Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March 25: honour and responsibility.

I have a message from a friend in Quebec.  He said he was pleased to read in his newspaper that Irving Ltd. has done the honourable and responsible thing in taking its share of responsibility for the Lac Megantic disaster.

I was astonished. The Quebec newspapers must be even bigger liars than ours are.

Irving did NOT take responsibility for anything. Forty-seven people died at Lac Megantic. Irving, as reported even in the wretched Irving press, paid $75 million dollars to avoid "costly legal fees". No responsibility was admitted for anything. This was simply an out of court settlement.

But forty-seven people are dead. And there now is not going to be any deep examination into why they died. Certainly, the Irving press won't raise the obvious question. If Irving ltd. had no responsibility, why did it pay that settlement? And that's of some passing interest to readers in Moncton. Some of those trains pass through here.

And where is Harper, the famous "get tough on crime" crusader? Why hasn't he demanded a full and public enquiry into the deaths of 47 people? Nah. He gets tough only on the old and the mentally ill.

Compare that to the treatment of Omar Khadr in a story on B4. Khadr, who has applied to a US court to have his sentence reduced, has been waiting a long time for a response. His lawyer said he should be allowed out on bail while waiting.

But a government spokesman said that letting him out on bail would undermine public confidence in the justice system, subvert international law, and annoy the US. That spokesman was either a liar or a fool.

Regarding public confidence in the justice system, nobody has shown more contempt for the justice system than Harper - and I certainly lost a lot of confidence when nobody wanted to ask questions about the 47 dead in Lac Megantic, and when Harper let Mulroney go even when he confessed to taking bribe money while he was prime minister.

Subvert international law? It's already been subverted. It's illegal to put a minor under military arrest and to place him in a prison camp. Khan was only 15 at the time, a terrified kid caught in the middle of an American attack - and, yes, American soldiers have been known to kill children. It was illegal to hold him in Guantanamo. It was illegal to torture him. It was illegal to try him before a US  military tribunal. And, under international law, it is illegal to hold him in a Canadian prison.

But, gee, we don't want to annoy the US government. Of course not. We don't even have the guts to complain when the US government ignores Canadian law by using the Northwest Passage as if it doesn't belong to Canada.

A train wreck, the fault of adults, killed 47 people in Lac Megantic. .We won't look at that - though that's a hell of a lot more Canadians than any terrorist has ever killed.

But we'll nail a terrified fifteen year old for what he did when under attack from men shooting at him.

And Canadians in general will probably support the government on this one. Racism and bigotry have become very popular in Canada.
Most of Section A is the usual crap. Moncton is getting ready for the snow to melt. Wow! Who woulda guessed? A pizzeria closed. A coffee shop closed.  Section A always reminds me of a lullaby my mother used to sing to me. "Go to sleep my lit-tle babeee." (Incidentally, I would be fascinated to know if anyone knows the Gaelic version of that. I know it was sung by Scottish women in the highlands as they beat the wool dry on a table. And the Gaelic version began "Hayla, hayla shayla...."

Anyway, it fits because section A is deliberately designed to say nothing, and keep us in a stupor.

Norbert repeats what he has said many times. Don Savoie is an "expert" on policy and, therefore, right. And Richard Saillant's  "Over the Cliff"  is the greatest book since "The Cat in the Hat". It's all a pitch to ignore the role of the very, very rich in creating our economic problems, to put all the blame for the recession on the poor and middle class, and to crucify them with cuts in social spending and services, cuts that will do nothing whatever to help the economy.

We had a well-run economy in World War 2, and for decades after it. That's because governments were forced by popular demand to do it. But the very rich never liked it. They wanted more of the pie. In fact, they wanted all of it.

The trouble began with Reagan and Thatcher killing controls on the theory that capitalism just naturally made good things happen. It doesn't. And it hasn't. We did not create the recession. Irresponsible action, largely  by banks, did that. And constant military spending, much of it corrupt, to kill people in the way of big business, made it even worse.

Now, around the world, big business has seized control of major governments. Its only purpose is to make itself richer and, as a side effect, to make us poorer. Forget the crap about economic recovery coming. It has come, a long time ago, to the very rich. And the very rich have no intention of it coming to us.

What we are likely to see is a lot more misery, a lot more suffering, tremendous changes in economic power around the world and, almost certainly violence both domestic and foreign. Uncontrolled capitalism just naturally destroys itself. Unfortunately, it takes us with it.

Gwynne Dyer has a good, well-informed column on Yemen - but that is scarcely one of the larger problems facing the world. It seems that a lot of his columns in the Irving press avoid the big questions. I wonder if Irving press sifts through his columns to find the harmless ones.

Brian Cormier has yet another pointless tale that doesn't even pretend to be a real comment on anything.

Alec Bruce, in effect, says that maritimers tend to be sheep who follow the leader, and close their eyes to reality. He's right. They're not the only ones like that. But imagination, discussion,  intellectual stimulation are rare, indeed. I saw more critical thinking in Mao's China than I do in Moncton.

Canada&World has a headline story that really is a headline story. It's about the Atcon scandal when the government lost $70 million dollars in a giveaway to a company that the father of the premier had an interest in. The Shawn Graham Liberal government became hated for it. So New Brunswickers showed their anger.. They voted for Alward's Conservatives - who then enraged them. So New Bruswickers showed the Conservatives. They voted for the Gallant Liberals so that half of the Gallant cabinet now is made up of ministers who were the same ones who created the Atcon scandal.

Boy. You don't mess around with New Brunswickers. Unless, of course, you feel like it.

And it seems our war that isn't a war in Iraq will be extended for a year, and will include killing people in Syria, too. But it still won't be a war. So we are doomed to be caught up in one hell of a mess that the US has created in the Middle East. (Well, give some credit for the mess to Britain and France).

I know. I know. Muslims are evil. It's in the genes. Funny, though, how the extremes never showed until the last 20 years or so. And funny how those nice people in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates don't seen to have those genes. They must be a separate race.

Harper has very likely pushed us into a disaster. Our killing will create more terrorists - and will give them a strong reason to put Canada in their sights. And that's barely the beginning. Israel is now pretty isolated in world opinion. Increasingly, even in Europe, the US is isolated, too. Netanyahu is now going to be under pressure to recognize a Palestinian state. And that will mean Israel will have to give back all the land it has taken from Palestine to build Israeli settlements. But Netanyahu will never agree to that. Nor will much of Israel.

And even if a deal is reached - there are well over half a  million Israelis living on the stolen land. Who is going to make them move?

American foreign policy has been pretty much a disaster for at least 50 years. It's getting worse, not only with the danger of the spread of Middle East war, but with the danger of nuclear war over Ukraine, and with the danger of wars in South America as US capitalists try to  hold on to their empire.

And Harper is committing us to get right into the middle of it. After all, we have to protect the profits of our oil billionaires.
I still have a sheet of notes - on forestry policy in New Brunswick, on the threat to medicare, on the terrible danger of Harper's anti-terrorism bill...and on. We are living in a very dangerous period, and the lunatics are in charge of the government and the economy.

Oh, just in case the Irving press forgets to mention it, there will be a peaceful demonstration about the real and imminent threat to medicare I grew up in a Canada without it. I knew and remember many people who suffered and died because we didn't have it. On Tuesday, April 31 at noon, we shall rally at the office of Robert Goguen at 34 King St. I look forward to seeing you there. As an added attraction, you can be sure that Robert Goguen won't be there.

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