Saturday, August 30, 2014

August 30: understanding the news.

At last, the front page  (for August 31) had a headline that caught my eye. "Metro schools to target absenteeism". It seems the Moncton area schools are going to deal with absenteeism as something that requires discovering the cause, not just punishing the absentee student. And that's good thinking.

The reasoning is that absenteeim is common among children who  lack  "....certain internal developmental assets such as commitment to learning, positive values and social competencies" - as well as support, empowerment, and boundaries and expectations.

That certainly spoke to me because I was missing all the above in my spree of absenteeism.I was a lower, working class kid in a district in which nobody even thought of going to university. There was no expectation of it in my family; I cannot remember having positive social values, or any social competencies at all. But the only reaction of the school system was a summons to the principal's office one day in grade eleven when he summed up my record and my future. "You have no brains at all, Decarie. It's time to get out and find a job.."

It's nice to see metro schools taking a more productive approach.

The rest of the paper I found less satisfactory. Let's start with the foreign news.

The foreign news in almost all North American news media is propaganda, bigotry and bias. I thought of that as I ploughed through the National Post a few days ago, reading a story about the Russian "invasion" of Ukraine. (I put invasion into quotation marks because there is still no clear evidence of an invasion.There might very well be one - but you don't report until you know it.)

Now the National Post has always been near-hysterical in its rants of  prejudice, hatred and lying. But this was a particularly obvious case -and it has become standard practice across North America. That's the result of concentration of ownership (as in New Brunswick) all over North America The only exception for any significant news medium is CBC - and it has to watch its step for fear of the Harper axe.

It's a little worse in the Irving Press because of the sheer sloppiness of choice of foreign news worth reporting. Yes,  sloppiness, perhaps made worse by what appears to be a profound ignorance of foreign matters on the part of the Irving editors.

Reporting on the Ukraine is particularly incoherent.

We are told, for example, that our interest in the Ukraine is to defend democracy. Come off it. Nobody goes to war to protect democracy. In any case, Ukraine is one, very iffy democracy. It is the result of street mobs in Kiev overthrowing the elected government. So the US began this affair by supporting the street mobs, and then supporting their illegal "government".  In any case, the US is scarcely a poster boy for those who want to preserve democracy anywhere. It has destroyed democracies as a matter of routine. When the Egyptian military wanted to destroy the democratically elected government in Egypt to restore military rule, the US supplied money and equipment. Nor was there a word of criticism from the North American press.

It is at least implied in almost every report that Putin is a "bad man". I have no doubt he is. But so is Bush (both of them). But I have never seen a press report that says that. (I'm not sure where Obama is in the good/bad parade. My guess is that he is largely irrelevant). No, if we want to get any understanding, we have to re-understand our notions of how the world works.

1. Nations go to war for the interests of the major power in the nation. The major power in the US is concentrated in a very wealthy upper class who need war to extend their power.
2. The major power in Russia is concentrated in a very wealthy upper class who need war to extend their power.
3. In the US, this upper class also includes the military-industrial complex which needs war and fear of war to keep the contracts flowing.
4. In Russia, this upper class also includes the military-industrial complex which needs war and fear of war to keep the contracts flowing.

The last thing either the US or Russia wants is an effective UN and international rule of law. That would interfere with the upper class industrialists who need to commit crime and disorder to get richer. For the same reason, those wealthy upper classes have no wish to encourage democracy. It would challenge their power.

In short, the leading industrialists in North America and Europe operate precisely as the mafia does.

No, let's look at Ukraine from the start - the mob uprisings in Kiev. Was that Putin's doing? Hardly likely. The government of the time was his ally. However, the whole purpose of American foreign policy is to extablish American dominance, both economic and military, over the whole world. It's not a secret. It's been public information for at least 15 years on the web, "Project for the New American Century". That's not a debating point. That's a fact. It's there. And it was drawn up by prominent, right wing Americans like Dick Cheney who have always been public about their views. It's the reason why Iraq and Afghanistan were invaded. It's the reason why the US supports the "rebels' in the Syrian civil war - part of a general policy of dividing countries to make them small, weak, and ineffectual.

Remembering all that, consider....

There's no proof, but let's assume that relatively small numbers of Russian troops are in Ukraine. (The numbers would have to be small. If they were large, it would be an easy matter to supply proof.)

Did Putin send them? It hardly seems likely. He has so far worked pretty hard to avoid involvement, probably because the risks are far too great. That seems to be Obama's take, too, especially now that  he has ISIS to worry about.

But the very, very wealthy of the US who control virtually all the news media seem to want a war. That's why their reports are highly critical of Russia - but never of the US or the Kiev government.

And Canada is there. Why? Harper lavishes praise on the Ukrainians. Why? Most Canadian know almost nothing about Ukraine. Why on earth would they care what's happening there?.

They've never heard from most of our press about the strong, Nazi sympathies that live on in Ukraine, the intense racial hatreds that lie behind the civil war, the role of international banking which wants victory for the Kiev side.

But what we have been told over and over is that Putin is evil, that freedom-loving Ukrainians are defending their democracy (which doesn't exist.) Of course, Harper needs us to hate because the US is the only substantial ally we have - and unless we cooperate, it could become a dangerous neighbour.

So we may be sending Canadians to die for democracy - you know, just like they did in Afghanistan.

So - why would Putin send troops into Ukraine? He has just come off extremely successful meetings with the Kiev government. He has avoided strong statements from the beginning. Like, I suspect, Obama, of late, he has tried hard to avoid war.

And the Russian troops, if they were sent, appear to be very small in numbers.

Gee, small in nunbers. They could easily have been sent down by local commanders, defying Putin and obeying orders from Russian industrialists who do want a war. Putin may be losing control - and that won't be good for any of us.

Similarly, there are signs that Obama is losing control. Industrialists don't want democracy and presidents. They want puppets.

The basic idea I have proposed above - that Putin is losing control - is not my idea. I can across it some days ago. However, it seems to me a logical possibility.

It would never  happen in Canada? Just last Saturday, Bill Belliveau's column proposed weakening elected governments, and turning over real power to an unelected group of the very rich. In effect, he proposed a dictatorship by the rich. It's been a common suggestion in the Irving press for all the years I've been reading it.

Am I exaggerating? Well, Read p. A6 for a half page given to the political opinions (with photo suitable for framing) of Bill Whalen, owner of Hawk communications. Why did the paper seek his opinion? Well, he's rich. He's served on lots of committees. (So have I. But the press has never asked by opinion about anything.)

He gives no indication in this long, long interview that he understands anything about the role of government - beyond saving money and bringing in lots and lots of entrepreneurs. And why are we short of money? Well, it's the people, you know. The people in general. They just want too much. Like others of his type, he strongly implies you need to rely on business. Business people really know how to make money. So they do - for themselves. He doesn't mention that business has been running this province's economy for generations.

After the election, J.D. Irving publicly announced he was in coalition with the government. (Do you know what coalition means, Mr Whalen?) He took a direct hand in finance. And, gee, that's what's left us with a deficit.

Entrepreneurs solve problems. Sure. Entrepreneurs dominate many countries in Central America and Africa - and all of them produce nothing but fortunes for the entrepreneurs and eternal poverty for the people. Even the US is struggling with a financial crisis and levels of poverty that our papers seem reluctant to report on.

This is a speech that could have been delivered by Mr. Alward.

No party, no reporter, no editor has talked about the central problems New Brunswick has to deal with. It has to establish real democracy. That doesn't mean just voting. I means being able to run for election without kissing the ring of a billionaire. It means telling the "entrepreneurs" to get their noses out of the work of the people we elect. It means getting honest and full information into the news.

We don't have any of those in New Brunswick. And until we do, no party's programme matters a poop.

Saturday's paper has an excellent op ed column by Brent Mazerolle. It concerns the Tunisian family (converts to Christianity and now living in Dieppe) that is being deported to Tunisia. There they face hell and quite possibly, even death.

Harper has an immigration policy that makes Hitler's look quite generous. Australia is taking in thousands of refugee students from the middle east. Harper talks a great game. But he does as little as possible.

This op-ed is a touching and well-written opinion. Some might wish to bring it to church - and hand it around to the clergy to see if they have the courage or integrity to defy the government and do the Christian thing - offer the family sanctuary in the church.  This sort of action, not those dreadful Sunday school stories we get in Saturday's paper, is what Jesus was about. These people need our help. The Christians of this most submissive province in Canada have to help. A complain to the government is not enough. Christians of this province have to put themselves on the line. Otherwise.....

......the hell with all the pretence. Just go to the Irving chapel with its special music and enjoy the coffee in the barn.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

August 28: TandT misses story of the year! August 27 was my birthday.

Otherwise, it was a very ordinary day for the Irving press. Section A had nothing in it. Typical was a front page story that Moncton returning offices are ready for early-bird voters. Well, yeah. They're supposed to be. It they aren't, then that's a story. But if they are ready, what's the story?

World news amounted to two and a half pages.- and half of it Canadian. But at least the world seemed to be headed for better times  with peace initiatives in the Middle East and in Ukraine. (More on that later.)
The only jarring note came on C10, when Harper blustered about dealing with any Russian threat to the Arctic.It was a bizarre speech. "As we look at the world........we see---the growing strength of people who disdain democracy..... People who...would destroy everything that Canadians hold dear, and have repeatedly fought to protect."

