Thursday, April 30, 2015

April 30: Wow! two big stories about an economist!

I mean, you know, economists are experts. This one say that business needs more freedom to grow but, gee, rules and regulations get in the way. And, goodness, if business doesn't make money and create jobs, we'll all be poor. Oh, and he says shale gas is good for us. So there.

Ted Mallet, interviewed for both stories by Brent Mazerolle, who doesn't seem to have asked a question or even made a comment after, "Please tell me what you said, sir."

These stories are pure propaganda. and the economist is  chief economist for the Confederation of Canadian Business. That means he's a shill for business, a point which seems not to have occurred to Mr. Mazerolle or the editor. His line is the old one. If we deregulate business more, it will make more profits, create more jobs, etc. That has never been true.

Oh, deregulation will make more money for big business, and it will cause a lot of damage as we are going to find out when the Trans Pacific Trade deal is signed. But we won't see that money. Unregulated business has never created money for anybody except unregulated business. It then hides the money so it doesn't pay taxes, or it invests in cheap labour countries that don't charge taxes for rich people. Latin America has had over a century of that kind of capitalism. And the destruction of the environment - forever -  is something the Irving press has never reported on. Or the wages of 3 or 4 dollars a day. Or the lack of medical care and education. Or the use of mass murder and terror to keep people in line.

Plenty of Canadians are making billions out of that, especially in mining. God bless them.

Making business freer will not make us richer. In fact, all the evidence is it makes us poorer.

Congratulations, Brent, on a tough-minded, tell-it-like-it-is story. Clark Kent would be proud of you.
The opinion and commentary pages are disasters.

The editorial writer wets his pants over Canada's 'fast' response to the call for help from Nepal. Evidently, he has not heard about the Canadians in Nepal who are furious. One woman, caught in an avalanche and fearing for her life, called the appropriate office in Ottawa. As she was explaining the crisis, she was put on hold, then an answering machine told her to send an e mail.

And I really wonder about that $5,000,000 aid package. How much of that will go to private contractor friends of the government? That's what happens to most US aid, with the result that it mostly disappears.

And I wonder about the nearly 15 mill that Harper is spending to convince us that his budget is the greatest thing since the invention of the birth control pill. Where is that money coming from? His party? Or from our taxes as part of his pledge to "keep us informed"/ You know, like that ghastly mail we get from Smirky Goguen?

Rod Allen started his column as if he were going to say something interesting about it the Frye Festival.  But it becomes just another column about himself.  I wonder what Frye would think of him and the Irving press. (Actually, I don't wonder. I know what he'd think).

In the centre column of this commentary, there is a one-sentence paragraph with two, gross errors - one in grammar, and one in spelling. The page editor should have caught those. The page editor - that would be Rod Allen.

The commentary below is another by an MLA (and again, a Conservative, the only ones allowed to share that space with the Liberals.) That is really contemptible journalism. Saves paying a real columnist, though. And,of course, it's also a plug for the events centre (hockey rink).

Alec Bruce's column is just bland.

Then there's Norbert. He starts by reminding us of Brent Mazerolle's column of last week about Obama's apology for the drone killing of a couple of Americans. Mazerolle's was a quite decent column for which Norbert says he'll add additional perspectives. He doesn't. I have it covered in circles and question marks.

This column is a mix of smugness, imagined morality, and complete ignorance of military history - and of anything military at all.
1. He thinks it noble of Obama to  have apologized for killing Americans. He ignores the fact that his drone attacks have killed innocent civilians, including children, by the thousands. But he didn't mention that. And nobody asked. That says something about our morality.
2. The drone attacks are illegal under international (and American) law. But that doesn't bother Obama any more than illegal torture bothered him.
3. War is brutal.  (What an insight?) Actually, murder is brutal, too. And when you kill over a million people on a trumped up charge, when you provoke and supply civil wars in Syria, when you drone bomb countries, like Yemen, that you're not at war with - and you supply the bombs to kill its people, that's not war. That's murder.
4. Obama is now working very hard to find a way to kill or otherwise destroy the elected government of Venezuela. It's not a secret. The reason is that Venezuela is one of the few countries that has narrowed the wage gap so that even the poor can eat. The oil billionaires don't like that sort of thing. Would you class that as war, Norbert?

Anyway, says Norbert,  perhaps we shouldn't even worry about drone killings. After all, they keep our soldiers safe. Norbert, why should our soldiers be there in the first place? We're killing innocent people by the thousands but it's okay because we're keeping our soldiers safe?

5. and recently, says Norbert, modern armies have been working on ways to reduce civilians casualties, and it is generallythe poorly equipped who cause them - and they're invariably condemned.

Norbert, that is the purest drivel. Civilian casualties have been rising, not falling, for the last century. And it's not caused by poor equipment. It's caused by the best equipped using agent orange, cluster bombs that are still killing children years after they were dropped, napalm....

Ever since the development of the bomber, civilians have been the main target in war. That's why so many civilians were killed in Vietnam and Iraq, and now in Syria and Yemen. It actually began just before World War 1, when Italy hired American mercenaries to bomb villages in Ethiopia. Churchill took it a step further when he ordered the bombing of Kurdish villages in 1920; then there was Hitler in the Spanish civil war with bombing deliberately aimed at civilians. Killing civilians became the standard practice in World War 2 - to demoralize civilians, and so to cripple war production.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were deliberately chosen BECAUSE they were civilian, and had no military importance.

The American bombing of Cambodia for four (largely unreported) years was aimed exclusively at civilians by carpet bombing cities and  villages almost daily. It was designed to reduce the country to the stone age - as an American general put it. And it did. Nobody knows how many were killed.  800,000 is only a guess.
And they were not killed by ill-equipped soldiers. They were killed by the best-equipped air force in the world.

And those who commit atrocities are invariably condemned?  That's just a silly statement. George Bush's father killed hundreds of thousands as head of the CIA, He now lives in mansion in Dallas. Americans (and British)  have committed atrocities all over the world, killing and starving and torturing millions of innocent people. Is Bush in jail? Tony Blair? Obama? In fact, the first two have become very rich - and the third will be. Can you name anybody on "our" side who is in jail?

We're improving so far? What the hell are you talking about, Norbert?  The slaughter of innocent people is more intense than it's been since the genocide of native American peoples. (and tell me who went to jail for that one.)

Cancel our public debate, Norbert. I hate squashing bugs.

Section B has little that could be called news, and only one worth reading. It's about the new king of Saudi Arabia dismissing old faces from the government, and appointing news ones  (mostly his close relatives.) What's going on there?

I wish I knew. Obviously, he's angry at the US over its dealing with Iran, which Saudi Arabia sees as an enemy. It's a war he's not likely to win. Few wars are won without boots on the ground. But the royal family of Saudi Arabia is not loved at home - so raising and arming an invasion force could backfire. Thus the bombing. Thus the lavishing of Bentley cars on the bombing pilots.

And the US needs its alliance with Saudi Arabia. So it has to accept the king's defiance of American wishes, and even go further to supply it with bombs..  But I expect even more defiance of American wishes from the king of Saudi Arabia. And that means the whole American strategy (if it can be dignified with that name) has become unglued.

In almost fifteen years of war against terrorism, the war is lost. That's no exaggeration. The numbers, the skills, and the equipment of what we call terrorists have increased enormously. And they have increased BECAUSE of the US or, more accurately, because of the control of US government by oil billionaires. These wars, from the start, were intended to get an American monopoly on the oil in the region.

Forget the propaganda about Hussein, Assad, etc. being bad guys. Forget the stories about  how evil Muslims are. We are always lied to about the reasons we go to war. Wars are almost never fought for the reasons that are given. Fighting Hitler had nothing to do with spreading freedom and equality. Churchill and Roosevelt lied to us. War with Japan had nothing to do with Pearl Harbour. That was the excuse, and if it had not happened, there would have been another excuse. In fact, the US navy from 1920 on was designed for war against Japan. Check out Jane's Fighting Ships. And the real reason was so that American billionaires could get control over China.

American foreign policy is set by oil billionaires. That's why they backed an obvious dolt like George Bush Jr. for president. It was so an oil company man, Dick Cheney, could be vice-president, and be the one really running the country. The 'war against terror' is and always has been a war for the control of oil.

It's not going to be won. But the very wealthy of the US have learned nothing. They are still looking for a quick decision so they can set off the invasions of Russia and China. The only result so far, has been the social collapse of the middle east, and the stunning rise of extreme groups as a direct result of US actions.

We're starting to see signs of the same thing happening in Latin America where countries have been bullied and looted for over a century.

And it's expensive. It's very, very expensive - with two, disastrous results.

In any real, free market, the US dollar is wallpaper, at best. Endless wars by a government that may well be the most corrupt in the world, and with much of that spending going into the pockets of the very rich have put the US in a highly vulnerable position. We are very close to the point at which only a nuclear victory can save it.

The other problem with these costs is that they are creating a profound crisis within the US. Deep-rooted problems, like race and social spending, have been made infinitely worse by the diversion of money to war and from the American people. I might add that free trade is no small factor in that. Baltimore, thirty years ago, had lots of jobs in its factories. But, due to free trade, the factories have almost disappeared. It's happening in Canada, too. And it's going to get worse with the Trans-Pacific trade deal.

