Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dec. 31: "Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow"

"Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time;"

The lines above are proof that William Shakespeare must have read the Irving press  every day. That is probably why he became aware of creeping in this petty pace.

The editorial advises us to "..reflect on 2014'. But the reflection is pretty narrow, strictly local, stuff. The whole thing is  really just staring at the editor's unattractive belly button. Its closing advice is to start a new slate to find solutions to issues.  How's that for thoughtful and precise advice?

And we all know that if anybody came up for a new slate that had solutions, Mr. Irving would be displeased, and his paper would rip the intruder to shreds. But let's risk it. Let's come up with a new solution to a big problem. We have a newspaper that lies to us, that spreads propaganda for its owner, that praises a phony think tank at U de Moncton, and has a thoroughly incompetent editorial board. That control by manipulation, lying and propaganda is the major factor in holding this province back.  So, how about we fix that?

...no. I didn't think so. Mr. Irving doesn't want that fixed.

Norbert, too, stares down at his own bellybutton. It's another unattractive belly button, and one, like the editorial, with nothing worth talking about.

And Alec Bruce steps well over the line as a shill for shale gas. This time, he says it is perfectly safe, and has never polluted the air,  or damaged the atmosphere or the water supply.  Alec, you are not telling the truth - and this time you must know it.

You are too intelligent to rely on the Irving press for your news. So you must have read about the recent shale gas report from New York. This was based on studies from leading experts on things like shale gas. They say it causes respiratory problems. (That means it does pollute the air.) They say it does damage water tables, and probably worse than we yet realize. They say it releases huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere - which is a big factor in climate change. (That's added to billions of tons of methane already being soaked up by the atmosphere as Arctic ice melts,) Then  you have the problem that a development of shale gas means committing ourselves for very many years to burning the fossil fuels that will destroy us.

As for jobs it will produce, big business does not exist to create jobs or to spread wealth. It exists to make wealth for itself, and to  hell with what happens to everybody else. You've read about the wage spread, Alec. You know what that means.

And if you think that's okay, then you don't even understand what the word capitalism is supposed to mean - and why real capitalism, at the corporation level, ceased to exist long, long ago.

You might also listen to CBC News. (The TandT has been too busy telling us what happened last year to tell us any important, current news.)  The dikes at Tantramar are being built up now - before rising water levels can lead to serous flooding. You know - Arctic ice melting. climate changing, sea level rising....

And they aren't being built up by environmental nutbars. It's being done by governments.

Oh, I know. I know. It can't possibly be true. Gosh, big oil has spent billions over the years to tell us climate change isn't happening. (God bless them for being so generous and so caring for our welfare.)  But it is happening,;and military studies suggest it could be having profoundly disturbing and damaging effects in as little as fifteen years.

Of, course, we can always just relax, read the Irving press  (  ---go to sleep, my baby.....)

Eric Lewis contributes a column on how the Meung family of Moncton will be allowed to stay in Canada.  Too bad he has nothing to say except what was in the news pages just yesterday. And neither the news nor Lewis even noticed what the real story is - the disgraceful handling of immigrants and refugees by the Harper government.

Brian Cormier contributes yet another column of idle chatter.

And Section B2 (NewsToday) has yet another whole page of one-liners about what happened last year. Then, B4 has almost half a page on "Plunge in crude prices named year's top business story". Who bloody cares what it gets named?  And why aren't we getting news on WHY the prices are plunging?.

The only item worth reading in this whole paper is one on B5. "IMF policies hindered Ebola response..."
The International Monetary Fund (a Santa Claus for big business and big bankers) is accused of setting loan terms that give priority to cutting social spending, and making sure the big bankers get all their money back - with interest. That has a good deal to do with the Ukraine crisis. That's why the Ukraine government is now run largely by the IMF. As Ukraine descends into chaos and suffering, the IMF wants to make sure international bankers squeeze every penny they can out of that country before Ukraine goes flat broke.

In the case of Ebola, the IMF discourages borrowing for social programmes so that as much spending as possible goes to private business. Result? Thousands have died because Sierra Leone was hopelessly ill equipped to deal with a medical crisis.

But there is a good side. The IMF was able to help international bankers feel their money was safe.
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Has there really been no news at all for the last week or so? Actually, there were some little items.

For example, the UN security council rejected Palestine's bid to be recognized as a nation. Well, actually, Palestine won the vote with eight of fifteen council members voting for Palestine. But, under the rules, Palestine needed to win by two votes - and the abstentions by five members left it short by one.

What now? Well, for a start, this probably marks the end of negotiations Obviously, Israel intends to keep Palestine its prisoner for ever. And it probably intends to expel the Palestinans in the not to distant future, and to take over all their land.

For the time being, Palestine will give the world one, last chance to make Israel back off. It will apply for membership on the UN justice committee in order to lay charges against Israel for war crimes. What might happen after that is anybody's guess. But peace is definitely off the table.

Meanwhile, Russia's Putin - you know, the evil one - is trying to set up peace talks in Syria. This is about a civil war that isn't really a civil war. The US and Saudi Arabia set it up because the government of Syria wasn't doing everything the US told it to. In order to get rebels, they had to hire mercenaries from among the same people the US calls terrorists which it isn't paying them to fight its wars for it.

The most recent count is over a hundred and sixty thousand dead. But that's not reliable because it's the figure given by the Syrian Observatory for human rights (which is actually a "rebel" propaganda outfit run by a haberdasher in England - but the North American press pretends it really is a legitimate organization.

Several press reports also refer to anybody speaking for the "rebels' - large numbers  of whom really aren't rebels because they aren't Syrians- anyway, our press refers to such a source as coming from 'militants' which is a nicer  way of saying 'rebels' - which is a nicer way of saying 'terrorists' - which is what we call them when they're fighting us.) I hope that clears it all up.

Anyway, the evil Putin is trying to work out a ceasefire because that's what evil people do. He has a motive, of course. He wants to extend Russia's trade to Syria. That's what started this civil war in the first place because the U.S. wanted to control Syrian trade. It still does. So the 'rebels'  have their orders not to attend any peace talks.

So, a lot of people are dead. Far more are wounded, starving, millions are refugees; almost all have had their lives ruined. And the chaos through most of Africa and the Middle East will go on for a century and more. Western interference for a whole century has destroyed almost all the traditional structures of the region. Anyone who thinks a society can just bounce back from that should take a look at the racial crisis in the U.S. And if any Canadian feels smug about that, he or she might consider the damage Canada has done for centuries to its native peoples who can no longer live as they used to because we destroyed their traditional societies. But a society takes thousands of years to build - and you can't just patch it up and become a new one.

In Syria, as in much of Africa and the Milddle East, families have been destroyed. So have social structures. And economic structures. Millions of children can't go to school. How can they with drones firing rockets at them, guerrilla fighters that have risen out of the chaos to rape and murder them. Millions are orphaned, crippled, starving....  And Canada, especially through its mining companies, has been a major force in destroying societies. As history has shown often enough, repairing that damage takes centuries - and often cannot be done at all.

Notice how the Irving press editorials talk mostly about money, and how to spend it or not spend it? Most of our world leaders are like that. Their only concern is making money -and that way lies disaster.Making money for a handful of billionaires is what has created disaster in much of the world. You cannot start with thinking about  money.

