Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nov. 8, maybe 9

For a start, take a look at Al Jazeera. It's easily available on the web, has a very wide range of news, a very wide range of  opinions, and in all categories is far superior to Canadian Press and Associated Press, and all the others in our daily diet. It's worth regular reading.

And if you are suspicious because it's an ay-rab paper, and so can't possibly have the great minds like the Irving press does, note that its reporters and commentators are from all over the world - including Canada.
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And, as we approach Remembrance Day, we should learn more about Canadian military history  - you know, so we can learn exactly what it is we are remembering. For the general reader, and very readable, is The Tools of War 1939/45,, published by Reader's Digest.

For more advanced reading, google "Canadian Military History Journal". And, for a forgotten war, read
Laughton.ca/documents/ww1/pub7/pdf     It's one of an excellent series by Laughton. This one is about our forces (rarely mentioned on Nov. 11) that we sent to Russia in the late days of World War 1. The first group was sent to protect Russia (just turned communist) from a German/Finnish invasion. Nobody is sure why the second group was sent - but it was probably to shoot at the communists we had just been protecting from Germany and Finland..

Laughton concludes with a comment that, I think, is quite correct. World War 1 never ended. The partners change; but the dance is never over. World War 1 was probably a cause of the Japanese attacks of World War Two on China and the USSR - as well as the cause of the rise of Hitler and Naziism.

World War Two meant the end of Britain after its centuries of building the biggest and one of the most brutal and looting empires in history. Alas! It also meant the rise of the US, striving for even a bigger empire and even more brutality and looting. (There's much more to say on that. But I'll save it for another day.)

For World War Two and Canada's role, google the NFB film series "The Valour and the Horror", by Brian and Terrence McKenna. The Legion hated it and joined other extremists to trying to discredit and even to ban the film. (I guess banning films was one of the freedoms we fought for). That pressure led to the appointment of all the drooling half-wits in the Senate (or, rather, all the drooling half-wits who were also Conservatives), to do a hatchet job.  I testified at that hearing. Not one of them had a clue of what he was talking about.

As well, for pre-Remembrance Day reading, I would suggest talking a look, a good, long, thinking look at the poem, "In Flanders' Fields".

"......
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you, from failing hands we throw
The torch. Be yours to hold it high.

The poem is not about remembering. It's about hating and killing. It's about world war that never ends. Our partners change. We have danced with Russia and China and Arabs. We have killed Arabs - and looked forward to killing Russians. We have killed Japanese and Germans and Italians. And now we dance with them. The partners change; but the dance of World War 1 goes on.

And we have fought to spread freedom and equality for over a century. Of course. So tell me, in over a hundred years of killing and dying,  and suffering, where is there more freedom? And where, oh where, are all people equal? We don't approach equality, not even here in North America.

Remember the dead. Remember them because they did die at our command. Remember that they died because we sent them to die. By all means, let us remember what is now the hundred-year war of our time.
Remember our responsibility in past wars and wars yet to come. But don't glorify it.

If you do think it's glorious, go to www.informationclearinghouse.@info/article40158.htm  The article is "All My Friends are Dying". Below it is a sign, In War, There are no Unwounded Soldiers.
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I'm afraid I have neglected the Irving press. So we'll hit the high points.

For Friday's section A, there is no news worth reading.

NewsToday has yet another story (with photo), the third day in a row, about our social betters getting business hall of fame awards. And yet another story pimping shale gas "Moratorium lowers chance for growth - APEC CEO".  And we'll just forget all these rumours that the price of oil is crashing so that shale gas is running out of a market.

B3 has a cute story about Australian PM Tony Abbott. He says he's going to have a tough talk with Putin about making sure investigators can have access the Malaysian crash site in Ukraine. Relax, Tony. We already know all about it and who did it and how. It appeared in MacLean's Magazine last July. Remember?

We don't come to anything worth reading until the last page, B4. (Yeah, that's it. Four pages for all the news about New Brunswick and Canada and the whole, wide world.) This story is "Israeli force many have committed war crimes: court."  In international waters, Israel gunboats and troops illegally stopped a group of small ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza and, also quite illegally, killed quite a few people on those boats. But, what the hell,, says the court, boys will be boys.

So some ships were attacked in international waters. So people were killed. Hell, the international court never bothered with the case some years ago of Israel deliberately attacking USS Liberty, killing dozens of American sailors, some of them machine-gunned in lifeboats. Nor did it intervene when an American cruiser in the same waters shot down an Iranian passenger plane, killing all aboard. Hey, everybody makes mistakes. But none of these stories made MacLean's Magazine. So who cares?

The editorial, as always, is trivial and it's about money. That seems to be characteristic of editorials and politicians in New Brunswick. A society is about people. But they rarely talk about (or think about) people. The first question is - or should be - what does our society need? They don't ask it. The money is, we are told, for out benefit. So shouldn't editorial writers and politicans ask first what is needed for us people?

