Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sept. 30: Go to Chapters at the Mall.....

Go in the front doors, and immediately take 7 or 8 steps to the right, then look right to the shelves devoted to New Brunswick books. You will see one in a white slipcover with red print, "Irving vs. Irving:: Canada's family billionaires and the stories they won't tell.

Funny the Irving press hasn't mentioned that book. I mean, you know, they're so keen on improving literacy in the province. Judging from their columns, the editors and columnists of the TandT all read  the book on how the New Brunswick economy is going off a cliff. You'd think a book about the boss would be required reading, too.

The author is a CBC TV reporter, Jacques Poitras and, from what I've seen so far in the book, he's a very good reporter - a real one who asks questions and does some digging. Certainly, Ryerson, an excellent journalism school, has a good opinion of him. You can check their review of his book at jpress.journalism.ryerson.ca   

One of the points that emerges is that the Irvings don't understand journalism at all. They think that, like everything, journalism should be run like a business. But a newspaper that is nothing but a business is useless to most readers. However, this fits into the simple-minded belief that everything - education, health care, government itself - should be run like a business. That's a constant theme in the Moncton Times and Transcript columns which has implied or actually said on many occasions that businessmen should be running the province.

Aside from being wrong, that's a profoundly anti- democratic opinion, and one that shows a profound ignorance of what governments and societies are all about.
Also missing from the news (I'll start with a few of these because there is almost nothing worth reading in yesterday's or today's papers) is a warning not to carry much money when travelling to the US. 

Going back to the panic created by 9/11, American governments have been dismantling the constitution to take away basic rights and freedoms. In one of these moves, police were given the right to confiscate anything, anything at all, from any person they think looks suspicious.

There's no need for a warrant or a hearing or evidence - or even a crime. They can just take. Typically, a car will be stopped for a traffic offense, any offence no matter how minor. The officer thinks the driver looks suspicious because he or she is sweating, or is wearing an unusual hat (I'm not exaggerating) or - horrors- is African-American or hispanic.

At that, the police search the car. In particular, they search for money. You have $200 in cash on you? Very suspicious. So they confiscate it. And it's almost impossible to get it back. The police then turn the money in to the station for the police pension fund or for improvements to the station. In some cases, they simply keep it for themselves. One officer in Texas was reported to have added tens of thousands to his bank account.

Since 911, this form of highway robbery has raised at least 2.5 billion dollars with California leading at 430 million. Maine is relatively light at 2 million. But watch out for New York at 241 million.

This warning also applies at border crossings and airports. You can check all this is the Washington Post for Sept. 6.

.......and all of that is a strong sign of the breakdown of a society....
The TandT does have the story of massive defiance in Hong Kong where the Chinese government has refused to permit the continuation of even the limited form of democracy that Hong Kong had. But it leaves the impression that Hong Kong had democracy under the British. It never did.

When the British returned Hong Kong to China in 1997, one of the conditions was that it was to have democracy. The British, in some 150 years of British rule, put all power into the hands of a governor - who was always an Englishman appointed by the British government.

It was an absolute dictatorship. I know that well because I knew  (in fact, was related to) the governor's secretary). The secretary, an arrogant and racist man - like almost all the British in Hong Kong throughout its history - had his own, absolute power. He once banned a movie ("Shampoo" with Warren Beatty) simply because he disapproved of it. When I taught journalism there, I found the English journalism students (already working at one of the two, English papers) to be racially arrogant, paid much more than Chinese for doing the same work, and promoted way over their little heads.

Late in the day, the British permitted an elected Legislative Council to advise the government. But that should not be confused with democracy. It was a government of the rich and well-connected.

The leaders of China are no sweethearts. But neither are those leaders of countries on our side. I fear what is almost certain to happen in Hong Kong. I still have Hong Kong friends that I correspond with by e mail. But I have stopped sending them posts because it might well get them into trouble.

Gwynne Dyer (nice to see him back) has an excellent column on this in the TandT for Wednesday. And it's not an optimistic one.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (the ones who spy on us) is said to spy on Canadian citizens who are environmentalists and other "disturbers" (as police often call them). Most of these, by far, are ordinary, law-abiding citizens. But not in the eyes of our police state. It spends millions spying on them (as the RCMP once spied on Tommy Douglas because he was dangerous man for having introduced medicare.)

CSIS hits on environmentalists, critics of the government, anybody who's not in line as Harper wants them to be. Then they hand over all that information to Canadian big business. Irving, almost certainly, gets that information. Then they hand it over to US intelligence for their police state.

So Harper decided this had to be investigated ( he was under a lot of pressure to do so). So he appointed a committee of investigators. However, it turns out that at least three of them might have been suspected of not being impartial. One was formerly on the board of TransCanada Pipelines. Another was on the board of Enbridge. And the third is a registered lobbyist for Enbridge.
And in Pakistan, something happened that daily happens all over the world - but seldom gets reported.
Five people were killed by an American drone. Were they proven guilty of anything? Or even charged? No. Were they innocent civilians? Quite possibly. It happens every day. But we very seldom hear about it.

It's what is called a war crime under international law. But we never hear about that, either.
Yesterday, driving by the Dumont Hospital, I saw cluster of people holding up anti-abortion signs, advising us all to "Pray to God to end abortions". And I guess many people would call them devout Christians.

Without taking any side on the question of abortion, I would call them self-righteous hypocrites.

Their opposition is based on the commandment "Thou shalt not kill". Fine. That's a good commandment. But it doesn't refer just to placenta in the womb. And to suggest it does, indicates a pretty selective use of the Bible. 

Our society stands on mounds of dead reaching all the way back to Abel. We kill every day. We kill by war, by starvation, we kill by the millions. And right now we're gearing up to kill a lot more.

Those same people with their signs also must have noticed "Thou shalt not covet". But we live under an economic system that rewards coveting and greed. You can find worship of this every day in the pages of the Times and Transcript. You can attend the Irving Chapel to hear the word from an eminent clergyman, and to hear special music (which must please God enormously), all in this temple to greed.

There's a lot to object to in this world. But I really detest self-righteous twits who choose to attack only those sins they see in others, and to ignore the greater, much greater sins that they, themselves, commit.

I think I might make a sign to carry around, "Pray God to spare us from hypocrite fundamentalists"
And that doesn't leave me much room for what IS in the TandT.

The paper is still carrying news stories about World War 1, but without much connection to each other or any general outline I can determine. I particularly regret we haven't seen a piece  on Sir Arthur Currie, 

Currie, who took over command of all Canadian troops in Europe in 1917, was arguably the best commander Canada ever produced. That was quite an accomplishment for a man who had never seen battle, who had been a teacher and a businessman, and whose only military experience was as a part-time militia officer.

The British commanders were almost all career soldiers, and with battle experience. Most of them were also pretty awful. Currie, a thoughtful man and a meticulous planner - and a creative man, so distinguished himself that the British prime minister spoke of putting him in command of all Empire troops. At meetings of the high command, Currie would often correct his chief, Earl Haig in order to save lives of allied soldiers. Once, when Haig said that he had a huge artillery force on hand, Haig corrected his number to a much smaller one. "I counted them on the way here", he said. Before battles, he would predict what the losses would be. And he was right.

His greatest victory was over the Germans at Vimy Ridge, a seemingly unattackable position. It's now also the site of a memorial to the Canadians who died there - and one of the most moving memorials I have seen.

In a war of blundering generals with years of experience, Sir Arthur Currie stood out as an inspiring figure. And he had accomplished all that by the time he was barely forty.
Then there's the story on B5 that a Canadian businessman in Cuba has been sentenced to 15 years for bribery and corrupting of officials. He's one of a large number of businessmen and government employees caught up in Castro's anti-graft drive. Canadian M.P. Peter Kent is horrified, reminding us all of the horrors of Cuban courts and demanding that Canada bring him home.

Let's seen now. The US took a Canadian in Afghanistan as a prisoner of war - though the Canadian was  underage, and such an arrest illegal. He was tortured - illegal. He was kept in the camp at Guantanamo - illegal.  He was tried by a US military tribunal - illegal. ( And military tribunals are bloody awful courts.)

Canada said not a word. When the US released him to us, Canada promptly put him in a maximum security prison (which is hell on earth). And tough-on-crime Parker will make sure he never gets out.

But this Canadian in Cuba isn't a child, And he's an entrepreneur - so we gotta protect him.

The hilarious part is toward the end. "Foreign business people have long considered payoffs.......to be an unavoidable cost of doing business in Cuba."

Well, businessmen have a choice, don't they? They can refuse to do business in Cuba. Nobody is forcing them to go there.  (Gee, mommy, I have to do drugs to fit in with my friends.)

So that's the price of doing business in Cuba? Well, them there Cubans is iggerant. No company in Canada would ever dream of encouraging corruption or of buying political help by making campaign contributions to political parties. I mean, you look at Irving and Alward and the forestry deal. You know, two gentlemen sitting down to make an agreement that is fair and is the best one for the people of New Brunswick.

In effect, this "news" story becomes an attack on Cuba for trying to stop corruption.
On B3 for Monday, Obama (whose nose grows longer every day) tells us that Sunnis and Shiites are the biggest cause of conflict in the world. That must be another very selective interpretation of "Thou shalt not kill".)

Neither Monday's nor Tuesday's edition has any news worth reading.

On the editorial page, Alec Bruce has a good (and important) column on the need for proportional representation. That would give us a much more representative group of MLAs than we now have.