 That's why law and order are collapsing. That's why we're seeing the militarization of the police, and the training of the army for a civil war. That's why it has become a police state.  The American revolution ended a long, long time ago. So did the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The billionaires, having socially destroyed the middle east, are now destroying the US, itself.
As an aside, I've been looking over two Canadian newspapers that I usually avoid. And they haven't changed. Both are gutter newspapers. They're the Toronto Sun and The National Post. Both are dishonest. Both feed on hysteria. A few days ago, The National Post hit a new low with an interview about Canadian history with Conrad Black. Black's opinons were absurd. He's very, very glib, very arrogant, and a man who believes only what he wants to believe. He never listens to what anybody else says. He still thinks he was sent to jail for no reason at all.
When I was on CBC, I often talked to  him and Laurier Lapierre, who were on right after me. He always argued with his eyes closed, hearing only himself - one of the most distasteful people I have ever met. He founded The National Post. And it's still a reflection of his personality. The faults of The National Post are the faults of Black's personality.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April 29: When I was a child, we used newspapers as toilet paper.

The Irving press starts out as toilet paper.

The "events centre" push starts on page 1 with the story that a downtown business group supports it. Beside it is the biggest story of the day. The $400,000 concrete lobster in Shediac is 25 years old. We are told, "Some thought investing in a huge sculpture was a waste, but few if any doubters remain today."

Does that sub-headline bring something to mind? It's supposed to. This is what's called propaganda by subliminal suggestion. It's supposed to make you think of how some, weird people today think an events centre is a waste of money; but they will '' be proven wrong", too.

And in case we miss that message, there is a long, long commentary column by m.p. Goguen boosting the events centre. And he also writes the whole column as an intensely political one (if, as I doubt, he did write it all by himself) to take shots at the Liberals, both federal and provincial. He makes no mention of federal and provincial conservatives who haven't done a whole hell of a lot, either.

The problem with this commentary is not simply that it's political propaganda. The problems is that a commentary editor allowed such a blatantly political statement by a politician to appear on the commentary page.

Another problem is that only two parties seem to have the right to get their views published in the Irvning press.

Alec Bruce, as well, sucks at the events centre teat. Note as well his last, two paragraphs in which he criticizes a commentary on this same page yesterday by the Liberal premier of the province. He scolds the Liberal leader for making a partisan attack on the Conservatives. Now read the final paragraph in Smirky Goguen's column  - the one in which he makes a partisan attack on the Liberals.

Since the start of the big push,  I  have not seen one criticism of the events centre proposal in this paper.

Quite apart from the question of ethics in publishing commentaries that are really political ads, and the ethics of beating the drums for those already wealthy people who want us to build them a new hockey rink, doesn't the editor read this stuff before he approves it? This is a remarkably sloppily run paper.

Tell you what. Big business, which owns the Irving press, in running a planned campaign to convince us that the events centre will produce profits right from the start. Big profits. Okay. So why isn't somebody named Irving building it? I mean, it's really not fair for us to get all those millions of dollars. (As it is, it's not fair for us to expect them to pay taxes or improve the minimum wage.)  $107 million would be small change for the wealthy. And they could probably borrow it interest free from the province.

Besides, Norbert is always telling us how government is inefficient and incompetent, and how only 'entrepreneurs' know how to  do things. So how can we even consider making this a government project?
Let people who really know how to make money handle this. They can pay for it; and they can keep the profit. And, lord knows, they will never get taxed on it.

They could name it "The Irving Events Centre and Philanthropic Hall of Irving Fame and Irving Chapel".

Or, the city and province could set a list of priorities for what has to be done, things helping the hungry and homeless, sustaining education, making university affordable - and giving some thought how, as the deadline for climate change getting closer we are going to cope with it in a city designed around cars, and heated by oil..
A7 has a story on the deterioration of rail safety in New Brunswick. I wouldn't worry about it. The Irvings need that rail to be safe for their oil shipments. Anyway, that Lac Megantic thing was all the fault of the driver.
The editorial, as always, is about money. The editorial writer never heard about people. But it doesn't matter. because it's unintelligible, anyway. One line caught my eye, though. It argues that capitalists (sorry, entrepreneurs) should get EI payment if they go broke. After all, they pay into the fund. ...... ummmmm - aren't the words entrepreneur and capitalist defined as taking a risk to invest capital? I mean, that's why we're told they're so superior to us. They take a risk. Wouldn't giving them EI spoil them, and kill their ambition to succeed?

Then there's Norbert. He really turns on the invective. He talks about how wonderful and quick the response of the world has been, and how most (decent) people in the world have given condolences to Nepal. And he expresses shame for those who are "so wrapped up in themelves" that they show how little they really care about humanity. They're worms.

Vintage Norbert. He specifically mentioned those who are critical of Harper for sending only five million. Well, I'm a worm, Norbert. I said that in yesterday's blog. So, tell you what. Challenge me to a public debate (We could announce it's to raise money for Nepal). You can even have your whole editorial staff there to help you.

1. Harper DID commit only 5 million. In a nation of poverty, starvation, and massive destruction of homes and services, and with up to 10,000 dead, 5 million will barely cover the cost of burials. Distributed to the living, it will buy each person half a hot dog. And Harper is the same man who is spending almost three times that on an ad blitz to praise his budget. Who's the worm? Where's the compassion?

2. There are thousands of people in this world who could give 5 million each without even noticing it. And I haven't heard of any doing it. Are they self-interested worms? You bet they are. But would you (speaking of worms) ever have the courage to say that?

3. As to the speed of our response, last I heard, Canada had not even tried yet to contact Canadians in that country. And we appear to be the stragglers in that. How's that for compassion, Norbert?

For the last half of his column, after he runs out of his tizzy fit, Norbert falls back on his old game of changing the subject by doing a quick read from a book about earthquakes to give us a lesson on what causes them.

Brian Cormier, as always, has a pointless and trivial story. He should be assigned to write the sermonettes on the Faith Page.

Canada&World leads with the trial of Senator Mike Duffy. The defence now  has only one argument which it is playing heavily. Duffy isn't the only one who's robbing us. Lots of senators are doing it. I must remember that defence if I'm ever tried for theft.

The violence in Baltimore, Maryland gets some attention - with a statement from Obama that there is no need for violence. (Somebody might say that to Obama about his dealing with the middle east, drone bombing all over the place, threats over Ukraine, and violent suppression, including murder and attempted overthrow of elected governments in Latin America.

Read American history books. They celebrate violence - the American revolution, the invasion of Canada, the many invasions of Latin America, the invasion of Iraq for weapons that were never there in the first place, the mass murder in Vietnam, the US-sponsored civil war in Syria, the use of torture, the push for war with Russia......

As for Baltimore, the rioting was against centuries of racism, discrimination, enforced poverty and, in recent years, gun-happy police. Thousands have been shot in the back, shot when unarmed, beaten to death...
There's video on youtube, a common type of video these days, showing an unarmed and unresisting black being suddenly smashed down the to sidewalk. He lay there, paralyzed and obviously in need of medical help. But there was no call for medical help. The police lifted up the paralyzed man. They handcuffed and shackled him!! And pushed  him into the police car. He died, still without medical care, a few hours later. He had a broken spine - very much like the case in Baltimore.

American police have been systematically militarized and brutalized for some years. They're not there to protect the public. They exist to keep people in line. The public is their enemy. That's what happens in a police state. American police killed 628 people in 2014, and they're on track for a new record in 2015.

Police are rarely charged, and almost never found guilty. Blacks and hispanics are the usual targets. For a black, just looking at a policeman in Baltimore could get him in deep trouble. American blacks have always been condemned to hopeless lives, usually in violent slums, and they have always been blamed for neglect created by white racists.

And Obama has never lifted a finger to help them. Even the Civil War didn't bring hope. Those who left the South found themselves working, if at all, in dreadful, often dangerous, conditions, very low pay, and in slums in the North. Those who stayed in the South were treated even worse. And no American president has ever lifted a finger.

If you think they shouldn't riot, suggest another course of action.

Meanwhile, take a look at the report on this below by CBC.

Canada has no wonderful record on the issue of racism. I learned that from a book by one of my students about the history of blacks in Montreal. She's Dorothy Williams, who wrote  "Black Like Me". It's an excellent book, but might be difficult to find. The best place to search for such books is to google George H. Junne Jr. "The History of Blacks in Canada."

The maritimes were particularly racist and, in Nova Scotia at least, still are. Nor was New Brunswick different. Poet Fred Cogswell frequently attacked Fredericton as a wretchedly ignorant and loathsome place, but never more cutting that when he wrote,

O snow-white city of cold, white Christians.
So white you will not cut a black man's hair.

Love Cogswell. I hope the schools still teach him. (But that's probably been ruled out by the Anglophone East School Board).
Excellent page B4 of the report of the auditor general. It's scathing on our treatment of native peoples, and on Harper's tough-on-ciime- regime. It makes the system far more expensive while at the same time it produces worse criminals when their time is up. I can believe it. I spent a good deal of time in prison working with assorted murderers and lesser criminals. I never met one who wasn't more dangerous when he got out that when he went in. And I saw no significant effort to rehabilitate them. Harper is not reducing crime. He's producing more dangerous criminals.

B5 has the story that Canadians in Nepal have not received any help or even contact from the Canadian government. Read that, Norbert. Read it, and tell us all about compassion.
Amazingly, there is almost no news about the rest of the world, despite some alarming and mysterious developments.

1. Why is Saudi Arabia in Yemen? And why is it trying to win a war by bombing? Well, for a start, it's army is small, badly trained, and as likely to shoot the king as any enemy. The air force is well equipped, and well-trained. So they send the air force -but you can't win a war by bombing.

