Saturday, June 13, 2015

June 13: A very long blog...

...made necessary  by my response to a reader. It was too long to go as a direct reply to the question. So you'll find it at the end of this post.
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Section A news is full of exciting stuff about the FIFA games. Two teams have arrived early in Moncton for their game on Monday. ( Well, yeah. I guess they didn't want to miss the shuttle bus).
And you can't bring bottles to the game. And visitors might spend $250 each. (or they might not).

There's over a half page about  a Moncton soccer coach who is all the way out in Edmonton for an international soccer clinic. And she's meeting with "high level" people. That's almost as good as being 'respected' or 'noted'.

There's still no mention Dr. Cleary who risked her life to spend six months of hard and dangerous work in Africa. Of course, she probably met only poor and sick people. And that's not "high level". In fact, it's not even 'respected' or 'noted'.

Page 1 has a big photo of people painting the red posts  around a fire hydrant as their contribution to the " Day of Caring". Well, that's more important than going to Africa for six months. Alas! I couldn't see the photo because there was a big sticker on it telling me to buy a Mazda. However, connoisseurs will find another exciting photo of people painting red posts on A11.
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The editorial is another small-town booster for Moncton, the greatest, little city in the world.

Norbert Cunningham shoots and scores again with a well-argued column about the misdeeds of our senators.

Brent Mazerolle's commentary is reasonable in tone - though it loses track of the central issue. It's about the failure of the higher command of the RCMP to supply police with adequate weapons. He says "reporters have a right to keep pursuing the issue since the RCMP remains tight-lipped about it."

Brent, the question is not whether reporters have a right to pursue the issue. The question is "Why  don't they pursue this issue?" or any other issue? That's the problem with the Irving press.

Bill Belliveau is superb on the CBC's firing of CBC's Evan Solomon. He was fired by Harper, working through the pigeons Harper has packed the CBC's board with. He was fired because he asked questions that Harper didn't want asked. This is well worth a read.

Like Bill Belliveau and Norbert Cunningham today, Gwynne Dyer writes a commentary that is a commentary. He takes a major news event - in this case the Turkish election - and explains its meaning within the bigger picture. News tell us what happened. Commentary tell us what if means to us.
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There's  no mention of much of anything in Canada&World News. Slightly over half of this 'news section' is actually ads.

Harper has agreed to reduce fossil fuel use for energy 50% by 2050. And to end it by 2100. Let's see, now. That means continuing to live with heavy emissions for 35 years, then to end them in 85 years. Hey! Let's not rush into this.. The story is also padded with comments by energy executives who tell us they're all in favour of cutting back on fossil fuels. Always have been. Yeah. And Irving has been a leading figure in the fight against climate change. Yeah.

Of course, this rosy picture would be more convincing it it weren't coming from Harper and Gallant and oil execs. And even more convincing if we occasionally had some (honest) news about exactly what our governments and oil execs are doing to de-carbonize our atmosphere, and some expert and honest opinion on how much time we have to do it. The world can change a great deal in 85 years - or even 35.

Page B1 does, though, have an excellent story on how the trial of Omar Khadr was an illegal farce, that it was not and is not a war crime to throw a grenade (if he actually did so) at people who are charging you and shooting at you. It's also illegal to try a child of 15 on such a charge. It was illegal to put him in Guantanamo. And Canada should never have jailed a person found guilty of a crime that doesn't exist, and found guilty in a military court notorious for illegal convictions.

But Harper will still press ahead with his case to keep Khadr in prison. Harper was born to be a maniac dictator. He also realizes it is his job to serve US presidents, not Canadian citizens.

B7 has a news story about Harper's visit with the Pope.  It's not really a news story. It's really a commentary. And it's both intelligent and honest. And it's an eye-opener.

What's most intriguing is that the visit lasted only ten minutes. It is not possible that any serious discussion took place in that short time. And since the Pope, as host, is the one who defines the time for such meetings, this suggests that he saw no need to discuss anything with Harper. The photo shows Harper and his wife, smiling for the camera. The Pope, between them, is not smiling.

The most important ( and least informative) story is the last one in section B8. "House rejects Obama on trade authority."  It's played as largely a defeat for Obama, and as a direct attack on him by a majority of his own party. There's no doubt that he suffered a defeat and a huge one. In fact, Obama may well have nailed down his spot as the worst president in American history. Polls show he now is rejected not only by his own party, but by a majority of Democrat voters.

But that's not what's important about this story - and important for all of us. It's the biggest story in decades, possibly in all history. Funny we haven't heard much about it in the Irving papers.