What a crock!
1. Canada could not possibly defend the Arctic against an attack by Russia. We don't have the troops, the ships or the air force to do it.

2. The nation that has most threatened our claim to the Arctic is not Russia. It is the US. It routinely refuses to recognize Canadian sovereignty over the region.

3. The US would certainly defend Canada against a Russian attack (it would have to).    But the price would be high. We'd have to hand the keys to the Arctic to the US.

4. As for the stuff about defending our freedom, only one country has ever threatened our freedom. Has Harper already forgotten his celebration of the War of 1812? And he has obviously forgotten the Fenian raids just after the US civil war, and the US  threats of invasion into the twentieth century..

5. For that matter, who are Harper's imaginary heroes who love democracy? Certainly, it's not the US or Germany or Britain or any of our other allies. It was the guys on our side who supported dictatorship in The Phillipines, South Korea, all over Latin America, - it was the British Empire that denied freedom to millions all over the world, the British and Americans who supported the dictatorship of Chiang Kai-Shek in China, who helped to overthrow the Egyptian attempt at democracy, the Americans who overthrew democratic governments in Guatemala and Haiti....

These speeches of our love for democracy are pure drivel. It is true that some Canadians who fought in Wars one and two did it to save democracy - but neither war was fought to preserve democracy. But not to worry. We and the US are doing a fine job of destroying our democracies without outside help.

Harper is a great one for blustering and shaking his fist. But it's all for votes. he never does anything. Remember his famous trip to Israel and his stirring speeches? But he hasn't done anything. He also promises help to refugees, but never delivers. In a recent case, he is deporting a Tunisian woman back to the chaos of her homeland when, as a Christian, she stands an excellent chance of being murdered.

The editorial and op ed pages are pretty lightweight stuff. It's obvious that Norbert has still read only one book on economics, the one chosen by Mr. Irving. There's crunch coming. So make the poor pay. It's the old story. Let the rich get very, every rich, then all that wealth will filter down to us.

Like hell it will. It never has. It if did Americans would be rolling in prosperity. Instead, a third of all Americans are living on food stamps. No recession has even been solved by making the poor poorer and the rich richer.

So far, all the politicians and pundits are missing what should be the key issues in this election.

1. How do we restore democracy in this province so that the people really do control it?
2. How to we get the very rich out of their dominant and abusive role in the politics of this province.
3. How do we get out of the mess we have created with free trade deals that enable the very rich to exploit poverty and dictatorship in other  countries, to ignore environmental regulations as part of the process, and to avoid paying their share of taxes?
And, oh, what a change (almost)  in Friday's paper!

Section A is still one that would stun a moose in heat.But NewsToday has the story of a nine-year old girl in Arizona who accidentally shot and killed a shooting range employee. He was teaching the girl - nine years old - to shoot an Uzi submachine gun, a type of gun that is difficult for a trained adult shooter to shoot. Luckily for minister of Justice Peter Mackay, press time came too early to fit in to fit in a photo of him wearing a gun nut sweater at the request of a quite extreme Canadian gun group. Smooth move, Peter.

The gun group claims Canadians have a right to have any guns they want. Actually, they don't. No such right exists.

Otherwise, there was almost no news in NewsToday. The world, it seemed. was stabilizing with Russia and Ukraine close to a deal, Israel and Gaza in a cease fire.  But, again, that may just have been the paper went to press a bit early.

The reality is the Russia/Ukraine war is back on - and much more dangerous. The US seems close to committing troops to fight ISIS in Syria. Assad, our ruthless and vicious enemy in Syria is now, it seems, a great guy. There may also be US troops in Iraq to fight Isis  (which is financed by our good friends in Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates who also help the US to finance Al Quaeda which is now, it seems, a bunch of great guys because they're fighting ISIS. And if the US army gets involved in Syria, it will probably use the opportunity to get Assad, and to destroy Syria as a nation. ISIS may also try at least a partial conquest of Turkey using the money it get from its good friends in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates who are also good friends of Turkey.)

It will take a while to sort this out. But, meanwhile, it's a powerful lesson of a great truth. There are no such things as countries that are friends.

It's also possible that Putin is getting more aggressive because he sees the US getting horribly entangled in a mess of its own making.

Editorial and op ed have two, excellent columns by Alec Bruce and Beth Lyons.
The editorial uses the Tim Horton and Burger King story to demonstrate that Moncton is the cheapest city in all Canada to do business in, and says we should lower business taxes even more.

Gee, if we have one of the best investment climates in the world, how come we aren't rich? And how willl making ourselves even poorer make us richer? This is a really dumb editorial.

Rod Allan writes yet another column that screams, "I'm a witty and much-loved guy."
Now let's take a shot at comments that are too long for a blog. But I'll  try a shot at the general idea, and see if it strikes any reader.

When Columbus sailed the ocean blue, he created one hell of a mess. He set off a string of western conquests that destroyed any society they touched. It destroyed the foundations of society - economics, customs, values, religious beliefs. It dragged millions into slavery,adding another level of destruction.

It doesn't take huge changes in a society to trigger a change. When Quebec was conquered by the British, the French turned to the only institution they  had left, the Roman Catholic church. (Despite what some history books say, the French of Quebec were not particularly devout in colonial days.) Then, for some 200 years, it became so dominant in the province that no legislative bill would be declared valid until the bishops approved it.

Nor is the adjustment over yet. The rise of separatism was exactly like the rise of the church - only this time focussed on language. And Quebec is still socially and politically confused. And that is now some 250 years after the experience.

For native peoples across the Americas this is still the case.- though 1492 was a long, long time ago.

Obviously, Harper has not grasped that problem; nor have our news media. After all these years, we are nowhere even close to finding a solution (or solutions.)
African-American slaves had the same sort of problem. It's still there - as we saw in Ferguson, Missouri.

Western empires did the same sort of deep and lasting damage all over the world. And to that damage the west added murder, starvation, brutality, exploitation, humiliation. Don't kid yourself it was all just like Rudyard Kipling said.

Our news media, generally, protect us from seeing that. They call some Muslems terrorists, implying that it's something racial - as if they're born evil. They are not. The are reacting to the terrible experience of seeing all of their beliefs and values destroyed. They are also reacting to massive doses of terror and abuse and murder inflicted on them by the west. (When it comes to terrorism, nobody does as much of it as our side.)

And it's made worse by a rapacious capitalism that is without any moral standards, and has seized control of western governments, including ours.

These are problems that are not going to go away unless we get realistic in dealing with them. That's why we should have a sociological investigation of the murder of Tina Foley, and what it was that created her world. That would be much more useful than sending paramilitaries  wearing camouflage and carrying combat rifles to threaten people.

Meanwhile, we are doing the world no good when we interfere with their governments and the way they want to run their own countries.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 26:

Foreword - Something has been left out of this election. We've heard a bit either for or against shale gas. But there's a towering set of questions to be answered - and we don't have long to ask them.
1. Will SWN be returning to test for gas? I think it almost certain it will - no matter what. Large corporations  operate with no reference to morality at all. They have invested money here. They will certainly defend that investment no matter what any report says.

2. Would either Gallant or Alward set up an honest testing system for the safety of shale gas? Given the record of their parties, one would have to be a fool to believe that.

3. Does SWN have a contract with the province whereby it can sue if a government cancels the deal? Even if it is because fracking is ruled to be extremely dangerous? I should be amazed if it doesn't. We're getting hit now with a big suit now from Windsor. But SWN would probably have a much, much bigger one.
How come the Irving press has never reported on this? How come it's not an election issue?

4. If, in whatever case, SWN goes ahead next summer, how will we respond? Will we again send in para-militaries with combat rifles that can lay down a rapid and deadly fire? Don't kid yourself because these are expert snipers. Those work well when the person to be shot is isolated. But any rifle shot into a crowd is as likely to hit an innocent person as a dangerous one. Indeed, it's more likely to hit an innocent person.

Just one such person killed could put us all in deep trouble. Worse, even one sniper shot, no matter who it hits, could send the whole thing out of control. And the consequences of that would make Ferguson, Missouri look like a kiddie's playground.

Paramilitary groups, like the RCMP emergency squad, go beyond being police They really aren't police to enforce the law. These are soldiers who go to war against the population. You want to think very carefully before you commit them.

5. Next summer is not all that far off. The time to decide how (and if) to handle a protest is now.We should know now what plans all the parties have. To blunder into this as we did last time could, almost certainly would, have consequences we cannot even imagine.

I had put off writing about Tina Foley,  a fifteen year old native girl murdered in Winnipeg, because I did not believe that Stephen Harper would stick with his first reaction of indifference, ignorance and callousness.

Tina Foley is only one of the very high proportion of native women who are murdered or who disappear every year in Canada. This screams for federal action. But Harper shrugged and said the death of Tina Foley  was not a sociological matter but a police one - so he would not be looking at it.