The first consideration has to be people - what they need, what they must have to survive. Yes, we need money. But to think money first, and to let making money become the major force in the world is a guarantee of disaster. We need to start with people. What do people, all people, need to survive, to feel comfortable, to be free, really free, in this world? What does it mean to love one's neighbour? And what will happen if we
 don't?


"And all our yesterday have have lighted fools
The way to dusty death."

(with thanks to Shakespeare)






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.
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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.
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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.




Monday, December 29, 2014

Dec. 30: A reality check

I was in my apartment building's laundry room yesterday. Time passes slowly down there. So I wandered over to a stack of Maclean's magazines.  MacLean's was never a really good magazine; but it was, once, respectable in a world of mediocre news magazines.  But now, I was astonished by the obvious propaganda and outright lying.

The cover story on the first one was about how evil Putin is, and how he invaded Ukraine. Yes, I know the Irving press says the same things. But there was a time when the Irving press was publicly denounced as dishonest by real journalists across Canada. Today, it's no better; but news media across North America are so bad that the Irving papers look (almost) honest.

Maybe Putin is evil. I don't know. I do know, though, that he is not the one who started the Ukraine mess. A woman at a high level in the White House testified to a congressional committee that she was the one directed to fund the rebellion that overthrew the elected government - and her boss was Obama.

We also know now - through the White House - that George Bush, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair, and then Obama, were responsible for the largely illegal use of torture (and murder) for the past 14 years.  That, certainly, is pretty evil. It's also contrary to American law and to international law. So where are the charges? Where are the arrests?

But none of that is going to happen. We know that. We self-righteously hanged Naziis and Saddam Hussein for the same thing. And the US leads the world in prison population. But our politicians are protected. It's reminiscent of Brian Mulroney who got caught accepting massive bribes when he was PM. He also violated the law by not reporting it to Revenue Canada. You  try that, and see what happens. But Harper, our tough on crime PM, let him off with just paying the tax. So Brian and Mila still live in their huge, stone mansion in Westmount and are still welcome among the "better sort" of people.

So I looked at MacLean's, then at the Moncton Times and Transcript, and I thought.What the hell are our university departments of journalism teaching? In the period when I taught some journalism courses, we were expected to teach ethics, honesty in reporting, proper research, to avoid propaganda....  If journalism departments in New Brunswick have any ethics at all, I wonder why it doesn't show in their graduates. This isn't sarcasm. This is a serious question.

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For Dec. 30, Section A has not a thing worth reading. A3, for example, has a big story of one-liners about important events of 2015 - like "March 4: NB Liquor's new CEO, Brian Harriman, has big plans." 

The editorialist writes an angry one about the moratorium on shale gas, telling us it's all perfectly safe. What a dishonest twit! Obviously, he has never heard about New York's ban on shale gas - or about the  research on it - research that was known long ago, but ignored by most North American newspapers. Well, actually, of course he has heard about it. But it has never appeared in his paper, and never shall. The editorial is not ignorant.  It's worse. It's lying.

Norbert has nothing to say. But he says it, anyway.

Alec Bruce (courageously, in his view) supports the civic centre project. He also defends himself against claims that he has sold himself to corporate demons who just want a publicly funded hockey rink. Well, Mr Bruce, I think you are one of the few intelligent and capable columnists in that paper. But I cannot recall a single occasion on which you criticized anything that an Irving did or wanted. I don't condemn you for that. I've had experience of being in the same position. My first radio job was at CBC Montreal. It lasted 12 years. Then they fired me for becoming too prominent (not on air but in public life) in a cause that the CBC bosses didn't want to touch - anglo rights in Quebec. 

Before a city spends a hundred million (and much more) for a hockey rink, we should be discussing a list of city  priorities We desperately need radical city planning. We need a transportation system to match that planning. We need to look at the future in terms of where the national economy is going. And where the climate is going. Both are likely to have a crashing effect not long after the "events centre" opens.

What is the future likely to be?  What are our plans for dealing with it? These are the things to be decided BEFORE we jump into an added debt of a hundred million or more.  Meanwhile, if an Irving really wants a hockey rink and really thinks it's going to turn a profit, let him build it with his own money. This province already gives far too much to the rich, and far too little to everybody else.

Craig Babstock has the usual end-of-year story about how good volunteers are to people who need food, a place to live.... The volunteers are good. But think, Mr. Babcock. There is something desperately wrong with a society in which the hungry and the homeless have to rely on volunteers while the rich get government help to buy forests at bargain basement prices, and some of the lowest tax rates in the developed world.

There seems to be no more word about Harper's bizarre plan to spend fifteen million dollars on a memorial to people killed by communists. His reference seems to be largely Stalin and Mao because they killed so many. Uh, well, Chiang Kai-Shek murdered people on the same scale as Stalin and Mao.So shouldn't his killings be included?

Oh. I forgot. Chiang was a capitalist.
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Foreign news? That's section B and, oh, it's sloppy. B1 has a story about how the war in Afghanistan is now over. Well, that's what the headline says. But the US will keep 12,000 troops there, and keep sending money and equipment. And the fighting is still going on. Boy! Talk about ending a war!

B1 also has a story about how wars made 2014 a hard year to be a kid. Curiously, most of the examples given refer to the brutalities of people "on the other side", the only exception being a brief reference to Israel. The whole story is really just mindless bunk. Millions of children have been starved, murdered, had their childhood destroyed just about every year since 1939. It's also bunk that most countries historically have tried not to kill civilians and children. The reality is that children and civilians have always been targets and victims in war. In World War Two, Nazi troops made a practice of killing the innocent from the start. And Britain and the US and Canada soon followed suit. Since then, the big killer of civilians and children has been the US with the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Libya, Syria (with "rebels" financed by the US), Guatemala..and all those drones that we never read about.

On B3, the big story is "North Korea calls Obama a monkey." US news media are calling this a racist comment. It probably isn't. It is in the racist US (most of the country) where monkey is used to refer to blacks. But I doubt whether the word carries that meaning in the Koreas.

Anyway, that's no big story. The big story is that experts feel that North Korea did not hack into Sony Pictures, that it was an inside job. And I have suspected that from the start. The big winner is Sony, which found a way to make big money out of a very bad film.

By the way, I wonder how the US news media would react if North Korea made a film comedy based on the assassination of an American president.

Here's a story about the Sony Pictures foofaraw. It's from a Russian source; but I've found it a good deal more reliable than the Irving press.  Hell, Mao's New China News Agency was better than the Irving press.
http://rt.com/usa/217495-sony-hack-fbi-north-korea

Oh, there's also a big story about a man from St. John, New Brunswick, who got named to the Order of Canada. But, if I recall correctly, they already ran that story several days ago.

There is no mention of the reports from the US government that the economy is recovering, and the unemployment rate is way down to something like 5%. Funny the Irving press hasn't run that story.  It usually likes to lie. 

Some 38 million Americans are living on food stamps - and not everybody , by a long shot, who is unemployed gets food stamps. It is not possible to have over ten percent of a population on food stamps when the unemployment rate is five percent.  As well, those who do find employment are getting paid less for it. (Unless their employment is as a CEO of an  oil company.) What really happens is that millions give up looking for jobs because there are none. Then, technically, they aren't employed any more because they've stopped looking.

