Friday, April 11, 2014

April 11: A two-page obituary

I'm sure that Jim Flaherty, former minister of finance, was a worthy and loved man. But most of us just get a few words ending in "missed by all". With all that is happening in the world, and even in NB, I don't see how a newspaper can devote so much space to the death of even a former cabinet minister.

On the front page is just about the only important story in the whole paper. The abortion clinic, a private one,  in Fredericton is closing simply because it cannot afford to stay open. It needs a provincial subsidy.

Dr. Morgenthaler, who built the clinic, always found New Brunswick to be the province most resistant to abortion. David Alward once said he would never accept abortion because he believes life begins at conception. Onward Christian soldiers....

Always gratifying to see how these devots rush to attack abortion clinics, but ignore the mass murder of babies and adults in our wars in Iraq and Libya and Syria - and the mass murder in the third world where there isn't enough medicine because pharmaceutical companies insist on full, retail price per pill for pills that are already obscenely overpriced.

The Lord works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform.

And closing the clinic won't save anybody. Abortions will go on, as they have for millenia, in dangerous ways, many killing the mother as well as the baby.

But, oh, our Christians hold high the cross. They really aren't protecting babies at all. They're looking after their own interests. They're saying, "look, Jesus. I'm against abortion. So I'll get into heaven. Right?"

It's an easy piece of virtue, especially if you're a man.

The rest of section A will be fascinating for people who like to look at pictures of not-very-old cars, or who are fascinated by how the restaurant scene in Moncton is always changing.


"Newstoday" is worth reading only if you like reading really long obituaries - this one of Jim Flaherty.

It's nice to see that irving editorials now take climate change seriously. Today's says the city is going to need a strategy to deal with the extra snow we are likely to get. Yes, indeed. And we're going to need strategies for a whole lot more than that. That's  why I was surprised to read that city council had drawn up its strategies in just a few days.

And, so far as I know, the province hasn't begun to think about strategies.

Norbert has a column arguing that there is no such thing as a fail-proof technology. Hasn't it occurred to him, then, that if this is true of everything, it is surely also true of the technology that is going to protect us from shale gas?

Catherine D'Entremont, Commissioner of Official Languages for New Brunswick, has a column on how we need to attract more French-speaking immigrants in order to maintain our proportion of French-speaking New Brunswickers.

Maybe. But I'd be inclined to think long and hard about that one.

There aren't many places you can get French-speaking immigrants from. And there are none where you can get Acadians (expect, perhaps, in the south-eastern US).

The major sources would probably have to be Haiti and Africa. Are New Brunswickers prepared to accept large numbers of people of a different skin colour - or a different religion - and/or a quite different set of values?

Quebec since 1970 has thought it could. And it can't. You can smell the racism in Montreal. (It's always been there. But it's much greater now.)

New Brunswick, though once a very racist province, seems remarkably free of racism now - or so it seems to this outsider. But does it have any plans for how it would absorb a large influx of people of a different skin colour and/or religion?

I think it would be great. I think people different from us in so many ways are interesting and stimulating. But racism is always close to the surface with us humans - especially in a province with serious employment problems.

The other problem is that  the Acadians of New Brunswick are not just French. They are Acadians. They are centuries apart from them their roots in France. They have evolved into a separate people. It will not be easy to blend them all into one happy and congenial standard - or to make all of them or even most of them Acadians.

The Acadians could certainly use reinforcements. And maybe immigration can be the answer. But it will require some pretty sophisticated planning.

Then there are the items that didn't make the irving press.
1. In south Nevada, a major confrontation with dangerous implications is flaring up. A rancher there is the last rancher in the region. He has been ordered to moved his 900 head of cattle off public land. He refuses. And he is being joined by armed militias from across the US who see this as their great moment to protect the constitution (though I have no idea of what running cattle on public land has to do with the constitution.)

The militias claim that hundreds of gun enthusiasts are on their way. And that could be uncontrollable.