Mr. Harper, you twit, you obviously don't know what sociological means. It is  the study of how people behave and why. Any murder is a sociological matter. And large numbers of murders or disappearances in one group are - or should be - very much a matter of government concern. And it certainly would be a concern for Harper if she had belonged to the right group - say, a bloc of potential Conservative voters - or Conservative fund-raisers. Harper is, God help us, the prime minister of all Canadians. But his reaction to the death of Tina Foley indicates he does not see native peoples as Canadians of any sort.

This man is contemptible in more ways that I can count - politically, morally, socially.... I guess I shouldn't be surprised the Irving press would not notice that.
Patrician Graham, ombudswoman for Irving press, has an op ed column in the paper for June 26. It's a sort of brief, text-book lecture on what a newspaper is.She divides it into news stories, and opinion pieces. So far, so good.

Then she says it has news stories in every section. Well, no. The Irving papers don't. Does she read them?
Section A, which should be the prime news section is mostly trivia. We've have four straight issues with the story (mostly pictures) of the Moncton air show.

For today, it also has a front page story on "Metro ponders merger of Burger King, Tims". (which should read Tim or Tim's). What's to ponder? There's nothing much in the story except interviews with a few people who drink coffee and eat doughnuts, and few who drink soft drinks and eat burgers.

The Times and Transcript normally has no significant news in section one, just trivia - and lots and lots of photos of trivia.

The NewsToday section for September 25 has two pages of nothing much news - and another of those damn pages of photos of the air show. That's it.

And I really would question the impartiality  that the ombudswoman speaks so highly of. In the only news story of any substance in the whole paper, the headline says "Islamic extremists capture Syrian air base.".

Well, they certainly do have an extreme view of their religion that drives them to war. And what drives us to war?

Usually, it's the extreme view of economics held by big business. Our side is led by capitalist extremists who think it's okay to kill people by  the millions in order to get control of their resources. But when have you seen a headline saying "Extreme capitalists invade Iran"? (Or Vietnam or Libya or Afghanistan or Haiti or Guatemala?)

The August 26 issue sets a new record for NewsToday. It has just one page of news., and over half of that page is trivia. The only important story dances around the major piece of news in the day's paper, "Ukraine leader dissolves parliament". So let's see.

Ukraine had a legally elected government which was overthrown, almost certainly with massive, US help. So then we saw an illegally appointed government which the US immediately welcomed into the world of democracy.

Then the illegal government called an illegal election, supposedly to establish democracy.And now that elected government has resigned, partly because too many of the elected members were sympathetic to the Russian-speaking people of Ukraine. (Uh, isn't that saying that the voters made a mistake, and have to think again?)  The story makes no mention of the substantial representation of fascist and even nazi parties that are prominent among supporters of the government.

Then the ombudswoman switches to the editorials which, she says, represent the opinion of the newspaper.
(More correctly, they represent the opinions of just the editors who a) have never shown any special ability to have an opinion about anything and who b) have never said a word that would displease anyone named Irving.

For a sample of the level of insight at the editorial level, look down to the abysmal column of former editor, Norbert. He says it is foolish to try to revive an economy by government spending. (It's foolish, he says, because "our history tells a different story.")

Norbert, read some history. Government spending  (on the war) is precisely what got us out of the great depression and into several generations of prosperity. Government failure to spend combined with business failure to spend is what made the depression so brutal.

You can't revive an economy by starving the population. It simply doesn't work. What happened in the 1930s is that business exploited the poor by paying low wages for long hours, by cancelling pensions, and so making its biggest profits in history while everybody else suffered.

Exactly the same thing is happening today - only worse. Now, business has free trade deals that enable it to pay even lower wages to those in the world's poorest countries. And these are also countries with no environment regulations, no public services, no rights.... We see very little in our news about the brtutality and suffering we impose on their people.

We can never again have prosperity in this country if we continue to allow big business to destroy services, hold back wages, cut pensions. What you get from that is a huge shift of wealth from almost everybody to the very, very rich. They take. But they don't give. Most especially, they don't give taxes. They just keep it or put some of it into desperately poor countries with great benefit to themselves.

Where does that take us? Well, when we wake up, it takes us to violence - which is most likely to produce some form of nationalist fascism. And it takes capitalism to its own destruction.

The ombudswoman also assures us that the op ed page is a wonderful place for opinion. Well, let's see.This time, both of the lead op ed pieces are by editors - so we have a double thrill of wisdom and insight facing us.

Alas! Both are shallow and trivial.

The final blow is a letter to the editor from a reader who has been brainwashed into the local worship of entrepreneurs. (Such a lovely word, conjuring visions of clear thinkers, daring minds. The letter calls them problem solvers -  unlike politicians who just react to problems). This reflects a drift of the Irving press to dismantling democracy so we can be governed a new aristocracy of wealth (with the help of a lower order who like to call themselves entrepreneurs because it sounds sexier.)

Come off it.  Our entrepreneurs did not pull us out of the depression of the '30s. Our government did that. In the US, entrepreneurs did not bring reasonably priced health care to the  population. In fact, they made the problem worse. The problem was solved in Canada not by an entrepreneur but by a clergyman/politician.

The power of big entrepreneurs in Canada and the US has never solved any problems. In fact, it is the cause of a very dangerous poverty problem, especially in the US. Our biggest problem has been the drift of money from most of us to a tiny number of very rich. Far from solving that problem, entrepreneurs are the ones who caused it.

Save that letter for a speech at the next Rotary luncheon.

I really want to write a bit about the growing chaos in the world, from the case of Tina Foley to the rise of ISIS. But I spent time on the Irving press today because it was so stinkingly bad. I will, I promise, do it next time.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

August 23: let's be nice....

,,,,just for the start.

Friday's regular Whatever section with columns written by high school and university students always has some of the best writing in the paper. All of those students have loads of potential; and it must be a pleasure to teach any of them. But today's columns blew my socks off. ....especially two of them who not only have potential but are already writing to excellent journalism standards.

One of them is Aureli Pare who writes on general health. The other is Isabelle Agnew who, particularly for this week, wrote a WOW! column. It was on the death of Robin Williams - and for insight and courage and conveying meaning to her audience, it beats anything I have seen in any news medium.

Both columns are aimed at teens. But both are excellent reading for anybody of any age.
Now for Section A in Thursday's editions.This one is a wipe out. The main focus is pimping for the weekend's air show. It's mostly pictures.

The only item of importance is an ad for this Sunday's service at the Irving Chapel. Everything will be high class, and with special music (whatever that might mean.) You're invited. Everybody will be there. Except God.

There is almost no foreign news. Nothing happening in the world, I guess. So a big front page story for NewsToday is that the tooth fairy pays more for teeth in the maritimes than any other part of Canada.

There's a story that Harper sees a similarity between the beheading of an American journalist in Iraq and the Taliban in Aghanistan. Both, the wise one says, controlled large territory and both were havens for terrorists. That's, I presume, to indicate a reason for us to take military action.

Hint for Harper - the Taliban still control large territory. The trillion dollar war against Afghanistan was a failure. But it's nice of him to hint what it was about, and why we sent Canadians to die there. (Though if it was so crucial to Canada, it's hard to understand why we pulled out early.)

He also says it was a training ground for terrorist all over the world. Gee. That's the same reason the US gave for attacking. They said the Taliban was behind 9/11. But there's no evidence whatever to support that. The FBI admitted years ago there was no evidence. I guess it takes Harper a while to catch onto the news.

And the violence in Iraq is "unspeakable barbarism". Bang on, Stevie baby. When the US  is violent, it's never barbaric. It says please and thank you when it drops bombs on civilians and babies, and turns them into mincemeat. when it drops tons of napalm to set living people on fire, when it dropped thousands of tons of agent orange on Vietnam, setting up decades of horrible disfigurement among newborns who don't live long.

It's so much more genteel to be killed by Christians.
The editorial babbles that we are facing the most important provincial election in fifty years. And then it sets out a list of priorities that could have been written by Mr. Irving himself. (or by Dr. Savoie who has never, ever disagreed with anything said by an Irving.) As for the fifty years part, read some New Brunswick history. This province has been ruled by its wealthy class since before it was a province.

Norbert is just absurd. He thinks we should all spoil our ballots. But be patient, he gets even more absurd and juvenile in the Saturday edition.

Alec Bruce has an important column on our need to protect drinkable water. He's thinking in the context of resource development. I'll just add to that. Climate change scientists predict extended dry times for much of the US.Within months, major cities, like Los Angeles, could run out of water. And guess who has the world's largest reserves of fresh water.

Yep. It's us. But any mass transfer of that water could severely damage out supply, and with devastating effects on our environment. It's also possible to run out of even the world's largest supply. I've seen no mention of any plans for this.

If we aren't generous enough, would the US just take it by force? Nah. The US does that only if the year is 1812 or if you aren't really, really white.

David Suzuki is his usual self - and that's pretty good.

Suzuki, Bruce, Pare and Agnew are the only bright spots in an edition that is stinking even by Irving standards.

Saturday's Section A has nothing worth looking at unless you really, really like pictures of airplanes.

Things must be quiet in the rest of the world because there's almost no foreign news in NewsToday.

There's an Associated Press story on the Russian convoy entering Ukraine, dropping off its supplies, and leaving.  The story is typical of the reporting we're getting in North America. It's loaded with hints that this is all part of an evil, Russian plot - though there is not the slightest evidence it is.