And why did a prince give a hundred incredibly expensive cars to the pilots who did the bombing? Well, it could have something to do with keeping them loyal to the royal family.

But why are they attacking in the first place? Saudi Arabia hasn't attacked anybody in eighty years. It has always depended on the US.

Al Jazeera's take is that the US, which it has always depended on for defence, is abandoning it, that the talks with Iran are really to re-establish Iran as the great, Muslim power of the region, that the new king does not trust the US, and is attacking Yemen because the US does not want it to.

If that's the case, we may have Saudi Arabia as another failed state in the region - and there will be consequences to that.

2. Then there's the story of a ship from the Marshall Islands, going through Iranian waters, that was stopped when an Iranian warship fired a shot across its bows. Well, you're allowed to do that. Every country does that. It's legal to stop a ship in your waters. And if it doesn't stop, it's legal to fire a shot across the bows. The ship has now been released and allowed to go on its way.

So why has the US sent a warship to meet it? And is the US warship going into Iranian territorial waters to intercept the ship? That's illegal, and a cause of war. Add to that the probability that the US wants Iran out of the way so it can afford to devote its resources to an assault on Russia. It would prefer to do so by treaty because it needs to be done quickly, before Russia and China get their forces ready.

The war on Yemen by the Saudis (with US support) may wreck that plan by wrecking the treaty with Iran.
But if the US doesn't support the Saudi invasion of Yemen, what will happen in Saudi Arabia? There are some very, very dangerous games being played here, all to make money for the US very wealthy, and all with the potential to create a world, nuclear war. Watch for Saudi Arabia to be the next country  to develop a secret, nuclear programme.

How can a newspaper simply ignore this story?

But, oh, yeah. Isn't it terrible how those black people are using violence in Baltimore?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 28: a very confused world.

The above is a report from the Los Angeles Times (and other sources) on the rioting in Baltimore. It wasn't important enough to make today's Irving press - though there has certainly been warning. I grew up in a Montreal of racism,  hatred and abuse. But until I visited Baltimore, I had no idea of how intense racism, hatred and abuse - and ignorance - could be.

Some people will say the rioters are criminals and misfits. I'm sure many of them are. But that has nothing to do with it. There's a reason why they are criminals and misfits. They were born into a society which gave them little choice but to be criminals and misfits. And, for that matter, there have been criminals and misfits in every city in the world for as long as there have been cities. So how come we're seeing the riots now?

It's because another group of criminals and misfits have risen to power in the US. These are the billionaires who own the governments, the ones who murder and loot all over the world in the name of protecting democracy, the ones who manipulate the economy to drive up their profits while avoiding taxes, and spreading poverty and hopelessness to the rest.

Combine all that with government spies and with encouragement to police to kill indiscriminately - and you get the Baltimore riots. And it's going to get worse and spread to other cities. The spark in Baltimore is racism. But it will soon begin to dawn on many Whites that they are suffering the same abuses. (That's why most of our news media will look at this simply as race riots, nicely ignoring the dreadful abuse which has led to the riots.

This is the time when government should be acting to relieve the causes of this rioting. But it won't. It won't because it's owned by the very rich; and the very rich have long since proven themselves to be too greedy and too stupid to see what must be done.
The front page headline "Premier's events centre comments stir debate" is a story about nothing at all. It's simply part of the campaign to build support for an events centre so somebody can get a free hockey rink. And that somebody seems to have influence with the Irving press.

Then front page has a prominent story that most people who joined the Pollet River run to clean up garbage on Saturday weren't drunk. That's nice. But it was yesterday's story. And there's another non-story on the front page that a preliminary inquiry has been set for a cause in which a python killed two children. It was also on yesterday's front page. Hint - the fact that a date has been set for a preliminary hearing in late November is not a hot, news-flash.

The obviously big story of the day is that four teenagers were fire-bombed in their car in what looks like a random attack. That suggests we  have a very dangerous person wandering loose in Moncton. That should be the headline story - but it's almost lost at the bottom of the page.
A4 has the schedule for the Northrop Frye Festival.. I think it disgusting that we have a festival for a man who was an enemy of the Canadian people.

You didn't know that? Well, the Irving press hasn't mentioned it. But Frye was spied on by RCMP intelligence for years - by order of the government of Canada. Frye was a dangerous man. He was opposed to war. He even had the nerve to appear at public meetings to oppose war. Should we really allow people to read the work of this traitor?

On the same page "Young Tories want 'Progressive' dropped from party name." In the course of the debate over this, it's obvious that nobody in the party knows the meanings of the words progressive or conservative; nobody knows the origins of progressive conservative, And nobody knows much about John A. Macdonald.

Progressive does not mean 'socially progressive'. Originally, it was a western party to express local dissatifactions. But it soon split into two parts.  One became the socialist CCF. The other kept the name progressive but became the darling of big business. In the 1930s, the Conservatives were desperate for a leader. They turned to the Progressive leader of a very right-wing Alberta. He accepted, but on condition the party change its name to Progressive Conservative party. It had nothing to do with any socially or otherwise progressive policies.

Nor does conservative, despite what the party president says, mean fiscally conservative. The word 'conservative', roughly, means seeing society as a whole - something the Conservative party has never done.

And John A. Macdonald did not call himself a Conservative. He commonly called himself a Liberal-Conservative. Nor does it matter what he called himself because he had exactly the same "set of values" as today's leaders of those parties. That is, he had no set of values at all. He was a front for big business.

Oh - and he was not the founder of Canada. He was the first prime minister. But Canada was not his idea.

Always interesting to see politicians talking with authority on subjects they know nothing about.
The editorial is about education - but really isn't. It can't be because the writer doesn't know anything about education. So, as usual, it's really about closing schools. This is from a man who has proven his ignorance about what education is, what it requires, what it means for future, what impact this will have on our children and on society in general.. Nope.

It's all about saving money so that nice Mr. Irving won't have to pay taxes.

Norbert has a pretty good column on bilingualism and the intense and persistent bigotry of a small  minority who oppose it.

The commentary page continues its despicable practice of giving a column to a politicians as a sort of free ad. Of course, I expect they don't have to pay the politicians to write. And the Irving press is pretty cheap.

Alec Bruce seems to be shifting his position on environmental change. He recognizes that it's happening. He recognizes what is causing it. What none of us recognizes or even hears about is the massive change required for a world that is designed for the gasoline engine. Divisions like Evergreen development made sense in  a world of cars. They don't make sense today. But Moncton still encourages them. This city needs a lot of basic changes to survive. It has lots of uses for 107 million (and counting). It needs serious discussion of priorities, not a pep campaign to build a hockey rink.
Canada&World has another story on the Nepalese disaster, one that tells us nothing it hasn't told us before.
Harper is generously sending $5 million dollars in aid. Big money. It will come somewhere close to 75 cents per person - though less than that after Harper contractor friends get paid. Well, first things first. Harper has to spend $13.5 million on an ad blitz to sell his budget.

B4 has a story that should have been front page. There are over 400 Canadians in Nepal. Other countries are working to help its people who are stranded there. So far, Canada has done nothing, not even to try to contact them. That failure to help Canadians abroad has become a characteristic of the Harper government.

On B2, Harper's security advisor (and former head of CSIS) says the anti-terrorism bill does not have the abusive powers people think it does. Right. CSIS and RCMP intelligence would never be abusive of their powers. Right.

The RCMP has been abusing its investigative powers for fifty years and more. CSIS has been abusing them since its founding. They have spied on people for their politics. Oh, not Liberals or Conservatives. They spied on dangerous politicians like Tommy Douglas, the Baptist clergyman who terrorized millions with his introduction of medicare. And they spied on radical terrorist Northrop Frye. And they spy on vicious people like environmentalists and native peoples. And they report these people to the government and, in great detail, to the real government, the very rich who own Canada.

The anti-terrorism bill has little to do with terrorism. It's aimed at us, all of us who do not agree completely with the government on everything.

In fairness, though, I have no information that they have ever spied on the very rich.

Apart from Nepal, foreign news is both scanty and meaningless.For example, B5 has a story that "French, Australian leaders vow to step up anti-terror cooperation". So bloody what?

If they weren't going to cooperate, that would be news since they've been cooperating for decades. To say they're going to cooperate isn't a story at all. You might as well have a story headed, "Romeo liked Juliet".

There is a story on Syria - which really doesn't tell us much. But read the last three lines of it for a subtle style of journalistic propaganda.. After telling us that the national Syrian news agency says the Syrian military has killed many terrorists, it adds, "The government refers to those trying to topple Assad as 'terrorists'".

Duh...well, those trying to topple Assad include groups like Al Quaeda and ISIS.Aren't they terrorists?  Does the US have a patent on the word terrorist?  Do terrorists suddenly become good guys if they're trying to kill Assad?

Like the words  "Conservative" and "Liberal", the word 'terrorist' has ceased to have any meaning. It's simply to stir an emotional response, a sort of short cut to a conclusion that cuts out the unnecessary step of thinking.  The US is against terrorism only when it kills people the US doesn't want killed. But when it kills people the US wants killed - then its not terrorism any more. Very flexible.

In a reality, all war is terror. For the nation with the biggest stock of weapons in the world, and the biggest nuclear arsenal, and the most aggressive record to say that others are terrorists is absurd. But the public buys it.

