Saturday, January 3, 2015

Jan. 3: Pope Francis is an environmental-terrorist threat to New Brunswick

The Irving press seems to be ignoring the story; but the pope has announced at a recent environmental council that he is declaring climate change his issue of the year. Now, as we all know, there is no climate change. If there were, the oil barons would never soil their good names and lie about it just to make huge profits.

Maybe we should send a real expert to straighten out the Pope. Perhaps somebody from the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies - or maybe even Irving Columnist Norbert Cunningham.
____________________________________________________________________
The big, big story for Jan.2 is A3. Our Downtown Moncton Centreville Inc is optimistic about the future of our downtown.   Alas! Though the story takes up a half page, it never tells us why he's optimistic - or anything else.

But even at that, it's better that A5, a whole page of photos of people that few have ever heard of who attended a New Year's reception at city hall. The only one  I recognized was our member of parliament, "Smirky" Goguen, whose only political achievement so far is doing what he's told to do, and getting his picture taken.

The editorial is about a news story that the paper had a few days ago. A South Korean family which has been in Moncton for almost fifteen years was ordered deported from Canada because -----they were terrorists? no. Because one of their sons has epilepsy, and the immigration department thought that might be a terrible strain on our health system.

Now, that's a story that has three times appeared - and now four times because as well as being in the editorial, it also appears this day in an op ed column. And all four are the same story - mostly a tribute to the spirit of Moncton.
1. We don't need the same story four times.
2. The spirit of Moncton is NOT what this is all about. The real story is why immigration Canada is getting so tough on immigrants.

No government has ever been so negative about immigration as the Harper government. In some countries we even  put up signs telling people not to apply to come to Canada. Romas are absolutely forbidden. Our record in helping Syrian refugees is among the worst in the developed world. Applicants are commonly jailed for months or longer to wait for their appeals to be heard. These are the same, overcrowded and violent jails in which we keep murderers and rapists. This the real story which most of our news media have ignored.

Here's why.

Harper cannot get a majority vote for the Conservatives. But he can get a majority of mps by targeting key ridings where certain blocs can swing the vote for him.

That's why he kisses up to Israel. It gets him the Canadian Jewish vote. It's not big. But it's concentrated in certain ridings. That's why he talks big about Ukraine. That's why, when he met Putin, he said, "It's time for you to get out of Ukraine." (What an absurd picture that makes - the leader of a small country with a small military and outdated equipment saying to the leader of a big country, "Hey, you wanna punch inna mout'?")

But it gets him the Canadian Ukrainian vote which, in Canada, is far right wing and concentrated in certain ridings.

And he gets tough on all immigrants because there are large blocs of Canadians, very large blocs, who are bigots and racists. And he wants them to vote Harper.

Alec Bruce is back to skating a very fine line on fracking. This one piddles around the term "social licence", a term Gallant has used to define what frackers need to gain in order to carry on their drilling.

In practical terms, all the term means is general acceptance. So if frackers get majority approval, they have social licence to operate.  Bruce spends so much time analyzing this simple idea (even quoting, God help us, the authority of a far, right wing propaganda think tank, The Fraser Institute) that he makes it incomprehensible.

The tone of the article seems to suggest he supports shale gas, but doesn't really want to say so out loud.

Actually, I'm not a big admirer of social license. Hitler had social licence to murder Jews. The German people supported him. That's social licence. (At the same time, Ukrainians gave social licence to kill Jews. So, for that matter, did big money in Canada and the US.)

In this case, social licence for fracking means putting our climate and putting lives all over the world at severe risk to make a handful of very rich people even richer. We, even if a majority, have no right to issue such a licence. And I find it profoundly disturbing that premier Gallant can even suggest such a thing.

There are times, Mr. Gallant, when decisions have to be made on principles, not on word games. And I very much expect that you are playing word games.  The oil industry is quite happy to play games. With the price of gas so low, there's no point in rushing the development of shale gas. So we play the game of having a moratorium, and then coming up with a social licence. The players are the oil industry, the Irving press, and the politicians - and we are the ball they kick around the field.
##########################################################################

In what the Irving press refers to (humorously, I hope) as NewsToday, there are, for a change, three items worth looking at.

One is that Jeb Bush is clearly making his move to run for U.S. president. This is the third member of the family that has, in very recent years, controlled the White House. (Though, admittedly, George Bush Jr. was there only as the village idiot to take orders from Dick Cheney.)

Just think. In a nation of hundreds of millions, just one family could produce three presidents in a row. What a coincidence!

