Wednesday, April 23, 2014

April 23: actually, I'm starting this on the night of April 23...

You see, I thought retirement was a time of taking it easy. That's a dirty lie. I've never been busier in life. And April 23 is going to be a very busy day what with a doctor's appointment, and exercise class and the blog. With that sort of pressure, I find it hard to maintain my schedule of cleaning the apartment once every two months (or so).

Anyway, it's getting really tough to say much about the TandT in recent weeks. There's just nothing in it. And it's hard to write about nothing every day.

So I'll start with answering some comments. It can be a usefully humbling experience.
1. I was wrong about the power of the PM and cabinet to declare war on their own. Not confused. Not misleading. Just wrong. They can do it.
2. to Mikel, don't worry about rankling me. I'm unranklable, (It took me just half a day of teaching kindergarten realize that getting rankled was fatal.)
3. The current government of Pakistan permits drone attacks, so the US can get away with doing them to that country. But I wonder about the legality under international law of allowing a foreign government to kill its own people,  In any case, the drones are not used just in Pakistan. So that makes use of them an act of war in the other countries.
In fact, US attacks on other countries in various forms are so common that it is hard to know how a court would deal with it.
4. As to Canadian jets being in Poland - it doesn't matter where they are or what there official reason is for being there. If a war starts, we would almost certainly find it effectively impossible to pull out the jets. They would have to stay with NATO forces. Now, I think we can safely say they would not be sent to attack Ukraine. So what would they be used for? Russia. And presto, we're in a war. And even if we used them only in Ukraine, just having them in a war environment means we would be sucked into that war.

Nor is this a good time to go to war. Harper has badly neglected the armed forces.
He has used tensions in Ukraine and Israel to win the next election. To get votes, he has made promises we cannot keep, and he has tied us to causes that are none of our business.

The Israeli government must have found his speeches about Canada's love for Israel hilarious. Canadians may not know what Canada did for Jews in WW2. But Israelis know. Canada didn't lift a finger. In fact, it discriminated heavily against European Jews.  I was friends with a couple from Berlin. They were at a Nazi rally about 1937, and decided it was time to get out.

Both Canada and the US turned them down - as they did throughout WW2 and even after. Luckily for my friends, they were pretty well off, so they could afford to bribe Canadian immigration officials. But it took most of their money to do it.

Harper is extremely irresponsible in using foreign affairs as simply a device to win votes in the next election.

5. Don't count the US out yet? With most incomes falling even as the very rich make their biggest profits in history, with the needs of he poor neglected in order to spend more money (and more corruption) on defence, with American business leaving the US to get hold of cheap labour anywhere they can get a trade treaty, with even the American government planning how to deal with domestic uprisings, with American foreign policy leaving a trail of chaos and destroyed nations all over the world, and with a class of the very wealthy who don't seem to care about the damage and hardship they are causing, I don't think the American empire will take nearly as long as the Roman one to collapse.
Nor do I see any attractive prospects for a successor.
6. Am I anti-American? No. Why should I be? Most Americans are not hungering for world conquest or advocating mass murder. Most Americans are very similar to us and, indeed, to most people in this world.
I would have had words at least as  harsh about the British and their empire if I had been living in 1870. I would be as harsh about Canadians and their abysmal treatment of native peoples for centuries.

Us humans are a lot like each other. The distance between us and a Hitler is not so great as we may think.

And so to bed with my evening glass of diet ginger ale, a recognized aid to health for the retired.


Now, it's April 23. And the TandT actually has 2 reports on Ukraine. Both are useless. Both tell us a great deal about what is wrong with journalism.

Speaking to Joe Biden, Ukrainian prime minister Yatsenyuk said, "No country should be able to  behave like an armed bandit....(Russia) should not behave like armed bandits."

This is just mindless blathering that tells us nothing about the situation. Russia should not behave like armed bandits? Hey! This is the guy who not long ago used violence, and a lot of it, to overthrow the legal, elected government of Ukraine.

Russia should not behave like armed bandits? Hey! He was talking to the vice-president of the US, the world's most heavily armed, aggressive, and murderous nation.

Terrorists, he says, "...are beginning to torture and kill Ukrainian patriots.....they are ..rejecting the calls... of all the world's society"

What rubbish! Two Ukrainians were tortured and killed. He was saying this to Joe Biden, the Vice-President of the world's  biggest torturer..

And all the world's society is calling?  If so, it certainly is calling very, very quietly. In fact, it is far too early for us even the guess what "all the world's society" thinks.

"The State Department says Kerry urged Russia to tone down the rhetoric. Actually, I've read far, far more rhetoric from the US, particularly from Kerry..

Bidden called on the President and PM of Ukraine to be the voice for rights and freedoms. These are the people who showed their opinion of democratic rights and freedoms when they overthrew the democratcally elected government of Ukraine.

The isn't reporting. This is propaganda passing on the brainless rhetoric of our side. That's not what reporting is supposed to do. It is supposed to inform us on what's happening.

