Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September 3: missing the point - and point....

Front page - read all about it...getcher papers now....

The jolting headline for September was "Students headed back to school tomorrow". Wow! who would have guessed?

Then there's a big story about an old graveyard that's been cleaned up. That's nice. Then there's another big story about how Crystal Park Employees will miss the amusement centre when it closes. All the news YOU need to know!

The real story of the day - a major apartment fire in Dieppe only made page two. But that, at least, was forgivable. Since the fire happened after the paper had gone to print, it must have been quite a scramble to get the story in at all.

And that's it for section A.
______________________________________________________________________________With With the world in turmoil, the TandT manages to cover it all in just 1 and 1/4 pages of NewsToday - and still have room in there for a photo of two children in Dieppe riding in a pink play car.

Putin has again called for talks on the fighting in Ukraine, and again called for federation of the states to solve the problem. So far, it's been the evil Putin who has been the only one to suggest a peaceful solution. The US has consistently accused  (without evidence) and threatened (as with trade sanctions - which it surely knows by now are ineffective). And the Kiev government's only policy has be to try to pull the European Union into the war it started. More on that later.

Page C1 notes that Canada's refugee policy is often cruel, indifferent to suffering, breaks up families. Actually, it has always have been that way. That was a lesson German Jews learned when they tried to escape to Canada in the 1930s, and even for some years after the war ended. At that, Harper is probably a new low for us.

There is no mention of any Christian church picking up my suggestion to offer sanctuary to a Dieppe family  which is threatened by our government with deportation into a very dangerous situation. Nothing offends Christians more than to be asked to do something Christian. Their idea of Christian behaviour is to wear clean clothes to church, to attend pancake breakfasts, and enjoy coffee in the barn.
There's an 8 page supplement of brainless, fatuous, trivial, juvenile, "feel good" propaganda. It's called Spirit of Moncton. It was written by reporters whose standard of what journalism means is so low they allowed their names to appear on the "stories".

Some of the points made are true. Moncton is a nice size. It's pretty safe. It's polite.

But it's also a place that leaves vital services (like eating) up to voluntary charities, that is terrified of open discussion of just about anything, a place that serves the rich in scandalous ways - as in building an "events" centre - has very few good restaurants, that is an intellectual morgue  (and that is why its children don't read), whose idea of culture is whatever is in the top ten, and that tolerate a newspaper that is shabby and shallow even by North American newspapers.

But, oh yeah, it has "entrepreneurial" attitudes - as though those are very, very important. In fact, as you read this insert and most political statements, it becomes clear that the only, really important thing in life is making money.

 Yes, it is necessary. But you don't start with money. You start with people, and with what they need. But in dealing with these issues, New Brunswick starts and ends with just the money. Actually, shovelling most of the money into the pockets of a few "entrepreneurs" doesn't do a hell of a lot of good for people.
The editorial, for Labour Day, is about the enormous respect that editors have for the working people of this province. Yes, I've often noted that in their strong support for better wages and services for the working class.

Norbert has a pointless but largely harmless column - but for one thing. He blames the school for the poor rate of literacy in New Brunswick. That is sheer ignorance.

Though I grew up in a district in which illiteracy was common, I was a heavy reader from the age of five or six - starting with Dick and Jane, and with The Bobbsey Twins. I was a heavy reader because my father was a heavy reader. There were always books around; and every Saturday he would bring me a book or two from a used book store. I read piles of Rudyard Kipling poems and stories. By twelve, I was hooked on cowboy novels. Then, high school friends introduced me to Shaw, and Sean O'Casey. And my father shifted gears to get me Winston Churchill's "History of the English-speaking Peoples."

We cannot expect schools to teach reading all by themselves. You need a social setting that makes reading a normal sort of thing to do. And children are not likely to learn to read if they spend all their free time watching TV or playing computer games.

I wish Norbert would learn something about education before he dumps on the schools.

Alec Bruce makes an excellent point - that we have to find a balance between free enterprise and regulation. Yes, that means we really do need an expert civil service. That balance, and the loss of it, is the dominating influence of our time.

Steve Malloy writes the sort of column I usually dislike, the personal story. But there are two things that make him worth reading.
1. He writes really well.

2. Though his column are often about moments that happened to him, he shapes them to have a wider meaning.
Section A for September 2 is the usual zero with lots of pictures.

NewsToday, as usual, has very little news. - so let's to try to figure what's going on.