No. I don't think it is a coincidence.  What we are watching has happened many times before in history. An old system of government is dying; and rule is passing into the hands of an aristocracy of wealth and inheritance. It's also a very, very warlike aristocracy. And cheering for Hilary Clinton is foolish because she represents the same forces.

On the same page is a story critical of Israel.  A former member of the government says that the money Netanyahu has been spending on "settlements" on seized territory has been largely for corruption. (There's also a case to made explaining Israel's behaviour, a case that makes it understandable if not commendable.  I might try that tomorrow.)

There's also a headline on another story, "Canadian military bombs militants in Iraq".  Think about it.

If words mean anything at all, surely the Canadian army is made up of militants. So isn't that headline saying Canadian militants bomb militants in Iraq? Are  militants from Iraq different?

In the same way, aircraft have been used for terror bombing since Italy hired a few American mercenaries to bomb Ethiopian villages about 1912. All sides in World War Two practiced terror bombing. And the western world, in particular, has used it heavily since World War Two, using cluster bombs, napalm and agent orange which have - deliberately - killed far more civilians than soldiers. But I have never seen it referred to as terror bombing unless the other side does it.

It's the same with militants. Our side are never called militants. Only the other side is. The CIA led in the deliberate slaughter of almost 300,000 Guatemalans, all of them helpless civilians. But the word terrorist or militant was never applied to that. In Korea, an American officer led his soldiers to massacre a whole village of 800 or so, right down to babies. But he was never referred to as a militant or a terrorist. (In fairness, though, he was punished severely, and had to spend a whole night in jail.)

Words like militant and terrorist are deliberately used by our news media to paint the "other side" as evil, and so to take advantage of our natural bigotry and racism.
__________________________________________________________________________

And I haven't even touched today's (Jan 3) paper or my long list of notes. But this is already a bit long. So I'll do the rest for tomorrow.




10 comments:

  1. It never occurred to me that one might interpret Social License as something that would be used by industry to justify it's development plans. The Social License to Operate that is sweeping through communities all over the world is that a community has the right to accept or reject a corporate project or it's ongoing presence in an area. It is usually recognized as a prerequisite to development.

    When the Premier includes Social License as one of his five conditions, he envisions this as a very real threat to future fossil fuel development in the province, which would lead to an extended moratorium or a ban.

    Social License on the part of the public requires future government policies that put human health and well being and environmental protection before corporate gains. It also rejects antisocial practices like unfair wages, child labor and gender discrimination. But with climate change such a very real threat at the moment, Social License to Operate is most often directed towards the oil and gas industry.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Social license is one of those terms that are used so vaguely that you never know what the speaker means by them.

    I don't know what Gallant means by it. Does me mean unanimous public consent? or majority? And, if the latter, what is an adequate majority?

    Or does it mean the government has a right to decide whether actions that actions that it is convinced are threatening the society can be stopped by the government on its own decision?

    There's a big difference between those possibilities. And I have seen no sign that Gallant has given much thought to what it means. If he had, he surely would have told us exactly what he meant.
    I don't trust Gallant at all on this one.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You're making my head spin. No. Social License is the only thing that will, ultimately, allow ordinary citizens take a stand on concepts like the Precautionary Principle. Shale gas is wrong on every level and when that is the case there has to be some mechanism by which we can prevent it from gaining access to our cities, towns and rural communities.

    It doesn't have anything to do with percentages, majorities or referendums. Again I hearken back to N.Y., there was nothing like a majority fighting against shale gas, but the government eventually realized that with all we now know about the technology plus climate change there was no other option, it had to go.

    Social License will do the same thing here, no doubt about it, the question is will the government do the right thing?

    I am very skeptical too and the government can whitewash studies, fool itself about revenue streams and find benighted communities to take wastewater,
    the public,however, can continue to say NO to shale gas.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree with you except--I don't' like the talk about social licence. I don't like it because nobody knows exactly what it means. I don't like it because there are decisions a government must take based on principles - and principles can only be smothered by social licence.

    If i were in government, I would not give the courts social licence to execute because by principle I am opposed to murder no matter who is doing the murdering.

    Government is the body we elect to do the research and to make decisions based on thorough research - and on moral principles.

    The label "social licence" just gives government something to hide behind while ignoring and even betraying its declared principles.

    It's going to be hard to work on public opinion because we have a press owned by the same sort of people who financed years of climate change denial so they could protect their profits - and do it without regard for human life.

    The public has to be encouraged to say no. And it's not easy here because New Brunswick is not a province with much of a history of government based on principle or ethics - and New Brunswick voters are remarkably timid about their democratic rights.

