Monday, April 6, 2015

maybe it's just me....

I found today's paper profoundly disturbing. It began with a picture on B3. It's on the centre right of the page. It's a photo of a man standing in a large area of broken rocks, just rocks. There are no remains of streets or foundations or doorways of what used to be a village. The people of the village, the few who are left, are standing on a hillside in the distance, looking down on the rubble that now covers the bodies of their wives, husbands, children, friends....

The picture was taken in Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world. It's just one sample of villages, towns, cities all over the middle east and Africa - most of them poor and almost defenceless - that have been ......what word can I possibly use to describe what has been done to them? How can I describe the utter hopelessness of it?

The village was destroyed by air strikes from out good friend, Saudi Arabia, using weapons made in the good, old USA and other western countries - including Canada. And Canadians have been similarly attacking villages in Libya, Iraq, and now Syria. We have lots of weapons to use against the poor and defenceless. The weapons industry has become, since World War Two, the biggest, most profitable and most corrupt industry in the US and, to a lesser degree, in other major powers.

Why is it happening? Why, in particular, is it happening in the middle east? Is it because Muslims have hate and destruction of each other and of us in their genes?

That's not possible. It it were, they would have become extinct centuries ago. This massive scale of destruction and suffering - and insanity - began with western intrusions through the twentieth century, intrusions that have picked up markedly in recent years.

Al Quaeda is terrible? Right. So what can you say about American money, weapons and training that created Al Quaeda to prey on other Moslems? What can you say about American money, weapons, and training that created ISIS?

The US, like Britain and France before it, is plundering the middle east and, like Britain and France, killing any attempt to form democracies or stable societies of any sort. It is also playing the old, imperial game of turning its victims against each other to kill each other.  The US has become everything it says its revolution was against.

And behind it all are the most evil and destructive people of our time, the oil billionaires who want Muslims fighting each other so that they can go on making themselves rich and their victims miserably poor, ant living in  terror.

They call Muslims who resist them terrorists  (and the news media they own and control pass that message to us.) The reality is that the wealthy of the western world are among the worst terrorists in history. Here in Canada, our politicians and news media have made us so fearful that we hate those "terrorists". People vaguely connected to them killed two Canadians just months ago. Therefore, they are a threat to national security. So we are now killing much more of them, creating scenes just like the one on B3. I'm sure that will make things much better.

Meanwhile, we ignore the threat to our security that caused the deaths of 47 people in Lac Megantic.

This is insane. Our economic and political leaders are insane. And we are insane to follow them.

Page A1 has a  big story about why children in rural schools spend more time on school buses. And it's very scientific. The story says they are in the bus longer because of rural geography. Well, that clears that up. (It means their houses are farther apart that those of kids in town. Who woulda guessed?)

Skipping all the even sillier stories in Section A takes us to the editorial page. The editorial writer says our universities need to be nimble in their economic management, then the writer shows that he he or she has no idea what being "nimble' means. Oh - there is a hint. The changes have to be long-range, and sweeping. Well, that pins it down.

There is also one line that's a howler. It says that universities must learn to operate like businesses do. Sounds good to me. Yes. Just like businesses, university should wildly overpay their chief officers, tell government not to tax the chief officers, and get forests handed out to them on the cheap. Plus other goodies, Just like business.

Norbert comes closer than usual to having a good column. He points out that Harper could well win the next election because he has played to people's fears - like fear of terrorism, fear of criminals. He does it by responding with measures that many people, out of their fear, welcome - like putting criminals into jail forever and ever, and setting up a police state to "protect" us against terrorists.

These, as Norbert suggests, are measures that have never worked, don't work now, and never will - but they get the votes of the brainwashed. Then Norbert goes off track.He suggests this is because Canadians have become more "small c conservative."

Norbert, you don't know what "conservative" means, and you destroy a fine tradition whenever you misuse it. Canadians have not become more "small c" conservative. If they had, they would never vote for the Stephen Harpers of this world. They have become more frightened, more fearful, more hating, more bigoted, and dreadfully badly informed. And that is largely due to the manipulations of the Stephen Harpers of this world, the lack of professional ethics in private journalism, and the crushing power of the billionaires who own our private news media.

Alec Bruce has an excellent column - and rather a daring one for an employee of the Irving press. He recognizes the threat of climate change and, by implication, accepts the cause of it.
In Canada&World, the big story is about a nurse from New Brunswick is going to West Africa to join the struggle to fight Ebola. I certainly applaud and admire her for her courage and commitment. But why is the story of her mission so much bigger than the coverage allotted to Dr. Cleary when she went? One has to suspect the Irvings don't like Dr. Cleary. Perhaps that has something to do with shale gas.