Alec Bruce is in great form on the subject of our out-of-touch (and unspeakably uncaring) governor of the Bank of Canada. This is the man who said young people who can't get jobs should work for free.

Norbert is much better than usual on the issue of sexual assault. Cole Hobson is, well, as trivial as usual. As for Justin Ryan, there is often a lack of any clear meaning to his columns. He writes on immigration. Good. We have a lot to learn about it, some of which should be appearing in this column.  For example, our department of immigration now runs on a heavy diet of bigotry imposed by PM Harper.  For example -

We have well over 500 applicants for immigration we are keeping in prisons - the worst, most violent and dangerous prisons - the maximum security ones. They are there without charge or trial or oversight. They are there because they are from countries that Harper doesn't want - either for unclear security reasons or to please those Canadian voters who share his bigotry. The average stay is  three months, quite long enough to be beaten and/or raped many times Our jails are also notoriously overcrowded - so you don't get to choose your roomie.

The Canadian Red Cross has had a tough fight to be allowed to see them, and to check their condition. It still doesn't have free access to most of them. One man has been there for ten months while our immigration department takes its own sweet time to decide whether to give him a hearing. He's from Iran. And that's bad. When they first tried to deport him to Iran, he slashed his wrists - and for good reason. He's a convert to Christianity. That's a crime in Iran, with an automatic death penalty.

So, we've kept this dangerous Christian in a violent and overcrowded prison for ten months at the price of $250 a day. This year, Harper has given $20,000,000 just to Ontario prisons for room and board for people charged with ----nothing.
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Section A, which is largely local news, has an exciting story about a local man who saved his five year old daughter from a kidnapper. (Well, it didn't actually happen right in Moncton. It happened in a Moncton suburb called Salt Lake City.) The story is from The Associated Press - so I guess the TandT bought it at a clearance sale.

Beside that story, also from AP,is something rare for section A, a story all the way from Paris about cruise ships all over the world. Maybe it was a two-for-one sale.

Seriously, guys and gals, most newspapers clearly divide their stories into the appropriate sections.

A3 has the story that the jobless rate is dropping - but not because the economy is better. It's because people are leaving. That's interesting. Now, could we please have the whole story? How come, all over the world, big corporations and very, very rich people are making more money than ever before while the rest of us are going downhill? Don't  you know a guy named Irving? Ask him.
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The editorial is about the coming financial crisis of New Brunswick. There is no mention of Mr. Irving or any corporation in it, and not a word about what they cost us.  It does mention Dr. Savoie and it quotes him. But Dr. Savoie doesn't talk - not like us peasantry. Dr. Savoie offers a "discourse."

Pompous ass of an editorialist.

By the way when the Allward government got elected, a man named Irving made a big noise about how he and his buddies were going to plan the economic future of NB. He even, as I remember it, appointed advisors to the minister of finance. So that must mean Mr. Irving has been the one in charge of our spending and taxing for four years going on five, all of them years of "edging ovwe the cliff".

Could Dr. Savoie offer us a "discourse" on that one?

Bill Belliveau has a long list of new ideas for the economy - like making health care more efficient and cheaper, and improving literacy.  (Well, they were new ideas, once upon a time.) Next week, he'll tell us how it could be financed. I tingle with anticipation.

Brent Mazeroffe has a brilliant column about Remembrance Day. It's intelligent; it's insightful; and it's well-written. I take back all the unkind things I  have said about Mazeroffe. You don't write  something like that without having both talent and intelligence.

But, oh, he should get out, and find a publisher who wants people of talent and intelligence.

Then there's a column by James  (but he calls himself Jim because he's that kinda guy) Irving. It's an attack on Enbridge, the natural gas supplier for NB. So, we have a man financially connected to the newspaper writing a column attacking for reasons closely connected to his own financial interest.

I think that is what, in the journalistic world, is called unethical. It shows his contempt for us that he didn't even try to disguise what he was doing. After all, he could have followed the route of publishing it, but having is posted under the name of one of his hack writers in Irving press.

It's unethical. And forget the ombudsperson.  I have never seen any evidence of the ombudsperson making a decision, anyway - and the paper should routinely be reporting that.

Norbert, write one of your indignant columns about it. Write something that will make your moustache wiggle.
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NewsToday, B 1 and 2 has a great read ""Finding Private Billy MacNally of St. John." It's a story about New Brunswick poet Alden Nowlan; and it includes his poem "Ypres 1915"

I met Nowlan many years ago when I was teaching at UPEI. He came to talk to us, and to read some of his poetry.  I was fascinated by the poetry and by the man and his wife - brilliant, approachable.... it was quite wonderful. And this is quite a wonderful story, and quite a wonderful poem.

B3 has a very, very short story that the Afghan army (the ones on our side) lost over 4,600 killed in just this year. Soon, it will take over all the fighting as NATO pulls out. That's why is has taken so many dead in the past year. Then there are the Canadians who died, the British, and uncounted tens of thousands (at least) of Afghan civilians in 13 years of war.

