Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dec. 30+: Lord love a duck....

...the Irving press is still plunging.

On p. A1, the big story is a human interest, shed a happy tear story about a South Korean family here in Moncton that is going to be allowed to stay here.

But that's not the real story at all. The real story is that they were admitted to Canada in 2003, worked hard to set up a successful business, then were told by Canada Immigration in 2011 to go back to South Korea. But public pressure forced Canada Immigration to back off. This is not really a story about a happy ending for the family. It's a story about the bizarre behaviour of Immigration Canada under the rule of Harper. The reporter and the editor should have known that, and should have done a bit of research.

Under Harper, Canada routinely deports immigrants who have been here for years to have their cases reviewed - and then get letters telling them they are deported. In the Moncton case, the reason was that they have a son who is epileptic, and therefore might be a burden on our health system.

Hundreds of families are held in our prisons while they're waiting. This is a barbarous and irrational system, and quite possibly a racist one. (Well, it's definitely racist in the case of Romas who are forbidden to come to Canadna. But, to the Irving press, it's just a light, happy holiday story.

A3 has a big story on how to  keep a New Year's resolution. Hot stuff! The news you need to know.

A 6 has a big story about a strike at Mount Allison University - that ended months ago. A7 also has an out of date story about reactions to the closing of  Crystal Palace,  an entertainment centre. A8 has yet another story about exciting events of the past year. One was the case of bird that got stolen, the other is a sadly sweet story about two dogs.

The editorial writer reminded us to give blood. And that certainly won't offend the boss. Norbert writes about the future without really saying anything about it.

Alec Bruce writes a column which doesn't come  right out and say, "Fracking is good". But one quarter of it is quotations from the CEO of Corridor resources. And three quarters of it says nothing at all. So I think Mr. Irving will like it.

Alan Cochrane has yet another column of what happened locally in 2014. We already know, Allan. Most of us were here when it happened.

In NewsToday, B4 and B5 offer two, full pages yet again on one-liners about what happened in the last year. The lead story is a long one "Premier says'tough choices ahead'."  However, since he doesn't say what the tough choices are, that doesn't tell us anything. It is clear, though, that he intends to cut government spending.

But no government that I ever heard has restored prosperity simply by cutting spending. In fact, and as we should have learned in the 1930s, cutting government spending makes a recession worse.

Then there's the Your Business page in section C. As is common, the major part of it is a story about how the SPCA director loves her job.  I'm happy for her. But what does that have to do with business? We're in a world of economic turmoil, a turmoil that threatens peace in much of a world in which so much of the peace has already been destroyed by greedy business leaders.  The US appears to be in a sharp decline, largely due to the dominance of big business in setting foreign policy. New Brunswick, like much of the world, has a very, very serious wage gap.

And our only big story in the business section is about how the SPCA director loves her job?

This whole, damn paper is like that. Even the Sports section in pretty thin stuff. Read the sports columnist for today in "A New Year means even more toys for outdoor use". Most of what it talks about are guns - and much of it is wrong. For example, the US does NOT strictly control automatic weapons. It all depends on the state. Go to Nevada, for example. I can send you to a gun store there that will sell you a submachine gun, or even a water-cooled, heavy machine gun (500 shots a minute) with no paperwork.

It also strays into politics to say that the US has often gone to war - but done so reluctantly. Oh? Name one such reluctant war.

Awful, awful, awful. This is a newspaper deliberately designed to keep people in the dark. And I really wonder what the journalism schools are teaching when they turn out people who take jobs in this system.

What could they cover?

Well, gas prices are down. The sharper minds at Irving press have noticed it. But they haven't told us why. Oh, they've mentioned there's an oversupply - and that passes as meaning it's a part of the natural laws of supply and demand.

But it's not. It's happening because Saudi Arabia booted up its output of oil, So why didn't it just cut back a bit? That would have raised the price as quickly as it had dropped. Obvious answer - Saudi Arabia wanted the price to drop. Okay. But why did Saudi Arabia want it to drop? And this is where we need informed speculation.

One of reason might be that the US asked the Saudis to flood the market to make life tougher for the more expensive oil from Russia and Iran.. It also hurts Latin American oil producing nations who are turning against a century and more of American domination.

And why would Saudi do this for the US? Well, maybe because it makes life tougher for North American production of shale gas - you know, the gas that's going to make us all rich. It also could open doors for the Saudis in what are normally Russian and Iranian markets.

Then there's  the coming UN vote to recognize Palestine as a nation. This time, world opinion is heavily on Palestine's side. That means the U.S. will likely have to use its veto to kill the 'yes' vote. And Harper who talks big about how Canada will defend Israel no matter what will have to vote 'no' (unless Harper is willing to lose the Zionist vote in Canada).

Not that it matters what Canada thinks. For a start, Canada's international reputation has long gone down the toilet due to Harper's toadyism to the US, his limp gestures to help (or avoid  helping) the millions of refugees of wars in this world. his obvious political games-playing in everything he does.

And it may be just as well for us that the US will torpedo any attempt to recognize Palestine as a state - because, if it were to allow the bill to pass, then Palestine would have every right to demand the return of large areas that have been taken over illegally by Israel, the Palestinians who lived there forced off their lands, their homes destroyed - to make way for waves of Israeli settlers.

