Tuesday, June 2, 2015

June 2: Lord, love a duck.

Banner headline, page 1. "Events centre still in holding pattern". Translation - "nothing has happened".

And so we get a big story on the front page, telling us that nothing has happened. And the rest of the story tells us nothing we didn't know already. Apparently, Smirky Goguen is working on the case for us to get federal money for the centre. But. as usual, he is quoted as saying nothing in particular and, as for him intervening with Harper, it's hard to believe that Harper even knows who he is.

The continued story from that headline is on A4 with it's own headline 'We are closer to realizing this important project'. That's a bad headline because, you know, it gives the false impression that we actually are closer to - something - when it's actually just a quotation from the irrelevant Goguen.

Why on earth would the paper run a story that tells us nothing as ist front page header?

Because it gives them a chance to pump up the demand for a centre. That's why. It's propaganda for the centre.

Another front page flash is that the US ambassador, speaking in Moncton, said that New Brunswick is a valuable trade partner. What did they expect him to say? That New Brunswickers are a bunch of louts whose province bores American tourists to tears?

The only two news stories of importance in the whole section don't appear until B3.  The Francophone teachers are taking the provincial government to court for its failure to give it adequate funding for literacy and for classrooms supplies. That's certainly more important than anything the ambassador or Goguen had to say.

Below that, Green Party leader David Coon argues for greater control of pesticides used for lawn and garden care. It's a good point, first because there are some 'pests' we actually need and, second, because lawns covered in pesticide can be dangerous places for your children. Unfortunately, Coon deals with onlyone type of pesticide.
The editorial page is pretty bland stuff. As for Commentary...

It begins with yet another sentimental commentary about the killing of three mounties last June. This is the sixth or seventh such piece in less than a week, and I suspect there's more to come. I note that the person who wrote it is also on staff as editor-at-large. In other words, this is another case of Irving cheapness in forcing an employee to do two jobs for a single pay.

Louise Gilbert's column, Seniority Rules, is its usual informed and useful advice. This time it's about the hazards of summer, especially heat, for seniors. But she thinks we're a bunch of softies who have to be careful on hot days  that can rise as high as 30 degrees centigrade. Heck. In a Hong Kong summer, it's often 30 degrees AT NIGHT.

Alec Bruce's column is a difficult one. It appears to support renewable energy - sometimes. And it also seems to deride it. As well, the prose is more than a little complex for this province where half of the population can't read the words on a movie ticket. Sentences are wordy often with words unfamiliar to the average reader. There is some useful opinion here; but I would guess that not 10% of readers will understand it.
Canada&World begins with an important story on B1. It's about the residential schools we forced native children into, and about the terrible damage that did to thousands of lives. Well, yes. We should look at it, and we should apologize. But, oh, it's a far, far bigger problem that that. So big. that "I'm sorry" should not be considered a beginning but something long understood.

There were whole native societies, civilizations, that we destroyed to create all that we have. Offering an apology or a payment isn't going to fix that. We have to give these people  money, but also power and territory to build their own worlds and societies.

B5 has the story that despite US Secretary of State's bicycle accident, it will not hinder the nuclear talks with Iran. How can the news services keep calling these nuclear talks? It's long since been revealed (by US government sources) that Iran does not have nuclear weapons, and has not been developing them. When will the news services catch up to the news?

There's really nothing else in this section that tells us anything.Nobody who's reading this paper can have the faintest idea what is happening in Moncton, let alone the rest of the world.

So, to get your $2.99 worth, take the time to read student Columnist Jana Giles. It's a sensitive and thoughtful piece about a time that most of us have experienced - as children, as adults.

She writes of leaving home, becoming her own person. In her case, she left when she went to university. But, at some time, all of us leave home. We have to. We have to seek out our own lives, our own potentials... And it's also tough on those who can only watch them go. We know that going is a happy time for the child that once just longed for you to pick him or her up. When I left, I went from being the child who once saw and adored only my parents. But we have to go and, inevitably, we become strangers to them - and they strangers to us who left.

Ms. Giles, that's the germ of a really important column. I can't do any more with it than you have. But I suspect you can.

Their are at least two stories I should like to see the Irving press take a serious and honest look at.

1. During the great anti-shale gas demonstration of last year, I saw that mass of peaceful people, some kneeling on the road, in front of them the shields and helmets of riot police - and spread out behind them, the special police in military camouflage holding their semi-automatic, combat rifles.