Just about every story on Ukraine suggests Russia has troops and weapons helping the rebels in Ukraine. No story has any evidence of it. Western news media have been doing this from the start. By now, with drones, satellite cameras, etc., there should be evidence. So why isn't the press showing it to us?

There was a satellite image of  a line of black spots. We were told they were military trucks invading Ukraine.How do we know? They could have been carrying humanitarian aid. For that matter, the picture tells of nothing of whether they were in Russia, Ukraine, or Saskatchewan.

And the reports of Russian tanks on the rebel side? Well, yes. Those are Russian tanks. And the army of Ukraine has Russian tanks. And the government of Ukraine admits that large numbers of its tanks have been captured by the rebels - as have ammunition stockpiles, artillery pieces, armoured troop carriers.....

How could that happen? Because large numbers of Ukraine government troops have deserted to the rebel side, bringing their equipment with them - and also bringing their military skills. That's why the Ukraine government is desperate to get American and European intervention.

There is no way that a rebel group of amateurs, even if they had Russian help, should be giving such a hard time to a trained army. But this is a very shaky army because the government itself is shaky. It is an illegal government. It is made up of those who staged an illegal coup against a democratically elected government. The illegal government later had an election of its own. But an election in which half the country was a battleground is scarcely a test - even if, as is unlikely, it was a fair election.

(As an aside, it seems that reporters for Associated Press as well as editors for the Irving press, have things to learn about the military. A story at the top of C10 passes on  a rumour that Russia had at least four battalions in Ukraine; and it said a battalion was 400 men. u-h-h, I don't think so fellas. The basic unit of an army is a regiment. It is the unit the soldier is placed in when he joins up. A full regiment would be a thousand, though it's commonly a bit less. When training is complete, and the soldiers committed to action, they are called a battalion - and new soldiers are admitted to the regiment for training. But the battalion sent off is still a part of the regiment - so it is called, say, the First Battalion of the Black Watch - then there might be a Second and a Third and so on - But each will be close to a thousand. And each battalion, like each regiment, will be commanded by a Lieutenant-Colonel or a Colonel. But each will be of close to a thousand soldiers.)

The US has supported the illegal government of Ukraine from day 1. What is happening here is not a Russian aggression against Ukraine. It is an attempted (but failing) attempt by the US to establish an ally on the Russian border.

Obama certainly  supported the illegal government from the start. Now, he seems to be using sanctions to stall for time - perhaps because he's too heavily tied up in the Middle East. But it could still get out of control as one can never be sure who is calling the shots in Washington.

In the Middle East, Obama is intervening to prevent any strong state emerging in Iraq, Syria, or Libya.
Saudi Arabia and the emirates seem to have a quite different interest.

Page C3 has a bizarre sub-headline that Israeli children living close to the Gaza strip are trying to return to some sense of normalcy after widespread deaths.

What widespread deaths? The war killed almost 500 Palestinian children - but no Israeli children. Shouldn't a news editor notice that before deciding to print it?

There is no mention in the news that Netanyahu has annexed a thousand more acres of Palestinian land - to kick Palestinians off it, and give it to Israeli settlers. Way to get the peace process going, Net.  The lesson of this is clear. Israel will illegally annex Palestinian land until Palestine is destroyed. This isn't war. This is genocide.

Harper, who talked a great game about supporting the illegal Ukraine government, and who promised help, has just cut $2.7 billion from the defence budget. It's starting to be noticed. Harper is a big talker. But it's just for the local vote.
Norbert moans about the terrible suffering inflicted on people by the Hitlers and Cambodian dictators, etc. No mention of the US or the millions of dead in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guatemala......

Alan Cochrane has a column on culture - Moncton style.

The Letters to the Editor page proves that propaganda works. Routinely, the Irving press avoids any question about the role of the very rich in creating our debt. Remember, J.D.Irving make it clear after the last election that he would run the provincial economy. And that's the way it's always been done in New Brunswick. But now, the myth peddled by his news media is that he had nothing to do with created the provincial debt. Goodness, no. It was them there poor people who wanted so many services. Read the letter, "Can we distinguish wants from needs?."  See how propaganda works.

The real question is  whether Mr. Irving can distinguish wants from needs. And that is why today I haven't commented on election issues being discussed in the news. The issues  being discussed in the news are trivial. The ombudswoman says she has worked to make the coverage even and balanced. I'm sure she has. But nothing is nothing no matter how fair and evenly balanced.

This election has an invisible issue - and that invisible issue signals the greatest change we've seen since the earliest days of democracy.