We are told that Associated Press journalists following the convoy could hear cargo rattling around inside some of the trucks - AHA! Proof that those evil Russians have a plot. There is no mention that Red Cross inspectors checked the cargoes and approved them. Nor is there any mention that Ukraine border guards had a week to inspect the trucks, didn't do it, and made it clear they never would inspect them or let them pass.

The US promptly condemned this  (brutally violent) delivery of humanitarian aid.

So what we have is a Ukraine in which the legally elected government was illegally overthrown, and the new, unelected government held an illegal election. The US, the European Union and big talk/no action Harper recognized the illegal government (the first one) in the shortest time I had ever heard of for recognizing a government.  Can you add two and two? If so, share your wisdom with the editors of the Irving press.

The rest of the section is mostly statements from the the five parties running for the provincial election. Not one of them has a word to say about the key problem. How do we get this province back from big business? How do we establish a democracy? Without that, nothing is going to change.

Oh, there's also a dumb statement by Harper that we have to defend our North against Russia because it uses military power to take resources.

Gee! The US would never use military power to take resources. It has many hundreds of military bases all over the world. But those are to help people. Anyway, the only serious threat to our control of the north is the US which has, for years, refused to recognize that the north is Canada's, and has routinely denied recognition of Canada's rights by sending ships through disputed waters without Canadian permission.

Oh, I know Americans are our friends. But the kind of people who control the US and who want the resources of the north would kill their own mothers to get them.
The editorial page is beneath contempt. Belliveau is particularly out of touch with any reality. He feels we should ignore the people we elect, and plan the economy with our best and brightest minds - by which he clearly means business executives, professionals, etc.
1. We did that last time remember? Mr. Irving set up a conference to plan for New Brunswick's economic future using our "best and brightest" minds. He then used that to announce that he was now a member of the government -and he interfered in the appointment of advisers to the minister of finance.

It was these "best and brightest" minds that set up the crisis we're in.

2. To suggest that we should set up a system of rule based on  business executives, etc. is to suggest that democracy doesn't work, and we should get rid of it. Mr. Belliveau is advocating a dictatorship of wealth. He should think this over for his Nov. 11 column when he can point out how foolish it was for anyone to go to war for something as silly as democracy.

3. There is not the slightest reason to believe that business executives have a clue about how to run a provincial economy. All their training is to make money for themselves. That's it. And that's not at all the same as running a provincial economy. And that's really the only training they have.

By the way, I would dearly love to see the academic credentials that these "brilliant minds" have. What degrees does J.D. Irving have besides honorary ones?

4. Such a committee would be in conflict of interest. Business interests have a big stake in getting chunks of our forest, in developing shale gas no matter what the dangers, in spending public money on an events centre no matter what the cost, in keeping people poor so that their  labour is cheap, in depriving them of health care by privatizing it.....

Mr. Belliveau, these wealthy vampires have been sucking the blood out of this province for years. The reason we have a financial mess is because they created it. If we want to fix things, then we should start by getting them out of their interference with government.

Mind you, if they want to sponsor a study programme on how to be born rich, I'd certainly sign up.

I"m not as optimistic as Gwynne Dyer is about the Israeli/Palestinian situation. Israel is quite determined to destroy Palestine by killing and/or driving its people to become refugees. The same fate is planned for those Palestinians who are Israeli citizens.

Israel wants religious (racial) purity in its boundaries. And it wants "living room". (Check the German word for living room, and guess who used the term to justify a war.) The living room comes by annexing parts of Palestine, kicking out the Palestinians and giving their lands to Israelis.

Meanwhile, it keeps the screws on the Palestinians by controlling all their borders, including the sea coast, and its harbours, effectively blocking trade and even food and medical supplies to maintain poverty and despair.

Anyone who says Israel is fighting for its life is babbling. There is not the slightest possibility of Palestine defeating it. That's why Hamas keeps fighting. There is no future, no life for Palestine. Better to die fighting.

What we are watching is not a war. It is a genocide.

I know this is long - but it'll just add an intro to something I had said before about the madness of the world - and I linked the middle east, Africa,  Ukraine and Ferguson, Missouri in it.

Part of the madness in pure greed. The world's major powers are not democracies. They are dictatorships, and the dictators are not individuals but a small class of the very, very wealthy. that's true in the US, in Russia, in China..... And what these elites want are resources (like oil, minerals); And they want them cheap, and they want cheap labour. And they do that by force. And they've been doing it as long as recorded history.

When the British Empire was at its most glorious, its very wealthy piled up money and built palaces by invading Africa for its resources - like gold and diamonds and, later oil. And it forced the huge market in China to buy the opium that the British grew with cheap labour in India.

But most of the British lived on in poverty because the very wealthy kept all the money for themselves. This class structure was notable in the army. Common soldiers got pennies a day. Officers, usually the least intelligent sons of very wealthy families, didn't have to worry about money. they could also buy their way up in rank with money and social status. As well, they were issued personal servants, commonly at ten personal servants per officer.

In one disastrous campaign in Afghanistan in which supplies were carried by camel, the commanding officer brought his wife who needed a dozen or so camels for fine wines, household decor, and a chandelier. She also brought along some 70 servants. And there was also a camel just to carry free cigars for the officers.

That helps to explain the dreadful incompetence of much of the British high command in World War 1.

Meanwhile, most of the British lived in industrial cities jammed into slums that often lacked indoor plumbing. Few of the poor ever got to school because they were sent to work as early as age five. Orphaned children were put into workhouses, in effect, prisons where they did nothing but work long hours (Charlie Chaplin spent his childhood in a workhouse.)

For love of money, the very wealthy murdered, enslaved, tortured, starved uncounted numbers all over the world.  (Yes, including the US. Early examples for the US were the Christian missionaries in Hawaii whose families simply took land from the Hawaiian people, then hired them as cheap labour. One of those families was named Dole. It went on to promote invasions of Central American countries like Guatemala.)

Not many years ago, there was a TV show about a bounty hunter who lived in Hawaii. Ever notice that a high proportion of the poor on that show were native Hawaiians? Praise the Lord.

This may not seem to have much to do with the Ukraine and China and Russia and the US. But it's important to understand the power of greed. It has probably killed more people and done more damage to the world than any other single force.

And it's all done by the best sort of people. The balm to their conscience, their escape from the reality of what they are, is their belief in their own importance, and their contempt for anyone who isn't wealthy. It's important to understand how ruthless these people are. Without that understanding, it is not possible to understand current events.

And so we now face the struggle to change all history, to establish one nation as the dominant power in the world. In the US, it even has religious components - US dominance is all a part of God's great plan, or it's a joyful sign that the end of the world is coming and (some of us) will go to heaven.

But there are problems. There is no guarantee of permanence to China's rise. Russia has to struggle between greed and diminishing power. The US is a power in decline because its very wealthy class has been allowed to run wild, and to destroy the national economy.

So - what does this have to do with Ferguson, Missouri - or Rexton, New Brunswick?

It has a great deal to do with them. But the power of greed, the insensitivity to human need, and the self-destructiveness of unregulated capitalism have to sink in. Then, perhaps in my next post, I'll talk about Missouri, New Brunswick and "extremists" all over the world.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

August 21: a sore thumb, and a world gone mad....

It's on page C1 of Wednesday's paper "Rail report targets safety issues." This is the report of a federal commission to determine the causes of the train derailment that killed 47 people in Lac Megantic. It's a disgustingly inadequate report. dumping all the blame for the railway's laxness in enforcing rules, for the poor training it gave its employees, and the terrible inadequacy of its tanker cars. That much one can agree with, of course. But there is more, much more, that should have been there.

Then it blames the engineer, a man who had been driving that train by himself across Canada. He must have been dreadfully tired when he pulled into Lac Megantic. But getting tired is not a crime. The crime was committed by people higher up who decided to use one engineer because it was cheaper (and damn the risk), people who knew the risk of those oil cars but didn't care, and somebody who filed a false cargo manifesto suggesting the oil was of a type less volatile than it really was.

But they'll all dump on the engineer who greatest fault was probably that it was the only job he could find in a USA that has 36% of its population living on welfare.

Forty-seven people were killed because of the drive for profit, for every extra penny that could be saved. And after a year of study, we get a report that tells us nothing we haven't already heard.

Then I noticed a couple of odd things. First, the report was largely a report that appeared in The Canadian Press. So why assign a reporter to cover it? Why not just print the CP report?

Then there's the quotation that sticks out like a sore thumb. In column two, the story says,  "...Irving Oil Ltd. said it has co-operated with the Transportation Safety Board throughout its investigation. Well, goody, goody for Irving Oil Ltd for obeying the law in an investigation into why one of its shipments killed 47 people. (I mean - they must have cooperated - because, well, a spokeswoman said so.)

However, reporters and investigative committees are supposed to ask questions. Obviouly, neither reporters nor the commission bothered to do that.

Somebody signed that false manifesto about the cargo. It can only have been someone at Irving. Who was it? Could a false manifesto be a factor in such an accident? (Yes, it could - because a purpose of the manifesto is to warn firemen of the type of cargo that is coming their way.) And now, 47 people are dead.

