem - Flanders Fields. But he obviously didn't understand the last lines. They are not an appeal for peace. They are an appeal for more war.

I watched a video of this press conference. As it ended, nobody clapped. I have never seen that before. Obama was obviously uncomfortable as he parted in the silence.
The Egyptian court that condemned 528 people to death in two, short hearings is now trying 919 more for quick justice. The court was appointed by military leaders who also run the country.

But wasn't there a recent time when Egypt had an elected, civilian government? Yes. It was called the arab spring, the coming of democracy.  But Egyptians chose the wrong party. So the US manoeuvered the army into power. But the North American press doesn't want to talk about it any more.

Section A, as always, has nothing of much significance. Greater minds than ours have decreed the events centre must be "iconic" (look good). Gee! who would ever have thought of it"?

There seems to have been no discussion of what we would do with it if the recession were to continue and even worsen - though that is quite possible. You cannot possibly build up the economy by giving the rich a larger share so they get richer every year, and everybody else gets poorer. We could be headed for one hell of a crash. And what do we do with our icon then?

It's probably going to cost 150 million. Could city council tell us about other projects it studied to see if we need them more than an events centre? Of course not. The hokum of New Brunswick is that anything that is done is something you can fool people into believing it will make money. (Most of which money goes to a small, select crowd.)

Eveything that any government does is sold on the basis that it will make money. Governments have no idea they are elected serve people. In their view, they are elected to serve profit margins. And they are really not at all the same.


The editor writes the usual editorial about what his bosses want him to say.

I can't find any substance to Norbert's column at all. As usual, he blames politicians for our problems. Come off it, Norbert. You know as well as I do that politicians don't decide anything in this province. You know that they listen to the same voice of the gods you listen to.

I couldn't make sense of Alec Bruce's column, either. To say that democracy in Canada is healthy is absurd. To say that the new elections act doesn't change that is absurd. The act weakens democracy even more. Stephen Harper is a believer in many things. But democracy is not one of them. His act deliberately gives more power to big money, and makes it almost impossible to charge or even investigate those who break election laws. (as the Conservatives did on such a large scale in the last election.)

Rod Allen is still obsessed with the idea 1. that an opinion column is supposed to be a pointless story about himself and 2. he is funny.

Beth Lyons has a useful column on blog sites that focus on gender. I don't know why she takes so long to get to the point. (She could have used the wasted space to tell us more about the blogs.)  But it's the only column on editorial or op ed pages that actually has something clear to say.

There was an item I should have included yesterday on racism.

I once knew a woman of Nova Scotia's elite - you know, the better sort than we are. She was very upset and angry when Pierre Trudeau beat Robert Stanfield to become pm.

"He had no right to. It was Bob's turn."

Of course. Bob had the right to be pm because he had money. He was one of the better sort.

The wealthy commonly feel that they have rights that others do not. (and don't even ask what it's like to date a rich girl who talks about what losers people like us are.)

The children of the rich are raised to believe they are genetically better than us, and therefore entitled to whatever they get. The implication is that they are born with higher qualities that we lack. And that is a pretty good definition of what racism is.

It's the same kind of racism that drove the British and other European aristocracies to believe they had the right to govern the country, to invade much of the world, to murder, to torture, to steal, to enslave.

What drives the very rich of this province to believe they have the right to interfere in government, to dictate economic policies, to intervene in education and health care? Are they people of distinguished education and training, or wide-ranging intellectual interests?

I've never seen any evidence of it. Indeed, most have pretty mediocre educations considering the kind of money they had for expensive education with lots of individual help.

Yet they set up grand, economic summits on topics of which they know nothing.  It looks like arrogance. But that may not be fair.

I've known quite a few of them, and they all had that air of privilege, of what was due to them, just like the old aristocracy. In Britain, the slow sons of the aristocracy were put into the army where they began as officers - purely because of their birth. And they were promoted, purely because of birth. That's why the British army produced so many incompetent generals up to and including World War One.

And so it is with the slower children of the very rich. Slow as they might be, they will find safe and well-paying jobs somewhere in the family business. They have a right to the best jobs. They have inherited qualities that make them the natural rulers of others.

That's a form of racism.

So show a little respect.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 26: Learning to hate....f

Most of the people in this world grow up surrounded by hatred. Where I grew up, English hated French, and Italians, and Jews, and African-Canadians, and Poles, and Japanese, and Germans....

And they hated us right back.

Often, in fact, usually, the hatred had nothing to do with anything these people had done to us or we to them We hated Italians BECAUSE they were Italians. It was some quality they were born with. It was in the genes.

And that notion is what is called racism. And racism runs deep in our thinking. Indeed, racism is what made the the great empires of the western world possible. Remember a film called Zulu? A small, British military force is attacked by a large army of Zulu warriors. In the end, the Zulus are beaten off.

