Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May20: The big push is on...

Today, the front page headline is that Premier Gallant has called a meeting with mayor of Moncton and ta-da. ,member of parliament Goguen to have "sit-down" meeting (as opposed to a  hanging from tree branches meeting) to get the events centre under way.

And,ta-da. in case you missed the front page banner headline, there's another story on it by, ta-da. Brent Mazerolle on page A4.

And in case you miss both, there's an editorial about it, Wisely, it advises our politicians to set smart targets. True. Good targets are so much better than dumb ones.

 So much for news in section A. Unless you really, really care that there's a cat looking for a home.
Norbert has a very good column "Are we watching the U.S.A. consume itself from within?" He deals with the hundred or so gang members in Waco, Texas who fought a gang war killing nine. He points to Hollywood as a factor through its worship of violence, but wisely adds it's more than that. He concludes "Terrorists in far off lands are not the biggest threat in the U.S.A. today."

Indeed, they aren't. We are watching the disintegration of American society. It's encouraged by Hollywood, but rooted in hopelessness for most, a failing belief in democracy because most people realize now that their government is not really the one they elect, and they know the people who really rule are greedy and indifferent to them.  All that  is reflected in very low voter turnouts and in the fear and hatred of others generated by the news media and the government....

Putting people in jail won't work. The US already has more people in jail than any other country - and its crime rate is still soaring. No. This is a society that is collapsing because its real rulers are a ruling class of the very wealthy, and very, very greedy and with no moral values whatever.

Sort of like Canada under Harper.

Best column by Norbert I've ever seen.
Hump Cormier's column----well----he describes himself as a communications specialist. That's a person who has nothing to say, but has special training in saying nothing.

Below him is an article on health care by a man who has much to say - but really doesn't know how to communicate it. The column seems sensible and well-informed - but vague, and most unlikely to be read by most readers. This one comes from Troy Media, a source of very varied quality. But it does have the virtue of being cheap. Gotta run the Irving press like a business - even if its news isn't worth a damn. The important thing is to be cheap.

And another excellent column by Alec Bruce on how Harper keeps important information out of our reach.  This case particularly involves scientists doing research for the the government. Though it's done with our tax dollars, the scientists are not allowed to reveal anything to the public - or even to the scientific world. Why? Well, for a start, Harper does not want information about climate change or environmental damage from oil to get out to us common people. In effect, these scientists are being paid our money to do private research for Mr. Harper. That's like the case of Mike Duffy, only far more damaging to us.

Bruce is not optimistic that Canadians will do much about how Harper has made this into a police state with the whole public just puppets on his strings. And I'm afraid Bruce is right. Canadians are sleep-walking. Our voter turnout has been declining for years, It's quite possible it will dip below 50% in the next election - and will almost certainly be even worse in the US.

The news story Bruce's column is based on is at the bottom of p. B1.
B1 also has a story on how Saudi Arabia is continuing its aerial bombing of Yemen, And has yet to send in ground troops.It's possible to defeat a country only by bombing it. But it's a long way to do the job, and extremely indiscriminate in who it kills and how many.

It's hard to get a clear idea of what this is about. Saudi Arabia and Israel appear to be working together in the Middle East. They are also working together in defiance of Obama. It seems that the US has lost control of those two, but cannot afford to be seen as being in opposition to them. So it continues to supply Israel and Saudi Arabia with the weapons and munitions to do what the US doesn't want them to do. It's as though Israel and Saudi Arabia were the world super-powers, and the US their colony.

Their ultimate target is almost certainly Iran. Nuclear weapons have nothing to do with it. In fact, it's likely that Saudi Arabia with have nuclear weapons before Iran does - and Israel already has a couple of hundred of them.  Judging from the reaction of the American government, Israel and Saudi Arabia are the only two countries in the region allowed to have nuclear weapons.

Obama wants control of Iran. It's a control the US has wanted for sixty years. But he doesn't want a war because he knows that a war with Iran could trigger a nuclear war with Russia, China, and maybe India. Obama has been a diasppointingly ineffectual president. But unlike Netanyahu and the "King"
of Saudi Arabia, he is not insanely murderous. However, he's not in control of Saudi Arabia and Israel either - or even of his own government. And he most certainly is not in control of American oil billionaires.

