Saturday, April 19, 2014

April 19: Sh! Baby's sleeping...

What could be the biggest crisis in world history has taken a turn for the worse in the last couple of days. But not in the Irving press. In the fact, even the word "Ukraine" did not appear in the paper yesterday, and did not appear again today.

But there are big, front page stories that drivers are still talking on cell phones, and Easter is a big time for retail sales but Christmas is bigger. Way  to set priorities, guys.

Of course, they don't carry the big story that has hit the European papers - but not the North American ones. When the elected government of Ukraine was still in power, and there was rioting in the streets, many of the rioters were killed by snipers. Our news media jumped on this to show how cruel the elected government was.

But the snipers weren't working for the elected government. Hospitals report the bullets extracted seem to have come from a small number of guns. Other reports indicate all the shots came from a certain hotel - which was completely under the control of the rioters.

In other words, the riot leaders had cnipers shooting their own people. Why?

To create confusion and to raise the level of blind anger. But to get that story, you'll have to go to a German or, perhaps, a British newspaper.

The riot leaders, of course, and the snipers were paid out of the five billion or so the US pumped into Ukraine to organize a government coup in the first place.

Meanwhile, the US has sent ships, two so far, to the Black Sea to patrol off the Russian naval base of Odessa. Isn't that a nice way to ease tensions? Can you imagine the reaction if the Russians sent a fleet to patrol off an American naval base?

I read in some paper that a Russian fighter jet had flown over the American ships in the Black Sea - the paper said it was taunting them. It did not occur to the reporter that taunting was exactly what the American ships were doing.

What does Russia want out of this? It certainly doesn't want Ukraine. Ukraine is flat broke, billions in debt, a curse to whoever holds it.

What it wants is assurances that Ukraine will not be used to move western troops and rockets to the Russian border.

Why would be US want Ukraine? So that it can move troops and rockets to the Russian border. US business is looking for world domination. There are now two main obstacles to that - Russia and China. For that reason the US has been developing bases to hem in China. For that reason, it has been moving its rocketry ever closer to Russia.

In short, it is quite possible, even probable that the US wants a war with Russia. So our news media paint Russians as evil - and us as good.

In fact, the US has, for a good fifty years, been the most aggressive nation in the world. It supports the world's biggest domestic  spy apparatus. It has a government that is extraordinarily corrupt, and owned by big business. It has killed millions in the last fifty years,  many of whom we never hear because they are killed by assassination squads or by poisons the Americans have left behind them - like Agent Orange,unexploded cluster bombs, and depleted uranium.

Almost all the dead are from countries that couldn't possibly attack North America - Vietnam, Guatemala, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria.....

Western Europe joins the US in organizations like NATO because it has to. Europe is full of nations with collapsed empires. They need the old empires back to feed off. The US needs the NATO countries to share the wars.

As well, democracy is dying in the old imperial powers just as it has died in the US, just as it is being killed in Canada. So we become the leeches clinging to American policy.

Who are the bad guys? who are the police states? who are the aggressors? who are the killers and destroyers?

Wake up. It's us.

What annoys me about that wimpy Faith Page in this paper is that the churches refuse to address what is going on. That should be no surprise. Nothing is exactly what most German churches did throughout the Third Reich.

There is nothing to say about the news in today's paper. Almost all of it is the usual turgid and amateurish crap. The one item I found worth reading was "Leading the anti-shale rally cry" on A3.
It's about a new Canadian, a retired man from the US, who is travelling with the Voice of the People Tour. He sounds gutsy, blunt and well-informed. He should be pretty good behind a microphone.

The story is by Adam Huras, who seems far the best reporter for Irving press.

On F2, Mike Elliott, an English major at UdeMoncton, argues in favour of the graphic novel, essentially, a book in comic book form.