The film is a hymn of praise to the British pluck and steadfastness. But the film never examines why the British were there, and why the Zulus attacked them. The British were invaders hoping to find mineral wealth and to steal it from a land that was not their own. The Zulus were defending their homes

But the British had a right to do it because....because the Zulus were inferior humans. They were genetically inferior in exactly the same way that Hitler thought of Jews. Therefore it was okay to kill them, to steal their land and their resources. You can find the same theme in the film. 55 Days at Peking.

When  I was fourteen or fifeen, I was enchanted by Winston Churchill's "History of the English Speaking Peoples", by the glories of conquest and empire. It took me years to realize that this was as racist as Hitler's "Mein Kampf".

Churchill wrote of the English-speaking peoples as a race, a superior race. Of course. That justified mass murder over a fifth of the world's surface. It justified exploiting the survivors as cheap labour, and stealing their natural resources - as in the case of the gold of South Africa.

It justified destroying all semblance of government in China, and forcing the chaos of a century of starvation,   drug addiction, and lawlessness on that unhappy nation.

In the same way, it justified Churchill in being a pioneer of terror bombing such as he inflicted on Kurd civilians just after World War One. Churchill could happily kill those people because he was a racist, and they were inferior.

Yes, I recognize all of Churchill's great qualities. But he was also a man of  his time, a child of the British aristocracy of his time. Just as he saw peoples all over the world as inferior to him, so he saw the British commoners as inferior to him. That commoners realized that, and realized they could expect nothing from him after the war.

That's why they voted him out of office as soon as the war ended.

Then there were the British, French, Spanish and Portuguese who "discovered" a new world. A new world? It had been here for uncounted centuries. But that didn't count. The people living here were, by European judgement, an inferior race. So it was quite acceptable to take their land, to kill those who got in the way, and then to establish racist laws on where they could live and under what conditions. Here in Canada, we even allowed native people on the plains to starve to death so we could put more immigrants on the land.

In the eyes of a great many Canadians, our native peoples are still racially inferior. Harper took advantage of that about a year ago when he circulated a racist pamphlet about native peoples. In Moncton, it was circulated by the racially superior Mr. Goguen.

In our western world, there was nothing unusual about a racist Hitler. Europe and North America are steeped in racism. That's why big business just loves free trade. That makes it possible for big business to abuse and brutalize millions in Latin America and Africa in ways that would be unthinkable in their own countries.

One of the most blatantly racist countries in the world is Ukraine. It cooperated fully with Hitler in killing Jews. Large, very large numbers of Ukrainians hate anyone not born in Ukraine. They are inferior. That does much to explain the enthusiasm of so many Ukrainians for Hitler.

Indeed, it is not enough in their eyes to be Ukrainian. You have to be wildly and enthusiastically Ukrainian, not just nationalist, but ultranationalist.

That's why in the video I suggested yesterday, you will see a cabinet minister of Svoboda physically assault  the director of state TV for not being nationalist enough in his broadcasting.

"You are not a Ukrainian. You are Russian s--t."

"But I am a Ukrainian. I was born in Ukraine I grew up here."

"No. you are not Ukrainian. You are a Russian pig."

We see the same thing here.

I grew up learning to hate (then love and sometimes to hate again) German, Italians, Japanese, North Koreans, Russians, Moslems, and now Russians again. And the hatred was always racist.

The master of this sort of racism in the US was senator Eugene McCarthy, who invented "unamericanism" (If you didn't agree with his racism and hatred, you were "unamerican".

It's useful for controlling us. Now, Harper and the boys (and one girl) are meeting to find ways to make us hate Russians - simply because they are Russians.

In fact, Russians did not stage a coup against the Ukraine government - the act that began this crisis. That was done by mobs of Ukrainian nationalists backed by American money and planning.

There is no evidence of Russia breaking any UN rules. There's lot of evidence of the US and Ukrainian nationalists doing so - but the US has funny rules for Ukraine. There, an elected government is invalid.
But a government formed by an armed mob in the streets is valid.

What we are watching in reality is old-fashioned racism running loose again. And what is being reported in our news media is propaganda about what a keep thinker and lover of democracy Harper is, and how Russia, (which has reacted only to the minimum it had to), is a land of genetically brutal people.

What we are getting for news is not news, but wartime propaganda.  And Harper is no leader; he's just a toady for Obama.
I decided on this topic because today's TandT  is, well, a little weak - unless your fighting spirit is roused by changes in Salisbury's recreation. Nothing has happened actually, but the mayor breaking his silence.

There is simply nothing in today's paper worth reading.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March 25:

I'm starting this on the evening of March 24 while a few ideas are buzzing through my head.

A few days ago 5 members of parliament of a certain country burst into the office of the national television director, and beat him up. Gangland style. They accused him of not being nationalist enough in his broadcasting.

One of the men beating him was in the cabinet - as Minister of Freedom of Speech.

You didn't see it in the Irving press? Well, there's a lot of North American papers you won't see it in.