Did Irving Co. Ltd. cooperate with the investigation enough to say who had signed that manifesto? If so, why doesn't the report mention it?

Another question for the reporter - is it cheaper to ship some kinds of oil than others? Is it cheaper to ship Alberta crude if you say it's something else?

And those old and dangerous oil cars - is it cheaper to ship with them?

Irving Oil, we are  told by the TandT, is run by brilliant minds that have been shipping vast quantities of oil for years. In fact, it has its own railway connections, so it knows plenty about railways.. Which of those brilliant minds decided to ship (under a false label) highly volatile crude oil? Which decided to choose a railway with a well known bad record for safety? Which decided to accept the use of old and dangerous oil cars? Which decided it was a great idea to have only one engineer for that long trip?

Was their extra profit to be produced by any of this?

And where the hell  has Transport Canada been for the years this has been going on?

Forty-seven people are dead.  I got a tougher review than this when I faked an absence from school note. The report seems designed to avoid the real questions and to place the  blame on those low on the totem pole. It also seems designed to paint Irving Co. Ltd. as the good guys.

This is a disgusting report to come from a government board, and disgusting coverage of it from a newspaper. We should be demanding to know the whole story of why 47 people died. What we're getting is a whitewash of Irving Co. Ltd.
a small point - the TandT seems lately to have adopted an awkward style of writing  sub heads (a  sentence in medium print just below the headline). C1 has an example, Shooting, As protests rage, U.S. president struggles to defuse tensions.) What that means is that the president is trying to defuse tensions by shooting at people. Putting a comma after shooting does not change that.

The front page (A section) tells you all you need to know about Moncton city planning. Council is encouraging a 1950s style urban sprawl development. Not only is this  expensive in supplying services, it also increase urban sprawl in province that already has the heaviest private car dependence in Canada.

But this ain't 1950. The future is going to be very different from the one we saw then. Great planning, council.
Norbert is still on his cut the budget rant. (He read a book.) There are two things he hasn't even thought of.
1. Where do you cut? The only area he talks of cutting is services to us peasants. He hasn't even mentioned that the big, budget loss is in services we give to the rich.
2. He doesn't mention the fact that if we elect either the Liberals or the Conservatives, the budget will be determined by the same man who have been setting our budgets for some years, Mr. Irving. As always, the wealthy will  bleed everybody else to make themselves richer. That's why the real issue in this election is not the budget. It's getting our province and our lives back from those who have created the mess we're in. (of course, that would also mean getting newspapers that tell the truth.). That's the only way we'll  get democracy in this province. And the only way we'll make change.

For a world in chaos, the most important thing Eric Lewis can think of writing about is a column on the favourite music store of his acne years. Brian Cormier has an inspiring story about buying coffee.

The only intelligent thing in this whole paper is Alec Bruce's column.

On Thursday's front page, it has happened. New Brunswick, the province that can't afford schools or hospitals, that does almost nothing for the homeless or the hungry, that is determined to cut its spending on frills like education and health, has 23.5 million to spend on Moncton's proposed "events" centre.

We live on a continent on which the economy of the US, our major trading partner, is sliding into a deep hole with 36% of its people on welfare - and millions worse off who can't get welfare. That is increasinly going to affect us. In addition, our own wealth is distributed so badly that most of us are steadily drained by the rich to make them even richer. We live in an extremely uncertain economic world.

But we're going to spend 100 million plus on an "events" centre. Who will benefit? Well, first crack of the bat, some big, contractors will benefit. Then the owner of the hockey team gets a free ride with a new rink far beyond any realistic need. Will the centre make any money for Moncton?

I doubt it. Once it's built, permanent jobs will be few, and mostly low-paid. And before Moncton can get a penny out of the place, there's a line-up of people to pay - big time bands don't come cheap, and there will probably not be a whole lot of money among the North American peasantry to buy tickets.

If the events centre were to be a sure money-maker, then the big money of this province would build it to keep the profit for itself. And this is what capitalism is supposed to be about - private individuals risking their own money. But that's not what's happening here. We're taking the risk. People like the owner of the hockey team are taking a free ride.
Most of section A is about the election and the party leaders. And much of it is mindless drivel with Gallant, I think, the class act of dripping pure drivel. His goal is "making things better". Wow! What an insight!

The Greens and the NDP are the only parties with credible platforms. But nobody mentions the two central problems that New Brunswick must address if it is to have any future at all. There is the question of restoring democracy so that the province is really ours. Then there is the question of ending this monstrous and growing gap in income between the very rich and the rest of us.

No party mentions it because it would be death to do so. God forbid any New Brunswicker should consider any new idea. New Brunswickers won't take a stand on an issue the very rich don't approve of. And as long as that's true, their problems will only get worse.
The world gone mad is the whole story of foreign news coverage. American news agencies and many politicians are working up a frenzy because an American reporter was beheaded by the Islamic state of Iraq (or whatever its latest name is.) Obama is opposed to sending in troops a)because he already has too many messes in foreign affairs to worry about and 2) another intervention against Moslems would simply make the Islamic State more popular. Opposed to him are the usual village idiots in Congress who think that killing more thousands of Iraqis (including large numbers of the innocent) is the only way to respond to the death of an American reporter.

The Islamic State forces have now intervened in a big way against the rebels (and the government) in Syria, again forcing the US into intervention in a civil war that it and Saudi Arabia started and financed.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is playing its own (and unclear) game.  It seems to be backing the  Islamic State in hopes of increasing Saudi power in the middle east, but also backing the rebels the Islamic state is killing in Syria.

And some day, we may get the big news on Saudi Arabia. The US has spent over a trillion dollars, and has squandered the lives of Americans and Canadians and Afghanis, supposedly to punish Afghanistan for 9/11 - which Afghanistan almost certainly had nothing to do with. However, check the old news stories for 9/11. There were no Afghanis among the suicide bombers. But there were a lot of Saudis. And Osama bin Laden was a Saudi.

There could be a story behind that. Their is no such thing as nations that are friends to each other.

Israel is engaged in extermination of the Palestinians. That's why no peace agreement has ever been possible. Israel wants to maintain its stranglehold on Palestinians  until those unfortunate people are either refugees or dead. In this respect, Israelis have done to themselves what Hitler did to them in Mein Kampf. They now think of themselves as a race. The difference? Hitler saw them as an inferior race. Israelis see themselves as a superior race, ubermen.  And yet I see in our letters to the editor much whining about poor Israel which is fighting for its survival. Poor Israel has the most powerful military in the region, almost all supplied free by the US.  It also has a GDP of 515 billion. Palestine has no significant armed forces, not even a rowboat or a kite; and it's GDP is 2 billion. Poor little Israel. The idea that Israel is battling for survival is absurd. Even worse, I  have to agree with Jewish friends who feel that Judaism has suffered disastrous changes in Israel.

And Ukraine is desperately trying to draw the US and the European Union into a confrontation with Russia. That's why it's stalling the humanitarian supplies from Russia, even though the Red Cross has approved them.There is big money in the US that would also like a war with Russia.

And we had the very ugly scenes in Ferguson, Missouri.

Most of these have a common origin. (The exception is the Russia/US tension which is purely a matter of power and money.) But the others are linked to an event in 1492, an event that led to the rapid deterioration of billions of people and nations all over the world.

But I'll write about that some day when I haven't rambled on so long.
The editorial is, as always, puerile and in the service of the master. Norbert's column falls short of puerile. It's about making a list of items in each party's programme, then thinking about it to decide who to vote for. Lord, that's childish. In the first place - to choose one candidate - do you seriously think that Gallant will do anything the Irvings don't want him to do?

Only fools vote for a party based on its promises. (Luckily for our politicians, lots of fools have the vote.) What you look for are the principles, call them moral principles if you like, of the party.Does it, like the Liberals and Conservatives, care only about pleasing big money? Or is it really in protecting the interests of the people of New Brunswick?

Anyway, grow up Norbert. We don't  have a democracy. Get serious. You cannot make choices of any sort in a province that the people do not control.

Rod Allen demonstrates once again in his opinion column that he is incapable of forming an opinion.

Both Alec Bruce and Jody Allaire are excellent. I would hope that ms. Allaire will next week give us more detail about her topic, the World Acadian Congress' Women's Summit Meeting. It sounds interesting, and I think may readers would look forward to getting more detail.

Sorry to be so long about today's blog.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August 18: Blah....

Monday's Times and Transcript was,  more than usually, pretty flat gruel. Almost all news media have always been propaganda sheets. In the old days, that was evident in the press empires of William Randolph Hearst and Lord Beaverbrook But these were lone operators, each with his own agenda so one could always read several papers, and come up with some hint of the truth.

But now they are almost all of them, owned in huge blocks by a handful of multibillionaires who are united to control government - and the news media. Publicly-owned systems like BBC and CBC were more honest, and they attracted a much higher calibre of journalist than the privately owned ones did. But the British government and ours are both severely limiting these organizations. And both seem determined to destroy them.

And so we enter the age of dictatorship by big business which now controls our governments, our economies, our foreign policy - and is determined to control our schools and our health systems - for private profit.

