Thursday, March 20, 2014

March 20: Yesterday, on March 19, on the op ed page-----

....there appeared a very special op ed column concerning the future health and well-being of the people of New Brunswick. It said that the recent gift of additional crown lands to Irving to harvest lumber would have no detrimental effects at all. In fact, it would be an aid to the health of our forests. It was signed by the Chief Forestry Officer for Irving Ltd. He couched it in terms that were sentimental to the point of being maudlin, suggesting that his honour as a man stood behind these opinions. Since it appeared in the TandT, we can assume it appeared in all the Irving papers.

There's another, quite different, version of that story.

The Irving advisers on forestry are a committee of six people with Ph.D.s in the field. One of them contacted CBC yesterday, He says the committee was never consulted about this change in policy - and they almost certainly would not approve it or agree with the optimistic words of the Chief Forestry Officer. Indeed, some had already informally made it known they thought this was a very bad policy.

This was reported on CBC News - yesterday - the same day that the Chief Forestry Officer defended his virtue in the Irving press. The Irving press must have known before press time that it was publishing a pack of lies.

And Mr. Irving must have know long, long before any of this came to light that what he was proposing was dangerous to both the people and the forests of this province. And he pushed it through, anyway.

But let's forget the world of business in this. It has no ethics, and so no reason to apologize for not following them. But even a bad news agency is supposed to  have some ethics. So even a bad news agency would today have had an apology, and a full explanation of it, on its op ed page. The TandT doesn't.

This is not an example of a difference of opinion. This is a case of an Irving employee who pretends to represent the last word on this issue but who, in fact, did not even consult the experts on his committee.
And we should not kid ourselves that Mr. Irving didn't know the whole story.

We have been lied to. And lied to by every responsible official in this mess, from Irving down to his Chief Forestry Officer, and down the very bottom of this cesspool of lies, down to the newspapers of the Irving press,  and down even to the bottom level of leadership in this province, the wretched Mr. Alward.

So much for the Irving "contributions" to New Brunswick.

As an aside, I notice the selling job for the destruction of our forests and our environment is that it will create jobs.Almost all the projects I hear of in this province are about making money.

To which politicians will reply you cannot do anything without money. True enough. But making money in itself is not enough, and it's not the starting point. To start with a focus on simply making money does not guarantee anything good for the society.

The world of business in North America is making its biggest profits ever. But the levels of poverty and misery in North America are also reaching high levels.

And, please, let's not hear that el crapola we get in our editorials that businessmen are the ones that get things done, that somehow just build prosperity. The high levels of debt we are suffering, the growing wage gap, the bank crashes and bail-outs of recent years are largely due to those "great brains" in our business world who control both business and politics.

Even our foreign affairs are largely determined by big business - and a strong example of its intrusion was the career of Dick Cheney was the real president of the US while Bush was sitting in the White House. That led to disaster after disaster at a cost millions of lives and trillions of dollars.

Of course.  Business, built around a three-month cycle, is necessarily short-sighted. In any case, there is nothing in business training or experience to produce people who have the faintest idea of how to plan a society.

But planning a society is where we have to start. We have to decide what it is we need money for. Then you raise. We have to decide on basic standards by which we live. We have to think of what equality really means, and how we can achieve it. We have to decide what our responsibilities are for each other. This, not 'neat ideas', is what an election should be about.

If we don't do that, all we end up with is grand projects that cost a lot of government money while providing mostly short-term jobs at low wages, with the financing coming from us, and the rewards going largely to the rich. Think "events centre", for example.

Looking for profitable projects is the business of business. Deciding who we are, and what our values and priorities are is the business of us and government. We badly need to think over what kind of society we are, and what we want to be.
The big news for today is on A10, a full page on how Canadians, despite debit cards, still love to handle money.
Who could possibly bloody care?

We may be on our way back to sanity in the Ukraine affair. Obama sas clearly accepted that the scheme to take over all of Ukraine and integrate it with NATO has failed. So he will have to settle for the part he got. (The talk of sanctions is pretty piddling stuff that won't change anything. That's just a smokescreen to cover the US retreat. It's possible, likely even probable, that Obama knew when Putin kept his cool and took over Ukraine that it was game over. And that may explain why Obama said so little  in public during the crisis.)

We're going to get after-shocks out of this for some time. But my guess is that the real crisis is over for now. The next one might be when Israel and Saudi Arabia decide (as they probably already have) that the US is weak. And that's when they start doing crazy things on their own.

C1 has a NATO story at the bottom that is not understandable unless we know what  NATO is really all about. And, curiously, it goes back to Canadian confederation.

One reason that Britain approved of confederation is that it would help to get rid of Canada. The British always worried about being sucked into a war to defend Canada against the US. Confederation was the first step in sending the kid out to look after himself.

But then Bismark united the German states. That raised the fear of an industrial, wealthy opponent on Britain's doorstep. And Britain, with its empire across the globe (very expensive) had no allies. That's why, by the 1880s, you find the British speaking fondly of reuniting the English-speaking peoples around the world, starting with the US.

That's why Rudyard Kipling cheered when the US invaded The Phillipines, killing over half the population, and inventing waterboarding and other tortures. He saw this, in his remarkably silly and racist  poem "The White Man's Burden", as the beginning of the white, English speaking people uniting to rule the world.

But the Americans weren't having any. So the British began playing up to Canada, Australia and New Zealand to enter the Boer War. This would send a message to Germany about the unity of the English,and would help to share the cost of Empire. It worked so that by 1914, the English-speaking colonies were committed to going to war in support of Britain. But the US stayed out for three years - a move it would repeat in World War Two.

After World War Two, NATO was formed to protect Europe against the USSR. But the US soon discovered, as Britain had a century earlier, that it could not built an empire on its own. It needed allies who would be obedient.

By this time, all of western Europe was in the same boat with Britain. Individually, they were weak and poor. For those with Empires  (Britain, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, for example), the war, even in victory, was a disaster as they lost virtually all of their Empires).

The US, though it appeared to be strong and rich, could not sustain, militarily or financially, it's own rapidly growing empire. The answer was based on the old, British dream of a union of the English-speaking peoples to rule the world. But just the English were not enough.

That's when NATO became an agency primarily dedicated to fighting American wars all over the world, something it is now reconsidering.

The editorial is in favour of an "events centre". That should surprise people who are very, very easily surprised.  Again, it  contains not even a hint that anybody has thought of what kind of a society we should be. No. Once again, it's all about spending money to make money. Make money, and all your problems will be solved.

Skip the editorial and read Alec Bruce. I don't think I've ever seen him really angry before. And it warms my heart to see it.

Rod Allen makes us suffer through another incident in his life that nobody could possibly care about.

Jody Dallaire writes of a culture of violence against women that has become notorious in our universities. It has always been there - but I cannot recall ever seeing it as strong as it is now. Unfortunately, there are very few reliable statistics about violence against women over the years. But I do get a sense that something in the nature of our society has changed. And I'm not sure we can fall back on the old explanations or the  old cures for it.

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