Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dec. 20: child soldiers and other memorabilia....

####Since over half of the readers of this blog are from outside Canada, and so surely cannot be interested in New Brunwick's local affairs, I'm experimenting with a new format. Foreign news will be treated separately after New Brunswick news - with the division marked by ######################
 In World War 2, as his armies crumbled, Hitler signed up children to fight. He called them 'werewolves'. It was, of course, widely condemned, and understandably so, around the world. Now, in these closing days of 2014 with all its World War 1 stories, have you seen the story about the British use of children in World War One? I haven't.

In World War 1, a quarter of a million underage children enlisted and fought in the British army. Typical ages were 14 to 16. The youngest was 12. They fought in the front line where almost half of them were taken prisoner, wounded, or killed. And the British government knew very well what was going on, as did the reporters. There are always large gaps in what the news media tell us.

While we're on World wars, I suggest you check youtube for songs of the two, world wars.  They give a powerful sense of the atmosphere of those times. From World War 1, I've always liked "The Whole World is Waiting for the Sunrise". For world war two, the winner and still champion was Vera Lynn with "There'll always be an England.." I can still remember a recording of her in our church basement when I was six or so. It sent an electricity around the room, even for a kid; and some of the real, old people - like my parents - were crying.

If I were premier of NB, and I wanted to please big money without alienating the voters, I'd stage a "just pretend" moratorium on shale gas, and arrange for the big money to noisily protest. Then I'd stage research which proved it was perfectly safe, toss in a few regulations that look tough, and then lift the moratorium. Read all about it on A1 of the TandT, 'Liberals impose fracking moratorium".

Norbert tells us that the international climate change conferences have been failures (true), and puts much of the blame on environmentalists. I'm sure there's a logic behind that. Let me know if you find it.

Alec Bruce tells us that government spending has never created an economic revival. Let's see, now. In 1939, Canada was deep  in depression. Like many Canadians, I was living in a two room flat with single windows, and the only heat coming from the cooking stove in the kitchen. In addition to his regular job, my father daily shovelled snow for the city, and added long walks to get free milk for me. And at that, we weren't getting by.

Then Canada went to war, and the government spent money. Lots of it. What followed were decades of the most prosperous years Canada has ever known. By 1950, we lived in a real apartment with an oil stove in the hall, and even had a (used) car.  All that began a slow death as big money reclaimed control of the economy, did away with regulations on their companies, lowered Canadian salaries and killed Canadian jobs with free trade, then criminally ran up huge debts in the banking and trading sector, and made us poorer still be insisting we pay off their debts so they could give their directors multi-million dollar bonuses for a job well done.

There is nothing else in section A that is worth talking about, not even rudely.
The banner headline on B1 is "Moratorium 'wasted opportunity': Corridor". For comment, see my section above on premier Gallant's 'moratorium'.

Below that exciting story about Corridor's reaction to a moratorium on shale gas. is an important one. It's about the government talk of closing schools to save money. The response from Peter Fuillerton of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association is that a school is not just a school. Closing a school can have a crushing effect on a community. And, if the reporter had bothered to do any research, he would have found it goes way beyond that. The change of school to a distant one is not only expensive and time-consuming for transport; it can also be devastating for a child, especially a young child, to adjust to an alien society. (And yes, to a young child, the adjustment to a society even just 30 kilometres down the road can be devastating, and with a long-lasting effect.)

The Irving press and New Brunswick governments really should learn that schools are not business operations; and they can't work under business rules. The Irving press, in particular, can never see social needs, just financial ones.

The story on the Cuba/US thaw has very little information, and some it is deliberate lying. The thaw was sparked when Castro released a man named Gross from prison. The story (quoted from a blogger who hates Castro) is that Gross is an aid worker who was helping Cubans. In fact, he was a U.S. agent sent to Cuba to stir up trouble. The story also quotes the blogger as saying that the Cuban intelligence agents released by the US were just in the U.S. to stir up trouble. I'm sure they were. Why on earth would the Associated Press quote a blogger, and known propagandist, on such a question - especially when the media world knows quite well what Gross was doing?

It also knows, but doesn't say, that US governments hired "aid workers" to do things like blowing up a Cuban airliner, killing all aboard.