Big business is also determined to make us poor because poverty is what makes it profitable. That's why so many businesses were happy to get free trade through. Now, they can take advantage of the the cheapest labour in the world and, at the same time, cheapen labour back home while simultaneously blaming those lazy poor for causing the recession.

It's also in the interest of big business that we fight wars - and big business pats us on the head, and says it was done to defend freedom. In fact, almost all wars are fought for economic gain and for loot. And that, incidentally, was true of World War 1. But I notice there has been no mention of that in our memoirs of that war.

The wars also destabilize whole regions of the world where the frightened and confused people turn to the only institution they have left - their religion. That religion becomes the focus of their resistance -as it did in Catholic Quebec after the British conquest, as it did in Poland under Soviet rule, just as it has in the middle east under western attack. Then the news media blame religion for causing wars.

Is this short-sighted on the part of business? Of course it is.

It's as short-sighted as it is for the moneyed people who rule New Brunswick to plan our economic futures as being dependent on oil. We know that oil will destroy us. Despite billions of dollars spent by the oil industry to convince us there is no climate change, anyone with enough wit to know how to burp knows by now that it's happening. And it's happening quickly,

And here we are in this election discussing whether the big issue is raising the sales tax or the minimum wage.

I have been criticized for saying the very, very rich are often (usually) stupid. I make no apology for that. They're skilled at making money for themselves. That's it. Unrestrained capitalism has no sense of the future, no sense of consequences, and not even a hint of anything that could be called morality. And all of that is even worse than stupidity.

And all the above thoughts were roused by reading Monday's TandT. And that's pretty much all that as aroused.
Almost all the news is trivial or heavily biased - with trivial having a big lead.

Here's a short-cut to understanding it all.

All over the world, we are destroying traditional societies, forcing our own rule and our own ways on them.

Mind you. We don't want them to become just like us - and certainly not to become equal to us. That's why they government is so angry at native chiefs making fabulously high salaries. One, for example, was paid 900 thousand to govern 80 people.

Who the hell does he think he is. An Irving?

No. We intrude on nations, destroy their traditional cultures and values, loot their resources, use the people as cheap labour, allow elections when it produces puppet leaders who do what we tell them to, and overthrow democracies that don't do what we tell them to.  While pretending to bring them into a modern world, we allow them in ONLY as inferiors to us.The damage that causes can haunt us for centuries.

That's what lies behind Canada's difficult relations with native peoples. That's why blacks are rioting in Missouri. That's why extreme groups like the Islamic State take root. That's why the US is working so hard to break up Syria and Iraq and Libya and other countries - to keep them weak and vulnerable, wide open to western looting of their oil, and just chock full of cheap and desperate labour.

And Israel is being picked on by Palestine? Pure bunk.

Israel's population is 8 million. Palestine's is half that.

Israel's GDP is 242 billion. Palestine's is - now get this - 4 billion. In addition, Israel gets enormous gifts of money from the US, most recently 150 billion in the latest military hardware. Israel also has nuclear weapons and a navy.

All of that makes Israel militarily the most powerful nation per capita in the world.

Palestine has  no army, navy or air force. It gets few gifts of weapons from anybody.  So we weep for poor little Israel, Always being picked on.

Moreover, all Israeli land used to belong to Palestine. Then it was invaded by Zionists. (Yes, it was invaded.) The invaders used terrorist groups who at first killed British soldiers who had taken Palestine after World War One. Then they began killing Palestinians. Then the UN recognized the state of Israel - though that land was not the UN's to give away.

So Palestinians were kicked off their land and out of their homes that had been theirs for thousands of years. And Israel has been kicking them off their own land and stealing it for Jewish settlers for almost fifty years.

It has,  for that time, killed thousands of Palestinians, controls their trade, even limiting the amount of medical supplies they can import. shoots fisherman for fishing along their own coast - and so it goes. What protects  Israel through all this is the US. It has used it veto in the UN some fifty times to nullify votes that were going to go against Israel - some for war crimes.

The goal of Israel? To keep Palestine in poverty, to kill as many Palestinians as possible, and to drive the rest into exile. Then to take over the land for a greater Israel. That's why Hamas was firing rockets at Israel. That's why neither side will accept a peace on terms the other can possibly accept. But you'd never know that from our news media.

NewsToday in Monday's paper has a story about how the federal government followed the NB fracking protest. It's a pretty tame report. It does not mention, for example, that the RCMP almost certainly handed over its findings on "dangerous schemers" to our domestic spy service which immediately forwarded it to American spy services. That's what police states do.

The section also has the story on how Transport Canada issued warnings about one-engineer trains and the dangers they pose BEFORE Lac Megantic.  So, was Irving just a babe in the woods who didn't know enough about railways to know the danger is was posing in sending highly volatile cargo in that way - just to save a few bucks? (Well, they must have known. Norbert says businesspeople are  real smart.)

Most of the ed and op ed pages are just trivia. The editorial is about the importance of finishing repairs on some road. Way to come to grips with the real issues, guys.

For Tuesday, the TandT has a long story for what should have been a short one.Windsor energy is suing the provincial government for saying the government was cancelling a deal for it to drill for oil in Sussex. It seems now that the government did not cancel it. So it made a false statement. They didn't need a story when the material they had was only a slightly longer than usual headline.

So, where are our digging reporters? There's obviously a lot more to this story.

The editorial tells us "Transparency the key for a shale gas industry". Imagine the hypocrisy of a Tant T editor writing that. These are the editors who have kept information from us all the way.

Norbert is just silly and irresponsible. But Mr. Irving will like his column since following Norbert's advice leaves Mr. Irving in charge of the province..

Alec Bruce has a good one on how the federal government is (probably deliberately) destroying the accuracy and usefulness of information gathered by Statistics Canada.

Alan Cochrane offers the deep insight that only a TandT editor can have into the importance of turning off your cell phone at concerts. Nest week, I understand he's going to take up the big topic - How to zip up your fly discreetly while in public.

Louise Gilbert has a helpful column on where to go to find art in Moncton. However, she failed to mention my works which are on display ( for a modest entrance fee) in my living room.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

August 16: have a swig of fracking waste water?

In the TandT for August 15, the first page actually has a real news story. "Can cities ban frack water from sewers?" The questions arises because a company in Nova Scotia wants to dump 30 million liters of the stuff into our sewers, and thence into the river. They claim it has already been treated so that it is drinkable.

Well, there are questions that weren't asked. If it is actually drinkable, why won't Nova Scotia allow it to be dumped there? Why was the company allowed to conduct fracking if it didn't have a sure place to dispose of the waste water? It may be okay for me to drink the stuff. But I'm rarely thirsty enough to drink thirty million liters. In that quantity of waste water, how much poison is left to do damage if it's all dumped in one place? Do other Nova Scotia companies have the same problem? If so, do they plan to dump in Dieppe? Exactly what are the chemicals in it? (fracking companies keep that a secret from everybody.) What happens to the "cleansed" poisons? Do they simply disappear? Or is the company just dumping them back in the ground?

And if fracking resumes in New Brunswick, how do companies propose to dump the waste water? That's important because we're talking a lot more, a LOT more, than thirty million liters.

I really wish that TandT editors would tell their reporters to ask questions.

Now - watch for the editorial on how many great jobs will be created by dumping waste water in our sewers.

On A5, the interviews with party leaders continue with the question of the day being the minimum wage. Both the Green Party and the NDP had clear answers that also gave an indication of their philosophies of government, and where their political sympathies lie. They would increase the minimum wage.

People's alliance would not increase it because that might discourage business. In other words, it believes in maintaining poverty in order to provide a cheap work force.Well, that tells us something about their philosophy of government, and where their sympathies lie.

Premier Alward dodged the bullet with a statement that really said nothing at all.

Gallant, as always, was vague and feeble. "We're going to have to find a way to....." Hey, kid. We're in the middle of an election campaign. Isn't it a little bit late to say gee, golly whiz; we're gong to have to find a way to....?

Gallant was a debater at McGill. I was on the debating team at Acadia. We won our way to the finals, losing only to Simon Fraser. McGill never even made it into the nationals. I would love to debate Gallant. This is a man who has no political philosophy, no guidelines, no plans...and, unlike Alward, he can't even fake it.

In NewsToday ("Parties spar over Grit tax proposal"), Gallant is a little clearer. He would raise business taxes, and taxes on the rich to pull in $63 million dollars. He mentions Walmart as a target.

First, 63 million doesn't sound like a big bite for large corporations and the rich. Secondly, why mention Walmart? Does it make more than the Irvings?
For the weekend in foreign news, it wasn't as bad as I feared it would be. It wasn't good. But it was, mostly, on hold. The exception was the humanitarian aid convoy sent to Ukraine by Russia - and being blocked by the Ukraine government.

I don't really understand this one. But it's scary. Does it show that Putin is now prepared to risk war with the US?  Or does it show he thinks the US too tied up in the general collapse of just about everything in the Middle East to intervene?