It happened in Ukraine. The MPs (the good guys on our side) were members of a Ukrainian party called Svoboda, meaning freedom. It is, in fact, a far right wing nazi party which, until a few years ago, used the Nazi salute and wore a swastika. (It's flag is a symbol for white supremacy.) It's a party that hates Jews, Africans, just about anybody who isn't Ukrainian.

This was the party that provided the riots that brought down the Ukrainian government.

Until five years ago, it really wasn't a significant party. Then, about five years ago, it grew spectacularly. I supposed it's just a coincidence that five years ago, the US began pumping five billion dollars into groups like Svoboda.

Would the US actually pump five billion into a Nazi group? Hey, who do you think is hiring, training and equipping Moslem extremists like Al Quaeda to starve and murder Syrians?

Almost none of this appears in the privately-owned news media of almost all of North America.

The press is  your enemy. Get used to it.

For information on Svoboda, just go to google, and type in Svoboda. The first page, alone, has a good deal of it. Not all of it is honest, of course. But it's still pretty easy to get a general picture.

Svoboda represents a history of Ukrainian Naziism. In World War Two, it was a major force in the Waffen SS of the German army, and Ukrainians gleefully hunted down and murdered Jews. Now, these Neo-Naziis are being handed power by the US and western Europe.  Why?

Maybe it's because we're going in that same direction.
On a lighter note, about a week ago PM Alward and Energy Minister  Craig Leonard sacrificed our forest (and our wildlife and our waterways) changing our forestry law to make Mr. Irving happy. When criticized for it, Mr. Leonard rose with the dignity of virgin refuting a slander.

You have to understand, he said, that Mr. Irving wanted even more.

Ah, well, that explains it all, and makes it perfectly justified. I'd like an interest free loan of ten million, Mr. Leonard. Tell you what. Announce that I asked for twenty million. But you're going to give me just ten. That'll make it okay.

I was surprised the Irving press let such a silly justification pass by without comment.

Ah, no. I wasn't surprised.

An interruption, here. I have just been sent the address of a site that has headlines from British papers that are even sillier than the TandT.

Wunnerful, wunnerful stuff.

Great news on the front page of today's TandT. They city has bought the land for the events centre. You see? They're thinking of what people need. And what people need is money. So, with a flick of a finger, somebody is already richer by 12.5 million. One poverty problem solved.

And it still has to be cleaned for a price nobody can even guess. But that will mean s total of two 2 happy people. And we haven't even reached the building contractors and interior decorators. Oh, this will be a great money-maker - for some people.

I notice in most articles of this sort we'll have a politician saying this is being done for the people. The people come first.

No they don't. If the people came first, we'd talk about the people first, and what it is they most need. But I've never seen New Brunswick do that. First, the talk about some big project which will make a lot of rich people richer. Then they talk about the needs of the people afterward - as their excuse for the big project.

I would love to see some thorough reporting in these papers about the conditions people live in in this city. How much money to they have. Give us a sample of the quality of housing they can afford (or even find in this city.) How well, or badly, are they fed? Talk about people. Then decide what they need.

Don't use people you don't give a damn about helping as an excuse for setting up projects for the profit of billionaires.

The Canadian Press has its usual propaganda piece about the G7 and Russia. It's seems Russia is isolated in the world. Really? Has Canadian Press checked world opinions about the US lately in - oh - Pakistan  which it attacks with drones regularly (a violation of the UN charter), Yemen (ditto), Libya, Syria and Iraq - nations destroyed by the US, and none for any clear reason - and all such attacks a violation of the UN charter.  You can say much the same for almost all of Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

And yet, throughout North America and western Europe, people believe what they are told in their news media - that everybody loves the US which has always, always obeyed the UN charter.

We have a lying press and, as a result, a largely ignorant population. That combination is perhaps the greatest danger this world is facing.
Today's editorial was obviously written by a  man who knows nothing about universities. With the new budget allotment and the new, government-ordered focus on NB universities as essentially at the service of big business, our universities have been handed over to big business.

Our tax dollars are no longer for education or research. Their purpose is to produce wannabe CEOs who will think the way they're told to think, and about what they are told to think about. Goodbye general knowledge. Goodbye judgement. Goodbye understanding.

Hello, robots.
Alec Bruce is worth a read.

There are two, excellent letters to the editor. They do something to breathe life into an unusually dreary and trivial edition of the paper - even for the TandT. They are "Premier Alward's if worst gov't ever" and "Forestry editorial completely wrong."

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24: It's enough to make you cry.....

According to today's New York Times, Japan has enough enriched uranium to build a large number of nuclear weapons. They've had it, and the US has known about it, "for decades".

Let's just whoa back a minute. According the the peace treaty at the end of World War 2, Japan was not permitted to build military forces or weapons except for those designed strictly for defense.

