Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 24: Stop the presses!

Page A1. Banner Headline.

A land purchase has been approved so Sobeys  can build a new store in Dieppe. Be still, my heart.

Actually, there is an important story on A1, just a little down and to the left of the thrilling headline about Sobeys. "Moncton psychiatrist 'shocked' with changes at Shepody. This is a treatment centre for psychiatrically  ill patients, largely from Dorchester Penitentiary. (And there can be a lot of those just counting the ones who become ill and dangerous to themselves and others simply from living in prison conditions. I've seen more than a few.)

A Moncton psychiatrist who has worked there for many years says the change means a vastly inferior level of mental health service for patients.  And, as a reporter should do, the reporter for this story checked with spokespeople at the Shepody Centre who, as all spokespeople do, said everything is fine.

The reporter also quoted the psychiatrist as saying the decision was made in Ottawa. Now, can we all put our thinking caps on? Could we put 1 and 1 together to think of somebody else to ask? - to find out who made the decision and why? perhaps to ask if cost-cutting was a factor?

An editor looking at the story should have told the reporter to phone officials in Ottawa why this decision was made. He should have told the reporter to ask more questions about financial factors in this decision.

After all, Harper has taken a very hard-nosed approach to crime (except in the case of a former Conservative Prime Minister caught stealing.). Hang 'em high. Put 'em away for a thousand years. It pulls in the idiot vote. As well, he likes to cut social spending because cuts like that make it easier to reduce the dreadful tax burden on billionaires.

It doesn't work of course. The US has always used hard-nosed methods to fight crime. That's why it has the largest prison population in the world, and some of the worst prison conditions, including lots and lots of torture. It also hangs or gasses with a generous hand. George Bush Jr. (born again Christian) took a special delight in approving executions when he was governor of Texas. Utah is restoring the firing squad.

And it doesn't work. It has never worked. If you want to improve your chances of getting murdered, visit the US. It has far, far the highest murder rate in the developed world. Among teenagers, the chances of getting murdered are 17 times higher in the US than in the rest of the developed world.

There are lots of questions to be asked about our penal system. The Irving news has never asked any of them.

The editorial writer takes up the fact that federal rules now call for a new sewage plant for what this paper loves to call Metro. By some logical gymnastics, he manages to connect that with our desperate need for an events centre. Then he leaps to a Public private partnership as the ideal answer.

Yes, that would be cheaper for rate payers  - though it is not a magic wand. The bill still has to be paid, and taxpayers have to pay it. I don't know how to put this gently to the editorial writer, but he private part of these "partnerships"  is frequently a corrupting influence in the terms of the contract. That's why both the Liberals and Conservatives get lavish campaign donations from the very rich.

Norbert has a column about the future of TV. I feel awkward writing about it because I stopped watching it years ago, recently got it installed again - and have yet to find anything worth watching on all those hundreds of channels. In any case, I found the column so wordy and so close to the tone of a rant that it was really unintelligible. Norbert, you really need an editor to help you write for  your audience.

Loved Alec Bruce's column. It's about Canadian MPs who have recently made racist statements. To get the real punch of this column, it's important to read the whole column - especially including the last two paragraphs (but don't cheat and read them first.)

Louise Gilbert has an interesting column on her work to make Moncton a "senior friendly" city. And that gives me a chance to put in a plug for myself. (Sound of trumpets.)

"Tantramar Seniors" has organized classes and discussion groups for many years. The registration for the Spring series is on April 4.  On that day, I shall be at registration from noon at Lion's Community Centre on St. George near Vaughan Harvey, and at 2:30 at People's Park Tower at 960 St. George. The courses are open to anyone 50 or older.

It's partly me talking but,  I hope, with the class jumping in. It's just three classes of about an hour and a half each. The course is called "Lies my history teacher told me." It will probably start with Christopher Columbus who did NOT discover the New World, and who did NOT prove the world is round.

We'll also discuss why history textbooks so often tell lies. Christopher Columbus not only did not discover the New World, but the people he met were NOT savages. However, there is a reason why they had to be called savages, and why we were told that Columbus, a European, was the discoverer.

Remember the story of American Senator McCarthy and his campaign against American communists?
Actually, it had nothing to do with communists.

