Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Feb. 25: The song is over - but the melody lingers on.....

The TandT has yet another headline story - a long one - about Larry's Gulch just packed with information we already had. Well, we know one more bit.  Al Hogan was there for three days. Gee. And nobody at the office even knew about it. Nobody said,  "Where's Al?" And so it goes, getting more unbelievable each day.

Hogan's misbehaviour had to do with journalistic ethics. And those are certainly important - though I've never seen much evidence of ethics in the Irving press.  Yes, ethics are important; but they're not the whole story.

Certainly, Hogan should not have attended a three day party and business discussion as a guest of the CEO of the Liquor Commission. But the even bigger question is why did the CEO of the Liquor commission invite those people? We also know there were meetings and discussions in which Irving press people took part.

What were those discussions about?  Why were senior people from Irving press invited to attend? Why were other News media NOT invited (CBC, CTV, for example)?

And exactly who paid the tab? If it came from the pocket of the CEO of NB Liquor, he must have deep pockets, indeed. If it was paid by NB Liquor, then it was damned unethical - and a direct theft from taxpayers.

As to the invitations to senior journalists and Alward, why? That smells of corruption and collusion.

These are the real questions we need answers to. I don't really care about the journalism ethics aspect because the Irving press was created to be unethical. And this foofaraw will change nothing about that.

Why were those people invited? What was the discussion about? That's what we need to know. And that's what we are not likely to find out.
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The editorial and op ed pages don't discuss this - or much of anything else.

The editorial writer,who obviously knows nothing about education, advises handling the decline of NB universities using the usual, business model. If it ain't making money, close it.  That won't work.

New Brunswick is already an intellectual outhouse. We badly need to educate more people, not fewer. We need universities to be more available to the public, not less. Every country that looks to be a winner over the next century in investing in universities, not closing them.

And, above all, universities need to learn that they are not just research places, but educational places -  that really should learn something about how to teach.

Above all, the editors and every else in our shamble or a press should learn that not all problems are solved by cutting budgets. And when they learn that, they might give some thought to making it possible for more people to go to university. There are, there really are some things in government that are about people, not simply about money.
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Norbert is back to pimping for shale gas. (Sorry. I mean he is honoring the Irving press promise to keep us informed on shale gas) He ends with a stirring "Great leaders and governments lead..." Well, yes. So do bad ones. Check out Hitler and Stalin. In any case, I can count the number of great leaders and great governments in the history of New Brunswick.  On one finger.

There's also a letter to the editor from a person who sounds like a potential editorial writer. He thinks the way to balance the budget is by cutting the money we spend on "Fat City" - the government. Yep, that's where all our money goes - not to corporations that bleed us dry or to billionaires whose incomes have doubled in the recession, and who pay very little tax.

Eric Lewis has a decent if not exciting column on Pink Shirt Day (a student protest day against bullying.) But why on earth is it illustrated by a large photo of a school rally at which only a small minority appear to be wearing pink shirts?

Brian Cormier has his usual "what I did last summer" essay, this time about cooking supper.

It's not a strong pair of pages. And Alec Bruce doesn't help. Like Norbert, he pimps for shale gas. Among other things, he says Alward bungled it by killing any chance of informed debate. Alec, you can say that with a straight face? You and you newspaper have been up to your ears is spreading so much propaganda and withholding information, that you made the word 'informed' into a joke. Worse. You write "Those who opposed fracking relied on internet research (some compellingly good, some stunningly bad) to reinforce their intractability."

Now, drink that one in. Those opposed relied on internet research. Well, yes, of course. There wasn't a whole lot to be found in the pages of your newspaper, including your columns.

Some research was good and some was bad? That's true of all research. Anyway, how come you didn't give an example of good research? And for that matter, what qualifications do you have to decide which research is good?

And then, an unethical use of loaded language. the anti shale gassers do all the above, you say, "to...reinforce their intractability." In other words, anti-shale gas people are (genetically,  I presume) pig headed and/or lying.

The other side is much nicer. The believe "... it could be safe as long as regulations in this province were tough, remained bewildered by the violence.... Oh, that sounds so much better. They believe it could be safe if....  Well, that's one of the problems, isn't it? We don't have much reason to trust any government (or newspaper) in this province if it does say the rules are the toughest in human history. And, oh, the poor dears on shale gas side are not intractable, but they are confused - as any good people would be - by the violence.

