Sunday, May 31, 2015

May 31: No paper today. But things to talk about.

Some days ago, I promised to take a look at why New Brunswickers are so passive in matters of public affairs. And, trust me, they are passive. They don't know what's going on; and  most don't want to know. I have more than a thousand times spoken on public affairs at large assemblies in other parts of Canada, The Netherlands, even China to audiences of hundreds each time.

Yes, I know those are all bigger than Moncton. But, usually, the audience was from a much, much smaller potential audience than Moncton provides. Very often, it was in a synagogue or a church or a library with a membership much smaller than the population of Moncton.  New Brunswick has, by far, the most passive population I have ever seen. Why is that? I think there are two reasons.

1. One goes back to the earliest days of British rule in this region. New Brunswick was a desirable colony because it was a great resource of timber  (Just one, three-decker battleship in the huge British fleet used 150 acres of timber.) So it was that cutting timber became far the most important source of cash wages in this colony.

But only certain people got licenses to cut timber. So the cash wages in each license district could come only from the man with the right government connections - and there was only one such man in each district.

Commonly, that timber baron was also the one elected to represent the district politically. And there was, for many years, no secret ballot. You stood up and told the clerk loud and clear the name of the one you were voting for.

Vote the wrong way - and you would probably never work again.

2. New Brunswick has a very large rural and small town population and, in fact, much of its urban population is not far from those rural roots. For people living in such small group environments, to be different is to be isolated. It's important not to be different. It's important to fit in. New ideas, different ideas, are not welcome until they've been aged a century or so. They are particularly unwelcome in those in our industrial towns dominated by our present-day version of the old timber barons. There, new ideas can not only isolate you; but get you fired.

These attitudes thrive even today in the province's cities where most people vote for one of two parties, both of them owned by the timber baron, and neither of them with any sense of purpose beyond getting elected. So the province will elect Liberals, get mad at them, elect conservatives, get mad at them, and elect Liberals to get mad at again.

Neither the parties nor the voters have any idea what it is they want except, perhaps, in a few minor issues. Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives nor the voters have much sense of what is desirable or needed. How could they? Most have never even talked about it. That's why the churches have pancake breakfasts and gospel hootenannies, but little to no discussion about real life. That's why we get so many bland, pie-in-the-sky sermonettes on the Faith page.

Nor does the newspaper, owned by the timber baron, do what a newspaper is supposed to do. It does not give us full and honest information. It provides very little useful commentary to stimulate discussion and thinking.

What we get are propganda stories,trivial editorials, Norbert's column, commentaries by staff in the paper that stick to very safe topics, often simply telling little, bedtime stories. The have no insight into social needs,  no political values to explain - and just as well. If they did, they'd be fired the same day by the boss. That's not the fault of the reporters who get stuck to write those commentaries. Reporters are not trained to be commentators. The only reason they have to write those things is that it's cheaper for the Irving press to stick them with extra work rather than pay for informed comment.

This is New Brunswick's greatest problem - an attitude of fear which has left this province stuck in the political and social mud since 1755.

And, I suspect, this fear of thinking also explains why this province has a lower literacy rate than some third world countries. New Brunswick are as intelligent as any other group in this world, and certainly are capable of reading and thinking as well as any other group - but who live under a powerful few who find it convenient to discourage them from thinking for themselves.

There's an interesting development in the Toronto region. A Muslim boy has been arrested for defacing a synagogue. And so he should be. But that's not quite what he's being charged with. It seems that the Toronto police have a "hate crime" squad; and the boy is being charged with a "hate crime".

Now, many crimes, surely are "hate crimes" in the sense that they are caused by hatred. That goes all the back to Cain who slew Abel  - but -

I've never heard of an attacker or a killer or a person who breaks church windows (as local Catholic boys did to my childhood church) as being "hate criminals". Exactly what does "hate crime" mean?
Stephen Harper, quite illegally, refused to allow a Muslim woman to wear a veil while taking the oath of citizenship. There is no law against that. Harper committed a crime in denying her a right. As well, he did it to play on hatreds in Canada to get himself re-elected. wouldn't that make Harper guilty of a "hate crime".

Indeed, Harper has worked tirelessly to encourage hatred of Muslims - as have commentators in much of our news media. Are those "hate crimes"?

The government and Canadians in general cheered on a French magazine for having the "courage" to devote itself to cartoons showing a gross hatred of Muslims.  Were we cheering on a "hate crime"? And how many people would tolerate a magazine in Canada featuring gross and disgusting cartoons of Jesus?

If an Israeli Jew, visiting Canada were to deface a mosque, I expect he would be arrested for doing damage to a building. But would he be charged with a "hate crime"? I doubt it.

In general, I like Jews. Generally, I much prefer them to Christians.  But I hate Netanyahu. I hate the government he has appointed. And I hate what Israel has become. But Harper has made it clear that Israel is the only country in human history that cannot ever do wrong. Does that make me a hate criminal? Does it make my Jewish friends in the "Peace Now" movement into hate criminals? The Israeli lobby in the US and Canada has devoted itself to promoting hatred of Muslims, and violence against them.  One of Canada's leading figures for the Israeli lobby is a newspaper editor who, recently, publicly denounced me as an anti-semite and a liar. Is that a hate crime? Or did I commit a hate crime by criticizing Israel?

I'm surprised the news media haven't asked more questions about this. What, exactly, is a hate crime?
So far, it looks to me like having an opinion that the prime minister does not agree with. And that is almost certainly the way this is bound to develop.

The boy who defaced a synagogue committed a crime, and he should be charged with it. But when we introduce new and vague terminology into our law system, we're moving into dangerous waters.
Oh, remember the recent story about a shoot-out between police and drug mobsters in which 41 mobsters and 1 policeman waere killed? Did it seem to you odd that 41 to 1 seemed an odd outcome for a shoot-out? Well.....

It turns out there are problems with the story....

1. There was a very large police force on the ground. But the killings were done by a police helicopter with a machine-gun.
2. And it seems that the drug mobsters weren't drug mobsters- or criminals of any sort.

So what was all that really about? We don't know. And I doubt whether our news media will ever tell us. Somewhere in all this is a big story about CIA connections with big time drug dealers, and the extraordinary corruption of Mexican government down to the lowest levels. I shall never forget the Mexican border officer who stamped by passport and said, "You may tip me now."

Why would the CIA have connections with drug dealers? Well, they can be very useful in destabilizing Latin American governments that want to do silly things - like making American business owners pay taxes.
But, hey, why waste a Sunday thinking?. Go to church, instead.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 30: ?????? What is news?

Think about that word.News.  It doesn't mean sentimentality. It doesn't mean nostalgia. It doesn't mean reminiscence. Note the first three letters of it - NEW. It's about something very, very recent - like NOW. It's about information that we need to function as a society.

Yes, in other sections you can have Ann Landers and comics. But these don't appear in news sections. And they certainly don't appear as a banner headline on A1. Except in the Irving press where Brent Mazerolle has a sentimental high school essay about the police killings of June 4. Continued on A11, it takes up a total of a full page.

Need more?. Go to the first page of Canada&World. The story gets another full page there in another non-news story, this one by Cole Hobson. This is all just sentimentalism with no news value whatever.

The headline on A1 reads "The shadow of June 4". Why on earth did the editors choose May 30 to run this story?

No competent news editor would ever assign this story or accept it in a news section. The Irving press seems to have no professional standards at all.

A3 has over half a page devoted to the news YOU need to know -  a former MLA has been appointed a judge. That's nice. But we could have been told all we needed to know in one paragraph.

All of the news in section A is like that. No investigation, no questioning, no significant issues. This is news on the cheap, and guaranteed not to offend anybody named Irving.

The editorial is another lightweight. Norbert reminds us of a great political reform he once wrote about. There should be a non-partisan Common Sense Party. Lord love a duck! Think, Norbert. How can a party be non-partisan? Don't you have a dictionary?

And what does common sense mean? All parties and voters think they have common sense, and that all the other parties and voters don't. Common sense sounds nice. But it doesn't mean a damn thing.
You don't start with common sense, Norbert. You start with principles because nobody actually knows what common sense means.

He follows this mindlessness with an overkind review of the People's Alliance party His headline shows the muddiness of his own thinking.  "People's alliance has right intent, but are principles enough?"  Oh, why does it have the right intent? Name a party that has the wrong intent?

Norbert - intent and principles don't mean quite the same thing..  This is just a remarkably silly column.

Brent Mazerolle, once again, does not know the difference between a commentary and a short story.

The other trick in in being a good commentator is to be fairly knowledgeable. Sometimes, Bill Belliveau is knowledgeable. Sometimes not. Today is a not. There's no doubt he's right that New Brunswick has a profound literacy problem. I'm surprised the province can function at all with an adult functional illiteracy rate of 55%. The Gaza Strip has a far higher literacy rate than that.

Belliveau devotes his column to a private venture by Disney which teaches literacy, and is being experimented on in China, so far on a small scale. It seems to be doing well - but...

Almost any system of education will do well in China. That's because parents and children have a profound commitment to education. To do badly in school is a matter of shame for the whole family - all the way to cousins, uncles and aunts. When I taught there, no student ever missed a class - or was even late. No assignment was ever late. One of the students who followed me back to study at Concordia in Montreal worked so hard, he was taking pills to stay awake all night to study. I had to warn him I would have him hospitalized if he didn't slow down.

For a teaching system to work in China proves nothing about the system. It tells us about the values of the society. But not about the system.

To find out who is doing well in educaton and literacy, one should google for "UNESCO world literacy"., Above all, pay no attention to American sources like CIA Factbook. Its figures are wildly untrue. Despite the CIA ratings, neither Canada nor the US comes anywhere close to 99% literacy
But one country, at least, is ranked by both UNESCO and the CIA as having the astonishing rate of literacy of 99%. That country is Cuba. So it certainly wasn't achieved by a private company.