I'm not a great fan of the graphic novel. My broadcasting experience is that people have to focus pretty narrowly the get a full understanding. The easier it gets to do, the less we listen. That's why TV news makes far less impression than radio news. I was on TV many, many times, but not many people remember it. I was also on radio. What a difference! Within a few weeks, people would recognize my voice and talk to me as I were a family member. Of course. On radio, they focussed on me. I was right in the house with them, so of course I knew all about Uncle Charlie's illness, and how much the house needed a coat of paint.

However, for a light, graphic book, I found a pretty good one. It's about the Canadian armed forces in World War Two.  Yes, it's very pro-Canadian. Yes, a few subjects are avoided. But it's generally pretty accurate.

By Paul Keery and Michael Wyatt, it's called Canada at War.
There's nothing in the editorial or in Norbert Cunningham.

Jean Belliveau has a very sensible column on campground development in Shediac, and the very great damage it will do to the environment and to the general visual atmosphere. It's a well-written try, a good one. But this is New Brunswick.

If there's a buck in this, it will go ahead. This is a province that will happily destroy the land and the water for shale gas and for resource development. And if that damage lasts forever, who cares? The only important thing is to make a buck. Now.

Then there's Gwynne Dyer.

I like Gwynne going back to when we first met, a good forty years ago. I've always thought him the best military and foreign affairs journalist in the business.

But this one makes no sense at all. He gives no convincing reason for anything he says.

 He says the current Ukrainian government came to power by mostly non-violent means.

What? It came to power because government came to a halt under massive street riots, largely financed, trained, organized and equipped by the US. I think that's violence.

And can he seriously believe that a government which came to power by violently overthrowing the previous government (and with foreign financing) is now going to hold an honest election?

He says that Putin needs a pretext to use force to take over East Ukraine. Why on earth would he want to take over East Ukraine? It's stone broke. It does supply some goods for Russia. But with the state of the Ukrainian debt, it's cheaper for Russia to produce those goods itself.

There's far more evidence that it's the US that's looking for pretexts. After all, it's the one that spent 5 billion or more to set up this whole mess.

Sorry Gwynne. I don't buy this one at all.


  1. You ask:

    > Why on earth would he want to take over East Ukraine?

    The answer, from what I can see: because he gets 95% approval ratings in Moscow when he does things like that.

    Ukraine SSR was much larger (and extended much further east) than historical Ukraine, as I'm sure you know. This is Russia reclaiming what they feel were historic Russian lands.

    In the long run, though, this will backfire. New Ukraine will now never vote in a pro-Russian government (mostly because the pro-Russians were in the part or parts annexed by Putin). Eventually, it will become a part of the EU and (maybe) a part of NATO. Exactly what Russia doesn't want.

    Additionally, the precedent has been set to allow a region to secede. So what of Chechnya now? Of course, a trade of a recalcitrant Chechnya for a willing Crimea is a good one. But Putin can't hide from the precedents he has set, and it will cost him other territories in the long run.

  2. Ah, Stephen, you're so young.
    Putin doesn't need an approval rating in Moscow - and if he did, this would be a far too expensive and dangerous way to get it. And remember, this is the middle of the story. It didn't start with Putin. It started with Obama. What scares me most in this is t he low profile of Obama. It's as though he's been told to sit down and shut up while somebody else runs the show.

  3. Wars are fought for all kinds of reasons, and I agree that in Russia there is still the need for 'sort of' democratic support. That is certainly a main reason US presidents go to war. The US has far too much to lose in a war with Russia. The government loves the 'threat' of war much more than a war-unless that country has no ability to actually impact the US.

    I would say that there is some truth in both theories. I don't think we have to call the Soviets 'good', just to call the US actions 'bad'. As for Dyer, I wouldn't even put him in the same category as Fisk, but he's correct that it was 'essentially' a non violent overthrow-relatively speaking. Although the hypocrisy is well evident-in a place like Canada, just the act of protest is often called violent. People were horrified that a couple of people set some police cars on fire. Oh the humanity....STUFF was burnt. But the police attack, well, thats just them doing their job.