The US and Canadian rich are seeing good times. But ordinary folks aren't, and won't.

Section B is just a sloppy and lazy news section when the major developments should be quite obvious. World Wars one and two destroyed the west European empires. The US, already with its own empire in Latin America and bits of the Pacific region, immediately took advantage of the fall of European power by trying to take over the old empires. That's what Vietnam was about. Ditto Iraq, Libya, Syria, Africa in general.

But the great setback was Mao's victory in China. That displaced Chiang Kai-Shek who had been the American puppet dictator (and mass-murderer) Much the same happened with Iran when it kicked out a British/American imposed dictator.

But the lust of American big business for empire (and control of world trade) persisted, producing "The New American Century" project of the 1990s to nail down world dominance. That's what George Bush jr. and his wars were about.

"The New American Century" still is the guide for American foreign policy. But now it's a race against time. The American economy is in bad shape. The national debt is unpayable. Ordinary Americans have not benefited from the American empire. (In fact, the ordinary people of Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands never got much out of their empires, either, as most of the gains went to the rich. It's an old story.) The result is that American society, itself, is becoming unravelled, and held together only by the lies and propaganda of the news media.

That means the US has to move quickly to destroy Russia - so it can isolate China until it is ready to attack it, too.

However, China and Russia (by no means natural friends) are coming together in their own economic and military union. They are also establishing themselves in the core of the American empire, Latin America - which has had quite enough of exploitation by American and Canadian business.

There is also unease in Europe that any attack on Russia would create enormous damage and suffering in Europe itself. They have tried since 1945 to ride on American coattails - but the price for the ride is beginning to look too high.  Recently, Hungary decided to move itself closer to Russia.

In short, American foreign policy, like American domestic policy, is based on the insatiable, even insane, greed of the very rich. So far, it has been possible for propaganda and fear, carried out by the news media, to keep ordinary Americans in line with the ambitions of the very rich - and even to share in the insanity of it. 
But that won't last much longer in a nation wracked by racial and economic divisions, and by a tradition of violence.

If the crazies are going to win, they have to move very, very quickly. And they still won't win because their own greed will destroy them just as it has destroyed so many others.

But you would never guess any of this from a reading of the Irving press.
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Oh my! It's late. It so late that this blog I began on December 29 is actually ending on Dec. 30. And I had planned a blog on the papers for both Dec. 29 and 30. But us old folks need our sleep. And this one is too long, already. I'll write another one tomorrow.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dec. 27: Reverend Harper leads in a Christmas prayer...

(foreign news at the bottom just below the line ###################################)

Sorry to be late with this one. I spent much of the day  at the worship services for Boxing Day at Walmart's cathedral.
.
Now back to Canada's spiritual leaders, Stephen Harper.

He asks us to pray for our military in Iraq. Now, I'm not big on praying for anybody or anything.  However, if one is going to be doing it, it should be done in accordance with one's religion. Pray for our side? Most religions, if they believe in prayer at all,  believe in loving  one's neighbour. So they don't just pray for one side because that's praying to help to kill people on the other side. They pray for both sides, and not for killing at all..

Both Christianity and Islam have become more than a little debased in that respect. Hitler's Chaplains led prayer - "for their side".  British churches led prayers for the men  who were killing, starving and exploiting people all over the world for the glory of the British Empire.

And for Harper, a man who lives only for his own power, and who advocates a system in which the economic leaders think only of themselves and how they can get more money - and they call it an economic philosophy - tt's obscene.  It almost makes me wish I could believe in hell for some people.

That's the only thing worth talking about in the Irving press for Dec. 24 and 26.

For example, the big story for Monday is that MP Robert Goguen said, in a vague sort of way, that the provincial Liberals should do more good things - though he was a little vague on what they were.

As I read about our local MP, I wonder. Why did the people of this province elect such a substanceless lower organism to parliament? He is a man of no accomplishment and, seemingly, of few if any principles. His only noticeable talent is smirking. So how come the Irving press never hired him as a columnist?
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In the absence of any news in the  Irving press, let's take a look at local news it didn't cover - and never will.

1. I checked my files. I did contact the provincial government a year or so ago about the soil contamination at Highfield Square. And the provincial government did confirm that it was contaminated and, by law,  that soil would have to be dug up.

So what happened? We're not touching the soil. In fact since that time two buildings on the property have been so extensively rebuilt they are really new construction. And not a teaspoon of soil was removed, And removal of soil is clearly not in the plan for the new "events" centre.

So - when did the government decide it was okay to build on contaminated soil? And who had the muscle to make the government change its mind?  .This one really stinks.

2. As I looked over the fracking report for New York state, I noticed that New York had to do relatively little research. It has all been done, some of it many years ago - and it came from excellent sources.. So why did Allward insist on starting from scratch? And why does Gallant give the impression he's starting from scratch (though even in his announcement it's clear he isn't going to do much research at all.)

The material is all there. It's been in the public domain for years. How come no columnist, editor or reporter at Irving press has even noticed that? After all, these reports  confirm that almost all they have written about fracking being safe is not true.  Has the Irving press lied? Or is it just incompetent?

It's so hard to tell which. This is such a flagrant abuse of a news medium's role that it should be publicly reported on by the Irving press ombudsperson. But, no, that won't happen.

For Dec. 27. the Irving press produces another big loser of a newspaper. In section A, the only items worth reading are Bill Beliveau's column and an op ed piece on prescription drug insurance  (though I disagree with both.)

Beliveau advocates a single, bilingual, heath care system. We have such a system with the Dumont hospital in Moncton, and I find it excellent for this anglophone. The chances of the Moncton hospital reaching such a level of bilingualism, though, are poor. The reality is that levels of bilingualism are very  high among Acadians, and low among anglos in the province. Staffing a system largely with New Brunswickers, then, would be quite a challenge. It would also encourage those paranoid anglos who write letters to the editor saying that Acadians have an unfair advanage in getting jobs.

As to medicinal drugs, I would agree to government operation of such an insurance system. But that would leave us with the fundamental problem that the prescription drug industry has a long history of excessive profiteering.

As for the NewsToday section, the first page of it has an uninteresting story about the origins of the New Brunswick flag, one about a St. John man being admitted to the Order of Canada, and one about rememberances in Asia of a great tsunami ten years ago. All of these fast-breaking stories are continued to fill p. 2, as well.

The Faith page seems permanently to have shrunk to one. The sermonette, as usual, takes a meaty topic (forgiveness) and chops it into hamburger. We live in a world in which we are urged to hate each other and to kill each other. Forgiveness, and the understanding it brings, would be a nice change of attitude. But leave it to the sermonette to reduce it to forgiving a restaurant waiter who gives poor service.

As often happens, the student columnists (C13) are the class acts of the Saturday paper. Aurelie Pare is excellent on the issue of school dress codes. And to Isabelle Agnew, don't worry about finding a major for your BA. It will find you.

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As soon as he heard that Sony had been hacked to get its film, "The Interview", and that a pro-North Korea terrorist group had vowed to bomb theatres that showed it, Obama publicly blamed North Korea for the attack. (He's in the habit of being quick to publicly lay blame when he doesn't yet have any information. That's what he did with the downed Malaysian airliner  in Ukraine.) The Canadian and American news media have called it a shocking and dangerous development.