Norbert has a bozo column about how we could improve our political system by making suggestions, etc.to the MLAs. Norbert, proportional representation would do that far more effectively. You also miss the central problem of New Brunswick politics (and not just those of New Brunswick.)

Our political parties - as well as those in Canada and the US - have no philosophy of what kind of a society they want. An election is like hiring somebody to fix up little things around the house -new light bulbs, make the toilet flush, tighten a few screws...... There's no big picture. There's just "neat ideas".

You have to start with philosophy of what kind of society we need. Then you work from that framework.

Lacking that, all you get is Irvingville.

That's why your paper comments only on how he have to get more money  (with the unspoken rule that we must not ask the rich to pay their share.) I see very little general discussion of what kind of a New Brunswick we want. Or what kind of a Moncton.

On op ed,  Craig Babstock writes about an advertising video that appeared in Vancouver. I have no idea why he thought this was worth writing about.

Steve Malloy does his regular, good job.

For Tuesday, Alec Bruce is a (rare) disappointment. He writes about the problems facing the new premier. Please. Decisions in this province are not made by the premier. So he has nothing to think about - a task for which his election campaign showed him to be well talented.

Norbert has another column on the the neat tricks that he thinks are what government is about. It's not, Norbert. It's about the vision of the kind of society you want to see. It's about  morality. It's about concern for all people. It's about a fair distribution of the wealth this province produces.

Craig Babcock talks about the problem of ballot counting - going completely off the point on the implications of the fault. We need a recount of all the seats!!! Until then, the government will never have the full trust that it must have if it is to govern. In turning down the idea of a full recount, Gallant has made his first, big blunder as premier. Brace yourself for more.

There is very little foreign news in these papers. So I got some figures together.

The US military has some 1,370,000 serving members.
Saudi Arabia has 200,000.
France has 109,000
Britain has 205,000.

That's just about 2,000,000 in the military strength for the coalition force the US is using to attack ISIS.

But there aren't the only countries. There's Canada, the rest of NATO...The coalition must have close to 3,000,000 members. (Yes, I know some of them are clerks and janitors. But they're still a pretty big force.)

The coalition also represents most of the richest nations on earth, so they are well supplied with the latest equipment for land, sea and air. Their purposed  is to crush ISIS which has no air force, no navy, no air defences, And it has some 20,000 soldiers.

Obama feels it necessary to outnumber them over 1,300 to one. What is going on here? Possibilities -
1. Obama is doing what Britain did in the Boer War when it got the colonies to join in the fight against Dutch colonial farmers who were outnumbered 2 to 1 even just against Britain. The point of it was to warn potential European enemies (and the colonies) that in future, anybody who Britain disliked would be at war not just with Britain, but with the whole Empire. You fight me; you fight my gang.

Part of the concern here is something rarely mentioned. The US is (slowly) losing its grip on South America. The policy of expanding to world domination left it vulnerable not only in its overseas empire, but in its empire next door.

2. Obama wants to crush Syria and Iran and anybody else who wants to develop trade relations with Russia or China. The US wants that market for itself. It is also concerned that such trade links could lead to the abandonment of the US dollar as the standard of world trade. And that would leave the US, the most heavily indebted country in history, in an economic collapse.

3. And perhaps it's all of these combined for the great effort that began almost 20 years ago as The American Century, the conquest of the world.  It's quite insane. But it is taken very seriously indeed by very wealth, and very influential people in the US. It's because of people like that we have the commandment, "Though Shalt Not Kill".

And yes, any war, especially one fought from the air, is going to kill a lot of innocent people. In fact, it is now a general rule that such wars kill more civilians that soldiers.

I apologize for the length of this. I have to learn to write shorter blogs.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lord love a duck...

Where to start...

Thursday's Big Story in Section A  (p. 3) is literally big, taking up three-quarters of a page. It's made up largely of quotations from two cousins, Brian Murphy and Mike Murphy. telling us what gee-whiz sweethearts they both are. and how they are, God bless them, setting up their own law firm to "help the little guy".  And this, apparently, is why both went into politics as Liberals because that's the party that's well-known for having no contacts with big money.

The reporter asks no questions except to give us important information like - they sat in comfy chairs, Brian's office is the furthest down the hall, one of them has an antique desk. The reporter breaks from that important information only to slobber all over their shoes. Oh, yes, their offices are in the Hawk Building (which are, presumably, very reasonably priced because the   Hawk Building has no connection whatever with big business.)

As a news story, this is beneath contempt for both the reporter and the page editor.  And who bloody cares, anyway?

Section A has a big story, also by a reporter who doesn't ask questions or consult opposing views. This one tells us that the New Brunswick Business Council  is in favour of developing shale gas. Gee! I would never have guessed. I was sure the Business Council would be opposed to it because of its deep concern about environmental and human damage.

Oh, yes. And it feels that private business should be doing the research on whether it is safe. Right. That would be better because private business will give us honest answers. We'll always been able to trust them.----though---haven't we been assured that private business HAS been doing research for decades - and has concluded it's perfectly safe? So why bother doing more?

And that takes us to the editorial and op ed pages.
Friday's editorial seems a revolutionary one as it praises the NDP. But note their reason for praising the NDP. It has moved more to the centre. That's rather like our churches that have given up on what Christianity should mean in our daily lives so they can concentrate on bake sales. The basic problem of this province is its domination by big business. No party, including the NDP, touched that issue.  In New Brunswick, the centre is on the far right. We don't need more parties in that centre.

Cole Hobson has an opinion column deploring the increases given to firemen. and says we can't afford binding arbitration that forces an employer to raise salaries. Where does the Irving press find these columnists?

The arbitrators are not ideologues chosen from communist terrorists. These are skilled people chosen to find a reasonable solution to labour disputes, and to settle them in order to maintain essential services. You think we cannot afford to pay our firemen a  half-decent salary? Okay. Next time you have a fire, call Mr. Irving and ask what he charges.

Better still, next time corporation executives  vote themselves million dollar bonuses, demand binding arbitration. After all, just one of those bonuses is more than we are giving increases to all our firemen put together. And all that money comes from the same place - our pockets.

Go ahead Cole Hobson, write a tough piece about the huge increases given to our very rich every year. I dare you.

Of course, business executives are much more necessary to society than firemen are.

Justin Ryan, who is billed as a public education coordinator has his column on - I think it has something to do with multiculturalism. maybe.

Friday's editorial page is a real stinker. The editorial is about binding arbitration and, of course, the writer is against it. It suggests we should avoid it by contracting firefighting out to the private sector. Now, there's bozo idea. Not only would it cost more; it would destroy the prime purpose of firefighting. As it is, the prime purpose is fighting fires. But the prime purpose of private business is to make money for itself - and that would immediately become the prime purpose of the fire department - to make more money for the business.

Bill Belliveau is hilarious. Picture him as a love-sick pre-teen, singing this column under the stars of a summer evening while standing under the window of his heart-throb, Brian Gallant.

Norbert's column, a mish-mash of name-calling, bias and ignorance, says we cannot have groups in this province opposing each other - as in the case of shale gas companies and those who oppose them. Whose fault is it? Well, it's those lying,  insane, bullying, ignorant shale gas opponents. Yes. If only they would pay attention to the real truth as explained to them so patiently by the government, the Irving Press, the gas companies things would be so much nicer.

Norbert, not only is this coarse, crude, and disgusting journalism, it also suggests that you oppose democracy. You feel we should all accept the same views. I understand. Joseph Stalin felt exactly the same way.

Then there's his contempt for those who feel they are 'entitled'.  This, he feels, is a terrible thing for the poor and elderly who need help to survive. But it's okay for a businessman who 'earns' millions of dollars a year. Not did Norbert say a word when J.D. Irving told the world that he was entitled to be a member of the government even though he wasn't elected.

And, of course, bosses in business never goof off. And they work as hard as any employee, usually harder. Bull, Norbert. To which add excrement. I have known many, senior bosses in private business to goof off. As for working hard, when I was child, my father shovelled snow for the city for less than a dollar a day. he did it on the coldest of days with newspapers lining his boots because he couldn't afford socks, and the boots leaked. And then he walked over an hour each day to get free milk for me. I don't think many business bosses could do that - or would.

On my first three jobs, I had no chair like the business bosses have. In fact, I had no chair at all. I stood, I worked with metal, I lifted. There were no leisurely lunches or suppers at elegant restaurants; and not a minute off, morning or afternoon.

Most people in this province who have jobs work damned hard, Norbert, a lot harder than a columnists who has spent his life sitting down to write ass-kissing columns in praise of a billionaire. And many of those people - the ones you have contempt for - are, somehow, living on minimum wage or even less.

This column breathes contempt and even hatred for anybody who isn't rich. It reminds me of a popular Canadian television star I once had to take for dinner. It was the longest evening of my life. She spat hatred for the poor and unfailing love for the very rich. (though it never showed on TV.)  Her daughter is a print-out of the mother, and is now a Conservative senator.

I have known many of very rich who were like that who just loved anybody who was very rich - even if just born rich. And who hated anybody who wasn't rich. It's as though they have to justify their own, often worthless, existences.

They particularly, by the way, dislike small entrepreneurs as people who have no 'gumption'.

Of all the very rich I have known, I can think of only one exception to the rule - a gentlemen without pretensions or bigotry. Let's hear it for Eric Molson.

The only op ed column is by Brent Mazerolle. It and  youth columns on pages 14 and 15 of section C were the only ones for Thursday or Friday that were worth reading.  Mr. Mazerolle did what a real journalist does. He asked the tough questions about the recent election.