And that's really about it for Canada&World news.
Did the Irving press miss anything? Well, yeah - for a start, I still haven't seen its big story about how Canadian corporations have $200 billion dollars in tax havens. Nor have we been told how many of those billions might be Irving billions. C'mon, I'm sure people would be proud to know that a New Brunswick corporation really knows how to save money on taxes. Ya gotta thank
 them. That's what makes it possible for us to close schools and cut back on medicare.

Then, for those who still think that police brutality in the US is a myth, and that blacks get equal treatment, enjoy the video below:

And whatever happened to the story about the airline that was shot down in Ukraine? It must be at least a year since it was put into the hands of experts to find out how it had been shot down - and that would give us a strong clue to who did it. Why has there been no announcement all this time?  I mean, President Obama, who isn't an expert and was thousands of miles away, was able to announce within a hour of the shooting that the Russians did it. How come the experts still haven't figured it out? And how come our news media haven't been asking these questions?

Then there's the case of the U.S. selling cluster bombs to the Saudis to slaughter Yemenis. These are an extreme and long term threat, especially to children. That's why they're  banned under international law. That's why Canada voted in favour of that ban. So how come Harper hasn't said anything? And how come no reporter has asked him?

Harper has announced that he will use the anti-terrorism legislation to charge people who criticize Israel? What counts as a criticism? Well. anything that Harper or Netanyahu doesn't like. It becomes a hate crime. Want to hate Muslims? No problem. You can probably even get a government grant for it. But, in the whole, wide world, Israel will be the only country in the world that it is a crime to criticize.  The news media, in general, gave it a line or two -and forgot it.

Hey! Where does Harper get the right to tell us what we're allowed to say? It's certainly contrary to the constitution. And it's a hate act in itself since it encourages hatred of Muslims. This is not the act of a democratic leader. It is the act of a dictator. And it's not just this law alone. It's also the many acts of repression and denial of rights this leads to.

Doesn't anybody in the Irving press have the intellectual capacity or honesty to write about this?

And as for the Canadian people, they're the ones who have Harper leading in the polls. This is not the Canada I was born into.

Incidentally, if Harper gets this through, the United Church of Canada becomes criminal. At its higher levels, it has been very critical of Israeli treatment of Palestinians. Pope Francis, too, would certainly have to avoid Canada.  Under Harper law, he would be a criminal for recognizing the state of Palestine.

I also have an important article on what is happening to American universities as they become schools for the rich only. Already, a term of just a little over three months can cost $30,000. That means a four year degree could be close to a quarter million - and it's going up.

Odd. Cuba can do it free as a public service. So can Finland. So could The Netherlands when I taught there. So can Mexico, Norway, Austria, Sweden, Germany.

(There are also free, on line courses offered by many universities. There is some value to these, but not much. Real learning demands interaction between teachers and students.  It's also important to have interaction between students. And video can't do that.)

 But the richest country in the world which can afford more weapons than any nation in history can't educate its own people.Even now, there are Americans who retire, still owing money on their student loans. I don't see a future ahead for that sort of country.

And Canada is going in the same direction. But this is a pretty long article. So I'll save it for tomorrow.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on voter turnout in the next Canadian and American elections. Both have been sagging for years. US voter turnout last time was in the 40% to 50% range. Canada's was a little over 50%. For comparison, Vietnam (which the US made a dictatorship) has fought off the US and has a turnout of 99%. And, no, it's not compulsory to vote in Vietnam. In Haiti's brief life as a democracy, voting turnout about 60%. However, the US put a stop to that when it invaded and installed a new, more American government. Voter turnout, now that Haiti is back under American control, has been below 30%.

Is that an election issue? You bet it is.  A low turnout is a danger signal of either a fit of national stupor or a sign of declining belief in government. And, if it's the latter, you're going to see serious social disorder.

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