So why can't Syria call Al Quaeda and ISIS terrorists? Because the terrorists in the US government and US big business want Syria destroyed and Assad dead. So when Al Quaeda and ISIS kill Syrians, they aren't terrorists. They're just funnin'.

And millions of people will believe this crap. Without thinking

I don't know how many stories this paper has carried about a python in New Brunswick that killed two children.  There's also a man living not far from New Brunswick who is facing trial for having beaten his father to death. In a lapse of Harper's tough on crime stance, we've heard nothing for months about this case. At this rate, Justin Bourque, who killed three police, will be a doddering old man before the Oland case will be resolved.

I'm sure all this has nothing to do with the fact that he belongs to a very rich family. And, if he is convicted, I'm sure Harper will demand a really tough sentence - like two weeks of community service at a school for rich girls.

Monday, April 27, 2015

April 27:Blah

It's hard to write every day on a paper that usually has nothing to say. Big headline - "Downtown centre funding to be based on 'evidence,' says minister. (Actually, the headline has a glaring error - perhaps two.
Is it using the world 'evidence' as a quotation? If so, it should have full quotations marks with dots to indicate missing words in the quotation,

If it is using the semi-quotation marks to indicate - God knows what - then the comma should be after the last '. To make a blunder like that seems a pretty casual approach to the front page headline.

The story, itself, tells us nothing. The minister says funding for the centre will be based on evidence. Would you expect him to say it will ignore the evidence? Anyway, the whole story is just a free promotion for the centre, repeating all the wild stories about what a wonderful and profitable thing it will be, how it will revive Main St., and how the whole world will be watching Moncton. We're in for a lot of this as the big push starts for a hockey team owner who wants a new stadium wants us to pay for it. Funny. He has lots of money. If he thinks it's going to be profitable, why is he letting us in on it? That's not usually the way his family operates.

Another story has a cutesie headling, "Snake case will wind inside courts..."  Now, snake case will wind .. might sound cute. But this is a case about two, young children who were killed by a snake. A real journalist doesn't make up cute headlines about that. This is a very basic rule of ethical journalism, not to mention of common decency.

Then there's a photo with the caption telling us the annual "... Pollet River run had a number of participants..." Of course, it had a number of participants. But "a number" tells us nothing. If some number, any number from one to billions, had not shown up, there wouldn't have been a run, would there?

Norbert Cunningham's column is its usual self. It's again, about how politicians are incompetent. They have been, he says, for the last 50 years. Read some history, Norbert, New Brunswick politics have almost ALWAYS been slime. That's because every government has been controlled by whoever had big money at the time.  That goes back to the days of the timber trade when you had to declare your vote in a loud, clear voice. And if your vote displeased the local timber boss (who was usually the only employer), then you were fired.

Nothing has changed, Norbert, except that you and your paper and your boss now control the whole province. And the real government is your boss. And you wouldn't dare write that. So you write of a world that doesn't exist, one in which all politicians are stupid or crooked, all civil servants are incompetent, and all billionaires are so sacred that you can't even write their names.

Norbert might believe what he writes. I hope so. It's better to be foolish than to be somebody's liar.

Craig Babstock has a good column on the ritual of prayer at the provincial legislature - though I don't think it the prayer is an issue of making religion a part of government.  And I've never see a a sign that any New Brunswick government has ever acted out of religious principle. But I do object to the hypocrisy of such a prayer.

Alec Bruce has an excellent column on the approaching danger involving us and the Northwest Passage.
The problem is, as he says, that no country outside of Canada recognizes it as being ours. That has become dangerous because global warming has made it a valuable shipping route - and has also opened the region to resource extraction. But I think Bruce is wrong in seeing Russia as the main threat.

It's true that Russia has greatly increased its military presence close to that region. It's true there isn't the slightest chance that Canada could defend itself in the North. But it doesn't have to. Any attack from Russia would bring an instant response from the United States.

It has nothing to do with friendship. The fact is that the US does not recognize Canada's claim, either. And it is the only nation that routinely sends ships through the passage without getting Canadian permission. It wants the passage for itself; it wants the resources of the region for itself.

For now, the US is getting away with it - and Harper has barely even blustered.

Yes, the Northwest passage and much of the Arctic might well be taken from us. But it will be taken by our good friends, the billionaires of the US.

Incidentally, toward the end of his column, Bruce mentions that all this is due to global warming. Oh? So climate change is happening? Then he might want to rethink all those columns he's written about how we don't need to worry about the effects of fossil fuels like oil
.There were five stories, over half of Canada&World, on the Nepal Earthquake. That's understandable, given the scale of the disaster. Unfortunately, all tell pretty much the same story. And there's a rather important part of the story that seems to be missing.

What is the Canadian government doing to evacuate the 400 or so Canadians trapped in that country? Other countries intend to evacuate their people soon. That's what countries are supposed to do. But not a word from Ottawa - and nobody has had the wit to ask.

The Canadian offer of five million dollars in aid seems pretty small, given the scale of this disaster. And it's coming from the prime minister who has just allotted 13,5 million to spread pre-election propaganda about his budget. He makes me so proud to be a Canadian.

There's a stunning story on B5, and rather a brief one given its importance. Our federal government has loaned $506 million dollars to Volkswagen - to expand its operations in the US and Mexico! There is no evidence of any benefit for Canada in this. Indeed, it is likely to cost us jobs.

B5 has a story that is more important than it might look. There has been more rioting in Baltimore over the death of a Black man while in police custody. The US has never dealt with its racism, not in its entire history. The Civil war was NOT fought to free slaves. In fact, Abraham Lincoln was doubtful about freeing them. The racism, once vented on Blacks, Jews, Irish, Orientals now has extended to hispanics.

Take a look at the protesters in the story's photos. The protesters are Black. The police are all White. In the 150 years since the Civil War, nothing has been done about an essential social change that takes generations at the best of times.And there's no doubt the violence is getting worse on both sides And it's being compounded as the American government is creating massive poverty by its corrupt and wild spending on the military and on wars to benefit white billionaires (who don't pay taxes).

There is no way out of this. The billionaires would never permit any way out. And no elected government will do anything because it is not possible to run for election without the support of billionaires. The result is a social collapse that can only get worse. It's a collapse essentially caused by the very wealthy and their ownership of government. The very wealthy will not allow any government to do anything to prevent the collapse because they don't make any money out of preventing it..In any case, free trade has made the American people unnecessary to big business, except as cannot fodder.  It's the very wealthy who are creating an explosion of national violence.

Nor can there be much hope for improvement as a result of the violence. Violence rarely promotes improvement. What is more likely is an open embracing of fascism in the US government  (which, in fact, has really happened already.) The US, like New Brunswick, has gone even beyond fascism as Mussolini defined it. Mussolini saw fascism as making the government and big business partners. The US and New Brunswick have gone way beyond that. They have allowed their governments to be taken over completely by big business.

Racism in Canada has declined - though we should never kid ourselves it's gone.  But our governments are tripping over themselves to create something very like racism, the increasing share of wealth held by the very rich. Even a glance at the New Brunswick budget, for example, shows our government working to create a larger class of the poor while diverting 'welfare' to the very rich. (It's really a form of racism. We define the poor as being poor because they're lazy  Then we define the rich, who are  usually born that way, as "talented" and deserving.

Well, if people like the Irvings are "talented" generation after generation, and other families are poor generation after generation, it must be genetic. In effect, the Irvings must be a superior race; and the rest of us must be inferior. That's no exaggeration.  I've known more than a  few very rich - and their bigoted wives and children.

That's why Gallant has lowered the boom on public education while demanding nothing of the very rich. For a province to give away its forests to a billionaire but cut spending on education shows Gallant's sense of priorities. New Brunswick, already an intellectual basket case, will suffer for generations to come over over those cuts. Gallant's only concern is to please the very rich - a lawyer on the make.

We are now, by the way, into Moncton's Northrop Frye festival, the celebration of a literary critic who was born here, whose statue rests at the door of one of the worst-funded libraries in Canada, a man whom very large numbers of New Brunswickers are incapable of reading, and very, very few capable of understanding.

Great sense of priorities, Mr. premier.

And all this is spreading from the US to Canada, to Russia, to China. In Britain, reports The Sunday Times.
the top 1,000 have doubled their wealth in the last ten years. (Of course, that's an old game for the British wealthy.)

Democracy is dead or dying around the world. The nail in its coffin will be the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal that Harper is very hot on.  Democracy is being replaced by a new aristocracy, largely an aristocracy of birth. And it's an aristocracy that is incapable of government, incapable for lack of brains, incapable for lack of any sense of morality, capable only of greed.

This world is in for some very stormy times.

Oh, like Harper, Texas is getting tough on crime. Students who duke school are being heavily fined - $2,000 and more. Of course, most are poor (and black and hispanic), and they can't afford $2000. So a thousand of so of them have been put in adult jails. The official word is that this will teach them that breaking the law has consequences. In fact, it won't teach them any such thing.

I was a champion school-duker. That's why I had to repeat grade ten, and got kicked out in grade 11. I knew that there were consequences. For me, the consequence was five  years of my life wasted in a menial job, years of night school wasted on a BA with grades so bad I learned nothing, and another year of full time school to show I really could do graduate work.

Duking school is a complicated problem. Poverty is a major factor. So are family and neighbourhood feelings about education - and there are many others. For a teen-ager, the most likely reaction to being jailed for it is simply to drop out, and face the world without an education.