Iran has been hounded by the US for years with threats of war, not because it has enriched uranium but  because the US says it is working on it. The US has no evidence. UN inspectors have routinely said that no such thing is happening. But the US is still hammering at it. with war a distinct possibility at any time. Meanwhile, Iran has suffered years of US sanctions affecting not only its financial position, but cutting it off from things like essential medications for children.

The US was also the country, along with Britain and the US that destroyed Iranian democracy because the democratically elected government actually wanted to control its own oil resources.

And Japan was happily enriching uranium for "decades" without a peep? And, it seems there were eight or more other countries doing the same.

Japan has now agreed to give its stockpile to the US for "safekeeping". Very nice - after all these decades. (Though I'm not sure I'll sleep a lot better at night knowing the US now has that uranium.)

Meanwhile, the US has slaughtered one and a half million in Iraq for having 'WMDs' which, in fact, it never had, overthrown democracy in Guatemala, following it up with the mass murder of 300,000 Guatemala civilians, murdered the president of Colombia and installed a dictator, overthrown democracy in Haiti and exiled the president, promoted and supported a hell of slaughter and starvation in Syria  (without even bothering to accuse it of  anything), destroyed Libya as a state for no given reason, engineered a coup in Ukraine, overthrowing the democratically elected government, killed people daily in illegal drone and assassin attacks - and may be working us up for an attack on those awful Russians.

Oh, yes. And the US now accuses Russia of aggression when it was the US that funded an uprising in Ukraine to overthrow the government. Notice how our news media never mention that. They always start with the Russian occupation of Ukraine - though what made that occupation happen was the American overthrow of the elected government of Ukraine.

Can you imagine our reaction if one and a  half million Iraqis had been murdered by Cubans?

Can you imagine our lack of reaction if those Iraqis had been murdered, as they were, by Americans and British?

I really must find time for a blog on the profound racism that runs through all of us.


Another, if smaller, gem I found - Fifty years ago the biggest employer in the US was GM, and the typical GM worker got (in today's dollars) $35 an hour. Today, the biggest employer in the US is Walmart. And the typical Walmart worker gets $8.80 and hour.
A1 has an ominous story "Province boosts support  to N.B. universities." Translation - the provincial government is cutting its payments to universities, wants more control over curriculum, and wants them to emphasize the teaching of job skills.

Further translation - big business now has full control of the universities, and their job will now be to serve the profit drives of big business. In other words, they become trade schools.

They always have been,of course; but they have not always been JUST trade schools. They also existed for the training of minds to understand, to analyze, to make judgements. They did not train people to be high-grade flunkeys. They trained them to see a broader world than they had known. They trained them to see truth rather than just business convenience. They trained them to lead. They trained them to open the eyes of all of us.

They didn't always do it well because they never did learn how to teach. But to the degree we did have openings to broader and more intelligent understanding of the world, they were the openings.

But that's over. Now, they will be controlled by those intellectual giants like the Irvings of this world.

Again, this is an Irving press report. That means the reporter did not ask questions, probably doesn't know any to ask, so most of the story is quotations of mindless gobbledegook.
A9 has the story "shale gas protests don't bother minister". There reference is to the energy minister, Craig Leonard. It is accompanied by a photo of him looking not bothered - and suitable for framing.

Though he gets a lion's share of the story, Mr. Leonard has very little to do with it. The real story is that a group called The Voice of the People Tour is planning the go around the province, discussing the problems with shale gas.

However, most of the story is an unbothered energy minister saying they're all wrong - and the government has done a thorough job of distributing information.

"Liar, liar, pants on fi-re", Mr Leonard. Yours is the government and this is the newspaper that withheld information and that lied about it. Remember you deep-sixing of the report of the chief medical officer? You still haven't answered it. Remember the mess you made with Professor Lapierre?"

Cutely, the reporter ends the story with the "good news" that the energy institute intends to research well water quality levels in places where there will be drilling. Duh! They have all the information but they haven't researched well water quality first?

And why should we research it? Mr. Leonard has just told us it's all perfectly safe.

Is this guy a dozey as he looks?

On C10, The Canadian Press does its usual village idiot job on reporting Harper and his demand for "tough action" against Putin. Yeah. I remember his demand for tough action when the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, and paid for war in Syria. And, lest we forget, paid for the riots that overthrew the elected government of the Ukraine.

Oh, and The Canadian Press does it again. In painting a picture of Harper as an admired figure at the G8, CP again quotes a propagandist from a far-right wing think tank and, get this, the head of the Canadian Ukrainian Congress who, I think, is funded by the tax-payer on this trip to Ukraine.

In fact, most G8 members are like to see Harper as stupid and/or self- serving.

The stupidity is to look for punishment and isolating Russia when a)it probably can't be done and b) it will make tensions worse.
a) most of the world does not think as highly as Canadian Press does of the United States or its buddies of the G8. Much of the G8 are the countries that have killed and looted all over the world for the last several centuries. It's a big world out there. And most of it has no love for the US or its friends.
b) Isolating Russia is that last thing you want to do if you're looking for world peace. You have to draw people in. Diplomacy is not something like giving a spanking. It is lessening tensions, encouraging, coopering.