Canada, the US, Britain and others are negotiating massive trade agreements. We're not being told anything about them.  It's all a secret. That's why Obama wanted to "fast track" the deals through Congress - send them through with no chance of people learning what they are first.

In fact, these are the ultimate free trade deals which destroy the right of any government to control its economic policy and its environmental policy. Business is left free to do anything it wants with no obligation of any sort to anybody. The deals also including privatizing almost everything - CBC of course, all energy, all schools, all medical care.

To make sure we are absolutely unable to do anything to stop this, private corporations get the right to sue us for billions if we, in any way, interfere. That means the whole world will be ruled by big business owned by an aristocracy of wealth. Democracy and national government will cease to mean anything.

None of the above is an exaggeration. Big business has been working toward this since the 1960s. It's a system that has already been imposed on countries like Haiti and Guatemala.  I know it sounds crazy. That's because it is crazy.

And what  will it lead to? Violence. Lots of violence. The violence of police being converted, as they already have been in the US and as they were at Rexton, to enforce the laws AGAINST us. We'll see social breakdown of the kind we're just getting introduced to in the US. It's all driven by a greed and a power-madness that smothers intelligence.

The article below is about this. It's by Ralph Nader. Its complexity of style occasionally gets in the way of comprehension. But it's worth struggling through.

(Oh, I know I shouldn't read Ralph Nader. I should read something better informed - like the editorials in the Irving press.)

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/121967/whats-really-going-trade-services-agreement
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The sermonette on the Faith page is the usual sing-songy and childish chant, "I-believe-in-God-so-I'm-going-to-heaven-and-you-aren't." Has it never occurred to these door-to-door salesmen for Christ that believing implies certain standards of behaviour from us? That maybe we should not hate so much? or kill so much? or destroy our own people so much? or, for some journalists, lie so much?
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There's so much else to talk about. There's yesterday's story about Moncton building the housing scheme of the future. What's that supposed to mean? What is the city's idea of what the future will be like, or what it will require? Are we going to live in a future of remote, suburban-style areas that can be reached only by burning fossil fuels?

If the city council had been developing for the future in the Moncton of 1900, we would now have a Main St. lined with hitching posts for horses.

But time flies, and this is already long. So I'll close with the item below which is my response to a reader who asked where she could read about wars being caused by greed for control of markets. My reply was too long to be accepted by the computer as a reply. So here it is.
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Sure - though it's not even necessary to read a book.

Columbus murdered uncounted numbers of natives of the Caribbean and South America. That's war. The reason was to provide him with gold. That's war to take control of an economy.

The western powers invaded Africa to take people as slaves that would provide cheap labour. That's war for economic reasons.

Then there's the opium wars of Britain and other western powers to force China not only to make the importation of opium legal, but to buy specified amounts each year, That was in effect for almost a century.An easy site for this is
http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/history/opium-wars.html

The Haiti economy was owned by American and European business which was protected by a dictators chosen and paid for by the US government.When Haitians rose against the dictator and elected their own government. US presidents made it clear from the start they did not like this. Then,as the elected government moved to provide public schooling, and some health care, and minimum wages and a minimum working age for children, there was suddenly an invasion of the armed thugs who had worked for the dictator.


The US sent troops to "restore peace". They ignored the thugs, though, and arrested and deported the elected president. Then the US set up a rigged election to elect a new president. (Only about 5% voted.) They also invited the former dictator to come back. And Canada played a supporting role in that.

The same thing happened in Guatemala about 1950. The elected president wanted to build public schools, etc. So the US president called him a communist, and a threat to American freedom. And an army with American equipment suddenly appeared to overrun a Guatemala that had virtually no army. The US did worse in the 1990s under CIA chief George Bush Sr. when it massacred over 200,000 (nobody knows the real number) civilians who objected to the severe pollution of their country by American AND CANADIAN big business, and the brutal working conditions at extremely low pay. Children commonly had to work in the mines (American and Canadian) from the age of five - and they still do.


The Boer war was an open theft of South Africa gold. Rhodesia was similar, but for diamonds.

Even worse was, and is, the history of Congo for the past century and a half with the killing and exploiting uncounted millions to get control of that country's oil and mines. Social programmes are practically illegal. Children are forced to work for foreign companies (including Canadian ,and people you may know of). They commonly start at age five, working in dangerous and toxic environments for pennies a day. Few can even hope for a long life - or medicare - or food.

HItler and Stalin have nothing on us.