I thought the military-style camouflage a dangerous sign, the beginning of our police as a force not simply to protect the law - but to protect the law against us. After all, we know who makes the law in this province. And it isn't us.

But there's was another something I should have thought of. Whose idea was it to send those militarized police to a confrontation with ordinary and almost all peaceful people? What was it they were supposed to do?

For a start, the camouflage was pretty silly since they were standing in an open field. They were like some police in the US who wear camouflage suits on city streets - because they are intended to intimidate people. And the outfits send the message what we are the enemy.

Then there were their rifles. What were they supposed to do with them? Please don't tell me they were snipers to pick out dangerous people in the crowd. Those weren't sniper rifles. And snipers rarely stand to shoot because standing is far the most inaccurate shooting position there is. Real snipers use a heavier gun, lying down, and  with a bi-pod to hold the gun steady.

Worse, must worse, it is impossible to fire into a crowd, no matter how good a shot  you are, without killing innocent people. Had they ever been told to fire, the death toll could have been very high.

What idiot sent police riflemen into such a situation? Is this a standard practice? And if it is, what kind of a world is this we're creating? This was not a situation like the Justin Bourque one. In that case, where the police really needed rifles; they died because they were issued only pistols. But in the demonstration case, all the riot police were armed with pistols in case someone became uncontrollable. Even a rifleman would be unlikely to survive opening fire on dozens of pistol-armed police.

Those camouflaged police officers added nothing to the security of the situation. On the contrary, any use of them would almost certainly have led to disaster.

Who made the decision to send them? How far has this militarization of our police gone? Who is it the police are being trained to protect - us or those with wealth and power?

2. In World News, we need to be told news that helps us understand what is happening in this world and why.

Here's a starter. All but one of the  western empires which date back to Columbus have seen their day. Two world wars ended their rule and their looting of most of the world. The United States, the last of the western empires, had hoped to pick up the lost colonies of the west after 1945. (It already had Latin America, a foothold in the Pacific, and a strong position in the Middle East which it made stronger by replacing democracy in Iran with a dictator). As well, old British colonies like Canada, Australia, New Zealand easily fell into line  due to their reliance now on US protection.

But the US was blocked when India and China held it off - and began building their own power.
US big business saw the writing on the wall. It tried using force - as in Vietnam - but failed dismally. That gave rise to The American Century project, the drive to control the world economies - and again by force. It destroyed Iraq - which made no great difference except to increase the profits of the arms industry and oil billionaires, and create widespread fear and hatred of the US which has now led it into endless war.

But, as we've seen from its servants, Bush and Obama, big business has learned nothing from the experience. It is still bent on domination. That's what the Iran talks are really about - to force Iran away from the Asia-Russia circle.

In short, the American people have been abandoned so the arms and oil and mining industries can get all the money needed to fight the whole world - they think.

But the whole world is getting nervous. When the British governments began to realize, in the 1870s, that they could not maintain control of their empire, they wooed the US as a brother. (They got the brotherhood in world war two- but the price was that the US deliberately destroyed Britain economically.) The British and others have begun to worry about trusting to American power. That's why Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa have formed The New Development Bank. And Europeans have been moving their money to that bank, too. Britain, for example. The US, significantly, has not.

US power has rested in our lifetimes in its control of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. With those, it has been able to set the terms for world trade. Those days are over, perhaps with very serious results for the value of the dollar and for the terms of trade.

In short, we are watching the last of the western empires as it withers, and the rise of new centres of power.  Everybody is looking for which bandwagon to jump on.  The US? BRICS  (The Development Bank)?

Everybody is looking. That may explain the sudden militarism of Saudi Arabia. It may radically change our relationship with Israel. It might mean the British and the French and others will give up on their long wooing of the US, and switch sides.

There is no such thing as friendship between nations. Individually, we may well have friends. But, as nations, well, all nations work in their own interests. And if they are controlled by big business - as most of the significant powers are, then what big business wants becomes the national interest. (Though many Canadian haven't figured that out yet.)

We are well into a period of unpredictable change. And in the change, the US is, in reality, ruled by billionaires who have no concern for the American people or anybody else but themselves. They are reaching the point at which they will have choose between nuclear war soon, or some accommodation with the new world that is shaping.

And I think we know where Canada's prime minister stands (which also tells us where our big business leaders stand.)

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