And that's why anybody who says Harper is highly respected in world diplomatic circles is a fool.We have had prime ministers, though not many, who impressed other world leaders. Lester Pearson did. But he was one of the few. Harper may well be the least impressive one we have produced.

Besides, we have watched Harper for years. We should know why he's taking a tough stance without regard for the consequences.
1. He's toadying to the US.
2. He wants the Ukrainian-Canadian vote in the next federal election. And so, promising his support to both,  he creates an unlikely partnership between Israel and Ukraine - the latter of which has a long record of anti-semitism, which enthusiastically rounded up Jews for the Gestapo, and which happily killed Jews itself by unknown tens of thousands or more - and which today has a Nazi party in its government.
On op ed, I don't understand why we have a weekly column by Craig Babstock on the courts. I have never  before seen a newspaper that had a column on such a narrow topic every, damn week. Nor is it information that most of us have a whole lot of need for. Today, it was on how juries can be unpredictable. I know that Craig. I watch television, too.

Occasionally, we could have a column on some aspect of the court as it relates to a major case that is on. Otherwise, it's just irrelevant.

Steve Malloy gives us his weekly dose of common sense that is also well-written.

I would urge you to read Alec Bruce's column, then compare it to a letter in Letters to the Editor ("Story on gas was misleading")

Alec Bruce does a very upbeat column on the "economic summit" of 2014 that, from its own reports,  I don't agree with at all. In his letter, Marc Chouinard of Miramichi, who was at the economic summit, offers a more convincing account in his letter.

Oh, my nephew, Doug, who works in Alberta (of course), turned 52 yesterday. And nobody noticed. Now, I know he reads this blog. And I just want to assure him that I remembered, but couldn't contact him because a massive storm closed down all electricity across New Brunswick yesterday for some 30 hours, and the gold wristwatch I had bought him was snatched by a shark that leaped out of a tidal wave on the river that swept over the whole of Moncton just as I got to the post office.

However, I did remember. And I do wish you a happy birthday.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March 23: Stray thoughts on a Sunday....

Some weeks ago, the TandT carried  a story of the Moncton RCMP getting an armoured car. There was a small picture with an even smaller text that said nothing.And this is the paper that yesterday had its banner headline and a long story (which it had already told us about Salisbury). The headline was "Mayor is silent".

Well, okay. I guess it's unusual for a mayor to be silent. But for the police of a small city to get an armoured car - especially a rather sophisticated and military one - is even more unusual. One would have expected trained reporters to ask questions. And one would have expected editors to rip the hide off any reporter who didn't.

How much did these armoured cars cost? How many were purchased for all of Canada? How and why were the locations chosen?

And if the reporters were too shy, they could have looked it up in google. Those armoured cars cost close to $700,000 each. Our troops in Afghanistan (a commonly rougher place than Moncton) fought in cheaper vehicles.

And for all of Canada, 18 were purchased. I can see why Moncton was chosen. Somebody in Ottawa read our sports page, and saw the headline "Wildtown catfight" and thought, "Wow! They need protecton.a "

Another wild hotspot on the list was Kelowna, BC.


Well, it seems the idea was that these cars would be ideal in a hostage-taking incident. I don't see why. I mean, it's a hostage-taking. You send in this car, and there's a strong chance the criminal would just shoot the hostage. Anyway, most hostages are taken indoors. Do they plan to drive these cars into the house?

This and other problems have been handled for years without armoured cars. So why are we getting them now? And why are they being based in places like Moncton and Kelowna?

This is part of the milititarization of police forces that is happening all over North America. And it goes with our super domestic spying system. Our police are being trained and equipped as an army to fight - us.

I haven't found a list of the cities these cars have been assigned to. But I'm pretty confident that every place they are going is a place of importance for the transport of oil. or for the development of shale gas.

"The true north strong and free."

What do you think Mohammed Ghadaffi was like? Was he corrupt? Was he evil?

Well, he must have been because we (that's us, Canada) bombed his country, and effectively destroyed it as a state.

But what was it like before we did that? What kind of a country had Ghadaddi built?

Well, monster that he was, he built a public school system that was the best in Africa, a system which produced a higher literacy rate than any country in Africa. In fact, at over 90%, it put both Canada and the US in the shade.

Libya had an advanced medicare system, and that produced a life expectancy rate higher than that of the United States. Oh, yes, it also had the lowest mortality rate for infants in Africa.

Obviously, this had to be stopped. And it got worse.

Ghadaffi was developing a  banking system in Libya and in Africa that was controlled by the Africans, not by the western powers. Obviously, he had to be killed. So we did it - by the thousands.

Now, the country that had the highest standard of living in Africa has nothing but misery, hunger, violence and chaos - and a literacy rate dropping to New Brunswick standards.

