Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March 18: t you want to understand current events....

...read today's column on the op ed page of the TandT, the one by Gwynne Dyer. The story goes back to 1988. I remember it well. I was in the studio of CJAD radio in Montreal when the story flashed across TV screens. A Pan-Am jet with 239 passengers exploded, and crashed in the village of Lockerbie, Scotland, killing a total of 250 people.

Western intelligence services, quick off the mark, arrested a London airport worker named al-Megrahi (from Libya). He was found guilty in a Scottish court.

It was a frame-up.

Our intelligence services couldn't solve the case. So they lied, cheated and bought people for the evidence they needed to sentence al-Megrahi.

Well, of course. He had one of those evil, foreign names; so nobody questioned it. And governments were involved at the highest levels.

And that is the way it works in current events. The column is a must read.

The rest of the paper is pretty boring stuff.

P.2  has a story that the Telegraph-Journal is up for some national award.  So?

It's a fairly long and gushy story about that paper's coverage of the Oland killing. (Amazing how long it can take to arrest rich people.)  But, look kids. When and if it gets the award, then you have a story.

In any case, it is common for newspapers to get nominated for several awards  (often more than a dozen) in any one year. Simply to get nominated - and only for one award - is no big deal. But it's an Irving paper - and I would guess they don't get nominated for a whole lot of awards.

A3 has yet another, long story on the uncertain future of recreation programs in Salisbury.

And that pretty much skims the cream for section A.

The Canadian military very sensibly rejected Harper's idea of featuring our role in the Afghanistan war in the Canada Day celebration. It says, very sensibly, that we should not militarize Canada Day.

Harper will not be pleased, quite apart from his passion for historical celebrations (War of 1812, World War one - what a bozo thing to celebrate) he would dearly love to make Afghanistan look like a triumph.

The reality is there is no evidence that there was any reason to invade Afghanistan because there is no reason to believe Afghanistan had anything to do with 9/11.  The strike on New York was simply an excuse to go to war - and for reasons that have never been made clear.

And our achievement there? Absolutely nothing. The nearing US withdrawal is an admission of defeat. Nor is there as yet any reason given for going to war. So why did 158 Canadians die? Because Mr. Harper is a stooge for any American president.

And, please, skip this stuff that if we do not celebrate our role in that war, we are somehow betraying those who died. On the contrary, if we tart up this war as something glorious, we are making our murderous error of sending troops all the worse.

We sent them to die in a useless cause. We did it to please President Bush, no other reason. We do no favour for those who died by pretending it was all noble so we can use it to justify future stupidities. The lesson of that war is not a lot of mindless babble about the glory of war. The lesson is we should take OUR right to decide when to go to war a hell of a lot more seriously than we do. It's not good enough just to cheer and sing a chorus of O Canada.

Harper has steered us close to two more wars, making lavish promises - largely to help him win the next election.
The big story on D3 is that the idea of a pipeline from Alberta to St. John is gathering support. And we know it's true because a spokesman for the pipeline said so - and we have his picture and everything to prove it.

Just one question. Let's say that pipelines are perfectly safe. Let's say that Alberta crude is good for you, and will improve your sex life.

We are left with a problem. The cost of building such a pipeline (and the time it will take just to build it) means we are committing ourselves for generations to come to burn oil. Almost all scientists in this field agree that burning oil causes severe damage, that it is radically altering our climate with frightening consequences for food production and for dangerous weather. They also say we are rapidly approaching the time when it will be impossible to stop further climate change.

Building a pipeline now seems rather like telling Noah to forget the ark, and build a sunporch.

The editorial begins with a statement it is going to give a dispassionate (impartial and rational) argument in favour of shale gas. Obviously, the editorial writer got confused. As one reads the editorial, it's obvious he thought dispassionate means boring and biased.  (My, it would be a pleasure to debate these village idiots in public.)

He writes that the only reason public reaction seems against shale gas is because opponents have been highly vocal and attracted a lot of attention through protests and the like. So true.

And those poor but sensible souls who own newspapers and radio (and governments) in this province simply have no way to get their message out. And they wouldn't dream of using their newspapers radio stations and hack editors to tell their side of the story.

I mean, they aren't one of those  "special interest" groups who selfishly hold longstanding land claims against the government. Hell, if they want to, those special interest groups could do it in a civilized way like Mr. Irving, and just tell the government to give them all the land they want. Who are these creeps who think they have a right to have land just because they lived here for thousands of years and because it was promised to them in exchange for almost all of what we call Canada?

Then, of course, you have all those yaps who talk with passion but no knowledge about some 'mythical' environmental dangers. I mean, we all know there is no climate change happening. And don't pay any attention to what scientists say. They aren't nearly as smart as editors of fish-wrapper newspapers.

Luckily, the editor was able to report some good sense happening. Businessmen and community leaders had a big conference in Moncton, and they're all neutral, sensible, reasonable, impartial people - just like newspaper editors. And they all thought shale gas was a good idea.

All they want is to make New Brunswick prosperous. And that shows the editor doesn't have a clue what principles business operates on. Is business in Congo to make Congo rich? Then how come in a century and a half of business, tens of millions have died (been murdered), and the rest live in constant fear and poverty? How come Central America is so poor when it's business bosses are so rich? How come so many Americans are poor and hungry when the bosses are making their biggest profits in history?

No  business exists to make anybody rich except its owners.

This editorial is dispassionate like I am sexually incredibly exciting.
Watch for a new word that's popping up in the press to describe the Russian government. It's 'oligarchy'. It's perfect for propaganda because it sounds yucky, but few know what it means.

What it means is government by a small group (like our very good friends in Saudi Arabia.) In recent years, it commonly means government controlled by a small group of politicians and businessmen.

And, yes, Russia is an oligarchy. It's controlled by a small group of politicians and businessmen. Isn't that wonderful?  That means it's just like the US and Canada - and almost as bad as New Brunswick.


The process of peace.

If there is a crisis in international relations, anyone who want a peaceful settlement does NOT shout threats. Threats are almost a guarantee of war because the threatened country cannot cave in to threats without suffering international humiliation - and worse.

If Russia were to cave in to Obama's demands, it's stature in the world would shrivel; the fundamentals of its defence structure would be destroyed; it would lose any influence it had. You shout threats in a crisis only if you want a war.

The settlement of international disputes is handled by negotiation, usually with a neutral outsider in charge of it. Canada had an admirable record (and a Nobel prize) for its actions as a negotiator of peace in the days when Lester Pearson was in government. (Those were the days before Harper, when Canada was widely admired for its work in foreign affairs - unlike Harper who simply uses such crises to build up his vote for the next election.)

The obvious candidate to negotiate the NATO-Russia dispute is China. Indeed, that is almost certainly why China abstained from the Security Council vote to condemn Russia.)

Obama has shown no sign of interest in any such settlement. All the signs he has given have been threats, sanctions, hints of military attacks. It is not possible for Putin to cave in to any of those - and Obama knows that.

I can think of several reasons why Obama might want war - the steady decline of American world power and of the American economy, the decline of Obama's own power and support in the US, the danger of an attack on the American dollar.....

I have not heard of a single voice coming out of American government (or all those newspapers owned by big business) that argues for a peaceful settlement.

War would be insane. But just read all those inflammatory speeches by the likes of Harper, the hate-mongering in the news media....

War would be insane. But there is a lot of insanity going around.

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