Shouldn't we be looking at how Cuba did it? After all, the Cuban people probably do not have the reverence for education that China does. (Few countries have.) And Cuba had almost no education at all through the years that the US ruled it under brutal dictators. The change occurred under Castro.

The Disney system is not proven. Worse, it is a foot in the door for the privatization of education - which means the final destruction of any equality of opportunity. Even if the Disney system gets private funding at first, that will not last forever. The Disney outfit is not in business to offer freebies; and no private funding will last forever..

It's a bad idea for a columnist to write on a topic on which he is lacking in expertise. Indeed, I have to wonder...exactly where did he hear about the Walt Disney programme in China? (Oh, and by the way, he mentions that the company gets earnings of a hundred million a year in China. That's nice. But I don't see why we should support a scheme to make more money for the Disney outfit.)

I'm afraid this article looks very much like a setup to con us into yet another attempt by private business to get into the education business - for private profit. How come Belliveau heard about an obscure and unproven business deal in China - but seems to know nothing about literacy rates around the world? And how come he never heard about the phenomenal improvement in literacy in Cuba?  I really don't like the smell of this column.

Then, at last, there's Gwynne Dyer. His commentary is on the crisis over the South China sea - and it does what a commentary should do. It gives us some history and context so we can understand the crisis this has created between the US and China. This is a very serious one with a high possibility of leading to a nuclear war. The Irving press has scarcely noticed it, even as news. But this is a crisis that could be sent nuclear by even a small mistake on either side.

China is claiming ownership of the South China Sea because it wants economic control of the whole region - Malaya, The Philippines, etc. Dyer is quite right in saying so, but...

he neglects to mention why the US is taking such a tough stand on the issue. It wants economic control of that region. That's why it fought the war in Vietnam. That's why it made the Philippines an American colony when it invaded it in 1898. It also wants control of the South China Sea for a war against China. The US has been sensitive about boundaries since the beginning of its history. That's why it invaded Canada in 1812, then Mexico and the series of wars to conquer native peoples, then most of Latin America, and that's why it threatened to invade Canada in 1903 in the dispute over the Alaska/Canada boundary.

The US has, throughout its history, done exactly the sort of thing China is doing with the South China Sea.

For over a century, US governments and their friends in business have wanted to get the British and French out of Asia so that US big business could reap the tremendous profits of Asia, especially China.

There are no good guys and bad guys here. What we have is a rapidly wilting empire confronting a rapidly growing one. And there is enough greed and stupidity on each side to make nuclear war a very real possibility.
Well, the first page of this skimpy section is entirely about Moncton. The lead story is not a news story at all. And the story that our ambulance radio system being due for an upgrade is a yawn.
But in B3, we go out to the greater world with a big story that the New Brunswick government has appointed a task force to study child care.  That story could have been told in one paragraph.

On B6, we're still in Canada with a big, big story that Peter MacKay is leaving federal politics. Much more interesting, but shorter, is a story on the same page that a nail has been found in a potato in Halifax.

On B7 we actually cross a national border to go to the US which is removing Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. The story is told entirely from a very official American government point of view.

For a start, Cuba was not a terrorist state except - when it was controlled by a dictator who worked for the US, and who used torture and murder to keep people in line for the good of American big business. When Castro took over, a new terror came - again from the US. The story has the grace to mentions an incident of  this, but fails t omention how deeply the US was involved. It sponsored the bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner, killing 373 people. It then sheltered the killer who did it. He still lives in Florida. It sponsored terrorist bombing of tourist hotels.It sponsored an invasion of Cuba, the Bay of Pigs..

The US has sponsored terrorism and dictatorship all over the world. It was the US that originally trained and armed the Taliban in Afghanistan. It also was an early sponsor (with Saudi Arabia and  the emirates) of Al Quaeda and, almost certainly, of ISIS. The US led in the terrorism in Guatemala that killed a quarter million men, women, and children. It's done the same all over Central America.

Cuba has sent doctors to crisis points all over the world.  So God bless America.

The story ends with the note that the US is terribly, terribly worried about Cuba's democratic record.
How noble. They aren't worried about the democracy record of Saudi Arabia, though, or about the democratic records of all the torturing and murdering dictators they US has imposed on Latin America, including Fulgencio Batista who they imposed on Cuba.

If the US government is so concerned about democratic records, it might look at its own. This is a country of two parties, neither of which could possibly win without the support of very big business. Both parties are bought. Any president is bought. The result is a country whose foreign policy is set by the wants of big business, is incredibly expensive, and is the disaster of the century. Domestic policy, too, is set by big business so the Americans who need help don't get it, and big business is allowed to thrive on low to zero taxes, and on runaway corruption.

The situation is so bad and the American people so disillusioned that way fewer than half will vote on election day. On top of that, anybody the government doesn't like is targeted by a\its secret service. Obama is scarcely a poster boy for democracy. But there's no way you would read any of that in this news story. The reality is that when it comes to health care, education, service to the whole population, the people of Cuba are a hell of a lot better off than Americans are. And they aren't forced to vote for flunkies of big business.

As for the rest of the world, there is just one news story in today's paper - about boat people in Asia. There is not one word about three, critical areas that could spark a nuclear war at any time - the Middle East, the South China Sea, Ukraine. There is nothing about how fragile west Ukraine (our side) has become as a result of looting by western bankers. They've taken most of the best farmland. They've jacked up prices so much that it is not possible for the majority of people to afford electricity or heating oil - or even food. What happens if the Kyev government loses control? This might well lead to a demand from American bankers that the US intervene to protect their interests. And that could mean a Russian response.

The Faith page...what a treat of righteousness! And the sermonette is....

well, most it's about Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. There's a long story about how Apple has make our lives worth living. (The sermonizer seems to be unaware that Apple did not invent computers, and was never the sales leader.)  And you know what?

He was born to a woman who decided not to have an abortion but to put her son up for adoption. That just proves the importance of Right to Life. That's why you can play I tunes. This is painful reasoning. Hitler's mother made the wrong decision in not having an abortion. What does either case prove?

Look. If he believes that all babies have a right to life, why have we heard so little about the millions of babies slaughtered all over the world by our bombers? Does he think our bombers are careful not to hit pregnant women? Or is it just North American babies that have a right to life?

And what about the millions of still births all over the world because we make no attempt to provide adequate health care - not even in a rich country like the US? And the millions more whose pregnant mothers starve to death or are worked so brutally (as in Latin America and Congo) that they die before birth.

Tell you what, for all those people who clutter the streets in front of hospitals and carry signs, why don't you spend your time seeking out young, unwed girls of no income who want an abortion - and offer yourselves to take over the raising of that child?

And why don't you protest against our routine killing of babies and everybody else all over the world?  Read up on the subject. We, all of us, do it all the time. Is it evil to abort a birth? Yes? So why is it okay to murder millions of Vietnamese, Muslims, just about anybody we feel like murdering? Does "Thou shalt not kill" apply only to unborn babies?

There's a  difference between being righteous and being self-righteous.

Meanwhile, all the churches are busy feeding the hungry and holding yard sales.

Finally, on C14, student columnist Amanda Cormier has a good column on why we spend so much time criticizing others.  Now, criticism is something we should all do because riticism means judging what others do as a factor in making our own  judgements about people and events. We should be much more critical than we are.  But I know that Mlle. Cormier doesn't mean that that sort of criticism. She means purely negative criticism. And why we do it is an important question that she almost answers.

She writes that it was worse in high school when she could be very critical of others, but that she's grown up. Quite so. It's worse in high school because it is a period of anxiety over whether we are liked or accepted or smart, etc. That is what makes us so  negatively critical of others.  Seeing faults in others makes us feel superior. It's almost a form of racism.

She's grown out of that. And that's good because some people spend their lives acting superior because they know they're really inferior.

Good column.

The Irving press is run on the cheap, and it's run to keep people in ignorance of what's happening. But I had hoped that even such a miserable press would ask questions about a world incident that is closely connected to Moncton.

Several days ago, the news broke that FIFA is ridden with corruption, has been for a long time, and that it routinely takes bribes from countries and cities that want to host their games.

 Moncton is hosting some of its games.  Did it not occur to any editor to trace the history of this arrangement? Or did they simply figure that FIFA wouldn't dare ask New Brunswick or Moncton for a bribe because both have a strong reputation for transparent honesty? or that no-one in the tourism industry would ever tolerate such bevaviour?

Cheaply run, incompetent, trivial, propagandizing....I thought when I moved here that this was the worst press I  had ever seen. But it has actually become worse, much worse, in recent months.

Friday, May 29, 2015

May 29: Why , oh, why?

The big news from our editors who feel the pulse of the world and of our reporters is that a city smoking ban is getting a mixed reaction from bar owners. And a new sporting goods store opened for hundreds who had been standing in the parking lot for hours waiting for this blessed day. there's a big photo of them.  One man, we are told, had driven 3 hours, and waited in the parking lot for 24 hours. Heck. All Jesus got was a few wise wise guys who showed up late.

There is a story at the bottom of the page. But it's a very short one, and with no photo, It's about how the provincial government violated the constitution by ignoring elected and informed opinion of our elected councils by announcing school staff cuts without consulting the education councils. But it's just a little story. About kids. Who cares?

, But for thinking people, A 3 has a second and even bigger story about the opening of the sporting goods store - with another photo  of the crowed  So, you know, first things first. And, if you miss those two, don't despair because there's also a column about it on the Commentary page.

The editorial is about how we should donate money to Open Hands. We certainly should. But it's disgraceful that governments should leave something as vital as daily food up to a volunteer organization. Why, that's like telling Mr. Irving to go out and beg for forests.

The only columns worth reading are David Suzuki and Alec Bruce. And both are well worth it.