We did it. That was Harper's decision, part of his toadying to the big kids. He has, quite unnoticed by our news media, created misery and poverty for millions.

This is not a man who should be representing Canada anywhere. This is a man who should be standing with Bush and Blair and Obama and Cameron in front of a war crimes tribunal at The Hague.

Then there's the cry I hear of big business that government should get out of the way, should be small, because government harms people.

Right. Big government gives us jumk like public education and medicare. Big business would give us??????
The prosperity it has given Haiti?  The peace and plenty it has given Congo? The mass starvation it has given Syria? The death and chaos it has given Libya?

Government has to be big. It is supposed to run the whole country. You can't do that with these farcical "economic summits" this province loves so much, summits at which the rich and greedy and ignorant decide how to run the world.

Besides, big business wants big government - so long as they control it. Big governments fight wars and kill and starve and mutilate people all over the world to help big business get bigger. Big governments maintain spy agencies to keep an eye on dangerous people like environmentalists

Of course, all of this happens were there is really no democracy, and where big business really runs the government - like Canada, like the US, like Britain.....

We are living in the age of gluttony and ignorance. And if we allow it to continue, it will be the final age.

What I have said above reminds me of the continuing role of racism in the way we see the world?
Why do we have special church service when 3000 Americans get killed in New York? But nothing when one and a half million Iraqis got killed?

Racism runs deep into all of us. It affects the way we see the world.

The most revealing truth about it is to be learned from an old joke.

Canadian newspapers report Canadian killed in train crash in India that also killed 200 Indians.
Response - "Oh, the poor man."

That's a serious truth. Someday I should talk about it on another Sunday.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March 22:Gee: I guess the TandT didn't get that letter to the media...

......from the former biology officer who said the new forestry deal is a fraud, and strongly implied the government is lying about it  - and that it's a sell-out to Irving. Or it might be that they needed the space for that banner headline and big story on the Salisbury recreation controversy.

This is, I think, the fourth story (at least) on the confusion over village recreation services in Salisbury. The story could have been told in one edition (and it was); but they keep repeating it without making the issue any clearer. Today's big flash is that the mayor is silent on it. And so that provides an excuse to run the whole story over again.

The big story on A3 is more worrisome, "Teacher regulations are 'archaic': report."

I won't pretend to know whether the regulations are archaic. I did know the chief researcher on this project in his Toronto and Montreal days, and always found him an excellent and very active educator. But------

What the hell are we doing allowing a propaganda front for the corporate world to interfere in education? This report was for the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies in which the Irvings have been prominent from the start - along with all those who attach themselves to their coattails.

I don't know all the academic credentials of the Irvings and their hangers-on; but I have no reason to expect to find academic distinction as a common feature. Nor is this an organization funded by the sort of people who have spent their lives teaching and studying education.

Our schools are none of their bloody business. Nor have I ever noticed that corporate New Brunswick ever intervenes in our lives to do us good. These are people who think only of themselves, and who sit on committees and fund propaganda 'think tanks' only to benefit themselves.

They want our children and our schools and our hospitals. And they have only one motive in what they want. Profit. There is a powerful push for privatization and profitization all over the western world. And in every case I know of, it has resulted in higher costs and inferior results.

People in the corporate world have every right to debate these matters (as we do). They do not h ave the right to intervene without the consent of the rest of us. We are living through a major push by big business to take over government. That will be the end of democracy - and we're getting close to the end.

It will also be the end to any hope that government will serve our needs The corporate world does not move in on issues like our forests in order to protect either us or our forests.

If we feel we need a report on education, then it is set up by us, not by a bunch over-moneyed con artists.

Let's use a little bit of common sense. AIMS is an organization set up and financed by big business. And big business is not made up of boy scouts looking for good deeds to do. Obviously, any report it produces is designed to serve the purposes of big business.

The story on Harper and Ukraine is again by The Canadian Press and, again, it's propaganda. We are told that Harper will have extra sway with other leaders because of his consistent warnings about Putin. Donne-moi un break.

Name one western leader who has not been a constant critic of Putin. Blair? Cameron? Bush? Obama? And where did Canadian Press get that opinion? They don't say - but they did say yesterday. It was from some twit in a corporate-serving think thank. Of course.

Harper is a toadie. He's tough with those who work for him. But he knows his place with those he works for. And Harper is no big deal to anybody in the diplomatic world.

On D4, there's a story on how Ukraine is now working out a membership in the European Union. They trace the history of it without mentioning the key factor. Ukraine had a coup. At somebody's great cost, mobs were organized, the government overthrown, and people who had not been elected were put in power. Few news items ever mention that. And when they do, the term used is something soft like - a change of government. The word coup is rarely used.

D4 has the usual story on Syria that says nothing. Hundreds of thousands are being raped, murdered by starvation and butchery, and millions have fled their homes.. And the North American press is lying by omission.