Read the Dec. 19 edition  of the TandT only if you just can't get to sleep.
Section A, p. 1, has a story about what a wonderful man was, Lord Beaverbrook, the boy from Miramichi who became wonderfully wealthy in Britain, became a member of parliament in this spare time, and played a role in government in both world wars.

Really,  the only story is that he got rich. None of the rest would have happened without that. But there is a missing item in this news story. Why was he made a lord?  Well.....

In his days as m.p., it was obvious to the leaders of his party that this Max had some ability -  yes, but he also had an ego and an ambition that were larger than  his ability. And it was obvious he wanted some day to be prime minister.  That's why they made him a lord.

The tradition was just settling in to the British system that an aristocrat could not be a member of the House of Commons. And another tradition was settling in, too - that a member of the House of Lords could not be prime minister. Making him a lord was a trap; and Max Aitken went for the cheese in 1917.

He actually was not a very important person in world war one.  He also used his media holdings then and later as a weapon against politicians he didn't like, and also to boost his friends and himself. In short, the quality of his press was on a par with the Irving press. In World War Two, he served for a time as minister of aircraft production - but he was so quarrelsome as to alienate almost everybody who had to work with him.

Bill Belliveau, Brent Mazerolle, and David Suzuki are well worth a read.
Section B, NewsToday, is a dead loss.

On the Faith page, the sermonette is the usual pablum. "Jesus loves me, yes I know....   Yeah, we know already.  But haven't  you clergy ever read what Jesus said about greed? killing? loving your neighbour?

As well, the Faith section is down to one from its usual two pages to one, so there was no room for church announcements. Why not?

They needed the whole page for a thank you letter from the good people at Corridor Resources to those wonderful folks in Penobsquis and Elgin for their support for shale gas, even in the face of that terrible moratorium by premier Gallant. And you can tell it's sincere because its from the CEO himself.

And what a coincidence it should appear just a day after the moratorium was announced. He must be a fast writer - (or read my beginning piece about Gallant.)

Cuba - in general, the information in the North American press about Cuba is pretty awful. (It always has been.) One of the worst commentaries i've seen about the thaw in Cuban-American relations is in The Christian Science Monitor. It's full of nonsense about how Obama desperately wants freedom and democracy for the Cuban people.

Please. Just a glance at history shows that American governments have done close to nothing for freedom and democracy. The reason Castro came to power was to throw off Batista, a stunningly  brutal, torturing dictator who had been placed and kept in power by the American government because he allowed US business to loot his country. American governments did that all over Central America.  And if any country dared to become free and democratic, it was put down by thugs in the service of the US government, and dictatorship (perhaps in disguise) put back. That happened to Guatemala, Chile, Haiti... In fact, in the 1920s and 30s, the US was almost constantly at war in Central America to implant dictators.

Overseas, one of the closest allies of the US is Saudi Arabia, one of the strictest, cruelest and most reactionary dictatorhips in the world - perhaps the only country in the world in which a woman can be legally beheaded for driving a car or being a witch.

As well, American presidents, like Obama and Bush, have been busy destroying destroying whatever freedom and democracy is left in the US. (And even at its best, American democracy  has never been nearly as free and democratic as the history books say.)

There's also a story that the US government is recognizing that sanctions didn't work. Well, maybe. But, if so, it took the US well over fifty years to figure that out. And nobody is that dumb.

So why is Obama making nice with Cuba?

It has to be a guess, and my guess would start with something our news media haven't said much about. The US empire is in trouble in Latin America. After more than a century of looting, abuse and impoverishment at the hands of American corporations and American-sponsored dictators, Latin America is very seriously turning against the US. Despite the work of CIA killers and disruptive tactics, at least ten countries have openly turned against American domination.  And what started that?

It was Fidel Castro, all those years ago. With a quite astonishing courage for such a tiny nation against such a huge and powerful one, Cuba kicked out its American dictator, suffered through decades of impoverishing sanctions - and it succeeded.

The truth is that Castro and Cuba won what may prove to be the most influential revolution of this century. They won. And that has inspired tens of millions of Latin Americans to do the same.  The US empire is in very serious trouble throughout Latin America. The US lost; and Obama knows it. Now, he desperately needs to build bridges - and Cuba is his starting point tp re-establish U.S. power in Latin America.  Will it work?