Feel free to bring up your own ideas or questions that have always puzzled you.

Canada&World opens with an excellent headline story. It's a "feel good" story. But there's excellent reason to "feel good", and even to be inspired by it. It's about a Fredericton man who served with the army in Afghanistan, was wounded and, probably as a result of that, was dismissed from the army. He was crushed, but found a new life. It comes from a project by New Brunswick's Horizon Health Network, to help released veterans and children of 14 to 17 find a new purpose and joy in life.

I have no first-hand information about this. But it sounds most impressive.

And that's about it for section B.

Ted Cruz, a Texan  born in Canada (Calgary) is running for president in the US. There's big picture of Cruz, and a big story. I have no idea why. He's so far right even right wing Republicans think he's a nutbar. However, two comments, one by Cruz and one by a Republican voter did bother me.

According to Cruz, "If you can't be born in conservative America, Calgary is about as close to second best as the world has to offer." What bothers me is that he's right.

The voter said, "As far as I'm concerned Canada is not really foreign soil." Isn't it great for us to be recognized as American property?

The same page tells us that Harper met behind "closed doors" with NATO's chief. Oooh , oooh. Closed doors. And with the chief. Who cares?

Harper is a puppet who has no international stature at all, and no influence on events. Canada threw that away years ago.

B3 has a story about our ISIL "mission", and how we need to take part to strengthen global security. Right. After murdering several millions in Vietnam, a million and a half in Iraq, uncounted numbers in Afghanistan, Syria and Libya, and after the overthrow of elected governments in Egypt, Ukraine and Haiti, and after the attempted overthrow of an elected government in Venezuela, I feel more secure already. Peace and love are in the air.

In reality, the most destabilizing force in the world for most of my life has been the government of the United States working in the service of its billionaires who want to control the whole world.  Defeating ISIL (or whatever its name of the day is) won't stabilize anything. This whole mess has been caused in the first place by a century of the West killing Muslims for their oil.  Killing more of them is not a cure. It is, at best, the sacrifice of lives on both sides to satisfy greed.

The result of all this killing has really been to destabilize the whole world to a degree never before seen. Greed makes people stupid. Really stupid.

A couple of stories, perhaps related to the above, don't seem to have made the Irving press. Obama has declared Venezuela a threat to American security. Isn't it just terrible the way those small and poor countries are always threatening the US? That was the trouble with that elected government of Haiti that the US had to defend itself against.

Obama has also reminded Cuba that the US lists it as a terrorist country. Over the past 60 years, the US has bombed Cuba, sponsored an invasion of it, made uncounted attempts to murder Castro, planted bombs in hotels, and blown up a Cuban civil airliner killing all aboard. To add to that, Cuba was a country ruled by terror - but that was when it was controlled by the US through a dictator and his thugs.

To best of my memory, there has never in history been a Cuban attack on the US. But ya gotta watch them Cubans. They're sneaky.

Will US relations with Cuba ever settle down?  Not likely. Cuba is a country run for the Cuban people. American capitalists will never accept that. It has to be ruled for profit only. Like New Brunswick. (No, I'm not exaggerating. Read almost any editorial in the TandT.)

Finally, I don't believe I've yet seen a story of any substance about the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank sponsored by China. The US is dead set against it because US institutions like World Bank and International Monetary Fund give American billionaires a stranglehold on economies around the world. And, oh, they have used it brutally.

The US has made it very, very clear to its allies it wants nothing to do with the AIIB, and wants its allies to do the same. But the allies are defying the US.   Britain, which usually snivels and sniffs at American boots, has taken membership in the AIIB. So have Australia, Saudi Arabia, most of the European Union, and most of Asia. Oh, and Russia.

This is a massive change in whole economic and strategic structure of the world. It could well be a death blow to US economic dominance and to the American dollar, itself. We have seen no change in our lifetimes to match the potential of this one.

And there is the US, bogged down in the mess it has created in the Middle East. The very greedy might well now be very, very stupid, and decide this is their last chance to strike for world dominance - a dominance which, at this point, could be achieved, it at all, only by surprise, nuclear attacks on Russia and China.

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