It does not mention that the US has led in providing money and weapons and training for the hired killers that we call rebels in Syria. All that killing and misery is being inflicted by Obama. (Oh, that Putin is such a terrible man.)

A few months ago, the press was in a frenzy over Syrian use of chemical weapons. Then the UN inspectors anounced that chemical weapons were not used by the Syrian government but by the rebels. Suddenly, the press doesn't mention chemical weapons any more. (Gee. I wonder where the rebels got those chemical weapons.)

We're deep into the age in which 'journalist' means 'professional liar'.

Bill Belliveau has a column on how we can't fix today's economic problems with yesterday's tools.
Au contraire, we can't fix them with today's tools.

Today's tools are private business. Cut its taxes. Give it free forest. Let it rip off our resources. Build an events centre to benefit private business. Yeah.

But it won't work. It never has. All it has ever done is to make us poor work to make the rich richer. That was our experience of the early 1930s, too. Then, something happened.

Suddenly, in 1939 and later, young men who hadn't been able to find jobs for years were getting free trips to Europe and Hong Kong, free evening air tours over romantic cities like Berlin. My father, who had been shovelling snow for pennies an hour, got exhilirating trips on the North Atlantic.

It was free food, free accommodations, free clothes, free medical care.

Gee. Suddenly, the country that couldn't give its babies free milk now found the money to open huge factories. And,  suddenly, the prosperity spread. In a household that sometimes couldn't afford any meals at all, we now could have half a chocolate marshmallow cookie after supper - six for ten cents.

We will never get out of recession by destroying health, spreading hunger, cutting education while giving enormous breaks to the rich. When you create a class of super-rich, you create a society in poverty.

Those are yesterday's tools. They didn't work then, and they aren't working now.

Norbert speaks with enthusiasm of how we are now moving into an age of more and better information, and therefore of more rational thought.

Wrong premise. We are not moving into an age of more information. Except during wartime, we have never lived in an age in which we had so little truthful information. More often, we get lies and omissions. The whole Irving press is testimony to that. This is not thinking. This is thought control. And it has become a distinguishing feature of almost all North American news media.

Discussion and thought are also held back by fear. Of course, there is fear. We now in Canada and the US have so many spy agencies checking our phone calls and mail and bank accounts what we are actually beyond the level of gestapo spying in Hitler's Germany. And that information is passed on not only to government but to big business.

New Brunswick, already a fearful place before this happened (it's a characteristic of New Brunswick that goes back well into the nineteenth century) is now a place of intellectual paralysis.

Gwynne Dyer has a VERY delicately worded column on Putin and Crimea. (He knows he's writing for a thoroughly brain-washed audience.) On a casual reading, he appears to be gently critical of Putin In reality, he clearly thinks Putin was right in Crimea.

On that pancake dinner page we call Faith, the sermonette, as usual, is so bland it wouldn't offend a serial rapist, torturer, strangler and Conservative. Does it never occur to our clergy that Jesus lived in a real world, and talked about our behaviour and our responsibilities in it?

Oh, I know. Jesus paid a price for what he said, and got crucified. It's such a comfort to know that our clergy will never be in any danger of getting crucified.

The student columns in the Whatever section are the good read they usually are. F3 has two, nicely matched ones. Mike Elliott talks about the importance of developing curiosity in school. And he's very right. Much of the memorized information we get from public school to university is soon forgotten.
I have almost no information memories from grade one to the end of my MA - and of only two classes in the PhD.

But I did develop curiosity,  and  habits of thought and expression. And those are the important parts.

Directly below him is Jerrica Naugler (any relation of Harold Naugler?) who uses curiosity and thought to analyze a popular TV show.

Aurelia Pare always scares me because she's so smart and well-informed on her topics Today, she scared me right out of my wits by showing she knows a good deal about literature, too, as she identifies diseases in characters in literature.


Friday, March 21, 2014

March 21; Remember Dr. Lapierre and shale gas....?

Remember how the Irving press avoided the story at first? And then it wrote a story about it so misleading that some might call it lying. And notice the government never took Dr. Lapierre to court? Even though the real message seemed to be that Dr. Lapierre had collected considerable government money under false pretences?

Well, we have a new one.

Yesterday on CBC (though not in the Irving press) was the story of a biologist who is highly critical of Alward's  (no. let's stop kidding ourselves that Alward runs anything) - who his highly critical of changes made to forest management that benefit Mr. Irving..

Mr. Robert Cumberland, until his retirement, a biologist of Natural Resources says the new, Crown Policy is not a balanced one, but is a recipe for problems. He adds that many scientists who work for the province are alarmed, but afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.

But I'll let Mr. Cumberland tell his own story because he does it so well,, and because it's such a rare display of gutsiness in this province.

"We have a forestry issue in New Brunswick because we have a bullying issue; we have people daily using tyranny to get their way and to spin their stories; and we have a media monopoly that controls freedom of speech to most New Brunswickers -  government employees across the province are muzzled on an issue that they can and should speak to without fear of repercussions.......How on earth has government been able to release not one, but two forestry management plans in as many years - each strikingly different - yet each claiming to be balanced?"

