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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

15 comments:

  1. I think Harper is doing a little more than tallying votes here. I'm having a difficult time making heads or tails from the GDP figures in StatsCan about the aerospace industry and defense contracts, but I can certainly see they're no pittance.

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  2. Too bad Pope Francis didn't show the same 'courage' when he was bishop in Argentina during the genocidal 'war' where tens of thousands of poor Argentinians were 'disappeared'.

    And also, the council of canadians are incorrect. The 'rules for industry' deal extensively with many potential health effects of the fracking industry, all you have to do is look at them here and its self evident:

    http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Corporate/pdf/ShaleGas/en/RulesforIndustry.pdf


    The problem with the 'rules for industry' is that they are not legislation, they are 'permit conditions'. The 'madness' you refer to is the fact that the government, which is bending over backwards for the shale gas industry, has the gall to say 'we will pay damages to landowners and then fight to get the money from the companies, if there are any david and goliath fights, we will fight them'.

    That is just too hysterical for words. In other words TAXPAYERS will pay for any cleanups, and then the government will supposedly fight the companies, who may leave, declare bankruptcy, or any number of things.

    Also, these 'rules' are 'permit conditions', meaning there are no fines set out. The most the government can do is void a permit. And IF they try to void a permit, a company can legally argue that they have obeyed all 'laws'-and that will be true.

    While the madness is still there, the council of canadians is misinterpreting it. Apart from a few things, the rules are actually not bad, you can tell this because the industry balked at them, and no doubt thats why they were just made 'permit conditions'. If industry says they are too strenuous, its usually a good clue that they are on the right track.

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  3. Gee. I'm sorry Pope Paul didn't meet your standards. I thought it took some courage to challenge the Sicily mafi - and I think it quite possible he'll pay a price for it.

    As for his thoughts on war, he could go on a terrorist list in the US from saying things like that. And what he said would never even get printed in the Irving press.

    As for your second point, the council never claimed there was no thought permitted for public health. It said that the requirement for public health was deleted as a condition of the committee's study.

    However, it's quite true that the rules for shale gas are not laws, just permit conditions. In keeping with that, Harper is just concluding a deal with China which will give it the right to sue if it invests in resource extraction here, and we later tighten the rules against pollution.

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  4. My standards are the same as anybody, when you are in a position of authority during a genocidal regime, if you do nothing about it, it speaks for itself.

    And the pope on a terrorist list?? Get real. There are tons of anti war protestors and speakers in the world, heck, if Noam Chomsky, who basically calls american foreign policy actions of terrorism isn't on it, then I doubt the Pope has much to fear. And speaking against the sicilian mafia, good grief, ITALIANS have been doing that for DECADES. Lets hear this argentinian talk about organized crime in argentina, heck, in CANADA. The Italian mafia has long lost most of its teeth, its the country's plutocrats that are the problem now.

    The committee DID study public health, thats why they came up with proposals to limit the amount of truck traffic on dirt roads, why they require testing of water wells before, during, and after development, and they even looked at noise pollution levels.

    There was also a separate public health study done in the province by, I forget her name, and while many of her suggestions were ignored, many were part of the committee study.

    Amen about the China deal, you should do a whole blog on that, its amazing this is only now getting a little bit of airplay, but I doubt Canada is thinking about a 'war with china' when it seems more concerned about selling out to them.

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  5. I didn't say the pope was on a terrorist list. I said that he had attacked the Sicily mafia. And don't kid yourself about its strength. It's still a force in Italy (and a bigger force in Canada and the US that we begin to realize).

    The mafia usually shows a profound respect for the church. I knew quite a few of them in the area I grew up in in Montreal. But they demand respect back, and they kill if they don't get it. It's quite possible they would kill a pope.
    As for the shale gas committee, I never said it was forbidden to examine public health impacts caused by shale gas. I said it was assigned 12 principles to work on - and the one on public health was later withdrawn. Of course, some of their recommendations would still be about public health. But also of course, to withdraw that as a basic principle of the discussion would have an effect on the conclusions. Otherwise, why withdraw it?

    The public health study you can't remember was probably the one by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Cleary. And everybody on that committee must have known that the withdrawal of public health as a principal in the discussion was inspired by the hostility of the oil industry and its New Brunswick servants.

    It's true the pope didn't cover all the world's evils. But that would have taken quite a while. What did you think of the ones he DID talk about?

