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.

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