The problem with electronic counting of the ballots in the recent provincial election got little attention in the Irving Press. But it's a very serious issue - and maybe even a criminal one.

Voting electronically is usually provided by private business - and it has a history of profound corruption. In George Bush's second election to the presidency, it is almost certain that the company handling the voting machines tampered with the results - and that George Bush did not honestly win that election. The New Brunswick election has all the marks of being a repeat of that situation (close vote, gross  mishandling of the vote count.)     And Brian Gallant has not shown much interest in calling for an investigation. (neither did George Bush).                                                                                

The proposal of the electoral officer to have a partial recount is not good enough. We need a full investigation. Good on Brent Mazerolle for saying so.

New of the World is pretty useless. There's Harper's speech at the UN in which he said, "We cannot have a terrorist Caliphate controlling a large swath of territory and carrying out terrorist attacks against targets here and around the world." Bang on, Stevie baby.

We can, of course, have a terrorist USA controlling a large swatch of territory and carrying out terrorist attacks here and around the world. The US has something like a thousand military bases all over the world. Nobody knows how many innocent people it killed in Vietnam and Libya and Iraq and Afghanistan. Nobody knows how many terrorists it has hired to be "rebels' in Syria - or how many innocent people they killed. We do  know that the terrorist slaughter in Guatemala that killed 300,000 was directed by the US. We know that uncounted numbers of people are killed all over the world in terrorist attacks by US drones and special ops. And we know that many of the victims are quite innocent.

And, as Harper says, lack of freedom and democracy may be a cause of terrorism. Yeah. Could be. Too bad the US has been a major factor in killing democracy wherever it raises its head. Just recently - in Egypt, all over Central America, in Ukraine, in Syria; and earlier in Vietnam where it cooperated in the assassination of the president (the one on our side), in China where it maintained the dictatorship of the extraordinarily brutal Chiang Kai shek, in Haiti where it exiled the elected president because he wanted to help his country.....

Yes, Stevie, terrorism is terrible. Even worse, if you try to kill people, they will try to kill back. I don't know why. I guess they're just evil.

It's hard to figure out what's really going on from our newspapers.

Why, in the first place, is it the US taking the lead in all this? Wasn't that what the United Nations was supposed to do? Answer - yes. But the United Nations was deliberately designed, with the full co-operation of the US, to keep the UN ineffective by giving veto power to the major nations.

Nor do our papers tell us that ISIS was created, along with other terrorist groups, by the US and Saudi Arabia to destroy Syria. Why is the US so determined to destroy Syria? Because Syria, like Iran, is friendly with Russia and trades with it. But the US wants dominance (conquest and control), in the region as well as the whole world. Russia has been developing relations and trade with countries like Syria and Iran and China, as well as with some countries in South America. This could turn into a big and complicated war. Which leads us to the big question.

Why does the US want so many countries to join in this war? After all, it is facing an ISIS of only 20.000 to 30.000 troops. As armies go, that's barely enough for a respectable Santa Claus parade in a big city. As well, it  has no air force and, obviously, very little defence against air attack. So why is the US so anxious to draw in so many countries?

This is a guess. But it seems the most likely explanation. Obama expects this conflict to grow into a very much bigger one. And he wants as many countries as possible committed to that bigger war.

Don't leaders like Harper know that? Sure they do. But all of them are vulnerable to US pressure. Till now, Harper has been talking loudly and aggressively but doing as little as possible. Now, the heat is on him - and us - to step up to the plate in a very open-ended game. Harper's  first offer will be a very, very modest one. But that doesn't matter. Once we're in for the small part, we're in for the big part.
The youth columns are all good. I particularly enjoyed a hilarious one by Jerrica Naugler on C14

The Faith Page continues its intense interest pie sales and pancake breakfasts. The sermonette is the usual gobbledygook that sounds religious but seems designed the avoid any evaluation of the spiritual characters of the very rich and greedy,.or of the would-be conquerors among our governments. Come on, guys and gals, what would Jesus do about ISIS? Would He just bomb? Or would He put boots on the ground?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sept. 25: smoking, insanity, and our world...

Sixty-four years ago, tobacco company stocks were the yellow brick road to wealth. Then, in 1950, Reader's Digest ran an article titled "Cancer by the Carton", warning of the dangers of smoking tobacco. The tobacco companies reacted quickly. They set up a foundation to do "research" proving that tobacco was harmless.  (Some admitted the danger, but advertised its filter tips as sure protection.) Camel cigarettes ran ads for years that featured pictures of doctors in white coats saying that Camels were recommended by more doctors than any other cigarette. In fact, the ads said they protected the "T zone" of your mouth and throat.

The tobacco companies were lying - and they knew it. In the 1980s, (when I was a smoker), I knew the owner of Canada's largest tobacco company. She cautioned me about the dangers of tobacco. (She was a very heavy smoker).  But she and all the other owners knew, and had known for many years, that they were killing people by the millions. But business is business; and they happily went on killing - while their "expert" scientists went on spinning out the studies showing tobacco is good for you.

Gee. Funny how that reminds me of shale gas and pipelines and climate changes. But that's what happens when you have an economic system based on the principle of pure greed and self-interest. But there's something even worse.

In our world, the rich and greedy have taken over control of the whole society and its government. That's true of New Brunswick, Canada, the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France.... The people who have taken over are what are called an oligarchy, a handful of the very, very rich who take over the whole society. And, like the tobacco barons, they have their "research groups" like AIMS and the C.D.Howe institute who churn out propaganda, and they own most of the news media that spread that propaganda.

Democracy is over. Even at its best, it was always corrupted by the rich. John A. Macdonald, our first prime minister, was in politics to serve the rich. One of his favours for them was to deliberately starve native peoples on the prairies to death to make way for the railway and for land speculators. Of course, this is covered up in the popular stories of national histories. In the US, Davey Crockett with his coonskin cap is a symbol of American democracy and freedom.

In fact, he was a land speculator and slave trader who killed Mexicans to take their land. He also enthusiastically killed "them thar Injuns" to get them out of the way of land sales. L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was a newspaper editor in North Dakota in the 1880s and 90s. He wrote flaming editorials to rouse hatred of native peoples, and called for all of them to be killed. These articles sparked the hatreds that led to the massacre of Wounded Knee at which native men, women, and children, were simply slaughtered. And still he wanted more, a genocide of all native peoples. That was still a popular view in the 1920s. When the Thompson submachine gun went on the market in the 1920s, the ad showed a (presumably) democratic and free American rancher, shooting native peoples with it.

Anyway, here, where democracy has gone, we had a just pretend election. No party had a platform that even mentioned the major problems  facing this province. The real power in this province is the very rich. They own the government, Liberal or Conservative. (Remember how J.D.Irving, the last time around, named himself a member of the government without getting elected? Nobody said poop then, and nobody did in the election.) The province is poor to make a handful of the very rich even richer. They've been getting richer for over ten years, now. Supposedly, it will now trickle down to us. But the very rich don't let their money trickle anywhere.  Government exists to serve all the people. The very rich exist to serve only themselves. And we now live in a system controlled by the rich only to make themselves richer.

An unthinking and uninformed and heavily propagandized people cannot sustain a democracy, and the people in it cannot be free. But that is what New Brunswick voted for. Enjoy.

The Irving press has little news of the rest of the world. And what it has won't help much in understanding it. The whole North American press is on a hate building campaign aimed at Russians and Muslims. Read almost any news story about ISIS, and you will find it described as brutal and evil.. But I have never seen these words use to describe our side. Let's get real. Western armies have never been made up of choirboys. But most of the news makes sure to express its horror at beheadings - nicely ignoring that western killing of Muslims far exceeds Muslim killings of us.

No reporter I have read or heard has thought to answer what should be obvious questions. Why do we need a coalition to defeat the ISIS army? At 20,000 to 30,000, with limited equipment, and with no air force or navy at all, this is pretty small potatoes as armed forces go.

Worse, the decision of the coalition to rely on bombing means killing civilians, children, women on a large scale. (In fact, some  have already been killed - but our news media don't seem to find that interesting. Is it nicer to kill people with a rocket than with beheading?)

Then there's the coalition. Saudi Arabia, the emirates.....really, if you're going to fight people who behead their enemies, why would you ask for the help of the world's most rigid dictatorships - and the ones that use beheading as a common punishment for even minor crimes? (Oh, yes. There's also France doing some bombing.France is a country notorious for its exploitation and its cruelty in the region. In fact, it's one of the reason why ISIS exists)

Then there's the issue about links between all these countries. Saudi Arabia, the emirates, and the US all have histories of supplying  money and equipment to ISIS - as well as to other terrorist groups.

And we Canadians are being sucked into wars that are none of our business. Worse, they are so open-ended that no-one can guess how wide and destructive they will be. Harper's behaviour is very, very odd.No man has talked a tougher game than Harper. But his action - well, there hasn't been much. He has been extremely unwilling to take in refugees He claims to have limited our contribution to a non-combat role so far. Why so coy? Does he secretly disagree with this war?

It sort of makes you wonder. What is this war really about? And why doesn't the Irving press have a reporter or editor with enough wit to raise these questions. -not to mention the other big issue? Hatred campaigns in the press have two purposes. One is to convince people of the need to go to war. The other is to scare the general population so it will accept the loss of even more freedoms, the intrusivness of more domestic spies, and ever greater militarization of the police with armoured cars, heavier weapons, and more of those neat, camouflage pyjamas.