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  6. You said that the Pope's war remarks could put him on the terrorist list. Not likely. An italian killing a pope?? Yeah suuure. And of course there is this: "The Catholic Church, under Pope Francis, had excommunicated an Australian priest for his support for the ordination of women and for gay marriage."

    So no, 'courage' is not a word I'd use just yet. We'll see, but certainly not for excommunicating some gangsters who murdered and burned a 12 year old boy.

    As for shale gas, there was no 'committee'. The rules were drafted from the reports done by McCleary and Lapierre. The Council of Canadians have no New Brunswick chapter, so they often get information wrong. For example, they misleadingly claim that ground settling in Penobsquis is due to fracking, when there is no evidence of that and its far more likely to be due to potash mining, even the government potash company accept that.

    They also claim that NONE of McCleary's recommendations were accepted into the regulations, which may be what you are referring to. This is incorrect as you can read her recommendations here:

    http://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/h-s/pdf/en/HealthyEnvironments/Recommendations_ShaleGasDevelopment.pdf

    And then you can read the Rules for Industry, OK, I already posted that link.

    Several of her recommendations have to do with public policy once the industry is developing, which is hardly the case so far, and quite obviously govermnent policy about dealing with the industry has ZERO to do with the 'rules for industry'. That would be like arguing that the regulations for breweries don't deal with drinking and driving laws. Well, no, because thats obviously not something a brewery can do.

    But, for example: "Recommendation 3.2:
    The Province should put in place special provisions for
    wastewater handling, testing, transportation, treatment and disposal". This is a recommendation that is dealt with in the rules for industry and how they are to handle their wastewater.

    "Recommendation 3.5:The Province should develop and implement reasonable, safe setback distances approved by Public Health that consider human health and which are based on exposure risk assessments in addition to established precedents "

    That one is also dealt with in the Rules for Industry, so its simply not true that the rules for industry don't take into account health concerns. But again, RULES are not 'regulations', so it is somewhat nitpicking RIGHT NOW to say 'the rules deal with health' and then to say 'but the rules have no authoritative force behind them', which is kind of useless.

    My point is that lobbying the liberal government during a moratorium will AT LEAST maybe get some decent regulations on the industry, something Alward refuses outright to do.

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  7. My comment on the Pope being placed on the US terrorist list was intended as a touch of humour. (The US is notorious for people it puts on the terrorist list - as is Canada which routinely lists anybody who is an environmentalist. I shall have to remember to put a smiley face after such comments to give you a hint.

    I did NOT say - note the NOT - that the rules would have nothing about public health in them. I said the instruction to consider public health as one of the 12 principles to be considered was removed. I have told you that at least twice. To make it clearer, such an instruction can be used to seriously downgrade questions of public health. So your examples prove nothing.

    Dr. Cleary's advice was ignored from the start by the government and smothered by the Irving press. To even think you can put off some decision making until the industry is developing is just naive.

    You're also wrong to pick on Alward. He doesn't make the decisions. The oil industry does. And it will also make them for Gallant. You might get a veneer of tightening up - but it will be just a veneer. So I don't have much confident in the your 'point'.

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  8. My comment on the Pope being placed on the US terrorist list was intended as a touch of humour. (The US is notorious for people it puts on the terrorist list - as is Canada which routinely lists anybody who is an environmentalist. I shall have to remember to put a smiley face after such comments to give you a hint.

    I did NOT say - note the NOT - that the rules would have nothing about public health in them. I said the instruction to consider public health as one of the 12 principles to be considered was removed. I have told you that at least twice. To make it clearer, such an instruction can be used to seriously downgrade questions of public health. So your examples prove nothing.

    Dr. Cleary's advice was ignored from the start by the government and smothered by the Irving press. To even think you can put off some decision making until the industry is developing is just naive.

    You're also wrong to pick on Alward. He doesn't make the decisions. The oil industry does. And it will also make them for Gallant. You might get a veneer of tightening up - but it will be just a veneer. So I don't have much confident in the your 'point'.

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  9. And like I said twice, public health was NOT removed. Can you provide a footnote for a news report or something that states that it was? Like I said, the CofC doesn't even make any sense, there was no 'committee' looking at fracking, there were two scientists who held public meetings, and public health were part of both of them and are now part of the rules. If you are getting your information from the CofC, much of it is simply wrong.

    Its ridiculous to say that Alward can't make a choice. Caving in to industry demands is a choice. Just like Danny Williams PO'd abitibi and stood up to numerous corporations. That 'veneer' is the difference between having regulations and having no regulations, which is a pretty thick veneer.