    But that's the route we have to go. Terms like "social licence" of any sort are used just to mislead the public. No government of any integrity or ethical values would permit social licence for acts that are morally wrong. But I am quite sure a Liberal or a Conservative government in New Brunswick would use "social licence" to cover its own lack of ethics and principle.

    You're quite right. It has nothing to do with percentages or quorums, etc. What's wrong is wrong, no matter how many vote for it. The public has to continue to say no - and much of it has to learn to get off its collective rear end to let the government know that.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sorry, I don't want to belabor the issue, but I think we are still at cross purposes. Social License, as I understand it, is something that can only be used by citizens to protect ourselves from government and industry that are conspiring to support one another for financial gain. The Social License that is being used in this way will allow us to fight back in some way. I don't understand your connecting S.L. with government, It is associated with the public, is it not?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I understand your frustration. The reality is that a speaker uses "social license" to mean whatever he or she chooses it to mean.

    Hitler chose it to mean most Germans gave him a social licence to murder Jews. I see no possible merit in that meaning - though it is based on majority support.

    I don't trust a government that uses the term social license, especially when the premier doesn't say exactly what he means by social license. Does he mean majority support? Does he mean when fracking is clearly proved to be harmless? Mostly proved? Enough proved?

    I suppose it could be used to mean "with majority support". But I would ordinarily not use it that way. How can public support be used as a justification when the public is constantly lied to - and has no easily available sources of information? One might as well have a vote of buzzards to decide whether it's okay to eat dead people.

    No. i think this government has to be convinced that it will pay one hell of a price if it allows fracking to go ahead. And when I say one hell of a price, I don't mean voting for the Conservatives next time.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Graeme : We should remember that Harper has been closing scientific research wholesale. If government is our source of such knowledge, it is definitely being smothered. I seem to recall Moncton having had natural gas supplies for about 60 years after the founding of the city, an excellent resource incentive for development which ran out.
    And I am troubled both by the suppression of the basis of claims by farmers against frackkers as part of their settlements ( but stories of negative health effects are legion )...and this becoming worse as modern practice becomes more pervasive practice both in frequency and in damage per drilling site.
    It was not an easy find, but there is even online representation that '
    natural' gas is in fact bad for one's health - something easy for me to believe after loss of a friend who developed multiple chemical sensitivities and died of liver damage after working - as a janitor - at a natural gas cracking plant.
    texassharon has been cataloging anti frack information for years.
    So I am no friend of frackking and its attack on water resources...even though the idea that man's energy use constitutes a threat to climate makes me snort in derision. If you cannot see any connection between the UN making up this story as a policy statement for governments and its representations that it must administer a global tax on energy use, just keep on believing that it is the 'polluters' who are the greatest threat ( and I am not unaware of Big Oil's depredations in the Ecuadorian jungle or in Nigeria )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The depredations of big oil cover the whole earth. It affects all forms of life, including plants. And the changes are measurable (and measured) in things like declining food production. We see it most obviously in the disappearance of Arctic ice. That, alone, adds huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere, speeding up the whole process.

      Delete
  8. Hi Graeme, just one more thought and I won't bother you again about this. When demonstrators in Burnaby tried to prevent Kinder Morgan pipeline workers from getting on their sight, it was because the protesters felt that those living in the area had not given K.M. Social License to proceed with the pipeline because of it's dangerous path.

    When demonstrators near Rexton protested seismic testing by SWN (knowing it would segue into fracking) it was because they felt that SWN had not been granted Social License by local residents to proceed with fracking related exploration.

    There are some industrial technologies that are so inherently harmful that they will never be able to brook the disapproval of a community that feels threatened by their activities.

    At this point using S.L. to protect ourselves from what is clearly harmful is a first step on the road to recovering our democratic rights.

    Thanks for your patience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't apologize. You don't bother me at all, and I like to see responses.

      On S.L., this is not simply a matter of recovering our democratic rights. Hitler got to power democratically. He immediately ended elections - though the truth, almost certainly - is that he would still have won any election - and he most certainly had public approval for his actions.

      It's not just a matter of democracy. It's a matter of principle.When Bush illegally invaded Afghanistan, he won the approval of the American people in the next election. But that war was still wrong.

      A majority vote does not necessarily make an act right or wrong. There has to be some sense of principle in a final decision.

      If the whole population of New Brunswick (except me) gave social licence to fracking, I would still oppose it.

      As well, Social Licence has such a vague meaning that politicians (supported by lying and propagandizing news media) can make it mean anything they like. SL with the backing of big money and its news media can be a powerful tool to use against those of us who oppose fracking. I think it's dangerous to go that route.

      Delete