Friday, November 7, 2014

Nov. 7: Miscellania

This is not one of the regular blogs. It's one I've started just out of frustration at the lying and corruption that characterizes so much of our news media. I have a little list of items to demonstrate that.

First, MacLean's is Canada's largest news magazine. It can afford to hire the cream of the crop as its editors and writers. So go to Google to check out Maclean's Magazine, July 24. You will find there an article on Putin by Michael Petrous, who is a sort of pit bull of the lying world that journalism has become. (Yes. I know he has a doctorate from Oxford U. Don't fall that that "great name" university guff. Some of the most incompetent (and arrogant and bigoted) professors I ever met graduated from Oxford and Cambridge.)

In this article, Michael Petrous tells the world that the passenger plane which crashed in Ukraine was shot down by Russian-made missiles fired by pro-Russian rebels on the ground. And Putin knew all about it when he caused a crisis by invading Ukraine.

Petrous is lying. He's quite deliberately lying to create fear and hatred.

His article is dated July 24, 2014. At that time the experts appointed to study the wreckage and determine what shot it down had not submitted any report. In fact, they still haven't.  The editors at MacLean's may be unethical; but they aren't stupid. They knew the information for that story does not yet exist. And they certainly knew it on July 24, 1014.

By the way, all the sources he quotes to "prove" that Putin and Russia shot that plane down are US government. He also completely distorts the story of how the Ukraine crisis was caused - even though an agent of the American government is on record as saying she spent over five million dollars to create the mob that overthrew Ukraine's elected government in the first place.

This is not an act of ignorance or incompetence - as one might expect of the Times and Transcript. This is deliberate lying. The effect it will have, almost certainly has had, is to create the kind of hysteria that has been used to suck Americans into disastrous war after disastrous war, and to accept the increasingly abusive police state at home.

Second, and unnoticed in most of our news media, is a story from Fort Lauderdale in Florida. A clergyman and a 91-year-old veteran were recently charged with--------giving food to homeless and hungry families. They broke the law by doing it in public. (Well, where the hell else would they look for homeless people?)
They have been warned that if they do it again, they will be jailed for two months.

The veteran said he's going to do it again. So, probably, will the clergyman.

Fort Lauderdale is not an exception. Such laws are becoming common in the US.

In Brazil, Cuba, Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, Finland --and Slovenia, university education is free. (I believe it is also free in The Netherlands; it was when I taught there.) Canada and the US are richer than most of those countries. They are certainly richer than Slovenia and Cuba. So how come Canadians and Americans who want to get a full education have to put families and students into debt and hardship to get that education?

It's understandable in the US. It has to support a corrupt military-industrial complex whose cost runs to some 700 billion dollars to a trillion dollars every year. Where is Canadian money going?
US and Canadian news media are full of stories about how the economy is recovering, and unemployment is down. And that's a crock.  First, those lucky few who are getting jobs are getting them at low wages. Secondly, both Canada and the US cook their unemployment figures. People who have given up after months and even years of looking for a job are simply dropped from the unemployed list. That's it - a scratch of the pen is enough to make unemployment officially go down.
Then there's our political liars - Harper and the Conservatives. Their latest lies are about refugees and health care. Speaking in the House of Commons, a Conservative minister recently said that refugees to Canada are getting full access to medicare. Other Conservative leaders went further. They called it gold-plated medicare, far better than Canadians are getting. The Harper government also pats itself on the back for its saintliness in opening our doors to some of the millions of refugees created by wars -- which were themselves created by the west.

In fact, Canada is one of the least welcoming countries in the world. Harper turned down Romas from Hungary, a country in which Romas live as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. In fact, Hungarians in general have a tough time getting into Canada. However, Harper did relent to let a Hungarian in quite recently; he's Jewish.

He's also down on Syria because of the violence that our side has created, pays for, and equips in that country. Many Syrians, in fact, are Christians, something which seems to have gone unnoticed by Moncton churches. I would advise all Syrians to convert to Judaism. That way they'll get into Canada and the US right away.

Harper's thinking has nothing to do with religious faith. It has to do with getting votes The Jewish vote is very important to him. That's why he loudly defends Israel - even as he does nothing for it. Canada also has a substantial voting bloc of bigots and racists - and Harper's their boy.