Meanwhile, the US daily kills "suspects" all over the world with rockets fired by drones. Many of those killed are quite innocent. But it's so much more genteel than beheading - so most of them aren't reported at all.
Even the Irving papers carry reports that not much is going to be done about climate change. Quelle surprise!  There is not the slightest doubt that climate change is happening - though fuel industry sources regularly turn out studies showing that it's not happening, or that it's caused by poor disposal of kitty litter. But far, far more people will die from climate change than from tobacco.

That's because, as in the case of tobacco, there's money to be made from killing people. And the rich exist only to make money - and for themselves. They don't understand anything else. They don't understand how to run a society. They don't understand human needs - and they really aren't interested in trying to.

The winners of the New Brunswick election were greed and ignorance. Nor is there anywhere to hide. The world of 1945 in which we were told our soldiers died to protect freedom and democracy no longer exists. It's gone,  long gone.  Instead, we have a world of greed, arrogance, indifference and of unprecedented suffering, neglect, and brutality. It's a world sustained by news media like the Irving press.
As a postscript, the September issue of CCPA Monitor magazine  has a good article on p.14, "Was willful blindness to blame in Lac-Megantic?" It asks the questions the police and the news media didn't ask about why 47 people were killed.

So far, the blame is being attached to the engine driver and two relatively unimportant railway employees No blame whatever was assigned to the owner of the railway. This account focuses on Transport Canada which, it appears, is completely controlled by the politicians. The result is a regulation body that has virtually no regulations, and approves what it's told to approve.

The story is frightening one of utter incompetence, imposed and encouraged by the Canadian government. It's a story of extreme neglect of safety in both trains and rails. Transport Canada was not really a regulator for the MMA railway, but an accomplice in its extreme neglect of basic safety needs. It permitted a notoriously dangerous company to be free of regulations. (Harper doesn't like regulation of private business).  But investigators didn't bother with that.

It is not possible that Irving Oil did not know the severe dangers of using the MMA. Presumably, they used it because it was the cheapest. And somebody at Irving must have known about the false manifesto claiming the cargo to be less volatile than it was.

And that's why 47 people died.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sept. 23: Well, what can you expect...

..... in a province in which two-thirds of the voters are functionally illiterate, and both the newspapers and the two, traditional political parties are owned by the same people?

       That premier Alward's conservatives almost won the election certainly had nothing to do with any accomplishment of his during his term. And the Liberals, who lost the last election because they were so detested, certainly had nothing exciting going for them in Gallant,  the Liberal leader, who appeared to have no leadership qualities and no platform at all.

     New Brunswick ain't going nowhere. The role of the Irving press in keeping us nowhere is illustrated by an "opinion" column in Monday's issue. Once I tore myself away from the big, front-page story "Moose hunt is tradition in province" to read Craig Babstock on A9, all was revealed. Babstock talks about the stories that attract readers - as measured by the choices of computer subscribers.

      The weather is popular. So are stories about kittens surviving a hurricane, or new restaurants in town.
Culturally, there's a keen interest in announcements musical concerts. But only if they're rock.  And, of course, any breaking news about alcoholic drinks - or sexual offences is good. He seems proudest of the big, big story he covered in which a women got into a row at restaurant and threw a glass of water at the owner. His grand conclusion is that when this woman was prosecuted, it was a victory for society.

     Babstock's column is a classic because it tells us what kind of newspaper this is. There are news media that still believe that the role of a journalist is to keep us informed, and to do so with full honesty. There aren't many, and most of the North American ones are to be found only on your computer - as in "La Presse Libre de Moncton Free Press." You can also find some ( not many) in commercial news publications in other parts or the world - "The Guardian" in Britain, "El Haaretz" in Israel....

       Then there are the scandal mags ("Camilla and Queen have hair-pulling fight", "Shocking truth - John Lennon was a woman"). What Babstock tells us in his column is that the Irving press is a little lower than the scandal mags. It's full of trivia because it's does beyond brainless trivia to include lies and propaganda.

       The Irving ombudswoman, a former editor with a high reputation among real journalists, should read Babstock's column - and wonder why she ever accepted this job.

NewsToday doesn't have any news for Monday.

Section A is mostly about the election. It also has the mandatory analysis by Donald Savoie of U de Moncton who feels that a bare majority means a weak government which will not make the tough decisions a government has to make. Fear not. It won't be making any decisions. J.D Irving and friends will. And I'm sure Dr. Savoie will agree with them.  Watch for the big news that Mr. Irving will call a provincial conference of his best friends to decide on provincial policy.  

Alan Cochrane writes an "opinion" column on the WW2 Sherman tank which stars in a new movie with Brad Pitt. This is worth reading to get a sense of battle conditions - though it has some small errors.

The Sherman was an American tank adopted by Britain and Canada because their own tanks were so awful. Though mechanically reliable, it was not really a very good tank. The armour was weak. The silhouette was  too high and, therefore, an easy target. And the gun inferior to those on German tanks. As a result, it took three to four Shermans to destroy most German tanks - and usually with a high death rate for our side.

That's why the British developed a more effective variant. Called the Firefly, it mounted the much superior British 17-pounder gun. which was delivered to Canadian troops in Italy, and for D-Day. Though still weak in armour and silhouette, it gave our soldiers, like Moncton's 8th Hussars, a far better chance of survival.

I'm not sure, but I think the tank in Victoria Park is the Firefly version.
There's an excellent letter to the editor on a topic that never made it into the Irving news. "Canada's shameful record on Ukraine".In short, it tells the story that the North American press ignored.  It was the US that started the Ukraine problem, not Russia. The US sponsored a revolt that overthrew the elected government.
And that has serious meaning for the next Canadian federal election.

Harper's foreign policy is conducted with no thought for the needs of Canada or any other country. It has everything to do with winning the next Canadian general election. He makes big speeches (but does little) to win the substantial Ukrainian vote. He does the same for Israel so he can get the support of the very wealthy Israeli Lobby to wrap up the Jewish-Canadian vote.

In other words, our next election could be decided by the concentrated vote of two groups who aren't voting for anything that has anything to do with Canada. They are, in effect, voting for two, foreign countries. And Canada may well have to pay one hell of a price for that.
NewsToday, on this day, is for people who really, really want more trivia about the NB election.

For Harper, the big news is that he's at the UN to do nothing about climate change or environmental protection.  Not mentioned is that Obama will be there to take bows for somewhat improving the American approach to climate change. But that's balanced by the fact he will not mention  that in reducing American fossil fuel emissions, Obama also increased sales of American coal to China - thus greatly increasing fossil fuel damage to the whole world.

Then there's a brief story about those terrible ISIL, ISIS, IS people who are threatening terrorist acts in Canada. Odd, that.

For the last 500 years, the western world has murdered, tortured, deliberately starved to death, and abused uncountable millions all over the world. The British killed Chinese to force them to use opium - supplied by the British. And the Chinese people had to meet a yearly sales quota. If they didn't, they had to pay the difference to the British.

They killed all over Asia, Africa, native peoples in North America. And we all sang Rule Britannia and God Save the Queen.

Then the United States enslaved Africans, attacked Canada and Mexico, invaded every country in Central America, killing, brutalizing, starving - then carrying the message of liberty to Hawaii, The Phillippines (partly with the most brutal use of torture. They're still killing and starving not to mention grossly polluting)  in Central America, in Africa, in the middle east. In fact, reliable estimates are that the US is now fighting wars in at least 120 countries, using special ops and/or drones for most of them.

And Obama, just recently, could say to a North American audience that America is known around the world for justice and liberty.

That's where ISIS and Al Quaeda come from. Indeed, such groups, having been created by western brutality and murder, have also received both money and weapons from the west and its allies. (Incidentally, our good buddies in Saudi Arabia commonly behead people for minor offences. Of course, those people aren't North Americans. So it's okay.)

Murder, torture, starvation and exploitation have created these groups. Obama's war will simply create more of them. And, well, after all that killing, some of our victims are shooting back. What arrogance! Harper's right. They're evil. Unlike us Christians.

And why did we have all these wars? Check them out. You'll find that every one of them was caused by the greed of a business class without morals, without controls but with lots of power over governments. You might raise that as a topic next time you're having the fellowship of coffee in the barn at the Irving Chapel.
There's so little in the Irving press that I thought I'd add a few things I learned by not reading North American  commercial news media.

1. Most Americans, kept in innocence they their news media, think the US spends at least a third of its foreign aid budget to alleviate poverty around the world. In fact, less that 1% to alleviate poverty. (It's .7%)
Like all foreign aid, American businesspeople get some 95% of all aid money. And that means business gets to keep all or most of it. That's why most American aid to clean up Haiti after its earthquake never arrived.

In general, the US spends more on lawn care than on foreign aid, more on candy, and more on soft drinks. Based on GDP, the US ranks 19th in the industrialized world for foreign aid.

2. The biggest recipient of US foreign aid by far is Israel.  In fact, Israel has been given so much aid that it is now one of the world's largest producers of military weapons. And it is able to sustain what may well be one of the most expensive and effective lobby groups in the USA and Canada.

3. And that connects with another story that got little reporting when it happened in 1967 - and has never been followed up.
    Israel was at war in 1967. Off its coast, and in international waters, was an American ship, USS Liberty. It was a communications (spy) ship. Suddenly, it was attacked for three hours by unmarked Israeli jets, and by Israeli torpedo boats.A lifeboat filled with sailors abandoning ship was strafed. ( That's a war crime.)  Thirty-four American sailors were killed, and 172 wounded. Survivors and their families are still asking the US for a full investigation - with no luck.

Incidentally, the ship flew an American flag for all three hours. Israel was informed it would be there - and was told many times during the attack it was an American ship.