    I'm certainly not saying that Gallant is guaranteed to do that, but he at least said a moratorium, which gives grassroots organizations time to get those rules into legislation, which, again, is something. So the option is 'maybe' have the opportunity to create some legislation, or don't. I think Alward is simply in Irving's pocket, Gallant is just a young idiot, and idiot's can sometimes be counted on to do the right thing for the wrong reason. Its a slim hope, but right now there are simply no other options, and not voting or simply writing them off or voting a third party is also a choice.

    As for public policy, its hardly 'naive'. In case you didn't read the report, there are calls for creating entire bureaucracies to deal with potential health effects of fracking, and as of yet there is almost virtually only one company doing testing, and most of those tests haven't been promising. Its INSANE for government to run out and spend hundreds of millions of dollars to create the health infrastructure for an industry that may not even exist.

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  10. You all need to remember that the Liberal's promised moratorium is not even time specific. At the Convention
    last April they voted for a moratorium, but of no specified length. The second vote on this issue suggested a four year moratorium and it was turned down. So it does not inspire confidence. Remember as well that it has to be a LEGISLATED moratorium, carved in stone or it's not worth the paper it's printed on. I could comment on aspects of health and Dr. Cleary, but enough has been said ad nauseam by others.

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  11. True enough, and believe me, I'm not naive. But vs Alward just the mention of a moratorium is something. What is most important about this is how New Brunswickers react. Alward can stand behind police and do nothing because he wants to 'say yes' to resource extraction. Gallant can't do that, and its also possible that he'd throw shale gas under the bus in favour of hoping the pipeline will provide enough jobs that shale gas is a non starter.

    But during any moratorium thats when New Brunswickers at least have a chance to effect policy. Politicians are compromisers, and if Gallant wants to compromise, he can make a big song and dance out of actually legislating Alwards rules. Right now if a company breaks a rule, there is nothing a private citizen can do. If they break legislation then its different.

    I agree with most of Mr. Decarie's comments, but Irvings grip is not as tight as he seems to think. Somebody as gutless as Shawn Graham told Irving to take a hike when Irving wanted this horrible forestry deal six years ago. A politician knows that he is no good to his corporate overlords unless he actually has power, and sometimes that means caving in to public pressure-something that Alward maybe hasn't figured out, and maybe Gallant will.

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  12. Shawn Graham said that? It's the first lovable thing i've heard about him.

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  13. And it'll probably be the last:) I'm sure he didn't say it like that, but that was the effect of it (and no doubt it was 'compromised' with other concessions).

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  14. Yes, it has occurred to me that if it comes down to a choice between shale gas and a pipeline the Liberals might just throw s.g. over. I sometimes think that if I had to choose, I'd choose the pipeline (heaven help me for saying it). As a member of both NBASGA and the TAAHF in Sackville we know that they both must be abandoned because of increased Co2 emissions. Certainly, I do agree that even a brief moratorium would help those of us working towards, as you say, having a chance to effect policy. There is, however, an intransigence about the Conservative position that I almost want to attribute to the Irvings (shale gas would stoke their LNG fires). Remember, too, that the jobs you mention don't exist in the exaggerated numbers hoped for by any of the s.g. companies either here or in the U.S. Renewables provide way more jobs than any fossil fuel extraction ever could.

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  15. Well, that all depends. An imported wind turbine doesn't provide more jobs than a gas well. Solar panels are more dependable and provide even less. Its the manufacturing that provides most of the jobs, which is why several european nations are subsidizing their manufacture so that they can regain their losses by exporting them.

    True enough about Alward, and there's no doubt that politicians govern according to who pays them. Its been awhile now, but I remember when Bernard Lord was governing, he was getting TWO salaries, one from government, one from his party, and you don't have to think hard who could afford to donate that much money to a party-grassroots donors would be up in arms to find out that their money was being used to double down a guy who was already making over 100 grand.

    The intransigence isn't surprising, we saw the same thing under Graham with the sale of NBPower, a deal scuttled by Quebec when his own party said they weren't going to support it without serious changes.

    Governments simply can't afford to NOT be intransigent. The most dangerous thing for a government to do is to show that it can be affected by public involvement, because obviously it follows that the public will get MORE involved in effecting public policy. That's why we've never seen another national referendum in Canada since 1992, because canadians 'didn't vote the way they were supposed to'. So it became obvious that that couldn't be tolerated.

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