As for the refugee burden on out medicare system ---it doesn't exist. Harper has effectively closed off medicare to most immigrants. He even denied it to a man who had escaped Africa after having a leg cut off by terrorists. For those who break into the magic circle and qualify for medicare, our cost per person for refugees has been much, much lower than the cost per person for born Canadians.

There's a fuss in Montreal over naming a new bridge after Maurice (the Rocket) Richard. The disturbing note I have seen in some news media is that it's being done because Richard was the inspiration for the separatist movement. That's nonsense.

I knew Maurice Richard and talked with him on several occasions. (It's no big deal. We weren't buddies. It was just that my uncle was his boxing coach.) Maurice would have a horror of anything being named after him. Unlike those who reside in New Brunswick's many halls of fame, Richard was the most humble, self-effacing, and modest of men, and a profoundly devout Roman Catholic. With just a first step onto the ice, he became a real rocket, and the whole auditorium seemed charged with megawatts of electricity. But off the ice, he was quite the opposite.

In the very early days of separatism, some separatists made much of his suspension by Clarence Campbell, league commissioner, the affair that led to a night of spectacular rioting in Montreal. It was the classic Quebec myth, the true Quebecois French-speaking hero against the rich and evil anglo maudit cochon.

In fact, Richard was dreadfully embarrassed by the riot, and never retained any hatred for anybody that I ever heard of.

As for separatism, he tried desperately hard to join the army early in World War 2; but was rejected because of a disability.  And trying to join the army was a most unseparatist thing to do. In later years, he was never a separatist, and never supported the movement.

As we know, the price of gas has been dropping spectacularly I'm surprised most news media haven't looked more closely for the cause. Is it possible that the price is dropping because our good friends in Saudi Arabia are cutting their price?  And could that possibly be in order to destroy the profitability of shale gas in North America?  Perhaps, too, we could have some research into the claims that New Brunswick's future lies in the development of shale gas.
Speaking of shale gas, Amherst, Nova Scotia is competing against Dieppe for the thrill of having waste water from fracking - 30,000,000 litres of it -  dumped into its sewers. New Brunswickers will have to fight for this one. Dumping wastewater in New Brunswick is the kind of thing we have to build on for the future. Heck, we have lots of lakes and rivers. Let's go, New Brunswick.

Oh, sure, there's a small risk. We don't actually know what's in that water. I mean, originally it had been full of toxic chemicals; but the gas companies have the right to keep the names of those chemicals secret. Nor do we know exactly what "cleaning" that water means. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, has Mr. Gallant called in any scientific experts to study the matter.

Of course, even if the contract to dump 30,000,000 litres does go to Amherst, we in New Brunswick will still get some of the benefit from it. It will be dumped into Amherst sewers and then gaily float merrily, merrily, merrily - into the Bay of Fundy.  That's the nice thing about pollution. In the end, we all share and share alike.
As I write this, Remembrance Day will come in just four days.We shall - as we most certainly should - remember those who died and those who suffered. But our mistake, every Remembrance Day is to stop there.

They did not die just on a whim. Nor did they all die out of patriotism. (Check enlistment figures. In both world wars, there was a burst of enrolment early in the war, and then a tapering off. Of course. Both wars began in a sea of poverty and unemployment. But once the war industries got going, that tapered off. Similarly, in World War 1, we began with high unemployment AND with a high proportion of young men born in Britain. Check the records. Note the high rate of volunteers in Ontario and the prairies. Of course. They were the ones with high migration from Britain. Then note the lower rate of volunteers in the Maritimes.)

In fact, let's cool it on the patriotism stuff in general.  Most of those who volunteered were pretty young and, in the two world wars, had very little education. Patriotism was just a word that most didn't understand. I still remember as they came to our flat - the boys from my father's Boy Scout troop - to say goodbye - Jack who got blown off the bridge of HMCS Sackville on D-Day, and wounded again in hospital when the naval magazines blew up across the harbour. I remember a kid named Bibewell who went down in mid-Atlantic with HMCS St. Croix.

Worst, I remember a severely retarded 16-year-old name Bertie who played with me because he was really a six year old mentally. He joined late in the war, stealing his draft-dodging brother's conscription papers to join. He joined because he loved taking orders, and he loved walking in boots that clicked on the pavement.
His mother said it was terrible, and she would tell the authorities he was just sixteen.