After the first announcement, the news media said no more. Obviously, it was told to shut up.

I have long wondered why the captain of the Liberty did not request help from an American carrier that was within range. Recently, I found out. He did call for  help. Repeatedly. The carrier sent off its aircraft. Then, within minutes, they were recalled. It's not clear what the source of the recall was - but there seems a strong possibility it was president Lyndon B. Johnson. God bless America.

4. The US defence budget, long the biggest one in the world, has almost doubled since 2001. In that time, the American economy has declined with dreadful hardship being inflicted on many millions of Americans. Provision for housing, health, even for food, is out of reach - even as the very rich are making their biggest profits in history.

And the American dollar is on uncertain ground, saved only by its general use for international trade. But that general use could be broken very soon.

The result is a debased form of capitalism which has to kill and destroy in order to function. And, ultimately, it will destroy itself.

And that's what we voted for on Monday.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sept. 20: What a dreary life...

...to read the Irving press every day. Other papers, even the bad ones, at least dream up exciting headlines like "Drug-crazed Stephen Harper dances naked at evangelical conference".

Nor is it necessary invent interesting stories. In The Atlantic for June 2014, there was a fascinating story on where the wage gap comes from (in the US, but I expect it's the same in Canada), It's called "How the rich shall inherit the earth".  Average income has been relatively flat for a century.(The chart is designed to allow for inflation). The top 1% have piled up wealth at a much greater rate. But it's the .01% who  have really shot up spectacularly,  Who are the top .01%? And how do they make their money?

Half of them are corporation executives or in finance. Others have rich parents.  The incomes of such people were relatively stable for most of a century, Then 1990 to 1999 saw a sudden burp, and since then it's been a skyrocket. But most of it isn't in cash. It's in stocks. There are two advantages to that.

One advantage of that is that a stock market can do very well, indeed, even as a country sinks into poverty. In fact, we're seeing that in North America.

The other is that profits made on the stock market are very lightly taxed.

Most of us are not doing well. But the stock market is. And when it gets into trouble? Well, that's when the people who caused the trouble tell us to bail them out. And we do, making us poorer and them richer. The whole story is told in a new book by Thomas Piketty,  "Capital in the Twenty-first Century". Maybe our editors could look it over, along with their Bible about the fiscal cliff.

Increasingly, the families of the .01% become dynasties like the aristocracies of old. In effect, they become the government - and the function of government becomes to enrich them even more. In fact, we're already there. But the old aristocracy was wiser.

It put it's able sons in government to become political rulers, ambassadors, or in family-owned businesses to become ever richer. The untalented ones were put in the army to become generals. Alas! I have not seen our aristocracy developing a similar disposal system for its useless progeny.

Anyway, the Irving press would never run such a story. But there's another one - important, easy to do, inoffensive to the Irvings and, since it's nearby, would follow the Irving reporters' method of keeping our noses in our own bellybuttons. There's a new book, reviewed in this month's Literary Review of Canada, by Rose Ricciardelli, "Surviving  Incarceration: Inside Canadian Prisons". This is important because Harper, even as the crime rate drops, has been stuffing our prisons to dangerous overcrowding, and serious neglect of any attempt at rehabilitation - and at a huge cost of over 2 billion dollars.

Even Conrad Black, a man outstanding for his self-serving ways and who is far more conservative than Harper and whose convict experience was in what is relatively a gentleman's club for rich convicts, has turned against our medieval prison system.

I was many times alone with a roomful of extremely violent men (in the time I was there they killed a shop instructor, stabbing him with a screwdriver.) Long prison terms in such a vile and dangerous place did not make them better; it made them worse. Harper, though knowing that, has spent billions to make the prisons worse. I has nothing to do with crime. It has to do with getting himself re-elected.

There's a prison nearby us. It would mean missing stories about a new ice cream shop or another hall of fame featuring Irvings.   But surely they have a reporter who could write something intelligent and useful in just a few visits.

Okay, I know. I  have to say something about the Times and Transcript itself.

Alec Bruce writes a touching piece on the importance of our thinking about the society we want -and that we vote for. Alas! Almost two thirds of the people who need to know that are functionally illiterate.  (In Canada, almost half of all adults are only semi-literate - and the situation is expected to get much worse. As well in Canada, two out of ten university graduates rank low in literacy.)

Norbert writes on literacy, too. For a change, he does not blame the teachers He notes, in fact, that schools are loaded down with responsibilities for curing all sorts of social problems - but are rarely given any money to do it.

Why is this happening? Because most of our society doesn't give a damn. Then there are the other influences like TV, game phones, computers - even the school bus. When I was in high school, there was no school bus. We were expected to use public transport. As a consequence it was possible for students to stay an extra hour or so for clubs. Volunteer teachers stayed after school for the writing club, the current events club, the chemistry club... We even had clubs at lunch hour like the Kiwanis club that invited guest speakers. These were a great bonus for schools. But the school bus killed them. Nor have other organizations taken up much of the slack.

Cole Hobson wastes half a page for his 'feel-good" column on  how good Moncton people are.

Cyprian Okana contributes the second part of his column on foreign students. This clarifies his first one a bit. But we still need some tightly focused  examination of specific problems faced by foreign students (one problem at a time), with clear suggestions of what should be done.

But where, I wonder, is Gwynne Dyer? He's world famous for insight and honesty in dealing with foreign affairs - something the Irving press is dreadfully weak on is insight and honesty. But his column has been absent for quite a while now.

Instead, we have to turn to NewsToday with its thoughtless, ill-informed and propaganda-laden story of the visit of the Ukrainian President's visit to Washington as seen by the Associated Press. The story, on B7, is three columns. The third column is devoted entirely to propaganda.

It lays all the blame of Russia, mentioning something I have not seen before, an accusation that this has all has been caused by a Russian plan to conquer Europe. Where did that story come from? Then there's the suggestion that Russia started it all by invading Crimea. And of course, the current Ukraine government is 'legal'.

There is no mention that this all began with the overthrow of Ukraine's real, legal government by riots almost certainly created by the US, no mention that the government then formed was illegal, and the further problem that the election it called is questionable since it was held in the middle of a civil war.

At the end, a US senator is quoted as saying "Putin has upended the social order".  Oh? And exactly what is the social order? And who set it?
For Saturday, A1 has a story about the Saskatchewan premier's opinion on fracking. Of course, it's a big story. He's in favour of it. Mr. Irving approves of stories about people who approve of fracking. And what a coincidence it should appear just before election day.

A4 has the regular election fearture "A Better New Brunswick" in which it interviews with local notables, on what New Brunswick needs in its politics. This time it's Marc Chouinard, manager of the Capitol Theatre.  I have no idea why this was done. Certainly,  he has excellent credentials in the cultural field. But none in government. And it shows.

He makes grand but vague statements. "The province is at a cross-roads....get people to work together...make culture an integral element in the development of our communities..." I don't even know what that last statement means. Culture already is in our communities, and even in bunches of chimpanzees. It's an impressive word. But nobody knows exactly what it means.

This is no criticism of Chouinard. It's a criticism of editors who have done a really sloppy job of creating this column in the first place.

There's nothing in Section A worth reading.
In NewsToday, Canada's foreign minister, Baird, continues to make an ass of himself. This is the mental midget who last week said that ISIS is the great war of this generation.  Come off it. Even Afghanistan has been far bigger. Then he says,"Iran is involved in a negative way in every single country in the region." First, it isn't. Secondly, the US is involved in a negative way in most of the world. Then he says Iran persecutes women and gays. Hey, you want to see persecution of women and gays, Mr. Baird? Then drop in on our good ally and buddy, Saudi Arabia. It probably has fewer human rights than any country in the world. Anyway, it wasn't a hundred years ago that it was legal for a man to beat his wife in Canada. And recently, very recently, it was a sport to beat up gays in Canada and to deny them employment.  What a bozo for foreign minister!  As for Iran, he builds on the standard fear that Iran is working on a nuclear bomb. Even US intelligence has long ago said it has no evidence that Iran is working on a bomb.

Also on B1 is a report that, despite flare-ups, the Ukraine peace talks are going well. The report, for a change a real news story with no propaganda in it, is from The Associated Press.

On the Faith Page, our churches are awash in doing the Lord's work with dinners, bake sales.... I guess they figure Jesus was one, big eater.  The sermonette, as always, discusses the Bible without once relating it to anything in our daily world.

According to the large ad on the page, there are only three churches in Moncton. That suggests to me that our hall of fame philanthropist nails the churches for advertising fees. That's odd. Open a new bar, and he'll give it a big news story - no charge.
ISIS is still a mystery. At a time when it should be reeling from attacks by the coalition of the willing, it has captured considerable Kurd territory, creating thousands of refugees. Meanwhile, the coalition of the willing hasn't been willing to do much beyond some bombing by the US and France. Australia seems to be the only volunteer to put boots on the ground - but not very many.

More curious is that a member of the coalition is Saudi Arabia which has played a major role in financing and equipping ISIS. And so has the US. Canada's "willingness" though highly praised by Obama hasn't amounted to much. NATO seems notably shy about the whole thing - as are the Arab states. To complicate matters, there are so many agencies, individuals, and power groups playing games in Washington that it's hard to know who's in charge.

Obama's original purpose was to destroy Syria as a nation -and to get rid of Assad because he's too friendly with Russia. Then it became a purpose to  destroy Iraq into a group of tiny and powerless states. That was to be the role of ISIS. The hostility to Iran was largely for the same reason as hostility to Syria. They were both developing trade with Russia. But now Obama is smiling at Iran. (Baird really should keep up with the US news media to know the latest propaganda.)