Certainly, the Ukraine government wants a war. That's why it's holding up the aid convoy, hoping to provoke a Russian attack - and to suck in the US and NATO.
The best of editorial and op ed is Alec Bruce on Gallant's job creation plan. The rest of those two pages are a waste of time and paper.
In today's paper, Section A has nothing worth reading. There is a big story on "Acadians celebrate in style".- and lots of photos.
 But it really doesn't say anything beyond very vague references to culture. It tells us nothing about Acadians, who they have been, and who they are now. And random interviews with people on the street do not make up for this lack of any research or analysis.

There is a story in the history and meaning of Acadia up to this day. I wish I knew more about it. But it just isn't here n the TandT. Section B has more photos of the Acadian celebrations in Section B. But they tell us nothing.
In Section B, the lead story is about First Nations' Chiefs who are asking to courts to block deals between the NB government and forestry companies. Nice to see some New Brunswickers who take action.
B1 also has a story on Canada sending aid to help in humanitarian work in Iraq where thousands of innocent civilians have been killed by Isis. That's odd. We didn't send aid to Iraq when thousands (hundreds of thousands) of innocent civilians were being killed by American troops.

The story also has a long statement by a colonel that that the US did not cause the Iraq crisis. But it has a moral commitment to help the Iraqis.

How can a person say that with a straight face? And why would Canadian Press even bother to include it in a story about Canadian aid? This is simply propaganda. Of course, the US caused the crisis. It bombed and shelled Iraq into chaos - so that it could get control of the oil. It created a country mired in poverty, and with no political stability at all. In the process, American violent intrusions into the Moslem world created groups like Isis that thrive in destablilized countries. Of course, the US caused the crisis.

Does it now believe it has a moral commitment to help Iraq? Of course not. No country goes to war out of a moral commitment. It is not there to save Iraq. It is there to get back control of the oil fields - and to keep Iraq a weak, divided and unstable country so that it will be easier to control the oil.

Harper assures us that Canada will not stand idly by while innocent civilians and religious minorities are murdered. When did Harper become all that pious and morally pure? We stood idly by when the US killed innocent civilians by the millions in Vietnam, Guatemala, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. In the case of Libya and Afghanistan, we actually even helped the US. We have also stood idly by while the US encouraged, supplied and trained the mercenary thugs we call rebels in Syria.
There is nothing on the editorial page.

Brent Mazerolle has an opinion column about the militarization of police forces.But I'm not sure he understands all the issues.

It's true that some police (or whoever they were) were wearing camouflage outfits at Rexton last summer. Mazerolle does not address the question of why they were wearing them. After all, they were standing there in plain sight. So why the camouflage?

Because the clothing was intended to send a message. They were not simply police. They were warriors. That's why US police often wear such outfits when working on city streets and on raids on houses. They're not for camouflage. They're to send a message.

And why, at Rexton, were they carrying combat rifles? These are not designed for crowd control and they are not designed for sniping. They are designed for mass and rapid fire against hordes of soldiers on the other side. That's why they have big magazines.

I quite agree that police should have rifles at their disposal. But combat rifle firepower is more than a little much for crowd control.

Above all, militarization means changing the way police think of themselves. They are to stop thinking of themselves as protectors of the people. No. The people are, as in a military war, the enemy.

There's always been an element of that thinking in police forces. I learned that in my days as a pistol instructor for a local police force. Some would tell how they'd like to nail one of those peace marchers, especially if he had a beard - and beat the daylights out of him. (That type was very common in the Montreal riot squad.)

They reminded me of the school bully in grade 5. The teacher appointed him monitor for the cloakroom. He just loved lining us up in rigid order, punching anybody who moved. Keeping us in line - that was his job, and he loved it.

That is the attitude a soldier needs. And the people the soldier meets are simply enemies to be demolished.  But that is not the role of police. They exist to protect us and our rights as well as a central reason for enforcing the law.

Militarization of police is not just a question of equipment. It is a recasting of the mentality and the role of police. Under it, they are not there to protect us. They are there to obey the masters of society, and to keep the people in line. And so they become the death of democracy - and the godparents of violence (as we saw in Missouri.)

That's why the military camouflage outfits are a very bad idea. They are deliberately chosen to send a deliberate message to us and the to police who wear them.

With all the trouble spots to choose from, it's odd that Gwynne Dyer chooses to write about an uprising in an obscure part of China - especially when Dyer himself says it's not going to succeed.
In Life and Times, the sermonette is the usual pious but irrelevant chatter. Jesus must be embarrassed to read those things.
In Whatever, all the student columns are worth a read.  But for a real, kick in the teeth, read p. F7 where Isabelle Agnew has a really furious column on sexism and misogyny. And it's well done.l

Finally,  check out the site below. It's a  government news site for North Korea. And it even has a reference to Moncton when it tells us that the North Korea women's soccer team beat Germany at FIFA by nine to zero. (I didn't know that.)

There's also a great section on how North Korea leads the world in almost everything, including being the freest and most advanced democracy in the world. And how Kim is brilliant and just everybody loves him. This is hilarious, far the funniest thing I've seen on the web.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

August 14: At last, we catch up...

The Thursday paper is easy. It has only one item in it worth reading - on p. D7. Brian Cormier has a column on depression, and it's a good one. As usual, it's a personal story rather than an opinion. But in this case, it works. And it's well-written.

The editorial writer attacks the party leaders for not having a policy entirely meeting the wishes of the TandT (and its boss). ---I notice the editorials are almost always on matters of interest to the boss, and always support his views.. This suggests, obviously, that the editors are hired shills. And it also suggests they aren't bright enough to write about anything else.

But they offer a brilliant idea concerning government grants to companies in order to create jobs. Instead of grants, we would just lower corporate taxes. Yeah. It's terrible the way we handicap those hard-working job creators with crushing taxes. Just lower corporate taxes. We can do it easily by closing all the hospitals. (However, how any of that is an improvement on our loans-to-billionaires policy isn't clear to me.)

Norbert's headline  is simply wrong. "All five leaders fail to answer hospital closure question". That is simply not true. What Norbert means is that they didn't do what he said they should do. I would agree that only one leader gave a clear and intelligent answer. That was Dominic Cardy who said that you don't start by cutting budgets; you start by determining what it is the people need.

Eric Lewis writes about bicycles on the streets. It's an issue on which Moncton is 50 years behind the rest of the developed world - and Eric Lewis adds nothing to it.

In summary - a bloody awful edition - except for Brian Cormier.

For Friday, the most interesting page of Section A is the obituary page.

NewsToday has an intriguing story on  it first page: "Role in Iraq plan possible for Canada". This concerns the attempt to get thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of Yazidis, Christians and other groups threatened by starvation and slaughter out of Iraq. Almost half a million displaced Iraqis have fled into Turkey.

Harper has given no clear response yet. (It seems normal for him to talk big on issues like this - and then do nothing.) Will he allow some of these people to enter Canada? I should hope so. But I think it unlikely.

Almost all other world trouble spots are on hold for a few days, at least. The first one to heat up will probably come when  a Russian truck convoy of humanitarian aid reaches the Ukraine border. Ukraine has vowed to block it.

For foreign news, this week of relative quiet should have been a chance for the paper to publish stories that give us deeper insight to the Russia-Ukraine, Israeli-Palestinian issues. Instead, it ran stories that told us nothing.

Page C 12 has an interesting article on two native groups which have ordered the closure of two mines in B.C., both on environmental grounds. It will be interesting to see which side the provincial and federal governments will take. This could set important precedents, one way or the other, for the role of native peoples in Canada.

The editorial is the usual hymn to Mr. Irving's opinions. And even Alec Bruce picks up that theme in his column which advocates making the the rest of us pay for the excesses of the very rich few.

Rod Allen tells an utterly pointless story about how he saw the red moon,  then adds other personal items about his daily life - as if anybody could care a damn.

Beth Lyons' column pretty much saves the paper for thursday. She urges us all to support LGBT Pride week. And that sounds fine to me. But, to the shock of my virginal mind, she refers to LGBT's as "queer".
Presumably, that is now socially acceptable. I just can't keep up with all these changes.

Sorry. There is just nothing else in these two, miserable editions. And this when a potentially big crisis is coming to a boil.

In Missouri, an eighteen-year old African-American boy was shot to death by a policeman. That has provoked days and nights of rioting - and of police patrols in armoured cars stocked with military combat weapons. -oh, and of police wearing camouflage outfits - camouflage in a battlefield of paved streets and sidewalks, and block after block of stores and apartments.

CBC drew attention to this in a new report. It's something we should have noticed here in New Brunswick a year ago.

I remember the lineup of riot police as they faced a crowd, largely of native peoples, blockading shale gas trucks. And I remember the men behind them, wearing army combat camouflage and carrying combat rifles.
1. Why were they wearing camouflage clothing? They weren't crawling through underbrush. They were standing in the open.
2. Why the combat rifles with their very large magazines? These rifles are designed for the rapid fire of battle against a  heavily -armed enemy. They're designed for mass killing. That's why they have large magazines. They were never designed for sniping at individuals in a civilian gathering. So why did they have them?
3. And they didn't look like police. They all looked as if they came from the same cookie-cutter, the same standard of military conditioning that you see in men who do physical conditioning every day.

(No, I don't mean police are fat and sloppy. They were certainly a husky bunch. But they have a job to do. They can't spend all day, every day in training. Soldiers can.)

