Saturday, March 7, 2015

March 7: Yes. It can get worse.

On this day, the blazing headline on page 1, more important than anything else that is happening in the world, is the big news that hunting and fishing licences will soon be available online. I couldn't wait to read it.

Also font page news is "FIFA Women's World Cup Canada expected to empower girls." Sure. In fact, women have been playing sports for a century -and they were men's sports because before that all sports were for men. If that empowered girls, it was very, very slow in doing it. The first Canadian woman to write a sports column was Myrtle Cook almost a hundred years ago. That empowered women? Really? So tell me about all the women we now see on TV discussing hockey with that guy with the high collar?

Then there are the usual stories from the courthouse. That's always an easy and cheap way to fill empty spaces. And there's a story about a guy with a guitar who will play country music at the Casino. He is, of course, a country legend. They all are. He'll also do a gospel collection. That should inspire all of Moncton's Christian gamblers.

The high point of the editorial and op ed pages (the ONLY high point) is a letter to the editor "Bilingualism's end game is equality at no cost".

I'm really not sure what the editorial is about - though, as usual, it has a focus on money, i think.

Norbert Cunningham has read a recent poll about the provincial government, has nothing to say about it, but says it anyway. The villains are doctors and unions who will try to protect their 'Entitlements'. Well, Norbert, all people are entitled to be able to live decently. All people. Unions? If it weren't for unions, we'd still be working in rickety and dangerous factories for a dollar a day.

You want to criticize people for 'entitlements' Norbert? Then how about having the integrity and guts to criticize your boss and his social circle.? You know -the people who are entitled to earn more in a morning than their employees do in a year - and often many years. The people who are 'entitled' not to pay taxes like the rest of us. Norbert, you love ranting at people  who have to work damn hard just to survive; and you really don't give a damn about those who have no food to eat and/or no place to sleep. I guess that makes you think of yourself as some sort of superior person.

Norbert, today's column is trite. It's ignorant. It's heavily biased. And, like all of  your newspaper, it lacks the courage to even mention the people who really run this province.

As well, there's a topic he and his paper could have covered - but never will. Under forestry licences 6 and 7 (which means most of this region of the province), the forest we virtually gave away to J.D.Irving for the next 25 years are his to use as he likes no matter how it may affect us. He wants to use an insecticide that will kill wildlife? Hey. Feel free kddo. He wants to cut ways that will destroy wildlife in the region? Feel free. It's open house in New Brunswick? Pollute water? Sure.

And just in case we get fancy ideas about passing regulations to protect our forests and our waters and our land, son't even think about it. J.D.Irving, under the terms of this deal, can almost certainly sue the pants off the province he loves. He's entitled. Wanna dump on him, Norbert, the way you dump on the poor, the hungry and the homeless?

Op ed has another comment on the universities, and again by a university administrator. Look, a comment is opinion presented by an informed and independent observer of a field. What appeared yesterday and today on universities are not comments. These are letters to the editor. That's all they are.  And both are dedicated to preserving the status quo - which means ignoring profound problems facing the universities.

And both are badly written and boring.

Bill Belliveau, like Norbert often does, discusses our economic future without mentioning the central problem we face.

We are living under an uncontrolled capitalism that is not capitalism at all. And it's the major players in that capitalism who run this province, not the people we elect. The only life purpose of the uncontrolled capitalist is to make money for himself.  There will never be any change or any coherent planning in the province until we deal with that central fact.
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Then to Canada&World news. Almost half the front page of Canada&World, is the fast-breaking story that the New Brunswick NDP has sold its campaign bus.

There's also a big story that two people charged in a mass murder plot are getting a new court date. Thank you. I'll have to rearrance my calendar for that.

B2 has a big, big story about a New Brunswick women who escaped from her burning house - OVER TWO WEEKS AGO.  Wow! Talk about world news.

B3 has pictures of children sliding on the snow. I have no idea why.

B4 brings us all the way to Ottawa - for a real story. Canada's federal Privacy Commissioner says Harper's anti-terrorism bill goes much too far in handing personal info to our secret police. That puts in the same position as unprecedented numbers of former Liberal, Conservative and NDP leaders, retired Supreme Court justices, current Liberal, Conservative, NDP and Green party leaders, prominent lawyers and others have denounced this bill.