Premier Gallant has made it clear. He doesn't give a damn for education. And the people of New Brunswick have made it clear, by their silence, that they don't give a damn either. I guess they all want more of their money to go to that nice Mr. Irving.

New Brunswick is going to pay one hell of a price for that.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

April 26: Stray thoughts on a Sunday - and a change of pace.

I didn't mention the Faith page yesterday.It was just too depressingly bad. The churches' activities are the usual card parties and spaghetti dinners. Leave your brains at the door, folks. The sermonette is, as always, from a primitive sect which is essentially about idol worship, and getting themselves into heaven. Most Protestant churches are not represented in the sermonette.. Nor are Catholics or Jews or Muslims or any other faith.
The only news story is about an American synagogue that is suing another American synagogue. Who could possibly bloody care?

This page is invariably lazy, sloppy, without any thought for the diversity of religions in this city and, however revoltingly pietistic  it might be, with no evidence that anybody on the editorial staff gives a damn.
Omar Khadif has been granted bail. About time. It was never legal under American or International law to put him on trial in the first place. That's why the US used a military court to try him.

He was 15 when he allegedly killed an American soldier during an American invasion  (which was also illegal under international law.) In such a situation, it is not legal to treat a 15 year old as a soldier. It is not legal to put him in a concentration camp. It is not legal to torture him.

Canada should have done what other countries did in situations like that. It should immediately have demanded his return to Canada. It didn't. It left him to illegal imprisonment and an illegal military court.

When Canada accepted his transfer to our prison system, it put him in the worst, possible conditions - maximum security. Why? It only recently moved him to medium security. It did so against the wishes of Harper, and Harper is now going to court to have his bail revoked.  Why?

As in most things Harper does, this is designed to appeal to the moron vote for the next election.

As for Khadr,I know little about him because we've never been told anything by our government. I do know that, when he was a minor, he was sitting with friends when American soldiers charged them, firing on them. Khadr, we are told, threw a grenade that killed one of them. Maybe so. Maybe not   I've never seen the evidence that he did. But note -

Khadr was not illegally invading the US at the time. The US was illegally invading Afghanistan. You have to expect people to shoot at you when you do that. The US, by the way, is the same US that invaded Vietnam (illegally)where an American officer ordered his soldiers to slaughter an entire village. All the villagers were civilians with no sign they acted as guerrillas. Some 800 were murdered, men, women and children and babies. For a long time our heroic reporters didn't mention it. Then an American reporter, after a long struggle,  got the story into print. The officer was arrested, tried, found guilty - and spent one night in jail. Omar Khadr has spent 13 years in prisons and worse.

We are never going to put an end to terrorism so long as we are terrorists.
For a good example of propaganda not just in news media but in entertainment media, There's a film on youtube called Retreat, Hell.  It's about the Korean war of the 50s, particularly of when General MacArthur, the supreme UN commander, decided to enlarge the war by invading China.

A huge, Chinese army stuck back. The UN army fled in panic. I have spoken to several Canadians who were there. "Jeezly, we dropped our guns and ran till we dropped, then got up and ran again." It was a chaos of terror and abandoned equipment.

Americans  (and Canadians and British, etc.) at home were dismayed. The Chinese were people we had pushed around and plundered for over a century with tiny armies. Now, this was the world turned upside down. The American government was alarmed. This story would kill home support for the war. The result was swift.

Every newspaper and magazine in North America carried the official story, the one that Washington wanted people to believe. This was not a retreat. This was a strategic withdrawal. (Very few readers actually knew what a strategic withdrawal was, but it sounded much better than retreat, and the nation was relieved.) The Pentagon also turned, as it often does, to Hollywood. The result was a movie about the retreat, though showing it as orderly. In the closing scene, we hear a soldier screaming that this is a retreat. And another soldier strikes a heroic pose, full-frame, holding up his rifle and saying, "Retreat, Hell. This is a strategic withdrawal."

The same sort of thing was done with the Dieppe raid in 1942. The force was largely a Canadian one that lost well nearly a thousand dead, and nearly 3,000 prisoners. It was unmistakably a disaster. But the government had to make it a success, so it told us we  had learned valuable lessons from the raid. Later, they would add that the lessons learned at Dieppe are what made D Day a success.

And that's all a crock.

The Dieppe raid was incompetently planned and incompetently carried out. Field Marshall Montgomery said so at the time. It was planned by Lord Louis Mountbatten. He knew nothing whatever about planning such a raid - but he was a great favourite of Churchill (who was, himself, a walking disaster when it came to military planning. It was Churchill who pushed the disastrous WW1 attack on Gallipoli.) So what were the valuable lessons? well,
1.If you mount a landing on a heavily defended shore, it has to be a surprise for the enemy. But the invasion fleet was spotted by a German ship which reported it to Dieppe. Mountbatten and friends knew that. They should have called it off immediately. They didn't. Valuable lesson...duh...A child could have figured that out.
2.Most of the Canadian tanks couldn't cross the beach. Valuable lesson?  If you plan to land tanks on a sloping beach that is covered in loose rock, you should first make sure they can get up the beach ...duh...
And so it went on.

A former student of mine published a book recently arguing that the raid was valuable because it helped a secret group to get important German documents.

Maybe. But even if so, the fact remains that almost a thousand Canadians died because of Mountbatten's amateurish planning. However, Mountbatten remained a pet of Churchill and went on to become Supreme British commander in India, then Viceroy of India, and then Admiral of the Fleet. And, of course, the father-in-law of Queen Elizabeth..
A reader sent me an excellent column by Ralph Nader. It's at

This is about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive free trade deal involving us,  the US, China and others.
Most of the people who comment on it seem remarkably ignorant of the financial condition of the US and most of its people. Nor do they get the main point of this deal - If gives big business in all these countries to act completely without any control from the governments that we elect. Harper has prepared the way by destroying the bulk of our environmental protection laws, especially as they affect water. And if we ever do learn that some form of pollution is killing us, we can't change it without giving big business the right to sue us for billions.

If you think this will make us rich, I suggest you look at countries where this sort of corporation freedom has existed for years. Start with Haiti and Guatemala.

With this treaty, Harper will sign away our right to control our own country.

Finally, when I taught high school many years ago, one of the students was a girl who was a lovely person in all respects. Her name is Jackie Ralph and, after school and on weekends, she sang with a group called The Bells. I remember them from the graduation dance at which they performed.(I was responsible for school dances,)

Within a few  years, they were internationally famous, one of the first Canadian groups to achieve that. Later, Jackie would be awarded the Order of Canada for her work helping women.

Now, there's a highly rated documentary about them. It's named after one of their hits "Stay Awhile". It is being shown in theatres across Canada - though I don't  yet know whether Moncton is on the list. If it isn't,
go to google - Jackie Ralph The Bells.  Several of the sites that come up have audios of them.

There's reunion of that class coming up in Fall. Not sure whether I'll go. It'll just be a bunch of old people.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

April 25: Good for Brent Mazerolle

"All Moncton schools to go under review".  That's the headline on A1. And, like every such report I've seen in this province, it's all about costs and efficiency as if education were a sort of assembly line. Everything gets treated as it were a business. But education is not a business. It's about people.  It's about giving people opportunity. It's about stimulating minds. It's about the future of this province. It's about families. It's about the very different needs of many students and many families. I have yet to see the slightest consideration given to any of this.

This government is simply about money and, more particularly, about slashing budgets. That shows weak thinking about education, and very weak thinking about economics. Nor have I seen any signs of human intelligence on this coming from the government, the ministry of education, or the anglophone east school board.

And has it not occurred to anyone there is a crying need for adult education in this province? This a gap that cannot be filled by volunteers. And it's a desperate need in a province that seems to create illiterates. The people aren't stupid. So when you see illiteracy and low literacy races in such a province, it indicates a serious social problem. Of course, if the province were literate and thinking, it would be impossible to sell copies of the Times and Transcript.

 The rest of the news in section A is the usual bubblegum.
The editorial is its usual, empty self. It could have all been said in four words. "Moncton will rise again" or, possibly, "Something must be done." Very inspiring.

Norbert starts well with criticism of the provincial government as being hypocritical.  But didn't Norbert notice that in the Conservatives? Then, in kindness, he says the government is inexperienced. Oh? Ten of its cabinet ministers were in the last, Liberal government just four years ago. This is not a cabinet of giggling virgins.

And,of course, Norbert says they must slash size and cost of the civil service because, you know, only private businessmen know how to do things. Norbert, have you never had the brains or the courage to demand we slash the cost of private business to this province? Particularly very big, private business?

Have you never looked at the staggering salaries and bonuses and perqs  for executives and for board members who do nothing much at all? That's our money, Norbert, sucked out of our economy by people who are too greedy to pay taxes, and people to whom you kiss up every day.  It's not a secret, Norbert. It's part of a massive redistribution of wealth that's been going on all over the world. And that's OUR money that's being redistributed. We have to make ourselves poor, we have to deny our children proper education, we have to deny services we need so the Irvings can put the extra money in their offshore bank accounts - and then occasionally flip a coin to us, and get a big story in your paper about how generous they are.                          
The Irvings did not make us rich, Norbert. On the contrary, we made them rich and made ourselves poor in doing it. Someday, Norbert, have the nerve to look where you have never looked, and say what you have never said. And then you'll be a man, my son.

I have often been critical of Brent Mazerolle for writing some pretty trivial stuff. But I remember, once, not long ago, when I mentioned there was real talent hidden in him.  And in today's commentary, he didn't hide it at all. This is about the use of drones - and it's well-written, thoughtful. This is what Brent can really do - and it's first rate.

