Thursday, February 26, 2015

Feb. 26: playing an old game....

The TandT has yet another Front page, banner headline story that tells us nothing significant about the Larry's Gulch affair. Sometimes, that's the only way to kill a story you don't want to get out. Now, there will be a deep study - some day - of  who erased the names on a guest list for what seems to  have been a business meeting at Larry's Gulch.

The real questions are - what was that meeting about? And why were two very senior journalists there and taking part in the meeting? And how often has this sort of thing happened? But, as I feared from the start, we are going to spin our wheels on lesser questions until the whole story just dies.

Then there's the usual courthouse reports - and almost a half page story (with photo) of a bobcat who was hurt and is getting better.
Norbert is, well, Norbert. Today, he thinks we need an anti-terrorist law He agrees that we need such a law,  but agrees with the NDP that this one is too broad. I think there are other laws we need a lot more, and ones that wouldn't cost us more billions on a secret service that will always be abusive and dangerous to freedom. How many Canadians were killed by terrorists last year? None. The only two even similar killings were not by terrorists - unless you have a very, very loose definition of that word. In fact, the chances of a Canadian getting killed by a Muslim terrorist are less than his or her chances of being killed by police while on a vacation in Florida.

Besides, we already have a domestic spy service operated by the RCMP, which has all the power it needs (and more).

And what's Norbert's big solution to terrorism? War. War. War. Kill. Kill. Kill 'em all. Jail the survivors for war crimes. Oh, that had me in an ecstasy of drooling. Jail them for war crimes? Norbert, what the hell do you think torture is? What do you think killing millions of civilians is? What do you think invading countries with no legal reason is?  Do you understand that you are advocating hanging for George Bush (both of them), Barack Obama, Tony Blair. and at least a prison term for Stephen Harper?

Of course not. Like most of us,  you're not capable of seeing war crimes when they're committed by our side. Norbert, most of the terrorist killings, by far, have been committed by our side. In Vietnam, the US killed millions by bombing, burning alive, torturing, poisoning, and sometimes just for the fun of it. And you really can't see that, can you? Don't feel bad. It's a common delusion in the western world. We've been killing innocent people, enslaving them, debasing them, torturing them, looting them for 500 years. Canada and the US today exist because we did that to the people here.

He also suggests we should help peaceful Muslims to deal with the political and economic problems that plague their region.  Norbert --- who the hell do you think created those problems?  Who conquered and ruled those regions? Who looted their natural resources? Who created all those artificial countries? Do you really think British Oil and Texaco are owned by Muslim terrorists? Was it Muslim terrorists who handed over Algeria to France? Was it Muslim terrorists that conquered Egypt to build the Suez Canal?

Oh, and as Norbert says, "What should Canada and the civilized world..." be doing? Let's see, the civililized world - Oh, like Britain that murdered and exploited all over the world, like Spain that murdered and looted throughout Latin America, like the US which has been invading and killing almost every year since it began, and which has more prisoners than any other country in the world,  like France which looted and murdered in North Africa and in what is now Vietnam...?

You know these things Norbert. Like most of us, you know them - but you can't understand it's bad when we do it. It just doesn't sink in.

As to his ideas that we need a massive and continuing war effort to destroy terrorism - get real. Terrorism is not a weed that grows all by itself. It is a reaction. One thing that causes it is war and killing. While this world has been fighting terrorism for thousands of years, justNorbert advises, ( and has been fighting terrorism by using terrorism), the killing has always made the terrorism worse. Wars don't destroy terrorism. They simply water the weeds.

This is a column that shows no understanding of history either recent or long past. It shows no understanding of why people behave as their do. It shows no capacity to see any wrong at all on our side. It shows no understanding of why our governments behave as they do. And it has a strong touch of racism.

And the scary thing is, I suspect, that many readers will agree with it.

There are two, good letters to the editor about the closing of rural schools. It' important to understand that not all children in our society have anything like an equal chance in this world. Most people will spend their whole lives in the social class they were born into. The poor will remain poor. The middle class will remain middle class. And the super-rich will remain super-rich.

This has always been true. The myth of Canadian and American history is that we are lands of equal opportunity. We never were. Yes, some people rise above a lower status to a higher one, but very few. The majority of the very rich throughout history were born that way.

And the loss to us all is tremendous. And it has nothing to do with brains. I attended a school of the very poor, and all my life I taught both poor and rich. At no point did I see anything to indicate that brains were in any way a major factor in social class. (I also attended a university in which I was preceded by two. maritime billionaires, neither of whom left any distinguished record behind.)

In rural areas, the proportion of working class children is high. That, alone, places them at a serious disadvantage in school - and busing them to a town school doesn't much change that. As well, intellectual stimulation is pretty rare in a rural area. Much of what there is comes from the presence of a school. Close the school and bus the children, and you pretty much lose the whole community.

New Brunswick should be spending more, not less, on opportunities for rural education - for both children and adults. It should also give some thought to community radio.

Rod Allen offers us yet another little story about his fascinating self.

Beth Lyons does him much better with a thought provoking column on our ideas about equality. The point is a subtle one, but important.

Alec Bruce's column, on the New Brunswick economy, simply doesn't say anything. He writes it as the politicians we elect set the polity. That don't. They never have. And, worse, the people of New Brunswick have never shown that they care.
In high school when I was bored  (most of the time) I used to count from 1 - 900 seconds, seeing how close I could come to being right on 15 minutes. Reading today's Canada&World section was like that.  The only piece that really said anything was on B4, "Canada considers joining U.S.-led military training mission in Ukraine.

Brilliant. We are putting ourselves, with the US, on the ground with American and British troops in a place that could well spark a nuclear war. Why?

We owe this to Europe? Then how come Britain is the only European country to join us?

More to the point - why has the Ukrainian army taken such a beating?  Why are people in Kyiv rioting in protest against the war? Why are so many dodging the draft? Why is the Ukrainian army so demoralized that it retreats eagerly?

What would our reaction be if Russia sent traners into East Ukraine? (Oh, I know North American news media say the place is crawling with Russian troops. But note that they never have evidence for it. And, just recently, an independent commission from The Netherlands returned from the Russia/Ukraine border to say it saw no evidence of military activity there.)

So why is Canada sending troops to Ukraine? ( Why did it send them to Afghanistan?)
Al Jazeera, a very reliable newspaper in Israel has a story that just 85 people now have as much money as 3.500.000,000 other people in this world. (yes, that's 3 and 1/2 BILLION other people. Gee. They must work really hard.) It also has the happy news that the 400 richest people in the US have doubled their money in the last ten (mostly recession) years.  Now, there would be a great inspiration for Norbert to do a column about how the richest people in NB are making out. The Al Jazeera story is at

Then there's a story in The Guardian, probably the best English language newspaper in the world. It's all about how the George Bush family made big money by helpiing Hitler to come to power. Actually, Hitler was a big hero to American and Canadian big business. Their support for him goes back to the 1920s.

Then there's this gem about how the Canadian government   (you know, Harper) is spending 2 to 3 million dollars to photograph his cabinet ministers. The explanation is that it's a government's duty to communicate with the people - and sending them pictures of cabinet ministers is an important communication.

Then there's a news source I'm not familiar with; but much of the information in it is from official US government sources. And it's all about how the US helped to create ISIS.

On the same topic, here's a similar view from Seymour Hersh. It's provoked a lot of controversy. But Hersh has a long reputation as a gutsy, honest and intelligent reporter. (That's why you won't see him much in the Irving Press.)

The five sites above were sent to me by a reader - for which much thanks. Any one of these has more news value than the whole CanadaWorld section of the Times and Transcript.

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