I'm not surprised that no Irving reporter seems to have noticed this. But the difference in appearance between the riot squad and the snipers was remarkable. They didn't look like police. They looked and acted like a foreign military come to defeat us.

Were they army? Or were they a new branch of police trained as soldiers? That would explain their bizarre use of camouflage and their combat rifles. And there is, or should be, a big difference between police and soldiers. Police exist to protect people. Men who wear camouflage and carry combat rifles exist to kill whoever they are  told to kill.

For some years now, police in the US have been militarizing in their training, weapons, and clothes. Some of the police in Missouri, as I said, were wearing military camouflage outfits - in the middle of a town where they would have had a searcg to find a leaf to hide behind.

In other cities in the US, police on duty checking people on the streets in daytime for their ID cards wear  camouflage outfits. They also wear them for (unauthorized) raids on people's homes. The message is clear.
This isn't policing. This is war. And the police aren't there to protect us. They're there to make us do what the boss wants.

This process is in quite an advanced condition in the US -  which is one reason many people call the US a police state. I have no reason to doubt that the same process is happening in Canada. And that process may be what we were watching in last summer's shale gas blockade.

It poses special and immediate problems in the US. It is a country which has done almost nothing about its racial tensions since 1865. The hatreds and resentments run deep on both sides. And this September, for the first time, the majority of children registering for kindergarten will be non-white.

What's happening in Missouri may be just a start on the final blow to the empire.

Watch, too, for the gun nuts, the ones who say they must have guns to defend the constitution. The constitution has been in shreds for years. And they did nothing. But if the rioting spreads, they'll join with the government people who destroyed the constitution, and they'll shoot the rioters.

Meanwhile, it would be nice if an editor who is bright enough could order a reporter who is a real reporter - if there is one - to find out exactly who were those men in camouflage outfits last summer - and why they wore camouflage outfits.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August 14, part two: (actually posted on July 15 and catching up with the Tand T of August 12))

Readers who check other sites I mention might have been trying to get Information Clearing House a few days ago - to find it closed. This has been a regular occurrence for some years. Unidentified hackers break in to put it out of service. Of course,  we know the hackers can't possible be government agencies.

I should also mention that if you scroll down a bit on the site, you will find, on the right margin a long list "alternative news and opinion sources".  I am not familiar enough with most of them to make any recommendations. Something else to catch up on.

The only big news on the front page is the death of Robin Williams. (The story is actually in News Today.) Somehow, this is one of those stories that, for reasons I feel rather than understand, seems to mark the passage of an age - and emphasizes the loss of it.

A3 has a story about about awarding grants to preserve and to encourage buyers for "heritage" buildings.  Their definition of heritage seems to be anything that's old -which could make me worth a pretty penny. The story featured a photo of Castle Manor.

What does Castle Manor have to do with any heritage? How does it figure in the history of Moncton?

Architecturally, it's a tasteless imitation of castle architecture of a thousand years ago with obviously phony ramparts. The style was (unwisely) revived for churches in the nineteenth century. But Castle Manor is a double stinker. With the general shape and function of a working class apartment building of the 1940s, it is simply a bad taste copy of a bad taste copy. Why one earth should an apartment be built to look (sort of) like a castle? Only with none of a real castle's sense of purpose and history?

And in this province, where we are going to lose essential services  to balance t he budget, we have lots of money to preserve that grotesque pile of rock, and lots to give millionaires so they can buy it.
A7 has the daily quiz of provincial party leaders on the question of the public service. Most jumped on the band wagon to reduce it because we have proportionately more civil servants than most other provinces.

Well, of course we do, you twits. Whatever the size of the population, each branch of the public service requires the same number of people ( 1) to head the various departments. A committee to plan education will need the same number of people no matter what the size of the province. The work to be done does not get all that much smaller no matter what the size of the province.

The first issue is not the size of the civil service. It's the size of the job to be done. If we want to bring our civil service in line with other provinces, then the logical response is to unite the Atlantic provinces into one, big one.

The only party with an intelligent answer to the question was the NDP. (Note - I am not an automatic supporter of the NDP. I have been very disappointed with how it has gone from being a social democratic party to being just another Liberal party.)

Dominic Cardy, NDP leader, said, "It's a question of what do we need to deliver the public services people want." That's not only an intelligent answer; it's the only one that suggests a philosophy of what government is.  You start with the people and what they need, not with what some billionaire wants.
The death of Robin Williams dominates the news in NewsToday. That's not surprising. The rest of the world is marking time. What we should be looking for will happen within days.
1. Israel and Hamas will have decided for or against a peace deal. My guess is they will decide against. Israel has no intention of giving up its dominance of Palestine. And if Palestine cannot get freedom from Israel, then it might as well go down fighting.
2. A large Russian truck convoy of humanitarian aid is heading for the Ukraine border with food and medicine for those caught in the fighting. Putin has to do this - or he becomes a straw man leader in the eyes of Russians and, indeed, of the world.
The Kiev government says it will stall the convoy at the border for a week or more. Of course. The Kiev government needs a war that will suck in NATO. And that might do it.
3.Iraq? Anybody's guess. Isis is the middle east response to all those years in which they were killed, pauperized, looted for the benefit of western empires - most recently, the American empire. This could trigger one hell of an explosion throughout Africa and the Middle East. The fall of an empire is not a pretty thing to watch.

For the Tuesday edition, Norbert took off on British historian, Dominic Hardy, who teaches at Oxford. But Norbert knows more about history than Hardy does.

Hardy wrote an article suggesting that the world would be a better place if Britain and Canada had not joined into the war. But he's not up to Norbert's standards. No, says Norbert, good historians don't speculate "...what if..."

It's coming out of  your ears Norbert. I worked in universities for 40 years. I've know a lot of historians (I am one), including a few of world reputation. We often speculated on the what ifs of history. As long as people know that what  you're offering is an opinion - and it was clear with Hardy - there is nothing wrong with it. In fact, training in history provides the skills to examine the what ifs.

And one can even project the what ifs into the future. What if the US water shortage continues  (as a result of climate change)? The only place to get more is Canada. What if Canada limits the water it sells because of the effect will it have on us?  Would the US invade? (Answer, if Harper is still PM, the US won't have to invade. He always says yes to US presidents.)

When Hardy says politicians often rush into war without any care for their citizens who will be killed, Norbert really gets his petticoats all messed up. He points to Neville Chamberlain, and his reluctance to go to war with Hitler. Well, yes, he was reluctant, but with good reason. He knew that Britain was nowhere close to being ready for a  major war. Later, it would prove how unready it was at Dunkirk.

 And the US did. as Norbert says, enter late - but that had nothing to do with opposing war. It had to do with not caring a damn what happened to Britain; and hoping to pick up the pieces of its empire when Britain collapsed. It was Hitler's invasion of Russia - as much as the bombing of Pearl Harbour - that saved Britain's butt. Until then, it was beaten and hopeless.

Then he says World War 1 gave us the League of Nations. Big deal. It didn't do anything. But then - after World War Two - there were no more wars between major powers. So that shows war can make good changes. Gee, Norbert, ya think that might have something to do with both sides having nuclear weapons? And if the US prevents wars, how come we've have nothing but wars for over fifty years? Is war okay if it's just big countries slaughtering small ones?

And if the UN is the great, beneficial result of World War One, how come we have the possiblities of war with Russia and China looming? Not to  mention most of the Middle East and Africa.

It seems Hardy's real sin in Norbert's eyes is that he's anti-war. Oh, naughty baby.
Speaking of war, I do hope we get a sketch of General Currie in the series on Canadians in World War 1. He commanded Canadian troops in the last half of the war. As a real estate dealer with almost no military experience, he seemed an odd choice to be the senior commander in the field. And he did make mistakes at first. But Currie was a fast learner. He turned out to be a brilliant general, one of the best on either side, so good that the British prime minister once suggested he should be commander of all the British and Commonwealth armies. (Of course, his success made him enemies in Canada who hounded him for the rest of his life. There were a lot of Norberts around.)
Two letters to the editor are worth reading - one bad and one good.

The good one is "Are you ready for the future?" The writer talks about the huge problems, especially relating to environment, around us. Is our province ready? In fact, our province hasn't even started to think about it.

Then "'Giving back' is poor choice of words." because it implies money given by businessmen is not really their money, their property. Hey. They worked for it. It's theirs. They don't have to give anything back.

I have the feeling the writer is a regular church-goer, primarily because going to church is respectable.

Look. We live in a civilization - you know, an organized society. Nobody, NOBODY, makes money all by himself or herself. We need the educaton that ALL of us provide. We need the justice system and the roads and the forests and the mines that ALL of us provide. We need large numbers poor people so that Walmart can get them at minimum wage, and make its owners rich. NOBODY gets money without lifetime help from all of society.

And please don't tell me the rich work hard for their money. I've shaken hands with many of them, and I've never felt a single callous. There are single mothers with children who work a  hell of a lot harder than any Irving, and they do it for a starvation wage.

We  fight wars and the poor die to make money for the rich. (The first to volunteer in a war are the unemployed.) We all create wealth. And it belongs to all of us. And certainly, we should all get the benefit of it.

I would advise the letter writer to talk to Norbert. I think she'd like him.