There is no "democratic" world. In countries (and provinces) that claim it, democracy has long disappeared. Power is not in the hands of a very few. It's happened here, in the US, in much of Europe, in Russia....
The very few can buy governments. And they do.

That very few can, to a considerable degree, control thought through propaganda and lying - a  process made such simpler in North America with almost all news media controlled by a handful of wealthy people - like the Irvings. Nor, thanks to free trade, do they need to have any concern about regulations or limits to their behaviour. Annoy them - and it's an easy matter to shift operations to another country.

Using propaganda and lying and fear and an enforced ignorance, it's possible now to blame the poor for the poverty created by the rich. It's possible to make the rest of us willing to funnel billions to military-industrial complexes so that we can kill people to force them to buy the products that our businessmen make - often with the cheap labour and lax regulation  of impoverished countries.

We are abandoning democracy, and in exchange getting government by the very rich - not because they have any talent for it, but because they were born rich. It's a recreation of the world of aristocracy in which any bozo could be king so long as he was the first-born of all the other bozos in the family.

We are very far down the road. But that, above all others, is THE issue of this election. And nobody's talking about it.

Oh, yeah. People in Grassy Narrow, the site of two, native communities, are dying of mercury poisoning. Most of the animals were killed years ago. We know this only because Japanese doctors who have specialized in this problem are pushing Canada to do something about it. But Canada has done nothing despite years of death and suffering. It has refused to help the suffering, and refused even to acknowledge that anything is wrong.

Origins of the disease seem to lie in a lumber mill and a mine which dump their mercury-laden waste into a river, poisoning the water and the land through which it flows. But the government is so far ignoring the evidence presented by the Japanese doctors, and is showing no interest at all.

Ditto for the mine and the lumber mill.

Something very similar has been happening for years downstream from the Alberta oil sands, where death rates have shown a marked rise.

But, hey, if your can't trust your billionaire mine owners and lumber mill owners and oil companies, who can you trust? Remember. They're all better than you. They were born that way.


  1. What happened? USA surrendered in Ukraine?

  2. Well, maybe something like that. It looks as though the original US intent to use Ukraine as an advanced nuclear attack zone against Russia is in trouble. Obama is up to his ears with problems in the Middle East, in Latin America, in Africa, and maybe in the US.

    Ukraine probably cannot beat the rebels on its own because its own troops are deserting (with their weapons) to the rebel side. And Kiev now knows it can't beat them on its own.

    It's still confused - and it could still go haywire. But Obama is at last doing the sensible thing.

  3. OR, perhaps you were just plain wrong before:) Like you are here:

    "The regiments of the Russian Army, and armed forces influenced by Russia consist of battalions in the infantry or tank troops, divisions in the artillery troops, and squadrons in aviation troops. Land forces regiments also include support units – companies and/or platoons."

  4. I don't understand. I never made the statement you quote above. Nor do I see h ow it relates to anything I said.

  5. No, I know you didn't, thats from wikipedia or some military website, I forget which. You said that the basic military unit was the regiment, and that once training was complete a regiment was called a battalion (I'd cut and past the quote but I'm bad with a trackpad) and that it contained 1000 men.

    In the russian military the 'basic unit of the army' is a battalion, NOT a regiment. The battalions make up the regiment, and the size of either isn't 1000 men, that varies by country and military and history.

  6. Ah, I see. You're right in that the size and role of units has come to vary enormously by country, by type of military hardware, and to vary even year to year. You also have situations in which official numbers lie because there aren't enough soldiers to go around.

    In Canada, too, the battalions make up the regiment. So it was that it was common for many regiments to each have several battalions (or more than several) in World War Two.

    The word battalion is an extremely vague one. Basically, it can mean almost any number of soldiers prepared to work together in battle. Or it can have an official designation. You could say that battalions make up a regiment. But that's just a word game, and it also is what I said, using different words.
    It is particularly in recent years that the meaning of these terms have become variable - even in the national forces of a single state.
    (As an aside, the regiment began in early Europe - I don't know the years, but probably before 1400. Kings would call on their local aristocrats to assemble a mass of men, a column, to march to the king's aid. The aristocratic leader of the column was called a colonel - a word derived from column. To this day, the rank of colonel is often bestowed on local dignitaries who, in fact, are not military at all. As in Colonel Sanders.)

    Anyway, yes, it is a confusing story that varies from country to country and year to year. But the number given in the report was 400 to a battalion. That's a low number for a battalion. As well, it raises the question of how reporters could possibly have known these were battalions. Information on Russian troops in Ukraine has been scarce. But here's a source giving information it would be most unlikely to have.