Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 31: Norbert Cunningham's little thinking cap....

...put it on Norbert.

In his column for March 30, Norbert writes (of the Atcon scandal in which the province gave away $70 million to a company against the advice of senior civil servants. So Norbert says, " New Brunswickers are old hands at scandal....thanks to political recklessness..."  Note his last words - "political recklessness".

The scandal here is that politicians were bribed to give $70 million dollars to a private company. Now, close your eyes, Norbert, and think really hard. If the politicians were bribed, then somebody must have bribed them. Blame the politicians by all means - but also blame the bribers.

But no, "It's not anyone's fault but the politicians."

Norbert, what you are doing is too blatant to be called stupidity -( though I'm open to considering the possibility). The politicians were wrong to accept bribes (if that's what happened). But somebody was also damn wrong to bribe them. And that somebody was almost certainly not a politician.

Norbert, you are doing what my cat does everyday in her litter box. You are covering up.

Then you say the people of New Brunswick are getting fed up with this sort of thing. If they are, they're certainly hiding it well. People want change? The people of New Brunswick have not shown any desire for significant change in the whole history of this province. And I don't see much sign of them waking up. And, Norbert, you have spent a career crooning to them, "go to sleep, my baby...."

And neither the politicians nor Norbert have given any sign of demanding the obvious action. Conduct a criminal action to investigate what happened and, if there was thievery, send some people, including the bribers, to jail.

But you won't suggest that, will you? Nor will either the Liberals or the Conservatives. After all, both of those parties really heavily on huge donations from the very rich to get elected. And the very rich are not playing Santa Claus.

Craig Babstock has a quite good column about a policeman who referred to protesters as a "wolf pack".
That is the only good part of section A.
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Section B, page 1, has the story of how the government plans to reduce spending by closing schools and cutting teachers There are some problems with this.
1. It lists the class-size numbers in a manner intended to show the class sizes are low. In fact, they aren't.  26 students in a grade three class is NOT small. 29 is NOT small for high school. When I started teaching in elementary school, I remember the school board apologizing for our large classes, saying it hoped to get the numbers down. (It never did). And the numbers I taught then were only very slightly higher than the ones quoted in this news report for NB.
2.This province has an appallingly low rate of literacy. Obviously, it must also have an appallingly low rate of general education among adults. That not only limits their career choices, it almost makes them incapable of taking part in anything that could be called a democracy. And that may explain why Moncton has an intellectual life made up largely of members of Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce who hold dinners to tell each other what great guys they are.
New Brunswick desperately needs to provide education for its adults as well as its children. To cut education spending is saved from being despicable only by being so ignorant of what the needs are.
3. There is no case in history of governments ending a recession by cutting budgets. In fact, cutting budgets is what turns a recession into a depression.  The only thing you do by cutting government is to funnel even more money to the very rich - which is what is causing this recession in the first place.
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On the same page is the story of how Ottawa in cutting welfare for the First Nations people, the poorest group in Canada. Again, this shows an ignorance of the causes of recession, and it makes the poorest pay to satisfy the greed of the richest.

A bloody moronic paper for March 30.
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The headline for March 31 is that the Liberals see tough spending decisions coming. Bullshit. Tough for whom? Will they be tough on the Irvings?

In any case, you don't start with what you're going to cut. A government is a government of the people. So what it first has to do is to settle on what people need. Then you decide what can be cut.

The trouble is that requires a party with a sense of moral responsibility to the whole society. And I have seen no sign of that in either the Liberals or the Conservatives. These parties are both, as the Atcon case shows, morally corrupt and intellectually for sale. (Note that the Alward government which followed Shawn Graham, did not investigate the Atcon case, and the Conservatives still have not suggested any investigation.) Of course not. Both parties have the same boss.

Page B3 has a story from Environment Canada that our savage winter may well have been due to climate change. Gee! That must be wrong. I mean, those nice people in the oil industry have been assuring us that
climate change isn't happening and, anyway, it's good for you.

Luckily for us, the Harper government has sensibly listened to the oil industry and not all those silly, old scientists; and it has done close to nothing to develop alternative forms of energy. We're so lucky to have our very own oil boss in this province.

There is another side effect of reliance on oil that I've not seen mentioned, though it has killed millions of people. That effect is the frequent fighting and mass murder to get control of oil. Luckily, it's mostly foreigners who have been getting killed. That's what's going on now in the Middle East - and it is bringing us within kissing distance of world, nuclear war. Well, that's part of the price of oil.  But there's also a good side. It creates job in the nuclear bomb sector.

The fight over oil could come much closer. The US is ready for war against Venezuela because that greedy government in Venezuela thinks their oil belongs to the people of Venezuela. If the war happens, the US will want the support of other countries - you know, so that we know this isn't just a greedy attack by American oil billionaires. And one country that will be asked to help out is Canada.