For a more intelligent report, go to El Haaretz for Dec. 26 - an Israeli paper I have found to be reliable.
1. The hacking attack was not a big one. In fact, it was both small and amateurish. It succeeded only because the Sony site was poorly protected.  As well, the US and Israel have for  years mounted much bigger computer attacks on Iran. Check www.haaretz.com/news/world/premiere-1.633813

2. I see no reason to believe the attack came from North Korea. The only evidence for that is a message from some group claiming to be a North Korean terrorist group. We don't know where it came from, and we have no reason to believe they were either North Korean or terrorists. As well, even a North Korean dictator does things for a reason. And North Korea has nothing to gain from this.

Indeed, if I were the suspicious type, my guess would be it was all staged by Sony to save a very bad movie. And, frankly, I think that is the real story.

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For those who still think that believing in climate change is only for the simple-minded, it may come as a surprise that both the US and Britain have for some years commissioned studies on the military consequences of climate change. And since some of these studies have been available to the public for years, it is reasonable to assume that Russia and China have been carrying out their own studies.

It all makes for pretty chilling reading in a book by Gwynne Dyer who is the best military columnist I have ever read. (He was a regular feature as an op ed columnist in the Irving press. We haven't seen much of him recently - and a book like this might explain why we haven't. This is a man with an opinion that J.D.Irving would not find acceptable.) The book is Gwynne Dyer, Climate Wars.

In brief, the assumption of military and major government leaders is that climate change is on us - and is already evident in declining food production in much of the world. Even slight rises in temperature are already killing crops, just as shifting rain patterns and subsequent disappearance of water have done heavy damage through the grain belt of the U.S.

In addition, rising ocean levels have exposed huge areas to storm flooding and, soon, to permanent flooding. That particularly applies to the great river deltas like the Nile that have fed humanity for millenia. And to lowlands such as New York city.

The consequence of this will be hundreds of millions of people displaced, either to starve in the wilderness or to become a human flood to countries, like Canada, that can't feed them. It will lead to wars of survival. China, alone will have hundred of millions of displaced people to find a place for. The solution, already happening, is for China to renew its claim to Siberia and much of eastern Russia. And that will give us a war between two, nuclear powers.

Watch for a similar struggle, also between nuclear powers, between India and Pakistan.

Europe, already angry at its growing numbers of Africans and Muslims and already with a long history of murderous racism, will turn into a huge battleground. So will the US as it becomes not only a victim of climate change, itself,  but also a desperate refuge for the millions who will flee South America.

And the US will be eyeing Canada for the water it needs, particularly the Great Lakes on which a majority of Canadians depend. Would the US invade Canada? You bet. There are no such things as friends between nations.

In most countries, organized societies and government systems will simply collapse.

These aren't my conclusions or Dyer's. And they aren't the conclusions of some phony think tank that plugs itself into a university to give itself status. They're the conclusions of the world's top scientists and military planners.

This is all publicly available information. But somehow, it escaped the attention of all the editors and the obedient reporters for Irving press.

And when does the action start happening? Well, it already has. But it will start getting really bad about 2040. It's too late to just stop it. What's left is to slow it down - and to prepare for it.

What has been done to slow it down or to prepare for it? Virtually nothing. In Canada, absolutely nothing. And our fuel companies, bless their thieving hearts and rabbit-sized brains, plan to expand our fuel supply systems with more pipelines and shale gas, plans which imply many decades more of pumping out greenhouse gasses. . And perhaps to lie to us some more about how climate change isn't happening.

Of course they lie to us. Our fuel suppliers exist for no reason but to make money for themselves at whatever the cost in money and lives to the rest of us. And our newspapers print whatever their oil bosses tell them to print.

That's the trouble with an economic system based on the absence of any morals at all. For at least the last five centuries, us civilized humans have murdered and debased people by the billiion to satisfy the greed of our economic leaders who have, in their turn, acted with an utter lack of any morality.

Dyer's book is profoundly disturbing. And what's most disturbing is that it is all based on studies by people who actually know what they're talking about, and who are not acting as fronts for corporation bosses.

There is a need for morality here from journaliists. So far, most of what they have said has varied from ignorant and/or blind obedience; and some has been deliberately lied about. At some point, journalism has to develop morality. Perhaps the Faith Page would be a good place to start. Surely their must be clergy in this city who can write about more important moral issues than forgiving waiters.




Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dec. 23: Liar, liar, pants on fire....

Again, foreign news will be at the end of this blog -separated by #################

Now, go to google - "The Atlantic, The alarming research behind New York's fracking ban."  This was sent to me by a reader - and it's stunning. It's the report on WHY New York banned fracking. The Irving press has yet to tell us even that there is a fracking ban.

Remember all those columns by Norbert and Alec Bruce on how fracking is proven safe? You'll get the same message in the Dec. 22 issue of the Times and Transcript in a column written by the impartial CEO of Corridor Resources who wrote it all by himself (I'll bet.) He says it's perfectly harmless: and he just wants to bring prosperity to New Brunswick. God bless his little heart, no matter how little it may be.

Here are some of the outstanding features of the report.
1. Rate of respiratory problems high among those living within one kilometre of fracking sites.
2. There is a rise of levels of ethane and methane in drinking water.
3. Low level earthquakes. (It sounds reassuring when they say low level. But that means that the whole structure we live on is slowly crumbling as a result of fracking - and that could soon reach a high level, indeed.
4. Methane and nitrogen are released into the atmosphere in large quantities, accelerating climate change. In New York, for example, it is estimated that those two would soon account for almost a third of all the climate change gases in New York if it didn't ban fracking.
5. Soil is contaminated with radioactive waste.
6. Noise and odour pollution - which has been linked to a dramatic rise car and truck accidents in fracking regions.
7. Nausea, abdominal pain, nosebleeds, headaches become chronic.
8. Worse - it has a profound effect on babies in the womb, leading to dramatic increases in congenital heart defects and other organic failures.

And that doesn't even get to the problem that fracking will increase the time we spend using fossil fuels.

Norbert and Alex Bruce, you have both written at length that fracking has been proven safe, and both of you have accused anti-fracking people of being simple-minded and/or easily scared. Norbert, in particular, has blathered about how objective and wise the Irving press has been on this.

So - why didn't your objective and wise newspaper print the summary of this report? (In fact, I'm  not sure it ever even mentioned that there is a report in the first place.)

There are also other reports that haven't been mentioned in the Grimes and Dripdrain. For example, there are farmers who say the leasing that is paid to farmers for their land is often far, far below the promises. As well, they find their farms become unsaleable. (There is no rush to buy farms on fracked land.)

The Irving press has not told us the truth. That's putting it kindly. Since it hasn't mentioned the information above, even though it has been available in plenty of time, it has lied by omission. Sorry - you are either lying or far too stupid to be in the business of journalism.

The minimum that you owe readers is two, long columns, one on that New York report and the other an apology.

In contrast, the paper has offered lots of "news stories" and ads giving the shale gas side - and now even a column for the CEO of Corridor Resources to tell us how good he is to us. This goes far beyond bad journalism. This is collusion, and lying propaganda.
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Section A for Dec. 23 is its usual, trivial self. The banner headline is over a long story about Robert Goguen, our m.p., saying nothing whatever, These are the stories they bring Brent Mazerolle in for. But even he can't make Goguen sound intelligent.  Goguen tells us that violence in  Ottawa marred but did not defeat our democracy. (Quite true. How could it? Harper, with the help of Goguen's smirk, destroyed our democracy long ago.)  I can imagine no reason for printing this story at all. But there it is - the lead headline, the big story of the day.