Well, I have a small point of disagreement. He says terrorists hate us because of our way of life. In the whole history of warfare, I cannot recall a single war that started because one group hated another group's way of life.  Nor, for that matter, do I know what our way of life means.  What does 'our' mean? Is my way of life the same as the Irvings? Is it the same as that of a black kid in the ruins of Detroit? Is it the same as a single mother working for minimum wage?

No. We are hated by some people because we've been killing them. (Well, some people are touchy about that).  We've killed men, women and children by the millions. We've killed them to steal their oil.

Or now I think of it, maybe Brent is right. For five centuries, our way of life has been killing people by the tens of millions to steal their land and resources. Yeah. Maybe they do  hate us because they hate our way of life.

And Bill Belliveau does a solid job on the bunkum that Harper calls a budget.

The other "commentary" is a sample of the Irving press' distasteful use of commentary space as a free ad for politicians - in this case. premier Gallant. The premier, as one might expect, has nothing to say.
Canada&World actually had a world story on its first page. "Armenia marks centennial of killing of 1.5 million by Ottoman empire". So that gives us two genocides to remember. Right?


Genocide means the killing of people solely because of a race (whatever that means) they supposedly belong to. So, let's see -
1. Armenians
2, Jews.
3.native peoples in the Americas (perhaps the largest genocide in history).
4. genocide of millions and slavery of million of Africans in the slave trade.
5.genocide of people in Congo by Belgium and continued by other countries to this day.
6.Genocide of Vietnamese by France and the US. (These were not just wars. They included the deliberate killing of civilians and children because they were Vietnamese. That's genocide.)
7. Genocide of Iraqis - it's genocide for the reason given in 6.
8.Genocide by starvation of five million people of Ceylon by the British in World War 2.

The world has a long, long history of killing people for genocidal reasons. It's always been a common excuse for war because branding people as racially inferior serves as justification for killing them. Hitler did not invent genocide. Both Harper and Obama are now inciting hatred of Muslims, making them a quasi-race, and therefore justifying our killing of them.

There are a couple of quite disgusting Canadian stories on B3.

Bernard Valcourt, who is federal minister of aboriginal affairs, said, in effect, that native peoples were lazy so he was going to cut welfare to force them to get jobs. You bastard, Valcourt. These are people whose society we have destroyed. Kicking them out to create incentive won't work. These are humans. They have been raised in a society that has never had a chance to repair and adjust to what has been done to them. And nothing Valcourt says suggests any such chance on the horizon. These are people. And Valcourt, the man most responsible for them has not done a thing to deal with the problems they face. Instead, he has just classed them as bums.

Hint, Valcourt. Hire some people with some brains to handle what is going to be a long, long job of re-socializing. And cover the cost of it by getting the money from all your pet corporate welfare bums.

Here in New Brunswick, Education Minister Rouselle is cutting a subsidy to daycare owners which will either force them out of business or force them to raise fees for people who really cannot afford the raise.
According to Rouselle, this makes sense because they are businesses, and should expect to stand on their own as businesses.
1. They are not simply businesses. The people most affected by this cut will be real people, children and parents. Again, we have a politician who sees the whole world as though it were just a big business. It's not. It's people. It's societies. And this decision is damaging to both.
2. And where did he get the idea that businesses stand on their own? On the contrary, they depend heavily on 'subsidies' in the form of tax breaks, on public services like roads and railways and electricity and, if they're big enough, on outright gifts of millions of dollars, sweetheart contracts, and on international trade deals set up by those civil servants that Norbert finds so hateful.
It's dismaying to learn we have an education minister who seems to have large gaps in his own education - and no sense of what people are and what they need.

On B7, American General Petraeus, former head of the CIA, was found guilty of passing state secrets to his mistress. Gee. I guess the poor guy didn't know that was illegal. I mean, if you can't trust your mistress, who can you trust?

So he got hit hard by the courts - two years free on probation, and a fine of $100,000. But don't worry. He can still look forward to a secure retirement with this wife - or his mistress, or both. He makes well over a hundred thousand just for giving one speech.

Compare that to the treatment people who leak secrets out of their principled belief that people in a free country should know these things. They have to flee the country, go into hiding for years or seek refuge in other countries, live in fear of kidnapping or execution and, if brought back the to the US, would face life imprisonment.

On B8, take a look at the picture of a village bombed by the Saudis. Then look at paragraph 1 of the story, where it says that Saudi bombing has killed 500 civilians, including 115 children. This is a very poor country. It has been censured by the UN for kicking out the man who was its dictator for 22 years. Using that censure, the king of Saudi Arabia, with massive US weapon supplies and with the support of US ships offshore, bombed Yemen (which the US has been drone-bombing, anyway, for  years and killing thousands.)

So, the freedom-loving US is helping to kill the people of Yemen in order to bring back a dictator to that country.  And dictator-loving Saudi Arabia, has been killing them for the same reason. That's not only odd in itself. It's super-odd because in its whole history, Saudi Arabia has never shown any interest in helping anybody.

The heart-warming story is that the men who bombed and killed those people are getting a gift from one of the many princes of Saudi Arabia.  Yes, for killing defenceless and impoverished people, the 200 pilots will each receive a Bentley.(actually a Rolls-Royce for people who are too modest to be seen in an RR.)

I really don't know why two wealthy powers are attacking and killing the people of an impoverished country.
General Petraeus might know. But I really don't want to get into bed with him.

Then read the story above it on B8. It's about refugees from the middle east and Africa, mostly going to Sicily as the nearest haven. If you read anti-Muslim propaganda sites like Black Flag, they're are really terrorists. In reality, most are hungry, scared, desperate for some sort of security. But they first have to wait in concentration camps in Italy. They wait - men, women, and children - for two to three years in terrible and hungry conditions. There are now 63,000 in Italian camps and prisons.

When they do get out to disperse across Europe, they're not welcome. They have become Europe's new Jews. Europeans are now being encouraged by their leaders and their news media to hate and fear the newcomers, just as they were for centuries taught to hate and fear Jews. We are re-creating the Europe that cheered for Hitler (and not just in Germany; it was very widespread).

Nobody knows what the real numbers for refugees are. Many avoided the detention camps, and moved on to other countries. And we have no idea how many died on the way.

Who created this disaster? Mostly it was Britain and the US with their oil wars of public and private slaughters in the middle east and Africa, their destruction of existing societies, and their conversion of the whole area into a hell on earth. And they're still doing it. It's vicious ;it's pure greed; and it's wildly irresponsible. We're not going to see peace and stability again for a very, very long time. if ever... This is a side effect of the collapse of American democracy as the very, very wealthy got complete control over government. It happened in the US. It's happening in Canada. It's happened in New Brunswick.

And neither Canada (which is still killing people in Iraq and Syria) nor the US has accepted any responsibility or offered any significant help - just like the 1930s. And the result, as in the 30s, is likely to be serious disorder in Europe, and a new rise of fascism and racism.

All of this is the result of a capitalism allowed to run wild all over the world, and  the intervention, all over the world, of billionaires who think that being born rich gives them a talent and a right to rule over all of us. This dreadful mess is the creation of the arrogant fools that they are..

The is an item sent to me by a reader. It's a photo with text about the effects of shale gas drilling - you know, the type of drilling that years of experience has shown us is perfectly safe. This one is about the spectacular rate of earthquakes due to shale gas drilling in a part of the US. From zero, the number has risen to several hundred a year, with 800 in sight.

(Oh, I know. They aren't really big earthquakes. True. But they are earthquakes, and that  many of them has effects on water flows, etc. that we don't know anything about.  But don't worry. Gallant will find a comfortable reason to approve of shale gas drilling. After all, he's in the long, New Brunswick tradition of puppet premiers - and he's a young lawyer on the make.)
I can't vouch for the writer of this piece or for the group he represents (Independent Jewish Voices - Canada). I can't vouch for it because all my Jewish friends are in a different group - Peace Now.

However, I know the article is not an exaggeration, and it makes sense in the light of  statements Harper has made. Jewish groups who want peace and  cooperation with Palestine are, I know, under constant attack from the Israeli lobby which has taken control of community organizations which once did good work, like B'Nai Brith, and turned them into propaganda fronts.

One of the fronts is a weekly newspaper, The Cote St. Luc Suburban, whose editor is a very active propagandist. I lived most of my life in Montreal's Jewish community (and got turned down by many a girl because I was a goy. That means male gentile). Of some thousands of public talks I gave, over half were to Jewish audiences. My closest friends in Montreal were - and are - Jews.

But I became critical of the Israeli government. So Beryl attacked me on a web site as an anti-semite. The Israeli lobby is well-financed, well-connected, and quite ruthless. The claim in this article that Bill C-51 is partly intended to make it a crime to criticize Israel is quite possible. And I have heard Beryl speak in favour of such a position.

In reality, Harper has never done anything for Israel but talk big. Nor does Canada have any international standing worth talking about. We once did. But everybody today knows Canadian governments are puppets. However, Harper does need the Canadian Jewish vote's help, and he does need the help of the Israeli lobby to get that. And, as we all should know by now, he has no respect for democracy. So it would make sense for him to use such a bill as C-51 to forbid criticism of the Israeli government.

I suspect one of the reasons Obama dislikes Harper is because the US is the country that built and protects Israel even as Israel attacks and blocks American policy. And Harper gets all the cheers for doing nothing, but talking big.