For example, Ukraine is known to be, politically, a very mixed kettle of fish with an emphasis on the far right. News media should be telling us who the main groups are.  News media should be informing us about the Ukrainian Nazi party which seems to have considerable influence in the new government. News media should be explaining to us why so many Ukrainian troops have defected to the Russian side..

But, reading that story from The Associated Press, we learn nothing whatever about what is going on in Ukraine

It would also be nice if our news media were to tell us about the testimony of the US assistant secretary of state so a Congressional committee, the one in which she is said to have confessed that the US spent over five billion dollars and five years organizing the recent overthrow of the Ukraine government. This, unlike political blathering, could be useful information.

The other Ukraine story is of a speech by the Russian ambassador to the Empire Club here in Canada, a group heavily composed of businessmen.

Read what he says carefully - which won't take long because what he said is only half the story. In his speech there was not - certainly not in this report - even a hint of threat. He also made a statement that makes a good deal of sense. "What started out as an anti-corruption  revolution was hijacked by nationalists with a very (anti-Russian) agenda."

I don't know whether that's true. But it's far the most credible explanation I've heard..

Over half of the story was devoted to how the business audience acted like a collection of louts. That's not surprising. Business audiences will listen to an Irving, hear him say nothing,  cheer him and go kiss-kiss-kiss. Then they yell insults at a speaker they aren't afraid of.

The story also quoted two of the businessmen who were at the meeting.  I  have no idea why they were quoted. Neither seemed to experts of any sort. One them, with a unique sense of the meaning of freedom, found it was odd that the ambassador should have been allowed to speak. He also said, as though it meant something, "We heard what they want people to think."

Well, yeah, flash - and that's what you hear when Obama speaks - or any speaker I ever heard of.

Two stories - that tell us nothing at all.
Bizarre. Norbert has a column on how our distrust of science and government puts our world at risk. Yes, indeed.  Norbert, have you never noticed that you work for a press that is a leader is spreading distrust of science and  government. You are particularly fond of foaming at the mouth about government.

Then he says we should not make scapegoats of the rich, and blame them for all this. Yeah, I think it's just terrible the way people have been picking on the rich. But the Irving Press and wealthy oilmen have been leaders  in working to discredit science, and to discredit government. So a little criticism might be useful.

The op ed columns are worth reading only if you are terminally bored and have lots of time to spare.

Alec Bruce has a fascinating column. It seems us modern folks share 99% of the DNA of neanderthal man. But in the 1% we do not share, there are great differences - and they appear to affect the brain.

Now, as Bruce says,  his is very new stuff, and we really don't know much about it. But, possibly, our brains go haywire more easily that did those of the neanderthals. One possible effect of that is our willingness to take risks that can often be very foolish and destructive.

Climate change, environmental destruction, the desire to dominate the world, the worship of greed in big business........yes, it all comes under the heading of foolish and destructive. And, since we lack any serious news of it, our tendency to foolish risk-taking may be the best explanation we will ever get of what is going on in Ukraine, and of why capitalism is digging its own grave.

The next two days look tricky with lots of appointments, jobs to do, etc. I'll try for a blog each day - but can't be sure.

1 comment:

  1. Your heads above most bloggers and media just for admitting when your wrong. I haven't got a big head, I researched most of that, I had vague suspicions, but I like online debate because I have to research stuff and learn, well, almost everything that way now.

    The comments about the US were just to save you some time. I think most people, even americans, know of what you speak about US foreign policy. If they don't, they aren't likely to be reading your blog about how bad mainstream media is because they've swallowed every line.

    As for legality and international law, thats my point about 'not counting out the US'. It makes no difference about their economy or population, the fact is they've got a military ten times the size of the next competitor and thats all that matters. In researching about drone strikes, its pretty obvious that the President and even Congress are merely plastic cutouts.

    Just for Pakistan they made the point that the US doesn't even seem to care if they hit their targets. Its quite clear that this is simply more of a different kind of chest thumping-"we don't even have to come to your country to get you". There are lots of stories about Iraq, but few people actually have READ the document by Rove, Rumsfeld, et al. It had NOTHING to do with oil, its was clearly meant to send a message to the world. Thats how it was planned and executed. The state department clearly stated that it was meant to be the FIRST war of aggression in the region.

    But I don't think you can use the argument "IF there is a war then we'll have to use the jets" to properly term sending the jets an 'act of war'. Actually, I think 'wars' are a thing of the past, I doubt any leader will call it that anymore. Even 'aggression' as defined by the UN is 'state sponsored', so in Ukraine the US simply says "what, WE never did anything, its those guys we give money to"

    I agree with you about Harper and the war, that sort of thing sells well at the polls. One failing for Harper though is that the vast majority of Ukrainian immigrants are in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, which aren't likely to vote for Trudeau anyway. The east and far west is still on the fence as to what this whole thing is about and whether its worth the effort. So all Harper gains is votes he was going to get anyway.