Copies of his letter were sent to all news media. Alas! The Irving press seems to have had no room for it.

At that, it's a gentle observation of the moral rot that runs deeply through government and big business in this province. And which runs like maggots through its commercial news media.

Mr.Irving wants to bring prosperity to this province. He and his friends also want control of our schools and our health system because businessmen are so good at these things. Are we all crazy?

The province's two, leading parties were born and raised in this rot, and the rot and corruption appears to reach down to every level of government. Such is the influence of a press which makes no pretence of being unbiased. The editorials routinely lie and propagandize - like today's half-wit effort which attacks city councillors who are not jumping up and down and cheering enough for an events centre.

This moral rot is the prime cause of suffering and need in this province. And it comes down to us from the highest social and economic levels.

Until New Brunswickers face that, this province isn't going anywhere. You are poor because you have been made to be poor. They have made you to be poor because that is what makes them to be rich.

At bottom, this is a profound, moral problem. That's why I get annoyed at the Faith  Page every Saturday with its weak, wimpy sermonettes.  It seems we don't have to bully the churches into accepting profound moral rot. Either they like it that way, or they would rather not be noticed.

But relax. The Liberals have the answer to all this. it's in the headline at the top of p. 1. "Liberals vow to push for river restoration" Wow! Way to speak out on the big issues.


The Canadian Press has a story on C1 "Harper to visit Ukraine". The last half of it (in fact a bit more) is pure propaganda and opinion. It says, Mr. Harper is a man who commands enormous respect on the world stage because he has opposed Putin from the start.

Come off it. The US has opposed Putin from the start. And Harper is a toadie  for White House foreign policy. The "expert" who said that also said that he has enormous respect, also says the West was slow to wake up, but now the west has great respect for Harper's consistent position.

In fact, the US disliked Putin from the start. Harper has never had an opinion of his own on any foreign policy. And I rather doubt that the great world leaders have any respect for Harper. We have produced prime ministers like Lester Pearson who did have great respect for their contributions to world relations. But Harper, overseas, has never been anything but a travelling salesman offering great discounts that our children will pay for.

It ends saying that the Russian move into Crimea was widely condemned. I've often read this. I've never seen any evidence of it. NATO condemned it. But NATO is a very small part of this world.

On, and they don't mention that before Putin moved, well before, the US had sponsored a coup overthrowing the government of Ukraine in a move designed, among other things, to use the region as a base to attack Russia. Putin would have had to be a damned fool to allow that. The US went ballistic when Russians atempted to put nuclear missiles in Cuba. Apparently, Russians are supposed to jump with joy when Americans do the same to them.

All of the opinions in this "news' story come from the Centre for International Governance Innovation. And what is that?

Well, it's closely associated with groups like the C,D,Howe Institute, or our Atlantic Institute for Market Studies. In other words, it's an organization founded by billionaires to spread their very far right opinions. Essentially, it's a propaganda house which tarts itself up with fancy titles (Senior Research Fellow, Chief Statistician). These are the pimps of the research world. But, oh, they love to cover themselves in glory.

Look them up in Wikkipedia. It's obvious they wrote that entry themselves. It's all struts and swaggers and lipstick on a pig. No ethical jourmalist would think of quoting these pompous asses as authorities. But the Canadian Press does. That tells you something of moral decline of the North American press.

What has really happened so far is that the US attempted to fatally weaken Russia by staging a coup, and drawing Ukraine into NATO.

Putin played it cool, and did what he had to do - make sure that he still controlled his bases in Crimea.

The US threatened, called names, the usual stuff. But Obama, very sensibly, backed off. And Harper was irrelevant in all this.

 Now, however, Obama's position around the world is in serious decline. So he has to make it look as though he hasn't backed off.


What has stunned me in recent days has been the volume of propaganda over Ukraine. It has been utterly unlimited with emotional (if inaccurate) language, and outright lying And that has been true in the most outstanding of North American news media like The New York Times and The Washington Post.

I'd be very surprised if 10% of Americans and Canadians even know that the US was behind the coup that overthrew the Ukrainian government.  I'd be more surprised if 10% of them knew it is illegal under the UN charter to do that. In fact, the US, with drones, assassination squads, etc., has broken the terms of the UN charter on almost a daily basis for some fifteen years.

It was the US, not Putin, that broke the law in Ukraine, and created the mess. You may or may not like Putin, but you can be very, very grateful that Putin kept his head, and made just enough response to defend Russia without plunging into war.

But, oh, even Hitler's propagandist, Dr. Goebbels, would never have lowered himself to lie and encourage hysteria as the North American press has. If Putin hadn't kept his head, we would all be toast now.

It was hard to find a single, good article on this affair. But try the link below. It's the best I've been able to find. (via