There's really not much point to reading Canada&World. Here's why.
1. Most of the stories are trivial. B11 devotes a half page to two stories. One is about a way to deal with having too many photos stored in your cell phone. The other is the announcement about two, new smartphones. B1's lead story is "language might shape next electoral map..." (Or it might not.)  A third of a page is devoted to "Moncton's natural resources co-ordinator has a sweet job." Result. We have almost no information about what's going on in the world - or even in Canada.

2. Foreign news is full of evocative words that act as propaganda.  Muslims, for example, are almost always referred to as extremists, terrorists or militants. Troops on our side never are. Our side has, for example, trained killer squads that operate all over the world, even in peaceful, Latin American countries. But they are never called terrorists. No. They're special ops.

The US killed over a million, over half of them civilians, in a war on Iraq that we have never been given a reason for. If the word 'extremist' was ever used to describe that slaughter, I missed it. Ditto for Vietnam where the US murdered civilians by the millions.

If ISIS beheads people, it's always a news story, and perhaps with videos. Our buddy, the King of Saudi Arabia, beheads so many he's had to hire more swordsmen. But how often have you seen photos of his beheadings? For that matter, France was beheading people into the 1970s. I don't think I ever saw a news story about that.

And let's not forget the US frequently executes people by poison gas, electricity and hanging. Is that somehow more civilized than beheading?

3. American drones are killing every day, with a high proportion of the deaths civilian. But I have never seen them called civilians in any news report. They are called militants to give the impression these are deadly enemies. In fact, the word militant, as used by the US government in these rare press releases, means any male over the age of 17 or so that they kill.

The US hired a man to blow up a Cuban civil airliner, killing all aboard. It was very little reported and, of the few who did report, none used the word terrorist. In fact, the US officially lists Cuba as a terrorist state

This use of language is important. It's designed to cause fear and anger which, in turn can be used to justify any action by our government. Two Canadian soldiers were killed last year by "terrorists" who were, in fact,mentally ill Canadians. No matter. That word "terrorist" has been used heavily by Harper as an excuse to destroy our constitutional rights, to make it easy for him to get rid of people he doesn't like, and to spend billions on making this a police state. It took just two victims of "terrorism" to make that possible. Meanwhile, in the same year, over 2,000 Canadians were killed in traffic accidents.  But whose counting? Right?

Most newspapers aren't run to inform us. They're run as propaganda agencies so we can be abused by the better sort of people in our society.

4. B10 "Kurdish fighters in Syria on march against Islamic State" illustrates another problem It has the usual problem of its language. For example, the Kurdish fighters are not extremists or terrorists or any of that nasty stuff. No. They're on our side, so they "....are spurred by ideology and nationalistic fervour. And they don't really kill people no...they "...fought courageously...." How very different from ISIS. But the story is useless for a different reason - and it's one that affects all news media.

To tell us that Kurdish fighters are on the march tells us nothing just as a story that Saudi Arabia is still bombing Yemen tells us nothing just as a story that Israel wants an attack on Iran tells us nothing just as a story Greece hopes to make a deal with international bankers by Sunday.

The problem with news is that it can tell us what is happening. But what it can very seldom do is tell us why it's happening - and unless we know the why, we can't understand the news. That's what makes it so easy for most news sources to twist the news and play with words to create the fear and hatred which guarantee that this sort of thing will continue, and get worse.

Let's take the turmoil in the middle east. Reports of each day don't tell us why it's in turmoil. It can't. The why is a matter of history, not of news.

In the case of this turmoil, i`t began with the very romantic story of Lawrence of Arabia. I read it as a child, and was quite taken by the spell of it. If you've seen the film about him, you know the romantic and exciting part of it. He organized Arab tribes to fight the Turks. And he won, creating the  royal family that leads Saudi Arabia to this day. But that's not the whole history.

This was World War One, the early days of an oil industry that would create immense wealth for capitalists. In fact, for similar reasons there was a frantic rush of European powers from about 1860 on to get control of the Middle East and Africa to loot their resources.  The British were leaders in the rush. Lawrence was an officer in the British army. British capitalists realized there were fortunes to be made. And they knew there was oil in the country Lawrence created, and was called Saudi Arabia.

Leading capitalists effectively controlled the British government. And Lawrence was their boy. Lawrence presented himself to the Arabs as the man who would lead them to freedom from Turkish rule. But he betrayed them. He betrayed them from the start so he could open the way for British capitalists to get control of the oil of Saudi Arabia and Iran - and anybody else who had it.

It was a good deal for the capitalists. they got control of the oil at very cheap prices, sometimes at no price at all. (For almost 30 years, Iran had to supply free oil to the whole British navy.) Most of the Arabic peoples got nothing. The rewards were only for the dictators (and the king) the Europeans put in place. It was, perhaps, the biggest grand theft in history.

For a century, the  Arabs of the middle east have suffered from the poverty and cultural damage caused by the western powers. To that must be added the arrogance of the westerners who had come to control them. It was the product of a profound western racism that was very noticeable until recently in Hong Kong. Now they're shooting back. It's not their religion that has turned them to violence. (Just as it's not Christianity or Judaism that caused us to murder and impoverish millions of Muslims.)

We have to break through the propaganda we are fed. It's not a case of good and evil. It's a case of the abuse inflicted by a handful of very wealthy people. And of us supporting them because we have been gullible.  The only useful thing we can do for the middle east is to get out. And, if we don't, I very much fear that World War Three will happen.

I would make a similar case for the Israelis who support Netanyahu. (I don't like Netanyahu, but let's be fair about this.)  Harper supports Netanyahu to get Jewish votes. Obama supports him because the US intention from the creation of Israel was to use Israel as a beachhead in the middle east. Netanyahu is not a fool. He knows that.

He also knows that the whole western world, including Canada and the US, has been historically vicious in its treatment of Jews. We have forgotten, but Netanyahu knows. And he knows that the only reason we agreed to the creation of Israel was so that the Jews wouldn't come here. (If you doubt that, read a book called "One is too many".)

Israel doesn't trust us. I have no idea what to do about that. But it's another situation that we created by our own bigotry and hypocrisy.

Tthis isn't news. It's history. But we can't understand the news unless we understand the history - just as we still don't understand the determined native opposition to shale gas in the Rexton demonstrations. There's more than an environmental reason for that - but we certainly haven't read about in in the papers.

To make news meaningful, a newspaper requires several pages of well informed commentary on both world  and local matters. The best informed commentator they have is Alec Bruce. They need about six more of him - and rather fewer Irvings hiding behind the curtains.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

May 28: The bottom of the pit? Probably not.

There is only one item worth noting in today's news section A. It's an error in the front page headline.
"Involve students in dress code talks, says teachers association." Did you spot it?  Teachers
should have an apostrophe because the association belongs to the teachers. Thus, it should be teachers' association.

It's not a small matter. This sort of thing is common in the Irving press. I know I make such errors too; but I don't have a staff of editors and sub-editors and proof-readers.  In fairness, it's possible that the Irving press doesn't have such a staff, either. These are newspapers that have always been run on the cheap. put out on the cheap. It fired all its photographers. Commentaries are commonly written by reporters and editors IN ADDITION  to their regular work. That part, alone is cheap and very bad; and it also means large numbers of commentaries that are uninformed and trivial.

Then you have commentaries that are not commentaries at all but space given to politicians and special interest groups. All they pump out is their own propaganda. And, I suspect, they cost the paper nothing. As well, there seems to have been quite a decline in the few, expert columns the paper used to have. World analysis has disappeared. So has environmental analysis. Even local columnists, who were probably very low paid for their work, seem to be vanishing.

The editorial writer and Norbert Cunningham pump out nothing but Irving propaganda. Currently, the target is premier Gallant (as well he might be). But I shall never forget what a dolt the Conservative premier Alward was. In particular, I remember the day a police search of the hundreds of people at the Rexton demonstration turned up a couple of hunting rifles and pocket knives. "It's an armed camp down there"  said Alward in a  burst of hysteria. What an utterly irresponsible statement to make in such a tense situation!

And now, the editorial tells us the great one has spoken. Yes. McKenna is in favour of shale gas. O-0-ooh, it gushes, Mr. McKenna was an ambassador to the US. So he must know all about shale gas. Now, tell me the last time MdKenna wasn't in favour of something Irving really wanted.

Even the cartoon is propaganda. I have never seen a cartoon in this paper that Mr. Irving wouldn't approve of. A different sort of cartoonist, an old friend, is Terry Mosher at the Montreal Gazette. He works under the name of Aislin - and he might well be the best cartoonist in Canada. I'm quite sure he has often offended the boss. Certainly, I know he has offended some influential people. But there's no way he would allow any boss to make him back off.

Today's (probably unpaid) commentator is Paul Bennett. I knew Mr Bennett as principal of a private school - and a very good one, indeed. But I think he has made a bad judgement in his retirement by associating himself with AIMS. (Atlantic Institute of Market Studies). This is simply a propaganda mouthpiece for big business. Nothing that comes under its name can be trusted.

In this case,Mr. Bennett hails an educational  innovation - a small school that deals with children who suffer from fear and severe learning problems. We have one. It costs $11,700 a year for tuition. So Bennett advises that the provincial government should subsidize such private schools. I can almost agree with him But -----

---the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies is a front for big business and greed. So why should it care about such a proposal?

Because it gives business another opening to make money out of the education system, an opening that it can expand..

Public education should be public. There is no reason why business should have any hand in it. Government should not subsidize such a programme because 1.a subsidy sill leaves many children with family incomes that are too low to go to the schools.  2. All children, all of them, should have equal opportunities. That means the provincial government should budget to offer such programmes as a part of public education. Perhaps it could pay for it by cutting all those handouts to businesses that don't really need them.