In Canada and the US (and Britain and others) big business buys governments, and uses them to, among other things, fight its wars.

Iraq was about reinforcing the American and British grip on middle east oil. All of today's boundary lines in Africa were created by business using its control over the new "nations' to loot their wealth and labour. Britain even created a "royal family" for Saudi Arabia to squelch any ideas about democracy.

"Free" trade is just the latest wrinkle in the game. Under Mulroney,  It was designed to give big business the right to go wherever labour was cheapest, ridding the nuisance to big business of putting up with the nonsense of paying taxes for education and health care, and all those goodies for welfare bums.

This has now taken a giant step with massive trade treaties which, in effect, make environmental regulations impossible, which open all public services to privatization (CBC, of course, ALL schooling, medical care, prisons, even police forces - and some of this is already happening in Britain.)

And all of this is done through news media that made us concentrate on hatred and fear - exactly as Hitler did in his persecution of Jews..

There are people to hate and fear in this world. But they are a lot closer to home than we are told.

Ah, and in Canada, the whole idea of reserves for native peoples was to give a free hand to land speculators. And the wars were to get their land and, even more important, to get a stranglehold on the fur trade.  That's why my ancestors in New France routinely raided farms and villages, massacring everybody, including babies, to get that stranglehold on the fur trade.  By the 1870s, that was being augmented by starvation to death of the native peoples on the plains to get them out of the way of the railways - which also needed most native land to, as a sideline, sell it to immigrants.

Then you also have outfits like the International Monetary Fund - really a collection of bankers who control the lending of money to developing countries. Countries who need the money soon learn that, to get it, they have to promise not to waste any of it on things like health care or education, and not to tax the poor, little super-rich - oh, and to be sure to give specially nice terms to American investors.

A lot of all this is on the web on perfectly respectable sites.

"Lies my teacher told me" by James W. Loewen is a good source  for such behaviour within the US.

He's also right about some thing else. Most history books are boring. Most history classes are boring. That's because they are so often nothing but boring and preachy "facts" that for all their length, tell us very little about the behaviour of people in the past. It's like those boring November 11s when we remember those who served and died. But when it comes to why we SENT them to die,  it becomes just babble and myth that has nothing to do with any reality.

It's also racist. Germans are cruel (or were). Muslims are cruel and evil. Russians, too. But white, North American Christians are never evil. No. We fight only when we're viciously attacked by Syrians and Yemenis and Guatemalans and Haitians who attack us daily, swimming their camels across the ocean to spread havoc in Canada.

For Asia, a good source is "From the ruins of empire" by Pankaj Mishra. This book also has, at the end, a long, long list of sources expressing the Asian point of view.

Related to this topic, but not touching on the war aspect, it Terry Copp, "The Anatomy of poverty in Montreal". This deals with the sufferings of the working class in Montreal from 1900 to 1929". Those were the days when a teen-ager,  working long hours for low pay at an unprotected machine lost his arm to the machine.

He was immediately fired and sent home. And that was the end of the company's obligation.

As I would learn, such conditions went on long, long, after 1929. And I even worked for a time in such a factory and on such a machine.

A similar book by L.M.Bliss and Michael Grayson handles 1929 and the  30s with "The Wretched of Canada". These are letters to Prime Minister Bennett from those suffering from the great depression.

To his credit, Bennett answered every one, and often returned the letter with a personal  cheque. (And he never called himself a philanthropist or pushed his way into a hall of fame. Never even built a chapel and named it after himself.) I have a lot of respect for R,B,Bennett of  Hopewell Cape of Albert County. Though he became a very wealthy man, his childhood was not one of private schools, expensive universities, and then a plum job in daddy's company. He grew up in poverty. And he never forgot what it meant to be poor.

He was slow - like everybody else - to catch on to how to deal with the depression. And he seemed arrogant (which he was) and unfeeling (which he wasn't). The unfeeling ones in those years - and now - were the very rich who were born very rich - like the Eaton family, once of department store fame who used the depression to make fortunes out of exploiting the poor. Bennett, who remembered poverty, did react to the depression - if too late to save his government.

Unlike our present day journalists and politicians, he would not have had much respect for professor Saillant's Off the Cliff.

There's another book I have but can''t find. It's photos of the dreadful homes of the poor of Canada in the 1920s. Uncleanable, foul-aired, unhealthy, terrible plumbing (if any), primitive heating and cooking facilities, dangerous stairways. They remind me of some homes I've seen in Moncton, the city that really, really needs a new hockey rink.

I'll try to find that book

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