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.


  1. It sems like the globe and mail has backed of on Ukrainian propaganda. The last story I saw was about the aid convoy, and it was, surprisingly, non hysterical.

  2. Yes, there's still some professionalism left at the Globe. The National Post, though, it foaming at the mouth. The US news media are still screaming that the "Russian invasion" of Ukraine is a horrible act; and the US government is taking it to the UN.

    Invading countries is terrible, says the US government - the government that has led the world in invading countries for no clear reason at all.

  3. If Vermont wanted closer ties with Quebec, and some English-speaking opposers stormed the state capitol to demand closer ties with Texas, I doubt it have resulted in a genocide against French-speaking Vertmont residents. But if some English-supremeist pseudo-nazi's attacked french-speaking Vermont residents, and if The Texas goverment spurred them on, would Quebec be outraged? And if Quebec sent troops to defend the rights of French-speaking Vermonters would they be justifiid in this incursion into the USA?