Then there's the well advertised killings of western journalists. Why the advertising? Is it possible that some Washington agency, in contact with ISIS set this up? I know that sounds crazy. But we live in one hell of an immoral world in which, to some people, human life means nothing at all. And, of course, you need an excuse for a war. This kind of act, to create an excuse for war, has a long, long history. It's also necessary to drive the American people into a frenzy of fear so that they will support the war. (Oh, they're going to come with their camels and kill us in our sleep.) It's also a way to get support for driving up defence spending, militarizing the police, and reducing constitutional rights to make it easier for domestic spies to check on anybody the government doesn't like.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sept. 18: Our private news media - from one who knows...

The name of Ray McGovern isn't well known these days. But for over thirty years he was a top analyst for the CIA, and he was a Washington insider at the highest levels. In the days of President Reagan, he was the man who briefed the president every day.

He knew all that was going on; and he came to realize how immoral and destructive it all was. So, after retirement, he founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. One of his conclusions is that American (and he could have included Canadian) news media are thoroughly corrupted. Like the Irving press, almost all - newspaper, radio, TV -are owned by a small number of very wealthy people who use them to spread propaganda and, when useful, hatred and hysteria.

(There are exceptions. The Irving press, for example, devotes only its foreign news to manipulate hatred and hysteria. And local news is usually limited to trivia and propaganda. For example, read one of its editorials - any one of them. The purpose of Section A is not to spread propaganda but the put New Brunswick into a stupor.)

There's a good video of McGovern explaining how this works. Just google International Clearing House. Go to the stories for September 16 and stop at "The Fourth Estate is Dead: We no longer have a free news media". It has, he says, been captured by corporations, the military/industrial complex, and the intelligence services. That's a reality that we're going to have to face some day.

And if we don't have free news media, we don't have democracy. Get used to it. The world that we, every Nov. 11, say our military died to uphold, is gone. In particular, it no longer exists in Canada or the US.

Most of our news media now are there to manipulate us for the profit of the very, very rich. The Irving press people, lacking the brains to manipulate us, simply keep us in a stupor.

A sample of the manipulation came from Bob Scheiffer, host of CBS "Face the Nation". In reference to ISIS beheadings, he said, "What kind of people kill the innocent in the hope of impressing their enemies? These kind of people, barbarians, psychopaths.."

I quite agree with him, and I wonder why our news people didn't didn't think of that when our side was deliberately massacring innocent civilians by the million in Vietnam, Guatemala, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan - and is still killing uncounted numbers of civilians all over the world.

Indeed, the whole history of our glorious empires - Britain, Spain, Italy, France and now the US - is a history of murdering innocent people all over the world. But I've never seen a history book that said Queen Victoria was a psychopath or a barbarian.  Even in Canada, this branch office of empire, I've never seen any such name-calling of, for example, John A. Macdonald, who deliberately allowed mass starvation of native peoples in western Canada.

In fact, by World War Two, the mass murder of civilians by terror bombings had become standard practice on both sides. That's why the US carried out the fire-bombing of Tokyo that killed a hundred thousand - and then the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They were targets made up largely of civilians. That's why they were chosen - because they were civilian targets.

Indiscriminate terror bombing of civilians by air is something that began in colonial wars even before World War 1. The Germans used it against Spain before World War 2. (Under images in google, look under Guernica). By the end of the war, it was standard practice by the psychopaths on both sides.

We'll be getting the full treatment on this in our press by tomorrow. Australia has charged some Muslims with planning to behead people in the streets of Australian cities. And that's not nice. Civilized people like Christians and Jews bomb them in the streets of Damascus and Palestine.

Probably the longest news story on A1 of the Sept. 16 TandT is "Leaders must ask tough questions: expert"
Wow! who woulda thunk it? This is the intro to a story about a pep talk given to some 2,000 business people, politicians, students. Business people just love these pep talks, and there's good money in giving them.  What they dish out is something like those awful sermonettes we get on the Faith Page, lots of what should be obvious advice presented as if it were the latest insight from the mount.

Business people like them because the level of advice is always in a class with the standard advice for a child - don't pick your nose in public. And we're also given lots of important information in the story like - he spoke sitting on a stool beside a table. And sure enough, inside is a picture of hims sitting on a stool beside a table. What a guy!

The morning session was similar stuff delivered by an Olympic gold medalist. She isn't listed as an expert on the subject but, hey, she has two Olympic gold medals. In attendance for her were over 6,200 school students.

Whoa! That must mean that almost all the high school students in the city missed half a day of class for ----what? A pep talk from somebody with two gold medals?

These leadership talks can make good money for the speakers. But I would certainly not waste half a day of education to make students sit through one.
The editorial, again and as almost always, is on a very local topic. I's the only daily I've ever seen that does that. I think what that tells us is that editors don't know anything else but local matters.

The best part of the op ed page is a letter to the editor "Test scores inadequate way to assess teachers' pay."
It's a response to a "study" by the Fraser Institute (a front for big business), which claims that paying extra to teachers whose students do well on test scores would be an effective way of improving education.

The writer points to a study on it, showing that such extra payments have no effect at all on a student's performance. Again, big business is sticking its nose into the education of our children - and doesn't know what it's talking about. Test scores are profoundly affected by family income levels, by parental attitudes, by social pressures. Paying teachers more or less will not have the slightest effect on that.

Big business is wild for huge bonuses, so they naturally see this as a device to help them commercialize education. The reality is that it's not at all clear  that it works for business, either. The great bailouts of major business were all of companies, especially banks and auto builders, that were close to ruin as a result of decisions by their high-priced leaders. Their is no reason to believe that paying a CEO millions will make him or her a better CEO.

And their is no reason whatever to believe that a man who inherits an oil company has any special gifts to operate any social institution like a school or a  health system. Or even an oil company.

NewsToday should be called NoNewsToday. It has almost nothing on a world that is teetering on the edge of world war. And so far, there has been no mention of the American government spending a trillion dollars over budget last year. Nor does it answer the question of how the US will every repay that.

Answer: It won't.
For December, a big story is on P.A2. Industry minister welcomes Burger King. It includes a long statement from the minister, Jim Moore, who specializes in making long statements that say nothing.

On A6. we learn that Steven Williams, a combat sport promoter is excited that we will soon see commercial combat sport in Moncton again. And it will be safer with government regulations controlling it. Right.

I had an uncle who was a coach for boxing in the Olympics, and also coached both amateurs and pros. So I knew a lot of boxers. But I can't think of one who did not suffer permanent damage from boxing. Physically damaging an opponent is what boxing is about, with much of the damage being permanent. And boxing is regulated by the government.

Combat sport is even more damaging. (That's what attracts spectators who are too intellectually challenged to follow boxing.) And that's why there are many who oppose it. The news article makes not a single mention of any of this. Reporters - you're supposed to ask questions or, at a minimum, to think.

The only item worth reading in Section A is Alec Bruce's very impartial column on fracking.

Rod Allen trivializes Scottish separation  with a column of juvenile humour.

Page 1 of NewsToday has a story of President Poroshenko visiting Canada's Parliament. It reads as though the reporter wrote it while on his knees, and slobbering over the president's shoes. Harper chimes in that Canada will fight at Ukraine's side if it takes fifty years.  (But dinna fash yoursel' as my Scottish mother used to say. The war would end for us just as soon as Harper wins the next election with the massive support of the Ukrainian-Canadian bloc. In any case, there is no possiblity of it lasting fifty years in a nuclear world.)

On B5 "NDP's Mulcair refuses to back 'non-combat' deployment in Iraq". But Justin Trudeau does back it because Iraq has hundreds of thousands of displaced people whom Canada has a responsibility to protect.

Uh - Justin - Iraq had millions of displaced people when the US invaded. How come you weren't calling for Canada to protect those people then?

For the illiterate set, B7 has a page of colour photos of people holding up oversized cheques for various causes.

And that's about it.
Nothing in those two papers would help anyone to understand anything. They are classic examples of Irving's modus operandi - to keep the people of New Brunswick as ignorant and as trivial as possible. So let's do a quickie on what's happening in the world.

For the last several centuries (perhaps forever), wars have been fought to make the super-rich richer. They sucker us into it by telling us how evil the other side is   In the last century and more, news media have been the favourite device for manipulating our thinking.

The usual purpose of the war is to grab control of  a country and it's economy - or to knock off a commercial competitor.

The usual device to get control of a country is to build an empire. with the defeated being ruled either directly or indirectly by the conqueror. And sometimes it's by making a country an "ally" as in the case of the European union. West European countries follow US orders because they have no choice. Britain began to realize back in the 1870s that it had to court US favours because standing along was becoming impossible for it. And that came at a price. The price today is that Britain has be on board for a war with IS and another with Russia - as it was with Iraq and Afghanistan.

The wars of empire have been extraordinarily brutal - killing, torturing, starving, impoverishing more millions than have ever been counted. The objectives were resources, cheap labour, slaves. In the latter, the trade of African slaves, estimates of those who died just in transit are as high as 60,000,000. George Washington was the biggest slave-owner in the American colonies. That's why there were two groups who were not equal in the land of the free and the home of the brave - African slaves, and women of any colour.

Typically, the average Englishman or average citizen of any imperial power got little or no benefit from the empire. The profits went to the already rich. The world's biggest empire today, by far, is the US where the rich are daily getting richer, and the average American is suffering severe economic hardship - which our papers never report. Well, why should they? They don't much report it there, either.