If you're not impressed by the body count, then consider that the war has cost over a trillion dollars, much of it, perhaps most, going to corrupt US defence corporations, corrupt Afghan leaders (on our side), and corrupt politicians in the US.  American governments will allow a trillion dollars of corruption, but threaten to jail a clergyman and an elderly veteran for giving food to starving Americans.

So why are the US and NATO pulling out? Because they lost. It's over. The US and NATO are staging a dignified retreat - handing the mess over to a government and an army that can't deal with it. Something like the last days of the Vietnam war.

Why did they start the war? I'm damned if I know. They said it was because Afghanistan had planned the killings of 9/11. There is not the slightest evidence it did. Even the FBI has long ago admitted that. In fact, not a single one of the terrorists of 9/11 came from Afghanistan. Most were from our good friends in Saudi Arabia. Nor was the planning done in Afghanistan; it was done in Europe. As for Osama bin Laden, he was from Saudi Arabia. And the Taliban offered to turn him over to an international court - which is the correct way to handle such a case. The US refused, demanding he be turned over to US justice, which would certainly be rigged.

For that matter, we now know the war was proposed several years earlier by a group representing big business and far right politicians. It was called The New American Century, and a leading figure was Bush Jr's vice-president, Dick Cheney. And even they never said what the point of the war was.

We sent troops - also without knowing why. We sent Canadians to die for----what? To help little Moslem girls go to school? We probably killed,starved, crippled far more than we ever sent to school. That's not the fault of our soldiers. It's the fault of us. So, if you're attending a Remembrance Day ceremony and find yourself feeling all self-righteous and patriotic, think about what we, all  of us, agreed to when we sent troops to Afghanistan. That was OUR decision. So, maybe next time, we shouldn't send people to kill and be killed just because it's the brainless, patriotic thing to do. (Actually, we've already done it again - in Iraq.

Remember the words of Pogo, some sixty years ago. "We have met the enemy. And he is us."

What is happening in Afghanistan today is an historic disaster caused by greed and hypocrisy and callousness. And caused by the failure of us "democracy loving" people to take the trouble to find out what it was all about.

And the Irving press gives it a tiny column, much less than what I have written above, which tells us almost nothing. Is it possible that the Irving press doesn't have an editor with brains enough to realize that this is a major story? And that it's time to tell the whole story?

B8 has the bizarre story "Canada intends to buy four F-35s". Wow! We'll be the terror of the skies. One for the east coast, one for the west coast, one for the Arctic, and one for spare parts. And why that aircraft in particular? We don't know. I doubt whether the government knows. This the aircraft that experts in the military and in economics have strongly advised us not to buy. This is an aircraft from an industry notorious for overpricing and gross corruption. And all the dealing has been going on with no information for the Canadian people, and no discussion in parliament.

duh. I'm in favour of it because I'm real patriotic.
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On the Faith page, the sermonette looks, even more than usual, like something written by Tweetybird.
On Remembrance Day, it says we remember our soldiers for protecting our right to freely worship, choose where we live, whom we love..... Now, let's think hard. Which war was it we fought for freedom of worship, of where we live, and whom we love? This is just mindless twaddle.

Oh, and we will be grateful we aren't going to bombed at night in our homes or forced to flee to refugee camps. No. We haven't  had to worry about that since the War of 1812 when the US did it to us. Actually, though, a lot of people have been bombed in their homes or forced to flee to refugee camps because of us. But they're foreigners. And Jesus, like most of us, was white and spoke English. It's in The Bible.

As Dorothy Parker said of a similar peace of slush, "Baby fwowed up."

On C 14, Isabelle Agnew has an excellent column "Society's Views and Reaction to Sexual Assault are Skewed."

C15 has a summary of what sounds like an excellent show coming to The History Channel. It concerns the experience of a young, Dutch girl (now living in Canada) whose family had to hide from the Nazi death squads because they were Jewish. It's like the story of Anne Frank, but with a happy ending. They were given shelter by Christian friends. It sounds excellent and worth watching. But keep a sense of perspective.

Most Dutch Christians did nothing to help the Jews. Anne Frank was almost certainly betrayed by neighbours. Tens of thousands of Dutch men volunteered to serve in Dutch units recruited to serve with Nazi forces, including the ones that rounded up Jews.. After the war, when surviving Dutch Jews got out of the camps, the governments of Dutch municipalities immediately sent them property tax bills for the time they were away.

When I taught in The Netherlands, the village neighbouring my home was the site of a major holding camp for Jews on the way to the death camps. Everyone I met knew the site well. It was really just a huge vacant lot in the middle of the village -with a railway siding running through it. Older people remembered the children, so blonde and fair-skinned that they looked just like Dutch children. But I never heard a word of sympathy for them - unless I count a comment by my landlady.

"They shouldn't have done that to OUR Jews."
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Sorry this is so long and so late. there was a lot of ground to cover.







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