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.

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