Empires don't go to war to help anybody except themselves. There are important people in the US who want a war with Russia. And they want Ukraine for strategic reasons - to attack Russia. That's why they overthrew the legally elected government of Ukraine. They want Russia because they want to end Russian commercial competition. (This has nothing to do with the size of that competition. They war against much smaller countries for the same reason.)

They want Iran for two reasons. They want control of its oil (That's why they, for  years, imposed a dictator on Iran). They also want to control Iran's trade because much of it is with Russia. The talk about Iran and nuclear weapons is just a cover.

They want to destroy Assad and the Syrian nation for the same reasons.

They foam at the mouth over Cuba for reasons that have nothing to do with freedom. In fact, Castro got rid of an American-imposed dictator. Then, when the US cut trade ties with Cuba, Castro had to find a market. So he found it - with Russia.

And Iraq? We have never had a coherent statement of what the Iraq war was about in the first place. Certainly, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. What seems clear is that the US wants Iraq to be split up into smaller and weaker states (just as it wants for Syria). But it's approach is puzzling. It cannot win a war simply by bombing.  They seem to be relying on Arab boots on the ground - but there is no great enthusiasm for this in the Arab world. As well, his major recruits so far for the "coalition" are Saudi Arabia and the emirates, all three of whom have been the major contributors to ISIS.

What the US seems to want in that whole region is national breakup to create small states of no power, and all of them dominated by American big business (with whatever Brits, Canadians, French, etc. can beg for a piece of the action.)

The big question is - why is ISIS using public beheadings of American and British subjects? Is Bill Scheiffer right? Are they psychopaths? Maybe so. But if they are, the western world, too, is full of pyschopathic politicians and big business people. And there are certainly lots of people on both sides who are evil.

But that doesn't mean they're stupid. I suspect ISIS is making a big show of public beheadings precisely to get the reaction it is getting. And I suspect it has some connection with that massive debt the US has.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sept. 16: The new, reorganized Times and Transcript is even worse than the old one.

And the old one was wretched, indeed. I watch in amazement as blog readership climbs spectacularly in France, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Germany.... It must make them feel good to learn that our news media are worse then theirs. Typical is p. 3 which gives almost the whole page to just two stories, neither of any importance whatever. One is that tourism hotel managers will hold a meeting in Moncton. Who could possibly give a damn?

The other big story? Moncton will have a display by all its tattoo artists. Be still, my heart.

A4 is eleven, count them, eleven photos of children playing street hockey - with another photo of them on A1.

A7 is a whole page of photos of an agricultural exhibition. Well, photos are cheap.

And that brings us to the editorial and op ed pages. Norbert bemoans the loss of democracy in New Brunswick. But, of course, he doesn't mention the cause of that loss. The cause is his newspapers' owners who keep it no secret that they run the government, no matter who gets elected. And, since he never identifies the cause, he offers a useless cure. Voters should get mad. They should vote against what they don't like which, according to Norbert, is all the parties. Actually, Norbert, it might help if  your paper were to give more information and more honest information. But that won't happen.

Alec Bruce attacks all the parties for their failure to take clear and consistent stands on fracking. And that's a reasonable complaint. But it doesn't matter.

Whatever party we elect will not be the government. Mr. Irving will be unto the umpteenth generation. And the laws and, therefore, the police, will be on his side. That's why police forces all over North America are militarizing. That's why they're getting armoured cars and "emergency response" teams equipped with war gear, combat rifles and macho camouflage outfits.

Big business has taken over North America. It's not worried about violence because the big guns are on its side. We probably will see lots more violence. I can't imagine that benefiting anybody in the long run. Violence seldom does benefit anybody. But this is where greed and the lust for power has taken us.

On op ed, Craig Babstock does his usual schtick - a story from the law courts about some minor affair that few will be interested in.

I recommend Steve Malloy, though. He writes about the recent scandal of the publication of  pictures of celebrities in the nude who thought their pictures were safely stored in their cell phones. Apparently, millions of people have very private messages and pictures in their cell phones. And there are lots of people who can get them out -and post them for all to see on the web. This is worth knowing about.

Then there's a letter to the editor. Unintentionally, it's about what political words mean. The writer is angry at a Liberal politician because she is a "small c" conservative which, she says, means she is against government spending and legal abortion.

Actually, that's not what the word conservative means. It has nothing to do with either spending or abortion. It's about the structure of society, and how we are all connected to each other. "Small l" Liberalism goes to the other extreme, allowing individuals to ignore social responsibilities. As for the big L and big C parties, the words Liberal and Conservative have no meaning at all. They haven't for over a century in Canada.

The big story in NewsToday is on B4. It's about how Prince Edward shook hands with 87 people at some gathering.  Oh, I could die. I could just die.

With much of the world drifting to nuclear war, the TandT couldn't find anything interesting or important in the rest of the world - except for Scotland's vote on independence.

The only story worth reading in the whole, news section is that Harper is mounting a tax audit on a left-leaning think tank because it is biased, and therefore undeserving of any special tax status.

It's called the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. I subscribe to it because its articles are always well-researched and well-written. Well, Harper doesn't want that sort of thing in his country. Mind you, openly propaganda outfits like Aims and C.D.Howe Institute are okay. I mean, they're backed by billionaires. And they routinely get respectful stories told about them in the Irving Press. But we don't want any of this left-wing stuff. O Canada! The true north strong and ???? (I forget that last word.)

Anyway, academics across Canada are complaining about Harper's very political interference in this case.

Tuesday's section A is as bad as Monday's.

On A10, both the editorial and Alec Bruce are united in being opposed to any tax the rich scheme that some politicians have been talking about. Well.......

Where has our money gone? The very rich have it. It's a part of what we have come to call the wage gap.  Increasingly, the rich keep the rewards for themselves. That's why we're getting poorer. Inevitably, this becomes the 1930s all over again with the most of us living in wretched poverty - and the rich sneering at us.

Oh, but if the rich get a lot of money, won't they invest it in jobs for us?

No. They'll invest in some third world country to take advantage of its even deeper poverty and lack of any regulations or restrictions. And they'll even get help from that country's government to kill people who complain.  That's what Guatemala is about. That's what Congo is about.

Alec Bruce is right, though. If you charge the rich higher taxes, they won't pay them. They almost certainly are not paying even at the present rates.  But they freely get government to pick our pockets to give them interest-free loans, resources, and freebies. And that brings us the central problem in New Brunswick, the power of big business to control the province and to bleed it dry.

No. Raising their taxes won't work because they won't pay. But that doesn't change who is causing the problem. And it doesn't change who we should plan to get our money back from. That's where the money is. There is no point in searching for it where it isn't.

By the way, the political cartoonist, de Adder has been doing excellent work lately. I've long thought of Aislin at The Montreal Gazette (and an old friend) as the best editorial cartoonist in Canada. But de Adder, especially lately, has been right up there with the best.
Alan Cochrane has the usual, utterly pointless column, this time about Highgate Square. Then there's an almost incomprehensible article by a president of some marketing company dealing, I presume, with foreign students who come  here for university. Some of them, we are told, bring democracy back to their countries. Oh? Name one.

Then we are told they have to adjust to a Canadian teaching system, presumably in universities, which is student-centred rather than the teacher-centred systems they are used to. Come off it. Canadian universities are NOT student centred. Professors rarely know much about their students. Nor do they want to know. Nor do they know much about teaching, itself. And most don't want to know.

In general, I just cannot see the point of this 'opinion' column.

There is, however, a superb letter to the editor, "Western governments never learn from mistakes'. It's about the real reason the west gets into so many wars, and how our leaders lie about their reasons for going to war. This is a letter that goes a long way to explain why Obama is so keen to go to war in Iraq and Syria. It's good for big business.

He's not doing it because an American was beheaded. The US government is quite accustomed to blowing civilians - men, women, elderly, children - into shreds of flesh. Beheading would actually be a step up on the moral ladder for it. But it's a great way to stir up the necessary hatred to justify a war.

By the way, why hasn't any reporter or editor wondered about why the Islamic State has been so dramatic with its beheadings, even sending videos out to the world? Surely, the reason is obvious. It wants the west to intervene. It gave Obama and Cameron the excuse they needed. There's a lot going on that we aren't hearing about.
NewsToday has almost no real news at all. Mike Duffy's trial began today. Okay. That one sentence tells me all there is to say about it.

Also on B1, Harper makes a statement so foolish it should embarrass every Canadian. There is no cause for the rise of the ISIL,  he says. It is just "evil" and "vile". That can mean only one of two things. Arabs are evil because they are genetically different from us. In other words, he's racist. Or, it could mean that  Islam is an evil and vile faith. Well, you're treading on dangerous ground, Stevie. I mean, Christians have been the big killers all over the world for centuries, now. Is it really wise to accuse another religion of being evil?

Almost all of Harper's foreign affairs statements are like that - very short, very simplistic. What causes war? Evil people. Israel was entirely right (in bombing schools and hospital and killing children) in Gaza. The US is entirely right in intervening in Ukraine (though it would be entirely wrong for any country to intervene in a US civil war. The Islamic State is entirely wrong to invade Iraq. (Oh? So how come the US was entirely right to do the same thing?)

In fact, Harper may be the first prime minister to have no foreign policy at all. Whatever he says is geared to the next election, and the voting blocks, notably Jewish-Canadian and Ukrainian-Canadian, he wants to snap up.
The one news story above all others I would suggest you read is "Bishop urges Catholics to vote using 'Christian conscience'"

The story is about an extremely vague and empty statement made by Bishop Robert Harris who is the highest official in the Roman Catholic church in New Brunswick. Roughly, he says, "as Catholic women and men, we have an obligation to inform ourselves on the issues in any particular election  and of the positions taken by those who are presenting themselves as candidates."

