Tuesday, April 14, 2015

May 14: Big flash!

Tomorrow, May 15, is registration day for "Lies our history teachers told us", a course for seniors here in Moncton. Registration is noon to two or so at "Rose Hall"  in People's Park Tower on St. George St.

I note that in yesterday's blog I didn't mention the editorial or comment pages. Luckily, there was nothing in them worth even reading.

What is astounding is the ability of the Irving press day after day after year after year to miss important stories.

Two days ago, The New York Times (by no means a critic of the US) carried an astonishing story. It reported on a survey of living conditions around the world in order to compare countries.

Remember the wonders of medicine in the US where the health services are the most expensive in the world because they are run for private profit?  ( Something Norbert would admire because he knows businessmen are the only ones who know how to run anything.)  Well -

The US comes 30th in the world in life expectancy. Worse. It comes 55th in women surviving childbirth.

It comes 38th in quality of education. (I'm not surprised. I have taught some students from places like Princeton and Yale.)

And, get this, the US stands 49th in high school enrolment.

There's a rich mythology about the US that runs from its earliest history to the present day. But the truth is that mmigrants did not come as "huddled masses", and were not swept up in the "American dream". They were brutally exploited as cheap labour, working in very dangerous conditions. They moved into vile slums - and commonly stayed there. for generations. Cases of rags to riches were extremely rare.

The countries that scored best in the ranking were Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Iceland, New Zealand - and - Canada. Much of Canada's higher position was due to the influence of churches which were major forces in advancing public schooling, and such social services as medicare. However, we are sliding due an upper shark class much like that in the US who use their news media ownership to tell us how wonderful they are - and to blame anything t hat goes wrong on Muslims and "leftists".

Note that Britain does not score well. That's because Britain, for all the wealth it looted around the world, was controlled by an elite of aristocrats and capitalists who made sure the wealth stopped with them.              
I saw no mention that Canada is sending 200 military "trainers" to Ukraine. Now,  Ukraine is at some distance from us. Russia is next door to it. What happens in Ukraine, if the US continues its aggressive action along Russian borders, is of legitimate concern to Russia. What possible concern is it of Canada - or the US?.

Are we there to preserve Ukrainian freedom and democracy? That is what we'll be told. In fact, no country goes to war to protect anybody's freedom and democracy. (and, yes, that includes both world wars.) Indeed, the US has become the world leader in  destroying freedom and democracy. It has spent over a century destroying them in Latin America, in Asia, and more recently throughout the middle east - which is why we are seeing a rise of 'extreme' Islam.

Canadians are now killing people in Iraq and Syria for reasons that have nothing to do with us. Harper, without declaring war, has sucked Canadians into risking their lives for.....what? And it's a war that is likely to get much bigger. Now, he has planted Canadians in Ukraine (but not really at war...I mean, not really...)
And that's another one that is likely to become very much bigger.

And the Irving press doesn't even think this worth reporting. My, those news editors must be really overwhelmed by the task of picking lint out of their bellybuttons.

On the Front page of today's TandT, we have a big story about the Lest We Forget  fundraising dinner and military display at the Coliseum. 700 will be there. But it's black tie. So that means it's really just for our "leaders". To emphasize that, the announcement was made at a 'by invitation only" dinner at the Delta hotel. And an even bigger thrill, community leader Robert Irving was at the head table.

Mr. Irving said, "...we want to remember their service and sacrifice...." That combined with a big display of weapons at the Coliseum means that this will be a glorification of war - something like watching an old, John Wayne war movie.

I quite agree with the need to remember our wars, and to remember those who suffered for them. Too bad I have never heard one of these affairs that ever had a mention of the suffering of parents, wives, and children left behind. I have never heard about the men who served because it was not possible to feed their  families any other way in the Canada of 1939. I have never heard about the kids who signed up and who died in their thousands because they believed the glory, glory, glory crap that billionaires spew about war so they can get other people to do killing that makes them richer.

Before we send people off to war, we need far, far more information about why wars are fought, and for whom. Did Honorary Chairman Robert Irving cheer for those who went to fight in Afghanistan? Why? What were they fighting for? What did it have to do with them or us?

What did Korea have to do with us?

Why  were we killing Dutch farmers in South Africa over a century ago? It certainly wasn't because they were a threat to us. Nor did it have anything to do with democracy. After all, it was our side that set up South Africa as a white supremacist society. Will we be celebrating that?

Why did 60,000 Canadians die in World War 1? We were at war, of course, when Britain was at war in those days. But we didn't have to take any part in it. Was it because we were of British descent? No more so than Americans were. And the US didn't join until 1917. Does that mean American must be cowards?

Why did we send troops to fight in Siberia in 1918 - the war most Canadians have never even heard of?

