Thursday, January 15, 2015

Jan. 16: ...And even the Irving press did good.....

First, you must read

 www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/01/quran-charlie-hebdo-radicalism-p-20151881632716947-html

This is far the most intelligent commentary I have found on the Paris shootings. The writer sees the shootings not as a result of the teaching of Muhammed, but as a result of the collapse of Muslim society - and the resulting distortion of what Muhammed taught.

I think he's right. Worse, I think one could made exactly the same case about the collapse of the Christian faith caused by a social crisis in the Western world. The Paris shootings, ISIL, all the rest,  have arisen from the collapse of Muslim values and a collapse of the Islamic world due to the tremendous impact of western intrusions of the past two centuries. One of the results of that is the rise of an extremism which, quite wrongly, thinks that this extremism is whatIslam was all about. That simply is not true.

The same thing has happened, I think, in the western world. Christian values have collapsed as a result of the rise of a form of capitalism that is profoundly anti-Christian - indeed, anti any religion I have ever heard of. (Go reflect on that next time you're sitting in the Irving chapel.) As a result, the healthiest Christian churches are the ones that now preach a Christian extremism which has no resemblance to what Jesus taught.

This really is an excellent and thought-provoking article.
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Coming up, I have lots of kind words for the Moncton Times and Transcript. But first, let me talk about the front page headline "Cost of school busing rising: report". (Busing is the TandT spelling which, I guess, would be pronounced byousing. And,, to be fair, it cuts down on wasteful use of esses.

This is a report from the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies. Most of it is a solid report. I know one of the authors, Paul Bennet, from his Montreal days when he was principal of a private school - a very expensive one for the 'right' sort of people. I remember him as being highly intelligent, a most capable school administrator, and a thoroughly decent person. And that's why I'm floundering now as I try to comment on this story.

The Atlantice Institute is not intelligent or capable or even a little bit decent. It is a 'think tank' formed by Irving and buddies to crank out their propaganda and their lies. I have no respect for the many people I have met who work for outfits like that. I was once, long ago, approached by a lawyer from a similar outfit that pimped for the oil industry in Alberta. I refused.

Now, this is mostly a good report, a sensible one,  and I know that Paul Bennett would never sell out.  Occasionally, AIMS will do an honest report to maintain some credibility. And this, I guess, will be the honest one for 2015. But, oh, I wish Paul had not lent his name to these vile people.

The report is well covered in the paper, and I have no problem agreeing with most of it. Our school bus system is wildly expensive (and not made cheaper by moving Moncton High out to the boondocks.) I strongly disagree with only one suggestion in it - that bussing be handled by private contractors. That's a typical Irving move - to think only of another way of getting more of our money. There is no reason why private contractors would be cheaper -and they almost certainly would not be.

The best part of it is to use our existing public transit system. Daily, I watch empty busses rolling through our streets. Why not allow students to use public transit by issuing subsidized passes? I went through high school using public transit every day. At that time, I don't think there was a school bus in the whole of  Montreal. And it worked fine.

Of course, there is a problem. Public transit works best for cities designed for mass transit. Moncton isn't. Most of the city looks as if it was built in the 1950s, the period when the automobile really came into favour. Those sprawling areas work great if you have a car, but are ghastly both physically and aesthetically to walk though.  (In elementary school, I walked to elementary school in about 40 minutes through a slum area that bordered the city dump.  And it was far more interesting that walking through Moncton's west end.)
Mass transit works best where there are masses of people. Solving that might require considerable re-routing of busses.
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The rest of the news part of Section A is it's usual, trivial self. But...wow- the editorial page and op ed ---
Well, okay. The editorial has nothing to say - but...

Alec Bruce, Norbert Cunningham. Rod Allen and Beth Lyons are superb. The first three present intelligent opinions that challenge all the hype and hysteria we've been hearing about free speech. Beth Lyons gives us a blunt and tough-minded column about the utter failure of our governments to be helpful - or even human - in their treatment of native peoples.

