Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nov. 1: To the despair of my highland Scots ancestors....

....and the joy of my French Catholic ones, I read a newsletter from The Vatican. It's called Catholic News; and it carries a story of a talk given by Pope Francis to a convention of social activists. And it is brilliant. I recommend everyone read it. It's at

He urged his audience to struggle against the structural causes of poverty and inequality - lack of work, denial of social and labour rights, and the "empire of money". He said that financial speculation on food prices is to blame for the starvation of millions around the world. He added that we need peace and environmental protection which both are threatened by the global economic system.

Of course, this will never be reported in the Irving press. And I guarantee the Pope will never be invited to share fellowship and coffee in the barn at the Irving Chapel - or even to hear the "special music" it features.

Now, for contrast, read section B (Nov. 1 of the Times and Transcript) for the spiritless drivel that passes for a Faith page.

Meanwhile,  Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 have a news story and two op ed columns by Pope Donald Savoie. on how we have to embrace those very ideas that Pope Francis says are both immoral, and wrong even in purely practical terms.

Ever notice that Don Savoie has never publicly said a word critical of the very rich or of anything they want? And wasn't it his university that had another pope of great influence who had to be fired when it became known he was a fake?

Don't blame U de Moncton. The reality is that all universities have to kiss up to the very rich in order to get the money they need to survive. As well, their boards of governors are dominated by the very rich. That's why we've seen the rapid growth of schools of questionable academic fields like business. That's why an alcoholic and druggie like George Bush 2 could get a Master's Degree in Business Administration from the most prestigious university in the US even though his undergraduate grades were so bad he wasn't eligible for the programme.  And check the website of Acadia University for glorious kiss-ups of the Irvings. (In one of my summers at Acadia, I lived in the same student residence as K.C. had many decades earlier. Wow!)

You will notice that  few, if any, academics who disagree with big money and globalization, etc. ever are reported in the Irving press.

Now, take a look at Pope Savoie's first op ed on p. A11 for Friday. He points out the danger of powerful interest groups that threaten our future prosperity. And who are these dreadful groups? Well, Savoie isn't scared of them. He speaks right out. It's doctors, retired public servants, teachers....

Duh, Don, baby---chambers of commerce? shale gas companies? the very, very rich who pay very, very little tax? the Irvings who demand the gift of our forests and resources? And J.D.Irving who had the arrogance to claim to be a member of the government and to advise on the budget even though he had never been elected? Aren't they interest groups - and with a lot more clout than retired public servants.

And it's wrong for government to be spending money on infrastructure in hard times? Read some history , kid. The experience of the 1930's and early 1940s indicated exactly the opposite of what you say.

And we should just repair old infrastructure instead of building new? Has it occurred to you that the old infrastructure was built for the world of the 1950s? Is it your intention to make New Brunswick an open air museum?

Throughout his column, Savoie has nothing but praise for big business - it's marvelous charities (in which it gives much less than it should be paying in taxes, and has enough left over to open halls of fame for the saints who are its CEOs.  It's kiss, kiss, kiss for big business - and that's the pathway to academic fame, and publication in the Irving press.

His column for Saturday is much the same, though with a display of wit and originality of phrase as is "we have to put our shoulders to the wheel". (Talk about being vague).

We have to accept job losses, he said, to cut back on government spending. This is the closest Savoie comes to thinking of what is needed for the people of New Brunswick. Fire the bastards. Unlike the other Pope, Savoie does not think of people. All he thinks of is dumping them or cutting their salaries. People are just ballast. We have to be the most business friendly place in North America. Translation: we have to fire people, cut salaries of survivors to the bone, let the very rich escape taxes, say to hell with the environment and the future......... It's also a cause of the wage gap that has driven so many North Americans into poverty. In fact, it has cause massive poverty all over the world.

And, oh, we must embrace globalization. That means accepting what is happening now as big business is free to exploit the poorest countries in the world, to hide its taxable income, to operate free of any regulation whatever the damage might be to people, so in time we can become cheap labour, too, and then , like the people of Congo and Guatemala and most of the world, be enslaved to work for almost nothing on land long since poisoned - and getting murdered if we complain.