With the exception of Alec Bruce's excellent and "must read" column, section A is just the shoddy product of cheap and unethical  labour. It is without ethics and without substance of any sort.


B4 has an important story largely because it's a demonstration of Harper's contempt for democracy. "Concerns over retroactive law......." is about how Harper's Conservatives  are wiping out a law under which the RCMP are accused of illegal behaviour. The change will date back to 2011. How thoughtful!

B5 has "Energy East wins backing of 60 municipalities". Essentially, it is a story that says three cheers for an energy east pipeline.  There is almost no indication of where in the province these municipalities are, no indication of the size of opposition -  and no reason why municipalities have the information needed to make such a judgement. In short, this is a set-up by, of course, an Irving press reporter.

There is virtually nothing about world news. Let's see. We have a war on in Yemen for no very clear reason. Saudi Arabia has announced it intends to get nuclear weapons - almost certainly for use against Iran - and almost certainly in cooperation with Israel.

The US is concentrating ships and aircraft for a showdown with China over the South China Sea. Neither is likely to back off.

The US is also marshalling its own and NATO forces for an attack on Russia. You think it's being done to bring democracy and freedom to Ukraine? Well, God bless you for your sweet innocence. But the US is itself the world's biggest imperial power. It doesn't give freedom and democracy to anybody.

And even if it did - think. Does it make sense to risk world nuclear war, possibly destroying the whole planet to bring democracy to Ukraine? What Ukraine would there be left to bring democracy back to?

As well, remember it was the US that organized and paid for the rioting that destroyed Ukraine's elected government. That's what caused the crisis. And remember the powerful Nazi presence in the Ukraine's 'democratic' government. And read up on how representatives in international banking in the Ukraine government are bleeding Ukraine dry. The situation is so serious that a general uprising is possible.

Things are very similar in Greece where international bankers are running wild with demands. But none of this is being reported in the Irving press.

Now - read Alec Bruce's column about how international bankers have stolen uncounted billions from countries all over the world, how they were found guilty - and how the punishment was a slap on the wrist. And, of course, no jail terms. These are much the same people who are pouring billions into the campaign funds for the campaigns of both Republicans and Democrats in the US, and the campaigns of Trudeau and Harper - but mostly Harper.

Always an abysmal news source, the Irving press has become noticeably worse recently. The decline seems to have begun with the appointment of Jamie Irving as VP. We are told he is a graduate of a journalism school. There is certainly no sign of any such training in his newspaper.

We are in the midst of three crises - Middle East, China, and Russia. All carry the high possibility of world nuclear war.  I remember the Cuban crisis when the US and Russia were on the brink of nuclear war. People were scared. All people were scared. And their fear was certainly obvious.

Why are we, in these far more dangerous crises, so indifferent to it all?

New Brunswickers have always, so far as I know,  been fearful of having opinions about anything. And I think I can understand why.But this time, the whole of North America relaxes in blissful ignorance.  Why?

I might take a try at that tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May 27:The best is the cartoon page...

Oh, no, I don't mean the cartoon page in the Irving press. The days of cartoons that were both funny and insightful ended years ago,and after only a brief life. There was Peanuts, Pogo, Doonesbury, Calvin and Hobbes, ad few others. But they're long gone.  We're  now in the age of one-joke strips designed for those who think slipping on a banana peel is funny. Andy Capp? He's a drunken lout. Ha-ha.

But comics can be both funny - and have something useful to say.  Try the site below.

That short strip is a profound insight into how us humans think - and how most of us suffer for the way a few of us think.

The wealthy of our world, like the aristocracy that preceded them (with just a short break here and there for democracy) believe they are superior to the rest of us. They also believe that their superiority comes to them genetically. That's why Irving industries has had a series of Irvings in charge. It's really a racist concept - no different from Hitler's absurd theories about the superiority of "aryans" over Jews, no different from the contempt that centuries of British and other European aristocracies had for their peasantries, no different from our indifference to the killing and crippling and destruction that we have forced on Muslims - and Vietnamese and Central Americans and Africans and, for that matter, our own native peoples..

It's necessary to feel superior. When you use and abuse people, you need an excuse that justifies it. Otherwise, you're just a murdering bastard. That excuse commonly takes the form of racism - as with the days of black slavery, of Asian conquest and looting, of the conquest of the Americas. Racism was built into the blood of British empire-builders. Much of it is still there.

When I was a child, we (and our parents) were taught that Japanese were evil simply by being Japanese. That's why most Canadians applauded when the Canadian government put Japanese-Canadians into prison camps in 1942, letting them take only what they could carry. The rest, including their homes, was taken by the federal government and sold.. I worked on the Japanese-Canadian campaign for restitution though, by then, it was largely the children of the camps who were still alive. Most of them, so many years later, could not talk about it without choking up at the humiliation they felt.

And, after the US bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it ruled that the Japanese, because of their racial tendency to cruelty (imagine the people who dropped the nuclear bombs making such a statement?) ---anyway, at the surrender, the US government ruled that Japan would never again be permitted to raise a military capable of aggression.

But now, and for several years, Japan has been going through a frantic building of its military for aggressive purposes. Apparently, the Japanese are not racially prone to cruelty any more. Nope.It's them Chinese and Russia ya gotta watch.

In North America, we are seeing the opening of a tremendous gap between rich and the rest of us. And the gap is growing. A great many people are suffering - and they're going to suffer more. The wealthy of North America are not only making record profits while poverty grows. They are hiding their wealth from taxation so that basic social services to all of us are being cut. The rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer because that's the way the system is designed to work.

We gotta reduce our government debt, say the Norberts of this world. And how to reduce them? Well, don't even dream of taxing the rich. And don't dream of cutting off their forest lands or at least getting a decent price for them. No, says the Irving press. My goodness, if you tax the rich, they'll go away. But, if you let them get really, really rich, They will invest and make us all rich.

No, they won't. They can invest their money anywhere thanks to free trade deals and hidden bank accounts. So it is we have mine-owners who prefer to invest in Congo and Central America because they can pollute as much as they like, pay wages too low to support life, pay no taxes at all  (and thus allow no services like education and health care). That's good because creating poverty in so much of the world, and taking so much money out of Canada and the US, and paying little tax, can do good things - like creating poverty in Canada and the US, and so making it possible to reduce wages here, too.

Even better, the gradual privatization of essential social services, like health and education, is good. It effectively destroys those services for us and makes profits for them. There is a catch, though.That massive transfer of money from most of us all over the world to the very rich eventually destroys all economies.

Are these wealthy people real bastards? Oh, goodness, no.

They are intellectually and socially a superior race. God meant them to rule us - with the help of the Liberals, the Conservatives, and the private news media. Think hard. How often have you heard it said or implied that it's their own fault the poor are poor? Now, give me a single example of the Irving press saying that it's the rich who cause poverty?

The whole world is facing a triumph of greed, arrogance, immorality, and stupidity that it cannot survive.

That's what that cartoon is about.
As you might guess from the prologue above, their really isn't much worth talking about in today's paper.

Worth reading is a story on A3 "Food bank has only enough money to stay open another couple of months". This is the province that can afford to make gifts to the very wealthy, like handing over our forests on the cheap, and spending over a hundred million on a hockey rink to cater to a wealthy team owner. But it can't afford to feed its own people.

A11 has a commentary worth reading. "Taking the premier to school om needs of N.B. students"  The New Brunswick education system, one of the better ones in this world, is in great danger, partly because the government and the Irving press can think of nothing but hammering us to pay for a recession that was caused by big business, and has actually made big business bigger.

The government is also showing a tilt to privatization of parts of education. The US did a lot of that. It's now ranked somewhere around 50th in the world for quality of education. Cuba is way ahead of it. Haiti, where education  is largely in private or institutional hands and which is effectively ruled by the US has one of the lowest ranked education systems in the world. Only a minority can get to school at all in that country. And, of that minority, only 2% finish grade five. (Canada is usually ranked in the top 8.)

Mind you, New Brunswick is VERY low ranked in literacy. But I don't think that's because of the education system. I think it's because of a social atmosphere in this province that actually discourages thinking.

I would also recommend a glance at the editorial cartoon - but not because it's good. It shows a fracking truck help up by signs that read uncertainty, indecision, waffling,...all of them negative. But that's NOT what's holding up the truck. Two things are holding it up.

One is a government that is buying time to pretend it's studying the situation when it knows that it's going to say yes, The other is not an uncertainty - but a sure thing. We know very little about the environmental dangers of fracking. And we certainly haven't learned anything about it from this newspaper or its cartoons. This cartoon, in fact, is very close to being propaganda by writing off the whole issue as if it were just a political fumbling..
There are only two items in Canada&World worth reading. One is "Canada's military better in Arctic than people think..." The story is from some think tank - and it's a crock.

There is only one country in the world that might have any reason to attack our claim to the Canadian Arctic. That's the US. If another country were to attack the Arctic, the US would have to join in - not to protect us, but to protect its own claims.  But we have no defence in the Arctic to deal with the US. And that's going to cost us.

The US has been using the Northwest Passage (Canadian) freely for decades. It doesn't ask for permission, as it's supposed to. It simply ignores our claim. And that passage is close to becoming a major, world shipping route. We're going to face the same problem soon with Arctic land areas that are likely to  have oil and other minerals. (a  news editor should have known that, and have seen the story got to some capable person on the editorial or commentary page.)

B4 also has "Undercover police gave money for B.C. terror suspects, says lawyer.' The claim is that some 245 police were involved in an operation aimed at a poor, isolated, and mentally damaged couple. The purpose was to convince them they should be terrorists. In the course of it, they were instructed how to make a bomb, were given lots of attention and money, and were constantly encouraged and even threatened to get the bombing under way.

Well, that's not surprising. It happens in police states. There have been similar stories out of the US. And so we had245 police officers working on a drug addled couple to convince them to set a bomb so they could be charged with terrorism. Our tax dollars at work.