B2 has an important story about a Canadian (born in Syria) who was arrested by the CIA and flown to Syria for torture. It seems he was quite innocent of any wrongdoing. Harper knew it. And Harper never lifted a finger to help him. This is the Harper who happily sends Canadians to kill people in Iraq and Syria for a war really manufactured by the US. Worse. The RCMP was involved in the arrest and handing over of this Canadian.

If you ever get in trouble, don't expect Canada to help you. We've fallen a long, long way.

There's really nothing else worth reading in World news. All we get is bits of stories that are highly biased and, anyway, don't tell us anything useful about the incidents they deal with. The only one that caught my attention was the photo of the rubble on B3.
How come they're ignoring the Ukraine? We are very, very close to a nuclear war on that one. The American government obviously wants a war with Russia. More accurately, American billionaires want a nuclear war with Russia. Winning it (if that's possible) would give them dominance of world markets. And, if they want that dominance, they have to move now or never. The American empire is in serious trouble. Worse, other powers like China and India are rising fast. American big business has a window of opportunity. Using it will kill at least tens of millions - and probably much more. But, hey, it's now or never.

We are being fed the line that Ukraine is a democracy-loving country that Russia invaded. The truth is the legal government of Ukraine was overthrown by US subversion, and the present Kyiv government is made up of international bankers who are bleeding it dry, and of genuine, old time Naziis.

Obama  has been pushing Putin to back off. But that's not going to happen. As well, China would have to support Russia.

Western news media and governments are almost all under the control of a small group of people who have no principles at all - except greed. And they have brainwashed most of the western world to accept their thinking.

This thinking is typical of the insanity of a collapsing empire. And we are conditioned by most of our news media to be equally insane. That's where Harper gets his votes.

I don't think we begin to realize that so many fundamentals of our society have vanished. Christian churches, once central to our world, have long ago decided to opt out, to do nothing, and to offend nobody. They have made themselves irrelevant, and the very concept of Christianity has largely disappeared. (as has Judaism -except as ritual -  in Israel). Democracy has become a dead idea that never did fully catch on.

And where does this take us? If the very rich get their way, then even if they get their war with Russia and win it, we will see a social collapse even here in the Americas because the very rich are too greedy and too arrogant to maintain a contented society. We will see profound domestic violence and, indeed, the US army is already training for that.

Can we recover our basic social structures in time to prevent this? Can we recover democracy? Can we get honest news media? Some concept of morality, of ethics? Can we get capitalism under control?  Can we develop a society that asks questions?

I haven't seen much sign of any of this.

Sorry to be so pessimistic. I think it happened because I'm an historian; and because I read that story of a few days ago about Robert Irving becoming the (decorative) head of an organization to give greater meaning to Nov. 11 when we remember those who suffered an died in our wars.

What bothered me about it is that such a concept of what we owe our veterans is based on lies - and that does our veterans no favour or honour at all.

Contrary to the myths of our leaders and history books (and, I regret to say, most of our clergy), none of our wars from 1900 to the present day was fought to defend freedom and democracy. I don't understand how people can even say they were. The Boer War had nothing to do with freedom and democracy.  World Wars 1 and 2 were fought to stop the rise of German and then Japanese capitalists who would interfere with the profits of our capitalists. South Korea, when we went "to defend its democracy". was a dictatorship before we got there, while we were there, and for many years after.  And why didn't we help Spain when Germany was bombing it was a dictatorship.

The US went to war in 1917 and 1941 for freedom? Really? So why did it wait so long? And how come when those wars ended, it didn't free any of it colonies? And if we were fighting for freedom  in 1939, how come major capitalists in Canada and the US financed Hitler? And spoke admiringly of him?

And how come our major ally in World War 2, the one who, more than any other, made it possible for us to win, was one of the most brutal dictatorships in history - Joseph Stalin's USSR?

Far from building democracy, we have helped to kill hundreds of thousands of Afghanis so we could install one of the world's most corrupt governments. (Nor is it clear to me how Afghanistan was or is a threat to Canada. Or anybody.) And exactly why were we killing in Libya and now killing in Iraq and Syria? And, if we're so keen on democracy, how come we aren't attacking Saudi Arabia, the most severe dictatorship in the world?

What we owe the dead on Nov. 11 is not sentimental blubbering of lies about why we sent them to die.. What we owe is to take an honest look at why sent them - and to make sure  we don't do that to future generations.

I doubt very much that Robert Irving's committee will take that approach. More likely, it will have lots of expensive and large, self-congratulary dinners with, between burps, toasts to those who died.

And those worse than dishonest. It's contemptible.


  1. Graeme, talking about Nov 11th, I have a letter written by my great Uncle. Sent to one of his friends while my G Uncle was on he Front Lines during WW 1. How can I send a copy to you?

  2. Wow. I'd love to see that. Send it to