The one story worth reading is on B3. In paragraphs 4 and 5 of the top story on that page, premier Gallant sets the terms for the study of whether to go ahead on fracking. It's a strange set of terms because most of it has nothing to do with studying the effects of fracking.  Instead, the focus is on setting regulations, a royalty structure, etc. This is not a study on the problems of fracking. The New York one was.  But Gallant's is a study on how to sell it to the suckers.

I'm quite sure that the "ire" of the frackers is just part of the game, so we all make believe that Gallant is looking at a banning when he's not doing that at all. He's looking at ways to do a selling job. The frackers are acting angry to make Gallant seem honest. And the Irving press is just lying.

Maybe Norbert for Dec. 23 is worth reading. He doesn't really say anything original. He just says it was disgusting how the Taliban killed 141 children at a school in Pakistan. Yes, it is disgusting, of course. But it's only disgusting, it seems, when the other side does it.

The Christian US has probably killed far, far more children in, say, Vietnam, Guatemala, Iraq than all the Moslems have killed. Even the Canadian army in Afghanistan must have killed a substantial number of children. It's not possible to fight that kind of war (or any kind, any more) without killing chldren and innocents in large numbers. The US has killed thousands with drones - and we aren't even told where they are or what they're doing.

In the same way, people who take up arms against our side after a century of our side destroying and looting their society - well, those people are extremists and terrorists. But when our side murders by the millions, well, we're never extremists or terrorists. Not even when our side tortures.

We're human. We can't help it. We can see the sins of everybody - everybody except us. I think that's what self-righteous means.
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Section A for Dec. 22 is mostly just for kitty box liner. Alec Bruce has a good column how how Veteran's Affairs in Ottawa has let veterans down. That's pretty chintzy for a prime minister who sent them off to risk their lives for no reason that we have ever been told.

Steve Malloy has a pretty decent column - though I have some differences with him.
1. We don't really know who hacked Sony Pictures. Obama immediately blamed North Vietnam; but we don't know that. It's equally possible that the hacker was a US intelligence group that was setting up a propaganda war against North Vietnam.

The US would never do such a thing? Puh-leeze. It hacks into computers all over the world, including those of its closest allies.

2. I agree that Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" is a magnificent film. But it's not true that this was a beautiful example of democracy and free speech in the US.
a) All American studios, right into the early 1940s, had a deal with Hitler not to make any films critical of him or of his treatment of Jews.  Germany was a major market for Hollywood. It didn't want to be banned. A large number of the studio owners were Jewish. And they signed the deal, too. Indeed, scripts were often submitted to Nazi authorities for approval.
b) It wasn't American freedom that allowed Chaplin to make that film. He paid one hell of a price for it. First, he had to finance the whole film by himself.  Secondly, the wealthy of the US never forgave him for that film. In fact, the later called him a "premature anti 'Nazi".

The American (and Canadian) very rich had a great admiration for Hitler. They saw him as the strongman who would block Soviet expansion.  That's one reason why American governments were quite willing to let Britain go down the drain in the early 1940s. In fact, the US never did declare war against Hitler. It was the other way around.

Once the war was over, the very rich in the US made life hell for Chaplin. And it was because of their anger at "The Great Dictator". That's why Chaplin fled to Switzerland in his later years.

The American film industry has never been a model of democracy in action. Films were, and are, commonly made as lying propaganda. An example of that is "Mission to Moscow" which was pro-Communist at a time when it was useful to be pro-Communist. However, it was withdrawn from the market at the end of the war. Only a few copies still exist.

Dec. 22 section B opens with a big story that Canadian editors have chosen two soldiers as newsmakers of the year. And that is just blind, brainless patriotism gone wild. The two soldiers and their families deserve remembrance and respect. There's no doubt about that. But they didn't do anything. One was shot in the back, and the other murdered by being hit with a car. They didn't do anything. They weren't consciously risking their lives. If those incidents were the news stories of the year, then the people who made that news were the killers.

I distrust that kind of brainlessness on the part of editors because it's so often a move to treat the choice as a reason to stir up fear and hatred.

Speaking of fear and hatred, B6 has a big story about dentistry students at Dalhousie University, where many of them were involved in Facebook posts that were, to say the least, sexist and threatening and advocating violence against women. And they actually named some women.

The posts are all that their enemies say they are -degrading, threatening, juvenile, distasteful, ignorant, hateful... And protesters want those students expelled.

But I'm not sure this lynch mob response is a good idea. It's been used for thousands of years without having much impact on human behaviour. And it's not clear to me how these students are going to be made better people by being expelled. My advice would be to cool it. Let the university come up with proposals to deal with these young men, and to prevent such dangerous spoiled brattishness in the future.

And make sure your news media follow the process closely and intelligently. Then decide on your reaction.
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It's tough to find foreign news in the New Brunswick papers. Most news is local, and isn't really news at all. So reading it is like staring at your own bellybutton for ten minutes. What foreign news there is comes heavily slanted because it all comes from  North American news sources - which must really be an international scandal for their bias and propaganda.

In reporting on the prisoner exchanges between the US and Cuba, for example, the ones being returned to Cuba are all described as spies (probably true) while the American returned to the US, Alan Gross is "...a government contract worker who had been held.......for importing restricted communications equipment."  Ah, poor sweetheart.

:government contract worker? I presume that means a US government contract worker. So tell us, how come this US government contract worker was doing his work in Cuba - a country the US had severed relations with? And why was it illegal to import communications equipment?

The reality is, of course, he had a US government contract to spread unrest in Cuba. That's what his communications equipment was for. He was a saboteur. But not in our news media.

The decline of the quality of journalism in North America has been a dreadful thing to watch.

Then there's the coverage of the UN Human Rights committee examination of the state of human rights in North Korea.  Western delegates dramatically said North Korea's denial of human rights and its war crimes are the worst the committee had ever considered. Of course they are.

That's because the committee never looked at the war crimes and denials of human rights by France, Britain and the US who have repeatedly committed very serious crimes by invading other countries which were no threat to them, by mass murder of civilians....

The committee was also alarmed at word that Korean prison camps have more than a hundred thousand prisoners. I guess they never heard that the US has more people in prison than any other country in the world - and the American prisons are among the worst in the world.

And I guess it's never heard of the US torture programme - or of the roles played in it by countries like Canada, Britain, Poland.....

North Korea certainly is a bad one that should be examined. But I could live without the representatives of countries like the US, Canada, Britain, France expressing their disgust at North Korea while ignoring their own actions.

As a result, they have effectively destroyed the UN as our only hope for world order.

My, it would be interesting to seem them looking at human rights abuses in places like Congo where western companies (helped by western politicians) have tortured, starved, and murdered tens of millions, reduced all the rest to abysmal poverty, put six year old children to work in western-owned mines for long hours at low, low pay..... the lucky ones die young.

One of the leaders in the world system of brutalizing mines is Canada -which is very active in Central America and Africa, especially Congo. Our mining stockholders make life degrading and hopeless - and blessedly short - for tens of millions of people. But I've never seen our private news media mention this. Of course not. The private news media are owned by much the same people who own the mining companies.