B5 has a related stor. Australia intends to strip citizenship from people suspected of terrorism. Not accused. Not tried. Just suspected. And what is a terrorist? Well, it's anybody the government says might be a terrorist.

So much for democracy. So much for rights under the law. We are, all over the world, entering a period of rule led by a seventeenth century aristocracy, and, as in the seventeenth century, an aristocracy by birth. And we are shaping police forces whose job is not to protect us but to protect the aristocracy from criticism or interference..

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 26: Lazy, cheap, and unethical - Our very own Irving press.

The front page headline is about a commentary that has been submitted to the newspaper, but not yet published. It will, of course, be published, perhaps tomorrow. So why is this story headline news? What the commentary will say is that a decision on whether New Brunswick should approve of fracking should come fast.That's hardly a flash since the opinion comes from a man with a financial interest in fracking.

Why is this the lead story of the day?  I mean, people are going to see the commentary when it appears. And how often have you seen a notice of a commentary column as the lead story in the news? Indeed, why should this appear as a commentary at all? Surely,  the opinion columns are not for people with a conflict of interest. Really, this might be, at best, a letter to the editor.

But there it is on page 1, a statement by Frank McKenna who has made a very successful career out of serving his masters. And it appears in the Irving press, which has done well out of serving those masters, too.

But such obvious pimping for the shale gas industry by a newspaper is about as unethical as one can get.

That said, this unethical bit of pimping on the front page is the best part of a dismal news section.

The editorial is the usual expression of opinion by the village idiot. The renaming of a street for the reasons given is a good idea. But, as an editorial topic? Whoever writes these editorials seems to be a person more fitted to write a gossip column for a village weekly. Norbert's column is trivial and pointless. Alan Cochrane just manages to be trivial.

Brian Gallant's column is a political ad made up of lovely but meaningless thoughts. But it does have one, memorable gem. ".....we have given more workers money to invest by raising the minimum wage to $10,30 per hour." Wow! A whole $10.30 an hour!  Let's see now. What should I invest all that money in? Gold stocks? Shale gas? A mansion?

Oh, yes. And the Liberals are lending money to companies to create jobs. It appears to be their big strategy for dealing with employment. But - well - how is that different from the strategy of every government this province has ever had?

And Alec Bruce has yet another pitch for an events centre.
Canada&World section just stinks as the stories in it are either trivial, or so narrow as to tell us nothing. For the trivial, check out, on p. B1 "Canada's first TV debate..." That was 47 years ago.. It might have a place in a sentimental "remember when" column. But it's not news.

The only item worth reading is "Canada helps block UN plan to rid world of nukes". Most UN members wanted such talks to begin with the middle east. Israel is the only country in that region which has nuclear weapons now. But Saudi Arabia is very close to getting them, and with ISIL right behind it. That, in the middle of complete chaos in the Middle East, is a recipe for disaster. So the UN decided it had to begin the talks.

The US and Canada blocked it. Why? The US is on its knees to Israel. And Harper needs the Canadian Jewish vote for his re-election.

Even the trivia that the Irving press calls Canada&World news carries hidden reminders that the years since Bush have been marked by terminal disaster. Iraq has been so thoroughly destroyed by the US that it now cannot be used to win against ISIL. Neither, probably, can Syria. Netanyahu has been allowed to become so defiant of the US (despite the hundreds of billions the US has given it) that it is quite likely to attack Iran in order to destroy Obama's attempts to settle problems with that country. And it is quite possible that Israel will use nuclear weapons to do so.

The US has decided it has to stay in Afghanistan, perhaps for a long  time. They reality is that the US  (the world's most powerful military nation, we are told), has  not been able to defeat those tribesmen called the Taliban. That's why it has to stay in Afghanistan.

Though the Irving press has scarcely mentioned it, there's a very serious crisis on with China as China claims waters of the South China Sea to be its own. The US refuses to recognize the claims, and is assembling a fleet nearby, and is sending bombers to  the region. China is not going to back off. And American big business will not allow any American government to back off.

Any conflict with China is almost certain to draw in Russia and, quite possibly, India.

It was less than twenty years ago that American big business drafted the document for world rule by the US, and got Bush elected to put it into effect. The document is called The New American Century; and it is still on the web. What it called for was an empire like the collapsed European empires, but an American one, and ruling the whole world - the sort of thing our news media spoke of as being crazy back in the days when they were accusing Hitler of it.

And it is crazy. And it's not working. The US empire is in trouble in the Middle East, in Africa, in Latin America, in Asia - and even at home where it faces rising levels of poverty, the worst social services in the developed world - including both health and education - and a severe resurgence of racial hatreds.

None of this has yet touched the very rich who are still making their biggest profits in history. That is largely due to free trade which not only gives it access to cheap labour in foreign countries, but helps it to lower wages and living standards in the US and Canada.

Will big business be hurt by the decline of North American purchasing power? Not at all. Thanks to free trade and tax havens, its money is safe, and can be invested anywhere is the world. (That's why our politicians and Irving press are talking nonsense when they say we should be happy to make the rich richer because then they will invest in New Brunswick.

No. They won't.They invest to make profits, not to create jobs for New Brunswickers. And now, they can take advantage of Canada by hiding their profits - and investing where they can make even bigger profits - anywhere in the world. Never confuse big business with patriotism or social obligation.

The American Century is not going to happen. And, despite Obama's assurances, "American Exceptionalism" is not part of "God's great plan". So what should Canadians be looking at?

1. Stop being servants to American foreign policies. We became a colony of the US for the same reason we were a colony to France and then to Britain - we needed them to defend Canada against the US.  Then we needed the US to protect us from the US. So we became a puppet state. But the military realities today are quite different. With the advent of long range weapons we are now vulnerable to attack from many countries. We should certainly remain friendly with the US - but there's no longer a need for us to accept strings attached to that friendship.

2. We need to get back control of our own country by putting an end to business, any business, claiming the right to rule us. What was capitalism has become an aristocracy of birth (which, incidentally, seems to be very, very anti-feminist. Will a woman never rule Irving ltd.?)  Government has shown itself to be economically incompetent and socially disastrous. We need to restore democracy.

3. We need to define which areas of economic activity can (with regulation) be controlled by private business, and which ones must be run by government.

4. We need to get rid of overpriced newspapers that are run on the cheap with too few reporters, and that report only trivia and propaganda. They also cover very little news of Canada and the World because they're too cheap to pay for the stories that come from news services. They're also so cheap that they run columns written by underpaid reporters rather than expert columnists, and even so cheap that they run freebie columns by politicians and propaganda institutes like The Fraser and The C.D.Howe Institute.


And just a couple of items worth looking at. One is a reminder of the vietnam war  when pop singers had more to say that uh, yeah...

The other deals with what we can do, even just a few of the we. One of them (I forget which) must be good because it has an Irving ad.

Monday, May 25, 2015

May 25: What can words say?

Netanyahu yesterday thanked Secstat Kerry for the US role in killing a big meeting of Middle East leaders to discuss de-nuclearizing the whole region. How nice of Mr. Kerry. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia says it has a deal to get nuclear weapons from Pakistan. And ISIL may be getting them, too.

Isn't that nice? It will bring peace to the Middle East. Well, not right away. We have to kill everybody first. And don't worry. You'll know when it happens. Five hundred or so Nuclear bombs going off at the same time will be noticeable. Even here in Moncton.

Obama drops to his knees to give favours to Israel. And Netanyahul treats him like dirt.

If there is one thing this world does not need and cannot survive, it's a nuclear war in the Middle East. And, in the chaos that the US, with British and Israeli help, has created in the Middle East, a nuclear war is highly likely. Iraq is close to collapse in its war with ISIL. Of course it is. the US killed over a million Iraqis, stole the economy, created millions of refugees, and deliberately created mass poverty. What's there to fight for? Just recently, a large Iraq army, much larger than its ISIL opponents, fled rather than fight, leaving behind massive quantities of American tanks, artillery. even rifles.

That whole region is in chaos and madness. Saudi Arabia is obviously playing its own game - probably trying to become the dominant power in the region - or perhaps to switch sides to Russia and China.  How clever of Obama to prevent the UN from stopping the spread of nuclear weapons in the region!

But don't worry. Just read the Irving press idea of n really important item for a big, front page story. It'll calm you right down. It seems the New Brunswick government is considering repaving some of the roads to be used by tourists to the province. Once you've read that, put pages A1 to A7 aside for bedtime. They're better than a sleeping pill.

The editorial? It says a tax on hotel rooms of 3% would be a great idea for Moncton and all of NB. Damn right.That'll change the whole world. Norbert Cunningham really has nothing to say He says prohibition of alcohol won't work. Who woulda guessed? But it's written decently. Norbert, if you want to study the subject in more than the few, crude sentences you offer, look up temperance movement in The Canadian Encyclopedia or check a book called Oliver Mowat's Ontario.  Both articles are by a great guy - Graeme Decarie.

Craig Babstock says courts are getting tougher on teachers who get involved in sex with their students. So? Surely we all know that tougher courts don't solve any crime problem. So what's the point of writing about it?

Steve Malloy and Alex Bruce are worth reading. But there are important issues the Opinion and Commentary pages rarely address. For example, it was recently that Stephen Harper announced that he intended to make it illegal for any Canadian to criticize Israel. The first thing that strikes one is the utter stupidity of such a statement. Apparently, it is his opinion that  Israel is the only perfect nation in the world. Not only is that a masterpiece of stupidity for anyone to announce. (I know a great many Jews, including Zionists and Israelis, who would never agree with that.) But it's worse.

This an attack on a fundamental right of any free people - to express their opinions It's an attack on the foundation of democracy, itself. It tells us worlds about the foolishness and dictatorial attitudes of Harper, himself. And it's a direct admission of Harper's lying on every Nov. 11 about how Canadians died to save democracy.