Why did we go to war in 1939? There's another case where our good friends in the US didn't join in for more than two years.

It would, of course, Mr. Honorary Chairman Irving, be a thrill to see you on such an occasion. And I certainly think we should remember the sacrifices that have been made for us. I also think we should learn more about why those sacrifices were made so that we can be confident in future that we have a hell of a good reason for Canadians to be sent to kill and to die.

I note that the purpose of this gathering of our esteemed leaders is to raise $700,000 for the military families fund, among other causes. If we are so bloody grateful, why is it necessary for our business leaders to get themselves stuffed at a black tie dinner to fund a charity for them? Why aren't our governments doing that? Why aren't the Robert Irvings of this world telling them do it? Why aren't they volunteering to pay taxes for the cause?

This whole affair looks very much like a glorification of war. It's simple-minded, and it couldn't come at a worse time for the state of human affairs.

Mr. Irving appears again on  page A3 in reference to the useless Reading is Wild programme. It mentions that he is, besides being a towering figure in JDIrving Ltd., President of the Wildcats hockey team. Wow! What a great guy! I note he is just tickled pink that the Wildcats are somehow connected to reading, and that this makes them a part of the community fabric. What a pity I can't even guess what that statement means.
On the editorial page, the cartoon is pretty good. And that's it for both editorial and commentary pages.
Norbert, as usual, discusses a topic of which he knows nothing but has strong opinions. It's the balanced budget again. Gotta cut goverment. Fire teachers. Close schools. In short, he suggest doing what we did in the 1930s depression. It was, as Norbert should know, a disaster then, and it will be a disaster now.

He also says that Presmier Gallant represents the values of a liberal society. What are the values of a liberal society? I have no idea. I don't even know what his terms mean. And neither does Norbert.

Then there's a long commentary about how the annual Speed Show in Moncton has a new owner. So what?

 Alec Bruce no more than Norbert to say about the economics world. Mustn't offend the boss.

Look, kiddies, the world has been undergoing a massive change in money and power for at least 30 years.
Money and power have become the same thing. Yesterday, I made a mistake in saying Hilary Clinton is raising hundreds of millions to run for president. In fact,s he is raising at least 2.5 BILLION. So will her Republican opponent. And they won't raise that with pancake breakfasts and yard sales. That can only come from the very rich - and they expect a return on their money.

There is no American democracy. The US is ruled by a small number of very wealthy people called an oligarchy. That's increasingly true in Canada - and it's always been true in New Brunswick. The wars of the European empires were fought to benefit oligarchs. So were the many US invasions of Latin American countries. (and the US war against Japan and Germany. (The US was in it to steal the empires and to control the markets of its 'friends'.)

Like many people obsessed with wealth and power, our oligarchs are not bright. As they have made themselves much richer and us poorer over the last 30 years or so, they have kept us helpless in a fear that we're all going to be killed by Muslims or Cubans - well - just about anybody. So far, it's working. In fact, I suspect people like Norbert and the editorial writer for the TandT actually believe it.

But, as I said, the oligarchs are not bright. The income differences are going to get worse. The wars are going to get bigger. The simple-minded and irrelevant drivel published by news media like the Irving press won't work any more. (Notice that the irving press has never,  so I far as I can remember, used the word oligarchs, has never mentioned the power of corporations as a major source of our economic problems, and we hear the name Irving mentioned only when Irvings sponsor anti-educational crap like Wild readers.)

There is worse coming and, as it comes, expect violence. Expect lots of it, probably starting in the US. I have no idea where that violence will lead - perhaps to more intelligent, honest and socially oriented politicians than we have now. Perhaps to even worse fascists and racists than we have now.

It would be better, far better, if Canadians could rethink how our society should be managed, and could rid themselves of the Harpers and Gallants, and make the Irvings subordinate to government. But none of that will happen by reading utter crap like the Irving press.

There is nothing in World&Canada News.  Well, maybe two stories. B5 has the story on how Russia is selling Iran anti-aircraft missiles (which are of no value for attack, only for defence.).  Netanyahu, who has nuclear missiles - which are for attack -  and who has many times threatened to attack Iran, is all upset at the "threat". Apparently, it's not fair for Iran to defend itself.

A lawyer, acting for a group that is taking the case of the anti-terrorism bill to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality, has asked the government (through Access to Information) to make available its notes and memos on the constitutionality of the bill. The government says there is a charge of almost $5000 for that. It seems it would take some 477 hours to find that information.

Wow! They must have some tough filing system.

And, at that, the government says it still might not let anybody see them. It is implied that minister of justice Peter MacKay is one of those who might block it.

Now, there's a man who makes us proud to live in the maritimes.

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