This is all mostly just general because the New Brunswick papers, never very big on foreign news, have been really weak on everything for the last couple of days.

By the way, I note we have a large number of readers from France. All Decaries (DeCaries/Decarys/ Descarries/etc. in North American are descended from Jean Decarie who came here about 1650.



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 ######################
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 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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Section B, NewsToday, is a dead loss.
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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.)
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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.
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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.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dec. 18: "As a father, your heart just breaks to hear this kind of thing"

On P. B4 of the Dec. 18 TandT, these are the worlds of Stephen Harper in reaction to a Taliban attack on a school in Pakistan that killed 131 children. He is quoted - "It's hard enough to understand the motives that underlie a terrorist attack. but even more so when the targets are innocent people.....in  the name of some political cause to  hurt, kill innocent people.....As a father, your heart just breaks when you hear this kind of thing."

Very moving words from a self-righteous liar.

The attack was certainly terrible. But all of us, including Harper, have been killing mostly innocent people and children by the tens of millions ever since 1914. What does he think the fire-bombing of Tokyo was about? the use of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Hagasaki? The demolition of whole cities in Cambodia? The carpet bombing of Vietnam with napalm that burned people alive, the use of agent Orange that still takes a heavy toll in that country? Did  you know that some 400,000 children were killed in Vietnam? Well over a million in Vietnam? Remember the 300,000 men, women and children murdered in cold blood by the CIA in Guatemala in the 70s?

Do you know, Stevie, what terrorism means? (ditto for all  you reporters and editors who rushed this story into print - but have yet to mention the recent attack by a US drone, also in Pakistan, on a school, leaving 60 children dead? Didn't your little heart break on that one?  Or is it terrorism only when the other side does it?)

Most of our news media didn't carry the story about the American drone. I got it from a British news source that is independent, and has a high reputation among good newspapers like The Guardian. It's called The Bureau of Investigation. It has won prestigious awards for its work. So I doubt whether Stephen Harper or the Irving press has ever heard of it.

The TandT carried two, big stories in two days on the Taliban killings. It has never mentioned the child killing carried out by our side. Nor has it ever used the world "terrorist" to describe the actions of a western country.

Yes, what the Taliban did was terrible. And it should be reported.  And what we have done for the last century is terrible. And it should be reported. But it isn't.  Instead we get maudlin drivel from Harper that his heart is broken - which it isn't. He scrapped his heart years ago.

In a related story - which the Irving press has missed - early polls show that a majority of Americans agree that torture is necessary and justified. (If you had taken that poll a couple of  years ago,I suspect a majority would have said it wasn't justified. But now that we know our side does it , it must be justified. Sieg Heil. Today, we are all, on both sides, disciples of Adolf Hitler.)

What we were promised in World War Two, and what we needed, was some form of world government. The UN was supposed to be that. But the major powers of the time didn't really want that. That's why they gave themselves the veto power to make sure it would never work.
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I couldn't find the big story that the state of New York has banned fracking despite claims that it has huge deposits of shale gas. But it has, indeed, banned fracking because there's too much evidence it's harmful, and too little that it's beneficial. The TandT, understandably, couldn't fit the story in because it needed the space for really big news. The Pizza Delight in Shediac is reopening after a closure caused by fire.
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There's also no mention of the news that that US has imposed sanctions to cripple the economy of Venezuela.  That country's sin? It has refused to elect an American puppet government. Instead, it has chosen  a government a bit to the left to deal with serious problems of poverty.

It's actually quite a big story because Venezuela is just one of the major countries in South America that have had a bellyful of American dominance and exploitation. There was a time when that whole continent was a part of the American empire. But no more. The American empire is in serious trouble in what was its most secure region. That's why it has been so busy down there is American special ops, killer squads, and agents to stir up  trouble.
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In a related story, Obama is making moves to mend relations with Cuba. And the North American press can't report even that without throwing in ignorance and propaganda. The Associated Press analysis (Dec. 18, p.3) says that Raul Castro has said Cuba is still committed to the communist ideals of the revolution. Than means, says the Associated Press that there will be no move to a free press or political democracy or capitalism.

I do wish the reporters would take the trouble to read the definition of the words capitalist and communist. The US is not capitalist in any true sense, and Cuba is not communist, whatever Castro might say. Nor does either system have any connection with democracy or a free press. The US does not have democracy or a free press now,  as both government and the press are owned by big business. But, then, it doesn't really have capitalism, either.

Alan Gross, the American who was freed from a Cuban prison as part of the deal , said it pained him to see how the Cuban government unjustly treated its people. He's being given quite the hero treatment in the American press, but.......
1. Gross was not arrested and jailed for jaywalking. He was in Cuba to set up a computer network that the US government could use to stir up unrest in the country. He was, in short, in a Cuba prison for much the same reason that released Cubans were in American prisons. They all deserved to be in prison.
2. He hated to see the people treated unjustly? Yes, among other things they must suffer from is getting free education all the way through university, and getting medicare from an excellent system. And if Gross gave a damn about how they were treated, then he might have said something about how they were treated when a US-appointed dictator ran Cuba. The people then lived in dreadful poverty, bled dry by American big business, and routinely tortured, raped, murdered by one the most brutal regimes ever known.  And the US gave the dictator medals for his good work.

And, oh, yes. There was no free press, no education, no medical care, no democracy. So how come Mr. Gross didn't feel bad for them then? And if he did feel bad for them, why was he working for the people who made it bad and wanted to make it worse?
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The Irving press always has a lot of human interest stories. You know the type, "Dying grandmother to get motorcyle for Christmas." We actually have quite an interesting story now about a New Brunswicker. Dr. Cleary, the chief medical officer of N.B., has thrown herself into the work of treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. The work is dangerous and demanding. And it calls for a high degree of sacrifice and courage to do it.  I should think a newspaper would give us regular reports on that.

But there's been hardly a word.

Now, suppose an Irving were doing that.... No, don't. There's not the slightest possibility an Irving would do that. No. Start over. Suppose a prominent Irving were to hold an expensive evening supper where his wife could wear her latest dress and guests could say how lovely she looked in it....and it was to raise money for a new hall of fame for Irvings.... Would the Irving press cover it?

You bet, like fleas on a dog. So why not more attention to a doctor who is showing courage and dedication to a degree we rarely see?  Well, that might have something to do with a report she made that was critical of fracking. That, too, might be why Norbert heaps endless praise on  the propagandists at The Canadian School of Public Administration and Public Policy, and why the boss is pleased with Norbert's choice of topics.
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There is still no news on Canada's role in CIA torture. And I guess there never will be.
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A reader sent me a couple of excellent readings.
                                                                          
One is on the wealth gap, and it's a shocker.  http://www.broadbentinstitute.ca/wealthgap

The other is self-explanatory.
 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2014/dec/03/want-a-green-energy-future-nationalize-canadas-oil-industry

  Forget the TandT line that civil servants can't manage this, only big businessmen can. That like saying only hogs know how to eat corn. In fact, the Canadian economy was tightly controlled by civil servants in World War 2 and for a short time after. And it's generally agreed this was a period of the best economic management in Canada's history.
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Interested in editorial and op ed pages? Then don't read the ones for Wednesday.