This isn't a blip on the screen. This is one hell of a serious matter. The whole Conservative party is stained by what Harper has done. Any honest mp in the party should resign. But not one did. They all, including smirky Goguen, applauded their leader. This is beneath contempt. Harper has never been an admirer of democracy. But no prime minister in Canadian history has so openly attacked democracy and the freedom of the individual.

With all due respect, I cannot understand a newspaper which would have not a single columnist with the ability to write on that.
Big news in Canada&World. Bingo halls in Quebec are in decline. Wow! "New Brunswick Tories begin rebuilding after election defeat." Gee! thanks for tipping me off. And another big story on the back page. 'Provincial Conservatives to stay Progressive', Who could possibly care?

The only big news is on B2. "Ireland backs gay marriage in landslide vote". This is huge. In a sense, it's not big because so many of us now agree that gays should have the right to marry. But -
this has happened in one of the world's most profoundly Roman Catholic countries. What this signals is yet another collapse of religion. It reminds me of the stunning collapse of the church in Quebec in the 70s.

In many ways the churches deserve to collapse. Check out the Faith Page on most Saturdays for that. They have been way behind in teaching their moral principles to the general population and in terms of daily life (including politics). And they have been far too much into preaching self-righteousness to people who need to know more about how they should live now, and what they should be doing in this world.

The problem is that we need moral guidance - but the only source of it is within the churches. And they aren't letting it out. The great issues are not about who or what you believe in or whether you are getting into heaven. The great issue is how we live, how we treat others.....Should we be killing people in Iraq and Syria? Should be allowing privatization in our public schools? (After all, the very idea of public schools is rooted in Protestant and Judaic morality).  Should we allow health care to become a 'for profit' business?. Is it moral to encourage the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East? What should our priorities in government and spending be?

Sermons are, or should be, moral opinions. And church-doers should be discussing these things at least as much as they eat pancake breakfasts.

Churches are our only source of moral guidelines. But most have largely abandoned that role. The result is a New Brunswick ruled politically and economically without a trace of morality.

Okay. I don't go to church. I'm not likely to. Not until they have something worth saying. But I know that my political and economic values - or morals - come from a childhood and youth spent in church. You certainly won't develop any morality with a degree in political science or business administration.  Nor do I think contemplating in the pews at the Irving Chapel will help much.

The churches have some thinking to do. So do we all.
The news editors at Irving press must be a rare collection of gems. We get news stories that seem to be chosen at random. Or maybe we just get the cheaper ones from news services. (After all, a newspaper has to be run like a business.)

There was an important item which didn't make the Irving news, but that might connect with us. It's from Peru where workers have been on strike against Southern Copper Corporation. It's not just salaries. It's also about pollution and the destruction of farmland and waters that the people of Peru need to live.

It's really an old story. Canadian and American mining companies have been having a grand time in Central America with puppet governments set up for them so they can pay starvation wages, and destroy lands and waters to their heart's content. Free trade has been a big help in this.

Occasionally, the local people protest or go on strike. But that's okay. The mine owners' can bring in the army to beat them up or kill them. So far, four have been killed in this one. If necessary, they can call in the CIA to stiffen the army. That's what happened in Guatemala where some 300,000 men, women and children (and a New Brunswick lay missionary now buried not far from the Irving Chapel) were slaughtered.

Wealthy Canadians are very prominent in world mining. I'm so proud.

In a related story (also missing from the pages of the Irving press) is the story of the beatification of Oscar Romero, Archbishop of El Salvador. (Beatification is the step before sainthood.)

El Salvador, much like Peru, was under a US sponsored puppet government. Working conditions in American/Canadian industries were appalling and very low paid. So a revolution took shape against the government. Now, the US speaks highly of its revolution; but it doesn't encourage revolutions in countries its businessmen are looting.  So the army and hired assassins were turned out to murder those who weren't happy enough. Some 80,000 people were murdered.

Archbishop Romero spoke openly and often to defend the victims and to protest the violence. It came, not from  his politics, but from his sense of morality. He publicly condemned the government for its assassination programme. (The archbishop was certainly no smirky Goguen.).

In 1980, he was murdered while leading a service in a hospital. Of course, nobody was ever charged.

We are not nice people. Worse, we are terribly uninformed about what is happening in the world. There was nothing in the paper about how explosive things are in the Ukraine where western bankers are bleeding the country dry - but those same bankers are angry that Russia says it wants Ukraine to pay it billions of dollars that it owes. As well,there is nothing about Greece which cannot pay its loans without mass suffering and even starvation. But the western bankers insist. There's no mention of the extent to which China and Russia are developing commercial contacts with the US's private empire in Latin America. There's no mention of the drift of big, western money into China and Russia.

In 1871, when Germany united, the world was set on a path that led to two world wars, the collapse of European empires, and the Canadian drift to being an American colony.Now, the US, too, is collapsing. But don't worry about the very wealthy. Their money is safe and will find profitable homes.Big money doesn't really need countries any more.

1871 changed the world forever. And we're still on that path.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

May 24: catching up.

A reader sent me the article above. It really caught my eye because, some twenty yeas ago I was asked by the chairman of a board of university governors to become president of the university. I was reluctant because I had no wish to be an administrator. So he sat me down with three of his lawyers to explain the terms to me.  I was astonished.

The pay was scandalously high. Even better, if I turned out to be a stinker as a president and had to fired, I would still get that salary until retirement. And then I would retire with a much, much higher pension than I now receive. Oh, and my mortgage would be interest free - and lots of other goodies.
I wanted all those things very much. But I just felt, without knowing why, that I didn't want the job. It was party because my love was teaching - but there was something else...... I knew there were things I detested about universities. One was the contempt (and ignorance and arrogance) they have toward teaching. And I knew that one university president was not going to change that. But I didn't really understand my feelings until I read the article above.

Universities are controlled by boards of governors, usually drawn from the business world - and, if possible, connected to very big business. The president's job is to do what the board says. And what the board says is that the university is a business, and should be run like a business. That's how universities became knee deep in absurdly overpaid CEOs (presidents) and knee-deep in
 oversized, overpaid and generally useless middle management (deans).

As in business, their job is to keep employee salaries down, to achieve "efficiency" by, say, enlarging classes to a hundred students, even as many as a thousand. The large classes are certainly a saving in money - but, from a learning point of view, they are largely a waste of time.  To teach means interaction with students; and you can't have that in a class of a hundred. Also popular is hiring "part-time" teachers. They come very cheap, have no job security, no pensions and, commonly, have inadequate training in their fields.

And since neither the administrators nor the board nor the professors know much about teaching, they waste everybody's time pumping information into students, most of which is of no use, and will be forgotten. University should be about training minds, not stuffing them with information.

Like a health care system, a university is not a business. And it does not respond to business methods.

(Forget the MacLean's annual rating of universities. MacLean's knows even less about education than the university governors and administrators do.)

As the article above suggests, the situation in the US is similar - but is at the disaster level. Sadly, Canada is close behind.  Getting a PhD took me some nine years of very little income. Then I started teaching at a salary level less than I wold have had if I had remained in high school teaching. And I had a debt that would take me fifteen years to pay.

Things are far, far worse for today's students. In the US, college debts are commonly still being paid into retirement (and that doesn't count graduate school.) For much of the population, university is simply out of the question. Canada is rapidly approaching that. And not producing university graduates has its own price for all of us as we become a backwater in an educated world.

So far, I have heard no comment on this from any New Brunswick university president. And I don't expect any. Not unless the Chairman of the board tells him what to say.

Another topic I've wanted to touch on is my own field, history, and how we misunderstand  events in Canada and the world because of our skewed view of history. A prime reason for that is that we get much - perhaps most - most of our history from the propagandist history that school boards think suitable for children, from movies and TV, and from newspapers which tell us that this is and always has been a world of  good guys and bad guys.

For example, the UN, with British and American encouragement, generously gave a large part of Palestine to Jews fleeing a Europe (and Canada and US) that would not accept them. That was especially convenient for Canada and the US which were then VERY anti-Jewish.

But, gee, those Palestinians had the nerve to get mad at being kicked off their land, out of their homes, and out of their country. Obviously, Palestinians were not good guys like us. They were bad.

Let's see now. Let's suppose the UN had decided to give Jews a homeland in Alberta, perhaps half of the province. I'm sure Albertans would have been happy to move out of the newly designated Israel, and wouldn't even mind when the new Israel regularly annexed neighbouring parts of Alberta, and kicked them out all over again.

How about that, Stephen Harper? You're always saying how you support Israel. Wouldn't this be a great way to show it? Offer it a chunk of Alberta.

No. I guess he wouldn't do that. But we don't see our own bigotry because movies and TV and news media present a one-sided view with becomes the true history.

In the same way, we see, read and hear constantly about how we fought two world wars to save and spread equality and democracy to all. That was president Wilson's famous doctrine in WW1.

Now. The US of WW1 had an empire that covered Central America and The Philippines. Now, name me a single country in all of those that got freedom and democracy and equality after 1918. (There isn't one.) I might add that Hawaii was an imperial conquest, too, because the Hawaiians certainly never voted to join the US. For that matter, the whole of the US was land stolen from native peoples and, later, Mexicans.

And name a single colony that Britain freed after WW1. Here, in Canada, we are told every Nov. 11, that out of WW1, we got the right to declare war on our own. Whoopee. But that's not quite true; and I'll come back to that later.

So why was World War 1 fought? It was because a united Germany was becoming a major industrial power. Big business in Britain feared that could be a threat to  its profits. That's why the war was fought. It had nothing to do with rights or freedom. The US entered the war probably because it feared a loss on the loans it had given to France and Britain. (I mean, really, if president Wilson cared at all about rights and freedom, why did it take him over three years to enter the war?)

