Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Nov. 25: It's a mad, mad, mad,mad world....

----an example of the madness is a story the editors of the Irving press missed. Just days ago, a UN committee put forward a proposal from Russia that the UN should condemn racism-driven crimes. Specifically, it mentioned Nazism - not surprisingly, since Nazi movements are enjoying a revival in Europe.

The proposal came from the Russians; and I first read of it in an English language newspaper  from Russia. It's called RT.  That made me suspicious, so I checked several respectable newspapers from Britain. They confirmed it.

The majority of delegates abstained - which is quite common in such votes. One hundred and fifty five delegates supported it. Three voted against it - The United States, Ukraine, and ----hold your applause--- Canada.

I'm so proud of our government.

Why did these three vote as they did? The only indication of that came from the Ukrainian delegate. He said Ukraine couldn't vote for the proposal because it didn't include the evils of Stalinism. And I suppose there are fools who will believe that.

But there is no reason to include Stalinism. He was certainly as brutal and murderous as they come. But his brutality was never based on racism - which is what the proposal was about. Stalin was an equal opportunity murderer, killing mostly his own people. Perhaps a more reasonable complaint would be it made no mention of the European and American empires which were "justified" by racism. All of them have believed they had a right to murder, brutalize, exploit, impoverish even more people than Stalin did - and that they had the right because they were racially superior.

But the reason for the proposal is that Nazism is on the rise. The European empires are not. And the reason for the US, Ukraine and Canada voting against it? Well, that might have something to do with the fact that Ukraine happily joined Hitler in killing Jews in World War 2, the fact that the Nazi party is alive and healthy in Ukraine - and that Nazis are prominent in the Kyiv government.

Doesn't it make you proud to know that the Canadian representative had the courage to raise his hand, and say, "Nein".
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For Monday's issue, Section A had nothing except that silly and possibly unethical ad that appears every day on A2, the one made to look like a news story with a headline, and the picture and name of the "reporter".
But it's really an ad to sell newspapers. My sympathy goes to the reporter who, presumably went to journalism school to learn how to be a reporter - and now finds himself stuck writing ads.

The editorial is an ad, too - for shale gas.

Norbert attacks professors for being inarticulate - which, he says, is closely related to illiteracy. His evidence? One paragraph from one professor. On the basis of that he speculates that the prime achievement of university education has been to produce a more literate mob of ignoramuses.

He also says schools and universities don't teach people to think. I can agree with that. Public schools don't do it because the Norberts of this world would scream at the schools for not teaching the children to think as Norberts does (which means calling people names.) Universities often don't do it because professors usually have no training in teaching, and have no idea how to teach thinking.

Norbert, you don't think. You just call people names - and you call professors across Canada inarticulate because you heard one (1) who you thought was.

Norbert, this inarticulate, non-thinking professor would just love to debate you in public.

Also in the Monday edition, Alec Bruce crashed in flames. It was an attack belittling people who oppose a pipeline and/or shale gas. You can find the same, sneering tone in the editorial which says opponents of the pipeline just don't want anybody  to get anything good.

Alec - a quiz.
1. Is there such a thing as climate change?  (yes? no? Maybe?)
2. Is it possible that climate change could eradicate human (and animal) life on this planet?
3. Have the majority of leading scientists and the UN agreed that the above is the case?
4. Has the oil industry, for many years, sponsored think tanks and ads, spending billions to convince us that "nothin' ain't happenin'?"
5. Is there general agreement that climate change is caused by the use of fossil fuels?
6. Have we been warned that we are approaching the point of no return? and that it's probably soon?
7. Would you say that the oil industry has played a leading role in finding alternative forms of energy?
8. Is  you employer a person who makes a great deal of money out of fossil fuels?
9. Are you aware of any long term plan by any Canadian government to deal with this?
10. Would a pipeline be used to transport oil to somewhere so it could be sold for burning?
11. And would that burning add to the danger we face?

Some years ago, I stood in the Colosseum in Rome. From it, I could see parts of the old, city wall. On the day that barbarians attacked that wall, the people of Rome were jammed into the Colosseum to watch with fascination as gladiators killed each other, and humans were eaten by lions. They stayed there, spellbound by the bloodshed, even though they could hear the screams of the defenders at the wall as the barbarians overran them, and spread through the city to kill and loot.

A  pipeline is not a harmless or a short term project It's a long term investment which is intended to keep pumping greenhouse gasses into the sky way past the point of no return. Our barbarians are the oil moguls.

Now, we can either hide ourselves in our pale equivalent of gladiators and lions that we call the Irving press or - as you say, "Let the protests commence."
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In NewsToday, on B1, that Canadian Council of CEOs is very upset that Ottawa is speaking of cracking down on firms here and abroad which have been convicted of bribery and extortion. It would bar them from getting federal contracts.