    Good stuff though, the only other thing I differ about a bit is Shediac, which has NEVER exactly been pristine and this reads more like "we don't want trailer park people moving into Shediac". Maybe its NOT that, but it certainly sounds like it, and a campground hardly seems like hard core environmental damage done to make a buck. But I know squat about the issue, so just saying.

    Finally, I don't know whether you remember Robert Hunter, I'm assuming you do, but anyway he actually had a tv show back in the day when he essentially did what you do (probably). He sat at his kitchen table (in his bathrobe usually) and did an analysis (or just criticized) the local print media.

    I think you should think seriously about setting this up on a medium that more people are into. Youtube is where its at, and I think that a lot of people would check this out. I'm not going to get into the differences between audio and video, lots of people just listen to youtube, so really there is both.

    Think about it.

  4. There are a lot of solid graphic novels out there. A few recommendations, Guy Delisle, Joe Sacco

  5. I was just doing some research and it seems there has ALWAYS been a lot of conflict as to the identity of those who fired on protesters. This is from February:

    "According to Estonia's Foreign Minister, most in Kiev believe these snipers disguised as police were hired by the new government to shoot at both protesters and real police"

    "100 people were shot dead in cold blood by snipers. I saw Berkut members (Ukrainian security force) who clearly weren't from Berkut with automatic kalashnikovs shooting at people in the crowd, one after the other, at Maidan Square, and then they turned back and started shooting at Berkuts... we must investigate this."

    ~ Inna Bohoslovska

    So while I don't dismiss any theories, I think its a mistake to try to dumb down social events we really don't have answers for and say it fits into a particular storyline-on the government side OR the other side.

    It seems odd to me that one certain hotel would be 'completely under control of the rioters'. "Ok boys, time to riot, which hotel should we book up?"

    And booking up a hotel in order to place snipers in order to shoot your own people in order to blame the other side? Feasible, but definitely has a high burden of proof which we haven't seen yet. In either case, totally agree with the big issues-that Irving press doesn't even cover it, and that its largely a forgotten issue now that the narrative has taken over.

    Yet I don't remember such concerns when Harper and co. had police rounding up G20 protestors. The only real distinction seems to be "well,we don't mind you treating them cruel....just don't KILL them".

  6. I won't listen to another word of criticism of that nice man Harper.

    If you're going to use snipers (and somebody certainly did) and you're going to shoot from any building, i'd certainly make sure it was secure So I don't find that part hard to believe.
    As for killing your own side? We're dealing with people who are quite ruthless.
    But you're quite right. We're never going to get proof. And even if we do get proof, it won't have much effect on thinking. Arguments over which side is right are always like that.
    That's why today I wrote about the question that never seems to get raised. With the exception of 1812, Canada has spent its history fighting other people's wars. (with the exception of 1812). The US has fought wars only for itself.
    To ensure that we will fight others' wars, our news media have manipulated us. The first, striking example was the Boer War, one that had nothing whatever to with Canada ( or bringing democracy or building schools for little girls.)
    The result has been a very casual gong to war - as Harper has shown in sending jets though parliament hasn't yet authorized a war.
    I don't see what we possibly have to gain in a Ukraine war. We would be going to war to sustain a government which took power illegally, and is well stocked with Naziis.
    Arguing who is good and who is bad is hopeless. Both sides are pretty bad. We should be arguing about whether we should be involved in that at all.
    And before somebody says we have to go to war if NATO does - nonsense. NATO has no legal authority to order anybody to go to war. That sort of decision comes under international law and the UN charter.

  7. Well, come on! I think the US proved that international law and the UN charter have about ZERO to do with going to war. Even with a trade pact a country can't be 'forced' to go to war, but they often do.