And, oh, yes. The public debt...he writes that .only the private sector can cure the debt problem ...Alec, you have to know that isn't true. In fact, the private sector with its heavy demands for favours and its avoidance of paying taxes is the major reason we have a debt. That's why private wealth has grown so much in this recession.

Alec's statement is worse than being biased economics. It also encourages making the poor pay to  suffer more from what the rich have done in making themselves richer.

This column is actually worse than Norbert's.  No mean feat.
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One of the big stories in Canada&World is that JDIrving  has applied to take part in pipeline talks for New Brunswick. The reason given is that they want to protect the forests. Yeah. That makes sense. They've always been big on preserving forests. Maybe we should open a new hall of fame for preserving forests.

One important story is both short and buried at the bottom of B4. Remember those soldiers we sent to Afghanistan? Of those who came back, National Defence expects to dismiss some 70%  from the services. That means something over 20,000 to be dumped. The reason? Mental illness. 20,000 lives are being  destroyed, cut off very early in their earning years. And God help them if they're depending on Harper for help.

This story should be read by every one of those yahoos who call themselves patriots, and who demand we take part in more wars.

20,000. And nobody has yet told us what that war is about.

For the rest, there's a sad story about an aid worker who was murdered, about kidnappings, about Ukraine claiming that the rebels have not pulled weapons back. The Ukraine story, based on the record, is quite possibly a lie. The other stories are certainly sad and disturbing. But they don't give us a clue why all this is happening.

Here's a very short explanation.
1. US capitalists want to control all world trade. The next country they have to control is Russia. That's what Ukraine is about. That's also why our gas prices dropped. Saudi Arabia overproduced, deliberately, to lower the price of oil That purpose was to do severe damage to the Russian economy which depends on oil sales, and to force Russia to accept US dominance. Once that's done, the price will shoot up again.

2. US capitalists also want control of all middle east oil. That's what the invasion of  Iraq was about - and the attack on Libya. Both countries are a mess now. But it doesn't matter. US capitalists have the oil.

3. Africa, the Middle East and the European Union are getting very concerned about the ambitions of American capitalists. That's why Germany and France intervened to insist on peace talks in Ukraine. In fact,the whole European Union is worried about the intentions of American capitalists, and the risk of nuclear war. Watch for the possibility of Greece getting out of the European Union because American and European bankers are imposing deadly conditions on it.

In the case of the Middle East and Africa, the US is playing the very old game of getting the people there to kill each other. That's why the US supports the rebels in Syria (many of whom later became Al Quaeda and then IS). Almost all such groups that are spreading havoc have enjoyed American funding - as well as some from American allies. That includes IS.

4. Russian capitalists are never called that. They're called oligarchs in our press because it sounds uglier. And they are an ugly bunch. But they're exactly the same as our capitalists. Putin has been much tougher than expected. (In fact, we tend to underestimate the Russians in general. Perhaps the greatest surprise of the second world war was the fighting determination of the Russians who were by far the greatest factor in defeating Hitler, and who accepted monstrous casualties. I've never seen an explanation for that.)

In any case, Russia has responded to US moves by building relations with other countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. That's why the US wants to overthrow Assad in Syria, and that's what the US- Iran talks are really about. That's why the US tried just recently  to overthrow the government of Venezuela. Putin is getting a welcome in many countries - because the alternative is domination by American oligarchs (sorry. capitalists.)

That's why Russia and China (who have no reason to love each other) have formed an alliance.

5. All over the world, centres of power are moving.  And there's the pressure of time. American capitalists have to control the world before countries like China and India become too wealthy and well-armed. (India, I think, has capitalists. China has oligarchs. I think I taught one of them.)

6. Then there's a real kicker. Many, many countries are unstable, largely as a reaction to the dominance of the very wealthy. That includes much of Africa, South America, countries like France and Germany in Europe, and it includes the US. In the latter case, we've seen the full collapse of democracy with any belief in it so low that a majority of Americans don't even vote. And that is made even more unstable by the levels of poverty forced on the American people.  And then there's the flint stone of American violence, the profound racism of the United States.

And that's, roughly, what's going on.

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