For Thursday, the editorial is on a topic the editorial writer is at least familiar with - bulk trash. Norbert is a waste of time. Alec Bruce is excellent on torture and, in this whole paper, he's been the only one to mention this huge story.

Rod Allen is boring and, to say the least,derivative. But it's still better than usual for him.

Beth Lyons has an interesting column on gender roles, and how they are reinforced at Christmas. But simply reversing the toys we give (like giving baby dolls to boys) isn't going to work. It might be a good project for a volunteer group to define those toys which should not be given at all, those that can usefully be given to either boys or girls. Then to look at those that might reasonably be gender-specific. I'm not sure we're ready for a whole population that is either cross-gendered or ungendered. This is a difficult question, and it really deserves a study group.                                                                                                                                          

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dec. 17: The Quiet Revolution of the western world.

This is not about the Irving press. And it is not about religion, though it may seem to be. It is about moral behaviour which, very often, has little to do with religion. Morality is about what keeps a society alive and workable. A lack of it demolishes a society into chaos, suffering, and extinction.

I confess that, as a child, I spent much of my time in church. I can't say I was all that religious. We had an old bible in the house but, except for a burst of enthusiasm when I was 15 or so, I rarely looked at it. But we, like millions of other Canadian families went to church every Sunday for both morning and evening services (my parents sang in the choir). And our social life -Wolf Cubs, Boy Scouts, a wrestling club, movies, stage events were all in the church basement. They had to be. Those years were hard times, and we couldn't afford anything else.  The leadership was all by volunteers; my father was a scoutmaster.

Girls had similar experiences in Girl Guides and Canadian Girls in Training (or, as we called them, Canadian Grandmothers in Trousers).

In later years, we had a little more money, and I joined something called Young People's Union, an almost purely social group in a downtown church that the rich still went to. (It's now a wing of the art museum in Montreal.  That's where I first met really rich girls, and where I learned to intensely dislike them.

I would later learn that my Jewish friends had almost identical experiences through the synagogues, usually under the sponsorship of B'Nai Brith. In short, us kids didn't go to the church for lessons in morality. But we were soaked in the atmosphere of it, anyway.

The first thing to disappear was the Sunday evening service. That happened in the 1940s as the only other source of free entertainment, the radio, made Sunday evening its prime time. Indeed, the Sunday evening shows like Amos 'n' Andy, Bob Hope, Jack Benny were so popular that some movie theatres interrupted the film to air those shows.

By the 1960s, television finished the job of destroying the Sunday evening service.

Social activities in church dwindled, too, as more money came around after the war. People could afford to go to commercial entertainment, even to go to restaurants and lay out a quarter for a hot dog as if it were nothing. Volunteer leaders disappeared, too, so they could watch TV or go to clubs.

The churches became largely irrelevant -and empty. Take a look at the grandest of the church buildings in Moncton. most of them are over a century old, or close to it. Yes, there are some nice, modern churches. But those very big and old ones were built when Moncton had a much smaller population. (And they were filled in those days.)

With the influence (or, perhaps atmosphere) of the church gone, people did not become immoral, just amoral- with no sense of what morality is or means. And so the world entered that moral vacuum we call "consumerism."

Enter Ayn Rand. An atheist, though born into a prosperous family, she was one of those who regarded being rich as her right, and had no interest in helping anyone who wasn't rich. Not surprisingly, she was not happy with the Russian revolution. In 1922, she fled to the US, making a living as a writer.

The novel that brought her fame was Atlas Shrugged, a novel that advocated what she called 'objective egoism' - that is, one should think only of oneself, that we have no obligations to each other. That was a new (and very brief) morality that came to be known as 'Randism'. The best economic system for this, she thought, would be laissez-faire capitalism - that is, wealthy individuals acting with complete freedom from any regulations or laws.

Overwhelmingly, philosophers and other scholars, even far, right-wing ones, were not impressed by Randism. Indeed, many intellectual leaders even of the far-right, like William Buckley, thought her arguments were full of holes.

But the leaders of big business ( who are wiser than philosophers and scholars) thought this was hot stuff, and they impressed it on the minds of fellow deep thinkers like Ronald Reagan and George Bush Jr. That has made it a powerful influence in  political thinking in the whole, western world.

Christian and Jewish morality had long ago become a vacuum. Now, here as a morality to fill the gap, a morality that really meant no morality at all. It required nothing from anybody, except personal greed. And it was beautifully adapted to a world of consumerism. Above all, it gave big business a moral reason to do whatever it wanted without the slightest consideration for the effect on others.

Mind you, even big business didn't completely agree with Rand. For example, Rand's morality defined evil as any violation of the rights of others, particularly if force is involved. In fact, through, so-called laissez-faire capitalism routinely relies on force to violate the rights of others. It does it with wars (which is why Rand opposed the Vietnam war), with secret police, with torture, with corruption and bribes of governments, with ownership of newspapers to spread their propaganda.....

Rand's ideas are the ideas of a girl born to rich parents. She was concerned only about herself, and had no sense of what is required for a society to survive. (I dated a few of the type). Her ideas are shallow, and full of obvious contradictions. But hers is now the almost official morality and almost the only morality of the western world. It's no coincidence that the rise of poverty around the world, the widening of wage gaps, the lowering of taxes for the rich.....are part of the age of Randism.

A moral code, whether religious or secular, is essential to the survival of a society. You can get by without one if you're a crocodile. But that's why there have been no great, crocodile civilizatons in history.

Randism is the justification of ignoring climate change, of murdering millions all over the world, of the rise of a wage gap so wide in the US that 46,000 million Americans depend on food stamps to stay alive. It's the justification for privatizing health care, and so making it impossible for most people to afford it.  It justifies the intrusion of private business in our education systems, all so they can be used to make the very rich richer. It has been the justification for free trade with special "rules" so big business can avoid the law and taxes  while putting all of us in danger. Randism is the political religion which has created immense poverty and hunger all over the world, including a western world which, not all that long ago, was posperous. It has placed us now on the edge of a nuclear war.  Randism is a guarantee of suicide for our civilization.

A society doesn't have to be religious. But no society survives without a moral code Randism is not a moral code. Not only is it a confused hash of ideas; it's shallow and it's ignorant of the social reasons to have a morality at all.

And it's the moral code of the Irving press.

When Rand died, her admirers put a farewell by her casket. It was six feet high - an arrangement of flowers in the shape of a $,

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dec. 15: You have to learn how to hate....

Harper has been the latest in a long line of Canadian prime ministers who have taught hatred. Recently, he's been big on denouncing communism - and pronouncing it "evil". That's surely an odd thing to do with a system that doesn't exist any more and, in fact, never existed. (Contrary to popular belief and to their own claims, Russia, China and Cuba have never been communist - just as Canada and the US have never really been capitalist.

As for the "evil" part, only humans can be evil. Evil is a spiritual condition. Trees, rocks, and mountains cannot be evil. Economic systems cannot be evil because it is people who operate the systems. They make it what it is. Capitalism, itself, is not evil. What's evil, is people who use such systems to exploit slave labour,  to loot other countries, to cut essential services for our own people, to buy politicians....

But to do that, they have to make the rest of us hate - and the most effective way to hate and to encourage us to support cruelties around the world is racism.