    There is a big difference between saying a building is secure and saying that rioters 'were in control of it'. Those are two very different things. Just like they are very different things to say that the US was circulating flyers and doing activist training and then saying they were paying for snipers to shoot at civilians (and security apparantly). We certainly know they are ruthless, but it is a pretty big statement, and while I don't believe the statements from one end of the spectrum, I don't believe them from the other either. In either case I think you are right, its not important, but not because we may never know, but simply because its an internal conflict which has been repeated all over the world and Canada doesn't suddenly jump on its moral high horse. "Hey hey, you don't go shooting people! You harass them, intimidate them, arrest them, rob them of their rights, and make their life hell until they give up!"

    The 'theory' that the US wants Ukraine so it can put more rockets there is a bit spurious as well. Like you say, Russia doesn't want Ukraine, its a basket case. Likewise, the US has no interest in Russia, ITS a basket case. The US has bases all over the place in the region, they really don't need more in Ukraine.

    But that aside, I'm perplexed about your notions about canada. I'll just mention a couple of things I know from history, first, canada was also a haven for anti semitism, that's pretty well known. Second, I remember reading a long time ago about a british delegation who came to canada during the war and were aghast at the amount of war profiteering that went on. CD Howe used the occasion to completely re engineer Canada's manafacturing industries, all while maritime factories were closed down. People like Irving were handsomely rewarded and given crown land in order to sell plywood to aircraft makers. And on and on.

    War profiteering goes on in Canada just as well as every other country. Again, at least in the states during their fiasco we could read all about Haliburton and how billions disappeared-and who they disappeared to. In Canada there is no such coverage, and I don't think anybody has even ASKED where all the money went.

    But there are definitely people who benefit when, for example, the canadian government does a deal for armoured carriers to be sent to Saudi Arabia, one of the worst human rights abusers. IF Canada goes to war then plainly the massive number of ukrainian immigrants in the west has something to do with it, and the billions that go to arm and supply the military certainly benefits the same type of people in Canada as in the US.

  8. I'm not sure why you're perplexed about my notions of Canada. They seem to be pretty much the same as mine.

  9. What I meant was you seemed to indicate that for some reason Canada went to all these wars for reasons that had nothing to do with what is good for 'Canada', but just in support for other people. Thats what it reads like anyway.

    Wars are great in countries to boost national self interest, they provide opportunities for government intervention into the economy, which is often necessary, and provide perfect opportunities, as we saw after 9/11, for government to clamp down on protest within their own borders.

    Canada goes to war for the same blatant self interest as the US.

  10. Canada had no self interest in the Boer War. Any self-interest was restricted to the very wealthy.

    It had to interest in World War 1. Constitutionally, it could have stayed out - as the US did - and serve its self interest at no cost by selling weapons to Britain.

    Ditto in World War 2. Mackenzie King didn't want war at all, and his first hope was that Canadian troops could be used for simply garrison duties. That's why he sent some to Hong Kong.
    Canada had no stake in Afghanistan. That was helping the US fight a war.

  11. I would have thought it was obvious to you that it is the 'self interest of the very wealthy' that determines public policy-even, or especially war.
    The US wasn't part of the british empire in 1914. I haven't read ANYWHERE that Canada could have simply 'elected' to stay out of the war, any more than Scotland could have.
    Most politicians don't want war,actually, they don't care about war, they don't like how it looks when people start dying. Like I said, most elected leaders are puppets of the wealthy class. What King felt personally is irrelevant, just like when Bennett was PM he felt bad about the poverty, reduced to mailing out 20 dollar cheques, but there was no way that any government programs were going to be initiated. IF King felt that strongly, the simple thing would be to NOT enter the war.
    In Afghanistan it was a NATO action, and Canada is usually the US' sidekick. Canada as always, had a stake, Canada is the biggest, or one of the biggest, suppliers of armaments to the US military. If Canada had elected to stay out, that trade would be jeopardized.

    And the war created the opportunity for even more trade. Like I said, these decisions are made in Canada by the powerful interests just like in the US. It certainly would be NICE if we could all vote in a referenda whether we should pursue various aggressive actions, but again, this is power solely in the hands of the executive, and its pretty obvious who pulls his strings.