It's no overstatement to say that this bill is the death-knell of what's left of  Canadian freedom and democracy. And I have never seen such widespread condemnation at such high levels as we are seeing this this bill. We, in Moncton, are lucky to have Mr. Goguen, MP, who has a long record of speaking out in defence of his people.

Canadians are sleep-walking into this.

Not until B5 do we crack our eggshell to discover a foreign country. It's a big but largely uninformative story about Iraq.  Then, as if frightened at stepping  too far from home, it reverts to stories about Canada, none of them worth reading.
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Sadly, "Whatever" (the section written by students) seems to be down to just one contributor. Too bad. That was one of the few sections worth reading.

The sermonette by UNB chaplain Brett Annington is, for the first time in this paper, worth a read and is thought-provoking, especially the second half of it. I've never met him; but I like this guy.
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So let's spare just a bit of time for things that didn't make this paper.

On March 5, a Canadian returned from a Caribbean vacation,  landing at Halifax. Canadian border agents demanded he give them the passcode for his smartphone. He refused, saying it was his, personal information. This could lead to a charge carrying a year in jail and a fine of up to $25.000. That's the way it is now in the "true north strong and free".

That's a contrast with General Petraeus who liked jogging with his mistress and telling her about his life. (She must have been bored silly). In the course of it, he slipped quite a few national secrets to her. When a congressional committee questioned him about it, he lied under oath. He also lied to investigators. That's it. No penalty. Not even a slap on the wrist.

Edward Snowden, who released Wikkileaks as a matter of conscience - to show that the government was lying to the people - faces a possibility of 30 years in prison for having a conscience and being honest.

Too bad Snowden isn't a general.

We aren't  told anything about Venezuela, We know that just weeks ago, there was an attempt to overthrow the elected government, and the evidence is strong that the US organized it. There is also evidence that Canada was involved through an RCMP officer who helped the US. But barely a word in any Canadian news medium. And all the American news media say is that Venezuela is evil.  What's going on?

Well, Venezuela has oil. That's good. But the government and people of Venezuela think it belongs to them. That's bad. And the government nationalized the oil fields. That's evil,. The government says it's intention was to benefit the people of Venezuela. And that, in the opinion of the American government, is worse than evil. It's socialism.

This has been going on for some years now, with US attempted coups, US-financed riots and support of far, right wing parties, US special ops.... As recently as his latest State of the Union address, Obama has indicated the US has to deal with this threat to its values.

That's been a threat throughout US history as it has constantly been attacked by those awful Latin American countries like Venezuela, Haiti, Guatemala. In the 1920s and 30s, it was forced to attack one of the smaller ones some 19 times. Oh, they''re evil, those latinos. Read any American history book.

But an open attack is no longer a good idea because it gives the impression that the US is, you know, aggressive and greedy. Presidential assassinations are probably out, too. They've been used too often. So maybe this time they'll do what they did to kick out the elected government in Haiti. They'll send peacekeepers. Yeah. That's it. Peacekeepers. And Harper will join them. Just like in Haiti.

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Big business has enormous power to influence public thinking, to create fears and hatred, to control government policy  (including  the power to make war). Unfortunately, it has no competence to exert that power in way that is responsible and beneficial, incompetent even, in the long run to benefit even itself.
A war against terrorism sill not kill terrorism. In fact, all our experience is that it will create more terrorism. It also creates more fear and hatred all over the world, and that is manipulated to create more killing.

All of this is happening as the result of governments controlled by oligarchies of the very rich. These are precise duplicates of the aristocrats who made Europe such a murderous and miserable place for centuries. They are precise even to being based on inheritance, a system guaranteed to give power, very frequently, to the feeble-minded, the unbalanced, and the power-mad.

Add to that the failure that America's foreign policy and its military have been for generations now. The way we are going can produce only more suffering, more misery, more poverty and much, much more killing - all without achieving anything. And, some day, it will produce nuclear war. What it will never produce is one country ruling the whole world. It will never produce anything that can be called victory.

We have to arrive at settlements without using force, or drones, or killer special ops. We have to let other countries run themselves as they choose to. And above all, we h ave to counter the biggest evil facing us - the power of the very rich and very greedy to dictate how the world shall behave.

The is no other option.

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