But she never did.

Six months later, in the last weeks of the war, he was killed in his first action when he jumped to his feet. And a machine gun cut him in half.

A man who was with him told me, "I was with him as we lay in the mud, with him crying and shaking. Hey, he was a kid. He was sixteen. And then he jumped up and, craziest thing, he was screaming for his mother."

Patriotism is not something to worship. The German Naziis and the Italian facists were as patriotic as they come. But I have never felt an urge to worship them.

No, patriotism is something politicians and news media and various enthusiasts play on to make us stop thinking, and to do what we are told to do. That was the lesson of the murder of two soldiers in St.-Jean and Ottawa. We treated it to inspire irrational hatreds and fears across the country. And we called it patriotism.

What we should focus on for Remembrance Day is that WE SENT THEM TO SUFFER AND TO DIE.
Sometimes, we have to do it. And sometimes we don't.

Why, under the Liberals did we send so many to die in Afghanistan? Was Afghanistan a threat to Canada? I thought of that every time I saw the hearses on TV driving along the Highway of Heroes - in true, unthinking, patriotic style.  Why did we send them?

And, if they were there for some.  urgent Canadian need, why did Harper pull them out less than half-way through the job?

Did we do it to help Afghanistan? How did it help Afghanistan? The government is still weak and hopelessly corrupt, and the Taliban is still a power. Now, after losing many more soldiers than Canada did, the US is desperately looking for a dignified way out.

We sent our soldiers there to die - and to kill.  Why?

We now have six aircraft busy killing in Iraq - and increasingly at risk themselves in a weapons-rich area. Why? Is it to protect Iraqis from being killed by ISIL?  Well, if we're so concerned about Iraqi lives, why didn't we send help for them when the US was killing far more of them than ISIL has?

Remember those who died and those who suffered life-long trauma. By all means, remember them, and be grateful to them. But go beyond remembering that. Remember that we sent them. And remember it the next time a government sends our people into war.

Let the patriots cheer. That's all they're good for. But we Canadians should put the cheers aside until we've done some thinking. Any fool can look sad and hold a hand over his heart. What we need, and what we are going to need terribly for unforeseeable years is people who think.


  1. "What we need, and what we are going to need for unforeseeable years is people who think". . I agree, but thinking is a volitional act and with the many options that people have,in how to use their minds, choosing to think is they use. In fact most people seem to want to be engaged in behaviour that avoids thinking. The rise of religion especially in the U.S. is an indicator of the rise of non-thinking, for what is religion but the acceptance of unquestioned beliefs by an act of faith,the act of non-thinking. There is nothing more important then thinking . It's how we aquire knowledge and it is knowledge that has advanced human survival.It's how we left the cave. Thinkers do not obey. It's why every dictatorship murders it's independent thinkers, its intelligencia. We have a PM who is an Evangelical fundamental christian. A man whose mind is from the Dark Ages but lives in the 21st century. He is the leader of a progressive western country, when intellectually he is on the level of being a dictator to a banana republic. What does all of this mean? What are the consequences of not thinking? Any thinker who looks at the world and particularly governments of the U.S. and those who follow the U.S, see's those consequences. From the U.S. they are continued military and political intervention into other countries and continents particulatly and mainly those with resources, ongoing, with the support of MSM out right lying to the citizens of the world and military expansion with world domination as the goal. Americans for the most part replace knowledge for myths and don't seem to be aware at all that their government domestically is becoming a police state and internationally an empire. Americans understanding of their governments war policies comes from watching John Wayne films. There are some critical thinkers in America, like Noam Chomsky, but they are too few. And what of Canada? I think Canadians are more progressive thinkers, it;s why Harper keeps his religious beliefs under wraps, but we will find out if that is true in the 2015 election. Let's see if we really value thinking. This was an excellent article and I thank you for writing it.

  2. Thank you. But you are much too kind to Mr. Harper.

    1. Graeme, I have no illusions about Harper. I described him in my above comment in the context of discussing the act of thinking or non-thinking. For the most part cognitively he is dogmatic. There is very little conceptual intellectual process happening in his mind. As to how his mangled cognition defines his character and politics well that's a subject I'd love to discuss. Maybe in another comment.