My goodness gracious, say the CEOs, Why - if commercial firms can't cheat and extort, that would hurt the Canadian economy. Yeah. I'll just bet it would. Even worse, it would hurt many of the members of the Canadian Council of CEOs.
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Stephen Harper, our closet warrior, and the man who was babbling just a few weeks ago about how grateful we are to those who died to protect us from Afghanistan has announced a 200 million dollar grant to assist veterans who suffered mental health problems from that war.  (Well, the Legion has been giving him hell for his neglect - and he does have an election coming up.) Too bad it comes too late to help the many who were simply dumped from the army by Harper, and left with nothing but lives that are, by now, destroyed
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Tuesday's paper had a front page story that premier Gallant is impressed with Ontario's approach to pipeline safety. According to Gallant, "She says that they (the controls) are not conditions. They are principles that have to be adhered to for the Ontario gov't to give the OK,"

What the hell does that mean? How is a principle that has to be adhered to different from a condition? The Ontario premier is obviously talking gobbledegook - and a lawyer should know that. He said, "She also says they made it very clear that their starting point is that this project is very important and can be beneficial."
Well, with that kind of a starting point, I see why she had to resort to gobbledegook.

B2 has another gem from David Gauvin, "Go into the woods with Times-Transcript.com"  I immediately thought of my childhood when we couldn't afford toilet paper; so we tore up newspapers. I'm not sure, though, how one would do that in the woods with a .com version of the paper.

There's also a banner headline on B1 about how the events centre  (hockey rink) is going ahead. I mean, this is so important because it will make Moncton rich. I think it's so generous of the wealthy owner of the hockey team not to build it himself but to let us common people pay for it, and take all the profit. There's another Hall of Fame entry for sure.
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The editorial doesn't want dress codes for schools. It wants uniforms. I'm not sure I'd support that. It could be tough on poorer kids, especially the boys. A dress code would mean more judgement calls. But I've seen it work, and it's less conformist than a uniform.

To my dismay, I found Gwynne Dyer disappointing again. He calls the Ukraine crisis something that was nobody's fault, but just stumbled into. It don't think that's true. Then he goes on to lay blame on Russia when there is much evidence (which he doesn't mention) to the contrary.

1. The riots that overthrew the pro-Russian Kyiv government were not spontaneous. A senior member of the White House staff told a Congressional committee that she had been supplied with very large sums of money and with agents to provoke such a rising. And when the rioters chased out the government and installed their own, Obama immediately recognized the new government as a legal one - though international law says the opposite.
2. At no point in this crisis has Obama shown the slightest interest in a peaceful resolution. Quite the contrary, he was made it clear he wants war. For a start, there is the The American Century document for world domination on the web.  World.  Russia and China are part of the world. They are included in the plan for world domination.
When the Malaysian airliner was shot down, the White House immediately announced it was shot down by pro-Russian rebels. At that point, he had no direct and/or skilled evidence for any such statement. And all this time after, he still doesn't. The experts studying the wreckage themselves still don't know who did it. But Obama has consistently blamed Russia.
Is Russia  helping the pro-Russians in East Ukraine? Of course. These are Russian-speaking people who have always been hated by West Ukraine simply because they speak Russian. Their chances of living if Kyiv troops break past their resistance are very, very poor. Putin would be crucified in Russia if he didn't help them. I'm sure that Russia is supplying them with weapons (for the same reason) just as I'm sure the US is supplying Kyiv. Are their Russian troops in Ukraine? I have no idea. Obama repeatedly says there are. But Obama's record of telling the truth is not a long one.

The US would never tolerate a hostile government to exist anywhere near it. Check Cuba. When it kicked out the dictators the US had imposed on it, the US sponsored an invasion, laid bombs in resort hotels, blew up a Cuban, civilian airliner - and almost fought a nuclear war with Russia.

We can argue over details. But the broad picture is very clear. Obama (well, American big business) wants a war with Russia. It probably cannot be a conventional war because the US already tied down too much - and because the American record for conventional war has not been brilliant for the last sixty years.

However, the US has lots of nuclear weapons on Russia's doorstep. Russia has none anywhere close to the US. (The nuclear fallout would affect all of us. But what the hell.....any society that thinks climate change isn't happening isn't going to worry about nuclear fallout.)

Louise Gilbert has a very good column about how seniors are often at an age when their skills and understanding are at their best. I think she's right. As I think back over my own life, going from working class boy to elementary school teacher opened a whole new world for me - and that took a lot of getting used to.  Moving on to teaching university was even more difficult as I had to learn to cope with a world in which pomposity, arrogance, unmerited self-confidence (and ignorance of teaching) were common. I'd love to start again, knowing what I know now.  ms. Gilbert's column is really worth a look.
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In B5, the TandT must have raced with time to fit in the story about Michael Brown, a black teen who was shot and killed by a white policeman - and the announcement that a grand jury found in favour of the policeman.

I don't know enough about it to argue whether the decision was the correct one. But it doesn't matter. This isn't about Michael Brown and a white policeman. It's about the racism that has plagued the US ever since white planters had the arrogance and brutality to kidnap people for slaves. It looked as though change might be coming with the crusade of Martin Luther King. But, really, nothing much has changed. Blacks still get paid less that a White doing the same job. Their schools are neglected. Their rate of poverty is way above the national average. Their chances of getting an even break are very poor.  And electing a Black president hasn't changed a thing.

(And I don't want to suggest that Canada is a role model. It most certainly is not, and never has been.)

The United States is in a position in which greed has made it the greatest threat to world peace. That same greed (disguised as free trade and abetted by massive corruption) has destroyed the US economy, and worsened the impact of racism. In the case of the US, the barbarians are not storming the walls. The barbarians are the ones who sit in government and take bribes  from even bigger barbarians.

Some day, make a count of the number of billionaires in Canada and the US who are either Black or aboriginal.
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