2. Ever hear of David Hughes? He's a Canadian with a very wide reputation as an authority on natural resources, including shale gas - and he was commenting on the US promise to supply shale gas to Europe should Russia cut off the fuel supply.

The US can't, says Hughes.
a) Shale gas development has been stalled since 2011. Major developers, like Shell, are getting out because it is becoming uneconomical with production per well much less than had been hoped.
b) We don't have the refining facilities  to put the gas into a form that could be carried by giant tankers.
c) We don't have ANY of the type of tankers that would be required - and it will take years to build them.
d) any such transfer of shale gas to Europe would so raise the price in our own market as to be unrealistic.

3. Seymour Hersh, the  American investigative journalist has another report on the Syrian war in
The London Review of Books,  this one for April 6, 2014.Turkey, the US, Saudi Arabia, UK and France have been working together to supply the Syrian 'rebels' with arms and money.
Recently, Turkey considered attacking itself with missiles in order to blame Syria for it, and to invade.

And remember the American ambassador who was killed in Libya just after the "revolution" in Libya?
It seems his only real job in Libya was to look after arms shipments to Syrian 'rebels'. He was killed by our good friends associated with the "rebels" in Syria - probably because the ambassador had decided to withhold certain weapons from them.
4. Israel has threatened reprisals against Palestine.  What did Palestine do? Why, it had the nerve to sign treaties with other countries. Not important treaties. But the nerve....

Israel will not permit Palestine to join the UN. It will not permit Palestine to sign treaties. It will not permit Palestine to control its own borders. It will not permit Palestine to become a nation. And it gets full support from the US on all this.

5. Russia has dropped the use of the US dollar in all its trade. All that is keeping the US dollar alive is the fact that most countries, under pressure from the US, have used only the US dollar in trade. China is getting rid of its US dollars before the dollar crashes, something that will happen as nations stop using it in trade. This is a crisis for all of us - and not just because of the value of the dollar.
The crash of the dollar would mean the crash of the American empire. It is not impossible, to put it mildly, that their are powerful people in the US who would see this as making it essential to launch into the final, great war before the US becomes too poor and ill-equipped to fight.

In fact, it is quite possible that the danger point is already here, that leaders in the US business world want a war with Russia now so they can then surround and then concentrate on China.




  1. I'm a New Brunswicker and if you think there is no racism in New Brunswick, I don't know what to tell you. Canada itself is extremely racist, I don't know how you missed all the attacks on native people when they were protesting shale gas. The CBC was filled almost every day with the most horrible bile against those 'lazy indians'. You might also want to check out the numerous facebook groups dedicated to fighting against that most horrible of horrible afflictions affecting the province-official bilingualism. A good percentage of comments have to deal with policy, and a good percentage don't.
    A place which has been known in the past year to have news stories about gay people getting the heck beat out of them, and asian people having things thrown at them, can hardly be thought of as 'racist free'.
    The good thing about it is that most of the most vocally and physically active of racists (young white males) all leave the province for the west, so there is little graffitti. There is also virtually no outlet for racists to make remarks, but like I said, go look at places where they can...and do-facebook and on CBC comments sections. You'll find plenty.

    Fortunately, unlike the abortion issue, New Brunswick has grown with the rest of the country and diversity is far more doubt helped by the fact of discovering worldwide cuisine.

  2. Thank you.I had, certainly, picked up on the racist, anti-native campaign run by the federal Conservatives in this province. But not on the others. I'm sorry to hear it.

    I grew up in a very mixed part of Montreal. There was certainly widespread racism in Montreal. But I went to school with Brits, Italians, Syrians, Japanese, Africans, you name it. So I'm used to a mix - and I prefer it.

    So I gather that things are better here - but still have a long way to go.

    As for cuisine, go to Hong Kong. Not only were the various Chinese regional cuisines delightful - but you could get superb Swiss, French, Japanese, Mexican - you name it.

    My one disappointment was Peking chicken in Peking. I make better than that.