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.

1 comment:

  1. Mea culpa. I accidentally erased a post sent to me late
    tuesday night. It dealt with the Liberal moratorium.

    Can the sender please send it to me again?