Now, I don't know where Irving currently gets it supplies, but I know it once had strong ties to Venezuelan oil (before that nasty government took control of its own oil). And it could be very useful for Irving Oil to share in the American "liberation" of Venezuela. So it's quite possible we will be sending troops down there to get killed for, you know, saving democracy and freedom.

The editorial is about how the government and the teachers' unions should work together to fire teachers and close schools. Typically, then, the editorial starts and ends with money - as usual. It shows no sense of what the needs are for our children and our whole society. Its economics, too, are the standard, Don Savoie ones. They pay not the slightest attention to the fact that a major reason we are poorer is because throughout the western world, money is being funneled on a massive scale from all of us to the very rich. Nor does it make the obvious suggestion to make a study of what the very rich cost us - and to make cuts there. I mean, for a start, you have those people Norbert Cunningham never mentions - the ones who bribe politicians, the ones who can be involved in the killings of 47 people, and then just close the door with a payoff of 75 million. If that's the going rate, then Justin Bourque could be a free man today for much less.

Norbert Cunningham has a history story which proves that liquor sales should be privatized. Alas! He got the story wrong.  Tell you what, Norbie, go to the library. Go to Reference. Look for The Canadian Enclopedia, vol. 4. Then look up Temperance Movement. The author of that entry also has an article in D. Swainson, ed., "Oliver Mowat's Ontario". You might even know the author. His name is Graeme Decarie.

It's true that temperance and prohibition were promoted by the churches - but it was not just a crazy, religious movement.. It had more to do with the dangerous effect alcohol was having on society. (And still does have.)

Alec Bruce has a good column on Premier Gallant's appointment of a committee to investigate the safety of shale gas. I don't agree with his view on shale gas. But I think this column in dead on. The panel is a fraud. Gallant knows that he will either endorse shale gas or his party will be fighting the next election with whatever nickels and dimes it can panhandle on Main St.  Gallant is Alward who was Graham....and so it goes.

There's an interesting column on NB Power's attempt to reduce its use of fossil fuels to make electricity. It shouldn't be billed as a commentary because its not a commentary. It would have been an excellent news story - even first page.
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Canada&World gets off to a blazing start the a big story that we have lots of snow. The rest of Canada&World isn't worth reading. You can get more on Google News.

There is a story that Canadians are not enthusiastic about taking part in a war in Iraq and Syria. But it doesn't say much beyond that.

Canadians have good reason for a lack of enthusiasm. We are at war. Harper won't call it that, because doing so would cost him votes. But we're at war. We're in a war that is likely to get much bigger, that has nothing to do with Canada, that the US began so its oil billionaires could make more money, that has wars within wars within wars for local reasons that have nothing to do with us. We are fighting armies created, supplied and financed at the start (and still to some degree today) by the US and Saudi Arabia. Our closest ally in the region is Saudi Arabia which is religiously at least as extremist as the people we are fighting. We are not fighting to bring freedom and democracy - because the US has been destroying freedom and democracy wherever it springs up in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world.

This war is neither logical nor moral. Under the Canadian constitution, it's illegal for us to be in a war without the consent of parliament - and calling it a "combat mission" doesn't change that. We will be killing a great many innocent people, and creating a well-deserved hatred for Canada. And, except for those who have oil stocks, we will get nothing out of it.

We will be sending Canadians to die for a cause that nobody understands. And we will be hugely raising the chances of a world, nuclear war. This is greed, stupidity, brutality and genuine evil that we are taking part in.

And nice speeches on Nov. 11 won't change any of that.
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Today, I was at a public demonstration at Smirkly Goguen's office. (He wasn't there. He had an important meeting with Harper to lick his boots.)  The Irving press might cover the demonstration - but just in case----

The demonstration against Harper's proposals to cut health care spending. This would open the door for privatization of health care, something the very rich have wanted for a long time. It would give the very rich a chance to make money out of high-priced health insurance. It would give them the possibility of privately owned hospitals.

It would also be a disaster for most Canadians. The US has private health care. Even it's so-called medicare is actually largely privatized. Of the 11 most industrialized countries in the world, the US has the world's most expensive health care. (As we learned not long ago, giving birth can cost a million dollars and more.) The US  system is also, among those countries, the world's worst and least efficient health care system. For most Canadians, cuts to health care are a first step to miserable lives and early deaths

But the very rich can't see that. Well, they can see it. But they don't give a damn. All they care about is to make money at the expense of the rest of us and, by getting the money we now spend on health into their own hands, give them even a bigger share of the total wealth of this country. And they have their eyes on education, too.

This is not a casual issue. This is life and death for most of us. In a genteel way, the very rich are quite willing to make us suffer to make them richer.

I didn't notice any very rich people at the demonstration. And I don't think we'll hear from them, either. They hire people to do their dirty work - people like Harper.

There was an NDP speaker at the demonstration. There were no speakers for either the Liberals or Conservatives.

Canada has changed enormously in the past fifty years. We are under attack, as never before, by the very rich. And they have a most unpleasant future planned for us. These people, not Arabs or Venezuelans, are the ones who are the real threat to us.





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