So what is racism? It's a belief that all the qualities we have are genetic; they're inherited and can't be changed. Skin colour, facial features are obvious examples. But racists take it beyond that. They include morality, judgement, violence,  criminality as characteristics of race. And we have used that thinking to enslave, murder,degrade hundreds billions for all of history.

It's been an attractive tactic to politicians as long as there have been politicians. Hitler is the obvious example. But he's by no means been the worst.  In fact, for the last several centuries, it's western, Christian countries (including Germany)  that have been the leaders in racist beliefs, in teaching hatreds based on these beliefs, and using these poisonous hatreds to justify slavery, exploitations, empires. (And Canada has been right up front of the mob - more on that later.)

The   cruelties, thefts, exploitation, looting and murder that we call the age of western imperialism were all justified by racism, a belief that the people being brutalized and murdered and robbed and enslaved and killed weren't real people like us. They were of inferior races. That's why the US could declare itself a nation of equality even as it kidnapped millions to be slaves to the white folks. That's why the US and Canada had a right, even a responsibility, to destroy native Canadian societies. That's what justified the deliberate death by starvation of so many of our  native people in the West.

Read Churchill's 4 volume "History of the English-speaking Peoples". It's basic theme is that white, English-speaking people are racially superior. Churchill was, all  his life, a thoroughly racist man. The United States was very much a creation of that sort of thinking. It still is. And so is Canada.

Read the writing of Canada's most Christian and compassionate thinkers in the early 1900s. For a typical one, try "Strangers Within Our Gates" by  Rev. J.S. Woodsworth. It's a hymn to racism and hatred. And the Canadian government had use for that hatred and racism.

People singled out as belonging to races that were inherently evil were put into concentration camps in World War I. There was no reason, except that they were racially inferior and evil. The camps were really slave labour camps to provide free labour for Canadian business. Those people were in the camps early in the war, and were held and used - especially for dangerous jobs - until two years AFTER the war. And the Canadian people, racist to the core,  applauded.

And who were these inherently evil and dangerous people? Well, the largest group, 9,000 of them, was made up of Ukrainians. You know, Ukrainians, the ones we are now defending from evil and racially inferior Russians.

Is Canada racist? It is - to this day - and racism becomes the justification for mass murder.

I spent so much time on this today because Harper has been beating the drum for racism lately.
What he has done, publicly, is to identify communism as evil. At the same time, he has linked the name of Putin to that evil. There are problems with that. Putin is not a communist. Russia is not communist. It's economy is thoroughly capitalist, and just as thoroughly corrupt and corrupting as the capitalism on our side.

So why does Harper want to build a hugely expensive monument to victims of communism when he could as well build one to the victims of capitalism and communism? He doing it this way because he wants to create a racist monument, to create a hatred that will justify killing.

(Actually, it's shallower than that. Being Harper, he doesn't much want to do anything except to create an image of himself as a bold warrior and a leader of the west. And this will cost you at least fifteen million dollars and the destruction of that section of Ottawa which is supposed to be reserved to reflect Canadian development.)
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There is really nothing in the Dec. 15 issue of the TandT. A big, Wow! front page story is about how some guy makes whiskey in Ontario. I needed to know that.

The editorial is incoherent until you  hit the second to last line. It's a pitch for shale gas. As usual, the editor uses the word bureaucrat in a disparaging way to refer to top civil servants. I have never seen this paper use a disparaging adjective for private businessmen.

Alec Bruce is good on the US Senate torture report. It's surely odd that this report has received so little attention in the Irving press. And the Canadian participation has not been mentioned at all. We played an active role to transporting prisoners to torture camps around the world. We received (and used) information obtained by  torture. It went to the RCMP and the intelligence services - and they knew how it was obtained. We also turned over prisoners to the US army, knowing that they were likely to be tortured. Canadian officials sat in on torture sessions. And it almost certainly went further than that. But our front page story is about how a guy in Ontario makes whiskey.
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In NewsToday. there's an important, if incomplete, story of how our northern Inuit are starving as a result of high unemployment, extremely high prices for food, and a decline in hunting due to climate change.  Not to worry. I'm sure Harper will do something - just as soon as he finishes his fifteen million dollar (plus) monument to the victims of communism.

On B4, the president of Afghanistan criticizes insurgents who are attacking his rule. Gee! Who would have guessed he would criticize them? On B5, the British government is going to ask the US to give it access to the Senate report on torture so it can see what part the British played in it. There is no mention that Harper hasn't made a similar request. Well, why should he? Muslims are evil and racially inferior to us White Christians and Jews. So  it's okay to torture them.

Also on B5, the UN climate talks in Peru achieved next to nothing. Of course. Get used to a reality. The oil industry is probably the most powerful and wealthy industry in the world. There is not the slightest possibility it will do anything that might endanger its profits. It won't allow renewable energy. Why should it? It makes its money out of creating greenhouse gases.  It will use bought politicians, bought news media and, through them,  violence and even world war to keep its profits coming in. There are no limits to its greed. That's a reality that we have to deal with.

It would make a good sermon for the next service at the Irving Chapel.
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For Dec. 16, section A is its usual, trivial self. A3, for example, has a photo of the CEO of  NB Power and a story in which he tells us how good NB power is. It's like reading a story about a proud mother talking about how wonderful her lazy and violent son is.

The editorial, as always, is about something local, very local. It's obvious that whoever writes those editorials knows nothing about any world more than a few blocks from the TandT offices.

Alec Bruce's column is a subtle pitch for the Events Centre, something the writers for the Irving press routinely support. Of course. An Irving wants it. "I wan' it, I wan' it, I wan' it."

Alan Cochrane completely misses the point with a column on how we should give to charities  not just at Christmas but all year round. 1. That's just not going to happen. 2. Any society that relies on charities to provide basic necessities is an irresponsible society - and an unChristian, unJudaic, and unMuslim one. If an Irving wants an events centre, we demand that our tax money be used to build one.  If an Irving wants our forests, we give them to him. But if someone is starving, we call  on volunteers, most of whom are, themselves, short of money. That's something that works one day a year, at best, because it relies on the poor helping the poor. It would be much  more effective for all of us to work together, starting with getting the rich to pay their share of taxes.

B4 has the story that Denmark has officially filed a claim on the North Pole - looking head to the development of oil reserves under it.

Not to worry. The US will never allow that. American oil companies will never permit it.They already refuse to recognize Cananda's claims to the north, and they're already advanced in planning for oil development up there. Canada is allowed to 'just pretend' that it has any Arctic claims, just so long as it doesn't in any way interfere with the plans of American oil and shipping companies - and certainly so long as it doesn't pass any of that artsy-fairy environmental stuff.

There is still remarkably little information about the drop in oil prices. I certainly don't know the whole story. But this is not simply a development of normal, market forces.

We know it started with Saudi Arabia flooding the market with a glut of oil. In other words, it's a deliberate deflation of the price of gas. But why?

One reason is that they're looking to kill the shale gas industry as a competitor. You'd think that a shale gas booster like the Irving Press would see that. The fact that they don't suggests there is also another reason - to wreck the Russian economy which depends on sales of expensive oil. That would explain why Putin recently signed huge gas deals with China, Turkey, and India. Not only will that provide Russia with sales; it also creates a massive counterpart to European Union, and offering Asia, especially, an alternative to US domination..