And so it goes, on and on, saying nothing but using a lot of words to say it. However, the reporter wrote that he was talking about the abortion issue. And so the message is "don't vote for anybody who supports abortion".

Look. The Bible says a lot of things. It says we should stone disobedient children to death. It says we should stone unfaithful wives. (No. The Islamic State did not invent that. It was a feature of Judaism and Christianity before there were any Moslems)

The Bible says we should roast fatted oxen because the odour is pleasing to the Lord. (And all we get are these lousy pancake breakfasts.)

What clergy (both Protestant and Catholic) do is to focus on just a few commands that don't in any way inconvenience them.) For some, it's "Thou shalt not kill."  So that is used to cancel abortion. Well, what the hell, it's easy for a bishop to say that. Hardly any Bishops ever need an abortion.

Protestants are no better. I well remember the Baptist Church on St. George St. with a sign that said "Pray for our soldiers in Afghanistan." I guess that was picked out of the bunch of commands to satisfy "Thou shalt love thy neighbour...."  But this was a war that was also killing soldiers on the other side, civilians - men, women and children. I think Jesus meant them to be loved, too.

For that matter, every Christian army I have ever heard of has had the support of Christian churches in doing its killing. At the time of the Cuban revolution, Cardinal Spellman blessed the bombs that were to be dropped on that country. Hitler had clergy, both Protestant and Catholic, to bless his soldiers, and even to bless those who were detailed to round up Jews for the camps. There are Christian fundamentalists in Canada and the US today who rejoice that the world is dissolving into a slaughterhouse because it's a sign that Jesus is coming back. They enthusiastically endorsed the killing of millions in Vietnam, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan.

Yes, The Bible says thou shalt not kill.Well, the biggest killing we do is in wars. The very Christian US now leads the world in killing and in spending on weapons.

Tell you what, Bishop. Make a tough statement about the extensive killing we do all over the world - and with the blessing of the churches. Then we'll discuss abortion.

Meanwhile, it would be nice to have more (and more accurate) information, especially Ukraine, Iraq and Syria. Ukraine has by no means quieted.   -a few points to watch - NATO is carrying out military exercises inside Ukraine,  a good way  to start a big war - it is obvious that Kyiv cannot beat the rebels without massive help from NATO - and Russia cannot stand by and just watch Russian-Ukrainians being killed.

The coalition to fight the Islamic State is bizarre. Nobody is keen to put ground troops in there. The US is restricting itself to bombing. That cannot be done without heavy civilian casualties, especially where the IS troops are in cities. And it cannot be done without heavy civilian casualties in Syria, where IS had its birth. The US will also want this as an excuse to bomb Assad's forces as a step to destroy Syria as a nation. Again, the civilian casualties will be high.

If the US does have to use ground troops, they are likely to hire mercenaries - which are very brutal, indeed, and with many of them affiliated with the rebels in Syria who, in turn, are largely made up of terrorist groups.

Then there's the coalition, itself. Few of them are all that keen. Most, like Harper, want to make a small contribution, with a provision to get out at any point. Others, like Saudi Arabia, have actually been supplying money and weapons for the Islamic State.

War in either Ukraine or Iraq and Syria could easily become a world war. Either could be costly enough to seriously undermine the US economy. It could also encourage a larger coalition forming to place limits on the US. From Bush through Obama we have seen nothing but disasters in foreign affairs. And this looks like two more in the making.

And then there's the curiosity of IS fighters taunting the US and Britain with the beheadings. I think they see the disaster for the US that is shaping up.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

late on a Sunday night - and not the usual blog

I guess it all started when Obama gave his fatuous, self-serving, and lying address on the "war against terror".

Maybe it was that bit about how the world looks to America to lead for justice and freedom. This is grade school storybook stuff. The trouble is that so many Americans believe it when, in fact, the US may well now be the most hated nation in the world.

It has never led anything for Justice and Freedom. American history from the start has been a history of aggression, conquest and exploitation. First they conquered and killed and/or displaced the native peoples (just as Canada did.)  Then they attacked their neighbour, Canada, just as they now claim Russia is doing in Ukraine. Then they attacked Mexico and stole a  third of its territory to create much of the US southwest. They annexed Hawaii without the consent of the Hawaiian people. They conquered Central America. And they still have spies, destabilizing groups, and killer squads all over South America. They have special ops and killer drones operating in nobody knows how many countries. In the last fifty years, they have bombed and murdered millions, the majority of them civilians - and tortured nobody knows how many thousands. In a recent release, we learned that they allowed some 400,000 Iraqi children to die of starvation in the years following the Iraq war.

The greed and slaughter of their governments had caused large numbers of Americans, probably a majority, to turn against the constant wars of their governments. A world leader for justice and freedom? I don't think so. More likely, it is the most hated nation in the world.

Now, Obama has won the hearts of Americans to fight a war against the Islamic State. Why? Because its soldiers beheaded a man.  No, no, that's not it. Thousands have been beheaded in recent wars. But - IS beheaded an American.

You would think it's not a good reason to start bombing cities and killing innocent people in a country that has already suffered massive killing and impoverishment thanks to the American government. In fact, it has already killed some civilians in this most recent tizzy fit. And it's going to kill a lot more because you can't drop bombs without killing innocent people. Lots of them.

So why has American public opinion about war changed so quickly?  Well, that takes us to a British army colonel, Baden-Powell, who became the founder of the Boy Scouts.

Baden-Powell became famous because of the Boer War in South Africa where he for months defended the town of Mafeking.  At the time, the cheap, mass-circulation newspaper had just come into existence. The trouble was the the news from South Africa was terrible for the British papers. And they couldn't sell papers with nothing but bad news. They needed a hero.

So they made one. Baden-Powell, the courageous, English leader became a fixture in the press. He whistled to keep up the spirits of the defenders. It was said the  natives called him, "the one who never sleeps." (The person who said that was, in fact, Baden-Powell.)

At last, the British sent a large army to relieve Mafeking. And the English-speaking world went wild, so wild that fever-pitched demonstrating in Britain is still sometimes called 'mafeking'.  But the  army was not nearly so pleased..

Baden-Powell was not supposed to be defending Mafeking - or any other place. His assignment had been to keep his regiment moving as a sort guerrilla army, tying down Boer forces as he struck, ran, and struck again.. Instead, the first thing he did was to get locked up in Mafeking so it took months and a large army to get him out. The army wanted to fire him.

But they couldn't. He was a hero on a giant scale. They had to make him a general. (But they never gave him a command again. When he offered his services to the army in 1914, they declined, saying his work with Boy Scouts was more important than World War 1.)

Mafeking was the first example of  the power of the press. It made an utterly incompetent ass of a soldier into a national  hero. Since then, there has been a steady growth in the power of the press to manipulate public opinion.

When an American journalist was beheaded, this was an answer to the prayers of the print media owners. They played it immediately, and they played it heavily - almost certainly with encouragement from the American government.

Yes, beheading is terrible. So is starving 400,000 children to death. So is bombing millions of innocent people. So was killing 300,000 civilians in Guatemala. But they don't get played up in the papers. What got played up here is an excuse for the war which Obama wants to further destabilize much of the Middle East.

The Islamic State is no formidable force. It has no air force or navy. It's numbers are relatively small. Anyway, the Islamic State is not the main target. That status is reserved for Iraq, itself, and Syria, and a few other states in order to make them dysfunctional forever.  In attacking Syria, as well, Obama is doing exactly what he accuses Putin of doing - interfering in the affairs of a sovereign state. He's just doing it on a much larger scale.

And what is Harper doing? Making sure he gets the Ukrainian-Canadian and Jewish-Canadian vote. That's all.

This is a quite insane war, and one with every chance of going off the track.

The Council of Canadians today sent me a story that probably won't appear in the Irving press. Our beloved premier Alward said in a recent speech that he has prepared the toughest regulations in the world for shale gas companies. But there was something he didn't tell us.

The committee preparing the regulations began with twelve general principles to investigate and prepare for. But one of the principles was removed before it wrote its report. The one removed was the effect of shale gas on public health.

And that's a part of the madness we're living through.

A reader sent me a photo of a massive armoured car designed to resist mines and to carry a half dozen or riflemen. It cost $700,000 of tax payers money when the defence department  gave it to a police force in a California city as part of its unpublicized work of militarizing police forces. (It's also a good deal for industries in the military-industrial complex.) It's purpose?

I'm not kidding. It was given specifically to patrol public school zones. And this in a country in which education is terribly underfunded, and has been dropping like a rock compared to the rest of the world.

And that's a part of the madness we're living through.

Finally, for a change of mood, check out ZE140913 on Google. What will come up is the Vatican newspaper with a speech given by Pope Francis I.

Now, I shuddered when I wrote that because I thought of  what my mother would think of her wretched son advising people to read a Roman Catholic paper. (She was a highland Scot with the most extreme of Calvinist views.) But I make exceptions for Pope Francis. He has shown great courage in taking on the mafia in Italy, and speaking sense to a world that doesn't listen.

This one is a talk on the causes of war. And no, the causes are not to bring peace and freedom to the world. Almost always, wars are to give more and more money and power for people who lust for more and more money and power. And Pope Francis does a masterful job of spelling that out.

This is the sort of thing that should appear on that dreary Faith Page of the TandT. And perhaps posted on the door of the Irving Chapel.