Probably not. The real bosses of the US are much too greedy to make any concessions to the rights of other countries. And the real bosses own most of the members of Congress.

It may not be surprising that the Irving press has had little to say about the greatest crisis (well, along with climate change) the world has ever seen. The US government doesn't give a damn about freedom of democracy in any country, including the US. So why is it getting so involved with Ukraine?

Because it wants a war with Russia. Or, at a minimum, it wants Russia to accept U.S. world domination. Sanctions seemed like a good idea. If they work, then US money takes over the Russian market. If it doesn't work, the U.S. invades.  Except -

1. Putin does not seem to be the sort to cave in. (Not even when the much-feared prime minister of Canada called him a communist. (What a turkey  our prime minister, Stephen Harper, is! Putin is nothing close to communist. In fact, Russia is controlled by billionaires - just like us freedom-loving Canadians and Americans.)
2. The American attack on the Russian rouble is a wake-up call for most of the world to get away from reliance on the American dollar as the standard international currency. It's the status of the dollar as the international currency that gives the US the power  to harm anybody who gets in the way. That's why we're looking at the development of a trading bloc led by Russia, China and India. The idea of switching from the US dollar is gaining attention in the European Union, too. The EU is essentially made up of old powers like Britain and Germany that began a serious decline in WW1. World War 2 put the seal on them, and forced them to ride on American coattails. But they're starting to see their choice of ride is a very expensive one -and one that raises the distinct possibility of them going down in a nuclear cloud.

3. China cannot afford to see Russia go down to the US. That would surround China with American offensive power, including nuclear rockets right on the Chinese border. It's quite likely that India feels the same way.

This is one of the great turning points of history. The US is in decline. Its business leaders are determined to strike for world domination before the decline goes too far, and before the full economic power of rising countries is felt.

Big business in the US is prepared to risk all, including all of us, in one, last throw of the dice. And, whatever number comes up, we shall all be the losers.


  1. Well, I expected your thoughts about the moratorium would be skeptical, but 3 sentences? Most of us were pleased to see a moratorium as substantial as this one is and let me tell you why.
    Take a look at what happened in New York state just last week, they established the first ban on hydrofracking in the country. At the press conference the acting Health Commissioner stated that in 2008 there were 8 scientific studies on fracking, now there are over 400. His conclusion, fracking cannot be done safely and there are no regulations on Earth that can change that, due to the nature of unconventional mining.
    The Governor told Democracy now! that he felt so pressured to do what appears to be, by any logical standard, the right thing to do by banning this technology, he could do no less. Because of the split over this issue he felt genuinely conflicted.
    Do you really think that after all we've been through in N.B, that those of us who care would be silly enough to be taken in by some "involved academics" or some
    insignificant regulations. Just try that and we will be back to Kent County in 2013.
    The government, venal as it may be, knows better than that. The word is out in those 400 studies and they can't put that genie back in the bottle. I do believe that the "village mentality" has altered in N.B. due to climate change and other concerns of the 21st century. Those of us that have been engaged in this struggle for years understand that we can't turn the page on shale gas yet, we're not that naive, but I think Corridor for one is concerned to say the least.
    I won't suggest that they won't try to poke a hole in the integrity of the moratorium, but I can't see them reversing the process over the next few years. Shale gas might be obsolete by then. We have too much information on our side today in areas that relate to social/political issues and the United Nations and the Supreme Court are doing their bit.
    Nowadays, people are ready to demonstrate their displeasure with backward thinking very publicly. They are on the news almost every night.
    To think that there is a government conspiracy that has created a "phony moratorium" is a bit rich for my blood, Graeme, but for now we'll just have to agree to disagree.

  2. A government conspiracy? heaven forbid. New Brunswick governments have always been open and honest. I don't think most of the people who have worked to stop shale gas will be taken in. But there are a whole lot who didn't work for it. All the government and the shale gas companies have to do is to take those people even further in.
    New Brunswick (and it's not alone in this) has a long record of being taken in. I'll change my mind when I see the world 'ban'.