But Harper has promised that Canada will be on Israel's side no matter what. The trouble is we have no military adequate to defend even Canada - or to perform any independent action anywhere in the world. While praising our veterans and calling on God to bless them, he has routinely betrayed them. He has also allowed the navy to become the world's largest collection of antique ships, the air force to become small and equipped with elderly aircraft, and the army to be severely reduced in both numbers and equipment.

We have no capacity whatever to defend the Arctic, for example. Indeed, we no longer have any plan of what our military is for. In any war, we can only be what we are now, a run-down and distant branch office of the U.S. military. We made a huge mistake when we dropped the peace-keeping role. That mistake deprived us of the one military role that was useful for us and for our international reputation.

We need to plan what our military is for, then make it adequate for its job. We have to plan for climate change within the next 15 to 20 years. We have to plan for energy problems, for severe food shortages; we have to plan at every level of government; we have to plan for massive refugee problems - and not just for budgets. We have to start with what is likely to happen, and what people will need to cope with it.

Life is not simply a matter of cutting government spending. It's a matter of dealing with increasing poverty as a result of the wage spread all over the world. It's a matter of being informed of where our money is going now, and of questioning whether that is is wise place to put it.

There is a severe problem of the destruction of western democracy at the hands of extremely wealthy individuals. (In the coming Canadian election, which party to you think will have the biggest election budget?)
We need to restructure our news media because we cannot have a democracy in nations with news media controlled by the same people who exist to make us poor so they can make themselves richer.

Take a good look at the Moncton Times and Transcript for Dec. 30. Think of what you need to know to function in a democracy. Then compare that to the mindless drivel in the Irving press. Or take a look at your own local newspaper. We are,  by the millions. being manipulated, exploited, and lied to.

This next bit is an extra which has nothing to do with news media, but rather is about some of the obvious lies that we commonly accept as truth.  I'm now writing simply as a robot - so this is eminently skippable.  I thought of it while reading a pictorial history of Canada in World War Two.

It was in my Christmas stocking, and it's Canada At War by Paul  Keery. It's actually not bad as popular history goes. It is often less critical than it should be. But that's common even in scholarly military history as patriotism trumps serious judgement. In any case, Canadian forces really were pretty good in World War Two. And that was quite an accomplishment considering all the years of neglect after 1918.

But two things bothered me. The worst was the conclusion which says they fought for the rights of human beings - and the world today would be a darker place if they had not fought so well. In fact, the world IS a darker place, and fundamental rights are in serious decline, even in the democracies

Then it says that after the war, Canada helped to shape a better world in which human freedoms could expand and grow.

I must have missed all that expanding and growing. In fact, the only way that Canada did that was by peacekeeping, notably in Cyprus. But we long ago abandoned that. And our last "peacekeeping" mission was in Haiti was a disgrace as our "peacekeepers"  helped a US army to destroy a popular, elected government, to install a US puppet, and to bring back the thugs who the dictators had called 'police'.  And, along the way, to drive Haitians back into poverty and wretchedness.

And then, the book says it was the accomplishment of the Canadians that liberated and brought freedom to the world.

This is patriotism gone crazy. In the first place, the only people who got liberated were the western European countries that had been democratic before the war.  The rest of the world had to fight for its own freedoms. Indeed, we helped dictatorships and exploitation to thrive in Spain under the fascist who had been a buddy of Hitler, Francisco Franco. Nor did we ever lift a finger to help any country living under a US dictator or puppet (as in Latin America and The Phillippines). In China, we and the west supported the murderous Chiang Kai-Shek, who was actually worse than Mao. And the Korean war? It was a dictatorship when we got there, and stayed a dictatorship for many years after we left. We had nothing to do with bringing democracy to South Korea.

Apart from those few European countries, Canada has NEVER liberated anybody. Heck, we haven't even liberated our own native peoples.

This is no criticism of our World War Two military who did very well, indeed. But we shouldn't allow a blind patriotism to gild the lily. I'm a little bit sensitive to writing that talks history, but presents myth,

The other one is just an item I found amusing. It concerns the cruiser (quite a powerful ship) HMCS Uganda which served in the Pacific by shelling Okinawa just before the American attack on it. Uganda had made a pretty good name for itself in the Pacific, winning at least one battle honour. So we can imagine the surprise in the US fleet when Uganda suddenly stopped firing, turned, and headed for the horizon - all the way back to Canada. It must be one of the very few cases in history of a single ship breaking off an action like that.

The reason began with prime minister Mackenzie King. With Germany defeated, and Japan close to it, he announced that any of our military from this point on would be sent to the Pacific only if they volunteered.
(I remember it well because my father shocked us with the news he had volunteered for Pacific service.)

That decision made it necessary for the crew of Uganda to volunteer. So a ballot was held, during the battle for Okinawa, - and the majority voted not to volunteer. The ship could not fight with so much of the crew leaving -so the captain could only order a return to Canada.

Nobody really knows why the crew voted as it did. Most had been away and at sea for five years, and they had all been hard years. Mackenzie King's decision certainly gave the impression that the war against Japan was no longer a priority. Anyway, Japan was obviously finished. So why bother to stay and risk getting killed for no good reason?

That's not trivial information. It's one of the few bits we have to tell how our servicemen felt about the war - so it's one of our few chances to get in touch with a bit of reality that we don't hear on Nov. 11.

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