With the exception of the editorial, these pages are a class act - and they would be a class act in any newspaper.
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In NewsToday, B1 there's a report that a Spanish company wants to build a liquified natural gas export terminal at St. John. The intend to spend many billions of dollars on it. Now, think about it.

If a company spends many billions of dollars on a terminal, it obviously expects that terminal to be in operation for many years. That means a substantial increase in Canadian natural gas production for many years And it means burning the stuff for many years to come. It will be burned in another country. But that doesn't matter. The atmosphere doesn't care where we burn the stuff. It all has the same effect on climate change, and on us.

Where are the plans for what is now an emergency of global warming? How are we going to deal with it? How are we going to survive it?

The story tells us, if we look closely enough, that the oil industry and our governments don't give a damn. There is no plan. There is no future. There is only now.

On B3, Stephen Harper, the defender of free speech when it's used to anger Muslims, plans to pass new laws to restrict that speech which encourages or glorifies terrorism. Sounds good? Think hard. What Harper is saying is that you can say whatever you like - so long as Harper agrees with it. That sort of thing has been happening in Britain and the US for decades. And, of course, we have gestapo checking what we write and say. Free speech never really existed. Now it's corpse is being embalmed. Get used to it.

Also on B3 is an excellent story on the mess that the federal government has made of supplying and defining a role for our military. In all Harper's years in power, we haven't gained an inch even in replacing our aging fighter aircraft. Of course, it's hard to know what to buy when we haven't any idea what our military should be used for. Harper drastically cut spending so he can look as though he's saving money. We now have a military that is not prepared to fight anybody anywhere. But we have committed ourselves to blossoming wars in Iraq and Ukraine. And Harper has vowed to support Israel whatever it does.

In short, we are likely to kill large numbers of our own military by sending them into wars we are not prepared to fight. Then, next Nov. 11, we will hear babble about how noble these innocents were to risk their lives. And, if Harper is still prime minister, we will watch Harper again tell the veterans to go whistle for all their promised aid and benefits.

On p.4, , France, the country that just adores free speech, is passing laws to ban hate speech, anti-semitism, and glorifying terrorism. In other words, the French will be free to say whatever the government wants them to say. It all sounds reasonable. But I'll bet criticism of Islam will not count as hate speech. And I'll bet that movies about French troops being glorified for their terrorism in Indo-China and Algeria, for example, will not be banned.  Canada has anti-hate laws, too. But we are still encouraged to hate people the government wants us to hate.


By the way, I wish our news media would stop referring to criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism.

For a start, most of the Jews in Israel are not Semites. They are Ashkenaze Jews from Europe. Yes, some of those Ashkinazes have some genes that connect them with Ancient Israel. But we all have some genes that connect us with people all over the world. White people were not magically created by God as a separate group. We are all of us descended of----well, something human. But I do not know of  any evidence that God created whites, and then blacks, and then orientals, and then New Brunswickers.

Most of the Jews of Israel are of European descent, people who converted to Judaism in Europe. Hitler's racist theories were crackpot and disgusting. It's just as disgusting when we think in that same way.

Semite actually refers to a group of languages of the middle east.  Some Jews are Semites. They are the ones who, mostly, stayed in the middle east. They are called Sephardic Jews ( and they often don't care for the Ashkenazes of Europe.)

The people that we call arabs are also Semites. For example, Palestinians are Semites. So, if you criticize arabs, I could accuse you of being anti-Semitic. And I could certainly accuse the majority of Israelis of being anti-Semitic.

Words do not exist simply to make people hate or kill or fear. Words have meanings. And millions have suffered and died because we use words so thoughtlessly.
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Oh, my. It's late.

Congratulations again to Alec Bruce, Norbert Cunningham, Rod Allen and Beth Lyons for such thoroughly professional work.

Goodnight. Wake me in Spring.


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