That is what globalization has done. It has deepened poverty and starvation and suffering all over the world.

Dr. Savoie, your economic formula has everything in it but people, and what they need in order to live.
Friday's editorial is either silly or ignorant. (It can be hard to tell.) It says we should have a great tourist season next summer as the American economy recovers. First, the American economy is not recovering. The very, very wealthy are doing fine. But they always have. So, yes, we could tap into the billionaire market for those who want to see the tidal bore. But the average American is not heading into good times.

The sentencing of  Justin Chretien Bourque took up most of Saturday's section A. Most of it was pure sensationalism with no news worth reading. The one point that struck me was Bourque's statement that he did it because he believed the government and the crown were socialist. What a bizarre statement! Our government is closer to fascism than to socialism. (Yes, I know Hitler called his party National Socialist. But there was nothing socialist about it or about Hitler. And I can't imagine what is socialist about the Royal Family.)  The man is either extraordinarily ignorant or is living in a different world.

The reporting, at best, is sloppy sentimentalism. The editorial, on the other hand, is pure, ravaging, stone age beast.  Hang him! Hang him! Hang him! That will send a message to the public that you must not kill police.

Duh, Mr. Editor, I think the public already knows that. But no message will ever get through to a brain that thinks the crown and the government are socialist. And there's just a touch of uncertainty about the whole idea that we are sending a message of any sort.

The American government was behind the killing of 300,000 Guatemalan civilians, including a lay missionary from Buctouche. I cannot recall a single Canadian news medium than even reported it. And, certainly, the Canadian government never did a damn thing. US agencies torture people all over the world - and they have had the assistance of Canadian government officials. That never made the news, either. George Bush 2, with Britain and then Canada, illegally invaded Afghanistan after Bush and Tony Blair illegally invaded Iraq, killing people in numbers we never hear about and for a reason never explained. But George Bush walks freely into any upper level Chamber of Commerce dinner that can afford to pay him to give inane speeches and get standing ovations. And Tony Blair has become an extremely wealthy man serving the very rich. They (and we) broke international law. That means the leaders who did that could be arrested on Canadian soil. When will our editorials scream at us to hang them?

Given the judge's choices under our legal system, the decision for life with no parole was  really the only one possible  - to keep this man out of circulation. Many will accept that as a justifiable revenge. But there is no such thing as a justifiable revenge. And, in any case, the revenge does nothing for the sufferers and the general public.

We really need serious rethinking of our justice system to get away from the revenge and punishment concept to some options that will actually reduce crime.

Bill Belliveau's column is worth a read. Norbert's Saturday column is back to normal, pimping for McKenna who's pimping for his wealthy friends in the shale gas business.

By the way, somewhere in this papers (I can't find it now) is a claim that in all  the years of fracking, there has never been a successful lawsuit by people who laid charges against it. That is simply a lie. There are cases that have gone to court, and in which frackers have been found guilty. There are also many cases that fracking companies have settled out of court.

For information on this, check LEC (Literary Review of Canada) for October 14. (You're not likely to find it except in a very large book store, but the library should have it.)

It has an article by Jessa Gamble, "Perennial Temptation". It's a review of two books. On is "On Fracking" by C.Alexia Lane. The other is "The Case for Fracking" by Ezra levant. Lane is a water management specialist. Levant is a gutter columnist for Canada's leading gutter newspaper, The Sun (Toronto). He has no scientific training of any sort, doesn't believe that climate change is happening, thinks carbon dioxide is good for you, and is the kind of person much admired by people who read gutter newspapers.

Finally, oh , how the world has passed me by. A page of columns by students is on C5; and Isabelle Agnew, now a student at St. Thomas University has a column "Living with one's significant other can work, even for a young couple."

In my undergraduate days, asking a girl to  have a cup of coffee was a big move.  I did it once in the library.(Then this neat-looking guy came over, pointed to the coffee shop, and said' "Hey, chick." And she giggled and went him while I melted into the floor.)

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