Why did Canada get the right to declare war on its own? It didn't. Previously, it was required to be legally at war when Britain was. But it didn't have to do anything. Here's what happened.

With the unification of Germany in 1871, British business  feared the new Germany would out-compete it and maybe even threaten an empire that Britain was no longer strong enough to hold on its own. That's when British leaders started talking about what a shame it was that there had been that misunderstanding about the American revolution, and how they should be really good friends. If you're a Sherlock Holmes fan, you'll find a reference to it in one of  his stories. And that's why Churchill wrote a History of the ENGLISH-SPEAKING Peoples. That's why he kept on such good terms with Roosevelt. That's why, before the US entered World War Two., Churchill and Roosevelt jointly announced that the war was being fought to make all people free and equal. (In fact, the only colony of either Britain or the US that was freed was India - and that only because because Britain was too poor and weak to hold it.)

But there was a problem - Canada. While Canada was a colony, Britain was obligated to defend it. Now, Canada had only one, possible enemy - the US. Britain well remembered the War of 1812, the Fenian raids of the 1860s, and the great danger of a dispute over the Alaska/Canada boundary in the early 1900s, when Theodore Roosevelt threatened to send troops into Canada. Any such act would be a disaster for Britain. That's why it graciously gave up its obligation to defend Canada, and gave Canada the right to declare war all by itself.

1871 because the beginning of difficult times for Britain. In the 1890s, Britain knew a war with Germany was coming. And it knew it would need the help of the empire, including Canada. That's why it put pressure on Canada, Australia and New Zealand to take part in the Boer War - to set a precedent. But it soon realized that the US was far more important to it than Canada was. So it lost it's eagerness to keep Canada in the empire.

So what was Roosevelt thinking when he took the US into war? I mean, if he wanted to save Britain, the time to do that was 1940 or even 1939, not the beginning of 1942, In fact, American business was allowed to supply Germany with whatever it wanted right to the end of 1941. Worse, when he declared war on Japan, Roosevelt didn't declare war on Germany. It was the other way around. It was Germany that declared war on the US - and several weeks AFTER Pearl Harbour.

Roosevelt did NOT got to war in Europe simply to be a "good guy". He did it to destroy Britain as a world economic power. A war in Europe and in Asia was the chance for American big business to weaken the European empires, and to take over their colonies so the very very rich American businessmen could become very, very, very rich.

After the war, though, the US needed a stable western Europe as a block to the communist USSR which, exactly like the capitalist US, was trying to occupy and control as many markets as it could. So it helped western Europe to recover from the war by sending it aid under 'The Marshall Plan". But Britain got no such aid - though it, too, had suffered enormous damage.

Worse, the US pressed Britain to repay its war loans very, very quickly. That was a major reason the US had gone to war - to destroy Britain as an economic competitor. That's why it joined Britain in 1953 to overthrow the democratic government of Iran and impose a dictator - to get a major share of what had been British-owned oil.

The US hope for a world empire was dampened a bit as France tried to hold onto Indo-China, and as Britain defied American orders and re-took Hong Kong. But both Britain and the US were checkmated by the rise of a united China. And France and the US both lost in the war for Indo-China (Vietnam).

Since then, there have been several major changes.
1.American foreign policy and domestic policy are in a chaos.
2.The abuse of free trade has created a human crisis within the US - which Canadian big business is trying very hard to duplicate in this country..
3.Most of the world has fallen under an economic system called oligarchy. Oligarchy means that big money controls not only economic markets, but controls all government functions, including both domestic and foreign policy.

That means that all the world is ruled by businessmen who understand only 'business methods'.And business methods aren't working. Of course not. Government is about meeting the needs of people. Business methods are about meeting the greed of the richest. Giving the rich even more money will not encourage investment. It didn't work in the depression of the 1930s, and it won't work today.

What we are facing as a result of decades of uncontrolled greed is uncontrollable and unpredictable violence around the world. At the same time, we are almost certainly facing domestic violence whose outcome is as unpredictable as the global violence.

Most western leaders and news media and movies have responded with propaganda to generate hatred and fear. As well, they have turned to very high levels of domestic spying and torture and disregard of constitutional rights.

Harper is a prime example of the  modern puppet prime minister. He struts with his declarations of support for Israel, though he gives Israel nothing, and I doubt whether his threats are causing any Arabs to shake in their boots. And what he says doesn't help Israel in the international world because the international world has no respect for Harper. The last prime minister with international respect was Lester Pearson and maybe, to a lesser degree, Trudeau. But the world knows that Harper is Canada's colonial governor under the US.

There's no good news here. That's because I had to tell the truth. And I had to cut through the lack of understanding of the world because of the historical myths we get in movies and news media.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

May 23: Fireman thanked for saving dog..

.....Yes, it's a heart-warming story. But it is not a front page, lead story in a serious newspaper. It is, however, a striking example of how the Irving press uses a newspaper to keep people's minds on triviality.

A3 has the Brunswick News patting itself on the back for winning two national newspaper awards. One is the justly famous photo of Justin Bourque taken by Vicktor Pivovarov. There is no mention that the Irving press soon after this fired Pivovarov along with other photographers in order to save money and boost profits. James C. Irving, vice-president of Brunswick News, the man with fastest-rising career from cub reporter to VP that I have ever heard of, is quoted as saying he's proud of the achievements of "our journalists". Well, gee, if you're so bloody proud, why did you fire him?

And so it goes for the rest of a dreadful section A - 13 pages of trivia and fuzz.

The editorial offers the brilliant insight that school buildings should be maintained in good repair. Who woulda thunk it?

Norbert starts his column off as if this will be another rant. But it's so vague, it's not even that.  Come off it. Norbie. You know that it doesn't matter whether the Liberals or the Conservatives get their act together. Irving (you've heard the name, Norbie?) runs the province. The age of  democracy is well behind us - if New Brunswick ever had such an age.

There is a big, big commentary by the CEO of Corporate Research Associates advising us on how to run New Brunswick - sort of. It's, to say the least, vague with a wordiness that leans to bafflegab. Not many are going to read this. Essentially, it suggests we focus on developing seven urban centres in New Brunswick as bases for social services and for economic development. It makes sense for social services and education. It's much less clear on how this can be adapted to economic development. The writer seems to have just a wish and a kiss for that.

Half of Brent Mazerolle's column is about how he took dozens of pictures of the designs proposed for a memorial to RCMP officers killed in Moncton a year ago. Well, of course. Like the other reporters who have to take photos with their cellphones, he's not a pro like the real photographers the Irving press fired to increase profits. The second half consists of vague ramblings about how fascinated he is by the process of choosing a design for the memorial.

Brent, this vague rambling is not a commentary.

Brent Belliveau writes about the lack of leadership in this province. I will agree that for a government to call in discussion groups to decide on its policy is absurd. But the reality is that New Brunswick does have a strong and clear political leadership. It's leadership by a group of aristocrats by birth (something out of the 16th century or so. It's a group whose only interest is in taking money from the rest of us.) That's why you have two political parties that have no principles and no policies. Can't anybody at the Times and Transcript spell I-R-V-I-N-G?
In Canada&World, there is not a thing worth reading. You can get more and better on Google news.
B6 has a story that looks promising. It's about Hillary Clinton andsome classified info. And, apparently, it's such hot stuff if took two reporters from The Associated Press to write it. The reality is it doesn't say a damn thing.

The best part of this section is that a half of it is ads.
The Faith page on C7? God help us in the fullest sense of that term. In a world in which millions are dying from starvation and bombs and brutal work conditions and  pollution caused by our economic leaders, and in which we Canadians are playing a role in all the above, the sermonette is on how it is not Christian to practice astrology.

Great hopping Christ! It's as if Jesus and the apostles and all the books of the Talmud and the Torah came to remind us to brush our teeth twice a day and to floss regularly.

Now, I am not a Catholic.I have no desire to be a Catholic. And I do not attend any church. And the prattle of Faith page almost every Saturday confirms my wisdom of not going to any church. However, far the most intelligent and progressive religious leader of our age, one who speaks frequently but is reported on rarely, is Pope Francis. (Forgive me, all my Scots Calvinist ancestors.)
You can find him often  on -

I don't read the parts about ritual or holiness. But the pope very often uses his faith as the basis of his general view of the world and its hatreds and violence and politics. And he manages to do it with intelligence, courage, gentleness - and often in conflict with powerful elements in his own church. Quite a remarkable man.

In one of his posts, he speaks of how the middle east chaos can never be settled by war. Obama has grasped that. That's why he trying so hard for a settlement with Iran. But Saudi Arabia, Israel, and American and British oil billionaires want war. And every person they kill increases the hatreds and adds to the "terrorists". This is the war that will never end until we are all destroyed. Harper encourages the hatreds and fears that drive these wars. He does it because the wealthy who pay for his elections and who own most of the news media want those wars. They are unquenchably greedy, and their greed makes them stupid, even insane.

And all the hatred and fear that Harper preaches creates massive hatred and fear of us all over the world. That is what has created an alliance between China and Russia, one that may well draw in India and many others. We cannot create a world of peace by killing. And we cannot win in a world at war. So far, fifteen years of unbroken war, including many secret wars that go back even further, have cost us heavily, gained us nothing except to make a few billionaires in the oil and arms industries richer.

But our Faith page never mentions that. So I guess it's okay. Be sure to make it to the Irving chapel this summer for coffee and fellowship in the barn. All the best people will be there.