Friday, April 24, 2015

April 24: why we ain't real smart...

In 25 years of radio, TV and print media, I was never once asked to cover or comment on a hockey game.  I guess that just makes sense. I mean, I might sound silly if I complained they were playing without a ball, or that the basket was too low for a jump shot. In the news media, only people who know the game are assigned to cover sports.

In all those years, though, I was often interviewed or appeared in discussion groups with journalists on education issues. Never, in all that time, did I encounter a journalist who had a clue about education. Only once was I interviewed by a reporter who was actually assigned to the education beat. And it was obvious from the start that she knew nothing about it.

Couple that problem with newspapers run on the cheap, like Irving press, which have so few reporters that they not only don't have any specialization, but don't have the manpower to study any story in depth, to do investigative reporting. For an example of the result, see A1 of the Times and Transcript "Province to cut 302 education positions".

This is a shallow and useless story which relies heavily on the government version of why it is cutting education spending. This is not the reporter's fault.He is not an expert on education. Assigning him to cover an education story is like assigning me to cover a hockey game. To make it worse, he isn't given the time to ask questions, to do some digging. And the Irving newspapers are almost entirely made up of stories like this.

Partly, that's because the Irving press is a private business. And, like all private business it is not in business to keep us informed or to create jobs. It's there to make as much money as it can while giving back as little as it can.

But education is important - maybe not as important as a hockey game or an events centre; but still important to children, to adults, and to the future of this province. So what will be the effects of cutting 302 positions be? What will be the effects from closing schools? Exactly what is an effective class size? (How large are classes in the private school the Irving children go to? ) What will happen to children with special needs? How will communities be affected?

The story justifies the cuts by saying that they, as a percentage, are lower than the  percentage of students we lost since fifteen years ago. What the hell is that supposed to tell us? What is an effective ratio of students to teachers? Maybe we were way understaffed 15 years ago, and now have the right ratio. But that takes a bit of investigation to figure out..

Then we're told the government is saving money by cutting $250 per teacher for teaching supplies. What supplies are being cut? How will that affect the classroom? How will it affect the students? I have never heard of an education system so cheap it had to cut off classroom supplies. Do the Irving children go to schools that have no classroom supplies? Don't our children have the right to education that the children of the rich do?

We are told that a Conservative MLA. Gary Crosman, was pleased to learn that not ALL cuts would be at the school level. He is described as a former teacher, school administrator, and education council member.
I know the type well. So I can understand why he got promoted from  being a teacher to a school administrator and then education council member.

I see no sign in this story that either the education minister or premier Gallant has given the slightest attention to the effects of these costs. Nor is there the slightest sign that they have any concept of what education is about or any thoughts about new approaches to the whole question. And New Brunswick is a province that desperately needs some  new thinking. It has good teachers. What it desperately needs is someone in government with a brain, and newspapers that inform the general public so it knows what's going on.

It will not affect the Irvings, of course, since their children go to private schools But there is a danger for all of us in that.

Modern public schooling originated in Scotland - and it led to an explosion of Scottish talent in the Sciences and Arts - one of the greatest such explosions in history  so that tiny Scotland has played a major part in the development of our modern world. In Quebec, I attended the English-Protestant schools which were based on the Scottish system, and were excellent. That was because the wealthier Scots who dominated Quebec business up to the 1970s had a stake in the schools. Their own children went to them. My high school graduated a son of one of Montreal's richest families and, about the same time, the son of one of its poorest families - Christopher Plummer and Oscar Peterson. We all had a chance.

The French Catholic public schools of the time were designed for the poor. For most children, it effectively ended at grade nine - if that long. The teachers were the cheapest available, and the curriculum heavy on religion. The wealthier French Catholics who sat on school boards wanted it that way because it kept their taxes down. And it didn't hurt them in any way because their own children, like Justin Trudeau, went to elite private schools. It is no coincidence that almost every premier in the history of Quebec has been a graduate of private schooling. (Levesque went to a private school, but never graduated from it.)

We're seeing the development of something similar in New Brunswick, with the rich getting private schooling for their own children, but seeing public education only as a place to save tax money - and, perhaps - to be privatized for profit. It's already happened in the US where  those who can afford it pretty well have to send their children to semi-privatized schools, while most children are left to founder in public schools that are overcrowded, in bad repair, often dangerous, and badly equipped. The result is that the US now is rated as having one of the worse education systems in the developed world. New Brunswick is going the same way.

But I'm so happy the Irving children will be in nice schools.

This is a 'news' story that tells us nothing, and comes from people who know nothing. It's a remarkably incompetent piece of journalism - not because of the reporter but because the ownership and management of the worst daily newspapers I have ever seen - with the possible exception of the New China News Agency.

Page 8 has a bigger story than the education one on a wrestling show of the cornball type that's coming to Moncton. The whole story is really just an ad..
The editorial is quite decent. The first time, I think, I've seen a decent one in the Irving press.

There's a big push coming for the events centre. Norbert Cunningham's column is, I suspect, the opening popgun for it. Most of it is vague and without evidence or argument. But, he says, we must spend much more than a hundred million on it because we need a centre that will be one of the wonders of the modern world - like the Eiffel Tower.

(Okay, I guess. But tough skating.)

There's a more intelligent letter to the editor on the same subject.

On the commentary page, Cole Hobson also has a pitch for the events centre, so I guess the big push has really started.. Most of it is pretty vague. And it would have been wiser for him to leave out  paragraph 7 in which he tells us that the Coliseum did NOT sell out for the the recent Wildcats' Game 7 for the title. And that was even counting all the Halifax fans who came up for the game. I've never heard of such a game not selling out.

Alec Bruce makes the good point that the Gallant government is not to be trusted on the research team it put together to study the effects of shale gas development. But that leads him to support acceptance of the research sponsored by Alward. I see no possible reason to trust either government on this. Let's get real.
Irving owns both the Liberals and the Conservatives. Whatever the search process is, we will never get an honest report from either party. Alec Bruce must know that.
In section B1, the province is asking private business to run some hospital services. Why? They say it will make it more efficient. Why? Damned if I know. Privatizing usually means the service will either be worse AND will cost more. The US has all its hospital services privatized - and it's a hugely expensive disaster. There is no reason to believe that private business is more efficient than government. That's myth that business has spread through the news media it owns.

Then there's a fascinating world story on B4 about how Obama has apologized for a drone strike that killed two hostages being held by Al Quaeda. He did not mention that, over the years, the US has daily been bombing many countries with drones with the result that thousands have been killed.

We also know that many, perhaps a majority, of those killed have been civilians including children. So how come we don't demand the figures? How come our news media don't even mention them? How come Obama doesn't apologize for killing all the other innocent ones?
1. Because Obama is a bigot who doesn't care how innocent or young the murdered might be as long as they're, you know, different from us.
2. He doesn't have to apologize to most Americans for the reason cited in 1.
3. He doesn't have to apologize to Canadians or the western world for the reason cited in 1 and 2..

Apart from those two stories, there's nothing in News&World.

But, if nothing's happening in News&World, lots is happening in the real world.

For a start, the bizarre confrontation between Iranian cargo ships (supposedly carrying arms to Yemen) and the American navy seems to have been called off. But one wonders why the US navy made it such a big deal in the first place.

The US sent 8 warships to block the cargo ships, 8 ships were very modern, very fast, and very heavily armed. And they were topped off with the nearly 100,000 ton aircraft carrier, USS George Washington with its high speed and its 90 or so aircraft.

All of that was sent to stop seven cargo ships plodding along, at best, at half the speed of the US ships. There are escorted by armed Iranian warships. Two of them. But Iran's navy has been tiny and poorly armed for thousands of years. So I checked google to see what Iran could possibly have sent to counter state of the art warships with missiles and the world's biggest warship.( The US also has more warships along the coast of Yemen.)

What Iran sent is an aging frigate (a small ship with a weak armament) - and a landing craft (of no sea combat ability whatever.) Talk about using a sledgehammer to swat a fly! Just one of the missile cruisers could have done the job in minutes, and with no risk whatever to itself. So why send that massive force?

In that same time period, Saudi Arabia stopped its bombing of Yemen. Why? In fact, the bombing of Yemen had not, till then, achieved much. If the Saudis expected to win, they had to keep up the bombing - and they had to add a ground attack. Why have they just stopped the bombing?

I certainly don't have the answer to any of those questions. But I get nervous when the US suddenly gathers such a powerful naval force within reach of Iran, and when the King of Saudi Arabia suddenly becomes a good guy and stops bombing. One gets the feeling that another power (maybe two or three)  was coming into play here.

The Irving press also fails to mention Greece which is in very serious economic trouble. The international bankers who hold the Greek debt want their money, no matter if that destroys the people of Greece. They insist (like the owners of New Brunswick) that it maintain an austerity budget, and cut back on "frills" - like public education and hospitals.

The Prime Minister of Greece has tried it. He says that it doesn't work. It just causes suffering. Of course that's what it does. That's why the depression of the 1930s went on so long. The bankers don't care. They just want their money. The same thing is happening in Ukraine - but the Irving press doesn't mention that, either. It is quite possible we may see another civil war in Ukraine, this time in the western section governed from Kyiv.

In general, the very rich are robbing the whole world. That's what the wage gap is all about. There is a massive redistribution off wealth to the very, very rich from all the rest of us. And austerity budgets don't work. Franklin Roosevelt learned that in the great depression. So did Canadian prime ministers Bennett and Mackenzie-King. It is not possible to make any country rich again by making most of its people poor.