Actually, reading The Guardian, Catholic News Service, Al Jazeera and Haaretz every day (and all available on the web) will give you more news than a full year of the Irving Press.
This item, sent to me by a reader, enlarges a great deal on what I said yesterday about the California drought and the oil spill on its coast. While crops are dying, and even drinking water is running out, California still permits fracking - which uses enormous quantities of water to flush out the wells. The waste water is very dangerous stuff, laced with toxic chemicals added to the water. Disposing of that is a huge problem. But not for the oil industry in California. It sells the wastewater to desperate farmers whose crops are dying. Enjoy your California salad, and your next bottle of California wine.
But don't waste time writing to the oil billionaires. They know what damage they're doing. And they don't give a damn.

That's why Gallant is going to decide that fracking is perfectly safe.

Yet another story that I did not see in the Irving press is one that appeared a week ago (May 14) in other papers - even The National Post. At that time, the federal Conservatives, Liberals and the NDP were in a three-way tie for the coming election. (The NDP was the leader, but by only a small margin.)

Hey! Harper! Notice I wrote a criticism of Israel above. I wrote it because of you. You have created such a Canada that I am ashamed not to be in prison.

Friday, May 22, 2015

May 22: For a change of pace...

...I'm going to start by arguing with one of the student columnists, Isabelle Agnew. She's a good writer and an intelligent columnist; so she's worth arguing with.

1. Just about all dress codes have something  to do with sexuality. That's why most schools do not allow female teachers to wear bikinis in the classroom. That's why male teachers do not wear artificial erections in their pants.
2. Laws have to be broken to modernize - as Martin Luther King did? Sometimes. Hitler broke rules, too. And Harper does it all the time. Breaking a rule does not make the rule wrong.
3. Do the rules discriminate against women? Yes, if there is a dress code ONLY applying to women, then it is sexist.  I don't know the NB school codes. Do they apply only to women?
If they do, the answer is not to scrap them. It's to apply dress codes to both genders. It's important to fit students to live in an adult world. Many students have no idea about how to do that - and it's going to cost them when they go job hunting. It's also going to cost them socially.
Obviously, many parents are not teaching that. So the schools get stuck with it.
4. Bare backs and shoulders are not sexual? If so, then this will come as a flash to the world's dress designers. As a teacher, I expected students to come to school to work. Girls with low necklines and miniskirts, and boys dressed as slobs and lounging in their seats are not there to work. And, in mid-winter while waiting for school to get out, I have seen girls coming out into the frigid air with low necklines, short skirts, bare legs - looking like hookers at the end of a bad night.
5. Don't assume your Victorian ancestors were sexual puritans in their dress. The Victorian woman was highly sexual. That's why they wore tight, tight corsets. That's why they wore huge falsies (but they called them "dress forms"). And that's why they wore bustles - to have rear ends like Kim Kardashian.

Yes, sometimes we need to break rules. But the right to go to school bare-backed and bare-shouldered is not one of the great issues of our time. And it has nothing to do with feminist equality unless that you mean that boys should also have the right to go to school bare-backed and bare shouldered and wearing mini-skirts.

Perhaps the most useful thing now would be for people in education to give some serious thought to the role of dress codes in education, and then to set dress codes for both boys and girls. But let's not kid ourselves that it should be the same code for both genders, or that this has anything to do with gender equality. The genders should be equal - but I cannot understand why we should want them to be the same.

The real world is tough, and it's going to get much tougher as big business strengthens its hold on us. We don't do children any favour by sending them into that world unready to deal with its realities.

(Forgive me, Isabelle. You're still one of my favourite columnists.)

The news in section A is, as usual, a hodge-podge of trivia and street gossip.It must be really, really boring to be a reporter for the Irving press.

And, again, the editorial and the city views commentary are on the same topic, the proposed memorial to three police officers killed a year ago. And neither of them really has anything to say.

Yesterday, there were photos of the designs for a memorial. Most of them were conventional and even boring - you know, some sort of thing with columns and/or with bronze statues of the victims. The one that caught my eye was the least pretentious and most simple one - three,  giant maple leaves fallen to the crowd, with a rise from the middle of each which turns to gently slope to the ground, then with just the tips rising gently upward. It was far the most evocative, moving and thought-provoking design.

But city council will never choose it. It'll go for the conventional and boring high columns, maybe with statues. And the editorial will say it's beautiful.
Norbert, once again, has fallen out of his tree. This time it's a rant against politicians in general. He says "...far too many politicians...are craven cowards..."

And what are you, Norbert? Tell us about the courageous positions you've taken in dealing with, say, the corporations that control the Liberals and the Conservatives. When have you had the courage to challenge the pandering, propagandizing and lying committed by your newspaper (and you) for the benefit of the very rich?

He says we should all look at the facts in an election -and follow the advice of experts.Oh? And where are we going to get these facts and this advice in the pages or your partisan and propagandizing newspaper? The only "experts" you have ever discussed are the ones approved by your boss.

And with the high rates of illiteracy and functional illiteracy in this province, where are you going to find the numbers of people required to understand "expert" advice, or to judge it.

Yes, Norbert, this province is politically rotten. But don't chip away at the rot. You'll hurt yourself.

Oh, and for readers, don't choose a party by looking for the one that has neat ideas. You start with each party's view of what a society is, of what obligations we have to each other, and what obligations, then, the party has to all of us. It's called a philosophy. And neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have one.

I don't know why Alec Bruce wrote his column. It's about marijuana, and relies heavily on a column by Margeret Wente, a columnist at The Globe, a person whose columns I learned long ago not to read.

Justin Ryan has a column on language that seems to have no point. It ends with a statement about being tolerant and helpful with immigrants who are new to either French or English. No doubt we should be. But I don't see anything in the article that leads to that conclusion.

Canada&World's page 1 has a good example of how propaganda has taken over our language. The headline is "Harper announces funds to fight terrorism." Gee. Does that mean he's going to invade the US because of its indiscriminate slaughter of men, women and children by the millions in place like Vietnam, Guatemala, Iraq, Afghanistan, and its teams of assassination squads all over the world? Its massive torture programme? (The only person jailed for that is the man who revealed it was going on.)

He also says there is no legitimate reason for Canadians to become involved in terrorist movements. Oh. And what was the Canadian bombing of Libya, and now of Syria and Iraq? What was our role in Afghanistan? All war is terrorism. It's supposed to be.  No legitimate reason for Canadians to be involved in this? Quite so. Canada had no legitimate reason for killing in Libya or Syria or Iraq or Afghanistan.

But Harper has his own language in which words have special meanings. "Terrorism" to our politicians and news media means Muslims. And not even all Muslims. The king of Saudi Arabia beheads people almost every day (Sometimes for not obeying the national dress code.)  But they don't get reported in our press. However, when beheading is done by ISIS, the story is in every news medium - and you can probably watch them on youtube.

"Terrorist" now has a new meaning. It doesn't man a person who terrorizes. It means a Muslim AND one who is not on our side. In using the words "terrorist" and "legitimate", Harper is talking propaganda. And The Canadian Press and other news media help him by using those words in the new sense he has given them.

Harper says terrorism is unacceptable to Canada and Canadians. Very true. So when do we bring home our air force terrorists, and when to we invade the US to stop its terrorism?

B3 has the story of Harper speaking to a Jewish audience in Montreal. He badly wants the Jewish vote. That's why he has, more than any other world leader, talked big about his love for Israel. There was a time when Jewish audiences were pretty bright. I spoke to them hundreds of times - and you had to know your stuff to speak to a Jewish audience. But there's now a Montreal Jewish audience that believes a person like Harper. It doesn't occur to them that if this were 1938, a Harper would be catering to the many, many Jew-haters in the Canada of that time to get their vote.

A story worth reading is on B5. It's about the California drought which is very close to turning that state into a desert, incapable of producing food, and soon to be incapable of supplying drinking water to its cities.

That has very serious implications for us. California is going to want water from Canada - and that could have serious implications for our water supply. I'm not sure that any responsible Canadian government could offer the kind of deal that California would demand.  Then what?

Well, if "don't worry about the future" Harper is PM, he will agree to a deal that could turn into a disaster for Canada. And if it's not Harper and there is no deal? The US will take it by force. That's a reality that I'll be writing about on Sunday.

As always, the Irving press is most remarkable for the stories it does not have. On Wednesday evening, Maude Barlow and others spoke at a public meeting sponsored by the Moncton chapter of the Council of Canadians. It was at Central United Church, and the audience was large - large enough to fill the ground floor.

The speakers touched on a number of points of urgent concern for the future of this country - environment, resources, fishery.... I saw at least two reporters, there. I assumed they were from the Irving press. But on Thursday, there was nothing about it in the TandT. And nothing today. How could that not be reported?

A3 had room for a big story (with photo) of a Norwegian living in Halifax  who will come to the FIFA events to cheer Norway. A6 had a big story about a young man who lost an appeal of his sentence for illegal clam-fishing. Yep. that's the motto of the Irving press. Keep 'em in the dark.

If Irving and a group of business friends passed through Moncton and stopped off to use a public urinal, there would be a banner headline on the front page, with photos of Irving and his "relieved" friends.

But the Council of Canadians? Not a peep. The boss wouldn't like it. Way to go, all of you, especially "blood and guts" Cunningham.

In the last thirty or forty years, there has been a revolution over most of the world. The very wealthy have largely destroyed democracy, and now run the world with a view only to their own greed. And they are too greedy to see the consequences of their own greed. That's what the non-stop wars are about. That's what assassination squads, drones, starvation and untreated illness, cluster bombs and maybe nuclear bombs are about. That's what all the dead children are about. (And why are the self-righteous who carry 'right to life posters' not protesting the mass murder of Muslim children and babies. Don't they have a right to life?)

The cruelty and destruction and the refusal to deal with challenges like climate change that has been forced on this world for the last several centuries was created and is still being created by very wealthy people with no morality and no sense of responsibility who have been allowed to run free with no controls at all. Now, the ruin that they have created is moving in on us. And it is going to be quite terrible.
Lucky we have blood and guts Norbert to tell it like it is.