In that great depression, it was not big business that saved us. It was government. It was government that created jobs and that controlled the greed of big business. What has happened now is that big business, itself, has become the government. That's why the wage spread is out of control. Business cannot run a nation..It has no competence whatever to do so. But it does run our nations. That's why so many in Latin America and Ukraine and Africa and the Middle East and, yes, North America are now suffering. That's why the news media owned by the very rich are busily teaching us to fear and to hate  so will ignore them as the real problem, and send us into war after war - for them..

The very, very rich, in their greed, have never understood that creating poverty will, in the end, destroy them, too. And, certainly, premier Gallant has not understood anything. Nor has prime minister Harper.

That's why it's essential to start one's planning not with questions of money but with questions of what the society needs. Then, you also look at the very rich, and see if we can really afford all the money (and lives) we hand over to them - and the very, very little they ever contribute to the rest of us.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 23: A very mixed bag...

On A1, "Fracking review terms released by Grits". The Liberal government has appointed a commission to examine any possible dangers in carrying out fracking. They don't tell us a whole lot. Apparently, the commission is to study the question in a 'New Brunswick context'.

What does that mean? I have no idea. Neither, I suspect, does anybody else. Nor would I ask because any reply is certain to be in more gobbledygook. Nor am I dazzled by the membership of the committee since it seems to be made up entirely with people of no significant scientific understanding. Then there's the other bit of the government's terms. The Committee must report on its evidence directly (only) to the cabinet. That means we will see only what the cabinet wants us to see.

Then, on A6, we find the two, hit stories of the day. One is a story, with photo, of the premier of Nova Scotia wearing a Moncton Wildcats hockey sweater because he lost a bet. Then there's another red hot story, with photo, that the maritime yo-yo championship is being held in nearby Salisbury, And you can be sure that anyone who works for the Irving press knows something about yo-yos.

There is yet another editorial on the closing of rural schools. And, once again, children and communities simply don't exist. This is the press that regularly beats the drum for an events centre to cost $105 million, probably closer the $200 million - a centre that is not likely ever to pay off. But, hey, the owner of the hockey team wants it. Duh.... Oh, I know. If the owner of the hockey team is so sure the centre would make a fortune, let him pay for it; and he can keep all the profits.

There's a good letter to the editor on the events centre, and it mentions something the Irving press has never told us. The city pays $88,000 every year to that team. Why are we paying that to a team that has a very wealthy owner? In fact, why are all of us being hit to pay a share of that money to a team that most of us never go to see? If Mr. Irving wants thrills, let him pay for them.

Norbert, again, writes about the events centre. But he's so vague as to be incoherent.

Rod Allen is back to his usual, overwritten column of painfully strained wit about himself.

David Suzuki has an excellent column on the damage caused by tiny bits of plastic in some toothpastes and skin softening lotions. Those tiny, tiny bits get into the food stream of fish and, eventually, of us - with fatal results. And this one is easy and cheap to fix. All if needs is to substitute those tiny bits of plastic with edible - and cheap - substitutes. And it needs governments with the integrity to demand that. (Okay. So it's not going to be easy to solve.)

Alec Bruce is excellent on that fraud of a budget the federal Conservatives  have introduced. This is an excellent read on how to understand a government budget.
Then, there's a gem of a  headline on B1. "Irving Oil critical of Reuters story." It's a prime example how to hide the real news. A headline is, course course, written by the editor. But the editor's name is not on it. Well, if I were editor, I wouldn't want my name on it, either.

Reuters Press has discovered that the provincial department of environment has, since 1912, issued warnings to Irving Oil in St. John, for delaying reporting environmental emergencies, including large spillage of oil, and refinery emissions that exceeded permitted levels.

Of course, Irving oil is critical of the story. But that's not what the story is about. Surely, it's about the warnings which Reuters discovered through freedom of information. The story can and should contain Irving's reply. But the reply isn't the story. The warnings are the story. This is a classic use of a headline to mislead people about a news story. Almost all of this story is about the Irving response, and still leaves us in the dark about the incidents. This isn't a news story. This is whitewashing some unattractive asses; and it's unethical journalism.
Oh , yeah - Early on, the story tells that that the Telegraph-Journal (also Irving) reported the incidents at the time. I"m sure it did. I'm also sure it didn't say much. That would explain why Reuters had to use the Freedom of Information Act to get a fuller story. If the T-J had covered the story, Reuters would have known. It's a big outfit. It has computers and everything. It would have taken just minutes to find the TJ story. But Reuters decided to go the freedom of information route. That tells you something about professional opinion of the quality of the Irving papers.

B3 has a story that the federal government's  spending of hundreds of millions of dollars will not solve our national security problems. True. They won't. But the story doesn't tell us why they won't.

Our security problems won't end for the same reasons the security problems of the US won't end. And no amount of spending will make them end. We have security problems because we  have governments controlled by oil billionaires. And the oil billionaires have killed Muslims by the millions, driven more millions of people into poverty, and destroyed whole nations. And some Muslims are shooting back.

Isn't that evil of them? Certainly, they aren't good Christians spreading peace and love like our oil billionaires.

You want to stop Muslims from trying to kill you?  Suggestion - stop trying to kill them.

These oil billionaires are the same reason we aren't getting any action on green energy. It's because they don't make money out of green energy. And they don't make money out of cutting back on fossil fuels. That's why Harper has the developed world's worst record for environmental action.

I don't worry about Muslims killing me. I'm much more likely to be killed by the behaviour of oil billionaires and the Harpers who kiss up to them.

B5 has a story from Associated Press and its airsrikes on Yemeni rebels. As usual, it gives us lots of detail about nothing. But paragraph four has a fascinating line in it. The attacks are aimed at restoring ''Yemen's internationally recognized president..."

Have you ever read a story about Harper or Obama or Putin being an internationally recognized leader of his country?  In fact, all leaders in the world are internationally recognized by most or all governments. The American dictators of Haiti and Cuba were internationally recognized. Adolf Hitler was intenationally recognized. So what's that line supposed to tell us?

Directly, it tells us nothing whatever. But it's there because it sounds good. It sounds as if the exiled president is a person who deserves to be president - and the rebels are evil.

Actually, the president was a much-hated dictator of Yemen for some 20 years.- and a good friend of another "internationally recognized leader", the dictator-king of Saudi Arabia who, though a very, very extreme Muslim, and one fond of beheading, is very, very popular with our oil billionaires.

The rebellion in Yemen began many years ago as an uprising to create a democracy. But Saudi Arabia and the US don't like democracies That's why the Saudi's are attacking Yemen, and that's why the US is supplying the bombs. In fact, the US has been murdering Yemenis for years using drones and special ops killers.

The story also mentions, in the last, four paragraphs, that a US drone killed seven "suspected" al-Quaeda terrorists. "Suspected" means they really aren't sure who they killed. They've killed thousands like that in Yemen, Pakistan, etc. God bless America.

A few lines down, it describes them as militants. That doesn't mean they actually were militants. The term is commonly used in our news media to mean 'people of military age'.

The unasked question is - why has Saudi Arabia not sent in ground troops? After all, you can't win a war with air strikes. Saudi Arabia does have an elite corps of excellent and well-equipped troops. But it doesn't have nearly enough of them to fight a war. For the bulk of its army, it relies on contracted mercenaries - who have a limited value in battle.  Just as big business does not exist to create jobs and prosperity, so it is that mercenaries do not fight to risk their lives.

So why have the kings of Saudi Arabia never raised a national army? I suspect that's because they can't be sure which way it would shoot.
On C4, student columnist, Aurelie Pare, has her usual, excellent column on dietary heath. Sometimes her columns on diet leave me feeling guilty about my food choices. But today, it's Vitamin D, and she advises lying in the sun a lot.

Hey! I can do that.
There are, believe it or not, stories that the Irving press missed.    This one is a story about the spectacular rise of rail to transport crude oil. It has risen  to 140,000 carloads last year, and is  still rising rapidly..

The railwys say that, despite regulation, its very safe as almost all the trains get through. That will be cheering news for the folks in Lac Megantic. And maybe in Moncton.

85 people own half of all the wealth in the world. They also control their governments. And they are most unlikely to pay taxes - and that means most of that wealth is lost forever. The result - spreading poverty, lots of wars like the 'war on terror', 'defence of Ukrainian democracy', and the increasing danger of nuclear war.
(Their are so many people to hate these days, I can't keep up - Russians, Muslims, maybe Greeks, possibly Chinese. You, dear readers, and I (and the very rich) may be the only pure people left on earth.)

And the proportion of money held by just these 85 is half and rising quickly. And that doesn't even count the small timers like the Irvings.

This link, from a reader,  is about how the Canadian government's budget has handed out billions to the very wealthy - you know, the ones who don't pay much in the way of taxes.

Also from a reader, this is a chilling account of how government spying has turned us into a police state.

This, too, is from a reader. It's worth reading in itself; and it gives us a sample of what to expect in The Brief, from NBmediacoop. I find it always worth a read.

And, as I prepare for supper, a big story that Norbert missed because he follows only Irving news. You need all the stories on this one - so I'm sending you to google for the site that has all of them. (And this, by the way, is what is called investigative reporting - as compared to the Irving press' stenographic reporting.)

Go to google, type -  over billing CBC Irving    There's a whole page of them.

Discover why Norbert hates the CBC, and why Harper would like to close it.